Monday 28 December 2020

The Owl - Odyssey One

Labels: Self-Released

Formats: None Yet

Release Date: Unreleased


1. Ascend (And Keep Going)

2. Descend (The Rise Again)

I've been spending the last few days (as many of you have) with family. That time has allowed me to reset and also to get a couple of things done. At the time of writing this, there have already been 120 reviews published on the blog this year. Not the most that's ever been published, but I'm proud nonetheless. I'm also in the process of working out how many individual bands I've reviewed since the blog began. A large task that I've almost completed.

Aside from all of that though, the urge to finish of 2020 with one review (or maybe two by the time New Year's Eve hits) was too much, so here I am writing about something that hasn't even officially been released yet (that's scheduled for January all being well). It comes from Leeds based entity The Owl and it was sent to me in the form of a promo CD when I ordered the latest DIY release from OwlRipper Productions, containing two doom songs. Rumour has it that this release may become part of a wider series from the band in the future as well. 

As you may know, The Owl is a solo-project and a pretty prolific one at that. Odyssey One sees the project venturing into the desolate realms of doom metal via noise and percussion. Being a more than proficient bass player helps The Owl build the sometimes harrowing soundscapes that sit within it’s music and that description is accurate on this EP’s first song ‘Ascend (And Keep Going)’. This isn’t your groovy, friendly, melodic type of doom metal. Instead it’s the noisy and nightmarish kind, championed by the likes of Primitive Man, Meth Drinker (RIP) and Sunn0))) minus the vocals. Those are all fairly predictable comparisons if you know me but given the low-end heft and sheer length of the song, I stand by them. Talking of the song length, nearly eighteen minutes is definitely enough time for you to get truly lost in it and if like me, you’re waiting for the supposed snow that’s due to fall later tonight it’s the perfect way to get in the mood.

Second song ‘Descend (The Rise Again)’ is considerably shorter but even weirder thanks to the addition of vocoder-style spoken word at it’s beginning that leads the way to what becomes several layers of building, haunting doom/noise. You think the volume’s just gonna keep rising but alas, it settles before itself descending. Very subtle treble nestles within the feedback here and as quickly as the song started, it ends. I didn’t want to end this paragraph so abruptly so in synopsis, this little EP is a very promising sign of things to come from The Owl and if it indeed does go onto form part of a series of similar releases, I for one will be waiting in anticipation. This project is one that’s screaming out for all kinds of collaborations, so hopefully that will become a thing when the world’s not as crazy as it is now. Until then, bury yourself in The Owl’s myriad of sonic offerings and await further news on the release on Odyssey One.

A short teaser for the release can be found below:-

You can stream and download the rest of The Owl's catalogue here -

The Owl -

Tuesday 22 December 2020

Vi Som Alskade Varandra Sa Mycket - Den Sorgligaste Musiken I Världen

Labels: Blood Of The Young/Zegema Beach Records/Moment Of Collapse

Formats: Vinyl/CD/Digital

Release Date: 06 Oct 2014


1. Leva Som Sno

2. Det Liv Vi Ville Ha Var Inte Det Vi Fick

3. Storm Och Längtan

4. Vi Gar Och Gar Och Har Sonder

5. Ett Hjartats Svedjebruk

6. Alfa Och Omega

7. Vi Som Forsvann

8. Illusionen Om Oss

This review has been a little delayed (though some would say a lot delayed, as it the record it focuses on was released way back in 2014). Either way, my slow march through the Zegema Beach Records roster continues and today I'm writing about the first full-length from Sweden's Vi Som Alskade Varandra Sa Mycket, which was released on vinyl by both Canadian label Blood Of The Young and the aforementioned ZBR (who may have been located in New Zealand at the time, though I'm not quite sure about that fact), as well as on CD by Moment Of Collapse.

Today marks part one of my two part Christmas break, which is much needed if a bit short. Things still aren’t normal here, as with everywhere but I’m just going to try and make the best of it. Obviously, things are always better with music and the melodic post-hardcore of Vi Som… is exactly what’s needed. Opening song ‘Leva Som Sno’ is very atmospheric when set against the gloomy backdrop outside my window. While the vocals are screamed in Swedish, they’re not crazy and the instrumentation flows and builds nicely. Even after they mid-way point when the volume increases, it stays atmospheric. Amazing emotional post-hardcore so far. Given that we’re in a time where it’s difficult to spend time with loved ones, this album really ramps up your own emotions, while the stillness and calm created by ‘Det Liv Vi Ville Ha Var Inte Det Vi Fick’ is palpable, even when the dissonance and vocals kick in. It’s more akin to a shoegaze-like song instrumentally as it draws you in with every bar and note. 

