Odds and Ends is a segment where I do brief reviews of albums I either didn’t prioritize for longer-form reviews, or ones for which I don’t have that much to say.
Band: Cheeto’s Magazine | Album: Amazingous | Genre: Progressive rock, Pop, Progressive metal | Bandcamp
This album was a disorienting experience. Cheeto’s Magazine blend sunshiny pop with metal riffs and complex structures. The closest analogue I can think of would be A.C.T., though this has an even more aggressively poppy edge. The songwriting is consistently ambitious, and there are some moments reminiscent of Dream Theater’s better output. I give them a lot of credit for ambition, but the juxtaposition of metal with those bubblegum synths is often jarring.
Band: IER | Album: うずまき | Genre: Black metal, Death metal, Post metal | Bandcamp
This album is one huge 42-minute opus which blends a staggering amount of genres together. Black metal, death metal, jazz-fusion, folk, and more make appearances on this album. The constant turmoil holds your attention and keeps pulling you along, submerging you in brutal, complex riffs.
Band: Kaleikr | Album: Heart of Lead | Genre: Black metal, Progressive metal | Bandcamp
Kaleikr play a crushing variety of proggy black metal. The guitar roars forth in huge walls of tremolo-picking and dark, pummeling riffs. Not only is this heavy and complex, it’s highly engaging and features both relatively-straightforward shredding and more ambitious, emotive passages.
Band: Ni | Album: Pantaphobie | Genre: RIO, Zeuhl, Math rock | Bandcamp
Ni return with another dizzying showcase of aggressive, experimental instrumental rock music. Many moments can easily be described as belonging to some strange metal subgenre, a feat rarely achieved well by zeuhl acts. Every song is named after some sort of phobia, and the music conveys that theme perfectly through irregular riffs, unusual chords, and anxious atmospheres.
Band: No Man’s Valley | Album: Outside the Dream | Genre: Space rock, Psychedelic rock | Bandcamp (releases March 22)
The music on this album is driving, bluesy, and groovy while maintaining an exploratory edge. The guitars are echoey and augmented by cosmic keys. This mixes desert blues with space rock in a way that should appeal to fans of both genres. The flow here is great as well, with a nice alternation between the spacey and driving moments.
Band: Pinn Dropp | Album: Perfectly Flawed | Genre: Progressive rock | Bandcamp
Pinn Dropp play a brand of prog rock the draws heavily from acts like Spock’s Beard and Pain of Salvation. It’s highly symphonic prog with the occasional metallic flourish. There are a lot of nice, jazzy undertones here, especially in the synths and bass. However, this album feels so. Damn. Long. The music is enjoyable, but it’s an exhausting listen in part because despite the eclectic little touches here and there, there’s relatively little sonic variation.
Band: Saor | Album: Forgotten Paths | Genre: Post metal, Black metal, Folk metal | Bandcamp
Forgotten Paths features an engaging brand of folk-influenced post-black metal, à la Panopticon or later-era Agalloch. This (mostly) one-man project hails from Scotland and wears it proudly. Celtic flourishes abound throughout this album, in the form of flute, mandolin, violin, and bagpipes. The music is grand and hopeful, but it avoids undue sweetness and corniness. This is one of the strongest metal albums of 2019 so far.