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Review: Mord’A’Stigmata’s “Ansia” (2013)

Ansia

 

Black Metal lends itself to experimentation, in my opinion, due to its rather generic soundscapes.  Ultimately, if some of the musicians are to believed, writing for black metal is a formula in which the riffs culminate around a cold theme, and are swept up to a swelling catharsis.  Mord’A’Stigmata promotes that they integrate Space Rock and experimentation into the subgenre.  Being a fan of progressive experimentation, Space Rock, and Black Metal, I jumped at their offer to spin the album.

Like always, I have to determine what I know about the album, down to its name before I give it a listen.  Knowing nothing about a band is not a terrible thing when coming to music (how else do we enjoy new sounds and new perspectives!), therefore, I didn’t give much time to looking into who Mord’A’Stigmata was, who their members are, and what their previous music is (I’m reviewing this particular topic after all, not their back catalogue).  Instead, I focused solely on their album’s title: Ansia.  Ansia, apparently, is the Italian word for anxiety.  We all have our own perception of what this is and how it affects us.  Having titled their album thusly, I expected a tense, roiling mass of music that draws only sometimes into the hypnosis of space and time.

Ultimately, I was wrong.  The album, while it has its moments of tension, never becomes oppressively tense.  Instead, their approach focuses on mystery wherein the coldest soundscapes of black metal (and the sub genre’s defining approach of tremolo and blast beat) are scant, playing on a role in a number of the pieces.  The music’s rhythm section is its driving force, particularly the percussion which is unexpected and at times ominous in the feel it creates. The focus on the hypnotic, nearly trance inducing, music is amplified by the passages that slow down and plod along gently.  The focus on these moment is evident in the length of the pieces (3 of 5 are more than 10 minutes in length, the fourth is over 7 minutes, and the fifth is an outro).  Unlike other reviews, I did not focus on the lyrics at all, rather wanting the focus to remain solely on the music rather than its poetry; therefore, the voice can make you raw with its shrieks and lends itself well during the chanting moments.

Ansia is a solid album from a great group of musicians.  In terms of technicality, Mord’A’Stigmata has absolutely no faults, making the compositions strongly focused.  In terms of the album’s theme, Ansia never quite provides the payoff that great Black Metal creates.  In fact, I never truly felt anxious or even considered the topic of anxiety while listening to the album (maybe I’ve become too desensitized!).  The album felt more mysterious where its black metal moments are used to accentuate this mystery rather than to establish further tension.  Generally, this is a good album that feel more based in psychedelia/space rock than in black metal, which is stunningly well performed by musicians that are comfortable in their approach.  If anything could be better, I wish that the album would have given me that typical Black Metal catharsis.

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2013 in Accountability, Art, Geek, Music, Reviews

 

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Music Review: Vom Fetisch der Unbeirrtheit’s Vertilger (2013)

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Vom Fetisch der Unbeirrtheit (to be known further as VFdU for the remainder of this review) are a German experimental band, focusing on exploration of the philosophical meaninglessness of life through their sounds.  Their album, which will release on 9/23/13, is Vertilger.  Billed as combining black metal, industrial noise and experimental sounds, VFdU do nothing to disappoint fans of that genre.

The album opens with “Lachenvieh” a seven and a half minute meander through an apiary found in an old warehouse.  The singer’s voice lends itself to panic with his harsh, garbled vocals sounding a mixture of croakals and screams.  To be frank, the song reminds of a djent approach to black metal that combines the electric/noise soundscape of Circle Meets the Square or Ministry.  The metal sounds are stunningly raw in comparison to the noise components, but serve seem to serve to focus solely on the rhythmic side of the party rather than the melodic.

“Schabenbrut” expands on this approach, opening with possibly the most disconcerting mixture of electronic noise and pained howling I’ve ever heard in song.  The 20 minute long production suffers no moments of emotional intensity, throwing any number of schizophrenic soundscapes at your ear in a never ending assault of the senses (how we got to an electronic component that included the stereotypical music of a French cafe, I’ll never know).  Ultimately, the song’s core centers around its math rock structure; though when VFdU get to the point and hit you straight with their black metal that transitions into acoustic parts while still being accented with electronics, the song comes more clearly into view (see: 12 minutes through the end of the song).

