Tuesday, 6 December 2022

MASSA NERA - Derramar | Querer | Borrar

Labels: Zegema Beach Records

Formats: Vinyl/CD/Tape/Digital

Release Date: 02 Dec 2022


1. An Endless Cycle // I Was More Than The Weight Of My Work

2. Hipocrita

3. Lost Faces

4. Adrift

5. Shapeshift

6. April 7th

7. A Faint Goodbye

8. Tristeza Consume (Lowering the Blinds)

9. Eyeless Faces

10. Wanting (Ghosts Haunting Ghosts)

11. You Mean So Much More Than Misery To Me

12. Anchored

This evening's post was going to a continuation of my ongoing Zegema Beach Records Roster review series (and I guess it kinda is), as not so long ago US screamo/post-hardcore band MASSA NERA wrote to let me know about their newest record Derramar | Querer | Borrar and asked if I could write about it. It was released a mere four days ago via ZBR and it's already received a huge response, as vinyl and tape copies are quickly selling out. I should have been at a really boring meeting this evening. Thank god I swerved that!

It’s amazing to me that so many bands release new album in December, as the clamour to write end-of-year lists grow too much for bigger publications (because apparently the end of the year starts before the 1st day of the new year!). Thankfully, there are some us who still appreciate those so called latecomers and the brand new album from MASSA NERA is no exception. Album opener ‘An Endless Cycle // I Was More Than The Weight Of My Work’ is a screamo song that leans heavily on instrumentation and progression, with vocals used sparingly throughout it’s seven-and-a-half minute running time. There’s also great use of caustic hardcore towards the end, which really gets things going.

‘Hipocrita’ accentuates MASSA NERA’s musical approach, which here combines post-metal, emo and off-kilter melodics perfectly. It’s early on but there seems to be a real and obvious maturity to the band’s sound. People sometimes mistake maturity for giving up and settling into a formula that works. MASSA NERA are a long way from giving up and if anything, they’re building up to much greater things. ‘Lost Faces’ is an immediate continuation without any pause, which is nice and with that the momentum continues into something that’s altogether heavier and more fraught with dissonance. It’s beautiful.

This isn’t a short album but it needn’t be either. Screamo and emoviolence of late has very much been about shock and awe, but this album could very well be a turning point. ‘Adrift’ is a considered and thoughtful post-hardcore song that plays more on the band’s emotions, translating them into music tells a story and carves a journey. That’s the turning point for me! In fact, things seem to be veering closer and closer to metal as you get further into this record, as demonstrated on ‘Shapeshift’s first ninety-seconds at least, before some chilled electronica hits. Again, another shift (which I guess is the reason for the song-title). I have to say I’m digging it. A bit of drum ’n’ bass/techno/house/whatever (I’m not a dance music expert as you can tell) is good once in a while and it works so well here.

You’re snapped back to reality on ‘April 7th’ with it’s blistering hardcore sensibilities. It may be more familiar given MASSA NERA’a past, but it’s definitely a shock to the system after the previous song. At this point you’ll be past the mid-point in Derramar | Querer | Borrar. ‘A Faint Goodbye’ is an exquisite post-hardcore number filled with truly dramatic crescendos. The latter half of the album is filled with shorter, more urgent songs but that doesn’t stop them from being packed with creativity. ‘Tristeza Consume (Lowering the Blinds) being a case in point.

‘Eyeless Faces’ flows forth straight after with MASSA NERA’s own use of panic chords and mathcore leaning musicianship. This is turning out to be an album of two halves so far but one that’s still a perfect whole. If you like terrifying noise and screamo madness, look no further than this song or ‘Wanting (Ghosts Haunting Ghosts)’ for that matter. It’s percussive tempo is straight-up grinding, while the guitars present a shoegaze-like backdrop underneath the rabid screams. One thing that MASSA NERA has always done well is introspective passages and here they package those passages up alongside black metal influences. 

