PREVIEW: Haema—Insurrection EP (2017)

Haema—Insurrection EP (2017)

Haema—Insurrection EP (2017)

About

Debut EP recorded at Initiate Audio & Media by Neil Hudson (Krysthla/Gutworm). Due for release in July 2017.

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Band

  • Jordon Calderwood—Vocals
  • Andrzej Jakubiuk—Guitar
  • Scott Stephenson—Bass
  • David Flitt—Drums

Tracks

  1. Eden
  2. Free Man
  3. Insurrection
  4. Thirte3n
  5. Two Minds

Review

So the email arrives and asks me if I’d be kind enough to review Haema’s forthcoming EP Insurrection. Sure! I’m always up for listening to new music. And then I listened to the preview. BLOODY HELL! THIS IS BRILLIANT!

Haema, a four-piece from Northamptonshire, UK, describe themselves as an experimental, industrialised, groove metal band. But that really doesn’t do them justice. Think: Rage Against the Machine meets Senser meets Circle of Dust meets Clawfinger. But heavier. Okay, let’s throw in some Fear Factory. Brilliant!

The EP opens with Eden (track 1). “What is the point of your existence?” a man asks. “To feel […] without love, without anger, without sorrow, breath is just a clock ticking.” A woman’s voice speaks above a soundscape. Then the riff kicks in. It’s tight and heavy. Jordon Calderwood’s vocals fluctuate between a Zack de la Rocha-style rap/rant and a metalcore-style bark. The song is both in your face and ponderous. There is space, plenty of space, plenty of depth and width to this song. It stops and starts and never ceases to be interesting.

Free man (track 2) rides a bouncy riff right from the get-go that morphs into a rap. “Now you can see / I’m not a puppet on a string / You know, I’m a free man…” The song is aggressive and melodic. It has an urgency and integrity that makes me believe without a shadow of a doubt that he is free.

The title track Insurrection (track 3) opens with the sound of an alarm—if Depeche Mode were in the alarm sound design business. Then a more traditional metal-style riff bursts in. It chugs along, steadily. And every time my head bounces in time to the beat. The vocals in this song remind me at times of early Mordred. There is a fragility about it, which is echoed in the guitar solo about three-quarters of the way through.

Damn! I could listen to this EP all day.

Thirte3n (track 4) is probably the most in-your-face metal track on the EP. It has a repetitive, blast-beat riff that sounds like someone is drilling through granite. The verses have this machine-gun burst riff. It’s interesting and gives the song movement. Then over the top of the carnage there is the most fragile and subtle of light melodies, like a butterfly floating across a battlefield.

The final track Two minds (track 5) is slower, more ponderous: a call and reply style riff that gives way to another RATM-style riff. It starts and. Stops. As it. Twists and turns. Following the. Rhythm of the. Vocals.

Conclusion

Haema EP coming soon

From my first play through of this extraordinary EP I’ve loved this collection of music. Sure people are going to make immediate comparisons to Rage Against The Machine and Senser, as I have done.  But that doesn’t detract from the quality of the playing, or the songwriting, or the production. Listen to the first two albums from Slayer—they wanted to be Mercyful Fate and King Diamond; Metallica played their first few years of gigs passing off Diamond Head and Budgie songs as their own until they found their own voice.

Given the chance Haema will also find their own distinct voice. But as a starting point, this is nearly perfect. I haven’t felt this excited by a not-entirely-metal release in a long time. I had the same burst of adrenaline and excitement listening to this as I did listening to Senser’s Stacked Up album in 1994. This album makes me smile and nod my head along to it for all the right reasons.

More like this please.

Review score: 100%

Bonus video

Disclaimer

In mid-June, Scott Stephenson (Haema’s bassist) contacted me inviting me to preview this EP.

I have no connections to Haema or any related companies or individuals; although I am a big fan of producer Neil Hudson’s previous work. I’m not being paid to review this.

Many thanks to Scott and the rest of Haema.

The Shizit—Live at Club Spirit (2008)

The Shizit—Live at Club Spirit (2008)

The Shizit—Live at Club Spirit (2008)

Details

Tracks 1 to 4 originally recorded on 13 September 2000 and released on mp3.com. Unreleased until 2008.

