Britney Spears – …Baby One More Time (album review)

There might be other albums to start Bubble-gums & Lollipops section in the Rubber Axe webzine‘s music reviews, but one thing is for sure – with an exception of the undiscovered and uncontacted tribes from the jungle, I think almost everyone on the planet Earth is aware of Britney Spears. Nope, we can‘t start with anyone else.

Britney‘s debut album from 1999 has produced the international hit #1 in the „…Baby One More Time“. Quite a surprise, listening to the album in the end of 2018 it‘s really hard to find out why the single has clicked that much with the audience (although my theory is, with considerable length of time and constant rotation in TV and radio one can manufacture a hit even from the mooing cow, no offense), with minimal drum beat and slight funky guitar slowly getting full blown with the background choir…but it has. Not for the first time, but the teen pop princess has been born, ladies and gentlemen.

The album opens with this song, followed by „(You Drive Me) Crazy“, which exploits the same format – simple beat, funky guitar, multiple choruses and – in the accompanying video – nicely choreographed dancing of the teen crowd. Tank tops and cleavages, blonde hair – all calculated and produced to get the maximum effect. Well, you evidently can step into the same river twice…Britney‘s producers approve.

Dear Lord…I do remember also the third track, another single and video, entitled „Sometimes“. Now that‘s the pure essence of American lolli-pop. Why can‘t I be a teenager again…but again, from a selling point of view, we all need to agree that this song is spotless. Britney in white, bright colors, innocent looks and appealing lyrics…and at least no funky guitars this time (it‘s more Latino), although the basic drumbeat survives. I don‘t expect technical death metal in teen music, so this is not really a biting comment. I like this song, folks, I really do. There is indeed a romantic soul down deep in my body.

„Soda Pop“ is not only another fitting description of the style, but also track number 4. Light reggae sound is amplified by Mikey Bassie providing the classic reggae vocals, and let‘s be honest, he‘s nothing special, but also probably just enough for a pop album.Someone should call Shabba Ranks, but that‘s just my opinion.

And another single with a video, „Born To Make You Happy“ and Britney looks better than before. Shorter hair and shiny blond gave way to a dark blond – brown color, what‘s not to like here. From the reggae experimenting we are back firmly in the lolli-pop and classic, familiar, setting. And I have to admit, this was another earworm, but it also has had quite a rotation, so that‘s why. It‘s a nice tune, predictable, calculated…but nice. And sometimes I don‘t want anything but that.

If you suffer from diabetes, you should definitely avoid „From the Bottom of My Broken Heart“, because the amount of sugar is dangerously high here. Yep, we are in the „pop ballad“ territory and although there are some I can enjoy, this one it certainly ain´t. I‘m trying desperately recall where I did hear the tune before, because it sounds very familiar (at least the first verse of the chorus), but nevertheless…for ballads, I’m gonna look to some other artists. (Unless I am back in my post-teen years dancing with some girl…then it can be on repeat, lol).

Luckily, we are back in the fresh rhythmic tune with “I Will Be There” and I’ll be damned, but this is – at last in the beginning – a sibling of “Quit Playing Games” by Backstreet Boys! Indeed, the similarity doesn’t end with the acoustic guitar…give it a listen and tell me you don’t hear it. But this one is faster and I guess I like it more. It just more-less proves the conveyor-belt production of modern mainstream music. But if it’snot broken…you know.

Can we miss a duet? No, we really can’t. So “I Will Still Love You”brings up Don Phillip, who I don’t know, and I am pretty sure I’m not going to try to find, anyway, the song is quite forgettable. Well, I have my favorites in duets and this just didn’t cut it. Sorry.

But the very next one, “Deep in My Heart” is something Whitney Houston could sing, and it reminds me – just a little – of Chaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman” remake by the late great singer. Finally some fresh beats, the hi-hat sounds just great, keyboards and strings replacing guitar makes this song quite a nice treat. I’m actually surprised this one didn’t make it to a single, as it’s absolutely above the level of the other songs on this album.

