My bad. It never feels good to start with an apology but that really feels like it’s in order here. The Grind That Annoys has been lying dormant since May. There’s no real excuse for it other than work and real life got in the way but I’m trying to remedy that now. There was a bunch of records I’ve been meaning to cover in some respects so here’s a roundup of some stuff from the last three months or so that I wanted to touch on. There’ll be some fresher updates soon. Will there be consistent updates? That I can’t promise I’m afraid.
Envy – Atheist’s Cornea
Envy have been disappointingly quiet over the last five years with 2010’s Recitation feeling like a distant memory at this stage. Atheist’s Corner, the Japanese band’s sixth full-length, fills that post rock-tinged screamo void with aplomb. Loaded with eight new slabs of bleeding heart emotion, Atheist’s Cornea may stick with a familiar formula but its resolve (and shameless catchiness) is undeniable.
Tetsuya Fukagawa’s impassioned vocal performance speaks for itself as always. Most listeners mightn’t know what he’s singing about but the desire and poignancy of his work speaks all languages. Meanwhile the riffs sway from frantic strumming, with their infectious jangly tone, heard on opener ‘Blue Moonlight’, to sonorous walls of sound that would have Mogwai blushing like on ‘Ticking Time and String’, a particular standout from this record that’s one of the band’s finest penned tunes to date.
Atheist’s Cornea is definitely a triumphant return for the band, top to bottom, with little or no filler. It explores the band’s more aggressive tendencies while not alienating the frail melodies they’ve become known for.
KEN Mode – Success
An appropriate title if there ever was one, KEN Mode have deserved every bit of success that has come their way over the last few years though it has been a little unexpected.
While the Canadian noise trio has several records under their belt, it was 2011’s career-best record (at the time) Venerable and 2013’s Season of Mist debut Entrench that placed them firmly on people’s radar. Now a few years in, the band has set about once again reinvigorating themselves with Success.
It still has the familiar sounds of past records but there’s an altogether stronger vibe akin to that of pioneering noise rock bands with the metallic hardcore tones turned down just a couple of notches. Vocalist Jesse Matthewson has gone full-on weird on Success too, shifting from rickety spoken word verses to hardcore barks at a moment’s notice while never losing memorability (see ‘These Tight Jeans’). KEN Mode’s future looks pretty good, or odd, whichever works.
Goatsnake – Black Age Blues
In 2015 just how many reunion metal records are left to come? Goatsnake, the much-loved stoner doom band, has been quiet since the Trampled Under Hoof EP in 2004 while guitarist Greg Anderson has become more known as one half of Sunn O))) and the head of Southern Lord.
Thankfully it seems that the band hasn’t missed a step with their return Black Age Blues. It’s heavy and catchy in equal measure where the smoky doom is perfectly offset by tasty riffs on every track evidenced by the near perfect one-two of openers ‘Another River to Cross’ and ‘Elevated Man’.
Cloud Rat – Qliphoth
In 2013 Cloud Rat released what was easily the grind record of the year (and an album of the year contender by any standard really) – Moksha. The Michigan band, after one previous LP and a string of smaller releases, had definitely found a niche of their own. Their visceral but emotional grindcore was largely unparalleled with early emo influences seeping through its grinding pores. Following up your best piece of work is no easy task then.
Qliphoth doesn’t have the same raw feelings as Moksha, lacking the slight element of surprise that it had. But that’s to be expected. Nevertheless, vocalist Madison Marshall sounds every as violent and passionate as ever, stealing the show again.
Steve Von Till – A Life Unto Itself
Nearly three years on from the last Neurosis album, many of the members have returned to flirting with various solo albums and side projects, as is their wont. When it comes to extra-curricular activity, Steve Von Till hasn’t been as prominent in recent years. A Life Unto Itself marks his return to rustic acoustic work released under his own name.
The familiar barren atmospheres and gravelly tones of Von Till’s voice are to be found in spades like the lonely bar stool in the corner vibe of the title track and when the eerie magic of ‘Chasing Ghosts’ seeps into the fray, it’s truly something special. Each of these dirges shows Von Till sounding his most vulnerable but oddly cathartic at the same time. It’s a common theme in his solo work but this is easily his best work (not bearing the Neurosis name) to date.
In can you missed them: