Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Spell - For None and All (2016) / 83%

Adam Burke's artwork is super great.

Magic Spells

Vancouver’s Spell managed to impress me with their 2014 debut but their sophomore full length easily established them as one of the Canadian best heavy metal/rock band. The trio, something obviously noticeable simply by the way they look (another example of this would be Kadavar), doesn’t really like the aesthetics and sonority found in modern metal and that's totally fine!

Mixing the quasi metallic approach of Rush’s classic second album Fly By Night with a fair share of psychedelic elements, Canadian heavy metal (think of Cauldron who also released a solid album this year) and even some progressive rock, Spell manage to stay super catchy and cohesive. While not totally heavy, their proto metal hits the spot with tight songwriting and musicianship. The inclusion of keyboards on some tracks (like “Too Late” or the interlude “Séance”) is enjoyable and adds a complex side to the band’s identity. The weakest spot for me would be the vocals, they’re a bit too vanilla and glam for my taste but they do fit the band. I must say he’s really freaking good on the doomy (and possibly the highlight of the record) “River of Sleep” though, he almost sounds like Jean-Pierre Abboud (Borrowed Time, Funeral Circle, Gatekeeper…) on this song.

The production job is warm and old school (obviously) and even if there’s only one guitarist, there’s many guitar tracks to give a richer atmosphere. It’s a pretty lush record with engaging riffs and well composed tracks. Sure, they’re perhaps not as good as Rush are but no one are!

They sometimes unleash some epic moments such as the ninth track “Vanitas” and its groovy bass lines and soulful guitar solos but they never go overboard (maybe they should?) as they keep the record tidy and straight forward. Spell, although a solid band, are a product of their times as they’re evolving in the current wave of occult heavy/rock bands but they’re definitely one of the most interesting players and are deserving your time and money.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Dérélection stellaire MMXVI @Saint-Jean de Matha - live review / compte-rendu

Photo by Manon Cornieux

This live review has been written in collaboration with my friend Ève-Laurence Hébert, I wrote the reviews for the first three bands, we both wrote one for thisquiet army and she wrote the review for the headliners, Basalte.

All the pictures were taken by Ève-Laurence except for those some taken by Manon Cornieux.

Useful links:

A French version follows the English one.

This new event created in part by Basalte, one of my favorite local bands happened in the countryside a bit less than 2 hours from Montréal and it was a blast. It was an intimate gig with about fifty fans and thirteen musicians divided within five musical projects. Beer, mosquitoes, great weather and of course, great music were all present to make this first edition a successful one. It was a relaxing event with only cool, interested and like-minded people and I’ve spent a nice time over there. Thanks to everyone involved and hopefully the festival will happen again next year.

Apraxie were the first to play at around five o’clock just before the communal dinner and considering it was only their second show ever, they were pretty damn cool. Composed of two members of Basalte (drummer and one of the guitarists), Pascal Rivard (vox, guitar) formely of Tribunal and Guillaume Pelletier (solid bassist), the quartet plays a mixture of post hardcore, screamo and post punk with some slight crust and black metal influences. They were pretty sloppy but in great way and it totally fits the juvenile aggressiveness of their sound. The four members were contributing harsh and visceral vocals reminiscent of the emoviolence movement and they were simply fun to watch. I’m excited to hear their debut studio releases scheduled for this year.

Sovannak Ké (Oppression, Putamen Insula...) played a set of Besatzung, his coldwave/ambient/synthpop/not sure how to classify this exactly project and it was pretty cool. Sovannak was alone on stage handling the occasional guitar, the wide array of pedals and effects and of course, the smoke machine. The atmosphere was cold, slow and pretty entrancing. It’s not really a genre I’m truly accustomed with but I liked it and I probably should explore the style. Songs like “Croque mon trottoir” are slow burners with a mesmerising drum machine approach and buried yet evocative vocals. Sad music for sad people.

Entheos released a really good album last year (review here) and while they played a bunch of gigs, it was my first time seeing them. The three members (they record as a quintet but now play live as a trio) were all wearing papier-mâché masks, plays some sort of dissonant yet atmospheric black metal with super tight musicianship. The new songs they played from their upcoming but still untitled new album are going in an even more audacious direction with some influences from Tool, from jazz and an overall sound that is less rooted in black metal. The musicians had a real chemistry and the interactions between the guitar and the bass were natural and impressive. You can definitely hear that those guys are listening to a lot of different styles of music in their sound, it’s rich in textures and the songwriting is intelligent and inspired.

