Tuesday 30 January 2018

2017 End-Of-Year-List: Mashi Mierul (Cantilever)

Just when you thought that of the end-of-year lists for 2017 had published! I found one sitting in my inbox that I hadn't published, which isn't like me when it comes to things like this. Anyway, I wrote a review a review of Cantilever's EP "The Fall: The Rise" last November and really liked it. Following the review, Mashi decided to submit his end-of-year list all the way from Malaysia. I hope you enjoy it..

1. Dead Heat - Access Denied/S.E.E.D

I listened to this nasty stuff a while ago recommended by my buddy. This is one of a tight hardcore-punk, worth to listen.

2. Incendiary - Thousand Mile Stare

This New York HC band remind me of early Refused. Also the vibe of Snapcase came to my mind. IDK, maybe it’s just me but this album really hook me up.

3. Mastodon - Emperor Of Sand

Well still they cannot surpass the "Crack The Skye" groundbreaker. But it's still a solid album. Good for new listener and oddly, I take this album as my reference for my songwriting in my band’s next release(Cantilever) and my band’s performing post hardcore. I can’t relate, but I really need this album to influence my song writing. Weird

4. Mastodon - Cold Dark Places EP

Released just a few months after EOS. Now I realised why Brent love Rush and blend it to this EP. It sounds so MAJESTIC. 

5. At The Drive-In - Diamante EP

In*ter a*li*a was OK, but their recent EP show that ATDI slowly hit their true road.

6. Dead Cross - Dead Cross

Slayer/Retox/the Locust supergroup. Do I need to tell more?

7. Converge - The Dusk In Us

Its like listening to Jane Doe till All We Love We Leave Behind. But in single release. Neat

8. Ex Deo - The Immortal Wars

This Melodic Death Metal from members of Kataklysm really hit me very well in this album.

9. Elder - Reflections of a Floating World

Its progressive, heavy and doom. Please check it out if you are a fan of Mastodon and alike.

10. Brand New - Science Fiction

"old Brand New" all over again.

Listen to "The Fall:The Rise" by Cantilever below:-

Thanks to Mashi for sending me this list and apologies for forgetting about it until now.

Sunday 28 January 2018

Nekroholocaust - Hymns Of Ruthless Pestilence

Labels: Brutal Mind Productions
Formats: CD/Digital
Release Date: 13th Oct 2017


1. Glorification Of Barbarity (Intro)
2. Self-Inflicted Genital Mutilation
3. Excruciating Savage Butchery
4. Hideous Atrocities
5. Seeds Of Nihilism (Instrumental)
6. Interlude
7. Pseudocommando
8. Hymns Of Ruthless Pestilence
9. Psychopathic Hallucinations Of Morbid Perversities

Nekroholocaust is the first band from The Philippines to appear on this blog. They're probably also the slammiest, deathiest band in the country (that I know of anyway). Their debut full-length "Hymns Of Ruthless Pestilence" was released via Indonesian slam/death label Brutal Mind Productions last October and it was the band themselves that got in touch with me. It just goes to show the power of Social Media when it's used right. The trio from Bacalod City has been spewing out gruesome blasts since 2004, releasing a demo, a single, a few splits and two live albums in the process. If you need any more persuading to read on, just feast your eyes on the cover art that adorns this beast.

“Hymns Of Ruthless Pestilence” begins with the intro Glorification Of Barbarity and the familiar sound of the “O Fortuna”. It’s a pity they didn’t re-imagine it in brutal death metal form (and it begs the questions as to whether they’re even bothered about copyright law!). They get down on dirty for real on Self-Inflicted Genital Mutilation, with filthy bass riffs, blasting toms and pig-squeals. The breakdowns are peppered with pinch-harmonics and they use sampled screams to further add to the horror. Talking of screams, there are some disturbing vocals on Excruciating Savage Butchery, as well as automatic gun fire. The riffs are tight though and occasionally they venture away from stomach churning brutality and into the safer waters of classic death metal. I can’t think of a better name for a song of this ilk than Hideous Atrocities, though it is both one of the grooviest and most off-kilter songs on the record. 

Seeds Of Nihilism is a really solid instrumental song that’s got plenty of hardcore riffs in it, while the Interlude that follows breaks up the momentum of the album. which is kind of sad really. More slams!!! Nekroholocaust get back on it with Pseudocommando and it’s bangtastic. The way the trio transitions mid-way through from fast to mid-tempo is great and they sound really tight. It’s all the on the right side of goregrind as well, which is a bit of a relief. The title-track sees the return of the tom that’s somewhat overpowering, as it drowns out the cymbals and the bass. That said, it’s still a fun listen. The absurdity of Psychopathic Hallucinations Of Morbid Perversities is more than matched by it’s title. It brings to an end an album that may be an acquired taste to some, but that’s also genuine and fun. The recording and production may take some getting used to, but it shows great promise and Nekroholocaust are great at writing catchy songs (believe it or not). Good work.

