MUSIC&RIOTS Magazine // Issue 26

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WINDY AND KARL Allegiance & Conviction Kranky Out on March 27


HALF WAIF The Caretaker AntiOut on March 27 SIGHTLESS PIT Grave of a Dog Thrill Jockey Out Now


KING BUZZO Gift of Sacrifice Ipecec Out on May 15


HUMAN IMPACT Human Impact Ipecac Out on March 13 HILARY WOODS Birthmarks Sacred Bones Out on March 13


HELEN MONEY Atomic Thrill Jockey Out on March 20


ENVY The Fallen Crimson Pelagic Out Now BASIA BULAT Are You In Love? Secret City Out on March 27


TODAY IS THE DAY No Good To Anyone BMG Out on February 28 4





Andreia Alves (







Dave Bowes, Ricardo Almeida, Teddie Taylor, Andi Chamberlain, Mark McConville, Annayelli Flores, Bruno Costa, Marika Zorzi


GOLD - Pim Top Hilary Woods - Joshua Wright Brutus - Eva Vlonk




+ 66.




Well, we’ve somehow finished a new issue and found ourselves at the beginning of a new decade, it’s safe to say that sometimes we aren’t quite sure how. This is our issue number 26 and we are still trying to figure it out how to create a decent editorial content, especially when every day we see how the music media is dying at a fast pace, killing local scenes, and strong independent content is nowadays hard to find. We have found ourselves again stuck in deadlines that we can’t commit to, but we managed to create something that we are proud of. We are constantly rethinking and refreshing to innovate in order to escape the same old tired and outdated formula. This new issue is built on detail, the whole creative process was exhausting but the overall complexity of every new issue brings us back to ground zero. Elsewhere on this issue, we are putting an emphasis on the context and creativity of the artists, and that’s why we hand-picked them, a distinctive set of bold and innovative artists, new and established. That’s why we are more than honored to have Gold, Blanck Mass, Brutus, Daughters, Cult of Luna, Hilary Woods and Mamiffer, just to name a few, on our new issue. FAUSTO CASAIS



WEBSITE: RESIST FASCISM DIY IS THE ONLY WAY All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or part without our permission. The views expressed in MUSIC&RIOTS Magazine are those of the respective contributors and are not necessarily shared by the magazine or its staff. MUSIC&RIOTS Magazine is published four times a year





























A DIFFERENT SHADE OF HEAVINESS Riding on the much deserved praise and hype surrounding their newest record A Different Shade of Blue, KNOCKED LOOSE singer Bryan Garris still managed to find the time to talk with us about the record's themes, their future, and the current state of the Hardcore world, amongst other issues.



ith the rise of bands such as Knocked Loose, Code Orange, Jesus Piece and Turnstile (just to name a few), does this new wave of Hardcore feel like a genuine music movement to you, even if the bands come from different cities and states? I think possibilities for heavy bands ISSUE 26

nowadays are way more than they used to be years ago like you have bands like Code Orange that play stadiums or have been nominated for a Grammy. Like you never start a heavy band saying yeah I will be playing stadiums because it’s not in your timeline, but it’s now a possibility and it’s awesome if you see that from a fan’s perspective. But bands like Code Orange are aggressive without really sacrificing anything, so it means that there is heavy music that’s just going at it because it can and it should! The new album is easily one of the highlight Hardcore releases of


the same page and there was never really a conversation about how it was going to be like. At the end we decided we just had written a record that we like, hoping that people would like it too. Will Putney is a household name at this point. What does he bring to the table that made you want to work with him again? Will Putney, who is also the guitarist of Fit For An Autopsy, is a great friend of ours so that was one of our main reasons why we chose him again. We knew we didn’t get everything out of his studio in the past so we wanted to go back and I’m glad we did. It was like a promise we made ourselves! Do you imagine the band following even more experimental paths and integrating broader influences in future music? I don’t think we will ever sound too different but I do think we will dive deeper into the songwriting process. Like this one is musically in the same vein as the previous one, but it’s also different in some ways. I think certain songs have a much more uplifting vibe then the last one and some have darker vibes too but it feels like the next step in a bigger picture. We always consider it as growth rather than change. last year! Was the making process of A Different Shade of Blue more enjoyable than the recording of previous releases? Did it feel, during the writing and recording, like you were putting together a milestone album for Knocked Loose? Thank you! We never really talked about going into the making of A Different Shade Of Blue. We usually just get together and jam and write, and then whatever comes out, comes out. We wrote a lot of songs and most of them we didn’t even use as over the course of three years since Laugh Tracks came out, we’ve had a lot of different ideas. We were all on

Considering that the record touches upon emotionally heavy themes such as loss, does the live performance of the songs contribute to dealing with those emotions in a positive way, or do you try to not even think about it? Exactly. It’s all about the word ‘blue’ and its different meanings, it can be used for different themes such as sadness or anger, it’s a play on our personal life. When I’m on stage I always try to stay focused on everything around me in that moment, I try not to think about anything else. I usually try to keep my personal life and music quit separate.

What has the reception of the new material been like on tour? Do you feel like the crowds at shows have gotten bigger thanks to all of the latest exposure the band has received? It’s been amazing. We’ve been on this, like, path of growth which is absolutely incredible, and the new record just seemed to amplify that. We’re in Europe right now and it’s been crazier than it’s ever been, even though the record’s only been out for like 3 months. I’m so grateful. Hardcore shows overall tend to feel like one big communal experience, but lately there’s been a trend of crowdkilling on the rise that has claimed a fair number of victims. Do you feel like that has any impact on the enjoyment of the show for everyone, and even for yourselves as a band? Hardcore shows are always crazy. I heard some situations got too crazy and the band had to stop the set to make sure everything was okay. Of course this might ruin the day for the band as well because of course shows are made for fun and nobody should get hurt. Our fans always hard-core dance and jump towards the stage while screaming along with us. Stage diving usually happens and it doesn’t stop for the rest of the evening. I know if you see this from the outside and you can think it’s a dangerous situation but I know our fans are amazing and I hope they feel safe at our shows. I remember one show in Seattle where during the song “The Rain”, the crowd picked up a girl in a wheelchair and crowdsurfed her up to the stage and I helped her onto the stage. It was sick. They get crazy but they look out for each other. A DIFFERENT SHADE OF BLUE IS OUT NOW ON PURE NOISE RECORDS WORDS: BRUNO COSTA PHOTO: TIM CAYEM


Mark Lanegan has announced that his new solo album, Straight Songs Of Sorrow, will be released on May 8th via Heavenly Recordings. The album features guest appearances from Greg Dulli, Warren Ellis, John Paul Jones, Ed Harcourt and more.


Katie Von Schleicher announces her new album, Consummation, out May 22nd 2020 via Full Time Hobby. Consummation is, in part, inspired by an alternate interpretation of Hitchcock’s Vertigo. In 2018, Von Schleicher rewatched the seminal film and was struck by its largely unanalyzed subtext of abuse. She knew immediately that this hidden narrative, which spoke to her personal experience, would be the basis of her next album.



The Homeless Gospel Choir, the musical moniker of songwriter Derek Zanetti, has just announced a brand new full-length, This Land Is Your Landfill, due out April 24th from A-F Records (North America) and Hassle Records (UK). On This Land Is You Landfill, Zanetti is joined by Matt Miller (Endless Mike and the Beagle Club, Wingnut Dishwashers Union), Maura Weaver (Mixtapes), Megan Schroer (Boys, Kitty Kat Fan Club), and Craig Luckman (Small Pollen, Belly Boys), along with producer Chris #2 (Anti-Flag) and more, to help create this new chapter for The Homeless Gospel Choir.

ves Tumor is releasing a new album called Heaven To A Tortured Mind, on April 3 via Warp. Heaven To A Tortured Mind’s 12-tracks were written and composed by Yves Tumor, with vocals from Pan Daijing and Kelsey Lu. 10

Making A Door Less Open, the new album from Car Seat Headrest and the first set of brand-new songs since 2016’s Teens Of Denial, is set for release May 1 on Matador Records. Created over the course of four years, Making a Door Less Open is the result of a fruitful “collaboration” between Car Seat Headrest, led by Will Toledo, and 1 Trait Danger, a CSH electronic side project consisting of drummer Andrew Katz and Toledo’s alternative persona, “Trait.”


Folk musician Jess Williamson will release her new album, Sorceress, on May 15th via Mexican Summer. Sorceress was written in Los Angeles, recorded at Gary’s Electric in Brooklyn, and then finished at Dandysounds, a home studio on a ranch in Dripping Springs, Texas, where she recorded all of 2018’s Cosmic Wink. Kidbug, featuring Marina Tadic (Eerie Wanda), Adam Harding (Dumb Numbers), Bobb Bruno (Best Coast) and Thor Harris (Swans), release their self-titled debut album on May 22 via Joyful Noise Recordings. “We love Nirvana, My Bloody Valentine, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Pixies, Sonic Youth, and all that is definitely an influence,” Harding stated. By the way, Melvins’ legend Dale Crover makes a special guest appearance behind the kit on the album’s closing track “Dreamy.” Laurel Halo is releasing her debut score – for the 2018 Metahaven-produced film Possessed, this April via The Vinyl Factory. The Possessed score features violinist Galya Bisengalieva and cellist Oliver Coates, as well as aditional production from engineer Paul Corley. Stuart Hyatt is back with new Field Works series, entitled Ultrasonic, this new album is composed around the echolocations of bats. For this special album, Hyatt has assembled an extraordinary group of contributors: Eluvium, Christina Vantzou, Sarah Davachi, Ben Lukas Boysen, Machinefabriek, Mary Lattimore, Felicia Atkinson, Noveller, Chihei Hatakeyama, John Also Bennett, Kelly Moran, Taylor Deupree, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Julien Marchal, and Player Piano. Ultrasonic arrives May 1 on Temporary Residence.





RECOMMENDED Kelly Lee Owens will release her second album, Inner Song, on May 1st via Smalltown Supersound. Her new album also comes off of what Owens describes as “the hardest three years of my life,” an emotionally fraught time that, in her words, “definitely impacted my creative life and everything I’d worked for up to that point. I wasn’t sure if I could make anything anymore, and it took quite a lot of courage to get to a point where I could make something again.” Inner Song was largely written and recorded over a month last winter. As with her debut, Owens holed up in the studio with collaborator James Greenwood.

“With the first album, I was so obsessed with getting the right sound straightaway, which hindered the flow of ideas,” she explains. “This time around, I let go of my perfection in the initial moment for the ideas to fully flourish and become what they want to be.” The evocative title of the album, borrowed from free-jazz maestro Alan Silva’s 1972 opus, “Those two words really reflect what it was like to make this record. I did a lot of inner work in the past few years, and this is a true reflection of that.” INNER SONG IS OUT ON MAY 1 VIA SMALLTOWN SUPERSOUND

KELLY LEE OWENS self titled debut album it’s a blissful listen from start to finish. The album was released back in 2017 on Smalltown Supersound.





Jackie Lynn returns and her continuing story is brought to us by Fohr, Cooper Crain, Rob Frye and Dan Quinlivan of Bitchin Bajas. These 9 tracks that tell the story of Jacqueline were written and recorded as a group, first to tape at home, then mixed at Electrical Audio by Cooper Crain.



Jehnny Beth (Savages) will release her debut solo album, To Love Is To Live, on May 8th via Caroline Records. The record, which was recorded in Los Angeles, London, and Paris, features a number of collaborators, including producers Flood, Atticus Ross, and longtime co-creator Johnny Hostile, and guest turns from The xx’s Romy Madley Croft, actor Cillian Murphy, and IDLES’ Joe Talbot. LA’s Momma, a four-piece led by co-singers/guitarists/songwriters Etta Friedman and Allegra Weingarten, have announced their new album Two of Me is set for release on June 5th, 2020 via Danger Collective Records. Two of Me was recorded in Los Angeles with producer/engineer Aron Kobayashi Ritch, who bolstered Friedman and Weingarten’s desire to experiment with deeper and more distorted sounds, along with drummer Zach CapittiFenton and bass player Sebastian Jones, who made up the rhythm section for most of the album’s tracks. Jackie Lynn have signed to Drag City and will be releasing their second album Jacqueline on April 10th, with accompanying European live dates in May. Jackie Lynn is the fictional alter ego of singer/songwriter Haley Fohr who is also known for her brilliant indie folk project Circuit des Yeux. The debut album told the story of Jackie’s (fictional) life to date. On Jacqueline, 12

ADULT. have announced details of a new album, titled Perception is/as/ of Derception and scheduled to be released on April 10 on Dais Records. The Detroit-based duo (Nicola Kuperus and Adam Lee Miller) have also announced an extensive North American tour with Body of Light in support of Perception is/as/of Deception and plan to tour Europe and UK in August, dates TBA. Belarus darkwave act Molchat Doma sign to Sacred Bones. Debut album S Krysh Nashikh Domov’, released in 2017, and second album Etazhi’ (pronounced Etazhi, meaning “Floors”), first released in 2018 on Berlin-based Detriti Records are both being reissued by Sacred Bones on vinyl for the first time on March 27. Expect a new full-length album to be released this Autumn on Sacred Bones. King Buzzo, the Melvins’ singer and guitar player, returns with his second solo album, Gift of Sacrifice, on May 15 via Ipecac Recordings. The nine-song release finds Buzz Osborne joined by longtime friend and Mr. Bungle bass player Trevor Dunn. “Gift of Sacrifice was a stone groove to record and it will be a fuking blast to finally hit the road with my buddy Trevor Dunn,” says Osborne. “Once we take the stage, I guarantee we’ll kick the crap out of this album.” Dunn and Osborne have worked together several times in the past, both as members of Fantômas and with Dunn performing in the Melvins Lite iteration of the long-running, legendary band.


tetema, the bi-continental outfit

featuring Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle) and the Melbourne based, electro-acoustic artist Anthony Pateras, return with their sophomore album, Necroscape is out on April 3 via Ipecac Recordings. Disheveled Cuss, the Los Angles based, Nick Reinhart (Tera Melos) helmed band, has announced their debut self titled LP out May 8th via Sargent House. “Playing music like this is satisfying in a very different way than what I’m used to,” Nick explains. “It’s a rock band playing ‘normal’ songs and in many ways, that’s the least normal thing I’ve done.” Land of Talk - the Montreal-based band led by Elizabeth Powell announced its new album Indistinct Conversations will be released on May 15th, 2020, via Saddle Creek. Powell produced and arranged the tracks together with her bandmates Mark “Bucky” Wheaton (drums/keys) and Christopher McCarron (bass), and the trio recorded the album in a studio built by McCarron in Wheaton’s apartment basement. In the past 15 years or so, Bill Nace has been a trusty improv partner to so many: Steve Baczkowski, Chris Corsano, Paul Flaherty, Greg Kelly, James Twig Harper, Samara Lubelski, Thurston Moore, and Kim Gordon with Body/ Head, to name but a handful. Now he’s finally going to release his actual solo LP debut. Bill worked with producer Cooper Crain for this new venture, the artwork was created by the one and only Daniel Higgs. Both is going to be released on May 22 via Drag City. Wardruna new album is titled Kvitravn (meaning White Raven), and will be released on June 5 via Music For Nations/Columbia Germany. For Kvitravn, Wardruna used a broad selection of both traditional and historical instruments such as Kravik-lyre, Trossingen-lyre,


Taglharpa, Sootharp, Langeleik, Crwth, Goat- horn, Lur, Bronze-lur, flute, Moraharpa, and features guest appearances by a small group of prominent traditional singers, including Kirsten Bråten Berg, one of the most important custodians of Norwegian traditional song. Harkin has just announced her debut self-titled album is set for release April 24th via Hand Mirror. The record was made over time in three different time zones – at Seahorse Sound in LA, Tesla Sheffield UK with Richard Formby and with John Agnello at Sonic Youth’s Echo Canyon West NJ USA. The record features contributions from Warpaint’s Stella Mozgawa and

Wye Oak & Bon Iver’s Jenn Wasner. Sex Swing have announced details of a new album, Type II, out on vinyl, CD and digitally on Rocket Recordings on 15 May 2020. Type II was recorded by Martin Ruffin and mixed by Wayne Adams. Between them the individual band members have clocked up notable experience sparking tinnitus appearing in bands such as Mugstar, Bonnacons Of Doom, Earth, Dethscalator, DeadNeanderthals and now even Idles. Shabazz Palaces have announced the follow up to their two 2017 albums, Quazarz: Born On A Gangster Star and Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines. It’s called The Don of

Diamond Dreams and it will be released on April 17 via Sub Pop. The Don of Diamond Dreams was produced by Shabazz Palaces, mixed and engineered by Erik Blood with mixing assistance from Andy Kravitz and mastered by Scott Sedillo. Guests on the new album include Purple Tape Nate and Stas THEE Boss, and the album features contributions from singer/keyboardist Darrius Willrich, percussionist Carlos Niño, Knife Knights collaborator OCnotes, saxophonist Carlos Overall, and bassist Evan Flory-Barnes.


THE SHAPE OF NU-CORE TO COME ORTHODOX are part of a new wave of bands that are leading the way on this new explosion of the alternative metal scene, something that we have already seen in the mid 90’s. Over the years the band has seen many changes, both sonically and within their lineup since their 2017 album, Sounds Of Loss, and they’ve emerged stronger than ever. We caught up with founder and singer Adam Easterling to discuss Let It Take Its Course and everything in between. 14


et It Take Its Course is your sophomore album, are you guys excited for this new venture or feeling the classic pressure of the sophomore effort? Releasing this sophomore album definitely has its pressures, but we are truly confident in the product we’ve made and I think we all agree that this is a true step in the right direction following Sounds of Loss.


Let It Take Its Course is your first release since 2017’s Sounds Of Loss. What has changed since then? The most notable change would be the lineup. In 2017, the band consisted of myself and Tyler Williams who has since left to join Counterparts. (No hard feelings there at all. Very proud of the work that guy has put in to get where he’s at now.) Since then Mike White joined as our full-time drummer, and we’ve gone through a few rotations while finding the right fit. The team now consists of myself, Mike White on drums, Shiloh Krebs on bass and Austin Evans on guitar. We’ve been lucky enough to have Ben Touchberryof Frost Koffin and Blaythe Steuer of Katabasis rotating in and out as our fifth guitarist.


Why did you name the album as Let It Take Its Course? I know that’s part of the lyric off of one of your songs, “Panic” from Sounds of Loss, right? You’re correct in your assumption. The phrase, in the context of this band, originates in the bridge of our song “Panic.” As we started writing new material, that line was already in my head for a follow up album title. I originally wanted to carry over some subtle themes from Sounds of Loss while changing the context around the references themselves, and given the material I was writing, this line stuck out to me. It’s dark and can take many forms, and honestly sums the feeling of the 11 tracks as a whole This new album sounds cathartic, but also feels like a new chapter for the band, it sounds confident and there is a genuine collective strength this time around. So, how was it like to put emotions, thoughts and life experiences into music? I feel like there’s just as much emotion on this album as the last, the difference is where it’s coming from. The last album stemmed more from traumatic experiences as well as fear and mourning. This album stems from a deep anger, and on the opposite end of that: love. Both are equally cathartic as the next when putting the ink on a page, but very different in terms of the relief it brings. I won’t really know how it feels to have it out of my head until I get to sing it live. So we’ll find out soon enough. This time around you approached the songwriting process in a different way. Can you tell us a little bit about it and what new elements it brought to your music? Basically, I would head over to Daniel Colombo’s house. We’d sit in front of his computer and I’d hum him riff ideas. He’d play them on guitar and we’d program drums to what we’d write as we went. Austin would come in when he could get to town, and we’d do the same thing.

