Monthly Playlist: July 2021

We’ve got an announcement coming very soon. In totally unrelated news that definitely in no way relates to that announcement, here’s another monthly playlist, featuring some more picks from our as yet unannounced new guitarist.

IMG_9192sq

Joe – Vocals

Voices – Footsteps

Emotional closer to the last album Frightened hits hard. Very much looking forward to the new album this year.

Raging Speedhorn – Me and You Man

I love Speedhorn, one of the first bands I saw live. Consistently great fun and down to earth attitude, deserve to be much bigger than they are.

Bloodyard – Mortem

Lancaster old school death metal. Their livestreams have been a shining light during lockdown.

Cannibal Corpse – I Cum Blood

Sometimes you just fancy a classic…

Draconian – Moon Over Sabaoth

I’ve had this stuck in my head for ages now. Gothic majesty, haunting cleans and demonic growls make for a gorgeous bit of dark metal.

IMG_9488

Richard – Bass

The Body – A Lament

Even by their own disgusting standards, the new Body album is pretty extreme in terms of pushing their equipment to breaking point in terms of volume and distortion, and it creates a really weird and uncomfortable extra edge to their already nasty sound. This track has a slightly Jesu-ish melodic aspect to it, too.

Hong Kong Express – Humid Summer

As is the case every year, the don of dreampunk/ambient vaporwave himself, Mr HKE/Hong Kong Express/Subaeris/about a billion other projects has released a stupid number of albums in 2021 already, and it’s a hefty task to separate out the stuff I actually want to listen to from his recent left turn into wilfully offputting nonsense. However, the album L.Y.F. is a step right back into his heyday of wonderfully atmospheric, melancholic, urban nostalgia.

Violet Cold – Be Like Magic

I’ve always liked Violet Cold but I’ve never been fully invested, and it’s the latest, strongly pro-equality, LGBTQIA+ focused album Empire of Love (and it’s inevitable pathetic backlash from the darkest and most closed-minded corners of the online metal community) that has prompted me to properly dive into the catalogue. This is my favourite off the new record, partly because it is just a gorgeous blackgaze track and also partly because of the troll-baiting electronic/rap section.

Kessler – Moonlight Branches

Take the euphoric, ambient-laden tech-house vibes of Bicep and turn up the drum’n’bass element and you’re pretty close to the infectiously melodic sound of Kessler. I simply cannot get enough of this new EP for big time vibes.

The Angelic Process – Coma Waering

It’s pretty unlike me for four out of my five tracks to be new releases, so I need to bring it back to the early 2000s here, and an enduring favourite record of mine that I’ve been getting immersed in again this month. Saturated to within an inch of it’s life, The Angelic Process’ sound is so sonically dense and overwhelming that Coma Waering feels more apocalyptic and overpowering than even the most outwardly evil and misanthropic of other metal bands could ever hope to be. If you’ve ever wondered what drowning in lava whilst having a religious experience would feel like, look no further.

IMG_9472

Nick – Guitar

Tephra – How The West Was Lost

Oh how I wish this band would reunite, though I suspect the chances of that are close to nil. Still at least I have this, one of my all time favourite sludge records to fall back on.

Sleep Token – Alkaline

A fairly brief taster of what is to come on their upcoming second album, with Vessel’s outrageously strong vocals as ever being the focal point of the track. Would like to see some progression from Sundowning in the next few tracks that drop but this is a nice opening flavour.

Ride – Leave Them All Behind

A gem from the early days of shoegaze before they broke up and one of them joined Oasis. Such a move is forgiven by the grace of how good those first few Ride albums were.

Boss Keloid – Gentle Clovis

Honestly don’t think any sludge band are as instantly recognisable from a single riff as Boss Keloid, barring maybe Mastodon or Baroness, and they have worldwide on their side. Family The Smiling Thrush is yet another intricate garden of vivid, phosphorescent flora with some of the most exquisite musicianship and vocal prowess you’ll hear on any album this year.

Baddiel, Skinner & The Lightning Seeds – Three Lions

I don’t think this one really needs an explanation.

196-1969803_mystery-person-png-mystery-man-transparent-png-download

??? – Guitar

Sojourner  – Perennial

You’re standing on a hillside. Behind you, a ruined keep crumbles into the earth, swallowed by greenery. Ahead, giants stalk the landscape, a monolithic and mysterious presence. The air smells of wet loam and moss. Suddenly, an ethereal voice pierces the air, uplifted in song – adventure awaits. This song is 100% my shit!

And So I Watch You From Afar – BEAUTIFULUNIVERSEMASTERCHAMPION

I spent much of this month trying to remember the name of this song/band, only remembering that it had a long and ebullient title and I enjoyed it. Once I rediscovered the band, I remembered why it stuck with me – bouncy, instrumental rock with an ear for a good hook and some big, lovely guitar chords.

Hail Spirit Noir – Mannequins

Hail Spirit Noir are one of my favourite bands (their last album Eden in Reverse is fantastic, weird, and unique) – this new track from them goes in much more of a synthwave direction, which isn’t what I was expecting, but it works. Come for the synth beats and floaty vocals, stay for the theremin.

Clutch – Electric Worry (Weathermaker Vault Series)

Clutch have an insanely deep discography and keep putting out album after album of bangers, but this track will always be one of their best. This re-recording captures the magic of the original while freshening up the production for guaranteed good vibes.

Zombi – Mangler

Another instrumental track, this was a Spotify discovery that just slaps – big atmosphere, some groove and a lot of interesting soundscapes to splash around in. Plus the cover has flying manta rays on and they’re one of my favourite aquatic creatures!

Monthly Playlist: June 2021

More songs and words from camp Ba’al, this time featuring some tracks picked by our as-yet-unrevealed new guitarist. Guesses on a postcard, please.

IMG_9472

Nick – Guitar

Bossk – Menhir

This band. This fucking band. Bossk were my gateway to post metal and they’ve occupied a private room with a mini-fridge and snacks in my heart ever since. As one of the lucky few to have already heard their new album (low key journo flex) I’m here to say it proper slaps.

