MARKERS | Heaven in the Dark Earth | ALBUM REVIEW

MARKERS | Heaven in the Dark Earth | ALBUM REVIEW

Markers | Heaven in the Dark Earth | Album review

Review by: Graeme J. Baty

Heaven In The Dark Earth

I’m finding 2019 to be a very interesting year for instrumental music, already some amazing releases; Steve Strong, Teeth of the Sea and Rosetta. Markers popped up on my radar and having heard lead track Marine Parlance I was quite intrigued to hear more.

The band consists of London based math-rock veterans Jason Carty and Jodie Cox. Associated with such acts as Bullet Union, Exes, Narrows, Earth, Sex Swing, Foe, Art of Burning Water, which is quite an impressive list!

The album starts out with Fountain; a sparse soundscape with beautiful reverb drenched crashes. Providing the perfect mood setting for what is to come.

In Amber follows and sets the tone for the rest of the record. Beautifully bare minimum guitar tones, a smidge of reverb and a very clean guitar tone. A kind of ‘less is more’ approach which works strikingly well. As I find myself lulled into a pleasant meditation. The album continues this pace with a brief interlude for Haar. Before the crowning peace Muisca closes the record.

The minimal instrumentation is actually quite refreshing, I often enjoy densely layered music which requires repeated listens and heavy perseverance to fully engage and understand. Here the musicians let the music do the talking, bare minimum instrumentation and tone, juxtaposed with highly crafted compositions. It’s really lovely just to sit back, close my eyes and allow the guitars to wash over you. Delightfully serene record. It feels like a narrative piece, a soundtrack to a movie in my mind, just close your eyes and let your imagination run wild.

Heaven in the Dark Earth is out on God Unknown on 22nd February 2019. You can also order some nice looking limited colour vinyl versions from their Bandcamp page

ROSETTA | Sower of Wind | EP REVIEW

ROSETTA | Sower of Wind | EP REVIEW

Rosetta | Sower of Wind | EP review

Review by: Jimmy Hutchinson

Rosetta – Sower of Wind

Formed in Philadelphia in 2003, Rosetta has released six full-length albums to date (and the band has made its more recent work available via Bandcamp). Their latest release is an exploration of some of the soundscapes that they developed while creating their 2017 concept album, Utopioid, which featured gradually building dynamics and complex time signatures. However, this release should not be viewed as a re-tread of the earlier album. Devoid of distorted guitars, vocals, drums and crescendos, Sower of Wind is comprised of four pieces named after the points of a compass. Each track consists of a delicate wash of minimalist piano, slowly building synths and sound effects. While each track incorporates similar elements, the melodies and atmospheres created are unique. Other layers, such as fragile acoustic guitars and barely audible speech samples, gradually appear in some of the pieces, only to be submerged in the mix once again.

An interesting departure for fans of their previous album, or for fans of atmospheric, ambient-flavoured music in general, Sower of Wind is a subtly constructed record. While regular followers of the band may miss the more aggressive elements, Rosetta may well find themselves a new audience with this release.

Sower of Wind has been available on Bandcamp for pay-what-you-wish download since 4th January 2019:

It will be available on vinyl from 22nd February: pelagic-records.com/product/rosetta-sower-of-wind-12-ep

THE TWILIGHT SAD | It Won/t Be Like This All The Time | ALBUM REVIEW

THE TWILIGHT SAD | It Won/t Be Like This All The Time | ALBUM REVIEW

The Twilight Sad | It Won/t Be Like This All The Time | Album reaction

Review and photos by: Graeme J. Baty

 

‘It Won/t Be Like This All The Time’ has been a long time coming and marks The Twilight Sad’s first album since 2014. That’s quite a remarkable thought, how time flies?! That album became an instant classic, they set themselves a high benchmark. Although it’s taken a long time to release a follow-up, they’ve certainly not been slacking, endless touring and notable side projects have kept them busy. They’ve emerged as one of Scotland’s most revered and respected bands. It’s been a pleasure to watch them rise in recent years. 2019 sees them make another gigantic step towards the big time.

