Christopher Owens 🎵 “This is my chance, this is my life/And my opening hour/This is my choice, this is my voice/There may be no tomorrow/This is my plea, this is my need/This is my time for standing free/This is my step, this is my depth/In a world demanding of me.”🎸 Dead Moon.

Horns Up

New Horizons 


Heriot – Profound Morality

Having recently been nominated for a Kerrang award, toured with Pupil Slicer and releasing this pulverising record, things are looking promising for this Birmingham based combo. This, their debut EP, blends the best elements of grind, industrial metal and hardcore together (especially evident in tracks like ‘Coalescence’ and ‘Carmine (Fills the Hollow)’ to create the sort of record Code Orange should be making. However, tracks like ‘Mutagen’ demonstrate a more ethereal side and ends up being very pretty in a misshapen way. This will slay live.

The record can be streamed and purchased here.

Loop – Sonanacy

Alongside Spacemen 3, Loop helped droney psychedelic space rock become a more fashionable genre in the late 80’s. This, their first album since 1989, isn’t quite as overwhelmingly droney as previous outings but is certainly much more sharper and abrasive, certainly when it comes to the riffs (almost reminiscent of Chrome in places). ‘Halo’ is the most immediate and classic sounding song on here although ‘Penumbra II’ is the standout number owing to its combination of tribal beats, ambient melodies and a heavily processed guitar riff humming away in the background.

The record can be streamed and purchased here.

Mark Stewart – Vs

A man of never-ending enthusiasm, Bristol’s finest has gathered some friends for his first album in ten years. Once opining that his ideal working method was to “…crash a Slayer guitar line with Rotterdam gabba beats”, he takes that approach to its logical conclusion on here, with artists as disparate as Mike Watt, Front 242 and Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry spreading some of their genius. ‘Rage of Angels’ is a sensual and groovy EBM floor filler, while ‘Cast No Shadow’ updates Cabaret Voltaire’s paranoid funk for the 21st century and ‘Alpha’ is a washed-out piece of vocal psychedelia.

The album can be streamed and purchased here.

Guided by Voices – Crystal Nuns Cathedral

35 (!) albums into a career spanning nearly 40 years, Robert Pollard and his band of merrymen offer up an album that sees the band indulge in some Who worship, with ‘Re-Develop’ having a similar electric/acoustic crunch as ‘The Seeker’ and ‘Climbing a Ramp’ featuring cello work that threatens to veer into overblown Hollywood soundtrack fare but is restrained thanks to Pollard’s understated vocals and a Townshend inspired guitar lick from Doug Gillard. Oh, and ‘Birds in the Pipe’ flirts with ‘The Bees Made Honey…’ era Earth post-rock. Simply put, Guided by Voices rule.

The album can be streamed and purchased here.

Holy Island – Midnight Empire

Locating the experimental/post-punk element of indie pop that is often forgotten in favour of melodic jangling, Graham Blyth’s project is a refreshing surprise. There are even little moments of Shaggs style weirdness just randomly thrown in the mix. ‘Picasso Was a Suspect’ is the sort of tune The Wedding Present should be writing, while ‘_’ has the kind of atmospheric guitar tone that Maurice Deebank had with Felt and ‘Knots’ features moments of off-kilter rhythms and playback seamlessly mixed into the song, lifting it beyond the realm of jangly indie.

The album can be streamed and purchased here.

Aidan Baker – Tenebrist

For a change of pace, the Berlin based Canadian has gone in a direction akin to Loop collaborating with Godflesh on a collection of post-punk numbers. Opener ‘Tenebrist I’ is undoubtedly the most abrasive and noisy song on here, while others venture from jazzy ambient (‘Between the Shadow’) through to post-punk (‘Dramatic Illumination I’) and tribal beats (‘Violet Contrast’) and some seriously scuzzy bass (‘Chiaroscurious’). The end result is an album that could be the soundtrack to a ritual on a summers night up in the mountains.

The album can be streamed and purchased here.

Dvanov – Functional Music

With proceeds from this release going to the People in Need Ukraine Crisis Support, experimental music fans can support a necessary cause and catch up on an album that may have passed them by first time around. Saint Petersburg based Dvanon produce music that blends krautrock (‘We Will Take Everything Away from Them’) with garage and psychedelic rock (the title track) as well as bass driven post punk (‘Supermarket Store’), all with a commercial edge underpinning them.

The album can be streamed and purchased here.

