Friday 28 April 2017

Saligia - The New Innocence


1. Loud Speaker
2. La Nausee
3. Ulcer
4. Obscuritas Aeterna
5. Metropolis
6. The War Is Over

I begin this review with a quote from an piece I read over at Invisible Oranges recently, "It took a little creative thinking to figure out how to approach the idea of hosting screamo songs on a metal website". The piece itself was about the new Jeromes Dream tribute comp that'll be released at the end of May; however, it was that opening sentence that may think about people's tastes and how the categorise certain genres. I know a lot of people who're into both metal and punk and "screamo" has a lot in common with both genres. I love Invisible Oranges but I just wonder if that line really gave the site's readers enough credit. 

Anyway, there is a link between the above paragraph and this review because the comp in question is in part being released by Zegema Beach Records, whom have recently released this 10" record by German screamo band Saligia along with a host of other labels. Saligia is made up of current and ex-members of some pretty heavyweight screamo/heavy bands including The Apoplexy Twist Orchestra, Republic Of Dreams, The Gentle Art Of Chokin', Lentic Waters, Resurrectionists and also contains the head-honcho of React With Protest Records and the brains behind Cry Me A River Festival. "The New Innocence" was released digitally by the band in November 2016 and is now out on both vinyl and tape.

No doubt if you’re a fan of screamo/emo, you’ll already be familiar with Saligia. Their a fast and violent band with an undercurrent of melody. Loud Speaker is an apt name for the opening song, as it pulses with a wall of guitars, flailing percussion and harsh vocals. It’s a mix of fast tempos and slow crawls and Saligia is able to turn on a sixpence. There’s a real bleakness to their sound, which may or may not be reminiscent of the mood in their home country at the moment. This brand of punk typifies the creativity of a whole host of bands and Saligia proves it can give metal a run for it’s money any day. La Nausee is brooding with atmosphere and subtle technicality amongst the chaos. Ulcer could well have been written to describe any particularly vapid individual and it’s a joy to listen to, despite it’s brief playing time. Just like the “God Free Youth” banner that emblazons the top of their bandcamp page, they channel freedom of thought and expression through their music. The twin guitars that open up Obscuritas Aeterna hints at the blackened heaviness that’s too follow. Off-kilter rhythms and plenty of volume rule supreme here. European bands seems to do this so well. They’re bewildering on penultimate song Metropolis. It’s actually quite amazing what they can fit into a two-minute song, such is the complexity and speed at which it’s delivered. The rumbling bass intro to The War Is Over lures you into a fall sense of security, as the closing song bursts into life with pummelling ferocity. That being said though it’s not uncomfortable. Saligia has created something both bitter and beautiful on “The New Innocence”. These six songs don’t last to long but they do leave a lasting impression. 

Stream and download it via the band here:-

Saligia Facebook -

Vinyl and tape copies can be purchased from the labels below:-

Moment of Collapse Records -
React With Protest Records -
Zegema Beach Records -
IFB Records -
Colossus Tapes -

Summercide Records and Trends Die Records (who also participated in the release) don't have the record for sale via their sites currently.

Summercide Records Facebook -
Moment Of Collapse Records Facebook -
React With Protest Website -
Zegema Beach Records Facebook -
IFB Records Website -
Colossus Tapes Facebook -

Tuesday 25 April 2017

Ande - Het Gebeente


1. Intrede
2. Argwaan
3. Gebukt
4. Oud De Vet
5. Leeg
6. Uittrede

This week looks like it's going to be a bit of a voyage into the European underground and you can't get more underground that Belgian one-man black metal band Ande. Ande started as a project in 2015 to pay homage to black metal of the past, as well as the present. The album "Licht" was self-released in December of that year and was followed in January 2017 by "Het Gebeente", again self-released. It has been released digitally and on limited cd.

