Thursday, 29 November 2012

Ides Of Gemini - The Disruption Writ

You know when you hear music that you just can't wait to share with other people? Because it would be selfish to keep it to yourself, to deprive them the chance to hear their potential new favourite band? They need to hear and appreciate what you've found, you need them to hear it how you hear it, to really get it?
It was through one such conversation that I was turned on to Black Math Horseman's 'Wyllt' record.

Hearing the primal drums that open the album, the cinematic scope of the music, the way it seemed to fill the space in the room... I was instantly thankful that someone knew me well enough to recommend what has since become one of my favourite records.

The music was a revelation, but it was the haunting, otherworldly voice of Sera Timms that truly won me over.
The only problem I had with the album was that there wasn't enough of it. Six tracks were not enough, and I fiended for more of their unique, ethereal odes to atavism.

That's when I found Ides Of Gemini.

Admittedly I didn't discover them until relatively recently, but eager to make up for lost time, I forked out for their debut EP 'The Disruption Writ' within minutes of learning of the bands existence.
I also cursed my rotten luck that I'd missed their European tour by a matter of days through a combination of not knowing the band existed, and no longer living on mainland Europe.

Until they cross the Atlantic once again and I can witness their live show, I have this tape to wear out.

The first side begins with 'Martyrium Of The Hippolyt' and it grabs me just as the first time I heard Black Math Horseman, but the reasons are different.
The stark guitar and stripped-down drums are a world away from the primal rhythms and warm tone of 'Wyllt', but this is no criticism. It gives me the impression of a regal procession, the instruments serving as but an introduction for the majesty of Sera Timms' voice.
A couple of minutes in and J Bennett's guitar unfurls a harsh, abrasive tremolo break before receding back into the background, allowing the vocals to come to the fore again. Much like in her other band, Sera's vocals are just the other side of distinguishable, heightening the mysterious, mythic aura around her words.

'Slain In Spirit' has very much the same vibe, the drums no more than a marching band rat-a-tat, the focus on the snarling, black metal-ish guitar and the enigmatic voice.
In a recent interview with The Quietus, the band states that the minimal instrumental compositions and stark production values are very much intentional, "we want the music to be good, but its mainly a platform for her voice".

The other side of the tape opens with 'The Vessel & The Stake', squalls of tremolo and an almost drum machine-esque sound that soon give way to eerie vocal harmonies. The last few seconds hint at a guitar solo, but it doesn't materialise.
Closing track 'Resurrectionists' begins with a great little choppy riff that repeats throughout the song, and features the most distinguishable phrase of the whole recording, a regretful-sounding refrain of
"How will I rise? This body was once mine..."
An abrupt end to the song, to the tape, and I'm once again left craving more.

Thankfully their debut full-length 'Constantinople' is out now via Neurot:

You can pick up your own copy of this EP on either tape or CD here:
(each format comes exquisitely packaged, it was a real struggle for me to not buy both)

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Jucifer - Nadir

Jucifer are one of the most inspiring bands I've ever come across, their nomadic lifestyle convincing me to pack up all my records, stuff a backpack with denim and doom shirts, and drop out of life in pursuit of riff-filled lands. It was during this time I got to see Saint Vitus, Pentagram, The Obsessed (twice), Sleep, Electric Wizard, Eyehategod, Ramesses, Orange Goblin, Noothgrush (twice), Thou (twice) and also Jucifer themselves. Twice.

I caught their set at Roadburn, in the tiny, packed, blisteringly hot room at the very top floor of the 013. It was after two hours of Sleep, so my ears were already ringing by the time Amber and Edgar hit the stage at midnight and proceeded to redefine what I thought I knew about volume.
Loud does not adequately describe what they do. It's an enveloping feeling, waves of sound washing over you, destruction by decibels.
By the time I staggered out into the cold Netherlands night I felt pulverized, in the best way possible.

I went to see them a week later, playing my favourite venue in Germany, the AZ Mülheim. It was another tiny room who's walls could barely contain (an unfortunately greatly reduced version of) Amber's Amp Mountain, but they still managed to create sheer sonic mass.
I was so captivated I missed the tram back to the couch I was crashing on, and had to walk for three hours through the heart of industrial Germany in the pitch back night. But it was so very worth it.

I'd had a digital copy of Nadir for a while by that point, put out by the very excellent Grindcore Karaoke, J Randall's not-for-profit outlet for the weird and wonderful sounds being made worldwide. Remastered by Scott Hull, it sounded great, but without something I can see spinning, I never really feel any great attachment to an album.
I'd heard rumours that there'd be a cassette release to coincide with the European tour I was seeing them on, but it never really materialised. Months passed, my nomadic existence ended (temporarily), and I found myself with access to a record player again.

