Thursday 29 August 2019

Oaken/Marnost - Split

Labels: Bookhouse Records/Catanarchy Records/Dingleberry Records/Dzsukhell Rekords/IFB Records/Itai Itai Records/Middle-Man Records/Music For Liberation/Prejudice Me Records/Rotten Raven/THC+DIY Records/Zegema Beach Records
Formats: Vinyl/Digital
Release Date: 09 Apr 2014

1. Oaken - I Am The Crucifix
2. Oaken - Redeember
3. Marnost - Die Hamletmasch

Well it's been a few days and I've been enjoying the last bank holiday weekend that we'll get this year, hence the lack of posts. That's partly why I've decided to do another Zegema Beach Records roster review (alliteration to the max!). This one features experimental Hungarian hardcore band Oaken and Czech heavy band Marnost. This LP contains two songs by Oaken and one by Marnost. It was released in 2014 by a whole host of labels, that'll be linked to below.

Oaken’s opener I Am The Crucifix begins like some sort of occult black metal song with low chanting and ambience before menacing guitar work takes over. Essentially, they are a hardcore band with black metal and doom leanings, which means their sound is heavy. At times it’s fast and others it’s slower and more progressive, which is very much driven by the percussion and the bass. Oaken’s creativity is obvious throughout and their barbaric approach to their delivery is astounding.

After that seven-minute plus opener, Redeemer goes even longer and harder and shows Oaken in an even more cinematic light (even it that light is quickly fading to darkness). The mix of growls and pitches go to show that they’re very much a fully collaborative unit and the clean female vocals later on are a fantastic touch that add extra weight to the music. This really has everything. I slept on this for so long.

Marnost’s sole contribution to this split is equal to both the previous songs on it, so it’s intriguing to listen to it and see how it matches up. Die Hamletmasch is immediately a mote down-tempo song with huge lumbering riffs and loads of swirling feedback. It has more of a rawness but that’s fine. There’s subtle melody and the occasional screams nestling in the background as it builds. Noisy is probably the most apt descriptor for this. 

Around the four-and-a-half-minute mark it almost falls silent before gentle guitar takes over, alongside whispered lyrics. There’s still a feeling though that once again Marnost are about to explode and as the volume increases and the band whirrs back into life with the help of ringing cymbal crashes, there’s no room for cowering. What follows is fast black metal mixed with post-hardcore, which like Oaken before it, is really engaging. The final passage featuring the spoken word sample will have the hairs standing up on the back of you neck.

It seems that both bands were destined to be on a split together. Both are fantastic and if you missed this when it was originally (like I did!), you should pick up a copy now. 

Stream the split and purchase it digitally (name-your-price) below:-

Grab physical copies from the labels below (well the ones that still have stock):-

Dingleberry Records And Distribution -

Music For Liberation -
Prejudice Records And Distro -

Wednesday 21 August 2019

Moloch/Groak - Split 7"

Labels: Dry Cough Records/Heavenly Vault
Formats: Vinyl/Digital
Release Date: 15 July 2019


1. Moloch - Thy Grief II
2. Groak - Quiet Graft

2019 has been a very good year in heavy music terms and while it's impossible to catch everything that's released, I'm going to try and bring you more over the coming weeks. This split featuring Nottingham's Moloch and Groak from Leeds was released in mid-July via Dry Cough Records (UK) and relative newcomers Heavenly Vault (Germany). Bringing together two of the UK's best underground bands is only going to end one way...

When I first dug deeper below the surface and made the descent from mainstream metal to the underground, hardcore was my first stop. From there I found the crunching, slow riffs of sludge to be a welcoming escape from the faster tempos. At first it was Church Of Fuck (R.I.P) mixing the two genres with their releases and then Dry Cough Records grabbing the torch with both hands, thrusting ever slower and lower bands into my ears. This split, which is one of their latest releases, is no different.

Moloch will not be a surprise to anybody (at least, they shouldn’t be). Their recent 7” “Love Songs” was the quartet at their best and here on Thy Grief II,  there’s no dip in the quality of the sludge/doom that they provide. They sound a little more stripped-back here but they’re still a force to be reckoned with. You just have to listen to the powerful riffs and rumbling bass, the crashing cymbals and those vocals to know that they can’t be doubted anymore.

