This Month’s Mini Reviews – Jan ’18

This Month’s Mini Reviews – Jan ’18

Feb 18


Mini Metal Reviews for Jan ’18


Yeah, I’m two week’s late with this, but better late than never, right? Here’s some of my random picks from last month that stuck out to me; remember, this isn’t a ‘top picks’ for the month or anything, just some releases that might have flown under some of your radars.


Somali Yacht Club – The Sea

This Ukrainian shoegaze group first came to my attention as a random Bandcamp find for their last album, 2014’s The Sun. Their new album is a great successor with six very chilled-out tracks of spacey psych rock and stoner sensibilities. All the tracks on the album are given plenty of room to explore (from 6 to 12 min), which is what this type of loosely-structured music needs. There is a strong jam-room vibe as the progressions feel very free and at times improvisational, and soaked in the ever-present ambiance of stoner psychedelia. If you need to take a break and chill out to some very chill (but still very engaging) music, this is a strong release from a talented band.


Walking Papers – WP2

Straight-up pure rock ‘n roll is getting rarer by the day, but there’s still some quality bands out there holding it down and keeping the attitude alive without anchoring themselves in the past. Walking Papers, a strongly credentialed group consisting of Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees, Mad Season, Mark Lanegan), Duff McKagan (Guns n Roses, Velvet Revolver), and Jeff Angell and Benjamin Anderson (both of The Missionary Position) has a strong swagger and a stronger bite. Their brand of rock is gritty and has the type of raucous attitude that lends itself better to fights than parties. There’s thankfully no pretension here, just a couple guys who’ve been around the block a few times, some riffs, and a good rhythm. If you were a fan of the first one, the simply-titled WP2 will meet your expectations and probably exceed them; it’s a solid album with really no filler and sees the band finding their groove with great results. I like my rock the same way I like my whiskey sours: sour and full of whiskey, which is exactly what this music sounds like, so bottoms up.


Spectral Lore/Jute Gyte – Helian

If you’re familiar with I, Voidhangar releases you’ll know that both of the aural entities featured on this release exemplify the avant garde label’s pursuit of fringe exploration in extreme music. The label has had some great output recently and this two song split between Spectral Lore and Jute Gyte take listeners on a cerebral journey that is as interesting as it is uncomfortable. Their respective styles might not generally be a natural fit, but when tackling the same subject for a co-release (the titular poem by early twentieth century writer Georg Trakl) Spectral Lore’s minimalist death-dirge blends perfectly with Jute Gyte’s eccentric brand of audio alchemy. Helian is weird, harsh, and oddly captivating throughout each twenty-plus minute track contributed by this pair of extreme explorers, so if you’re looking for something far from the center of convention this is a must-listen.



Substratum – Permission to Rock

As one of the premier Pacific Northwest purveyors of traditional metal, Seattle’s Substratum are one band that certainly doesn’t need any permission to rock. However, they’re more than willing to give that permission to anyone willing to hoist a can of Rainier beer (or sword) to the sky and bang their head. The band takes its cues and, most importantly, its attitude from the early days of metal as it was in its rebellious innocence; Priest, Accept, and Cirith Ungol. This second full-length is packed with the high-energy leather ‘n chains metal that have made them one to watch for in the scene. The music is equal parts rowdy and epic, capable of causing moshes or raised fists at any moment. It’s great to have bands like these guys and gal defending the faith and keeping the old ways alive, especially when they sound like a perfect house band for the Thunderdome.


Ché Aimee Dorval – Between the Walls & the Window

This is technically a December release, but last month was all about end-year lists, so I’m doing some catch-up work. And sure, Ché Aimee is almost literally as far away from a ‘metal’ artist as one can get, but in my book anyone who makes an entire album with the great Devin Townsend gets an honorary card. Plus, her new solo effort is a great album. Between the Walls…makes for an excellent follow-up to her Vol 1 EP from 2014, featuring her soulful crooning over laid-back songs flavored with folk and country. It also goes a bit further in terms of writing and performance as well; she sounds very confident and explores quite a bit out of the former album’s bounds. Ché Aimee Dorval is an enormously talented singer-songwriter and has really come into her own with her new album. If you need something to break the pace from all the death metal in your day, this soulful and emotional slice of indie folk is just what you need.


Primal Rite – Dirge of Escapism

If sludgy hardcore bands going full stoner, prog, or thrash bums you out because you’d rather keeps things straight-forward, angry, and violent then Primal Rite has you fully covered. Sounding like a pre Nightmare Logic Power Trip, this bay area group dishes out a heavy-handed dose of hardcore with plenty of old school death metal love to go around. Mid-tempo stompers make up the majority of Dirge of Escapism, delivered with plenty of heft and swagger, but when things get going the band has no trouble trading hammer for chainsaw as they kick it into high-gear. The album slams from front to back and it’s not only the heaviest entry in January’s list, it’s one of the heaviest releases in January period.