Terra – Untitled EP
Location: Cambridge, UK
Label: Hibernacula Records
Can we please stop with the bullshit off not titling records and/or songs? It has been done so many fucking times that by now, in the year 2015 A.D., it just comes off as pretentious and unimaginative (as opposed to, you know, creative and dark, which is what I assume the artists want).
Made up of only 3 songs (titled “I”, “II” and “III”, because fuck you) and clocking just over 40 minutes,this is an EP engineered to make you uncomfortable. Even though there is plenty of melody (I was often reminded of Immortal‘s All Shall Fall) the album is covered with shrieks of pain and sorrow (imagine Burzum in the early days, before Varg discovered Casio) as well as plenty of unnerving sounds, like sustained bass notes and long guitar feedbacks. It’s a cacophonous yet melodic beast that keeps you in the edge of your seat during the whole listening experience.
The problem with this type of instrumental recordings (I will not call the yells, lost far away in the mix, “singing”) is that they can quickly become boring, and this EP suffers from that. If it wasn’t for the annoying sounds that fill the end of each track, and which separate them from each other, you would be hard pressed to differentiate them from one other. Although they’re not the same (“I” has a slower start than “II” and “III”) they’re not unique enough to warrant many replays.
It is clear that Terra are capable of a lot, so it’s sad to see that this EP lacks the necessary variety to keep me wanting more.
My Wooden Pillow – Uncomfortable
Location: Manchester, UK
MWP are an interesting beast. They play an interesting brand of melodic death metal that immediately brings to mind the likes of Arch Enemy and In Flames (although with less technical adornments) that, also seems to appeal to some rock sensibilities.
The bands owes a lot to the work of singer Michelle Adamson, whose versatility at the microphone really make for an interesting listening. While her growls can easily compete with Angela Gossow, her clean singing is reminiscent of Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil or Ji-In Cho of Krypteria, demonstrating that she has the skill-set required to compete on the big leagues.
While a big chunk of this EP stays in the melodic death metal territory, its chorus-driven tracks and the use of clean vocals give the EP the ability to appeal to a wider section of the audience. Thankfully, MWP did not take the easy road and just use the already overused combination of clean and growling vocals as a recipe for a metalcore release. It’s definitely nice to listen to a singer that moves from extreme to extreme without having to go through breakdown after breakdown.
MWP definitely have a lot of potential in them, and I for one can’t wait to see what they’ll come up with next.
Them County Bastardz – Sick Daze
Location: Ontario, Canada
Label: Smokehouse Records
One of my biggest complaints for certain genres, such as modern day country, is the shallow gene pool that the lyrics spawn from. Maybe it’s just that I don’t “get” the music, but I can’t help but notice consistent themes of trucks, girls in trucks, and more trucks. Them County Bastardz demonstrate that country is not the only genre that is susceptible to inbred lyricism, and that it is in fact an issue created by the artist and not the genre.
While it could be considered shallow to critique a band on their lyrical content rather than the quality of their sound, in the case of Them County Bastardz it actually works in their favour. The instrumental at best provides a repetitive and basic experience that sounds like it was recorded in your neighbour’s garage; at worst, it sounds like a sludgy mess that was scraped off the recording room floor and converted into an MP3 format for all the world to hear. While through most of the album singer Andrew Watson does some strange yodeling-growl hybrid that quickly kills any interest that you may have had, at least the lyrics, an insane cocktail of tough guy pomp and backwater redneck, at least entertain.
Sick Daze is quite simply a boring disaster. There are some intros that have an interesting bass line or some percussion that demonstrates at least a bit of skill, but they are quickly drowned out in a cowbell that is mixed way too forward, and a sludgy, filthy guitar. In all honesty, one song, “The Bastard,” is actually not horrible. The guitars manage to break out from their terrible riffs and try to make some music happen, and the singer decides that maybe yodeling non-stop isn’t the way to go and throws in some average vocals and half decent screams into the mix. If this song had been released as a single I might have actually thought these guys had some potential.
When laughably bad lyrics are the highlight of your album, it may be a wise decision to reconsider the direction of your music, or possibly your career. Perhaps if you ever need a soundtrack for the long drive back from a successful hunting expedition with the stench of long dead animals wafting through the air, Them County Bastardz could be just the fix you’re looking for, pardner.