Vile Creature’s ambitious third album, Glory! Glory! Apathy Took Helm!, expands the palette of doom metal

Photo Courtesy of Prosthetic Records

Despite being a duo, Vile Creature might be mistaken for a much larger band, especially considering the Ontario group’s lumbering thunderclouds of sound arranged over elaborate song structures.

And, on the band’s third album and Prosthetic Records debut, Glory! Glory! Apathy Took Helm!, drummer Vic and guitarist KW balance lightness with heaviness and catchiness with aggression to craft a doom metal album that pushes past the genre’s standard formula.

Spanning five lengthy tracks that add up to 44 minutes, Glory! is composed of sludgy riffs, slow, pounding drums and dual vocals that use both black and death metal style deliveries. Vic perfectly controls the melodies of their black metal howls either alone or accompanied by KW’s deep, commanding voice. KW takes solo vocals on a few parts, but Vic is often looming in the background waiting to interject a shrieked lyric.

The album’s opening song, an 11 minute track called “Harbinger of Nothing,” was previously included on an Adult Swim metal compilation. Because of that, “Harbinger” feels like a self-entity in its structure and polish, more so than any of the later-penned tracks that make up the rest of the record. To start off the album with a high profile song with colossal riffs is an easy choice. But, to follow it with another 11 minute track, “When the Path Is Unclear,” really shows the band’s confidence in its material.

“When the Path Is Unclear” and the shorter, third song, “You Who Has Never Slept,” pad out the middle of Glory! by deploying sludgy, crawling chord progressions and conjuring up a heavy atmosphere. “When the Path Is Unclear” turns it up a notch from “Harbinger” by introducing an even rawer sound with more feedback and including the record’s only chugging guitar part.

“You Who Has Never Slept,” on the other hand, features some inventive drumming with a distinct galloping feel. And toward the end, KW applies a noticeable bend to the song’s guitar chords, creating a cool, quivering effect. With lyrics such as, “Don’t want what’s to come,” these two songs make up the heaviest part of the album and keep it engaging before the experimental finale.

The album’s final two tracks, which make up a suite of sorts, are interconnected by a heavenly choir of voices that take center stage on “Glory! Glory!” and reappear in the middle of heavy guitar riffs on the dynamic closer, “Apathy Took Helm!” It’s an ambitious sonic combination that ultimately sounds amazing and was worth the risk. By alternating saccharine voices with Vic’s anguished singing, the two songs not only contrast the idea of lightness with heaviness but also strive to marry heaven and hell.

Glory! Glory! Apathy Took Helm! is the rare doom record that isn’t afraid to throw a dramatic curve at the listener every now and then while staying true to the roots of the genre. Vile Creature takes all of the best parts of metal and repurposes them into a work that feels entirely original.

5/5

Orphnē, the intricate third album from Maud the Moth, shares the mystery of a haunted house

Photo Courtesy of Música Máxica, Nooirax Producciones, La Rubia

Listening to Maud the Moth’s new album, Orphnē, is like walking through a haunted house that slowly reveals its secret history to you. Each of the eight tracks making up the record’s 40 minute runtime draws the listener deeper and deeper into the cobwebbed passageways of its dark jazz and folk music.

The band’s sole member, Amaya López-Carromero, a Spanish singer and pianist who now lives in Edinburgh, leads a full band experience on Orphnē consisting of busy drums, weighty guitars and oft menacing strings. But out of all the instruments on the album, López-Carromero’s crystalline piano finds its way to the forefront as she cements the otherworldly mood of tracks such as “Ecdysis” and “The Mirror Door” with her careful note selection.

Vocally, López-Carromero stretches her somber lyrics on Orphnē to fit into her soaring, folk-inspired melodies. Although it’s sometimes difficult to figure out the words, her velvety singing gives the record a main focal point, guiding the listener along. Throughout the album, she offers clues toward figuring out its hidden messages such as on the song, “The Abattoir,” where she tells the story of a girl who “was always changing faces.”

On the fantastic single, “Finisterrae,” which serves as a short detour into the overgrown grounds behind the ghostly estate, López-Carromero’s lyrics turn uplifting as she sings lines such as, “inside you flowers a garden/And inside the font swims a water bird.” Paúl González’s excellent jazz drumming paired with López-Carromero’s soulful piano melodies make “Finisterrae” the most stirring song on the record and a true highlight.

