Saturday 27 October 2012

Cholera - Egotism Tape


There's something about tapes that make me feel warm and fuzzy inside. In spite of my self-professed love for vinyl recently, I find tapes to be equally as special. None more so than those currently being put out by Manchester base label Church of Fuck. This is their latest release and it comes in the form of new Durham based Grind/Hardcore band Cholera.

This is the first recorded output from Cholera to be released unto the masses and as you can see from the pic below, the tape is quality -



The tape itself features seven quickfire grind tracks and with all the one word song-titles, it proves that Cholera ain't messing about.

Tracklist -

1. Wake
2. Omen
3. Origin
4. Leper
5. Soiled
6. Cult
7. Corvus


This is very much in the same vein as the other releases that CoF have put out so far. Focused, angry noise with a hardcore blueprint. Wake is a feedback ridden, instrumental opener featuring just guitar, but it sound pretty standoff-ish. Omen follows directly on and batters you pretty much senseless. The vocals here are quite different. They're not low as you'd expect but throw out more of a high-pitched bark, which is actually pretty cool.  Cholera choose not to stick to the same blasting pace throughout the song and slow things down mid-way through, is a semi-sludge kind of way. As you'd expect, the bass is pretty prominent too.

Origin is just two minutes of straight feedback and hard as hell, fast power violence. It's the soundtrack that would be playing if you were unfortunate enough to be ravaged by a bear! Leper has that huge slow burn to it. The kind that would make you loose control of your bowels, even before they've hit the brown note! Then with very little warning, it proceeds to drill itself into your central cortex.

The constant noise/feedback theme on Egotism makes it a disconcerting listen, even for those who consider themselves to kvlt. Soiled comes and goes in a total flash and leads straight into Cult. Again crushingly heavy, but with a nice subtle instrumental interlude buried within, which is your reward if lived this long! Final song Corvus is the final feedback drenched song and by virtue if it's playing time, is practically Cholera's rock opera! That dirge ridden low end makes an appearance again and it's got a very different vibe to it.

The growls sound at least an octave lower to begin with, until about a minute in when things return to normal. The sludginess disappears and back comes the grinding, hardcore attack. And so it ends how it has begun, noisily. What a tape! If you like your hardcore deep and dirty and don't mind some head-spinningly loud feedback, get this now!

As with all the other CoF releases, you can stream this whole tape via their Bandcamp page below:-




To pick up your copy of Egotism, hit up either Cholera at http://www.facebook.com/Cholerauk or go to the Church of Fuck webstore at http://churchoffuck.bigcartel.com/.

Fester - A Celebration of Death


Fester are a black/death metal trio from Norway. They originally formed way back in 1989 and a quartet and two demo's and two full-lengths between then and 1993, when they split up. They returned in 2010 and have since released A Celebration of Death, which is their first recorded material in over 17 years. Fester as I've already said, play black/death metal but infuse it with heavy metal and jazz touches, so it'll be interesting to see what it sounds like.

Tracklist -

1. Rights of Ceres
2. The Black Tower
3. March of Death
4. I'll Hunt You Down
5. Metalized
6. Jeg Spytter Pa Deg
7. Last Day of Battle pt.1
8. Last Day of Battle pt.2
9. A Face For a Funeral
10. Rites of Mortiis


The first impression I get as the intro to Rites of Ceres builds is Nile, but that might be because that brief intro has a Eastern flavour to it, as when the verse opens out,
It’s nothing like Nile. There's some really skillful drumming going on and the vocals are raspy growls. The guitars can be heard underneath in the mix and sound almost industrial in the way they're delivered. This however, is just an impression based on the first two minutes of a seven minute song. There's plenty of pace changes and the bass guitar does add in some jazzy riffs when allowed to pierce through the thickness of the rest of the instrumentation. There are certainly a lot of ideas and layers at play and though this song is mainly mid-paced, it has its moments and shows that Fester are not just here to make up the numbers. There's orchestral, symphonic influence at times toward the closing bars as Rites Of Ceres flows into The Black Tower.

Fester weave in some cool, melodic guitar layers into The Black Tower, which distracts from those cold, harsh growls. Again this song is mainly mid-paced too and features some nice off-kilter instrumentation. I like the way each song just flows into the next, I think more records should do this, as sometimes bands put silly gaps in between songs that ruin a records natural flow. Well, onto March of Death, A Celebration of Death's longest song at over eight minutes and it has a subtle doom/sludge feel to it, in its winding two-minute intro. At this point as well, the vocals seem more distant and the guitars have come to the fore slightly, along with the bass. Those symphonic layers are back in March of Death and add a layer of sinister feeling to the song, which is nice. It kinda reminds me off some of the ambient black metal I've been listening too recently.

I'll Hunt You Down is a pacier track, with strangely, some danceable drums! Maybe it's just me. This album features enough twists and turns inside it's first four tracks to keep you interested, as you move deeper into it and the songs start to become shorter and sharper in places. Metalized is one on those shorter, sharper songs I was talking about. Despite this, it still features a lot of the experimentalism that Fester threw into their opening four songs.  Jeg Spytter Pa Deg begins with the sound of people being slashed to death by cold metal, which fits this record down to the ground. Fester return to their grandiose best here. Still those blasting, solid drums hold everything together well.

Next comes the two-parter of Last Day of Battle. Pt.1 is an instrumental interlude of sorts, which sounds really cool but is also in keeping with the vibe of the record.
Pt.2 is another six minute plus barrage of mid-paced death metal. The bass is more prominent again, adding a good layer of heft to the music. This time, the song features samples of people being killed by warplanes, so Fester aren't just sticking to one era for inspiration. It's at this point too that you realise that this album is playing out a story, and such is close to being a concept album, however not a cheesy one!
The penultimate track A Face For A Funeral is another quickened slab of death. It sounds pretty evil too, with the vocals buried in the mix like they are. It's a welcome change though and prepares you for close, Rites of Mortiis. Now Rites of Mortiis is a real surprise. It's billed as a remix and features electro beats amongst the death metal.
It sounds very similar to EBM or darkwave and is a great way to end A Celebration of Death.

This record may require you to persevere with it but you are rewarded by great musicianship and a few surprises along the way! It's well worth picking this up in one of it's three formats, that are mentioned below.