It was a lot less stressful than trying to get a solid take of a whole song in a storage unit on our phone, and painted a much clearer picture of the potential end product. Do you have to feel the tenderness and rage in your songs in order to perform them? I’m asking this because there is a genuine intensity in the way you display your music. There’s definitely a point when you’ve played a certain song enough times that it loses its ‘tenderness’ so to speak. So I wouldn’t say that I need to feel every emotion from every song lyrically to be able to find that live intensity. For me, it’s all about the energy of the guys behind me. There are a few songs we’ve played 100+ times that I personally don’t really want to sing anymore. But looking back at my team when those songs come up in the set and seeing them getting into it, and finding the groove at the root of it all is all I need to jump right back into the feeling the song provokes. What were the highs and lows of working on this album? I think some of the highs were just the realization of our level of execution on aspects we were unfamiliar and uncomfortable with. Lows, for me, were trying to track certain aspects vocally that I was inexperienced in. Turns out that it’s hard as shit to sing on key! Do you pay any attention to the nowadays music critics of nowadays music media? Not too much honestly. I appreciate anyone who wants to take the time to voice their opinions, be it bad or good. But at the end of the day, no one person has the power to change anything about us as a band. I was digging into old songs and I stumble on the track “Hell”, a track that “speaks against the overall prejudice towards race, gender, belief, sexual orientation and against bigotry

and the overall ignorance…”. So, with this in mind, I would love to know your thoughts on the current state of the world. You guys released this song back in 2014 and since then we have seen Trump’s election, Brexit, an ignorant prick like Bolsonaro also elected in Brazil and the destruction of the Amazon forest, tensions all over the world, the rise of hate crimes (from race, gender and sexual orientation), police brutality all over the place, the rise of right wing and fascists all over the place, inequality levels growing like mushrooms, climatic changes and the global crimes against animals (the fires in Australia are a good example of that, we can’t accept the loss of billions of animals). “Hell” was actually written specifically about churches in American culture. The constant bigotry and hatred that hides behind a cross, as well as the manipulation of millions in a way that benefits the church as a business. The song came out around the time that the Westboro Baptist Church was in all of the headlines. The current state of the world is no better than it was then and new issues will continue to arise as time goes on. Sometimes without briefly ‘relevant’ topics ever finding any conclusion. But I’m not here to sway anyone’s opinions on what they should or shouldn’t believe. Everyone is in entitled to their own decisions and thoughts, regardless of how wrong or right they might be in anyone else’s eyes. The best thing I can offer is to that anyone should lend a helping hand when the opportunity presents itself, and do right for themself and the person beside them. LET IT TAKE ITS COURSE IS OUT NOW ON UNBEATEN RECORDS WORDS: FAUSTO CASAIS PHOTO: CAM SMITH





At The Drive In side-project founded by Jim Ward and Tony Hajjar Sparta, has announced their first full length studio album since 2006’s Threes. Trust The River will be released on April 10 via Dine Alone Records – their first for the label. Having been a member of heavy bands but also showcasing his more melancholic side via his solo work, Ward says the new Sparta album feels like the logical meeting point of his influences. “Naturally it’s coming to this unity,” he says. “Those two worlds have always been on a path towards unity. And I knew in my heart that it was coming.”





Iranian-born Berlin-based Mentrix (real name is Samar Rad) will release her debut album My Enemy, My Love, on April 3rd via her own label House of Strength. House of Strength is named after traditional Iranian gathering places where men would train in pits to stay strong when the country was occupied by Mongols, in preparation for their liberation. “Women for instance do not train in these places,” explains Samar, “they belong to a patriarchal time that we must still fight.” Samar says about the new album: “This album reflects my relationship with the contrasting worlds I lived in, with myself, and all my existential wanderings.” The title of the album 16


is both a reference to being seen as both an immigrant and a deserter, and to the daf, an iconic percussive instrument originally played in Sufi temples. “In Sufism the daf is a calling for the soul to awaken,” explains Samar. “It makes that big sound because it’s empty, and its emptiness means two things: on the lower level someone who is empty and has nothing to offer makes a lot of noise. On a higher level, when you are truly empty of the world the entire universe can resonate within you. It’s the dark side and the bright side of the moon in one instrument.” MY ENEMY, MY LOVE IS OUT ON APRIL 3 VIA HOUSE OF STRENGHT


Marking their 20th year as a band, Maserati return with their first new album in five years, Enter The Mirror is out April 3rd on Temporary Residence Produced by the band and mixed by Grammy-winning producer, John Congleton (Explosions In The Sky, Swans, Angel Olsen). In addition to long-time members Coley Dennis, Matt Cherry, Chris McNeal, and Mike Albanese, Maserati are joined for this new venture by friends and collaborators, Bill Berry (R.E.M.), Owen Lange, and Alfredo Lapuz Jr. IIVII, the project of A Storm of Light leader and former Neurosis visual artist Josh Graham, has announced the release of new double album, Grinding Teeth (the inspired soundtrack to the true-life love story of Duane and Debra Johnson) and Zero Sleep (the adapted score from Thomas D. Rotenberg’s sci-fi short film, Don’t Forget to Remember). Both albums are scheduled to be released on March 20 via Consouling Sounds. In order to create both albums, Graham got help from a myriad of guests including Sarah Pendleton (SubRosa), Dana Schechter (Insect Ark), Billy Graves (A Storm of Light), Kim Thayil (Soundgarden), Benjamin Weinman (Dillinger Escape Plan).




RECOMMENDED Half Waif (aka Nandi Rose) returns with a brand new album and her first for ANTI- Records, The Caretaker, it will be released on March 27th. Speaking about the new album Rose says: “The Caretaker is much more about smaller minutiae of relationships and how so much humanity is packed into some of our most mundane moments,” she continues, “the most ordinary things bring us together. And that in itself is extraordinary.” While her previous full-length was arranged and produced with a band, The Caretaker was an endeavor of solitude. Rose wrote and arranged its entirety before bringing co-producer

David Tolomei into the process to sharpen the sounds, tracking upright bass, violin, flute, piano, and bass clarinet at The Clubhouse in Rhinebeck NY, and lush analog synths at The Synth Sanctuary in New York City. Referring to the album’s title, she says, “I kind of created a character. She’s someone who has been entrusted with taking care of this estate, taking care of the land, and she’s not doing a very good job. The weeds are growing everywhere, and she’s not taking care of herself.“ THE CARETAKER IS OUT ON MARCH 27 VIA ANTI- RECORDS

HALF WAIF’s Lavender was one of our highlights of 2018, a beautiful and haunting effort. Nandi Rose Plunkett’s best work so far. Out now on Cascine.



MARCH 6 JONATHAN WILSON Dixie Blur (Bella Union) U.S.GIRLS Heavy Light (4AD) MOBY All Visible Objects (Mute) STEPHEN MALKMUS Traditional Techniques (Matador) COCOROSIE Put the Shine On (Marathon Artists) MARCH 13 HUMAN IMPACT Human Inpact (Ipecac) HILARY WOODS Birthmark (Sacred Bones) HUNTSMEN Mandala of Fear (Prosthetic) CODE ORANGE Underneath (Roadrunner Records) MARCH 20 IIVII Grinding Teeth (Consouling Sounds) MYRKUR Folkesange (Relapse Records) MOANING Uneasy Listening (Sub Pop) HELEN MONEY Atomic (Thrill Jockey) ARBOURETUM Let It All In (Thrill Jockey) MARCH 27 FACS Void Moments (Trouble In Mind Records) MAMALEEK Come and See (The Flenser) WINDY AND KARL Allegiance and Conviction (Kranky) BASIA BULAT Are You In Love? (Secret City) LIZZY FARRALL Bruise (Pure Noise Records) CORIKY Coriky (Dischord) HALF WAIF The Caretaker (Anti-) APRIL 3 MASERATI Enter the Mirror (Temporary Residence) TOPS I Feel Alive (Musique TOPS) 18

PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS Viscerals (Rocket Recordings) ANNA BURCH If You Are Dreaming (Polyvinyl) PURITY RING Womb (4AD) PEEL DREAM MAGAZINE Agitprop Alterna (Slumberland) YVES TUMOR Heaven To A Tortured Mind (Warp) FORNDOM Faþir (Nordvis) MENTRIX My Enemy, My Love (House of Strenght) APRIL 10 MIDWIFE Forever (The Flenser) ADULT. Perception is/as/of Derception (Dais Records) SPARTA Trust The River (Dine Alone Records) JACKIE LYNN Jacqueline (Drag City) MUMRUNNER Valeriana (Shelflife) WHY BONNIE Voice Box (Fat Possum) LAUREL HALO Possessed (The Vinyl Factory) ROTTING OUT Ronin (Pure Noise Records) APRIL 17 ORANSSI PAZUZU Mestarin Kynsi (Nuclear Blast) JARBOE Illusory (Consouling Sounds) SHABAZZ PALACES The Don Of Diamond Dreams (Sub Pop) APRIL 24 THE HOMELESS GOSPEL CHOIR Your Land Is Your Landfill (Hassle Records) LA PRIEST Gene (Domino Recording CO) ELDER Omens (Armageddon Shop) ALICE BAG Sister Dynamite (In The Red) MAY 1 BOSTON MANOR Glue (Pure Noise Records) CALEB LANDRY JONES The Mother Stone (Sacred Bones) LAND OF TALK Indistinct Conversations (Saddle Creek) KELLY LEE OWENS Inner Song (Smalltown Supersound) ISSUE 26

MAN MAN Dream Hunting in the Valley of the InBetween (Sub Pop) CAR SEAT HEADREST Making A Door Less Open (Matador) BUILT TO SPILL Built to Spill Plays the Songs of Daniel Johnston (Ernest Jenning Record Co.) MAY 8 JEHNNY BETH To Love Is To Live (Caronline International) LAMB OF GOD Lamb Of God (Nuclear Blast) CHOIR BOY Gathering Swans (Dais Records) DISHEVELED CUSS Disheveled Cuss (Sargent House) MARK LANEGAN Straight Songs Of Sorrow (Heavenly Rec.) MAY 15 SEX SWING Type II (Rocket Recordings) KING BUZZO Gift Of Sacrifice (Ipecac Recordings) BILL NACE Both (Drag City) JESS WILLIAMSON Sorcerer (Mexican Summer) MAY 22 TIM BURGESS I Love The New Sky (Bella Union) KIDBUG Kidbug (Joyful Noise) KATIE VON SCHLEICHER Consummation (Full Time Hobby) THROWING MUSES Sun Racket (Fire Records) JUNE 5 WARDRUNA Kvitravn NADINE SHAH Kitchen Sink (Infectious Music) NO AGE Goons Be Gone (Drag City) MOMMA Two Of Me (Danger Collective)


ALL MIRRORS TRACKLIST: 01. Lark 02. All Mirrors 03. Too Easy 04. New Love Cassette 05. Spring 06. What It Is 07. Impasse 08. Tonight 09. Summer 10. Endgame 11. Chance PRODUCED BY ANGEL OLSEN AND JOHN CONGLETON // ARTWORK BY CAMERON MCCOOL CAMERON MCCOOL




have used the word ‘Lynchian’ for a while now. An adjective that describes something that contains the inherent weirdness and disquieting quality of something from a David Lynch movie. Angel Olsen is Lynchian to such a degree that I was half expecting a scary dwarf to come out in a red and white suit at any moment and start fandangoing all over my lounge. A delicate-yet-soaring vocal that creeps up on you in deliciously unnerving ways. Music that is one thing, whilst being entirely another, an awkward sense of nostalgia and

utter newness that smashes together to form a weird dreamlike musical experience that lingers for a long time after the record stops and conjures images of strange and wonderful worlds. With a distinctly retro sound, Angel Olsen has crafted an album of layered surprises and gently hypnotic pop-infused lounge jazz music – that brings images of Nancy Sinatra, Amanda Palmer, Joni Mitchell with each new song. It’s a slow burn, atmospheric release, and well deserving of your attention, and each new listen rewards with new vital moments of beauty, mystery and discovery.


“In every way — from the making of it, to the words, to how I feel moving forward, this record is about owning up to your darkest side, finding the capacity for new love and trusting change even when you feel like a stranger.” //

“needed to separate these two records and release All Mirrors in its heaviest form. . . It was impossible for me to deny how powerful and surprising the songs had become. The truth is that I may have never allowed this much sonic change in the first place had I not already made an account of the same songs in their purest form.” ALL MIRRORS IS OUT NOW ON JAGJAGUWAR





WHERE? TILLBURG / NETHERLANDS APRIL 16-19 WHY SHOULD I CARE? Not only is the Netherlands’ biggest festival, along with The Guess Who?, it has also become renowned as a true favourite hidden gem across Europe. Sorry, but we just care about these two events! But the success of this festival is about much more than big names. At this year’s Roadburn Festival in Tilburg, we are going to see Emma Ruth Rundle and James Kent as curators, commissioned projects from James Kent & Johannes Persson, Jo Quail, and Vile Creature & Bismuth, the return of Julie Christmas, Red Sparowes, Russian Circles, Torche, Brutus, Dungen, 40 Watt Sun, Alcest, Inter Arma, David Eugene Edwards, Health, Hide, Lankum, She Past Away + two artists in residence: Full of Hell and Lingua Ignota. For a fourth year running, Full Bleed exhibition will return to Roadburn. Full Bleed is an exhibition of screen printed artwork featuring artists (John Baizley, Richey Beckett, Maarten Donders, David V.D’Andrea, Marald van Haasteren and many more). Roadburn pushes the boundaries of music and therefore it makes it a unique and special experience, this festival is the living proof that the underground scene is more alive and exciting than ever.

WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT THIS YEAR’S EDITION? “As co-curator I hope to honor Roadburn’s legacy, and our community, by bringing artists to the festival – both new and established – who are creating important work. Craft that is pushing what it means to be part of the heavy music world and pulling with them some real emotional weight. While the genres may vary, each artist will be coming to the festival because of their ability to elicit a visceral and emotional reaction in my heart, and hopefully yours too. I’m excited to share this experience with the most unique and dedicated people who make up the Roadburn family.” EMMA RUTH RUNDLE “After last year’s seminal experience, Roadburn holds a special place in my heart; it is a nexus of community and experimentation. I was thrilled to be asked to be artist in residence for 2020, along with my friends in Full of Hell. Given the opportunity to perform multiple times across the four day festival, to show breadth and depth, is a dream come true. With that time and space I hope to take a transgressive look at my own practice and open myself up to collaboration, to create something unique and unprecedented.” KRISTIN HAYTER “The last time Earth played Roadburn was 2011, so it’s a real pleasure to be welcomed back at this year’s edition thanks to Emma for asking us. We are celebrating 30 years of Earth with a special performance, featuring Steve Moore and William Herzog along with current members, as well as a set spanning the career of the band.” DYLAN CARLSON “Roadburn is my absolute favorite festival in the world. The lineup is always diverse, the audience enthusiastic, and the curation is second to none. I can’t think of a more appropriate place for The Flenser to celebrate our ten years of existence.” THE FLENSER LABEL MANAGER, JONATHAN TUITE

“We are truly thrilled and honored to be invited back to Roadburn in 2020 as an artist in residence. We have always considered Walter and the Roadburn family to be curators of the highest order and we have been huge fans of the festival as far back as I can remember, so it means quite a lot to us to be able to have such a big role next year.” FULL OF HELL “Walter and his team put their hearts into Roadburn and have created a living museum of heavy music. You’re lucky if you get to go once, and you always want to go back. For Roadburn 2020, I’m bringing songs that deserve to be played – and not left for dead. I’ll be on stage with a Lion, a Light Ray, a Chameleon, a Question Mark, A Translator and a Survivor.” JULIE CHRISTMAS “After a long hiatus, we have decided to get Red Sparowes back on the stage. I can’t imagine a better way to return than by playing what has always been one of our favorite festivals. Our past performances at Roadburn are among our collective favorite shows, not only because of the incredible line-ups, but because of the Roadburn culture – one firmly grounded in a love for underground music and the drive to create an atmosphere that eliminates the silos between bands and audience. We are honored to be back.” GREG BURNS OF RED SPAROWES

DON’T MISS: Fvnerals, Mizmor, Algiers, Brutus, Jessica Moss, Mamaleek, Hante., Big|Brave, Cloud Rat, Red Sparowes, Elizabeth Colour Wheel, Full of Hell, Lingua Ignota, Alexis Marshall, Oranssi Pazuzu, Inter Arma, Mizmor, Nghtcrwlr, Blanck Mass, Alcest, Cult Leader, Bad Breeding, HIDE, Miserable, Torche, SRSQ, Health, Boy Harsher, Vile Creature, Julie Christmas, Earth, Helms Alee and many more.




Last year darkwave duo Boy Harsher released Careful, one of the most charismatic and cinematic efforts you will hear in years. Jae Matthews and Gus Miller have been around since 2013, with their dark, moody, noisy synthbased music. Boy Harsher use sadness as a form of rebellion and have their cathartic element, translating love, losses, passions and life itself into their music. We shot the duo some questions, aiming to get a more thorough grasp of their art.


Last year you have released Careful, a remix album also came out this year and the reissue of your 2017’s Country Girl EP, so let’s say it was a busy year for you both. Overall, how was last year for Boy Harsher? Gus: It was a very busy year and it feels that way too. I have a fatigue I can’t beat. But anyways, it was a great year. We traveled so much and met a lot of amazing people. Jae: It doesn’t feel like a year passed - everything went so fast. We’ve been touring mostly, right? Never resting. There’s a strong darkwave influence along with a minimalist yet vibrant experimentation in your sound. Was that the sound model when you kicked off Boy Harsher? Gus: In the beginning I was really inspired by projects like Profligate and Delroy Edwards that could take club music and make it so raw and physical. Something just clicked with me and I realized synth and electronic music can have so much power and control. Jae: We started performing live in front of a lot of noise audiences - at regional underground festivals like INC in Miami. The performers were so confident and bold, a lot of intense power electronics. I just remember wanting to compete – like I can be aggressive too, which has stuck with me throughout the years. It’s quite hard to find nowadays an art form that connects emotional extremes with this dark yet adventurous, sometimes almost romantic approach. Listening to Careful several times it’s easy to find elements of vulnerability, heartbreak and some sort of anger. But in the end, this whole cocktail of emotions brings also several new levels of intensity and a feeling of total liberation. Do you agree? Gus: The idea of blending hard aggressive songs with vulnerable 24

songs is something we were exploring with at our first shows. I find playing a string of hard tracks wears you down and primes you for the slower more emotional tracks. Jae: There’s definitely vulnerability in aggression, in shame, in lust, in anger. We aren’t commercially soft, but we explore helplessness and fear - which I think is liberating. Being able to get some authentically ugly feelings out there - is a release. What’s the story behind the song “Fate”? Jae: I was struggling with this sense that as much as I try to be good, I just couldn’t - it’s a pathetic anthem for those who will never be able to run away from their true selves. That’s notto say that wickedness defines you - more to say that your bad inclinations will follow you forever, ala the good, but sad vampire. If you think about a movie like Lost Highway it’s fair to say that sound



is an essential dimension of the film. It’s easy to see a connection with the way Careful sounds and the cinematic approach of your art, sometimes it’s quite normal to picture some sort scenery and visual representation of your songs. There’s a significant connection, isn’t there? Gus: The songs were drawn to in the studio are always tracks we have a strong visual connection with. They can’t just sound good. There needs to be a hallucinatory reaction. Jae: Yes, mirroring Gus - we love to generate music that evokes a sense of place and feeling. We are definitely chasing the ultimate score album where all you need to do is close your eyes and you’re watching the dark road through the windshield. At which point have you determined the visual approach of Boy Harsher videos? Gus: If we could afford it, I’d want everything shot on 16mm.

Jae: If we could afford it, I would cast every interesting person that I’ve met. Personally I’m always looking for things outside of the norm. What is your personal definition of the normal and how Boy Harsher fits or not in that? Gus: I find myself fighting ‘the normal” while writing. Our songs are primarily melody and scale based. It’s easy to hit a wall where everything is too perfect, too in harmony. There’s enough instruments playing the same notes and it just becomes elevator music. I’m looking for a way to pervert the sound or scale a touch, so it breaks out of the comfort zone. Jae: I try to defy ‘goth’ performance tendencies - although I’m really scared (normal) and perhaps should just stand still, I have so much fun thrashing around like an idiot. I also don’t stop myself from smiling, which according to many audience members is not common.