“Multiformale Lieberdimension” is essentially an instrumental electronic piece topped with ominous spoken word that bleeds to “Kadavermeer” that opens with a gentle swath of warm guitar tones behind the singer’s wail, who evokes a German Nick Cave warble on the song.  Unfortunately, this does not develop further as it breaks back into the band’s djent styled Black Metal, where the tremolos hum in the background before breaking back into a more logical extreme section.  Ultimately, this composition is my favorite on the album, if only for its ambition. “Prothesensucht” continues the intensity of this approach, exploring the ideas further.

Fans of this genre should find some redeeming qualities here; however, the first half the album comes across to me as intensity porn.  The heady ideas of exploring meaningless (while I did not read the lyrics) do not come across in song, rather they are hidden in a senseless dance of schizophrenic soundscapes.  The last half of the album actually details a logical progression of soundscapes and twisting turns in the style of DEP or other math rock stylings.  Fans of France’s The CNK and Ministry or even Grindcore or Noisecore music should find something here. Yet, I’m sitting here at the end of this review, wondering whether or not I listen to music or an amalgam of sounds.  If that’s the point of their philosophical approach, then I guess it worked.  This listener just didn’t get it.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2013 in Accountability, Art, Music, Reviews

 

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Music Review of the Week, Part I: Stolen Babies – Naught (2012)

 

stolenbabiesnaughtcoverrevealPeople rely off the title of avant-garde to describe music or art compositions they do not understand, rather than individuals that are truly forging a new way for others.  Bands like Genesis, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Queen, King Crimson, and Diamond Head et al. essentially established the root sounds for different genres of rock and metal sounds.  Bands of this nature were truly the avant-garde for the later sounds of the 1980s and early 1990s wherein bands like Mr. Bungle (and nearly all of Mike Patton’s associated bands), Tool, Metallica/Megadeth, Bathory, Venom, Death, et al. began refining metallic sounds and increasing their values musically.  This is not to state that commercial success is an indicator of progressive values; however, this is to note the bands whose sounds truly seem to influence even to this day.

Then, you hit a band like Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, with whom the artists of today’s review are associated.  They were never afraid to attempt new sounds, new thoughts, or even completely rip off course.  Stolen Babies comes from that point of view as well.  This is not avant-garde music, period.  They are too recent to have proliferated the market as to yet and have someone take a particular aspect of what they bring to the table and market it.  Though, obviously, Stolen Babies would be far more talented than those that would profit from particular aspects of their sound.  Therefore, the avant-garde label is an injustice to their particular assets.

Stolen Babies are, in a barest means of explaining their sounds, like heavy metal cabaret.  They use a female vocalist (more on that in a minute), using non-traditional metal instruments like accordion, tuba, trumpet (off There Be Squabbles Ahead), and generally focus their sound around their performance aspects.  Their follow up to “There Be Squabbles Ahead” was highly anticipated after Oculus Infernus referred the band in a post in July of this year.

My initial notice off this album is that Dominique Persi’s voice and her ability to perform are highly demonstrated.  Unlike a good number of female vocalists in metal, she does not seem to hide from her femininity and embraces it fully.  Wavering between whispers, clean singing, banshee-like shrieks, and growls, Persi evokes the closest thing to a succubus in sound I have ever heard.  Her voice courses through your veins and stirs you, grabbing you by your cheeks and demanding you listen.

The music on this album is a cacophony of metal, industrial, big band, cabaret, and electronics.  From the bouncing “Never Come Back” in which the band attempts to seduce to the listener to the harsh parts of the music to the nearly thrash metal of “Mousefood” to “Swimming Hole” in which the band sounds almost polka-esque that fades almost into Nick Cave’s “The Carny” in its darkest qualities.  It is not always the music that is the heaviest on this release that is their most aggressive or darkest, making me wonder how they are able to fit it all together so well.  Most importantly, though dark and grating at times, this album is just damn fun, especially the seemingly Queen inspired “Dried Moat.”

To put mildly, this is a talented band, as evidenced by the song “Prankster” (which in my opinion demonstrates most everything they can do together).  They are challenging, difficult, and petulant, yet seductive, warm, and inviting.  Their performance focused music is a wonderful approach to progressing metal sounds, making them a band I would love to see live (I would love the see the transition to “Birthday Song”).  This is a hell of a sophomore release from this band and is wondrous in that the female lead does not attempt to pull masculinity into her performance, leaving her perspective as genuinely feminine (something that is lacking in metal).

I could not procure a stream to the band’s newest album, but I recommend spending the ten dollars to purchase it.  So, here’s a link to their website where you can sample their sounds: Stolen Babies.

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2012 in Art, Music, Reviews, Surrealism

 

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