Tag Archives: Awooga

Looking Ahead: The Music of 2018

Two reasons for this post:  1) to make a list of the stuff that is out/will be coming out/has been rumoured might appear at some point this year; and 2) to keep the blog alive.  I really do need to actually write stuff for it…otherwise why am I dishing out $150 a year?

It might be a bit early to talk about new releases (for me; I do not accumulate new music at the pace of some others I know), but there does seem to be enough interesting stuff upcoming to make it worth taking a look to the future.  There is a spate of albums coming out this spring, and then we wait for the fall season.  If certain rumours/promises come true, it could be another epic year.

So far in 2018:

The Temperance Movement:  A Deeper Cut : This album is seriously kicking my ass.  Great blues rock from England.  These guys are sharp and tight as hell, and clearly know what they are doing.

 

Dope Default: Ofrenda: Loose and dirty hard/stoner rock from Greece.  Ofrenda is their debut album, and it sounds like a debut album, but it is certainly listenable and has some good moments.  They are worth keeping an eye on.

 

 

Upcoming for sure/preordered (or will be):

Riverside:  I have heard one track from this album, in demo form … and ohboy ohboy ohboy.  If the album lives up to that promise…well, The Boys are Back. Fingers crossed.

 

Lunatic Soul: Under the Fragmented Sky (EP) – tracks that did not make it on to Fractured but are worth a release.  As above – I heard one track from this, and it revives my hopes for a return to the LS of old—or more precisely the LS that sets hooks deep in my soul.

 

Solar Fields: Ourdom – time for some classic industrial electronica.  I like some of his stuff more than others; I preordered the album on the basis of the youtube preview. I hope it is worth it.

 

Amorphis: Queen of Time.  One track (“The Bee”) released so far.  The Finnish folk-metallers sound much more symphonic and expansive, while retaining the heaviness and their signature growl/clean vocal tradeoff.  Based on this track I’m not sure it will equal the last album.

 

Awooga: Conduit – nice heavy metal/hard rock, they had a great EP from 2016 which I would play more often if I didn’t have to switch to 45 rpm (details details…).  A couple tracks already available to preview, they seem to have developed a more spacious sound.

 

The Fierce and the Dead: The Euphoric — I like them, but often what they do tends to get a bit too far into the technical/alt/art-rock region for me to love them.  But when they are good they are great, and I think the new one holds some promise. Preordered based on the released track.

 

Toundra: Vortex – I have all the previous albums from these Spanish post-rockers, that I don’t play all that often…but once in a while they hit the spot. The single “Cobra” sounds pretty much like Toundra, dense and heavy.

 

Front Line Assembly: WarMech – new soundtrack for a new game.  I find myself kind of up and down about these guys, I much prefer Leeb’s other project Noise Unit, but on the strength of the previous game OST (AirMech, which is pretty nice) I sprang for the preorder.

 

VNV Nation: Noire – Out in October, described as “dark and intense”, first studio album since Transnational in 2013.

 

Leech – The only Swiss band in my collection. It has been what – 5 years since their last one?  Six?  Anyway, it was a pretty nice post-metal album, and the  only album I tried purely because of the cover.  Be interesting to hear what the new one will sound like.

 

Nordic Union: wherein Ronnie Atkins of Pretty Maids (Denmark) lends his iron pipes to the sound of the hard rock outfit Eclipse (Sweden). At this point it is just the promise of a new release, no other info.  But that is enough for me: hopefully it will be the same kind of straight-up kick-ass hard rock as the first one, which I love.

Rumoured for 2018:

 Au4: Last fall an American internet radio guy scheduled a playthrough of 2014’s …And Down Goes the Sky, and had the guys live on the air to talk about it.  They said a new album should appear this year.  I surely hope so…if it is anything like that last one, it will be a strong contender for album of the year.

Missed from 2017:

 Hypergiant: Father Sky – interesting doom/psych rock.  It has its moments, and the track “Colossi” is truly epic, but the album might be a bit too much all at once.

