TesseracT- One

(Century Media)

It’s no secret that we’re a bit dismissive of this whole ‘djent’ thing here. To be honest it might be because we’re old. I remember the term being used back when I was a nipper, perusing the Meshuggah forums in between pretending to study for my A-Levels, so I’m about 8 years ahead of the game here. I have no idea why I used to read the Meshuggah forums. It’s full of tech speak and bellends, but it was my first time using the internet properly and I don’t think Encyclopedia Dramatica or imagefap existed at that point, so I had piss all else to look at.

Anyhoo, enough about the past. This techy chugging robotic stuff is hot shit now. You can’t turn a street corner without bumping into some busker hammering out stuttering stacatto riffs along with a drum machine piddling about in 17/3.144 time. Some of it’s pretty good too, like this, but then again most of it’s fucking bollocks, like this.

By the way if the latter band there make it big, I’ll murder each and every last one of you ok?

TesseracT, despite all my pissing and moaning, are ok really, and One’s pretty enjoyable. Once you filter through the dumb hyperbole and bullshit marketing, it’s solid stuff. The heavy guitars could sound a bit beefier and half of these songs were on an EP which is maybe a bit cheeky, but what the hell I got it free because I’m a media wanker.

I quite like One in much the same way I quite liked the Chimp Spanner album. There’s no deep reasoning here, I like it because it sounds a bit sci fi, and I am a fucking nerd and space is cool. It also reminds me of SiKTh a lot, only without the dumb lyrics. Actually I’ve no fucking clue what the lyrics are about, but the man sings them pretty. Too pretty for my taste if I’m honest, but at least they’re better than the vocals on the Periphery album. Goddammit they were unbearable. There’s not a lot of pointless Animals as Leaders style widdling either, which is great, because there’s nothing worse than a guy wanking away on a guitar to the detriment of no one but the wanker himself. Instead the guitarist chappies are quite fond of their atmospheric, reverb drenched clean tones, which are a lot more… tasteful? I like them. In fact these moments are easily my favourites on the album. They’re a little bit Vangelis. Vangelis is brilliant.

Whatever. Despite an initial reticence brought about by some shameful media over-exposure and my disgust for anything technical (seriously, music should be a form of expression, not a bloody maths challenge), TesseracT have just about managed to remove themselves from my ‘GET TAE FUCK’ box. I wasn’t impressed by songs I’d heard before, but in the context of the record they’re perfectly servicable. They all segue together and make up a whole or something, I dunno. It’s maybe a bit too long and by the last song it’s run out of steam, but christ at least it’s not European death thrash, which is all I seem to fucking get sent these days. They’re not going to have me cantering bollock naked down the street roaring ‘YOU MUST HEAR THIS YOU FECKLESS GOONS’ but I wouldn’t be offended if a song came on shuffle either. I’d maybe skip past it but not in an ‘aaaargh nooo’ way.

I’m tits deep in 90s noise like Molly McGuire and Shiner at the minute, and I saw Today is The Day the other, eh, day, so something as clean and clinical sounding as this TesseracT album should be anathema to me, but even a swampy misanthrope can sort of grudgingly appreciate what they’re trying to do. Of course the album will get stupidly overhyped and then there’ll be a huge backlash once Nu Metal reclaims it’s rightful throne, but TesseracT can rest easy in the knowledge that this barely read, rarely updated site won’t rag on them. Not that much anyway.

The Djentanic sailed on without me and didn’t even throw me a djinghy, but TesseracT at least waved goodbye and tried to chuck me some supplies, unlike the other djicks.

Seriously fuck anyone who says djent without wincing even a little bit.

http://www.tesseractband.co.uk/

Kyuss? My arse!

(Academy, Manchester, Tuesday 5th April)

There were some people that night who came to the pop concert thinking they would be watching a band called Kyuss.

They were wrong.

Sorry, but this ain’t Kyuss. Not even close.

Sure, some will say that bands alter their line-ups all the time, often to little or no discernible effect, and that it’s not really a big deal when they do. But not Kyuss. Not on my watch. Epic Logic Fail, mate.

This is like if Steve Harris left Maiden, or if Denise Post-Van Rijswijk left Vengaboys, or if Scott Stapp left Creed. I’m completely baffled, bemused and brain-damaged by the question of just who the FUCK Bruno Favery thinks he is.

