Review: Servers—Leave With Us

Servers-e1390782801618Servers are one of the first bands I posted about on this site, and my reaction to them then isn’t much different to my reaction now; they’re shockingly excellent. If you missed them the last time I was raving, click here to watch their music video for ‘Universes & Supernovas (The Ride)’.

In short, they’re the sort of rock & roll that begs to be listened to loud, with fists pumping, heads banging, and beer flowing. As I mentioned previously, I don’t tend to listen to this sort of music very often as there are very few bands in this area that I tolerate, let alone enjoy. I have no idea how they did it, but Servers not only made a few songs I could listen to, they came up with an entire album that’s probably been in my playlist more times than any other album this year. What. The. Fuck.

One of the key things about this album is that from the get-go, the songs all stand out individually; there’s no blurring between tracks, no fillers, and at no point do you wonder ‘Wasn’t this song on a few tracks back?’. The melodies get stuck in your head quicker than tech enthusiasts dropped the Oculus Rift post-Zuckerberg takeover, and the vocals invite you to get in on the sing-along action as easily as a Disney film. Some of the songs have crushing doomy chugging and Satan-does-a-love-song lyrics, some feel like you’re driving a monster truck over inferior vehicles whilst sporting too much denim. And then there’s tracks like ‘Do Gooders’, which for reasons unknown strikes me as the sort of song a deadite from Evil Dead might pen. Or take that stoner rock vibe on ‘Mega High’, which could hold its own against Kyuss at their best.

If you’re slow on the up-take, this awfully gushing review is a long-winded way of saying that I abso-fucking-lutely love this album. I’m struggling to find fault. Hell, I can’t even go down the route of ‘Well, it’s a vibe that only works in winter/summer’ because it’s got enough doomy goodness to make it a way of getting through the winter blues, and plenty of stoner rock influence to make it a blast in summer.

In fact, sod it. I’m cutting this review short because I’m running out of ways to say ‘This is rock & roll badassery at its absolute finest’. Just get the album already.

9.5/105YkSdQ3

Review: Hannes Grossmann—The Radial Covenant

Hannes-Grossman-The-Radial-Covenant-620x616I knew a guy in secondary school that I sat next to in a few of my classes who was a pretty talented sportsman. We chatted occasionally in class about everything and anything; we didn’t always agree on the things we discussed, but it was fun to pass the time with him, just idly chatting. So, he was good at sports, but especially so when it came to team games. Personally, I care as much about sports as I do about the relationship status of celebrities, but it was fairly interesting watching this guy play. He seemed to get on well in a team, like he just clicked; for example, my school wasn’t very interested in football, and so didn’t invest much time or energy into shaping a team that might actually win something. For one reason or another, he decided to sign up and join the team. Although he wasn’t the captain, he ended up being a motivating force for the team, despite the heavy input and direction the captain demanded from his team mates. They never ended up winning a cup, but they seemed to get a lot of respect from other teams who were aware of the fact that the school didn’t really have any ambition or plans for them. Later on, and somewhat fed up with not being the captain, he went on to join the school’s basketball team, who were much more successful. They actually won the local league and, to be honest, actually got me somewhat enthused for their game. I hardly attended every match, but it was good to keep up with where they were in the league, and read the highlights in the school’s newspaper (or what passed for one, at any rate).

Upon leaving secondary school, we ended up at different universities. As with everyone else I knew at that time, I didn’t really keep in contact. You meet new people and move on, such is the way of life. In the past year or so, I tried out the practice of Facebook-stalking old friends to see what they’re now up to; I’m informed this is half the point of Facebook—the other half being to show the NSA pictures of the food you’re eating. Turns out, he’s now trying his hand at singles tennis, and from what his profile suggests, he’s really not doing very well. Or rather, his game is lacking. It’s missing that spark he had in a team environment; his playing is dull, it lacks that special something that made him an interesting athlete. The sort of hype he was generating, or rather what his team had generated, just wasn’t there. He feels like a Tim Henman with lower rankings. He’s just not good enough on his own. His style is wooden, stiff, lacking the flair and creativity that might shoot him higher up the tennis rankings, and go on to win a tournament like Wimbledon. Ultimately, it’s clear he doesn’t have that fire to strike out on his own and really dominate the field.

More than this, he’s been hampered by the fetters of being tied to non-existence; used as a cheap and overly-stretched analogy to make a relatively straightforward point.1395307433311Still, I reckon we could learn something from his story.

5/10

Album You might Have Missed: From The Human Forest…

If terms like ‘blackened death metal’ are familiar to, you should really be aware of English band Akercocke, one of my all-time favourite bands. Rejecting the corpse paint and theatrics of Norwegian black metal acts, they billed themselves as smart, English gentlemen, evoking comparisons to The Hellfire Club rather than a bunch of Kiss fans who are really into nails and axes.

Akercocke released some fantastic albums over the period in which they were active (though their debut album was a bit crap, if truth be told), incorporating a rather avant garde take on what extreme music should and could be. This less than straightforward approach to metal probably narrowed their audience more than it should, which is a damn shame because they were goddamn fantastic; I managed to catch them live at Bloodstock close to before they disappeared off the face of the Earth. They just went silent, more or less. No more releases, their website was simply left to fade, and fans like me were left really quite upset.

