Thursday, 29 September 2016

Hexis - MMXIV. A. D. XII. KAL. DEC. Flexi Disc


Tracklist:-

1. Odium (Live)
2. Timor/Abalam (Live)

Hexis has long been a favourite of mine, especially because of their amazing live-shows. More recently they've been distilling the essence of those live-shows into flexi disc form and this is the second one that's been released, following the 2015 "MMXIV. A. D. IV. KAL. IVN." flexi that featured songs recorded at Roskilde Festival in 2014. This time the tracks are taken from a 2014 set at Morgana in Tokyo (Japan). It's been pressed onto 500 two-sided white flexi discs.

Odium featured on their split 7” with This Gift Is A Curse and here it is shortened. It’s great to hear every strand of feedback and outright energy that Hexis produces in a live environment. You still get a real sense of their blackened heaviness and the menacing melody that’s created by the guitars. The bleak intensity of the Timor/Abalam duo on the b-side is pretty astounding and makes you wish the strobe-lights were going off around your house! The final sixty second burst of Abalam hits hard and reminds you exactly why Hexis is a band with a pretty die-hard following around the world. Heaviness personified and one of the most cleansing live experiences you’re ever likely to witness. 

Stream the flexi disc here:-



You can grab a physical copy from Hexis and the labels below:-

Hexis - http://hexis.bigcartel.com
Time As A Color Records - http://timeasacolor.com/shop/product/hexis-mmxiv-a-d-xii-kal-dec-flexi-disc/
Wargame Records - http://wargame-records.blogspot.co.uk/
HC For The Losers - http://hc4lzs.blogspot.co.uk

Hexis Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/Hexisband/
The Path Less Traveled Records Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/TPLTR/
Desordre Ordonne Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/DesordreOrdonne/
Time As A Color Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/timeasacolor
Wargame Records Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/wargamerecords/
HC For The Losers Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/HardcoreForTheLosers

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Nadra - Allir Vegir til Glötunar


Tracklist:-

1. Fjallið
2. Sál
3. Falið
4. Sár
5. Fallið


The rise of Icelandic black metal in recent times has seemingly come out of nowhere. I realise that "rise" is a strong word but it does seem as though the small but passionate wave of bands hitting people's consciousness are more than serious about their craft and their country's traditions. One name that's been garnering attention is that of Nadra. A cohesive entity since 2008, Nadra only released their first full demo/ep in 2014 via homeland label Vánagandr, a partnership that has remained constant ever since. The turn of the year saw the release of debut full-length "Allir Vegir til Glötunar" on multiple formats via Vánagandr, Signal Rex and Fallen Empire Records respectively, as well as an even more recent EP. By the time you read this, they'll have completed a hometown show alongside American band Mutilation Rites. 

Straight from the off Nadra’s take on black metal sounds truly unique. The screaming lead-guitar that lights up opener Fjallið is amazing and their blasting swathes of noise are punctuated with an icy ambience. The vocals are suitably hellish too but not in a satanic way. There’s clearly a great deal of extremely talented musicianship at play here. Sál is subtly mid-paced compared to the ravaging opener. It sounds more traditional in the melody department yet retains plenty of dissonance and abject beauty. At fourteen+ minutes long, you’d think that Falið would be a slow-burning doom/death track, but it’s not. It’s predecessors pale in comparison. Keeping the momentum going is tough for many bands, but Nadra seems to do it with aplomb. There are times where Falið does indeed slow down but that does nothing to temper the atmosphere created. The melody that sits deep in the mix towards the end of the song is one of the most rewarding aspects of this album, from a listener’s point of view and it’s a testament to how good a band Nadra is. Sár traditional intro shines more light onto Nadra’s homeland, even if it’s only fleeting. What follows is far removed from the folk-movement of the country, not that it could ever be described as easy-listening! Album closer Fallið takes Nadra’s music and returns it back to it’s cold, uninhabitable beginnings. It’s truly terrifying and the screams that are bellowed one last time in their native tongue are equally so. The mid-section is peppered with choral chants and subtle strings that briefly provides some respite. The lead work that opened up “Allir Vegir Til Glötunar” returns for one last. lengthy hurrah and provides the perfect ending to a record that takes the breath away. 

