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.

89b0fa3874b74a09a9206974feba3d6b

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

lastfm

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

type-o-negative-october-rust

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

MI0000270021

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.

dd62f1865d92450fa8d07bf3006021e4

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.

1eef9e10252b490b8656d9f5ec9f8633

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.

6382a1edc2b84b86cbcedbc9076e9e7b

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.

Featured Artist of the Month: Tool

For July, I intend to focus on the American progressive metal titans known as “Tool”. Luckily enough, I came across them in my adolescence mainly because of having people around with an exquisite taste in music and also because one of my favorite local bands’ front-man regarded Maynard James Keenan as his true idol so I just had to acquaint myself with this new shiny thing properly. Later, having experienced some of the most intense progressive rock that ventured clairvoyant themes and soul-searching melodies syncopated with alternative and psychedelic influences in the early teenage years of my life was nearly earth-shattering for me. The bizarre lyrical content, oscillating drum beats by Danny Carey, a vague bassline and intricate riffs with a hint of psychedelia stirred to life by Adam Jones instantly set them apart giving them their trademark groove. Keenan’s multi-octave vocal range is essentially articulate and dynamic varying between the angelic, mellow quality to fierce screaming as per the contemplative mood of the song which makes this sonic journey even more worthwhile. You can clearly decipher their eccentric yet ambitious sound with only a handful of albums they’ve put forth over the years.

6c7846c8a87c433cb0cbc7ded21dd972.jpg

Charting out my favorite albums in a particular order without wasting anytime. So here goes..

3, 10, 000 Days

1c02ffaf1e27ed50498ea6917104f729

Released in 2006, “10, 000 Days” is their third studio album and it certainly dishes out that raw “Tool-esque” energy which permeates nearly every musical technique they incorporate. I love how the album kicks off with a dramatic note to evolve into a total banger “Vicarious” with cacophonous riffs and hard-hitting crescendos. As the album unfolds, you begin to interpret the mathematics of progressive rock and the propulsive drive of metal on songs like “Jambi”, “Rosetta Stoned” and “The Pot”. The unconventional elements like the tribal beats, complex song structures axial to their creative domain and deep lyrical themes explore the various whims of human nature and the universe with all of its demented humor. “10, 000 Days” might have not as many mesmerizing numbers but on the whole, the album cleverly infuses just the right instrumentation to justify the intended play on existentialism and psychological axioms.

2, Ænima

Tool-Aenima

Released in 1996, their second full-length album “Ænima” is pessimistic and satirical beyond measure but still transpires profound meaningfulness. The album title with a conjoined “Æ” represents two polar opposites. “Anima” which is often associated with a psych & soul, and your subconscious while the other “Enema'” refers to a medical technique mainly to examine and restore bowel movements. The dark humor is almost comical. Songs like “Stinkfist”, “Eulogy”, “Ænima” and “Third Eye” exude blatant cynicism and intends on highlighting the hypocrisy of human race. The track “H.” is a conundrum of chaotic thoughts and unrestrained paranoia. The song is thought to have a great personal significance for Keenan as it’s more or less of an ambiguous manifestation of the effect fatherhood and the birth of his son (with a middle name “H.”) had on him as stated by himself once. That detail aside, it is undeniably one of their most powerful and expressive songs. The innovation in “Die Eeir von Satan” is mainly in the industrial vein and those sermons delivered in German remind you of some sort of voodoo magic or black magic rituals which funnily enough, is actually a recipe for cookies. Well? I can’t help but point out the tad bit pretentiousness they portray with every album albeit taken way too seriously by Tool fans. I can’t really get round that fact, to be honest. The album has its fair share of flaws. Some songs are unnecessarily prolonged and are plain fillers. It gets a little out of focus in that regard. Nonetheless, it’s an authentic slab of progressive and alternative aspects of heavy music.

1, Lateralus

lateralus

Lateralus. Now finally, there’s your foolproof remedy for emotional and philosophical devastation. My first Tool album, for a fact. It came out in 2001. The overflowing aggression, dissonant guitars and polyrythmic drumming on the opening track “The Grudge” successfully reveals what you’re in for. The progressive escalation into the emotionally purging interludes textured with erratic riffs and throbbing drums alongside cryptic lyrics heard on songs like “The Patient”, “Parabol”, “Parabola”, “Ticks & Leeches” and “Triad” give the album a pulse. “Schism” is unarguably a beauty and my favorite Tool song of all time! Its simple and minimalistic song structure grows on you. The majestic bassline is akin to a sedative. The guitar solo instills a meditative spell into the song and gives it a proper breathing space. “Finding beauty in the dissonance.” epitomizes the integrity of Tool in a single verse. “Lateralus” is another breathtaking gem that lasts for about 9 minutes. It intends on digressing from the fabric of reality which worked out splendidly. The innate energy and obscure lyrics like “We’ll ride the spiral to the end and may just go where no one’s been.” give the song a certain mystical value. It concludes with looming guitars and bouts of frenzy which panned out perfectly. There’s liberal amount of Tool-oriented experimentation on “Lateralus” as well. Quite possibly, it is by far their most profound offering which exploits all the tricky elements of progressive rock to procreate something that stems from the unique individuality of the band and falls nothing short of a quintessential masterpiece.