Antoine's review of tqa:

Thisquietarmy was next and while it’s not exactly a genre of music I like, I can certainly say that for the style, it’s great. Eric Quach is alone with his guitar on stage but he’s surrounded by a lot of pedals to create an expansive and gloomy aural experience. Melting together drone, ambient, kraut rock, post rock, noise and at times even some black metal influences, thisquietarmy offered a set full of variety even if it’s an instrumental one man band. The loop effects, the drum machines and the guitar were all handled with talent and dedication but I must say that my favorite part of the performance was the collaborative improvisation at the end with three members of Basalte (guitar, drum and bass) and the guitarist of Entheos. It felt more complete, natural and interesting to me. I’m currently listening to the album Anthems For Catharsis and personally, I think I prefer listening to this while in my pyjamas at home.

Photo by Manon Cornieux 

Ève-Laurence's review of tqa:

Thisquietarmy is an imposing solo musical project formed by Eric Quach. With almost thirty solo albums (without the collobations he did with bands like Hypnodrone Emsemble, USA out of Vietnam or his own project thisquietarmy), Eric traveled the whole world to play immersive musical experiences for his fans. Based in Montréal, I never had the chance to see him despite that I really admire him. It took a special and intimate context for me to officially meet thisquietarmy

Photo by Manon Cornieux 
The artist started his set with “From Darkness Redux” taken from his latest album Anthems for Catharsis. The post rock sound from the number provided by the drum machine and the guitar gave its place to a track border-lining black metal with “Purgation/Purification” also from the same album. The intensity of thisquietarmy took shape with the different guitar effects made possible with the well executed loop and an hypnotizing array of drone sounds causing the audience to dream and enter a trance. The frenetic blast beat and the industrial drum machine on this track could almost make some black metal fans feel uncomfortable, prove the different influences of the project. The third track, “The Black Sea” from the album Rebirths, made us come back to a slower atmosphere without percussions and a melancholic finale. With the end of this track, a surprise happened when three members of Basalte and the guitarist of Entheos came on stage to join Eric Quach and played a fourteen minutes improvised track.

The track is available: here

The first moment of the improvisation was mixing drone and noise gave the time for the musicians to find the way to play together. Slowly but surely, the drums guided the song towards a more metallic direction, we were offered a doom section with slow percussion and a black metal outro with the vocals of E., one of the guitarists of Basalte giving us an appetizer of the last performance of the evening.

Basalte had the opportunity to perform several times since their inception and the release of their first album released in 2014 (review by Antoine here: here) but the last year gave us a bunch of new things like the addition of a bassist and new songs to be recorded for their second album that we’re really waiting for. The intensity of Basalte is undeniable and it’s even more apparent when the band performs as headliners. We think that this evening, an initiative of the band itself was perhaps their best performance yet. The atmosphere created by the impeccable drumming, the two guitars, the bass and the vocals mixing screamo and guttural voices are shaping a type of black metal that is distinguish itself from the classic style of black metal and really manage to captivate its audience. While we can call their genre atmospheric black, post-black metal or experimental black, the band is clearly unorthodox and are a good example of an evolving genre.

Basalte’s first song was the new song “Ce que le corps doit au sol”, a song that the fans only had the chance to see live twice. The first notes really made us realize that the bass was higher in the mix than before and that the musician really worked on his stage presence and managed to compose intersting bass lines. The soft and melodic introduction slowly let the black metal sound take its place like a crescendo. This was followed with “La sclérose coule dans ses veines”, another new song composed by Basalte. This number has a doomier and gloomier and it slowed down the set before “Acouphène”, the fastest song written by the band and its mix of d-beats, blast beats, their mix of harsh and screamed vocals and the breathless tremolos. The different mid paced sections were tied together to end with an exalted finale. To end the gig, Basalte played “Obtuse”, a song from their debut album that they never played since the arrival of their bassist (they used to perform as a trio). For the first time, the track was played with the additional bass guitar and it added a profound atmosphere confirming that this instrument adds a lot to the project. This 17 minutes track ended the performance on a great note. It was difficult not to feel the emotions transmitted by the four members all screaming together till the end of the song.

