Wednesday 24 February 2021

ALBUM REVIEW: Ad Nauseum, “Imperative Imperceptible Impulse”

By: Josh McIntyre

Album Type: Full Length 
Date Released: 12/02/2021 
Label: Avantgarde Music

“Imperative Imperceptible Impulse” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). Sub Specie Aeternitatis 
2). Inexorably Ousted Sente
3). Coincidentia Oppositorum 
4). Imperative Imperceptible Impulse
5). Horror Vacui 
6). Human Interface to No God

The Review:

There’s weird music and then there’s this. Avant-garde is thrown around a lot to describe odd metered and dissonant death/black metal bands but Ad Nauseam truly deserves the title. I don’t think that consonance is even in the band’s musical lexicon. The riffs and rhythms swarm around, constantly shifting and melting into the brain. This wasn’t made to headbang to, this is a challenging musical experiment that demands detailed attention. In other words, this needs to be listened to multiple times to appreciate.

This album in particular is much dryer sounding than Ad Nauseam’s past works and comparable bands such as Ulcerate and Blut Aus Nord. This makes the constant array of clashing guitar notes and clanging bass all the more an assault. This physicality combined with the unpredictability of the rhythmic flow of each track honestly makes me feel anxious. It’s like being lost in a dark cave. You can’t see anything, you don’t know where you are, and every little sound frightens you.

It’s damn brilliant. This record is getting a lot of high marks and for good reason. While being clearly inspired by a certain school of experimental metal the band takes it to another level. The aggressive left/right panning of the two guitars that almost always play highly contrasting riffs might be the most notable factor here. At all times the brain is listening to at least two different patterns and the natural desire for some kind of melodic or rhythmic resolution is thrown out the window like a helpless, unwanted child. Still, in the midst of this chaos the band does provide for slower, quieter moments of slight relief, a factor that allows listeners to bear the journey in addition to being enjoyable in itself.

Ad Nauseum is far from the first death metal band to reference 20th century classical music or jazz but those influences, I suspect, give the greatest rise to the intense atmosphere and discomfort at display. At times I’m even reminded of the bleakest parts of works by The Caretaker, the ambient/sound collage artist that seeks to create the musical equivalent of the human mind deteriorating from dementia. It’s even comparable to the surreal horrors of Bosch’s depictions of Hell or the terrifying phenomena in a Junji Ito universe. If someone asks you what fear sounds like show them this album.

“Imperative Imperceptible Impulse” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Sunday 14 February 2021

ALBUM REVIEW: Ricky Warwick, “When Life Was Hard and Fast”

By: Richard Maw


Album Type: Full Length

Date Released: 19/02/2021

Label: Nuclear Blast



“When Life Was Hard and Fast” CD//DD//LP track listing:


1. When Life Was Hard and Fast

2. You Don't Love Me

3. I'd Rather Be Hit

4. Gunslinger

5. Never Corner A Rat

6. Time Don't Seem To Matter

7. Fighting Heart

8. I Don't Feel At Home

9. Still Alive

10. Clown Of Misery

11. You're My Rock 'n Roll


The Review:


Ricky Warwick roars back after his 2016 double album with this eleven-track collection of rock n roll songs, pitched somewhere between Thin Lizzy and Social Distortion. Warwick, of course has enjoyed quite a varied career; a guitar for hire with New Model Army, The Almighty- taken all the way to the UK top 5- an acoustic solo career, fronting the touring line up of Thin Lizzy and finally front man of Black Star Riders. He's still a pretty prolific writer, knocking out albums with regularity and finesse. No doubt about it, Ricky works at his craft and keeps moving forward.


All but two of the tracks here is electric and with an energy level not used since, perhaps, “Just Add Life” by The Almighty back in 1996. You get wistful rock in the title track, punked up swagger in “Never Corner A Rat” and “Gunslinger”, some rather sweet acoustic work in “Time Don't Seem To Matter” and anthemic rock/punk in “Fighting Heart”. The album has a fair few moods and manages to keep an edge on its blade for the most part. There are more middle of the road moments here and there- but this is a big step up in attitude and energy from his previous solo electric work.


The songs are uniformly finely crafted and shot through with regret and even nostalgia. The production packs a punch too- loud and raw from the drums to the guitars and vocals. There is some good storytelling too; “Still Alive” is a rip roaring crime tale and one that's well told at that. I'm hugely fond of the one-two closing punch of “Clown of Misery” and “You're My Rock 'n Roll”. The former is a strange kind of maudlin acoustic number with a demo sound, while the latter is full on Mike-Ness-in-a-hotrod-punk-rocking.


