Reviews

REVIEW RUNDOWN: Volume 12

♪On the twelfth volume of Review Rundown, It Djents gave to you
Another ten damn solid mini reviews♪

Hey, I’m just here to review music, not make it. At least I made it rhyme. Anyway, we got a great assortment of albums to burn through here, so let’s get right to it. Quick reminder: every album here is already available to the public, so jump in and tell us what you think. Thanks for reading!

ANDREW

Mob TerrorSuperstimulus

This EP challenges conventional definitions of music. Extending that to include any creative expression through the use of sound will allow the sophomore outing by this noisecore trio from Philadelphia to qualify. Mob Terror use the basic rock instrumental tetrad of guitar-bass-drums-vocals, but to create landscapes of noise rather than conventional songs. The music is composed of sonic textures rather than riffs, chords, or melodies. Superstimulus is best understood by attempting to identify its constituent elements and how they were created putting them into context with whatever comes soon after it. Yes, it only seems random on the first listen, so yes, the ‘math-y’ descriptor applies.

Mob Terror put more ideas into five compositional units (it does not seem right to call them ‘songs’ — though “New Orleans Underwater” comes close to being one) than many bands can manage over the course of several albums. This almost lets Superstimulus live up to its biological namesake: a thing that produces a response far out of proportion to that for which it had evolved. Give it a listen. It’s only 14 minutes. You might crave more after.

Score: 7/10

Rotten SoundSuffer to Abuse

These four super-crusty Finns do not get nearly as much respect as they deserve. Rotten Sound have made a dozen-and-a-half full-length albums and extended plays since forming in 1993. Having survived every upheaval in the global grindcore and death metal scenes since then, they prove on Suffer to Abuse that they continue to make compelling, fresh, and varied-sounding grindcore. Fans will note the title is a reversal of 2016’s Abuse to Suffer full-length. Perhaps these seven songs (12 minutes total — remember, grindcore) were leftovers from that effort? They have a sludgier sound compared to that album’s more straightforward brutality, but they would not sound out of place on it.

Anyone who thinks grindcore is all about blast beats, growls, and simplistic riffs needs to hear Suffer to Abuse. This is artful, powerful, varied, and fulfilling. Maybe not a full caffeine load like a cup of coffee, Suffer to Abuse is a Rotten Sound espresso shot.

Score: 7.5/10

JAKE

Za!Pachinko Plex

Sometimes, the only way to expand your knowledge and broaden your tastes is to jump ears-first into some experimental post-world music. After reading the name of the band and the record, you’ve probably already guessed that this act, and the music they create, aren’t coasting in the center lane of the status quo. Filled with hypnotic beats, time hops, and bizarre vocal effects, this record is experimental in nearly every aspect. Think of them as Igorrr, but instead of a baroque, metal, and breakcore base, they’re using world beats and electronica as the foundation.

Pachinko Plex begins with a few instrumental tracks and slowly starts sprinkling in vocals as the tracks progress. By the time the fourth track, “Pachinko: Las Monedas” rolls around, the chaos is in full effect with frantic drumming and erratic synths firing away. “Avances 1 2 3” leans into synth rock with the phasers set to stun. There’s a lot going on within each composition and it’s not hard to tell that Za! are purposefully shoving the boundaries around at will to create new spaces in which to work. The effect can be dizzying, but it’s still a lot of fun to work through. If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary, give this one a shot.

Score: 7.5/10

Garganjua Through The Void

It’s taken a while for doom metal to hit its stride in 2018. However, the arrival of Through The Void from Leicester doomsters Garganjua harkens the genre’s resurgence this year. The record was released on May 11 through the oh-so-wonderful Holy Roar Records, and consists of around 47 minutes of modern, stoner-leaning doom. The first thing I’ll say is that while the title of the record is somewhat uninspired, the cover art is wonderful, tattoo-worthy even. Opening the album is the 12-minute opus “Crushed Beneath The Tide”. Once again, not the most original title, but this is a genuinely crushing track. The growling vocals are still mournful, and the tone of the guitar is fuzzy and punishing. Good stuff.

As we move through the tracklist, there are more riches to be gleaned from the record. “Adrift” showcases clean vocals, and falls somewhere between Khemmis and Pallbearer in terms of pace and melodicism, which is a fine place to be in my book. The title track is a progressive soundscape with plenty of layers in tempo, vocals, and emotion. This is an impressive set of songs with the highlight of the album being Garganjua’s ability to weave some really captivating melodies and tones through a variety of approaches to doom. I’d like a little more originality and less reliance on tropes in the future, but this is a great record and fans of the genre shouldn’t miss it.

Score: 8/10

PETE

Yonatan GatUniversalists

I’ve been exploring some albums lately which have a world music vibe to them, so I decided to go whole hog and pick up the album Universalists from Yonatan Gat, which is not exclusively world music as I soon found out. Blending in experimental and progressive jazz, this abnormal album should be tackled with an open mind.

Parts of it are damn cool, with some sweet progressions and switch ups. There’s some great vocals used especially in the song “Medicine”, and some brilliant tones used which I found flourished in “Fading Casino”. Yet Universalists goes off the deep end far too often for me to truly enjoy it from start to finish. On my second run through I found myself skipping the many bullshit moments which pop up, such as the end of “Chronology” or the bits where it just gets too frenetic and intense to be enjoyable. Good ideas, but a more open mind needed than mine.

Score: 5/10

The Glitch MobSee Without Eyes

I have really fond summer memories of the last Glitch Mob album Love Death Immortality, and was hoping for much of the same, but with more of a nod to their roots from their debut Drink The Sea. Well, the glitch-hop/electronica trio delivered with See Without Eyes, to a standard and a half. Keeping the clubby, pumped vibes which were front and centre of the last album, the base music sounds much more like their original offerings: muted thumps, with layers of synths built around those.

The songs are chock full of energy and most of the vocal samples or lyrics are used really well. The opener “Take Me With You” has this aplenty, as do the other songs with featuring artists. My favorites were the instrumentals though; I always get a much greater connection to their music through songs like “Disintegrate Slowly” and “Come Closer”. That might also be because those songs remind me a lot of Trifonic and Max Cooper.

Be sure to check out their music video which accompanies the album – it’s a trip and a half.

Score: 8.5/10

VIGZ

Built-In ObsolescenceInstar

The first impression is always the most important, and the full-on dirty vocal of Built-In Obsolescence would have been a turn off for me. However, things are a little more varied vocally across the whole album and Instar shows that Built-In Obsolescence are more than just yet another growly metal band. Just.

After the initial, brutal introduction to the first track, “Dance of Falling Leaves”, the band immediately shows off a whole other side to their personality, dropping into some laid-back grooves and clean vocals. This mix works pretty well in this seven-minute opener. New sounds and instrumentation appear regularly over the course of the album. “Sine Requie” gives off an Italian vibe and the bells give it a religious feel. “Watching the Wake” is a cello/ambient mashup and both “Shara” and “Biotronic” are math-rock Tool-esque experiences.

Even with these fleeting moments, Instar is not fully satisfying. It is always great to hear a new band try something different, but Instar is not an album I’m likely to return to that often in the future, hence the lower score. An interesting effort, without the spark needed to make it great.

Score: 5/10

Quasi-Stellar Radio SourceI

Everyone and their dog are still trying to get onto the djent bandwagon, with their spiky haircuts and 47-string guitars. When it is done right it sounds ace, and I must say, Quasi-Stellar Radio Source get a lot of things right with I.

All the elements that usually make me roll my eyes with this genre are here, from the complex and asymmetrical riffs, widdly solos, and drum-and-bass influences. However, Quasi-Stellar Radio Source manage to combine these things together in a way that I thoroughly enjoyed. “Your Dream Died in Vain” is a solid riff-driven opener and “I Made You Real” sounds like TesseracT vs Coheed with its similar clean vocal style and singable chorus. This is high-quality stuff.

The delay driven intro to “Nautilus” is like Pink Floyd on speed. However, the song quickly moves into more djent-y territory and showcases a strong vocal performance that includes some nice harmonies and overdubs. “Rise Again” and “To Vow” finish off the EP perfectly, mixing up the riffs with some piano sounds and synths.

This EP is the sound of a young band that is learning to walk before they can run. The performances of all members are stellar (pun intended!) which is no mean feat given the complexity of this style and the fact that every song is packed with quality. With all the other would-be djenters out there, it would be a shame if Quasi-Stellar Radio Source were ignored. They plainly have got the talent to stand head and shoulders above the rest.

Score: 8/10

DAVID

The Elephant ParallaxLoam & Sky

The Elephant Parallax is interested in more of a macro approach to prog metal, which I’m all for. Their new EP Loam & Sky is appropriately named as it attempts to encompass our earthly plain with frontiers beyond and how they relate to us humans.

This album starts out relatively light, but gains some heft and a darker tone the longer you listen, which I thought was interesting. “The Conscious” has a busy math rock-esque intro with light jazz touches. “Ohrei”, on the other hand, is somber, ethereal, and touching. The lyrics feel deeply personal, even though they flirt with the abstract in places. “Incenfeminalgia II” impresses with its long-form progression and variety of tones and tempos. It’s a great summation of what came before. Vocals are part Ozzy, part Brent Hinds; thick, but clear and enunciated. They fit the sound well. Speaking of Mastodon, there’s touches of sludgy rock here that I like. “Star Stuff” sounds like it could be a B-side from Crack the Skye with its plodding, proggy movements.

While the scale of the tracks make it grand, Loam & Sky doesn’t get lost in itself and remains pretty grounded throughout, despite its huge themes. A solid prog rock outing that has some edge to it.

Score: 7/10

WolvhammerThe Monuments of Ash & Bone

Does blackened rock exist? I’m sure it does, and if so, Wolvhammer got it locked down. While their new album The Monuments of Ash & Bone definitely veers into metal territory often, their sound is more interested in rock intricacies with attention paid to melody and mood without sacrificing heaviness.

Songs like “Law of the Rope” were tailor-made to appeal to your studded black leather jacket metal side. It lacks the nonstop firehose stream of blast beats and tremolo picked guitars, but is nonetheless grimy and hard as hell. “The Failure King” is enveloped by a forlorn feeling of, yes, failure. It’s the most downtrodden song on the album with its descending riffing, until “Solace Eclipsed” comes up and drowns you in depressive tones with sad violins and reverb-heavy guitars. The band isn’t afraid to change things up with other elements like rumbling synths that come and go like waves of darkness throughout the album.

Unfortunately, the album loses me a bit with some songs sounding too similar to others. With only seven tracks, it’s a sizable dent in the album’s enjoyability. This monument is a little more middle-of-the-road and repetitive than I cared for, but it’s still likably mean and dark.

Score: 6/10

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