THE BREAKDOWN

Releases from February 21st

Table Of Contents

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Miss Anthropocene

By Grimes

Miss Anthropocene is Grimes’ first album in 5 years, and her fifth album overall. As a concept album, Grimes promised a focus around themes of climate change, with the titular Miss Anthropoece functioning as an anthropomorphic “Goddess” of climate change. In her fords, each song on the record represents “a different embodiment of human extinction as depicted through a pop star demonology.

The album focuses on a more dark synthpop sound, with densely layered production taking on a variety of sonic textures. Some tracks take on a more spacey art pop sound, such as the intro track “So Heavy I Fell Through The Earth”, with ethereal vocal melodies fading in and out, giving off a distinctly futuristic vibe.

Tracks like “Darkseid” and “New Gods” embody the darker side of the record, with pulsing bass and dense, gloomy sounds. On the former, Taiwanese rapper Pan lends high pitched vocals that sound innocent at first, but actually details the desolation of a past friend’s suicide.

“Violence” and “4ÆM” double down on the record’s synthpop side, with driving beats and trance-inducing melodies. “4ÆM” specifically was inspired by the music of Bollywood film Bajirao Mastani, which Grimes wanted to give a futuristic cyberpunk reimagining to.

Across the album, there are tons of different musical influences and twists – on “You’ll miss me when I’m not around” Grimes even goes in the direction of grunge rock and nu metal.

While the album is colorful and eclectic, it feels like it falls short on its thematic promise – whereas “New Gods” and “Violence” may more directly tackle some of the concepts Grimes promised, as a whole, it feels like the conceptual depth isn’t really what she’d made it out to be. While it’s disappointing to feel like the ideas weren’t fully realized, Grimes still has put together a fun, interesting, and thought-provoking record.

I give Miss Anthropocene by Grimes a 3.5 out of 5.

Telemark

By Ihsahn

Telemark is the newest solo release from Norwegian black metal legend Ihsahn, the first of several shorter EPs Ihshan plans to release in the near future. Inspired by his home, this is Ihsahn’s first work to feature songwriting in his native Norwegian. Sonically, Ihsahn said Telemark was intended to be most influenced by a classic black metal sound, as opposed to the more progressive and melodic works from Ihsahn’s solo catalog.

The punchy, startling rhythm of the opening track “Stridig” immediately brings the tension up to ten, with the occasional brass melodies somehow making some consonance out of all the insanity surrounding them. The slow bridge towards the middle of the song maintains the stark, dour tone while shedding the previous aggression, before coalescing in an oddly uplifting way. The track returns to its original motifs as Ihsahn’s tortured screams increase in intensity, becoming a rhythmic chant ending the song with a bang.

Following is “Nord” which starts out more melodic, but is still as dissonant and foreboding as its predecessor. The tension is maintained through the bridge, with descending backing vocals adding to the bitter cold of the track. Ihsahn is often able to blend his skeletal, grating vocals with more melodic textures in a way that other artists just can’t, and this track exemplifies that perfectly. The bridge deconstructs the track, with rhythmic chords slowly building up to a beautifully melodic guitar solo that softens the track’s cruel exterior while emphasizing Ihsahn’s compositional mastery.

“Telemark” opens up with more of the brass instrumentals from earlier, ushering in a foreboding lead guitar melody in harmonic minor, giving the track a vaguely Arabic flavor. The drawn-out instrumentals from the intro perfectly set up the listener for Ihsahn’s harsh vocal introduction as the energy escalates. The drums escalate to blast beats and the intro melody continues iterating in the background, as Ihsahn continues to tie various passages together assaulting the listener with unhinged creative fury.

The final two tracks on the EP are covers – one of Lenny Kravitz’s “Rock And Roll Is Dead” and one of Iron Maiden’s “Wrathchild”. “Rock And Roll Is Dead” tries to maintain Ihsahn’s personal style, while also paying proper homage to its source material. The detached clean vocals on the hook help to keep the track from venturing too far from the black metal style Ihsahn is trying to achieve, but ultimately it proves incredibly hard to make a Lenny Kravitz song into a black metal cover as the track feels disconnected from those preceding it. Thankfully, the galloping rhythm of “Wrathchild” makes up for this, as Iron Maiden’s traditional metal writing meshes much better with Ihsahn’s creative taste as he takes this heavy metal classic for a spin.’

Ihsahn has once again made it clear that he’s a formidable creative force in the metal world. Blending different metal and rock aesthetics together has always been a talent of his, and after two solid albums (Arktis & Amr) he’s making it clear that although he’s not releasing another full-length in the immediate future, he’s as prolific as ever. Telemark highlights the best of Ihsahn’s black metal sound in a less grandiose, but equally impressive way as previous efforts.

I give Telemark by Ihsahn a 4 out of 5.

Other New Releases

There’s not enough time for me to give a full review to every project that comes out – so here’s the rest of the new music that I listened to and enjoyed this week but didn’t have a chance to review.

The Allegory

By Royce Da 5’9″ // Album

Man Alive

By King Krule // Album

Ordinary Man

By Ozzy Osbourne // Album