Day: March 29, 2012

Cynic – The Portal Tapes

Back in the day, I remember getting a second hand copy of Cynic‘s ‘Focus’ album from a record store in Wigan for a couple of quid. I had heard the name before, after hearing mention of them touring with bigger bands in the states in the mid 1990s while watching Headbanger’s Ball fronted by Vanessa Warwick on MTV Europe (would you believe she’s a dull property investor with a chicken neck now?). What sold it for me was the fact it was formed by Paul Masvidal and Sean Reinert, who played on the ‘Human’ album by Death which I believe to be their best ever work. Upon first spin, I was massively impressed by their complex ‘Mathematical Death Metal Jazzcore’ style with such storming tunes like ‘Veil of Maya’ and ‘Uboric Forms’. Strangely, they made one glorious début album and then vanished into the history books… To reappear some 12 years later along with a tonne of other bands, such as Carcass, Pestilence, Nocturnus, and Forbidden to name to examples; as if to celebrate the proper return of ‘decent metal’ (as I define it). Between 2002 to present day, there has been many bands that have toured again and risen – Lazarus style. Cynic, were the least likely culprit to do this. Even more surprisingly, Messrs Masvidal and Reinert decided to release a new album called ‘Traced in Air’....

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Mares of Thrace – The Pilgrimage

Having just signed to Ontario label, Sonic Unyon Records, for their upcoming release, “The Pilgrimage” (on April 24th), the western Canadian duo, Mares of Trace stand by the motto “Higher education and lowered tuning.” No bass? No problem; just incorporate a custom built baritone guitar with a bass pickup by Kurt Ballou of Converge and you’re set to destroy. With Thérèse Lanz (former KEN Mode bassist) on guitar, electronics and vocalist alongside drummer Stefani MacKichan, these ladies have created a sound that is nothing but deathly heavy. Starting off the album with the beginning of a staggered, 3 act saga, ‘Act I: David Glimpses Bathsheba’ keeps the vocals to a minimum and sets up listeners for the shifting of doom laden riffs, breaks and sludgy rhythms “The Pilgrimage” carries. A glorious trail of feedback provides fodder for the next track, ‘The Pragmatist’ which releases a caged cacophony of lyrical destruction, tearing at you limb from limb and healed in check by MacKichan’s prodigious drumming. ‘Triple B’ was one of my favorites, adding a noisy, industrial break to the tone of the album and evoking similar sentiment to a good dose of other ambient Canadian electronic acts such as Skinny Puppy and Front Line Assembly. ‘The Three-Legged Courtesan…’ is definitely for the proud and patient doom devotee; an experience in itself to anyone who engages in the uptake. The rhythm,...

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Balázs Pándi Of Obake Talks To ThisIsNotAScene

Hungarian drummer Balázs Pándi  is a remarkable musician. He’s involved with several different projects and bands covering a whole range of different styles including jazz, breakcore, doom metal and even some avant-garde. Reason enough to sit down and have a friendly chat with this versatile musician. Hi Balázs, thank you for doing this interview. You’re a busy man with a whole range of different projects and bands. Can you give a quick introduction, please? Hi! My name is Balázs Pándi, and I am a drummer from Budapest, Hungary. 28 years old. My more vital projects are Obake, Wormskull, the Blood of Heroes and touring as live drummer with Merzbow for the last three years. In Hungary I play with Chief Rebel Angel and Drünken Bastards or ad-hoc groups of local improvisers. Another remarkable thing is sheer diversity of the artists you’re playing with. It’s basically anything between Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble (dark jazz), Venetian Snares (breakcore), Obake (doom/avantgarde) and Merzbow (noise). What’s the common link between all these different collaborations? I played for 9 years in a youth orchestra. Around the same years I studied classical percussion for 10 years and accordion for 7 years. With the orchestra we covered a huge variety of music. Marching music, opera, ragtime, Morricone scores, contemporary music etc. So I basically grew up with playing and being surrounded by all kinds of music. Back then it...

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Caliban – I Am Nemesis

“I Am Nemesis” is the eight studio album from German metalcore band Caliban and sees the five-piece moving up a notch in terms of heaviness from earlier works such as 2003’s “Shadow Hearts”. The basic song structures are pretty much the same as they’ve always been with Caliban but everything has been tweaked a little to sound a bit tighter and more polished, not to mention a bit more groove. The album starts with the brutal “We are the Many,” which really sets out the stall as far as the rest of the album is concerned. Layers of double-bass drums and Fear Factory-esque backing synths blend to decent effect over a riff straight from the metalcore handbook. And herein lies the problem with this album, as most of the riffs – and by extension, songs – roll out one after the other with little to distinguish one from the other. By the time of “Deadly Dream” halfway through the album you’ve heard pretty much everything the album has to offer in terms of style, and although Caliban obviously have a passion for what they do and are seemingly trying to make a definitive moment in their back catalogue there is very little here that you haven’t heard before. The clean vocals provided by guitarist Denis Schmidt do nothing but date their metalcore sound to a period about ten years...

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Black Sheep Wall – No Matter Where It Ends

There are those who question the validity of music like the sort of droning sludge that California’s Black Sheep Wall make.  Some people – believe it or not – don’t really like the repetitive, downtuned guitars and strained vocals that sound like the singer is constipated. That means that those people won’t like “No Matter Where It Ends”, Black Sheep Wall’s second album, because this album is nine tracks of exactly that. If, however, you do like those things described above, and you like it done to the extreme, then you’ll probably go mad for this album.  Opening track ‘Agnostic Demon’ comes in on a wail of feedback before the savage vocals come out of the gloom to tear you a new arsehole. The grind of the guitars and bass create an insistent buzzing that threatens to bore through your ears and into your brain like a dragonfly in a bad mood. And by the time you get to ‘Torrential’ – track number five and nearly twenty-five minutes in – the pace still hasn’t changed, and neither has the vocal pitch or, if you like, the guitar riff! That may be a tad harsh as this is an album that’s designed to have that effect on you, to hook itself into your head and drag you down into its murky depths, and given the right frame of mind there...

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