Any thoughts about today’s music media? Gus: I think it’s very clear that money has almost completely disappeared for independent music journalism. So, journalists don’t have time to cover things thoroughly. Even worse, all revenue is pretty much generated by clicks, so journalists are motivated to cover artist and genres with click appeal. I’m worried about the extinction of good music journalism, because it erases all the theory and critical thought behind music and moves music closer to just another simple transaction in our everyday lives. Jae: I find a lot of it kinda suspect just a copy + paste from a bio, bums me out. Sometimes you get interesting + thoughtful questions and ideas, which is nice. I’d rather hear about your thoughts on today’s music media! CAREFUL IS OUT NOW ON NUDE CLUB





The path Brutus have taken in 2017 has been meticulously mapped out on Nest, their latest record out via Hassle Records and Sargent House. According to the band, the album is a reflection of everything that came with making choices about themselves. A diverse mix of influences penetrated the Brutus bubble, the biggest of which was the people around them on the journey to the creation of Nest. Be it the bands they toured with, their family at home, or indeed their own bandmates, human interaction is the nucleus of the album. The choices they have made in pursuit of their goals and the impact those choices have had on both themselves and those they have left behind in their nest. The arc of the album charts the friction between the band’s forward motion and their desire to maintain a connection with those back at home. It’s a timeline of invincibility and doubt, of taking risks and letting go; a chronology of what they are and what they’ve done. Here’s our interview with Stefanie Mannaerts, Peter Mulders and Stijn Vanhoegaerden.



s of last year, it’s been 5 years since Brutus were formed. Do you think that Nest is like a retrospective and that it represents you as a band? Peter: It was an album about the period that we were to have. When we wrote it was like 2017 and 2018. The first album was out and we had to tour a lot more than we expected because we were just a Belgium band and we didn’t know we would do anything outside of Belgium and when the first album came out we could tour Europe, we could do all the great supports and it was a lot of stuff that changed in our lives. That’s in the album. Stijn: The fact that we were away from home so much, we wrote about that for the last record. But I think “does it define us as a band,” I don’t know. I think we say it every time we make a record, it’s like, “This is the best we can do. It’s what we are at this moment.” The record is out since March, so yeah, I of course stand behind it. But I’m already looking forward to the next one.


Do you think that your creative process changed between albums? Stephanie: I think it will always change. Peter: It has to change. Stijn: I think if you write every record the same way, it gets boring, for one. And maybe you make the same record every time. I don’t think we want to do that. Peter: Also, we’re discovering a lot. With the second album, I think we discovered a lot more about Stephanie and her voice than we did in the first album because she was all-new as a singer in the first album and in the second album she wasn’t a new singer anymore. Stijn: That’s the fun thing, I don’t know how we’re going to do it. It’s going to be a surprise for us too, I guess. Relationships are the main theme of Nest. It’s like if every song talks about what is going on in your own life, in your own group of people. Is that the meaning of the title? Stephanie: It was very easily chosen, the name. Like with Burst, it came after we wrote the songs. And with Nest, the name was there when we were half-past the songs or something. The theme was very clear on the album. Stijn: It’s also that we had the title half-way through the songs, maybe we started thinking about it more. Because I know in the beginning, it wasn’t really like, “We’re going to make a concept record about this,” but we started writing and that’s what came out. We started writing songs, we had some songs and all of the sudden there was this word and yeah, that’s what we were writing about. So we just took that idea and went with it. Why is it important to you guys to have your own nest? Stephanie: I think it’s for everyone. It is. Stijn: I know there [are] people that



say they don’t need it but... Stephanie: They’re denying it. Stijn: I think it’s important to me personally to have it at home but also to have it on the road so the people like us three, the people that are traveling with us, it has to be like this or it’s not fun. The entire record sounds like you had lost faith in people when you say “Fire, burn them all- Lonely days are over since the day we met- That girl, I could never trust her, she’s a fucking wreck- I’m lost-Our world It’s gone”. Where does this feeling come from? Stephanie: I think that’s more losing faith in yourself than in other people because I wrote that and it was more about me, those sentences. It’s more about me. Where do those feelings come from? Stephanie: Separation. Disintegration. Just stupid stuff that happens when you’re doing stupid shit. Stijn: Is it more like that people at home are losing faith in us? Is that more the case? Stephanie: Yeah, but also in yourself. It start with yourself and then everyone… Sometimes it’s about one specific person, sometimes it’s like you say, like kind of a journal. That’s what music is like, I think, to everyone, when you write lyrics. Like what you just said, like everything combined. For one, for me, for us, for them, just a pile of emotions. The main theme is “nest” and that’s why the album is Nest. There’s a new generation of young songwriters who sing with this calm, warm voice but then the lyrics are like knives directly in your face and I found the same on the way Stephany uses her voice. Stijn: Sometimes I’m on stage and she can sing something that’s really mellow but I know what’s behind the lyrics and I’m like, “Fuck.” It hurts even more than when she would yell it. 30

Stephanie: I think it’s the same thing when you have argument with your girlfriend and you’re yelling the whole time and when somebody’s like, “I’m done. You can do whatever you want.” It’s even worse than “Fuck you.” I think it’s the same thing. The message will come across even better if it’s like… And also the three of us we just love melody. It’s the thing that actually connects us through all our different tastes in music because it’s so different. We don’t have more than three records in common. Like favorite records, we don’t have more than three in common. Stijn is more like Picasso. If people would collect your work, it would be all over the place. He would be Mondrian, very tight. Peter: Who would be you? Stephanie: I don’t know. Something weird. Peter: Somebody who painted just black. Stijn: Somebody that’s only black is… You should be Francis Bacon. Francis Bacon! Fucked up shit like, “Aw, cool colors but that’s really fucked up.” That kind of shit. That’s Stephanie. If you’re all so different, how do you get along? Peter: Sometimes we don’t. Stephanie: It’s the same as a relationship. Stijn: If you meet new people and you have a base that’s really, really strong, all the shit that’s happening around you, it can affect a lot but not the base. I think if you have that base everything is okay. We argue about everything if it’s necessary and we all have an opinion and we all talk about it, but the base is strong. We’ve known each other for a long time. How long have you been friends? Stijn: We met five or six years ago in Belgium where we’re from. We met in our first band and they met in a band they started together and they were like, “We want to do something.” And she just said, “I know a guy, Stijn. Let’s


ask him.” Peter: Yeah, that’s the way we met, just through music. And now we see each other more than anyone else. Stijn: The three of us, everybody has a really strong opinion about what they want to do when it comes to music and it’s not always easy with two people in a band. When you’re three people and you have a different opinion, the third one, is that easier, is it more difficult? Peter: Trying at least not so easy. Stephanie: Three people is the worst dynamic between people in general. There’s always one person alone. If you’re with five, at least you’re with one or two other persons, at least you’re not alone. But being in a triangle is very difficult. It goes back to the theme of the record… Peter: It comes straight from who we are and our heart, who we are and what we do and what’s in our mind the last two years and still is important. Stijn: It’s not a promo thing. The record, when I listen to it, every song – she wrote the lyrics but I was there when those things happened. We lived that record. Stephanie: Yeah, and you guys also read the lyrics. It’s not like it was a surprise in the recordings. You have a lot of bands that when the singer records, everyone is like, “Oh, that’s what you’re singing.” But they knew it already like two months before and checked some things. Peter: And changed some things because we had some questions like, “What is this?” I think Nest is very raw and personal in terms of the abrasive nature of the music, the heaviness of the lyrics and the vocal delivery. What was the challenge with Brutus for this new record? What was the main challenge for you on the record? Stephanie: Recording. Stijn: For me, it was talking about the


fact that its so personal. That was difficult for me. Because when we recorded the record and it was done, that was the moment that I was like, “Okay, it’s kind of heavy for me.” It’s kind of heavy for them, too, of course. Stephanie: For me the hardest thing about every album is mixing. Like everything is super fun, fun, fun… For me, I get a lot of energy from it and mixing is like draining you.


So you didn’t have the songs prepared in advance? Peter: We do pre-recordings in Belgium. Because we toured so much, we did like five or six moments, like weekends that we write in our rehearsal space and we record everything with an iPhone. Sometimes songs are on the iPhone but you have to listen to like, “Pssshhhh.” Then if we have a song that we hope to play, we go to the studio and record it for real and some things come out like, “Oh, this doesn’t fit,” or, “Let’s change this.” Then we have pre-recordings and then we have like twenty or something, and then we choose songs and then we record them for real. Was is it a natural process to arrive at this album? Stijn: Yeah, and if you’re working on songs, you have these moments that you dive into a song really heavily. So if it’s a heavy song emotionally, I was like, “Oh, fuck, this is a heavy song.” But if you finish a record, everything’s mixed and you put them in an order that makes sense to you as a band and then you listen to it, I never have an idea before that moment how it’s going to be as a whole. So for me, the first time I heard the record as a whole like, “What the fuck is this?” I had the same with the first record, like, “What the fuck? Like what is this?” It’s weird. Speaking for myself, but it’s a special thing. “So this is what we’ve been doing for two years? Nice.” After 1 year and a lot of shows, do

you still feel the songs when you play them? Stijn: Yeah, definitely. Peter: It’s so different playing the song and listening to it on the album. Stephanie: Yeah, we’re eager to make new songs as well. Peter: I’m sometimes eager to take out a really old song and play it again, like from Burst. Stephanie: But I can see like for us, we started working on this record two years and a half ago, and for example, it’s only been out since March but songs like “War” and “Sugar Dragon,” we[‘d] been playing that like seven months before. And when we do Instagram, in the stories it’s always “War,” like another story from “War.” It’s stupid because we were so proud of that song and now we’re like, “Can we write another War please?” because people are just filming this… When we tour, now we open with “War” because we are a support band. When we do [a] headline show, “War” is in the middle. When we play it, it’s like, “Aaaaaahhh” after two seconds. Musically speaking how difficult was to give the right atmospheres to the words? Stijn: The words don’t always come first, so there [are] a lot of times that melody, melodies, and riffs or whatever are first. Then she lets us know which one feels right. Peter: Stephanie also works a lot on the melodies, on the guitar and the bass. Stijn: Yeah, we do that together. So I can play a riff on the guitar or he can play a bassline and she’s going to be like, “I have this line. Can you maybe play that longer?” Stuff like that, or, “Change that note so I can sing that and it’s a harmony.” She studied music. We didn’t, so we just play and she knows what she... Peter: In some way, the harmony between the vocals and music come because Stephanie is not just a singer singing out our lines, she’s a lot into the notes and music too.


So it’s all created in equal balance between the members? Stijn: Yes. Peter: And anybody can say anything about anything. When Stijn can have a line or if Stephanie sings a lyric, we can all like it or dislike it or change it or not change it. Tell me about the cover art. Did you decide it together? Stephanie: That was also a process. Peter: Every line is like a relationship and it represents the tension between people. Stephanie: Peter did the artwork of the first record. This time we asked an artist from Belgium to take care of it. I’ve always had this idea that Belgium has a great, active music scene. What do you think about the underground music scene in general? Stijn: I think there are really a lot of special places in the world now, like certain cities, areas where there’s a lot of cool stuff happening. I also think there’s also a lot of places where they were used to be a lot of cool stuff that are dying out a bit. There’re a lot more interesting stuff the last five or six years that came out of Belgium than I’ve ever noticed. So that’s a really obvious one to me. Now that we’ve been to the states for months, there were some cities that when I was like 16 to mid-20s... there were a lot of bands coming from Washington that I really loved. There’s not so much stuff, maybe it’s that I’m too far away from it. Just some stuff I notice. Peter: All the bands who did our supports in the states were pretty good bands.

Stijn: So yeah, that’s going to be interesting. There is going to be people there that we know and that I really want to see again, see them play live… They’re all awesome people and they make beautiful music so, for me, it’s going to be nice. We can play our set, it’s going to be awesome. Then I’m just going to watch bands. Do you have any future plans for Brutus? Stephanie: Roadburn is plan #1. Stijn: Write a new record, tour, keep touring, keep doing it. Peter: Making good records. Because touring is cool and playing big festivals in America is also cool, but if you don’t like your records, you can’t take the next step. Why is it important to you to write music with Brutus? Stephanie: Because it’s what we do. Peter: Because that’s the reason for being in a band.


Are you excited about Roadburn? Stijn: It’s not a festival I thought we would ever play. I always thought that maybe we’re too much of a happy band to play there. Peter: Too many major chords for Roadburn. 32

Stijn: It’s what we do. I started playing music when I was like 13-years-old in punk bands playing bass because it was cool and I kept doing it. For some reason, there was always an opportunity for me to do it. I was like, “I have to do it.” Now it’s just at a point that I have to do it. If I don’t do it, it’s just going to be awkward. My girlfriend, sometimes she makes fun of me. It’s difficult because I’m away from home, but she tells me, “Just do it. If you would be home and not do it, you’d be an asshole.” I’d be a pain in the ass because there would be something missing. It’s such a cliché, maybe. Stephanie: It’s your only legacy. Stijn: There [are] many reasons why many people still love making music now, nowadays. There’s always going to be bullshit in the world. There’s always going to be a reaction to it. I think most of that reaction comes from music, still. So there [are] reasons enough to do it, I think. The world is shitty… Stijn: Definitely, that’s why we need political music, we need emotional music but I also think there needs to be music that doesn’t say anything. Stephanie: Yeah, that’s just careless. Stijn: Yeah, that’s just careless music because people have so much shit in their daily lives that sometimes it’s just also cool to hear somebody sing about their socks or something. It’s stupid but it’s not stupid. It’s so important. Peter: That’s why I like punk music. Stijn: There has to be all kinds of music. Today, more than maybe 100 years ago – maybe, definitely – there are so many more ways of making music. It’s cool, it’s obvious that there’s still so much music around. It’s not like music is a dying art. Any reason to play is good. NEST IS OUT NOW ON SARGENT HOUSE / HASSLE RECORDS






With a completely matured and instantly recognizable brand of Electronic Music, BLANCK MASS has, once more, successfully delved into the ugliest depths of society and human nature. In this conversation with Benjamin John Power (also of Fuck Buttons), the incredible music on Animated Violence Mild served has a kicking-off point to discussing issues such as consumerism, veganism, and population growth, amongst others.


First of all, congratulations on Animated Violence Mild! I felt that the album had some elements that were already present in World Eater, but everything sounds even more Powered-up (pun totally intended). Did you go into the making of Animated Violence Mild with a specific sonic palette in mind, perhaps to better reflect your thematic focus on consumerism? Thank you! As with any of my records, I never step into the initial writing process with a set theme in mind as I find that restricting. Usually I start off with a very blank canvas and the creative process is extremely explorative. I often find that I have to assess my mindset after the fact and usually themes present themselves to me. Saying that, the role consumerism plays on us is a theme that has been playing on my mind for quite some time. You have previously stated that you used a specific synthesizer on this record that was a staple of 80’s music. What do you think about the revival of the 80’s aesthetic in music, film and television that we have been seeing in the past few years? Is it just profiting on nostalgia? I ask this because, in your case, your use of it in parts of the album seems to be in service of the record’s concept, instead of being only an aesthetic choice. That’s correct. I used the Dave Smith OB6 Oberheim clone a lot on A.V.M. The Oberheim was famous for being used for the main hook in Van Halen’s ‘Jump’. I used these 80’s sounds on the record more as a tongue in cheek reference and a way of poking fun at this time period and the rise of consumerism. I have no personal problem in other artists referencing periods in time but that’s not really my agenda. Utilising these elements for me this time around were more of a thematic tool. What is it about the 80’s in particular that you think made that 36

decade become a benchmark of consumerism? Convenience and instant gratification seem to be two factors which really blew up during the 80’s. The fast lifestyle became sought after. A question that eventually comes up whenever I discuss the topic of consumerism with anyone is whether a lot of it is just irresponsible and careless consumption of resources, or if it is instead becoming a more pressing issue due to the increase of population on Earth. You can make a quick visit to Worldometers and see the numbers growing live, it is scary. Do you think that the population growth wouldn’t be much of a problem if we kept our consumption habits in check? That meter is terrifying. It’s difficult to say honestly because the speed in which population is growing is completely out of control. Of course consumption habits being kept in check would help to some degree, but I fear we are a little too far gone. Ten years ago, in a feature for Clash Music, Perry Farrell talked about neutralizing our damage to the environment, and he had this to say: “The irony is that people constantly say that capitalism is the root of all today’s problems but it’s actually capitalism that will save us”. He said it brought freedom that could then be used to make the right choice. Do you think that’s a correct assessment of capitalism’s possible positive effects on consumerism, or has that system ultimately brought on more harm than good? The suggestion that capitalism is going to clean up the mess it made in the first place seems somehow illogical to me. I think what is more likely to save us is a shift in public consciousness. An awareness and willingness to change our habits, which has become increasingly difficult in a culture where we have



been sold convenience for so long. Veganism is an important subject to you, and it has been suggested in documentaries such as Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret that intensive animal farming is the number 1 problem that is contributing to global warming and resource depletion. Just recently there was international coverage of the fires on the Amazon Rainforest, and a lot of land in the Amazon is used to raise livestock and feed it. Could veganism be the ultimate solution, then? Intensive animal farming without a

doubt is one of the biggest culprits. Einstein even said it himself; “Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet”. One final question, and returning to the music itself: the Odd Scene / Shit Luck EP you put out last year was a brilliant 180 turn on your usual sound. Any chance you might be interested in exploring that type of territory in the near future, or was that just a one-off experience? Thank you so much. I had a lot of fun

making that one. It’s not a totally new concept to me as I grew up playing in punk and hardcore bands. I really don’t know yet if it would just be a one-off but I definitely never rule anything out! I like to keep moving and don’t like to box myself in ever. ANIMATED VIOLENCE MILD IS OUT NOW ON SACRED BONES




Faith Coloccia is the driving force behind Mamiffer. Along with her partner Aaron Turner (Isis, Sumac, Old Man Glood, etc) and more amazing musicians, they create songs that have a strong bound to family and personal emotions. Their new album, The Brilliant Tabernacle, is no exception, where it’s captured the human experience such as true love and vulnerability, but also the struggles of maternity - Faith and Aaron are now parents of their first child, Ashley Isadore Coloccia-Turner. We talked with Faith about the new effort, working with Randall Dunn, the label SIGE Records and how it’s like for her to be a mother and musician nowadays.



