Tuesday 21 May 2024

Child - Child

Labels: Self-Released/Heavy Psych Sounds

Formats: Vinyl/CD/Digital

Release Date: 19-Feb-2014/26-Apr-2024


1. Trees

2. Stone By Stone

3. All Dried Up

4. Mean Square

5. Blue Overtone Storm/Yellow Planetary Sun

Earlier this year Italian purveyors of all things doom 'n' groove Heavy Psych Sounds set about reissuing   the entire back catalogue of Australian blues/stoner rock band Child, starting with their debut self-titled record from 2014, almost ten years after it's original release. This power trio are a new name to me but thanks to the HPS PR wheel that's forever turning, I have the chance to get acquainted with them. I hope you'll join me for what promises to be a wild ride.

On an evening when I’ve been given the annual reminder about noise levels within the block that I reside, a chilled out interlude is much needed. Child deliver a hefty dose of blues-rock with minimal urgency. Easy going percussion, sumptuous melodic guitar work and vocals oozing with that classy Desert Sessions-style drawl work in unison to deliver fantastic music on opener ‘Trees’.

‘Stone By Stone’ starts of with more immediacy, albeit not necessarily due to tempo. It has a more traditional song structure from the off but it later descends into a heavily-instrumental blues number, showing off just how impressive Child are musically. Where I live in the UK, there’s a bar that specialises in blues and to be honest, it has never appealed to me as a venue because it has an obvious clique; however, if it were to one day book Child (unlikely I know), I’d be there like a shot just to see them.

The screeching solo mid-section of ‘All Dried Up’ is upon me before I know it, alongside the warming Moog/organ and the whisky-drenched vocals that sound even more powerful now. Child’s momentum seems to grow with each song on this record and while this one is their shortest, it’s by no means forgettable.

From this point on Child go back down a fuzz-laden road on penultimate song ‘Mean Square’, thanks to the rumbling bass tone that kicks it off. That bass is the heaviest thing about it and the trio’s sound throughout this record, but there’s no need for anything louder to be honest. It’s not often now that I venture to this end of the slow/low musical spectrum but it’s something I should really do more often. Less dissonance, more resonance.

Ending their first record with the ten+ minute freak out ‘Blue Overtone Storm/Yellow Planetary Sun’ is (was?) a masterstroke. Kinda like if Kyuss, Oneida and Nebula formed one hell of a supergroup. I guess they would sound like Child do here. It’s an absolute joy to behold. Almost fourteen years after this blog’s conception, discovering bands that are new to me is the best thing. Child are excellent and well worth diving down the rabbit hole for.

You can stream and purchase Child directly from Child below:-

Physical vinyl and cd copies can be purchased from Heavy Psych Sounds here - https://heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com/album/child-child

Child - https://www.facebook.com/childtheband

Heavy Psych Sounds - https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS

Monday 20 May 2024

Gossip - Coals Of Juniper 10"

Labels: Zegema Beach Records

Formats: Vinyl/Digital

Release Date: 29 Apr 2024


1. Rid

2. Casting Crowns

3. Head Of Sisera

4. Earthly Daughters

I've decided to jump into another new 2024 release, because my music listening ADHD (I know that's not a real thing) is a bit all over the place right now. One day I'll actually have a goddamn plan! Portland, Oregon (US) screamo/mathcore band Gossip very recently released their latest EP Coals Of Juniper, which follows their 2022 split with Apostles Of Eris. Don't get confused between them and the other Portland, Oregon band named Gossip (I don't know if there's a connection between the two. I'm not even sure if the latter is active anymore). I did dig the song 'Standing In The Way Of Control' though.

I tried to watch the Eurovision grand final last Saturday evening but fairly early on I remembered why I don’t usually bother. The only act I really regret not watching was Finland’s Windows95man, purely because of the name. What does that have to do with this review I hear you ask; absolutely nothing. Gossip don’t have to worry about that yearly ear torturing marathon though and instead channel their song-writing skills into creating heartfelt, and powerfully heavy music. EP opener ‘Rid’ is a great mix of atmosphere-led post-hardcore and mathy screamo filled with just the right amount of violence. ’Rid’ goes in all kinds of directions given Gossip’s alignment to emoviolence and screamo, but my god is it worth it.

