Friday 29 September 2023

Infant Island - Infant Island

Labels: Conditions Records/Dingleberry Records/Left Hand Label/Middle-Man Records/Zegema Beach Records

Formats: Vinyl/Tape/Digital

Release Date: 01 Aug 2018


1. Small Differences

2. Replenish

3. Broken Pieces

4. Fall

5. Diminish

6. A Preoccupation

7. Further

8. Where There Is Ruin (Bonus Track)

Post-hardcore has become such a versatile sub-genre over the last few years. So much so in fact, that it almost doesn't exist due to so many blurred musical lines. For one, there's the blistering (grind-inspired) emoviolence sound. Then there's the minimalist emo sound. In between those you have bands that wrap post-hardcore up in dissonant/mathy mayhem and those who mix atmospheric black metal with shoegaze, like Virginia's Infant Island. 

Their self-titled album was released in 2018 and was their first full-length. Initially released on vinyl via Conditions Records, Dingleberry Records and Middle-Man Records, as well as a limited tape run via Zegema Beach Records, it was later picked up for a European tape release via Left Hand Label, featuring the bonus track 'Where There Is Ruin', which was previously unreleased.

Time may be immemorial but in the present it’s going way too fast. It’s the ‘Small Differences’ that make the biggest impact right now, so being able to find a moment to sit and enjoy some music is very much needed. I’ve admired and appreciated Infant Island’s music for a long time now, especially thanks to labels like ZBR and Left Hand Label, whom I was able to purchase a copy of the band’s self-tilted album from on tape. 

The aforementioned opening song is the best of both post-hardcore and post-metal, especially thanks to Infant Island’s atmospheric blackened tones. Atmosphere doesn’t really come in to it though on ‘Replenish’, which kicks straight off with loud harsh vocals and equally to-the-point instrumentation. The song’s latter half takes a different turn with introspective vocal melodies and gentler musicianship.

That gentler approach flows into ‘Broken Pieces’ and with it, a subtle nod towards We Came Out Like Tigers and their collective delivery. It’s a majestic song that marries all encompassing guitars and percussion with vocals that sit deeper in the mix at first, before taking centre stage midway through. The dynamics work so well and portray true emotive fragility.

The feeling you get from cathartic, cleansing music is indescribable as it’s very personal but I reckon you could come close to describing it after listening to ‘Fall’. Absolute shout from the rooftops, heart on your sleeve stuff. The brief yet no less intense sound of ‘Diminish’ shows how much black metal influence goes into Infant Island’s music, in perfectly succinct fashion.

The two grandest songs are left till the end, starting with ‘A Preoccupation’ and it’s beautiful instrumental build-up that lasts to nearly it’s half way point. It has a feeling of spaciness even when the harsh vocals are unleashed. ‘Further’ is the longest of the album’s tracks and was the final one on it’s initial release. Almost seven minutes of deliciously layered screamo. 

Within those layers there are a multitude of other instruments too (that may not be immediately noticeable), including violin, cello, celestette, grand piano, bowed glockenspiel and upright piano, as well as added field recordings. All were intricately performed/recorded by Drake Dragone, Grace Howie, Alexander Rudenshiold (also the band’s guitarist/vocalist), Austin O’Rourke and Mark Boulanger. Vocalist Daniel Kost, bassist Kyle Guerra and drummer James Rakestraw make up Infant Island alongside Alexander on this release.

Bonus track ‘Where There Is Ruin’ appeared on the tape reissue by Left Hand Label in early 2019, having been previously unreleased. At the time, Infant Island described it as a precursor to what was to come and there’s a discernible difference in sound for sure. Some of the rawness of the band’s sound has vanished in favour of cleaner melodies and when it does get heavier, it really draws you in.

Infant Island may be on the back burner but their body of music continues to inspire. You may struggle but if you can find a copy of this album in the wild on a physical format, snap it up. It’s still available digitally too though, so why not do both!

You can stream and purchase both the original release as well as Left Hand Label's expanded release digitally below:-

Infant Island -

Physical copies are very scarce now but you can find a remaining copy below:-

Dingleberry Records Discogs -

Conditions Records -

Dingleberry Records -

Middle-Man Records -

Zegema Beach Records -

Left Hand Label -

Thursday 21 September 2023

Mithridatum - Harrowing

Labels: Willowtip Records

Formats: Vinyl/CD/Digital

Release Date: 03 Feb 2023


1. Sojourn

2. Silhouette

3. Mournful Glow

4. Lower Power

5. The Passageway

This release from US black/death metal band Mithridatum is both a 2023 release and a debut one at that, so I don't feel so bad about being eight months late to the party (correction: I feel pretty bad). It was released via fellow US label Willowtip Records, who continue to champion the most technical and extreme bands currently around. Mithridatum is also made up of ex members of The Faceless and Abhorrent, so there's definitely pedigree here.

