Track Roundup: May

     This month I found quite odd for the sort of "algorithm" I had hoped to set up for the monthly track roundups, I had hoped I could be able to pick and choose from a diverse range of genres from single tracks that had been released throughout the previous month without exploring new releases from genres I usually don't listen to, as I wouldn't be the greatest authority on them. Due to that, this month is a little more sterilised, consisting of predominantly Metal, Rock and Hip-Hop tracks, with one outlier in the Afrobeats camp.

     For clarification, I also try not to pick tracks from albums released throughout the month and instead choose tracks from yet unreleased albums or one off songs from artists. And if you hadn't assumed by this point, I am doing this monthly in groups of 8. Don't know why, just am.

Wytch Hazel - Save My Life

(Single from II: Soujourn: July 13th on Bad Omen Records)

     Rock music, for me at least always works best when looking back. Wytch Hazel are a UK band who unabashedly worship bands like Jethro Tull, first few album's Judas Priest, and the slightly more contemporary Pagan Altar. "Save My Life" is an epic in scale ballad with a classic 70's hard rock guitar tone to lead it. Vocalist Colin Hendra has a perfect 70's rock voice as well which overbears just a bit on the music, simply due to the production. It is still very enjoyable though, and the simplicity of the song is a testament to how catchy it still manages to be, the faith-based lyrics of the band are a very pleasant surprise as well. I look forward to seeing if there are any longer, more diverse tracks on the upcoming album and if there are, then I could see myself really loving this new album from Wytch Hazel.

     Sidenote, it has nothing to do with the album but I love the artwork for II: Sojourn, truly makes me consider preordering the vinyl for this release.

Tomb Mold - Blood Mirror

(3rd single from Manor of Infinite Forms: June 8th on 20 Buck Spin)

     Down a darker path we go. Tomb Mold are a band I often overlook, despite the fact that they are Torontonian and love Bloodborne and Lovecraft I've never paid them much mind. "Blood Mirror" is the first track in the Death Metal Quartet's catalogue that I have found myself more than passably enjoying. Granted, I haven't listened to more than a few songs but I can usually make a judgement from that and trust that I have just not been listening to the songs I might happen to not like.

     "Blood Mirror" interests me more than their usual fare because it strays albeit only slightly, from their usual formula. Tomb Mold are one in a good few number of newer Death Metal bands today which espouse wanky guitar playing and dissonant messiness as heaviness and innovation and this bugs me, I would much rather hear creative song and riff writing than that, and luckily I do hear that here! After the three minute mark, the initial barrage of chaos is broken by a slower doomy riff and a better than usual guitar solo, giving way to the more conformist half of the song, where guitar passages are audible and distinguishable. I love last minute of the song, they do go back to the dissonant, dense sound they are used to but it works a bit more for me this time, likely because they are playing higher up the fretboard which is quite different for a Death Metal riff. Due to this track, I will likely give Manor of Infinite Forms a cautious listen.

*Again, sick album artwork.

Ghost - Dance Macabre

(2nd single from Prequelle: June 1st on Vista Loma Records)

     Ghost are another band who have surprised me with this song, I enjoy Ghost and think that they have a fun concept. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Ghost are a Swedish band whose lyrics are about Ghouls, Witches, Mummies and generally the same spookiness of a dollar store plastic zombie mask, and their music sounds like a perfect half and half mix of Abba and Ozzy Osbourne. If you cannot imagine that, just listen to the song and you will see entirely what I mean.

     Now on their fourth incarnation, in both image and sound, Ghost are preparing to release Prequelle and their first single "Rats" didn't do much for me, but "Dance Macabre" is a supremely catchy almost Pop-Rock song, with a massive chorus and a very rhythmic heavy instrumentation. You'll find that I talk a lot about the guitar work on these kinds of songs, and that can't be helped as I play guitar and obviously love good guitar work... Needless to say with that disclaimer, there's a great melodic solo in here.

*I'm going to stop talking about the artwork after this track, but again... Damn.

Kofi Kinaata - The Whole Show

(Unattached single on Team Move)

     One of the musical genres that I get the most confusion for enjoying is the sort of umbrella of Afrobeats, Dancehall, and Soca. It is undoubtedly a departure from the music I would listen to on a given day, but I adore the pure melody that is popular in the genre. I also have this sort of nostalgia for times in my life which I can relate to a specific kind of music, in the summer of 2016 I went o a placement for my school program and spent 3 months in Ghana, and that was such a special time of my life.