It’s only right that the sky should turn black as I sit down to write this review. Starting with the melancholy piano of Intrede, you do wonder what’s around the corner on “Het Gebeente”. Argwaan is typical of solo black metal, but it’s rawness is part of it’s charm. The shrieked vocals sit within the mix, surrounded by furious percussion and a wall of guitars that sometimes spill out into doomier territory. The doom is more prevalent during the slower Gebukt, with it’s semi-droning riffs. It’s certainly a miserable listen (in a good way). Oud En Vet has a rhythm taking straight from the heart of punk, which provides a nice change of pace. The guitar melodies wrap themselves around when they’re aloud to breath in the song’s opening couple of minutes, before Ande reverts back to it’s mournful state. The darkness that shrouds Leeg is as bleak as you’d expect, leaving no room for lights to break through. The song is split into more obvious movements this time, with lowly and introspective guitar providing a mid-section that allows you time for inner reflection. The riffs that follow are more akin to blackened hardcore and suit the black metal that they keep company. Uittrede is an eerie, ambient instrumental end to the album and it pretty much sums the whole thing up. I’ve featured quite a few solo black metal bands on here over of the years and I have to say that Ande is probably amongst the strongest that I’ve reviewed. 

You can stream "Het Gebeente" and purchase digital/cd copies below:-

Ande Facebook -

Monday 24 April 2017

Fall Of Carthage - The Longed-For Reckoning


1. Fast Forward
2. Dust And Dirt
3. Sick Intentions
4. They're Alive
5. Swept To The Edge
6. Complete
7. For The Soul To Save
8. Whodini Peckawood
9. Suffer The Pain
10. Down Like Honey
11. Tapeworms
12. Paint It White
13. Bury The Crisis
14. Puerile Scumbag
15. Turning Point
16. Black December

It feels especially good to have made it through Monday. Life has a funny way of playing with your mind. Thankfully, I have a great way of clearing it right here. German thrash/metal/rap(?) band Fall Of Carthage released their sixteen-track second album "The Longed For Reckoning" via compatriot label MDD Records in January. I didn't know a great deal about this trio before sitting to write this review; however, the band does feature a member of Suidakra, who're are familiar to me. 

I have no real idea of how to approach bands referred to as “modern thrash” in their press release, as by rights thrash metal as a genre is not modern. Fall Of Carthage don’t sit in one genre though, as opening song Fast Forward demonstrates. There’s a J-pop style intro, familiar semi-melodic vocals and metal riffs. Thankfully there’s no sign of power-metal. I was little worried about what this was going to turn out like, with it being made up of sixteen songs but Fall Of Carthage doesn’t bother with the typical noodling you’d expect from a European band of their ilk. They go for the jugular in the only way they know how, even their sound does seem a tad familiar at times. Dust And Dirt being a prime example of this. The tempo is upped on Sick Intentions, which has pounding drums that back up their modern metal sound and some well-placed lead guitar work. This takes me back to my youth a bit, which I gorged on bands like Slipknot and Trivium, so it’s not in bad company at all. They’ve got a sure fire anthem in They’re Alive too, which sums up their sound. They’re not trying to be something false and they wear their influence on their sleeves. Rap metal comes through on Swept To The Edge and reminds me of nu-metal bands whose names escape me right now. It’s a bit cheesy but it’s saved by the heavier side of their music. Complete features some pleasing electronica during it’s opening sixty-seconds and grows into a really enjoyable song later on. They head towards the midpoint of the record with two fast-flowing songs starting with For The Soul To Save, which has a really hummable chorus and reminds me a bit of Tool/A Perfect Circle as it’s kind of grungy in places. Whodini Peckawood is the reason for their “Parental Advisory” sticker on iTunes. It begins with a really dirty industrial beat before once again slipping into some cheesy hip-hop. I personally don’t think it’s their finest moment on the album but it’s just my opinion. You can make you’re own mind up. Thankfully Suffer The Pain readdresses the balance with much needed heaviness. The samples used at the start of Down Like Honey fade out to reveal song grade-A groove metal. I keep expecting Serj Tankian (System Of A Down) to burst into life during Tapeworms, but instead i get a song with lyrics as equally as bizarre as anything he could come up with in a song that’s short but pretty sweet. Fall Of Carthage are back to ripping best on Paint It White, which is made even better by the step up in tempo. The real surprise for me is the gang-vocals that help make up the most hardcore song on the record, Bury The Crisis. They definitely add a harder edge to the record. Puerile Scumbag is unfortunately another poorly placed hip-hop song with lyrics to match. I like penultimate song Turning Point a lot more, as it seems more sincere and focuses on the band’s strengths. They close with Black December and a whole bucket load of off-kilter groove metal that sounds great. Misplaced songs aside, this is a decent album and Fall Of Carthage certainly mean what they play. If they can distill their sound by stripping away what doesn’t work, they’d be sure to reach the next level.  

