Old Album Reviews (2012)

Reviews from albums released in 2012.

Howl And Filth – Generation Of Vipers

As the album’s name suggests, ‘Howl And Filth’ is an indulgence in angry metal/hardcore music. The 2011 album by the band delves deep into the unpleasant side of artistic and creative music, offering up an incredibly visceral and dark album experience. Slightly more experimental than other bands working within the genre, Generation of Vipers create small sounds that start off quiet and build up into mad crashing crescendos of heavy guitar riffs and loud angry vocals. It is quintessentially metal music at the core of everything, but there’s something creative about the music being offered by Generation of Vipers, who don’t seem to be afraid of trying out different ideas and techniques, making ‘Howl And Filth’ a fairly strong album.

In many ways, ‘Howl And Filth’ doesn’t vary all that much from the typical metal album, but there’s still something creative being offered by the band, which is more than can be said about most bands (not just in the metal genre). Everything is of course angry and pissed off, with at times the lead vocalist screaming and howling admits the incredibly heavy guitar and bass riffs. Something about the pure and raw energy of the music draws you in and traps you within a cage of misery and self-loathing. To those who enjoy the metal genre, there’s certainly an incredibly enjoyable element to Generation of Viper’s music, whose raw passion comes across well in the music, presenting it in a strong way. There’s even a nice range on the album, as it seems to give a chance for varying experimental ideas, such as incorporating other instruments not normally seen in metal music. It keeps the whole album incredibly interesting and horrifically exciting.

The main problems with ‘Howl And Filth’ are the same as many problems bands have within the genre. Like many who have preceded them, and will most likely succeed them, Generation of Vipers fall into the trap of writing fairly repetitive music where each track sounds fairly similar in some way or another. Although there’s a few sections or moments in most of the songs that is different in some ways, it always seems to come back to the heavy pounding riffs and screaming vocals that sounds the same as every other song that tries it. There’s still something highly enjoyable about it all, as it allows one to just indulge in visceral emotions, but it’s still sad to see that there’s not a great deal of creativity within this particular musical idea.

Overall though, Generation of Vipers’ have certainly produced a strong and angry album, with ‘Howl And Filth’ managing to do most of what the band as initially intended. It’s an enjoyable and angry album that is most likely going to please fans in the metal genre, as it simply manages to tick most of the boxes of what is wanted in the genre. It is flawed by one or two little mishaps, but the overall album still comes across as strong. Certainly Generation of Vipers have a lot to offer the genre, and will most likely continue to do so with their subsequent albums. It will certainly be interesting to see if they can maintain that raw energy present in their current music.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Ritual
  • Silent Shroud
  • Slow Burn
  • The Misery Coil

Generation of Viper’s 2011 album ‘Howl And Filth’ is out now and can be purchased at: http://generationofvipers.bandcamp.com/album/howl-and-filth

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You Ruin Everything – Pigs

Loud, angry and perhaps pissed-off are some of the words that can be used to describe music by metal/hardcore band Pigs. Indulging in the use of screaming and indiscernible vocals, and loud, punchy instrumentals that descend into madness, Pigs offer their 2012 album aptly titled ‘You Ruin Everything’ featuring a pure indulgence in metal, hardcore and punk music. Everything on ‘You Ruin Everything’ sounds like the results of years of everything going wrong, and something (whatever it is) being, the last straw, resulting in an album that expresses being angry. There’s something appealing about Pigs music, that is certainly accessible to those who enjoy angry loud music, though it does remain within a somewhat inaccessible genre that seems to produce similar material over and over again.

‘You Ruin Everything’ is simply a mad album of mad material. Each song seems to feature the age-old format of loud and fast-paced guitars, very deep twanging bass notes and pacy drums that accompany the screaming vocals of the lead singer who sounds as though he’s trying to break his voice in half. It’s a format that seems to work for most bands, and is somehow very popular. In the case of Pigs, there is an incredibly appealing element to the music, which somehow draws the listener in, surrounding them in misery and anger as each track progresses to the next. It’s incredibly visceral at times, and certainly enjoyable to some degree, but there is an element that Pigs aren’t doing as much as other bands within the genre.