It’s impossible to type over the top of such great music but I have to carry on. ‘Storm Och Langtan’ goes through various movements, ranging from the quiet building intro, to heavier parts and catchy, upbeat verses. Despite it being nearly six-minutes in length, it goes by very quickly for a mid-tempo song. This album may be an example of a band in their infancy but it doesn’t sound like it. It’s very assured and mature. This review has been written in two sittings, as I’ve not quite been in the right frame of mind to write today but ‘Vi Gar Och Gar Och Gar Sonder’  has done enough to lift me up again. For some reason the screams are all the more heart-wrenching now and the music also, which somehow seems to magnify the frailties of our own mind. 

It’s actually quite amazing how differently you interpret music based on your mood. ‘Ett Hjartats Svedjebruk’ begins as a slightly mournful piece before melody lifts it up and it becomes lighter, albeit for a moment anyway. It slows again during the mid-section, before picking up again just when you thought it had ventured further down. It’s these rollercoasters that give Vi Som’s… music such feeling. ‘Alfa Och Omega’ has a totally different feel to it. A more upbeat and punchier one from the get go. Even when everything tempers down and settles into something more stripped back, it still produces a ray of light that justifies its shorter playing time. There’s all kinds of debates on social media about whether this sort of music should be classed as hardcore, screamo or emo at the moment. I don’t care what it’s called really. It doesn’t matter as long as sounds this good.

There are elements of both La Dispute (specifically, maybe?) and black metal flowing through penultimate song ‘Vi Som Forsvann’. Those elements make it a really endearing listen. My earlier comparison may seem a but random but if you give it the time, you’ll understand why. Vi Som… uses album closer ‘Illusionen Om Oss’ as a bit of a wake up call, with probably their most dissonant and feedback-laden song on Den Sorgligaste Musiken I Varlden. Said feedback gives it a sense of chaos, alongside the mix of time-signatures, percussion and passionate screams. Above all though, there’s the realisation that this album is more than just the some of it’s parts and indeed, so is Vi Som… 

This album is exactly why I love digging back into the early careers of bands and why this review series exists. Please, spend some time with this and If you want to, please tell me how it makes you feel. I’m sure it’ll be a story worth telling.

You can stream and purchase the album digitally below:-

Vi Som Alskade Varandra Sa Mycket -

You can buy physical copies from the labels below:-

Moment Of Collapse Records - CD -

Moment Of Collapse Records - vinyl -

Blood Of The Young Records -

Zegema Beach Records -

Moment Of Collapse Records -

Monday 14 December 2020

Cryptorianus - Melancholia - Eight Silent Ghost Songs

Labels: Veinte 33 Records

Formats: CD/Digital

Release Date: 12 Oct 2020


1. The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymo)))

2. Melancholia

3. Counting The Stars

4. Pale Rose Lips

5. Spell

6. The Butterfly Catcher

7. Through The Eyes Of A Penitent

8. Wise Men Never Wish For Eternity

Last week was set aside to focus on some of the more established names in heavy music, while this week will focus on some of the more obscure names. From Thursday evening, I have a few days off work so hopefully I'll be able to get a few more reviews written but let's see. This evening's subject is German solo drone/post-black metal/ambient band Cryptorianus and their most recent album Melancholia - Eight Silent Ghost Songs, which was released in October. It's actually the band's second album, following April's From Deepest Soul's Reverberation and it's been released digitally and on cd with the help of Uruguayan drone/ambient/noise label Veinte 33 Records (as well as digitally by Cryptorianus). The entire album is performed using two bass guitar and violin bows.