f1011ea6ce6a4f649f20bf9c41d2dc4f

Tool achieved a great deal of virtuosity with only a number of full-length albums that usually takes an artist years and years to accomplish. The complex album concepts, unusual time signatures, tongue-in-cheek humor which is oblivious to most and maneuvering with modern and primitive tactics of music in their compositions is an art they’ve mastered quite well. Often criticized for being overwrought and pretentious which might be their conscious intention more than usual (so it’s a given) and producing questionable music videos, they redefined the grotesque disposition of humanity and the innate sense of spirituality. You can easily pick out some impulsive takes on nihilism, religious symbolism, collective psychological archetypes and the deeper realms of higher cognition. What they’ve created over the years is something that feeds on your negative energies to transform into a unique mystical experience. They don’t even really force a link to any other artist in terms of their sonic diversity. You ought to have a proper frame of mind to listen to Tool, at times. Either ways, you’ll be a mess.

2bfd1cc13a9d4153a3f85f9660358435

“I embrace my desire to feel the rhythm, to feel connected enough to step aside and weep like a widow to feel inspired, to fathom the power to witness the beauty, to bathe in the fountain to swing on the spiral of our divinity and still be a human.” 

                             “Lateralus” by Tool

Music Recommendation: Barrow by Cemeteries

I stumbled across this really appealing piece of dream-pop combined with ambient & shoegaze elements and I thought I’d do a mini-review. It’s worth it. The album is called “Barrow” by Cemeteries. It’s not to be confused with the hardcore band with same name that disbanded sometime ago. Cemeteries is a brainchild of Kyle J. Reigle based in New York. In the first listen, I was completely enthralled by the originality and the peculiar experimental music which is both refreshing and melancholic in the sense that the line between the two blurs into oblivion eventually intensifying the chimerical essence.

a3456968565_10

The album commences with “Procession” which is set up with atmospheric soundscapes where the roaring and crashing of the surfs is audible till it melts into the next song “Nightjar” which features Reigle’s soothing, echoic chants and tranquil percussions and synthesizers. This instrumental setting is basically the skeletal framework for almost every song of the album still it manages to haunt you with the little variations and electronic extemporization. The stand-out numbers for me on the record are “Can You Hear Them Sing?” and “Sodus”. The former track is a slowly-paced, gloomy hymn with a repetitive chorus. Let’s just say, there’s nothing really wrong about it. “Sodus” on the other hand, sounds bleak yet beautiful and has a ceremonial tune although the lyrics suggest otherwise. The second part of the song is even more thrilling and serves as a perfect dreamy outro. The song in its entirety fuels your imaginative power to muse about fanciful allegories and metaphors.

0003591898_10

It’s not a flawless album but compiled in a way to offer some of the most unique and ethereal dream-pop music. It’s like a breath of fresh air. The surrealism it’s adorned with is the heart and soul of the album. The darker melodies on “Luna (Moon of Claiming)”, “Cicada Howl” and “Our False Fire On Shore” can easily soundtrack the night-time experience amidst the wilderness. The atmospheric musical arrangement definitely trespasses the nostalgic corridors of the mind. The sense of calm & poise it embodies is intoxicating. It’s highly recommended. Go ahead. Give it a spin and wind out!

 

Inside The Batcave: What I Don’t See by Saigon Blue Rain

Being a goth rock/deathrock/post-punk enthusiast I try to dig up all kinds of (new, old, obscure, popular etc) relevant artists and bands to satiate my aural appetite. Two years back, I came across a French gothic rock band “Saigon Blue Rain” and was somehow very impressed how their first album “What I Don’t See” successfully highlighted the “darkwave etherealism” in a very elegant way. Ophélie Lecomte’s velvety, soprano vocals were the cherry on top.

a0662372606_10

Released in September 2014, the record features spaced-out guitars and roomy soundscapes. The prominent bassline adds a generous post-punk vibe which in turn makes the songs more upbeat making them potential dance numbers to be played at a gothic nightclub (Hint: The main category) with its audience swaying to the rhythmic beats. The opening track “Queen Ephemeria” sounds moderately coldwave and essentially gothic with its futuristic sound effects. The record is centered around the surreal, dreamy and otherworldly atmosphere in its entirety. “So Cold” has a catchy beat that later diverges into the synth-pop and new wave variants of gothic rock. “Corps Astral” deals with the redundant nature of electronic music with minimal synths and slow-paced guitars. I especially liked the hypnotic arrangement of synths towards the end.

