Wednesday 27 March 2024

Tarkovsky - Умер

Labels: Polar Summer/Red Truth Productions

Formats: CDr/Tape/Digital

Release Date: 29 Dec 2016


1. Хаос

2. Гаррота

3. Котлован

4. Орлок

5. Мизери

6. Прощай, Оружие!

It's been quite sometime since my last Polar Summer related review. I don't know why because the previous four write-ups have been really popular. I first discovered the Russian emoviolence band Tarkovsky through an order I placed with Dingleberry Records via Discogs. While I was browsing I noticed Dingleberry had a number of Polar Summer releases for sale, including a CDr copy of Умер. This EP was released in late 2016 and was followed up by an early 2017 tape release via Kazakhstani label Red Truth Productions. It marks the last Tarkovsky release to date.

I haven’t published many reviews of late yet the blog seems to be reaching more people than ever (maybe that’s the key). Whatever the true reason, I’ve more than grateful for the attention and am going to press on. Tarkovsky’s opener ‘Хаос’ is a space-age inspired introduction filled with noise, atmospheric beats/effects and Russian spoken-word samples. It builds suspense, leading into ‘Гаррота’, which is a raw slab of melodic emoviolence. At times the riffs are repetitive but they fit perfectly.

‘Котлован’ is a moody, dissonant song that elevates Tarkovsky’s violent beauty to greater heights. I don’t know what more to say about it. ‘Орлок’ is equally as short as it’s predecessor, though that only really equates to it being heavier in all departments. Even when the closing few bars give way to subtle post-hardcore/metal textures, there’s still no escape.

Penultimate song ‘Мизери’ hits hard initially and reminds of how tired I feel. It’s a banger all the same and it’s intensity matches the sporadic nature of my attention span as I write this. EP closer ‘Прощай, Оружие!’ has the honour of being it’s longest song. It’s an instrumental song where guitar/bass tones could be mistaken for harsh vocals. 

This EP ultimately signalled an extended period of slience or end to Tarkovsky’s musical endeavours. It’s sad given how good this release is. I guess I’m going to have to dive deeper into Tarkovsky’s back catalogue somehow (not sure many of their songs are available online).

You can stream Умер and purchase it as a name-your-price download below:-

Tarkovsky -

Polar Summer's CDr copies are sold out but you can still grab tape copies from Red Truth Productions here -

Polar Summer -

Red Truth Productions -

Thursday 21 March 2024

Girl Arm - Outside Language

Labels: Self-Released/Zegema Beach Records

Formats: 12" Lathe/Tape/Digital

Release Date: 21 June 2012


1. Jetsons

2. Year Of The Walrus

3. Molto Erotico

4. Crimean Crimes

5. Disappears

6. Jacques Tits

7. Elephants

8. Health And Safety

It's taken me way too long to write about Girl Arm and their album Outside Language, which was initially brought to my attention because Dave Norman's label Tomb Tree, an offshoot of Zegema Beach Records, released a tape by a band called Works in 2022.. This review forms part of my ongoing ZBR roster review series, though Girl Arm's beginnings go back much further than the 2018 Tape/2022 Lathe releases from the label. Canada's Girl Arm originally self-released this album digitally back in 2012. They changed their name to Works in 2022 and thus we've come full circle.

I think math rock is severely underrated to be honest. I know It’s a broad spectrum but it rules. Girl Arm did it brilliantly on Outside Language, channelling their technical noise rock through a narrow canal crafted by the likes of At The Drive-In, The Fall Of Troy and many others on opener ‘Jetsons’. Girl Arm’s musicality and clear vocal approach dispels any notion of outright violent heaviness being a thing here.

The repetitive opening bars of ‘Year Of The Walrus’ give way to a song that’s brimming with off-kilter yet layered instrumentation. The vocals sit deeper in the mix and at times the whole togetherness of the band merges into some kind of warped funk. It makes me think about how Red Hot Chilli Peppers would sound if they weren’t shit (unpopular opinion warning). Obviously for the most part, Girl Arm sound nothing like RHCP and their personalities shine through brightly.

‘Molto Erotico’ is a short, ambient interlude relying on gentle guitar and feedback to build atmosphere before ‘Crimean Crimes’  follows after the briefest of pauses, building with an emphatic instrumental first-half, followed by a latter-half that threatens to cross over into SeeYouSpaceCowboy sass without the panic chords. 

At this point I really need to try to stop dropping comparisons and instead heap praise on what Girl Arm created. ‘Disappears’ is an uplifting mix of math and noise rock, delivered in a way that’s unique to Canadian bands. I guess that’s why so many of them standout amongst their US cousins, just like how bands from Finland are on a different plain to the rest of Scandinavia (I my opinion).

The curiously named ‘Jacques Tits’ conjures up many images but I’m guessing there’s a humorous story to go along with it, otherwise what’s the point of such obscurity. Either way, it’s another super enjoyable song that brims with virtuoso performances throughout. I think by now you know what’s expected from Girl Arm if you haven’t heard their music before. 

