Wednesday 29 November 2017

Retrace My Fragments - Tidal Lock EP


1. Khlav Kalash
2. Le Bison De Hoggs
3. Laserbrain

I couldn't ignore a band who makes reference to The Simpsons in on of their song-titles! Khlav Kalash was the street-food that Homer Simpson eat when he went to retrieve his car from New York city (sorry, I'm a big fan of The Simpsons). Anyway, Retrace My Fragments are a progressive and experimental metal band from Luxembourg, who formed in 2006. Prior to the release of 2017's "Tidal Lock", the band released two EPs and an album called "Ethereal Flux", in 2014. "Tidal Lock" has been digitally self-released by the band, who've shared stages with the likes of Between The Buried And Me, Cephalic Carnage and Heaven Shall Burn amongst others. 

“Tidal Lock” begins with the song I mentioned at the top of the review. Khlav Kalash is a riff-heavy death metal song filled with experimental musicianship and modern metal touches. It’s fully instrumental, showing off the impressive range of the musicians involved. It’s bloody good. They don’t just do progressive well though, as they know their way around a solid metalcore/thrash attack. 

There are elements of both of those sub-genres on Le Bison De Hoggs, which is more urgent than the EPs opener but even more infectious for it. Closing with the aptly titled Laserbrain, Retrace My Fragments literally turns your brain to mush with some serious fretwork and frenetic pace. 

There’s no denying the musical quality displayed by this band, but they really need to release a proper long-player in my opinion, as this EP leaves you wanting more than just the three songs on offer here.. “Tidal Lock” is well worth a thorough listen if you’re into heavy but experimental music. 

You can stream "Tidal Lock" and grab it as a name-your-price-download here:-

Monday 27 November 2017

Fister/CHRCH - Split


1. CHRCH - Temples
2. Fister - The Ditch

Yes!!!! Despite having a last week off work, I already feel the need for more escapism. Thankfully there's a lot of music out there to help me do that. Tonight I've chosen the recent split record between Sacramento (California, US) doom/sludge band CHRCH and fellow trio Fister from St. Louis (Missouri, US), which was released by Crown And Throne Ltd and Battleground Records about two weeks ago. CHRCH began life in 2013 as Church, releasing their first full-length "Unanswered Hymns" in 2015. Fister has been kicking out the slow and heavy jams since 2009 and since then they've released three full-lengths and no less than six previous splits, amongst other things. This particular record clock in at nearly 40 minutes, so you know it's gonna be heavy!

In a year that’s already brought us so much, it just keeps on giving. This split may only feature two songs but they’re more than that. CHRCH’s song Temples begins with the most beautifully restful guitar melodies. Melodies that don’t give away the band’s heavy leanings, even when the tribal-like drumming kicks in. It’s a building piece that makes use of both relaxation and anticipation at the same time. That anticipation finally boils over around the four-minute mark when vocalist Eva Rose growls atop of the full instrumental powerhouse that makes up CHRCH. The rhythm section and low-end delivered by both Adam (drums) and Ben (bass) respectively, drags the band’s doom influences out of the trenches while Shann & Chris (guitars/vocals) provide a nice counterpoint between melody and dissonance. It really is beautiful in both it’s musicality and it’s misery. 

Fister on side two presents an entirely different mood with The Ditch. If you like Primitive Man and the like, then this band will definitely be for you (heck, they even did a split together not so long ago). The trio spews forth a song that ignores thoughtful and enticing build-ups and just goes straight for your jugular. Kenny Snarzyk’s vocals are bone rattling (as is his bass playing), while the additional vocals and guitar-work of Marcus Newstead (any relation to Jason Newstead?) add extra heft, all the while being pinned down by Kirk Gatterer’s uncompromising drum work. This is a harrowing and brow beating 20+ minutes of doom/sludge that goes beyond genre lines. The guitar solo/improv madness following the opening passages is intense and they even show a more sensitive, subtly-bluesy side too during the instrumental mid-section. The extended instrumental section and limited use of vocals making up the rest of the song reminds you that impact ins’t just oral. 

Both CHRCH and Fister provide musically interesting takes on the doom/sludge blueprint with plenty of true emotion and organic sound thanks to the recording/production work of both Pat Hill and Gabe Usery. The artwork that adorns the record is perfect, drawn by Ethan Lee McCarthy and laid-out by N. Constantino Design. This record is as satisfying as it is harrowing.

