Featured Artist of the Month: The Verve

Resurgence of the alternative wave of rock popularized back in the early 1990’s in the United Kingdom coinciding with the cultural revival that was underway and emerged as “Britpop” which intended on being fairly approachable to the commoners and relevant to the mainstream British culture. Britpop largely stormed out of the UK as a reaction to the US-led grunge music and the two have been heralded as opposing musical forces. Among all the bands that contributed to embodiment of neo-psychedelic swells of guitar with the melodramatic convergence of pop rock and shoegaze, “The Verve” still remains worthy of generous attention despite their short-lived career often associated with the front-man, songwriter and vocalist for the band, Richard Ashcroft‘s inflated ego. Formed by college mates Richard Ashcroft, Nick McCabe, Simon Jones, and Peter Salisbury in 1989, their fresh and minty jams are what the commercial scene of rock music owes a lot to. The guitar-driven solace of their melodies and Ashcroft’s cutting vocals fine-tuned to resonate with the shoegaze sensibility delivered some of the most memorable sing-along tunes of the 90’s. The ornate and hyperbolic themes like love, longing, euphoria, music and sedation mainlined with surreal sonic goodness and bittersweet melancholy navigated the distinct arcs of their vaporous sound. Accredited to their masterful production and genre-based knowledge of the 90’s, in no time they found their niche in the britpop, alt-rock market.

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Choosing three best albums out of their discography comprising of four studio albums in entirety was considerably easy. However, the discreet mixing of tracks and inculcation of ambient atmospherics set every album apart from the other which demands a serious intellectual expertise.

3, A Northern Soul

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Composed around the intoxicating simplicity and sharpness of acoustic ballads for the most part, The Verve’s second studio album “A Northern Soul” is filled with  and bourgeois psychedelic influences. The magnetism of the album opener “A New Decade” is built upon an array of dizzy guitar hooks and raving vocals. Lyrics like “The youth coming up and making you dance, ’cause I’ve got some living inside of me, so come on I could use the company” are very reaffirming and does justice to the feel-good vibe of the song. “This Is Music” is dissonant and largely a noise rock number. “On Your Own” marks the point where the album is set in the direction of mellow string acoustics and a sadder demeanor. A sense of abandonment, loneliness and complaining is projected with a halcyon vision. However, the low-spirits subjected to heartbreak on “So It Goes” is ubiquitously depressing. “A Northern Soul” written about Oasis’ front-man Noel Gallagher floats in the haze of shrieking guitars and a peachy bass. “I’m gonna die alone in bed, this is a tale of a northern soul, looking for his way back home” versed in Ashcroft’s expressive vocals adds to the structural genius and emotional pacing of the song. “Brainstorm Interlude” is largely an instrumental with a fuzzy melody followed by two back-to-back beautiful ballads ‘Drive You Home” and “History” citing sermons of a doomed lover about helplessness and unreciprocated love immersed in the soulful magma of acoustic guitars and a wrist-slitting tranquility making up for potential tearjerkers. The opening verse “Life’s an ocean, too much commotion, too much emotion, dragging me down, living for today, don’t have time to pray, ready for the game, take a line of fickle flame” is a piece of very well-versed poetry that not only delivers the essence of the song about the apathy of life but waves a little flag of truce with the ending track “Stormy Clouds” which is bleak, dark and zones out into oblivion as it unfolds. “A Northern Soul” gleefully portrays the innerworkings of an emotional wreck and a hopeless romantic in a brutally simplistic way.

2, Storm In Heaven

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The Verve’s debut album “Storm In Heaven” can easily be regarded as one of the best shoegaze albums of all time. It is enriched with spaced-out, distorted guitars and breezy repercussions that are universally in proximity with the art of shoegazing. “Star Sail”, “Slide Away” and “Already There” have pensive songwriting that pulsate with summery guitars and wishful lyrics. The bass-oriented stompbox mechanics are utilized to create the perfectly dark and ravenous habitat for the heartsick romantics out there. The lush, dreamy tune of “Beautiful Mind” and “Virtual World” draped in the fabric of escapism finds itself very close to bands like Slowdive on the musical spectrum. “She’s breathing life into lonely dead stars. Have you ever seen it? I ain’t seen nothing at all” symbolizes shimmery-eyed love and chastity.  “Make It ‘Til Monday” and “Blue” strongly hinted towards narcotic escape and tripping hard are honed delicately to be in sync with the drone-laden guitars and ambient delays. “The Sun, The Sea” and “Butterfly” dabble in chaotic symphonies with jangling saxophone harmonics pitched in for a change. “See You In The Next One”, “Endless Life”, “Where The Geese Go” and “No Come Down” melodically and lyrically symbolize the zenith of a hallucinogen-induced coma with somnolent and mind-bending gearing. “Storm In Heaven” is what the name signifies, a tempestuous turbulence in a place as serene as the heaven above which artfully justifies the implied oxymoron.