Their fifth album brings some changes; new personnel, record label and a maturing of their sound. It Won/t Be Like This All The Time is a fearless leap into the unknown, yet it retains the key characteristics that we love. Much like labelmates Mogwai, TTS seem unable to release a duff record, constantly innovating and ensuring their lasting legacy as one of Scotland’s best bands.

The big question is… does it live up to their previous efforts?

Today I picked up my very own indies only blue edition from the canny folk at Reflex in Newcastle. I’ve tried to resist the temptation to obtain review copies and or to listen to the streamed songs before the release. It’s been a long long time since I’ve been excited about a record and I wanted to make a bit of effort for it.

Although I’ve been lucky enough to have heard some of the songs live. Here I go for the first proper play and I’ll give my reaction track by track! This won’t be a very insightful deep probe into the record, just an honest reaction to the songs as I play them.

Side A

[10 Good Reasons For Modern Drugs]

This is weird, slow and droney, the vocals start. Wait a minute! It’s 45 RPM, wow! I pick up the needle and hit the 45rpm toggle. Instantly impressed, as they kickoff the record with graceful but rousing song. A Krautrock loop sounds delightful as James sings “We’re hanging on by a thread”, I’m on the edge of my seat taking this in. It ends on “Why can’t you remember me?” as feedback bubbles underneath and I’m pretty stunned. This is classic Twilight Sad and an incredible opener.

The 45 RPM speed is a nice touch! Hard to compare it to a 33 1/3 record, as I don’t have one! However, the sound quality on the pressing is immaculate, so I can assume it’s a positive.

Shooting Dennis Hopper Shooting

What a title! This one I distinctly remember from the Brudenell show. The bassline grabs you, a real Docherty stomper, leaving me with a sore neck! The record version doesn’t disappoint, surely an album highlight. Vocally it conjures very violent imagery. I need to come back to this song and play it some more.

The Arbor

The third song; The Arbor channels eighties guitar arpeggios with a sickly sweet chorus effect. I remember this was another Brudenell highlight. Sorry, I can sense this playback bringing recalling many fond memories, it was my favourite gig of 2018 after all! Back to the music, this is probably the softest tone to a TTS song to date. Touring relentlessly with The Cure would influence any band and the characteristics have made their way into the soul of the new material by way of osmosis. Although they’ve always been fans of The Cure, perhaps now it’s more noticeable. The synths take centre stage, mixed higher and more prominent on the record, more so than even on NOCEK, albeit with a less gothic/industrial twist and a more unapologetic 80s sound. This record is Brendan Smith’s time to shine.

Side B

VTr

Instantly recognisable! Easily a setlist highlight from the gigs I’ve seen in 2018. The track finds them knocking up the power with some absolutely incredible percussion. Bringing a level of speed (note: that’s speed coupled with precision) that was not present on previous records. The precision and velocity driving the track. Gone are the slow and steady beats. The percussion really shines on the record so far.

“There’s no Love Too Small” VTr is an anthemic stadium-filling masterpiece and I bloody love it!

Sunday Day13

This is the first real breather on the album. A slow number, more traditional TTS type ‘death ballad’ for want of a better term. It brings disc 1 to a close, it wouldn’t feel out of place on Forget The Night Ahead. I really like this one.

Side C

I/m Not Here [missing face]

The smash hit I’m Not Here. Damn, I played this on loop when it came out. Goosebumps still come over me in a wave when I heard the drone of the guitar during the opening. Another broken relationship singalong anthem.  James sings quite openly, I can’t help but wonder who this song is about, but I also like the fact that it can be translated to your own experiences, so maybe I’m happy not knowing. Another classic.

Auge/Maschine

This is not letting up, here comes another stormer. Andy’s guitar riff is a thing of pure beauty, great tone! It takes the song to the next level.

This one will need a few more plays just for sheer indulgence, but I’ll continue and come back to this! Ending on Andy’s trademark feedback, the hairs on my neck stand up. Definitely a song for us guitar nerds.

Keep It All To Me

The third side is coming to a close and the album seems to be settling into a groove with a bitter synth led track.

