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Fortress of Doors



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Casualties of Cool

Posted by Cheshire Cat , in Music May 28 2014 · 96 views

My copy of the new Devin Townsend album finally arrived and it's pretty awesome.
 
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It's the reward for the £19 tier of the PledgeMusic campaign, which I backed pretty much as soon as it went live. That included a digital download of the album as soon as it was released, but it's really nice to actually have a physical copy now. Also, there's the bonus disc, which as usual is about as good as the actual album.
 
The campaign was actually something like 600% of the target by the end of it, with most of the excess going to fund Devin's next Ziltoid album, along with donations to charity, so that's really cool too. Devin has great fans, and he deserves to.


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My Top 15 Albums of 2013, Part 3

Posted by Cheshire Cat , in Music Jan 12 2014 · 74 views

5 - Exit! by Fire! Orchestra
 
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Exit! is an experimental big band free jazz record with a lot going on. There's over twenty musicians on this album, and you'll often be hearing many of them play at once in what builds up to a complete pandemonium.
The album is chaotic and organised, both at once. There are times where you'll have stuff like a steady bass line and drum beat while at the same time saxophones, clarinets and pianos will be going insane, all synergising to create these incredible compositions. Compositions which twist and turn into completely unpredictable directions, always maintaining suspense.
This is a truly great jazz album.
 
 
4 - Weapon by Skinny Puppy
 
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I think it's fair to say that Skinny Puppy are the one of the most important bands in industrial music, and to many, myself included, they're also by far the best. So like many bands with such acclaim, whenever they release a new album, it will inevitably be met with an air of cynicism from certain fans and comparisons to their past masterpieces, which is rather unfortunate.
Is Weapon another Last Rights or Too Dark Park? No, of course not, nor does it attempt to be. Like most of the post-reunion era of Skinny Puppy, Weapon is much more energetic and straight-forward electro-industrial as opposed to the dark and abrasive soundscapes that were the focus of albums like Last Rights. Which is not to say that they don't do experimentation anymore or that their current stuff is much more accessible (Weapon definitely took me a couple of listens to get into and recognise everything that is going on in the music), but the last four albums have been substantially different from what the band were doing before they broke up.
A more apt point for comparison would be the 1984 EP Remission, especially since the new album contains a remake of the song Solvent. Weapon is very much a refinement of the style found on the EP with added elements of the modern Skinny Puppy, and it's something that ends up working very well.

With Weapon I think Skinny Puppy have continued the trend of each post-reunion album being better than the last, which should say something as all of them are great. Weapon contains some very good song writing with a lot of subtle melodies over the great beats, all accompanied by the usual abstract and political lyrics.
Something Skinny Puppy have always been great at is maintaining an atmosphere and theme throughout their albums, and this one really gives the sense of a cyberpunk dystopia to me, which is fantastic.
While I wouldn't put Weapon up there with Last Rights, Too Dark Park and The Process, it is still a great album which makes me feel very happy that Skinny Puppy decided to reform ten years ago.
 
3 - Earth Rocker by Clutch
 
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This is without a doubt the 2013 album I listened to the most this year. I suppose that's in part due to it coming out back in March, but mostly what I'm getting at is that it's an incredibly addicting album that I just can't get enough of.
Earth Rocker is an absolutely fantastic hard rock album with a hint of blues rock that is overflowing with great riffs, vocals and songwriting. Every song is infectious, from the title track opener, to the slow and especially bluesy Gone Cold, to the loud and rocking closer The Wolf Man Kindly Requests.
It is an incredibly fun album to listen to. As far as pure enjoyment goes, this was the most I've had of it this year.
 
2 - Vertikal by Cult of Luna
 
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From the pure fun of Earth Rocker, we come to the bleak and miserable atmospheric sludge metal journey that is Cult of Luna's Vertikal.
And a journey it is. Very thematically and atmospherically strong, Vertikal is an absolutely captivating piece of beautiful melancholy with incredible instrumentation and the incorporation of many influences from post-rock, electronic and ambient. Well over an hour long, the album never drags or gets boring and just continues to surprise the listener.
Cult of Luna are clearly the masters of their craft, and with them announcing an indefinite hiatus, this coupled with the equally amazing EP Vertikal II is their final artistic statement.
I'm sad to see them go, but what a note to end on.
 
