Brünndl – Brünndl


junkheadv1tmbBrünndl – Brünndl

In the world of metal, a little sense of melody goes a long way. All the NWOBHM bands understood this, and that’s what made them such an enduring influence on metal across the world. Nothing beats a memorable riff, an afterthought vocal line, and a driving beat.

Few other genres can really nail this combination, which makes Brünndl so bizarre. The album was simply labeled pagan black metal, which made me assume it was going to be the standard tremolo-guitar blast beat orgasm. While black metal is easily the strongest influence on their debut, there’s a lot more going on under the hood.

Out of the blue, the songs will effortlessly shift into standard rock beats. The vocalist randomly starts doing one of those folky wails, and the guitars start playing discernible riffs. You’ll start tapping your toe, and then you’ll start moving your head. Then, out of nowhere, you’ll realize you’re on full-out gonzo metalhead mode, spitting blood from your mouth and air-guitaring this shit until the walls cave in. And finally, when the riff’s about to grow tired and return you to reality, the whole switches up again and you get all hyped to slaughter some more goats and rub them all over your effigies of Vlad Tepes.

The only real way to understand is to do a thorough analysis, so take “Magaan”. It starts with black metal, twists into a folk-metal crawl, returns to black metal, turns into a sea-shanty, and ends up as melodic barroom death metal complete with a shrieked oi ending every verse.

It’s all over the place, but none of the seams show. They don’t bat an eye, like they’re veterans who’ve churned this stuff out for decades. I think Brünndl’s rockin’ attack will have a longer shelf life than the blackgaze and post-black atmosphere trends. While eventually artsy-fartsy dudes with face paint always go out of style, dudes with face paint who rock the fuck out will live forever.


Micro-Reviewery 3: Ceifador, After the Burial, Blood Ceremony, etc.


Even more stuff from the past few weeks that deserves no more than a brief paragraph.


Ceifador – Heavy Metal 666

A lot of people forget that Brazil is one of the biggest d-beat countries in the history of punk. Even their thrash just ends up sounding like Discharge: fast, repetitive, and totally awesome. You’d assume these guys are punks who think putting Heavy Metal and 666 in their album title will give them instant international appeal, but they draw heavily from Bathory and Venom in terms of gutter slime sound. That’s a good thing.



After the Burial – Dig Deep

This band sucks. Half the time they sound like In Flames and half the time they sound like Meshuggah. They don’t even bother meshing the sounds, it’s just one or the other. I’d say you’re better off making a mixtape of your favorite In Flames and Mesuggah songs, but they suck, too.



Blood Ceremony – Lord of Misrule

Listening to new music has quickly put stoner rock into my no-no category. There’s so much crappy drugged-out hippie shit coming out, it’s getting difficult to really follow along. I swear to God, if I discover another band with a name like Acid Yeti, I’m going to puke all over their souls, causing their souls to get grossed out and vomit some of their own ecto-spew, causing all sorts of spectral anomalies. If you think that description’s trippy-cool, then you really ought to Blood Ceremony. It’s like a metal version of Jefferson Starship’s or HP Lovecraft’s good songs with lots and lots of flutes. Crisp and clean metal for the sober psych fan, even if most tracks overstay their welcome.



Mordbrand – Hymns Of The Rotten

How can people stand this shit? Vanilla death metal’s just bad, and Mordbrand’s “best-of” does nothing to change my wise and objective opinion. At least they don’t use blast beats.



Fillwithlight – ???

I was looking really hard for a lo-fi folk album in the spirit of The Mountain Goats or some other crappy band. Two decades after the height of said awful genre, I was figuring it got better. Instead, we have this nameless, faceless album that tries to break itself up into four pieces using German words for different seasons and act all great about it’s non-existent concept. Why are the titles German? So half the audience will just look at your song titles and drool and pick their nose and not give a shit? What does it matter when all the tracks sound the same? Herbst isn’t more balls out rockin’ than Sommer or anything, and when a lo-fi album is twenty-seven minutes and feels three epochs long, it’s just a poser piece of trash devoid of any creativity. This guy better watch out, because the hackneyed garbage police are going to come to his door some day, drag him into the street, beat him senseless with a mallet, and shoot him like the dog he is with one of those enormous cartoon rocket launchers.

Be sure to check out the album here.




ayholev1tmbThe 1975 -I like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It

The 1975 are a popular “rock” band from Cheshire that play electropop. Their newest album, previously named and henceforth referred to by the acronym ILIWYSFYASBYSUOI, charted number one in both UK and US last month.

