ALBUM OF THE WEEK
Tool “Opiate” EP
Released: March 10th 1992
Label: Zoo Entertainment
After forming in 1990 and spending the first two years as a band writing and playing live shows, Tool signed to alternative rock label Zoo Entertainment and soon after released their first Extended Play “Opiate”. Consisting of six songs and one sneaky bonus track, the EP rocks out hard and slaps you in the face continually with its punchy drums, heavy guitar and bass riffs as well as Maynard’s melodic yell style vocals. This album really allows you to dive in and experience early Tool and hear where the swells and musical development all began.
The overall sound of the album is quite raw and grungey, and you can hear where the music would have sat amongst the likes of Alice In Chains and Soundgarden, but with noticeably heavier riffs, which would later re-define heavy metal. Even this early EP proves how the band challenged the traditional metal sound and pushed the boundaries into a more progressive/alternative style of metal. The opening track starts off with a heavy groove that really sets the vibe for the entire EP, before Maynard comes in with his signature eerie vocals. The song develops from riff to riff before sending you into the second song on the album, the bands only single released off the album, “Hush”. The song is supposedly about music censorship, which is somewhat evident from the repeated “I can’t say what I want to, even if I’m not serious”. There are also two live tracks on the album, “Cold & Ugly” and “Jerk Off” which were recorded especially for the EP at a New Years Eve gig in 1991. Though live, the sound quality and playing ability isn’t hindered in the slightest, but instead maintains the drive and vibe presented in the previous tracks, yet allows you to feel closer and more engaged to the music. You’re then sent into the title track “Opiate”, which starts quite withdrawn but manages to build into the power storm that every other track on the EP has proved to build to. And just when you thought it was over, a hidden track plays that screams the influence of The Beatles’ “Within You Without You” mixed with The Doors’ “The End” but with an eerie melancholic Maynard twist that admittedly sends you down yet another rabbit hole.
Full of drive, groove and the beginnings of Tool’s varied yet definable soundscape, “Opiate” is twenty-seven minutes of your time you won’t mind giving up. All in all, whether you’re a lover of Tool or want to dip your toes into the pool of progressive metal, I would highly recommend giving this album a spin.
Album of the week
Wolf Alice “Visions of a Life”
Released: 29th September 2017
Label: Dirty Hit (Independent)
Forming in 2010, Wolf Alice have developed a very organic following with the emphasis of their success based on gigging, the release of four EP’s and now two full length albums. After their debut album “My Love Is Cool” successfully reached #2 on the UK charts in 2015, it’s safe to say fans were highly anticipating the release of new music to continue the love affair with the grunge pop Brit outfit.
“Heavenward” is the opening track on the album and starts big and open with reverb saturated guitars and Ellie’s ethereal vocals, before slamming you in the face with the angsty punk antics of “Yuk Fu”, the first single released from the album. With vocal screams and distressed guitars, the song pumps you up and fills you with a confidence that makes you wanna go pull on your jean jacket and doc martens and go yell at something. Following this angst is another shift in style, with “Beautifully Unconventional”, a soft rock 50’s bop number about staying true to yourself. The rest of the album continues to filter through different genre tags whilst still maintaining the signature Wolf Alice alt-rock vibe. From western ballad vibe to folky acoustic to a grunge fuzz whirlpool, this album pushes and pulls and sends you on a journey through all the feels, before finally winding up at the title track “Visions of a Life”, the grungey power ballad the whole album has been preparing you for.
It’s evident that this record is quite a leap forward from the previous album, with greater experimentation of sound and song development. I recommend chucking it through some headphones to really grasp all the layers and raw textures of the production. It may take a listen or two to really appreciate its differences from the bands previous release, but it’s truly worthwhile.
This weeks top pick is Glass Animals “How To Be A Human Being”. Released August 26th 2016 it’s been gracing the airwaves for a little over a year now, and it just keeps getting better with every listen.
Forming back in 2010 in university, the boys have successfully produced a run of extended plays, a debut album and with a couple of world tours under their belt, the Glass Animal gents had a lot more to get off their chests. So their sophomore LP “How To Be A Human Being” was birthed.
The album opens up with a vibin’ jungle drumbeat, instantly sending you on a journey. Tasty samples start adding their way into the mix before singer Dave Bayley comes in with his unique vocal style and signature quirky yet realistic lyricism that everyone has grown to love. You’re already hooked but once the chorus kicks in you’re instantly taken on the groove train and it sails you through for the rest of the album. Another standout track is “Season 2 Episode 3”, with its funky video game-esk samples and somewhat “Gooey” vibe. It feels comfy, like a warm hug, but with extra zazz that leaves you wanting more. Other fab tracks on the album are “Mama’s Gun”, “Cane Suga” and “Poplar St”.
So if you’re up for a majestic lyrical journey or some smooth beats to help you get through the work week, then this album is highly recommended.
Another album of the week, this time, British dreamy electro pop trio London Grammar have returned with their long awaited sophomore album “Truth Is A Beautiful Thing.” It’s been four years since the release of the band’s stellar debut record “If You Wait”, so its safe to say this album has been highly anticipated.
Upon my first listen I found myself instantly drawn in, with the band’s signature reverberative ambience and singer Hannah’s dreamy yet strong vocals. It felt like home, warm and comfortable. But there’s something different. Maybe it’s the members’ personal development or the push to create something more expansive then the last album. Whatever it is, I love it. The album takes you on a gorgeous melodic journey, with highs and lows that create a push pull flow like waves in the ocean. Stand out tracks on the album would have to be the opener “Rooting For You”, “Wild Eyed”, “Leave The War Without Me” and of course the title track “Truth Is A Beautiful Thing”, which is somewhat of a pulled back piano ballad that tugs hard at the heart strings. Also the deluxe edition of the album throws in four bonus tracks, which includes a live rendition of The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony” that will melt your soul and send you to heaven.
All in all, if you’re up for something chill but shows strength with melodic grooves that keep your body moving, then this album is for you. Chuck it on your player or throw it through your headphones and treat yourself to some ambient Mondayarvo vibes.
Record: A.B. Original – Reclaim Australia
Featuring the likes of incredible guests Archie Roach, Dan Sultan, Hau, Thelma Plum and the late Gurrumul; Briggs and Trials released their 2016 breakout record via Hilltop Hoods label, Golden Era records in November.
It’s a team favourite at Foundry Records, and whether you’re a hip hop head or not, the record hits home with tracks like January 26 calling to arms those in support of changing the date of Australia Day, and the whole album forcing us all to take a hard look at relations of Australians of all colours. Beyond the strong and necessary message that creates the foundations of this album, there is a level of playfulness as these two veteran wordsmiths take us on a 12 track lyrical journey using truth, humour and rhythm.
It’s our album of the week thanks to its hard hitting lyrics, head bopping beats and because any lyric, beat or voice that says racism sucks deserves a helluva lot of attention, for months, and years after it’s release.