Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Mt. Mountain - EP

I'm really getting the impression that there is something in the water over in the west...

Hailing from Perth, Mt. Mountain are definitely on the softer and more subdued end of what we usually cover on this blog. But when I hear warm, earthy, psychedelic rock such as that displayed in the five tracks on their (self-titled?) EP, I find it hard to resist.

From start to finish, the relentlessly hypnotic, down tempo rumble of the bass acts like an undertow, churning subliminally but forcefully, to drag you wholly into the rest of the music. It is by no means the most complex bass work out there, but it is extremely effective. Upon repeat listens, I found myself happy to just follow those thick, rubbery basslines as they meander unhurriedly through the rest of EP's landscape.

And that landscape resembles some kind of dense, mossy forest, spotted with sunlight, its shadows populated with a procession of familiar spirits crossing your path - the Black Angels, Dead Meadow, Mark Lanegan, Hawkwind.

However, even with its inviting familiarity, EP is more than just a moody psychedelic scrapbook. Mt. Mountain are not afraid to throw unpredictable elements together to make their music reverberate in its own interesting way. "Tomorrow", with its crooning harmonica, adds a touch of the Doors-inflected blues. In "FX/My Love", you know the breakaway riff is coming as the song builds, and when it does it kicks with a big, groovy swagger (akin to Black Mountain). But it only rears its head in that form once - when it returns towards the end of the song it is dismantled with noise, bends and notes left hanging in the air. In closer, "Ghosts" unexpected outbursts of fuzzy, spacey guitar cut right through the brooding, heavy-headed trudge that characterises the rest of the song, lifting it to unexpected heights.

Mt. Mountain's EP has plenty of twists and turns to hold your attention, but is also more than capable of lulling you into the aether. Highly recommended if you are looking to just drift away for about half an hour. Listen here.


Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Locktender - Rodin

The premise of Locktender's music is the presentation heavy, emotional post-hardcore interpretations of creative works by figures such as Franz Kafka, William Blake and, on their new album, Auguste Rodin. And why would I want to listen to screamo art appreciation essays? Well, the couple of times I have seen Rodin sculptures in real life, it has been difficult to turn away - I remember standing and staring slack-jawed at The Gates of Hell, transfixed by the swarm of twisted, strained figures emerging from dark, solid bronze. So with that in mind, curiosity took hold and I decided to give Locktender a go...

The four tracks on Rodin, each titled after one of the artist's sculptures, provide a sprawling and compelling document of admiration for the album’s namesake. The music moves continuously and fluidly through myriad atmospheres in a progression of light and shade that, at different points, calls to mind Fall of Efrafa and Cara Neir.

Opening song, "The Burghers of Calais" is the standout. At just under 20 minutes in length, it patiently evolves from lonely guitar lines resonating gently in empty space, through tense, jangly riffs that build desperately into explosive outbursts of metallic sludge that monstrously bellow bloody murder (while retaining their soaring melodies), before returning to do it all again. The absence of repetitive hooks, laboured phrases or simple breakdowns provides a lot of time for contemplation, but when Locktender let their savagery rip, they give it everything. The jagged onslaught of percussive, noisy hardcore in the first half of "The Thinker" exemplifies this, until the song shifts into a rousing refrain - "can we still find the light at the end of the tunnel?" - which is delivered by voices that seem to be inviting you to join in the thinker's engrossed musings.

Then a black swan appears in the form of “Eternal Springtime”, a piece that is more romantic chamber music than hardcore. A surprising departure from the rest of the album, it features only a lilting violin accompanying a swooning guitar composition. But it also feeds smoothly into the intro of the final track, “The Man With the Broken Nose”, which resumes the extended journey through contrasts between the delicate and the brutal that characterise the album overall.

The music on Rodin unfolds in a way that makes it very easy to drift away thinking about the ideas Locktender are trying to express, or the stories behind the artworks they are trying to retell. Although it does get carried away in its own airs and graces at times, it does so honestly, and the theatricality of the band’s delivery seems completely forthright. While this album might draw some polarised reactions, Locktender are trying something a bit different and, in my opinion, managing to pull it off well and making it interesting to listen to.

Rodin and the rest of Locktender's music is available on their Bandcamp page and their website.


Thursday, 29 May 2014

Unkle K's Bands of the Week

Geoff, setting new metal fashions at this year's Maryland Deathfest.

Beast in the Field
Two-piece from Michigan that creates a massive racket with lots and lots of cabs and amps. Possibly one of my fave instrumental bands at the moment. Very catchy tunes. Could maybe compare them to High on Fire without vocals.
Saw Her Ghost Records

Atomic Death Squad
More Melbourne thrash, this time a little bit closer to the crossover side of things. They do a Cryptic Slaughter cover on their 7”, which may give you an idea of where they are coming from.

Tree of Sores
Really like this band's name, but when I first gave them a spin a few years ago the tunes didn’t really do it for me. Anyway, these Leeds lads are back with a 27 minute epic track of doomy, crusty sludge that blows my socks off. Much improvement.

Gig of the Week
The VeeBees, Meatbeaters and Hell Crab City, Saturday 31 May at Magpies City Club.

