It’s been a while since we published an installment in this EYE-CATCHERS series. To remind you, the object of this series is to listen to new music based solely on the attractiveness of the album covers — testing the completely irrational hypothesis that cool album art correlates with cool music.
I was inspired to do another one of these posts by an e-mail exchange I had recently with NCS reader Treezplease. He sent me a handful of album-art images and a song to accompany each one, and I dived in. I’m going to include two of those test subjects in this post, and maybe more later. But at about the same time, I also got an e-mail from a German band called Vaulting. I visited their Bandcamp page to listen to something, and right away I saw the album cover up above. So I just had to lead off this post with it, because it truly is a fucking eye-catcher, isn’t it?
Vaulting was founded in 2006 in Wiesbaden, Germany, by two brothers, guitarist Matthias Gathof and drummer Sebastian Gathof. To date, the band have released a 5-song demo in 2007, an 8-song EP in 2008 called Epilog, and a five-track EP in 2009 called Modus Humanis, the cover of which you’re looking at right now. The band are also on the verge of releasing their first full-length album, Nucleus. (more after the jump . . .)
Modus Humanis is what I picked for this EYE-CATCHERS experiment. At less than 10 minutes of total clock time, the 5 tracks whizzed by before I knew it, except I did have blood leaking from various orifices to prove that I had listened to the music. As you might guess, the dominant style is grindcore, but grindcore saturated with big meaty riffs, roaring death metal vocals, and freaky bursts of guitar weirdness. In fact, there’s enough flashy, demented fretwork to give the music a strong, near-experimental, math-metal flavor. The tempos and time signatures bounce all over the place, contributing to the general sense of mayhem.
I’m counting this as positive evidence of that hypothetical correlation between good art and good music. Here’s an example, a track called “Gierkehle”:[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Vaulting-Modus-Humanis-03-Gierkehle.mp3|titles=Vaulting – Gierkehle]
Vaulting’s discography is available for streaming or download (either for free or for a nominal charge) on their Bandcamp page. Here are links to various band pages, including the one on Bandcamp:
Vaulting’s debut album, Nucleus, will be released on October 28 by Unundeux Records. Three of the songs from that album are streaming on the Bandcamp site. The cover for that new album is an eye-catcher, too:
Okay, now on to the next band. This is one of the eye-catcher candidates that Treezplease sent my way. He wasn’t exactly recommending the music of the bands he sent me — he was more focused on the artwork. But I decided to listen to the music anyway. And the first one was a band called . . .
I vaguely remember a thrash/speed-metal band from Texas called Rigor Mortis, but this ain’t them. This Rigor Mortis is from Campo Grande, Brazil, and this is the cover for their self-released 2010 demo:
I thought that was a striking piece of art when I saw it, and so, with help from Treezplease, I grabbed the 3-song demo and made my way through it. The first song I heard was “Psycotic III”, and it didn’t immediately grab me. It sounded like a downtuned, distorted guitar (sometimes double-tracked) playing scales at high speed (albeit kind of insane scales), with accompaniment solely by drums. No vocals.
“Medieval Impalement” followed. It made me think of an extreme metal version of coffee-house jazz. Free-form, distorted guitar picking given structure by a repeating riff and the background thump of drums and shimmer of cymbals. About five minutes in, a cool, contrasting guitar lead joins the song briefly. Again, no vocals.
The final song is called “Find Body Parts Toy”. The only sense I can make of the song title is that it’s an instruction given by a childlike serial killer to his favorite stuffed doggie. As for the music, it again creates that sense of jazz-style improvisation, with the instrumentals increasingly layered as the song progresses. It’s avant-garde, bugfuck nuttiness, pretty much from start to finish. Again, no vocals.
I seriously doubt that most of you are going to get into this shit, unless you’re striving to increase the diversity of your metal collection for diversity’s sake. I will make the (somewhat guilty) confession that after my third listen, I was starting to like it. Here’s “Medieval Impalement”:[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/02-medieval-impalement.mp3|titles=Rigor Mortis – Medieval Impalement]
Rigor Mortis have made their demo available for free download on Death Metal Invasion (here), so you can go grab it if the music appeals to you. Here’s an additional Rigor Mortis link (I couldn’t find a Facebook page):
The next band is another one of Treezplease’s candidates.
SWIMMING WITH SHARKS
Swimming With Sharks was a band from Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia, that appears to have split up. They made a 4-song EP called Fragments that was never officially released, and it featured this colorful cover (with cool font) created by Ash Johnston (www.bigcityfreaks.com):
The Fragments EP has made the rounds through the web, and it wasn’t difficult to find a download. The music is a tech-heavy form of deathcore, spiced up with unexpected bursts of proggy/jazzy instrumentalism. It brought to mind The Faceless, with a few more breakdowns. The pacing is fast, the riffing is technical and well-executed, and the low-end is tight and propulsive.
Deathcore may be the wrong label to slap on this. As I think about it, tech-death is probably closer to the mark. I was pretty impressed with all of the songs, and this one in particular. It’s called “Dismemberment”:[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/SWS-Dismemberment.mp3|titles=Swimming With Sharks – Dismemberment]
You can download the Fragments EP from this page:
There also appears to be an active Facebook page for the band here.
Well, that’s a wrap for this edition of EYE-CATCHERS. Vaulting and Swimming With Sharks were good finds and tended to validate the EYE-CATCHERS hypothesis. Rigor Mortis, though certainly interesting, was less easy to love and not at all what I was expecting from the album art. What did you think of all this?