7.27.2009

ARSONISTS GET ALL THE GIRLS- Portals

Problem solved. Where Californian metal experimentalists Arsonists Get All The Girls used to produce a blinding blur of admittedly proficient but not terribly exciting noise, here they’ve nailed it. After accusations of not taking their music seriously, the death of a bassist and the departure of a vocalist, the band have got their heads down for album number three and come up with their best material by miles. Ok so no record with an 8-bit breakdown or titles like ‘Tea Time Tibbons’ is totally straight-faced but such is the hike in quality here that this could be a completely different band.

‘Interdimensionary’ is part space-opera, part deranged disco, part runaway train terror and all awesome, ‘Skiff For The Suits’ spies claims that the Arsonists just rip off Horse, The Band and cuts them to shreds, and ‘Violence In Fluid…’ has got the lot- arena rock pomp, pop nous, tech-metal noodling and heavy metal rumble all combined into a wild-eyed and sporadic but vitally coherent opus. Creative, smart, and oh so skilful, ‘Portals’ is the doorway to much bigger things for Arsonists Get All The Girls.

VIATROPHY- Viatrophy

Something strange is going on in Reading. The commuter town, formerly only famous for… well, nothing really, is slowly building up a respectable roster of metal bands. Sure, there aren’t any shops, jobs or things to do there but any place that produces talent like Sylosis, Malefice, and Tesseract at the same time can’t be all bad. And with the release of their debut full-length, new additions to the list Viatrophy certainly haven’t let the side down either. Hell, they’ve even come up with the goods to compete on an international level.

Opener proper ‘Mistress of Misery’ is as technical as it is epic (a mix the band employ fantastically and frequently here), ‘Seas of Storms’ is made to please headbanging metallers, post-metal beard-strokers and hardcore chug-lovers alike but doesn’t ever get muddled or lost in metalcore tedium, and if ‘Futile Prayer’ is an almost black metal burst of rage then ‘Sufferance’ is the smart, melodic scene-stealer- a song blessed with strength, style, shiny hooks, and that irresistible x-factor that suggests it won’t be long before Viatrophy break through to bigger things. Oh, it’s not going to change the world- leave that for this lot’s next album- but turn this up loud enough and it is more than capable of shaking it damn hard. Superb.

VITAMINSFORYOU- He Closed His Eyes So He Could Dance With You

The problem with most of the music lumped with ugly labels like emotronica, laptop rock and electro-emo is that it all tends to value emo stylings over emotional connection, genre clich├ęs over genuine hooks, and melodrama over melody. Well Vitaminsforyou, the musical nom de plume for Toronto resident Bryce Kushnier, is here to reset the balance. Oh sure, there are some soppy lyrics and plenty of breathy vocals here, and there’s no getting away from just how Dashboard Confessional that album title is, but ‘He Closed His Eyes…’ is actually more likely to make you get up and dance than write in your diary. ‘One Nite Stand’ piles on bubbly beats, jazzy glitches, and washes of noise until it’s really cooking, ‘Leave My Head Around’ is like Hot Chip with proper tunes, and ‘War’ is capable of getting fans of emo, dance, IDM, and indie all on the same dancefloor all at the same time. Oh, and no record that starts with a song called ‘Flesh Python’ could ever, ever be accused of being too emo. Aces.

7.13.2009

YOUR DEMISE- Ignorance Never Dies


Full of surprises this. For a debut it’s an unbelievably confident and accomplished outing, for a group that claim not to practice often it’s a tight, professional beast, and for a small British band this isn’t half a big, brutish thing capable of appealing to heavy music fans worldwide too. But the most unexpected thing about Your Demise’s first full-length is just how much it feels like a hit record. Oh sure, ‘Ignorance Never Dies’ is packed with spiky metal-edged hardcore that spits and hisses and wants your blood but there’s more energy, attitude and shiny hooks here than on both Gallows albums put together. The title track is a buzzing, edgy two-minute taster of what’s to come, ‘Burnt Tongues’ unleashes a wall of rage that would be utterly inaccessible in lesser hands but is involving, exciting, and addictive here, and ‘TF’ is just begging to be ripped off this record and wrung out in front of a baying crowd. And it’s not all heads-down hardcore destruction here either. ‘Unknown Dub’ is a grimy slice of electronics that’s as dark as any downtuned doom, ‘Great Shape’ is a neat glitchy interlude and ‘Black Veins’ adds both punk spit and steamroller metallic grit to the mix too. Ok, so few records featuring lines like “Slit my fucking throat, your life’s a fucking joke” are destined to truly take the world by storm but ‘Ignorance Never Dies’ doesn’t just put Your Demise alongside the best of British but next to names like Hatebreed, First Blood, and Biohazard. Brilliant.

7.06.2009

ALEXISONFIRE- Old Crows/Young Cardinals


Alexisonfire have grown up. And if the whiff of maturity about 2006’s ‘Crisis’ didn’t confirm that then the strength and authority of ‘Old Crows/Young Cardinals’ or lines here like “we are not the kids we used to be” certainly will. That doesn’t mean they’re dull and done just yet though. Despite the title ‘Old Crows’ is punk rock, it is, just with less emphasis on the spit and smashed instruments and more on the addictive melodies and freedom to do whatever the damn hell you want, ‘Emerald Street’ is perhaps the best the three voices of Alexis have ever sounded together, and if ‘No Rest’ works brilliantly as a balls-out rager, the hymnal ‘The Northern’ and slow-burning closer ‘Burial’ mine a deep, earthy vibe that not only feels perfectly natural but opens up masses of new options for these boys in the future. It’ll all be too much for some- mostly those that lurk online still demanding Alexis repeat their first album- but for everyone else this is the sound of a band putting the scenesters to shame, putting their peers in the dust, and stepping off in a fully-formed but fresh direction that they can confidently wander for many years to come.