Monday 29 May 2017

Xibalba - Diablo, Con Amor... Adios 7"


1. Diablo
2. Con Amor
3. Adios

I'm carrying my current heavy hardcore mood on into the bank holiday and checking out the latest 7" from Californian hardcore/death metal mob Xibalba. It was released in February via Closed Casket Activities and 2017 marks the 10th anniversary for the band. The 7" was pressed onto four different colour-ways (electric blue w/olive & blue splatter, orange w/bronze splatter, standalone electric blue & blood red) and the artwork was provided by none other than Dan Seagrave. 

Xibalba has developed into one of the USA’s most revered modern day hardcore acts and it’s easy to why on here. Opener Diablo is full of heavy mid-paced hardcore riffs and gloomy death metal atmosphere. The breakdowns are crazy and the vocals are full of menace. Con Amor takes things in a different direction, with thrash and kick-drums aplenty. Xibalba manages to make hardcore sound truly scary again. Their full heaviness isn’t truly unleashed until closing song Adios. The intro riffs are mighty and the instrumentation is delivered with spin kicking accuracy. They don’t deal so much in melody and prefer to bludgeon you with mosh throughout the song’s five+ minutes. Xibalba are still undisputed heavyweights of hardcore.

Stream, download and purchase Diablo, Con Amor... Adios below:-

Xibalba -
Closed Casket Activities -

Singled Out #2 - Perception, Kamikaze Girls & NY IN 64

The first instalment of "Singled Out" seemed to go down really well, so I've decided to try and make it a fortnightly thing as there so much being released at the moment. This time I'm bringing you singles/videos by UK metalcore band Perception, Leeds/London punk duo Kamikaze Girls and US instrumental band NY IN 64.

Perception - Monolith

Monolith was released on May 16th, which is why is didn't make the first instalment of this feature. It's the title-track from the band's upcoming EP, which is due out later this year. The song itself is a progressive and modern slab of metal and is available to download from all of the major outlets. Check out the video below:-

Store -
Facebook -

Kamikaze Girls - Deathcap

Rising riot grrrl duo Kamikaze Girls have just released the video for new song Deathcap, which will feature on their debut album "Seafoam", due out on June 9th via Big Scary Monsters and Wiretap Records. The song once again sees Kamikaze Girls tapping into the anxiety and nervousness that is felt by young people in the UK. You can watch the video below:-

Pre-orders for "Seafoam" are available via the band's Bandcamp page as well as via the label links below:-

Big Scary Monsters -
Wiretap Records -

Website -
Facebook -

NY IN 64 - Couldn't Be Saved

US instrumental band NY IN 64 have just released the video for new song Couldn't Be Saved, which appears on their new album "The Gentle Indifference Of The Night". The album has just been made available on worldwide release via Magic Bullet Records. The song itself highlights how NY IN 64 (feat current/ex-members of East Of The Wall & Capacities etc) are forging their own unique sound and musical progression. Listen to it below:-

Full streaming and digital/physical order links for the record can be found via Magic Bullet Records here (bandcamp) and here (webstore).

Facebook -

Sunday 28 May 2017

Razoreater - Vacuum Of Nihil


1. Nailbombed
2. I, Dreadnought
3. Bloodeagled
4. Wrath
5. Filth Scheming, Shrill Screaming

This past weeks has been a bit of a write-off. I had intended to post everyday but I didn't get round to it. Anyway, as I mentioned at the top of my previous Ambassador Gun review, I wanted to post about some bands/releases that I'd slept on and this 2016 LP from UK band Razoreater was one of them. I came across the band in 2012 when they released their demo tape "Necropolitan" via CoF Records (then known as Church Of Fuck). It was followed by a split 7" with label mates Iced Out (RIP) and a live tape featuring their set from Stuck On A Name Studios, as well as sets from Oblivionized and Let It Die. "Vacuum Of Nihil" was a collaborative release by Skin & Bones Records and Wooaaargh Records, as a single-sided LP with b-side etching. 

Razoreater emerged at a time when heavy, riffy hardcore/noise was exploding in the UK and alongside the likes of Knife Crimes and Esoteric Youth (both RIP), they opened the pathway for a load of DIY bands that have since parted. Thankfully, they’re still around and still very much at it. LP opener Nailbombed is a noisy, feedback-filled slice of hardcore. More grinding and fast than anything. I, Dreadnought is delivered at a similar pace and there’s no time for slow, chugging riffs as they smash through it in less than ninety seconds, with the help of guest vox from Red from Let It Die. The slow, chugging riffs do enter the fray though on Bloodeagled. A ridiculous low-end and rhythm section only makes it more menacing. They burst back into life with violent ferocity halfway through the song, with raging death/grind taking centre stage. Wrath is definitely a song that needs to be played loud, as is the whole record. A live setting is the best place to hear Razoreater too, which I can attest too having seen them back in 2012 at Fuck Fest (although my memory of that show is a bit foggy!). Closing song Filth Scheming, Shrill Screaming is so aptly named, as it’s both filthy and shrill. It sums up Razoreater’s mix of heavy hardcore and noise perfectly and ends with a maddening slice of electronic drone. Short but visceral and oh so good.

