Good afternoon, friends; Happy Monday and Happy New Year to you all!
Now that my Top 21 of 2021 list is complete (it was published right as the clock struck midnight on New Years Eve, so, I’m proud to say, this has been the first time in quite a long time — maybe like nine years? — that the year-end list was ready AT the actual end of the year!), I’m setting my sights on checking out all the new 2022 releases that have been pouring in, so I can start sharing them with all you lovely people.
But as always, there’s still a bunch of cleanup to do, plenty of releases from last year (as well as from years past) that we’ve missed discussing, and I’d like to start today by offering two of those for your listening pleasure.
Kite – Currents (Majestic Mountain Records, 08 October 2021)
So Hideous – None But a Pure Heart Can Sing (Silent Pendulum Records, 03 December 2021)
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In early 2020 when we last heard from Norwegian trio Kite, my write-up of then-new LP Irradiance highlighted their hypnotic, dark and gritty post-hardcore grooves. If you enjoyed that release, or if this seems like it would be your kind of thing, their new (2021) record Currents brings nine new songs in a similar vein.
Whereas the opening track “Idle Lights” starts things off ominously slowly, with a rumbly bass and echoey guitar (and later, the opening of “Infernal Trails” reintroduces those same vibes), most of the album builds upon a blend of prog metal riffs and chuggy rhythms; elements of post-metal/post-grunge with impassioned shout-singing.
The overall sound here seems to be leaning more in a post-hardcore/noise-rock direction than the post-hardcore/grunge favored on their last album. But the distinction is basically negligible; it would be fair to say if you’re a fan of either Rebreather or Kowloon Walled City, you really couldn’t go wrong with either 2020 or 2021 Kite!
Another band that has previously been written about on this website is So Hideous from Brooklyn, New York. In 2016 I talked about their 2015 release Laurestine as well as its subsequent orchestral-only version. Although the band itself primarily came across as blackened-post-hardcore, the piano and orchestra underpinnings prompted comparisons to artists such as Alan Parsons and Pink Floyd.
With None But a Pure Heart Can Sing, released exactly one month ago today, So Hideous have returned — new rhythm section in tow — with another half hour worth of symphonic post-black goodness.
Right out the gates, “Souvenir (Echo)” delivers the yelling and heaviness and ugliness; naturally there are still bits of orchestration and piano here, but mostly hardcore and blackness, and in a few sections the drums and guitar and violins are all blastbeating or tremolo-picking/bowing furiously in unison.
After that, the band tends to venture all over the map stylistically: “The Emerald Pearl” starts with some western-twangy guitars, but then the song more resembles the orchestral score from a 70s action movie with its exciting trumpet blasts and intriguingly sultry saxophone. Unexpected twists and turns characterize each subsequent track; sometimes epic symphonic blackened hardcore, sometimes with traces of heavy doom chords, and sometimes more like over-the-top classic rock.
Although at times it seems like this album can’t quite decide exactly what it wants to be, it’s definitely a “greater than the sum of its parts” situation. As well as a case where you kind of need to hear it yourself to really appreciate it.
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