Review : Ides of Gemini - Constantinople
PitchforkOn paper, Ides of Gemini are a power trio: Vocalist Sera Timms plays bass and sings, while electric guitarist Jason Bennett and drummer Kelly Johnston occasionally back her on vocals. If that categorization suggests some militant maul of lockstep rhythms and churning leads, two factors push Ides of Gemini apart from those expected molds. First, Timms' cathedral-sized air arrives just in time for the return of Dead Can Dance, its darkly seraphim tone cast wide with a gentle reverb haze. She softens the role of doom-metal bandleader, doling out lyrics about dishonor, mortality, and pain with a well-developed sense of what sounds pretty. And just as she's a different sort of singer than you might expect from a nominal power trio, she and Johnston shape a rhythm section that's exactly that-- functional for the meter, but little more. On the trio's debut, Constantinople, her bass playing sits squarely in the middle, sometimes barely perceptible save for the liner notes' credits; for her part, Johnston drums with a garage-like rumble, keeping the beat but rarely building around it. Ides of Gemini, then, subverts the general prowess triangle of this music-- an academy-ready vocalist fronting a passable young rock band.
The configuration fosters both intrigue and disappointment on the nine-track Constantinople. Timms' singing alone makes it a necessary listen; her control is extraordinary, capable of low dips and high drives in a single phrase and harmonies that ooze across the track. On "Resurrectionists", she employs a sense of timing and dynamic that suggests Beach House's Victoria Legrand slinking through the verses, and connecting with the chorus. "Resurrectionists" also showcases one of the trio's most compelling musical crutches: All three players suddenly thin their parts, so that the bass, guitar, voices, and drums synchronize in sudden stops and starts. When they turn the same trick midway through "The Vessel & the Stake", it's electrifying, like the trademark clatter of "Iron Man" suited in finer clothing. Their lurches and launches during "Reaping Golden" are captivating, too, triumphantly pushing and pulling against the theme. ...full text
HeavymetalIdes Of Gemini is a Los Angeles-based black metal/postcore trio, consisting of J. Bennett (guitars), Sera Timms (vocals/bass) and Kelly Johnston (drums). Their The Disruption Writ EP was met with critical acclaim. Their first full-length is Constantinople.
The central themes on Constantinople have nothing to do with the rise and fall of the former capital of the long-lost Byzantine Empire. It’s far more horrific, since the lyrics are all about dismemberment in all shapes and sizes, both physically and mentally. Such themes are fairly common within the death metal genre, but Ides Of Gemini are as far removed from death metal as one can possibly get.
They are more inspired by bands like Red Sparowes, Agalloch, Isis, Neurosis and Burzum. Timms and company combine the postcore tendencies of Isis and Red Sparowes and combine those with the black metal styled bleakness of Burzum and the merciless drive and darkness of Neurosis. A rather awkward combination, but it works like a charm....full text
MxdwnMomentarily sidestepping her work with doomgaze outfit Black Math Horseman, coven-ready frontwoman Sera Timms has joined with axeman J. Bennett and fallen-angel drummer Kelly Johnston to form Ides of Gemini, an alt-metal pyramid coursing with splitting arcs of dark energy. Their debut album, Constantinople—presumably ’cause your standard Romes, Babylons, and Alexandrias were already taken—is a plodding, punishing affair. Its joyless, opiated gloom sinks on you like some strangulating weight, crushing you ever-deeper in the dirt with each additional track, until finally—your guts heaving—you realize: Yeah, I’m not having fun.
The album’s “best cut,” if you want to call it that, is “The Vessel & the Stake.” I guess. Guitarist Bennett’s skeletonized, meat-tenderizing version of Randy Rhoads’ classic “Crazy Train” riff—slowed way down to a trapped-in-amber tempo—is, uh, kind of OK. Then there’s spooky girl Sera’s funereal oohing and aahing. Her melismatic devil croons are often stretched so long across each measure, one’s search for lyrical meaning often dissolves in an acid bath of “who cares at this point?” Satan bless her, she’s not bad looking, though. Then again, music is about hearing, primarily.
Pick any song from Ides’ deep, dark black hat: Every one’s the same nagging and clawing trance, only with a slight, gossamer-thin pretense at variety from song to song—like being given a tight matrix of occultic names and words, and the only semblance of novelty lay in how you reorder the series. It’s all a game of DoomScrabble, folks. Say, an anagram of “Madame Blavatsky” is “Dame Sky Blamavat.” Sounds spooky. I think we got a new one! Just a few more rigors, it seems, and we’ll have it: Viscous, arsenic-dripping guitars? Check. Schlepping, largo of doom tempo? We’re getting close! Emaciated, dour yippings from Our Lady Black Bangs? Ding-a-ling ding.
The group’s sibylline black mass shtick bleeds into a maddening, drip-drip test of endurance. Try taking the genius of Elvira’s “Mistress of the Dark” posturing and flagellating to extinction any of its self-awareness or lighthearted reprieve, and you’ve half-way approached the anesthetizing morbidity of this album. Yes, I realize it’s supposed to be hellspawn Wicca music, but with material like this, a guy could use a holly branch of good will here and there. Come on, Sera! There’s got to be a sweet ballad in your 8th century bodice somewhere....full text
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