Tuesday, November 18, 2014

THE RETURN

Yes, it's true!


After a year of not really doing anything with The Inarguable, I've decided I should probably bring it back. A few people have asked me to write for their publications (by the way, thank you!), and, while flattering, I didn't feel the same kind of motivation as when I just wrote for myself. I figured abandoning music review stuff would help me concentrate on getting my life on track. You know, moving out of my parents' basement, recording more of my own music, finding a steady job/getting into grad school. Welp, aside from putting out a few new Footpaths releases and going on a mini-tour with a certain spooky death metal band, 2014 has proven itself to be kind of fruitless, and I figured, "Well, Jon, you seem to be in the same place you were at this time a year ago. Why not bring your hobby back to pass the time?"

And I am!

THE STIPULATIONS:

Updates will not be regular (not like they were, anyway). The biggest mistake I made was taking on too many things at once, which really killed my motivation and enthusiasm. This isn't a chore, it's a hobby! I mean, I'm just blogging!

I'm just going to do this by myself. Yes, at any given point I had an ever-changing staff of underlings beneath me, and managing them wasn't the greatest thing ever. The leak of the latest Gris album, which was at the hand of one of my former staff who has yet to reveal himself (meaning, as bossman, I had to take the blame), was really the last nail in the coffin. If there is going to be a mistake as severe and stupid as that, I'd rather know it was my fault as opposed to covering for someone who knowingly did not follow the rules and carelessly discredited me. I've already made my apologies to the label and its representation, but that will always be a black mark on my reliability. No more.

I'm just going to review what I want. Quite a few websites seem to thrive on page views and ego thrusting based on reviewing the big and popular thing. Yeah, it's nice to see a published review in which you agree with the reviewer, but does it really matter? Eh. If I feel the need to say anything publicly and in long-form, it will be here. Yes, even negative reviews, on which I didn't really concentrate in the slightest during my first run here. Recommendations are welcome, but requests will likely be ignored (unless you're really convincing).

It's not about me. I see a lot of music websites using their reviews to justify their music tastes and elevate themselves to some higher plane of "objective music taste elitism," and that's not cool. Music reviews are about the music and the writer's experience with it, not an explanation as to why the writer is an elite being who is the be-all-end-all objective opinion overlord. It's all subjective, but it's also fun to write about stuff. It's a hobby, not masturbation, after all. Most of the population doesn't even care about black metal, anyway.

So there it is. I probably sound like a huge douche, but hey...I'm doing something again!

-Jon

Thursday, April 3, 2014

RIP

2010-2014


For now, at least. I need to find a stable job and not live in my parents' basement anymore. See you on the other side!

-Jon

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

V.'s List of Problems With Lists 2013

This year, something I probably should have figured out a long time ago about lists finally clicked. It's not really the "best album," sure, and it's not just a bunch of personal-incompetence-to-judge issues. It's been obvious for a long time (even in my own posts) that putting an album out in maybe October is the best way to get on a year-end list, sure. The new obvious? People are just listing shit they WISH belonged on the list that didn't fail so horrendously they could ignore it.
Suddenly, I'm really glad The Inarguable has dropped mostly out of the generic list game so I can actually have something to say you haven't read 20 times in the last week. So, here's a list of complaints that DON'T include stuff like "Fleshgod Apocalypse because I don't like it" and "Deafheaven because it's pink and also I don't care." Other people like other stuff. This stuff just factually doesn't belong on best of 2013 lists.


Things That Shouldn't Be On "Best of 2013" Lists

Gorguts - Colored Sands
Yes, it's fucking Gorguts. I love Gorguts. If I were making an "essential metal albums" list, Obscura would be one of the first things I scribbled down. It's glorious.
And Colored Sands is pretty good, too. The soundtrack-romanticism of "The Battle of Chamdo" isn't what I would have expected the Luc Lemay of 15 years ago to do with a string quintet, but it's nice and I hope someone pays Luc to write a soundtrack for their obscure film as a result.
It's not one of the best bloody albums of 2013, though. It's (particularly in terms of overall sound) more like Colin Marston invited Longstreth, Lemay, and Hufnagel to put together a full-band Indricothere (unfamiliar?) album than like a new Gorguts album. I enjoy Indricothere but . . . anyway, Colored Sands is nice and because it's Gorguts and isn't Luc's Lulu Radikult, it's dominating all the lists.


