Monday 29 May 2023

CERE - Endless Days

Labels: Black Basset Records

Formats: Digital

Release Date: 03 Sep 2021


1. Uncanny Valley

2. Exit Road

3. Annihilation

4. Assault

5. Umbrellas

6. Roses

Writing this review is both heart-warming and slightly humiliating (on my part). Heart-warming because Belgian band CERE has links to countrymen Mont-Dore, a band whom I reviewed back in August 2016 and whose guitarist Pierre Toussaint took the time to write to tell me about his new band. The humiliating part is that I only noticed his e-mail in my inbox last week. CERE has more in common with Mont-Dore too, as their debut release Endless Days has been made available digitally by Black Basset Records (alongside the band themselves). They play noise-rock/punk and have been lucky enough to support the likes of Nothing, Rolo Tomassi and Birds In Row in recent times.

This evening brings a lovely period of leave to an end. I march onward though and I want to finish May with a flourish of sorts. Belgian band CERE are new to me, though one third of it’s trio is not. It feels truly humbling that Pierre took the time to write to me after nearly seven years (following my Mont-Dore review in 2016). CERE’s own description of noise-punk is very accurate on opener ‘Uncanny Valley’, as high-octane punk clashes with noise-rock and caustic vox. It’s very upbeat and at times reminds me of early Orchestra Of Wolves-era Gallows if they jammed alongside Unsane and Chat Pile.

CERE count post-punk amongst their influences sound-wise and it’s clearer on ‘Exit Road’ where that influence comes from, yet there’s also a further snotty British-punk vibe going on as well. Another thing that’s really notable on this recording is it’s sheer volume with the vocals sitting right at the top in piercingly good form. As trio’s go, this one is absolutely blown out and incredible. ’’Annihilation’ is the most accurately named song-title on this record, as it also aptly describes the sheer sonic madness that’s being pursued by CERE. Admittedly, it’s not the most intense song on here but it’s no less enjoyably, with more post-punk and some great guitar effects too.

The second half of Endless Days begins in earnest with ‘Assault’ and it’s total assault on the senses. The slightly pensive intro gives way to something altogether more furious and intense, and it’s the intensity that spills over into penultimate number ‘Umbrellas’. Belgium has always been a stronghold of hardcore (Arkangel) , death metal (Aborted) and grind (Agathocles), apologies for the A’s, but CERE proves that there’s much more to the nation than that. 

Closing Endless Days with ‘Roses’, CERE weave’s in so many different elements, including cinematic post-rock, black metal and post-hardcore. It’s a fantastic song to end on, although that end comes way too quickly. There’s a truly invigorating rawness to CERE’s sound. I yearn to hear this in an intimate live setting, with bass tones bouncing off walls into my ears and sweat dripping onto my head. In fact there’s a venue here in Harrogate (Yorkshire) where they would fit perfectly if ever a UK tour were to happen. Please make it happen!.

You can stream and purchase Endless Days digitally from CERE below:-

It's also available from Black Basset Records here -


Black Basset Records -

Friday 26 May 2023

Rutka Laskier - Protiklady

Labels: Ffud Rec/Happy Mutant/Stoned To Death/Pure Heart Records/Zegema Beach Records

Formats: Vinyl/Tape/Digital

Release Date: 26 Apr 2018


1. Klaun

2. Vycpávač Ptáků

3. Jupiter

4. Jestřáb

5. Na Cestách

6. Schodištěm

7. Padena

8. Vltava

It feels so refreshing to have had this week off. I spent the early part of it working out me review schedule for the next few weeks and I was positive that I could smash through some of it over the last seven days, but I ended up taking some downtime instead. What seems like an age ago now, I committed to writing a series of reviews focusing on the ever growing roster of CAN/USA label Zegema Beach Records and even though I’ve seemingly bitten off more than I can chew, I’m not giving up and this is the latest review in that series.

Rutka Laskier (from Czechia) is a name I’ve heard of and read about more recently, and even though Protiklady was released over five years ago now, there’s still plenty of reason to spin it. Rutka Laskier’s sound on opener ‘Klaun’ is very much rooted in post-hardcore and off-kilter screamo without being too harsh (at least until the closing thirty seconds anyway). ‘Vycpávač Ptáků’ is more pensive and introspective. Spoken word lyrics sit atop of the instrumentation, which is tempered back to begin with. Even when it increases in volume and tempo, it’s still controlled. I think that’s the right way to describe Rutka Laskier’s music as their post-metal/rock side really shows through on ‘Jupiter’, with it’s stirring guitar work and multi-vocal approach. 