Penultimate song ‘You Mean So Much More Than Misery To Me’ is hard hitting not just in title but also musically, though the use of strings during it’s mid-section turns it on it’s head a little. So good from beginning to end, it’s atmosphere digs deep into your psyche. Closer ‘Anchored’ is initially so much more laid-back. It’s a song that you can shut your eyes to and allow yourself to be whisked away momentarily. MASSA NERA’s lyrics talk of defeat and failure, which are relatable everyday feelings for many. Stark and harrowing, the album falls into silence.

It’s not often I finish a day at work with a review of this length. Maybe I needed this. I can definitely say that MASSA NERA have created something really special here. Derramar | Querer | Borrar is the soundtrack to 2022. Crushingly heartbreaking yet euphorically deserved. 

Stream the album in full and purchase it on all formats from MASSA NERA below:-

MASSA NERA - https://www.facebook.com/MASSANERANJ

Copies are also available from Zegema Beach Records below (while stocks last):-

Zegema Beach Records CAN/INTL - http://www.zegemabeachrecords.com/zegema-beach-releases/massa2

Zegema Beach Records USA - https://zbrusa.com/products/massa2

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

Monday, 5 December 2022

Qoya - Stellar Frequencies Sessions #2

Labels: Stellar Frequencies

Formats: Vinyl/Digital

Release Date: 10 Feb 2022


1. Whispers (Live Session)

2. Banshee (Live Session)

After what seems like an age, here's my second Stellar Frequencies Sessions review that features French doom/post-punk trio Qoya. Their two-song session was recorded in December 2021 before being released by Stellar Frequencies on lathe cut vinyl snd digital formats in February. Physical lathe copies are sold out.

I guess live sessions aren’t meant to be long and I’m sure there’s a reason for that. Qoya’s two-song session begins with ‘Whispers’ and it’s post-rock/post-punk atmosphere. In truth, it’s only the vocals that hint at the band’s post-punk influence, as the instrumentation that’s led by lovely melodic guitar work is a lot more majestic and immersive.

Qoya’s second song ‘Banshee’ features a lengthy intro passage that is very easy to get lost in. As the verse kicks in, it’s easy to hear that the trio are still finding their feet musically, having only released their debut album Yokai in October 2021 (where both of these songs are taken from) but nonetheless, their potential is obvious. The rest of the song follows the same pattern as it’s opening few minutes and it’s great to just sit back, taking it all in.

If I had to give advice to my younger self about heavy music, it would be that you can’t just pigeonhole it. There are so many nuances and different takes on it that it’s impossible to generalise. Qoya is another band that shows just how far this form of music can be stretched. A great job from a band that will hopefully grow and grow.

You can stream and purchase the session digitally below:-

Qoya - https://www.facebook.com/qoyamusic

Stellar Frequencies - https://www.facebook.com/stellarfrequenciesfr

Friday, 2 December 2022

The Bobby Lees - Bellevue

Label: Ipecac Recordings

Formats: Vinyl/CD/Tape/Digital

Release Date: 07 Oct 2022


1. Bellevue

2. Hollywood Junkyard

3. Ma Likes A Drink

4. Death Train

5. Strange Days

6. Dig Your Hips

7. Have You Seen a Girl

8. In Low

9. Little Table

10. Monkey Mind

11. Greta Van Fake

12. Be My Enemy

13. Mystery Theme Song

When you're sent a promo of an album that's been released via Ipecac Recordings, you tend to take notice. The label that's called home by some of alternative/heavy music's greats including Fantomas, Melvins, Isis and countless others released the latest album from Woodstock, New York punks The Bobby Lees in October. Bellevue is the quartet's second album and this review is possible thanks to Ipecac Recordings, Speakeasy PR and Haulix, who have just rolled out their new Haulix+ promotional service.

I can see how The Bobby Lees found the home that they did in which to release this album. Their fast and sassy punk screams as if it were born in the 80s on opener ‘Bellevue’. It’s a short sharp shock that sets the tone but it also flatters to deceive as ‘Hollywood Junkyard’ is not as frenetic. They slow things down, but loose none of the attitude while doing so. Sound-wise, punk is very much the main ingredient but it’s also layered with a solid amount of rock, blues and even some of the madcap antics that helped Fantomas back in the day.

