LÜT – Mersmak (Indie Recordings, Crestwood Records/Loud Media GmbH/Warner) [Alex Swift]
Gaining recognition after live streaming themselves shovelling snow in order to promote their 2020 album Bangkok Nonstop, both the aesthetic and music of this Norwegian band seems to radiate positivity, and that’s without understanding the lyrics. Their take on punk is rowdy yet relatable, monstrously noisy but memorable, anarchic but accessible. And while those might not be new conventions in this genre, LÜT certainly have a distinct take on the sound. They take a distinctly no-strings-attached approach to creating music whereby you could just as easily be watching them from the back of a bar as be listening to one of their records. That’s the type of energy they convey here (although something tells me that the former scenario would be even more unleashed). Mersmak translates into English as ‘lust for more’.
Jakethehawk - Hinterlands (Ripple Music) [JT Smith]
I always really enjoy it when a band tries something different within the confines of their respective genre. Stoner rock has a very definite sound, and so the opening, gentle clean guitar refrains of Counting are refreshing, and cold sounding, in usual contrast to the heavy, open desert feel of stoner. Of course, being a stoner band, they do the fuzzed out, sonically dense guitars known of the genre (and this is well displayed on Ochre and Umber, and on EP closer June), but this isn’t paint-by-numbers stoner rock. A nice counterpoint to the heaviness is the lush, layered, heavily reverbed, airy vocals. This is a band exploring the boundaries of stoner and post-metal, and it works really well.
Like all stoner rock, there’s a vibe of emptiness running through the record, but it’s a cold, wooded valley emptiness (which is why it comes as no surprise to find out that these guys are from the Appalachians). It’s an emptiness that echoes back at you, and is captured by some very inventively used guitar effects, not all of which are distorted. Along with the airy, floaty vocals, there’s almost a *folky* feel to the record in parts, and nowhere is this more apparent on the awesome Still Life, which is a tremendously cavalier showing off of the *balls* of this band. It;s the best song on the record and it’s mostly acoustic guitars until the absolutely crushing last two minutes. This is an excellent record that says in its six songs and 36 minutes more than a lot of other stoner rock bands do in 12 minutes with twice the songs. 8/10
Compile - Reaching (Self Released) [Matt Bladen]
One look at Israeli prog metal band Compile's social media and you'd have to be blind not see their influences as in between the play along videos and behind the scenes looks at the making of this album you get endless and a I mean ENDLESS Porcupine Tree/Steven Wilson/ Opeth memes. Their love of Steven Wilson is obvious not just here but also in the music on their debut record which brings the feeling of post-In Absentia Porcupine Tree on the jangling Keep You From Harm but also the big hitters of prog metal such as Dream Theater as tracks such as Illusive have those technical basslines, layered keys and tonal shifts that rarely stick to 4/4.
From the limited info I could find Noam (bass) and Moshe (guitar) have been a few bands together which is probably why their contributions link so tightly with the drumming of Ben adding that third part of the musical backing for this record. From here they set about writing music but Reaching came together faster with the addition of keyboardist William and the smoky vocals of Eden. There are 8 songs on the record but none of them are four on the floors rockers, they are long winding mini-epics richly populated with musical shifts and solos as well as big choruses. It won't win over any non prog fans but if you're Porcupine Tree or Dream Theater fan then you'll enjoy the hell out of Reaching. 7/10
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