‘Casting Crowns’ follows on instantly with thick post-rock riffs, classy bass, cymbal-driven percussion and utterly furious vocals that switch between higher-pitched screams and startlingly low growls. There’s an impressive musical approach here too that reveals itself further as the song goes on. The clean vocals towards the end are an excellent addition as well. If you’re a fan of intense, twisting, angular hardcore then ‘Head Of Sisera’ will suit you down to the ground. It’s full of fast passages that bleed into glimpses of slower atmospherics. The clean vocals give off a Rolo Tomassi vibe later on, which is perfectly fine by me.

Closing with ‘Earthly Daughters’, Gossip provides one last cinematic, dramatic post-metal song that’s filled with quiet/loud, harsh/clean dynamics to begin with before mathcore takes hold again for pretty much the remainder. All four of the tracks that make up Coals Of Juniper are ferocious yet beautiful. To be honest, it’s taken me way too long to write this review due to writer’s block and my general malaise recently (not related to music but to life in general), but this EP is too good to ignore. 

You can stream and purchase Coals Of Juniper on 10" vinyl or digital formats from Zegema Beach Records below:-

Physical copies are also available via the below ZBR stores:-

Zegema Beach Records CAN/INTL - http://www.zegemabeachrecords.com/zegema-beach-releases/gossip / USA - https://zbrusa.com/collections/zbr-releases/products/gossip

Gossip - https://www.facebook.com/gossippdx

Zegema Beach Records - https://www.facebook.com/zegemabeachrecords

Sunday 12 May 2024

Liquid Shit - Repulsive Bodies

Labels: Dry Cough Records

Formats: Tape/Digital

Release Date: 07 Apr 2023


1. Anxious Wretch

2. Encrusted In Eschar

3. Untethered

4. Foul Occurrence

5. Mentally Dissected

6. Bound Forever To This Body

Less than twelve months after their last EP Untold Horrors in May 2022, London's Liquid Shit returned with their latest EP Repulsive Bodies. Self-released by the band in April 2023 while at the same time getting a tape pressing via Dry Cough Records, it sees Liquid Shit delving deeper into the world of noise and sludge, while also keeping their feet rooted in death metal. 

I absolutely loved Untold Horrors when it was released in 2022. I don’t know, there was just something so warming about it. So much so that I ordered a tape copy of Repulsive Bodies as soon as I could. I’m just sorry that it’s taken me a year to write about it. Today’s muggy atmosphere (coupled with the obligatory allergy flair-up) seems the like the perfect conditions to finally put my thoughts about this EP into print and as opener ‘Anxious Wretch’ lurches into life with slow/sludgy death metal, it makes me wonder if Liquid Shit will be the band that genuinely finds that elusive brown note. 

It’s not a fast song by any means but ‘Anxious Wretch’ acts as a precursor for what’s to come. What does come next is ‘Encrusted In Eschar’, which begins with a whole heap of proper doom/sludge-laden bass, leading to similarly downbeat instrumental all round. The vocals don’t give off any light either, in case you were wondering.

There’s a heavy psych influence in the riffs on ‘Untethered’, which might take you by surprise slightly but have no fear, they’re in absolutely the right place and add a huge amount to the song given how minimalist it is in places. I’m not saying that being minimalist is a bad thing (because it’s not) but I always felt like Liquid Shit had psych vibes in them when listening to Untold Horrors

Having said all that though, you couldn’t get a more apt song than Foul Occurrence. What you get here is another slow number that drags death metal into the deepest of places. It comes across as the bastard love child born of Cynic and Primitive Man. Picture that if you will. Slightly progressive/psychedelic death metal mixed with the nastiest sludge/doom.

Penultimate song ‘Mentally Dissected’ dials up the off-kilter musicianship and general noisiness even more, but manages to retain a healthy dose of what made old-school death/doom so engrossing during the song’s first half, before it descends into chaos later on. Closing with ‘Bound Forever To This Body’, unnerving samples lead to a cacophony of deep growls, screeching feedback and minimal yet crushing instrumentation.  

