Wait A Minute! This Isn't Metal! - June 2019


Written by: RaduP, musclassia, nikarg
Published: 23.07.2019


Wait A Minute! This Isn't Metal! - June 2019
Metal Storm's outlet for nonmetal album reviews

Sorry this was also late. Life gets busy, but I also found less worthwhile stuff. I really hope I can get the July one to be both on time and bigger.

The place where we'll talk about music without growls or blast beats
unless they still have those but still aren't metal


We here at Metal Storm pride ourselves on our thousands of metal reviews and interviews and article; metal is our collective soul and passion, which is why we bother with this junk. That being said, we'd be lying if we stuck to our trve-kvlt guns and claimed that metal is the only thing we ever listen to. Whether we want to admit it or not, we do check out some other stuff from time to time; some of us are more poptimistic than others, but there's a whole world out there aside from Satan-worshiping black metal and dragon-slaying power metal. We do already feature some nonmetal artists on our website and have a few reviews to back them up, but we prefer to limit that aspect of the site to those artists who have been a strong influence on the metal scene or who are in some way connected to it. This article series is the place for those artists who don't matter to metal in the slightest but still warrant some conversation - after all, good music, is good music, and we all know metal isn't the only thing on this planet for any of us.

Down below, you might find some obscure Bandcamp bedroom projects or some Billboard-topping superstar; as long as it ain't metal and the album itself isn't a best-of compilation, it fits. Obviously, we're certain that not everything will be for everybody (you guys can be viciously territorial even when metal is the only thing on the menu, and we're all supposed to like the same things), but we do hope you find at least one thing that you can enjoy, instead of just pointing and screaming in horror "Not metal!" as if that would be an insult.

Here are our previous features:

May 2019
April 2019
March 2019

And now to the music...








Aurora - A Different Kind Of Human (Step 2)
[Art Pop / Electropop]

Aurora has been one of the most interesting pop artists to look out for these past five years, from first hearing her debut All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend, also hearing her cover Massive Attack and David Bowie to seeing her collaborate with The Chemical Brothers and Wardruna. Not only are her vocals unique, but her production also seemed to blur the line between eccentric and accessible. Last year she released Infections Of A Different Kind (Step 1), whose title promised that there would be a Step 2, and here we have it, even with a similar cover art, so I wouldn't exactly advise against listening to both as a double album.

This album doesn't present any departures from her style, but build upon the foundation of Step 1 to create a record that feels a lot more positive and empowering, from "The Seed"'s environmental "You cannot eat money, oh-no" to "The River"'s emotional "Do you miss the sadness when it is gone?". The vocals are obviously still the best part of the record, from Aurora's naturally sweet voice to how cleverly it is processed all throughout the record. The quirky production subtly builds upon the EDM-like instrumentation of a lot of the bangers, which wouldn't be unfit for an festival, but still manage to twist and turn in clever ways as to be more than just feel good music.

Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Vanishing Twin - The Age Of Immunology
[Dream Pop / Neo-Psychedelia]

An inspired and enthralling release, The Age Of Immunology is a jazzy psychedelic pop album with a sound that manages at various times to feel both mildly chaotic and yet relaxing. Take for example, the opening track "KRK", where the keyboards (I think?), guitars, drums and vocals all feel somewhat off in their own separate worlds, only loosely operating within the same song, and yet it all comes together to deliver a smooth and insidiously magnetic sound.

The leading element here are the somewhat longing, yet also welcoming vocals of Cathy Lucas. Whether lightly gliding over complex instrumentation or dominating the front and centre of songs, she anchors the eclectic sound with her husky voice and inventive vocal melodies. Beyond the vocals, the instrumentation is impressively diverse; whilst tracks like "Magician's Success" and "Planete Sauvage" have the same jazzy vibrancy as the opener, "You Are Not An Island" is a delicate and subdued piece carried by a soft acoustic guitar part, whereas "Backstroke" is dominated by a bouncy, disorienting electronic motif and some similarly distracting percussion that generate a dizzying but compelling sound. There's a lot to like here, and little to complain about; it's complex and creative, whilst still making for easy, relaxing listening.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by musclassia








State Faults - Clairvoyant
[Screamo / Post-Hardcore]

"Dreamcatcher, Pt. II" offers a solid minute of ambient introduction before the first screams arrive. Beyond this point, however, the band announces themselves as formed from the established post-hardcore/screamo mould. The combination of frantic drumming, post rock-inspired tremolo riffing and pierced shrieks that follow in this opening song eventually give away to some more indie-esque music, with shimmering guitars, slow and important drumming, and soothing vocals. It all makes for a pleasantly diverse and intriguing beginning to proceedings, that is then followed by a sharp onslaught of fast, frantic cuts.