There’s a British influence flowing though ‘Ma Likes A Drink’ that I can’t quite put my finger on. Maybe it’s the unapologetic delivery that verges on snotty. Either way, it’s super catchy. Your utterly blindsided by the percussion on ‘Death Train’, which leads with it’s front food, providing a bouncing rhythm that the rest of the band has to catch up with. The bass and bluesy guitar work provides a subtle nod to horror-punk in places (I’m talking T.S.O.L) and the more accented, almost shrieked vocals give out more energy than they take.

It’s great to hear how The Bobby Lees can vary their sound so greatly without actually stepping too far from their original blueprint. Keys are employed on ‘Strange Days’ to provide a stripped down replacement to their full-on drumming and add to a much cleaner sound, yet it’s never too far away from the loud pedal, as the song’s second half shows.

My musical tastes must be evolving for sure because I used to be all about the really heavy and dissonant side of punk, but over the last few years I’ve been reaching for lighter, brighter and more danceable punk. This record is the perfect example of why that latter should not be overlooked and ‘Dig Your Hips’ is perfectly wound, as is the fuzzy, scuzzy quick-fire ‘Have You Seen a Girl”. All leather, brass studs and flipping v’s. 

By now you’re into the latter half of Bellevue and the songs have gotten shorter, and more urgent, especially ‘In Low’. It’s short and oh so catchy. It gives way to ‘Little Table’, which sounds like it’s rhythm and instrumentation was stolen straight from a Parisian blues/jazz cafe. I’m not complaining because it sounds brilliant.

That blues/jazz influence only grows on the amusingly titled ‘Monkey Mind’, with it’s twinkly keys and lyrics that could either be about the animal or human variety. I guess only the band knows which. Spoken word lyrics sound great in the right setting and  ‘Greta Van Fake’ is just that setting. More spoken than sung, they work perfectly up against the rock n roll underneath. 

Up till this point the music contained on Bellevue hasn’t been overly off-kilter, until penultimate song ‘Be My Enemy’ that is. Don’t get me wrong though, this isn’t artsy or progressive by any stretch but in the verses it’s certainly got something different going on that’s ear-pricking. Closing with ‘Mystery Theme Song’, The Bobby Lees lay to rest an album that’s infectiously enjoyable. Long enough to get lost in but short enough to keep you hooked. 

You can stream and purchase Bellevue on all formats below:-

The Bobby Lees - https://www.facebook.com/TheBobbyLees

Ipecac Recordings - https://www.facebook.com/ipecac

Wednesday, 30 November 2022

60659-c - The Next Part Is A Blur

Labels: Adorno Records/Contrition Recordings/Polar Summer/Zegema Beach Records

Formats: Tape/Digital

Release Date: 15 Aug 2017


1. I Was Awake

2. Convenient

3. Crowd

4. Everybody Out

5. For Expiring

6. Hold On, This Hurts

7. New Sincerity

8. The Floor

9. Which Will Never Reach You

10. Dissipating Like A Mirage

It's been an odd day today. Aside from the day job, I had a message from my friend Paul in Czechia to say the blog was down. I came home to find that over 3000 people had visited it during the day, which may have been the reason for the crash (I don't know!). Either way. it seems that normal service resumed a while ago so it's time for another ZBR roster review featuring Virginia, USA emoviolence band 60659-c. The Next Part Is A Blur contains the only songs from the band to date (or maybe ever, though there are no signs that they've ever called it a day) and was released in August 2017 digitally and on tape.

This album flies by fast so I’m not sure how descriptive this review is gonna be, but I guess we’ll find out. 60659-c come straight out of the blocks on The Next Part Is A Blur with opener ‘I Was Awake’, which is filled with all of the good parts of emoviolence including the high-pitched screams, the riffs and bold percussion. Ringing feedback is another notable feature and it’s alive, and present on ‘Convenient’. Now is it me or are some of those high-pitched screams reminiscent of Alien Ant Farm’s ‘Smooth Criminal’ cover (hopefully you’ll know the part I mean). 

