Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Loud Noises Indefinite Hiatus (Frowny Face)

     Oh hey there. Haven't seen you in a while -- through no fault of yours, of course. That's actually what I'm here to talk about today. It is with a proverbial heavy heart (and a literal heavy beard) that I follow in the footsteps of some of our favourite bands and announce that Loud Noises is going (or has already gone) on indefinite hiatus.
     Any of you regular readers that I'm always jokingly referring to (if indeed there are any of you) will no doubt have noticed that the frequency of posts here at the blog has really dropped off, and indeed dried up completely, over the last several months. Fortunately for me, this hasn't been because of some huge, earthshaking event in my life (those tend to be a tad on the negative side) but rather just the steady accumulation of little stuff. My search for steady employment anywhere near my field (which is ancient history -- good luck with that, right?), my quest to get some of my other, non-metal-blog-related writing published, even my recovery from a couple of cold-and/or-flu-related mucus fests over the winter -- I could bore you with a laundry list of excuses, of shit that keeps pushing other things further and further back in the queue.
     But the bottom line is that I feel like I'm perhaps spreading myself a little too thin, and as the saying goes, 'jack of all trades, master of none'. As much as I've tried to produce good content for any of you out there interested in reading it, the fact that this blog is just a hobby for me, more or less, has put a pretty hard cap on the amount of time I can dedicate to it. In the four years since I started Loud Noises that sliver of time has slowly and steadily eroded away, to the point that I have been struggling to muster the time and energy required to write the kind of stuff for Loud Noises that I want to write. That's not really fair to any of us, and it's a situation that's got to change. To paraphrase that "jack of all trades" things, I've been trying to half-ass a number of things for too long, and it's time to throw my whole ass into something.
     So, what does this mean for you, dear reader? Well, in the short term, virtually nothing, as I've haven't been posting on here for a while now, and that's not going to change any time soon. The outlook long-term is a little murkier; in a perfect world, I'd love to come back to Loud Noises and pick up where I'm leaving off, and maybe even implement some of the ideas I've had over the years that I've just never had the time or momentum to try out. But that perfect world would have to include a good deal more financial and schedule stability, as well as a healthy dose of disposable free time, so the stars may unfortunately never quite align.
     For the time being at least, then, this is a fond farewell. Thanks for stopping by once in a while to check out my two cents on the wide world of music, and the crazy corner of that world that we call metal. Now's your chance to catch up on all the reading you might have missed -- more than 1300 posts worth over the last four years. Better get started.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Sunday the 21st (of February): Thrice - Blood on the Sand

     In the vein of new music, I'm very excited to be able to write a post featuring new music from this band. I've been a fan of Thrice for longer than I've know most of my current group of friends; they're one of those bands that's been with me through a lot, so I was disheartened, to say the least, when I read about the band's hiatus back in 2012.

     Even though the band was clear about this not being the end of Thrice, we've all heard that one before. So last year's rumblings of new material from Thrice camp delighted me, and this year's news of title, release date, and first single have me just tickled. "Blood on the Sand", the first single from the forthcoming To Be Everywhere is To Be Nowhere, is a short, sharp slice of relatively straightforward post-rock that will likely once again polarize Thrice fans somewhat. Fans looking for a return to the band's older, heavier sound will continue to be disappointed here, but fans who've been willing participants in the band's experimental evolution should enjoy the new-but-familiar direction that the band seems headed in next. Have a listen and see what you think.

Saturday the 20th (of February): Circles - Sand and Wind

     Just because I'm super far behind doesn't mean I don't still get to feature the latest and greatest from some great bands. Imagine if I limited myself to stuff I'd heard by the supposed date of these posts? I'd be even worse off, no doubt.

