Reviews Round Up Ugly Music for Ugly People King Goat Sorxe

The Ghost Cult album round-up is back in town for your vulgar delectation, with our penultimate selection of 2017 taking you down amongst the silt, with a selection of Sludge, Doom and post-Metal antidotes to any festive cheeriness that may be unsettling your disgusted souls…

Boring, predictable and King Goat should only belong in a sentence together when a shit writer is attempting a ham-fisted intro in an attempt to throw you off track at the start of a review, for Conduit (Aural) is anything but. A re-release accompanied by bonus tracks from EP’s past of their self-released début, this is a winding, twisted vaudevillian spectacle that could nominally be called doom, but with tendrils and tentacles that swarm around psych, stoner and just plain off-kilter; the Goat operate in a similar sphere to Earls of Mars and OHHMS but delight in stretching and developing things to excess. With a flair for the dramatic, in particular the captivating, compulsive and convulsive vocals of lead raconteur Trim who espouses a nod or ten to Messiah Marcolin (I guess if a King is going to look up to someone, it has to be someone divine…), the whole offering feels like a dark play is being unfurled through riffage and the warped views of five musicians. Matters all culminate in a dynamic centre-piece title track that touches on theatre and the evil, before an ostentatious build climaxes in a rousing classic metal riff being drawn out and beaten down. A rare release that is both instantly gratifying yet attaches itself tighter, limpet-like, with each subsequent listen. All hail the King, all hail the Goat. [8.0]

On Black Somnia (scry), Eye of Nix set out their stall early, with jarring yelps riling over a cautious brood of blackened chords, before hysteria sets in and the drums convulse as ‘Wound and Scar’ lets us know we’re in for a harrowing, uncomfortable time of things, as it deliberately fails to settle into even one type of aural torture. Harsh, unsettling and, at all times, abrasive, this sits at a point too glacial for Sludge, too disjointed for Black Metal, too melodic for Noise, yet too artistic and challenging for the listener ever to feel at ease, all while openly flaunting capabilities across these disparate styles. Eye of Nix are also adept at breaking up the discordance with jangly grim folk that is also designed to disarm with Joy Von Spain’s vocals switching to dark operatics. Quite whether their brand of coarse and confrontational music is for you may depend on whether you can handle the other side of Von Spain’s schizophrenia, as she dissolves into squawks and howls – by no means the most extreme of her kind, but when she opts for harsh the tone just jabs at you, annoying, like a pinprick to the auditory cortex. All in, Black Somnia is an irritant; which isn’t always a bad thing, and regularly uncomfortable, such as ‘A Curse’ and its unhinged mid-section. Not for the faint of heart, neither is this a fully immersive nor (im)perfect horror. [6.0]

Underground Stoner/Doom merchants Enhailer have come up with something a little different with Dumb Enough To Care (Blackseed)… a single eighteen minute track EP that saunters in, playfully flicking a melodic lick over a crushing churn before allowing things to hit hypnotic roil. A slab of head-nodding riffage ushers in the main body of the first half of the track, which tails off into a sample to bridge the gap to part two. It’s at this point, eight minutes or so deep, that the attention begins to wander, as the break is a touch non-descript, before matters proceed into stock Doom filler territory and the slow-moving wheels are in danger of wobbling off. But what’s that coming over the hill? Is it a monster?! Agh… not quite, it’s just a decent sub-Sabbath riff or two to take us home. Dumb Enough To Care is good in places, but as a finished whole doesn’t really do all that much after a promising start. [5.5]

Even in a style of music where a vocal, either screaming, bellowing, crooning or singing, is never the main focal point, Hawkmoth prove just how important having a voice can be to doomy post-metal on Godless Summit (Black Bow). You see, you sometimes don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone as their instrumentals, as well-crafted as they are – and there is nothing wrong with the music whatsoever – lack that core something to tie them together and really make an impact. A strong roar would really bring out the peaks and troughs that Hawkmoth so nearly create. Yet, an instrumental band is what they are, and to tell them to do otherwise is probably doing them a disservice, but to these ears, the churning soundscapes are unfulfilled. [6.0]

Black Metal multi-instrumentalist Maikan, under the guise of his Circle of Salt project, understands the requirements for the dynamic impression of a vocal, however, as after five minutes of contemplative and considered building, Suffer The Cold (Avantgarde) explodes into a fury of blasting drums and raging guitars all enhanced and led by some unworldly shrieks. With awareness enough of when to vary and when to change the tone of both riffing, with the guitars taking on a more old-school attack, and voice, Maikan adopting a more ferocious roar when required, when to hit Burzumic trance, when to hit a Dissection melody, when to drop things down to a tremolo picked guitar over a rung-out backing, and when to unleash (un)holy hell, this blast of cold, harsh Black Metal of the aggressive variety with splashes of Cascadian influence (an influence particularly realized in the unveiling of ‘Beneath The Frozen Moon of Imbolc’), plays out well over the length of the two twenty-minute tracks. [7.0]