From the gentler tones of ‘Jupiter’ comes the extra intensity of ‘Jestřáb’. It’s an intensity that isn’t realised until about a quarter of the way through the song and isn’t overused either, as Rutka Laskier doesn’t just go for the jugular. Their song-writing and musical performance on this record is more intelligent. ‘Na Cestách’ kicks off a trio of shorter song’s on Protiklady’s second half. You might be expecting something akin to emoviolence here and you’d be partly right if you thought that; however, it remains just on the right side of chaotic, with guitar melody playing an important role. 

I’ve got to be honest here, I’ve hit play and stop on this album multiple times this week, due to my inability to concentrate. I’ve got a lot going through my head and focusing has been a struggle, though duo of ‘Schodištěm’ and ‘Padena’ were able to hold my focus. They seemed to be very in tune with each other, almost as if they were meant to be one song. Album closer ‘Vltava’ takes Rutka Laskier’s sound back in a slightly heavier direction one last time. It forms Protiklady’s longest song with introspective musicianship adding to a sense of closure and inner peace. 

After going back and playing through Protiklady again in full after writing this review, it felt really fresh and inspiring. Hopefully some of that inspiration will stay with me for the next few days so I can actually write some more. Thanks Rutka Laskier!

You can stream and purchase Protiklady digitally below:-

Rutka Laskier -

Physical copies can still be purchased from the labels below:-

Stoned To Death -

Zegema Beach Records CAN/INTL - / USA -

Happy Mutant -

Stoned To Death -

Pure Heart Records -

Zegema Beach Records -

Friday 19 May 2023

YCПЕХ! - Уят

Labels: Polar Summer

Formats: Tape/Digital

Release Date: 11 Mar 2016


1. 29 Грамм

2. Le Coffret

3. Сары Челектеги Бир Кичинекей Окуя

Earlier this week I tried to explain to somebody why I like heavy music. During that chat, we got onto the subject of listening habits and playing the same songs over and over. I said that my listening habits were a bit like having ADHD in that I'm always looking for different bands, lesser known and weirder bands. Never being content with those I already know (to an extent). When I was having that conversation, I didn't think I'd be writing about a lo-fi and experimental emoviolence band from Kyrgyzstan but there you go.

I'm on a bit of a deep dive at the moment, which includes Russian label Polar Summer and bands from Eastern Europe/Asia. Having written about Russia's More Future Suffering a few weeks ago, it's time to delve deeper again and discover what YCПЕХ! (or yspeh) are all about to this newcomer.

Apparently this entire EP was recorded using the dictaphone on an iPhone 5, which is probably a first for me. It does; however, make sense with the off-kilter, lo-fi screamo of EP opener ’29 Грамм’. It’s thirty-seconds of harsh vocals and erratic yet melodic guitar, backed up by rustic percussion (no doubt thanks to the phone’s recording capabilities at the time). 

‘Le Coffret’ sounds somewhat fuller initially thanks to the plucked guitar. I don’t know if it was professionally recorded but that’s how it comes across, before the rest of the band comes in with more rawness. I love the opposing atmospheres between the more relaxed guitar passages and the explosive bursts in between. There’s a real structure to the song, which is something I didn’t think I’d be saying.

‘Сары Челектеги Бир Кичинекей Окуя’ closes this single-sided EP in quite dramatic style with it’s lengthy instrumental build-up before exploding with freakishly high-pitched screams that sit deeper in the recording but still manage to extrude as well. Musically and in general, YCПЕХ! are excellent on this release. 

They have released plenty of music since this EP surfaced in 2016 and I’m still to discover it all properly. The tantalising prospect of releases with greater volume and production values build anticipation for sure, but this EP is a great listen as it is. 

You can stream and download the EP via bandcamp below:-

Tape copies from Polar Summer are long sold out.

YCПЕХ! Instagram -

Polar Summer Instagram -

Monday 15 May 2023

Kaal Nagini - Refracted Lights Of A Blind God

Labels: Iron Bonehead Productions

Formats: Vinyl/CD/Digital

Release Date: 14 Apr 2023


1. Nameless Archetype Of Pantheonless Antiquity

2. Refracted Lights Of A Blind God

3. Lord Of The Two Doors And The Seven Portals

4. Double Tongued Serpent Of 

Kaal Nagini is the latest band to rise from the infamous and mysterious Kolkata Inner Order. The circle of bands that make up the Order, including Aparthiva Raktadhara and Tetragrammacide amongst others have been championed by Iron Bonehead Productions ever since their inception. This four song EP was released just over a month ago via the German label. The trio that make up Kaal Nagini give nothing away regarding their identity nor their musical history. With that in mind, now is the perfect time to embrace their debut.

