18 November 2008

Wolves Akimbo!

Less than a week ago, I received two fantastic albums from the mighty Southern Records. Both initially impressed, and both have grown on me ever since. Proper initial thoughts are in the works, but here are some pre-initial thoughts. Hey, if that’s possible anywhere, it’ll be here.

First up is Jersey Shores, the Neurot debut of one Akimbo. Pimped to me (desperately, I might add) on a message board as some metal Chimera combining Converge, Clutch and Mastodon – or something – the album flew under my radar. People started banging on, so I eventually decided to give it a go.

Jersey Shores is an epic, in the proper sense. No 20-minute drone cop-outs here, just well written, dynamic pieces of rock. The premise (there is a premise!) concerns itself with a spate of shark attacks in New Jersey in 1916. The booklet features the lyrics as well as more fleshed out versions of the vignettes.

The music fits the lyrics, one moment ominously calm, when suddenly the frenzy hits and nobody gets out alive. The singing is noteworthy, as it’s not classically good, but brings the feeling, and even gets with the high note roars.

I since learned this is their sixth album, following two on Alternative Tentacles (very Neurosis) and a few more elsewhere. So taken have I been with this record, that I have ordered the previous four on vinyl. Expect obsessing!

The second album, while slightly less impressive at this point, is the still-standout Oceans of Delicate Rain, by Rye Wolves. Like Akimbo, Rye Wolves are a power trio from the Pacific north-west of the United States. Unlike Akimbo, they have just released their debut. Like Akimbo, they sound slightly like Neurosis. Like Akimbo, they are more exciting than Isis, Pelican et al. Again, this will be blogged in due course.

One thing before I go: what is it with these bands and expanses of water? Of course you had Isis with their magnum opus, Oceanic, in 2002. But we’ve also had:

• Ahab – who seem far less fun than Captain Ahab – who released The Call of the Wretched Sea in 2006;
• Mastodon releasing Leviathan in 2004;
Teeth Of The Sea, and their Orphaned by the Ocean this year;
• German band The Ocean, who started out with Islands/Tides, in 2001 (predating Oceanic!)

And now we have this pair. It wouldn’t surprise me to find out there are more examples of this trend, though I don’t expect a Reynoldsian level of reaction to this. Of course, we can logically trace this line back to Neurosis. They had the track ‘Become the Ocean’ on Through Silver in Blood, and Nick Terry specifically described them, in a review in October 1997, as ‘oceanic metal’. So put that in your pipe and smoke it. I dunno, it's because the music is supposed to be powerful, but not overtly aggressive. Ebbing and flowing at a monumental scale, right? Apparently.

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