Tuesday 31 October 2023

Geist - Blueprints To Moderate Sedation

Labels: Cursed Monk Records/Black Omega Recordings/Trepanation Recordings

Formats: Vinyl/CD/Tape/Digital

Release Date: 20 Sep 2023


1. Future Eaters

2. Peeling Wax

3. One Less Leech

4. Vessel Of Nothing

5. Panic Addicts

6. Help Less

7. Mass Instruction

8. Every Aching Bone

9. Terminal

10. Leech Chewer

It's safe to say (once again) that I am completely out of my rhythm. Still, I'm hoping that this Halloween night will be the catalyst to reverse my lack of productivity. It helps that my accompaniment comes in the form of UK hardcore-punk/pv band Geist. Their latest full-length Blueprints To Moderate Sedation was released in September with physical copies coming courtesy of Cursed Monk Records, Black Omega Recordings and Trepanation Recordings.

The pitch-black/dank facade I look out on is almost perfect this evening, especially when it’s set to the new Geist record. Album opener ‘Future Eaters’ is a bleak hardcore song filled with frenzied metallic riffs, a venomous low-end and intense drumming, while the vocals instantly grab your attention thanks to their powerviolence crossed with old school hardcore-punk delivery. ‘Peeling Wax’ sees Geist compress their sound and song-writing (not for the first time) into a sub two-minute blast, except this time there’s more math subtlety, if that’s even a thing.

The slower tempo that greets you on ‘One Less Leech’ brings back everything that’s great about UK powerviolence for me. That thicc guitar sound, sludgy atmosphere and the constant anticipation of a huge shift in pace. That shift comes and when it does it’s fantastic. Geist’s ability to change course musically is brilliant and that course changes again with ‘Vessel Of Nothing’, which slows and lowers the mood even further. I guess if Eyehategod and Blood Incantation collaborated, it might be akin to this maybe?

‘Panic Addicts’ sets you back on a more familiar path with a short and succinct blast of hardcore, while ‘Help Less’ and it’s downtempo atmosphere paints a bleak picture, critiquing on the current social and economic environment in which we live. As human beings we’re inherently selfish and this song reminds us so. 

Given how the last few years have gone ‘Mass Instruction’ is an apt song-title and while people are still divided, life goes on. I’m just thankful that music like this is still being released, as it proves that there is still freedom of thought in society (despite what religious bigots and conspiracy theorists tell you!). ‘Every Aching Bone’ moderates the anger within only slightly, with a more straight-forward outlook. 

Before you know it, penultimate song ’Terminal’ is upon you with it’s sampled, bass-heavy intro and off-kilter sludge that follows. It’s harrowing to say the least, but also sort of euphoric at the same time. There is a pleasure to be had from listening to extreme music and this hits the sweet spot. Closer ‘Leech Chewer’ rages even when It’s dialled back to mere feedback. 

It’s been one hell of a journey during these ten songs. When two working days have already felt like five, there’s not much room for rest. Blueprints To Moderate Sedation does nothing to turn off the overactive mind and mine’s racing a mile a minute. It’s a fantastic record and hopefully it’s battery will lead to peace.

You can purchase the album digitally and on vinyl/tape formats from Geist below:-

