Sunday, 6 July 2014

First Contact Pt.1 - Raum Kingdom/December Youth

First of all, please excuse the silly title of this feature. I couldn't think of anything better. I felt the necessity to write this feature because a while ago, I added a new contact method to the blog to make it easier for me interact with people and for them to interact with me. Well, it seems that the new method is working because I've been contacted by four bands that were totally new to me. This first part features Irish post-metal/sludge band Raum Kingdom and German hardcore band December Youth. The feature also leads me into a week where I'm going to try and bring you more new bands, before I head off on holiday the week after.

Raum Kingdom - S/T EP


Ireland has a knack of producing great sludge bands, with Drainland and Wreck of The Hesperus being just two of them. Raum Kingdom creeped upon us earlier this year and released their self-titled EP in April both digitally and on CD. It has also been released on tape by awesome Welsh label Aonair Productions. Scrolling through their Facebook pictures, many show the band members depicting motionless, dead bodies. I think this sums up the mood and darkness of their music.

Tracklist:-

1. Wounds
2. Barren Objects
3. Cross Reference
4. These Open Arms
5. This Sullen Hope

The atmosphere projected by Raum Kingdom in first song Wounds, is one of menace and mourning. The guitar provides melody and post-metal textures, while the drums are understated and the vocals switch between curdling screams and clean singing, which fits really well and sounds more like a cry.

With Barren Objects, Raum Kingdom carries on down an expansive path. It’s not one you would be expecting either, as the softly sung clean vocals take centre stage from the off. The lowly guitar still hints at the pain and sorrow to follow. It’s a slow and doom-laden affair as it builds, but unlike bands like Cult of Luna, Raum Kingdom retain a sense of mystery that comes with not sticking to the usual quiet/loud dynamic. Think of The End’s last album Elementary (Relapse) and you’d be in the right ball park in terms of reference points. 

Cross Reference starts with an epic thought provoking spoken word sample, with more beautiful guitar. The song isn’t as lengthy as those before it, but it’s no less thought provoking. Emotional rhyming poetry that really makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. It leads instantly into These Open Arms, which leaves it’s mark straight away thanks to the return of more hellish screams. The jarring, off-kilter feel of the instrumentation here shows a different edge to Raum Kingdom and the shorter length gives them urgency. I really like the variation they’ve managed to weave into this EP, while sticking to a loose yet heavy blueprint. 

Ending things with sub ten-minute song This Sullen Hope, Raum Kingdom channel their final ounces of rage and despair. Being their longest song, it includes different elements such as clean vocals that bring Chino Moreno (Deftones) to mind. Away from that comparison, Raum Kingdom hit a heavier stride later on. It’s a chance to show off their heavier side once more and it’s especially welcome during the sludgier passage in the final third of the song. Thick riffs and cymbal-led percussion provide a wall of noise that leaves no doubt as to the power and ability of this band.

If this is the strength of debut EP’s in the year 2014, then we’re gonna be in for one hell of a year. While there are hundreds of bands vying for your attention everyday, it’s heartwarming to know that the bands with true feeling and emotion are the one’s producing the best music. Raum Kingdom are such a band.

The EP is up for free download on Raum Kingdom's bandcamp page. You can also pick up a CD, which is housed in a hand-cut card sleeve -



Tape copies can be picked up from Aonair Productions here - http://aonairproductions.bigcartel.com

Raum Kingdom Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Raum-Kingdom
Aonair Productions Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/AonairProductions

December Youth - Transgressions EP



December Youth mix melodic-hardcore with punk. This Dusseldorf quartet released their debut EP Transgressions in May and have only just played their first live-show, alongside Caught In A Crowd (React Records) and previously reviewed band Dull Eyes (Headless Guru Records) in their hometown. Their allegiance to the melodic-hardcore/metal scene that's blossoming in Europe at the moment, gives them an accessible edge. Like Raum Kingdom above, December Youth have a real DIY ethic, producing their own CDs as well as merch to take to shows, which alongside their music has got them noticed and onto the support bill for Evergreen Terrace's show in Jena in August.

Tracklist:-

1. A Backward Glance
2. 13
3. A Promise
4. First Part of A Tragedy
5. Chasing Dreams

I have a soft spot for melodic hardcore, which has been growing in recent months. It might have something to do with the bands I grew up listening to once I passed my nu-metal phase. Either way, December Youth do nothing to dissuade me from forsaking it. Transgressions’ opening salvo A Backward Glance features that “shout-from-the-rooftops” feel that seems to draw me toward melodic-hardcore. Coupled with the simple but effective instrumentation, it’s a great opener. 13 relies more on the band’s punk influence than the opener, with a faster tempo and more upbeat feel. In spite of that, they’ve still been canny enough to fit in some great riffs. The guitar that starts off A Promise really tugs at my heartstrings. Don’t worry, I’m not going all emo on you, but I am a sucker for melody. 

December Youth move back into more expansive territory with First Part of A Tragedy. This is where the production pays dividends for the band. The vocals jump out of the speakers like Chris is in the room with you. The instrumentation isn’t buried in the mix and provides the perfect backdrop, that filters into EP closer Chasing Dreams. It borrows from the opener and feels just as epic. December Youth are another extremely assured band, who’s confidence is more than backed up by their music. Transgressions is really uplifting and shows that Europe is leading the way in the sub-genre. Great work!

You can stream Transgressions and get it as a name-your-price download here -



You can grab their CD and merch from here - http://decemberyouth.bigcartel.com/

December Youth Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/decemberyouthhc

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