You can stream "Hymns Of Ruthless Pestilence" in full and buy on digital or on CD below:-

Saturday 27 January 2018

Perception - Monolith EP

Labels: Self-Released
Formats: Digital
Release Date: 09 March 2018


1. Strive
2. Defy Dismay
3. Survive
4. Monolith
5. Closure

This is the second EP from Southern UK progressive metalcore band Perception. The quartet released formed in 2012 and released their debut EP "Collapse' is 2016 and Perception are due to release "Monolith" on March 9th 2018. They'll be heading out in support of the new EP, when they tour alongside fellow UK modern metal band Construct in May. You can read what I said about this EP's title-track here back in May of last year.

Perception is another in the growing crop of UK tech-metal bands. Their music blends together modern electronic music, death metal and hardcore. On EP opener Strive, there’s a hint of Swe-death  amongst all of the characteristic textures that make up modern UK progressive metal. It’s heavy with some great clean vocals, while the instrumentation takes the lead over the electronic elements. The melodic riffs on Defy Dismay are great while the way that Perception switches between them and more brutal riffs seems easy. They’re good at building atmosphere and then unleashing mammoth hooks as well. It is a polished effort so far. 

Survive contains a great mix of clean/harsh vocals and plenty of off-kilter guitar work. It’s fairly easy to compare Perception’s sound to that of more established bands but individually and on their own merit, they’re very strong indeed. I’ve written about this EP’s title-track before but once more won’t hurt. It follows a more technical lineage and it’s pretty surprising how much musicality Perception manages to fit into it. 

EP closer Closure is an apt song to end on and it’s a lot more ambient and atmospheric. Perception tones down their aggressive nature and uses strings and subtle guitar to back up the emotive screams. It does feel as though it’s going to explode but it doesn’t, instead the band settles into a mid-paced and cinematic stomp that’s more reflective. It’s a great way to finish and shows that the band can write songs that take from all different sub-genres of heavy music, while retaining their own identity. Fantastic stuff. Perception is definitely worth checking out when they officially release Monolith.

You can stream the EP's opening song "Strive" via Perception's Facebook page here - https://www.facebook.com/PerceptionUK/

Wednesday 24 January 2018

Erai - S/T LP

Labels: Lifeisafunnything
Formats: LP/Digital
Release Date: 23rd Nov 2017


1. Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants
2. And I Took My Time
3. Mirror
4. Karen
5. Memorial
6. Sanguine, Sinking In

This is another late release from last year that I'm catching up on. Erai is an emo/post-hardcore band from Berlin, Germany. I think this self-titled LP is their debut. I was released by fellow German label Lifeisafunnything in November just gone. They're lucky enough to be playing the 5th edition of We Built The World And Miss The Stars Fest in May alongside a load of great bands, including Birds In Row, Shizune and Cavalcades amongst (many) others. Erai was founded in May 2016.

Despite sharing it’s name with an Oasis album, Erai’s opener Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants is far more interesting than the Manchester Britpop band’s music (bold statement I know!). There are cleanly shouted vocals (that remind me a little of “Bright Flashes” era Snapcase), loud drums and riffs that match with both volume and melody. At times Erai venture into emoviolence-like territory but they never quite explode enough, which is fine. And I Took My Time begins in gentler fashion. Feedback punctuates the lone guitar melody before the full band kicks in with a mix of punk-like time-signatures and driving post-hardcore. The song is really straightforward in its make-up and even after the introspective spoken-word mid-section, there’s a simplicity that flows through it. Musically it’s really really good. What Erai moves onto next is very different. The seven+ minute Mirror is filled with unnerving feedback for the first ninety-seconds. It dies down as the drums and bass provide a minimal and repeated backdrop for what’s to come. The soaring clean vocals that sit atop of the instrumentation are both powerful and uplifting. In fact the whole song is like that. Cinematic but not pretentious with huge swathes of sound from all directions. 

