Sunday 31 January 2021

I Love Your Lifestyle - I Was A Loser In School 7"

Labels: Good Post Day Records/Through Love Records/Unlock Yourself Records/Zegema Beach Records

Formats: Digital/Vinyl

Release Date: 06 Feb 2015


1. Prank

2. Zitch Dog

3. I Was A Loser In School

I promised another ZBR roster review before the end of the week and here it is! Staying with the pop/easier listening that seems to have taken over today, I'm covering this 7" from my favourite Swede's I Love Your Lifestyle. In fact, this 7" and the debut self-titled album are the only releases I don't own of their's yet. This three-track EP was released in early 2015 via the band digitally (with different cover art) and via Good Post Day Records, Through Love Records, Unlock Yourself Records and ZBR on vinyl. 

(cover art from ILYL's bandcamp page)

I’m sure some of you will already be familiar with ILYL by now. Their music is always upbeat, mixing punk with post-hardcore and indie too. The first song on this EP ‘Prank’ is filled with soaring vocal harmonies, ear-friendly guitar melody/percussion and a rawness that pokes through to add just a bit a bite. So good!

Sandwiched in between this EP’s longer songs is ‘Zitch Dog’, all sixty-seconds of it. It sounds like their usual hook-filled punk but sped-up five fold. They still manage to cram it with lovely music. The title track ‘I Was A Loser In School’ could well have been my soundtrack to secondary school, if it had been released 10 years earlier. I hated school in my teenage years but I can sit back and laugh about it now.

Feelings of angst and fighting back come through this song, but there’s also a feeling of togetherness thanks to the gang-like vocals later on. It all helps to shape something powerful and resonating. ILYL can do no wrong for me and revisiting their early releases has been a pleasure. Thanks to the band and to the labels involved for brining this music into the world.

You can stream and download it (name-your-price) below:-

Physical copies are still available from ZBR below (sold out everywhere else):-


Good Post Day Records -

Through Love Records -

Unlock Yourself Records -

Zegema Beach Records -

A Culture Of Killing - S/T

Labels: Self-Released/Voice From Inside Tapes/Detriti Records/Drunken Sailor Records

Formats: Digital/Tape/Vinyl

Release Date: 27 Dec 2017 (taken from A Culture Of Killing's bandcamp page)


1. Walls

2. I Wonder Why

3. Take Me Away

4. Dancing

5. War

6. We Can Never Go Back

7. Mirror Breaks (The Mob cover)

8. Was It Worth It?

I was looking through some copies of MRR last night that I've kept in a cupboard (I'm a bit of a hoarder when it comes to music related stuff) and I can feel a proper deep dive into punk music coming on. I haven't been sharing enough lately, so that's gonna change. Also, I saw an e-mail pop up in my inbox from Drunken Sailor Records telling me about the newest release from Italian band A Culture Of Killing, so I thought I'd give their first album a spin before writing about that one.

There's not a great deal of information existing about A Culture Of Killing and aside from bandcamp, there's no social media presence as far as I can tell. They exist somewhere between post-punk, anarcho punk and no wave, and their self-titled album was released at the back end of 2017, before Ukrainian label Voice From Inside Tapes pressed it on tape in 2018. Following that, German label Detriti Records did a tape re-press a year later before UK label Drunken Sailor Records gave it it's first vinyl release in May 2020.

Last day of January and I want to blast through a few things today, so starting early is always good. I guess the post-punk/anarcho punk description in my intro paragraph above might have painted a bleaker picture than what you’re actually presented with on this album. First song ‘Walls’ is actually a lot more melodic and power-pop influenced, with minimal use of the kind of reverb you expect from the darker sides of punk. It’s fantastic so far and is the perfect antidote to the progressive, symphonic nature of Italian metal.

It’s very 80’s in approach and A Culture Of Killing doesn’t merely copy the sound. They make it their own while paying respect to those that helped influence them. ‘I Wonder Why’ has gloomier undertones but is still upbeat enough to stop you from moping. I’m really trying to hold back from mentioning the obvious comparison when hearing those low vocals. When they’re joined by the repeating guitar riffs on ‘Take Me Away’ it becomes almost hypnotic. The mid-paced percussion and bass are equally mesmerizing and in spite of the tempo, you stay hooked right to the end.

On hearing the opening riff on ‘Dancing’, I could’ve sworn I’d reviewed this album before but I haven’t. Anyway, this is the first of a couple of shorter songs and it keeps a steady pace with A Culture Of Killing never threatening to blow up in tempo or volume. I think this is what makes them so approachable, especially if you’re not a fan of more raucous punk. They are fun though and ‘War’ is a protest song wrapped up in a brief slab of goth pop with bright melody joining the party. 

By the time you get to ‘We Can Never Go Back’ (if you’re anything like me) you’ll be in a state of bizarre bliss, just enjoying what you’re hearing. That’s the hold music has over us, it helps us drown out the noise that’s bombarding us from all directions in life. This simple yet inspired punk is the ideal tonic and with that in mind, A Culture Of Killing turn their hands to a cover of The Mob’s ‘Mirror Breaks’ and it’s great. The addition of synths or brass (I think my ears are deceiving me here) is perfect. Actually now I think about it, I wonder if The Mob is where Tim Armstrong (Rancid) got inspiration from for side-band Transplants (random unrelated thought there!). 

With their final throw of the dice A Culture Of Killing asks ‘Was It Worth It?’ and the answer is most definitely yes. The band does it their way and if you didn’t know when this record was released, you wouldn’t say in the 2010’s that’s for sure. Punk blurs the lines between old and new so well and this album is a strong example of that. I’m going to look forward to hearing that new album now! 

You can stream the whole album and grab it as a name-your-price download below:-

Physical copies can be purchased (if still available) via the below links or via Discogs:-

Voice From Inside Tapes (Tape) -

Detriti Records (Tape repress) - Sold Out

Drunken Sailor Records (Vinyl) - Sold Out

Voice Of Inside Tapes -

Detriti Records -

Drunken Sailor Records -

Saturday 30 January 2021

Sea Sleeper - Nostophobia

Labels: Metal Assault Records

Formats: CD/Digital

Release Date: 05 Feb 2021


1. Salt

2. Old Guard

3. Coffin Salesman

4. Mountain Carver

5. George Van Tasssel

6. Nostophobia

7. Far More Than Sustenance Now

8. Low

It's crazy that it's almost the end of January! I feel like I haven't even scratched the surface when it comes to early 2021 releases yet, let alone delved deeper into the ever growing backlog. That being said, today's first review contains another debut album, this time from US progressive/post-metal trio Sea Sleeper, which will officially be released next Friday via Metal Assault Records. I don't know a great deal about them other than that members have played in different bands for decades within their local scene. While I'm reviewing this from the promo I was sent, I took to bandcamp to see the recommendations for similar artists and it listed Ulcerate, Death, Gruesome, Psycroptic, Convulsing, Opeth and Katatonia! Not a band bunch there! I know comparisons don't mean much and I'm not going to measure Sea Sleeper against those bands, but it's good to have a guide for new listeners.

Here goes another leap into the unknown with the debut record from US prog/death/post-metal band Sea Sleeper and straight off the bat, opener ‘Salt’ is a curiously heavy death metal song with more than a hint of experimentation. I say it’s curious because there’s a good dollop of progressive/sci-fi elements akin to the likes of Cynic and Blood Incantation, while still maintaining a solid level of brutality from every instrument and vocal pattern. It’s quite bass-heavy too, which is fine as it add heft to the music and stops it from sounding too thin. 

It’s amazing how Sea Sleeper manages to make ‘Old Guard’ sound longer and more encompassing than the opener, but it sounds that way. There are glimpses into doomier old-school death here, interspersed with clean singing. The guitar tones really stand out as well, they’re not overly metallic but they do add menace and melody.

There’s a lot going on throughout this recording if you listen to it at volume. ‘Coffin Salesman’ is proof of that with a musical approach from the band that belies it’s title. There are slams here, but not obtuse ones and it’s more straight-forward death in parts, while forever treading a horror-like/slasher movie path. It’s very hard to explain it accurately, but the latter half of the song sounds almost like the heavy metal of Haunt but slowed down and layered over the aforementioned death metal. That’s how I see it anyway (I’m probably way off).

The mammoth ‘Mountain Carver’ takes the prog/heavy metal influences a step further with much greater use of clean vocals during the it’s first few minutes, before harsher screams take over and Sea Sleeper’s extremity comes back into sight. They switch between the two dynamics throughout the song and never stay the same for too long. It rounds out the first half of the album with real purpose.

Brutality is the word on ‘George Van Tassel’. Plain and simple, it’s hard to describe it as anything else. Technical and too-the-point. Sea Sleeper are so strong instrumentally that it seems at times as though the vocals are not needed. That’s not a criticism though, as they add plenty to the record but like all great prog/death bands before them, it’s all about the instruments and the song-writing.

The album’s title-track ‘Nostophobia’ has more urgency but still demands attention from you as a listener. It’s off-kilter time signatures and riffs that turn on a dime keep you very much on your toes. What follows it goes even further down that rabbit hole. ‘Far More Than Sustenance Now’ mixes up everything that Sea Sleeper throws into this album and spews it out in one unholy, noisy lump of craziness. For all that though, it’s still rhythmic and dare I say groovy at times.

It’s apt that the closing song is called ‘Low’ as that’s exactly what it seems to be tuned to. The bass is once again very prominent and it fits the obscure nature of the song. I use obscure because it’s just mad but also totally listenable and fun. That kind of describes this whole album. It’s filled with heaviness, but it’s feet are kept firmly on the ground by the clean vocals and the buzzing melody. If ever there was a year for discovering new creative bands, 2021 feels like that year. Sea Sleeper deserve to get all the attention when Nostophobia sees it’s full release next week.

You can stream four songs in advance of the release via bandcamp below, where you can also pre-order it on cd or digitally:-

Sea Sleeper -

Metal Assault Records -

Wednesday 27 January 2021

Via Fondo - Efter, Utan Under

Labels: Through Love Records/Tokyo Jupiter Records/Zegema Beach Records

Formats: Vinyl/CD/Digital

Release Date: 11 May 2014


1. Avstangd

2. Var Inte Radd, Min Van

3. Jag Vill Anda Vakna

4. Januari

5. Vita Staket

6. Isolerat Kall

7. Morkret

8. Strategi

I realised the other day that I hadn't done one of these for over a week (I promised myself I'd write one Zegema Beach Records roster review each week), so instead you're gonna get two over the coming days. One tonight and one over the weekend, in between a myriad of newer releases. It's been a strange few days as since 23rd of Jan, each day has seen blog views rise well beyond the 1,000 mark and I want to make sure that keeps happening, not for any personal gain (I've been told in no uncertain terms that I can't monetise the blog because it contains 'too many swear words') but because it means that more people are checking out the bands I'm writing about.

Anyway, enough about me and more about tonight's centrepiece. Efter, Utan Under was(or is) the first and only full-length to come from Sweden's Via Fondo. After an initial digital self-release back in May 2014, the album saw a full vinyl release thanks to both Through Love Records (EU) and Zegema Beach Records (CAN/USA) a little later on, alongside a CD release from Tokyo Jupiter Records (JPN). 

It’s not often that I start a review close to or past the 8pm mark (mainly due to my own laziness) but I’ve gone a few days without writing and I wanted to remedy that. Being pretty at ease with life right now, despite the current lockdown and waiting for five records to arrive, sinking into more music only makes sense. Via Fondo is a band that I’ve reviewed here in the past, though that was a few years ago now. Back then it was the Fast EP that caught my attention, which was released in the same year as Efter, Utan Under

Opening song ‘Avstangd’ is melodic yet slightly jagged screamo/post-hardcore with percussion and guitar raised up in the mix, and vocals lower down. It’s mid-paced for the most part but there are occasional fast bits as well. I love how the tempo of ‘Var Inte Radd, Min Van’ gets faster even before the full band kicks in. It isn’t a song that sticks around very long though it’s groove and steadiness later on make it one to dance too, if that’s your thing! It’s infectious in the same way that Refused and The Hives are, while being completely separated from both of those comparisons.

‘Jag Vill Anda Vakna’ presents a vey different atmosphere thanks the higher-pitched, semi-clean vocals employed during it’s first half. They really compliment Via Fondo’s music and even when the harsher vocals join in, they’re still prominent. The song’s latter half is instrumental and it builds a whole heap of anticipation for what’s to come. That anticipation leads to the album’s longest, grandest track ‘Januari’, which is a slightly more caustic take on Via Fondo’s screamo with subtle crust elements hidden within the music in places. There’s something really organic and innocent about this album and it’s encompassed within this song. So much feeling was put into this release and it leaps out at you on every listen.

‘Vita Staket’ utilises Via Fondo’s very adept melodic and instrumental skill once again, where it’s plain to see that they favour musicality over anything that could be considered lazy and commercial. That should come as no surprise though. Oddly enough, as you get deeper into the second-half of the album, the music becomes slightly more simplistic and ‘Isolerat Kall’ is a mix of lighter passages and crunching hardcore that gives a sense of two sides coming together. The percussion; however, is anything but simplistic and the off-kilter rhythms produced lead you down an ever deeper rabbit hole that should have been spotted much earlier. It’s great!