Band

  • J.P. Anderson—vocals, guitars, programming
  • Brian Shrader—guitars, backup vocals, samples

Tracks

  1. 32-bit whore (live)
  2. Anti-culture (live)
  3. Point click kill (live)
  4. Firewall (live)
  5. Audio jihad II (slip mix) *
  6. Anti-culture (slip mix) *
  7. Dear government (slip mix) *
  8. Just one fix (ministry cover) *

*bonus tracks

Review

Out of sheer laziness, I’ll hand the introduction to Wikipedia to cover the salient points:

The Shizit was a digital hardcore act from Seattle, Washington, USA, initially formed by J.P. Anderson and Brian Shrader in 1999. The music was an intense mix of gabber, breakbeat, drum and bass, hardcore techno, hardcore and heavy metal guitars, amped up with aggressive political lyrics.” (Source)

I expect that this genre of music would go down well in the bangin’ clubs and discotheques the length and breadth of the country. It is fast paced with heavy bass and rapid drum beats. This is music for dancing to, not sitting listening to. Ironically, though, if I was in a club (say, if I’d had a personality change) then I would probably prefer to sit and listen to the music, and analyse it than simply be carried away by its frantic beats.

Of all the tracks, I enjoyed only the final “Just one fix”. I found myself thinking, “This sounds like a Ministry song”. It is a Ministry song. That’ll be why, then.

Conclusion

I didn’t really connect with this album too much. And with the accompanying DVD even less. Sorry, it’s not you, it’s me.

Review score: 40%

The Republic of Desire—REALpolitik (2007)

The Republic of Desire—REALpolitik (2007)

The Republic of Desire—REALpolitik (2007)

Details

Recorded at studio Machinerie 28 during January to August 2006. Engineered by Kalle Lindberg. Drum engineering by Teemu Velin. Mixed at Astia Studios by Anssi Kippo. Mastered at Sonic House TM by Teemu Myyrylöinen. Produced by K Lindberg and The Republic of Desire. Released on Aural Music, 2007.

Band

  • Kalle Lindberg—Vocals, programming and keyboards
  • Losse  Alander—Guitar
  • Arto Eskola—Guitar
  • Paava Alander—Bass
  • ERK_Z—Keyboards
  • Matti Jarva—Drums

Tracks

  1. Babylon
  2. Vampiirs ov the west
  3. Critique
  4. Blood of the martyrs
  5. Eschatology
  6. REALpolitik
  7. The red sun
  8. Burning cities
  9. Mouth of the beast
  10. Gethsemane

Review

This is perhaps the album that I’ve listened to the most during this project. This is simply because it was scheduled to be reviewed the week after I moved house and into the university halls of residence of which I am now warden. And life really hasn’t slowed down any. So I am currently sitting on the Virgin Trains east coast service to London Kings Cross reviewing as many albums as I can to play catch-up.

This album has a very death metal meets industrial vibe. I’m sure there is probably a sub-genre to neatly accommodate this (industrial death?)

This is one heavy album. Thrashing guitars; fast, double-kick drums; with gruff ‘cookie monster’ vocals. This is the kind of album that can easily go wrong for me but The Republic of Desire pull if off perfectly.

The songs are interesting and dynamic. They are homogeneous enough to be recognisably by the same band and on the same album, but not so much that things get boring.

With the underlying bed of kick drums, snare cracks and thundering bass the only option for dynamism is in the guitars, keyboards and vocals, plus the various other effects, industrial beats and sounds they drop in around the album. Plus the stop. Start. Twists and turns. Of the. Music.

While many of the songs begin differently — some launch straight into the carnage, others dance around it with delicate keyboard riffs — they all end up in a familar dark and poundingly heavy place.

As the album progresses it seems to sound more and more lamentful. “Mouth of the beast” (track 9) in particular sounds distressingly sad. Like the mournful screams of a soul in torment. It quietly comes to an end and segues beautifully into “Gethsemane” which sounds like the wistful morning after the night before, the sun rising on a new day. It sounds more like a resurrection moment rather than Gethsemane (where Jesus was arrested ahead of his trial and crucifixion). But then perhaps both are simply opposite sides of the same coin.

Conclusion

From start to finish the album hardly lets up. But I have to admire it for that. There are some albums that just get under your skin, and this for me is one of those. Perhaps it’s bcause I’ve listened to it for so long. Perhaps it’s just a great album. I’d like to thing it’s both. I’ve put the time in and it has rewarded me.

Whatever it is, this has been the soundtrack to the start of the dissolution of my marriage. And with a band name of The Republic of Desire, ironically, that seems somehow altogether appropriate.

Review score: 100%

Twenty Ripped Angel—Days Full of Night (2004)

Twenty Ripped Angel—Days Full of Night (2004)

Twenty Ripped Angel—Days Full of Night (2004)

Details

Recorded at Invisible Sound Studios. Produced by Twenty Ripped Angel and Dave Nachodsky. Engineered by Dave Nachodsky. Released on Lime Records, 2004.

Website

Band

Information gleaned from elsewhere, I hope it’s correct.

  • Fritz T. Fell—Vocals
  • W. Sawczuk—Guitar
  • Cyril Charles—Bass
  • Rob Rabon—Keyboards and programming
  • S. Von Ziegler—Drums

Tracks

  1. One the way to Hell
  2. Here comes the losers
  3. Horror ride
  4. Sweet endeavors
  5. Somewhere in you
  6. She died a virgin
  7. Beautiful nothing
  8. Never ending joy
  9. Sixth
  10. The other side of me
  11. Solution 77

Review

This review has been a long time coming. I don’t think I’ve listened to an album to review quite as often as this one. There’s been a lot going down in my life just now on many levels, so I’ve been somewhat rather preoccupied with those things and not my CD collection. I’m playing catch-up once again.

But this has been a rather special CD to have as the soundtrack to these, at times, dark days. Days full of night, indeed.

Twenty Ripped Angel, on the giant Venn diagram of metal bands, fall somewhere in the area reserved by Killing Joke, Murder Inc., Circle of Dust (aka Brainchild), Ministry, and  Crowforce. This is the human edge to industrial music.

The album opens with Fell spitting out the lyrics “the devil was born in California”. Driving drums, and distorted guitars pound out the track, guitar solos cutting through the audio landscape like circular saws.

“Here comes the losers” (track 2) has a more staccato vibe that reminds me of Murder Inc. It has quite a punk feel to it.

“Somewhere in you” (track 4) has a relentlessly repetitive guitar riff that sounds somewhere between some kind of dangerous high voltage electrical equipment and a power saw. I love tracks like this.

“Beautiful nothing” (track 7) is another track with a terrific quirky riff. “Sixth” (track 9) also bounces you through the song.

Conclusion

That’s the curious thing about album. Just as you are about to dismiss the album as having run out of ideas, and about to label a track as a bit of a filler… it twists and surprises you. There is enough certainly to keep me interested from start to finish.

Even on my first couple of albums it felt like this album had always been in my collection. It just seems to fit somehow. Another keeper.

Review score: 89%

 

Deuterror—Le Gueule de Guerre (2007)

Deuterror—Le Gueule de Guerre (2007)

Deuterror—Le Gueule de Guerre (2007)

Details

Released 1 June 2007 on Steelwork Maschine.

Band

  • Nicolas Crombez (aka Deuterror)—One man project from Belgium

Tracks

  1. Untitled I
  2. Untitled II
  3. Untitled III
  4. Untitled IV
  5. Untitled V
  6. Untitled VI
  7. Untitled VII
  8. Untitled VIII
  9. Untitled IX

Review

This is Nicolas Crombez’s third album under the moniker Deuterror, the first two being internet-only releases.

The album title “Le Gueule de Guerre” is French for “The Mouth of War”.

I think I’m probably stretching boundaries quite a bit to categorise this album as metal, but we’ll run with it. It’s hard to pigeonhole exactly (which is always a good sign in my book). It’s broadly dark, ambient / drone / industrial.

The album certainly has a cinematic feel to it. Like the soundtrack to a really bleak, post-apocalyptic movie. It’s subtle, it’s atmospheric, and I really enjoyed it.

In a way it reminded me a bit of Towering Inferno‘s album Kadesh, but with the atmosphere of the soundtrack for Dear Esther.

