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Genre > Rock > Heavy Metal
Drifting Your Majesty (Awaiting Repress)The driving force behind Desertshore is the partnership between guitarist Phil Carney and keyboard player Chris Connolly. The former has played with both of sadcore king Mark Kozelek's bands, Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon, and the latter has a classical background, though he also loves the gauzy, ethereal indie rock sounds that came out of England's 4AD label (which was also home to Red House Painters). With third man Dave Muench on drums and a couple of guests (including Kozelek), Carney and Connolly made Desertshore's all-instrumental debut album a place where all their varied influences intertwine.
The album's title offers a hint about the mood of the music -- Drifting Your Majesty maintains a haunting, dreamlike quality throughout its 14 tracks. Though these pieces are not without dynamics, they remain on the impressionistic, ethereal side, whether it's an intimate duet between Connolly and Carney that's taking place, or something more fully fleshed out with rhythm section and second guitar. As the tunes gently rise and fall, they roll rather seamlessly through a wide array of styles, blending psychedelia, post-rock, and international touches. Sometimes these tracks evoke the mellower, more contemplative circa end-of-1969 Neil Young or Grateful Dead improvisatory expeditions (Desertshore are, after all, a Bay Area band). At other points, there are echoes of a more contemporary post-rock sound à la Mogwai or Explosions in the Sky, and occasionally, Connolly and Carney dip into some Middle Eastern-tinged modalities, suggesting some quality time spent listening to early world music-inclined ‘60s guitarists like Peter Walker and Sandy Bull. Drifting Your Majesty manifests a moody, meditative feeling, but is never monochromatic.
- James Allen (All Music Guide)1. Black Mirror Water
2. The Town Alight
3. Mojave Mirage
5. Beautiful Descent
7. Drifting Your Majesty
10. Right Favor
11. Sixteen Drawers
12. Jordan Heavyhand
13. Maurice In Reflection
14. Deep Forest Echoes
$19.99Vinyl LP - SealedAWAITING REPRESS Buy Now
Flies To FlameFinally available on vinyl, Rosetta's "Flies to Flame" is the highly anticipated new opus from Philadelphia's reigning astral-kings of space-rock-metal! Unparalleled and utterly immersive, "Flies to Flame" encapsulates the sound that Rosetta has been cultivating over the past eight years.1. Soot
2. Seven Years With Nothing To Show
3. Les Mots Et Les Choses
$19.99Vinyl LP - SealedBuy Now
DawningMight the time finally be right for Mouth of the Architect? For a decade, the Ohio band has largely been ghettoized to cult status, familiar to Midwestern kids or those paying more than casual attention to what’s clumsily called “post-metal,” at least post-Isis. Between 2004 and 2008, Mouth of the Architect released three rather convincing-- if sometimes haphazardly indulgent-- records of unified doom and grace. Dependent upon extreme dynamics and grand composition, with track lengths that ticked into the teens and albums that stretched past the hour mark, Mouth of the Architect seemed like a natural recipient of the same “brainy metal” laurels then distributed by outlets as illustrious as The New York Times.
But the ascendance never came, and since 2008’s teetering Quietly, the band instead lingered at the threshold of self-destruction. They released an EP in 2010, but, as a revealing Invisible Oranges look into the band’s last half-decade suggests, they mostly tried not to die-- as a group, really, or as people. “Some of us were convinced that the end was coming, either the big picture or individually,” drummer Dave Mann told Brad Sanders. “Some of us, me in particular, were in a downward spiral in a lot of ways.”
