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Tuesday 24 October 2023

Reviews: Dream Nails, Auriferous Flame, Putrid Torso, Dirty Sound Music (Reviews By Alex Swift, Erick Willand, Mark Young & Rich Piva)

Dream Nails – Doom Loop (Marshall Records) [Alex Swift]

With their eponymous debut Dream Nails left their stamp on the alternative music world. That record shot at a variety of social and political evils, bringing attention to specific crimes that serve to divide all communities of all kinds. It was a piece which truly captured the volatility of global events at the time, with real-world news skits woven throughout their frantic songs. 

A few years on from that outing, the group have reemerged with Doom Loop - a name that effectively concedes that nothing has improved and that the exact same problems stated in their initial call to action are still there or even worse, as the band are propelled by an even greater sense of resentment and rage. In spite of that though, elaborating on the theme of the record, singer Ishmael Kirby commented that “A doom loop is a crisis that starts to feed on itself. It feels like there is no escape. But there is. This album reflects ourselves, the world we live in, and the one we want to create”. That sense of conquering the insurmountable is one that stands out in every moment of this effort!

Beginning with a sinuous riff, Good Guy sets the tone, causing a groove to form that instantly locks you in. On a superficial level, the song appears to be appealing and full of hooks, particularly with its refrain that begs to be sang along to. However, the words and subject matter soon reveal the inherent menace concealed by the accessibility, as the band confront police brutality and institutional violence with the words ““it’s not a bad apple, it’s the whole damn tree”. Proving yet another earworm-inducing tune is Geraniums. This one truly displays the evolution of Dream Nails' sound, being filled to the brim with enormous riffs and melodies. There's still opportunity for proceedings to get messy, despite the cleaner production and improved technical prowess, while the more concentrated sound allows more diversity of moods to come through in the compositions.

Later, Prevenge messes with the speed and the vocals in order to intentionally sabotage the rhythm. A little amount of improvisation is added, which is completely realised in the song Sometimes I Do Get Lonely, Yeah, which forgoes the use of guitars in favour of a bass-led arrangement that truly stands out. This acceptance of diversity perfectly complements the revolutionary sense of acceptance and unity Dream Nails seek to set out. Femme Boi is a euphoric piece about feeling free to be comfortable in your gender and sexuality, while Monster demands the audience to “find the light and crack it open”. Even the sombre closing track of Time Ain't No Healer exposes the trauma's enduring destruction, reminding the listener that sometimes ‘recovery; doesn’t mean overcoming all of our faults, but learning to understand them and see them as part of who we are.

The underlying appeal of Doom Loop offers a sense of hope while being as bold and vocal as it is. Although it often seems confrontational and angry, its subjects are relatable and heartfelt. Dream Nails view living as an accomplishment in itself, standing up against the slings of oppression rather than giving in to them. Doom Loop strives to live by the tenet that while that's rarely an easy path to take, it's always worthwhile. The band are still a vital part of the punk scene today because they embrace uniqueness and innovation, which gives their voice a powerful boost. And since the aforementioned voice has such passion and importance to proclaim, you'll want to listen! 8/10

Auriferous Flame - Ardor For Black Mastery (True Cult Records) [Erick Willand]

Black metal project Auriferous Flame hailing from Greece is a solo affair by a dude by the name Ayloss. Solo projects like this can be hit or miss, on the one hand you are given a glimpse into a singular vision by someone who is clearly very driven. On the other hand they can be messy and underdeveloped on account that there usually isn’t anyone else to say “hey…that might sound better like this…”.

Auriferous Flame seems to have circumvented this solo project stigma as I can tell right from the first few seconds of Wielders Of Secrets that Ayloss has the chops to get the job done. Wielders rips open with no fan-fair, just instant swirling riffs and relentless drumming. Intensity is clearly the name of the game here, grabbing your attention and holding it tightly for almost 10 minutes. That’s right, this track clocks in at 9 minutes 39 seconds and … I’m not bored out of my mind. Track 2 is Thaumaturgical Irresolutions has a more raw, in your face with my guitar approach and this is wickedly noticeable in the drum work as well, harsh and pounding and just a tiny bit sloppy. Huge old school vibes start kicking my pizza glazed thrash metal brain and damn this is a really good song. In classic black metal fashion the following track Behind The Gentle Breeze is a synth heavy eerie piece drenched in mournful howls and creepy vibes. Also the shortest track so far.