 

Believe: VII Widows – a band that has been around for a while, in various incarnations, guitarist Mirek Gil’s vehicle since the end of Collage.  I am not a fan of long-winded modern prog, as many of you know, but VII Widows is surprisingly good, very nice arrangements and passages, and I must say beautiful guitar themes (Gil on here reminds me of Steve Hackett, and there is nothing wrong with that). I am not crazy about the somewhat overblown and mannered style of the vocalist, but there are few enough vocal sections that he ends up intruding less on the experience than would otherwise be the case.  Nice and listenable.

 

Decapitated: Anticult – I confess that I checked this out mostly out of morbid curiosity; the band found itself in deep shit in late 2017 while on tour in America (i.e. they were tossed in jail in Seattle for three months; charges were all dropped).  Not generally being a fan of thrash metal (or so I thought), I had not paid them any attention.  Well, you just never know: when I listened to Anticult I found, inexplicably, that I liked it a whole lot: in fact, it would have been one of the stronger releases of last year had I found it sooner.

 

The Albums of 2016 — Part Two.

So: on to the actual list of actual albums of 2016.  My introductory blurb is here.  This year it is a Top 20, because the quality of music was just so high.  In fact, unlike most years, this time I struggled with the bottom end of the list – there were a number of albums that were very close to making the cut, and it was difficult to not be able to include them (there were some no-hopers — there always are — but rather fewer this year than normal).  My apologies to those who didn’t quite make it.

A real feature of the albums at the top is their staying power.  Several of them were released early in the year (the Shearwater in fact was released digitally in December 2015 to those who pre-ordered), and despite the passage of time, and the tendency to focus on more recent albums, they hold up: They are as strong at the end of the year as they were when they were first released.  For me, this is the true test of an album’s quality: if it gives as much pleasure or demands as much attention from me a year (or more) later as it did when it first appeared.

  1. Van der Graaf Generator – Do Not Disturb

Is this the last VdGG album?  There are hints that it might be, but on the other hand there are few musicians out there as prolific as Peter Hammill has been over his career…so who knows?  At any rate, this is the old VdGG but sans David Jackson, which does remove a crucial familiar element from the music, but otherwise there is no mistaking the haunted angst, the echoes of the great band of the past.

 

  1. Throes of Dawn — Our Voices Shall Remain

Throes of Dawn are a Finnish outfit that apparently at one time were black metal. They have softened and broadened their sound, but the metal hasn’t left. They are a bit derivative to my ears, but there are some beautiful instrumental moments in these songs — and whoever that guitarist is — well, it is gorgeous playing, soaring and evocative, and that is enough to slide this album onto the list.

The title track has a bass line stolen right from Editors “Sugar” — but nevertheless, I love the song.

 

  1. Necro Deathmort — The Capsule

I’ve said this before: it is hard to predict what you are going to get with these guys. Relentlessly prolific, they are continually tossing out EPs and tracks that explore the landscape of ambience, electronica, drone, in myriad directions. The Capsule revisits the disquieting dark moodiness of Music of Bleak Origins, instrumental drone metal underlain with a jittery anxiety.

 

17. Opeth — Sorceress

Opeth is one of those bands that I have struggled mightily with for a long time, trying to hear what everyone else seems to hear, who love them so much. In the end I guess I have to say that they remain completely hit-and-miss for me. That being said, I find that Sorceress is one of their more accessible albums. I don’t love it, but I can listen to it more than most of their others. So here it is, number 17.

 

  1. uKanDanz – Awo

And now for something completely different.  It is hard to describe what we have here – based out of France, hard, energetic, proggy/jazzy rock, lots of guitar riffage and horns, and on top of it all the unique vocal stylings of their Ethiopian lead singer, Asnake Gebreyes.  It is heavy and strangely compelling, but may well be an acquired taste.

 

  1. Dead When I Found Her – Eyes on Backwards

As I noted earlier, 2016 was the year I really discovered industrial electronica, a genre I had never really explored before, having come across them completely by accident a couple of years or so ago when I found VNV Nation.  But this year there seems to have been a bumper crop of the stuff brought to my awareness.  DWIFH is a duo from Portland, Oregon; this album is all smooth synths and dark trance, oddly compelling and disquieting, perhaps a bit too sample-heavy for my taste, but interesting enough to make the list.

Continue reading The Albums of 2016 — Part Two.