EMV JOURNAL #4 – THE BOTTOM END OF THE CATHARSIS

Honestly, I had a problems in mustering up the will to listen to “Catharsis”, that’s the latest Machine Head album, if you’ve been away from your daily life of late. The hype has surpassed constructive levels of observations. The resentment towards this album, Robb Flynn’s ritual of purification, is strong and ongoing, so it felt like a challenge to go into this record with an unaffected stance. The either bold or dreadful “Bastards” single didn’t help matters.

But… if you care about music, and if you have some manners, then you’ll make the effort to listen to the album and form a straight-up opinion of your own, instead of just hashing out “this record is one big, lukewarm and ill-shaped turd!” after hearing three songs. So I sat down, undisturbed and listened, paid attention. 15 tracks and nearly 80 minutes later (what???), I sat there less than impressed. Then I listened to “Halo”, “Wolves” after that, then “Davidian” and “Ten Ton Hammer”, and finally “Darkness Within” shuffling… and after a moment of reflection I felt confused, disappointed and overjoyed altogether.

“Catharsis” will undoubtedly secure enough publicity and ultimately add continued relevance, Machine Head will still be a talking point, but their music anno 2018 is vastly different than their recent golden years. This isn’t even remotely aggressive in my ears, Rob doesn’t sound angry, he sounds tired and  dull, and the sound production is super trivial but hey, maybe the social/political commentary that’s running through the album will make up for it! The title track is the only thing that’s spacious and interesting, even though the idea of Machine Head doing some pseudo goth, symphonic, electro metal sounds completely bizarre. I know I was to lower my expectation, the band told me so, but come on…


A much talked about band that’s productive while preserving underground ethics is Finland’s Hooded Menace. The band formed in 2007, a decade later through countless splits, several EP’s and full-lengths, marked by revered labels like Profound Lore, Relapse Records and now Season Of Mist, the band is making good progress in marching downhill to the lowest point of gloomy glorification, I’ll even risk using words like “hopefuls” or “sensations”.

I’ve much praise for the Finns’ latest album, bearing the eerie title “Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed”. My fondness of this band started with the release of “Darkness Drips Forth” from 2015, which had four quality, extensive tracks of classic Peaceville doom/death metal ala Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride. The new album has shorter tracks but thankfully haven’t lost any of the sublime woeful atmospheres, furnished with delightful horror inspired lyrics. It’s hugely satisfactory to bathe the ears with these crushing riffs, dreamlike melodies, wretched growls and most importantly of all, songwriting equilibrium, it doesn’t happen too often in this genre. A well rounded album, if one can look past “Black Moss”, a rather pointless outro that just seems thrown in by mistake.

This stuff cheers me up. Not in the way that I get “happy” as in “yey, life’s beautiful, let’s make a circle”, but there’s this feeling of reassurance in knowing that there are still bands executing this style with great aplomb! God knows there’s enough stoner doom out there getting all the approval! Doom/death fiends should definitely find plenty of worth in this album!


Well well well! It seems that Dimmu Borgir are active again and will release what they deem “their best album” in May… but how does the rest of the world feel? Do we even need another album from this band? Are they relevant? Have to admit, my interest is rather half-hearted… But I have started spinning some of their nineties material.

 

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