Penultimate song ‘Morkret’ brings together Via Fondo’s penchant for classy, structured melody and the dissonant hardcore that makes their heavier moments so engrossing, turning it into the catchiest and most listenable song on the album, at least for me. There’s a repetition amongst it’s hooks that really makes you smile, while the post-hardcore backbone keeps everything grounded. Album closer ’Strategi’ is the polar opposite of the song it follows, instead trusting in the band’s punk/crust influences to propel it forwards in a much more chaotic fashion. It’s hard to truly do it justice but there’s no denying it’s ability to energise and galvanise. In short, Efter, Utan Under is still a release to be proud of and while Via Fondo are silent their legacy lives on. Screamo/Post-hardcore bands seem to live fast and die young (so to speak) but in doing so, they leave a much greater impact.

You can stream Efter, Utan Under and download it (name-your-price) below:-

Via Fondo -

Physical copies are still available via the below links:-

Through Love Records -

Tokyo Jupiter Records -

Through Love Records -

Tokyo Jupiter Records -

Zegema Beach Records -

Sunday 24 January 2021

Stellar Death - Fragments Of Light

Labels: Self-Released

Formats: Digital

Release Date: 08 Jan 2021


1. The Astronomer

2. Endless

3. Betelgeuse

4. Binary Collapse

5. Approaching The Singularity

6. Everywhere And. Nowhere

7. Critical Mass (That Which Cannot Be Created)

8. Afterglow

2021 has already thrown up some really good releases and I'm sure many more are nestling in my inbox (they say time is infinite but right now it seems like it's flying by!). This is quite a poignant review considering the members that make up instrumental project Stellar Death reside in Washington D.C., which, has recently been besieged by Kool-aid drinkers (sorry, I know that saying is overused now). That's enough of politics though. Fragments Of Light is the band's latest album, having been released just a week or so ago. It turns out that it's the band's debut album and is currently available digitally.

I’ve really grown to love instrumental music over the years and by that I mean genuine instrumental music. I appreciate ambient noise/synth type stuff too, but this form seems a lot more engaging to me. It’s my first time hearing Stellar Death and album opener ‘The Astronomer’ is a mix of lighter melodic sounds and occasional crunching heaviness. The guitars stay up front, while the percussion and keys add extra bite and texture respectively. Slightly progressive but not in an obtuse way, leaning more towards the straightforward make up of metal in general (metalcore springs to mind for some reason).

‘The Astronomer’ was seven minutes long, which shows you Stellar Death’s keenness for thought provoking and immersive pieces. Rather ironically though, ‘Endless’ is the album’s shortest song and even with that in mind, it’s an excellently delivered and calming song. The recording, mixing and mastering on the album allows it to come alive as well, with the soundscapes of ‘Betelgeuse’ swirling around your ears in the most cinematic way. It’s like you’re surrounded by huge surround sound speakers, such is the effect.

The bass guitar work on Fragments Of Light deserves a proper mention at this point as it offers so much more than just added low-end. It comes to the fore in a greater way on ‘Binary Collapse’ and highlights how important it is to any post-metal band. It’s clear throughout the album but just stands out here for some reason. The song overall is a real mix of heavier hitting layers and comforting, soothing swathes of sound. It leads you into the album’s second half before you know it.

Song-writing is very highly regarded by Stellar Death here and none more so is that true, than on ‘Approaching The Singularity’, which is gentle during it’s first half before building in volume and dissonance as the second half take over. Not all music requires vocals and this song proves why. I’ve been trying to resist searching for a comparison to this band, as I think it’s not necessary to name drop all the time and I’m gonna stick to that because just when I was expecting another airy song, the band drops something a whole lot heavier, at least in parts on ‘Everywhere And Nowhere’. It’s actually quite a variety track too and makes more use of orchestral keys towards the end, balancing the aforementioned dissonance.

The truest post-metal comes in the form of penultimate song ‘Critical Mass (That Which Cannot Be Created)’ and as it plays, it reminds me of how tired I feel. Don’t take that the wrong way though, as it’s not boring by any stretch. I’m just three weeks into the new year and already feel like it’s been three months! This is the most ambient song on Fragments Of Light and once again it’s helped on it’s way by more orchestral keyboard work and even brief but stirring percussion. 

Album closer ‘Afterglow’ is a shorter ambient piece and is quite a fitting end to the record. It’s orchestral and classical, while being dramatic too. It shows the influences and the song-writing skills of Stellar Death. It doesn’t matter that there’s nothing heavy about it, as that’s not the band’s m.o. Overall, Fragments Of Light is a brilliant body of work and one that’s very mature given it’s debut status. The album will appeal to music lovers far and wide, even those not interested in metal.