You can pick A Celebration of Death up from the following labels in the following formats:-

Abyss Records - CD - http://www.officialabyssrecords.com/
Floga Records - Vinyl at http://www.flogarecords.com/store/index.php 
Total Holocaust Records - Tape - http://thr666.horde.se/

Also Fester can be found on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fester.

Thursday 25 October 2012

Strife - Witness A Rebirth Review + Interview



First there was hushed muttering amongst the hardcore faithful, then songs started appearing, then record release shows started being booked. I'm talking about the reformation of US hardcore institution Strife and the release of their first record in 11 years, Witness A Rebirth. This feature takes a look at the new album and features an exclusive interview with guitarist and primary songwriter Andrew Kline.

Tracklist:-
1. Torn Apart
2. Carry The Torch
3. Show No Mercy
4. No Apologies
5. The Distance
6. Never Look Back
7. In This Defiance
8. The Burden
9. Look Away
10. Face Your Failures
11. End Of Days
12. Life Or Death

This is hardcore done properly. If ever there was a band that could blast the pretenders out of the water and show them how it's done, it's got to be Strife. After a long silence, coming back and being able to unleash an album like Witness A Rebirth shows you that they never let go of hardcore and that it was still coursing through their veins.

They enlisted the help of some good friends on this album too. Sepultura/Cavalera Conspiracy drummer, Iggor Cavalera recorded the drums and as you'll read in the interview below, they brought in a whole host of guests to help them along the way.

The album opens with the ripping Torn Apart. This really is a call to arms for hardcore fans. It's got crunching riffs, uncomplicated but blasting drums and those vocals from Rick Rodney are huge! Carry The Torch begins with a thrashing intro before the passionate scream of "Witness A Rebirth" which heralds in the song. Don't expect overblown, beard stroking songs here as they isn't what you'll get. It's pure heads down hardcore, with a metal tinge. They don't abuse breakdowns and any instrumental sections they do have in songs are well put together.

Show No Mercy (not the Slayer song), does what it says on the tin. The gang vocals are especially spine tingling when they come in during the chorus. No Apologies is one of the most up-tempo songs on the album, thanks to the galloping riffs and drums. The vocals too are more vicious on this song than they have been up to now, and fit it perfectly. It does settle into more of a groove toward the end and features some awesome metallic, melodic guitar. The Distance follows in exactly the same vein. So far it seems that the further you get into this record, the faster and more pounding it gets. It's certainly has an awesome momentum to it!

Never Look Back begins with a heavy, mid-paced riff that sound epic and really positive lyrics that accentuate the bands beliefs. The vocals from Billy Graziadei of Biohazard add serious bite too. Strife's thrash influence shows again in the intro to In This Defiance. It's a real rousing track again and the drum solo in the middle is a nice touch, with the riffs and rhythm section sounding as pure as hardcore can be! The lead part in this song comes from Marc Rizzo from Soulfly/Cavalera Conspiracy and gives the song that metal edge.

The vocals in The Burden are pure, gargled evil, but somehow stay audible, thanks to the brilliant production of the record. That's a point worth mentioning, the production has that modern sheen that makes all the parts sound clear and concise, but it doesn't sound over-produced either, which is a good thing. It helps the record fly out of the speakers like they are live in your front room! Look Away is a minute of pure hardcore hatred, featuring a guest slot from Terror vocalist Scott Vogel. By the time closer Life or Death comes at you, you've got the inevitable neck ache from headbanging the whole way through. The album is quick and precise, with no messing around, which I really what you want from a hardcore record. What a comeback and surely a real contender for album of the year!

Episodes 1 and 2 of - The Making of Witness A Rebirth can be viewed below:-


Strife were also good enough to do an interview for me and you can read it below:-

First of all, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. You’re about to release a new album “Witness A Rebirth”, which is your first in 11 years. What has the reaction been like since you announced this new record?

So far so good… A lot of kids were excited from the get go. It has been a very long time since we recorded an album, and I think a lot of people were just excited to hear something new from the band. At the same time, I think some people were sceptical about what “Witness A Rebirth” might sound like so many years down the line. We released a few songs on the Internet, “Torn Apart” and “Show No Mercy”, and showed that Strife is back, true to form. “Witness A Rebirth” picks up right where “In This Defiance” left off, and fans of hard, fast, and in your face hardcore will not be disappointed!

The record is being released by 6131 Record in the US and Holy Roar Records in the UK. How did you decide which labels you wanted to work with for the record?
 
We made a conscious decision to work with smaller labels on this album. We wanted to work with labels that were really connected with the current hardcore scene, and labels that worked with some of the best up and coming bands in hardcore right now. 6131 was an obvious choice… They are one of the best up and coming hardcore labels, and they are based out of LA.  I am a big fan of Rotting Out and Alpha Omega, so it is great to be on the same labels as these bands as well. Other labels releasing the record are Dogfight Records in Australia, Caustic Records in South America, and Townhall Records in Korea.

How do you feel about the current climate of metal/hardcore? How does it differ to when Strife began?

Hardcore is in a great place right now… There are a ton of great bands, and I feel like there are a lot of kids that are carrying on the DIY spirit by booking shows, starting bands, doing zines, and putting out records. Bands like Incendiary, Rotting Out, Bitter End, Xibalba, Alpha Omega, Soul Search, and Down to Nothing are what keep me excited about hardcore right now.

Iggor Cavalera (Sepultura) recorded the drums on “Witness A Rebirth”. Was it an easy decision choosing him and what has he brought to the record?

Iggor is one of my all time favourite drummers and one of my best friends…. If Iggor wants to play on your record you do everything in your power to make it happen! And that is exactly what we did. I flew down to Brazil with Nick, who produced the record, and we tracked all of the drum tracks in Sao Paulo. He is a very solid and hard-hitting drummer, and he added a lot to this record. He knew exactly what kind of drumming these songs called for, and he added enough of his signature fills and flair to make it cool without overplaying.

Are there any other guests appearing on “Witness A Rebirth” that you can tell us about?

We have a few other guests on the album. Billy from Biohazard lends his vocals to a song called “Never Look Back”, Marc Rizzo from Soulfly and Cavalera Conspiracy plays a lead on “In This Defiance”, and Scott Vogel sings on a track called “Look Away”. I really like collaborating with other musicians, and all of these guys did an amazing job on the record.

