Thursday, 28 March 2013

Seven Sisters of Sleep - Opium Morals


Seven Sisters of Sleep are slowly becoming one of the most revered acts on the A389 roster. With new record Opium Morals under their belts and future releases coming via Feast Of Tentacles and the mouthwatering A389 RSD offering, this promises to be their year. The ten tracks stowed away on this record promise a mixture of caustic hardcore and smouldering sludge.

Tracklisting:-

1. Ghost Plains
2. Moths
3. The Flock
4. Grindstone
5. Sunday Mass Grave
6. Orphans
7. Reaper Christ
8. White Braid
9. Recitation Fire
10. Part 2

The metallic roar of feedback greets you as Ghost Plains rings out of the speakers. This gives way to some of the heaviest sludge ridden hardcore you're likely to hear this year. The vocals are deep bellows that morph into screams; the guitars/bass thrash out low riffs and drums just simply flail in controlled chaos. The crescendoing melody that's occasionally let loose by the guitars are worth waiting for too, heralding a grooved-out depravity. Before you know it, the opener has come and gone and Moths is taking over. There's no gap between the songs, so they flow perfectly into one another. That brooding melody is there again and with the extended instrumental passage, it just builds your anticipation further. That anticipation is about to spill over as the vocals burst into sight and the heaviness reaches the next level. Only two tracks in and already blown away!

It's actually really hard pinpointing SSOS's genre, so I'm not going to bother. If you like the slower, hallucinogenic strains of hardcore then chances are you'll find solace in Opium Morals. They have a tendency to play shorter songs too, preferring to go for the jugular straight away instead of going round the houses to get their. Grindstone is a great example of this, with a pace that thrusts more urgency into the record. I'm trying to think of the last time I heard a record as powerful as this and I really can't! The thrash elements and blastbeats keep going during Sunday Mass Grave, which is crushing beyond belief, even as it fades out at the end. The brief rest between Sunday Mass Grave and Orphans is rudely interrupted by more ringing feedback. Orphans doesn't quite have the same impact in its delivery but that's only due to SSOS playing around with time signatures, which break up the power in a fluid way. 

They just keep on hitting the spot as they blast through Reaper Christ and Recitation Fire. White Braid has one of the craziest opening riffs I've hard in ages too. Part 2 pretty much ends Opium Morals in the same way it began and leaves you feeling like you've just been beaten continuously with a baseball bat, such is the impact of this record. I think that in-spite of its obvious heaviness; Opium Morals is a simple album. It's not overdone and SSOS don't fill it with unfocused ideas. They stick to what they know and just play it well, proving that you don't have to beard-strokingly obscure to write a huge sounding record.

If you haven't already, you can listen to the whole album via the A389 bandcamp page below:-


You can buy the album from either the above bandcamp link of via http://www.a389records.com.

Decrepitaph/Humiliation - Split 7"


This is the latest split seven inch to come from UK extreme metal label Eldritch Lunar Miasma Record and Dybbuk Records in Mexico. It features a new track from US death metal band Decrepitaph and a new song from Malaysian death metallers Humiliation. The 7" is limited to 500 copies. 100 on Green vinyl and 400 on white. Metal Archives says that the Decrepitaph song was recorded back in 2007 and that the lyrics to the song have become lost over the years. Not sure if it's true but it would suggest why it's only seeing the light of day now.

Tracklist:-

Side A - Decrepitaph
1. The Carnal Slumber

Side B - Humiliation
2. Enemy's Perimeter

So Decrepitaph go first on this split. They play a raw style of death metal, especially on this 7". It's fast and the vocals are suitably low. The drums seem to lurch over everything else on this recording, with the guitars sitting in the background. The Carnal Slumber does feature some slower sections, so it's not all blastbeats. The mid-section sees Decrepitaph slow things down considerably and lets that low bass rumble come to the forefront of the song. It's brutally heavy but not overpowering like many death metal releases and Decrepitaph are good at weaving variation into their sound. Some people may find it a bid to raw for their tastes though.

Humiliation enters on side B with Enemy's Perimeter. These Malaysian deathsters are influences by war and have a meatier sound than Decrepitaph did on the other side. They too switch between pacier and slower sections, although they favour faster music overall. The production is more even here too, with the guitars being allowed more room in the mix, with the drums sounding very good. Variation wise though they stick to more of a rigid blueprint, which actually fits their style of death metal very well. A larger audience will appreciate the more modern sound, but this split does a great job of highlighting two bands with different approached and styles, which is what the format is best at.

You can stream the split via ELM Rec's Soundcloud page below:-



You can purchase physical copies of the split from the stores below:-

Eldritch Lunar Miasma Records - http://www.eldritchlunarmiasma.com/mailorder/vinyl.html
Dybbuk Records - http://www.facebook.com/DybbukRecords

Decrepitaph can be found at http://www.decrepitaph.com and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/decrepitaph
Humiliation can be found at http://www.humiliation.my

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Abstracter - Tomb of Feathers


So, I'm back to my short-lived voyage into the underbelly of metal. Today, I'm bringing you the three-track "Tomb of Feathers" tape from Oakland, CA's Abstracter. This tape was released around September 2012 and features music that straddles the lines between doom, crust and black metal. This was released by The Path Less Traveled Records. Abstracter have recently shared the stage with fellow noise mongers Children of God.

