Friday, 18 September 2020

Yusuke/Lori - Split 12"


Labels: Friendly Otter/La Agonia De Vivir/Off Cloud Nine/Zegema Beach Records

Formats: Vinyl/Digital

Release Date: 03 Nov 2014


Tracklist:


1. Yusuke - If I Had A Quarter For Every Time Your Were Inconsistent

2. Yusuke - Petals And Thorns

3. Yusuke - Home Is Where The Heart Is, So Consider Me A Zombie

4. Lori - Le Taza Medio Llena

5. Lori - Cada Vez Que Te Levantes Antes De Las 6 AM

6. Lori - Coherencia


It's been a long day and one that's made me appreciate time away from people. It's not been a terribly productive week blog-wise but hey ho. This evening I want to try and keep with a promise I made to myself, which was to make my Zegema Beach Records reviews a weekly thing. With that in mind, I'm writing about the 12" split release between US band Yusuke and Peru's Lori, which was released back in November 2014. I know that Yusuke is no longer active but Lori still seems to be, so focusing some time on this split is still more than worth it to me.


Another reason I like writing this series of reviews is because it exposes me to bands I’ve never heard before and both Yusuke, and Lori count amongst those bands. Yusuke’s take on emo/screamo is beautiful but chaotic on opener ‘If I Had A Quarter For Every Time You Were Inconsistent’. A mix of spoken-word vox and torturous screams, dreamy melodic guitar and violent drumming.


‘Petal And Thorns’ presents itself with glorious orchestration and calming instrumentation, including what sounds like a Glockenspiel. It’s a fully instrumental piece that leads you into Yusuke’s final song here, ‘Home Is Where The Heart is, So Consider Me A Zombie’, which again plays on the band’s cinematic approach to emoviolence. At times hyperactive and at others reassuring. 


Lori’s sound on this split is equally as engaging, with ‘La Taza Medio Llena’ sounding really organic and raw but embodying what makes screamo great. The echo on the vocals, the promptness of the percussion and the treble-led riffs all deliver here.


‘Cada Vez Que Te Levantes Antes De Las 6 AM’ is a mid-paced bruiser of a song, moodily delivered with those harsh vocals and a nod to post-punk as well. It flows straight into their last song ‘Coherencia’ and in doing so reminds me of some of my favourites Japanese post-hardcore. It fascinates me how bands from different corners of the world can nail down a sound while still being unique and original, which is definitely case with Lori. 


Both Yusuke and Lori are so moreish (and before anybody asks, no I don’t count Crack as I disagree with hard drugs). The juxtaposition between violence and beauty is alive and plain to hear on this split. A short but brilliant release.


You can stream and purchase the split digitally via the link below:-



Physical copies are still available via the below links:-


Zegema Beach Records (CAD/INTL) - http://www.zegemabeachrecords.com/zegema-beach-releases/yusuke-lri-split-12-1


Friendly Otter - https://www.facebook.com/friendlyotterrex/

La Agonia De Vivir - https://www.facebook.com/laagoniadevivir.records/

Off Cloud Nine - http://offcloudnine-label.blogspot.com

Zegema Beach Records - https://www.facebook.com/zegemabeachrecords/

Saturday, 12 September 2020

Polymoon - Caterpillars Of Creation


Labels: Svart Records

Formats: Vinyl/CD/Digital

Release Date: 04 Sep 2020


Tracklist:


1. Silver Mountain

2. Lazaward

3. Malamalama

4. Helicaling

5. Neitherworld

6. Metempsychosis


Life has a funny way of throwing you off, of testing your resolve and of playing with your mind.  It does force you start making some decisions (often ones that need to be made). I continue to be as positive as possible though, as nothing comes from being a miserable twat. A part of staying positive for me is being able to immerse myself in interesting, challenging and often heavy music. It's definitely a form of escapism, and as I (seriously) consider taking up meditation, I'm drawn to Finnish psych/prog/space rock band Polymoon and their debut album Caterpillars Of Creation, which was released visa Svart Record earlier this month. As I love Finnish bands in general, this excites me.