ou’ve just released Mamiffer’s new album The Brilliant Tabernacle. What can you tell us about the whole creative process and what drove you into making such striking songs. This record took a very long time to make! We started it in 2013, and reworked many of the initial songs over a 5 year period of time, and made two new ones as well. Many songs had vocal compositions without lyrics. I created the lyrics over a long period of time based on dreams, intuitions, visions, and pieces of writing I had collected since I was a child. A major part of the lyric writing was based upon the question “where do we find strength?” Such as the strength to overcome illness, overcome generational sickness, the strength to resist oppression, the strength to protect family, friends, loved ones, to be vulnerable, to survive death, the

strength to bring life into being, to love, to deal with our issues and still be present. I wanted to pull together all the sources I had saved and tested, strength I found in my grandmothers journals, in my mothers ideas of commitment in the face of dangerous situations, in the ideas my father gave to me of the spirit of the earth, ideas I learned in church that I took with me into my adult life. Quotes from books that I happened to read at the very moment I needed them to “save” my life, save me from making bad decisions, save me from being in situations with people that were wrong for me. I wanted to bring all these threads together, and weave them into the songs. Many of the songs compositions are based upon the ideas of weaving codes into cloth, codes that are not immediately apparent but can be “read”, and that hold families together as they are passed down. I have one of these weavings from my family, and I can feel the power of the women who made it, putting their stories into the cloth, and singing while they made it, old songs from the soul, being present and still while working. I attempted to do something like this process in record form. On this album you explore the human experience and all the feelings and emotions that we go through in our lives, such as true love, strength and vulnerability. How much has our society and all that’s related to it affected your music and perception on the world nowadays? This is an interesting subject for me that I attempt to work with on this record: the feelings and issues that come down a family line and are inherited through habit, repetition, example and genetic/inherited memory. I attempt to examine this in my own family line, and shine light on it so that I can be the kind of mother I want to be. I have to look at the deep dark of my family, and what my ancestors learned from the


cultural conditioning they received and passed on, and what subsequent generations of my family did to rectify or conform to these ideas. I wanted to see what I have to work with, and how this is also reflected in other families was well as society. In looking at these things I also could see the strength in many decisions generations of mothers have made, and how these strengths could be taken for granted and overlooked. I wanted to uplift and draw empowerment from my family line. I could see and feel the choice of love, and also the strength of vulnerability. The whole art design of the album was made by you. What inspired you to create such beautiful artwork and how does it link with the songs? The artwork was created with a superstitious intention, and with the idea of weaving in mind. The drawings are each based on the stories of the songs, and the meditation of the line-work was my attempt at protective “magic.” The artwork took a year to complete, and I did the drawings during my sons nap time. Every day I would work with them, and concentrate on my intentions of what kind of world I wanted to help create for my son (and by extension for other’s perhaps), and what he could do with his life force for others. I wanted the text to reflect religious pamphlets I saw as a child. Handwriting mimeographed by old grandmas in my parents church. I wanted the drawings to reflect the idea of an amulet, or tabernacle, much like the folk art I was exposed to as a child in the desert. The cover is a photograph of morning sunshine on grass in winter, I wanted to re-create the feeling of light coming through church windows on Sunday morning, and here show that the church is the earth - the ground and dry grasses the altar, a place of worship. The back of the record is solid gold foil, I wanted golden light to reflect upon 40

the person holding the record, and have the golden light reflect off of objects in the room, showing that the holy tabernacle could be any space you occupy, if you are willing to be present. I wanted to represent the ideas I have had through out the recent events in my life, that holiness is in being present in all that one does. The golden light can show that even for a second-time “stops” and you can commune with the spirit within and all around. You had an amazing cast of musicians working with you on this new album. Tell us a little bit about their contribution to it. Yes, I started the record at Litho Studios in Seattle, WA with Randall Dunn, using the amazing ancient grand piano they have there, and Eyvind Kang did the strings there also. I talked with Eyvind about the ideas behind the songs/compositions and he interpreted them into sound. Sometimes I would tell him the “shapes” of the string arrangements I wished to hear, and he would interpret that way also. I worked with Jon Mueller, and gave him the ideas behind the songs, and some song sound influences, and he would create his parts by interpreting them. When working with Brian Cook, I talked with him about the psychedelic nature of the songs, and he would interpret these ideas into his sound. I sang with Monika Khot on “River of Light”, and I told her an idea behind the song of “Kulning” and of “calling” sounds, and she sang with me based on that idea. I’ve been working with Aaron for about 11 years, and we have a very intuitive working relationship, sometimes I write his guitar parts on piano, or through singing and he interprets my ideas into his own sounds. The Brilliant Tabernacle was produced and recorded by Randall Dunn at Studio Litho. How was it like to work with him for this effort? It was great to work with Randall


again. This is the 10th record I’ve made with him, and I think on this record we had our best working relationship, and understand each other, and trust each others process. In the past there was a lot more push and pull. Randall is great to work on an emotional level, he gets really into the process and the unconscious ideas behind records. Working with him has changed how I perceive music, it’s really a great leap of trust, and I hope to make many more records with him. You also released Mára’s new album Here Behold Your Own and Barnett & Coloccia’s VLF and Retrieval last year; those albums were also produced by Randall Dunn. How do you separate your mindset and inspiration for each project? Yes, this year, I released Barnett + Coloccia’s VLF (we made and released Retrieval in 2013) and also See Through (Collaboration with Aidan Baker and Jon Mueller) which was mixed by my Randall Dunn. I released Mára Here Behold Your Own which I mixed myself onto tape, Randall Dunn mastered that record. I’m not sure if I separate mindsets as much as I feel like I’m always dealing with different overlapping waves of creativity, sometimes the waves wash together, and sometimes they are far apart. Somehow, everything always works out. I take a very long time with ideas and the life of a record’s creative process can be years, so I have a lot of time to determine what creative energies go to which recording. With “Barnett + Coloccia” I only work with ideas Alex and I come up with, usually we come up with themes we’re both thinking about at the time, and plot, we share emotions and paranoias in our process and these inform our records. With Mára, I work solely by myself, and use cassette only recordings. With Mamiffer, I value collaborations, and composing for different instruments and people, and




part of of that experiment and the social aspects of this inform the work. You been releasing music on your own label, SIGE Records, since 2009. Now 10 years later, what were the ups and downs that stand out on this journey with Aaron? What have you got planned in terms of releases for this year? When we started SIGE it was supposed to be a really small operation for our own releases and for some of our collaborators. We wanted to keep control of our artwork and not have as many restraints. Around 2011-12 we started to expand SIGE a little too much and it became overwhelming in terms of products and how many people we were working with, so around 2015 we started to only work with a few people. Now it is more manageable. We never intended for SIGE to get bigger than we can handle, and it did become so for a while. We now have a small group of people we work with, and are continuing to release some of our own records as well. One of the highlights for me, was giving Marshall and Zachary of Black Spirituals the print for their first SIGE release Of Deconstruction at one of their shows. It was so long in the making and such a beautiful collaboration. I have loved working with their powerful ideas and making drawings for them, and seeing their records come to life. Another highlight was in February of this year. Vashon (where we live), got 26 inches of snow - which hardly ever happens. We don’t have any snow plows here, and we had a Sige records showcase at The Chapel in Seattl that night. We all had to make it to the show through the snow, off the island and into Seattle. We didn’t know if anyone would show up to the show because of the snow, but the night sold out! Nordra, Mára, Marshall Trammell + Aaron Turner, William Fowler Collins and Daniel Menche all performed, it was such a great night! For 2020 SIGE a new 42


record coming out for Monika Khot (NORDRA) called Pylon 3, we’re talking with Zachary James Watkins about releasing a solo record, there’ll be another Mamiffer record coming out at the end of the year, my first solo record Ravine Time Map, and 2 Old Man Gloom re-issues. Mamiffer toured the UK and Europe with SUMAC a few years ago. I went to one of the shows and it was an amazing experience. Are you planning on doing another tour together? Yes, we have some ideas about touring together sometime, although I don’t know when. Mamiffer is playing 2 shows in Japan in 2020. How’s it like to be a mother and a musician nowadays? How do you cope with it? Cope? [laughs] Well I don’t feel that I have to try to “cope” with my situation. I feel that I integrate my child into my creative process, and that it’s very good for him to see the work Aaron and I do. We take him to the studio and have taken him to our shows, and he sees our creative processes. One way Aaron and I manage integrating parenting and


creative process is by sharing child care equally, and we are sensitive to each other’s wishes and deadlines, and cover for each other. We have been including Ashley (our son), in our creative process early on, so he knows he’s not excluded, but also seems to respect our need for space when we are working. It was a shock at first not to be able to do things as I accustomed to doing them, although I found that now I am really good at multitasking and managing time - and because of giving birth, I am more creative and sure of myself and my ideas than I was before motherhood. I feel as though pregnancy and giving birth healed many self esteem issues I had, insecurities I had about using my voice, and taking up space. If you are committed to being a creative artist and a parent, you will find amazing ways to bend time and make things happen! Now that 2019 has ended and we’re entering a new decade, what have been the highlights of this past decade for you? Oh gosh! It has been a decade since 2010. So much has changed within that time, thank you for asking me that question, I love to try to think about time in nice sequences. I am just beginning to circle back around to the threads I’d left hanging since 2010, and re-make my connections. And I am seeing mistakes I made and how I healed from them, making sure I nurture connections to long important long-time friends, and seeing clearly how special and important family and close relations are. These thoughts have been highlights, especially becoming empowered and healing through pregnancy and giving birth, and the connections that come through love and kindness, friendship and family. Also picking up on ideas I had in music and art and circling back around. THE BRILLIANT TABERNACLE IS OUT NOW ON SIGE RECORDS




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Hilary Woods has once again crafted another dark, charming soundscape that bursts with intensity and introspection. While Colt was an immersive gut-punch of an album, Birthmarks is raw, noisy and dense, a piece built on opposites, personal change and physically heavier. With her new solo album, Birthmarks, due out in March, the former JJ72 bassist was kind enough to speak to us about her new effort, the creative process behind it, the learning curve between the two albums, her collaboration with Lasse Marhaug and how she managed to translate her feelings into her music.


Y our new album explores “the oscillating volatile processes of selfhood and becoming, hidden gestational growth, and the birthing of the Self, amidst continuous social and personal change.” How did you manage to translate those feelings into lyrics and music? I think the impulse behind creating this record incorporated to an extent all those things. Sonically, the record touches on visceral and vulnerable feelings and the making of any record or any form of expression in and of itself, is an ever evolving and humbling process.

What’s the role or influence of surroundings on your music and specially in the creation of Birthmarks? I’m just curious because Birthmarks was recorded whilst you were heavily pregnant between Galway and Oslo in the winter of 2019. Please correct if I’m ISSUE 26

wrong on this. In terms of surroundings, I recorded this record both at home alone and with Lasse in his studio in Oslo. The beauty of recording at home by oneself is that you can take all the time needed to lay down tracks, experiment, try new things out and do so without any selfconsciousness that might arise in front of another. Other aspects of the record were really served by being recorded with Lasse, and he has exquisite taste and ideas in his recording of other instruments – ie. the sax and cello. It felt organic and it was enjoyable to mix and match how things were recorded on this LP. Colt was a really immersive gut-punch of an album while Birthmarks is raw, dense and with several new levels of intensity and emotion. Do you feel it is important to reflect on learnings from each album – musically and/or emotionally – or to keep moving? What’s different about Colt compared to your new album, Birthmarks? In response to both questions: I think each album is a learning curve for sure, opportunities to refine one’s craft amongst other things. Colt and Birthmarks are each very different creations. Both tap into different sensorial landscapes/come from different places in the body, both inhabit and emit very different atmospheres. Each of these records is an expression of the desire to move on/or keep moving both emotionally and musically, and with one’s life outside of art. Both albums are strongly personal, do you think that Birthmarks is deeper than Colt? No. However I do think Birthmarks is heavier than Colt, not necessarily emotionally but physically. Let’s talk about the song “Orange Tree”, I love the song and how you connect with your inner fear of the unknown with the sense of


overcoming. How comfortably do these two seemingly opposites live together for you? Ah, thank you. I think they live simultaneously together/different sides of the same coin. Fear requires an overcoming of sorts. Are there any patterns in the way you write your music, or any kind of rituals that have become part of your creative progress?

Not really other than I write and sketch ideas and visuals and play around with sound and different mediums a lot, of which a small percentage ends up on record. When you make an album that’s really personal like this, and dealing with life itself, being a mother now, does it feel strange to know that people are going to apply it to themselves and come



away with interpretations that are way different from yours? Is it a hard thing to wrap your head around? I feel as soon as the writing and making part of the process is done, there is a handing over of sorts. How this album is received and interpreted is not in my control, and the listener will always bring their own imprint to it, that is the beauty of sharing anything creative – that a dialogue or exchange occurs between the maker, the record and whomever spends time with it. My intention was to make an honest piece of work and if it speaks to people, that’s great. How was it like to collaborate with Lasse Marhaug for Birthmarks? I must say that the final result is really creative and quite impressive! It was a joy to work with Lasse. We’ve a lot of similar artistic interests and from the get go there was an understanding and ease in our working together. Speaking of the production, was that an aesthetic choice originally, or a matter of the means you were working with at the time? I would say an aesthetic choice primarily. Who would you love to collaborate with? I think a successful collaboration requires a lot of trust and is a rare and intimate thing. There are lots of inspirational artists I admire. I’m not sure at this moment though who I’d love to collaborate with just yet. I love the artwork of Birthmarks. It fits the aesthetic of the record perfectly. Are you the creative force behind the artwork? Yes. I do all my own artwork and videos. I happen to love Chris Marker films and a “bird” told me that was an influence for the new album. So, now I absolutely need to know what are your favorite Chris Marker films. I will tell my top 3: La Jetée, Sans Soleil and Le Fond de l’air est rouge tied up with Lettre de Sibérie. Basically you’ve taken the words right outta my mouth…I love all those you’ve just mentioned! Are you excited for this year Roadburn Festival? The line up is amazing! It’ll be my first time at Roadburn, stoked!












GOLD return to represent their dark and nihilistic world through Why Aren’t You Laughing? out via Artoffact Records. The band has put their blood, sweat and dramatic tears in this new album that combines hypnotic gothic vibes with soulful heavy rock, overlaid with atmospheric, often dream-like vocals. GOLD released their debut record Interbellum in 2012 on Germany’s label Ván Records. No Image followed in 2015 released by Ván in Europe and Profound Lore in the USA, and in 2017 GOLD released the brooding and hypnotic Optimist. Every song of Why Aren’t You Laughing? faces strong and important topics. We sat down with singer Milena Eva and guitarist Thomas Sciarone to talk about their finest album to date.


W hy aren’t you laughing? is the title of your new album. I asked myself this question very often listening to it and my answer always was that ISSUE 26

there’s nothing to laugh about in living in this world and society in this particular historical moment. Did you ask this question to yourself and what was your answer? Milena: I think you’re right with the answer. I think the answer is that the album, all the other songs on the album explain why we’re not laughing. It’s two things: so, the title of the album is Why Aren’t You Laughing? because there is a song called “Why Aren’t You Laughing?” and that song is specifically about people asking you all the time why you aren’t laughing if you’re not laughing and especially men asking women. Because somehow men think that they own the rights to women smiling all the time and being pretty and whatever, which I don’t agree with and hate. So that’s what the song is about. With the album, we thought it was a nice album title because it’s just, as always, a typical GOLD album with so much darkness and a lot of light, which is, I think, probably the way that I look at the world. Not really glass half-full, but half-empty. Thomas: No glass at all. The thing is that, as well as when men ask this question to a woman, maybe in that moment there is no laughing happening, but there are always moments of joy and fun and no matter how dark the world is. We all experience our lighter moments, and especially on tour there’s a lot of laughing happening. Milena: Yeah, of course. There’s also a lot of laughing – well I don’t know if it’s laughing – but there is definitely a lot of jokes or a bit of a sarcastic edge to songs. It’s not that it’s only darkness but it’s definitely not fantasy as well. It’s just the real world we’re talking about, which isn’t that happy, I guess. Thomas: I think what the title is partly, is entitlement. The whole question, when a man poses that to a woman the man feels entitled to be laughed at. Every person is there own person


and nobody dictates what you do or how you should act and I think that’s also an important part of what we are about. Milena: Behind the scenes or behind everybody there is this story that you don’t know of and those stories are definitely on this album. Thomas: It’s individual empowermen. For me it’s the same when somebody cries and another person says, “Oh, don’t cry!” Why not? What the fuck is wrong with crying?” It’s kind of the same how somebody’s personal state affects somebody else and the other doesn’t appreciate it so it’s uncomfortable for them and they make a remark about how the individual is acting. That’s something that’s so common in the way that we interact. There’s no comfort in saying “Don’t cry.” It’s not comforting at all. Cry! That’s comforting. If you feel like crying, cry. The song “Why aren’t you laughing?” has a precise meaning. I remember a phrase that my grandma used to say to me: “smile or you’ll never find an husband with that stern face”. I’ve always hated it. In a world where the woman is portrayed as a stereotype, where every gesture is sexualized, how important was it to you to write a song like this one? Milena: Well, it’s interesting because there are just a lot of women in my life and also my own experience, I think, that inspired that song. There’s this girl I know, she has a kid. When she told me this story, the kid was really small – so a baby still – and she was holding him in this thing on her chest so he was really close to her. She was struggling with getting him into the [wrap] and she got harassed when she was doing that on the street because somebody just started talking to her. At first it seemed kind of nice and then he told her, “I can help you,” and he wanted to touch her and she was just like, “No, leave me alone.” Imagine, you being a woman, that happening to

you but especially with holding a tiny kid you are so vulnerable. She told him no and he said, “Oh, fuck you. You’re a whore,” etc., and he followed her home, which is the weirdest and scariest thing to happen. I just felt like it’s just so weird that there’s this whole idea that men can do this. Also what you’re saying about your grandma, it’s weird that she was actually so involved with you getting a husband. What if you don’t want to have a husband? I really just don’t understand the whole, why would we all be in this strict norm? Thomas: That’s why I think it’s important as a female to take this kind of stance, and also as men of course. Men have to take this stance as well. Because in the rock scene, and especially in the heavy metal scene, a lot of women play along with the stereotype. Milena: I think it’s actually one of the reasons I wanted to write this song as well. It’s not really that I thought, “Let’s write a feminist song” or whatever, it just came out like this. But to me it’s really important because– well, now we have two women in the band – but first we were men with me in the middle. There’s just so many comments in interviews, on tour… it happens a lot that Tomas or somebody else in the band is the leader or whatever and they don’t ask me because I’m just the singer. Or they ask me if I write my own lyrics, which is just the dumbest question ever. You can ask me what inspires me or whatever, but why would you assume that I don’t write my own lyrics? These are all these things that happen to you when you’re in a band and especially in a rock band, I think. Even more as a woman in metal. Thomas: Because Bruce Dickinson is never just a singer, Bono is never just a singer, Ian Curtis was never just a singer. But if you’re a woman, you’re suddenly just a singer. Milena: We seriously had stuff happening to us like doing an interview or we would send out a

press release stating that the two of us are kind of what we called the “headquarters” of the band and we had press rewriting it saying that Thomas is the mastermind and I’m just the singer. We had that once with this one zine. We sent them a press release after that about something else and we wrote in that press release – to just check what they would do – “mastermind Milena and guitarist Tomas” and they switched it around! So it’s not that they don’t want to, I feel like they just don’t really understand how it works. They just think that he’s the mastermind and the brains of everything. Thomas: They’re so stuck in their own fiction, they’re own idea. The thing that I really like about this record is that it is actual and faces a lot of difficult topics. Mental health is one of these. The record opens with “I put one foot in front of the other/ I allow myself to follow my body/ Never really going anywhere” and again “I’ve become so used to darkness/I’m surprised to see the light”. I know depression really well and this song seems so accurate. What inspired it? Milena: It’s interesting that you ask because nobody ever asked this about this song. Normally what happens, or maybe for this album, it was more than ever that I was inspired by things that actually happened to me instead of just general feelings or just vague ideas on what it was about and then afterword I would think about what it was about. I was more or less not that clear and on this album I think the reasons why I wrote all those songs are very clear to me. With “He Is Not,” it’s about a friend of ours that just died out of nowhere. It just happened to him. He had a heart attack. From one moment to the other he was just gone. That’s something that’s so weird to happen to you, especially when you’re depressed yourself because then you sometimes think that you don’t want to be there.


Then if it happens to somebody else… I don’t know how to explain it better than the words in the song, but to me it’s just weird that somebody who wanted to live that bad had that happen to him and then you’re the one who lives on, maybe not wanting to live on because of that loss. I think that’s one of the hardest thing[s] about loss is that you just don’t get to choose it yourself. At the end of the song you say “A word from you would cure everything”. Do you think music or society should talk more about mental health? Milena: I feel like there’s not a lot of space for people to talk about mental health or loss or whatever. It’s something that you really don’t feel comfortable telling about. It’s also one of the reasons why I wrote “Things I Wish I Never Knew,” because that’s a very clear, obvious traumatic experience that I talk about. And it’s something that when you tell people that you experience something like that, they get scared. They don’t know what to say. They never really respond to it. Somehow, it blocks the whole situation so you end up deciding to never talk about it, which is weird because with trauma, it is obviously – and I think something that people who have been in counseling or whatever have experienced – it’s just important to talk about it and get over it or at least have a way to work around it or live with it. So for me it’s very important to sing about all those items because I think that there are definitely not a lot of people singing or sharing those stories. Thomas: I think that’s the main theme of GOLD. Milena: Yeah, creating empathy by telling about everything you experience yourself. Thomas: Inspiring vulnerability, because vulnerability is often seen as a weakness but it’s the ultimate strength. If we can all be vulnerable and laugh at those who try to attack 54

us because of that – that’s the ultimate power – because the bullies, in the end, they’re losers. So I think that that question, “a word from you would cure everything” just… Now I hate the term “safe space” because that suggests or acknowledges that society itself is not safe, but creating this personal safeness [safety] and comfortability [comfort] almost within you, which should always be. Building it within you kind of puts the responsibility on the individual but it’s a shared responsibility where we all take care of each other and give room for each other and don’t laugh at those who are dressed weird or those who have funny taste in music or whatever. If you’re a metalhead, you would probably laugh at somebody because they like Kanye West and I like Kanye West! Every morning I’m scared of waking up because I don’t want to read the next bad news, I don’t want to believe this world is hopeless and completely fucked up because this makes me really sad. So, I try to spend as much time as I can in nature. You face this topic in many songs of this record. Do you think there’s still hope in all this darkness? And how do you escape this brutality? Thomas: I never attempt to escape it. I actually look it up as maybe the wrong word, but I acknowledge it. It’s there and I think you have to face in order to be able to change it, to address it. That’s maybe also how at least I view hope, because there is hope, I think. I do think people, at least 95% of humanity, is in the core good-willing. I even think a lot of bad behavior is even driven by goodwill but combined with misinformation. Personally, I like to address what is happening and put it in a context and share it on Facebook with my friends or whatever and give my personal view on what’s happening. Milena: I think so too. I think for us, what we kind of find not so interesting about the scene we’re in –





or at least I’m not sure if there’s a scene we’re in but the heavy music or whatever – is that there [are] also a lot of bands talking about fantasy, which I don’t really understand. At least I don’t really find comfort or hope in fantasy. It’s just something I feel like doesn’t exist, so for me, it’s probably most interesting to talk about the realness and be okay with that. It’s okay to feel shitty sometimes. It’s not important to be happy all the time. What is that, “being happy?” I don’t know. I think the one thing I do to escape it, sort of, is being in this band and writing music, especially writing the music. I’m not sure if the touring and everything adds a lot to escaping. I’m not sure but touring is always a bit interesting to me, not always fun, but writing the music is. And having that super cool moment where we feel like we have something or Tomas writes something or I write something and it comes together and it works, that’s just one of the reasons why I wake up every morning. I definitely feel like there’s hope. I hope that people hear that there is hope on this album as well. There’s also just a lot of acknowledgment in it, but there [are] also love songs on this album, and I think that love is not everything but it’s a lot.

but if your fantasy is about evil, about how shitty, about how dark the middle ages are, turn on the news and there’s your evil. Milena: There’s the same amount of evil.

