Fuck me, there is a LOT of music out in the world.
Readers, friends, partisans: I do not know where thoughts come from. I had thought to open this column with Shakespeare, as if disguised with Henry V at Agincourt, or perched atop the battlements of Elsinore attending the ghost of Hamlet’s father, thinking, as Horatio, of how Caesar’s assassination was forewarned by an eclipse, during which “[t]he graves stood tenantless and the sheeted dead / Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets.”
But my mind turned to sport. (Or mush, I suppose.) Perhaps we begin as if poised on the starting blocks. Or we freeze time at the precise moment the tennis ball is motionless at the top of the serve. After all, who can forget the stirring tennis anthem Tina Turner performed at the Australian Open, “What’s Love Got to Do with It?”
You didn’t ask for the reason behind this nonsense, but I will tell you. (And yes, “You didn’t ask, but I will tell you” is the basic energy of this column.) The reason is: music is good and here are some good music things. Please to be enjoying, and then go out into the wide world and prosper.
Fuck you, why not go listen to some of THIS music?
7 H. Target – Yantra Creating
I don’t know if this lands in Russian, but I sure would be tickled if 7 H. Target was a beefier offshoot of the U.S. youth agriculture organization 4-H. In the hands of these Nizhny nutters, the 4-H motto of “head, heart, hands, and health” would surely be expanded to “head, heart, hands, health, hatred, hostility, and huge swinging balls.”
The hatred and hostility comes from, well, 7 H. Target’s entire thing, which is a punishingly technical but also brutally slamming death metal. The huge swinging balls come from… well, let’s see, when a guitar and a drum set really love each other…
Hello, fuck you! Please do not seek your sex education from a slamming tech-death band. Having a well-qualified instructor can really make a vas deferens. Hey, also, there’s some music here. Thirty-five minutes of it, but probably about two hundred minutes’ worth of notes, and about a billion minutes’ worth of stank face. If you cannot tell, the point is that Yantra Creating is rowdier than your neighbor’s dog after scarfing a 10-pack of Viagra and getting loose in a department store to hump all the mannequins to death.
The album’s greatest asset, really, is that it is both smarterer and more stupider than you think it is. Listen to the 4-minute mark of “Askeza” and tell me you could do that. You couldn’t! Listen to the ritualistic diversion of “Shiva Yajur Mantra,” with its Indian percussion and vocalization atop a background of squiggling guitar and tell me you would do that. You wouldn’t! Listen to the entire fucking album and tell me you shouldn’t listen to it again right away. You should! You could! YOU COULD DO IT RIGH T F U CKI N G NOOOOOOOOOOW.
Oksät – Defiænt
Did you know that Quorthon wrote “Baptized in Fire and Ice” as a bid to win the role of spokesman for Icy Hot? Sure, Shaquille O’Neal landed the deal instead, but Quorthon got him back by being the Orlando Magic’s true first-round draft pick in ‘92. (Fuck you, Wikipedia, Quorthon only stepped down to spare Shaq’s feelings.)
The reason I tell you this is that sometimes I just get an idea in my head, and it needs to come out, and I suspect that Mexico’s Oksat might feel the same way. Defiaent is a fully instrumental album from this project that could be the work of one person or of ten people but is clearly the work of a restless, hungry creativity. For example, lead track “180, 360, 540, 720” has blast beats, surf guitar, chuggy breakdown riffing, hand claps, a percussion break that sounds like timbales, a polka-like two step, spooky organs, a flamenco-style dual clean guitar section, and probably even more.
This album is a no-brainer (hello, no, fuck you, I am not implying that you have no brain, except that if yours has been snaked out your nose with a hook let us please keep it mum, or at least under wraps) for fans of avant-garde and progressive artists like Sigh, Devin Townsend, and Solefald, and at times the closest (still far distant) comparison is to a Latin take on Thy Catafalque by way of Cloudkicker.
Oksat can be funky, progressive, metallic, laidback, danceable, and pretty much any mood in and around those spaces. Several songs use vibraphones. Two of the songs hit gated drum lead-ins almost exactly like Phil Collins’s “In the Air Tonight.” “Faux King” makes great use of its stuttering drum programming, but also uses something like tuba and even dips into an aquatic sort of reggae towards the end.
Simply put, this is the most omnivorous album you are likely to encounter. It sounds like a little bit of everything, which means it sounds like nothing else at all. Technically, I cannot tell you what to do, but SPIRITUALLY, if you do not go toss three dollars at this brilliant album immediately, I cannot be held responsible for the lawsuit that results when you try to tell all your dumbass friends about how the lead track on Blood Fire Death was supposed to be called “Oneals Dunk over Nordland.”
Demonic Being – Invocations from the Ancient Path
The “ancient path” sounds like pretty serious business, but maybe that’s just because Invocations from the Busted Old Dirt Road doesn’t quite have the same ring. I am sorry, but no, this is not a transportation infrastructure seminar. This is a heavy metal thing! Demonic Being is a relatively new black metal band from Mexico, and this is their debut album. Well, the band is apparently calling this an EP, but at 38 minutes of all-killer no-filler go-gett’r, I don’t know. But whatever: they say po-tay-toe, I say po-fuck-you.
