Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Deus Vermin - MMXVII Demo


1. Disdain
2. Iniquity

That's one of the darkest pieces of cover-art I've seen. It's the cover of the first EP from new Leeds black/death band Deus Vermin. The Leeds-based quintet released this demo in November and it was recorded, mixed and mastered by Tom Wright (Hundred Year Old Man), whom Deus Vermin played alongside in September with Underdark & Archelon. They've already lined up a set alongside the mighty Cannabis Corpse in Leeds in April 2018, so now's a good time to immerse yourselves in their bleak noise. 

Deus Vermin’s blackened death metal is suspended in an angular, metallic netherworld. Their demo’s opener Disdain is a cacophony of dissonant riffs, blasts and torturous screams. The bass and drums maintain a downbeat atmosphere, with hissing feedback at it’s heart while TW’s recording, mixing and mastering efforts magnify the misery. The quintet launches into Iniquity with all the energy and urgency of  grind band, but instead replacing slams with col and black icicles that lead straight to the deep-dark centre of the mind. The pace slows towards the end with doom-like textures that draw things to a close. 

As the extreme metal sub-genre continually tries to reinvent itself, you mustn’t forget that it cyclical nature will always prevail. Deus Vermin’s members may well be more than familiar with each other, but the furrow they’re ploughing leads to somewhere sinister and unrecognisable and it’s all the better for it. 

You can stream and download "MMXVII" below (tape copies are now sold out):-

Here's the event page for the Cannabis Corpse gig in April, where Deus Vermin will be playing along with direct support Deathrite and a host of other local noise makers - https://www.facebook.com/events

Monday, 20 November 2017

Cantilever - The Fall:The Rise EP


1. The Fall The Rise
2. Runaway
3. Enigmas
4. Death Of Steve
5. Fallen Empire

When I sat down to start this review, I came over a bit mushy because even after 7 years of writing the blog, I'm still in awe of the fact that bands take the time to write to me and allow me to listen to their music, music that's often very personal to them. Malaysian post-hardcore band Cantilever did just that recently but as well as sharing their music with me, they also wanted to get their music out to people from outside of Malaysia and help with distribution.  "The Fall:The Rise" is their debut EP and was released in August by the band (digitally and on cdr), while Isu Records and Utarid Tapes issued a cassette version. Malaysia's metal/punk music scene is relatively young still but as you'll see and indeed hear, influences that shaped our scenes in the UK/Europe/US are doing the same there.

When I first heard “The Fall:The Rise”, two bands came to mind. Both were seen as innovators within post-hardcore and their influence has spread far and wide since. I’m talking about At The Drive-In and Refused. The EP opener, also the title-track, is a short attack on the senses. Runaway is off-kilter and catchy in the right way. The treble-led guitar takes the lead, while the rhythm section is restrained. There’s mellower instrumental moments and times when the vocals are more isolated as well. They let loose on Enigmas, which is immediately more violent in approach. Loads of hardcore and emo-violence textures. It’s a song that underlines their skill as musicians. 

The bizarrely named Death Of Steve has a jarring intro leading into a song full of urgency and rage. Once again focusing more on hardcore than it’s softer cousin. Closing song Fallen Empire starts with a excerpt from the movie 300 and it’s post-hardcore will send chills down your spine. It sums up my opening lines of this review where I talked about At The Drive-In and Refused but it also reinforces just how good Cantilever is. This band is super exciting so please make sure you check them out.

Stream "The Fall:The Rise" and buy it digitally, on cdr and tape below:-

If you can help the band out with distribution of their EP in Europe, US etc then please contact them via Facebook below.

Cantilever - https://www.facebook.com/cantilevertheband/
Isu Records - https://www.facebook.com/isurecords/
Utarid Tapes - https://www.facebook.com/utaridtapes/

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Tombstalker - Chaotic Devotion 7"


1. Scared To Death
2. Treads Of War

Time is flying at the moment and I still have countless amounts of music from this year to write about. Things are a little slow on that front at the current time but that will pick up, starting next week as I'm off and am gonna get my affairs in order! To help me get motivated I thought I'd turn to some good ol' American death metal in the form of Kentucky trio Tombstalker. Their latest 7" "Chaotic Devotion" was released in September via Boris Records. It follows various demos, split, an EP and their 2015 full-length "Black Crusades". 

Tombstalker follows an old-school path with their sound, but one that’s as up-tempo as genre forefathers like Entombed and Sepultura. Scared To Death rips through just over three-minutes of whirlwind-inducing riffs, pummelling blasts and unholy growls. The trio of Conqueror Horus (vocals, guitar), Defiler (bass) and Basilisk (drums) make light work or whipping up a storm that’s hard to escape from. 