Although the next one, “Thinkin’ About You” is also way different from the others, I can’t really get into it, so I don’t have much to say about it. Great beats, tho. No, wait. It’s actually interesting, although it takes its time to grow on the listener. And it’s quite funny to hear this whizzing line many of the hip-hop artists used in their stuff back in the day (remember Nuthin’ But a G Thang?).

Experimenting’s over. “E-Mail My Heart” is another awful ballad and a complete filler. Do yourself a favor and skip that one, there is no redeeming quality init.

And why the airwaves never played “The Beat Goes On”? That’s one hell of dirty sounding track here! Now we’re talkin’, baby! Fantastic beats, great sounding bass-line, fitting Britney’s vocals (indeed, nothing of the sugary-sweet teen voice we all know), interestingly used effects. This should be a hit – but it was not,unfortunately.

Another ballad and just kill me now. “I’ll Never Stop Loving You” is probably good for making love (no doubt about that), but as a song, it’s awful. Obviously, ballads heal broken hearts, but here they just hurt my ears. Fast forward to…

“Autumn Goodbye”. And this one is nice, reminding me of Janet Jackson’s “Together Again”, so I can’t complain. Nope, this is not a ballad, we’re safe here. Actually uplifting tune this one is, and a nice ending for this album.

Last two tracks are remixes of “…Baby One More Time”. First comes Davidson Ospina Radio Mix, then Boy Wunder Radio Mix. I hate most of the remixes, but I hate with passion “faster” remixes of originally mid-tempo or slow songs. But at least Boy Wunder’s stuff is quite listenable, but Davidson Ospina remix…let’s just move on, shall we?

A father to two little perpetuum mobiles called kids, Rudolf is a main force behind The Rubber Axe webzine, a bookworm, musick lover and a movie fan - not to mention his virgin forays into the comics and board/card games.

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Fragment Soul – Axiom of Choice (a review)

The link for these Greek doom melancholics arrived to my mailbox a long time ago, and I’ve almost forgotten about it. Yes, I know. Im am irresponsible sometimes.

However, I’ve started my spring cleaning also in my accounts and so I’ve come across Axiom of Choice – and what a beautiful album it is.

4 long compositions in 3 seconds over 42 minutes, that’s the progressive doom dessert from Greece. No feta cheese, though, that’s for sure.

You might know already that my musical tastes are all over the place, and although some might argue it won’t allow me to concentrate fully on a particular genre, I think it gives me an opportunity to enjoy music without too much of a comparison.

And therefore I can enjoy Fragment Soul and their work of art for what it is. And it’s a beautiful, melancholic, gloomy collection – however, not a depressive one, I’d say. It’s something you would play during the rainy day, laying alone in your bed and just floating in space of your thoughts and memories. For the fans of Draconian it might be pointed out, that Heike Langhans collaborated on this album, and there’s also a guest person – Egan O’Rourke from Daylight Dies.

I like it a lot. For a seasoned fans of the doom genre it might not be earth-shattering, and I’m not gonna argue it is. But if you want to spend 42:03 minutes of your life with an aural balsam for your ears and soul, this might be something you might like to check.

Album stream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQupuFFlbOo

Malauriu – Malauriu (a 2022 album review)

Recently I’ve lent my ear to some nice black metal releases, so when I’ve got this promo from Italy for a review, it’s been only a matter of time when it will attack both my ears.

…and the day has come.

Malauriu are certainly no new-comers, haling from the Italian underground since 2013. I am not familiar with their previous output, but with the opening track, “Morto Era L’oro”, it is clear what they meant by “a new chapter of experimentation between dark ambient and Mediterranean sound”, which was the description they’ve used in the promo e-mail. Well, they haven’t lied.

The album contains 4 long compositions, the shortest one clocks in 10:52 (“Corpo Tempio), the longest will stay in your aural orifices for almost 12 minutes (11:50 long “Specula”).

