Saturday, March 12, 2011

amGod - "Dreamcatcher" 2xCD

This veteran German group returns from the 90s with a new double-album full of retro-electro industrial aggression. Packed with pulsing sequences, gurgling glass distorted vox, and drums machines set to "crunch", amGod's sound is reminiscent of Front Line Assembly or Skinny Puppy, though not as complex. Enjoyable, but pretty generic when placed alongside their better-known peers like Wumpscut or Leather Strip. (Alfa Matrix)


Der Blutharsch - "The Pleasures Received In Pain" CD

The third album (originally released in 1999) from this Austrian artist explores more folk-oriented melodies and electronics, rather than their usual heavy-handed post-industrial military marching sounds. Tracks like "V" begin as elegant melodies before erupting into martial drumming and chanted vocals. Akin to In Slaughter Natives, but with more finesse, Der Blutharsch adds a distinctly European classical/historical element to their often bombastic and always percussive sounds.

"VI" is a mysteriously elegant and contemplative piece, and "VII" is a driving 3 minutes of electronic drums, choral samples, pulsing sequences, and obscure vocals. "The Pleasures Received In Pain" flows as a sort of singular piece, effortlessly conjuring visuals of dramatic wartime tensions and dark, maybe occult inspirations. Fans of Death In June will be more than satiated by this moody set of tunes packed with strident, militaristic declarations and ancient Germanic inspirations. (Tesco Distribution)

Der Blutharsch site

Friday, March 11, 2011

Ministry And Co-Conspirators - "Undercover" CD

Once upon a time, Ministry was a force to be reckoned with. They helped pave the way for bands like Nine Inch Nails and KMFDM's later successes. Now? "Undercover" is a pretty pale shadow of that. Led solely by Al Jourgensen, this album is packed with insipid and soulless covers. Metal and rock staples like "Iron Man", "Purple Haze", "Thunderstruck", and even Amy Winehouse's "Rehab" are slaughtered. Ugh. Sad. (13th Planet/Cleopatra), the finest and most comprehensive Ministry site on the planet

The Atlas Moth - "The One Amongst The Weed Fields" digital EP

Featuring 4 classic rock songs re-imagined by Chicago doom-weirdie-metal act Atlas Moth, this digital-only EP is a stopgap, proving that these guys have both a freaky sense of humor and the chops to drop thick, sludgy riffs among their low-and-slow doom metal.
The immortal "California Dreamin'" opens, and though the song is recognizable, it seems little more than a joke. Ironic interpretation. I get it.
The EP's finest moment, Pink Floyd's "Fearless", follows. This one eschews the silliness and goes for a seriously gargantuan riff and pummel. Absolutely killer.
Failure's "Golden" is another strong track of spacious drone-metal that works well.
Finally, the Doors' Five To One" is a lysergically-driven slice of psyche-metal that's all-but-unrecogizable, and really pretty unnecessary. This one's hit-and-miss, so proceed with caution! (Candlelight/Tanglade)

Atlas Mothspace

Cruachan - "Blood On The Black Robe" album

Straight outta Dublin. Yes, this veteran Irish pagan metal act takes cues from their native country's folk music alongside more modern metal sounds. "I Am Warrior" sounds like Carcass' Jeff Walker fronting a Celtic folk act, but "The Column" is a superb and intense Irish-infused slice of near-black metal. "Thy Kingdom Gone" further shows that these guys have the chops -- a feverish assault of thrashy speed metal that easily holds its own. "The Voyage Of Bran" is a true example of Celtic metal, forging medieval melodies with driving guitars and drums. But, I'm not convinced on every track, though. When they're "on", Cruachan destroy. But some of the ornate medieval melodies sound downright silly when juxtaposed with the band's often-crushing riffs. Can't commit here, sorry. (Candlelight Records)


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Philip Selway - "Familial"

Solo album from Radiohead member who's not Thom Yorke or Jonny Greenwood. Drummer Selway proves his songwriting worth with a superb album of mature and folksy pop tunes. I get a little Beatles, a little Pink Floyd. Young God recording artist Lisa Germano and members of Wilco are present, as well, so you know this is an honest and tuneful set of songs. Good stuff! (Nonesuch)

Philip Selway's site

Radiohead Dead Air

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Radiohead - "The King Of Limbs"

I could expand on this album and do a full-on, in-depth review. But you already know whether you'll be picking this one up or downloading it. Right? So let's dispense with the formalities, shall we? Suffice to say, Radiohead don't disappoint with this brief (8-song, 38-minute) album. It's a laid-back, spacious affair overall, without any certain standout "pop" hits necessarily. Electronic, ambient, organic, psychedelic,'s all there. Yorke and company are in fine form. (self-released)

Radiohead's official "King Of Limbs" order site

Dead Air Space