Thursday 30 April 2020

Irillion - Fatanyu


Labels: Self-Released
Formats: Digital
Release Date: 30 Oct 2019

Tracklist:

1. Fatanyu
2. Belzoond
3. Meneltarma

South America, the homeland of a certain Mr. Paucar Toledo (well known rip-off merchant in extreme metal circles). So much so that he gives zines a really bad name, due to his constant begging for physical review material and the like. Bands and fans alike, beware!  Thankfully, it's also the homeland of many very good metal bands and this evening I'm going to be focusing on Venezuelan (although now based in Mexico) black metal band Irillion and their second EP Fatanyu, which was released last October. The duo formed in 2015 and swiftly released their first EP Egledhron in 2016.

I can’t remember when I last featured any South American extreme metal band on here. It’s been a while though. I have to make an apology to Irillion too, because they wrote to me a while ago and have been very patient. Their take on black metal is lo-fi yet symphonic and riddled with pure evil. The title-track ‘Fatanyu’ is a mix of mid-paced and blasting metal with some of the lowest, harshest vocals I’ve heard in ages.

Musically, they’re way more solid than the production suggests on here, though that’s not a criticism of the production in any way, as it adds a huge amount of character to their music. ‘Belzoond’ is another mixed-tempo song, which kind of leans towards the doomier end of the black metal spectrum at times, while also adding flourishes of death. As a duo, they create a lot of atmosphere as well.

The final song on the EP is huge sound-wise. ‘Meneltarma’ is a driving menace that’s both up-tempo and evil at the same time. It’s probably the most orthodox black metal song on Fatanyu, yet Irillion’s ability to inject it with melody and ambience is pretty clear for all to see (and hear). When they slow things down they become a dirtier, gnarlier proposition and the variation is highly applauded.

Irillion sounds like a band mature beyond their years in release terms. Many people may avoid taking a risk on bands from South America now, but you shouldn’t avoid this one. Incredibly immersive and atmospheric black metal cloaked in intrigue and malice. 

You can stream and grab a $2 download of the EP below:-



Tuesday 28 April 2020

Adolina/The Rabbit Theory - Split LP


Labels: Miyagi Records/Quiet Records/Whosbrain Records/Zegema Beach Records
Formats: Vinyl/Digital
Release Date: 20 Mar 2014

Tracklist:

1. Adolina - Code 440
2. Adolina - Morbiflette
3. Adolina - Mirador
4. Adolina - Stupid Man Suit
5. The Rabbit Theory - CSI GSCI
6. The Rabbit Theory - It's Only People, They Don't Scare Me
7. The Rabbit Theory - Sheeps, Fishes, Informations
8. The Rabbit Theory - Snowflakes, Trickles
9. The Rabbit Theory - The Denial Of Life And Joy Vs. Everybody's Right To Beautiful Radiant Things

It's come to that point in time where I have to graciously accept that Mr. Norman has overtaken me with his 'Out Past The Rings' video series. I'm still going to press on with my reviews though because A) I'm stubborn and B) because I still want to talk about great bands and music. This split LP was another record released in 2014 (that must have been a great year! Cheap dig at myself there). Adolina is from Belgium and The Rabbit Theory is from Switzerland (at least they were, as they're no longer a band). I got a bit confused while trying to find the correct track order, as some bandcamp pages/sites listed Adolina's songs first and other listen The Rabbit Theory's songs first. I'm going with Adolina's because they come first in the alphabet.

Adolina’s music is made up of lovely post-rock, that’s slightly mathy and twinkly. ‘Code 440’ is instrumental for the most part but semi-spoken/shouted vocals and samples do make an appearance too. ‘Morbiflette’ is a lot more dissonant and heavy, sounding like noisy garage-punk. It sort of reminds me of Primus (I think I’ve used that comparison for a couple of bands recently). Needless to say, it’s really cool!