The very first song on Melancholia… is a nod (I think) to both The Walker Brothers and Sunn0))) (which, is apt considering Scott Walker (RIP) and Sunn0))) collaborated on an album together). I’m not sure if this is meant to be a noise/drone version of ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine’ but it’s hauntingly good. ‘The Sunn Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymo)))’ is very melodic for a song played only with bass guitars and violin bows, which bodes well for the rest of the album. The last time I witnessed this type of thing was when I saw Hundred Year Old Man live at Santiago’s in Leeds, which was a brilliant night.

In one way, this album epitomises what a weird year 2020 has been and Melancholia..., despite being riddled with dissonant noise, is surprisingly calming at lower volume (mainly because my neighbours already seem to be banging on the walls/ceiling/floor for some reason!). Overall, it’s a slow droning dirge with bizarre dreamy melody that’s quite soothing actually. I’m sorry but I just got distracted by how astronomically shit the “new facelifted” Facebook layout looks, but set to ‘Counting The Stars’ you forget all of that and sink into repetitive, hypnotic drone that perfectly embodies a social media platform going down the u-bend (that’s meant to be a compliment to Cryptorianus and the music!).

I guess I’m used to music from this genre being a bit longer and more drawn out, as ‘Pale Rose Lips’ goes by in a bit of a blur and leads straight into ‘Spell’, with very little time for pausing. I’m glad of that though, as pointless gaps in between songs can and do ruin the momentum of a lot of albums, without bands even realising it. Both of the aforementioned songs go by again with subtle melody that’s captivating, even without any percussion being present whatsoever. There are elements of Spaghetti Western compositions within Melancholia…, which might not come as a big surprise. You certainly get that feel in a left-field way from ‘The Butterfly Catcher’, which in turn leads me to another tenuous link to Scott Walker, who collaborated on the song ‘The Ballad Of Sacco And Vanzetti (Here’s To You)’ with none other than Ennio Morricone, on his 1972 album The Moviegoer. I’m pulling the knowledge out tonight!.

I used to find it hard to gain inspiration from noise/drone releases like this and I still can’t profess to be an expert on the sub-genre, but Cryptorianus seems to be hitting a particular spot here. Penultimate song ‘Through The Eyes Of The Penitent’  is dark and mystical yet also harmonic and once again relaxing. Album closer ‘Wise Men Never Wish For Eternity’ comes across as a dual between Electric Wizard and Jesu, in a weird kind of way. It’s neither doom-like nor industrial but that’s how it sounds to me. Maybe I’m starting to see things thanks to the pure strangeness of this record, but either way I like it a lot.

Once again, I’ve reached for some noise/drone/ambient music and have been rewarded. I’ll still reach for other facets of metal more often than this but Cryptorianus has certainly opened my ears with a really creative and original release. I know there’s many of you out there who will find the same enjoyment when listening to this too.

You can stream and purchase Melancholia... digitally below:-

CD copies can be purchased from Veinte 33 Records here -

Cryptorianus -

Veinte 33 Records -

Sunday 13 December 2020

Nails - Unsilent Death (10th Anniversary Edition)

Labels: Southern Lord

Formats: Vinyl/CD/Digital

Release Date: 27 Nov 2020


1. Conform

2. Scum Will Rise

3 Your God

4. Suffering Soul

5. Unsilent Death

6. Traitor

7. I Will Not Follow

8. No Servent

9. Scapegoat

10. Depths

11. Leech (Previous Unreleased)

12. Enemy (Previous Unreleased)

13. Confront Them (Obscene Humanity 7")

14. Obscene Humanity (Obscene Humanity 7")

15. Lies (Obscene Humanity 7")

Ten years ago saw the release of Unsilent Death by US hardcore/death metal band Nails and for many, it was their first gateway into the band. The album's 10th anniversary has just passed and to mark the occasion, Southern Lord released a special version containing the original album and five bonus songs, including two previously unreleased songs from the Unsilent Death recordings and the three songs that appeared on the 2012 Obscene Humanity 7".

The impact of Nails is still undeniable on Unsilent Death opener ‘Conform’, which straightaway sees the band launching into a powerviolence-esque thirty second battering of percussion, raging bass/guitar and unforgiving vocals. Blasting Napalm Death influence flows through this album, as on ‘Scum Will Rise’ and there’s no hiding from the sheer power of the band. Subtle sludginess and screeching feedback are also present and correct on ‘Your God’, which is short but no less intense, while on ‘Suffering Soul’ things are extended into a longer form, with a punk-backbone flowing through it thanks to the drum beats. The breakdown in the song’s second-half is mighty and underlines their heaviness. 

