Sunday, 15 September 2019

Meditations In Affinity Vol.1 (Bond): Life In Vacuum/Canyons/Crowning/Hundreds Of Au - 4-Way Split 7"


Labels: The Ghost Is Clear Records/Zegema Beach Records
Formats: Vinyl/Digital
Release Date: 10 May 2019

Tracklist:

1. Life In Vacuum - Nine To Five
2. Canyons - Storing Light
3. Crowning - Visceral Ghosts
4. Hundreds Of Au - Out In The Streets/Elevator Music

I've spent an hour or so this morning just taking stock of what I've been sent to review recently and trying to do some organising of my schedule for the coming weeks. I didn't quite appreciate how good releases have been over the last few months. I've still got catching up to do but that's a constant. 

As the seasons here become more autumnal it's post-hardcore that I feel myself reaching for and so to kick off this Sunday, here's the first split 7" (sub-titled - Bond) from a series called "Meditations In Affinity". The series will feature five four-way split 7"s featuring twenty bands and is a collaboration between The Ghost Is Clear Records and Zegema Beach Records. Each band contributes one song and here they are Life In Vacuum (Can), Canyons (USA), Crowning (USA) and Hundreds Of Au (USA).

Life In Vacuum’s contribution Nine To Five seems to be influenced by UK Indie/Brit Pop to start with, as it’s angular riffs and clean vocals lead the way before the trio explodes into the more usual post-hardcore sounds. It’s more accessible due to the varied musical application that the trio exhibits. Really creative punk. Canyons are equally as angular and off-kilter on Storing Light, but the sense of foreboding that’s enveloped within their mid-paced post-hardcore is palpable. More bass-heavy and containing harsh vocals from the get-go, there’s no light that shines through.

Crowning’s Visceral Ghosts is the closest you’re going to get to the sassy-grind/emoviolence sound on this split. It threatens to explode in a fireball of technical instrumentation and crazy tempos, but the band holds-off from that and instead creates a hardcore song that’s as mesmeric as it is unnerving. The split’s closer is reserved for Hundreds Of Au and Out In The Streets/Elevator Music is a combination of typical heaviness and cinematic post-rock, held together by solid instrumentation and caustic vox. The way they transition from Out In The Streets to Elevator Music leaves no time for a pause and their raging final bars make for a fitting end to this release.

This split series is a fantastic way for people to discover bands that they otherwise would not have. I appreciate that all of the participants have probably already been confirmed for this series but it got me thinking; being based in the UK, I’ve always felt that native post-hardcore/screamo bands have been under-represented on releases like this. It would be great to join together with a label (or labels) to seek out a new band or two from the UK for a release. This is a spark of an idea, so write to me if you think it could be a grower. 

You can stream "Meditations In Affinity Vol.1" and purchase it digitally below:-




Physical copies can be purchased from the labels below:-


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

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Radien - Aste


Labels: Bunkkeri Records
Formats: Vinyl/CD/Digital
Release Date: 03 Jul 2019

Tracklist:

1. Tunne
2. Haudat

It's a weird feeling when you feel mentally drained but physically raring to go. Maybe it's because it's nearly the end of another working week and hedonism awaits. Either way, passing another milestone on the blog this week has left me with a satisfied inner warmth and the impetus to write more. Radien is a band that I've featured before and because of my love for Finnish bands, I was excited to review, though it's taken a little longer than I had hoped to get to this point. The band's latest work "Aste" was released in July via Finnish label Bunkkeri Records and since it's release, support slots alongside Full Of Hell have been and gone, only to be followed soon by equally as big shows in November alongside Inter Arma,

“Aste” features only two songs but they’re both long players. Tunne begins with plenty of ambience and emotive vocals courtesy of Noora Kauppila (melodic singing) and Juuso Raunio (chants and throat singing). It takes a while for Radien’s black/doom/sludge to build and in doing so, it paints a bleak image that’s inescapable. When Radien opens up the delivery provides an equal atmosphere with pained growls and metallic layers that remind you of slower, sludge-filled metallic hardcore from the likes of Integrity (at times). The bass-tone accompanies the slower tempos throughout dragging Radien’s sound down an ever deeper and darker rabbit hole.

