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Menace Ruine, "Cult of Ruins"

cover imageBy all accounts this is a metal album.  From the dark, lo-fi black-and-white artwork, gore-ified fonts and titles, I expected some form of death or black metal, and I was pretty much right on target.  Now, knowing the label that put this out, I assumed it couldn't be just any generic metal album, because Alien8 is known for leaning towards the experimental.

 

Alien8 Recordings

The opener, "Process of Bestialization," cemented that hypothesis of mine rather quickly.  Sure, the demonic vocals and drum machine blasts raised fingers up in Ronnie James Dio devil horn fashion, but the accompanying controlled feedback that reached a point of near ambience was a different demon entirely, and was definitely conventional riffing or head banging in nature. 

For those who like their metal either black or deathy or a combination of both, tracks like "They Who Enter Caves" will fit the bill. It is hard to tell if the track is being led by a processed guitar or a synth but the pace and mood of overall track, coupled with the vocals and drums, is unabashedly metallic in nature.   However, the underlying ambience that is a bit more apparent during the ending shows more debt to dark ambient than the rest of the track leads on.  Similarly, the 12-minute "Bonded by Wyrd" adds some prog rock elements into the metal sludge with its rapid guitar arpeggios and restrained vocals and massive drum break down during the second half.

Other tracks show the metal vestiges even less, the sustained "kvlt" produced guitar roar of "Dove Instinct" have more in common with label mates Nadja or some overamped release from the heyday of the Cold Meat Industries label than it does to any traditional metal band.  Even though "Sky as a Reversed Abyss" is more blatant in its use of guitar and other forms of traditional instrumentation, the lugubrious pace and barely structured guitar put it more in the family tree of early Swans or other like minded industrial-tinged sludgesters. 

It wasn't entirely wrong to immediately assume this is a headbanger's type album (there is definitely a black metal edge to this entire album), the sound is actually much more varied than expected from the genre, and incorporates a significant amount of other stylistic elements that will catch the ears of those who aren't adherent metal heads (such as I).  Although this mysterious band (as of this writing there isn't even an entry on discogs.com for them, and they've got everything!) seems to be relatively new on the scene, they are already showing a wide enough array of talents to make them worth keeping an eye on. 

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The Eye: Video of the Day

Akron/Family

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Review of the Day

Metalux, "Waiting for Armadillo"
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M.V. Carbon and J. Gräf make noise that is slow, consumptive, and jello-thick and their method of ear-shattering is unique enough to make them stand out among a sea of amateur feedback wankers. Keyboards stretch and rattle like whale blubber waving in the wind and sonic whines break the sound barrier in an attempt to reach light and break it, too, but through all the chaos and unchecked sludge is that hint of intention and arrangement that helps everything make sense. Metalux might have one foot in the out-of-control world of schizophrenic sound construction, but the other is firmly planted in the calm and cool realm of careful preparation. After turning up their aggression they consider the variety they've presented, look it over like some hellish Frankenstein made from the bones of destroyed drum kits and nuclear guitars, and they craft it into rolling lines of synthetic bubbles and purring sex kittens. Carbon and Gräf open up noise and reveal under it the comedy of failing sounds; there are bloody llamas and pliant animals to be found on this record. There's always a strange kind of beauty here that reminds me of why noise can be so great. Take the overdriven guitar of "Splinter and Shimmer" for example: distortion, super-indulgence, and complete disregard for listener health has never sounded so lovely. The witch-like moan and screech of the vocals on this track slip around the pure fucking animalistic drive of the guitar and the painful screech of electronics so perfectly, it's a surprise that more individuals haven't tried this approach (it seems ripe for theft and overuse). Metalux let it carry on for just long enough and don't bother using it again—it's an addictive piece of songwriting that only increases with each listen. In other places the record is almost danceable as drum machines pound away steady rhythms, alternating between bass hits and persistent snare crunching. The noise that moves over it and the sometimes fascist ramblings of the vocalist create the kind of fear that only an epileptic thrust suddenly into a disco bash could feel. "Airplane" and "Flexi-Armadillo" fit this bill well, but there aren't just a few styles on this album. Nearly every song is unique and still Waiting for Armadillo sticks together more cohesively than rock opera. "Rode West" sounds like it belongs in some world filled with secretly perverted clowns and "Mexico" might as well be put in every raver's CD player as a means of terminally destroying their ability to dance and think. Both of them sound as though they were crafted from the same twisted brain and both serve the greater purpose of lifting Waiting for Armadillo far above the usual onslaught of pummeling sound and into another dimension occupied only by itself. 

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