Sometimes I get drawn to certain bands or geographical collectives and the Kolkata Inner Order is one such collective that I’ve been following from afar over the last few years. From my failed attempts to obtain interviews with some of the Order’s members in recent years to the mystery that surrounds them, it’s time once again to dive into the noise that shapes Kalikshetra.

Kaal Nagini have been described as a maximalist band. EP opener ‘Nameless Archetype Of Pantheonless Antiquity’ initially counters that description with quietness before an abrupt change of pace and volume occurs. Fast, percussion-led death metal is the reason for that tempo change, with it’s equally heavy guitar work and deep deathly growls. Rawness exists within the mix here but it only goes to add authenticity to Kaal Nagini’s sound.

The EP’s titles track ‘Refracted Lights Of A Blind God’ reminds me of the intensity delivered by fellow Iron Bonehead bands White Nights and Pa Vesh En. Disturbingly extreme yet satisfyingly cleansing at the same time. Maybe I just find solace in noise sometimes. 

Martial noise takes it’s place amongst ‘Lord Of The Two Doors And The Seven Portals’ and it disarms you straight away, thanks to the sheer abandon of Kaal Nagini. Granted, this release will only appeal to an ardent group of extreme metal listeners but that’s kind of the point. Music like this isn’t recorded for the masses. It’s for those who truly understand it and in most cases, for the band themselves.

EP closer ‘Double Tongued Serpent Of Kú’ provides one last heady blast of disgustingly extreme death metal, which lasts even longer than the songs before it. It’s that extremity that stands out for me with this release. Death metal as a sub-genre has been growing exponentially over the last couple of years and it’s been branching off in many directions. Kaal Nagini may have ushered in another such branch. The emerging Indian extreme metal community is a fertile one, with Kolkata’s leading the way. If you give it’s constituents time you’ll be repaid.

You can stream Refracted Lights Of A Blind God and purchase it digitally below:-


Physical vinyl/cd copies can be purchased from Iron Bonehead Productions here:-

Iron Bonehead Productions -

Friday 12 May 2023

Respire - Denouement

Labels: Belle Époque Publishing/Dingleberry Records/Left Hand Label/Middle-Man Records/Narshardaa Records/Self-Released/Zegema Beach Records

Formats: Vinyl/CDr/Tape/Digital

Release Date: 01 May 2018


1. Bound

2. Haunt

3. Shiver

4. Bloom

5. Catacombs

6. Virtue

7. A Heart Still Pines

8. Denouement

It's been a while since my last ZBR roster review (aside from the odd recent release), so I'm jumping back down the rabbit hole with Canadian band Respire and their 2018 full-length Denouement. Originally self-released by Respire on digital and CDr formats to coincide with the vinyl release from Dingleberry, Middle-Man, Narshardaa and ZBR; it also saw later tape pressings from Belle Époque Publishing and Left Hand Label that same year (with LHL also releasing an instrumental accompaniment tape called Memorial at the same time). In terms of album timelines, it sits between Gravity And Grace and Black Line for those unfamiliar. Respire blends post-hardcore, post-metal, shoegaze, black metal and more together with help from countless talented friends/musicians.

Today has felt like a real breath of fresh air as the preceding days and previous week have been hard work-wise. Having the mental energy to write again is freeing and Respire are my inspiration. ‘Bound’ is the expansive, cathartic opener I was hoping for. A genuine mix of melody from multiple instruments, heaviness from blasting percussion and equally dissonant guitars, and raw emotion from on-point vocals. These seven+ minutes are instrumentally superb and you really get a sense of the whole Respire family when the clean singing fills the speakers. The welcoming Celtic influence added by the violin/viola playing will remind you of bands like Dawn Ray’d and Morrow, which is cool as well.

‘Haunt’ creeps up on you with a less urgent sound initially before the majesty of Respire’s black metal and orchestral might come together to raise the heartbeat a few notches. It’s ending is abrupt end leads straight into ‘Shiver’, which is the most obvious ode to black metal on Denouement so far. Obviously, that’s not the only facet to Respire’s sound but it is more prevalent here in parts. When it settles, classical symphony-like instrumentation takes hold and creates a totally different atmosphere altogether. 

