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P.O.S.: Never Better (Rhymesayers)
The rapper P.O.S claims to have written the vast majority of Never Better while riding in a moving vehicle. Other than the fact that this probably made it really hard to transcribe the notes he scribbled in the old Mead, it’s unclear how this affected Never Better. Besides, it’s really the Minneapolis native’s work on the production side of things that defines the album—his tracks are as thick with feedback and screechy guitar as they are kicks, snares, and hi-hats. The press accompanying the album says that critics will be “eager to categorize the album as a hybrid.” Well, yeah. What do you expect us to do with a hip-hop album that incorporates elements of metal, repurposes lyrics from Fugazi’s “Five Corporations,” and name-checks Savion Glover? (Sarah Godfrey)
Æthenor: Faking Gold & Murder (VHF)
Æthenor initially began as a power trio of sorts, with a core consisting of Stephen O’Malley (Sunn O))), KTL, etc.), Vincent De Roguin (Shora), and Daniel O’Sullivan (Guapo) crafting slothful clouds of organ and guitar eeriness. Their sophomore record, Betimes Black Cloudmasses, expanded the group’s ranks, incorporating percussion from the likes of Nicolas Field and Alex Babel. Faking Gold and Murder takes things even further, retaining Field and Babel’s percussive flourish while inviting Alexander Tucker on guitar and the legendary David Tibet (Current 93, Psychic TV, Nurse With Wound) to deliver his apocalyptic poetry. As wicked and psychedelic as it gets, Faking Gold dwells further on the fantastic blackness you’ve come to expect from O’Malley, complete with a few extra helpings of meticulous sonic attention. This one’s also available on 180-gram, deluxe LP too — another wet dream for vinyl enthusiasts and doom-drone connoisseurs alike. (Cole Goins)
Zombi: Spirit Animal (Relapse)
Trying to find a moment of subtlety on Spirit Animal, the third LP by Pittsburgh prog-rock duo Zombi, is kind of like trying to find a tasteful scene in Troma flick. It just isn’t there. Like the synth-heavy vintage b-movie soundracks that the band frequently plunders, Zombi’s songs are horror movie mood-music with little use for emotional ambiguity. Instead they use sequenced keyboards and a Neal Pert-size drum kit to evoke awe (“Spirit Animal”), triumph (“Through Time”), and alien beast-induced dread (“Earthly Powers”) one ten-minute jam at a time. But those old John Carpenter sound cues only needed about a minute to tell you that the bad guys were coming. Not so with Zombi’s compositions, which die down only to rise up again and again like some latex monster. That bludgeoning repetition has its virtues though—it’s easy to let that ceaseless metal-meets-italo-disco pulse carry you away, or rather, guide you into some sort of undead trance. (Aaron Leitko)