Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Stone Magnum - From Time...To Eternity + Exclusive track stream!


This Noise Is Ours has always been about championing new bands and labels. Okay, so I do write about better known bands too, but for me it was always discovering new bands that I'd never heard that really got me into metal and hardcore. It was the feeling and satisfaction that you felt when spending hours reading music magazine's, album liner notes and of course the Internet and stumbling across those special bands. I'm not elitist though, far from it, I just found something in metal and hardcore that held my attention and that  I could get really excited about and that is the essence of this blog.

That paragraph brings me to this review. Michigan City doom band Stone Magnum pretty much epitomise it. Forming in 2010 and taking their time to produce a doom-metal sound of their own, before releasing three-track demo and then a self-titled record in 2012 via founding member, Dean Tavernier's label Rest In Peace Records. They have just released their second full length earlier this year, again through Rest In Peace Records. From Time...To Eternity is seven expansive tracks of doom that only the US could produce.

Tracklist:-

1. From Time...To Eternity
2. Lonely God
3. In Tongues They Whisper
4. The Gallows of Ohrdruf
5. By An Omen I Went
6. Uncontained
7. In The Garden of Beasts

I'll admit that when I think of doom now, I tend to think of Scandinavia or the UK. I know it's lazy but they both have a knack of producing killer bands. The US despite it's illustrious history, seemed slightly off the radar for me but thankfully Stone Magnum are addressing that. Their sound is sorrowful and sombre, but at the time it's melodic and dips it's had toward the NWOBHM. It's Candlemass than it is Swallow The Sun. The vocals of Nick Hernandez feature the right balance of evil and histrionics, while the wailing lead guitar helps beef up the music. The title track that kicks it all off features some nice thrash-metal touches as well and the production aims toward the classic era, as opposed to today's clinical school.

They find more an upbeat stride with Lonely God and with it a slight channelling of Sabbath groove. I've not heard many bands with this nostalgic edge for a while and it's pretty refreshing. The riffs, while slightly toned down in the mix, sound pretty meaty and the drum sound is nice and organic, with no triggers in sight. The grooviness and the subtle dirge that subliminally buries itself in your head is hard to shake off. In Tongues They Whisper is a perfect example of this, with it's sudden flourishes of thrash and double bass which briefly snap you out of your trance and get you head banging like they're playing right in front of you. Such accomplished solos are what this type of music was made for!

The musicality of Stone Magnum really hits during fourth track The Gallows of Ohrdruf and so does the realisation that their music is so much more than just doom. The metal influences show through more and more and they progress through From Time...To Eternity. There's also a strange sense of the occult hidden in some of the vocal melodies, which remind me of why doom and the devil make good bedfellows. That said, those occult melodies occur during By An Omen I Want, which is probably the most straightforward heavy metal song on the album, especially when those awesome dual-guitar melodies fill you ears. They sound amazing!

Considering the extended lengths of their songs, they don't outstay their welcome and before you know it, penultimate track Uncontained is swooning you with its slow riffs and powerful vocals. The drums in the background are almost hypnotic. Closing with probably the slowest track on From Time...To Eternity was a nice touch, In The Garden of Beasts is probably the closest to doom that I think Stone Magnum get. It's epic in a very understated way and just highlights further how good their song writing is.

Sometime, not knowing much about a band before listening to them has massive advantages, as you don't have any preconceptions and more often than not, you're pleasantly surprised by their quality. That's part of the fun of discovering and experiencing new bands. Stone Magnum are such a band and will no doubt be noticed by more metal fans as this album gets greater attention. The Internet may make it easy to discover bands, but the chase is still a thrill!

I've been given the opportunity to help promote Stone Magnum by streaming "By An Omen I Went" on my bandcamp page. You can listen to the full track here for the next two and a half weeks:-



Of course, the whole album is streaming directly via Stone Magnum's bandcamp page too - http://stonemagnum.bandcamp.com/.

You can purchase the album digitally from their bandcamp page or head over to Rest In Peace Records at  http://www.restinpeacerecords.us to find out how to order the CD version.

Stone Magnum Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stone-Magnum
Rest In Peace Records Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rest-In-Peace-Records

Monday, 29 July 2013

Brighton Rocks! - Headless Guru Records


Firstly, I make no apologies for my cheesy title. Secondly, this is my fourth label feature already! This time, I'm focusing on another up and coming UK label from the South Coast called Headless Guru Records. After starting up in mid-2012with War Wolf member Ant at the helm, HGR have been steadily releasing varied music by bands who play punk, hardcore and sludge amongst other things. With six releases to their name and more to come during the second half of this year, they're definitely ones to watch.


 War Wolf - Riding With Demons 10"

What better place to start this feature than with War Wolf. War Wolf themselves started back in 2012 and promptly put out this 10" in early 2013. This year they've shared stages with tonnes of bands including Nails and St Vitus and they've also just returned from Canada, where they've been recording their new record! Riding With Demons is just over ten minutes of doom and hardcore noise.

Tracklist:-

1. An Ignorant Species
2. Stench of Death
3. Awakened Gaunt
4. Cometh
5. The Misanthrope
6. War Machine
7. Liberation
8. Slain Deity

Starting with a haunting spoken word sample, it takes a mere ten seconds for War Wolf to break out the abject doom. For some reason, this style seems best served up by a trio and War Wolf makes it so. As the angry, hardcore style vocals ring out above the music, you know you're in for a rough ride. There's an overwhelming sense of foreboding at the start of Stench of Death, but it turns out to be a heavy hitting song, featuring gang vocals and more of a mid-paced hardcore slant before the pace slows toward the end.

War Wolf keep their songs brief and to the point, but what they do play is full of smile inducing riffs and just the right level of energy and intensity. They also experiment with noise elements like during Awakened Gaunt. There's a nod to their groovier, stoner brethren during Cometh, where they flex their chops and dip their hats to the like of Saviours and The Sword in the guitar department. There's that hardcore atmosphere to stop them breaking into an all out fuzz fest. The multiple vocalists also adding to the overall thickness of the song.

They return to a more upbeat pace with The Misanthrope. There's some great angular, off-kilter guitar moments on show alongside some great interplay between that and the rhythm section, with bass sounding particularly thick. Feedback dominates the start of War Machine, leaping out of the speakers like a tortured siren. Here, War Wolfs hardcore sound spills out further, with some mightily angry screams and pogo-inducing drumming. Liberation is a quick fire hardcore song that follows a sampled speech from Tony Blair, thusly demonstrating War Wolf's political stance. It flows straight into closer Slain Deity, which is one of the fastest numbers on Riding With Demons.

Such is the proliferation of low and angry hardcore in the UK at the moment that it's hard to come across a band that favours the doomier end, without using it as a mere token influence. War Wolf mix both doom and hardcore without ever sounding like a parody or unimaginative, which leaves them sounding more genuine. When you realise there are bands like this hiding away, why bother listening to the bands that Front Magazine tells you too!