The appropriately titled new album Dawning is their first in five years and their first featuring bassist Evan Danielson. It’s also their best work to date, a fully realized resurrection. Dawning showcases a band that now moves with an intricacy and immediacy that indicate just what Mouth of the Architect is: a veteran group comprising members with long résumés, who’ve now gotten a chance to begin again and know what to do with it. A wonder of tension and release, Dawning is designed to throw listeners into tailspins and, then, to lift them above the mess. That drama not only reflects the survival of the band that stuck around long enough to make this album but also of a group that’s now pushed past the cloister of post-metal: Despite the hardened visage of tough-guy screams, burly guitar tones, and Mann’s aggressive drumming, Dawning is a compulsively likable record, full of anthems meant for memorizing and environments meant for immersion. (Hell, “Sharpen Your Axes” could pass for millennial Incubus.) If you’ve ever liked Isis there’s plenty for you here; on the other hand, if you like, say, Abbey Road-- or any music that tries to outstrip the structure of a single song while not abandoning its magnetism-- Dawning deserves your time, too. Should the metal prefixes “progressive” or even “post-“ suggest long-winded, self-invested excursions nestled within songs that require an almanac, scrap the notion for Dawning. Yes, these songs stretch between seven and 11 minutes each, but even the longest, centerpiece “How This Will End", hinges upon narrative thrust and musical selflessness. If there are any guitar solos here at all, they come toward the start and the finish of “How This Will End", when a neon electric tone arches over a mounting cavalcade of drums and bass. Rather than serve as breaks in the momentum, though, both passages lead tremendous swells that rise to meet the troika of vocalists in another instance of triumph. Not one moment among these 11 minutes seems squandered or lost, as the quintet keeps rising and falling, churning and rebuilding.
Opener “Lullabye” establishes that principle from the jump, or as soon as traipsing acoustic guitar and twinkling piano concede to a heroic riff wrapped within three-part, gang-style harmonies. Mouth of the Architect move constantly between parts; at various points, they leap from near-silence to a quake viscous enough to make plenty of stoner metal sound thin, from guitar leads that suggest Chicago blues moan to math-rock redirection. Behind the kit, Mann serves as the expert rudder, keeping the songs steady even as he navigates the transfers. This constant swivel also depends upon the split vocal duties of Steve Brooks, Kevin Schindel, and Jason Watkins. They trade verses, flip-flopping between pristine radio rock leads and malevolent growls, sometimes only for a line at the time. They often share choruses, delivering them the sort of group-vocal abandon that hints at a darkened Danielson Family. Their singing-- here, more charged and urgent than it’s ever been-- gives all of the band’s moving pieces a through-line from one side to the other.
Talk of the tide of intelligent or somehow otherwise-elevated heavy music hasn’t faded during Mouth of the Architect’s temporary absence. Though both Sunn O))) and the late Isis have only released one album since MotA’s last one, the acceptance of and debate over nominally black metal acts such as Liturgy, Wolves in the Throne Room, Krallice and Deafheaven has kept that conversation current. Mouth of the Architect only nods to that au courant talking point during Dawning, most notably with the blizzard of tremolo guitars that open “It Swarms” and the clattering way the band emerges from an instrumental break during “Sharpen Your Axes”. But at the very least, Dawning deserves mention alongside Deafheaven’s Sunbather, a record that’s most notable for its holistic approach to drama and romance and the complete cinema of itself. Mouth of the Architect has long written from a vantage of imminent apocalypse, a perspective Dawning does not forego. There’s talk of collapsing systems and prevailing darkness, spent luck and idolized disrepair. But at record’s end, when Mouth of the Architect’s three singers trade and share lines about risking it all even if they come up short, it’s hard not to hear a core of redemption and potential hope within the music itself. And after returning from the brink to make one of the year’s most rapturous records, metal or post-metal or whatever, there had better be.