You can stream and download 'Vacuum Of Nihil" via Razoreater's bandcamp page below:-

The LP can still be purchased from both Skin & Bones Records and Wooaaargh Records.

Razoreater -
Skin & Bones Records -
Wooaaargh Records -

Monday 22 May 2017

Ambassador Gun - Tomb Of Broken Sleep


1. Heart Of Corruption
2. Narcotic
3. Invaders
4. Once Upon The Sauce
5. Tomb Of Broken Sleep
6. Fire At Will
7. Mighty Steed
8. County Fair Massacre
9. Karamazov
10. Smoke Crack Worship Satan

I was sat down last night scrolling through my e-mails and a couple of articles online. It got me wondering about all of the bands and releases from the last couple of years that have just passed me by, through no fault of their own. So I thought, before I write my next label spotlight I'll try and focus on a few older bands and records. I'm starting out this week with the self-released (and final) 2015 opus "Tomb Of Broken Sleep" by now defunct US grinders Ambassador Gun. The band formed in 2005 and split up last year. They released three EPs, three full-lengths, a split with Enabler and were at one point courted by Prosthetic Records. I'm hoping that reviews like this will form some kind of archive eventually.

Ambassador Gun plays punchy and surprisingly catchy grind on “Tomb Of Broken Sleep”. Album opener Heart Of Corruption lays waste to all of your senses, while AG blast and scream like their lives depend on it. Talking of blasts, the drums are pretty high in the mix along with the vocals, meaning that the guitars aren’t as prominent when AG are in full flow. Narcotic is so brutal though that small details like that are quickly forgotten. It doesn’t get any easier on Invaders. The sense of urgency is overwhelming and the grinding intensity created only lets up when the slower, sludgy riffs come into play halfway through. It’s a welcome change of pace though and it shows off their metal chops off too.  The noise that permeates between songs reminds me a lot of early Full Of Hell, before they went off the charts. Once Upon The Sauce pulls no punches yet still manages to land a knockout blow. The title-track follows instantly and the screams are utterly piercing in a way that will make you grin from ear to ear. It’s also the point at which you realise just how technical this trio are. The tempo changes, off-kilter instrumentation and coordination are all top notch. Fire At Will is the only sub-one minute song on “Tomb Of Broken Sleep” but it proves that they can out-grind any grind band. The menacing treble at the start of Mighty Steed leads to a mid-paced noise-a-thon, with sporadic forays into fastness. County Fair Massacre makes the perfect title for a death metal song and the song itself isn’t actually too far off in terms of sound. It’s also delivered with the most un-human levels of percussion battery you’re ever likely to witness. Penultimate song Karamazov goes back to AG’s catchier sound, albeit briefly. Fuzz is the order of the day on Smoke Crack Worship Satan, as that’s exactly what it starts off with. what follows is one final stab in face by way of madcap, raging grind/death/noise. Though Ambassador Gun are no more, their back catalogue is still available for streaming and digital download via their bandcamp page below. You could do a lot worse.

Ambassador Gun -

Sunday 21 May 2017

Pijn - Floodlit


1. Dumbstruck & Floodlit
2. Hazel
3. Cassandra
4. Lacquer

This week has turned out to be pretty incredible for me (in writing terms anyway). When choosing today's review I decided to try and keep the focus on music that excites and motivates. I didn't want to write about any old extreme metal record. This is where Manchester's Pijn comes in, as their experimental and ambient music expands upon the musical climate of a city that's already proved it can lead the way in UK alternative/heavy music. "Floodlit" was released in late January by Holy Roar Records and to prove how wide reaching Pijn's music is, they've recently played alongside The Body and are playing ArcTanGent in August alongside the likes the Converge, Boris and Explosions In The Sky. 

The orchestral cinematic opening to Dumbstruck & Floodlit is both beautiful and slightly foreboding, which describes Pijn’s music pretty well. Experimentation and progression go hand in hand with heavier undertones. Off-kilter drumming and feedback-laden guitar work are present, alongside more dramatic strings and hushed, sparse vocals during the it’s first half. They switch on a dime though and  hit a more caustic stride, with roars and more traditional heaviness later on. It all ends with ear-splitting woodwind and ever-fusing noise. The grandiosity of the opener is followed by Hazel, which takes the form of a short instrumental piece making use of piano and guitar. It sounds very improvised and has a subtle hint of Ennio Morricone’s Western soundscapes. Cassandra is made up of guitar-driven ambience and feedback. Fourth and final song Lacquer contains elements of hardcore but it never becomes overpowering. It’s a stunning piece of music that winds its way through nearly seven-and-a-half-minutes. Calming tones replace the dissonance and it almost becomes mesmeric at times. Short as this EP may be, it’s still enjoyable and very much approachable. Here’s hoping that Pijn is the catalyst for another wave of noisy sounds from Manchester.