Listen to the whole 10" here:-


You can buy the 10", resplendent in red wax vie the HGR webstore here - http://headlessgururecords.bigcartel.com/

War Wolf Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/War-Wolf



Sea Bastard - Sea Bastard 2xLP

Next up is Brighton based doom band Sea Bastard. Their self titled double LP was another one of HGR's early releases and with links to War Wolf in the band, it makes perfect sense. This year has so far been very good to these guys, with a slot at Desert fest and headline slot at The Unicorn in Camden already under their belts, they're due to support Earache band White Wizzard on the Brighton leg of their UK tour in September. Having initially formed in 2011, they released a three-track demo that same year called - Great Barrier Riff, which signalled their intentions. Their double LP arrived in October 2012, featuring five tracks in just over an hour.

Tracklist:-

1. Smashed By Sunlight
2. Ramesses' Revenge
3. Psychic Funeral
4. Sea Bastard
5. Masters Of Unreality

With a name like Sea Bastard, I was expecting these guys to be heavy. They actually start of with a pretty understated doom groove, which allows the guitar to take centre stage, with some low but melodic riffs. The drums match it with cymbal crashes as the volume rises. At this point, the bass draws itself in and the sound gets thicker as the vocals kick in after the three and a half minute intro passage. The vocals are a great mix of raspy doom screams and the odd low growl. There are moments where you're just left with screeching feedback and bass driven noise, before the dirge slows right down to a near crawl at about eight minutes. It's crushing and not for the faint hearted.

Any band that names a song after a ride at Chessington World of Adventure's wins in my book! Unlike that ride though, Ramesses' Revenge is somewhat slower and more frightening. Sea Bastard chooses an off-kilter time signature to open up the song. The atonal riffs after the initial build up is pretty mesmerising. Sea Bastard don't seem as experimental as they did in the opener, during the first passages of Ramesses' Revenge, choosing instead to settle down and simply groove. The ride cymbal takes much of the percussion abuse during the song too, keeping the rhythm section alive amongst the riffs. Even with all the down-tuned antics going on throughout the record, it still has a real sense of musicality to it.

Psychic Funeral seems to be strangely psychedelic at the start, although I am pretty tired. It definitely goes in a slightly different direction to the songs before it, as those rasping vocals take their place on the track with a metallic edge. The song seems to morph into a semi-thrash song with a faster tempo and double bass! It doesn't remain at this pace for too long though, as Sea Bastard take their foot off the gas and return to the dirge, seven-minutes in. The production of the record allows that low melody to sound particularly menacing from the guitar and the deeper you get into the song, the slower it seems to get. The extended instrumental section toward the end of the song is well worth kicking back to as well, as it's easy to just drift off as it concludes.

Fourth song Seas Bastard follows straight on from Psychic Funeral with little chance to breathe. It takes the band back to more experimental, metallic sound of their opener. This record has really grown on me as I've been listening to it. I don't know whether it's the fuzzed out sound that underpins it or the musicianship that still makes it really listenable, but either way I'm enjoying it. Closing song, Masters of Unreality is the longest song on the record. I can't work if that title is a nod to Black Sabbath or not. One things for certain though, it's probably the slowest song out of these five. The guitar sounds thick as hell too.

This record is pretty intense and Sea Bastard definitely go for quality of quantity. It's one of the best sounding doom records I've heard in a while too. I know that there are a lot of doom metal fans out who would really enjoy Sea Bastard. Go forth people and blast this out to anyone who'll listen and even those who won't!

Here's the double LP streaming in full:-



It's available as a name-your-price download from HGR's bandcamp page above.

You can buy a physical copy from their store here - http://headlessgururecords.bigcartel.com/product/sea-bastard-sea-bastard-2xlp

Sea Bastard Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/seabastarddoom



Minors - Demo

Next is something slightly different, style and sound wise. Minors released this three-track demo via HGR in February.  Minors add a bit of international flavour to HGR's roster too, as they come of Ontario, Canada. These guys formed in December 2012 and are just starting out, so it's cool to see a small UK label taking an interested in them and working with them from the outset.

Tracklist:-

1. We Ate Minors, You Are Not (Love From the Border City)
2. Minors, In The Present Tense
3. You're Your Yours &You Are (So Long Roses, Your Money Is On The Dresser)

This demo was the first release that HGR put out on tape. Minors play with a sound that slightly similar to that of War Wolf, but with less doom and more math influences. It's also more hardcore orientated too and their opening song, We Are Minors, You Are Not (Love From The Border City) is full of stop-start, feedback-laden riffage.

That math influence carries on with Minors, In The Present Tense, along with some fast grindcore inspired drumming. There's melody, but it's hidden within the mix underneath the vocals. It fights to be heard amongst the drums but when it does come to the fore, it's a nice addition to the music. As I said in my opening paragraph about the band, stylistically they play from a different side of the hardcore spectrum and prefer to be more progressive and off-kilter.

Minors do not mess about at all, with final track You're Your Yours & You Are (So Long Roses, Your Money Is On The Dresser) coming no sooner than the second track had finished.  The screams seem to be angrier in this song and that feedback I referred to earlier is still very much prevalent. There's a nice guitar section midway through which shows off the band's screamo/emo influences too.

Overall, this demo is chaotic and loud and comes from a band with no inclination to copy bands that have come before. It's got originality and a production, which shows it off in a natural way. Three blistering tracks that finish way to soon, but still batter you!

Listen here:-



Again, the demo is on the bandcamp page above as a name-your-price download.

Tapes can be bought from - http://headlessgururecords.bigcartel.com/product/minors-demo-cs

Minors Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/weareminors



Dull Eyes - War Anthems

I'm ending this feature with HGR's latest release, a four track EP by German hardcore punks Dull Eyes. Adding more international flavour to HGR's growing roster, Dull Eyes released War Anthems n tape through HGR in May. They have a fearsome live ethic and have played shows alongside Defeater and Code Orange Kids, while recently supporting Alpha & Omega.

Tracklist:-

1. Sleeping Hands
2. Icebreaker
3. Heavyweight
4. David & Goliath

There's a huge amount of killer music coming out of Germany at the moment, which means that Dull Eyes should start getting wider attention. Listening to the intro of Sleeping Hands just backs up that notion, as Dull Eyes attack your senses with a Crowbar meets Terror sound. Groovy riffs with hardcore screams and pounding drums are the order of the day. There are hints of Pantera in the guitar solos and after this opening sub-six minute stomp is over, you'll be brimming for more. Icebreaker starts off with some wicked drumming and a slow, guitar driven dirge that's builds atmosphere, before launching into a more straightforward hardcore song with killer screamed gang vox. Those grooving riffs aren't too far away though.

Their punkier edge makes itself heard during Heavyweight, with some great up-beat drumming. It's fast too, a lot more so than it is to predecessors. It sounds like a call to arms, especially during the gang vocals and if you're not moshing by now, you might as well be dead! War Anthems ends how it started, with more Pantera inspired hammer blows. There's more of an off-kilter slant to this song, with what sounds like half-time drumming, which might mess with your head if you're not expecting it. It certainly gives their hardcore stomp more of a boot full.

While all of these releases may sound similar to some, they are all uniquely different variations on a sub-genre that's been gaining real pace recently. The UK seems to be at the forefront of it too, which just shows that labels like HGR are and will continue to be breeding grounds for some of the angriest hardcore/sludge inspired noise that dares to punctuate the airwaves.

