martes, 12 de julio de 2011

LENTO "Icon" (2011)

band: Lento album: Icon year: 2011 genres: post-metal origin: Italy


I know what you’ll think after reading the genre “post-metal” as I cruelly labeled this album. Sure you have in mind another copy of Neurosis’ sludge metal riffs, long ambient passages, aggressive guttural vocals and melodic clean guitars ornamenting all around. “Post-metal” is, in fact, for lots a cruel and not understood term. Whereas others rather to use the expression “atmospheric sludge metal” some other bands are not clearly defined by this since masters of sludge metal Eyehategod do not come into mind by listening to them. Thus, one can find awfully good bands inside the “post-metal” circles. These last years we have been witness to the growing of this style. And I can tell you that this band, named Lento, is about to become into one of the great names in the genre, since they’ve just forged their own style and had risen from the sea of post-metal acts out there, to incorporate a new approach to typical metal frameworks.

Lento is based in Rome, they’ve actually released two full-length albums back in 2007. Lento is a five-piece band whose line-up calls to attention by featuring three guitarists and nor a vocalist. I never miss a three-guitar band, since it is almost guaranty of a wide guitar effects spectrum and/or a complex technique on them as well as good composition duty. Furthermore, an instrumental band will always depend on how well composed are the guitar lines.

Lento’s latest creation has just been released this year. It is entitled “Icon”. As you can imagine, by the fact of the absence of vocals, this album will sound clearly similar to Pelican. Moreover, I find it closer to their “Australasia” era than to their new stuff. As the name of the band suggest it, the sound of “Icon” can be compared to a huge mastodon that slowly crushes everything on his way. However, although this description draws into a doom metal band, the sound of Lento is more complex and it’s not based on slowness at all. Here drums play a quite important rule. They are direct and multifaceted and so are the guitar riffs too. The structure of Lento’s sound becomes complex and entwined as they vary the moods of the developed ambiance. It is a cave with different passageways, lots of chambers and a considerable amount of darkness. So, you will find ambient tracks, like opening “then” that creates the mysticism at the entrance of the cave. Nonetheless, keyboards don’t appear at main songs. All atmospheres are created by different guitar effects that please my expectations for the three-guitar band. They are heavy and crushing riffs that reach the status of drone metal in several moments. The low tone in guitars attached to the technical intentions in some extracts reminds me to Meshuggah’s djent style, although, dare I say, this album has nothing to do with djent. Lento doesn’t fear to math approach in the guitars, you will hear some clean guitars in lines that sound similar to The Dillinger Escape Plan strange melodies. This is notable in the song “Hymn”. This kind of interaction between guitars let the listener to be unaware of what is to come. Here, where no vocals intervene, are the guitars the instrument that seems to share a conversation. You can even taste some dream-pop style guitars in the song “Throne”, the beautiful echo of this technique is followed by some wordless whispers which I think was a good idea of Lento for this track.

The album flows in such a way that you forget about the existence of a “forward” or “stop” button. Songs are short, about 3 minutes each one, letting the sound to unfurl out. The trip reaches a violent chamber at track 9 “Icon”, where drums and riffs speed up. This kind of uptempo elements are not common in the genre. With the distortion and feedback in the guitars a blast like this sounds extremely powerful. I love this smashing moments, especially the one included in the song “Hymen”, some of the best seconds in the album.

Another good thing about this release is the dark atmosphere that surrounds it. This goes further there than Pelican’s songs, that’s one of the reasons, Lento is far from being a clone of that wonderful band. I’m not only talking about the ambient tracks, but several passages whose melodies on clean guitars and feedback effects will remind us that there is no light in this cave. Some may call the final riffs from “Dyad” as horror-driven guitars. Also the closing moment of the song with the album title is kind of scary.

I have one only problem with this album: it is too short. Just 37 minutes of this haunting music. Lento have developed their own style, with well fixed roots in post-metal, which makes them, in my opinion, an indispensable band in the collection of the genre. Some people have already named them “the new Pelican”. Personally, I think this album is much more effective that many in the scene. There are lots of instrumental sludge bands, North (first EP) and Capricorns come to my mind for example, but, although they are different each other, I can ensure that Lento has also its own style. Check out this album, you’ll not be disappointed.