I really like the path that Liquid Shit have chosen to go down with their extreme sound. It would have been easy for them to just follow what others are doing but their music has a more experimental edge to it. This EP follows on from Untold Horrors perfectly and gives the slightest of glimpses into what may be coming next.

You can stream and purchase Repulsive Bodies digitally from Liquid Shit below, as well as the last few white/black long sleeve t-shirts too:-

Dry Cough tapes are sold out.

Liquid Shit - @liquidshitsludge Instagram

Dry Cough Records - https://www.facebook.com/DryCoughRecords

Tuesday 7 May 2024

Solstice Pyre - The Sighting Of Ethereal Dimension

 Labels: Self-Released/Death Prayer Records

Formats: Digital/Vinyl

Release Date: 07 Jan 2023


1. The Spawn Of Havoc

2. Negative Dimensional Vortices

3. The Burning Citadel

4. Requiem For The Fallen

5. On The Edge Of The World

UK black metal label Death Prayer Records put on back-to-back bandcamp listening parties last Friday. The first one was to promote the vinyl release of the debut EP The Sighting Of Ethereal Dimension by Indonesian symphonic black metal band Solstice Pyre. It's great to see the label championing yet more bands from further afield. There isn't a lot of info out there about them, so while things are kept mysterious, their music will do the talking.

Solstice Pyre begin in the most bombastic fashion with the melodic/symphonic tones of ‘The Spawn Of Havoc’, which manage to shroud their cold and raw black metal. At times it’s similar to the sound of Bal-Sagoth, yet the music contained here is less entrenched in fantasy. ’Negative Dimensional Vortices’ leans a lot more towards straightforward black metal, with the keys taking a slightly less prominent role. Instead, they’re replaced by greater use of furious guitar and those frostbitten growls.

It’s evident already that Solstice Pyre want to make their music more expansive and on ‘The Burning Citadel’ they go further in that direction. It’s nearly seven minutes in length and because of that it shows off a more mid-tempo sound, and approach from the band. The symphonic additions are still present but as before, they’re used as a way to compliment the extremity that’s present.

After that barrage of intensity, the short instrumental piece ‘Requiem For The Fallen’ offers up only light relief before ‘On The Edge Of The Void’ provides one final blast of outstanding Indonesian black metal. It really is that good! I knew beforehand that Indonesia was nailing the death metal/grind sound but didn’t have it down as a country that embraced black metal as well performed as this. 

This final song exhibits why no country (however small) should be Ignored when it comes to extreme metal, especially black metal. I appreciate that it’s taken UK label Death Prayer Records to bring Solstice Pyre to my attention, but hopefully it also brings them to the attention of many other metal fans too.

You can stream and purchase The Sighting Of Ethereal Dimension on digital or sumptuous purple/gold flake vinyl formats below:-

Copies can also be purchased from Death Prayer Records here - https://deathprayerrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-sighting-of-ethereal-dimension

Death Prayer Records - https://www.facebook.com/deathprayerrecords

Thursday 2 May 2024

Big Water - Drink More Water

Labels: Lydia House/Self-Released/The Ghost Is Clear Records/Zegema Beach Records

Formats: CDr/Tape/Digital

Release Date: 14 Dec 2018


1. B.M.

2. My Name Is Chappie Johnson And I Can't Open This Damn Pickle Jar

3. Typical Porn

4. Highest Number Is 24

5. Half-Eatin' Sandwich

6. Drunk Punch Love

Back in 2018 I was lucky enough to be able to premiere the song 'Typical Porn' from the debut EP by Kansas City, US screamo/hardcore band Big Water. My biggest failing at the time though was not reviewing the full EP. I'm (sort of) righting that wrong this evening as I pick my ZBR roster review series back up again. Drink More Water was self-released by Big Water on tape and digitally in November 2018 (according to Discogs), before both The Ghost Is Clear Records and Zegema Beach Records released their own limited tape run a month later. There was also a CDr run made by Lydia House (again according to Discogs) but quantity and release date are unknown.

