MUSIC, ENTERTAINMENT, LIFESTYLE AND LOW RENT CULTURE

Posts tagged “Rossbaker

Kvelertak – Meir Album Review

Kvelertak – Meir

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Originally posted on Ghost Cult Magazine’s website on 26/03/2013

Norse trailblazers Kvelertak split open the metal scene with their incendiary self titled debut not to mention a fierce reputation on the live front. A mash up of furious punk rock, searing black metal and rock n’ roll swagger the first record was indeed something very special. Having returned to Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou and God City studios for this sophomore effort Meir contains all the characteristic of what made Kvelertak such a shot in the arm.

Frantic tremolo picking and lush melodies of ‘Spring Fra Livet’ kicks the party off and the rousing ‘Bruane Brenn’ is classic Kvelertak not to mention the best reason to stage dive you may get this year. Erlend Hjelvik’s vocals are still as corrosively intense but the rapturous sing-along’s are also in great abundance.While the band remains blessed with fantastic rock n’ roll hooks regrettably yet there are a couple of tracks which could have been given greater attention.Åpenbaring’ has a gorgeous build up riff but finishes to quickly after the vocals have kicked in and the solo in ‘Månelyst’ could happy be extended by a few bars such is the magnetism of its gigantic hooks.

‘Nekrokosmos’ moves away from the garage punk aspects with an almost stoner rock middle section and ‘Undertro’ mixes frostbitten aggression with an almost Thin Lizzy vibe to the guitars.Great musicianship and the seamless melding of musical genres are aspects one expects of Kvelertak by now and while there are some great songs present here just a couple of tracks don’t maintain the lofty standards set by the first album. To follow-up such a groundbreaking debut has clearly been tricky but aside from a couple of half-baked ideas the album is a classy and well rendered affair.

It is a shame to see a couple of small disappointments here and there but when the bar is set so high that can be expected. While Meir may not have the impact its predecessor has had it still contains some fantastic music which may make more sense in the live concert environment. Meir is still a fantastically well written album but this is a tricky transitional record from an undeniably fantastic group.

7/10

Ross Baker

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Ghost – Infestissumam Album Review

Ghost – Infestissumam

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Originally posted on Ghost Cult Magazine’s website on 20/04/2013

Since their Opus Eponymous debut dropped three years ago the nameless ghouls have enticed the greats of rock into their diabolical trap with a combination of a lavish stage show and the catchiest tunes Old Nick has given us in years. Yet by 2013 surely we’ve all gone back to our King Diamond and Blue Öyster Cult albums and cooled off. Not likely!

Beginning in triumphant fashion with their dark choir underpinned by lush classic rock riffing Papa Emeritus II and company have risen to deliver a sermon bolder and more dramatic than the first. ‘Per Aspera Ad Inferi’ stomps along with an almost military drumbeat leading to a triumphant expansive chorus. ‘Infestissumam’ see’s the Swedes expanding their horizons and further incorporate church organ, choral vocals and occasionally eastern melodies while remaining resolutely satanic.

Eschewing the more pop orientated song structures of the debut was a bold approach, certainly while this may be their major label debut the band have pushed themselves into bold new territory delivering an album full of quirks and killer melodies. The psychotic waltz of ‘Secular Haze’ is not the only stylistic departure with ‘Ghuleh/Zombie Queen’ beginning with stark piano and Papa’s chilling “From the darkness/ comes a succubus” refrain before the sinister organ builds the song to a powerful crescendo. The presence of big name producer Nick Raskulinecz has only encouraged the band to unfurl their greater potential, gleefully incorporating classic rock hooks with their blasphemous agenda in even more theatrical and bombastic fashion than before.

Having won fans such as Phil Anselmo and Dave Grohl (The later appearing behind the drumkit drumming on their cover of ABBA’s “I’m A Marionette”) it’s clear that Satan’s minions have the tunes to match their exquisite presentation. The finale of ‘Monstrance Clock’ with its infectious “Come together” refrain will haunt you insidiously for hours after its last airing.

Infestissumam may be Latin for “Most hostile” but this is a graceful and grandiose affair which further pushes their esoteric agenda together with sweeping and timeless melodies. A deliciously tuneful black-hearted affair this sophomore effort shall see Ghost welcome many new parishioners to join their faithful congregation.

