Storming out of the Akron/Kent music scene, Red Water Tragedy front a new breed riff-heavy Rock and Roll. Their particular blend of bluesy modern rock and grinding sludge, offer an equally powerful blend of soul and angst. The band take on the aesthetics of acts like Clutch and Corrosion of Conformity, with a modern twist that’s interestingly both radio-friendly and slamming heavy. On their latest output, The Beast A Part of Me, the band have clearly defined a path for which their exciting brand of heavy rock will take listeners on a relentless, wild ride.
Initially formed over a decade ago, Red Water Tragedy have undergone a handful of lineup changes and fresh starts before solidifying themselves in 2013. Now, after slaying audiences across the region with high-profile performances throughout the Akron, Cleveland, Kent and Youngstown areas, Red Water Tragedy are set to unleash their first major statement on the face on the regional scene.
The Beast A Part of Me comes out swinging with the slamming opener, “Lest You Forget.” The track immediately announces its presence, and offers a nastiness in the vein of Clutch or Red Fang, with soulful angst-ridden vocals of lead singer Paul Galloway in full effect providing a unique edge. From there, a blast of riffage hits hard via “Storm the Castle,” which to many fans, has become Red Water Tragedy’s signature song thus far. The track particularly highlights most of the band’s best qualities; tight-yet-pounding rhythms, massive riffs and searing vocals.
The tracks “Concede” and “The Struggle” both feature and Alice in Chains-esque dynamic of hard riffs and moody atmospheres. They contain a certain quality of darkness that is immediately and refreshingly reminiscent of Layne Staley in the mid-90s.
Red Water Tragedy
After a brief “Intermission,” Side B of The Beast A Part of Me sees the band taking their songwriting up a notch with more diverse subject matter and musical complexity. “The Reckoning” displays a tense build-up before an epic crescendo, finding Galloway screaming “Go fuck your ego,” with true conviction. Although political overtones are subtlety and tastefully weaved through the album, the following track, “False Fangs,” places them front-and-center. “Contradict and leave us in the dark,” sings Galloway, while making a strong point, and leaving just enough to the listener’s own interpretation.
Closing out the album is the ripping “Far Too Long,” featuring some flavorful wah-heavy guitar, slick bass lines and cowbell! Finally, the album concludes with “Darkness Inside,” a brooding, atmospheric and vulnerable acoustic track, that still puts high emphasis on what’s quite possible Red Water Tragedy’s true knack; moodiness.
All in all, The Beast A Part of Me serves as a great introduction to what Red Water Tragedy is all about. There’s power, angst, soul, groove, heaviness, moodiness and well-formulated songs. The production quality is very high, leaving just enough grit for the average Sludge/Stoner Rock fan to enjoy, but just enough polish for a radio-friendly audience to grab. That is no easy feat, as some acts who walk the line of underground and mass acceptance run the risk of insincerity. Luckily, this is not the case for Red Water Tragedy, as each individual track stands out in one unique way or another. The Beast A Part of Me is perfect for fans of regional acts like Resinaut, Mississippi Gun Club and Rule of Two, or national acts such as Clutch, Red Fang, Floodgate or Alice in Chains.
Buzz Osborne. Photo courtesy of metalinjection.net.
By Brandon Judeh (Music Reporter)
Buzz Osborne of the Melvins has been making plenty of headlines in the past month, due in large part to his criticism of the Kurt Cobain documentary, Montage of Heck.
The Raw Alternative talked to King Buzzo last week while he and his band mates were in Columbus, Osborne talked Cobain, new music and vinyl.
Whenever the topic of Nirvana or his late friend comes up, you can always expect the truth and some sarcasm thrown in from the Melvins singer.
This time there was a bit of surprise expressed.
“Getting all of this attention about that documentary has been surprising, I can’t believe people care about what I have to say regarding it,” Osborne said. “I’ve already said everything that’s been needed to say about the shitty documentary. What good is there to say? Kurt was a close friend of ours and he’s dead, tell me what the good part of that is?”