Erdve – Lavondėmės

Order yourself an ice cold slapuccino to go because this shit is heavy and it waits for no one. The Erdve bus has no designated stops, you just run and jump through the open windows and hope it throws you back out somewhere near your planned destination. It won’t matter once you’ve arrived though, your coffee is everywhere and you’ve been decapitated.

Eomac – What Does Your Heart Tell You?

This makes for a very pleasant interval. I asked some folks for something to fill my Max Cooper shaped IDM hole and Eomac delivered with a smile. Really great electronic album that flew under my radar.

Dystopia – Razernij, Deel I

A lot of people don’t like the brass instrumentation we’re getting more and more of in black metal these days, but I for one am completely hooked on that shit. Dicks out for the trumpet.

John Denver – Take Me Home, Country Roads

We watched Whisper of The Heart recently, which provides all the heartwarming whimsy that one would expect of a Studio Ghibli film, and this track gets played several times throughout (albeit with different lyrics). It gives me wholesome yankee-doodle-dandy vibes.

IMG_9488

Richard – Bass

Dodecahedron – Dodecahedron – An Ill-Defined Air of Otherness

At the online-only version of Roadburn in April, one of my favourite discoveries was the band Autarkh, who will no doubt end up in a future playlist of mine. However, looking into them I found that they are essentially an offshoot of Dodecahedron, a now-defunct Dutch avant-garde black metal band, whose last album I am now hooked on. Crushing, progressive, mechanical but also rich with melody and ambience – all boxes ticked.

Clown Core – End

Look, I get it. They’re basically a joke band, and both Nick and I have talked about them here before. But I am on a mission to make people realise that these two be-masked maniacs are actually musical geniuses. This song – funnily enough the penultimate track from their 18-minute 2020 opus Van – is a gorgeous ambient piano piece, which is a glorious composition on it’s own and only moreso when you take it in after ten tracks of insanely chaotic grinding electronic jazz metal played by two people in clown masks being driven around in a people carrier. Get with it.

Gjon’s Tears – Tout l’Univers

Though my Eurovision favourites this year were Go_A from Ukraine and Daði Freyr from Iceland (and yes, I did also have a soft spot for the unashamed nu metal of the Finnish entry), this soaring entry from Switzerland is the one that’s been stuck in my head since the big night. I was really rooting for it when it became clear it had a shot near the end, and I was sorely disappointed when it was beaten to the post by the Italian imitation of Buckcherry.

Anna Von Hausswolff – Deathbed

I’ve been slowly immersing myself in the musical world of AVH this year, and this is a choice cut from her most organ-heavy work. It’s ethereal, droning and artistic darkwave/dream pop driven by a massive church organ, and with vocals that have more than an air of Kate Bush around them.

Muse – Stockholm Syndrome

In the absence of live music, my partner and I have had more than a few evenings in the last 18 months watching big budget live DVD performances accompanied by and ill-advised number of beers, but the ideal crowd size (two). Muse’s HAARP performance was the latest, and I’ve been really hammering the riffiest tracks off Absolution since. Without any serious thought or consideration for other contenders, I’m going to go ahead and claim that this song has the best chorus of any guitar-based song in the 2000s.

IMG_9192sq

Joe – Vocals

Portal – Writhen

Lovecraftien cacophony and the musical equivalent of all that goes bump in the night sure to make you poo your pants.

Monstrosity – Remnants of Divination

Unfairly regarded as a training centre for musicians before they join a bigger death metal band, Monstrosity never get their due. This track is the perfect mid-paced combo of technical and catchy.

Grima – Rotten Garden

Fantastic Russian atmospheric black metal with added squeezebox and I Am Groot masks.

Show Me A Dinosaur – Hum

Another hit from Russia. Brilliant post black metal from the album Plantgazer that beautifully captures the feeling of life in lockdown.

Epica – The Skeleton Key

Nobody does symphonic bombast quite as well. Huge chorus, massive hooks and subtle use of a childrens’ choir make this track a joy.

196-1969803_mystery-person-png-mystery-man-transparent-png-download

??? – Guitar

Heretical Sect – Ritual Inversion

Haunting melodies, guttural vocals, fantastic artwork and a powerful narrative underpinning their work. This blackened death-doom act from Santa Fe were a Spotify discovery and the album has been on rotation since.

Enslaved – Roots of the Mountain

For my money, RIITIIR is still Enslaved’s crowning achievement – monolithic and anthemic in equal measure. This sprawling 9-minute epic evokes Norse mythology and pairs it with a feeling of vast landscapes and defiance – try not to snarl along to “HARK! MEN OF FAITH!”

Sigur Rós – Brennistein

Sigur Rós aren’t known for being the heaviest of bands – they’re much happier to stick with uplifting and transcendent. This track, the opener off 2013’s Kveikur, was definitely a shift – a huge, stabbing bass line and some thundering drums lay the groundwork before the falsetto, soaring vocals take you to another world.

Lustmord/Karin Park – Hiraeth

Haunting, ethereal vocals over deep, droning atmospheres? Where do I sign? This is a collaboration for the ages and perfect music to relax to.

Zeal & Ardor – Run

Zeal & Ardor continue to evolve, with each album developing the themes and sounds of the previous one. This is the first track they’ve dropped from their upcoming third album, and if this is anything to go by, the album is going to blow some heads off.

Monthly Playlist: May 2021

As we inch slowly closer to getting back together in person and therefore being able to talk about things other than what we’ve been listening to whilst stuck in our houses, here we have another playlist of things we’ve been listening to whilst stuck in our houses, along with our thoughts on them. Enjoy.

IMG_9488

Richard – Bass

Marc Rebillet – One More Time

Loop Daddy, aka Marc Rebillet, has been an obsession of mine this month – check him out on YouTube if you’re unfamiliar. All his songs are done in one take with a keyboard, a mic and a loop station, and he has a virtually illegal amount of funk. He also looks like a mixture of Anthony Fantano and Nick, and does fully improvised music livestreams wearing just his pants. So there’s that.