Elsewhere in Orphnē’s lyrics, López-Carromero uses Greek mythology to evoke certain classical figures such as on the lively jazz song “Mormo and the Well” or her mention of Penelope in the lyrics of “As Above So Below.” Even the album’s title is a reference to a nymph from Hades, as well as being a root for the word “orphan.” These allusions give Orphnē an added layer of depth and a sense of timelessness, with the ancient stories mirroring the suffering and anguish of life in the present day.

Produced by Jaime Gómez Arellano, who has worked with brooding bands such as Ulver, Orphnē is a foreboding record that only allows the daylight briefly into its haunted interior. And even then, it’s a grey, overcast kind of light that offers little to no comfort. With its dark themes and unique musical style, Maud the Moth’s latest album will make you feel like you’re walking up a creaky, wooden stairwell dreading to discover what’s behind the door at the top.

4/5

The odds and ends Tim Buckley comp, The Dream Belongs To Me, shows an artist never settling for what’s passable

Photo Courtesy of Real Gone Music

Folk singer Tim Buckley often workshopped his material at live performances and in the studio before committing the fully developed forms to wax.

Real Gone Music’s reissue of The Dream Belongs To Me compiles three studio sessions — two at the heights of his fame in 1968 and another during his 1970s funk period — that puts early sketches of his most memorable compositions alongside more obscure songs that never made it to an album.

The first half of the record features songs that Buckley scattered throughout his next four records, which would expand the boundaries of his earlier folk phase. It’s revealing to hear early renditions of “Song to the Siren,” “Sing A Song to You” and “Happy Time” even if they sound more hollow and less energetic than their final versions or recorded live performances around the same time. The song “Danang” is notable here because it shows Tim Buckley as a bandleader. Nearing the song’s end, he instructs his band, “Let’s do it again,” before going into a final verse of tender lyrics.

“Buzzin Fly,” a jazzy song much older than the rest here, is nearly in its final form, complete with a guitar solo and walking bassline. Buckley’s voice adds emotion to the chorus lyrics, “You’re the one I talk about/You’re the one I think about/Everywhere I go,” as if he’d sung them a hundred times before. Given its quality, this recording of “Buzzin Fly” easily might have wound up on Happy/Sad instead of the final version recorded in December 1968. It’s strong close to the first studio session.

On the second half of The Dream, Buckley, working out songs for his 1973 album Sefronia, is supported by a commanding rhythm section along with a funky electric guitar. Although songs such as “Sefronia,” “Stone In Love” and “Quicksand” aren’t as highly regarded as the songs from the comp’s earlier session, Buckley and his band’s fiery performances give fans alternate takes that are much more raw than the album’s polished mixes.

The compilation’s title track, which never made it to a studio album, is a shining moment of the 1973 session with its surreal lyrics and a menacing instrumental that recalls the song “Come Here Woman” from Starsailor. At its base, though, “The Dream Belongs To Me” is a love song, with Buckley singing lyrics such as “Just as long as a pearl in the sea/Your sweet love belongs to me.” “Falling Timber,” another non-album number, also shows remnants of Starsailor with its voice-as-instrument vocals. These two songs, while not the best performances captured during these sessions, are the rarest offerings on this reissue.

Despite being originally released in 2001 by another label, Real Gone Music’s reissue of The Dream Belongs To Me rekindles the mystery of Tim Buckley’s creative process through a collection of high quality studio sessions. Nineteen years later, we can still learn through this reissue about the lengths Buckley went to develop his songs and the discipline it took to render them timeless.

4/5

No Age pairs its raucous art punk sound with introspective lyrics on new LP, Goons Be Gone

Photo Courtesy of Drag City

Goons Be Gone, No Age’s fifth LP and second on Drag City, furthers the L.A noise punks’ exploration of dense guitar textures and fiery drumming. Guitarist Randy Randall and drummer/singer Dean Spunt return with 11 new songs that are as loud as they are intricate, pondering existential questions through relatable lyrics that don’t always specify a context. Continue reading No Age pairs its raucous art punk sound with introspective lyrics on new LP, Goons Be Gone

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