Osborne said the only reason he even watched Montage of Heck was because another outlet asked him to do a review on it.
The singer has been critical of the movie, saying, “90 percent of it is lies, false, made up bullshit.”
Buzz first met Cobain in high school and the two quickly forged a friendship, as the young Cobain became a roadie for the Melvins who heavily influenced the future Nirvana leader.
Fan reactions have been mixed about his comments. Some agree, some do not, while others are claiming Buzz is a “Bitter, old man that is jealous of Nirvana’s success.”
Osborne’s answer to that is priceless.
“Yep, that’s it! They are exactly right, I’m bitter, I’m old and I’m jealous,” Osborne sarcastically quipped. “Whatever people want to think is fine, if they want to assume I’m not successful, that’s great! I could care less.”
“I know what happened and what the documentary portrays is not how it happened, I was there from the beginning all the way to their final show when Kurt walked on stage for the final time.”
The Melvins will be walking onto the Grog Shop’s stage on Thursday as they continue to tour behind their release of the EP The Bulls and the Bee’s and the rerelease of 2001’s Electroretard all on one CD.
The main reason behind the rerelease of Electroretard (an album full of reworked songs) is because it was long out of print and Buzz and drummer Dale Crover wanted to give fans a better chance to have a physical copy.
“We felt it was a good time to put it back out there, to give fans a chance to get a copy, I think it was a good idea,” added Osborne.
EPs are something that Osborne says he’s fond of and believes that today’s generation may feel the same way.
“I think it’s an attention span thing, plus I would rather hear five or six really good songs rather than a LP that may be half good and half shitty,” Buzz added.
The vinyl release of “The Bulls and the Bee’s” has been delayed due to delays at factories because of the overwhelming demand for vinyl.
It’s no secret that every hipster imaginable has jumped on the vinyl bandwagon, but Osborne say’s he really doesn’t mind, nor does he care that chain stores such as Barnes and Noble have also jumped at the opportunity.
“It’s cool, I don’t mind it, it give’s more people ways to listen to music. The more opportunities there are for people to listen to my music the better. With so many stores carrying vinyl now, it makes it easier for the consumer to get a hold of music, it’s definitely an industry changer,” Osborne added.
The Melvins, however, are not new to vinyl; they have been releasing albums on the format for many years, often limited runs that fans snatch up quickly at shows.
Not to mention the limited edition posters, pins and other off the wall and rare goodies the band is known to sell at their concerts.
While Buzz admits that he doesn’t collect vinyl, he says he understands the mind of a collector.
“I get the whole mentality of it, I collect stuff too, so I understand how a person can get into collecting vinyl, it’s all pretty similar,” said the 51-year-old.
Though 2015 is half way over, the Melvins still have plenty of plans for the rest of the year as well as 2016.
The Colossus of Destiny: A Melvin’s Tale is a documentary on the more than 30 year history of the band and will be released in early 2016.
Started as a Kickstarter fund, the project raised nearly $100,000 and has plenty of cool extras that fans could snatch up for different dollar amounts during the pledging stage.
Stay tuned, as the Raw Alternative will have all of the latest Melvins news.
Torche. Photo courtesy of the band’s official Facebook page.
By Brandon Judeh (Music Reporter)
Most bands strive to get better with each album and tour, but few achieve this. Miami based Sludge Metal outfit, Torche, however, has.
Now four LP’s deep, the quartet, consisting of Steve Brooks (guitars, vocals), Jonathan Nuñez (bass), Rick Smith (drums) and Andrew Elstner (guitar, vocals), continues to evolve with each new album.
Nuñez said that every record is a snapshot of where the band was during that particular time period.
“I think every album showcases where we were during that two or three week period that we recorded the specific album, or what we were doing at that time,” said Nuñez.
Torche’s new album, Restarter, is just as sludgy as it’s predecessors, but shows the band maturing with poppy hooks and a broader sound. Though the album, which Nuñez said got its name because it connected well with the songs on the album, was released in February, the band laid the groundwork for it a year ago.