It’s weird how the less-is-more approach (to writing and posting) seems to be working. I always used to have the energy to write about a new release every evening, but things change and I’m still trying to re-find that same energy. Short sharp releases help and Drink More Water is definitely one of those. Opener ‘B.M.’ greets you with a sample from the TV comedy series Curb Your Enthusiasm (I think? Please correct me if I’m wrong). It’s a short intro that leads into Big Water’s take on heavy yet groovy screamo/emo-violence with some added hardcore thrown in. ‘My Name Is Chappie Johnson And I Can’t Open This Damn Pickle Jar’ gives off total mathcore vibes initially. Maybe that’s due to quick shift from sound bite to harsh screamo, with plenty of off-kilter tempos and unexpected rhythmic fluency thrown in to the mix.

By the time you reach ‘Typical Porn’ you realise that while it seems like Big Water don’t take things too seriously, their music and it’s delivery is very much serious business. It’s shorter than the average song (apparently the average length of a “pop” song in three minutes and thirty seconds). Thankfully though, this isn’t an average pop song and I’m now going to wash my mouth out for suggesting it was even close. I get the impression that perhaps my neighbour above might be annoyed with the volume I’m playing this EP at or maybe even the volume of my typing, which I also get abuse for in my day job. ‘The Highest Number Is 24” is as furious as Big Water get. The enjoyment factor is massive here!.

‘Half-Eatin’ Sandwich’ has some bizarre nu-metal influences going on amongst the guitars (at least my ears anyway). It’s over before it’s really begun, in part due to the gung-ho fashion is which Big Water do things. There’s no point in dawdling anyway right?. EP closer ‘Drunk Punch Love’ is the longest song here and it exhibits a leaning towards exciting noise-rock for sure. Filled with angular instrumentation, the vocals are either used sparingly or huddled deep in the mix. It’s hard to pinpoint musical influences but it nods towards AmRep more than it does to Ape Must Not Kill Ape, if you get what I mean.

In the throwaway culture we live in now, debut demos and EPs tend to be overlooked by people who don’t dare to dig below the surface. If you’ve read this review and/or are familiar with Big Water, you’re not one of those people. Thank you, for you have chosen wisely as this EP is fantastic.

You can stream and purchase Drink More Water digitally from Big Water below, where it's also available on tape too:-

Zegema Beach Records still have copies of the tape available in their US store here too - https://zbrusa.com/collections/zbr-releases/products/big-water-drink-more-water-cassette

Big Water - @bigwaterkc Instagram

The Ghost Is Clear Records - https://www.facebook.com/TGICRECS

Zegema Beach Records - https://www.facebook.com/zegemabeachrecords

Saturday 27 April 2024

Hexis - Relictus/Umbrae

Labels: 7Degrees Records/Ancient Temple Recordings/Starved Light

Formats: Vinyl/Digital

Release Date: 22 Apr 2024


1. Relictus

2. Umbrae

When I sat down to write the review of the Tethered demo, I opened up by saying how lovely it is to be able to write about and listen to familiar bands. They may be bands that have featured here in the past or bands that I've witnessed live, as well as those I have more of a personal connection with. Hexis is definitely one such name that can be counted as any and all of those things. From my first time seeing them live in the basement of The Royal Park Cellars in Leeds alongside This Gift Is A Curse in 2012 (I think), I was hooked.

Earlier this week, they released their latest two-track EP Relictus/Umbrae, on 8" vinyl and digital formats via 7Degrees Records (Germany), Ancient Temple Recordings (Canada) and Starved Light (Australia). Hexis are extremely active on the live circuit and also on the release front, notching up 19 physical releases not counting this one (according to Discogs).

The instant I hit play on ‘Relictus’ I’m transported back into the smoke and strobe-light filled pitch-black rooms that I remember witnessing Hexis in. Also, it dawns on me that the first time I saw them live was twelve years ago now!. Anyway, enough reminiscing as this is serious business and the black metal/hardcore fusion created by the band is brutally infectious, just as it has always been. There seems to be a preciseness to it here though, which makes the music sound even heavier.