You can stream "Floodlit" below:-

It's available to purchase digitally and on was via Holy Roar Records above and you can also sign up to their subscription club there as well.

Pijn -
Holy Roar Records -

Saturday 20 May 2017

Sleeper Wave - "Glacial" Song Stream + New Release News

This is the second milestone post of the weekend for me. It gives me great pleasure to be able to bring you a stream of new song Glacial by Massachusetts punk trio Sleeper Wave. It is one of four tracks that the band are contributing to a special double LP release called "Eight Feet Under Vol.1", which features eight bands from four countries and twenty two songs!

Sleeper Wave started in 2013, released a demo shortly after and then followed it up with a self-titled 7" in 2015. Check out Glacial below:-

The record itself comes on two black LPs, in a gatefold sleeve with artwork courtesy of Italian graffiti artist Nero. It will be released on June 1st. There are five labels involved in it's release and they are Zegema Beach Records, Shove Records, Through Love Records, IFB Records & Don't Live Like Me Records.

You can also stream other songs that are due to appear on the record below, including two more Sleeper Wave songs -

It's truly a multi-national release with two Swedish bands (Vi Som Alskade Varandra Sa Mycket & Via Fondo), two Canadian bands (Nous Etions & The World That Summer), two US bands (Sleeper Wave & Youth Novel) and two Italian bands (Lamantide & Pastel) all appearing.

Live pre-order links are below with various deals:-

You can find out more details about the record as they're released via the below pages:-

Zegema Beach Records -
Shove Records -
Through Love Records -
IFB Records -
Don't Live Like Me Records -

Friday 19 May 2017

Duct Hearts - Exclusive Interview + Feathers Review and Song Stream

(Photo Credit: My Name Is Jonas)

2017 is going to be a breakthrough year for German post-hardcore band Duct Hearts, as they set to release their debut album "Feathers" in early June with the help of six labels. Forming in 2009 (originally as a solo project), they've appeared on various split records, with their first solo 7" "If You Prick Us, Do We Not Bleed" came in 2015. I caught up with Daniel recently to ask him about "Feathers" and the build up to it. 

You formed Duct Hearts in 2009 and you’re about to release your debut full-length record. How do you feel going into its release? What process did you go through when writing it?

We released a lot of songs on splits, compilations and small formats before, so the entire process of recording/releasing isn’t new to us. However making an LP feels a bit more serious. Most things we did before were 7“s, and as this format is basically limited to one song we can contribute and there’s usually one or more other bands on the record the pressure of “delivering” isn’t as bad. Also if you write songs for an LP you can write with less pressure of making each of them representative for the band, you can for instance include a song that’s clean over its entire duration, and experiment a bit more without trying to make each song perfectly presenting the band. So the writing process took less “construction” (something we did a lot for example on the If You Prick Us… 7“, where we “force” a lot of seemingly unfitting parts into one song). On the other hand I’m no friend of the write-10-songs-and-put-them-on-an-LP kind of albums, I like to have a plan and have some sort of golden thread that makes an LP more than just a bunch of songs, which is kind of a big question mark, especially when these songs were written over the span of 3 years. After Shell had been written pretty early and the idea for an LP came up I pretty quickly had the overall topic as well as the record title. We moved into my grandfather’s house 2 years ago, which kind of led me into thinking a lot about families and all the weirdest habits and actions they include, so the topic came naturally. Then again you never know if you have enough to say for an entire LP, but we already had 3 strong songs at that time and we never pressured ourselves to write so the process of writing was more being a trio and making music together and make it an LP when we have enough material. So the biggest question mark was how they would form a nice arc of suspense and work as an LP. We still kind of didn’t pressure ourselves too much on that and always kept ourselves a back door in which we would’ve just left a song off the record if it had turned out not working for it.

I think the biggest actual effort started after the recording was done, our friend Franz mixed and mastered it in his studio called Koenich Sound in Seoul, South Korea. He has a busy schedule,and the different time zones made it difficult to communicate so working on the mixes took a lot more effort than I had expected. Then we had some troubles with the test presses, artwork was a lot of effort as well (I rarely have to do professional print-ready-files so that was a lot of trial and error). Now, shortly before the release date we are working on other things we have never been involved in that much, like doing actual promotion, getting things reviewed in time for the release (that means well before the release), making a video, booking a tour, things like that. It’s not the amount of work that makes it a heavy load, it’s more the fact that everything has to happen at certain times, mostly the same time, which has to happen in parallel to work and family life.

You kindly gave me the opportunity to have an early listen to the record. Having reviewed and taken in some of your previous releases, I’ve noticed a change in your musical approach and a maturity as well. Did that come naturally? Do you think taking your time over the years has helped you to write a better album?

