11 Reviews (2 New)
A Dark and Scary Place
“The line between sanity and madness can be crossed in a single step.”
APF Records releases Dominion, the first full-length album by Death Metal/Punk band Video Nasties, on LP vinyl, CD, cassette and for digital download. The quintet hailing from Liverpool, Merseyside comprises Tommy Lloyd on guitar, Rick Owen on bass, Dave Archer on drums, Damian Von Talbot on vocals, and Stu Taylor on guitar – members of heavy exports such as Iron Witch, Magpyes, and The Bendal Interlude. The music is described as a mixture of Sepultura, Carcass and Entombed, with The Cure and The Cult. There is also the added element of the horror genre and in particular John Carpenter influences.
In the press release it mentions post punk, goth, rock, horror-metal, retro and all manner of other genres, but it would be more accurate to simplify it to metal, punk and rock riffs with soundtrack sound effects and voice-overs. I’m a huge enthusiast of John Carpenter’s films and soundtracks, so the very idea of paying tribute to the great man made me sit up and take notice – particularly when the 1980s influences were mentioned. However, if they’re there I can’t really detect them, although there is the simple but effective style of the music which, like Carpenter, hooks you in and builds atmosphere. There’s no ‘building’ here though, as the music of Video Nasties hits you round the head with a metaphorical hammer… in a really exciting way!
I’ve often mentioned that as I’ve got older my tastes have become heavier, with the prerequisite of energy and melody. Video Nasties could never be described as lacking either. There is a bell tolling and riff intro to 'Stay Gold', which incorporates a spooky horror voice-over with sound effects. This is a powerful guitar and drums-based song, which bursts from out of the blue like a demon poltergeist. The screamed vocals fit the horror packaging like a glove – one of Freddy Krueger’s gloves! This song doesn’t stick around, segueing into 'The Hanging Tree', a rocking, driving melody. With everything that is going on at the moment – around the world, and closer to home – this one immediately brought a smile to my face… and that’s worth its weight in gold.
'Helvetica' is a simple but heavy music riff. The vocals are more chorus for this one. Variation is the key as it has three sections but returns to its origins. 'Transvoltum' was the band’s first single, released back in 2017. It has melodic chords and riff, and a motoring heavy rock sound. 'Red of Night' has a rock intro, before breaking through into metal in a split second. It periodically returns to the rock melody but much more forcefully now. This switch back and forth works well. A nice clean vocal sequence too. 'Viva Deth' was the band’s second single, which also appeared on their 2018 album demo. This has a nicely put together acoustic intro with off-kilter sound effects. This one will drag you along for the ride with guitar and vocals complimenting each other. There’s a chunky verse and catchy chorus. It has almost symphonic-style guitar. A notable track. I can see why it was a single.
'Drone Eagle' is powerful and cleverly misleading in its direction, with a nice guitar break. If it’s not a contradiction in terms, this is feel good horror music. By the time we get to 'Stabbing Nightmare', the feeling is that some may consider this album ‘samey’ – but there are subtle differences. It’s very melodic, with changes in tempo and lots of horror inserts. 'Dominion' has quite an original buzzing, ringing intro, and the exclaimed quote, “He tried to kill me!” It’s accompanied by a keyboard sequence. Obviously, this works as a bridge or insert between tracks, which goes straight into… 'They Ride' concludes this offering; a full band effort incorporating screamed verses and a clean vocal chorus. There’s a twin guitar melody which isn’t too dissimilar to 1980s Iron Maiden. I like the way this returns to a guitar-only riff before breaking back in with a full brutal band assault. There is a nice driving guitar solo, too. The song ends to a repeated record-jumping voice over with accompanying organ: “Let the dead bury the dead.”
There are chunky chord mid-sections prevalent to many songs, as if utilised to get you used to the song before the next section – the thought possibly being that too much of an onslaught in one go might blow your mind. This album, in my eyes (or ears!), is pretty near perfect, with real zing, thrust and joy, regardless of the horror subject matter. So much so I might seek out the CD version for my collection (because I’m old-fashioned like that!).