Bliss Signal – Floodlight

James Kelly from much-missed post-black metal legends Altar of Plagues teamed up with grime/techno producer Mumdance for this collaboration in 2018, and it’s a wonderful collision of distant, hazy blackgaze with an ambient and electronic soundscapes not quite like any other.

Cocteau Twins – Pitch the Baby

There’s something beautifully unnerving about Elizabeth Fraser’s ‘lyrics’ that are essentially gibberish, but that form partially recognisable words every now and then. It’s a weird trick that only serves to amplify the otherworldliness of these influential dream pop visionaries.

Shabazz Palaces – Are You… Can You… Were You? (Felt)

In all the recent adoration for the likes of clipping., I’d all but forgotten about the debut Shabazz Palaces record, an album I copied from a friend years before experimental hip-hop was something I’d even begun to comprehend. Returning to it and remembering all of it’s fragmented, dark and strange stylings this month has been a joy, and I intend to make it my mission to remind everyone that it exists alongside Death Grips et al.

Thom Yorke – Black Swan

One of the more Radiohead-y cuts from Yorke’s first solo album, but still imbued with a slightly more unsettled electronic edge than his main band ever quite manage. Understandably a marmite artist, I’m finding myself pulled more and more into his solo career.

IMG_9472

Nick – Guitar

Glitterer – Try Harder Still

Honestly I was drawn to this little album based on its cover alone because it’s gawjuss. A quick google search and I found out that it’s one of the dudes from Title Fight, a band I have never listened to but am vaguely aware of. Anyway it’s a really great fuzzy grungy psychy poppy thingy and I will probably listen to TF at some point as a result of this.

Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra – Movement 1

Possibly my album of the year so far, or one of at the very least. All three contributors are on absolutely stellar form and it’s such a multi-faceted album that perfectly weights sax-led ambient with orchestral splendour. A perfect way to unwind in the evening after a stressful day.

Wode – Serpent’s Coil

Wode are a UKBM band that seem to be everywhere at the moment yet I’d never listened to them. Seeing as this new album has some great artwork and was produced by none other than Joe Clayton of Pijn cough who also produced our album cough, I thought now was as good a time to try them out as any. And guess what, it’s great.

Purity Ring – Better Off Alone

My girlfriend keeps playing the video of a hamster dancing with a water bottle to the original track by Alice Deejay, and so I was reminded of Purity Ring’s refreshed version from last year which is a vibe.

Alexisonfire – Young Cardinals

A real blast from the past this one. I haven’t listened to Alexisonfire for a few years but was brought back to it after casually being reminded of City and Colour, the solo project of vocalist guitarist, Dallas Green. A half hour later and I’m up to my eyeballs in some of the best post-hardcore to ever get released. This track was a highlight for me.

IMG_9441sq

Luke – Drums

Nightwish – Dark Chest of Wonder

The first track off the Once album. What a fantastic way to kick off an album. Heavy riffs, catchy riffs, epic orchestration, solid backbeats, sing-along chanty bits, there’s just so much energy!

Turisas – Midnight Sunrise

Probably one of Turisas’ faster songs, making it a slightly more perilous jig around a drinks-laden tavern table on the dawn of battle. But oh boy is it fun.

Fleshgod Apocalypse – The Betrayal

What happens when Fleshgod try to write a ballad? Well it still ends up heavier and faster than most ballads but the orchestrations are lovely.

Gojira – New Found

Gojira released a new album and I am on it! I haven’t decided on favourite tracks from the album yet but this hits hard. I want to mosh to this in a field with all of you ❤

Owane – Born In Space

It Grooves! A nice chill, slow start, suddenly develops into jazzy, syncopated madness. It’s great, and oh so musical.

Monthly Playlist: April 2021

Another month, another slab of music and verbiage that we’ve been listening to. Check out the playlist below and read on for our thoughts this month.

IMG_9472

Nick – Guitar

Five the Hierophant – Berceuse (For Magnetic Sleep)

Is this the sweetest bass line I’ve ever heard? To answer that question one must first ask how we define the sweetness of any given bass line. I don’t really know the answer to that question unfortunately, but they play the same bass line for the entire track and it’s always disappointing when it ends, so there. Seriously though this is from such a great album and it’s in serious contention for my aoty list, it should be in yours if you like post-metal with lots of jazz in it. beemovieyoulikejazz.gif

Respire – Bound

Urgh, this is the band that I never knew I needed to hear and they’re the main contributing factor to me pushing for more orchestral instrumentation in future Ba’al tracks. As with many people, I heard Black Line last year and lost my shit over how good it was, so colour me ecstatic that they already had more material for me to lose my shit over. If you ever wondered if post-metal would sound better with a trumpet, the answer is a resounding yes.

Allan Holdsworth – Fred

Honestly I’ve never had that much interest in listening to guitar virtuosity. Maybe it’s because I’m quite unmotivated by nature so I’ve never had the urge to try and replicate that kind of fretboard wankery because I just couldn’t be arsed committing to the level of practice required, even though I wish I could, which says a lot more about me than I’d like it to. Anyway, as I’ve got older I’ve learned to appreciate extremely complex music without it being a reminder of my own deficiencies, so here’s 10 minutes of jazz-fusion from the king of obscure guitar scales. Enjoy.

Nothing – Catch a Fade

A lot of people didn’t like this album but I thought it was pretty damn great. Lovely waves of fuzzy shoegaze guitars and flowery vocals make for some extremely chilled vibes. Yeah it’s not particularly groundbreaking, but you know what they say about things that aren’t broken.

Yob – Atma

Last night I was reminded of just how heavy this album is. I’m usually fairly certain of the direction I want Ba’al to take in the future, but sometimes I hear something like this and I just want to grow my hair, consume some narcotics, and play unrelenting sludge in this vein.

