Tag Archives: Album Review

The Joy Formidable – Wolf’s Law (2013)

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For my money, The Joy Formidable are one of the most interesting and exciting bands to come out of the rock scene in the last decade. For all the hipster clichés that inhabit so much music that is lauded by so many alleged faux-authorities on indie rock, TJF actually feel like the real deal, making diverse, original and loud rock music. Blending indie aesthetics with fuzzed up psychedelia and an attitude akin to My Bloody Valentine or Sonic Youth, with a Smashing Pumpkins type melancholy also present in their style. At least that was their debut album, 2011’s The Big Roar and prior EP, A Balloon Called Mourning. The much-anticipated follow-up from the Welsh trio, Wolf’s Law, shifts their stance bit. Having received a decent amount of exposure and attention in independent circles due to those extraordinary releases, the band have capitalised and by the sounds of it, endeavoured to see where they can take this “thing”, producing an album much more streamlined, polished and filled with songs that almost sound unremarkable in comparison to earlier work. Is it a “safe” second album? Maybe, as it will possibly garner a fresh fan base, but is it a compromised and crap album then? Well, not at all, but it may take a while to appreciate what, if any type of achievement Wolf’s Law is. The core members of the band have been around longer than it seems, and here and now, shenanigans are over and we have a serious attempt at breaking through.

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Ministry – Relapse (2012)

It is fairly problematic to rate Ministry albums of late. To be more precise, every album since the release of 2003’s Animositisomina. The underrated long player that was the last involving Al Jourgensen’s bassist and partner in crime, Paul Barker, before he reached his tolerance with Uncle Al and left. Barker joined Jourgensen in the mid 80’s and was integral in co-creating the band’s best and most defining work including The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste and the vastly influential, Psalm 69 from 1992. Guitarists Mike Scaccia and Tommy Victor remain the only consistent members alongside Al since the split with the void filled by a handful of session and tour musicians that varies from almost album to album. Four new recordings – not including the cover albums – have been released without Barker and in his contributing absence, the first three ranged from average (The Last Sucker) to good (Houses of the Mole), but essentially inconsistent and certainly don’t reach the heights of the legacy that Jourgensen and Barker shaped and are now forever judged against by long-time fans. Unfortunately, but perhaps not surprisingly, Relapse is no different.

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Mastodon – The Hunter (2011)

Of the newer breed of hard rock/metal bands to emerge in the last decade, Mastodon it seems have an aura around them which grants a unique anticipation whenever a new album is announced. The four enigmatic figures that make up the Atlanta quartet are unique unto themselves as well; extremely charismatic, funny, intelligent and minus chips on their shoulders; they carry an enthusiasm for playing and producing music that rubs off on all that call themselves followers of the band. Their discography (of which 2011’s The Hunter is their fifth official long player, but sixth proper release overall) reflects their attitude and musicianship better than most of their peers. All this combined breeds a group that is massively respected by their contemporaries, fans and critics alike. So after over two years since their proggy behemoth, Crack the Skye was released, and much discussion regarding the band’s musical direction, Hunter is out in the world and ultimately, it is possibly the best indicator of where Brann, Brent, Troy and Bill are with their skills and vision as well as serving as an almost justification for their refusal to repeat themselves. Sprawling concept album ideas are on hold this time; tight, self-contained tracks with plenty of chest hair are the order of the day.

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