SBR

“Borealis” starts of with an enigmatic intro and evolves into a subtle darkwave track that is inspired by the basic gothic repertoire. “I Wanna Be You” and “What I Don’t See” also incorporate that consistent darkwave/coldwave technique we are all too familiar with by now. “Beyond The Stone” is my personal favorite. It has just the right proportions of synth-pop, new wave and gothic rock combined to maintain the overall dark ambient essence of the record interspersed with dance music aesthetics contributed by the inherent post-punk influence. “Lovelorn”, “Break the Disease” and the closer “L’Offrande” are seasoned with down-tempo, electronica and melancholic undertones with more delays and transient echoes calling this cryptic sonic delight a wrap.

Saigon Blue Rain will definitely ring a bell or two about bands like The Frozen Autumn, The Cure, This Mortal Coil, Cocteau Twins and Love Spirals Downwards all of which rejoice the deep-seated darkness and an elusive song-craft. The record explores the various ethos of gothic rock, darkwave and the related sub-genres. The vocals are a beautiful celebration of the feminine allure of a sirenic voice. The symbolic lyrics and the gothic rock dynamics deviating towards the electro-pop and darkwave/coldwave styles are infused with mellow and haunting lovesick melodies.

(Goes without saying) Do check them out if you haven’t!

Featured Artist of the Month: Soundgarden

So I have decided to do a monthly post dedicated to a single artist I have either grown up listening to, have become fond of over the years, loved in the first listen, has influenced me in any way possible or is simply of some nostalgic value to me. I would also do a list of some of my favorite albums from that particular artist, just in case.

This month, it just felt natural to choose a band that involved the late Chris Cornell; the high-strung rocker, a fine grunge vocalist with a four-octave vocal range and a songwriter/guitarist for multiple bands, whose untimely death on the 18th of May, 2017 has left a massive void in the world of rock n’ roll that can’t be filled for long. I personally love “Soundgarden” the most of all his projects because it has that essential Sabbathy, eerily heavy sound and that edgy hard rock energy making them one of the most distinct grunge bands of the 90s that reinvented the varied dynamics of the genre in question.

8008501d16c24a33a9313dcf12c02239

These grunge giants are all about the oddly tuned guitars, intense vocals and dark lyrics. Highly influenced by bands like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, their signature sound is an eccentric dichotomy of the trademark punk rock/post-punk and the grave, greasily tardy metal sound. The band has been through certain rocky patches and was disbanded in 1997 which then later reformed in 2010 after a 12 year gap. Still they managed to produce seven brilliant studio albums, a few live recordings and a couple of EPs under their belt. Together with the other three grunge maestros i.e. Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam and Nirvana they helped invent and refine this specific sub-genre of alternative rock.

Time to list my favorite Soundgarden albums so here goes.

1, Badmotorfinger

935169b2a7744529b7a905cc07e31bb7

Released in 1991, Badmotorfinger is a smashing record which is why I declared it their finest work. My favorite number “Rusty Cage” with that mesmerizing opening riff has that dissident essence of a nonconformist’s anthem and the hard-rock wholesomeness with a main chorus comprising of verses like “I’m going to break my rusty cage… and run.” is so provocative. The record features Kim Thayil’s dirty guitar riffs with mid-paced drone that trails back to Sabbath’s signature sound and not to forget, Cornell’s screams that are full of angst and agitation. What is there to not like about this record, in all honesty? Especially if you’re into rock/metal and find yourself questioning religion, your existence and politics, it’s a quality pick for sure! Songs like “Outshined”, “Searching with My Good Eye Closed”, “Stray Cat Blues”, “Jesus Christ Pose”, “Holy Water” and an on-point cover of Black Sabbath’s “Into The Void” are a perfect musical and lyrical depiction of the themes they like to play around with an air of sarcasm & aggression. You’re basically in for some seriously heavy grunge rock with an overtly funky vibe and an unremitting frenzy of sludge/doom. A great pick for someone in his or her teens to battle it out with their sense of individualism and the relative catalytic chain of contradictions.