Geist - https://www.facebook.com/ukgeist

Copies are also available from the labels below:-

Cursed Monk Records - https://cursedmonk.bandcamp.com/merch

Black Omega Recordings - https://blackomegarecordings.bigcartel.com/

Trepanation Recordings - https://trepanationrecordings.bandcamp.com/merch

Cursed Monk Records - https://www.facebook.com/cursedmonk

Black Omega Recordings - https://www.facebook.com/BlackOmegaRecordings

Trepanation Recordings - https://www.facebook.com/TrepRec

Friday 20 October 2023

Nionde Plagan - Reflektion

Labels: Damnfinetapes!/Moment Of Collapse Records/Zegema Beach Records

Formats: Vinyl/CD/Tape/Digital

Release Date: 22 Feb 2019


1. Bekannelser

2. Rex

3. Prestationer

4. Trots Allt!

5. Premisser

6. Maskinerna

7. Alienation

8. Diskrepans

It's mad to think that Swedish post-rock/screamo merchants Nionde Plagan have been making music for over a decade now. Reflektion was released in early 2019, though physical versions seemed to come earlier in 2018. It followed their 2017 split with The World That Summer and proceeded their latest full-length Transformation, which was released a year ago. Tape copies that accompanied Nionde Plagan on tour were provided by Damnfinetapes!, while the vinyl pressing was handled by Moment Of Collapse (who also masterminded the CD release) and Zegema Beach Records, though ZBR aren't credited on Discogs for some reason.

Storm Babet is currently making it’s way across the UK and people have been advised to hunker down. I’m keeping warm and dry with a glass of red and the friendly tones of Nionde Plagan’s 2019 full-length Reflektion. Album opener ‘Bekannelser’ is a song that best demonstrates just how beautiful Swedish screamo can be. Composed and delivered with great sensitivity. ‘Rex’ moves and shakes like all great modern day indie-rock songs, while the vocals lay to rest any notion of the band easing off, thanks to the pure emotion they convey.

The slightly muddier sound of ‘Prestationer’ only comes about because of distortion in the guitars. It adds a rawness to the music that’s not been prevalent so far. There’s more urgency and drive throughout the song, with abundant melody keeping pace as well. The songs so far have hovered around the four+ minute mark but there’s always room for something more expansive. Enter ‘Trots Allt!’, which is the first of two songs that break the ten minute barrier, demonstrating NP’s post-metal side. When I talk to people (who only know mainstream chart music) about lengthier songs like this, I tend to get the same response. One of confusion and sometimes fear. I’m not a gatekeeper by any means, I just appreciate thought provoking music such as this. 

‘Premisser’ signals the second half of Reflektion and it’s more immediate. Tempo-wise, it’s not any faster but I guess the shorter length makes it seem that way. I kind of wish it was longer though. The way ‘Premisser’ flows straight into ‘Maskinerna’ without a pause, reveals superbly precise drumming and big riffs. The vocals sit slightly deeper in the mix here, though probably not be design. They’re just a tad buried by the sheer heft of the musicianship, which is absolutely epic.

Again, what is it with the extremely catchy rock influence that takes over penultimate song ‘Alienation’! It’s so infectious and masks NP’s screamo in such a way that it could even fool casual rock fans, as least that is until the song’s latter half when it takes a much heavier turn. Final song ‘Diskrepans’ goes long just as ’Trots Allt!’ did earlier. Even sitting here with the volume turned up I can still here the faint the sound of the wind outside, which only adds to the atmosphere that Nionde Plagan weaves. Undeniably brilliant from start to finish. Note to self: don’t take an extended break halfway through writing a review. 

You can stream Reflektion below, where it's also available to purchase digitally or on one of the five remaining CD copies (you should definitely purchase one) via Nionde Plagan's bandcamp page:-

Nionde Plagan - https://www.facebook.com/NiondePlagan

Physical copies are also still available from the label stores below:-

Moment Of Collapse Records - https://shop.momentofcollapse.com/

Zegema Beach Records - https://zbrusa.com/

Moment Of Collapse Records - https://www.facebook.com/momentofcollapse

Zegema Beach Records - https://www.facebook.com/zegemabeachrecords

Wednesday 18 October 2023

Blue Bedlam - Blue Bedlam EP

Labels: Self-Released

Formats: Digital

Release Date: 28 Oct 2022


1. Blue Bedlam

2. A Ghost In My Reflection

It's always a great feeling being able to write about a band's debut release. Virginia, USA's Blue Bedlam released their first EP back in October 2022 (yes, I am still wading through an inbox that's at chest height!) and I haven't seen many people talking about it. Primarily the solo melodic death metal project of guitarist/bassist/composer Tony Clayton, Blue Bedlam is joined by vocalist Secil Sen as well as drummers Jonas Schutz, and Aaron Scholze on these two tracks. 