I know that this is very much on the lighter side of what I feature on here, but dissonance and breakdowns can only hold my attention for so long. Polymoon is a heavy band, but only when they want to be and I’d consider them more thought-provoking. Album opener ‘Silver Mountain’ is a mix of earthy melodic guitar, careful drums and calming vocals, interspersed by post-rock riffs. Imagine if Cult Of Luna discovered world music and collaborated with Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra. Actually, that would be pretty rad!


The space-rock influence is way more prevalent during ‘Lazaward’ than before and the retro sound/feel of the song really grabs you and transports you back to Woodstock’s gone by. It’s an incredible piece of music that goes through different movements and emotions, while still being one cohesive whole and that heavier crescendo towards the end is great. 


There’s a prime opportunity to appreciate Polymoon’s instrumentation on ‘Malamalama’, where it truly takes centre stage. It’s a great rock song with vocals that reside deep in it’s core and don’t overpower it. There’s something really uplifting about this release and as extra layers are added by swathes of keyboards and mellotrons (possibly?), psychedelia appears in front of you in the form of colours and shapes. It’s that transformative!


‘Helicaling’ is a lot more sinister, with a really pulsating percussive attack and a lot more feedback and vocal reverb. It’s mid-section is introspective but no less immersive, with the constant threat of that noisy edge returning. It’s quite a challenging listen given the relative calm and thoughtful restraint of the album so far.


You’re treated to a mix of both sides of Polymoon on ‘Neitherworld’, which offers a true glimpse into the instrumental wizardry that this band possesses. It was never without question anyway but here it’s at it’s progressive best and while the vocals really complement and add to the album, escaping into the layers of this song is a really joyous feeling. Towards the conclusion, it crashes head on into an abrupt wall of noise that shocks the senses, before silence and mysterious ambience delivers you to the album’s finale.


‘Metempsychosis’ is the perfect way to end with a much more subtle and relaxing tone. Excellent lead work sits up top here and again, Polymoon’s earthiness and cinematic vibes take hold, rounding out an album that will bring hope to those who think the year is lost, in various ways. A fantastic record, from a really incredible band. Hats off to Svart Records for this discovery. More please!


You can stream and purchase Caterpillars Of Creation below:-



You can buy physical copies from Svart Records here - https://svartrecords.com/product/polymoon-caterpillars-of-creation-album/


Svart Records - https://www.facebook.com/svartrecords/

Thursday, 10 September 2020

Cement Shoes - A Love Story of Drugs & Rock & Roll & Drugs 7"


Labels: Drunken Sailor Records

Formats: Vinyl/Digital

Release Date: 29 May 2020


Tracklist: 


1. Smashed On Glass

2. Knocked Into The Reptile Enclosure

3. Going Off The Grid


I just opened a beer and out of nowhere it decided to explode all over me. All I can smell is honeycomb as well (it was a honeycomb pale ale, don't ask!). Anyway, stickiness aside I'm here with a review of another Drunken Sailor Records related 7", this time from Richmond (Virginia, USA) band Cement Shoes. They have been very prolific since their formation, releasing a demo, three EPs and an album in little over three years. This 7" EP is their latest and was released in May.


The improvised Universal Studios intro to 7” opener ‘Smashed In Glass’ is a stroke of genius and it announces Cement Shoes in the best fashion here. This is great hardcore-punk with a cracking upbeat tempo, garage-punk attitude and riffs aplenty. The percussion could sit right in any 80s punk band while the vocals are a mix of harsh and feedback-laced spoken word. 


‘Knocked Into The Reptile Enclosure’ again shows the band’s sense of humour and their ability to inject fun into their music. There’s something here for any fan of hardcore, punk and even power-pop. It’s not just senseless noise and it’s definitely not sloppy, Cement Shoes are a band brimming with musicality and some really clever song-writing to boot.


EP closer ‘Going Of The Grid’ is a bit of a mid-paced rocker, with off-kilter instrumentation and a mood that’s more akin to post-punk and even Americana, in a subtle way. It’s hard to put a handle on bands that they sound like, so I’m not going to try, this is entertaining enough anyway. 