1, Urban Hymns

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Released in 1997, “Urban Hymns” is a strong contender for the greatest album of all time, in my honest opinion. It serves as a detox formula to the lingering trance of the former Verve albums, “Storm In Heaven” to be more specific. Often deemed synonymous with the groundbreaking single “Bittersweet Symphony”, there remain so many multidimensional facets and sonic twists to this record which are more than usually foreshadowed or have gone painfully unnoticed. That rhetoric aside, “Bittersweet Symphony” with those opening strokes of majestic violins will forever have a nostalgic worth authorized to a few rock numbers in this ever-expanding world of music. It elaborates the powerlessness one can’t help but feel over the rigidity of life and its consuming struggles. “Sonnet” is written about the complex subject of love and resonates with Ashcroft’s swooning, heartfelt vocals with a main chorus “Yes, there’s love if you want it. Don’t sound like no sonnet, my lord!” which fits right in. “Catching the Butterfly” reflects the childlike fancies and the innate sense of joy which dances on an undulating psychedelic groove of britpop. “Rolling People” is a song I can do without but had it been a bit shorter, it might’ve worked out just fine. “Drugs Don’t Work” is an acoustic ballad defaming drugs and confessing to find eternal peace only by reuniting with your deceased loved one in the life hereafter. The phantasmagorical interlude “Neon Wilderness” offers to the album is ephemeral yet ecstatic. “One Day”, “Space and Time”, “Velvet Morning” and “Lord I Guess I’ll Never Know” are crafted around McCabe’s delicate guitaring and Ashcroft’s tenor vocal quality with reshuffling themes like love, life, relationships and dreams. Meaningful verses like “You’ve gotta tie yourself to the mast my friend and the storm will end” in “One Day” for instance, quotes human selflessness and liberation from cyclic battles of life in return. “This Time” is a great upbeat alt-rock song. “No time for sad lament. A wasted life is bitter spent, so rise into the light. In or out of time, gonna rise straight through the light” intently reveals the optimism he’s beaming with at this point. The emotional appeal and the haunting analogies of “Weeping Willow” are directly indicative of suicide contemplation. Still, for me it’s unarguably one of the best Verve songs ever recorded. The pacifying guitar chords and the fluttering bassline adds to the sentimental quotient of the song as it dissolves the sorrowful rhyming to progress into the very warm and blissful “Lucky Man” headlining a primal sense of happiness. The violins waltzing  in the outro sound so redeeming and inspirational, it is almost unreal. Finally, the album closes with “Come On” and “Deep Freeze”, the latter giving the album an atmospherically wired finishing touch. “Urban Hymns” is pivotal to The Verve’s transitory career that polished their sound essentially as britpop and alt-rock that rewards the listener with positive vibes and a “start fresh” ideology. Primarily evolving from the shoegaze and indie rock variants, The Verve showcased a more mature songwriting tendency with this record that successfully garnered both, a great commercial reception and critical acclaim which is not warranted to a lot of artists in this business.

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Album Review: Modern Addiction by Tender

London based electro-pop duo “Tender” have produced multiple EPs before their first full-length studio album “Modern Addiction” released on 1st September which gave an insight into their artistic capability as the partisans of modern electronic music interspersed with synth-driven pop swagger. Their music is highly contemporary in essence which is generously seasoned with a libidinous mood and promiscuous dance-beats. Let’s just say, there couldn’t have been a better name designated to Tender.

