April March - Chrominance Decoder
Autechre - Autechre
Backyard Babies - "(is it) Still Alright to Smile"
Blo-torch - The Plot Sickens...
Built To Spill - Perfect From Now On
Coil - Spring Summer Fall Winter
Gluecifer - Soaring With Eagles At Night To Rise With The Pigs In The Morning
Golden Smog - Weird Tales
Hashisheen - The End of Law
Hellacopters - Down Right Blue
Krisiun - Apocalyptic Revolution
Negura Bunget - Zirnindu-sa
The Roots - Things Fall Apart
Scorn - Anamnesis
Solitude Aeturnus - Adagio
A terrific thing about being in my early thirties is that it affords me just enough memory of the sixties to recall the "TeeVee" series that served as music videos then, like "That Girl" & "I Dream of Genie." Nearly every song on this recording reminds me of the way those television shows looked and sounded. Flippy hairdos, go-go boots, and false eyelashes. Hell, even the design of Chrominance Decoder's packaging is as plush as a deep orange and green shag.
Elinor Blake, aka April March, supplies the "goody two shoes" vocals while Bertrand Burgalat is the songwriter, musician, DJ, and producer. The two are helped out by a host of other talent. The songs of the album fall into two catagories: poppy songs that Elinor sings in English or French; and kooky novelty interludes. A couple of songs, "Nothing New" and "Sugar" are offered in both languages, the latter enlisting the consummate '90s studio accessory, the Dust Brothers.
Drop this one in your Discman, hop on your Vespa, and spend the day shopping in a Petula Clark kind of downtown.
If you are the type (like me) that likes to feel like there is something
burrowing deep inside your head coupled with a sort of frantic nervousness,
then great! You'll love Autechre.
The fifth album by this UK duo is a true artistic duality. A bizarre experiment of fractured electronic structures riding a very warm and human matrix.
This is electronica for the caffeine set. It's designer music. Not techno, but rooted more in the drum&bass genre. An intelligent, ambient, and furious marathon that has a darker feel that keeps it far from techno schlock. Pops, squeaks, drones and a mess of digital shrapnel assembled tightly against a percussive flurry.
As experimental as the 11 songs are, they are filled with pop hooks that hold your ear. The opening track "acroyear2" turns in at just over eight minutes and never once takes a breather from its heart pegging velocity. As the disk winds on it gets more ambient and bassy and actually slows for some seconds ("fold4,wrap5") only to take the listener by the neck, in a somewhat "ready or not here I come" fashion, for another round of digital flogging. "underBOAC" sounds as though you were in a forest full of giant toenail clippers while mechanical tribesmen serenade the village by beating on oil barrels and metal junk with a rough motor running (clanking) as the rythm section.
Autechre are a real gem. They rank up there with Download, Newt and Doughting Thomas. The bands that are keeping things real. It is your brain in a blender, and the blender is on purée.
The Backyard Babies are the darlings of the press and courted by many a
Label, with the riches going to whoever lands them. Now that Dregan has finely
made up his mind to stick to one band (Hellacopters being the other), he
can concentrate on making that rockin' cross of the Adolescents and early
Social Distortion, with some piano thrown in for good measure, like on "(is it)
Still Alright to Smile." On the flipside is a fuzzed out version of
something reminiscent of early Beastie Boys. This is still good in its own
right, but you should check out their second album, Total 13 for further
indoctrination into their greatness. Someone please sign this band and get
them to America!
The Plot Sickens...
This is a mind-blowing demo tape from a Dutch band that I hope to interview
in the coming months. Contact the band at the www.blo-torch.com site for
information on purchasing this tape, because no one should be without one.
This is a landmark; utterly mind-blowing mixture of power metal and black
metal with big huge riffs and hooks that could catch sharks. Toss in a dash
of industrial and a few soundbites imaginatively placed within the melodic
structure of the songs and you have got a potent mix. Probably quite
combustible too! This has elements of Black, Death, Melodic, Thrash,
Industrial and Power Metal. Good Lord, if Wicked World didn't sign them
they would have been blubbering idiots.