All in all this is a really cool EP from a band with a real sense of imagination and a clear enjoyment for what they do. They may be glorifying drugs (tongue in cheek or not) but punk was never supposed to be vanilla. 


A Love Story Of Drugs & Rock & Roll & Drugs is available to stream and as a free download below:-



You can buy vinyl copies from Drunken Sailor Records here - 

http://www.drunkensailorrecords.co.uk/products/667276-cement-shoes-a-love-story-of-drugs-rock-roll-drugs-7-drunken-sailor-records-drunkensailor


Drunken Sailor Records - https://www.facebook.com/DrunkenSailorRecords/

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Inexorum - Moonlit Navigation



Labels: Gilead Media

Formats: Vinyl/CD/Digital

Release Date: 26 Jun 2020


Tracklist: 


1. Ouroboric State

2. Moonlit Navigation

3. Dream And Memory

4. Chains Of Loss

5. Signal Fires

6. The Breaking Point

7. Wild Magic

8. In Desperate Times


I never intended for last week to be so quiet on the blog front, but that's just how it pans out sometimes. The universe balances out eventually though and I couldn't stay away any longer. This evening I'm choosing to write about a semi-newish release from US melodic black/death metal duo Inexorum. Moonlit Navigation is the band's second full-length, coming just two years after the release of their debut Lore Of The Lakes. Both albums were released via Gilead Media.


I really need some escapism this evening, as things really got to me yesterday. Today’s been much better but there is such a thing as too much. Thankfully, Inexorum’s melodic black metal is a thing of beauty indeed and album opener ‘Ouroboric State’ mixes ice cold USBM with metal riffing and leads that borrow from the NWOAHM. The percussion is as intense as anything I’ve heard this year, while the bass rumbles below the vocals that mix demonic growls with occasional clean singing. This is way more than just another black/death record.


The title-track ‘Moonlit Navigation’ picks up where those riffs left-off, adding in a deceptively mid-paced tempo that’s so effective. There are elements of Scandi melodic death metal (like Insomnium and Amon Amarth) in places but unlike the latter of those two, Inexorum doesn’t go too far. The duo keeps focus, employing dual-vocals to a great extent and subtle keyboard tones, all crafted together to make the song seem a lot longer than it actually is, in a good way.


The pace gets turned up once again on ‘Dream And Memory,’ which balances the raw with the well-produced. Don’t get me wrong, this album isn’t going to attract the mainstream radio masses but it has a real quality to it that’s engaging and ever so listenable. Thus proving that extreme metal needn’t be noise for noise sake. There’s a clear heavy metal vibe flowing through Inexorum’s music, with the twin-guitar melodies that open up ‘Chains Of Loss’  bringing Khemmis to mind. The duo continues to punctuate the driving black/death with those guitars throughout and the texture adds so much to the song, turning it from just another extreme metal song into one that’s punishing but also musically enchanting.


‘Signal Fires’ is a heady mix of the aforementioned Scandi-inspired structures and punk. The tempos during the opening bars are very upbeat and there’s no let-up as you progress further into it, with the drums carrying the pace with such intensity that’s it hard to imagine any human being able to perform that way for that long, but Carl Skildum does and with ease. The rest of the music more than matches the percussion as well and it’s not til the final sixty-seconds that Inexorum eases the madness, albeit for a short time.


‘The Breaking Point’ is an aptly titled song because it will either make or break you as a listener. If you thought the pace of ‘Signal Fires’ was as fast as the band goes, you’re wrong as grinding blackness takes over amid treble-led riffs and deep bass/growls, all wrestling for room. Matthew Kirkwold’s keys provide a sinister edge to it all and while it’s not progressive necessarily, the song’s mid-section does feel that way thanks to the introspective passage and solo-guitar. Just as you’re settling into it though, the mood changes again as does the power. The additional clean vocals of Sarah Roddy are glorious as well. Once again enchanting.


Penultimate song ‘Wild Magic’ is an acoustic piece that provides some respite and a sense of emotion that hangs overhead, before ‘In Desperate Times’ snaps you out of it abruptly with one final blast of black/death metal, as do the added vocals from Tanner Anderson. It rounds out a quite brilliant album that blends so many genres and textures together. It’s both emotional and empowering. You wouldn’t think it was only Inexorum’s second ever release.


