Facebook Slider
Kenneth McMurtrie

Kenneth McMurtrie

Wino & Conny Ochs - Freedom Conspiracy

Previously best known to me from the days when collecting sub-mainstream metal albums was high on my agenda, making St. Vitus an important discovery, on Freedom Conspiracy Scott ‘Wino’ Weinrich reveals a hitherto unexpected side with his acoustic, country-ish songs.

With the album’s cover bringing to mind John Fahey there was a pretty good chance that what it contained wouldn’t be exactly doom metal but the clarity of tracks such as ‘Timeless Spirit’ was a real revelation. The duel guitar work & harmonising that the collaboration with Germany’s Conny Ochs allows for makes for some very effective yet sparse inclusions in the album’s 13 tracks, particularly on ‘The Dirt Floor’. Ochs & Wino previously collaborated on the Heavy Kingdom album from 2012.

Electricity & a bit of a quickening of pace come into the mix on ‘Heavy Heart’ as the guys kick it up a gear to tell a tale of love gone bad. As far as subject matter on the whole album goes though it’s safe to say this is one of the staples – you probably shouldn’t be on the gin and alone on a weekend night when playing Freedom Conspiracy.

Given Wino’s normally gruff vocals with St. Vitus, The Obsessed, Dave Grohl’s Probot etc. the singing here is on a par with the difference between Slipknot & Stone Sour. If asked to predict a contemporary that he’d probably sound like there’s a good chance that Steve Earle or Mark Lanegan would be high in the survey but his tones manage to be far lighter than either of them. Maybe he gave up smoking at an early age. Monster Magnet’s Dave Wyndorf is probably the best comparison, at least on the songs where his vocals really reach out (‘Crystal Madonna’ for one example).

Freedom Conspiracy isn’t, therefore, a driving album in either sense of the word & nor is it one you’re going to play at your housewarming but it’s a deeply considered work from two musicians on top form and one that further shines a light on Wino’s versatility. A good lesson in the art of not pigeonholing people.

Freedom Conspiracy is available from amazon & iTunes.

Lower Dens - Escape From Evil

By opting for something akin to a Bassett's Allsorts advert for the cover of third album Escape From Evil Lower Dens, in stepping away from their resolutely black & white previous cover art, give a handy visual signal that what's contained within is also of a more colourful nature.

There's a greater expansiveness to opening track 'Sucker's Shangri-la' than the band have previously been known for with Jana Hunter's vocals shining through her self-production to a far higher degree than in the past. This in turn elevates her overall presence across the album's ten tracks. The signs were always there of course but clearly the band needed to work up to this point at their own pace, achieving a body of work in the process that although differing noticeably from its earliest point to its latest yet remains cohesively linked.
Bigger venues surely beckon for the band's next time out on the road, a fact that may well fill long term fans with horror but which the group now seem entirely ready for, both in terms of having the songs to reach every corner of those halls and the greater confidence with which to deliver them. They'd have got there eventually but with Escape From Evil under their belts the awkward transition that in the main dogs such steps up at a certain point has definitely been side-stepped.    
2012's Nootropics exposed a greater number of people to Lower Dens' textural and more left-field abilities whilst Hunter's stand against the likes of Spotify did much to highlight the iniquities of the payments made by such websites. With Escape From Evil the band will hopefully continue to manage to have no recourse to the latter as they comprehensively build on that growing fan-base with this set of warm, cleanly produced and tonally absorbing songs. 

Escape From Evil is available from amazon & iTunes.

Subscribe to this RSS feed