Second song Haudat is equally as atmospheric, with a much heavier slant than Tunne initially. Radien’s avant-garde vision definitely came through during that first song and it’s alive and well here thanks to the addition of the Saxophone played by Tommi Rapeli. It works really well alongside the dissonance and feedback (as well as what sounds like whale song, though it’s probably not). Being mainly instrumental, Haudat is left to wander on it’s own and forge a path that’s sometimes disturbing and sometimes hauntingly beautiful. Overall, “Aste” is a lovely body of work but it leaves you hoping that Radien’s productivity will lead to more songs and even a longer full-length record soon. For now though, the band's entire back catalogue is worthy of your attention and admiration.

You can stream "Aste" and buy it digitally and on vinyl below:-



CD copies, vinyl and other Radien merch is available from Bunkkeri Records below:-

Monday, 9 September 2019

Sete Star Sept/Monochrome Nausea - SSS/MN Split 7"


Labels: Duel Disk Media/Friendly Otter Records/Don't Live Like Me Records/Cake Soda/Kakusan Records/Destruktomuzik Records
Formats: Vinyl/Tape/Digital
Release Date; 23 Apr 2019

Tracklist:

1. Sete Star Sept - Follow Rules
2. Sete Star Sept - Dizziness
3. Sete Star Sept - Commander Error
4. Sete Star Sept - Merits And Demerits
5. Sete Star Sept - Collapsing Castles
6. Monochrome Nausea - When We're Ready To Sing, We Step Up To The Microphone And It Comes Out Something Like This
7. Monochrome Nausea - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Art-Core Band
8. Monochrome Nausea - Anger And Violence
9. Monochrome Nausea - Perception Happens In The Brain
10. Monochrome Nausea - Bicycle Rocket Man
11. Monochrome Nausea - My Typewriter Is Drenched In Booze, Sweat And Semen From Problematic Post-Modernists
12. Monochrome Nausea - A Rapid Exit Through The Local Vomitorium
13. Monochrome Nausea - Experience And Theory: A Defense Of Kantian A Priori And Kepler's Philosophy Of Science In Light Of Modern Space-Time Physics
14. Monochrome Nausea - You Big Fat Sack Of Merda
15. Monochrome Nausea - He Dit

Here's a long overdue review of a crazy split 7" that was released earlier this year! Japan's Sete Star Sept and Norway's Monochrome Nausea came together to commit 15 noisy, grinding and improv tracks to wax and tape, which were brought to life via the labels above, while also leaving a scathing aural whole in the Internet.

Having written all of this split’s song-titles out above, it feels like the opening paragraph is a little small in comparison. Still, there’s plenty of opportunity to change that. Japanese noise-mongers Sete Star Sept get five songs in as many minutes here. Noisy is the right adjective to use when describing this duo as well. Their bass-heavy rumble on opener Follow Rules is frightening, as is the feedback. Dizziness induces just that as the cacophony of bass, vocals and drums railroads you into submission. 

The rawness of their sound is unbelievable but there’s still a perversely listenable element in there too, even during the screeching feedback that ends Commander Error, which grinds like a lunatic. There’s no let-up with Merits And Demerits either, with the vocals flitting between high-pitched shrieks and tortured deeper bellows, SSS’s final song Collapsing Castles is filled with mesmerising bass riffs and extremity that only the Japanese can pull off. Not for the faint of heart.

If your’re hoping for an easier ride with Monochrome Nausea, it’s probably best to turn away now. Quickfire opener When We’re Ready To Sing, We Step Up To The Microphone And It Comes Out Something Like This is eleven seconds of similarly hellish noise and it gets no easier as the amusingly titled Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Art-Core Band takes over. This one feels long in comparison but its music deconstructed into its most primal form. 

