It Might Not Be Metal But It Makes Metal What It Is

It Might Not Be Metal But It Makes Metal What It Is
By Dark Juan

It might surprise you all to hear that you are just as likely to find me listening to Cabaret Voltaire or Siousxie And The Banshees or some obscure Disco classic, as you are to discover me spinning the latest Metal platter. This is because it took me rather a long time to understand that most forms of music have some redeeming qualities, and that it furthers and broadens your understanding of the righteous faith and the One True Path that is Heavy Metal to listen to other styles and forms of music – as an example, all round superb gentleman, rock singer extraordinaire and my musical hero Mr. Graham Bonnet, a man whose CV is peerless and includes stints with Rainbow, Alcatrazz, Impellitteri, and MSG as well as being a solo artist beyond compare, started his musical career being a backing vocalist for the Bee Gees as well as performing in the decidedly not Metal The Marbles, before finding the One True Path. 

I have frequently trumpeted my thoughts about the Metal fan who confines him / her or their self only to Metal missing out on some of the things that made Metal what it is (the likes of Sir Lord Baltimore and Coven, Free and The Doors, Ten Years After and Atomic Rooster, Blue Oyster Cult and Iron Butterfly) and form the bedrock for everything that is Metal today – whether or not that might be Five Finger Death Punch or Anaal Nathrakh. This music of the past is still relevant because it is the living history of Metal and without it, and the bands and performers who played it, Metal would not exist.

There’s hardly any species of music out there which has had close to zero, or at least a marginal influence on Heavy Metal, and I am here to tell you that all forms of music are just as viable and exciting as Metal if you listen with an uncritical ear. Disco and Funk are ridiculously complex compositions that require incredible dexterity and skill from the musicians playing them. Disco and Funk is where the bass player shines, as some of the basslines are phenomenally complicated and they are what drives the whole platform-soled shebang. 

Synthwave is the neon-dripping sound of the 80’s action movie and the musclebound lead man quipping his way through the thousands of enemies he is mowing down with his M60 machine gun and leads you down paths of nostalgia for early 80’s TV shows involving customised helicopters / cars / motorcycles or soldiers of fortune being captured and fortuitously imprisoned in a large metal barn with a fully functional vehicle and all the scrap metal and welding and cutting gear (including masks and gauntlets) you could ever wish for if you had a requirement to escape said capture in an armoured battlewagon. And they are left alone to do this without any form of check on them because they are making so much noise while they do a bit of frontier metalwork. 

Psychedelia took the basic building blocks of the Blues and Rock ‘N’ Roll, then ingested a bath-load of LSD and then recorded the subsequent, cosmic, rainbow-hued results and used them to foment social change in an America that was rooted in traditional values and violently opposed to any form of social development that didn’t involve women knowing their places and a shirt and tie being worn. See McCarthyism. Without the hippie, you wouldn’t have the Metalhead, so remember that the next time you’re sparking up a joint and having a beer and give thanks for free love and respect. After all, they are still values that the Metalhead cherishes, otherwise the mosh pit would be a brutal and anarchic place where injury and suffering would be commonplace, rather than the good-natured bump-a-thon where everyone helps if someone goes down. Apart from pit killers. Those tiny-dicked buttnuggets can get to fuck. 

Without the Post-Punk, the Goth Rock and New Wave, you wouldn’t have the entire Gothic or Emo aesthetic and love of exploring the darker side of humanity and feelings that are a central plank of just what this thing called Heavy Metal is. Without the initial explorations into electronics that Delia Derbyshire, Kraftwerk, Throbbing Gristle and Whitehouse pioneered there would be no Industrial, no Nu-Metal, no Neue Deutsche Harte, no Stadium Rock, no Limp Bizkit (granted, this would not be a bad thing. Dammit, Delia Derbyshire, why couldn’t you have picked up a skillet instead of a Moog?) or Linkin Park, or Ministry. 

Even Pop has its place within Metal, when you hear backing vocals or a particularly perfect melody – Bon Jovi, for example, and to a lesser extent Ghost owe lots of their sound to Pop music – ABBA are a pervasive influence on those worthy Swedish Satanists as they are to Bon Jovi and other stadium-friendly rockers and metallers. Roky Erickson is an influence on any Metal band who has listened to guitar music at any point in the past fifty years – Even Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) can be proved to have had an impact on contemporary Metal at some point when Ugly Kid Joe of all people covered ‘Cats In The Cradle’. Just look at some of the Metal covers of classic Pop songs:

  • Rammstein covering Depeche Mode’s ‘Stripped’.
  • Ghost covering ABBA’s ‘I’m A Marionette’ and Roky Erickson’s ‘If You Have Ghosts’.
  • Disturbed butchering…. I mean covering Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘The Sound Of Silence’ and Genesis’ ‘Land Of Confusion’ and very famously, Tears For Fears’ ‘Shout’.
  • Marilyn Manson covering every Pop song ever written – Soft Cell’s ‘Tainted Love’, Eurythmics’ ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)’, Depeche Mode’s ‘Personal Jesus’.
  • Nine Inch Nails covering Adam Ant’s ‘Physical’.
  • Urge Overkill covering Neil fucking Diamond’s ‘Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon’.
  • And, of course, the best cover version of all time, being a gloriously over-the-top Scandinavian Folk Metal band covering a British/ German Disco Funk song – this being Turisas doing their barnstorming version of Boney M’s ‘Rasputin’.

Even the more extreme side of Metal has got on the Pop bandwagon – Surely the absolute, arse-puckering horror that was the cover version of Heaven 17’s ‘Temptation’ by Cradle Of Filth and their priapic little howler monkey of a vocalist is burned on the psyche of every Metal fan, never to be spoken of again? My Dying Bride turning Simon and Garfunkel’s version of  ‘Scarborough Fair’ into a miserable Yorkshire dirge? Well, my friends, I can easily fucking top that psychological torture for you – Even The Berzerker, erstwhile hyperextreme Australian blenders of Grindcore and Gabba Techno decided to hop on to the Pop cover bandwagon with a most esoteric choice of song. 

Yes, The Berzerker elected to do a cover version of ‘All The Things She Said’ by Russian faux-teen, school uniform-wearing pretend lesbians T.a.T.u. This went exactly as you might imagine. It sounded like someone putting up a metal shed really quickly with a man grunting in a most inappropriate fashion considering the subject matter of teenage schoolgirl lesbian shenanigans.

My point, then, is that Metal has a lot of diverse and, upon initial inspection, undesirable influences. The ultimate point is that there are NO undesirable influences, regardless of what your viewpoint is on Trap Metal. If you want Metal to not be stagnant, then you must accept that Urban music is going to creep in there, as well as other styles. I mean, hell, if you’re prepared to accept a bunch of shrieking Japanese fake-teen idol girls battering the senses with a mix of kawaii J-Pop antics and Metal, and I know a lot of you are, you can accept Nik NXK or Sam Astaroth roaring at you over Urban beats. 

Metal EVOLVES. Metal has sucked in everything from the Blues to Classical music over the decades (Whitesnake, The Quireboys, The Black Crowes, Guns N’ Roses to Yngwie J. Malmsteen, Nightwish, Dream Theater, Rhapsody Of Fire), twisted them out of all recognition (Stoner and Doom have strong links to Blues music) and they have become new versions of Metal. Look at the explosion of Rap Metal in the 90’s – Public Enemy and Anthrax discovered that the two styles can mix and mix explosively, leading to a flurry of copyists, but with a few unique and viable bands coming out of it. Thrash Metal is Metal and Punk colliding and the likes of Carnivore and Nuclear Assault amply demonstrate this by sounding distinctly different from traditional Metal bands like Accept, Iron Maiden or W.A.S.P. Hell, even the band that supposedly started it all, Black Sabbath, don’t believe that they are all that Metal, with Tony Iommi himself describing their sound as “Heavy Blues”.

It is instructive to listen to music other than Metal in order to further your understanding of Metal and Extreme music. Henceforth, I would like to share with you a few of the songs that I enjoy, that aren’t anything to do with Heavy Metal per se, but have had an influence upon it, but most importantly, they are just absolutely brilliant music.