The further you get into this LP, the more you realise that Erai are a golden band. One that pay homage to the sub-genres trailblazers and manages to recreate the feeling that those bands gave you. Karen is a perfect example of what can be done when you don’t try to reinvent the wheel, while also not aping your influences. I’ve not heard post-hardcore played this well for a very long time. They allow their urgency to spill out on Memorial, which has more of a garage-punk feel to it with plenty of raw emotion. The closing song on Erai’s self-titled record is another long player. Sanguine, Sinking In begins slowly and with a feeling of beautiful loneliness. One thing’s for sure, they know how to build and maintain suspense. They weave and layer textures like cymbals, subtle bass, jangly guitars and audible shouts before the song reaches a crescendo at seven-and-a-half minutes and gather momentum with more cinematic post-hardcore. It’s brilliant and it underlines just how strong this record is. Erai is another excellent German band, alongside Duct Hearts. You’ll feel so energised after listening to this.

You can "Erai" and buy it digitally and on vinyl below:-

Erai - https://www.facebook.com/eraibln/

You can also buy it from Lifeisafunnything here - http://lifeisafunnything.bigcartel.com

Tuesday 23 January 2018

Dym - Ray's Front Teeth EP

Labels: Barely Regal Records/strictly no capital letters/Time As A Color/Kingfisher Bluez
Formats: LP/Digital
Release Date: 8th Dec 2017


1. Four/Bi-Gone
2. Tried As Far
3. Web Held, Over/Under
4. Evil I Be Done
5. Hermitage
6. Short, Caught, Right Out Of Feeling

Last August I was lucky enough to see (and meet) Duct Hearts for the first time in Leeds. They were touring alongside Thisismenotthinkingofyou and Dym. I learnt recently that Dym had released an EP and I was given the chance to review it. Dym is a post-hardcore (by way of all kinds of musical influences) trio from London, who began life in 2016. After an initial demo tape, this is their second official release (except for the tape they produced specifically for their tour with Duct Hearts/TIMNTOY). All three members are extremely creative an are active in countless other projects, which means they can bring plenty of outside influence into this band.

From their gig with Duct Hearts et al. I remember Dym having a sort of lo-fi live sound but on record their sound is a lot more than that. Opener Four/Bi-Gone contains some lovely guitar riffs that sound like emoviolence/screamo riffs being slowed down to sludge-like tempos (that sounds weird but I know what I mean). The drums are quite easygoing and the vocals sit in the middle, slightly detached, which is probably where I got the lo-fi impression from in the first place. It’s experimental emo/indie and it’s a cross between Crash Of Rhinos and Simmer. Dym’s energy is felt more during Tried As Far, where they put more screamo influences into their music, especially in the vocals and the dissonance of the guitars. Web Held, Over/Under is another experimental (and sometime arty) number. It’s pretty restrained and there’s a brooding sense of foreboding that’s not often present in the sub-genre. The latter half especially is more violent and jarring at times. 

Ambient textures make an appearance at the beginning of Evil I Be Done, which seems to nod towards Americana briefly. Aside from the almost whispered vocals towards the end, it’s an instrumental. Dym is pretty happy to play lengthier songs and Hermitage is the second one that reaches the six-minute or over mark. It’s beautiful though, staying true to their less-is-more approach to songwriting. Following Hermitage is the record’s closer, Short, Caught, Right Out Of Feeling. It’s intro riff seems to directly follow on from the main riffs towards the end of the penultimate song, which mean continuation is strong. Vocals-wise it’s the heaviest yet Dym doesn’t hold back on the melody. It’s a short piece and it ends abruptly, albeit with the final sounds of bass guitar(?)/ambience once again. “Ray’s Front Teeth” is a nice and relaxing record but with enough musical impact to make you take notice. I’d definitely file it next to the music of the bands I’ve mentioned above. 

You can stream "Ray's Front Teeth" and get it as a name-your-price-download from Dym's bandcamp page below:-

Physical copies are available from the below labels:-

strictly no capital letters - http://sncl.collective-zine.co.uk

Friday 19 January 2018

Escape Is Not Freedom/Dusk Village - Split

Labels: Self-Released
Formats: Tape/Digital
Release Date: 23rd Feb 2018


1. Escape Is Not Freedom - Boiling Nails
2. Escape Is Not Freedom - We're Wrecked
3. Dusk Village - Exolife Civilization Leak
4. Dusk Village - A Self-Fan

Noise-rock and the USA are very familiar bedfellows, as you'll probably know. From Nirvana and The  Melvins carving out a space in modern music history for grunge, to the more obscure yet ultimately prolific bands like Unsane and These Arms Are Snakes (as well as countless others), there's always been exciting music bubbling under the surface. Cue two new acts in the form of Escape Is Not Freedom and Dusk Village. Both bands feature members from some already established (and heavy) US bands including Arctic Sleep and Rabies Caste, and this split tape features debut recordings from both. It's due for release on February 23rd. 