Check'em Out

domingo, 10 de julio de 2011


band: Mamiffer, House of Low Culture album: Lou Lou in Tokyo year: 2011
genres: ambient, noise, drone, experimental origin: USA, Japan


Aaron Turner is one of those prolific and restless minds, an artist that is not only focused in music but also in visual arts, but, somehow, all his work seems to be linked in such a strange way that he has created his unique style. You may remember him as the vocalist and guitarist of the now disappeared band Isis. Nevertheless, he has taken part of lots of other projects including Old Man Gloom, Lotus Eaters, Twilight and these two important acts: House of Low Culture and Mamiffer. In this moment, both projects are drafting up a tour together. But in March 7 of the last year, a concert featuring these bands had place in Tokyo. This album is the recording of that session and has been released in different formats including CD, DVD, and vinyl.

Mamiffer is the main project of Seattle based pianist Faith Coloccia. Aaron Turner joined her in 2008 to star out this project after the demise of her band Everlovely Lightningheart. Personally, I listened to Mamiffer for the first time just in this year, when she released her second album entitled “Mare Desendrii”. I really find this music interesting. Mamiffer breaks the typical frameworks on music, it generates a bridge between beauty and rough textures and combine them into a unique sound experience. This is clear when we imagine what will happen when well structured neo-classical piano passages are stained by droning guitars, electronic noises, ethereal voices and even other classical elements such a cello. The result is amazing, Mamiffer takes the term “neo-classical” to another level.

House of Low Culture is a Aaron Turner’s side project which features drone master Stephen O’Malley and Jeff Caxide from Isis and 5ive's Continuum Research Project. House of Low Culture seems to be Turner’s vehicle to express the most twisted and experimental part of his mind. While music from Old Man Gloom reveals some experimental behaviors, House of Low Culture brings a more esoteric atmosphere, like slow motion figures. These are not the kind of albums you get when you’re searching for aggressive screams, guitars and drums.

This recording entitled “Lou Lou in Tokyo” is performed by four musicians: of course Faith Coloccia and Aaron Turner take part, but it’s impressive the participation of Atsuo from Boris and electronic noise master Masami Akita, better known as Merzbow, as guest musicians. I think playing in Tokyo is a nice chance to invite these outstanding artists to join the experience. Atsuo helps Mamiffer in first four tracks in the album and Merzbow joins House of Low Culture in track 5. A sixth song is included in the DVD version featuring all four musicians together (I’ve not listened to this yet). But, it’s also interesting how there is no information about the participation of O’Malley and Jeff Caxie in House of Low Culture, which means that the line-up for the track performed by House of Low Culture is developed only by Turner and Merzbow, if I’m right.

Mamiffer performs three songs from their discography and a new song. These three songs are “This Land”, “Blanket Made of Ashes” and “Iron Water”. Coloccia’s piano passages sound delightful. One can say that the piano lines are the only element similar to the studio recordings since electronics and drones seems to be improvised although they do fit with original songs. The overall atmosphere is melancholic and haunting. Turner’s guitar sounds droning and reaches a quite noisy sound in the new song “Lilac”. This guitar effects take a very important rule creating the textures needed in the sound, they make possible to stretch out the atmosphere created by melancholic piano melodies to different soundscapes making that unique atmosphere characteristic of Mamiffer. If you compare “Blanket Made of Ash” in these two versions (studio and live) you’ll find the hand of Atsuo in electronics making this song a bit more violent in this version as harsh noises rises among the floating drones and the peaceful, yet mysterious atmosphere. I love the sound of these electronics in “Lilac”. This song is especially pleasing due the notable presence of three musicians: while Faith Coloccia plays a beautiful melody on piano, Turner’s guitar rises heavy and Atsuo develops violent noises, becoming the only aggressive atmosphere in Mamiffer participation.

Merzbow attacks helping House of Low Culture in the song “Mole Man”. The song is an up to 20 minutes session including improvisations and several passages that will paint different soundscapes. In this track we can listen to Turner strange vocals which remind me to Keiji Haino or Attila Csihar in their soft phases. The track has long moments of almost quiet atmosphere, slow motion guitars with some nice effects and drones and, the unexpected sound of a gong which surely was played by Atsuo. However this lifeless atmosphere becomes into a more aggressive journey as guitar drones become heavier and Merzbow drowns the listener into a sea of noisy electronics.

It is always interesting watching any act in this vein playing live. It’s different to any other concert. Improvisation brings the listener a total doubt about what is next. I’d love to be in a Mamiffer or House of Low Culture show, this recording makes me don’t want to lose any chance. However I understand that it’s almost impossible in my country. Some people claim that all albums from experimental genres like this should be recorded live, since improvisation seems to be an indispensable approach in this kind of music. Both projects are worth listening and sure we will know more things about Mamiffer in this year since their last album is, in my opinion, one of the best of the year. House of Low Culture is drafting its new material, hope it be released soon.