‘Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight)’ – ABBA. The absolute pinnacle of 70’s Pop music. Lushly produced with an absolutely earth-shaking chorus and hook and performed with gusto and enthusiasm by a bunch of people who had raided the bonus bins of Nylon clothes manufacturers for their stage outfits.

‘Young Girl’ – Gary Puckett & The Union Gap. Listen to the lyrics. They are well dodgy and a precursor to Dark Angel’s ‘The Death Of Innocence’. It’s also a superb vocal performance throughout the song and it has uncommon power and presence. Even if it is slightly uncomfortable listening to the protagonist contemplating boffing jailbait, but as a misguided but ultimately well-meaning attempt to drag the horror of paedophilia into mainstream thought it’s a good one.

‘Animal’ – Aurora. Neurodiverse Norwegian semi-feral pixie is dragged out of her native forests, still with leaves in her hair, and proceeds to beguile and panic the listener with cheerful-sounding tinkly-bop Dance Pop with a lyric that could only be described as “Fucking Metal”. Should be well known to the Metal fan because of her contributions to Wardruna. See also ‘In Boxes’ and listen carefully to the lyrics there too. The lass is a bit of a dangerous one.

‘Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon’ – Neil Diamond. A powerhouse vocal performance on this song, again about a young lady not yet being legal for shenanigans of a sexual nature, shows the versatility of a simple melody and guitar line intertwining and clearly demonstrates that less really can be more when it comes to composition.

‘One Night In Bangkok’ – Murray Head. An utterly batshit song from a batshit musical (Chess), performed in a batshit fashion by Murray Head, and written (incredibly) by ABBA’s Benny and Bjorn, this is an absolutely out to lunch song about playing chess around the world set to some of the most danceable Electro-Pop the Eighties had to offer. A proto Hip-Hop Rock crossover because of Head’s vocal performance on the verses, it’s a curiosity that absolutely has a grip on my musical tastes.

‘Tokoloshe Man’ – John Kongos. A clear contender to show just where Rock music and Psychedelia first crossed over, this is a muscular and dynamic tune that is a close, yet utterly different contemporary to the Jimi Hendrix Experience, with a strong Folk and Blues bent underneath the amplification, yet it is clearly a bona-fide attempt to create Hard Rock.

‘Baker Street’ and ‘Night Owl’ – Gerry Rafferty. The eight-bar sax line on the former by Raphael Ravenscroft is well known, but I wish to draw your attention to the absolutely incendiary guitar solo by Hugh Burns. A man who brought emoting on that instrument to a whole new level, it is an absolute piece of guitar mastery that showed that even Rock music had oodles of soul and feeling, and the lyrics occupy a very bleak place in the human psyche. ‘Night Owl’ is similar. The subject of the lyrics is a lonely soul indeed looking for an indefinable SOMETHING and is therefore easily able to elucidate the alienation that most fans of Extreme music have suffered at some point in their lives.

‘Whip In My Valise’ – Adam Ant. A song that is sleazy and scary in equal measure. The influence on Metal of the album ‘Dirk Wears White Sox’ is small yet pervasive. Without Adam Ant, there would be no Nine Inch Nails, Society 1 or Genitorturers. Lo-fi Punk production plus the limitations of Ant’s voice limit the impact of the whole thing until you listen to it carefully.

‘Das Modell’ – Kraftwerk. The starting point of all modern German Pop music and the precursor to all Neue Deutsche Harte, along with NEU! Experimental and curiously detached from humanity, yet still capable of surprising warmth, Kraftwerk were true innovators in music and their influence is still heavy in Electronica of most forms.

‘House Of The Rising Sun’ – The Animals. I don’t need to tell you about this all-time classic that has been covered by many a Metal band with varying degrees of success. Even Five Finger Death Punch have had a stab at it. Poorly.

‘California Dreamin’’ – The Mamas And The Papas. When hippies finally went proper Rock ‘N’ Roll and created a song that transcended itself in so many ways it was comfortable with a mainstream audience, rockers, hippies and even parents.

There are many, many more songs and artists in my collection that I could tell you about that have had some form of influence on our beloved Metal, but I shall leave you with this – 

“There’s so much music for you to choose, so don’t just be a Metal dude. It’s cool, fool.”

This from American Thrash maestros Sacred Reich, on their clunky, ham-fisted but ultimately well-meaning Funk song, ‘31 Flavors’ that was released on their classic album “The American Way”. They said it better than I ever could.

Go and expand your minds and you’ll find a new appreciation of Metal sitting at the end of your musical rainbow. Goodnight.

Disclaimer: This article is solely the property of Dark Juan and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Seething Akira – Nozomi

Nozomi Album Cover Art

Seething Akira – Nozomi
FiXT Music
Release Date: 11/11/22
Review by Dark Juan
Running Time: 38:40
7/10

Rather annoyingly, Shell Energy Broadband has more dropouts than the cast of an American high school slasher and it has been presenting me with difficulties with uploading fantastic new reviews for you, the beautiful people out there, to happily peruse. Combined with the bout of COVID bastardness which is still affecting your good correspondent with extreme fatigue and a work schedule that has been somewhat punishing, even the good work of keeping the world in touch with the Metal underground has been too challenging recently and I was forced to take a break from writing while I reclaimed enough energy to write again. However, I have sufficiently pissed myself and Mrs Dark Juan off by doing nothing to clamp on the cans and tackle the increasingly extensive review list I have. 

Today, we are remaining in jolly old Blighty and revelling in the stylings of a band from the (shudder) South of England, specifically Portsmouth. There’s a Portsmouth in West Yorkshire too, on the way to Burnley, but I can’t for the life of me understand why it is called Portsmouth because it IS NOT NEAR ANY FUCKING PORTS, and this fact pisses me off more than I can hope to explain to you. Nevertheless, I have now conquered my ire and I am ready to share views and opinions about talented people and their art again…

Seething Akira are a band of diverse and wide-ranging influences and it is important to note this from the beginning as they frequently take their music down unusual and challenging paths – these British bruisers gleefully smash Nu-Metal, Metalcore, Electronic Dance Music, Industrial, Emo and Drum and Bass together, shock it back to life with egregious amounts of amplification, set it loose upon unsuspecting record reviewers and sit there giggling like schoolgirls as said record reviewer tries desperately to make some sense of their day-glo painted Frankenstinian horror.

There’s a perfectly charming thirty-odd second opener that’s all synthwavey and gorgeous with female choral singing, and then the band crash into ‘Never Permanent’, keyboards chopping from left to right in my headphones and then…. Electric alchemy. Guitars slam into the back brain, and a very Emo vocal gives way to a (very Southern England-accented) Hardcore shouty bit, and then a staccato keyboard break links into a lighters-aloft chorus. It’s very glossy, highly polished stuff that will appeal greatly to any baby goths or Emos and people who also appreciate their Metal being a little different from the norm. This sad old goff is quite enjoying himself with Seething Akira’s music. It offers dimensions that Metal sometimes doesn’t. ‘Metaphors’ amply displays this – with a kawaii female vocal sample giving way to a punishing tempo and some fucking angry shouting and some pretty fucking stellar guitar work. The sample comes back in the break and forms the backbone to a pretty awesome Drum and Bass based (see what I did there?) second movement in the song. Also, absolutely COLOSSAL break with Star Wars laser noises and all sorts. This song is the highlight of the album, being bouncy and joyous and yet still possessing a spine of steel.

“Fuck it, let’s take the risk!” is a lyric from the aforementioned song and it could be Seething Akira’s motto as they ride wildly over genre and type and do donuts over the remains of them. However, next comes a bit of a weak point in ‘Lost At Sea’ where the guys channel their inner Britpop mop-tops for the chorus and verse and the noisier shouty bits feel a bit… Contrived really, but the keyboard work on this tune is fucking epic.

‘Internal Antagonist’ resets the balance though, with a meaty-as-fuck Metalcore / Nu-Metal stomper that should see pit virgins worrying for their personal safety, and with a massive chorus and absolutely slamming Drum and Bass break to boot that is melded seamlessly into the Metal to finish the song off.

I ended that last paragraph having written exactly six hundred and sixty-six words, which was incredibly pleasing.

This is a very intriguing album indeed, sonically, too. The production is some of the best work I have ever heard clarity-wise with every instrument perfectly placed in the mix and the vocals also forward, but not overpoweringly so, in the final work. Keyboard breaks and Drum and Bass sections join perfectly into the overall sound and the drums themselves (can’t tell whether they are sequenced or not – possibly they are) and the writing of the music is pretty fucking awesome as it melds influences that really shouldn’t work together but do – ‘Something In The Water’ transitions from Drum and Bass into an oh-so-very-Metal guitar solo and just works. The problem is that there is very little soul in the sound of the album – it is too clean and polished and there is a bit of a lack of quality control – ‘Frequencies’ is a pretty generic sounding Rap Metal shoutalong with added electronic wibbly bits and the chorus is rather bland and uninteresting.

Otherwise, it’s pretty good fun – the joining of Metal and Drum and Bass is an awesome sounding combo and reminds me somewhat of Cubanate and their attempted fusing of Metal and Techno, but I feel Seething Akira have tried to market to a more mainstream Metal crowd. And that might be their problem – the mainstream Metal audience is notoriously conservative and Seething Akira’s sound might prove too challenging for the bullet belt and black jeans brigade. If you’re willing to take a risk, though, Seething Akira are pretty fucking good technicolour, day-glo fun. You can dance and mosh – frequently in the same song.

Remember how I said ‘Metaphors’ was the highlight of the album? It shares that honour with ‘Dioxide’ that chucks an absolutely fucking slamming Drum and Bass keyboard bit into the mix that the guitar follows, and the result is something so breathtakingly bludgeoning that it has immediately found its way into Dark Juan’s favourite songs. But this is also the problem with quality control rearing its head again – if the band are capable of this absolute supremacy, why are they also writing heavier Britpop songs? And the terribly self-serving rap on ‘Reason To Breathe’ just sets this reviewer’s teeth on edge, even if it is about a baby girl. In fact, the whole song is tawdry Emo bollocks. Bleurgh.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System awards Seething Akira 7/10 for a record of extreme peaks and troughs. When it is great its fucking sublime, and when the quality drops it is frankly horrible. Thankfully the good outweighs the bad.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Never Permanent (Intro)
02. Never Permanent
03. Metaphors
04. Lost At Sea
05. Internal Antagonist
06. Something In The Water (Intro)
07. Something In The Water
08. Frequencies
09. Punishment Instructions
10. Dioxide
11. Reason To Breathe
12. Stars

LINE-UP:
Kit Conrad – Vocals
Charlie Bowes – Vocals
Richard Ellis – Bass
Simon Williams – Guitar
John Corney – Guitar

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Scattered Storm – In This Dying Sun EP

In This Dying Sun Album Cover Art

Scattered Storm – In This Dying Sun EP
Bloodblast Distribution
Release Date: 11/11/22
Running Time: 21:12
Review by Dark Juan
9/10

It is the time again where I regale you with tales of derring-do, adventure and debauchery, dear hearts. 

Except I have done none of those things and have instead endured a three-and-a-half-hour team meeting about the young people I wrangle and the urge to off myself in the messiest, most attention-grabbing manner became increasingly urgent the longer the fucking thing went on. Saying that though, there were chocolate flapjacks and brownies and these helped to reduce my desire to blow myself into tiny, sticky pieces by raising my blood sugar to heart threatening levels considering I was hoarding them in my lap and snarling viciously at any of the rest of my team who came within three metres. I might actually have bitten my manager. Apparently I am to visit HR in the head office on Tuesday morning to explain why a) I had taken a live WWII potato masher grenade to work with me, and b) why my manager has teeth marks in her left thigh with bits of chocolate in them. It’s not for the reason you think, you sick puppies.

For reasons of brevity, and the ACTUAL reason you read this shit, I must tell you about Scattered Storm – the subjects of this slanderous scribbling, who are from El Paso, Texas, in the U.S.A. “In This Dying Sun” is a five track extended player and is the band’s second recorded release, after 2021’s “Oblivion” EP and it is not half bad, boys, girls and all other genders (or lack of them). I still refuse to acknowledge, although I am an ally and champion of the LGBTQIA+ community, and am blessed to be friends with people from that community, anyone who identifies as anything stupid, like a cat, or the headquarters building of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, or the Iowa-Class battleship U.S.S. Missouri, and expect me to go along with their delusions are barking up an entire fucking forest of wrong trees, friends. You’re not a sodding Leyland Atlantean double-decker bus in GMPTE 1980s livery. You’re a FUCKING PERSON. Otherkin are weird. So are furries. They get spoogy and that horrible word conveys an entire universe of unpleasant sticky discomfort and a stratospheric specialist laundry bill.

Wow. That went off-piste pretty fucking quickly, didn’t it?

The EP opens with ‘Bloody Love’ and this listener is immediately struck by the band’s sound, being a fairly bewitching intermix of the Cyber Metal of Fear Factory, the Prog of Mastodon and Meshuggah and the frothing rage of Pissing Razors (unsurprisingly as Andre Acosta (vox) is a Pissing Razors alumnus) and the punishing tempo and unhinged roaring of the verse gives way to a barrel-chested clean and harmonized vocal after some gentle guitar work and electronic twinkling. It’s a violent, twisting piece of music – all augmented muscle and bulging veins and it’s a hell of a way to introduce yourself to a poor, unsuspecting British rock hack. This tune will instantly be going on to the Dark Juan Spotify Playlist Of Doom And Horror because I am poor and can’t afford to buy records. 

‘The Process’ is the next song on offer and it is again Acosta barking vitriol interspersed with clean singing and a complex arrangement played on guitars that have more strings than they need to – lots of deep-B chugging, horror tinged electronics and a nasty, wounded attitude abound on this song that is, and I quote, “About our evolution as human beings and how the systematic process imposed by our daily routines has left us empty, slaving into the future with no sense of self. Basically just being cattle being pulled from one end to the other and not having a say about it. Ultimately trying to break free and set the process on fire.”

Indeed. It would not be wise to question these rather angry Americans.

The third song on the EP is called ‘Hollow’ and showcases the more Prog side of the band, with plaintive, clean vocals sounding like the wailing of a broken heart and a (very slightly) less aggressive sound from the rest of the band, the middle eight sounding like a more organic, pistoning Fear Factory before the song transitions through chiming guitars, clean soaring harmonies and a bit of counter-beat showing off and at the end of the song there is an echoey keyboard bit that is very reminiscent of Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails being vulnerable. This song is a show of the band’s considerable chops and it is an absolute blinder, being about the process of putting yourself back together after being utterly mentally destroyed and rather successfully dragging the listener through that process in musical form.

On to the fourth offering, which is the title track and is simply a song about the fact that us humans are fucking the planet beyond repair because all the neurotypicals and the decent folk have basically let the psychopaths become the leaders of men, the politicians and the captains of industry and they don’t give two shits about anything apart from power and profit. The song itself is a fairly straight Metal blaster that reminds your correspondent of a more organic, less polished Fear Factory. This is not an insult – although it sounds like Fear Factory’s brand of mirror shiny Metal, it has a more pulsing, organic, biomechanical feel rather than being technology-driven. A hydraulic piston constructed out of bone and cartilage and having specially-adapted blood lubricating it, if you will. 

The final song on this considerably better than I thought it was on the first listen record is ‘Seen’ and it represents everything that has gone before – Cyber Metal gives way to Prog and Math Metal and the whole coruscates around a core riff and morphs and weaves its way around your psyche in a way that modern metal sometimes fails to do. It has a warm, womb-like quality that is difficult to describe.

All in all, this is a superbly written, admirably performed and excellently produced EP. The production is wonderful, every single little china cymbal hit, rimshot and hi-hat can be clearly heard, even though there’s some SERIOUS downtuning going on and the overall guitar sound is analogous to having your head turned to jelly between boulders. 

