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April 30, 2009

Isis – Wavering Radiant

Filed under: Music,Review,Writing — gazzabazza @ 11:43 AM
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Forget about genre classifications and under what category to place Isis; they have, as a band, always been bigger than that. When listening to Wavering Radiant all you have to do is take in the nuances of the record and think about how far the band has developed since the early stages.

Their brooding type of musicianship has travelled from the rhythmic and suggestive rumblings of “Celestial” to the more introspective nature of the spacey Celestial and the utterly majestic “Panopticon” where the mellowness of the electronica that was interspersed injected even more beauty to the music. They continued to develop over the previous album as well Wavering Radiant comes across as all their history and summed up into one recording. It is noticeable that the band has taken their time with developing this album, having also claimed to have done that. Every instrumentation and texture sounds as if it was given space to grow and create the perfect soundscapes.

“Hall of the Dead” starts of with a stuttering riff before kicking off with sludge-heavy grooves and Aaron Turner’s growling vocals. The keyboard that is utilized throughout the song adds an unmistakable depth, especially during the quiet breakdown when unified with the emotive guitar slings.

The following song “Ghost Key” goes the opposite way and begins with the placid and touching keyboard before the sludgy riffs are unleashed. It shares this characteristic with “Hand of the Host”, a song truly grand in the way its lush, thick riffs contribute to the epic ambiance. The interaction on Wavering Radiant between idyllic beauty and sonic darkness is what makes this, as all other Isis albums, such an enthralling listen.

Complex though it may be, it’s still a recording with a strong earthy feel to it and one — due to the songs creating a one cohesive whole — demands to be listened to in its entirety, the way all music should be enjoyed.

Wavering Radiant is the type of record where you need to just close your eyes and let the sounds carry you away and your mind wander. Isis have always had a strong cinematic feel to them due to the music having a palpable narrative structure to it, thus creating an overwhelming desire to hear their soundscapes as a backdrop to a movie.
The songs of Isis have always demanded concentration and many listens before one can even begin to grasp the nuances but
Wavering Radiant stands as an equal to their finest work so far, but its continuous growth tells of an album towering above its peers in the very near future.

Link to review on Blogcritics.org.

April 16, 2009

Music Review: Bigelf – Cheat the Gallows

Filed under: Writing — gazzabazza @ 3:09 PM
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Written by Mirza Gazic
Published April 15, 2009

Many bands have a massive affinity with the seventies. They love the classic recordings of that era and those influences shine through in their own albums — homages to an era that most music lovers have a kinship with and a love for. This is not news to anybody, but most bands tend to have one musical part of that decade as a basis for their sound. Usually it’s the doomy heaviness of Sabbath or the proto-punk of MC5 and The Stooges but that is not the case with Bigelf.

They can be considered an amalgamation of nearly every rock and pop-based sound that the seventies had to offer and their latest album, Cheat the Gallows is the showcase. It is a sign of ambition and a restless nature to attempt such an album and in the hands of a lesser band it would have been a failure, but Bigelf have managed to create the right mix of bombast, trippiness and straight-forward rock here. They have surpassed the former characteristic of being a band simply influenced by Black Sabbath and The Beatles and incorporated much more.

This fact hits home right at the opener “Gravest show on Earth” with its operatic tone and influence made all the more unusual by the carnival music that suddenly appears. It may sound strange but it works to, at the very least, draw your attention to the album. Psychedelia and progressive inspirations are rich in scope on “Cheat the Gallows” and they are mostly prevalent in the anthemic “Money, it’s Pure Evil” that draws a lot from Pink Floyd and their rich sound and production can also be heard in “The Game”, especially in the lush and evocative guitar playing.

Some of the finer moments on Cheat the Gallows come in the form of “Blackball” and the southern rock jamming midway through that draws up images of a muggy swamp and the effect-ladden “Hydra”- this tune has instrumentation that, for lack of a better word, sounds bewildering.

The closer “Counting sheep” can be seen as a summation of the entire album, as it attempts to put all the influences into one 10-minute song. It’s erratic nature means that it is interesting more than good, but Cheat the Gallows as an album is a bold and ambitious piece of work. It demands concentration if you are in any way interested in music then you will feel rewarded for your effort.

Two reviews up here on the same day? Something must be wrong- judging by how briefly things come up here this means that I won’t be back on “The Ballad” for another month. Hopefully I’m wrong and I am expecting to write a piece on the new Isis album this week- stay tuned.

Review of the album up on Blogcritics.

Hellamor – Denim EP Review

Filed under: Music,Review,StonerRock.com — gazzabazza @ 3:02 PM
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Hellamor – Denim EP
Review by Mirza Gazic (StonerRock.com)
Self released
Release date: 2008

Most of us know that the stoner genre is within a very close reach of its saturation point. The worry that arises when confronted with a recording from a fairly unknown band comes from more than just the usual question of whether it’s actually any good – the other one is if it stands out enough to warrant multiple listens.

The answer here has to be a rather ambiguous, as it goes both ways. There is nothing inherently wrong with the Denim EP as such – the four songs on offer are suitably riff heavy and the vocalist fluctuates equally well between raspy croaks and soulful wails. The recording bears all the hallmarks of the genre and Hellamor also wisely throw in a more mellow song in the shape of the dusty “After All,” which is the pick of the quartet.

A redeeming feature with Hellamor is that, as they’re still unsigned, they’re at the beginning stages of their career and can develop. There is good songwriting here, but at the moment not much to outweigh the Nebula or Kyuss records on your shelf.

I’m a bit behind here as this review was published last week but I wanted to wait and upload some more writing at once, rather than the sporadic posting of one review every few weeks. I’ll get my Bigelf review up after this one and hopefully I’ll get writing up here more often.

But then again, who gives a hairy ass fuck- nobody reads this thing anyway…
If by accident you manage to stumble in here then go to StonerRock.com and check out the review there. Click here and then go and read some other good stuff up on the site.

April 2, 2009

White Darkness – “Nothing” review

Filed under: Music,Review,StonerRock.com,Writing — gazzabazza @ 4:45 PM
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If there is one thing this project does very well, it is the ability to inject you with a sense of overwhelming unease. From the static and feedback heavy opening and onwards, Nothing is, to say the least, a very ominous and eerie sounding album.

Being largely instrumental, the pounding drums, monotonous electronics, and the mellow and melancholy piano are blended expertly and invoke a feeling of fright and dread throughout – the entire album would have been a perfect fit as a soundtrack to a psychological thriller about a serial killer. Imagine a psychopath stalking somebody through a dark, damp alleyway as the haunting melodies and the near-silence midway through, save for some pastoral guitar plucking, are the sound effects.

Nothing would have sounded even better if the calm, introspective melodies had been given more space to roam over the harsh noise, but that’s just a minor gripe. This is still a record that grabs and manages to leave its imprint- an emotional blend of serene beauty and ugliness that will have you looking over your shoulder while walking down a deserted street.

Published yesterday on StonerRock.com. Read it on the site and check out some other excellent reviews and features.

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