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Ahab The Call of the Wretched Sea Review

General Information:

Artist: Ahab
Album: The Call of the Wretched Sea
Genre(s): Heavy Metal
Subgenres(s): Funeral Doom
Released: 2006
Length: 67 minutes
Language(s): English
Label(s): Deviant Records, Napalm Records

Track List:

01. Below the Sun
02. The Pacific
03. Old Thunder
04. Of the Monstrous Pictures of Whales
05. The Sermon
06. The Hunt
07. Ahab’s Oath

Ahab The Call of the Wretched Sea Cover

Ahab The Call of the Wretched Sea Cover

Ahab The Call of the Wretched Sea Review

The Call of the Wretched Sea is the debut album of German funeral doom metal band Ahab. By combining one of the most niche subgenres in heavy metal with their interpretation of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, Ahab create a gripping atmosphere which holds ones imagination as they take you on a voyage of murky obsession.

The atmosphere really is the key to The Call of the Wretched Sea and this even extends to the vocal performance of Daniel Droste, who performs death growls at a staggeringly slow pace that, at times, gives the impression that his voice is part of the soundscape rather than a focal point of the music as you would expect in most other forms of music. This is of course detrimental to the lyrical aspect that they are praised for because if you want any chance of comprehending them then you will need to have the lyrics in front of you when listening to The Call of the Wretched Sea.

Ahab have their sound expertly crafted, that much should be self-evident to any listener early into the album, but their song-writing still leaves something to be desired. This album is 67 minutes long and there isn’t nearly enough variety to justify so much material, especially when five of the songs are upwards of ten minutes long and mostly rely on the same simple approach to playing – the lack of melody or memorable riffs blurs everything into one overly long song. The only exceptions are Old Thunder, which delves into the somewhat more up-tempo territory of the death-doom hybrid genre and the second is the interlude Of the Monstrous Pictures of Whales which leads directly into The Sermon to create a two part song with the drastic change in sound being half the reason it stands out as much as it does.

There are some other sections sprinkled throughout the album in an attempt to diversify their sound and the first example of this is the highly memorable ambient introduction to Below the Sun that is followed by a thunderous shift to metal as ushered in by drummer Cornelius Althammer. The Sermon contains an extended break in the middle of the song that conjures a compelling stormy sea setting that departs entirely from metal. By using recordings of wind interwoven with minimalist clear guitar playing and a spoken word performance that sounds like it has come from an ancient recording Ahab effectively demonstrate what they are capable of doing outside of the realm of metal.

A better balance of these elements, as well as cutting down the overall length of The Call of the Wretched Sea, would have gone a long way but if you want a metal album that truly does bring atmosphere to the forefront then this is an ideal starting point.

Performers:

Daniel Droste: Vocals, Electric guitar
Christian Hector: Guitar
Stephan Adolph: Bass guitar, guitar, vocals
Cornelius Althammer: Drums

External Links:

Ahab Homepage
Ahab on Wikipedia
The Call of the Wretched Sea on Wikipedia

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Rabbit Junk Rabbit Junk Review

General Information:

Artist: Rabbit Junk
Album: Rabbit Junk
Genre(s): Digital Hardcore
Subgenres(s): N/A
Released: 2004
Length: 51 minutes
Language(s): English
Label(s): Rabbitjunk.com (Original release) / Full Effect Records (Rerelease)

Track List:

01. Orange Laces
02. Plastical
03. Not Owned
04. Washout
05. I Vote Bolshevik Lite
06. Punkass
07. Walking on the Moon (The Police Cover)
08. Fingaprints
09. Inside My House
10. ISO vs Life
11. I Vote Bolshevik Lite (Cyanotic Remix) / You Deserve to Die (Hidden Track)

Rabbit Junk Rabbit Junk Cover

Rabbit Junk Rabbit Junk Cover

Rabbit Junk Rabbit Junk Review

Rabbit Junk is the debut album and name of the American digital hardcore solo act created by JP Anderson. Fusing hardcore punk with elements of drum and bass, hip hop and other electronic influences it marks a significant departure from The Shizit, an electronic duo composed of JP Anderson and Brian Shrader between 1999 and 2002.

While they focused on a drum and bass/gabber/hardcore techno fusion with some punk rock influences the three year gap between The Shizit’s last album and Rabbit Junk’s first gives the impression that a musical transformation happened for JP Anderson outside the studio. As such it was never recorded so the links connecting the bands and JP Anderson’s new artistic vision are thin, especially when considering how productive The Shizit were in releasing three albums in their short-lived career. This would have probably been a surprise for longstanding fans even though it should be noted that the high energy performance and aggression has not dissipated.

