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Monday 23 November 2020

Reviews: Ingrina, Dragged Under, Black Sky Research, Wodooman (Rich, Alex, Luca & Matt)

Ingrina: Siste Lys (Medication Time Records) [Rich Oliver]

Siste Lys is the second album from French band Ingrina. They are a seven piece made up of two drummers, three guitarists, a bassist and a vocalist and this vast number of musicians justifies the massive sound that this band has. Siste Lys is comprised of a mix of new and old material.  There are three new songs and three old songs that have been reworked. The sound is a compelling and dramatic mix of shoegaze, sludge metal, post-rock and dark ambient sounds which is as haunting as it is nightmarish. Two new songs Jailers and Walls start the album off and they are bristling with dense and dark soundscapes with burst with anguish. The shimmery guitars usually associated with shoegaze instead sound jarring, discordant and full of torment whilst also having moments which are dark, ethereal and haunting. 

There is an interjection of morose and melancholic melodies to songs such as Casual and Stolidity whilst album closer Frozen is a bit mellower and introspective sounding whilst losing none of the woe and gloom of the tracks that preceded it. The album has a very dense and dirty sound with very few clean sounding moments. Everything is drenched in layers of noise and distortion whilst the vocals are agonized echoing screams. The sound throughout the whole album is vast and uncompromising. My first exposure to Ingrina was a very enjoyable one. This is one that definitely took me out of my comfort zone and I found plenty to enjoy. It is an unrelenting album with loads going on and has plenty of replayability to it. It is definitely one of those albums where you discover extra layers and hidden nuances on repeated listens. If dark soundscapes and post-rock sounds are your thing then Ingrina comes highly recommended.8/10

Dragged Under: The World is In Your Way (Mascot Records) [Alex Swift]

Seattle hardcore punks, Dragged Under pull no punches in the conviction and power they bring to their music. From the opening cavalcade of noise on The Real You, their music seethes with a sense of chaotic anger. All this is underpinned by visceral drumming and stark, impassioned melodies that contrast brilliantly with the frenetic tempos. Vitally, despite being grounded in post-hardcore music, the musicianship here is often very impressive. Take a moment like Instability, where the rhythms are macerating yet complex, and the guitars command with intricate patterns that contribute to the gigantic sonic chaos being created. There’s an underlying feeling throughout that Dragged Under could just as easily apply themselves to metal or rap-rock if they felt the need to, as the groove-laden beats of Roots and the spiraling distortion of Covered In Sin demonstrate their versatility. 

If there’s one criticism that can be chucked at Dragged Under its that while vigour and grit are in high supply, in terms of originality, they do seem to deploying the formula of creating a wall of sound which they build with anthemic melodies, biting bass textures, and pure clamour. It’s a style that was popularized by the nu-metal scene of the early 2000s but has really seen a resurgence with acts like Fever 333 and most recently Bring Me The Horizon coming to take the crown of popular rock with music which has the effect of drowning you in sound. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a style which I like but one which, to be done well, has to make every instrument and sound – all of which are standing out in the mix – count! There are certainly moments, such as on the vicious and multi-layered Hypochondria, where I appreciated every element being chucked in my direction. 

That said, by the time Riot and The Hardest Drug rolled around, everything was blurring together. Neither the synthesisers, the guitars, or the percussion were exploding out at me in a way that seized my interest and kept it there! Even though The World Is In Your Way can drag in places, there’s a sense of passion and zeal behind the release which hints at the serious potential for improvement on future records! I think that Dragged Under needs to find a space where they can hone more originality as a band, and need to learn to properly harness the traits of subtlety, precision, and detail. With all that, they have the potential to become a dominating force within their genre! 7/10

Black Sky Research: One [Lucas Tuckwood]

Today we welcome newcomers to the scene by the name of Black Sky Research, presenting their debut EP, One. Spinning a story of apocalyptic proportions across five concise tracks, it treads through familiar territory in an ambitious, yet ultimately fruitless effort. I personally feel that standard rock these days is a little one-note, and unfortunately Research doesn't quite dissuade me from that view. There’s not a lot of variety in tempo, and the guitars tend to riff aimlessly beneath energetic vocals during the endless choruses, only given fleeting moments in which to really flex their muscles. The instruments feel like a mere accessory to the vocals, rather than functioning as one, rather ironically given the EP’s title. 

The musicianship is of quite a high standard however, and they achieve their goal to create a cinematic listening experience- it’s just a somewhat boring film, and the diverse backgrounds of each of the members fails to culminate in anything that feels truly fresh. While the lyrical content does provide an interesting story, the comparative blandness of the music does little in complementing it. Fans of the genre will enjoy this release, and can feel safe in the knowledge that your supply of samey music is near infinite. As for the rest of you, you’ve heard these songs before, and you’ll hear them a hundred times again. 5/10

Wodooman: Osidilove (Self Released)

Occasionally we get something a little different and Wodooman is certainly a lot different to the crushing riffs and explosive heaviness of some of the bands we feature here. This band have a sound they say is more influenced by Husker Du, The Cardiacs, The Cure and Mark Lanegan, so there is almost guaranteed to be a different kind of darkness/heaviness to it, one that is a little more Gothic and otherworldly, making it more emotionally than traditionally heavy.

Wodooman is a the newest project of Iwan Ap Huw Morgan, who has been around the Cardiff underground scene since the Nineties being a part of Mondo Trans Shop and Black Cesar so his penchant for riffs is obvious having spent time in big heavy riffing stoner/desert rock bands. But his first solo outing is a little different stripping things back to a much more acoustically influenced sound built around the idea of an acoustic troubadour telling dark folk tales Obsidilove is a conceptual record of a Warrior-sorcerer descending into the unknown dealing with darkness he sees in an obsidian mirror.

Iwan Ap Huw Morgan plays the guitar here using a lot of musical influences from The Cure and Bob Mould to create multi-layered riffs that are usually built around intricate breezy clean strumming and buzzing electric phrasing while his low vocal delivery bringing a vibrant edge to the lyrics on the supernatural Crimson Shrine. It's not just Morgan that plays on the record thigh as Kate Wood (Obey Cobra) brings some counterpoint vocals and takes and occasional lead on the title track.

Steven Goundrey (Gulp, Ghostlawns) adds bass as does Frank Naughton (Rocket Goldstar) who also provides organs, synths and percussion (on the jaunty Back To The Void especially) along with producing most of record, with the exception of three tracks. Andy Fung (Derrero, No Thee No Ess, Cymbient) gives the backbone behind the kit as Paul Battenbough is the additional guitar. Together creating a intriguing mix of psychy alternative rock, occult folk, prog and indie rock that stems from the long experience of Morgan for a journey through a mystical world, making for a very different solo record that is born out of Morgan's previous bands. 7/10

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