The Body - Master, We Perish
[see my review here]
Okay, this hasn't been on THAT many lists, but it's been on too many. I've hardly seen Christs, Redeemers on any lists so far (maybe one?) and Christs, Redeemers is the crushing work that we were waiting for Chip and Lee to put out so we could forget the 5-song CD-R and mostly neglect Master, We Perish. It's RIDICULOUSLY GOOD. If this were a top-ten list, it'd be a very strong contender for #1. Where is it on the lists? WHERE. And Master, We Perish is pretty decent/good, but I'd only list it if Christs, Redeemers hadn't happened and I'd debate including it. Did nobody listen to Christs, Redeemers? What's going on?



Inquisition - Obscure Verses for the Multiverse
Inquisition is and has always been boring. They're not QUITE the ideal example of why I hated most black metal for the first several years of my exposure to it, but they've got most of that going on. All the clichés, chords instead of riffs, boring drum beats, bleating uninterested vocals? Check. And they don't have bass. I mean, for a black metal band, they didn't make their sound as unpleasantly thin as they might have, and this album's a step up in sound, but some token distorted ratty boring basslines that sometimes cut out would've added some interest.
For quite some time (well, most of 2008), I gave them the benefit of the doubt based on repeated assurances that they were "intense" live. I don't know why everyone uses "intense" to describe them. It's possible that the sheepherd is merely bleating/believing what other sheep said. Then I saw them. And I nearly fell asleep despite being well-rested. I've had BATHROOM VISITS more intense. Thumbs down.
P.S. Obscure Verses even has chord progressions that sound like poorly-constructed pop ballads.

Black Sabbath - 13

It doesn't matter. It's not particularly interesting or great or anything. If it were a new band, nobody would care (they'd turn it down for that Uncle Acid album). I didn't want to listen to metal before Sabbath, but . . . it's a whole album of the bonus new studio tracks from Reunion. Yay? Whatever.












Vhöl - Vhöl
It's a weak mix of mostly 30-year-old riffs and melody+blasts. "Melodic" gets specified in subgenres for a reason--it's a warning to get the fuck away. Feel the need to include one of Mike Scheidt's random supergroups? Go check out Lumbar, which is heavy and solid and actually a desirable listen. I don't give a damn who's playing sloppy d-beats on your album. Vhöl is just okay and moderately annoying to listen to.








Things That Should Have Been On "Best of 2013" Lists, But Mostly Weren't

The Body - Christs, Redeemers

Seriously. Do I need to continue this? It's everything that made The Body suddenly popular with All The Waters of the Earth Shall Turn to Blood, made better and fresher and heavier and more enveloping. It has all the satisfying songwriting that Master, We Perish and even moreso the 5-song CD-R didn't really manage to deliver with the perfected version of the sound development they worked on through those two releases. The title looks very hand-sharpie'd, but it's a glorious record. Glorious.








Wormed - Exodromos
This is a pretty clear-cut case of "too early in the year." I guess nobody can remember as far back as March. It's Wormed. It's everything it's supposed to be, not a dismal attempt that isn't quite dismal enough to pass up. It should be on lists Gorguts/Sabbath style at least (for being a Wormed album that doesn't completely blow), but it actually deserves to be on lists because it's good.









Defeated Sanity - Passages Into Deformity

This one's kind of a margin case--it's more accurate to say it was missing from all the lists made by journalists. For some reason, it doesn't seem to be having any problem showing up on lists that journalism-outlets wrangle out of musicians. I wonder why. Maybe it's really good or something. MAYBE. Maybe it's one of the best death metal albums of the year, certainly outperforming Portal's "Vexovoid" (which I have nothing against, though I know Jon would probably put it first on his hate list this year), which seems to be on every list ever. Wait, Exodromos and Passages are both on Willowtip. Is there a conspiracy against Willowtip? Are they doing a shit job of promotion despite having amazing albums? Is it completely The Inarguable's fault for completely failing somehow to review albums we love? Hmm.