The aptly titled Anger And Violence sums up this entire split as its improvisational nature sees tempos change and ear drums explode. MN takes things to further extremes during Perception Happens In The Brain and its followed by a slew of songs that are equally as short. Bicycle Rocket Man highlights the influence that they’ve gained from their split-mates, while My Typewriter Is Drenched In Booze, Sweat And Semen From Problematic Post-Modernists highlights their more obtuse side.

By now, you should know that it’s not gonna get any easier but the fast, slow, faster structure of A Rapid Exit Through The Local Vomitorium is great fun. Things return to the weird thanks to Experience And Theory: A Defence Of Kantian A Priori And Kepler’s Philosophy Of Science In Light Of Modern Space-Time Physics…all four-seconds of it. Penultimate song You Big Fat Sack Of Merda is no lengthier and kind of feels a bit strange given the pause before and after it. Split closer He Dit seems like a true long-player at this point, but don’t let that fool you. The abrasiveness is still there as is the improv madness. 

Fifteen songs in not very much time at all from two bands that don’t care for normal structures or melody. If you like your music fast and loud then this is for you. An acquired taste maybe, but one that’s addictive and just plain silly.

You can stream the split and purchase is digitally below:-




Physical copies can be purchased from the below labels:-


Don't Live Like Me Records - https://www.facebook.com/dontlivelikeme/

Friday, 6 September 2019

0N0 - Cloaked Climax Concealed 7"


Labels: Transcending Obscurity Records
Formats: Vinyl/Digital
Release Date: 03 Mar 2019

Tracklist:

1. The Crown Unknown
2. Hidden In The Trees (Sail This Wrecked Ship)

I'll be reviewing some lengthier releases on Sunday and into next week, but this evening is made for something shorter. "Cloaked Climax Concealed" is the latest release from Slovakian industrial doom/death trio 0N0. It was released on limited vinyl back in March of this year and it adds to the band's already impressive discography, which spans two full-lengths, four EPs (including this one) and a digital-only single. 

This is both glorious and spellbinding in equal measure. 0N0’s doom/death metal backbone on first song The Crown Unknown is heavy, atmospheric and off-kilter all while being totally cohesive. The mix of clean and harsh vocals that sit slightly within the mix balance out the eclectic textures that are weaved by the instrumentation, while it actually sounds like there’s a real human playing the drums (they are programmed). 

Second song Hidden in The Trees (Sail This Wrecked Ship) is no easy ride either, with death metal taking more of a lead in proceedings. It makes me think of the maddening noise of Fluerety twinned with the accessible melody of Astronoid. I appreciate that they are probably bizarre comparisons, but somehow they seem to work (in my opinion).

“Cloaked Climax Concealed” is brief in length but it demonstrates exactly what 0N0 is trying to do as a band. It shows off the entity’s instrumental genius and the bravery it has to do something different. I always get slightly worried when I see the term “Industrial” used to describe a band but here it works in subtle ways. Definitely a band worth your time and another fantastic addition to the Transcending Obscurity roster.

You can stream "Cloaked Climax Concealed" and purchase it on both physical and digital formats below:-



Tuesday, 3 September 2019

夢遊病者 (Sleepwalker) - Ѫ (Yus)


Labels: Sentient Ruin Laboratories
Formats: Vinyl/Digital
Release Date: 26 Apr 2019

Tracklist:

1. First Utterance
2. Last Utterance

Ever since I reviewed their split with Sutekh Hexen earlier this year, I've had an itch that's been gnawing away at me. The heaviness that was contained on that split was epic and the black/Experimental noise of international band 夢遊病者 called me back. Now, I'm jumping back a month, give or take, to their latest solo release. Ѫ (Yus) was released on 12" etched vinyl by Sentient Ruin Laboratories in April.