Have you got any touring plans that you can share with us, to support the release?

Right now we are gearing up for a few record release shows. We play Aladdin’s in Pomona on Nov 17 with Bitter End, Piece by Piece, and Xibalba, and then Gilman on Berkeley on Nov 18 with the same bands. Then we head to the East Coast to play two shows at the End of November. Connecticut with Supertouch and Death Before Dishonour, and Philadelphia with Down To Nothing, Suburban Scum, Mother of Mercy, and Soul Search. The majority of our touring will start in 2013, and we hope to hit all corners of the world to support this record.

A limited Zine of the same name was released recently, to wet people’s appetites. Not many other bands do that type of thing so can you tell us a bit about the process and thought behind it and what it means to you?

Witness A Rebirth is about carrying on the true spirit of hardcore… To me this means the stage dives and the sing-a-longs, but also the community, and the DIY spirit. Putting on shows, putting out records, making a zine, starting a band, and just getting involved to make this place bigger and better for everyone. We worked with our friends at Dethkills (an art collective from LA) to create this ‘Zine to not only talk about the new record, but also the beginning of the band. We interviewed people that played a major part in the band’s early years: Mike Hartsfield from New Age Records, Dave Mandel from Indecision Records and Fanzine, and Ray from The Macondo (a small DIY club in Los Angeles).

I’m genuinely interested to read you point of view on this but if it seems too    contentious, you don’t have to answer it. You guys went from being a straight edge band to a non-straight edge band, have you found that you’ve been treated differently as a band because of that? I for one prefer to focus on a band’s musical output before anything else; do you find that other people are the same?

Straight Edge was a big part of the band in our early years… It was a movement we all connected with and a philosophy that we all stood behind… But one thing that we always preached was about breaking down the barriers that separate us… This music is for everyone regardless of the way you look, the music you listen to, or what you do in your personal life. As time went on, we all went our different ways, and people made the decision to no longer be straight edge. This is not something that we tried to hide from anyone… We were very clear went we started playing that we were no longer a straight edge band… I think some people were disappointed, other let down, but there were also a ton of kids just happy to have us back playing music that we love with a strong or powerful message. A lot of people talk about being “True Til Death” and to me, I would rather have someone be true to themselves, and live the life that they want to live instead of living to uphold a commitment they made when they were 16 years old… We all respect the Straight Edge lifestyle (I am still Straight Edge), and we are happy that we played a positive influence in many people’s lives.

Beyond the promotion of Witness A Rebirth”, have you got any future plans?

We are just excited to get this record out and start playing… It has been a long time in the making, and we are all very excited with how the record came out. It will be refreshing to play some new songs in front of some new kids! Other than that, we will just take everything day by day, and continue to play as long as we are still having fun doing it.
  
I ask every band this question. Are you in touch with your local scene and are there any bands that you think people should check out if they haven’t heard of them already?

     Of course… I am still really involved with the hardcore scene… Check out Take  
     Offense, Nomads, Rotting Out, Alpha Omega, Sleepwalkers, Soul Search, and    
     Xibalba. There are the bands that will “Carry the Torch” and keep the hardcore   
     spirit alive! Thanks for the interview, and we hope to see you on tour soon!

     Now, as Strife mentioned in their interview, you can pick Witness A Rebirth up 
     from the following labels, depending where you are in the world:-
    
     USA - 6131 Records - http://www.6131records.com
     UK/Europe - Holy Roar Records - http://www.holyroarrecords.com
     South America - Caustic Records - http://www.xcausticx.com/
     Australia - Dogfight Records - http://dogfightrecords.com/
     South Korea - Townhall Records - http://townhallrecords.tistory.com/
   
     I've pre-ordered a copy of sumptuous White/Red vinyl from Holy Roar Records.  
     Make sure you pick up yours!

     Also, head over to Strife's official Facebook page at below - 

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Pentimento/Young English - Split


I thought I'd take a break from the crushing metal, to cover some punk rock! This is the latest split record from Buffalo, NY punks Pentimento and Orange County's Young English. This was released around March/April time this year depending on where you were in the world at the time. I'm only getting round to this review now, as that's how jammed my inbox is!

Tracklist -

Pentimento
1. L'esprit De Escalier (The Stairs)
2. No Apology
3. To The Bridge:
4. The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most (Dashboard Confessional Cover)

Young English
5. Woke Up Under Water
6. Old Wives Tales
7. So Long, Connecticut
8. Tonight, Tonight (Smashing Pumpkins Cover)

Pentimento start things of with the song L'Esprit De Escalar (The Stairs) with distorted, crunching guitars that lead into nice melodic vocal harmonies. It kind of sounds a lot like pop-punk from the Drive-Thru era, but it has more bite about it, kinda like Hot Water Music. The vocals are a mix of gruff punk and cleanly sung pop-punk. The instrumentation bounces along with angular riffs and well placed drumming. No Apology has a more of a straightforward song structure to it and doesn’t require as much thought from the listener, but still features a sound that shy's away from the sheen of mass-produced pop-punk of recent years. Basically, it has it's own personality! There are thoughtful passages in this song too, which includes some nice guitar effects and quieter singing and it's a good texture against the punkier passages. To The Bridge brings their sound back to the gruffer, rough and ready sound that was evident in their opener. It's really good, especially when the soaring melodic vocals are heard in the mix. The instrumentation is spot on too, making the whole package pretty much perfect. They close their side of the split with a Dashboard Confessional cover, The Place You Have Come To Fear The Most. It's a subtle departure from the songs that have come before, as initially it's semi acoustic. About a minute in though Pentimento turn it on its head and their full blown sound back to the fore. It's a great way to end their side of the split and they've done the song proud.

