It’s Not A Phase
Might take a bit of explaining at first, this one. So, REZZ is a Canadian producer who was discovered by Skrillex and ended up signing to Deadmau5’s label; the music she makes typically isn’t far off either. This new release, however, has explicitly been described as a “goth EP”, in what on the surface seems to be REZZ’s turn to tap into the current emo phase that every non-alternative artist has been going through over the last couple of years. Obviously though, the title states otherwise, and previous collaborations with Underøath and PVRIS at least show some application made within the scene other than mere lip-service. And unlike Illenium who’ll get Spiritbox and Motionless In White on his album and basically have them make all the music for him, REZZ definitely seems to have a desire to draw something of this whole ‘rocktronica’ thing herself.
To a point, anyway. There’s always a feeling with these rock / electronic crossbreeds that the creator invisions them to have way longer legs than they actually do, and It’s Not A Phase is no exception. Of the seven tracks here, it’s really only Signal that gets all the way there, bringing in more fully-fledged rock elements and blending them fairly well with the dark, churning bass. Otherwise, the ‘goth’ elements of REZZ’s sound are almost exclusively its pitch-black tone. That in itself is fine—particularly when sharpened by the propulsive grind of Not Enough—but the quasi-dubstep leanings always tend to default back to their own lumbering, abyssal weight. The ‘rock’ tends to manifest more as nebulous guitar parts that bring to mind the old emo-rap days more than anything, or in the case of Blue In The Face, the hideous gurgle of a drain clogged with barbed wire.
What’s most disappointing of all is how infrequent It’s Not A Phase’s moments of properly clicking are. The aforementioned Signal and Not Enough are the only real highlights; Dreamstate might have the EP’s most towering hook thanks to Silverstein’s Shane Told, but when Polyphia’s Tim Henson is also there and it’s hard to tell what he’s actually doing, that tends to bring the rest down too. At least REZZ can flood in her dark, oppressive atmosphere with consistency, aided by the fact that lyrics barely matter in music like this. As for the singers performing them, however, personality voids like Johnny Goth and MKLA keep things crawling and slogging all the more noticeably. Rarely does this turn out fun or engaging to listen to, even despite REZZ’s insistence to make everything as colossal as possible. You might find yourself lost in the experience, but that’s a case of it being too big and loud to avoid.
And for this type of electronic music, that might be the point, but it circles back to any original intentions of crafting something new from this genre-fusion, and how piecemeal the turnout on It’s Not A Phase feels. It might fit some kind of mould, but it isn’t new or exciting, or crossing into some new frontier when the majority of the time, experiments like this turn out just as shaky. And when it’ll inevitably be spun as some bold next step at ripping down genre boundaries, that’s when this all gets a bit much. To be fair to REZZ, that last part is out of her control, but having it thrust upon her despite no sufficient results to back it up is exactly the reach releases like this tend to inspire. Yay…
For fans of: Deadmau5, Borgore, Excision
‘It’s Not A Phase’ by REZZ is released on 20th July on HyperVizion Records.
A Love To Kill For
If you were stocking up on good-not-great hardcore albums in 2020, you probably ran into Chamber’s Cost Of Sacrifice. Despite an aptitude for sounding suitably feral, it struggled to really make itself known at a time when hardcore was building an exceptionally stacked cast for itself that’s not let up in the slightest since. And that can make things a little complicated for A Love To Kill For, when its genre’s heaviest heavyweights are favouring the tight-yet-flexible Flatspot approach that Chamber aren’t really among.
Still, it’s hard to argue with a band who does well with what’s expected of them. If Chamber are going to be anything going forward, it’ll likely be that, replete with all the implied strengths and weaknesses that brings. More strengths though, give that A Love To Kill For feels like a pretty complete package. It’s not purely beatdown-y enough for that end of the spectrum, nor serrated and complicated enough for the other, but finds a medium that’ll inevitably sweep up some enjoyment from both. That is to say, it leans closer towards the former, but the thrown-in squeals and shards of shrapnel masquerading as seconds-long songs make for some additional diversity. In either case, Chamber come to bat with blood dripping from their jaws at all times, and the expected unrelenting listen follows.