Fall Of Carthage don't have a Bandcamp or Soundcloud but "The Longed-For Reckoning" is streaming on Spotify and iTunes if that's your thing.

You can buy the cd from MDD records here -

Fall Of Carthage Facebook -
MDD Records Facebook -

Saturday 22 April 2017

Roots Intertwined: Bindrune Recordings & Nordvis Produktion

(Photo Source: Bindrune Recordings Facebook Page)

For this second label spotlight I decided to feature two labels that, whilst being very much their own entities, are also inexplicably linked and share one another's passion for the music they release. The USA's Bindrune Recordings and Sweden's Nordvis Produktion have been collaboration for a number of years now, releasing bands whose music combines black metal, ambient and folk music and an inspiration/respect for the nature around them. Bindrune began in the year 2000 while Nordvis has been active since 2007. This feature focuses on three releases that were the result of this partnership.

Ahamkara - The Embers Of The Stars


1. Midwinter's Hymn
2. On The Shores Of Defeat
3. Lamentation Of The Wraith
4. To Invoke The Stars Themselves

The first release I've picked out for this feature was released in 2014 by a UK black metal duo called Ahamkara. "The Embers Of The Stars" was the only release by the band, who sadly lost vocalist Steve Black in 2015. This review serves as a reminder of the breadth of passion and talent that exists amongst UK bands, no matter how short their tenure may have been. This record was released digitally by the band and on cd by both Bindrune and Nordvis.

“The Embers Of The Stars” stretches to over 45 minutes and as the sprawling and icy sound of Midwinter’s Hymn fills the airwaves, it’s easy to understand why Ahamkara chose to let their songs breath. The cold shrieks of Steve Black (R.I.P) coupled with the unstoppable percussion is only tempered by the atmosphere generated by the guitar and melody of the synths. The ominous gusts that litter the song sound like ghosts on top of lowly moors. Ahamkara don’t take the raw/necro approach to black metal, as you may have already discovered. The production and mastering on the album is very strong indeed. On The Shores Of Defeat demonstrates an affinity with US bands like Wolves In The Throne Room, as well as lesser known bands like Czech/German band Arthedain. Lengthy instrumental passages provide ambience in between the verses, providing the listener with the opportunity to rest between the darkness that envelopes the song. The second half of the album turns in a slightly more old-school direction with Lamentation Of The Wraith, but loses none of it’s melody. It leads you on a journey into your own horrifying psyche and is quite unnerving thanks to it’s pace and the keyboard effects that Ahamkara chooses to employ. Fourth and final song To Invoke The Stars Themselves is the most hauntingly ambient piece on the album. It begins with the sound of the wind and lapping waves as the instrumental intro builds in volume. More off-kilter in places but equally as ravaging, Ahamkara takes no prisoners. It may be strange of me to say that there is something comforting about their music, but it’s true. The fact that they mix heavy and dark black metal with melody and moments of quiet beauty makes this a special release, especially given the short existence of the band. It serves as a eulogy to both the band and indeed to Steve Black, one that mustn’t be forgotten. 

Stream and purchase a download of "The Embers Of The Stars" here:-

Ahamkara Facebook -

Waldgeflüster/Panopticon - Split


1. Waldgeflüster - Der Traumschänder
2. Waldgeflüster - Norwegian Nights
3. Panopticon - Håkan’s Song
4. Panopticon - Trauerweide II

Fast-forwarding two-and-a-half years (since the Ahamkara release) and this split between German band Waldgeflüster and Bindrune/Nordvis mainstay Panopticon was released in September 2016. Waldgeflüster hail from Bavaria and have been together since 2005, releasing four full-lengths including "Ruinen", which was released by Nordvis a month after this. The one-man US black metal/folk band Panopticon has been ever productive since it's inception in 2007, releasing no less than six full-lengths and eight splits (including this one). This record was released digitally, on cd and on vinyl and proves why all parties like to "keep it in the family" so to speak. 