Jump on this here:-



I don't need to tell you now, but War Anthems is also available as a name-your-price download from the HGR bandcamp page.

You can get the cassette version from the HGR store here - http://headlessgururecords.bigcartel.com/product/dull-eyes-war-anthems-cs.

Now if you want, you can pick up everything that the label has released so far, in one handy package here -
http://headlessgururecords.bigcartel.com/product/hgr-bundle.

That package also includes a vinyl release from UK punks River Jumpers and a tape from fellow UK down-tuned doom nuts Torpor. I'll have reviews of those releases coming in the not to distant future as well.

In terms of what's on the horizon, I can tell you that War Wolf are currently working on a new record as well as a split with Sob Story (Ex-Dashwood), which will both see the light of day through HGR.

So, keep an eye of their Facebook page for more - https://www.facebook.com/HeadlessGuruRecords.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

New exclusively streamed tracks!

Today sees three new tracks streaming exclusively on the This Noise Is Ours bandcamp page, in cooperation with The Metal Detector Music Promotions.

They are:-
"By An Omen I went" by Stone Magnum
"Sentimental Victory" by Uvikra
"Blade Efficacy" by King Carnage

Stone Magnum are an epic doom-influenced metal band from Michigan City, Indiana US.

Uvikra are a progressive black/death metal band from Vilnius, Lithuania.

King Carnage are a powerful death metal band from San Francisco.

All three tracks can be found here - http://thisnoiseisours.bandcamp.com/

I'll also have reviews posted later this week to accompany these tracks. The tracks will be streaming for three weeks, so spread the word! Thanks.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Great Northern Screamo #3 - Autarkeia – S/T CD/LP


Every once in a while, you buy a bunch of music from a band you’ve never actually heard, just because your guts tell you that this is something you’ll enjoy immensely. For me, Autarkeia is a perfect example of such a band. Having been a fan of IFB Records owner Nevin Marshall and his various musical projects (mainly Jiyuna and Merkit), I had a feeling that his next endeavor would fit me perfectly. 

Autarkeia sounds like a forgotten band from the mid90s, taking cues from bands such as Policy of Three, Portraits of Past and Indian Summer. Clean guitars dominate the sound as a whole, with punishing drums and bass in the background. The songs usually start of down-to-mid- tempo, escalating to an emotional cascade of sound with a more distorted guitar sound to it. The vocals go from whispered and spoken to desperate screams and shrieks, underlining the personal and socio-political themes of the lyrics.

The melodies are usually haunting and semi-dark, and the vocals are sometimes reminiscent of bands such as Funeral Diner with the passionate deliveries and often using vocalised melodies that are more or less in contrast of the melodies of the guitar. Sometimes, a backing vocal chimes in for added effect, and it works like a charm. This record held my attention since the first two seconds, until the end of its epic finisher Wait for Tomorrow

It’s hard for me to point out the strongest track on this album, as every single song has qualities that separate them from the rest, both on the album and in the genre as a whole.  For me personally, the album’s second track, Between a Tale of Two Cities, sums up the band’s sound perfectly; clean guitar and desperate spoken vocals, gliding over to screamed words and harder guitar work, adding a rumbling and crushing bass on top of it all. The last track of the album, the already mentioned Wait for Tomorrow is the longest on here, not losing its grip on you a second of all its 7+ minutes.

I’d recommend you listen to this if bands such as Ravachol and Crows-An-Wra has caught your attention; Beautiful melodies packed into that perfect mid90s inspired emo-package that I’ve loved since the first time I heard it. Support this band; this is DIY in its purest form.

Autarkeia are streaming the whole record on their bandcamp page. Listen to it below:-



Also, it's available for free download on that page, so it can reach the most fans possible.

If you like what you hear or you want to help the Autarkeia and IFB Records out (and let's face it, why wouldn't you!), you can buy it in both CD and vinyl forms from IFB here http://ifbrecords.com/pages/main.html.

Autarkeia aren't on social media as far as I can tell, so you can only find them on bandcamp.

IFB Records blog - http://ifbrecords.blogspot.co.uk/

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Baroness - Live At Maida Vale - BBC 12"


I've been a massive admirer of Relapse Records for ages, so I was pretty excited when I got sent some digital promos a little while ago. Baroness have been slowly rising out of obscurity in recent times thanks to some cracking sludge filled metal records and now are a formidable name in the genre. Their latest release is this four-track, limited edition 12" with screen printed artwork. Recorded earlier this year specially for the BBC Radio 1 Rock Show, it highlights the musicianship and song writing that they've been working so hard on over the years. Yellow & Green was such a great record and while some may see this as a stop gap, it's bound to posses the magic of that opus.

Tracklist:-

1. Take My Bones Away
2. March To The Sea
3. Cocainium
4. The Line Between

I've always found that Baroness have had a strong aura about them. One that's spelled them out as a shining beacon and one of almost warming familiarity, in that you know your safe with them. This record starts with Take My Bones Away from Yellow & Green. For me, that album spelled a shift for the band. One, which altered their sound and took it to the next level. You get a sense of that with this live recording. There are still the overarching elements of sludge, rock and progression but it's delivered with verve and a real personality. The solo during the opener in particular, is just pure US rock n roll lusciousness.

Baroness has been very clever and has not gone in the super-proggy direction, where they could have become really beard stroking and have instead elected to write catchy but original rock songs. March To The Sea is a great example of this point. The song is catchy as hell, especially during the chorus and the musicianship won't even scare off the more casual listeners that choose to spin it. The guitar intro to Cocainium sounds even more emotive on this recording and really wraps itself around you. It's slightly more abrasive than the previous two tracks, but it's got tonnes off groove and harks back to their earlier albums, as does The Line Between. It's not got the sludginess but the dissonance in the guitars more than makes up for that. Some listeners may think of Foo Fighters when listening to this (the vocals especially), but Baroness is very much their own beast, as I'm sure you'll know by now!

It's great go see bands like Baroness getting recognition from mainstream radio in the UK, but it's even better that it's been charted on vinyl for those that have followed the band for years. This record will probably sell out fast but it still serves as a great way for new fans to discover Baroness.

For those of you who missed the live session on Radio 1 on July 22nd (like me), Relapse have uploaded the tracks from the 12" onto their bandcamp page. Have a listen below:-



You can buy it as a digital download from the above link or follow the second link to Relapse's webstore to buy the vinyl, t-shirts or both!

Baroness Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/YourBaroness
Relapse Records Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords

Monday, 22 July 2013

New E-mail address!

I've had no end of trouble recently with Yahoo! so have switched e-mail provider.

My new address is - tnio@outlook.com.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Barge - No Gain 7"


Here's a fast 7" for you. Much like Lifes who I reviewed earlier, Barge of a fast punk band. This new 7" was released in April by new US label Vinyl Conflict. It's being distributed by Grave Mistake Records amongst others. Barge for those that don't know, are a hardcore band from Richmond, Virginia. No Gain is their debut 7". They're influenced by the likes of Infest and inject their hardcore with waves of power violence. No song on their debut 7" is over two-minutes long!

It's also worth noting that Vinyl Conflict looks like an ace record store, which is very much contributing to their local music scene. I wish there was a record store like it where I live again.

