since i started posting reviews on : http://www.avantgarde-metal.com/content/index.php
i thought it would be a good idea to have them here as well...
BLACK ALBATROSS The Green Walls
Release: 2007 Label: Self Released
Avantgenre: Post-Drone Narcotic Space Rock
Origin: Pakistan / USA
Official site: http://www.myspace.com/blackalbatross
The first album proper (self released that is) from a meeting of young yet prodigously talented minds, this is indeed as avant garde as they come. Starting with a backward guitar melody that morphs ito the opener "In a Garden", here is some seriously eerie and trippy music. It is essentially Saqib Malik's soundscapes and strange textures married to Howard Eichenblatt's stream of consiousness poetry. From the opener onwards, the agenda gradually unfolds to demonstrate reverb laden guitars and drums, creepy drones, disturbing samples all topped by vocals recalling a teenage Morrison on crack. Reference points touched upon include modern drone masters (Sunno, Boris et al) to indie (old Sonic Youth, Velvet Underground) to experimental black metal (Blut Aus Nord), but without resembling any one band or genre. The production is intentionally lo-fi, keeping clarity of instruments and vocals without sounding immediate at all.Infact, the mixing of the distant reverb laden sound with the odd lyrical and vocal gist makes this the very epitome of narcotic post rock/metal. Thankfully this completely avoids the Grateful Dead-with-Distortion structuring or the chugga-chugga generic chunks of many post-metal luminaries. Instead it delves into the underside of rock (and no I don't mean the sleazy redneck kind either), and comes up all aces. Very occasional touches of a more extreme metallic element (witness "At Dusk We Returned" and "Dark Language") show metalheads swimming somewhere in the murk.This is cosmic music but its the very anti-thesis of what "cosmic" usually means when applied to metal. Instead of rage and pomp this is the moan of a feeble, drugged out and decaying cosmos. Honestly speaking, after the first 6 tracks I lost conventional conciousness and was floating away blissfully on a narcotic cloud. And I have not used any mind-altering substances in a long time.This is to post rock and metal what Radiohead's Kid A was to modern indie pop rock. I am scared of thinking what these guys would do with a bigger budget and a slicker studio.
UMBAH _ 7 Days Of Horror
Avantgenre: Tech-Industrial Goth Grind Metal
Official site: http://www.umbah.co.uk/
The second release from the insanity that is Umbah, this is more of the same yet with a difference. There is distinct chunkiness in the riffing, aligning this release closer to the death/thrash camp. Some of the riffs here can cause a disjointed mosh (spastic zombie slam-dance!!!) to descend upon the listener unaware.Another notable difference is the more expansive and free-form lead work which now sounds like an unholy communion of Alan Holdsworth and Azathoth. The drums are also more pounding, resulting in a more aggressive sound (not unlike Ministry doing death metal in some sections, albeit a Ministry in the death-throes/seizures of a ketamine overdose.)The vocals are as sick as ever, but show definite confidence, while still being brilliantly manic (infact in places sounding like Maniac being buggered by Al Jougersen). There is also a slight dramatic edge to some of the vocal utterances (I would kill for a lyric sheet).Once again the album has a cohesive feel, with each song being a complete unique entity without relying at all on the same bag of tricks. A single song can run the gamut from thrash to death to black to industrial to gothic within minutes yet sound natural doing it. And Umbah has brilliant songwriting, vaguely churning within a cyber-grind context yet never catering to the cliches.The best bit here is that it all sounds disturbing and dark, even the ultra-fast spacier instrumental moments,coming across like a spaceship entering a cosmos populated enitrely by the elder ones.Hats off to Cal for continually being ground-breaking with each succesive album and managing to sound unlike any band you can think of. This is another stake through the heart of conventional metal mediocrity.
STRAPPING YOUNG LAD City
Label: Century Media Records
Avantgenre: Industrial Thrash Power Metal
Origin: Canada / USA
Official site: http://www.strappingyounglad.com/
With this one it's hard to know where to begin. How about "the heaviest finest angriest slab of cyber metal ever”? This record came, conquered and remained on the throne. It pretty much defines what can be accomplished with the proper amalgamation of extreme metal and industrial music (along with Ministry and Red Harvest, of course).Opening with a flooring but short intro in "Velvet Kevorkian” which segues into the face-ripping "All Hail the New Flesh”, the record quickly and explosively establishes its sound and identity. The song that follows up the intensity another notch is the headbanging anthem "Oh My Fucking God”. Thrash (and some Death/Grind) riffage layered with all manners of samples and synths, backed by the rhythm section from hell (how can you go wrong with Gene Hoglan on drums?) races along, all topped off with some of the most original vocals in metal (Devin Townshend is a phenomena unto himself, going from tough guy vocals to screeches and screams to heart wrenching wails and singing, all in the same song and all suitably reverbed).It is a winning mix, especially when the brutality is contrasted by slower, more atmospheric and intensely emotional sections, where the synths, guitars and vocals make a strangely ambient melodic mix creating a wall-of-sound that became Devin’s trademark. Another ace of the band is the lyrical contact, which is angry and direct (to the point of almost being punk/hardcore) and clearly understandable, thanks to the amazing production job (courtesy of Devin himself, with engineering by Daniel of Meshuggah fame).All the songs here are killer, catchy and epic at the same time (something which is very hard to achieve). They flow seamlessly and the sequence makes perfect sense. As Devin has repeatedly stated in interviews, it is his catharsis and it shows. Many of the themes here are developed further on subsequent SYL and DTB releases, but none comes close to the sheer insanity of this record. The Cop Shoot Cop cover is a great choice and brings variety to the record, while still sounding like a SYL tune.All in all, this is one of the top metal releases of all time, and still sounds as refreshing and vibrant today as the day it was released. If you haven’t had the pleasure, pick it up today for a truly cerebral yet vicious metal experience.