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While all the tracks are immersed in the lukewarm substance of  volatile electronics and crooning vocals, the improvisations done in each track bring about the instrumental euphoria that’s transient yet self-sustaining. The album opener “Illuminate” is a wise choice for an introductory track and summons the relaxing elements of music that it is traditionally expected to offer. “Nadir” begins with chiming notes of percussion rendering it plain ecstatic. It later nurtures into a perky symphony laid out to embrace the contrasting lovelorn lyrics. “Hypnotized” has a bittersweet melody with repetitive jangling percussions and soft synths signifying the repletion of self-worth with a main chorus “You don’t define me” and going against the crowd in the process. “Crawl” and “Erode” sound most suggestive of all tracks and are melodically well-schemed to do justice to their aphrodisiac tendency. “Silence” serves as a meek interlude before the albums swerves to the poppy and upbeat tempo of “Machine”. The flamboyance it radiates will definitely get you on your feet to rejoice the electronic spunk of dance music which is also fairly detectable on the second last track “Powder”. “Sickness”, “Blame” and “Vow” feature spiraling synths and beats set to a backdrop of chill-wave aesthetics of electro-pop. The wailing vocal tone in “Vow” dictates the oriental somberness and indecent coveting the record unabashedly spews. The last track “Trouble” is precisely warm in texture and minimalistic drumbeats provoke a sense of tranquility especially contributed by the ambient guitar licks and Tender’s signature smooth vocals.

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“Modern Addiction” is an ornate mix of rhythmic blues, synth-wave and danceable electronica. Even if it’s not too far from formula-based music, it worked out splendidly. The wavering motifs of uptempo and downtempo sonic variations came forth as blissfully romantic, calm-inducing and seductive. The lightweight melodies with strokes of organic guitars and house-styled beats is tad bit in the vein of Röyksopp. While the duo intended on playing a little too safe with the overall experimentation and the abstract array of instruments, still their modern take on electro-pop reveries is fresh and unfamiliarly emotive. It’s your perfect chill-out music. However, it would be truly amazing if they explore more themes layered with the genre-induced trance and its stimulating allure in their future releases.

Album Rating: 3.5/5.

Featured Artist of the Month: Pink Floyd

Progressive rock was seen burgeoning back in the mid-60’s that vigorously advocated for the transcendentalism and platonic realms of music to be decoded into tape and that, there brought together the hypnagogic fusion of fuzzy guitars, airy reverb, electronic synthesizers, phasing effects and classical eclecticism. It was a huge musical milestone that not only bridged the convergence of blues, folk, psychedelic and jazz into an entirely new musical genre but immortalized the meditative appeal of these long, trance-inducing jams to this day. Speaking of, a name that “shines likes a diamond” and is substantially interchangeable with the genre itself is “Pink Floyd”. The brainchild of Roger Waters, Richard Wright and Nick Mason that surfaced as “Sigma 6” in 1963 also known as the “Pre-Floyd Days” only lately to evolve into Pink Floyd a year later in 1964 involving the initial three members, Syd Barrett and lastly David Gilmour joining the band in 1968 around the time when Barrett’s mental health got severely unbalanced. Pink Floyd went on to produce records that were not only conceptually superior to its contemporaries but alienated the generic norms that in retrospect were deemed essential for the music to sell giving a whole new dimensional twist to the the hippie counterculture facing a decline back in the late 60’s and helped it thrive over the years.

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You can pick out any Pink Floyd album and there’s a guaranteed chance you’d be bewildered by the generous experimentation that conjured surreal soundscapes into being. The lush cascade of a hallucinogenic drone hybridized with the kaleidoscopic spell of acoustic & electric guitars is downright phenomenal. Growing up with this sort of music as a hermit was very rejuvenating on a personal level. My favorite Pink Floyd albums would undeniably be:

