Peacemaker – Cult .45 (doom)

This album comes from a band that situates itself in the tradition of doom metal quite deliberately, and with some self-awareness. By this I mean that they’ve thought about the meanings of the music they love, and precisely how they are produced in that music, and set out intentionally to share more meanings from the same emotional neck of the woods. In other words, although Peacemaker are operating within the bounds of an established set of musical practices, they are doing so in order engender the experiences to which those practices are specifically adapted; they are using the right…

Goya – Demo (stoner metal)

Drugs. Weed, hash, blow, smoke, tea, skunk, green, charas, gear, pollen, bud, sensemilla, kif, oil, dope, black, pot, marijuana, cannabis. I don’t wish to imply that Goya’s music is one-dimensional, but this is very clearly the central inspiration for their creative activities. So much so, that their Bandcamp page is simply addressed with the name ‘marijuana’; I imagine that there are a fair few musicians with similar enthusiasms spitting blood that Goya beat them to it. I wonder if there’s a band called Marijuana whose main inspiration is the last painter to be classed an Old Master? I must remember to form one, if my enthusiasm for making music gets rekindled at any point. Cannabis is a term we’ll return to; let’s turn now to another one. Demo.

Thumpermonkey – Sleep Furiously (progressive rock)

Injunctions to sleep in a particular manner crop up from time to time as album titles. Hope & Social’s last album length release was called Sleep Sound, which is perhaps the kind of sleeping to which most of us are accustomed; either that or badly. Furiously is another matter altogether: normally, a high fever is a prerequisite for such an approach to somnolence, although once, when I was eighteen, I dropped a tab of transcendentally strong acid immediately before going to sleep, and I have to say my repose was, if not precisely furious, decidedly frantic. Is Sleep Furiously a comparable sort of experience? Well, it’s definitely disorientating, and I don’t get the impression that helping their listeners to orient themselves is one of Thumpermonkey’s central priorities

Various Artists – Album Roundup

Given its title, its cover, and Quak’s avowed intention to make ‘dusty’ albums, we might expect a taste of nostalgia, of painful distance about this recording; it begins with thunder. This doesn’t presage any protracted exposition of sturm und drang however; it seems rather more like the thunder heard through the windows of childhood, the thunder that tells you a rainy day will be keeping you indoors for the foreseeable future. Quak employs elements of conventional tonal practice to establish emotional conditions, and makes use of technological or human noise and natural ambience to evoke more experientially specific states of being. The sounds have an unsettling character, leavened with some notes of optimism, all filtered through a distancing …

Slabdragger/ Meadows – split LP (stoner metal)

The last split release I reviewed also involved Meadows. The rationale behind split releases is obviously to seek a synergy: the artists involved generally have a close stylistic affinity, or their audiences overlap, to their mutual benefit; sometimes I suspect the reason has more to do with the relationship between the artists than any overt promotional or creative goal. Sometimes the contrast involved is more striking than anything else, as in the combination of Chad Vangaalen’s lo-fi pop songs and Xiu Xiu’s medium-interrogating sound art that I reviewed some months ago. In their last split release Meadows moved a considerable distance to close the gap between their creative practice and that of their collaborators, Chestburster, and this time they sound a lot more like Slabdragger, but also, it must be said, a lot more like they normally do.

Bright Color Vision – Carousel (metal)

The language of metal is so fragmented and diversified now that it’s hard to distinguish one sub-genre from another, and many bands build their sound as though they were filling their plates at a wedding buffet, after quite a few drinks. This is a positive tendency in my view, as long as an understanding of the music doesn’t depend on an encyclopedic knowledge of the various styles that are referenced. One of the last major fractures within the metal community is between the long standing tradition of instrumental virtuosity as a token of musical potency and worth, and the noise and texture focus of bands with a more punk sensibility; the grunge era saw an increase in punk/ metal crosstalk, although it was already a significant factor …

Various Artists – Singles and EPs

In recent years the avant-garde fringes of metal have become one of the most fertile sites of musical creativity and invention; while my central musical inclinations might be towards other areas, such as jazz or folk, and while those areas certainly harbour some radically creative minds globally, the majority of music produced and performed locally to me is pretty conservative. Earthmass is one of several bands I have the opportunity to engage with directly (attending gigs, meeting the members, building an ongoing relationship as a music writer, etc.) that pursue a radical formal agenda, and really keep their eye on the ball creatively. There is no uncritical regurgitation of the tropes of heavy music here, no taking the language as given …

Church Of Riff 2 at Colchester Arts Centre (metal)

What a lineup. Any casual punter could readily be forgiven for being carried out in a box. Not that the sounds on offer were remotely toxic; on the contrary, they were entirely wholesome nut cutlets of crunchthudriffery, but seriously, heavy things can crush you, and things as heavy as this can crush you flat. Perhaps that’s why Colchester Arts Centre is ‘never knowingly understood’: stand under this sort of malarkey and you can wave goodbye to three-dimensionality.

Various Artists – Album Roundup

The Trappers were kind enough to send me a CD, which usually results in a full length standalone write up, since I appreciate the expense of promoting a band, and also enjoy extending my collection. The fact that they’re in a roundup instead is no reflection on the quality of the release, but more on the kinds of things I tend to talk about when I review a recording. Although I will expand on it somewhat, basically all I can think of to say is ‘it’s roots rock, they do it very well, and I like it a lot’. That should certainly not be taken to say that there is no more content to it than ‘it’s root rock’ can tell you …

Another Dead Hero – Children Of The Witch (metal)

Ominous, dissonant, powerful, and employing a vocabulary that predates any form of extreme metal, it would be easy to class Another Dead Hero’s music as epic doom, for its atmosphere and for its approach, but it’s not so easily pigeonholed stylistically. It sounds like Another Dead Hero, which is to say that it doesn’t sound immediately unlike anything you’ve heard before, but on closer examination it sounds remarkably little like anything you’ve heard either.

Shrine 69, Another Dead Hero, Meadows & Hobopope & The Goldfish Cathedral at The Northcroft Social Club, Sudbury, 20 May 2011 (metal/ pronk/ heavy rock)

The Northcroft seems to be going all out to turn itself into one of Sudbury’s busiest venues. They’ve been putting on a variety of local and regional acts from all areas of the musical spectrum, but tonight their upstairs room was hired out by some of the noisy bastards. The opening ceremony was provided courtesy of Hobopope & The Goldfish Cathedral, appearing in a duo configuration. HPATGC is Paul Rhodes’ name for some of the stuff he does, but he was accompanied by Ted Mint on guitar…