Tuesday 30 June 2015

Underground Uncovered #3: O Graceful Musing's Burden

I've been eager to get another one of these features up, but after pondering who to write about, I noticed an e-mail from German band O Graceful Musing's Burden and they seemed to fit the bill. After all, this series is about bands that might be under people's radar. OGMB reside in Chemnitz and Leipzig and play music filled with black metal, ambient noise, spoken word and more besides. Founded in 2009, they released their first record, [ST:AM:PD:T:RAIL] in 2010 and followed it with EP Two in 2012. They've recently released their new three-track album, Im Draußen Bricht Sich Das Drinnen in April. I caught up with Guitarist/Drummer Christoph to find out more about the band.

TNIO: Can you provide an introduction into O Graceful Musing’s Burden and who the band members are? How did you form?

OGMB: The band was founded in 2009 by Simon, a close friend of mine, on guitar and me, mainly on drums; but I also had a couple of ideas on guitar. So we both threw our ideas together. And for we were only two, we created pieces that consisted of parts for guitar and drums and other parts for two guitars, like our first piece, called „alas“, which is on our first album entitled „[st:am:pd:t:rail]“. Later Tobi, with whom I had played in a band called Philosopher, joined us on bass. He since then also was responsible for the additional sounds and synthesisers we incorporated and that still today are essential elements in our music. With Tobi in the band we could stick to the kind of music we already had begun to experiment with, because in several meanings he – as person and by the musical elements he contributed – was the perfect nexus between Simon and me respectively our musical voices: on the one hand because of the bass, on the other because of the aforesaid additional sounds, mostly field recordings – this really helped to create those long pieces with their transitions and different ambience. 

Simon left the band in 2012 or so to concentrate on his other band called continents. After having released a 30-minute two-piece album called „two“ and several of shows that we played as duo Carsten joined the band. (I had been playing bass in Carsten‘s former band Barren Soil, therefore we knew each other). We needed quite a bit still to find together, I think, but now it often feels like we are looking in the same direction. On the new album there‘s a piece called „inward passage“, which is based on his ideas. Working on it was an interesting process, not only of creating music, but also of finding together. With reference to the album several people said about this piece that it‘s of integrity though leading through a diversity of moods and ambienc. Likewise, for us, it traces an important step towards integrity as a band.

TNIO: What drew you into playing the music that you do? What influences you when writing?

OGMB: To me, this all feels rather abstract and doesn‘t follow a formula. A new musical idea comes to my mind, to my hands (i. e. when jamming) really differently. sometimes by an idea on guitar which I‘ve been playing for some time and eventually evolves to a bigger motif, sometimes a new noise or tune comes out of the instrument – obviously stimulated by my own hands – and inspires a whole theme. but this is only an instrument-based part of creating. There are further approaches which can initiate a piece or contribute to it – all the thinking and musing, for example, ranging from the existential to the trivial. It came that we began to work with literature, that means we incorporate poems or excerpts of literature into our music, either read aloud or printed in a booklet for the listener himself to read (and decide when, where and how to read it). Therefore these texts are also involved in creating. It‘s like a dialogue and a comparison between the own thinking and the thoughts recognised in the texts, lead by the question  what is expressed by these words and what are a my thoughts about it. Usually I try to find a text which, to me, represents thoughts or moods I had when a piece or an idea of a piece came to my mind. Furthermore it also happens that I‘m impressed by a thought written in a text and/or by the language, so that it inspires me. 

TNIO: You guys released “Im draußen bricht sich das drinnen” earlier this year. You’ve paid a lot of attention to detail on both the album itself and the packaging for the cassette. How did things go leading up to the release of the album and how important are the visuals to you as a band?

OGMB: Of the pieces on „im draußen...“ the last one, „Ianus“ is derived from a draft I recorded in 2007 for another project of mine called Within Dream‘s Realm. Later, in 2011 or so I began to experiment with its theme again and eventually it formed the basis of what we recorded in 2014 and included in the album. As I already mentioned above, „inward passage“ is a piece initiated by Carsten; the missing title, „nuboeiro acrarante“, is based on an idea of mine. Rehearsing, arranging, rearranging, experimenting with structures and so on we elaborated these ideas until they became what they are now. We recorded the pieces in July/August 2014 in our little rehearsal room/studio. They were later on mixed by Fountainhead, with whom I got acquainted some months before meeting friends in Berlin. Finally we‘re able to get Colin Marston on board for the mastering. 

As for the visuals, they're very important to us. not only regarding the artwork of an album, but also when it comes to live shows, where we always work with visuals, and thus add a further element to the music. Several people told that they really found it an interesting experience. (This is a very interesting topic; I mean, seeing as a means of perception is really important, I think, compared to hearing or, say, smelling. Now, imagine yourself standing in the audience of a live concert and ask yourself what are you focusing on, are you watching? Listening? Both? What else do you perceive and how and how does it feel? Anyway!). What concerns the visuals mostly Tobi, our bass player, comes up with ideas (really good ones, I think), which we then usually discuss and elaborate together. Likewise we worked on the artwork of „im draußen...“. We decided to make a booklet containing three chapters which represent the three pieces. The whole design, as it is now – a stamped cardboard box containing booklet, a sticker, download code and the tape itself – became certain when we decided to make a tape. And at least I‘m really satisfied and happy with the way it finally chose release it.

TNIO: What has the reaction to the album been like since its release? 

OGMB: All the reactions on the new album are really positive so far. I‘m really happy that also reviewers say it is a versatile and varied album and that they emphasise that there are interesting and surprising transitions between different moods and themes. The opinions tend to concede originality to the music, which is very important to me. There are a couple of reviews on live shows we played telling we had been playing typical post rock music – please don‘t get me wrong, I have no problem with people who don‘t like our music or who use the common categories to describe it – but sometimes it seems to me people either don‘t know how to „apply“ a genre name or don‘t know that it‘s just a means of describing reality without being capable of grasping reality in every aspect. And if a band is said to play post rock, obviously only because the guitarist uses some delay every once in a while and because there is no singer, I think this is simply wrong. Then it would be better to try to describe the music without using the common jargon. But that‘s another topic ...

