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A. Blair "foetusonthebeat" (Glasgow)

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The Ocean And The Sun
The Ocean And The Sun
Price: £8.06

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ...and normality is restored, 7 Sept. 2008
This review is from: The Ocean And The Sun (Audio CD)
Following the tremendous Tiger + The Duke EP, The Sound of Animals Fighting (henceforth TSOAF) u-turned and released their debut full-length to critical collapse; the album sat uncomfortably on most palates and, despite playing their only four live shows to date on the back of this release, it left many disappointed and vexed after such a promising first foot.

Good thing then that their 2nd album proper gets the train back on tracks. The Ocean & The Sun sounds like Lover, The Lord Has Left Us should; the dark, brooding atmospherics found throughout are unsettling in an enjoyable way, the climatic finales of tracks such as I, The Swan and Another Leather Lung substantiating this. The sound is trademark TSOAF, albeit one from a more abstract perspective. Whilst Tiger & The Duke was a hard-hitting kick to the teeth, The Ocean & The Sun often requires patience for recognition of these moments. Yes, there are riffs that will blow your head and fans of Tiger... will be more than happy with 'The Heraldic Beak of the Manufacturer's Medallion', which could have juxtaposed any track on the aforementioned release without sounding like an obvious interloper, however, there are moments here requiring your undivided attention: the restless gentility of the interludes (i'll get to these in a moment) splitting up the album nicely.

Additionally, where 'Lover...' encompassed every genre you could possibly name amidst its peculiar aural gift, 'The Ocean...' tends to experiment within the one genre. Pulling the band back to its original 4-piece state has perhaps enhanced this, and for the better! Cellophane's frantic drumming and guitar solos following Mars Volta-esque noodling is terrifcally effective. Furthermore, the use of now 3 vocalists (RX Bandits' Matt Embree, in addition to executing all bass and guitar parts - oftentimes retaining a typical modern-day RX Bandits sound - has taken it upon himself to contribute some vocals) weaves the music further into its unsettling, delirious-sounding state.

With regards to the interludes, here's some info. on the tracklisting for you: the sleeve only notes there being 9 tracks, HOWEVER, there is an intro which is unlisted, and therefore the first track of the album is this and not the title track. The title track is, in fact, number 2. Other unlisted interludes mess up the track listing too, so watch yourself when loading it on to the media player you use if transferring this to an mp3 player.

So, here you have it: the album you wanted but 'Lover...' didn't provide. Stripped back to the basic instruments, TSOAF have pushed boundaries further than those heard on 'Tiger...' in terms of providing a dark, experimental and abstract album, but have not had to tread into the realms of ridiculousness to do so. A thoroughly rewarding and refreshing album.

For fans of:
RX Bandits - And The Battle Begun
Martin Grech - Unholy
The Mars Volta - Deloused In The Comatorium

All Hope Is Gone
All Hope Is Gone
Price: £5.81

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Abandon hope, not, 25 Aug. 2008
This review is from: All Hope Is Gone (Audio CD)
Before anything further is said, may i point out that a 3* review is NOT bad. I don't know where the mentality comes from on here that it indicates poor quality - the ubiquity of haphazard 5* reviews are the ones worth ridiculing.

Anyhow, to the album: 4 years on from Vol. 3 we were promised "the most brutal material yet". Do we get it? Well....ish. What i admire about Slipknot is their capability to develop and mature in sync with their audience; i was 14, for example, when i first heard 'Slipknot' and am now 23 and very much in need of something a little more finely tuned, musically, so thus far they have played to fans like me well.

Opening with the now formulaic instrumental opener we are led into 'Gematria', a vicious slice of double-kick heavy, thrash riff-laden metal, providing a glimmer of hope for that aforementioned promise of theirs. 'Sulpher', however, is the first noteable track, covering solos, insane central riffs, clearly aural (oftentimes it's a struggle to hear it) turntables and amidst all of this space for a sung - as opposed to gutterally screamed - chorus, remeniscent of 'Vol. 3'.

It is unfortunate, then, that this leads on to lead single 'Psychosocial'. Chances are you've heard this and will have a formed opinion yourself, but - with no intent to condescend younger fans - this sounds like the type of cringe-inducing material i'd expect to have been listening to 8 years ago on a free Kerrang! CD. The core riff is dull and repetitious, the chorus is painstakingly generic and the lyrics - whilst never have they been a focal point for admiration in Slipknot - are monumentally poor. Redemption is found around the 3 minute mark with the bridge-breakdown, but on the whole this is glaringly obvious as a radio-friendly begging invitation for album sales.

