Some Mini Reviews

I’ve listened to a bit of music since my last review, but nothing has made me want to do any reviews. I’ll just do a few mini reviews instead to let you all know I’m alive. I have to say, I’ve really liked Ephel Duath in the past, so I’m excited to check out their new release. I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. These might be low quality, but at least the second review is of a band many people probably aren’t aware of and are worth checking out.

I’ve been periodically listening to East of the Wall’s Reaction Artifacts. It has been well worth returning to. This has some truly great stuff on it. On an intellectual level this really does it for me. I could go on and on about the bizarre tonalities and interesting ways they play with time. The layered vocals are pretty cool too with some simultaneous cleans on top of screams.

I’m not sure why I’m not more excited about it. It is a really solid release. As an album it coheres well with some thematic material that gets passed back and forth between tracks. Maybe it somehow feels too familiar. Maybe its the mastering which makes it feel like a lot of the same stuff. Maybe it is the end of the semester, so I just can’t get excited about anything right now (or motivated to write anything of worth apparently).

A lot of these songs remind me of Intronaut’s and The Ocean’s releases. To be fair, I actually think these tracks are a bit more complex and interesting than what you find in general on those two. This is also my favorite East of the Wall I’ve heard in terms of band sound and direction. I’ve just been a little more excited by the previous releases. Maybe if they could get their old intensity back with this level of intellectual stimulation I’d be fully on board. I’ll give this an 8/10 for now.

Here’s a sample:

Next up is Orbweaver’s Strange Transmissions from the Neuralnomicon. I can honestly say that this is some pretty original stuff. Overall it has some parts that seem to fit into standard metal genres like some death metal influences and sludge, but as an overall album I don’t think I’d try to fit it into any subgenre.

It is quite an impressive feat, because it treads the line nicely of being both familiar and something that I haven’t really heard before. The first track is a really noisy, dirty song with some great sounds on it. It is a bit too repetitive for my tastes, and now that I’ve been through the album many times I find myself skipping it.

The second track has a lot more atmosphere to it. It alternates between some tech death stuff similar to the first track and a down tempo trippy soundscape which is pretty great because they use pitch bending all over the place to give you an unsettled feeling. Tracks three and four are probably my favorite. The third to me is just a more coherent and overall more successful version of the experiments they were doing on the first two tracks.

The fourth track really changes gear and they have almost a Mourning Beloveth type of sound. Then they throw in some crazy electronica stuff. I’d never think it would work, but they somehow pull it off. I’m not sure how to describe it. Maybe sci-fi meets Aphex Twin meets sludge? It is pretty fascinating. Overall, I’d recommend this to anyone interested in experimental metal, but isn’t looking for something totally unrecognizable. It is a great album overall. I had no idea what to expect and I was pleasantly surprised. I’ll give it a 9/10. Here’s a sample:

Other than that I’ve been listening to Carcass Surgical Steel, Ferocity The Sovereign, and Kataklysm Waiting for the End to Come. I’ll probably start going through some of Angry Metal Guy’s “things you might have missed in 2013” posts, too. The year is wrapping up, so I need to cram in a bit more before making a year end list.

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5 thoughts on “Some Mini Reviews

  1. I really get the feeling that you like stuff that sounds “off” or “out there”. But I find this is quite superficial. It might be this is why you feel empty with what you’re listening to, always wanting something more. Do you get any feeling when you listen to albums like Burzum’s Hvis Lyset Tar Oss? or Skepticism’s Stormcrowfleet? Or are you too eager to find those superficial treats?

    Maybe this is your cue to write your own music for a “metal ensemble” (please do).

    East of the Wall is pretty neat , but when stripped off the superficial enhancements it would seem to me that it is little better than Tool. And style-wise it sometimes seems a bit schizophrenic, though not as much as The Ocean (what an awful record). I actually enjoyed certain moments in that East of the Wall song a lot, but not the song as a whole. And it is not that I cannot focus, it’s just that it seems to me that it wanders a bit too much. Something like what I feel about some songs in Opeth’s Deliverance.

    Maybe I’m just too traditionalist at heart.

    • PS. I was actually a fan of music like that, until I also kind went overboard with expectations of the music, instead of listening to what the music says. I don’t know how to express that clearly…
      I go for the latter, and to look for my own meaning in the music, and to distinguish the roots of the music in a technical and ideological (ideology is important to art, you cannot dismiss it, a song about nothing is nothing but empty ear candy).
      Like, the difference between an extremely technical jazz improvisation show and, say, Schubert song cycles. Superficially, most would be extremely attracted to the first. While I claim that the latter is more profound.

      • hilbertthm90 says:

        I agree. There must be a balance and personal preference is probably what distinguishes where you think the sweet spot is between pure and simple with a lot of passion vs empty technical wankery. My sweet spot in the past has been very far on the technical wankery side, but maybe part of my current problem is that it is now in flux somewhere towards the middle.

        It may sound really weird, but I’m 27 and only now am just realizing that you can do things for pure enjoyment. I’ve spent my whole life where any time I do anything I immediately start analyzing it (like watching a movie, listening to music, reading a book, etc) or start trying to perfect it and become as good as I can at it (like with sports, or playing an instrument, or even playing a video game or something).

        Maybe my evolving view will let me get there some day, but right now I have a hard time seeing the lasting value of most things on the “simple/emotional” side, because unless there is something complicated/weird to keep me coming back I burn out on it after a few listens and never return.

        I actually listen to a lot of Arvo Pärt despite it being the simplest music imaginable. But there is a hidden technical mastery in that every note is thought about carefully and only used if necessary. The extreme simplicity makes it beautiful and moving and unique. I think someone can demonstrate technical mastery by knowing how to properly write effective simple things.

        I think this type of thing is rare in metal, though. The closest thing from this year that I’ve heard is Deafheaven’s Sunbather. I also really love Sunn O)))’s Monolith’s & Dimensions for its beauty in simplicity.

        Anyway. Thanks for the comments! I’m glad to have a reader that actually interacts with what I write.

  2. You also seem to easily dismiss “standard metal genres” very easily and favor these bands that play something like potpourri music. I understand that you take into account how well-written they are. But I am afraid that your take on it is a bit like a judge at a sports event. Maybe I am mistaken.
    Genres (real differentiations like black and death and speed metal, or metalcore, not nonsensical labels like “brutal” or “technical”) are divided by ideology and by what they want to portray; moreover HOW they portray it. The problem with potpourri bands is that often (no always)they end up saying 1000 things and nothing, it seems to me.
    Even in the “standard metal genre” of Death Metal, can you tell the difference in approach and value (no matter if it is subjective) of Suffocation’s Effigy of the Forgotten, Cannibal Corpse’s Butchered at Birth and Gorguts’ The Erosion of Sanity?

  3. “I actually listen to a lot of Arvo Pärt despite it being the simplest music imaginable. But there is a hidden technical mastery in that every note is thought about carefully and only used if necessary. The extreme simplicity makes it beautiful and moving and unique. I think someone can demonstrate technical mastery by knowing how to properly write effective simple things.”

    Curious enough, I’ve just got hanged on Part’s music recently! Apart from my recent Bartok marathon, this is what I’ve been spinning the most on the classical side. I think this “sense” combined with knowledge and refined technique, is the key to the greatest music.

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