Posts Tagged “Off Kilter”

Jagged Vision: friends in the right places

They play scintillating sludge mashed with heavy hardcore and come Kylesa-approved. Jagged Vision, you’re doing it right.

As vocalist Ole Wik puts it, “things have gone from zero to a hundred, really quickly.” That’s because a few short months ago, the Jagged Vision frontman and his bandmates – drummer Joakin SvelÂ, bassist Kato AustrÂtt and guitarists Harald Lid and Daniel Vier – were languishing in obscurity. Oh, sure, there was the occasional unearthing of their off-kilter brand of upbeat stoner rock/sludge core in and around the venues of western Norway, and you might even have seen someone strolling the streets of Stavanger decked out in one of their shirts, but it’s not like they were on the lips of many more folks beyond that. Until, as Wik explains, Daniel met Kylesa’s Phillip Cope.

“Daniel was a roadie for Kvelertak on their first international tour which was with Converge and Kylesa. From there, he got to know Phil.” Dan and Phil got along and Jagged Vision were looking for a producer to record their debut full-length, so a plan was hatched for the band to trek from Stavanger to Columbia, South Carolina and record at the Jam Room, the studio where the Kylesa man works when he’s not on tour. It was after spending two weeks in Columbia that Phil approached the quintet with the idea of signing to Retro Futurist, the boutique label he was assembling with fellow Kylesa-ians Laura Pleasants and Carl McGinley.

“At the time, we didn’t even know he was planning to start a label!” exclaims Wik. The result is Harvest Earth, the release of which was preceded by a month-long European tour featuring Jagged Earth and fellow Retro Futurist act, Sierra, supporting Kylesa. Not bad for a band who started playing ìsimplistic hardcore punkî and only got into ìstoner, doom and Black Sabbath when [they] got older. “That scene is really small here,” adds Daniel. “The band Purified In Blood are awesome and have been around forever, but it’s mainly just a group of long-haired dudes hanging around listening to loud music, so we’ve always looked to the UK and US for inspiration.”

The combination of the members’ hardcore roots and recent obsession with all things bearded, bare-chested and bong-watered gives Harvest Earth a unique edge as socially conscious shouting meets clipped ‘n ‘crunchy power chord progressions and boogie blues.

“Coming from a hardcore punk background, our lyrics will always have meaning. Harvest Earth is about how humanity exploits everything and us being five clueless dudes who feel we don’t fit in,” Wik laughs. “Going from hardcore to what we do now, we approached our music with a different mindset. The outcome is different and I can’t really put a finger on a band that sounds like us. I’m not even sure if what we do would be considered stoner or doom!”

Harvest Earth is out now on Retro Futurist

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As the hometown of bands like Nachtmystium, Avichi, and Twilight, Chicago is no stranger to weird, off-kilter black metal, and it’s no surprise to see a project like Surachai spring up amidst the ashes. As the sole vision of tech wizard Surachai Sutthisasanakul, Surachai incorporates elements of noise, electronic, industrial, and ambient music into its black metal foundation. The three tracks that comprise “Embraced” span almost 35 minutes, and mark the beginning of a new chapter in Surachai’s musical odyssey.

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Guitarist Max Lussier of Canadian death metal act Derelict has posted the following blog online discussing the Montreal metal scene:

“Very often in life we ask ourselves or others how we are influenced by our surroundings. This is true in many walks of life. Our surroundings affect how we dress, what music we listen to and many other things too numerous to list properly right now. As someone who writes music, in this case death metal music, I have to say that my surroundings have had a great impact on my playing and songwriting.

“We in Derelict are very fortunate to call Montreal home. Montreal is a very lively and artistic city where you can attend some sort of artistic performance or live a nightlife experience pretty much any night of the week. It’s also a fairly unique city in that the French and English languages live in relative harmony. What is also true about Montreal is that it has a world-class metal scene.

“When I was a young teenager and discovering the heavier arts, some of the bands I stumbled upon after the Big 4 were Iced Earth, Opeth, Death, Arch Enemy and Deicide. I was off to a good start when I saw someone mention Cryptopsy in a magazine (that’s right, metal sites were not as common back then). My friend Pat and I first listened to the song ‘White Worms.’ I couldn’t believe that this type of brutal music even existed, let alone that the band was from my hometown! After that life-changing event it didn’t take long for me to realize just how much of a brutal bastion of metal this city really was.

“Years later it’s very easy for me to cite a bunch of local bands who have had a tremendous influence on me and other members of Derelict past and present. I don’t know if it’s because of Voivod, but Quebec metal bands, many of which are from Montreal, often seem to have either a technical, progressive or off kilter approach that give it a distinctive sound. Some bands, like Gorguts, even venture into the avant-garde category, literally reinventing how they played their guitars as they went along. This alongside other influences from the United States and Europe have now made Montreal a more diversified metal juggernaut, with famous bands like The Agonist, Blackguard, Beneath the Massacre and the recently defunct Despised Icon all making waves in their respective styles. While that is happening you have bands like Neuraxis, Unexpect, Martyr, Augury that keep pushing their own boundaries. The underground is also kicking it pretty hard with bands like Beyond Creation, Endast, First Fragment, Self-Collapse, Impalement, The Unconscious Mind and many more playing local shows seemingly every week.

