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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.

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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.

March 31, 2009

Trap Them – Sleepwell Deconstructor

Filed under: Music,punk,StonerRock.com — gazzabazza @ 11:40 AM
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Guys from black- and doom metal bands and a hardcore band decide to start a new project together – it’s not a complete surprise that the result of that union would come out sounding quite as unholy and visceral as Trap Them. Sleepwell Deconstructor consists of 20 minutes of solid anger. There is no point in trying to put this in a specific genre, as it draws from a multitude of extreme inspirational bands and makes an own concoction.

The basis here is grind and not entirely unlike more modern bands such as Nasum, but there is also a palpable hardcore angle on display- from the Converge- styled cacophony on “Collapse and Marathon” to the d-beat breakdowns that are jumping up all over the album. Often all of these s t y l es will be heard in one and the same song, and bearing in mind that the majority of them are no longer than three minutes should give a decent idea of the intensity.

Listening to the raw guitar sound on Sleepwell Deconstructor takes me back in time to the first time I listened to Entombed’s seminal, genre-defining Left Hand Path. Trap Them are their own band, but the thick and buzzing sound of the guitar definitely brings to mind the old late 80’s to mid- 90’s Sunlight Studios production.

If you like a few more, unexpected inspirations to be introduced on a hardcore album so that it becomes more aggressive and memorable, then Trap Them is certainly the right band to listen to.

Published on StonerRock.com yesterday. Read it here

Trap Them Myspace page

March 24, 2009

Music Review – Exciter – O.T.T

Filed under: Music,Review,Writing — gazzabazza @ 2:24 PM
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As seen on Blogcritics – Published March 24, 2009

Thrash metal isn’t the only classic metal genre that has experienced a massive resurgence in the last few years. Melodic but heavy ’80s old school speed and traditional heavy metal and its own brand of young upstarts have not gone unnoticed either: tight denim and vests covered in one of the holiest of metal manifests, the patch, are all over the place at the moment.

The revival of thrash has made it stronger and more powerful than ever, so now it is time for trad metal to gain its credibility again. Bands like Canada’s Cauldron or Sweden’s Wolf, Enforcer and Bullet are flying the flag for their more melodic inspirations and it’s as good a time as any to have some news from grizzly old troopers like Exciter to remind everybody where the young ones got it from.

I’ll be completely honest and say that “Exciter” or O.T.T as this album is also known, is in no way a perfect re-release of an ’80s heavy metal recording; it was already done about a decade ago and the same package is pretty much available this time too. The old, dusty and muffled production is still intact so not much has been done to boost the sound of it. The volume is, quite frankly, annoyingly low throughout and all the qualities don’t shine through, but there is no need to be completely negative about this.

The songs are top notch heavy metal and it is certainly a positive occurrence that one of the classics of the genre is getting a revival. O.T.T is definitely not one-dimensional; there are speedy songs like opener “Scream Bloody Murder,” which is heavy on adrenalin and unsurprisingly brings to mind Judas Priest’s finest guitar shredding. You get slow, groovy numbers such as “O.T.T” and the chugging “Enemy Lines” with their rolling tempos and anthemic songs like “I Wanna be King” where the singer gets to flex his vocal prowess. The hallmarks of a good metal album are all there.

One slight criticism is directed at the length of the songs. A few of them should be at least one minute shorter because that way this disc would have delivered more of a lasting punch. This, along with the fact that the tame production wasn’t injected with some more juice, brings the impact down.

Don’t ignore O.T.T based on these minor faults though. It is still way north in the quality stakes than a lot of metal currently out there.

March 4, 2009

The Grasshopper Lies Heavy – Gun EP Review

Filed under: Music,Review,StonerRock.com,Writing — gazzabazza @ 5:57 PM
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This obscurely named Texas trio is one of those rock bands that has found itself lumped in with the not-insignificant number of groups with the word “post” as a prefix used to explain their sound. In other words, they play instrumental songs heavy on ambience and emotion and with this six-song EP, they show potential and possibilities of musical growth.

The slight difference with The Grasshopper Lies Heavy is that they don’t delve into the light instrumental sound of bands like Mogwai or The Red Sparowes but instead rely on a more heavy and sludge-based sound, with melancholy guitar effects that broaden the sound and strengthen the impact of their music. The first “proper” song – opener “Equalizer Drone” is two minutes of feedback noise – has a subtle background effect that keeps going until the end and creates an even tenser atmosphere.