Waldgeflüster opens up with Der Traumschänder, which is made up of amazing post-metal style riffs and native-language roars/semi-clean vox. There is a lot more to their sound than just black metal, as the lead-guitar driven atmosphere permeates through the song. There are sections within it where they build up before slowing down and the folk sections featuring violin (or viola, I’m not sure which) were something I wasn’t expecting. It’s not often that here those elements in black metal these days but they are very welcome and add an extra layer of mystery and beauty to this 12+ minute song. Waldgeflüster’s second song Norwegian Nights is a gentle ballad with piano, acoustic guitar and clean singing (this time in English). It’s shows a different and more fragile side to the band. Panopticon initially is very much US black metal. Austin Lunn’s singular vision really comes to the fore during Håkan’s Song. It’s opening passage is filled with a percussive battery that seems to follow on through the rest of the song. The guitars rest within the mix and compete with the harsh vocals, suiting the more traditional approach. There is still room for an introspective section featuring emotive guitar and the sound of children talking/laughing which brings some lightheartedness to the song and lifts the mood. Trauerweide II (like Waldgeflüster’s Norwegian Nights) is an opposite to the song that came before it. The skillful guitar playing is accompanied by clean singing, which shines on Panopticon’s US roots. This split is another gem that I missed out on last year. The musicianship is great and I really like the way both sides are delivered with the extreme song followed by the mellower one. Amazing.

Stream and purchase a download of the split here:-

Waldgeflüster Facebook -
Panopticon Facebook -

Falls Of Rauros - Vigilance Perennial


1. White Granite
2. Labyrinth Unfolding Echoes
3. Warm Quiet Centuries Of Rain
4. Arrow And Kiln
5. Impermanence Streakt Through Marble

My final review of this spotlight focuses on the new full-length from longstanding US black-metal/folk band Falls Of Rauros. It saw the light of day at the end of March and is the first collaboration of 2017 by both Bindrune and Nordvis. "Vigilance Perennial" is the band fourth full-length since their birth in 2005, all of which have seen both labels involved along the way. I think this is the perfect way to end this particular piece. This album is available digitally, on cd and 12" via both band and labels. 

One thing I’ve noticed while doing this piece is how each band has had a different style and originality. It’s the sign of a good label (or labels in this case) when they can spot bands that possess this and it’s also a sign that the bands themselves aren’t content with copying each other or watering down their music. Falls Of Rauros is a case in point on “Vigilance Perennial”, where opener White Granite combines the usual harsh vocals with melodic, often duelling guitars. There’s progressive tendencies in their music too, but the not the sort that become to cliched or head-scratchingly complex. Falls Of Rauros use progression to craft a sound that’s majestic. They’re no strangers to ambience and atmosphere either, as the gentle build up on Labyrinth Unfolding Echoes demonstrates. It’s that build up that breeds anticipation for what’s to follow, as it’s heavier but not so intense that it turns into an endurance test. I guess that’s another thing worth mentioning about Falls Of Rauros and the other band’s I’ve reviewed here. Yes their songs can be long, but they all do their best to write and perform them in such a way that they are constantly enjoyable and interesting. That’s a skill that some bands seem to lack. Warm Quiet Centuries Of Rain is a short instrumental that gathers their more sedate instrumentation and distills it into two-and-a-bit-minutes of calming and reflective guitar-led music that breaks up the record. What it doesn’t do though is prepare you for probably the most straightforward black metal song on “Vigilance Perennial”, Arrow And Kiln. Okay, so it’s not straightforward in a traditional sense but it is faster and more folk-inspired. They still make time for more introspection midway through the song as well. The final song Impermanence Streakt Through Marble is very much tempered with restraint. It’s the final opportunity that Falls Of Rauros gets to show where they are musically at the moment and it’s once again a journey in itself. Crafting music like this takes a lot out of musicians and it seems as though Falls Of Rauros have put all they can into making this record unique and inviting, while still edging towards the dark side of humanity. 

You can stream and grab a download of "Vigilance Perennial" here:-

Falls Of Rauros Facebook -

One final thought about all of the bands featured here. As I eluded in my Falls Of Rauros review, bands invest so much of themselves in their music so that the finished product is the best it can be. There's point in delivering something that's half-assed and contrived. It's testament to Ahamkara, Waldgeflüster, Panopticon, Falls Of Rauros and indeed all of the other bands across the Bindrune/Nordvis Rosters that their energy and passion for creating this music is so obvious and catching. 