Their songs here are artsy without being artsy and ‘Mirador’ has flashes of early Irk (the UK band) sound-wise, which is a good thing in my book. There’s a nice chilled technicality going on. I think Belgium has such an underrated scene when it comes to underground music. Adolina’s final song on this split ‘Stupid Man Suit’ has a greater punk feel, though more so in the vocals than the instrumentation. It’s the first time I’ve listened to Adolina from memory. Better late than never, as I like them a lot.

The Rabbit Theory has five songs that are shorter on the whole, but much like Adolina’s, they’re similarly twinkly and melodic. TRT’s opener ‘CSI GSCI’ is post-hardcore that also contains semi-clean/shouted vocals that bring to mind a lot of earlier emo type stuff. Their song titles are clever too, like ’It’s Only People, They Don’t Scare Me’. There’s a real feel-good element to this song and we all need that right now. 

‘Sheeps, Fishes, Informations’ contains guitar chords that clash to begin with but go onto help form a song that’s intelligent and enjoyable. It’s also fully instrumental. TRT are back in full post-hardcore mode on ’Snowflakes, Trickles’, though once again the vocals are used sparingly again. Their closer ‘The Denial Of Life And Joy Vs. Everybody’s Right To Beautiful Radiant Things’ takes a lot from TRT’s close proximity (geographically) to Italy and it’s screamo scene and bands like Ojne, without being too chaotic or noisy. They retain the musicality that makes them unique. 

I love listening to older releases for the first time and this one is a pleasure to spin. Both Adolina and The Rabbit Theory are quire similar in many respects, but while the former is still releasing music and the latter is long gone, it’s still a beautiful thing being able to enjoy their music on both physical and digital formats. Take the opportunity while you can because life is fleeting. 

You can stream and download (name-your-price) Adolina's tracks below:-



The Rabbit Theory's 'The Denial Of Life And Joy Vs. Everybody's Right To Beautiful Radiant Things' can be streamed and downloaded (also name-your-price) below:-



The full split is also streaming (and is downloadable) here:-




Physical copies are available from the labels below:-

Whosbrain Records - http://whosbrain-records.com/

Quiet Records (RIP)

Sunday 26 April 2020

Total Fucking Destruction - ...to be alive at the end of the world


Labels: Translation Loss Records
Formats: Vinyl/Digital
Release Date: 20 Apr 2020

Tracklist:

1. ...to be alive at the end of the world
2. violently high
3. light/pain
4. a demonstration of power
5. sound on sound
6. attack of the supervirus 1138
7. stone bomb
8. doctor butcher
9. yelling at velcro
10. the star spangled banner (traditional

It feels like years since I last featured Total Fucking Destruction on the blog. I think it was the Monsters EP in 2013 and their Split with Fubar in 2015. I know they released an album last year via Give Praise Records too, which I need to go back and revisit. TFD don't really need an introduction. Alongside Brutal Truth, Napalm Death and Nasum, they're considered to be godfathers of grind and are still releasing music twenty one years after their formation. That's real longevity for you!

Obviously nowadays TFD is about more than just grindcore and …to be alive at the end of the world shows that. The album is made up of eight fast songs sandwiched between two uncharacteristically long ones. The ‘title-track’ is a melodic pop-like ballad that threatens to explode but never truly does. The ominous guitar feedback resting underneath as the song builds in noise-level and intensity. 

It’s all about the grind from here on in, as your senses are awoken by ‘violently high’ and TFD’s dual-vocal screaming. It’s jazzy and bluesy while still being straight-up mad. ‘Light/pain’ is ninety+ seconds of heavy angular grind (especially where the riffs are concerned), while ‘a demonstration of power’ starts out like an instrumental improv session, before ripping your face off. It’s stop/start nature is humorous in a good way.

‘Sound on sound’ is a strange mix of Primus and surf-punk to these ears and works perfectly. Could this be the record that helps a grind band crossover to something approaching the mainstream? We’ll see. TFD prove their ability to be excellent social commentators with the ultra short ‘attack of the supervirus 1138’ and ‘stone bomb’ is even shorter, but somehow there’s a strong whiff of stoner rock coming off of it. 