You can stream the split here:-

You can buy physical copies from the below links:-

Friday 24 November 2017

Recollection - Brandon (American Standards)

It's been a little while since I last posted one of these features. I put the word out last week to ask if people were interested in submitting their top-ten's and Brandon popped up. American Standards are still promoting the release of their latest album "Anti-Melody" and we've been speaking about a few bits & pieces, so don't expect this to be last post to feature Brandon or the band (spoiler alert!). For now though, I hope enjoy reading about the albums that have influenced him:-

Pantera - “Vulgar Display Of Power”
At this time in my life I was still heavily influenced by the musical tastes of my older brother. So while Beastie Boys And Rage Against The Machine were on constant rotation, Pantera was the band that first turned me on to more extreme metal.

Deftones - “Adrenaline” 
There was no escaping Nu Metal if you grew up in the 90s and early 2000s. It was the counter culture that somehow seeped its way into the mainstream and Deftones were possibly my first exposure to it. When getting into actually playing music, Adrenaline made me realize that you didn’t have to shred like Dimebag on guitar to write a good song.

System Of A Down - “Self-Titled”
Worm-holing deeper into Nu Metal, System Of A Down were possibly one of my favorite bands of that time. They made me realize that heavy music could still be fun and have an impactful message.

MewithoutYou - “A->B Life”
Much like Deftones did for guitar, MewithoutYou made me realize that a frontman could really carve out his own unique style in the scene. Both lyrically and in the delivery, MewithoutYou became a band that I felt always stood out on any show line up but was still respected by all.

Refused - “The Shape Of Punk To Come”
Refused is the band that planted the seeds for what was to become American Standards. They unabashedly made their message the forefront of the band and did so while taking chances musically by blending many elements. 

Alexisonfire - “Self-Titled”
I was a huge fan of Saetia, Orchid and Pg. 99, so naturally the “Self-Titled” Alexisonfire album felt like it carried that torch through the early 2000s. The album was raw, underproduced and wore it’s heart on its sleeve.

Poison The Well - “The Opposite Of December”
This was another album that was very emotionally driven. I think the dichotomy between the lyrics and music really struck a chord for me. I also had a PTW shirt that I probably wore 4 out of 5 days a week in high school.

Every Time I Die - “Hot Damn
I was a huge fan of lyrical content and hammer on riffs so naturally after hearing Hot Damn, Every Time I Die quickly become one of my favorite bands. The spastic song structures and tongue in cheek delivery were a big influence on American Standards. It was also that absence of the tough guy mentalities commonly seen in heavy music that won me over.

Norma Jean - “Bless The Martyr And Kiss The Child” 
Heavily distorted vocals and a sound that came  synonymous with diminished guitar chords; what more could you want? It was an added bonus that Aaron Weiss from MewithoutYou was also featured on this album.

Gallows - “Grey Britain”
“Grey Britain” by Gallows made me remember what I loved about Refused. It had the same urgency while also having a sharp pop sensibility for such a heavy album.

Amercian Standards' new album "Anti-Melody" is available now and you can buy it digitally and on cd via their bandcamp page below:-

I will have a review up next week, which will also include an interview, so keep checking back. Brandon has also sent me an end-of-year list, which I'll posting up in a couple of weeks time. Thanks once again to Brandon for taking the time to send this list in.

.Gif From God/Vein - A Release Of Excess Flesh Split


1. .Gif From God - Why I Died Wide Eyed
2. .Gif From God - Like A Splinter In Yr Mind
3. Vein - A Crumpled Memo
4. Vein - Progenitor
5. Vein - Ideation: Self-Destruct
6. Vein - While You Weren't Caring

I'm starting early today in a bid to maintain the momentum I've gained so far this week. It's been a blast so far and I've really enjoyed not having to get up and go to work this week. David from Zegema Beach Records gave me a heads up about this split and a couple of other releases he's helped out with recently. This one instantly piqued my interest because of the chaotic nature of both bands. .Gif From God is a dissonant mathcore band from Richmond (Virginia) and Vein is a hardcore band from Boston (Massachusetts). This split was released January by five labels, in collaboration.

Gif From God being their side of this split with the terrifically titled Why I Die Wide Eyed. It’s builds up with jarring feedback before the quintet launches a crazed mix of emo-violence and mathcore. It’s brash, loud and chaotic. The breakdown at the end is straight out of the Myspace-era too. Their second song Like A Splinter In Yr Mind might initially sound more restrained but it’s anything but. Even more off-kilter and eclectic, it makes use heavy passages and electronic-infused sections that lead into harrowing end. 

