Wednesday 29 August 2018

Lifelost - Dialogues From Beyond

Labels: Transcending Obscurity Records
Formats: CD/Digital
Release Date: 26 Oct 2018


1. Malign Emanatio
2. Sepulchral Vault
3. Released From Life
4. Metanoia
5. Incorporeal Gate

In spite of all of the new bands that make it over the obscure underground metal trenches each year, we're still fascinated by bands that feature "members of". Often, you need more than two hands to count the bands they're in and the amount of albums they've released. Those opening lines may sound a little jaded and I guess in some ways they are but I'm by no means a closed minded person. Lifelost is a new one-man black metal project from the Basque region of Spain, featuring vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Phlegeton of brutal/tech death metallers Wormed. That is where the comparisons end though. "Dialogues From Beyond" is Lifelost's first album and as the artwork that adorns it suggests, it's not all rainbows and bunny rabbits.

Lifelost paints a picture through utter malice and aural savagery on “Dialogues From Beyond”. Opening song Malign Emanatio is filled with intense blasts and riffs, while the vocals sit within the mix creating a haunting and uneasy atmosphere. The melody created by the guitar work is hypnotising and the cries mid-way through add a glimpse of DSBM, though Lifelost isn’t predominantly so. The abrupt ending to Malign Emanatio says a lot about the straight-forward, no messing nature of Phlegeton and Sepulchral Vault does nothing to diminish that. While the volume of the song may seem slightly lower, the layers of black metal created are more than effective in weaving claustrophobia into the listeners psyche. 

Released From Life conjures up all kinds of mental images thanks to it’s title alone. The music itself only makes those images more vivid with extremely adept and engaging instrumentation that adds a slight catchiness to e song. Like the rest of the album, it’s refreshingly precise and there’s no room for overblown song-lengths. So much so, that it’s sort of over before its begun. Metanoia is probably the most ambient song on “Dialogues From Beyond” and it does signal a slight shift in dynamics. There isn’t the intense barrage that greeted you earlier in the album and while it’s still heavy, everything feels slightly more foreboding and even melancholy. Ending with the off-kilter Incorporeal Gate, Lifelost performs one that uncomfortable hymn built this time around sound-clash that’s jarring and slightly avant-garde in nature. 

There’s no denying this album’s quality. The individual behind it may be a seasoned musical hand yet that’s no reason to be cynical. Approach it for what it is, which is a black metal album that’s filled with promise and extremely well-written music. Let’s hope that Lifelost doesn’t stop here. 

You can stream Released From Life below via bandcamp:-

"Dialogues From Beyond" is set for release on October 26th via Transcending Obscurity Records and you can pre-order it in both cd and digital formats above.

Tuesday 28 August 2018

Aseethe/Snow Burial - Split

Labels: Hand Of Death Records
Formats: Tape/Digital
Release Date: 29 Jun 2018


1. Aseethe - Wrong
2. Snow Burial - Sever The Bloodline

Amongst all of the fast and grinding heaviness that I listen to, doom and post-metal are equally as important to me. This split is one that I've known about for a while and indeed one that has been out for a couple of months now, though I'm late to the party hence this review. Both Aseethe and Snow Burial are from the US (Iowa, IA and Chicago, IL respectively). Aseethe has been playing slow and heavy doom since 2007, releasing a number of EPs, Splits and two full-lengths to date. Snow Burial has released two EPs and a full-length since their formation in 2013. Aseethe has just finished touring with Yakuza in the States while Snow Burial toured Europe earlier with this year with our very own Monolithian.

Headache inducing guitar feedback is your intro to this split and Aseethe’s Wrong. Their doom is slow but is also groovy in an unexpected way. The vocals are a mix of deep bellows and higher-pitched growls while the drums and bass rattle you to your foundations. At times it’s oddly psychedelic but it’s never upbeat. It’s not all low and slow though as the final sixty-seconds or so is made of jangly, off-kilter metal that rules hard!

