Tuesday 28 February 2017

Fragile Things - Broken Sun EP


1. The Enemy Is I
2. Open Cage
2. Broken Sun
4. So Cold

I've always had a love/hate relationship with hard rock. On the one hand I love bands like Alter Bridge, Silvertide and Crobot, but aside from those bands and a couple of others, I think it all kinda sounds the same. I was drawn to UK band Fragile Things because they share a love of a couple of the above mentioned bands. Their debut EP "Broken Sun" was released in February, so is still pretty fresh. They're also recently announced a main-stage festival slot at Amplified Open Air (Gloucestershire) alongside Puddle Of Mudd and Trapt, amongst others. 

EP opener The Enemy Is I is a solid slab of rock with strong vocals and lead work. In fact all of the musicianship here is of a high standard, though that comes as no big surprise when you consider that Fragile Things contains ex-members of UK rockers Heaven’s Basement amongst others. Open Cage is high-octane and while my choice of language in this review may seem cliched, at least the energy that’s put across by the band is not. Melodic and powerful makes for a good first impression. The title-track from the EP definitely reminds me of Silvertide in certain ways, maybe it’s because of the opening riffs. It’s also got a really catchy chorus that will get crowds singing along to it at gigs. So Cold is the kind of song a bands writes and plays when they’re on top form and I think Fragile Things may have hit their stride good and proper here. It’s punchy and confident, which is all you can ask for. I spent so long surrounding myself with extreme metal and punk that hard rock hasn’t really had a look in recently. I’m still not sold on much of it, but Fragile Things are decent and will get even better as they progress and release more music. 

You can stream and download the title-track below:-

Fragile Things Website - https://www.fragilethingsofficial.com
Fragile Things Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/fragilethingsofficial/

Wednesday 22 February 2017

Reduced To Ash - Conceit


1. Waste Cult
2. Horizons
3. Reflection
4. Growth
5. For Decay
6. Nihil
7. In This Decreation
8. Malice
9. The Black Cloud
10. The Setting Sun
11. Folly

I've written about a couple of bands from the Faroe Islands in recent months and melodic death metallers Reduced To Ash is the third and final band that I'm reviewing. All previous two have been very different with the doom/death of Hamferd and the folk/traditional melodic metal of Hamradun. The trio of Reduced To Ash started playing together in 2012 and released a demo a year later. in 2015 their debut album "Conceit" was released via Tutl Records. I think even Bjorn "Speed' Strid (of Soilwork fame) provided guest vocals on the album. 

As with the previous two Faroese bands I’ve featured here, Reduced To Ash has plenty of Scandinavian influence within their sound and their melodic death metal stands up well against the bigger names from Sweden. Album opener Waste Cult is a powerful modern number with great riffs. For trio they certainly have a big sound and the vocals are extremely strong, as are the rest of band. They go for the grandiose extended intro on Horizons and it works a treat. They expand their musical palette during the song as well, using some added progression and off-kilter rhythms. Reflection seems to contain everything that way good about modern metal, before it became overrun with Djent copyists. It’s catchy yet there’s plenty of heft throughout the rhythm section and guitars, with melodic leads tempering the atmosphere created by those harsh vocals. The pace and riffs continue into Growth, which has a great twin-guitar passage towards the end and feels really upbeat. I wanted to shy away for comparisons when writing this review, but you’ll hear similarities to bands like (Waking The Fallen-era) Avenged Sevenfold, Trivium and the aforementioned Soilwork, who’s vocalist Bjorn “Speed” Strid appears on For Decay with his unmistakable pipes and there are actual clean vocals in it too. Nihil has an air of thrash metal about it and the fact that you can hear the bass rumbling in the background is very ominous indeed. Melody aside, there are moment of true heaviness on “Conceit” and In This Decreation is one such moment. It certainly seems heavier, but then again it could just be me. There’s complexity flowing through Malice, which has been there throughout the record but hasn’t been as obvious until now. I guess that’s another trait of the band; having the ability to make their songs sound simple when they’re not. They grind their way through the opening section of The Black Cloud and the growls get ever deeper as well. Death metal with added blackness. The Setting Sun approaches things from a different angle, with subtle hints of doom and some angular textures too. Album closer Folly sounds a bit more laid-back. It’s an old-school instrumental ballad with some haunting chants that threaten to overthrow it. It’s definitely a nice way to end “Conceit”, which has been a joy to listen to. This record may be a couple of years old now but it really doesn’t matter when you discover music. Go and discover Reduced To Ash for yourself. You won’t regret it.