The same theme is repeated in “Killing at Least 13” the song that made me fall in love with this record. When you say “Massive manhunt, after van rams crowd Killing at least 13” you’re talking about the Barcelona terrorist attack, right? What brings you to write this lyric? Thomas: It’s funny, you are the very first person to notice, at least that we know. Milena: It was just the headline. We took the headline. I thought, “News, that’s what I’m going to write about.” You don’t need fantasy, you can just turn on the news and you’ll feel shitty as well. You don’t need warm movies. Thomas: If you want to create a utopia, that’s something different,

In your opinion, what do we need to do to change something in this world? Milena: Well, I feel that there’s this whole idea of people wanting to change right now. There’s definitely a lot of people that see that there’s just too many things going on in the world. There was this week that everyone was posting about the Amazon. It’s still on fire, we just forgot about it. There’s just a lot of shit happening. I think the most important thing is that we all talk to each other and we try to be open-minded. In the Netherlands there [are] a lot of right-wing politicians getting a lot of attention, there have always been these left-wing people saying they’re


So that’s why you wrote that song? Milena: Yeah, it’s actually about that and about girls asking on YouTube… There was this period where young girls would ask on their YouTube channels if they were pretty or not which I thought was the most depressing thing I’ve ever heard about. At the same time, those incidents all over Europe – at that moment when I was writing it, Barcelona happened, so those things combined. Thomas: Sometimes all you have to do is be a mirror and that song is a mirror. It’s just like, “Okay, here. See what’s happening.” Of course it doesn’t show everything, it’s a fragmented mirror, but… Milena: I feel like it ends, well, it maybe doesn’t end really hopeful, but to me it ends hopeful because, “I keep my head above water / my feet on the ground.” So you’re really in this place where the water is up to your mouth, you can’t really breathe anymore but you’re still there. You’ll manage.


stupid, the people who vote like that or feel like they are right, but I think that’s the wrong way to approach it. I feel like it’s more important to just listen to what they’re saying and try to understand what they’re problem is and why they think the solution is the right-wing option. I feel like if you talk about it, then you can just come closer and maybe find a way to work with it. I feel like there’s not enough people helping each other in the world. Thomas: You realize that each individual has their own complex history and complex character just like you have. I think that that should be the core of how we treat each other. Being a vegan and an animal rights activist, I always find it difficult that people are cheering that the bullfighter in Spain is being killed, because that person was also driven by a complex set of whatever to become that. Of course what they did is never cool, it’s a ridiculous job, but when somebody like that dies, I’m never cheering. It’s the same when a big game hunter gets killed or when a cop gets killed in riots, a lot of people would cheer, “Yeah, the pig is dead!” Not all cops are bastards, you know. They are also complex individuals with families, with children, with loving wives or whatever and somehow they got into that place by a complex set of... Milena: Or men! Not only wives, or husbands! Thomas: I think if somehow that extreme level of empathy would ever be realized, I think we would achieve a lot more. Milena: I think the whole problem with, for example, Trump, is that he’s the opposite of empathetic. He just only thinks about himself. It’s that simple. I feel like a lot of people are driven by their egocentric way of looking at the world and their own wealth and their own happiness and I think it’s important to understand that if somebody else is feeling better that it might be better for you as well.


Thomas: I even think that, because that’s absolutely true, but next there’s the egocentrism or whatever, but that fire gets even more fueled by not seeing the other as a real person. The whole immigrant situation is because politicians and media tell us that they’re less than human. Milena: Which, when you talk about somebody who’s totally against opening borders or whatever, and you just tell them that people were born there just because they were born there and they couldn’t decide on where they were born, then you see them maybe changing their ideas about it. Is there something that you are proud of as a human being? Milena: I try to do the right thing every day but I understand that there are still a lot of things that I need to learn about. I think that not only the band is mirroring, but I think that we’re self-reflective of ourselves as well. Thomas and I just talking about how we can change or make things better. Thomas: I’m proud that I’m definitely a better person than I was ten years ago. Definitely. And that’s something to constantly strive for, to be a better person than the day before. If you achieve that, I think that’s something that you can be proud of. Musically speaking, how difficult was to give the right atmospheres to the words? Thomas: I think that’s where Milena and I just really, really... Milena: Connect without saying anything! Thomas: It’s not an effort. This is my kind of music. Even though maybe if you would very broadly compare Milena and me, I might be the happier person, the more optimistic person, the more – maybe outgoing is not the right word – but I probably seem happier. But I really need this outlet and this catharsis to maybe even keep my head above water. For



me, there’s this super strong, maybe sad core in me that I give room in my music. Were you looking for a particular sound with this album or did it come naturally? Thomas: There’s always preparation in the way that you fine-tune whatever you’re doing but I think on this album, it’s not that different from Optimist. I think that it’s super dense sadness, the layered sadness is something that we’ve been doing for quite a while now and what did connect better at the studio with Jaime Gomez Arellano as producer who really found room for every detail to flourish. I think that that makes Why aren’t you laughing? our most accessible, most direct album so far. Milena: I also think that it’s more accessible because there’s not only this tension but also a release on this album, which we never really do. I don’t know why we never thought about that, but there’s not a lot of release in our former albums. So I think for this songwriting period for this album that somehow we focused on that maybe a little bit more. Thomas: Somehow you always get influenced by other people saying and we heard that remark about us building up a lot of tension without ever releasing it and we thought, “Ah, that’s very interesting. We never looked at it that way.” Maybe for like a couple songs on this album, we were just, “Yeah, let’s try it. Let’s see what happens to add that certain element.” It was never something that we did intentionally. It’s just the way we wrote and recorded. Probably many artists would want to build the image like, “I don’t listen to what other people say. This is what I do.” But I think we are always very reflective and we definitely digest what people say, never assuming it as a truth, but it’s a way of looking at stuff that if you don’t have yourself, it’s interesting to notice and maybe even use. 58




Why is it important to you to write music with GOLD in 2020? Milena: I think it’s pretty simple. It’s because there’s no other band that sounds like us. I think that what we do is try to cross those boundaries that are there, those norms that are there, those things that we’ve been doing for all these years. We always try to invent new stuff. That’s one of the sides to it. The other side to it is that we just really love to write the best song possible. I think it’s obvious in our music that it’s kind of pop-driven. Somehow we write these pop-structure songs which we try to make our own. I feel like there’s no other band sounding like us. I feel like there’s not enough women in heavy music. I think there’s also maybe not enough vulnerability in louder music. So I’ve been listening to loud music my entire life but there’s just a few bands or acts that I really appreciate because they could be vulnerable, which is I think is really important to make that connection. Thomas: For me personally, I couldn’t imagine a life without making music. Maybe that’s a self-centered drive because it’s kind of an addiction. But when I make music, I cannot do it without ambition and without trying to have impact. Because of that – Milena I’m sure is the same – I think GOLD is a very valuable band to the world. There are too few bands like us around. For me, music is a vessel just like any art form. If it’s not a vessel to really bring something across to the audience, it’s just entertainment. And I’m not against entertainment because I think entertainment is important as well, although it’s often also overestimated because I think you can be very well entertained without the Hollywood formula or the pop formula or whatever. I think that’s important in what we do. It’s using what we do to get something across that other people don’t do or at least that particular view that is our own, to bring that across though. Milena: It’s funny that you say it’s


a vessel, because I could’ve easily been in fashion – which I am a little bit but not in the creative part of it or whatever. Everything I ever made creatively has always been this mirror to whatever I feel like the world is. I think if I wouldn’t make music, there would definitely be another way to release that. We always try to show that in our artwork, in our band merch, in our videos, everything. But also on stage? Milena: But also to show people that there [are] more sides to it. There are literally more sides to the outfit. I feel like it’s stupid to just be a girl in a skirt for the whole set because I feel

like there are so many other facets to it. It’s in everything. That’s exactly what you’re saying. It’s in your musical taste, it’s in the music you make, it’s in the art you like, the movies you like, the books you read or write. Thomas: That’s why we probably could talk on and on and on about GOLD and what we do, but a very important aspect for me to what Milena is doing onstage with her clothing is transformation. Transformation is often viewed as a weakness, because it’s vulnerable because one day you’re this and the next you’re that. People would often say you’re not true to yourself. No, I think that transformation is probably

one of the most important things as a person that you can achieve and not for going from one hype to the other hype but growing and evolving and improving. And never being trapped by what you’re used to. That’s one of the main problems in society is that there’s this norm and people are stuck to a norm and it’s always easy to – it’s safe – to adhere to that norm although better things might be achieved personally but definitely as a society if we move on and let the norm go. WHY AREN’T YOU LAUGHING? IS OUT NOW ON ARTOFFACT



As a musical entity, CULT OF LUNA have never been the most outspoken. They’ve never been at the forefront of they are, and they’ve hardly been the most outspoken or controversial figures, but what that has lent them in the works which can continue to challenge and strike awe and wonder years down the line. With their 20th annivers sound and in A Dawn To Fear, they have raised the bar even further with possibly their grandest and most emot and let him reveal the secrets behinds the band’s quiet determination. 60


f a movement, never been ‘scene’ figureheads, whatever e past has been a quiet power and the ability to create sary just past, they are continuing to push the limits of their tionally wrought record yet. We spoke to Johannes Persson




’ll confess that I’ve only listened through it twice and I’m still trying to take it in – it’s just colossal! Are you expecting that this is an album that people will have to take time with to let it sink in? I never think of it in those terms, that’s the honest answer. When we construct albums and pick song orders, stuff like that, it’s from our perspective of how we think we can best present this narrative and structure, the story of the album. I don’t think much about how other people will perceive it. Maybe we do it unconsciously, but it’s based round our own tastes and perceptions. Am I right in thinking that this album was constructed quite differently from the past few records in that you just got together and hashed it out? The writing process wasn’t that much different. It is what it is. We don’t meet that often so we pretty much have to prepare in advance before we even start. We were pretty well prepared but we didn’t practice that much and things just kind of happened on those very few occasions that we met. I think we were pretty well-prepared when we went into the studio. That was the biggest change because ever since we recorded Eternal Kingdom, the recording process has been that we are up for a couple of days just to record the basic structures and then we split up. Everyone goes home and records in other studios, or at least does some alternative takes, but this time we went to the studio in Norway and hung out as a collective for almost two weeks. It was a very nice time, to have recording stations where people could work simultaneously. If somebody had a question or an idea, we could discuss it there and then and if we had a problem we could solve it as a collective instead of having to go through emails to make changes, 62

or telephone calls. It was more on-hand. It was perfect. We changed stuff, discussed stuff there and then and that was important. I really believe it made a huge impact on the end product, which was the album. You described A Dawn To Fear as being the antithesis of past records. Is that in terms of how the album was constructed, or was it in a deeper sense? I think that ‘antithesis’ is too much of a strong word. Usually, we work around concepts and have been doing that since the second album. The first album, you get somebody to want to make music, you record everything that you have written up until that point, and it has been done without any deadline or goal that you wanted to achieve. We just made it for the fun of it, the writing process is fun but on the second album we were working with more-or-less concrete themes, even before we started writing. We talked about what kind of narrative, what story we wanted to tell and discuss how we could tell it in terms of music, production, arrangements, artwork – every aspect is part and has to be consistent with the theme of the album. With this writing session that we felt that we wanted to try something new. I use the analogy that in the past, we had gone into albums with a picture already made and then we worked on each individual piece of the jigsaw puzzle to make it match perfectly what we wanted to create. This time we started the other way around. I wanted to just write, let the subconscious write and see what came out of it; instead of starting with the picture, we started with pieces and then after we had written a lot of music, we took a step back and looked to see what it was. “What is this? What is this story about, this arch – the narrative?” It was quite interesting to analyse your own thoughts and creative output. To have been able to look at your


output in that way after decades working in one particular mode must have been eye-opening, no? You’re a writer, right? Imagine just sitting down at your computer, without any intentions, and writing down the first sentence that comes into your head, whatever it is. That’s pretty much how I wrote what I did on this album, both lyrics – most of the lyrics, I should say – and music; without any idea of what would come out or having touched a guitar. I don’t know if ‘eye-opening’ is the right word but it was certainly an interesting way of working. The first video for “The Silent Man” is out and the new one is nearly out. Given that the first one functions as a short movie, are these two videos tying in with the themes of the album itself or should they be viewed separately? No, they are very much tied together. I think you’ll understand the narrative much more once the second video as the two pretty much tie seamlessly together. It’s written as one story with two arcs and one overarching theme that ties the two together, so they both work for themselves but are both linked to the theme of each song, but are also linked to things that we have done in the past. Hopefully people will notice but if not, I hope that they can just enjoy the story for what it is. There are a lot of references to stuff we’ve done in the past. Just before this record you had a major retrospective period. The … Highway 10th anniversary shows, a whole bunch of live stuff – Roadburn recordings, Mariner live, the Paris show… did that put you in the right frame of mind to take stock of what you had worked on in the past when moving onto this new record? I think it’s inevitable when you have been doing something for 20 years to look back, especially when you have passed the 20 year mark like us. We have a friend who likes the stuff that


we’ve done and we were talking to him about the songs that meant a lot to him. He was playing some of our old records and I thought, “I can’t believe I wrote that song when I was 19 years old!” It’s too good to be written by a teenager. I’m saying that as a 40-plus year old person but some of the things we wrote, I don’t know how we did it. Especially a record like Somewhere Along The Highway, which we wrote in about three months, seems quite impressive in retrospect. I know I’m talking about me and my friends but still, it’s so long ago I might as well be talking about people we don’t know.


You came from a hardcore background before starting Cult Of Luna. How well do you think that prepared you for your life these days? I can’t stress how important it was to learn the discipline of do-it-yourself. For me, ideas, politics and music are tied together and that’s due to my musical upbringing. I was raised in the hardcore and punk scene. Those colours don’t run, they never fade away. Even though my body’s 40 years old, my mind is still 16. No-one is going to do anything for you, you might as well do it yourself. Being proactive has been a very fruitful lesson in life for me. I’m not waiting for anything to happen. If I want something done, I’ll do it myself and I’ll do it right away. I don’t have time to wait. It’s early days just now but there have been the announcements of your work at Roadburn next year with Julie Christmas and James Kent (Perturbator). How did the idea of those collabs come along and how’s it coming along? The only real collaboration is with James. We’re going to write an hour of music – apparently! I need to find time but I can’t wait, I’m a big fan. I saw him in Stockholm last time and it was one of the most powerful live shows I’ve seen. It’s quite strange,

it was quite a small stage with just him and a drummer but it was just massive. I could easily have stayed for another hour. I don’t know what I can do to add to his talent but we’ll see. When it comes to Julie, I’m just going to be playing guitar. As far as I know, we’re going to be playing stuff from her discography and it will be another interesting experience to play other people’s songs. I’m not used to that. I’m learning songs just now and I never realised how hard it is to learn other people’s music because when I write I know from the start how it ebbs and flows and what motivates them. That’s the thing, every song I’ve ever written, I still know; I could probably walk on stage and play songs that we haven’t played in 15 years but learning other people’s songs is completely different, it’s almost like I need to think about it mathematically just to understand how they are written, but I am getting there. It’s a long time to Roadburn so I’m sure that when we’re on stage it will be as natural as playing our own music. The Perturbator remix that was done off the back of Mariner – who approached who about that? It’s a boring answer but that was management talking to management. That was before I knew James personally. I was a fan of his. It was our manager that introduced me to him and ever since then I listen to his music when I write, when I work, when I work out… You used less in the way of keyboards for the new album and were focussing more on organ and organic sounds. Was that done as a comedown from Vertikal and Mariner? I talked about earlier how we started how we were working in a different way from usual so once we had a couple of songs written we started talking about what story these songs were telling. We came to a conclusion and after that we asked ourselves


the best way to present these in terms of instrumentation and production. It was very obvious from the start that we would have to work with a more organic sound palette and organ felt very natural. We still used analogue keyboards and there were a lot of keys, it’s just that you don’t really hear them. They were in the background to give the songs some atmosphere. But there is a lot of organ, old stuff, old techniques and stuff like that. That’s the kind of sound that I feel very much at home with right now when it comes to where I want our sound to be. The band have changed so much over the years and you must have as well. You can hear that in some of your guitarwork, but do you feel that you’ve grown as a guitarist? No. I’ve been doing this for so long that it’s the only thing I can do. There’s not much thought that goes into the writing of that, I’m never going to be a great guitar player technically and I’m never going to be too advanced in my technical skills. One thing that has happened in the last couple of years is that I’ve had an easier time writing better riffs, I don’t need to work as hard. I’ve been in some kind of creative tsunami and I’ve written a lot of music, a lot of things that I think are good but haven’t transformed into whole songs yet but there’s a lot of stuff that has flowed through my fingers in the past couple of years and I hope that will continue. Let’s just say, I haven’t had writer’s block at all. Did having that break before Vertikal helped to give you space? It’s hard to answer those kind of questions because there’s no thought process that goes through that for me, like I’m consciously aware of it. Look at it from my perspective – I just write and I think how your writing progresses is… stuff just happens. I don’t analyse it. Apparently, for some reason, I’m able to write more stuff that I’m proud of – maybe that’s 64

because I’ve unconsciously lowered my standards! I still throw away most of the stuff I write but I throw away less. Are you constantly writing? For example, are you working on anything now or are you just operating in ‘tour prep’ mode? No, I write all the time. Since we don’t live in the same city, I have to write drafts on the computer and I haven’t done that in a while, but I’m preparing stuff. I’m very close to getting all my stuff in order to start tracking. I still write, I’m just not recording and there’s a lot of stuff that I’ve been writing for a while. Whatever it turns out to be in the end, I don’t know but we’ll see. Do you write everything with Cult Of Luna in mind or have you been tempted to release anything on your own? Tempted? Yes. My life is basically a struggle to find time to do stuff. I have too much on my mind and I can’t afford to invest time in other stuff. I don’t have the motivation to play with any other people and I would rather work with them, but who knows what will happen in the future. I understand you’re a record collector, so what was your last purchase? This probably isn’t as sexy an answer as you wanted to hear but …And Justice For All – Tallica. I’m not a huge fan but it’s a staple in heavy metal, so I got that in two days ago. You’ve done a few interesting covers, like Amebix and Smashing Pumpkins. Anything else you’d like to try? Not at the moment. I can’t really tell you why we’ve done all these covers. We did a cover of Joy Division over a decade ago in some live session for Swedish radio that was quite good. I love the cover we did of Unbroken for a 7”. We recorded it during Somewhere Along The Highway and



we changed that quite a lot. Also, the Amebix cover was interesting. Sometimes I just get stupid ideas. It’s not planned, sometimes I just think, “Hey guys, we’re heading to the studio, let’s try this song or that song.” No cover is planned right now. What Joy Division song was it? “24 Hours”. I think even before we released the first album, we’re talking in ’99, we did a cover of “Transmission”. This was literally 20 years ago. I know we didn’t record it and maybe that was for the best. We were

reaching, just trying to find our sound back then. Did you do anything special for your 20th anniversary? No. Magnus and I, along with the people who were involved even before we had a solid line-up, started practicing in ’98 but when we recorded that demo on January 5th and 6th of ‘99 is where I start counting from. We uploaded that demo and that’s basically it. We did a 10 year anniversary for Somewhere Along The Highway

and that’s it for anniversaries now. I might sound like a hypocrite because even though I talked about how it’s inevitable to look back at what you’ve done, you have to keep looking ahead and feel that your best material is still ahead of you. Otherwise, it’s going to be very depressing. A DAWN TO FEAR IS OUT NOW ON METAL BLADE