Tracklisting:-

1. Walls That Breathe
2. To Vomit Crows
3. Ash

The three tracks contained on Tomb of Feathers are log, twisting beasts. Abstracter build their atmosphere with a lengthy intro sampling rain and thunder similar in vein to what you here on some black metal releases. They also favour majestic instrumental intros, like at the start of opening song Walls That Breathe. When the vocals do kick in, they are cleanly song and more akin to that of doom metal in style to start with, before launching into low, stench ridden growls. That description above is doing Abstracter a bit of an injustice though, as the sound they create is not just heavy but also strangely cleansing. That mixture between doom and black metal works really well, especially with the meaty low end. The distorted guitar is enough to shake the foundations of even the sturdiest of buildings and reduce it to mere rubble. That being said, that impact is not immediate, such is the subtlety and groove of Abstracter's song writing.

With To Vomit Crows, Abstracter ratchet up their heaviness to another level. They focus less on clean vocals and more on occult atonal screams and low bellows. Abstracter's ability to weave subtle rock n roll elements and other influences into their music makes it even more endearing. They haven't overdone anything and have managed to keep their integrity. Even the long length of the songs is no issue, due to the craft inside them. The riff at the start of Ash may not sit right with some people due to it's tuning, but it sets the tone perfectly. Those low, dark riffs give way to light in the form of occasional melody and even the vocals, which are more akin to chanting, brings things round. Ash is the lengthiest song on Tomb of Feathers, but it caps of the tape perfectly. It twists and turns through different phases, each with different intricacies yet following a set path. Sometimes music like this can feel improvised and suffers from a lack of focus but not in Abstracter's case.

It's clear and mature and thanks to the good production, stands out as a highlight for me. 40 minutes of utter, bestial bliss!

You can stream the whole tape via The Path Less Traveled Record's bandcamp page below:-


Through the above page you can also buy both digital download and physical tape versions of Tomb of Feathers.

Abstracter can be found at  http://abstracterband.com and http://www.facebook.com/ABSTRACTER
The Path Less Traveled Records can be found at http://www.thepathlesstraveledrecords.com and at http://www.facebook.com/TPLTR.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Krieg/Gravecode Nebula - Split 7"


The stark silhouetted noose on the cover of this split hints at the evil inside. That evil comes in the shape of New Jersey's Krieg and Salt Lake City's Gravecode Nebula. Both bands play forms of black metal and this two song split was released by California, USA label Baneful Genesis Records. This split was actually released back in the middle of 2011 on amazing Grey w/black swirl vinyl. I was given the opportunity to write about some of Baneful's releases, so I thought I'd start with something to wet your black metal appetites/

Tracklist:-

1. Gravecode Nebula - Midas
2. Krieg - Life Is Cheap (Flipper cover)

Starting with Gravecode Nebula's song Midas, you get just over six minutes of strangely upbeat black metal. The guitars have low-down tone to them and the drums blast out an almost black "n" roll beat. It's a great departure from the usual anti-everything black metal that's piercing the underground at the moment. Gravecode Nebula slow things down to more a crawl though about two minutes in, creating more of a doom-ridden/experimental atmosphere, with some really low growls and chanting vocals over the top.  Their sound is very forward thinking overall and throws some much needed differentiation into the genre.

Krieg have a more necro sound. Life Is Cheap, which is a Flipper cover, has some really cool deep vocals, but also some almost echoed, higher vocals in the background. They are pretty strange and some people may find them grating, but then this split was never supposed to be normal! The song itself is more mid-paced, with none of the experimental dynamics that Gravecode Nebula used. Both bands certainly give a good account of themselves on here and it highlights again exactly what the split format tries to achieve. Throwing two stylistically similar bands together with different takes on the genre is a great way to get them exposure to different audiences and even though it's brief, it's well worth immersing yourself in. 

This split it streaming via the Baneful Genesis Records bandcamp page and you can hear it below:-
 

You can download this split digitally from the above bandcamp page, or you can buy one of ten remaining physical copies. I'd recommend snapping up a vinyl copy before they are gone forever, as they look awesome.

Both band have Facebook profiles so you can keep up to date with what they're doing - 
Krieg - http://www.facebook.com/officialkrieg
Gravecode Nebula - http://www.facebook.com/gravecodenebula

Baneful Genesis Records are at  http://www.banefulgenesis.com and http://www.facebook.com/pages/Baneful-Genesis-Records.

Outrage CC - Demo 2012


I'm taking a brief break from my current voyage, to bring you a review of this demo from Cardiff hardcore band Outrage CC. These caught the eye of Church of Fuck who made their demo one of the last tapes it would release, before stepping up and releasing vinyl in the future. This demo is five tracks of solid hardcore, that's a bit of a departure from what CoF previously put out, but then variation is no bad thing and everything has been top notch so far and continues to be so. Outrage CC also features ex/current members of some of the UK's most recent hardcore heavyweights, including CrossBreaker, Ironclad and Wardogs amongst others, so you know this is gonna be good.

