I posted about this on Instagram last week, but Femina Furens is one of the most exciting albums I've heard in some time and has just been blowing my mind. I recently checked out Chicago duo Djunah 'cause they're doing some shows with Rid of Me—another current favorite of mine—and was quickly floored. 100% all-in by track #3. It's like if P.J. Harvey went off-the-charts foreboding metal or something. Dare I say the vocals are borderline Starkweather level, too. Not at all in sound/style, but in terms of variety and just jaw-to-floor intensity. Fucking incredible. Atypically powerful shit. I find myself verging on tears at times, which is far from an everyday reaction for me. At this point, I'm too much of a jello-brained idiot to speak about this material with proper eloquence, so please, go listen for yourself. Definitely one of the year's finest, I simply can't recommend this highly enough.
Femina Furens is still available on CD, cassette, and a couple of vinyl variants through Bandcamp or Djunah's website. If you're a heartless shell who'd rather just stream music like an art-hating degenerate, Spotify will take care of you (for now)...
Hubert Selby Jr. Infants
Hubert Selby Jr. Infants is a bizarrely-named four-piece from Dublin, Ireland presenting a rather interesting style of alternative rock that's a little bit fuzzy, a little bit boisterous, and at times melodic and memorable, but without particularly focusing on "hooks" or anything. The tracks can occasionally start to lean toward the skronk of noise rock with a bit more bite both musically and vocally, but somehow there's always a tuneful undercurrent at work. Something about the end result feels slightly familiar, but I can't put my finger on it. Certainly not an approach that immediately brings to mind hundreds of other bands, but rather a couple of weird underground gems that are escaping me at the moment. For fans of the lesser-known projects of Alex Newport, perhaps? Whatever the case, I look forward to hearing more!
Bandcamp has you covered for the time being. Cassettes should be available at some point in the near future.
Baltimore, MD's Mast Year will soon issue their debut full-length of hammering noise rock with some spacey textural effects that almost carry an unusual post-rock aesthetic. Hell, there are even a few full-on noisescape-type interludes, really putting the "noise" into "noise rock." The vocals meander from speaking to somewhat monotone "singing" to unhinged shouts; while dark, meandering riffs at times imply what might be classified as a "weird jazz" influence or something? I don't know, but it's cool. Well-recorded with a superb mix that lets everything play its part, too. Not bad at all.
Only two songs are online so far, but Knife will be out in full next week. Head to Bandcamp to pre-order on the mighty silver disc format.
Another peculiarly-named outfit—this time from Italy—Noorag is a solo project dishing out baritone math metal that's pretty damn cool. The baritone factor combined with such concise, to-the-point compositions makes me think of The Bunn's numerous projects, but these pieces have a quirkier sense of winding melody and sludgy grooves that I find really intriguing. In some ways it brings to mind aspects of later Eisenvater material, but utilizing more of an odd angular density as opposed to any form of punishing heaviness. Similarly, I can pick out some Meshuggah-esque riffs, but Noorag isn't really chasing after wacky time signatures or djenty distortion tonalities. I dig the vibe here, and would be curious to hear more. A strong debut.
Another month, another crusher from Daze. I thought this was the debut from Oxnard, CA's Torena, but my out-of-touch old ass had no idea they had released an album back in late-2021. That being said, this new EP hits much harder with crisp, clear production that really highlights their in-your-face brand of metalcore that's equal parts traditional '90s runs; superbly crunchy, thrash-leaning grooves; and tactfully beefy beatdown breaks. Not rewriting the book, but not xeroxing it either, know what I mean? I'll take it!
I wasn't familiar with UltraMantis Black, which is perhaps bizarre since they did an album on Relapse almost a decade ago, but maybe the wrestling-related thematics (the vocalist is also a wrestler of the same name) might have had something to do with my prior potential dismissiveness? In any case, current lineup ties to Starkweather via bassist Vincent Rosa and Edgewise through guitarist Vince Spina were enough to pique my interest. I was somewhat surprised to be greeted by about 10 minutes of scorching vegan straightedge metalcore that very much brings to mind Mean Season (which is of course a significant compliment). As I write this, I still can't speak to the band's past efforts, but this particular EP would make for quite an interesting case study in misperceptions, as I myself have clearly been guilty. Had this come out 30 years ago on New Age Records, people would probably still be flippin' out about it today!