You can stream and purchase a download below:-



The album is available to pre-order/order in various formats from the below labels:-

Vánagandr (Pro tape pre-orders coming soon) - http://algleymi.blogspot.co.uk/p/distro.html
Fallen Empire Records (LP) - http://store.fallenempirerecords.com
Signal Rex (cd) - http://www.signalrex.com/product-category/signal/page/2/

Nadra Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/nadraisl
Vánagandr Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/ulfsmessa
Fallen Empire Records Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/FallenEmpireRecords
Signal Rex Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/signalrec

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Northless - Cold Migration


Tracklist:-

1. The Curse Of Being
2. Col Migration
3. Conduit

I can't believe it's been four years since I last wrote about Northless! The last releases I wrote about were their split with Light Bearer and their last EP "Valley Of Lead". Time flies and since then they've given the world a full-length, a split with Primitive Man and this EP, that saw the light of day in March via Triple Eye Industries. It's due out on tape shortly too via Hand Of Death Records. Northless is definitely one of those bands that while keeping a relatively low-profile (outside of Wisconsin), manages to always pull you in with their sludge-heavy persona. 

If you’re looking for dank and claustrophobic atmosphere fraught with crushing low-end, then you’re in the right place here. Relatively short (in Northless terms) opener The Curse Of Being drives metallic guitar headfirst into piercing cymbals and rage-fuelled roars. Urgency is prevalent in the song while fear is the feeling is provokes. The title-track contains the thick and sludgy riffs that you’ve come to expect from them (and previous split fellows Primitive Man for that matter), though here Northless use clean-vocals to change the mood and take things in more of a noise/grunge-rock direction. The balance they create between the vocals and the metallic riffs makes for something both surprising and inspiring. Northless get slower as EP closer Conduit begins, but not before they’ve injected it with hints of heavy metaland even classic rock. They are subtle hints, but you can definitely here them within the melody. The music that Northless creates here takes many different forms but it’s layers come together to make something both thoughtful and memorable. It’s not often you can say that about a record with an eleven-minute plus song! 

You can stream "Cold Migration" and purchase a download below:-



You can pick up vinyl copies (on various colours) via Triple Eye Industries here - https://tripleeye.bandcamp.com/merch

Keep an eye out for the tape copies due out on September 30th via Hand Of Death Records - https://www.facebook.com/handofdeathrecords/

Northless Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/northlessmke
Triple Eye Industries Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/tripleeyeindustries

Monday, 19 September 2016

War Curse - Final Days EP


Tracklist:-

1. Dawn Patrol
2. Blue Line Of Injustice
3. Severed Crosses
4. Final Days
5. New Chemical Warfare
6. Drudge

Congratulations, you've survived Monday! What better way to get psyched up for the rest of the week than with some war-inspired US thrash metal. "Final Days" is the debut EP from Ohio's War Curse. It was originally released by the band last August (both on tape and digitally), before subsequently being released by Static Tension Records (who released it on multiple formats, including cd). Their love of heavy metal has also seen them supporting the might Metal Church over the weekend, so they have wider appeal and aren't afraid to carpet bomb any audience!