Love,
V. who hates everything

In no particular order, more of the best albums I personally failed to review this year (which is assuredly missing many more):
Pandelis Karayorgis Quintet - "Circuitous" (Driff Records)
The Ames Room - "In St. Johann" (Gaffer Records)
Suzuki Junzo - "Portrait of Medeleine Elster" (Utech Records)
Colin Webster - "Antennae" (Gaffer Records)
Tim Daisy Trio - "A Fine Day in Berlin" (Relay Recordings)
Brötzmann/Drake - "Solid and Spirit" (Nero's Neptune)
Wooley/Yeh/Chen/Carter - "NCAT" (Monotype Records)
Trumpets & Drums - "Live in Ljubljana" (Clean Feed)
Minton/Chen - "By the Stream" (Sub Rosa)
Olivia Block - "Karren" (Sedimental)

And more of the best albums The Inarguable failed to review this year:
Common Eider, King Eider - "Taaleg Uksur" (Caribou People) and "Earth Liver" (Black Horizons)
Kinit Her - "Hyperion" (Pesanta Urfolk) and "Cavern Stanzas" (Reue Um Reue)
Low - "The Invisible Way" (Sub Pop)
Bonnie "Prince" Billy - "Bonnie 'Prince' Billy" (Palace Records)
Castevet - "Obsian" (Profound Lore)
Ulcerate - "Vermis" (Relapse Records)
UlverTromsø Chamber Orchestra - "Messe I.X-VI.X" (Neuropa/Jester Records)
Kayo Dot - "Hubardo" (Ice Level Music)

P.S. - Bear in mind that we covered so little stuff this year that most of it (Burning Tree, Trees, Gris, Devotion, Kinit Her, Merkstave, Cara Neir, etc. etc.) is among our favorite stuff of the year. This has been a glorious year for new releases.

Bonus: Pop Music That Shouldn't Be On Lists
. . . my day job keeps me informed.
Justin Timberlake - 20/20 blah blah and "Mirrors"
Robin Thicke et al - "Blurred Lines"
Katy Perry - "Roar"
Music video or no, "offensive" (I really hope the metal kids reading this weren't offended by this) performances or no, Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" is a great song, performed well. And there's a bunch more reasonable pop stuff--we can count Lana Del Rey's "Summertime Sadness" because the remix has made it popular this year, and there's a bunch of other stuff that was pretty okay. Even some great bass grooves (Bruno Mars' "Treasure") are preferable to some of the sleazy and/or boring crap that's getting more recognition.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

VIDEO INTERVIEW: 65daysofstatic (Paul Wolinski and Joe Shrewsbury) at the Beat Kitchen, Chicago



"65daysofstatic is 65daysofstatic."

Anyone with whom I've talked has probably experienced my compulsion to over-examine  every thought that I express (usually at the expense of a conversation's natural flow), carefully assembling literal and figurative language to ensure that each thought is conveyed as efficiently and accurately as possible.  Well, during the past three weeks, England's ......... *sigh* "instrumental post-rock" band 65daysofstatic has been a damn baffling spouse, putting my expressive skills to the test.  I have listened to their entire [studio] discography multiple times, shuffled as well as chronologically, and read almost every written piece concerning the group.  But after a long, unsuccessful voyage through a labyrinth of rhetoric and a several botched elaborate metaphors, the best description of 65daysofstatic that I could find is the tautological statement found at the beginning of this editorial as well as written in the liner notes of their Wild Light album, released this year via Superball.  

