Friday, 19 January 2018

Escape Is Not Freedom/Dusk Village - Split


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

Tracklist:

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

Tracklist:

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.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Garden Of Worm/The Wandering Midget - Split 7"


Labels: Pariah Child/Acidmen Records/Ramekuukkeli-levyt
Formats: Vinyl
Release Date: 1st Dec 2017

Tracklist:

1. Garden Of Worm - Whirls
2. The Wandering Midget - Man With Black Hole Eyes

Here's a new split 7" featuring Finnish doom band (and Svart Records signees) Garden Of Worm and their compatriots The Wandering Midget, also a doom band. This split 7" was released in December last year and dropped through my letterbox last week, thanks to Tuukka of Ramekuukkeli-levyt. Garden Of Worm has been playing progressive doom since 2003, releasing two full-lengths via Shadow Kingdom Records and Svart Records respectively. The Wandering Midget has been around for a similar period of time, also with two full-lengths released via Eyes Of Snow from Germany. 

Garden Of Worm’s Whirls is a heady mix of traditional instrumentation and progression in it’s early bars and it’s slow to build. The bass in most prominent amongst the instrumentation. The volumes rise as the guitar and the drums come into the mix further and the songs pace increases. The vocals are cleanly sung and the melodies they create lay between medieval folk and psychedelic rock. It’s all very gentle and soothing.

The Wandering Midget also has a folky feel on Man With Black Hole Eyes. Their sound is beefier and more akin to doom; however, they also make use of traditional instrumentation and slow time-signatures. As with Garden Of Worm’s side, it’s also clean and melodic with The Wandering Midget having a keen ear for traditional metal and progression amongst their own miserable furrow. 

This split is a bit of a diamond in the rough as the majority of doom bands nowadays are going in a heavier, slower direction. Both Garden Of Worm and The Wandering Midget are taking on the sounds or genre originators like Black Sabbath and Reverend Bizarre to very good effect.  


You can order the 7" from the links below:-

Pariah Child - pariahchild.co.uk
Acidmen Records - By e-mailing acidmenrecords (at) gmail.com
Ramekuukkeli-levyt - http://ramekuukkeli.nettisivu.org

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Throneless - Cycles


Labels: Black Bow Records
Formats: CD/LP/Digital
Release Date: 23rd Mar 2018

Tracklist:

1. Born In Vain
2. Cycles
3. Senseless
4. Oracle

I'm sticking in Scandinavia tonight with an early review of the 2nd full-length from Swedish doom/sludge band Throneless. The Malmo trio released their debut self-titled album back in 2015 and now team up with UK doom/sludge label Black Bow Records to release their latest record across three formats. It's great to be featuring another new (to this blog anyway) band on here and to be hearing more of what 2018 has to offer for heavy music fans.


Throneless is a band that specialises in organic doom and opener Born In Vain has a fantastically warm live-sound to it. The drums sound like they’re in the room with you, while the stoner-inspired guitar and bass add groove that backs up the hypnotically sung/shouted vocals. The mid-section is as heavy as any of the sludge scene’s current big-hitters and when the screams ring out over top of the mammoth riffs, Throneless sounds positively immense. 

The album’s title-track has an intro that could easily have been lifted from one of the more recent Baroness records, but that’s no barrier to appreciating Throneless on their own merits. The song soon crawls it’s way through over nine-minutes of bass-ridden sludge with a major on instrumentation. The vocals do make an appearance and are used sensitively, sitting in the mix surrounded by the music itself. “Cycles” is an album for the diehard doom/sludge fan, but that’s fine because this album will be heard by those who truly appreciate it. 

Senseless is another sprawling song and while it’s running time will seem positively short compared to the rest on the album, it’s still heavy as hell. You won’t be able to escape the ridiculous wall of noise that this trio creates. The best thing you can do is sit back and just stare into space as the music paints all kinds of images in your mind and in front of your eyes. 

Closing number Oracle is once again a song that leans more towards the instrumental end of the doom/sludge spectrum, save for the minimal use of vocal midway through. If you’re like me and you drift away listening to the music, when the vocals do come in they’re a bit of a shock but that’s just because the rest of the song is so good. 

Simplicity is often looked down on in the increasingly technical metal scene that we call ours, yet Throneless has crafted and performed an album that will satisfy both sides. Heavy, mesmeric and progressive in all the right places. Awesome.