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System has to be honest with you and tell you that upon the initial listen to this EP, it was not paying sufficient attention and was prepared from the first song to just write them off as a run of the mill quasi-Fear Factory. How wrong the Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System was, as this EP is fucking magnificent. 9/10 for a record that absolutely repays multiple listens, such is its depth and complexity…

TRACKLISTING:
01. Bloody Love 
02. The Process 
03. Hollow 
04. In this Dying Sun 
05. Seen 

LINE-UP:
Jay Arriaga – Drums, Keyboards, Samples
Kevin Armstrong – Guitar
Brian Fausnaugh – Bass
Andre Acosta – Vocals

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Locrian – Archive 3: Visible/Invisible

Archive 3 Visible Invisible Album Cover Art

Locrian – Archive 3: Visible/Invisible
Self-Released

Release Date: 08/11/22
Review by Dark Juan
Running Time: 42:16
9/10

Welcome to yet more possibly terrifying ranting. I am Dark Juan, and I have returned to the Keyboard Of Eternal Peril to share thoughts and ruminations with you all, and also to exhort you all, my dear readers, to follow the Righteous paths of Heavy Metal, other extreme music and to tread upon the Left Hand Path. Let’s face it, the Christians aren’t doing a very good job of their stewardship of the planet, are they? Their spineless God does nothing to intervene when his supposed children are busily trying off each other despite the prayers, protestations, exhortations and pleading of the faithful. Lucifer would be much more effective at keeping us all in check with a well-placed fireball or two… 

Today’s listening would not be the soundtrack to any form of apocalypse, unless it was a long, drawn-out ecological one where everyone died gently of an overload of CO2. I am listening to “Archive 3: Visible/Invisible’” by Locrian (who you will all no doubt recall released an album of singular brilliance earlier in the year – https://www.ever-metal.com/2022/08/31/locrian-new-catastrophism/ being the link you NEED to click if this piece of descriptive writing is not enough for you, greedy guts) and this release represents the first studio session Locrian ever recorded, way back in 2006, when they were just an ambient, experimental duo, together with a live rendition of ‘Visible/Invisible’ (this record is composed of the title track, the title track reversed, and the aforementioned live version). This is clearly inspired by the Brian Eno/Robert Fripp collaborative album “No Pussyfooting” which included songs reduced to half speed and other permutations therein. You might think that this release would be quite boring because it is all the same music times three, wouldn’t you?

First, you have to take this release in context – this is the sound of a band making their initial explorations into the outer edges of music and should be considered as such. That taken into account, certain rough edges and overstepping the boundaries of music into self-indulgent noodling can be discounted as this release represents a raw form of the brilliance that was distilled into “New Catastrophism”. The opening version of ‘Visible/Invisible’ starts with a gentle, warm drone and this continues for some time before anything changes, whereupon other elements of electronic sound, feedbacking electric instruments and an underlying bass moan gently feed into the spinal, slowly organically pulsing drone that is unchanging and unending. Eventually, an electric guitar driven groan adds power and the music changes from ambient, dimly lit, safe-sounding drone into a light filled, explosive concentration of power. It’s almost as if the music is being birthed from a musical womb – from safety, security and the nurturing warmth of mother into a world of fluorescent lights, machines, noise and cold. As I listened to this tune, I found my own heartbeat syncing to the pulsating of the original electronic drone. Then the Dread Lord, Sir Igor Egbert Bryan Clown-Shoe Cleavage-Hoover started barking and fucking ruined the ambience for me, the absolute twunt.

On to ‘Visible/Invisible Reverse’ then, where the entire vibe is turned on its head and it confuses me. The heavier, guitar driven noise starts the track, and then all the elements that took so long to build up on the original version are equally slowly stripped away, and this leaves a bleak, empty feeling to the work, whereas the un-reversed version is indicative of life/birth. It indicates to my admittedly twisted, abused and ruined psyche that it is the sound of entropic decay – vibrant, loud, brash sounds dying slowly off until there is only the underlying drone that has been undermining everything throughout the music left, until that too fades out and there is only the silence of quantum decay as the very building blocks of physical existence are consumed by entropy. After the organic life breaks down and is consumed, then it’s inorganic life until planets, moons and then entire stars disappear, then entire star systems, galaxies and then interstellar gases and bodies until there is nothing left except featureless black, devoid of all known matter. And then entropy starts on the metaphysical – time itself begins to unravel and break apart. Entropy then feeds on itself when there is nothing left to consume – eventually leaving an inimitable, unimaginable nothing.

I need to get out more. Jesus. That’s bleak.

There’s also a live version which adds yet more dynamics to the original work, the live work being some double the length of the recorded version. Granted, there are certain limitations in the live setting which robs the work of some of the intricacy of the recorded versions, yet it has a whole new vibrancy and LIFE. The performance starts with a tolling bell entirely absent from the recorded versions before the pulsating drone begins. The tune is slightly faster than the recorded work, and things happen in a slightly more busy fashion, building to e-bow solos, heavy, throbbing bass, guitars fading in and out of structured passages and eventually building into a harsh and uncompromising wall of noise that has little to do with music, before the decay sets in and everything eventually drops back out until there is just the bell, tolling mournfully into the outer darkness, until entropy claims that too and it fades, still tolling stubbornly and forlornly into the black.

Well. That has been an experience, and no mistake. When I first heard this album I was prepared to write it off as a kind of initial exploration and rejection of music by people who were, frankly, a little up themselves thinking that they were superior to well-established musical norms. However, that would be being fucking horrible to a very talented band who are adept (and appear to have been since day one) at deconstructing music and recreating it in forms that are pleasing to otherworldly creatures and those of us who understand music at its most basic level. Locrian have bewitched and bedazzled me once again, and it appears that they have been able to do it since day one.

The demerits are few and aren’t really negative. Yet again, this release is only going to find an extremely limited audience, as it is intelligent music that doesn’t have to rely on shouting, screaming and absolute hairy-chested muscularity to be powerful. It is a swirling maelstrom rather than a machine-gun percussive assault and yet more proof that music can be heavy without being Metal. If you’re feeling introspective and a little bit down don’t listen to Locrian. If you fancy expanding your mind and your listening, Dark Juan ABSOLUTELY recommends Locrian to your attention. I think of them as a kind of more mechanical, metallic companion to the likes of Ozric Tentacles, Cyborg Ambient if you will.

I’m off to go and drink something alcoholic and listen to Murray Head’s ‘One Night In Bangkok’ and ‘The Safety Dance’ by Men Without Hats to reset my mental state after Locrian have got me thinking about the heat death of the entire universe.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System awards Locrian 9/10 for this album of their early and pioneering work. A mark has been deducted for the record not really being Metal (although I would consider it extreme) and for the fact that Locrian will achieve an audience that is a mere fraction of the one that they should rightly achieve. And that is not fair.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Visible/Invisible
02. Visible/Invisible Reverse
03. Visible/Invisible (Live)

LINE-UP:
Terence Hannum – Synthesizers, Vocals, Tape Loops
André Foisy – Guitars, Electronics
Steven Hess – Drums, Electronics  

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Epectase – Nécroses

Nécroses Album Cover Art

Epectase – Nécroses
Frozen Records
Release Date: 18/11/22
Running Time: 44:24
Review by Dark Juan
10/10

Having such a misanthropic personality as your favourite ersatz rock hack does, it really does make you realise the value of friends who look beyond the impenetrable wall of sarcasm and withering hate you publicly display. They are few in number, but very dear to me and understand that sometimes there will be years between communications, yet when you actually do get in touch it is like you have never been separated. These are precious times indeed and it has been a while since I wrote to you all out there about the importance of friends – or, as I like to characterize them, the people who you choose to be your extended family simply because they are as fucked in the head as you are. Whatever the reason, friends are a resource beyond value, and true friends will always be a bulwark (rhymes with bollock. I am SUCH a child) behind which you can rest or recuperate or fight. However, you should not let yourself be fucked with. A true friend will never fuck with you, or if they are, they are joking. They will not willingly hurt or betray you. Hence, I choose to keep my circle small and the majority of my thoughts to myself. Life is easier that way. Hell, this is rather more introspective than usual and also rather more serious and we can’t be having that, can we?

Tits. Fanny. Massive bouncy bollocks. Flange. Mudflaps. Gristle missile. One-eyed trouser snake. Corned beef curtains. Baby gravy. Man fat. Punched lasagna. 