Escape Is Not Freedom takes you on a trip that gathers together grunge, noisy driving rock and  elements that might remind you of Deftones (perhaps). The trio creates a really punishing wall of noise with the guitars and drums sounding almost industrial at times. There is some melody deep in the mix but the vocals mask that with megaphone-like volume on opener Boiling Nails. Their second song We’re Wrecked is more laid back initially and the added vocals provided by Emily Jancetic provide an entirely new perspective on EINF’s music. It’s a clever opposite to the brashness of Boiling Nails yet it too serves up it’s own harsh atmosphere. Their music takes you back to generation of bands and a sound that's gradually being eaten away by increased technicality and clinical recordings techniques. 

Dusk Village's description of playing “metal but not for metalheads” is an apt one, as they embark on Exolife Civilization Leak. It contains doom/sludge instrumentation and low deep bellows that are akin to black metal vocals. That’s not a surprise given the band’s affiliation to Tangorodrim but Dusk Village definitely has it’s own personality. Again a trio that manages to produce deafening volume. A Self-Fan is like a different song altogether with a proper garage/surf-rock vibe going on and an off-kilter tempo that adds energy and urgency to it. Dusk Village (like EINF) manages to put together two very different sounding songs that still sit well together and are proof that experimentation and variation are very good things.

This split may be one of the most left-field releases you hear this year, but over and above that it’s exciting to hear two bands that clearly enjoy creating great music as much as playing it. I hope both Escape Is Not Freedom and Dusk Village stick around for a while yet, as they’ll be very much welcomed.

You can stream EINF's "Boiling Nails" and Dusk Village's "Exolife Civilization Leak" below:-

You can currently pre-order the tape version from EINF's bandcamp page above.

Tuesday 16 January 2018

Revenge Prevails - False Hope Cruelty

Labels: Self-Released
Formats: CD/Digital
Release Date: 4th Aug 2017


1. Into The Depths
2. Bliss Is A Hoax
3. Underworld
4. Shapeshifter Dawn
5. Apocrypha
6. The Creation Of Destruction Part II (Minions Of The Gloom)
7. Habeas Corpus
8. Wings Of Wax
9. Roots Like Veins Bleeding
10. My Remedy A Blade
11. Levitate And Linger
12. Memoria (Bonus Track)

I'm still catching up on a lot of music from 2017, like the second full-length "False Hope Cruelty" by young Swedish black/death quartet Revenge Prevails. I refrained from calling them a new band because they've been around for nearly ten years now, but as with a lot of DIY bands in the underground, they're still fairly unknown. They self-released a demo CD called "Black Void Injection" in 2013, following it up with their debut full-length "Dark Trembling Solace" in 2015. "False Hope Cruelty" was again self-released in August of last year (limited to 100 CDs, like their previous releases) and they were kind enough to send me one, as they look to reach wider audiences outside of Sweden. 

Revenge Prevails self-recorded and produced this album, only getting assistance with it’s mastering (done by Anders Lagerfors of Nacksving Studio 1). On album opener Into The Depths, they show that they’re pretty adept at writing solid black/death metal that’s influenced by their homeland’s genre forefathers, even down to the lo-fi sound (deliberate or not) and some killer guitar work! They’re also a black/death band from the more progressive end of the sub-genre too, as their songs (and song-lengths) prove. Bliss Is A Hoax borrows elements from modern metal and mixes it in with the more authentic deep-bellows, icy growls and even some sensitive clean vocal harmonies. The rhythm section adds beef, though it’s a little quiet as the volume on the mix isn’t as high as it could be. That’s a minor quibble though and shouldn’t effect your enjoyment of the album though. They play with subtle doom/death elements during Underworld that fit in really well, especially the relative mid-paced tempo that they employ. 

Black metal is further explored on Shapeshifter Dawn, which is the fastest song on the record so far, with kick-drumming and blasts aplenty, as well as more use of both those aforementioned shrieks and occult atmosphere. The guitar work that graces Apocrypha is brilliant, even if it’s buried within the mix somewhat. It definitely adds an avant-garde layer to the album though! A breakdown appears towards the end as well, adding a bit of hardcore bite. The Creation Of Destruction Part II (Minions Of The Gloom) contains a really infectious yet menacing riff at it’s beginning and it leads to a sloth-like death metal song that’s a really engrossing listen. More obvious progression is the order of the day on Habeas Corpus, with it’s metallic guitar melodies. By now, you’re passed the half-way point of “False Hope Cruelty”. One of the longest songs on the record is Wings Of Wax, which funnily enough is also one of the fastest. The more prominent clean vocals during Roots Like Veins Bleeding are a joy to hear amongst the blackness, adding more avant-garde appeal to the record alongside the off-kilter time-signatures and added experimentation that Revenge Prevails pursue. 

