Album Review: Igorrr- Savage Sinusoid

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Savage Sinusoid is hands down the weirdest album I have ever heard. Gautier Serre, the mastermind behind Igorrr, was one of the people behind Whourkr which is how I originally discovered him. Their album, Concrete, is a favorite of mine. So, when I realized he was responsible for Igorrr, I eagerly dove into his latest bit of insanity. And I was not disappointed.

Savage Sinusoid is like if someone took Disco Volante era Mr. Bungle, death metal, opera, breakcore, and grind into a blender that was then jammed directly into your ears. There are moments of blast beats giving way to operatic singing and 8-bit dance music.  I think at one point there is an sitar thrown in? The harsh vocals are all gibberish sounds, reminiscent of Adult Themes For Voice era Mike Patton set to music. There is even a nice mellow track, Problem D’emotion, towards the middle that showcases the wonderful operatic vocals (I believe provided by Laure Le Prunenec) and offers a breather from the insanity of the rest of the album.

The complex compositions found on Savage Sinusoid often feature genres that are at odds, fighting each other head on to create magic. One of the major standout parts of the album for me is the song Spaghetti Forever, which opens with some clean acoustic guitar leading into a cool dance beat before diving headfirst into full blown controlled metal chaos. It sounds like something Naked City would come up with if they were all fed acid for a week and then thrown into a recording bender.

Travis Ryan from Cattle Decapitation guests on three of the tracks, providing his unmistakable vocals into the mélange of craziness. Hearing Ryan growl over an accordion is something I never ever thought I would hear, let alone fall completely in love with. Which, I guess, could be said for just about every other sound on Savage Sinusoid. Nothing about this album should work at all, yet it somehow coalesces into one of the most incredible and weird albums I’ve ever heard. It’s even more impressive that there are no samples on the album, meaning Gautier Serre and his guest physically created everything you hear on the album.

Savage Sinusoid is a complete masterpiece. It’s one of the most engaging and demanding albums I’ve heard in a long time and makes me long for the days when I first discovered John Zorn, Mike Patton’s work outside of Faith No More, or Yamantaka Eye. It’s an album you have to pay attention to while listening. Now, I can’t wait to dive into Igorrr’s previous albums and just wallow around in the chaos for awhile.

Savage Sinusoid is out now on Metal Blade Records. You can pick it up on Bandcamp HERE. Physical copies can be picked up HERE via Metal Blade.

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Single Review: Dark Black by Vattnet

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Lineup changes are a difficult and practically unavoidable thing for any band. There are very few bands that can make it 7 plus years without some sort of shake up. Not everyone is cut out for spending 250 plus days a year on the road that it sometimes takes to stay relevant in a genre as finicky as metal. But what do you do when a founding member, especially the vocalist, jumps ship right after a breakthrough album? If you’re Vattnet, you push forward.

After Nicholas Thornbury quit following a tour with Taake and Young And In The Way, remaining members Chris Alfieri, Casey Aylward, and Seamus Menihane restructured and decided to push on, dropping the Viskar from their previous moniker. Casey moved from bass to Nick’s former spot as guitar and vocals, a decision couldn’t have been easy or made without careful deliberation, but it makes total sense (Casey was the singer of a band called Hetfield & Hetfield, which featured about a third of the band Astronoid).

Now, 2 years after the release of Settler, Vattnet has released their first single with the new lineup and the first taste of their new sound with Dark Black. And it fucking rules. Hard. Dark Black is made for driving around town with the windows down and the volume turned up as loud as possible. It’s no longer the bastardized version of black metal of Sky Swallower or Settler, it’s a whole new thing to be fully embraced and just sounds exciting.  The simplest comparison would probably be a heavier version of Circa Survive, but that would be a disservice to Vattnet. It just sounds like rebirith. There is a renewed vigor within the bands sound that leads to some great moments.

