REVIEW ROUND-UP: Gary Numan, St. Vincent, Myles Kennedy

Gary Numan

Intruder

There’s a reason why most knowledge of Gary Numan’s work can be fixated almost exclusively on his earlier work. He was a pioneer of synthpop in the mainstream with Tubeway Army on both their self titled album and Replicas, and his solo debut The Pleasure Principle is rightly heralded as a classic and an all-time important album in electronic music. But from 1994’s Sacrifice, which saw the beginning of Numan’s relationship with darkwave and industrial music as his base sound, he’s predictably not displayed the same staying power, especially as time has moved on and those sounds don’t capture the same zeitgeist that they once did. Presumably that’s the point – after all, the whole point of such a move was as a response to a slew of pop albums designed to pay off debts – but beyond the name recognition and the sliver of novelty that might come with it, new music from Gary Numan isn’t that exciting of a concept. Especially now on Intruder when he’s nineteen albums in, it’s tough to know what more there is to add into an already limited musical palette. This was never going to be a masterpiece, but it feels sloppy and uninspired more often than it should, where one idea of a lumbering, graceless tempo bellydrags for way too long with negligible payoff. For one, there’s really no darkness to this album beyond the superficial slate-grey and black synths, which might sound imposing but carry no weight or necessary menace. Even then, they’re masked by just how blown-out and cavernous the percussion is, where the plodding, lockstep pace bleeds out to make everything far less palatable. It crushes the guitars on Is This World Not Enough into a grinding, uncomfortable tone that slices through the mix, while the higher frequency synths on I Am Screaming and And It Breaks Me Again just seem to wheeze by whenever they’re employed. It’s a very awkward sound, and seemingly by design at that; Saints And Liars and the occasional Middle Eastern-inspired passage at least feel a bit more lithe and slithering, away from just how catatonic everything else seems to be.

That extends to Numan himself too, somehow vaulting over an already limited selection to reach this album’s most underwhelming low. He’s not a good singer anymore, and rather obviously so for how weak and unstable his voice feels at multiple points, unable to convey any sinister mood or exalted darkness on the title track. It doesn’t help that he’s also railroaded into excruciating drawn-out syllables and elongated notes to fully show how ravaged by age he seems, as well as notable inconsistencies with his placement in the mix that can lends this album a surprisingly amateurish feel. Worst of all, he’s rarely a presence worth mentioning, a far cry from a brooding anti-hero at the centre of the maelstrom like Trent Reznor, or even his own enigmatic persona that, granted, has been missing for a while, but feels all the more missed now. Especially when he’s singing from the point of view of the Earth rebelling against climate change and human destruction, he doesn’t give off a reverence or vengeful edge that would make such an angle work. Instead he once again sticks to the superficial in imagery of suffering and pain, where the human race are framed as intruders to be dealt with in a way that’s not as ominous as Numan might think it to be. None of it is pulled off all that interestingly or with the scope it deserves, really only peaking in noteworthiness with The Gift, a song which already feels questionable in how COVID-19 is framed as humanity’s first ‘gift’ to wipe them out for all the damage they’ve caused, but tips into tastelessness with how often it relies on the line “take your breath away”. Presumably that wasn’t meant to be the case to that extent, but it’s probably preferable happenstance to give Intruder anything worth talking about. For the most part, it simply falls into the uncomfortable middle ground between a late-period overextension and an industrial album that can’t commit to its own darkness, where it’s unsatisfying on both counts and lacking much to pull it back from that. It’s not exactly a legacy besmirched, not when Numan’s own importance within music towers high already, but it’s all too predictable for an artist of his stature at this late stage to come out with something as misguided as this. At least it’s not surprisingly bad then, but that isn’t much of a concession. • LN

4/10

For fans of: KMFDM, Skinny Puppy, Ministry

‘Intruder’ by Gary Numan is released on 21st May on BMG.