There’s a funky/pop-like groove to the opening bars of My Remedy A Blade, which belies the feel of the rest of the song, as it thrashes and blasts through an oddly (for this album anyway) urgent five-and-a-half minutes. Actually, the album becomes more upbeat (in tempo anyway) the closer it gets to the end and penultimate song Levitate And Linger is a fine example of neck-snapping black/death with a difference. The CD only bonus track Memoria is the icing on the cake when it comes to the final trio of songs. “False Hope Cruelty” is a long album at over an hour-and-a-quarter but it’s a great listen. Revenge Prevails have the song-writing and performance skills to propel them to wider audiences, they just need the opportunity, 

You can stream "False Hope Cruelty" (minus the bonus track) and buy it digitally and on CD below:-

Sunday 14 January 2018

Kadinja - Interview

This French tech-metal band was a tip from my brother and as I've been a bit out of the loop when it comes to modern tech-metal of late, I thought I'd pay further attention to them. They released their debut album "Ascendancy" in February 2017, which featured a guest appearance from guitarist Rick Graham. Kadinja toured the UK in April 2017 alongside No Sin Evades His Gaze and unlike other bands in the genre, they've even produced their own songbooks based on the album, so fans can learn "Ascendancy" on their chosen instrument. Recently, I sent the band some questions to find out a bit more about them, their influences, those songbooks and French tech-metal in general. Their drummer Morgan was kind enough to respond.

I recently discovered Kadinja thanks to my Brother, who loves tech-metal. Can you talk about how Kadinja was formed and about your career as a band so far?

Kadinja was formed a few years only, we released our first EP in 2014 then first album "Ascendancy" last year and we're now working on the new one which should be out within few months. We got an amazing fan base which seemed to enjoy the album quite a lot, we try to work with fans as much as we can, asking what they would like, and that's quite exciting to work this way. Ascendancy is sold out and we're gonna have to repress it sooner than expected so I suppose the career's good!

I’ve been listening to “Ascendancy” a lot recently and aside from the tech-metal/djent in your music, I hear some similarities to the metalcore of bands like Killswitch Engage. Is that accurate and if so, would you say that those types of bands have influenced your music in any way?

We sure did listen to some metalcore band and I know some of us listened to Killswitch Engage such as our Singer Phil and I, don't really know for the rest of us though. Now for sure we took influences everywhere we could, from rock music to jazz.

“Ascendancy” was released via Klonosphere/Season Of Mist last year. What was it like working with those labels, especially given Season Of Mists’s history within heavy music?

Season of Mist handles the distribution part and I think they did a pretty good job since Ascendancy is now sold out. Same for Klonosphere for promotion, Guillaume Bernard who's a friend of mine also did a great job with “Ascendancy”.

You've taken the time to transcribe your music for drums, guitars and bass so your fans can learn to play the songs. It’s something that more bands should do. What made you come up with the idea and has it been popular with your fans?

Well the idea is not entirely ours since we thought of it but fans asked for that. It began with releasing the instrumental version of “Ascendancy” on youtube, the people started asking for the same without guitars, then without bass, etc... that's how we worked on releasing songbooks. As I said earlier it's really cool to work with fans, they want something, you should be able to provide it. Now it takes A LOT of time it's like 10 full days to write that shit haha, and maybe that's why only few bands do that. 

You recently played Euroblast Festival. What was it like and who were your highlights band-wise?

We headlined the second stage 2 years ago and last year we were on the main stage, incredible crowd and very cool show for us. We're lucky to be close to the Euroblast crew members who helped us developing the band with Ascendancy. We really wanted to see Twelve Foot Ninja, Devin Townsend and Car Bomb, which totally destroyed everything

What is the French tech-metal scene like currently? What other French bands should people check out?

It's getting a lil better every year thanks to our friends from Novelist, Nonsense, The Algorithm, Uneven Structure, etc...

What are you plans for 2018? Will you be touring/playing festivals and are you coming over to the UK at all?

So we're recording our next album, we didn't' wanna wait for too long after ascendancy so it should be ready in a couple of months to be released asap. We're working on a European tour with The Algorithm but nothing confirmed yet. Just like for “Ascendancy” we're gonna have tough weeks working on songbooks so that's pretty much our next few months, recording, writing probably crying a lil haha. We'll try to go to UK during the tour yes of course!

You can stream "Ascendancy" below, where it's also available to purchase digitally and on CD direct from Kadinja:-

Digital songbooks are also available via their bandcamp page too, while other merch can be found here - http://kadinja.bigcartel.com.

Thanks again to Morgan and Kadinja for their time and for answering my questions. Make sure you check them out.