From a band whose name was whispered like a mere footnote even amongst the underground, to one revered by both indie and major publications. À propos of the band’s one and only show in Portugal last year, we caught up with Alexis S.F. Marshall to discuss Daughters’ latest record and tours, poetry, the current state of music journalism, and more.








t’s been mentioned in a lot of interviews already, you guys were away for a while, and then you came back, and the reception to the record and the shows has been really amazing… so how does it feel to have this kind of comeback reception during all of these tours since the new record came out? Oh, it’s nice. It’s unexpected, and it’s new for us. We never got a lot of attention years ago, so it’s great, because now we can come play in places like here, and we’ve gone to a lot of places we’ve never been to before this past year, so it’s great. If people don’t pay attention, you really can’t do as much. So thankfully, people are looking at us. As announced by the promoter, it’s your first time in Portugal, right? No, I think we played here in 2004, or something like that. Oh, right at the start! Yeah yeah, early on. Maybe 2005… I’m pretty sure we played here. I think we didn’t play in Spain and we drove all the way to Portugal and played a show in Portugal, because we couldn’t get a show in Spain. That tends to be a problem, because we’re in the periphery of Europe, so that basically means that people have to come here on purpose to play and then go back so, logistically, that tends to suck. [Laughs] Yeah yeah, it’s like Southern Florida, in the States. Nobody wants to go to Florida. You mean like Orlando, Miami…? All the way to the bottom. It’s a pain in the ass, yeah. But even in, say, L.A., that’s in the periphery too, right? Isn’t it the same problem? 68

I mean, it’s the coast, so you gotta go out there, because there’s so many people there, so the Bay Area, L.A., it’s a part of it. But so, we came a long time ago, and it’s our first time back in quite a while. Nearly 15 years. So I wanted to ask you a question about the new record. I don’t know if it’s just because of the tone of the record, or if it was on purpose, but it always seems to me like there’s some kind of story in the lyrics. “Ocean Song” has a protagonist, but was it intentional to try to create a story, or is it just my impression? Well, it’s not necessarily a linear story from beginning to end. When I write, I try to write more from a literary standpoint than trying to make things rhyme or write a catchy hook or something, so there are characters, and things are situational, but some of it is a bit personal and some of it is fantastic, make-it-up type of shit. But that’s just my way of writing: more literary-centric than a typical songwriter thing. There are a lot of recurring themes, and you don’t have to look hard to see that there are recurring themes in my writing. I think it’s easy for people to think that everything is linked in some way. And the music also helps, because it’s definitely got a vibe, and it never feels like you stray from that vibe throughout the album, so that’s why I got the impression that there had to be some kind of connection between the songs. No, nothing deliberate I suppose, but it’s up to the listener to decide what’s there and what isn’t. So you’re all for the listener making up meaning from the lyrics? Absolutely! I mean, I’ve done that listening to music myself over the years, so a song might mean one thing to the writer, but it means


something else to me, and I don’t wanna be told how I’m supposed to feel about a particular piece of music or anything else, so I don’t have any interest in doing that and telling you how you should feel about it. For me that always made sense in terms of how people feel about the music, but then I always think that if the writer meant something particular, or there was a story, it’s kind of weird to then say “you get whatever you want from the track”, because maybe there was an intention to the track, and that feels like a cop-out to being able to write whatever you want, and then the listener will figure that out him/ herself. [Laughs] Yeah, I mean, I think that it’s important for you to write something that you feel passionate or care about, but once you put it out it’s for everybody now, and so to try to hold on to that when people look at it in particular ways just seems fruitless, and I have no interest in doing that. You can’t control that. Right, and there’s no point in trying. You mentioned the way you write lyrics, and this goes into something I really wanted to ask you about. Other than lyrics, you also write poetry, and you’ve released a poetry book (A Sea Above The Pains of Our Youth). Is that book still in print? No, it’s out of print now. I’m in the process of putting some other work together, so I’m kind of happy that that book is done, and I felt great about it at the time, but in hindsight it’s something that I look at and I just think that there’s some good stuff in there, but a lot of it is shit. I feel the same way about things that I’ve written for records over the years. But I think that’s normal for every artist, right? It’s hard to be proud of every single thing you do. Yeah, I’d say so. It’s just part of it.



Was it difficult to navigate the literary industry? Because it seems like it’s even harder than the music industry sometimes. Yeah, because you can’t just play and get noticed. You have to put yourself out a lot more and sort of sell yourself, and I’m not good at that. So luckily for me, Permanent Sleep published the book, and Dylan Walker from Full of Hell told them I was writing, and they approached me and messaged me about it. So it was pretty easy to get that first one out. At first I was going to try to do it myself, with no idea out to do it. I got on social media, and started doing all that kind of shit… I don’t know what the hell I was doing. I’m so glad that I didn’t have to try to sell anything, because they found me, and it worked out. That really helps things. I’ve been trying to find a publisher for my own poetry, and it’s hell. The best thing you find are contests where you have to pay 30 or 40 euros/ dollars to get even slightly noticed. Yeah, I don’t like submitting work. I stopped doing it, I didn’t like it at all. And I hate looking at the band as a “springboard” but people are already sort of paying attention, so it’s easier for me than for a lot of other people, which seems a bit unfair, but I don’t know, that’s just the way it is. So luckily I’m working on a couple of other things, and they’ll appear soon enough, I suppose. That’s great, I’m really looking forward to reading that, actually. I recently came across a not-so-recent quote from Robert Frost, and he said: “Free Verse is like playing tennis without a net”. And then I started thinking about recent poetry, and all of this Instagram poetry, Kupi Kaur and all of these people, and I felt like it was appropriate to ask you about your opinion on this topic, because you care about poetry. And I don’t know what is happening lately, it’s like

the industry is changing a lot, and people are only paying attention to poetry if the authors have Instagram “likes”. I think a lot of people who are feigning an interest in poetry are doing so because of things like Instagram and these kind of fortune cookie poems where it’s something motivational, like two lines or something very morose or comically sad and all of that, so… and it’s easy, it’s everyone who ever felt sad in Junior High, who wrote their feelings in their notebook, and now people will praise them for these terrible, terrible things. But I think it’s temporary, and I don’t necessarily see… I mean, Christ, I hope not… someone like Rupi Kaur or anyone else becoming a poet laureate or something like that, or being published in The Paris Review. It doesn’t hold water, it’s not gonna last, and it’s just like what we see in music, where... I use The Strokes as a reference the whole time: they got so big, and all of these other bands came up around them, and nobody remembers those other bands. It’s temporary, and it all fades. Perhaps at some point we will have a revival of… I don’t want to say “real poetry”, because that sounds really pedantic, but something that is more than just something you can put on a background image of someone at the beach or a sunset. Yeah, people love it, and the people speak and you should listen, but… it’s tough, man, when it comes to art. People love Nickelback, they’ve sold millions of albums. I mean, personally, I don’t like it, but there’s an audience for it, so it’s hard to argue against it. But will it last? I don’t think so. Probably not. I wanted to ask you one last thing: there’s a song on the new record called “The Reason They Hate Me”, and you mentioned in interviews how it addresses music journalism and album criticism. And it’s interesting,


because you address that, you release the album, and then it’s got this great, great critical reception. Does it give you second thoughts on addressing the topic, or do you still feel exactly what you meant when you wrote the song? No, it was sort of a general statement. I did write a bit about some “journalists” (and I use the term loosely in particular), but it’s more of a… people feel that their opinions are the beginning and ending of everything, and that all that they have to say is very important. And that’s all well and good, but when your only contribution to the conversation is a sort of angry and spiteful message, like some guys in Criticism, I mean… I think it’s lazy, and it’s what people do when they really don’t have anything to say. They want you to know why their opinion matters about this and that they’re smarter than you. “Here’s why you don’t need to listen: because I’ll just tell you what it is and you don’t have to think about it”. And everybody just lets them get away with that. That is of no benefit to anyone when you’re a journalist on anything, in any case, covering whatever. Like the war of Bosnia, or some shit. You need to tell us who, what, where and when. The point is: you should contribute in a positive way, or at least in a way that is productive, and not necessarily in a way that is self-serving, and that’s what I feel, that many journalists are very self-serving. Especially in the States, with major news outlets, because it’s not just with music journalism, it’s journalism across the board for the most part. And it’s not even exclusive to journalism! It’s people with their opinions, everyone can say a bunch of bullshit whether they believe it or not, on the internet and comment sections, and… people who do that feel good about themselves to do some nonsense like that, and I don’t think it’s positive or helpful. It’s not that I’m an extremely positive person, but if you’re gonna 70

be an asshole, at least be smart about it. But very few are. But the thing is that even when the reviews are positive, a lot of them just seem to be people grabbing a couple of really cute words from a Thesaurus dictionary, and putting them out there. Right.



Would it be better, in your opinion, if the reviews at least had a little bit more analysis of the music itself, and the lyrics themselves? Yeah, probably, but… I’m not a critic. I have opinions just as anyone else does. People are criticizing the critics right now, and I’m doing so in a vague way, I’m not even being very specific. You just don’t make a living with those opinions. Right, it’s mockery, you know? Everyone’s got their shit they want to say, and everyone wants to be heard. I think that if critics really took a little more time to really analyze what it is that they’re critiquing, then they may benefit from it themselves, and not just say something and then throw it out into the ether… and move on to the next thing. The frustrating part is the critics that care so little, they have to care the least. They say their bullshit, and then move on to the next thing, they don’t dwell on it… they don’t think about it again. Suffer those of us who are criticized! Because it can be frustrating. YOU WON’T GET WHAT YOU WANT IS OUT NOW ON IPECAC






Last December Pop. 1280 released their first new album in three years, Way Station. Over the years they have learned how to refine their sound and approach and this new venture is the perfect example of that. It sounds abrasive and well-crafted at the same time, it challenges you and is fucking ambitious. This new effort is somehow a turning point on the band’s core (now down to the core duo of Ivan Drip and Chris Bug, and new recruit Matthew Hord) and sound. There is a new creative direction and Way Station is without any kind of doubt their boldest effort till date. We caught up with Ivan and Chris to talk about the recording process, climatic change, today’s music media and how they dealt with the leaving of Andrew Chugg and Allegra Sauvage. WORDS: FAUSTO CASAIS



aradise was released in 2016, what has changed for you Pop.1280 since then? Chris Bug: The biggest change in the band is that we became a trio with Matthew Hord (Running, Brandy) as our synth player. Matthew has a number of analog synths and more technical know-how than we do. Through him, we began exploring the wonders of midi! Simultaneously, we have advanced our drum machine programming skills, enabling us to have more complex beats. I know the recording process was different this time around. How did the album come together in the studio, and how did it diverge from what you’d been doing before? Ivan Drip: Unlike Paradise where we layered each instrument one-by-one and did almost nothing live, for Way Station we tried to start out every song by doing a live take with a drum machine, a rhythm instrument like a synth or guitar, and a usable vocal track. If we could get these three elements working then we would build the song from there. Also, we consciously tried to branch out our palette of sounds. We used piano, acoustic guitar, 12-string guitar, and a bunch of new analog synths and drum machines we’d never used before on records. How have you guys dealt with the leaving of Andrew Chugg and Allegra Sauvage? And how did this setback in the band’s core changed your creative approach for the new album? Ivan Drip: I think we dealt with it with a mixture of depression, frustration, and inspiration. You spend so much time with people in a band and come to expect them to do the things they 74

usually do musically. I think, though, that it forced us to take a bigger leap creatively. It brought us back to just the two of us writing together and really opened us up to what could be the start of a song. A song like “Monument” began as just a sample and a bunch of metal hits and I’m not sure we would have written it if we hadn’t been forced into trying new things. I also don’t think we would have tried a song with such a normal guitar part as “Hospice.” Chris Bug: It took us almost a year to figure out how to proceed with Pop. 1280. In many ways, this setback became a serendipitous opportunity because it forced us to learn new skills and push ourselves in new directions. In the end, I think we benefited from the line up change because I feel that we have created our best album. Also, although Andy isn’t in the band, he remains a crucial creative collaborator on this album, and I believe that his recording methodology and creative input can we felt all over the record. For me Way Station sounds apocalyptical, reflective and there’s a sense of minimalist chaos that echoed in me every single time I listen to the album. At times I was completely absorbed by the claustrophobic and bleak atmosphere but at the end I felt that the whole experience was very liberating. Was this intentional or did I totally fail on my interpretation of how the record sounds? Ivan Drip: That actually makes a lot of sense about where we were when we made the album. We started out feeling like our options were limited, we were boxed in and didn’t know how to be Pop. 1280 without our longtime collaborators, but then after a time and a number of songs something clicked and we felt like we had made something completely different then we had before and felt like new doors were open. Chris Bug: I think the fact that you listened to the album more than once


and contemplated the songs and allowed yourself to think about them, interpret them and be influenced by them means that you could not have failed in your interpretation. Most people just listen to a few songs on a streaming service while they scroll through advertising feeds and strobing pocket billboards. Any time we can connect with music is a victory. I think that all the things you observed about Way Station are correct. We were intentional with the minimalism and we made a concerted effort to be more reflective, both with the lyrics and the music. The apocalyptic aspect I think was something less intentional that just naturally emerged from us as we wrote the songs. If you live on this planet in 2019 and you are not writing apocalyptic themed songs, then there is something seriously wrong with you. Perhaps Instagram and Facebook have succeeded in imprisoning you in their alternative


reality. Reality should be liberating, even if it sucks! How did you get yourself in the right headspace to record music like this, that deals with a bunch of humanistic themes, like the sense of community, death, aging, loss and the responsibility we have of the serious issue that is climatic change? Ivan Drip: I think that this headspace kind of found us. All those things you mentioned are things that have been happening in our lives. I’ve tried to find more time to sit and reflect on what I see around me instead of acknowledging it and then just ignoring it for as long as I can. Chris Bug: For me, I think this has become my permanent headspace, which is probably not a healthy way to live. Much like Hawkeye in MASH, I find the burden of modern living to be overwhelming. But I think

it’s critical to address these themes in all artistic mediums, including music. As far as I can tell, most new music is about nothing except self gratification. You’ve been in the New York experimental scene for a while. Does this album feel tied to New York or is the city that never sleeps still capable of being an influence in your sound? Ivan Drip: I think it is an influence, but honestly traveling and being away from the city and the desire for more space and solitude is a more conscious influence. Chris Bug: For me personally, a lot of this album felt like I was lashing out against New York. I have developed an adversarial, alienated relationship with the city, and I find myself hating it more and more. It’s a playground for rich people who ignore the working class. The class divide here

grows wider every year. Rich people are disgusting to me. I would love to know what are your thoughts about today’s music media. Chris Bug: Today’s music media is a tremendous, pathetic joke, as I’m sure you well known. It has nothing to do with creativity or intellectualism or even writing. It’s about people who know nothing carelessly spitting out recycled platitudes because they don’t have an original thought in their heads. Sometimes I look at an old c opy of Alternative Press from the 90s that I keep in my house, and I get depressed thinking about how awesome music journalism used to be. If you asked me what music website to read for consistent, quality journalism, I could not give you an answer.




Our independent analysis on the new releases that matter


ANTI-FLAG 20/20 Vision Spinefarm

You’d think political tinged music would be a dissipating trend? Well for some it can be too much. For others, it’s relevant, raw and punchy. American punk stalwarts Anti-Flag maximise their sound here. Never a band to fit into a box, never an act of dull responses. Their music is blistering, constructed well and vicious in parts. And politics do offer the outfit a topic to sing about, a theme which is on the minds of many. Toxic in its issues, America is supposed to be the fundamental land, a hub 76

of glory and repose. In fact, it is a country in disarray, underweight in terms of dreaming and hope. The future looks dizzy. Anti-Flag are a monumental band. There’s no doubting their influence on a scene that has changed faces over the years. They’ve been coping under the strain of political injustice for 25 years, writing resonating music of a standard many bands can’t emulate. It may be an audacious claim, but Anti-Flag have an armoury of songs which make us contemplate the state of the union, the quality of the oxygen we breathe, those newspapers we read. They’re an act dissecting political agendas so we don’t have to, and you know what, it’s commendable. And America is tired. Groggy


and falling in and out of mania. Dreams ache to escape minds tattered. With power rushing through the veins of a hierarchy, people who are up in the skies of the establishment, many Americans feel like outcasts. Despondent and stuck to the undercurrent, they’re feeling marginalised. This should never happen. Not in the modern world. 20/20 Vision is a record dutifully responding to smashed dreams and unsavoury actions. The band, don’t cut from other sounds here. The brash, volatile, chords are still present, the riffs, splendid. Over the course of the album, crashes of empathy hit, rationalised statements appear justified. It is overall, an opus that never flounders or struggles to be relevant.

ALCEST Spiritual Instinct Nuclear Blast

instrumental blast, offers a chance for a punk rally. Anti-Flag’s immense album 20/20 Vision may spark tension and controversy. But, with the world in confusion, it is a needed supplement of music and poetry. Over the globe, many are frightened by the current regime. Not only are Americans under strain, other countries feel the sharpness of the sword too. Hearts feel like they’re going to be dismantled and deprived of blood. People are isolated, stuck in a storm of political ideals, their questions are never answered. Anti-Flag’s words will never go unnoticed. Their influence will never be blasted from memory. 20/20 Vision is a record of truth.

The development of Alcest from post-BM progenitors to indie darlings has been one of the more uplifting metal journeys off the past decade or so and with Spiritual Instinct it looks like they’ve turned back to their roots, albeit bringing a few neat tricks that they’d picked up on their journey along for the ride. A return to darker, more aggressive sounds on opener “Les Jardins de Minuit” will come as a source of joy for those who had perhaps lost interest in the band a few albums in and the sounding of Neige uttering infernal screeches alongside Winterhalter’s impeccable blastbeating is a welcome nostalgia trip, but the greater nuance of recent works has strengthened that initial blueprint immeasurably. The melodies are considerably more insistent, often creeping into the brain and laying dormant for weeks, and though the folky interludes do still weave their way through most of these six cuts, they’ve now gotten to the point where they’ve absorbed so many textures and tones over the years that they’ve become truly transformative, able to transport their surroundings to other worlds rather than merely embellish or offer contrast. Alcest have never had what could be called a ‘poor’ album in the entirety of their career but in terms of maturity, songwriting and sheer audacity, Spiritual Instinct feels like a pinnacle. Whether it will continue to be considered so in the future is up to fate but by returning to the energy of their early recordings, they’ve redefined everything they’ve done in just 40 minutes.




Intelligent wordplay infuses proceedings. “Hate Conquers All” starts the ride. Abrasive guitar lines don’t retract from the subject matter, but add stability and musicality. Hate is a strong word, but one that is used plentifully in American vocabulary. 20/20 Vision begins slowly then bursts from the seams. Atmospheric and gallant, it points at weak spots of a country’s decline. The guitar solo adds a state of joy. Christin Nationalist feels like a war cry, a battle cry, a report on fleshed out wars. Musically, it demands attention. Guitars are played out and the chorus is a bashful segment. “Unbreakable” conveys a sense of astuteness and power over greed. This band sings for change here, and their tightly, well-tuned



CLIPPING. There Existed an Addiction to Blood

Generally speaking, releasing your new album on the same day as you re-press two of your biggest releases (namely the hella metal Akuma no Uta and the utterly sublime Feedbacker) doesn’t really inspire much confidence but then again, Boris have never taken the safe route with anything. LφVE & EVφL, a double album and their first for Jack White’s Third Man Records, acts in many ways like a tweak of DEAR’s career-retrospection/reenvisioning, this time not just picking up the monolithic sludge of their early works but also folding plenty of the post-rock anthemics and pseudo-pop leanings of their middle period too. In other words, if you’ve heard Pink then you likely know what you’re getting here. In Boris’ defence, that’s not much of a criticism as much of it feels like the band doing what they do best. Wata’s understated solos feel impeccably well-tailored to the album’s glacial pace, while her guitar tone on monolithic closer “Shadow of Skull” is a Sleepworrying triumph of volume and tone. Likewise, Atsuo’s reliance on thunderous beats puts him in good stead and even if he doesn’t ever get the chance to really run wild, the tribal surges of “EVOL” add another feather to his nowoverbrimming cap. It’s Atsushi’s vocals that really hint at LφVE & EVφL taking Boris somewhere different, though. From the relative warmth of “Away From You” to “LOVE” wheedling utterances and the desperate howls of “Shadow Of Skull”, it feels uniquely expressive. For a band that have often relied on Wata’s flexibility of tone to do the talking, this feels like a bold step and even if it doesn’t quite take this record to the legendary status of its forebears, it’s still a worthwhile listen in its own right.

