Gojira – L’Enfant Sauvage

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Gojira
L’Enfant Sauvage
Roadrunner

It feels like such a long time since Gojira released ‘The Way of All Flesh’, the 2009 album that cemented the French death-metallers reputation as true metal heavyweights following the monstrous ‘From Mars to Sirius’. Three years isn’t the longest between albums for any band – in fact it’s not unusual – but with Gojira it has felt like an eternity, with only the promise of the ‘Sea Shepherd’ EP for the charity of the same name still in the works, having been announced seemingly ages ago, and the live ‘The Flesh Alive’ DVD as something to tide Gojira fans the world over in anticipation of their new release. Then they signed to Roadrunner, things sped up a little and here we are, with their new album ‘L’Enfant Sauvage’.

The most noticeable difference between their latest work and their predecessors appears to be a shift towards vocal-driven harmonies rather than the bludgeoning riff patterns that we’ve become accustomed to setting their tone. ‘Liquid Fire’ is one example, released as a single for this album and it shows too, possessing a chorus that switches between gruff and clean spoken vocals. At times ‘L’Enfant Sauvage’ feels less dynamic that its predecessors, in the riff department at least – towards the end there’s an unfamiliar feeling of drag, particularly ‘The Fall’, by which time it really begins to feel like by-numbers metal. There’s still times when they deliver earth-shattering grooved aggression with their usual aplomb, such as on ‘The Axe’, which has one hell of a pulsating twin-pedal chugging groove that Gojira have become well known for, and the proverbial battering ram of ‘Planned Obsolescence’.

Gojira – Planned Obsolescence

Ultimately ‘L’Enfant Sauvage’ is a difficult one to surmise. Did I enjoy it? Mostly. Did it have some truly explosive sections where I wanted to go ape? Yes it did. Is it a letdown? Hmmm…considering how Gojira have been lorded since ‘From Mars to Sirius’ and ‘The Way of All Flesh’ dropped, you’d have to say yes. I don’t feel as though that, as good as some of the tracks are, there’s anything half as explosive as on previous albums. ‘The Way of All Flesh’ had marauding technical numbers like ‘Oroborus’, and the raw power of ‘All The Tears’ or ‘Adoration for None’. ‘From Mars to Sirius’ had ‘In The Wilderness’, ‘From the Sky’, to name a couple. Remember, for a death metal band, Gojira aren’t exactly about riff salad – and ‘L’Enfant Sauvage’ in particular features a lot of simple riffs that often threaten to blend into one big soufflé, but for some great shifts in tempo and verve from drummer Mario Duplantier.

If I had to choose between this record or any of Gojira’s previous works, I’d probably plump for one of the older records at least 90% of the time. That’s not to say it’s a bad record. Or that’s it’s necessarily their worst. ‘L’Enfant Sauvage’ is still a damn good metal album and better than a lot of what you’ll probably hear this year, but it isn’t immediate – it will take some of you a few listens to grow into it and indeed, some of you might well be doing similar chin-stroking to me when deciding how to sum up this album. Anticipation’s a bitch, isn’t it?

Peter Clegg

Buy ‘L’Enfant Sauvage’ here

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‘Remember Bane’ – ‘November Rain’ parodied, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’-style

All I can say is, whether or not you’re a Batman fan, or a Guns n’ Roses fan, and regardless of whether you’ve yet seen ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, this brilliant parody of GnR’s ‘November Rain’ tackles the perceived inaudibility of villain Bane’s speech in the new film, and muses on whether director Christopher Nolan could have chosen a villain a little more memorable. Whatever. Admittedly, I’m one of the very few left not to have seen Nolan’s take on Batman – hey, my time is taken up by so many things – and while it’s very much on my ‘to do’ list, it doesn’t prevent my enjoyment of this. Fantastic stuff, Overthinkingit.com!

