Thursday 30 August 2012

xBrainiax - Deprogrammed

Ok so I saved the beast till last. This is the last of the To Live A Lie Records releases I've had to review. This is the latest record from Michigan fastcore band xBrainiax. This was originally released on CD in 2010, but saw a vinyl release in late 2011 and features a huge thirty tracks of crazed grind.


1. The True Religion of Broken Necks
2. Vigilante
3. Faith Mask
4. No Love Lost
5. Kids Say The Darnedest Things
6. Acrid
7. Baptism In Glass
8. Desert Power
9. Altered
10. Decaf
11. Candidate For A New Faith
12. We Are The Monster
13. Sirens
14. Blatant Localism
15. Rosary Noose
16. Solanum
17. Good To The Last Drop
18. Secede
19. The Audacity of Hope
20. Fuck The Swindlers
21. Clandestine Operation
22. Our Thing
23. This Is...
24. Moral Vacancy
25. Kralizec
26. Trichinosis I
27. Trichinosis II
28. Trichinosis III
29. Friend Request Denied
30. Eroding
31. Deprogrammed

The opener on Deprogrammed starts with ringing feedback that seems to go on forever, but lays the foundation for one of xBrainiax's longer tracks, weighing it at almost two and a half minutes. Most of the songs here are below the thirty-second mark and this one has a great hardcore vibe to it. There are some subtle riffs in here that could be compared to Slayer, loosely and the vocals are very caustic. The next few songs, including Vigilante, Faith Mask, No Live Lost and Kids Say The Darnedest things, see xBrainiax playing fast! With some clever riffs and screams that become more audible, it's a good listen. The drums and bass are also noticeable thanks to the decent production.

This is pretty chaotic stuff, but then it's kind of expected with an album that last twenty seven minutes, but has this many songs on it. I have to admit; I like the fact that the band can weave plenty of pace changes into their racket, as it shows off their awareness and musical skill really well. A lot of it flashes passed in the blink of an eye though. Before you know it your a third of the way through with barely enough time to get a sore neck. That sludge influence makes itself present again at the start of Decaf and carries through the song. My speakers are struggling to take the low end of this record, as it sounds crushing at certain points.

At the start of Sirens you get a hint of thrash, which is a surprise. I can't write about each song, well not all thirty one anyway. Rosary Noose features some great drum and bass work at the start, before a slow, grinding verse kicks in. Again, for a band badged as a fastcore band, they throw in plenty of slow paced sections and sound pretty effective that way, unless that's what fastcore has become and I've been living under a rock for the past 6 years! They do however, switch back up a gear for Solanum. I think the thing that works so well about Deprogrammed is that, xBrainiax play songs that don't outstay their welcome, with enough variation and texture to keep music fans from all angles, happy. You've got grind for the speed freaks, hardcore for the tough-guys and sludge for the stoners. It's pretty hard to categorise to be honest, even though it seems like I've tried.

Standout tracks in the final third of the record include Our Thing, with it's chunky riffs and crazed vocals. Their singer's vocal performance seems to take a turn during Moral Vacancy, with him sounding more possessed with each word. The three parts to Trichinosis really are just one long song. The order goes fast, slow fast, in short twenty - thirty second bursts. Friend Request Denied is certainly a song title, inspired by the proliferation of social media. Scathing in every way.

Album closer and title track, Deprogrammed is the song that xBrainiax have hinted at throughout the record. It's slow building, like all the best sludge records but always feels like it could explode at any moment. Now, I'm gonna stick my neck out in a huge way and say that this is my standout song of the whole record. I just think it's a great way to end what has been a pretty breathtaking record. The slow groove of the riffs and the crash of the cymbals, pitch it perfectly alongside the vocals, which take a new for against this backdrop. You can't help but drift off throughout the whole eleven and half minutes. This song just seems to get heavier and heavier with each turn, from the very brief mid-paced groove sections, to the ultra slow winding noise, it's ace!

Well, I'm stunned (sitting here, picking my jaw up off the floor). With the closing bars of Deprogrammed I'm wondering what the hell just happened. I can't really say much more than, this record is awesome!

Lucky for you, To Live A Lie are streaming this entire record on Bandcamp. Have a listen below:-

If you want to grab a physical copy of the record, especially a vinyl copy that comes with a download code, go to

Also, xBrainiax themselves, don't have an up-to date online presence, so your best bet would be to visit their Last Fm page at

Monday 27 August 2012

Protestant - Reclamation

This record dropped into my inbox the other day and I let out a yelp of excitement! It's a record that along with others I've received recently, has made me re-find my enthusiasm and appreciation for heavy music. That's not to say that I've been bored recently, but I've felt my enthusiasm waning slightly. The next few reviews should got someway to reigniting the fan in me.

