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Album Review

Naglfar – ‘Cerecloth’ [Album Review]

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And just like that, Naglfar is back. It’s been eight long years since the Swedish powerhouse graced us with Téras, their last selection of melodic death-infused black metal, and even though this latest record for Century Media, Cerecloth, picks up right where the last left off, it is probably not what you were expecting.

The historical image of Naglfar peaks for many fans with 2007’s Harvest, one of the most engaging and cerebral releases melodic black metal has seen. As a result, Téras was greeted with mixed reviews: its heavier, rawer approach made it a much less comfortable listen, but as has so often been said, ‘art should disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed.’ This new record is, therefore, going to upset even more old-timers yearning for the glory days of yesteryear, as it goes about its business of disturbing and comforting in an even heavier, less compromising fashion. From the opening strains of the title track, past the painfully aptly named “Vortex of Negativity” through to the slower burn of “Necronaut,” Cerecloth redefines the overused (but nevertheless still highly appropriate) term of ‘brutal’ in its blistering, destructive and misanthropic assault.

The first single, “Cerecloth” sums up the album convincingly, with frighteningly harsh metal assaults on one hand, and convincingly eerie atmospheres evoked on the other.

While the lead guitar melodies still embellish the punishing rhythms, this nostalgic aural signature plays a far less central role than it did on Sheol (2003) or Pariah (2005); instead, the message of “the usual death and destruction” (as described by guitarist Andreas Nilsson) is delivered with blunt force trauma, each hammer blow painting a picture of anger, nihilism, despair and darkness in shades of arterial spray. Once again, this visual description is aptly echoed in descriptive title names like “A Sanguine Tide Unleashed.”

What becomes very clear upon repeated listening, however, is that Cerecloth is not just about making a heavy, furious first impression: this is not a simple, single-use, disposable album by any means. The complex arrangements, clever pacing and shifting dynamics become more pronounced with time, leading to the conclusion that it may be Naglfar’s hardest-hitting record, but it is also their most carefully crafted to date.

Consequently, and to use terms younger readers might better understand, Cerecloth brings all the metals to the yard and still hits you in the feels. The emotional value of the album is its greatest achievement, dragging you kicking and screaming through malevolent hatred (“Like Poison for the Soul”), ineffectual despair (“Cry of the Seraphim”) all the way to upliftment and even relief. The closing passages of “Last breath of Ygdrassil” are not only a poignantly beautiful end to the album, but they’re also a cathartic, gentle end to the proceedings.

Some typically Swedish riffing receives the Naglfar treatment on “Vortex of Negativity,” resulting in a dissonant, unsettling and downright delightful specimen of black metal.

In retrospect, Cerecloth is not just a new chapter for Naglfar, but an artistic evolution and a wake-up call to the genre: black metal is littered with so many divergent projects and sub-genres that it becomes all too easy to get lost in the detritus and forget what it really represents, or from where it all came. You can label this as ‘trve’ or ‘cvlt,’ but it really just comes down to being authentic: letting your musical output speak for itself and be judged accordingly, not based on its social media profile, theatrical makeup or controversial opinion. And that’s exactly what Naglfar has done with Cerecloth: taken the time to reflect on their artistic output, craft the best music they can and stay true to themselves in the process.

Cerecloth Track Listing:

1. Cerecloth
2. Horns
3. Like Poison for the Soul
4. Vortex of Negativity
5. Cry of the seraphim
6. The Dagger in Creation
7. A Sanguine Tide Unleashed
8. Necronaut
9. Last breath of Yggdrasil

Runtime: 43:41
Release Date: May 8, 2020
Record Label: Century Media

This is Dayv. He writes stuff and makes being an aging goth cool again. Actually, nobody can do the latter, so let's just stick to him writing stuff. Predominantly about black metal, tattoos and other essential cultural necessities. He also makes pretty pictures, but that's just to pay the bills.