Groak have always had their foot in both fast and slow camps. Here they begin Quiet Graft in frightening fashion with dual vocals, screeching feedback and instrumentation delivered at a tempo that’s as slow as they’ve probably ever gone (maybe!). It doesn’t end their though. Their own, gritty brand of Yorkshire sludge is glorious in a twisted way and it just goes to show the breath of talent that the UK’s scene (I hate to use the term) has. Consistency is a hard thing for a lot of bands to muster, but Groak are already producing the goods. 

If you’re from the UK you’ll no doubt be familiar with both bands and heck, if you’re from overseas, the chances are you’ll have come across them too. If not, this split may be a starter for ten. Two blisteringly heavy songs from two of our best. That reminds me, there are some gaps in my sludge collection that need filling!

Stream and purchase the full split digitally and on vinyl from Dry Cough Records below:-

European fans can buy the split in both formats from Heavenly Vault Records here - 

Tuesday 20 August 2019

Bob Malmstrom - Lange Leve Bob Malmstrom

Labels: Elitbolaget
Formats: Digital
Release Date: 05 Apr 2019


1. Modersmalets Sang (Med Runeberskoren BSB)
2. Hang Dig!
3. Du Ar Problemet
4. Ruttet Te
5. Se Dig I Spegeln
6. Skal! (Favorit I Repris - Med Anette Grevberg Och Runeberskoren BSB)

I'm revisiting Finland again this evening (I could probably spend the rest of this year talking about Finnish punk and metal, but I won't). Hardcore-punk quartet Bob Malmstrom is the newest band to cross my inbox and thanks to native label Elitbolaget, I'm able to review the band's latest EP "Lange Leve Bob Malmstrom". They've enlisted the help of Borgar male voice choir Runeberskoren BSB, Finnish folk musician Anette Grevberg and the production of Teemu Aalto (whose worked with Insomnium and Omnium Gatherum) to help bring the EP to life.

EP opener Modersmalets Sang features the voices of the impressive Runeberskoren BSB. It’s a long way from Bob Malmstrom’s hardcore-punk, but it’s lovely and will put you in a truly serene mood. A mood that is snatched away from you as soon as Hang Dig! begins. The quartet’s punk is on the faster and louder side with nods to grindcore, thrash and typical Finnish frivolity. 

Du Ar Problemet contains some really good guitar work and pure 80s rock-n-roll clean backing singing, which sit really well next to the harsh lead vocals. In fact the whole song has that 80s vibe flowing through it, thanks to every instrument and to Bob Malmstrom’s song-writing. The intensity is turned up many notches again on Ruttet Te, where things go in an altogether more metal direction. It’s fast and furious without being a mere rehash.

I’ll tell you what, these guys have some chops! Se Dig I Spegeln once again traverses the line between punk and rock n roll, and it’s so easy to why the two genres are so intertwined. Yes it’s heavy in places but I defy you not to enjoy it. EP closer Skal! is like a folk version of one of Bob Malmstrom’s own songs and I’ll admit, it’s what I was expecting when I started listening to the band. I’m not sure why I thought that. It’s great though and suits the overall feel of “Lange Leve Bob Malmstrom” though.

This is another short EP but it’s entertainment value will stay with you for days (and I mean that in a good way). There’s a lot more to their musical palette than just hardcore-punk and it makes this a much brighter listen. Leave your stoney faced elitism behind for a bit and listen to this!

You can stream and purchase the EP from Bob Malmstrom below:-

Saturday 17 August 2019

Corroder - Doctrine 7"

Labels: Ramekuukkeli-Levyt/Several Casualties Productions/Tuhkaa & Paskaa Esittaa Records
Formats: Vinyl
Release Date: 01 May 2019


1. Tightrope
2. Nothing
3. Constructive Criticism
4. Cacophony

"Doctrine" is the first of two 7"s that were released earlier this year by unknown Finnish hardcore/sludge band Corroder. I uses the term unknown because, apart from a bandcamp page containing just two songs, little is known about the band. This and second 7" "Instinct" were sent to me by Ramekuukkeli-Levyt and I must apologise for the time it's taken me to write this review. The double release was made possible with the help of Several Casualties Productions and Tuhkaa & Paskaa Esittaa Records.