Nine untitled tracks, which Last.fm helpfully labelled with Roman numerals, so I have followed suit. Here are my notes on the nine tracks:

  1. Insects. Pulsing bass.
  2. Pulsing electrical arcs. Train. Bells. Organ trumpets.
  3. Aircraft flying over. Rocket. Dischordant. Horns. Horrific choir.
  4. Rain. Thunder. Train. Birds. Someone walking breaking twigs.
  5. Deep horn. Mellotron. Gunshots. Distortion.
  6. Suffering voice. Growling bass.
  7. Strings. Chorus. Guitar and organ.
  8. Choir.
  9. Scraping tools. Drum beats.

And there it is. 43 minutes and 55 seconds worth of various noises.

Conclusion

I rather liked this album. It’s interesting, it’s experimental, at times uncomfortable, always challenging.

Review score: 94%

Rammstein—Liebe is für alle da (2009)

Rammstein—2009—Liebe is für alle da

Rammstein—2009—Liebe is für alle da

Details

Produced by Jacob Hellner with Rammstein. Engineered by Ulf Kruckenberg and Florian Ammon. Mixed by Stefan Glaumann at Toytown Studios, Stockholm. Assistant engineered by Tom van Heesch. Mastered by Erik Broheden and Henrik Jonsson at Masters of Audio, Stockholm. Recorded at Sonoma Mountain Studio Estate, CA. Assistang engineering by Michael Scully and Scott Church. Drums recorded at Henson Studio B, Los Angeles, CA. Assistant engineering by Nico Essig.

www.rammstein.de

Band

  • Till Lindemann—lead vocals
  • Richard Z. Kruspe—lead guitar, backing vocals
  • Paul H. Landers—rhythm guitar, backing vocals
  • Oliver “Ollie” Riedel—bass guitar
  • Christian “Flake” Lorenz—keyboards
  • Christoph “Doom” Schneider—drums

Tracks

  1. Rammlied (Rammsong)
  2. Ich tu dir weh (I hurt you)
  3. Waidmanns heil (Huntsman’s salute)
  4. Haifisch (Shark)
  5. B******** (Bückstabü, a made up word which means “Whatever you want”)
  6. Frühling in Paris (Springtime In Paris)
  7. Wiener blut (Viennese blood)
  8. Pussy
  9. Liebe ist für alle da (Love is for everyone)
  10. Mehr (More)
  11. Roter sand (Red sand)
  12. Führe mich” (Lead me) — bonus track
  13. Donaukinder (Children of the Danube) — bonus track
  14. Halt (Stop) — bonus track
  15. Roter sand (Orchester version) (Red Sand (Orchestral version)) — bonus track
  16. Liese (it’s a female first name) — bonus track

Review

Thanks to a chest infection I’m running a week behind schedule. I’d better get this review written now because a couple of days ago I downloaded the new Mastodon album (Once More ‘Round the Sun) and nothing else is getting airplay at Saunders HQ just now while that slab of rock settles in. My first Rammstein LP of this project Mutter (2001) scored a mighty 98%. How will this one fare?

It’s an odd thing, already being a fan of Rammstein I spun this disc a good few months ago on an evening that I was looking for something different to listen to. A cheeky wee listen-ahead I thought, and… well, I was thoroughly disappointed to be honest. However, listening to the CD almost non-stop for the last two weeks I now find myself wondering what I was listening to back then. Did I have different ears? What was I listening to it on? Was I just having a bad evening? Because this album rocks!

It’s been a surreal week. Half of it spent in bed, listening to the album via earphones on my smartphone; the other half listening to the same album at work on my Sennheiser’s. Or rather half-listening to conversations in English in one ear and lyrics in German in the other. And I don’t understand German.

Liebe is für alle da opens with something modern and choral—but altogether too fleeting. It’s quickly replaced with something new, German and hard and altogether Rammstein.

There is nothing particularly new about this album: massive riffs, booming Teutonic vocals, industrial grooves. It’s more of the same, and the same is great. You only have to close your eyes an imagine at which points the shooting pillars of fire will explode when they play these songs live.

And then there is their sense of humour. “Waidmanns heil” opens with a huntsman style horn. Is there a video for this? I can imagine Rammstein on horseback, dressed in red jackets hunting the huntsmen themselves. “B********” opens with a particularly Ministry-style guitar riff, which is fun.