This EP has been released as a precursor to Blue Bedlam’s debut album and I can’t think of better ways for a band to introduce themselves than this. The opening song ‘Blue Bedlam’ has plenty of melody (both vocally and from the guitars), while also not shying away from heaviness thanks to the very tight percussive/bass work, the low Swe-death inspired riffs and harsh vox. 

Second song ‘A Ghost In My Reflection’ contains a more introspective atmosphere early on, before the full band kicks in. Secil Sen’s vocals really throw you off as it almost sounds like there are two different vocalists sitting on top of the recording. They are all Secil’s own though and my god do they sound great, as does the whole band. 

This is a really strong debut EP. Sometimes the visions of solo artists need to be fully imagined with the help of others and here Tony Clayton has achieved that with the musicians he’s assembled. I’m hoping that Blue Bedlam continues to flourish and champion great individuals, especially those who have contributed here. 

You can stream and purchase the EP digitally via Bandcamp (at least until Songtradr destroys it of course):-

It's also available on all other major streaming platforms.

Blue Bedlam - https://www.facebook.com/BlueBedlam

Sunday 15 October 2023

Squelch Chamber - Eater Of Self

 Labels: Self-Released/Bastard Premonition/Owlripper Recordings

Formats: Tape/Digital

Release Date: 12 Jul 2023


1. Organized Mental Crime

2. Practice What You Leech

3. The Steeple Is Falling

4. Pulled Guts

5. Down In The Deadlands

6. Eater Of Self

The whole blog/life balance thing has gone completely out the window recently. So much so that I'm finally getting round to listening to Squelch Chamber properly. The band has been on my radar for a little while now and seeing latest release Eater Of Self on the Owlripper Recordings bandcamp page finally did it for me. Squelch Chamber resides in Pennsylvania, USA and has been releasing music that combines noise-rock, industrial and punk since 2020. Eater of Self is the fifth full-length (I guess?) to come from the band since initial release Down So Low, in a catalogue that also includes three splits. Productivity is the name of the game here.

Sunday morning’s the perfect time to listen to some extreme noise-rock right? It certainly feels like it as ‘Organized Mental Crime’ goes from sludgy minimalism to bass-rumbling weirdness in unexpected fashion. Melodies aren’t really entertained here, instead you get AmRep/Chat Pile-esque noise with injections of hallucinatory substances and atonal torture.

Lots of other comparisons could be made when listening to Squelch Chamber but I think it’s better just to listen. ‘Practice What You Leech’ is layered with so much that it’s hard to take it all in. The noise elements ratchet up further, while the percussion underneath more than matches it. The vocals flick between pained semi-clean screaming and unhinged growling, while stoner/psych guitar riffs can be heard subtly through it all.

The hypnotic drone of ‘The Steeple Is Falling’ is soothing, especially after the opening two songs. That’s not to say it’s an easy listen; far from it, but it’s just delivered with greater restraint. Talking of drone, ‘Pulled Guts’ begins as a solely instrumental number and continues in the same vein, except for what sound like unnerving whispered vocals that float in and out of the recording. It’s latter half once again descends into maddening noise-rock.

The brief running time of penultimate song ‘Down In The Deadlands’ doesn’t prevent it from being nightmarish yet it does nothing to prepare you for that title-track. ‘Eater Of Self’ runs way beyond seventeen minutes and builds slowly. Ambient sounds are used to add suspense and that feeling doesn’t go away when the vocals, and instrumentation are thrown into the mix, as it feels like Squelch Chamber is gearing up for something big. 