That feels better.

If you regularly read the stream of consciousness wank I write, you’ll know I am something of a champion of the French Metal scene (it has given us P.H.O.B.O.S, Rostres, and the clearly dangerously unstable Esoctrilihum among others) having lived there and found it an extremely young yet vibrant scene, chock full of grand folk and superb, out-there music that has a curiously un-Gallic propensity for exploration of styles and for the amalgamation of same and it is with considerable interest I bring you my latest thoughts about the latest band from those shores that I am currently listening to. Yes, on the spinning splatter platter today I am experiencing the stylings of Epectase. I say experiencing because the nearest translation I can think of and having, because my French is serviceable but by no means fluent, consulted a couple of online translators, Epectase appears to mean orgasm or climax. Unless it is Romanian, then it means expected. I’m not sure where this sentence is going, so I am going to start a new paragraph and forget this one ever existed.

The album (which has four tracks of very considerable runtimes) opens with ‘V.I.T.R.I.O.L’, which I believe is NOT a paean to the grizzled frontman of Anaal Nathrakh, and it is a thing of shapeshifting wonder, as it starts and flows with simple Krautrock electronics and builds ever so slowly into the kind of technical Black Metal that Emperor did so well in the latter stages of their career, mixed with a kind of martial Industrial tempo, vocalist Avitus (probably not his real name) beginning with an engaging, slightly accented croon over said swishy, swoopy electronics (not unlike the kind of atmosphere DikMik used to evoke with his electronics in Hawkwind, it has to be said) and building up to the kind of razor-throated screaming that sends armadas of bats crashing into trees because it has fucked up their radar… 

This is a feature of the whole record and the utter confusion that it wreaks upon the listener is pretty fucking exciting, as you have no bloody idea where the music is going next. Album closer ‘Necrose’ itself takes you from Doom, to Shoegaze, to Black Metal (both orchestral and primal), to Mr. Bungle-esque weird to fuck-knows-where-else but it all flows. It is not a disjointed mess which just crashes influences into each other and hopes the wreckage is still driveable, it’s analogous to an exquisitely crafted hot rod with Chevy LS6 V8 power on the chassis of a 1923 Model A Ford, driving through a 1980’s Buick back axle. It is the sum of the parts that makes it complete, not the parts themselves.

The second song is called ‘Confusion’ and opens with a movement of quite splendid technical Black Metal. Avitus flays his throat in classic fashion, and you think you know exactly how this song is going to flow, don’t you? A straight-ahead blast through the frosty, winter forests of BM appears to be on the cards with the drummer dying of fatigue because of the speed of his double bass drumming? That’s the first four minutes or so of this THIRTEEN-minute piece taken care of… A kind of swishing, swooping electronic backbone then takes over some very intricate, almost Baron Crane-like guitar work and the tempo slows down for a bit of light on the other side of the black, until six minutes have passed and then Epectase hit the button marked “Math Metal” and Avitus howls his little French heart out over hyper complicated guitar work, then there’s a little solo and then we slow down to Drone speed and baritone vocals. Then the band starts channelling classic Darkthrone, but with a viable production. We are still only nine minutes in and then the tempo slowly picks up the pace until the drummer starts with the double bass drumming again. It’s so fucking eclectic and Epectase have managed to totally fuck up my album of the year list. This is the fourth time a band has done this to me in the past two months and I am becoming aggrieved about it.

Considering that this album is the result of COVID lockdown recordings, the production job is actually reasonably good. It has a nasty, waspish, metallic quality that suits the razor wire music pretty well, even though the drums sound like they were recorded on some kind of Radio Shack battery operated tape recorder and sent through the post on a C-90 cassette to the studio to be mastered and mixed. However, this is a minor gripe as a certain amount of DIY ethos makes a proper sounding Black Metal record, and at least I can hear the drums and the tinware which is not normally the case on BM albums. The vocals are clear and savage and easily discerned among the absolute tumult of sound that Epectase creates, and all in all it’s a decent job that also rewards repeated listens because there are some phenomenal little flourishes and touches in the music that are not apparent on your first run through. I don’t mind telling you, friends, this is the first Black Metal record I have listened to in months that has excited me, as opposed to just merely finding it enjoyable.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (Le système breveté d’évaluation des éclaboussures de sang Dark Juan) awards Epectase 10/10 for a jaw-droppingly immense album that is epic in every sense of the word.

TRACKLISTING:
01. V.I.T.R.I.O.L
02. CONFUSION
03. DÉSILLUSION
04. NÉCROSE

LINE-UP:
Avitus – Vocals
Vague – All instruments, composition, recording, mixing

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Fuzznaut – Apophenia

Apophenia Album Cover Art

Fuzznaut – Apophenia
Self-Released
Release Date: 04/11/22
Running Time: 27:59 
Review by Dark Juan
8/10

Greetings, my dear ones. I am Dark Juan and I am now officially off work for a week having done six 48 hour shifts in ten days. I am somewhat fatigued, but do I let that stop me regaling you with Very Good Things from the world of Heavy Metal? No, I do not! There is nothing (including a three-week bout of the Rona) that will prevent me from sharing my sage and salient wisdom with you all about the wonders of Metal in all its forms. Even Trap Metal. Yes. I said it. Whatcha gonna do about it, fam?

It doesn’t help that I have not had a drink for three weeks either. I have become testy and irritable and any form of amusement whatsoever has me bent over, hacking like an old sailor with a forty a day Woodbine habit. That’s because I am still shaking off COVID-19. Mrs Dark Juan would say that’s normal. But I will state for the record that it is only when I am faced with actual physical labour does this happen, for I am an artist, rather than a grafter and there’s nothing more disastrous than tasking me with DIY because it (or I) will end up in pieces, unable to be rescued, and leaking profusely, on the floor. I wonder how the kitchen I installed in my erstwhile French home is holding up. And the stud wall in the lounge. Everything probably collapsed as soon as I stopped paying attention. Still, that’s a them problem for the new owners.

Today’s platter of Metal goodness is brought to you by Pittsburgh based guitarist Emilio Rizzo and represents the internal headspace of said august composer, and is entitled “Apophenia”. If you do not know what apophenia is, then go and consult a dictionary, you uneducated peasant. Or, alternatively, read on, for I shall define it for you: it is the tendency to perceive meaningful connections between unrelated things. Like claiming contrails are chemical control of the populace when they are really just the result of cold air hitting hot metal. There’s some morons out there who think that governments can affect whole populations with a couple of aircraft because they are credulous and thick. Which is a dangerous combination – witness the majority of British voters. When they can be arsed voting, anyway. Proportional Representation now!

Anyhoo, this most unusual (dare I say abstruse? Fuck it, I am) of records opens with the title track and is not what you might expect from the name of the project. You would be expecting, no doubt, meaty yet furry slabs of ultradoom, fronted by a man whose throat has been destroyed by decades of bourbon and Marlboro Reds. Instead you get six tunes which are a guitar and nothing else. No bass, no percussion, no chain smoking simian bellowing words at the listener. Instead, you get a thoughtful and intelligent stab at Doom that places as much importance on melody as it does worshipping at the Mighty Altar Of The Riff. Rizzo has to be a good guitar player to keep the interest of the listener because he has nothing to hide behind, no other band members to distract the punter from his work. A simple yet tremendously fuzzy riff opens ‘Apophenia’ and Rizzo plays with tones and timbre as a way to keep a kind of heavily stoned focus on the whole shebang. Simple guitar lines slither, slink and crawl their way around a kind of fog-covered, purple and blue landscape where there’s no natural light and only bioluminescent creatures enable the Fuzznaut to pick a path through the (possibly dangerous) flora and fauna.

‘Parasitic Oscillator’ brings back memories of running a Boss HM-2 pedal through a shitty ten-watt Starfire practice amp at frankly astonishing (to my parents when I was a mere Zelator in the One True Faith) volumes and playing the kind of experimental riffs you play when you’re exploring your guitar when you have just started out on the instrument. It has a kind of strangely innocent quality that switches into predatory prowling when the fuzz pedal is stomped on and wanders through strangely foreshortened musical hinterlands where the edge of the universe is clearly visible, yet curiously unreachable, no matter how far you travel. ‘What You Seek, Seeks You’, as well as being a candidate for best song title of all time switches up the mogadon slow groove of the first two songs for something slightly more…. Active, being rather more jangly although this soon gives way to meaty riffage, and the odd slowly wailing solo. 