Then comes album title track, Ardor For Black Mastery which opens with enough guitar heroics for a full band. It's a captivating and intensely fun little ride into the song proper and seriously…this is one guy!? This song is so vast without losing any aggression for it’s grandiose yet feral attack. Again, this song breaks the 5 minute mark and not once did I notice. I spin it again to make sure. Song length be damned here as Auriferous Flame keeps blasting forward like a demonic cavalry charge. Beyond Light, Beyond Reason starts with an almost classic thrash riff that quickly mutates into a black metal frontal assault. Again, full aggression on display and just over 7 minutes disappear. You’re left stumbling from this only to then instantly be healed back to full health by the short, mostly acoustic instrumental guitar love fest that is Ophidian Hallways, a fantastic little piece with a distinctly Mediterranean flare that at first seems out of place but necessary.

It’s only the calm fake-out before the final audio assault that is last track Recommencing The Great Work, an epic song that opens with an immediate vocal - riff combo attack that only grows in howling intensity until the grand, chaotic, shouted, guitar heavy blast before a final fade out.

This one surprised me, it’s big, well produced and the songs are all longer than usual but interesting and arranged in good flow. The light thrash or even trad touches added the right spice to hook and hold my attention. I don’t always agree with having a ‘light’ instrumental piece second to last on an album but it works here. Also the cover art is weird and cool, like a suit of ghost armor just chilling out. This is a solid listen and earns a 8/10

Putrid Torso - Tales Of Hypnotised Human Veins (Pathologically Explicit Records) [Mark Young]

Huzzah!! Some blast beats to round off the week. Starting the sonic assault with The Second Coming Of Negative Utopia, this is a breakneck, guttural and visceral attack on the senses. As openers go, it’s a full-on statement of intent of exactly what you can expect for the next 30 minutes or so. And this is what you get: dense, compact riffs. Perpetual drumming and the lowest of the low growling.

This is fine but if you are trying to review it doesn’t leave a lot of room to manoeuvre. Each of the song is more or less the same as the last one, some with more discordant guitar than others but they all have that constant speed of attack. I appreciate that writing death metal is hard and then trying to make this, so it stands out is something else. The level of musicianship on display from the three-piece is superb, there is absolutely no criticism there and it really does fly past. Even when there is a slight change, for example Path To Avoid as an example which has a slower start, they drop back into that brutal delivery which you have heard on the three songs before.

This is going to sound whiny, but I’m doing it anyway. In terms of keeping me interested in listening to it all the way through, it didn’t. It’s because I’ve listened to a lot in the past year and its possibly a fatigue thing, or it’s because I didn’t find it engaging. Either way, there will be those who disagree and will place plaudits on it for what it is, and they would be right to do so if this is what they like. It’s been a funny month for reviews so far, there has been a lot of solid releases (this is one of them) which are perfectly fine but that’s it. 

Again, let me say that this is a fantastically brutal sounding piece of death metal / brutal death / death grind / brutal death slam (taken from social media as tags on this band) that does exactly what you think it would do. It just didn’t do it for me. 6/10

Dirty Sound Magnet - Dreaming In Dystopia (Wild Thing Records) [Rich Piva]

I loved the last Dirty Sound Magnet record, DSM III, but to be honest, I am struggling with the latest from the Swiss psych freaks. Dreaming In Dystopia is a pretty apt name for this record, but while it is as freaky as I want a DSM record to be, there is something missing for me.

Dreaming In Dystopia is super chill and starts off strong with Melodies From Distant Shores, which is a nice little psych ditty with some fun guitar work. The title track is where I start to disconnect a bit, as I just didn’t feel the vibe on it. I hear some Flaming Lips on this one, but something is keeping me from fully understanding where this is going.

It is the same with the next one, The Tragedy Of Men, that is delightfully weird but just not sticking, but I do enjoy the guitar work. This is the overall sentiment for me across Dreaming In Dystopia. Utopia is the track that I really did not connect with. Vocally and lyrically I just want to turn it off when it comes up and brings the whole record down. I didn’t hate anything until this song, but Utopia really turned me off to the whole overall album experience.

I appreciate how weird this album is and I am always cool with bands expanding their sound, but I really struggled with Dreaming In Dystopia which is disappointing since I do really enjoy Dirty Sound Magnet. I love how psych they are, and I like that they are expanding their scope and our minds, I jut really struggled with the new one. 6/10

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