     I am, however, definitely better off for hearing the newest track from the Australian prog djentlemen in Circles. No solid word yet on when their next disc will be out (other than a general "this year" posted in response to a question on Facebook), but if the band's latest single is any indication, it should be a fitting follow-up to the band's debut LP Infinitas. "Sand and Wind" is an expertly-balanced showing of melodic and groovy djent-prog. Album number two could be a big one for Circles; they just need to write a bunch more rockers like this one.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Friday the 19th (of February...): Sumac - Rigid Man

     Time for a big ol' Easter slab of crushingly heavy blackened post metal courtesy of supergroup-of-sorts Sumac (even though, yes, this is supposed to be a post for near the end of February instead of near the end of March...)

      Featuring members of Baptists, Russian Circles, and Isis, Sumac might just be the most super supergroup you've never heard of. Their bands of origin should give listeners a clue as to the talent at work in Sumac, but the best part of the whole thing might be that they sound here like their own own heavy-ass beast. Their sophomore disc What One Becomes drops in June, but massive first single "Rigid Man" can bludgeon you into submission right this minute. Of particular note is the big riff that brings things back from the breakdown late in the song -- tasty!

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Thursday the 18th (of February): The Contortionist - Cortical

     I'm only going back a couple of years for this Throwback Thursday post, but that doesn't make it any less of a corker. Yes, I just said corker. I'm old. And apparently British inside. Any road, we're headed back to 2012 for a track from The Contortionist's sophomore LP Intrinsic.

     "Cortical" is a great example of the kind of progressive metal blend happening on Intrinsic -- soft synthwaves lapping up against angular space djent beaches. This song finds itself in a weird little groove by the end of it, with a sort of jazzy, down-tempo lead going over it, and it's all these disparate influences that seem to make a Contortionist record, cropping up here and there. Intrinsic is a different beast than 2010's Exoplanet, and different still from 2014's Language, so what new material from these guys would sound like is anyone's guess. But hey, that's a two-year album cycle right there, so maybe 2016 will see some new stuff, and a new twist, from The Contortionist.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Wednesday the 17th (of February): Wintergatan - Marble Machine

     There's a decent chance you've already seen my next pick for you, given that it's been making the internet rounds lately, even gracing "mainstream" news sites and Facebook feeds for a couple of days. But this piece of music is the product of such a feat of design and engineering that I can't help but point you at it again. And hey, this is a Wednesday post, so it's alliterative too!

     I've posted about eclectic Swedish indie band Wintergatan before (back when I discovered their beautiful piece of vaguely chiptuney instrumental electro-sounding pop "Sommarfagel") but the latest development from this creative group of Swedes is, if possible, more mesmerizing. "Marble Machine" (I don't know if this song of sorts has any other title than that) is a weirdly infectious track, a bass-and-vibraphone driven piece of lullaby-pop-funk. And if that weren't enough, the whole thing is produced by a hand-cranked Rube Goldberg-ian monster that took more than a year to design and build.

     This is one that you're really going to have to watch as well as listen to in order to get the full effect, but goddamn if it isn't awesome in the most legitimate sense of the word. If your crusty metal heart isn't moved to fall into the head-bopping groove of this one, well, I'm afraid I've done about all I can for you.

Tuesday the 16th (of February): Latitudes - Ordalian

     Any Loud Noises reader who's been doing their homework should know by now that I'm a fan of instrumental metal, which means that I'm always excited to find new instrumental bands who're doing something cool other than just eschewing vocals. And while the Brits in Latitudes aren't necessarily blowing the doors off the instrumental genre (hell, their latest release Old Sunlight blasphemes with some singing) they certainly have brewed up a cocktail that's right up my alley.

     Old Sunlight is a semi-instrumental slice of post-metal that's got all kinds of other genres and sub-genres mixed in -- there's some blackened bits, some cinematic swells, some gloomy sludge, and a whole host of other touches that combine into something balanced between heavy and beautiful. This album definitely benefits from being heard as one sprawling musical journey, so I'm going to let Latitudes do the convincing and just start you off with Old Sunlight's first epic track, "Ordalian". Enjoy.