In typical thrash metal fashion, EP opener Dawn Patrol begins with the wailing sound of an air-raid siren. It’s certainly rousing and prepares you pretty well for their battery. There’s a fair amount of old-school influence in their sound, especially with the ripping solo. Hints of Death Angel and Exodus only add to the fun! I’ve often found that a lot of thrash metal be quite atonal and same-y. I don’t get that sense as War Curse rip through Blue Line Of Injustice. I don’t think the recording does them justice though, as more volume in the mix might bring them closer to their live sound, but that’s only a minor quibble from me and I’m no expert in that area! One thing that is obvious though is how catchy the songs are on “Final Days”. Severed Crosses is chock full of groove and enough full-blooded tempo to make your neck snap. The guitars that open up the title-track have a really warm and organic sound too them and as the vocals kick in, War Curse takes on the form of two of the big-four. After a brief pause, New Chemical Warfare picks up where the previous song left off. Again, the solo is brilliantly executed and they prove that they can keep a five-minute plus thrash song fresh. Punk seems to read it’s head subtly on EP closer Drudge, especially in the riffs yet as they disappear and the lead work takes over, War Curse seem even more dramatic. The double-bass is bludgeoning yet the audible vocals don’t allow them to get carried away. Thrash and heavy metal will always be the bedrock of the metal genre and no matter what you say, they’re still very much alive. War Curse prove that on “Final Days” and I’m sure there’s more to come.

Stream "Final Days" and grab it on multiple formats below:-



War Curse Website - http://www.warcursemetal.com
War Curse Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/warcursemetal
Static Tension Recordings Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/StaticTensionRecordings

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Massacres - Brutus EP


Tracklist:-

1. One Of The Boys
2. Death Knell
3. Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal
4. To The Victor, The Spoils

I'm planning another shot at PR, as I want to use my creative writing skills and further my support for the music and bands that I love. I'm hoping to kick things off shortly and I'll put updates on here as and when things start to happen. In the meantime though, it's business as usual. 

London based hardcore/punk band Massacres reached out to me a little while ago and shared their debut EP "Brutus". This four-piece only formed last year and their first single Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal caught the attention of radio folk and press alike in October. "Brutus" was released in February and subsequently led to an appearance on Metal Hammer's "New Noise" cover mount CD as well as live dates in the capital.

As  soon as EP opener One Of The Boys kicks in, Massacres sound festival ready. I can easily see them on stage at Download or Leeds/Reading. Their sound is loud but danceable and catchy, with elements of rock n roll and hardcore nestled together. Their chosen approach is popular at the moment with the printed music press and that attention is actually fully deserved here. Death Knell has good old British swagger going on, despite the obvious comparisons to bands like Cancer Bats and The Bronx.  Original single Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal is the heaviest song on “Brutus”. It also highlights the song-writing skills of four-peice, as they're all about songs that are to-the-point. EP closer To The Victor, The Spoils mixes melody with stoner-like groove and even metal. The variation is very effective and it brings the punchy production to life even more. “Brutus” is huge and if Massacres can get themselves in front of more faces around the UK, I can see them growing at a fast rate. Brilliant stuff indeed.

You can stream "Brutus" and purchase it digitally below (as well as from all the usual outlets):-Ma



Massacres Website - http://www.massacresband.com
Massacres Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/massacresband/

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Beastmaker - You Must Sin EP


Tracklist:-

1. Clouds In The Sky
2. You Must Sin
3. Heathens
4. Eyes Are Watching
5. Astral Corpse

We all know that Sweden and the UK does a good job when it comes to producing retro-sounding doom and stoner bands, but the US is catching up and Beastmaker are here to prove that exact point. This Californian trio has been kicking out the riffs since 2014. They released two demos a year later and came to the attention of the venerable Rise Above Records, with whom they released their second demo "You Must Sin" as a full EP and thus opening them up to a whole new audience. They've released their debut album this year, but I'm starting at the beginning. They've also been touring around the US recently, so if you've seen them then lucky you, I'm jealous.