TNIO: One of the main purposes of these interviews is to find out first-hand how emerging bands find the transition from forming, to releasing music and touring. How have you guys found it and what experience have you gained from it? 

OGMB: As probably most new founded bands so did we, in the beginning, experience being driven by the new, by experimenting, treading on new paths (at least from our perspective), receiving the first reactions, playing first shows and so on. I was convinced we were playing good and interesting music and always wanted to play more shows with this band. But I found it really difficult to organise even single concerts, or just didn‘t know how to do it. After Simon had left the band and we're only two, at times it seemed we wouldn‘t exist any longer. We simply didn't know how to go on, and felt limited by the possibilities of expressions that our two instruments offered (or what we thought they offered) and though we're used to work with a computer this alone just couldn't be the nexus or the complementary element. But then we found a way and eventually played a couple shows only the two of us. Since Carsten joined we played quite a number shows, released a new album. Those are great achievements. To me one of the most important experiences is to have a good time while playing music, while being creative. That is, to spend time with people I want to spend time with, because for certain reasons it‘s just good. Also important is to observe and to reflect on what happens (to me, to the other people in the band, also to the audience) when we play our music. What do I think and feel? In the end I can say I really appreciate to be able to play the music I want to play together with the people I want to play it. If we happen to play concerts as well, fine. If not, fine as well.

TNIO: Following on from the above question, what advice would you give to new bands who’re maybe writing/recording an album and looking for shows?

OGMB: Hm, my advice would probably be: Ask yourself why you're making music. This could be quite heavy but should help to grow as an artist and as a person (or the other way around?). For example, to me it sounds strange to hear people say they had to write two more songs to finish the album or whatever. – Why do they have to? And what is such a „song“ then? And why is it? And how can I be creative if I have to? Is this creativity then or routine? And why to play music publicly, at all? Well, it's always questionable to say that something is better or worse than another or to tell others what to do. That's why I think the people themselves have to figure out what they are doing and why. And in a band this could be even better because you can discuss it with your bandmates and thus exchange opinions which is always helpful to find out about yourself.

TNIO: As a live band, you’re played some really mixed bills. How good is your local extreme metal scene at the moment and do you have any interaction with bands outside of it?

OGMB: „extreme metal scene“ sounds a bit strange to me, but sure, you are right – we somehow could be described like that, too. In fact all of us used to play in death metal bands before and are kind of familiar with the scene, but with OGMB we usually play shows in different locations, rather in squats or similar places. Though in the Leipzig area you happen to see metal heads, punks, hardcore fans at the same shows there are still clichés and reservation towards music/bands/people being considered different. – Hm, this is probably the same topic as I already mentioned above when talking about genres. Sure, there are many people who are open-minded and seek to combine different styles of music. But it's for sure as well, unfortunately, that if you tend to the uncommon you'll experience difficulties. Friends of mine, for example, play in a band called Krelm. They themselves call their style „suprising metal“, others would probably call it krautmetal. They played a real good concert last year in October. To me everything sounded and felt perfect, I was impressed by their musicality and musical wit. But the bigger part of the audience that beforehand was celebrating rather average stoner rock had disappeared and Krelm were playing to a bunch of friends and enthusiasts. I could add more examples and I think everyone else reading this, too. But in my opinion this shouldn‘t lead to the common thrust of complaining, which, I fear, doesn‘t change anything. At the same time I haven‘t found yet anything ripe to add to the issue. 

TNIO: What are your future plans as a band? 

OGMB: To be honest there are no certain plans. All of us are in several other bands and projects and I think o graceful musing's burden is a band we regard more and more calmly, that is to say, as a project where nothing has to be done unless it feels like it. We are working on a new piece at the moment, which has, if I was to describe it, a more open character, feels really light, at times almost Cynic-ish (without claiming we sounded like them). I thought of maybe make a split release with only this piece or so, but it was just a thought – and I didn't think it any further, like which band to ask to take part and so on. We'll see!


1. Nuboeiro Acrarante
2. Inward Passage
3. Ianus

O Graceful Musing’s Burden has a really broad musical palette, as demonstrated in the above interview and hearing Im Draußen Bricht Sich Das Drinnen compounds that notion. Opening piece Nuboeiro Acrarante contains a vast instrumental build up of percussion, as well as both electric and acoustic guitars. OGMB head into expansive post-metal, filled with crunching riffs and ambient melodies. Around the six-minute mark, the song settles into a meandering passage of noise and quietly plucked acoustic guitar that brings to mind the more ambient side of black metal. For an instrumental band, OGMB provides plenty of imagery, hidden with their quiet/loud dynamic, only occasionally breaking into upbeat post-rock territory. Their compositions follow each other without pause and are linked via subtle ambience. Inward Passage builds on OGMB’s progressive nature, though it isn’t as immediate as Nuboeiro Acrarante. There’s more use of synths during Inward Passage and it in fact acts as a vessel for inward thought and reflection, which may be what the band intended. It’s also the first time that spoken word is heard amongst the music. OGMB use two readings from “Cancion Ultima” by Miguel Hernandez Gilabert and “White Flag” by Jack London during the record, which add an extra haunting layer to their music. It’s during Inward Passage that OGMB hit their most violent high, in terms of musical battery. Flailing, thrashing blackened guitar that makes up small sections during the song. OGMB take you through many different movements and on Ianus, the quiet backdrop that greets the Spanish spoken word is especially calming after the heavier Inward Passage. They may be a three-piece, but this band sure knows how to create big soundscapes that touch your soul. There are also subtle hints of screamo and indie melodies in Ianus, but I say that in hushed tones as I’m sure the band sees them as more experimental textures instead. These three tracks come in at nearly an hour and are totally worth the time. OGMB have written and released music that speaks more than any band with a traditional frontman as it’s mouthpiece. If the doesn’t restore your faith in originality and creativity in music, especially in the wake of a certain rap star proclaiming he’s the “greatest rock star in the world”, then quite frankly you need your head seeing to. There’s more to our lives than the manufactured shite that mainstream media feeds us and this is where you start to realise it.