9/10

Ross Baker


TesseracT – Altered State Album Review

TesseracT – Altered State

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Originally posted on Ghost Cult Magazine’s website on 26/05/2013

Since debut album One was released to much critical acclaim prog metal pioneers TesseracT have been dogged with the departure of not one but two lead vocalists. While such adversity would have broken manly lesser acts, the Milton Keynes act picked themselves up and following the departure of American singer Elliot Coleman came across young Brighton based frontman Ashe O’Hara.

The move has proved a shrewd one as O’Hara’s voice has a wealth of emotion and power that belies his cherub like appearance.  Following up such a resound praised record especially after such crippling circumstances TesseracT have refocused with a new album that retains the technically and emotional depth which made the debut so essential.

Boldly hinged around the concept of ‘”The Law Of Conservation” which states energy is transferred between the four states of matter, mind, reality and energy the stabbing polyrthymic structures remain but with a greater emphasis upon melodic hooks. Altered State disowns any screaming vocals which were present on the debut which the band felt they need “in order to fit into the scene”. It’s a bold move but one that paid off well.

Ashe’s delicate haunting notes more than match the unmistakable impression Dan Tompkins left on One with numbers like ‘Of Matter – Retrospect’ showing an emotional range rarely felt within the myopic scope of the average metal band. Familiar complex rhythms and patterns are present but the emphasis has shifted towards a more mature and reflective direction.

O’Hara’s performance is simply stunning. First single ‘Nocturne’ is brimming with passion and sincerity. His angelic tones reaching for the heavens while the swirling mass of guitars churn malevolently beneath him.

Considering the impact One had upon British metal TesseracT could be forgiven for resting upon their laurels yet Altered State expands their vision adding bold new elements. The elegant jazz saxophone on ‘Calabi-Yau’ is curveball and ‘Exile’ breaks new ground with some delicate acoustic chords further enhancing the reflective mood of the song.

A couple of tracks standout from the pack but Altered State” is best experienced as a whole piece. Distilling and focusing all their frustrations into creating a record which transcends the boundaries of the subgenre they found themselves a part of TesseracT have become the benchmark for progressive acts the world over.

8/10

Ross Baker


Shining (NOR) – One One One Album Review

Shining (NOR) – One One One

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Originally posted on Ghost Cult Magazine’s website on 28/05/2013

Masterminding the melding of Jazz and metal has been attempted by many noisemakers but these proponents have often hailed from the metal world. Shining mainman Jørgen Munkeby has travelled a different path hailing from a trad jazz background Munkeby introduced “Black Jazz” to an unsuspecting world three years ago nailing progressive metal to free jazz and harsh electronics it was an uncompromising and experimental record which sat up and slapped the metal scene square in the face.

Fast forward to present day One One One sees Shining condensing and distilling their freeform frenzy into more traditional song structures.For some this would seem like Shining has lost its edge yet what One One One succeeds in doing is compressing these rogue elements and spewing them out in controlled bursts of kinetic energy.

Spanning thirty five minutes this high energy thrill ride is a seemly mesh of all Shining’s musical styles with all the indulgences stripped away leaving only the juicy succulent flesh for the listener to feast upon.The driving percussion and industrial guitars of ‘I Won’t Forget’ kick off this adrenaline ride recalling the manic rush of NIN circa Broken and ‘My Dying Drive’ pulls no punches with its stellar grooves.

What makes this album so inviting is how every instrument is allowed to stand out without being smothered by the rest. The frantic saxophone on ‘How Your Story Ends’ ads to the song without becoming its main focus and the electronic elements are never employed at the expense of the guitars.The album title itself alludes to Munkeby’s desire to create a series of “track one’s” or “hits” and while the songs have shorter running times than the sprawling Black Jazz this is still the bold work of an extreme act hell-bent continually challenging themselves and their listeners.

The corrosive saxophone grind of ‘The Hurting Game’ alone should serve as a vehement denial of the notion that Shining have become a straight metal act. Jørgen’s vocals while mostly screamed still allow for lyrics to be clearly deciphered and while the cold industrial sections complement the harsh guitars there is an organic feel to the songs.

In One One One Munkeby has succeeded in balancing the fine line between indulging his renegade tendencies while simultaneously delivering his most direct and simplistic album yet. While a fine collection of music never before have Shining’s individual songs shone so brightly even when removed from the context of the album. A vital and exhilarating brand of controlled chaos bravely realised and delivered with the meticulous brilliance of a master craftsman.

8/10

Ross Baker