The integrity that seeps though Sleepwalker’s music is unbridled. They’re keeping ancient themes alive while being rooted firmly in the modern day and on Yus, they’re focusing on contradiction that it’s meaning carries amongst different languages (I hope that's right, but kindly correct me if not). First Utterance isn’t so much black metal but more a layered musical piece, featuring elements of it alongside more traditional instruments. At times it does venture into more extreme territory, but those moments are short-lived and fade in and out, ensuring that melody is ever-present,

Last Utterance is very much a heavier prospect. There’s guitar riffs that move between traditional heavy metal and obscure, off-time jazz. The drumming is equally off-kilter and the vocal rasps are buried within the dissonance. That jazz element remains as Sleepwalker finds quieter moments, though their mind-bending extremity is never too far away. This song and indeed Sleepwalker in general demonstrate why you shouldn’t try to understand what’s inside the head of somebody who likes extreme music. Just listen for yourself and you’ll hear the artistry and genius that exists within it.

Stream and purchase Yus both physically and digitally from Sentient Ruin Labs below:-



Sentient Ruin Laboratories - https://www.facebook.com/SentientRuin/

Monday, 2 September 2019

Mental Health In Music: A Musician's Perspective #1 - Paul Priest (has played in bands since 1996)


(Photo Credit: Instagram - os___photo)

Sometime ago now I decided to try my hand at something different. I wanted to reach out to some musicians that I knew and some I didn't, to get their perspectives on mental health with the DIY/Underground music scene and also to learn about their experiences, using a short set of interview questions. It was going to take the form of a big one-off feature and I had written to several participants, but things change and people are busy so I've taken the decision to turn it into a series of features instead.

This first interview features prolific Leeds musician Paul Priest, someone I consider to be a friend (even though I don't make over to Leeds anywhere near as often as I should). Paul's been playing in bands, putting on festivals and gigs for as long time and his energy for music, especially heavy music, is unflinching. He was kind enough to provide an insight into his own experiences with mental health and his insights into how people can help each other. I hope that this piece will raise some awareness of what people face and will maybe help to contribute to conversations about health and wellbeing.

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1. The idea of this feature is to talk about the problems that musicians face, especially those in DIY or up-and-coming bands. Would you mind talking about your own experiences with mental health?

A. Just want to start by saying it's an awesome concept. Anything that leads to more open discussion about this topic is a great thing.

Essentially, I've had depression ever since I can remember. I didn't go through a particularly unhappy childhood or anything, but I was definitely more of an introverted loner, inside my own head a lot of the time, preferring to just listen to the radio, read, write, than 'play out' or be particularly social, especially since, as a result of being that way, I was bullied, which just served to push me even further into my shell.

When I was in my mid-teens, my brain definitely felt noticeably wired in a strange way, and I was very down a lot of the time. I felt like I had no enjoyment of almost anything. The clouds over me got darker and more intense very quickly, and the noise in my brain and bleak thoughts would be overpowering. I had almost stereotypical teenage anxieties and wanted to wipe myself out in whatever fashion I could (drink, drugs, self-harm etc), absolute self-hatred and misanthropy for almost everything around me, and it grew until it was barely manageable.

At 16, I didn't think I would make it to 20. 
At 25, I had no intention of making it to 30.
Even more recently, at 38, I embarked on the worst spell of my entire life, and had a couple of years where I was entirely at rock bottom, had given up, all of life situationally had fallen apart as well as the strength in my spirit and sanity in my mind, and was convinced that was the end, but, the resilience in the human spirit can be quite unbelievable and unreal at times, and, whilst I battle every day with the noise in my head, the continuous torture that can be inflicted by a brain that won't stop calling up every single bad moment in my life at the worst possible times (usually when trying to get to sleep!), I feel like I have found at least a basic strength that will keep me away from ending my life, which I'd not had for most of my life previously. 