You can stream and purchase Fragments Of Light digitally below:-

Stellar Death -

Monday 18 January 2021

Gravehuffer - NecroEclosion

Labels: Black Doomba Records

Formats: Vinyl/CD/Digital

Release Date: 15 Jan 2021


1. Custom Of The Sea

2. Hellhound

3. Sights To The Sky

4. Death Before Disco

5. Stingray

6. Smaller Than Death

7. Ghost Dance

8. Quarantine War Machine

9. Causes

10. Backpack

11. Madwolf

Back again tonight with another new release from Black Doomba Records (USA) and this time it's the third full-length from Gravehuffer, from Missouri. NecroEclosion was officially released last week and it captures eleven songs of all kinds, featuring thrash, grind, crust and doom along the way. Gravehuffer have been plying their trade in various forms since 2008 and this time they welcome guests from Voidvod, Annihiliator and Nevermore amongst others! 

This is a bewildering album, with opening song ‘Custom Of The Sea’ sounding like some kind of crazed thrash metal sea shanty, spliced with grind and death metal. The deep growls are pretty mean, while the instrumentation is menacing and fast, which, makes complete sense when up next to the higher pitched screams that also frequent the song. The samples Gravehuffer use definitely show that their roots are entwined in grind/punk and ‘Hellhound’ goes by super fast, thanks to it’s really upbeat tempo and gung-ho approach. There’s fun to be had with this record, trust me!

Gravehuffer’s influences stretch far and wide, and on ‘Sights To The Sky’ they come full circle thanks to a guest appearance from Voivod guitarist Dan ‘Chewy’ Mongrain, who helps provide a fantastic solo in a way that only he can. The overall song is dedicated to space and the Apollo mission, as you might have guessed from it’s intro. It’s really good and at times reminds me of the most recent songs from Total Fucking Destruction. From there, things get totally weird on ‘Death Before Disco’, where instead of metal you get an homage to The Bee Gees to start with before Gravehuffer flips the song on it’s head and returns back to their nasty, grinding best. 

It’s over all to quickly and you’re immediately dragged into ’Stingray’, which sees all band members providing gnarly vocals while also thrashing away with some real groove. The addition of a top notch solo from Craig Hecht helps raise the entertainment level up further. There haven’t been many opportunities thus far to hear their doom/sludge chops but ’Smaller Than. Death’ is where it’s at if you like it slow. The band do it really well too as it seems to get slower and slower during the first ninety seconds, before it becomes a chugging beast akin to L.D. 50-era Mudvayne, which is certainly no bad thing. There’s another guest appearance here, courtesy of Annihiliator/Nevermore’s Curran Murphy who adds a solo, which comes towards the end of the song and fits perfectly once again.

The second half of the album comes at you in seemingly no time at all and ‘Ghost Dance’ is a no nonsense rager, but one with an accessible groove, which seems to be a characteristic of Gravehuffer’s sound here. ‘Quarantine War Machine’ is the audible equivalent of what most of us are currently screaming in our heads at this moment in time and it’s just a straightforward smash through that metaphoric brick wall. It’s one of the best songs on NecroEclosion in my opinion. ‘Causes’ is another super slab of silly grind that will make you smile from ear to ear. The added horns from Doug Discharry are a super nice touch as well. 

It’s left to the final duo of ‘Backpack’ and ‘Madwolf’ to hammer home exactly what Gravehuffer is all about. ‘Backpack’ is another bouncy yet angry monster, while ‘Madwolf’, complete with additional horns, is more akin to a hardcore song to start with and is quite stirring, and oddly atmosphere-laden for something so brutal. Despite all of the different genres and bands mentioned above, it’s really difficult to truly place Gravehuffer here, so it’s best to take them as they are and enjoy their music, because they clearly do. I also want to shout out the added vocals of Stan Boman, as I realise I didn’t mention them further up due to not knowing where they slotted into the album. In conclusion, this is madcap but so enjoyable and I’m sure plenty of you will like it.