There aren’t many songs on the album that pass the minute mark and ‘Crowd’ is one of three that doesn’t make it past thirty seconds, yet it has an oddly mid-paced feel to it. Maybe that’s just an illusion of sound though. ‘Everybody Out’ starts with an introspective intro and turns into one of the most melodic songs so far. That melody is a constant on the band’s more drawn out songs (if that’s a fair descriptor) and ‘For Expiring’ uses more of it alongside harsher and more emotive screams, and a slight hardcore influence as well. ‘Hold On, This Hurts’ is like some sort of bizarre nursery rhyme/wind-chime symphony that bursts into life during it’s final fifteen seconds or so. It’s a really creative song that has plenty of impact.

You’re snapped back to reality on ‘New Sincerity’ as any sort of twinkly melody and peace is shattered by 60659-c’s full-on approach. Granted, you’ve probably heard emoviolence that’s rawer than this, but bands do need a unique selling point at times and the ability to be musical, with a clearer recoding works here. ‘The Floor’ is another one where the riffs reign supreme and with the vocals and drumming sitting slightly deeper, you are dragged into the music even more.

Penultimate number ‘Which Will Never Reach You’ is here before you know it and it’s got that chunkier hardcore edge to it again, as well as some lovely bass tones during it’s second half. It leads nicely into ‘Dissipating Like A Mirage’, which is the only track to break the minute mark. At times it’s super fast and blasting, while at others it drifts in a state of calmness and introspection. A great way to end an album that may forever be the only uttering from 60659-c. If that is to be the case, then it’s certainly made it’s mark.

You can stream The Next Part Is A Blur and grab it as a name-your-price download below:-

60659-c - https://www.facebook.com/60659c

Tape copies are long sold out.

Adorno Records - https://adornorecords.bandcamp.com

Contrition Recordings - https://www.facebook.com/contritionrecordings

Polar Summer - https://polarxsummer.bandcamp.com/

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

Sunday, 27 November 2022

Confess - Revenge At All Costs

Labels: Rexius Records

Formats: CD/Digital

Release Date: 21 Jan 2022


1. Based On A True Story...


3. Phoenix Rises

4. Ransom Note

5. You Can't Tame The Beast!

6. Unfilial Son

7. Megalodon

8. Under Surveillance

9. Hegemony

10. Army Of Pigs!

11. I Speak Hate

With the backlash to the current football world cup taking place in Qatar and the human rights atrocities being left unpunished in various countries around the world, it takes brave people to speak out. Nikan Khosravi and Arash Ilkhani are two such people, having fled their native Iran following persecution and unjust prison sentences. They were offered asylum in Norway in 2018, where they have resided ever since and earlier this year they released Confess's third full-length Revenge At All Costs, with the help of drummer Roger Tunheim Jakobsen.

The message behind this album is all too real, as opener ‘Based On A True Story…’ shows with news/media samples spliced together alongside snippets of Confess’s groove/thrash metal. It’s already a very harrowing listen and it focuses on the band’s experiences of the Iranian legal/prison system, which is something many of us won’t even be able to comprehend. ‘EVIN’ is the first time you hear their music in true anger. EVIN is known as one of Iran’s harshest prisons and it’s picture is painted by Confess here. There’s a nod to bands like Fear Factory, Sepultura and Slipknot in a sound that’s also littered with Arabic influences (although subtle). 

Unsurprisingly though, there is also plenty of Norwegian melo-death influence that’s prominent during ‘Phoenix Rises’, especially thanks to the excellent drumming of Roger Tunheim Jakobsen. It has so much groove and impact, with the addition of Arash’s DJ’ing and Nikan’s hard-hitting guitar work. There’s a massive slab of thrash metal injected into ‘Ransom Note’ and it continues the up-tempo nature of the album.

The pace I mentioned above is only one part of this album’s draw, as Confess really hit their musical stride on ‘You Can’t Tame The Beast!’. The song makes use of different time-signatures and riff patterns, making it appear doomier with a hint of traditional heavy metal peeking through in the mix. The midpoint of Revenge At All Costs comes courtesy of ‘Unfilial Son’, where things get a bit more off-kilter and the bass guitar adds much more heft.

The aptly named ‘Megalodon’ is a shining example of well-written and performed groove metal. The sub-genre is sometimes maligned but Confess show that when it’s done right, it’s really enjoyable. ‘Under Surveillance’ follows on immediately after in very similar and urgent fashion. There’s a more technical edge to the band during this second-half and it’s great to hear, with the final sixty seconds of ’Under Surveillance’ being especially so. 