Tracklist:-

1. Keep Your Money
2. Wasting Away
3. Your Lies
4. Live For Pain
5. Where's The Violence
6. Time To Learn
7. Don't Know The Truth
8. Plague Me

Barge smash it! No Gain is filled with the kind of PV influence hardcore that will smash your head in, but with some great punk undertones. They pack a lot into their short songs. Keep Your Money seems to last a lot longer than its fifty-six second playing time. Wasting Away starts off fast and then slows to a nice mid-pace groove which shows that Barge know restraint. That same restraint is exercised during the first half of Your Lies. It has that blackened hardcore sensibility that's popular now, before it's wiped out by more fastcore. Some people may be put off by the vocals slightly, but to me they fit in perfectly and add an abrasive edge too the music. Live for Pain seems to capture the anguish of everyday life perfectly.

Obviously, Barge has had to make their songs short to fit onto a 7", but that doesn't mean that they are gone in a flash. The second half of the records just carries their momentum forward with the chaos of Where's The Violence and Time To Lean. Don't Know The Truth sees their hardcore sensibilities shining through, with some breakdown inspired sections sitting beneath the vocals. The beginning of closing song Plague Me sounds like someone firing up chainsaws. Barge flit skilfully between groovy mid-pace sections and brief off-kilter explosions of violence. It's over in a flash and demands repeat listens.

I know this review seems short but Barge keeps things simple. Playing fast, loud and to their own agenda. Hats off to Vinyl Conflict for releasing this and to Grave Mistake for gaining wider attention for it. This won't be the last you hear of Barge for sure.

The 7" is streaming over at Barge's bandcamp page:-



The 7" can be bought as a digital download directly from Barge's bandcamp page.

Physical 7"s can be bought from Grave Mistake Records at http://www.gravemistakerecords.com/catalog/.

Barge don't have a Facebook page as far as I can tell (feel free to correct me though).

Sun Worship - Surpass Eclipse 12"


I first heard about Sun Worship through the Broken Limbs Recordings bandcamp page, where this record is streaming. As luck would have it, not long after that, I received an e-mail from Lars who plays in the band. He asked if I'd be up for reviewing this two-track record, which of course I was!

Sun Worship hail from Berlin, Germany and play post-black metal. They released a self-titled demo in 2011, followed by a split with a band called Earth Chaos in 2012 and then this two-track vinyl record earlier this year. The record is one-sided with an awesome etched b-side. The record was released by An Out Recordings.

Tracklist:-

1. Castle High
2. Eclipse

Sun Worship is pretty heavy, but in a ritualistic and textured manner. They let their guitar carry the majority of the song, with the drums blasting the background. When they do open up though, their black metal sounds ferocious. Just listen to Castle High as it kicks in! It's also a very expansive opener, spanning a little over five minutes in length, meaning that Sun Worship has plenty of time to infuse ideas and variation into their music. If you listen to it at volume, you'll begin to pick out subtle twists and turns as well, like hidden melody and the rumbling low-end. The guitars also create a kind of symphonic treble sound, which adds a touch of grandeur to the music.

That expansive song writing is taken further during second song Eclipse. You can understand where Sun Worship's post-metal influence comes from when you listen to the extended instrumental sections. The melody created is strangely menacing and at time haunting and without the vocals, washes over you and transports you to another place. It's not without its moments though, especially when they briefly return to their blackened best. The closing bars of feedback lead you to complete silence and leave you cleansed in a way that a lot of music can't.

This record shows two sides to Sun Worship. There's the more chaotic blackened side that features on Castle High and the more thoughtful side that rears it's head during Eclipse. They prove that they can write dramatic music that will not just appeal to fans of black metal, but should also appeal to fans from further afield. I really hope they release more music and continue to grow, because there is definitely a place for them in the metal stratosphere!

Listen for yourselves here:-



Sun Worship has generously offered Surpass Eclipse digitally as a name-your-price-download via their bandcamp page. You can also purchase a copy of the amazing screen-printed twelve inch from the same page.

Sun Worship are not on social media, so I can't post a link (though if someone knows of one, please send it my way and I'll update my review).

You can find them on Metal Archives here - http://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Sun_Worship.

Lifes - Demo


I had some computer issues yesterday and wasn't able to write as many reviews as I wanted to. I'm redressing the balance today. Firstly, I wanted to start with something fast! This is the 2013 demo from Milwaukee bass/drum punk duo Lifes. Milwaukee seems to be super productive right now when it comes to fast bands, maybe due to the influence of Protestant, the label Halo of Flies and the other rad bands that hail from there. There's actually a link between Lifes and Halo of Flies because Lifes features current/ex-members of fellow Milwaukee bands like Conquest of Death and Get Rad, who coincidentally had a 7" release via that very label. Anyway, punk education over with, lets talk more about this demo. The demo was self-released in April of this year on tape and features eight tracks, including two covers of songs by Swing Kids and Deathreat.

Tracklist:-

1. New Flag
2. Tables Turned
3. Expectations
4. Disease (Swing Kids cover)
5. Northing New
6. Party By The Lifes
7. Fucking Thief
8. King James Version of Shit (Deathreat cover)

I've found that since I started this blog, I've been gravitating more towards bands that act with integrity and do things their own way. Whether it is recording and releasing their own demos and not expecting to be picked up by labels straight away. The metal/punk stratosphere is already made up of way too many bands who've released demos and think they're god's gift to music, so this is where bands like Lifes mean so much to me. This tape was home recorded and that gives it that genuine feeling. New Flag kicks it off with a thick, deep bass tone and drums that flail in ever which way. The vocals are deep bellowed screams that match the music’s furious pace and there’s even some sludge/doom textures lurking within. Tables Turned last twelve sections yet Lifes still manage to get a groove out of it.

The pace slows right down with Expectations, where that sludge persuasion creeps back in with an extended instrumental intro morphing into some hellish fastcore. Disease is a Swing Kids cover, which builds in volume and intensity for the first twenty seconds, before exploding into something quite different to the original. The bass/drum take on the song is good though and Lifes don’t just try to copy the band they're covering. That sludgy reference is still present in Nothing New. I guess the slower parts go hand in hand with a lot of fastcore now as it breaks things up.  If it's melody you're after though, you won't find it as prevalently present here. Party By The Lifes is eight seconds of brief bass rumble and Napalm Death inspired grind. Fucking Thief is Lifes longest original song and doesn't feel out of place at all. Slower instrumental sections again dominate the song, but the thickness of the bass almost makes it seem like an actual lead guitar. Ending with a cover of Deathreat brings the tape to a chaotic end. The menacing bass melody lurches forward and the hardcore sensibilities of the song give the tape a different atmosphere.

There's punk attitude a plenty and a sound, which you'll instantly feel at home with if you like your fastcore/power violence stuff. The mixture of fast and slow dynamics and the DIY recording mean that this demo is full of character and heart. Lifes don't care about trends and fashion; they play music for the good times and music that scene kids won't understand. This is a grower and one that will keep growing. Keep your eyes in Milwaukee because it's gonna be raised to the ground soon, if Lifes have their way!

Blow of those Sunday morning cobwebs by checking the entire demo out below:-



The demo is available from the above bandcamp page as a name-your-price-download, but you can also buy the tape too.