“This album is a little over a year old to us,” added Nuñez. “I feel this represents us very well and is a bit more sludgy than our other records. Our last record (Harmonicraft) was more up-tempo… A big reason why our records sound the way they do is because of our straight forward approach to song writing, we focus more on the power of each song.”
Anyone who is a fan of the band will instantly love songs like “Bishop in Arms” and “Minions” as both are prime examples of Torche’s well-oiled rhythm section of Nuñez and Smith.
The duo has been playing together for more than 10 years and Nuñez said this is why the two are so tight musically.
“On the records our playing is more straight forward, but when we are on tour we open up our playing a little bit,” he said. “When we are playing live, we like to jam on a lot of the parts and leave room to embellish a bit.”
The jams will continue to roll as Torche is currently on tour (The band played Cleveland Height’s Grog Shop on March 17) through March. The group will then head to Europe for the entire month of May.
Though touring can sometimes be a drag, filled with little sleep and constant traveling, Nuñez and his band mates enjoy being out on the road and seeing friends, both new and old.
“We all love to tour, it’s great getting out and seeing old friends. From touring so many years we literally have friends all over the United States and overseas,” the bass player said. “It’s also great to hit up certain restaurants in different city’s and eat some great food and search around for some used gear.”
Playing shows in Europe though, is a whole different experience, from the culture to the food. But it’s something Nuñez said he always looks forward too doing, ever since he first played overseas back in 2006.
“It’s so exciting playing in Europe, it’s like a different world between the culture and the way people act. The food is amazing and it’s a great place to go exploring. What’s also neat is how we often will cross paths with a lot of different bands while over there and we try to check out their shows. We have had a ton of great experiences,” Nuñez said.
Checking out and listening to a wide variety of bands is nothing new for the men of Torche.
Their influences range from Sublime to African beats and classic rock to metal. Nuñez said that each member likes different kinds of music, but in the end it all blends together to make the bands signature sound.
Nuñez and company also happen to be a productive band; in fact, they are already three or four songs deep into their next record. Though they have no clue when the next album will happen, they are pleased with the head start.
“We started around January and have three, maybe four songs nailed down with some other jams we are playing around with,” said Nuñez. “A lot of our songs come together from jam sessions, we are a very productive band and are always writing and looking forward to the next stage.”
One of the main reasons the band keeps pushing forward is because of their fans, which have stuck with them from the start.
Perhaps the biggest show of support came after lead singer Steve Brooks came out as one of the few gay musicians in the “Metal” scene.
Brooks had no fear of any backlash, as he was certain he would have the support from his fans and band mates.
“Steve, along with the rest of the band, never received any kind of negativity over that. Obviously we all support him and so did our fans and people around the whole ‘metal scene’ or whatever you want to call it. We have a lot of great fans and open-minded people,” Nuñez stated.
“We have a lot of chill, liberal fans that come to our shows, at the end of the day, they don’t care about our sexuality or anything like that, they just care about the music and want to have a good time at the show.”
Restarter was released via Relapse Records and fans can visit their website torchemusic.com and play an exclusive 16-bit video game called Torche vs Robots: Annihilation Affair that features the band fighting robots.
Cvtvnmvvth performing at Cedars in Youngstown, OH. Left to right: Sam Bowlin, Kenny Halbert and Eric Thrap.
By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)
It’s been quite a busy 12 months for Youngstown-based Doom Metal juggernauts, Cvttcnmvvth. Following the release of their debut EP, Toughsnake, in 2013, the band have been hard at work solidifying their lineup and making a splash on the local scene. With explosive performances across the area alongside top-notch acts like Album and Resinaut, as well as a handful of high-profile performances lined up, Cvttvnmvvth have firmly established themselves as the must-see ticket in the area in 2015.
