Friday, 28 December 2007

NFR December Download


21 tracks, 72 minutes of demo mayhem it contains all these tunes by all these terribly fine soon to be popular beat combos:

Failure Mode – Twin Box Failure (Demo)
Working For A Nuclear Free City– Troubled Son (Working For A Nuclear Free City, Melodic)
Everyone To The Anderson – When Beasts Attack! (Doodlebug Ep, Toy Soldier Records)
Diagonal– Cannon Misfire (Demo)
Koala Part– You're Right There (Demo)
Voice Of The Seven Woods– The Fire In My Head (Voice Of The Seven Woods, Twisted Nerve)
Zettasaur– Grip Of A Caveman (Split 7", Signature Tune)
The Flesh Happening– Bleed (Single, Tamworth Records)
Hotel Wrecking City Traders – The Porch (Demo)
Blood Red Shoes– It's Getting Boring By The Sea (Blamma Blamma Remix) (Single, V2)
Transformer– Cinema Car (Long Version) (Demo)
Lonely Ghosts – Predictions (Split 7", One Inch Badge Records)
The Middle Computer– Fiction (Ultra Console Mayhem, Non-Applicable Records)
Pseudo Nippon - Fishlady (Demo)
The Hornblower Brothers – Android With A Heart (Demo)
The Melody, The Melodica And Me – Track One (Demo)
-A+M– End Up Like Superman (Dials, Lancashire & Somerset Song And Dance Society)
Woog Riots – Martial Arts (Demo)
Deliberate- XEXTXIX (Demo)
Wrath Of The Weak – Journey Of Many Days (Wrath Of The Weak, Bastardised)
Autumn Chorus - Remember The Dead (Demo)



Saturday, 22 December 2007

Top 50 Albums Of 2007

To say it's been one hell of a year is as understatement. What did I do? Got married, went on honeymoon, started NFR LIVE!, smashed up the BBC airwaves and won that competition, met, spoke to, shook hands with loads of incredible people who shall be named at a later date and listened to a huge amount of amazing music that shall be named now: >>>

50. Wooden Shjips – Wooden Shjips
Holy Mountain
Five tracks of throbbing kaleidoscopic weed-smoke drone that instantly find their groove in 'We Ask You To Ride', introducing an album that sits in the foggy headspace of 60's West-coast psych-rock, rolling around in the sun-baked blues trance for just over half an hour.

49. LCD Soundsystem – Sound Of Silver
In Sound of Silver James Murphy produced the perfect foil for his debut, incorporating all the heroes he baited his listeners for holding up on 'Losin' My Edge'. There's a lot of Bowie, Prince and Kraftwerk, there's a lot of funk, electro, post-punk and there's 'All My Friends', 'Us Vs. Them' and 'Watch The Tapes'.

48. PhosphorescentPride
Dead Oceans
Bonnie Billy this year? Not to worry, Phosphorescent man Matthew Houck picks up that battered country bleakness baton and, well, not so much runs off with it, but slouches onto the porch and sits picking out mournful sunset ballads to beckon the encroaching darkness.

47. Jonquil– Sunny Casinos
Try Harder
Oxford's Jonquil create a feral, fractured folk that's a bit mangy round the edges, scruffy like it's slept in the gutter for months. Barely-there vocals are set back into the mix, surrounded and supplanted by the rushing sounds of pianos, guitars, drums and percussive paraphernalia that add to the bare bones of some already wonderful tunes.

46. Mammatus– The Coast Explodes
Holy Mountain
After being underwhelmed with their previous self-titled album, this huge slab of heavy drone burst into my brain with the opening track 'Dragon Of The Deep Part Three (Excellent Swordfight)'. A totally storming monolithic album imbued with the perpetual brewing menace of black thunderheads on the horizon.

45. DungenTio Bitar
In a rougher, wilder, more atmospheric and eloquent record than its' predecessors Gustav Ejstes' fourth album at the helm of Dungen is a huge progression into his obsession with drawing out the psychedelic and harmonious elements of late 60's/early 70's errr…progressive rock.

44. Tomahawk– Anonymous
No more proggy metal for Tomahawk it seems, as Mike Patton looked to native American rhythms for Anonymous. In tracks like 'Ghost Dance' and 'Mescal Rites I', Patton, ex-Jesus Lizard Duane Denison and ex-Helmet drummer John Stainer interpret an entire culture of sound and add a modern surface of synths and riffs without undermining the natural feel of the source.

43. Bergraven– Dodsvisioner
Hydra Head
In a year where Xasthur was conspicuous by his absence of especially great records, Sweden's Bergraven stepped in with a second album to fill the claustrophobic labyrinthian breach. What Pär Gustafsson adds to the complex tapestry is taken from the forefather of Scandinavian darkness – Quorthorn – and welded to stomping, shrieking post-black metal shoegaze, prog-forest twists down shadowed paths and out into the slightly less well known.

42. Patrick Wolf– The Magic Position
Ex-Minty member Patrick Wolf brings a bit of the circus back with his third album. Wind In The Wires and Lycanthropy were acoustic folk inflected minor chord lamentations but this is him in full drag, upping the key and the drama, waltzing around in full technicolour glory.

41. MonotractTrueno Oscuro
A pestilent surge of debased feral rock and roll. Its noise clad to a striking form hammered out violently on drums and screwed up electronics, guitars dragging Neanderthal knuckles across the charred surface, weirdly effected vocals piercing through the miasma. But yeah, this is rock and roll for sure.

Blood Of The Black Owl- Blood Of The Black Owl
Glassthroat Recordings / Bindrune
Any album that has three minutes of distant wolves howling in the wind deserves attention. Or maybe it's the 74 minutes of relentless doom laden pitch black riffs surrounding it that can't be ignored. One of the two, or even both. Yup.

39. Bill Callahan – Woke On A Whaleheart
Drag City
Until I saw
Bill Callahan play at Green Man this year I'd never heard much Smog, despite friends best efforts. I don't know why I'd never really got into it before, because his performance was one that really tripped something in me and when he played 'Diamond Dancer' it instantly became one of my favourite songs of the year. 6 months of constant listening hasn't dimmed the magic.

38. Gui Boratto– Chromophobia
Brazilian producer makes psychedelic minimalist blog-house record of the year. Not that I'm totally sure what 'blog-house' is but it's a phrase that turned up all over the err..blogosphere this year. For an album with such a metronomic beat, this never gets dull, considering the label, due to the subtly produced constantly shifting scenery flowing past the gently pulsing engine.

