Tuesday, 14 August 2018

ERICBANA/Scum - From The Ground

Labels: Self-Released
Formats: CD/Digital
Release Date: 03 Mar 2018


1. ERICBANA - Maniac
2. ERICBANA - Colour Of Death
3. Scum - Blood Of The Machine
4. Scum - Witness

Off work this week so catching up on some reviews that I've been meaning to write for a while now. This is one and having interviewed Scum and ERICBANA, as well as seeing both play a joint EP launch gig in Harrogate, I finally got something written up. I've talked before about feeling more pressure when it comes to covering bands whose members I know personally, so here goes...

It’s good to hear ERICBANA releasing music and playing shows again. They’re one of those local bands that always seem to be there even when you think they’re off the radar. Their opener Maniac starts off loud and heavy as it builds. When the first verse kicks in it’s backed up by fast pogo-punk drumming and guitar-work to match. The vocals are shouted though the lyrics are audible, while the gang vocals show the DIY spirit and togetherness that Harrogate small music community has. Coops does his best “Transplants” impression at the start of Colour Of Death, but unlike that band, ERICBANA don’t make use of gimmicks and instead mix hardcore-punk with thrash. High tempos and more raucous shouting adds to the song’s urgency and it’s over before you know it.

Scum are a slightly different proposition musically, as they’re more crusty and technical in places. Blood Of The Machine has a metallic edge and plenty of off-kilter hardcore blended into it. Being from London, I wouldn’t be surprised if they ended up on a Chimpy Fest line-up in the near future. They just straight-up grind on Witness, which takes no prisoners. Instantly it’s stupid fast and when they do slow it down, it’s to the kind of heavy stomp that makes powerviolence so moreish. Chaos reigns supreme and what seems incoherent is in fact perfectly structured grinding punk. 

This split has been a labour of love between two bands that are doing what they enjoy. The Homefire Studios recording job allows their music to breathe while taking away none of the heaviness. Both ERICBANA and Scum are brilliant live and I’m not just saying that because I’m biased. Give this a listen and show both bands some support. 

Stream the full split below, where it's available from both bands as a name-your-price-download:-

You can also watch Scum's EP release video below:-

CD copies can be found at gigs or you can contact both band's via the usual methods.

Monday, 13 August 2018

The Secret - Lux Tenebris EP

Labels: Southern Lord
Formats: Vinyl/Digital
Release Date: 31 Aug 2018


1. Vertigo
2. The Sorrowful Void
3. Cupio Dissolvi

Seemingly out of nowhere, Italy's The Secret are returning to the fray with their newest EP "Lux Tenebris". Following the long six-year period of silence from the band, they're playing selected shows across Europe again in support of the EP, which comes out at the end of August via Southern Lord on a single-sided 12" with a silkscreened b-side. Their black and heavy sound has brought with it a mass of followers since the release of their debut "Luce" back in 2004 and this new EP has extra poignancy as it marks fifteen years since their initial formation.

The aim of opening song Vertigo is to induce similar symptoms to that of the condition it shares it’s name with. Dizziness inducing bass and noise create an atmosphere that makes you nervous. The Secret are clearly heading in a darker and more experimental direction with their sound and this proves it as they build the intensity together. It never quite explodes into the raging beast that you might be expecting but it does leave you on the edge of your seat with a sense of anticipation, that is almost overwhelming. Black metal meets grind and ambient noise. 

The Sorrowful Void is no less terrifying with it’s undercurrent of hissing feedback and repeating riffs that burst into life providing the explosiveness that you know The Secret are capable of. This is them at their grinding best and where Wake (Canada) are showing North America how it’s done, The Secret are doing the same for Europe. I know that drawing comparisons are often pointless and subjective, but I think that this particular one is accurate. 