Anyway, enough about me. For those living under a rock, Protestant are an awesome hardcore band from Milwaukee, USA. They've been going since 2004 and have released a number of LP's, EP's and splits throughout that time. This is their latest record, which is being releases through Halo Of Flies (USA) and Chaos Rurale (Canada) and will be out around the 21st of September.


1. Home
2. Jan Palach
3. Reclamation
4. Unbecoming
5. Salad Days

On Reclamation, Protestant have a punked-up hardcore sound. Fast and purposeful, with a rough and ready production that brings the emotion in their performance. Home is a perfect introduction on this record, with the main core of the song being heavy and fast, but with a building, introspective mid-passage that leads into some awesome, slow sludgy riffs, they’re able throw in the best of everything, Where most bands tend to go for maximum impact and brutality in this type of hardcore, Protestant are more measured and their musicianship helps them to craft songs with plenty of twists and turns.

Jan Palach is a sub-3 minute blast, with semi-melodic guitar and driving drums, which are slightly buried in the mix, still plough forth when the treble takes a rest. This is still chaotic and noisy at times, but subtle melody that Protestant weaves in through their guitars, make it a great listen.

The title track follows in much the same vein, with their punk influences poking through once more. The song starts with an extended instrumental march before the verse kicks in proper. There's the odd off-kilter rhythm placed in the song and again, the slower sections bring a claustrophobic element to their music. The driving groove that's present on the second half of the song helps draw you in, leaving you in a trance induced by the power and skill on show. I don't know if I'm doing this record justice. You can make your own mind up!

Unbecoming builds with bass and subtly plucked guitar, as the cymbals help the volume rise and as it all merges; you get a wall of noise that's actually pretty euphoric.
The song continues at a steady pace, which is pretty effective, as Protestant seem to favour a slower pace here. Sometimes, the slower more thoughtful songs just sound heavier.

Final salvo, Salad Days is a rip-roaring end to the record. It sees Protestant heading back in a more urgent direction. The melody is still there, along with those angered screams. The percussion levels all in its path and the wall of sound from the guitars/bass brings back the claustrophobic feeling from earlier on. There's some time to breath, thanks to the mid-passage but no sooner has it started, it ends and you're faced with that barrier of decibels again. All I can say is, I'm glad I live in a detached house; otherwise the sound would be reverberating throughout the whole block right now!

As the guitar dies down, it ends leaving you to reflect on a record, which, while short in length, is long in ideas and quality. If you’re already familiar with Protestant, you know your getting an ace record and if you’re not familiar with them, you should be!

Visit Halo Of Flies at and Chaos Rurale at for pre-orders for this record, as they are up now.

Protestant will have copies when they're on tour in September, so if you can get out to a show, pick one up. News on Reclamation and the tour can be found on Protestant's website at and on Facebook at

Saturday 25 August 2012

Graf Orlock - Los Angeles 7"

I'm gonna guess that most people who read this, have a fair idea who Graf Orlock are. Basically, they formed in 2003 and play cinema inspired grind-core. They've become more and more revered within the scene over the last few years and as a knee jerk reaction to trendiness, they're doing pretty well.

This is the latest 7" from this LA four-piece, which released in April and features four blasts of experimental grind.


1. Dead Man Talking
2. No Attachments
3. Couples Seeking Comfort/No Point
4. Quick On The Trigger

Graf Orlock always use film samples on their records, usually at the start of songs and this record in no exception. They kick off with Dead Man Talking, which is a hardcore inspired racket, full of chunky riffs and cathartic screams. There's plenty going on throughout, with the band favouring rabid noise for the last 30 seconds, which is where their grind tag comes in. Speedy as hell drumming underpins an assured start.

No Attachments is a lot more chaotic than the record's opener. It's more in line with the fast-grind that we've come to expect from the Graf. That doesn't mean they don't alter the pace at all, as they take the chance to throw in some tempo-changes and impressive slow, dirge style riffs that emphasise the faster parts and sets a formidable atmosphere.

Couples Seeking Comfort/No Point is ferocious. Once the intro sample ends that the band kick into gear, you get an all out aural attack of dual vocals, thrashing drums and crushing guitar, which shakes your foundations. It's worth mentioning the production too, which is clear and sets them apart from their peers. It makes the music sound huge and because the vocals are audible, it makes this short release sound more encompassing.

Final blast, Quick On The Trigger is a song that seems to feature everything that Graf Orlock are about. It's got some punk sensibilities nestling amongst the anger. It's got the slow, doomy passages and their fast grind sound underpinning it. The surprise here is the introspective passage that sees them using riffs that sound very familiar. I can't remember what song they sound like, but it's been on TV recently.