1 - Das Seelenbrechen by Ihsahn
 
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The Breaking of the Soul. Taken from Nietzcshe's writings on art, there could hardly be a more appropriate title for this masterpiece.
Das Seelenbrechen is the fifth solo album from the mastermind behind the most influential and innovative black metal band Emperor, and is easily the best thing he has done. Considering how incredible his work with Emperor, Peccatum and his solo project is, for Ihsahn to outdo himself again is no small feat.
Created in an entirely different manner than his previous four albums, Das Seelenbrechen is a largely improvised piece that gives us a deep personal look into Ihsahn's true psyche.
It's very difficult to describe it. I suppose it's because of albums like this that we have terms like avant-garde. Stylistically, it's all over the place in the best possible way. You have the opener Hiber which deliberately reels you in with a false sense of familiarity to the progressive black metal of his previous albums, but that familiarity is shattered barely half-way through the song when it takes a completely different turn. Following this are tracks like the symphonic Regen, the electronic tinged beautiful and personal Pulse, the experimentation with time signatures in the terrifying recreation of black metal Tacit II, the atmospheric spoken-word piece M, the chilling experimental drone-influenced See, and five other tracks, all of which are very unique.
Despite it's chaotic nature, the album still feels very coherent and all the tracks very much act as one continuous experience.
Das Seelenbrechen is a display of incredible musicianship in every aspect. Beyond that, it is a display of creative genius.
It's definitely not an album that will appeal to everyone, but to me this not only blows everything else from this year out of the water, but it ranks amongst the greatest albums I have ever heard.


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My Top 15 Albums of 2013, Part 1

Posted by Cheshire Cat , in Music Jan 09 2014 · 68 views

Well, here are albums 15-11 of my end of year list:
 
 
15 - A Piece of Infinity by Wretched Excess
 
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A Piece of Infinity is a very nice fusion of dark ambient and jazz. Atmospheric and foreboding, it's a pleasant listen.
Oh, and it's available for free on the Wretched Excess bandcamp page, so go pick it up.
 
 
14 - Burn The World by AC4
 
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Burn The World is a great album of fast-paced old-school hardcore punk, by a band fronted by Dennis Lyxzen from the legendary Refused.
It's a bit of a throwback to the Swedish hardcore scene that Refused belonged to in their early days, before they went on their experimental path.
However this is by no means a replication of Refused's sound. There is no experimentation or groundbreaking ideas here, but there are 16 tracks of loud and infectious hardcore which will make you feel like it's the early 90s again.
This album is great at what it does and is a joy to listen to.
 
 
13 - Abandon All Life by Nails
 
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Nails' powerviolence/grindcore piece Abandon All Life fills the same niche for me that Black Breath's Sentenced to Life did last year. It's a relentless, crushingly heavy assault on the ears.
Allowing no time to rest, the album delivers 10 punches in quick succession and barely hits 17 minutes. Which is probably for the best, as it can be a pretty exhausting listen.
 
 
12 - VILKÉ by Daniel Menche
 
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Inspired by the wolves he saw on his travels, Menche's VILKÉ incorporates the howls of wolves into an atmospheric and haunting drone journey through a downward spiral of decay, providing for a very eerie and gripping album.
 
 
11 - Shadow Music: A Soundtrack to Contrast by Nicolas Marquis
 
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An absolutely fantastic piece of 1920s style jazz and cabaret with a surreal atmosphere, this album emulates the decadent noir setting of the game very well.
The two tracks which feature Laura Ellis on vocals are especially great and truly feel like they could be straight out of a cabaret performance. The instrumentals are an absolute joy to listen to as well, making this album a great throwback to the era it's inspired by, with enough modern touches to keep it sounding fresh.