They reach into the fantasies of serial killers and true crime fans on ‘doctor butcher’, but don’t worry as it’s no sub-par goregrind song. TFD’s final sub one-minute song ‘yelling a velcro’ is basically them yelling for as long as they can in one breath while blasting (I hope that’s the right interpretation anyway) and if it doesn’t bring a smile to your face, you’ve got no soul.

The album’s final long-player is ‘the star spangled banner’ and it is literally TFD’s grindcore reimagining of the US national anthem, set to crazy avant-garde grind. The initial song itself only lasts a couple of minutes. After another couple of minutes of silence, you get Rich Hoak playing woodwind instruments, which is joined later by eerie ambience and a repeat verse of the anthem . It’s bizarre but that’s what you expect from TFD. 

This album is definitely one that’ll help you forget about all the shit that the world’s throwing at you right now. Total Fucking Destruction knows how to bring a smile to your face. Long live Total Fucking Destruction!

You can stream both the 'title-track' and 'light/pain' below, where the album is available for digital pre-order:-



Total Fucking Destruction - https://www.facebook.com/tfdgrind/

Physical LP copies can be pre-ordered from Translation Loss Records here - https://translationloss.com/collections/pre-orders

Saturday 25 April 2020

Manes - Young Skeleton 7"


Labels: Aftermath Music
Formats: Vinyl/Digital
Release Date: 18 Apr 2020

Tracklist:

1. Young Skeleton
2. Mouth Of The Volcano

It's fascinating being able to track the trajectory and the evolution of bands, especially when they've existed for nearly three decades, as is the case with Norwegian band Manes. From their black metal beginnings in 1993 to their experimental/electronic/rock that exists in the year 2020, their body of work is not to be sniffed at. Returning earlier this month with the 7" EP called Young Skeleton, Manes are pushing themselves further as artists.

Ambience and atmosphere have long since been associated with black metal, but when musicians jump from the genre and into another musical world, they take those textures with them (with varying degrees of success). Manes have done it with ease on ‘Young Skeleton’, which is a melodic and stirring ballad that is firmly rooted in rock. The vocals of Tom Engelsøy or soothing and gentle.

‘Mouth Of The Volcano’ is very different with spoken word samples and orchestral instrumentation competing with operatic vocals and harsh screams, courtesy of Manes and guests Asgeir Hatlen, Anna Murphy and Ana Carolina Skaret. It’s haunting and bizarre, yet it all sounds so cohesive and well put together. As the song ends with the sobering line ‘Don’t come here, there’s no escape’, it’s apparent that Young Skeleton is a very well-timed release.

It may be brief but this EP shows that the creativity and relevance of Manes is still bright for all to see. Some people say that 2020 will be the year the world implodes. If it is, this contains the final two songs that’ll be playing when the last of our kind watches the final remnants of earth burn up.

You can watch the video for 'Young Skeleton' below:-


Physical copies can be purchased from Aftermath Music here - https://aftermathmusic.selz.com.

Thursday 23 April 2020

Revenant Marquis - Youth In Ribbons


Labels: Death Kvlt Productions/Inferna Profundus Records/Les Fleurs Du Mal Productions
Formats: Vinyl/CD/Tape/Digital
Release Date: 20 Jan 2020

Tracklist:

1. Menstruation
2. Ephebiphobia
3. Ephebophilic Wraith
4. Grave Lit Transmogrification
5. Ysgol
6. The Blood Of Lady Tasker
7. The Bones Of Lady Tasker
8. Taskermilward
9. The Incorporeal Hallways
10. Propagator Of An Unspeakable Incestuous Coven

In a recent review I said that I don't receive many submissions featuring Welsh bands. What I didn't account for was that I'd received an e-mail about Welsh raw black metal band Revenant Marquis and their new album Youth In Ribbons previously. The album was released back in January and has been made available on multiple formats via Death Kvlt Productions, Inferna Profundus Records and Les Fleurs Du Mal Productions respectively. It's the fourth full-length release from the mysterious project in just two years. 