However rudely you slice it, Invocations is high-quality second wave black metal, with extremely intense vocals and a nice array of influences and styles. The opening track is particularly fierce and melodic and feels very Swedish-leaning, while “Sacrifice” feels like older Bathory (not a cover) by way of Dissection. At other times, Demonic Being has a slightly more Finnish air, like on the sinister cadence of “My Throne” that sounds like a slowed-down Behexen or Azaghal. And then to top it, “Mistic Journey” closes things out on a melancholy note, with forlorn guitar leads over a striding rhythm that feels akin to Immortal’s “In My Kingdom Cold.” If you do not think that is an excellent thing, then I am not sure how to help you.
Home Front – Games of Power
Apropos of very little (yes, this is what we have screenprinted on the Ford F-150 and Forever 21 Fuck You Friday staff t-shirts), Leonard Cohen’s 1974 album New Skin for the Old Ceremony might put you in an appropriate headspace to encounter the unstoppably brilliant debut album from Home Front. In point of fact, it will do no such thing, but the mental derangement of our Employee of the Fuck You Month continues.
Hello! Home Front, like Leonard Cohen, are Canadian, but it is a very large country and it is rude of you to draw any other conclusions. Games of Power is the Edmonton (mostly) duo’s first album (following an, erm, powerful 12” in 2021), and the entire reason I went down a silly Leonard Cohen rabbit hole is that Home Front play a compelling new version of several very old styles. The basic frame here is post-punk, but there are aspects of goth, punk, new wave, and synthpop, which means that your cleverest of ears, (d)ear listener, will pick up on the Cure, New Order, very early U2, Echo and the Bunnymen, New Model Army, and Joy Division (particularly on the cheekily named “End Transmission”). Songs like “Nation” and “Crisis” carry a rougher street punk attitude, while on more synth-forward songs like the title track there’s an early Depeche Mode vibe.
Influences aside, Games of Power is an incredible album in its own right, with impeccable songwriting that unspools anthem after anthem, brilliant production, and desperate, impassioned performances. I have tried, in my way, to be free of foolishness, but fuck you, please listen to Home Front.
Strider – Midnight Zen
Yes, the band is called Strider, so I assume right along with you that about halfway through the album the band will expect to be called Aragorn. But here’s the return of the thing: Midnight Zen is one of those albums of such fuzzy, psyched-out blues bliss that although each song moves in its distinct orbit, the whole is a unified, working model of a solar system designed for the express purpose of opening those stubbornest closed doors of your mind and blasting your consciousness to a plane where all that is and ever was lives to ride a groove that limns the ever-expanding universe.
The north star, as you might predict, is the constellation formed by the likes of Kyuss, Dozer, Earthless, Elder, et al. Is that an amplified banjo at the start of the title track? Or are Strider just so good at what they do that even the squarest of listeners (hello, fuck you, that’s me) gets a contact high that induces the most pleasant of auditory hallucinations? Entirely beside the point is that the title of the closing song (“Molly the Holly”) makes me incapable of not hearing Black Sabbath’s “Zero the Hero” and proposing additional possibilities: “Whiskey the Frisky,” “Michael the Cycle,” “Cyrus the Virus,” “Heather the Pleather.”
The confidence and fluency of this Turkish five-piece is so great that you might actually be mad to learn this is their debut album. I mean, does that make you mad? Probably it should make you glad, because it is nice to enjoy fine music. Why are you yelling? No, ma’am, we do not sell ottomans here. This is a Taco Bell.
Deathsbroom – Quietus
If you ask me – and thank you, I’m glad you did – there simply aren’t enough bands taking up the task of making household chores spooky. Deathsbroom proudly steps – well, sweeps – into the breach, but where are Doomsmop, Chaosvacuum, Plunger Ov Soul Destruction, You Swiffer (But Why)?
Fuck you, enough about me. How are you? How are the folks? Getting ready for spring cleaning, I bet, and if so, why not buff your duff to the surprisingly sharp black metal of Deathsbroom? This smartly concise debut album from an American duo hits its stride early with a fairly pragmatic take on early Gorgoroth (especially Antichrist), but swif(fer)tly blossoms in many unexpected directions. And – Extremely This Is A Bonus Alert – there is no dungeon synth and there is no blackgaze. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall sweep God.
“Vessel I” nails a spidery melodic riff and juts the bass out to paint the corners with interesting shades, while “Vessel III” pulls in some understated electronic beats and warbling vocals that hit a Dodheimsgard vibe. By the time the last proper song “Vessel IV” clatters toward the close, it has landed beautifully on a similar stride to a Nordvis energy like late-period Armagedda or Stilla. If these ideas put a jingle in your dingle, your job is clear: find your nearest Home De(ath)pot and get you a Deathsbroom.