37. Modeselektor– Happy Birthday
Ram-raiding through dance genres like nobodies business, and featuring the most impressive/disgusting belch on record, Modeselektor release a unique vision cast from acid-dub, trance, hip-hop, IDM, electro and well, whatever else you can pick out of it yourself really. Having worked together for 15 years, Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary pretty much know each other as intimately as any partnership and the results are fortunately, as much fun to listen to as they must have been to make.

36. High On Fire– Death Is This Communion
A band ostensibly formed as a platform for Matt Pike to volley forth riff after riff, High On Fire have suddenly become the consummate synthesis of the entire library of every discerning Metal fan. A blackened wasteland stalked by ferocious blood-thirsty beasts, of drawn swords and clashing steel, of chest-pounding aggrandisement and cosmic valour. Death, Black, Thrash, Power, Speed – this album has it all.

Earth– Hibernaculum
Southern Lord
Hex tried to twist the old Earth into an Americana like template of Western desert ragas but this is the full realization of that project. This reputedly began as a piano based album, with string embellishments gradually phasing out the key parts, but the timbres and tones of the guitars would have you think this could never have been cast from anything else. Gentle piano and two basses add to the long droning resonances plucked out from Dylan Carson's guitars while unobtrusive drums urge the pace along but never hurry it. Really something to get lost in the backwoods of your mind to.

Mammal– Lonesome Drifter
Animal Disguise
A record that is by turns ambient to the point of non-existence and cruelly harsh, Gary Beauvais seems to have created the sound of someone realizing that there is more to noise music than simply battering as hard as possible and twisting all the dials up to the max. It is nuanced, stark, spacious and breathes precious life into a genre littered with rotting carcasses and the stench of stale death.

33. Tivol– Interstellar Overbike
Last Visible Dog
Pedal to the metal leather-clad, diesel stinkin' Finnish freak-noise blasted out over two huge space-jams of cosmic disorder and intergalactic chaos courting. This record doesn't really let up in density at all, the only times the guitars part is to allow the synths to come strafing into the void with their lazer guided melodies.

32. Deepchord Presents Echospace – The Coldest Season
Modern Love
I'm still not sold on Burial. What I hear when I listen to Untrue is nowhere near as convincingly formed as this record.
Detroit based ambient-dub producer Rod Modell teamed up with Soultek's Steve Hitchell to create an analogue snowstorm of silent ambient static. The Coldest Season is made more of sensations than music, the first sign of a beat taking over four minutes to appear in opener 'First Point Of Aries' and over the course of the album their shadowy presence never builds into much more than fleeting glimpses through the blizzard.

31. Lietterschpich– I Cum Blood In The Think Tank
Heart & Crossbone
Rock and roll based noise has never been the same since Wolf Eyes tore it up so hard with Burned Mind a couple of years ago, but Lietterschpich have added an extra sort of turmoil to the mix – an element of humanity and vulnerability. Not the kind of things Wolf Eyes would ever allow to creep in.

30. Voice Of The Seven Woods - Voice Of The Seven Woods
Twisted Nerve
The debut album of the Manchester based Rick Tomlinson, is an electrically revved psychedelic mind-melter of a folk album. Coming off the back of several self-released 7"s and CDRs, it's a freakish hybrid of fuzz-tone guitars, acid acoustics, blown-out psych-rock and kraut rhythms that keeps burrowing its way further into my brain with each listen.

29. JohnnyTwentyThree- JXXIII
The only band JohnnyTwentythree really remind me of is Brighton's Revenge Of Shinobi, much moreso than Explosions In the Sky and those of the gentler end of the post-rock spectrum – the lightness and space, the shimmering gossamer tremolo, the peaks that dance on tiptoes, the intensity - though that's not to say this doesn't get dense. It does. Very. An hugely involving listen that can take ten minutes to build up into a throbbing crescendo, and on 'Ghost Soldiers' is holds that peak for another ten, raining sheer euphoria into the room over every second.

28. Caina– Mourner
Profound Lore
The work of the lone underground Sussex-based black metal visionary Andrew Curtis-Brignell, Mourner is a record of complex woven moods and sounds, taking black atmospherics into genuinely uncharted territories. All the hallmarks of raw turmoil are there in abundance, but few albums create such involving spaces to find yourself immersed in. Not surprisingly, the next album won't be out for another year – creating Mourner must have been an exhausting expenditure of energy and emotion.

27. Heavy Winged – On The Marble Cliffs
This is the first appearance of Heavy Winged in my list and this release is the most unfettered, noisy and downright unyielding of them all. Reasonably short by Winged standards, first track 'Concrete Glass' concludes after a bewildering six minutes of atonal scree and polymorphous feedback screeching. Very Japanese, but not in the least bit derivative, this trio do not normally go in for such furiously blown out indecipherable walls of noise but this is as in keeping with their greater vision as the beat driven shapes of the other two albums still to come.

26. Om– Pilgrimage
Southern Lord
This is not an album of music created through conscious thought and rehearsal, it is cosmic reverberation ciphered through human hands, already existing outside of the mortal sphere, the flesh a mere conduit for the galactic energies pooling themselves in the records grooves. Meditative and transcendental, Chris Hakius and Al Cisneros have locked into another set of super-massive riffs, and though it may not feature my favourite Om track (which would be 'Rays Of The Sun - To The Shrinebuilder' from the Current 93 split 10" Inerrant Rays Of Infallible Sun. Though Unitive Knowledge Of The Godhead comes a pretty close second) it does contain the most variety and depth of any of their releases so far.

25. Alcest– Souvenirs D'Un Autre Monde
Profound Lore
Alcest is the solo incarnation of Avignon based black metaller Neige - the guiding member of caustic outfit Peste Noir and the much lighter Amesoeurs. One of the most controversial releases this year,
Souvenirs D'un Autre Monde (Memories Of Another World) has received both rapturous and spiteful receptions from all corners of the metal world. It is principally a shoegaze album with heavy reference to bands like Ride and Slowdive – all clean vocals heavy with reverb and chorus, big cloudburst guitars, a wash of blissed out drone. No metal at all, except for the occasional, surprisingly deployed blast-beat that ripples underneath the hazy melodies.

24. Heavy Winged – We Grow
Not Not Fun
Probably the most beautiful looking record released all year, the deep heavy marbled blues of the vinyl resonated through into the music itself. A murky oceanic turbulence, the groaning of ships hulls, the clatter of collapsing rigging, strings dragging across wood, flesh caught in the centre, at the mercy of the elements imposing themselves on it's frail, vulnerable nakedness. Standing up to Heavy Winged without succumbing is an impossible feat.

23. Efterklang– Parades
The Leaf Label
Parades takes it's time in spreading the peaks and valleys across its entirety; the choral vocals swelling over the microfauna of strings growing out of the digital landscape, the euphoria naturally unfurling in an elegant display of restrained beauty. Some people are still making albums that aren't a collection of songs which have to show the bands full hand the whole time.