Venturing into raw black metal at the moment seems apt given our collective anguish. Revenant Marquis promises to be more than just another bedroom act though and with the haunting bars of opening instrumental ‘Menstruation’, you can tell that there’s more to this. The dramatic production and sound of the opener is quickly quashed by ‘Ephebiphobia’, which is as raw and hellish as you’d expect. Blasting drums, rumbling bass, weirdly melodic guitar work and rasping screams nestling deeper in the mix lead to something altogether more bewildering, 

Despite the seemingly noisy and chaotic approach, there’s plenty of musicality within this album. ‘Ephebophilic Wraith’ has a symphonic feel to it that’s subtly delivered by the guitar playing. It’s not an easy listen in spite of that so don’t be fooled. It is remarkably upbeat though (or maybe I’m just strange!). The trvest black metal comes in the form of ‘Grave Lit Transmogrification’. Okay, so it’s probably still a bit to out-there for some connoisseurs of the genre but it’s hypnotic, anti-music quality is engrossing. It’s repeating riffs and constant tempo create a feeling of helplessness and loss that’s hard to replicate and it’s ambient ending doesn’t do much to eradicate that feeling.

One bit of Welsh I do know having lived there for a few years is ‘Ysgol’, though I’m not sure of it’s connotations here. That aside, if you want to be schooled in how to write and perform truly despairing extreme music, look no further than this. The second-half of the album starts with ‘The Blood Of Lady Tasker’, which forms a two-parter of sorts. It’s an instrumental break of about two minutes and it shows once again how adept Revenant Marquis is at writing quality music. Immediately followed by ‘The Bones Of Lady Tasker’, you’re once again treated to another twisted hymn that’s so tortured that it’ll keep you up long into the night. 

Things take a slightly catchier turn on ‘Taskermilward’ but only due to it’s infectiously rhythmic percussion during the opening sixty-seconds. Revenant Marquis switches between that beat and the now familiar blasting throughout, while feedback and dissonance reign supreme over the rest of the song. The album’s penultimate song ‘The Incorporeal Hallways’ is the very definition of maddening. Musically, it’s a mix of the familiar and the avant-garde while the vocals tread that line between controlled and psychopathic, the latter being the more prevalent. 

Before you know it, final song ‘Propagator Of An Unspeakable Incestuous Coven’ brings everything to a relieving close. Not relieving in the fact that Youth in Ribbons is a bad album (because it definitely isn’t) but because it’s a journey that’s hard to take in in one full sitting, The vision and the musicianship really makes this record.

You can stream the full album below via Death Kvlt Productions, where you can also purchase it digitally:-



Physical copies are available from the links below:-

Inferna Profundus Records (CD) - https://www.ipr666shop.com/

Vinyl and tape copies are sold out from Death Kvlt Productions and Les Fleurs Du Mal Productions respectively.

Inferna Profundus Records - https://www.facebook.com/ipr666/

Tuesday 21 April 2020

Said Goner - Said Goner


Labels: Ancient Injury Records/Sieve Sand Records/Zegema Beach Records
Formats: Vinyl/Digital
Release Date: 17 Sep 2014

Tracklist:

1. Unframe
2. Cull The Bastards
3. Brainstem
4. Yo Soy Capitan
5. These Bloody Days
6. Hum
7. Baby, I'm A Terrorist
8. At Home
9. Broken Boughs
10. Let Me Sleep
11. My Life In The Knife Trade (Boysetsfire Cover)

I feel like I've done enough today to justify writing this review. I mean that in the sense that I'm allowing myself the time. Also, I panicked when I realised that Dave was a mere three releases behind me in his "Out Past The Rings" video series, so in a bid to stay ahead of him (if only for a little while), I'm focusing my energy on the first LP from US solo lo-fi punk/folk band Said Goner. It was released back in September 2014 via ZBR and also with US label Ancient Injury Records and French label Sieve Sand Records. It was pressed on 550 copies of clear w/black smoke vinyl and it has a Boysetsfire cover at the end, which sold it for me!

