Formerly Leeds (UK) based ‘Killing Fields of Ontario’ have the rare talent for turning the unspoken fears and realities of life into a fluid musical product. Combining stabs of melancholy with dark spasms of madness, their forthcoming album ‘How the World Ends’ (released 4th Nov 2013) has moments of introverted storytelling tenderness.
We listened to ‘How the World Ends’. Here’s what we thought:
The album kicks off with the rattling dazzling ‘Twisted Little Theatre’. The sound is like a one-man band who has disastrously entered into a pot and kettles store. His harp rack is captured on the colanders and his pedals are jammed in the cauldrons. The voice has a leathery bearing – as if it has been exposed to the bitter wind for too long. We were reminded of popular folk-blues artists “Kill It Kid.”
With a rumble and a happy clap ‘Nothing To Be Frightened’ steps in. The vocal seems distraught. An organ sound weeps in sympathy. The beat procures your heart and will make your shins tremble. And the poetry is sublime: “You came along with your diamond eyes/ And showed me how to shine in the sky…”
‘When We Were Born’ is a gentle rippling number. With a shaky and less intrepid lead vocal – it reminds us of Simon & Garfunkel with swirling slide guitars (Stuart Kempster) that twine like willow blades around a central cortex. This is a fine song … unpretentious and kind.
‘Cloud’ is also finely plucked – although provocative lyrics spill out – like ash from an inverted cinerary urn. Then stout rhythms (Dave Loffman on drums) began their relentless pounding – laced with sensual fiddle sounds. ‘Weight’ is a temperate song that gradually grows in hostility – as “Wide as a chasm…” The piano accompaniment reminds us of Bowie numbers (from Hunky Dory days – 1971.)
After the slightly Country & Western sounding ‘Left In Shadow’ you will arrive at the elastic fluster of ‘Creeper’ with those acidic grins and fizzing organ sounds. And then the watery ‘Our Place To Drown’ will mesmerize you with its rhythms, circles of light and baptizing pools of cool tones.
Title track ‘How The World Ends’ starts with a teasing, stark Flamenco style rasping. Then the celestial melody begins. Singer Tom Brewster is at his most imploring on this number – exploring the upper echelons of supplication – but also withdrawing into himself for moments of reflective meditation. This is a substantially beautiful song – with an integrated light and charm that manages to divert the listener away from some of the more painful truths that are held within.
Final track on this extraordinary album is the one-man hymn ‘God Or Country’. This is a whispered blessing. A belief in oneself over-and-above those idols that we are “supposed” to glorify … be they God or Nation. Maybe we should start believing in things that we actually understand: Our friendships. Our ability. Our confidences. So, dry your paper tears, wipe away your heart of stone, and gently sway to this one. And be brave in a brave land!
This is a delicate folk-rock album … on the one hand … but it is also a compelling and provocative fighter… on the other. It’s full of leadership and authority. You will not forget it in a hurry.
– © Neil_Mach November 2013 –