2, Superunknown

ba46062e0b094a889ac06447fd5714f8

If a record truly defines the standard sound of Soundgarden, it is this album, most probably. “Superunknown” was released in 1994 and still sounds profound with an outburst of an impending doom. It is loaded with crass riffwork, drab & tuned-down guitars evocative of Black Sabbath’s heavy sound and the melodic ballgame of Led Zepp’s blues rock accompanied by a swampy bassline. Cornell’s vocal range overlapping between the tenor and baritone is well-suited to sing the blues behind the veil of grunge rock that’s undeniably coarse and gritty. Lyrics basically focus on the pessimistic side of things which isn’t hard to tell. Bitter verses like “Times are gone for honest men and sometimes far too long for snakes.” in “Black Hole Sun”, “If you don’t want to be seen you don’t have to hide, if you don’t want to believe you don’t have to try to feel alive.”  in “Superunknown” or “With an ounce of pain, I wield a ton of rage. Just like suicide.” sound expressive more than ever now that the songwriter is no more. Nevertheless, “Superunknown” might as well be one of the best grunge albums ever recorded. It’s full of back-to-back breakout singles with not even a single mediocre song making it a powerhouse of a rock record which is introspective enough to deliver an impact that doesn’t wear off over the years.

 3, Louder Than Love

55b06fcb8c1f4a43ca463820ff19b41b

While I would totally agree that 1990’s “Louder Than Love” doesn’t showcase their coherent musical genius but still it’s an accomplished record that highlights the punk side of grunge/alternative rock which is plain raw and you can hear some major “The Stooges” worship somewhere in there. You have a vigorous blend of grunge, hard rock, psychedelic and alternative metal at the end of the day driven mostly by a sluggish bass, slithery riffs and spasmodic drumming. It’s not all that dark and thought-provoking rather just these lads trying to have some fun. “Hands All Over”, “Get On The Snake”, “No Wrong No Right” and “Gun” are really groovy tracks. It’s one if their earliest albums and the crude energy it emanates is typically old-school and heavy. Cornell’s multi-octave vocal quality is unique and impressive. However, they’ve made it pretty clear how they can’t part ways with their well-tamed Black Sabbath influence.

While rest of their studio albums (Ultramega OK, Down On The Upside and King Animal) are worth a mention, still do not come close to the aforementioned flawless releases.

01SoundgardenBigTop001

Soundgarden revived grunge on so many levels and successfully churned out some of the most unforgettable hard rock riffs by hitting a nail on the head with their overflowing ferocity and musical creativity by being true to their roots of rock/metal. No wonder in no time they worked up their way to become one of the most acknowledged grunge bands of the 90s. You’re in for some serious nostalgic blues if already a fan and if not, you’re definitely missing out. Give the records a spin and you’ll know why they’re one of “The Big Four” grunge bands.

P.S: Farewell, Chris!

Album Review: Nåde by Område

Omrade cover

Område’s second studio album “Nåde” is an interesting combination of industrial rock and avant-garde metal. There’s a great deal of sonic experimentation on-going and the contemporary style is highly noticeable. The first song “Malum” opens with a vivid sound of electronic percussions which is integral to the industrial style of music, then progresses to a more layered structure featuring keyboards, tranquil guitars, violin and a trumpet which is the traditional instrumentation for blues rock. Suffice to say, it sets up a very dramatic mood already. “XII” maintains the sensitivity of the album as it splices swaying guitars, subtle piano notes, an alto saxophone acoustics and glitched distortions into the electro-industrial backbone of the song. “Enter” is a nicely-paced song. It plays around with themes of electro-rock and again, incorporates a consistent industrial rock sound. About time I comment on the vocals that basically involve clean singing with high-notes for the most part which is more emotional than aggressive. The next song “Hänelle” is also in the same vein as the first three tracks. There’s repetitive guitar riffs, trumpets blowing, synths in action and a decent song at the end of the day. Next up is “Styrking Leið” which has an artsy composition. It’s the most overwhelming song on the record. I like the electronic transitions and how it’s intensified with sped-up guitar riffs and those electronically automated critical junctures. It certainly leaves the impact it promises.

Omrade pic 1 web

“The Same For The Worst” has an intro that embodies a lounge jazz feel. In a rock song? Well, yes. This also goes on to prove how they’ve rejected the stern tactics of the generic rock/metal sound. It features alternating quality of vocals i.e. frustrated screams and female backing vocals that mute down to sirenic whispers more than once. “Baldar Jainko” evokes the cryptic side of industrial metal with appealing bits of drum sequence for a change. The last song “Falaich” is mainly orchestral and wraps up the entire album with a sentimental note.

“Nåde” (which means “Mercy” or “Grace” in English) is a good record if not extraordinary, mechanized fundamentally with industrial and avant-garde musical arrangements. The turning points are executed with electronic distortions that are both bizarre and catchy at the same time. There are certain dramatized themes performed with a hybrid sound of jazz, trip-hop, electronica and metal. The overall ambiguity renders it banal, at some point. Experimentally, it is a good venture for the band however, they could’ve accomplished the task at hand in a less complex and more artistically overpowering way. In any case, fans of industrial rock and metal in general, should definitely look out for it.

Album Rating: 3/5.