A mix between ritualistic darkwave and a poetry reading, lyrics in Italian, along with the music itself, evoke the best moments of watching Italian horror/occult/supernatural movies – minus the video segment, of course.

Not much of a black metal per se, nevertheless, this is right in my comfort zone, as I’ll never say no to the atmosphere inducing soundscape.

The album will be released on April 1st, 2022, in a CD and digital format via the Italian label Nero Corvino, so if that’s your kind of music, you definitely won’t go wrong getting it.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/malauriuofficial

Costectomy/Nyctophagia – “Drone Hunting Missionaries For Sport” (a 2021 split review)

After some time spent checking not so usual music with my other webpage Indokult, dedicated to the Indonesian music , I’ve started craving some more unhinged underground music again. To be precise, good old goregrind and gorenoise. No, I won’t call it a “fix”, haha, but truth is – sometimes it’s just what the doctor has ordered. You know…going full circle and so forth…

Now, with the genre selected, the next important question was – with so much to choose from, what to play? For that, I’ve checked a Olga Lazarus’ new label Strangulation Furrow on Bandcamp. You might remember Olga from the interview I did with her for the Rubber Axe webzine here. Since then she’s relocated to the USA and started a new label, it’s only logical to show her some support! Yes, freaks, some support!!!

Olga is a busy bee and so far she has released some nice releases (mostly tapes, but also a CD and a 7” EP), plus she’s printing the t-shirts herself. Talk about some dedication here!

So, with that being said, I’ve chosen to review a split between Costectomy and Nyctophagia titled “Drone Hunting Missionaries For Sport”. 14 groovy tracks in total.

A tape version from Strangulation Furrow label

First to offer the putrid sonic fruits is Costectomy, which is Chud’s (Ulcerated Offal, Cystoblastosis, ex-Hit-Run Drivers etc.) project based in Eliot (Maine, USA). 6 tracks in total of great sounding goregrind (yes, the aforementioned groovy kind), enriched by the samples from the horror/gore movies, exactly the way I like it. You know, I love intros/outros! Damn, thinking about that, I am pretty much easily pleased, haha! Well, it’s true. However, when you are faced with stuff like this, that’s not so hard. Great stuff here. Oh, not to forget, the last song is a cover of Dysmenorrheic Hemmorage, “Affliction”.

The rest of the release belongs to Nyctophagia, currently an 1-man unstoppable grinding machine from Ohio and if you can count on your rotten fingers, you know that means 8 tracks left to enjoy!

Unlike Costectomy, Nyctophagia plays more of a little faster death/grind, more of a bulldozer than a groove, however I can’t complain here neither and so won’t you. Really, what’s here not to enjoy?

The split is over almost in no time – which is probably the only negative I can say about it. For those collectors of the physical release, this was released in 2021 on a pro CD-R by Costectomy Records (but according the info it’s already sold out) and Olga’s label has released it on in a tape version. Go check and grab it while you can!

Bandcamp: https://strangulationfurrowrecords.bandcamp.com/album/costectomy-nyctophagia-split

VA – Gorenoise megasplit vol. 1

It’s been quite a while since I’d reviewed anything gorenoise related. Gorenoise Megasplit volume 1, the compilation I’m going to write a few words about, was sent to me by our friends in the Italian label Nosevomit Records quite a long time ago, and I am ashamed to have waited for so long before reviewing it. Well, time to wait is over, let’s have a look how ugly this boy turned out to be!

Opening the compilation is Italian gorenoise project Bronchospasm with the track “Pneumoconiosis”, the cool 4:05 track and it’s quite interesting, not the typical blasting sh*t I’d expect, it’s more like an experimental noise track, with drums beats here and there, but straight away, I am impressed and I need to check this project little more closer. And, by the way, they are associated with this little record label: https://www.facebook.com/unauthorizedsurgeonsclub/

The second to dissect is another Italian pathology combo – Conforming To Survive – with the three tracks, “Severed Mutation of the Upper Limbs”, “Gnawing the Intestines” and “Cursed Flesh Grimoire”. Rehearsal recording, with a rather goregrind/noise chaos, and again, I am revelling in this! Building from the shortest track to the longest one (which clocks in 3:39), there’s plenty of filth to like here!

But then…it’s a gorenoise proper! American project Hydroencephalocystocele steals the show with its “13 Traxx Untitled” and for all those looking for a really cool gorenoise, now it’s the time. Bubbles and noise, what can go wrong, right? I’d welcome more variability here, but otherwise, can’t complain.

Mucopurulence’s section opens with a cool intro, which intro-duces (lol) us to to f*ckin awesome goregrind track “Copro Corpse Copulation”. This stuff raises the dead! Mucupurulence hails from Finland and because they kick ass, they offer 5 tracks here – Copro Corpse Mutilation, Putrid Bile of Shit, A Collection of Colons and Entrails, Ceaseless Violent Defecating, Choking on Swollen Tongue and Vomit – all the future classicks, I am sure! Not too long, not too short, they are perfect! I really enjoy these, and the song titles remind me of the times we used to come up with the most insane titles too!!!

This nice compilation closes with 5 gorenoise tracks (Adiction, Another Disease; Ear Atrocities, Head Hole, Inhuman Glass and Taenia Solium) from Saccopharynx. This Mexican project offers an interesting mix of blasting drums, bubbling, gurgling vokills…and probably even a kitchen sink thrown in for a good measure, and it works.

The whole compilation can be heard on the Nosevomit’s Bandcamp, and what’s even better, you can get a CD-R of it too!!! What are you waiting for then?

https://nosevomitrecords.bandcamp.com/album/gorenoise-megasplit-vol-i

Where fire burns eternally: Eternal Kingdom of Fire, volume 5 (digital promo review)

Those of you who read the Rubber Axe regularly, will might recall the review I’ve written for a previous release of this compilation series, namely volume 2.

Well, time flies and a few days ago a new batch has arrived to my mailbox, this time it was the latest invocation, namely the volume 5.

10 bands, 10 songs. However…what songs these are!

Opening this compilation tape is Winter Eternal from Greece (lately of Scotland, according to available information) with the song “Crown of Stars” (also on this project’s 2021 full length “Land of Darkness”). F**king brilliant tune, I can hardly think of a better opening. Interesting, well thought of, well played. And a well received here, that’s no doubt about that. I like the use of instruments and the melodies.

Russian strikeforce Ophidian Malice, on the other hand, take no prisoners and relentlessly bash the listener with their furious black metal vibe. “Saviour” is the song from their debut 2021 full-length “Disgusting Ritual” and it definitely shows the band in the good (un)light.

So far, I am really enjoying the comp.

With Skorbvstr, the raw black metal ferocity from Kentucky (USA) we have first exclusivity here, as I think their song “Diskusjonen er avsluttet” is available here only. I might be wrong though. I am little surprised with the use of, what is it Norwegian language?…but the guy might be from Scandinavia, so there’s that. As for the music, I have to admit I am starting to develop a certain liking for the raw BM (which, as many might know, is not one of my favourite subgenres), and there are some elements I really enjoy here.

“Pain Enshrouded Dirge” from Desecration Rites is our very next song, and the second longest offering from this compilation. I’d say there’s a certain inspiration from old Burzum (which is not a bad thing, what do you think?), and even it delivers the goods (so to speak) even with the simplicity of melody, riffs and hypnotic drumbeat. Well, you know…the old school, the good way.

Alpgeist hails from Bavaria (Germany) and presents to you their hymn “Moor in der Todtenau”. Yes, I can definitely say I like this approach a lot more than the raw BM subgenre. Dark, melancholic and melodic, I really like the guitar riffs here…the whole song is one welcoming energy boost in my current depressive mood. Can a black metal song be viewed as a positive booster? I’d say so, so this applies. I am really loving this one.