Drowning out the Alexa-chosen oldies booming out in the flat below me, Said Goner is my relief and not being unfamiliar with lo-fi solo projects like this, it’s perfect for a lazy evening as the sun sets. ‘Unframe’ opens the band’s self-titled album with a short and gentle song of acoustic guitar and clean vocals, which brings to mind Defeater at their acoustic best. The vehemently titled ‘Cull The Bastards’ is a full-band number and it sounds like a cross between bluesy Americana and 90s Brit-pop a la Oasis. Not what you were expecting I’m sure but variation is a good thing.

When you’ve mainly been listening to screamo/emo-violence for the last few weeks, Said Goner’s gritty folk rock is a breath of fresh air and ‘Brain Stem’ is a gloomy/grungy take on the genre. In between those full band songs, there are acoustic breaks such as ‘Yo Soy Capitan’ and to be honest, I wish they were longer. There’s something really earthy about them that sits right with me for some reason. 

‘These Bloody Days’ is a pensive and mid-paced punk song, set to a backdrop of melancholy and sad reacts. The vocals bring to mind a less upbeat Weezer, the guitars though provide melody and light while the bass and percussion add tremendous body to it. The ending with it’s feedback flows straight into ‘Hum’ with it’s gentle acoustics and homely vibe. The additional vocals add another layer of human feeling to the album, which tugs at your emotions. 

The bizarrely titled ‘Baby, I’m A Terrorist’ is a more raucous song altogether. Noisy punk and rock delivered in an old-school garage like fashion. It’s great fun and shows an added ounce or two of bite. ‘At Home’ soon banishes that with another slab of Americana and soulful blues-like guitar. Imagine it playing as the soundtrack to a Wild West shootout (ignore my primitive description) and you’ll understand where I’m coming from. Towards the end, it leaves the Americana behind and gets louder and louder. It’s very stirring.

The penultimate original on Said Goner is ‘Broken Boughs’. Harmonica (at least that’s what it sounds like, I could be mistaken) rings out amongst the ever-present guitar and vocals to make for the perfect lonesome lullaby, while your deep in thoughtful contemplation. ‘Somnambulist’ is gloriously fragile and like the rest of the album, it’s a glimpse into the soul of it’s creator. 

Boysetsfire is one of my favourite bands period and it’s always great to hear other bands or people covering them. ‘My Life In The Knife Trade’ is one of the bands most poignant songs I think, which is made even more-so by Said Goner. It’s a cover that doesn’t try to change the song or be too clever, it’s sympathetic (if that’s the right word) but it has it’s own personality too. A great way to end an album that has so much life and so much to offer. Throughout the years of writing this blog, many full bands have caught my ears even if they’ve not appeared on it. Many of whom were not as meaningful as Said Goner. 

You can stream and purchase Said Goner via bandcamp below:-




You can still buy the physical LP from the links below:-

Zegema Beach Records (CAN/INTL) - http://www.zegemabeachrecords.com/
Zegema Beach Records (USA) - http://zegemabeachrecords.storenvy.com/

Friday 17 April 2020

Seven Planets - Explorer


Labels: Small Stone Recordings/Kozmik Artifactz
Formats: Vinyl/CD/Digital
Release Date: 07 Feb 2020

Tracklist:

1. Vanguard
2. Plain Truth In A Homespun Dress
3. Explorer
4. 206
5, Seven Seas
6. Great Attractor
7. Grissom
8. The Buzzard

Tonight's review was a toss up between some crazy fast math/grind and some trippy, instrumental heavy rock. The trippy, instrumental heavy rock won and here we are. West Virginia's (US) Seven Planets released their third full-length Explorer via fellow US label Small Stone Recordings and German label Kozmik Artifactz, on vinyl, cd and digitally in early February. Seven Planets have been plying their trade since 2006, when they released their debut album Flight Of The Ostrich, following it up in 2012 with Seven Planets.