22. Panda Bear - Person Pitch
Paw Tracks
Panda Bear makes me tolerate the beauty in the Beach Boys harmonies because I don't have to think of Brian Wilson or Mike Love when I listen to them. Instead, I can get lost in the heavily reverb drenched delinquent psych-ragas of 'Bros' and Good Girl – Carrots' while anticipating the shadowy corners of 'I'm Not' with it's solemn Benedictine intro, a measured counterpoint to the playful acid contortions of the epic sprawl surrounding it.

21. The National- Boxer
Beggars Banquet
The National have in Matt Berninger the sexiest voice on record this year (as Mrs Meatbreak reminds me every time we listen). The most perfect drum sounds, clean guitar lines and memorable, achingly potent hooks combine with stunning lyrical imagery and story-telling into a smooth urban rock album similar to The Hold Steady though shorn of all the unkempt druggy religious iconography.

White Hills – Heads On Fire
Fuck Off & Di
Turn up, head down, trance off. Pretty much must be what the band ethic around the White Hills is every practice. Signed to Julian Cope's label they have put out three increasingly heavy albums of pure unrestrained drugged out Spacemen 3, MBV style freak-drone. The air at the edges of this record crackles with energy, a pulsing, persistent never-ending torrent of opiated luminescence. It's noisy, direct and it plays the best bits over and over and over and overandoverandoverandover…………

19. Gnaw Their Tongues – Spasming And Howling, Bowels Loosening And Bladders Emptying, Vomiting Helplessly
The complete synthesis of noise, metal and electronics, Gnaw Their Tounges epic soundscapes recall Atari Teenage Riot at their most pulverisingly, misanthropic severest, and Burning Star Core at their bleakest. Stretching the boundaries of speed and excess is what the lone Mories does best, but he breaks it up with haunting samples and entrancing drone. The complete works of the metal and extreme electronics communities bottled in one potent elixir.

18. Caribou– Andorra
At first this seemed like a similar album to Grizzly Bear's Yellow House and I never paid it as much attention as that, until one day something just popped around the first verse of 'She's The One' when Dan Snaith's voice breaks just a little and the strings are swelling up pretty behind him, then I was finished by the little chugging mandolin after the chorus. After that it seemed like some long lost Perfumed Garden relic and the rest of the album came into focus that beautifully realised.

17. Gravenhurst– The Western Lands
The thing I like most about this album is that I have no real idea of what it actually is. It is a music that defies easy categorization. Could it be post-folk? Who really cares when the music herein is of such luscious, melody oriented hues? The flickering instrumentation, the graceful lines, swallowed by ferocious feedback and volatile percussion reappear as dignified twilight acoustic tunes the other side of the fury. ="">It could all be quite confusing, were it not on Warp – a sign that something not quite of the ordinary is occurring.

16. The Twilight Sad – Fourteen Autumns And Fifteen Winters
With their full-force white-out guitars, cacophonous percussion, brusque Glaswegian accent and stories of children on fire The Twilight Sad are only a small side-step from fellow countrymen like Mogwai and Arab Strap. But there is a greater sentimentality working between the sheets of noise that does not just rely on the power of the music or the sinisterly day-to-day mundane recounted in the lyrics. It is traditional folk music filtered through nostalgia and modern cynicism plus a shit load of effects pedals giving it a unique aura and a unique voice.

15. Klaxons– Myths Of The Near Future
Polydor / Rinse
Forget all that crap about nu-rave and listen to Klaxons for what they really are: Not some scene inducing media glitch, but a legacy of post-punk's enduring aesthetic of fetishising sonic iconography and imbuing it with dangerous modern daring. They take their sound from sonic reverberations hidden in apocalyptic hieroglyphs, in demonic scripture, mythical rhetoric and human hedonism, binding them into an album that's a detailed ritual of progressive guitar dance. Who'd have expected that then Reynolds?

14. Wolves In The Throne Room – Two Hunters
Southern Lord
I made Wolves' debut album my number one last year and this is gifted with the same deftly deployed atmospheric brilliance as that, so the question I should ask is why isn't this as high in my list. It's not an enormous progression is the real answer. This is a subtle, nuanced reworking of a template which is pretty much theirs alone, but just as Mogwai and Godspeed emboldened their sounds with a more pronounced confidence after their debuts, so to have Wolves In The Throne Room.

13. The Angelic Process
- Weighing Souls With Sand
Profound Lore
After 9 years, The Angelic Process have come to an end with K.Angylus's broken hand sealing their fate. This album is as fitting an exit as any. With his wife, M, this mysterious couple forge harrowing romantic poetry from an almost impenetrable wall of feedback. Each song building swiftly, lifting from the spine of a slow metronomic drum beat, thick soft noise shrouding the ascent, vocals surfacing between the waves. A huge sound and hugely fulfilling experience.

12. Aluk TodoloDescension
Public Guilt
French black metal krautrock noise - a sub-genre containing surely only this one band. It must be the only black metal album to feature a slide blues guitar riff too. A deeply immersive experience that hisses through four James Plotkin mastered tracks, all heavy industrial clatter, dark ambience and teutonic groove. The sleeve credits only drums bass and guitar, but how they conjure the crumbling landslides collapsing all over this record with those three elements is a mystery and goes a ways to creating the aura pervading it.

11. 65 Days Of Static - The Destruction Of Small Ideas
A band that keep pushing to produce something new, creating new angles and opening up different headspaces, 65 Days Of Static are now on their high octane drum battery and hurricane force effects phase. One of the most carefully produced albums this year, the sound of each drum padding, thumping can be felt connecting solidly, the crackle and hum of impending guitars swelling like pregnant pauses fills the room before the peaks burst the calm apart. When it's quiet, it's very very quiet and when it's loud it's scary.

10. Deerhunter– Cryptograms
A noisy little acid-fried post-punk indie-disco comedown-meltdown bastard of a record. Like when Outhud flipped out all kaleidoscopic and made your eyes bulge, this is that all over again but with more tone wash and fuzzbox. Big lakes of ambience sit between the motorik riots, keeping them apart or there'd be bitchfight blood shed and this record never lets itself dip into the undignified (unlike Of Montreal, but that's a whole different thing). Until 'Heatherwood' drops it's shoulder at the end and comes right at you.