IMG_9488

Richard – Bass

Steven Wilson – King Ghost

My thoughts on the new SW album are currently mixed, but this is an undeniable banger. Headline: 53-year-old prog rock musician does a convincing impression of Grimes, with a dash of Kid A-era Radiohead weirdness and a phat beat.

Death Grips – Culture Shock

I’ve been using my government approved walks recently as a chance to listen to more hip-hop, a genre that I love but struggle to find time to listen to enough of, largely due to the density of lyrics making it off-putting when working or doing anything else that involves my concentration. As such, I listened to Exmilitary for the first time in probably about 5 years recently and remembered that the reason it brought Death Grips notoriety is because it is flipping excellent. (Note – subsequently found out that Exmilitary isn’t on Spotify, which is a crime, so on the playlist I’ve replaced it with another one of my fave DG songs).

Jam Baxter & Ed Scissor – Sink

I’m very glad to have finally got round to this slice of dark but polished underground UK rap recently. Ed Scissor is a top tier MC in my books, and the pairing of flows here is stellar.

Slow Crush – Drift

Not much to say about this – it’s just lush, dense and heavy shoegaze, and it’s great.

The Streets – Who’s Got the Bag? (21st June)

A deeply stupid song, elevated to legendary status by the virtue of having been released by the absolute British institution that is Mike Skinner. An anthem for our times.

IMG_9441sq

Luke – Drums

Polyphia – Bad

Yes, it grooves. This song has the badass attitude found in rap tracks, but this is entirely guitars, bass and drums. If you manage to not bob your head while listening you probably need to see a doctor or something. (I am not a medical professional)

Dream Theater – Take The Time

A true masterpiece of a Dream Theater song. It starts off building up a polyrhythm layer by layer which leads into a metal riff, then into solos with a good ballad-y section followed by more crazier solos. All this but they still fit in a chorus which you will want to sing a long to. AND they make it all sound musically coherent… WHAT?!?!

Periphery – Lune

Do you feel the love? Yes I feel the love! This is the song they closed with the last time I saw them live and I was singing along at the top of my terrible singing voice. It’s full of energy and emotion, and the way the song evolves and develops just draws you in. Lovely.

Skyharbor – Temptress

This song is clearly the track of this album where they let their rage out. The guitars have a spacious syncopted chugging riff reminiscent of some Meshuggah tracks. Meanwhile the drums are grooving hard with some maniacal vocal gibberish on top. Add some slappy bass in and this track has some DIRTY energy. Give me more!

Between the Buried and Me – Lay Your Ghosts to Rest

These guys are honestly on the next astral plane of musicianship. The way they move through time signatures, polyrhythms and different musical styles all while making beautiful coherent music is phenomenal and this track is a great example of that.

Monthly Playlist: March 2021

It’s now a year since we were in the studio recording Ellipsism, which is, quite frankly, insane. Here are some of the tracks we’ve been staving off the insanity with this month.

IMG_9472

Nick – Guitar

Princess Thailand – Sonar

These are a really great post-punk/noise band from France. Their album And We Shine would have easily made my top 5 of last year, if only I’d heard it last year. If I can recommend any band for darker music lovers, it is these.

Boston Marriage – Know You Were

Damn this is one of the nicest sounding dream pop tracks I’ve ever heard. Gorgeous dual-vocals and soothing, tight production make this such a powerful and bittersweet sounding track. These are a pretty new band as well, so I’m looking forward to them progressing, not that they need to progress to sound amazing.

Show Me A Dinosaur – Sunflower

These are a really great blackgaze/post-black metal/Deafalcesteaven style band from St. Petersburg. Their latest album Plantgazer captures the sound of “gazing at house plants day in day out and trying to figure out answers to the many questions this new world has given rise to”. Having spent close to a year doing almost exactly that, I wish I’d been able to listen to this album sooner.

Arlo Parks – Too Good

Appropriately titled, this track is one of the many feel good vibes from her album, which is similarly chock full of wholesomeness and is indeed too good for my words to do justice to. Debut of the year anybody?

Mogwai – Ritchie Sacramento

Partly due to a slightly intimidating discography of what I thought would be an awful lot of post-rock, I’ve often glossed over Mogwai. I really enjoyed this album though and it may be the impetus to explore them more. This track really stands out as a gooey, grungey, power pop track, though I must say I feel like I’m destined for disappointment if the rest of their catalogue doesn’t sound like this.

IMG_9488

Richard – Bass

Fightstar – Palahniuk’s Laughter

As a child of Busted’s heyday, of course I grew up with a strange and mainly morbidly curious interest in Charlie’s ‘serious’ band. That interest didn’t get me very far, and as a teen I remember obsessively listening to precisely four early Fighstar tracks. A few weeks ago, I inexplicably had the urge to go back and rinse that same handful of songs again and remind myself that Mr Simpson deserved so much more success for his genuinely pretty unique voice. Yes, I did follow this nostalgia binge by falling down a hole of Busted videos. Yes, I agree, their reunion tracks are better than you’d expect.

Bardspec – Bone

This is Ivar Bjornson from Enslaved’s electronic project with Steve Austin from Today is the Day. I saw Ivar do it live a few years back at a mega Enslaved/Wardruna weekend in London, but it’s taken me until now to give the album the time it deserves. It’s part dance music, part ambient but with plenty of guitar too and a strangely hypnotic folk feel that is hard to put your finger on.

Urfaust – Trail of the Conscience of the Dead

Sticking with the long tracks, this entrancing, repetitive and doomy mantra, complete with a monastic vocal and some gorgeous strings, is just one example of the greatness of this deeply atmospheric sort-of-black-metal band I’ve been getting into of late.

Olivier Orand – Hours

Previously known as Hol Baumann, Olivier Orand trades in semi-psychedelic downtempo electronic music. It’s equally good to chill or groove to, and is infectious as hell. Good vibes.