So onto Young English's side and immediately you're greeted with a more modern take on punk. The guitars are super melodic, as are the vocals. Woke Up Under Water still has its moments and is a strong song. It showed me that I'm still a sucker for good melody and clean guitar. Old Wives Tale has a nice country music feel to it and is acoustic to begin with. It moves away to reveal a song, which has elements of Brand New (circa Deja Entendu era) in the vocals melodies. This is one of my standout tracks on this split, for that reason. It's hard, as I don't have as much to say about Young English's side of the split, but that doesn't mean I don't connect with it, as it's really listenable. What is nice is that both bands have different sounds and that's the great thing about split records. So Long, Connecticut is another pop-punk peach of a song, with plenty of heart and soul. The music doesn't seem forced or fake and much like the rest of this split, is well produced, well written and just good music. Young English's closer is an interesting choice. It's a cover of Tonight, Tonight by The Smashing Pumpkins. They've been bold in a way, by covering a song by band that play a different genre of rock, but have managed to make it sound their own song. It's a good way to round out this split and has cheered me up hugely!

This split was released by Panic Records and has been made available to stream and buy form their Bandcamp page below:-


You can keep up to date with what both Pentimento and Young English are doing on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/PentimentoNY and http://www.facebook.com/YoungEnglishBand.

Sunday 21 October 2012

Gouge - Doomed To Death 7"


This is last review I'm doing today and the last of the six Hells Headbangers reviews. This is the latest 7" from Norwegian death metal band Gouge. On record, Gouge are a duo and they started in 2011. This is their debut four track EP that was released earlier this year and they come approved by none other than Fenriz from Darkthrone, so they must be doing something right.

Tracklist - 


1. Ritual of Gore

2. Evil Town Of Mud
3. Doomed To Death
4. Nuclear Vomit

Judging by that fact that Gouge are a Norwegian Duo, I was expecting Doomed To Death to be totally necro, brutal death metal and it was! Ritual of Gore was full of flailing drums and killer guitar lines, including an obligatory wailing solo. The vocals from Christoffer Bråthen were quality, low growls too which I like. Evil Town of Mud begins with a doom dirge of an intro, before the blasting death metal comes flying at you again. It's pure old-school worship at it's best and it's easy to see why it was picked up by Hells Headbangers to release.

The title track is up next, starting with a skewed kind of sample featuring some jazz piano and then out of the blue, Gouge hit the ground running again. Thanks to the production on the record, you get chills on the back you neck and you sit jaw agape, wondering what Gouge sound like in a live setting. I hope they come to the UK soon!
Those blood curdling screams are especially chilling! The last salvo, the affectionately named Nuclear Vomit again features a doom inspired intro, which adds to this bands repertoire really well. When they are thrashing away, they are at their best but when they slow things down, they sound equally as heavy and menacing. Just listen to the end of the song to see what I mean.

This is another great example of the different strands of death metal that are coming from Scandinavia at the moment and long may it continue!

Again, you can hear teasers of this 7" on Hells Headbanger's Bandcamp page below:-


The record can be purchased at http://shop-hellsheadbangers.com/.

You can throw your horns at Gouge on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/GOUGE.NEKRO.

Heavy Cross - Street Wolf 7"


So I'm down to the penultimate review from my series of review on recent Hells Headbangers vinyl only releases. This one is the new two track 7" by Heavy Cross. I've been able to find out an awful lot about these guys, apart from that they are influenced by Scandinavian bands like Heavy Load and Gotham City and also NWOBHM.

Tracklist:-


1. Street Wolf

2. Red Light Woman

As soon as Street Wolf begins you get that NWOBHM sound from the guitars and it's rockin! The vocals are classing heavy metal, especially when the harmonised backing vocals come in. The coolest part for me though is the cleanly picked guitar, especially when it's got so much melody. They slow things down towards the middle of the song, so you can catch your breath and they can build up atmosphere for the rousing closing. This is some of the best heavy metal I've heard in quiet some time.

The B-side Red Light Woman is just as good as the A-side. The lyrics are every bit as you'd expect, but what more could you ask for from a song called Red Light Woman!
I remember a certain big American modern metal band did a song in a similar style on an outtakes record, but it sounded slightly out of place and contrived, whereas this sound authentic and Heavy Cross do a great job of sounding true to their sound.

In my view, two songs are just not enough here, I want more. They've hit the nail on the head with their sound and while it may not be fast enough for some, it reminds me of a simpler time before sub-genres and scene hopping bands and it's great fun to boot!

You can hear teasers of both these songs at Hells Headbanger's Bandcamp page below:-


If you like the teasers, go and pick up a copy of the 7" from http://shop-hellsheadbangers.com/.

Never Again - No!


Never Again are another French hardcore band from Dijon. Again, they feature Bertrand Baudrion on Who Needs Maps? and Orchidscent Records. Their eight track album was released in March of this year and has long since sold out. It was a joint release between Orchidscent Record and Old School Records.

Tracklist -

1. Take It Away
2. Beer Color
3. Di - way
4. Infection
5. Fred & Jamy
6. Buddy
7. The Wheel
8. An Empty Diary

Never Again's sound if very different to that of Who Needs Maps?, the music is more akin to garage punk than to hardcore. The main vocals are made of very fast spoken word as well as hardcore screams. The guitar is pure rock n roll and sometimes they have a bit of psychobilly about them. Take It Away is a quick intro of a song and it's pace carries through to Beer Color.

When the hardcore screams kick in, the sound it pretty caustic, but there are moments quiet reflection, when the guitar is left to play. The recording sounds like it was done live, as the drums sound like their in the room with you. Never Again keep up a very frenetic pace and their punkier edge shine through during third song Di-Way. Like Who Needs Maps? from earlier, they too don't use Americanised vocal influences to emphasise their brand of hardcore, choosing to make sure their native accents do the talking for them.

The songs don't stick around for long either and before you know it your at the midway point of No! Infection seems to be more brutal in it's delivery, the mixture of clean spoken and shouted vocals works really well and those pounding drums battle with the raging guitars for supremacy. The way the band slows things down and grooves halfway through is good to hear and they even throw in some subtle ska influenced sections too. It's all good in the variation stakes. They show their off-kilter skills towards the end of Infection, which sees them end on a moody note.

The second half of the record follows a similar formula, with the speed Fred & Jamy showing their rock n roll credential once more, leaving you in know doubt that they could rouse a great party and pit at the same time, especially with that guitar solo that ends the song. I'd liken this to a lot of old skater punk that used to be on the soundtracks to the Tony Harks Playstation games at time, although Never Again do have more musical intelligence and use it well, to craft great songs, with energy and emotion coursing through them.