St. Vincent

Daddy’s Home

It’s probably safe to say that anyone buying into the ‘controversy’ that preceded this album is playing directly into Annie Clark’s game plan. The St. Vincent mastermind has gained a bit of a reputation for being a difficult target for PR cycles to get hold of, but her getting an interview pulled on the grounds of her interviewer coming across as ‘aggressive’ doesn’t really surprise that much. In the wider context of Daddy’s Home, it can make even more sense, in an album that feels deliberately designed to recount a decade of Clark’s life while simultaneously establishing very little about her as a character in her story. The title is partly in reference to her own father’s release from prison after his involvement in a stock manipulation scheme in 2010, but Clark is just as willing to cast that light on both her partners and herself, in the vein of a coping mechanism that refuses to get too close until the eleventh hour. Having Clark project that viewpoint is nothing really new, as an indie-rock queen for whom the rockstar life has always been an enamouring factor, but there’s a notable dichotomy between stealing attention in her father’s visitation room on the title track, and the obfuscating haze of self-medication on …At The Holiday Party that holds an almost incorporeal mystique that definitely works in the album’s favour. It’s propped up by Clark’s own unreliable narration, as memories of dangerous psychedelic codependency on Live In The Dream and revenge fantasies on Down ultimately make way for a more tempered side of Clark that’s willing to use peace to find solace in. That might come from paying homage to the women in rock that paved the way for her on The Melting Of The Sun, but there’s also an embrace of her own view of love on Somebody Like Me, and the willingness to settle down on My Baby Wants A Baby despite her own admitted flaws. It’s all told through the blurred-out vignettes rather than a cogent throughline, but piecing everything together makes for an intriguing listen, where Clark’s personality still has a mystery around it, but the touches of humanity are palpable to say the least.

It also makes sense given where Clark’s newest artistic reinvention has taken her, this time through blissed-out ‘70s soft-rock with an evergreen Jack Antonoff production job as a stamp of simultaneous contemporaneity and autheticity. The influences are notable but understandable, in cues from the coloured haze of Pink Floyd, the billowing softness of James Taylor, and the chameleonic pop star versatility of David Bowie, in a package that’s not always exhilarating but at least feels honest towards what it wants to be. When Clark fully lays on the Wurlitzer howls and blocky funk stomps like on Pay Your Way In Pain and Down, its where a lot of the showmanship and deliberate artifice comes to the clearest head. Conversely, there’s less of the excitement on songs like Somebody Like Me and …At The Holiday Party, understandably in their smaller, more intimate scale, but also more reliant on their pillowy production that sounds nice, but rarely visceral or exciting. It’s the major fault that comes from placing Daddy’s Home against some of Clark’s other works, especially earlier on – there was simply more power to her indie-rock material than what’s found here. That said, in terms of hitting that flowing, anything-goes approach to rock and pop that characterised the eras that Clark is drawing from, Daddy’s Home does nail it in concept, and there’s something about her hitting that looseness on the title track and The Melting Of The Sun that can be invigorating to hear. She’s got a great voice for more low-key material, but the warping vocal filters give some flashes of playfulness to what can be a sometimes austere presence within Clark’s own music, and the fact that Daddy’s Home seems able to balance that demystification with a clear and conscious attempt at keeping the curtain closed is an impressive feat. It might try to do a bit much, but it’s not bogged down by that, and there’s enough in terms of raw ideas and musical chops to get something engaging out of it regardless. Furthermore, it’s a side of Clark that feels newer and more lived-in without being a complete artistic reinvention, and for a performer so deeply entrenched in her own myth-making, that’s about as good as it gets nowadays. • LN

7/10

For fans of: Perfume Genius, Angel Olsen, Soccer Mommy

‘Daddy’s Home’ by St. Vincent is out now on Loma Vista Recordings.