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My Top Albums of 2013 - Honourable Mentions

Posted by Cheshire Cat , in Music Jan 08 2014 · 95 views

Before I do my top albums list, I thought I'd give a quick mention to some albums that didn't quite make it, but still deserve to be recognised:
 
 
Kveikur by Sigur Rós - A beautiful post-rock album with hints of dream-pop and a rather dark and foreboding atmosphere which makes for a pretty interesting listen.
 
Sunbather by Deafheaven - A fantastic cross between shoegaze and black metal that pulls you in and doesn't let go until the album ends.
 
Seesaw by Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa - The second collaboration by these two, and between Hart's soulful voice and Bonamassa's fantastic guitar playing, it makes for a great blues rock album.
 
Pain Is Beauty by Chelsea Wolfe - A fitting title for this dark and atmospheric journey through quite a mixture of genres.
 
Quartoze Pièces de Menace by Dale Cooper Quartet and the Dictaphones - A very interesting combination of dark jazz and drone. It is beautifully composed, but carries with it a sense of foreboding doom.
 
Colored Sands by Gorguts - A fantastic technical death metal record that is crushingly heavy, but maintaining a powerful atmosphere. The instrumentation is wonderfully complex and sounds absolutely colossal.
 
Echogenetic by Front Line Assembly - When this album was announced it seemed that a lot of fans were getting hyped over the band choosing to not use guitars on it, which seems like a strange thing to get hyped over to me. Besides, I actually thought that the sparing use of guitars greatly contributed to Artificial Soldier and Improvised Electronic Device being the best FLA albums since Implode. But coming back to Echogenetic, yes, the band ditched the guitars in favour of looking a bit into dubstep. They're not the first industrial act to do so, but I'd say that they pulled it off rather well. However, I do think that the album starts to feel like the band are trying to repeat their older stuff a bit, and it's definitely weaker than the previous two records (three if you count the AirMech soundtrack). Despite that, it's still a very solid and extremely enjoyable album by one of the greatest industrial bands.
 
Old Mornings Dawn by Summoning - A fantastic atmospheric black metal album, thematically and lyrically inspired by Tolkien's Middle-Earth. Do I need to say more?
 
One of Us Is the Killer by The Dillinger Escape Plan - A great chaotic and abrasive mathcore album. Perhaps a bit more accessible than the band's other work, this record is still a behemoth that beats you down without mercy. As usual, some excellent playing and vocals are to be found here.
 
Marriage of Metals by Daniel Menche - One of two albums released by Menche this year, Marriage of Metals experiments with drone music by fusing it with Gamelan gong instruments, which results in a very atmospheric and mesmerising experience.
 
IV by earthtone9 - earthtone9 return with their first album in 13 years, and they pick up right where they left off with arc'tan'gent. The band's unique blend of progressive metal, alternative metal and post-hardcore provides for a fantastic album with very tight playing and some great riffs.


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I Talk About Music #02 - Dennis Lyxzén

Posted by Cheshire Cat , in Music Nov 10 2013 · 98 views

I talked about Refused in my last entry, so I thought I would next talk about other projects of their vocalist Dennis Lyxzén.
 
Dennis is probably one of my favourite people in music. He's a very talented vocalist with an impressive range, and he's a good guitarist and bassist too.
Beyond that, he is also a fantastic songwriter and lyricist, with a strong passion for his music and message.
 
After Refused broke up, Dennis went on to form The (International) Noise Conspiracy - a garage punk/dance punk band which was his main focus until he ended the project in 2009.
During that time he also formed the Lost Patrol Band, later renamed to Invasionen and currently known as INVSN, which has more of an indie-rock edge and, now that T(I)NC is done, is his main project.
In 2008 he also formed a hardcore punk band with Refused's drummer David Sandström after the two started talking again, under the name of AC4. After releasing the second album earlier this year, this project is also coming to an end, with Dennis having said that there's a compilation to be released after which the band will split up.
During Refused's time, he was also in Final Exit - a hardcore punk supergroup of sorts, formed by members of Refused and Abhinanda, which released two albums.
 