Photo by Manon Cornieux 
Photo by Manon Cornieux
For the adepts of the dark and experimental local scene, Dérélection stellaire was a memorable and unforgettable event. The location, the camaraderie between the musicians and the fans, the respect for the hosts and of course, the lineup made the event one that we will never forget. We can’t wait for the second edition.

Photo par Manon Cornieux

Critique en Français:

Ce nouvel évènement créé en partie par Basalte, un de nos groupes locaux préférés, a eu lieu en campagne, en forêt a environ deux heures de route de la métropole montréalaise. Le spectacle intime comprenant cinq projets musicaux fut réelement une belle expérience. La bière, les moustiques, la belle température et bien sur, de la bonne musique étaient tous présents pour faire de cette première édition de Dérélection stellaire un succès. Ce fut un moment relaxant avec des gens sympathiques intéressants et intéressés. Merci à l’organisation du festival et on espère qu’une deuxième édition aura lieu.

Apraxie fut le premier groupe a jouer et leur performance planifiée juste avant le souper collectif fut vraiment cool considérant que c’était seulement leur deuxième spectacle à vie. Composé de deux membres de Basalte (batterie et un des guitaristes), le beau Pascal Rivard (voix, guitare) anciennement des weirdos de Tribunal et Guillaume Pelletier (un bassiste très solide), le quatuor joue un mélange de post hardcore, de screamo, de post punk avec des touches subtiles de crust et de black metal. L’instrumentation peu soignée fonctionnait très bien avec leur son juvénile et agressif. Nous avons pu entendre les quatre jeunes hommes contribuer aux vocaux et ceux-ci pouvaient éloquemment rappeler le mouvement emoviolence. Leur premier enregistrement studio est prévu pour cette année et nous avons bien hâte.

Sovannak Ké (Opression, Putamen Insula...) a joué un set de Besatzung, son projet coldwave/ambient/synthpop/pas trop certain comment classifier cela exactement et c’était vraiment bien. Sovannak, seul sur la scène, jouait occasionallement de la guitare mais le focus était surtout sur son amalgame de pédals, machines à effets, drum machine et bien sur, la fameuse machine à fumée. L’atmosphère froide, lente et enchanteresse a su être convaincante. Ce n’est pas un genre que je connais vraiment mais j’ai vraiment aimé ce que j’ai entendu et je devrais explorer le style plus en profondeur. Une chanson comme “Croque mon trottoir” effraie par son identité flegmatique, son son hypnotique et ses vocaux enterrés mais evocateurs. De la musique triste pour des gens triste.

Entheos a sorti un excellent album l’an dernier (critique ici) et malgré qu’ils ont joué plusieurs spectacles, leur performance à la Déréliction stellaire fut ma première fois en leur compagnie. Les trois membres (ils enregistrent en tant que quintet mais joue live en tant que trio) tous masqués de masques faits de papier mâché joue une sorte de black metal atmosphérique et progressif avec une instrumentation du tonnerre. Les nouvelles chansons provenant de leur prochain album sont encore plus audacieuses et nous pouvons entendre les influences de Tool, de jazz et un son qui est définitivement moins basé sur le métal noir. Les musiciens ont une réelle chimie entre eux et les interactions entre la basse et la guitare furent impressionnantes. Nous pouvons vraiment réaliser que ces gars là écoutent un large éventail de styles musicaux différents, leur compositions sont riches en textures et c’est une musique intelligente et inspirée.

Critique d'Antoine:

Thisquietarmy fut le quatrième projet a se produire et malgré que ce n’est pas un style que j’affectionne particulièrement, je dois dire que le projet d’Eric Quach est super. Il est seul sur scène avec sa guitare mais il est entouré par de nombreuses pédales qui l’aident à créer un son sombre et vaste. Combinant drone, ambient, kraut rock, post rock, du noise et même pafois des influences black metal, le projet a offert un set varié et cohésif. Les effets loop, le drum machines et la guitare furent joués avec talent et dévouement mais je dois dire que mon moment préféré du spectacle demeure la fin du set, une chanson improvisée avec trois membres de Basalte (guitare, batterie et basse) et le guitariste d’Entheos. Selon moi ce moment était plus complet, naturel et intéressant. J’écoute présentement l’album Anthems for Catharsis et je crois que je préfère tqa dans le confort de mon foyer que live mais la performance fut fort agréable.

