Review Roundup: Mogwai/Belzebong/The United Sons of Toil

Mogwai
Earth Division EP

Rock Action

2011 has been a prolific year for Mogwai, releasing their 7th album ‘Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will’, and a spate of EPs, including this one. This latest release leans much more towards the atmospheric end of post-rock – rock used loosely in this instance, as this is largely piano and electronic driven. First impressions may get a bit of chin-stroking going, but it opens upon further listening.
It plays out a little like a mini movie-soundtrack, ‘Get To France’ being a simple piano melody to introduce proceedings, leading into ‘Hounds of Winter’, which provides the solitary vocal, and a hushed one at that. From then on its closer to what Mogwai have been producing recently, as ‘Drunk and Crazy’ starts with plenty of noisy electronic effects and later layers in the strings, as though it’s the setting for a climactic finish, while closer ‘Does This Always Happen?’ is more atypical, implementing a lone, sombre guitar with another classical flourish atop it.
While this doesn’t rock like some of the Glaswegians’ other work, the experimental approach still pays dividends and this is still no less impressive. ‘Earth Division’ is at times haunting, and completely exquisite and beautiful as sum of its parts. Mogwai will never die, but you will.
Belzebong
Sonic Scapes & Weedy Grooves
 Self-released
Poland is famous for its raft of punishing extreme metal bands (Vader, Decapitated, Behemoth to name a few), but isn’t very well known at all for reefer worship within musical circles. Belzebong are aiming to change all that with their debut album ‘Sonic Scapes & Weedy Grooves’. This Polish quartet are, as the title suggests, highly influenced by the likes of Electric Wizard, Bongzilla, Sourvein, et al, and ‘Sonic Scapes & Weedy Grooves’ possesses four tracks of leaf-induced stonerdom that won’t disappoint fans of the genre.
The riffs are there from the word go, and the crisp heavy tone blends well with the groove they quickly show. It’s not quite as strong as any of their forefathers, perhaps even a little bit derivative, but it’s no less a compelling listen through a series of instrumental jams, broken up only by B-movie samples, and each filled with solid, chunky, heavy riffs, the strongest track being the closing ‘Acid Funeral’. A self-released effort, this is intoxicating stuff in one form or another, and worth a look at only $5 equivalent on the band’s Bandcamp page.
 
The United Sons of Toil
When The Revolution Comes, Everything Will Be Beautiful
Phratry
The Bush administration may be gone, but there’s still plenty of ire left with scores of Americans at their policies, their legacy and furthermore, the mire the country seems to be in today. And regardless of whether you think politics belong in music, the United Sons of Toil vent their anger in a far more genuine way than the majority of bands who jumped on the Rock Against Bush bandwagon, crafting here an album of dissident math/noise rock reading like a manifesto appealing to the misled and the downtrodden. Indeed, it’s a concept album about ‘an oppressed and hopeless people’ who ‘pushed to the brink…resort to violence’, and the album’s liner notes further detail the album’s concept and the band’s blue-collar, pro-radical idealogy.
When The Revolution Comes…’ slowly comes to life but songs like ‘ILO Convention 169’ and ‘The Concept of the Urban Guerilla’ read the riot act with appropriate discord. It harks back to the nineties when bands like Shellac and The Jesus Lizard were doing the hollering, only here the speeches and angry and despondant, the music chock full of angular riffs and tight turns. It’s three guys at the very top of their game and if you like your heavy rock mixed and stewed with carefully focused and nurtured antipathy, then this might be for you – though be prepared to digest that ideology.

Peter Clegg
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