Welcome to yet another Indie Wednesday.
Enjoy these guys, and give them a spin!
All We Expected / Raum Kingdom – Split
Location: Belgium (AWE) and Ireland (RK)
All We Expected and Raum Kingdom share a penchant for all things slow and heavy, but their music captures two distinctly opposing qualities. All We Expected capture elegance, conflict, and hope; Raum Kingdom, on the other hand, are less optimistic, evoking fear, disorder, and chaos. While these two opposing forces join to make a cohesive whole, where do their strengths lie?
All We Expected side evokes the graceful melancholia of the genre. Rather than using their instruments to double up on riffs to construct thick, layered walls of sound, the guitarist duo of Maertens and Tytgat interweave delicate, icy echoes and immovable, domineering clout to achieve cavernous, cinematic textures. The guitar melodies are particularly reminiscent of the recent wave of blackgaze artists, notably Sun Devoured Earth and early Deafheaven, but with enough force behind it to level entire cities. One of the most enjoyable aspects of All We Expected side is Artuur Bruwier’s drum work. He really knows how to add suspense through detail and deadly precision in a genre where the majority of the percussionists treat their art as more of an afterthought.
Raum Kingdom’s side acts as the grim aftermath to All We Expected’s gallant heroics. More brooding, more sinister, and with more riffs. Taking cues from the Eyehategod school of metal rather than Isis, Raum Kingdom take advantage of their long instrumental passages to create haunting, fearful atmospheres that lurch and crawl, ungraceful and grotesque in all the right ways. The band also opt for the vocal talents of Dave Lee rather than sticking to instrumentals like their Belgian counterparts. Lee’s vocals contribute a huge amount to the eerie atmosphere of the record, trading off between fearful hymnals and throaty, hardcore bawls. His vocal talents aren’t the most technically-proficient, but manage to aptly capture the visceral mood that the record shoots for.
Obese – Kali Yuga
Location: Utrecht, the Netherlands
Label: Argonauta Records
A name like ‘Obese’ creates a few assumptions about the band before you even hear them. While just taking a look at one of their band photos can eliminate the assumptions about their physical health, that still leaves the question of whether their sound lives up to the name. Obese bill themselves as stoner sludge, and while there’s plenty of bands in the first half of their genre-pairing with a sound described as ‘fat’, sludge tends to be a bit leaner, even if the traditional use of long buzzy feedback stretches helps to hide that.
Despite seeming kind of presumptuous for spelling their name in all caps all over their debut, Obese do bring the two musical halves together in a satisfactory way (and, hell, putting their balls out on display isn’t really at odds with the music at all). The bass and guitar do indeed work the tube-amping to get a broad-wave sound going, which serves as the main focus for the album’s nine songs. They might be angling for comparisons to High On Fire a little too hard, but their emulation of rough-edged and broad-stroked crags isn’t too bad, even if at times some ’70s cock rock can be heard influencing the riffs.
The album holds back on the desert-rat attitude all the way to the second track, “Rite of Fire”, at which point Obese start making known their taste for trashed and sloshed blues rock. Though there are a few odd touches and interruptions (such as the college-horror film reading at the end of “The Bitter Blast”, or the surprise appearance of a riff from Phantom of the Opera), there’s enough pedal-love wrapped around the vast majority of it to keep most fuzz-heads satisfied. At the same time, while I wouldn’t call it dishonest or disengaged, there’s something that feels a little hollow about Kali Yuga when it’s all taken as one serving.
By setting their high-energy slop-thrash as their main gear, Obese have given themselves a problem of sounding like they’re in neutral when they shift to slower stuff, and being able to come off well at low speeds is something near-essential to both halves of their genre fielding. On the other side of it, they don’t have much room to speed up before breaking out of sludge entirely, though they get some cool results when they do (see penultimate track “Bow” for an eruption of bottled-up energy), while the regularity of their noisy blow-outs (and all but the last song being in the 4:00-5:20 range) starts under-cutting itself before the album’s out.
There are good ideas at work in Kali Yuga, and the 9-minute closer “Begetter Dead Letter” shows how good they can be when they pull out the stops; but despite Obese‘s focus on roughness, they are ideas in need of sharpening. This being a first album, it’s hard to fault them for showing off as many sides to their sound as they can, but if their next one hasn’t trimmed some flab, they’ll likely disappear in the large number of similar-sounding bands.
Titans Eve – Chasing the Devil
Location: Vancouver, Canada
First off, I gotta say that Titans Eve is a great name for a band. I had never heard of these Canadian boys before, but apparently Chasing the Devil is their third studio album which makes me wonder how come they had hidden right under my nose. They identify as a combination of thrash and doom metal, but as far as I can tell they are much more ingrained in the thrash pool with maybe speckles of doom here and there.
Chasing the Devil wasted no time in informing me what it’s all about. Things kick off with a swelling guitar that the rest of the band erupts from in a burst of energy that put a smile on my face. The feeling of energy and oddly upbeat vibes never fades from the sound and it is one of the best qualities of the album, as it seems like Titans Eve actually had a lot of fun and enjoyed producing their music.
Taking inspiration from the likes of Annihilator and Metallica, they deliver a performance with a heavy and welcome instrumental focus. Sections of face melting shredding, medium paced flowing grooves, and slower, intricate build ups are the meat and potatoes of the sound. They are combined and structured in a way that demonstrates a clear sense of direction and purpose that left me in anticipation to hear what would come next while rocking out to what was currently playing.
While they may be falsely advertised, there is nothing phony about the passion that Titans Eve brings to their performance. High energy and well thought out execution are the cornerstones of the album, and they also make me curious and hopeful about whether they can reproduce their efforts live.