Now, as is stated above, i'm not attempting to patronise: i liked the radio singles from Vol. 3, but we are now lead into 'Dead Memories' (single no. 2, had you not already guessed it, folks)...this goes against the grain of my former hypothesis that Slipknot were trying to write music in sync with the aging of their audience; this is about as vulgar as you can get besides listening to someone drunkenly slur their way through metal karaoke, ad-libbing their own "painful and reflective" lyrics all the while in your local boozer.

But enough of my huffy negativities, there's PLENTY to be enjoyed on this album: Butcher's Hook utilises the juxtaposition of a heavy verse layout and pulsing percussion with a melodic choral chime; Gehenna has the same unsettling eeriness found on the likes of 'Prosthetics', 'Gently' et al with some nice new sampling effects being noted (i can hear what sounds like a Theramin - the same instrument used to make the effects on the likes of Brian Wilson and Portishead's famous tracks).

Additionally, 'This Cold Black' picks up the pace with a bone-crushingly heavy blend of dexterous guitar pickings and head-spinning drums with some nice twin effect guitar work during the chorus as Corey screams agonisingly over the top. 'Wherein Lies Continue' plays as a slower version of 'Sulfer', if not in sound, by structure - the melodies of the chorus allowing Slipknot to explore their gentler side yet retain the pounding sound they've crafted over the past decade.

'Snuff' is along similar lines to 'Vol. 3's 'Circle'; whilst i appreciated the latter (yes, i do appreciate acoustic music, despite my previous ramblings), this plays like a Finger Elevn-esque ballad; the type of thing you can imagine sitting atop the US Billboard chart for 5 consecutive weeks.

The finality of 'All Hope Is Gone' is a self-titled, relentlessly crushing piece of Iowa-esque Slipknot, again with a more audible use of turntables. This was leaked prior to the album's release as a taster track, however isn't wholly indicative of the album, as the ferocity of it is quite clearly yards ahead of anything else on here.

It sounds to me like Slipknot enjoyed and are proud of the experimental side of Vol. 3 - something which they should, indeed, be - and wished to continue with this. Yet at the same time, letting go of their clutching grasp of the superlative modern metal band would be something only a fool might do, and so this has reverted them somewhat to writing tracks remeniscent of the Stone Sour project. Whilst these tracks did exist on the past releases, they weren't so glaringly trasparent - asnd, frankly, embarrassing - as those contained here. This does, of course, depend entirely upon what you look for in a Slipknot album, but personally, having followed each release since 1999, i like to see progression and development rather than an album that has potential to be their greateast release to date but falls short of this by fine polishing and aiming to please everyone.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 8, 2008 2:38 PM GMT

Price: £5.30

57 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Their most coherent work to date, 31 July 2006
This review is from: Amputechture (Audio CD)
A mere 18 months after their 'Frances The Mute' masterpiece, TMV make a triumphant - and rather speedy - return with 'Amputechture'. It is their most coherent work to date in that it blends the (some may argue) "accesibility" of 'De-Loused...' with the more experimental elements of 'Frances...' yet manages to sound not much like either.

Beginning with the 7-minute 'Vicarious Atonement' the album instantly strikes you as different from previosu efforts. It's a slow track, the 1st 3 minutes of which are dominated by some dexterous guitar innovation and - most noteably - the clearly audible and welcome return of the keys which dominated 'Deloused...'. Towards the end of the song, the keys become more jazz-based, enhanced by the introduction of some brass instrument work. Moreover, vocals have been subtly layered making this rather delirious-sounding track even more enjoyable.

Stopping quite abruptly (as each track on this album does, unlike Deloused where they were woven into one another or Frances where there seemd to be 4-minute gaps of sound), you're led into Tetragrammaton - a 17 minute opus and perhaps one of the best tracks every put to tape by TMV. As expected, the fragility of the verses is balanced with the hyperactivity of the "chorus" with a tremendous bass-riff which is then followed by layered guitar work, solos and more layered vocals. The further extent of layering of the same instruments makes this album feel less cluttered than the last two. The 6-minute mark the track slows significantly in a Cicatriz-esque manner and around 8 minutes picks back up again in an explosive fashion with an amazing guitar solo. After 17 minutes it doesn't even feel like 5 have passed; it lacks the large gaps that Cassandra Geminni had and therefore seems more complete and coherent.