Myles Kennedy

The Ides Of March

The primary reason that Year Of The Tiger came as such a surprise was because it felt almost wholly counterintuitive to Myles Kennedy’s ‘bigger is always better’ creative style. The length might have suggested otherwise, but as a relatively restrained solo album nestled primarily within folk, blues and country, it was a far cry from his usual fare at the helm of Alter Bridge, or serving as the vocalist-in-chief of Slash’s output. But at the same time, it can also be recognised as a very niche effort, and for someone like Kennedy who, particularly in recent years, has helmed himself among hard rock’s populists, it hardly felt like a direction that would last past the one project. So for The Ides Of March, the decision to skew towards Foo Fighters-esque, down-the-middle rock is predictable, but also disappointing. Looking past the occasional bluesy licks that pepper In Stride or Moonshot – and Kennedy’s ever-excellent vocal performance that creates a baseline of quality on its own – The Ides Of March is remarkably plain in its execution, where a long runtime and severely scaled-back command of dynamics yields a notably bloated a sluggish listen. Just take the title track, with a seven-and-a-half minute runtime that’s trying to emulate the execution of a Led Zeppelin epic, only to wind up feeling slow and pedestrian, and supremely unable to justify its length. Again, Kennedy’s voice can keep things held together to a pretty solid degree, but when tracks like Wake Me When It’s Over or Sifting Through The Fire give him so few opportunities to soar or let loose, the compromises reveal themselves in earnest. Excitement is barely a factor here, and The Ides Of March comes across like it’s simply ploughing through with that knowledge in tow, but proceeding to simply ignore it.

That’s also a result of not having a lot of note to say, where the lack of power can make that an even more prominent reality. At least with Alter Bridge, the broadness can be masked by the might and soaring bravado around it; here, Kennedy’s middle-ground hopefulness feels well-intentioned but equally bland, where a song like Get Along will boil down what’s going on an entire year of division and conflict into a phrase as trite and tired as “Why can’t we all just get along?”. You can give Kennedy credit for trying to showcase an aware mentality and forge some kind of hope to get through it all with (which does have some grounding with the end of the pandemic presumably in sight), but he’s trying to make grand statements that he can’t reasonably pull off, or imbue with any necessary weight. It’s where The Ides Of March winds up feeling the most weightless, in its inability to really dig in deep to the issues at its core, in favour of holding fast to mass appeal that, in this case especially, ends up being more boring than anything. There isn’t much of a reason to return to this album or even dig all that deeply into it, when it doesn’t have much to say past the surface, and what it is saying is generally unimpressive anyway. There’ll be an audience for this sort of thing, sure, namely those who are more receptive to this sort of classic rock or radio-rock where the music vastly supersedes any sort of purple prose, but it’s not like that wouldn’t improve it or give it some more longevity. Really, The Ides Of March feels more unnecessary than anything else, though all of its elements point in a direction where that isn’t surprising in the slightest. • LN

5/10

For fans of: Foo Fighters, Alter Bridge, Black Stone Cherry

‘The Ides Of March’ by Myles Kennedy is out now on Napalm Records.


Mannequin Pussy

Perfect

It’s a tale that’s become disappointingly familiar in the last eighteen months, of a band on the cusp of really making it big, only to be derailed a pandemic and lockdowns that would cast a shadow of uncertainty over the entire industry for more than a year. Such is the case with Mannequin Pussy, for whom 2019 brought a signing to Epitaph and the release of their acclaimed third album Patience, which never got the opportunity to be truly capitalised upon. As such, a release like Perfect has become quite the expected stopgap in this situation, not only as a means of getting a blast of new material out to prevent stagnation in a notoriously fickle industry, but also as a means of a catharsis that feels very appropriate and real. It’s clearly hard to hide the bubbling-over frustration emblematic in the title track and Pigs Is Pigs, where being caught in the void becomes too much to handle, and becomes exacerbated by the societal pressures to thrive, even at a time of unprecedented change and upheaval. There’s less of an onus on quirkiness with Mannequin Pussy compared to other indie-punk, which is definitely a plus; the material feels more ragged and forceful as a result, and there’s a directness that only feeds into that more. It also works in the opposite direction too, where the gauzy Darling is made to feel more longing and cognisant of how distant and isolated it is, a mood that Mannequin Pussy can pull off surprisingly well.