Daft Punk – Crescendolls

I had to push another track out of this final position to honour the recent, premature departure of the French robots. Daft Punk were a hugely important act for me during my early 20s, when my music tastes were expanding at a rate I could hardly keep up with. Discovery is an untouchable album of bangers, and if this song doesn’t get you moving then I strongly suspect that you might be deceased.

IMG_9441sq

Luke – Drums

Sleep Token – Levitate

Starting with a nice unsuspecting atmosphere at lovely vocals, this song evolves into a high energy, heavy hitting groove fest!

Bleating Apocalypse – Corporate Buffet

From the bands latest EP, this song is a balance of heavy metal and corporate hold music. Admittedly there are some familiar faces here, but I assure you that the bias towards this band is only minimal.

Periphery – Have a Blast

Easily my favourite song from Periphery 2. I find it to be a great example of orchestral backed djent with melodic riffs supported by chugging guitar patterns and solid drums. It’s just too good.

Project Mishram – Nivaasa

What genre even is this?! Mishram blew me away with their mix of Indian musical styles mixed with djent. This song takes that idea but adds jazz, calypso and god knows what else… But oh boi is it good stuff!

Sungazer – Sequence Start

More commonly heard in Adam Neeley’s YouTube videos, this short song mixes bass shredding with Mario-style synths on top of a fast paced quintuplet drum beat. Yes, it does indeed groove!

Monthly Playlist: February 2021

We’re back on our usual monthly business, with some tracks we’ve been listening to recently and words to accompany them. Let’s face it, there’s not a lot else to do, is there.

IMG_9472

Nick – Guitar

Ashnikko – Slumber Party (feat. Princess Nokia)

I remember hearing about Ashnikko ages ago and since then she’s been hovering around my list of artists to listen to and now it seems she’s kinda massive so it was about time I listened to her. Her new mixtape is exactly the kind of neon-stroke-pastel pop/hip-hop that I dig so I’m gonna have to explore her discography. The production is super sugary, the lyrics are witty and fun (perfectly suitable for your conservative grandparents), and my word isn’t it just catchy AF.

SOPHIE – BIPP

Rest in power one of the most talented and forward thinking producers of our time. One of the most iconic instances of an electronic producer whose music you can recognise immediately whether it was her solo work or her work with artists like Arca, Kim Petras or Charli XCX, her eclectic electric touch will be missed. I’ve gone with a classic in the form of Bipp which was for me, and many others, the first track I ever heard.

Chthonic – Legacy of the Seediq

There is a riff in this song that is a solid 9/10 riff and it would have been a 10/10 riff if they’d put a hecking ‘blegh’ at the beginning, but they didn’t and I’ve become so accustomed to doing it myself that I often forget there wasn’t one in the first place. Brilliant song from a brilliant album.

Rachika Nayar – The Trembling of Glass

Music, it seems, has no limits to how it can vary, Rachika Nayar being yet another artist that composes and manipulates sound in such a way that I’ve never heard before. Comparisons to other artists are truly futile in this case, but it’s the sound of an endless, glistening cave of jewels blanketed by a calming sea, or like drowning in a bathtub full of popping candy and crack, I don’t know.

Vjuga – Rotten: Godforsaken

These are a Russian band that I just discovered on Bandcamp because their album cover looks like something Katatonia would release. Doesn’t sound much like Katatonia really, in fact it doesn’t really sound like any band. There’s a really unique balance of grungy shoegaze elements and blackened doom elements that work wonderfully together. Very good, very cool, very beautiful, I like it.

IMG_9488

Richard – Bass

Oneohtrix Point Never – Sleep Dealer

Finally spending some long overdue time checking out OPN, specifically his landmark album Replica. It’s equal parts uncomfortably glitchy and soothingly ambient, which makes for a wonderfully unsettling vibe that really seeps deep into your brain in a way I am more than happy to accommodate.

Harvestman – Levitation

Harvestman is Steve Von Till from Neurosis’ drone/folk/psych project, and it’s a sound that suits him and his fatherly voice down to the ground. This track is built on a thrumming wash of distant heavy guitars that filter through such a dense prism of atmosphere and effects that it all comes together somewhere between Jesu and Nadja.

Periphery – Ragnarok

Since Luke joined the band as a third member who likes Periphery, I feel I can finally be open about how much I enjoy their first two albums in particular – moreso than pretty much any other djent I know. Spencer Sotelo’s vocals get smeared in all corners of the internet, but if you can listen to this song and honestly tell me you don’t think he’s insanely talented then I’m afraid you and I are done professionally. Stellar stuff.

The Knife – Neverland

The Silent Shout album has been on constant rotation in my car on the weekly trips to the shops and it’s made the whole ordeal a much more palatable one. ‘Neverland’ is an unrepentant banger, filled with Karin Dreijer’s (aka Fever Ray) genderfluid playfulness with vocal pitch-shifting and all-round unique stylings.

Substance – Countdown

Substance’s 2019 EP of Berlin techno Rise and Shine is a straight powerhouse of clattering rhythms, minimalist progressions and a dark, industrial audio aesthetic. Can I swap “Working From Home” with “Vibing From Berghain”, please?

IMG_9441sq

Luke – Drums

Strapping Young Lad – All Hail the New Flesh

When I got into SYL I clearly missed out on getting the City album. This has recently been remedied and holy moly is it another powerhouse of a Devvy album! This song in particular demonstrates incredible talent and musicianship with Gene Hoglan absolutely killing on the drums as per…. This is an absolute belter of a song and the chorus is just so fun to sing along to.

Vola – Straight Lines

This song was released on YouTube an hour before I’m writing this, but I love this band and this song continues to fuel that even though I haven’t completely taken it all in yet. The gaps between the verse vocal lines create such tension while the underlying groove keeps persisting and it just draws me in wanting more. And then the chorus is beautiful with lovely harmonies. It pleases my heart

Humanity’s Last Breath – Dehumanize

It slaps, need I say more? This is their last teaser before the album release in a week and boy oh boy do they have my interest. This isn’t beautiful like VOLA, it is just filth. Lovely groovy filth. I need to headbang to this in a field of sweaty men. What’s the tempo? Oh it slowed again? SIIIIIIIICK

Devin Townsend – Borderlands

I have a good life, and this is a great song. I’ve recently been listening to this a lot more in a lot more detail and really appreciating the nuanced layers of orchestration that make this so incredible. Devin has an amazing ability to create soundscapes which capture the mind and this is a wonderful demonstration of that.

