Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Under A Sky So Blue - The Spectacle Provides


Tracklist:

1. Don't Die Wondering
2. The Poverty Of Modern Life
3. Remember
4. Make A Spectacle
5. We Defy

Tonight I turn to Athens, GA (USA) three-piece Under A Sky So Blue, who released this EP on tape featuring five chaotic screamo songs in February. It's not the band's first release though, as they released a split 7" with Celebration in late 2014/early 2015 (I think) and followed it with a demo tape at the end of 2015, which features the last two tracks on this EP. It was released by no less than 5 DIY labels. Under A Sky So Blue has a real social conscience and the band exists to extend the message of it's members. 

This is violent screamo with a hint of hardcore/metalcore. The riffs at the beginning of EP opener Don’t Die Wondering are heavy and remain so throughout, as the dual-screamed vocals cry out over the instrumentation. After the moody atmosphere of the opener, The Poverty Of Modern Life festers in discordance, with a more urgent pace. There’s a lot more to Under The Sky So Blue than just screamo. The furious high-pitched barks of Remember bring a more blackened feel to the EP, while the band’s ability to switch from violent to introspective in the mid-section is great. You’re never too far away from violence though, which is no surprise when you consider that this trio are angry and are crying out for change. 

Make A Spectacle feels like a restrained powerviolence song but with no less noise. The chuggy riffs sound almost sludgy at times. Closing song We Defy is crazier still with a constant wall of fuzz and feedback in the mix. The screams are another constant, leaving a sickly feeling in the put of your stomach. It’s often hard to spot the beauty in brutality, especially when there’s no disposition towards violence. Music is healthy way to exhibit such aggression and Under A Sky So Blue has harnessed it in the best way possible. Caustic but cleansing.

You can stream the EP and grab in on tape or as a name-your-price download below:-



Under A Sky So Blue - https://www.facebook.com/underaskysoblue/

It's also still available from the labels below:-

Zegema Beach Records - http://www.zegemabeachrecords.com/zegema-beach-releases/ (ZBR is the only label I can find with the tape for sale at this moment).

Zegema Beach Records - https://www.facebook.com/zegemabeachrecords/
Dingleberry Records And Distribution - https://www.facebook.com/Dingleberry-records-and-distribution
Murder On Ponce - https://www.facebook.com/moptapes/
Star Rats Records - https://www.facebook.com/starratsrecs/

Monday, 18 September 2017

Fides Inversa - Rite Of Inverse Incarnation MLP


Tracklist:

1. First Congress
2. Rite Of Inverse Incarnation

The nights are drawing in now and it always feels worse on a Monday night, probably due to the stresses and strains of the start of a working week. That's why black metal seems like the only way to find solace this evening. This the latest EP from Italian satanic duo Fides Inversa. It was released by World Terror Committee Productions in January on CD, later followed in March by a single-sided LP pressing. Having released two previous full-lengths since the band's inception in 2006, Fides Inversa (made up of Omega A.D. on drums/vocals and Void A.D. on guitar/bass, though joined here by Wraath providing vocals and Unhold on bass) are starting to unfurl their hatred on the wider human race, with 2018 already due to feature a live appearance at North Of The Wall on our very shores. Prepare to lose faith.

The occult chanting and tortured cries that usher in First Congress paint a grim picture. Baring similarities to the UK’s Akercocke, Fides Inversa uses flowing and melodic guitars and mid-paced percussion to build a sound that’s initially at odds with their satanic billing. When they hit full stride during the second-third of the song, it all becomes clear. They are more orthodox in approach than many of the Italian black metal band’s that have crossed my path of late, without the obvious progressive elements of their fellow compatriots though they are impressive musically and very listenable. 

The title-track that completes this release shows how effective Fides Inversa’s more expansive song-writing is, as like First Congress it stretches towards the ten-minute mark and retains a steely momentum as it goes. it is good to hear a band of their ilk ignoring the kvlt production values of their peers in favour of a clearer sound. It makes their songs standout and actually sound more barbaric as a result. This is one of those records where two tracks simply isn’t enough. While Fides Inversa may not be looking for praise, they are deserving of it. “Rite Of Inverse Incarnation” is a teasingly good record.

You can stream and purchase the record digitally below:-



Physical cd and vinyl copies can be purchased here - http://store.w-t-c.web-republic.de

Fides Inversa - https://www.facebook.com/fidesinversa/
World Terror Committee Productions - https://www.facebook.com/W.T.C.Productions/

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Integrity - Howling, For The Nightmare Shall Consume


Tracklist:

1. Fallen To Destroy
2. Blood Sermon
3. Hymn For The Children Of The Black Flame
4. I Am The Spell
5. Die With Your Boots On
6. Serpent Of The Crossroads
7. Unholy Salvation Of Sabbatai Zevi
8. 7 Reece Mews
9. Burning Beneath The Devils Cross
10. String Up My Teeth
11. Howling, For The Nightmare Shall Consume
12. Viselle De Drac (Bonus Track)
13. Entartete Kunst (Bonus Track)