Completely devoid of the blast beats or tremolo picking riffs of the past, Dark Black still has a through line from their previous incarnation, and that’s Chris Alfieri’s guitar work. Dark Black’s main riff sounds like the estranged sister of the riff from the Settler track, Glory, and there is even a nice atmospheric guitar part during the first verse that is very reminiscent of some of the interlude tracks from Sky Swallower. There is a clear progression going  from Settler  to their new sound and I feel like this is the direction Vattnet would have ended up two more records down the road if the lineup change had never happened. Alfieri sounds unrestrained and honestly has never sounded better. His playing works well with Aylward’s, creating one of the catchiest riffs I’ve heard in a long time. The main riff throughout Dark Black always sounds like it’s pushing you forward, a propulsion for the whole song.

Casey  shines here as a vocalist and lyricist. His voice is absolute magic and I’m so glad they decided to use him instead of finding a new vocalist. And while I said comparing this new version of Vattnet to Circa Survive was a disservice, it is slightly applicable. While no one on Earth sounds like Anthony Green, I get the comparison. Casey’s lyrics are personal and work really well within the groove of the song. Dealing with being let down by a family member or friends drug use (“Waste your life anyway you like/Dark black is all I’m seeing/It’s nothing but contagious feelings/Drop some more pills down your throat until anywhere feels like home/Then wake up tomorrow and repeat it”), Casey sounds amazing and I can’t wait to hear him in a live setting.

But the biggest takeaway from Dark Black is how much Casey and Seamus bring to the table. I’ve always stated that they were the secret weapon behind Settler. Their interplay together as bassist and drummer created the backbone for that album and I feel was completely underappreciated. But they both shine bright on Dark Black (pun kind of intended). Seamus, now unhindered by blast beats, sounds incredible. He’s always been a drummer I loved, especially his work on My Fiction’s Stranger Songs, and he brings so much swing and drive to Dark Black that it’s hard not to air drum along/ I can not wait to hear what he does on the rest of their upcoming album.

While Dark Black is definitely a stylistic shift for Vattnet, it is a necessary one. They sound revitalized and ready to push forward. And if Dark Black is any indication, the upcoming full length will easily be an album of the year contender.

Dark Black is available now through New Damage Records and can be purchased from a variety of retailers here.

Album Review: WEAK by Terrible As The Dawn

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WEAK, the debut EP from Terrible As The Dawn, kicks off with ‘Stains’, a song full of screeched vocals and atonal guitar work that is very reminiscent of the bands I loved (and still do) from the late 90’s/early 2000’s hardcore scene. Especially the ones doing weird stuff, bands like Daughters, Circle Takes The Square, and basically anything on the Three One G label. It’s a sound I adore and was very welcoming upon first listen. In fact, Terrible As The Dawn’s entire sound is a wonderful mishmash of genres I love. Everything from dissonant hardcore to grinding heaviness to indie rock to 80’s goth work together to create a sound that is often times chaotic and spellbinding.
Forming as a way to deal with the stress and emotions of their concurring and separate divorces, Caroline Fukuchi (guitar, vocals) and Stephen Smith (drums, vocals) created a sound that is emotionally brutal. The vocals often sound painful and invoke true emotions as opposed to just screaming for the sake of sounding “heavy”. In fact, WEAK might be one of the most emotionally real and raw albums I’ve ever heard. The interplay of grinding chaos and early Cursive style indie rock works well to counterbalance each other. ‘Dead’, the third song on the album, is the best Cursive song that Tim Kasher never wrote. The spoken word/singing into full blown screech of “all that I want is to find someway…. home!” hits me hard every time I hear it.
The marriage of genres reaches its pinnacle on closing song, ‘Ghosts’. Its fast punk feel crescendos into a heavy and noisy ending that feels cathartic and needed, like something being kept bottled up finally succumbing to the pressure and exploding. It’s my favorite part of the album and a perfect way for the EP to end. It leaves you longing for more.
WEAK is an album designed by conflict. Everything about the music and vocals is epitomized by the idea of conflict. The atonal nature of hardcore fighting against 90’s indie rock. The screeched vocals fighting against the clean singing. It’s all conflict, and conflict is something that is universal. Everyone deals with it and Terrible As The Dawn have recorded the perfect sound to help deal with those feelings of depression and anger that might result from any conflicts that happens in your life.

TATD live

You can pick up a digital copy of WEAK from Terrible As The Dawn’s Bandcamp page HERE!

