Tuesday, November 6, 2018

AC/DC, how do the two eras of the band stack up against one another?

Brian Johnson (left) and Bon Scott (right).
I know this is mainly a stoner rock page, but every now and then I like to write about something else rock and roll related and today and I'm rating the two eras of the rock group AC/DC, and comparing what I think are the band's best 25 songs from each era of the group, Bon Scott's era fronting the band and since Brian Johnson took over vocal duties, screw Axl and his 15 minutes of fame, especially considering he didn't record with the band, thank god!

So, let's begin.

Bon Scott - Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, 1976)
Brian Johnson - Thunderstruck (The Razor's Edge, 1990)

Bon Scott - Touch Too Much (Highway to Hell, 1979)
Brian Johnson - Cover You in Oil (Ballbreaker, 1995)

Bon Scott - Big Balls (Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, 1976)
Brian Johnson - Rock N Roll Train (Black Ice, 2008)

Bon Scott - The Jack (High Voltage, 1976)
Brian Johnson - Rock Your Heart Out (The Razor's Edge, 1990)
Bon Scott - T.N.T. (High Voltage, 1976)*
Brian Johnson - Danger (Fly On The Wall, 1985)

Bon Scott - Rocker (Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, 1976)
Brian Johnson - Rock And Roll Ain't Noise Pollution (Back In Black, 1980)

Bon Scott - Jailbreak (74' Jailbreak, 1984)
Brain Johnson - Are You Ready (The Razor's Edge, 1990)

Bon Scott - Girl's Got Rhythm (Highway to Hell, 1979)
Brian Johnson - Play Ball (Rock or Bust, 2014)

Bon Scott - Shot Down in Flames (Highway to Hell, 1979)
Brian Johnson - Shoot to Thrill (Back in Back, 1980)

Bon Scott - Squealer (Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, 1976)
Brian Johnson - Sink the Pink (Fly On The Wall, 1985)

Bon Scott - Highway to Hell (Highway to Hell, 1979)
Brian Johnson - Moneytalks (The Razor's Edge, 1990)

Bon Scott - Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be (Let There Be Rock, 1977)
Brian Johnson - Big Guns (The Last Action Hero Soundtrack, 1993)

Bon Scott - Go Down (Let There Be Rock, 1977)
Brian Johnson - Shake Your Foundations (Fly On The Wall, 1985)

Bon Scott - If You Want Blood (You've Got It) (Highway to Hell, 1979)
Brian Johnson - Playing With Girls (Fly on the Wall, 1985)

Bon Scott - Love at First Feel (Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, 1976)
Brian Johnson -Stiff Upper Lip (Stiff Upper Lip, 2000)

Bon Scott - Whole Lotta Rosie (Let There Be Rock, 1977)
Brian Johnson - For Those About To Rock (We Salute You) (For Those About To Rock, 1981)

Bon Scott - It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll) (High Voltage, 1976)*
Brian Johnson - Heatseeker (Blow Up Your Video, 1988)

Bon Scott - What's Next to the Moon (Powerage, 1978)
Brian Johnson - Flick Of the Switch (Flick Of the Switch, 1983)

Bon Scott - Ride On (Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, 1976)
Brian Johnson - Evil Walks (For Those About To Rock, 1981)

Bon Scott - Rock 'n' Roll Damnation (Powerage, 1978)
Brian Johnson - Who Made Who (Who Made Who, 1986)

Bon Scott - Nigh Prowler (Highway to Hell, 1979)
Brian Johnson - Have a Drink On Me (Back In Black, 1980)

Bon Scott - Riff Raff (Powerage, 1978)
Brian Johnson - War Machine (Black Ice, 2008)

Bon Scott - Cold Hearted Man (Powerage#, 1978)
Brian Johnson - Let Me Put My Love Into You (Back In Black, 1980)

Bon Scott - Walk All Over You (Highway to Hell, 1979)
Brian Johnson - Hell's Bells (Back In Black, 1980)

Bon Scott - Let There Be Rock (Let There Be Rock, 1977)
Brian Johnson - Back In Black (Back In Black, 1980)

Okay, it's done.  And YES!  I realize there is a glaring omission.  I'm sick to death of that song so I did not include it, sue me.  You don't like my list, PLEASE, I entreat you, make yours and do it in my comments section and share with me and my readers.

