Getintothis wallows in the sludge of Relapse Records’ finest, while The Wu-Tang bring the noise.
High On Fire: Death Is This Communion – Album Of The Week
There’s something strangely comforting about a record on Relapse. Whether it’s the macabre yet beautiful illustrative artwork or the relentless commitment to keeping things heavy, Relapse is a byword for quality.
The same can be said for one of their flagship bands High On Fire, Oaklands’ propulsive power trio specialise in hitting hard and Death Is This Communion is their latest hammerblow.
Released late last year, it’s sludgy sonic warfare shares the dense, thud of stoner deities Sleep, but there’s a wealth of diversity on offer that their forefathers opted out on.
Check the nifty rattle of Waste of Tiamat which explodes into a blood-curdling burning mess of guitar pyrotechnics, or the Arabian rhythms of Khanrad’s Wall.
Elsewhere Des Kensel‘s one minute double bass drum solo interlude on Headhunter provides a timely break in the relentless riffery while DII finds Matt Pike layering progressive rock solos over medieval atmospherics.
High On Fire are as heavy as they come, but their true asset is knowing when to throw a curve ball to make you sit up and really take notice.
For fans of: Slaying, Mastodon, gnarly kids.
One More Grain: Isle Of Grain
White Heat Records
The scrawled inlay notes to Isle of Grain allude to Roland Barthes‘ (he of literary theory for first year undergraduates) The Grain of the Voice, with the quote: ‘The voice is really what is at stake in modernity.’
See, Isle of Grain’s Lancastrian ‘wordsmith’ Daniel Patrick Quinn is wrapped up in what he’s saying and how he’s saying it. All Mark E Smith slurs possessed by the spirit of Fred Dibnah – a drunken Warburton’s Ad-man if you like.
Musically t’Grain are all post-punk time signatures, junkshop twanging and mind-looping brass which coupled with the messy mania emitted from Quinn’s gob is either beguiling or bloody awful depending on which side of the bed you rolled out of.
Or as Quinn puts it: ‘All is still ’til I come walking in, I do my best to turn rooms into carnivals… But they say I’m off my rocker.’
For fans of: Car boot sales, Stanley Unwin, Pere Ubu.
Wu-Tang Clan: 8 Diagrams
Wu Music Group
Who’s your favourite Wu? You must have played that game before?
If you’re leaning towards Raekwon or Ghostface, and expecting an Enter The Wu Tang 2, then you’re come to the wrong Shaolin temple.
But while all the pre-release talk was of rifts and RZA going ‘hippie hip hop’, 8 Diagrams is far from a disappointment and hangs together better than perhaps any Wu record since their incredible debut offering, certainly topping anything the collective had done since 97’s Forever.
Sure there’s less face-breakers, but there’s countless menacing body blows backed by incredible RZA studio trickery cloaked in shadows and brooding edge.
Deviating from their Wu manual finds them covering smoky Soul (Stick For My Riches), Beatles-sampling psychedelia (The Heart Gently Weeps) and blaxploitation wah-metal ala Funkadelic (Unpredictable).
Dense, complex, uber-layered and closing with a fitting tribute to ODB, 8 Diagrams is a record which has been lost in a heap of controversy and crossed words, but the music will be revisited and marvelled over in years to come.
For fans of: Killer Bees, Chrome Hoof, Tical.
The Notorious Hi-Fi Killers: Which Side Are You On?
Honestly, is someone breeding these type of bands?
Better than The Warlocks, more consistent than your average BJM record, but without ever reaching the dizzying highs of Comets On Fire, Notorious Hi-Fi Killers are a thudding, maelstrom of shoe-gaze and rock & roll skuzz while Which Side Are You On? sounds like it was recorded in a sock. A big, fat, wet one soaked in shitty bourbon.
For fans of: Dead Meadow.
Xiu Xiu: Women As Lovers
Kill Rock Stars
Unanimously championed by Net hipsters, San Jose’s Xiu Xiu is Jamie Stewart‘s baby; an art-rock riot of cascading synth-noise and goth chamber rock.
And while there’s always something to admire in their dark confessional myriad of blips and squelches, Women As Lovers is a noir too far.
As annoying as it is unsettling, opener I Do What I Want, When I Want exemplifies the record as a whole – clattering percussion and ridiculous jaunty glockenspiel interrupted infrequently by Stewart’s wet-bed stories.
Sure they get it right momentarily, No Friend Oh! has a glorious moment of gleeful trumpets, while the outrageously funny cover of Under Pressure adds some much-needed spark to a desperately desperate record.
But when a cover of Queen is a standout, you know you’re fucked.
For fans of: Self-immolation.