Along with extreme depression, it can lead to spells of agoraphobia, troubles with sleep at each end of the spectrum, as in I either can't sleep properly for days, or can do nothing but sleep for days, panic attacks, and sometimes endless suicidal thoughts. I'm 42 now, and every day is difficult, but if you can persist, you can find ways of suppressing and quietening the noisy demons of depression. 

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2. Being in a band can be an outlet for people to express their feelings and to help them get over certain things in life but do you feel that it can also have a negative effect? If so, what do you think these effects can be and are these linked to writing, recording, touring etc?

The timing of you sending these questions over was quite perfect really, because I saw them the day after getting back from a particularly difficult tour, in terms of my own battles in the mind. 

A lot of the time, I am able to, in a way, press pause and get so engrossed in the fun and cathartic side of touring, playing the loud music that was written to be the very release to get you through the hard times, but, this one I struggled to do that, and had a couple of really bad days on the drives between countries. I felt exhausted and broken even before we had got to the venues, so then add on the load in and outs, the prep, the playing, the social side, the not being in my own bed at the end of it, that side of things can be difficult at the best of times, but certainly so when you're not feeling right.

Thankfully though, I managed to work through a lot of what was troubling me right there and then, so that the post-tour blues, the return to reality that can be really intense, it wasn't as bad as I was expecting piled on top of what was also already going on in my head. Out of all the aspects of being in bands though, that can be a tough one at times. It's hard enough sometimes having just, say, had a good night visiting a friend and then returning home, you feel down because you miss that nice little nugget of good times, but, after a tour, which can be the best and most fun experience a musician can have, if it goes well, to come back to the reality we absolutely try and escape, it can be a bludgeoning back down to earth. 

As for writing, I love writing music, this is where I can channel anything I need to away from myself. It's not always necessarily in lyrics, which most people think it probably is. Writing a really heavy riff is amazing, for purging out really bad things inside your mind, or a big or emotional riff can be incredibly cathartic to play over and over. It can lay periods of time to rest, and help you to get through similar times later on. The recording part of it is that final closing of a certain spell.

It's not always like that, but sometimes it's nice to assign certain feelings, situations, problems you've overcome to specific riffs, that way you always get something out of them when you play them.

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3. How do you deal with things now? Have you got any advice for those who are struggling themselves, musician or otherwise?

For the most part, you're in bands with your friends, and so, you get to a stage where you can just pull even just one person aside and say 'You know what, I'm not doing well' and try and work out getting a bit of space or help, but, sometimes it can be difficult to even say anything, depending on the kind of person you are, depending on how open the other people are about stuff like that. Generally, especially in the sort of music we all play, the people we gravitate towards as a result, there are other people in the bands or other friends there that go through similar, and so it can be easier to just get the feelings out in the open. Particularly on tour, you can have daily spells where there isn't much you can do, so take a hour out, away from the other people, just let your mind breathe a little in a quiet space, go for a wander away from the others. Nobody is going to mind, everyone will understand.

But, for anyone... No matter how difficult it is to say something, when you're feeling at your worst, always remember how much better you feel once you've said something, just one thing, one sentence, a few words asking for a bit of help or friendship can make unbelievable amounts of difference, right there and then AND in the future too, because it then becomes easier to say something again further down the line.

I've generally been someone who doesn't say much about problems at the time, and prefers to work through them myself. Sometimes this works out good and sometimes not so much. Internalising can be dangerous, but, I've got much better at knowing when are the times I know I'll be alright to sort things out, or when I need to speak up and ask for help.

Occasionally I will post up long rambles (can you tell with the response to this?!), big brain dumps, to friends, just to kind of update what I have been feeling, or where I am / where I've been, mentally, usually it is AFTER getting through the situations. That's in a way my closing account and the final purging I need to be able to move on, gain the strength needed from what has happened, and (from what some people have said to me) it helps others in their personal struggles as well, which, if that's the case, then amazing. It has been worth going through if it helps others as well.