Snow Burial’s musical endeavours on Sever The Bloodline make for equally as excited listening. The pace is upped and the melody too, while the band’s post-metal provides glimpses of light and dark at the same time. The vocals flit between full-on shouts and semi-clean singing. There’s a political slant to it all as well, as the samples elude to. The riffs are sometimes fuzzy, the bass is up in the mix and the drumming keeps everything in check really well.

Both Aseethe and Snow Burial go very well together on this split. Neither band truly conforms to their chosen genre conventions and are both experimental leaning, which means that their aesthetic and approaches are refreshing and highly enjoyable. This split may be brief but it’s extremely good value musically. 

You can stream Aseethe's track Wrong below:-

The split is available to purchase on tape and digitally above.

Monday 27 August 2018

Tailblock - Think Or Be

Labels: Self-Released
Formats: CD/Digital
Release Date: 13 Jul 2018


1. Think Or Be
2. Heavy Arms
3. Rocket
4. Blisters
5. Listen
6. 100

"Emotional hardcore", as Kent trio Tailblock call their music, is a funny thing. On the one hand you've got Emo (often split into two camps depending on lazy journalists), which is built on emotions and sensitivity and then there's hardcore, which is decidedly more angry yet also positive to some degree. The two sub-genres have been mixed together countless times over the years and will continue to be.

The above paragraph doesn't really have any baring on this review, it was just mere musing about a form of alternative music where the wheel is yet to be truly reinvented. "Think Or Be" is Tailblock's second EP and it follows their debut "Burn Your Bridges, which was released in December 2016. The UK has produced a lot of very good bands in recent years, so here's hoping that Tailblock can be added to that list.

I’m still very much nostalgic when it comes to post-hardcore/emo. I grew up listening to Drive-Thru Records pop-punk and emo, as well as wearing out early Funeral For A Friend EPs and albums. I never considered the likes of My Chemical Romance or Brand New to truly represent that sort of sub-genre and was just discovering straight-edge and ever tough-guy hardcore. The music has no doubt evolved (If you could call it that) since those days, but finding bands that truly stand out is getting harder. This in turn makes it hard for bands like Tailblock, but moving passed that and focusing on their music alone is easier when the EP’s title-track starts. It’s melodic and subtly American-accented vocals remind you of the influences that are ingrained in young bands now. The music itself is definitely more British in delivery though, with a noisy and urgent feel that takes more from UK punk of old. 

They’re good at writing catchy songs as well, as Heavy Arms shows. There are obvious comparisons that could be made but leaving those aside, Tailblock seem to be straddling the right side of the line when it comes to genuine, heartfelt music. Rocket has all the makings of an anthem for those who are more introspective and introverted, dragging them out the other side with more purpose and belief. If a song can do that then it must be worth your time. With no warning, Tailblock go from earnest emo to sassy hardcore on Blisters. The choruses are still melodic but not cheesy and the guitars and drums underneath still rage for the majority of the song, before ending on a nice instrumental note.

“Think Or Be” heads back to a more comforting port on Listen and the sassy hardcore is replaced by huge riffs and a cinematic sound that isn’t out of place at all when held up against the rest of the EP. At least Tailblock are using experimentation and variation in their music, which again is a very British habit. It’s attention grabbing for the right reasons. They end the EP with the song 100, which moves in the form of a semi-acoustic track that shows off more sensitive song-writing once again. “Think Or Be” is a great EP and Tailblock have clearly focused a lot on their song-writing and have taken their time with it as well. If they continue to write music in this vein, without watering it down then they will surely grow in reputation and play to bigger and bigger audiences.

You can stream "Think Or Be" below, where it's also available to purchase digitally and on CD:-

Sunday 26 August 2018

Character Actor - Character Actor 7"

Labels: Dirt Cult Records
Formats: Vinyl/Digital
Release Date: 22 Jun 2018


1. Out Of Hands
2. What I Learned From Righteous Cowboys
3. On Rubicon Beach
4. 72 Paperbacks

Time seems to be getting all the more scarce at the moment, hence the slowdown from a writing perspective this month. There's a few days left though so I'm going to attempt to make up for that slightly, starting with this new 7" from US pop/garage/punk band Character Actor. This EP is their debut and it was released on vinyl and digitally via Dirt Cult Records in June. Character Actor contains members of the likes of The Ergs!, Night Birds and Black Wine, so the quality here should be without question.