Side D

Girl Chewing Gum

Yes! Andy is back! Andy’s guitar playing was the key thing I remember from the first time I saw TTS, this is a flashback to those face melting Marshall stack bludgeons.

“Put me in the ground!” James cries. I think I have a new favourite TTS song!

Let/s Get Lost

Ooooh an 80s power ballad? I’m not sure where this one is going judging by the opening bars. By the time James comes in for the verse and power ballad expectations are dispelled “I’m losing, losing you every day”. As the song finds its feet and power.

Again the percussion is incredible, it’s definitely a drummers record.

Videograms

This is the one song I wasn’t sure about when I first heard it, going against popular opinion. Reception has been really warm. I recall people singing along to it word for word at the Leeds Academy gig with Mogwai. I’m still not 100% sold on it, sorry! It does, however, make much more sense (soundwise) in context to the record. It was perhaps a bit too The Cure by numbers for me. I’m not the biggest Cure fan in all honesty, my tastes tend to lean towards heavier sounds. There’s a lack of the ‘wall of sound’ guitar noise that I adore so much (although there is a taster of it low in the mix and at the end), so I think that’s where my prejudice comes in. The thing is, I refuse to judge TTS albums or songs on one listen, they just don’t work like that. So I left this one on the back burner and I am now I’m warming to it. I think the main reason I adore TTS is the songs and the dense layers. There’s so much going on, you have to comeback for repeated listens. They reward the patient listener, the more you listen the more you love the music.

Summary

Eleven songs in 47 minutes, over four sides, it’s over a bit too fast after such a long wait, but I’ll be going back for a second helping in a bit. It’s a rich album of diverse sounds and perfectly compliments their incredible back catalogue, as always they are fearless when it comes to pushing their sound and I think it’s paid off. There are songs on here to keep everyone happy.

I must comment on the impressive package, I’m actually now debating buying the normal black vinyl edition to compliment it. This indies only version features a lovely pale blue colour swap to the pink/red colour tone of the standard version. A nice touch! Double gatefold with some heavy uppercase typeset lyric sheets on the inner cover, perfect for dissecting James Graham’s fascinating lyrics. This is is what to expect when you sign to Rock Action, they make immaculate releases, crafted for the music lover and collector. They’ve done a sterling job on this!

This record must have some of the most accessible and instantly impressive songs in their history. That’s not to say they aren’t as densely layered or are easier on the ears, just through hard work and relentless touring TTS are at their unequivocal finest, they’ve masterfully evolved their sound with each record, fine-tuning and delivering constantly. There’s a linear progress that can be traced all the way back to their early recordings and this record feels like a culmination of that work.

The secret is out now. The time is right for world domination.

It Won/t Be Like This All The Time is out today (18th Jan 2019) on Rock Action Records

STEVE STRONG | Turbo Island | ALBUM REVIEW

STEVE STRONG | Turbo Island | ALBUM REVIEW

Steve Strong | Turbo Island | Album review

Review by: Graeme J. Baty

Steve-Strong Turbo-Island

Let’s get 2019 off to a Strong start, sorry had to! Joking aside the new feature-length album from Steve Strong is anything but weak. A tour de force of musical prowess and creativity. Highly accomplished, multi-instrumentalist Steve Strong releases his new album Turbo Island.

This might be the first review I’ve done based purely on reputation, I must admit I’ve not heard his music before. Hearing nothing but praise for his live performances and his record labels past history, I instantly said yes! For those (like me) who are unfamiliar; Steve is a one-man band, and although in Steve’s case that term is possibly a red herring. The term conjures images of a stereotypical gnarly bearded guitar and kickdrum situation, which is understating plethora of equipment Steve Strong nestles behind during his live performances.

Ten tracks of sublime mellow instrumental goodness. Lovely clean guitar tones reminiscent of Toe (the Japanese band) lend themselves to some nice early morning chill vibes. It’s been my morning commuting soundtrack, a delightful air of calm emanating from my iPod, while the world rushes around me.

I absolutely adore the song titles, Deline Cion, Life After Post Rock and Sensible Skeletons all bring a smile to this curmudgeons face. Intro track Gravel Gardner also amuses and proves to be a highlight of the album with some very accomplished percussion.