Album Review

Gianfranco Pescetti – ‘DAYSTAR NOCTURNAL’ [Album Review]

Gianfranco Pescetti delivers a series of ambient/dance bangers, coalescing a nexus of complexity and intoxicating extracts on ‘DAYSTAR NOCTURNAL.’

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Gianfranco Pescetti ‘DAYSTAR NOCTURNAL’ album artwork
Gianfranco Pescetti ‘DAYSTAR NOCTURNAL’ album artwork

Composer and producer Gianfranco Pescetti recently unveiled his latest album, DAYSTAR NOCTURNAL, his first new album in almost a decade.

Speaking about the album, Pescetti says, “DAYSTAR NOCTURNAL is my attempt to explore the depth of emotions and create a profoundly personal and evocative sound without conforming to the rigid specifications of a particular genre, all while keeping an eye to the dance floor.”

Originally from the Tuscan Island of Capraia, he previously lived in France for a few years before moving to the United States to continue his music career. He currently lives on the Hawaiian Island of Maui.

Influenced by an eclectic range of music, including modern chillwave, Depeche Mode, and The Cure, Pescetti’s sound incorporates instrumental atmospheric electronica with dance vibes and elements of modern indie rock.

Comprising ten tracks, DAYSTAR NOCTURNAL starts with “Clownspunk.” Flickering tones shape a rising intro that evolves into a shimmering, ambient-flavored dance melody. As the melody progresses, a psychedelic-lite dance vivacity slowly takes over, pushing the ambient surfaces into the background.

High points include the changing emotional sensations of “Obsidian,” which utilizes amiable layers of shifting colors riding a galloping rhythm to fashion a warm, sparkling melody punctuated by glistening, chiming textures.

Gianfranco Pescetti, photo courtesy of Gianfranco Pescetti

Gianfranco Pescetti, photo courtesy of Gianfranco Pescetti

Sundog” places darker rhythmic pulses against the illumination of drifting, humming, twinkling blushes, thus giving the melody a lingering, hypnotic intensity, at once exotic and full of lavish refinement. “Be My Ghost” swings away from the ambient and pushes into the more muscular momentum of EDM, employing a driving kick drum and elusive tints of disco.

Capraia,” a blend of industrial and heavy, atmospheric dance components, molds a mechanistic mood, simultaneously shadowy and foreboding. “The Wake,” eerily haunting on one level, pours like a waterfall on another level, giving the tune dual interpretations: either a progressive lament or a celebration of natural beauty.

The album concludes with “Stopless,” traveling on a propelling rhythm topped by intertwining layers of scintillating, aerated percolations, heady with impetuousness. For some reason, the melody conjures up the impression of EDM gingered with hints of Ennio Morricone-like Spaghetti Western.

Gianfranco Pescetti delivers a series of ambient/dance bangers, coalescing a nexus of complexity and intoxicating extracts.

DAYSTAR NOCTURNAL Track Listing:

1. Clownspunk
2. Macchia, I’ll See You…
3. Obsidian
4. Sundog
5. Nostalgia Aime Le Rouge
6. Be My Ghost
7. Capraia
8. The Wake
9. Fogbound
10. Stopless

Run Time: 35:47
Release Date: January 25, 2024
Record Label: Independent

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Album Review

Wabi Sabi – ‘The Love Insane’ [Album Review]

‘The Love Insane’ displays the psychedelic jazz band persona of Wabi Sabi and their talent shifting from genre to genre with aplomb.

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Wabi Sabi ‘The Love Insane’ album artwork
Wabi Sabi ‘The Love Insane’ album artwork

About seven months ago, Atlanta-based ensemble Wabi Sabi released their fourth album, The Love Insane, a record that not only flew under the radar but was also impacted by the pandemic, resulting in it being self-produced.

Pianist/vocalist Damien Cartier explains, “This is the first of our albums that I have produced myself. We have never done an album this way, but Covid mixed with having a spare bedroom home studio seemed like the perfect time to try.”

The genesis of Wabi Sabi occurred in 1999. Initially comprising piano, trombone, and drums, the band’s name was Damien Cartier And His My Newt Orchestra. Before long, the band added horns, bass, guitars, percussion, and singers. However, there was a problem: the band’s name, the spelling of which stymied people.