On ‘Hegemony’, things go back in a more traditional direction again and even though it’s one of the album’s longer songs, it still contains plenty of bite and atmosphere, without hampering momentum. There’s no doubt who ‘Army Of Pigs!’ is aimed at and the anger within it is palpable. Closing with ‘I Speak Hate’, Confess makes one final statement of intent and shows their resilience, which has been born out of their past experiences at the hands of an oppressive regime.

Revenge At All Costs hits the spot with it’s no nonsense approach and Confess have really harnessed their rage perfectly. It’s musically strong too, making it a great listen throughout.

You can stream and purchase the album both digitally, and on CD below:-

Confess - https://www.facebook.com/confessbandIR

Rexius Records - https://www.facebook.com/RexiusRecords

Tuesday, 22 November 2022

This Noise Is Ours is now on Substack

This is just a quick update to say that TNIO is now on Substack. This is a work in progress but the first post is up and it would be great if you could check it out and share it around. 


I'm going to run it alongside the blog for the time being. The blog will still be my priority and will be where most of my content is posted; however, with social media going down the pan fast I wanted another option. Thanks

Thursday, 17 November 2022

Liquid Shit - Untold Horrors

Labels: Dry Cough Records

Formats: Tape/Digital

Release Date: 06 May 2022


1. Beyond Reproach

2. Riddled With Lesions

3. Empty Gesture

4. Death Absolute

My latest Dry Cough Records purchase, Crypt Rot's An Ancient Summoning tape, arrived yesterday; however, I want to talk about the Liquid Shit tape Untold Horrors this evening. Liquid Shit is a death/doom/hardcore band from London that features former members of Dead Sea Fucking Scrolls, Cutting Pink With Knives, Navajo Code and many more from the UK's grind/hardcore community. Untold Horrors follows their 2020 EP Pillars Of Shit, which was released via Hominid Sounds.

In keeping with the current influx of death metal-leaning hardcore bands, Liquid Shit add themselves notably to the list with Untold Horrors. EP opener ‘Beyond Reproach’ has a sound unlike any other so far, where low growls are coupled with equally low and hypnotic hardcore riffs, drenched in noise and nerve-racking percussion. The one thing that I didn’t mention in the opener salvo was the dirty bass guitar sound. It’s prominent during ‘Riddled With Lesions’ and leads you into a slow, groovy song filled with sludge influences and psychedelic lead work. There’s also a saxophone present but it’s not overly audible amongst the noise.

‘Empty Gesture’ contains some epically piercing feedback that throws you into another song filled with claustrophobic, lumbering hardcore. The repeating riffs are utterly brilliant throughout and the noise levels on the recording remind me of the dread filled tones of the likes of November Coming Fire, Cholera and Sea Bastard. I read a tweet from the US heavy noise-rock band Whores earlier today extolling the talent in the UK scene. Hearing this EP adds to the excitement (if I’m allowed to say that!). EP closer ‘Death Absolute’ induces the same feeling as a psychological horror movie. It’s mostly instrumental with heaps of groove and noise. The vocals are used sparingly but enough to make their own final impact. 

Four songs that seem to zip by, with an infectious sound. Dry Cough’s output keeps getting better and Liquid Shit hit the spot in a way that’s unexpected yet really engrossing. Cracking stuff!

You can stream Untold Horrors and purchase the band's last remaining tape copies, or a digital download below:-

You can also buy tape copies from Dry Cough Records here:-


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

Tuesday, 15 November 2022

Mrtex/Samarra - Split

Labels: Zegema Beach Records

Formats: Tape/Digital

Release Date: 12 Aug 2017


1. Samarra - Drama In The Walmart Restroom

2. Samarra - It Is Fine, Everything Is Fine

3. Samarra - Impulsive Semantics

4. Mrtex - That Ain't The Friggin' Xmas Star

5. Mrtex - Dolla Bills Dipped In Ice Nine

6. Mrtex - You Are Garbage Made Flesh (not reviewed here)

I'm back with another ZBR roster review tonight, featuring the 2017 split with newly crowned This Noise Is Ours house band Mrtex (please excuse my poor attempt at humour!) and US emoviolence band Samarra. It was limited to 100 tapes and was solely available via Zegema Beach Records. The split featured three songs from each band; however, the third song from Mrtex 'You Are Garbage Made Flesh' isn't available to steam online, so I can't write about it unfortunately. 

