Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized ’ Category

What Prog Means to Me : Anathema – One Last Goodbye

DISCLAIMER: Okay, so I wrote this in April 2012, hence the anachronisms throughout. There’s no significance in me publishing it now; this isn’t some great moment of catharsis and nor do I feel like I’m putting lots of demons to rest by making this public. 

It may not be the best thing I’ve written, nor the most relevant, but it reflects (as it continues to do so) how I feel about a song that was significant at a hard time in my life. That’s all.Image

Progressive music (known affectionately as Prog) does not have a natural entry point for a lot of people. It is music built around a non-linear structure, foregoing the verse-chorus based formula of ‘standard’ music, and therefore often stands out amongst other genres for being an oddity. Yet, as the recent release of Anathema’s Weather Systems proves, this isn’t a genre that delights in obscurity, but moreover one that uses obscurity to emphasise its delights. Prog shelters and nurtures a richness in its music that is rarely found elsewhere, and for me, this depth is captured in one song.

Anathema’s Judgement, released in 1999, was their fifth studio album. It was an album that saw the band holding onto some last, desolate bastion of doom, but it marked a notable departure from the then six year old colossal, caustic heft of the like of Serenades. Pitched right in the middle of this release is ‘One Last Goodbye’, a song built on residues of grief and loss, and one that was written by the Cavanagh brothers soon after their mother’s death.

From the off, the tangible, suffocating grief of the lyrics is almost overwhelming. Knowing the circumstances of its conception, trying to grasp the meaning of words that have been written and compute them into some sort of understanding is harrowing. Framing this is a song structure that echoes the irrepressible, unsleeping torment of the words; there is no chorus here, no return point, just an endless outpouring of grief as Vincent Cavanagh moves between despair, “But the strength I always loved in you//finally gave way” and clutching at mirages of hope:

In my dreams I can see you
I can tell you how I feel
In my dreams I can hold you
And it feels so real

With these latter lyrics, the song builds into a tempest, words thrown angrily into the wind at the surety of this injustice.

The song peaks about three and a half minutes in, as Cavanagh seems to gain acceptance in the midst of his sorrow “And somehow I knew you would leave me”, and as the last strand of “oh I wish, I wish you could have stayed” crashes home, a soaring solo erupts out of the anguish of the words. This is a moment that’s all at once beautiful and crushing, and leaves a trail of emotion as tangible as any of the lyrics.

It’s easy to get bogged down in the minutiae of a song that means so much to you; ‘One Last Goodbye’ echoes a very specific part of my life, and a similar circumstance. It’s one of the few places that has granted solace and unquestioning acceptance, and is one of these uniquely beautiful and harrowing songs that says more through its progression than anyone else has been able to.

Of course, like I said above, this is uniquely personal. I do believe, however, that progressive music is one of the few places that can facilitate such an evocative story, and phrase it in a way that it’ll mean something different to every single person that digests it.

The best thing to happen to 2012 so far…



Live: Basick Records Fest @ London Camden Barfly – 05 February 2012

[15th February 2012] – The words here are both mine and Mr Tom Dare’s (@Repka)

Chimp Spanner promo photo 2010 Thrash Hits

British indy label Basick Records put on their own night in London, featuring instrumental tech metal(/cheese) one-piece Chimp Spanner (yes, he did bring a backing band), excellent French atmospheric tech metallers Uneven Structure and French mentalist The Algorithm. We went along to bang our heads in 17/8 time signature.

Six things we learned from when Basick Records brought their bands to London

1) The Algorithm’s frontman is vaguely reminiscent of Gareth Keenan from The Office, but despite this, the sonic fury of their music makes 6 foot blokes with jutting beards smash their faces around to the heavy dub-fodder on offer. The beats are just fucking huge, and the Barfly is a small enough venue to make you feel like you’re locked in a prison cell with a rutting rhinoceros.