Trippy and instrumental is probably the most obvious way to describe this album from Seven Planets. Explorer opens with ‘Vanguard’ and it’s groovy riffs, bluesy melodies and subtle low-end/percussion. It’s a relatively short opener for a band of their ilk but it sets things up nicely. This record isn’t heavy in the dissonant noisy sense, but it is in atmosphere. ‘Plain Truth In A Homespun Dress’ is measured and musically perfect. It’s strangely relaxing and hypnotic. I guess that’s the vibe that Seven Planets are going for and they’ve damn near perfected it here.

No vocals are needed on this record to help guide things along, as the guitars do that with aplomb. The album’s title track ‘Explorer’ is where things really start to take off. A pensive build-up and fuzz-laden riffs work in harmony to get things well and truly going. It’s a catchy song without being showy or overblown. The production/mixing/mastering is spot on as well, as it throughout the album. I love the way ‘206’ follows on musically from ‘Explorer’. The mesmerising riffs that called an end to the previous song seem to carry on in the opening bars of ‘206’ and they flow through it’s entirety like some kind of semi-improv hoedown has taken place. Despite my inability to type actual words this evening, the music is coming through loud and clear. 

Talking of mesmerising, ‘Seven Seas’ carries you gently into the album’s second-half with hallucinogenic lead work and casual tokes of groove. Maybe “blues” should have been called “greens” after all. ‘Seven Seas’ is one of the longest songs on Explorer and it’s the one that you truly loose yourself in. Following such a mammoth song was always going to be hard but Seven Planets do it with ‘Great Attractor’, which takes the band’s experimental nature and turns that instrumental talent toward a piece of music that’s genuinely captivating.

The recording studio/rehearsal room sample at the beginning of penultimate song ‘Grissom’ hammers home the jam/improve nature of Seven Planets and it couldn’t be better. The stoner/blues rock that it presents is so relaxing that it makes you almost oblivious to what’s around you. We all need moments of complete calm in our lives right now and this delivers it. Album closer ‘The Buzzard’ sneaks up on you with no warning and precedes to go headlong into your synapse with more phenomenal musicianship and song-writing. It’s a short song to finish on but the urgency only makes you savour it more. I don’t want this album to end and neither will you. 

You can stream Explorer and purchase it on (very limited vinyl), CD and also digitally below:-


If you're in Europe you can head over to Kozmik Artifactz and buy a vinyl copy here -

Wednesday 15 April 2020

Pastel/Merridew - Split LP


Labels: Flood Records/Voice Of The Unheard Records/Monday Morning Records/La Fine Edizioni/Don't Live Like Me Records/Zegema Beach Records/Shivery.MMXII.Productions/Alcoves Records/Glass Of Spit/Upwind Productions/Go Away Records
Formats: Vinyl/Tape/Digital
Release Date: 13 Mar 2014

Tracklist:

1. Pastel - Momento Nove
2. Pastel - Laminal
3. Merridew - Snowflake In A Matchbox
4. Merridew - The World Is Humming Under Its Breath

I'm back with another one of my Zegema Beach Records roster reviews (this isn't all I write about now, so don't say anything!). I'm just trying to pick the pace up a bit with this series so I can try in vain to stay ahead of Dave's "Out Past The Rings" vids. This was another 2014 release that featured Italian emo band Pastel and UK instrumental ambient emo/hardcore band Merridew. It saw a vinyl release by many labels, whom I'll link to below and also a tape release via Go Away Records. It contained four songs and the vinyl pressing featured a lovely screen-printed b-side. 

