New Sounds

Things have been a little hectic around the bunker for a couple of weeks or so. It seems like as soon as we fix one thing another breaks, and it’s been extremely difficult for either the Captain or myself to get it take care of our normal duties of sifting the data streams for new forms of entertainment. Too, there have been a lot of apocalyptic signs lately: plagues of locusts and frogs which have really played hell with the bunker’s ventilator systems. The Captain was gone all week trying to set up a deal for supplies with some of the itinerant traders who wander the wastes in this region, but it seems to have come to nothing and he was seriously mooting the idea of detonating one of the tactical nukes that we have set up out there just to punish them for their stubbornness. Ah Captain, you are always a thousand laughs.

Anyway, here are some of the things that we have been checking out in our rare moments of rest hereabouts.

When I first heard the name Seeds in Barren Fields, I assumed they must be some kind of emo/screamo band. They are not. In fact, a lot of what you need to know about them can be communicated by the fact that they hail from Gothenburg. Sounding the Siren Song in Vain, their first full length, is loaded with both the compelling melodies and heavy guitar work for which that particular locality is well known. This is not to say that they are simply another imitator of At the Gates (although frankly I would be cool with that). No, a better reference point would be Gothenburg’s Sacrilege (or Sacrilege GBG as they now style themselves). SIBF are more stripped down than Sacrilege, but the melodies that suffuse their songs would not be out of place on The Fifth Season. They tend toward mid- and slower-tempo material with lots of double bass to keep the sound thick. Occasionally they get into blast beat territory, but that is mostly a flash for the sake of keeping the arrangements varied. SIBF are dark and angry, and apparently politically with it as well, although this last assessment is merely based on hearsay. Siren Song was released last year. Since then, they’ve released a split “single” with Marnost from the Czech Republic. I put single in quotes because the songs involved are 13 and 16 minutes long respectively. I am curious about this. More info will be forthcoming when I get my hands on a copy.

Tol Eressëa are from Toulouse. First of all, they get points from me for the Tolkein reference, all the more since it is a particularly obscure one (dig out your copy of The Silmarilion for clarification). We reviewed a couple of other French bands a couple of months back (Birds in a Row and Calvaiire to be precise) and it seemed to us that there was a quite interesting dark grind scene going on there. Tol Eressëa don’t quite fit into that mold. Des Fleurs De Pierre Au Coeur Du Mal, which they self-released last year is really more of hardcore than metal. Their music has crusty elements, but also some really compelling melodies and elements of straight hardcore. They do a good job of generating atmosphere with their slower material, counterpointing this well with faster passages, dripping with minor key melodic overlays. Their songs have a lot of variety, but at 29 minutes this is a disc that leaves the listener wanting more (which is not a bad thing I suppose).

And now for something completely different. After seeing ads all over the internet for the band Primate, I finally decided to pungle up the cash and give Draw Back a Stump a listen. Primate is a sort of supergroup, featuring Bill Kelliher from Mastodon and Kevin Sharpe from Brutal Truth. I have to admit being a bit dubious for several reasons. First and foremost, I’ve never been a huge fan of Mastodon and everything after Brutal Truth’s first LP kind of left me cold. Second, these sorts of things tend to leave me a bit cold. Ok, the Venemous Concept CD wasn’t bad, but by and large I find that bands that don’t develop organically tend to lack a certain degree of imagination. So what’s the verdict on Primate? Well, I’d be lying if I denied that at found it entertaining. For those looking for sounds along the lines of the source bands, you will be disappointed. This project walks the line between kind of groove metal and hardcore. The playing is flawless, the licks pristine. The expanded version (I don’t know about the original) includes a cover of Black Flag’s “Drinking and Driving”. For me, this cover sums up a lot about this record. It is played with a certain degree of aggression, but it loses some of that herky-jerky quality that Greg Ginn’s guitar playing lent Black Flag even in their later period. This s not to say that Draw Back a Stump is a bad record. I’ve listened to it a fair few times and I still find myself moved to the occasional head bob or foot tap. I think that my problem with it is that they people involved can play much more challenging music than this, so it’s a little jarring when they don’t. In any case, I still recommend it.

Well, that’s us for the moment. I’ll be back later in the week with some demo reviews just to keep things varied.

Magadh

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