From the start, I’m fully engrossed. I’ve had the record on repeat for an most of the week. 2019 is shaping up to have some rather special records, Teeth of the Sea record actually fits quite nicely side by side and there’s certainly a cross over for audiences there.

Full credit to his creative process, the songs sound like full band compositions. The amount of coordination and dexterity to perform these pieces as a solo act is nothing short of miraculous. This is his second full-length album and is certainly his strongest release to date. Turbo Island is an album of overwhelming compositions and creativity. A math-rock masterpiece.

Out tomorrow (18th Jan 2019) on Durham based Sapien Records, home to many diverse and talented acts including our much loved We Are Knuckle Dragger and Shitwife (aka Big Lad). Out! Head over to his Bandcamp page for some rather awesome looking records

TEETH OF THE SEA | Wraith | ALBUM REVIEW

TEETH OF THE SEA | Wraith | ALBUM REVIEW

Teeth of the Sea | Wraith | Album review

Review by: Graeme J Baty

Teeth of the Sea | Wraith

A new Teeth of the Sea album is a tantalising prospect under normal circumstances. This time around they’re pushing their creativity and refusing to be stuck in any pigeonholes with new album ‘Wraith’. Wraith is the follow up to 2015’s Highly Deadly Black Tarantula album, which in itself is a high benchmark, I was curious to find out if they could match that masterpiece or if they’d branch out on a tangent.

Wraith finds Teeth of the Sea exploring brass instrumentation, as briefly flirted with on their previous recordings. This time as a core part of the sound and the compositions are quite remarkable. The muted trumpet on lead track Hiraeth sounds both sleazy and gorgeous, reminiscent of early Tom Waits records. As a result, they manage to sound like a filthy 65daysofstatic. The brass accompanies and often leads the songs, it’s brilliantly done.

Visitor is a densely layered song, building over 8 minutes and sounds reminiscent of their previous record. Track 8 the delightfully titled; ‘Our Love Can Destroy This Whole Fucking World’ has this lovely John Carpenter-esque keyboard motif which loops soothingly to a climax and is for me an album highlight. Gladiators Ready, which brings the album to a close is an unexpected oddball Josh Wink party piece. Just when you’re expecting a quiet winddown to the record they hit you with a sucker punch!

Nine songs in 47 minutes. It’s an album of restless talent and creativity. It expands their sound and complements their back catalogue. A delightful album with electronic and industrial aspects it conjures visions of a colossal soundscape, feeling like a soundtrack to an imaginary dystopian movie. Wraith proves a great step forward for the talented trio. It may prove a step too far for some fans of their earlier work, but that’s their loss.

Wraith is out on 22nd February 2019 on Rocket Records. If (like me) you’re a sucker for a nice physical release they have some stunning colour vinyl versions available via their Bandcamp page! Featuring some equally delightful photography/artwork.

Teeth of the Sea | Wraith

CASPAR BRÖTZMANN MASSAKER | The Tribe and Black Axis Reissues | ALBUM REVIEWS

CASPAR BRÖTZMANN MASSAKER | The Tribe and Black Axis Reissues | ALBUM REVIEWS

Caspar Brötzmann Massaker – The Tribe and Black Axis (2019 re-issues)

Review by: Graeme J Baty

I make an effort to check out everything that comes in, I love hearing new music, even if it’s stuff that I probably won’t like. On some occasions, something comes in and I’m left wondering why the hell have I not heard this before? Those moments are golden! The first two albums by Caspar Brötzmann Massaker arrived and that golden moment happened. This immediately stood out and sounded fantastic to my ears. A few days later I’ve had the albums on repeat for some time.

Southern Lord Recordings are adding to their hugely impressive catalogue with reissues of the first album; The Tribe 1987 and second album Black Axis 1989. Southern Lord seem incapable of releasing a duff record. So I decided to give this a shot. Certainly ahead of their time in the 80s, perhaps the time is finally right for CBM to find a wider audience.