*Originally appeared on an Australian only release.
# European edition only.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Blood of the Sun smoked my cerebellum

Blood Of The Sun's latest release Blood's Thicker Than Love keep's the intensity comin' from the initial drop of the needle all the way through the final run-out.  While the band didn't lay down as many tracks on this new album, with six, as they did on 2013's Burning On the Wing's of Desire, eight, the run time is extended by three minutes, 38 minutes then vs. 41 minutes now, so we're treated to longer, meatier jams this time out.  And those jams do not disappoint.

The opening track may be the most memorable, simply for it's title and chorus, "Keep the Lemmys Comin'."  Of course, on January 12, 2016, after Ian Fraser Kilmister, or "Lemmy" died on December 28, 2015, Food and Beverage magazine officially named the Jack and Coke "The Lemmy."  This song obviously honors the spirit both literally and sort of piously.  It's a dirge to the shit faced lifestyle:

"I gotta Keep drinking/I can't stop thinking/ready to hit the floor/Keep the the Lemmys Comin' All night long/ ready to lose control."

And the next morning:

"looking in the mirror/nothing seems clearer/what was the name of that girl?/Cutting through the fog/get the hair of the dog/and I'm ready to rock and roll/Keep the Lemmys comin' all day long and I'm ready to lose control"

All set to a blistering guitar and some smokin' keys, played by Dave Gryder, on top of a driving rhythm section.  This is a hell of a lot of fun and it's just the opening track.

Now I've got to admit, the title of the second song didn't catch me, at all... "My Time."  But after about 1:59 I was really starting to get into it.  "If you don't like it hit the road," indeed.  About the three minute mark the guitar just takes over this song completely, and man, I was ever wrong about this one.  Do not judge a song just because it may have a title that doesn't catch your eye.  This guitar solo fucking SMOKES!!!  And the organ does just enough to compliment it.

"Livin' For the Night," an epic eight minute jam is up next.  It's so easy to praise the guitar and organ work on every song, and the vocals, belted out by Sean Vargas, are solid, they're cleanish, gruff, but clean delivery style, the rhythm section kind of gets lost in the shuffle.  But on this tune in particular the bass, handled ably by Roger "Kip" Yma, and drums, played by Henry Vasquez, chug right along at a thunderous pace.  They just lay down such a powerful bottom end you can really feel it in the pit of your stomach with any volume of appreciable levels at all.

The twin guitar attack of Wyatt Burton and Alex Johnson is brutal.  Their playing on the "Air Rises As You Drown" is nothing short of an aural assault.

My favorite vocal on the album belongs to the fifth track, "Stained Glass Window," a tune about a bad relationship.  It also has some of the more unique keyboard work, not necessarily the best, but certainly different than what appears on much of the remainder of the album.  It's got almost a church hymnal like sound, which may be the point.

"Blood Off the Road" closes the album.  I LOVE the keyboard work to open this one. It is reminiscent of Deep Purple and many of their "hard driving tunes."

Basically this album fucking blew me away and I didn't expect that.  I was familiar with Blood of the Sun's body of work and while I had enjoyed it, I was NOT prepared for a slab of rock and roll this smoking hot.  Honestly, released this late in the year, it has to make me re-evaluate my current list of albums I was assembling for my year end Top 25 Releases From 2018, because it may earn a slot.

I rate this album a damn near perfect 95/100. 

An early November release, I certainly look for this one to make next month's Doom Chart.
You can get a copy of Blood of the Sun's new album here.
Blood Of the Sun on Facebook

Friday, November 2, 2018

FINALLY, I saw Monster Magnet Live

Monster Magnet (l to r): Dave Wydorf- guitar, vocals, electronics, Phil
Caivano - guitar, Garrett Sweeney - lead guitar, (Bob Pantella obscured
 - drums), and Chris Kosnik - bass.
After 28 years of fandom I FINALLY was able to see Monster Magnet, my all-time favorite band, perform live last week in Nashville.  My friends, it was every bit worth the wait. 

