Svart Records Roundup: Obnoxious Youth, Hexvessel, Timo Kaukolampi & Green Lung
The latest from Svart Records’ vaults (and some others) go under Karhu’s scrutiny.
With 11 years of depravity under their belts, Sweden’s proto-metal-meets-punk fiddlers Obnoxious Youth aren’t known for taking their time. But “Cockroach’s” Pink Floyd-esque intro is just long enough to have you wondering if they’ve transitioned into noise rock, allowing more room for mellower material to take root within their compositions. Almost. While the mid-EP duo of “Funeral” and “Succumb” briefly gives the stage for melodic leads, the vast majority of the 18 minutes of Mouths Sewn Shut is spent with violent rock, chaotic metal not unlike Vorum if they had been stripped of all the death and hardcore beats. Vocalist Affe’s caustic delivery drags the band’s gestalt towards extreme metal, but otherwise the tonality is kept closer to their rock roots. Incidentally Affe’s cerebral performance, in all its monotony, is Obnoxious Youth’s Achilles heel. All in all, Mouths Sewn Shut is a short and raucous record for when rock just isn’t quite enough.
We have a saying: “the frost drives the pigs back home;” after a brief courtship with Century Media, Hexvessel has returned to the warmth of Svart’s bosom. The same serene and nature-minded approach that’s driven most of their previous albums is present on Kindred as well, and unlike its single-minded predecessor, it seems to be drawing from all eras of the band’s existence for inspiration. Their self-bestowed moniker, psychedelic forest folk rock, might be more fitting than ever, if you keep in mind that even when they rock, they don’t have to do so very hard. But even with its myriad styles, or rather ways to approach their brand of serene folk songs, Kindred is the most consistent album Hexvessel has put out. And not necessarily in a positive sense, lacking in anything resembling a highlight, Kindred might be an enjoyable album to put on a sleepy evening, by the fireplace, but it blurs to a clot of woolly expression. Out the other ear as quick it came in the other.
Timo Kaukolampi – Station to Station to Station
Simultaneously a “view from the future and a cerebral memory”, Timo Kaukolampi’s (K-X-P) solo sophomore is also the soundtrack to Mira Kauto’s solo dance performance. Reportedly her performance consists/ed of her past’s fragments as means of dreaming, shades of darkness and views from the very edges of peripheral vision. Kaukolampi’s interpretation of said themes is a journey through tense ambient soundscapes, modified and reworked human voices and minimal techno beats, in 4 acts. Of the acts, the first two are as minimal in their songwriting as they are in their arrangement, moving between two immaterial points, with little to no variation. And especially “Act 2”, the shortest of the four, heavily relying on a drawn out female voice, lacks the tension and emotion to work on its own. The second half features a far more definitive progression than the first and particularly “Act 3” works well without context. Otherwise, as so often with soundtracks, you’re left to wonder how much enjoyment there is to be derived, lacking the visual half of the work.
A London-born stoner band, Green Lung recently signed to Svart Records, and the first fruit of their cooperation is the remastered re-release of 2019’s Woodland Rites. The band doesn’t represent the garage variety of stoner bands with the effervescent scent of bong permanently hanging about; instead they look a little further back into history for inspiration. On Woodland Rites, the witches dance in the moonlight, accompanied by an organ, and the harmonized vocals dream of Uriah Heep. Groovy and rolling doom & rock riffs shake hands with melodic phrasing and Scott Black’s guitar is often much busier with its leads than is the standard for the genre. One of the more stoner/doom rock releases in a while. The Free the Witch EP from the preceding year has been added as bonus tracks for the re-release, but offers a far less enjoyable, if heavier, take on the band’s sound.