(Review originally written by Ty Power for reviewgraveyard 2020)
Pelagic Records releases How Are We To Fight The Blight, by The Shaking Sensations. They are a Post-Rock/Alternative/Indie Instrumental band from Copenhagen, Denmark, comprising musicians Jens Sorensen on guitar, Mads Hantho on drums, Lasse Vansgaard on bass, Jeppe Nygaard Christensen on guitar, and Christian Wejs Sorensen additionally on drums. They have been active since 2005, but underwent a hiatus from 2013, during which time they worked on new concepts of lost innocence, reflection, and growth and maturity – in order to bring the band back to life.
There is a moderate full band intro with melody guitar and drums quite prominent. I like this opener, 'Twenty Amino Acid'; it’s atmospheric, if a little repetitive. Bass guitar gets the limelight in the middle section. Guitar and drums are added to the mix to take it back to how it started. 'Tremendous Efforts' has a trigger drum beat kicking this off, with the guitar sounding a little like Big Country, whilst the main theme returns to a melody which can’t help but remind you of Blondie’s 'Atomic'. At around the three-minute mark the pace and energy picks-up, this time reminiscent of a film score. 'The Frailness of Your Stem' has a steel guitar sound which rings in the foreground, while another guitar plays acoustic chords underneath. It soon changes to a nice repeated drum pattern and a slower pace which is quite melancholy. This builds in stature, heading back to the earlier sounds but with a difference. This would be a great soundtrack if used to accompany film of nature’s wrath (tidal waves, electrical storms, erupting volcanoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, etc). Someone try it! At ten minutes, there’s plenty of scope. It reminds me of the Pink Floyd of 1971 – the Live in Pompeii era.
'Manual Trauma' is a simple technical piece. It’s a meticulously paced beat with Big Country raising its metaphorical head again. These are basic rhythms which break and rise again. I would prefer them to vary the sound of the guitar. The tracks have a similar direction, but are enjoyable all the same. It works well as a backdrop to another activity, but not so well as a centerpiece. 'Sightings' has very similar chord sequences. This one is a little different in other respects, although it creates the same mental images as a soundtrack, and the same emotive atmosphere that sadly makes it lose its uniqueness. I do love the drum patterns though.
'End of Hope' consists merely of soundscapes until about the three-minute mark, when an actual tune enters the fray. The samey guitar sound is beginning to grate by now, and there are a couple of vocal ‘ah ahs’ in the background. I hoped that 'In Dead Silence' might possess more cadence, but it’s the same old shoes which by this time are practically worn out. 'Arcadia' is the closer, and it’s pick any one from eight. It’s a real shame because I thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere of the opener. The whole is a different story; it’s somewhat directionless, with neither drive or restraint – it just sort of rumbles along. I’m convinced that if this were an E.P. incorporating only two or three tracks (preferably including 'The Frailness of Your Stem'), I would be singing its praises right now, rather than accepting that this is average fair.
(Review originally written by Ty Power for reviewgraveyard 2019)
Black Lips is a Flower Punk or Garage Rock (depending on your point of view) band from Atlanta, comprising mainstays Cole Alexander and Jared Swilley, returning guitarist Jack Hines, and recent new additions Oakley Munson (on drums) and Zumi Roscow (on Saxophone). Satan’s Graffiti or God’s Art is the group’s ninth studio album. It is produced by Sean Lennon, son of John, and features guest locals on one track by Yoko Ono.
Scuzzy, Swampy Rockabilly is the closest I could get to this in terms of a description of music genres/crossovers. Black Lips have enjoyed many favourable reviews, but to be honest I found it to be a naval-searching cacophony of chaos. The problem is that the album quite simply can’t decide what to be. You might argue it makes for a more diverse collection of songs; however, the truth is it’s too extreme in its differences. For example, 'Occidental Front', and 'Can’t Hold On', have a weirdly Western (as in Spaghetti) sound going on – with a galloping background keeping it together. In fact, you can quite imagine these being used in a film. So, just when you think you have a handle of the overall theme, nothing else sounds even remotely similar.
Sometimes ambient noises and discordant twangs can aid the bridge between tracks. Here, it’s as if everything has been detuned… to the extent that the guitar has the effect it’s playing in another key entirely. The resultant mess, along with the ‘can’t be bothered/only just woken up’ – sounding vocals made the supposed disinterest rub-off on me. There is a song called 'We Know', which has a Rock-like opening riff; my ears pricked up at this point, but not for long. And then the rest of the album seems to degenerate into a Hill Billy half-hour.