Liquid Tension Experiment – The Passage Of Time

They’re back! And they have not changed. This song sounds just like the prog rock/metal shreddy goodness that we’ve come to know and love. To me the song does sound a lot like the stuff they’ve done in the past, but I suppose when you’ve not released anything in a long time you have to reassure the existing audience that you’re still exactly who they remember you to be, and this absolutely does that. There’s the classic Rudess keyboards, Portnoy Drums, Petrucci guitars and Levin Bass that interweave with solos and rich chord progressions in such a musical way.

Monthly Playlist: December 2020

Before this strange year comes to a close, we thought we’d put together one more playlist showing what some of us have been listening to recently. Check out our picks on the Spotify playlist and our words below.

IMG_9472

Nick – Guitar

Sleep Token – The Night Does Not Belong To God

This is a case of immediately falling in love with a newfound band. Vessel’s voice is one of the best in modern metal and focussing everything around that is a masterstroke. The only problem is that I won’t be truly satisfied until I know their identities.

Vola – Head Mounted Sideways

Urgh, this is such a tank of a song and it’s got everything that I already love about VOLA. The production pushes this track beyond anything they’ve already done, the chorus is huge but we really need to talk about the frankly scandalous breakdown at the end. That kind of filth should not be allowed without adult supervision.

Loyle Carner – Yesterday

Loyle is the wholesome vibe that 2020 so desperately needs. The production on this is wonderful and classy, and Loyle is on top of his flow game, I just want more. The prospect of more music in the future is getting me through this shitting pandemic.

Clown Core – Flat Earth

I don’t think there’s anything that I can really say about this that is even slightly representative of the intangible nature of Clown Core. They make funny noises and I like it.

Chiasmata – Foreboding

These sound like a fully formed prog-metal band on a relatively big label, and the fact they haven’t yet attained that level of success is somewhat baffling to me. They have all the qualities of big names in this style so I won’t be the least bit surprised if they do receive the recognition they deserve. It doth djent.

IMG_9488

Richard – Bass

Bring Me The Horizon – Teardrops

Having hated BMTH on principle as a teen, I came full circle last year and absolutely loved Amo, the first album of theirs I invested any time into. Now they’ve pushed things even further, and alongside the pop and electronic elements, they now have no shame in fully embracing the Linkin Park sound of old. Rather than a cheap rip off, it feels like true reverence for a sound very close to my heart and I can’t get enough.

Black Wreath – The Black Holes of Your Mind

Funereal doom metal from the guy behind neofolk act Of The Wand and the Moon. Black Wreath’s one and only album is a heady mix of crushingly emotive riffs and strangely catchy sadboi hooks and synths.

Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou – Monolith

I was looking forward to this collaborative release for a long time, as I love ERR and find that Thou are at their best when working with other leftfield artists. It’s like the two acts not only combined their disparate styles, but also decided to pretend to be a 90s grunge band from Seattle, and it’s everything I hoped it would be.

Remember – ストリップの明るいライト Bright Lights of the Strip

Now many years into exploring the ambient end of vaporwave music, this album by Remember is the closest in spirit to the untouchable urban isolation encapsulated by genre kings 2814. Top tier atmosphere.

Strapping Young Lad – All Hail the New Flesh

After listening to Devin Townsend break down his albums one by one in massive detail on his podcast over this year, I’ve been on a massive SYL binge, reminding myself that at their best, this band were so fucking good that it is frightening.

IMG_9441sq

Luke – Drums

Turisas – Stand Up and Fight

Nice bit of battle metal this month! Definitely listened to Turisas a fair bit this month and this track is a solid sing-a-long classic with some nice drums to jam along with.

Judas Priest – Painkiller

Oldie, goldie, bloody hell it’s fun to jam to-ie. Been listening to a fair bit of the old Priest this month too, with this track being most memorable. It shouldn’t need much introduction, but this song is a powerhouse of shredding guitars, catchy riffs, dazzling drums, and amazing vocals.

Dirty Loops – World on Fire

This incredible funky 3-piece has been releasing a bunch of new singles and this stands out as a completely jaw dropping display of technical and musical ability. The intro drum fill is completely nuts. The bass riffs are amazingly mad, but nothing compared to the bass solo. And the vocalist/keyboard player provides beautiful harmonies and melodies. And from the music video – is the bassist really using all of those mics?

Jack Gardiner – 1993

Here’s a lovely instrumental track by a super talented guitar player. The guitar groove, pulsing atmosphere and funky backbeat are such an enticing combination. Ooooh yeah baby.

Snoop Dog – The Just Eat song

Okay hear me out…. I keep getting played this advert on YouTube and honestly this track has been stuck in my head more than anything else this month. That said, the last Chinese I got from Just Eat could be convicted for crimes against food…

Monthly Playlist: September 2020

We’ve finally got some very exciting things to reveal very soon, so this might be the last of these for a little while – enjoy whilst you can…

IMG_9192sq

Joe – Vocals

Sojourner – The Apocalyptic Theater

The Premonitions album is a slow burner of subtle anthems of with this may be the most anthemy. The harsh and clean vocals combining at the end is mesmerising.

Clouds – Nothing But A Name

One of the most morose and atmospheric doom tracks I’ve ever heard. It is so utterly drenched in sadness it’s almost unbearable. I love it.

Rolo Tomassi – Ex Luna Scientia

I’ve recently taken a lot more time and patience with RT’s earlier material and this is likely my second favourite song of theirs after ‘A Flood Of Light’. Eva’s harsh vocals have grown on me a lot too.