Tracks like 'Meccamputechture' explore new territory with Cedric almost "rapping" (for want of a better word) at the start before the guitars and brass-instrumental work kick in with 'space-like' samples kicking in too (the latter being another prominent feature of this album). The hypnotic repetition of "it lacks a human pulse" over the music towards the end of the 11-minute track leaves goosebumps on my skin; truely fantastic!

'Asilos Magdalena' is in the same vain as the "blackmailed she fell off every mountain" section of 'L'Via L'Viaquez', the guitar working alone with the Spanish lyrics providing something completely distinct from the rest of the album yet doesn't ever seem out-of-the-ordinary. This leads onto forthcoming single 'Viscera Eyes' which could probably be considered the most accessible work TMV have done, but the reasonably simple riff works PERFECTLY with the trumpet/saxophone and with Cedric's high-pitched Spanish vocals before turning back to the "come on and give it to me, come on and die. In your viscera eyes!" of the chorus. A truly magnificent song dispalying the signs of fantastic creativity.

'Day of the Baphomets' begins with some slow, Tool-esque work before leading into a bass solo before exploding into a flourishing track of bongos, layered guitars, sporadic jazz explosions/solos. The album is book-ended with slower tracks leaving 'El Ciervo Vulnerado' similar to 'Vicarious...', but that's just the cyclical nature of a TMV album. The calls of "bless it be, bless it be" and distorted vocals and "space-like" sounds over the somewhat Eastern-tinged base-sound of the track leave this as a perfect exit to a flawless album.

Cedric recently told people that Frusciante was only told his guitar parts 5 minutes before entering the studio to record this work and that it is largely innovation. For a band constantly pushing boundaries, TMV have succeeded immensely in their creation of a literally flawless album; a perfectly crafted, dexterous masterpiece; a blue-print for what music should sound like!! Innovative, spontaneous, refreshing and perfect are words that don't even scratch the surface. Trust me, you're going to love every second.

Scab Dates
Scab Dates
Offered by westworld-
Price: £10.47

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Return of the New-Age Prog Gods, 8 Nov. 2005
This review is from: Scab Dates (Audio CD)
A live Mars Volta CD? I was a little apprehensive at first, however, this really manages to capture the essential features of a Mars Volta show. Assembled from archives between May 2004 and May 2005 and with a few studio additions, the 6 track (essentially 3 songs - Take The Veil Cerpin Taxt, Concertine and Cicatriz ESP), 72 minute epic is jaw-dropping.
The surreal soundscapes of each tracks introduction (Abasions Mount the Timani, Haruspex etc) work perfectly in aiding to the climatic effect of each song. Take The Veil is played with sheer precision with subtle additions that weren't there on the studio recording. The innovation and predominance of the keys (something which, for me, defined the sound of 'Deloused...') add to the near perfection of this album.
Concertina is has the greatest similarity to the studio version, albeit some jazz additions working in synch with Omar's guitar, which - given so much innovation on one record - adds a perfect amount familiarity of songs and equilibrium between the original recordings and innovation.
The band shine best on Cicatriz - a 12 minute studio track clocking in live at approximaely 45 minutes. The ear-shattering and dexterous guitar work blends in perfectly and compliments the sounds of the jazz, bass and percussion. It sounds so perfectly crafted and this is where you can see a band who are, let's admit it, are a little pompous but are truly passionate about what they do. The final section of Cicatriz is something which needs patience - as anyone knows, TMV don't offer 'easy listenings'. At 20 minutes, large sections of which leave you feeling a little dissatisfied, it certainly isn't something which can be lisened to in passing.
'Scabdates' was never going to have the spontaneity and surprise of a new studio album, but what it does offer is an accurate and honest representation of what TMV do best - live performances. A truly inspiring and innovative piece of work.

