Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Short Attention Span Record Reviews April 2020, Vol. II


CIRITH UNGOL – Forever Black

Epic doom metal like it’s still 1985, hilariously stupid and amazingly entertaining at the same time. (8)

DANZIG – Sings Elvis

We all knew this was going to happen one day, didn’t we? But he should’ve done it in the 90’s, his voice is now gone for good. (6)

DOOL – Summerland

Second album by Dutch dark rock hopefuls is even stronger than the debut – imagine a more goth Devil’s Blood (with whom they share a couple of members) and you’re halfway there, even though their female vocalist sings more like Geddy Lee than like any of her contemporaries. “Ode To The Future” is probably a conscious semi-rip-off of Patti Smith’s “Dancing Barefoot” but we won’t hold that against them. (8)

KATATONIA – City Burials

Nowadays I stay away from all social and metal media so I have no idea what people are thinking about this one, but I do know what I’m thinking: It’s top-notch goth-prog and their best album since their masterpiece, 2003’s “Viva Emptiness”. (9)

SPARTA – Trust the River

Jim Ward (ex-At The Drive In) returns with the first Sparta album in 14 years infusing his trademark post-hardcore attack with more mid-tempo melodic tracks than expected, and it’s great. (8)

THE PACK A.D. – It Was Fun While It Lasted

Grungy Canadian garage rock duo say farewell with another entertaining album. (7)

ULCERATE – Stare Into Death And Be Still

Apocalyptic death metal at its best, like Gorguts but better. (8)

WITCHCRAFT – Black Metal

It’s not black metal. (6)


Like always a bunch of distorted sad songs, sort of like Mazzy Star meets Crazy Horse. (7)

DREAM SYNDICATE – The Universe Inside

Not what you’d expect from the Dream Syndicate, which is exactly what you should’ve expected from the Dream Syndicate. This is essentially an hour-long trippy psychedelic jam, equal parts early Floyd, kraut rock, and “Bitches Brew”-era Miles. (8)

FIONA APPLE – Fetch The Bolt Cutters

She just keeps getting weirder and weirder and better and better. (9)


This unplugged live set proves the guy’s a great songwriter and the between-songs confessional banter is usually entertaining, but I miss the electricity of the authentic tunes. (7)

LAURA MARLING – Song For Our Daughter

She’s only 30 and this is already her seventh album and it’s stellar once again, Marling is probably the true heir to Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen both. (9)

LUCINDA WILLIAMS – Good Souls Better Angels

The 67-year old Queen of Americana is back with the angriest, snarliest, bluesiest album of her long career, in places sounding more like a pissed-off female Tom Waits than anything else. (8)

MARK LANEGAN – Straight Songs Of Sorrow

It’s a Mark Lanegan record, by now you should know you’re getting some solid American Gothic. (7)

SIR RICHARD BISHOP – Oneiric Formulary

A guitar hero like no other, Bishop covers the ground between acoustic balladry and electric avant-garde. (7)


If you’re a Joni Mitchell-influenced female singer/songwriter, you shouldn’t be releasing your album a week after Laura Marling does. (7)


Gentle acoustic folk from sibling duo better known as members of Nickel Creek. (7)

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Short Attention Span Record Reviews, April 2020


CONCEPTION – State Of Deception

The best Queensryche album in quite a while. (8)

ME AND THAT MAN – New Man, New Songs, Same Shit, Vol. 1

Behemoth’s Nergal invites his friends (Corey Taylor, Ihsahn, Matt Heafy…) and has them sing country/blues/americana. Best moment is Mat McMerney (Hexvessel/Dodheimsgard/Beastmilk/Grave Pleasures) doing his best “Satanic Hank Williams” impression but the basic takeaway of the album is this, what we always suspected: Every metal singer singing anything other than metal ends up sounding like Nick Cave karaoke. (7)

NINE INCH NAILS – Ghosts V: Together / Ghosts VI: Locusts

Two new instrumental albums simultaneously released, V is more tranquil and VI more disturbing, both closer to Reznor’s soundtrack work with Atticus Ross than to proper NIN records. (7)

OLD MAN GLOOM – Seminar IX: Darkness Of Being

The usual awesome heavy experimental doom, the main difference this time around being that the tragically deceased bassist Caleb Scofield has been replaced by his Cave In bandmate Stephen Brodsky. (8)

PEARL JAM – Gigaton

From the garage rock of “Superblood Wolfmoon” to the Talking Heads-esque angular white boy funk of “Dance Of The Clairvoyants” to the Who-like attack of “Never Destination” to the ballad-heavy second half of the album, Pearl Jam defy expectations on their best release since “Riot Act”. (8)


Best band name ever, and don’t call them “stoner rock” – this is a far messier, sludgier, more fun affair. (8)

TESTAMENT – Titans of Creation

The all-star thrash lineup shreds, but the songs just chug along and drag on and on and on without a single hook really standing out. (6)

TĒTĒMA – Necroscape

The zillionth Mike Patton project is one of the weirdest and most cacophonous, certainly on the left of Mr. Bungle. You have been warned. (7)


BRIAN FALLON – Local Honey
Gaslight Anthem frontman and Springsteen disciple Fallon on personal, mostly acoustic set of songs. (7)


Overrated. (6)


Drawing from a variety of sources like British folk and 60’s psychedelia, Elkington’s second album is a small triumph. (8)

LILLY HIATT – Walking Proof

Country rock singer/songwriter’s fourth album is more laid back than 2017’s “Trinity Lane” and features lots of guests like Amanda Shires, Aaron Lee Tasjan, and dad John Hiatt. (7)

PHISH – Sigma Oasis

Virtually unknown outside the US of A but on home turf Phish is not just a band, it’s an institution, a cult almost, with rabid loyal fans, and they just surprise-released an album of songs they’ve already been playing live for years but had never properly recorded in a studio. If you can stand the Grateful Dead, you’ll probably enjoy this. (7)

STEFANO BOLLANI – Piano Variations On Jesus Christ Superstar

I’d never heard of this Italian jazz pianist before but obviously he has an unhealthy obsession with the music from “Jesus Christ Superstar” so I started liking him before I even listened to this, a fantastic track-by-track reworking of the epic rock opera for solo piano. Labors of love like this one is what’s it’s all about, folks. (10)


Downtempo/chillout pioneers revisit 11 of their best known songs with a full classical orchestra. It works much better than Metallica’s “S&M”. (8)


Katie Crutchfield moves away from grungy indie rock towards folk/Americana on her new album that most critics are absolutely ecstatic about. Can’t understand why – it’s good, but in no way spectacularly better than at least a dozen or so other 2020 albums by folky singer-songwriters. (7)

YVES TUMOR – Heaven to a Tortured Mind

Sorry but I just don’t get this modern, overproduced, deconstructed/reconstructed “pop”, what’s wrong with having some SONGS for a change? (6)