Dave Wyndorf, who turned 62 this past Sunday, October 28th, looked like he was still in his 30s, dancing around, doing high kicks with bassist Chris Kosnik, and switch from mic, to guitar to electronics with ease all during songs.

The band careened through a dozen tunes over and hour and half set that included a 20 minute encore where the band did an extended jam of "Spine of God" that included a snippet of Don McLean's classic tune "American Pie."  After slowing things down with "Spine" the band blew the roof off the joint when they closed with a rollicking version of "Powertrip."

Since Monster Magnet had not played Nashville dating back to its heyday back in the Powertrip/God Says No era of the group, Dave and company made certain to play a "hits" heavy set list.  While I would have preferred a show teaming with deep cuts myself, I would have been happy with Monster Magnet playing a Chinese menu or the phone book after waiting 28 years to see them live in all honesty.  So I can't complain too much.

The band opened with "Dopes To Infinfity" before dipping into the new material off of the latest release Mindfucker, playing a smoking version of the opeing track "Rocket Freak."  "Twin Earth," the lead single from Superjuedge many moons ago came next, followed by the title cut off the new album.  "Radiation Day" kind of surprised me.  I honestly would have expected "Unbroken (Hotel Baby)" from Monolithic Baby! if any track was going to be played from that album, or possibly "Master of Light" due to its inclusion on the Torque soundtrack, but I digress.

Laura Dolan of Electric Citizen stage right.
"Look to Your Orb For the Warning," a track that appeared in The Matrix and on the official soundtrack for that film, came next.  Then "Dinosaur Vacuum" from Superjudge and then back to the new album again for "When the Hammer Comes Down."  Monster Magnet closed out the main set with its two biggest hits, first off "Negasonic Teenage Warhead," which has become more of a household name among Deadpool moviegoers over the past couple years thanks to the character portrayed by Brianna Hildebrand, followed by the huge sing-a-long hit "Spacelord."

Support came from a local Nashville group, fellow New Jersey act Dark Sky Choir (who frankly slayed the audience) and Electric Citizen (Who I wrote about on this month's Doom Chart.)  Electric Citizen have a new album out called Helltown, and it's pretty damn good, so check it out here.

Monday, July 2, 2018

...and Five More You Should be Spinning!

Each month after the Doom Charts are released we'll take a step back to let people digest the 25 albums in that countdown, then we'll follow up with five more albums that we think you should be spinning in addition to the albums that MADE the Doom Charts.  Call this an addendum, or whatever you want, it's not necessarily the next five albums, as these were NOT voted on by the Doom Charts committee, but in all likelihood they did come from my ballot.  Without further ado I give you a Further Five you should be spinning...

Take one part Sabbath, one part Jane's Addiction, one part Mastodon, and one part Pink Floyd, throw in a dash of Hendrix and maybe a touch of Clutch, and the final product hails from the Pacific Northwest, cruising in on the spaceship rock and roll is Jollymon with their new nine-cut LP Voidwalker.

From the opening track "Tsunami" washing over you with it's monster stomp and sweet melodies and the claim that "We come in peace, but not the kind of peace you're used to see(ing)," to the processional march of "Sky Burial," this is one special release, deserving of 40 minutes of your attention, you know, just to get to know one another.  I think after you've been introduced properly, you'll want to spend even more time together, exploring deeper cuts, like bass in your face goodness of "Missile Commander," the groovy "Forecast" and reggae inspired "Slice of Life."

Up next is Bang with Best Of..., a compilation of the band's best tracks from it's first three albums released between 1971 and 1973.  This gorgeous double LP has been given a lot of TLC by label Ripple Music and it shows.

The poignant opener "Death of a Country," which could very easily have been written about present day America instead of 1971, is the 10 and half minute standout on the record, with a sultry bass line and urgent lyrics delivered in a crisp, smooth style.  The guitar tones are sharp and fill in around the bass nicely.  Other top tracks on this 18 track monster include "Our Home," the band's one charting hit song titled "Questions," "Mother," "Don't Need Nobody" and "Slow Down."  Bang is back!

Coming to you from the wilds of Quebec is Cleõphüzz with their new release Wizard of phüzz.