"Cycles" isn't up for streaming in full yet but you can listen to the album's opener via Decibel Magazine here - https://www.decibelmagazine.com


Black Bow Records have begun taking pre-orders here - http://blackbowrecords.bigcartel.com/products

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Hexis - XII


Labels: Crown And Throne Ltd/Moment Of Collapse/Division Records/Truthseeker Music
Formats: LP/CD/Digital
Release Date: 30th Sep 2017

Tracklist:

1. Derelictus
2. Nefarius
3. Famelicus
4. Miseria
5. Sacrificium

You often hear mainstream pop/rock acts saying they're the "hardest working" bands around. Most of those bands are pampered though and driven around in big tour buses. Hexis is the complete opposite, with their DIY approach and lust for constant touring, which saw them play 195 shows over the course of 2017 in Asia, the Middle East, Europe & the USA. They also found time to release their most recent full-length "Tando Ashanti" and this EP "XII", all but six months apart. I'm a little late with this, but it's definitely still hot!

Hexis is most definitely one of those bands whose recorded output more than matches their live performances (minus the strobe light though!). “XII” begins with the raging, blackened spectacle that is Derelictus. It’s feels like a precursor for the uninitiated, as the band’s careening percussion, riffs and vocals open up with a near sixty-second blast. Their music is more than just power and fury though and they weave atmosphere into every bar, which is why it’s such a captivating experience seeing them in a live setting. 

Nefarius is the closest that Hexis has ever got to black metal and it’s part of a trend (if I can call it that) that European bands are grabbing and running with at the moment. Black metal seems to be a more prominent fixture on “XII” amongst the band’s grinding, hardcore noise. Famelicus gives you subtle yet menacing melody that’s buried within the music, complimenting the mid-range shrieks and feedback that envelopes it. The cymbal crashes are also a constant and remind you of the band’s metallic nature. 

Talking of feedback, the huge swathe that greets you on Miseria is both harrowing and hypnotising at the same time. The urgency that Hexis attacks the song with is reminiscent of the aforementioned strobe light and there’s no way to hide from it. It definitely helps to banish the memory of a shitty working day. Closing song Sacrificium reminds of the crusty goodness of Totem Skin (RIP) and thus is already a winner. The lengthy instrumental passage at it’s beginning is a thing of beauty, lasting nearly two minutes. There’s something life affirming about it as Hexis passes over to their flailing finale. The whole song is violent and exhausting but you won’t want it to end. 

There’s no much else left to say really. Just jam this glorious wall of noise and prepare yourself for their next raid on the UK (whenever that is). 

Stream "XII" and get it as a name-your-price-download here:-




Physical copies can be purchased from the labels below:-

Moment Of Collapse Records - http://records.kollektif.eu

Moment Of Collapse Records - https://www.facebook.com/momentofcollapse/

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Frequencies Deleted #1: Crowhurst - Snuff

This is a new feature/review series that I've tentatively called "Frequencies Deleted", featuring guest reviews from my friend Mikey Ortega. He's been a great supporter of my blog for a long time now and knowing that he's a fan of noise and power electronics, amongst other genres, I asked him if he would like to contribute his thoughts on releases new and old. Mikey's from California and has a noise-doom band called Diclonius. For his first review, Mikey's revisiting an album by Californian harsh noise act Crowhurst.


Label: Self-Released
Format: Digital
Release Date: 14 Feb 2014

Tracklist:

1. Child
2. Immolate
3. Brick
4. Throat Rope
5. You Owned A Store
6. Cartel Warning Shot
7. Imagine John Lennon
8. Torture
9. Punishment Park
10. You Were A Person

Violence is something that everyone has some interest in. Whether it's in the news, on film, music, comics, or in the arts in general.  As humans, it is embedded in us. I know that's pretty much cliche, but watch a MMA fight, and you'll see the crowd get rowdy when someones face is busted open. Or go on Facebook, and see people post grisly images they found on the deep web. And of course, if you're in the metal scene, we see violence on album art and hear them in the lyrics. Most try to shock. And only a few try to make a statement about the World we live in.

Here enters "SNUFF" by Philly-turned-LA project, Crowhurst. If you read the description on the album's Bandcamp page, Crowhurst mastermind, Jay Gambit, talks about how the noise like to talk about violence over loops of feedback. As if to make themselves seem edgy. Well, Gambit ups it by having real audio of torture and murder, backed by a wave of Power Electronics.

The first track, Child pretty much made me take off my earbuds off. The sound of a woman crying and begging for mercy was just gut wrenching. If anything, that's the one that's gonna be a struggle to get through. The fact that the audio came from someones video camera, and not clip from a horror film, is just bone chilling. Brick gives you the feeling of being tied up in someones basement, while watching a love one getting dismembered by maniac. Cartel Warning Shot is another track that is very unsettling to listen. The crushing electronic noise makes everything hopeless. And then you hear that chainsaw, and it's just game over, man. When Punishment Park comes on, you just want to roll in a ball and hope these atrocities will just end.