After the dramatic ending to The Sorrowful Void, it’s left to EP closer Cupio Dissolvi to carry the momentum on and it does so effortlessly. It’s a longer song and is woven together with The Secret’s driving heaviness and passages of quieter introspect. The song’s second half is dominated by black metal instrumentation, which turns into a mid-paced march filled with anger and hostility. If this EP is a barometer of the future of The Secret, it looks like it’s going to be bleak (in a good way). After it’s release, we’ll start to wave the summer goodbye and this will no doubt be the solace we need during the dark winter months.

You can stream The Sorrowful Void below via The Secret's Southern Lord bandcamp page below:-

Lux Tenebris can be pre-ordered on both vinyl and digital formats above too.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Stuntman/Art Of Burning Water - Split 7"

Labels: Bigout Records/Ecstatic Shock/Emergence/Dingleberry Records/ Jungle Khol/Superfi Records/Wooaaargh Records
Formats: Vinyl/Digital


1. Stuntman - Easy Prey
2. Art Of Burning Water - The Death Of Unconditional Love In The Age Of I-Me-Me
3. Art Of Burning Water - Don't Need (Deep Wound Cover)

The march continues unabated in 2018, with countless releases still to see the light of day. This split 7" featuring French noisy hardcore mob Stuntman and fellow Brits Art Of Burning Water is very new indeed and will hopefully help to kick you full-force into the second half of your week. It was forged out of a long friendship between both bands and is being released by a group of labels that share an equal friendship. Two heavy, fast originals and a Deep Wound cover. What's not to like?

If you want chaotic and brutally noisy hardcore, then Stuntman is most definitely your band. Metallic guitars, up-tempo blasting percussion and vocals delivered with ferocious intent should be enough for you on their song Easy Prey. However; if they’re not, then Stuntman’s combination of fast and slow heaviness will seal the deal. There’s the best of both worlds here including a heap of powerviolence-esque sludginess. 

Art Of Burning Water are known for not taking any prisoners. The Death Of Unconditional Love In The Age Of I-Me-Me is filled with huge riffs that sound more like proper hardcore stompers before the pace is upped and they fly headlong into some grinding hardcore madness. They add a cover of Deep Wound’s Don’t Need onto the end of this split and it’s ever shifting time-signatures suit them down to the ground. 

AOBW are masters at what they do and Stuntman’s added ferocity makes this split a must for fans of heavy and noisy hardcore. So many bands play this form of hardcore but both bands here deliver it in a unique way, which is exhilarating to listen to.

You can stream and grab a download of the full split below:-

Art Of Burning Water - https://www.facebook.com/aobwmusic/

Physical copies can be ordered from the links below:-

Wooaaargh Records - http://www.wooaaargh.com/

I've been unable to find store/page links for Ecstatic Shock Records or Emergence Records, so please help me out if know of any! Thanks.

Monday, 6 August 2018

10 Questions: ERICBANA

I've often said despite not calling myself a "serious music journo", that the most pressure comes from writing about bands whose members I do know as opposed to the ones I don't know. That's true of London-based punks Scum, who I interviewed a couple of months back and that statement also applies to fellow Harrogate punks ERICBANA. They were one of the very first bands I wrote about on this blog, way back when I really had no idea what I was doing. Fast-forward five or so years and I felt it the right time to not only try and do some more interviews but also to contact the band again, in a bid to coincide some coverage with the release of their split cd with Scum. Here's what they had to say...

Who is in the band and where are you from?

Drums - James Astin
Vocals - Chris Cooper
Guitar - Toby Matthews
Guitar - Jamie Bramhall
Bass -  Mike Gowland ( at the time of recording the split with Scum )

All pretty much from around Harrogate.

What is the history of ERICBANA? When and how did you form?

We started up maybe 8-9 years ago but its been that long we can’t remember. I think it came about from 3 of us ( Cooper, Mike and Jamie ) wanting to play in a heavier band as we all started out in a punk band called Old Youth. We then somehow convinced Toby ( from Fuck with Fire fame ) to join, then Astin joined and subsequently quit after two practises then came crawling back 6-7 years later after our old drummer Tom quit.

Have any of you played in previous bands and are you any other bands currently?

Chris played in two previous bands called General Waste and then Old Youth
Toby is currently in Fuck with Fire and Croakditch
Jamie is also in Croakditch and The Chris Bramhall Experience
Astin used to play in Toy Shelf, Shark Bait, the 7ups and probably 20 other bands like a
typical drummer!

Who write’s the lyrics/music? Is it collective? 

It’s always a collective usually its music first then lyrics written over or existing lyrics made to fit.
Someone will usually come in with a riff or beat and we take it from there. Everyone brings their own style and piece of fun

What subjects do you cover in your lyrics?

Mainly horror influence lyrics but few are about ex girlfriends or mental health. Its can be tough writing angry lyrics when you haven’t had any bad shit happen to you!

Are there any bands that have influenced you?

Black Flag, Cancer Bats, The Bronx, Crowbar, Pantera, Sick of it All, Mastodon, Misfits,
Fucked Up, Ghost. Basically anything that has good riffs, beats or lyrics!

What are your favourite albums/EPs at the moment?

Scum - Null
Spelljammer - Ancient of Days
Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats - Blood Lust
Charlie Parr - Dog
Neil Young - Tonight's the Night
Bob Dylan -  The Rolling Thunder
Martha - Courting Strong
Bridge Burner - Mantras of Self Loathing
PCP Eagles - I Hate the Mall
Beastwars - The Death of All things
The Bronx - V
Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes - Modern Ruin
Basement  - Promise Everything
Bruce Springsteen - Born to Run
Johnny Flynn - Sillion
Ghost -Prequelle

What is your favourite gig/tour story?

Never really had anything to crazy happen on tour although we did manage to sleep 12 people in the back of a Ford Transit with all the equipment which was interesting. Oh and our old drummer ended up snogging the male singer of another band for a bet ( The other bands bet ).

What is your local heavy/punk scene like and who should we check out (band-wise)?

There used to be a really good Punk/Hardcore scene in harrogate where we’d have lots of touring bands from all the world play like Fucked Up and Trash Talk which isn't too bad for a small posh town like Harrogate!

Nowadays it's a lot quieter, there are still bands going like Fuck with Fire, Croackditch, 7ups etc but the gigs are few and far between. There's a music night once a month called Regency Live at The Regency pub in Harrogate which is great, it’s a good mix of all genres of rock really.
Also every so often Mike ( the old bassist ) puts on gigs but again they're few and far between.

What is your favourite beer (if you drink)?

Jamie - Coors Light
Chris - Double Brown
Toby - Aldi Saint Etienne lager ( 2.79 for 4 cans )
Astin - Just had a kid so he’s not allowed to drink!

I will have a review up of their split cd with Scum in the near future, but for now you can stream and download it here:-

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Gay Panic Defence - Snowflake Powerviolence Vol 1

Labels: Skin & Bones Records
Formats: Tape/Digital
Release Date: 07 Dec 2017


1. Child Abuse (Ft Nick Waller)
2. Typical Man
3. Your Sash Looks So Fetch
5. Respect Existence (Ft Graham Caldwell)
6. Let Down
7. Please Stop
8. You Just Look Silly (Ft Fernie)
9. All Wrong
10. It's Not For Me

Scottish powerviolence band Gay Panic Defence were one of the first bands that I interviewed in 2018, so no idea why it's taken me so long to get round to reviewing their album. They released their first self-titled EP in September 2016, which was swiftly by their second EP "II" and then a split with Colombian PV band Terco in May of last year. "Snowflake Powerviolence Vol 1" was released in December 2017 by the band and on tape by Skin & Bones Records too. It features guest vocals by Nick Waller (Insufferable), Graham Caldwell (Endless Swarm) and Fernie, who mixed and mastered the album. Their political message and all-welcoming persona has seen them play London Pride and Dreadfest in Leeds this year, amongst a whole heap of other shows. There's more coming from them soon too!