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Album Review: A Forest/Siamese Twins by Curezum

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There are few bands in the world that affect me as much as The Cure. Their songs, even when played by other bands, always hit me very hard. And if you can make one of their songs translate well into metal, you will forever have a place in my heart. Portland, Oregon’s Curezum are one of those bands that have firmly rooted themselves into my chest cavity and permanently set up residence. Following their One Hundred Years/The Top single last year, they’re now back with a new single. This time putting their black metalled twist on A Forest and Siamese Twins.
Now, there have been a lot of covers of A Forest. It’s usually a go to for most metal bands as it’s one of The Cure’s more popular songs and has a dark, goth edge to it. Originally from the Seventeen Seconds album, most bands fail miserably at covering it and it’s a song I’ve been adamant on bands ceasing covers of. Most of the metal covers I’ve heard of A Forest tend to just sound like a band that doesn’t totally like The Cure or maybe are covering it as a “hey! we’re a metal band covering a non-metal song!” scenario. It never works and always feels goofy or forced. Curezum on the other hand have absolutely crushed it. Their version has such an attention to detail and true love for the original that it shows in their work. The underlying bass and drums (Billy Anderson and Martti Hill, respectively) work incredibly well playing that all too familiar backbone to the song all while remaining heavy, even incorporating some blast beats into the mix. The guitars (Mort Subite) are incredible at their balance of playing fast and heavy while maintaining the melody and overall goth tone of the original. Everything crescendo’s perfectly into the “and again and again and again and again” part towards the end. It’s so satisfying. Curezum may have made me change my mind on metal covers of A Forest, at least until I hear another terrible power metal version.
The B-side song, Siamese Twins from the Pornography album, is hands down the best thing Curezum has done so far. The first time I listened to it, I couldn’t stop smiling. I really love that both singles from Curezum so far have been set up like a real Cure single, with a more popular song (One Hundred Years and A Forest) as the A-side, while the B-sides have been lesser known songs (The Top and Siamese Twins). Featuring a much slower approach that A Forest, Siamese Twins is an absolutely perfect cover. Its doomy approach adds to the heaviness of the lyrics (“Leave me to die/You won’t remember my voice/I walked away and grew old/You never talk/We never smile/I scream/You’re nothing/I don’t need you any more/You’re nothing”). The middle section has a really nice blast beat (courtesy of Eight Bells drummer, Christopher Van Huffel) fueled fast part that adds a brutal touch to the song and sounds intense when put against the slower parts of the rest of the song. The cover is a midpaced headbanger and I’m sure will be a huge staple of any live shows Curezum plays. Songs from Pornography are pretty metal friendly as the album is really harsh (compared to everything else in The Cure’s discography) and bleak, but Curezum just takes it to a whole new level. The vocals (by perfectly and mysteriously named Robert Vikernes) are especially fitting on Siamese Twins and makes it sound wonderfully evil.
Each song on the single features a guest appearance, Matron Thorn of Ævangelist playing lead guitar on A Forest and the aforementioned Christopher Van Huffel of Eight Bells. If you’re a Cure fan and a metal fan, do not skip on this. It builds on what Curezum did with their first single and just makes it better. I can’t wait to hear what they do with their full length down the line.  I know it will be incredible. Curezum are doing exceptional things, and in the long run, hopefully turning people on to The Cure.

You can pick up the A Forest/Siamese Twins Single from the Static Tension Records Bandcamp page HERE! There is a digital download and a pretty awesome physical package that includes a shirt, cassette single, three pack buttons, a signed postcard, and trading card for a very cheap $20. Limited to 50 so grab one quick!