Critique d'Ève-Laurence:

thisquietarmy est un projet musical solo imposant mené par Eric Quach. Avec près d’une trentaine d’albums studio à son actif, sans compter nombre de collaborations (e.g. : Hypnodrone Ensemble et USA Out of Vietnam) et albums live, Eric s’est promené à travers le monde avec sa valise de pédales et sa guitare pour faire vivre à son public international des expériences musicales immersives. Basé à Montréal, je n’avais étonnement jamais eu l’occasion de voir jouer cet artiste que j’admire. C’est dans un contexte unique et intime que j’ai finalement pu faire officiellement la rencontre de thisquietarmy.

L’artiste a débuté sa prestation avec "From Darkness Redux", pièce tirée de son dernier album Anthems for Catharsis. La sonorité post-rock de la pièce, découlant du timbre du drum machine et de la guitare, a laissé place à une tonalité beaucoup plus proche du métal, voire du black métal, avec la deuxième chanson intitulée "Purgation/Purification", également tirée du dernier album. L’intensité de thisquietarmy prend forme dans les différentes strates de guitare rendues possibles grâce à des mises en boucle bien exécutées et un jeu hypnotisant d’effets drone provoquant transes et rêveries chez les spectateur-trices. Le blast beat frénétique et industriel du drum machine sur "Purgation/Purification", pouvant rendre certain-es adeptes du black métal mal à l’aise , témoigne d’une originalité dans les différentes inspirations qui animent thisquietarmy. La troisième pièce, "The Black Sea" de l’album Rebirths, a permis un retour à un style plus lent avec une longue introduction sans percussion et une accentuation vers une finale mélancolique. C’est à ce moment qu’une surprise réservée aux spectateur-trices privilégié-es de l’événement privé a débutée : une longue pièce improvisée de 14 minutes par Eric Quach, le batteur, un guitariste et le bassiste de Basalte, ainsi que le guitariste d’Entheos.

Le début de l’improvisation, croisant le drone et le noise, a laissé le temps aux musiciens de trouver une piste sur laquelle se lancer. Peu à peu, la batterie a pris le rôle de guide et a dirigé l’improvisation vers un genre plus métal, enchaînant une section doom aux percussions lentes et une dernière partie à la tonalité black métal accompagnée de la voix du guitariste de Basalte nous donnant un avant-goût du clou de la soirée : la prestation de Basalte.

La chanson est disponible pour écoute ici : Clique moi!

Basalte a eu l’occasion de performer à maintes reprises depuis ses débuts et son premier album paru en 2014 (critique ici). Toutefois, la dernière année a donné place à de nombreuses nouveautés : l’ajout d’un bassiste et la composition de nouvelles chansons pour un prochain album que l’on attend impatiemment. L’intensité de Basalte est indiscutable, d’autant plus lorsque le groupe joue en tant que tête d’affiche. Selon nous, cette soirée spéciale et fruit de l’initiative du groupe a été l’occasion pour Basalte d’offrir sa meilleure performance. L’atmosphère créée par le jeu de batterie impeccable, les deux guitares, la guitare basse et les vocales croisant le screamo et les voix gutturales façonnent un type de black métal qui s’éloigne des classiques du genre et qui ensorcèle son auditoire. Que l’on qualifie son style musical de black métal atmosphérique, de post-black métal ou de black métal expérimental, le groupe n’est clairement pas orthodoxe et dépasse les limites d’un genre qui évolue constamment.

Basalte a amorcé le spectacle avec "Ce que le corps doit au sol", une chanson que les fans ont eu l’occasion d’entendre seulement deux fois en spectacle et qui fera partie du prochain album. Les premières notes nous ont tout de suite fait sentir les vibrations de la guitare basse qui a été mise de l’avant plus que jamais auparavant et qui nous a permis de porter attention à la composition minutieusement travaillée par son compositeur et interprète dont l’expérience et l’assurance ont incontestablement évoluées. L’introduction douce et mélodique a lentement laissé place à la puissance du black métal dont l’ardeur s’accentuait à chaque minute.