Though just a four song EP, it rates up there with some of the best releases of the year so far in 2018 IMHO.  A twister transports you to the world of Oz where you're off to meet the wizard in the classic tale The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.  You're not in Kansas anymore.  So it's only appropriate that one is similarly transported to the world of phüzz by this time a "Sandstorm," the 7:11 killer instrumental that opens the EP, and indeed, Kansas goes bye-bye, in exchange you find yourself in the rockin' desert, possibly of New Mexico or California.  Somewhere where stoner rock is prevalent.

Fuzz tones, or should I say phüzz tones, abound throughout the EP and the third cut, the middle eastern sounding centerpiece "Half Moon Ritual," features cello play as well as sitar.  This lush little 28 minute EP is a breath of fresh air for the summer and is a must buy.

One that just missed making the Doom Charts this past month is the kick ass album from El Rojo, 16 Inches Radial.  This one, from the five piece out of Morano Calabro, Italy, will make you want to drive your car fast and maybe do something stupid, like run from the cops in the process, haha, the lead track particularly will have you revving your engine - "Pontiac."

I can see myself easily blasting this behind the wheel of a 1977 black Pontiac Trans-Am Smokey and the Bandit style, running down the road doing 95 mph on the open interstate on a Coors beer run, working interference for Snowman. 

"We know the road."


Finally we come to the six cut deep album North from a band that combines and crosses multiple genres, including southern rock, grunge, 90s metal, and more.  Of course, I'm referring to Reykjavik, Iceland's Keelrider.  Released back in early March, this album has flown under the radar for far too long considering how strong it is.  It has clean, solid vocals reminiscent of Screaming Tree's Mark Lanegan, in my mind at least. 

While the grunge and 90s rock influences are easily detectable, this album is still rooted firmly in the stoner tradition, with the fuzzed out guitars and it has bears some 70s influences, though they are not as blatant as some of the other inspirations.  You have to listen attentively to pick them out in the mix.  All in all, though it's a kick butt record, reminds me of Mad Season, the best parts of Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, and the aforementioned Screaming Trees, but with a stoner rock twist.

Go North young man.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Sons of Alpha Centauri back with sophomore effort 11 years after debut

Ten years ago, in July of 2008, the members of Sons of Alpha Centauri convened in the UK with Yawning Man's Gary Arce to start work on the group's follow up to their 2007 self-titled debut.  Things went a little sideways with that project, as after just a day Arce and the band could tell something pretty special was taking place with the chemistry.    That volatile mixture of personnel, in just one short week, yielded the bones an album with a unique sound and vision, titled Ceremony to the Sunset, that was eventually released under the moniker of Yawning Sons.

Over the course of the ensuing year other personnel pitched in and added their talents to the project, including a vocal from Scott Reeder (Kyuss),  Mario Lalli (Fatso Jetson), and Wendy Rae Fowler (QOTSA).

Fast forward nine years since the release of Ceremony to the Sunset and SOAC are set to FINALLY drop a sophomore album, which, according to the band, it purports to be, "an epic introspective journey of abrasive and ambient progressive electronic alt rock."  Well, I'll be the judge of that.

The band maintains the same line-up as all of its previous releases, including its debut and its varied 7" splits, Nick Hannon on bass, Marlon Aaron King on guitars, Blake on electronics and textures, and Stevie B. on drums.

The album was not presented to me as a concept album, but with its eight song titles as cohesive as they are, it could very easily be passed off as one if it was not for the album's cover, which seemingly does not align well with the song titles.  The album is titled Continuum, well enough, it suits the song titles, OR it suits the cover, it's just that the cover and song titles do not mesh.  For example, there are song titles such as "Jupiter," "Solar Storm," "Io," "Interstellar," "Orbiting Jupiter," etc.  Meanwhile, the cover of the album appears to be a decommissioned WWII era (or thereabouts) submarine.

What?  Excellent publicity photos. Album cover?  I question the choice.  But alas, we move on to the music contained their in.

The brief introductory track is all synth and mellow guitar,but it's track two, "Jupiter," that defines the palette that Sons of Alpha Centauri will be painting Continuum with.  It goes heavy riff, slow jazz, heavy riff, slow jazz, repeat ad nauseam.  Actually that's not quite fair, there's some variation in there that nicely breaks up the routine, and it all comes together pleasant enough.  The band knows its craft.  "Jupiter" just failed to grab me.