Treads Of War is a mid-tempo beast, at least to begin with. The wall of sound is thick and the music itself is technical in the right way. There are hints of both thrash and black metal throughout both songs; however, Tombstalker maintains a steely poise that revolves around death. The dual-high/low growls mid-way through are blood-curdling while the lead work that follows is a pleasure to hear. 

The artwork of Mark Richards (Heavy Hand Illustration) exemplifies the music on the EP itself and the production/mastering makes it sound suitably hellish too. This is perfectly executed. All hail Tombstalker! 

You can stream "Chaotic Devotion" and purchase it digitally/physically from Tombstalker below:-

It's available from Boris Records here - http://boris-records.com

Monday, 13 November 2017

Khandra - All Is Of No Avail EP


1. Where Death Has Settled In Life
2. Presence Is No Longer Relevant

Khandra is a band I think I'm going to enjoy. The Belarusian black metal duo has seemingly sprung out of nowhere and self-released their debut EP "All Is Of No Avail" in October. The cover art is simple yet striking while if you put both song-titled next to each, they'd form a pretty harrowing sentence of their own. It's no surprise then that shortly after the original release, US label Redefining Darkness Records saw fit to put out cd version (now sold out). There will soon be a tape version released via Norway's Gravplass Propaganda.

This is extremely solid melodic yet vicious black metal. Where Death Has Settled In Life is all-encompassing with metallic riffs taking centre stage alongside relentless percussion blasts. The vocals are low growls and they’re used sparingly, as Khandra lets their orchestration take centre stage on “All Is Of No Avail”. The layers of guitar at the start of Presence Is No Longer Relevant make it sound like there’s a choir in the background of the recording, but there isn’t. It’s just the harmonies overlaying each other. The song itself is paced slightly slower at times but is no less theatrical. The use of repetition is good as well, as Khandra relies on the more traditional verse/chorus/verse-type structure. 

The production and mastering pushes the release up another level as well, which is really impressive for a band that seems so new. The two fairly lengthy songs on show here will leave you content on the one hand but also impatient for a longer release from the band. “All Is Of No Avail” could well be a late candidate for both extreme metal’s “Best Newcomer’ and “Best EP” of this year. 

You can stream "All Is Of No Avail" and buy it both digitally and as a digipack cd directly from Khandra below:-

Khandra - https://www.facebook.com/khandrablack/

Redefining Darkness Records - https://www.facebook.com/redefiningdarkness/
Gravplass Propaganda - https://www.facebook.com/gravplass/

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Cell - Demo 7"


1. Contempt
2. Scowl/Vermin
3. Memory/Half Truth

Montreal's Cell are a fairly new hardcore-punk band that features members of Vile Intent, Remwar, Terse and Sek. Their five-track demo has been released on 7" vinyl by Drunken Sailor Records and is the band's first release. Proper hardcore from a band that prefers to take the old-school less is more approach. I need something to chase away this hangover!

I once went to a gig in Leeds and one of the support bands was a crust band from Bradford that used a lot of reverb in the vocals. When they started playing, a guy in front of me turned round and pulled a face as if to say “what is this?” and then walked to the back of the venue to continue talking to his mates. I like reverb and punk, of which there is plenty of both in Cell’s music. 7” opener Contempt is full of heavy riffs and two-step attitude, but the vocals are something else. Angry but not in the knuckle-head sense and the drumming, while deep in the mix is equally as powerful. 

Scowl/Vermin are played back-to-back on the 7”, as are Memory/Half Truth, probably because of the limitations of the format. They are seriously intense and Cell blast through them with feedback bridging the gap between the songs. It keeps momentum high and necks sore. The lead work shows a bit of metal influence hiding amongst the songs and the end of Half Truth is savage at the breakdown. This is no-frills classy hardcore punk with no pretence. Awesome stuff.

You can stream and grab the EP physically/digitally from Cell directly here:-

If you're in the UK you can get it from Drunken Sailor Records here - http://www.drunkensailorrecords.co.uk/products/594233-cell-demo-7-ep-drunken-sailor-records-drunkensailor-073

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Threat Signal - Disconnect


1. Elimination Process
2. Nostalgia
3. Walking Alone
4. Exit The Matrix
5. Falling Apart
6. Aura
7. Betrayal
8. To Thine One Self Be True
9. Dimensions
10. Terminal Madness

It's in moments like these that you realise how quickly time flies. I first heard Canadian metal band Threat Signal on the release of their 2006 full-length "Under Reprisal". Eleven years and various line-up changes later, they're back with a new album that follows on from their self-titled record in 2011. Having previously worked with Nuclear Blast they're now a part of the enviable Agonia Records stable, alongside the likes of In Mourning, Glorior Belli and Aborym amongst others. "Disconnect" is available digitally, on cd and on colour-in-colour vinyl. 