Michel's vocals vary greatly song to song, but are always perfect for each song, "King or Karnage" is his best vocal performance. Difficult to describe his vocals since he can go from a full-on death metal growl to a nice textured metal style vocal. He definitely is talented. So talented that I actually thought there were different singers on a few of the tracks. Hassan and Marvin form a pulverizing twin guitar attack that pecks and tears at your bones with their riffs and hooks. John (drums) and Sander (fretless bass) form a solid foundation together for the band to build upon. Together they are technically proficient and extraordinarily exciting.
Songs include "The Plot Sickens," "King of Karnage," "Abandoned" and "March of the Worm." "King of Karnage" rules the demo tape; it is a raging, ripping Slayeresque thrasher with some fantastic lyrics ("do you think everybody is insane or is that what they think of you"). Second place goes to "Abandoned," it just seethes with power chords and feels quite diabolical. Lyrics are in English even though they are Dutch. Make sure you read them, because they are definitely literary for this genre. If you threw Slayer, Skrew, Gorefest and Napalm Death into a blender, this is what you would get--maybe even better. I'm barely controlling myself waiting for the debut cd.
Built To Spill
Keep It Like A Secret
ten out of ten
I rarely like the use of a ranking system with album reviews. It's too subjective without qualified elaboration. I've always felt you should let the reader sift through your words and glean for themselves what is good and what is not about a particular review. But, as always, there is an exception to everything, and for me it is Keep It Like A Secret. Doug Martsch's latest is a beautiful gem that deserves to be recognized as such right from the start. Having finally settled on a permanent line up with Scott Plouf on drums and Martsch's childhood friend Brett Nelson on bass, Keep It Like A Secret is a stripped down and shorter affair in comparison to some of the tracks on previous albums, but the songs still retain the textured layers and quirky turnarounds that have defined the band.
The album opens up with "The Plan." Brett Nelson's descending bass lines provide contrast to Martsch's guitar as he ponders what seem to me to be questions about life. "The plan keeps coming up again / The plan means nothing stays the same / But the plan won't accomplish anything." Martsch has a knack for writing lyrical allegories that let the listener delve as deeply as they like into their meaning. Three songs in, we find "Carry the Zero." Upbeat strumming overlaid with touches of slide guitar and set against seemingly melancholic lyrics. "I'm not knocking your want to carry that home / Took it with you when you moved and got it broke / Found the pieces, we counted them all alone / Didn't add up, forgot to carry a zero."
It's in the contrast between the lush musical interplay and the deeper meaning of the accompanying words that we find the center of Built To Spill, and more importantly, the secret that makes their music timeless. Martsch provides introspection without giving away the answers; illuminating small corners and giving us brief glimpses of what he's hinting at without spelling it out, without giving up the secret. "Else" is the perfect example. A soft lullaby; Plouf's high hat triplets holding down Martsch's vocal lines and mimicking slide guitar. "Funny thing with blood / try to stand but neither leg is awake / Just this side of love / Is where you'll find the confidence not to continue." Much of the guitar here reminds me of George Harrison circa All Things Must Pass. In fact, one can pick up hints of varied inspirations throughout the album. The obvious nod is on "You Were Right," with its juxtaposition of familiar lines from old rock songs along with Martsch's implied meanings. For the more observant, the closing track, "Broken Chairs," finds Martsch's guitar sounding much like Neil Young's. The similarity to Young is especially heard in the vocals during the "well, alright" parts of the song.
As much as Built To Spill is Doug Martsch, one shouldn't overlook the contributions of Brett Nelson and Scott Plouf to making the band's sound and style what it is. Plouf's drumming is spot on and perfectly accentuates every turn of melody Martsch throws in, and Brett Nelson's bass lines and chord progressions provide much of the texture for the music here. In fact, it's difficult to isolate any one instrument or voice throughout the album. Each of the players intertwine their instruments and their sounds around the others, each offering a unique voice that is best heard when intermixed with the rest. It's easy to get lost following these little paths in each of the songs, and it's the reason you will keep coming back to this album. One of many things that make Keep It Like A Secret the gem that it is, and one of the many reasons it deserves to be ranked as the perfect ten.