With Teeth
With Teeth
Price: £5.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fine Return, 30 April 2005
This review is from: With Teeth (Audio CD)
Where 'Pretty Hate Machine' and 'T.D.S.' began with frantic/upbeat tracks, With Teeth goes in vain of The Fragile and begins with the beautifully gentle,slightly haunting, bass-driven 'All The Love In The World'. The subtle piano throughout aids to the atmospheric nature of this song. As it goes more up-tempo towards the end, you can't help but feel the music is slightly...<cough> Moby-esque <cough> - but it works! Next is 'You Know What You Are?' which begins with a drum-loop near identical to that at the beginning of 'Gave Up'; the chorus is heavy, angrier than before - for fans of the more simplisticly written songs, but the ones that instantly smash through your skull (Mr Self Destruct, Gave Up &c.)
'The Collector' reminds me of a simpler, less-industrial version of 'The Becoming'; i'm impressed with the layering of the music here, the spontaneous bursts of dexterous guitar work, but it's really not one you'd take huge note of. My opinion of 'The Hand That Feeds' has been posted in a review on the single, and i was slated for it (funny how people vote in conjunction with their opinion as opposed to how informative your review is) so i shan't ramble on again.
'Every Day Is Exactly The Same' relies upon the dark synth throughout, the layers of strings that emerge through the music - once again, it's simpler (and the chorus sounds SO similar to a song on 'The Fragile', but my mind forgets which one right now) than before but it shows that you don't have to be complex to be impressive.
Personally, i find 'With Teeth' a tedious track (particularly the over-pronunciated vowel soundings :"Wittthhh-uu Teeeethuuu") once again it relies very much on the deep bass riff, and the guitar work takes a back-seat (though it is still audible).
'Getting Smaller' is upbeat, fast-moving and has one of the best choruses i've heard from Mr R. in many years,especially as he screams "I'm starting to fade away!" over the frantic riff.
'The Line Begins To Blur' begins the usual formula of 'end-of-album-beautiful-ballads', so it's slow and uses the 4/4 timing similar to 'Hurt', though the heavy, distorted bass creates the nightmarish effect over this. Similarly, with 'Beside You In Time', the song begins to reach it's crecendo at the near 4-minute mark, where the volume is gradually turned up, and it is whilst the music doesn't capture you too much that you realise how powerful this man's voice is, how perfectly the notes are hit, how gentle yet angry it is, the vocal range - tremendous track, if only to demonstrate the vocal genius.
'Right Where It Belongs' continues with the piano as the main focus, the sound of subtle wind in the background, the gentle guitar-work surfacing: it's when the sound becomes less 'fuzzed' and more focussed, that we can see this song is entirely a 'Hurt Vol.2' - it's not a bad thing, and it's not that they SOUND that similar, just the way in which they are structured reminds me of that track (especially when the sounds of a live crowd are introduced towards the end, and the true emotion you can hear in Trent's voice.)
So in conclusion - 'With Teeth' is a musically simpler album that might not grab you on first listen in the way that the predecssors did, and at moments it does appear to re-tread alot of ground, but all-in-all, it's rather impressive. You (almost) certainly won't be disappointed...

Frances the Mute
Frances the Mute
Price: £4.63

8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Strange & Exhilerating Experience, 21 Feb. 2005
This review is from: Frances the Mute (Audio CD)
The release of the year is finally here!
Opener 'Cygnus....Vismund Cygnus' is possibly some of the best work The Mars Volta have put on tape; the beat is unreal, the speed is phenomenal, the instrumental work is all so complex but works so well. Truly outstanding.
'The Widow' would have to be the 'Televators' of the album, but doesn't fail to disappoint. Perhaps not as fantastic as you'd have expected, and the slowed down aspect of the band is probably best demonstrated on 'Miranda That Ghost Just Isn't Holy Any More', though this does start with 4 minutes of emptiness...almost a way to fill the time, which is probably my only fault with this album. The silences on 'D.I.T.C.' represented a delirious state of a coma, whereas the one at the beginning and end of this track make up almost half the song, and it just has no theme to it, and no place on this album.
'L'via L'Viaquez' is an upbeat Latin number consisting of some truly amazing guitar solos and the typical Mars Volta insanity and timing-defying riffs.
'Cassandra Geminni'...yeah, it's long but it's magnificent. It's even been split down into separate tracks for you, so if you choose to be impatient with it, skip through it! It's not the easiest of listens all at once, but if you persevere you're left with true a masterpiece.
This album perhaps isn't quite the 'D.I.T.C.2' many - including myslf - had expected, but it's still fantastic. Trumpet solos, glorious string work, mind-bending's a wonder The Mars Volta aren't recognised more.
Much recommended :)

Dancer In The Dark [DVD] [2000]
Dancer In The Dark [DVD] [2000]
Dvd ~ Björk
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.16

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars True Emotion, 10 Dec. 2004
Never before have i felt it so necessary to review an item. 'Dancer In The Dark' is a greatly compelling story of a Czech mother (Selma - Bjork) with a secret that she is slowly losing her eyesight. Selma must desparately save for her son to have an operation preventing him inheriting her blindness and when she is wrongly accused of theft, we experience some truly heart-warming moments. von Trier successfully manages to perfectly portray issues of loyalty, tragedy and moral beliefs in what I could perhaps call the best film I have ever watched, and though you may be deterred by Bjork featuring in this film, you will be truly incapable of feeling anything but sympathy for her. 'Dancer in the Dark' is far from a feel-good movie, however it is powerful and compelling. One of those true pieces of cinematic magic that you want to chesrish forever...