I’m starting with the Samarra side here, as that’s the order of things on bandcamp. ‘Drama In The Walmart Restroom’ is an abrasive and chaotic song complete with dual-vocals, and moments of utter beauty too. Anxious feedback sits alongside introspective melodic passages, creating something that stretches beyond it’s actual playing time. ‘It Is Fine, Everything Is Fine’ starts off by lulling you into a false sense of security before Samarra once again lets off an air-raid siren of piercing energy (especially thanks to the higher-pitched screams). There are hardcore riffs present too, but they’re subtle and the whole band seems to cohesively weave them into their sound.

Samarra’s final song could be considered long by comparison to their others. ‘Impulsive Semantics’ is their most brutal addition to the split. Raw intensity pours from the speakers as it goes and the embrace you receive when things slow down is really warming. Mrtex come out of the traps straight away on ‘That Ain’t The Friggin’ Xmas Star’ with machine gun drumming and grinding ferocity. Heck, I only realised today that the band features/featured (delete as applicable) members of Yaphet Kotto and Jenny Piccolo. The more you know!. Anyway, this opener flies by before you know it.

‘Dolla Bills Dipped In Ice Nine’ is equally as unrelenting. It shows Mrtex in a much heavier mood than maybe they have been on earlier releases, but maybe that’s just my ears. The use of melody stands out here and is helped by the slightly longer running time. Here’s where this review ends for me. I don’t know why ‘You Are Garbage Made Flesh’ isn’t online, but there must be a good reason why. That still doesn’t stop this from being a super enjoyably split to listen too. Samarra are really great. I’m not sure if anything else was released by them after this. Mrtex will always be a go to and their material here is top notch once again. 

You can stream all available songs below, where the split's also available to purchase digitally:-

Mrtex - https://www.facebook.com/mrtexrebellion

Samarra - https://samarrava.bandcamp.com

Physical tapes are available from Zegema Beach Records below:-

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

USA - https://zbrusa.com/collections/zbr-releases/products/мятеж-samarra-split-cassette

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

Monday, 14 November 2022

Nionde Plagan - Transformation

Labels: Moment Of Collapse

Formats: Vinyl/CD/Digital

Release Date: 28 Oct 2022


1. Jag vill det här för oss

2. Resenär

3. Äta sova dö (deluxe edition)

4. Vanligt folk

5. Oro

6. Affirmation

One of the coolest things about writing the Zegema Beach Records roster series of reviews is finding out about all of the bands that are releasing new music. One such band is Sweden's Nionde Plagan, who recently released their newest record Transformation in October via Moment Of Collapse Records. I wrote about their 2015 album Frustration in May of last year and followed it up with a review of their 2017 split 10" with The World That Summer in May of this year. Nionde Plagan must have appreciated those write-ups because they contacted me directly about a month ago, which means a huge amount to me.

Nionde Plagan has always been pigeonholed amongst the screamo/post-hardcore movement of the 2010’s and onwards, but I feel that with Transformation, they’re moving beyond that. ‘Jag vill det här för oss’ begins in really beautiful fashion with gentle organ (I think) and guitar before clean vocals come in alongside subtle percussion. Just after the two-minute mark, Nionde Plagan banishes the feeling of calm with the help of dramatic, down-tempo heaviness and an off-kilter, yet still very rhythmic post-metal approach. I have to remind myself that this is still just the first song!.

After such a rousing and dramatic opener, ‘Resenär’ follows channeling a low-end that stands up against peers like The Ocean Collective while the brighter melody and screamed vocals are still very much trademark Nionde Plagan. I guess the reason for comparing this to The Ocean is because of it’s grandiosity at over twelve minutes in all. There’s definitely a more progressive side to the band’s music, albeit one that shares time with post-rock/metal influences (I guess they go hand-in-hand). The gang-chorus towards the end is utterly brilliant as well.