     Not only were the people a joy to be around, but the music was too. So Ghanaian music has been a staple in my summer mixes from that point on, "The Whole Show" is a nice departure from the typical sound of other great artists like Stonebwoy, Shatta Wale, Davido, and Bisa Kdei. This song has a very nice flavour, with a Toto-esque instrumentation and Kinaata's reverb drenched vocals, it has a very aquatic, summery feel to it. But in Ghanaian climate, there is really only summer and hellishly hotter summer.

Impending Doom - Everything's Fake

(2nd single from Sin & Doom: Volume II: June 22nd on eOne Music)

      Deathcore rarely if ever works for me. Despite Born of Osiris being a long-time favourite of mine, I generally hate the tropes that come with the genre. Born of Osiris are refreshing to me because they are more than the tropes that weigh down many Deathcore bands. The problem is, with most bands, the teenage edginess is palpable.

     Impending Doom are still very cookie cutter Deathcore in my opinion, but the fact that I can say still is why they are notable. For a Christian band to survive so long in such an overtly angsty genre is a credit to their name.  With their second single for their  first album in five years, it's impressive that they still manage to be as heavy as they were over ten years ago. While I generally prefer their more riff-driven sound of the past couple albums, "Everything's Fake" brings a very technical groove to the table making them sound like a Deathcore Meshuggah, and though this sound can be tiresome and the over 4 minute runtime can drag it is still a good choice for single.

Jay Rock - WIN (ft. Kendrick Lamar)

(Unattached single)

    This song is dumb. There is no other way of putting it, this is the worst Jay Rock song I've heard and if we're including Kendrick in the equation then this is the worst thing I have heard Kendrick in. There is just so much that is odd about this song. I will elaborate: Kendrick ad-libs "Mommy!" several times, Jay Rock ends a couple rhymes with some enthusiastic "Boop"s, and the chorus is literally just "WIN WIN WIN WIN". To even consider Kendrick to be a feature on this song is kind of a stretch, as I said above maybe 30% of his participation on this song is shouting "Mommy!"

     This is what Rap aficionados might call a "Flex Track", a simple song meant to brag about accomplishments, diss others, and hype up listeners. Well... Jay Rock brags about the fact that he has been tap-dancing since he was six, whether that be true or not.

If anything, the beat is okay!

Belly - What You Want (ft. The Weeknd)

(Unattached single)

     This song makes me miss Toronto. The one thing I love about Toronto is the pride that is inspired by the musicians who hail from the city. Everyone loves toting the fact that The Weeknd, Drake, PND, and Daniel Caesar all hail from Toronto. People forget that Belly is a T.DOT OG, forgive me for typing that but it is true. He's been active since 2005 and he has gained a great reputation in the city and outside.

     This track is one of my favourites in recent memory that The Weeknd has been involved in, I enjoyed Starboy quite a bit because of the more diverse production on the album, much of the Toronto sound of the past few years has been characterised by the watery, melancholic, alt R&B that has popularised the city's musical sound. The same diversity can be heard on "What You Want". Accompanied by a very clean mid tempo R&B drum driven beat, Belly's singing flows nicely in contrast to Abel's voice, which to be expected is flawless. London, you are great but Toronto is calling my name.

Shylmagoghnar - As All Must Come to Pass

(1st single from Transience: June 29th on Napalm Records)

     Making interesting Melodic Death Metal is a feat to be admired. The genre is so predictable, and it often goes in one ear and out the other after even just one song. Wintersun are a band I would say I enjoy, and who produce Melodic Death Metal; but many agree their first album released in 2004 was their best and their past two releases suffered the same horribly over-produced fate. When I first heard this track from Shylmagoghnar*bless you*, I was instantly thinking of how great Wintersun could have been if they had followed their debut up with something like this.

     "As All Must Come to Pass" is epic in scale, in a relentless seven minutes they manage to keep their brand interesting and heavy. Following up the bass and synth intro, they completely change tempos and break right into a very Black Metal blastbeat. Melancholic and uplifting, the mood of the song maintains it's power the entire runtime. Quite honestly, the keyboards take centre stage in this track for me, they are mixed evenly if not slightly louder than the guitars and contrast the rather bland guitar tone with crystalline prettiness, many might call the cleanness of the keyboards kind of corny or unnecessary but I think it sets the track apart from the standard guitar driver Melodic Death Metal that is typically found in the newer releases of the genre. 

     This one is also held up by a very good video, if you consider a sad animated video about a fox dying in the woods then going on an astral journey to the afterlife good. I sure do. 


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