You can stream and purchase a digital download of Im Draußen Bricht Sich Das Drinnen below:-

O Graceful Musing's Burden has also crafted a great tape package for this release, house in a card CD  size box, which can be purchased from their bandcamp page above.

O Graceful Musing's Burden Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/ogracefulmusingsburden

Monday 29 June 2015

Exciting Noise: What's Out There And What's To Come

This little round-up morphed out of a Facebook post I made a couple of months ago, where I shared and tagged a load of newly released or up-coming music and bands that I was excited about. I've decided it would gain more traction if I posted it here instead. It's not exhaustive but features things I've seen or heard that will hopefully get a few people interested enough to check it out.

Firstly, starting with underground label Goatprayer Records (the label that introduced me and many others to Napalm Christ) who've recently posted pre-orders for new tapes by UK death/black metal acts Vacivus and Bonetomb. Both are shifting so head to Goatprayer's store to grab them now. Both Halo Of Flies and Here And Now Records (apologies, can't find a page link) have started pre-orders for the new Suffering Mind/Lifes Split 7". Pre-order here (US peeps) and here (Euro peeps). Liverpool's finest sludgers Iron Witch have announced a new single and tape, that's available through Secret Law Records and features a new line-up. The new single "Left Behind" will feature on the new album out Winter 2015. Finnish black metallers Pantheon Of Blood have approved the tests for the vinyl pressing of Tetrasomia. It will be released via Deviant Records soon. Cult UK black ambient label Glorious North Productions has just released a very limited 50 tape run for new UKBM act Helledeofol. Also, longrunning black metal band Caina has announced that they will be releasing a new LP in 2016 and have signed to new label Apocalyptic Witchcraft.

You can stream various things by some of the bands mentioned in this post below:-

Vacivus - Rite Of Ascension EP

Bone Tomb - Tombs Of Blood EP

Suffering Mind/Lifes - Split 7" Stream

Helledeofol - Beyond All Evil

ADED - Monstrum EP


1. Rat Psalm
2. Bottom Feeding Frenzy
3. The Sleep Of Fear Creates Monsters
4. It Struck Him And He Recognised The Footprints In The Thunder

I've been sat in front of the TV for most of the day, nursing a strange and painful stiffness in the neck and left shoulder, but it's eased off enough for me to feel like moving around. I've also been going through some past contact I've had from bands, who I still haven't featured on here, which is where this review comes in. Italian band ADED have only been active since the second half of 2014 and released their debut EP Monstrum last September. Since then they've had the EP's second track, Bottom Feeding Frenzy featured on one of the consistently brilliant digital comps put together by The Death Of A Modernist. They lay claim to mathcore and hardcore amongst their musical influences.

I love going into a release without knowing what to expect and that’s exactly how I felt when I pressed play on Monstrum. Opening song Rat Psalm builds slowly with clean guitar and hissing rain in the background. The drum recording sounds very DIY and fits the EP well. When ADED eventually hit their stride, they straddle genres with heavy hardcore instrumentation and death metal/blackened hardcore vox. It’s certainly bloody heavy with just the right amount of experimentation thrown in for good measure. There’s no easy way to describe ADED’s sound, as Bottom Feeding Frenzy is all over the place. The time signatures and stop/start feel of the song is reminiscent of early TDEP (that old Chestnut again!) and the like. It’s heavy and that’s all that matters. ADED even has time to put some nice atmospheric leads into it. The strings and orchestration at the beginning of The Sleep Of Fear… is a world away from what’s about to be witnessed. For a moment you’re whisked away to another world, before crashing down to solid ground again as ADED’s crunching metal fills the airwaves. They flit between curious rock and extreme metal throughout. The Sleep Of Fear… accentuates the progression within ADED and makes them sound like more than just a new (possibly studio?) band. The guitar work midway through from Ian Day is pretty impressive on the ear. The bass that draws you into final track It Struck Him… sounds Mastodon-esque. The percussion is very controlling in this song, where it’s position in the mix makes it more prominent. That intensity suits ADED well and the whole song rages to the tune of black metal guitar. This is ADED’S most technical song and it’s utterly brilliant. It Struck Him… is the standout track on Monstrum for me, but the whole EP is strong and ADED sound a lot more assured than they really should. I implore you to take a listen!

You can stream and grab Monstrum as a pay-what-you-want download below:-

ADED Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/adedband

Saturday 27 June 2015

Art Of Burning Water/Isolation Tank - Start Tomorrow Split 7"


1. Art Of Burning Water - Talking To Will Elvin About Al Kizys
2. Art Of Burning Water - Birmingham Is Not The Same Without You
3. Art Of Burning Water - No, I Won't Still Be Loving You Tomorrow
4. Isolation Tank - Binge
5. Isolation Tank - Skin Prison
6. Isolation Tank - Threads

Late last year saw the release of this split between two of the UK's busiest noise bands (in recent times anyway). Art Of Burning Water were pretty busy last year, releasing this 7" alongside their latest full-length, while Isolation Tank made their first foray onto vinyl. It was brought into this world by a trio of UK labels, Superfi Records, Survivor Guilt Records and Vetala Productions. I'm casually late in reviewing it as usual!

Both bands contribute three songs to this split. Art Of Burning Water’s song contain titles with references that I’m probably not meant to get, but that’s not the point as they play such heavy music anyway. They seem to have taken black metal into their noisy stable of late and their opener Talking To Will Elvin… is utterly oppressive. Things don’t get any better on Birmingham…, where the sound pretty much sums up the glumness that you feel when venturing into the Black Country’s main city (apologies to people I know from Birmingham, but it is a little depressing). Art Of Burning Water are a lot more madcap than I remember and after the amusing sample, No, I Won’t Still Be Loving You Tomorrow is the exact opposite of a love song, It’s a sub one-minute blast of infectious yet chaotic noise. Isolation Tank fill their side with more feedback and drone, especially during the opening bars of Binge. Like AOBW, they don’t hang around and their particular brand of crusty powerviolence is equally as bewildering. Just like the charm of Magpies currently congregating outside my window, Isolation Tank are menacing on Skin Prison. They take no prisoners (no pun intended) and their dirtier sound is just right, especially during their riffier sections.This split ends in exactly the same way it started. Threads is steeped in grinding fury and bass-heavy noise, as Isolation Tank threatens to explode. I’m not sure if a band encased in wax has ever actually exploded, but that picture is easily conjured up after listening to this record. One is a veteran (if I can call them that) of the UK heavy music scene and the other is a relative newbie coming on strong, but as always, we’ve been shown the way by both Art Of Burning Water and Isolation Tank and are heading straight for the rocky outcrop that will spell out our fate!

