Editor’s note: From 2012 to 2014, Matt Rice wrote the music column Matt on Music for The Eastern Echo, the student newspaper for Eastern Michigan University. In 2016, Matt relaunched this column on The Young Folks. You can read past installments of this column here.
Zeal and Ardor: Devil is Fine (MVKA) This project from Manuel Gagneux is one of the most audacious genre merges of the 21st century not merely because black metal and spiritual music differ aesthetically, but because of the fundamental thematic disparities. Yet, it works in both areas. Poignant in the combination of both the sounds and the ideas, Gagneux manages to find holiness in demonism and vice-versa. There’s more to sink your teeth into in these 25 minutes than just about any of the music that paved the way for it, and often, the best moments are ones in which metal and blues don’t show up at all. Check out the DJ Shadow-esque piano that shows up halfway into “Come on Down,” for one example. 9/10
Body Count: Bloodlust (Century Media) The first worthy album from Ice-T’s rock project since the debut 25 years ago (which is better than you remember), largely because of the current political climate, but also because the riffs are powerful as ever. Then again, it would be dishonest to try and claim the riffs and politics don’t work off of each other—why else would “No Lives Matter” house the record’s best music? But what made the debut so great was the way it not only dived right into its contradictions, but also explored them and what they entailed, notably on the album highlight “Momma’s Gotta Die Tonight.” Here, Ice does the same with a title cut that wonders about whether “They try and twist the problem like it’s white and black/But if you come to shoot me, yo I’m shooting back” is the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth. So help us God, maybe we’re all just fucked up. Your reaction to “Here I Go Again” may beg to differ. 8.5/10
Dead Sara: The Covers (Pocket Kid) Four tracks. Two “Heart-Shaped Box” covers, one electric and one dreamily acoustic—both would make Kurt Cobain proud. A Patti Smith cover, “Ask the Angels,” that’s the best thing here. A Rage Against the Machine cover—take a guess which song—that would make them proud, which is the problem. Don’t know why you should care? Then you haven’t heard the best hard rock album of the decade. 7.5/10
Power Trip: Nightmare Logic (Southern Lord) Digestible enough for this Slayer hater, this better-than-average thrash record still isn’t rewardable enough to recommend to non-metalheads. Unless they need to fill space while spreading the word about Zeal and Ardor, that is. 6.5/10