Album opener Child Abuse is more punk than powerviolence but ends with a blast of screams from both Mathew and Nick. The anti-religious message is clear and while it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to make out the lyrics, the samples at the beginning and end tell you all you need to know. Child Abuse could be considered long, as Typical Man goes from mid-paced to bass-laden fast in just over thirty-seconds. They take a swipe at The Orange Order on Your Sash Looks So Fetch. The second-half of the song is where they truly take aim with a crazed delivery and higher-pitched screams. CNTRL-ALT.RIGHT-DELETE is self-explanatory and it’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it aesthetic is GPD’s attempt at giving the alt-right as little air time as possible. 

The technical and off-kilter grind of Respect Existence is awesome with the dual screams of Mathew and Graham making it all sound even more violent. GPD fits a lot into Let Down, which is a more straight-forward PV song with plenty of punk attitude for good measure. There’s a slight hint of humour to Please Stop, though it’s message is serious and music even more so. There’s some great time changes in You Just Look Silly, where it gets a bit funky at times. POTUS isn’t safe from their fast attacks either, as you’ll hear on penultimate song All Wrong. Closing song It’s Not For Me blasts with one last barrage of intensity before stopping on a dime. This socially conscious fastcore is becoming even more relevant in the current climate that we have to endure. Gay Panic Defence is doing it right and you should listen to them!

You can stream and download "Snowflake Powerviolence Vol 1" for free below:-

You can buy physical tape copies from Skin & Bones Records here - https://skinandbonesrecs.bigcartel.com/

The interview I did with Mathew can be found here.

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

4-Way Split PremieRing - Thisismenotthinkingofyou

On August 2nd a new 4-way split 12" featuring Massa Nera, Thisismenotthinkingofyou, Yo Sbraito and Ef'il will be released (with vinyl copies coming later in the month. It's being released collaboratively by Dead Tank Records & Distribution, Dingleberry Records, Adorno Records, Zegema Beach Records, Blessed Hands Records & Pundonor Records.

As a one-off, I am lucky enough to be hosting the premiere of the two songs by UK emoviolence band Thisismenotthinkingofyou that will appear on the split. You can stream them via Youtube below:-

Somnambulance I

  Somnambulance II 

Three other blogs will be streaming the songs by Massa Nera, Yo Sbraito and Ef'il, with each blog premiering one band. See below for details:-

3. Yo Sbraito - https://idioteq.com/

Make sure you check out all three!

Pre-orders for the vinyl will be available via the links below:-

Thisismenotthinkingofyou - https://www.facebook.com/timntoy/

Monday, 30 July 2018

Crowning/Swallows Nest - Split

Labels: Zegema Beach Records/IFB Records/Time As A Color/Dingleberry Records
Formats: Vinyl/Digital
Release Date: 24 Jun 2018


1. Crowning - Coil
2. Crowning - Old References
3. Crowning - Nerve
4. Swallows Nest - A Subtle Knife For New Doors

Here's a split that isn't so new (sorry for being late to the party, again!) but who cares, I still want to write about it. It's features Chicago "DadrockViolence" band Crowning and Dunedin (NZ) screamo band Swallows Nest. The 7" was released in June by four of the hardest working overseas labels I know, though I'm a little unsure of the actual release date, so if it's incorrect above please let me know. Both Crowning and Swallows Nest are new to me, so I'm looking forward to this.

Crowning get three songs here and they don’t hang about. Their opener Coil is a violent and heavy blast of hardcore/emoviolence that’s lasts just over sixty seconds but is filled with riffs and bile for days. The slightly more pensive Old References gives the rhythm section time to talk before they once again unleash their unrelenting screamo. There’s a lot to take in but it’s so additive. Crowning’s final song Nerve is absolutely no different and the blasting cymbals that sit alongside the punk-like guitar work in the mid-section hide the angst and misery within. 