Right out of the gate the listener is greeted with a heavily distorted guitar that builds with rock drumming and synthesisers before giving way a frenzied combination of drum and bass beats and blown out guitar noise with some synthesisers weaving their way into the mix for a clearer sense of melody. Other songs such as Plastical, Punkass, Fingaprints and ISO Vs Life all contain some elements of hip hop ranging from turntablism, rapped vocals (on ISO Vs Life) and samples of NWA on Punkass to further blur the lines between genres. Unlike most bands Rabbit Junk manage to do this without really stepping into nu metal territory as many rock-orientated bands do when flirting with hip hop. On Fingaprints we hear all of the elements coming together at their best from the looped and distorted vocal frenzies interlaced with turntable scratches right thought to the blown-out guitars and sheer intensity that it results in. The title of the song relates to the lyrics found in the extended mid-song interlude that gives you room to breathe with JD Anderson lamenting that “my hands are black from the matches in my pocket/so far, I’ve only burnt myself.”

Unexpectedly there is a cover of the reggae song Walking on the Moon by The Police, originally released in 1979, which seems like an unusual choice given how it contrasts so much with Rabbit Junk’s aggressive genre mashup. With 25 years between their releases and almost as many genres apart it doesn’t help make sense of the choice initially. Having said this, JP Anderson turns the song into something of his own which works well for the Rabbit Junk sound. Some parts of the cover are virtually unrecognisable from the original, such as the chant accompanied by ambient sound effects at the beginning before using turntables and the bass guitar to give the song momentum. The tempo is a bit faster than the original version so it lacks the same relaxed pace and atmosphere which is then thrown out the window when it turns in to a punk rock song for the chorus.

The rerelease of Rabbit Junk has two songs on the final track, the first being a remix of I Vote Bolshevik Lite by industrial metal band Cyanotic and the second is a hidden song called You Deserve to Die which tagged on the end of the track. It is a live acoustic song with delightfully dark and sarcastic lyrics dealing with a revenge murder which the crowd gleefully sing along to, giving it an unintentionally surreal twist.

Through Rabbit Junk JP Anderson proudly carries the digital hardcore banner while adding his own flair the broad mix without strict regard for genre conventions. This makes the album versatile and uncompromising in a way that most others simply cannot be so for anyone that enjoys music that blurs genre lines then Rabbit Junk should be on their list.

Performers:

JP Anderson: Vocals, guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, programming, song-writing, lyrics
Jennifer “Sum Grrl” Bernert: Backing vocals

External Links:

Rabbit Junk Homepage
Rabbit Junk on Wikipedia
Rabbit Junk (album) on Wikipedia

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Laibach Spectre Review

General Information:

Artist: Laibach
Album: Spectre
Genre(s): Industrial
Subgenres(s): Electro-Industrial
Released: 2014
Length: 57 minutes (including bonus tracks)
Language(s): English, French
Label(s): Mute Records

Track List:

01. The Whistleblowers
02. No History
03. Eat Liver!
04. Americana
05. We Are Millions and Millions Are One
06. Eurovision
07. Walk With Me
08. Bossanova
09. Resistance is Futile
10. Koran
11. The Parade (Bonus Track)
12. Love on the Beat (Serge Gainsbourg Cover) (Bonus Track)
13. Just Say No! (Bonus Track)
14. See That My Grave is Kept Clean (Blind Lemon Jefferson Cover) (Bonus Track)

Laibach Spectre Cover

Laibach Spectre Cover

Laibach Spectre Review

Spectre is the eighth studio album by Slovenian industrial collective Laibach. Released eight years after their last studio album, Volk, they have taken their music in another direction with most of it being in the electro-industrial vein.

Laibach have a history of using authoritarian political ideologies and themes in their aesthetics and lyrical content but any overt use it is largely absent from Spectre. The only explicit mention of politics is the Occupy Wall Street movement in No History. Other song titles such as The Whistleblowers and Koran hint at political themes (whistle blowers such as Edward Snowden or Chelsea Manning and Islam in the West respectively) but the lyrical content doesn’t reflect this. In fact, The Whistleblowers title only seems to refer to the literal whistling performed throughout this catchy martial industrial track which immediately draws the listener in. Koran on the other hand is a quasi-ballad and as it picks up the male and female singer having a back and forth about a belief “in brotherhood, equality and freedom” and “happiness for all” to which the bass-level spoken response observes that “words are substance for tomorrow/they are weapons of our mind/words can take us far away/they will leave us all behind” as though to say that it’s a nice idea but in reality it’s not quite that simple.

On the inverse of this we have Eurovision, obviously named after the annual karaoke train wreck that plagues Europe, in which the band says that “there are crowds in the streets/they are crying to be heard” and that “Europe is falling apart” in the dramatic chorus. The second example of this is Bossanova, named after the Brazilian music genre Bossa Nova, which features a blend of raw authoritarianism and self-aggrandising nihilism in another booming proclamation of “I want torture/arms and corporations/no control, president or parliament!/feed my hunger with poverty/feed my anger with children/feed my lust with bikini food!/feed my ego with luxury/I’m having a good time/and I want my nation to break down!”