You can listen to Nihil via their soundcloud page below:-

You can buy "Conceit" via Tutl Records here - http://tutlrecords.com/

Reduced To Ash Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/reducedtoashband
Tutl Records Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/tutlrecords

Tuesday 21 February 2017

Arkless - Arkless LP


1. Corner
2. Eye
3. Clear
4. Inertia
5. Never
6. Age
7. Love

It's nearly the end of February already and I haven't written about anywhere near as much as I'd hoped, especially 2017 releases! I'm working through a rough list I wrote a couple of weeks ago and came to this, which Andy from the band wrote to me about. Arkless hail from London and this self-titled record was their debut, released in April 2016 via a quartet of labels. Arkless formed in 2015 and have been pretty much playing everywhere in the UK since then. They're another new band to the blog, which reminds me that I need to finish counting the number of different bands I've featured before this thing hits another anniversary!

I’ve been gradually featuring a lot more punk/emo-type stuff on here recently and when Andy sent me an e-mail about Arkless, I checked them out straight way (thought it’s taken me way to long to write about the record). LP opener Corner pretty much sums up where UK emo is at right now. What I mean by that is that there’s a lot of original bands appearing and most of them are more punk orientated (especially in places like Leeds). The clean guitar and spoken-word vocals show that Arkless are heading down a less caustic route with their music. They don’t believe in long, progressive songs either. Eye is perfectly formed with a catchy riff that features throughout, while the rest of the music benefits from the clear production. That leads nicely on to Clear, which mixes emotive vocals alongside an equally rousing instrumental backdrop. The good thing about it is that it’s restrained. That restraint will help it’s appeal to those who’re not just hardened punk/emo fans. The jangly, danceable guitar is the main draw during Inertia, but what also stands out is the controlled drumming that features some quite intricate rhythms. Their’s is a strangely minimalist approach really but it gives them more impact. Never airs more towards indie/instrumental music and the vocals compliment that I think. As Age begins, the best way I can sum this record up is like that moment when you hit 30 and become less bothered/ more relaxed about things. I guess it’s mature if you can follow what I’m trying to say! The same can be said for closing song Love, which rounds out a record written by a band that seems to be mature beyond their years. That isn’t meant to be patronising in any way, it’s just my way of saying that this is very good and maybe that my taste is starting to change slightly!

Stream and buy it as a name-your-price-download below:-

Buy a vinyl copy from the labels below (or from the band at shows, if they still have copies):-

Barely Regal Records - http://barelyregalrecords.bigcartel.com
strictly no capital letters - http://sncl.collective-zine.co.uk/
Dingleberry Records and Distribution - https://www.discogs.com/Dingleberry-Records
Ruined Smile Records - https://ruinedsmilerecords.bandcamp.com/merch

Arkless Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/arklessband/
Barely Regal Records Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/barelyregalrecords/
strictly no capital letters Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/strictlynocapitalletters
Dingleberry Records and Distribution Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/Dingleberry-records-and-distribution
Ruined Smile Records Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/ruinedsmilerecords

Monday 20 February 2017

Recollection - Nick (The Communion/Crisis Actor/Mouth Of Maggots/Tunnel Nun)

This instalment of "Recollection" is as close to how I envisaged the feature being when I came up with it. The original idea was for people to talk about their favourite record, but flexibility and compromise has meant that it's turned into a top-ten kinda thing (which, was no bad thing in the end and I'm really proud of how it's turned out and those who have contributed so far). Nick does vocals in US grind/PV band The Communion, as well as Crisis Actor, Mouth Of Maggots and Tunnel Nun.

Papercut Homicide - "From Filth Comes Grace" (Retribute Records, 2003)
As I comb through my CD collection, i find a lot of my personal favorites come from the "one-and-done" category; bands that have but a sole release to their credit. Koreisch, Wake Up On Fire, Biovore, Icepick Revival, Black Arrows of Filth and Impurity, Garuda, and the subject of this review, the U.K.'s Papercut Homicide. 
I was introduced to Papercut Homicide shortly after joining The Communion in 2004. Our guitarists Lee Altomare (R.I.P.) and Billy Groody talked up their solitary record "From Filth Comes Grace" quite a bit, and i became instantly hooked on this caustically bizarre grind/sludge hybrid that was equal parts Acid Bath's "When The Kite String" Pops and Pig Destroyer's "Prowler in the Yard", with little deviations into Cryptopsy's "None So Vile" and Today Is The Day's "Willpower', all bound up in an aesthetic presentation that echoed Eyehategod and Iron Monkey's penchant for schizo-collage artwork and top-of-the-paint-fumed-head automatic lyricism. In short; everything i wanted and continue to want. 
on "From Filth Comes Grace", Papercut Homicide isn't merely talking about states of frustration and anxiousness, but adapting the visceral impact of those states into a creative medium. What would in less skilled hands be merely be an vaporous echo becomes a billowing scream all its own; a corporeal reaction that incites and inspires others to follow what it does and not what it says. Despite Papercut Homicide's obscurity, similar strains of transgression from underground norms can be noticed in contemporary acts such as Endon, Full of Hell, Gas Chamber, Clinging To The Trees Of A Forest Fire, Column of Heaven, Psudoku, Iron Lung, and others. Any fans of the aforementioned may find a lot to like in Papercut Homicide. 
Not much information seems to be out there regarding Papercut Homicide. There's the obligatory Metal Archives page, some YouTube uploads of "From Filth Comes Grace tracks", and a less-than-stellar review/ramble from early 2000s blog Aversion Online. The lack of coverage only serves to infuse From Filth Comes Grace with even further cryptic mystery, like finding a violent porn magazine crumbled in the woods, or an unmarked video tape in a flea market that looks to be part of a deplorable's home movie collection. I think that suits it well. 
Listen to Nick's bands below:-