Skating Polly – Cosmetic Skull

This band just make me smile. Abrasive pop and super impressive considering the girl who sings this was only 15 when it was written and recorded. Delightfully odd.

CHVRCHES – The Mother We Share

Quite honestly one of the best pop songs I’ve ever heard. It’s stuck in my head and I’m singing it to myself all the time.

IMG_9472

Nick – Guitar

Power Trip – Soul Sacrifice

A sad week for metal. This band have almost single-handedly kept Thrash relevant for the last decade and Riley was a significant factor in that.

Dead Can Dance – The Writing On My Father’s Hand

A stunning example of Lisa Gerrard’s delicate vocal layering. The simple harpsichord backing does enough to create an enchanting platform for the vocals to take centre stage. It’s quite a restrained track, especially compared to the grandeur of ‘The Host Of Seraphim’ (the one from The Mist that film composers have been unabashedly mimicking for the past few decades) but there is a wonderful elegance in it’s simplicity.

ANOHNI – 4 DEGREES

Her operatic vocals give a sense of grandeur you don’t often find, even in the exalted halls of art pop. Great production that tastefully mixes orchestral instrumentation with industrial drums and noise. All in all a massive track.

Supruga – Царствие

Vicious hardcore flavoured black metal from Russia. Makes me want to throw milkshakes at tories, which is always a good thing.

Susumu Yokota – SAKU

This album in particular sits close to the apex of ambient music for me. Sad that he died long before his time.

IMG_9488

Richard – Bass

Mireplaner – Parched Throats

I wish I’d discovered this band last year, as this album would almost certainly have challenged by top 5 albums of the year. Chaotic, nasty post metal at it’s finest, with a hardcore edge and some truly worrying riffs.

Stars of the Lid – A Lovesong (For Cubs)+, Part 1

Stars of the Lid have entered my world in a big way recently and made me wonder what I’ve been doing with my life up to this point without them. I’m going to go ahead and challenge Nick’s assertion about the apex of ambient music right here.

Little Simz – Wounds

Another new discovery for me is Little Simz, a Mercury-nominated and incredibly talented female rapper who has flow for days. She’s also two years younger than me, so this is me wondering what I’ve been doing with my life in an entirely different sense.

Death – Sacred Serenity

My relationship with death metal has always been sporadic, but this year I’ve found myself indulging a bit more often, and in particular I’ve been enjoying revisiting the landmark Symbolic album. Aggressive, progressive and surprisingly melodic(essive), it’s that good shit.

Casualties of Cool – Flight

As Devin Townsend continues down his never ending singular rabbit hole of unparalleled and extravagant prog metal weirdness, it seems a good time to remember this moment of chill on his self-titled collaborative album with Ché Aimee Dorval. Soft, ambient blues rock to help you forget the apocalypse.

IMG_9441sq

Luke – Drums

Trepalium – Damballa’s Voodoo Doll

Groovy swing metal! I do like me some jazz/swing and this is a lovely infusion of swing and metal.

David Maxim Micic – Satellite

This track makes me think of woodland creatures making djent -and that is a good thing!

Diablo Swing Orchestra – Knucklehugs (Arm Yourself With Love)

What a fantastic song name. Another great infusion of hard rock and jazz/swing.

Sleep Token – Sugar

Beautiful song that I’ve been listening to a lot lately.

Fleshgod Apocalypse – Sugar

Got me a sweet tooth! Another lovely orchestral metal offering. I just cannot get enough of this.

Monthly Playlist: August 2020

You know the deal. Five tracks each and some words about why we like them, every month forever and ever. Enjoy. Or don’t.

IMG_9192sq

Joe – Vocals

Regarde Les Hommes Tomber – A New Order

Most recent album is an absolute monster from start to finish. Riffs galore.

Argesk – Lord of the Boundless Void

Manchester black metal with a terrific symphonic vibe. There is a melancholic feel to this track that resonates with me.

The Angels of Light – The Man We Left Behind

The lyrics to this song click with me a lot personally. Laid back, beautiful and heartfelt.

Janet Devlin – Away With The Fairies

I discovered this Northern Irish pop singer through her YouTube video about her alcoholism. Checked out her stuff and find this to be a charmingly pleasant pop song.

Pepper Rabbit – Older Brother

Probably one of the saddest but most uplifting songs I’ve heard about a friends suicide.

IMG_9472

Nick – Guitar

Cabal – Tongues

This is what the unending hordes of hellspawn play when they are doing the laundry after their daily pillage of earth. Probably.

Fawn Limbs – Ore Lung

A feral coming together of disgusting riffs and long division. All aboard the bendy-bus of rage, this service terminates suddenly and violently.

Textures – Shaping a Single Grain of Sand

Hemiola.

Glass Ocean – Light of the Moon

A glass ocean is actually what they sound like, but his voice is a massive ship made of treacle and there are no fish, only sex toys, made of crystals or something.

Jimothy Lacoste – Future Bae

Life is, indeed, getting quite exciting.

IMG_9488

Richard – Bass

Wren – Murmur

I’ve been long overdue diving into the Wren catalogue, and the new record from our pals at Gizeh Records is suitably crushing. This track has a real Cult of Luna vibe. Hopefully one day we can play with these guys again as we did at our last gig before the world ended.

Hum – Step Into You

These guys are totally new to me with their 2020 album Inlet, but apparently they’re actually a band from the 90s making a comeback. Ever wondered what it would sound like if Sheffield’s Awooga starting playing mid-career Devin Townsend riffs with a 90s alt-rock singer? Now you don’t need to.

Kelly Lee Owens – On

Completing an uncharacteristic trio of songs that actually came out this year, here’s one of several artists I was planning to see recently before doing things became illegal. Not many artists mix dreamy pop with fully pumping techno, and although this track leans more towards the former territory, you get a real sense of Kelly‘s immense talent.

Alice in Chains – Rooster

Every so often I feel it’s necessary to dive back into the AIC classics and remind myself what a powerful force they were – impressive that they’re still so good now, too. Riffs galore, certainly, but those Staley/Cantrell vocal harmonies are what make this band.