The guitar playing is what makes the biggest contribution to their amorphous, airy sound – it’s thick like broad strokes of a brush on canvas for the majority of time. It’s relaxing music as it stands, but I would have preferred a bit more of the pastoral, calm guitar plucking like at the end of second song “Gifts”. This is only a minor disturbance though and Gun is a strong debut release.

With their propensity towards a darker, sludgier sound, they have a start and now they just need to keep evolving their sound and avoid getting stuck in the “post” category.

Review now up on StonerRock.com. Read it here.I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for instrumental music of this kind so it wasn’t hard to enjoy this album. I look forward to hearing more from these guys and hopefully it will keep expanding.

February 16, 2009

The Devil Rides Out – Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3 review

Filed under: Music,Review,StonerRock.com,Writing — gazzabazza @ 12:37 PM
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Being named after an occult novel and a 60’s horror film one would expect this lot to produce some raucous sounds, and that is what the Perth, Australia collective offers.

What they have done here is released three EP installments, with six songs on each, and listening to them in chronological order, you start to view it as a chronicle of a band’s development. Not so much in terms of different music peering through on the recordings, but of subtle nuances like song writing, pacing, and production values that improve from the first to the last album. The music is soulful and blues-colored rock ’n’ roll that would fit quite nicely as a soundtrack to a biker movie with hairy reprobates swigging bourbon and riding choppers in between sessions of vandalism.

The Devil Rides Out is heavily 70’s influenced, as is expected, but the group owes more to the driving riffage and blues rhythms of yore than anything sludgy, slow, and doomy. Imagine a band that is the sum of ZZ Top, AC/DC, Led Zep, Miller High Life, sunshine, sideburns, and convertibles and you will come pretty close to physically defining The Devil Rides Out. A modern contemporary band like Clutch minus the jazz noodling can also be heard here, particularly in the vocal performance which on a few occasions brings to mind Neill Fallon’s more throaty wails. Vocalist Joey K’s singing is quite impressive throughout, as his voice is deep, rich and expressive.

Of the three recordings, Volume II is the most blues-rich EP, where the simple and choppy riffs and slower songs are at the forefront. With the third and final installment, you hear the band at its most comfortable. The slow blues is still there, but the focus lies more on the faster, high-octane tunes. It also benefits from a far better production sound than on the previous two mini-albums.

As is probably clear by now, the expectation should not be aimed at hearing originality here, but if you, like me, have a fondness for this kind of music then all three sessions by The Devil Rides Out will provide satisfaction.

I’m back after a short hiatus due to a busy work schedule- This review was published on StonerRock.com

Click here to read it on the site and here for the band’s Myspace page.

January 28, 2009

Alix – Good 1 record review

Filed under: Music,Review,StonerRock.com — gazzabazza @ 5:42 PM
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I got a short, snappy review of a new band and their latest album. It’s an Italian rock band called Alix.

Check it out on Stonerrock.com.

January 19, 2009

Back with new reviews

Filed under: StonerRock.com — gazzabazza @ 10:29 AM
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Howdy,

Not that anybody reads this sodding thing, but I’m back with some new reviews published. The first two are just short, 200-word pieces on some e.p.’s. They’re over at Scenepointblank.

Check them out if you so desire:

Bloodbath – Unblessing the purity.

Impiety – Dominator

I recently started writing for another site, Stonerrock.com, and it’s one I’ve been a huge fan of for a long time so it feels good to be able to contribute there. My first piece was published yesterday and more will be coming up soon. This one is for Winters in Osaka, an electronic band. Not usually my style but it was strangely compelling. Check it out:

Winters in Osaka – Molded to crawl

December 10, 2008

Our Roots Our Pride – A History of Italian straight edge hardcore

Filed under: Music,punk,Review,Writing — gazzabazza @ 11:49 AM
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Back after a holiday to post a link to a new review I wrote, that was published on Scenepointblank.

It’s a compilation album with six Italian straight edge hardcore bands and the music dates back to the period between 1990 – 1995. 32 songs on the album and some pretty decent bands. I do love it when I get to discover bands from the music scenes in other countries.

Read the review here. If you’re interested after that, go to the record label’s Myspace page.

Enjoy.

November 20, 2008

Goodbye Etc. – E.P. review

Filed under: Goodbye Etc.,Music,punk,Review,Writing — gazzabazza @ 5:33 PM
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I reviewed a new mini album by a band from Philly, called Goodbye Etc. It’s up on Jerseybeat, so go and read it pigg fokkerzz.

Pop-punk that is pretty catchy and it’s not that bad, even though I am not usually a fan of that stuff. There’s too much of it and most of the bands sound the same but Goodbye Etc. are just a bit different. Check it out, and here is their MySpace page.

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