Album Review: Fortress Of My Dark Self by Oceans Of Grief

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With a lyric like “Guards of my emptiness/keep away the joyful feels”, it’s safe to say that Oceans Of Grief aren’t here to deliver feel good moments. In fact, pretty much every lyric on Fortress Of My Dark Self is bleak. There is no silver lining. Everything is terrible and you just have to wallow in it. 
Oceans Of Grief come from Greece and their debut EP is a gloomy throwback to the 1990’s doom metal scene. It’s slow, incredibly heavy, and full of atmosphere. Most of the time, it’s very reminiscent of My Dying Bride, minus the Gothic flare. And while playing melodic death doom may not leave a lot of room for interpretation, Oceans Of Grief are perfectly adept at paying tribute to those that paved the way while doing their own thing. Their riffs are excellent and heavy, while just melodic enough to remain memorable. The vocals are low and harsh and fit will with the depressive lyrical content being spewed forth. 
The five songs on display don’t stray too far from the path of slow and heavy, but there are some really great moments throughout. The solo in ‘House Of Misery’ is beautiful and encapsulates everything I love about 90’s death metal. ‘The Birth Of Chaos’ is an excellent closing track and features a spotlight on the bass that is great. ‘Spiritual Fortress’ is definitely the album standout for me, though. It’s a damn near perfect death doom song. It’s a perfect opener and sets the tone for all the doom and gloom that follows.
Fortress Of My Dark Self may not be the most original album ever made, but it’s a well-crafted piece of 90’s inspired doom. I look forward to hearing what they do in the future, especially with a full length album. If you’re a fan of early My Dying Bride and their ilk, don’t let Oceans Of Grief pass you by.

You can pick up Fortress Of My Dark Self on Bandcamp HERE!

Follow Oceans Of Grief on Facebook and Twitter.

Album Review: Air by Astronoid

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There is a moment a little over halfway through Astronoid’s first full length album, Air, that is so gloriously beautiful that I can’t help but smile when I hear it. It’s like experiencing the Aurora Borealis localized entirely within your kitchen, but unlike Superintendent Chalmers, you bare witness to it in all of its glory. The song is called ‘Tin Foil Hats’ and it’s a wonderful mix of fast black metal-esque riffs, pop melodies, and gorgeous vocals singing lyrics about clouds and the sun. If there was any justice in the world, it’s a song that would be a monster hit during the summer, with kids blaring it through boom boxes while enjoying themselves in the Springfield Pool-Mobile.
Astronoid are an anomaly in the world of metal; A band that can straddle a fine line of being really fast and heavy while writing killer hooks and catchy melodies. They’re reminiscent of current era Cynic, but with more metal riffs and a lot less prog. The vocals are light and airy (pun intended) and fit nicely over the astounding guitar work on display throughout Air. The guitar work is maybe the best I’ve heard all year, if not the last decade. There are riffs upon riffs upon riffs in ‘Up And Atom’ (with “at ’em” spelled A-T-O-M in a delicious pun) that will have you screaming out “jiminy jilickers!” The three guitars work together well without overbearing each other while also being different enough to make sense.
Most metal fans have probably already logged onto alt.nerd.obsessive and logged their complaints about how Astronoid aren’t metal or that the clean vocals aren’t metal and whatever else metal fans like to complain about. But if you’re open minded and S-M-R-T, there is a world of amazing music to discover in Air. ‘Resin’ is a fast paced banger than will make anyone air drum along to the incredible drum work. ‘Homesick’ is one of the best pop songs I’ve ever heard, buried in heavy guitars. The closing track, ‘Trails Of Sulfur’, features unrelenting drums and some of Brett Boland’s more dreamy sounding vocals. All nine tracks on the album are incredible. It’s really hard to pick out specific moment as almost every song features some of the best musicianship I’ve ever heard. Air is like a coffin and each song is a nail, burying you in beauty.
So, the next time you feel like life is just one crushing defeat after another until you just wish Flanders was dead, put on Air and let it’s beauty and heaviness wash over you like acid, but be careful because the goggles, they do nothing!

You can pick up Air from the Blood Music Bandcamp page HERE! You can also hear their previous albums on the Astronoid Bandcamp page HERE!

You can follow Astronoid on Facebook HERE!

Album Review: A Bird In The Fault by Asunojokei

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For the first thirty seconds of opening song ‘Pomegranate’, you’d be hard pressed to differentiate Asunojokei from any other band given the genre tag of post black metal. It’s a pretty straight forward intro in the vein of bands like Hope Drone or Archivist that very quickly break into a circle pit inducing post-hardcore meets black metal assault. Then, in another twist, ‘Pomegranate’ morphs into a full fledged Deafheaven-esque piece of atmospheric black metal beauty. It makes for a completely compelling and interesting opening track and sets a good pace for what is to come on the rest of Asunojokei’s first full length, A Bird In The Fault.