In fact, Perfect surprises the most in just how varied it actually is for such a brief release. It’s not uncharted territory for them, but in the shapeshifting indie-grunge of Control, the matted, torn-up hardcore of the title track and Pigs Is Pigs, the glistening indie-rock twinkle of To Lose You and the more patient and expanded closer Darling, there isn’t a lot of overlap here. It can definitely like a ‘get something down’ sort of release as a result, but the level of proficiency is high throughout, and the emotional range and energy that Missy Dabice brings throughout is certainly palpable when everything hits as hard as it does. The production from Will Yip doesn’t hurt either, where his touches as godfather of the indie-punk and emo scenes shine through in the blend of a sepia-toned lens with typical indie raggedness, where it’s nothing all that revolutionary but fully benefits the band all the same. For what’s effectively a stopgap release, it’s yielded what might be the most creatively freeing sound that Mannequin Pussy have put to wax yet, and seeing some of these ideas fleshed out on a full album is a really tantalising thought. Right now, the existence of Perfect as something of an appetiser is probably its biggest disservice, only because the need for fleshing out and gaining some connective tissue is a bit more clear in this current form. But honestly, that’s easy to overlook on a collection of songs that are all good at the very least, and act as an intriguing gateway for where Mannequin Pussy might head in the future. Even if their plans to blow up might have been stymied more than they’d have liked, a release like Perfect indicates that it’s very much still on the cards. • LN

7/10

For fans of: Bully, Camp Cope, Diet Cig

‘Perfect’ by Mannequin Pussy is released on 21st May on Epitaph Records.


Vexed

Culling Culture

It’s almost like new heavy bands just come out fully formed and ready to go nowadays, isn’t it? Vexed’s organic buzz from all the right outlets would already slot them in perfectly with the current wave of young, exciting metal bands, but a sound hovering somewhere between Meshuggah and Whitechapel without compromise and still with a clear melodic focus is certainly enough to justify the lofty stakes bestowed upon them. For starters, Megan Targett is one hell of a screamer, blessed with a skin-flaying causticity that hits all the harder with her occasional nu-metal scats, but also capable of a respectable clean performance too, like on Aurora. The power isn’t quite to the same level and those moments feel eased back into the mix more than they should, but it’s a testament to Vexed’s variety that it’s never jarring or detached regardless. That might be because they’ve easily got one pinpoint-perfect instrumental sections in some time for the sort of music they’re making, in the combination of guttural leads, intensely sharpened riffs and basslines, and a hint of grind in some trap-tinged electronics to hold its inherent modernity together. Where a band like Bloodbather will ultimately wind up more harsh and grimy, Vexed’s chromed finish is what takes them over the top, especially in how deliberate it can all sound. The nu-metal influence seeps a lot deeper than just the vocals, when the stop-start riffs and rhythms come crushing down with a more technical mindset and acumen behind them. The production can also feel skewed in a nu-metal direction too, though it’s more in the deathcore-leaning vein for how much heft and stark presence it has overall. The level of tightness and accuracy that Vexed put forward in their craft is second to none, almost as a galvanising presence itself between djent and deathcore that makes both sides so much more compelling.

But that’s the easy part out of the way – where Vexed will inevitably be viewed with more scrutiny is in the writing, especially in relation to how loaded a title like Culling Culture can be. And right out of the gate, it needs to be established that, as a musical style, metal will often not be well-equipped in the slightest to provide a nuanced commentary on cancel culture. To be fair to Vexed though, the fact they’re already fighting against the current conceptually is enough to at least give them some leeway, despite some obvious stumbles. A song like Weaponise will wind up spiralling into ‘fuck the haters’ posturing, seemingly outside of its own agency, and there’s also the ever-present eventuality of putting so fine a point of moving past something that it actively draws attention to it. But at the end of the day, this isn’t Tom MacDonald banality; it’s an actually competent musical outfit, and Vexed will arguably hit moments that are as good as they come with the limited workable material they have. A song like Hideous is a great example, where so much of the combative stance is framed around the frivolity and inconsequentiality that will be highlighted as embodying cancelling, especially from a media standpoint that exists to fuel manufactured outrage and subsequently deflate said outrage in situations where it’s actually justified. In the broadest sense, it’s reminiscent of directions that Svalbard took on When I Die, Will I Get Better?, in how it feeds back into Targett’s own anxieties where her own admitted flaws and mistakes can and will still be used against here. For an ‘anti-cancel culture’ sentiment, this is probably as well-thought out as it comes, where reactionary anger is dispensed of in favour of something real and understandable. That’s impressive, and set against such a naturally vicious instrumental backdrop means that Culling Culture indelibly succeeds through not pulling its punches. It’s not like excellent, fresh metal bands are in short supply through that exact channel, but that shouldn’t be the basis on which to dismiss Vexed; on the contrary, they can go blow for blow with any of their contemporaries on this evidence, and seeing how they do so is only beneficial for the scene as a whole. • LN

8/10

For fans of: Meshuggah, Slipknot, Whitechapel

‘Culling Culture’ by Vexed is released on 21st May on Napalm Records.


Tokky Horror

I Found The Answers And Now I Want More

This is an interesting, exciting project to see come together, and not just because Zee Davine’s previous outfit Queen Zee went so under-appreciated for entirety of their too-short career. That’s definitely a factor, but it’s also Tokky Horror’s own concept of ‘virtual hardcore’ that stands out, referencing how this EP was created and put together remotely before any of the members had actually even met, but also in clear sonic parallels drawn to Atari Teenage Riot or early incarnations of The Prodigy in how volatile and punk an electronic sound can be. They certainly run that gamut of what that can entail here too, from frenzied grinds on Girlracer and Simulate Me where the exposed wiring can practically be heard; to frigid, kinetic drum ‘n’ bass on Godliness; to a mashup of the Beastie Boys’ Sabotage and Run The Jewels’ Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck) on Sleeper, simply just to show off their own brazenness. It carries the same vibe as Ho99o9 a lot of the time, in how the twisted noise-scape solders itself together so haphazardly, and is all the better for it. It’s not the sort of project designed to hit major heights, especially when vocalists Ava Akira and Mollie Rush are just as much a part of the instrumental scenery that anything else, but that’s also the point. Between the grainy production style and gnashing instrumental tone that comes through as particularly violent in the percussion, there’s a lot of that ‘90s wave of electronic music replicated here, in how raw and live this all feels. The jagged edges and imperfections are there by design, and Tokky Horror develop an unmistakable authenticity through them.

It does come with a few unavoidable hang-ups though, albeit ones more tied to the medium of a release like this than anything consciously done by Tokky Horror themselves. It’s a project that feels like it has much greater footing live, something that’s difficult to replicate on a standard release in how the general mood and vision of catharsis is a bit more shepherded by the typical EP structure. To be fair though, you can tell that Tokky Horror are making the best with what they have though, in how the abrasiveness and off-the-cuff creative jolts are still able to come through despite not having the most optimal way of doing so. That definitely comes through the most in Sleeper, where the samples are clear and recognisable, but continuously have the mix around them contort and evolve to wind up as more than just a stitched-together patchwork. It’s that constant, dogged progression that highlights just how much promise Tokky Horror have, where raw power and musical progression don’t have to be mutually exclusive. The fact its able to do that through fairly old-school raw materials is even more impressive again, and when they finally get their chance to air it on the live stage, Tokky Horror could be a serious force to be reckoned with. • LN

7/10

For fans of: The Prodigy, Atari Teenage Riot, Ho99o9

‘I Found The Answers And Now I Want More’ by Tokky Horror is released on 21st May on Alcopop! Records.


