Dark Hemyspheres: July 2013
School's out, shorts are in fashion, and everyone’s thinking about that cherished week away in the sun that constitutes the annual summer holiday. Even the devil seems to be getting away from it all this year, as a rather threadbare pile of releases stares up at me this month.
TMF top tips Maschine have finally readied their debut album, and go some way to rewarding our faith. The frankly absurd musical ability on display throughout Rubidium  is breath-taking, but a massive dose of self-indulgence it is not. Complex, shifting songs are meticulously weaved together, although the tendency to sound a little too close to heroes Pain Of Salvation is a little off-putting. Tracks like 'Cubixstro' hint at further avenues to be explored in the future as the band (hopefully) attempt to find a sound more of their own making. Another band to clearly wear their influences on their sleeves are Eat Lights Become Lights. Third album Modular Living  continues to bop along at the forefront of the nu-kraut scene with childish abandon and unbridled motorik joy. A fine blend of those driving beats so synonymous with the genre and catchy guitar hooks, it makes for some great going-on-holiday music.
Death metal stalwarts NunSlaughter have a collection of 7" singles and splits that would confuse even the most devout fan. In a bid to start collecting them we have Devils Congeries Vol.I  (Hells Headbangers' atrocious grammar strikes again), focusing on releases from around the turn of the century. The studio tracks are an enjoyable dose of anti-religious venom, though the live and rehearsal tracks are marred by their poor bootleg quality. But it is their 1990 EP Killed By The Cross that defies logic: five tracks of inaudible bass as if recorded through brickwork – I can't review these as I can't hear the songs! Panzerchrist continue their assault on our ears with VII Offensive , a fun but slightly harmless blast of war-themed fun. Technically astute, the opening title track promises much with its howitzer guitars and destructive menace, but once that opening salvo dissipates, the rest of the album falls into a somewhat average track.
Matt Pike has always been something of a riff fiend, and with High On Fire he has produced a raft of excellent albums. All this is now summed up on the two-part live collection Spitting Fire . Brutal and energetic, this is a masterclass in stoner rock, a constant barrage of killer tunes delivered with true aggression and bundles of energy. 'Snakes Of The Divine' has always been a personal favourite, and brings this beast to an almighty conclusion. Goatess are just starting out, but their self-titled debut offers a lot. Goatess  marries chunky, funereal riffs with a generous dose of playfully melodic guitars. Memorable for all the right reasons, there is enough here to suggest at least one great album in their future. Unfortunately True Widow have not kicked on as much as their previous offering hinted they might. Instead they have gone backwards with Circumambulation , a collection of painfully monotonous songs that amble along slower than your average commuter train. Not heavy enough to use the lack of pace or too staid to fill in the space, this very quickly becomes a tired and boring listen.
French-Canadian black metallers Gris return after six years for another dose of folk-tinged despair. Spread over two mirrored discs, À L'Âme Enflammée, L'Äme Constellée...  is something of an effort to get all the way through, but is not entirely without reward. The heavy passages are generally forgettable blasts down well-worn paths, but the acoustic folk sections are markedly darker and beautifully unsettling in their haunting sparsity. A trip to ancient Egypt with Italy's Ecnephias proves less successful. Certainly nothing like as black, Necrogod  is a bland, mid-paced amble through a very dull musical landscape. Supposedly a concept album focusing on myths from pre-Christian history, there is nothing more than the occasional nod musically, and any interest in the stories is soon lost.
The violent hatred seething through Nothing Violates This Nature  is positively invigorating. All Pigs Must Die imbue the record with such a passion and energy, though difficult to appreciate at first, the urge to smash the nearest object becomes rather powerful! Dig a little deeper still, and there is a surprising balance to the album, signs that some care has gone into the pacing and flow of what on the surface appears just a mindless thrashing of aural thuggery. By comparison, Battlecross come across as somewhat lightweight as they indulge in a spot of modern thrash. War Of Will  is disappointingly formulaic, some good mindless fun that induces bouts of involuntary headbanging yet is neither memorable nor even that exciting when judged against peers and influences.
Decidedly unsummery is Radiator , the new LP from Total Life. Two sides of unrelenting, barely shifting yet utterly mesmeric feedback, it does a very good job of zoning out and sending the listener into a state of mindless relaxation. But when Metal Machine Music is positively melodic in comparison, it is hard to escape the fact that in all truth, this is ultimately a dull record. I can't quite decide if apocalyptic folk's leading lady lightens the mood or not. After a troubled time, Andria Degens, aka Pantaleimon, is finally back with her brand of droney, experimental folk. The Butterfly Ate The Pearl  certainly appears more in keeping with the season, yet is still a deeply unsettling listen. Her hushed, beautiful vocals brush across the brain like a light breeze, chilling and relaxing in equal measures as the unhurried and twisted music slowly weaves its earthen spell.
Without doubt the heaviest and tastiest record this month comes courtesy of 11 Paranoias. Two thirds Ramesses and one third Bong, these four tracks that make up Superunnatural  are deliciously brutal; monolithic guitars and mind-erasing feedback swirl around at maximum volume to create a rather psychedelic aural black hole which promptly pulls apart your brain. Even the closing 'Inside Eusa's Head' with its sparser and cleaner sound has strange consequences as the theremin and phased guitars summon the pink elephants and melting walls. Many were mourning the loss of Ramesses when they announced their demise, but no longer as 11 Paranoias now take up the baton to bludgeon our poor abused ears. Please sir, can I have some more?
Maschine – Rubidium (29th, InsideOut Music)
Eat Lights Become Lights – Modular Living (15th, Rocket Girl)
NunSlaughter – Devils Congeries Vol.I (22nd, Hells Headbangers)
Panzerchrist – VII Offensive (15th, Listenable Records)
High On Fire – Spitting Fire Live Vol. 1 & 2 (1st, Century Media)
Goatess – Goatess (8th, Svart Records)
True Widow – Circumambulation (22nd, Relapse Records)
Gris – À L'Âme Enflammée, L'Äme Constellée... (8th, Sepulchral Productions)
Ecnephias – Necrogod (1st, code666)
All Pigs Must Die – Nothing Violates This Nature (29th, Southern Lord)
Battlecross – War Of Will (8th, Metal Blade Records)
Total Life – Radiator (22nd, Important Records)
Pantaleimon – The Butterfly Ate The Pearl (22nd, Grass Girl Music)
11 Paranoias – Superunnatural (8th, Ritual Productions)