Another month, another round-up of the various new music that has come my way recently.
It’s been an interesting mix of material, too, and with a whole slew of gigs still to come during May, I’m sure there’s yet more to come.
Track of the Month
The Heart Is A Monster
The return of the critically-acclaimed but never that successful Failure is something to celebrate – a band finally getting their due after years of being a band that only press were writing and raving about. They are currently gearing up to release their first new album in eighteen years (since the space-rock glory of Fantastic Planet), following a well-funded Kickstarter/Pledge run, and this track is the first release from it – a muscular, catchy song that keeps all the elements we loved from the Failure of the past, and with a bit of luck this time things will be rather more successful. Also, their first live gig in London (and the UK) in nearly two decades on 18-May. I’ll be somewhere near the front.
I of the Storm
Beneath The Skin
A follow-up at last to the wonderful whimsy of My Head Is An Animal is on the horizon, four years after the release of their debut – although it’s actually three years since most of us heard them, as their breakthrough outside of Iceland actually took some time! Anyway, it’s not hard to see why they hit the success that they did in the end – their talent for deceptively slight, warming songs undimmed by the evidence of the first couple of songs released from the forthcoming album. This track in particular is gorgeous, Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir’s soft and heartbroken vocals drifting into focus through an unobtrusive backing.
Chelsea Wolfe’s core aesthetic has remained unchanged through the five years of her musical career so far – a shroud of unremitting, bleak darkness – but interestingly she’s been able to mould her musical style into different forms as she progressed. Initially things were biased toward exceptionally dark folk and drone, before on last album Pain Is Beauty, elements of electronics were slotted seamlessly into the mix. Here, though, on the first track from her forthcoming fourth album, the metallic elements that have always bubbled away under the surface have finally found a release, and this grinds forth in a doomy, majestic crawl.
The Comfort of Loss & Dust
Cold in Berlin return this week with their third album, and their gradual shift from their post-punk origins seems to be almost complete. With a couple of exceptions, the new album broadly eschews faster tempos for a grinding, seething mass of doomy tracks, but never losing the focus point that is Maya’s terrifying vocals – as she stretches words to breaking point and screams herself nearly hoarse. The funereal tolls of The Bell are the perfect introduction to this, as they were on Sunday night opening their album launch gig – a malevolent force seems to power the track and live it has to be heard to be believed.
A bit behind the curve with this one, actually – it came out late last year – but supporting Cold in Berlin on Sunday night were these guys, an intriguing metal band that use an awful lot of industrial electronics to bolster the rhythms and add additional layers. Much of their material is of a slower pace than I might expect – but no less heavy – however this song stood out in the heart of their set for having a rhythm that pounded through the room like a herd of elephants and was quite an exhilarating rush.
The latest artist where I’m a bit behind the curve. I actually first came across this song a few months back, but didn’t really give it my full attention, so after a couple more listens in the following weeks, it started to get it’s claws under my skin. Her voice, for a start – a husky, honeyed tone that I could listen to for hours. Then the song, a Cave-esque mood piece that has the balls to even name-check him, as Shah dismisses a suitor who is too smooth for his own good. Oh yes, this is very Bad Seeds, but quite brilliant. Unlike her peer Anna Calvi, though, Shah’s album is very much more restrained, with sparse arrangements allowing her extraordinary voice all the space it needs. A future star, methinks.
Superlative, new(ish) Goth from Seattle, a band who I’m told have been around for a little while but are now gearing up to release their debut album shortly. The first track from it is a doozy, too – a surging rush of synths and low-end with a cracking chorus that is one of those songs that becomes an immediate earworm. I’ve already ordered the album on the back of this, and I’m looking forward to hearing how the rest of it works out.
At last, Encephalon release a follow-up to their excellent debut album of a few years back – an album I must admit that grew on me enormously over time, in fact it probably took near a year to fully appreciate it. My copy of the new album hasn’t arrived yet (it’s due any day now), and I’m holding out on listening to the rest of it until it does. This track, though, is quite great. It is at the dancier end of their take on industrial, with a pulsing four-to-the-floor beat, glitchy synths and subtly-treated vocals, but never goes down the route marked “cliché”.
I’d been aware of this band for some time, but not really got into them – until I saw them put in a fascinating, enthralling and energetic show at BIMFest last December. So, I was most interested to see how the new album came across, and the answer is very well indeed. It is very much “classic” post-punk by way of a base, but the band take the concept and twist it all kinds of ways across the album – and the pick for me is this track, a bleeping, analogue-synth drenched track with a bassline like a metronome that blasts through in four breathless minutes.
Even with no vocals, Sannhet have released here one of the most intense releases I’ll hear across all of 2015. Instrumental, post-metal, if you will – of a similar ilk to the heaviest moments ISIS released, in some respects – but with many of the more reflective moments excised and instead the band go straight for the jugular with a succession of short(ish) and direct tracks that rely, most impressively, on their drummer, who pummels his kit with what sounds like about six arms at points. By the evidence of this and comment elsewhere, too, their live show is quite something too (provided you can cope with incessant strobe lighting).