Records on Ribs are a new label to me, and a bit of a discovery if these two EPs are to go by. Their policy is to release music without charge, but simply have a voluntary donation box (similar to the Radiohead model). For those who prefer the physical, custom-made CDRs are available for all their releases. I was led to the label by Eric Heath aka EL Heath whose Phantom Channel release from three months ago remains one of the best things I’ve heard this year. More about him in a bit.
There is power in beauty, and there is sometimes great beauty in power. These two EPs couldn’t be more different sonically, and yet they both have power and beauty. All the Empires of the World are a trio from Nottingham. Their line-up is described on their MySpace page as Mark – guitar, Damon – guitar, Josh – not guitar. There is some serious six string worship going on here, but not in a noodly, show-off kind of way. Broadly speaking, they operate in a doom metal vein, but are as concerned with melody and structure as they are with brute force. They may give your ears a battering, but it’s never uncontrolled noise for the sake of it.
“Prophecy at the Ruins” doesn’t hang about with small talk, but plunges straight into gigantic slabs of layered guitar accompanied by a slow death-beat on a very bassy drum. There is an acoustic interlude and a sludgy climax. “Simon Helen Elizabeth” begins full on, but has an almost spaghetti western-ish mid section and buried vocal harmonies. “…Will Be Laid to Waste” lives up to its apocalyptic title. It’s utterly brutal. Even the ambient sections sound like metal grinding on metal. When it gets really loud, it’s punishing, ultra low-frequency, bone-shaking stuff. At its heart, though, there’s almost a zen-like calm. This is controlled aural violence. I fear for these boys’ ears.
Wind, Thee Wind exudes a different kind of power. The drone pieces “Sliding Door” and “MonoDrone” are like a beast asleep. Something dark lurks beneath. EL Heath’s calling card is his use of the ondes Martenot, an early electronic instrument that operates on similar principles to the theremin. “Martenot Marat” is a demonstration of just how lovely the instrument can sound. The distinctive melancholy wail is weaved into a gorgeous sad melody – both slightly other-worldy and yet deeply emotional. The closing track teams the instrument with a cello, and they seem united in grief. In the midst of the EP is a short poem by Heath, accompanied only by an ambient atmospheric sound. It’s a deeply personal ode to the power and constancy of the wind.
Power in beauty, beauty in power. These are both deeply engaging sets that prove that physical and emotional power are more closely allied than you might think.
Last Rites Tracks
1 Prophecy at the Ruins 6:19
2 Simon Helen Elizabeth (The Gate) 8:16
3 …Will Be Laid to Waste (AJ Cookson Remix) 10:02
Wind Thee Wind Tracks
1 Martenot Marat 4:00
2 Sliding Door 4:00
3 Thee Wind, Thee 1:50
4 MonoDrone 4:50
5 Wind, Thee Wind 3:50