Jess And The Ancient Ones

Vertigo

There’s a notable gulf between bands that sound old and bands that sound vintage. Sounding old would imply a like-for-like recreation of a style with none of the spark that could make it work, whereas for Jess And The Ancient Ones, their brand of swirling, psychedelic proto-metal not only sounds authentic to the ‘60s, but leaves the soul and swelter intact. It helps that, with Vertigo, they’re up to their fourth album and have subsequent had time to get the balance right, and that really seems to have been taken into account with such an inherently enjoyable sound right down to its bones. The obvious backbone is the organ centrepiece, harking back to acts like Arthur Brown or Coven in forging that hot, heavy mood that still has a sinisterness to this day. Alongside the weaving bass and British Invasion guitar on World Paranormal, or the early metal stylings of Summer Tripping Man and Born To Kill, Jess And The Ancient Ones offer much stronger ties to that world of early occult rock than, say, a band like Ghost. There isn’t a trimming that’s been underwent here; Vertigo embraces the heady early experimentalism that mightn’t feel as fresh nowadays (or even as wholly workable as the drawn-out closer Strange Earth Illusion proves), but still has so much intrigue and magnetising presence to it.

It’s even more impressive when Jess And The Ancient Ones really aren’t saying all that much of note here, rarely extending past the occultism and mysticism that has the hokey charm of those proto-metal bands that seem so adorably tame by today’s standards. Of course that’s where the appeal lies, in that none of this is really trying to fuel the same sort of panic as those bands did, and the wholehearted embrace and samples of The Exorcist on Talking Board put forth a slightly more tongue-in-cheek air overall. But the beauty of Vertigo is that it still works when taken at face value, as vocalist Jess has a frayed, outsized howl strongly reminiscent of Janis Joplin or Jinx Dawson to capture the same level of authenticity that still hits pretty strongly over fifty years after the original articles. It never feels like a tribute or a thinly-sketched copy; rather, Jess And The Ancient Ones have the know-how to do this completely right, and that comes together for a hugely enjoyable album that offers just that in spades, in not a lot else. As far as resurrecting the old gods of hellfire go, there’s not much mileage to be found beyond its own contemporary permutation of the subgenre, but that’s just fine when Vertigo is easily good enough to stand on its own and easily impress. • LN

7/10

For fans of: Coven, Lucifer, Electric Citizen

‘Vertigo’ by Jess And The Ancient Ones is released on 21st May on Svart Records.


Fiddlehead

Between The Richness

There’s definitely a side-project feel to Fiddlehead, but it’s one that’s fairly easy to quantify. They definitely are one, helmed by Have Heart’s Pat Flynn and featuring Basement’s Alex Henery, though it’s more a case of all that really strikes about them doesn’t run that deeply, being a fairly standard if agreeable emo sound. It almost comes as a surprise that Between The Richness is their second album in that case, in what’s a pretty brief album that has the frayed edges and grunge flirtations that are basically mandatory in this sector of the genre, but not much else beyond that. Sure, Eternal You might be a bit more punk-focused in its quicker tempo and Flynn’s voice having more of a reason to be so far back in the mix, but as the rest breezes by, there isn’t much to hold on to past how generally well-crafted and pleasant it is. The production on the guitars and bass has a warmth and crunch that’s always nice to see, and there certainly isn’t much done wrong with regards to the sound. It’s all very down-the-middle, where innovation or experimentation is barely even given a second look, but the end result isn’t tremendously diminished through doing so.

It’s mostly a case of Fiddlehead at least having the acumen to work in the lane they’re so entrenched in, and the emotional beats feels genuine with regards to what works the most. In this case, it’s focused on Flynn’s oscillating emotions between grief over his father’s passing and joy for the birth of his son, both named Richard to make the particular relationship between both sides even more entangled and intrinsic. That’s an interesting concept to build on, especially on the closer Heart To Heart where the culmination of both intensities comes to a head, and though it would be good to get a bit more vivid detail throughout, it’s a similar case overall where everything comes together well regardless. Flynn has the right sort of gruffness and necessary lack of polish to make it all impassioned, where he gels well the overall atmosphere to bring it all forward across the finish line with a pretty consummate ease. It’s all indicative of a band that aren’t doing too much new or special, but at least know how to work with what they have, and the results are fine, if not particularly groundbreaking. There’s enough about Fiddlehead to like, even if that doesn’t overlap a lot with how much there is to remember. • LN

6/10

For fans of: Basement, Superheaven, Title Fight

‘Between The Richness’ by Fiddlehead is released on 21st May on Run For Cover Records.