This is hella catchy. Character Actor reminds me a lot of early pop/punk (back in the Nitro Records days when it was actually pretty varied). I hope I’m not doing them a disservice by saying that! Out Of Hands epitomises the pop influence in their sound. It’s short but to-the-point, the guitars and the vocals are melodic and it’s well written. There’s a horror-punk feel to the vocal melodies on What I Learned From Righteous Cowboys. The song doesn’t pass the one-minute mark yet the percussion and guitar work that’s put into it is way more precise and danceable than most bands that try to do this type of thing. The brief solo at the end screams good times too. 

The band’s fuzziness isn’t overpowering though you can definitely hear it during the verses of On Rubicon Beach. That being said, it doesn’t matter one jot if you can hear it because Character Actor’s collective experience is thrown straight into this recording. You’ll wish their song were longer such is their infectiousness. EP closer 72 Paperbacks is such a head-bobber and one that’s so chilled-out that you’ll be pressing repeat on it constantly. In fact, I challenge you not to press repeat on the whole EP (it’ll be impossible to resist!). It’s almost nonchalantly delivered but never quite tips over to that level. It’s just very good indeed. This is my favourite punk release of the year and will be hard to shift from that lofty perch. 

You can stream and purchase the EP digitally below:-

Friday 24 August 2018

Clawing - Spectral Estate

Labels: Dullest Records
Formats: Tape/Digital
Release Date: 23 Feb 2018


1. Mythology
2. Gourds
3. A Clearing
4. Coma
5. Plastic Glowing Stars
6. Home

The last release to see the light of day through Philadelphia's (PA, USA) Dullest Record was this album by tortured drone/noise band Clawing, from Montgomery (AL, USA). I don't know too much about the band themselves but I believe that "Spectral Estate" was their debut. It was released digitally in early February by the band and followed very shortly after on tape. The trio gives very little away, preferring instead the psychological images brought on by their music.

Opening with Mythology, the album’s lengthiest piece, Clawing paints a stark picture with ambient noise and spoken word lyrics that speak of a harsh reality. There’s subtle melody hidden in the depths but no real sense of light, as you’d expect from this sub-genre. The trio weaves experimental soundscapes using both traditional instruments and electronics, giving their sound elements of the haunting and the futuristic. Gourds isn’t the melancholic song you expect it to be, as the calmness is shattered by what is either extreme feedback-ridden screams or just harsh electronics. Whatever it is, it’s a jolting sound that makes this short number very hard to ignore. 

The switch to drone on A Clearing is welcome after the abrasiveness of Gourds. That said, Clawing still manages to produce something that’s menacing, while also being mesmerising too. Throughout my time as a hobbyist writer/blogger (almost 8 years now), I’ve never been able to fully get absorbed by drone/noise and I’ve always needed the more traditional/familiar band structures to be present on recordings and that hasn’t changed. I have grown to appreciate it though as I’ve delved deeper into extreme metal and so this feels like a natural listen. 

The combination of percussion and guitar effects during Coma form something of a release. There’s definitely a sense of less is more here and the initial reluctance to flood the song with layers and layers of noise is a nice touch. It’s minimalistic structure and reliance on those more traditional instruments make you realise that this is the work of a fully functioning band and not just someone in their bedroom making sounds with a synthesiser (not that there is anything wrong with that at all). Distant light finally manages to punctuate “Spectral Estate” thanks to the ambient melody that flows through Plastic Glowing Stars. As the title suggests, there is a cosmic element to it all and the spaciness that’s mixed with the introspective lyrics makes perfect sense. It feels like you’e staring beyond the black void and onto something more cleansing and warm. 