Check'em Out (House of Low Culture)
Check'em Out (Mamiffer)
Follow Him (Aaron Turner's blog)


miércoles, 6 de julio de 2011

AMARANTHINE TRAMPLER "Morning Light, Empty Veins" (2011)

band: Amaranthine Trampler album: Morning Light, Empty Veins year: 2011
genres: funeral doom metal origin: United Kingdom


Wait, I’m a bit confused. Few days ago, I was having one of those marvelous rainy evenings and I got in the mood for funeral doom metal albums. I played one of my favorite ones: “As the Colour of Love Flows from my Shattered Teeth” by one man project Amaranthine Trampler. As I was enjoying this outstanding album I wondered what happened with Lee Paxton, the man behind this and other projects. It had been a long time since the last time I knew something about him. His Myspace page seems to be abandoned since the last year, his site in which you could download his music is down, and so is any official link to Paxton. Latter, I decided to visit his profile in Metal-Archives, and what an unexpected surprise! It seems like Amaranthine Trampler had just released a new album, a full-length album this time! But, where can we check that this is real or official? I downloaded the album from any blog, I took a sit and listened. Yes indeed, this is Amaranthine Trampler, no doubt about it.

Let me tell you a couple of things about why I love Amaranthine Trampler. First, its demo was one of the first underground funeral doom albums I heard (I mean, not including Thergothon, Skepticism, Esoteric and so on) and second, it is actually one of the best albums I’ve heard in the genre. So, as you can imagine, talking about the new things of a band to which you have so much affection is not as objective as one can expect from a common band. Furthermore, unfortunately Lee Paxton will suffer of the compare-with-past-album syndrome, at least for fans like me who love his demo.

This new album is entitled “Morning Light, Empty Veins”. Under a good coverart, we have more funeral doom metal that will not disappoint the listeners of this dark kind of music. It seems like this time Lee Paxton decided to include more elements or, at least, make a more dynamic album by adding more keys and ambient moments. In fact, first track “Life of Tragedy” is an atmospheric introduction featuring a nice sample from the movie “First Blood” (a Rambo’s movie). This sample is a dramatic moment that fits with the gloom of the album, and also reminds us another dramatic sample at “Envy the Dead” by Rot in Despair (another Paxton project). The main funeral doom metal songs in the album are only three tracks. These tracks are haunting with a good amount of darkness on them. The Amaranthine Trampler framework remains constant: slow drums, heavy riffage and, of course, that unique powerful guttural vocals with a nice use of echo in some moments. These growls are maybe one of the most attractive elements from Amaranthine Trampler, however, I find them more homogeneous and vertical than in the demo, in which Paxton had very expressive moments, almost sounding like a desperate cry, dare I say. He also used to stretch growls until screams. Paxton have no problem with stringing along this growls with clean vocals and spoken words. That’s, in my opinion, one of the haunting things of Amaranthine Trampler, this combination adds melancholy to vocal duties which is not that common in funeral doom metal.

What about guitars? Well, they’re heavy and slow enough for the genre, but… once again, they were heavier in the demo. They used to be even noisy, sometimes my speakers prayed for mercy. It is possible that the lower recording quality of the demo helped them to sound heavier. Check out the last track “In Astralic Harmony” from the new album. I may be a bit paranoiac, but riffs in this song are weak, even knowing that this seems to be the slowest piece in the album, which one can think that demands a denser atmosphere developed by heavier riffs. And talking about atmosphere, as I wrote above, Paxon has added more keys. For example, the first funeral doom track “Venturing Forth Into Struggle And Woe” features an outstanding organ session. I love this kind of bands to use organ. As in the demo, Paxton also includes some samples along the album, which sound very good. And, joining the atmosphere we have that simple and lifeless melodies played with clean guitars above the heavy riffs in some songs. Without doubt an extra point to Amranthine Trampler.

The strangest thing you’ll find in this album is the song “Roots Run Deep”. Remember some The Morningside songs that were clearly influenced by post-rock? This song sounds nothing but in the vein of The Morningside’s “The Third, the Autumnal” song. It’s a non-melancholic atmosphere driven by clean guitar melodies and some keys. This brings us an idea of how Paxton's musical influences have been changing through this last years. I do like this kind of songs since I’m a great fan of post-rock.