You can stream Moonlit Navigation and buy it all formats below:-



Inexorum - https://www.facebook.com/inexorum/


Physical copies and other merch can also be purchased from Gilead Media here - https://gileadmedia.net.


Gilead Media - https://www.facebook.com/gileadmedia/

Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Sore Eyelids - For Now


Labels: Protagonist Music/Tell Wilhelm Records/Through Love Records/Zegema Beach Records

Formats: Vinyl/Digital

Release Date: 14 Dec 2014


Tracklist:


1. Remain

2. Leaving

3. Awake

4. Waste

5. For Now

6. En Plats I Ditt Hjarta


ZBR's love affair with Swedish bands has already been covered by Dave's 'Out Past The Rings' Youtube series, so there isn't much more for me to say on the subject except it was a match made in heaven. This  second full-length from Sore Eyelids and it saw the light of day on a physical medium in December of 2004. Sore Eyelids, by their own admission, played a mix of shoegaze/indie/emo and still to this day mean so much to fans of screamo/emo in general. 


One thing that did confuse me when preparing for this review was that the song lengths on their bandcamp page differ to those on the pages of the labels that helped release the records. Did the songs get mixed up on release or just on the respective bandcamp pages? If someone could help explain this, that would be great! For the sake of this piece, I'm going to review directly from the Sore Eyelids bandcamp page.


I’m not entirely sure if the song order and lengths are correct, but I’m rolling with it as it’s the band’s page and they should be accurate right? Whether they are or not, it really doesn’t matter though as Sore Eyelids make you forgot about any insignificant details with their gloriously melodic emo/indie on album opener ‘Remain’. The recording affords the vocals plenty of space, even when they’re encased by the instrumentation. The percussion and guitar work is really soothing yet it also contains glimpses of heaviness. Given that the band features members of Suis La Lune amongst it’s ranks, that’s not entirely surprising. 


Following that expansive opener, ‘Leaving’ feels brief but the band’s use of instrumentation and subtle vocals mean that it’s still an emotional ride that need not end, although it does rather abruptly, leading to the off-kilter intro of ‘Apart’. That style carries on throughout the song, taking it in a more art-punk sort of direction (I guess!). It’s strange to hear a band on the ZBR roster that has clean vocals, even following their association with fellow Swedes I Love Your Lifestyle, but it’s welcome indeed.


Ambience is also a big part of the Sore Eyelids sound, although it doesn’t get used often. ‘Waste’ is a lot more accessible than you might expect, drawing comparisons to one big US indie band (The Killers?) in the vocal department. There’s also a nod to Cave In thanks to the loverly guitar riffs during the song’s louder moments. Again, they are only comparisons and they don’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, especially when the music is this good on it’s own.


It’s taken until the title-track ‘For Now’ to make me realise that this is the kind of emo that I’ve been missing. I felt these kind of goosebumps when listening to Russia’s Ensslin, and even though they’re subtly different musically, Sore Eyelids definitely tugs at the same feels. Closer ‘En Plats I Ditt Hjarta’ brings For Now to a serene end with a laidback display of articulate and thoughtful song-writing and performance. 


This album was released nearly six years ago now but time is immemorial (I feel like I’ve said that before!). I really need to invest in this album and more from the Sore Eyelids back catalogue. If you haven’t heard this band or for some reason they’ve bypassed you, this is a great starting point. Even the blackest of souls will be touched by it.


You can stream For Now and download it (name-your-price) via the Sore Eyelids bandcamp page below:-



Sore Eyelids - https://www.facebook.com/soreeyelids/


Physical copies are sold out from all labels.


