Album Reviews: October 1, 2018

Metric – Art Of Doubt (Toronto)

After such a long departure and a divisive last record, Metric has truly returned to their roots on this album. By blending a career's worth of sounds and reinterpreting it, they make music that is powerful but not always the most accessible. You can really hear the Old World Underground tones on "Dark Saturday" as they bring out a raw fury to their sonically shocking new approach to writing. Between some of the more experimental writing of the album, "Die Happy" lets its unusual aesthetics pop thanks to some classic hooks and infectious attitudes. Metric even bring out an emotional hopelessness on "Underline The Black" for a sucker punch to fans feelings amidst the brighter tracks here. This said it's actually "Dressed To Suppress" that becomes the most entertaining track by ramping up all their aggressive guitars to make something angry and energetic.

Arkaeus – Dawn Of Heroes (Ottawa)

Inspired by the pure idea of following your own hopes and imagination, Arkaeus has crafted a theme song to this uplifting feeling. In aspiring for the best and seeing his own path through, Arkaeus music fulfills his dreams and brings us wonder. Through "Dawn Of Heroes" EDM stomp and distinct percussion, there's a heavy drive to keep the track constantly moving along. Despite this inherently familiar core, the track fills every bit of space with wondrous synth lines and rich drums to make a full and warm sound. By taking their time to not only set up a sound but explore different ends of it, Arkaeus creates a world in this song that we want to see more of.

Emma Louise – Lilac Everything (Brisbane, Australia)

Though Emma Louise has taken a more simple and broad approach to folk-pop on her last records, she takes a more unusual direction this time around. Through minimalistic production and voice modulation that makes this a clear step away from past material, Louise has matured as an artist. "Wish You Well" really sets the tone for all these changes, as Louise's use of effects creates a whole air around her music that just wasn't there before. The true litmus test of her talent and exploration comes on the bluesy pop of "Falling Apart" where Louise crafts a song traditional and catchy, while still offering up something that sounds distinctly unique. After the somewhat dark and creepy tones that start the album, "Gentleman" shifts over to more electrified energy and sees Louise taking chances in the way she uses rhythm. "Mexico" itself is quite the surprise as all the slow and droney synths fade into an explosion of shouts to round it out. Even her weird vocal effects add meaning to the stories she tells on this record and give already emotional tracks like "Just The Way I Am" something more.

A Forest Opera – "Dead Air" (Ottawa)

Horror soundtracks have always had a power to move us and expand beyond simply scoring films. A Forest Opera brings a lot of variety to an already great theme in this collection for the short film "Dead Air" that will certainly make it a standout when "Monsterpool 4" is released as a compilation. The creepy atmosphere is set on "P.1" where bells ring and low-end bass tones call out in an ominous way. This theme is pushed even further on "P.2" as there's a much more ancient religious energy to the bass that taps into truly evil sounds. Right as you hit "P.3" the John Carpenter overtones clash excitingly with bits of Disasterpiece's "It Follows" score, for a sound that is dark and moody, while also unnervingly electronic. As the stomp hits hard on "end." you can feel that sense of final dread that comes in the final reveal of any fun horror film.

Richard Reed Parry – Quiet River Of Dust Vol 1 (Ottawa/Montreal)

Being in Arcade Fire has kept Richard Reed Parry busy, but his latest record shows that he's matured a lot through the band. By redefining what folk-pop can be, Parry asks for patience but offers up haunting worlds on his album. Through the natural sound-scapes of "Gentle Pulsing Dust" Parry builds arrangements slowly until they're completely engulfing you, and in this finds a conversational delivery to make his music feel as organic as the animals he inserts into the mix. It's refreshing however to listen to the bite-sized tracks like "Sai No Kawara (River Of Death)" too, where orchestral arrangements clash with synths and drums for a truly chaotic listen. "Song Of Wood" is one of the more inspired tracks on the album as it offers entrancing hooks in its finale and startling approaches to modern song arrangements in its drone-filled verses. Parry even taps into more ancient musical feelings on "Finally Home" where a guttural vocal cycle slowly captures the imagination to create a universally powerful sound.