Stream the split here:-

You can purchase digital downloads and physical copies from the following places:-

Art Of Burning Water Bandcamp - https://artofburningwater.bandcamp.com/album/isolation-tank-split
Isolation Tank Bandcamp - https://isolation-tank.bandcamp.com/releases
Superfi Records Limitedrun - http://superfirecords.limitedrun.com
Surivor Guilt Records Discogs - http://www.discogs.com/label/Survivor-Guilt-Records
Vetala Productions Bigcartel - http://vetalaproductions.bigcartel.com

Art Of Burning Water Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/aobwmusic
Isolation Tank Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/isolationtank
Superfi Records Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/superfirecords
Vetala Productions Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/vetalaproductions

Allfather - No Gods. No Masters. EP


1. The Great Destroyer
2. No Justice/No Peace
3. Post-Austerity Blues
4. The Worms Won't Have Us

Here's the debut EP from Kentish doom/sludge/hardcore quartet Allfather. "No Gods. No Masters." was released digitally in April. The South of England is brimming with loads of great heavy bands right, including Torpor and Sea Bastard, yet there's always room for more in my opinion. Allfather have managed to get on bills alongside Pay No Respect and Title Fight merely a month after the EP release, so they must have made a decent impression.

Like a faster version of Sea Bastard or a groovier version of Teef, Allfather kick out some loud hardcore-tinged jams on No Gods. No Masters. The Great Destroyer is full of anti-political sentiment and anger. Not to mention cracking instrumentation and vox. Rifling through No Justice/No Peace, there’s a curios hint of melody in the vocals. It’s faster and takes some cues from the abstract side of punk. It’s definitely worth playing this to your god-fearing friends. What follows is a dense and brief blast of hardcore in Post-Austerity Blues, followed by fuzzed out bass and guitar on The Worms Won’t Have Us. This whole EP is a nod to the declining dirtiness of our fair isle. The anger that Allfather feel is more than palpable and it’s well worth getting behind, as it improves the experience of No Gods. No Masters perfectly. Whoever said it was “Grim Up North” hasn’t been down South recently!

You can stream the EP and download it (pay-what-you-want) here:-

Allfather - https://www.facebook.com/allfathermetaluk

Thursday 25 June 2015

Hellbound - Rhythm & Booze


1. Curb Warfare
2. Moose Knuckle
3. Wheelbite
4. Rhythm & Booze
5. Wasters
6. Stone Eyes

I saw this North-East lot in Leeds back in April, supporting Belgian's Outline. They came armed with groove-laden hardcore that made the mixed bill that night even more fun. They played songs from their EP Rhythm & Booze that came out via Footloose Records late last year. They regularly spotted on stage in Middlesborough and the surrounding area and they're working on new tunes at the moment. 

Taking cues from Cancer Bats, Pantera and following in the footsteps of Sheffield’s Relics on this blog, Hellbound bring stoner-groove and hardcore bite on Rhythm & Booze opener Curb Warfare. Hellbound major on big riffs and really solid lead-work, while keeping the aggressiveness level high. Moose Knuckle’s intro is so catchy and soon the song morphs into a fast slab of crossover. They’re frenetic on Wheelbite, which conjures up visions of rabid circle pits and flailing limbs. I remember there was lots of jumping at the Leeds show and seem to remember one guy two-stepping quite a bit, while Hellbound played. The title-track sums Hellbound up, with rowdy shouty hardcore and gang-vox. If bands like Orange Goblin have become the drinker’s favourite heavy band, there’s no reason why Hellbound can’t follow in the same way live. The breakdowns and the anger that’s present on Wasters are great if you want to get rid of frustration and lose your shit! The countrified EP closer Stone Eyes drags you into a false sense of security with great guitar work, before smashing one last breeze-block over your head. It’s their longest song and also their most sludge-filled. Hellbound accentuate how well cross-genre pollination works. Sorry if that sentence sound too pretentious, but it’s my way of saying they’re good. 

Stream and purchase the EP from Hellbound here:-

You can also grab is digitally from Footloose Records here - https://footlooserecords.bandcamp.com/album/hellbound-rhythm-booze and physically from them here - http://footlooserecords.limitedrun.com/

Wednesday 24 June 2015

Blaze Of Perdition - Near Death Revelations


1. KrA"lestwo Niczyje
2. Into The Void Again
3. When Mirrors Shatter
4. Dreams Shall Flesh
5. Cold Morning Fears
6. The Tunnel
7. Of No Light

It takes a huge amount of grace and character for band to carry on after a tragic event. Blaze Of Perdition know this only too well. Their new full-length Near Death Revelations tells their story via gloriously belligerent black metal. This album is their way of announcing their return to the stage and indeed to extreme metal as a whole. Near Death Revelations is due for official release on June 26th via Agonia Records.

Long after certain bands went the way of death metal, the black fires are still burning in Poland. Blaze Of Perdition prove that their passion for extreme metal is still raging on Near Death Revelations. KrA”lestwo Niczyje is provides them with a gargantuan platform in which to spread their occult hatred. The mother tongue of vocalist S makes their black metal sound more menacing, while the metallic guitar and occasional solos sound masterful amongst the backdrop of warp-speed drumming. They turn up the pace on Into The Void Again, which flows with impressive urgency but one that still allows you to enjoy it. Thankfully Blaze Of Perdition have the wherewithal to maintain a high level of songwriting, so the song doesn’t become lucid or atonal. To me, that is a sign of good musicians who know how to craft an album. As When Mirrors Shatter begins, it reminds me of when I first came into contact with black metal through magazines like Rock Sound and Kerrang!. Those early steps resulted in me listening to bands like Dimmu Borgir and similar bands, who were average at best when I look back now. Hearing bands like Blaze Of Perdition and UK bands like Nordland has helped me really appreciate the craft involved in creating really engaging black metal. When Mirrors Shatter itself is full of subtle layers of instrumentation and vocal work that encases you. Things hit a rampant high on Dreams Shall Flesh, which is full of manic double-bass. It’s kept in check by shorter introspective passages that break up the pace. The dark and dank atmospherics that nestle in the music are the strongest textures on Near Death Revelations. Cold Morning Fears is utterly brilliant with its mix of ambient clean guitar, solos and more technicality than your average tech-death band. That technicality is used subtly though and doesn’t lord over the rest of the music. Prior to their closing number, Blaze Of Perdition fit in The Tunnel, which is a short instrumental interlude. That interludes leads to Of No Light, which is the most majestic song on Near Death Revelations. It’s a good ploy to wait until the end of the album to unleash it as well. It brings Blaze Of Perdition’s overall performance into even greater perspective and proves that they’re well and truly back. I know that plenty of heavy metal media outlets have already clambered to get their reviews of this record out there and to be honest, I can’t blame them. Near Death Revelations will definitely have a big impact on this year’s “best-of” lists, especially due to it’s quality and heartfelt delivery.

You can stream the album's first two tracks via Agonia Records here:-

Digital pre-orders can be made via the above bandcamp page and physical CD/LP pre-orders can be made here - https://www.agoniarecords.com/

Blaze Of Perdition Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/blazeofperdition
Agonia Records Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/agoniarecords

Sunday 21 June 2015

Izah - Sistere


1. Indefinite Instinct
2. Duality
3. Finite Horizon
4. Sistere

Tilburg in The Netherlands is well known for it's hosting of Roadburn Festival and Neurotic Deathfest, so it should come as no surprise that the city also has its own booming extreme metal scene. One band that has risen out of it this year is Izah. After forming in 2006 and following the release of their debut EP in 2008 and a split with Fire Walk With Us four years later, Izah have finally released their debut full-length via Nordvis Produktion. I've listened to this record a couple of times prior to writing this review and it's pretty stunning. Izah have obviously hit Roadburn a few times!

Izah is all about the slow build. No track here is under ten minutes in length and Indefinite Instinct opens Sistere with a winding and swirling wall of noise. What follows it is a mixture of jazz, clean guitar and post-metal/sludge growls. Their sound is more controlled than the sound of Neurosis for me and I hear hints of Light Bearer in here too. The full band sections are interspersed with ambience and quite melodramas. The spoken-word that fills the mid-section is emotive and rousing, while Izah rely more on their instruments and less on the vocals as a focal point within their music. With the help of subtle clean singing and synths, Izah adds for more layers to their sound and it becomes more encompassing. Duality may share its name with a Slipknot song, but that’s where any similarities between the two end. Its pointless comparing the two for obvious reasons. Duality follows the path trodden by Sistere’s opener and adds more melody and atmosphere to it. The hooks created by that lead riff three-minutes in is joyful to hear. It’s also where the band’s sludge really comes into its own. They slow the pace right down with the use of some huge riffs and what follows is eerily calming, for a short time anyway. The latter half of the song starts to descent into chaos with samples and angular noise ringing out mid-way through. It’s stark and it reminds you that the atrocities that we face on a daily basis are very real. Things get steadily heavier as Sistere goes on. Finite Horizon first appeared on Izah’s debut EP in 2008 and has been re-worked here. This is a massive slab of doom/death that comes as a bit of a shock after the conclusion of Duality. That being said, it is still full of impressive ambience that sits high in the mix. The previous three songs are really just a taste of what Izah bring with their closing title-track. Making up over thirty-minutes of this bewildering album, this is bound to test every emotion you have. The lead guitar that has washed over the record continues to make itself heard, providing a magical soundstage in the process. At times the song descends into driving instrumental black metal territory and even contains small similarities to Deafheaven. Idaho take a break from their darker selves with an interlude-like section of haunting samples and electronics. The brass section that comes later in Sistere is a really nice touch and shines more light on their music. It’s final descent into feedback-let mayhem is like the last breaths of a dying behemoth. Izah have raised the bar very high in extreme metal terms with Sistere and boy is it good. Could probably end up being a lot of people’s album of the year.

You can stream and purchase Sistere in all formats here:-

Izah Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/IZAHband
Nordvis Produktion Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/nordvis

Desert Afternoon - S/T EP


1. Cammelli Fertili, Deserto Mobili
2 Racconti Pomeridiani

I started writing this review while I was halfway through my recent feature on Mind Ripper Collective, but then my Internet connection started to intermittently started to fail. Considering that I rely on a constantly functioning connection to keep this thing going, it's still my worst enemy. This review is actually part of a renewed effort by me to post up some obscure bands and releases that are a bit older. Desert Afternoon are a sort of math-screamo band from Italy who contacted me a while back about their two-track EP. There's little or nothing online about the band and it may not even be a band still, but it's always good to explore obscure gems from time to time. What I do know is that it's the solo-project of a dude called Edwin, from Italian hardcore band Seesaw.

All instruments are played by Edwin here and Desert Afternoon plays cool and violent screamo that sounds like a cross between Shizune and Blue Friend. Cammelli fertili… begins with light and mathy instrumentation before relenting to subtle emo-violence. There’s still melody sitting below it and that keeps an awesome vibe going. Racconti Pomeridiani is more urgent straight from the off. There’s definitely a place for Desert Afternoon in people’s consciousness. Italy kills it as far as I’m concerned and Desert Afternoon is well worth checking out, as I’m sure this EP passed a lot of people by.