It’s a bit of a cop out to say Asunojokei sound like early Envy playing black metal, but it’s probably the simplest description. And like their fellow countrymen, Asunojokei doesn’t rest on one genre to forge their sound. At different points, you hear the previous mentioned post hardcore and atmospheric black metal, a bit of depressive suicidal black metal and doominess (‘Easy’), and bits and pieces of Sigur Ros via piano beauty (‘A Bird In The Fault’). It should be noted that while all of this might sound overbearing, Asunojokei meld it all perfectly into their sound. Everything is deeply rooted in black metal, but these outside influences help Asunojokei stand out in a field of bands that sound relatively the same.
As someone who can’t read Japanese, finding information on Asunojokei is a little difficult. I have no idea what their lyrics are and as most of their info is in Japanese, I’m pretty much out of luck on knowing a whole lot about the band. Luckily, their music is strong enough to stand on it’s own. The five songs on A Bird In The Fault are incredibly heavy and beautiful, both aspects coinciding without relenting to one or the other. They have blast beats working in unison with really wonderful and melodic guitar work. No song demonstrates this more than ‘The Drowned Body’. It’s a spectacular song that should make all the Deafheaven style bands of the world jealous. It’s a song I’ve been waiting years for someone to write. It’s the sound of The Head On The Door era Cure playing black metal and is a massive highlight of not only the album, but black metal in general.
‘Easy’, the albums centerpiece, counteracts all of the prettiness by being an utterly unnerving and slower paced song. It’s just shy of 7 minutes of gloom and sorrow punctuated by vocals that sound like cries of pain that eventually relent to Asunojokei’s normal black metal assault. It’s a wonderful track, but sort of sticks out amidst the rest of the beauty and atmosphere of the rest of the album.
I’ve been listening to black metal for a long time, going on at least 18 years now, and I can say that I’ve never really heard an album that encapsulates everything I love in music right now more than A Bird In The Fault. I’d actually go out on a limb and state that A Bird In The Fault might be the best black metal album I’ve heard in the last 5 years. That’s not hyperbole or overreacting. It’s going to be a very, very tough task for any band to top this album for me this year. Asunojokei managed to create a sound that a lot of bands strive for but haven’t quite hit yet. And while only being just under 25 minutes long, it doesn’t overstay its welcome. Do not sleep on A Bird In The Fault or Asunojokei. They’re doing truly exceptional things.
Pick up A Bird In The Fault from Bandcamp HERE and follow Asunojokei on Twitter HERE!

Album Review: Demo MMXVI by Necrolytic Goat Converter

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Trying to review a demo is like judging a TV show on its first season. Take The Simpsons for example: the first season is rough. It’s full of animation glitches and defects. The jokes are there, but not as perfectly crafted as they would become during season 2 and beyond. This metaphor can be used when looking at a bands demo as well. It’s to be expected that a demo will have a less than stellar recording, but like any good TV show, the moments of genius will shine through.