Second song ‘Umbrae’ takes on a very different form to it’s predecessor. More feedback-laden, thicker in atmosphere and slower. At times it takes inspiration from drone but there’s also that sense that it’s going to explode into chaos. That chaos doesn’t come as expected though as Hexis choose instead to continue at a sludgy, slow pace (at least for them anyway). In doing so, it’s difficult not to be enthralled by the whole experience of this release.

It has always been hard to compare them to other bands but given who they have joined for split releases to date (As We Draw, Euglena, Redwood Hill, Primitive Man, This Gift Is A Curse, Telos), there’s a sense of kinship and snapshots in time that went on to shape this EP. Consistency can sometimes be a substitute for boring, but it’s not the case with Hexis. This EP will leave you aching for more and if you aren’t already familiar with their extensive back catalogue, then what are you waiting for?

You can stream and purchase the EP digitally, and physically from Hexis below:-

Hexis - https://www.facebook.com/Hexisband

7Degrees Records - https://www.7degrees-records.de/shop/8-vinyl/h-8-vinyl/

Ancient Temple Recordings - https://ancienttemplerecordings.bigcartel.com/product/hexis-8-record-pre-order

Starved Light - https://hexisband.bandcamp.com/album/relictus-umbrae

7Degrees Records - https://www.facebook.com/7DegreesRecords

Ancient Temple Recordings - https://www.facebook.com/AncientTempleRecordings

Starved Light -  https://www.facebook.com/starvedlight

Wednesday 24 April 2024

Tethered - Demo

Labels: Self-Released/strictly no capital letters

Formats: Digital/Tape

Release Date: 19 Aug 2023


1. torches

2. dust

3. motorhinder

4. shred

5. nostalgia

In spite of all the music from new bands dropping of late, I'm picking up on music by bands (and people) whom I've long admired and featured here many times before. This write-up is a mix of new band/familiar faces, as the UK's Tethered features Andy (previously of Arkless, What Price, Wonderland? etc). Andy very kindly wrote to me recently to let me about Tethered and their debut demo, which was self-released in August last year before strictly no capital letters gave it a tape release in March. 

Writing an opening review sentence and then deleting it again is currently my favourite hobby apparently! Tethered make a noise that’s filled with hardcore-punk energy on opener ‘torches’. I get vibes similar to Amyl And The Sniffers, Sheer Mag and the early hardcore attitude of Black Flag. Rose does such a great job with the vocals on this release, especially as Tethered is the first band she’s fronted.

Listening to ‘dust’ is a joy too, as it’s off-kilter and almost retro sound envelopes you with such warmth. I’m properly nostalgic for the days when MRR was a paper zine, in fact I still have all of the copies from when I used to subscribe. I can picture Tethered being reviewed and featured amongst those hallowed pages now.

‘motorhinder’ has a really old-school emo/post-hardcore sound to it and reminds me of the raw energy of Boysetsfire’s This Crying, This Screaming, My Voice Is Being Born. It grabs you with it’s immediacy but also it’s heartfelt musicianship, which as I’ve already alluded to, almost comes from a different era.

’shred’ has the immediacy of a powerviolence song to begin with before Tethered fall back to the more familiar hardcore-punk that’s filled this EP so far. Rose’s angry yet clean vocals, alongside the instrumentation of Andy, James and Pablo shows that the passion still rises to the top in the UK scene. The recording and mixing job done by Matthew Green at Head Cold Recording manages to harness that passion brilliantly too.

EP closer ‘nostalgia’ is a great one to end on, channelling every last ounce of emotion and bitterness that remains. This is one of those EPs that goes by in an instant, but is also one that leaves quite a mark because of it. I’ve witnessed bands with so much potential fade after one EP. Here’s hoping Tethered won’t be one of those because they have so much more to offer.