Which was just as well, as I got the news that the dude behind Handshake Inc would be releasing a vinyl version of the Nadir album, remastered for vinyl by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege, who also remastered the holy grail of low and slow; Sleep's Dopesmoker. Sweet!
I was so excited, when it was finally released I managed to snag the first copy. Now to finally hear it as it was intended; LOUD.

Opening with 'Prime', feedback oozes, before the riff lurches and staggers from my speakers. You can already hear the telepathic level of tightness of Amber and Edgar's playing. I've never seen a band so able to switch between droning guitar/drum atmospherics and shrieking blastbeat fury in time with each other without exchanging so much as a glance.

'Hachimantaro' alternates between the clanging discordance of the intro and a solid, crunching stomp. Amber's ethereal vocals not quite synching up with the harshness of the instruments, her voice contrasting it nicely, something they'd explore a lot on their later releases. It's an eerie effect.

Third song 'Withering' is an exercise in tension and release. The drums ratcheting, the feedback building, before they bring it back down again. The vocals once again have that unsettling, airy lilt, as opposed to the variety of the later releases, which feature Amber growling, barking, singing softly, screaming her head off, even singing in a variety of different languages.
You can hear that this is the origin of their sound, that they're already exploring contrast and volume.

The second side starts off with 'Glamourpuss', descibed as "kind of a revenge fantasy [about] girls who pretend to care, will compliment you to your face, then betray you at the first opportunity" in the liner notes, its initial gigantic rumble giving way to a fretboard-spanning weird riff, the vocals coo-ed honey sweet over the top. You can almost hear the malicious grin in Amber's voice as she calls out her betrayers.
They re-recorded this track for their debut album Calling All Cars On The Vegas Strip, which sounds a lot more confident in it's performance, but it's cool to hear the prototype version here.

'Crossless', with its croaked, creaking witchy vocals, all-encompassing guitar tone and heavy-hitting drums closes out a short-but-sweet glimpse into the origins of a band who would pioneer the sludge metal two-piece so prevalent today.

They were staking out unknown territory all the way back in 1994, no-one was playing anything like this (but if you've heard bands that were, please, send me recommendations of other female-fronted weirdo sludge bands!).
There's still no-one quite like Jucifer.

You can download this (and hundreds of other weird awesome shit) for FREE from Grindcore Karaoke here:

But I recommend splashing some cash on the vinyl from Mutants Of The Monster:

Catch Jucifer on tour constantly, and worship at Thee White Wall Of Doom!

Dopefight / Gurt split

I had the great luck to catch one of Dopefight's last shows on a bill that included EyeHateGod, Ramesses, and Conan. Even among illustrious company like that, Dopefight stood out as playing some of the grooviest, most fuzzed-out stoner rock I've heard. When they decided to call it quits a short time after that show, I was gutted.

When they announced their split, they also had a bit of a fire sale in their merch store, offering everything for ridiculously discounted prices. Since I already had their demo tape and a vinyl copy of the Buds LP, I snagged this split for a pound. Thats £1. No fucking way was I going to pass that up!

Stole this picture from Dopefight's bandcamp.

Enough backstory, here's why you should've supported this band while they were still a going concern.
Their side of this heavy little slab opens with Stonk, all buzzing amps and splashing cymbals before the drums crash in with a properly doomy riff. It's heavier than what I was expecting given their high-energy live show, but thats fine by me, I like my riffs downtuned and downtrodden.
A couple of minutes in however, the doomed stomp gives way to a groove as gargantuan as the grand canyon. The vocals are an indecipherable yell, but that's not what I listen to stoner rock for; the riff is king.

Second track 'Green Solace' starts with some filthy bass before the downright dirty guitar joins the fray. The tempo drops about halfway through, the guitar swaggering and snarling towards the end of the track.
The drums build and build, the vocals roar into... the end of the song. Huh. Kinda thought that was gonna lead to the most baddest-ass riff of all time.
If there's one thing Dopefight did in their all-too-brief tenure, it was leave you wanting more.

Gurt's side of the split is pretty fucking awesome too, 'Soapfeast' alternating between southern swagger with great whiskey-soaked rapsing vocals in the slower passages, and an uptempo blast that reminds me of the late great Raging Speedhorn. Good stuff.

'Dudes With Beards With Cats' might sound like a some hipster's tumblr, but is actually a mean motherfucker of a song that reminds me of Scissorfight at their most belligerent.
Yeah, so I'm making lazy comparisons, but if a band can remind me of two of the bands that were my gateway to the world of low n' slow riffage, that is no bad thing in my book.
If Gurt ever play North of the border, and there's plenty of whisky behind the bar, I'm there!

You can download pretty much Dopefight's entire discography for free here:

And get your hands on their tapes, 7"s and CDs here:

Check Gurt out here: