Ben Watt, better known as one-half of alterna-pop British duo Everything But the Girl and now a successful DJ and remixer in his own right, humbly began his career with his debut indie effort, North Marine Drive back in 1983. While the album reached number one on the UK indie charts, the success of Drive was ultimately overshadowed when Watt teamed up with Tracey Thorn to create the band that became synonymous with a burgeoning sophisti-pop trend, taken to mountainous heights by other acts like the Style Council. Everything But the Girl displayed a keen sense of irony and literary wit that gave their brand of new wave bossa nova a sharper, biting edge. Later on, they would transform their twee sound into a grander, nearly cinematic form of electronic pop that not only brought them wider attention but much more lucrative rewards as well. Watt’s indie solo album was all but forgotten at this point, at times appearing in-print and then later disappearing from the market in accordance to the ebb and flow of EBTG’s success.
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The Rolling Stones are still the “world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band”, naysayers and cynics be damned. Granted, there’s a lot to be cynical about when it comes to the Stones. Shameless merchandising, ticket price gouging, band in-fighting, and creative stagnancy have all hounded the Stones for the better part of the last 30 years. But their semi-regular globe-trotting tours continue to astound, and not just because of the ever-broadening spectacle that accompanies each, but because the band still plays like they’re the best, even if the world has become disenchanted with them. That’s all right, though: the Stones don’t need you or me to recognize that they are indeed the greatest, past, present, or (probably) future. History bears them out.
Lychgate is of the black metal camp less concerned with bludgeoning you with speed and noise (not that there’s anything wrong with that, mind you) than covering you with riffs and atmosphere and squeezing you to death gradually. “Sceptre to Control the World” rolls in like a thick fog, carried by coiling melodic guitar lines that wrap around both the rhythm section and one another. While running through lumbering death metal-esque passages and bursts of agility and vocal ferocity, the track’s first half is anchored mainly by the mid-paced sections where the focus shifts to the interplay of those guitars, which evoke ancient, occult mysteries more clearly than any lyric sheet could. The energy built up in those solo sections is let loose around the three-minute mark, as the band unleashes their full churning, blast-beating fury right up to the reflective, guitar-minimal finale. The song is a great indicator that intricate, musically-proficient black metal is alive and well, and Lychgate seem to be emerging as one of its strongest new voices.
The Argument has seriously literary—as well as musical—ambitions, based as it is on the legendary “Paradise Lost” poem by John Milton. The album sees the light of day on 22 July, but two preview songs have just been released to spark interest in the endeavour.