In terms of demo itself, it came in a clear case. The tape is white with white labels and the band's logo on one side, as well as another motif on the back. The cover insert also contains a band photo, the song titles and inside, the lyrics too the songs which is cool. Check out my dodgy picture below -


Tracklist:-

1. Intro/Hollow Life
2. Eye of The Storm
3. L&D
4. Wait A Lifetime
5. Scars

This is hardcore with a punk-vibe, it's punchy and the kind of music you'd be fist pumping to life. Intro/Hollow Life has a macho-hardcore feel as well, but the vocals are screamed with anger and passion. Outrage CC throw in the odd well placed lead too, which marks them out from other bands playing the same type of hardcore. Solid! From here on in, they get faster and harder. You can only imagine the state of the circle pits during Eye of The Storm. A minute and a half of guitar driven chaos with some nice drumming to boot.

These guys seem to get heavier with each song. They prefer to go straight for the jugular instead of being all introspective, which is what you want from your hardcore sometimes. They display enough mosh to get you moving, but don't overdo the breakdowns and the production doesn't sound too polished, which suits their sound pretty well. L&D is fast as hell and Wait A Lifetime has subtle groove to it, which is nice to hear.  It seems that UK hardcore is getting better with each band that appears and as Scars blasts out of the speakers it's easy to see why. Outrage CC mix things up but don't take too much from the much-copied US style and make this brand of chug their own. If this is what Cardiff hardcore is about, I want more!

Hopefully we'll be hearing more from these guys soon. You can hear the whole demo for yourselves below:-


In terms of the demo, you can download it directly from CoF's bandcamp page above. The tape has sold out and did so pretty much straight away.

Outrage CC are on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/outragecc.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Zombiefication - Reaper's Consecration


It's time for the second of that voyage I started yesterday. This time featuring Mexican death metal band  Zombiefication. I believe they are a two-piece, but their Facebook page says there's five of them, so I presume that must be their live configuration. This is their five track EP Reaper's Consecration, which was released in July 2012 by the might Pulverized Records. Zombiefication have just released a new record, which will be reviewed shortly, but I wanted to your ears up with this one first.

Tracklist:-

1. Dead Today, Dust Tomorrow
2. Deathrides
3. Necrohell
4. I Am the Reaper
5. We Stand Alone

Zombiefication play a grand form of death metal. It's mid-paced and old school, but with good production values. The guitar intro to Dead Today, Dust Tomorrow has a nice metallic edge to it, but then the verse kicks in and it rumbles away in the background alongside the bass. The kick-drums pound out a furious beat, even though it doesn't go at warp-speed and for that, it sounds more effective. The vocals are fervent in delivery but not inaudible. There's more a traditional feel to Reaper's Consecration and with the echo effects on the Mr Hitchcock's vocals, is sounds a lot more menacing. Death Rides has more urgency about and the screams are more crazed than in the opener. The screaming solo that they put into the song is awesome too!

They certainly air on the side of thrash too. It's not blackened thrash as such, but does have that feel to it. It mainly comes across in the low end during Necrohell. I'm only three tracks into this EP and I'm grinning from ear-to-ear. Death metal may become very saturated over the last year or so, but there are still epic bands coming to the fore, like Zombiefication. We Stand Alone has great melody to it, although it's not overused and Zombiefication keep their integrity and menacing atmosphere. There's quite a strange tone OT the guitars, it's not one I've really heard before. It sounds a bit like it's being played through an old transistor radio at times, but it's fits the overall music well. Zombiefication finish up with the brutal, I am The Reaper. That means there's one last chance to windmill! That low, hypnotic guitar chug is there again, as it the powerful and fast drumming. It is more stop-start that previous songs, but when they play like this they deserve a break before picking up the pace again.

This EP is meant to wet your appetite for their new release and it sure does that. It's heavy and evil, but it has a charm and fluency about it. Long live Zombiefication!

Dead Today, Dust Tomorrow and I Am The Reaper are both streaming on Zombiefication's Soundcloud page. I've posted them here directly from the Soundcloud page for you to experience for yourselves:-

I Am The Reaper


Dead Today, Dust Tomorrow



You can buy the EP from Pulverised Records at http://pulverised.bigcartel.com/.

You can keep up to date with new regarding Zombiefication via their website at http://www.zombiefication.com and via Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/zombiefication666.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Hic Iacet - Prophecy of Doom 7"


The next stop on my voyage is the often stormy port of Hells Headbangers and the Prophecy of Doom 7" from Spanish black/death metallers Hic Iacet. The was released on October the 31st 2012. It features two thrashing songs of deathly proportions. This 7" was also the band's first release since singing with Hells Headbangers, having first released a demo called Hedonist of the Death in 2011, which has also been released on 12" vinyl by Hells Headbangers.