The expectation of a big finale is slightly misplaced as Squelch Chamber continues to grow the song’s volume in layers, instead of hitting you with it all at once. It’s actually a really good way of keeping you hooked throughout and the whole album is meant to be listened to from beginning to end without a pause, which is rewarding. As subjective as music is, it’s also relatable no matter how extreme it is. Squelch Chamber lays down a new marker for noise-rock in extremis.

You can purchase Eater Of Self both digitally and on tape from Squelch Chamber below:-

Tape copies can also be purchased from Bastard Premonition here - https://bastardpremonitiontapes.bigcartel.com/product/squelch-chamber-eater-of-self

Name-your-price downloads are also available via Owlripper Recordings here - https://owlripperrecordings.bandcamp.com/album/on050-eater-of-self

Squelch Chamber - https://www.facebook.com/SquelchChamber

Bastard Premonition - https://www.facebook.com/Bastard-Premonition Tapes

Owlripper Recordings - https://www.facebook.com/owlripperrecordings

Tuesday 10 October 2023

To Forget - Cornered In A Retrospect

Labels: Zegema Beach Records

Formats: Lathe/Digital

Release Date: 14 Sep 2023


1. Disaster Response

2. Lights Out In February

Almost a month ago this two-song release from US post-hardcore/metal trio To Forget saw the light of day via Zegema Beach Records. Pressed on 100 Stereo Lathe 7"s with a 50/50 split between label and band, it features their first new recordings since the 2021 full-length Echoes Take Their Place. Lathes have a tendency to sound a bit more rustic. though a Stereo Lathe promises a better sound. I can't vouch for the physical format yet but am still looking forward to this one.

October’s been a weird month so far, befitting the shorter days/darker nights I guess. Both my sleep pattern and attention span have suffered as a result, hence the choosing of this new release from To Forget as my focus for at least a moment. Opener ‘Disaster Response’ sounds absolutely beautiful as both To Forget’s anger and melody join together in a strange harmony. More hardcore than screamo for sure. The vocals are delivered with power and true emotive harshness, while the guitars and percussion at times promise solace but deceive with added intensity.

I care less about the volume with which I play these songs, given that one of my neighbours played loud music at 01:30am on Sunday just gone, leaving me unable to sleep. It wasn’t even good music either! ‘Lights Out In February’ gathers more from To Forget’s screamo/emo side thanks to the spoken-word samples that kick things off and the furious post-hardcore that follows it. Swirling yet piercingly precise (sorry for the alliteration), it’s a song that leaves you aching for more.

Music is very much dictated by mood, especially when you’re choosing what to listen to. I was at a social event this past Sunday where people were encouraged to take their own records, that would be played for others to listen to. Somebody described my choice of Avail’s 4AM Friday as sounding “Fractious”. I find it calming listening to heavier music and this release has done wonders for me this evening. If you haven’t already done so, please give Cornered In A Retrospect your time and pick up a copy if you can.

You can stream and purchase Cornered In A Retrospect digitally from To Forget below:-

To Forget - https://www.facebook.com/toforgetband

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

Zegema Beach Records - CAN/INTL - http://www.zegemabeachrecords.com/zegema-beach-releases/tf-lathe

Zegema Beach Records - USA - https://zbrusa.com/products/tf-lathe

Zegema Beach Records - https://www.facebook.com/zegemabeachrecords

Sunday 8 October 2023

Revenant Marquis - All The Pleasures Of Heaven

Labels: Death Prayer Records

Formats: Vinyl/Tape/Digital

Release Date: 06 Oct 2023


1. Linnet Through The Marshes

2. All The Pleasures Of Heaven

3. Ankles Cadaverous

4. Black Metal

5. Luck & Evil

6. To The People Of This Hamlet

7. Bliss

This evening marks a special occasion. It marks the release of the final album by revered Welsh black metal band Revenant Marquis, All The Pleasures Of Heaven, which is being released via a special listening party courtesy of Bandcamp. Bandcamp continues to innovate with band/fan engagement and this new feature promises to be an exciting one. On a side note; I hope Bandcamp's employees will be treated with the respect they deserve given the decision by Epic Games to sell off a chunk to music licensing company Songtradr. Bandcamp as an artist-centric platform deserves better.