Demo MMXVI is the first recording from Necrolytic Goat Converter, a one man project from Chris Voss. Using NGC as a way to express his thoughts about depression and isolation, Chris has made an excellent demo for those into 80’s/90’s death metal. The songs all have a mid-paced feel (or what I take as mid-paced in a world of tech-death overload) that wouldn’t feel out of place being played along side Covenant/Domination era Morbid Angel. And while the demo feels like it could be a long lost relic of the last century, the songs have enough modern metal aspect to keep them interesting and memorable. ‘Second Skin’ has a nice melodic middle section that will burrow it’s way into your skull and never leave. It also features a great solo towards the 4 minute mark.
The instrumentation throughout the demo is remarkable. While not being overly showy, the musicianship and competence Chris shows for each instrument is exceptional. The bass and drums (I’m still not 100% sure on whether or not the drums are a drum machine or real) play off of each other well while propping up Chris’s real strength: the guitar playing. Voss knows his way around some riffs. They’re catchy without losing speed or heaviness. I could see a song like ‘Throne Of Cold’ being an early At The Gates song, even down to his almost Tomas Lindberg style vocals.
Lyrically, Voss paints vivid pictures of sadness. “Upon your head there lies a broken crown/You are the King of all you are/There is no hope for absolution/Your soul is ground into the dust/In sunless skies I watch the universe collapse/Beneath the branches of my grave”, from ‘Absolution’, is an exceptional lyric that hits me hard.. It’s sung, as opposed to screamed, and fits well in the overall scheme of what ends up being my favorite song. It’s a doomy death metal jam that is reminiscent of parts of Turn Loose The Swans era My Dying Bride and completely nails the sound and feeling of isolation. The follow up song, ‘The Futility Of Self Revision’, is a great companion piece to ‘Absolution’, as well.
Demo MMXVI isn’t perfect. The sound quality, like most demos, leaves much to be desired. Some stuff muddles together a bit, but nothing that takes away from the enjoyment. And like most first recordings, Voss wears his influenced on his sleeve. But all in all, Demo MMXVI is a stellar beginning to what I hope is a long string of albums from Chris Voss, be it under the Necrolytic Goat Converter name (which I understand is basically a joke name created from a conversation on Facebook) or something else down the line. Voss shows an excellent command of his instruments and I look forward to hearing what he has coming up next.
Album Highlights: Absolution, The Futility Of Self Revision, Throne Of Cold, Withdrawn
You can pick up a digital copy of Demo MMXVI on Bandcamp HERE! It’s up for Pay What You Want, but support Chris so he can make more music!

Album Review: No One Deserves Happiness by The Body

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Even after a good 5 years of listening, The Body are a band that continue to confound me. I don’t mean this in a negative way, but more of a “I’ve listened to this album 50 times and still have no idea what the fuck is happening” kind of way. Their take on doom is usually buried underneath beats and noise, sometimes completely obscuring whatever “normal” instrumentation is taking place.

After a string of collaboration albums, most notably with Thou and Kreig, The Body are back with their first solo full length since 2014’s I Shall Die Here. No One Deserves Happiness is a mindfuck of an album.  Chip King and Lee Buford stated that they were out to make the “grossest pop album of all time”, and they’ve definitely achieved that in spades. Featuring a handful of tracks with Assembly of Light Choir’s Chrissy Wolpert on clean vocals, the album is a pretty weird mix of weird pop and The Body’s typical harsh noise laden doom. The combination almost seems at odds with one another, but after a few listens, No One Deserves Happiness starts to make sense.
Fittingly enough, the most interesting thing about the album are the more pop oriented tracks. Wolpert’s vocals are soothing and add a nice bit of beauty to the ugliness she’s singing over. A track like ‘Adamah’ wouldn’t seem out of place being sung by Bjork. Opening track ‘Wandering’ features a great duet, for lack of a better word, between Wolpert’s clean vocals and King’s buried shrieks. It makes for an interesting opener and definitely had me confused as to whether I had the right album or not for the first minute and a half.
But don’t let all of this talk about clean vocals and pop music fool you, this album is gnarly. The third track, ‘For You’, is the full mode ugliness that’s usually associated with The Body. It’s two and a half minutes of suffocating noise with a brief but welcome drum beat for about 30 seconds in the middle. It’s one of my favorite parts of the album and works as an excellent one-two punch with the following track, ‘Hallow/Hollow.’
Overall, the album works as a whole, but it definitely leaves me wondering how it would be taken if it was split into two EP’s, one for the more pop sounding songs and one for the heavier songs. Either way, fans of The Body won’t disappointed and No One Deserves Happiness adds a new aspect to The Body that should make their future interesting. Their mix of noise, doom, and industrial griminess works wonders when added to pop beats and clean vocals. I’d be really interested in hearing them record an entire album like the more pop oriented songs on No One Deserves Happiness.
Go into this album with an open mind. It’s disorienting and weird and often times wonderful. It’s an album that needs your full attention to pick out the subtle details within. Those willing and patient enough won’t be disappointed.
You can pre-order No One Deserves Happiness at The Body’s Bandcamp page HERE or a plethora of physical packages through Thrill Jockey HERE.
No One Deserves Happiness is out March 18.

