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Amplified Man (Manchester)

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The Illusion of Motion
The Illusion of Motion
Price: £5.57

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heavy music at it's finest., 23 Feb. 2007
This review is from: The Illusion of Motion (Audio CD)
Yob exist within a very small underground niche known as 'doom metal', but I'm sure you already know that, that's why you're here!

The Illusion of Motion is Yob's third album and, like the others, is up there with the very finest doom albums ever created.

Yob have a very unique take on the genre without sounding radically different; you can generally distinguish a Yob track from the rest and that's basically down to Mike Scheidt. Mike is the lead guitarist, vocalist and basically writes the music. His guitar is fuelled by custom valve amps and consequently his tone is rich, heavy and warm which is why Yob sound so good. His vocals are extremely versatile too, which is rare for a singer in a genre as extreme as this. He can go from an almost Geddy Lee style wail (yet more etherial and effected) to a death metal roar in the blink of an eye.

Yob's sound is very heavy, thick and has flashes of psychedelics; when Scheidt's guitar is clean he always uses phase and the wah pedal is cracked out when he solos. The songs are long (the title track is 24mins!) but they never tire or drag. Each note, each drum beat is there for a purpose.

The first two are your classic Yob tracks; just over 10mins in length, riffy and strangely catchy and memorable.

Doom No.2 is a faster and more aggressive track and the last is an absolute monster.

Theres not much point describing the songs, you'll have listen for yourself. It's not an easy listen, but that goes without saying when you're straying this far from the mainstream.

Doom fans will absolutely love Yob and if you're already familiar then 'Illusion..' is just as good as anything they've done.

This should also appeal to those into heavy music who're looking for something a little different.

There were no other bands like Yob. (R.I.P. 2006)

From Beale Street to Oblivion
From Beale Street to Oblivion
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £12.95

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From Transnational Speedway to Beale Street, 18 Feb. 2007
Clutch's latest album is another step in the band's evolution. Transnational Speedway and the early E.Ps like Impetus were brash, heavy and fairly aggressive. They became groovier and more laid back with the self titled and experimented on Elephant Riders. Pure Rock Fury did exactly what it said on the tin and Blast Tyrant was simpler and catchier than anything before it. 2005's Robot Hive was a culmination of everything that they'd learnt and indeed created and was a masterpiece in it's own right.

From Beale Street to Oblivion takes on a much groovier and vastly more bluesy perspective.

The first two tracks are fairly deceiving being two of the simplest most directly rocking tracks they've ever written. Power Player will be a live favourite no doubt. The tracks that follow are a tad subtler, are more complex structurally and swing more than anything on previous albums.

White's Ferry starts off mellow lead by Mick Shauer's hammond organ and blasts into a typical Clutch frenzy. Electric Worry is another sure-fire classic, it'll just make you smile; great tune!

The Rapture of Riddley Walker, Oppossum Minister and Mr.Shiny Cadillackness (best song title ever!?) are also up there with the best on previous albums.

Beale Street doesn't quite hit five stars because it doesn't seem to be as consistent as the other albums. On Robot Hive I really couldn't pick a favourite track whereas here it was pretty easy. Maybe some tracks just drift by but the best are way up there.

Theres a slightly re-worked version of One Eye Dollar from Jam Room on here which I didn't really understand other than It's a great tune.

From Beale Street to Oblivion is definitely a great album filled with bluesy, catchy rock tunes and anyone into Clutch will love it. It just doesn't quite reach those giddy heights reached by previous albums.

It'll still be in my top 5 of the year though!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 31, 2011 3:47 PM BST

Galactic Pot-Healer (GOLLANCZ S.F.)
Galactic Pot-Healer (GOLLANCZ S.F.)
by Philip K. Dick
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Hidden Gem., 4 Jan. 2007
Philip K Dick craved status as one of literature's great novelists, he wrote numerous 'mainstream' novels which, in his early years, publishers wouldn't even touch. It was when he was writing SF that his extaordinary mind was set free.

He was fascinated by psychology and theology and has many strange beliefs and theories, and coupled with many inexplicable visions that plagued him throughout his life, his work was unlike anything else at the time.

Ostensibly, Dick's works are obviously SF, dealing with androids, aliens, robots, natural disasters, moons, planets etc. but they go so much deeper. The SF element takes a back seat to the story and serves merely as a backdrop for Dick's imagination to run free and a tool for him to manipulate his characters and beliefs (and some cases for his characters to manipulate himself!).

The Galactic Pot Healer is no different. (I got there eventually!)