The Communion Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/THE-COMMUNION
Tunnel Nun Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/TUNNEL-NUN

Wednesday 15 February 2017

Terraformer - Mineral LP


1. Aegan
2. Adamantine
3. Amethyst
4. Penelope
5. Epoch
6. The Ether Shell

Three-piece instrumental Belgian's band Terraformer is due to release their (third?) full-length "Mineral" tomorrow via Dunk! Records and Time As A Color. They formed in 2009 and have so far released two full-lengths and two EPs (one being a collaboration with Kokomo). They play progressive, instrumental math-rock and they like Jupiler. What could be better! Seriously though, I want to do nothing more this evening than listen to this record and stare at that cover art.

This is a lot heavier than I was expecting. "Mineral" opener Aegan is filled with big post-metal riffs and angular, off-kilter rhythms. Progressive but not in a head-scratching way, it’s also quite bleak and dark in places. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised considering they share their homeland with Amenra. There’s a natural flow between Aegan and Adamantine, which means no pauses! Adamantine is a mixture of atonal riffs and glorious treble lead work. The percussion and bass just sit within the vast layers of sound, but are both still noticeable and add heft. It’s really easy to lose yourself if this whole release, which is an aim that a lot of other bands don’t fully achieve. Terraformer is able to create something that’s really hard to aptly describe in writing with Amethyst. It’s shorter length gives it more urgency yet it’s this constraint that really brings out their song-writing skill as a band. It’s jaw-dropping.  They flirt with menacing ambience at the beginning of Penelope, which is the sign of heavier things to come. Sure enough Terraformer delivers on that front with an incredibly bass-heavy tapestry of grind/crust/punk-like textures alongside their more familiar post-rock. Epoch is the release that you need after bottling up your emotions for too long. It’s incredibly up-lifting. That high that you feel after Epoch stays with you through The Ether Shell, even though it’s on the heavier side. It’s mid-section is more pop-like and the melodies are pretty hummable, flowing to a natural end via a wall of sound that fades in a sensitive way. I really feel like I should have written more about this record; however, I know that sometimes less is more. This is a pretty special release and coming so early in 2017 only hints at the incredible year it’s going to be. 

You can stream the full record via Arctic Drones here - http://arcticdrones.com/exclusives/stream-terraformer-mineral/

Pre-orders are still available via Dunk! Records and Time As A Color below:-

Dunk! Records Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/Dunkrecords
Time As A Color Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/timeasacolor

Tuesday 14 February 2017

The Art Of Noise: Feanor Omega - Anima

This series of posts has taken a little longer to get going than I'd hoped, but here's the second instalment!. it features Austrian black metal band Feanor Omega (a band I've been looking to feature here for a while now)  and it delves into the creation of and the meaning behind the cover for the 2015 album "Anima". As I said in my first instalment that features Murderofcrows, this is an evolving idea and this post is certainly a little more in-depth, thanks is part to both the answers provided by F.O. and the cover's artist David Saunders.

Feanor Omega has been active since 2013 and "Anima" was the duo's debut release. Read on to see what both F.O. and David Saunders had to say about the release:-

F.O. - Feanor Omega

When you commissioned David to the artwork for “Anima” what did you have in mind? Did you give him brief or did you allow him to get on with it?

Hi James! For "Anima", it was actually the other way around and a first-time experience like this. The front-cover artwork existed already. As I was searching the Internet for artists and inspiration, I stumbled across David’s homepage, saw the picture and immediately knew that it had to be the artwork for "Anima".  