Title track The Tribe brings with it Birthday Party/Grinderman type vibes and some admirably outrageous riffs. Grinderman style noise meets a more restrained and focused Sonic Youth SYR noise. There’s real live performance sound to the mix, played at the appropriate volume it sounds like you’re in the room with the band.

The guitar sound sits quite high up in the mix, eclipsing the vocals. Instrumental but never minimal, the guitar takes the lead role. It shouldn’t work but it does and it does really well on Blechton. Caspar’s vocals channel sounds not to dissimilar to John Cale in tone, delivering simple vocal lines perfectly executed to accompany the music, yet not overshadow it.

Primal chants of Massaker juxtapose the seemingly untamed guitar wail. Clocking in at over 9 minutes, it takes a primitive Krautrock like rhythm and pummels you with it for the entire duration. Unlike the standard Krautrock, it doesn’t subdue or bore you with endless repetition, I find myself on the edge of my seat for the entire song enthralled in the noise. Quite an exciting journey.

Black Axis sees the band move into more avant-garde direction. Songs elongate into Swans like compositions clocking in at up to 16 minutes. Hunter sounds like the sonic equivalent of an anxiety attack with its finger tapping drilling into your skull.

The albums are enthralling and sometimes challenging. The Tribe acts as the perfect soft landing introduction to the music of Caspar. The avant-garde approach ramping up for the follow-up album Black Axis which is a trend that continues into following work. Two remarkable albums from a band that deserve much greater recognition than they have experienced.

The reissues are out now on Southern Lord Recordings.

JON SPENCER | Spencer Sings The Hits | ALBUM REVIEW

JON SPENCER | Spencer Sings The Hits | ALBUM REVIEW

Jon Spencer | Spencer Sings The Hits | Album review

Review by: Graeme J Baty

Jon Spencer | Spencer Sings The Hits | Album review

The Blues Explosion man makes his thrilling solo debut. Spencer Sings the Hits is a good old rock ‘n’ roll record, more of an amalgamation of styles showcased in his other work and bands. It’s got that unmistakable Jon Spencer sound and certainly wouldn’t feel out of place in the JSBX back catalogue.

A big movie soundtrack placement has opened a lot of new ears to the #1 band. I’ve been a fan since I was 16 years old when I first heard the scuzzy slice of perfection that is ‘Wail’, I’m not sure where I heard it, probably on a John Peel show. They may never have hit it huge, too good and too punk to be a commercial act but their output and legacy is a marvellous back catalogue. But it’s great to see them getting some attention and the time is right for this record. A big UK tour with the Melvins will surely help bring the songs to a wider audience.

One of the great things about a Spencer related release is the uncertainty of what you’ll hear. He’s a creative soul who could make banging on cardboard boxes sound utterly amazing, his impeccable showmanship ensures live shows are fantastic and I can proudly say Jon Spencer Blues Explosion is one of the best live bands I have ever seen, the Pixies used to hold that title (in my mind, there’s not an actual award for that I’m afraid). Got that instantly recognisable Spencer guitar tone.

‘Fake’ finds him commenting on the current climate of social media overload and overwhelming negativity of an overly hypercritical Trumpageddon world, that’s slowly crushing everyone. ‘Time 2 Be Bad’ is a standout track for me, with it’s Boss Hog groove and swagger. Spencer shouts “It’s a good time to be bad!”

‘Alien Humidity’ is another album highlight with its punk-blues vibe. The album closes on Cape. It’s a short record at 33 minutes, many albums these days feel bloated and padded to fill the sides but this is how rock ‘n’ roll should be, short, sweet and no bullshit. 12 magnificent songs that are a very welcome addition to my Spencer collection. I firmly believe this album ranks up there with the best of his work.

I really want to see Spencer in a Cape on the upcoming tour. I was already excited to see JS with the Melvins but on hearing this record, having a few days to digest it and replay it multiple times, I think I am now REALLY excited to hear these new songs in a live setting, as he boldly states He Got The Hits!

Spencer Sings The Hits is out on 2nd November 2018 on the perfect home for his music; garage rock haven In The Red Records.