A trick that has worked to a degree for me, and has for others, is to physically write down the particular thoughts that are repeating, or causing trouble in the mind, then, walk away from it for a little bit, come back, read it, and dispose of it, rip it up, set it on fire. That's literally emptying your brain and destroying the toxicity inside it. You can do the same with typing something out, saving it, closing it, opening it up again, reading it, chucking it in the bin! 

There's always ways. Some people hit the gym, go for a run, put on loud music and throw themselves around, some comfort eat. To be honest, whatever release you find in times of need, just do it.

At the end of that though, there is nothing better than just saying something, anything, to anyone. Text any friend saying 'Help, I feel shit', or put up a post on social media saying 'I'm not feeling right, and I don't know what to do', or call a helpline. They will understand, they will know how to put you at ease, they will be the voice you need. Just don't go it alone, because your brain can take you to some terrible places if you let it.

It took me a long time to accept that all of this side to my personality is never going to fully go away. It's chemical, it's been heightened by situational stuff, but, how I am now, I am happy in myself, as contradictory as this sounds. I've accepted that all I can do is manage this sometimes debilitating illness, sometimes I will be able to, sometimes I won't, but I have conquered so many spells over the course of my life, that I have decided I'm never giving up on myself. I've got this far, so I may as well see what other interesting, fun, weird, twisty adventures this life can throw at me.

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4. What more do you think can be done in the underground scene or even the wider music scene to support people who may be struggling?

I think, generally, it's already heading in a good and positive direction. From what I see around my circles of friends, people are a lot less afraid to make that first statement of not being alright, to let people know that they've had a bad spell, or to bear with them whilst they work through problems. 

The music we listen to, the musicians making that noise, a lot more of them are able to speak up about their battles, it's there in the lyrics, in the sounds, it gives people hope, it makes people feel less isolated or lost. The scene is growing at a huge rate, and with it comes more people, more future generations that are less scared to put their hand up and say they have struggles. 

Normalising the feelings of depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, to a degree helps people focus less on them and more on something positive, that they can use these 'brain quirks' to be creative, to help others, to be compassionate, to be selfless, and if you can dig deep and find the energies to accomplish any of these, to any level, then the possibilities of feeling that little bit better about yourself as a whole are increased.

The simplest way of putting the best advice is 'TALK MORE'. There's a spate of graffiti that, I believe, started in Leeds, I saw it quite a bit, and it's ingenious and perfection. 

There's still talk that there are stigmas attached to problems with mental health, and, maybe that's the case in different areas or types of people, but certainly in the 'alternative' or 'creative' worlds, I think that stigma is at least massively eradicated, so hopefully that can continue on further throughout the world. There's always going to be some people who ruin that goodness, but, I think they get shut down and told why they are wrong to be so thoughtless, and people aren't scared to take the side of those in need, and those in need are seemingly getting less scared about asking for the help.

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I want to take this opportunity to thank Paul for taking the time to talk about his experiences. His message is a positive one and If it helps one person, it'll be worth it. Please reach out if you want to talk via the comments section below or via social media.

As mentioned in the title of this feature, Paul's been playing music for over two decades. More information can be found via Metal Archives - https://www.metal-archives.com/artists/Paul_Priest/.

If you're struggling or you know somebody who is, please talk to someone like Leeds Mind at https://www.leedsmind.org.uk. Also, if you would like to donate to this very worthwhile charity, the proceeds will help them to provide more support for those who need it. Thank you.

Sunday, 1 September 2019

Lavinia - Sallowed


Labels: Self-released/Pax Aeternum Digital
Formats: Vinyl/Digital
Release Date: 26 Jul 2019

Tracklist: 

1. White River
2. All Arms Out
3. Wither
4. Embers
5. Last Leaves
6. Fall Risk
7. Window
8. Sallowed

September is the month where I put more pressure on myself to write, because even though I've said to myself that I can't force it, I've not been as productive as I'd have liked and as my main source of escapism from a job that tests me mentally, I need to do this. I don't know of I'll be able to write 30 reviews this month (that is my aim) but starting with Texan post-rock band Lavinia is a way of signalling my intent. The band, featuring personnel from Appleseed Cast, Junius, Rosetta and more, has released "Sallowed" via Dark Operative Records imprint Pax Aeternum Digital and is crowdfunding a limited vinyl pressing (as well as a possible CD release in the future). 

It feels right to be ending the week and to be facing the grim spectre of a new one with something calming and Lavinia’s “Sallowed” is certainly that. The initial intro track White River is a mere hint towards the band’s musicianship and craft. It’s only when All Arms Out comes intro view that it truly begins to make sense. Dissonant at times but with obvious melody and accessibility too, in the guitars, the drums and indeed the vocals. 

On hearing Wither, I’d liken Lavinia to “Antenna” era Cave In and maybe Pelican too, but that’s by-the-by. They’re very much their own band though, so any comparisons I make are really just doing them a disservice. The added heaviness that permeates through Wither is great and adds a heap of grit to their sound. Embers makes you realise that this is an album that needs to be listened to with the utmost concentration, as it’s aural layers and textures swirl around your ears. It’s mainly instrumental and it works amazingly well.

There’s no better way to start the second half of an album than with Last Leaves. It’s got that cinematic vibe to it that is characteristic within post-rock. Mellow but also able to conjure up all kinds of images within the mind. I’m not afraid to say that I nearly feel asleep to the soothing sounds of Fall Risk. The guitar-work after the mid-point of the song, paired with the urgency of the drumming was enough to bring me back to my senses though. 

Penultimate song Widow is equally as calming, once again featuring more instrumentation than vocals and continuously building on the momentum that Lavinia have gathered throughout this album. They leave the title-track for the end and its a fine way too close things out. The dissonance from earlier on is somewhat ignored, but then again this song stretches past the nine-minute mark so there’s still time. It does get slightly heavier towards its conclusion, but their “heavy” isn’t the same as your “heavy”. It’s probably more apt to call it dreamy.

Finding something to say as a closing piece is difficult here. Let’s just finish by saying that you should give “Sallowed” your attention forthwith as when those winter nights draw ever closer, you’ll need something to hold you and to keep you warm. Post-rock album of year (possibly).

Stream and purchase "Sallowed" digitally via Pax Aeternum below:-



For news regarding the vinyl pressing go to - https://www.facebook.com/Lavinia.

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Oaken/Marnost - Split


Labels: Bookhouse Records/Catanarchy Records/Dingleberry Records/Dzsukhell Rekords/IFB Records/Itai Itai Records/Middle-Man Records/Music For Liberation/Prejudice Me Records/Rotten Raven/THC+DIY Records/Zegema Beach Records
Formats: Vinyl/Digital
Release Date: 09 Apr 2014

1. Oaken - I Am The Crucifix
2. Oaken - Redeember
3. Marnost - Die Hamletmasch

Well it's been a few days and I've been enjoying the last bank holiday weekend that we'll get this year, hence the lack of posts. That's partly why I've decided to do another Zegema Beach Records roster review (alliteration to the max!). This one features experimental Hungarian hardcore band Oaken and Czech heavy band Marnost. This LP contains two songs by Oaken and one by Marnost. It was released in 2014 by a whole host of labels, that'll be linked to below.

Oaken’s opener I Am The Crucifix begins like some sort of occult black metal song with low chanting and ambience before menacing guitar work takes over. Essentially, they are a hardcore band with black metal and doom leanings, which means their sound is heavy. At times it’s fast and others it’s slower and more progressive, which is very much driven by the percussion and the bass. Oaken’s creativity is obvious throughout and their barbaric approach to their delivery is astounding.