‘Äta sova dö (deluxe edition)’ hits top gear right from the off with a faster, louder sound that’s more rooted in hardcore and it’s glorious. I don’t know what makes it a “deluxe edition” of the song but it definitely grabs you with it’s crunching, dissonant form. Even when it retreats to an introspective mid-section, there’s still an abrasive soul in there. A soul with a heap of groove and bouncing energy. 

That bouncing energy is replaced by post-rock anxiousness on ‘Vanligt folk’ and if musical claustrophobia was really a thing, the opening bars of this song would be the definition. It doesn’t stay that way for too long though, as more rhythmic screamo takes over and breathes some life and light into the song for a time. I realise that there are different levels of heaviness in music and that this isn’t gonna rip your face off, but that’s not the point of Transformation. As the title suggests, this album is a transition to heavier and more atmospheric climbs. Time will tell but if you take it as it is this album is epic.

One thing that’s really struck me about this album is the guitar tones that Nionde Plagan employ throughout, as evidenced on penultimate song ‘Oro’, which in this case sounds quite scuzzy and distorted initially before settling down with added melody. The music on show here and throughout isn’t overly technical but is intricate and heartfelt. 

Album closer ‘Affirmation’ is apt not only in title but also because the music it contains is an affirmation of just how majestic this album is. For me, it’s the best song on Transformation. As It all comes to a close, I realise that taking my time over this review was the right thing to do. Letting this album wash over me a few times recently has made me appreciate it even more. The end of the year is fast approaching but there’s more than enough time for this record to be amongst your album-of-the-year lists. 

Transformation has been out a couple of weeks now and you can stream it, and purchase it on vinyl and/or digital formats from Nionde Plagan below:-

Nionde Plagan - https://www.facebook.com/NiondePlagan

You can also buy copies from Moment Of Collapse Records here:-

https://shop.momentofcollapse.com/products/nionde-plagan-transformation-lp / https://momentofcollapserecords.bandcamp.com/album/transformation

Moment Of Collapse Records - https://www.facebook.com/momentofcollapse

Wednesday, 9 November 2022

Skipping Stone - Hurricanes & Hand Grenades

Labels: Self-Released

Formats: CD/Digital

Release Date: 05 Aug 2022


1. Quietus

2. Sink Or Swim

3. Hurricane

4. So Far Gone

Kentucky, USA's Skipping Stone will be playing alongside Puddle Of Mudd this Friday. Say want you want about the headline band, but that's a pretty big deal. Add to that the fact that they've also played alongside Escape The Fate, I Set My Friends On Fire and have a recommended band in the form of Cold listed at the bottom of their bandcamp page, and they've clearly got something going for them. Skipping Stone released two EPs this year, starting with Monsters Of Men in March prior to Hurricanes & Hand Grenades in August. They cover a whole musical gamut from 80s Hard Rock to metalcore and are a new name to me.

I’ll be honest, I was secretly hoping that Skipping Stone wouldn’t sound like a poor example of nu-metal and thankfully they don’t. EP opener ‘Quietus’ is clean and very uptempo, with a modern alt-rock influence and catchiness. Heavy and crunching at times, with a nod towards Billy Talent too.’Sink Or Swim’ begins with the well used (WWE entrance inducing) air raid siren intro before launching into a moody metal song that reminds me of System Of Down in places. I’m sorry for all the comparisons here, it’s not me being disrespectful to the band, it’s just what I hear.

One thing’s for sure, Skipping Stone clearly have a lot of talent. ‘Hurricane’ is a proper festival sing-along anthem with just the right amount of angst. The clean vocals throughout the song and the EP in general are brilliant, as are the rest of the band. This makes me nostalgic as a lot of the music that formed my early metal listening habits came thanks to bands like Cold, Sevendust and Soil etc. I’m not for one second saying that Skipping Stone are trying to mimic those bands, but there is that same feel when listening to them.

EP closer ‘So Far Gone’ takes Hurricanes & Hand Grenades on a final mid-paced alt-rock trip and it rounds things out perfectly, showing again the quality of the band’s song-writing. You might not find this EP to be overly original style-wise, but one things for sure, it has a lot of heart and might just be what you need to reignite your passion for those forgotten gems (and for discovering new bands like Skipping Stone too!).