Home is the final song and at this point it almost feels like you’ve come full circle on “Spectral Estate”. The harrowing, hellish feelings of that might have overcome you earlier on are replaced by feeling of relief and quiet contemplation. Despite the uneasy undercurrent that this release possesses, it’s still easy to enjoy. I may have approached and described it in a different way to how it was perceived by Clawing themselves, but that’s the beauty of music I guess. If you’re tastes go beyond the usual Horror movie soundtracks and extreme metal worship, then this is definitely one to bury yourself in. 

You can stream and download "Spectral Estate" directly from the band below:-

Tape copies can still be purchased from Dullest Records here -

Wednesday 22 August 2018

Moss Rose/Caton & Ophélie/Duct Hearts/Child Meadow - Split 12"

Labels: Adorno Records/Dingleberry Records/Dreamingorilla Records/Friendly Otter Records/Hardcore For The Losers Records/KeepHope Productions Records/Time As A Color
Formats: LP/Digital
Release Date: 16 Aug 2018


1. Moss Rose - Drowning In Fire
2. Caton & Ophélie - A Safe Place Pt.2
3. Duct Hearts - The Sun Downed. And So Did We (Except B)
4. Child Meadow - Anders

Yay I don't feel like crap anymore! Apologies for the lack of post's over the last few days, it seems I had a dodgy virus that culminated in me getting dizzy and loosing my balance multiple times. Being well again mean I can review this swell 4-way split LP, which was kindly sent to me by Daniel at Time As A Color. It features songs and excerpts from UK blackened screamo band Moss Rose, French post-hardcore bands Caton & Ophélie and Child Meadow, as well as German indie/post-hardcore band Duct Hearts. It was released earlier this month on two different coloured single-sided LPs, with lovely screen-printed B-sides.

First up on this split is Moss Rose, which features a familiar face amongst it’s ranks. Drowning In Fire is actually the first song I’ve heard by the band and it lives up to the billing. It’s filled with atmospheric and brooding post-hardcore, with screams that reside in the distance. Warm in sound and production. When the band’s blackened-screamo and dual-vocals kick in, your heart will beat that little bit faster and your senses will be heightened due to the song’s volume and it’s emotive intensity. Caton & Ophélie is another new name but they instantly make you take note with A Safe Place Pt.2. The instant hit of their mid-paced screamo is undeniable, with guitars that sometimes crunch and sometimes twinkle, along with the usual crashing percussion and harsh screams give this brief song a lot of life.

Duct Hearts has been a longtime favourite band on this small part of the Internet and with The Sun Downed. And So Did We (Excerpt B), they’e picking up where they left off on “Feathers”. As the title suggests, their song is just an expert but it gives you a clue as to the expansive nature of their forthcoming music. It’s big in so many ways but also gentle, especially when the cleanly sung verse comes in. They’re maturing into such great song-writers. Child Meadow closes the split out in typically great screamo fashion with their song Anders. It’s loud/quiet aesthetic is restrained yet it still breeds anticipation, which is sated by a second-half that features life-affirming hardcore. 2018 will be the years that’s known for incredible 4-way screamo release and this one can do no wrong. All of the bands are great and the music, which only drip-fed is equally as great. Too stuff!

You can stream the full split below:-

Physical and digital copies can be purchased from the labels below:-

Adorno Records - 

Dingleberry Records - 

Dreamingorilla Records - 

Friendly Otter Records - 

Hardcore For The Losers Records - 

KeepHope Productions Records - 

Time As A Color - 

Friday 17 August 2018

Finis - Visions Of Doom

Labels: Iron Bonehead Productions
Formats: Vinyl/CD/Digital
Release Date: 28 May 2018


1. 11 Temple Stones
2. Visions Of Doom
3. Fosforos

Iron Bonehead has found a band from their native land and they've released a three-track LP with them. Finis is from Germany (though I'm not sure exactly where) and they released a demo called "At One With Nothing" in 2016. It was enough for Iron Bonehead to take note and fast-forward a couple of years and here we are. The trio dabbles in both death and black metal, with swirling doom adding atmosphere. Note: I started writing this review a couple of days ago, so contrary to what it's opening sentence says below, I've not had a couple of beers this morning. It's way too early for that!

