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Touché Amoré – Is Survived By

There’s a psychological effect associated with heavier genres of music. Hearing aggressive, violent, and even disturbing noises isn’t as appealing as associating other senses with the same handful of adjectives. While listening to Touché Amoré’s new album, Is Survived By, my computer crashed on three separate occasions as soon as I began the album. Now many would tell me just to buy a new computer, and I do agree, mine is shit, but a lot of listeners do this with hardcore or post-hardcore music. We don’t give it a chance, resulting in missing out in many great albums.

Touché Amoré is an LA post-hardcore band that is part of the self-proclaimed “The Wave”, which is a grouping  of 21st century bands in the genre. Along with La Dispute and Defeater, to name the popular few, they’ve been noted as a band that has brought back screamo and hardcore to large audience. Is Survived By is their third album, and it’s also their longest, which is something to note because their past releases don’t even hit 20 minutes. Is Surived By reaches an astonishing 29 minutes *GASP*, and the ride of melodic, post-hardcore doesn’t stop through the entire listen.

What caught my attention with the band early on is how on every release, they seem to experiment with many ideas throughout an album. Short blips of songs will smash through seconds of sound, and then that’s that. On this release, the band has taken a different approach. Although songs never exactly reach La Dispute lengths, they make an effort to add traditional song structure to a few tracks. “Social Caterpillar”, “Non Fiction”, and “Is Survived By” are the only three tracks to reach three minutes (how fitting). These serve as climaxes to the albums closer, but many of these blasts of tracks are actually many ideas separated into different tracks for the sake of packaging.

What makes Is Survived By so different compared to past releases is how the band jolts from song to song, but the flow of the album never strays. These tracks will pass, but only until the album hits stop do I realize that it’s finished. Jeremy Bolm’s screams are stronger than ever. The tension between every chord progression and drum hit is thick and heavy. The band creates such a claustrophobic atmosphere that it’s difficult to not try and break your way out. These songs aren’t just melodic, they stick with you. I found myself hitting repeat almost immediately as the album ended. After my many listens in one sitting, I would sit and digest what I just experienced. It’s the sound of a band at the top of their game.

Few bands can create exciting albums that slip under the radar to the public. Touché Amoré release solid albums time and time again, but they’ve yet to reach the pinnacle of potential. Is Survived By is another prime example of an amazing hardcore release that should be honored by every music buff on their blogs and websites. That’s exactly why I love writing these reviews.

 

8.8/10

Underground Mondays: Urr – The Endless Riddles of Sky and Earth

When Dylan Carlson wrote the first notes to his defining album, Earth 2, for his band Earth, I wonder some days what was going through his mind. For anyone unaware, Earth 2 is arguably the heaviest, deepest, darkest guitar album ever written. It’s minimal and droning structure scares off listeners within seconds, and lucky for me I have the entire album on vinyl for the pure cult status of the music. Although I can’t honestly say if the album actually gained popularity at the time of it’s release, besides the fact that it’s an icon in music today, but I do know that it proved that Sub Pop can release all sorts of music. The label itself was the only one that gave this monster a chance, and thank you Sub Pop. Without Earth 2, there would be no Sunn O)), Melvins, or the Underground Mondays featured artist, urr from Denmark. 

You read that correctly. Much like Sunn O)))’s unnecceasary brackets, urr does in fact have all lower case letters. They’re name could resemble the buzz of the extremely downtuned guitars or a message that the band created. What I love about this album, titled The Endless Riddles of Sky and Earth released by Golemtapes, is how bleak, defining, and unique it is. It has more tone than a Sunn O))) album, but just as much punch as early Earth. They put their twist on drone metal and create a unique unmatched sound by today’s standards.

