Saturday, January 5, 2008

Nothing Unnatural About This!

AGAINST NATURE – “The Anxiety Of Influence” CD ’07 (Blandhand, US) – One of the things that I love about doing what I do is seeing a band take the “next step.” You get a lot of discs in the mail in this bizz and so many times you think to yourself, “Man, if these guys make that extra push they could really do something special.” Problem is, all too often, they never make that “next push.” Here is a case, and mark it down friends, as it doesn’t happen that often…a band has taken an absolute quantum leap. Maryland’s AGAINST NATURE has gone from being a pretty good doom band to something that could be called timeless. I have to admit when I first put this disc in the player & looked at the insert, I was expecting an EP. Reason is, there are 2 cuts listed, “Aporia” & “Mimesis.” However upon going further, it struck me that they were both in the 20-some-minute range. A quote from, of all people, The Eagles formed in my brain: “This could be heaven or this could be hell.” Dudes & dudesses, it’s the former. I honestly don’t have a completely good or well-prepared way to even describe how good these 2 lengthy-yet-highly-interesting and challenging pieces are. This is like what would have happened if Alex Lifeson, Tony Iommi, Peter Hammill & Burke Shelley got together at Rockfield Studios in 1977 and decided to roll tape. Heavy, yet melodic parts with a distinctly old-school & warm production flow together into acoustic passages, segueing with the deft touch of wily veterans and yet the brimming with the exuberance of young artists. And, with that all, they still rock! Special kudos go out to guitarist John Brenner who laces the entire disc with a complete study in tonal expression that ranges anywhere from warm, creamy Trower-ish sounds to sharp harmonics that would do Mr. Gibbons proud. His vocals also have gone from being a bit of a downer on some previous recordings to an absolute melodic asset here, full of expression & understated command. Wow, what a move these guys have made since last I heard them and I cannot over-emphasize how much you need this release by AGAINST NATURE. Awesome.

DRAWN & QUARTERED – “Merciless Hammer Of Lucifer” CD ’07 (Moribund, US) – Seattle, Washington. Known for grunge, Queensryche, coffee, rain and the bald-headed quarterback. Ok, maybe that’s not exactly fair…so no nasty emails from Seattle readers, ok, ‘cause your fair city has also been home to a very prolific if not pretty damn good death metal band called DRAWN & QUARTERED. Now understand, you’ll not find drastic innovation here. It’s not that 4-piece have been yawning their way through the last umpteen years & releases either, as this newest one shows me a band who are razor sharp and bent on aural destruction. Cuts like “Funeral Pyres Of Annihilation” & “Sodomy & Heresy” make you see why, quite often, less is more. Who needs all the extra instruments & gothic trappings of bands like Opeth when you can get your head removed by a buzz-saw like this?

ROTOR – “3” CD ’07 (Elektrohasch, Ger) – I really like Stefan K’s Elektrohasch label a lot. That’s because he always sends me stuff. No, just kidding. Well, not about him sending me stuff, as he does do that, but you want to know the real reason I dig the ‘Hasch? The releases are almost universally excellent. ROTOR’s new one, the imaginatively (!) titled “3” is surely excellent, something not easy to say about a lot of instrumental albums. Oft-times when I think of vocal-free recordings these days, I’m reminded of super-technical, feeling-less, classically-inspired wankery. Such is just so not the case with ROTOR. Those of you who just got their brand-spanking-new AARP cards (like me) will remember the days when you used to go into the head-shop/record store near the local college & find the long-haired, bearded, ultra-cool guy who ran the place spinning the latest import by Jane or Grobschnitt. That’s what this stuff reminds me of, just sans the vocals. And you know what? Tracks like “Hart Am Wind,” “Nordend” and “Kaltstart” find enough memorability among the jamming that you’ll never miss some yokel shouting over the proceedings. Good stuff again from Mr. Stefan & Co.!

1 comment:

Michael said...

You're not kidding about that new AGAINST NATURE CD. It's a totally inspired/flowing gtr epic, a "Terrapin Station Suite" for the newest doom generation! And I love it when they quote DAVE BRUBECK's "Take Five". Hell, I'd say it puts their entire REVELATION back catalog to shame.

Plus, it's downloadable from their website. Gotta love a band who'd go and do that. Music wants to be free!