Tracklisting:-

1. Ritual I: Elevation of Sun
2. Ritual II: Prophecy of Doom

Hic Iacet play suitably nasty death metal with a black-metal influence thrown in for good measure. Ritual I: Elevation of Sun feature low, almost gargled vocals and a thrashing instrumental attack underneath. In typical black/death metal style, the production is suitably old-school, with the guitars and cymbals battling it out
for your ears when the vocals are silent. The guitars let out a sinister melody in the mid section and the mid-paced passage itself is head spinning. Some people though, will find it hard to follow this due to the recording/production values, but it most certainly best listened to in it's vinyl form.

They follow the same blueprint during the title track Ritual II: Prophecy of Doom. It's equally as metallic and gruesome in it's delivery. The guitars sound like chainsaws throughout and if you try headbanging to it, you're head is sure to come clean off. I think Hic Iacet would be heavy as hell in a live setting and even though this 7" only features two songs, it's prepares you for future material. If you are a sucker for black/death in this form, you'll lap this up. The doom-ridden guitar elements in the song really add a deep-down, dirty feel. Extreme isn't the word!

Hells Headbangers have thrown a teaser up of this 7" via their bandcamp page. Check it out below:-


You can purchase the full 7" here http://shop-hellsheadbangers.com/metal if you like what you hear above.

Hic Iacet don't seem to be on any social media site but you can find more information on Hells Headbangers.

Bong - Mana-Yood-Sushai


Today is a bit of a voyage into the more obscure echelons of metal. I decided to focus on some artists and bands that were more mysterious and less obvious. I start this voyage with Bong. Bong are a drone/doom metal band from our fair isle. Newcastle to be exact. They've been making music since 2007 and have been extremely prolific since then. This record, Mana-Yood-Sushai was released in May 2012 via Ritual Productions and is their fourth full-length to date, featuring two extreme and experimental tracks.

Tracklist:-

1. Dreams of Mana-Yood-Sushai
2. Trees, Grass and Stones


Bong begins Mana-Yood-Sushai with the slow building and minimal song Dreams of Mana-Yood-Sushai. It starts with minimal guitar and bass, which creates an atmospheric soundscape as well as intrigue in the listener. The song has more in common with noise/ambient style songs at this point but you feel that it's just leading up to something. The droning bass still underpins the music and sits deep in the mix alongside the drums. There are chanting vocals within the song, but these are used minimally, so as not distract too much from the instrumentation. The guitar solo within Dreams of Mana-Yood-Sushai is very hypnotic. It takes its cues from Westerns in a way but it played in a very ethereal manner.

Trees, Grass and Stones follows in very similar fashion, but with more of a bass rumble. There's a hint of middle-eastern influences as the guitar melodies pierce the drone. This song again feels very experimental and unlike Dreams of Mana-Yood-Sushai, the song in completely instrumental this time. You'll find that it lumbers forward at a slower pace and is more experimental, but that only serves to heighten the sense of wonder that Bong generates. It's also more musical than you'd expect from a drone/doom band. Normally the music can be very atonal and fuzzy, but this is far from that. The production is clear and the entire song is really listenable.

Overall, despite my review pack having the song titles mixed up, this record serves as a stellar reminder that drone/doom can be musical and that by experimenting but being subtle with it, you can create a truly beautiful soundscape that surpasses people’s expectations.

You can find various streams of singles tracks from the album on metal websites, such as at http://www.cvltnation.com/bong-stream/, but the album itself is not fully streaming anywhere.

You can here other music from Bong via their bandcamp page - http://bong.bandcamp.com/

You'll find Bong on Myspace at http://www.myspace.com/landbong and you can order physical copies of Mana-Yood-Sushai via Ritual Productions at http://www.ritualproductions.net/.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Cosmonauts Day - Paths of The Restless


Well, it's freezing and snowing outside here and I have no wish to step out of my front door. Instead I'm gonna warm myself with some atmospheric metal from Russian's Cosmonauts Day. Firstly though an apology, as this has been sat in my review pile for sometime. Cosmonauts Day are a four piece and this is their debut album, featuring eight tracks.

Tracklist:-

1. The Captain
2. The Art Of Being Nothing
3. Cave of Trees
4. Rift
5. Blackout
6. Satellite
7. The Great Disease
8. The Last Watchman

There's a huge sense of anticipation as The Captain whirrs into life. There's a low-end riff underpinning the melodic guitars that create the intro, which leads to into a more structured instrumental passage. The Captain is made up of very skilfully played instrumental music where the guitars provide the melody and hint at the bands experimentation. At eight minutes in length, it's a long song to start with but it sets the scene for what's to come. Cosmonauts Day are able flit between lengthy compositions and shorter pieces, like second track The Art of Being Nothing. Here the drums come to the fore a lot more and provide good direction for the rest of the band. The song has some epic thrash metal overtones and there's not the histrionics you associate with progressive metal, but for me it could do with some vocals over the top to add some extra colour. That's a minor complaint though.