Did you have much input into the artwork during its creation and what was your reaction to the end result?

So, my first answer already partly answered this question. Since the artwork already existed the communication between David and me was actually rather short. It was love at first sight with the cover and this also describes my reaction to the end result. The process of finishing the artwork (the other pages / layout etc.) was immensely eased by David’s groundwork and I could not be happier with the result.

How does the cover art reflect your music?

I think one of the big advantages of music in general is the great amount of personal interpretation possible. "Anima" describes a mind’s journey and I wish for people to make this journey and the music their own. This is how the artwork is reflected in the music and vice versa. 

David Saunders

When Feanor Omega approached you about designing the cover art for “Anima”, was it the first time you had created artwork for an extreme metal band?

Not at all! I live in Nashville, Tennessee, and while the heavy music scene here is great you normally think of Nashville (and the southeastern US in general) as being synonymous with country music. It definitely took me a while to be introduced to it, but once I was it quickly became one of my favorite types of music. I went to my first metal show in middle school and found the visceral nature of everything really appealing. It was direct, it was confrontational, it was loud. It appealed to all my angsty teen sensibilities and it scared the hell out of my parents (an added bonus). I had lots of friends in metal and hardcore bands and when I first started experimenting with commercial art and design they were kind enough to be my guinea pigs. I made flyers, t-shirt designs, myspace layouts (lol), and of course album art. That interest led to me going to The University of Tennessee to get a degree in graphic design, which I now do professionally. 

How did you come up with the design? Did you listen to Feanor Omega’s music while creating it or were you given a brief beforehand?

It's a funny story really, it was originally a concept created for another band that had commissioned me for work. They wound up either not liking it or not having the money to finish paying for it (or both), I can't really remember which it was. So the project was terminated and it went into my "junk drawer" of unused designs/concepts. Every artist and designer has some sort of graveyard where these projects that never see the light of day go. For me it's mostly a folder on my computer. I occasionally will float some of these unused pieces out on the Internet to see if I can sell them, especially in cases that I really liked the piece. For this one specifically I put it out on a few forums with some other unused pieces and at some point I got an email from Franz Ferdinand Hawa at Cursed Records, which is Feanor Omega's label in Austria. They expressed interest in buying it and we worked out a nicely discounted price (doubly helped by the fact that the Euro was a decent amount stronger than the USD at the time).

I have a number of different processes I employ when designing. This piece was made by altering some open source photos I found online of a mountain range as the base photo. I then inverted the color scheme (which is why the tips of the mountain are darker colors) then used some color adjustment techniques to get it the colors in a good spot. From there I added the striping at the bottom as a grounding element and then put some texture on top of everything to give it a nice worn look. The type treatment for the original design was the same simple lettering so I implemented the same thing for Feanor Omega. 

When you presented the finished work to Feanor Omega, what was the reaction you received and what your own reaction to it?

Seeing as it was mostly "finished" when they first saw it online, I'm not entirely sure of what their first reactions were like. Obviously they liked it enough to buy it, so I'm assuming it was positive! Franz noted that it fit the project "perfectly". Sometimes things just work out like that - you happen upon something that just winds up being a good fit. I definitely prefer the approach of knowing who you're designing for when making album artwork and like to listen to their music as I do it, but that's just not how this one played out. But that's alright! It's humbling to know that with all the issues that arise out of a more global and connected world, there's lots of good that comes out of it as well. I'm just a young working stiff from Tennessee and someone from Austria saw my art on the Internet and wanted to buy it. That's a pretty cool feeling! I have a solid day job as a designer at a software company but do this kind of stuff in my free time. It always winds up being some of the most creatively fulfilling work I do and I'm happy that I get the opportunities to do it. 

You can find David's art and contact information here - http://davidsaunders.co

You can stream, download or by the limited cd copy of "Anima" via Feanor Omega's bandcamp page below:-

Feanor Omega Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/feanor.omega

Thanks very much to both F.O. and David for taking the time to answer my questions and for giving us an insight into the work the went into creating the cover art for "Anima", even though it was a little unorthodox.

Monday 13 February 2017

Vimur - Exegesis 12" EP


1. Memory Of Heathen Reign
2. The Pernicious Doctrine
3. The Age Of Satan

I reviewed Traversing The Ethereal Current by Atlanta, Georgia's Vimur last January and couldn't pass up the opportunity to review their latest EP (even though my write-up's a little late). This three-song 12" was released last September by Boris Records. According to the Boris Records bandcamp page this is the first recording to feature Vimur's full live line-up. US black metal with a 7-string guitar. Should be heavy!

Vimur’s take on black metal has always been featured a hint or two of death metal and the opener of “Exegesis”, Memory of Heathen Reign is no different. It’s fast and raw, with plenty of melody from the raging guitar riffs and a battery of hellish percussion blasts for good measure. It’s pretty catchy in a disturbing way, while the vocals consist of blood curdling screams and growls. There’s a fine amount of progression within the song, but it competes will the old-school as well so you get the best of both worlds. Vimur’s furious black metal template is more suited to The Pernicious Doctrine, though the quieter moments temper the aggression but they don’t last too long with the band preferring to fly off in sixth gear for the song’s remainder. That approach continues on third and final song The Age Of Satan. The dual-guitar harmonies are perfect and it all sounds like the band were brought up on Celtic Frost and devil worshipping (though the latter has become a bit of a cliche in recent times). This is glorious from start to end. We live in consistently uncertain times now but what is certain is that every day, there’s a new killer record or band to listen to. It just so happens that today it’’s the turn of Vimur.

Stream and grab "Exegesis" digitally or on vinyl via Boris Records below:-

Vimur Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/vimurofficial
Boris Records Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/borisrecordsatl

Sunday 12 February 2017

Onera - Olde


1. Unruhe
2. Still As Stone
3. Cold Hand's Caress

I've chosen something random to write about today, but it turns out that Onera features ex-members of Watchmaker and Morgion (amongst others). To say I'm a little intrigued about how Onera is gonna sound is a bit of an understatement. Anyway, this US melodic prog/doom quintet formed in 2013 and "Olde" is their first release. In fact it was self-released digitally and on cd last June.

Onera produces their best folk/melodic version of doom metal on “Olde”. Opener Unruhe leans more towards traditional metal than doom, but the aforementioned melody makes that fact irrelevant. This is clearly a band finding their feet, hence the subtle changes in volume within the recording. That aside, they sound clear and very listenable, especially during the quieter introspective moments. You can certainly here the collective experience of Onera’s musicians coming across during the song. The solo towards the end is particularly awesome. After a brief passage of ambience, Onera launches into some proper doom on Still As Stone. It’s bass heavy and brings to mind bands like Anathema and My Dying Bride (once again, you can tell I’m from the North of England). It’s crawling pace and dual cleanly-sung/whispered vocals make it slightly more menacing than the EP’s opener. The atmosphere created by the sample-led passage at the two-and-a-half minute mark is strangely rousing too. They splice some weirdly cool guitar effects with thrashy parts to up the heart-rate as well. EP closer Cold Hand’s Caress is as progressive as Onera gets and it reminds more of the songs played by their European cousins as opposed to American, but that’s just my interpretation. It’s definitely a whole lot more old-school than I was expecting. “Olde” proves that you should never just a book by it's cover. The pedigree of Onera's members and the music they create is more than enjoyable and if you want a break from the extreme then you’ve got the perfect candidate here. Good job.

You can stream and purchase "Olde" digitally and on cd below:-

Onera Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/oneraband

Friday 10 February 2017

Cicutoxin/Slave Hands - Split 10"


1. Cicutoxin - Tarnung
2. Cicutoxin - Begehrensmaschine
3. Cicutoxin - Quick
4. Cicutoxin - Geschmackssache
5. Cicutoxin - Death Threat Message
6. Slave Hands - IV

This 10" split recently arrived from Ramekuukkeli-Levyt in Finland, having only been out for a few weeks. It features sludge/hardcore/noise by Cicutoxin and Slave Hands, who're both from Finland as well. I'm not too familiar with either band, though Cicutoxin released their first demo in 2010 and have gone onto a further tape and a 12" split prior to this one. Slave Hands have been active for a similar period of time and have two full-lengths to their name, as well a split cdr and 7". I haven't hidden my love for Finnish bands in the past so I'm looking forward to hearing this heavyweight slab of black wax. 

Cicutoxin’s hardcore/sludge is as raw as it is real. Their opening song Tarnung begins with a minimal wave of sludge and then breaks into fits of bizarre powerviolence. Begehrensmachine features ninety seconds of riffs and acrid Finnish screams. They’re being slightly sarcastic with the song-title Quick I think. It starts off fast and then slows right down. It’s good to hear their punk influence alive and well though. Geschmackssache is a downtuned old-school number and reminds me a bit of departed veterans Black Sabbath in it’s opening bars. Of course, that image is blown to pieces seconds later as Cicutoxin once again launches into their own brand of heavy punk/sludge/violent madness. Final song Death Threat Message is equally as mad with plenty of off-kilter textures and really brooding atmosphere. Just like this review, it’s all over the place but in a good way! Slave Hands have only one song on here, simply called IV. Their’s is a more bass-heavy sound and one that’s more extreme as well. Not so much punk but a whole lot more metal. The vocals are straight out of the scare-the-hell-out-of-the-listener handbook, but like Cicutoxin they also have a raw sound that makes them really endearing. The occasional swathes of feedback make the sound thicker and sometime murkier, which definitely enhances the atmosphere and the sense of gloom. This is great. Both Cicutoxin and Slave Hands make effective use of their sides and their different approaches make this a really worthwhile listen. I like checking out new bands. Cheers Tuukka!

