Monthly Archives: August 2011

Album Review: The Book of Knots – Garden Of Fainting Stars

Note: I wrote this review for Freqzine.net, check them out.

This is an odd record. The Book Of Knotsis an invitation-only collective based in New York around a core quartet and supplemented by peripheral musicians in various capacities. On this, their third LP, they explore everything from enormous metallic pounding to expansive forays into the gentle and sublime. They also manage to dig up a few top-notch guests along the way.

Opener “Microgravity” brings a female-fronted version of Page Hamilton’s short-lived Gandhi project to mind with its dense, textural guitars and inorganic bass.

Blixa Bargeld pops up on “Drosophilia Melanogaster” with another one of his occasional reports documenting the amount of time he spends waiting around in airports, “I cover the glass with my passport, which at that time is green with a golden eagle on it,” before exercising his signature screeching vocals to incredible effect.

“Lissajous Orbit” seems to recruit Soundwave from The Transformers to provide a list of negative statements over detuned pianos, which is actually somewhat more unsettling than it should be.

Mid-way the album sags into slightly weaker ambient areas for a few tracks before Mike Patton adds his best vocalizing to one of the album’s strongest moments, “Planemo.” Patton is one of those people who is so prolific and respected that he can get away with singing in this histrionic style; and it still sounds cool. His wail of “we’re finally losing gravity” over mournful strings creates a truly space-age gothic experience.

Closer “Obituary For The Future” starts with a solitary radio broadcast by a lonely mountain-dwelling psychopath before dealing out the album’s heaviest riffage yet – like a modernised Cop-era Swans, iced with almost Björk-esque vocals that stay just the right side of overwrought. The final minutes are entrusted back to the Tourettes-afflicted mountain dweller.

Which is just as it should be.

Album Review: All Pigs Must Die – God Is War

Note:  I wrote this review for Freqzine.net, check them out.

It’s time someone finally said it; Ben Koller is quite possibly the Dave Lombardo of his generation. Now, Lombardo’s technicality may be outclassed by modern day metal standards, but what few drummers can match stillis his propulsive feel.

Koller is one of the special few. When he flies into an up-tempo 4/4 beat, you know it’s going down. And he absolutely tears it up on God Is War; a record that simply refuses to calm down from start to finish. Koller’s playing, and Converge band mate Kurt Ballou’s typically ripping production on this first full-length from All Pigs Must Die, mean comparisons to Converge are inevitable. But there’s something more macho going on here. Whereas lyrically Converge deal mostly in bitterness and heartbreak, APMD have more global matters on their minds. As the album title hints, themes on war and destruction are in no short supply.

The vocals, provided by The Hope Conspiracy’s Kevin Baker are suitably livid and the guitar and bass much more frantic than the stoner musings of Adam Wentworth and Matt Woods’ other band, Bloodhorse. Opener “Death Dealer” spends its first minute pretending to be quite melodic before switching to frenzied blast beats. “Third World Genocide” (which nods to the riff from Napalm Death’s “Cock Rock Alienation”) is a proper fight to the death; all ‘bayonets through the eye’ and Geneva Convention ignorance. Closer “Sadistic Vindicator” is a chameleonic eight-and-a-half minute epic that lets APMD slow down a touch, focus their brawn, and find something genuinely approaching subtlety.

Whether we’ll see another album is anyone’s guess, but for something that isn’t really any members’ main project, it’s a surprisingly consistent whole. There are thousands of bands out there trying to impress the importance of their rage upon you, but not many of them do it with this much violent pizazz.