(via MetalSucks)

Peter Clegg

Knife Crimes – Complete Discography

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Knife Crimes
Demo MMXII (Complete Discography)
Church of Fuck/Witch Hunter

How often is it that you hear of bands who commit one recording that gets the underground buzzing so much, only for said band to then return to dust? Like Siege? Punky Bruster? Minor Threat? Bands like those had something special about them to create a single album or recording of note that people still talk about those recordings many years after they were originally released, whether on a cult level (certainly in the case of Punky Bruster, a Devin Townsend side project) or on an altogether more influential platform.

It’s unlikely that Knife Crimes will ever achieve that level of notoriety or cult status, but even so, word was beginning to spread amongst the UK underground of their ‘Demo MMXII’ recording that was attracting plaudits and perhaps beginning to gather a little place when suddenly, the band split, and its more than likely that most of you will get into Knife Crimes, like me, too late, simply off the back of word of mouth reviews like this. It’s to Witch Hunter Records’ credit that they’ve put ‘Demo MMXII’ out as a CD release, boosting its tracklisting with the final two recordings from the band, and entitling it, a la Minor Threat fashion, ‘Complete Discography’.

Knife Crimes posted on their Tumblr account when announcing ‘Complete Discography’ the words ‘Thanks to the world for letting us down’. This statement rings true lyrically. The last song ever written and recorded by the band ‘World Past Saving’, opens ‘Complete Discography’, a defiant spit on man’s chokehold on the planet, and former B-side ‘Field of Flames’ is no less uncompromising. The tracks comprising ‘Demo MMXII’ make up the belly of the EP and are full-on smashers with demoralizing lyrics bleak as they come. ‘Cold Cross’ is particularly miserable hardcore, with the lyrics ‘Born into this world/Baptised in boiling water/disowned by the world/like lambs to the slaughter’ set against a thunderous twin pedal assault and guitars that even sound like they’re lamenting their own existence on this world. In Knife Crimes’ world, Jesus has a lot of explaining to do.

The three additional tracks aren’t half bad either. These are the final Knife Crimes recordings, do not disappoint, but in the knowledge of the band’s split, the closing track doesn’t half feel like the dying breaths of the band. The appropriately named ‘Death Hymn’ is a dark acoustic number with raging hardcore vocals over the top; an appropriately sorrowful trudge into the end. The final echo of the guitar is really as haunting as it gets. The conclusion of a short history. The end of the briefest of careers. Maybe if the world continues down its current path, this might well be the appropriate soundtrack. As it is, this happens to be one of the greatest statements of UK hardcore to date, which is all the more shame, despite respective members’ committing to future projects, that Knife Crimes are no more.

Peter Clegg

Buy/download ‘Complete Discography’ here (name-your-price)
Or here (CD)
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Gorod – A Perfect Absolution

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Gorod
A Perfect Absolution
Listenable

You might have thought by now that technical death metal had started to become the old whippersnapper whose best days were behind it, largely thanks to the swathe of Meshuggah clones who’ve pounded their own groove-laden, off-kilter route, an underground resurgence in old-school death metal and perhaps simply the failure of bands within the technical death metal sub-genre to really build on their previous successes. Yes, The Faceless*, Necrophagist – I am looking at you and pointing to my watch (*note: The Faceless have since confirmed a release date for their new album)

Yet despite that, its been proven that the weedly-weedly approach can still draw the punters, with Athiest returning strongly, and new bands such as Revocation and Spawn of Possession electrifying with their approaches to this niche. One such band I had reservations on were Gorod, who despite a boatload of hype upon their wider emergence a few years back didn’t really thrill me with their breakthrough fifth album ‘Process of a New Decline’, which at times really seemed to want to push how weedly-whoo one could get, over actual clever songwriting. Not that it was particularly bad – it certainly has its great moments, but not enough for it to really shine in comparison to the rest of their discography.