Sure, 65day plays "instrumental post-rock" and have all the qualifying characteristics:  dramatic crescendos; grandiose soundscapes synonymous with the word "epic"; having at least one Godspeed or Sigur Ros album appear in the "Customers Also Bought Items By" section with their supporters frequenting Amazon.com. However, explore the 65days catalogue and you will find that these attributes only comprise a relatively small percentage of their musical prowess.   It's everything else that guards them from the casualties of a regrettably overpopulated corner of post-genre art.  The meticulous juxtaposition of live and programmed drums/percussion produces a sound that ranges from an Air, or even Delerium-like pulse to a relentless drumandbass mania that probably has a genealogical connection to Ed Rush & Optical somehow.  The quartet's constant love affair with odd time signatures and rhythmic syncopation (their use of rubato being a personal favorite) spices a thick  atmosphere with enough solid progressive technicality to firmly place them in the "math rock" niche.  Meanwhile, a persistent sense of melodic familiarity keeps the craziness accessible, whether articulated through the guitar-driven rock of earlier 65days albums or the more synth-focused electronic style that roughly began with their 2010 album We Were Exploding Anyway (which even features Robert Smith of The Cure providing vocals for the track "Come to Me").  All this, as well as their stated intention of writing music that can be reproduced on stage with the same frenetic intricacy as the studio, was quite apparent as they performed such favorites as "Radio Protector" (One Time for All Time, 2005) and "Taipei" (Wild Light, 2013) for a sold-out crowd at Beat Kitchen in Chicago, before which I was given the opportunity to interview Paul Wolinski and Joe Shrewsbury of 65daysofstatic.

Cinematographer/Costume Designer/Key Grip - Coy Scottberg

-DMJ

Friday, November 29, 2013

Clad in Darkness - "Decathect" (2013) [Self-Released] (Track Premiere! Stream "Forestall" Here!)

This album has been a long, long time coming. Having first seen them shortly after the release of their second (and most recent) EP, 2006's Amidst Her Shadows, each coming year of recording inactivity morphed my hope for Clad in Darkness into disappointed resignation that the album which was to be known as Decathect would be nothing more than the "legendary unreleased album." My hopes were re-affirmed when the band made a Kickstarter to assist in recording and pressing payments, and, with their goal of six hundred dollars more than doubled in a day's time, I quickly learned just how many people shared my frustrated admiration.

What can I say about Decathect? I've heard these songs in their various forms of completion over the past seven years, and hearing them in their fully-realized forms is almost cosmic. An aggressively emotional bout of post-rock laced black metal, Clad in Darkness breaks the mold sculpted (rather hastily, if you ask me) by bands like Alcest and takes the notion of "post-black metal" to new heights. Though the "progressive" (read as: Opeth) influence found on the Amidst Her Shadows EP is still apparent, a progression in approach and sound is very apparent, but what could one expect after a seven year lack of studio activity?

I could go on for days concerning this album, but, in my attempts to write something out, I've been left speechless. Over the years Clad in Darkness has become something very valuable and special to me. Repeated listens yield the same endless shivers and sighs I would feel back when they would perform live. I've been given the honor of premiering Decathect's penultimate track "Forestall," which you can listen to below.



Undoubtedly the album's most aggressive track, "Forestall" explodes into existence with blistering, melodic misery, overlaid with vocalist CJH's most desperate wails. Though the more traditional black metal front seems a bit out of character, "Forestall" unfurls into a real thing of atmospheric beauty, slowly folding in elements of krautrock and ambiance before dropping into a massive, slow-moving post-rock crescendo. I'm normally not into the post-rock-infused sort of black metal, but Clad in Darkness is one of the first successes I've heard. Maybe it's the years they spent honing their skills, or maybe they just sort of fell into the sound over the years; whatever the case, I'm convinced.

Decathect is finally slated for release on December 14th. Oh my god.