Kaonashi

Dear Lemon House, You Ruined Me: Senior Year

Even for an angular, spasmodic mathcore band, Kaonashi can be a bit of a tough sell at first. They already have a built-in intensity thanks to their sound, but when Peter Rono’s hollering, cartoonish shrieks come in to make everything seem even closer, it becomes the sort of incredibly acquired taste that will probably be a breaking point for more than a few. Granted, their self-appointed genre of ‘emo-mathcore’ might do that already, but if there’s a band whose appeal really does make itself known through multiple listens and attention, it really is Kaonashi. Yes, Rono’s voice can be difficult to get along with, but the scraped-out intensity brought out can be flooring when given a more open, emotive platform like on A Recipe For A Meaningful Life, and a level of breath control and deliberate use of panting and sputtering between lines is an inspired way of wrenching out that greater volatility. It’s akin to what letlive. did on Muther, only far wild and unkempt in the best possible way. Furthermore, it punches up the narrative of high school romances and the search for identity beyond what could be just another slice of trite emo fare; it’s raw and panicked, where songs like The Counselor’s Office: A Present Example Of Past Procrastinations and The Underdog III: Exit Pt. IV (A Self Fulfilling Prophecy) almost falling into streams of consciousness in the flayed directions they’ll fall into. That’s not to say it’s without some degree of artifice, as the convoluted song titles indebted to scenecore conventions would betray, but Kaonashi aren’t playing the field as much violently lighting up their content as brightly as possible. It never falls into broad, bland archetypes for as easy as that would be, and near-permanent feeling of on-edge electricity is what keeps Dear Lemon House… feeling so exciting and kinetic.

There’s also the matter of the sound, where indeed Kaonashi have a lot progressive intentions and acute angles in their overall sound, but not so much that it can be overbearing or clashing among its multitude of moving parts. There’s a surprisingly defined melodic core here, presumably where a lot of the emo influence feeds in, but it’s not like there’s anything taken away when more overt hooks will come through. With the exception of the acoustic ballad The Underdog II: Fight On The 40 Yard Line, What’s That In Kilometers?, Kaonashi never feel as though they compromise their base sound for the purpose of a strong chorus. They’ll simply overlay it above the chaos on An Evening Of Moving Pictures With Scooter Corkle and still have it sound great, or undergo a more natural slow build on Run Away Jay for similarly strong results. It’ll make the album feel a lot more dynamic and not as breathless as it initially might seem, with how vibrant and fluid the guitar crunch is and how the sharpened production only accentuates a pace that’s quick but not reckless. Altogether it’s something like a midpoint between letlive. and The Dillinger Escape Plan, wherein the dazzling proficiency of the latter finds a way to mingle with the robust post-hardcore style and intelligence of the former. The results are as great as that might sound too, in another example of forward-thinking rock music doing emphatically its own thing and thriving for it. With each subsequent listen, Kaonashi reveal so much more to love and be impressed by, and earmark themselves as the sort of band with a lot to look forward to within post-hardcore and mathcore should this creative blaze continue. On this evidence, they aren’t even close to burning out yet. • LN

8/10

For fans of: The Dillinger Escape Plan, SeeYouSpaceCowboy, letlive.

‘Dear Lemon House, You Ruined Me: Senior Year’ by Kaonashi is released on 21st May on Rude Records.


Osiah

Loss

Loss is the latest offering from deathcore outfit, Osiah. For those unfamiliar with the quintet, expect insanely heavy tones, ludicrous harsh vocals and a few experimental twists along with way. The new album sees Osiah unleash their powerful sound once again, but it’s clear they have grown and developed. They have always delivered an utterly demonic sound through the careful sculpting of the instrumentation and vocals. They know how to play with tones and dynamics to insert unexpected elements into each track. The intro Realm Of Misery lures you into a haunting atmosphere, carefully setting the scene. Before long, the heavy chaos erupts. From the sudden change in tempo in tracks such as Paracusia to deliver the most epic breakdowns, to the inclusion of an Oriental scale in Queen Of Sorrow, each track has something unique.

