Album Reviews

You’d be forgiven for mistaking industrial shock rocker Justin Symbol’s new album V Ω I D H E A D from another, much more prominent industrial shock rocker. Indeed, Symbol’s sound and lyricism (“I see in color and the color is black/The black reflection of society”) more than vaguely recall Manson’s gothic-electro stylings and cultural topicality.

Everyone has a handful of albums that will stick with them for the majority of their lives. Those select albums that changed what style of music they listened to, influenced some kind of change in their life or is simply their favorite album.

The list below comprises my list of albums that changed my life in some kind of way-my 5 most influential albums:

plowing the field of love coverIceage are a Danish post-punk band hailing from Copenhagen.  So far into their career, they’ve made a couple of my favorite punk records of the past decade for both 2011 and 2013, and have returned again with their most ambitious and challenging album to date entitled Plowing Into the Field of Love.

While there is no clear-cut narrative, this record is a grimy, dismal sonic trip full of gloom and fury that follows the perspective of a man and his moral descent due to his own vices.  Iceage paints this picture vividly and effectively, backing it up with harsh yet beautiful instrumentation that incorporates an entirely new sound for the band including strings, horns and even more piano.  Lead vocalist Elias Rønnenfelt brings this character to reality, giving his inflection a drunken slur along with the occasional strained shout that sounds as if the character fights the exhaustion that could remove him from whatever agony or euphoria he might be experiencing.

The album opens with “On My Fingers”, showcasing the band using more lavish instrumentation than their debut and instead writing songs that sound closer to the “softer” moments of their second album.  The dissonant, sliding guitar adds power to the sinister lyrics of our protagonist.  The standout track, though, is “The Lord’s Favorite”, where the band makes takes the sounds of country and rockabilly and twists them to something both fun but heavy in tone.

Other songs like “Abundant Living”, akin to a riotous bar room jam with the notes of the song warping to further emphasize the intoxicated nature of the protagonist.  Iceage does a great job giving the instrumentation character to add some immersion, such as the track “Stay”, where the tempo becomes rapid and the strings sharply played to better present the train of thought of the narrator.

Everything feels purposeful without losing the kind of energy that might’ve been lost if too meticulously put together.  The band can occasionally be almost too chaotic, such as with the song “Cimmerian Shade”, but there really are few flaws with any of the songs and how they fit together.  Fans of the band will likely be surprised and appreciate the change in sound since it keeps everything that made the band so interesting to begin with, while new listeners might find this album to be the most accessible of their discography.  Overall, I’d say it’s a success for the band and may be the best they’ve done yet.  Definitely check it out!

Plowing Into the Field of Love releases Thursday, October 9th, 2014 under Matador Records.

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downloadCalifornia indie band, From Indian Lakes released their long awaited 3rd full-length album, Absent Sounds on October 7th. The new album is one of the most beautiful albums released in the last 5 years.

Absent Sounds deals with themes of death. Now this may sound extremely unpleasant and uncomfortable to listen to but that is not the case. The lyrical content on this album is right on par with everything From Indian Lakes have released so far. Every line is written with precision, delicacy and beautiful intricacy. Every word and line is put together for a purpose. The theme of death is so beautifully written about that nothing is uncomfortable about the subject.