It all came pretty naturally. Most of the older songs were either entirely recorded/written by myself or I had them pretty much sorted out before I took them into practice room. All songs on the LP were written after David (drums) had joined the band, so that of course caused some shift already. The first song we wrote was Shell (which was after our tour with human hands in 2014, you may notice their influence on the ending of the song). After that we decided to make an LP, so everything we wrote since then was meant to be on the LP. I think we also didn’t write every song with the pressure it would have to be a great live song, as we already had a good set to play live. On the other hand these songs were written without a 2nd guitar in mind (more in a trio-practice-room environment), unlike some older songs. To break it down into one sentence I think we felt a lot freer to write songs just as they happened, and less trying to construct them, and less trying to force a lot of ideas into one song. I think the shift we needed to make this LP was rather being a full band than years. Obviously three people provide a lot more ideas than one, also being an actual band creates a lot more momentum that pushes creativity even more.

Can you tell us about the labels that are involved in the release?

The LP will be released by Middle-Man Records in the US, SNCL in the UK, Upwind in Italy, Pundonor in Spain, Friend of Mine in Japan and time as a color in Germany (who is doing the CD version as well), we are stoked and grateful for having it spread over so many countries. Also Broken Silence will take care of distribution, which is a big thing to us, too.

Is it important for Duct Hearts that you remain a DIY band and keep working with like-minded labels?

The question is sort of easy and difficult to answer at the same time, because I basically don’t see any alternative. I really doubt we could “deliver” enough professionalism for a non-diy label to release our music, we don’t tour/sell enough for anyone to make profit. That sounds as if DIY was just our plan B, which of course is not the case. I really don’t think too much about “what if a big label approached us about releasing our music“. I’ve been through all these hopes when I started making music. Basically what I learned growing up, starting a band, touring, booking, pressing, releasing, distributing etc is that no one’s gonna do something for you that you haven’t done yourself before. And no time/money invested into a band is as wasted as sending a stupid demo to a bigger label. If you believe your music should be heard, make a recording, make copies of it on the format you think it deserves, try to distribute it (ask shops to take it on consignment or trade with labels or other bands for copies of their releases, which will in the end help out both of you), send some to get reviewed, play shows, put on shows yourself. Repeat. You can’t expect anyone to invest into your band if you don’t invest yourself, into your own band as well as into others, help book a tour, spread contacts, spread stickers of labels you think are cool without expecting to receive something right away. DIY and big label business doesn’t differ too much (both rely on investment of time and money), except in DIY you don’t expect to receive something back except the emotion of doing something valuable. So on that respect it is crucial for us to work with labels who share the same ideas, believe in our work and who find it rewarding just to be part of our music, without excepting fast financial reward, or any at all.

How do you approach writing your music? Do you all write together and contribute ideas or is it a solitary approach?

It’s hard to break down into one or two formulas, because it varies a lot. Some songs take forever to put together (usually if I try too hard to force different ideas together, I am a very stubborn person), some don’t work at first and you put it to rest and pick it back up later with a fresh ear and mind. Feathers, the title track of our LP, has been some sort of a live intro since the very first shows but it got bits added here and there until it became what it is on the record. Usually I present a rough idea of a song to the band when I feel I have enough to make it a song, sometimes even earlier, when I feel it could profit from some ideas from the band, or when I am unsure about how something would sound in reality rather than what I made up in my mind. Usually we work out something pretty quickly from there. Luckily Chris and David are very open to most ideas (possibly the fact that I had recorded some songs before we found each other, so they knew what direction I wanted to go in helped a lot on that respect, as I tend to be a lot less open minded on the music I want to play) but I think (hope?) we have an open way of working together in which everyone can add and drop things. Hide for example initially had a quite sludgy distorted intro which I liked a lot but we eventually dropped it (for the sake of the song) after David and Chris couldn’t really get into it. I think I am pretty lucky that both guys like most my ideas and are very open. David has a hugely widespread taste in music and Chris and I are old and wise enough not to try to force things (unlike many young bands who are very creative and passionate, but also very impatient), so maybe our personal relations are our kind of formula for writing and being a band rather than writing-formulas themselves.

You deal with some quite personal emotions on the record. Was the subject matter something that the whole band agreed on and invested time into?

We are open to everyone in the band contributing both lyrical and musical content into our music, however except for David doing some occasional background vocals live I am the only singer until now, so it goes naturally I have been writing all lyrics so far. We have written some call it socially inspired lyrics before (on the If You Prick Us… 7“ for example), however as we all have different views onto the world I still try to keep my lyrics personal, even if portraying a political statement. As you mention lyrics on feathers are very personally inspired but still presenting general deficiencies without trying to state absolute objective “truths”, because there’s no such thing. We never had a talk where I would ask David and Chris if our lyrical content was ok with them (I doubt I would accept any censorship anyway), on the other hand I am open to explain to them and also try to keep everything personal and cryptic enough to avoid a situation where I would present an opinion as a band that might not represent Chris and David. I try to represent small personal bits and sights onto the world, rather than trying to explain the entire picture.

As a trio, what does Duct Hearts mean to you now? What have you learnt over the years and if you were starting out as a new band again, what advice would you give yourselves?