It is indeed an esoteric listening experience, this album. Having just a guitar and nothing really else lends a surreal, almost haunting ambience to the record. It is actually pretty fucking hypnotic, as there is just relaxed fuzz, a languid, syrupy slowness that curls around the listener and grips to a point just before you start to panic – that last half-inch between comfort and fear. Emilio Rizzo, and by extension, you, the listener, have nowhere to hide and that’s a fucking uncomfortable feeling, whoever you are. ‘5184’ starts off with a small repeating lick that could be from a Tool song before that lick is interspersed with chonky chugging and Sabbath-conjuring riffing and the switching between both analogous to black and white.

In short, Fuzznaut creates atmospheric heaviness that is as disturbing as it is enjoyable, as intense as it is shimmering. Textures change and metamorphose beneath the fingers and sensation builds up to shredding, razorwire levels. A kind of malevolent resonance, if you will…

The obvious demerit to this record (which really isn’t one as this music is very idiosyncratic as it is deeply personal to the player) is the lack of a whole band, and therefore the album can prove to be a very challenging listen when you are not an experienced Doomster or music fan in general. Or simply when you’re not in the mood. It is however, extremely unique in sound and execution and to this grizzled old bastard it’s wonderful. If you are an intrepid consumer of music, you’ll find much to enjoy on “Apophenia”. If you aren’t, you will wonder what the fuck is going on.

Apocalyptic vibes for uncertain times.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System awards Fuzznaut 8/10 for a recording that has many merits, but has had two marks deducted for the extremely limited audience it will enjoy, and the fact that it might prove a bit too out there even for the Doom crowd.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Apophenia
02. Parasitic Oscillation
03. What You Seek, Seeks You
04. Hawks Over Fifth
05. 5184
06. Seconds Between A Swing And A Hit

LINE-UP:
Emilio Rizzo – Guitar

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Insonika – Pithos

Pithos Album Cover Art

Insonika – Pithos
Self-Released
Release Date: 31.10.22
Running Time: 37:02
Review by Dark Juan
8/10

Greetings and salutations, dear friends. It is I, Dark Juan, and I have temporarily been left unattended at Dark Juan Terrace with only one Smellhound, as the Dread Lord, Sir Igor Egbert Bryan Clown-Shoe Cleavage-Hoover has gone to visit his other home (and the grandchild’s) with Mrs Dark Juan, leaving me ensconced at home with Hodgson Biological-Warfare, mainly because my Rona-radged lungs are not permitting me to walk any great distance anywhere at the moment. I haven’t had a drink for two weeks. I am a shadow of my former chubby self and I have coughed that much I feel like I am in danger of opening up a new fault line on the hernia repairs I had done some years previously. Plus, and this is the biggie, friends, they have gone to… I can’t even bring myself to say it. 

LANCASHIRE. They have betrayed their Yorkshireness to go to Burnley. The shame…

So, upon being left unattended and mindlessly scrolling through Fuckbook for what seemed like a fucking age, and boring myself absolutely fucking rigid, I have dragged the Pooter Of Eternal Peril on to my lap and am tackling my review list, so you lot out there can have something resembling an informed opinion about what is worth splooging your spondulicks on. We shall not discuss the recent conversation on the Ever-Metal Whatsapp staff group which I experienced recently where it was somewhat scurrilously claimed that my writings are not clear and concise and that the bands I have reviewed CANNOT BE SURE WHETHER OR NOT I LIKE THEIR OUTPUT. This of course is an outrageous and egregious falsehood and my ramblings are masterpieces of brevity and clarity.

Two hundred and ninety-four words in… Hmm. Perhaps they have a point.

Today I am experiencing the musical stylings of Jönköping, Sweden based Insonika and their semi-concept album “Pithos”, based loosely on the legend of Pandora’s Box (I’ve seen Pandora’s box, and I don’t mind telling you it’s like a punched lasagne or a kicked over trifle) and it’s a bit of an unusual one as it seems to combine (to these poor, abused ears) Swedish lightweight (but still absolutely awesome) Satan-botherers Ghost, bits of less proggy Mastodon and the heavyweight Stoner sounds of Truckfighters and Sleep. This is a fairly eclectic mélange of influences and one I am not sure will be entirely functional. Like my lungs, currently. However, in we plunge…

Opening cut ‘Pandora’ sets a rather spooky tone rather darker than I was expecting for a Stoner band. There’s a twisted, malformed quality to the music that immediately sets it apart from the Stoner herd – an almost Gothic vibe predominates with the mournful piano intro and simple clean guitar line until distortion comes in and causes geological instability over the vocals of Oscar Flanagan (who doesn’t, to be fair, sound very Swedish with a name like that, to be sure), which in themselves are an interesting combination of Ozzy and the various Papa Emeritus’s (Emeratii?) [It’s actually “emeriti”, which can be gleaned by anybody with a Classical education, or a web-browser – ED]. This over some thunderous and engaging Metal. 

The band don’t fall into the Stoner trap of creating a song that is composed of 47 minutes of a single riff before realising that there’s three other parts of the song still to go and they are nearly out of studio time for the day. This is bloody good stuff that really does play to the strengths of the band. Insonika are possessed of serious chops, the music being meaty and surprisingly dense considering the source material being a basic Stoner blueprint. However, where the band really shine is when they start to experiment a bit – ‘Dunes Of War’ sounding not unlike “Meliora” era Ghost and they stick keyboards and atmospherics into their sound and dial down the drug-fuelled riff madness for a little more light and shade, Oscar crooning rather than opening his very capable throat, but with a super stoned middle eight and break to fade that is sludgy supremacy throughout, underpinned by groaning church organ – this song is heavier than your grandmother dropping through a quantum singularity and getting her fat ass stuck in it.

Insonika are absolutely more than the sum of their Stoner parts – ‘Pithos’, the title track of the album, injects a sense of menace and drama that Stoner bands normally are entirely missing from their music and adds to the overall dangerous ambience of the track by allowing Oscar to open his prodigious throat and roar like he’s shitting razor blades, contrasting the violence of that style with the sinuous, preening and predatory ambience of the cleaner parts. And there’s a metric fuckton of church organ on it as well. Dark Juan is more than partial to a bit of brooding organ, be it church or Hammond. ‘Pithos’ ably displays a Mastodon influence at work, with dissonant riffing and onomatopoeic vocals reminding this listener of ‘Oblivion’ in particular, although I find the central part of the song a little too drawn out for my taste. They could easily have lost a minute and a half of runtime without missing it, such is their devotion to the groove they have found and exploited the fuck out of…

‘Monsters In My Head’ is Insonika at their most Sabbathian, the vocals sounding Ozzy-esque, without aping the man himself but with lashings of added Hammond organ underpinning the whole fuzzy riffmonster of a song giving it an almost dark carnival vibe in places. There’s even parts where there is an almost Hardcore beatdown where the band are singing “Beat. You. Down” and it is frankly all as groovy as it is possible to be, and I find myself becoming more and more of an Insonika fan the more I listen. I would have considered an intermix of Ghost and Sleep a bit much to stomach, but Insonika are more than up to the challenge of making it sound palatable. 

Points against Insonika then – The band are far too fond of stretching songs out at the end by just having large, expansive two and three minute outros where they stop playing and start noodling a bit, which sometimes does grate as their song-writing prowess is so much better than that. Also, I find the recording of the album slightly too bass-heavy in places. It is such a colossal fuzzbeast that it absolutely strangles the guitar into submission at times and can also render the keys indistinct. This is especially noticeable on ‘The Plague’ on the quiet bit where I can hear the bass actually vibrating the wires on the snare drum and rattling the cabinets to an insane degree. Otherwise, the album has a thick, syrupy and rich production that suits the music entirely, giving the compositions that blunt, rusty, well-used edge that Stoner needs. 