Protagonist Music - https://www.facebook.com/ProtagonistMusic/

Tell Wilhelm Records - https://www.facebook.com/tellwilhelmrecords/

Through Love Records - https://www.facebook.com/ThroughLoveRec/

Zegema Beach Records - https://www.facebook.com/zegemabeachrecords/

Monday, 31 August 2020

Astarium - Hyperborea


Labels: GrimmDistribution/Gravações Tunguska

Formats: CD/Digital

Release Date: 18 Apr 2020


Tracklist:


1. Mysterious Fog

2. The Wild Hunt

3. Doomed

4. Halls Of Winter Gods

5. When The Proud Die

6. Snow Storm

7. Sign Of Cosmic Might

8. For The King!

9. Battle Glory

10. Daughter Of Imir

11. Red Rose

12. Kill To Survive

13. Carpathian Windspirit

14. Curse From The Past

15. Lucky Bastard

16. Zhothaqquah


Diving back into the review pile revealed this, the 8th (and newest) full-length from Russia's symphonic/ambient black metal band Astarium. A familiar band to those who have been following this blog over the years. Hyperborea was recorded a couple of years ago before being self-released in March 2019. It has since been released on CD via GrimmDistribution (Ukraine) and Gravações Tunguska (Portugal). Astarium has always been an intriguing project for me, as in spite of being very productive, the creativity put into it by sole member SiN has always shone through.


This album contains sixteen songs, of which four are ambient/instrumental numbers like album opener ‘Mysterious Fog’. That may not seem like a positive statement to begin a review with,  but I’ll expand on it later on.


‘The Wild Hunt’ typifies Astarium’s approach to synth-led black metal. To some it may be an acquired taste, but it’s charm is unmistakable and here SiN provides a song that’s certainly more fun and avant-garde than normal thanks to the melodic keys and faster tempo.’ Doomed’ comes at you with a heavy dose of industrial atmosphere and majestic power from the powerful horn/orchestral tones that exist in between the brief guitar passages. 


When Astarium focuses it’s energy on slower songs, it show/s a completely different side to the band. ‘Halls Of Winter Gods’ is one such song and the lengthy opening passage makes you think that something mournful and slow is around the corner, but what it actually reveals and a mid-paced folk/black metal song that’s very well put together.


The mind is often misunderstood, especially when it comes to creatives and that’s definitely the case here. The tracks here follow on from each other well but also seem to be independent of each other, as if they were composed at random points during Astarium’s tenure (they possibly were) and then put together quickly to form this album. ‘When The Proud Die’ is an oddly meandering but short piece of black metal, which leads to ‘Snow Storm’, which provides somewhat of an escape thanks to it’s melody.


There’s a more accessible feeling about ‘Sign Of Cosmic Might’, mainly down to it’s structure and nod towards alternative music as well as just extreme metal. At least that’s how it comes across to me anyway. Feel free to tell me I’m talking rubbish here! Next up is another folk/medieval led song in the form of ‘For The King!’, which is also one the longest present on the album. In parts it’s mystical, while still being a challenging listen in same way that Norway’s Fleurety can be.


The instrumental interlude ‘Battle Glory’ retains the odd momentum that the album has, thanks to the use of upbeat tempos again and an air of fantasy. Brilliant played organ and woven samples make ‘Daughter Of Imir’ an obvious standout on Hyperborea. It sounds more accomplished and well rounded alongside the stirring guitar work and sensitive use of vocals throughout.


The brief chaos of ‘Red Rose’ that follows is a bit of a shock. I say that only because ‘Daughter Of Imir’ was such a complete song. Thankfully, ‘Kill To Survive’ brings that feeling back with whale-song and a cosmic atmosphere that’s as sinister as it is tuneful. The rest of the song is filled with Astarium’s signature ambient black metal.


The percussion on ‘Carpathian Windspirit’ takes centre stage, pulling the interlude through to it’s conclusion before ‘Curse From The Past’ fills the speakers with more upbeat extremity once again, though the constant melody that flows through it really does draw your ear in. Penultimate song ‘Lucky Bastard’ sounds like it could have been conceived during the writing of 2013’’s From The Cleaved Old Coffin, which contained two forty-second songs in very much the same vein.