This is incredibly bass-heavy sludge with touches of hardcore and crust sewn in. Opener Tightrope is as black (atmosphere-wise) as the vinyl it’s pressed onto. The vocals are made up of deep roars and higher-pitched shrieks, while the guitars assert themselves at the lower end of the register and the drums are gloriously analogue-sounding alongside them. Nothing is groovier in tempo and there’s more of a metal influence in it as well. I’m playing this on my turntable with the volume at a moderate level (as I live in a flat and don’t want to fall out with my neighbours) but the music still seems to shake the room.

The b-side carries on the upturn in pace, with the crusty monolith of Constructive Criticism. The guitar melodies are slightly more noticeable here, but it’s still murky and angry. The off-kilter delivery also knocks you for six. There’s a brief moment of calm and inner-reflection as quiet strings help the 7” transition to its final song Cacophony. Here, Corroder goes back in search of the suffocating sludge that greeted the listener at the start of this EP. This time though it’s instrumental for a larger proportion, with the vocals being used more sparingly. Angular riffs back up the screams and the percussion helps to bring things to a close. 

“Doctrine” is a no-frills EP from a fairly no-frills band. People tend to speak in derisory terms about the 7” format but it still works well, especially for Corroder. Their heavy, sludgy hardcore is perfectly suited to the format, even if it’s over all too quickly.

Several Casualties Productions -

Monday 12 August 2019

Pacifist - Greyscale Dreams

Labels: Self-Released/Inspirus Records
Formats: Digital
Release Date: 16 Jun 2019


1. Reactionary
2. Double Down
3. Pedigreed
4. Greyscale Dreams

I've been playing with my schedule a bit and have decided to throw this into the mix. Post-hardcore from India in the form of Mumbai's Pacifist. "Greyscale Dreams" is their debut EP and it's rad to see bands getting swept up in the sound, especially when they're from different countries and scenes. This EP was self-released digitally by the band back in mid-June and I heard about it shortly after that. India is beginning to produce some excellent bands from the alternative/heavy end of the musical spectrum and I'm excited about this.

Pacifist’s sound does not bare resemblance to their country’s traditional roots at all. They’re clearly a band that’s been brought up on punk and hardcore and opening song Reactionary is well and truly a product of that. The vocals draw comparisons to the likes of Snapcase and Zach De La Rocha from RATM at his angriest, while the instrumentation is driving and full of impact, which is perfect given the short song length. Double Down plays on Pacfist’s off-kilter influences and drills home their caustic sense of delivery. That said, it’s melodic in all the right places and the clash of both heaviness and melody works so well here. They’re also able to add sensitive passages to the song that help to break up the obvious angst that courses] through it. 

The unmistakable hardcore of Pedigreed is counterbalanced by semi-clean vocals. There’s a definite rock vibe to this and it’s hard to explain but it has that larger-than-life feel that just makes you feel unbeatable. Music should be like that though and Pacifist have nailed it here. The title-track closes out the EP and the dystopian commentary that’s delivered via the lyrics. Pacifist talks about the light that barely shines through today’s humanity but it certainly shines through their music. When post-hardcore/screamo legends are returning to that fray with over-produced and expensively recorded albums, you should be digging deeper into the layers that sit beneath them. Pacifist are coming up to the surface quickly and you should take note. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

You can stream "Greyscale Dreams" and purchase it digitally below:-

Sunday 11 August 2019

Geist - Swarming Season

Labels: Cursed Monk Records
Formats: CD/Digital
Release Date: 20 Sep 2019


1. Unnatural Selection
2. Western Medicine
3. Breathe Soundless Light
4. Sleep Deprived
5. Election Day
6. Silent Hive
7. Kennel Cough
8. Buried Language

Nearly the end of another weekend and once again I have writer's block. I've been waiting to write this review and at times over the last 24 hours I've struggled for the right words. Thankfully, inspiration comes in the weirdest of ways and I'm ready to go again. After a long period of silence, Geist is about to return with a new record. Due for release in late September via Cursed Monk Records, "Swarming Season" features eight new chaotic heavy hardcore songs and a special guest as well (but I ain't giving that one away). 