Spring Equinox (Moon's Milk or Under an Unquiet Skull)
Summer Solstice (Bee Stings)
Fall Equinox (Amethyst Deceivers)
Winter Solstice (North)
A year has passed and Coil's four CD singles, highlighting the height and
depth of the seasons, have been released. I reviewed Spring a year ago
when it first came out and went back to it with some eagerness to hear all
four in succession, to see what Balance and Christopherson have wrought
over the course of twelve months, to hear a year in the life of Coil.
The two tracks of Spring were wound around the moaning sound of a treated organ, the instrument dusty from misuse and permanently skewed, slightly out of tune. The instrument manages to regain some of its glory, buoyed by the lift of a field of violins, but the undercurrent of rumbling decay--the past not quite willing to release its hold on the new spring--can still be felt. If it is a celebration, it is a melancholic one. This gathering is glad to see the approaching Spring, but also regrets the disappearance of Winter. The transference from one season to the next is not done without a little hesitation. The unquiet skull would seem to be a fear of what will grow from the cold soil this Spring. What sorrow was planted in the earth during the dark Winter?
I felt it was a cautious Spring and wondered how Summer would fare. Summer has been touched by Spring and the organ is left behind, cut away to make room for the vocal track which conspires with the strings and the echoing atmospherics. But the mood is still cautious, still uncertain of the future. It isn't a hot summer, but a season of risk and strain. There is a fear that one night the sun will simply not return. And on this, the longest day of the year, the lament is pronounced because tomorrow the sun starts to go dark longer and longer. "The sun is coming!" The final track, "A Warning from the Sun," is a noisy explosion of sound, nearly obscuring this sample, an eruption of joy at the return of the majestic life-giver, but marred with a dreadful sense of panic.
Fall begins with an interwoven lament. Voices rise and curl around one another like drifting smoke. The air has started to cool and there are hooded folk on the plains, softly crying to the shortening days. The third track, "Switches," is a distant drone, machinery which perpetually runs on through the nights, and around that drone grows a spasm of static and noise like a night sky filled with a meteor shower. The air is cold and crisp enough that you can see for miles. The season has turned and the music becomes more remote, colder and more mechanical as the warmth begins to drain from it. "Amethyst Deceivers" has a gentle acoustic guitar melody spiraling through it, but the echo of the falling stars is still present and the single verse is bleak and the chorus haunts the background, tinged with decay.
Whither Winter? The year is already coming to a close, as the lyrics of the first track of Winter are memories of the tracks gone before The spiral is tightening inward, the head tucking back towards the body, age and decrepitude tugging us back into a tight, fetal ball. The vocals on this final disc lean towards fragmentary, like lost lines of poetry floating in the ether, fading gently in and out of the moaning atmosphere. There are rushes of sound, signals compacted into hurried frenzies. The caution and fear and apprehension of the preceding seasons are draining away, mist leeching into the ground. There is a sense of completion in the drone which takes us through "Magnetic North." The last track is "Christmas is Drawing Near" and, like "Rosa Decidua" on Fall, is actually done by Rosa Mundi--Coil complemented by Rose McDowall and Robert Lee of Sorrow. Ending with a traditional song leaves us with a sensation of closure, a ritual complete.
John Balance and Peter Christopherson have made an extraordinary musical record of the passage of time, replete with mythic overtones to forgotten rituals, sonic recreations of emotional upheaval and exultation, and the passage of night into day, day into year, year into history.
Soaring With Eagles At Night To Rise With The Pigs In The Morning
White Jazz Records/House Of Kicks Distribution
The self-dubbed Kings of Rock return with their third release Soaring With
Eagles At Night To Rise With The Pigs In The Morning. Soaring is a blend
of punk, metal and '70s/'80s hard rock (i.e. AC/DC, Kiss, Guns N Roses,
Dictators, Cheap Trick, early Van Halen, Stooges, BOA, Molly Hatchet, B&OUML;C).
In other words, Gluecifer has become the '90s version of the Dictators.
Punks won't emote over this until 10 years have passed and it's safe to come
out of the closet and admit they liked it...just like the Dictators. Of
course, after ten years everyone will say they've been listening for
eons...just like the Dictators. I'm afraid they've made a statement and the
response may not be as enthusiastic as they wished. The unwritten (guess I
blew that) underground rule is that you cannot make a record that fuses the underground sound with above-ground Top 40 stuff, even if it is pretty good. The album is good, it's just not punk anymore, it's expanded beyond
the "punk" stereotype, which means they'll be labelled "sellouts" or worse.
