Thursday, November 7, 2013

New music: Judas Christ, Nostalgique, Craar

Judas Christ- "American Gulag" CS (Male Activity)
This four song cassette marks South Carolina death industrial outfit Judas Christ's debut, and boy is it a handful. Waves of minimalist noise crash back and forth over sparse percussion and shredded howling in opener "Labourgrave." The constant restraint and bare approach are what make "American Gulag" more than just an experiment in horror from another young noise group. It's obvious that these creeps know exactly when and where they want to add the uneasiness and it's the expert control of atmosphere that ultimately makes this such a convincingly dark album. Lyrics seem to focus mostly on the inherently oppressive nature of capitalism, hence the smothering dread all around. This tape is limited to fifty copies and seems to have been selling rather well. Get it from Male Activity while supplies last.

Nostalgique- "Veil" (Self-Released)
Nostalgique is the solo project from a member of Baltimore black metal group Barbelith. This album is a forty minute testament to the potential of the "depressive" black metal subcategory. While groups aiming at sounding bleak usually just sound cheesy to me, there's a buzzsaw-like consistency to the fuzz here that really does it right. There's just enough pain and misery to feel urgent and honest without falling into cliches and the melodramatic suicidal claptrap that surround this otherwise promising community. At moments Nostalgique even delves into the subtle beauty of "Souvenirs" era Alcest, which really broadens things and prevents this release from turning into mindless repetition. This sounds like it was recorded in a small home studio setup, but the rawness is welcome in such a somber release. Isolation reigns supreme here and this makes for a great solo listen. Download it for the price you desire from Nostalgique's bandcamp page.

Craar- "In Solitary Minds" CD (Self-Released)
"In Solitary Minds" is the debut full-length album from Belgian atmospheric black metal group Craar. This album works well on many levels for me, with surprisingly crisp production for a black metal debut and instantly familiar yet original tunes. These guys are working on a slightly bigger feeling sound, with crunchy guitar tones and open chords that resonate endlessly to contrast with black metal that seems to take influence from progressive giants like Enslaved. The overall clarity and largeness of sound do not prevent Craar from buckling down and producing some fast and aggressive black metal, and in fact serve to further accent these chaotic passages. Craar's ambition seems to be to break into the larger black metal community and with an album this well honed and clever, they stand a good chance of receiving more widespread recognition with future releases. Order a CD from the band directly via bandcamp.

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