You can stream 'Hurricane' and purchase EP on cd, as well as digitally below:-

Skipping Stone - https://www.facebook.com/SkippingStoneOfficial

Sunday, 6 November 2022

Smile To The Wind - Illusions

Labels: Dead Tank Records/Trace In Maze/Unlock Yourself Records/Upwind Productions/Zegema Beach Records

Formats: Vinyl/Digital

Release Date: 21 Mar 2018


1. Whisper Of The Forests

2. Wormwood Grass

3. Shroud

4. Homecoming

5. Towards The Time

6. Grave Of Kings pt.I

7. Grave Of Kings pt.II

8. Grave Of Kings pt.III

9. Resin

10. Unbearably Cold And Silent

11. Where Do Ships Go To Die?

I'm moving onto the new review schedule today, after finalising it earlier this morning. Being more focused is good. In this review I'm talking about now-defunct Russian screamo band Smile To The Wind and their final release Illusions. It was released both on vinyl and digital formats back in March 2018. I last featured Smile To The Wind here when I wrote about their split with Ojne, which both Unlock Yourself Records and ZBR also helped to release.

Smile To The Wind were always a band that made their point musically without overrunning. Illusions makes that point exactly with short, succinct numbers. Album opener ‘Whisper Of The Forests’ presents their music in a melodic light, with a dramatic build up, as if it was meant to be an intro of sorts. During the closing seconds, they burst into life with fast post-hardcore/screamo that flows into ‘Wormwood Grass’. There’s a slight pause between the songs (which to me is a bit pointless) but it does no harm, as it’s over very quickly anyway, leading to a sing that’s over equally as fast.

‘Shroud’ exhibits the band’s musical abandon and their penchant for emo-violence that’s not quite emo-violence, if you know what I mean?!. The sheer pace of this album might catch you off guard slightly, as you’re flung into ‘Homecoming’ and it’s subtle stop/start passages. Smile To The Wind are more expansive on ‘Towards The Time’, which leans further towards post-metal/rock, albeit briefly.

The second half of the album starts with a trilogy. ‘Grave Of Kings pt.I’ is a technical, harsh screamo song that immediately gives way to ‘Grave Of Kings pt.II’. As with ‘pt’I’ it’s over before you can truly settle into it’s dissonant tones. ‘Grave Of Kings pt.III’ rounds out the trilogy with a retreat into a musical dynamic that’s somewhat calmer. It breaks things up but also shows how instrumentally majestic Smile To The Wind are.

‘Resin’ is a shock to the system afterwards, with it’s fast emo-violence coupled with a heart-on-your-sleeve screamo blueprint that leads instantly into penultimate song ‘Unbearably Cold And Silent’. Who would have thought that a song with a title like that would be so apt for the current climate in which we live. I say that as somebody who lives in the UK, where the government’s energy policy has been flawed for nigh on fifteen plus years and a nation that is facing possible blackouts (though that’s a worst case scenario).

The album’s final song ‘Where Do Ships Go To Die?’ is a poignant one and could quite easily reflect our personal lives in one way or another. It’s the longest song on Illusions and while it can’t be considered grandiose, it’s still rousing right up until it falls silent. Eleven songs lasting less than ten minutes or so have never sounded so good. Dare I say that Smile To The Wind went too soon. There’s still a place for them.

You can still stream and purchase Illusions directly from Smile To The Wind below:-

Smile To The Wind - https://www.facebook.com/smiletothewind

You can still get physical copies from the below labels:-

Dead Tank Records - https://deadtankrecords.com/products/smile-to-the-wind

Zegema Beach Records - CAN/INTL http://www.zegemabeachrecords.com/zegema-beach-releases/smiletothewindlp

Dead Tank Records - https://www.facebook.com/deadtankrecords

Trace In Maze - https://www.facebook.com/traceinmaze

Unlock Yourself Records - https://www.facebook.com/unlockyourselfrecords

Upwind Productions - https://www.facebook.com/upwindisdead

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