Beneath the Remains, September 2019: Cloud Rat, Astrosaur, and Ecstatic Vision
Welcome to Beneath the Remains, the monthly column in which we highlight a few select releases that might otherwise slip under your radar!
It’s September, which means it’s time to go back to school. Here are some tunes to rock while getting beaten up on the bus.
Astrosaur consists of, gasp, classically trained musicians instead of dudes that taught themselves “Smoke on the Water” in the garage. These graduates of the Conservatory of Music in Kristiansand put that education to use here. That’s usually a recipe for stiff formalism, but while there’s plenty of fancy fretwork, the interplay between the trio feels organic. The band’s founder, Eirik Kråkenes, has played with Leprous and Ihsahn, and he brings a similar progressive-minded approach to his own project. The dark atmosphere on Obscuroscope feels immersive without being oppressive. It’s more space by way of Interstellar than 2001, their careful calculations guiding them through the wormhole instead of an out-of-control ride through a tripped-out wonderland. It still leads to an intense experience. Comparisons can be made to Scale the Summit and other instru-metal outfits, and they wouldn’t entirely be inaccurate. The fuzz that drifts off their guitars helps emulate the sensation of boosters firing as they navigate an uncaring universe.
Cloud rats are fuzzy little rodents that live in forests in the Philipines. Cloud Rat, the band, are native to Michigan and very much not cute or soft. Their left-wing anarcho grind punk takes a grater to both your ears and the fucked-up fascist world we live in. Things haven’t exactly gotten better in the decade since they started, either. Like all grind acts, they boast a truly impressive discography in only a short period of time — even more impressive for its quality than its length. Last album Qliphoth was an achievement in the genre; this one pushes the boundaries even further. It helps that they don’t feel obligated to stick to their base style. Songs like “The Mad” have post-metal/doom elements, about as far from louder-faster-shorter as you can get. They even get positively epic on the 4-minute “Luminescent Cellar,” a truly harrowing piece of sludge metal. Variety is the spice of life — even if that spice is actually iron shavings.
Ecstatic Vision – For the Masses (Heavy Psych)
Doug Sabolik used to play in technical metalcore freaks A Life Once Lost. He brings a similar energy to his heavy kraut/psych/space rock project Ecstatic Vision, an amalgamation of Monster Magnet, Hawkwind, and the Stooges’ weirder sojourns through the lens of a Philly metalhead. It’s an aggressive take on the genre — they aren’t so much interested on taking you on a trip through space as they are in shoving you face-first into the void. It’s still pretty awesome. On their third full-length, they’ve really dialed in to their sound. Songs like “Shut Up and Drive” and “Yuppie Sacrifice” use space rock’s hypnotic repetition for evil, while fuzz-busters like “Like A Freak” pay homage to Chrome’s apocalyptic proto-industrial. The whole thing feels reminiscent of Monster Magnet’s early years, where anything went and they were more keen on fucking with their listeners. Definitely worth getting on their wavelength.