Schwermetall: Cobalt, «Slow Forever»

cobaltslowforeverI must confess that I landed, at last, on Cobalt between the woundrous Gin (2009) and the new album, Slow Forever (2016), which is another shining piece of metal art: a long double album packed with so many ideas that could have filled three, if not four different albums. You know I like the albums built upon a bunch of riffs repeated to infinity and beyond, but the variety here is so overwhelming and strong that it can’t be dismissed: at the end of each of the longest tracks it seems like an entire record is gone by, not just a song. The landscape is the same, but endlessly transforming, and growing like a tree with infinite branches.

Guitar and voice, like they belong to each other from the beginning. The guitar work is spectacular: although not particularly big in sound, Erik Wunder’s is a tough and rough guitar, nervous and agile, jumping from a riff to another, but also capable of the deepest dive: she often seems to get tired quick of the riff she just stumbled upon, and in need of roaming elsewhere. The voice is the perfect hat for that giant: aching and explosive, Charlie Fell’s vocals come in exactly where they’re needed, with even strenght and ferocity.

You realize quite soon, going down the twelve tracks, that there is no need of a genre’s label, or, if you just can’t go without it, that the word that unite us all is enough: heavy. Taking freely something from many of our beloved genres and subgenres, Slow Forever is heavy, quintessential and pure heavy, flattening ‘n’ grinding the listener from start to finish, with just a couple of acoustic breaths along the way. You can feel a sense of urgency, of running away from the fire – or into it –, that finds temporary relief in some furious and solid codas.

Despite its ingredients – the ones you can taste immediately, the ones you can guess in the back –, Slow Forever shines and sparkles with infectious vigor and power, and a very strange kind of irrefutable joy.

Cobalt, Slow Forever, Profound Lore Records 2016.

 

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A big snake: Omega Monolith, «Fungus»

FungusDear friend,

sometimes I feel immediately at home in a record. More often because of the sound, more  rarely because of what is being said, and I don’t mean the lyrics. In Fungus, second album by Greek duo Omega Monolith, there are no lyrics at all, but there’s definitely a speech, a discourse, and I’ve founded myself listening to it attentively since the first notes. Their music is a way of thinking, and I liked it a lot.

I would say, first of all, start from the very beginning, take your time, and develop every idea without haste; when you land on something, stick to it, because it’s only with enough repetitions that you can squeeze some meaning from a (musical) idea; try specific ingredients out of their usual context, and let be taken away by the power of compulsiveness.

Fungus is a very serious record, deeply rooted in drone and repetition, and offering a wide spectrum of sounds, ideas, and wisely chosen effects, with a lot of things going on under the surface, especially in the rhythm department. Fungus is a big, hypnotic snake that wrapped you in its coils and rock you to oblivion (no surprise that at its centre you find a Rust Cohle sample). It’s heavy, when needed, it’s mysterious and coming from who-knows-where (the beginning of The Future is Gone), it’s cryptic (the first minutes of The Past is Now), it’s quite often surprising.

You have to be really sure of what you’re doing to avoid a single second of bore, and OM succed at this without any sign of effort: they mean exactly what they’re playing. I’d bet they’re really satisfied with Fungus – they should.

Yours heavily, mp

Omega Monolith, Fungus, 3 Shades of Black 2016.

 

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Black charm: Oranssi Pazuzu, «Värähtelijä»

VarahtelijaMy dear friend,

you know that I’m a big, deep fan of built-on-a-single-riff tracks, but in this case I’ve to praise heavy metal because it has proven itself more and more capable of including rather than excluding. I’m talking about Oranssi Pazuzu’s new record, Värähtelijä. You can feel that something interesting is going to happen right from the beginning, since that slightly dissonant bell-like guitar that opens Saturaatio, the nicely titled first track, which unfurls like a long roll of tapestry until laying at rest on the surface of a big black lake. It also presents you with the experience of the constant changing of the landscape: an experience which is the main key to the entire record.

The amount of not usual metal sounds is huge, and scattered throughout the whole album, so that, at some point, you may ask yourself: Where am I? Is it still metal what I’m listening to (for instance the dissolution of the vast & wonderful Vasemman käden hierarkia)? It doesn’t matter, in the end, as long as you can always find some kind of musical discomfort, some kind of displacement, mainly entrusted here to sparse vocals, to heavy, thunderous bass lines, or to obstinate drumming.

There are no big gestures in Värähtelijä, there are a lot of little moves, additions, overlappings and detours, that constantly keep you in a state of anxiey, with almost no release – no climaxes, no peaks, very few clearings, no rest: a general tension produced by the fact that every part – guitars, bass, drum, keyboards – seem to follow its own reasoning, almost independently. In this «almost» lies a big part of OP’s black charm. They seem to play from a place full of new visions & nightmares nobody has dreamed yet, and that’s good.

Your heavily, mp

Oranssi Pazuzu, Värähtelijä, Svart Records 2016.

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