I’ll be honest, when it comes to dividing a genre down into its many sliced sub-genres and facets - I get confused by all the new pronouns that kids are using these days. Horrorcore is one such singer I wouldn’t be able to explain, but I very much understood it as a listening when I pressed play on this album. Dripping with a sense of eerie cinematic soundtrack quality, musically comparable to a John Carpenter score - threadbare and repetitive and basking in a simplicity that has much more weight and importance than you can imagine - this is music that uses the space it creates as a beautiful canvas for vocals to shine. With an impeccable flow and a voice that veers close to Andre 3000 - Clipping. have created a genuinely thrilling, and shy, boundary pushing album here using very few tools and a lot of intelligent design. Opening tracks, “I Tro” and “Nothing Is Safe” blend into one giant slap in the face that taunt and tease and haunt and chase you. A single repeated piano line provides the spine for what is a genuinely tense, intimidating opener that sets a high bar for the rest of the album to stalk and eviscerate. Something it does with convincing aplomb. With reggae influences, horror influences, and an understated, incredibly catchy theatrical quality is a stunning, pivotal album that could well be a calling card that more bands to come will be citing as an inspiration for many years to come. Thrilling stuff and rewards you with every repeated listen.

Third Man Records


Sub Pop




DANNY BROWN Atrocity Exhibition

BEST COAST Always Tomorrow Concord Music

Always Tomorrow is Best Coast’s fourth full-length release and their first since 2015’s California Nights. The wait for new stuff from the LA’s duo was too long but we must say it was worth it. Bethany Cosentino has always been simple and direct with her songwriting and over the years she has grown as a musician and as a person. Before working on this new effort, Bethany had a writer’s block and had to force herself to write, to let everything out. With the help of her

partner in crime Bobb Bruno, the result is a much matured album and they’ve elevated their music with a different kind of catharsis. This time around, Bobb wrote the music to four songs of this album, which was something they’ve never done before, and turn out to be of the best moments of the album showcasing a much moreconfident Bethany has an expanding range as a vocalist. Her struggle with sobriety and anxiety were clear references for her lyrics. Songs like “Wreckage”,

“Graceless Kids” and “Different Light” are brilliant and catchy tunes to keep you sing them all day long. Bethany said “This record is the story of a second chance” and we couldn’t agree more, life’s not perfect and that’s what make it more interesting and more thrilling to write about, even if it’s the same thing over and over again, because that’s how life is. Emotions both from past and present will always stick around. ANDREIA ALVES





Stickman Records

It’s fair to say that the psychedelic rock scene is thriving. There has never been as much quality music as there is today, and the way fresh subgenres keep pushing forward and driving the psych rock beyond its imagined limits is impressive. Following 2017’s Reflections of a Floating World and the 2019 experimental EP The Gold & Silver 80

Sessions, Elder return with one of the most expansive and progressive efforts you will listen this year. One striking feature of Elder’s music is how well structured it is. It’s hard to ignore the lush dynamics and how the balance between their heavier side artfully connects with their atmospheric, almost cinematic side. Omens, the band’s fifth full-length record, is a massive and unpredictable effort. From psychedelic rock to krautrock’s palette of layers and sounds, the quartet conjure a heart-palpitating array of kaleidoscopic displays, an


effort built on melody that easily clashes with the ugliness of desolation. The contrasts between the immersive opener and title track “Omens” and the epic closer “One Light Retreating” are the perfect example of how they managed to connect all the dots. Composed as a concept album spanning the lifetime of a civilization, Omens is a complex piece and a colossal achievement, but with the ability to sound fresh and unique, offering new elements and details with every listen. FAUSTO CASAIS


ENVY The Fallen Crimson Pelagic

For the past 28 years, Japanese visionaries and sonic terrorists Envy have lived and breathed between hardcore and post-rock brilliance. Since their inception they have

been sharing their unique artistic expression and relentless body of work. Nowadays they are much more than a hardcore band, they are a cult and still one of the most relevant and exciting bands around. In their career they’ve gone through all the classic stages of being a band with a legacy so it wasn´t out of the ordinary to watch them rise, peak and stagnate. When some original members left the band at the end of 2015, we feared for the worst but, since vocalist Tetsuya Fukagawa’s return in 2017, the band has received a brand-new and refreshing energy with 3 new members. The Fallen Crimson is Envy’s first new album in five years. Let’s say this new effort is probably the best album of their careers and their sound today is more expansive than ever. Equal parts aggressive and built on a new set of dynamics and

intensity, The Fallen Crimson sounds infectious and heavy. The cavalcade of tracks like “Marginalized Thread”, “Fingerprint Mark” and “Dawn and Gaze” float around Fucked Up’s hardcore style and the breathtaking intensity of bands like There Arms Are Snakes or Loma Prieta. But what really makes this album outstanding is the multilayered contrast between beauty and brutality: “Eternal Memories”, “Reincarnation” or even “Memories and the Limit” are the perfect example of how to push the boundaries of hardcore and postrock at the same time. The Fallen Crimson is Envy’s masterpiece and time will certainly grant these Japanese noise makers with the same kind of reverence given to bands like Fucked Up, Explosions in the Sky and Alcest. Wait and see. FAUSTO CASAIS




FOTOCRIME South of Heaven Profound Lore

Fotocrime is Ryan Patterson’s not so long-ago leader of Kentucky punk, Coliseum – bold new direction: a synth-heavy post-punk effort with tinged elements of goth-rock and darkwave. After the release of two EPs, 2018’s debut album Principle of Pain, South of Heaven is the perfectfollow-up album. Patterson is not stepping away from the core sound of his debut album, but he continues the same loose and uncertain attitude that seems to have 82

led to creating his past sonic ventures. “This is a record for late night drives, a soundtrack for headlights illuminating the horizon,” says Patterson, and it’s the absolute truth, simply put. If you dive deep into lead single “Love is the Devil” or album closer “Tough Skin”, you’ll find some light in the whole darkness the album has created guided by the bona-fide darkwave hook-led chorus in a journey that takes us back into past worlds (where the genius of bands like Depeche Mode, Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus were the law). South of Heaven is brilliantly crafted, addictive and nostalgic, with new added sonic dimensions and


dynamics, but it’s also an effort built on collaboration, with production duties of J. Robbins (Jawbox) and recording sessions with Steve Albini at Electrical Audio in Chicago, Simon Small in London and the aforementioned Robbins in Baltimore. The album also features a battery of guests including beautiful vocals of Janet Morgan (Channels), Hayden Menzies (METZ), Nick Thieneman (Young Widows), Erik Denno (Kerosene 454), and Rob Moran (Unbroken). South of Heaven is a charismatic record, a moody piece that is dark melancholy with a few light menacing movements. Bring on the night! FAUSTO CASAIS


HARBORLIGHTS Isolation Ritual Deathwish Inc.

There is something deeply and instinctively alluring in Isolation Ritual. What it is, specifically, is hard to pinpoint though. Perhaps it is HarborLights’ mastery over melodic but powerful chord progressions, which calls to mind some of Touché Amoré’s Is Survived By best moments. Or maybe it is the bittersweet nature of the clean vocals that so nakedly expose the raw and emotive lyrics that make up the heart of the record, even though several of its tracks are in fact instrumental. And the instrumental palette of the record, while not being groundbreaking whatsoever, is very effective in conveying emotion: the beauty of the melodies that carry the songs are given a boost with the reverberated ambience of Post-Rock and the more muscular humph of Post-Metal at times, and there is enough spirit of adventure to throw in some surprises like blast-beats (“Eternal Return”) or a piano coda (“Ego Ideal”), for instance, all leading to an inevitable climax with the nearly 8-minute epic “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” and its explosive screaming towards the end. With their sophomore album, HarborLights show that there is beauty and strength in vulnerability, and we can only hope, given that the band has signed to Deathwish, that its profile continues to grow. BRUNO COSTA

HAVE A NICE LIFE Sea Of Worry The Flenser

Press “Play” and right away you will find that something has changed in Have a Nice Life. Darkness remains a part of the outfit’s identity, but their dirges of doom and gloom seem to have become slicker and more straightforward, now featuring steady drum beats frequently, as well as cleaner and more perceptibl

e mixing that allows the instrumentation and vocals to shine through more clearly than in previous releases – compositional and aesthetic choices that widen the band’s (rather than “duo’s” this time) sonic spectrum and allow it to remain fresh. And for that, kudos to Have a Nice Life: it would have been all too easy to attempt to recreate Deathcounsciousness because of how successful it ended up being. That being said, it’s not like Sea of Worry hasn’t got surprises up its sleeve: after the Post-Punk assault of the title-track (where, lyrically, a pattern of nihilistic self-loathing is eventually recognized and dealt with) and “Dracula Bells”, “Science Beat” cools things down considerably and beautifully with plenty of harmonized vocals, before the thrashing and irresistible energy of “Trespassers W” hits the listener like a freight train. The interlude “Everything We Forget” is a passable but ultimately forgettable moment in the track list, something which, fortunately, cannot be said about the heavilydistorted and yet dreamy “Lords of Tresserhorn”, or the astounding closer in “Destinos” (the album’s most absolute highlight due to its command over sound layering, mood, structure and dynamics”). In the end, Sea of Worry is different, but no lesser than Have a Nice Life’s previous two albums, and over time it might in fact reveal itself to be one’s perfect introduction to the band’s catalogue. It is concise, and yet emotionally powerful throughout most of its runtime. Records like this make 5 years of waiting feel very much warranted. BRUNO COSTA

HIGHER POWER 27 Miles Underwater Roadrunner Records

This sound is strangely addictive. An infectious, hard-hitting, mix of screaming tension and clean vocals. And it comes from Higher Power, a

band which rattle against the norm and pull it pieces, integrating their own style. Hailing from Leeds, the act also drive their sound like a hammer to a nail, providing mean guitar parts, brushing off any chance of subtlety. Subtlety is never going to work in the depths of these compositions as Higher Power love to dance freely in volatility. Volatile instrumentals work tremendously well here. Guitars are often an underlay in music these days, but they’re in full volume on 27 Miles Underwater. This collection of songs, matter, they’re what we need in such an overly saturated music industry which trusts pop more than alternative styles. Metal and rock, float below the line where as popular music gloats on shore. It’s a shame, as there’s many acts including Higher Power, that aren’t honored for their contribution to a genre filled with talent. 27 Miles Underwater is loud. It packs a punch. A record that stretches far beyond simple chords. There is a sense of ingenuity seamlessly flowing through the sound too, an intelligent focus on lyrics as well as composition. Structurally stable, the album does combine these talents well. “Seamless” starts proceedings. It’s dirty and unapologetic, spearheading rough instrumentals. The chorus is exceptional in its delivery. “Lost In Static” opens cleanly. Yet again there’s a chorus that nibbles at the consciousness. “Low Season” drives home messages of discontent. Under the instrumental bite, a story unfolds. Vocally, it’s a masterclass. “King Of My Domain” offers jagged but sincere vocal work. The solo adds dimension. “Staring At The Sun” epitomizes what this album is all about, sincerity and power. The backbeat plays loudly. Higher Power design songs of power. They’re an act solidifying themselves as ones to watch. MARK MCCONVILLE



HILARY WOODS Birthmarks Sacred Bones

Let’s start by saying that nothing on this record felt forced or stewed over, the way it flows is absolutely stunning, sparse and will drag you out of your comfort zone directly to a gravity-defiance sound zone. Hilary Woods’ Birthmarks is the follow up to her brilliant 2018 effort Colt. Recorded while Woods was 84

heavenly pregnant in the Winter of 2019, Birthmarks is another exploratory and minimalist effort where she draws sounds of unassuming peacefulness with dark bursts of oscillating and unpredictable noises erupting like geysers within. It’s not easy to let yourself go, but when you realize you can’t fight it, the immersive and haunting atmosphere that surrounds the album will be just another doorway to Woods intimate andintrospective narrative. As complex as it is elegant,


Birthmarks is inspired by ideas of “inner transformation in the face of anxiety, post-war Japan, the secret life of trees, wolves, drone, the drawings of Francis Bacon, the images of Francesca Woodman or even the films of Chris Marker,” but what really stands out is the way all of these influences connect and match perfectly with the foggy and wild density of Woods sonic ambiguity, inherent to her visceral emotional growth and personal change. If you are into Grouper, Zola Jesus and Marissa Nadler this


INSECT ARK The Vanishing Profound Lore

new effort is mandatory for you. Birthmarks is more expansive and intense than Colt probably due to her collaborative work with Norwegian experimental noise master and filmmaker Lasse Marhaug. However, there’s something to be said about the loss of some Lynchian elements in her sound, let’s say that Colt was like season 1 and 2 of Twin Peaks, while Birthmarks is more like some episodes of season 3. FAUSTO CASAIS

At some point Insect Ark will hit the redline for sonic unsettling and brilliance in experimentation. The Vanishing is their new offering and the duo’s most diverse and dynamic effort. Currently made up of founder Dana Schechter (Swans) and Andy Patterson (ex SubRosa), Insect Ark is a force of nature, the way they added big melodies into their heavier, darker and at times disturbing intensity is just another way to bring some punishment to their orgasmic and hypnotic sound. It’s a hell of a ride from start to finish, the way they connect the album’s title with the whole atmosphere of the record is mind-blowing. “The album’s title refers to a recurring daydream I had of disappearing completely – floating out to sea alone, and never being found,” says Schechter of the themes driving the record. “On a much bigger level, it’s about the impermanence of life itself, trying to retain perspective of how small we really are.” Captured by engineer Colin Marston (Dysrhythmia, Krallice), The Vanishing’s greatest strength is the way they manage to eschew doom’s eerie or any kind of post-metal brain-numbing formulas by injecting a calculated and defiant Neurosis type of aggression and unrelenting intensity, with a welcome tinge of melody on their dynamic brutal soundscape. FAUSTO CASAIS


Once on set, while filming his masterpiece Apocalypse Now, Francis Ford Coppola stated, in regards to “pretentiousness”: “… on one hand you’re trying to aspire to really do something, and on the other hand you’re not allowed to be pretentious. And finally you say ‘Fuck it!?. I

don’t care if I’m pretentious or not pretentious or if I’ve done or I haven’t done it”. Liturgy seem to have also gone past the point of caring about how there are perceived by the music (and even more so Metal) community at this point. The band’s music has always had a philosophical undercurrent of its own, and Hunter Hunt-Hendrix has always had higher ambitions than to simply entertain audiences for a few hours, one new album at a time. Every release has revealed a band pushing their sound, techniques and ambitions further, and H.A.Q.Q. is not different. Following 45 seconds of a slowly swelling electronic intro, Liturgy burst in all guns blazing in “HAJJ” with manic drums and tremolo guitars, but also a well-defined melody, revealing the thought-out composition that is often sorely lacking in Black Metal. And the fact that the band still finds a way to incorporate choirs, elements of Glitch and sections of real rhythmic groove is merely a taste of things to come (please let me know when you can remember a song that makes eight and a half minutes fly by so fast). Following a keyboard breather in “EXACO I” (one of three detours that, while not fully focused endeavours, allows the record to flow quite well when listened to from the beginning to the end), “VIRGINITY” veers a little closer to traditional Black Metal for a while, until drum playfulness and an uplifting chorus make their way into the track, taking off into new territory for its finale. “PASAQALIA” masterfully incorporates bells and odd time signatures into a song that can easily have listeners banging their heads. And then what is perhaps the album’s most triumphant moment arrives in “GOD OF LOVE”, a soaring, passionate and furious display of physical endurance, control over melody and dynamic shifts. Following another “EXACO” interlude, the album’s title track gives itself an introductory minute to further settle the listener down before suddenly


delivering an aggressive freak-out of drums and guitars, eventually becoming one of the album’s most Metal moments while also heavily manipulating the track on the second half and making it feel like the fabric of reality is disintegrating. Interestingly, the final track “. . . .” leaves us precisely with the contradictory feeling that such a drony epilogue was unnecessary, while wishing for more of what the album gave us until then. H.A.Q.Q. truly is, as its press release states, a great consolidation of Liturgy’s output up until now, and it successfully blends in disparate elements where other albums struggled to. We can only hope that the band remains as ambitious as it was in the 2010s, even if it dares falling off of the rails from time to time. The boldest of bands and artists understand the risk of coming up short in their most passionate endeavours, because they know that, ever so occasionally, they might create something undeniably brilliant. H.A.Q.Q. is one such moment for Liturgy. BRNUO COSTA


Century Media

While it’s unfortunate that the media’s love of Mayhem has always been rooted more in its salacious past than in their diverse output, for once the grim nostalgia has paid off dividends. Daemon is a defiant reclamation of the spirit of De Mysteriis Don Sathanas, a fluid and frequently suffocating barrage of riffs and fragmentary atmospherics that coil and intertwine around Attila Csihar’s imposing theatrics. Despite it possessing an air of claustrophobia that causes its standout cuts to suck the air from any room, it relishes the abundance of space it takes up. Hellhammer has dialled back hisusually clinical speed and opted for an intuitively bestial approach, 86

putting him more closely in tune with the occultish moans and shrieks of Csihar, while Ghul and teloch play off each other’s strengths with combative unease, the push-and-pull between odd structures and oldschool melodics resulting in moments of immediate charm like “Bad Blood” and tail-end highlight “Of Worms and Ruins”. Daemon never strives to reinvent the wheel but neither does it completely abandon Mayhem’s experimental legacy. Instead, it’s a fresh uptake of an old spirit, the soul of Belial given fresh voice, and it’s hard to imagine anyone with the slightest love for these giants to come away feeling anything but elated at the results. DAVID BOWES

MOON DUO Stars Are The Light Sacred Bones

Let’s say that we all miss seeing psychedelic rock being a mainstream genre. The world has become so serious and straightlaced that music that harks back to the heady, hedonistic days of the seventies, dripping with enthusiastic invention and walking a tightrope of consumption and creation is a rare beast indeed. Moon Duo don’t quite manage to reach the peaks of bands like The Doors and Velvet Underground, they don’t quite smash a homerun with this album – but with songs like opener “Flying” certainly do tickle the right verves and sensations that PsychRock is supposed to, and the album is definitely infused with a trippy, devout MGMT feel throughout. Droning, low-key vocals, that sound like whispered incantations, gentle guitar lines and bass that float around the synth trip-outs, and drums that have more energy and drive each song to conclusion. It’s undoubtedly has a lot of things that tick the pro column, sadly, it sometimes bows under the weight of


its lofty ambitions and struggles at times to get out of second gear and can appear saggy round the middle. Music should move you and thrill you and tracks like “Eternal Shore” and “The World And The Sun” are good, but rarely elevates beyond that, and the album can skirt close to boring because of its gentle pacing. Moon Duo certainly have the pedigree, and the back catalogue but this album falls maybe a little short from what we were hoping to expect. ANDI CHAMBERLAIN

NEWMOON Nothing Hurts Forever PIAS

Seeming to take a leaf out of the books of bands like Sunflower Bean My Bloody Valentine and Death Cab For Cutie, the Antwerp art-rockers have taken music that – on casual inspection – could be judged as morose, chin-on-chest, shoegaze-lite and instead infuse it with a genuine sense of drive, heart and wonder. Nothing Hurts Forever takes its name from an Elliot Smith song and taps into the legendary singersongwriters world of misery into love ethics and twists it through their own unique filter to deliver an album of loveable, delicate art-rock symphonies. Tracks like “Vague” showcase their ear for a melody and their brooding, porcelain exterior, and their furnace hot ability to push songs beyond the confines of the genre and into new territories and soundscapes. Where “Blue Hole” slows the pace right down and thrives on a threadbare backbone of a jangly, twangy guitar and a haunting vocal, to be one of the standouts on an already impressive album. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but, it’s hard to argue that the band have created something that exists beyond the basic prism of their intent and that has a firm direction and a big heart at its centre. ANDI CHAMBERLAIN