Harrowing is the perfect balance between dissonant, metallic instrumentation and raw vocals. That balance is exhibited by opener ‘Sojourn’, which is heavier on the death metal than the black to these ears. The journey into extremity and experimentation begins in brilliant fashion. 

The instrumental build up on ‘Silhouette’ is glorious. There is a lot to take in musically but when it’s this raging, who really cares. When the vocals of Geoff Ficco enter the fray, it’s hard to believe that Mithridatum is a  trio. The guitar work of Marlon Friday coupled with the multi-instrument approach of Lyle Cooper (guitar/bass/drums) breeds so much life and volume into the recording, especially with the blistering percussive battery that hits later on.

This album has blown me away so far and as third song ‘Mournful Glow’ crawls forth in a weird doom-like manner, I secretly wish there was an accompanying instrument-only version. Not because I dislike the vocals (far from it) but because the musicianship here is just so good! Expansive songs sound so much better when they’re totally immersive. Immersive is what you get throughout this album.

By now it’s no longer weird to call a five song release an album, especially when it lasts longer than most albums that feature double that of songs. ‘Lower Power’ sees Mithridatum at probably their most up-tempo and groove-laden. Both death and black metal can groove and indeed let light through, which is exactly what happens here. Granted the definition of light is somewhat skewed as the trio go full-on intense shortly after.

Album closer ‘The Passageway’ channels occult atmospheres through semi-whispered vocals, coupling them with the band’s progressive and precise technicality. The signature black metal vocals are joined by spoken-word passages and as the song’s tempo slows, choral melodies can be heard deeper in the mix, surrounded by swirling instrumentation.

Extreme music is constantly evolving and reinventing itself without actually straying too far from it’s early path. Bands like Necrophagist and Deathspell Omega lead the way in the 90s and in doing so, gave birth to the modern day marriage of death and black metal. Mithridatum follow a similar path, while also forging their own. Long may that continue.

Stream and purchase Harrowing on all formats below:-

Mithridatum -

Willowtip Records -

Wednesday 20 September 2023

Black Wound - Wither

Labels: Dry Cough Records

Formats: Tape/Digital

Release Date: 30 Jun 2022


1. Bite The Blessed Hand

2. Oceans

I was literally planning this review as news dropped of Black Wound's debut album release. Needless to say, continuing to follow the trajectory of this Swedish death/doom band is something I was more than eager to do. Wither was released back in June 2022 via Dry Cough Records, who have been involved in both of the band's previous releases, including their split with Skullsceptre. This EP features two tracks and acts as a pre-cursor to that aforementioned full-length (which, is on sale now by the way!).

Drowning out the generic pop/r&b that’s being played by my neighbour below is easily done when hitting play on Wither’s opener ‘Bite The Blessed Hand’. Black Wound have made it their mission to create truly nasty death/doom, just as it was back in the heyday of the sub-genre. Here, it’s presented in an urgent manner thanks to higher instrumental tempos and genuinely blood-curdling growls/screams. 

The EP’s second song ‘Oceans’ is a very different beast, with Black Wound favouring a slower yet entrancing approach to their music. Murkier and much lower in every department, it feels and sounds much more akin to a funeral march initially. After a couple of minutes though, everything’s turned up a notch or five. That tempo change catches you off guard and while it’s one that retreats back behind the band’s lumbering doom as quickly as it burst forth, it makes quite the impact. 

I’ve always been somebody who appreciates slower doom, I feel like there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to Black Wound. Their musical honesty and song-writing skill stands out like a beacon here, elevated by the mid-section of ‘Oceans’, which is surprisingly light and melodic. A touch unexpected but gracefully delivered with a hint of avant-garde instrumentation thrown in. 

At times there’s an inevitability that songs lasting over ten+ minutes will begin to decline in quality towards their conclusion, it’s not the case here. The latter third it filled with glorious instrumental prowess and a smattering of death metal influence. It concludes an EP that’s short but oh so infectious. 

I’m fast approaching that time of year where doom becomes my go to sound. I have plenty of records to choose from (thanks to Dry Cough and others), though Black Wound will be featuring high on that rotation when the likes of Primitive Man, Meth Drinker and Slave Hands have choked out all light.