Not for me. My verdict is it’s Satan’s Graffiti.
(Review originally written by Ty Power for reviewgraveyard 2017)
Metal Blade releases A Dawn to Fear, by Cult of Luna, weighing-in at no less that 79 minutes. They are a Post-Metal band from Sweden, comprising lead songwriter Johannes Persson on vocals and guitar, Gredrik Kihlberg on guitars and vocals, Kristian Karlsson on keyboard and vocals, Andreas Johansson on bass, Magnus Lindberg on drums, and Thomas Hedlund on drums and percussion. They were formed in 1998. This is their eighth full length album...
'The Silent Man' has a constant solid drum beat, and there’s a heavy but moderate bass sound. The vocals are growled and are mostly incoherent; perhaps they are a little low in the mix. The track has lighter and mystical moments. Generally, it’s a good start. A military beat with reverb guitar serves as an instrumental outro from about halfway through. The vocals re-join briefly at the end. 'Lay Your Head to Rest' encompasses another slow but heavy Doom sound, incorporating a nice repeating drum pattern. 'A Dawn to Fear' has something of the Spaghetti Western incidental music about it; soft and menacing. The vocal style invokes the vision of cult chants. A light keyboard touch introduces the return of the Western sounding guitar. This would work in a Robert Rodriguez movie. The whole thing is at a moderate pace. Much as I like growled vocals it does spoil the atmosphere here. This is one of best of the of the bunch.
'Nightwalkers' has an original start, which opens up a little two minutes in. I’m beginning to notice a pattern here: a Doom standard moderate pace with repeated sequences and slightly different segments which piece the whole together. This has a centrepiece with galloping drums that offer the illusion of a much faster rate. It reigns in at over ten minutes. Enjoyable non-distracting music. 'Lights on the Hill' introduces a four-note guitar sequence which is somewhat eerie. However, we have to wait three minutes for a semblance of life to be breathed into this track. The main theme is good enough, but at fifteen minutes in length it’s far too long and much too repetitive.
'We Feel the End' is more contemplative, with atmosphere and poignancy. There are no growled vocals; just melancholic clean sounds. This is very nice, if a little long again. 'Inland Rain' begins meditatively but with growled vocals. I love the floating feeling of this one. This album is really coming good late on. It reminds me of the concept album idea, which admittedly sometimes leaves me cold, but here you can relax to it with headphones or play as background music. I can’t imagine anyone leaping around down the front at a live gig; it just isn’t that sort of music. 'The Fall' wraps things up with a similar guitar sound as on 'A Dawn to Fear'. This is another mega track at over 13 minutes. It’s very nice in its riffs and soundscapes and, unlike a couple of the other lengthy examples, doesn’t outstay its welcome.
I think this album has a lot to offer, but is perhaps a little imbalanced. I believe if 'We Feel the End' had kicked off the proceedings, followed by 'Inland Rain', 'The Fall', and the title track of 'A Dawn to Fear' – then this would enable the listener to feel their way into the package. Nevertheless, a very solid release.
Svart Records releases Deathtrip’s Demon Solar Totem, the follow-up to their debut album, 2014’s Deep Drone Master. Deathtrip is a Black Metal band consisting of Kvohst on vocals (and lyrics), Host on guitar, Storm on drums, and Thomas Eriksen on bass. They have a theme of primeval possession and open portals to other dimensions, old-English occultism, sacred sound formulae, otherworld eeriness and spectral realms.
The title track has a nice paced riff intro, which is maintained at a moderate speed, with drums thrashing at twice the rate. They get together with the introduction of screamed vocals which calm after a while, so that the backing is infinitely more manic. Ironically, when the music is more controlled the vocals are throaty; so, they are in contrast… and it sort of works. I like the chanted pieces, which they really should have incorporated more freely. The vocals are a little clearer on 'Angel Fossils', so you ascertain more of the story behind the urgency. The band manages to maintain a frantic feeling that we are on the edge of armageddon, or the unearthing of something cataclysmic. They are doom-laden without being Doom Metal.