Anyway, let's get back to tonight's focus, that of the Pembrokeshire Black Circles's Revenant Marquis. Beginning with the Pitiless Black Emphasis in 2018, S has released a very expansive body of work leading up to this final album, including seven previous full-length albums, 3 splits, 1 EP and a compilation. Five years worth of music to consume then, which somewhat spoils us.

It feels special to be able to join this listening party and the anticipation is quite overwhelming to be honest. Thankfully I have a nice glass of red wine as my companion this evening. Hearing the rawness of Revenant Marquis for the last time is ssd and even with my slightly late entry to the listening party (my fault entirely), album opener ‘Linnet Through The Marshes’ sounds fantastic with it’s percussive intensity, organic guitar melodies and vocals that are buried deeper within the overall mix. Being able to read the interaction between listeners and RM during the listening party is a great insight into what has made this particular black metal entity so engrossing over the years.. Title track ‘All The Pleasures Of Heaven’ gathers together a lot of metallic guitar tones, which are subtle but give the song body.

It seems that listening via this medium makes the songs go by so much faster and as ‘Ankles Cadaverous’ gains full flight, so does RM. A masterful take on black metal delivered by both S. and O. Of Obskuritatem, who covers bass and drum duties here. It feels right that RM weaves a song into the album simply called ‘Black Metal’. While this may not be the last we hear from S., it certainly satisfies the hunger of those who have grown with this band. 

After the expansive ‘Black Metal’, ‘Luck & Evil’ takes on a much more urgent form right from the off. Admittedly, it does have it’s slower moments but it’s structure is such that it flows through different movements with ease. Structure is more important in modern day black metal and it’s much more evident in RM’s music here. Hearing the faster tempo of ’To The People Of This Hamlet’ reminds you of black metal’s raw history and punk leanings, but here S. and O. make it sound so effortless yet harrowing at the same time. Album closer ‘Bliss’ is both aptly named but also accurately so. It’s an instrumental song but with haunting choral vocals that bring everything to a close.

A truly special evening spent listening to a band that’s produced some of the best black metal the UK has had to offer in recent years. Whatever road S. takes moving forward, Revenant Marquis will always be held in very high regard.

You can stream All The Pleasures Of Heaven and purchase it on digital and vinyl formats below:-

Death Prayer Records - https://www.facebook.com/deathprayerrecords

Wednesday 4 October 2023

Eyeteeth - State Funeral

Labels: Atomic Breath Records

Formats: Vinyl/Digital

Release Date: 06 Oct 2023


1. Welfares Prayer

2. Armoured Jerubaal

3. Pig Iron

4. Survivor Syndrome

5. Still Broke

6. Wreck Head

Having only released their first 7" back in April, UK straight edge powerviolence band Eyeteeth are set to release a brand new six-track EP via Atomic Breath Records this Friday! It's being released as a 5", 25 black vinyl copies of which will make up a special limited box set with 75 copies coming on clear vinyl. I was lucky enough to be given a pre-listen, which I'm truly grateful form. On a side note: I don't know too much about Atomic Breath Records, so if anybody could link me up in the comments that'd be great.

I love it when bands go for different vinyl formats (aside from the usual 7” and 12” forms). Eyeteeth have chosen to release their latest recordings as a 5”, little more than five months after their Straight Edge Violence 7”. Eyeteeth take their cues from fastcore and powerviolence, so don’t expect anything to last much passed thirty seconds. Opener ‘Welfares Prayer’ hits top gear straight away with blasts, screeching feedback-filled riffs and super intense vocals. With no pauses between tracks, it’s best to listen to State Funeral in one full sitting (or more of course), as ‘Armoured Jerubaal’ comes at you hard. It is hard to process music when it’s thrown at you this fast but that’s the whole point here. Get in, get fast, get out.

