Junior Bruce - The Headless King
These days, we as consumers of art and what passes for culture, are constantly being inundated with music and information from every concievable angle; every day, every waking hour, everywhere. Especially online where just about everything is available for free and with almost no effort and close to no expense, it's so easy to get drowned in the sheer number of available musical releases and artistical outlets. This deluge very often has negative side effects, such as numbing the listener to the point of fatigue, shortening the attention span to mere second snippets of songs and creating a general inability to appreciate quality and the effort that goes into the creative process. Every once in a while an artist or a band comes around that somehow has the ability to pierce through that thick, fuzzy, white noise wall of sound, information and imagery and grab ahold of your attention despite everything. Junior Bruce is one of those bands.
Sporting members from such hardcore legends as Bloodlet and Hope & Suicide (another sadly overlooked band) this act has that whole supergroup kind of feel to it (especially in the online blurbs) even though that was probably never the intention. And quite honestly, whenever the word supergroup is being tossed around I usually try not to get my hopes up too high, because the general outcome of those kinds of affairs are, more often than not, both disappointing and less than stellar. Here, however the band seem to do just about everything right. The music on display here is rock solid bare-to-the-bones metal with a huge dose of these-old-fucks-know-what-they're-doing feel going, with tons of AMAZING riffs and grooves. Junior Bruce's sound incorporate the slick yet fuzzy winding, riffage of HEAVY stoner rock, the intensity (and occasionally the speed) of hardcore and the melodies and framework of metal and fuses everything into a beast completely of their own. These songs are instantly accessible and head-nod inducing, while still being complex enough to require repeated spins. The first minute of opening track Defeatist had me immediately convinced I was onto to something great here and I quickly shut down the online stream of the album that was available on one site or another, and contacted A389 to get ahold of a proper digital copy of the album (will most definately be buying the vinyl version as soon as possible). Online streams are great as promotional tools but they only get you, as a fan, so far. I needed to have this available to me everywhere, on my computer, on my iPod, on CD etc etc. Because this is one of those albums that you easily get obsessive about. I had a stint of obssessive compulsive attatchment to Clutch's Blast Tyrant album a few years back, playing it over and over again (for a while, probably a good six months, it was the only thing I listened to) and I have a feeling The Headless King might be the album I relapse with into that whole obssessive state again.
Anyway, Junior Bruce is a band of veterans, and as such they know how to chisel down music to it's core and use brevity rather than endless wankery as a way to hook you. As I've said before, one or two amazing riffs and hooks in a song trumps ten weak ones every time; it's better to keep shit brief and to the point and rock the shit out everything in three minutes flat than to noodle away forever with fifty-fifty material. This is some of the solidest rocking metal I've heard in a looong while. The riffs are immediately recognizable and memorable, the rythm section is solid and to the point, the vocals are done in a gruff singing/shouting voice that works really well along with the material. There are other influences at work here, obviously, other than pure heavy metal, but they're neatly folded into the music to become something unique. I can't really draw any comparisons to other artists, except to say that Junior Bruce makes me think of bands like Only Living Witness, Kylesa, Helmet and Stompbox, even though they're only vaguely similar to either one. Another amazing release, cementing A389, as one of the spearhead labels of modern heavy music.
Aussitôt Mort - Nagykaniza
2012, Destructure Records
These french fellows blew me away clean, first time I heard them. Not having done any research whatsoever into the band or their music (being the lazy bastard that I am) I was honestly expecting something completely different - some sort of shoegaze/black metal fusion or modern take on metallic hardcore, perhaps. What Aussitôt Mort does is nowhere close to any of that. They play a very atmospheric, heavy and dense kind of post-metal/post-hardcore style with lots of slowly expanding songs where melody and aggression gets equal coverage. There's a musicianship on display here that's quite simply amazing. There are tons of grooves, dissonant swirls and lots of almost tribal drumming running alongside amazing guitar work, lush melodies and great rumbling bass flurries, in an almost Isis- or Breach-like musical construct, that's not really easy to pin down. The vocal parts are sparse and rare (although very effective), but that's ok beause the music's what's really important here. This is introspective and meditative music, although often very intense, that requires both attention and time to fully explore and experience, a rare thing these days. I am wholly impressed. If you're in to Neurosis, Jesu, Isis, Cult Of Luna, Breach or any of their likes, you should definately check these dudes out. Some of their earlier work is available for free download at their bandcamp site, here. Buy here.