The original recordings haven’t been remixed or remastered, aside from the bonus songs so what you hear is as it was when Unsilent Death was initially released, which is why the album’s title-track sounds so raw and groovy. From there, ‘Traitor’ brings you back down to earth with a bang thanks to it’s stop/start fast/slow approach. In true belligerent fashion, ‘I Will Not Follow’ lives up to it’s name with more off-kilter time signatures and proper hardcore tones. There’s no pretence here at all, just honest heavy music and no matter what you think about Nails now, they’re still one of the best modern-era bands of this ilk. There’s something very necro about ‘No Servant’, which I think has to do with the blasts. Aside from that, it also features some of the best guitar work on the record.

The two final songs of the album proper are utterly insane, with ‘Scapegoat’ leading the charge with uncontrolled noise, death and hardcore all rolled into one sub one-minute song that leads straight into album closer ‘Depths’ via more screeching feedback. This is the crust/sludge-laden beast that Nails always threatened to whip out on Unsilent Death and saving it till the end is a masterstroke. It’s blistering instrumentation tells you all you need to know. Next up are two previously unreleased tracks from the same recording sessions as the album. ‘Leech’, unsurprisingly, has the same sound and approach to many of the songs on Unsilent Death but the fact that it’s only been released now makes it a special listen, which can also be said about ‘Enemy’, with it’s warp-speed tempo and crazed grindcore blueprint. 

Closing this re-release out are the three songs from the 2012 Obscene Humanity 7”. ‘Confront Them’ is more white-hot than many of the songs that appeared on the album, in terms of anger and the higher tone of the screams, but it shows the progression that Nails were making at the time. The 7”s title-track shows yet more of a step away from the bolder, thicker sound of Unsilent Death, into dare-I-say-it a more Japanese crust/death direction (maybe). The final bonus track from the 7” is ‘Lies’ and like ‘Depths’ earlier, it’s an extended player that once again shows off the variation and musical skill that’s obvious throughout the band.

As far as re-releases go, this is both true to the original but also special enough to warrant greater attention. Hopefully it’s release will bring in a new wave of listeners, especially in a year when music this dark fits the current times. Cracking stuff from both Nails and Southern Lord.

You can stream and purchase the full re-release on all formats below:-

You can also purchase physical copies from Southern Lord here -

Southern Lord Recordings -

Thursday 10 December 2020

Terror - Sink To The Hell 7"

Labels: War Records

Formats: Vinyl/Digital

Release Date: 02 Dec 2020


1. Sink To The Hell

2. Don't Need Your Time

3. The New Beginning

4. You Lost All Respect

I told you I had some heavy hitters coming this week! US hardcore band Terror is arguably one of the genre's most well known bands in modern times, going back as far as the turn of the new millennium. Fast forward to 2020 and they're back with four previously unreleased tracks. All four of these songs were released on individual single-sided lathe cut (uber collectable, if that's your thing) records earlier this year via War Records before being gathered together for this special 7" release by Terror directly, alongside War Records again. The songs here come from the Live By The Code and Keepers Of The Faith sessions.

When I started this blog, I was heavily into hardcore bands like xCurraheex and No Turning Back. I was never straightedge but the positive message that a lot of hardcore bands promoted really struck a chord. The genre formed a bit of a gateway for me as I delved deeper into metal and the extreme metal. Hardcore is still a constant though and bands like Terror are crucial. 

‘Sink To The Hell’ accentuates just how important hardcore is now and as a song, it hits really hard with powerful drumming, fist-pumping riffs and vocals that are delivered in the form of rallying cries. ‘Don’t Need Your Time’ comes from the punk end of the hardcore spectrum initially and it’s less gang-style, and more metal in approach, with additional vocals from Jesse Barnett (Stick To Your Guns). The tempo is slightly more mid-paced but it’s still to the point. Terror have always been like that. 

