If Helmet kept experimenting with their sound in a positive way after Betty, you may very well have ended up with an album in the vicinity of what ÆGES presents with release of their debut album The Bridge, hitting streets today via The Mylene Sheath. ÆGES implements great use of distortions with melodic movements that will certainly draw comparisons to Quicksand and Helmet. The band embarks upon this musical journey with modern progressions that incorporate many layers of dense guitar and bass work. Vocals are distinct, powerful, clear and catchy. When opening track, “Wrong” breaks into the chorus, you know the band is on to something. Discordant melodic backgrounds, powerful vocals, and loads of meaty bass distortion that never lacks catchy hooks, are the prevailing themes you’ll find on this LP. The veteran musicianship of Mark Holcomb (Undertow, Shift), Larry Herweg (Pelican, Tusk), and Kemble Walters (The Rise, The Blank Faces, Juliette and the Licks) is clear and focused on this 10-song effort. Songs like “Southern Comfort” marinate in slow grooves and bask in the listener’s mind before opening into a hard-hitting outro. With dense guitar work and vocals that hit a zenith of intensity while carrying over leitmotifs from the early progressions, “Southern Comfort” closes with a serious bang. Some of the transitional bass work in this track even brings to mind Ænima-era Tool.
Slower tracks like “Sent From Heaven (Rest in Dirt)” bring to mind Fire In The City of Automation-era No Knife that make for interesting segues from some of the more driving tracks. “I Believe in Ghosts” even kicks in with a set of progressions that would fit in Weezer’s early catalog. Definitely many nostalgic elements to this record, but The Bridge contains enough modern spins and injections of originality to stay interesting and fresh throughout.
I examined ÆGES first EP in Review Rundown I, so be sure to scope that if you missed it.
Standouts: “Wrong”, “ Southern Comfort”, “The Words We Say”
Featuring members of Trash Talk and Touche Amore, DNF has set forth one hell of a powerviolence run with their debut EP, Hurt. There is no lack of droning sludge into blistering grindcore here. Straightforward powerviolence in the vein of new-school practitioners Weekend Nachos immediately comes to mind. Among the standouts, track “Most Few” blasts forward with the attitudinal guitar tones and vocal deliveries that remind us of the angst that set Ceremony ahead of the pack in their formative stages. Hurt hits its stride in segments like the unrelenting d-beat and grind transitions of “Virgin,” that smash forward, overflowing with angst and determination. DNF doesn’t go overboard on the sludge, which is always appreciated. I hate having to wait ten minutes through obnoxious droning to get my face peeled back with some shred. Good balance and juxtaposition of varying structures on this 8-song offering. We are told this only a taste of what is yet to come, as the four-piece works on a debut full-length LP. Live show should prove a force to be reckoned with.
Standout Tracks: “Most Few”, “Virgin”
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Album: On The Eclipse 7” Vinyl
Label: Brutal Panda Records
Home Base: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Genre: Experimental / Psychedelic / Electroacoustic
FFO: Isis, SunnO))), Neurosis, Darkthrone
Available: April 2012
Horseback add another EP to a fresh and ever-growing catalog with a mold of great minimalist textures of distorted melodies, acoustic guitars, and even keys in opening track “On The Eclipse”. Snarling, distorted vocals sit far under the mix, but fit perfectly in the context of sounds that seem to tempt and elude the listener into believing this is a conventional song structure. I would dare call this “accessible,” compared to much of Horseback’s prior catalog. Drum placements sound as though The Velvet Underground could have laid down this track in the 70s with a simple backbone that contains intermittently placed and accentuated downbeats of the hi-hat. The song twists and meanders into some very interesting guitar leads with slow but always compelling melodic textures intertwined, resting comfortably on top the mix. This opening track may be my favorite piece I’ve ever heard from Horseback. The acoustic guitars segue and eventually work their way back into the mix as do the irate, black metal-induced vocals. “On The Eclipse” remains catchy and haunting as we close out Side A.
“Broken Orb” is appropriately titled, as the high-end note structure brings to mind some intergalactic turbulence to kick off Side B. While side A was a practice in haunting and deliberate melodies, “Broken Orb” is a practice in abstraction. Nothing stands out or makes a poignant impression, as this track is more about losing yourself than finding direction.
Solid 7-inch. We will be examining Horseback’s forthcoming LP on Relapse Records, Half Blood, in the coming weeks- so stay tuned.