C’est avec "La sclérose coule dans ses veines" que le groupe a poursuivi sa performance, autre nouvelle chanson composée par ses membres. Cette pièce à la sonorité plus doom et cafardeuse a ralenti le ton avant Acouphène, la chanson la plus rapide et agressive composée par le groupe qui nous hameçonne dès ses premières notes. Mêlant d-beat, blast beats, voix gutturales et criées, ainsi que trémolos essoufflants des guitares, les différentes sections plus ou moins rapides de la chanson se sont enchaînées naturellement jusqu’à l’atteinte d’une finale exaltante.

Pour terminer, Basalte a joué "Obtuse", une pièce de leur premier album que le groupe avait mise de côté depuis l’arrivée du nouveau bassiste. Pour la première fois, la chanson a été jouée avec une guitare basse créant une atmosphère tellement plus profonde que sur album et nous permettant de confirmer encore plus l’atout que représente pour ce projet musical la présence de la basse. Cette longue pièce de 17 minutes a terminé la prestation de Basalte sur une note estomaquante. Difficile de ne pas ressentir les émotions transmises par les quatre membres de Basalte criant à l’unisson à huit reprises la dernière ligne des paroles de la chanson.

Pour les adeptes de la scène musicale sombre et expérimentale, Déréliction stellaire fut un événement marquant, inoubliable. Le lieu, la bonne entente chez les spectateur-trices, le respect remarquable pour nos hôtes et, évidemment, la programmation ont fait de Déréliction un moment que tous et chacun souhaiteraient revivre. Vivement une deuxième édition!

Monday, 18 July 2016

Hammers of Misfortune - Dead Revolution (2016) / 95%

The revolution is alive and well

John Cobbett is one of the most underrated American metal composers and he’s proving yet again that everyone should praise his name by unleashing the new Hammer of Misfortune record five years after the somewhat underwhelming 17th Street. Let’s jump into this mysterious world illustrated by this futuristic, apocalyptic and totally bonkers artwork. It’s an odd fit to the band’s modern yet timeless musical qualities.

The main characteristic of this album is its expansiveness or its richness. It might feel bloated at times but it’s the good kind of bloated, the “ohhh man this Chinese buffet was so good but I just ate two weeks worth of food” way. The seven songs are all mostly on the long side but they contain an impressive array of excellent riffs and never overstay their welcome. They’re one of the sole bands combining super heavy riffs with organ and piano in a tasteful and meaningful way. In fact, if you look for the definition of “progressive metal” in a 2016 dictionary, the name of this band should be the first one listed. They mix the idiosyncratic classic side of Peter Gabriel’s Genesis and the atmospheric power of Pink Floyd with a bunch of metal styles (from speed, thrash to power and epic heavy metal) in one consistent offering. It also feels heavier and much more metallic than most of their material (especially the latest two albums). They really manage to never forget that they’re first and foremost a metal band unlike, I don’t know, Dream Theater who just released a two hours sappy opera full of ballads.

The album is pretty varied, two examples would be the track full of acoustic guitars and a slight Spaghetti Western feel (“Here Comes the Sky”) and the one song channeling Bruce Springsteen in a old traditional folk way with the epic closer “Days of ‘49”. The amount of stuff found in this 46 minutes album could fill a double album made by an unfocused and less talented band.

The guitars are inventive and always interesting, the style of Cobbett has always been one of the biggest strengths of both Hammers of Misfortune and the albums he did with Slough Feg. The leads in the hard rocking “Flying Alone” are through the roof but they’re always done in good taste and aren’t shallow and overly technical. This dude can definitely play anything (hear his involvement in the genre bending Vhol if you’re still unsure).

Mike Scalzi’s departure from the band after The Locust Years was a bit of a letdown, I think Church of Broken Glass/Fields and 17th Street were transitional albums vocal wise. Now that it’s Joe Hutton’s second album with the Hammers, I feel that he’s much more comfortable with his microphone. He sounds really good on Dead Revolutionand handles all the lead vocals (Hammers often had lead vocals sung by band members Leila Abdul-Rauf, Sigrid Sheie or former female vocalists on their former albums). We’re still served a lot of background vocals by these two though and it adds yet another layer to the band’s opulent musical palette.