Throughout these four songs you can tell the progression and change in Terror’s sound. As with the title-track, ‘The New Beginning’ comes from the same Live By The Code session and again it comes from a place of anger but is filled with hope as well. Alongside ‘Don’t Need Your Time’, closing song ‘You Lost All Respect’ is from the Keepers Of The Faith session and it rages with simple yet catchy riffs and more punk energy. As with the song before it, this one ends with a fade out, which detracts a bit from the momentum of the release but that said, this 7’ more than harnesses the precision and power that Terror maintains with every release.

It’s often hard to decipher how music so hard and heavy can be so uplifting and positive. This 7’ proves exactly how. Terror stay true to themselves and take those willing along for the ride. Sink To The Hell is a reminder to stay true to yourself.

You can stream and purchase Sink To The Hell digitally below:-

Terror -

Physical copies are still available from War Records here -

War Records -

Tuesday 8 December 2020

Svalbard - When I Die, Will I Get Better?

Labels: Church Road Records/Translation Loss Records

Formats: Vinyl/CD/Digital

Release Date: 25 Sep 2020


1.  Open Wound

2. Click Bait

3. Throw Your Heart Away

4. Listen To Someone

5. Silent Restraint

6. What Was She Wearing?

7. The Currency Of Beauty

8. Pearlescent

I remember seeing Svalbard (if I remember correctly) playing a show at The Royal Park Cellars (Leeds) in 2013 with local band DSDNT (RIP) and French headliners Direwolves. I can't believe it's been that long. I picked up a copy of the band's 10" release Gone Tomorrow at the time and then due to my own erratic listening habits, lost touch with them somewhat, aside from the Cover Buzz split they did that same year. Anyway, Svalbard released their most recent album in September via Church Road Records and Translation Loss Records on both cd and vinyl, and I could no longer go without listening to it.

I’m very out of touch when it comes to Svalbard’s progression over recent years, which is my own stupid fault. What I get from this album’s first song ‘Open Wound’ is epic post-hardcore with anthemic guitar melody, vibrant percussion and vocals that are both harsh and clean, delivering music that’s uplifting and incredibly life-affirming. Svalbard is cleary a band that is very much socially aware on ’Click Bait’. Whether or not it’s describing those desperate for attention or those who attracting it unwittingly, it’s a sobering song and the anger that you sense within Serena’s voice is real.

The same level of emotion that filled ‘Click Bait’ is also present right from the off on ‘Throw Your Heart Away’. The vocals/lyrics are delivered in such a thoughtful way and the instrumentation continues to build on the album’s melodic/post-hardcore blueprint. It’s huge in every way sound-wise and it’s catchiness is plain to hear, though it’s over too quickly. ’Listen To Someone’ borrows from shoegaze and indie in places, helping it to become another fantastic example of anthemic music that’ll have you shouting from the top of your lungs. It’s actually quite emotional, given the backdrop of our current existence. 

The second half of When I Die, Will I Get Better? begins with ‘Silent Restraint’, which reminds me a lot of Funeral For A Friend and certainly fills me with the same affection. Svalbard’s music is brought to life by the excellent production/mastering and it’s hard to ignore just how good it sounds. In a similar vein to the likes of A.A. Williams, the vocal performance on ‘What Was She Wearing?’ Is calming and organic, lending itself to the song perfectly before Svalbard’s full band attack takes over once more during it’s second half. The ending talks about feeling comfortable in your own skin (at least, that’s how I interpreted it) and it’s such a positive message to convey. 

Penultimate song ‘The Currency Of Beauty’ easily follows on and it reminds you of how hard it can be within a male-orientated genre of music such as metal/hardcore. Diversity and equality are things that we keep striving for yet both seem a long way away. Svalbard recognises this and Serena’s commentary is startlingly honest, unsurprisingly. This album has moved from being upbeat and catchy to being a social commentary of everything that’s wrong with society, and more importantly how we view and treat each other. Closer ‘Pearlescent’ is the perfect musical climax to When I Die, Will I Get Better?, both musically and thoughtfully.

In a year where we’ve had to deal with so much, felt so helpless at times and lost perspective, Svalbard has felt that way too and has delivered an album that cleanses us of those demons, while reminding us of the part we play in today’s society. It took me a little while to realise that while writing this, but it’s plain to see now. Such a heartfelt record and nothing else this year comes close. 