You can stream and grab the demo as a name-your-price download below:-

Physical tape copies are available to buy form strictly no capital letters here - https://sncl.collective-zine.co.uk/product/tethered-demo-tape/

strictly no capital letters - https://www.facebook.com/strictlynocapitalletters

Wednesday 17 April 2024

Curtains/New Ruins - Split

Labels: Zegema Beach Records

Formats: Tape/Digital

Release Date: 07 Nov 2018


1. Curtains - Dampe

2. Curtains - Your Angels

3. Curtains - Ark

4. Curtains - Burnt

5. Curtains - Since Shadowed

6. New Ruins - Never Knows Best

7. New Ruins - We Could Have Had It All

I'm diving back into the ZBR roster as promised in my recent Crossed review. This time I'm focusing on the 2018 split tape (otherwise known as halixkaliV2) that featured Curtains from the US (inc. members of Ghost Spirit, Letters To Catalonia, Nuvolascura and SeeYouSpaceCowboy) and Canada's New Ruins (inc. members of Rinoa and Frail Hands, amongst others). It was released as a run of 75 tapes by ZBR and was one of two physical releases to come from Curtains, while being the one only from New Ruins (according to Discogs). It was also made available digitally.

Split releases come in all shapes and sizes. This one is a case in point with Curtains contributing five songs in pretty much the same running time as the two from New Ruins. Curtains open with ‘Dampe’ and immediately they hit top gear with caustic emo-violence that shifts in tempo and atmosphere. ‘Your Angels’ is a thirty-second hit of off-kilter mayhem that pretty much follows where ‘Dampe’ came from. 

‘Ark’ is a longer song that sees Curtains spreading their intensity out, allowing themselves more time to expand on what they’ve already delivered musically. Going back and writing about a release posthumously isn’t always that easy, at least for me anyway’ so I apologise if I switch between past and present tense sometimes. That said, it’s easier to talk about a song like ‘Burnt’ when it lasts less than a minute. Basically, it’s loud and heavy with screeching feedback to boot.

That same feedback leads you into the final curtain call (sorry) ‘Since Shadowed’. At times the vocals remind  me of the screams from George Pettit of Alexisonfire, especially due to their raspiness. The instrumentation is a lot more violent though as you’d maybe expect. New Ruins are seemingly more easy-going on ‘Never Knows Best’ with cleanly plucked guitar/bass work sitting alongside similarly chilled percussion, while the vocals present a much harsher audible image. The tempo isn’t as in-your-face and that’s fine because the music of New Ruins doesn’t need that. 

Their second and final song ‘We Could Have Had It All’ is filled with angst and unbridled emotion that grows as the song itself grows. A proper post-hardcore song with a story to tell and an ear to bend. Split releases are always a surprise if you’re open minded. The format brings new bands to new ears, which is why both Curtains and New Ruins were such a good fit for this one. 

You can stream and purchase the split digitally from both bands below:-

Curtains - https://www.facebook.com/curtainsca

New Ruins - https://www.facebook.com/newruinshfx

Tape copies are still available from the ZBR US store here - https://zbrusa.com/collections/zbr-releases/products/curtains-new-ruins-split-cassette

Zegema Beach Records - https://www.facebook.com/zegemabeachrecords

Thursday 11 April 2024

Penny Coffin - Conscripted Morality

 Labels: At War With False Noise/Dry Cough Records/Macho Records

Formats: Vinyl/CD/Tape/Digital

Release Date: 07 Apr 2023


1. Ballistic

2. Predator

3. Slowdive

4. Conscripted Morality

I'm slowly making my way through write-ups about the latest releases from Mancunian doom/death label Dry Cough Records (in order of release according to bandcamp because I'm like that!). Conscripted Morality is the most recent EP to come from Scotland's Penny Coffin. It was self-released by the band digitally last April, alongside Dry Cough's tape version and a cd release from At War With False Noise. Later that month it received the vinyl treatment thanks to Macho Records. It's always great to hear what the current (and ever growing) crop of UK death metal bands are spewing out.