3, The Wall

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Released in 1979, “The Wall” is Roger Water’s abstraction that is fairly autobiographical and features 26 tracks composed entirely by him. A concept album that transcribed the story of a character “Pink” juxtaposed with themes like war, fascism, paranoia, tyranny, drug abuse and mental detriment. This two-disc album has majorly a resounding rock opera compositional form with an art rock directed dynamization. First disc opens with “In The Flesh?” which has a projectile solo with reverberating drums that towards the ending fade into the cries of a baby to merge with the prelude of the next song “The Thin Ice” which basically includes soothing pianos and high-ranging guitars. “Another Brick in the Wall” is a song shredded into three parts comprising of a curtain raiser, main body of the song and the climax.  This best-seller of a rock anthem is self-navigating in its upbeat symphony and that sublime guitar solo glistens it to perfection. The kids chanting “We don’t need no education” in defiance is a great sing-along tune. Songs like “Goodbye Blue Sky”, “The Happiest Days of our Lives”, “One of My Turns”, “Don’t Leave Me Now”, “Goodbye Cruel World” and “Mother” encompass the depressive mania that follows the period of adolescence directly exposed to war and being love-forsaken. One of my favorite moments on disc 1 is when “Empty Spaces” with the wearisome delivery of the verse “How shall I fill the final places? How should I complete the wall?” kicks off with the brazenly pushing rock template of “Young Lust”. It’s a straightforward confession of a rockstar giving in to empty sex as an aftermath of being cheated by his partner to get rid of the frustration it brews. Disc 2 starts off with “Hey You” which is concurrently empathetic and introspective. It’s a direct calling to the emotionally burdened central figure of the story and his state of social isolation sang like a compassionate appeal to retreat back to his sanity. A near-perfect song with soaring guitar solos and insightful lyrics. “Is Anybody Out There?”, “Nobody Home”, “Vera” (a song about the famous singer British singer Vera Lynn during the 1940’s and the WWII), “Bring the Boys Back Home” have transient melodies and cite the sense of abandonment seeping in as the war takes its toll. An sensitive oxymoron like “Comfortably Numb” for a song-title is pretty self-explanatory about the sonic manipulation of tranquil guitars, galloping prog-rock influences and mind-altering beats to conceive a song that’s therapeutic yet sardonic, heart-breaking yet insanely beautiful. It’s written about the protagonist’s inward battles, narcotic escape and solitude. “The Show Must Go On”, “In The Flesh”, “Run Like Hell” and “Waiting for the Worms” mark the point where Pink goes off the rails after being inflicted with medicine-induced psychosis, mental imbalance and fascist propaganda. The speedy textures of the songs and the inbred lunacy conforms to the demanding turning points. “Stop”, “The Trial” and “Outside the Wall” are the album closers. The story concludes with the bitter realization that it’s this vicious cycle that crippled his sense of rationality and he takes an antidotal refuge in the memories of his innocent days to combat the self-destructive ways that led him to personal seclusion and consequently hit rock-bottom. Water’s and Gilmour’s vocals offer a unique contrast of harsh and soft variants as per the fluctuating mood of the songs. Conclusively, the album gets more liable to a storytelling perspective than conventional songwriting being a promising conceptual album demanding short junctures and dramatic meddling throughout.

2, Dark Side of the Moon

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The magnanimous amount of musical integrity that the era-defining album “Dark Side of the Moon” emanates is what makes up for one of the most unique listening experiences in the history of rock n’ roll. The panoramic diversity and futuristic psychedelia integrated into the song structures declared it an ahead of its time creation. “Speak to Me/Breathe”, “One the Run” and “Time” embark on the spaced-out lead melodies with unconventional transitions. “The Great Gig in the Sky” has an immensely liberating vibe and features Clare Torry’s rhapsodic choir that gets escalated to a maniacal disposition giving a significant operatic value to the song. “Money” is crafted with pompous guitars, interposed jazz solos with a meandering funk storm. “Us and Them” and “Any Color You Like” are distinctly soulful and proto-prog electronic numbers. “Brain Damage” concerns a man’s mental derangement as he spirals down through his life towards absolute insanity that allegedly signifies Syd Barrett’s schizophrenia citing deep lyrical gems like “You lock the door and throw away the key. There’s someone in my head but it’s not me”. “Eclipse” finishes of this conceptual package of prog-rock grandeur with the ending verse “Everything under the sun is in tune but the sun is eclipsed by the moon” reciting the overpowering paradoxes it’s hugely inspired from and eventually making peace with the inevitably turbulent phases of life. “Dark Side of the Moon” is an iconic record with an unshakable credibility that accomplished a witty play on the human dilemma corresponding with astronomically-oriented themes, byzantine analogies  and cryptically poised lyrics.

“If your head explodes with dark forebodings too. I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon.”

