Reviews Coming Soon

Album Review: TBA

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Album Review: Since Yesterday - The Artificial Truth

Blending metal rhythms and riffs with hardcore structures and sentiments, 'The Artificial Truth' comes blazing out of the traps at you. Opener, 'The Aftermath', is chock-a-block with fizzing shreds, warping sustain and flattened snare strikes, all topped off with an elaborate solo spot and a lacerated, acidic vocal. "Waiting for you / want to smash your face / count the teeth on the floor" - 'It Always Feels Good To Remove Scars' leaves little to chance in its lyrics, backing it up with an emotive chorus and a menacingly dark outro...

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Mini-Album Review: LITE – Illuminate

...Having recorded Illuminate over two sessions, first in Chicago, then in Baltimore, the band have clearly spent a lot of time and money ironing out any frailties to get the record sounding bolder, more precise and ultimately, far more diverse. They’ve achieved this by bringing in a suitcase full of synth and a host of damaged keys. The rainfall backing tape and industrial click tracks on opener ‘Drops’ perfectly sets up their sudden shift into danceable electronica mirroring 65daysofstatic’s own side-step away from post-rock speculatling. The consequential added layers that they’ve discovered, within the manic electro-pop of ‘Image Game’ or the psychedelic jazz funk of ‘Andromeda’, is nothing short of staggering. Jun Izawa’s bass still rips through it all but it’s now pinpoint, clipped and precise and the best example of this is, without doubt, ’100 Million Rainbows’ – hearing it rise up on it’s haunches to plant bruising bottom-end and curious time-signatures over looped phasers is the equivalent of hearing Depeche Mode and Made Out Of Babies gang-rape Jean-Michelle Jarre’s entire back catalogue...

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

EP Review: Boris & Ian Astbury – BXI

Seeing Ian Astbury perform with The Cult at the Sonisphere Festival, just a couple of weeks ago, hit home just how well-loved his distinctive vocal was, nay, still, is. Thousands of fists hit the sky that day just as thousands of voices that accompanied every lyric did. Over the years we’ve seen him pop up on various projects and impromptu collaborations, like The Doors reformation, MC5, Tony Iommi, Deborah Harry and Slash, but to hear that he’d teamed up with Japanese experimental drone and doom specialists Boris was definitely a bit of a shock. It’s wholly new territory for him but the potential clash of styles had me, and clearly plenty of other Sonisphere attendees, salivating.

The project, tentatively titled, BXI (one assumes that stands for Boris multiplied by Ian), however, refuses to see each artist meet in the middle. It’s amazing quite how much influence Ian Astbury has had on Boris; enough to make them adapt around him by employing 4-4 drumbeats and strummed guitars. Astbury on the other hand slaps his mark hard on the project, throwing his dying, elongated lilt to each word, leaving a steaming red welt across the majority of tracks...

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Interview: Malefice

Malefice, the UK kings of groove-swaddled melodic metal, are generally to be found close to the meat… their first love… heavy music. Any fan of metal will have seen them loitering at the fringes of gigs or wandering the festival highways and byways. They’re learning from the best and, if their incredible live performances are anything to go by, they have been paying close attention. John Skibeat spotted them happily rooting around the backstage area of Sonisphere and grabbed guitarist Alex Vuskans for a chat.

How’s your day going so far?
Not well. I’m hanging out of my arse. I’m trying to drink to play well but it’s having the wrong effect. I’m just getting pissed again! I was running around, literally, with my pants off last night...

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Gig Review: Sonisphere Festival 2010, Knebworth, UK

Last year, the inaugural Sonisphere, held at Knebworth, proved to be a massive success and dispelled fears that the UK might not be able to support another major heavy festival to run alongside the monster tha Download, at Donington Park, has become (especially when you take into account the clutch of minor heavy festivals that have cropped up recently). Offering much the same layout as last year’s event (still with opposing main stages taking it in turn to play), but now having been boosted to a three-day event, rather than the quick-stop two, it’s surprising to see so many folks milling aimlessly around. There’s no time to ponder such frailties of organisation, however, because my ears are beginning to swell to the sounds of battle metal...

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Split EP Review: Fading Waves/Starchitect

Ukraine teams up with Russia for this 12-track split EP as a duo of dark sentimentalists, Starchitect from Kherson, take on a one-man band, Fading Waves from Rostov-On-Don. Surprisingly, there's actually more material here than you'll find on most albums, but then most post-rockers like nothing better than a damn good wheedle.

Fading Waves main provocateur Lex Maximuk is used to playing, programming, singing, engineering and mixing virtually every note you hear, but here he has brought in vocalist Alexey Morgunov and guitarist Artem Bat'kov to help him paint a torrid picture of modern living. Very much inspired by the bleak novels and poetry of Charles Bukowski, as well as the city he lives in, he goes to great lengths on 'Megapolis Depression' to pick wickedly bruised minor notes and repetitive loops to cast the gloom, following it up with an oppressive vocal scouring for 'Lights On Water'...

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Monday, August 9, 2010

Interview: 65daysofstatic @ Sonisphere 2010

Being strong advocates of playing live, 65days were never ones to turn down a hearty festival slot, but it still beggars belief that John Skibeat finds them preparing to play at a hard rock and heavy metal festival like Sonisphere! Joe Shrewsbury (vocals/guitar/keys) and Paul Wolinksi (guitar/keys) seemed almost as stunned as our interviewer.