Cave Of Trees takes the band back to lengthier climbs. There are some middle-eastern influences in some of the opening melodies, which is nice to hear. The song has the kind of pace to it that would equally mesmerise you and have headbanging in a slow but violent manner! Sitting and staring out of my window at the perfect white sky, while listening to this record is very trippy, but I guess that's the kind of effect that the band is going for. These guys have immense talent. Their songs are progressive, but they're not complex. They're simple and easy to appreciate and Cosmonauts day should be rewarded for that.  Rift and Blackout both provide shorter snippets of the band's epic sound, with subtle experimentation and restraint, although Blackout features a lot of feedback and is a little bit of a departure from their cleaner sound.

As they approach the final trio of songs, there sound changes again. Satellite seems to have more pop-sensibilities too it, with a danceable rhythm and some nice clean guitar that's the main component of the song. The Great Disease winds through ten minutes of dreamy melodies and subtle textures, which are absolute pleasure to listen too. There's even a siren like voice in the background, which fits with the music and draws you in further. It's gets heavier towards the end of the song, with driving guitar and more powerful drumming. The leads guitar works helps take the edge off it though and just leads to an epic ending! 

They finish of Paths Of The Restless with The Last Watchman. More clean guitars allow you to calm down after the rousing end to The Great Disease. It also puts into perspective how good this album is. Okay, it's purely instrumental and as such there are no vocals, but in the end that's not a bad thing. Cosmonauts Day pull it off very well indeed and are mature enough not to overdo things. Amazing!

Escape the stresses of daily existence by listening to the entire record on bandcamp below:-


You can purchase digital download or CD versions from the above page, plus a number of different merch packages.

Drop by their Facebook page too at http://www.facebook.com/cosmonautsday.

Death Tripper/Meatpacker - Split 7"


Here's another crazy ass split record for you to get you teeth into.This eleven song split features Nottingham/Derby d-beat bruisers Death Tripper and Leicester's one-man grind terror unit Meatpacker.
The split was released right at the start of the year and both bands have been playing some sick shows since then. Death Tripper recently played alongside Cloud Rat, Lich and Moloch in Nottingham and both bands played with Black Mass and We Came Out Like Tigers in February too. They certainly ain't crowd shy!

Tracklist:-
Death Tripper -
1. I Digress
2. Forego
3. Sleeping Like A Corpse
Meatpacker -
4. Knocker
5. Sticker
6. Shackler
7. Rumper
8. First Legger
9. Knuckle Dropper
10. Navel Boner
11. Splitter Top/Bottom Butt

Death Tripper start things off with three tracks. I Digress is a raging monster, filled with initial screeching feedback and an extended instrumental intro. It's a sub two minute blast of crust infected hardcore. Awesome first impression! Things get nastier from here on in with Forego grinding it's way through thirty four seconds. Sleeping Like A Corpse is Death Trippers third contribution to the split and also the longest song to feature on it, at two minutes. It features more feedback before the band launch into one final crust-ridden assault. The vocals are low screams, the drums and cymbals crash along at warp speed during the verses but the band isn’t afraid of sticking a lengthy guitar dirge into the mid-section. The guitars make an ungodly noise and thanks to a decent production, sound ace.

It's on to Meatpacker's side now. Eight fast as hell, grind songs with distorted vocals, off-kilter time signatures and rabid drums. Knocker and Sticker fly passed too quickly. Shackler is intense, with the drums sound like a drum machine in overdrive. This is definitely some of the nastiest solo grind I've heard in the UK for ages and makes me want to explore more of it. Some of the guitar riffs and textures in the music make you stand up and take note, especially during First Legger. Meatpacker stands up against the meat industry in his music and even though it's hard to make the lyrics, you can tell he's angry! The sound is harsher than on Death Tripper's side, but it doesn't have that bedroom-sound that you expect from most grind projects of this type. As final song Splitter Top/Bottom But rings out of your speakers, you're sitting jaw agape wondering what just happened. 

Both bands put on a good show. Meatpacker are utterly nuts and Death Tripper, while only having three songs on here, sound equally as impressive. This split again highlights the how useful the format has become in bringing two different bands together, with different sounds but with the sole purpose of getting their music out there. I for one will be investing in the seven inch very soon. You should too!

You can stream the entire split on both Death Tripper's bandcamp - http://deathtripper.bandcamp.com/ and Meatpacker's bandcamp - http://meatpacker.bandcamp.com/ pages. I've stuck a stream below:-


You can also purchase the split in a name-your-price download or physical vinyl format from both bandcamp pages (I'd buy the vinyl if I was you!) 

Death Tripper can be found at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Death-Tripper 
Meatpacker can be found at http://www.facebook.com/Meatpacker

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Esoteric Youth/Prelude To The Hunt - Split Tape


This is the first of a trio of Church of Fuck Tape reviews, which will eventually reach the end of the first chapter for one of the UK's most prolific labels (in both quality and quantity) in recent years. This split between Manchester's own Esoteric Youth and Aberdeen's Prelude To The Hunt has been very eagerly awaited for those in the know and after EY's Demo tape left a pretty stubborn mark on UK hardcore scene last year, it was worth the wait to see what they produced next. The same can be said for Prelude To The Hunt too. They've been building up steadily and have helped to put Scotland on the map with their brand of sludgy hardcore.

