The Hidden Gems Of Kurt Ballou’s GodCity Studio
WARNING: Serious levels of Kurt Ballou fanboyism lie ahead.
We recently had a brief talk on TovH’s Facebook group about our favorite producers. It seems that the consensus, or rather yet, my – this is not a democracy – favorite producers right now are Kurt Ballou and Colin Marston. Let us talk about the first.
Ballou’s studio, named GodCity, was founded in the late 90s after Kurt opted for a severance check from the company he worked as a biomedical engineer. A seemingly personal decision turned out to be pivotal to a plethora of different musical acts, and – why not – to the evolution of some of the best bands in modern metal. To be honest, I became a fan of Kurt Ballou’s work as producer and engineer long before I absorbed his work in Converge. If he’s behind a record, be it as producer/engineer/mixer, there is a very good chance it will hit home with me. Of course, we are all familiar with High On Fire, Baptists, Torche, Every Time I Die and Skeletonwitch. At least I hope so. Today, we’re going to jam those GodCity recordings you probably slept on. Hell, even I slept on most of these when they came out.
I honestly can’t think of a different word to describe this album other than beautiful. The band plays heavy, instrumental music that is both thoughtful and poignant. My favorite aspect of the record is how warm and rich the bass tone is. The rhythm section is not there to support the guitarwork meanderings, like so many instrumental bands do. Instead, each member of the trio is a fundamental layer of a fluid, seamless sound. Listen to “Earth is for the Living”. Around the 2 minute mark, bass and guitar intertwine in a deep conversation, constituting one of the highlights of the LP.
Only three of Seizures Within Reason‘s tracks are available for Bandcamp streaming. You will get through them fast. Then, you will listen to them again. Over and over again. This duo’s music is filled with sludgish noise and hardcore, with some other influences creeping in. “All Just Ghosts”, for example, features guitarwork very reminiscent of post-punk melodies, right before they start battering you once more. All within reason, of course. It only helps that their vocalist/guitarist, Allison Vess, is probably the nicest person I’ve talked to in a while. Empty Vessels has a TON of gigs booked, and you can find out when they’re coming to your block by stabbing here. Shouts out to Lazer/Wulf for sharing a live clip of EV in action, which in turn led me to finding out about them and coming up with the idea for this post.
In today’s volatile music world, a 2008 record is almost guaranteed to have fallen into obscurity. It is borderline criminal to let it happen to an album as good as Board Up The House. With this LP – the first under Relapse Records – Genghis Tron expand their unique brand of schizophrenic electro… grind? The sounds contained here are wild and unhinged. Free. Thankfully, the production is top notch and everything sounds like it should. The heavy, the grindy, the math-y and the dreamy all coexist in a single package. Some will think mixing these elements together is downright blasphemy. I think it’s fucking awesome.
I really can’t say more than what BC user MisandryCannon has already said: “Science, math-rock, post-hardcore and metal. What more could you ask for? SCIENCE/10.” With songs named after mathematicians (“Andrew Wiles”) and elementary particles (“Higgs Boson Particle”), this album sounds like an insane mix of The Rapture, Battles and sludgy hardcore.
2015 will also be a banner year for GodCity Studio. Here’s some stuff to look forward to, beyond new albums from Magrudergrind, Black Breath and Cult Leader: