Summer in Finland is short. Very short, apparently. Maybe that’s why this band have chosen a moniker that at once conjures images of nature, only to couple the pastoral visions with the idea of something lacking. There’s no babbling brook here, no salmon leaping…just emptiness. It’s the near perfect choice of name as it turns out, as an empty brook suggests dashing hopes. Maybe it’s those dashed hopes that have made these four Finns so scathing, since Emptybrook’s music attacks with a scowl, a hardened vocal and an echoing reverb that’s deeply unnerving.
Danish five piece Nord believe in metal with a captial M. They also appear to believe that the inclusion of hugely melodic passages is entirely necessary if they are to attract more than a niche audience. They’d be right to assume that, too, especially when their debut EP includes more than a little death metal throatiness.
Formed in 2010, Helsinki based rockers Damage Limit spent six years plying their trade on the live circuit and released a couple of demo EPs before taking the plunge and entering the studio to record their first professional release. The years of stage toil and sweat shows, too, since ‘Crank’ has an edge that very much sounds like the work of a hard-driving live act. Throughout the seven tracks, the riffs come thick and fast – aided by a reasonable crunch, too – and some of the hooks not only feel like they’ve been honed not just in front of an audience, but created very much with that audience in mind; a more than reasonable translation from stage to disc.
“Welcome to our faceless lives” implores The Foreign Resort’s frontman Mikkel Jacobsen during ‘Suburban Depression’, a neo-gothic, downbeat look at the dark side of the modern world. Set to music conjured through a remoulded sonic image of the 80s and released as a standalone track via the Danish band’s Soundcloud account, this is both the perfect introduction to The Foreign Resort for unfamiliar ears and an equally perfect homage to the sounds of some thirty years previous. The recycled sounds of a Peter Hook-esque bassline placed against the measured rhythmic pacing of The Cure’s classic ‘A Forest’ forge ahead, as the tale of “your own private hell” unfolds. With the repeated refrain and suggestion that “everybody’s empty now” being bandied around with sheer abandon, some may experience knee-jerk feelings that the track itself is depressing, but nothing could be farther from the truth. There’s a sense of knowing within this band’s gothic throwback of a sound. As the track builds, never ever shifting from the basic rhythm – pulsing, pulsing – and the guitars increase, the bass holds firm and despite the familiarity, The Foreign Resort strike musical gold.
It’s not a fluke, either.
Death metal is never easy listening, but it often comes with varying degrees of accessibility and with the best stuff you can always tell where the talent is. This album from Ligature Wound goes firmly against the grain, pushes all the dials into the red and never cares about allowing any kind of melodies – no matter how obtuse – get in the way of the band’s musical art. For it must be considered a kind of performance art, as it’s hard to believe that there will be people out there who’d have enough patience to tackle this debut willingly.