Anger makes the heart grow fonder. Anger is a primal human response to a lot of things and in this instance, Geist harnesses it for the sake of musical cleansing on “Swarming Season”. Opener Unnatural Selection is instantly crushable thanks to metallic guitars, powerfully authoritative percussion, deep rumbling bass and instantly addictive screams. This sets the tone for the rest of the record. Angular and crazed without reproach. Punk-like tones greet you at the beginning of Western Medicine, but that feeling of safety and familiarity soon dissipates into something more sinister and heavy. Geist’s writing has certainly grown and this record is testament to that growth, both live and in the studio. 

Most bands seems to ignore the quality over quantity rule, but not here. The songs on “Swarming Season” aren’t long and sticking to single-figures in terms of song number is good. Breathe Soundless Light is subtly mid-paced with an overbearing sense of dread flowing though it. Nothing outstays it’s welcome, while the rage grows more evident. From there it’s onto the grinding madness of Sleep Deprived. This song describes how I felt for the majority of last weeks, both in title and in texture and it’s not pretty. Fast insanity with the kind of intense progression that marks Geist out as a contender for the top-tier (sorry if that’s too much praise). 

Election Day harnesses the ill feeling that’s been aimed at our Government of late and it continues in the same belligerent vein as Sleep Deprived, except for the dread-filled final bars that come complete with super-heavy sludgy riffs. The screams that help kick off Silent Hive are almost blood curdling. There’s no way you could be prepared for them and they fit the song perfectly. Again, it’s a mid-paced song that seems to crawl along at a simple but claustrophobic tempo. It suits the heaviness though and is truly disparate.

It’s left to the final two songs to hammer home Geist’s modus-operandi on “Swarming Season” and Kennel Cough goes straight for the jugular before retreating back with Primitive Man-style guitar work. They don’t stick to that pace for long though and banish it with more angular hardcore and PV-esque insanity. Buried Language is more of the same and rounds out the album as breathlessly as when it started. The production/mixing/mastering helps make “Swarming Season” come to life in ways that other albums can’t and in turn helps it become one that will stick in your mind and ears for a long time. Awesome.

You can stream Sleep Deprived prior to the full release via Geist's bandcamp page below:-

CD/Digital pre-orders can by purchased from Cursed Monk Records here - 

Wednesday 7 August 2019

Seventeen Again - Invoke

Labels: Black Lake Records/The Ghost Is Clear Records/Zegema Beach Records
Formats: Vinyl/Digital
Release Date: 15 Feb 2014 (Digital)/14 Jun 2014 (Vinyl)


1. Between The Lines
2. Around The Edges
3. Trevelyn
4. When In Rome
5. When In Hell
6. Cure Light Wounds
7. Billy Yank
8. Johnny Reb
9. Soak Up The Sun

It's been a while since I've done one of these reviews (and a little less of a while since I've done a review full stop). I'm getting back on the Zegema Beach Records roster horse and focusing this review on the only album to come from Michigan (USA) punk/hardcore band Seventeen Again. It was released by Black Lake Records (UK), The Ghost Is Clear Records (USA) and Zegema Beach Records (Canada) back in 2014 on vinyl, as well as digitally by the labels and by Seventeen Again themselves. They're no longer a functioning band but their members play in other bands.

Frustration doesn’t even come close to describing how this month has gone so far. I’ve not written anywhere near as much as I would have liked, though I really need to stop putting too much pressure on myself in that department. Some fast hardcore/punk and green tea should help be get over that though, at least for a time. This is fast hardcore and opening song Between The Lines barely lasts over a minute. It’s angular hardcore with off-kilter percussion and near-hysterical screams, so if you were wanting chuggy tough-guy stuff, look elsewhere. 

Seventeen Again is definitely more false-grind/emo-violence in posture than the hardcore tag would suggest and Around The Edges is abrasive and emotive in equal measure. The music’s also incredibly bass-heavy and it’s more obvious on Trevelyn, as the low-rumble accentuates the low vocal growls. Things get weird on When In Rome, which is slower in tempo but also more experimental. It stops on a dime and gives way to When In Hell, which is a really apt follow-up (let’s face it, most big cities are hell). It has a rock vibe to it though and also minimalist in approach and structure at points. 