You can stream and purchase NecroEclosion below:-

Gravehuffer -

Black Doomba Records -

Sunday 17 January 2021

Escarion - Pillars Of The Faith

Labels: Self-Released

Formats: Digital

Release Date: 29 Jan 2021


1. Inferno

2. Envy

3. Gluttony

4. Lust

5. Greed

6. Pride

7. Wrath

8. Sloth

9. Home (Where The Heart Is)

I guess I should write another review, seeing as I'm putting off committing my face to Youtube for the first time (it's something I'm thinking of doing in 2021). Anyway, back on the 2021 release trail with this, the debut album from Australian death metal band Escarion. Pillars Of The Faith will be self-released by the band on 29th January. Though t's subject matter focuses mainly on the seven deadly sins and the album title points towards a religious leaning (I don't care for religion at all), there's no evidence of it taking centre stage on this self-professed concept album, In fact, Escarion count the likes of Behemoth, Death and Trivium as influences so this should be a really good listen.

Escarion’s take on death metal is a technical one and despite the melodic intro to ‘Inferno’, their musicianship is filled with off-kilter phrasing and time-signatures. That said, it’s more old school than it is brutal here, as they slow things down and use atmosphere from the guitars to paint the scene. The drumming is spot on and the vocals are delivered with power and control. ‘Envy’ is where their obsession with the seven deadly sins begins and ignoring the concept for a second, it’s the instrumentation that really captures your attention. The guitar work is fantastic, while the low-end and drumming stays the right side of clinical, which is great as sometimes overly technical bands can sound like that. So far so unholy.

Escarion teases with their slower-paced intros, like the one at the beginning of ‘Gluttony’. From a fan of the slower, murkier forms of death metal I was hoping the song would go in that direction and it kind of does, albeit for a brief passage. I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy the song as it is though, as the progression and fretboard wizardry at play here are very impressive to say the least. Even the shorter playing time doesn’t harm it and the band manages to fill it’s bars with plenty of variation, musically. It’s at the point of ‘Lust’ that you really get truly sucked into Escarion’s sound and as the title suggests, you start to want it more and more. It’s infectious to say the least and even with the volume turned down (because I realised I was in danger of angering my neighbours) it still sounds excellent, which isn’t often the case with extreme metal. 

At the mid point of the album you’re greeted by probably the most brutal song on Pillars Of The Faith, ‘Greed’. It’s just wall to wall kick-drums and low as hell growls, coupled with a mix of buzzsaw and harmonic guitars, dragging things in a more modern direction again. Angular at times, but also satisfyingly thrashing as well. Also, it’s towards the end of ‘Greed’ and during the next song ‘Pride’ that you being to hear a bit more of the Trivium influence within Escarion’s sound, which is no bad thing at all. Kinda reminds me of ‘Ascendency’. There are some symphonic elements within ‘Pride’ but they’re overpowered by the heft of the band’s death metal so don’t worry too much. It is one of the longest songs on the album and while it is stop/start in places, there’s no holding back the momentum of things so far. In fact, Escarion manage the whole album really well considering it nearly reaches an hour in playing time across it’s nine songs. You’ll never be bored with this, put it that way. 

I know that sometimes my reviews can be a bit too long for your attention spans, but I don’t care one jot. Just keep listening to ‘Wrath’ and eventually you’ll come across a solo that’s worthy of repeat listens all on it’s own. That’s before you even get to the mammoth time changes and frenetic fret movements. It’s incredibly hard to balance the differing variants of death metal and keep them cohesive, yet Escarion manages it so well. On ‘Sloth’ there’s a definite turn towards something more mid-paced, at least for about a minute, before another blast of math-like technicality quashes the illusion. I like the technicality, don’t take my previous sentence the wrong way, but I guess I’m realising that the nasty, murkier old-school sound is the one for me, though I’d never advocate a band change their sound at all and Escarion do what they do exceptionally well, especially considering this is their debut!

And so it’s left to final song ‘Home (Where The Heart Is) to unleash one final blast of brutality upon your ears. It’s strange though as it’s also the most mainstream mid-section of the whole album (that was way too much alliteration for one evening!) but it leads to one hell of a majestic second-half and it closes out Pillars Of The Faith brilliantly. Overall, this is a fine debut album to put it mildly. It’ll appeal to fan of both the old school and also modern death metal and shows that 2021 is starting off strongly. If new bands like Escarion sound this good, what are more established band’s going to should like!

You can stream both 'Envy' and 'Greed' below, where you can also digitally pre-order the album:-

Escarion -

Saturday 16 January 2021

Congratulations - Demo

Labels: Skeletal Lighting/Zegema Beach

Formats: Tape/Digital

Release Date: 26 Nov 2014


1. Aren't You Frightened Skinny, Scary Skeleton?

2. Stars And Lights

3. This Summer

4. Your Halo Glistens

5. Gospel

I'm taking a break from my endless inbox to chalk up another review in my Zegema Beach Records roster series. This was the first demo from short-lived Canadian screamo/indie band Congratulations. It was released in late 2014 on tape and digitally via both Skeletal Lightning Records and Zegema Beach Records, coming three years before the band's split with Swiss post-hardcore band The Rabbit Theory, which I reviewed back in 2018. This demo contains five tracks and is long sold out as far as I can tell.