The energy is incredible across the album. The stupendously fast, machine-gunning, double kick percussion and blast beats work to form intense rhythms. Complementing and contrasting the instrumentation around them, sections of uniform rhythm along with contrapuntal elements all result in epic displays of power. The title track, Loss, featuring Jason Evans is a great example of this. The theatrics of War Withing Our Walls’ introduction feels like a dramatic film is about to begin, whilst The Ominous Mind (Jaded Inside) introduces a serene lead melody on a clean(er) guitar tone. It’s a huge contrast from the heavy distortion surrounding it but brings a wonderful twist to the mood of the track in its conclusion. Already Lived draws the album to a close with an immense sound. The energy continues in the same vein – maintaining an incredibly fast pace throughout. The album is a fantastic display of Osiah’s compositional and performance skills. Their sound develops further with each release and it’s fantastic watching them continue to grow. Loss is an epic release from beginning to end, a complete and utter triumph. • HR

9/10

For fans of: Humanity’s Last Breath, Ingested, Shadow Of Intent

‘Loss’ by Osiah is out now on Unique Leader Records.


One Morning Left

Hyperactive

Well, at least the title’s accurate. A combination of modern metalcore, ‘80s hair-metal and video game soundtracks was never going to produce something particularly restrained or subtle, but One Morning Left have leaned into it as if that wasn’t even worth trying. To be fair, that’s never been the case with them, though Hyperactive also serves as a worthwhile barometer for how little progress they’ve actually made, and thus how dated this can all feel. They’re on the sort of electro-metalcore kick that’s yielded similar footnotes like Eskimo Callboy, only with the synths being more shrill and fizzy to curve towards a DragonForce-ish aesthetic. It’s not very good, it goes without saying, but the stylisation doesn’t even click all that well, when the standard metalcore fare and sleek power-rock melodicism don’t have the most robust connective tissue. It makes One Morning Left feel like a gimmick band that hasn’t realised what its gimmick even is, just to wind up with a mess that feels supremely overworked with very little breathing room to go around. If they’re lucky, they’ll circle back around to something that has the power they want to cultivate like on Ruthless Resistance, but it’s more common for Hyperactive to feel profoundly empty and forced in what it’s trying to do.

That’s reiterated in how, for a sound that’s reliant on how willfully stupid and obnoxious it can be, One Morning Left aren’t to that same extent. At least that makes them marginally more tolerable on the whole, but when they’ll try and slide over to that same territory like on Sinners Are Winners and Worry Less, Dance More, the whole endeavour feels like a forced push into a scene that they shouldn’t want to be associated with anyway. It only crystallises the notion that One Morning Left don’t have a cogent game plan even further, when most of the writing feels more inconsequential than an album like this demands. There’s a bit of flair to the performance but not enough to really count, and on the whole, Hyperactive ends up a lot more deflated than it was probably meant to be. The intention was probably for a super-fast, super-bright metalcore spectacular that blends all of its elements seamlessly, and while the intentions count for something, it’s not much when it comes to redeeming this nothing of an album. It’s hard to even see who it would appeal to all that much; those in the market for sugar-rushed metalcore at least have the options that fit the needed criteria, not a band who probably don’t even know why they’re in the picture to begin with. • LN

4/10

For fans of: Skip The Foreplay, Eskimo Callboy, Abandon All Ships

‘Hyperactive’ by One Morning Left is released on 21st May on Arising Empire.


Words by Luke Nuttall (LN) and Holly Royle (HR)

One thought

  1. How stupid is this LN? He must have failed his career as a musician or just has sand in his vagina. Reviews are bullshit and he sounds like a bitter fat failure who cry himself to his mother who knows he is a loser but cant say it out loud.

    Like

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