The Raw Alternative recently spoke to the band’s founding members, guitarist Sam (Javier) Bowlin and drummer Kenny Halbert to discuss a number of topics including the band’s creative influences, their thoughts on the local scene, dividing their time between side-project Wild Wings and their upcoming performance opening for Columbus, Ohio Sludge legends Lo-Pan on Jan. 17.
Give us a brief history of the band from it’s formation up to now. Have you been involved with any past projects or worked with anyone previously which led to Cvttvnmvvth? How did the current lineup come together?
Sam: Kenny and I had originally began our musical collaboration when we met in high school, some 20-plus years ago. Ken had rented a practice space out in the middle of a crumbling junkyard on the outskirts of New Springfield, (Ohio) and it was there that we started version 1.0 of Cvttvnmvvth (then spelled Cottonmouth, without all the V’s, those came later). We strived to create unpleasant, virulent music that reflected our grim surroundings. Things eventually fell apart, as things often do, and after high school we went our separate ways for nearly two decades; I headed out east, while Kenny continued his adventures, musical and otherwise, between here and the west coast. I moved back to Youngstown in 2012 and reconnected with my old friend. It didn’t take long before we found ourselves in a new musical collaboration, the band Railings. Things ran their course with that act, and with some downtime on our hands we had the urge to resurrect our first band, a new version where Ken switched from bass to drums, but with all of the original intentions in place: To create something ugly. We recorded our debut, Toughsnake, in mid 2013. We tried a few select heads out on bass before Eric Tharp joined up with us in early 2014.
You made a pretty big splash on the scene last year. What are your plans for 2015?
Sam: We plan on recording material for our follow-up, working title Total Possession (Soundtrack to the Blackest of Masses), but Kenny’s not crazy about parentheses in album titles, so we’ll see how that one flies. Also, we will play cool shows and weird out squares.
Kenny: What do you think about the title? When you set a precedent like that it brings a lot of crazies out of the woodwork…plus, with the clandestine nature of these affairs, it’s hard to know for sure if it’s really the “blackest.” Someone will have to come up with a Scoville Unit-type ranking system, or something.
What’s your take on the current local scene right now? What do you like most about it? How can it improve?
Sam: I see both good and bad in the local scene. There’s a seeming trend of “acoustic” nights, which doesn’t do much for me personally, but it must be popular because you get so much of it around here. I like a bit of a spectacle if I’m going to see a band, I want something loud and different and if it can catch me off my guard then I’m into it. If I wanted to be bored and content I’d sit at home watching Criminal Minds reruns. If I know I’m going to have my mind blown, I’m much more likely to leave the house.
Kenny: It’s reflective of itself. If people start more relevant bands, there will be a scene with more bands that are relevant. If people want to go to art shows they can go support those things, and then there will be a boon there. Organic food stuff trading will be on the rise.
How can fans, and other musicians perhaps, benefit from getting out and diving into the local scene?
Sam: Well, it’s certainly something to do in a city where you don’t always have a ton of options for entertainment that doesn’t involve something illegal or immoral. Sometimes seeing a terrible band can be just a fulfilling as seeing one that rages, depending on your mood. Apathy tends to be the general consensus about town, which pairs well with the blight and despair, and while you might not have the ability to make someone care, at the very least you can try and make them uncomfortable.
Kenny: While watching a band, if you’re thinking, “This band is shit,” start a band. It might sound like a pile of shit, but it will be yours.
What’s your opinion of the current state of the music industry? Do you think it’s easier or more difficult to reach a mass audience? Are tactics like U2 giving away their entire album for free a good thing, or a sign of the end of old business model? How do you distribute your music?
Sam: There might as well not even be a music industry. There’s no money in putting out challenging or innovative music on a grand scale like it may have been in days past. Everything is subject to entropy, and when dinosaurs like U2 attempt such marketing schemes, one realizes the whole business model is dead on the table. Bono can afford to give his work away for free because he’s already made millions from the machine. It’s become a prerequisite that one distributes music in some digital format; there’s no escaping it. But it sure helps to get your work out there to a growing populace who may not own a CD player or tape deck or turntable.
