So, then: ten tracks for the month.
Track of the Month
Alice in Chains
Check My Brain
Black Gives Way To Blue
I could never in a million years – not even after their triumphant show at Sonisphere – have expected this comeback album to be so sodding good. Fourteen years on from the last album that featured Layne Staley, the reconvened band with new frontman William DuVall have all but picked up from where they left off. The familiar, grinding sound is back, most of the songs still have the same dark feel, but just in a few moments they let a little glimmer of positivity in – a sign, if any more were needed, that this is a rejuvenated band. Layne clearly gets a few nods, and there is, remarkably, not a single duff moment on the album. My favourite at the moment is this one, a huge, anthemic track that isn’t as uptempo as the beat initally suggests due to the drawling vocals. I have a feeling that at the forthcoming shows the monstrous chorus is going to be roared back at the band by the whole crowd…
The Poison Moon
How on earth is this not on the album? Unlike the single itself – which is pretty much as you’d expect from Tom Shear’s now long-running band, a dancefloor-friendly piece of electro melancholy – this takes a few different turns along the way and provides a glimpse of something he should perhaps investigate more closely. A little bit of a slower beat, a subtle guitar riff coils around the (brilliant) chorus, and everything feels just that little bit different. And yet, it’s another brilliant A23 track cast away as a B-side that many may never hear. Hunt it out.
Compensation for the Sound of Silence
An album that I would never have even stumbled across were it not for the recommendation from Miguel, and I really have to thank him for this, as I now adore this. Falling somewhere in the realms of the darker end of electro-synthpop, it’s proven really difficult to be able to describe this and do it justice. Synths wash over your ears, his gentle, curiously treated vocal is warm and emotive, and (man behind the project) Richard Duggan has a killer way with a chorus and melodies. You can even go and download it for free, if you want to listen to it first, so off you go.
One Of A Twin
Two Minute Terror
It’s been many, many years since the first album and Sunna seemingly vanishing, like so many alternative bands seemed to do during the early part of this decade – and it was as much of a surprise to see them suddenly return last month. The comeback track – this one – is remarkable, too. A grinding, simmering track underpinned by a rumbling bassline and jagged guitars, if the rest of the album is of this quality, I’m all ears.
The Rise of Darkness
All Shall Fall
Back after reforming – and seven years since their last album – this new album is perhaps surprisingly good. No re-inventing the wheel here, though, it’s simply top-drawer Black Metal with a decent production, and frankly, I don’t think I’d want it any other way. There are some neck-snapping sections in here, too – and this is why this track is here, as when it finally takes off properly it’s an astonishing display of metallic power. And, at least (on the first few listens) the lyrics aren’t as ridiculous as before – sadly, though, in the inlay they do look as ridiculous as before…
Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us
Another band doing no reinventing the wheel – they got so burnt last time that it took them some years to recover – with this album picking up where the brilliant-return-to-form In Requiem left off, although this album doesn’t quite have the great songs that it’s predecessor did. There are a couple of exceptions, though, of which this is one – Nick Holmes has returned at least in part to a deep growl for his vocals, but goes back to a more melodic vocal for the chorus here, and the music is crunching, gothic rock – and interestingly there appears to be little or no electronics used on this album, probably the first time since before Draconian Times?
Liebe ist für alle da
Recent single Pussy – with it’s X-rated video – certain garnered a lot of comment, and divided opinion in a big way. The B-side to the single is the opening track from the album, and this is much more like it. Never mind the throwaway silliness of Pussy, this track reminds me why I have loved Rammstein for years. Like all great R+ opening tracks, it takes a time to get going, stompingly heavy and deliciously overblown, and if you liked old R+, I suspect you’ll like this too. And, as Daisy noted upon first listen, it doesn’t half sound like Laibach, too (more so than before, in fact). Either way, it’s nice to have them back at last, and I’m really looking forward to the album now…
Do You Feel The Same?
I’ve criticised this band in the past for sounding a little too close to Skinny Puppy, but although I expected them to gain more of their own sound, I wasn’t expecting this. Initially it still sounds like SP – the orchestral-synths in the background are pure SP, as is the hulking backbone that is the beat programming, but the unexpected, melodic chorus is bloody marvellous and where they have managed to take a turn away to their own style. The opening track on Dependent’s return to the Septic series, my only complaint is that it is far too bloody short…
Only Better [Gritty]
The Perfect Solution
This took me a couple of listens to appreciate this, but this is a great return from a band that I’ve perhaps loved and hated in almost equal measures over the years. I’m back to loving them at the moment (I think that’s the fault of seeing them live earlier in the year, and suddenly realising that I pretty much knew the words to everything they played…), and this single is simply another great Mesh track. Dark and poppy at the same time, with another of Mesh’s killer choruses at the heart. And with this and the cracking track that they supplied for Septic VIII, this new album is going to be worth a listen, I’m hoping….
We The Fallen
Previous, breakthrough album Crwn Thy Frnictr swept in on a cloak of darkness, bringing black metal textures to “harsh” industrial in some style. It has been a couple of years, though, since, and they are back with new album We The Fallen, which to my mind does a far better job of integrating the BM influence to their sound, rather than just chucking in a couple of BM-based tracks. The title track – with it’s martial drumming, hulking beats, and oppressive atmosphere – is impressive, but it is this track that really steals the honours – the slightly slower pace for the stompingly heavy beats and twisted riffs, the sneering, snarling vocals, and the little second of air before the chorus comes crashing back in. They may look like they’ve overdressed a little from Hot Topic, but they certainly sound authentically evil.