Stream and purchase Wither digitally below:-

Tape copies are sold out.

Black Wound -

Dry Cough Records -

Tuesday 19 September 2023

Binary - Commit More Arson

 Labels: Zegema Beach Records

Formats: Vinyl/Digital

Release Date: 04 Jul 2018


1. Around Here We Mourn Our Young

2. Do You Know How An Angler Fish Works?

3. Nice Moleskin, You Can Write In That With Your Head Up Your Ass?

4. Dressed To Depress

5. This Song Used To Be A Phone Number

6. Like Us On Facebook To Make Us Hypocrites

7. It's Prince!

8. Dataloss

9. I'll Backhand The Fuck Out Of A Seagull

Binary were a US screamo band that came and went pretty quickly. From the release of their first demo in 2017, they released something every year up to 2020, when they sadly called it a day. Commit More Arson was their only album, coming on single-sided vinyl through Zegema Beach Records in 2018. It was followed by 2019's Say Your Prayers, No One Cares EP and 2020's Fall From Grace Face Down EP. Their final ever song appeared on a split flexi with Wounded Touch and The Burning Wind that same year. A short but very stellar discography. Oh and they played some really sick shows, and their Facebook page (which is still live) has reignited my love for stunning gig posters. I want to start collecting them!.

I’m writing this a little later than I usually would tonight. My rhythm’s all out of whack and sleep is also hard. I figured some intense skramz would do the trick and as openers go, ‘Around Here We Mourn Our Young’ is exactly that. The bass-heavy hardcore tones of the intro show things in a heavier light, as do the deeper-ish screams and percussion early on before Binary make shapes through both emo-violence and mathcore.

‘Do You Know How An Angler Fish Works?’ follows with the briefest of brief pauses, as feedback takes hold and sampled voices add atmosphere. Hitting full speed after more than a minute, Binary forgoes what could have been an epic post-metal song in favour of an equally great fast/slow hardcore one. In fact the more I listen the more it grows on me.

The fascination with lengthy song titles never fades and ‘Nice Moleskin, You Can Write In That With Your Head Up Your Ass?’ has to be one of my favourites so far, for sheer sassiness. If you were expecting sasscore though, you’ll be disappointed as it’s metallic hardcore leanings make themselves known in abundance, leading straight into the fast flowing ‘Dressed To Depress’ without a breath to spare.

‘This Song Title Used To Be A Phone Number’ is funny because binary code (from which the band takes their name) is made up of numbers. I’d love to know what those numbers were in this case. It’s a short song again but one that seems to be slower in tempo, providing a more claustrophobic sound. It’s definitely putting me in the mood for more doom/sludge in a funny kinda way. Poking fun at social media (and it’s influencers) on ‘Like Us On Facebook To Make Us Hypocrites’, Binary pretty much hit the nail on head. Making the most noise in the shortest space of time speaks volumes about the short attention span of today’s youth.

From here the dramatic yet melodic instrumentation of ‘It’s Prince!’ heralds a final third that’s (ever so slightly) more introspective. Penultimate song ‘Dataloss’ sounds downright dirty thanks to the bass that rules throughout. I need more bass-heavy screamo in my life!. It’s a damn good song all round too. Finishing with ‘I’ll Backhand The Fuck Out Of A Seagull’ (which is something I wanted to do multiple times while living in North Wales, but never did because animal cruelty), Binary dip into mathcore inspired riffs one more time. 

This whole album is far less complicated than I make it out to be musically. Binary wrote one hell of a hardcore record here and the screamo embellishments only make it better.

You can stream Commit More Arson and buy it as a name-your-price download from Binary's bandcamp page below:-

There are no more copies of the 12" available.

Binary -

Zegema Beach Records -

Thursday 14 September 2023

birthsite - birthsite

Labels: Middle-Man Records

Formats: Tape/Digital

Release Date: 18 Nov 2022


1. push

2. weight

3. stare

4. lyos

I have been back in the day job for four days now and already I want another holiday! Beggars can't be choosers though and I have to make do with what I've got, which is where the escapism of the blog comes in. Tonight I'm writing about the new one woman project from Edie Quinn (Middle-Man Records, Coma Regalia, etc). The four songs that make up this self-titled EP were originally released in November of last year via Patreon before being committed to tape in May. I'll provide a link to Edie's Patreon page later on in the review (as well as the usual bandcamp/label links), as she needs support right now.