"Bossheaded" leads off the cd with a blistering boogie-rock-punk-metal tune
that rocks hard and borrows just a riff or two from all those southern rock
bands you love to hate. "Go Away Man" is a paean to loners and mixes a little
AC/DC with the Southern Boogie sound to really make the punk-metal riffs
more intense than before. "Get The Horn" starts out with a stolen Dire
Straits riff before blasting into many wah-wah metallic riffs turning this
ditty into a hard rock masterpiece. "Critical Minute" rocks hard with a
slight Van Halen influence in the chorus. "Silver Wings" has a chorus that
reminds me of "Dancing With Mr. Brownstone" by Guns N Roses, but the rest of
the song is pure Gluecifer punk/metal. "Lord Of the Dusk" calls out the
black metal minions (lyrics: "Sign up for duty in black now / Hatin it from
PO Box 4 / Hear it from the Lord Of the Dusk, he's a bore / Screamin to an
evil 4-track tape / Plug in to his headphones for a so-called aural rape /
Demon Posters on his wall / Posin' in the snow won't let you hear the demons
call") with some heavy psychedelic wah-wah metal sounds. "Lord Of The Dusk"
is taking the chance that thousands of Norwegian Devil-Worshipping,
Snow-Posing, Black Metallers won't show up to burn down their studio (that's
gutsy) or there's the chance they'll just laugh (yeah, like they've done
that before). "Deadend Beat" slows it down with some heavy bluesish rock
that reminds me a bit of the Stooges crossed with a bluesy Black Sabbath.
"Clean Gone Mean," "The Year Of Manly Living," "Heart Of A Bad Machine"
and "Gimme Solid Gold" are hard rock '70s songs that will remind you of
Kiss, B&OUML;C, AC/DC and the Dictators.
This isn't bad by any means, but punk purists will be terrified and run away like cockroaches from the light. Real rockers will dismiss it as attempted crossover, so all that's left are those who have been rising with the pigs all these years...and even some of them will not be admit to liking this album for fear of that poser tag.
Golden Smog's latest release features songs with a certain ease, not unlike
the stuff that you heard when riding in your mom's faux-wood paneled
station wagon when you were five. This band, a collaborative side effort
that features members of Big Star (Jody Stephens), Jayhawks (Gary Louris
and Marc Perlman), Run Westy Run (Kraig Johnson), Soul Asylum (Dan Murphy)
and Wilco (Jeff Tweedy), have you feeling warm and fuzzy with the nostalgic
hooks that invite you singing into their world of alt-country/roots rock.
"Looking Forward To Seeing You" is a great road song for the summer with its pedal steel and fiddle. From down-home pop ("To Call My Own), anthemic/boozy blues ("If I Only Had A Car"), cool latin/funk-inspired rock ("Keys"), Weird Tales displays a wide range of songs that bring you into the world of the characters in these songs. The somber tone of "Making Waves" is reminiscent of Lou Reed's plaintive "Coney Island Baby." The airy ballad "Jennifer Save Me" finds you "oohing" along with the chorus.
At first my overactive thinking faculties got in the way and I found the songs on this album somewhat silly and that annoyed me. But at the second and then the third listens, my ears began to welcome the straight forward rock that Golden Smog showcase on this disc. Like the sun breaks that we have in the Pacific Northwest, at first it will make you squint in discomfort, but as soon as you get acclimated it becomes something that you realize you need.
Hashisheen - The End of Law
Sub Rosa (Belgium)
Over the last couple of years, Janet Rienstra and Bill Laswell have been
putting together spoken word projects which have blended atmospheric
ambient music and the craft of story-telling. Each project has had its own
focus, beginning with Greek and Roman mythology, bending eastward for
Kundalini's tale, and returning to the Mediterranean for the tale of The
Old Man of the Mountain: Hassan-i Sabbah. Hashisheen isn't intended as
promulgation of the Assassin rhetoric, but rather as an examination of the
historical texts and mythology which surround this 11th century sect. It
is an attempt to weave together music and text to "produce a visionary
experience of the Hashisheen and their inner history."