The spirit of many a stoner/doom great lives on in Beastmaker. Clouds In The Sky sounds as though somebody cryogenically froze Kyuss and John Garcia and brought them back to live for the making of this EP. Plenty of desert rock and menacing gloom thanks to the low riffs. The title-track is pretty trippy thanks to a great delivery. The main riffs is repeated throughout the song and the vocal effects prove why they’ve been tagged as psychedelic. The guitar harmonies and solo during Heathens break up the hypnotic verses. Beastmaker seems to have hit the right formula with their song-writing as they’re long enough to be memorable but not too much. Eyes Are Watching will draw inevitable comparisons but it stands on it’s own and snakes it’s way through just over four-and-a-half minutes of glorious groove. Closing song Astral Corpse proves beyond all doubt why Lee Dorian and Rise Above Records signed Beastmaker. They do what they love and don’t try to hide it. Their first steps into wider consciousness are good ones and with the backing of a label with pedigree, they’ll only get stronger. 

You can stream "You Must Sin" below:-



It looks as though the 7" version of the EP is sold out via Rise Above Records now (feel free to correct me if you can find it on sale through them).

Beastmaker Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/Beastmaker/
Rise Above Records Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/riseaboverecords

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Guardian - Revolution


Tracklist:-

1. Resolution
2. Revolution
3. Politics
4. Innovate
5. Capitalism
6. Deliverance
7. Catharsis
8. Propaganda
9. Hope
10. Nomadic
11. Ambivalence
12. Restoration

Northumberland isn't the sort of place you'd expect an up-and-coming modern metal band to reside, but Guardian dispel that idea right away. After releasing their debut EP in 2014 and appearing on Rock Sound Magazine's cover mount CD, they toured Europe with Mexican metallers Frozen Remains. They put that live experience to good use when they returned to write their debut full-length, which was self-released earlier this year.

I think modern British metal has lost it’s way slightly recently, due to the proliferation of melodic hardcore bands and the like. I’m not saying that I don’t like those bands but a bit more variation amongst young bands is a good thing. After rousing instrumental intro Resolution, Guardian explodes into the title-track which is a mix of metalcore and thrash. They seem to take influences from a number of bands and they’ve created a heavy sound as a result, with some electronic effects here and there. Thankfully it’s not full of Meshuggah-isms and the vocals are very strong. Politics is like and old-school death metal song and while it’s been touched up with modern production, it still means business. Their songs are clearly written for maximum impact and Innovate is huge. The percussion and the guitars create the perfect brutal backdrop for those blood-curdling roars. It’s all about maximum attack with Guardian!. If you shut your eyes for a minute, Guardian could be the epitome of modern Swe-death on Capitalism, but with added hardcore. They don’t rest in between songs either and as soon as Capitalism ends, Deliverance rips your a new one. Even when they throw in an atmospheric mid-section, it does nothing to temper their energy and momentum. Catharsis seems to be the definition (of the word) in musical form, as it’s breakdowns smash you repeatedly. They switch back to a more straight-forward metal blueprint on Propaganda and to be honest, this is when they are at their best in my opinion. Hope starts off with the simplest but best lead riffs and then replaces them with atonal bludgeoning. Thankfully as the songs kicks in properly, the lead melody is back and so is Guardian’s signature sound. They still remind me of Soilwork in parts, which is no bad comparison. Those pesky electronic effects are back during Nomadic, but they’re only used sparingly. The song itself is off-kilter and it sounds totally alive! When modern bands play with this level of assurance, they’re a joy to listen to. They are anything but ambivalent on Ambivalence (sorry!). They just do what they know and that’s what’s so refreshing about Revolution as a debut album. Guardian aren’t trying to re-invent the wheel, they know their strengths and they write bloody good metal to boot. Ending it all with gang-chants and high-octane thrash on Restoration means that this record will be deeply embedded in your brain for weeks to come. Not quite saviours of British metal yet, but they will be in the future. Top stuff!

You can stream the album and purchase it digitally below:-



Keep an eye out for future news and live dates via their Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/GuardianUKNEMC/

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Big Machine - Bigger Machine


Tracklist:-

1. Fangdy
2. Love Will Find A Way
3. Introwidows
4. Mutual
5. Steve Brooks
6. Wcolt
7. Quiet!

Goddamn! I've been sifting through my inbox today trying to get a bit more organised and I am pretty taken aback by the sheer amount of awesomeness I still have to catch up on. The plan between now and the end of the year is to try and put the hammer down. To get me through both that (and the endless neck ache I seem to have), I'll be consuming more coffee. This seemingly random start to today's proceedings is actually quite apt when you see that I'm writing about Big Machine's new record. 