You can stream the songs off Cicutoxin's side below (but watch out as they're in a different order here):-

Slave Hands have their song available for streaming and download here, as well an option to buy the 10":-

You can also buy the 10" directly from Ramekuukkeli-Levyt here - http://ramekuukkeli.nettisivu.org/distro-3/

Cicutoxin Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/Cicutoxin
Slave Hands Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/slavehands/
Ramekuukkeli-Levyt Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/Rämekuukkeli-levyt

Wednesday 8 February 2017

Recollection - Paul (Hundred Year Old Man)

So after what seems like an age (it's only been a few weeks), I'm back with the 6th instalment of "Recollection". This time Paul Broughton from Leeds based post-metal band Hundred Year Old Man has heeded the call and sent me some musings about his ten favourite records. Enjoy.

Vision Of Disorder - "S/T"
This one is in my list solely for the fact that this album is what got me into hardcore. Before this, my tastes were a little on the nu metal side until my partner at the time gave me a copy of this album and opened my eyes to a world of hardcore. Basically everything started with this album for me and I haven't looked back since.

Refused - "Shape Of Punk To Come"
This is in my opinion the greatest punk album ever written. They took the best of what they'd done before then and cranked it up to 11! Another album that blew my mind as a kid and stuck with me ever since.

Converge - "Petitioning The Empty Sky"
A lot of people list Jane Doe as the perfect Converge album but for me it will always be petitioning.. Saddest day is a blueprint to how you can write a 9 minute song with zero filler and I'll fight anyone who says the beatdowns of Color Me Blood Red aren't some of the best they've ever heard!

Botch - "We Are The Romans"
Come on, this album is the reason half of modern bands are here today. Without Botch, there's no modern metalcore (some might argue that wouldn't be a bad thing) this is another album that changed the way I looked at writing music.

Bastions - "Hospital Corners"
A modern release that stuck with me since I heard it. Booked this band in a tiny basement show in Leeds before this album came out and then saw them shortly after at Hevy fest where they looked in their element in both situations. Such an amazing band and this album is my go to when I need a soundtrack to hating everything.

Gallows - "Grey Britain"
This is what a punk album should sound like. Something that captured the sentiment of society and distill it into something harsh yet equally beautiful. It helps that Frank Carter is one of the best frontmen the UK has produced.

Thursday - "Full Collapse"
An album that basically epitomises an entire genre. Thursday to me are THE emo band of the 90's/early 00's and this is the best thing they released in my eyes. Flawless from start to finish.

Glassjaw - "Worship And Tribute"
Hands down my favourite band. And this is the best album they've done. Taking the basis from "eyewtkas" and mixing it with a new found maturity, this record just nails it! Whatever IT is... 

Watsky - "Cardboard Castles"
Yeah yeah, hip hop. But to me this album is the perfect combination of lyrical prowess and talented songwriting. Plus watsky' one of the fastest rappers I've heard. Check it out along with his spoken word stuff.

Cult of Luna/Julie Christmas - "Mariner"
How could I be in the band I'm in and not love a Cult of Luna record? Combining one of the best post metal bands with Julie Christmas was a master stroke. Songs like Cygnus show what happens when a band take the effort to craft their music properly.

Thanks so much to Paul for writing this and you can listen to/buy music by Hundred Year Old Man below:-

Hundred Year Old Man Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/hundredyearoldman/

Also, I'll be opening this feature up for reader submissions and will have the first one coming up in a couple of weeks. If you want to submit your ten favourite records, send your list and accompanying words to tnio@outlook.com (remember, the list has to ideally be based around metal, punk and the like, though I do make exceptions). Thanks.

Monday 6 February 2017

Razor Sharp Death Blizzard - You Will Burn


1. You Will Burn
2. Christian Sun
3. Rat In A Cage
4. There Will Be Blood
5. Meet Your Maker
6. Right Wing Scum
7. Dead Mans Eyes
8. Defstein
9. Have A Nice Day

Tonight's musical accompaniment comes from Scottish punks Razor Sharp Death Blizzard. This noisy, anti-establishment quartet formed out of a couple of metal/punk bands (Ridgeback and Swellbellys) in 2014 and after digitally releasing a couple of singles and a an EP "Riot, Revolt, Revolution!" (also on cd) in 2015, they released their debut album in November of 2016. They describe themselves as noisy anarcho-punk, with nods to bands like The Exploited and Dead Kennedy's. 