Now "Solar Storm" was more my speed.  Something about King's guitar work at the outset, caught my attention.  He's not a flashy, showy guitarist, but that doesn't mean he doesn't know his way around the fretboard either.  The man can riff.

Nick Hannon's bass is the first thing we hear on "Io," the bands first single, see the video for this song below.  It's another mellow tune, and it's Hannon who leads the way, with Stevie B. helping out considerably.  A nice variation of sound, a good choice for video.  Hannon's jangly bass reminds me some of the work of Adam Clayton on this song.

The very brief "Surfacing For Air," has Hannon playing some deep tones on bass, great textures from Blake and brilliant guitar work from King.  Albeit over entirely too soon, this is my favorite track.

The 6:41 "Interstellar" commences with Blake's electronics and a beat from Stevie B. before Hannon and King join in nearly a minute into the tune.  Hannon, King and Blake skillfully weave around Stevie B.'s steady beat until it drops away and turns into some rapid stick work.  With two minutes left in the tune the band shifts into high gear and do some of the heaviest jamming they've done on the entire album.  They finally cut loose.  It's what I've been waiting for the entire cd, and it doesn't last nearly long enough.  Before the song is over, the band has mostly dropped out except Hannon's bass and the textures of Blake. Still, "Interstellar" is worth the price of admission.

"Orbiting Jupiter" is a beautiful piano piece with electronic accompaniment.  It segues into "Return Voyage," which opens with a jangly guitar, bass, and somber electronics.  But the slow intro is broken up every few seconds by drums and a wall of sound as the sound stops and starts, trying to get under way, then it finally commences.   At a minutee 55 in, the guitar riffing breaks in, timid at first, then more assertive, and I'm digging this.  I'm glad I stuck around for the main event.  This tune rocks.

All in all Continuum is, for the greatest part, exactly what it claims to be, "an introspective journey of abrasive and ambient progressive electronic alt rock."  The only change I made to the quote is I dropped the word "epic."  I disagree on that point alone.  It IS "most excellent," BORDERING UPON "pretty freakin' awesome," but I would NOT QUITE qualify it as "epic."

It's not a perfect album, but it's certainly worth checking out, and a solid effort from a damn talented band, I rate this outing an 88 out of 100.

Sons of Alpha Centauri on Bandcamp
Sons of Alpha Centauri website

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Sledge birthed from the ashes of Hjortene, ready to drop debut On the Verge Of Nothing

Releasing on June 15th, The Sledge's debut On the Verge Of Nothing is a kick-ass sonic ride through the psychedelic desert of soundscapes created by this new group, risen from the ashes of another band like the proverbial Phoenix of lore.  The Sledge are created from the rubble of what once was Danish fuzz-bomb band Hjortene.  They made a name for themselves opening for the likes of Valient Thorr, Truckfighters and Fu Manchu and developed a following in Scandinavia.  "We added Magnus on vocals and the new songs are way more tuned down, and slower and heavier, but of course you can hear where we come from musically," said the band.

On the Verge Of Nothing was recorded live in the studio over the course of just two days.  All of the basic tracks, guitar, bass, drums, were played live and done in one room live with no headphones and no stuido windows "to obscure the energy," the band explained.  It was just amplifiers and drums.  Afterward the band dubbed vocals and invited friends to contribute.  Lorenzo Woodrose (Baby Woodrose On Trial) "is all over the album.  He just came, hung out and delivered... a lot of percussion and harmony vocals."

Bo Morthren from stoner psych legends On Trial  did vocals for a blue, paired down track, and Lorenzo backed him up.  "It was like bringing On Trial together for a song again."

That track I feel certain is "Curtains" and is among my favorite tracks on the record.  It, jazzy closer "Flammehav" and lead single "179 Liars" are the standouts, and the hilarious "Like Shit" track, but honestly it's probably intended to be a 40-some second long lark.  The band is having us on.  But anyway.

From the Sabbathesque stomp of "Tantra I: War Wig" to the  Black Keys style blues number "Curtains," it's clear that The Sledge want to experiment with a variety of genres of rock on this record.  "We were not setting out to make a classic stoner album... and we think you can hear that."