Although ‘You Ruin Everything’ works on a number of levels, it is perhaps a little less creative than other bands working within the genre. The main problem on the album is how each track seems to follow the exact same format, with a few sounding incredibly similar to each other, differing in no way what so ever. Considering how expressive the album is, perhaps Pigs could be doing more with their music, as some tracks certainly do stand out amongst others, suggesting that there is some brilliant creative force behind the music. Sadly, most of the songs don’t differ much from each other, making ‘You Ruin Everything’ a fairly flawed album.

Pig’s latest album ‘You Ruin Everything’ is one that is certainly expressive, and incredibly emotional in an angry sense. There’s enjoyable elements on the album, with interesting instrumentals accompanying the screaming straining vocals. It’s sad then that the album doesn’t really offer much else, as it is in some ways a rehashing of various other bands who also work within the genre. It seems that Pigs is essentially a band that have fallen within the average strain of screaming metal-punk music, who certainly manage to express rage in a strong way, but don’t manage to make their album stand out within the genre all that much.

Album Rating;

  • ★★★☆☆  3/5

Selected Songs:

  • Whitewash
  • Massive Operator Error
  • Small C Celebrity
  • At Least It’s An Ethos

Pig’s latest album ‘You Ruin Everything’ is out now and can be purchased at: http://solarflarerds.bandcamp.com/album/you-ruin-everything

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Shameless Winter – Daisy Chapman

The latest album by musician Daisy Chapman features a wonderful selection of delicately balanced tracks, all floating around the wonderful style of Chapman’s vocal talents. ‘Shameless Winter’ features Chapman offering beautiful melodies on the piano, supported by varying instruments and her own vocal style. The whole album offers up an incredibly haunting yet gorgeous listening experience that shows us the wonderful capabilities of Chapman’s talents. There’s some wonderful tracks on the album which simultaneously manage to soothe and haunt and the same time. ‘Shameless Winter’ comes across as a very well thought-out album, though a few tracks sadly let it down.

‘Shameless Winter’ seems to indulge in the more fragile elements of musical composition, not offering joyous tunes, but instead more haunting and bittersweet ideas. There’s a beautiful element to some of the songs, and some are certainly upbeat and bouncy, but for the most part, ‘Shameless Winter’ is a rather dark album. There’s some lovely diversity on the album, as the album offers a range of various tunes, ranging from the slightly upbeat tracks, to the very dark and quieter ones, and even one or two instrumentals. For the most part, it is all incredibly enjoyable, as Chapman’s vocal style presents each track in an incredibly strong way. Most elements on the album seem to work, with most tracks offering something that is good or strong.

The main faults in ‘Shameless Winter’ are in that Chapman seems to extend songs for a little bit longer than they really need. The first few tracks on the album present everything in an incredibly strong way, but then it falters as it reaches the middle, where the tracks drag on slightly, and don’t seem to be as engaging as the rest of the album. It’s a shame as the album’s opening songs suggest more to come, but then the rest of the album doesn’t follow suit, and it weakens the whole album overall. The album pick up as it reaches its closing, but it’s a shame considering how strong some of Chapman’ songs are on the album.

Daisy Chapman’s latest album though is a gorgeous album at the end of the day. It’s Chapman herself that (rather obviously) makes the album, as she has an incredible amount to offer as a vocalist. ‘Shameless Winter’ features Chapman showing an incredible range in vocal styles, making the whole album interesting and rewarding. It’s a fine album, with one or two faults, but overall very strong and enjoyable. There’s an incredible amount of talent present on the album, which features more than what the album’s first impressions suggest. Certainly Chapman has a lot to offer, and it would be wonderful to see what she can do in the future.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Shameless Winter
  • Better Me
  • The Gentleman In 13B
  • A Sinner Song