The best way to sum up the record is that it is convincing. You believe what Warwick sings and his delivery is stellar. I'd recommend this to anyone who is a fan of any of the bands mentioned. “When Life Was Hard And Fast” is a quality album full of swagger and a good measure of restraint at times. It will scratch that singer-songwriter itch and is the best solo record Warwick has put out to date. Mission accomplished


“When Life Was Hard and Fast” is available HERE

Band info: facebook

Monday 8 February 2021

REVIEW: Black Hole Deity, "Lair Of Xenolich" [EP]

By: Richard Maw
Album Type: EP
Date Released: 05/02/2021
Label: Everlasting Spew Records

“Lair of Xenolich” CD//DD track listing:

1). Razor Earth Edict
2). Railgun Combat
3). Hypersleep Dementia
4). Multiverse Incantations
5). Lair Of Xenolich

The Review:

Right. Science-fiction and supernatural themes meet in this outstanding death metal release. I'm not familiar with the members' previous/other bands (Chaos Inception and Malignancy) but that didn't stop me getting into this straight out of the gate.

This is a razor sharp and brutal five track EP of the finest quality death metal. No blast or solo is wasted, no moment without enjoyment. It's quite reminiscent of Steve Tucker era Morbid Angel to these ears. It's speedy, dark, violent and really quite stunning.

Of the four tracks, “Hypersleep Dementia” acts as a pretty clean/acoustic bridge between the other four tracks of unrelenting heaviness. If I had to pick a favourite, it would be the raging “Railgun Combat”, but equally I like the interesting pacing of “Multiverse Incantations”.

Between this and Fractal Generator's latest beastly album, I have been spoilt for death metal these past couple of weeks. This is superlatively played, composed and produced and I urge all fans of the death metal genre (particularly those with an interest in the more technical end of the genre) to check this outcheck this out. Five stars for sure.

“Lair of Xenolich” is available HERE 

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Friday 5 February 2021

REVIEW: Cult of Luna, "The Raging River" [EP]

By: Josh McIntyre


Album Type: EP

Date Released: 05/02/2021

Label: Red Crk Recordings


“The Raging River” CD//DD//LP track listing:


1). Three Bridges

2). What I Leave Behind

3). Inside of a Dream (feat. Mark Lanegan)

4). I Remember

5). Wave After Wave


The Review:


While listening to Cult of Luna’s “Salvation”, one of my favorite albums of all time, I had the sudden realization that the classic post-metal gem is nearly 17 years old now. I’ve closely followed this band evolve throughout the years into true veterans and masters at creating emotionally invigorating heavy metal. Sure my all time favorite LP might be old now but these Swedes are still quite active and continuously release critically acclaimed material. I feel that “The Raging River”, released more than two decades since the unit’s founding, is the apex of this feat.


I have to poke a bit of fun at calling “The Raging River” an EP even though it is 38 minutes in length but I suppose when you’re used to making 70+ minute monsters anything that can fit on a single 12” record would feel short. Each Cult of Luna release is truly its own journey; “The Raging River” is no exception. Songs tend to dirge and sway as they build up (or down), hypnotizing the listener in a way that feels like drifting on a river. While the current can shift between calming and tense it still flows nonetheless. It all feels connected.


There is nothing really ‘surprising’ here but that is far from a fault. We’ve come to expect Cult of Luna’s usage of ambience shifting into chunky guitars, the occasional and rather beautiful melody lines coming from either a guitar or keys, and the throaty growls that further remind us of the humanity behind the art. CoL has a method and they use it to near perfection. This is especially aided by what is some of the best production of any release of theirs. Purely from a sound quality perspective this EP sounds like an engineer’s dream. Every instrument, every piece of the music is crystal clear even when the band is at its most explosive. It is so much more invoking when the placement and purpose of every layer is apparent. It makes it so much more comforting to sit in the mist and explore its components, whether it’s the catchy groove of “Wave After Wave” that feels quite Can-ish or the uplifting soundscapes that come at the last section of “Three Bridges”. My one complaint is the middle track, “Inside of a Dream”, which features Mark Lanegan (of Screaming Trees fame). I can’t help but feel like a song that doesn’t evolve much musically, remaining a soft meander throughout, misses a chance to create a fully fleshed out post-metal piece with his distinctive baritone. In full honesty I was hoping for something more akin to his features on Earth’s Primitive and Deadly” album with Mark’s full voice over roaring guitars. Instead it feels more like he was stuck on a functional interlude. However, one must not let that small loss distract from the other four brilliant tracks that absolutely stand up to the rest of the band’s discography.


“The Raging River” is the latest testament to the greatness of Cult of Luna. We’re over two decades into their career but whatever fire they have that is inspiring them is far from burning out. If anything we are lucky to be here to take part.


“The Raging River” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp || facebook