You can stream the EP and grab it as a name-your-price download here - 

Friday 19 June 2015

Grind Your Mind - Mind Ripper Collective

After starting out as a show promoter, bringing fast and heavy music to Edinburgh (as well as featuring the artist behind my digital download comp "Reverberations Vol 1" in 2013, Mind Ripper Collective started spitting out disgustingly noisy powerviolence at the end of last year. This feature gathers together the label's first releases, as well as taking a look at the soon to be released Spazz tribute comp and even a new song from one of the bands on their roster. I've also elected to include a couple of releases that are linked, but weren't released by MRC. So, sit back and try not to move (I dare ya!). 

Wolfe/Fifteen Dead - Split 7"


1. Wolfe - XIV
2. Wolfe - VII
3. Fifteen Dead - AntiTheist

This split was originally released in 2013 and features Fifteen Dead (Scottish crusty noise makers that featured members of current MRC bands) and Wolfe (whom I can't really find any info on). The reason for this 7"s inclusion in this feature is that it forms part of the "collective" jigsaw that makes up Mind Ripper Collective.

Wolfe spread their contribution over two tracks and opener XIV is as primitive as you’d like! Stop/start instruments, high-pitched shrieks and buzzsaw guitars make their blackened-grind sound pretty terrifying. They flail even faster on VII, which lasts just over ninety-seconds and harks back to grind’s early days and bands like Electro Hippies and of course Spazz. In fact, this very feature took it’s name from a CD compilation I picked up about eight year ago featuring those bands and many more of the genre’s early protagonists. Fifteen Dead are a different prospect on AntiTheist. Starting with an acoustic intro that morphs into noise. Soon after, they settle into a mid-paced groove that’s almost goth-like. That doesn’t last long though and things soon head back into more familiar territory. Fifteen Dead are less chaotic but no less noisy. Their anthemic crust containing layers of hardcore. It’s over pretty quickly but both bands present stark atmospheres and provide an insight into what to expect from MRC in the future.

Fifteen Dead Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/fifteendead
Wolfe - M.I.A

Endless Swarm - Lobotomy Tape


1. Transorbital
2. Lobotomy
3. Drone Control
4. Distorted Reality
5. Jonestown Delirium
6. Force Fed
7. Japanese Buzzsaw
8. Master Cleanser
9. No Hope
10. Benoit
11. Borehole

I recently saw Endless Swarm alongside fellow scots Boak in Leeds, supporting the mighty Magrudergrind as part of an all-day grind gig. I was a bit pissed and they were awesome! They're part of a new wave of powerviolence bands to come out of Scotland recently and they're certainly putting it on the map. Heck, they're gonna be sharing the stage with Cloud Rat in Edinburgh this July! Chances are, some of you who read this will have caught them on their recent tour with Brainshit, so will aleady know about them. Their EP, Lobotomy, was released right at the end of last year and there's even been a second run pressed. Again, this wasn't actually released by MRC but is related.

You know what you’re getting with powerviolence by now, but that doesn’t make it any less fun. Endless Swarm fill their's with all kinds of weird noise and electronics, in a kind of Full Of Hell crossed with Sloth Hammer kind of way. EP opener Transorbital perfectly sums that opening gambit up with the addition of a pretty stark sample explaining how to do perform a violent full-frontal lobotomy. They follow with thirty seconds of bass-heavy, dual vocalised mayhem on their title-track. Their sound is raw and infectious, with longer songs like Drone Control filled with a mix of changing time-signatures and riffs. They throw death-metal growls into the stupidly catchy Distorted Reality. Jonestown Delirium features a haunting sample from the massacre itself and something tells me that the song is anti-religious in it’s angry message. Endless Swarm don’t just play brief blasts of grind though, they also do slow sludge well. Force Fed is full of it and gives Lobotomy an evil edge, especially when it descends into mayhemic white noise. It ends with another portion of that graphic sample, before Endless Swarm spit out their own three-second fit of noise in the form of Japanese Buzzsaw before blasting you into submission on Master Cleanser. They sum up the feelings of the majority on No Hope, which has one of the best breakdowns this side of Magrudergrind themselves! All metal and grind fans enjoy a bit of Wrestling and Endless Swarm recognise this with the inclusion of penultimate song Benoit. They conclude Lobotomy with the pensive, noise-laden Borehole. It’s always interesting (at least to me anyway) to hear the beginnings of bands like Endless Swarm. They are really good live and equally on tape. You can have your beatdown and your crowd-killing. I’m happy right here with powerviolence.

Endless Swarm Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/EndlessSwarm

Godhole - S/T Double EP


Side A - 
1. Glorious Rotten
2. Emerald Youngster
3. Atrocious Forgotten
4. Diamond Scar
5. Eternal Poisonous
6. Ruby Bizarre
7. Never Healing Gold

Side B - 
8. Glorious Rotten
9. Emerald Youngster
10. Atrocious Forgotten
11. Diamond Scar
12. Eternal Poisonous
13. Ruby Bizarre
14. Never Healing Gold

This double EP marked the first release proper from MRC. It features ex-members of Fifteen Dead and is a bit of a unique release. On side A, Godhole presents powerviolence and on side B noise, but as you've probably already noticed, the songs titles are the same on both. Godhole's double EP was released on both 7" and tape late last year. 

Godhole take noisy powerviolence to a whole new level. Their double debut EP is a massive sign of intent. They’re an inventive bunch too. Side A’s openers Glorious Rotten and Emerald Youngster come and go as quickly as you can say them, yet the twenty-eight seconds of Atrocious Forgotten seem to last an age, such is the breathtaking amount of blasts and riffs that they infuse it with. The bass that rumbles at the start of Diamond Scar heralds something altogether different. A sombre and sometimes mournful slab of low-slung sludge mixed with mid-paced blackened hardcore. That sombre atmosphere is soon banished as Godhole retreats back into the rage-fuelled grind they begun with. Eternal Poisonous is just absolutely crazed, as is Ruby Bizarre, with it’s off-kilter delivery. Side A closes with Never Healing Gold, which sounds like the bastard offspring of old-school death metal and fastcore. The sound and overall production of the EP is really engaging and strangely addictive too. Side B takes Godhole in a different direction. The same songs are reworked in pure noise form. Glorious Rotten seems to take on a sci-fi persona, with screams that are swallowed up by white noise and menacing melody. Emerald Youngster is more ambient and spacey. The alternate version of Atrocious Forgotten sounds like an industrial machine going into meltdown. Diamond Scar swirls to the sound of echoing acoustic guitar and sounds starkly beautiful because of it. As you’d expect, the songs on Side B are longer for the most part. Godhole work strange progression and oriental vibes into Eternal Poisonous, before you’re pretty much frightened to death by the deafening sub thirty-seconds of feedback on Ruby Bizarre. The powerful soundclash on Never Healing Gold goes straight for the synapse. It’s genuinely terrifying, but at the same time cathartic. Godhole is definitely a band to look out for if you’re into extreme noise and with new songs already on the way. things are looking good.