The basic idea is to use their own writings, myths of their exploits, historical descriptions by their enemies and other observers, and to give these words life through the rich vocal talents of folks like Sussan Deyhim, Genesis P. Orridge, Iggy Pop, William S. Burroughs (from beyond the grave), Hakim Bey, Percy Howard, Patti Smith, and Nicole Blackman. Wreathed around the stories is music from Techno Animal, Laswell, Anton Fier, Paul Schutze, Jah Wobble, Helios Creed, and Eyeless in Gaza. How can you do justice to all of the contributors? Rienstra and Laswell have gotten good at this sort of construct and the result is a lyrically expansive hour of music and voice that seems not so much a history lesson as an adventure to a space and time which has been obscured for centuries.
And frankly, Sussan Deyhim and Nicole Blackman don't get enough work. Their voices, completely beguiling for differing reasons, add such texture that you aren't too terribly disappointed at the brevity of their contributions. On the resonant baritone side, Percy Howard, Hakim Bey, and Genesis P. Orridge bring an excellent counterpoint. The only marring voice is Iggy Pop's, who just seems a little out of step with the rest of the vocalists. Just a little.
eP co-conspirator Paul Goracke and I traded emails about this album last month, and he had a concise insight which summed up the trouble I was having classifying this disc: "If you like companion books to PBS series, you'll probably like this." The ambient stylings of the music push this disc away from conscious listening, but the words pull it back towards you. It does demand a more active participation from its audience, but it is an evocative listen that will build a place in your collection over time...if you are the type who has actually thumbed through the stack of picture books on your coffee table.
"Down Right Blue" b/w "Thanks for Nothing"
Word has it that Sub Pop have landed one of Scandinavia's hottest bands. These guys are part of a four-pack of blockbuster rockin' bands. Please pass more booze! If you haven't heard of them, please put the pipe slowly down and come up for some
air! The Hellacopters play some of America's finer '70s music, i.e.
Dictators, Stooges, Dead Boys. Having picked up a new guitar player, they
have not lost a step in intensity or swill. This single is loaded with lots
of sleazy rock 'n' rollin' Hellacopters craziness. If you are in the
Northwest around the end of May check these guys out, they are playing two
shows. [may 27th in seattle, and may 29th at garage shock in bellingham. --ed.]
GUN (Great Unlimited Noises)
Order from Repulse/Warhead
My nominee for ugliest cover art of the month...it looks like a photo of a
set of pistons aflame with a super-imposed upside-down Christ figure. Oooh,
such blasphemy...such stupid cover art. But the music isn't nearly as bad
as the cover (Thank God!), actually the music is pretty darn good.
Exceptionally fast and blasphemic thrash metal. The vocals remind me of the
group chanting in a guttural death metal croakgrowl. It almost sounds as if
the vocals are double-tracked or twins are chanting death-like belch
together on many choruses. If you take speed metal and multiply it by 666,
it would be close to being this fast. The members of this band are blessed
with some of the fastest fingers and arms that I have ever heard. Max and
Moyses Kolesne are brothers (must be one hell of a family lineage)--Max is
on drums and Moyses on guitar. Man, speed must run in this family. The
music is fantastic, every speedaholics wet dream. Much faster than Slayer,
DRI or any other thrash group that I've ever heard.
If satanic lyrics offend you, simply don't worry, you rarely understand a word the vocalist says anyway. Best songs: "Creation's Scourge," "Kings Of Killing," "Apocalyptic Victory" and "March Of Black Hordes." Just kick back and enjoy the thrashing music. Turn it up loud and you hear every note because the production is great, but a little quiet. It starts off with three explosions and then the brothers Kolesne drop a bomb on you. This is powerful stuff. If you like it fast (and blasphemic) then Krisiun is for you.
Breath Of Night Records
(under license from Bestial Records)
Vampyric black metal with a Transylvanian (well, Romanian) twist. The music
is black metal with a slight symphonic touch. The vocals are mostly
traditional death metal whisper-growl (How long does it take these guys to
learn to make these noises--it's incredible--try it yourself at home. Don't
forget the milk or the lozenges.) The lyrics will be difficult to follow
unless you speak Romanian. If you enjoy Cradle of Filth this may be for you
because they have the same horror-movie soundtrack feel to their music.
