KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

Unholy – ‘From The Shadows’ – [Peaceville Records]

Lord Gravestench   12/14/2019   12-inch, A Library

When the Finnish death/doom metal quartet Unholy (est. 1990) originally released 1993’s ‘From The Shadows’ on Austria’s Lethal Records, it was either their first or second album, depending on whether you consider the previous year’s ‘Trip to Depressive Autumn’ a demo. Peaceville’s great-sounding 2017 reissue on double 12″ was the first vinyl pressing of this trendsetting record. 

Unholy must have been easy to lump in as part of the the funeral doom movement emerging from their fatherland in the early 90s, but really they were always doing their own fucked-up thing. The vibe is kind of stoner on this record, with lots of slow, sludgy, atonal riffs. Psychedelic keyboard work on some tracks takes the concept of organ doom in a far more psychotic direction than other Finn-doomers like Skepticism. Passionate and disgusting death grunts are dominant but there are some moments of surprising variation in the singing, including 1980s-style belting on a few tracks (e.g. A2). Occasionally the sombre doom tempo explodes into amazing death metal parts. A love of traditional metal harmonics is also in evidence, making the death and doom flavours equally strong. Autopsy, Goatlord, early Cathedral, and Candlemass all seem equally important as influences. The somewhat disparate components of Unholy’s sound balance into a pretty perfect whole, one in which any doom metal afficionado will be happily buried.

Over a decade later, another influential Finnish doom project paid tribute to Unholy’s impact when Reverend Bizarre, in the lyrics to their cult classic track ‘Goddess of Doom,’ included this band among a famous lyrical catalog of their influences— definitely check out every band mentioned in that song btw, it offers a great index of other groups to explore if this record appeals to you…

…But enough talk; time to pay your tithe to the Suomi metal godz!

Encoffinized – ‘Chambers of Deprivation’ – [Maggot Stomp]

Lord Gravestench   12/14/2019   A Library, Cassette

Encoffinized from Huntington Beach (not to be confused with Encoffination from San Diego) play lean, mean death metal. When KFJC added their debut demo last year I knew this band were something special, and they have totally delivered with their first full-length album (if you consider 22 minutes to be album-length).

These short, punchy deathgrind songs are propelled by fluid riffing, purring double-bass fills, faster-than-the-ear blasts, and zombie death gurgles declaiming morbid poems. The songwriting is not a reinvention of the medium but, I mean, it’s DEATH METAL… you don’t always want distinctive songwriting– sometimes you want Immolation and Nihilist worship, which Encoffinized accomplish here in spades, and without recourse to cliche as the riffs feel familiar BUT never derivative. I dare you not to nod your head along to the groovy bits or thrash around frantically to the chunky assault of the on-point drummer when the time comes for our boys to grind. Production-wise, this tape sounds like it was recorded in a mausoleum, in a good way.

When there’s no more room in Hell the dead will walk the Earth.

Fraser, Dean – "Big Up!" – [Island JDamaica Jazz]

Hemroid The Leader   12/12/2019   CD, Reggae

Classic reggae sax sound of Dean Fraser, playing 11 reggae-jazz hybrid tunes. Light, groovy take on things. Idris Muhammad shares the drum credit with Sly Dunbar. Nimble rhythm section. Sometimes more jazz than others (9, 10) with sounds like George Adams. Opens with cool “Dick Tracy”

Pablo, Augustus – "Live In Tokyo Japan" – [Jet Star]

Hemroid The Leader   12/12/2019   CD, Reggae

somehow. understanding partially the extremely high spiritual power of Augustus Pablo – he intends to give us the Love of God, with the understanding of our human position in this purgatory planet – I aimed in my mind to taste this nectar.
This is not just a band out for fun: this seemed more like a pilgrimage with a mission: to impart this taste of love of God in humility and human blues-reggæ: the music onto the King. 😊
That said: He plays all his distilled nectar.
Going back on these notes: He went with his herbalist doctor: armed with beautiful powerful herbs to help a dying Horace Brady/Augustus Pablo deliver this Crucial Message to JAHpan. this is I guess a vague idea of the instruction/communication imparted.
That said: rhythm section are headhunters: these guys ain’t jokin’. Difficult to mike and mix the melodica – but we get it. JAHpanese engineers must have been blown away. 😊
fans of: God: the JAHpanese Archipelago, refined”spaghetti” westerns depicting the struggle between Good and Evil – the good..- Pablo!: many quotes we recognize of Pablo’s melodies as sung!: “Africa must be free” even Wailers’ and many Studio One / Lee Perry recorded melodies: as Pablo was at home there. A hundred JAHmaican melodies here. after a few listens I am sure I’ll catch the Cuban Archipelago”Peanut Vendor / El Manicero”.
pss: indeed: on multiple relistens you hear I-JAHman Levi”s “Early in the morning”…
This album should be sitting comfortably between I-JAHman’s Haile I Hymn and Rico Rodríguez’s Man from Wáreika. tops

