It seems that the world gets worse and worse each week, with recent events in America being particularly disheartening. I wish I had some words of encouragement, but that’s not where my head is right now. Instead, here are Albums of the Day for the past week – largely chosen with the intent of keeping myself grounded. Enjoy!
Fans of Jo Quail‘s previous records might find Exsolve to be a bit of a surprise. The cellist and composer has come to the attention of metal fans in recent years, touring with the likes of Amenra, Boris, and Winterfylleth, as well as appearing at festivals such as ArcTanGent. This is despite (or perhaps because of) her sound, up until this point, taking an innovative approach to the cello, resulting in compositions that have as much in common with drone and post-metal as they do modern classical. So, it is perhaps little surprise that Exsolve sees Quail team up with guests including Dan Capp (Winterfylleth), and Nik Sampson (Devilment, Prolapse A.D.). The result is an album that occupies a unique position in Jo Quail’s discography, being one of her most accessible, but also one where her distinctive musical identity is sometimes overshadows by her collaborators.
It’s an old tale: classic band splits. Classic band re-forms a few years later. Classic band releases new material. Classic band releases an absolute clanger of a record. Classic band splits, and we all collectively agree to never talk of said disaster of an album ever again. Classic band splits for the second time. Such was the case with Cancer, the UK’s death metal veterans who released some undeniable classics in the form of To the GoryEnd and Dead Shall Rise. They also released the horrid Spirit inFlames – but we won’t talk about that. Instead, we’ll focus on the fact that Cancer have reformed again, and have a new album, in the form of Shadow Gripped. And, other than the artwork, it’s an utter triumph. It’s the sound of a band who have learnt from past mistakes, and come back with something that can sit comfortably alongside their old classics. This is no-nonsense UK death metal, as vicious as ever, and it’s just what you want from Cancer.
I want to make something clear at the start of this review: Heads for the Dead are a very good band, and Serpent’s Curse contains some excellent songs. Given that the international band features a whole host of experience – with main member, multi-instrumentalist Johnny Pettersson being in about a dozen different extreme metal bands of various styles – it would be a surprise if that was not the case. But it’s also an album that can be slightly frustrating, where its own ambition gets the better of it. Being a tour-de-force of different styles of death metal, Serpent’s Curse ends up being somewhat inconsistent, and less than the sum of its parts. But despite this, it is still a very good album, and one that I recommend whole-heartedly.
At the start of the week, I had the idea that I would try and focus on more beautiful, hopeful music this week. Yet, as you’ll see, by Tuesday that idea was long gone – and by Thursday, and the way the American government seemed to be treating survivors of sexual assault, nothing felt appropriate save absolute rage. Fuck the patriarchy. Burn it all down.
A band that can scratch the same kind of itch as The Dillinger Escape Plan and Tool used to (before TDEP split and Maynard James Keenan was accused of rape) is undoubtedly an interesting proposition on paper. It’s also the kind of elevator pitch that sounds almost impossible to deliver on. And yet returning tech-metal band The Arusha Accord do just that with new EP Juracan. The first of four planned EPs, Juracan sees The Arusha Accord overcome some real adversity to deliver a varied, confident performance, as full of technical wizardry as it is emotion.
偏執症者 (Paranoid) have built up quite a reputation for themselves over the past few years, with their mix of Disclose-worshiping D-beat grit, Japanese hardcore madness, and heavy metal heroics seeming like a combination that is perhaps an obvious one; but it’s one that few, if any, other bands do quite so well. New album Heavy Metal Fuck-Up!, as its title implies, has a much more metallic edge to it than previous releases, but it’s still recognisable as 偏執症者 (Paranoid) through-and-through. Imagine a combination between early Sodom and Disclose (but with a halfway decent production), and you’re pretty much there; and Heavy Metal Fuck-Up! is every bit as violent, energising, and exciting as that implies. It’s hardly original; but that doesn’t stop it being bloody great.