The majority of the album sounds early 90’s late 80’s in that layering. Although the band uses a lot of sweet effects on their guitars, the majority of the identifiable sounds are synth sounds. The majority of the beats are soul and R&B inspired. Thick and rolled-up vocals from a myriad of guest singers cover the furniture. Each side appears to be themed.

Side A features pop, funk, and dancy rhythms. Side B is very introspective. Side C is about “love” and “somebody,” at least that seems to be the two most used words. The final side starts off with a slammin smooth jazz saxophone solo and then has three mega depressing songs about life being screwed up.

Side A’s coolest part is the wobbly synth melody which occurs in “A Change of Heart.” This track feels like it sounds the way the band wanted it, a little artistic and fun. The downside is track 2 and 3 sound like the same song different chorus. Even the words are similar enough for it to feel like verse 2 and 3, which would not be an issue if the music was substantially different.

Side B starts with a gospel inspired tune, “If I Believe You,” in which Healy regrets believing some bologna Dogma (pronounced phonetically) that has scarred him. For the record, a free gift is no strings attached. Only a liar sells freedom at a price. This track features a flugelhorn.

“Lost My Head,” is a shoegaze song with four lines repeated for 5 minutes, making it an instant favorite.

Side C is back to the dance music. “Loving Someone,” embodies the theme and features very modern synth sounds over cool chord progressions. Musically it is one of the most sound tracks, lyrically it is a little annoying due to gimmicky cliche’s that I both respect and despise. The title track is a six and a half minute techno song.

The final side has that cool sax solo and three songs that make Europe sound terrifying. The final track, “She lays down,” sounds like it was recorded on a hand-held and is just guitar and voice.

As for bonus tracks, the Target deluxe edition features digital download codes for “How to Draw,” a soundscape with the strongest lyrics of all, and a demo of “A Change of Heart,” less cloudy and more dynamic. The dynamics of electropop albums are often little to non-existent, and that is another thing that the band might want to think about for the next album.

All in all, it is difficult to hate ILIWYSFYASBYSUOI. There is a lot of thought out content and the 1975 know exactly what their fans want. The instrumentation is redundant at times but never boring, though it feels like a concept album got put in a blender. I appreciate lyricists that are able to be real and still keep it artistic and Healy and the gang push the envelope a little bit in both of those areas.

Boris with Merzbow – Gensho


junkheadv1tmbBoris with Merzbow – Gensho

Japanese freaks Boris have reinvented their sound one too many times. My girlfriend and I saw them during their Heavy Rocks 2011 tour, and they played all their awesome stoner rock classics. The band was hyped, the crowd was hyped, and it was worth every dollar I spent to get the tickets. All eighteen of them. Elated after the experience, I nabbed two discs that had just come out. One was straight J-pop, and the other really wonky shoegaze. Boris makes great drone, doom, stoner, and noise boom, but not garbage disposal pop. I swore off the band, never to return. Until now.

Honestly, this collaboration is probably the worst time to come back. Merzbow is easily the most boring high-profile noise artist ever. Crappy laptop bzzzzzt is the name of the game, and that’s about an hour of this release. Merzbow’s portion is meant to be played in tandem with the Boris part, but you could mix anything else and it would be way more entertaining. Boris with Fleetwood Mac. Boris with N*Sync. Boris with Englebert Humperdink.

Fuck Merzbow.

Boris’s side is pretty meaty. Most of the tracks are new versions of older songs, played loud, slow, and almost exclusively with soaring guitars. It’s another shoegaze assault, but the lack of a rhythm section and light noise touches keep everything anti-pop enough to hold interest.

Still, a lot of tracks still totally blow. “Resonance” contains two minutes of pure digital silence, something the Melvins did better twenty plus years ago, while “Vomitself” sneaks in a bunch of Merzbow laptop bzzzzzt. The best track ends up being the My Bloody Valentine cover.

So yeah, fuck Boris too.

A very high D+

Lords of the Black – II


junkheadv1tmbLords of the Black – II

A lot of stuff on Frontiers Records wants to sound like Ronnie James Dio and doesn’t, especially since his death in 2010. In particular, Jørn Lande is constantly labelled “The New Dio” by fans and critics despite never really sounding like him at all. Even all of Dio’s original solo bandmates got their geriatric asses up long enough to form Last in Line, releasing a lame album last month. It all comes off as bogus. Frontiers might think these artists are all paying homage, but really they’re a gratuitous attempt to capitalize on the absence of a metal luminary.

Lords of the Black is not one of those bands. They’re a pitch perfect replication of Dio, with mammoth riffs, catchy choruses, and a perfect balance of fast and mid-tempo sections. Singer Ronnie Romero is probably the best Ronnie James rip-off in the business. A cover of the Dio-sung Rainbow classic “Lady of the Lake” was probably added to the album for comparison’s sake: the world’s greatest vocal forensic scientists could spend decades trying to uncover how Romero managed to steal Dio’s vocal cords and implant them into his own throat.