I really shouldn’t write reviews when I’ve had a couple of beers. I tend to type really incoherent sentences as a result. Thankfully the doom-death & black metal of Finis is able to focus the mind pretty well. LP opener 11 Temple Stones is a collage of both extreme and oddly catchy death metal. Okay, so it’s not easy to grasp if you’re not an extreme metal fan already but there’s definitely a lot to be enjoyed as the melodic guitars fight for space with the ethereal growls. 

The title-track leans more towards the black metal end of the spectrum with melodic buzzsaw guitar work and percussion to match. It’s relentless pace of the song is offset by the clever song-writing that helps Finis to keep hold of the listener. They’re experimental leanings are present too, with a mid-section  that contains bell tolls and a lot of fuzzy guitar noise. 

LP closer Fosforos is an incredibly atmospheric instrumental piece, which is a welcome change of direction after the bands heavier and more barbaric numbers earlier on. This song once again shows how good Finis is in song-writing terms and there’s still a lot to get lost in, musically. Finis is about more than just black/death/doom metal. There’s a lot creativity and sensitivity hidden within the heaviness. It’s going to be a fun journey watching how the band develops but for now, “Visions Of Doom” is a fantastic starting point for new listeners.

You can stream "Visions Of Doom" below:-

It's available now on vinyl, cd and digital formats from Iron Bonehead Productions above.

Tuesday 14 August 2018

ERICBANA/Scum - From The Ground

Labels: Self-Released
Formats: CD/Digital
Release Date: 03 Mar 2018


1. ERICBANA - Maniac
2. ERICBANA - Colour Of Death
3. Scum - Blood Of The Machine
4. Scum - Witness

Off work this week so catching up on some reviews that I've been meaning to write for a while now. This is one and having interviewed Scum and ERICBANA, as well as seeing both play a joint EP launch gig in Harrogate, I finally got something written up. I've talked before about feeling more pressure when it comes to covering bands whose members I know personally, so here goes...

It’s good to hear ERICBANA releasing music and playing shows again. They’re one of those local bands that always seem to be there even when you think they’re off the radar. Their opener Maniac starts off loud and heavy as it builds. When the first verse kicks in it’s backed up by fast pogo-punk drumming and guitar-work to match. The vocals are shouted though the lyrics are audible, while the gang vocals show the DIY spirit and togetherness that Harrogate small music community has. Coops does his best “Transplants” impression at the start of Colour Of Death, but unlike that band, ERICBANA don’t make use of gimmicks and instead mix hardcore-punk with thrash. High tempos and more raucous shouting adds to the song’s urgency and it’s over before you know it.

Scum are a slightly different proposition musically, as they’re more crusty and technical in places. Blood Of The Machine has a metallic edge and plenty of off-kilter hardcore blended into it. Being from London, I wouldn’t be surprised if they ended up on a Chimpy Fest line-up in the near future. They just straight-up grind on Witness, which takes no prisoners. Instantly it’s stupid fast and when they do slow it down, it’s to the kind of heavy stomp that makes powerviolence so moreish. Chaos reigns supreme and what seems incoherent is in fact perfectly structured grinding punk. 

This split has been a labour of love between two bands that are doing what they enjoy. The Homefire Studios recording job allows their music to breathe while taking away none of the heaviness. Both ERICBANA and Scum are brilliant live and I’m not just saying that because I’m biased. Give this a listen and show both bands some support. 

Stream the full split below, where it's available from both bands as a name-your-price-download:-

You can also watch Scum's EP release video below:-

CD copies can be found at gigs or you can contact both band's via the usual methods.

