Friday, 22 October 2010

Humanfly - Darker Later

Rating: 8/10
Genre: Metal/Alternative

Many metal bands key weakness is there inability to change their formula. This has never been an issue for Leeds quartet Humanfly, who it seems are constantly evolving into a more impressive force to be reckoned with. Darker Later is no different in this respect as it improves upon the trademark sounds from both their first and second albums mashing both up into a hellishly dark monstrosity. Their debut God Among Insects consisted of fast heavy riffs and hardcore style screams with few of their songs passing the two minute mark. The follow up album II gave a huge nod towards post-metal bands like Isis and Neurosis mixing their heavy riffs with sparse melodic segments with songs often stretching towards to 10 minute mark.

Darker Later sees the band mold these two styles together to make heavier more immediate tracks with subtler melodic and atmospheric tinkerings. In essence they have taken the best aspects from both previous records and created a new entity that is bigger, badder and better than ever. Tracks like opener "This Is Where Your Parents Fucked" surge with the raw power of a lumbering colossus whilst "Stew For The Murder Minded" is a fast paced hardcore racket where the screams of lead singer John try and break through the thick sludge riffs. Another highlight is title track "Darker Later" a dark melodic interlude that serves to make the crushing intro of "Heavy Black Snow" that extra bit devastating.

Overall there is no doubt in my mind that this is Humanfly's greatest work to date. The beauty of this record is the variety because whilst there is a huge range of styles employed all of them are executed masterfully without compromising the flow of the record. Highly recommended to any metal fan.

Download: "This Is Where Your Parents Fucked" "Darker Later"

The High Confessions - Turning Lead Into Gold With The High Confessions

Rating: 6.5/10
Genre: Post-punk/Alternative

The High Confessions are made up of Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth, Chris Connelly of Revolting Cocks/Ministry, Sanford Parker of Minsk and Jeremy Lemos of White/Light. The impressive C.V's of everyone involved with this project surrounded their debut with fevered speculation. What would it sound like being the main question on everyones lips. With all the artists working in such varied genres many were very interested in seeing which sound came out as dominant. The speculation only grew when it was announced the band would be releasing their debut on relapse (a label that predominantly works with metal music).

What the band actually deliver with "Turning Lead Into Gold..." are eerie, off kilter soundscapes that leave you bereft of any reference point to draw. The understated simplistic drone of the music is counterbalanced by Shelley's drums. Whilst all this unnerving sonic racket barrages you Chris Connelly's aggressive sneer barks twisted dark lyrics with bile. The closest point of reference in my opinion would have to be sonic youth's self titled debut but even this falls short in matching the raw animosity and darkness behind this record. The true strength of this record is its atmosphere. The songs clatter along at a snails pace each laced with dread and almost post-apocalyptic overtones the drums and the occasional murmur of guitar youronly guide through the bleak and sparse soundscape. The only flaw with the record is the varied results of these minimalist whims. Whilst the unhinged overlapped spoken word piece "Along Came The Dogs" sets off a truly disturbing reaction other tracks like "The Listener" fall short providing nothing but 17 minutes of jazzy noodling.

The true highlight of this album would be the closing track "Chlorine And Crystal" which unlike anything else on the album provides a more standard song structure and more defined reverb drenched guitarwork. Whilst this album is deffinately not going to appeal to the masses or be to the taste of many, what it does it does well. You will be hard pushed to find a darker atmospheric album this year.

Download: "Dead Tenements" "Chlorine And Crystal"

The Unwinding Hours - The Unwinding Hours

Rating: 10/10
Genre: Post-rock/Alternative

Many a tear was shed in 2007 when scotish post-rock titans Aereogramme announced their departure from the music scene. Crushed by a nine year battle trying to stay afloat in a fickle and ever changing industry had finally got the better of them. Yet a beacon of hope remained as lead singer Craig B announced he would carry the torch on with a new project. February this year saw the fruition of this in the form of the Unwinding Hours glorious self-titled debut. Joining forces once again with Aereogramme guitarist Iain Cook the Unwinding Hours were born.

The music here follows a very natural progression from Aereogramme's final album My Heart Has A Wish That You Would Not Go. Rather than excessive sampling and programming, which was interspersed with frequent shifts in tempo and the occasional scream on earlier Aereogramme material, here we have a more stripped back sedate affair, almost. A few curve balls are still thrown in the listener's way using loud quiet dynamics to stunning effect. This is summed up perfectly on the track "There Are Worse Things Than Being Alone" which starts off delicately before building into a huge crackly wall of noise. One of this records true strengths is not only the strong lyricism but the beautiful delivery of Craig B's vocals. His soft melodic vocals pull you seamlessly in to the emotional centre of each song making the experience powerful, personal and intimate. As with Aereogramme records orchestral backing is used to devastating effect pulling at your heart strings and making each track that little bit more grandiose.

There is also a great range of experimentation on the record from the sonically astounding opener "Knut" to the strange but wonderful "Peaceful Liquid Shell". The true highlight of the album is the closing track "The Final Hour" an emotionally devastating ballad of betrayal that starts as delicately as snow before pummelling your ears with angsty screeches of guitar. Overall this album is quite simply amazing. Filled with a full range of emotion, expertly expressed. Terrific all round.

Download: "Child" "The Final Hour"

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Melvins - The Bride Screamed Murder


Rating: 7/10
Genre: Metal/Alternative
As hard as it is to believe the Melvins career has spanned over a quarter of a century. Whilst other bands would be content with releasing greatest hits albums and touring on the back of songs they wrote at the height of their career the Melvins buck this trend. The Bride Screams Murder (their 20th album) is the third album the Melvins have released incorporating Jared Warren and Coady Willis of Big Business. This is normally mentioned whenever the Melvins are talked about because it has changed their sound tremendously. The real benefit is easily heard with two drummers thrashing out insanely complex drums and dual harmonic vocals the band sounds monumentally loud.