Kenny: The music industry is a pile of shit. And Bono got paid for that. So did Thom Yorke. And don’t get me started on this new $1,000 Neil Young Walkman—what shit. We distribute at shows, online, and through physical distributors.
There seems to be a strong resurgence in the Doom/Stoner/Sludge scene. How does Cvttvnmvvth fit into that? What sets you apart?
Sam: Doom Metal has always seemed to work in odd cycles of obscurity and relevance. It’s a genre I have been a fan of since childhood, whether it was coveting my older brother’s Black Sabbath records, or going out and discovering bands like Saint Vitus and Candlemass as a teenager. For me, the best doom has a deep emotional resonance, which I hope translates in Cvttvnmvvth, whether it be abject desolation or world-weary pessimism. What sets us apart, I think, is approaching the material with a wider palate of ideas and approximations in regards to sounding the way we want, rather than a pastiche of our influences, which is hardly interesting.
Kenny: I don’t necessarily agree. It’s always around. If there was a recent peak, the peak happened a while back when Josh Homme was hanging out with Anthony Bourdain, nationally anyway. Metal itself is always there, but the various sub-genre flavors that are in vogue at the time change. But if any bands are into tube amplification and fuzz and a “give ‘em hell” attitude, we can fit in. No wimps. What sets us aside is that we have never set out to sound like _____________, nor set any rules governing the shaping of our sound. Although it should be noted Javier would probably play every song solo on the organ if left to his own devices. We try to encourage him away from “the Devil’s Showtunes”.
Songs like “Hideous Witness,” although heavy, seem to maintain a strange balance between Goth and psychedelic rock. Elaborate on your sound as much as you can (or are willing to). Why do you think it is important to show diversity and stand out?
Sam: Gothic and psychedelic music are a definite influence on our work, almost as much as punk or metal in the mix. I like thick, lumbering sounds; anything that comes across as suffocating or oppressive pleases me. At the end of the day, standing out or seeming diverse isn’t as important as it is to tweak some sort of emotional reaction out of the listener, even if its discomfort or disgust.
Kenny: The “psychedelic” part must come from Stoner Rock. The “Goth” part comes to Javier late at night after teasing his hair, while drinking iced tea and playing Bananagrams by the glow of a space heater.
What kinds of artists are you listening to currently? Have they or will they influence your sound? Any influences that fans may not expect?
Sam: I listen to a lot of older metal, stuff like Hellhammer, Bathory, and Beherit, 70’s hard rock, a lot of contemporary black metal; I’m pretty obsessive over certain region and era specific styles and genres of metal, but I fancy quite a bit of the 80’s gothic and post-punk racket as well. I think everything one likes ends up an influence, whether or not the influence is immediately apparent.
Kenny: Mainliner, Rakta, Coneheads, EYEHATEGOD, Greenleaf, Horn Of The Rhino. Absolutely. I love Steely Dan.
You have a pretty high-profile gig with Lo-Pan coming up; are you guys excited to be opening for them? Do you think having them perform in Youngstown is good for the local scene?
Sam: We are very delighted to be opening for Lo-Pan. It’s a great opportunity to expose our work to music fans who may have not had the pleasure to see our live show or hear our music before. I left Ohio in the mid-90’s so I missed the halcyon days of the Nyabinghi when heavier bands made Youngstown a regular stop on their touring circuits, but if the stories are to be believed, there are people who reside in our fair city who enjoy aggressive music but might not be aware that there are still bands who play in that style. We’ll see how the 17th goes. At the very minimum, we’ll have a good time and get to watch those guys devastate.
Kenny: Yes, I hope people come to the show. If not, that can become a bummer, and then what’s the point? A lot of those “glory dayz” memories people have about Nya, Cedar’s, Penguin Pub, etc., were often shows attended by eight people. The numbers in attendance swell as time passes. But that’s all gone now, so why not come out now and make some fantastic memories you can embellish later? And create something new instead of trying to become what things were. And you’ll be able to say you saw us “back in the day” when we were young; like, in our 30’s.