09. Bone Awl – Meaningless Leaning Mess
Klaxon Productions
This two piece have been going since 2002 but I only discovered them in February when they released their debut album Meaningless Leaning Mess. Their fourteenth release. Ridiculous! Seven demos, three eps and four split singles later they spit this violent ball of spiky fisted, black crusted metal spite out. It's not too different to the addictive canon preceding it, but it sees the production even more overdriven, blown-out, the buzz burning that much fiercer, the eyes stretched wider, more frenzied, ragged throat screeching that much coarser, cymbals splashing their tinny crashes that much shriller. And the world shrinks that much smaller. If it is actually possible, this one could be even faster too, getting through 18 blistering tracks of hyper kinetic lo-fi scree in 38 minutes. Buckle up cunts, things are about to get very grim indeed.

08. One Unique Signal – Tribe, Castle And Nation
One Unique Signal from Brentford, Essex; the grey-skied rain-cloud Stooges spinning off the dual axes of Joy Division and Spacemen 3. Bleak. Bleak, oppressive, the concrete walls of a city shot through with slices of light like gaps between buildings. Urban paranoia, environmental sickness, the threat of violence, the will to escape. Tribe, Castle and Nation embodies it all, releasing the bands' response to the oppressive through taught star-scraping drone rock, using angled breaks in rhythm like elbows in faces, a survivalists handbook to the mean streets.

Heavy Winged– Taking The Veil
Students Of Decay
First released in 2006 on Terrastock as a run of 20, then re-released on Students Of Decay who then only upped the run to 100, but it was enough to get them to my ears and this was my first encounter with a band that would consume me for the entire year. I blew the amp at The Greenhouse Effect at the first Not For Resale LIVE! with 'Through The Shimmer' and from there my relationship with this band was cemented. The other HW records in this list are dynamic in their own right, but this is an incredible trip over two near-half-hour tracks that suck the air from the room and the light from your eyes. And then it peaks. Holding it for 15 minutes, the driving surges buckle up into peaks, iridescent displays of showering feedback coursing from busted pedals, screeching through the wonky reels of an aging 4-track, driven by urgent propulsive drumming. Dance music for the fearless it is vital sounding and all-consuming to be in the presence of.

06. Cobalt– Eater Of Birds
Profound Lore
Holy shit, holy shit holy shit….Sometimes words fail and one is rendered a completely awestruck gibbering mess. After threatening their enemy with "One thousand strikes of the skull hammer" and leaving just a brewing tension between the drums and guitars the vocals drop back in on the appropriately titled 'Witherer' starting off a four minute build of searing tribal drumming that the guitars lock onto, layering up riff on riff, cruising at immense velocity, the vocals drawling in their guttural rasp. Absolutely do not fucking mess with this band. Ultra heavy is not all this album is. It contains three heavily effected, slightly disturbing acoustic passages all titled 'The Ritual Use Of Fire'. No need to expound on the importance of that element in its creative and destructive guises. Comprised of just two people – Erik Wunder on drums and Phil McSorely on guitar, both adding vocals – this is a primeval, primordial jam session of the most singularly minded crushing heaviness. Not only that, but it grooves so damn hard, reliant on the drums pushing the guitars on; it's a rarely heard interplay of the purest, most intimate form, that is invigoratingly world eating as a result.

05. Monsters Build Mean Robots - Monsters Build Mean Robots
Nice Weather For Airstrikes
The name is striking. Think about it for a while and it conjures a harrowing doom-laden image. Monsters Build Mean Robot's form of electronic oriented post-rock is formed of mostly instrumental songs with politically nuanced titles such as 'The Freedom To Fire Those Freedom Rockets', '' and 'Sometimes We Sit And Stare At Passing Tanks.' The intensity which that context lends the peaceful hum and whirr is palpable, becoming bolstered with guitars that really get noisy only the once for the peak of 'Chimes Break Through Light To Reach Us'. A truly powerful, graceful, restrained and haunting record.

04. Bon Iver– For Emma, Forever Ago
Justin Vernon abandoned his former band DeYarmond Edison and in the Winter of 2006 went out into a log cabin in the woods of Wisconsin where he lived for three months, keeping the fires going and spending long days considering his place in the world. Long recording sessions began and out of solitude and reflection came nine songs of brittle delicately anguished beauty. Lead by an arresting voice that sometimes feels awkwardly intimate, whispering close to your ear fears of frailty, inconsequence and vulnerability, this album captures on tape the sound of a soul wrestling with itself, the reverberations of the natural world and the quietude of life alone inside four wooden walls.

03. Future Of The Left– Curses
Too Pure
From the ashes of McClusky and Jarcrew rises a phoenix of bewildering shapes and sounds. Humorous, spiteful, vengeful and almost always obtuse, Curses is one of those albums that transcends the sum of its parts. Shouty angsty vocals with a comedian's timing, angular guitars driving like reckless yoof, broken fist pounded keyboards, create a whole with tangible character, harmonising vocals (anyone for a nice campfire round of "Colin is a pussy?") and songs that build into roaring stomping mechanistic beasts. Tracks like 'The Lord Hates A Coward' and 'Small Bones Small Bodies' grind forward, touching dancefloors, but most generally not giving much of a shit about anyone as they leave a trail of psychedelic devastation in their wake.

Wold – Screech Owl
Profound Lore
The village is in ruins and the shadows standing over the smolder hold swords burning red with fury. Opex on battle strings, Obey on scourge and Fortress Cookedjaw on poetry, vocals and devices. Twilight figures courting owls, dragons and cosmic energies. Fiercely intense, catastrophically harsh, this album is an expedition into some of the most unforgiving regions of sound imaginable. Taking the naturalistic form of BM to the furthest extremes they themselves say that "Wold venerate our ancestors and cultures through myth and existence, and remain open and reflective to other effective metaphors", whilst simultaneously deploying the Satanic element in another ideological statement; "Wold solemnly swear to adhere to the law of the Self" this band embody the truest essences of the genre whilst absolutely destroying it's legacy and creating a whole new one from critically red-lined fractured buzzing, festering riffs boiling under ragged shrieks and garbled incantations.

01. Of Montreal - Oh Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
Five pieces of advice that will probably improve Kevin Barnes' chances of maintaining a relationship with the opposite sex:
5) Don't call your relationships 'Love Projects'. I'm fairly sure that kind of language is a bit of a turn off.
4) No violence. Paying someone to batter your Ex is going to get you a reputation that you won't shake even with the help of the 'Booty patrol'. Vicarious battery is still battery.
3) Don't select your Love Projects on the basis of being high at a foreign festival and discovering you have both read the same book. More is required.
2) After a tiff, don't go off and console yourself with black metal. It won't endear you or make you mysterious; it'll makes you seem like a scary freak.
1) Generally, your relationships with girls will have a greater chance of succeeding if you are NOT A SCREAMING QUEEN! to begin with.


Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Not For Resale news

Not For Resale's November Download is up now:

With these songs:

Bon Iver – The Wolves (Act I And Act Ii) (For Emma, Forever Ago, Self-Released)
Medicine & Duty – Last Request For A Heretic (Clouds Burn Slowly, Foolproof Projects)
Musixux – No Chemistry (Demo)
Milk Jaggit – End Of Lake (Demo)
The Middle Computer – Electreau (Ultra Console Mayhem!, Non-Applicable Records)
The Cathode Ray Syndrome – Track One (Argh Ep Demo)
The Teenagers – Scarlet Johansen (7", Merok)
Lords Spiritual – Feel The Love (Demo)
Numbers – Kosmos Love (Now You Are This, Kill Rock Stars)
Duke Raoul – Flood Me With Kisses (Demo)
Jakobinarina – Do My Love (His Lyrics 7", Regal)
Hotpants Romance – Shake (It's A Heatwave, Big Print)
Gnaw Their Tongues – Nihilism; Tied Up And Burning (Spasming And Howling, Bowels Loosening And Bladders Emptying, Vomiting Helplessly, Self Released)
Die Zukunft – Noir (Demo)
Palm Springs – I Start Fires (I Start Fires 7", Random Acts of Vinyl)
Monsters Build Mean Robots – will I avenge or revenge? (Monsters Build Mean Robots, Nice Weather For Airstrikes)


NFR has also moved from Fitzherberts every other wednesday to the last Tuesday of every month at The Penthouse. Big Penthouse party launch for the new Not For Resale. Poster coming soon, but here's an advance of the details:

Not For Resale Relaunch!
NEW TIME: Tuesday 27th November
NEW VENUE: The Penthouse
Free entry
8pm – Midnight

Residents Meatbreak and Fokka Wolfe with Special Guest DJ's Old Mayor and The Dirty Socials!!!

PLUS: We'll be giving away speshul yoo-neek handmade NFR T-Shirts and CDs

Something to look forward to.


Friday, 2 November 2007

Stylus Eulogy / Obituary

This is an article which I wrote for the International Mixtape Project website. it should be up there in a few days. This is a sneak preview (mainly to test the html works)

Stylus Eulogy / Obituary

When I heard the news of Stylus Magazine’s closure it was from checking the website on Monday morning of the 29th October. It took me a little while to register as I scanned the blurbs of each feature, until I saw the little bar across the top of the page which announced, undeniably, that Stylus would no longer be publishing from Wednesday 31st October. A flicker of genuine grief rose in my chest, flashed red across my cheeks wavered against slight self-conscious embarrassment then sank quickly and heavily into my gut where it pulled and gnawed at the pit of it for pretty much the rest of the day. As much as I wanted to think they were faking their own death in some kind of crazy way-out-there Halloween feature, or just taking a hiatus to reemerge the other side of the year meaner, tighter, sharper than ever I had a harrowing feeling that this was it, and as the three days counted down and the final articles and thoughts appeared the truth sank in deep and clearly. We had made it to the end.

How could I have ever realized the extent of my affection for the site if it continued to exist? Quite simply, I would never have. I would have continued taking it for granted, cursing the reviews that countered my own feelings, flicking in and out of it during work hours to keep an eye on fellow commenters, slinging barbs and ill-formed ideology at chinks in arguments. I would have continued to half read reviews of albums that disinterested me simply through having a rubbish name, finding that many weeks later those same bands would reveal themselves to me, after which time I would return to the review, read it thoroughly and engage with the sentiments. A situation I now blithely refer to as the Pissed Jeans Effect.
So many writers with such a wealth of skill, knowledge and nuance behind the words, none of them chasing egos or out trying to claim badges of coolness. Though sometimes I was sure Dom Passantino and Alfred Soto were deliberately trying to anti-cool intimidate anyone coming within 20 feet of a haircut. Those were as marvelous pieces to read as the ones which conjured images, which provoked reaction, which plumbed the recesses of the author’s imaginations as well as the limitations of conventional journalism. Stewart Voegtlin produced a piece on Wold’s Screech Owl which reconfigured the album into a form and style you were unlikely to read on any other pop-culture website. Nick Southall wrote reviews with so much detail and observation you could read them over again and come out with new insights each time. Probably the greatest piece of writing to grace the site was Nicks. Imperfect Sound Forever made it into Da Capo’s Best Music Writing series, caused a complete furore in the comments box and influenced 65 Days Of Static in recording The Destruction Of Small Ideas. It is grandiose, but not inaccurate, to suggest that without Nick’s article this album would never have sounded so overwhelming. Todd Burns was right to open the Bluffers Guide with it, it is a remarkable piece of writing.

It wasn’t always the reviews and articles that were the most compelling feature of the site. The comments system was a playground for readers righteous, misrepresented and slighted to vent spleen against the music and writers; a place to offer words of praise and reinforcement in times of agreement. They allowed readers to claim a tiny slice of the site as their own, to leave their mark on it. A kind of reciprocal relationship formed over the years and whether that was Todd Burn’s intention when he took the risk of allowing comments he, perhaps unwittingly, created the environment for sentimental music freaks like me to end the life of the site sporadically welling up over the farewell articles. Derek Miller especially has a way of ending each year with a thoroughly heartbreaking piece of Year End Thoughts, but this Closing Time one? I was pure greetin’ into my mo(u)rning coffee. But before that, there were tears of mirth and some utterly insane exchanges courtesy of the enigma that was The Disexists until the whole commenting ball rolled into a head-on collision with Mr Burns as he slammed his iron fist down hard over Xmas 06 during the Top 50 Albums countdown. I have lots of people to thank on that site for adding extra discourse to the thought provoking material of the staff – namely GrandBanks, Florenz6, Raskolnikov, Terrorist (who just revealed himself as TheDisexists – that’s a shock), CWPerry, BoilingBoy – there’s loads more, but these are the names at the top of my head, and they all contributed to my experience of the site and kept me returning to it as more than daily routine. One of the ways I can tell I actually had some kind of relationship with it, was that Stylus even had the dubious honour of being one of the only sites I visited when drunk as evinced by several wayward and ill-conceived comments on my part. I think Bryan Berge took this one rather well. Apologies Bryan.

In David Moore’s ‘Pop Playground Sugar Shock #002: MySpacing, Part I’ (phew, some title), he introduced me to Brie Larson. Possibly the greatest pop star ever; most definitely my favourite. Even though, as far as I can tell, she never actually does much of the Pop bit. After Neon Bible came out she and I spent about a whole month slapping Arcade Fire lyrics on each other’s MySpaces, I sent her some stuff for her Bunnies and Traps and she even gave me a mention when she came back to Stylus for an interview. Very oblique mind, but then she’s that kind o’ gal.