Price: £8.29

3.0 out of 5 stars Same Old, Same Old, 1 Oct. 2004
This review is from: Nymphetamine (Audio CD)
Seven albums on and Cradle of Filth don't really seem to have eveolved too much. Not that a band should create new sounds/images for each album, but some diversity within the music is expected from a band whose career has spanned more than a decade.
The formulaic operatic opener & interlude, that monotonous double-kicked pedal of the drum over each track; the riffs seem less complex (perhaps even slightly toned-down) - see 'English Fire', 'Nymphetamine (Overture).
The album isn't entirely bad; yes, there are some blistering riffs ('Filthy Little Secret'), and it's bound to please the avid fanbase and those who perhaps haven't listened to a great deal of Cradle of Filth before.
Basically, it's what you expected. It seems that 'Midian' still stands as the bands only diverse offering, and with song titles such as 'Gilded Cunt' you can see they seem slightly desparate for controversy.

A Grand Don't Come For Free
A Grand Don't Come For Free
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.39

6 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Oh Dear, Mike..., 2 Sept. 2004
'Original Pirate Material' was the most catchy, funky, diverse, unique and superb debut release in years. It was clever, it was something alternative (something hard to find today!). Naturally, i fell in love!
...several years later and the acclaimed release of 'A Grand Don't Come For Free' - a typical follow-up to such a classic! The music's slower, and with less variation to it making songs become monotonous. 'It Was Supposed To Be So Easy' - ok, not quite the 'Turn The Page' opener but we wait patiently for the kick in the teeth. 'Could Well Be In'-another slow one, with useless lyrics. The album continues through some extremely disappointing tracks (and the frankly embarassing - 'Wouldn't Have It Any Other Way' - i could have cried; i feel myself blushing on behalf of Mike Skinner for this one!) until you reach the upbeat 'Parklife' rip-off (don't deny it!) of 'Fit But You Know It'...speaking of which i move swiftly on to the poor lyrical quality - syllable-filler like "yes yes oh yay"?!?! Come on!!! "You don't care about my broken TV" in what sounds like an 8 year old trying to sing in a karaoke competition ('Get Out OF My House').
The genius debut, the lyrics we could relate to ("out the club about 3, to the takeaway - the s**t in a tray merchant") are sadly missed. Instead we are provided with 'Dry Your Eyes' <cringes as i type the words> and other such nonsense.
The credit i give to this album are 'Not Addicted', 'Blinded By The Lights', 'Such A Twat' and the closer 'Empty Cans' (with two different conclusions to the story - one unique feature <round of applause>)
My suggestion is to purchase 'Original Pirate Material', or see The Streets live - the latter will be the only way to appreciate the rubbish on this album!
...and just because it's a concept album, DOES NOT make it clever! It's been done before, it'll be done again...some just do it worse than others!

Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £5.95

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars <Scratches Head>, 26 Aug. 2004
This review is from: Medulla (Audio CD)
I don't even know how to rate this (I'll listen again and do that part), let alone how to review it! Ok, so i was one of the few (i cringe as i type this) that didn't appreciate 'Vespertine' too much. Though it was/is a fantastic album musically, it struck no chords; it seemed too basic and obvious for Bjork. So I supoose i've been wrong again to expect 'Homogenic Part II', but it's that up-tempo, so-surreal-and-unique-but-not-even-trying-to-be Bjork that lacked with 'Vespertine'.
The songs are generally more Vespertine-esque,though they're written in such a clever way that Medulla's musical layers and structures seem incomparible; Bjork's vocal arrangements (though much choir-vocal has been used throughout) are jaw-dropping. The music is so different, so unique from anything else i've heard before.
In short, my review seems unable to discuss this album in full -it's a darker sound than before, yet manages to be more beautiful than before. It's simple in places yet so complex and layered in others. It's Bjork alright, but not like we've heard her before. This is one album you really have to hear for yourself, to judge for yourself. All i'll say is "listen with a very open mind...set no expectations, don't try to imagne what the sound will be like" - that way you'll be able to truly capture Bjork's soundscapes.

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