“Brain Damage” by Pink Floyd

1, Wish You Were Here

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Back in the day when local radio stations were still a thing and aired some exceptionally good classic rock and explored the various obscure sub-genres of music, as a little girl I stumbled upon a beautiful ballad titled “Wish You Were Here” and I vividly remember waving my phone in the air to pick the right frequency being tricked by the intentionally vague opening notes of the acoustic guitar which only within seconds got clearly audible casting a spine-tingling aura that lived on for the rest of my life. That little incident marks the starting point of my journey with these prog-rock maestros. “Wish You Were Here” is a close to flawless studio album that epitomizes the otherworldly sound of these connoisseurs of music. “Welcome to the Machine” is a critique on the worldly humdrum that’s inevitable and our prosaic generation in general. It’s primarily electronic and fidgety in progression that mimics the elusive bouts of a nervous breakdown. “Have a Cigar” is satire directed towards the music industry and its controlling ways that violate a musician’s psych and soul. Instrumentally, it’s a very flippant and playful composition therefore qualifies as a great jam to wind out to. “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” is a sensational tribute to the band’s former seminal member Syd Barrett which the quintet has done total justice to. It’s a delicately weaved sonnet with  awe-inspiring verses like:

“Threatened by shadows at night, and exposed in the light.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Well you wore out your welcome with random precision,
Rode on the steel breeze.
Come on you raver, you seer of visions,
Come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine!”

“Shine On You Crazy Diamond” by Pink Floyd

It comprises of nine parts that are split between two songs fluently running the span of more than 10 minutes each and is intelligently wired with transcending guitars implied on scintillating solos that are addictive to tireless degrees, saxophone fragments, crooning vocals and an ambrosial groove of the 60’s.

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Pink Floyd’s enigmatic song-writing and maneuvering with multiform conceptual challenges had an artistic loftiness and experimentally bold approach that received critical acclaim throughout their musical career. The penetrating miasma of escapism and anarchic scheme of things spawned the evolutionary templates of their anthems. Their concept-guided adherence to jazz, blues, electronic and psychedelic spicing defined what progressive rock virtually is today.

 

Music Recommendation: Add Violence by Nine Inch Nails

Being a Nine Inch Nails’ enthusiast since my pre-teens, I can safely admit that I never got over NIN despite the occasional pretentious exploitation of bizarre electro-industrial soundscapes they’ve carried out over the years. Only lately I was at the verge of losing my interest in NIN and somehow they managed to surprise me with their second extended play “Add Violence” released this year. I thoroughly enjoyed the synth-wave and trip-hop innovations on 2013’s “Hesitation Marks” and I strongly concur the latest EP is a very fitting sequel to their last full-length release. It incorporates the conventional mix of noise rock and industrial turbulence with subtle and minimal tactics chipped in to induce a spine-chilling sonic experience.

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Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross had quite a few soundtrack related ventures together that established their artistic compatibility and interpersonal efflux of musical genius over the time that led to Ross being an official member of NIN now. For better or for worse? Definitely better considering the last two EPs which resist the general speculation about Nine Inch Nails dissolving as a band. An intelligent sense of songcraft, overflowing creativity and experimental risks are highly discernible within the duo’s works that complement one another to generate a brand of hypnosis that’s infiltrated with automated percussions, contemporary synths and eerie atmospherics.

The EP’s first track “Less Than” is what implores the upbeat synthesizer-induced textures that prompt an effortless link to “Hesitation Marks” and Trent’s husky vocal tone ferments a whiff of insanity and agitation. It’s a fairly accessible song and did remind me of genre-based quirkiness accredited to bands like New Order, Wolfsheim or Ultravox. “The Lovers” is simplistic in structure with mechanized drumbeats and unhurried piano sequences embedded within. “This Isn’t the Place” is the track that has me falling head over heels for NIN all over again. The ethereal notations of pianos which were the main highlight of 2002’s flawless release “Still” sound just as virginal in this lucidly romantic ballad with surging falsettos that Trent has delivered with a learned sense of warmth and sentimentality. “Not Anymore” is coarse and frantically paced with sudden uproars of industrial noise somehow trying too hard to imitate the frenzied groove of “Starfuckers, Inc” on 1999’s “The Fragile” and still falling short of the intensity it seeks. The last track “The Background World” is a logical closer for the EP. It’s the most experimental track conditioned with rhythmic beats and the ambient-tinged drone that egresses from the underground to the center-stage subsequently. The coherent sound of the song signifies the basic Depeche Mode vibe which later upsets into absurdly modulated synths, cringeworthy delays that eventually die out with the theatrical loops of a glitched system stagnating with an infernal chaos. The EP is brilliantly executed and unnerves the listener to brink of an emotional breakdown like you would expect any legitimate Nine Inch Nails’ offering presumably to.