As ‘Bloom’ plays, the pattern of songs getting shorter in length continues. Song lengths ultimately mean very little when you’re truly immersed in an album and the sheer beauty of this song proves that point. Again melody is king and it leads you serenely into the second-half of the album. Screamo/emo makes ‘Catacombs’ a totally different proposition but one that’s absolutely fine. It shows Respire’s ability to be sensitive and write with even more variation than they already have on this album so far. The way they up the tempo before a crescendo of black metal and post-metal guitars close it out works brilliantly too.

The sample that opens ‘Virtue’ is somewhat unnerving and while that feeling doesn’t translate in the music that follows, it resonates in your head. From that initial place of darkness light grows, becoming more visible and sensory as the all encompassing instrumental layers build. From the sublime to the dramatic, ‘A Heart That Pines’ is a short blast of energy that’s given no room to explode. You’ll understand why when you hear it. Ending with the title track ‘Denouement’. the soothingly delivered Saxophone takes centre stage amidst an instrumental song that closes out an album that should be heralded as the GOAT. 

I don’t know what else to say about this. I’m sure that many people who read this will already be familiar with Denouement but if not, you’re missing out. It’s so hard to keep up with the myriad of releases being thrust into your ears every day now, but there’s nothing wrong with taking some time out to appreciate what’s come before. This is a banger and it will forever be one.

You can stream and purchase the album digitally from Respire below:-

Respire -

Physical copies can still be purchased from the labels below:-

Left Hand Label -

Middle-Man Records -

Narshardaa Records -

Dingleberry Records -

Left Hand Label -

Middle-Man Records -

Narshardaa Records -

Zegema Beach Records -

Monday 8 May 2023

More Future Suffering - Stars On The Pillow EP

Labels: Polar Summer

Formats: Tape/Digital

Release Date: 11 Sep 2015


1. Mn-t. 15.

2. Stars On The Pillow

3. Noyabr'

A few reviews back I said I was gonna go on a Polar Summer deep-dive. Even though I have a schedule written up and a list as long as my arm of submissions, it just feels right to stray from that path and go a voyage of obscure musical discovery before I have to succumb to mundanity again tomorrow (9-5 at least). I'm starting with the very first Polar Summer release by a Russian band called More Future Suffering. Stars On The Pillow was the band's second release back in 2016. Polar Summer put this EP out as a 22 tape run.

I’m definitely moving in a more screamo/emo-adjacent circle right now, listening-wise anyway. Having Spotify on my phone and listening to the latest curated melodic/metallic hardcore playlists has pushed me in that direction simply because I want to enjoy something less polished (if you know what I mean?). To be honest though, I’m not sure what to expect from More Future Suffering, as I think the music is going to be more ambient than I’m used too, but who dares wins and all that. EP opener ‘Mn-t.15.’ is indeed an ambient piece and one that seems to audibly frame the vast unpopulated expanse of the band’s motherland. Slowly building with subtle guitar and crackling noise/effects, It’s utterly beautiful, without a hint of the screamo/emo I mentioned at the top of this review, though when the tempo picks up towards it’s conclusion the heart rate does a bit too.

I mentioned the crackling above but on the title track ’Stars On The Pillow’ it sounds way more like a campfire burning away in the moonlight, alongside the gentle acoustic guitar. It’s both calming and also quite emotional to listen too (especially when re-watching videos of a relative’s puppy). I mean, who doesn’t like puppies right?!. After two very lengthy compositions, it’s left to the very closer ‘Noyabr’’ to provide a slight glimpse into the future (sorry) sound of More Future Suffering.

I guess as we age our taste in music evolves. We still reach for what grabbed us when we were younger but we also seek something different, something more mature. More Future Suffering passed me by, as have so many other artists/bands but thanks to the digital age that we live in, it’s never too late to right those wrongs and enjoy what’s been committed to tape (or other mediums). I’m excited about what’s to come now. Please put aside some time to appreciate More Future Suffering. You won’t regret it.

You can stream Stars On The Pillow and purchase it as a name-your-price download from More Future Suffering below:-

Polar Summer -

Sunday 7 May 2023

Tombstalker - Age Of Darkness EP

Labels: Boris Records/Morbid Aggressor Productions

Formats: Vinyl/CD/Tape/Digital

Release Date: 29 May 2023


1. Astral Combat

2. Titan Warlord

3. Age Of Darkness

4. The Final Night

Things have been a little quiet over the last week, mainly due to work life getting busy. Thankfully the long weekend allows for some breathing space (but not much), so I can finally get back to it. At the end of this month US thrash/death band Tombstalker will release their latest EP Age Of Darkness, via both Boris Records and Morbid Aggressor Productions. It's their first release in about six years and will help to mark their fifteenth anniversary as a band.