After that seven-minute plus opener, Redeemer goes even longer and harder and shows Oaken in an even more cinematic light (even it that light is quickly fading to darkness). The mix of growls and pitches go to show that they’re very much a fully collaborative unit and the clean female vocals later on are a fantastic touch that add extra weight to the music. This really has everything. I slept on this for so long.

Marnost’s sole contribution to this split is equal to both the previous songs on it, so it’s intriguing to listen to it and see how it matches up. Die Hamletmasch is immediately a mote down-tempo song with huge lumbering riffs and loads of swirling feedback. It has more of a rawness but that’s fine. There’s subtle melody and the occasional screams nestling in the background as it builds. Noisy is probably the most apt descriptor for this. 

Around the four-and-a-half-minute mark it almost falls silent before gentle guitar takes over, alongside whispered lyrics. There’s still a feeling though that once again Marnost are about to explode and as the volume increases and the band whirrs back into life with the help of ringing cymbal crashes, there’s no room for cowering. What follows is fast black metal mixed with post-hardcore, which like Oaken before it, is really engaging. The final passage featuring the spoken word sample will have the hairs standing up on the back of you neck.

It seems that both bands were destined to be on a split together. Both are fantastic and if you missed this when it was originally (like I did!), you should pick up a copy now. 

Stream the split and purchase it digitally (name-your-price) below:-




Grab physical copies from the labels below (well the ones that still have stock):-

Dingleberry Records And Distribution - https://doomrock.com/dingleberry-records/

Music For Liberation - http://musicforliberation.com
Prejudice Records And Distro - https://www.facebook.com/PrejudiceMe/

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Moloch/Groak - Split 7"


Labels: Dry Cough Records/Heavenly Vault
Formats: Vinyl/Digital
Release Date: 15 July 2019

Tracklist:

1. Moloch - Thy Grief II
2. Groak - Quiet Graft

2019 has been a very good year in heavy music terms and while it's impossible to catch everything that's released, I'm going to try and bring you more over the coming weeks. This split featuring Nottingham's Moloch and Groak from Leeds was released in mid-July via Dry Cough Records (UK) and relative newcomers Heavenly Vault (Germany). Bringing together two of the UK's best underground bands is only going to end one way...

When I first dug deeper below the surface and made the descent from mainstream metal to the underground, hardcore was my first stop. From there I found the crunching, slow riffs of sludge to be a welcoming escape from the faster tempos. At first it was Church Of Fuck (R.I.P) mixing the two genres with their releases and then Dry Cough Records grabbing the torch with both hands, thrusting ever slower and lower bands into my ears. This split, which is one of their latest releases, is no different.

Moloch will not be a surprise to anybody (at least, they shouldn’t be). Their recent 7” “Love Songs” was the quartet at their best and here on Thy Grief II,  there’s no dip in the quality of the sludge/doom that they provide. They sound a little more stripped-back here but they’re still a force to be reckoned with. You just have to listen to the powerful riffs and rumbling bass, the crashing cymbals and those vocals to know that they can’t be doubted anymore.

Groak have always had their foot in both fast and slow camps. Here they begin Quiet Graft in frightening fashion with dual vocals, screeching feedback and instrumentation delivered at a tempo that’s as slow as they’ve probably ever gone (maybe!). It doesn’t end their though. Their own, gritty brand of Yorkshire sludge is glorious in a twisted way and it just goes to show the breath of talent that the UK’s scene (I hate to use the term) has. Consistency is a hard thing for a lot of bands to muster, but Groak are already producing the goods. 

If you’re from the UK you’ll no doubt be familiar with both bands and heck, if you’re from overseas, the chances are you’ll have come across them too. If not, this split may be a starter for ten. Two blisteringly heavy songs from two of our best. That reminds me, there are some gaps in my sludge collection that need filling!

Stream and purchase the full split digitally and on vinyl from Dry Cough Records below:-



European fans can buy the split in both formats from Heavenly Vault Records here -