'Enter Spectral Realms' begins well (if you can describe the subject matter as ‘well’), but soon descends into a similar formula as the first track. Having said that, the echoed soundscapes do conjure pictures of untamed lands and undiscovered cultures. 'Surrender to a Higher Power' contains a central riff that drags you along for the ride. It is at this point that the album begins to find its feet. 'Vintage Telepathy' has a more moderate and brooding atmosphere, which works well with the sporadically materialising monastic chants. 'Abraxas Mirrors', after a tentative start, suddenly unleashes into a heavy allegro, accompanied by an unusual but melodic hook. This feels like a centrepiece. Nice.
We wrap-up with 'Awaiting a New Maker'. The riff sounds like the intro to 'Iron Man', by Black Sabbath (perhaps the greatest Black Metal band, before the term was even invented by Venom). Anyway, this track is more about creating an atmosphere – something this band excels at. A new closer for their live set, maybe.
I can appreciate what is being attempted with this release. The atmosphere and visions of other worlds inspired by the music is countered by the less than vibrant sound, wherein the vocals are too low in the mix, and the progress is somewhat directionless. I believe the mysticism should be brought more to the fore, because this is the album’s strength – and there isn’t nearly enough of it.
(Review originally written by Ty Power for reviewgraveyard 2019)
Train Records releases Model Citizen, by Hammerhands on limited edition vinyl with artwork by Justin Hunt, on Digipak CD (also with Hunt’s artwork), and for download. Hammerhands is a bleak and heavy band from Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. The four members comprise Colin Young on guitar and vocals, NJ Borreta also on guitar and vocals, Jon Galletly on drums and vocals, and Justin Hunt on bass. This is their fourth album, following on from 2013’s Glaciers, 2013’s covers EP 1995, and 2016’s Largo Forte. The full track listing is 'Pleasure Island', 'Maximum Beta', 'Do It Right', 'I’m Not Here', 'Too Many Rivers', 'Dad Sludge', 'That Awful Sound', 'Not In the Cards', and 'Bastard Jesus'...
Hammerhands could be described as Stoner/Noise Rock, Doom Metal, Fuzz/Trash, Alternative or Industrial Metal. I would describe them as all of those things and more. It’s definitely a cross-over in terms of genres and influences. This is also an album of two halves. Although solid and kicking a punch, as they say, I didn’t recognise any individualism until track 5. 'Too Many Rivers' has a drums, bass and keys slow melody, with vocals that follow it precisely. To all the world it sounds like it should be in a dark musical, and it’s that tinkling macabre feel which makes it special. The vocals become more gruff halfway through the song, and the guitar plays around the central theme. It’s a very nicely structured song; the pick of the bunch on offer here.
'That Awful Sound' is also well worth a listen. It has a nice soft guitar intro with a heavy back beat. For me, the vocals don’t seem to fit this at all, which is a shame because I like the slightly eerie melody followed by the heavy crashes for the chorus parts. The singer, however, sounds like a drunk, ranting preacher. Perhaps that was what he was going for Nevertheless, it’s a pretty good song which gets more frantic as it goes on, before using sound effects for the outro. The best song after 'Too Many Rivers' is 'Not In The Cards'. This is a very effective acoustic number, full of atmosphere and melody.
The band is very tight as a unit. Those two favourite tracks I’ve mentioned prove just how inventive Hammerhands can be within their chosen genre realm. However, I found the others a little mediocre.
(Review originally written by Ty Power for reviewgraveyard 2019)
Casu Marzu Records releases Lags’ sophomore album Soon on vinyl, CD, cassette and download, three years after their debut Pilot. Lags incorporates Antonio Canestri on guitar and vocals, Gianluca Lateana on guitar, Daniele De Carli on bass, and renowned athlete Andrew Howe on drums. The music is described as '90s post-hardcore and indie punk, with a punchier and more pro-active sound than their original. The theme is said to be honest and self-realising, delving into the uncertainty of life, suffering and the consequences of healing thereafter...
When 'Knives and Wounds' begins we are introduced to the album with a bass guitar riff and a nice drum pattern. The vocals come as quite a shock. They are harsh, stark and strangely tuneless (and that’s coming from a Metal fan who likes growled vocals). Conversely, the music is very melodic in a traditional rock manner.
