Review: Mamaleek – Out of Time

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Label: The Flenser

The promo for Out of Time, the new album from Mamaleek, describes the duo as “black metal weirdos”. It feels like a fair description; but also, on the evidence presented here, like a fairly tenuous one. That’s not intended as any kind of slight; rather, as anyone who has previously listened to the band will know, Mamaleek make the kind of music that isn’t so much difficult to categorise, as it defies genre almost completely. Out of Time, at various points made me think of funk; later-day David Bowie; art rock; Swans; dark jazz and, yes, avant garde metal. And yet, it always feels coherent, moving with singular purpose and direction, and far easier to lose yourself in than such a combination of styles might suggest. But more than that, it is an album with an unusual sense of character and humanity; most extreme music can feel like it is putting up a barrier between performer and audience, but this? This album wants to invite you in to share its pain.

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Review: noemienours – As a Bear Doth her Whelps

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Label: Self-released

Now on to record number three, the aesthetic of noemienours is becoming well-established. Rooted in an underground DIY mindset, and with a vegan perspective, the music on these records is beautifully low-fi, filled with a tension and tenderness that is at once arresting and soothing; the kind of music that is perfectly suited for late-night listening, to quieten the noise in your head. New record As a Bear Doth her Whelps continues to use bears as a central part of imagery and aesthetic, but increasingly this feels like a metaphor to express ideas about isolation, society, and disconnect from nature. It’s sad, beautiful, and quite moving.

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Review: The Armed – Only Love

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Label: Throatruiner Records

About thirty seconds into Only Love, the second album from The Armed, the thought occurs that this is what the future must sound like. The mix of hardcore/punk guitars, frantic electronics, and restless drumming (courtesy of Ben Koller of Converge and All Pigs Must Die, amongst others) produces a real rush of adrenaline and endorphins, and leaves the listener unsure whether to launch themselves into reckless dancing or simply staring in awe at what the band are creating. It’s a feeling that more or less lasts throughout the album and subsequent listens, making Only Love one of the most innovative, exciting albums released under the broad spectrum of hardcore thus far in 2018.

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Review: Koniec Pola – Cy

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Label: Devoted Art Propaganda

Cy isn’t your typical release. The new album from Polish band Koniec Pola opens with the sound of bells, swirling winds, warped percussion, and, after several minutes, a burst of heavily twisted voices. It gets no easier from there. Stradling the lines between post-rock, post-black metal, traditional folk, and all wrapped up in a defiantly avant-garde mindset and psychedelic atmosphere, Cy is the kind of album that you might get if Negura Bunget and Einsturzende Neubauten decided to do a record together. Based around the concept of a place that is simultaneously real and imaginary, and making use of unique instruments crafted by the band themselves in addition to the traditional bass/guitar/drums set-up, Cy is a unique album, full of adventurous, experimental spirit.

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Rabitrup – SWVMPS II

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Label: Self-released

The first release from RabitrupSWVMPSwas a nightmarish journey of industrial noise and damaged melody, as addictive as it was difficult to listen to, with emotional gut-punches to go along with the musical ones. The follow-up, SWVMPS II, is a slightly more accessible listen, but it’s still a difficult twenty minutes. Ineligible screams emerge from beneath hyper-speed drum’n’bass rhythms, along with waves of piercing noise and brutalised guitars, all emerging from some ruined, yet still human, psyche. But as overwhelming and challenging as it can be, SWVMPS II is a rewarding EP, offering a kind of catharsis that is as physical as it is emotional.

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Aidan Baker / Simon Goff / Thor Harris – Noplace

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Label: Gizeh Records

Recorded in a few short, improvised hours one day in May 2017 by the trio of Aidan Baker (Nadja), Simon Goff (Molecular), and Thor Harris (Swans, Thor & Friends), Noplace is an album that possesses the kind of depth that would never hint at the way it was created, even if it has been edited down from that improvised session. Hypnotic in the most wonderful of ways, Noplace is an album that creates a psychedelic haze, taking the listener to some place more relaxing and spiritually cleansing than whatever place you may find yourself physically within. This is music that is good for the soul.

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