Rather later than originally intended – I had to push it back a week because of Whitby – here is my usual tracks of the month roundup.
Oh, and you can hear most of the songs on the Spotify playlist.
Track Of The Month
It’s been a long, long time coming – and delayed by some considerable time thanks to the well-documented problems at SPV – but the new Covenant single is finally here. A collaboration with fellow Swedes Necro Facility, this is Covenant taken in new and different directions, but retaining the hook-laden core that Covenant are so very, very good at. Just try, once you’ve heard it a couple of times, to get the chorus and the synth hook out of your head. But there is more than just those elements that are of note, as Necro Facility deliver the restrained, heavily-treated verse vocals, while Eskil soars in for the chorus. It’s Covenant, Jim, just not quite as we knew them before. The remixes are also of note, too, in particular Lightbringer (Speedrun) that is the club-destined version – the album version is perhaps a little slow for clubs, to be fair. The long-promised album Modern Ruin, according to the liner notes, is finally due in 2011.
Thanks to Stella for the headsup on this lot – a seemingly London-based band who, by their own admission, channel Kate Bush, My Bloody Valentine, Curve and Nine Inch Nails, and remarkably really do end up sounding like a mashup of the four. It has a shoegazey vibe to it, particularly in the barely intelligible vocals, the buzzing guitars, and the dense production. But crucially they haven’t forgotten the tunes, particularly in the fantastic title track. They are playing live in London twice this month, and I perhaps ought to make a beeline for at least one of the gigs – I suspect we are going to be hearing a lot more about this lot in the coming months.
Not In Love
Oh, wow. It doesn’t sound like much more than Bob mumbling over a shuffling beat to start with, but just wait until the chorus bursts through the clouds. This is fucking glorious, and deserves to be top of the charts for the rest of the year, when in reality some turgid “indie” band or X-factor reject will do so, and this will remain a minor indie delight. I didn’t even know it was a cover of an 80s track, either.
This Is The New Wave
When this project first surfaced (if you didn’t already know, it’s Phil Barry of Cubanate’s solo project), I don’t think anyone thought that it would end up being a precursor to the actual return of the mighty Cubanate. But that’s what has happened, remarkably, and my hope is that this link and the excitement around their return will translate into a greater interest in BME too. Let’s be honest – this album is hardly a million miles away from the brutal industrial power that Cubanate always had, and in the hands of the right DJs should already be terrorising dancefloors (and I’ll be doing my bit to assist with this in the coming weeks). A full review will follow shortly, as this album deserves a full appraisal, but in the meantime, here’s the track that for me is the standout. A stomping, mid-paced track with a searing, guitar-assisted chorus, that should be just right for punching holes in the walls.
Lo (definition) Dischord
It was indescribably heartening to see Earthtone9 received like conquering heroes at Damnation at the weekend, as they continued their comeback nearly ten years after first splitting. Their “difficult”, complex metal compositions perhaps simply needed time to sink in, and over the years a greater appreciation appears to have been gained, certainly judging on Saturday. Anyway, this track, one of the first they released back in 1996, was one of the (many) highlights on Saturday, and even in the demo version on the Spotify playlist it’s bulldozing potential is clear.
The Trouble With Angels
Filter’s “best-of” The Very Best Things (1995–2008) from the other year was, more than anything else, a pointer back to how good this band used to be, before they descended into radio-friendly balladry, almost expunging all of the industrial grime that had previously caked their work. So it was something of a surprise to pick up the new album, and to find that Richard Patrick appears to have been thinking the same. It’s not all perfect, but it has more than enough moments where they actually rock again, of which this, the lead single, is by far the strongest. Interestingly, too, this is a track that’s been apparently kicking around since The Almagamut, having been rejected from that, and it’s hard to see why it was. A bruising rhythm and quasi-nu-metal riff (just check that downtuning!), with one of those huge choruses that Filter do so well. Welcome back.
The Height of Callousness
Talking of 90s industrial metal…we had something of a 90s revival evening one Friday recently at home, and this old gem popped up. Spineshank could and perhaps should have sunk without trace after their godawful cover of While My Guitar Gently Weeps from their debut album, but instead they regrouped and returned with an album of snappy, pulsating industrial metal that frankly was absolutely brilliant. The lead track was this, that storms out of the blocks like a train, before stepping on the gas and leaping out of the speakers for the monster chorus. The video looks a little dated and cheesy now, but don’t let that take anything away from this storming track – by far one of the best tracks from that fallow late-90s period for the metal scene.
Larva Pupa Tank Coffin
I’m not normally one who approves of a steady stream of remix albums – I’d rather wait for new material – but when one contains a new track as great as this, I’m willing to cut a little slack. The last Angelspit album for me simply wasn’t as good as the previous ones, indeed it had become something of a case of diminishing returns. But this track hopefully has got the band on the right track again – pounding dancefloor-aimed beats, a vicious, sneering vocal and simply something that actually sounds like they give a shit again. More like this on the next album, please.
Our Souls To You
Yes, they still sound something like Killing Joke – particularly in the bellowed vocals – but this band’s impressive start to their career has continued with this, an absolutely juggernaut of an album that is full of heavy, heavy songs and some absolutely stonking chugging metal. Still my favourite is this song, though – a song where rather than being recorded at full tilt, seems to be reined in a little and sounds all the better for it.
Waltz #2 (XO)
An Introduction to…
Perhaps, at last, Elliott Smith might get more of the recognition he deserved during his lifetime, with the long-overdue release of a career retrospective. More than just acoustic laments from a (very) depressed man, Smith’s songs were always rather more than that, full of emotion and life. And, frankly, almost every song he did was better than Miss Misery, and the track I’ve chosen is probably my favourite. It’s a waltz, kind of, as it’s title suggests, and is an impossibly lovely song.