I was a tad excited when I saw this drop into my inbox, especially after so many years of loosing track of Threat Signal. Their sound has changed from Under Reprisal, but that’s no surprise given the line-up changes they’ve had to deal with. Opener Elimination Process covers all bases including melodic metal, thrash and off-kilter progressive metal (I’m avoiding using “that” sub-genre tag). Given the influences listed on the band’s social media page, you won’t be surprised by the content on here. It’s good to hear though that they’ve retained the melody that made earlier albums commercially successful, Nostalgia is an apt song to demonstrate that point, especially when the anthemic lead guitar kicks in towards the end. 

At time Threat Signal comes across more like a European band, especially in the structure and delivery of their songs. Walking Alone features plenty of melodic thrash influence throughout and with the help of the clear and modern production job, is very appealing. They move in a heavier direction on Exit The Matrix, which is made up of with metalcore’s traditional harsh verses and clean choruses. Threat signal doesn’t necessarily push the boundaries of heaviness, yet they play what’s natural to them and it works. Their crossover appeal is once again obvious on Falling Apart, which signals the mid-point of “Disconnect” and lengthier songs to come. Intriguing! 

The second half of the album is where Threat Signal”s progression bares more teeth. Aura contains subtle Eastern-melodies early on, moments of full-throttle thrash and time signatures that aren’t as easily obvious. Add to that some introspective passages of instrumentation and there’s a lot more to their music than you think. It’s definitely one of the strongest songs on the album so far. They follow it with a soothing piece called Betrayal with light guitar and more clean vocals, that’s as relaxing as it sounds. Threat Signal seems to have waited until the second half of the record to really open up their musical taps, as without being disrespectful to the band the first half wasn’t as exciting. There’s more guitar virtuosity on To Thine Own Self Be True, as well as extra musical layers that’ll sound great live. 

Dimensions follows with another blast of the band’s catchy thrash-tinged metal, but it’s all just a build up to the ten-minute monolith that’s album closer Terminal Madness. I was pretty eager to hear how Threat Signal would fare on a song of this length and can say that they’ve managed to create a dramatic and dynamic song to end on. There’s plenty of technicality throughout “Disconnect” and while it’s nothing you haven’t heard before, if you’re looking for a metal album that’s consistently strong and a band that manages to deliver through adversity and uncertainty, look no further that this.

You can stream both album opener Elimination Process and Exit The Matrix via Agonia Records' bandcamp page below:-

"Disconnect" is available to buy on all formats above as well.

Threat Signal - https://www.facebook.com/threatsignal/
Agonia Records - https://www.facebook.com/agoniarecords/

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Mordskog - XIII


1. Lautum Novedialem
2. Nascentes Morimur
3. Aequo Pulsat Pede
4. Pulvis Et Umbra Sumus
5. Mors Est Vitae Essentia
6. Ad Me Venite Mortui
7. C.A.M.
8. Mors Vincit Omnia
9. Todos Ustedes Deben Morir Esta Noche 

I'm sitting here hoping that the Mexican black metal of Mordskog will warm me up this evening (even though they would probably prefer the world to freeze over!). "XIII" is the corpse-painted trio's first full-length and was released in January via Werewolf Records in unholy collaboration with Hells Headbangers, having first formed in 2003. They shared the stage in Mexico City with Satanic Warmaster in July. That should give you a clue as to the seriousness of their craft. 

“XIII” starts with Lautum Novedialem, which is a haunting opener with ninety-seconds of restrained spoken-word vocals. When Mordskog’s black metal takes over it’s both melodic and atmospheric. It’s not all fire and brimstone even if the vocals are extremely harsh at times. Their music takes on more of a mid-paced form on Nascentes Morimur. It follows an old-school path and due to that it’s also catchy in a subtle way. The volume isn’t as high on the recording as you might like but you can always turn it up, which is exactly what I’ve done and in doing so the swathes of melody from the guitars swirl around me during Aequo Pulsat Pede. Their accented English vocals give their music an extra edge too. 

Pulvis Et Umbra Sumus is really where they hit their stride, with plenty of double bass and doom-like instrumentation underneath the feedback. The choral chants break up the icy howls of Lugubrem Acerbus and there’s a nice metallic layer in the song. Mordskog don’t dare hang around on “XIII” and there’s no meandering filler. Mors Est Vitae Essentia is both symphonic and evil in equal measure, with ritualistic percussion. The album was recorded by Lugubrem Acerbus, Murmur (guitars, bass) and Occultus (drums). Their momentum as a trio is clear to see (and hear) on Ad Me Venite Mortui. At times it has the feel of a black n’ roll song, at least before Mordskog abandons the noise and settles into a short passage of more traditional guitar-work. 

