Poltergeists: Week of October 31, 2016

Michael

Unreqvited - “Disquiet”

Unreqvited came highly recommended by the folks over at Moonbath, and with great reason. Their sounds are very similar, but in this case that was exactly what I was looking for from a new post-black metal project. The one-person projects that are coming out of the post-black metal world right now are truly some of the most emotionally driven and well-crafted ventures that I have heard in a long time. Unreqvited does a great job of keeping you captivated by the emotion of the track - going from calm orchestral interludes to concise and wonderfully layered blast beats. This audio is wonderfully mixed and produced. I could see this easily being over-polished and refined, but I don’t think that it would hold the same tones - they play on the vocals, the way the violin comes in for a moment and then is gone, or even the way the drums hang in the background as if off in the distance (but not too much). It is a wonderful piece of music.  

Unreqvited’s full-length album Disquiet is out now on Pest Productions. The album artwork and packaging are really great. I would definitely suggest taking a look at the 6-panel Digipak that is up now on their Bandcamp.

Dead When I Found Her - “Tantrum”

The new Dead When I Found Her album, which will be out one year after All The Way Down, is going to be a great force to be reckoned with. “Tantrum” takes the most intense elements from tracks like “Spitting Seeds” (from the All The Way Down’s bonus disk The Bottom) and turns them up as far as they go. The vocals are different, the music is more intense, and the production is as clean as ever. Michael Holloway has a good sense of that classic industrial furiosity - the grueling basslines and utterly maniacal way the vocals push through the distorted atmosphere - and this album will be a great look into that hole that early 90s industrial left behind. Most of all though, I am really impressed with how diverse this project has become. Dead When I Found Her has gone from really well constructed, classically influenced industrial dance music, to drawn out emotional masterpieces, to this new and intense void that was left after the release of All The Way Down.  

Dead When I Found Her’s 4th full-length album, Eyes On Backwards, will be out on November 4th on Artoffact Records (and for the first time on vinyl!).

Wes

Austra - “Forgive Me”

I’ve been listening to the track, and the album it’s from, pretty non-stop since I first came across it a couple weeks ago. It is a fantastic mix of fun and sorrowful. The bass line feels a little disco; the tone of the instrument is bright and deep, and plucks in setting a nice rhythm, complimenting a nice peppy drum beat. In contrast to this brighter elements, a slow pad takes up much of the space in the back of the track, adding a sense of sadness. This is accentuated by the vocal delivery; Katie Stelmanis’ voice vibrates and strains as she sings. It is a wonderfully emotional track, and the contrast between the happier sounding rhythm and more sorrowful melodies elevate it

Austra is the electronic project of Katie Stelmanis from Toronto, Ontario. Their most recent album, Future Politics, will be available January 20, 2017.

Alcest - “Je Suis D'ailleurs”

I’m kind of shocked that I hadn’t heard Alcest until very recently, because this band is directly up my alley. Pulling inspiration from post-rock and black metal, the sounds of “Je Suis D’ailleurs” are huge. The band shifts from big, reverb-soaked vocals and washes of slow moving guitars, building huge amounts of atmosphere, to sparse moments, to fast moving beats and tremolo picking to match. As you should expect from black metal, the changes of the music feel like actual movements, independent but expertly tied together through transitory moments. You could easily listen to the track over and over (as I have) without ever feeling like a moment is boring or out of place.

Alcest is the original blackgaze band. Their newest album, Kodama, is available on Bandcamp.

Poltergeists: Week of November 16, 2015

Poltergeists is a biweekly feature in which Michael and Wes share tracks that they have had on repeat over the past two weeks.

Michael

Dead When I Found Her - All The Way Down

I spoke with Michael Holloway of Dead When I Found Her in the winter of 2014, nearly a year ago, when he broke through the barrier of this album. He told me that it was dark and heavy, far more extreme than previous Dead When I Found Her releases. Knowing that Michael has a really great sense of sound and rhythm, I was looking forward to this release. I pre-ordered it when it was posted (which is not something I usually do without hearing anything) and I kept away from teasers or samples. Until yesterday. Sonic Seducer had an exclusive stream of the bonus disk and I just couldn’t stop myself from checking it out. “The Bottom” is the third track on the bonus disk, but is obviously the one that sticks out as: “Oh! Yeah! This is way different in the best way.”

All The Way Down is being marketed as a bleak look at aging, death, and dying. The tagline is “What if the last part of your life is the worst part of your life?” It is a complete concept that you can really feel in the album. I chose “Threadbare” for this specific review because it is a great example of the new album’s pace. The album breathes wonderfully. It takes its time. It is a mature step for Dead When I Found Her and I can’t wait to get deep into this album. Its atmosphere, which is something that is important to me, is dark, bleak, and true to the theme. It is chaotic at times - as death, I am sure, will be - and it feels lonely at other times.

Michael did a wonderful interview with our friends at I Die : You Die. He said that “Downpour” was the pop song on the album and that it is closest to the last few albums in structure (verse, chorus, break, verse, etc.). This track is bold and has a lot of elements that I really enjoy. With a solid beat, this is the most club-friendly track, but it still manages to maintain the kind of bleak and dark feeling of the rest of the album. Michael also said in the interview that he wanted to create a feeling of conversation between the samples and the different vocal styles used in the album. This is most apparent on tracks like “The Bottom” or the previously mentioned “Threadbare,” but still holds true in “Downpour.” It is an interesting technique for communicating a storyline - or concept in this case - and is reminiscent of Chrysalide, or Skinny Puppy in its delivery.  

Go check out the full album, and its bonus disk on the Dead When I Found Her Bandcamp, or buy the bonus disk edition directly from the label at Storming the Base.

Wes

The Good Life - “Inmates”

I realized I have never written about The Good Life’s Album of the Year, which considering how much I listen to it, is almost a criminal break from the premise of Poltergeists. This is hands down my favorite song from the album. It is definitely more powerful in the context of the full album - the album is a concept where each track represents about a month of a relationship - but even without the full context of the previous songs, this song manages to tear me up. There’s something about how the song slowly builds from simple plucking of the guitar and soft vocals, something about the painful lyrics, that tugs at me, making me feel in a way that most music fails to.

Haujobb - “Leaving”

The new Haujobb has me in a spot where I can’t talk about the whole album yet; I’m a huge fan of Haujobb, and the sound of the album as a whole has been unexpected, in a way that has me unsure how I totally feel about it. That said, I’ve really enjoyed this song every time it’s come on. I love the simplicity of it. The piano has a great emotional feel to it. It’s dark, melancholic, and when paired with the low hum of the bass and atmospheric elements it begins to feel almost aggressive in a way that was surprising the first time I listened. Pair that with the whispered vocals and the whole thing feels a little disconcerting; there’s a tension that’s created where you kind of expect it to blow up at any moment, but it never really fully does.