By using their history of political imagery and themes Laibach have simply put the shoe on the other foot to give the illusion of depth when in reality there isn’t that much to begin with. The music starts out strong with the first three tracks and then Americana is introduced as a slow burner to break up the pace in true pop fashion. The lyrics are overly repetitive here, as they are in other songs, but at the same time they offer some truth about activism and rallying people to your cause by saying that “if you wanna change the world/you’d better do it with a thrill/cos’ if you don’t – no one else will.”

Resistance is Futile is a seven minute sci-fi odyssey into Laibach itself and it’s impossible to tell if it is a tongue in cheek parody or a sincere use of Star Trek’s Borg collective theme between their use of laser beam noises, digitised voices repeating “we are Laibach/resistance is futile” and the familiar bass voice chanting “blitzkrieg” as there modus operandi to achieve assimilation. The song ends with a long, atonal industrial soundscape with digitised voices fading in and out which, to the bands credit, is executed well and gives enough breathing room to introduce Koran without upsetting the flow of Spectre.

There are also four bonus tracks available on most versions of Spectre and with the exception of The Parade, which features a trumpet that seems at odds with the rest of the track, they’re done in the lively vein of electro-industrial like Eat Liver is. Just Say No is an aggressive synth-driven stomper with a memorable mantra and the other two songs are covers. One of them is See That My Grave is Kept Clean by American acoustic blues musician Blind Lemon Jefferson and aside from the lyrics it really doesn’t have anything to do with the original version and Laibach clearly aren’t wanting to mimic their inspiration here. Love on the Beat was originally performed by French musician Serge Gainsbourg in a funk-influenced new wave style and while it was sung in a low pitch with samples of someone shouting mixed in, it is Laibach’s unique reimagining that gives it a dark twist and really makes it into something else like it was always meant to be an industrial song.

In some ways Spectre is Laibach in pop music’s clothing as found in the inversion of their provocative image and lyrical themes so where it really counts, the musical content, the question is do Laibach deliver? The short answer is yes. The longer answer is yes despite some of the content being a little bit uneven in the middle with some overly repetitive lyrics thrown in because on most counts there is excellent content that strikes a healthy balance between accessibility and artistic integrity all while pulling on people’s strings in their own provocative way.

Performers:

Luka Jamnik
Matevz Kolenc
Milan Fras
Mina Spiler
Saso Vollmaier
Slavko Avsenik Jr.

External Links:

Laibach Homepage
Spectre on Wikipedia
Spectre on Wikipedia

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The Mad Capsule Markets Osc-Dis Review

General Information:

Artist: The Mad Capsule Markets
Album: Osc-Dis
Genre(s): Digital Hardcore
Subgenres(s): N/A
Released: 1999 (Japan), 2001 (UK and USA)
Length: 41 minutes
Language(s): English, Japanese
Label(s): Victor, Invitation, (Japan) / PalmRyko, Palm Entertainment (US/UK)

Track List:

01. Tribe
02. Out/Definition
03. Square Wave (Pulse)
04. Multiples
05. Mob Track
06. All the Time in Sunny Beach
07. Island
08. Restart!
09. Jag
10. Step into Yourself
11. Good Girl
12. Midi Surf

The Mad Capsule Markets Osc-Dis Cover

The Mad Capsule Markets Osc-Dis Cover

The Mad Capsule Markets Osc-Dis Review

Osc-Dis (shorthand for Oscillator in Distortion) is the 9th studio album by Japanese digital hardcore band The Mad Capsule Markets, who meld drum machine loops and samples with live percussion and their hardcore punk foundation. Not content with this combination already creating as much sonic mayhem as possible, all of the vocals are heavily distorted to the point where you often can’t tell where the English begins and the Japanese ends. However, this isn’t necessarily a negative because the lyric delivered in English haven’t translated that well so this mask of distortion plays right into their aesthetic and ultimately their advantage. Whether this is by design or sheer coincidence will never be truly be determined.

From the nu metal inspired Tribe to the gabber fuelled Restart! or drum and bass infused hardcore punk anthem Square Wave (Pulse), which is arguably their most well-known song in the Western world after being featured in the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 video game, this proves that The Mad Capsule Markets influences are many and are still able to find a cohesive vision through all of genre mixing. The only time that the band properly slows down and takes things in the opposite directions is on the 10th song, Step into Yourself, which has the guitars playing more like a wall of static rather than anything with a discernible melody and features some quasi-rapped vocals, the monotonous chant of “step into yourself” and some more choppy drum machine loops that certainly creates a unique song although it doesn’t have the same appeal as many of the others.

With both English and Japanese lyrics clashing together alongside hardcore punk and an assortment of sounds from electronic music genres, Osc-Dis is where worlds collide in an undignified yet entirely gripping fashion.

Performers:

Takeshi Ueda: Vocals, Bass, Programming
Motokatsu: Drums, Programming
Toruxx: Guitar, Programming
Kyono: Vocals

Additional Performers:

Hirosuke, Yamada and Katsya: Additional vocals

External Links:

The Mad Capsule Markets on Wikipedia
Osc-Dis on Wikipedia