I want to mention the artwork thought before I jump into the review itself. The cover art above is pretty savage, as you'd expect and should give you a clue as to the tape's contents. When you open the case up you're with flowers! Yes you heard me right, have a look at the pictures below and you'll see what I mean:-




I think you'll agree, even though it's a little disconcerting seeing the Church Of Fuck logo atop of flower and blue sky, the overall effect is great and the tape looks as good as ever. Now onto the tape...

It features two songs from each band. One original and one cover song.

Tracklist:-

Side A - Esoteric Youth
1. Instinct
2. Minerva (Deftones Cover)

Side B - Prelude To The Hunt
3. Tomb World
4. Reparations (Cursed Cover)

Opener Instinct is Esoteric Youth's own song and the only word to describe it is savage. It's a bit of a departure from the sound the employed on their demo. Out goes some of the more sludge-ridden hardcore and in comes a faster more urgent slab of angry noise. The crunching guitars and fast drums make the perfect backdrop for those harsh, screamed vocals. EY's second track is a cover of the Deftones song Minerva. This is an awesome choice of song to cover and EY keep the majestic atmosphere of the original in tacked, with some subtle ambient melody, which is sat in the mix. The vocal attack though adds a new sense of menace to the song and with the pounding of the cymbals makes it sound huge!

Onto Prelude To The Hunt's side now. They also start with an original song, Tomb World. Prelude To The Hunt play a more sludge-influenced brand of hardcore here. It's a lot slower in the verses and there's a more obvious low-end rumble from the bass. There is some treble hiding in the mix, but overall it's bass heavy with flecks of feedback here there. Prelude To The Hunt throw in a cover of Reparations by Cursed. This is more in keeping with their sound and they make it their own. These guys have really come on a lot recently. They've kept the main elements from Tomb World and applied it ti this song, with the same bass-heavy influence. The addition of more drum fills in both songs gives you the sense that a lot going on and live, it must be pretty high energy.

At the end of the day, it's best not to try to over-analyse the contents, which is something I'm probably guilty of. It's better to just stick it and rage! These bands and this tape are exactly what's so good with the UK's hardcore scene oop North at the moment. It also shows that Church of Fuck is still upping its game, just when you thought it couldn’t surpass what it’s already done. 2013 really is the YEAR OF STRENGTH!
You can stream the tape via CoF's bandcamp page below:-


In terms of the tape itself, it's sold out via the CoF store, but you can still download as a pay-what-you-want download from the above link. Any money paid for downloads is put straight back into the label for future releases, so give generously.

Esoteric Youth can be found at http://www.facebook.com/esotericyouth
Prelude To The Hunt can be found at http://www.facebook.com/preludetothehunt
Church of Fuck are over at http://www.facebook.com/churchoffck 

Friday, 15 March 2013

Aguirre - S/T


Okay, so I seem to be going through a bit of a screamo phase at the moment, well actually a French screamo phase! This is another CD from Orchidscent Records. Aguirre are a French screamo type band and this is their six track self-titled CD. Like the other records I've reviewed recently, all the lyrics are in French. It was also released by a co-operative of four labels, the aforementioned Orchidscent Records, Maldoror, Dream Comes True and Emotionally Unstable. I've recently learned that Aguirre are no longer a band.

Before I review the CD itself though, I wanted to talk about them packaging, because as you can see from the cover above it's pretty special.


Dodgy photo apart, the CD and liner booklet comes in an awesome five panel, foldout sleeve encased in that funky artwork.


Inside, the CD is housed in a further black envelope, with the foldout liner notes and more Spirograph inspired artwork. All in all it's really nice and there's more and more of this type of packaging being produced by DIY labels which is certainly better than the drab, plain plastic CD cases that mainstream labels are using.

Onto the CD itself then....

Tracklist:-

1. Desordre
2. Cercles
3. Longtemps
4. Raclure
5. Morts De Rire
6. Murmures

On first listen to Desordre, Aguirre have a kind of garage-punk twinned with AFI style sound. It's not as harsh as some of the previous music I've reviewed. The vocals are a mix of spoken/sung/screamed and all in French. The guitars a clean, melodic and the drums throw out some great rhythms. They certainly like the instrumental side of screamo, as the vocals are used sparingly. When they are used though, they do jump out at you thanks to clear production and their position in the mix. The sound of Cercles is more discordant to begin with, the guitars taking on a fuzzier slant. The song overall in more chaotic and punky, but the mid-passage is really danceable. It's also more stop-start in nature, which adds impact to the different sections.

It's an eye opener listening to different country’s takes on screamo because each band brings their own influences to the fore and plays with a subtle originality when held up against their peers. Aguirre are no exception to this, with each song on the record sounding different. Longtemps has more of a downbeat and menacing feeling to it. The same riff plays through the verses, creating a kind of droning effect. The choruses are more chaotic, especially with the added weight of the bass in the mix. There's a definite DIY element to the music too. Aguirre are quite happy to play what they want to and how they want and with that they retain integrity.