Take the first song for example; titled “Bleak and Golden”. It’s the same riff over and over again, and is quite quick by for a drone metal song. It’s like a crashing wave in the dark off a coast of Scandinavia that still cools the rocks it pummels. Even at almost 8 minutes, it’s only the beginning of a monstrous listen. The second song, “Sun – Moon – Earth”, is a more traditional drone metal track. While most drone metal tracks don’t have any sort of drum track on them, the duo of urr add in the cymbals and drums to keep things heavy and intense. The second track is far longer, at 23 minutes, and I cannot describe the feelings I have while listening. I head banged (at super slow tempos), I air guitared, I zoned out, I was in a trance. That’s the best way to put it. The band puts the listener in a state of semi-consciousness, only letting them go after the breaking of sound stops.

The third and final epic track is titled, “The Branches That Bend the Most Bear More Fruit”. Now it’s structurally the same as the first track with the looping guitar riff that changes throughout the song, but it also contains the dynamics of the second track. It’s the grand finale of the album, building to the crushing final moments of the album, but never feeling like it’s missing a beat. The song, along with the rest of the album, contains a slight buzz that’s so omniscient in the background. It adds to the droning effect of the album, capturing anyone who focuses on the waves of sound. It’s a beautiful effect that urr have created.

Giving drone metal a chance can be hard. I compare it to scene in “Lawrence of Arabia” when they travel through the desert, or the entire movie of “2001: Space Odyssey”. My guess is if you enjoyed either/or, you’ll have a real connection with drone metal. Urr is a band that takes the elements of drone, and even stoner metal, adding to the ever growing popularity of heaviness in music. The Endless Riddles of Sky and Earth is an album that needs more attention. It craves the necessity to be recognized as a new face to the drone metal scene. There aren’t enough house-hold names in the genre, and the ones that are known need a young gun to help progress them. Urr is just the band they need.

 

Click here to check out the band’s website

Also be sure to listen to their soundcloud below: 

The Most Badass 12 Year Olds Ever

We’re told as kids to ‘dream big’ and we believe it. We all wanted to be astronauts, skateboarders, spies, movie stars, and rockstars, but how many 6th graders have 720k views on a Vimeo video? These two metal heads from Flatbush, New York are real dream chasers. Their in a band named Unlocking The Truth, and from what I heard, they blend the sounds of Death Metal, Stoner Metal, and Progressive Metal all into one cohesive sound.

What I loved from watching this video is that they aren’t innocent, sheltered children. They seem to have a mature view of what the real world is like. They take the negative energy of stereotypes and transform it into a positive, and uplifting message that says, “Metal rocks, Bullies suck”. How can you not like that? It’s so clear cut and true that even an overdue man could enjoy.

From their videos on YouTube, I’m guessing posted from the Mom’s account (Tracy Brickhouse), I’ve noticed how far they’ve already come. Playing in Times Square and having a large audience only shows the capabilities of reaching for your dreams. I cannot get enough of the video of Master Chief rocking out and headbanging to one of the bands songs. They’re killer. I’ll include it below to share the greatness of it.

These kids are real ass kickers, and it’s hard to think that they’re only 12 as well. Just another reason why age doesn’t mean talent. It’s the ambition and drive in a person as well.

Unlocking The Truth – Malcolm Brickhouse & Jarad Dawkins from The Avant/Garde Diaries on Vimeo.

The coolest video from the band here: 

Deafheaven – Sunbather Review

I wasn’t going to do it. The need for me to bring up this album was huge, but I felt so cliché and predictable doing it. I know even attempting to stand apart from others and mentioning this album was impossible. I don’t know if it was the fact that it’s hugely anticipated, or that it’s been labelled “hipster-metal”, but all these aspects are thrown aside when I finally gave this an honest listen. Now to any metal-heads out there who live and breath bands like Burzum, Mayhem, Dissection and the true black metal, this is old news to you.