The album opens up with some text book insanity with "The Water Glass" a surreal military like roll call and demonstration in showy drums. The Bride Screams Murder has some truly infectious tracks like "Evil New War God" and "Inhumanity And Death" that are both future fan favourites and welcome additions to Melvins impressive canon. Unlike previous offerings with the Big Business duo on this record the Melvins delve into their playful experimental side seen on earlier offerings such as Stag. Just like on Stag however these end with varied results. The off kilter opener "The Water Glass" whilst utterly absurd and deranged remains punchy and coherent enough for repeated listens. Other tracks however serve as nothing but fluff and wacky nonsense often slowing down the momentum of the record. The true highlights are the sludgey behemoths "Evil New War God" and the sinister Who cover "My Generation". These tracks prove that after over 25 years in the music business the Melvins are still kings of their craft.

Overall whilst this release is marginally blighted with some duff filler the record still remains a rewarding listen. The fact that the band are still producing work of this calibre after over 25 years is nothing short of jaw dropping. Recommended.

Download: "Evil New War God" "My Generation"

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Interpol - Interpol


Interpol - Interpol
Genre: Indie
Rating: 5/10

Few albums released this year could really match the anticipation of Interpol's self titled 4th outing. The band unfortunately are plagued with a fan base at war with itself like many bands these days are. Their prolific career started with a bang with the release of "Turn On The Bright Lights" which instantly turned them into cult indie heroes. The record itself was a beautiful mix of slow laid back indie awash in reverb and fast groovey  dance tunes with hints of grandeur slowly seeping through it. This for many of their fans set a standard that has not been surpassed or even recreated since. Whilst I agree that Interpol's debut is their strongest album I am not in any way hoping for them to recreate that same album again and again to apease the masses.

However this latest offering from the new york based band has left me disappointed. The music follows off in quite a similar style to their previous offering "Our Love To Admire" which contained their first attempts at creating bold, cinematic music. Unfortunately whilst "Our Love To Admire" managed this very well on tracks such as "Wrecking Ball" nothing on this album really grabs the listener here. The first half of the album provides the most solid tracks like "Lights" and opener "Success" both quite brooding and understated to start with but slowly build to fantastic conclusions. Unfortunately as the album progresses the band tend to over reach and the whole "cinematic sound" feels forced and tired often leaving you with the feeling that songs are building towards a moment that never comes.

Whilst I would not say this album is terrible it is far from perfect. Interpol's frontman Paul Banks released a solo album under the moniker Julian Plenti just last year that has surpassed this album in everything it tries to do. That said if you are a long time fan of the band or intrigued try it before you buy it.

Download: "Lights" "Success"

iLiKETRAiNS - He Who Saw The Deep


He Who Saw The Deep - iLiKETRAiNS
Genre: Post-Rock/Prog-Rock
Rating: 9/10
3 years have passed since iLiKETRAiNS last LP, the gloriously epic Elegies To Lessons Learnt, and those three years have felt painfully long. This albums predecessor was steeped in historical research and as the title suggests concerned itself with tragic stories from the past dealing with topics such as the black death, witch trials and the assassination of Spencer Perceval. Needless to say it was a bleak album filled with heartbreak and a great sense of foreboding. For a band to create such an epic and well thought out debut is truly an amazing achievement in itself, however it did set the bar incredibly high for their follow up.

More than three years later after funding issues and going independant the record has finally arrived. Before the release various band members alluded to a shift in direction and from just one listen it is apparent what they meant. Rather than scouring the depths of human misadventure in the history books the band have instead shifted focus to the future.

David Martin paints a macabre picture of the future with his chilling barritone vocals, again acting as a morbid announcer, ushering in dooms day. Whilst again producing another slice of epic post-rock which retains their indelible stamp they are not just repackaging an old album with a twist. The true brilliance of this album comes from the more traditional use instruments. Whilst its predecessor saw practically every song drenched in reverb and atmospherical tweaks here we have the band coming as close as they are ever likely to be to "rocking out". Squeals of feedback and more pronounced percussion and rhythm makes these songs almost strangely accessible for the uninitiated. This isn't to say there isn't reverb or synths as they are present in abundance throughout making this an album that the "die-hard fans" won't reject.

The record itself is also more varied than Elegies in terms of tone with certain tracks like single "A Father's Son" almost sounding upbeat. Whilst the subject matter of death and impending doom is found throughout the record the mood peaks and trophs almost to suggest an acceptance of the end. A truly rewarding listen all round. Highly recommended.

Download: "Progress Is A Snake" "Sirens"


Hello and welcome. My name is Andrew and this is my blog. As the title suggests this is going to be a music blog. I plan to write album reviews and short band bios as well as blogs centred around the ever evolving music industry. Please note I am not a grammar nut so there will more than likely be a few mistakes here and there I apologise in advance. I'm only human.

The reason for starting this blog is really just to give myself a place to rant about music. I'm pretty passionate about music and have found that in real life as I go off on a rant peoples eyes start to glaze over because most people don't give a shit. Rather than expecting everyone to start giving a shit I figured it'd be a good idea to have a place where I can rant forever indeffinately without anyone listening so here we are.

To put an end to any pointless questions over the name Captain_Of_Lies:
  1. I'm not a captain nor have I ever been one.
  2. The name is taken from a track by Yourcodenameis:milo featuring Jamie Lenman and Guy Davis of Reuben from Print Is Dead Vol. 1. Both bands are very dear to me and have since broken up.
  3. I adopted this name for use in Biffy Clyro's forum and have stuck with it ever since.
Thanks for your time ladies and gents.