Checkout Lifes Storevery page here - http://lifes.storenvy.com/

Lifes Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/LIFES414

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Superchrist - Holy Shit


I'm nearly at the point now where I can post more regular reviews again, hopefully from next week onwards. My newly organised schedule is helping too. I thought that I'd escape from the heat too, as I've been travelling back and forth to Leeds again this week by train and it's been pretty uncomfortable. I'm revisiting Hells Headbangers again with this review and Chicago's heavy metal horde Superchrist. These guys aren't the first band you think of when you think of Hells Headbangers, but they bring a great traditional sound to the label's roster.

Superchrist have been playing their heavy rock n roll since 1998 and Holy Shit is their sixth full length! Bassist/Vocalist Chris Black boasts an impressive CV, having spent time in US black metal horde Nachtmystium as well as currently being active in Cruz Del Sur band Pharaoh and Profound Lore band Dawnbringer. In their own right though, Superchrist are an extremely prolific beast.

Tracklist:-

1. Run To The Night
2. Take Me To The Graveyard
3. Hot Tonight
4. Get Lost
5. Burn Again
6. Black Thunder
7. PAMF
8. Don't Wanna Know
9. Sewer Snake
10. Beer Metal

This certainly isn't the sort of siren song you’d expect from a Hells Headbangers release, but it strangely sits perfectly against the backdrop of blackened death metal. Superchrist are pure rock n roll. Run To The Night conjures up drunken sing-alongs and throwbacks to Motorhead and Maiden. The guitar makes it obviously, with tonnes of melody and hair-whipping solos. Take Me To The Graveyard highlights the frenetic pace at which Superchrist to play. It's full of bouncing drums, driving riffs and some great vocal harmonies. Ideal if you want a break from your eternal gothdom!

From here on in, the songs get shorter but oh so sweeter. Hot Tonight has some really sleazy lyrics and Get Lost features a meaty solo, which starts of low and increases in squeal throughout its duration. I can imagine plenty of air grabs and glam rock style scissor kicks taking place to this one. At certain points, the music contained on Holy Shit reminds me of some of the revivalist thrash bands like Municipal Waste, at their good time best. Obviously, Superchrist don't play thrash themselves, but they manage to inject their heavy metal with that same good time vibe, which for me is what makes them so endearing. Black Thunder is a standout track for me and while listening to it, it occurred to me that a lot of the wannabe power metal bands too their cues from heavy metal like this. That doesn't have much to do with this record or Superchrist, but you'll see where I'm coming from when you listen to it.

PAMF is a brief frolic and Don't Wanna Know heralds more melody and more of a mainstream sound overall. That doesn't last too long though as Sewer Snake brings back that Motorhead attitude from earlier in the record. It's also one of the slower songs present, with a more laid-back tempo and structure. The production brings it alive though and much like the rest of Holy Shit, it's clear and precise. Each instrument sounds crisp and the vocals are pitched at a decent volume, so they don't get swallowed up. The extended instrumental mid-section and solo justifies the length of the song as well.

It all closes out with the suitably titled Beer Metal, which sums up this album pretty darn well. An awesome chunk of good old heavy metal with surprisingly little pretence. You'll have heard this before, but that won't stop from you from grinning from ear to ear once you've stuck it on!

Hear it on bandcamp here:-



You can buy a digital version from the above bandcamp page if you like it. Alternatively, if you like to hold something in your hands, you can buy it on either CD via Hells Headbangers here http://shop-hellsheadbangers.com/superchrist.

Superchrist Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Superchrist
Hells Headbangers Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/hellsheadbangers

Sunday, 14 July 2013

On Pain Of Death - Year Naught Doom


Following on from yesterday's Plague Survivors review. I thought I'd write about the second Dry Cough tape release. This one features Irish doomster On Pain of Death. On Pain of Death begun in 2008. They released a self-titled demo that same year, before recording an EP which hasn't yet seen the light of day. Year Naught Doom is their latest release.

Tracklist:-

1. Year Naught Doom
2. Tell Your God To Ready For Blood
3. It Came From The Bog

Irish doom/sludge seems to be really gaining momentum at the moment (well as much as doom/sludge can!). Bands like Drainland and Wreck of The Hesperus have been churning out some great material of late and On Pain Of Death have now joined party. Year Naught Doom is terrifying mix of groove-laden doom and black metal atmospherics. All three tracks are in excess on ten minutes, with the opening track kicking things off in debauched style. This is no instant, mass-fashion crap but instead its honest music that will scare off anyone who thinks that Bring Me The Horizon are the heaviest band ever. The title tracks winds on at a snails pace, with extended bass-heavy instrumental sections and dual high/low growls. Musically there's also some subtle melody amongst the dank, menacing tones.

There is no gap between songs either so as Year Naught Doom grinds to an ever-slowing halt, it flows straight into Tell Your God To Ready For Blood. This song is even more meandering, with it taking two and a half minutes for On Pain of Death to build up to the vocals. The drums are the most prevalent instrument here, with the bass and guitars being more infrequent. It sounds way more evil than the opener did, which is quite a feat. The pace does start to quicken mid-way through, but even then you wouldn't call it fast. The subtle use of the Flange pedal also generates some treble, which when set back against the low body of the music, gives it that extra edge and even a slightly jazz-orientated element.

On Pain Of Death end proceedings with their most epic track, It Came From The Bog. It's seems like an ode to the very town they rose from. The band begins to groove but before they can get any momentum, they stop things and only allow the buzz of the bass to be heard. This repeats for nearly a minute before they launch into the song proper. As I listen to the minimalist music in the background, it's the drumming that impresses me the most. It has that ability to send you into a trance. It's really hard to imagine the skewed vision and the creative process of bands like On Pain of Death, as any normal person couldn't comprehend the process they'd have to go through to write music like this, but then again they wouldn't understand.

Three songs in just over forty minutes is no mean feat and listening to it requires a lot of attention from the listener. I've also thought of doom and funeral doom to be the most challenging extreme metal sub-genres, but this is genuinely easy to listen to. As I mentioned in my opening paragraph above, this isn't for posers or fair-weather metal fans. This is a serious album for serious riff worshipers. If you're not one, it'll find you out and it'll make an example of you.

Sink yourselves into further despair by listening to Year Naught Doom in it's entirety here:-



The tape is limited to 100 copies and can be purchased from the above bandcamp page.

Dry Cough Records also has an online store here, where you can buy this tape and the Plague Survivors tape as a special bundle. There is also free shipping yo anywhere in the world on both tapes - http://drycoughrecords.bigcartel.com/.

On Pain of Death Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/onpainofdeath
Dry Cough Records Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/DryCoughRecords

Nunslaughter/Antiseen - Split 7"


There are a few things that you can rely on in live. There's the usual death and taxes but there's also the unholy death metal of Nunslaughter. According to Metal Archives, they've already released a 7", a live album, a two CD discography which gathers together tracks from 13 previous 7"s and two split 7"s including this one with Antiseen. Once again, Hells Headbanger have provided their loyal services to help this split see the light of day. Along with bands like Agathocles and Unholy Grave, Nunslaughter are amongst the most prolific bands in extreme metal.