2) The proliferation of utterly bonkers acts coming out of France shows no sign of slowing down, if The Algorithm is anything to go by. Basick may specialise in the well and truly crazy side of metal, but even they will struggle to get something as loopy as this guy on their roster any time soon. It’s about as predictable as a hallucinating cat when someone’s just turned the hoover on, veering from progressive house to Meshuggah-esque metal to random samples, like the ‘Trolololol’ song. It definitely makes you move though.

[Read the rest at Thrash Hits]

Amazon £3 albums

Amazon have pulled their finger out and are selling a lot of digital downloads for the meagre amount of £3. Here are 15 that you’d be barmy not to go and download now (I’ve stuck the links in as well, because I’m helpful like that). Act soon – this surely won’t last forever.

1. Reign in Blood by Slayer

2. Ten by Pearl Jam

3. The Velvet Underground & Nico by Velvet Underground

The Velvet Underground & Nico

4. Superunknown by Soundgarden

Superunknown

5. Tommy by The Who

Tommy

6. The Colour & The Shape by Foo Fighters

The Colour And The Shape

7. Brave New World by Iron Maiden

Brave New World

8. Rust In Peace by Megadeth

Rust In Peace

9. Mother’s Milk by Red Hot Chili Peppers

Mother's Milk [Explicit]

10. Hail to the Thief by Radiohead

Hail To The Thief

11. Hawkwind by Hawkwind

Hawkwind

12. Blackwater Park by Opeth

Blackwater Park

13. A Storm In Heaven by The Verve

A Storm In Heaven

14. Korn by Korn

Korn [Explicit]

15. Frank Turner – England Keep My Bones

England Keep My Bones [Explicit]

Sandblasted Albums of 2011: 9. Rival Sons – Pressure & Time

From the brazen stomp of opener, All Over the Road, through to the stripped-bare  beauty of Face of Light, Rival Sons have created in ‘Pressure & Time’ an effortless return to simple, unwashed blues-rock. What the band have captured here is the essence of rock without posturing or pretension, and execute it in the most heart-warming way possible; the vocals are rich and emotive beyond belief, the bass and drums are tight and the guitar, for the most part, burns with a raw, passionate screech.

The title track’s riff is repetitive, insistent and showcases some of the only musical flourish on the album; the groove that’s created is insatiable.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MA0m1K2jW4

When Rival Sons do drop the pace, there is tangible emotion to be had here. Only One and Face Of Light are magnificent demonstrations of the deep-set passion and sincerity that runs through the heart of the record; honestly, it might not even matter what the content of the songs are about because the sound here is honest and timeless. Undoubtedly the rock album of the year.

Sandblasted Albums of 2011: 10. The Answer – Revival

In a world where bands cannibalise their peers to put an extra ounce of flesh onto a record, The Answer have always delivered solid, bluesy and corpulent rock n roll, and Revival remains very much in the same vein. Foregoing their Irish roots for a more deep South slant, Revival boasts songs that are more confident than their predecessors, whether it’s the slide guitar opener for Waste Your Tears or the bombastic thrust of Vida (I Want You), The Answer remain distinctive and boisterous. This is real travelling blues, and the band retains sincerity without over-egging the point (although One More Revival is somewhat cringe worthy).

Anything that might seem too worthy, however, is cast aside by the musicianship that rollicks and storms at points throughout the album; the vocals are distinctive and passionate, and the female lyrics on Nowhere Freeway are a refreshing reminder of The Answer’s ability to dally with other musical elements, whilst retaining their essential clout. If rock n roll brings you here, then you’ll stay for The Answer’s warmth and sincerity that have become such absent commodities recently.

Listen to: Nowhere Freeway, Tornado, Vida (I Want You)

 

My iTunes top 25 played (since May 2011)

It’s been a slow week. I’ve posted nothing of any real significance for ages. So continuing in that vein, here are my top listened to tracks on itunes since May. The volume of Architects is due to being slightly obsessed with The Here & Now when it came out; it has since lost its polish somewhat.

In other news, download Turbowolf’s self-titled album. You can get it for a fiver from their label here http://hasslerecords.sandbag.uk.com/Store/DII-2668-6-turbowolf:+turbowolf+mp3.html. It’s incredible.

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