ANY TIME NOW, said the homepage, May 2017.

Is it a Zep reunion? said the rock press, minutes later.


Talk about trying too hard to make something out of something else. NEVER GONNA HAPPEN, never was, let it be, make a note of the title of Zep II’s track two and apply it to pretty much any thought of a Zeppelin get-together. Robert Plant makes music – new music. Even when it’s a covers project, it’s fired by something new… band, genre, location, whatever, and the Zep stuff onstage is reworked with an earthly mystery. He follows the muse, man. Wanderlusting, collaborating, surrendering to music’s call, and now we learn there’s a new album – Carry Fire – on the way in October. Cannot wait (despite being priced out of the Bristol gig). Lead-off track The May Queen has a Bron-yr shuffle atop spaceshifter beats, echoing the ceaseless roar. What a voice.

Dead Cross

When Mike Patton guest presented Henry Rollins’s KCRW radio show the other week, of course they talked about Dead Cross. Patton said that when he got the call to ask if he wanted to sing, he had to think about it. Did he want to do a hardcore record? Could he do a hardcore record, pushing 50?

Check Seizure and Desist and get your answer: yes and yes. Hardcore to the power 11, short songs packed with structure, a proper singer doing screams with range AND Dave Lombardo pushing disbelief on our ears yet again. Dead Cross do not hold back. It’sDillinger Escape Plan manic – fitting, given Patton’s involvement – but thicker, fatter, heavier, and a lot of that’s gotta be the sticks. Lombardo Mindblow just has to be heard to be believed (Obedience School, Grave Slave), so whatever doubts Patton had about giving/taking a battering with Dead Cross, Lombardo must have had them as well. Or no? Anyway, get your h-core mojo strapped back on with 27-and-a-half minutes of no-WAAAAAY on Ipecac, and take a splintered pew at the Church of the Motherfuckers.


New track/new exposure of the month – Xenolith; The Anvil by EX EYE. Surging high-drama heavy prog instrumental, it’s ripe for Motorpsycho/Heliocentrics/Steven Wilson dabblers, perhaps not surprising when you find that EX EYE are Colin Stetson’s band. And the fact that they’re on Relapse Records tells you they’re not pissing about. Apocalyptic sax metal has landed.


In the name of passing things on, the lovely Holy Roar record label sent out a link to a new video by Helpless – so here’s Sinkhole for you lot as well. It’s only a minute, it’s not polite. Dare you?


Most of the time we’re not listening to new stuff, so what about those nuggets and deeper cuts that burrow down the e-hole from the many other albums we’ve got on a loop? Here are a couple that have wormed in this past month – see if they do the same for you.

Prince: Ain’t About 2 Stop

“If life is a B-side, my dream is the A” – throbbing right-now production on this HITnRUN Phase One hard hitter: groping cyborg beats, dense-dense-dense, and a semi solo as only Prince can do … you won’t find it on y’tube, though. Sorry.

Harvey Milk: Goodbye Blues

Non-immediate gratification. The anti-now, the slowest burn, the non-instant. They make you wait, this lot, bellowing like a beast in death throes, but you KNOW it’s worth it. Propping up the back end of Life….the Best Game in Town, Goodbye Blues slows your mind before bursting it with a Manic Depression-style triple-time pick-up, and a punishingly heroic solo to end.

Queens of the Stone Age: Suture up your Future

With Villains emerging, there’s been plenty of reason to seek out some Queens previous, and this light-footed swinger from Era Vulgaris is addictive. Sea-drifting melancholy and hazy shimmer, ending in chaos. The sound of life being let go? Maybe the words tell all. What do you think?

’til next time!

amplifier wordsmith: the monthly rewind

amplifier wordsmith: the monthly rewind

Myrkur – M


Now that winter has passed, and with it any last chance of actual snow, the best accompaniment for listening to this record – apart from the darkness of night, natch – is fog. Thick grey dark ffffffog, the fog that really fucking HANGS. John Carpenter Fog.

Failing that, pissing-it-down rain will do – in fact, anything but mystique-stripping midday sun or soul-death flouresence. M, see, is spiked by shards of black metal.

Not that you’d know that from the opening bars of Skogen Skulle Do with its choral voices and waltzing violin sweeps… rustic, serene, unmetal in extremis. An undead scream and swell of horns may well usher in the Threat of the Ominous, but even this is swept aside by luscious pop gothic til the hornswell returns and hints at the sinister ahead. ’tis compelling, beautiful and far from isolated on this all-over-the-place debut… the plaintive piano/voice of Nordlys (shades of Tori, Under the Pink) and Volvens Spadom‘s folksome acappella bring frosted perfection. When Myrkur sings, she’s with angels.

But such melodic abundance means that when the ugly does appear – as in the black metal shred that flays second track Haevnen – it’s ferocious and ultraviolent by contrast. Haevnen‘s feral blasts are fleeting, cut short by hooks so sweet that your head spins… how can that become this within seconds? On one level, mad as a bag of bats. On another, stupendous turns of pace and mood, and that’s the way M works: fluid shifts between extremeties. The middle ground skirts with Eurometal trad-ness, but it’s those outer edges – beast and beauty – that work best. M’s mellow transcends metal completely, and so massive is the divergence from the vicious that there’s a Fantomas-like absurdity of extremes. You could well imagine Patton M careering between the vocal poles of Myrkur’s M.

So who’s behind the slick-yet-schiz 37 minutes? Myrkur – Amalie Bruun – handles voice, guitar and piano, while Mayhem/Ulver-sourced names are among the hands that flesh it out (Ulver’s Garm produces), which could be why there’s no shortage of texture, as with the Sigur-esque guitar coursing through Oybt I Skoven’s pop-metal sheen, or drama, like Norn‘s sleepy tranquility after the carnage wreaked by Skaol. Thing is, not once do you feel that these tracks do not belong together, coz they absolutely do. There’s a common aesthetic. Is it black metal?

Not for the many many hatemongers out there who destroy the idea that this album, this artist, has any credentials AT ALL: not BM, not ‘kvlt’, nothing but Relapse-hyped PR fakery. Somehow, these people think that online aggro is justified.

Unnecessary. Let’s move on.

Is Myrkur of black metal? No doubt, yes, but the crucial thing is not what she is/isn’t – we’re just dealing in pointers and indicators, after all – but just how bold, wintry and weirdly thrilling this record really is. A sprawling White Album mess of a double that ventures even further and longer would be a shit-hot follow up. 

Released 2015 on Relapse Records