Friday, December 7, 2012

Horn's Musical Highlights of Late - featuring Christian Scott, Chet Baker, Ramesses, The Sword, mind over four, Law & Order, Dragged into Sunlight, Saint Vitus, nachtmystium, Menace Ruine, Incantation, Havok, Down, Witchsorrow, Bedemon, Bison BC, Neurosis, and Nails (phew!!)

Sometimes, a music critic such as myself, has... very little to say.

I can't think of any ingenious way to change the way you, the reader, hear something. Sometimes, I'm just outta ammo. Sometimes,  the only thing I can say is: "I like this. You should check it out."
So that's what I'm doing. Below are my most recent jazz and metal favorites. I really enjoy them; maybe you will too. I've given you a few sentences to impart, if you will, a flavor of my experience of their work.


Christian Scott, Christian aTunde Adjuah
: Miraculously, a spin on Miles Davis' hollow, beseeching sound without kowtowing to him. A somehow New Orleans-warm yet icy-terrified trumpet bleat over doomy lyric song titles. Highlights: "New New Orleans (King Adjuah Stomp)," "Who They Wish I Was," and "Kiel." To me the best new jazz album of 2012.

Chet Baker Quartet, Jazz in Paris, Vol. 53: Chet Baker Quartet Plays Standards: Baker gets some shit from critics, like the New York Times' Ben Ratliff, for not giving a shit about evolving as an artist-- and truth be told, he never really did. But he's the only soloist, to this day, who loses energy and slowly dies as he solos, rather than building up to a crescendo. Easily my favorite trumpet player of all time, over Miles Davis and Christian Scott. Makes me wanna take up trumpet, to this day. Buddy Bolden reincarnated as a white junkie matinee idol.


Ramesses, Possessed by the Rise of Magik: From former members of Electric Wizard who found Dopethrone too pussy-- disgusting, gritty blackened doom riffs if they were played in a garage and/or torture chamber. Production value zero, and somehow perfect.

The Sword, Apocryphon: The detuned perfect heaviness of their debut Age of Winters, but with a tiny splash of that Texas blues that was probably too obvious on their previous LP, Warp Riders. They can do better, but still pretty great. Top 10 of the year.

mind over four, The Goddess and Halfway Down: Two-decade-old alterna-progressive-metal that is still disgustingly/ criminally underrated. Either album should be in your top 50 of all time.

Law & Order, Guilty of Innocence: Cock-rock with a southern flair (from LA) from the late 80s that still is awesome and not embarrassing in any way. One of the only bands to make me wish I was playing in a rock, not metal, band. Not a bad song on this one. Classic-- top 50 of all time.

Dragged Into Sunlight, Widowmaker: Amazingly, these utterly-decrepit, sludgy, stonery black metal anonymous weirdos evolved on this record, and thisnoticeably so, from their previous release, Hatred For Mankind. Neurosis if they were Satanic black metallers.

Saint Vitus, Lillie: F-65: "Meh" at first, eventually moving up to "hrilled and loving it." The new version of the American blues, lapsteel-playing, deal-with-devil-making howls of despair. Top 10 of the year.

Nachtmystium, Silencing Machine: Perfect stoned black metal. The Cure or The Church if they loved and emulated Darkthrone.

Menace Ruine, Alight in Ashes: Black metal so weird it practically becomes spectral classical music. I dare you to listen to this on acid.

Incantation, Vanquish in Vengeance: Like Asphyx, generic but truly great (American) Brutal Death Metal. You know if this is for you or not.

Havok, Point of No Return: "Re-thrash" as powerful and energetic (though generic) as it gets. There's two covers on this EP, "Raining Blood," and Sepultura's "Arise." They should not have included them. Havok's originals are great, but not that great, and they're just asking for unfavorable comparisons.

Down, Down IV, Pt. I-- The Purple EP: Down is never as good as they should be, as you think they'll be. Previous tunes "Bury Me in Smoke," "There's Something on My Side," and "On March the Saints," are truly great stoner metal tunes, as are Purple's "The Curse," and "This Work is Timeless." But from these guys? There should be more immortality.

Witchsorrow, God Curse Us: Title track, with the refrain of "God curse us, every one..." a cheeky Dickensian nod, or seriously-depressed Shawn-Spencerian perveyoring of dispairitude? Ha! Anyway: doom-worshipping, Hellhammer-loving greatness. Sounds like modern mixing/mastering, but also sounds like a NWOBHM album, where the band was rushing, in 1982, in the studio to record their ideas, when they were sucked into a time vortex and got their asses wormholed into a 2012 studio....

Bedemon, Symphony of Shadows: The other half of Pentagram-- Interestingly, sounds like Witchsorrow, but was actually recorded nearly two decades ago. Astoundingly prophetic. Could've been recorded yesterday.

Bison BC, Lovelessness: Vaguely NWOBHM-ish sludge that loves to eventually gallop and whorl, to take off from its slower stoner metal tropes... not better than Dark Ages, but just as good.

Neurosis, Honor Found in Decay: "We All Rage in Gold," opens with third/fourth dyads, played as clean/ crystalline as humanly, as Scott Kelly-ishly as possible; at around 1:00 we gets the GEE-tars... sounding a bit Sisters of Mercy-ish, if we're being truthful... at @ 1:35 there's a human throat sounding off over the crystal... 3:28, and there's a lonely bass and a Hammond-ish synth effect.... "At the Well" begins with the dying emanations of a suicidal homeless man, or something to that effect... at 4:20 a bitter and romantically-mournful sitar riff (are they called riffs?) that seems perfectly appropriate and perfect... at around 7:00 we get a combination of meditation music/ Zen sounds and heavy fucking metal, as the entire album continues this now very familiar Neurosis blueprint....

Nails, Obscene Humanity: A 3-song ep to tide you over until their new one. Pretty much just like their previous LP, Unsilent Death, for better or worse. Ripping hardcore punks worshiping Entombed....

So there you go. Hopefully something here gets under your skin and into your guts. Figuratively.


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