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (det patenterade Dark Juan bedömningssystem för blodstänk – Thank you, Sofie Posserud-Jones, for translating this for me, although she was unsurprisingly modest about it when she did it) awards Insonika 8/10 for a work of flawed genius – with a little more quality control this album was a solid 10 for the meaty, beaty, big and bouncy quality of the band, but an over-reliance on extended outros and too heavy bass caused marks to be removed. Still, very, VERY worth a punt as “Pithos” is a bloody good record despite its flaws.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Pandora
02. Pithos
03. Monsters In My Head
04. The Plague
05. Warmongers
06. Dunes Of War

LINE-UP:
Oscar Flanagan – Vocals, Guitar
Mattias Altgärde – Drums
Daniel Englafors – Bass
Sebastian Fingal – Keyboards, rhythm guitar

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

BRB>Voicecoil & Omnibadger – DISCO

DISCO Album Cover Art

BRB>Voicecoil & Omnibadger – DISCO
Cruel Nature Records
Release Date: 31.10.22
Running Time: 38:11
Review by Dark Juan
10/10

Dark Juan is still suffering upon the couch of COVID bastardness and is very annoyed with it now. So, in a magnificent attempt to stop being a grizzling child who wants some fucking Lucozade and a bit of Crown Court on TV to pass the day like in days of yore, I have instead elected to do a bit of writing about music. And then chose brb>voicecoil and Omnibadger to do it about. Which makes it perilously close to not being music, actually. Be grateful I haven’t been demanding colouring books.

It is a rare but joyous occasion when you are asked specifically by a band who have enjoyed your insane ranting to have a free and pre-release listen to their latest record and be asked to write about it. Stoke-On-Trent denizens Omnibadger (until very recently known as Omnibael, also Stoke is entirely the kind of city that has denizens instead of residents, being dark, industrial and unpleasant) did this as for some unaccountable reason they enjoyed what I wrote about their last release (https://www.ever-metal.com/2022/04/13/omnibael-rain-soaks-the-earth-where-they-lie/ in case you’re interested) and therefore I am duty bound to have a listen to their new collaboration with Newcastle-based noise deconstructor brb>voicecoil entitled “DISCO”. So I have, and here are the words I have chosen to write about them…

Here’s a hint – it’s not disco. It’s about as far from disco as you can get. Omnibadger are quite famous for their absolute lack of regard for tonality and tunes and would much rather record the sounds of an industrial concrete mixer with a fuckton of toasters and nuts and bolts and shit in it, turn it on and chop up the sounds a bit and release that as a song. As stated in the last review, it’s Skinny Puppy and Throbbing Gristle and Whitehouse all mixed into one poisonous, dangerous form. It’s heavy as fuck, heavier than an armoured regiment of your mothers in neutronium panties and actually painful to listen to loud. It’s like an extended aural aortic aneurysm. 

Although this album is ever so different as brb>voicecoil adds more sparking, malfunctioning electronic dimensions to the absolute aural chaos that Omnibadger are so very capable of, ‘Summer’ being a floating, shining tune that is both uplifting and depressing at the same time, like a summer evening where the weather is amazing but you’re out of beer and there’s no one to go play with and you’re just sat there, relaxed but uncontented. A particular favourite of Dark Juan is ‘Drink The Kool-Aid’, a glorious mix of hirsute, steroid-fuelled power electronics, crunching, squelchy percussion and a preacher ranting about his false god and basically just being batshit insane. Rather like Dark Juan and Omnibadger, generally, what? I’d drag brb>voicecoil into that description as well but I don’t actually know him so I can be too sure what his response would be… Fuck it. He’s as mad as a box of painted frogs as well.

There’s much to enjoy here if you are a fan of the incredibly Industrial. Sounds are mutated from their original forms into howling, demented beasts and fused with other equally tortured noises and somehow something almost coherent is formed – the twelve minutes of ‘Spacer’ being a slow-burning torture garden of roaring and power tools being used upon the lugholes of the unsuspecting listener and the musicians making sure that their listener won’t be getting up again for quite some time, such is the bludgeoning power at their disposal. Gnarly 303 Electro noise blends seamlessly with filthy Industrial Sludge and builds slowly into a shuddering, oil-slicked orgasm of glorious, painful sound that actually physically hurts to listen to loud. Obviously Dark Juan turns that shit up to 11 straight away. ‘Spacer’ is fucking wonderful. Absolutely fucking wonderful, as it smashes Whitehouse and early Pitch Shifter and Throbbing Gristle and Einsturzende Neubaten together in a strange kind of musical hadron collider and comes out with something transcendent and punishing.

‘Subhuman’ has a bizarre kind of Punk vibe mixed with the sonic terror of Atari Teenage Riot, the early, electronic Ministry and Nine Inch Nails remix albums and goes straight for the throat and just doesn’t fucking stop squeezing – this and ‘Swastika Tattoo’ being deliberately challenging and fascist-sounding (this is where we will insert the standard joke of that fat oaf Mussolini being able to make the buses run on time), but this album is about paying attention beyond just the front cover of something. Is the swastika on a Nazi or a Hindu? It has been a symbol of light in the East for centuries, long before it was ever a symbol of a bunch of deluded, uniform fetishizing fucknuggets who thought they were superior to everyone else and decided extermination was the answer. No fucker asked the question, and it is a damning indictment of the human race that if one fucking nutjob shouts loud enough there are thousands, if not millions of equally large dickheads who will follow them. To Armageddon even. That’s pretty bastard scary. And that is what brb>voicecoil and Omnibadger have managed to replicate in musical form on “DISCO”. Bit of an achievement, is that. And anyway, like I always have thought about music and art in general – If it doesn’t provoke thought or debate, it’s not art, it’s entertainment, a night out at the disco and frothy and throwaway and ultimately pointless. 

This album is not pointless.

How do I score and describe and conclude about this nasty, unpleasant collaboration between Northern electronic sound terrorists and industrial punishers from the Midlands? The record will suffer from its absolute refusal to conform to any musical standard whatsoever and will prove an extremely challenging listen to people who aren’t musically educated, or are only just beginning their journey into extreme music – for this is incredibly extreme, and not at all for the faint hearted. It’s only going to have a small audience for it, but Dark Juan is definitely one of that audience. Omnibadger and brb>voicecoil can do no wrong.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System awards brb>voicecoil and Omnibadger a full 10/10 for a record that is chock full of power, pain and suffering. It’s a perfect soundtrack to Cenobites taking humans apart, piece by piece. Yet it is more than just sonic violence, it’s an exercise in observation and critique by taking issues head on and butting them into submission.

LINE-UP:

They still don’t want you to know their identities. They didn’t last time and they still don’t, although one is called Jase. I have no idea which one the mysterious Jase is, but he was polite and nice and not at all like someone from Stoke-On-Trent normally is, being as they are normally barely literate savages.

I’m joking. Jesus.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Window Wiper
02. Sister
03. Swastika Tattoo
04. Summer
05. Drink the Kool-Aid
06. Spacer
07. Subhuman

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Quinn The Brain – Bad Friend (single)

Quinn The Brain – Bad Friend (single)
Self-Released
Release Date: 25/10/22
Running Time: 04:34
Review by Dark Juan
10/10

Hello, good evening and welcome. It is I, Dark Juan, ruiner of virgins to toffs and gentry and otherwise disreputable denizen of local hostelries. Or I would be if I wasn’t advancing in years and have managed to injure my wanking hand without actually knowing how I have done this, therefore making me have to rely on my left hand (always follow the Left-Hand Path?), which is somewhat inconvenient as that’s the hand that’s usually holding the flagon of foaming ale, or not bother, which can make me testy and irritable. Add to this my ongoing recovery from COVID and you will no doubt be pleased to know I have been getting my kicks elsewhere and actually ventured to the cinema in the company of Mrs Dark Juan and our friend Carmen (all seasoned Horror aficionados). We proceeded to laugh ourselves silly at Barbarian, a splatter film that was supposed to be shocking but was in fact filled with chucklesome moments and a protagonist that you have very little sympathy for, as she passes up at least five chances to escape in one piece after being grabbed, and could have avoided it all if she had just done what any normal person would have done in the first THREE minutes and fucked off to a motel on the outskirts of the town she was in. Granted, it would have made for a very short film, but then at least the main protagonist could have been given my blessing for at least having some common sense, instead of incensing me with a series of poor decisions that make you wonder how she ever escaped childhood.