Zmyrna can be classed as Alpgeist’s neighbour, as guys come from Czech Republic, and their “Pagus Maledictus” offers yet another fascinating look into the black metal subgenre – guys not only sing about mystical stuff and medieval life, their music also evokes the fires of the dark ages and the suffering through the ages. This song is certainly a weird one, very unexpected, but as I’ve said – fascinating (in a good sense). The song itself comes from their only material to date, the 2021 self-titled EP.

And now, ladies and gentlemen – the longest track of this compilation. Necrodes and “Swept Away”, from its 2021 full-length “Isolation”. Wow, what a vocal! Imagine maniacal, hysterical cries with some gurgling and you might start to have an idea. Although, I guess the best bet is to have a listen. However, I think more of DSBM than atmospheric BM here, but that’s just my opinion. Unfortunately, these days I am rarely fond of long compositions and I’ve got a little bored here, sorry.

Necrocarnation hails from Germany now, but from what I could find, they are from Argentina, and on this nice compilation they bring to your attention their black/death metal sacrifice with their song “Antarctic”, which is also the opener of their 2020 EP “Fragments of Dark Eternity”. And I have to say, I like this stuff! Especially vokills, which sound really killer! Kudos to the compiler, as I really welcome the diversity of the subgenres while still being true to the black metal genre as a whole.

Finnish duo Svartheim play strict black metal, which might sound a little generic nowadays, but I think they are aware of that, so they enrich their song “Vaiettu” (which comes from their 2021 full length debut “Black Metal Finland”) with the interesting dual vocals. And it works. Personally, I don’t really give a damn about similarity between songs or bands – if I like it, I like it, period. And Svartheim would be on my playlist. It’s simple, yet effective.

And the last band to enjoy from this compilation is Necro Forest from Croatia, with the song “Hate Divison”. Raw black metal, with little NSBM leaning, I’d guess. I am little disappointed with the sort of a ripping off Mayhem’s “Freezing Moon” in the beginning of the song , because when it starts properly, it’s not bad at all! But I think Norwegian legends have their impact on many bands…it’s not that big of an issue, but I thought it would be good to mention that. Also, likeable song.

So, that’s all, folks. Good, bad? Well, for me, undoubtedly a great compilation. I think I can safely say – I can play this without skipping a song. And that’s quite a feat.

Get it from Ancient Cult Records, while you can. Get in touch with the label via e-mail: aniquilacionsatanicapro@yahoo.com

USBM wolves: Disperser and Demo 2021 (a demo review)

Those guys wrote to me back in July, but unfortunately, I haven’t been able to do anything about it – until now. I guess we’d all agree it’s about time to kick that depression in the ass and get going again.

Anyway, enough about me. Disperser hails from New Jersey and plays USBM. So you know.

The demo contains 3 tracks, with the first one, “Lesser Stars”, being a kind of instrumental intro intervined with voices of desperation and pain, and it nicely prepares you for what’s gonna follow.

The second track, “Beggar King” brings out the material in its true form. Somewhat lo-fi recording is actually welcome here, not to hide any imperfections – shame on you if you’ve though that for a second – but to add to the atmosphere.

The song is quite short (2:36), so it basically only sketches the ability of the band to write good songs, but you’ll get and enjoy a strong bass line (again, you would remember I love that instrument), with a great painful vocals somewhere in the midfield of DSBM range (I am not really a fan of the genre, but this vocalist is spot on!) and…

…on the third track, “Splintered Ladders”, also the strange melodies of the guitar, which translates the pain into the musical notes.

Don’t know about you, but although I try to avoid depressive stuff these days (mental health can be a bitch), once in a while it’s actually good to delve into this genre.

Guys should release their first full-length this autumn, and if it’s anywhere as fine as this demo, I’ll listen to it. You should too.

Bandcamp: https://thetrvedisperser.bandcamp.com/album/demo-2021

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/TheTrueDisperser/

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