I probably don't need to introduce Antiseen to you, but for those who don't know, they're pretty much US punk legends. They're celebrating their 30th year this year too! In terms of the record itself, it's available on both black and red/brown coloured vinyl.

Tracklist:-

1. Nunslaughter - So Vile
2. Nunslaughter - The Burning Times
3. Antiseen - Air of Opportunity
4. Antiseen - Down To The Bone

Nunslaughter have always aired on the side of punk, so this split makes a lot of sense. Their first song So vile is one of the best I've heard by them this year. The guitars are thick sounding and the song as a whole a very controlled.  The vocals are as chilling as ever and the drums sound clear in the background too. You can even hear the low rumble of the bass. They don't take a breath between So Vile and The Burning Times, just instantly launch into it. The more I hear them, the more I enjoy them. The 7" format seems to lend itself well to Nunslaughter, as they don't mess about and I think it forces them to write in a cleverer way.

Having Antiseen of this split is a masterstroke for me. You need to balance out Nunslaughter's more menacing sound and that's exactly what happens here. Air Of Opportunity is a rip-roaring punk song, with a great upbeat tone to it. Down To The Bone is a longer song with a bluesy edge to it. It gathers more of Antiseen's rock n roll sound and packages up with crashing cymbals, buzzing guitars and clearer vocals to finish off this split with a really upbeat flourish.

Two super consistent bands on one slab of vinyl, doing what they do best. The production is good, bringing out the originalities of both bands without the fuzz you sometime get with a 7". All you need to do now is crack open some cans, light the BBQ and stick this record on. It'll definitely get the party going in the right direction!

The split isn't currently streaming online, but you can get it via Hells Headbangers at http://shop-hellsheadbangers.com/nunslaughter-antiseen-vinyl.asp.

Nunslaughter Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/NunSlaughter
Hells Headbangers Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/hellsheadbangers

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Oblivionized/Human Cull - This Septic Isle Split 7"


Now I'm moving onto something faster. This awesome new split 7" features two up-and-coming UK extreme metal bands, Oblivionized and Human Cull. Oblivionized hail from London and play what they call "Avant-Grind" while Exeter's Human Cull play a mixture of grind, sludge and crust. You just have to look at the artwork for a clue to how good this is gonna be!

It's been released by five collaborating labels and pre-orders close today! There are three different colour variants and some great pre-order packages to pick up, if you're quick.

Tracklist:-

1. Oblivionized - Ghost of An Assault
2. Oblivionized - Whore Dogs
3. Human Cull - Ignoring Fact
4. Human Cull - Shitstorm
5. Human Cull - Disgusted
6. Human Cull - Assassinated
7. Human Cull - Abandonment

I love the split seven-inch format. I know it has its detractors but I don't care. Oblivionized start things off with two tracks. As Ghost of An Assault starts, I can see where the band gets their "Avant-Grind" label from. If you to play mathcore and speed it up too about ten times the pace, this is what it would sound like. It's brutal. The guitars dominate proceedings with furious time changes and riff, the drums fly by in a whirlwind of double bass, the bass underpins it all with hellish precision and the dual vocals add tonnes of volume. Things get even faster with second song Whore Dogs. The occasional treble from the guitars brings a bit of metal influence into their sound. Two instantly gratifying yet equally terrifying songs.

Human Cull's side is made up of five tracks, with only one stretching past the one-minute mark. Their sound is lower and maybe slightly more controlled than that of Oblivionized. Ignoring Fact speeds by before you've hard time to think. The low growls complimenting the higher screams of their comrades really well. Human Cull's other four songs blast by in around the same length of time as Ignoring Fact does and like the rest of the split, deserve multiple listens to help you truly appreciate them.

The production of the split allows both bands to sound at their ferocious best and when they're this fast, you realise the skill that's involved with capturing their essence. Both bands play with skill and in a style which is a preserve of British bands. It may be short, but only takes a few minutes to rip the flesh from your face!

Have a listen here via WOOAAARGH's bandcamp page:-



As mentioned before, pre-orders end today and there are some great packages on the above bandcamp page, so make sure you head over there and check it out.

Here are the links to the stores and the Facebook pages of the labels involved with the release:-

WOOAAARGH - Store http://wooaaargh.tumblr.com/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/WOOAAARGH

Made In A Meth Lab - Story - http://madeinthemethlab.bigcartel.com/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/madeinthemethlab

Aural Onslaught Records & Distro - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Aural-Onslaught-Records-Distro

Anarchotic Records - Store -  http://anarchoticrecords.bandcamp.com/merch
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/anarchoticrecords

Buriedinhell Records - Store - http://www.buriedinhell.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/buriedinhellrecords

Oblivionized Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/Oblivionized
Human Cull official - https://www.facebook.com/humancull 

Plague Survivors - Discography tape


I've had serious withdrawal symptoms this last week. I've started a new job and have been focusing on that, so not had much time, but thankfully the weekend has come round just as my craving was at it's highest. Also, this is my reward for getting house chores done this morning. I'm going to try and do a few reviews today and though I'd start with some heavy-ass sludge/doom from Massachusetts band Plague Survivors. This discography tape collects everything they've put out so far and the physical release was handled by sick new Manchester label, Dry Cough Records. I'll still don't know what's in the water over there, but it's clearly spreading it's down tuned, furious fumes across the city.

Plague Survivors themselves formed in 2011 and have been recording and releasing their feedback ridden jams online, via their bandcamp page. This tape is their first physical output.

Tracklist:-

1. Grim Note
2. Foul Voice
3. Low Places
4. Funeral Pyre
5. Witch Crusher
6. Ditch Digger
7. Blue Sky/Black Death
8. Electric Funeral (Black Sabbath cover)

On their Facebook page they describe their music as "Feedback mainly". That's not far from the truth as opening tome Grim Note kicks things off. The ringing jars you before the slow, sludgy riffs kick in. Their grooving riffs seem to flow really well, in between the feedback-filled pauses. The screams are torturous and hover above the instrumentation. Foul Voice seems to take things to another level, in terms of suffocating heaviness. The guitar is low and thick. The drums pound a slow but big beat with dramatic cymbal crashes.  The vocals seem to air towards the kind of blackened hardcore that comes from the mouths of bands like Seven Sisters of Sleep, which is fine in my book!

That blackened hardcore effect takes an even darker turn during Low Places, where the vocals seem to morph into black metal influenced screams. While Plague Survivors are ostensibly a doom/sludge band, if you listen deeper, they become so much more. One minute you're being mesmerised by those bluesy riffs and the next minute you’re being chilled to the bone by wailing feedback and harrowing growls. As Low Places ends there's a short pause, before the first proper long song on the tape. This is in the form of the eleven and a half minute leviathan, Funeral Pyre. This is more of what I was expecting from Plague Survivors to be honest. Slow plucked bass, building feedback and martial noise coming from the guitars. The song is very much instrumental, taking it's cues from bands like Sutekh Hexen, such is the unsettling noise it creates.