Another weekend of isolation, doing jobs and jamming music due to the current situation is actually fine with me. I’m comfortable in my own company and this demo is a startlingly good accompaniment to the moment I find myself in. Opener ‘Aren’t You Frightened Skinny, Scary Skeleton?’ is just a beautiful piece of post-hardcore. It’s not overtly violent and is cinematic, with vocals that go from harsh screams to considered semi-spoken and clean. The instrumentation is very much the same, with a lot of melody and atmosphere.

‘Stars And Lights’ brings to mind bands like Interpol and very early Killers during the intro, as the melodic guitar plays a very indie-like bunch of riffs. It’s a groove-filled, danceable track that would sit alongside those bands and I Love Your Lifestyle for sure. I love it!

I’m definitely going to have to go back and spin their split with The Rabbit Theory. It’s a pit they wrote and released so few songs, but quality over quantity is welcome all the same. ‘This Summer’ is heavier than the song it follows, but only really in the verses. Congratulations had such a great dynamic on this demo and it’s a lot more polished and complete than you’d expect of a first release.

The other thing with noting about this demo is the compact song-lengths, they’re long enough for Congratulations to say what they want to say with their music but short enough not to loose impact. Penultimate song ‘Your Halo Glistens’ is a glorious ballad (of sorts) that makes me want to leave these four walls and walk around the snowy neighbourhood with it filling my ears. I might do that later on, in a safe and socially distanced manner of course!

It’s fitting then that the demo closer is a song like ‘Gospel’, which is at the other end of the spectrum, being louder and higher in tempo. Punk rhythms are joined by distant screams and both rumbling bass, and that glorious guitar tone that adds so much to the song and indeed the whole release. 

Congratulations was a band that went too soon in my opinion (though I'm not fully convinced that they aren't active anymore, perhaps someone could confirm this). This demo is perfect. I’m going to try and seek a copy out after this. If you’ve not heard this or of the band in general, then rectify that now, as you can listen and grab the demo digitally as a name-your-price download.

I was wrong when I presumed these tapes were sold out, as there appears to be copies still available from Zegema Beach Records here -

Skeletal Lightning Records -

Zegema Beach Records -

Thursday 14 January 2021

DayGlo Mourning - Dead Star

Labels: Black Doomba Records

Formats: CD/Digital

Release Date: 10 Feb 2021


1. Dead Star

2. The Offering

3. Bloodghast

4. Faithful Demise

5. Ashwhore

6. Witch's Ladder

When this promo hit my inbox, the first thing that struck me was the artwork (created by Montdoom). It's so colourful and pleasing on the eye. I love it when a band marries their music up with such art, which in turn helps build their whole aesthetic. US stoner/doom band DayGlo Mourning are set to release their second full-length Dead Star via Black Doomba Records on 10th February. It follows their debut self-titled full-length from 2018 and their split 12" of the same year, with label mates Bludy Gyres. 

It snowed again today so I’ve got the heating on a bit higher, though nothing beats the warming tones of doom/stoner as part of an evening relaxation routine! Opening with title track ‘Dead Star’, DayGlo Mourning launches into some great and groovy doom rock. They are the archetypal power-trio and it shows here, with a considered yet experimental sound filled with rumbling bass, powerful drums, thunderous melodic riffs (do those two descriptors even work together?!) and semi-clean vocals that hark back to the old days of the genre. A slow and steady start, but one that’s super enjoyable.

Again, the traditionalist will love ‘The Offering’ with it’s nod towards traditional heavy metal, albeit the slower kind. It’s quite a simple song in terms of structure and delivery but more often that not, simple is more effective and the quiet verse/loud instrumental layout makes it all the more nostalgic. The awesome guitar effects towards the end add a cosmic element to the music too, which is no surprise when you gaze at the cover art.

The fuller fuzzy sound of ‘Bloodghast’ takes hold fairly sharpish soon after and the bass tones can be heard loud and proud. There’s something tribal about the percussive rhythm here but it’s only really there during the verses. DayGlo Mourning step through different movements on this seven-minute slab, which is by no means a slow burn. This is going to sound like a very strange thing to say but this album becomes more engrossing when you’re not giving it your full attention. I say that because if you concentrate on it too closely, the riffs don’t have the same impact at all. The music as a whole envelopes you and grips you so tightly, you don’t want it to let go. 