One’s the illusion of mimicry wears off, the tracks start blending together and many tracks go on far past the six minute mark. Unlike Dio, Lords of the Black has no idea how to make an awesomely absurd metal ballad, forcing them to all-out rock for the full hour run-time. It wears thin quickly, but in short one or two track spurts, they keep the blood pumping and your devil horns growing.




ayholev1tmbKate Russell – Give Your Love to Me

According to Australian Kate Russell herself, this is barbecue music. She’s not real popular. She’s not a soft singer either. She does sing country and it is pretty powerful, powerful enough to make your speakers pop. There are three slow songs on this album, but they still feel like, at any moment, Axl Rose is going to enter stage right and knock out the audience with Russell in a duet that will live on forever, hidden as a secret track on some anti-social kid’s internet radio blog.

It is shockingly hard to find a lot of decent information on Russell, probably due to that sciency Kate Russell from UK using her terribly generic name. But she does have a website. How about the music?

As far as I can tell she wrote all of the lyrics and probably the melodies, but it looks like some old dude at the studio did all of the instrumentation. It “looks” like it is just the one dude, but there was probably more than one.

Instrumentation is great. Clean and sharp twangy guitars, usually in flaky pie crust layers, envelope most of the tracks with a dotting of overdriven hard country rock guitar solos. Consistent back beat drumming, and I mean consistent snare every upbeat, on every track except two of the slow ones. Bass seems country enough, following the hooks and kick.

Kate Russell writes some good lyrics and tunes and one can be excited to hear her future albums as well as enjoy listening to her recent album, Give Your Love To Me.

Preview to the entire album on her website.


Willie Nelson – Summertime. Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin

One can never go wrong putting on Willie Nelson. His voice is good and smooth like a reliable old bottle of bourbon at a crumby dive bar with four regulars, two of which work the kitchen. What? You’ve never had that experience?

On this release are classics like, “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “Love is Here to Stay,” “They Can’t Take that Away from Me, and others. Duets with Cyndi Lauper and Sheryl Crow offer fuzzy surprises that make the little girl inside giddily bounce about while sipping espresso lattes.

Instrumentation is classy soft swing with standup bass and stuff.

Do you like Willie Nelson? Do you like Gershwin? Do you like music? Are you American? Give this album a shot. At least it is something to unwind to, or giddily bounce about to. You might have a favorite dance night album.


Empire State – Rocket Science

I wanted to do a full write up on this album. It unfortunately officially released in the UK in 2015, but it released in the US in 2016, rather, isn’t fully released, so I stuck it in a country trio. To be fair, it has a faint blues rock feel to it so it could fit here.

onelegsteveAll of Empire State’s earlier incarnations were slick dressed rock and roll acts.

Look at this picture of Steve!


Anyway, the music is extreme. Pulsating rhythms and hard as diamonds guitar riffs and hooks played by every instrument. Andy Morris is inspiring on vocals. Confidence drips off of every part of this album, especially the out of tune guitar in the intro to “Law of the Gun,” which I think is suffering from cheap digital delay.

Guitars are shredding over all Rocket Science in a good way. High energy rock and roll. Lyrics are anti-establishment. Some tracks sound like a ho-down.

If you need something probably no one you know has heard because it is obscure and good, get Empire State’s Rocket Science.


1382138_954353864618736_8389017653905116659_nayholev1tmbValerian – Stardust Revolution

Each nation and people group has its own power metal. Indonesia has great stuff. Stardust Revolution mixes thrash with electronic metal and a heavy dose of swollen adenoids to give it a folky feel.

Huge variety of sound here, ladies and adolescents.  An orchestral interlude fortunately adds to the atmosphere in the first track and one of my favorite intros is on “In Your Hand,” featuring AM radio sound panning into a bleeding synth lead. There is some sort of weird sub-Asian ballad for the title track with what one can presume to be one of the males in the band singing in a falsetto clear enough to make a mid 18th century Italian boy jealous.

Ridwan sings in his horrific and spine chilling screech over the whole album but it blends with the other vocals into synergy during the choruses, which feel like bar tunes or sea shanties.

Ever present is a love of modern and a keen understanding of the time tested. A good example, track six might be your new favorite A-Pop song.

One must give the whole album a listen due to the massive gamut of genres and influences visited.

It is very fun to listen to the castrato voice on track four with Ridwan, but you will have to email the band for a hard copy of this knucklebuster.

Amon Amarth – Jomsviking


junkheadv1tmbAmon Amarth – Jomsviking

Amon Amarth wages an endless crusade against everything that sucks. Constantly touring and grinding out those catchy riffs, they’re as mainstream as extreme metal gets. Albums like Versus the World and Twilight of the Thunder Gods are the apex of melodic death, with bleeding guitars of tunefully wanton destruction.

Now, after decades of sticking to their guns, the band says they’re switching things up. They’re making a concept album about vikings.


For those of you not in the loop, literally all of Amon Amarth’s songs are about vikings. Being vikings, praising vikings, killing other vikings, you name it, they’ve already wrote forty songs about it.

Then it hit me once I put Jomsviking on. Concept album is another term for taking crappy risks that won’t pay off.

Thankfully, the risks are all slight changes in vocal presentation, mostly involving random spoken monologues. “Wanderer” ends with a voice-over wrenched straight from the Grinch cartoon. The diatribe at the beginning of “Vengeance Is My Name” sounds like GWAR-style self-parody. Even worse is a much bigger change: the awful vibrato-inflected female vocals in “A Dream That Cannot Be”. This woman sounds better suited for back-up vocals on a jock jam compilation that comes with your paid six month subscription to Entertainment Weekly.

Slight vocal missteps aside, Amon Amarth remains Amon Amarth. This is their best set in almost a decade, and even though there are no stand out tracks, I still felt like I was on a grand quest to desecrate my foes’ lands, smite them all, and collect their skulls in offering to Odin. Once Amon Amarth and I pass through the gates of Asgard’s golden hall, we will drink and toast to this album, shrugging off the stupid female vocals with a laugh and boasting about all the muscular melodies.





Poliça – United Crushers

Ryan Olson and Channy Leaneagh are Poliça. Their new album, United Crushers, is a metabolizing, dense, nutrient shake of synth pop, piercing prose, and a deep space interstellar atmosphere. Olson, the mixer, does a killer job on everything he touches here, which is everything on the album. Leaneagh, presumably the lyricist and singer, elegantly weaves alliterate words in unbridled and ceaseless motion. Unfolding like a hip hop album played at half speed, the content is challenging and pointed.

The music poetically matches the lyrics so closely, one can daydream about the collaboration process. United Crushers is a fourty-three and a half minute fusillade of cinematic aural piercing shells.

To go in depth into this album is to toss a few handfuls of sand into a sieve from the Witwatersrand Basin. Much like mining with the lights out, the darkness of tone and mood is so rich and delicious, a hungry ear could subsist for months. Each and every track poses giant questions and remits action and energy as the listener is catapulted out from one quarry under earth and into the next without any notice.

Go and listen now. Soundcloud has a sample for the chickens, but this is a must have from 2016.

Micro-Reviewery 2: Wizard Girl, Accidente, Spazz, and Atrament


More stuff from the past few weeks that deserves no more than a brief paragraph.

Wizard Girl – Voodoo Jazz

This German jazz ensemble is very, very concerned with rhythm. In fact, with all the rock sounds the drums and guitars are letting off, it comes off more as a slapped-together tribute to ’70s psych-prog/Krautrock than a bonafide jazz recording. Everything goes at once, with flute and sax and guitar constantly wailing around, but they almost always play around the drums. Eventually, they settle into repeated lines, not really discernible melodies. They’re more like quick little blurps that usually either mimic the drum pattern or bookend it. One notable exception: track four is driven by some trippy reversed guitar part that recalls some pretty heavy psych.


Accidente – Pulso

Way too clean for my taste, although the female vocalist helps bring out the melodies over normie punk din. Think anything ever released by Epitaph Records if the Puffy AmiYumi chicks were singing over it in Spanish. Maybe these punks have a lot to say about politics and junk, but all I really hear is slightly above average generic pop-junk.


Spazz – Sweatin’ 3: Skatin’, Satan and Katin

Reissue of Spazz’s posthumous collection of compilation and split 7” material. It’s sad to think that Spazz’s special chapter in power violence history came to an end over fifteen years ago, but we’ll always have huge compilations with sixty plus songs to remind us how great their thrashin’s and bashin’s truly were. As usual, the playing is tight enough to be impressive and wild enough to make you mosh your living room to pieces. I’ve always been a fan of the cookie monster vocalist guy, but the other two are pretty good. While things tend to grow monotonous near the end, a couple iffy live tracks being the biggest culprits, the goofy “Gummo Love Theme” manages to save the day with fun for everyone.


Atrament – Eternal Downfall

Sucky Swedish death metal becomes listenable thanks to crust punk and black metal influences throughout. Unfortunately, Atrament can’t totally mask the Swedish death metal sound, so it’s still sucky.