I’ve collected here three reviews of three new EPs that I’ve really been enjoying.
HE WHOSE OX IS GORED
Not knowing what to expect, I saw Seattle’s He Whose Ox Is Gored perform live earlier this year, for the first time but not the last, and was hooked hard by the energy of their live set and the interesting mix of musical elements in their highly addictive songs. Their debut EP Rumors has recently been released by Bleeding Light Records as a digital download, with a vinyl 7” coming soon.
The bookends of the EP, “Void Assault” and “Rumors”, are hard-rocking affairs driven by swirling, swarming guitar melodies with a wonderfully fuzzy tone and a sludgy, bottom-feeding low end. There’s some interesting rhythmic interplay between the drum and bass, and a contrasting layer of psychedelic beauty shimmers over the top, thanks to Lisa Ungo’s synth-generated ambient sounds and the soaring, ethereal quality of her voice.
In between those two, “Buried Twice” slows the pace with a thumping drumbeat that becomes increasingly acrobatic and with sludgy, twisting chord progressions pierced by a flickering guitar solo. The warbling, pulsating electronic sounds at the end somehow don’t seem out of place at all.
So, what to call this? How about sludgy psychoactive doom rocking prog metal? Or maybe “good shit” would do just as well.
I mentioned that these people put on a hell of a live show, and it happens that they’ve got a few dates left on a West Coast tour. Catch ‘em if you can:
11/8 San Francisco, CA @ El Rio w/ Worship
11/9 Reno, NV @ Holland Project w/ Sisters Doom
11/16 Seattle, WA @ Sunset Tavern
And below, thanks to CVLT Nation, you can have a listen to the whole EP (download and order info can be found in the first link below).
Mutter is a one-man band from western Massachusetts, and the latest release from the project is a five-song EP that emerged last month named Trashed Body. Mutter describes the EP as “a meditation on deteriorating health, justified paranoia and an insubstantial legacy”. As you shall see, further clues to the tenor of the music lie in the song titles.
The shimmering synthesizer sounds and odd grunting/twittering noises at the beginning of “Hell Is Your Body” are strangely hypnotic, but the unsettling revery is eventually replaced by an eruption of driving industrialized beats and ravaging growls while the synthesizer ambience continues to drift like a drug-induced dream, even when the music reaches a blasting crescendo and the growls turn to a rising wail.
“Mud Wasp” blends an ugly, pneumatically propulsive low end with frantic, unhinged electronic tones and more harsh vocal excretions, while “A Stranger In Your House” sounds like a demolition project orchestrated by twittering life forms from Andromeda, the remorseless pounding alternating with a cacophony of computerized dialogue and the yells of some poor human caught up in the insanity.
“Spore Breather” is a dense maelstrom of unstable sound, part industrial-strength rampage, part cyclone of dementia, with a finish that seems beautifully tranquil by comparison.
Harrowing vocal proclamations run through “Dry Cum” like the twisted imaginings of a street corner madman, and they’re answered by bestial condemnations, while the surrounding sounds veer from slow waves of bleak melody to big electro wobbles to punishing rhythmic stampedes.
Trashed Body is a real head trip, a bizarre but highly creative synthesis of black metal aesthetics, power-electronics, and industrial. It’s a hanged man that won’t stop twitching at the end of that long drop. Get it on Bandcamp and listen to it next:
7.5 TONNES OF BEARD
I discovered 7.5 Tonnes of Beard (from Belfast, Northern Ireland) through a super-enthusiastic Facebook post by my friend Ryan Schutte (of Seattle’s amazing Lb.!), who himself has about 7.5 tons of beard and a refined appreciation for the pleasures of chaotic music.
The band’s latest release is a three-song EP named Torquetur, and it’s really excellent. “The Fear” is dismantling music, a merciless progression of slow, lead-heavy riff hammers and an ill, melodic melody that makes its path through your head like worms in the gut. It eventually grows slower and slower until it seems to gasp its last fetid breath — only to launch into one final vehement onslaught.
What a surprise — the title track turns out to be a piano, acoustic guitar, and synthesizer melody that drifts like high clouds across blue skies. You look up, a soft breeze on the back of your neck, you wonder what comes next. I guess I already knew it wouldn’t be good news.
What comes next is “Botched Job”, feedback-laced discordant chords leading to a focused phalanx of riff-and-drum hammer blows. It stops, it starts, it distracts you with seductive melodies, it grinds away, it seems to know what you hope and what you fear.
Yes, this is dismantling sludge, but it shoots some kind of black narcotic into the vein — you want more, even though the music just wants to suck the marrow from your fractured bones.
Torquetur is available on Bandcamp, along with a recently re-mastered version of the band’s first EP, Denied the Basics — which is also highly recommended. Both streams are below.