31st October, 2008

LAST STAND is the sound of My Bloody Valentine’s melancholia epic Loveless desolately crawling into its last bar, ordering its final whiskey and drinking itself into a heartbroken oblivion.

And it’s bloody brilliant. Tenebrous Liar has created an album which deliberately slows down time to an agonising wasted stagger, and then ruthlessly strangles you. ‘One Way Lone’ and ‘All That You Know’ sneer at you as the devastating distortion and lonesome, what-the-fuck-is-the-point-of-it-all vocals mercilessly drag you into a state of total despair; ‘Pretender’ is the kind of blues-stained morose rock that you’d find in a dilapidated New Orleans garage; ‘Last Stand’s tortured screams and painfully tuneful feedback take a full eleven minutes to collapse into a sorry, lifeless heap of worthless nothingness. This kind of thing should come with a health warning.

9/10

Published in Student Direct, November 2008 http://www.student-direct.co.uk/2008/11/tenebrous-liar-last-stand/

24th February, 2008

GET PAST some of the, frankly dire, lyrics (i.e. ‘Lights Out’) and the “we-re going to rule the world with our adrenaline pumping, sing-a-long choruses” attitude, and you have here a very good record in your hands.

primitai-through-the-gates-of-hellImpressive and useful lead guitar is abundant, and even those of the “no solos” persuasion surely can’t help but allow their anti-technical-talent hearts to admire this. ‘Deathhammer’s angular, Exodus-esque rhythms (these guys have certainly picked the right influences) and powerful and energetic drumming combine with an awe-inspiring harmonized solo, which, again, actually contributes to the song to create a candidate for huge pits, despite the lack of heaviness which normally comes with a metal release. Great fun for those who just want to jump around and play air guitar, but those who prefer their metal to be more, well, intelligent, then this is best missed.

5/10

Published in Student Direct, March 2008

3rd February, 2008

IF YOU loved ‘No One Knows’ by Queens of the Stone Age, and longed for the rest of Songs for the Deaf to be like that song, then you’ll probably enjoy Mexicolas. Only probably, because aside from three great songs, X has some irritatingly average ones.

The band set the bar too high for themselves with ‘Times Infintiy’,Come Clean’ and ‘Shame’, and the remaining ten songs don’t even finish the run up. ‘Big in Japan’s lyrics are strewn with cringe-worthy rhymes, and songs such as ‘Evil’, which do have half-decent ideas, run out of steam very quickly. That said, if you just want something simple to jump around to, then this should be your first stop in 2008.

6/10

Published in Student Direct, February 2008

2nd December, 2007

‘I WANT everyone to stop pretending’. There is only so many times that you can repeat that lyric before it becomes justifiable to phone the singer, arrange a meeting and ram it down his throat, and after listening to the rest of the EP, a dictionary of rhyme as well.

‘Still’ also annoys me irritating; bashing an E powerchord for one minute does not make a good intro, and the vocals really do sound like he’s suffocating on something. There’s a lot of alternate picking for riffs on this EP, and for someone who wants to be challenged by music, this isn’t nearly enough. ‘Bombs’ is probably the most enjoyable on here; a decent lead, decent melody, decent riff. But that’s another problem with this, its components are either only decent or provoke wonder as to how they ever got off the production line.

1/10

Published in Student Direct, December 2007

29th September, 2007

A BLISSFULLY peaceful journey from start to finish, this latest offering from Mark Knopfler, the voice and guitar of Dire Straits, is another showcase of the man’s Homeric ability to weave a fine tapestry of vivid storylines and colourful characters over a lush fabric of beautifully haunting music.

kill-to-get-crimsonThis album contains, without a doubt, some of Mark Knopfler’s best work. The ‘Scaffolder’s Wife’ tells the tale of a hard working yet gracefully ageing woman over the backdrop of gorgeous flute and guitar duets. The wistful ‘In the Sky’ floats along over 7 minutes with a beautiful saxophone lead. The more upbeat ‘Punish the Monkey’ features some heavily Hank Marvin influenced melodies and a surprisingly catchy chorus.

Each of these songs perfectly displays Mark Knopfler’s well-established gift for melody and, above all, rarely does this talented guitarist wander off on a tangent. Leads and solos are always constructed with the intent of adding something to the song, rather than simply displaying talent. His ability is instead displayed in the wide variety of musical inputs; the Celtic jig and accordion of ‘Let It All Go’, which tells the story of a painter passionate about colour, and the ‘Fish and the Bird’s fiddle, which combines with some beautiful crescendos and diminuendos to leave the listener tingling.

However, there is a distinct lack of variety here. Whilst many of Mark Knopfler’s albums are largely populated by downbeat numbers which skillfully avoid being melancholy, here the balance is tipped too far. Whilst it does have the result of forcing you to listen carefully to the intricate details in order to firmly establish the differences to the songs (not a bad thing), the base similarities can become tiresome.

Kill to get Crimson is one of those slow-burning albums that quietly creeps up on the unconscious mind, subtly establishing itself as soft, delicate gem. Variety may be a problem for some people, but for fans of the man, this is just an extension of an ever impressive and consistent catalogue.

7/10

Part of my application for the position of Music Contributor for Student Direct, September 2007