You can stream When I Die, Will I Get Better? and purchase it digitally/ on vinyl below:-

Svalbard -

Physical copies can also be purchased via the below links:-

Church Road Records -

Translation Loss Records -

Church Road Records -

Translation Loss Records -

Sunday 6 December 2020

Respire - Interview + Black Line Review

2020 has been a hard year for many reasons, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. This feature focuses on both the hardships and the positive events that have shaped the year for Canadian band Respire. I caught up with them recently to ask some questions about their (very) new album Black Line and some of things that happened prior to it's release, as well as about their experiences during the year and what their plans may be for next year.

TNIO: It’s safe to say that 2020 has been a difficult year, especially with gigs and tours being put on hold due to the global pandemic. In what ways did it affect you as a band and how have you coped during this time?

Respire: We have actually been quite lucky as a band during the covid pandemic. We started production of this record in December 2019, and wrapped up the last of the tracking in early March 2020, right as things began to fall apart. We managed to go through the mixing process (which is usually pretty time-intensive for us) remotely. We were also thinking about touring Europe in summer 2020, but decided in early 2020 that we wouldn’t be able to complete the record in time, so decided not to go ahead with those plans.

We’ve also been lucky enough to mostly remain employed and/or have access to government support. We feel for all those who have had a much worse experience during this pandemic - those who have lost their jobs are struggling to afford essentials, frontline workers who are risking their lives for low wages, and those who have experienced personal tragedy.

In the space of what felt like a week earlier in the year, you announced that you had signed to release your new album ‘Black Line’ with Holy Roar Records, then for much publicised reasons you announced you were splitting with the label. What was that time like for you and were you worried about the album’s release?

It was a very strange time. We wanted this record to have wider reach upon release, so we were excited to join a label with such an incredible roster of bands and (what we thought was) a great reputation. Though the planning had been in-the-works for a while, once we announced our signing it was only a matter of days before everything broke. We were definitely riding a high until it all fell apart very quickly. 

From the beginning of this whole fiasco, we realized we were not the true victims of these circumstances. We were determined to do what’s right and try to push for a productive resolution, primarily for the victims, but also the bands under the label roster. We made a plan to demand accountability, but when that failed, we ultimately decided to step away. It was a very confusing and troubling couple of weeks. It was important for us to send the right message to our fans and new listeners, that we wouldn’t be complicit in this form of abuse and silencing. We decided immediately to halt the release of the record, to make sure we weren’t distracting from the situation with self-serving news and promo.

Not long after, you found a new home thanks to some familiar faces in the newly formed Church Road Records, who released ‘Black Line’ on vinyl (which is now onto it’s second pressing). There’s also been a subsequent tape pressing via Middle-Man Records and Zegema Beach Records. How does it feel now that ‘Black Line’ is out there and doing (really) well?

It feels great! We’re happy to work with Justine - she really was the day-to-day person we dealt with while on Holy Roar, and we knew she deserved to see this release through after all her hard work helping get it to production. We’re also happy to work with ZBR, MMR, and Narshardaa, who have been supporters and friends since the beginning of this band. It was important for us to make sure everyone could grow off this record, both for our new labels and our early supporters.

It’s always great to hear that our music is reaching new audiences and that people are excited for this record. We hope everyone is just as pleased with the final product as we are.

Following on from the previous question, given what you and society has had to deal with this year; what does the album and it’s content mean to you?

We wrote and recorded Black Line in a time of great anxiety for the future. It was 2019, well before the upheaval of 2020 would see the light of day, yet the sense of desperation, fear, pent-up anxiety and aggression was already thick in the air. Initially, when the lyrics of the album were being cemented, our attention was cast on the many uncontrolled fires devastating the world, from British Columbia in Canada to the historic bushfires of Australia. The backdrop of Black Line is the setting of these growing fires, a world where even with a climate catastrophe closer to home than ever before, our leaders continue to sow fear and division with a reactionary populist demagoguery, all for a desire to go back to some imaginary place of homogenous security. There is a great sense of loss and loss-to-come in our 21st century. As immigrants we have an acute understanding of loss, of how easily the things we are grown to rely on can be taken away from us. We wanted to use our history as a parallel, a point of reference for the future losses we all stand on the brink of suffering. Sadly, we know this has become even more relevant in 2020. It scares us at times, and worries us most of all, how prescient our message was in 2019.

t’s probably too early to ask and it’s no doubt very uncertain but what plans (if any) do you have for 2021? With a potential vaccine nearing release and approval, hopes are that things will begin to return to something near normal and gigs/festivals may be allowed to happen again. I bet you all can’t wait to get back out there?