You can pick up releases from both Bindrune and Nordvis via the links below:-

Bindrune Recordings -
Nordvis Produktion -

Bindrune Recordings Facebook -
Nordvis Produktion Facebook -

Thursday 20 April 2017

Dead Label: "Pure Chaos" Video Showing on Scuzz and Streaming Online

Irish metal trio Dead Label have released their video for Pure Chaos (directed and produced by Crooked Gentlemen), prior to their Summer appearance at this year's Download Festival. The video is now showing on Scuzz (Sky Channel 367) as well as on Youtube, where to date it's now received over 37,000 views. You can check out the video below:-

Here's what drummer Claire Percival had to say about the video and it's concept:-

“We gave the Crooked Gentleman guys (Shaun Ryan and Jeff Doyle) the track and they came back to us very excited about this concept; to which they were inspired by after hearing the track. When they pitched it to us; we really loved the idea. It’s without a doubt the darkest video in terms of subject matter that we have created.”

Dead Label are currently in the process of writing and demoing new songs for the follow-up to "Throne Of Bones" and will be playing dates across Europe later in the year.  They play the Dogtooth Stage at Download on June 10th.

Keep up to date with album and gig news here -

Monday 17 April 2017

Fleurety - Fragmenta Cuinsvis Aetatis Contemporaneae 7"


1. Consensus
2. Carnal Nations

I had such high hopes for this long weekend but it seems my productivity has somewhat deserted me. Anyway, I couldn't resist the opportunity to listen to the latest 7" by Norwegian black/avant-garde metal royalty, Fleurety. I'm still making my way through Dayal Patterson's "Cult Never Dies" series of black metal books and Fleurety were one of bands that he talked about as being early influencers within not just Norway's black metal movement, but the global movement as a whole. Forming in 1991, Fleurety released two full-length records, shifted stylistically from the black metal of their early days to a more progressive sound and after a 9 years gap, begun to release a series of 7"s via Aesthetic Death Records in 2009. "Fragmenta Cuinsvis Aetatis Contemporaneae" is the duo's fourth. 

Easy listening this is not. Consensus hits you like a jarring piece of improvisational jazz/noise before Fleurety flows into an unnerving yet futuristic black-metal drone, complete with swathes of electronics. It’s very much like a nightmarish nursery rhyme. Second song Carnal Nations does contain a more traditional musical structure. It’s gloomier and thanks to the sparse use of vocals, it’s droning nature caries through. You occasionally come across music that either feels like a work of genius or idiocy. “Fragmenta…” teeters on the edge but is only saved by Fleurety’s reputation. It’s a glimpse into the minds of two creatives making music at a time when boundaries are constantly being pushed and broken. They deserve their place amongst the avant-garde of 2017. Be warned, this is not for the casual listener.

You can buy "Fragmenta..." from Aesthetic Death here -

Aesthetic Death Records Facebook -

Thursday 13 April 2017

Cranial - Dark Towers/Bright Lights


1. Dark
2. Towers
3. Bright
4. Lights

I can't believe it's already mid-April and I still feel like I'm way behind musically. Granted I have got the latest Pallbearer and Mastodon records (both are brilliant) and I've also got recent Heaven In Her Arms double LP, that I'm still yet to listen to properly. That leads me on to today's review, as the HIHA record was released by Moment Of Collapse Records (along with Dog Knights Productions) and Moment Of Collapse has also released this LP (and CD) by German band Cranial. It was released digitally, on CD and vinyl the end of January (with a limited tape release via US label Hand Of Death Records). It features four post-metal/sludge tracks and has already received plenty of very positive press. 