It’s been just over a year since Conscripted Morality was released, but a year is nothing really when you think about it. Opener ‘Ballistic’ gives off a bit of false hope initially (title-wise anyway) with a psychedelic intro before Penny Coffin launch into some proper riff-heavy, percussion-led brutality with the cruellest of vocal deliveries and melody that creates a whole different level of atmosphere.

There’s an unnerving undertone flowing through ‘Predator’, though it’s overridden by the groove-laden death metal approach that’s employed here. At times it borrows from modern brutal death metal (Gore House Productions/Unique Leader Records-type death) but it never strays too far from the old-school. I guess it could easily sit on either of those two labels but they’re only used as a reference. 

‘Slowdive’ uses Penny Coffin’s love for harsh noise to rouse and rile up those listening before another round of submission-like OSDM comes out fighting. The low register frequented by the vocals create a hellish vibe, yet when they give way and allow the instrumentation to take over, it feels like you’re in a different realm. Spacey, avant-garde guitar work and time signatures provide the perfect mid-section before Penny Coffin hit the loud pedal once again. 

Closing with the expansive title-track, Penny Coffin leaves you with so much to take in and process, not mentally but musically (and maybe even spiritually). Nearly eight minutes of extremity await in what is their most doom-heavy song on the EP. It shows just how good they are musically, from early intensity to comforting melody before repeated bludgeoning and all manner of warped majesty later on. 

I can try to paint a picture with words but it’s all futile in the end. Listening is one of the great qualities we possess as humans and taking time out to do just that can be transformative. The experience of listening to Conscripted Morality feels just the same. A fantastic EP that deserves to be enjoyed by any extreme metal maniac.

You can stream and purchase Conscripted Morality digitally, as well as a special tape pre-order from Penny Coffin below:-

Penny Coffin - https://www.facebook.com/pennycoffindeath

Physical copies are available from the labels below:-

At War With False Noise - https://awwfn.bandcamp.com/album/conscripted-morality

Macho Records - https://machorecord.bandcamp.com/album/conscripted-morality

Dry Cough Records - https://www.facebook.com/DryCoughRecords

Macho Records - https://www.facebook.com/MachoRecordings

Sunday 7 April 2024

Wolf Lichen - Empyreal Alpine Lysergy

Labels: Self-Released/Fiadh Productions/GreySun Records

Formats: Tape/Digital

Release Date: 18 Aug 2023


1. Blooming Into Light

2. A Vision Of Eternity In Spectral Light

3. A Transfiguration Forever Unfolding

4. Currents Of Matter

I'm being pulled towards new music again, especially after my most recent review of the new EP from Crossed. This debut EP from US cascadian, anarchist black metal band Wolf Lichen was self-released last August before getting a tape release via US label GreySun Records in November. April 5th saw the  release of the latest tape pressing of Empyreal Alpine Lysergy, coming from fellow US label Fiadh Productions. 

Made up of Letharian Rays on bass and rhythm guitars (of Anaximander, Stare), Dire Wolfkin on drums and lead guitars (of Kneipegeist, Eleusis) and Blaidd Ysgaswen who provides session vocals (of Exulansis, Carrion Bloom), Wolf Lichen have dedicated this release and passed any funds from digital sales to the People of Red Mountain who are fighting to save Thacker Pass/Peehee Mu'huh from the desecration of their homelands by mining companies.

Stepping away from the imagery and lyricism of more traditional black metal is something that’s taken hold over recent years. Satan, anti-religious sentiment and church burning are all fine topics (I’m not religious at all, in case you hadn’t noticed) but other more divisive ones like racism are not. The rise of anarchist (or red) black metal continues at pace and US trio Wolf Lichen are another name to add to the growing list. Beginning their debut EP with ‘Blooming Into Light’, the gentle acoustic/folk guitar and percussion reminds me of Twilight Fauna to a degree. It’s only an intro piece but it’s a beautiful one.

Following a brief pause, Wolf Lichen launches into ‘A Vision Of Eternity In Spectral Light’ and for the first time you hear the full intent of the band. It’s true that it contains all of the musical trappings of black metal but the cascadian sound really breaks through with an earthiness that’s often missing from the sub-genre. It’s a lengthy song that moves between blasting passages and more atmospheric instrumental ones, while the excellent vocals play their part in adding to that atmosphere.