The low-end heaviness of ‘Faithful Demise’ will bring a grin to the face of even the hardest of metal fans, purely by being exactly what it is, heavy. Again, DayGlo Mourning employs the whole quiet/loud dynamic, which works so well for their music. It’s not brash, instead being comforting and approachable, even for newcomers to the genre. That’s a good trait to have I think.

The awesomely title ‘Ashwhore’ is probably the strongest song on Dead Star in my opinion. There’s a real sense of confidence and drive to it right from the start. Also, alongside the clean vocals, harsher vocals join the party and provide some added bite. Instrumentally, it’s super tight and when they dive into that free jazz/groove passage towards then end, it’s truly a dream of a listen. 

The trio ends it all with the sinister and slightly occult ‘Witch’s Ladder’. They threatened this sort of thing earlier on and it does go hand in hand with the chosen musical direction of DayGlo Mourning, but here it’s amplified and gladly received. I guess as a summary, the music would sit right next to the likes of Candlemass and The Devil’s Blood, as well as Kyuss too. Even though people will no doubt try to truly pigeonhole this album, it’s more varied than you think. My advice it to enjoy it for what it is, which is a damn good doom album. 

You can stream and check out the video for album opener 'Dead Star' via bandcamp below, where you can also pre-order the album on cd and digital formats:-

DayGlo Mourning -

Black Doomba Records -

Wednesday 13 January 2021

Sense Offender/They Live We Sleep - Split

Labels: Trepanation Recordings/F H E D Records

Formats: CD/Tape/Digital

Release Date: 04 Dec 2020


1. Sense Offender - Flatline Connectors

2. Sense Offender - Cancer Eater

3. Sense Offender - Feeding Tubes

4. They Live We Sleep - Vacant Host

5. They Live We Sleep - Suffer Silent

6. They Live We Sleep - False Gods

Here's one I should have reviewed earlier! This split features sludgy, math-like hardcore band Sense Offender and ferocious metallic hardcore band They Live We Sleep (not to be confused with German post-hardcore/screamo band They Sleep We Live, RIP), both of whom are from the UK. It was released in early December by UK label Trepanation Recordings on cd and digitally and by F H E D Records on tape, with three songs coming from each band.

First up is Sense Offender with ‘Flatline Connectors’  and after a sludgy/post-metal intro, the quartet’s mathy hardcore takes hold for what becomes a crazed exhibition of violence and grinding intensity. I wasn’t sure how they could maintain a song of this length, but their creativity and musicianship makes it work. As people reading this may know, there’s been a real rise of mathcore/myspace-grind bands over the last two years or so and while it would be unfair to lump Sense Offender in with that lot, they certainly add their own flair to the sub-genre.

From here on in, Sense Offender get a lot faster and blast through ‘Cancer Eater’ in next to no time at all. Pure UK mathcore goodness with a heavy slant towards the chaotic hardcore of Cursed and Gaza, amongst others. Their final song ‘Feeding Tubes’ is no shrinking violet either and is an amalgamation of everything that makes heavy music so great. The atmosphere, the death/black metal touches, the metallic guitar, pummelling drums and caustic/ripping vocals. It’s all alive and truly kicking!

They Live We Sleep begin in more immediate fashion with their first song ‘Vacant Host’. Their’s is a more hardcore approach, albeit one inspired by bands like Cult Leader and Trap Them. Not too far removed then from Sense Offender, but without the mathiness. It doesn’t harm their sound though, which is certainly more metallic. ’ Suffer Silent’ is; however, off-kilter and utterly ridiculous in places, though They Live We Sleep do control themselves and throw in plenty of murky, dense sludge undertones that help them create a proper wall of noise. The more you listen to this split the more infectious in becomes.  

They end the split with ‘False Gods’, which lives up to the name thanks to countless amounts of rage and general disdain channelled through the music. There’s very subtle melody residing in the depths of this song, which give it a haunting atmosphere at times and as it all crumbles into sonic chaos during the final bars, you’re left reeling in it’s wake.

If you could capture your current frustration and mood in a musical form, it would surely sound something like this split. Both Sense Offender and They Live We Sleep are totally on form and demand return listens, if only for their sheer power. I’m sure more will be coming from both bands but until that time, this will keep you satisfied in even the darkest of ways.

You can stream, download and buy this split on cd via Trepanation Recordings below:-

It's also available on tape from F H E D Records here -

Sense Offender -

They Live We Sleep -

Trepanation Recordings -

F H E D Records -