Thursday, September 25, 2014

Aeges- Above & Down Below, take 2

As promised, I want to babble a bit more about this new one.

First, I want to scare some off. Aeges do music that, like QOTSA and the Foo Fighters, is designed for a more broad audience- There are some pop rock tracks here, and some heavy songs. So, much like Red Fang, or the aforementioned Foos, some of this can come across as if it is some kind of pandering. So, for the "too hip for the room" avant gardists, and the More Metal than Metal types, this will surely disappoint, not delight.
For the rest of us, there's some great stuff to enjoy.
Track one, "Echoes" is a statement of intent- the drums come in first, hard, loud and tom-heavy. It's a definite old school QOTSA beat ( You Think I Ain't Worth a Dollar... Style) but the the bass comes in, and it's thick, and raw- way too fuzzed out and heavy for a polite bunch of thugs like QOTSA have become. When the heavily effected ( distortion, octave up and delay, if I'm right)   lead guitars answer, playing a harmony off the beat and against the sweet vocals we're off and running- minor key surge and all.
But then Track 2, "Hunter" stomps over everything. You remember Al's motto about Ministry? "Everything Louder than Everything Else"- this is everything distorted more than everything else, and downtuned, too. Seriously, the effect is H-E-A-V-Y. Yes, there's the sweet candy center of a pop melody- but you remember the "bitcrushed' sound? This is more the "Bit run over by a mack truck" sound.
Track 3 " Clouds" continues on the Tao of stompbox- but introduces some of the "Metalgaze" sound- you know, like Junius, Boris, and Hum.
Then, Track 4 mixes all these elements- a hard beat, loads of heavy distortion ( more than ZVex, gearheads) some dreamscape echoes, with a throwback early 1990's underground sound- the effect is "Bored" era Deftones, meets "White Pony" Deftones, but gets beat up by members of "We Care a Lot" Faith No More  and Soundgarden. The track is called "Parasite" and here's a video.
I'm deeply in love with the guitar tone of the next track "Fault". I can't quite tease out what all they used, but I suspect Whammy pedal, with something else- or multiple Whammy pedals, because I hear the Octave Sweep, the detune warble, and the harmonist thing. Then, it segues into the aforementioned Bitcrushing, and plays the most heavy/melodic line this side of first LP QOTSA. Great stuff, and if I fail to mention the innovative double bass drum runs, it's because the drums rock, throughout.
The next track, "My Last Words" NEEDS to be a single- it's a hazy, shoegazy swirl, but so damn heavy, with a downtuned bass line- it's like a much more melodic and dynamic American version of Jesu- yes, that good. Best American heavy dream pop since Hum. No lie.
After that "Rats" is a little step back. It sounds like it could have fit on the last LP, which is fine, and for Quicksand fiends, like me, it's very welcome, but I'm digging the new direction, so I want  to get back to the Thud and Crunch, then wave that's been the rest.
Fortunately, "Halos" the next track seems to answer that need for a big, fat, beat. And, the vocals are like an improved version of what Chris Cornell does. See, I'm ok with Chris's "regular" voice, but you know that Plant wail he tries? Hate it. Sounds like a redneck in pain to me. These guys do it right- hit the note, don't go for a mannered vocal effect that was tired in 1985. Again, a big mix of early 1990's sounds- some Faith No More, some Soundgarden, a little Deftones, and some My Bloody Valentine.
But where's the Heavy? Well, try on "Leech"- it makes a Melvins beat dance with a slide guitar and an Jerry Cantrell vocal riff. It's a Bulldozer of a song, and, again, no bad tracks, here.
I'm skipping a couple of tracks, not because they're forgettable, but because I want to get to the bonus tracks-
They could release an LP of covers, and it would rule! They didn't include this monster, but they did have a great take on Cheap Trick's "He's a Whore", Elliott Smith's "Needle in the Hay"- done like a Nirvana style, and an altogether appropriate take on COC's  " Hungry Child"- bass rumble and all. If they only did covers- on that alone, they'd rule, heavily.
As it stands, they remind me most of a genius band from the early-to-mid 1990's that never got their due- Low Pop Suicide. For those that don't know- LPS was Dave Allen from Gang of Four/ Shriekback, Jeff Ward from Ministry, and the incredible Rick Boston ( name me another guy who convincingly  did Industrial dance music, Heavy guitar Alt Rock, Rickie Lee Jones styled confessional pop folk, and retro twee soft pop ) - they could do songs that referenced Jane's Addiction, Roxy Music, and Front 242, then, do songs that referenced Bauhaus, and Bob Dylan, back to back- and it was coherent.
See, Aeges is a Los Angeles band- like Low Pop Suicide, and QOTSA, and  the best Los Angeles bands mash up sounds like spinning a radio dial- Now Aeges stick to the heavy end of the dial- Post Hardcore, Stoner Metal, and Metalgaze, but it still is such a broad range of sounds that they could only be in a cosmopolitan place like LA. Wish it was DC, so I could see 'em, but, such is life.
So, why did I need to babble more about them- because they're at that nexus point between noise and melody, aggression and serenity, and easy-going pop and burn down the churches rock that they hit several sweet spots. I really hope it hits a sweet spot for some of my friends, as well.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Aeges- Above & Down Below

Do you like "Alternative" rock? What I mean, and what's meant by the quotes- there's a type of rock music that's hard to pigeonhole- so, in the late 1980's some genius PR dude came up with Alternative to cover it. Suddenly, there was a label that encompassed everything from Jane's Addiction styled Goth-Cock Rock to the mannered psyche folk of REM. It never meant anything, of course, but it was a useful false flag in the same way that "New Wave" was- it's not punk, it's not fueled by rage, and reaction, but does have the iconoclastic spirit of exploration.
So, what Aeges does is an "Alternative" for today. It's got elements of more metallic grunge ( Soundgarden, maybe Alice in Chains) and exploratory Nu-metal ( Tool,  Barkmarket) but isn't afraid of a pretty, shoegazer styled shimmer ( My Bloody Valentine, Catherine Wheel, and early Smashing Pumpkins), or the greasy thrill of Stoner Rock ( QOTSA, Torche, Etc) but it builds all this around a post-hardcore framework ( Quicksand, Cave In) . Got that? It puts them as contemporary to Pelican, Baroness, Boris, and precious few others. This is straight up Rock, not punk or metal, but it's dedicated to a very loud iteration of the rock gene- basses get distorted here, and feedback occupies a sacred place.
So, I was a little late to their first record "The Bridge", but I've corrected that, now. I am right on their new one. I'm not going on about every track, but on first blush, the tracks  "Echoes" "Parasite" "my Last Words" "Halos" "Wasted Time" and the Cheap Trick cover "He's a Whore" are getting multiple repeat listens out of me.
Expect me to babble more about it, but if you're one of my friends more on the Heavy Stoner/ Big Block Rock side than the Shellac-y mannered noise rock end- you already have this. For the rest, look into it. They have the Rock, for real.