14. Deathly Fighter (Bonus Track)

It's fair to say that Integrity is one band that has always remained a bit of an enigma, at least to me anyway. From their earlier hardcore/metalcore days through to the band's more recent experimental efforts and various line-ups, Integrity has constantly refreshed and reshaped their blueprint. With the release of their ninth full-length via Relapse and renewed line-up, the band seems more approachable (in terms of fan interaction) than ever before. Howling, For The Nightmare Shall Consume was released on tape, cd and vinyl in July (the latter two formats including three bonus tracks). In December Integrity will be headlining CTW Fest VIII: Judgement Day alongside 108 and a whole host of others, in recognition of UK hardcore label Carry The Weight Records as it is put to rest. Both the poster and the full review are below...


After spending a lot of time listening to previous record “Suicide Black Snake”, it was unclear what any follow-up album was going to be like but Howling… bursts into life with opener Fallen To Destroy and it’s mix of screaming guitar and Dwid’s deep roars. It acts as a precursor to Blood Sermon, which has just a small hint of blackness to it! I’m careful at this point not to pigeonhole it, though there’s plenty of rock ’n roll sensibilities beyond the extremities. There’s definitely no time for hanging about as Hymn For The Children Of The Black Flame brims with thrash and blasts. 

The thicker riffs of I Am The Spell reveal why it was chosen as one of the lead-out songs prior to the album’s release. It’s urgency and power is clear for all to witness. The traditional heavy metal influence rears it’s head again on Die With Your Boots On, twin harmonies and all. The first five tracks are all high-energy numbers, so when Serpent Of The Crossroads begins with a pensive and brooding intro, the direction of travel isn’t clear. What you get is a slow-burning classic with a menacing Southern-drawl and a hardcore backbone. That doesn’t even come close to aptly describing it either! 

The organ that opens Unholy Salvation Of Sabbatai Zevi is perfectly placed as it sends shivers down your spine. This marks the nearing of the mid-point in the record (if you include the bonus tracks) and if you’re fully invested in it then it also marks the point at which your psyche becomes twisted and torn. It’s a crawling piece that conjures up images of demons and the undead, depending on your mindset. 7 Reece Mews is gentler with whispered verses and more stripped back instrumentation, though it does build in volume before the choruses so as not to allow you to drift off at all, which you shouldn’t be doing anyway. The melody from the guitar is starkly beautiful too during the mid-section. 

The bouncing punk rhythms that kick off Burning Beneath The Devils Cross are a shock to the senses, but soon get the blood pumping as Integrity hit their stride. The wall of noise is as exhilarating as it is serious. The momentum from the previous song carries on into String Up My Teeth, with the clean vocals of Monique Harcum and Deacon Douglas Williams ringing out. The title-track brings the mood back down and actually retains a lot of what made “Suicide Black Snake” so unnerving. 

The trio of bonus tracks begin with the acoustic Viselle De Drac, with it’s folk instrumentation and softly spoken lyrics. It’s followed by the quick-fire penultimate track Entartete Kunst, which is sixty seconds of intense feedback-ridden noise. The addition of “Decibel Flexi” track Deathly Fighter at the end is a nice touch and the cover shows off their heavy metal hooks once more. For a band with the history of Integrity, to still be putting out albums of this quality is to be admired and should act as an example of “how to do it” for those less established or just starting out. A furious ride with plenty of variation and excellent song-writing. 

You can stream, download and purchase the remaining vinyl copies/merch below:-



Integrity - https://www.facebook.com/INTEGRITY.HT/
Relapse Records - https://www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords/

The event page for CTW Fest VIII: Judgement Day - https://www.facebook.com/events

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Noothgrush/Corrupted - Split (20th Anniversary re-release)


Tracklist:

1. Noothgrush - Hatred For The Species
2. Noothgrush - Draize
3. Corrupted - Inactive

I went away last week and spent it without my laptop, forcing myself to take time away from the blog  in order to rest. That rest has done me good and while spending over eight hours in the back of a car  travelling home yesterday, I couldn't wait to get writing again. I have a lot to catch up on but as this is my main motivation and passion,  I wanted to make sure I hit the ground running. I'm not starting with a new release today or a new band, in fact this is a reissue of a split that was release 20 years ago. 20 Buck Spin has seen fit to re-issue the seminal doom/sludge split between California's Noothgrush and Japanese act Corrupted. Originally released on both 12" and CD via Reservoir Records in 2007, it's been remastered by Brad Boatright (Audiosiege) and repressed again on 12" vinyl. This version features the three vinyl-only songs from the original release and has new artwork courtesy of Hal Rotter. The 35 minutes to follow will surely be achingly bleak and harrowing if that cover art is anything to go by.