Pastel is another in a long line of epic Italian emo bands. Not sure what that country has in it’s water, but it probably includes luscious red wine and Mediterranean romanticism. ‘Momento Nove” is gloriously melodic and the Italian lyrics are really stirring to say the least. It’s not a song that last’s long but it gets the heart racing. Pastel’s other contribution ‘Laminal’ is equally as mesmerising, with the audible group vox and occasionally harsh screams. It’s catchy and the percussion is beautifully hidden within the mix, though still obvious. It just makes you feel good. What more could you want.

I had no idea that Merridew was from the UK, guess I was living under a rock, ‘Snowflake In A Matchbox’ is math-like, instrumental emo that doesn’t need vocals to help it shine. Excellently played and recorded with a clear production, it’s dreamy. I know this review comes a mere six years after it’s release and for that I’m sorry, but I’m glad I’ve found it now.’ The World Humming Under Its Breath’ is much more off-kilter and that gives it more oomph but that’s only due to the tempo. It’s length as with that of ‘Snowflake In A Matchbox’ allows Merridew to express themselves with a lot more freedom and its great to hear.

If copies of this split still exist for sale in the wild, pick one up. Emo/Screamo can sometimes be fast and harsh but this split is the opposite. The genuine musicality and joyfulness that it contains should be enough. Right in the feels!

You can stream Pastel's side of this split and purchase the tracks from them here:-



Merridew's tracks can be streamed and purchased digitally via Glass Of Spit Recordings here:-




Physical copies (are still hopefully) available via the labels below:-


Flood Floorshows/Records - https://www.facebook.com/floodhardcore/
Voice Of The Unheard Records - https://www.facebook.com/voturecords/
Don't Live Like Me Records - https://www.facebook.com/dontlivelikeme/
Glass Of Spit Records - https://www.facebook.com/glassofspit/

Monday 13 April 2020

And The Sky Darkened - Between Ghosts EP


Labels: Self-Released
Formats:CD/Digital
Release Date: 08 May 2020

Tracklist:

1. Burden Hardest To Bear
2. Turn These Eyes Blind
3. The Darkened Await
4. Between Ghosts

It's not often that I feature Welsh bands, mainly because I don't get many heavy bands contacting from across the border anymore. Between Ghosts is the newest EP from South Wales modern metal/hard rockers And The Sky Darkened, following their 2016 debut The Fracture. This quartet counts the likes of Killswitch Engage, Tool and Alter Bridge as influences, so that's a pretty good place to start. Let's see if they can put Cardiff on the map.

Ever since a certain Welsh “rock star” proclaimed that there are no decent metal bands in the UK anymore, people have been out to prove him wrong. And The Sky Darkened are one band aiming to do that and on Between Ghosts they make a good argument for the UK underground. ‘Burden Hardest To Bear” is s slickly produced, professional sounding song to start on. It’s up-tempo and really well written with well-performed drumming, bass and catchy riffs. The vocals are a mix of both the melodic and harsh with a nod to their US cousins in delivery.

‘Turn The Eyes Blind’ is moodier and technical, and goes further to remind me of earlier Trivium in places. Obviously comparisons are very much subjective but there’s no reason to dissuade And The Sky Darkened from taking the musical path they’re on. The further you get into the song, the more their Alter Bridge influence shows through as well and it only adds to their quality.

There’s something laid-back and progressive about ‘The Darkened Await’. As with the rest of the EP it’s very clean and maybe a little bit clinical sound-wise, but it’s that sound that will set them apart once more people hear this EP, so it serves them well. The harsher and heavier moments certainly save it from being just another generic hard rock EP.

Closing song and EP title-track ‘Between Ghosts’ is a gentle acoustic song to begin with but one that’s menacing too. It’s emotive and quite rousing as it builds, and as more instrumentation and vocal harmonies are layered within it. Overall, Between Ghosts is a decent EP from a band that are still finding their sound and personality. Give this your time when it’s released in May, as And The Sky Darkened deserve it.