What’s in store for future recordings/releases? How can fans get a hold of your music?
Sam: We plan on doing some recording at some point this year. Ken and I split our time between Cvttvnmvvth and our other band, Wild Wings, so amidst playing out with both bands we’ll eventually get some work done in the Animal Dojo and have something new to offer before the year’s over. Expect more songs about sex and death. We have work by both bands available on our website www.lionscarerecordings.com as well as our Bandcamp page, cvttvnmvvth.bandcamp.com.
For more than 30 years Buzz Osborne has been the King of everything weird, heavy and sludgy with his highly influential band the Melvins.
Now, King Buzzo is looking toward another outlet as he’s releasing an acoustic solo album titled This Machine Kills Artists set for a June 3 release via Ipecac Recordings.
To the casual fan, this raw, bare bones record may seem strange. But to any hardcore Melvanite, this will come as no surprise.
“Nothing we do is universally accepted, to be honest sometimes I think we drive away as many people as we bring in with every new album,” said Osbourne. “We’re not a band that sells millions of records, I would find it hard pressed to find someone who’s three favorite bands were Nirvana, Green Day and the Melvins, you know?”
Osborne admitted he knows the Melvins aren’t the type of band you would hear played at the prom.
“I can’t imagine any of our songs have ever been played at a prom or anything, but I bet they have proms themed around Green Day or bands like that. I don’t know though because I didn’t go to my prom, I hated teenagers then and I still do now,” said Osbourne.
Osborne’s hatred of some critics also strikes hard within him, as one writer recently bashed his guitar skills by saying, “he needs to listen to Jimmy Page.”
“I thought that was really funny, I mean really, does he think I have never listened to Led Zeppelin?” laughed Osbourne.
On This Machine Kills Artists, the singer shows his knack to make any guitar, acoustic or electric, sound heavy and sludgy. And Buzz’s distinct booming voice sounds heavier than ever overtop of the acoustics. This is something Osborne was aiming for and he nailed it, especially on songs such as “Drunken Baby” and “Instrument of God.”
Folk rock has never sounded so good.
“It certainly works well and I’m happy with how it turned out,” Osbourne said. “Some people have told me how it sounds like the Melvins, well I’m in the Melvins so what the fuck did you expect? (Laughs) But there will always be people bashing my music and bashing music in general, no one is ever 100 percent happy.”
Though undoubtedly countless musicians have influenced King Buzzo, he said that he really can’t pinpoint just a few. He certainly found some inspiration from Woody Guthrie, whom he gave a nod to with the album title, as well as everyday life.
Some things stranger than others.
“I can’t really say I have any particular influence, really anything can influence a person, from a barking dog to a bowl of cereal, I just try to do something different every time I make a record,” said the 50-year-old.
One glaring difference on his upcoming tour will be the fact that Buzz will be up on stage alone, without his drummer and close friend, Dale Crover, or anyone else for that matter.
But when Osborne got into the music business a little over 30 years ago, he knew that sometimes he would have to go on stage prepared to make a complete idiot out of himself.
“If you’re scared to go on stage and look like a complete moron, then you shouldn’t be in this business. I’m up for the challenge and I always look like an idiot on stage anyway,” Osbourne said.
Buzzo will have plenty of opportunities to embarrass himself as he will be playing nearly 70 shows across the US, Europe and Australia.
Touring almost stopped completely for Buzz and side kick Dale 28 years ago after a tour in 1986 took them through the south.
States like Texas and Florida weren’t very accepting of the band, as insults such as “Faggots!” were hurled at the band.
After being roughed up by some skin heads, Buzz and Dale decided not to do a full tour of the states again for a while, it wasn’t until around 1989 that they hit the road on a full out tour again.