It’s the start of the Easter break and I couldn’t be happier right now, as it means I should be able to catch up on some writing. I’m beginning with the new record from German post-metal/sludge band Cranial, who definitely sound more metal than post on album opener Dark. Their heavier approach serves them well as the barrage of riffs and low bellows take hold. It’s certainly good to hear the darker more atmospheric side of metal coming to the fore again. The mainly instrumental journey that you’re taken on is a psychedelic one, before it gets heavier of course! There’s more to “Dark Towers/Bright Lights” that metal. Cranial makes use of unnerving noise and glitchy electronic samples to takes their sound in a much darker direction. Towers is a prime example of this as the electronics I speak of lead to massive riffs and dissonant soundscapes. At times Cranial are like a slower Full Of Hell and at other times I can’t even put my finger on who they sound like. Maybe that’s a good thing though, as on their own merit they’re bloody terrifying and their 10+ minute songs are all the better for it. The screeching feedback during the second half of Towers will attest to that. You’d expect that with a song called Bright, that the mood of the record would become more upbeat. You’d be wrong! It’s just as claustrophobic and biting as the first half was but that’s fine with me. in fact Bright is a lot more angular. Fourth and final song Lights takes one last swipe at your senses with a mixture of trippy electronics and head-smashing heaviness. It’s the skill of Cranial as a band that makes “Dark Towers/Bright Lights” such an engaging and exciting listen. Granted it’s not an easy one but then who cares for easy. Cranial challenge you, torture you and in the end save you. This album cleanses you. What a wonderful way to begin the holiday. 

Stream it and purchase it digitally here:-

CD/Vinyl copies can be purchased from Moment Of Collapse Records here -

Tapes are available from Hand Of Death Records/Error Records here -

Cranial Facebook -
Moment Of Collapse Records Facebook -
Hand Of Death Records Facebook -
Error Records Facebook -

Tuesday 11 April 2017

Bestial Invasion - Trilogy: Prisoners Of Miserable Fate EP


1. Prisoner Of Miserable Fate
2. Zodiac: Crime World Mystery
3. Caligula: Salacious Age
4. J.R.R Tolkien: Lord Of Middle Earth (Bonus CD track)

Unexpected free night tonight, which means more metal! I've decided to check out Ukrainian thrash metal band Bestial Invasion and their 2016 EP "Trilogy: Prisoners Of Miserable Fate". They formed as a quartet in 2014, before going onto release a couple of singles and a split with Leeds thrashers Cryptic Shift a year later. They went through a couple of line-up changes and are now a quintet. They released a full-length last year, alongside this EP (released digitally by the band and on CD via Shellfire Attack Records) that features three songs. The CD version also features a bonus instrumental track. 

Bestial Invasion mix very fast technical thrash with elements of speed and power metal. The EP’s title-track features clean vocals, which at times venture into falsetto territory and screaming lead guitars. It’s quite an assault on the senses but it’s really enjoyable as well. After the intensity of the opening song, Zodiac: Crime World Mystery sounds altogether more majestic during the initial sixty-second intro. What follows is even more technicality and until the vocals kick in, they sound like a different band. It’s a strange experience listening to a band steeped in traditional metal values that also sounds so progressive and forward-thinking, but Bestial Invasion pulls it off in a bizarre way. Caligula: Salacious Age is equally as bewildering and frenetic. The band pulls off some breathtaking instrumentation here, just as they do across the whole EP. CD bonus song J.R.R. Tolkien: Lord Of Middle-Earth is a near-ten minute mostly-instrumental piece featuring samples and effects in places. Some might say it’s over the top but it makes complete sense for Bestial Invasion to have written it. It’s another insight into an eccentric but wholly exciting band. This is most definitely the case of another band smashing my expectations.

You can stream the EP and purchase it digitally and on CD below:-

The CD is also available via Shellfire Attack here -

Bestial Invasion Facebook -
Shellfire Attack Facebook -

Monday 10 April 2017

Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost: The 10th Anniversary of ACB/Caina's "Mourner"

2017 marks the 10th anniversary of the album "Mourner" by solo artist ACB/Caina. Released in 2007, the record will see a full vinyl release for the first time via US label Dullest Records, while a limited tape of rehearsal recordings will also be available via bandcamp. You can stream one song from the tape and pre-order it directly from ACB here:-

As well as that, ACB will be playing a special set at this year's Roadburn Festival in Tilburg, Holland, as well as two sets with Ritual Object, the ambient/noise band.

Following later in the year, a full solo album titled "A Candle For The Devil" will be released. It's going to a busy year.