Operation Darkthrone is in full effect in Lyon, France, as battle lords of Black Metal Neige Morte come out blast-beats a blazing on Trinnt (Division), having declared an intent to create raw and dirty Black Metal. Sticking to the tried and trusted sounds-like-its-been-recorded-on-a-Fisher-Price-cassette-recorder sound, there is something compelling about the discordant nekro-ness being vomited forth. And don’t confuse this for a messy, can’t play won’t play offering, these protagonists know what they’re doing and possess the requisite motor skills and ability to play their instruments, utilizing an ingrained knowledge of stunted Apocalyptic Raids riffs to meld together something twisted and dire. Comprising two lengthier, elaborated compositions and two shorter, spikier tracks, Trinnt is something of a throwback and a tribute to yesteryear, as is often the wont of the blackened metallicus, but has all the requisite love and understanding of the unrefined points of the genre to work while it’s blustering along at full pace. In addition, mixed in with the battery are some Mayhemic darker unravellings that stir things up quite abhorrently indeed. [6.0]

An interesting approach to pitch two bands who, seemingly, have little musically in common, but in sharing an ode or two in a tribute to winter, to the extended twilight of the Devil’s Night To All Souls (Medusa Crush), two Swedish shamen unite on this split EP. First up is a new project from an old hand: Blissful Stream is Martin Sällström (formerly of Pest) doing epic Bathory meets jangling 80’s Death Rock, his abrasive vocals straining over dark chord sequences, as the two styles fit well together on ‘Fallen From Grace’. Things seem a little cheesier on the stripped back 4/4 shuffle of ‘Dead of Night’, while ‘A Vision From Below’ adds a discordant Western feel. Meanwhile, like dawn following the long night, over on the Lightsabres half of the split, John Strömshed (Tunga Möln) brings desert tones to the mix. Although ‘Blues From The End Of A Rope’ feels like it finishes almost before it gets up and running, it’s a stompy little number, ‘Anyone’ is a bluesy, fuzzy lumbering track with Kyuss overtones to its understated chorus, while ‘Darkness On My Trail’ wears a Danzigian hue on its steady husk. [6.0]

Benefiting from sitting themselves down and taking this being in a band lark a whole lot more seriously these days following the addition of impressive sticksman Jason Schryver, with The Fourth Seal (Black Bow) Pale Horseman have turned in an impressive, predominantly midtempo, sludgy album, with a heavy order of Doom, akin to if Crowbar and My Dying Bride gave birth to a side project that was fronted by Steve Von Til and Scott Kelly and hailed from the American South rather than than Northern England. With steady progressions to their midlength odes, the next step is to add more flair and dynamics to the head-nodding riffage, but Pale Horseman are well positioned to start establishing themselves. [6.5]

While it is definitely fair to say that Neurosis has also played a part in the sonic upbringing of talented Pheonix quartet Sorxe, don’t expect Matter & Void (Prosthetic) to be a post-Metal by numbers affair, this is a gravelly and emotionally investable album, with a thick pummelling production that gives a gravelly crunch to the pounding guitars. While there are plenty of serrated auditory punches to the opener, second track ‘Distraction Party’ has a cool indie grunge melody playing against the crashing and crushing, adding a Helmet shaped refining to the barrage and force, before ‘Never To See’ changes pace and tack… a brooding construction that doesn’t outstay its welcome, adding a sense of foreboding, pulling the album dynamic in taut, flipping the tone of the album spiralling downwards to the bleak ‘Black Water’, a lumbering eight minute behemoth of a throbbing, anguished metal ache, before ‘The Endless Chasm’ integrates a glacial Black Metal feel to its hulking menace to close out an impressive offering. [7.0]

Ending on the most melodic, but by no means easy listening, proposition in tonight’s mixed bag of cats is the progressive Doom epics of StoneBirds and their second full length, the self-released Time. A fulfilling and encompassing journey, wrapping its arms and legs intrinsically around murky post-metal sensibilities and structures, Time is quintessentially a passage through expansive, intriguing unhurried missives. Subtle soprano female vocals and samples fugue in and out and weave into the lengthy compositions, but at the core, this is a heavy progressive band capable of engaging across drawn out passages, helped along by Fanch’s down-tuned grooved riffs that back up his earnest throaty vocals, and while not averse to looking for a hook, ultimately playing the role of storyteller, and facilitator. The lead character here is clearly, and rightly, the music, and two-thirds of the way into the album we’re treated to a double hit of ‘Shutter II’ followed by ‘Animals’, a combined sixteen minutes of pay-off as StoneBirds visit the rhythmic lurches of Gojira if they were shorn of thrash metal urgency, the lilting atmosphere of post-Rock and open seas of rolling, lurching stoner riffs… if that all sounds a bit disparate, just trust that it’s woven together in a tapestry of story-telling and cohesiveness in the hands of these most adept Gallic creators. [7.5]

STEVE TOVEY

Source: Ghost Cult Magazine