Album Review: Crime Traveler by Graf Orlock

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A little background: I’ve been a fan of Graf Orlock since they started their Destination Trilogy. I love the idea behind the band and the “mythology” surrounding how the band came to be. For those unfamiliar, Graf Orlock is a self-described ‘cinema grind’ band. They’re sound is a mix between full fledged grindcore and a bit of late 90’s/early 2000’s emotional hardcore (think Orchid and Reversal Of Man). They use dialogue from movies as lyrics and have samples before, after, and sometimes during their songs. The entier atheistic is fun and they seem like a band that would be a blast to see live.
For their latest full length, Graf Orlock have made something entirely their own. Entitled Crime Traveler, they took it upon themselves to make their own sound clips and lyrics to be the soundtrack to their own movie (I’m not sure if the movie is a real thing that is happening or not, but I’m erring on the side of no). The story of Crime Traveler from Graf Orlock themselves: “The Crime Traveler film tells the story of a French-Canadian assassin who discovers a wormhole and travels back in time to kill American politicians so that Canada can attain superpower status in the future. As the samples selected for the album illustrate, our anti-hero zips through time and space on his mission – rubbing elbows with John Hinckley at the Reagan assassination, witnessing the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and more.”
First thing first: the movie samples are kind of terrible, but I believe they are supposed to be. The acting seems purposely cheesy, as is most of the dialogue. They can sometimes be distracting, but nothing detrimental to enjoying the album. As a long time fan, I know what I’m getting into listening to Graf Orlock, but I can definitely see these samples being off putting if this is your first experience to the band. In fact, before I looked into the lyrics, I had no idea what the plot was supposed to be, but once you dig into the lyrics and know the basic idea behind the album, the samples all make sense.
With that out of the way, let’s get to the most important part: the music. Graf Orlock are in top form on Crime Traveler. Over the last decade, Graf Orlock have honed their skills without ever really changing their sound. But this time around, there seems to be more of an emphasis on slower parts to accentuate their fast parts. The slow middle section of opener ‘Bad Cell Service On Connecticut Avenue’ just makes the beginning sound so much more spastic and makes for an incredible start to the album. In fact, one of the best parts on the album is ‘600,000 Tons Of Explosive Ordinance’. It’s about as close to a slow burner as Graf Orlock gets and works really well while helping to make the faster parts of the album sound even faster. It’s a new and very welcome weapon in the Graf Orlock arsenal.
But enough about the slow. The fast grind parts are where Graf Orlock excel. It’s like the more chaotic and frantic they get, the more at home they feel. Graf Orlock have always melded their grind and hardcore well, and Crime Traveler is no exception. There are sections that feel like they would collapse in less capable hands during parts of ‘Regional Turf War Spills Blood on Vegas Strip’, along with some nice double bass drum parts that border on thrash. The song ‘Nursing A Hangover’ is destined to be a live staple and is easily the best example of what Graf Orlock does best. It’s a full speed ahead grinder that features a nice slow breakdown in the middle. One of the better aspects of the album is that it seems that some of the songs were written with the intent of how they will sound live.
While the album may not be the best thing the band has done, it’s nice to see them doing something new and adding some interesting elements to their sound while still retaining all the parts that make them Graf Orlock. In whole, Crime Traveler sounds like a reinvigorated Graf Orlock. I’m really intrigued to see if this is a one off album, writing and using their own dialogue, or if they go back to using Hollywood films as the base of their songs. Either way, I’m along for the ride.

Album Highlights: Bad Cell Service on Conn Avenue,  A Decent Proposal in a Shitty Alley, Regional Turf War Spills Blood on Vegas Strip, Nursing a Hangover, Cheaper, Safer, and Better Than the Real Thing

You can pick up a digital copy of Crime Traveler from the Vitriol Records Bandcamp page HERE along with everything else Graf Orlock has recorded. 

You can also grab a copy of Crime Traveler on vinyl from the Vitriol webstore HERE. Vitriol and Graf Orlock especially put great effort into their physical media and always come up with something amazing.