I think the 35 year old me wouldn’t start a band again, the process of finding like-minded people, especially at my age and the genre I am writing music within is difficult. It still means the world to me and I am glad David showed up right when I needed a drummer. I am far over the age where you can tour 50 days a year (although I would love to do that), but there’s still so many things I want to do with the band, make another LP, tour the weirdest places most bands don’t go (would love to play Japan, the US, a small Italian island, south/east Europe etc). If I could talk to my 18 years old (or even younger) me I would probably want to hint myself into taking interest in the diy emo scene and generally this music that influenced me earlier, and put my own music on vinyl way earlier. On the other hand, the years it took until I finally released my first music on vinyl possibly created some sort of passion and endurance that can’t be replaced, and who knows, if I had gotten into all that earlier I might’ve lost interest already. So I would probably just try to give my mini me a bit more self consciousness. I’ve always had some good self esteem, I’ve just never been aware of that :-D

What are your touring plans for the album? Are you going to be coming to the UK at all?

Yeah we are playing a weekender with Dym in mid august! Can't wait to finally tour the UK! After that we will do a EU tour September 1st-10th with ISTMO from Italy, including playing our first shows in Italy. Very exciting year for us. 


1. Feathers
2. Spinae
3. Cera
4. Hide
5. Piuma
6. Shell

Having featured Duct Hearts on this blog on few occasions over the last two years, getting the opportunity to have an early listen to "Feathers" and review it was more than I was expecting. 

It’s been fascinating hearing and tracking the evolution of Duct Hearts over the last couple of years. “Feathers” feels very much like the beginning of a new chapter for them. Opening with the title-track, the band eschews it’s earlier sound in favour of something more ethereal and cinematic. Flowing instrumental passages and clean vocals show a new maturity within the band while heavier. angular sections ensure that their earlier post-hardcore still holds influence. There are no natural breaks in these early songs (at least not in the pre-release version I’m listening to) so I’ve had to do a little guess work with regards to where one ends and the other starts. Spinae appears out of the fading closing riff of the opener and builds in doom-like fashion. There’s restraint and incredible solace within the song, with vocals backed up by quiet solo-guitar melodies for most of it. It almost seems like the song is split into two as there’s an extended instrumental in the middle before the second verse. Cera begins instantly and is the heaviest song so far in terms of riffs. More metal at times than hardcore but that is only brief, though it’s subtle technicality does remind me of Deftones. It’s a relatively brief song in terms of the album but it’s impact can not be overlooked. The off-kilter, jazz-like textures of Hide make it a really enjoyable listen. Again, it’s brief but it was clearly written that way. The great thing about this record is the fact that it isn’t overly complex. The lyrics of Piuma are very poignant indeed and are backed up by musical sensitivity that’s often mislaid when a band tries to create atmosphere like this. It does tug at your heartstrings. Shell was the earliest song written for the album but it retains a lot of what has made “Feathers” such a pleasurable album to listen to. It’s mix of orchestral-like melodies and discordance is hard to ignore. In little over half-an-hour of music Duct Hearts has managed to take you on a journey through their emotions and feeling, as well as your own. Every once in a while, an inconspicuous band comes along and releases something that really touches you. This year that someone is Duct Hearts. 

Spinae is available for early streaming below:-

Duct Hearts -

"Feathers" is pencilled for release on both CD/LP on June 9th. Head to the links below for pre-orders or to pick up a copy when it's on general sale:-

strictly no capital letters (UK) -
Upwind Produzioni (Italy) -
Pundonor Records (Spain) -
Friend Of Mine Records (Japan) -
Middle-Man Records (USA) -
Time As A Color (Germany) -

strictly no capital letters -
Upwind Produzioni -
Pundonor Records -
Friend Of Mine Records -
Middle-Man Records -
Time As A Color -

Thursday 18 May 2017

Astronoid - Air


1. Incandescent
2. Up And Atom
3. Resin
4. Violence
5. Homesick
6. Tin Foil Hats
7. Air
8. Obsolete
9. Trail Of Sulfur

I slept on this record in 2016 and feel really bad for doing so. The fact that "Air" by Massachusetts post-metal quintet Astronoid came from the same label (Blood Music) that released Lychgate's "An Antidote For The Glass Pill", shows you that there are no boundaries within metal anymore. I say because both releases are at different extremes. Astronoid themselves have been a band since 2012, when they self-released their first EP "November" digitally. They followed it up with a single and then the EP "Stargazer" a year later. 2016 saw Blood Music release "Air' on multiple formats (Digital, CD, LP). They're playing a run of shows in the US in July alongside Tesseract having just appeared alongside Ghost Bath, so they must be doing something right!