KATIE GATELY Loom Houndstooth

Katie Gately’s sophomore album Loom is one the most powerful efforts you will hear over this year. Dedicated to her mother, who passed away in 2018, Loom is an emotional and brilliantly crafted artistic statement, and a colossal tribute to a loved one. “My mother’s voice is in this record, her picture’s in the sleeve notes. This record is for her”


says Katie. Loom is an adventurous mélange of eclectic instrumentation and experimentalism, an effort methodically constructed around its bleak yet addictive sound frames. In describing Loom’s recording process, built around many nights without sleep she openly says “the process is blurry to me now,” and she continues “I don’t know if I’d recommend it, but I didn’t have time to worry about perfecting things, I was just working when everyone was asleep – it was the only time I had.” The lyrics around Loom are quite powerful and emotionally charged, at times it’s quite hard to not be emotionally touched, especially if you have been around such traumatic

experiences too. The track “Flow” is written on her mother’s perspective and in “Allay” she speaks as her mother’s cancer. Kate explains her lyrical approach: “They’re darker in tone… but I see beauty in that.” So, if you are prepared to embrace tracks like “Waltz” and “Bracer” you are ready to get lost in Katie’s artistic world and in the end you will feel that these tracks were just a bumpy ride to climax. It’s fair to say that Loom is going to leave the listener distinctly uneasy, but it’s a massive piece with an eerie beauty. An album that goes from ambient explorations and unforgiving noise freakouts, but designs around melody and exquisite sound layers. FAUSTO CASAIS




MATANA ROBERTS Coin Coin Chapter Four: Memphis Constellation Records

Uniqueness, in an age when every single creative pathway seems to have become exhaustively explored, is harder and harder to come by. Rare is the breed of artist capable of churning out something wholly new and alien, all the while remaining compelling. Luckily for us, Matana Roberts is one such artist. The fourth installment of her COIN COIN series brings fourth elements of Free Jazz, Blues, Spirituals and 88

Collage Music, consistently weaved together by Roberts’ spoken word performance that evokes memories of her childhood and her family. The fact that the tracks segue into one another makes the record feel like a socially-conscious surrealistic film with no visuals, though the instrumental performances manage to bring forth rather vivid images in one’s mind and subtle references to prayer, war, old chariots, racism in the “House of God” and “Strange Hoods” which cause her mother to urge her “Child of the wind” to run away suggest more specific and horrific memories which Roberts has in mind. There is real and traumatizing tragedy in the record’s story which progressively unveils itself before our ears, but there is also defiance and bravery, as


Matana Roberts exclaims: “Live life, out loud. Live life, stay proud. Proud of who you are!”. COIN COIN Chapter Four: Memphis turns out to be far more than just an unconventional Jazz record: it is a wakeup call to those who let go of their personal and collective memories all to easily, and it serves as a prime example of how art can be an exceptional way of documenting history. As Matana Roberts repeats throughout the album, as if it is a mantra: “Memory is a most unusual thing”. And she is most certainly right, which is why it must be as faithfully and passionately preserved as possible, lest we wish to fall victim to some kind of Orwellian nightmare. BRUNO COSTA




MUNDY’S BAY Lonesome Valley

Pure Noise Records

Mundy’s Bay debut album is perhaps one of the most charming and addictive releases you will hear over this year. Lonesome Valley blend of dream pop, shoegaze and post-punk is engaging from start to finish. Following the promising and quite interesting releases of 2017’s Wandering & Blue EP and 2019’s Control Room EP, the band teamed up with legendary producer/engineer Kurt Ballou (Joyce Manor, Converge, Code Orange) to bring their first fulllength to life. “We wanted to let it develop

naturally and tried a lot of different styles when we first started playing together,” guitarist Victor Beaudoin explains. On their debut full-length, the Montreal-based four-piece provide more than adequate genre diversity, perfect to elevate Esther Mulders heartwarming vocal harmonies. Lonesome Valley sounds confident and ambitious, there are no loose ends, a deeply touching and expansive effort with the ability to sound as relaxing as invigorating. Somewhere between Alvvays

indie pop, Field Mouse dreamy shoegaze and The Smiths tenderness, Mundy’s Bay punk roots are all over their sound, but it’s the way their distinguish themselves from any kind of specific genre what makes them one of the most exciting new acts around. This is a band with a knack for melody, that are not afraid to explore and push-forward to new or unknown grounds and that have sharpened their focus without losing sight of themselves. Well done! FAUSTO CASAIS



Barring the Zorn-esque explosion of noise and frantic energy of opener “Nijimusi”, these songs feel firmly grounded in a traditionally ‘rock’ setting but YoshimiO’s vibrant drumming, less an accompaniment than the beating, arrhythmic heart of nijimusi’s slinking form, elevates the form. Psychedelic flourishes abound, putting the listener in mind of Vampyros Lesbos’ eclectic score, and the bright splatters of synthesiser and horn likewise transport the compositions to a time when intrepid adventurers like Miles Davis ruled the concert halls and airwaves. It continually manages to surprise, each new avenue skirting rigid structure and free-form vigour without fully abandoning itself to either, and eventually the experience converges into a heady explosion of passion and heart that verges on the religious (most notably around about when penultimate cut “Walk for “345” Minutes…” collapses into a dense, sputtering swell). From their very inception, OOIOO have been a band that have strove to push listeners as much as they do themselves but with the immediacy and infinite charm of nijimusi, they’ve created something that is effortlessly enjoyable. DAVID BOWES


OOIOO nijimusi

Thrill Jockey

With the passing of guitarist Kyoko following the release of 2013’s genre-defying Gamel, things haven’t seemed too certain for YoshimiO’s OOIOO but here we are in 2020 with yet another album of mind-melting, boundlessly creative and utterly out-there psychedelic tribal pop and, once again, it’s pushed the limits of what we can expect from them. 90

BOREDOMS Soul Discharge

+ JOHN ZORN Naked City

+ OOIOO Taiga



REBECCA FOON Waxing Moon Constellation

Even at first listen, it’s undeniable that Waxing Moon, Rebecca Foon the composer and musician behind Saltland and Esmerine (and former long-standing member of Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra) – first eponymous album is an exploration of an incredibly emotional soundscape and intimacy. Waxing Moon is an immersive experience, piano-based instrumentals and Foon’s cello and haunting voice are the light and strength in the album’s delicate vulnerability, elements that are rarely so well conveyed on a record. The album’s arrangements are uniformly beautiful, and some of Foon’s close collaborators and guests including Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire) and Mishka Stein (Patrick Watson), Sophie Trudeau (Godspeed You Black Emperor), Jace Lasek (The Besnard Lakes) and Patrick Watson as co-vocalist on the album’s standout track “Vessels” just helped to add consistency and to the album’s saccharine. A stunning album, balanced between intimacy and elegance that demands your full attention and devotion. FAUSTO CASAIS

SIX ORGANS OF ADMITTANCE Companion Rises Drag City


Six Organs of Admittance is back with a new record. Three years after the brilliant Burning the Threshold, Ben Chasny brings a new energy and fresh palette of songs to this new venture. Companion Rises is, in a way, a return to Six Organs older sound formula, but Chesny’s innate ability to bring moods and sounds altogether provides the listener a pathway to a torchlight set of songs that makes us navigate between an accessible edge where the use of synthetizer 91

and guitar distortion blends intricately with this softer and striking atmospheric acoustic arrangements. Ben Chasny recorded and mixed the entire record creating a push forward to a boldly old-fashioned and experimental folk with effective success. From the high-energy and intense rush of tracks like “Two Forms Moving” and “The Scout Is Here” to the stripped back and transcendent eerie of “Black Tea” and “Haunted and Known”, Companion Rises is an effort that goes around Chasny’s guitar turns, infinite loops of highs and lows and this repetitious harmony that clashes with the album’s sci-folk tale storytelling. If you are expecting Chasny’s very own sound signature, Companion Rises fits the beat, but be ready for some imperfection, and the classic minimalist approach that we’re already used to in every Six Organs of Admittance listening experience. Chasny has struck gold once again. FAUSTO CASAIS


Sightless Pit is the new collaborative project of Lee Buford of The Body, Kristin Hayter of Lingua Ignota and Dylan Walker of Full of Hell. Grave of a Dog is a blissful listen from start to finish, but not suitable for close-minded and noneclectic listeners. 92

It would be an understatement to say that the minds behind this project present us with a catchy and easy effort. Dylan Walker describes the album’s core themes as being “about the anonymity of struggle, the darkness of a lifetime wasted warring against nature, god and everything else, only to be defeated… nothing… the end.” With that in mind, you could assume that Grave of a Dog an easy listening. experience Over the course of the eight tracks the trio’s expansive ideas detail this insightful view of the state of the world, how people connect, basically showing us that the world is fucked up. A moment of clarity that is both devasting, but also incredible stunning and honest. The songs are simultaneously grand and tense. On opener “Kingscorpse” you get dragged to a filthy daydream and disturbing nightmare, whereas in tracks like “Immersion Dispersal” and “The Ocean of Mercy” there’s a connection to the brutality and extreme elements of their sound with this atmospheric, almost claustrophobic noise, likening a ritual summoning. However, this is an album that is also built on contrasts and careful complexity, “Violent Rain” and “Love is Dead, All Love is Dead” sound delicate and bleak, but the fragmented arrangements on both show us the trio’s impressive ability to step into bold uncharted waters. Grave of a Dog is breathtakingly honest and fucking cathartic, it may sound ugly, noisy and hellish, challenging at times too, but these prolific minds were brave enough to craft one of their most exciting and collaborative projects in years. You can’t help to sit back and listen to it several times. FAUSTO CASAIS


THE BODY & FULL OF HELL Ascending a Mountain of Heavy Light




SUNN O))) Pyroclasts

Southern Lord

Constructed as a by-product of the recording of Life Metal, it’s easy to think of Pyroclasts as a disposable also-ran but instead it functions as a more intuitive, contrasting piece that sheds a lot of SOMA and Gregg Anderson’s loftier aspirations and returns to their roots – pure tonal worship. Each of its four pieces began as a modal drone, an exercise in sonic group therapy that acted both as warm-up and, in a sense, a part of the foundations on which Life Metal was erected. As such, it’s best not to go into this release as a compositional work and instead let it function as an immersive scrapbook, a peek into a 2-week period of a group whose whole function is immersion. These songs build and swell but never strive to go anywhere, happy just in their very existence and though there are some stand-out moments, like the shrill feedback and almost-melodicism of “Ampliphædies (E)”, Steve Albini’s real success here has been in capturing the sheer power and almost physical weight that Sunn O))) have always been counted on to deliver live. It’s enough to make you wish for more, strange as that might seem, but even if we never get some superlavish box-set of all of these group exercises, a combination of this and catching them live whenever and wherever they set up their amps should suffice. DAVID BOWES


SUNN O))) Life Metal



The 2010’s have been more than just a rebirth for Swans: after 4 successful comeback studio records and becoming title contenders for “best live band” by acclamation of both critics and audiences, the mythical band led by Michael Gira experienced what could be argued to be the best and most successful phase of their career. And considering its long history and hard work, it was about time. Perhaps to go out on top, Michael Gira announced the disintegration of the 2010’s Swans line-up in favor a new Modus Operandi: writing his songs and then reuniting a group of guests to participate in the recordings. And it is an all-star ensemble: besides all the members of the band’s previous iteration, artists such as Anna Von Hausswolff, Ben Frost, Baby Dee and Jeremy Barnes join the sessions of Leaving Meaning. to add dense layers of instrumentation and vocals that have been a staple of Swans’music for a very long time. And so, does the album live up to instant classics like their latest trilogy of double albums? It is an extremely high bar, and perhaps someday Mr. Gira will come up with yet another masterpiece (he is the type of artist who can do so every other album),


but Leaving Meaning. sounds like the My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky of this new era in Swans’ career, almost like Gira is still getting used to his new way of developing material. Leaving Meaning. has its fair share of highlights, don’t get me wrong (just like the 2010 album did). “The Hanging Man” has the hypnotic quality of some of the best cuts off of “To Be Kind”, “Amnesia” is a moment of arresting beauty and mood with its great use of acoustic instrumentation, “Sunfucker” has got the swagger that the rest of the album sorely lacks (but attempts to compensate for with meditative reveries, with varying degrees of success), and “It’s Coming It’s Real” calls to mind the bluesinfluenced melodies of late 60’s Rock music. The album’s reverb-heavy and spaced out mix recalls the late 80’s and early 90’s era of Swans. The problem, in my opinion, is that oftentimes so does the songwriting, with pieces that feel more meandering than purposeful, such as the lackluster kick-off of “Annaline” (following a fairly unremarkable introduction to the record as well), the odd fade-in and sameness of “Some New Things” or the lenghty “The Nub”, which could really use some trimming in its runtime, and is the album’s longest track. At the end of the day, Michael Gira has become such a prolific and focused artist that nothing new he releases seems capable of letting any listener down. And the fact that fans are constantly expecting the man to drop yet another album capable of lifting people’s souls up to the heavens just goes to show the quality of work that Swans have gotten us accustomed to. But for now, what we’ve got with Leaving Meaning. is “only” another solid entry in the band’s discography. And considering that a “solid” album by Swans would be a highlight record for most other bands, what else can we ask for? BRUNO COSTA




Today Is The Day are back with their eleventh full-length studio album, No Good To Anyone, their first through new label home BMG. If heavy music has any purpose beyond giving us something to listen while we are slowly consumed by loss, despair and the crushing reality that our world is sick and everything will eventually get worse, it must surely be the confronting of life’s horrors. Somehow, we are diving into this political nightmare where society

embraces extremes easily, without even questioning or putting up a fight. But, sometimes, when we overcome pain and adversity, we find some peace of mind and it becomes crystal clear that our very own perspective of life, the way we portray of create art and everything in between is in some way changed forever. So, with that in mind the experience of listening for the very first time to No Good To Anyone is quite aweinspiring and cathartic, especially when we know that this defiant and devastating piece of art was created over several years of Steve Austin’s battle with numerous surgeries and treatments (in late 2014, Austin’s van was struck on the highway by a driver that had lost control of his vehicle; itrolled over and slid upside down at 65 MPH for 120 yards) on countless levels, including a brutal battle with Lyme Disease. No Good For Anyone is what we might call a different, frantic and

liberating journey, an epic effort built on several stages of insanity, mature self-reflection and a brutal sense of overcoming tragedy and personal resilience. Title track “No Good For Everyone” is a powerful and engaging start to an album that rarely flags, songs like “Mercy”, “Attacked by an Angel” or “Burn in Hell” display an unusual dichotomy between introspection, rage and darkness, while “Callie” is an heartfelt tribute to Austin’s beloved Australian Shepherd of just three years (Callie, diagnosed with Lyme disease and put down consequently). Today Is The Day is a special band and Steve Austin is one of the most humble humans in heavy music and the underground scene today. But there’s no denying, he’s also been the mind behind “one of the most groundbreaking and unclassifiable entities in experimental and heavy music for nearly 30 years.” FAUSTO CASAIS



WREKMEISTER HARMONIES We Love To Look At The Carnage Thrill Jockey 96

Wrekmeister Hamonies’ “Modus Operandi” has, throughout the years, remained equally focused and effective: having two central figures (JR Robinson and Esther Shaw) and collaborating with a different set of guests for every new record (including the likes of David Yow, Marissa Nadler, Jef Whitehead, Sanford Parker, Bruce Lamont and members of Godspeed You! Black Emperor). In We Love to Look at the Carnage, the duo is joined by Thor Harris, and Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart. Stylistically, a lot of cues seem to be taken from the band’s last record, The Alone Rush, with its focus on meditative and contemplative ambiance (the stoicism of Marcus Aurelius’ “Meditations” is an influence on WLTLATC, and it shows), rather than the slightly more direct approach of something like Light Falls. Shortly after the pretty start of “Midnight to Six”, JR Robinson’s voice half-sings and half-speaks à la Nick Cave, as the bare instrumentation (guitar, violin ISSUE 26

and little more) slowly builds up in Mono-esque fashion to an ending more preoccupied with enveloping the listeners in sound rather than finishing with a bang which ultimately never comes. The gallery of sonic vistas that is “Still Life With Prick Cancer” has a more uneasy feel to it, with percussion that occasionally fails to keep up the pace, and Jamie Steward’s distant but disquieting vocals croon before a brief build-up carried by distortion and dissonance, all of it leading us through a journey not too far off in intent from territory familiar to Thor Harris’ output in the last decade with Swans. “Coyotes of Central Park” sounds like a poetic singer-songwriter moment, amplified by keys, reverberation and more. This formula, already similar to (though more streamlined than in) “Midnight To Six”, is again the framework of “The Rat Catcher”, and the sameness of the approach (start quietly, then build it up with plenty of low frequencies and echo) frankly starts becoming a little tiresome, though a

ZONAL Wrecked


Relapse Records

different vocal delivery on the song’s last third brings at least a new element to the table. Lastly, the music on “Immolation” is far more sedating than its title might suggest, and the formula of some of the previous pieces is thankfully dropped, although the vocal delivery of the lyrics in the song’s second half presents such a dead ringer to the already mentioned Nick Cave that it is impossible not to take note. The thing about We Love to Look at the Carnage is that, when listened to in the appropriate mood, it may provide an enveloping and enthralling experience, much thanks to the consistency of the album’s tone, as well as the mixing work. It does, however, reveal itself to be predictable and ever so slightly derivative at times. Still, Wrekmeister Harmonies continues the streak of not putting out a single underwhelming record, which is a hell of a feat in and of itself. BRUNO COSTA

In the view of the vast bodies of work of both Justin Broadrick and Kevin Martin, Zonal is a minor player, the half-formed twin of the monolithic Techno Animal, but with the inclusion of Moor Mother, it has achieved such levels of profound, intimidating power that it rivals any of them. Wrecked’s strength is that it never imposes its will on the listener, instead using its crackly boombip hip-hop deconstructions and throbbing bass weight to loom over and eventually close in on the unwary, as suffocating as any concrete urban wasteland ever could be. Though Moor Mother only contributes to the album’s first half, she is the de facto tone-setter, her voice laced with the disaffection and disenfranchisement of legions, and her effect can’t help but be felt through the lengthier and more tonally abrasive instrumentals that make up Wrecked’s remainder. For both Martin and Broadrick, these dystopian beats aren’t new territory but even decades after they started to bring the sound of steel and concrete to light, they are proving that they can still hit harder than the young ‘uns. DAVID BOWES

MARK LANEGAN Straight Songs Of Sorrow

KING BUZZO Gift Of Sacrifice

HALF WAIF The Caretaker

SHABAZZ PALACES The Don Of Diamond Dreams



+ MOOR MOTHER Analog Fluids Of Sonic Black Holes



DEATH GRIPS Bottomless Pit

WARDRUNA Kvitravn 97



TREMOR SÂO MIGUEL ISLAND - AZORES (PT) MARCH 31-APRIL 4 DON’T MISS: Anna Meredith, Vanishing Twin, Föllakzoid, Juana Molina, Solar Corona, Angélica V Salvi, Larry Gus, Kathryn Joseph, Gabber Modus Operandi, Lena d’Água, Warmduscher. GROEZROCK MEERHOUT (BE) APRIL 25-27 DON’T MISS: Jawbreaker, Dropkick Murphys, Millencolin, Amenra, The Bronx, Defeater, Dog Eat Dog, Trash Talk, Brutus, Snuff, Counterparts, Citizen, Press Club, Dead Swans, Sharptooth, Spanish Love Songs, Restorations, Jesus Piece, Candy, NOFX, Slow Crush, Joyce Manor. FESTIVAL VIVARIUM PORTO (PT) MARCH 26-28 DON’T MISS: Kelly Moran, Franck Vigroux, Telectu, Osso Vaidoso, Lil Data, Eva Klimachova & Laurent Goldring performance, Yatta. 98

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