Amranthine Trampler’s new material is good, but, in my very own opinion, not as outstanding as his demo. I find the funeral doom metal songs from this album more monotonous and systematic, despite the new elements just added. Remember the dynamic song “The Box” from the demo, I was waiting for things like that. Nevertheless, this is a good album, and it’s recommended for funeral doom fans. It has the elements needed and originality on it. Sure you’ll find it interesting even if you listened to the demo before.


sábado, 2 de julio de 2011

KONTAKTE "We Move Through Negative Spaces" (2011)

band: Kontakte album: We Move Through Negative Spaces year: 2011
genres: post-rock, electronica origin: United Kingdom


Nowadays there are lots of post-rock acts out there. Checking them out one realizes that many of them are nothing but an uninspired copy of Explosions in the Sky. Furthermore, creating post-rock music demands a good composition gift, so, as you can imagine, forming a post-rock band is not an easy job. But, suddenly, one runs into worth listening bands, like this one. They’re Kontakte, a London-based band, which is not completely described by using the term “post-rock”, we need to add a second word: electronics.

“We Move Through Negative Spaces” is their second full-length album, they have also produced an EP, all their material is available for free streaming in their Bandcamp site. Perhaps, the combination of post-rock and electronics is not that original when we think about bands such Blueneck or Unlearn, nevertheless, Kontakte uses the electronics in a very different way. They do not use drums. In order to replace them, they generate electronic beats and rhythms, which bring a very unique atmosphere that becomes into fresh and easy listening music. Replacing drums with electronics brings a wider possibility of sounds, letting the music to be more dynamic and unpredictable.

The album begins with a good set of electronics (please play it with powerful speakers) and shoegaze effects inviting the listener to dive into the atmosphere of lots of images appearing and disappearing every moment. Guitars in the whole album are similar to This Will Detroy You first album (their new stuff is epic, by the way!). Melodies are often generated by clean guitars that become the main element in most of the moments of the album, they are accompanied by a second guitar with excellent shoegaze effects (damn it! I love this, it’s almost orgasmic!). In fact, sometimes feedback becomes quite noisy, especially in the chorus moments, letting our minds to trip into a more violent yet melodic atmosphere. Some droning effects on guitars are also included, for example in song “With Glowing Hearts”. All this is combined with electronic polymorphisms creating different textures in the sonic experience. You can recognize, at least, two layers of motion, especially in track 6 “The Owls Won’t See Us Here”, where powerful electronic beats contrast with melancholic melodies on guitars. In general, electronics replacing drums may remind you to trip-hop band Arms and Sleepers.

Moreover, Kontakte handle some acoustic instruments. You can hear a violin in several tracks; a piano melody joins the soundscape in the song “Early Evening Bleeds into Night”. I don’t really know if these are keyboard-made instruments. Ambient song “Every Passing Hour” also features an acoustic guitar passage, the song fades away and becomes into the long track “The Ocean Between You and Me” this is probably the richest song in the album, including many textures, guitar effects and feelings whirling together in the same piece of song.

Highlights? Well, my favorite tracks are “Hope” and “With Glowing Hearts”. The melodies from these songs are awesome, they are well structured and, by the way, seem to express exactly feelings like hope, they fit with the nice picture in the coverart. This album is awfully good and it’s recommended to everyone inside the post-rock scene who will surely find it interesting and creative.

Check'em Out (myspace)
Full Discography Stream (bandcamp)

viernes, 1 de julio de 2011


Artist: Arctic Monkeys, Álbum: Suck It And See, Year: 2011, Label: Dominio Records, Genres: Alternative, Origin: England.

Los Arctic Monkeys se dieron a conocer en aquel lejano 2005, cuando tomaron al mundo por el cuello y lo sacudieron severamente con un sonido desenfrenado y muy atrevido, siguiendo la pauta que había dejado The Libertines, con Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not en 2006 (considerado unos de los 5 mejores discos británicos de todos los tiempos) y Favourite Worst Nightmare en 2007, dejaron en claro lo que ellos querían, en el 2009 sacaron Humbug un disco donde muestra ya mas personalidad y madurez, que se relejaría en este su cuarta larga duración Suck it and See, donde ya no muestras su desenfrenado sonido y no mas guitarrazos, ahora con un sonido mas oscuro y mas elaborado, con letras con mas sentido y mas directos dejando a un lado las metáforas. Simplemente los Arctic Monkeys han demostrado que no tienen miedo a experimentar nuevos sonidos y no estancarse en un mismo sonido, por eso para un servidor, los considero una de las mejores bandas de la década dejando atrás a los Strokes, Libertines, Franz Ferdinand, entre otros del mismo genero, y que con discos como este se están acercando a una de las mejores en la historia que podría o están influenciando a muchas bandas de los ultimos años.

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Jack Rollins