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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
Pocketmags Digital Magazines




‘The Glowing Man’


And so, three albums into the resurrected and restarted Swans comes ‘The Glowing Man’, the fourth and final studio album of this particular incarnation. It’s been an exhilarating journey, to say the least, finding Michael Gira and comrades delivering some of their most complex material yet, presented with greater depth and wider scope, as if Swans Resurrected was almost a musical parallel for the film industry penchant for adding a third dimension to an increasing number of films.

Yet if anyone is expecting the all-too-obvious parting shot, the sort of overwhelming, crunching tornado of sound that bulldozes the listener into a dazed and breathless submission, they’d be well advised to return to 2014’s ‘To Be Kind’. Certainly, ‘TGM’ has its moments of enshrouding brutality and menace; here, that menace is presented in the form of a relatively serene darkness that for all the pronounced and enounced euphoria frequently drips an ethereal gloom, in much the same manner as the band’s output in the early ’90s traded in some of the pummelling power for something that was no less intense but more bleakly considered. While Gira and company may appear to be cloaking their work in a sheen of serenity, there are razor sharp edges. Opener ‘Cloud Of Forgetting’ unfolds in a laidback manner; the prayeresque lyrics slowly allowing the power to build until, ten minutes in, an all-too-brief surge in dynamics leads into ‘Cloud Of Unknowing’ that throughout its’ 25-minute excursion, follows a path of experimental phrasing that is as mesmerising as anything Swans have previously accomplished. Juxtaposing wiry cello improvisation (courtesy of Okkyung Lee) with the car crash of early Sonic Youth’s full-blooded episodes of ‘Murder By Guitar’, before falling into a cavernous incantation that adds new definition and possibilities to adjectives such as ‘pummelling’ and ‘repetition’.

The clarity, expression and sheer depth of Swans’ work has oft drawn comparisons with film soundtracks over the years; in the case of ‘TGM’ it is quite possibly the closest the band have overtly come to such a style. If ‘The Omen’ had been shot in the 1950s in finest film-noir style then the haunting mood and staccato flourishes would provide an suitably tense backing. ‘When Will I Return’ sees Gira’s wife, Jennifer, step up to the microphone, and her profound delivery fills whatever gaps may have been left by the absence of Jarboe from the reactivation and, on the subject of glimpsing at the past, the prolonged title track is the nearest to the apocalyptic rollercoaster of dynamics and cacophony of ‘To Be Kind’ to be found on this album, coming across as if Neurosis were delivering an ‘end of the world’ sermon at a wake. ‘Finally Peace’ closes the album, and for all the purportedly joyous summing up and/or opening up the door to the next steps that the track presents, still manages to cast a touchingly melancholic shadow across the swirling soundscape.


‘Still They Pray’

Haunter Of The Dark’ opens ‘Still They Pray’ with a moment of glitchy feedback whic h segues into a slow, isolated, fuzz-laden doom riff that eventually collects the drums, bass, and second guitar. After they settle in for a few measures a voice quoting from the second stanza of H.P. Lovecraft’s poem, ‘Nemesis’, appears from the ether and disappears, quickly consumed by the plodding riff. Seconds later, a brief solo flies over the base riff before Parker Chandler’s heavily echo-laden vocals take centre stage and immediately evoke Electric Wizard’s Jus Oborn, which is, frankly, off-putting, but since ‘…Pray’ was recorded and mixed O born, and Windhand’s Garrett Morris, it makes sense… to a degree.

Obviously, Cough is influenced by Electric Wizard (among others), but ‘…Pray’, at least a good portion of it, borders on wholesale fanboy worship, and it is difficult to get past just how much this sounds like songs EW wrote and discarded during the ‘Witchcult Today’ sessions. Still, the ten-minute-plus ‘Dead Among The Roses’, which replicates the feeling of slipping, agonizingly slowly, below Acheron’s clinging, oily surface is a highlight even with the thick EW-vibe. It takes time, but eventually they break from the EW paradigm and deftly unlock a portal to the unknown on the absolutely funereal ‘The Wounding Hours’ (the album’s best track), which features an eerie Ham mond Organ played masterfully by an entity known as “Count Orlof” and guitarist David Cisco’s black-lunged vocals. ‘…Pray’ is good, but Oborn’s heavy, omnipresent hand detracts.




‘Come My Fanatics’ (RISE ABOVE, 1997)

Jus helped produce Wizard’s legendary second album (and arguably one of the heaviest records of all time) alongside Rolf Startin and Mark Hurst


‘We Live’ (RISE ABOVE, 2004)

Jus also had a hand in producing their sorely under-rated comeback album back in 2004, with Mathias Schneeburger (Goatsnake, Burning Witch etc)


‘Cthonic Rites’ (AURORA BOREALIS, 2005)

Moss’ crushing debut full-length was also the first record Jus mastered by himself…


‘Sub Templum’ (RISE ABOVE, 2008)

…and they liked it so much, they got him to do their next album too




The bastard hybrid of blackened crust keeps spewing forth obsidian gems of vile and caustic noise. Ancst have blended the style well, the wall-of-noise black metal guitars and blastbeat/grind drumming giving way to Amebix/Fall Of Efrafa/early Neurosis style crust. Track 8 – ‘Human Hive’ – illustrates the blending and bending of genres perfectly, as hints of Conflict and Neurosis merge with Carpathian Forest style riffing and a fevered Anaal Nathrakh delivery. There are some on both sides of the noise gate that feel the two genres shouldn’t collide, but, frankly, they are wrong and albums like ‘Moloch’ are proof of that.


‘Union Of Flesh And Machine’


As far as death metal goes, Blood Red Throne have never really gotten their dues as one of the most reliably belligerent and bludgeoning acts on the scene. But what they may have lacked in kudos over the years, they’ve more than made up for in pure killing capacity, something which hasn’t changed on this, their eighth(!) full-length album. Granted, there’s been more gruesome groove in the mix since 2009, the sort of groove that threatens to climb inside you and wear you like a skin suit, but the fact remains that ‘Union Of Flesh And Machine’ is one of the sharpest, heaviest and most punishing entries in the band’s already impressive back-catalogue.

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Everyone loves vinyl. Whether people actually play it or simply have it on the shelves to look at and appreciate the artwork in all its glory, while listening to the audio through devices however, is another matter. This month sees a new vinyl release that will ensure that people will actually play their new 12 inches of black stuff. It’s the ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ hologram soundtrack vinyl. The week this issue went to print I was fortunate enough to attend a playback of this ingenious (and extremely geeky, yet cool) release. And while I soaked up the atmosphere of Abbey Road’s Studio 2, feeling all the creativity of the room and the vibe contained within, it really dawned on me why this is so special. Star Wars is legendary. Many of us have grown up with the films from an early age and it becomes part of your DNA, without a doubt. Its music is also special, I challenge any band out there to have the balls to cover John Williams’ compositions. And now the new film’s soundtrack gives the vinyl collector a reason to play their record and geek out at the same time. What makes it special? Tristan Duke’s holograms of both the Millennium Falcon and a Tie Fighter that magically appear above the vinyl while the brilliant musicality of John Williams’ composition blasts out of your speakers. Genius! It elevates the whole audio and magical experience to unchartered new heights in the musical world. It’s a soundtrack brimming with depth and of course, it’s affinity with the metal community is inescapable – after all metal is the ultimate Dark Side. So while I go back to my sci-fi world, I’ll let you enjoy this month’s issue! I have loved Nails for years and it’s an honour to have them on this month’s cover. Enjoy reading their story as well as a heap of other great features, news and reviews! See you next month Darren Sadler