Album Review: Medusa by Paradise Lost

When you’re in for a debate about gothic metal and gothic doom in particular, Paradise Lost unquestionably stands out as the patron saint of the aforesaid genres. Their entire anthology has not a single bad record even though their electronic experimentation with gothic aesthetics labelled them as sell-outs by manic metal fans for once. The “return to their roots” banter is losing its appeal since the band already showcased their impeccable death-doom inspired prodigy on 2015’s “The Plague Within” after they got sidetracked with the “commercial glint”. This year they’re back again with their new album “Medusa” which is in sync with the prevailing melancholy of their last release.

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The introductory anthem “Fearless Sky” idolizes the turbid, dark atmosphere it’s composed in resonance with. It’s somewhat exhaustive for an opener and breeds monotony being repetitive with the riffwork. “Gods of Ancient” and “From the Gallows” sound more propellant and pick up pace midway to deliver the inherently darker melodies they wholeheartedly celebrate. “The Longest Winter” is finally where I got the hang of this dreary ensemble with my generous attention. It’s crafted around a sludgy instrumental setup which for a change features Nick Holmes’ clean, crestfallen vocals alternating with the sinister growls on the other tracks. The pounding drums saturated with the oppressive marrow of doom is what I always loved about Paradise Lost and this record is also in accordance with that integral component. “Medusa” is fairly more captivating than the preceding tracks mainly because of the frosty lead guitars and the fragmentary keyboards which render it more dismal and wretched in essence.

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“No Passage for the Dead” and “Until the Grave” are your traditional goth-doom oriented odes with a deliberate arrangement of heavy and downtrodden guitars, drums and nefarious roaring which fuels the overwhelming darkness. “Blood and Chaos” is my favorite song on this entire record. It’s powerful, energetic yet highly in key with the hovering antipathy. The lead melody is ritually raw and overpowering which this record somewhat lacked initially. “Frozen Illusion” strongly suggests a trail back to its cataclysmic lineage and hits a chord with the gruesome, old-school death-doom worship of their classic release “Gothic”. “Shrines” and “Symbolic Virtue” are the finishing tracks. While the former track still explores their inventiveness within the restricted constraints of metal and gothic-doom to be specific, the latter tracks is a bit dull and thrown in without delivering the intended impact.

“Medusa” is a convincing emblem of well-arranged heavy music and is in harmony with the enslaved darkside. Their progression is strategically headed in the direction it ought to. The sullen-paced musical ordeals and explosive moments plagued with agony and suffering are reciprocally orchestrated with the intention of revisiting the inbred emotional penchant and ultra-heavy, memorable tunes accustomed to the mighty Paradise Lost.

Album Rating: 3.5/5.

 

Featured Artist of the Month: Type O Negative

August is here. So is the time to consider another artist and their finest works. I have chosen “Type O Negative” this month. The self-proclaimed “The Drab Four” which fits them quite appropriately considering their signature thick, draggy and sleazy guitar riffs. One of my all time favorite bands but that won’t make my opinions biased or too partial. Although, for me they were completely armed with all the essentials and weaponry to conceive some of the most authentic, out-of-the-box and demented gothic doom metal. The front-man; bass guitarist for the band Peter Thomas Steele was a beast of a vocalist gifted with an inimitable, incredibly deep and a monstrous bass-baritone range voice possessed by none else. Evoking the sense of vampiric and nocturnally ambient themes, they created some of the most unforgettable and major gothic metal albums of the 90’s.

