Sunday, January 22, 2012

Rick's Discoveries Volume XIII

At the end of last year, when most of this article was written, I was so busy putting together my top 10 for the year, editing the rest of the staff's submissions, and creating the overall DecoyMusic top 20 that I never got around to publishing this, or even to finishing off my writeups for some of these truly great albums. Heck, even one of the albums contained in this article ended up on my year end top 10 and has since received a perfect 5/5 review here on Decoy! With all that being said, even though this article is a bit tardy from my own publishing perspective, it's never too late to check out a few new, amazing bands creating solid music in their respective genres.

Auburn – Parallels

Auburn hit on so many different traits in the metalcore realm that I can’t help but love them. The core of their sound is straight ahead metalcore in the vein of The Ghost Inside, but there are also moments that are reminiscent of Bury Your Dead (usually in some of the lead-ups to breakdowns), Four Year Strong (the melodically sung passages), and Comeback Kid (during some of the straight up hardcore flavored sections). There’s so much here to like; it’s almost as if Auburn surveyed the current scene for what is trending and then wrote an album focused solely on those traits.

Against the Flood – Home Truths

This is an angry metalcore record that’s going to hit you with some straight up metalcore, some deathcore, and some progressive metalcore. So if you can imagine a combination of Architects (not the weenie version we heard this year—I’m talking Hollow Crown era), Dead Swans, and For the Fallen Dreams then you’ll get a good idea of what you’re in for. The strained vocals take center stage, being delivered between a few melodic passages, all hovering above the consistently punishing metalcore undercurrents.

A Hope for Home – In Abstraction

I’ve had my eye on A Hope for Home for a few years (this is the band’s fourth album). Their album Realis from last year really turned my head as the band had taken their post-hardcore style and married it with elements of post-rock and some atmospheric metal. They almost cracked my top 10 for the year. Now they’ve delivered In Abstraction which is their most ambitious album to date. There’s barely a hint of their post-hardcore roots as they’ve fully embraced a sludgy post-metal and post-rock combination. The band shares some close similarities with labelmates Hands in that they marry together crushing walls of sound and harsh vocals with melody and melancholic beauty. If you want band comparisons, mix together pieces of As Cities Burn, Cult of Luna, Explosions in the Sky, and Isis and you’ll get some semblance of what In Abstraction delivers.

TotoRo – All Glory to John Baltor

I saw this album tagged as “post-metal” on one of the music blogs I read, and I check out most any band with that tag, but TotoRo are surprisingly not really all that metal-y. They’re definitely post-y, but more so in the post-rock genre. On the 4 tracks of this EP, none shorter than 7:30 in length, you’ll have a lot of your standard post-rock build-ups, crescendos, and glittery guitars, but what sets them apart from your base post-rock band is the interspersing of some Envy-esque screamo moments and a few borderline post-metal moments that are more reminiscent of Caspian than, say, Pelican.

Gradjent – Flow System

Ok, putting “djent” into your band name might be a little much, especially when you’re not a full-on djent band. Gradjent definitely have some djent leanings, but it is best to think of them as a band that plays djent-lite mixed in with straight-forward radio-friendly metal. A number of the songs on this album could easily fit in on any local hard rock radio station, which I found somewhat odd, but they were relatively catchy and didn’t feel too clich├ęd. On top of that, adding in a few djent passages here and there definitely helps things out. Just make sure you set your expectations appropriately before you give this album a spin, because Gradjent is as much Five Finger Death Punch as they are Periphery.

Blue Stahli – Blue Stahli

Industrial metal, in the early 00’s and late 90’s, was unfortunately shat upon as nu-metal took portions of the genre and infused them into one of the more reviled musical genres in heavy music from the last couple of decades. Because of this, decent industrial influenced metal is hard to find, but when you do discover a great band, such as Celldweller or, in this case, Blue Stahli, it stands out. I mention these two bands together because they share a lot of similarities, so if you like Celldweller or any of Klayton’s other endeavors, you’ll find yourself liking Blue Stahli. If you don’t know who I’m talking about, think of Blue Stahli as a version of mid-career Nine Inch Nails playing more in a metal direction and leaning towards bands like Orgy or Stabbing Westward.

Aura of Aurelia - Polytope

As with most post-rock bands, the best way to describe what a particular artist sounds like is to explain what accentuating features they possess outside of the standard post-rock playbook. With Aura of Aurelia, they add to the mix a bit of ambience and a bit of shoegazing. Also, the band is very much on the mild, mellow end of the post-rock spectrum. They focus less on crescendos and more on soundscapes, with the shoegaze approach to add texture to their sound. All in all, it's a very relaxing approach to the genre and should work well as a calming influence.

Cold Body Radiation - Deer Twilight

There are two things that turn me off from most blackglaze artists--horrible harsh vocals and poor production. These are two traits of the genre that I think actually detract from it instead of adding to it. It seems like Cold Body Radiation got my memo as this is a very much post-rock infused blackglaze effort with great production and minimal harsh vocals. The album is all about mood creation and a melancholy mood it most definitely creates. The majority of the album sounds like a mix of Alcest and Mogwai, with a heavier focus on the former. The mellow sections perfectly set up the moments where you're simply barraged by a shoegazing wall of sound, demonstrating that Cold Body Radiation manages to do one of the tougher things in the genre well--making transitions.

Zebulon Pike - Space Is the Corpse of Time

This album marks Zebulon Pike's fourth full length and they continue to play a varied mix of metal, including doom, sludge, prog, and some stoner. At times I'm reminded of YOB, at others Mastodon, sometimes a more progressive The Sword, and even every now and again a bit of Pelican. With 5 tracks on the album and only one of them clocking in under the 10 minute mark, this is an album that you'll want to experience as a whole. It's an adventure, to say the least.

Spectrum-X - Black Death

EBM is a very wide genre encompassing all kinds of aggressive electronic music. Spectrum-X falls on the power noise and aggrotech end, fusing their punishing beats and vocals with an industrial sheen, complete with distorted guitars that take their already harsh sound and make it more rough. If you want a more industrialized version of Alien Vampires or Noisuf-X, Spectrum-X should be a good fit for you.

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