The thing that strikes me about 'Echoes' is the mix. You can hear each instrument with equal clarity. The vocals are a little better but still not in touch with the whole. 'Showdown' is a simple but effective chord structure, with a repeated riff which grounds the song. Rock with elements of indie rawness; pop in structure. Any of these could be singles or YouTube clips.
With 'The Bait' the vocals are even more removed from the piece. It’s somewhat like Roger Waters, this one, making certain we know about the harsh realities of the world. In 'Magic Bullet' the vocals sound not so much punk-outspoken as a cry for help. 'Second Thoughts' showcases the excellent drums; throughout there are nice diverse drum patterns. The spoken vocals format works really well for 'What it Takes'. Probably one of the most enjoyable songs on offer here. This is undone again when the vocals grate in 'Acceptable'. 'I Still Remember' features another great drum pattern, with a linked instrumental break.
And now we get to 'Il Podista' (is this 'Showdown' again?). The difference here is that it’s sung in Italian. It sounds 100 times better. The vocals fit the music now. Perhaps they all should have been sung in their native language. This is a bonus song, but there’s no doubt it’s the best track by far. There is even a slight scream. The music is simple but fine across the whole album, let down only by the vocal style. The last track shows how strong the whole album could have been.
Exploding In Sound Records releases Green and Gray, Pile’s seventh album since their humble beginnings in 2007 – and their first since 2017’s A Hairshirt of Purpose. The band or, at least the singer – originate from Boston, USA, and are now based in Nashville. Pile comprises Rick Maguire on vocals, Kris Kuss on drums, Chappy Hull on guitar and Alex Molini on bass. The music is described as anything from Indie Rock to Post-Hardcore...
It’s nice when you come across a Rock or Metal band that is doing something radically different from the norm. The first thing which strikes me about Pile is their conscious effort to mix things up and not conform to standard chord patterns and direction. In my opinion, if a sound is too simplistic in style you are likely to become bored with it pretty quickly. Whereas, like here, if the structure is more inventive and intelligent you don’t get a handle on it straight away and are more likely to give it repeated plays.
This release incorporates so much variance it’s difficult to know where to start. So, how about at the front? The main man Rick Maguire’s voice is diverse, to say the least. Just when you think it is dull and mid-range, it suddenly turns on a sixpence becoming low and sorrowful, thick and powerful, or outright screamed vocals. The feel of the songs break boundaries by not only constantly changing the shape of the track but changing the music’s presence. At times, light, moody or melancholic, atmospheric, imposing or intrusive. It’s an original and exciting manner in which to keep your listening audience on their toes.
Right from the off, 'Firewood' begins like an underground psychedelic tune, which seems to switch between commercial hooks and Industrial Rock, light and shade keeping you off balance. The drumming impressed me, being both extremely solid and yet experimental. There is a nice off-beat pattern in 'Your Performance'. The overall timing and structure in this keeps it fresh. I simply love the fast-paced, almost Western theme to 'On a Bigger Screen'. The singer sounds much better when he goes-for-it, too. There is a slow and dreamy, somewhat off-kilter ending which gives it true atmosphere. In 'Other Moons', the vocals are pitched even higher. 'Hair' is more slow and moody, with plaintive vocals that are pitched even higher this time.
'A Labyrinth With No Centre' has a reflective semi-acoustic start which turns into a heavy, full band breakthrough. The shouted vocals sound even more exciting than the clean ones. 'The Soft Hands of Stephen Miller' has a sort of indignant talking over a back riff that suddenly comes to life. Both spoken and screamed vocals, with a heavy discordance and nice drum pattern. 'Lord of Calendars' showcases the light and dark flourishes; a commercial ballad sound is suddenly ripped apart with a heavy hammer guitar and drum beat. This one interestingly goes off on a tangent.
'Bruxist Grin' is an alternative moderate Pop-Rock offering, reminiscent of the Revolver or White Album period of The Beatles. 'A Bug on Its Back' could be a good choice as a single, with a nice returned-to riff and not too much deviation. 'My Employer' sets an old and retrospective background, slow, stylish and melancholy. An almost dreamy reality, if that isn’t a contradiction. This segues neatly into 'Hiding Places'. This and 'No Hands' are very similar in style, and so should probably have been split up on the album. It would also have been nice to have something with a bit more energy wrap-up this offering. But how can you complain about something as refreshing as this. It has the vitality of a keen amateur band knocking it out in the garage and annoying the neighbours, but with professionalism and inventiveness. A pleasant surprise.