While on tour, Buzz unwinds by watching and listening to baseball games. Anyone who follows Buzz knows of his love for the Los Angeles Dodgers and baseball in general. Early on in our conversation Osborne went on about how much he loves the game.
“Baseball is really the only sport I can watch, I mostly enjoy watching it in person. As much as I love the Dodgers I have to say I just enjoy watching the sport no matter who is playing, especially National League ball,” he said.
He even shared a Cleveland Indians story as well.
“Back in the 90’s when Cleveland was a powerhouse we were in town and wanted to see them play, but they were always sold out. So we had the opportunity to buy really shitty tickets for like $60 a piece and at the last minute we decided not to pay that much. But I would love to go to the stadium sometime and see them play,” Osborne said.
Despite the extensive touring behind his new disk, Melvins fans need not worry that their front man is going to focus solely on solo material.
The band will be releasing an album sometime in October (Their fourth in under two years) and are planning a tour and some other surprises.
Stay tuned, as the Raw Alternative will be sure to talk to King Buzzo this fall.
Many of the down-tuned, guttural vocal bands that dominated the scene of the late 90’s, owe their entire career, and then some, to Godflesh. The pioneering industrial metal act, led by mastermind guitarist and vocalist, Justin Broadrick, burst onto the scene in around 1990, just as the industrial sound as it came to be was reaching it’s creative peak. Whereas acts like Ministry and KMFDM where fusing sampled drum loops with thrash metal guitar riffs, Godflesh choose a similar path, only using slowed down, low-tuned doom and sludge metal style riffs.
Their innovative style, an entire song or a good portion of a song revolving around a repeating heavy riffs and mechanical grove, proved to be a huge influence on nu metal acts like KoRn and Coal Chamber several years later. With successful albums such as Streetcleaner, Pure, and Songs of Love and Hate, Godflesh also helped push future industrial acts like Fear Factory and Static-X in a more metal-dominated direction.
After retiring Godflesh for nearly a decade and striking out with the more indie/shoegaze project Jesu, Broadrick resurrected the band four years ago and now returns with a new EP.
Decline and Fall is the Godflesh fans have been yearning for. It represents a refreshed, mature and even more angry unit, with the energy and passion of a new act on their debut release. The EP kicks off with the single “Ringer,” a slamming industrial-sludge grinder that boldly sets the tone. From there, the ferocious “Dogbite” and the droningly melodic “Playing with Fire” return Godflesh to their heyday, but with an even darker and heavier take. Finally, the closing track, “Decline and Fall,” shows Broadrick and bassist G.C. Green hitting a creative high.
The best thing about Decline and Fall is that it sounds like an industrial metal from the genre’s heyday without feeling dated. Perhaps Godflesh was always a few steps ahead of their time, and only to be imitated, and in some cases ripped off, by acts who would achieve far more mainstream success. Still, if anything, Decline and Fall boldly proves that Godflesh are, and always have been innovators and originators.
The only flaw is that the EP ends abruptly. It rises, nearly climaxes, but drops. However, despite the tease of an EP, a full-length is scheduled for the Fall of this year. In the meantime, fans from back in the day, as well as fans of industrial and the growing sludge and doom scenes will appreciate Decline and Fall, as it is truly a return to their gloomy glory!
It’s been 12 long years since the world got their last taste of Florida-based Sludge act, Floor. The band stunned the underground metal and alternative community with their 2002 self-titled debut, only to disband two years later. Although the album and band were a little-known gem of that scene at the time, the years have been kind to Floor as word-of-mouth has garnered a strong cult following. This year, they return with their follow-up, Oblation.
Oblation picks up right were the band left off in 2004, offering an array of slamming down-tuned riffs and juxtaposed with soaring harmonious vocals. Unlike many others in the underground realm, Floor manage to maintain a balance of slamming guttural sludge metal with an almost knack for pop hooks strewn throughout.