“You Will Burn” features nine rage-filled punk songs. Opening with the title-track, you’re greeted by what sounds like weird symphony of didgeridoos before RSDB’s hardcore-infused punk kicks in properly. You can definitely hear the metal-influence of their previous endeavours on record. Harsh screamed vox, thrash-laden drumming and driving riffs make this a loud one. I hope that Christian Sun is indeed a song aimed squarely at religious bigots. It certainly contains the right level of anger. The momentum created by that anger is quelled slightly by the brief pauses between songs, but as soon as Rat In Cage begins, all is forgotten. That thrash influence comes through even more during this song too. It’s pure headbanging stuff. RSDB injects a ton of atmosphere into There Will Be Blood and it’s the first time they use semi-clean singing too. Okay so it’s not purely melodic, which is a good thing but it does provide more variety. The contrast between it and the screams proves that RSDB are basing themselves on the old-school punk and metal bands that have influenced so many. The solo they throw in ain’t bad either! They switch the pace up with the grinding/gnarly Meet Your Maker, which also features plenty of off-kilter loveliness. They get even more progressive on Right Wing Scum, which is a near-seven minute song about, well…right wing scum. I have to admit that I prefer their songs like Dead Mans Eyes. It’s more too the point and I think it suits their style better, but that’s just my opinion (and you know what they say about them!). Defstein is another full-scale thrash song complete with gang-vocals and mammoth choruses. They prove they’ve got a good sense humour too by ending the album with a song called Have A Nice Day. Good tongue-in cheek sarcasm makes it all better. Joking aside, it’s a strong song to end on. Elements of metal, punk and sludge all converge to make it a rousing send off for RSDB and “You Will Burn”. I couldn’t really hear a great deal of the anarcho-punk influence in the album, but what I did hear was a band playing what they want, for themselves. There are actually some similarities between them and Raging Speedhorn, whom I reviewed over the weekend, which is no bad thing. “You Will Burn” is a strong and well-played debut album and Razor Sharp Death Blizzard is a name you’ll remember for sure. 

Stream "You Will Burn" and purchase it both digitally and on cd below:-

Razor Sharp Death Blizzard Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/deathblizzardband

Sunday 5 February 2017

Radien - Maa EP


1. Varjot
2. Viimeinen

As Spring slowly approaches here in the UK, there's still plenty of opportunity to cling onto the cold Winter darkness. Tonight's opportunity comes in the form of Finnish quintet Radien and their two-song EP "Maa". Radien initially formed in 2014 and this is (I think?) their first release. They play sludge/doom and as I've learnt in the past, Finland is pretty good at producing heavy sludge/doom bands.

“Maa” is made up of two lengthy tracks. Varjot begins with a sole-guitar and plenty of unsettling feedback to set the scene. Unsettling is the right word as the full band kicks in. Disparate screams, a sluggish (in a good way) yet hypnotising rhythm section and droning guitars guide you through the song and even when the vocals are silent, it’s still terrifying. Finland has become well known for it’s more traditional and experimental doom over the past few years, but this takes it in a more extreme direction. Viimeinen is equally (if not more) disturbing thanks to Radien’s use of melody, which seems to feed into the negative emotion within the music. The other thing that makes this stand out is the recording and mastering job, which gives it a real sense of volume. It’s all encompassing. There are hints of metallic black metal and hardcore within it, but they are subtle hints. Radien would go down a treat if they played in the UK, I’m confident of that. This EP was released in September last year, but has only recently come to my attention. If doom in 2017 is anywhere near as strong as this, then I’ll be blown away. 

You can stream "Maa" and get it as a name-your-price download below:-

Radien also has various merch options, including a 12" version and t-shirts too.

Radien Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/radienband/

Saturday 4 February 2017

Raging Speedhorn - Lost Ritual


1. Bring Out Your Dead
2. Halfway To Hell
3. Motorhead
4. Evil Or Mental
5. Ten Of Swords
6. Dogshit Blues
7. The Hangman
8. Shit Outta Luck
9. Comin' Home
10. Unleash The Serpent

As much as people malign Crowdfunding, it does have the ability to bring artists and fans together. The story of Raging Speedhorn's return with "Lost Ritual" is a prime example. The British sextet announced they were going to release a new album and tour in 2016 and launched a Crowdfunding campaign so they could record and self-release their album. Needless to say the response was huge and the album sold out on both cd and vinyl. They are one band that has done it for the right reasons and through the live dates they've played and are due to play, they have thanked their fans in the best way possible and reignited a fire that many though had burned out. "Lost Ritual" was released in July 2016.