Age Of Darkness is filled with boundless energy straight from the off. ‘Astral Combat’ opens things up with the right mix of rawness from the intense vocals and catchy, assured instrumentation. Tombstalker’s experience really shows here with the quality of their performance, especially during the extended instrumental passages later on in the song.

‘Titan Warlord’ appears to be more straightforward thrash/death on early listening; however, it isn’t long before Tombstalker’s more progressive tendencies take over again. I use that term loosely here, as they don’t go full-on Cynic/Atheist or anything, but there definitely is a melodic and creative side to their music. The solo that helps to close ‘Titan Warlord’ is amongst the best you’ll hear all year too.

The EP’s title track ‘Age Of Darkness’ is a delightful acoustic instrumental that harks back to similar ones that were performed by some of thrash metal’s true titans of old (Death Angel is the first name that springs to mind here for me and obviously S&M era-Metallica).

EP closer ‘Final Night’ sees Tombstalker rejoicing in their destructive heaviness one last time. There’s a real authenticity to the music on here and with the current explosion of death metal in all it’s variations right now, Tombstalker should be right up there with the best.

You can stream 'Astral Combat' in advance of the full EP release via Boris Records below:-

You can also pre-order Age Of Darkness on vinyl, tape and digital formats via Boris's bandcamp page above.

I can't locate any links to Morbid Aggressor Productions. If anybody knows of any, please send them my way and I'll update the review.

Tombstalker -

Boris Records -

Tuesday 2 May 2023

Life - Demo Three

Labels: Self-Released/I.Corrupt Records/Larry Records/Polar Summer/Voice Of The Unheard Records/Zegema Beach Records

Formats: Digital/Tape/Vinyl

Release Date: 14 Mar 2020


1. Ametic

2. Paroxis

3. September

4. Lluvia

It's Monday night, I've just moved through three day weekend that ended with sun (albeit fleeting), fun and family beers/a bbq thrown in for good measure. It's quite apt then that I'm writing about a band called Life tonight, especially given the drag back down to earth I've felt today (thanks day job!). I don't know a great deal about this release other than that it was self-released by the band in 2020, before Russian label Polar Summer did a tape release of it about a year later. It's come to my attention now because Zegema Beach Records along with I. Corrupt Records, Larry Records and Voice Of The Unheard Records recently committed it to vinyl. To date Life has released five demos and an LP.

This demo seems so fitting for this evening and despite not knowing a huge amount about the band, opener ‘Ametic’ sounds right up my street with a heady mix of emo, hardcore and super intense vocals. From doing some research Life may have a link to Sadness (which is utterly welcome if so!) but even if not, this is totally great anyway. 

I really needed music like this after a bit go a shit week in my day job last week. The beauty and majesty of the melody that opens ‘Paroxis’ leads into something altogether more life-affirming when Life’s full intensity hits. The vocals sound more like chorus/gang screams, which are semi-clean and full of volume. The percussion and guitar work is spot on all the time and given that this song stretches way beyond twelve minutes, that’s no mean feat. Introspection isn’t far away as the song’s mid-point shows, but the volume ratchets up once more as the full band’s sound grows ever better.

‘September’ is one of those songs that starts off slowly before picking up pace quickly, exploding into an extreme (almost black metal-like) concoction that bristles with so many other influences. The clean vocals seem to sit on top of everything else when they’re allowed to, as similarly the instrumentation does towards the end. 

Demo closer ‘Lluvia’ features the slowest of slow builds that’s also so chill. Emotional is definitely the word for this. It has got some comparisons to it that I won’t mention here, as there’s really no need too, but what I will say is that as a whole this song is truly beautiful and a great way to end the release. 

This demo clearly passed me by when it was originally released, so I’m thankful that CanaDave at ZBR brought it to my attention recently. Life is way more than just an emo/hardcore band. If the lineage is true, Life will surprise you with the rest of their output so far. Brilliant!

You can stream and purchase Demo Three digitally from Life below:-

Physical copies can be purchased from the labels below:-

I.Corrupt Records -

Voice Of The Unheard Records -

Zegema Beach Records CAN/INTL - / US -

I.Corrupt Records -

Larry Records -

Polar Summer -

Voice Of The Unheard Records -

Zegema Beach Records -