Opening song Incandescent feels lonely as it builds, before the lowly plucked guitar gives way to a wall of atmospheric and cinematic sound with a subtle hint of driving metal. At times it’s almost like Cult of Luna and Fightstar are collaborating together, but once the dreamy vocals ring out that image vanishes. Even the kick-drumming doesn’t overpower it. Despite the humour intended with Up And Atom, the song itself is deadly serious and Astronoid weaves layer upon of layer of opposing sounds that just fit together perfectly. The technical guitar-work justifies the song’s tempo while the pop elements in the clean singing sit atop of the instrumentation providing colour and depth. Like a lot of progressive black metal and indeed progressive music in general, Astronoid write longer songs but those songs seem to fly by. Resin is almost seven minutes long but you wouldn’t think it. It’s just really listenable. The post-hardcore elements mean that it’s really hard to pin it down to a specific genre (or sub-genre). The song Violence is anything but. It’s a stripped back song with no drums and a brief playing time, allowing Astronoid to settle things down for a moment. It’s followed by Homesick, with it’s uplifting feel and heartwarming melodies. The bizarrely titled Tin Foil Hats takes Astronoid back down the heavier path (instrumentally anyway). The awesome punk-like rhythms that intersperse the double-bass throughout the song are a pleasure to hear. The title-track seems to define their spacey sound and while it might be hard for a lot of “extreme metallers” to take, it’s a sound works and deserves it’s place in the genre. As penultimate song Obsolete whirls by, you can’t help but feel good. The vocals effects provide a space-age modernity while the guitar-work gets ever better, as do the band as a whole. “Air” closes with Trail Of Sulfur and it’s menacing low-end. It brings to an end an album that’s completely flawed me. There’s definitely room for Astronoid amongst the raw, icy black metal and the blasting death metal in our lives. 

You stream and purchase "Air" digitally via Blood Music below:-

Sadly, "Air' appears to be sold out on both CD and vinyl formats though Astronoid may be have copies available in their store (at the time of writing it appears as though their store was temporarily down, so check back) -

Astronoid -
Blood Music -

Tuesday 16 May 2017

Light The Way - Grace


1. Note To Self
2. Black Waves
4. I'm Sorry
5. Scatterbrained

Yesterday evening I wrote about a UK pop-punk band who called US pop-punk their main influence, so this evening I thought I'd write about a new US pop-punk band. Remember, while they're undoubtedly responsible for pop-punk in the 00's, there are other bands besides Blink-182 and Green Day. Let me introduce you to California's Light The Way. "Grace" is their debut EP and was released last November, though the band has recently signed a deal with Indie Vision Music to release it digitally to a wider audience. These guys are fast workers because just days after receiving the press release about "Grace", I received a second one about their new record "Dude, Lame". I'll get to that one soon!

This is pretty much as Californian as it gets and I don’t mean that disrespectfully. Light The Way are unapologetically catchy and much like Neck Deep and the like, they’re playing what they want to play. Note To Self sets their stall out early with plenty of melody and urgency. Black Waves is old-school and reminds a lot of Bad Religion and Pennywise, minus the political lyrics. Immediate and full of impact thanks to uptempo drums and driving guitars. BRKN was originally a single released in August 2016 and I can see why they released it first, as it’s very much of the moment. It’s got a bit of atmosphere to it and a riff that brings to mind The Kids Aren’t Alright-Era The Offspring. I’m Sorry follows in pretty much the same way and shows that with each passing song on “Grace”, Light The Way gets stronger in the song-writing department. Their delivery is genuine and uplifting. They end “Grace” with the acoustic Scatterbrained and it’s incredibly poignant, especially in the lyrical department. There’s a lot of people I know who’ve been struggling mentally lately (including myself) and this song kind of sums up those feelings, but in an uplifting way. Light The Way are definitely living up to their name.

You can stream and purchase "Grace" as a name-your-price-download below:-

The EP is also available digitally through all of the usual mainstream outlets.

Light The Way -
Indie Vision Music -

Monday 15 May 2017

A Few Too Many - Lessons Learned


1. I Always Knew
2. Moving Forwards
3. First Last Kiss
4. At Our Pace
5. Young
6. Reason
7. X
8. Complications
9. Battle Within
10. Lessons Learned
11. Escape To LA

I've been in a bit of a melodic mood these last few days and in a bid to add a bit of variation to the blog, I'm bringing you some punk of the pop variety. This is the debut album from Essex pop-punks A Few Too Many. The quintet form back in 2009 and prior to "Lessons Learned", they released an EP in 2012. They list bands such as New Found Glory and Blink-182 as influences, so they're certainly aiming high. Let's see if they're on the right track...