Solo skramz is wholesome skramz. birthsite provides the perfect mix of caustic screams and melodic instrumentation on opener ‘push’. You can immediately pick out the project’s lineage but also detach it from the same. ‘weight’ contains lovely acoustic guitar, which isn’t usually a staple of the sound but the gentler tones add to the harsher elements of birthsite’s music. Even if they’re not used throughout the entirety of the song, they still make it beautiful.

Edie’s characteristic guitar melody flows through ‘stare’ effortlessly and even though the song itself doesn’t last more than ninety seconds, it fells way longer. EP closer ‘lyos’ is much more vivd in tone, building in volume while also containing gentle clean singing that hasn’t be present up until now. Giving way to truly dramatic and cleansing post-hardcore is no bad thing, especially when it’s this good.

It’s been said here before but good things come in small packages. It remains to be seen whether birthsite is a one release project or one with more longevity. Whatever the direction, this release is killer!

You can stream and purchase birthsite on tape, as well as digitally below:-

As promised, here's Edie's Patreon page -

Middle-Man Records - /

Wednesday 13 September 2023

Kommandant - Titan Hammer

Labels: Aeternitas Tenebrarum Musicae Fundamentum/Maltkross

Formats: Vinyl/CD/Tape/Digital

Release Date: 20 Jan 2023


1. The Arrival

2. Titan Hammer

3. Atlantean Deathmarch

4. Siberian Overthrow

5. Sublimation Of Resistance

6. Spannungsfelder

7. The Sentinel

8. Mechanised Annihilator

A week without writing/being tethered to social media has been very much needed. I did promise in my last post (or the one before) that I'd try to write about another release from 2023 and here it is. Titan Hammer by US death/black metal band Kommandant was released in January via ATMF, the Italian label that's host to the likes of Lustre, Falaise, Titaan amongst others. 

Kommandant formed in 2004 (according to Discogs), before releasing their first demo Iron Hands on Scandinavia in 2006. They subsequently release another demo, an EP, six splits, two compilations and four full-lengths prior to Titan Hammer.

If you want martial/intense black metal then look no further than Kommandant on Titan Hammer. Album opener ‘The Arrival’ is aptly named because it marks the arrival of Kommandant in blasting, brutal fashion. Industrial in places, it’s amongst the fiercest black metal of the year so far (yes, I’m aware that more black metal has been released since January!). With that being said, the authoritative percussion and bass, coupled with the unexpectedly melodic guitar work seems to enhance the already ice-cold vocals.

The title-track ‘Titan Hammer’ continues the blasting intensity (that will no doubt be a huge element throughout the album), whilst growing in urgency. The organic percussive sound that builds towards the song’s end Is delightfully grim. There are some more obvious martial elements to Kommandant’s black metal and the slow (death)march of ‘Atlantean Deathmarch’ exhibits their flare for weaving tempos that appear slower. The blasts still disguise it though.

‘Siberian Overthrow’ drags you back in a more rabid direction. It’s a sound that reminds me of icier bands like Immortal, if they crossed paths with Blut Aus Nord and Krieg (maybe?). Kommandant’s death metal influences, which were fleetingly mentioned in the opening paragraph are few and far between so far, at least to my ears.

I can really get behind the percussive might of ‘Sublimation Of Resistance’, especially as it sounds a little more on the experimental side of the spectrum. At this point I’ve gotta say that I’m not trying to make this review into something it’s not, so I’m going to try and stop with the (not so) semi-intellectual speak, because that’s one thing I ain’t. I want barbaric, insanity inducing noise from music at times and it’s delivered here perfectly. 

The eery, bass-heavy instrumental ‘Spannungsfelder’ is a strangely welcome beast and while it’s shorter than other songs on Titan Hammer, it provides a moment of breath before Kommandant flies headfirst into penultimate song ‘The Sentinel’, which is devoured by the percussion and vocals, leaving the haunting guitar work nestling unfairly in the background.

That guitar work is more prominent again on album closer ‘Mechanized Annihilator’ and as album closers go, it’s frighteningly tight. I know that no band intends for their album to become looser towards the end but the controlled and proficient manner in which Kommandant calls time on Titan Hammer is excellent.

Unapologetic US black metal has never sounded so good.

You can stream and purchase Titan Hammer digitally via ATMF below:-

You can also purchase the album on CD and vinyl from ATMF below, alongside other merch and releases from Kommandant:-

A tape version has also been released via French label Maltkross -

Kommandant -


Maltkross -