While awaiting the vinyl release you can stream "Mourner" via Profound Lore Records here:-

News and release updates can be found below:-

ACB/Caina Facebook -
Dullest Records Facebook -

Sunday 9 April 2017

Blood, Sweat & Extermination: Flatspot Records

Apologies for the slightly cheesy title, I've not written one of these label spotlight pieces since June 2015. I wanted to kick them off again because a lot of new labels have been coming to my attention recently and while a lot of them won't be "new" to everyone, I thought it would be a great chance to throw some light on them anyway for people who may not have encountered them yet. The format's a little different from previous spotlights with three releases (instead of four) getting reviewed, to try and make it a little less wordy. I'll also be including the usual bandcamp streams, as well as merch links.

I'm beginning with Baltimore, Maryland hardcore punk label Flatspot Records. They came to my attention because since their inception in 2004, they've released music by a couple of bands that are close to home; Deal With It and much more recently Higher Power. There's always a Yorkshire connection in there somewhere! Anyway, they're well regarded in the global hardcore scene and have worked with many other notable bands and have seen many of them play alongside legends like Agnostic Front and Sick Of It All. As well as that they've been opening new ears to bands via their "Extermination" comps.

Friend Or Foe - Foe EP


1. Foe/Paid The Price
2. N.L.Y.G
3. Battle Scarred (War Dogs III)
4. True
5. Earn It

First up is the third EP from Richmond straightedge-hardcore band Friend Or Foe. The band is made up of current and ex-members of Bracewar & Fire & Ice amongst others. Their previous EPs "Know Your Rights" and "Outsider" were released in 2012 and 2014 respectively. The "Foe" EP was released in August 2016 and in support of it, they went out for a run of dates with Sick Of It All.

I was getting heavily into hardcore when I first started this blog and listening to Friend Or Foe takes me back. EP opener Foe/Paid The Price is fast and hard-hitting, reminiscent of early-No Turning Back and UK band xCurraheex for me. There’s no pointless fretboard heroics going on here and the vocals are shouted with proper conviction. N.L.Y.G is the perfect example of straight-to-the-point hardcore, with less than ninety-seconds of precise riffs, percussion and typically positive lyrics. There’s equal urgency on Battle Scarred (War Dogs III) and those riffs are more than pit-inducing. Semi-clean melodic vocals are employed during True and sound a bit odd next to the hardcore of Friend Or Foe, but certainly don’t detract from it. EP closer Earn It is one final rallying cry from the band and it rounds “Foe” out in the same way it started. Five short and sharp hardcore songs full of impact. That’s all you really need.

Stream and download "Foe" here`:-

Friend Or Foe Facebook -

Countdown - Demo


1. Live For Now
2. Delusions
3. One Of Two
4. It Haunts...

Next up comes the demo by New York/Boston hardcore band Countdown, which was re-released by Flatspot Records in September 2016, after it was originally self-released. It turns out that the band broke up around the time of it's release. Far too many bands seem to call it a day after recording demo but at least Flatspot Records were able to get this out so more people could hear it.

This is great. The melodic guitar really hits you during the first song Live For Now. It’s decidedly old-school, especially in the vocals and it’s hard not to nod your head to it. Delusions is a quick-fire punk song. It’s nice to hear a band that don’t just take on that “tough guy” persona when playing hardcore. There also seems to be a bit of Dimebag coming through in the lead guitar. One Of Two settles on a more mid-paced tempo and still contains a lot of punk influence. Countdown certainly weren’t tied down by sub-genre when they wrote this and it’s that unwillingness to be pinned down that makes their music unique and interesting. It Haunts… finishes the demo with a wall of distorted 80s punk riffs and raucous volume. A fitting end to what is the only recorded output from Countdown to reach the ears of hardcore-punk fans. It’s a pit they called it a day when they did because hardcore punk needs more bands like them. Not afraid to stand out from the crowd.

Stream and purchase a download of Countdown's demo below:-

Mizery - Absolute Light


1. Paramatman
2. One Kiss
3. Mizery
4. Absolute Light
5. The Bvtcher
6. Execution Style
7. Discrimination Of Eye
8. Power Of Peace
9. injustice 4 All
10. The Hard Goodbye

This is the latest LP from San Diego's Mizery, who're currently touring the US with Power Trip. It was released last July. They're another band that holds the old-school close to their hearts and channels that influence into making hardcore dangerous again. "Absolute Light" follows the release of a couple of EPs and a special tape promo, also released via Flatspot Records. 