The Wheel is full of big sounding, chunky riffs and more breakneck drumming. The undercurrent of melody from the guitars helps make this an easier listen, especially for newcomers to hardcore but it should also appeal to seasoned hardcore fans, who appreciate something different. By the time you reach An Empty Diary, you've been put through the ringer just by listening to this record, as you can't help but bang your head with abandon as the good time vibes take hold! I thoroughly recommend that you either track down a copy of this record if you can, or just listen to it on their Bandcamp page, as it's great fun!

So as I mentioned above, you can stream the whole record via Never Again's own Bandcamp page below:-


Never Again can be found on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Never-Again.  

Gutter - Modern Decay Demo


Gutter are a hardcore band from Athens, Greece that features Bak from Scull Crusher Records/Distro and Jagernaut, as well as members of Sarabante and other awesome Greek bands. This is eight tracks of bear-faced fury.

Tracklisting -

1. Why Do I have To Care?
2. Modern Decay
3. The Dogs Are Coming
4. Life In A Cell
5. No Class (Reagan Youth)
6. Forward
7. Influence
8. War Hero (Void)


Having review a Jagernaut split tape ages ago, I was expecting this to sound similar, but Gutter have a retro punk influenced sound, hellbent of paying homage to
American bands like Black Flag, Reagan Youth and Void (who they cover on this demo). The songs are fast and full of attitude. Gutter seem to capture some of the anger the their country must feeling currently, about the state of their economy and the austerity that grips them. The title track is especially ferocious.

The retro sound here isn't that common amongst hardcore bands I've reviewed recently, but it's refreshing. There's still a hint of crust here, which expected due to the members other bands. Listen to the drumming in The Dogs Are Coming, to hear what I mean. Vocalist Stathis chooses to sing in English, and the lyrics while screamed out are audible. The instrumentation makes it for me. It's well played and authentic enough to get you raging!

They keep their sound faithful when covering No Class by Reagan Youth, but Stathis's semi-melodic vocals are a nice touch. The melodic guitar and solos also help show how good they are. Forward includes some cool gang vocals and is a fast and furious as you'd like. More class guitar solos keep you hooked. This song is only one minute and forty seconds longs but it feels much longer.

Their final song here is a cover of War Hero by Void. This is more akin to Gutter's signature sound. Overall, this is a great fun demo by a band made up of well-versed members, who know what they're doing. It's great to hear people having fun and it sounds like they are! Another awesome Greek band to keep an eye on!

You can hear the whole demo on Gutter's own Bandcamp page below:-


You can also checkout more news from Gutter on their blog at http://gutterhxc.blogspot.com/.

Who Needs Maps? - Self Titled 12"


I've been sent so much music over the last few months, that due to my own slackness/lack of time/job and social life (choose whichever excuse you want), I haven't been writing as many reviews as I would like. The majority of records I've been sent have been part of big promo campaigns which is cool, but I've also been sent a lot of stuff directly from bands and individuals, so I feel compelled to write about some of those in order to let them know I;m not ignoring them and to clear my conscience slightly.

Bertrand from Who Needs Maps? got in touch with me ages ago, after I wrote a review of a Hexis 7" that he had a hand in releasing. He said he'd send me digi copies of a couple of releases by his own bands, Who Needs Map? and Never Again. I've already reviewed their demo, so it's not the turn of their eight track debut album. I've done some searching to and none of the track on this record seem to have names. but please correct me if I'm wrong.

Tracklisting:-

1. 01
2. 02
3. 03
4. 04
5. 05
6. 06
7. 07
8. 08


Who Needs Maps? is full of short, sharp hardcore. It's modern in approach yet has plenty of dissonance and feeling to it. Even though there are no reference points in the form of actual song titles, as a cohesive whole it's pretty damn good. There's plenty of melody in the riffs in track 01 and the fact that the vocals are not Americanised to the hilt and more native, makes them sound more real. This is raw hardcore with feeling, sometimes crossing into screamo territory but only subtly. Track 02 has a great punk feel too it and more of a rock n roll vibe that hits you immediately. It's another fast one thanks to the pounding drumming but it also proves that Who Needs Maps? are very adept songwriters, with ability to slow things down with the odd thoughtful refrain.

They use chords to good effect, beefing up the noise coming from their guitars and when all parts play in unison, it's a rewarding sound that comes out of the speakers. The introspective passage part way through Track 3 gives way to some twinkly screamo style guitar and clean singing, which brings variation to the fore. I like the fact that the production here isn't too clinical, as it allows Who Needs Maps? sound to jump out and helps you to appreciate what they must sound like live. It's really listenable and the indie/screamo guitar I keep waxing lyrical about really helps brighten the mood (screamo does seem to be one of my favourite sub genres of late).

The atmosphere of this record comes to fore in the majestic Track 05. The riffs give off a sense of menacing angst and it reminds me of why I'm so into this type of music, which normal people don't get or are even scared by! It’s the raw emotion that individuals portray; it resonates with me on a level I can't describe. Track 5 has it all, the passionate off the register screams, the nerve jangling instrumentation and even the sense of elation when it all comes to an end. This is a standout track for me. Track 6 sees Who Needs Maps? heading back to more familiar territory. Out go the crescendos of noise and in come more indie/screamo guitar and the general rocky vibe that makes their varied sound so engaging. I guess that's the key to this record, the variation. It's okay to stick ten songs on an album, that sound all the same as you know the formula works, but it's infinitely better to play around, to tug at your listeners heartstrings and to unleash the kind of fury that people rarely show in rational situations.

It may be my fog ridden stupor this morning, but I'm truly feeling this and as the view out of my window gets more and more obscure, my mind gets cleared by the cleansing experience of listening to this record and I'm not even at the end yet! The final two songs, 07 and 08 are more urgent pieces. 07 is a fast, punk ridden hardcore neck snapper and 08 is the bouncing song that you want as a closer. Its full of energy and underline one last time, the level of emotion and thought that Who Needs Maps? have put into this record. It features the majestic vibe of Track 05 but contains mixtures of the other ideas used here, to make a final all-encompassing hardcore song that leaves you with only a few words left to say, Allez Les French Hardcore!

I've not been able to find any Internet streams for this record. Who Needs Maps? do have a Bandcamp page though at http://whoneedsmaps.bandcamp.com and a blog at www.whoneedsmapsband.blogspot.com.