Closing with ‘Zhothaqquah’, a song that draws in so many elements of Astarium’s creativity, it’s hard to deny that Hyperborea is a worthy album. Going back to my initial statement about those unmentioned songs (which are instrumental interludes), I was going to say that following my look over the album’s booklet, only twelve full songs are listed and therefore; those added instrumental songs may not have been needed; however, now that I’ve listened to the album in full, I really appreciate them. 


Even though at times it feels slightly disjointed, Hyperborea is a fascinating listen and it highlights moments from different parts of Astarium’s recording career, in the same way that compilations do for other bands. I’m not sure whether that was intended but it works all the same. 


You can stream and purchase Hyperborea digitally below:-



Astarium - https://www.facebook.com/astariumofficial/


Physical copies can be purchased via the link below:-


GrimmDistribution - https://grimmdistribution.bandcamp.com/


Grimmdistribution - https://www.facebook.com/grimmdistribution/

Gravações Tunguska - https://tunguskarec.blogspot.com

Thursday, 27 August 2020

Amid The Old Wounds - Vignette 7"


Labels: Time As A Color

Formats: Vinyl/Digital

Release Date: 07 Aug 2020


Tracklist:


1. Vignette

2. Great Expectations

3 Instant Stars (Demo)


I have a ton of new music in physical formats to listen to and this 7" EP from Amid The Old Wounds is just one. Long time friend and awesomely creative musician/human being Daniel (also of Duct Hearts and Wishes On A Plane) sent me this a little while ago. The EP was released in early August by Time As A Color Records and was pressed onto 200 copies, 150 on black and 50 on clear purple vinyl, and was housed in a screen-printed card sleeve with a folder insert and centre labels featuring the heart above. The music contained within the grooves is acoustic emo. 


It’s been a strange day and I found no rhythm whatsoever while at work, so relaxation was well and truly needed. No heavy music this evening, instead the soothing melodic tones of Amid The Old Wounds and EP opening song ‘Vignette’, which is a quietly played and very moving. It allows for plenty of reflection, which is sometimes lost during the pace of modern life.


As this period of 2020 has taught many of us, life is fragile and sometimes slowing down is good. We’re all stuck in routine and taking a step back can be a great thing. It struck me while listening to ‘Great Expectations’ that there’s an element of that within the recording and it perhaps helped to shape the artistic process that Daniel went through.


EP closer ‘Instant Stars’ is a demo version and it’s short but sweet. Both the layered acoustic guitar and the gentle vocals bring a swathe a calm across you when listening and leaves you blissfully wanting more. People’s ingenuity and creativity has come to the fore during the recent uncertainty and none more so than here. Amid The Old Wounds warms the coldest of corners.


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



Physical copies can be purchased here - https://timeasacolor.com/amid-the-old-wounds-vignette-7/


Also, if that wasn't enough of a reason to visit Time As A Color, the label is also selling skateboarding accessories and shoes too.


Time As A Color - https://www.facebook.com/timeasacolor/

Thursday, 20 August 2020

Wicked Sisters - wired_backwards

 


Labels: Self-Released

Formats: Digital

Release Date: 13 Aug 2020


Tracklist:


1. D.O.G

2. straightrazor

3. Advanced Delusionary Schizophrenia (withvoluntarynarcissisticrage)


It still blows my mind when bands from as far away as Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia get in touch. Sydney's Wicked Sisters contacted me a little while ago, via bassist/vocalist Sam, whom I've known for a while. He told me that the band was due to release a new EP and wanted me to check it out. Wicked Sisters play some kind of doom/industrial/metal hybrid, so here's the 411.


If the cover art with it’s darkness bathed in blue light tells you anything, it’s that Wicked Sisters don’t take the usual approach to their music and EP opener ‘D.O.G’ is a proper mix of heavy doom and clinical industrial. Guitar/bass riffs that make you stop dead, precise drumming that’s both heavy and catchy, vocals that register amongst the deepest darkest depths and sci-fi inspired samples all add up, 


It’s followed by the bizarre ‘straightrazor’, which uses more electronics and ambient noise. The vocals seem to repeat over and over, and before you know it you’re lost in some kind of hellish waking nightmare.