Twilight – Red Fields

Massive black metal featuring Aaron Turner plus members of Leviathan, Nachmystium and Xasthur (a later album also included Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth???). Blistering yet atmospheric, and chock full of post metal textures and some electronic overtones. Hench.

IMG_9441sq

Luke – Drums

Benny Grebb – Tricky

Wanna make djent? Only got drums and a mouth? Well this guy can do it!

Fleshgod Apocalypse – The Violation

This beautiful band took the virtual stage last weekend with a wonderful performance. The energy was as “live” as I could’ve hoped and hence their opening song is on the list!

Gojira – Another World

They made a new track and video and it is, well, Gojira! Their distinct groovy metal sound persistently pleases my ears

Work – The Endless Sounds of the Abyss

Not a band or a track… Just the endless sounds of work which this week has a guest vocalist of some guy giving online training. I do need more music.

Benny Grebb – Mixed Greens

…yeah I acquired this album this month so it gets 2 tracks! Again just drums and acapella but boy oh boy it grooves!

Monthly Playlist: July 2020

You guessed it – it’s a new playlist, with us waffling on about the five songs we’ve each picked this month. One of the few excitements we have in this strange new world. All the extra time to listen to things makes it even harder than ever to narrow it down to just 5 tracks, so we hope you appreciate the effort we go to for this hugely important art…

IMG_9192sq

Joe – Vocals

Anathema – Everything

One of the most gorgeous songs ever written, pure positivity with a touch of melancholy.

Altar of Plagues – As A Womb

There are few things more invigorating than listening to this track while walking through the countryside in the rain.

Foetal Juice – Take Your Face For A Shit

The new album from the Foetal boys is a stomper. Like getting punched in the dick by a toilet goblin.

Mushroomhead – The Heresy

I can’t get this track out of my head. They’ll never be as good as they were on XX, but this is fun pop metal guff.

Wilson Phillips – Hold On

I was trying to remember the name of this group for ages. Cringe from 1990, I’m on a childhood pop bringe 😂

IMG_9472

 

Nick – Guitar

Decapitated – The Knife

Uncompromising stuff. I wish my whole body was as ripped as their forearms must be.

Loathe – Aggressive Evolution

Aggressive indeed. A haemorrhage of gnarly bottom end alongside sultry Deftones-esque atmosphere. Still my pick for album of the year so far, though there is some stiff competition in the form of…

Run The Jewels – Walking in the Snow

Sobering commentary on the current political climate. Without doubt one of the most relevant albums of our time.

The Chameleons – Don’t Fall

Found this band through an interview with Neige of Alcest in which he waxed lyrical about this Manchester band I’d never heard of. One of the lesser known post-punk bands of the 80s and it’s fair to say they deserved a great deal more success than they actually achieved.

Bad Lip Reading – Bushes of Love

A quality pop song. Was overjoyed to discover this was available on Spotify. ‘Seagulls! (Stop It Now)’ is another classic. Watch the videos on YouTube to understand why the lyrics are absolute nonsense.

IMG_9488

 

Richard – Bass

Asva – A Bomb in That Suitcase

I’ve had a pretty ambient and drone-focused month, particularly whilst enjoying working from my attic during rainstorms. One highlight was rediscovering Asva, one of many Toby Driver-associated projects. This track is a journey from pure ambience into a majestic, mid-paced droney bassline.

Shining (NOR) – Blackjazz Deathtrance

As if to completely counteract what I just said, I also saw the best of many livestreamed gigs I’ve seen during lockdown recently, namely from these Norwegian industrial/jazz/prog/metal mentalists. This track tipifies their ludicrous chops in their Blackjazz period, and is just a mindfuck of epic proportions. Shame they went shit, really.

Björk – Who Is It (Carry My Joy on the Left, Carry My Pain on the Right)

Björk had a little lockdown vinyl sale a few weeks ago and I picked up a few of my favourite records of hers, including the bizarre and almost entirely vocal album Medúlla. This track marries her unique melodies with some throat singing and amazing beatboxing from Rahzel, and it rules.

Entheos – White Noise (II)

Stumbled across these guys during another lockdown livestream – this time the ‘Slay at Home’ metal festival. Polished and manic technical/progressive death metal with members and ex-members of The Faceless and Animals as Leaders. A punch straight to the brain.

Sunn O))) – My Wall

Play your gloom axe Stephen O’Malley
Sub bass clinging to the sides of the valley
Sub bass ringing in each last ditch and combe
Greg Anderson purvey a sonic doom

IMG_9240

 

Tom – Guitar

Mogwai – Auto Rock

It’s mogwai, and another album opener built around a light piano melody. This one, like ‘I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead’ off the follow-up The Hawk is Howling, is a perfect building swirl to drift away to.

The Atlas Moth – Coffin Varnish

This is one of those re-discovered gems I forgot was in my record collection. The squall of the guitars and overall sound have a cold feel that draws you in.

A.A. Williams – Be Quiet and Drive

Beautifully arranged and stripped down cover of the Deftones classic and a beautiful voice to boot.

Converge – Thousands of Miles Between Us

A more sedate but haunting cut from a band famed for being way more frantic, that slithers and winds its way through rises and falls to it’s conclusion.

Thou – Dive

An album made of Nirvana covers that is just utter filth, but works amazingly.

 

IMG_9441sq

Luke – Drums

Nick Johnston – Impossible Things

A nice bit of calm, instrumental groove. Lovely.

Dream Theater – Untethered Angel

A nice bit of heavy metal prog.

Fleshgod Apocalypse – The Day We’ll be Gone

Considering the way things are at the moment, the day could be soon! But this is a beautiful smphonic, orchestral metal song. Noice.

Deep Purple – Black Night

It always annoyed me how people know Smoke on the bloody Water, but I have no idea about their other, better tracks! A nice bit of bluesy rock though.

Scar Symmetry – Artificial Sun Projection

Fucking bang your head and whip the air guitar out. Grand!