Raclure is initially a calmer song, without the chaos of Longtemps before it. It features a long instrumental build up and then Aguirre jump back into full flow. There's a lot going overall in Aguirre's music and with repeat listens you'll uncover more and more. The contrast between the quieter/Noisier parts of their music are very effective and they don't rely on clich├ęd musical influences, instead going for a more punk inspired tone.

That tone carries on into Morts De Rire. The guitars again flit between discordance and clean, melodic riffs. The way that Aguirre structure their songs makes them seem longer than they actually are, which is an interesting skill to have. As a band they don't write particularly long songs, but I guess the stop start motion changes how you perceive them. Murmures closes things of in the same way that the CD started. More angular but equally danceable and listenable.

Overall, this CD has something very individual about it. It's not your usual screamo record and Aguirre definitely have their own personality and sound. It's well worth picking up.

This CD isn't streaming anywhere so you'll just have to pick up a copy via the below labels:-

Orchidscent Records - http://orchidscentrecords.blogspot.co.uk/
Dream Comes True - http://dreamcomestruehxc.free.fr/ (Site currently under construction but eventually it'll be live)
Emotionally Unstable - http://emotionallyunstablerecords.over-blog.net/

Aguirre are on Myspace at http://www.myspace.com/familleaguirre.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

The Sinking Feeling - The Sinking Feeling EP


A while back I reviewed the Former Rust EP by Hunt/Gather that was released via Glaswegian label Struggletown Records. I've returned to Struggletown for this review, featuring Glasgow punk/emo band The Sinking Feeling, as the label were kind enough to let me review more of their releases.

The Sinking Feeling are a three-piece and this is their debut EP. They are due to play Make Do And Mend later this month too!

Tracklist:-

1. Annual
2. Waterside Rd
3. Hindsight
4. M74

I've said for a while now that I need to review some music that's easier on the ear. More emo/punk type stuff, so I thought I'd start here. The Sinking Feeling has a kind of Alkaline Trio vibe going with more of a rock sound. Opener Annual is a stripped back punk song, with melodic guitar and drums, which bring plenty of energy. The Sinking Feeling to have experimental sensibilities buried within their sound though, with some cool off-kilter time signatures and moments of simple plucked guitar, which nods towards jazz at time.

Waterside Rd is an easy, laid back song perfect for a Sunday. The vocals are sung in the kind of way that makes you take note and sound nice and clear thanks to the production on the EP. The music is mid-paced and relaxed though they do make use of more crunching guitar at times. Their preference for larger instrumental passages in the song also shows a more expansive side to their sound, which is really cool.
The feedback at the end is properly piercing though.

You'll find yourself toe-tapping to Hindsight. It's got that really danceable rhythm to it which must go down really well in a live setting. I can see why they are supporting Make Do And Mend! It's pretty astounding how good this EP is. People think that music has to be really technical and complex to be interesting, but if you sit back and take notice of well-structured music like this, you often find that it's better.

M74 closes the EP and makes you realise that this EP is too short. The male/female vocal harmonies and acoustic guitar finish the EP off with a nice, chilled out vibe. This is the start of a new chapter for my blog, where I'll be mixing things up a little and what a place to start. This is great, so you better play the hell out of it!

You can stream this EP on Struggletown's Bandcamp page:-


You can also download the EP for free from the above Bandcamp page and if you want a physical version, head over to the store at http://struggletown.limitedrun.com/categories/all where you can pick up Blue or Orange tape versions, but be warned they're only limited to 15 copies of each, so move fast if you want one!

The Sinking Feeling are on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TheSinkingFeeling and have a merch store at http://thesinkingfeeling.bigcartel.com/.

Struggletown Records are on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/struggletownrecords.

Friday, 8 March 2013

After Taste - Motifs & Ornements: Partie 1


After Taste are another French hardcore/screamo band that have had music released by Orchidscent Records. This record is a six-track EP and its songs are completely in French. I don't know a huge amount about them apart from that are from Dijon and they're a trio. They did do a split release with Kazan, whose album I reviewed a couple of weeks back.

Tracklist:-

1. Novembre: Nous Sommes Les Fils
2. Mars: Les Forets Rouges
3. Decembre: Les Naufrage Des Epaves
4. Avril: Nous Nous Effacerons
5. Juin: La Ou Meurent Les Pensees
6. Janvier: Aux Mortes Branches

After Taste open up with Novembre, where the band make a tremendous post-hardcore racket. The guitars are incredibly driving in their delivery and the drums pound, to match the screams during the verses. After Taste fit these verses between more introspective passages, where they build atmosphere with their music. It all feels pretty brooding at times but when all is played together, you get a huge sense of the emotion and passion that goes into their songs.

Mars is by far After Taste's most expansive song on the EP, mainly down to it's length and the way the band trades off between off-kilter rhythms and tightly wound screamo. The semi-spoken word elements which are solely in French, like the rest of the lyrics, are spine tingling. After Taste also make use of other instruments in this song too. I could hear subtle brass amongst the noise. Toward the final third of the song, it settles into a kind of head-spinning electronica inspired song before dying away to leave ambient noise and quiet instrumentation. All in all it's a pretty opulent song, especially for just the second track on the EP, but it hints a grand things too and shows After Taste's willingness to think and play outside the box.

