While reorganizing the Metal Vault over the course of the last few years, Metal Workgroup got to chance to pick through a lot of forgotten favorites and new discoveries. The workgroup plans to continue featuring albums found in the vault over the course of the semester. Here are a few of the releases we’ve found noteworthy, written by the members of the workgroup:
Redemption – Snowfall on Judgment Day
Redemption are a power/prog metal band with no pretension. Let that sink in a second. Man’o’war: totally earnest power metal band with music about the pictures from DnD manuals. Dream Theater: so earnest about technicality that their name is a shorthand Guitar Center hell.
Even by the standard of sincerity for those groups, Redemption is honest. They have lyrics like “And in the solitude I’ve crafted for myself/I cry a single tear for beauty left unfelt.” Every song has keyboard solos that sound like a Final Fantasy game (Redemption are really a key player’s band). And it’s cool! It’s neat to listen to music that sounds like the people making it enjoyed it. Bonus, the drum performances are great! The technicality is there, but it avoids sounding like someone worshipped too long at the House of Peart.
The crispness of the production will be divisive. Snowfall has no dirt, and sometimes feels like it was engineered by a drum sequencer. If you need raw production, it’s not for you. Most of the songs drag a little; the median track length is about 6 and half minutes. The bloat comes from parts being repeated a few dozen times too many, so pace yourself. But the pearl is worth the price. Unironically liking earnest stuff is hard nowadays. Just give a track or two an honest shot.
Soilent Green – A String of Lies
Clocking in at 11 minutes and 26 seconds, this 1998 EP from grindcore mainstay Soilent Green packs a fierce punch. The band sounds tight as hell, and they have no trouble making split-second transitions from brutal, straight grind sections to slow, sludgey riffs that you can’t help but bang your head to. The vocals, split between high pitched shrieks and deep growls, are unrelenting, and their consistency ties the various changes in tempo/energy within each song together. A String of Lies sums up pretty well what I love about good grindcore: concise, no-frills songwriting, excellent musicianship and a fearless intensity which makes it a lot of fun to listen to. Favorite track: Cat With Nine Claws.
Ana Kefr – Volume One
2009 was a time of transition for new NWOAHM bands. Artists found themselves unsure how to present themselves, caught between the fading remnants of groove and metalcore, the derivative but ever-popular crush of deathcore, and the pretension of the burgenoning djent movement. The lack of a clear direction led bands to develop previously unheard-of genre-bending, for better and for worse LINK. LA’s Ana Kefr were one such band that successfully managed to cobble together seemingly disparate elements. Volume One, their 2009 debut, is technical but not ostentatious, melodic but not pandering, heavy but not contrived. Don’t let that make you think that the albumis an easy pill to swallow: it’s all over the place, sliding back and forth between gritty Animosity-esque breakdowns, baroque riffs & vocals that reek of Nekrogoblikon, and keyboards that wouldn’t be out of place on an Ovid’s Withering album. Unconventional and underproduced, Volume One might not appeal to all, but its unique blend of stylistic elements will undoubtedly resonate with those who do take the time to delve into the album.
Samael – Solar Soul
Samael are a Swiss black/industrial metal group. While on our dangerous excavation into the vault we stumbled across their album Solar Soul. As the genre would suggest, Samael combine elements of black and industrial metal. The instrumentals are slow but heavy, combining guitars and drums with elements of middle eastern music (such as the oud). The vocals are smooth and honeyed with just a few bees left in to pack a sting.
Did you know that the WOBC station houses thousands of vinyl records? 12″ and 7″, 33 and 45, pressed in 2014 and 1964, pop and rock and jazz and folk and R&B and classical and punk, world famous and unimaginably obscure. Every week, vinyl workgroup convenes to search through the depths of the WOBC vinyl vault and find some hidden gems you otherwise would never discover. Here’s a recent sampling of the best we’ve found.
Luther Allison: “The Little Red Rooster” from Bad News is Coming (1973). Arkansan blues guitarist – began by playing with Howlin’ Wolf and Freddie King in the late 50s, eventually found himself as one of the few blues artists signed to Motown in the early 70s, when he recorded his album.
Every week, vinyl workgroup dives into the deepest depths of the labyrinthine world of WOBC’s vinyl vault. The collection, stretching back to the 60s, is of a rare kind – it doesn’t just have the hits and the classics, it has the albums singles companies wanted to be hits, the double albums they wanted to be classics, the strange compilations, the complete musical failures that quickly went into obscurity, the undiscovered gems that never saw much light. Here are some particular interesting ones we picked out – and DJs, if you want to play these on your show, you can find them on the “best of vinyl” shelf in the public affairs room.
“Daydreamers” by Nelories, off of Daisy (1994, Sugarfrost) | Japanese alt-indie-ACCORDION-pop duo from the 90s. Weren’t expecting that part, were you.
“Elephant Stone (7″ Single Version)” by the Stone Roses (1988, Silvertone) | An acid indie rock jam.
“Holotelani” by Nelcy Sedibe off of The Indestructible Beat of Soweto (1985, Shanachie Records) | An important compilation from the 80s of a wide variety of South African artists – never disappoints!
Soul to Soul (1971, Atlantic) | Soundtrack from a film of a 1971 concert in Ghana of American soul, R&B, and rock musicians – Wilson Pickett, Ike & Tina Turner, Santana, Roberta Flack, The Staples Singers and more.
Not a clear win by any means, but The Durutti Column‘s original version is flawless. The intro seems to drag on forever, but it totally works. Sort of goes by the idea of just enough, no more + no less; sparse strings, sparse vocals + the overall being deserted on your honeymoon in a cabana vibe. Compare this to Espers‘s take — the wind pipe or whatever… very nice. Psychedelic, airy, but a bit too “emotional”. I prefer the original — super melancholic but not too burnt about it. That said, the wooden chimes at the end are pretty cool too.
The single ‘Loose Fit’ from the Happy Mondays came out in 1990. Off of the label Elektra Records, the acid house band combines influences of funk, house, and dancehall hits. Check ‘em out in the WOBC vault!