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Melvins, Napalm Death & Melt Banana – The Opera House, Toronto – April 19th, 2016

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Review and Photos by Mike Bax

The Savage Imperial Death March Tour!! Delivered at a volume loud enough that I might have been able to stay at home in Kitchener, an hour away, and STILL heard this trifecta of heavy. My ears are still recovering from the aural pummeling they took last night.

It’s not often you get to a show and see dumbfounded scalpers who outright missed the boat, but this long ago sold-out evening was one of them. Fans were begging for tickets outside the venue and none of the re-sellers had anything to offer.

If you got in the door early enough and witnessed Tokyo, Japan two-piece band Melt Banana, you got to see something pretty unique. That was the vibe I felt in the room as the band performed at breakneck speed. I heard as many people raving about them as I heard proclamations of “I don’t get it.”

For the record, I quite enjoyed them. Yasuko Onuki wielded an LED console twice the size of a Playstation joy-stick and howled at the top of her lungs as Ichirou Agata blasted out breakneck guitar riffs intermixed with interesting peddle effects. I think Atari Teenage Riot performed at twice the speed. I couldn’t tell you a single song they played but it was impressive to watch. Loved the six über short songs they played all in a row, all totalling just over a minute together.

At 8:45, Melvins took the stage and performed an all too short hour of material that left the Toronto audience stunned by the time it was over. Joined onstage by Napalm Death bassist Shane Embury for the set ender ’Night Goat’, Buzz Osborne, Dale Crover and Steven McDonald delivered an assortment of old and new material, along with a killer cover of ‘Deuce’ by Kiss before walking off the stage. For my money, there are few things in life better than watching Osborne and Crover work. Melvins are one of the only bands in the world that can play ANYTHING they want live and I’ll still leave the venue smiling. Pure talent, they are. And Osborne’s eyeball-covered blue and yellow-gold mumu rocked!!

By the time Napalm Death took the stage at 10pm, the venue was utterly wedged. At well past the three-decade marker in their career, Napalm Death need little by way of introduction. They are hands down one of the quintessential grind-core bands in the world, and the Toronto crowd in the room knew it. They were rowdy, energetic, crass and bloody loud. The cherry on top of an illustrious night was the Dead Kennedy’s cover of ‘Nazi Punks Fuck Off’ shortly before Napalm Death wrapped up their set.

Melvins:
Eye Flys
Deuce (KISS cover)
Queen
The Kicking Machine
National Hamster
Magic Pig Detective
Leech (Green River cover)
Sesame Street Meat
The Water Glass
Onions Make the Milk Taste Bad
The Bloated Pope (Melvins & Lustmord cover)
A Growing Disgust
The Decay of Lying
Revolve
Night Goat (with Shane Embury)

Napalm Death:
Apex Predator – Easy Meat
Smash a Single Digit
Everyday Pox
Silence Is Deafening
Plague Rages
Mentally Murdered
Scum
You Suffer
Conform (Siege cover)
Greed Killing
How the Years Condemn
Taste the Poison
Cesspits
Nazi Punks Fuck Off (Dead Kennedys cover)
Suffer the Children
Adversarial/Copulating Snakes

(weigh-in on the setlists if I’m wrong. Melvins went off setlist for ‘Night Goat’, and I’m guessing at a few of the Napalm Death songs)

www.napalmdeath.org
twitter.com/officialND
www.facebook.com/officialnapalmdeath
themelvins.net/
twitter.com/melvinsdotcom
www.facebook.com/melvinsarmy
www.melt-banana.net
twitter.com/melt_banana
www.facebook.com/Melt-Banana

 

Album Review

The Eighty Six Seas – ‘Scenes from an Art Heist’ [Album Review]

Overall, this album does exactly what it sets out to do in encapsulating a fictionalized version of a famous art heist. Well done, The Eighty Six Seas!

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The Eighty Six Seas ‘Scenes from an Art Heist’ album artwork
The Eighty Six Seas ‘Scenes from an Art Heist’ album artwork

On February 23, 2024, The Eighty Six Seas released their first 11-track full-length album, Scenes from an Art Heist. Each track on this album is meant to represent a fictionalized story of the paintings stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990.

The first track sets out an eerie aura that aligns with the track’s title, a dedication to Isabella Stewart Gardner. The next song is a quick switch up from the first, with flighty strings and a whispered voice from lead singer Nick Stevens.

Moving on to track number three, “Coffee and Art,” you’ll hear a faster-paced, nearly techno piece that feels like caffeine hitting your bloodstream for the first time in the morning. Their next song, “Jenny,” is a piano-led ballad spotlighting Steven’s melancholy voice. With “Lonely Afternoon,” the track transforms back into the techno feel of “Coffee and Art,” but with a darker twist.

The next song, “Cat/Mouse,” sounds exactly as you’d expect—like a tense cat-and-mouse standoff, with the music accenting this push-and-pull dynamic. “Hey Little Bird” is more or less an instrumental, with occasional lyrics included, but it is clearly meant to be the interlude.

Moving on, we arrive at a track called “The Day I Die,” a techno piece with a fabulous crescendo after its quiet beginnings. Following that, “The Eighty Six Seas” provides its track, “Portrait of a Smuggler,” which quite literally encapsulates the feeling you have while walking through a park on a sunny day.

Next, we come to “Ghost in the Cityscape,” which has darker undertones, a sorrowful cello, and a slower tempo. The final piece is titled “Frames,” which will remind you of a love letter saying goodbye or a beautiful lullaby. Overall, this album does exactly what it sets out to do in encapsulating a fictionalized version of a famous art heist. Well done, The Eighty Six Seas.