You’ve played a wide range of festivals already but this must be the heaviest you’ve done so far.
Paul: Ever. We were quite surprised when we got the call ‘cos it is really heavy but as we’ve realised heavy metal music fans are fairly open-minded. Hopefully they’ll give us a break and we’ll get away with it!
Joe: We’re not going to pretend to be anything other than what we are.
Paul: We’re not going to get our Jacksons out and start down-tuning them.

You've played a wide range of festivals already but this must be the heaviest you've done so far.
Paul: Ever. We were quite surprised when we got the call 'cos it is really heavy but as we've realised heavy metal music fans are fairly open-minded. Hopefully they'll give us a break and we'll get away with it!
Joe: We're not going to pretend to be anything other than what we are.
Paul: We're not going to get our Jacksons out and start down-tuning them.

Are you changing the set-list at all to suit the occasion?
Joe: No. We're just gonna do what we do. We're loud too. We're certainly not going to be out-louded. We've got a lot of sub-bass, we may not be down-tuned but we certainly fill all the right frequencies.

Do you think it's an advantage or disadvantage to stand out from the other bands?
Paul: It's got its disadvantages on occasion but it's usually an advantage. We wouldn't want to sound like any other band. In the past we were probably quite stubborn about not sounding like anything else whatsoever. These days we've got a new appreciation of genre music which is a totally different discipline, but it's not for us. I think we'd get too restless.
Joe: We've got four heads. We do write together a lot so we have to find a middle ground between all that.

You seem to tour almost endlessly, cramming in hundreds of shows a year. Where does your desire to play live come from?
Joe: Well, firstly touring is our bread and butter and we're very lucky to love it. Long story short, we exist on a shoestring really so it makes sense for us to be on the road as much as possible. Also, until the last album, we always felt we represented ourselves best live. And it's a really great thing to do.
Paul: When you're locked away playing music it's really hard to know how useful you're being. It's quite a selfish thing being in a band and we want to know we're doing something that has an effect on other people. On the road, you get to experience that every single day. It's quite addictive really.
Joe: It's not like anything else. If you like it, you want more... like skag!

[Laughs all round]

The new album, 'We Were Exploding Anyways', is a whole new ball game to your previous material. Even your PR was claiming that you were "a band reborn". Where did the inspiration for it come from?
Joe: Oh, so many things.
Paul: It was a strange couple of years after our third album.
Joe: We're not a band that takes a concept into a studio. We're very hands-on. Our whole lives are the band. We've been doing it coming up to ten years so that really dictates everything we do. It would be hard to pinpoint a single inspiration. But we certainly felt that with 'The Destruction Of Small Ideas' we'd really side-stepped and explored a way of making music that was very satisfying in a studio sense but not in a live arena. The only thing we agreed on when we came back into the studio to write 'Exploding' was that we wanted to be the band that we were when we started who made people feel something visceral.
Paul: We wanted a record that could be recreated live from start to finish.
Joe: Except for Robert. He plays the only instrument on the album who doesn't turn up. [Joe and Paul exchange knowing smiles]

So, are there little bits of ideas taken from the dance music that you grew up on?
Paul: I kind of grew up listening to dance music instead of guitar music at first. Even when “65” started we didn't have a live drummer. It was all electronic beats and less weird time signatures. So it wasn't wholly new to us but, like I was saying before about genre music, listening to house music before and as we wrote this record revealed to me that you can use obvious rules in your favour. It's not cheating or being lazy, it's things that are effective. It's a totally different skill being inventive and being exciting within a genre. So we definitely pulled a lot from Daft Punk and Underworld and amateur producers.
Joe: To write something behind a 4-4 kick, and very little else, is actually a lot harder than to write melodies behind 5-4 time signatures which is what we've done in the past. So that was almost a learning curve for us. It was actually more about taking things out. 'Tiger Girl' is a really good example, because it came at the end of 18 months of writing when we'd already thrown out maybe 40 songs that we thought were old “65”. So we thought 4-4 kick and a melody and let's do what we want. So that was a really enjoyable song to write. That song is kind of an indulgence really.

How would you describe the album to someone who hadn't heard it yet?
Joe: Everything all at once... with no singing! [Laughs]
Paul: Hopefully not inaccessible. It's noisy but not without melody.
Joe: Mid-level band finding its place in the harsh face of stardom. [Laughs]

Robert Smith does guest vocals on 'Come To Me'. Did you write it specifically with him in mind?
Paul: Not at all. It came really late in the day. We were working on trying vocals in different songs but it didn't work. We'd tried recording it and abandoned it. It was finished and arranged but we just needed something to lift it. We talked about trying vocals on this and we were thinking about which vocalists we knew. We know Robert Smith.

From your tour with The Cure?
Paul: Yeah. So we thought, send him an email, what's the worst that can happen. And he said “yes”. He didn't come to the studio 'cos we were busy, so we sent him some tracks and he recorded them in his studio. He sent them back a few days later and said we could do what we want with them - which is cool in itself, because he's very precious about everything he's involved in. So to get permission to cut him up and cover it in distortion was... well... he liked it!
Joe: We didn't want to do it just to have his name on the record. We wanted it to fit; to sound right.

Have you any plans where to take your music in the future?
Joe: We never have a plan. I don't think people believe us when we say that. Schedule-wise, we know… but we never know what we're going to write. And this time, we really mean it.

So the next album could be heavy metal after all!?
Joe: Yeah, we could write a metal album! Could be anything. I think we're still enamoured with the idea of how to write a good pop song without it compromising the integrity of your music. I don't know if there is a way.

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