EP closer ‘Advanced Delusionary Schizophrenia (withinvoluntarynarcissisticrage)’ is really upbeat and would suit any basement goth/dance club, at least during the opening bars anyway. Following that initial flourish is an introspective piano-led section before Wicked Sisters once again more towards twisted, psychedelic doom. It’s unlike any type of doom I’ve heard before, which I guess in the whole point. 


Wicked Sisters present something out of left field, while being catchy and heavy. wired_backwards is a really good EP that’s well worth a listen. If you’re stuck in a rut with the same old bands then look no further.


You can stream and purchase wired_backwards digitally below:-



Wicked Sisters - https://www.facebook.com/wickedsistersmusic/

Monday, 17 August 2020

Beggar - Compelled To Repeat


Labels: APF Records

Formats: Vinyl/CD/Tape/Digital

Release Date: 03 Apr 2020


Tracklist:


1. Blood Moon

2. Anaesthete

3. The Cadaver Speaks

4. Black Cloud

5. Trepanned Head Stares At The Sun

6. Custody Of The Eyes

7. Tenantless The Graves

8. Matryoshka Brain

9. Compelled To Repeat


London's sludge metal quartet Beggar is one band that I've followed for some time and have written about a few times. Getting the opportunity to review multiple EPs by the band, include Beggar II, Shingles + House Of Man, Caramel Cigarette and Chainscraper over the years underlined how much talent this band has, so getting the chance to review the band's debut album is a treat (apologies for the delay). It was released back in April on multiple formats by the ever growing and flourishing APF Records.


I don’t think I’ve ever heard Beggar sounding this heavy before. Compelled To Repeat is their debut album and they’ve put everything into it. Opener ‘Blood Moon’ is a mixture of outright heaviness and. Impressive musicality. Extreme in the vocal department, like a cross between Crowbar and Scour but at the same time so much more, while the instrumentation seems to have it’s own agenda and doesn’t just back-up the vocals. The volume of the recording and the mastering of Jame Plotkin really brings everything to life.


Groove and blues are woven into ‘Anaesthete’, making it sound very hypnotic, at least until the downright evil shrieks take hold. At times, black metal and avant-garde influences seep in and that’s no bad thing at all. It’s little wonder this album has already garnered so much positive press following it’s release. Even so early into this album, there’s so much to get lost in and ‘The Cadaver Speaks’ flies by in no time at all. It’s so hard to explain why the song hits the spot so well without repeating myself, so I’m not going to. So far, Beggar seems to have got the song-writing and lengths right, without needing to be overblown and in doing so, they gain more impact.


Nothing’s too fast but neither is it too slow. ‘Black Cloud’ is probably one of the sludgiest numbers but it’s also one of the most rocking, and you’ll understand why when you listen to it. The guitars take the lead throughout while the vocals sit deeper in the mix, jostling for position alongside the considerable low-end and percussive battery. So fucking good so far! There’s room for a cinematic intro on ‘Trepanned Head Stares At The Sun’ but if you were expecting some meandering post-rock, you’re gonna be a little disappointed when the melodic riffs disappear to reveal bursts of blasting extremity that’s more akin to grind. Thankfully, Beggar has the skill to temper that ferocity with said melody to create one of the highlights of the album so far.


The second half of Compelled To Repeat begins with the short interlude ‘Custody Of The Eyes’, which breaks up the intensity for a moment before leading you into ‘Tenantless The Graves’, which does completely the opposite. Back comes the heaviness and with it, no hiding place. Stop/start off-kilter vibes follow on penultimate slugger ‘Matryoshka Brain’, which includes a really great guitar solo very early on. It’s an excellent example of sludge taken to it’s more experimental reaches. It’s epic throughout.


Ending with the title track ‘Compelled To Repeat’, Beggar goes for the jugular one final time and it’s a glorious demise for anyone listening. It underlines how disturbing yet articulate this album is and how far Beggar has come in a relatively short space of time. The sound is even more extreme here and yet so fulfilling musically. If for some crazy reason you still haven’t listened to this record yet, do yourself a favour and do it now. 