Golden Oldie

Sonic Youth – Bad Moon Rising

Although a ubiquitous byword for “alternative rock” these days, this 1985 offering from one of NYC’s finest still stands up, not only as a force of nature, but also as a genuinely weird and unhinged indie rock record. With the title a nod to Creedence Clearwater Revival and ‘Death Valley 69’ referencing Manson, it’s a discordant, noisy record that looks at the mess of the hippie dream and how it highlights that death, according to Thurston Moore, is the whole meaning of America. ‘I Love Her All the Time’ is utter genius.



Neutral Milk Hotel – In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

One of the first records given classic status thanks to the internet, endlessly memed and its influence on the likes of Arcade Fire evident, retrospective listening reveals a record of extraordinary ambition and passion from Jeff Mangum. Melding lyrics that might be about Anne Frank with music that goes from lo-fi acoustic strummers to New Orleans funeral march, it’s an album that is widescreen and sepia tinged, leaving you nostalgic about a period that you never experienced. ‘Ghost’ manages to blend old timey swing with heartfelt singer-songwriter pathos and punk rock.




Death – Symbolic

Often regarded as the pinnacle of Chuck Schuldiner’s career (and one of the great death metal albums of all time), it’s often overlooked just how amazing Schuldiner’s lyrics are on this LP. Tracks like ‘1000 Eyes’ correctly predicted the end of privacy in the digital age, the title track discusses the contradictions of childhood and adulthood, and ‘Perennial Quest’ is a defiant (yet optimistic) declaration of intent. Musically, it’s the perfect blend of intricate technicality and melodic death metal and yet it is unmistakably the same individual who gave us ‘Scream Bloody Gore.’




Hawkwind – Space Bandits

Although their glory days were long behind them, this release from 1990 showcases a more metal sounding Hawkwind (hell, even Joe Petagno provides the album cover). Vocalist Bridget Wishart gives the material a (dare I say) more immediate and radio friendly tinge, while tracks such as ‘Black Elk Speaks’ keeps up the tradition of having the band pay tribute to their favourite authors (in this case, John Neihardt) and maintains a spacey, psychedelic electronic texture.



⏩ Christopher Owens was a reviewer for Metal Ireland and finds time to study the history and inherent contradictions of Ireland. He is currently the TPQ Friday columnist. 

Predominance 17

Christopher Owens 🎵 “This is my chance, this is my life/And my opening hour/This is my choice, this is my voice/There may be no tomorrow/This is my plea, this is my need/This is my time for standing free/This is my step, this is my depth/In a world demanding of me.”🎸 Dead Moon.

Horns Up

New Horizons 


Heriot – Profound Morality

Having recently been nominated for a Kerrang award, toured with Pupil Slicer and releasing this pulverising record, things are looking promising for this Birmingham based combo. This, their debut EP, blends the best elements of grind, industrial metal and hardcore together (especially evident in tracks like ‘Coalescence’ and ‘Carmine (Fills the Hollow)’ to create the sort of record Code Orange should be making. However, tracks like ‘Mutagen’ demonstrate a more ethereal side and ends up being very pretty in a misshapen way. This will slay live.

The record can be streamed and purchased here.

Loop – Sonanacy

Alongside Spacemen 3, Loop helped droney psychedelic space rock become a more fashionable genre in the late 80’s. This, their first album since 1989, isn’t quite as overwhelmingly droney as previous outings but is certainly much more sharper and abrasive, certainly when it comes to the riffs (almost reminiscent of Chrome in places). ‘Halo’ is the most immediate and classic sounding song on here although ‘Penumbra II’ is the standout number owing to its combination of tribal beats, ambient melodies and a heavily processed guitar riff humming away in the background.

The record can be streamed and purchased here.

Mark Stewart – Vs

A man of never-ending enthusiasm, Bristol’s finest has gathered some friends for his first album in ten years. Once opining that his ideal working method was to “…crash a Slayer guitar line with Rotterdam gabba beats”, he takes that approach to its logical conclusion on here, with artists as disparate as Mike Watt, Front 242 and Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry spreading some of their genius. ‘Rage of Angels’ is a sensual and groovy EBM floor filler, while ‘Cast No Shadow’ updates Cabaret Voltaire’s paranoid funk for the 21st century and ‘Alpha’ is a washed-out piece of vocal psychedelia.

The album can be streamed and purchased here.

Guided by Voices – Crystal Nuns Cathedral

35 (!) albums into a career spanning nearly 40 years, Robert Pollard and his band of merrymen offer up an album that sees the band indulge in some Who worship, with ‘Re-Develop’ having a similar electric/acoustic crunch as ‘The Seeker’ and ‘Climbing a Ramp’ featuring cello work that threatens to veer into overblown Hollywood soundtrack fare but is restrained thanks to Pollard’s understated vocals and a Townshend inspired guitar lick from Doug Gillard. Oh, and ‘Birds in the Pipe’ flirts with ‘The Bees Made Honey…’ era Earth post-rock. Simply put, Guided by Voices rule.