Gorod too, seemed to disappear off my radar for a little while, although they did come back with the ‘Transcendance’ EP last year, along with its sprawling 15-minute title track, before re-emerging with their sixth album, ‘A Perfect Absolution’. If anyone deserves a medal for most improved this year, then Gorod would certainly be contenders for the gold.

Known for their love of concepts, ‘A Perfect Absolution’ is based on Kiev in the year 945, “when Igor, King of Kiev, was murdered…while collecting a “tribute” while visiting his Pagan neighbours the Derevlians, who lived in a forest. After the incident, his widow, Olga, avenged him in an extremely harsh manner before converting to Orthodox Christianity“. Nice. Compared to ‘Process of a New Decline’, the song-writing appears to have gone up a notch, the songs sound a lot tighter, and the new members, Julien Deyres (vocals) and Nicolas Alberny (guitar) have bedded right in with the simplest of ease. No signs of any transitional problems whatsoever for their first album without previous members Guillaume and Arnaud. Key to this is the rediscovery of groove, and a refrained approach to the technical stuff. Instead of becoming a molten mass of wizardry, Gorod appear to have struck the right balance, ably to mix their usual flamboyance with catchy grooves and a much more precise attack.

Two key songs that sum up this improvement would be ‘5000 at the Funeral’, and ‘Varangian Paradise’, the former beginning with a piano-driven melody before getting right back into their usual swing. The chug is an overdone thing in metal, but its still one hell of a tool in priming for an assault, and Deyres’ low spoken growl at the beginning sits nicely atop it before they all really lower the boom. The latter is really the Bordeaux, France act’s supreme indulgence, kicking off with a massive stadium-sized riff that ought to have thousands, and not hundreds, pogoing in unison, before kicking back with some laid-back flamenco chords plucked directly from the schools of Athiest, Cynic and Latin America.

Overall, this is perhaps Gorod’s most diverse album to date, having sprung a move that I dare say will open them up to wider audiences, without shedding too much of their skill. They’ve created an album free completely free of filler and their urges to let the guitars have complete maraudering freedom have been pinned down and refined from a technical stew to a precise technical brew. And a concept album in 39 minutes! Wowzers. It seems there’s nothing Gorod won’t try out, and that’s what makes them all the more exciting. Let’s give them the attention they really deserve.

Peter Clegg

Buy ‘A Perfect Absolution’ here

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Municipal Waste/Toxic Holocaust – Toxic Waste

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Municipal Waste/Toxic Holocaust
Toxic Waste
Tankcrimes

I’ve been admittedly slow to actually go out and get Municipal Waste’s latest album, ‘The Fatal Feast’, despite having been quick to obtain their previous records upon release. I’m not sure why this is about from the lack of cash or even failure to check out any potential streams. And remember, I run this blog on a shoestring – I don’t even have Spotify – so I take what I can get. And unfortunately, I haven’t got ‘The Fatal Feast’. Contrastly, I did get Toxic Holocaust’s latest album ‘Conjure and Command’ and enjoyed it, though you guys wouldn’t know cos I didn’t get round to reviewing it.

All of the above be irrelevant now though, cos the two have teamed up for the most-excellently named ‘Toxic Waste’, each contributing two tracks delivered in non-too-surprising fashion. The ‘Waste go first, with ‘Trapped in the Sites’, a catchy anthem designed to get your thrash-skank on to, and ‘Mourning Sex’, which doesn’t take two guesses to guess what its about. This is the more frenetic of the two MW tracks, practically galloping from Witte’s twin pedal attack towards the end. Toxic Holocaust start off in party mood with ‘We Bring ‘Em Hell’, and the more typical bashing of ‘Altar-ed States’. Both bring the now requisite Toxic Holocaust snarl and crunch to the table, not bringing anything new but showing the desired step up in quality that has brought Joel Grind’s men this far, thus far.

Originally available on a coloured 7” vinyl, Tankcrimes kindly made the EP free to download, generating 6,900 downloads in its first 24 hours! It’s not too late to join the party, and you can stream ‘Toxic Waste’ below if you’re still not convinced.

Peter Clegg

Buy Toxic Waste’ here (12″ vinyl)
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(free download)
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The Fierce and the Dead – On VHS

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The Fierce and The Dead
On VHS

The Fierce and the Dead are a London quartet supplying instrumental post-rock. They made a small dent last year with their debut album ‘If It Carries on like This We’re Moving to Morecombe’, but have returned with the free-to-download ‘On VHS’, a four-track EP showcasing exactly the kind of work that has got people turning their heads towards the band.

This EP is something of a mixed bag, the unsettling and slightly repetitive ‘666…and 6’ opening proceedings before its’ second track, ‘Hawaii’, comes along; a marauding shredder compared to the usual plaintiff stylings familiar with most bands of their ilk, and it wouldn’t have sounded amiss as a soundtrack to the video games of yesteryear. It steps up a gear in the second half, the title track possessing a sweet bass riff that drives the song as though it’s a late-night jam on the beach, occasionally being interrupted by a trepidant melody backed up with possibly a swarm of bees as it glides in, eventually returning to its siesta by the shore. ‘On VHS’ last track ‘Part 3’ is an indelible post-rock crystal stamp, leading at first with a laidback brooding riff which eventually bulks up into a noddable groover.

The Fierce and the Dead aren’t the first post-rock band to emerge in all of history and while there are some interesting flashes of brilliance on display here, it’ll be a while before they truly stand out from the pack. But already they’re on the way, and there’s no reason not to suggest they can’t join the pantheon of instrumental rock. ‘On VHS’ is an enterprising work, one that becomes more enjoyable with each listen from its unsettling beginning to its smooth sojourn at the end, and the only way for these guys can surely be skywards?

Peter Clegg

Buy/download ‘On VHS’ here (CD/name-your-price download)
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Come on people – ‘Slide One Out for Kingsgate!’

The next phase in our campaign to stop the Kingsgate Shopping Expansion in Huddersfield is a side-running Campaign to Erect Kingsgate Water Slide Park!

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Yes, Kingsgate Phase 2 might well be on its knees for now because of Kirklees Council’s planning approval of the redevelopment of the iconic Palace Theatre in Huddersfield, which should ensure that Kingsgate owners W D Huddersfield can never build through it and thus not take out The Parish, the town’s premier alternative music venue, with it. Hopefully, that runs for several other properties in the surrounding area too, because who knows if Kingsgate 2 is gone for good?

While we wait for the next move from Peter Everest and co., we should inform you of a side-running campaign that perhaps originally began purely as spoof, through the form of two local news reports detailing plans to turn Kingsgate into Huddersfield’s premier venue for slip n’ slide action…

Look North – Huddersfield Kingsgate Water Park Development – 23.03.12
 

Look North – Kingsgate Swimming vs Shopping – 13.04.12

Thanks to those reports the campaign has even had backing from Kirklees Council’s Green Party Councillor for Newsome, Andrew Cooper. Now, the campaign has taken a new turn with the release of a campaign song.

‘Slide One Out for Kingsgate’ is a song dedicated to the dream of erecting a water slide park at Kingsgate Shopping Centre, in the hope that we can get this approved instead of more bland high street shops. The song is sung by local pop superstar Bona, featuring producer extraordinaire Hercalees Kelk and a triumphant solo from none other than Evile’s very own guitar king, Ol Drake!

The song is streaming below people, and now, more than ever, we need you to spread the word of this noble cause. It’ll bring a touch of diversity that Huddersfield’s town centre sorely needs, but more importantly, it’s a water slide park. So hit that play button below, and spread the word. Cos all we wanna do is slide! (Slide, slide, slide, slide…)

Peter Clegg

Bona feat. H. Kelk – Slide One Out for Kingsgate