C.A.M. is a different beast altogether, as the black metal screams are replaced by semi-operatic clean singing  and while I’m not usually a big fan of that particular vocal style, it’s a good trade off actually. Mors Vincit Omnia elevate their songwriting and musicianship to a great level, one which shows off more of their anthemic black metal. Album closer Todos Ustedes Deben Morir Esta Noche builds with unnerving ambience and screams that slowly increase in volume. It’s a hauntingly apt way to end “XIII”. Mordskog’s place within the current black metal climate is a strange one. On the one hand they’re maddening and evil, yet on the other they’re strangely upbeat and melodic. Mind you, who really cares about trends and all that bollocks. If it’s good it’s good and Mordskog are certainly that. 

You can stream and purchase "XIII" on cd and digitally via Werewolf Records below:-

Mordskog - https://www.facebook.com/mordskog/
Werewolf Records - https://www.facebook.com/werewolf.rex/

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Goblin King Interview

(Photo Credit: Dave Harris - Strike Imaging)

A few weeks ago now I reviewed the latest EP from London death n' roll quartet Goblin King. Shortly after that review, I fired an e-mail interview over to the band asking them about their EP "Blood, Drugs & Death N' Roll", their live show and the London scene that they call home. Check it out below...

How did Goblin King form? Were any of you in bands previously?

Paul Williamson (Vocals) - The actual meaning behind Goblin King is really just a metaphor for depression, similar to how ‘the black dog’ is used. It resembles the thoughts, feelings, and actions that I have gone through during some of the worst years of my life. I used to hate myself and as a result I acted out on this hate and became the Goblin King.

We’re all from various bands although none worth mentioning aside from Jester (aka. Riccardo) who is in an amazing band called Slave Steel.

It didn’t take you long to release your debut EP after forming the band. Was it always your plan to strike fast with “Blood, Drugs, Death N’ Roll”? What are the songs about?

PW - Would you believe we have a 10 track album ready to record already as well? There is a euphoric high from creating a song that is very addictive, more so than some drugs. The EP is a reflection on my early 20’s and is an introduction to the Goblin King character.

BDDNR – It’s a rant about two things that caught my eye on a journey to work. 1) The ridiculous bio text on a page 3 in The Sun next to a model. 2) An annoying person with a megaphone outside of Stratford station shouting that we’re all going to hell.

Goblin King – Drug addiction to keep myself numb and run away from my depression. Becoming the Goblin King instead.

667 – Your body is a temple, so be sure to desecrate it. It’s a journey about sex and drugs using biblical metaphors. Everyone is out to use you until they deem you useless. 

EOTS – These are my thoughts on humanity. 

Death Sti-XXX – This song should be ridiculed and laughed at. It’s about dealing drugs in clubs.

You take influence from a high-octane list of bands that mix punk with metal. What bands did you all grow up listening to? How long was it before you got into heavier music?

PW - For me personally, I started listening to metal around the age of 11 or so. Started off with Linkin Park, Papa Roach, and then I got my hands on Slipknot's "IOWA" and fell in love. I had that album as my alarm clock for school for years. My tastes took a more punk route as I grew older due to some bands I used to go to school with. 

What can people expect from a Goblin King live show? Feel free to plug any gigs/tours you’ve got coming up too!

PW - We have had people come up to us saying that the performance is quite intimidating to watch. I mean we have Beast wearing an executioner’s hood! We try to give it as much energy that we don’t have. 
No shows coming up currently since we’re focusing on this album. We are in talks however with Arno from F.O.A.D / ex-Generation Graveyard regarding a couple of shows.

Being from London, there are a lot of bands competing for the same audiences. What do you think of the live music scene there at the present time? What bands stick out for you that people should hear?

PW - You know I actually work at The Lounge 666 in Archway so I get to see a lot of the bands. I think getting that initial following has always been the big challenge for bands. It’s unfortunate how there are many people who do go out to events but only club nights and recorded music. 

Currently I’m looking forward to seeing Twelve Boar and King Parrot. Meinhof were awesome to see at the Unicorn recently as well as Stereo Juggernaut at the Lounge. Then my guilty pleasures list of sleaze/hard rock bands like ToxicRose, H.E.A.T, etc.

What have been your best and worst experiences playing live?

PW - Playing a gig in Birmingham with a previous band and ending up having diarrhoea on the day. Had to take a bunch of Imodium tablets and was pale as fuck.

Best experiences would probably be the first ever gig I played in a town function room. All teen bands were banned from playing there ever again owing to the roof tiles being ripped down, smoking inside, the bowling green was trampled on, etc.

Finally, what advice would you give to other bands following your experiences so far, whether it be writing/recording, band promotion or arranging/playing gigs?

PW - Have fun, be perceptive, be empathetic, and be ready to learn.

You can stream and purchase "Blood, Drugs & Death N' Roll" via Goblin King's bandcamp page below:-

You can read my review here (if you haven't already done so):-http://www.thisnoiseisours.com/2017/08/goblin-king-blood-drugs-and-death-n.html

I just want to say thank you to Paul for taking the time to respond to my questions.