Alice Cooper, Detroit Stories (earMUSIC 2021)

Rock and Roll icon Alice Cooper takes a nostalgic strut through the historic musical verity of Detroit.

I don’t have to tell you who Alice Cooper is, right? I have written many times about how his music, together with Black Sabbath, Blue Öyster Cult, and Nazareth, were the first sounds I heard that turned me toward the heavy. He did have a period of metal music, but that is not the way he started out and most of his work is in the hard rock lane with plenty of pop rock/metal orientation. Oh, and Shock Rock. Yeah. He did that first.

Cooper was born in 1943 and so he is now 73 years old. How is that affecting his musical composition and performance? Not in any apparent negative way, I can tell you that. I saw him at the Greek Theater in LA a couple summers ago and the show was amazing. The performance was just as energetic and exciting as it was decades ago. I don’t know how he still does it, but he definitely still does.

If you look at his recent studio albums, they are up to a high standard as well. The most recent one was Paranormal in 2017, and it is filled to the brim with rockers and bangers, crisp and cracking. He continues to cover a lot of the same subjects as he has in the past, and if anything he his music has become less gimmicky, leaning more towards a straight-forward rock approach.

There are fifteen tracks on the new album. Cooper’s voice is strong and familiar. And unique. The music is guitar driven hard rock, running radio length. There are a couple songs that are a little longer, but they are all designed to be digestible. There are a couple of stylistic homages in there, but mainly these songs are bangers that cook and move in all the right ways to get you on your feet and going. Songs that have a slower pace tend toward blues or mysteriousness. No ballads at all. The album is exactly what I was hoping for, and it is the perfect follow-up to Paranormal, showing that the quality of that album was no fluke.

When big live shows come back the first thing I am going to do is buy a ticket for wherever Alice Cooper is playing and go see him live again. I didn’t really need any additional motivation to make this oath, but Detroit Stories is nevertheless an extra push. Highly recommended.

You can get Detroit Stories starting now. There are many bundles and versions. The one I liked best is a basic one – the CD and DVD combo that includes A Paranormal Evening At The Olympia Paris. That was a great concert and if you didn’t pick it up already when it came out then here is a great chance to get the add-on.

Links.

Website, https://alicecooper.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/AliceCooper/

Alice Cooper, Detroit Stories (earMUSIC 2021)

Tenebro, Liberaci dal Male (Xtreem Music 2021)

Italian death metal gets an extra horror crank with Tenebro on Liberaci dal Male.

The band appears to be a duo with Il Becchino on vocals and guitar and Il Beccamorto on bass and percussion. Previously, according to the Metal Archives, Il Becchino was the only credited musician on the first music released. It has been reported separately that there were a few issues in the lineup but some solidifying has occurred that allowed a second EP to be issued late last year.

The new CD release of Liberaci dal Male includes the three tracks from the cassette version that was released last year by Dismal Fate Records plus the songs on the Demo cassette released in 2019 by Desert Wasteland Productions (also three tracks), conveniently gathering them all together.

The demo tracks start with “Seppellendo i Morti” which has a great chunky, mid-tempo grinding plod accompanied by low growling vocals. The speed and urgency pick up in the guitars and drums as the song moves along. By the end we have settled into the groove and the energy is pulsing. “Nel Terrore” has even more distortion and deeper vocals with a rhythm progression that puts you a little off balance. “All’interno del Cimitero” offers the plainest expression of cinematic themes of the three tracks with dialogue clips from films that lead into the heavy guitars.

The Liberaci dal Male tracks start with a chainsaw effect on the first track, “Cannibalismo Sanguinario” – I don’t speak Italian but I think I can make out what this one is about. This song leans heavy on the doom and includes sporadic drum blasts and tempo shifts. “Arte Funeraria” positively drips with gloom. It is a feast for the decadent horror fans among us. On the third track, film dialogue returns with much screaming and distress on “Il Lamento dei Malati.” Here again the drear is laid on especially thick, and as a complement there are periodic episodes of blast beats and more horror dialogue.

I like the gloomy nature of the music throughout the compilation. Functionality takes center stage to move the ideas along and the death metal is drenched in a doom sensibility. Recommended.