You can stream 'The Darkened Await' from the EP via Youtube below:-


Keep an eye on their Facebook page for news on the physical and digital release.

Sunday 12 April 2020

Fuck-Ushima/Fosforos - Split LP


Labels: Gate Of Deliria/Ramekuukkeli-Levyt
Formats: Vinyl/Digital
Release Date: 05 Jan 2020

Tracklist: 

1. Fuck-Ushima - We Are Doomed
2. Fuck-Ushima - Hervanta Acid Onslaught
3. Fuck-Ushima - Jazz Violence
4. Fuck-Ushima - Give Unto Suffering -
5. Fuck-Ushima - Merridew
6. Fosforos - Still Life
7. Fosforos - Welcome The Beast
8. Fosforos - Into The Horror
9. Fosforos - Let Go

At the same time as receiving the Frogskin/Taser LP that was released last October, Ramekuukkeli-Levyt was also kind enough to send me the 2020 split LP featuring Finnish PV band Fuck-Ushima and death/crust countrymen Fosforos. It's the first time I've come across either band, but you can pretty much put any Finnish heavy music in front of me and the chances are I'll dig it. This is the first vinyl release to feature Fuck-Ushima, as they've previously only released tapes after forming in 2012.  Fosforos formed a few years later in 2015 and prior to this they released a tape and a 7" EP. 

First up is Fuck-Ushima with five quick-fire ragers. ‘We Are Doomed’ is the most aptly titled song to kick things off with as it perfectly harnesses the helplessness and frustration that we’re all feeling right now. The music is crazy, feedback-laden PV/Sludge with growled dual-vocals. It’s all gloriously off-kilter and at times it could be considered anti-music but there’s lots to like about Fuck-Ushima’s racket. ‘Hervanta Acid Onslaught’ is a fast/slow beast that seems to run for longer than it’s actual playing time, as they put so much into it.

I was hoping that ‘Jazz Violence’ would be some really off the wall free-grind but alas it isn’t. It’s still great though and like the rest of the band’s music, it’s full of sludge that makes you feel anxious and occasionally nauseous, especially when the screaming guitar hits the front. You can tell it’s good when feedback is all that’s heard between songs, save for the very brief pauses. ‘Give Unto Suffering’ starts slow but then get’s fast, which is at odds with the rest of Fuck-Ushima’s songs so far. One thing’s for sure, this is intense especially this early in the day. Final song ‘Merridew’ is probably the grooviest, taking their sludge influence to further heights. The riffs are giant as is the overall atmosphere of it all. As first impressions go, these five tracks have left me floored. They’re not an easy listen by any means but that’s the fun of it. Nice one Fuck-Ushima!

Fosforos calls their side of this split The Horror Cycle, which is ominous. Their sound is more crusty and death metal influenced, genres with which Finland has a long and rich history. ’Still Life’ has the now recognisable crust-reverb applied to the deep growls, while the music is pretty melodic. ’Welcome The Beast” is more on the raw side, which is fine because crust was never supposed to over-produced and clean. There’s a lot of snotty punk attitude going on too, which adds to the energy of it. Fosforos slow’s everything down on the lumbering ‘Into The Horror’, which is more deathly and sludgy. It’s delivered in such a tortured way that it’s hard to feel energised when it’s playing, such is the crushing sense of dread that’s portrayed. 

Closing with ‘Let Go’, Fosforos demonstrates how they’re able to create varied songs with ease. It sounds almost funky at the beginning and it’s only the harsh vocals that remind you of what you’re listening to. It may sound like the vocalist is throwing up towards the end, but they’re not. It’s just annunciation and it fits perfectly. Again, first impressions are really good. Fosforos don’t seem to have a specific remit when it comes to their filthy noise, instead they just keep throwing different things into the mix. Great stuff for an unholy Sunday morning!

You can stream and purchase he Fuck-Ushima side of this split digitally below:-



The Fosforos side can be found here:-




Physical copies can be purchased from the labels below:-