Kicking off with the menacing title track, Oblation is ripping from the start. Tracks like “Rocinate,” “The Key” and “Love Comes Crushing” find a unique balance of dark brooding tones while remaining upbeat. Other cuts like “The Quill,” “War Party” and “Sign of Aeth” are almost more characteristic of Sludge metal, sounding somewhat along the lines of Jucifer.
Despite the overwhelming heaviness of Oblation, there is much more than meets the eye, or perhaps ear, to Floor’s music. There is an aesthetic more in tune with punk and alternative, as Floor often put their metal credibility on the line on Oblation, channeling something deeper. The heaviness is more about a feel, a mood, rather than a style. In some cases, the album may appeal more to fans of punk (and unfortunately hipsters) than fans of modern metal.
Oblation sounds as a natural progression for a band who may have left before the party got started. With a resurgence of Sludge/Doom/Stoner metal swarming through the underground, the timing couldn’t be more perfect for Floor to make a hopefully permanent comeback.
David Gilmour performing with Pink Floyd during their Space Rock era circa 1971.
By Jennifer Elizabeth Rose (Social/Cultural Writer and Music/Arts Historian)
Experimental rock evolved into Psychedelic rock with artists like Syd Barrett in the 1960’s. After his departure from Pink Floyd, new lead guitarist, David Gilmore, helped solidify another subgenre offshoot and the 70’s brought progressive and psychedelic rock outfits such as Pink Floyd and Hawkwind to the foreground as they evolved into Space Rock. Space Rock which was characterized by increased instrumental passages (especially on keyboard/synthesizers) inspired by the science fiction themes and soundtrack music of the day and/or astronomy.
Delia Derbyshire, famous for her composition of the Doctor Who theme song was also a premier influential composer of other music within experimental genres in addition to being a great captivator and sonic painter of the beyond for incidental music in TV and film. Brian Eno, known as both a composer and a rock songwriter, was a major player as well. As for pop/rock songwriters they began to follow suit and added elements, but it is perhaps the lyrical themes that became the most influential, which became evident in other subgenres of rock such as folk rock (Donovan, Cat Stevens) and glam rock (T. Rex and David Bowie, whom worked with Eno.) In fact, the enchantment of space travel and the science fiction that British kids were being raised on became paramount in David Bowie’s most successful records, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from MarsandSpace Oddity. And as Pink Floyd declared themselves Space rock in the70’s, Derbyshire’s Doctor Who theme could be often heard in some variation on the synth parts in performances of “One of These Days,” from 1971’s Meddle.
More and more pop and mainstream radio rock was also being affected. Even before Gilmour made the decidedly Space rock turn with Pink Floyd after Barrett’s Psychedelic/early Space rock departure, the Beatles, the Stones, and the Steve Miller Band wrote songs with similar themes. Indeed, it became a cultural phenomenon more than a musical one. Perhaps the race for space during this period in history influenced this tendency.
Just like with any political movement in history, cultural and artistic history is often the victim of bandwagon mentalities and the genre suffered a marked decline in popularity until the 90’s with the exception of being cleverly evolved and disguised within Progressive rock (Rush, Yes) and Art rock.
Nowadays, although it is a more reputable descriptive term for many acts, the term only seems to be used by bands that decidedly use it. Other common descriptions indeed make it obvious that there is a blur in the experimental subgenres. The Flowers of Hell, Comets on Fire,and Flotation Toy Warningall of which who employ the old elements of 60’s/70’s Space rock in their own original ways. Seattle band, Lazer Kitty has a wonderful sound and a performance video of theirs can be seen below as well as a few other tracks that chronicle pivotal points in space rock.
Pink Floyd – One of These Days
Pink Floyd – Careful with that Ax, Eugene
Gong – Flying Teapot
Gong – I Never Glid Before
Spiritualized – Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space
The Verve – Slide Away
Porcupine Tree – Fear of a Blank Planet
Lazer Kitty – Hyperion
In addition to this list other Picks of the Week that were played on air for this subgenre can be found on the Raw Alternative’s Facebook Page.