The CD is out now from Xtreem Music. If you want a digital download, the two original releases can be had for free (Name Your Price) separately on Bandcamp.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://tenebro666.bandcamp.com

Label Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/xtreemmusic666

Tenebro, Liberaci dal Male (Xtreem Music 2021)

Profond Barathre, Tinnitus (Hummus Records 2021)

The third album from Switzerland’s Profond Barathe is an instrumental journey through a dark wonderland without a firm concept of edges.

The band is Joachim Braekman (guitar), Morgan d’Argenteuil (drums), and Julien Floch (bass). The first album they released was Un voile de poussière in 2008, followed the very next year by Snaar. There was a split a few years later with Rorcal and Malvoisie that included the massive passage “Illunis,” but mainly the musicians were occupied in other quarters during this while until recently. Tinnitus, then, has been a long time coming and is therefore eagerly anticipated by fans.

The album was recorded a couple of years ago and seeing release only now. There are five long tracks on it, each conveying a unique aspect. “Stella” is ominous, like the story of a plague creeping in before anybody knows it is there. It carries the hallmarks of doom. “Spiritus” has no delineated boundary in a form I can recognize. I do hear black metal nuances in there, intended or not. The music is more active than in the opening song, more directly penetrating.

“Anima” is the most solemn entry of the set, a harbinger of the future of man. “Corpus” is cold and poignant, a marker for all the music herein perhaps but exemplified partiularly in this incarnation. The final track is “Terra” and the music seems sung by a choir of forlorn entities as they slowly diminish into nonexistence. Listening to it a second time prompted me to start at the beginning and when I did I came away with an even stronger sense of the ethereal. However it all came to be, the music on this record is moving in ways both quiet and thundering. Recommended.

Tinnitus is available in full on Friday, February 26th and can be preordered now. Hummus Records has a couple of vinyl versions in extremely limited supply.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://profondbarathre.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/profondbarathre

Hummus Records, https://hummus-records.com/

Profond Barathre, Tinnitus (Hummus Records 2021)

Moop, Ostara (Tonzonen Records 2021)

Dark jazz trio Moop reorganize for a second album that is heavy on the avant-garde and filled with twists and miasms.

Moop is from France and the band for the new album is Erwin Toul (drums), William Brandy (saxophone), and Julien Coupet (guitar). The first album came out in 2017 and kept to a more linear trajectory than Ostara. The free form nature of the new set might be thought of as representing the coming Spring, or maybe something more mutated or forlorn. The experience is in the ears of the listener.

When creating music with three principal instruments – sax, guitar, and drums – the apparent starting point is a jazz mentality. The feeling and themes however come across to me as very dark. I guess that could just be the way I am receiving it. Still, there is an acoustic doom resonance hereabouts, a persistent feeling of dread and calamity that never goes away.

There are four songs on the album, with two long ones on side one and a long and a short track on the flip side. The music never goes for the big heavy, and the saxophone is the most prominent voice throughout. Confusion and forlornity are the guiding lights. There are extended passages of what many would surely call avant-garde, and the chaos is often disorienting.

This album is very different from the music I usually listen to, and I mean that as broadly as possible. Rare is the day indeed that intentionality would bring this to my turntable. Somehow it hit me just right when I listened to it in the dead of winter in New England. If I had been naming this album, I would probably have gone with “Mabon” instead of the more optimistic “Ostara,” but whatever it might be called, it will set you off on a perpendicular path. Recommended.

Ostara becomes fully available on Friday, February 26th. Pre-orderers get one track in advance and the rest on the drop day. Bandcamp is the place to go for the cassette, CD, vinyl, or digital instantiations.

Links.

Bandcamp: https://moopercrew.bandcamp.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/moopercrew

Label: https://www.tonzonen.de

Moop, Ostara (Tonzonen Records 2021)

Fools Paradise, Confused Mind (2021)

Fools Paradise is a doom metal band from Brazil and they have released their inaugural single, “Confused Mind.”

The band was formed by Gabriel Mattos (guitar) and includes Luciano Penelu (drums), Leandro D’Carvalho (guitar), and Joilson Santos (bass) from the doom band Erasy plus Iasmim Bastos (vocals). This is a solid foundation of veteran musicians in the Brazilian metal scene setting the stage for newcomer Bastos to show off her singing talent.