EMMA RUTH RUNDLE | On Dark Horses | Album reaction

EMMA RUTH RUNDLE | On Dark Horses | Album reaction

Emma Ruth Rundle | On Dark Horses | Album reaction

Emma Ruth Rundle is set to release her fourth and possibly finest release to date On Dark Horses on 14th September 2018. It’s a densely rich, layered aural experience and is further evidence that Sargent House can do no wrong!

The press release that accompanies the album reveals that the album was conceived in late 2017/early 2018. Engineered and produced by Kevin Ratterman at La La Land studios in Louisville, Kentucky in just ten days. It is quite a remarkable feat of work in such a short time frame. It’s an album of superbly crafted songs, further highlighting Rundle’s evolution as a talented songwriter, as showcased on Marked for Death and hinted at in her previous recordings. 

On Dark Horses makes for a perfect for Sunday morning soundtrack. I’m sat writing this, whilst drinking a coffee in a busy city on a cloudy Sunday morning, watching the world go by as I indulge in the sounds on my headphones. It’s quite a calming and soothing experience. Shoppers are rushing around me, as I sit here in a world of my own escaping in the dreamy sounds of Darkhorse.

Light Song is undoubtedly an album highlight for me. The lyrics really speak to me and my own battle with inner demons this year, wading and struggling through life. Guest Jay Jayle perfectly compliments the vocals providing a nice contrast and balance to the track with his deep tones. I just adore the reverb-drenched guitar on this track.

You Don’t Have To Cry closes the album with a beautiful crescendo that reminds me of Low, building and building on the same motif. 8 songs done in 43 minutes, seems too short and I’m left craving for more. However, I feel that is a good thing. It encourages me to put it on again and it’s an album that rewards with multiple plays. You really need to take time to digest the arrangements and subtleties. It certainly will appeal to fans of Chelsea Wolfe, albeit in a restrained and perfectly subdued fashion.

Emma is touring the UK in November including a show in Newcastle on the 7th November at the intimate Cluny 2 which is the perfect setting for her. As an added bit of good news Jaye Jayle is also opening on the tour!

RAT THE MAGNIFICENT | The Body As Pleasure | Album reaction

RAT THE MAGNIFICENT | The Body As Pleasure | Album reaction

Rat the Magnificent | The Body As Pleasure | Album reaction

First in a new series of reviews; I play the debut LP from Rat the Magnificent and give you my off the cuff reaction track by track! I’ve only heard one song (Olon) before venturing into this review and I really liked what I heard. So let’s give it a whirl!

Some background info I’ve been given; “The band is made up of members of Family Manderson, Sunshine Republic, KLLR, Hot Sauce Pony, Modern Men and Brenda. The trio’s cacophony of beguiling yet unnerving fuzz-laced experimental noise rock has earned the group a reputation as a must-see live act, having played with the likes of McLusky, IDLES and Adam Betts. Not least, they have also previously recorded with Steve Albini earning the rare would-be plaudits of “I’d have no problem with you being my house band.” Now with an EP and several singles to their name, Rat The Magnificent are set to release their debut LP, ‘The Body As Pleasure’. A collection of 10-tracks that fully encompass the raw, unhinged energy and dark melodic sensibilities that have garnered them much acclaim in the past.”

1) In The Middle. A single note riff with pleasing slow bend opens the album with a brilliant filthy bass tone providing a solid groove. Okay, already I’m really digging this, this is something special! The vocals fit nicely into the mix, cutting their way through the sludge. Halfway through first track and I’m blown away. This is ace. I was lulled into a false sense of simplicity, they take simple motifs on such an exhilarating intense journey. Superb opener leaving me quite excited to hear the rest I’m resisting going back and playing this song again, I must march on. What a start!

2). Marrtalon hits with a Krautrock doom style groove to it, big fat simple bass. Less is more! I think I could listen to that bass tone all day, so good! A minute and a half into it and big drone chords strike in as the track builds in tension and drama. 

3). Up the Street brings a big old blues riff that wouldn’t be out of place on an Oblivians album!. My head is bobbing along to this one, this is great then along comes a killer grunge-esque anti-guitar solo!

4). Where You Been Approaching the halfway point and this album is still throwing up surprises. Here’s a great little scuzzy mid-paced number. 