The sampled use of machine gun fire brings an unhinged sense of joy, as the song just dies away to leave just crashes and bangs, which sounds as though Graf Orlock are destroying their recording space! Overall, you may know what to expect from Graf Orlock, but it doesn't stop you from leaving with a huge grin on your face. This is another creative 7" that leaves you with a taste for more. It also makes you want to watch action movies because you can!

This 7" has been put out by Vitriol Records and it's available for streaming via their bandcamp page below:-

The EP is available to purchase directly from the page, either in digital or physical form. You can also go to Vitriol Records' website at  to find out where else you can get in from and to keep updated with what else Graf Orlock are up to.

Friday 24 August 2012

Strangers In Paradise - The Story EP

These guys are a three piece, alt-rock band from my home town of Harrogate. They've been together since February this year,and this is their debut release. The members came from previous local bands.  With their debut EP, they've gone in an interesting, experimental direction.

In their short time together, they've notched up gigs and The Cavern in Liverpool and have managed to wow crowds with their originality. The boys gave me a chance to review the EP, which includes a guest appearance from local rapper, Tre. Strangers In Paradise are Steve Mosby on Vocals/Guitar, Andy Mosby on Bass Guitar and David Williams on Drums.


1. Dr Stress Pt.1
2. Something To Look Through (Featuring Tre)
3. Crosswire
4. Dr Stress Pt.2 (Featuring Tre)
5. Hidden

Dr Stress Pt.1 is very much an intro track, with gently plucked guitar and bass that builds quite an atmosphere. Something To Look Through is SIP's first full foray and it starts with proto-indie riffs and moody vocal melodies that give way to the rapping of guest, Tre.  Straightaway, it takes you aback, as there aren’t many bands currently playing music like this that are brave enough to collaborate on this scale. The production is clean and clear, helping to bring out the best in SIP's sound and as the mid section heralds an introspective section that sound lime something the Beatles would've written, you realise that these guys mean business. Swirls of guitar infiltrate this section and SIP move back into a melodic passage, that fades out and leads you too Crosswire.

Crosswire has a real feel-good vibe to it thanks to the guitar melody. The vocals again have a moody, bluesy twang and the band rely on chunkier riffs to emphasise the chorus. It's a mid-paced song, but with the use of cleverly placed electronic effects and a Muse inspired guitar passage, it keeps you guessing. Overall, it's pretty chilled out stuff. The end of the song however, shows the band in full, progressive mode, with a pretty hair-raising final guitar section. You get wailing guitar on Dr Stress Pt.2, which might be a hint to the bands influences and with the rap of Tre running over the top, it's an original and enthralling sound.

Final track Hidden is another chilled out affair, with subtle drumming and melodic guitar. It gives way to a full-on chorus with some great musical flair. Strangers in Paradise haven't gone for volume here, they leave that for their live shows. Talking of their live shows, I've seen them twice now and each time I've been flawed by the volume they hit and though this is a departure from what I normally review, I can see a lot of element hear that will see them sit comfortably next to other bands I've featured.

If you like music with substance, skill and experimentation at it's heart (and let's face it, if your reading this here, you will do), you should be listening out for these guys as they are going to make waves.

To see what I mean, you can listen to The Story below, via the band's Bandcamp page:-

Currently, the EP is only available digitally, so if you like it you can pick it up from the above Bandcamp page for £3.50.

Strangers In Paradise are on Facebook at and you can seek out Tre at

Mehkago N.T. - Massive Fucking Headwounds

After my recent enforced break, due to work commitments, I thought it was only fair to kick things off with a grind album. This is my penultimate To Live A Lie Records review and features Floridian band Mehkago N.T.

These guys started raging in 2006 and features members of notable grind band Shitstorm and hardcore band Hardware Youth. This LP was released in July 2011.

Tracklist -

1. Body Snatchers
2. Left To Rot
3. Void
4. Strictly Stock
5. The Family International
6. Walking Target
7. Crustfund Youth
8. A Deguello
9. Tremenda Cagason
10. Greyman

As the LP title suggests, this record will create a massive fucking headwound, due to the awesome hardcore/grind racket that Mehkago N.T. make. After a short sampled intro, Body Snatchers; comes and go's like speeding bullet, with angry vocals, fast guitars and even faster drumming. Left to Rot gives your more to bang your head to. The music is heavy and downtuned, but with a more hardcore influence, it seems to last longer than your usual grind song. Definitely worth it!

It was probably unfair if me to badge Mehkago N.T. as a grind band, as when Void kicks in with chuggier riffs and a grooving drum rhythm, their music seems un-categorisable. They do still pound hammer blow after hammer blow of subtle fastcore, but this is used sparingly so you don't get tired from circle pitting a hole into your floor!

I personally prefer the slower more throughout approach to heavy music, and the doom influences on show that there is still immense crossover within extreme metal. Strictly stock is a perfect example of this. The Family International is one of the pacier tracks these guys put out, and it's over all too quickly. The production of the record makes it sound like there are about ten drum kits being played at once. Then again that may just be my hearing after an earphone related mishap earlier in the week.

The vocals at the start of Walking Target hint at death metal, before Mehkago N.T. launch back into their hardcore infused thrash attack. The guitars are competing with the drums and vocals through the record, but when all together it's a ferocious joy to behold. Crustfund Youth is a sub two-minute smash to the goolies. The kind that hurts for days! The sound of the snare and the cymbals keeping pace, keeps you head wind milling (which is hard for me, as I have short hair so I just look like an idiot).

A Deguello sounds huge. The opening riffs herald in a mid-paced hardcore track full of expletives and anger, just as it should be. It strangely reminds me of that collab between Anthrax and Public Enemy, at least before the gang vocals and fastcore kick in. Tremenda Cagason starts where A Deguello left off, at a similar pace and an urgency that segues into another mid-paced section. I really like the effect that Mehkago N.T. have gone for as it's very at odds with what I was expecting. Even though the songs are all sub-two minute, there's plenty of variation and ideas throughout, making Massive Fucking Headwounds a really enjoyable listen.

It's not over quite yet though! Greyman is their last surface to air missile and it features some absolutely insane noise that rounds out the album in chaotic, bewildering fashion. As I've said above, this album surprised me a lot. I try and approach albums with an open mind, but when things are thrust at you it can be easier to make snap judgements. Thankfully though this album grabs those judgements and smashes them to a pulp. It reminds me why I do this and why I love heavy music. Thanks guys!

To Live A Lie Records have been cool enough to post this entire album for streaming on their bandcamp page. Listen to it below:-

Head over to To Live A Lie Records at to find out where you can pick this up from and also drop by Mehkago N.T.'s own Facebook page at to say hi.

Monday 13 August 2012

Thunderkraft - Totentanz

Adding to the massive raft of bands from Eastern Europe, comes self-proclaimed "Industrial Folk Death Metal" band Thunderkraft, from the Ukraine. Totentanz was released in March 2012 by Svarga Music. The first thing that impressed me, was the great artwork on the album cover and while reading up on them, I found out that their lyrics have been written in Ukrainian, Russian and German, none of which I understand. Still I'm looking forward to hearing the 9 tracks on offer here.


1. A Time Will Come 
2. Mass Defect
3. Dance Of The Dead
4. Death Won´t Separate Us
5. The Future World
6. A Crumpled Story
7. Where The Dream Flows...
8. Towards A New Dawn
9. The Creator Of Life  

Totentanz starts with a battlecry in the form of opening song A Time Will Come.
Orchestral and brass instruments bash shoulders with heave metal and deathly screams. What's impressive is that only four people play this hellish symphony. First impressions are really good, as Thunderkraft sound very melodic in their approach, which adds to the atmosphere they try to create. This mixed with the brutal black/death metal makes it very approachable.

Mass Defect begins with some cool industrial electronics and the flute solo amongst the death metal, is a really authentic touch and one that strangely doesn't sound out of place. This song is shorter in length than the opener and because of that, sounds punchier and more instant. That two different schools of thought are at play hear, the modern electronic influences alongside the folk music and foreign language lyrics make this record a complete breath of fresh air. The twists and turns and ideas keep you guessing. Just listen to Dance Of The Dead to see what I mean! The solo two thirds of the way through this song is a screaming joy to behold.

Death Won't Separate Us is a beautiful, mid-paced folk-song with spoken word vocals. Even when the guitars and drums do kick in, they are buried slightly behind the other instruments and the effect is brilliant. The tuneful guitar solo just accentuates how good the song writing is in this song and how good Thunderkraft are as creative musicians. Things get back to normal on The Future World, whatever normal is! The guitars are more crunching here and the heavy side of Thunderkraft is allowed to shine through a bit more. It seems that as they get further into Totentanz, they let their experimentation become more prevalent and they rely less on crushing death and more on creating well-written, metal songs with a difference.

A Crumpled Story take you passed the mid-way point of Totentanz with a more off-kilter texture too it. The woodwind is more prevalent here and amongst the industrial electronics, is allowed to breathe. They use some pretty cool guitar effect towards the end and the haunting electronic blips make it even more bewildering. This song features Thunderkraft's most grandiose song title - Where The Dream Flows As Moisture From Eyelashes, but is actually their shortest track and one of the heaviest when they're in full flow. There’s still more varied effects here too, so the sound definitely does not get boring.

Towards A New Dawn is predominantly an instrumental track, but vocals do kick in mid-way through, but they're audible and more spoken-word in delivery, so don't overpower the flow of the song itself. This leads you onto the last song, The Creator Of Life. It's their lengthiest song, at just less than 9 minutes and is actually one of their heaviest songs.

The black/death growls are used to greater effect here, as if to say "we've been giving you an easy ride until now"! The guitar melodies though are a brilliant touch. It is an absolutely epic way to end what has been an album of surprises from start to finish. It completely blew me away!

You can hear closing song, The Creator of Life at Svarga Music's soundcloud side at You can also find out more and pick up the record from Svarga Music at

You can also visit Thunderkraft on Facebook at

Sunday 12 August 2012

Encompass - A Grief Observed

Encompass are a hardcore band from Kingston, Massachusetts. They released this five track EP in February 2012. These guys are part a really vibrant melodic hardcore across the pond at the moment, so I was pretty excited to hear this EP after featuring fellow Mass band, Paul Allen's Demise a while back on this blog.

Tracklist -

1. Intro
2. Between Then & Now
3. Conflict: Resolve
4. Shallow Grave
5. Silhouette of a City

The Intro is a bass heavy beast that makes way to a gang-vocal filled call to arms.
First song proper, Between Then & Now filled with brutal hardcore vocals and thrashing drums. The guitars here sit quite deep in the mix, until they're allowed to breath on their own. Encompass don't rely to heavily on breakdowns and a lot of their riffs are very much thrash inspired, but with some great melodic moments too. The song takes a brutal turn though, with about a minute to go and pummels you with a bludgeoning and well place breakdown section.

Conflict: Resolve starts with a great melodic guitar intro, which belies the bands sound. It's a heartfelt display from the band, but is mixed with a tangible amount of rage that builds a sinister atmosphere. Shallow Grave is a more metal song, with a symphonic intro and more thrash inspired riffs. Thanks to the raw, live production the music sounds ace, especially the main chugging riff that drives this song on. The pinch harmonics show flair and the occasional guitar harmonies work really well. Again, the drumming holds it all together and provides a great texture amongst the screams.

Silhouette of A City is the final brutal smash to the face, with a crazed breakdown starting proceedings, before a fast-paced hardcore attack swings into view. There are some very subtle screamo influences at play here, but these are quickly swallowed by the brilliant melodic guitar in the background, that brings to mind some of metalcore's greats, like Killswitch Engage and Unearth. The EP ends the way it started, with more rallying gang-vocals and raspy, cathartic screams.

This is an assured EP by a band who are clearly going places. It's tough to compete in their genre, especially in America, but I'm sure that these guys will come good.

Encompass have this EP up for streaming and free download via their bandcamp page below:-

You can also check them out on Facebook at

Saturday 11 August 2012

Osk - Wretched Existence // Bleak Future : 2007-2010

This is my third To Live A Lie release review. This time featuring Canadian grind band Osk and their latest CD, that pulls together a collection of songs from previous splits with the likes of Scumbelly, Roskopp, Warhero and The Afternoon Gentleman. It also contains some tracks that were on other compilations, as well as some previously unreleased tracks. There's 22 quick fire grind tracks in all. Check below for the list and what releases they come from.

Tracks 1-5 (From the split with Scumbelly)
1. E.V.P.V.        
2. Empty White Box        
3. Space Snakes        
4. Giving Up        
5. Endless Repent
Tracks 6-9 (From the split with Roskopp)       
6. Knowingly Ignorant        
7. Arm Yourself        
8. Beyond Control        
9. Heavy Metal T Shirts
Tracks 10 - 13 (From the split with Warhero)       
10. It All Means Nothing Now        
11. Assume        
12. No Dice        
13. Blank Page
Tracks 14 - 16 (From the split with The Afternoon Gentleman)       
14. Stranded At Sea        
15. Mouth Pollution        
16. Walking Asleep
Tracks 17 - 20 (Previously unreleased tracks)      
17. Lie Through Your Teeth        
18. Big Drinker        
19. Ridged Thought        
20. Creeper
Tracks 21 - 22 (From the Intellect and CYCL 2 Comps)      
21. Earwig Master        
22. Gobs From Reno

I'm going to attack these in stages, starting with tracks 1-5. The split with Scumbelly was releases in 2008 and the first five tracks were Osk's contribution to it from the B-side.

All tracks here are full on, quick blasts of grind that are over before they've begun.
E.V.P.V is a sub 20-second kick in the face. Empty White Box features absolutely insane drumming and pretty awesome riffs buried amongst the production, which is good. Space Snakes is 15 seconds of madness, which features some meaty riffs and those vocals are face shredding. Good luck trying to make out the lyrics, as they fly by too quickly. Giving Up is a good example of this. Endless Repent is the last song of this group and is also the longest at over a minute. Halfway through, the speed gets brought to a near halt, as an awesome sludgy section is played out, showing that Osk can switch the mood and it's a great slab of angry hardcore.

Tracks 6-9 are from their split with Roskopp, which was released in 2009. Again Osk take of the B-side of this 7".

First song Knowingly Ignorant is just pure chaos from start to finish, but it seems to last longer than it's 45 second running time, thanks to a slower mid-passage. Arm yourself shows a return of Osk's sludgier side, with a more mid-paced attack. It's got some good thrash sensibilities to it in some of the riffs, but the vocals are still grind to the core. There's even some subtle melody in the riffs. Beyond Control is another full throttle battering. All I can say is that their drummer must be an Octopus! Heavy Metal T-shirts rounds things off for this section, with more PV goodness.

Tracks 10-13 come from their split with Warhero. I'm not sure when this one was released, so if you could tell me that'd be cool.

It All Means Nothing Now is heralded in by some ringing feedback, before Osk wade forth with some off-kilter sludge. This song has a totally different feel to it than previous tracks. The atmosphere seems to be really menacing and a lot more evil, than their trademark sound would suggest. Assume brings things crashing back down to earth with a jolt. No Dice features more mid-paced, off-kilter sludge but with crazed grind in the middle to push things along. Blank Page has a real punk feel to it, with bouncing drumming in parts and guitar riffs to match.

Tracks 14-16 are from their 2011 split 7" with The Afternoon Gentleman. This record was put as a collaborative release by no less than 6 labels originally!

All songs here are longer than a minute and show Osk experimenting with their formula. Stranded At Sea features fast drumming and more crazed PV vocals, but the guitars here seem meatier and more metal inspired. Mouth Pollution shows this off, with a mid-paced chunky intro, which leads back into their trademark grind. Walking Asleep just follows up in the same vein, still utterly mental though! It even features some riffs, which sound like they could have been written by Mastodon and sound absolutely huge!

The final 6 tracks here are made up of compilation only songs and four unreleased tracks before them. Osk finish off this CD in suitable style. Lie Through You Teeth probably has what is approaching the most traditional song structure, but it sounds really refreshing and heavier thanks to the slower pace and some really cool guitar textures. The low-end and percussion keep things in check throughout. Big Drinker and Ridged Thought are truly momentous slabs of grind. Creeper does exactly what the title suggests; it creeps along at a festering pace, with some great clean guitar riffs and powerful drumming. This is one of my standout tracks, even though it is purely instrumental. It just sounds really heavy and breaks up the record really well, giving you time to prepare for the final two blasts that are just around the corner. Earwig Master is a great title for a song. The sound and production of the song is more rough and ready and just sounds nuts. Final song Gobs From Reno is similar too. It sounds more like these songs were recorded in a live setting.

If you've not heard Osk before, this is probably the record to get. It's 22 tracks fly by, with great musicianship and plenty of ideas along the way. You can still pick up copies of the records that these tracks were taken from, on places like Discogs, but having them all here in one place seems to make sense.

Just head over to TLAL at for more info on Osk and this releases, plus details on where to purchase it from.

I can't find a Facebook page for Osk, but they do have a page on Myspace at

Wednesday 8 August 2012

Campus - Empathy EP

Campus are a hardcore/screamo five-piece from Belgium, who are currently signed to Small Town Records. Their latest EP - Empathy, was released earlier this year and by the time your read, Campus will have played at Hevy Fest.


1. Empathy
2. Lone Wolf
3. Downtime
4. Young Bastard

Immediately, the title track has a very modern feel to it, in the production and the sound. The riffs are syncopated in parts, but when the brand break into melody and gruff singing, they sound really impressive. The vocals of Martijn Leenaers are angry and full of emotion, while the band behind him back him up really well. From listening to them, you can understand why Small Town Records picked them up, as they contain the originality and the aggression that is making today’s modern hardcore scene what it is.

Lone Wolf features a wicked low-end at the start and some bleak screams. They feature some great off-kilter riffs within their music, which kind of throws you off the standard hardcore scent and into something far tastier. Sometimes the riffs remind me off Threat Signal, as do the melodic vocals, but as I like that band I'm happy about it. These guys would have gone down a treat at Hevy, as they create a wall of noise, which is headbang-able and pit inducing. High energy is called for and delivered in spades.

Downtime slows the pace down slightly, with more off-kilter riffs and a slower tempo. There are some great dual-harmonised leads during the song and the breakdown inspired verse midway through is pretty brutal. The fact that Campus doesn't lose their identity or give in to Americanisms makes them a great prospect, which is likely to draw in plenty of British fans, if it hasn’t already.

Young Bastard has a thrashier intro initially and being the EPs closer, sees Campus ending on a high. The solitary screams of "Young Bastard" are spine tingling and as the music fades out, you're left with a pounding head and heart. Campus are a great find, especially if you haven’t come across them before. Their mixture of ferocity and melody leaves you wanting more.

To find out more about Campus, head over to their blog at and head over to Small Town Records at to pick up \a copy of the EP.

Campus are also on Facebook at

Who Needs Maps?- Demo

Who Needs Maps? are a hardcore band from France. They feature Bertrand Baudrion, who runs the record label Orchidescent. His label has helped put some ace hardcore/screamo records including the Hexis 7" - X, which I've reviewed no this very blog. I was pretty  excited when he sent me links to his own bands, just so I could hear their output. I'm starting in the logical place, with their first demo.

So it's time to listen, while stuffing my face with apple turnover. Yeah, I'm hardcore!


1. Romero
2. Lame De Fond
3. Tale A Breath
4. Le Nombre Exige

Who Needs Maps? bring a great hardcore/screamo variant to your ears. The production is raw and urgent, as is the music and screams, but it has a great melody to it too. The tuneful guitar riffs in Romero give it a really listenable edge.

Lame De Fond again shows their knack for writing good intros and building up the atmosphere, before peaking with some awesome noise. The vocals are just cathartic scream filled with emotion that are sit at the opposite end of the scale to the instrumentation, yet like all good screamo, manages to fir perfectly. I still maintain that Europeans do this strand of hardcore best.

Take A Breath epitomises their sound I think. The music isn't cluttered or over complicated. It's simple and very effective, with even time for some cleverly placed clean vocals in the background. It reminds of simpler times, when there wasn't such a blurring of the lines in hardcore.

Final song Le Nombre Exige has a more urgent tone to it, with some great punk-inspired drumming and crazed guitars reeling in the verse. They seem to be able to weave in those euphoric riffs that sound massive, and thanks to the emotive vocals, the whole package is pretty much complete. Having it all underpinned by a tight rhythm section also helps to keep things on the right track.

Overall, Who Needs Maps? are one of those bands that get you genuinely excited when you stumble across them. Their brand of hardcore is their own, and because they don't take on the persona of another band, they sound fresh and original.

The only place you can find Who Needs Maps? is on their own blog here  -

On the Discography section of their blog, their is a link so you can download this demo for free, as the physical copies sold out a while ago. You've got no excuse for missing them now.  Stay tuned here soon for a review of their self-titled album as well.

Sunday 5 August 2012

Shoppers/Panzram - Split 7"

Ages ago I reviewed a load of vinyl from Parade of Spectres, including the Beau Navire/Republic of Dream split, which was put out with the help of IFB records. IFB records collaborated on this split with a label called Feeble Minds. Shoppers are a punk band from Syracuse, NY. Panzram are a more hardcore laced punk band from the sunny climbs of Ft. Myers, Florida. It was released earlier this year and contains four tracks, two tracks from each band.


1. Born With A Bad Haircut (Panzram)
2. Cause Celebre (Panzram)
3. I (Shoppers)
4. II (Shoppers)

So, starting with Panzram then, Born With A Bad Haircut has a thick sound to. The buzzing of the guitars alongside the drums make it quite a formidable intro. There's subtle melody in the song when the main verse kicks in and the vocals are reminiscent of the kind of screamo/hardcore vocals that you get from bands like early, Casually Dressed.... era Funeral For A Friend (at their most caustic). Sorry for the comparison, it's probably a pale one!

Cause Celebre follows a similar mould. The vocals here seem more crust inspired and sound pretty possessed; yet the rhythm and guitars underneath are really danceable. There are At The Drive-Inisms' on display here when the main verse kicks in, especially in the vocals. It's all chaotic, but really good fun.

Shoppers side of the split starts with I. This song has a more low-fi, garage punk feel to it. The female vocals are less caustic and more audible and it's probably that influence that gives the music a more melodic edge. It's also more experimental as well, dual female/male vocals are used and it all seems catchier.

II has more of a punch too it. The production brings out the immediacy and chaos in the song, as it does with the rest of the split. The instruments are allowed to melt into each other and make one sprawling beast. The live element in the sound is good too, with the production not being overdone allowing you to get immersed in both bands sound. Shoppers favour the garage rock sound less on this song, instead going for more of a straight forward rocky, punky sound.

Overall it's a great split record and does exactly what a split should do, bring two bands with different sounds together, which complement each other. It's a great way to get into new bands and a great way for bands to get noticed. Neither band here is pretentious and they don't try and sound like anybody else. They've got their own sound and they're sticking to it. If you want a record that sounds heavy, but without the macho posturing, that you can dance too, you could do far worse than pick up this split.

