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Cripper – Hyëna

December 9th, 2014
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Annie Get Your Growl

In the sub-genre of female-fronted death/thrash metal, the mantra seems to be “anything you can do, I can do better.” Bands like Arch Enemy and Holy Moses have merged with this boys’ club of screaming, growling, extra-speedy and loud metal, and in some cases bested the best. With their fourth studio album, Hyena, North Germany’s Cripper unabashedly cements themselves within these ranks, making it clear that having balls has nothing to do with what’s going on between your legs. Read more…

By Chad Gorn Posted in Reviews

Ariel Pink – pom pom

November 28th, 2014
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Not Just for Weirdness’ Sake

There are various reasons an artist may create an eccentric alter-ego. Some use it as an opportunity to veer away from the mainstream. Some are intrinsically introverted, and they need a façade to be able to appear in public. Some are legitimately eccentric, and some may worry that they won’t be heard otherwise. LA’s Ariel Pink (ne Ariel Marcus Rosenberg) combines the last two – he is, to put it kindly, an odd duck, and his peculiar brand of weirdo-pop is consistent with his persona. One without the other would be incongruous and confusing. On his latest LP, pom pom, Ariel Pink shows why his approach is both effective and polarizing: you love him or you hate him, but either way, he gets a reaction. Read more…

By Chad Gorn Posted in Reviews

Antony and the Johnsons – Turning

November 20th, 2014
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Words In Need of Pictures

Antony and the Johnsons’ live album Turning is the denouement to the series of pieces that began as performance art collaboration between Antony Hegarty in 2006 with filmmaker Charles Atlas. In the original, repurposed images of 13 women (”beauties” as Hegarty called them) with a history of difficult life experiences were projected against a backdrop of Hegarty’s sobering and emotional chamber music. Their beauty contradicted their lives, and this juxtaposition was the crux of Turning. Atlas directed a documentary of the tour, and finally, Hegarty released this album of the isolated audio performances from the tour. Whether or not the music alone translates to a work of art itself is dependent upon the listener’s familiarity with the Hagerty; he is either a mesmerizing artist or a bore. Read more…

By Chad Gorn Posted in Reviews

Liv Kristine – Vervain

November 13th, 2014
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Searching in Vain

Heavy metal frontwomen tend to fall into one of two categories: the scratchy, tough Joan Jett-esque rock stars, and the operatic “what’s she doing singing metal?” types. Norwegian vixen Liv Kristine falls into the latter group. In most cases, this over-singing is more effective when it is used sparingly, perhaps as backing vocals. On her fifth album, Vervain, Kristine displays talent and control as a singer as well as an instinct for lush and large melodies as a songwriter, but the album as a whole comes across as too serious and too big for its own good. Read more…

By Chad Gorn Posted in Reviews

Nude Beach – 77

November 1st, 2014
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In The Garage Where I Belong

Anyone can play garage rock; that’s implied in the sub-genre’s name. All you need is three friends, a case of PBR and a garage. Oh — and some instruments. The implication is that the fun is not in the creating or the listening, but in the playing. The downside, of course, is that you may not find an audience for your indulgences save the neighbors and their dogs. New York’s Nude Beach is, for the most part, an exception to this. Their latest effort, 77, is filled with well-crafted pop songs delivered with raw intensity that make you want to stay and have another beer. Read more…

By Chad Gorn Posted in Reviews

Zola Jesus – Taiga

October 23rd, 2014
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The Taiga Sheds Its Stripes

Electronic ambient music doesn’t get much more pop than Zola Jesus, the nom de stage of Nika Roza Danilova. Since her 2009 debut, The Spoils, she has mixed the aforementioned elements with goth, classical and industrial meanderings. On each album, she has become more focused and less experimental. Her latest LP, Taiga, may be her most accessible release to date, and it will be up to her fans to determine if that’s a good or bad thing. Read more…

By Chad Gorn Posted in Reviews

Dominhate – Towards the Light

October 9th, 2014
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Light Within the Darkness

Hailing from Pordenone, Italy, Dominhate attempts to innovate within a genre that defies innovation. With their debut LP, Towards the Light, this death metal four-piece mixes up tempo changes, melodies and vocal rhythms in a way that sets them apart from their brethren. They do not pretend to cross over into any other genres, though, which will ensure they do not alienate any potential fans coming their way expecting to be aurally assaulted. Read more…

By Chad Gorn Posted in Reviews

My Brightest Diamond – This is My Hand

October 1st, 2014
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…My Very Heavy Hand

Once in a while, you come across music that is so non-categorizable that you can’t form an opinion. You can’t say you don’t like it or that it’s without merit, but at the same time you can’t say you want to listen to it again. My Brighest Diamond is such an act. Shara Worden mixes chamber music, prog rock, operatic stylings and cabaret into one baffling blur of sounds. On her fifth album, This is My Hand, this kitchen-sink delivery continues, and the experience is dictated wholly by the listener’s expectations and mood. Read more…

By Chad Gorn Posted in Reviews

Hod – Book of the Worm

September 20th, 2014
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Honoring Obsequious Derivations, Perhaps?

First and foremost, Hod would like you to know that their name is not an initialism. It is not H.O.D. It’s Hod. It doesn’t stand for anything. The same cannot be said for this San Antonio five-piece grindcore metal band. They stand for the anyone who is not afraid to take their metal to the most extreme. They stand for anyone who is willing to look beyond macabre lyrics and uncover the frivolity within. Their second full-length, Book of the Worm, does not break new ground or provide a compelling reason to listen, but it is a solid collection of fast, loud, screaming metal. Read more…

By Chad Gorn Posted in Reviews

Accept – Blind Rage

August 27th, 2014
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Meaty, Juicy Goodness

Accept is to heavy metal what Friendly’s is to fine dining. While it’s nice to enjoy a meal prepared with care and skill, sometimes you just want a fucking hamburger. Germany’s original headbangers have been presenting the same menu for nearly 35 years, and while it’s reasonable to push it aside in favor of more flavorful options, the comfortable and steady will always have customers. Their latest, Blind Rage, is another eleven songs of fist-pounding, flag-waving arena rock, delivered without irony or apology. Read more…

By Chad Gorn Posted in Reviews