As we etch closer to the big day on Friday, it’s time to take a look at some of the heavier, faster (and in a lot of cases) better bands from the heavy music business with their ladies leading the way for Extreme/Progressive music.
Our International Women’s Day Band Showcase continues with…
I really, really wish Azusa had held off and released their album early 2019 instead of December 2018. It was a project I was really looking forward to, but one that got lost in the end of year confusion. However, having had time to go back and listen to it, I can say it reminds me a lot of Gone is Gone, but a bit more metal. Heavy Yoke overall a good album with a mess of influences. Eleni Zafiriadou can throw up some thrash inspired hooks, or switch it up to croon her through a slow prog jam like ‘Fine Lines’ in the blink of an eye, and often does. Impressive.
Just to clarify, this is Brutus from Belgium. Proggy hardcore punk… rock… trio. Either way, it’s super varied, and super cool. Only having discovered them halfway through last year, shortly after their debut Burst, came out, I was ecstatic and surprised to see they were releasing another album so soon! Nest is due out on 29th March and is eagerly awaited. Stefanie Mannaerts’ skills as a drummer and vocalist make this band especially interesting, especially when a tearing scream comes after a velvety caress. How she does it is beyond me.
This is as proggy as it gets without being Tool. Seventeen minute songs? Check. Saxophone and mandolin? Check. A deep connection with nature? Oh baby, check. Dreadnought create vast, expansive songs reminiscent of their Colorado landscape. Songs that stomp their way through keyboard laden verses and clean vocals, to post-metal influenced Julie Christmas-esque screamed sections. Kelly Schilling does add a lot of reverberating harshness to the otherwise easy going work of Lauren Vieira, but every member bands together to deliver a package that is a conceptual pilgrimage.
Another testament to Melbourne’s massive music scene, High Tension are some of the best heavy hitting shit around. Mixing sludge, hardcore and even some black metal elements in there from time to time have resulted in a lumbering behemoth capable of absolutely devastating speed and proportions. Karin Utomo’s live presence is that of a snarling tiger, muscles bunched to attack; to rip and shred. Purge, latest album (our review here) and accompanying a spot in my top albums of last year, for good reason. It feels like Utomo is actually trying to erase me from this earth. Lauren Hammel is no less imposing when she commands the stage from behind her kit.
One of my all time favourites on this list. Jambinai are a Korean avant-garde folk rock band. This melange of genres doesn’t exactly capture what they do, as it’s hard to compare something so unique. They incorporate traditional Korean instruments, such as the haegeum, the most depressing instrument in the world, played by Kim Bo-mi; and the geomungo, a massive floor guitar plucked with bamboo, played by Sim Eun-yong. A Hermitage is a surreal tempest of noise that will sweep you off your feet, taking you to the shores of ur-reality, time snapping and existence ending. Worth it. Also just found out they’re releasing new album Onda in June! Pardon my heart attack.
What can I say… They’re basically the Gojira of progressive sludge. Static Tensions, Spiral Shadow and Ultraviolet are three of the most genre-defining albums of the 2000s. Hailing from Mastodon-town, Kylesa sucked up whatever magic was in the air and set off to create absolutely mind-bending music. The guitar tone is thick – chunkier than your grandmother’s cookies, and laced with more LSD than your grandfather’s brownies. Laura Pleasants knows her way around her instrument, pumping out riffs that compel one to bang their head.
I could probably just pad out every list with one of Julie Christmas’ bands but I’ll restrain myself to just one. Made Out of Babies’ last album was in 2008, and they’re quite obviously disbanded, but that doesn’t mean their music is any less important. She’s really a unique vocalist; screaming until her voice cracks from strain or emotion or both, is such an enjoyable element of her music. Coward is my favourite album, as it incorporates a lot of sludge and noise into what would traditionally be post metal structures. Was mind blowing when I first discovered it.
Epitaph, released in 2016, was a massive eye opener for me. It was like someone had taken Rolo Tomassi and sludged the fuck out of it instead of threading electronic influences through it. Wielebna, the vocalist, also has this scratchy sort of painful feeling behind her screams, adding another layer of sludge wonder to the music when she isn’t laying down the dulcet tones. Album opener ‘Nothing Left’ is seriously the most appropriate introduction to their music you can get. Thirteen and a half minutes of crushing heaviness slathered with unexpected proggy turns. Listening to them again for this article has actually reignited my unnerving passion for them. Excuse me.
Creatura has to be one of the weirdest and noisiest albums of modern metal. This Italian duo’s main aim is to unnerve and unsettle as much as they can. Their minimalist approach to drumming comes across as malicious rather than lazy, and the employment of static and electronics evokes images of witchcraft and hedonism over modernity. Aided by Stefania Pedretti’s absolutely revolting vocals, the music crawls along at an implacable pace; an expanding fog of carbon and curses, never ending, never stopping.
Much like how Fall of Efrafa can make time disappear, namely more than an hour, into an album, so too can Subrosa. Beatific string sections create an atmosphere of floating on water or maybe flowers, but let me tell you, underneath is an abyssal lake complex darkness and despair. For This We Fought the Battle of Ages (and this sounds cheesy maybe, but) is an album that very often moves me to tears. The support of Sarah Pendelton and Kim Pack offer with their keening violins and choral vocals is just… Transcendent. Then you have Rebecca Vernon with her own layer of vocals and guitar on top. It’s all just too much sometimes. It’s overwhelming, but in the best sort of way.