Daisy Chapman’s latest album ‘Shameless Winter’ is out now and can be purchased at: http://daisychapman.bandcamp.com/album/shameless-winter

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The Secret Life of Blue – Róisín O

The latest album by Irish musician and songwriter Róisín O offers an incredibly enjoyable pop/rock/folk experience, where beautiful vocals are accompanied by perfectly complimenting instrumentals. On ‘The Secret Life of Blue’, we see some incredibly strong elements working together to present a very enjoyable album experience. Conventional pop techniques combine with some rather unconventional techniques to create a very vibrant album full of enjoyable tracks. ‘The Secret Life of Blue’ is a highly enjoyable album that is only marred by one or two negative attributes that thankfully don’t drag the overall album down in any significant way.

On ‘The Secret Life of Blue’, much of the album’s enjoyment comes from the gorgeous and charming vocals of Róisín O herself. Róisín O offers an incredibly charming song-writing technique that evokes the likes of Joni Mitchell or Kate Bush. Róisín O simply lets her music do the talking for herself, where her own vocals simply soar amongst the incredibly strong instrumentals that have been produced for the album. It is a very strong debut effort and it certainly presents the many strengths Róisín O has as a song-writer and as a vocalist. What is lovely to see here is how Róisín O hasn’t gone down the cliched route of attempting to do everything by the textbook, and produced songs where her vocals go all over the place. Instead, Róisín O offers a much more fun, and at times very gentle experience, where she simply sings on every song.

The only limitations on ‘The Secret Life of Blue’ is in the album’s progression. The album starts off with an interesting track, but it is perhaps one of the more weaker tracks present on the album. Considering the first track should serve as an introduction to Róisín O, it seems that a more stronger track, though not necessarily the strongest, should take place at the beginning, over the one present at the moment. It means the album starts off to a somewhat clunky start, and it’s only when the track offers it’s best does everything start to make sense. The whole album manages to display enough strengths to compensate for the somewhat clunky start, though it does leave a rather sour note on the overall album.

Róisín O though has managed to produce a brilliant debut effort, where her own vocals are accompanied by incredible instrumentals. What is lovely to hear on the album is how nothing has been over-produced, where everything gets drowned out in over-production. Instead, Róisín O and her collaborators on the album have opted to only go for instrumentals, techniques and ideas that assist the songs, and elevate them to the best of their abilities. There’s some truly wonderful tracks on the album, where everything just seems to work. It’s a fine debut effort with very few negative attributes. It’s a wonderful start to this incredibly promising Irish musician, who clearly has an enormous amount to offer.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Sycnhronicity
  • How Long
  • Tea Song
  • The Secret Life of Blue

Róisín O’s debut album ‘The Secret Life of Blue’ is out now and can be purchased at: http://roisino.com/the-secret-life-of-blue-out-now/

 

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Somewhere Down The Road EP – Ilias

Ilias’s debut EP ‘Somewhere Down The Road’, released last year back in May, shows us a taster of the gentle style Ilias is establishing in his music. Comprised of four somewhat short tracks, there is simply a lovely element of songwriting present on this EP, showing off very well the talents that Ilias has as a musician and song-writer. The EP is fairly down-tempo, but it is relaxing, and is simply a nice listening experience. It certainly has a lot to offer as well, with it showing off the capabilities of Ilias in fine form. It is in that respect a perfect EP release, as it simply makes the listener yearn for more, and thus gives them anticipation for Ilias’s future releases.

‘Somewhere Down The Road’ has a gorgeous simplicity about itself. It is evident that it is musically anything but simplistic, but it has a simple quality about it that forms a main part of the appeal. It’s style draws the listener in, with the gentle acoustic riffs being accompanied by Ilias’ wonderful vocal style. It is well written and well composed music, with everything on the EP sounding brilliant and having its place. It seems Ilias on his debut EP release hasn’t allowed over-production to ruin the sound of his EP, with Ilias simply letting the gentle use of acoustic and electric guitars build up the layers. There’s nothing on the EP that sounds bad, which makes it a wonderful taster of what Ilias has to offer.