We’d love to tour in 2021. We’re long overdue on a promise to our European friends for another visit. We’d also love to go back to Mexico, and visiting Japan and SE Asia have also been on our radar for a while. Of course, at some point we’ll have to overcome the logistical and bureaucratic hurdles to visit our neighbours to the south as well. There are a lot of places we have yet to visit, and a lot of fans we have yet to meet. We hope to be able to change this in the near future.

Planning anything during this pandemic has really been fool’s gold, so we’re going to wait and see how 2021 starts to shake out before we start booking anything in earnest. In the meanwhile, we’ve been working on new music, and hope to record again sometime in 2021. Hopefully we’ll get to play the songs off Black Line live before the next record is out!

Labels: Church Road Records/Middle-Man Records/Narshardaa Records/Zegema Beach Records

Formats: Vinyl/CD/Tape/Digital

Release Date: 04 Dec 2020


1. Blight

2. Tempest

3. Cicatrice

4. Lost Virtue

5. Kindling

6. Embers To End

7. Flicker And Faint

8. To Our Dead Friends

9. Catacombs Part II

We all exist with hope in our hearts but sometimes life and it’s events try to quash that hope. We’re a social species and we thrive on interaction (for the most part), which is why this year has been tougher for us all. Respire’s decision to release their latest album towards the end of it seems like a master-stroke, even if not as originally planned. Their orchestral, post-rock/hardcore is a sound all of it’s own and while bands like We Came Out Like Tigers (RIP) and Dawn Ray’d have made use of strings within their music before, the flourishing sounds of violin and viola during opener ‘Blight’ point at something more rousing to come.

‘Tempest’ is Respire’s first song proper and with it you get the whole gamut, including black metal, hardcore, shoegaze and seemingly everything in between. It’s extreme yet melodic, with percussive blasts, heavy (sometimes violent) guitar work, the emotive screams of multiple voices and instrumental ambience that builds and holds drama at it’s core. The intensity of the full band experience is unmistakable on ‘Cicatrice’, which again goes in different directions with metallic hardcore riffs at one point and then the slow build of group vocals and orchestral melodies that lead to a plateau of extremity that’s angry yet controlled. The combination of musical elements really give the song a unique sound. 

As urgent and up-tempo as Black Line is, there’s still room for something more introspective and it comes in the form of ‘Lost Virtue’. Very much containing the visceral response of crust and anti-fascist music at it’s roots, this song grows in layers and textures as the spoken-word passages get faster, alongside the percussion and strings. Around the midway point saxophone joins in and signals the band’s explosion into blackened music once again. It’s kind of like two songs in one but there’s no escaping how engaging it is. From rallying, to angry, to cathartic. ‘Kindling’ provides some respite from the dissonance with bird-song and more genteel orchestral sounds that  are so well performed. All of the musicians within Respire know how to play and this whole album has been crafted with so much care and attention to detail. 

The second half of Black Line begins with the bleakness of ‘Embers To End’, which is made up of disparate screams, low growls and a heavy off-kilter display of musicianship, again majoring on black metal yet somehow ending up with an uplifting overtone thanks to the employment of more saxophone melodies, trumpet, strings and synths. Sometimes my ears fail me when trying to decipher the tones of certain instruments, so if my descriptions are wrong then I apologise. That aside, those instruments and effects really compliment then entire album instead of overpowering it. This is still very much a heavy record though. After that rollercoaster, ‘Flicker And Faint’ is a surprise thanks to it’s clean singing and stripped back make-up at first. It’s definitely more of a shoegaze song this time, but it doesn’t meander along like some do. There’s a purpose within the song just as there is with Respire. That purpose is beautiful and comforting.

