THE FESTIVE LIST THING CONTINUES (BUT IT’S SHORT, C’MON … )
Holly Herndon and Pelican starred in 5 Great 2019 Albums part I, but what else stormed our senses this year? Check these three, see if you agree.
RAKETKANON: RKTKN #3
Appearing nowhere (why?) on any end-of-year lists are Belgian noise-art rock post-post punk ish provocateurs Raketkanon. More varied, catchy and moody than #2’s non-stick abrasions, RKTKN #3 inhabits a world all of its own where twisting riffs, carousel keyboards and Cold War espionage vibes co-habit with icy post-metal breaks, awkward discord and unplugged breakdowns. Vocals shift from whisper to hardcore and back. Really can’t place it.
The gentlest track – the addictive Melody – tiptoes through a post-grunge downer on an art-pop tip, while Hannibal is the exact opposite, a repetitive no-depth one-chord blare. Harry rides a killer machine-funk beat. Nothing sticks for long yet nothing’s twitchy either. RKTKN #3 is only 33 minutes but rides an ever-moving narrative through a weirdo urban/rural hinterland where anything goes … that’s Raketkanon.
KXM: Circle of Dolls
King’s X didn’t manage to release their new record this year – we’ll have to wait till 2020 for that – but the ever prolific Dug Pinnick did get an album’s worth of downtuned riffs and heavy melodics out with album #3 from the KXM groove machine. And there are no great changes from the first two KXM albums, thankfully. It’s just a bit harder, a bit richer.
What’s great about KXM is the adulterous kick you get from hearing Pinnick’s liquid, lived-in vocals and bass backed by tough Ray Luzier beats and the timeless George Lynch tone. It’s a metallic King’s X, though it’s not really fair to make out that King’s X are the parent band because it’s Lynch who kicks everyone into action. KXM don’t reinvent rock, but they do put their individual prints on it. Kinda like Rush do. And if you liked Dokken’s guitar sound but not the band, KXM is the right place because Lynch is all over it. He’s set up home in a place you actually want to visit.
Standout tracks? War of Words and Mind Swamp kick it off with aggression, but the softer, darker Lightning showcases everything – pure King’s X vocal lines while the deft solos and mood-setting percussion hint at voodoo. Class.
In the previous post, we said No Rankers. But the last album in this very short list is pretty damned special so if there was to be a favourite, it might just be this:
CAVE IN: Final Transmission
Following the still-unbelievable death of Caleb Scofield in 2018, Cave In finished the in-progress tracks both as a tribute to their bass brother and as a fundraiser for his young family.
It’s an emotional listen. The usual Cave In spectrum of noise, hardcore, spacerock and loose acoustics is covered but, with the loss of an active musician top of mind, the bass parts are loaded with significance. Consciously or not, we notice them even more.
Final Transmission is a great Cave In album.
Shake Your Blood throws an absolute monster of a Cave In hook, but it’s bitter sweet – the lyrics knock you back, especially being clean-sung (screams and roars are absent). Lunar Day‘s soft burned drones and Strange Reflection‘s doom-heavy riff show the range on display, yet it’s the calamitous bone-rattler Led to the Wolves that ends the tribute. Chaotic perfection.
Bold, heavy, intense and defiant. And, through it all, THAT bass.
Festive rocks off to all, see you in 2020.