There’s essentially nothing wrong with this EP release. It is short, but EPs are meant to be at the end of the day, and the purpose I see in them is to simply show a little bit of an artist or band, and hopefully engage with the listener to the extent where they’ll be interested in hearing more. ‘Somewhere Down The Road’ does this perfectly, and should certainly make people want to hear more from the artist. It’s well written, with well composed instrumentals that play a very important part on the EP. Combined with Ilias’ brilliant falsetto vocals, it is simply a wonderful EP release with a lot to offer.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • My Girl With Blue Eyes
  • Regret
  • Better Off
  • Somewhere Down The Road

Ilias’ debut EP ‘Somewhere Down The Road’, and his debut album ‘Somewhere In Time’ is out now, and can both be purchased at his bandcamp page at: http://ilias.bandcamp.com/album/somewhere-down-the-road or http://ilias.bandcamp.com/album/somewhere-in-time

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Wonder Way – Gerald Krampl

The latest album by Gerald Krampl, released back in 2012, draws influences from many modern classical composers such as Ludovico Einaudi, Nils Frahm and Ólafur Arnalds. Krampl’s music can easily be seen as coming from the same train of thought as many of Einaudi’s compositions, which feature gentle piano melodies, sometimes accompanied by beautiful violin strings. The result on Krampl’s latest album is for the most part, a fairly harrowing musical experience, which is sometimes punctuated by moments of sheer beauty. It is a fine modern-classical album, that fans of musicians like Einaudi, Frahm or Arnalds would be sure to enjoy.

‘Wonder Way’ seems to focus mostly on the relationship of the piano and the violin, which accompany each other for nearly the whole album. There isn’t much else in terms of instrumentals, except for a surprising use of guitar in one of the last songs. It is an interesting musical experience, as the music pretty much talks for itself. Each track paints a new picture through the melodies, which the only clues for their identities is in the names that Krampl has given his compositions. Some tracks are startlingly lovely, whilst others are beautiful harrowing. The tracks all offer up their own range of emotions, which is the essence of what the music is meant to do really.

There are many strengths to ‘Wonder Way’, and whilst Krampl is clearly an accomplished musician and composer, I find that he is slightly let down by the true lack of variety on the album. For the most part, the tracks on the album are very interesting, and all conjure up their own different emotions. I find though that some of the tracks seem just a little too similar to each other, which (for when it happens) slightly lets down the album. This isn’t true for the whole album, but I find it is one point that lets down the album just that little bit. It is thankfully, not enough to let down the overall quality of the album, which remains as a truly beautiful album.

Overall though, ‘Wonder Way’ is a wonderful album that contains a lovely range of emotions. It is a fantastic album to just play and shut off, letting the music wash over you and bring up their emotions. The compositions on the album sound easily as though they could have come from any kind of movie, (much like most of the music produced within the genre). I find comparisons to other modern-classical musicians easy to make, with the music of Nils Frahm sounding like one of the most important influences for the album. Overall, Krampl has composed some truly beautiful images, and produced an album that he can surely be proud of.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • On A Rainy Monday
  • A Winter’s Tale
  • A Walk In The Park
  • Come Sun, Come Rain
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¡Tré! – Green Day

Green Day are back, despite never leaving, and now we have the final instalment in the ¡Uno!, ¡Dos!, ¡Tré! trilogy. So what does this album have to offer? Surely it departs from the fast-tempo mixture of guitar chords, bass and drums, right? Of course not. ¡Tré! is simply more of what has preceded it.  Same formulaic songs once again. The exact same bloody style that began with ¡Uno!, that didn’t change on ¡Dos! and has refused to change on ¡Tré!. It just makes me wonder what is the point of these albums?

