Sunday, 27 December 2009

review backlog and honorable mentions

My house is full of CDs. I don't have an epic collection, but it's large and grows at a rate that exceeds my control. If you're the kind of person who reads Philip K. Dick, think of the CDs in my house as related to kipple and you'll get a sense of what I'm talking about. Books are almost as bad, but that's another tale. Part of the kipple factor is that I'm rapidly running out of shelf space. On top of that, of the CDs that come to me for review, I can only squeeze in the time to deal with a small fraction in writing before they're already old news.

Consider this post dedicated to the records that I wanted to review but couldn't find time for when they first came my way.
  • Antediluvian - Under Wing of Asael: This brutal (Canadian) monstrosity just entered my life this year, but I gather the demo's a little older than that. Antediluvian performs a kind of blackened doom/grind that could probably annihilate any keyboard or vocal melody that wandered within 100 feet.
  • Diablo Swing Orchestra - Sing Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious: Starting out like a cross between the Stray Cats and The Triplets of Belleville, this collection of tracks is as odd as the band name and record title suggest. I can't compare it to DSO's first album (never heard it), and I wouldn't call it exactly enjoyable, but there's a lot of entertainment value here.
  • Emilie Autumn - Opheliac: This is one of my favourites of the honorable mentions. The Baroque intro sets a gothic mood but things get a lot messier (in the best of ways) as the record sinks into a nearly sinister electro-groove. Emilie Autumn channels something along the lines of a Kate Bush/Tori Amos/Hanin Elias/Courtney Love techno fusion. At first I thought it was neat, then cheesy, then I realized I was completely won over.
  • Epica - Design Your Universe: Epica's always been hit and miss for me, as in I mostly can't get into what they're doing but they usually come up with one or two songs that draw me in. Design Your Universe keeps up that pattern (check out "Martyr of the Free Word"), but there's a little more oomph to this record that I can't quite put my finger on and the uncertainty keeps luring me back to try to figure it out.
  • Gwynbleidd - Nostalgia: There's a late-90s Opeth-ish lilt to Nostalgia, a kind of folk-inflected progressive death metal with a few blackened nuances that almost seems to pick up where the Swedes left off to follow a different path. And it works (I'd rather listen to Nostalgia than Watershed).
  • Leaves' Eyes - Njord: I could like Njord, but the signature "beauty & the beast" thing Leaves' Eyes banks on isn't enough to carry a record on its own, and its pleasures are overshadowed by unfortunate musical choices - like an out of place cover of Simon & Garfunkle's "Scarborough Fair" and the new metal cheese of "My Destiny" that sounds like LE and Lacuna Coil have been hanging out in the same wrong places.
  • Secrets of the Moon - Privilegivm: I missed out on seeing these guys open for Moonspell in Toronto this fall and I regret the unfortunate timing. Privilegivm feels like complex late 80s thrash that fell into a frozen pit of black metal and came out a stronger, more ferocious beast.
  • Skitliv - Skandinavisk Misantropi: It's hard to describe Skitliv because inconsistency is one of Skandinavisk Misantropi's strengths. If there's any structure holding it all together, it's a kind of blackened psychedelic doom, but things get more ambient and eerie from there on in. If you're a Maniac (Mayhem) follower or a fan of his sidekicks on this record (including folks from Current 93 and Shining) perhaps that's not too surprising.
  • Wodensthrone - Loss: Pagan metal, clan mythology, and a little Old English make Wodensthrone's Loss a dramatic onslaught of primal power. Some of the record's raw edges are smoothed over by melody and synth textures but the result is more weathered than polished. A haunting but visceral blackened vocal track and a persistent rhythmic battery keep the unsettling momentum going with just the right mix of history and present.

And here are a few recent entries that did make the final review cut:
Sacrifice concert review (note: the original text referred to my one-ear deafness from standing next to the right hand monitors. oh well. click here for a few more rough photos from the show.)
These Are They - Who Linger

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