Scenes from an Art Heist Track Listing:

1. For Isabella, March 1990
2. Scenes from an Art Heist
3. Coffee and Art
4. Jenny
5. Lonely Afternoon
6. Cat / Mouse
7. Hey Little Bird
8. The Day I Die
9. Portrait of a Smuggler
10. Ghost in the Cityscape
11. Frames

Run Time:
Release Date: February 23, 2024
Record Label: Independent

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Alternative/Rock

Glixen – “foreversoon” [Song Review]

On “foreversoon,” Glixen created a song where youthful exuberance clashes heavenly with the established shoegaze sounds of yesteryear,

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Glixen “foreversoon” single artwork
Glixen “foreversoon” single artwork

It’s been less than a year since Glixen released their debut EP, She Only Said, on Julia’s War Records. Still, the Phoenix shoegazers have already dug their heels into the DIY music scene and are heading out on an extensive US tour this year alongside the likes of Interpol, Softcult, Glitterer, and fish narc. Appearances at SXSW and Treefort will only further cement their reputation as a new band worthy of note.

To herald the busy year ahead, the band has released a new single, “foreversoon,” via the AWAL label, and it’s well worth a listen.

Says lead vocalist Aislinn Ritchie:

“‘foreversoon’ represents blissful moments of new love and intimacy. The song harnesses melancholy chords, layered with fuzzy red melodies and gliding guitars that pull you in deeper. I wanted my lyrics to feel like a conversation that expresses my infatuation and sensuality. Time is relentless and memories are fleeting, this song encapsulates those emotions forever.”

It’s a fair summation. Its youthful exuberance clashes heavenly with the established shoegaze sounds of yesteryear, think Ride, Curve and Slowdive, but with the fuzz cranked up possibly higher. Ritchie’s vocals certainly share that dreamlike quality of Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell, and with many of those bands back on the road this year, perhaps the time is ripe to inject fresh blood into the genre.

Glixen, photo by Jesse Beecher

Glixen, photo by Jesse Beecher

Run Time: 3:43
Release Date: February 9, 2024
Record Label: AWAL Recordings

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Album Review

Blind Channel – ‘Exit Emotions’ [Album Review]

While ‘Exit Emotions’ (Century Media Records) contains many of the tropes from the golden age of nu-metal, it still feels refreshing. Blind Channel continue to move from strength to strength.

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Blind Channel ‘Exit Emotions’ album artwork
Blind Channel ‘Exit Emotions’ album artwork

Cast your minds back to 2021; it was a dark time for humanity, with the entirety of the world still gripped by the COVID-19 pandemic, countries going in and out of lockdowns, and the entertainment industry being brought to its knees. Yet, in the midst of all of this, mankind fought on, with some events managing to take place. One of these was Eurovision, which has delivered, over the years, some incredible winners and given lesser-known artists global recognition. 2021 saw Måneskin take the crown, but on their heels was Finland’s own Blind Channel in sixth place with their song “Dark Side.”

The Finnish nu-metalers already had a handful of records to their name but it was Lifestyles of the Sick and Dangerous that contained their aforementioned Eurovision entry and made the world really sit up and take notice. With its mix of metal, hip-hop, synth and a touch of glam, it was a breath of fresh air from the European region better known for its output of, let’s say, the (much) heavier side of metal.

With Exit Emotions, Blind Channel now have their eyes focused on bigger things. Whilst they have broken through to the mainstream beyond their borders, it’s not enough for the six-piece, as they explore what it means to truly be on the global stage.

Exit Emotions kicks in hard with “Where’s the Exit,” with its distorted nu-metal beat laced with some techno elements followed swiftly by distorted vocals mixing rap and metal styles seamlessly. Dual vocalists Joel Hokka and Niko Moilanen bounce off each other in a symbiotic way, indicating how in tune with each other these guys can be. “Where’s the Exit” feels like it throws everything the band can portray at the wall from their varying influences, and while, on paper, a mix of metal, rock, hip hop, techno, and synth, if difficult to get right, Blind Channel nail it with absolute precision. Several songs on this record follow this formula, like “Deadzone,” “Wolves of California,” and “XOXO” (amongst others), and if the entirety of the record kept to this, whilst fun to listen to, it would run the risk of becoming samey. Thankfully, Blind Channel does mix things up throughout.

Blind Channel, photo by Christian Ripkens

Blind Channel, photo by Christian Ripkens

Keeping it Surreal” maintains a relatively heavy approach but dials it back a tad to give the hip-hop elements more of a chance to shine and deliver a more emotional element with the band, highlighting the surrealness of their current position. This is followed by the extra-emotional “Die Another Day.” The tune opens with a piano melody and slows the entire pace of the record, and moves into ballad territory. Hokka and Moilanen are accompanied by RØRY, ensuring the sensitive lyrics portrayed are emphasized to the max. Despite the relative negativity of the lyrics, the trio somehow makes this extra melancholy tune drive forward positive feelings.

Exit Emotions is a great follow-up to Lifestyles of the Sick and Dangerous, and although it contains many of the tried and tested tropes of what was delivered in the golden age of nu-metal, it still feels refreshing. The band has gone from strength to strength since their respectable placement at 2021’s Eurovision, which demonstrates they have lots more to offer than just their hit song “Dark Side.”

Read our interview with Joel Hokka and Niko Moilanen at last year’s Download 20.

Exit Emotions Track Listing:

1. Where’s the Exit
2. Deadzone
W3. olves of California
4. XOXO
5. Keeping it Surreal
6. Die Another Day
7. Phobia
8. Happy Doomsday
9. Red Tail Lights
10. Not You Bro
11. Flatline
12. One Last Time… Again

Run Time: 35:15
Release Date: March 1, 2024
Record Label: Century Media Records

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