Everyone knows that the core component of the rock ‘n’ roll life is an almost autistic devotion to ferreting up every single miniscule fact about a given band, and then using it to put other, lesser fans in their place. So, with that in mind, I’ve done my homework. And Josh Homme’s surname is not pronounced ‘hom.’ It is pronounced ‘hommie.’ As in ‘mommy’. As in who Bruno Favery will be crying to after I finish this epic pwn.

Hell comma, on the surface, it all sounded awesome. But then it would, wouldn’t it? If anything, as the weakest link, Bruno has to play everything note-perfect to prove he is worthy of playing in a band of actual Kyuss members. But it must never be forgotten that he fucking well isn’t an actual Kyuss member. I’d carve it into his chest with a dirk made of dogshit, if I could. Manchester Academy made him feel very welcome, to my absolute wretched disgust, so I stood at the back sneering at the fucking lot of them. The cowards.

Brant Bjork sat behind the drums like the world’s most talented King Charles Spaniel, and brought with him the impeccable groove he is best known for. His kick drum belted puffs of air out of the bass bins directly into our faces, and his ride cymbal washed across the room like rays of sunshine. Meanwhile Nick Oliveri, while conducting himself more sedately than one might have expected, still brought a bit of punkish snarl to stage right, and his backing vocals were a lovely touch. He didn’t even seem to struggle with playing the parts he didn’t write. I give him 10 pats on the head out of 10 for that.

John Garcia isn’t getting any slimmer, but he commanded the stage with a presence that was forceful and never anything less than total fucking don. And his voice has gone nowhere, even though we already knew that very well, what with him putting out a continual trickle of forgettable projects and guest appearances ever since Kyuss broke up. He snarled us through a set mainly comprising tunes from …Sky Valley with a few from …Red Sun, and the cracks filled in with bits and bobs off …Leaves Town. Personal highlights were Gardenia, Thumb, Asteroid, Supa Scoopa, and El Rodeo. Green Machine got probably the night’s biggest cheer, but notable by their absence were Demon Cleaner and Spaceship Landing.

Personally, I’d been looking forward to seeing Whitewater played, what with it being the greatest Kyuss song going, and what with me missing it at Roadburn in order to get a journalistically-frivolous second look at Karma To Burn. But tonight, predictably, almost as if it was a personal fucking slight, this is where the Awesome Sauce had to come to an end.

Favery’s guitar just had to start fucking up, didn’t it. This is your reunited fucking Kyuss right here, folks. There’s been reports up and down of this Belgian chancer getting bits of Hommie-Rhymes-With-Mommy’s sublime and inimitable guitar parts wrong. Well on this occasion, I didn’t notice any mistakes, but I guess he must have been making them, because they apparently backed up in the tubes and broke his amplifier. For Fuck’s Sake. I’m prepared to lay my life on it that Hommie-Rhymes-With-Mommy wouldn’t have made those mistakes. Know why?

“Josh Homme also has been quoted as saying he eats up to three pineapples before going on stage to give him the energy to play guitar professionally.” That’s from Wikipedia. Mate.

Did Bruno Favery eat enough pineapple? No, I think it is completely fucking apparent that he did not.

The fact of the matter is that unless Josh Homme gets on board with this ridiculous and blatant moneyspinner, I’m going to be allocating the ‘pop concerts’ column of my budget spreadsheet elsewhere. The creative core of Kyuss is, was, and always will be Josh Homme. Don’t believe me? Go check out the songwriting credits on any of Kyuss’ albums. Ignore all the other names, though.

And even though we haven’t got a fucking clue how good Favery actually is, since he’s just playing another man’s music, I’m prepared to say, with no basis whatsoever, that he isn’t fit to shine Homme’s boot with his ringpiece. And come to think of it, I’ll go you one further. I’m going to bet Homme was telling Oliveri exactly what to play, and also punishing Garcia for any rehearsal fuck ups with electric shocks. And he used to operate Bjork’s arms for him, using bits of string like a marionette, until he’d got the gist of the drum parts that Homme definitely made up by himself. And Oliveri isn’t even the real Kyuss bass player anyway, that’s Scott Reeder. The more I write, the madder I get.

All in all, a pile of fucking rubbish.

10/10

Blackfield – Welcome to My DNA

(Kscope Music)

Once upon a time a lady squeezed out Steven Wilson. Steven Wilson started a band. The music was good so he made another band. And then another. And another. Another and another. MORE.

If you’d like to just imagine for me Steven Wilson as a great bloated cat lying on her back pooping out kittens, Blackfield is the runt, the thing that stumbles around shaking and pissing on the floor with all of its fur falling out. By now I hope you’ve guessed that this is a rather opinionated review. Hi.

Steven has been hailed as a God, a genius, a King, a hero, blah blah blah by fans of progressive rock. He certainly has talent, and a love for what he does. His solo debut ‘Insurgentes‘  is a record that confirms that. It’s bursting full of lyrical reverie, the title track full to brim of bright and eerie sounds that trickle through the ears. Go check out Puncture Wound, Insurgentes, and especially No Twilight Within the Courts of the Sun (which is outstanding).

So I’m awfully confused about the new thingy from Blackfield, Steven Wilson’s project with his Israeli fanboy Aviv Geffen. Dubbed ‘Welcome to My DNA‘, this is the third studio album released by the duo (and the other three members of the current line-up who ding a triangle occasionally, or do a little insincere hoot in the background on a couple of tracks). And these are real lyrics as conceived by Geffen:

“Fuck you all, fuck you, fuck you all, fuck you. I don’t care. I don’t care. Fuck you all fuck you, fuck you all fuck you. I don’t care anymore.”

The crux of this supposedly extremely moving and meaningful insight into Aviv Geffen’s relationship with his parents is completed with “go to hell, go to hell! Go to hell, go to hell, go to hell! Fuck you all, fuck you all, fuck you all!”

Steven Wilson has put his name to this.

Needless to say on first listen I felt gravely concerned for the man. What had happened? Had he suffered some kind of awful accident? I pictured the prog darling flopping down a flight of concrete stairs, in a crashed car; suffering a stroke on the toilet whilst eating a Greggs Cornish pasty or suffocating under the weight of a certain great big fat groupie during intercourse, and all those brain cells popping and fading away. It was unbelievable.

The album is a lump. It doesn’t work. Geffen and Wilson have tried to put together a cohesive piece of music, they really have, but it’s a slushy sandcastle. Obnoxious strings, lyrics that sound like extracts from a thirteen year old boy’s Facebook account, mediocre drums, dopey and arbitrary chord progressions. It’s an absolute disaster. In places, it sounds like something you’d hear piddling through a tinny Argos radio in an office cafeteria. Glass House sounds like a fucking Take That song. I can imagine Piers Morgan listening to Rising of the Tide, patting his hand on the solid oak kitchen table, vacuous stare peering into the empty white space this record provides. In Waving, Steven Wilson throws his head back and burps out a Michael Jackson-esque ‘oh!’. It’s comic.

On further distraught investigation, I discovered that only one track on the album had actually been written by Wilson. Yet even then, the entire album is heartbreakingly weak. It’s the musical equivalent of a grandmother sneezing silently into a crumpled balsam tissue. And then quietly excusing herself. Whilst wearing an adult nappy.

I understand the need for new direction in each individual musical project, especially if you’re as fucking everywhere as Steven Wilson, but this doesn’t excuse the lack of enthusiasm in this record, or the lack of quality, or the lack of creativity. Bad. Bad bad. I hope this lapse in quality isn’t for long. I guess we’ll find out with yet another project Steven’s putting the finishing touches to with Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt (set for early 2012). WELP.

 

Snot  / 10

 

Absolute Power- S/T

(FETO Records)

My suspicion is that a single glance at the artwork above will suffice to tell you whether or not you’re going to like this record. Some will say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I’ve been living by that strategy for years, and I think it’s served me well. Thus far, it’s kept me well clear of books by Simon Fucking Pegg and JK Bastard Rowling, so I’m sticking with it.

Look, I’m not going to waste your time and mine by trying to bluff an expert knowledge of the sort of bombastic, dramatic heavy metal that forms the bedrock of Absolute Power; and there are a multitude of writers out there better equipped and qualified to evaluate this album on the basis of its metal pedigree than I am. Instead I have something else in mind, and I bet you cannot fucking well wait to find out what.