The problem I have with this whole trilogy is that it seems that any half-arsed idea Green Day had for a song made it onto any one of the three albums. It basically leaves you with a collection of around 7 or so good songs split up onto three albums and separated by an enormous amount of filler material. These kinds of songs don’t amount to anything, and just makes me think, why are these on an album in the first place? Surely bands want to write the best songs that compliment each other, right? It just seems that Green Day thought they’d just do the easy thing, and not actually get down and try write some great material. I’ve said it before, that Green Day are perfectly capable of writing some great songs, and they have done so in the past. When people think of Green Day, there are some songs that come to mind as being some of their best, like ‘Holiday’, or ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams.’ Even ‘Basket Case’ from Dookie is a great song by Green Day. But on these three albums, it just feels like none of the songs stand out to the calibre that some of their previous works have done. Sure enough, the music could be enjoyed by some people, but it isn’t great material. Even after listening to all three albums, I am finding it impossible to think of any songs from any of the three albums that stand out as great pieces of work. They’re all uninspired and lacklustre in my opinion. Just crashing chords and bass and not a lot else…

I have little more to say on this subject. My overall opinion of the trilogy of albums is that it’s not worth it. Sure enough, some fans must be overjoyed that they’re not getting one Green Day album, but three Green Day albums. But I know, I’d have much preferred one Green Day album with 10 or so really thought out songs, that have had a lot of effort thrown into them, rather than having three albums in moderately quick succession that just have whatever garbage the trio could come up with. It’s harsh, but it’s my opinion on the matter, and I can only hope that Green Day will get their arses in gear and write something they know they can be proud of.

Album Rating:

  • ★★☆☆☆  2/5

Selected Songs:

  • Drama Queen
  • Walk Away
  • 99 Revolutions
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An Omen E.P. – How To Destroy Angels

The second release by Trent Reznor’s other band departs somewhat from the first release, which was a self-titled EP released back in 2010. Considering the inactivity of Reznor’s main band Nine Inch Nails, (and the effort he’d been putting into the various soundtracks he’s worked on), it was a surprise to see a release by Reznor. How To Destroy Angels, when they first began, was an interesting band, featuring Reznor’s long-time collaborators Atticus Ross and Rob Sheridan, and Reznor’s wife Mariqueen Maandig. The music was somewhat different from what we’re used to from Reznor, straying away from what could be described as Industrial Metal, and instead opting for a more Dark Ambient style.

I find this EP to be much more preferable to the previous self-titled EP. There’s a much more developed sound to the music on this EP, and it’s improved greatly from their first effort. It’s interesting, cause the music on this EP feels slightly more sparse than that on their previous. There’s more ambience and drum loops that occupy the various tracks. It just feels more complete than the first EP, and thus highly preferable. Even the vocals sound better, with Maandig seeming to find her comfort in her own style. It’s a definite improvement from their previous EP, which I couldn’t help but feel gave me a mixed reaction. As much as I enjoy Reznor’s music, I found the EP to just not be as enjoyable as his efforts with Nine Inch Nails. It was certainly interesting, and it wasn’t that the music was bad. What I mean to say is that it didn’t hit me in the same way that his previous albums have done. Even Reznor’s soundtrack albums were met by a positive reaction from myself. But the first How To Destroy Angels’ EP just didn’t really work for me. It is more than likely that I just didn’t get it. And perhaps now I am starting to get what this whole project is all about.

Overall, I am quite impressed by this new EP. For me, it serves as a better introduction to the type of music we can expect from How To Destroy Angels, and it is also a much easier to listen to album. It certainly gives me anticipation as to what the full studio album release, (Welcome Oblivion, set for release in March this year). An Omen E.P. serves as a great taster of what is to come by this side-project, and considering the inventiveness and sheer talent that not only Reznor, but all those he works with possess, it is likely that the full album will be another masterpiece.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Keep It Together
  • The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters
  • The Loop Closes
  • Speaking In Tongues

 

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Lux – Brian Eno

The latest album by Brian Eno has him returning to the style which began so brilliant with his first ambient album ‘Ambient 1: Music For Airports’. Anyone familiar with this particular style of Eno will know it usually involves long tracks featuring ambient drones that either build up or fade away. It is a style that Eno has perfected over the years, (though that being said, it was perfect when he began it in the first place).