‘Lessons Learned” is certainly sweet and sugary, but maybe a bit too of the latter. First song I Always Knew has a quite conservative pace for an album opener and there’s a hint of auto-tune within the vocals, but there only minor quibbles from this writer. Moving Forwards sounds much more promising especially as the US-accented singing that filled I Always Knew is tempered down somewhat. One thing is for sure though, the New Found Glory influence is definitely there. You’ll really will the tempo of First Last Kiss to increase but it doesn’t, which is a little disappointing as it’s a decent song. They venture into acoustic territory on At Our Pace, which I think actually suits them better. As a band they sound a lot more organic. Young is A Few Too Many’s attempt at a good old skater anthem and they make a good fist of it. There’s a cool low-fi guitar sound on Reason and I was kinda hoping for some gruff-punk vocals to go along with it, as I’m still finding it all a bit too sickly. X is another acoustic number with a folky undertone to it. The urgency of Complications is much needed and the thicker guitar sound is good too, while Battle Within makes for a really dramatic ballad of sorts. The penultimate title-track is full of emotion and atmosphere, which hasn’t really been present on the rest of the record. I guess it’s not what A Few Too Many were really aiming for with “Lessons Learned” but it shows that their song-writing skills are there at least. Closing song Escape To LA sums up both this album and A Few Too Many for me. They’re certainly good at what they do, but they’re too clean and too caught up with sounding like their influences. If they can settle down and allow and their music of mature, they could really build a following and shoot up through the UK pop-punk scene. 

You can listen to both Moving Forwards & At Our Pace via their website here, where the album is also available for pre-order -

Saturday 13 May 2017

Singled Out #1 - The Weight Of Atlas, Colt 45 & Cryptic Shift

This is a new feature that I've decided to put together to highlight singles that have recently been released. I'm going to try and carry it on as reviewing them in the same way that I would an EP or an album seems a bit pointless. This first instalment features singles by three very different bands; Dundee/Edinburgh based post-hardcore band The Weight Of Atlas, Cumbrian punks Colt 45 and Leeds sci-fi thrashers Cryptic Shift. Enjoy...

The Weight Of Atlas - The Art Of Letting Go

Scottish post-hardcore band The Weight Of Atlas recently released this single and accompanying video. They play post-hardcore with a mix of clean singing and metalcore-inspired screams, as well heavy instrumentation. It's a pretty modern sound that they pull off really well.

You can download it now via the usual mainstream outlets, including iTunes, Spotify and Amazon Music. 

Colt 45 - 17

Cumbrian punks Colt 45 recently released a 7" featuring A-side Hard Times (don't worry it's not a cover of the new Paramore song!) and this B-side. They've released a video that features footage from their recent tour. It's a good old British punk song this one.

You can also stream and download the single here:-

Store -
Facebook -

Cryptic Shift - Cosmic Dreams

At the end of April, UKEM Records digitally released the latest single from Leeds death/thrash band Cryptic Shift. It's been released just in time for their upcoming Suffocation support slot in Leeds. There's no Youtube video for this one but who cares, when it's this heavy! Stream and download it below:-

Store -
Facebook -

Screamo Stanzas: Rubaiyat Records

Another label spotlight, another terrible title. Thanks goes to Google though for helping me to stave off writer's block and for teaching that Rubaiyat is a Persian word for a four-line stanza in poetry. My third spotlight belongs to West Midlands label Rubaiyat Records; which began releasing music in 2014 as Allende Records. Rubaiyat is single-handedly run by Fionn, who has released records by homegrown acts like Thisismenotthinkingofyou and Yuri, not to mention bands from as far away as Australia (Nebraska/Diplomat) and Japan (Ghostlate) to name a few, while cooperating with like-minded labels including Halo Of Flies, Time As A Color and more. This spotlight covers three release, two of which are fairly new.

Masada - S/T LP


1. Uneindeutigkeiten
2. Vier
3. Defeat
4. Schwarzester Punkt
5. Sandkasten
6. Remains
7. Untitled 1
8. T-S
9. Nach Aukha
10. Fragments
11. Repeat

I'm starting out with a record that was released almost a year ago by German screamo band Masada. They're a quartet and they started playing shows in 2013 according to their Tumblr page, but aside from that I can find very little info about them. This self-titled record was their first full release following a demo in 2014 and it was the fruit of a collaboration between seven labels including Rubaiyat Records. A cool feature about this record is that it came with an envelope, which contained a number of card inserts featuring the songs/lyrics and thank you, along with the label logos stamped in the back. You don't see that everyday. 

Containing eleven song, most of which being under two-minutes long, you’d be forgiven for thinking this is a emoviolence record. LP opener Uneindeutigkeiten does begin that way though, with feedback, vicious screams and pummelling instrumentation. There are moments though where calming guitar melodies break through and clean vocals add brightness. Masada is quite a technical band as demonstrated on Vier, with it’s intelligent percussion. It’s music that has a lot going on but actually reminds you of early screamo/hardcore bands that shot more from the hip. Guitar melody once again pokes through on Defeat. The caustic screams give way to singing that wouldn’t be out of place on an indie record yet Masada’s restless energy is never far away. Defeat ends calmly with lowly guitar before a jolt of noise as the band ploughs through two sub-one minute songs. Schwarzester Punkt takes all of their off-kilter textures and condenses them with the help of some restraint, while on Sandkasten they forge headlong towards the self-destruct button. If you ever got hold of a copy of the Dog Knights Productions tribute to Orchid then you’ll be comfortable with the heaviness on show here. Remains goes by in blur of fizzing feedback and intense screeches. They show off their punk  roots on Untitled 1 with the help of rumbling bass and forays into mid-paced instrumentation. T-S is another relative long-player consisting of odd electronics and white noise. It doesn’t act as an interlude, more as an instrumental sent to test your resolve. It flows into Nach Aukha and the balance is restored. At first it’s easy going but it builds and builds before the band explode with more pent up energy. There’s tempo changes aplenty and some heavy hardcore riffs too. Penultimate song Fragments is refreshingly catchy and gloriously all-over-the-place. It’s the longest song on the record and is really well-written. Some bands tend to get pigeonholed as one-trick ponies but that’s not the case here. Last song Repeat is one final blast of infectious screamo that will indeed make you want to repeat the entire record. Creativity comes in many forms but non are more life affirming than music played by individuals who’re overwhelmingly enthusiastic about what they do. Masada definitely gives you that sense. Great stuff.

