This month’s ten tracks I think you should hear.
Track of the Month
The Big Pink
A Brief History Of Love
It took me a while to get into this, and somehow I’d missed Dominos for some time (I missed the hype entirely, and instead was able to come to the band on my own terms). The album is rather less immediate than the single, though, and is all the better for it. This is the opener, and a beautiful, shimmering guitar chord and a rumbling bassline form the backbone of the track that occasionally comes up for air from it’s otherwise shoegaze-y feel. It’s also clear why Robbie Furze has barely mentioned the link to his previous band, too – this is a few star systems away from Panic DHH, but they apparently retain a little of the extremities live…
Olivier Moreau, welcome back. Ten years since the release of Nord, Imminent are back with an absolutely astounding display of rhythmic industrial noise. Really, the whole album is brilliant, with no filler whatsoever over it’s hour-plus running time. Probably my favourite track so far is the pounding electronic whirlwind that is Bock, which seems to suck in noise from around it as it goes along with a core of heavy, heavy beats holding everything together. It should also be noted that for a rhythmic album such as this, it’s a surprisingly listenable album, too – it ain’t just for dancefloors.
My Despair (Slowdive)
My Despair CDM
Long-awaited – like, a year later than intended, it appears – but at least worth the wait, as is so often the case with this unusual and unique band. The single itself is as you’d expect from ISC nowadays – it’s beautifully constructed sonic art, but the single version at least seems to be missing something. Of the five different versions on the CD (there are two other new tracks too), this “Slowdive” variant is the pick – removing the club beats and turning it into a delicate ballad makes the track work much, much better.
Prey On You EP
It’s going to be fun to guess which way I:Scintilla are going to head with their new (forthcoming) album, going on the evidence of the three new songs featured on this EP. All three are vastly different in style, and the pick for me of the three is the second one – a near speed metal beat and chugging guitar riff, and Brittany Bindrim’s vocals soaring over the top (in probably her best vocal performance yet). By showing off the variety of styles they can do, they are doing an amazing job of refusing to be pigeonholed, so let’s hope they can keep up the quality level for the whole of the new album too…
The Art of Breaking Apart
After the really quite poor Lust For Blood, it’s something of a pleasant surprise to be enjoying the new VAC release so much. For half of it, it’s what you’d expect – trippy dancefloor industrial of the style VAC have been releasing for years (and not to mention an impressive reworking of Phucking Phreak, although I’m not exactly sure why that was necessary) – but it’s the other half of this album that is something of an almighty shock. This track was the first to break cover from the album, on Septic VIII, and it’s extraordinary. It’s VAC stripped down to subtle beats and an acoustic guitar (!), and Bryan’s vocals stripped of all treatment, resulting in a pretty song that works very well indeed. Who’d have thunk it?
Gods Look Down
This Is Not A False Alarm Anymore
Another long-awaited, and most welcome release, I’d almost given up hope that this album was ever going to arrive. v01d first came to my attention on a couple of the Cyanotic/Glitch Mode-led compilations a few years ago, and the astonishingly intense tracks on those appeared to map out a positive future. So it’s a bit of a surprise to see a much more mellow direction, in the main, followed here. This track is a case in point – pretty much blissed-out hip-hop, to all intents and purposes, with shuffling beats and distorted vocals running the show.
Not Of This God
World Painted Blood
It may not be vintage Slayer, this album as a whole, but it certainly has it’s moments. And in particular the rampaging closing track, which coupled with the usual Kerry King lyrical target of organised religion, really does borrow somewhat from a few Slayer classics. As a four-minute reminder of (musically) why we love Slayer, though, it’s unstoppable.
Those Whom The Gods Detest
A new Nile album is always welcome, not least as the band are a damned sight more interesting than some of their peers. Part of that is down to their main lyrical influence, of course – the well researched lyrics and themes of Egyptology and on occasions the wider ancient world, particularly with the return of the highly-detailed and entertaining liner notes this time around, help to keep things interesting. This opening track from the album is a fascinating one, too: the title in Islam means “concealer of the truth” (or, in other words, non-believer), and the lyrics are inspired by the fight against religion for centuries by the Afghan peoples in Nuristan (what was Kafiristan previously). As is often the case with Nile, musically it’s certainly not run-of-the-mill death metal – instead it builds an oppressive, black shadow over proceedings and arabic chanting also features, surprisingly seamlessly. And, needless to say, it is still crushingly heavy death metal too.
Bring Me Victory EP
Two very different covers form the main reason, frankly, to purchase the new MDB EP (although the live version of Vast Choirs is pretty damned good too). One of the covers is of folk standard Scarborough Fair (which works better than you might think), but the other is a near-perfect cover of a near-perfect choice of song. The original I put in my top ten tracks of the 90s only last week, and I feel no need to apologise for this appearing again. Aaron’s voice doesn’t need to ape Michael Gira – his deep, rich voice is easily a match for the track, and MDB have another ace up their sleeve in introducing the whole band later in the song for something of a tumultuous conclusion compared to the original. Still, wow.
I Feel You
These Eyes Before
I’d be lying if I said I liked all of this unexpected covers album – in particular, my dislike of Pink Floyd means that the two tracks of theirs covered do nothing for me at all – but there are some really, really interesting moments here. Creep is a choice that to start with seems to jar but settles into a nice groove, but it is their cover of a Depeche Mode classic where the band sound the most comfortable with the material. Indeed, they don’t do a lot with the original, but then, the original track is so good they perhaps didn’t need to…