"Death Drome Doline" actually reminded me of a lot of Primus' "Wynona's Big Brown Beaver" and I
really dug Claus' heady bass and the bottom heavy guitar riffing on this one.  The bluesy "Curtains" follows.  The Hammond organ is a really nice addition here, it compliments the four piece without stepping on toes.  It's just noticeable enough, a deft touch.  And the jam at the 4:10 mark, oh man, I thought the song was going to carry on that way to conclusion a la "Paradise City" but it took another turn and surprised me.

"Running Down the Mountain" is a short and sweet jam that gets us on to the first single "179 Liars", a hellacious cut.  Fades in with that organ again, then bam, guitar, drum kicks in and we're off.  This is one of Magnus' strongest vocals.  He really stretches himself.  You can hear Lorenzo backing in places very nicely.  Palle's guitar solo has an awesome psychedelic effect thrown on it near the conclusion.

What can I say about the brief interlude rap "Like Shit" except to say maybe that it sounds "Like Shit" and I mean that in a good way.

The longest track with vocals is the bluesy rocker "Yet Untitled."  This is probably the most "stoner" moment on the album.  It's clearly owes a debt to the likes of Sabbath, Aerosmith, Zeppelin, even Deep Purple, but so too to some of the bands the members have been touring with such as Fu Manchu and Truckfighters.

Finally we come to the nine and half minute closing instrumental track, which is a jazzy, spacey, hot number.  I love the effects, and Claus' bass just rips at the beginning.  There's a sax solo, Kim beats the drums like hell throughout.  It's not until after the sax solo really that I took notice of Palle's six string acrobatics, with range from mellow and smooth to smoking hot.  I LOVE this cut.

All in all this is a terrific album I rate it a full on 90 out of 100.  It's a really great listen.

From The Sledge's Press Info: Anders Onsberg Hansen (Baby Woodrose, Spids Nogenhat) did the recordings in Copenhagen and for the mixing and mastering the band brought in some heavyweight champions in the rock business: Matt Bayles (Mastodon, The Sword, Isis) did the mixes in Seattle, and Dave Collins (Soundgarden, Fu Manchu, QOTSA, Black Sabbath, Metallica) did the mastering in Las Angeles.  "We wanted to take everything a step further, and did no compromises in choosing who to work with."  The Sledge will release their debut album On the Verge Of Nothing on 15th of June via German label Kozmik Artifactz on heavy gatefold LP.

Kozmik Artifactz Facebook page.


Sunday, May 27, 2018

Spurv produces a "wordless exploration of the enigma of existence" with transcendent second album

On June 1 Oslo, Norway's Spurv (Sparrow) will drop their latest long-player Myra (The Marshes) and I Talk To Planets was fortunate enough to spend some time with with this album this past month and let me tell you, it is nothing short of breathtaking.  The music is resplendent, it's moving, it's enchanting, it's haunting.  It is everything you would want out of an emotional post rock/metal album.

The album purports to be a "wordless exploration of the enigma of existence through intense and melodic instrumental music, noisy drones, (and) orchestral clusters..."  Myra, however, is not entirely wordless.  The final track, the English translation of which is "Everything Ends, Even at Night," begins with an excerpt from a speech given by seminal Continental philosopher Martin Heidegger of Germany.  In that excerpt Heidegger says, "Die Sterblichen sind die Menschen."  What that translates too is, "The mortals are the human beings."

Now, Heidegger's principal work is Being and Time and I'm going to give a crash course in the German philosopher's work because what he did in his lifetime so informs what Spurv is trying to communicate with Myra that I think understanding his primary teachings lie at the crux of enjoying their music thoroughly. Heidegger's philosophy attempts to conjoin two main thoughts: 1) is the notion that all beings are found in the world (including the world itself), but the idea of Being had never been examined before; and 2) building upon the work of fellow kraut thinker Edmund Husserl who coined the phenomenological slogan "to the things themselves," Heidegger ran with that idea and came up with his notion of Dasein, or the being for whom Being is a question.  Heidegger thought that all experience is grounded in "care."  That became the premise for his "existential analytic" in Being and Time 
Photo courtesy of Lars Opstad.