(Review originally written by Ty Power for reviewgraveyard 2019)
APF Records releases Hailz, Pist’s third offering following the Riffology EP in 2014, and Rhythm and Booze in 2015. Pist, hailing from Bury in Lancaster, have previously been described as Stoner Doom – a label they disclaim and have positively moved away from with this outing. The current line-up is Dave Rowlands (vocals), John Nicholson (guitars), Mike Collins (Bass and backing vocals) and Andy Hunt (Drums). Pist have toured with the likes of Orange Goblin, Raging Speedhorn, and Napalm Death...
Whilst being an avid follower of Metal in several genres, Pist is a band I’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing. Consequentially, I come to this cold. The album has a serious theme exploring loss, after a friend of the band committed suicide. They describe their music as Heavy Metal Rock and Roll, which is an understandable way of keeping their options open. I would closer describe the style on this album as Gothic Melodic Black Metal. It was recorded with Chris Fielding, who also worked on the Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard release, Yn Ol I Annwn (which I reviewed earlier this year).
'Ex-Nihilo' begins with a low, gravelly riff, jumping in short order to a galloping pace. This track has three sections to it which completely segue together with no detectable join. There is a small amount of clean vocals, but most are screamed. It’s curious how some vocalists in this field seem to fit the music and themes, whereas others are so discordant and mismatched you wonder what they were even thinking. Here it works well. In places it makes me think of Children of Bodom without the symphonic element.
'Wreck' lays down the trademark solid riff. In this case it introduces the listener comfortably to the song, before adding more complicated and well-honed elements and quickening the pace – only to bring the layers right back to bass and drums. The time changes are well-handled. Again there are reminders of COB. 'Mind Rotter' has an acoustic introduction with a very nice drum pattern supporting it. A heavy riff breaks through. One part of this song sounds very much like early Black Sabbath. There are lots of time changes, and the ever-present guitar riff which bonds the whole. I like the way the drums follow the style and pace of the guitar in 'Fools Gave Chase', driving the song along. There is an introspective section at a much more subdued level. It’s very atmospheric and leads into the first guitar solo proper. Nicely done. When you think it’s fading out, the original frantic but melodic pace reasserts itself.
'If I Was You' is straight out of the Amon Amarth textbook. Alternate fast and moderate pace. It uses that band’s verse style, without conforming to the heavy melodic chorus lines. 'Strangle the Sun' offers another nice acoustic intro with clean vocals. A pagan style. A heavy band piece intrudes with great effect, before changing yet again to a galloping riff (Iron Maiden would be proud!). 'Skin Your God' incorporates an off melody riff for the opener, but this structure has been professionally mapped-out and links to the following parts nicely. Aside from the Metal screams late-on in the song, this is closer to Heavy Rock from the 1970s. A single, perhaps?
In conclusion, I would say this is a great release; much better than I was expecting, having not heard them before. For me Metal has to have energy and melody, and Hailz has it in spades.
(Review originally written by Ty Power for reviewgraveyard 2019)
TTWD Records releases The Body As Pleasure, by Rat The Magnificent, a home-grown trio from London. The band consists of Perry M. Anderson on guitar and vocals, Ross Davies on bass, and Anna Dodridge on Drums. They have previously released an E.P. and several singles. This is their debut full-length album. Guest musicians include Stephen Gilchrist, Jen Macro, and Ian Catskilkin.
The music of Rat The Magnificent (which, incidentally, is a great name) is described as Fuzz-laced Experimental Noise Rock – and I would say that is pretty accurate. The music even as the promotion admits – is an acquired taste. That is an understatement of monumental proportions. There are no catchy choruses, no hook melodies, and no riffs as such.