You can stream Compelled To Repeat as well as purchase it on vinyl, cd and digital formats (tapes have sold out) below:-



Beggar - https://www.facebook.com/beggarband/


Copies are also available from APF Records here:- https://www.apfrecords.co.uk/


APF Records - https://www.facebook.com/apfrecords/

Saturday, 15 August 2020

Serpent Eater - Vanitas


Labels: Alerta Antifascista Records//Wooaaargh Records/7 Degrees Records

Formats: Vinyl/Download

Release Date: 25 Jan 2020


Tracklist:


1. Echo Chamber

2. Hook Blind

3. Ten Floors Down

4. Hypnos

5. Dead Spiritualist Silent

6. Dunkelziffer

7. Lurking Fear


Well, we've all made it to the end of another week. In spite of everything the world is throwing at us right now, we are resilient. That's why the subject of tonight's review is so fitting. Enter Cologne (Germany's) Serpent Eater, who released their third full-length Vanitas in January of this year, via Alerta Antifascista Records, Wooaaargh Record and 7 Degrees Records respectively. Serpent Eater stands for all that is good in the world and is here to crush everything that threatens the creation of a more harmonious society.


It seems my neighbours are shouting at each other again, which is always great! Let’s see if I can drown them out with some more intelligent sounds. Serpent Eater call themselves black punk and I think that’s pretty apt, though opening song ‘Echo Chamber’ is very much more black than punk. Shrieked and low-growled vocals exist alongside black metal instrumentation, including melodic but menacing guitars, pummelling drums and choral synths. All good so far!


‘Hook Blind’ comes at you almost instantly after the close of ‘Echo Chamber’ and it’s sub two-minute length means that there’s no time for messing around. Dissonance, crust and feedback all lay waste to any chance of a mental and physical rest. In fact, there isn’t much of a gap between any of the songs on Vanitas and that’s certainly a good thing when it comes to the momentum of the album. ‘Ten Floors Down’ begins with a post-rock/metal intro that suddenly bursts into more doom-filled black metal. It’s another uncomfortably warm evening here and this record isn’t making it any more bearable (in a good way). 


One thing’s for sure, the sound on here is certainly engrossing and ‘Hypnos’ is a stunning piece of mid-paced extreme metal with plenty of majestic lead-work, it’s not especially long but that doesn’t matter, because it’s full of atmosphere and genuine musical craft. Following like the proverbial mammal out of hell, ‘Dead Spiritualist Silent’ once again grows wings and flies forth with bucket loads of low-end. It’s the perfect precursor to the album’s final two songs, both of which are long players. ‘Dunkelziffer’ is just a more drawn-out version of what’s come before but it’s worthy of a lot more praise for being as progressive as it is.


Album closer ‘Lurking Fear’ initially heralds a more death/doom-like sound with slow riffs and wailing feedback, but you know something colder is around the corner and sure enough Serpent Eater’s cavernous black metal adds to the already dank atmosphere of the song. As finisher’s go, this is damn solid and reminds my of the horrible sounds that emanated from the likes of Meth Drinker (RIP) and Leechfeast, more than any black metal band I can think of at this point. The latter half of ‘Lurking Fear’ picks up the pace and rolls forth with a more black ’n roll vibe, albeit without being as cheesy.


This is a really good album from a band that favours song-writing and atmosphere over gimmicks and fashion. They sit perfectly amongst the Alerta Antifascista roster too. While 2020 continues to throw up challenges and disarray, Vanitas provides not only the soundtrack but also a moment of clarity where you remember that you can’t control everything, so you might as well just roll with it.


You can stream and grab Vanitas as a name-your-price download from Serpent Eater below:-



Serpent Eater - https://www.facebook.com/SerpentEater/


Physical copies can be purchased from the labels below:-


Alerta Antifascista Records - https://doomrock.com/alerta-antifascista-records

Wooaaargh Records - http://www.wooaaargh.com

7 Degrees Records - https://www.7degrees-records.de/shop/7degrees-releases/


Alerta Antifascista Records - https://www.facebook.com/Alerta-Antifascista-Records-official

Wooaaargh Records - https://www.facebook.com/WOOAAARGH/

7 Degrees Records - https://www.facebook.com/7DegreesRecords/