Picks: Ether, Execration, Nine Inch Nails

This section of the summer tends to be pretty quiet for new releases in the world of rock and metal. The festival season gives way to the post-festivals touring circuit and there’s not a lot of new stuff coming out. And yet, year after year, it’s also true that there are still gems to be unearthed. Here are a handful of them.

Ether
There Is Nothing Left For Me Here
Dead Truth Recordings
[Spotify]

There Is Nothing Left For Me Here is the second album by Fort Lauderdale’s Ether, and it’s a triumph. It’s a lengthy, expansive and interesting record dominated by slow, stomping sludge. Ether’s booming clean vocals and sporadic aggressive riffing add texture to the experimental deliberation that underpins the songs. Weave in a few perfectly placed strings and you’ve got a blend worth getting excited about. Oh, and that’s all just from ‘For Every Nail, A Noose’, the first full song on the album. For all that, there’s no lack of punch. See ‘We Are The Empty Vessel Where Life Used To Grow’ for details.

Execration
Return To The Void
Metal Blade
[Spotify]

Our favourite Norwegian contributions so far in 2017 have come from Blood Command and IEatHeartAttacks, but this album by Oslo four-piece Execration is far more metal than either. Basic it ain’t, but Return To The Void – the band’s fourth full-length – is a meaty, deathy record powered forth by riffs and rage. Opener ‘Eternal Recurrence’, though, shows off the deft musicality that allows Execration to take parts of their songs off into a different realm (the void, presumably) before bringing them back to the flat-out fury that keeps this album energetic and exciting as well as artistically fulfilling.

Nine Inch Nails
Add Violence
The Null Corporation
[Spotify]

You’ll have to look closely to find a reason to question Trent Reznor’s creative vitality. Nine Inch Nails is an outlet that’s undergone many transformations, none of them vacuous or slipshod. In combination, 2016’s Not The Actual Events and Add Violence suggest positive progress under the new line-up. ‘Less Than’ is one of the songs of the year in any genre anywhere, and the four tracks that follow are delightfully weird, sparse, intense, dark and just so very Reznor. ‘The Lover’ and ‘This Isn’t The Place’ wouldn’t be out of place in the bowels of The Fragile, and that’s not a place artists tend to strive for unless their confidence and conviction are bubbling over. I love it.

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