From there you’re greeted by the punk-like rhythms and old-school emo/screamo of ‘To Our Dead Friends’. It’s a brief song compared to those that it follows but it’s impact is still the same. It starts off upbeat and then slows down as it progresses, becoming more heart-wrenching as it goes. So good! Album closer ‘Catacombs Part II’ comes around all too quickly and it’s mid-tempo approach seems right when bringing the record to it’s conclusion. Obviously, that’s not my only observation about it but it seems as though it’s here for Respire to rest and reflect, as much as it is for the listener. There’s no unexpected turns in the road at this point and you’re left with their best. Heart-on-the-sleeve music, sometimes emotionally frail yet mentally strong, with a message of hope and togetherness (at least to these ears anyway). I’ve gone on for far too long here, so all I’ll say in closing is give this your full attention if you haven’t already. It deserves it.

You can stream and purchase Black Line on all formats below:-

Respire -

You can also by physical copies from the labels below:-

Church Road Records -

Middle-Man Records -

Narshardaa Records -

Zegema Beach Records -

Church Road Records -

Middle-Man Records -

Narshardaa Records -

Zegema Beach Records -

Wednesday 2 December 2020

Fires In The Distance - Echoes From Deep November

Labels: Prosthetic Records

Formats: Vinyl/CD/Digital

Release Date: 18 Sep 2020


1. The Climb

2. Elusive Light

3. The Lock And The Key

4. Reflections In The Ice

5. Chained To The Earth

6. Sundial

This album's cover art has been sitting on my desktop, staring at me for a couple of days now. I didn't want to write a review of this (debut) release from US melodic doom/death band Fires In The Distance until I was in the right frame of mind and tonight is the right time. The album was released via Prosthetic Records (who seem to be signing everyone and releasing everything at the moment) in September. With snow supposedly on the way for us, it seems fitting to burrow into the warmth with something like this.

I don’t listen to enough melodic doom/death, especially any that’s this grandiose. Fires In The Distance are a new band to me and Echoes From Deep November promises a lot. Album opener ‘The Climb’ features gorgeous piano work, heavy but melodic riffs and mournful percussion. The vocals are proper low growls, with the music as a whole sitting somewhere between Moonspell, Omnium Gatherum and maybe Dark Tranquillity. Heady comparisons but it’s definitely more European sounding that American to these ears. The solo and extended instrumental mid-section certainly back that up.

From what was a slightly down-tempo opener, ‘Elusive Light’ dials things up slightly and adds in orchestral flourishes that sit perfectly alongside the modern metal delivered by Fires In The Distance. They’re a really creative band so the doom/death tag should not frighten you off if you’re not familiar with it. It majors on instrumental heft, with vocals that don’t take over but actually complement what’s on offer musically. That’s a hard thing to pull off!

As far as I’m concerned, you can stick all your catchy pop songs and singalong choruses. Riffs that are as catchy as those at the beginning of ‘The Lock And The Key’ are all I need. Add to that the electronica/guitar that follows to create a calming and pleasurable soundstage, and you’ve got yourself a banger, even before you get more than three-minutes in. It’s just so uplifting that you’ll forget you’re listening to extreme metal. The rest of the song is equally as empowering somehow, showing this quartet’s song-writing skill is more than just a fluke.

‘Reflections In The Ice’ teeters between being much more death-like and even more melodic. It’s those two opposites that combine together so well to create a unique body of music that’s missing from the overall heavy music community right now (unless I’m missing something, which I probably am). The longer song lengths that appear on Echoes From Deep November don’t outstay their welcome at all and if you’re someone who likes to invest the time and truly immerse yourself in a record, then this is definitely for you.

The electronica I referred to earlier takes centre stage on ‘Chained To The Earth’ and in turn helps it become a strange collage of goth, dance and extreme metal. That may seem like an unfair summary of this song but it’s close, albeit with music that’s much more intelligent than that description paints it out to be. You’re brought back towards more familiar territory with yet more exemplary lead work and precise kick drumming, so don’t focus too much on what I’ve just said. It’s really pleasing on ear.

Album closer ‘Sundial’ is a condensed version of everything else on this album, playing to the strengths of the musicians once again and galvanising what is already a really strong record from Fires In The Distance. It’s technical, melodic and powerful all in one go. Overall, Echoes From Deep November is a surprise. I wasn’t sure what to expect when hitting play, but like it’s artwork the album is professional, expertly crafted and memorable. I can’t wait to hear what comes from these guys next.

You can stream and purchase Echoes From Deep November on all formats via bandcamp below:-

Fires In The Distance -

Prosthetic Records -