The overall tone of  ‘Lux’ feels much different to Eno’s earlier work. The album consists of four songs, all of which range around the 20-minute mark. The thing I find with ambient music is that it requires the listener to just sit back, and allow the music to just wash over them. ‘Lux’ is perfect for this, as the music is almost gentle in tone, with each sound being incredibly relaxing, and almost dreamlike. The image it conjures up for me is almost expressed in it’s album artwork, of just walking through a park in a beautiful Autumn day, or perhaps even just staring out of one’s window and watching the whole world go by. It’s a relaxing image, and one that is consistent throughout the whole album, which differentiates it from Eno’s previous ambient works, which are sometimes much more darker in tone.

It’s a challenging album though, as it doesn’t really reward the attentive listener. Everything is placed in the background, with nothing truly ever occupying the foreground at any point. As the sounds slowly evolve and change, it still remains in the background, which for an album like this actually works, but I can’t help but feel that it could be more preferable if there was something in the music to reward the listeners. However, this is almost irrelevant, as with this album being an ambient installation, (I believe it was used in art galleries), the main focus isn’t meant to be the music, and instead it is designed to occupy the background whilst your main attention is on something else.

I feel Eno has done himself well with this album. It is perfect to listen to when you just want something on that will affect your mood, but almost without you ever having to pay too much attention too. It’s a great ambient album, although I’ll say right now that it won’t become one of my personal favourites. What’s to come of Eno next is anybody’s guess now, but I sure do hope that another ambient work is in store.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • The flow of the album makes it difficult/impossible to select any of the songs as standing out. Or at least it does for me…
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Black Music – Dark Horses

‘Black Music’ is the début album by the new upcoming band Dark Horses. This upcoming band seems to have come literally out of nowhere, which is surprising as ‘Black Music’ is a fairly strong album. Fronted by Lisa Elle, Dark Horses is a band with a lot to offer, sounding vaguely like what would happen if PJ Harvey ever got together with Kasabian. As the title suggests, the music on this album covers a very dark range of different styles and themes, which works well for this upcoming band.

There’s a nice balance on this album, going from sort of rock-based tracks to electronic dance-type tracks, and sometimes both at the same time. It’s a good style, and the band has worked it very well to compliment Lisa Elle’s voice. Lisa’s vocal style is almost on the subtle edge in a weird way. She doesn’t go for the airy breathless vocals that is dominating the charts today, which for me is something that is great to finally hear. Musically, the instrumentation in each song reminds me sort of what Kasabian are doing nowadays, with guitar riffs that are sometimes accompanied by almost surreal synths.  I find it interesting that comparisons could be made with Kasabian, as there is a song on this album featuring Kasabian’s lead vocalist Tom Meighan. The track “Count Me In” is a rather mellow track, that slowly builds up, and features a rather echoed style of singing from Tom Meighan. It works really well and really helps elevate the whole album as a whole. The inclusion of Meighan on the album doesn’t overshadow the talent that the whole band has, and instead he just accompanies the song, and makes it work.

I think that there’s a lot of strengths on this album. My favourite elements are when the songs favour the more rock-style of music than the more experimental and electronica style. It just feels that there’s more strength in these styles of songs, and they have more going for them than the other type of songs. It just works on the album, and I know that I’d like to hear a lot more of that style in the coming future from this band. It may also be fair to say that this album isn’t a perfect début album. Whilst strong, there’s a few problems that Dark Horses could iron out. But on the whole, there’s a lot of strengths here which does the band a lot of favours, and will really help elevate their status in the music industry.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Rose
  • Alone
  • Count Me In
  • Sanningen On Dig
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