How does all this relate to Spurv's new album?  In the band's own words, "Ultimately Myra is about
life and death, about that which is and that which perishes. Art poeticizes and co-creates our understanding of life and death, of the world, existence, and the human being's place among animals, plants, twigs, moss, fungi and mud. And in a time when the boundless sovereignty of the human being, the inevitability of progress and eternal growth without decay is the myth that increasingly steers humans from all corners of the world, it is up to artists to show the porous fundament of the myth, the the world is immensely more unfathomable than it appears at both first and second looks, that nothing lasts forever, but that everything gets its end, also the night."

The album consist of eight tracks, one of which, opener "A Lift In Case" (perhaps something was lost in translation), is only about 43 seconds of prelude, mostly sounds of a babbling brook, building to the horn introduction of the next track, "And a New Forest Is Brought Forward."  The sounds are vivacious and spirited.

I really want to take note of Hans-Jakob Jeremiassen's bass work on the 8:26 long "From the Depths Under the Stone."  It cut across the other instruments and stood out to me.  The song, the third track on the album, is really a quite lovely piece that flows right into the following synthesizer driven fourth cut on the album, which may be my favorite, it's so relaxing and calming, such stillness in the middle of this album that wants you to take time out and think about life and death, this tune gives you the opportunity to do that before moving on into the more heady parts of the album.

"A Pale Light Sounds" was released ahead of the full album and this is the album's penultimate track, everyone is at the top of their game, such wonderful melody, excellent harmonies, the rise and falls of the music so beautifully executed.  This is perfect music to meditate upon the transcendent, ineffable qualities of life, and death.

Photo courtesy of Lars Opstad.
It's track six and seven that really captivate me, "From the Myrtle Temple" and "The Voice Of the Old Man Breaks."  The textures are just so beautiful and hauntingly sad.  There is some wonderful guitar work here, not the screeching solos and flamboyant riffing I'm so used to hearing in the genre, but some gentle strumming and picking.  The harmonies cannot be overlooked either.  "Ole-Henrik and Kari Ronnekleiv have come with invaluable contributions that fill out and bind together the album, while Tore Ylvisaker and Ole Aleksander Halstensgard from Ulver have filled in details that draw out harmonies that we did not know were to be found in our music," noted founding member Gustav Jorgen Pedersen.

My recognition of the harmonies and soft guitar work, however, doesn't mean there isn't any riffing going on on this record.  Take the final track "Everything Ends, Even at Night," for example, there is some serious riffing going on here.

Heidegger's speech is delivered over some light piano at the outset.  The piano picks up in intensity and is joined by a cacophony of sound, suddenly the drums slice through the wall of sound, then the guitar in a traditional crushing metal riff kicks in.  This track by far is the most metallic cut on the album, but even it is melodic, and filled with wonderful harmonies by the group, and the band's use of instruments you wouldn't typically find in a rock band persists even in this, their heaviest song.

Photo courtesy of Lars Opstad.
This is one of the most melodic, trippy, transcendent albums I've heard this year, and I loved every second of it.  As far as contemporary releases to date in 2018, I compare it to Weedpecker III, Trail's Spaces and to an extent, River Cult's Halcyon Daze, all great records.  I rate this album a 93 out of 100.

"The album was written in the years that have passed since Skarntyde (No Forevers 2016) and recorded in the first weeks of 2017. With Skarntyde we felt we had come as far as we could, almost on our own, and with Myra we have taken a huge step, if not forward, then deeper, towards what we want Spurv to be," relayed Pedersen.

Spurv was founded in 2011 and consists today of Gustav Jorgen Pedersen - guitar, Hans-Jakob Jeremiassen - bass, Herman Otterlei - guitar, Simon Ljung - drums, Eirik Orevik Aadland - guitar, and Simen Eifring - trombone.  Also contributing to the album are Ole-Henrik Moe - picoletto, violin, viola, cello, Kari Ronnekleiv - violin, Cathy Donnelly - cello, Tore Ylvisaker - synth, Ole Aleksander Halstengard - fx and synth.

Spurv on Bandcamp.