Find us on Facebook!

To keep updated like our page at:

Or on Twitter:

Or E-mail us at:

Friday 20 November 2020

Reviews: pg.lost, Hjelvik, Contrarian, When Rivers Meet (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

pg.lost: Oscillate (Pelagic Records)

Oscillate the opening track on post-rockers pg.lost’s newest release of the same name is possibly the most self-explanatory song I’ve ever heard, as the definition goes: “move or swing back and forth in a regular rhythm” well that’s exactly what the song does building a regular pattern from the beginning adding layers upon layers and rarely differentiating, it’s almost mesmeric and hooks you in with its insistence. It’s a trick so often repeated on this album. Written as mainly instrumental music to strip away any false lyrical hints, it gives this fifth album an unwavering almost primal nature to it. E22 conjuring the crashing of waves with its huge cascading riff and tribal drumming built upon the building of tension and cathartic release that bands such as Mono follow the songs keeping you on edge until things explode into a momentous crescendo at the end that leaves you breathless. 

What’s interesting here is that the songs rarely ascribe to certain sound, with frequent forays into indie-shoegaze shimmers, ambient closeness, textured synthwave of Waves, which dare I say it sounds Christmassy and huge expansive krautrock noodling of bands like Tangerine Dream (Shelter). Mixed and mastered by Magnus Lindberg from Cult Of Luna, Oscillate is an album that has been meticulously constructed to sound as natural as possible, each track flowing into the next as you reach towards a peak that draws closer with ever cinematic song until finally and breathlessly you arrive at the close of The Headless Man. There are few albums that make me feel emotional but as I listened (tip: use headphones) I felt my eyes tearing up such is the emotional depth of this record. A wonderful musical exploration that cements Oscillate as one of the finest post-rock albums this year. 9/10

Hjelvik: Welcome To Hel (Nuclear Blast)
Is there such thing as a Rock Viking, well other than Roy Wood from Wizzard that is! Well Hjelvik seem to have hit upon the hitherto untapped genre of Classic Rock meets Viking Metal as this debut album attests with songs that owe as much to Immortal and Enslaved as it does to Deep Purple and WASP. This amalgamation of styles comes from frontman Erland Hjelvik's previous job as the founding frontman of Kvelertak and while they fuse blackened vocals and riffs with punk/hardcore and rock, Hjelvik's solo project very much adds a blackened sheen to classic heavy metal sounds. 

Songs such as Ironwood have that thrusting gallop of bands like Maiden but with a more distorted guitar sound Hjelvik's screamed vocals over the top as the bouncy riffs keep coming with songs such as Helgrinda having big Jon Lord-esque organs while the choppy The Power Ballad Of Freyr matched Amon Amarth power metal with some more hard rock rhythms. Elsewhere on the album Glory Of Hel has that touch of Blackie Lawless I talked about earlier and Ironwood also brings a touch of Hjelvik's previous band. This record is anything but formulaic blurring genre lines as Hjelvik himself admits that "Over the last couple of years I really started listening to a lot of metal again" and he's delved into the treasure trove that is classic metal sounds while adding a touch of the more extreme seen. A true hard rock Viking Welcome To Hel is a punchy debut solo record that will sound familiar but also unique. 8/10  

Contrarian: Only Time Will Tell (Willowtip Records)

Coming just over a year since their last record Their Worm Never Dies Rochester, NY natives Contrarian return with their fourth full length Only Time Will Tell. The band put the progressive in progressive death metal rarely settling in to a groove for any length of time but never letting things spiral into uncomfortable, overly jazzy or off-piste levels that certain bands allow themselves to fall into again and again. Tracks such as Cased Closed manages to shift between slower atmospheric sounds and the battering heaviness while The Mega Metropolis is packed full of intensely technical bass playing from Bill Bodily who also uses the King Crimson favourite Chapman Stick, while the drumming of Bryce Butler is unrelenting. 

Obviously as this is death metal Cody McConnell's vocals stay in the guttural grunt realms but things do get cleaner on the chorus of tracks such as the jazzy Scarlet Babylon, but Only Time Will Tell is a guitar players dream Jim Tasikas's and Brian Mason's playing is mind-blowing but it's the last layer of a very dense musical cake. As the keys/synths filter through carrying the ambient instrumental title track along with the 80's inspired Beat The Clock. A feast of musical mastery Only Time Will Tell is another deep dive into brain melting technical death metal. 7/10      

When Rivers Meet: We Fly Free (One Road Records)

As the slide driven fuzz rocker Did I Break The Law kicks into gear and those soulful smoky vocals emerge from the speakers you’d be forgiven for thinking this was another Beth Hart project. But you’d be wrong as When Rivers Meet are a husband and wife blues rock duo from the UK made up of guitarist/vocalist Aaron and vocalist/mandolin/violinist Grave Bond, their sound is very much influenced by the American blues rock style, with creeping elements of Americana and of course the British blues explosion. We Fly Free is the bands full length debut recorded with analogue, tube and valve powered equipment to keep the sound authentic and organic, Aaron’s guitars especially have warm welcoming fuzz to them like you’d hear on a Blues Pills records, Kissing The Sky shows this well as Grace’s slide resonator mandolin is also fed through an amp for a double guitar hiss. 

Add to this some bubbling Hammond organs and you get a retro-influenced record in the 21st Century. As I mentioned in the opening sentence Grace has gritty, powerful vocal similar to that of Elin Larsson or Beth Hart, she takes the majority of the main vocals however her husband also provides a low distinct timbre to the darkly folky Breaker Of Chains, while the two duet on the emotive I Will Fight and the acoustic gospel-like number Bury My Body a song that will be more evocative on stage. Recorded at The Boathouse Studio in Suffolk with Adam Bowers who also plays drums on this album joining engineer Robin G Breeze to contribute bass, organ and piano, fleshing out the duo's compositions into full formed blues rock brilliance. There's something a little special about We Fly Free which will hopefully get When Rivers Meet to the next level in their career. 8/10 

No comments:

Post a Comment