One thing that always provoked strong reactions from the readers, and reminded me that we were always reading the work of people who knew an immense amount of music in detail were the Top Tens. Some of them were cruelly hilarious, especially the Friday ones which cut loose and really amused and antagonized. This one’s great in itself and for the comments underneath too: Top Ten Most Welcome Movie Deaths

Of all the articles posted on Stylus, probably the one that has the most lasting impact on me was the Shops We Love feature. Kind of useless to me being as most of them were based in the US, until I read about Aquarius Records. Thanks to one curious click I am now several notes shorter every month with a swelling collection of brain melting psychedelia of both the multicoloured and monochrome kinds.

I now realize I have so much to this site to be grateful for: Albums and bands Stylus has introduced me to over the years through reviews – mostly American bands that took another couple of years to really break into the UK music press, but which Stylus put me on to sooner - include, but is in no way limited to The Hold Steady, Of Montreal, The New Pornographers, Surkin, Wold, Ian Mather’s Goslings review was another benchmark, Gui Boratto, The Besnard Lakes, Birchville Cat Motel, Caribou, Richard Villalobos, Villains, Candy Bars, Isoleé, Horse Feathers, Wolf Parade.....Hundreds of intricate and thorough label profiles which placed them inside contexts and revealed the motivations and tribulations behind them including Anticon, Ajna Offensive, Aurora Borealis, Catbird, Kranky, the Universal Music Group, Rykodisc, Relapse, Facedown, Merge, Touch And Go, Violent Turd.....

And of course, I wouldn’t be a member of the International Mixtape Project today if it wasn’t for Rob Lott’s impassioned portrayal of Ryan’s baby.

The lists of everything Stylus has done for me could go on forever. But then, now rather, I realise they can’t because it is no more. A finite site cast adrift.

So Stylus, thank you and farewell. You were truly the greatest music website going and you will be sorely missed. Keep your archives alive as relic, legacy and testament to what should be achievable for those you have left behind and those that will be in the future.


Monday, 29 October 2007

RIP Stylus Magazine: 2002

Sad news today as possibly the best online music magazine shuts up shop with no new posts as of the 31st October. As much as I like to think they are faking their own death and will reemerge the other side of the year meaner, tighter, sharper than ever I have a harrowing feeling that this really is the end.

The magazine? Stylus.

For those of you that don't know it, and those of you that do they have posted a Bluffers Guide To Stylus Magazine: 2002 - 2007

Being in a mild state of shock and a far inferior writer to errr..most? (haha) of the Stylus guys and gals I'll let you read about it all yourselves in their words. Seriously, some of the writing on this site has been as inspirational as anything I have ever read, coming from some of the most informed, passionate and measured music journalists around. I have no idea why Pitchfork is ever indulged more publicity than Stylus. One of the things most attractive about it is that there was never any ivory-tower attitude with it being one the very few sites with the balls to allow comments underneath all the reviews and features opening discourses in which writers were harried as much as they were congratulated. The range of music the site covered, the depth of features, occasional bouts of lunacy which affected it from time to time, the knowingly reader-baiting articles and both the authority the writing commanded and the antagonism it provoked were all second to none - an immense achievement.

Anyway, enough from me.

RIP Stylus. You will be sorely missed.

The Freedom To Fire Those Freedom Rockets

Monsters Build Mean Robots
Monsters Build Mean Robots
Nice Weather For Airstrikes!

Subtleties make violence poignant, otherwise it’s just brute and unsexy.

Late one night, or early one morning, it was around that indefinable time – the comedowning hour - two friends played Grand Theft Auto with the sound off and this album playing at a perfect volume over the top. There were no noises of gunfire or tyres screeching; the mood was of affectingly merciful numbing slaughter, the victims sank slowly to the ground, hugging the floor in grateful complicity. As the avatar solemly paced the streets, the electronic paranoia hummed about us in one of those druggy moments of sheer coherence, sonic effervescence fluttering around our peripheral consciousness, the soft patter of failing beats like the hearts on screen, sinking into oblivion, washed over with a dusky reverie, a half light encroaching from outside echoed the eerie sounds crawling from the speakers into our slowly numbing headspace.

Sometimes We Sit And Stare At Passing Tanks

Nobody is writing any protest songs any more. Or rather, nobody writes any good ones. Nobody is writing songs about the war. Or rather, nobody writes any good ones. Radiohead are the most mainstream act to have come close, but their oblique strike missed its mark, coming wrapped not in a conical steel skin or sharpened blade that the masses could relate to but in obtuse ambience, hanging it’s sombre shoulders under the weight of others guilt. Monsters Build Mean Robots sound brings much of what made Amnesiac and Kid A such controversially engrossing experimental listens to the fore and submerges the guitars into rhythmic currents that flow underneath, supporting the body of the machine as it clicks whirrs and rumbles inexorably onwards

The muted pneumatics of the opening Do Uncles Dream Of Electric Kids? crumble into the softly crunching beats of Stroll Into Flames To Find Self and slowly the guitars begin to reveal themselves like analogue rays slicing through digital mist, slow-motion solar flares engulfing the shadows, shuffling beats flitting past causing eddies to suck in their wake; a dynamic exemplified in Chimes Breakthrough Light To Reach Us which sounds like a less tangible Errors or much of the Leaf Label, they release themselves, breathing in long, heaving rhythms, reverb drenched vocals ushering in a climax of ringing tones that gradually shimmer into aching view. The Freedom To Fire Those Freedom Rockets employs similar ambience to Mogwai’s Come On Die Young, delicate strands of guitars gracefully moving through a liquid darkness, delayed ring modulation pealing off in ripples from the core. The trippingly clipped Will I Avenge Or Revenge? recalls 65 Days Of Static at their most pensive and restrained, but this never bursts into such cacophonous territories as they do, it’s contemplative nature occupying a region neither of the aforementioned post-rock pioneers have quite broached as effectively as Monsters Build Mean Robots.

How politicised can a mostly instrumental album be? The track titles convey enough of a sense of the incensed that the setting against music of such serene composure imparts the greater horror of being thoroughly chastised by someone remaining totally calm – far more intimidating than an enraged castigation. The final track asks Shall I Fill With Air? To which the reply must question: Is it to unleash the most withering of frustrated screams, or is it to float away into the pre-umbral ether of oblivion?