Just released as a pay-what-you-want/free download (physical copies to follow) and hot of the heels of their 2015 self-titled 7" and recent split with Endamori, the loud Manchester duo of Nick and Sacha are doing what they do best. They're playing some gigs with Pijn (ex-Old Skin) next week and are still looking to fill a couple of dates.

Days of rest are meant to be spent listening to music, no matter how loud it is. Big Machine gathers together the energy of noisy hardcore and snotty punk in blink-and-you’ll-miss-it fashion on album opener Fangdy. Love Will Find A Way takes from their previous bands and is equal parts heavy and danceable. Alongside the likes of Sky:Lark! and many other bands on SuperFi Records, they occupy the weirder and more inventive side of UK noisy punk. Introwidows carries a snarling sludgy undertone while challenging the norms. The clean vocals on Mutual are a surprise but completely awesome as well, bringing a sense of accessibility to the album. I’m not sure who Steve Brooks is but he’s inspired a song anyway and it bounces all over the place. There’s also a chorus/mid-section that sounds a bit Deftones-y. Wcolt is named after the much missed Liverpudlian screamo band that became Dawn Ray’d (possibly?) and it’s the heaviest song on here. Ending the record with a song titled Quiet! is a bit of an oxymoron for Big Machine. It’s slower paced and the low-end fights with the soaring clean singing, before harsh roars replace them. It's pretty much everything Big Machine does rolled into one and you don’t know where it’s going next. It’s a bit like the album really. Bigger Machine will see a physical release soon and not before time. It’s over all too quickly but is worth playing over and over again. 

Stream and download it here:-



Keep an eye out for news of CDs (and perhaps LPs) via Big Machine's Facebook page -
https://www.facebook.com/bigmacband

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Mare Cognitum - Luminiferous Aether


Tracklist:-

1. Heliacal Rising
2. The First Point Of Aries
3. Constellation Hipparchia
4. Occultated Temporal Dimensions
5. Aether Wind

Black metal's close relationship with cosmic subject matter and anti-human sentiment has been widely written about over the years. It bares less resemblance to the satanic school and the bands that focus on it are more content with isolation and personal freedom. That is definitely the case with solo US band Mare Cognitum. Luminiferous Aether is Mare Cognitum's fourth full-length in five years and it sees the light of day via I, Voidhanger Records on September 16. Over the next few week I'll be on a voyage to discover all manner of weird and wonderful extremities but for now, I'll try my best to  adequately write about this record. 

Chilling wind-like noise and majestic swathes of guitar melody introduces Luminiferous Aether perfectly. Opener Heliacal Rising is dominated more by it’s instrumentation that it’s vocals, which are enveloped by layers of percussion and guitars. Mare Cognitum favours progression and control, not willing to compromise on quality by ignoring the tried and the tested. It’s a noble vision brought to life in aural and physical form. After what might seem like a restrained opener, The First Point Of Aries is a lot heavier with plenty of blasts and driving guitars. It’s a bit of a wake up and it does take time to tune into it’s many subtleties and layers. I’ve not heard a solo band like this with such engaging and warm lead work before. The band’s orchestral brilliance returns on Constellation Hipparchia, which really does conjure up images of the black vastness of our universe beyond the stars. A mixture of that melodic orchestration and the ravaging percussion paints a very stark image. If you’ve listened to Mare Cognitum’s music before, you’ll know that the songs are never short players. The longer song lengths allow the music to breathe. Ambient soundscapes are prevalent throughout the record as well. Occultated Temporal Dimensions certainly has an otherworldly feel to it as the riffs kick in. It’s the second song to break the ten-minute mark and it once again highlights Mare Cognitum’s progressive tendencies. The wall of noise is intentionally mind-blowing and the song is really catchy. There’s no harm in showing ambition is there?. Luminiferous Aether ends in majestic fashion with Aether Wind. Hints of modern metal creep into the sound and the off-kilter moments threaten to throw you off course, as the rhythms are hard to pick out at times. What is consistent about it though is the urgency and pace of the percussion. There seems to be an awful lot going on within the song and it rounds out a hugely imaginative and inspiring album. This could well be the black metal record of the year and the one that (perhaps) thrusts Mare Cognitum out of obscurity. 