So, onto my collection of his stuff. Along with everything by Refused, I have this:
 
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The (International) Noise Conspiracy - The First Conspiracy; Survival Sickness; A New Morning, Changing Weather; Armed Love; Bigger Cages, Longer Chains EP and the Capitalism Stole My Virginity single
The Lost Patrol Band - The Lost Patrol Band
INVSN - INVSN
AC4 - AC4; Burn The World
 
I'm missing quite a lot, including the last T(I)NC album, two albums by The Lost Patrol Band, the two albums by Invasionen and the two albums by Final Exit.
Those albums get harder to find as the list goes on, with me waiting for the T(I)NC album to drop in price, and with the Final Exit albums being pretty much impossible to find at this stage.
 
Either way, that's quite a lot of bands for one person to have been in, and not only are they all at least pretty good, but they all sound very different from each other. It's almost hard to believe that INVSN are fronted by the same person as Refused.
 
I'm eagerly awaiting to see what Dennis comes out with next. Of course after the amazing tour last year, the hope is that Refused will return again, but I'm just as excited for anything else he might do.
Even if none of these bands were as influential or revolutionised punk like Refused did, Dennis always creates quality music.


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I Talk About Music #01 - Refused

Posted by Cheshire Cat , in Music Nov 06 2013 · 78 views

I'm barely using my blog at all, so I thought I'd start a little series where I basically just talk about music. Maybe talk about my favourite bands and why I like them, maybe show off interesting albums in my collection. Stuff like that.
 
Just over a week ago it was the 15th anniversary of what I currently hold to be the greatest album of all time - The Shape of Punk to Come - and so I thought I'd talk about the band responsible for that album: Refused.
 

Refused were one of the most important (and certainly the most well known) bands in the Swedish hardcore punk scene and during their career from 1991 to 1998 they became one of the most influential punk bands in history.
 
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In order: This Just Might Be... The Truth; Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent; The Shape of Punk to Come; This Album Contains Old Songs and Old Pictures Vol. 1 (Also Known as the EP Comp CD); This Album Contains Old Songs and Old Pictures Vol. 2 (Also Known as the Demo Comp CD); The New Noise Theology EP.
 
With their first album and first few EPs Refused started out playing what was pretty much typical hardcore in the scene at the time (mind you, they did it incredibly well). Their second album saw them exploring more complex post-hardcore before revolutionising punk in 1998 with their third album, The Shape of Punk to Come.
 
I love everything Refused have done, but it is this third and final album (the band broke up shortly after its completion) that has earned them their spot in music history, and with good reason.
With 15 years since its release, I think it is still completely unparalleled.
 
A very ambitious and forward-thinking record, it experimented a lot with what hardcore was and could be, with complex songwriting and seamless incorporation of many jazz and electronic elements (indeed, the album's title is a tip of the hat to Ornette Coleman's album The Shape of Jazz to Come).
 
It's a fantastically written and very unique album. Everything from little things to the big things, from the electronic interludes, to the jazz bridge on The Deadly Rhythm, to the fantastic violin intro to Tannhäuser / Derivè (which happens to be pretty much my favourite song ever) serves a purpose in crafting this masterpiece.
It's an album that is brutal and aggressive, yet delicate and sophisticated.
 
There's not much I can say about this album that hasn't already been said my many fans and critics. Pretty much everything about this record is perfect and everyone in the band is so good at what they do that it's ridiculous.
It's an album that has influenced countless artists, but none of them have come close to matching its greatness.
Of course it's not an album that's for everyone, but it's definitely the album for me.
 
However, an album this incredible took its toll on Refused's creative energy and the band broke up soon after, vowing to never play together again.
Fortunately, that was not the case and they reunited in 2012 for one tour to do justice to their last album. Following the tour Refused broke up once again, but stated that the possibility of their return remains.
I certainly hope that they do indeed return, as they are by far my favourite band.
 