As usual, this has fuck all to do with what I am actually here to do, which is tell you about the rather fiery new single from Houston, Texas based Quinn The Brain – named after an all too real episode of Daria on the TV. Remember that programme? It was fucking brilliant. ‘Bad Friend’ is the name of this song and Dark Juan is privileged to have been personally asked by Arta (guitar / vocals) and Clint (bass) to give this new single a spin or two and share my sage and wise insights about it. Hence, we are away…

Opening with a meaty as fuck bass lick, it’s not long before grungy, fuzzy guitar with a rather meaner edge that the Quinn The Brain fan might be used to boots you in the guts, followed by an angsty, angry vocal. There’s an undeniable, uncompromising rage beneath Arta’s delivery as it switches from innocent little girl to full on riot grrl in the space of a couple of lines. Whoever this titular friend is, I’m not sure they will be surviving beyond the end of the week. There’s real, palpable menace in the vocal and this is a Very Good Thing indeed. 

Quinn The Brain have always been rather more than the sum of their parts, being as they are able seemingly to take the rage and power of riot grrl Grunge and weld it with the angst and emotion of Alt-Rock and make something extremely delicious out of it. ‘Bad Friend’ is no different, the basic arrangement of the song being as Grunge as it is possible to be, yet with a surprising Punk edge on the simple, repeating yet powerful central guitar riff (think L7 circa “Bricks Are Heavy” and Babes In Toyland’s “Fontanelle”) and the chorus is just savage, with Arta underlying her normally quite sweet (but also disturbing) delivery with a menacing growl. The middle eight takes us into the realms of Alt-Rock before the song crashes back into the psyche of the listener with the line, “I’m sorry, the person you’re trying to reach is never fucking there!” Which, let’s face it, we have all felt at some point in our lives…

The song has a very Punky production as well, with guitar and bass to the fore throughout and there is a rumbling, visceral quality to it throughout. The whole song really does scream at you, “Don’t be fooled by the pretty dress and the cute smile, there’s a fucking huge hunting knife behind her back and it’s being jammed between your ribs if you make the tiniest of wrong moves.” Yet, for all the rage and the angst, there’s a curiously fragile and emotional undercurrent that’s endearing as fuck and I have no idea how the band manage this balance. It’s like the musical distillation of the rage you feel, mixed with the upset of a particularly bad break-up. Not unlike a honey badger, Quinn The Brain are cute but will fuck you up.

All in all, it’s another absolute fucking triumph from Dark Juan’s favourite new Grunge band then. This song has been on constant rotation since I got it and I have listened to it so often that I will be singing it in my grave. It appears that Dark Juan has a weakness for strong-ass frontwomen in babydoll dresses, Rickenbacker guitars and attitudes that scream danger, with rather large and menacing male friends behind them. All in all, everything appears to be returning to normal in the world of Dark Juan. I can’t wait to see Quinn The Brain in the UK.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System awards Quinn The Brain 10/10 for a stupendous, stomp-a-long single that successfully melds rage, power and melody into a smorgasbord of aggression and growling menace.

LINE-UP:
Arta Salehi – Guitar and vocals
Clint Rater – Bass

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Rory Bentley and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Radiant – Ora EP

Ora EP Cover Art

Radiant – Ora EP
Jarane Records
Release Date: 21/10/22
Running Time: 20:22
Review by Dark Juan
8/10

Greetings and many hails, my dear readers. I am Dark Juan and I have been consigned to my bed of pain. Yes, the man who has successfully bid defiance to contagion for three fucking years has finally been claimed by the fifth horseman of the apocalypse, COVID-19. This is irritating for a number of reasons – the main one being that I worked all the fucking way through the lockdowns and was fine. Now it’s no longer a major issue, now I cop it. Plus, I am absolutely terrible at being ill. I get cranky and slightly snappish. The Smellhounds have been threatened with death on no less than seven occasions today and it is only 12:55. Mrs Dark Juan is already not speaking to me even though I dragged myself to the kitchen to make her a fake bacon sandwich to say sorry for being an absolute twat. I have already eaten all the chocolate in the house and I’m not allowed out to go and get any more. I suppose one benefit is that I’ve stopped drinking for a bit… Unlike Simon “Hair Of The Dog” Black who was rat-arsed last night…

Still, I’m bored of the same four walls and I don’t want to build any more models or anything so I have decided (despite the fucking irritating headache I can’t shift) to clamp on the cans and get my review list reduced by actually doing some work for a change. This time it’s Radiant, a Parisian Post-Noise trio that appears to be composed of two Frenchmen and an Italian lady, that has come to my somewhat grumpy attention. This makes a change from the diet of Stoner Rock and Psychedelia I have been recently subjecting my brainpan to recently – The Antichrist Imperium notwithstanding.

This four-track EP opens with ‘Skin’, which is a delicate little thing, elegant in construction and very reminiscent of the likes of Ulan-Bator and Sonic Youth. The instrumentation is sparse, yet Radiant are able to conjure soundscapes of some magnificence and majesty just from bass, guitar and drums. The pipes of Simona Maurone are also a massive asset, her unusual intonation and diction adding interest and charm to the music as a whole. The whole song builds from simple, repeated passages up to a huge, distorted behemoth.

‘Aspettami’ is the most Metal tune on the EP, starting off in a manner much reminiscent of the Punky Grunge of Sonic Youth and pretty much staying there, but with a rich, almost Prog arrangement that hints at a cruel, cold place inside that brooks no dissent from a straying partner or some form of dodgy individual, when ultimatums are being dealt out. It’s a slamming tune that takes absolutely no prisoners, whereas ‘Cut Open’, with its refrain of “You’re my art, take it, it’s yours” is a haunting and creepy song, not helped with Simona shouting “I know what you want” over some heavily distorted guitar. The song then takes a bit of a left turn and becomes almost Jazzy but with Simona singing “Kiss me, kill me” repeatedly. Slightly disturbing, even to this Hellpriest with all his manifold psychological problems.

Closing song ‘Radiosi’ starts off gently and reminds this listener of Kraftwerk, with Electronic noise underpinning a simple, chiming guitar line but then opens up into an expansive, softly breathing kind of song that grows slowly and menacingly into a fuzzy, angry beast that lashes out at the listener before ending on a screaming guitar and Simona shouting in French and Italian before it all comes to an abrupt crescendo and finish.

The record is ably produced, although it shouldn’t be hard to not cock up guitar, bass, drums and vocals and the production is a rich and varied thing, being able to transmit feel through the music as it is being played, and allowing the listener to experience the music, rather than just to hear it and this is to the record’s considerable credit – mainly because with the compositions of Radiant, it would have been extremely easy for the band to disappear up their own arses with noodling and experimentation, whereas this record is an intrepid listen in many respects. The problem I have with the record is that a Metal audience is likely to completely ignore it and that would not be fair. It is a very good record, but it is of limited interest to anyone who enjoys the music of FFDP, for example. If you like Drone and Shoegaze, though, Radiant are fucking brilliant. 

So, I’m a bit conflicted. Radiant have released a very good EP, but it is going to only have a quite limited audience as it sits between Metal, Prog, Grunge and Drone and therefore defies description or any form of mainstream success. Which is a shame, but you play the music you feel and if you operate in the grey areas between dimensions like Radiant do, only the time-travellers and dimension jumpers are going to find you.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (Le système breveté d’évaluation des éclaboussures de sang Dark Juan OR Il sistema brevettato di valutazione degli schizzi di sangue di Dark Juan depending on whether you are French or Italian) awards Radiant 8/10 for an excellent EP although marks have been deducted for the fact that a limited audience will be its fate and that quite a lot of Metal fans aren’t going to be interested in the band, and that is a fucking shame.

TRACKLISTING:
01. Skin
02. Aspettami
03. Cut Open
04. Radiosi

LINE-UP:
Simona Maurone – Vocals, Bass
Aurélien Esquivet – Guitar, Vocals
Léo Goizet – Drums

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.