If you heard of the movie August Underground, director Fred Vogel, talks about when he was teaching make-up/special effects, he was shocked how his students were glorifying serial killers. So he went out to make August Underground, in which the film's antagonist made you feel sick, and wasn't someone you root for like a Michael Myers. To me, "SNUFF" is to music, as August Underground is to film. Crowhurst doesn't glorify the violence on "SNUFF". It is presented as it should be; ugly, unsettling, and disturbing. Even though "SNUFF" is Jay Gambit's least favorite album, I believe "SNUFF" is a important release, in a time where it seems the young generation are desensitised to violence.

You can stream and download "SNUFF" below:-



Saturday, 6 January 2018

Apophys - Devoratis


Label: Ultimate Massacre Productions
Formats: CD/Digital
Release Date: 22 Jan 2018

Tracklist:

1. Children Of The Stars
2. The Verdict
3. Xiux - The Parasite
4. Matters Unresolved
5. Deadlock
6. Respite (Interlude)
7. What We Will Be
8. Retaliate
9. Occasus

Saturdays are the best. I spent the afternoon record shopping and cooking. I'm now relaxing with the soon-to-be-released 2nd album from Dutch tech-death band Apophys. "Devoratis" is due for release on cd and digitally via Czech label Ultimate Massacre Productions on January 22nd. At the back end of last year, Apophys supported both Exhumed and Aborted in The Netherlands and they've been getting a fair amount of press coverage in relation to this new record. While they may be a new name to some, their ranks feature a collective of musicians with a lot of experience. 


With America seemingly leading the way in the tech-death stakes of late, it’s left to bands like Apophys to wrestle the upper-hand back for Europe. Early signs are positive on album opener Children Of The Stars. Blistering percussion, off-kilter riffs, thunderous bass and a mix of low growls and clean bursts of vox batter you from all angles. The Verdict adds pinch harmonics and occasional slams into the mix, all while retaining the faster-than-you-can-blink kick drumming. I feel like this song should finish the album with that title though! 

They exhibit a keen ear for old-school death on Xiux - The Parasite and inject the opening bars with plenty of atmosphere. It’s surprising to hear how slowing the tempo down slightly can make such a difference to their sound. It’s a good shift, even if it is only minimal. It’s also the first chance to hear the lead guitar soloing, which adds to the progressive nature of the song. It's not long after that Apophys presses the warp-speed button once more on Matters UnresolvedThey will sit easily alongside Berlin’s Cerebral Turmoil in the technicality stakes that’s for sure! 

Deadlock is more of a straight-up grind/death song but it’s never too far away from some mind-bending signatures and unrelenting power. Apophys sees fit to make Respite an interlude and it does break up the brutality, though I’d argue that it’s not needed when the rest of the album is this fun. 

Crunching riffs are the order of the day on What We Will Be. The song itself sees another twist in direction from the band, at times heading into thrash-like territory albeit briefly. They never quite leave their tech-death path though and instead retreat to browbeat you some more. All that’s left now is for you to slowly turn to mush to the insanity of penultimate song Retaliate, which includes some added hardcore attitude amongst the guitar duelling. 

Rounding out the madness with Occasus, Apophys has written and performed an album that’s bewildering and impressive in equal measure. They said themselves on social media that “2018 would be their year” and it’s hard not to agree with them. Fantastically heavy and technically adept. 

You can stream both Deadlock and Retaliate below, where you can also pre-order "Decorates" digitally and physically via Ultimate Massacre Productions:-



Ultimate Massacre Productions - https://www.facebook.com/ultimatemassacre/

Thursday, 4 January 2018

The Parasite Paradise - His Only Begotten Son (A.D. MMXVII)


Labels: The Cursed Order/Self-Released
Formats: CD/Digital
Release Date: Oct 31st 2017

Tracklist:

1. His Only Begotten Son
2. Lucifer Luminous

Finnish one-man black metal band The Parasite Paradise started life in 2016, self-releasing a debut EP in December of the same year. "His Only Begotten Son (A.D. MMXVII)" is the most recent offering. Very little is known about the band other than that it's sole creator mixes black metal with blues to form a hybrid of extreme metal. The EP was self-released in October on both CD and digitally via bandcamp.

The Parasite Paradise’s unmistakable black metal is laced with groove and theatrics on title-track His Only Begotten Son. It’s a mid-tempo song with really solid guitar work, machine-like drums, bluesy and catchy bass as well as typically icy and harsh vocals. Second song Lucifer Luminous appeared is more bluesy, with whispered vocals as it begins. It brings to mind the likes of Marilyn Manson and Mortiis to start with, at least before the black metal kicks in. Perhaps that’s where the theatrical influence comes from! 

The EP is very good musically and oddly depressive, while the production and mastering (Blackvox Studio) of the songs give it a big sound. A different take on a well trodden genre and formula but one that’s got a lot of potential. I can see The Parasite Paradise becoming a full band in the future and playing similar venues to the reprobates I mentioned above. 

You can stream and purchase this EP digitally below:-



You can purchase CD copies via the bands Facebook page below.