This 12" was released through a myriad of labels as well as Bertrand's own Orchidscent Records label, which can be found at http://orchidscentrecords.blogspot.co.uk/. These include Maldoror Records, Dream Comes True Records, Impure Muzik, Dingleberry Records, Shove Records, Ape Must Not Kill Ape Records, Emotionally Unstable Records, Gluacoma Releases, Estella Dead Fashion Distro.

You won't find this record in many places, as it sold out a while ago, but I managed to find copies on the Dingleberry Records Discogs page - http://www.discogs.com/sell/list?label=Dingleberry+Records&ev=lb.

Friday 19 October 2012

Nunslaughter - Cerebus 7" (Pictue disc)


I told you I had a second Nunslaughter record coming! This time, it's purely theirs. It features four more tracks, two from the studio and two rehearsal tracks. This was originally released in 2003, without the bonus tracks, which are rehearsal versions of the original two tracks.

Tracklist -

1. Mother Cunt Whore (Studio Track)
2. Cerebus (Studio Track)
3. Mother Cunt Whore (Rehearsal)
4. Cerebus (Rehearsal)


So I'll start with the studio tracks. Immediately Mother Cunt Whore's sound is more akin to earlier death metal releases, with the instrumentation buried underneath those rasping growls. Nunslaughter like to keep a faithful sound and it's recreated well on this reissue. It still sounds every bit as brutal as they intended first time round and it's a rousing song, which is over before you know it. The title track Cerebus follows the same blueprint, but includes some wicked screeching guitar and unnerving gargled, low vocals. There's more that thrash sound to Nunslaughter's music, but without overpowering their staple death metal. I really like the fact the lyrics are audible yet are masked behind those blood curdling growls.

The rehearsal versions of these two songs give you an idea of what they sound like live. The guitars actually sound deeper here and that gives Mother Cunt Whore more of a twisted edge. The great thing about the inclusion of these songs is that, Nunslaughter throw more ideas in which increase the length of the songs. Cerebus again sounds like a strain of pure, possessed evil. Some people may prefer the clearness of the studio songs, but these rawer live songs are great additions too.

Again, it's another good record and it's cool because you don't see many bands doing this type of studio/live song thing very often. The rehearsal songs are usually cast aside as bonus tracks on countless compilations, but Nunslaughter use them to their advantage. Pure old-school death metal at it's mightiest.

Once again, you can purchase this record from Hells Headbangers at http://shop-hellsheadbangers.com/ and you can interact with Nunslaughter via either http://www.nunslaughter.com or http://www.facebook.com/NunSlaughter.

Nunslaugter/Abigial - Fucking Satan (7" Picture disc)


As I sit here with my nice warming cup of Tea, I'm greeted by the first of two new Nunslaughter vinyl releases from Hells Headbangers. As the title of this post suggests, this is their new split with Abigail. Nunslaughter play death metal and hail from Cleveland, Ohio. Over the years they've been extremely prolific when it's come to releasing their unholy noise upon the world. Abigail is not a sweet, innocent female but an unholy black metal band from Japan.

Both bands spew forth two track on this snappily titled 7".

Tracklist -

1. Back To Hell (Nunslaughter)
2. God (Nunslaughter)
3. Night Of The Reaper (Abigail)
4. Violent Force (Abigail)


Back to Hell kicks things off for Nunslaughter, with a decidedly old-school sound.
The vocals are audible, yet raspy. The guitars skip along a quite a pace, as does the rhythm section. Their sound is one of almost a death/thrash crossover, but there is still an overriding satanic overtone, mainly in the lyrics. What do you expect with a song called Back To Hell! The chunky guitar riffs towards the end surprise me slightly, as they prove that Nunslaughter carry more influences and ideas in their death metal arsenal. Their second song God has more of an impact on you, with the buzzsaw riffing and fast, hair-whipping drumming. They sound angrier here and the song is over before you can draw breath.

Abigail seem a lot rawer, but then they lean towards black metal, so will do. It's actually the first time I've heard them and I like their take on black metal. The vocals may take some people a while to get used to, but they fit the menacing music really well. The drums are buried further in the mix here and the guitars compete with the vocals in the volume stakes. There's a cool metallic edge to some of the guitar here too, which is a nice change from the pure hissing you get with a lot of black metal. Their second track Violent Force well and truly lives up to its title. Again, Abigail seem to enlist some elements of thrash metal, but there is also a great sense of just good old rock n roll, which makes for an awesome listen. The solo is rip-roaring from Abigail and is the only one you'll hear on this record, so lap it up!

This is another great record and both bands make it work well. The differences in their music are enough to draw you in and keep you thrashing even when the needle's stopped! Look both these bands up, buy this record and do what the label says and headbang!

As with the previous releases I've reviewed, you can pick this record up directly from Hells Headbangers at http://shop-hellsheadbangers.com/

Also you can find Nunslaughter at their website http://www.nunslaughter.com/ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/NunSlaughter. I'm yet find anything in the form of a web presence for Abigail, so if you know of one, give me a shout.

Thursday 18 October 2012

Moloch - II


Those of you who've been reading my blog for a while should now be familiar with Ukrainian ambient black metal band Moloch. This release was put out in 2010 as a compilation by UK based label and distributor, Legion Blotan Records. It was originally released on a short run of 300 tapes, however I got sent a CDr version directly from Moloch. This release features 6 solely ambient tracks, all of which have featured on earlier releases.

Tracklist -

1. In einer Umarmung von tiefen kalten Wäldern
2. Kälte und Verwüstung im Echo eines sterbenden Winters
3. Im Schnee
4. l
5. ll
6. lll

The opening track on II builds slowly with the sound of the wind, which is characteristic of Moloch's ambient work. Ambient strings puncture the wind and overpower it, along with a deeper, droning string section in the background, creating a slow and winding melody. This song is very relaxing and a world away from Moloch's ice cold, black metal persona.

Second track, Kälte und Verwüstung.... has a more a sinister tome to it. Starting as it does, with louder strings and brass instruments. It's still got that droning effect thanks to the lower tones, but the melody played out is that bit more unnerving. I would liken this to classical music to a certain extent, as it's very regal and majestic in its delivery.
This song very abruptly and leads into third track Im Schnee, which is the first time you get to hear Moloch's piano playing.