Godhole Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/godholepv

Endless Swarm/Brainshit - Split


1. Endless Swarm - Isolation Process
2. Endless Swarm - Tin Foil Hat
3. Endless Swarm - Hollow Victory
4. Endless Swarm - P.V.S
5. Endless Swarm - Blistered
6. Endless Swarm - Stench
7. Brainshit - Clones
8. Brainshit - Nothing
9. Brainshit - Waste
10. Brainshit - Poser-Caust
11. Brainshit - Scourge

To coincide with the recent jaunt around the UK, Endless Swarm and their noisy comrades Brainshit put this split out via MRC. The split was released on tape in March. Brainshit have played on some solid line-ups recently, alongside the likes of Corrupt Moral Altar, Pyrrhon and Despise You to name a few. Brainshit are another band that's new to me just like Godhole were, so a quick shout out to MRC for bringing them to my attention.

Endless Swarm sound a lot more on the raw side here. I mean, they sounded bloody heavy on Lobotomy, but I think the sludgy guitar and the vocals used on Isolation Process sound a lot dirtier. Tin Foil Hat is a genius song title and I can’t quite tell what the lyrics are, but I think it’s about the obtrusiveness of the Government. This split gets my seal approval due to the use of The Simpsons sample on Hollow Victory. The blasts that fill P.V.S are utterly mental and they follow on through Blistered, making both tracks essential listening. Stench seems murkier somehow, but the energy it contains is no less intense. The screams sound like rabid chainsaws and the riffs behind the vocals are massive! Endless Swarm are one of the most addictive PV bands I’ve heard in ages; however, if you thought they were fast ad loud then you haven’t heard Brainshit. They blast through Clones and Nothing with absurd pace, yet they manage to fit a lot into them. Likewise on Waste, which sounds like somebody pressed fast-forward during a Pyrrhon song. Poser-Caust starts with an expletive filled sample (probably featuring some Brit Pop band member that I should know of) slagging off heavy music, before Brainshit pour scorn over the dude by doing what they do best. Scourge arrives far too quickly yet is their longest addition to the split. It’s also the craziest song they play, with the mix of high-pitched vox and low death growls set to a backdrop of rumbling guitar and blindingly fast drums. This split provide a compelling reason to get behind UK grind and powerviolence. While it might be fashionable in the face of the efforts being made by our US cousins, both Endless Swarm and Brainshit are bands to make noise about (excuse the pun). 

Endless Swarm Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/EndlessSwarm
Brainshit Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/brainshitgrind

Now as if all of that wasn't enough fast for you, pre-orders have recently gone up for a 12" tribute to Spazz, which features 26 grind/PV bands from around the world. It's available to stream and pre-order here -

And before I run out of breath, there's also this incredible preview track for the up-coming collab 7" between Godhole and noise/power-electronics artist Crozier (also of Vile Noise Records).

Everything I've reviewed above is available for streaming and digital/physical purchase from the Mind Ripper Collective Bandcamp page above.

Mind Ripper Collective Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/mindrippercollective

Sunday 14 June 2015

Castrator - No Victim EP


1. Honor Killing
2. Brood
3. The Emasculator
4. No Victim

There's no extreme metal genre more ardent than death metal. Look one way and you're confronted with Swedish greats like Grave and Unleashed, look the other way and you've got US behemoths like Cannibal Corpse and Immolation. That's not forgetting all of the gory and slamming bands that sit below the surface. US label Horror Pain Gore Death Productions have been unearthing so much underground death in recent months and Castrator are one such band. Made up of members from all corners of the world, they released their debut EP No Victim in May. 

What you get with Castrator is heavy thrash-laden death. These crazy battle vixens go straight for the jugular on opener Honor Killing. It’s hammered out at a raging tempo with a great solo at mid-point that has more than a reek of the old-school about it (which is a good think in my book). The vocals are low, rumbling growls that match the machine-gun drumming on Brood. There’s an element of slam in Castrator’s music and going back to the above paragraph. Brood even features a guest solo from Immolation guitarist Bob Vigna. That’s got to be seal of approval! After an obligatory horror movie sample, Castrator threaten to chase you down on The Emasculator. God knows what they’ll do to you once they’ve got you, but I can imagine this song playing in the background. It all ends with the whirlwind inducing title-track that’s delivered with neck snapping ferocity. After listening to No Victim, I have no hesitation in saying that Castrator have the ability to become as big as the likes of Grave, Unleashed, Cannibal Corpse and Immolation in the future. They’ve delivered a really solid EP that demands repeat listens. 

You can stream No Victim here:-

You can buy CD copies directly from Horror Pain Gore Death Productions above.

Castrator Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/CastratorBand
Horror Pain Gore Death Productions Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/horrorpaingoredeath

Edalene - I'm Still Here EP review + stream

Chances are you won't recognise the name Edalene. This Sydney quintet only formed in February 2015 and self-released their debut three-track EP I'm Still Here in May. They got in contact with me shortly after I posted a review featuring fellow Aussie band Regresser. Edalene count bands such as Pianos Become The Teeth and I Hate Myself amongst their influences and they form part of a flourishing Australian melodic hardcore/screamo scene. They've given me special permission to stream I'm Still Here via my blog's bandcamp page to help spread the word, which you'll be able to find towards the bottom of this post. 


