With the way the metal scene leaps on to musical trends can be hilarious and frustrating, how labels will get a whiff of a fresh sound, whip themselves into a signing frenzy, beat it to death and beyond, and strip the music of all the charm it had in the first place. So it’s understandable that eventually what was greeted with enthusiasm one year will be met with exhausted cynicism two years later. It’s funny, though, while many of my peers now roll their eyes at the thought of another new “occult proto-heavy metal” band, I have not tired of it. Is it because the burgeoning trend has become one of the last bastions of melody in heavy music these days? Or the juxtaposition of a woman’s voice against a heavy backdrop, a combination I’ve always been a sucker for? Or am I just getting senile? It’s probably the latter; to paraphrase Seinfeld, I think it’ll be a very smooth transition for me.
RidingEasy Records (formerly known as EasyRider) has really cornered that “new vintage” sound as of late, providing several 2014 highlights, including terrific albums by Salem’s Pot and Monolord. But the one that tops them all is a record I first heard early this year, and which I’ve been waiting months and months to write about. Electric Citizen hail from Cincinnati, and like Canadian mainstays Blood Ceremony and recent Metal Blade signees Mount Salem, feature a fresh-voiced woman singer, but what sets this band apart is the instrumentation on the debut album Sateen, which, despite the odd Pentagram reference, is nestled more in a Cream and Budgie niche rather than psychedelic doom. The rock ‘n’ roll grooves are at times tremendous and insanely catchy, and although it definitely evokes a certain era, it never comes across as a novelty. The band sells it exceedingly well, and singer Laura Dolan cements it with her phrasing, which bears a great similarity to the clarity of Jex Thoth’s singing style. From the authoritative stomp of “Magnetic Man”, to the darker themed “Shallow Water”, to the fury of “Light Years Beyond”, Sateen offers a fresh perspective on a sound that, to many, has started to reach its saturation point.
Order the vinyl now from RidingEasy here.
For whatever reason (the July 4th holiday for my American buds, perhaps?) this week is extraordinarily light, especially in comparison to next week, which is massive. Although Electric Citizen is far and away the best album coming out, here are a few other new albums that have surfaced as well:
The Dead Rabbitts, Shapeshifter (Tragic Hero): A metalcore supergroup. A metalcore. Supergroup. I’d write a review of this piece of shit, but I’m laughing too hard.
Drunk Dad, Ripper Killer (Eolian Empire): This new album by the Portland band fits in quite nicely with this month’s special noise issue of Decibel, which you should, like, totally own. Combining the thunderous sludge of Melvins, the confrontational punk rock of Flipper, and the abrasion and psychosis of Harvey Milk, this brilliantly named band wastes no time grabbing your attention on the furious opener “Five Pack”, and aside from the feedback wank of “Worthless”, doesn’t let up. “How you like me now?” the vocalist howls at one point. Um, very much, thank you.
Every Time I Die, From Parts Unknown (Epitaph): Every Time I Die was always the most enjoyable band in that ridiculous post-hardcore wave of the mid-2000s, a potent blend of manic energy, metallic swagger, and wonky groove. This seventh album is exactly the same as what the Buffalo band has been doing all these years, walking that fine line between chaos and inspired song fragments. It all has the feeling of severe ADHD, it always does, but Every Time I Die always manages to get a sneaky little hook into every song, if only for a fleeting moment. In the end, that’s the most frustrating thing about this band, how they never, ever let these hooks develop into something truly extraordinary, but that’s their shtick, they lure you in, veer from melody to pure Converge insanity, and you find yourself waiting for the next little hook to come around. It’s oddly intoxicating.
The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, Every Man For Himself and God Against All (Crowquill): It’s hard to get excited at all about another instrumental post-metal band, as that all became stale back in 2006, but this five-part album by the San Antonio band gets more interesting the more it brings doom into the equation. The heavier the material, the more involving it becomes, as “Part IV” employ brute force, while the climactic “Part V” is built around a searing guitar solo atop a Neurosis-style arrangement. This is one the Roadburn crowd would want to check out.
Illdisposed, With the Lost Souls On Our Side (Massacre): The latest album by the Danish veterans does this thing capably, churning out old-timey death metal with energy and good use of dynamics as the ‘90s death bands do so well. Unfortunately here’s very little here that sticks out, nowhere near enough moments grab listeners like this music should. With so much death metal to choose from, especially when there’s been a fair amount of good music this year, people can’t waste time nor money on anything that isn’t outstanding, and this just doesn’t make the cut.