Vein delivers four songs in as many minutes. A Crumpled Memo sets the tone via a barrage of riffs and a grinding tempo. There’s no escape anywhere on this split and even with the relative respite of the sample at the start of Progenitor, it’s not long before your ear-drums are being torn out again. Ideation: Self-Destruct threatens to do just that! The space-age guitar effects and low-end make this a great listen. They end with While Your Weren’t Caring, with it’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it nature. Both Gif From God and Vein put an awful lot into their relatively brief cameos on this split. Musically it’s harsh but there’s plenty to get your lugs around. 

A chasm sized hole was left when TDEP announced they were calling it a day but thankfully a whole raft of bands have emerged to fill it. You have two right here. Techy/mathy hardcore is going to be fine.

You can stream the split and buy it as a name-your-price-download below:-

Physical copies can be purchased from the participating labels below:-

Also, if you could visit the below post and let me know your thoughts, it'd be very much appreciated -

Future Promotion: E-mail Newsletter

I would like your opinions and feedback on a new promotional tool that I am thinking of harnessing, not just to promote my blog and it's posts but also to help further promote bands and labels etc.

I want to start an e-mail newsletter that will include recent posts and will also provide bands, labels, gig promoters with a way of reaching a wider audience. I want to make it worthwhile by offering subscribers a little extra in the form of discounts on merch & records, competitions etc. 

Please would you comment on this post or on my social media pages if A) you're a reader B) if you're a band, label or promoter etc. I want to understand people's thoughts and opinions before I take this to the next stage. Thank you.

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Until The Sky Dies - The Year Zero Blueprint


1. I
2. II
3. III
4. IV
5. V
7. VII

Hats off to Cimmerian Shade Recordings on this one. The label has managed to release a record by a band that I can't seem to find any information about. Maybe that was the whole idea but I'm not complaining, I'll just let the music do the talking, Anyway, this is the debut full-length from doom duo Until The Sky Dies and it was released at the end of October. The band is made up of prolific musician Clint Listing (Grizzle, Long Winters Stare, etc)  and Ryan Michalski (Cosmic Punch) the latter recording and engineering the record. It was mixed and mastered by J. Stillings (Steel Hook Prostheses, etc). As always I've kept a wide birth from other publications, as I didn't want them to influence my review.

I find the genre descriptor of “doom” to be pretty primitive in the case of Until The Sky Dies. For example, opening song I is a bizarre mix of psych/desert-rock instrumentation, low growls and clean singing that could be mistaken for that of Matt Bellamy (Muse). That may be way off the mark but I calls it as I hear’s it. I do like the fact that Until The Sky Dies uses just Roman numerals as song-titles, as it leaves more to the imagination when you’re listening to the songs. 

The nursery rhyme-esque synths at the start of II are completely at odds with the extremity that follows soon-after but from a band described as avant-garde by some, what else would you expect. As with the album opener, there seems to be an element of minimalism within the music. II turns out to be a slow-burning slugger of a jam that would give any established darling of the doom scene a run for their money. III is more upbeat with a cool yet sinister guitar melody at its core. It’s also noticeable how bass heavy and hypnotic it is. 

The general scuzziness of the record (I mean that in a nice way) and the odd rock ’n’ roll breakouts are what add charm to it. It’s those breakouts that make IV an inviting beast. Yet more Muse comparisons come to mind here. Until The Sky Dies head into even more bizarre musical territory on V, switching between oddly industrial verses and off-kilter passages that are kind of bluesy. I’m beginning to think this is the sort of record that can’t be truly appreciated unless you’re under the influence of not-so-legal substances. I just have a beer!  

Upbeat rock is the overarching musical direction on VI, which makes reference in it’s lyrics to the album’s title and also contains an air of fantasy thanks to the use of synths. Once again it’s extremely well executed and seems to fit the context of the record perfectly. The band’s heavier side returns on penultimate song VII with the vocals taking more of a black metal turn before giving way to plenty of groove and rhythm. 

As you’ll have guessed by now, there’s plenty going on here musically. There aren’t that many bands that have the confidence to produce a record like this so the duo are a breath of fresh air. Electronic beats and synths figure heavily on closing song VIII, which strips back on the heaviness once more in favour of something a little lighter. Most people will have a certain level of tolerance when it comes to extreme and avant-garde music. Until The Sky Dies seems to both test that tolerance while remaining musically interesting and original. I’d say that’s a success. Good work.

You can stream the record and buy it in various formats below:-

Cimmerian Shade Recordings -

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 -

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 -
Isu Records -
Utarid Tapes -

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 -

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 -

Redefining Darkness Records -
Gravplass Propaganda -

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 -