Caged Faced Weirdos

Robot Ninja Dinosaur Bastards – Subhumanoid Meltdown
Wrong Music

It’s been a long time coming and it’s only available on CD and download rather than 12” vinyl as expected but the full length album from Brighton’s Robot Ninja Dinosaur Bastards has arrived, and it has two intros! The first details the formation of mutant reptilian killing machines through a splicing of Terminator, Robocop and Killer Klowns From Outer Space samples (I think); the second, like an intermission to all the sordid gut churning B-movie sci-fi films that spawned this beast, is the trademark live show intro with cut up Jurassic Park audio and the theme tune that is slowly enveloped by The Demonsaur TECH 2001’s (Yeah, you read right) metal guitar version, electronics and beats coming in over the top before it’s totally consumed by the Bastard template of jittery cheapo gabba and speed metal riffing. I said template – they deviate from their own as much as they deviate from the rest of us and because they play by no rules the only thing they’re likely to break will be your legs. In fact, they have a song about it. Called Break His Legs. But don’t let that distract you; There’s some well produced hi-fidelity crunching, thumping and dexterous sound manipulation going on in here too courtesy of E. ROBOT 209, which, by virtue of their more than capable glitch-core, is how they came to be subsumed into the Wrong Music canon sitting alongside the haphazard and dangerous noises created by label boss Shitmat and the likes of DJ Scotch Egg, Ebola, Ladyscraper and Nailbomb Cults. Lyrically, there are few more debased that this band; Cyborgosaurus T-1999 tells of high speed disemboweling, decapitation, filling cavities with vomit and bodily waste, animal mutilation and drug abuse in a manic fever of hysterical shrieking – no, not shrieking, it’s something much more worrying than that, hell even the dude from Candlemass doesn’t have lungs this tight and no way does he spit this fast with as much wide-eyed insanity. Grind bands like Cannibal Corpse and Gorerotted plough their visceral furrow of horror-flick style violence through a purely intense heavy death/thrash formula whereas the Robo Ninjas straddle metal and gabba techno without settling into any kind of genre groove for too long. It’s like 3 technologically savvy apes infected with a Namco patented Rage virus. Come And Get Demented With The Dino Bastards starts with a filtered warehouse air-horn sound that pans about in stunted blasts before the beats drill through the centre of it. For all of 10 seconds it congeals into something danceable. You’ve got to be quick if you want to throw some dignified shapes to this. E-Robotika brings things down to a melodic level and it’s actually quite pretty in places but the scattershot effects and clipped beats don’t keep it that way for long.

They reckon it all sounds like “That bit in Robocop 2 when the little kid saws all his limbs off”, but I’m not so sure. To me it’s more like the bit in Terminator 2 when Sarah Connor dreams she’s at a kids’ playground and gets her flesh blasted off by an atomic bomb. Yeah. That’s exactly what it’s like.


Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Lyrics like these are the reason I never bother

Of Montreal
The Past Is A Grotesque Animal
Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?

Lyrics by Kevin Barnes

the past is a grotesque animal
and in its eyes you see
how completely wrong you can be
how completely wrong you can be

the sun is out
it melts the snow that fell yesterday
makes you wonder
why it bothered
i fell in love
with the first cute girl that i met
who could appreciate Georges Bataille
standing at a Swedish festival
discussing "story of the eye"
discussing "story of the eye"

it's so embarrassing to need someone like i do you
how can i explain?
i need you here
and not here too..
how can i explain
i need you here
and not here too

i'm flunking out, i'm flunking out
i'm gone, i'm just gone
but at least i author my own disaster
at least i author my own disaster
performance breakdown
and i don't wanna hear it
i'm just not available

things could be different
but they're not...
things could be different
but they're not

the mousy girl screams "violence, violence!"
the mousy girl screams "violence, violence!"

she gets hysterical
cause they're both so mean
and it's my favorite scene
the cruelty's so predictable
makes you sad on the stage
though our love project has so much potential
but it's like we weren't made for this world
though i wouldn't really wanna meet someone who was

do i have to scream in your face?
i've been dodging lamps and vegetables
throw it all in my face
i don't care-
let's just have some fun
let's tear the shit apart
let's tear the fucking house apart

let's tear our fucking bodies apart,
let's just have some fun

somehow you've red-rovered
the Gestapo circling my heart
and nothing can defeat you
no death, no ugly world
you've lived so brightly
you've altered everything

i find myself
searching for old selves
while speeding forward
through the plate-glass of maturing cells

i fed the unraveller
the paw hellion
but even apocalypse is fleeting
there's no death, no ugly world
sometimes i wonder if you're mythologizing me
like i do you
apologizing me like i do you

we want our film to be beautiful
not realistic
see me in the radiance of terror dreams
you can betray me
you can, you can betray me
teach me something wonderful
crown my head crown my head
with your lilting effects
project your fears onto me
i need to view them,
see there's nothing to them
i promise you there's nothing to them

i'm so touched by your goodness
you make me feel so criminal
how do you keep it together?
i'm all, all unravelled
but'cha know
no matter where we are
we're always touching by underground wires

i've explored you with the detachment
of an analyst
but most nights
we've raided the same kingdoms
and none of our secrets are physical
none of our secrets, are physical
none of our secrets, are physical now

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Meat + NFR on the BBC

I'm on BBC 6 Music radio tonight - this Sunday - from 8pm. They'll be broadcasting an interview with me and playing my 1 hour mix of electro-indie and Brighton bands, either 8-9 or 9-10pm. Not For Resale has been entered into a competition. There's 2 dj's every Sunday for 4 weeks battling for a prize of a DJ set at Summer Sundae in Leicester or Indian Summer in Glasgow, then I guess 4 in the final in July with people voting again and the top 2 winning. I think I could do a lot of damage with a set at a festival so I’m kind of wanting to win now – at least the first round any way – I’m up against someone from Cambridge. I’m not sure what would happen to the world order if Brighton lost to Cambridge in a DJing competition, but it can’t be good.

Here's the URL to the BBC 6 website so you can stream it if needs be:

It is a competition, so I am requesting your votes. Out of pity for my terrible interview probably - I don't imagine negative mono-syllabic answers translate well on air, but I’m sure it will be funny if not simply humiliating.

You can text on 64046, or email them at, or leave comments on their website. Maybe I’ll give a prize to the person who rips me apart the best. Or is the nicest, obviously.

You can stream it all week and vote until next Friday

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

I guess it's should be for good this time

This pain is getting extrememly tedious now. It's slightly concerning when the Dr tells me that at 25, I shouldn't be getting gout and am too young, but then does not seem especially mostivated to find out why I might be getting it. 2 years later, as a 27 year old, I am still considered too young to be getting it, but attack it does and today is especially painful. Maybe it was the coffee I had at the weekend. Surely not though, really. Despite my intense regime of healthy eating and drinking having slipped away to almost 0% of my lifestyle nowadays, compared to this time last year when it was all soya milk, no wheat, endless fruit and veg juices and careful eating, I still rarely ever drink alcohol or eat meat - the two traditional ingredients of causation.