Sunbather, by the West-Coast California metal outfit, Deafheaven, is the sophomore album to be released by this band. They attempt to improve and grow the sounds of traditional black-metal with a shoegazing vibe and a post-rock structure. I’ve seen critics call this album a ‘post-metal’ record, and that makes perfect sense, but I’m unclear if it’s actually correct to do so. What caught my eye with this record is how accessible it is. Much like the 2011 album, Aesthethica, by the self-described “transcendental black-metal” band, Litrugy, they really push the post-rock structure. From the beginning of this hour long album, it opens with the hard hitting track, “Dream House”. Now how cute is that title! Even the pink cover (designed Nick Steinhardt of Touché Amoré) gives away a little of edginess compared to traditional black metal artists. The song has everything that’s found in regular music of this genre; blast-beats, screaming and snarls, tremolo picking, and insanely heavy build ups. What separates the sound from first listen is the atmosphere and emotion found in this track. The way the musicians play is digestible, even if it’s considerably the heaviest sounds found in music.

The second track, “Irresistible”, is an interlude to the metal-core influenced track, “Sunbather”. The two tracks together are likened to the amazing 2012 album, Les Voyages De L’Âme, by the metal group Alcest (Which was in MITNG’s top 30 album list of 2012!). The songs on this album are considerably long as well. For black-metal standards, they aren’t, but this album does present itself to more of a mainstream crowd, and that’s a great thing for a genre that’s generally hidden under the rug from the music community. “Sunbather” is an incredible track. It plays like a post-rock song that never seems to ever have a beginning. Every note is a crescendo and it’s difficult to ever think the song can build anymore. The blast beats are tights, the vocals are intense, but never scooped my insides out with a spoon. Instead, it was like steel wool rubbing on a pillow. The album for the most part drones on, and it was easy to find myself lost in the build ups. I do love the classic Dissection album, The Storm Of The Light’s Bane, but Sunbather fills a different niche to my music needs.

What I’ve noticed from this album is that there isn’t a lot of filler. It has it’s moments of commentary, like a Godspeed You! Black Emperor album, but it fits the album’s overall style. Sunbather grabs all the accessible and generally enjoyable sections of traditional black metal, and then expands it over a 7-12 minute track. That’s not to say it’s 100% amazing because the track, “Please Remember” has an experimental middle section that sounds like the band forgot to stop recording, but it jumps into a great slow section. Unsurprisingly though, it builds up again. What did you think would happen?! Deafheaven have their sound and they do an amazing job running with it.

To say the least, Deafheaven does play more like a post-rock band structurally than a black-metal band musically. Their sound is unique to an extent. It’s nothing metal fans have heard before, but to a lot of listeners who aren’t interested in the genre, it’s probably the freshest and hippest sound today. It’s more accessible than any Liturgy music, but it’s also extremely credible. The songs, like “Vertigo”, don’t require any virtuoso to play these tracks, but that’s what makes this band so interesting. They have a genre that gets such a bad rep for the culture behind it, and they twist it to a point where it’s more about the music. Even the album’s Wikipedia page has ‘black-metal’ as the third genre this album is. Maybe it was written by an arrogant music snob, but to clear the airs of this, the album is black-metal.

The final three songs are the true crescendos of this album, and I love it. “Vertigo”, “Windows”, and “The Pecan Tree” define the album. Much like Liturgy’s “Glory Bronze”, the entire listening and anticipation fall on these tracks, and the band steps it up. The energy and flow of the songs are great. Super creative playing, while also quite simple. Amazing atmosphere and emotional through the rise and fall of the songs. Deafheaven bring to the table their tools and put them to great use.

True black-metal fans are shaking their heads right now. They cannot believe what they’re reading. How can this “hipster” piece-of-shit be good? The fact of the matter is that it is. I’ve been reading forums on how this is a disgrace to ‘trve kvlt’ metal, but who the fuck cares if it’s this or that. What makes an album good is by how it sounds. The labels surrounding it shouldn’t have any impact. I was a skeptic as well before putting Sunbather on, but after multiple listens and taking it for strictly the music, I was shocked about how great it was. Although not the most intense, heaviest, or brutal album out there by a long shot, this can easily be a guilty pleasure for metal fans, and even a great stepping stone into an extremely dense genre of music. I had a great time listening to this album, and it’ll be on my iPod for a long time to come.

 

Listen to the full album here off Youtube here: 

 

Black Sabbath Announce new album

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