Video of the Week
Blood, Sweat & Vinyl: DIY in the 21st Century: YouTube

Playlist: Unkle K
1. Serpentine Path - Emanations
2. Deep Purple - Fireball
3. Floor - Oblation
4. Beast in the Field - The Sacred Above, the Sacred Below
5. Tree of Sores - A Cry of Despair

Playlist: lxp
1. Vidunder - S/T
2. Slug Lord - Transmutation
3. Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell - Check 'Em Before You Wreck 'Em
4. Grimpen Mire - A Plague Upon Your Houses
5. Man is the Bastard - D.I.Y.C.D.
6. Mark Lanegan - Has God Seen My Shadow? An Anthology 1989-2011

Unkle K

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Unkle K's Bands of the Week

Wet Pensioner
There is a trash metal revival on and and Melbourne’s Wet Pensioner pull it off perfectly. This wouldn’t be out of place in 1987. Great catchy songs, cool vocals and the songs don’t go too long. I think this is a lot better than fellow Victorians Clowns, who seem to be getting a lot of attention and picked up the recent D.R.I. support.

Pastor from Vienna, Austria could be pigeonholed with other great hard rock bands like Witchcraft and Graveyard. They are maybe not on that level yet after this first 7”, but I look forward to their future output.

Morgue of Saints
One man project Morgue of Saints, from Montreal throws out classic instrumental metal in a doomy vein. The first song opens with a solo that would not be out of place on a Mercyful Fate LP and then kicks into some seriously catchy riffing and keyboards.

Gig of the Week
Thee Nodes (Canada), Gentlemen (Melb), Hygiene, Harrow and Primary Colours, Wednesday 21 May at Magpies City Club, 8pm.
Facebook event page

Playlist: Unkle K
1. Internal Rot - Mental Hygiene
2. Super Fun Happy Slide - Drop Your Pants and Grind
3. Thou - Heathen
4. Tree of Sores - A Cry of Despair
5. Nightfell - The Living Ever Mourn

Playlist: lxp
1. Thou - Heathen/The Sacrifice
2. Nux Vomica - S/T
3. Oozing Wound - Retrash
4. Floor - Oblation
5. Fu Manchu - Gigantoid
6. The Wounded Kings - Consolamentum
7. Hydromedusa - Debut 7"
8. Internal Rot - Mental Hygiene
9. Quasimoto - The Unseen
10. Celtic Frost - To Mega Therion (RIP H. R. Giger)

Unkle K

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Upcoming gigs

Sunday 20 April at Magpies City Club (early show)
The VeeBees and Seedy Jeezus
Check out the VeeBees' latest album, Outta Ammo here.

Friday 25 April at the Basement
D.O.A. (Canada)

Tuesday 29 April at Commonwealth Park Amphitheatre
Disturd (Japan), Insidious Process (Sweden), Eye Gouge and Hygiene

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Unkle K's Bands of the Week

I love a good instrumental band - no shitty vocals to mess things up. And I’d put Canadians Hawkeyes almost up there with heavyweights such as Capricorns, Zebulon Pike and Year of No Light. Hawkeyes feature a four guitar attack plus drums and bass, and this four track tape comes highly recommended if you like epic, big riffs and a good rock-out.

Evil Ways
God damn, great punky rock 'n' roll from these ex-Canberrans. Pretty sure this band was previously Panel Van Halen (please let me know if I’m wrong). Well worth checking. They have a 7” I need to get a copy of.

Slapshot (USA), Thursday 27 March
at Turner Bowling Club

Turbobelco, Saturday 29 March at the Phoenix

Kylesa (USA), Tuesday 1 April at ANU Bar

(Also see post below.)

Unkle K

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Upcoming gigs

Thursday 27 March at Turner Bowling Club
Slapshot, Toe to Toe, Hostile Objects, Bladder Spasms, Eye Gouge and The Fuck Outs

Saturday 29 March at the Phoenix
Turbobelco, Bulldoze All Bowlos and Baby Machine

Tuesday 1 April at ANU Bar
Kylesa, Looking Glass and Rise of Avernus

Saturday 5 April at the Phoenix
Harmony, Hoodlum Shouts and Sex Machine

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

To Cross the Oceans 2

Continuing from a post I put up in August last year, here are some more links relating to the global reach of metal and punk that readers might find interesting.

Algeria, Morocco, Cameroon, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe
Since that earlier post, Alasdair Bulmer's geographic focus has moved progressively southward in the series of articles on African metal that he has written for Invisible Oranges. Although short, these articles offer a fascinating and diverse snapshot.
African Metal #3: Algeria and Morocco
African Metal #4: Cameroon
African Metal #5: Uganda
African Metal #6: Zambia and Zimbabwe

Picking up from the article on Zambia, which mentions that 1970s Zamrock records have been reissued by Now Again Records, a couple of years ago I got my hands on a compilation released by that label called Those Shocking, Shaking Days: Indonesian Hard, Psychedelic, Progressive Rock and Funk: 1970-1978. The anthology, and its extensive liner notes, give an overview of a rock movement overflowing with fuzz and funk that drew on a range of influences, from James Brown to Black Sabbath, to hold a mirror up to the cultural and political landscape of Indonesia under Suharto in the '70s. Listen to the album here.

Decades later, it seems that psychedelic hard rock continues to have a good home in Indonesia. A couple of bands that exemplify this and are well worth checking out are The Sigit, who released the excellent Detourn late last year, and Sigmun.
The Sigit - Detourn (Bandcamp)
Sigmun (Bandcamp)

It is already well known that punk is also thriving in Indonesia. Punk Rock vs Sharia Law, a 20 minute documentary by Noisey, focuses on a marginalised group of punks in Aceh, highlighting the persecution the group has faced as well as the long lasting impact of the 2004 tsunami.
Punk Rock vs Sharia Law (Noisey)

Finally, the tale of Biquette the punk goat (thanks to Dave for bringing this one to my attention). Before her untimely death in December last year, Biquette lived on a farm/DIY space in rural France, where she spent her time hanging out and watching bands that played there, such as Wormrot.
"Grind Goat Will Never Die But You Will" (Noisey)