To see if you agree with my ramblings above, you can stream this whole split via Feeble Minds' bandcamp page below:-

If you like the record, you can purchase it either digitally or on vinyl from Feeble Minds' page above or from You can also pick it up from IFB records at

You can check out more by Shoppers on Facebook at I can't find anything for Panzram, but if you know of a site let me know and I'll link this page up.

Void Forger - Ruined Demo

I got contacted ages ago by Volodea (drums/vocals), from Romanian blackened-sludge band Void Forger. Ruined is there first three track demo. I've been completely blown away by the level of quality coming out of Easter Europe at the moment, because as you know, I've been repping Ukrainian solo ambient black metal band Moloch, but it's great to see the Eastern European scene exploding. This demo was releases in April 2012 digitally and via a limited run of 51 awesomely packaged CDs.


1. Pointless Media
2. Relief
3. Automation

Void Forger open up with that characteristic ringing feedback on Pointless Media, before doomy riffs kick in. They have a slight thrashy tone to them and thanks the recording, make you think your right in the room with them. The vocals are decidedly evil, with the same riff being played underneath in a drone like fashion. The crash of the drums and especially the cymbals bring a sense of chaos to the otherwise controlled music. Void Forger present some great ideas in Pointless Media. There are some great changes in pace and guitar effects, which add to the doom inspired groove that makes up most of the song.

Relief starts with a bass guitar intro and has a very different feel to it. It's faster and actually has more black metal influences mixed within in. The vocal growls are also lower and Void Forger produce more introspective moments in the opening bars of the song, preferring to major on more instrumental passages. The volume that the song is played at helps to bring out some of the subtleties in Void Forgers sound, and while some people may find the sound a bit muddy, it certainly makes them sound more authentic, which really suits this style of music.

Final song Automation is the longest song of the three here and it's also unsurprisingly, the doomiest. The drums beat a slow pace and the guitars march along in a dirge of snail-paced riffs. There's not as much treble in this song, apart from the odd ringing guitar effect. There's a real hoedown about 4 minutes in, with a great rhythm and some crazy guitar sounds providing a whirlwind of sound. The bass is then left to play underneath one final tranche of ringing feedback before the final grooving passage is played out.

Such is Void Forger's music; you have to take multiple listens to appreciate all that's on offer here. There's an undoubted quality about their music and one, which will no doubt develop as they move forwards. I for one, am really excited about this band and I really can't wait to see how the progress.

Void Forger have put this demo up for streaming and free download on their bandcamp page below:-

If you want a CD copy (if there are any left), you can get in touch with the band via Facebook at

Saturday 4 August 2012

Magrudergrind - Crusher

US grind trio Magrudergrind are somewhat of an enigma amongst grindcore bands. They've been going as a band since 2002 and have played around the world, with some of the globes best extreme metal bands. Crusher was released as a 10" EP by To Live A Lie Records in February of this year.


1. Leech
2. Conditioned Minds
3. Incapacity Reigns
4. Stagnant
5. Heaviest Bombing
6. Cognition

Opener Leeches starts with ringing feedback and crazed drums, as Magrudergrind’s quick fire grind takes hold of your senses. The music itself is full of razor riffing and warp-speed drumming, with the vocals being a mixture of high and low pitched screams and occasional growls.

Conditioned Minds is the only sub one-minute song on Crusher. It's utterly metal yet its structure is more traditional. The slower riffs in the middle of the song break it down slightly and allow the band to rest a little before the final blast.

With Incapacity Reigns, you've got a song that will cause mayhem in the pit. The riffs have a hardcore influence to them and there's a good variation to Magrudergrind's staple sound here. The song is still over far too fast though, but then you would never have a 10-minute grind song would you!

By Stagnant, you're already halfway through this EP. It's another short blast of hardcore inspired grind, with some vocals that remind me of Slayer. There are some semi-melodic riffs at play here, but they are off-kilter so sound nuts.

By the time you reach Heaviest Bombing, you've already witnessed a carpet-bombing of utter filthy grind and then your confronted with a surprise. Towards the end of the song, a hip-hop passage comes in and plays out the rest of the song. A nice left field touch to an otherwise insane song.

Cognition is Magrudergrind's experimental effort at over five minutes in length. The riffs take their cur from sludge and angry, Integrity style hardcore and sound absolutely meaty. This song proves that the band are able to switch their sound and have the skill to slow things down, and keep listeners guessing. I'm going to stick my neck out here and say this is my favourite track on Crusher. The lead guitar work is brilliant and when it's played over the top of the sludgy rhythm section, it just sounds epic.

You can listen to the whole of this EP via To Live A Lie's Bandcamp page below - 

You can also download it for free from the same page.

If you'd rather a physical copy though, head over to It's currently down, but it does tell you were you can pick vinyl copies up from.

Also, Magrudergrind are on Facebook at