And then there is “Pussy”, one of Rammstein’s few songs sung with English lyrics. I appreciate that it’s tongue-in-cheek, that it fits with the theme of “love is for all” but I still find it disappointing. If not entirely out of character, which I can forgive them for. But still, Rammstein can do much better than this.

“Frühling in Paris”, for example. The song mixes German and French lyrics which are awkward, endearing, sweet, disturbing, beautiful:

In a dress made of light she came up to me
I know like it was today*
I was so young
Feeling awkward
But still I never regretted it

She shouted words into my face
The tongue bristled with lust
It was only her language I didn’t understand
I didn’t regret it

More of that please.

The version I inherited was the two disc edition which includes four bonus tracks plus an orchestral version of “Roter sand”. (This isn’t the deluxe box set, by the way, which included six sex toys, handcuffs and lubricant!)

Conclusion

Having experienced rather a false start to this album, I’m delighted that the love that the album title suggested might be for all included me. And in turn I’ve loved it back.

Review score: 97%

Video

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KwfeF2JNIg]

Laibach—Volk Tour London CC Club (2007)

Laibach—Volk Tour, London CC Club (2007)

Laibach—Volk Tour, London CC Club (2007)

Details

A special limited edition 2 CD live album by Slovenian industrial/techno music group Laibach. The album is a full recording of the band’s live show in London at CC Club on 16 April 2007. CD 1 contains the first part of the concert with songs from Laibach’s new album Volk (2006) except for track ‘Vaticanae’, CD 2 contains a mix of other songs (mostly from album WAT (2003)).

Recorded by Will Shapland for Live Here Now & Will Shapland Mobiles. Assisted by David Loudoun, Chris Goddard, Joe Adams, Andy Rana, Saxon, Noggin, Iain Forsyth, MJ.

Band (pseudonyms)

  • Eber
  • Saliger
  • Dachauer
  • Keller

Tracks

CD 1

  1. Germania
  2. America
  3. Anglia
  4. Rossiya
  5. Francia (part 1)
  6. Francia (part 2)
  7. Italia
  8. España
  9. Yisra’el
  10. Türkiye
  11. Zhonghuá
  12. Nippon
  13. Slovania
  14. NSK

CD 2

  1. Tanz mit Laibach
  2. Alle gegen Alle
  3. Du bist Unser
  4. Hell: Symmetry
  5. Achtung!
  6. Das Spiel ist Aus
  7. Turbo-Volk Mix (by iTurk)

Review

A couple of years ago I attended a web conference (IWMW) for university web teams where I made friends with a cheery Welshman, Kevin Mears, who draws the most incredible graphical notes during talks. Soon our conversation turned to music and Kevin most heartily recommended that I listen to Laibach, a Slovakian industrial/avante-garde band I had never heard of Laibach before.

As chance would have it, a few months later I took delivery of this batch of 195 CDs and amongst them was this double, live album.

Laibach - Volk Tour London CC Club inside CD artwork

Laibach – Volk Tour London CC Club inside CD artwork

I usually don’t look up an album that I’m reviewing, in case it influences my opinion of it. I’d much rather draw my own conclusions. But after a few listens I was struggling with this one.

It was enough, however, to simply understand that this is the live version of Volk Laibach’s 2006 concept album inspired by thirteen national or pan-national anthems, including the anthem for NSK, the virtual state to which Laibach belongs. It all began to make a little more sense now that I had a little more context.

The second CD, it turns out, contains a mixture of other Laibach songs, mostly from the album WAT (2003).

The first CD is on the whole a very acoustic album. It is quiet and subtle; ponderous even. There are a few exceptions. ‘Yisra’el’ (track 9) has a bit of a bite to it, for example; and ‘Türkiye’ (track 10) has a nice groove. ‘NSK’ (track 14) has a triumphant-but-lamentful, marching soviet feel to it.

The second CD sounds almost like a completely different band. Like a club-thumpin’ Rammstein pounding out their bangin’ tunes! I rather enjoyed it to be honest, as mindless, background noise to some repetitive copy-and-paste task that was consuming me at the time.

Conclusion

My opinion of this album got better the more I listened to it, and the more I read about its concept. I imagine if this album started while WinAmp was set to random play I would likely listen to it again. But I couldn’t see myself hunting it out to put it on, to be honest.

Review score: 60%

Video