You’re past the mid-way point when Cure Light Wounds comes into view and it’s another rager, with no time for breath or soft soothing tones. The second half of “Invoke” is also where Seventeen Again spread their musical wings a little, by writing and playing longer songs like Billy Yank. From the lengthy to the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it as penultimate song Johnny Reb’s moody overtones fly by in less than sixty-seconds and lead you to album closer Soak Up The Sun, which is anything but sunny in disposition. There is melody in it though, but like the rest of “invoke”, it’s subtle and surrounded by dissonance. 

So what if this is album is a few years old by now and Seventeen Again isn’t active, “Invoke” is still a lot of fun to listen to and escape everyday life with. Though I’m not sure I’d actually want to be seventeen again!

You can grab "Invoke" as a free-download from Seventeen Again's bandcamp page below:-

You can still get vinyl copies from the labels below:-

The Ghost Is Clear Records -

The Ghost Is Clear Records -

Thursday 1 August 2019

Perverticon - Wounds Of Divinity

Labels: Iron Bonehead Productions
Formats: Vinyl/CD/Digital
Release Date: 25 Jan 2019


1. Thirsting For Ruin
2. An Absence Of All But Ashes
3. Cold Embrace Of Sanctity
4. The Cease Of Absolution
5. Divine Amusement For Pitiless God
6. The Apostates Communion
7. Breath Of Sulphur/Aura Of Flies
8. Extracorporeal Climax
9. Holy Gifts From Skinless Hands

This night belongs to Swedish black metal band Perverticon. This anti-religious, belligerent trio has been polluting clean minds for over eight years now. They released their demo back in 2013 and swiftly followed it with their debut album "Extinguishing The Flame Of Life" via Mordgrimm, before five years of silence. They returned at the turn of the year with their newest album "Wounds Of Divinity", this time released via the mighty Iron Bonehead Productions. I am late to this but it's better late than never.

Perverticon’s own formulation of black metal is scarily bleak and unforgiving. The instrumentation sits high up in the mix on Thirsting For Ruin, with the wretched screams lying deep below at least during the opening two minutes. When the vocals come to the fore, they are equally as hellish, while the percussion blasts away at speed. The riffs are melodic but unnerving at the same time, with a nod to Swedish metal masters gone by. The metallic wonderment of An Absence Of All But Ashes is plain to hear, as Perverticon strides on with no mercy for anybody or anything,. Vocalist/Drummer Omnicremationist Supreme does an incredible job of combining both duties, while guitarists Uncleanest Invictus and Necrosadistic Elite (who also delivers bass) add their own tortured signatures to the album.

Even the truest of believers will be dragged into the depths of hell thanks to Cold Embrace Of Sanctity. It reminds you of how hollow the devout are and in doing so, teaches you not to follow the flock. Powerful and endearing to the ears of those who wish to take the left hand path. There’s a hypnotising feeling that washes over you during The Cease Of Absolution. It’s not as if Perverticon are trying to brainwash you and their message isn’t as much subliminal as it is liminal. They just have a knack when it comes to writing extremely good and catchy black metal. There’s literally no let up during “Wounds Of Divinity” and Divine Amusement For Pitiless God just fuels the flames even more with blasphemic lyrics and a constant barrage from the guitars and drums. It’s more barbaric than ambient but it still has plenty of atmosphere. 

Perverticon are at their most urgent as they launch headfirst into The Apostates Communion, as the first verse is filled with double-bass that borders on inhuman, before the tempo settles down into more sedate territory (briefly). There’s no single approach from the band, as they switch tempos up and down depending on the mood and in turn create truly listenable music. The second half of the record is more urgent as a whole and Breath Of Sulphur/Aura Of Flies is slightly more avant-garde than the songs before it (if that’s the correct way to describe it). It’s a tad more off-kilter and the riffs are again more metallic and treble-laden. It bears all the hallmarks of a Swedish band but one that’s clearly enjoying their music. 

Penultimate song Extracorporeal Climax is a mighty song that shows off both their technical and song-writing prowess very effectively. It’s over before you know it and as it ends, the haunting choral singing of Holy Gifts From Skinless Hands greets you. It’s a really well placed sample that gives way to the most furious black metal on “Wounds Of Divinity”. It rounds out a record that’s got everything you want when it comes to black metal. The musical maturity is on full show and Perverticon proves that they are more than ready to step up to higher eschelons. Excellent.

You can stream "Wounds Of Divinity" and purchase it on all formats below via Iron Bonehead Productions -