Sure, Hutton often has the same gruff approach to clean vocals that Scalzi (now focusing solely on Slough Feg) and he tries to emulate him but he does it everything well. He can be surprising too, the melodies on the supremely good opener “The Velvet Inquisition” almost reminds me of Muse with their operatic flair.

All in all, Hammers of Misfortune is one of the most intelligent bands playing metal right now and they released their best album since The August Engine. Essential listening for those looking for adventurous music mixing the genres effortlessly but without restraints.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Metal Bounty Hunter: Volume 10

Cardinals Folly - Holocaust of Ecstasy & Freedom (2016) / 78%

Shadow Kingdom Records

Holocaust of Boobs and Doom

The third full length album from this Helsinki based trio is their most cohesive, concise and possibly their best one yet. Lead by Mikko Kääriäinen (bass, vocals, songwriting), the band plays this unhinged sort of groovy material with huge guitar hooks and rock hard drums. I always liked the thick Finnish accent in my doom (or heavy metal) and Mikko’s delivery delivers on that front with the way he sings those excellent and fun Lovecraftian occult lyrics. There’s also some harsh vocal moments and I think it adds a certain urgency to the fast paced material (such as the catchy title track).

It’s hard to avoid the Reverend Bizarre analogies since they practice the olde trad doom with the same determination, the same might and the same lack of restraint. They’re perhaps more subdued than the punk fueled inspired doom of Caskets Open though. I like the production, there’s a certain rawness to it that makes the seven songs sound natural and less polished than your usual modern metal. Overall, Cardinals Folly released a melancholic but entrancing record. Recommended for the doom lovers.

Red Blade – Powerwalker (2011) / 75%

Defunct but sharp blade

I had this in my review folder for ages but never got around it. The now defunct Connecticut based band was super interesting and it’s a damn shame they broke up before releasing their debut full length album. The Powerwalker EP is a four song heavy metal release with a distinctive sound borrowing influences from thrash, grunge, stoner rock or hardcore punk. At times it sounds the Melvins mixed with The Sword and pure trad heavy metal. The production has the rightful amount of quality and lo-fi-ness to make the songs sound good and immediate and the vocals of Jacob Royer are far from your typical heavy metal delivery, they're gritty and influenced by both stoner metal and, to a lesser extent, southern rock.

It’s often pretty fast stuff with sweet guitar licks, a lot of immediate melodies and you can definitely hear the influences of other original traditional bands such as Blackholicus in there. The first three tracks are all around three minutes and just doesn't mess around with unnecessary stuff, it's to the point raw energy with a live feel. There's a good chemistry between the loud but subtle bass play, the active drums and the sole guitar. The aggressive but well flowing EP ends with an atmospheric (the end of "Cronos) and you're left wanting more but unfortunately, this is the only serving you've been served!Hopefully the guitarist and apparent composer Ben Erickson can come back with a new project one day since this was definitely inspired material.


Scalare – At the Edge of Darkness (2016) / 77%

Heavy Chains Records

German tempered steel

The German trio plays a primitive form of heavy metal with terrible in a great way vocals and it’s a fun ride into Teutonic evil territories. The ten songs are all fist raising hymns with simple yet super catchy guitar riffs, high pitched vocals that are almost parodic and fast paced NWOBHMish drumming with a rough edge.

Like their colleagues of Heavy Chains (think of Barrow Wight, Angel Sword, Dracula or Tarot), they’re raw examples of what metal means to the most obscure of minds. This is definitely made to remain in the deepest shadows of the genre even if it’s far from being extreme metal. The cheesy spectre of Venom is never too far either, this is just what I’m looking for nowadays, the pureness of heavy metal summoned by bands like Demon Bitch or Iron Dogs (RIP). Scalare unleashed the riffs and know how to write epic and compelling material (the seven minutes “My Journey to the Stars” is certainly a wonderful way to close the record). They might not be for everyone due to the vocals but the veterans of the scene will find something to enjoy here.

Streaming on Bandcamp

El-Ahrairah – El-Ahrairah (2016) / 95%

Raw feels

After countless demos (I’ll admit I haven’t heard any of them), the Minnesota project released their debut full length back in May and it’s surely one of the best black metal albums I’ve heard this year.