- Grayson Currin (Pitchfork)1. Lullabye
2. It Swarms
3. Sharpen Your Eyes
4. How Will This End
6. The Other Son
$21.99Vinyl LP - SealedBuy Now
Birth ControlThree albums into their career, New Jersey's Fight Amp show no desire to outgrow their tough but taut noise rock tendencies, but that hardly means they are treading water in a sea of retarded sexuality either. Released in 2012, Birth Control introduces new drummer Dan Smith (who, conveniently, also designed its cover art) into vocalist/guitarist Mike McGinnis and vocalist/bassist Jon DeHart's private little fight club, and the tenacious, unforgiving music they produce in unison makes it just as easy to imagine the trio members sparring in a seedy old boxing gym as bashing away at their instruments in a dingy rehearsal space. And while the boys last just eight rounds (songs) on Birth Control, most of 'em extend well beyond the regulation three minutes and boast a series of curiously style-departing codas -- e.g., the menacing echoes of "White Pickett," the piano on "Should've Worn Black" -- that enhance the illusion of a championship bout going the distance. By and large, most tracks ("Fly Trap," "Creepy Kicks," "I Am the Corpse") focus on punishing instrumental interplay, guitars verging on the atonal, while McGinnis incessantly barks against the fading of the light, escalating to outright screams when the rage becomes more than he can contain. Not until the late-album instrumental left turn "Goner" does the band forgo its customary energy for a more measured, though no less intense, approach where bass grooves call the shots as guitars and drums deliver the body blows. All of which raises the question: are you man or woman enough to go toe to toe with Fight Amp? Then get in the ring!1. Fly Trap
2. White Pickett
3. Creepy Kicks
4. Should've Worn Black
5. Shallow Grave
7. I'm Out
8. I Am the Corpse$22.99Vinyl LP - SealedBuy Now
ForestelevisionLesbian are a peculiar band, and not just in name alone. This Seattle-based four piece is one of the more eclectic acts to grace progressive metal, touting influences based in doom metal, 70′s prog rock, black metal, and grunge. Combining all these seemingly disparate elements together may seem like an absurd task, but when psychedelics are involved, anything is possible. The group’s latest effort explores these sounds and more in the course of a single forty minute track, Forestelevision.
Forestelevision is as suitable a title as any considering the structure and content that lies within. Lesbian shuffle through genres and moods as if flipping through channels while doped out on cough syrup. ADD applied to metal has allowed for the creation of some very off-the-wall music, but few approach this attention deficit as slowly evolving as Lesbian. At a whopping 44 minutes, Forestelevision crawls and plods along throughout a myriad of vignettes and experimentation in a way that is as challenging as it is awe-inspiring. Typically, spoiler alerts don’t apply to music. However, given the nature of Forestelevision, the surprises that may lie around the corner upon first listen can make for an exhilarating experience. Going in blind yields the best results, but for those in need of more convincing may read on.
The album first opens to trudging doom metal riffs with vocals bringing to mind the likes of a young Ihsahn before giving way to riffing not out of place on a King Crimson record. These motifs continue to grow and change form through solos and synth leads in epic fashion. It isn’t until halfway through Forestelevision when the band picks up considerable speed and begins to sound like something in the realm of post-blackened thrash before bottoming out again in a breakdown not unheard of from death metal greats Suffocation.
And this is just the tamer side of the group. Things get downright bizarre in the album’s second climactic half. Following a barrage of math rock, sludge, and oddball soundtrack work that would expect to hear in an episode of Scooby-Doo, the band pulls off a shockingly convincing King Diamond impression almost out of nowhere, falsetto screams and power metal galloping riffs included. The band closes the show in an explosive crescendo of tremolo picked power chords and blasts of cymbals. Even with the considerable length, the fact that the band were able to make such a strange transformation from bleak doom to triumphant classic metal feel so natural is deserving of praise.
As excessive or self-indulgent as Forestelevision may seem, the ideas explored within are often captivating and epic as much as they are crushing and brutal. This is a culmination of all the insanity found throughout rock and metal condensed into a single epic track, and on more than one occasion can elicit a mouthing of “what the fuck am I listening to?” Those with enough patience to sit through Forestelevision will be left confused and disoriented, but compelled enough to go back for a second helping.1. Forestelevision$24.99Vinyl LP - SealedBuy Now