 
...And that will be the end of my babbling for this first entry. I kinda wanted to talk more about their early work, but I don't really want to make these entries long, so maybe another time ^_^


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Paradise Lost

Posted by Cheshire Cat , in Music Nov 03 2013 · 102 views

Well, I just got back from Paradise Lost's 25th anniversary show at The Roundhouse.
It was an absolutely fantastic night, and I'm happy that it was recorded for a live CD.
 
Katatonia were on first, playing Viva Emptiness in its entirety to celebrate 10 years of the album. Backwards for some reason, but hey, it's still Viva Emptiness and Ghost of the Sun makes for a fantastic closer.
I'm not sure if the album necessarily translated into a live setting fantastically, but they were still great.
Highlights of the set: Criminals, Ghost of the Sun
 
Lacuna Coil were up next and were great too.
They're one of those bands that I never really looked into despite liking quite a few songs that I've heard. Will that change after tonight? Possibly.
They were pretty energetic and got the crowd going.
Highlights of the set: Intoxicated, Spellbound
 
And then it was time for Paradise Lost.
They were absolutely brilliant.
The setlist was... interesting. They left out a lot of songs that seemed like the obvious ones to pick and that they usually play, like Erased, As I Die or The Last Time. Which I think was a great decision as it allowed for songs like So Much Is Lost off of Host, which is without question their most underrated record. Looking over it, they probably couldn't have come up with a better setlist for their 25th anniversary. Containing great songs from albums that often seem forgotten, like the aforementioned Host or Lost Paradise and Paradise Lost, it was a great reminder of the glorious 25 years of their music.
Highlights of the set: So Much Is Lost, Gothic, Tragic Idol, Never for the ******, Isolate, Say Just Words, One Second, True Belief
 
Here's to 25 years of Paradise Lost, and hopefully to many more.
 


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Halloween Playlist

Posted by Cheshire Cat , in Music Oct 31 2013 · 104 views

This is what I'll leave playing in the background today.
It's always fun making these ^_^


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Tragic Illusion

Posted by Cheshire Cat , in Music Aug 17 2013 · 118 views

So, Paradise Lost just announced this thing:
 
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Tragic Illusion 25 (The Rarities), which will be released on the 25th of October to celebrate the band's 25th anniversary and will be a compilation of rarities and B-sides from over the years. It will also contain a brand new song - Loneliness Remains - as well as re-recorded versions of Gothic and Our Saviour.
I'll definitely be picking this up. I already have five of the songs from limited edition copies of albums, but I am interested in the rest.


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Velcra

Posted by Cheshire Cat , in Music Aug 01 2013 · 55 views

Well, I thought I'd share an album I recently discovered and am loving: Hadal by Velcra.
Velcra made some great industrial metal with their first two albums, but the fantastic third album Hadal is more of a combination of industrial rock, electronic and trip hop. I almost want to say that it's like a heavier, industrial version of Portishead.
 


 
Unfortunately, I am completely unable to find a copy of the album for sale anywhere. The best I could find was the MP3 download on Amazon, but no sign of a CD copy.






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Seek and ye shall find they say,

But they don't say what you'll find...

 

-5 Most Recently Purchased Albums-

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-Mini-Bio-

Age:
20
Gender:
Male
Location:
London, UK
Currently Studying:
Law

Beliefs:

Atheist

Main Music Tastes:
Metal, Rock, Industrial, Dark Cabaret, Jazz
Favourite Bands:
Refused, Alice Cooper, Paradise Lost, Skold, Devin Townsend, Ihsahn
Favourite Books:
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Phillip K. Dick; Gun, With Occasional Music - Jonathan Lethem; A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
Favourite Movies:
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; The Matrix; Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead; 2046
Favourite Video Games:
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Trilogy; American McGee's Alice; Hitman: Blood Money; Deus Ex; Deus Ex: Human Revolution; Thief II: The Metal Age
Other Interests:
Poker, Sociology, Photography

Where Else To Find Me:

Twitter: @_Malchior_

Steam: -Malchior-

July 2014

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