Saturday, July 3, 2010

Mono - "Holy Ground: NYC Live With The Wordless Music Orchestra" CD/DVD

Among their post-rock brethren, Japanese loud-soft rockers Mono are perhaps the most disciplined and symphonic of all. Their devastatingly intense live shows are consistently among the very best concerts I've ever seen, and it seems I'm not alone in that sentiment. So, joining up with a full orchestra to perform for 2 consecutive nights in New York doesn't seem much of a stretch for this band.

Building with the string section in the opener, "Ashes In The Snow", Mono and the Wordless Music Orchestra lead into the swarming crescendos of "Burial At Sea", as the band rides a cascade of swirling noise and bombastic percussion. "Pure As Snow" is epic -- with mop-haired guitarist Taka Goto kicking over his chair and attacking his guitar and effects boxes with reckless abandon. My favorite, "Halcyon (Beautiful Days)" is as beautiful and majestic as it gets, with the orchestra enhancing the band's gorgeous melodies and crushing finale.

Mono's strength lies in their mastery of juxtaposing gentle, soft guitar lullabies with powerful waves of amped-up noise. Their music is simultaneously energetic, lilting, monolithic, gentle, cathartic, peaceful, savage, and sorrowful...yet it always finishes with unquestionable hopefulness and humble humanity. "Holy Ground" is possibly the group at it's pinnacle. Mixing by Matt Bayles (Mastodon, Isis, Soundgarden) brings the live experience up to par with the studio recordings, while the DVD is a no-frills (but multi-camera) affair that more accurately represents the live experience than their 2007 tour documentary, "The Sky Remains The Same As Ever". "Holy Ground: NYC Live" is a splendid package, and priced more than reasonably. It's a must-see for fans as well as those curious about Mono's blindingly evocative and gorgeous experimental rock. (Temporary Residence)

Mono's website

Thursday, July 1, 2010

East Of The Wall - "Ressentiment" CD

Couldn't get into this one, being all prog-metalcore with the requisite dual lung-shred vs. melodic vocals. To the band's credit, there are some really intense and technically-impressive passages here, mixing math-rock and hardcore, with almost jazzy precision. Instrumentally, EOTW are powerful and intense, and for that, I give them props. However, the lighter breakdowns remind me somehow of lame shite like P.O.D., though, and that's just not a good thing. It's those vocals, really. "Fleshmaker", for example, mixes the harsh/soft vox and displays the band's potent chops, but it all seems forced somehow. Like they're trying too much to cram it all into one song. Don't get me wrong, I adore beauty and melody as much as I require thorny aggression, but EOTW's collision of sounds and moods aren't fluid nor subtle to these ears. And the vocal stylings are stereotypical and just plain awful. No, thanks. Ditch the singing and you've got a superb album next time! (Translation Loss)

East Of The Wall site

East Of The Wallspace

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

D.I.S. - "Critical Failure" CD

Solid and punchy aggro punk-metal from some scene veterans, the debut from D.I.S. delivers 10 hard and heavy gems on this brief 10-song, 26-minute assault. There are definitely signposts of genre-mashing here -- the urgency and raw, declarative vocals of hardcore, and the metallic guitar chug of Swedish "D-beat". Tracks like "Extend This Misery" are just crushing beatdowns, with pile-driving fists flying across the dirty club. "Bleed Forward" is punk on 'roid-rage, ending the melee with blood and shards of bone.
Most hardcore (as in NYHC) bores me with it's meathead jock mentality, but these guys synthesize it well with darker metal here. The lightning tempos don't step down, so the album's brevity is a strength. And, the production here is top-notch, capturing the band with crisp highs and punchy lows (didn't get any album credits, sorry, so I can't congratulate the producer). Smashes the shit out of most of their metalcore brethren. Unquestionably. (Deep Six Records)


Locusta - "Locusta" CD

This American act's full-length debut is a clean and precise battering ram of prog-speed metal riffs, double-kick drumming, and wicked complexity, all wrapped up alongside belchy, gutteral death metal vocals. It's an appealing mix, harkening back to the older days of technical speed/death metal. There is some masterful guitarwork here, too, as the dual battery of Peter Hughes and Dru Silver gel together into a daunting beast of epic soloing and consistently crunchy rhythms. "Mutiny" shows a moment of melodicism before launching itself back into a maelstrom of melodic thrash, whereas "Death Or Devotion" chugs along at the velocity of a bullet, all the while sustaining a melodic precision with rapidfire progressive changes. "2012" is a chaotic blast, and "Dusk At The Mausoleum" is an atmospheric slowdown point, veering a bit into doom territory. The proggy-metal returns with "Into The Tomb" and "Vlad Tepes" before it all closes out with the title cut. Quite a strong showing from this Columbus, Ohio band, and one that should garner them a slew of new fans. (Pragmatic Records)