On the surface it's the story of Joe Fernwright in a drab dystopian Earth scraping an existence from the fast-declining business brought in by his talent for fixing ceramics. He receives stange messages from a creature calling itelf 'Glimmung' summoning him to help raise the underwater ruins of a cathedral on an alien world. However, if you read between the lines and look a little deeper.....well, that would be telling wouldn't it!

It's slow, yet oddly captivating story and one of my favourites of Dick's works. It's not a very good place to start if you're new to him; you'd best go for 'Ubik' or 'Do Androids Dream....'. If you're familiar with his works then go for it; this as a fantastic story, it's short but sweet too at 180 ish pages. I loved it, it's up there with his big five in my opinion; 'Main in the High Castle', 'Ubik', 'A Scanner Darkly', 'Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch' & 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?'.

The last three words are absolutely punishing.

Halo: First Strike
Halo: First Strike
by Eric Nylund
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Casual readers only....., 20 Dec. 2006
This review is from: Halo: First Strike (Paperback)
Halo was always considered to have a very strong storyline for a game, which is true, however, it's not deep or detailed enough for adequate translation into a novel or a film and the author doesn't really attempt to do this. If you made the Halo story more in depth you'd have to alter it far too much and I'm sure Bungie and us fans wouldn't be too chuffed. So it's a bit of a Catch 22 writing a Halo novel. I think the cash-in went too far when the idea for novels came up. The graphic novel was a much better idea.

It is great however, for Halo fans to have a better, more realised perspective and insight of the Master Chief and some sections are quite exciting and memorable, but it's generally pretty weak to be honest. If you're an avid reader like myself then there's nothing really here for you apart from some extra Halo knowledge and to hold you over till the next game.

Any casual reader would enjoy this throroughly though; it's fast paced, it's easy to read and it does keep you turning the page, especially if you're into military based sci-fi like Starship Troopers and Star Wars and love the action & jargon.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 30, 2011 11:00 AM GMT

What's Mine Is Yours
What's Mine Is Yours
Offered by rarerarerare
Price: £6.87

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What's Mine Is Yours, 21 Nov. 2006
This review is from: What's Mine Is Yours (Audio CD)
Whenever I've tried to describe Bee & Flower to people I always kop out and say they're like Portishead but with a classical rather than hip hop leaning which is selling them way short. You see, there's an air of sohistication and gritty honesty about them somehow, rather than the hazy mystique of Portishead. You could imagine B&F playing in smoky bars in a dim ambiance, I can't imagine Portishead playing in a bar.

The music on What's Mine Is Yours is slow, moody and melodic. The lead is Dana Schechter who sings, plays bass and arranges the strings & basicaslly writes everything. Her smooth, smoky vocal slides effortlessly alongside the jazzy, loungey compositions.

Twin Stars is piano led and incredibly laid back yet melancholic, that goes for the whole album actually. Wounded Walking is more upbeat and is bass led and spiky strings and dischordant guitar weave in and out of the track. This was my favourite track for a long while because it, and the opener; I Know Your Name, hit you straight away and are very memorable and catchy. The rest of the album creeps up on you with repeated listens and now I have to say the magnificent slow burn of Riding On Empty and clasutrophobic jaggedness of Dupe, lapsing in to a smooth chorus, appeal to me the most. The remaining tracks aren't any less brilliant just not as memorable as the 5 (half the album) I have mentioned.

The musicianship and songcraft on What's Mine Is Yours is top class, the attention to detail and restraint is brilliant; for example, the guitarist will only strike two notes in a melody and even sit out the chorus but come in later as another layer. The musicianship is sparse like Elysian Fields rather than flowing and looped like Portishead.

It's a really good album with a few gems scattered about, it feels cohesive and the sombre mood is very consistent. It's a deep album perfect for zoning out to and getting lost in.

Highly recommended.

Capture And Release
Capture And Release
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £36.95

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Captured, but not released...., 21 Nov. 2006
This review is from: Capture And Release (Audio CD)
Khanate are a one-of-a-kind musical `entity', thats the only thing to describe them as. You can't really call them a band; can you imagine them jamming, honestly!!?? They're more a force of nature, a monument, a form of weather, to call them music is even pushing it a bit. You see, Khanate play the most evil, slow, oppressive, sick, obtuse form of doom imaginable. And even if you can imagine it, it won't be even close to what they sound like.

If you already know and love Khanate then theres no way you aren't going to buy this anyway so why are you even still reading, but if you are, then it is definitely going to please you! Here goes;

Imagine Things Viral but with less structure, less `phases' to each track and less variation, no riffs to speak of and you have Capture & Release. It has no hooks that were at least slightly audible on the first record even if they were a bit esoteric; Skin Coat is probably the best example; it has a clear structure and a small sliver of `catchiness', to these ears anyway. Capture & Release is just pure focused, evil hatred, crawling and slithering towards it's doomed goal.

