A few weeks ago I got burnt out. Good-to-great records have been releasing at such a rapid pace (never a bad thing!) and I wouldn’t be able to write a quote-unquote traditional review for every single one. It overwhelmed me to the point of an incredibly paralyzing writer’s block. Then the idea hit me. It’s not an original one as round-ups have existed since the dawn of blogging, but every week or two weeks I’ll do these roundups where I write 1-2 paragraphs about 3-6 albums that’ve released over the past few weeks. I’ll still do the occasional “longer” form of reviews, but primarily I just want to write something about an album I really enjoy without feeling like I have to write 400-500 words every time. So with that out of the way and a hat tip to Steven, welcome to Drew’s Untitled Review Roundup (or DURR). Thank you.
All Your Sisters – Trust Ruins
The final two months of 2016 affected a lot of people but it was especially intense for multi-instrument Jordan Morrison. The juxtaposition of becoming engaged but losing his brother-in-law to a fatal overdose, the tragic Ghost Ship warehouse fire, and obviously the election weighed heavy on Morrison. With an unavoidable dread hanging about, Morrison shaped the third All Your Sisters’ album Trust Ruins around not living with any regre
That mindset resulted in All Your Sisters’ most primal work to date – the violent power of tracks like “Power Abuse” and “Self-Medicating” pulsating through the darkest parts of the soul as Morrison’s commanding vocals often splinter into knee-buckling howls. Trust Ruins is a ten-track journey through the most desolate and bleak moments surrounding the every day mundanity of life – one of the year’s most menacing and memorable releases.
The Flenser / April 12, 2019 / Recommended
Heart Attack Man – Fake Blood
When they aren’t selling frontman Eric Egan’s signature orange beanie for thousands of dollars or retweeting ridiculous photoshops of the album art for their new album Fake Blood, Heart Attack Man creates music. And it’s good! Despite the sometimes goofy exterior, the Cleveland punk rock band’s sophomore album contains a dark interior backed by unpredictable, often spazzed-out guitar riffs and punchy drumming.
A fine mixture of self-deprecation and cutting lyricism, Heart Attack Man balances catchy pop-punk (the title track and “Blood Blister”), hardcore (“Low Hanging Fruit” and “Asking For It”) and 90’s alt-nostalgia (“Out For Blood” and “Sugar Coated”). Fake Blood is the type of record that develops an intense cult following in the punk/emo community while showcasing Heart Attack Man as one of the next band’s to breakout on the scene.
Triple Crown Records / April 19, 2019 / Recommended
Inter Arma – Sulphur English
Sulphur English’s cover art features a forest engulfed in flames – a perfect metaphor for Inter Arma’s fourth album. The Richmond metal quartet have never sounded this precise and focused, as the album’s nine unforgiving tracks contain a pummeling intensity through its hour-plus run time.
Tracks like “A Waxen Sea” and “Citadel” unfurl riffs that could crush glaciers as Mike Paparo’s harsh vocals offer zero reprieve. And album highlight “The Atavist’s Meridian” uses it twelve-and-a-half minute runtime to experiment and show off the atmospheric muscle from guitarists Steven Russell and Trey Dalton. Sulphur English expertly melds bluesy southern rock within its punishing brand of black metal, Inter Arma has unleashed one of 2019’s most significant heavy records.
Relapse Records / April 12, 2019 / Recommended
Laura Stevenson – The Big Freeze
Laura Stevenson battles her most personal demons on her stunning fifth album The Big Freeze. In the three-and-a-half years since the fuzzy Cocksure, Stevenson was intermittently writing what would make up The Big Freeze while shaping the record’s dynamic sound via recording at her Long Island childhood home. Throughout the album’s ten near-perfect tracks, Stevenson has never sounded so confident in the face of her most glaring flaws.
Stevenson tackles self-harm and depression with elegance on “Dermatillomania” and “Hum”, and you can hear the physicality of her lyrical vulnerability throughout. But it’s the way her voice effortlessly glides on the vast “Low Slow” and how each cello pluck, guitar chord, and swelling string hang onto every word that demonstrates The Big Freeze’s long-lasting impact, cementing Stevenson as one of the most essential songwriters today.
Don Giovanni / March 29, 2019 / Recommended
Brutus – Nest
If 2017’s Burst caught your interest, then Brutus’ second effort, Nest, will demand your attention, as the Belgian trio will steamroll your ears with one of the year’s most thrilling albums. Everything feels bigger and elevated on Nest, with drummer Stefanie Mannaerts turning in one of the best vocal performances in 2019, regardless of genre.
The thundering “Cemetery” bleeds its bitter anger over four minutes of Stijn Vanhoegaerden’s unrelenting guitar work, while “Techno” and “Django” show off the versatility between Mannaerts’s drumming and Peter Mulders’ spirited bass work. Brutus unleashes an explosive blend of metal and melody but with a hardcore ethos throughout the album’s 11 tracks – Nest is a can’t-miss record.
Sargent House / March 29, 2019 / Recommended
HEALTH – VOL.4::SLAVES OF FEAR
On their latest effort VOL.4::SLAVES OF FEAR, noise-rock maestros HEALTH build off the success from 2015’s DEATH MAGIC. The Los Angeles trio grapple with the anxiety present in every day life, as vocalist Jake Duzsik croons over booming opener “PSYCHONAUT” while “GOD BOTHERER” dips its industrial toe into some Godflesh-esque metal waters, blessing listeners with one of the coolest songs in HEALTH’s massive discography.
Tracks like “BLACK STATIC” and “THE MESSAGE” deftly shows off HEALTH’s ambidexterity between various styles of music. VOL.4::SLAVES OF FEAR is imperfect, divisive, and ominous – culminating in HEALTH’s most exhilarating effort yet.
Loma Vista / February 8, 2019 / Recommended