Negura Bunget just doesn't have the same high-priced production that Cradle
of Filth can afford. Nor are they on the same level creatively as Cradle of
Filth. But maybe in a couple of years...who knows?
All the songs have the same fluttering, fluctuating organ/keyboard soundtrack passage as a sound backdrop rendering the songs indistinguishable from the others. Only once or twice do they really take off and rock, then as abruptly as it started, it stops. They show a lot of promise, but need to learn to write different songs that actually sound different. "Blaznit" kicks the cd off with a strong black metal song embellished with just a few symphonic touches. It sounds as if the symphonic touches are sampled, I suspect many of the melodic portions of the songs are samples. "Negrii" utilizes a singtalk kind of vocal mixed with the death metal whisper growl, but has more of a melodic nature than "Blaznit." If it weren't for the pause and the number changing on the cd deck, you wouldn't know that "In Miaz de Negro" wasn't a continuation of "Negrii," the songs sound exactly the same. Ditto that comment for the rest of the compact disc.
I hope that they get some production help to guide them on their next cd--maybe a bigger budget (or Bunget) would help. This is a strong band and will certainly grow (probably quickly) by the next release into a force that will cause some heads to turn around and around.
Things Fall Apart
The Roots' current release, Things Fall Apart, appeals to your mind but
doesn't ignore your booty. Black Thought (MC/Tariq Trotter), Malik B
(rapper/Malik Abdul-Basit), ?uestlove (rhythmist/Ahmir-Khalib Thompson),
Hub (bassist/Leonard Hubbard), Kamal (human beatbox/Scott Storch), Rahzel
The Godfather of Noyze (verbal percussionist/Rahzel Brown) and Dice Raw
(freestyler) may be a cerebral lot but they're not caught up in pretense to
lose the groove. To use the catch phrase from the cool jazz swing of
"Dynamite," "All the way live from 215," The Roots have been together for a
decade, presenting an esoteric style combining hip hop street smarts with
an aesthetic adopted from the avant garde arts scene. The Roots combine
their musicianship (yes, they play for real) and poetry offering the
listener a sense of musical fulfillment, a task not easily or commonly
To kick off an album with "Act Won: Things Fall Apart" with a sound bite from a scene in Spike Lee's Mo' Better Blues, where jazz trumpeter Black Gilliam (Denzel Washington) and saxophonist Shadow Henderson (Wesley Snipes) debate over the value of relying on the community for support as their audience and the question of whether or not they are giving the people what they want is a bold move from The Roots. The band from Illadelph (Philadelphia) pose the question of giving back to the audience what they need as opposed to simply what they want. Instead of including samples from other artists' works, Things Fall Apart features guest artists (or "house geniuses" as the band kindly refers) Schooly D, D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, Eve of Destruction, Common, and producer Jay Dee, to name a few. "Without A Doubt" is a homage to Schooly D's "Saturday Night." "The Spark," which stemmed from collaborations with D'Angelo, led to having Mr. Brown Sugar himself on bass keys. The self-appointed love joint, "You Got Me," has Erykah Badu singing the cryptic chorus (written by Jill Scott): "If you were worried bout where I been or who I saw or what club I went to wit my homies. Baby don't worry, you know you got me." The album ends (sort of) with poet Ursula Ruckers and the tragic spoken word piece "The Return To Innocence Lost."
Although we're only in the first quarter of the year, this is the best hip hop release to date. An eclectic approach to hip hop, there are a lot of pleasant surprises on Things Fall Apart. When a band can effectively incorporate the cello ("Diedre vs. Dice") and even drum and bass (ending of "You Got Me") into the world of hip hop and give fans a hidden track, how can you go wrong?
Anamnesis: the recollection or remembrance of the past. (Hey, I had to
look it up.) These eleven tracks are, essentially, the lost Scorn tracks
from the period of 1994-1997. Well, they weren't that lost, just
relatively unavailable, scattered across compilations and distant foreign
releases. Invisible, which is doing a great job of bringing
industrial-tinged electronic music to the US from overseas, has collected
these lost children and, together with a previously unreleased Peel
Session, gifted unto us the last remnants of the Old Republic. Mick Harris
has claimed that Scorn as an entity is dead and here is our last glimpse of
a mighty beautiful corpse.
The Peel Session ("Almost Human," "Maker of Angels," and "Scorpionic") is from late 1993 and contains some of the last work that Nik Bullen did with Mick before Scorn became a one man show. These three tracks are the last whispers of vocal tracks one will hear from Scorn as Mick began to delve deeper into the darker abyss of reverb and throbbing bass after Bullen's departure from the band. The tracks chart the successive plunge of low-end sound that the band became known for, deep rumbling bass lines that shake the windows in their frames.
There are albums that force you to consider upgrading or expanding your stereo system. This is one of them. If you don't have a subwoofer, you will start thinking about buying one. Scorn communicates on a subsonic level with the base of your spine. I'm listening to the album on the stereo in my office as I write this and it sounds anemic, empty of punch and that bowel-rattling snarl which I heard earlier today when I annoyed the neighbors from the living room.
The last track is the "Unstable Sidereal Oneiroscopic Mix" of "Dreamscape" and was previously only available on a Japanese version of Ellipsis. Translation: it's a Coil remix, and is a departure from the rest of the album (probably placed out of historical sequence at the end for that very reason), oddly precognitive of some of the textures adopted by Mick as he ventures beyond Scorn into other projects. Anamnesis is an excellent starting point for anyone looking to ease their way into the vast range of Mick Harris' work, highlighting the dark beat-infested subsonic atmospheres which have come from The Box.
Godly! Heavier than two elephants balancing on your lungs. This will be on
my best of list for this year. Pure decimating doom with deep melodic
vocals, downtuned basses and low-slung guitar slinging and extraordinary
pounding drums. Sad enough, majestic enough, the lyrics make your heart
bleed (like good doom bands do) and your brain function, the music only
reinforces the overall sadness and despair. Robert Lowe's vocals are
masterful, they are melodic without being wussy and strong enough without
the "growl." The bass by Steve Mosley is absolutely crushing and in perfect
rhythm with John "Wolf" Covington's heavy-handed, somber drumming. John
Perez and Edgar Rivera serve up some of the heaviest, crunchiest power
chords I've ever heard. The production is crystal clear and absolutely
perfect. Through the crappiest speakers in the world (I have them) this
sounds pristine. The artwork is eye-catching with greys emblazoned with an
almost holographic effect upon silver. Very stunning.
Adagio has that feeling of a fog lifting and that enlightenment is only a few trials and tribulations away. Opening with a quiet moment before launching into the anthemic "My Endtime" which sets the tone for the doom to follow. "Days Of Prayer" lumbers into the foggy picture with its swaggering basslines and strong vocals. "Believe" just blows all the skeletons out of the closet; it is catchy, melodic and heavy and almost feels cathartic. "Idis" is so heavy and so perfect, it's just stunning and must be heard to truly be appreciated. "Personal God" uses some cool echo effects on the vocals and maybe the guitars that just really drives home the feeling of being surrounded musically and spritually perhaps even to the point that it feels scary, then thumps you into oblivion with melody. "Mental Pictures" uses melodic wailing vocals to lift you above the fog and then thrashes you with wind-whipped drums back down into the fog; it leaves you swirling. "Insanity's Circles" swirls its doomy fog around you in a crushing lullaby. "The Fall" is remarkably reminiscent of Pink Floyd and features vocals by John Perez (considerably deeper and more throaty than Robert Lowe) as it lumbers through a folkish lament, "Lament" is a slow, heavy dirge that is so bottom-heavy it makes stuff reverberate around the house if you get it loud enough, "Empty Faith" gets croaked out by Lowe as the band spins a swirling onslaught of vicious guitars, cutting bass and spitting drums. "Spiral Descent" starts out with a martial, rhythmic pattern which is elevated to an anthemic rocker as soon as Lowe's vocals kick in. Occasionally Lowe uses whispering to tremendous effect in "Spiral Descent." "Heaven and Hell" is a Black Sabbath cover that closes the entire disc with dignity and has been covered so well that the fog that is Solitude Aeturnus hath made it its own.
I have no idea how they could follow this masterpiece. Let the fog of Solitude Aeturnus embrace you and carry you on a journey through Heaven and Hell with Adagio.