Friday, 27 May 2011

Ebola is an effort by both entities, As We Fight and The Psyke Project. They’ve put this together feeling a need to get in touch with the more oldschool elements of hardcore, they may have inadvertently distanced themselves with, through previous ventures. These guys are fairly familiar in the extreme post-rock genre, solidifying themselves in more often than not mind bending and complicated expressions, thus it’s nothing more than refreshing to hear their own reductionist approach. That’s not to suggest a laid back affair (Ebola certainly clenches up when The Psyke Project get going), but things are closer to the bone of what hardcore riffing used to be in its babysteps.

Ebola is an album divided into two parts. As We Fight play through the first four tracks, with The Psyke Project finishing the album on five tracks. It’s easy to consider this a jumbled compilation album, with two different bands placed on the disc, heard through two different recording approaches - but thankfully this isn’t the case. They’ve been able to blend both their sound and ideas evenly across the board, giving this release a particular assorted flavour that would otherwise be lost through a single artists vision.

7/10 PowerPlay issue #132

Posted by Posted by Andy at 9:57 pm
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Post-rock, soundscapes, instrumentals, it’s all becoming a rather familiar expression. The Sound of the Mountain sling very much in this vein, attempting to create an ambiance accessible in a rocky context, as well as leaving the door open for the artisans amongst us, who might gaze on this as cinematic claptrap, and vice versa.

All things considered, this is in fact pulled off very well. There’s an edge, an atmosphere, and a vibe about its entirety, which punches beyond the usual hype surrounded by dextrous riffing, or quantum time signatures. It maintains its feeling, and most of all, it feels natural.

Problems reside in its muddy ambiguity and length. Muddy as once you’re taken out of a groove, it’s very difficult to latch onto the next one, rubbing off as poor planning on the bands behalf. It’s also too long, with chunks of tracks repeating themselves for good reason, but little effect. Certainly, there’s nothing here the band can’t fix next time around, and no doubt they’ll be back with another twisted offering – this is a safe investment for anyone earthed in post-rocks artistic mumbo jumbo. Not many debuts pan out so promising.

7/10 PowerPlay issue #132

Posted by Posted by Andy at 9:53 pm
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You’d be mistaken for thinking that Sancta Sanctorum are some sort of psychedelic afterthought through the albums cover art. Themed more like an Ozric Tentacle tribute than something veining in hard rock, the deception is washed away briskly as soon as playback is initiated. The spiritual backdrop behind the name also lends wobbly preconceptions, with Sanctum Sanctorum meaning something along the lines of ‘holy of the holies’. For a 70s themed hard rock band, it’s at best odd, when you hear what’s meant to be related to all of the spiritual psycho babble.

Veining inside that 70s rock thing, there’s a great amount of density about the record. Grainy distorted guitars are constantly chugging away, a growling bass drones in its undercurrent, chorus is mapped onto the distant vocal, and the drums lethargically clatter and bang along. It’s very much the usual set-up, reflecting on what times where a few decades past. Highlights usually come from Steve Sylvester’s vocal, as he does his best to lug the thing on, occasionally belching, and groaning, adding the needed muscle essential to the production. There’s nothing necessarily great heard, but nothing here is on the poor side either – and nostalgic rockers will find accessibility within the graininess of its sound. We’re left stuck in between that horrible mark of apathy.

5/10 PowerPlay issue #132

Posted by Posted by Andy at 9:49 pm
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Dead Letter Circus are certainly on the up from 2010. Their debut album This Is The Warning hit number 1 on the ARIA (Australian charts). In context, that might not mean as much as the band would like to draw toward, but recently supporting the likes of Muse and Linkin Park certainly confirms that the booms ripples are felt elsewhere. They’re an alt-cum-pop-rock bunch, which, forcefully do the kind of commercial pop rock thing, music lovers, love to hate.

This Is The Warning carries all of the melodrama a commercial emo rock production usually weighs in with, along with trying to play it all down, inside an alt rock bubble. Yes, it’s easy to dismiss the hysterics, and its nagging commercial viability, but it takes a kind of brazenness, a kind of schematic to knit together a 17 year old sensibility, with something much more adult. Think Muse, with a much harder shell, and a softer, creamier centre.

7/10 Powerplay issue #132

Posted by Posted by Andy at 9:46 pm
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Armoury of God is a Christian rock album of sorts. Lyrically the themes are religiously explicit, that’ll alienate a following otherwise interested in what usually comes with the genre. Oddly enough they’ve put all of their ramblings on top of a sludgy doom format that does its best to confuse. Musically, similarities can be drawn with the likes of Celtic Frost and Count Raven, with sections as sloppy as Black Sabbaths earliest work. It’s easy to be scared off by the Christian element, but sonically you wouldn’t know otherwise – just try and convince neutral customers to go along with the packaging. In relation to its limited accessibility, this is intended for doom specialists only, with the raw gloomy sludge easy to overlook for headbangers who would otherwise flock to something a little more paced. For fans appreciative of gloomy doom trails, and a view, that might not be best held as their own. Not many? Who’d have thought?

6/10 PowerPlay #132

Posted by Posted by Andy at 9:43 pm
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It’s the sort of progressive metal that makes you leap in joy and thwack your head around in all delight, and the Scandinavians do it no better. Legacy of Emptiness are a Norwegian bunch, playing that brand of metal pioneered by Immortal and Emperor, which they gleefully mix up into byte-size proggy sections, along with jagged black extremities - indeed it’s all very familiar.

But certainly, deceptively difficult to pull off, and to an extent everything heard is accomplished with a fair amount of verve if lacking in originality. It sticks so rigidly by the tried and tested formula, it will eventually kick the bucket in apathy. Simply put, their masters can do what they’ve done much better. Perhaps they’re seeking an apprentice’s recognition, and at the very least, they’ll be given that.

6/10 PowerPlay issue #132

Posted by Posted by Andy at 9:38 pm
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