The atmosphere takes another twist with the lurching evil of Witch Crusher. The Somewhat off-kilter intro section is pretty raw. It leads into another slow mid-length hymn. The improvised jazz piano and the effects used by Plague Survivors during the song's mid-section, shows an experimental side. The other long-player is Ditch Digger, weighing in at over eight minutes. I actually like the balance that Plague Survivors have found between long pieces and more mid-length four-five minute songs. It keeps things flowing and shows their creative side alongside their more carefree, heavy side. Unlike Funeral Pyre, Ditch Digger isn't an instrumental. It's a claustrophobic slab of intense noise with some really epic vocals, which jump out and grab you by the throat! It ends with more experimental textures and end of up pretty far removed from where it began. Still, it's an epic song all the same.

The final run in begins with Blue Sky/Black Death, which takes you back to the sludgy atmosphere of tape's opener. Here, the live recording of the vocals adds a greater DIY element to their sound and helps you appreciate that Plague Survivors aren't about electronic recording gizmos or triggers, but about good honest heaviness. The tape concludes with Plague Survivors take on the Black Sabbath song Electric Funeral. It's always interesting to hear how heavier bands take on more melodic songs, but I wasn't expecting the clean singing! I guess bands need to keep original elements of covers, so as not to deviate too much from their blueprint but I think they got it right here. They inject enough of their own sound into it to make sure it doesn't sound plagiarised. It's a great, upbeat way to finish the tape.  

I'm glad my ear holes have been opened to these guys. Musically, they're very skilled and they're not afraid to mix things up on the vocal department. Pick this up. You won't regret it!

Get you lugs around it here:-



You can purchase a copy of the tape directly from the bandcamp link above.

Alternatively, you can head to Dry Cough's webstore at http://drycoughrecords.bigcartel.com/product/plague-survivors-discography-tape. People in the US will be able to pick up copies direct from Plague Survivors soon.

Plague Survivors Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/plaguesurvivors
Dry Cough Records Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/DryCoughRecords

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Mors Voluntaria - A Pathway Through Forgotten Woods


Those of you who have been following my "Random Band of The Week" posts will recognise Mors Voluntaria, as I did a brief write-up this band. Shortly after that, though the owner of Depressive Illusions Records, I was able to contact the person behind the project, so I could pass the link to that write-up on to him. We got chatting and he sent me the tracks to the tape that he released through Depressive Illusions.

A bit of background first. Mors Voluntaria is a solo-black metal project from Leeds, West Yorkshire that was only formed this year. Since it's formation though, Mors Voluntaria has released a two song promo and this tape.

Tracklist:-

1. Suicide
2. Hang Me A Noose For My Smile
3. Suicide II

Since I've been searching for and listening to more black metal in recent years, I've come across a lot of bands and records that I love. I've also found that I prefer to listen to black metal of the more ambient and majestic variety. There is some of that ambient majesty hidden within Mors Voluntaria's sound. Suicide is a raw song, where the vocals take the focal point. The instrumentation that sits behind them is slightly obscured by a raw production. I guess that's one of the pitfalls of playing and recording you own instruments though. The final bars though are a revelation, with anguished spoken word and screamed vocals alongside some much needed melody, which ends the song on a high note (if that's possible with black metal!)

Hang Me A Noose For My Smile was originally on the earlier 2013 promo. This is more of a noise song than a black metal song at first listen. It features a lot of winding noise and screams that seem to intertwine with it. It rumbles on it that fashion for five and a half minutes, kind of acting like a semi-instrumental track. Mors Voluntaria end with Suicide II, which picks up where Suicide left off. There's a lengthy instrumental build up, as you'd expect but there is more melody poking through. The drums can be heard in the background alongside a droning bass-line. This song is purely instrumental.

Overall this is a tape of three very different parts. It sees Mors Voluntaria exploring it's sound and influences.There's definite potential here and with more writing, recording and production time, I can see Mors Voluntaria progressing into a truly great British black metal band.

This tape isn't streaming anywhere as far as I can tell, however you can listen to the 2013 promo featuring the second track here:-



Tapes can be purchased from Depressive Illusions Records here - http://depressiveillusions.com/mors-voluntaria-pathway-through-forgotten-woods

Mors Voluntaria Metal Archives - http://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Mors_Voluntaria

Horrors That You've Seen - Smokin, Skatin, Satan


Hey hey! A returning band! I featured Horrors That You've Seen quite a while back when I reviewed their first album - Breaking Hearts, which was released at the back end of 2011. These canny Edinburgh sludgers are back with a four track EP, amusingly titled - Smokin, Skatin, Satan; which has been released on tape by Made In A Meth Lab. Since that first album was released, they've had a busy time of it.

 They've share stages with the likes of Cloud Rat, Birds In Row and Bongripper amongst others, while lead vocalist Graham Caldwell has designed some great cover art for my first digital compilation, which might see the light of day eventually!

Tracklist:-

1. Rot & Decay
2. Hellraiser
3. Nuclear Bong
4. Cast The Witch

Not wanting to hang around, HTYS throw themselves straight into opener Rot & Decay. Frequenting the sludgier and doomier side of hardcore, HTYS are slow and heavy, while still holding onto that essence of core. The vocals are low and vengeful, the guitars are a mix of down-tuned madness and clever riffs and the low end consisting of the bass and drums underpin it all with pace changes and heft. Rot & Decay is a bit of statement of intent actually, as it lurches forward, occasionally stopping and starting but never losing momentum.

Being from Edinburgh, you can understand why they sound so angry. The weather must be pretty bleak in the winter and they probably get annoyed with the tourists! It comes across in Hellraiser even though the song is more mid-paced. It's more atonal a times, leaning more on HTYS's doom influences. The guitars groove along nicely and towards the end that groove well and truly makes its presence felt.

Nuclear Bong has some sinister sound effects in it at the start, coupled with a slow as you like opening passage of riffs. It kind of reminds me of the first time I heard Swedes Grand Magus. After the prolonged instrumental build up HTYS settle back into their stride with more slow-mosh antics. I can imagine some kind of crazy ass zombie pit to this!

Closer Cast The Witch takes what they did in Rot & Decay and repeats it. Stop-start sections, rock n roll and more bilious vox. I'd stick my neck out and say that some of the riffs here have elements of Cancer Bats to them. Thankfully my neck isn't too long! The ambient mid-section leads into one hell of a sludge-ridden phase, which is brilliant. The dual guitar melodies are a prefect fit and you could just as well be listening to Crowbar of Eyehategod.

I think four songs on the EP is enough. Enough to get you headbanging and enough to leave you with a thirst for more. People who don't smoke, skate or worship Satan need not apply!

Listen to it here:-



You can get the EP as a pay-what-you-like download from the band's bandcamp page above. You can also buy the EP on great looking green cassette from the page as well.

It's also available from Made In A Meth Lab. The tape is not yet up in their online store at the time of publishing this review, but you can head to their Facebook page for updates when it is - https://www.facebook.com/madeinthemethlab

Horrors That You've Seen Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/horrorsthatyouveseen 

Friday, 5 July 2013

Wraiths - EP 2012


It's Friday. The end of another week. What better time to get stuck into some more heavy tunes. I'm closing out my week long British showcase with two final reviews featuring bands from both South and North of the border. I'm starting closer to home with North East down tempo nuts Wraiths and their 2012 EP, which has been pressed on tape by Witch Hunter Records. It features five tracks of crushing hardcore, with subtle sludge mixed in for good measure.