There’s a huge burst of nostalgia flowing as Bring Out Your Dead begins. Alongside Orange Goblin, Taint, Charger and the like, Raging Speedhorn helped the UK become a force to be reckoned with over a decade ago and here they show both old and new listeners why. The groove is back on Halfway To Hell and the song could well be the natural sequel to Me And You Man. It’s heavy, feedback-ridden outro takes no prisoners. Their nod to the UK heavy metal greats takes the torch and keeps it burning. Motorhead is pure dirty rock n roll worship. The stoner/doom vibe is alive and well on Evil Or Mental. Speedhorn certainly haven’t forgotten how to write memorable songs. The slower tempo takes a real hold during Ten Of Swords. The menacing evil that’s abound it the music goes up a notch. The riffs during the second half will stick in your head for days afterwards too. Dogshit Blues contains no blues to speak of but does contain load of contempt and hatred. It’s glorious and belligerent in it’s delivery. The mix of fast and slower tempo songs provides plenty of variation and proves why Speedhorn have been so revered over the years. The Hangman crawls through nearly five-minutes of downtuned riffmanship and is all the better for it. Following it is Shit Outta Luck, the fastest song on “Lost Ritual” and the one that turns the downtrodden into the aggressors. No sums up the album better than Comin’ Home for me. It seems like it was written to be Speedhorn’s home coming song, if ever they needed one. The lumbering finale of Unleash The Serpent rounds out the record perfectly. Bass-heavy doom, semi-whispered vocals dual-shouts drag the atmosphere down and show that they’re not averse to the occult. It’s an unexpected end to the record but not at all out of place. “Lost Ritual” is the blueprint for modern UK heavy bands to follow. Blistering. Don’t call this a comeback.

Raging Speedhorn Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/ragingspeedhorn

Thursday 2 February 2017

Geist/Sunlight's Bane - Split 7"


1. Geist - Gold Sores
2. Geist - Location Data
3. Sunlight's Bane - 指詰め
4. Sunlight's Bane - Spoke The Cancerous Void

2016 was a pretty good year musically and I'm still working my way through much of it (including releases that I own myself), including this split between UK noisy hardcore quintet Geist and like minded US blackened grinders Sunlight's Bane. Geist was a band familiar to me due to previous live exposure and their previous bands; however, this was my first opportunity to hear Sunlight's Bane. The 7" was released on two colours last September via the triple threat of UK label Vetala Productions, Germany's Wooaaargh Records and US extreme label Seeing Red Records. 

Geist are as frightening on record as they are live. Frightening might actually be the wrong choice of word but for anybody who’s witnessed them in a confined space, you’ll know what I mean. Sheer volume and power is their main weapon and the grinding, hardcore battering you get from Gold Sores is more than palpable. Ian’s vocals are as pissed off as I’ve ever heard them, yet there’s an assured calmness within the instrumentation alongside. The squealing feedback shatters that calm though and the raging continues on Location Data. Elements of Holy Terror hardcore seep through the dissonant guitars and it seems as though they’ve reached a new level as a band. There might possibly be a record on the way, so watch this space. Sunlight’s Bane gather together raw and violent grinding black metal with a hypnotic rhythmic precision on 指詰め. It’s over before you know it and much like the aesthetics on cover, it paints a bleak picture. Spoke The Cancerous Void is intensity personified with high pitched screams piercing your ears right from the start. There are moments where Sunlight’s Bane slip into groove-like passages, but they only break up the chaos. The mid-section contains chunky riffs that carry on until the song fades out. Mixing hardcore with a more necro approach, they make one hell of a point. They also have a new record on the way this year. This split has been really well put together and both Geist and Sunlight’s Bane seem ready to herald in a new era of hardcore extremity.

You can stream and download both sides of the split via the bandcamp pages below:-

You can pick up physical copies from the links below:-

Vetala Productions - https://basick.supplies/collections/vetala-productions (No longer stocked in their bigcartel store).
Wooaaargh Records - http://www.wooaaargh.com
Seeing Record Records - https://seeingredrecords.bandcamp.com/merch
Geist - http://geistuk.bigcartel.com

Geist Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/ukgeist
Sunlight's Bane Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/sunlightsbane
Vetala Productions Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/vetalaproductions
Wooaaargh Records Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/WOOAAARGH
Seeing Record Records Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/seeingredrecords