Amazon reviewer jorge gonzález -larramendi

Alienator – “Pariahs” – [Self-release]

atavist   12/11/2019   A Library, CD

This CD from Thunder Bay’s Alienator starts out with…are those some stoner grooves mixed with hardcore vocals? I’m cool with the idea, but the initial tracks didn’t really speak to me. The album improves as it progresses though. Starting with track 6, “Renovicted (Ode to Vancouver)”, the band really gets after it and cuts loose, demanding my full attention. Track 7, “Drag the River”, is good too—an interesting riff is matched to some urgency and dynamic shifts/builds. 8, “LRH”, keeps the momentum going at a good clip. 10, “Intravenous Flytrap”, has thick sludgy riffs woven with galloping old-school metal riffs, but can they hold the momentum? Tracks 11 and 12 are okay, but not quite as memorable, followed by a decent close-out track. Situated amongst other recent additions to our library, Alienator isn’t yet bringing the fury, from a hardcore perspective, at the same level as Cell Rot, and within the metalcore vein, the songwriting lacks some of the dynamism of Call of the Void. In the early tracks the instruments attempt some variety in terms of tone and intensity, but the vocals tend to stay on one level, and though heavy, we’ve come to expect people working in this genre to either sound like they’re ripping their vocal chords out, Jake Bannon-style, or threading their sounds with angular, unconventional riffs. Alienator have a good basis to work from but might need to figure out where they’re going to push it harder. If it were a five-song EP comprised of tracks 6, 7, 8, 10, and 13, I’d be less nit-picky. FCC track 13.

Linekraft – “Subhuman Principle” – [Tesco Organisation]

lexi glass   12/10/2019   12-inch, A Library

Linekraft is the solo project of Masahiko Okubo, “junk-metal noise master” (his percussion work can also be found on recent releases from GRIM) and head of the Japanese noise label Three Plugs. On Subhuman Principle, Linekraft confronts the horrors of the Khmer Rouge, the communist regime that murdered millions of Cambodians during its rule in the late 1970s, and arrives at a final conclusion: “Human beings are animals. They can’t form a perfect social group.” Thus, he creates a “soundtrack for subhumans,” a devastating record that follows the regression from man to beast. Air raid horns, wailing sirens, military marches and gunshots dominate the first half of the tracks, but as the album plays on these traces of society disappear, leaving only chaos. The return to the primitive is reflected in the effects that are reminiscent of early electronic/noise music, like warbling echoes and overdriven distortion, and crashing metal sounds. The full bestial transformation is realized on the horrifying “Non Human Animal” (T5). Exceptional.

Eight Trails, One Path [coll] – [Three Lobed Recordings]

Louie Caliente   12/10/2019   12-inch, A Library

Infinite sounds from finite fingers. Eight tracks of solo acoustic guitar, put out by Three Lobed Recordings for Record Store Day 2012.

Some highlights: (A1) Alvarius B.’s toe-tapping American Primitive with a Cairo flair. (A2) The Lush, intricate picking from William Tyler. (A4) A sonic bath from Six Organs of Admittance, layering warm tones over distant vocals that slowly come in to focus. (B1) Steve Gunn’s raga trance that builds on repetition into a full-fledged jam. (B4) Closing out the album is Sir Richard Bishop, as expressive and energetic as always.

Obsidian Needles – “Every Angel Is Terrifying” – [Self Released]

lexi glass   12/10/2019   A Library, Cassette

Obsidian Needles is the Olympia-based industrial noise project of Clare S. This 2019 cassette, released in advance of her U.S. tour with Oakland’s Crawl of Time, contains two harrowing longform works. “keep my sufferings & desires from being violent” (Side A) alternates between uncomfortable stretches of subtle tones and textures and violent blasts of noise, with crushing industrial rhythms and distorted vocals. “good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere, honey” (Side B) forces us to eavesdrop on a conversation between a young sex worker and her customer. A sustained, throbbing pulse builds and vicious processed vocals rise up, as if in response to the disturbing scene. A quiet emptiness follows, and within that void the strength is mustered for a final, terrifying expression of rage.
FCCS on both sides

Byrd, John & Taylor, Walter – "Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order 1929-1931" – [RST Records]

Hemroid The Leader   12/10/2019   12-inch, Blues

John Byrd & Walter Taylor (1929-1931), Complete Recordings in chronological order

18 Rare country blues. Split LP, Byrd on side A; Walter Taylor (“Washboard Walter”) on the flip. Acquired taste, low-fi stuff for completists, Mickey Slim, & Pete Dixon. From Joe Bussard’s basement collection.

A1 & A2 recall spirituals, set up with John Byrd playing guitar & sermonizing, accompanied by a singer and a few congregants. Byrd is a cool guitar player. B side is kind of pedestrian.

Marconi Union – "Distance" – [All Saints]

humana   12/9/2019   A Library, CD

From 2005 come the soothing sounds of English trio Marconi Union. The tracks envelop you in layers of electronica that lull you into a trance from which you can awaken by figuring out what the track titles might mean. For example, “Suburb27” somehow converted me from disliking suburbs into admitting that their generic blurriness might be just the challenge I need. The music may also seem blurry, but there’s nothing wrong with a soft focus in life, after all. Take off your glasses and enjoy.

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