Im Schnee almost upbeat at time this song, but it services as more of an interlude due to its length. The strings that heralded in this EP, make a second appearance in I. This song features a repetitive melody played on the same chords, which feature a varied pace, sometimes speeding up and sometime slowing down. There is not much else in the way of musical texture here, but it is meant to be a minimal ambient song, so that is not important.

II is more of all encompassing song, thanks to brooding piano and the droning strings in the background. The wind again also features to give it more of a solemn feel.
At this point I want to talk about the sound quality and production, which like the other Moloch releases I've featured here are impeccable.

So its just left to the short piano piece in III to bring this compilation to an end and again, it's very uncomplicated and clean and emphasises the variation in instruments and sounds that Moloch weave into their ambient music. Definitely a strong bedfellow alongside the bands black metal releases.

If you're intrigued and want to pick up a copy of this release, you can buy the tape version from Legion Blotan Records at http://www.legion-blotan.mutant-ape.co.uk/acatalog/Legion_Blotan_Releases.

You can visit Moloch on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Molochukr and via their website at www.moloch.com.ua. Also stay tuned here, for three more Moloch reviews coming soon!

Dirty East Godverdomme Need Your Help!

Dirty East Godverdomme are looking for a gig in the UK on the 26th of October. Here's the UK dates they have booked so far:-

25th Stourbridge UK
26th Need show UK!!
27th Nottingham UK

E-mail crashlandingrecords(at)gmail(dot)com if you can them out with a show. Cheers.

Saturday 13 October 2012

Today's Friday - You're Nothing But A Rib To Me EP


Today's Friday are a relatively new band from Queensland, Australia and they describe their music as "heartcore". I'm not sure what heartcore is exactly, but Today's Friday list their influences as bands like A Day To Remember and Bring Me The Horizon, so that kinda gives me a clue.

Anyway, You're Nothing But A Rib To Me is their debut four track EP, which was released earlier this through From The Depths Entertainment and they are currently recording an album, which will be due out by the end of this year.

Tracklist:-

1. Contrary To Popular Belief
2. You're Nothing But A Rib To Me
3. Jeremy You're A Sport (For What It's Worth)
4. Blatant Disregard For The Speed Limit


Mosh could be used to describe so many things in metal and is usually abused, but on this case it sums up Today's Friday perfectly at the start of Contrary To Popular Belief. They have a heavy deathcore influence in the deep growls. They employ crushing drums and chugging guitars in the verses and clean singing, to break up the core. I think the growls are an acquired taste, but used in the right way they could be extremely brutal with the right type of backing. Then again, this only their debit EP and so far it's impressive. The modern touch added by the clean singing certainly hints at bigger things. The breakdown at the end of the song has to be heard!

The title track is a more assured song, starting with a spoken word intro and relying less on the deathcore vocals. The riffs in the background are good, but buried slightly in the mix. That doesn't stop the twin guitar harmonies from sounding awesome! The twin guitar kicks off Jeremy You're A Sport (For What It's Worth). I'm now also starting to get "Heartcore" tag too, thanks to the clean singing. As the song builds it's actually really engaging, thanks to the melodic guitar and ideas that creep into the bands music.

Blatant Disregard For The Speed Limit closes things off here. It's over eight minutes long, so I'm expecting a progressive rock opera! It starts promisingly again with a pretty passionate guitar solo. It lasts almost a minute too! When the verse kicks in, it see Today's Friday going back to their deathcore inspired sound, alongside hints of Avenged Sevenfold and some good, almost regimental drumming. It certainly seems like a long song, as the pace isn't too fast, but the musicianship makes up for that in spades. The rock opera thing comes true too, as a huge and impressive guitar solo sees the song and the EP out in style.

Overall, as a debut EP, this is a pretty good effort. They are skilled musically and can write some good hooks, so I can't wait to see how their debut album turns out. They've assured me that it'll blow this EP out the water!

As with many other releases from From The Depths Entertainment, you can download this EP for free at http://ge.tt/6Fb73ki and you should!

You can also keep track on how Today's Friday are getting on with their debut album on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/todaysfridayband.

Muknal - Muknal 12"


Muknal are a new black/death metal trio from the USA. This is there debut three track demo, which was originally pressed on tape but has been released on 12" vinyl by Hells Headbangers. Muknal's members go by the names of Anxiety, Vahxak and Impious and they are already gaining notoriety in the catacombs of the black/death underground.

Tracklist:-

1. Cruciation
2. Rotten Genesis
3. Eidolon

This 12" has a very different sound to the Blackened Wisdom release I just reviewed.
It's more modern sounding, which I guess befits Muknal, as they are a modern band.
The build up of Cruciation is an encompassing one and Muknal's take on the black/death theme is very different. They use a lot of other textures and sounds to make their sound come alive. When the main verse kicks in, the instrumentation has a really evil undertone and the vocals lean more to black metal, with low growls and occasional high shrieks. These songs are longer in length too and employ murky, slower textures in places.

The brooding atmosphere is carried into Rotten Genesis. The intro guitar passage is a joy to hear. Not over-complicated, but menacing enough to remind you that Muknal are not messing around. As I've said before, the musical textures they weave are brilliant and at times sound otherworldly. The percussion here is a lot faster, especially the crashing cymbals and the guitars thrash away creating an energetic wall of sound. The vocals remain on the low side, to emphasise their death metal influences.

Closing song Eidolon is a shorter, more immediate slice of black metal. It underlines the chaos that Muknal are looking to achieve, but in a controlled way. Again, this is a truly harrowing song the Impious's vocals are in full flow. The sludgy undertones that reared their heads in the two previous songs make a brief appearance here, but they go even further to underline the skill of Muknal, in being able to weave different metal genres into their ungodly sound.

For a demo, this is excellent and certainly shows off their song-writing skills and passion for their genre. it deserved a release on vinyl and alongside their recent split with The Haunting Presence, it won't be long before Muknal are being talked about in much wider circles.

Now much like Blackened Wisdom before them, Muknal are not on Facebook or other social media site. Nor is their music, so again head over to Hells Headbangers to hear teasers for these tracks and to pick up a copy of this record - http://shop-hellsheadbangers.com/muknal.asp.