“Absolute Light” begins with a 90s metalcore vibe on Paramatman. It’s easy to hear the influence that bands like Metallica, Biohazard and Cro-Mags have all had on their sound. There’s plenty of crossover into thrash going on in their riffs on One Kiss and there’s a deliberate attempt to stay clear of a polished, modern production. That doesn’t mean that the production on the album is bad because it’s not at all. Mizery (the song) takes more from hip-hop than hardcore-punk and sound hella groovy. They ratchet up the urgency on the title-track, which is furious but in a controlled way. Must be great live! They break things up with instrumental song The Bvtcher. Their musical ability stands out a lot more on Execution Style. The guitar work is more intricate and blurs genre lines for the better. Discrimination Of Eye goes by pretty quickly as is it’s precision, while Power Of Peace could well have been written and performed by Pantera back in the day! In fact the band share a lot of their traits musically. They have a sense of humour as well and Injustice 4 All is a clever song-title. The song itself features more of their now familiar groove and after the moody atmosphere at the end, they close out “Absolute Light" with The Hard Goodbye, which begins with mid-paced riffs that help create the heaviest song on the record. Mizery proves that there is a real breadth of variation within hardcore and show it’s well and truly alive and well, as do Flatspot Records. 

Stream and purchase a download here:-

Mizery Facebook -

As I mentioned earlier in the piece, Flatspot Records have released three compilations, both digitally and on vinyl. Streaming links from their bandcamp page are below:-

In terms of future happenings, Flatspot Records will be releasing Higher Power's debut LP "Soul Structure" alongside UK label Venn Records in May. Here's a link to the video for Can't Relate

You can stream and download their back catalogue of releases via their bandcamp page and you can grab physical records, tapes and other merch from their All In Merch store here -

Flatspot Records Facebook -

Cheers for reading and I hope you've enjoyed it and more importantly, I hope you've discovered some new bands and music because of it. 

Thursday 6 April 2017

Winterlore - S/T


1. ...In The Frozen Forest
2. Spires Of Ascension
3. Marching Hordes On Warpaths Old
4. Lands Of Boreal Suspension
5. Ice Of Old Night
6. Winterlore

I'll be the first to admit that things have been a little slow on the writing front recently. Planning future articles and real life have taken over slightly, but I've got plenty on the way. It wasn't until settling down for this review that I realised that is the first one in the month of April. In spite of the blazing sun outside, I've chosen to immerse myself in the USBM of Utah's Winterlore. Forming in 2005 with the release of their demo "Fire And Ice Upon The Throne Of Might", it would take until 2013 for the band to release their debut full-length "Four Swords Against The Pious". Their self-titled second album came out last April via Slaughterhouse Records (Salt-Lake, Utah) on CD and by Winterlore digitally.

Winterlore favours the bombastic sound of black metals forefathers (without the horns/synths used by many) and album opener …In The Frozen Forest is cold and biting. The drums sit within the melee and there’s a mix of melody and murk from the guitars and bass. The shrieked vocals are those of corpse-painted ghouls. It’s certainly an immersive way to begin the album. Far from being performed at warp-speed, Winterlore combines pacy sections with mid-tempo passages on Spires Of Ascension.  No song here is short of the six-minute mark and the quality of Wintelore’s anti-religious black metal justifies their lengths. Marching Hordes On Warpaths Old features rousing guitar and even some clean chants, sometimes crossing into doom territory along the way. There’s also folk-influence thanks to a sole flute, once again showing Winterlore’s appreciation for the old masters of the genre. Lands Of Boreal Suspension continues along a doomier path in places, though the orchestral riffs keep the momentum going and add an element of accessibility to their music. The extremity ratchets up a good few notches on Ice Of Old Night. That’s actually quite an apt title as well, because it is icy to the core though thanks to the production and mastering it’s not raw like you’d expect. Winterlore’s choice of a more modern recording serves them well here. The atmosphere really takes hold during the closing title-track. It’s one last chance to drink in the majestic bombast of Winterlore (and I don’t mean in a cliched way either). This record is filled with great musicianship that sets it apart from Winterlore’s peers. It’s an escape from mundanity and indeed modernity in some respects. Another great black metal release.

You can stream "Winterlore" below:-

It's available to buy digitally and on digipack CD directly from Winterlore's bandcamp page above and from Slaughterhouse Records here -

Winterlore Facebook -
Slaughterhouse Records Facebook -