Except it doesn’t look like they’ve taken a one way trip to meet their Horned One just yet, because almost utterly under the radar some of the band members managed to slip out a release under the new name of Voices. Admittedly, this shouldn’t be taken as a new Akercocke release; but it looks like it’s the best we’ll be getting for now, and the fact that the sound is very similar with most of the Akercocke line-up, it’s almost impossible not to start drawing comparisons.

The songs on ‘The Human Forest Create A Fuge Of Imaginary Rain’ (yes, that is the title; yes it’s terrible) have a stronger black metal vibe to them than Akercocke ever did, and this isn’t a bad thing. But they really haven’t forgotten how to make some really quite killer riffs to complement some not-quite-as-good-as-Akercocke vocals; thank fuck for that. Kudos to vocalist Peter Benjamin though (one of the ex-Akercocke members), he manages to sound very similar to Jason Mendonça (Akercocke’s vocalist); Jason is easily one of the better metal vocalists out there, so it’s no bad thing to be able to get a comparison. There’s also a female vocalist on the album, and I’m not certain who it is, but she does sound very similar to Miri Milman (of System Divide / Distorted fame); again, I think she’s pretty decent, so yay.

With the pummelling drums, the catchy and almost hypnotic guitar work, and suitably Satanic vocals, this album really should be checked out. It has less money, promotion, and fanfare behind it than Behemoth’s latest release (reviewed here)—just check out the not-particularly-safe-for-work music video below, which was presumably done on a budget of good will—but I’ve always thought that the kind of sound that Akercocke / Voices evoke is far more suited to the subject at hand than the pomp that Behemoth favour. ‘From The Human Forest…’ is by no means a perfect release—for example, the song ‘Sexual Isolation’ could do with being shorter—but it’s a strong enough release to warrant more attention than it’s gotten thus far, and to look forward to more releases in the future.

Voices–Fragmented Illustrations of Anger

Review: Blut Aus Nord—Debemur MoRTi

a1716728059_10So Debemur Morti Productions are celebrating their ten-year anniversary (and 100th release), and what better way to celebrate than to release a special EP created by black metal experimentalists Blut Aus Nord. I’m not a huge fan of Blut Aus Nord, but ‘777 – Cosmosophy’ was a decent release, so I thought I would give it a look over. Turns out I shouldn’t have bothered. What I should’ve done is to go sit in front of my drain whilst it’s raining and listened to the water gurgling out of the bottom. It’s a similarly pointless waste of time.

Usually, it’s difficult to criticise black metal like this without someone claiming, ‘No! It’s raw! RRRRRAAAAAAWWWWWWWW’. Sometimes I get that, sometimes it’s just a poor excuse for a bad record. Black metal usually gets a bad rap for having an abundance of talentless acts that can’t play their instruments or have no idea what this mysterious ‘production’ thing is; and it’s not an entirely undeserved criticism. But getting into black metal is like getting into whiskey; it takes a while to start to appreciate the subtle differences between acts, picking out the nuances that mean it sometimes works so well you could have it on repeat for hours, and sometimes it fails so spectacularly it feels like you’re listening to a bunch of morons strumming their guitars with as much skill as a four year old with a hairbrush watching Top of the Pops (… you know, when it used to exist and stuff … ). As I write this I’m listening to Xasthur, pretty much the definition of a one-man’s basement project that sounds like it was recorded on a cheap dictaphone. But it works. The ‘raw’ sound gives it a very spacey, dreamlike draw, like you were in-between radio stations catching static when all of a sudden you hear music beneath all of that electric fuzz; sort of a musical version of EVP.

But this EP just sounds bad. For one, it’s criminally boring. For seconds, they ruined a perfectly good Pitchshifter track. Anyone who’s listened to the Pitchshifter catalogue will know that the early stuff sounds nothing like their later days. Their early work was HEAVY in a very similar way to Godflesh’s ‘Streetcleaner’. In other words, it was goddamn excellent. In later releases, they turned their sound more into the vein of industrialised nu-metal; if you’re into their latter day ‘Genius / Eight Days / Shutdown’ era, there’s no guarantee you’ll appreciate their earlier work. Now imagine taking the EP ‘Submit’, ripping out that chugging, behemoth sound, removing the bellowing, angry voice, and replacing it with gurgling noises and guitars that sound like they’ve lost their mojo, baby.  Austin-Powers-Walk-Into-Room-ShockIt just doesn’t work, you know?

The other two tracks feel just as limp, like being repeatedly nudged by a wet fish. The songs do largely nothing, go nowhere, and fail to conjure up any atmosphere. There’s nothing to them, and I get the distinct impression that Blut Aus Nord put very little effort into this EP; which might be why the bandcamp page specifically claims that the EP ‘is … not an actual release of the band’.

So let’s all just pretend that it didn’t happen, k?

3/10

TL,DR; Just look at the pretty artwork and forget to hit play.