What makes this great is the emotional weight of their succinct numbers and the ability to mix the rawness of their black art with an alluring and almost joyful aura. Songs like “Madeline and Edmund” or the calm and soothing moments on “Cut Like Rogues” really bring a gloomy but melancholic atmosphere to the band’s identity. Like some members of the USBM movement, El-Ahrairah does possess some slight punk leanings (listen to “Gates of Dawn”) but it’s also some sort of concise epic black metal with rough but really discernible guitar riffs. They also clearly explore depressive rock territories (à la Lifelover) at times. The mix of sounds is carefully crafted and done with the utmost care and talent.

The vocals are pretty vitriolic and strident in the best way possible, they’re loud in the mix but this impetuous formula works wonder for the thundering and abrasive sound they picked. The band also really shines when they use sparse but totally surprising clean vocals like the end of the superb closer “Rind of the Earth”. There’s nothing wasted on this record, it’s an essential album, really.


Astronoid – Air (2016) / 50%

Blood Music

The foul air of asinine modernity

The Massachusetts quintet took the thin line between post metal and shoegaze to the next level with their debut album. If you thought metal reached the maximum level of smoothness , well you were wrong. This is by far the least dangerous the genre has ever been. Astronoid took the space metal of Cynic, removed the quasi nonexistent amount of extreme metal they had, they added a super whiny pop punk voice and added competent but out of place blastbeats to the whole thing. While the saccharine voice is certainly a good fit to the post rock core, it’s really damn annoying.

The songs are all dense and they flow really well, this and the true uplifting feel Air has some of the only qualities the band has. If you think Neurosis needed to sound more like Alcest, I guess this is the band for you?


Monday, 11 July 2016

Rakta with Grosser and Security @La Vitrola in Montréal, July 10th 2016

*all the mediocre pictures were taken by my cellphone*

Thanks to
Suoni Per Il Popolo for organizing this gig.

On this evening of July that felt more like we were in late April, I've decided to go see this interesting gig even if it was a bit out of my comfort zone but it was a rewarding experience.

 opened the show with their blend of noise rock, Loop (the british band)-esque heavy explorations and many more influences too numerous to talk about. The duo composed of two members of the coldwave/synthpop/etc… project Dernier Sex unleashed a dark set of thundering bass and subtle yet highly evocative guitar lines. The guitarist, Anna, did some ethereal vocals as well but they were sparse, tastefully buried and not the focus of their music. The drum machine was used in an enjoyable and repetitive way adding a drone/industrial feel to their already busy mix of elements. A really good band and I’m looking forward to their studio material.


Grosser, a quintet from Calgary (or Montréal now apparently? Who cares?!) were next with their take on early punk rock/hardcore. The ubiquitous keyboard presence reminded me of Wolf Parade and it was the most interesting aspect of the band for me. The guitarist and the bassist looked like they had no fun at all compared to the dynamic and charismatic singer who was pretty damn good. The keyboardist was also adding an admirable queer presence to the band’s identity and it was a nice touch. This band felt more inclusive that what I usually see from the metal scene! Somewhat derivative except for the keys, the band’s short set was pretty cool and the weird projections were clearly a great bonus to their performance. They were composed of old (late 80s/early 90s) television samples of random and sometimes, gross stuff.


Rakta, the all girl Brazilian trio played a fantastic gig of their kraut rock infused psychedelic post punk with a lot of tribal inspirations. I was familiar with their debut album for a while now but this was pretty damn different as they played stuff from their newly released opus and it’s slower and more introspective music. With no electric guitars this time around (people told me that they had one when they toured here last year), the band relies on a hard bass presence, groovy and energetic drumming and a wide array of keyboard and electronic effects (they even had a The Doors-like organ moment!) to create their rich atmosphere. They reminded me of fellow South Americans Föllakzoid (that I’ve seen live some years ago) with the way they mixed repetitiveness and intricacy. The three ladies were very fun to watch, their tour is only starting and it’s really obvious that they really love what they do.

The part where they all gathered to play percussion for a good 3 to 5 minutes was mesmerizing and captivating. An interesting and dedicated band and they were tremendous on stage. They have my total support.