Despite the hardcore centre to this album, there's a pleasant degree of variety on display. The melodic break about two-thirds of the way into "Sacrament" acts as a nice contrast to mathcore-esque wildness that immediately precedes it. Furthermore, the contrast of the uplifting ambience that begins "Olive Tree" with the second half of the song, which almost reminds me of Sunbather with its combo of shimmering guitars and blast beats, underlines the potential this band has. I found myself particular enjoying the slow, moody title track, with some effective lead guitar motifs. Probably the only parts that didn't rub me the right way were a couple of the vocal refrains, particularly those on "Sleeplessness" and "Contaminature". Certainly, I found this a far more rewarding listen than last month's release by Disparager.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by musclassia

Plaid - Polymer
[IDM / Electronica]

"Meds Fade" opens up Polymer with a dark, menacing techno track, with eerie sustained noises rising above an increasingly powerful electro-beat. A sinister first blow gives way to a more esoteric second track, with the abrasive primary motif that drives "Los" and the bouncy, syncopated rhythms beneath. Plaid have been making IDM for nearly 30 years, and have clearly honed an innate ability to merge brash introductions to a song into slick, cohesive songs. The wacky, oscillating opening gambit of "Maru" is slowly engulfed into a polished beat and soothing ambient sounds, eventually ceding the limelight to a dainty, jangling melody without ever fully vacating the premises.

Some songs are more up my street than others. It takes a while for "Ops" to move past its initial glitches to something more melodic, and never quite gathers full momentum. "Recall" is probably the most offputting track, with its very abrasive and repetitive beats that become harsher as the song progresses. On the flip side, "All To Get Her" has a bit of a synthwave vibe with its thudding bass, whilst the melodic lines that cameo on top throughout the track become gradually more developed and complex. Even further from the misanthropy of "Recall" is the bouncy, delicate "Crown Shy", which progressively morphs into a collection of laser-speed and super-light parts that dance around each other in a whirlwind of ecstasy. Ultimately, the strengths of this album lie in the variety and progression of the song, which sustain interest throughout the album's runtime.

Google Play Music / Spotify

by musclassia








Madlib & Freddie Gibbs - Bandana
[Gangsta Rap / Jazz Rap]

Madlib and Freddie Gibbs, weren't people you would've though would fit in any way together, with Madlib's eccentric jazzy soul sample-heavy beats and Freddie Gibbs' hard raps about crime and violence seeming at odds with one another, especially after Madlib's collaboration with the equally eccentric MF DOOM. And then they released Piñata and all doubts seemed to be unfounded. Surprisingly the two managed to build upon each other and bring the other to their best. And this is more or less what happens on Bandana as well. Though it doesn't completely live up to Piñata, Bandana shows us two artists in a continuous struggle to get even better.

Neither of them really seems to compromise their style, and yet somehow it feels like they blend together even better. The slight feeling of disjoint between the riffs and the flow makes it sound much more interesting and somehow emphasizes both of them. Some of the beats feel a little bit more digital and more modern-rap influenced though, but they still keep their off-kilter. Gibbs' rapping seems to take a bit more of the creative space compared to their previous record, and his bars are joined by some by Anderson .Paak, Pusha T and Killer Mike among others, to create a grim picture of street life and the times.

Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Drowse - Light Mirror
[Slowcore / Shoegaze]

Drowse's Kyle Bates isolated himself somewhere in Iceland before making this album, to ponder on the meaning of solitude and isolation. Most of the recording were done alone too. And you can really feel that. Light Mirror feels like a fever dream. Just like a lot of their The Flenser labelmates, Drowse manage to create very emotional and bleak soundscapes, ones that truly feel like they find a way to reach inside you and strike some chords. The very dreamlike slowcore definitely needs the listener to be properly immersed in order for it not to sound boring or pretentious or whatever, but I find it quite difficult not to get immersed in this.

A lot of music is labeled psychedelic and a lot of music is labeled dreamlike, each achieving their sound in different ways. Light Mirror's quiet and echoey vocals over the similarly quiet instrumentation and hazy soundscapes enhance the experience. I think the dreamlike quality is one of the reasons why music like this feels emotionally powerful, as if it is taken straight out of our own dreams as opposed to being music from outside, with the field recordings and grainy production giving it a very cassette-of-old-memories type vibe. This album makes me feel nostalgia for moments I never thought I'd miss. Moments I may never have actually experienced.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP








black midi - Schlagenheim
[Math Rock / Noise Rock]

Quick, think of a combination of Primus, King Crimson, Pere Ubu, Talking Heads and Polvo. The result should sound pretty close to what black midi are doing on Shlagenheim. With a band name which symbolizes a music file with thousands of concurrent notes, they don't really go the route of filling every second with a lot of notes, but they do retain some of the craziness of the idea. Schlagenheim is a very odd album, and as probably expected from the name-dropped bands, they do lie on the more experimental side of rock music, the type where you aren't sure whether to be frightened or amused.

The music jumps from mellow to rhythmic to frantic without ever losing its jammy experimental edge. There's a lot of restraint for a math/noise album, which does stand opposed to the band name, but even at their most restrained, they do juggle their sound to bring it to a deformed oddity that always keeps you at the edge of your seat. Not only is the blend of influences (including some classical and some wold music influence) and the constant shift in sound captivating, the rambling vocals add to the hysteric quality of the album, as goofy as Les Claypool or David Byrne and as frantic Guy Picciotto or Alexis Marshal. One thing is for certain, it never feels boring.

Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

EABS - Slavic Spirits
[Jazz Fusion / Spiritual Jazz]

It shouldn't be surprising that just as a lot of countries have developed metal scenes, they would also develop scenes for other genres as well. Here we have a jazz album from the Polish jazz scene, one that attempts to capture the Slavic spirit, a pretty bold attempt. Being marginally Slavic myself, I expected to be able to comprehend at least a little bit how jazz music could capture the Slavic spirit, but I'm either not well versed enough in jazz to tell apart different subgenres and scenes or I just need to drink more rakia. I suppose it's the former, but I'll try to fix the latter as well.

Music-wise it's a pretty great jazz record, not to focused on any particular instrument, with plenty of great piano moments, as well as plenty of great saxophone and trumpet ones. The record is entirely instrumental and it flows from smoother melodic moments to harsher free-jazz-inspired moments as well, but never going into full late-career John Coltrane. Though at its harshest, I wouldn't recommend Slavic Spirits to someone who considers jazz to be inoffensive background lounge music. Regardless, this is the first EABS album to be truly of their own working, as opposed to their debut, which built a nu jazzier sound upon the work of Polish musician Krzysztof Komeda, someone who I think I should've been familiar with.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP








Hildur Guðnadóttir - Chernobyl (Music From The Original TV Series)
[Dark Ambient / Industrial]

How do you compose the score of a miniseries that tells the story of a devastating tragedy that will still affect the lives of people long after we ourselves are gone? Hildur Guðnadóttir, a musician and composer from Iceland who has played and recorded with bands like Throbbing Gristle and Múm, and has also toured with Animal Collective and Sunn O))), decided to go the extra mile for this one. She travelled to Lithuania to visit the decommissioned nuclear power plant where the series was filmed -before the filming took place. She was accompanied by Chris Watson, the field recording engineer of David Attenborough's documentaries, and, dressed in a hazmat suit, she listened and observed.

Guðnadóttir's music conveys a feeling of existential dread and the haunting realization that the unthinkable has taken place. It is not about the explosion, but about the impact it had and its after-effects, which are silent and invisible. In order to create the soundscape of how it feels to be in such an environment, what that physically feels like, the composer did not use a single instrument on the whole score, instead it is all actual recordings that she captured on site. As a result, the music is mainly ambient hum and the only human element is the composer's voice, which is present in a few selected moments, as well as Homin Lviv Municipal Choir that performs in "Vichnaya Pamyat". While listening to the score I had the mental image of radioactivity unknowingly passing from one person to another. Yes, it's uncomfortable.

Google Play Music / Spotify

by nikarg




And that was it. You've made it through still alive. Congrats. See ya next month.



 



Written on 23.07.2019 by My opinion is objective, sorry if you don't agree, but you're wrong.


Comments

Comments: 8   Visited by: 85 users
23.07.2019 - 18:18
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
That being said, y'all should watch Chernobyl
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Take off those stupid glasses and kiss me
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23.07.2019 - 20:49
Alex F
Slick Dick Rick
Some cool choices here. I've heard all except that Aurora release and the Chernobyl soundtrack (haven't seen the show either) so I'll have to check those out.
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get that bag
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23.07.2019 - 21:12
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by Alex F on 23.07.2019 at 20:49

Some cool choices here. I've heard all except that Aurora release and the Chernobyl soundtrack (haven't seen the show either) so I'll have to check those out.

Yep, all three
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Take off those stupid glasses and kiss me
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23.07.2019 - 22:42
musclassia
Just re-read my inputs, came out better than expected considering they were pushed out last minute. I did actually like all 3 albums a fair bit, particularly Vanishing Twin and Plaid.
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23.07.2019 - 22:45
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by musclassia on 23.07.2019 at 22:42

Just re-read my inputs, came out better than expected considering they were pushed out last minute. I did actually like all 3 albums a fair bit, particularly Vanishing Twin and Plaid.

Now listen to the other 6
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Take off those stupid glasses and kiss me
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23.07.2019 - 22:50
musclassia
Written by RaduP on 23.07.2019 at 22:45

Written by musclassia on 23.07.2019 at 22:42

Just re-read my inputs, came out better than expected considering they were pushed out last minute. I did actually like all 3 albums a fair bit, particularly Vanishing Twin and Plaid.

Now listen to the other 6


To be honest I already listened to all the available albums when I chose those 3 and I didn't even vaguely consider any other album to be appealing, so I doubt there's much there that will be rewarding for me.
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24.07.2019 - 20:13
dammage11
You always seem to be able to pick out pop music I actually like, that specific unique and interesting electropop you seem to like. Thanks for sharing your choices, every month I think at least 1 album enters my regular rotation.
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24.07.2019 - 20:49
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by dammage11 on 24.07.2019 at 20:13

You always seem to be able to pick out pop music I actually like, that specific unique and interesting electropop you seem to like. Thanks for sharing your choices, every month I think at least 1 album enters my regular rotation.

You're welcome, I'm glad people find this interesting. I didn't expect so many people to be that open to pop music.
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Take off those stupid glasses and kiss me
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