The LP is available to stream and purchase as a name-your-price download here:-

Masada Tumblr -

V/A - 5-Way Split


1. Thisismenotthinkingofyou - Strange House
2. Yotsuya Kaidan - Hyperrealism
3. Healing Powers - An Apparition
4. I Hate Sex - Never Risen
5. Ghostlate - A Bouquet That I Held And You

It's only right that I write about the 5-way split 7" that features the Healing Powers song that I got to stream for you back in early January. The split featuring UK bands Thisismenotthinkingofyou and Healing Powers, Yotsuya Kaidan from the Ukraine, Canadian's I Hate Sex and Japan's Ghostlate was released via Rubaiyat Records and Ukrainian label Samegrey Records in late February. A record with five tracks from five bands playing a mix of screamo, emoviolence and hardcore, from different corners of the world has surely got to be worth it.

First up is Thisismenotthinkingofyou who’ve just played Miss The Stars Fest, with the barren and atmospheric Strange House. The menace in the instrumentation and the heart-wrenching emotion in the screams make it impossible to ignore. Yotsuya Kaidan are more up-tempo on Hyperrealism. Their angular hardcore sound is powerful yet not overpowering, as melody peers through the recording. Now it’s time for Healing Powers! If you checked out my stream feature a little while ago, you’ll have heard An Apparition. It’s violent passages at the beginning and end are a stark contrast to it’s more laid back mid-section. Never Risen by I Hate Sex leans more towards indie at it’s start, before melodic riffs and animated dual-female/male vocals shatter the mood in the best possible way. Ghostlike get the honour of closing out the split with A Bouquet That I Held And You, which mixes punk and emo in a euphoric manner. This release may be brief in running time but it gives each band a moment to shine. Screamo and punk is all about collaboration and this is another positive example. if you like what you hear, all five bands are well established now and have longer releases that you can track down. 

You can stream and purchase it as a name-your-price-download below:-

Thisismenotthinkingofyou Facebook -
Yotsuya Kaidan Facebook -
Healing Powers Facebook -
I Hate Sex Facebook -
Ghostlate Tumblr -

Pettersson/Det är Därför vi Bygger Städer - Split 7"


1. Pettersson - Sensory Deprivation > Motion Sickness
2. Det är Därför vi Bygger Städer - Reverse Polarity

The third and final review of this piece features the recent split by Austria's Pettersson and Sweden's Det är Därför vi Bygger Städer, who've both appeared here before. You can read my previous reviews of "Rift And Seam" (Pettersson) and the split with Coma Regalia (Det är Därför vi Bygger Städer) by clicking on the links above. This 7" was another collaborative effort between several labels (they're all listed below) and once again shows that European screamo is growing all the time. 

Pettersson captivated me on “Rift And Seam” and on hearing Sensory Deprivation > Motion Sickness the feeling is no different. There’s still the indie influence in their, as well as cinematic atmosphere. They do well to not sound too aggressive even with the harsh vocals. The drawn out ending that gradually gets quieter is strangely effective as well. Det är Därför vi Bygger Städer’s Reverse Polarity takes a more angular approach, sometimes being off-kilter but still melodic. It’s got a bit more impact as well and their songwriting shows that sometimes productivity can be good for a band. Both bands are definitely on top of their game and while this split may be short, they make the most of what they’ve got. There you have it, short but very sweet.

You can stream the split via Form und Leere below:-

Pettersson Facebook -
Det är Därför vi Bygger Städer Facebook -

You can purchase all of the above records (and more) from Rubaiyat Records here - and you can keep up to date with label happenings here -

In the interests of promotion I've listed the social media pages of all of the labels that Rubaiyat Records collaborated with on these records below:-

I.Corrupt Records -
Ruined Smile Records -
Dingleberry Records And Distribution -
Upwind Produzioni -
Don't Care Records -
Samegrey Records -
Koepfen Records -
Through Love Records -
My Name Is Jonas -
Pundonor Records -
Hardcore For The Losers -
Krimskramz -
Zilpzalp Records -
Time As A Color -