‘Pig Iron’ contains way more groove than it should, with Eyeteeth showing their hardcore influence. It does remind a bit of bands like Water Torture and Sea Of Shit too, which is no bad thing at all. It’s worth mentioning at this point that the record was mixed and mastered by Will Killingsworth (Ampere/Orchid/Vaccine), so it’s in very good company indeed. ‘Survivor Syndrome’ is a trip though the harshest environment you could imagine, given the sheer sonic peril that’s delivered through the speakers. 

In little over a minute you’re at the record’s penultimate song ‘Still Broke’. You get a full impression of just how hard Eyeteeth are pushing during this song. I feel like the UK fastcore community has gone under the radar in recent years, except for the likes of Endless Swarm and Atomck (I’m probably missing out loads of others too) but hopefully these guys will change that. Closer ‘Wreck Head’  finishes things up in exactly the right way by inducing pure mayhem.  

State Funeral takes what Eyeteeth did on Straight Edge Violence and dials it up several notches, The noise, the urgency and the precision make it the perfect 5” release. It’s great to see a band being this productive as well, as it means you can’t ignore or forget about them! Brilliant stuff.

There's no full pre-release stream up for this yet but you can hear some of it's track via Eyeteeth's Youtube channel here - https://www.youtube.com/@eyeteethxxx/videos.

Eyeteeth - https://eyeteeth.bandcamp.com

Tuesday 3 October 2023

The Owl - Silver Lines EP

Labels: Self-Released

Formats: Digital

Release Date: 24 May 2023


1. Drop

2. Distort

3. Fatal Orbit

4. Back Up Plan

It's been a long time since I've featured anything by The Owl. It hasn't been on purpose, I'm just way over my head again in terms of regular posts etc. Before I get into this release I want to pay tribute to the fact that The Owl's main protagonist made it to 1000 days sober (if I remember correctly). Silver Lines is supposed to be an amalgamation of electronica, synth, breakbeat and more. Not what's usually covered here but The Owl holds a special place in my heart.

A bit of a voyage into the unknown for me this, but after reading The Owl’s story about what happened to the laptop that was destined to be used for a gig the same night, I felt compelled to listen to the release that’s cover bares the picture of the resulting damage. Silver Lines is an amalgamation of synth, electronica and breakbeat (I didn't just steal that sentence from my opening paragraph I swear!). A bit at odds with The Owl’s noisier/heavier output but really enjoyable at the same time. Opener ‘Drop’ is a pretty laid back affair, which bleeps and pulses through just over four minutes. It’s repetitive nature is really entrancing.

‘Distort’ is really aptly named given where The Owl’s roots come from in terms of heavy/fast music. The song itself however, ins’t so much heavy as it is glitchy and somewhat trippy. The breakbeat comes to the front, definitely distorting the melodies that flow in and out. The percussive side of Silver Lines takes centre stage on ‘Fatal Orbit’, moving further away from the hypnotic nature of the EP’s opening song and instead choosing to bewilder you with off-kilter beats and melodies. It’s a great piece of improv music (if indeed it is improvisational).

EP closer ‘Back Up Plan’ makes use of synths that sound a lot more analog and organic, that sit on top of beats, providing a relaxed and soothing ending. Harsh noise has always been a tough sell for me weirdly, given my love of powerviolence and noise-rock, so hearing an artist produce an EP as varied and enjoyable as this is a big plus. Maybe I should delve deeper into this musical realm.

Sonic joy is few and far between for my right now. The daily churn of work and decompressing after work has left me feeling quite lethargic. Thankfully, Silver Lines doesn’t require a huge amount of energy and instead rewards you via soothing tones.

You can stream and purchase Silver Lines digitally below:-

The Owl - https://www.facebook.com/theowlsounds