Swallows Nest, from easily the most beautiful country in the world, play screamo that suggests all is not well on A Subtle Knife For New Doors. It’s slower but no less heavy and the dual-vocals give it extra oomph. Melody exists within both bands but here it does provide more atmosphere, even when Swallows Nest head off in a more off-kilter/chaotic direction. I could listen to this split over and over again, and in fact I probably will. The feedback that ends it underlines the savageness of it while the silence that follows reminds you that there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.

Digital downloads can be purchased from the bandcamp pages of the labels involved. physical copies can be purchased from the links below:-

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Lurk - Fringe

Labels: Transcending Obscurity Records
Formats: Vinyl/CD/Digital
Release Date: 05 Aug 2018


1, Ostrakismos
2. Tale Blade
3. Reclaim
4. Elan
5. Offshoot
6. Furrow
7. Nether
8. Proteus Syndrome

Another week has been masterfully negotiated and a boozy weekend awaits. Not before I delve into more obscure heavy metal though! I'm sticking with the sludge/doom end of the genre following my review of Weed Demon earlier in the week but this time I'm moving back across the globe to Finland and the sounds of Lurk. The band formed back in 2008 and their debut self-titled full-length in 2012. They followed with "Kaldera" two years later before initially self-releasing "Fringe" in 2016. It's now due for physical release on both cd and vinyl thanks to Indian extreme metal label Transcending Obscurity Records. They've called some of Finland's most revered labels home in the past and they've been receiving great press already for this record, so they're clearly reaching the right ears.

Atmosphere has always been a big part of what drew me towards metal and why I enjoy it so much. Lurk weave it into their music so well with melodies that are both soothing and frightening at the same time on “Fringe” opener Ostrakismos. Most of the song is instrumental and when vocals do appear, they’re cocooned within the instrumentation and are actually really subtle, giving it a slightly gothic slant. It’s clear that Ostrakismos was a mere teaser of an opener as Lurk launch into the instantly heavy Tale Blade without so much as a build up. This time semi-clean vocals back up the deep roars. Given Finnish doom’s illustrious past it’s only natural that the blueprints forged by the likes of Reverend Bizarre, Hooded Menace and Profetus would seep into Lurk’s iteration, but with the sludgy murk and use of the aforementioned melody, they do manage to make something that sounds their own. 

With this being their third full-length, there’s an obvious air of confidence and quality in the song-writing. I mean that in a positive way, as no song lasts too long or is too overblown. Reclaim is a martial and almost hypnotic number that retains a mid-paced (for sludge/doom) tempo. They channel their true-doom side with the truly mournful Elan, which breaks up the extremity with low but clean sung vocals that brings Amorphis to mind. They do revert back to using harsh vocals towards the end and in doing so, they succeed in making the song scarier on the ear. 

I’m not one to make up sub-genres for the sake of it but Offshoot has an air of sludge ’n’ roll to it thanks to the driving tempo of the opening sixty seconds. It’s variation that’s important and it fits in between the slower sections perfectly, making the song pass by in a wave of urgency. Furrow, as the name suggests, drags things back down though and in subtle off-kilter fashion, Lurk banishes any upbeat feelings you may have. They remind you just how fragile you really are, without pushing you completely over the edge. 

Penultimate song Nether is a classic with a sense of industrial coldness to it, which is made more effective by it’s shorter playing time. There’s more traditional metal within it’s bars and that’s no bad thing. Lurk don’t settle for just one form of metal, as it would be easy to sound formulaic when trying to pull this off. They remain forward-thinking within their small plot of the extreme metal landscape. The album’s final number Proteus Syndrome is it’s longest and is the band’s last opportunity to bury their misery into your memory, which they actually do pretty effectively. “Fringe” is the perfect length and contains enough momentum to keep you listening intently throughout. The slow train shows no sign of stopping in Finland and Lurk are one of it’s more modern and exciting proponents. Worship them!

You can stream five of the album's eight songs prior to release below:-

"Fringe" is also available to pre-order on all formats from Transcending Obscurity Records above.