So, what the fuck, yeah? Maybe it takes about a year for all the acid to build back up in my system enough to cripple me like this. Pain has been hovering round my feet for the best part of a month now, on and off, and this time it is ON!

Back on the intense regime again I guess, and I guess it's should be for good this time, since giving it 16 months didn't permanently purge it. Looks like this is how it's going to be.

Rock and fuckin' roll.

Thursday, 5 April 2007

Hair Raising

Since this is still by far and away the greatest album i heard from last year, here's my review of it again for anyone who needs something new and exciting in their lives.

Wolves In The Throne Room
Diadem Of 12 Stars
Vendlus Records

Living in a self sufficient commune outside Washington USA, eschewing pantomime corpse paints and the distracting regalia of weaponry and spikes, Wolves In The Throne Room are not your regular black metal band. Perfect black metal in fact and their music is no less rebellious towards the genre.

Whilst there are many bands honing the form, creating equally masterful and progressive recordings (see USA’s Leviathan, Sweden’s Watain and Woods Of Infinity, UK’s Anaal Nathrakh and Axis Of Perdition, France’s Blut Aus Nord and Deathspell Omega for examples of how to push the limits of a genre), the continual adherence, even amongst most of these aforementioned bands, to sartorial and musical codes needed a radical shift in attention. For a genre so concerned with rebellion, adherence of any kind should be strictly outlawed, but such is the way of things that the scenes within black metal increasingly constrict themselves and disregard too much which they consider ‘untrue’. This is where Wolves In The Throne Room come in.

With two equally mesmerizing demos behind them, it was with great anticipation that I awaited the album proper, to see what this band could achieve in such a formal setting. From the highly atmospheric, misty forested cover and the scenes depicted on the sleeve, it was clear that this would be something else entirely, including as it does, ‘The Queen Of Borrowed Light’ from the second demo. The shortest song on here is 13 minutes, dead on, which tells you how grand a scale this band work on; cinematic, operatic but deadly serious and not prone to posturing theatrics, this album covers a huge amount of musical ground, seamlessly incorporating Norwegian droning, flights of technical fancy and grinding segments into songs that undulate like rivers, ghosting through the misty forests of the cover art. The album, whilst tense, nervy and aggressive, conjures a pagan, earth-worshipping atmosphere that is being slowly eroded from the black metal field to be replaced with head down violence of the likes of Black Witchery and Revenge and the necrotic filth churned out by the Finnish hordes of bleakness. More akin to Negura Bunget and Drudkh in spirit – the eastern European forms – where spiritual, naturalistic elements are the higher concerns. The force of Gaia is represented on this album through the presence of female vocals from Jamie (this band only ever use first names, real ones at that, not stage names – Aaron on drums, Rick and Nathan on guitars and vocals). Female vocalists are becoming popular in the more Death-oriented forms of metal, much rarer in black metal and their presence here is striking. Not only does the sound of them – ethereal, ephemeral, sleepily intoned, rising high over the surging motorik riffing – contrast with the caustic shrieking of Nathan and the more guttural vocals of Rick, but they represent the harmony of the earth, echoing the cyclical, sexual nature of the world, of birth, nurturing and creation. They are beautiful. A word rarely used with this form of music, and not in a sexual as in lusting, fucking beauty either, for they are too innocent, too pure and they don’t convey a human sexuality, more an angelic presence watching over the maelstroms of noise beneath, occasionally being smothered as happens in life, then returning wings unfurling, majestic, exuding femininity amongst the masculine energy as she sings of her “Heart beating against the soft rush of the river”. A section of acoustic guitar breaks up In A Night Time Mirror Part 1melting away Jamie’s vocals before being consumed by a violent storm as the electrics strike up and the drums come thundering in.

Nathan and Rick’s vocals are not excessively harsh, not high in the mix, not overbearing. Instead they sit gently amongst the guitars and drums, themselves not overly intrusive, so that the whole thing drifts along, dreamlike. They are strong and forceful, especially in Face In A Night Time Mirror Part 2 where after a suitably entrancing drone accompanied by a grave vocal undercurrent from guest singer Dino, the drums pick up into a forced march and the rhythm quickens; guitars clang and reverberate, panning out into a blissful vista where Nathan slowly screams through gritted teeth “Death was my angel”; a wraith like entity already dead, thanking its’ maker for putting it at peace with itself.

This album is elemental; conjuring spirits and evolving scenes of wilderness, the effect being to make the listener small and insignificant in its presence as if staring up from the foot of a mountain, yet the blood surging through the epic choruses embolden and energise. A return to the ancient sounding BM of old, quite unlike the current breed of destructive misanthropic bands seeking to annihilate and bludgeon everything in their path. Diadem Of 12 Stars is a life spirit, not a death spirit, astral and regal, as the title suggests, not of the earth, the bowels, fire and horror. With no blastbeats and no evilness, what makes this Black Metal at all? It is good to remind oneself that is while listening to this, as there is nothing quite like it around. It may be that with genrefication so acute nowadays, that this band can be considered Post-Black Metal, in the same way that Slint and Mogwai helped forge the term Post-Rock out of the shogazery noise bands.

The title track – (A Shimmering Radiance) Diadem Of 12 Stars – begins with guitars softly intertwining, shrouded in distortion, breaking into gulps of drum beats as crushing guitars crash in and out, the air in between adding weight. Slowly the density drifts apart, a shimmering guitar line slicing through the space, increasing in intensity before bursting into hammering lunges careening towards a thundering section where Jamie and Nathan sing together, one shining light, the other sucking it away. Drums roll turbulently across the churning guitars with the pressure increasing and dispersing like wind, the tone lowering into minor keys and the atonality veering off into soaring near-melodic passages. The lead guitar picks up for a brief moment as the rhythm gets choppy; crunching and biting into the drums, peaking with a sole high note then instantly descending into a funereal stomp with Nathan gradually increasing the strength of his guttural noises until real words gush out, space opening up in the music to allow him through. The drums gather pace as Jamie comes in, effortlessly shifting the album into the realms of spirituality with her softly gliding vocals, then slowly recedes into the shadows. The drums strike up again, cantering forward and the guitars give chase, thrashing and lashing out, though the ambience has shifted and a rising melancholy begins to creep in, sensing an end to things. Harsh screaming vocals bear down on the music, sweeping it aside as the track slowly fades out to the end. It is an exhausting and exhilarating piece of music, not unlike a Godspeed You! Black Emperor movement.

Which brings us neatly to the point where I started. The essence of Black Metal has always been a rejection of wasteful peripheral materialism and distracting influences, of rejecting normalities and dogmatic instruction, of free spirits and the value of individual expression. The old order has been deposed. The wolves are in the throne room