Then Damian saw an episode of King Of The Hill where Bobby discovered the concept of Wabi Sabi, a Japanese aesthetic that perceives beauty in imperfection and transience. Enter the band Wabi Sabi, whose unique sound amalgamates elements of soul, funk, reggae, and pop with tangs of jazz.

The Love Insane begins with “The Truth,” opening on a soft, low piano topped by tender vocals, mirroring pensive tones. The melody blends savors of rock and jazz, forming a dreamy, almost psychedelic flow of floating textures.

Highlights on the album include the title track, conjuring up the swaying soul surfaces of the ’60s, tinted with twangy, country-laced guitars. Cartier’s vocals are spot-on and convey touching, quixotic aromas.

New Life,” a personal favorite, evinces suggestions of Steely Dan because of its deliciously trippy-lite surfaces and grand brass accents that bray forth finessed tones. The funky “Not Yet, Sister,” with its hints of reggae, features bright horns, skiffing guitars, and a neighing organ.

The album finishes with “The Weirdo Blues,” a luscious fusion of bluesy jazz and orchestral flavors. There’s a delightful, sleazy sensation to the tune, imbuing the song with benevolent craziness.

The Love Insane displays the psychedelic jazz band persona of Wabi Sabi and their talent shifting from genre to genre with aplomb.

Wabi Sabi, photo courtesy of Wabi Sabi

Wabi Sabi, photo courtesy of Wabi Sabi

The Love Insane Track Listing:

1. The Truth
2. I Am OK
3. Manifest
4. The Love Insane
5. New Life
6. Not Yet, Sister
7. Sick Tuna
8. The Fall
9. Please Rescue Me
10. Spacetime
11. The Weirdo Blues

Run Time: 48:18
Release Date: July 28, 2023
Record Label: Independent

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Album Review

Spike Polite & Sewage – ‘Punk Not Dead’ [EP] [Album Review]

Seething with primal momentum and frenzied, punchy surfaces, Spike Polite & Sewage’s ‘Punk Not Dead’ projects an intensity of defiance and insurrection.

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Spike Polite & Sewage ‘Punk Not Dead’ [EP] album artwork
Spike Polite & Sewage ‘Punk Not Dead’ [EP] album artwork

Punk Not Dead, the latest EP from Spike Polite & Sewage, is an insolent, provocative social satire, a response to the clueless decline of Western civilization, à la Oswald Spengler. Unrestrained, the EP was produced by Ted Sabety.

Made up of Spike Polite, aka Reagan Youth and Cheetah Chrome, on vocals, Michelle Shocked (bass, vocals), Antony Romero (guitar), and Beast (drums), Punk Not Dead follows on the band’s 2021 EP, PANDEMONIUM.

Comprising three tracks, Punk Not Dead opens with “What Happened to the Punk Rock,” rolling out in buzzsaw guitars riding tight, raw percussion. A single voice segues into gang-like vocals, imbuing the lyrics with enflamed indignation. This is old-school, fulminating punk rock.

Twitter is a Death Machine” delivers a short, vicious commentary on the malicious ramifications of social media platforms, specifically Twitter, now known as X. Traveling on a fast, chunky rhythm, the harmonics slice the atmosphere with edgy guitars.

Snarling, grinding guitars give the intro to the title track chaotic textures as sneering vocals infuse the lyrics with ferocious energy highlighted by ringing percussion. The outro reveals the spoken word vocals of Spike and Michelle announcing that “punk is not dead.”

Seething with primal momentum and frenzied, punchy surfaces, Punk Not Dead projects an intensity of defiance and insurrection.

Spike Polite & Sewage, photo courtesy of artists

Spike Polite & Sewage, photo courtesy of artists

Punk Not Dead Track Listing:

1. What Happened to the Punk Rock
2. Twitter is a Death Machine
3. Punk not Dead

Run Time: 3:24
Release Date: January 15, 2024
Record Label: Solid Bass Records

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