The album can be streamed and purchased here.

Holy Island – Midnight Empire

Locating the experimental/post-punk element of indie pop that is often forgotten in favour of melodic jangling, Graham Blyth’s project is a refreshing surprise. There are even little moments of Shaggs style weirdness just randomly thrown in the mix. ‘Picasso Was a Suspect’ is the sort of tune The Wedding Present should be writing, while ‘_’ has the kind of atmospheric guitar tone that Maurice Deebank had with Felt and ‘Knots’ features moments of off-kilter rhythms and playback seamlessly mixed into the song, lifting it beyond the realm of jangly indie.

The album can be streamed and purchased here.

Aidan Baker – Tenebrist

For a change of pace, the Berlin based Canadian has gone in a direction akin to Loop collaborating with Godflesh on a collection of post-punk numbers. Opener ‘Tenebrist I’ is undoubtedly the most abrasive and noisy song on here, while others venture from jazzy ambient (‘Between the Shadow’) through to post-punk (‘Dramatic Illumination I’) and tribal beats (‘Violet Contrast’) and some seriously scuzzy bass (‘Chiaroscurious’). The end result is an album that could be the soundtrack to a ritual on a summers night up in the mountains.

The album can be streamed and purchased here.

Dvanov – Functional Music

With proceeds from this release going to the People in Need Ukraine Crisis Support, experimental music fans can support a necessary cause and catch up on an album that may have passed them by first time around. Saint Petersburg based Dvanon produce music that blends krautrock (‘We Will Take Everything Away from Them’) with garage and psychedelic rock (the title track) as well as bass driven post punk (‘Supermarket Store’), all with a commercial edge underpinning them.

The album can be streamed and purchased here.

Golden Oldie

Sonic Youth – Bad Moon Rising

Although a ubiquitous byword for “alternative rock” these days, this 1985 offering from one of NYC’s finest still stands up, not only as a force of nature, but also as a genuinely weird and unhinged indie rock record. With the title a nod to Creedence Clearwater Revival and ‘Death Valley 69’ referencing Manson, it’s a discordant, noisy record that looks at the mess of the hippie dream and how it highlights that death, according to Thurston Moore, is the whole meaning of America. ‘I Love Her All the Time’ is utter genius.



Neutral Milk Hotel – In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

One of the first records given classic status thanks to the internet, endlessly memed and its influence on the likes of Arcade Fire evident, retrospective listening reveals a record of extraordinary ambition and passion from Jeff Mangum. Melding lyrics that might be about Anne Frank with music that goes from lo-fi acoustic strummers to New Orleans funeral march, it’s an album that is widescreen and sepia tinged, leaving you nostalgic about a period that you never experienced. ‘Ghost’ manages to blend old timey swing with heartfelt singer-songwriter pathos and punk rock.




Death – Symbolic

Often regarded as the pinnacle of Chuck Schuldiner’s career (and one of the great death metal albums of all time), it’s often overlooked just how amazing Schuldiner’s lyrics are on this LP. Tracks like ‘1000 Eyes’ correctly predicted the end of privacy in the digital age, the title track discusses the contradictions of childhood and adulthood, and ‘Perennial Quest’ is a defiant (yet optimistic) declaration of intent. Musically, it’s the perfect blend of intricate technicality and melodic death metal and yet it is unmistakably the same individual who gave us ‘Scream Bloody Gore.’




Hawkwind – Space Bandits

Although their glory days were long behind them, this release from 1990 showcases a more metal sounding Hawkwind (hell, even Joe Petagno provides the album cover). Vocalist Bridget Wishart gives the material a (dare I say) more immediate and radio friendly tinge, while tracks such as ‘Black Elk Speaks’ keeps up the tradition of having the band pay tribute to their favourite authors (in this case, John Neihardt) and maintains a spacey, psychedelic electronic texture.



⏩ Christopher Owens was a reviewer for Metal Ireland and finds time to study the history and inherent contradictions of Ireland. He is currently the TPQ Friday columnist. 

2 comments:

  1. @ Christopher Owens

    Re Spacemen 3 - have you read Will Carruthers memoirs? Great book. I bought one of his artworks as well.

    Book of Jobs is fantastic also.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Brandon,

      Will's a regular in the Black Box and I know people who hang out with him so I've heard the anecdotes over the years. I'll pick the books up one day!

      Delete