Tracklist:-

1. Pyramid Head
2. Church Burner
3. Hell Ride
4. Black Vultures
5. Monolith

Wraiths are one of the latest wave of heavy, thick, sludge-ridden bands to bring out a record during the first half of 2013. With Pyramid Head, they mix that sludge with mosh-friendly passages, rock n roll inspired riffs and hardcore vocals. They even through in some introspective guitar which belies their aggressive nature. These guys must have an eye for evil with a song titled Church Burner. What you get is an emotion filled slab of angry hardcore, with a low-end that threatens to blow the floor out from underneath you. For all the clich├ęs written in that last sentence, this song is genuinely heavy and it proves that you don't need to travel at warp speed to be so.

Some of the riffs Wraiths play provide plenty of down tuned melody and actually show a maturity of a band far beyond their first demo! That's a compliment that these guys really deserve. Hell Ride shows Wraiths settling into their EP and flexing their atmospheric muscles. There's another cleanly plucked passage and a build up of volume that helps make the song more dramatic, while the use of multiple vocalists heaps personality on the recording. The production helps too, as it's clear but holds enough depth to help Wraiths momentum.

One thing I've noticed as the opening bars of Black Vultures rings out, is that the songs are getting progressively longer. The ideas and song writing flows more and that claustrophobic feeling that you witnessed during the opening track seems to get more prevalent. I'm finding hard to think of a similar band, which is odd, as I've been listening to a lot of blackened hardcore of late. Maybe that's testament to Wraiths in that they're not easily classifiable, to these ears anyway.

Fifth and final song Monolith is pretty much as you'd expect from a song that smashes the seven-minute mark. It lurches forward at a mid-pace, bringing to mind bands like Seven Sisters of Sleep or Nails during their slower moments. Interesting anchor point there, as Wraiths manage to keep away from the pitfall of using too many influences and not enough originality. Even if you think you've heard it all before, this will still get to you. It'll burrow its way under your skin and hit you when you least expect it. It's eerily catchy for such a slow record and again proves that speed ain't everything.

This is well worth the small investment and is once again proof that the tape format is still relevant. Nice one!

Just because Witch Hunter Records like to look after you, this tape is streaming in full on their bandcamp page:-



As well as that, it's also up there as a pay-what-you-want download, along with the far more appealing option of a Tape/T-shirt bundle.

If you just want the tape, head here - http://witchhunterrecords.bigcartel.com/.

Wraiths Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/wraithshc
Witch Hunter Records Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/WitchHunterRecords

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Stay The Course - Innocence/These Walls Demo


I'm delving into my review pile with this one. Warren from Hampshire metalcore band Stay The Course got in touch with me last year to tell me that they'd released a two song single/demo. As I'm focusing on British bands this week, I thought I'd dust this off and give a review. Sorry for the delay guys!

Stay The Course are a relatively new band, having formed in early 2012. This two track demo featuring the songs Innocence and These Walls, makes up the first recorded material for the band. Their main focus for this year has been playing live and they've already notched up gigs alongside the mighty Rolo Tomassi and Bastions!

Tracklist:-

1. Innocence
2. These Walls

To some metalcore is now a dirty word, but as it's the sub-genre that got me to where I am today, I still like it. Calling Stay The Course a metalcore band though is doing them a disservice. Innocence is more of a melodic hardcore song, with clean vocals akin to bands like Alexisonfire and Funeral For A Friend. It's fast and punchy, with driving riffs and drums. This really takes me back to when I was discovering bands by sticking on Rock Sound cover mount CDs. A bit of nostalgia from a band who are developing their sound and who aren't afraid to wear their influences on their sleeves in fine by me.

These Walls is harder hitting that the opener, with a hefty breakdown inspired verse and some great screamed vox. The melodic riffs remind me of early Killswitch, which I know is one of the bands influences. The great thing is that Stay The Course don't just ape their influences. They borrow elements from bands and genres and then they mix it into their own style. It's uncomplicated and likeable, which is what you want from music really.

I really enjoyed these two tracks and I hope that Stay The Course keep going and keep writing. There's no reason why they can't fit into the wider scene. Watch this space and see what they come up with next as they're sure to progress their song-writing and only get better.

Both songs are streaming on the band's Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/StayTheCourseUK.

Koresh - Chump


The first thing that popped into my head when I saw this cover was "Wow, My Little Pony's gone satanic!". Before you say it, I know they're unicorns but seen as they're related to horses, the above statement is valid. Anyway, this is my third reviews in my week long series looking at the latest releases from some of the UK's own extreme bands (fourth if you count my earlier review featuring hardcore band Castellan). I'd not really heard of Koresh until I read that Witch Hunter Records were releasing their CD in association with  Withered Hand Records. Earlier in the year, I'd signed up for their Order Of Zealots deal, so this was one of my picks and believe me, the packaging for this CD is brilliant!

For those that don't know, Koresh hail from London and play a sludgy, hardcore-influenced strand of heavy metal, quickly too!

Tracklist:-

1. StraightEdge Till Morning
2. Wogan
3. Cheer Up Glasgow
4. Bin Juice
5. Adolf Hipster
6. Shitbird
7. You Can Call Me Gaahl

As I said above, Koresh don't hang about. Only one of the seven songs on Chump manages to punch through the two-minute mark. They also have a sense of humour, as their song-titles attest. Opening up with StraightEdge Till Midnight, you get greeted with ringing feedback and a song with plenty of rock n roll swagger. The vocals are vicious though and the mixture of full-throttle hardcore and thick sludge sets the stall out early. Wogan starts with a spoken word sampler before going into a maddening mid-paced stomp. One thing you'll notice with Chump is that the production is pretty rough and ready, which actually suits it. Thankfully you're still able to hear some of the more subtle melodies underneath the bass-rumble. I wonder if Cheer Up Glasgow is a dig! Either way, it's a grimy, sloth-like dirge for the first forty seconds before Koresh hits back with more ferocious hardcore noise. The more the vocals worm their way into your ears, the more vicious they sound.

Bin Juice is not nice, it's rancid. This song is pretty rancid too, but in a good way. It features some awesome riffs buried in the mix. Adolf Hipster keeps the squalid momentum going, as the snare blasts away and competes for your ears alongside deep-bass and screaming treble in the verses, before everything settles down mid-way through as Koresh groove their way toward the end. Shitbird is the longest song on Chump, but it's far from a progressive rock-opera. It's more mid-paced than previous songs but it retains that signature sound. The jazzy guitar is the song adds a sense of variation and quality too the song as well. It's always good to hear a little bit of instrumental expression from a band. This is the song title that made me chuckle the most - You Can Call Me Gaahl. Don't know why, it just did. The song itself is one final blast of intense hardcore. There's some nice ambience in the background, but it doesn't quite have the impact due to the bass-heavy production.  

This is one for people that like their music raw and heavy. It's got a pretty unique sound and Koresh are very adept musicians. I really enjoyed it because of that rawness to be honest.

You can listen to Chump in it's entirety via Witch Hunter's bandcamp page:-



You can get Chump as a pay-what-you-want download from the above bandcamp page, but if you want the physical CD, you can get from Witch Hunter Records at http://witchhunterrecords.bigcartel.com/.

Koresh Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/crippledriver