Doom/Sludge has always been a go-to genre of extreme music in recent years for me. The sheer heaviness and extremity of it, coupled with the slower tempos has drawn me in on many a booze-fuelled evening and getting to listen to this re-mastered split reminds me of why. Noothgrush opens it with Hatred For The Species, which is a groove-laden and riff drenched doom song that belies their Californian roots. Thick bass, prominent percussion and tortured vocals are given a boost by the mastering and lead into Draize, with it’s peculiar sample. After the build-up of feedback Noothgrush let rip again. Their sound is hypnotic but there’s also a deceptive momentum to it. The minimalistic guitar section at four-minutes brings forth the quality of the percussion when it joins the fray. This was one of Noothgrush’s early splits but it highlights the difference between them and many of those who followed in their lumbering, heavy footsteps. Pure filthy class with an instrumental quality that's held them in high regard ever since. Japanese music and the bands that have produced it has been another fascination for me and alongside the likes of Boris and Envy, Corrupted sit. While stylistically different to both the former, they’re considered equally important. Their sole-contribution Inactive is lo-fi but somewhat more grim than those of Noothgrush. Droning and darker, it’s far from an easy listen. The guitar is more prominent and the vocals deeper. As the song lurches to it’s end, it becomes more engaging, which is an endearing part of Corrupted’s own sound. Over the years they’ve been able to craft a revered following themselves by building a seemingly bleak noise into something more encompassing. Both Noothgrush and Corrupted have been important in the crafting of today’s musical landscape and on the 20th anniversary of their recorded union they’re equally as relevant.

You can stream, download and pre-order the split (on black, grey or and clear w/black smoke vinyl) via 20 Buck Spin's bandcamp page below:-



Noothgrush - https://www.facebook.com/noothgrushband/
Corrupted - https://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Corrupted
20 Buck Spin - https://www.facebook.com/20buckspin

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Viral Graphics: Tour/Gig Poster Essay

A little while ago now, I did a small interview with Greek artists Viral Graphics about the cover art they helped to design for Dephosphorus and their latest record "Impossible Orbits". At the same time I asked them if I could do a feature on some of their tour and gig poster designs, to which they said yes. So here's a little photo essay containing some of the posters they've designed over the last two  years for some great acts...

Nekrofilth - Japan 2017


Bolzer - Athens 2017


Swans - Athens 2017


Archgoat - Athens 2016


Suzuki Junzo/Takahashi Ikuro - Western Japan 2016


Inquisition - Athens 2016


Oranssi Pazuzu/Hexvessel - Athens 2016


Youth Code/Venerence - Athens 2016


King Dude - Athens 2016


Nadja - Athens 2016


Lords Of The Void II: Mortuary Drape - Athens 2016


Lords Of The Void I: Saturnalia Temple - Athens 2016


You can buy art prints direct from Viral Graphics here - http://viralgraphics.tictail.com/products and you can get in touch with them about commissions here - https://www.facebook.com/ViralGraphics/.

Ensslin - Thumbsucker


Tracklist:

1. Humiliation
2. Realm Of Fancy
3. Intimacy
4. Lotus-Eater
5. Not Your Reflection

Here's a band that I got really enthused about when I first heard them. Russian band Ensslin has released this EP and it's due for a physical very soon via a quintet of labels. Ensslin is a emo quintet that takes influence from older bands. The cover for "Thumbsucker' reminds me of those that adorned records by the likes of The Spirit Of Versailles etc. They released their first demo in 2015, which consisted of two tracks and they don't seem to have a social media presence beyond their bandcamp page.

Ensslin has crafted great indie/emo on “Thumbsucker”, with clean vocals that envelope you on EP opener Humiliation. It’s pop-like but it also features plenty of punk rhythms. They remind me of bands like Hopesfall and Time In Malta in places. Realm Of Fancy makes me ache for simpler times with it’s lo-fi yet glorious soundscapes, being both soothing and gentle. I think of Japanese emo when listening to Intimacy for some reason. I guess there’s a similarity between that country’s take on the genre and Ensslin’s sound here. The spoken-word approach on Lotus-Eater, which is backed up by minimalist percussion and guitar work sums up Ensslin for me. Listenable and easy-going seem to be apt descriptors. Closing song Not Your Reflection is almost operatic, but I sense that’s me being a bit pretentious and I don't want to write too much for partly that reason. This is just a lovely EP from a band operating under the radar of many. It’s special. 

You can stream and buy "Thumbsucker" here:-



Keep an eye out for news and order links from the labels involved below:-

strictly no capital letter (UK) - https://www.facebook.com/strictlynocapitalletters/
Rubaiyat Records (UK) - https://www.facebook.com/rubaiyatrecords/ (Note: Rubaiyat Records is closing so I'm not sure if the label will have copies)
Polar Summer (Rus) - https://vk.com/polarxsummer
Ruined Smile Records (Aus) - https://www.facebook.com/ruinedsmilerecords
Waterslide Records (Jap) - https://www.facebook.com/WaterslideRecords/