1. Ryerose
2. Awakening
3. A Tuesday In June

While doing some research into Edalene for this feature, I noticed that the recording for their debut EP was done in their guitarist’s bedroom. Only the drums were recorded in the studio. It was only when I pressed play on opening song Ryerose, that that sentence hit home because the quality of this EP is so strong in both song-writing and production. The song features a striking chorus of coarse/clean vocals, powerful drumming and plenty of melody. Edalene certainly seem very assured, more so than you normally here on a band’s debut release. I don’t want to go on talking about comparisons to other bands here, for that reason. Awakening takes subtle cues from pop-punk during it’s melodic passages and turns up the energy levels, as if Edalene are building towards something bigger. Finishing with A Tuesday In June, they don’t allow their momentum to slip and the up-tempo nature of their music really does make that crescendo-effect stand out. 2015 is getting better and better music-wise. It’s been awesome to hear more melodic hardcore and screamo with substance lately, like Regresser and UK act Faces Of Eve. Edalene are added to that list and typify everything that is good about those genres. 

As I mentioned above, I've put I'm Still Here up for promotional streaming via the blog's bandcamp. You can access the stream below:-

You can download the EP for free here - https://edalene.bandcamp.com

Edalene Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/edaleneband

Saturday 13 June 2015

Unmothered - U M B R A


1. Magnetar
2. Huntress
3. Scarp

This muggy, humid day calls for some music that's equally suffocating. Unmothered are an atmospheric sludge band from Austin, Texas and they've recently released their second EP - U M B R A. It follows their debut self-titled EP that was released in 2012 and its available both digitally and on CD from the band and Crowquill Records. The release show for the EP saw Unmothered supporting both Ufomammut and Usnea. Unholy! 

Unmothered don’t play slow of mournful sludge. It’s groovy and technical. Magnetar is a noisy beast, full of crashing drums, solid riffs and blackened growls. It’s certainly dong a good job of blasting away my cocktail-fuelled hangover! Being serious though, Unmothered create more of an impression with their opener than most bands manage with an entire record. They’re not afraid to sprinkle proceedings with actual metal and they layer Magnetar with off-kilter structure. They stride into Huntress with what could be described as a speed-metal tempo. This song has a classic edge to it and the urgency is definitely appropriate. The atonal riff that kicks off Scarp is beastly, but soon breaks into something a whole lot more atmospheric. There’s no easy way to categorise what Unmothered play musically, because they incorporate so many different styles into this EP. It should come as no surprise that Unmothered offer something unique with these three tracks and you should definitely invest your time in them.

You can stream Magnetar via Crowquill's soundcloud page here - 


Unmothered Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/Unmothered
Crowquill Records Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/crowquillrecords

Thursday 11 June 2015

Shizune - Le Voyageur Imprudent LP


1. Aestheticism
2. Notes Of Decay
3. Un Telefono Che Non Squilla
4. Sputnik! Nostalgia
5. Vesper
6. Immortel Et Imperissable
7. Senza Luce
8. Orienteering In Aokigahara 青木ヶ原 
9. Difficile Da Capire, Impossibile Da Spiegare
10. Instructions For Inertia

I thought I'd take some time to re-listen to the latest LP from everyone's favourite multi-lingual Italians, Shizune. Le Voyageur Imprudent was released in March via Dog Knights Productions and Driftwood Records. It follows their 2014 4-way split EP with Infro, Tall Ships Set Sail and Things Fall Apart. The record was released on three different vinyl colour-ways. There was a Yellow/Black mix (that's now sold out), there's as solid Yellow pressing and a transparent Red pressing, which are both still available. In terms of live shows this year, they've already shared domestic stages with the likes of Storm {o}, Caravels and Regarde, as well as many others.

Shizune are similar to Ojne in their more violent approach to screamo. Aestheticism contains a lot of up-tempo blasts and jangly guitars, which alongside the vocals are delivered with real passion and emotion. The intro riff to Notes Of Decay takes you a bit by surprise, as it’s so melodic. It’s a theme of Shizune’s music that isn’t apparent straight away. There’s a lot of punk rhythms and texture hidden within their music. You think that Un Telefono Che Non Squilla is going in a straightforward rock direction initially, but it’s not long before Shizune ushers away any such notions. They sound even more powerful when screaming in their mother-tongue and the instrumentation in the background is completely in tune with the vocals. Sometimes, screamo can sound a bit misplaced but not on this occasion. The the songs on Le Voyageur… seem to flash by with the majority being under three-minutes. Sputnik! Nostalgia swirls and flows, building in volume as it goes. At times there are flashes  of previous split buddies Infro on Vesper. During the verses the instrumentation in tempered slightly and when left alone, the simple song-structures that make this song so listenable becomes apparent. The second half of the Le Voyageur is full of urgency and brief spurts of emo-violence. Immortel Et Imperissable is surprisingly engaging baring in mind it’s short running time, with plenty going on. Senza Luce contains yet distills a lot of what gave this record’s opening song it’s impact. That blistering pace that begs your attention. Orienteering In Aokigahara is a beautifully crafted instrumental track, which would be perfect on any Japanese nature documentary. Penultimate song Difficile Da Capire, Impossibile Da Spiegare is over before it’s started and is played with blistering accuracy. Instructions For Inertia is more considered as it builds, before exploding into one final burst of Shizune’s infectious screamo. You don’t harbour any feelings of relief as Le Voyageur… comes to close, instead you feel empowered and almost cleansed by the music contained within it. No song outstays it’s welcome and Shizune prove why Italy’s screamo scene is so unique and strong, even if bands are relatively small in number.

It's available as a digital stream and as a name-your-price-download from Shizune's bandcamp page below:-

Vinyl copies can be purchased from the below labels (depending on where you are in the world) -

Dog Knights Productions - http://dogknightsproductions.bigcartel.com
Driftwood Records - http://www.driftwoodrecords.limitedrun.com

Shizune Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/weareshizune
Dog Knights Productions Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/dogknights
Driftwood Records Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/DriftwoodRecords