-Jon

Friday, November 22, 2013

L'Acephale - "Decollate" (2013) [Black Horizons] (FULL ALBUM STREAM)


I've always been a big fan of L'Acephale, dating back to the martial industrial-meets-cheese grater-grade black metal demo "Mort und Totschlag" (which always seemed to end up misspelled as Totsclag). There was always something special about project mastermind Set Sothis Nox La's thoughtful and educated approach to complex, majestic, and absolutely ripping black metal. A journey through the booklet which accompanied 2009's Stahlhartes Gehause revealed the inner workings of a scholarly man, citing Rom (gypsy) mysticism, modern French philosopher Georges Bataille, and metaphysical learnings, all stated with clarity through some of the most enjoyable and unique black metal I've heard in some time. Aurora Borealis's Malfeasance showed a deep reverence for the neofolk and martial industrial influence which was hinted at throughout Stahlhartes, this time fully immersing the listener in dense washes of noise, crepuscular ambiance, and distant acoustic guitars. Ever the shape-shifting beast, L'Acephale's output has been as genre-defying as it has been spread out, with the two aforementioned full-lengths standing out among a handful of splits, demos, promos, and what have you to their name from the impetus of Set Sothis Nox La's headless horde.



A collection of covers and demos, Decollate (headless...starting to see a pattern?) is a unique release for L'Acephale, who, while they are no strangers to covers, have been strangers to the "demo" approach since the first release of the soon-to-be-reissued-once-more Mord album. Showing reverence to the greats, L'Acephale burns through ripping tributes to Emperor, Darkthrone, and the always appreciated Current 93. Referring to the collage of homages to their influences in the insert above, these covers, are warped into L'Acephale's own style, adding layers of complexity and tasteful modernity to clear and fitting tributes (listen to the neofolk rendition of "Flittermice as Satans Spys"!). Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Decollate is that this is one of the first times since the project's birth that we see clear and defined songs based in the different faces of L'Acephale, distinctly separating black metal from neofolk and industrial. Though the mesh is always appreciated, I personally find the distinction very refreshing in the sense of this collection-based-release.


The Decollate cassette is due out on Black Horizons in the next few weeks, and L'Acephale's next full-length is set for a 2014 release on French-Canadian label Union Finale.

-Jon

Thursday, November 14, 2013

CONTEST TIME: Win a test pressing (and more!) of Cara Neir's "Portals to a Better, Dead World" [Broken Limbs/Halo of Flies]

Alright, friends. I've quit my soul-sucking day job and got my previously dead laptop fixed. So I'm back. Sort of. Either way, I've been meaning to get the word out about a particularly awesome album.

Yes, I'm talking about the mighty Cara Neir. Though I've been following this Texan duo (and the works of multi-instrumentalist Garry Brents) for many years, I've been more than elated to see the likes of Pitchfork, The Needle Drop, and more championing Chris Francis and Garry Brents's aggressive-yet-beautiful hardcore/black metal/screamo hybrid. Portals to a Better, Dead World is a tortured beast, but not in black metal's usual brand of isolated misanthropy, rather an explosion of emotion; vocalist Chris Francis's lyrics expressing disappointment in humanity, the combined struggle, introverted thoughts on religion, all related beautifully with Garry Brents's dedicated balance of melodic emotion and unbridled rage. This is the next step I was looking for as a successor to 2011's Stagnant Perceptions; a further melding and solidifying of Cara Neir's dichotomous existence, and it is perfect.

CONTEST IS OVER. CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNERS.

And now, thanks to the combined efforts of Broken Limbs Recordings, Halo of Flies Recordings, and The Black Birch, I've been given the honor to provide TWO of you with an incredible prize package.


To win the above pictured package of one (1) green smoke LP, one (1) Portals to a Better, Dead World test pressing, one (1) copy of the Cara Neir/Ramlord split, and stickers from both Halo of Flies and Broken Limbs Recordings, please comment with your e-mail address and an answer to the following question:

Portals to a Better, Dead World album closer "3,380 Pounds" (linked below) ends with a particularly powerful sample. From which film is this sample taken?


Two winners will be picked at random one week from today. Remember, if you don't leave an e-mail address, we cannot contact you and you will not be able to win. For those of you who are too impatient, feel free to purchase this stellar album from Broken Limbs, Halo of Flies, or from the band themselves. I think they'd appreciate the support. Good luck, and two of you will be hearing from me in a week.

-Jon


PS) I hear Cara Neir has a lot of awesome stuff coming up. I'd tell you to pay attention, but you should be anyway.

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