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Scott Walker & Sunn O))), Godflesh, and the Mark Lanegan Band 

Sound Advice

click to enlarge Scott Walker + Sunn O)))

Scott Walker + Sunn O)))

Soused

4AD

File next to: Robert Wyatt, Swans, Xiu Xiu

Scott Walker has slowly built a reputation for dark strangeness far exceeding that of his 1960s crooning with The Walker Brothers ("Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Any More"). His rich tenor voice displays an operatic quality, exploring eerie and introspective regions similar to Diamanda Galas. Although his partners for this project are famous for formless drone, the five long compositions on Soused display more musical structure than Walker's delightfully bizarre 2012 album, Bish Bosch. The Sunn O))) treatments resemble Fripp and Eno's Evening Star, but they're layered with Walker's anxious re-imaginings of Broadway show tunes ("no raindrops on roses, no whiskers on kittens") and abstract poetry. What keeps the album from being pretentious is Sunn O)))'s scary electronic presence, and Walker's demanding and soaring voice. It's a perfect Halloween soundtrack. — Loring Wirbel

click to enlarge Mark Lanegan Band

Godflesh

A World Lit Only by Fire

Avalanche Recordings

File next to: Swans, Neurosis, Killing Joke

A blighted landscape, spare and dingy. Great drills and gears digging deep into the bleeding earth. A night lit only by factories belching flame. These are some of the images inspired by Justin Broadrick's newest Godflesh album. The music is sparse and rhythmic, relying on repetitive guitar and bass lines over a drum machine. Occasionally, Broadrick injects guttural, distorted vocals or little electronic effects and samples into the mechanical churn. He and bassist G.C. Green build some killer grooves, too — especially on "Shut Me Down." But the album as a whole is a relentless, low-register beating and grinding that crosses the line into serious claustrophobia territory. Unlike their more palatable cousins in Fear Factory and Ministry, Godflesh have little interest in metal theatrics. If you can stand the smell and the darkness of this cramped little experience, it's rewarding. — Griffin Swartzell

click to enlarge Godflesh

Mark Lanegan Band

Phantom Radio

Vagrant

File next to: Nick Cave, Wovenhand

Mark Lanegan used to release some solid solo efforts in between outings with Screaming Trees, Isobel Campbell, and Queens of the Stone Age. While recent solo acoustic efforts have been less memorable, those billed as the “Mark Lanegan Band” recall his best ’90s work. This album is no exception (if not their finest), a far cry from 2012’s Blues Funeral album, which brought out the pomp and circumstance in Lanegan’s baritone voice, as though Tom Waits was fronting an arena-rock band. Phantom Radio has more of a country-western Americana feel, seemingly carved from the Steve Earle roster. Lanegan still gains some rich riffs from Alain Johannes’ guitar, but the music loses a little bit of urgency. While there are many memorable songs like “The Killing Season,” the album as a whole is more of a high lonesome affair suitable for long drives in the country. — Loring Wirbel

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