Monday 13 August 2018

The Secret - Lux Tenebris EP

Labels: Southern Lord
Formats: Vinyl/Digital
Release Date: 31 Aug 2018


1. Vertigo
2. The Sorrowful Void
3. Cupio Dissolvi

Seemingly out of nowhere, Italy's The Secret are returning to the fray with their newest EP "Lux Tenebris". Following the long six-year period of silence from the band, they're playing selected shows across Europe again in support of the EP, which comes out at the end of August via Southern Lord on a single-sided 12" with a silkscreened b-side. Their black and heavy sound has brought with it a mass of followers since the release of their debut "Luce" back in 2004 and this new EP has extra poignancy as it marks fifteen years since their initial formation.

The aim of opening song Vertigo is to induce similar symptoms to that of the condition it shares it’s name with. Dizziness inducing bass and noise create an atmosphere that makes you nervous. The Secret are clearly heading in a darker and more experimental direction with their sound and this proves it as they build the intensity together. It never quite explodes into the raging beast that you might be expecting but it does leave you on the edge of your seat with a sense of anticipation, that is almost overwhelming. Black metal meets grind and ambient noise. 

The Sorrowful Void is no less terrifying with it’s undercurrent of hissing feedback and repeating riffs that burst into life providing the explosiveness that you know The Secret are capable of. This is them at their grinding best and where Wake (Canada) are showing North America how it’s done, The Secret are doing the same for Europe. I know that drawing comparisons are often pointless and subjective, but I think that this particular one is accurate. 

After the dramatic ending to The Sorrowful Void, it’s left to EP closer Cupio Dissolvi to carry the momentum on and it does so effortlessly. It’s a longer song and is woven together with The Secret’s driving heaviness and passages of quieter introspect. The song’s second half is dominated by black metal instrumentation, which turns into a mid-paced march filled with anger and hostility. If this EP is a barometer of the future of The Secret, it looks like it’s going to be bleak (in a good way). After it’s release, we’ll start to wave the summer goodbye and this will no doubt be the solace we need during the dark winter months.

You can stream The Sorrowful Void below via The Secret's Southern Lord bandcamp page below:-

Lux Tenebris can be pre-ordered on both vinyl and digital formats above too.

Wednesday 8 August 2018

Stuntman/Art Of Burning Water - Split 7"

Labels: Bigout Records/Ecstatic Shock/Emergence/Dingleberry Records/ Jungle Khol/Superfi Records/Wooaaargh Records
Formats: Vinyl/Digital


1. Stuntman - Easy Prey
2. Art Of Burning Water - The Death Of Unconditional Love In The Age Of I-Me-Me
3. Art Of Burning Water - Don't Need (Deep Wound Cover)

The march continues unabated in 2018, with countless releases still to see the light of day. This split 7" featuring French noisy hardcore mob Stuntman and fellow Brits Art Of Burning Water is very new indeed and will hopefully help to kick you full-force into the second half of your week. It was forged out of a long friendship between both bands and is being released by a group of labels that share an equal friendship. Two heavy, fast originals and a Deep Wound cover. What's not to like?

If you want chaotic and brutally noisy hardcore, then Stuntman is most definitely your band. Metallic guitars, up-tempo blasting percussion and vocals delivered with ferocious intent should be enough for you on their song Easy Prey. However; if they’re not, then Stuntman’s combination of fast and slow heaviness will seal the deal. There’s the best of both worlds here including a heap of powerviolence-esque sludginess. 

Art Of Burning Water are known for not taking any prisoners. The Death Of Unconditional Love In The Age Of I-Me-Me is filled with huge riffs that sound more like proper hardcore stompers before the pace is upped and they fly headlong into some grinding hardcore madness. They add a cover of Deep Wound’s Don’t Need onto the end of this split and it’s ever shifting time-signatures suit them down to the ground. 

AOBW are masters at what they do and Stuntman’s added ferocity makes this split a must for fans of heavy and noisy hardcore. So many bands play this form of hardcore but both bands here deliver it in a unique way, which is exhilarating to listen to.

You can stream and grab a download of the full split below:-

Art Of Burning Water -

Physical copies can be ordered from the links below:-

Wooaaargh Records -

I've been unable to find store/page links for Ecstatic Shock Records or Emergence Records, so please help me out if know of any! Thanks.