Art of Burning Water and Gantz…
Posted on Monday, June 19th, 2006 @ 9:42am » permalink
I've been trying to get this post up since last week but things have been crazy busy, and there's probably more of that on the horizon. But anyway, the incredibly oddly titled "The Voyage of the Pessimistic Philosoph: An Ode to Believers of the Prevailing Law of Sod" is the first I've heard from UK trio Art of Burning Water in the years since their three-way split with American Heritage and Foe. As with that split, this disc comes to us from House of Stairs, though oddly enough the label's website doesn't seem to have been touched in three years!? Whatever the case, this album cranks out 10 tracks in about 27 minutes, so you should generally expect quite short compositions offering a largely instrumental attack of winding riffs and twisted dissonance over pulsing midpaced rhythms that bounce back and forth with somewhat of a math metal type of swagger through loads of tempo changes. But occasional fits of maniacally sneered vocals tear into the picture and add an air of unhinged chaos to the band's presentation as well, so there's plenty of sheer madness to go around (seriously, these vocals are completely fucking sick, I love 'em). I'd definitely cite this as an improvement over their prior work, especially with regard to the sound quality. Everything was recorded by the band, and while raw, personally I think the recording is pretty fucking badass. It's really dry and there's a completely natural vibe to everything, to the point where it almost feels like you're in the room with the band (especially in terms of the percussion). And yet it still somehow boasts a clear and balanced mix, so I've got no quarrels whatsoever. Hell, I really dig the artwork on this thing, too. Nice and spacious with atypical visuals and very little text (no lyrics are included, so I have no idea what the hell could possibly be going on behind some of those completely insane song titles). Well done all around.
Art of Burning Water "Standing Jubilantly Beneath the Sword of Democles"
Art of Burning Water "Like Two Pigs Rotting (Last Guys Finish Nice)"
I'm not sure what to expect from this album in terms of its future distribution reach, but for the moment it is at least available for purchase straight from the band, so please do show them some love by placing an order if the above material is something that does the trick for you.
Gantz has actually been around for awhile now, having released several albums, splits, and compilation appearances. But "La Chambre Des Morts" is my first exposure to the French outfit, and it gets off to somewhat of a misleading start with a four-minute track of lulled instrumental ambience. While those elements do play a significant role in the band's approach, especially when the songs run five to eight minutes on a regular basis, most of their work balances out the lighter side through plenty of pounding midpaced rhythms and harsh screaming vocals more akin to what I'm used to hearing from the mighty Radar Swarm label. But there are some unexpectedly melodic tinges within a number of the riffs as well – even a few of the more biting and acerbic areas can flirt with such traits – whereas the dynamics of the compositions tend to shift from pulsing heaviness to flowing clean passages that almost combine an emo/screamo element with a strange sort of prog-meets-post-rock lean on those shimmery kinds of instrumental breaks. Interestingly enough the recording tends to go easy on the distortion in terms of leaving plenty of breathing room for the percussion and vocals, so they're not trying to be over the top heavy, and thus some interesting textures result in the guitar work. But I do find myself wondering where the basslines are, so amping up the low-end a little more could indeed secure some additional impact in the mix. The lyrics are delivered entirely in French, but some English text explanations suggest a slight socio-political edge to the content, though it would seem that everything is tactfully wrapped in personal perspectives, which is always a plus. There's not really any one song on this album that properly represents the entirety of what Gantz has to offer, but this particular example does provide a solid range:
Gantz "Noircir La Porte de sa Maison"
I've been raining praise upon Radar Swarm's excellent work for years now, and I don't see that trend waning anytime soon since I'm already eagerly anticipating their next release from Year of No Light. So definitely pick this up if the above sample gets you curious, and be sure to check out more of the Radar Swarm back catalog as well if you're not yet familiar with their superb offerings:
@ Radar Swarm
@ Crucial Blast