What you’ve got here, as far as I can gather, is a love letter to heavy metal written by a supergroup of blokes who have more than made their mark on the business of rock. I like listening to it, and I think it’s a really neat record. I find the idea of experienced musicians compiling a scrapbook tribute to all the music that shaped them intrinsically valuable and worthwhile. If you like metal even a bit, you’ll enjoy something about this. You will note that I am very confident of this. So, think on. It is a great album.

The promo materials indicate there’s a higher artistic purpose, too – a marriage between classic heavy metal ideation and up-to-the-picosecond production techniques. Further, we read: “What began as a nostalgia-trip has evolved into a full-blown mission: spreading the rebirth of old school metal to the masses.”

Ah. Unlucky.

Every so often, some self-invented music guru comes along to assess the health of rock-as-a-genre, and, after trying to span the history of music in a couple of paragraphs, concludes that the prognosis isn’t good. Look, it’s coughing up alarming orange phlegm and everything, they will say. Is that a bedsore or a birthmark? What’s this unpleasant grey porridge leaking from its penis? Should we call a doctor in or something?

The last man to try this tactic on, at least by my reckoning, was Sam Leith in the Guardian, wherein he described how rock is the David Brent of music genres; dated, embarrassing and monumentally deluded about how cool it is. With reflection, I think Leith might have a point, despite the Guardian being the organ of record for self-deceiving liberal idiots everywhere, and therefore wrong by default in almost every single identifiable instance.

Among the fans, the reaction to this is as typical as it is predictable. It begins as a sort of muted outrage, passes through gentle knee-twitching and ends with the sniffed contention that the culprit just doesn’t ‘get’ rock.

This is a problematic argument for me though, because one, there is fuck all to ‘get’; and two, because I’m beginning to agree. Rock really is dead, or at least on its last gasp; and Absolute Power prove it. When you’re crafting retro-modern erotica about music that was vaguely hip and relevant nearly 30 years ago, you really might as well be writing a eulogy. I’m not saying I blame the band. All they’ve done is try and shut the stable door long after the horse is being used to put up wallpaper. They’re just the men with the bagpipes at the funeral, that’s all.

But then again, Leith’s not entirely correct, either. It’s not the music itself that resembles David Brent; it’s a fucksight too self-aware for that. Absolute Power insist they aren’t a parody band, and I’m prepared to buy that; but I refuse to believe that they don’t have all their tongues wedged up their cheeks as they write stuff like Full Metal Roar or Raging Pursuer. I just will not chuffing have it. All the best metal bands are patently, obviously aware of how silly the trappings are. All the worst metal fans, however, are not.

Your bog-standard metalhead is no stranger to the land of imagination. Here is a man (and it’s usually a man) who thinks the fact that he listens to raucous noise for bell-ends and owns a wardrobe full of illegible t-shirts makes him tough. He works in IT and is going rapidly bald. His diminutive penis hasn’t been squashed into the guts of nearly enough women for his liking, but at least the sad, thin gruel produced by his seed-like testicles has managed to root itself in his embittered wife’s uterus on a couple of occasions, so he carries with him everywhere the incipient smugness shared by every single middle class parent.

He refuses to cut his fucking hair off and has a number of tattoos he pretends not to regret, because he thinks he is still a rebel at heart rather than a child. He is nearly done paying off a Ford Focus, rather than a Harley Davidson, but still believes he will own one, one day. He religiously buys Metal Hammer from Tesco’s (never Kerrang!), and sneaks into the bogs at his work with it. He thinks DevilDriver have got some ‘hooks’. He owns at least one guitar, but doesn’t know what the knobs at the top end are called. He can play some Nirvana riffs, though, check this shit out. Wait, hang on. No, wait. It’s been a while, sorry. What’s E major again?

That’s your David Brent, that man right there, and he loves this album despite not remotely understanding it. He’s the state of metal in 2011; a New Rock boot, stamping on a goatee-wearing eyebrow-pierced face, frozen in an expression of bewilderment because it hasn’t got the joke, forever.

He’s the one who killed rock, and he killed it by trying to use it for a personality.

http://www.myspace.com/absolutepoweruk