5). The For is a massive Curveball! A cheeky unexpected synth opens track 5; Taking the album into breather mode. The track builds into a high drama ballad and a huge wall of sound rattles my speaker monitors with shoegaze guitar. There’s a great use of dynamics on this record, the sound pulling and pummeling me in all directions.

6). The Parlour opens the second half of the album. Bringing in a lush jangly sound, leaving me full of anticipation, where is this going?! A lush fuzzy Arpeggio guitar awaits, which is trippy as hell. “When I am king, I’ll hide the corpses at your door” lyrics gives me a distinct Radiohead feel 

7). Olon brings another deep plodding baseline which hooks you into their world. It’s instantly enjoyable yet shows their unique character in the sound and bluesy undertones and Billy Corgan angst.

8). Ilsflat follows on in the same vein as Olon with a slab of spaced out Lift to Experience blues.

9). The vocals take on an almost Kate Bush tone for The Inevitable. They’ve found their groove for this side of the record, less sprawling and diverse but confident and engaging. 

10). Panarron closes the album. A beautiful and unexpected little piano-based lullaby type piece. Giving big Sparklehose and Tom Waits tinkling vibes.

It’s all over much too soon for my liking. An incredibly diverse record, packed with brilliant ideas and songs. The album was recorded over a 3 year period and it really shows. It’s a marvellous piece of work and that effort truly shines through. It’s a record where I am a bit perplexed and slightly overwhelmed, hence I’ve made lost of comparisons. It’s quite difficult to put into words from just one listen. This record demands to be played multiple times and I fully intend to do so!

For a trio their sound is impeccably balanced, they make the most of the sonic space, everything fits just right, with well-defined bass, solid drums and the vocals fit just right, sounding like a more aggressive but melodic Alec Ounsworth.

I NEED to see these live. The album is a treat for the ears from start to finish. In a sea of indie dredge, it’s refreshing to get something original and important.

Excuse me while I go play this one again! It’s quite the album. 10 songs of brilliance and varying styles. There’s sense of creatively and defiantly refusing to be pigeonholed. It’s a whole album of curveballs, just when you think you’d got them sussed they throw another style in. To put it bluntly, it’s bloody magnificent! 

Grave Lines | Fed Into the Nihilist Engine | REVIEW

Grave Lines | Fed Into the Nihilist Engine | REVIEW

Grave Lines – Fed Into the Nihilist Engine – Album review

Review by Neil Ainger

While handing over my money for a cassette copy of the bands debut full length Welcome to Nothing earlier this year, I told bass player Matt at their merch table that as long as the first track they played that night (in January at The Cluny, Newcastle with Black Moth) was on the new album that I’d be buying that too. I was enamoured with the near 15-minute album opener Failed Skin from the very first gentle notes that were played that night and it is just as astounding on the record. It is an absolute whirlwind of gentle, almost gothic rock that builds into blistering. stinging sludge. Its beauty really lies in the vocals of Jake Harding, which are as powerful as they are haunting.

It is very difficult to pin this album down with labels, whether it be doom metal or sludge but of course this is no bad thing. Fed Into the Nihilist Engine stands on its own merits, of which there are countless. The album is driven by skilled and expansive guitar work such as the rugged riffs evident on Silent Salt, the psychedelic and chaotic noise on The Greae or the gentler acoustics of Shame Retreat. Julia Owens’ drumming is a key, precise constant throughout and serves as the backbone of the record and the vocals, simply put, may just turn out to be the most elaborate, alluring and potent vocals heard on any metal record this year. At times warm and lenient and at times guttural and jarring, Harding excels where so many others fail. He is distinguished, he is original and he squeezes every last drop of desired emotion from every wretched note and from every tormented lyric.

The record is sludge metal on a grander, Amenra-style scale. It is intelligent doom metal that is measured and never repetitive. It is dark neo-folk that probes at the most dismal of human emotions. It is bleak and misanthropic, it is cloaked in misery and yet it allows for brief but frequent moments of gleaming light. There can be beauty in darkness too, if you choose to look for it.