‘A Transfiguration Forever Unfolding’ is an epic all of it’s own, given that it stretches well beyond the ten-minute mark. I’m all for expansive black metal songs and there’s plenty to get lost in here. Wolf Lichen prove beyond doubt that they’re excellent song-writers and performers. The melodies that are woven into their guitar work, the subtle rhythm guitar and bass, the on-point drums and vocal delivery back that up. We’re not even at the final song yet either!

EP closer ‘Currents Of Matter’ is another stirring instrumental piece that’s brimming with the sound of the trees and nature. It grows in volume as it reaches a final conclusion, making you think that Wolf Lichen are going to burst into life once again. No such thing happens though and instead the instrumental tones draw to an inevitable end. I’m so glad that I chose to spend the time listening to this release. It’s excellent from beginning to end and it deserves much more attention. 

You can stream and purchase Empyreal Alpine Lysergy digitally from Wolf Lichen below, with all digital process going to the People Of Red Mountain:-

Tape copies are available from GreySun Records here - https://greysunrecords.storenvy.com/products/36664336-wolf-lichen-empyreal-alpine-lysergy-gsr-058

Tapes from Fiadh Productions are available here - https://fiadh.bandcamp.com/album/empyreal-alpine-lysergy

Fiadh Productions - https://www.facebook.com/fiadhproductions

Thursday 4 April 2024

Crossed - Vida Quieta

Labels: Zegema Beach Records

Formats: Vinyl/Digital

Release Date: 19 Apr 2024


1. Ceniza En La Boca

2. Vaho

3. Mala Suerte

4. Nostalgia

Before I jump back into my retrospective ZBR release series for a bit, I wanted to give you at least a glimpse into one of the label's up-coming releases. Spanish screamo/hardcore band Crossed (featuring members of Boneflower, Descubriendo A Mr Mime and Eros + Massacre) released one of my favourite records of 2022 in the form of Morir. Vida Quieta is their latest EP and it follows their split EP with Vibora, which also came out in 2022. I haven't even scratched the surface yet when it comes to 2024 releases but the excitement is definitely real!

The four songs that make up Vida Quieta last nearly ten minutes, so there’s no time for apprehension. Opener ‘Ceniza En La Boca’ is a noisy affair with throat-shredding screams joined by instrumentation that starts off like some kind of hazy dirge, before launching into metallic hardcore that’s akin to Converge and Cult Leader. The final bars of sunken clean vocals and cymbal-led intensity drag you nicely into ‘Vaho’, which is more technical guitar-wise and the song as a whole delivers a sound that’s closer to progressive death metal, at least during it’s first half. It’s latter half is a lot more melodic with chilled-out vocals taking over from the heaviness prior.

‘Mala Suerte’ is more glitch-inspired, with electronic beats joining up with the distorted heaviness that Crossed employ on this EP. It’s one of those songs that needs to be heard in context alongside the rest of the release, just so it can be properly appreciated. What I’m trying to say (in a very round-about way) is that it sounds very different to the rest of the EP yet it exhibits the experimental approach of Crossed. EP closer and currently available single ‘Nostalgia’ doesn’t allow for any moments of comfort either, as it goes from grindcore, to semi-spoken word/almost rap, to deathcore depravity all in little over three minutes. 

I have literally just tried my best to describe what I hear when listening to Vida Quieta and I’m still nowhere near. My advice would be to check out single ‘Nostalgia’ and then eagerly await it’s full release later this month. You will not be disappointed. Crossed are genius!

You can stream and purchase the single 'Nostalgia' here:-

Pre-orders for the up-coming LP release can be placed directly with Crossed above.

Crossed - https://www.facebook.com/crossedxband

Vinyl copies will soon be available from Zegema Beach Records below:-

CAN/INTL - http://www.zegemabeachrecords.com/zegema-beach-releases

USA - https://zbrusa.com/collections/zbr-releases

Zegema Beach Records - https://www.facebook.com/zegemabeachrecords