They’re yet to find something uniquely Chamber among it all, mind, but it’s less of a weight on them this time. ‘Less’, but not entirely removed, as A Love To Kill For is still lacking some wow-factor to put Chamber among hardcore’s storied highest echelon. They feel better at ploughing through that this time, though, embracing the menace that’s naturally cultivated to either slash or slam to equal effect. When they hit their full stride, you get a song like Devoured, bolstered by a naturally savage feature from Kublai Khan TX’s Matt Honeycutt, but with enough beef in its own right on Chamber’s part. It’s unsettled and jagged, and also just straight-up heavy enough to atomise a whole row of skulls in one fell swoop.
And at the end of the day, that’s all anyone wants from hardcore. Chamber are well aware of that and play accordingly, with a certainty in themselves that shines through regardless where they fall in any arbitrary tiers. If you want to play that game, there are bands doing more exciting stuff in the hardcore space, but let’s not dampen what’s still a good thing here, okay? A Love To Kill For is the kind of hardcore fix that’s hard to dispute or complain about—it gets the job done, and you’ll end up as bruised as you like by the end of it.
For fans of: Year Of The Knife, Sanction, 156/Silence
‘A Love To Kill For’ by Chamber is released on 14th July on Pure Noise Records.
Voice Of Baceprot
As yet more proof of metal’s penetration power across every corner of the globe, Voice Of Baceprot arrive out of rural Indonesia to make themselves known. That in itself isn’t too uncommon, what with the country’s extensive library of death metal acts and the whole One Finger Movement based out of Jakarta, but Voice Of Baceprot fall widely outside of that ballpark. They’ve got much more in common with Rage Against The Machine or System Of A Down, in a groove-driven alt-metal vein with some more splash and energy to it. Add on the fact that they’re also an all-female band, and things feel noticeably more distinct.
The question is though—when viewed outside the vacuum of Indonesian metal specifically, does that distinction remain? Well, yeah, kind of. Although it’s not hard to spot how their influences are sewn together, Voice Of Baceprot aren’t directly mirroring anyone of note in the current scene. The decision to avoid nu-metal is a smart one in that case, allowing them to prioritise a more fluid approach to metal. Bassist Widi is the clear star in that respect, where songs like PMS and God, Allow Me (Please) To Play Music have the roil and churn to them that really pops out. Similarly, there’s a free-flowing experimentation to the instrumental Kawani and the closer School Revolution where the spirit of ‘90s-tilting alt-metal creativity is operating at full force. It’d be nice to have some more depth the production and especially the vocals—there’s a bit of a flatness and a dryness that can be felt sometimes—but it never gets in the way of a selection of solid core ideas.
And right now, that kind of feels like the most important thing for Voice Of Baceprot to have nailed down. They certainly do from the perspective they’re coming from, in songs about being empowered as a Muslim woman while wearing a hijab onstage, or conservative attitudes in their home village towards women making music. There’s quite literally no other band with any profile—in metal or otherwise—writing songs about topics like this, not to mention having some sizable chunks of lyrics sung in Indonesian. It’s a near-seamless conflation of western and eastern approaches to metal, struck from the jump and turned into the main tenet of Voice Of Baceprot’s work. With a bit more streamlining and punching-up (and hooks with the same earworm capability of God, Allow Me (Please) To Play Music), there could be something pretty special to hand here.
Not that Retas itself isn’t already very good; it definitely is, while also managing to foster some real encouragement for the future. The extra seasoning could really make all the difference in terms of bringing out the real nascent excellence that Voice Of Baceprot. And that’s always great to see from a first go round, obviously. It puts the onus on bringing out the differences between this band and the metal scene at large, ready to ride off them and embrace what’s new and fresh here. All the while, Voice Of Baceprot have an accessibility that never goes unnoticed, nor unappreciated. The crossover potential is boundless, and it’s only a matter of time before it’s unleashed with glorious excess.
For fans of: Rage Against The Machine, System Of A Down, Faith No More
‘Retas’ by Voice Of Baceprot is released on 13th July on 12WIRED.
Words by Luke Nuttall