You can stream Luminiferous Aether via Mare Cognitum's bandcamp page below (where it's also available for purchase digitally) :-



CD pre-orders are available now via I, Voidhanger Records - http://i-voidhanger.com/product/mare-cognitum-luminiferous-aether-cd/. A vinyl version will be released later on via Fallen Empire Records too.

Mare Cognitum Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/MareCognitumMusic/
I, Voidhanger Records Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/i.voidhanger.records/
Fallen Empire Records Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/FallenEmpireRecords

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Trembling Hands/Duct Hearts/Careless/Coma Regalia/Human Hands - Divided By Water 2x7"


Tracklist:-

1 Trembling Hands - Rewind And Repeat
2. Duct Hearts - I'm A Cat Person
3. Careless - Evidence For Recent Flows
4. Coma Regalia - I Am Not A Boat and You Are No Captain
5. Human Hands - Moon

German label Time As A Color has a habit of putting out some great multi-band vinyl. You only have to look back to the label's "Leave Nothing But Footprints, Take Nothing But Photographs" 7" series from 2013. Daniel has always been imaginative and has shown a real desire to be different with his releases. This latest double 7" is no different. Featuring five bands, pressed on black wax and housed in a glorious card sleeve and obi-like strip, "Divided By Water" brings together screamo/hardcore bands from Sweden (Trembling Hands, Careless),  Germany (Duct Hearts), USA (Coma Regalia) and the United Kingdom (Human Hands). It was released earlier this year, limited to 423 copies on black and 109 dark blue/light blue marble copies (of which 69 copies were made available through the label). 

This is a great little package and having one song per band across both 7”s makes it feel a bit like comp, so even if you haven’t heard all of the bands you’ll discover something else you like. Trembling Hands are a new band for me (illustrating my last point) and their song Rewind And Repeat provides a great balance of melody and controlled violence. They definitely sound more hardcore than I was expecting, but when they settle down their music is pretty spectacular (not that their louder stuff isn’t!). Duct Hearts follow on with an equally heavy hitting effort. I’m A Cat Person has a really cool grunge-vibe going on initially and the clean singing works great with driving guitars. Like Trembling Hands before them, Duct Hearts also make use of introspective passages to accentuate their song-writing and performance. Careless (the second band on the split that is new to me) comes at it from an off-kilter angle on Evidence For Recent Flows, with hints of emo-violence and a whole heap of semi-spoken screamo. Damn this is good! US duo Coma Regalia defies anyone who says that two-piece bands can’t throw out enough volume. I Am Not A Boat And You Are No Captain is wickedly catchy in the riff-department and is real heart-on-your-sleeve stuff. The song is more urgent and shorter but that only grabs you more. Human Hands close out with Moon, which is surprisingly restrained when put up against the previous tracks on here. Some may find it as a welcome relief while others may be willing it to explode. It doesn’t but it’s the perfect way to finish the split. It may be short and sweet but when it has this much impact, who really cares. You won’t just find one band you like here, you’ll find five. Best split/comp this year. 

You can stream "Divided By Water" here:-



Physical copies are available via Time As A Color here - http://timeasacolor.com/shop/product/divided-by-water-2x7

Time As A Color Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/timeasacolor
Trembling Hands Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/trmblnghnds
Duct Hearts Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/ducthearts
Careless Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/careless08
Coma Regalia Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/comaregalia
Human Hands Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/Human-Hands

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