Alan Dubin's lyrics are on good form too; "Feel me eat!"; urgh, nasty. They're pretty cryptic and implied in contrast to the brutal, straightforward lyrics on the self titled; "You'll give me your skin. SKIN!".

James Plotkin's production is fantastic, absolutely clear as crystal. In fact his production on the Khanate cds makes them some of the best sounding records I've heard. The bass and guitars are easily distinguishable and don't form some sludgy mess, the drums are clear and Dubin's vocals are frightening. The mixing and post production are awesome too; Dubin's vocals range between raw and unprocessed, to delayed, distorted and cut up and put in the background. Clever stuff, which all aids the equal parts ferocity and brooding ambience present on this record.

The second track; `Release', is almost the entire opposite of the moniker. It begins quietly; urging you to turn it up, to listen harder. Quiet scratchy effects panning to each speaker, and a deep pulsing slow prescence. Then BAM!! The whole band kicks in quite frighteningly, it's made me jump on a number of occasions! The song here on out is much the same as Capture, slow crawling evilness, but at 13mins to 20min in theres a really eerie quiet bit with clean guitars and lots of whispering; "It's cold when I touch you...". I love the quiet, brooding parts, they add an extra vibe or emotion to the tracks, make them even more creepy!
So, still thinking of buying it?

If you loathe extreme doom you will hate Khanate. On the other hand, if you love extreme doom then Khanate are your new favourite band! The reason for only 4 stars is that it's just not quite as good as their two full lengths. Go for either of the first.

The Light Carriers
The Light Carriers
Offered by westworld-
Price: £11.80

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Light Carriers, 21 Nov. 2006
This review is from: The Light Carriers (Audio CD)
Hyatari caused quite a rumble in the Doom/stoner rock underground with this album (pun intended). An accurrate description of their sound is a blend of Godflesh's cold, drum machine driven atmospherics and Sunn O)))'s dark drone riffing. Yes, it's a doom album so it's long, meandering and oh so heavy.

The Light Carriers has been produced as one flowing piece of music as each track blends into the next creating quite an epic journey; there aren't songs as such as there are phases in the evolution of the sound.

The first track fades in squalling feedback and layer upon layer of guitar drone, seguing into the second adding extra melody and eerie samples to the formula. The third tentatively develops riffs and a drum machine marches along, seguing into the fourth track solidifying the riffs into crushing slabs of guitar. The album develops from here more riffs, use of atmospheric samples and feedback and a more structured sound.

The key to enjoying this album is in repeated listens allowing the nuances and subtleties to emerge. It is an interesting album and definitely one to check out if you're into your (immensely heavy!) music, especially those into Khanate, Sunn O))), Burning Witch, Godflesh etc.

Asleep Or Awake Walk
Asleep Or Awake Walk
Offered by Hausmusik
Price: £15.03

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice. Reeeal nice., 31 Oct. 2006
This review is from: Asleep Or Awake Walk (Audio CD)
I'd first heard of Gregor Samsa on a split EP with Red Sparrowes this year (`06), that I couldn't find on my record hunt but I found this. Split EPs are usually of the same genre and I was reckoning that Gregor Samsa would be similar to Red Sparrowes. They're not really, they have the same progressive ideas and fairly relaxing, zoning out music style but that's all. Gregor Samsa are a lot more floaty and drifting. Whereas Sparrowes are driving and bass heavy, Samsa are almost spiritual and distant, using soft layered vocals (Sparrowes are instrumental).

Gregor Samsa, isn't actually one person in this case, they are a whole band. The case in which Gregor Samsa is one person is when he appears as the protagoinst in Franz Kafka's classic allegorical short story 'The Metamorphosis'. `The Metamorphosis' is an extremely dark story; sombre, extremely thought provoking and ultimately very sad. The music within 55:12 is often that. It's swaying keyboards and loops providing backing for layered, hushed vocals from the two singers: male and female. The female singer (there's no info on the CD package so I don't know much about these guys!), has a very sweet, almost childlike voice which gives a vunerability to the record. The second track; Even Numbers, is almost definitely a Godspeed! You Black Emperor inspired piece; sawing strings, chiming guitars, marching, intense rtythms. But it fades out and gives way to more gentleness and soft singing.

There are some memorable moments on here, however much the tracks seem to blend into one another. These Points Balance has the gentle refrain; "How long `till I fall in love" which sticks in your head after the song is over. Lessening is possibly my favourite track because it's the most cohesive and songlike. Instead of drifting into formlessness, the drums stay alongside and the vocals carry it along.

It's a nice record; a gentle, easy listen. The arrangements and melodies are good and so is the production. It just falls short on being great because it's so samey; it blends into itself after a while and you can't really differentiate between tracks.

However, it's definitely a keeper and must buy if you want something to drift away to.

In The Fishtank
In The Fishtank
Price: £8.92

4 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Err..., 31 Oct. 2006
This review is from: In The Fishtank (Audio CD)
Now, I have to confess, I haven't heard Aereogramme before this and I haven't heard any other volumes in the In The Fishtank series, so I'm basing this on only knowledge of Isis and what I like. So there.

So I may as well just get to what it sounds like without boring you with details.

I suppose you could class this easily in the progressive/post rock category alongside Red Sparrowes, Explosions in the Sky, Subarachnoid Space. It's very rthythm orientated and the guitars and melodies seem to take a back seat as they're so minimal and simple.

Low Tide is a simple, driving, yet floaty track reminicent of Isis earlier, softer stuff like C.F.T. I'm not really sure what elements Aereogramme add to the equation apart from a subtle falsetto male vocal because the music sounds decidedly Isis. It's a pretty satisfying but does drag on far too long without much variation.

Delial is also Isis like, maybe Aereogramme are very similar to Isis anyhow and the pairing for this project was a logical one. Delial is decidely more energetic than Low Tide and a snip at just under four minutes. It's more aggressive, theres distorted bass and feedback but somehow it's not really heavy, Christ knows how they did that. It's got a nice typical Isis riff in it though.

Stolen, the third and final track is the longest at ten and a half minutes. It's a long spacey, dreamlike suite whilst being fairly pleasant and emotive is pretty damn boring to be honest.

It's a short CD at only 24 minutes and we're all thankful because it's pretty much 24 minutes of time I could have been doing something else.

I suppose that's pretty harsh but I was expecting something more, err... interesting. I've only heard good things about Aereogramme and I know for a fact Isis are a cracking band. But then again, after hearing the new album (In the Absence of Truth), I was kind of expecting a more ambient post rock type venture.

Overall, a big fat shrug. Completists only.

A Senile Animal
A Senile Animal
Price: £9.87

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A return to the good 'ol days., 31 Oct. 2006
This review is from: A Senile Animal (Audio CD)
The Melvins go through bassists like cows go through grass. They've had quite a few in their life span, the longest running Kevin Rutmanis recently fired after a 7 year stint. Also, the Melvins have always always always been a three piece: Buzzo on guitar and vox, Dale on drums and Mr/Mrs revolving bassist. So, it's 2006 and what did they decide to do?

They decided to assimilate an entire band into their ranks! Granted that entire band is Big Business and consists of two members, but it's a big thing! Coady on second drum kit (second drum kit!!!) and Jahred on bass and vox. Big Business cooked up quite a storm in 2005 with their `Head for the Shallow' album and on the live circuit; their bass/drums/vox combo was quite potent. I shall say that they fit fantastically with the Melvins. Jahred's bass tone is the best they've had; it's big and crunchy and prominent and his vocal delivery adds a really great diverse element to Buzzo's growls and croons.

While two drum kits may seem a little over the top, it doesn't really add anything extra and the two guys are so tight you can't tell at all most of the time apart from some frantic tribal sections, the two drummers thing has really been hyped up.

Onto the music; I think everyone will be pleased with this one, bar none. They're back to their old best: rocking hard as hell with no experimental wankery and annoying ambience. This type of stuff is what we listen to the Melvins for. It sounds like they're having fun; it's not as cold as The Maggot or as experimental as Houdini/Stoner Witch/Stag. In fact, it may even be their most straight forward album since Ozma.

The one/two punch of The Talking Horse and Blood Witch feel like Skweetis and Queen from Stoner Witch; getting straight to the point.

Civilised Worm is a pretty melodic rocker and is one of the best tracks here, especially when Jahred and Dale's harmonised vocals come in half way throughalong with Buzz'. There's some ace riffs in here too; The Hawk is a querky muted job and could be nobody else.

The album gets a bit slower, and more epic towards the end with longer and heavier tracks. Only problem is the riff in A History of Bad Men sounds amost exactly like Night Goat. Awesome tune though, another corker.

I think they've taken away a lot from the sessions with Jello Biafra; theres loads of energy here and for sure Jahred and Coady contribute a hell of a lot to that.

Every Melvins fan will be happy as Larry with A Senile Animal and that is all I really need to say. But just so everyone doesn't get too excited; it ain't no Houdini, or Stoner Witch........

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