Review: Make a Change… Kill Yourself – IV (Cursed Records, Jan 15)

It’s not exactly a revolutionary idea that longer songs are better suited to certain contexts. An 8-minute long grindcore track would, in most cases, be exhausting and overextended, while a 30-second drone piece would probably feel stunted and unfulfilling. While long songs are not out of place in atmospheric black metal, when a band releases an album consisting only of two side-long tracks it’s usually pretty hit or miss whether or not their duration will be justified. And Make a Change… Kill Yourself’s new tape, IV, is definitely a “hit.” The movement and progression of both songs feel natural and organic, yet just composed enough to not come across as aimless. As the (in my opinion, overly melodramatic) band name would suggest, the atmosphere created on IV is depressive and dark. The guitar tones are simultaneously airy and claustrophobic, and the tortured vocals, despite being mostly unintelligible, communicate anger, hatred, and sadness. Surprisingly, these long form tracks are mostly carried by the drums, whose subtle changes retain interest without drawing too much attention to themselves. As you can probably tell, I went into my first listen of IV not really expecting to like it. But the band overcomes any pigeonholing as a meandering, whiny depressive suicidal black metal act, and reaches impressive heights.

Review: Junko Hiroshige & Pandu – A Collaboration (Gerpfast Kolektif, Feb 8)

In an effort to boost the relevance of my blog and give me more writing material (only one of those reasons is true, I’ll let you guess which), I’ve decided to start reviewing recently released albums. If you have any suggestions for records I should review, please comment on posts or send me an email!

The aptly titled A Collaboration is a dual effort by vocalist Junko Hiroshige of legendary noise band Hijokaidan and Pandu of the more recent project Bergegas Mati. Having loved 2004’s Pinknoise, a collaboration between Junko and noisician/improviser Mattin, I was excited to find this album had a similar format: Junko’s shrill, yipping vocals set against waves of piercing noise. Despite consisting only of a 21-minute track, it’s easily the best harsh noise release I’ve encountered this year, and possibly one of the best I’ve ever heard. Pandu’s contributions are dense and infernal, with chunks of distortion and ear-splitting frequencies roiling and shifting like a demented sonic river. Surprisingly, the piece is anything but static; the dynamics are actually very pronounced, making the track seem even shorter than it actually is – a good thing in this case, because once I’m finished I just want to listen again. It’s always refreshing to hear really great stuff in this genre, especially when it offers the pairing of a personal favorite and a new face.