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While all the other bands in the gothic-doom vein like Paradise Lost, Tiamat, My Dying Bride, Moonspell etc were just as dark, doomy-gloomy and sensational but you could easily find similar influences within their sound engineering but Type O Negative was a different domain. Their controversial lyrical themes, satirical disposition and little pranks in their full-length albums hinted how they were not afraid at all to laugh at themselves and at the end of the day, do their job just right i.e. to produce some seriously morbid gothic anthems you’d still be humming no matter how old you get and they will still sound just as epic. Some of my favorite albums from these goth giants would be:

3, World Coming Down

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Released in 1999, “World Coming Down” is one of their most depressive works to date instilled with compelling misanthropy and pessimistic notions. For some reason, whenever I give this album a listen, I always assume it’s their last album they ever recorded which is not the case (the last album being “Dead Again” released in 2007) perhaps because of the experimental sound which is varied from their earlier and subsequent offerings. It opens with one of their aforementioned pranks “Skip it” which is entirely consisting of 11 seconds of CD skipping. “Sinus”, “Liver” and “Lung” not exactly pranks but include sounds like metal scraping, heartbeat, sobbing, crying, pouring of liquor, gasping and beeping of an ECG machine. The second track “White Slavery” debunks the vices of addiction and “cocaine” in particular addressed as “the summer snow but it’s not cold”. The down-tuned, heavy guitaring by Kenny Hickey is structured around Peter’s distinct bass-baritone vocals with Johnny Kelly‘s throbbing drums adding to the murky and desolate tune of the song. “Everyone I Love is Dead” is about relationships gone sour over time and incorporates more uptempo riffs with a flair of punk and doom combined, compared to the other tracks. Side-note: I absolutely love when he shrieks “Goddammit!”. “Who Will Save The Sane?” begins with keyboard notes as Peter mocks the “unsurreal world” with all its pretentiousness quoting mathematical formulas and degrading sciences meanwhile drawing attention to his bad experiences in psychotherapy. One of the strongest track on the album. “World Coming Down” has some really thoughtful verses like, “Better to live as king of beasts than as a lamb scared and weak” and “It’s better to burn quickly and bright than slowly and dull without a fight”. “Creepy Green Light”, “Pyretta Blaze” and “All Hallow’s Eve” have lethargic, rough doom melodies exhibiting occult themes like returning from the dead, pyromania and dark rituals. There’s also a take on The Beatles’ songs in a very Type O-esque way in “Day Tripper Medley”. “Everything Dies” is just phenomenal! The verse “I’m searching for something which can’t be found but I’m hoping” is delivered with such an unhinged sentiment, it’s downright heartening. The sluggish riffs, crushing metal chords, the extravagantly thick bassline and melodies rioting at the razor’s edge of funeral doom and gothic metal with a dash of blues define this sonicfest in a nutshell. The songs are lengthy and slow-paced which might contribute for a draining listening experience but Type O fans have exactly no complains about what they’re in for.

 2, October Rust

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Prevailing nocturnal bliss, primal instincts, erogenous desires, sensual love, dark humor, carnal yen, flaming passions and a wee bit of trolling. Yeap. That’s pretty much what “October Rust” is all about. Released in 1996, the album ought to be deemed as one of the finest gothic metal albums of all time. I’m still convinced Type O managed to blend gothic elements with the perverted propensity of metal in a way that’s highly commendable. The twisted sense of art that goes into making some of the most eyebrow raising lyrics and controversial themes sound a-okay on tape is an achievement in itself. The album commences with two back-to-back tracks where the listener is clearly being trolled while the glitched distortions of tape player last for 38 seconds followed by the band members intervening (hysterical laughters included) to introduce themselves and it kicks off with the magnificent “Love You To Death” which is a legitimate gothic serenade you’d love every minute of. It’s soulful, sensuous and bluesy. “Be My Druidess” opens with swirls of a thrash guitar riff that I absolutely adore to death. While it’s undoubtedly grotesque and obscene, I still reckon it just had to be there on the album. “Green Man”, “Red Water (Christmas Mourning), “Die With Me”, “In Praise of Bacchus”, “Burnt Flowers Fallen” and “Haunted” are relentlessly dismal songs with implied storytelling orchestrated in an abhorrent atmosphere. The piano sequences add beautifully to the theatrical side of these goth ballads. The melody of Neil Young’s “Cinnamon Girl”  is triumphed by the sensuality of electric guitars and an edgy bassline. “My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend” is dark humor galore and criminally cheesy. Still with that spooky composition and Peter’s grave vocals, everything’s acceptable and just right. “Wolf Moon”, for instance. While the musical arrangement is typically medieval and primitive, the ridiculous lyrics still take nothing away from its eccentricity. One of the strongest songs on the record, in any case. “October Rust” emphasizes the more poppy, unapologetically straightforward and barbaric side of TON. If anything, this album will definitely distort your theories about romantic idealism. Warning: Listen at your own risk.

