Posted by: Necci – Jun 08, 2012
I have way too many promos scattered around my house and my various hard drives these days. No matter how many in-depth reviews I write for this website, I can't seem to get through them all nearly as fast as they come in. Therefore I've decided to introduce this (hopefully) weekly column, in which I will write up a series of quick blurbs about random albums I've been sent promotional copies of. There'll probably be older records I never got around to mixed in with brand new releases, but I'm not OCD enough to let that bother me, even though I clearly am OCD enough to feel guilty if I don't review every single promo that's ever been sent to me. And now you, the RVA readership, will reap the dubious benefits. So without further ado, let's get into it...
Burning Love - Black Widow EP (High Anxiety/No Idea)
I've gotta talk about this new EP from Canadians Burning Love, an advance single from their upcoming Southern Lord LP, Rotten Thing To Say, in light of the fact that its A side is a song about 90s-era serial killer and currently free citizen of Canada Karla Homolka, who is back in the news this week, at least tangentially. Burning Love features singer Chris Colohan, a veteran of the angry, gloomy, metallic hardcore that's been one of the Canadian music scene's main exports for over a decade now. His previous groups included Left For Dead, The Swarm, and Cursed, and Burning Love is on average slower than any of those bands typically were; the tempo difference is enough that anyone checking these guys out for the first time expecting to hear something similar to Colohan's previous groups will probably be a little bit put off. Once you get used to it, though, the Burning Love sound is every bit as raw, brutal, and invigorating as the sound of Colohan's previous bands, and they demonstrate that to excellent effect on A-side "Karla," an unsparing lyrical recounting of the Karla Homolka story that is just as vicious as the music backing it up. The non-LP B-side, a cover of "Love's My Only Crime" by the Laughing Hyenas, is a fitting choice for Burning Love--Chris Colohan's slower, darker post-Swarm band doing a cover of John Brannon's slower, darker post-Negative Approach band. They rock it like hell, too--Colohan's screaming on the choruses is more unhinged than usual, and he does a great job of capturing Brannon's slobbering roar from his Hyenas days, even as the rest of Burning Love turns the song's midtempo rock n' roll riffing into something brutal enough to mosh to. The double-time stomp through the song's final verse is a perfect way to end the song and the EP, and just as "Karla" makes clear that Rotten Thing To Say will be an essential purchase when it hits the streets next month, "Love's My Only Crime" makes a great argument for picking up a copy of this EP as well.
Laid Back - Cosyland (Brother Music)
Back in the electronic postpunk days of the early 80s, this Danish duo were responsible for the monster club hit "White Horse" (as in "If you wanna ride..."). I was 7 when it came out in 1983, and I LOVED it. Though "White Horse" doesn't sound nearly as transcendent when I play it now as it did when I was young, my memory of it was enough to pique my curiosity when this EP came across my desk. It turns out that Cosyland has been assembled mainly from basic tracks that were recorded in Copenhagen back in 1981, making this record roughly contemporaneous with "White Horse" even though it came out 30 years later. And yet, rather than capturing the gloom-funk vibe of "White Horse," the five songs here, including two different edits of the title track--were the vaults really this bare?--Cosyland mixes droning minor-key synths with mellow baritone vocals to conjure the image of someone doing club remixes of Leonard Cohen circa I'm Your Man. "Cocaine Cool Extended" and "101 Part 2" are based around steady beats that might be enough to get people out on the floor if they hit a little harder; as it is, they have the mannered pulse of what people at least used to call IDM, making them most likely to take the role of "armchair techno." The existence of this 23-minute EP is, in the end, little more than a curiosity, and other than Laid Back superfans (surely there are some out there... right?), nobody really needs it in their library. Bookmark this link to the "White Horse" video instead--that's probably all the Laid Back you'll ever need.
Addison Groove - Transistor Rhythm (50Weapons)
Minimal, pounding, and terribly monotonous techno album whose most redeeming quality is the fact that songs are built around samples of people repeating awesomely antisocial phrases like "Fuck you, bitch!" in the most belligerent of tones. When I was growing up in the late 80s and early 90s, it was bands like Slayer who were making records that seemed strategically designed to piss off my parents. For today's teenagers, though, I imagine its Addison Groove who are most successfully pulling off this particular trick. And since (depressingly enough) the parents of today's teenagers are probably pretty close to my age, I suppose it makes sense that I totally hate this.
Luca Turilli's Rhapsody - Ascending To Infinity (Nuclear Blast)
What you need to know: Rhapsody was an Italian power metal band led by guitarist Luca Turilli and keyboardist Alex Staropoli. In the last few years, they had to change their name to Rhapsody Of Fire due to some sort of legal difficulty. Well, Rhapsody Of Fire still exists, and Staropoli is still leading that group, but a year or two ago, Turilli left that group and took their bass player with him to start his own version of the band, who recorded this album here. So yeah, there are two Italian power metal bands (kinda) called Rhapsody now, and this is the newer of the two. Ascending To Infinity is their first album. Apparently Turilli is fascinated with movies, and getting the cinematic feel of big-budget Hollywood productions into his music, because this entire ridiculously overblown record is covered with movie-derived flashiness, from the trailer announcer voiceover on several of the songs to the symphonic swells and vocal choirs which undergird every melodramatic chorus on this album. And like overdone Hollywood big-budget epics, it's entirely possible that this album has some sort of widespread appeal that just hasn't been discovered yet. To me, though, it sounds pretty bad. There's some talented metal guitar playing running through this album, but it's generally obscured by layers and layers of baroque classical goop. And hell, what would you even get if you stripped all the layers away? Sometimes it seems like you'd get Children Of Bodom, but other times it's more like Yngwie Malmsteen. The whole thing isn't really worth bothering with.
Post Teens - The Heat (No Idea)
Second EP from these Florida punks with pedigrees (the group features members of Torche, Asshole Parade, and a few other great Florida bands). Starts strong with a propulsive title track that interjects a surprising amount of melody into such a straight-ahead hardcore framework. They're actually good at doing that throughout, which makes me suspect a fair amount of garage-punk influence got mixed in with their punk and hardcore love--which is all to the good. With the longest of these six songs clocking in at 1:11, the whole record is over way too quickly, but it sure is fun while it lasts. Contains two back to back songs entitled "The Unforgiven III" and "The Unforgiven IV," and as far as I'm concerned, jokes at Metallica's expense make everything better. So yeah, go grab this, it's awesome.
Animals As Leaders - Weightless (Prosthetic)
Apparently "djent" is the latest trend amongst teenage metalcore fans--djent (scarequotes will merely be implied from here on in) is a term Meshuggah guitarist Fredrik Thordendal coined for his band's musical style. It's supposed to be the sound of a palm-muted guitar chord through distortion. I haven't been able to find much use for it as a genre name, though, which makes all these bands popping up lately who refer to themselves as djent both puzzling and slightly amusing for me. Animals As Leaders, as far as I can tell, have been lumped into the category by outsiders rather than placing themselves within it, which is reassuring since I don't get the resemblance between their instrumental noodlings and anything by Meshuggah that I've ever heard. I certainly can't deny that these guys are talented, nor that their work has a solid grounding in technical metal. But do I find it interesting? Well, in a word, no. It seems like a modern update on the instrumental albums by guitar virtuosos that had a moment in the early 90s--the album contains relatively simple song structures with lots of showoffy technical playing overtop of them, and little else. I also find myself thinking of overproduced jazz from the 80s and 90s, something like Pat Metheny maybe. In other words, I'm both technically impressed and bored stiff at the same time. Good for these guys that they can do stuff like this, but I won't be listening again.
By Andrew Necci