After Mars, the band settles down into more familiar territory, with Decembre follows the same blueprint as their opener. More dissonant guitar, with subtle melodies that seem to sit a bit deep in the mix. The mix between screamed and spoken vocals is a good one, although some people may find the screamed vocals a bit grating at times. There's still that element of experimentation that appeared during Mars, which is good as well a post-hardcore slant with louder sections giving way to quieter, introspective moments where the drumming and the bass become more prevalent.

Avril goes a long way to underpinning the menacing side of the band, with song structures that are a little different, different tunings in the guitars and some strings underneath the spoken-word vocals which certainly sound more haunting. That said though, After Taste still possess a powerful quality about them, which sometimes gets lost in other bands when they play around with different time signatures. The moments of clean guitar are used sparingly, which is a bit of shame but in the context of the music on Motifs & Ornements, it does work. I've found myself getting well and truly lost in the drumming on this track and trying to air drum (badly!). Another thing I love with After Taste and other bands that sing in their native languages, is how they fit the lyrics around the music. If they translated them and sung them in English with the same music, it just wouldn't work or sound the same.

Juin is one of the most chaotic songs on Motifs & Ornements. The noise level created by the guitars is pretty ear shattering and thanks to the jarring riffs they create, all the more vivid in their intensity. That chaos though makes the quieter moments more beautiful. I like how a band can follow the same blueprint throughout their records but can somehow make each song sound all of it's own. It's a skill that separates good song-writers from mere okay ones. It gives you as a listener something to cling onto and look forward to while leaving you with the warmth of knowing you're in familiar territory. The song closes with a lullaby style outro too.

Final piece, Janvier wraps up Motifs & Ornements with an amalgamation of everything that's come previously. The drums here for me are especially impressive, as a times they sound like constantly firing machine guns, while other times they hold everything together is a uniform and grooving way. The guitars hypnotise you during their more reigned in moments and the multi-layered vocals that come from After Taste, add almost a 3D element to the song, kind of surrounding you from all sides. After Taste feature elements in their sound that will appeal to a cross section of listeners, whether is be the occasional twinkly emo inspired guitar, to the dark-hardcore vibes and the dissonant, head spinning time signatures of more progressive metal. They paint a healthy picture of the French metal/hardcore scene and are another strong addition to Europe's building repertoire of engaging and though provoking bands. Well worth hunting down!

Motifs and Ornements is streaming on After Taste's Bandcamp page below:-


You can purchase it digitally from there or you can buy the physical CD versions from  two of the three labels (I can't find a link for Another Day Records) that helped to release it below:-

Orchidscent Records - http://orchidscentrecords.blogspot.co.uk/p/release.html
Back To Reality DIY Label & Distro - http://www.back-to-reality.org/index1.html#label

After Taste can be found at the following links:-
Website - http://www.after-taste.com/
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/pages/After-Taste

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Does it make a difference?

A thought occurred to me the other day. For all of those people who write blogs and run websites, do you know whether you are making a difference to bands or labels by doing what you do?

I've had a few really helpful readers/bands/labels pass comment that my blog is making difference, so I thought I'd post some stats on here for you to read, not as an ego boost, but just to show you what can be achieved if you take things a bit seriously.

First up - I've been cataloging the review I've done since I started this blog back in October 2010 to show how things took off and how many reviews I did in my first full year (2011) compared to last year (2012)

2011 - I wrote 30 reviews
2012 - I wrote 181 reviews

So far in 2013 I have already written 37 reviews here.

As I sit here typing this, I have gained 52, 764 readers since the blog began!

Below is the top 10 countries list of those readers:-

United States       20501
United Kingdom  8665
Germany             1817
Russia                 1725
Sweden              1514
Ukraine              1286
Netherlands        1090
Greece               1082
France                725
Canada               720

This shows two things:-

1) That you can truly reach a global audience if you put your mind to it. That list doesn't show the full story though, as it doesn't include all of the other nationalities of people who visit.

2) That the US are looking over to Britain and Europe for genuine opinion and enthusiasm when it comes to metal/hardcore music. That's got to be something to build on!

A good friend of mine runs a full-blown music website and pulls in between 8,000-10,000 readers a month. I'm currently pulling in about 3,500 readers a month to my blog, which is pretty mind-blowing!

A few other stats relating to posts (random)-

Strife - Witness a Rebirth review/Interview - 827 readers
Knife Crimes - Complete Discography review - 227 readers
The Acacia Strain - Death Is The Only Mortal review - 224 readers
Terzij De Horde - Dutch Metal Scene feature/review - 552 readers

I guess the point I'm trying to make with all this is that if you're a blogger/writer and you persevere, you can make a difference and if you're in a band or run a label, blogs can really help to boost exposure for you.

I'd still like to here from people who visit my blog or feel that I've made a difference for your band/label, as I use that feedback to improve for the future.