1, Bloody Kisses

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While the mere title “Bloody Kisses” is quite said enough, the plain mastery and glorious transitions packed into this single album is bewitching. Personally, it’s my favorite album because of:

  1. The 9 minute long “Christian Woman” with all its three parts, the mystical choir, the iconic “Jesus Christ looks like me” outro featuring an intense and thunderous guitar solo.
  2. The simmering punk, thrash and hardcore influences from “Carnivore” with a provoking sense of rebellion & ruckus on songs like “We Hate Everyone” and “Kill All The White People” with an effortless mockery on political warfare.
  3. The brooding dynamics of classic gothic metal (if that’s a term?) “Black No. 1” is richly infused with.
  4. The creeping sense of horror and staged melodrama contributing to the bloodthirsty aura of these gothic symphonies featuring sitars and harmonics.
  5. Peter’s godly bass-range vocal quality befitting Type O’s macabre and unnerving songwriting.
  6. The divergence from the archetypal gothic doom overtures and sludge dynamics of heavy metal making the album a pure masterpiece.

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Type O Negative was one of their kind. Sometimes, perceived as a match made in hell of The Beatles and Black Sabbath. I, for one, still see no convincing evidence at all and merely cover versions of their songs wouldn’t suffice. Type O Negative is the soundtrack to your nightmares and the bare whimsical drollery only amplifies the psyched atmosphere they rejoice in. The programmed drums adjusted to avoid overpowering the downbeat tempo of guitars and the spooky keyboards is still a plus. Even though the overstretched song compositions might still be a critical affair,  it’s obligatory to listen them in continuity to appreciate the psychodrama and gothic-doom driven virtuosity that remains almost impossible to replicate or excel.

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Inside The Batcave: Pleasure Symbols EP by Pleasure Symbols

This time around, the album in question is rather a very precise package of gothic/coldwave and minimal sounds. Surprisingly enough, it’s my new favorite genre which I can’t help squeezing into my playlists all the time now. The album is “Pleasure Symbols EP” by Pleasure Symbols released in 2016. This Australian darkwave duo comprises of Phoebe Paradise and Jasmine Dunn. The EP is merely 16 minutes long but induces a pitch-dark, hallucinating spell with every new listen which hardly subsides. The biggest disappointment for me was to discover their re-recorded version of the album released under the label called “AVANT! Records” which is all over the major streaming sites and make no mistake, the songs on it are like some flimsy and degenerate clones of the originals. On the other hand, the original versions of the songs specifically, “Control” and “Ultra Violence” have a cold-blooded, gloomy atmosphere which swathes in the dense stench of electronica and drone. The concept is basically the big sounds of the 80’s i.e. post-punk, electronic, industrial and synth-wave calibrated in a dramatic way to successfully capture the essence and menacing aura of perhaps, a Dario Argento’s classic horror/thriller dating back to the 80’s. So there’s your justice.

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The album kicks off with “Underneath Your Skin” which is somber yet makes you sway with its jittery and down-tempo rhythms. The vocals are perfectly warm and sensual for a cabaret setting. The synths remain a highlight for being audibly diverse. The second track “Above All Else” concurrently runs its playtime before you can notice anything poetic and then comes up “Ultra Violence”. It’s layered with hazy guitars, low-pitched humming and crude electronic percussions. The song reeks of contempt, dissonance and everything bizarre. The grey clouds of melancholy remain persistently hostile throughout the album which is only fair. The last song “Control” is truly mind-blowing and a personal favorite. The hypnotic bassline reverberating with the ghastly, robotic sermons and an unrefined sound of synthesizers makes it raw yet so profound that it’s almost divine.
I still repeat, steer clear of any material from the re-released version because it’s unimpressive and bland beyond belief. Goes on to prove how unnecessary tinkering with even the minuscule of details in music can disrupt its appeal entirely. Still, I’ll definitely look out for their future releases as long as they stick to their explicitly original and perverse sound.