THREE ALBUM REVIEWS – Prurient, Cold Cave, Monolord

Prurient, Frozen Niagra Falls

Frozen Niagara Falls, PrurientThe idea that an album is a collection of music in the range of twenty-five to say, seventy-four minutes as defined by the medium’s recording capacity is long dead. Yet artists seem to stick to them, hemmed in somehow. Perhaps its economics. Whatever, the boundaries are real and yet, meaningless.

Prurient’s album Frozen Niagra Falls isn’t concerned with boundaries, except where it can push hard against them. Clocking in at ninety-minutes, the double record is spacious, fusing cinematic overtones with crushing noise, creating a blend that is something to simultaneously fear and behold. With pulsing keys and a high tempo bass line, the opener, “Myth of Bridge Building” harbors an apocalyptic sense of menace and devastation; they myth is that those bridges ever stay upright long enough to appreciate. If the world of Mad Max were indeed real, this would be the soundtrack, eschewing anything by Tina Turner. Prurient exhibits some of the most vicious vocals I’ve ever heard, distorted howls, manic growls of indecipherable words with a clear emotional grounding. These are songs of sheer desperation, bleak moments brought to life. It’s like a howling, prairie wind in mid-winter. Often you can’t tell exactly which direction it’s coming from.

What matters most is that the cold is unyielding.

Rich with experimentation and chaotic ethos, this is not really an accessible record. Not for everyone, at least. Well produced and beautifully arranged throughout, this is hard noise with undercurrents that stick with you long after the record is turned off. Perhaps the most immediate songs among the sixteen are “Shoulders Of Summerstone” featuring a pulsing, forward beat overlaying a spoken (yet still indecipherable) vocal and the ten minute “Greepoint” which capitalizes on the theme of cold, spare strings and swirling negative spaces, eventually building into a cacophonous beat but this is a more gradual, evocative assemblage.

Frozen Niagara Falls is full of harrowing textures. There are a multitude of long tracks, three in excess of ten minutes and many others standing as song length industrial compositions. Length and severity, however, should not be a deterrent. This is a challenging listen, one that might push some listeners past their “turn off” point but the emotional touchstones are worthwhile.

Cold Cave, Full Cold Moon

Cold Cave, "Full Cold Moon"Frozen beats. Striated guitars. Desperate glimpses. The pulse on Cold Cave’s album Full Cold Moon is low and steady, a tic above terminal, precisely what gives it such a striking life.

Cold Cave is the moniker for New York and London based electronic/darkwave musician Wesley Eisold, the album a collaboration project originally released late winter of 2014. The sound on the twelve track collection waxes and wanes between a series of familiar sounds, from frigid Factory Records era manufactured dance pop, backed by austere lyrics, to hints of Krautrock, to drab industrial, landscapes that resemble the moon or the rain glazed Manchester of imagination.

The synth heavy opener, “A Little Death To Laugh” reminds me of the best Echo and the Bunnymen tracks, it’s grim, foreboding lyrics offering a frightening view of love and trust over an infectious groove. The band bursts out with some beautifully honesty, from the spectrally pop influenced “Oceans With No End” and “God Made The World” to “People Are Poison” which showcases the album’s most frenetic, hard rock guitar lines.

There are a sprinkling of brief instrumental interludes throughout Full Cold Moon, bittersweet pauses which serve to stretch the album out and allow it to run off, exploring new territories. Especially stirring for me was “Dandelion” (I use the word “stirred” with real purpose, this album a masterwork of the sedate dream theater) a cinematic, sun burst over a frigid landscape.

Although Full Cold Moon has been out for a year, Cold Cave has re-issued the record on vinyl, more about which you can read here on their site. I’d recommend you grab one.

Monolord, Vaenir

a3503731580_10One look at the cover about tells about everything you need to know going in. Crushing guitars. Doom riffs. Dark lyrics.

Swedish metal crafters Monolord really know how to deliver the heavy, starting with nine minutes of churn and burn on the opening track, “Cursing The One” which sets off the album’s decidedly dark tone. Loosely defined as sludge metal, Monolord tracks feature tempo a notch higher, the production more cleanly laid out than truly murky work. This record feels like a perfect pairing after an intense session with Pallbearer’s Sorrow and Extinction. The smudged gem in the chest is the album’s closer, the title track (what should stand as their defining song) nearly seventeen expansive minutes full of subtlety and desperation, changing costumes a few times throughout.

Monolord released an album last year, Empress Rising to slight stateside acclaim. Such a shame. Their crank shop of bone crumbling heaviness is, in many places, something to behold and turn up as loud as you possibly can. The band reveals a tendency toward relentless, textured song craft. Spawned as a heavy rock outlet from a boogie rock band (their term, not mine) Vaenir is a borderline necessary record release that comes very highly recommended.

Want to drop Monolord into your library? You can check out everything you need to know about the Goethenberg band here at their Bandcamp site.