The song “Confused Mind” is an homage to and a celebration of the roots of heavy music, specifically Black Sabbath, and it is meant to honor the release of the original self-titled album all those years ago. The opening riff makes the intent clear – it is heavy and catchy and the mystical visage of Tony Iommi swirls in the mist. Bastos’s voice has a heavy bluesy quality, rich and urging, melodic and filled with strength.

The song runs a little over five minutes and the composition is topped off with an extended lead break in two movements. The guitar work on the lead exhibits an expanding of ideas that reaches beyond the typical doom cast. This is definitely a band to keep an eye on.

You can get the single at the band’s Bandcamp page, or listen to it through your preferred streaming service. Lend it your ear – if you do I think you’ll end up in line with me waiting for more music to come out. Recommended.

Links.

Bandcamp: https://foolsparadisestoner.bandcamp.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/foolstoner.band

Fools Paradise, Confused Mind (2021)

The Scalar Process, Coagulative Matter (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

French death metal band The Scalar Process unleash their first album, Coagulative Matter, and it is full of fine detail and virtuoso flourishes.

According to the Metal Archives the band is Eloi Nicod (guitar), Mathieu Lefevre (vocals), Cédric Mells (drums), and Alix Guéneau (guitars). When you listen to the album you might be surprised that this is their first because it is so complete and polished. The speed is matched by precision and the compositions remain organic in their determinism.

There are eleven tracks on the album, including three short non-vocal interludes. The first principal track is “Cosmic Flow,” and it continues the mystery of the opening element while adding the actual death metal vocals and guitar savagery. The music is usually described as technical death metal and I would say that is accurate. It often lands as a progressive treaty, as here in this get-to-know-you song, and the prog takes many forms even in this one track, ranging from impossible performances on every instrument to spacey moments of exploration.

The stage having now been erected, it is time for the show. “Ink Shadow” is positively rabid in the blurring speed of the presented notes. “Celestial Existence” includes the continued demonstration of ability and notches up the theater noticeably. “Mirror Cognition” is a “Planet Caravan” type track for the first half – almost soft jazz. Then the lead guitar takes a Zappa-esque turn setting up an absolute explosion of rage in the final minute. Very unexpected, and this is my favorite track.

The big set piece is the title track which runs eleven minutes, making it a glaring epic when held up against the other songs. It has several distinct movements and in that way it operates like a suite. It is an incredible accomplishment, this song, holding together the central concept for such a length while exploring the theme’s many avenues and variegations. It is very hard make music like this that is enjoyable for the listener and not just a recitation of technical abilities, and that is exactly what The Scalar Process has done with Coagulative Matter. I find myself listening to it intently, overtaken by the music and genuinely amazed. Write this one on the short list. Highly recommended.

The usual array of amazing products are available now from Transcending Obscurity – take a look at the Bandcamp page or the label’s homepage for details.

Links,

Bandcamp, https://thescalarprocess.bandcamp.com/album/coagulative-matter-technical-death-metal

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/TheScalarProcess/

Transcending Obscurity Records, https://tometal.com/

The Scalar Process, Coagulative Matter (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Jakethehawk, Hinterlands (Ripple Music 2021)

Pittsburgh psychedelic metal band Jakethehawk deliver a new entry into their evolving canon of self-styled Appalachian Desert Rock with the trippy Hinterlands.

I saw Jakethehawk on a livestream sponsored by their record label a few weeks back. There were four bands on the bill and they were all great, but it is Jakethehawk that I remember most because their performance was fluid and expressive despite the claustrophobic nature of livestreams. I hadn’t heard them before and that preview got me excited for Hinterlands.

In 2018 the band released an EP, Year Of The Hawk, and a long-player, To Build A Fire. The music is a steady, cosmic, psychedelic effluence with hearty riffs, smooth vocals, and mesmerizing lead guitar breaks.

Hinterlands has six tracks, mostly in the six minute range. They tend to have gentle openings about half the time and languid movements into heavier lands. The other half have heavier gates with the mysticism on the inside. There is an ethereal ambience surrounding it all like a heavy mist, and sometimes the music and voice function like incantations, or even mantras, and they draw you all the way in to a place where the edges blur. The edges of everything blur.

The music is a brand of stoner rock you could say, and it is non-aggressive after that fashion, but it is not frivolous – the music has something important to show that comes through on every piece. The lead guitar is especially fervent, teed up as it is by the other instruments. I could pick as favorite any song on the album and be telling the truth, never regretting the declaration.