“The speed, relentlessness and jarring musical direction this city harnesses has resonated in Derelict as well. The eerie tones and chaotic rhythms of our brethren and metal forefathers seem to creep through our songs (or at least some of the ones I write). We are often told that we have the “Montreal” sound. I for one embrace it and am very proud of the strong metal tradition of my hometown. Vive le métal!”

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I love how people in one breath can criticize Dream Theater for being too full of themselves, but those same exact people will literally break into a sweat in anticipation of Unexpect and their latest album Fables of the Sleepless Empire. Am I the only one who sees the blatant hypocrisy in the modern metal scene with all of this? Traditional prog metal is reserved for those of their niche and the mainstream, but when it comes to the underground scene, the more bizarre the better, the more off kilter in technical proficiency the better, no matter what. I never really caught onto this.

I’ll throw out my to the point opinion of this album to make myself perfectly clear: Fables of the Sleepless Empire is pretentious silliness. And what’s worse, is that this album isn’t even original, it’s a combination of KMFDM and folky female vocal stylings, and ripped off Sikth riffs and harsh vocals. Their attempt at originality is to add a quirky gypsy folk vibe, but this has been done by Diablo Swing Orchestra much better. I won’t say this is an insult to art, because I believe the artists themselves believe in what they do, and for that, I commend them, but there is little redeeming value in this music. Where I will not stray from common belief, is the level of talent the band possesses. This is an album chalk full of outrageous instrumentation that seeps from it’s every pore, but just having talent does NOT make for a good album. Throwing together noodily moment after noodily moment does nothing to add substance to the overall feel of the album, whether it be the lyrical story, the melodies, the aggression, epic-arch if applicable; nothing can be accentuated on an album that blasts it’s listener with a wall of riffs without any kind of bonding agent. What makes progressive music progressive isn’t just the original take on a band’s technical capacity, but also the way the band interprets their riffs. What made Dream Theater stalwarts of prog metal wasn’t because they were just technical masters, but rather they were able to tell amazing stories with their riffs and melodies, they don’t just blanket their albums with senseless wankery (some would disagree with me, but again, these are the same people who would praise Unexpect for some strange reason).

I saw Unexpect live a few years ago in Worcester, and they were easily the worst live act of the evening, and it’s due entirely to the fact that they try to shove way too much into their songs! You can’t appreciate anything this band does, because you are forced to move on to the next riff before you can absorb what just ran through your brain. Unexpect needs to slow down, and realize this isn’t a competition. Thrash in the 80′s suffered from trying to out-do their peers with speed, today’s fixation on technical wizardry is no different. Calm down, enjoy the music, your creative center will thank you.

EH…

Similar Artists: Diablo Swing Orchestra, Sikth

1.     Unsolved Ideas of a Distorted Guest
2.     Words
3.     Orange Vigilantes
4.     Mechanical Phoenix
5.     The Quantum Symphony
6.     Unfed Pendulum
7.     In the Mind of the Last Whale
8.     Silence this Parasite
9.     A Fading Stance
10.     When the Joyful Dead are Dancing
11.     Until yet a few more Deaths do us Part

Syriak     Guitars, Vocals
ChaotH     Bass
Landryx     Drums
Artagoth     Guitar, Vocals
Blaise Borboen-Leonard     Violin
Leïlindel     Vocals

Ascendance Records

http://www.myspace.com/unexpect

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deadheroesclub_atimeofshadow

Technicality and elegance amongst the progressive elite didn’t start in metal, and in fact, all of the hallmarks that make progressive “metal” so impressive can all be traced back to the greats that made progressive rock separate from the rest of the world. Dead Heroes Club is not metal, but they are quintessentially prog. Combining early Phil Collin’s fronted Genesis, Uriah Heep, and RUSH, Dead Heroes Club personifies what it means to not follow the new standard fare of progressive rock. A Time of Shadow grants us a passage to a time when progressive rock didn’t require you to bleed technical chops in every song; its a tribute to the slightly off kilter ideology of rock n roll that was instilled by the greats such as Genesis, RUSH and Yes.

My favorite part of A Time of Shadow is the vocals of Liam Campbell. He brings to the table an old school style that modern rock just hasn’t heard from in a long time. His style reminds me of a storyteller with the emotion he displays. Instrumentally, Dead Heroes Club really echo the skills of Liam Campbell with an ensemble style that is whimsical and refreshingly lacking in grandiose guitar solos which has become an all to present hallmark of modern prog rock.

A Time of Shadow is the perfect way to hear prog broken down to its essential greatness. Dead Heroes Club, while not being able to stand side by side with the likes of RUSH, can certainly make a statement with their retro, yet innovative take on a type of music that has grown to be too systematic.

VERY GOOD

Similar Artists: RUSH, Genesis, Uriah Heep, Yes

1. Theatre of the Absurd
2. Stranger in the Looking Glass
3. The Centre Cannot Hold
4. A Gathering of Crows
5. The Sleepers Are Waking
6. A Time of Shadow

Liam Campbell – Lead and Backing Vocals, Keyboards
Michael Gallagher – Drums
Gerry McGerigal – Electric and Acoustic Guitars, Backing Vocals
Wilson Graham – Basses, Backing Vocals
Chris Norby – Piano, Keyboards
Catherine McAtavey – Vocals on “The Sleepers Are Waking”

ProgRock Records

http://www.myspace.com/thedeadheroesclub

Review by CODY

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