Blackened Wisdom - The Angels Are Crying 7"



Renowned bringer of evil black/death/thrash metal Hells Headbangers has put out a slew of vinyl only releases. I've decided to review all six of them fairly close together, for convenience. Also, because I think that's how it should be. Anyway, here's the first. This is a three track 7" from a band called Blackened Wisdom. Blackened Wisdom formed in 1992 in Nebraska, but unfortunately broke up before they had the chance to release this record. This is finally seeing a release now, thanks to Hells Headbangers.

Blackened Wisdom is also special, as the band features members of other esteemed death metal bands. Bill Taylor who plays guitars and does vocals here, has spent time in Immolation, Angelcorpse, Xenomorph and Feldgrau amongst others. Second guitarist Dan Kohler and drummer Mike Gushar are from Laceration. They also feature Rich Sheibal on bass.

Tracklisting:-

A1 - After Me Come The Flames
A2 - I, Eternal
B1 - The Angels Are Crying


This is as raw as you'd like it. Its evil blackened death metal at it's best. After Me Comes The Flames is fast, thanks to the drumming and raging guitars and Bill Taylor's vocals are terrifying. This 7" sounds exactly like it should have sounded in 1993. It's worth noting that the tracks here have been lying dormant since they were recorded, so they have not be re-recorded, but just pressed straight onto vinyl and that helps them sound authentic. It takes you back to a time when black/death metal was truly scary.

As well the black and death metal influences though, there is an element of thrash in the music, which is no surprise. I, Eternal is a much more mid-paced song. It weighs in at close to three minutes, which is just right, as this is pretty intense. Before you've had time to blink, closing b-side track The Angels Are Crying kicks in with the sound of rain and thunder. Again the intro is mid-paced but heavy as hell and the wailing guitar provides some unheard flair. The guitars are chugging and again, Bill Taylor's high-pitched shriek chills you to the bone. After the extended instrumental section, The Angels Are Crying ends in a flurry of whirlwind blackened thrash.

This is low-fi, it's loud and it's exactly as the band intended for it to sound. If you like your old-school death metal tinged with black, you'll love this record. It's a piece of untold history that's finally seen the light of day and needs to be heard.

 This 7" is not up for full streaming, but you can hear teasers here http://shop-hellsheadbangers.com/EPblackened_wisdom.asp.

The above link also takes to you to the Hells Headbangers store, where you can pick up the 7", with the first 100 records being on coloured vinyl and including a lyric insert.

Thursday 11 October 2012

Deviator - Fehu - Fohat - Fire


This is the latest full-length from Ukrainian ambient black metal band Deviator. It follows on from the 2011 compilation Way of Warriors, Hymn To Immortals, which I reviewed a while ago. Fehu - Fohat - Fire is Deviator's third full length, although that band have released a number of demos, splits and EPs since their inception in 2007.

I was lucky enough to receive a physical copy all the way from Deviator themselves. It was produced in cooperation between Depressive Illusions Records and lead creator, Lord Hastner's own label Kundalini Records and is only limited to 101 worldwide. The packaging and the artwork is top notch, so I was really excited to listen to the contents.

Tracklisting:-

1. Long Road To Salvation
2. Cost of Freedom
3. Way of Warriors - Hymn to Immortals
4. Eternity of Blood
5. My Thoughts...They Have No Rest (Winter Depression Cover)
6. Burning Bridges Become Ashes


As anyone who has listened to Deviator's music in the past will know, there is a heavy leaning towards ambient textures in their music and that shows through in the initial piano of opener Long Road To Salvation. This is merely an introduction though, to the frostbitten cold that lies ahead. The whispered vocals in Lord Hastner's native tongue at the start of Cost Of Freedom sent chills down my spine. The black metal that then presents itself is equally as chilling. Deviator is essentially a solo effort by Lord Hastner, who tends to play all instruments on recordings. The recording itself is very clean and clear, but it stills retains the essence of an organic black metal record, where the music seems more alive than more over-produced black metal albums can sound.

Way of Warriors - Hymn To Immortals was the title-track on Deviator's 2011 compilation but here it sounds a lot heavier, especially in the opening bars. The double bass can be heard in the background grinding away and the vocals are low screams that sound almost blood curdling. There are clean vocals the chaos, but these even manage to sound as possessed as when Lord Hastner is screaming. There are a lot of twists and turns to this song, as it's over seven and a half minutes in length, but the ideas used in it are varied and definitely add to the sense of foreboding that Deviator try to create. There are moments of sludge inspired riffage here as well as some subtle introspective passages that show a very mature style of musicianship and song writing.

There definitely seems to be different influences creeping into Deviator's music on Fehu - Fohat - Fire. Some of guitar melodies and textures used seem to take cues from a lot of traditional metal, yet still retain their black metal essence. This is especially true of Eternity of Blood. I'd go as far to say that the opening riffs are even hummable! In parts, this album sounds very uplifting but as Deviator will probably attest, this is meant in a cosmic way and not an emotional way. The penultimate song, My Thoughts...They Have No Rest, is a cover of fellow Ukrainian ambient black metal band Winter Depression. The song originally appeared on a split called Autumnal Melancholie, which was between Winter Depression and a band called Zarach "Baal" Tharagh, a similar entity from France. This song is purely instrumental and has some heavenly piano at it's core.

The closing song Burning Bridges Become Ashes. This sees Deviator switch back to their cold black metal sound. The rhythm section and the guitars seem a lot faster at times in this song, yet it still retains that melody which pleases me in black metal. It's kind of symphonic but not in a cheesy way. It adds a strong dimension to the album. That metal influence creeps in again at certain points, which again, is nice to hear. For someone who wasn't familiar with black metal below what was featured in the bigger metal publications, I feel at home listening to this. Fehu - Fohat - Fire is an assured record, which should help, gain Deviator more popularity, if they want it! It's well produced, well written and leaves you longing for eternal darkness!

You can here Eternity Of Blood, from Fehu - Fohat -Fire at Deviator's website -  http://www.wix.com/hastner/black-flame.

You can also purchase a copy of the CD from Depressive Illusions Records at http://depressiveillusions.com/.

Deviator is also on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/DeviatorOfficial-Epic-BlackDeath-Metal.