Influences include Jesus Lizard, Sally Bowles, Slint, Oxbow, Son House, Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine. Even as a rock and metal fan I am really only aware of some of the material of the last two. Whilst I wouldn’t agree that it is reminiscent of either of these bands, it does lend Rat The Magnificent a certain individuality. The track Listing is: 'In the Middle Touch', 'Marrtalon', 'Up the Street', 'Where You Been', 'The For', 'The Parlour', 'Olon', 'Ilsflat', 'The Inevitable', and 'Panarron'. The first is like a dreamy, slow 12-bar blues, with a fuzzy and overdriven and back to clean structured sound, which ends abruptly. Then, looking at my notes for the songs, I began to notice a recurrence of phrases: Heavy bass, detuned overdriven guitar, sleepy vocals, slow/lazy pace.
This is essentially where the problem lies. Being experimental is one thing, but sending the listener to sleep or into a boredom coma is quite another. In the majority of songs the singer either sounds drunk or as if he’s been forcibly awoken and made to utter some uninteresting words into a microphone so that he can go back to sleep. Lazy and slow is the order of the day for at least half of the material on offer here. The monotony is such that any change induces a little excitement. 'Up the Street' is the shortest and best track with a slightly more conventional format. 'The For' sounds like a jazzy night club song, and 'Olon' is suitably more up-tempo with good music, but the dreary vocals drag it back into the mire.
I really wanted to like this. However, after two listens I had to admit to myself it was unlikely to grow on me. I appreciate bands that attempt to do something a little different, but my main criteria is energy and melody and this has precious little of either. I wish them the best of luck in their career, but I’m afraid it’s not for me.
(Review originally written by Ty Power for reviewgraveyard 2018)
Black Pop Records releases the first full album from Punk/Garage band Wet Dreams. Originating from Oslo, in Norway, the band was formed by Sabastian Ulstad Olsen of the group Death By Unga Bunga (I’ve reviewed their last two albums - So Far, So Good, So Cool and Pineapple Pizza) when he found himself with some songs he required a different outlet for. This became an E.P. and has moved the band forward to this, their self-titled album. Wet Dreams consists of the aforementioned Sebastian Ulstad Olsen, Elmund Aadahl (ex-Warp Riders), Per-Richard Ottosen (ex-Warp Riders), and Bendik Petterson (ex FOAMMM). There are two singles from this release: 'Bad Boy', and 'Boogie' (if you put these two together you have an AC/DC song!). One of their first ever concerts was at Norway’s biggest festival in 2017. The following year they followed this with festivals in Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway. They are touring extensively in 2019.
Olsen will be the first to admit that Wet Dreams sounds a lot like his other band Death By Unga Bunga. The style can be described as Post Punk, Grunge, Power Pop, with touches of psychedelia. If I were to invoke any influences it would probably be the Ramones and Green Day. It’s amazing how the equalisation sound mix can change the whole feel of some bands. In this case, too much treble makes them sound messy and discordant. A Rock pre-setting is suitable, but heavy bass seems to suit them best.
The single 'Bad Boy' is a very basic two- or three-chord structure, but with power and melody. The 'Band Aid' track has absolutely nothing to do with the 1980s charity song. This is about never having a plaster when you cut yourself (“Somebody give me a band aid”). Simple, catchy and fun. 'Beautiful' is very much a Green Day-type of song; it is very short and sweet, probably the best of the bunch. 'Blues Lata' is moderate but heavy, with chorus effect vocals. 'Boogie' is the second single. It’s a sort of Punk version of a Boogie shuffle which works well, especially when it almost halts a couple of times before crashing back in again. It also contains the first proper guitar solo.
'Depression' is another short song; fast and furious. 'Her' returns to the moderate but heavy vibe. The vocals sound like they are played through a reverb unit. There is another guitar solo, and sound effects are introduced for the outro. 'I Told You / Drugs' is a song which reminds me of the style of Elastica on their brilliant first album (no bad thing). 'Radioactivity' returns to Green Day. A very melodic, driving song (“I’d rather kill myself than be like that”). We wrap things up with 'Roliglata', a 60s-type Pop/Rock song, moderate-paced with the emphasis on the catchy vocals.
This is a simple but fun collection of songs. Don’t expect anything technical or clever; sheer energy and drive take over. This is Post Punk by numbers, but there’s nothing wrong with the format . Many enjoyable bands did exactly that.
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