Hinterlands fulfilled my every expectation; it actually over-delivered. Highly recommended.

The album dropped today on Ripple Music, and you can pick it up at the label link below in digital, CD, or vinyl. For the previous albums, hit the first link for the band’s Bandcamp link.

Links,

Bandcamp, https://jakethehawk.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/jakethehawkpgh/

Ripple, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/hinterlands

Jakethehawk, Hinterlands (Ripple Music 2021)

Socioclast, Socioclast (Carbonized Records 2021)

The first album from California metal trio Socioclast is a ferocious declaration of intent to rattle the cages of the status quo.

The musicians that form Socioclast walk on from bands like Mortuous, Altars, and In Disgust, and they are Colin Tarvin (bass, vocals), Matt Gomes (guitar), Cris Rodriguez (drums). With a home base of San Jose and a musical ethic of grindcore, the band has an energetic pathology. It should be fairly obvious from the name they have chosen that they have a lot to say about society, mostly not complimentary. The music, then, is tuned to the outrage of their observations and constructed for maximal impact.

There are sixteen songs on the new self-titled album, all but one less than two minutes long and almost half clocking less than sixty seconds. Blast beats abound. As does the irrepressible voice of Tarvin which I had already come to admire from his previous work. Not a lot of slow songs here, but there is the occasional doom moment, as in the way “Terminal Regress” begins, for example. Mainly you can expect a blistering pace and bursts of chaos.

The whole album is great, and I do have a couple of favorites. “Eden’s Tongue,” in particular – I love the Black Metal sinews and the arching back in the middle. The co-curricular vocals in “Convention Of Ruin” gave me a similar rush. “Surrogate Will” wins the prize for making me dizziest. “Concrete and Steel” is the long track at the end, running 2:48. It has a melancholy opening refrain that stuck with me even after the churning heat of the rest of the song. It is a good capstone to the set. I am onboard. Recommended.

Socioclast is out tomorrow in many and varied forms from Carbonized Records.

Band photo by Anna Gomes.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://carbonizedrecords.bandcamp.com/album/socioclast

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/carbonizedrecords/

Carbonized Records, https://carbonized-records.myshopify.com/

Socioclast, Socioclast (Carbonized Records 2021)

Gravesend, Methods Of Human Disposal (20 Buck Spin 2021)

Freshly minted grindcore trio Gravesend open a massive crack in the earth with their debut full-length album Methods Of Human Disposal.

Fashionably semi-anonymous, the musicians in Gravesend are telling stories of mayhem and decline set to the soundtrack of chaos. Stalking the streets of New York City with malfeasance on their minds, the music they create is super charged with the darkest episodes and artifacts of society most drear. The attitude calls punk to the front of my brain and the application is grinding at the speed of metal with the elemental tools of the trade.

“Fear City” is the first song, and it opens like a soundtrack to Dark Shadows or some such, with quiet, creepy keys. Slowly a violent argument starts the narrative off and it is the second piece where the music really begins to drop, “STH-10,” with the breath of doom. Building, angrier and angrier, into “Methods of Human Disposal” for the first taste of the savage vocals. The title track is dripping with callous disregard for propriety, establishing a purpose all its own.

The music is up-tempo but it is not breakneck for the most part, letting the drums push the urgency while the other instruments slam down the heavy. Some songs, like “Subterranean Solitude,” do set a blistering pace and combine it with a downshifted walking riff in the middle. And then there is “Eye For An Eye,” which is basically a mood piece that might be about the mass torture of seagulls. Entirely unpredictable.

The back-to-back pummeling of “The Grave’s End” and “Scum Breeds Scum” (my favorite track, the latter) near the end tees up the closer perfectly: “Concrete Feet” is a hi-test thrumming with twenty seconds of silence at the end to allow you to gather your thoughts. This album shook me up and Gravesend is on my radar from now on. Recommended.

The album is out on Friday February 19th from 20 Buck Spin Records. Hit the links below for cassettes, LPs, CDs, and/or the digital.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://warforgravesend.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/warforgravesend

20 Buck Spin, https://www.20buckspin.com/

Gravesend, Methods Of Human Disposal (20 Buck Spin 2021)