January 4, 2008

 Looking at the various end of year lists that appear in various magazines or on the internet, 2007 doesn’t look like the greatest year in music by any stretch of the imagination. Maybe I’m out of touch but it just seems like being fed the same thing on repeat, with this in mind it’s no suprise two of the best things I picked up this year were reissues. Someone finally had the sense to put KILLING JOKE – Extremeties, Dirt & Various Repressed Emotions  back into circulation… About time cos it’s been virtually unavailable in 15 years, and for me it’s their masterwork! The reissue of the SHINER – Making Love EP also made my day, they’re an all time favourite band & these 4 live tracks (+ studio cover) are solid as fuck. It’s great to hear how powerful these tracks are with Jason Gerken’s drumming, ‘Cake’ in particular is testament to this guy being one of the greatest rock drummers of the 90s… like a fusion of Todd Trainer & Neil Peart, speaking of which RUSH – Snakes and Arrows came out in 2007 & for a band existing in its fourth decade it’s incredible they can still sound this relevant & inspiring. Almost unimaginable a trio of guys in their mid 50s kicking fuck out of bands half their age but tracks like ‘Spindrift’ bear witness to this fact. 

 Maybe the only RUSH contender would be a band such as BEHOLD… THE ARCTOPUS who released their first full length Skullgrid this year. These guys fly high above any description,  ’cyber prog’ or  ’insanity metal’ were the best I could come up with. Imagine if 3 dudes were blasted into space 10 years ago with their instruments & only a few VOIVOD, WATCHTOWER & MESHUGGAH albums as company… this would be the resulting musical chaos delivered on returning. Whilst on the subject of the mighty VOIVOD, Away was behind the kit again in 2007 in the ‘prog-rock-avant-garde-kraut-post-punk’ group  KOSMOS and with a description like that it’s no suprise to see song titles like ‘Krautrock’ or ‘Mothership’! 

The UK’s TENHORNEDBEAST  & SHIFT  both had full CD releases in 2007 signifying something of a crossover which incorporated a broader range of stylistic elements.  Noisy yes, but not enough to be considered ’Noise’. Too metallic to be ambient, not static enough to be drone…  2008 looks to be an interesting year for both, with SHIFT doing a split LP and Euro tour with GRUNT and the new THB album ‘Hunts and Wars’.  On a more placid note both TROUM & JAMES PLOTKIN continued to prove their elder statesmanship in the drone/ambient world in 2007 via excellent new releases.  

The wonderful world of Noise Rock is still being graciously plowed in 2007 by those willing to sidestep bandwagon jumping rubbish. Beating this point into your face is ‘Hope For Men’ by  PISSED JEANS, an ugly racket blending the KILSLUG/FLIPPER -like dirges with the unhinged violence of COWS or SHORTY. Following suit is ‘Paint the Walls’ by Rhode Island’s SNAKE APARTMENT, a record which looks & sounds like a late 80s SST release. A  relentless cacophony  is employed throughout  with some  heavily Ginn influenced guitar mangling. ‘Black Madonna’ by THE AUSTERITY PROGRAM takes a different path  fusing  visceral attack with complex time signatures via some incredible drum programming. These guys even deemed it necessary to include a ‘Divergence Index Value Chart’ to explain their songs = total math rock!  Last but by no means least is ‘Excellent Italian Greyhound’ by SHELLAC and I can’t put this better than Albini did himself by saying it’s ‘more of the same’.

Thanks for reading & lets hope 2008 is some righteous shit…


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