Penultimate song ‘Elephants’ is Girl Arm’s heaviest on the album due to the addition of more dissonant guitar work and multi-vocals that are both clean and harsh. Closer ‘Health And Safety’ starts out quite sedate but as it progresses, there’s a lot more extremity at play. So much so that it ends up being the most chaotic song on the album. 

Once again, discovering an album (in this case from twelve years ago) by a band that still exists today, albeit in a different form is kind of what this is all about. If I hadn’t heard about Works, I wouldn’t have known about Girl Arm. That’s the power of community on this here world-wide-web. What a time to be alive!

You can stream and purchase Outside Language digitally via Girl Arm's bandcamp page below:-

Girl Arm - / Works -

All copies of this release from ZBR are sold out.

Zegema Beach Records -

Monday 18 March 2024

Fathomless Ritual - Hymns For The Lesser Gods

Labels: Transcending Obscurity Records

Formats: Vinyl/CD/Tape/Digital

Release Date: 01 Mar 2024


1. Hecatomb For An Unending Madness

2. Exiled To The Lower Catacombs

3. Gorge Of The Nameless

4. Grafted To The Chambers Of Mirth

5. Wielding The Bone Wand

6. Cosmic Reflections From The Basin Of Blood

7. Gelatinous Being Of Countless Forms

8. Gifts For Aranaktu

I'm often reminded of how much artwork plays a role in the music I buy (in physical form) and review. I invest the time to let the music itself do the talking, but visual art is important too. Nowhere is it more important though than in the death metal genre and that leads me to the focus of this review. Canadian solo tech/prog death metal band Fathomless Ritual released it's debut album Hymns For The Lesser Gods via the ever impressive Indian extreme metal label Transcending Obscurity Records on March 1st. Little did I know that the sole creator behind Fathomless Ritual also performs in Fumes (the same Fumes that featured on a split LP with Celestial Sanctuary, Thorn and Perilaxe Occlusion) and Gutvoid, amongst others. 

The opening song is often difficult to nail, especially on a debut release. ‘Hecatomb For An Unending Madness’ is one that hits with rawness but also technical precision. The guttural, gurgling vocals are a shock to the system when performed alongside the instrumentation, which is more than accomplished. ‘Exiled To The Lower Catacombs’ sees Fathomless Ritual reach for a lengthier composition. In doing so, the band’s death metal takes on a form of it’s own. There’s a significant element of brutal death metal that overpowers the avant-garde instrumentation, especially with the vocals sitting higher in the mix. 

There’s absolutely no denying the quality of the instrumentation on this record, especially on ‘Gorge Of The Nameless’, which is an Atheist/Cynic-esque prog/death song that flows really well. There’s plenty of old-school nastiness seeping through the pores of ‘Grafted To The Chambers Of Mirth’. It’s a welcome addition to the album but the blasting brutality is never too far away either.

The second half of Hymns For The Lesser Gods throws out the meticulously played ‘Wielding The Bone Wand’. It’s tempo never dips, giving the listener a constant pounding. It’s also where the guitar/bass riffs are at their most hypnotic (if that were possible). The title ‘Cosmic Reflections From The Basin Of Blood’ conjures up all kinds of vivid images and they truly match up to the song itself. This one has a little bit more urgency, but that urgency doesn’t affect the band’s precision in any shape or form. If you’re listening to this on bandcamp, make sure you watch the accompanying video as well!

This record goes by way too quickly and before you know you’re getting dragged headfirst into penultimate song ‘Gelatinous Being Of Countless Forms’. It proves that even fast albums can take you on a journey. One that’s filled with imagery inspired by the amazing artwork that adorns it. In what feels like a bit of a contrast, album closer ‘Gifts For Aranaktu’ is a near-seven minute mammoth. It’s not the lumbering, slow beast I was expecting but that’s fine, because there are still some surprises going on. More avant-garde, cosmic riffing fills the speakers and around the five minute mark, you’re greeted with subtle slams and grooving instrumentation that signals the end of the record. 

This record is definitely worth taking time on. I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy it as much as I did to be honest, as I can get turned off by some brutal death metal at times; however, this has much more to offer musically and it’s a really strong debut. Old-school murk, technical precision and flourishing progression are all present. Fathomless Ritual will appeal to a whole spectrum of death and extreme metal fans.

You can stream and purchase the album digitally below, where you can also buy countless merch items and physical copies:-

Fathomless Ritual -

Transcending Obscurity Records -

Monday 11 March 2024

Frozen Blood - Revenge

Labels: Adirondack Black Mass/Death In Pieces Records/Diabolical Summoning Records/Dry Cough Records/Excarnation Records/Frozen Screams Imprint

Formats: Vinyl/CD/Tape/Digital

Release Date: 10 Feb 2023


 1. Revenge

2.  Castración Violenta

3. Esquizofrenia Podrida

4. Mercilessly

5. Die By The Sword (Slayer Cover)

This debut EP from Chilean death metal duo Frozen Blood has been in my personal tape collection for sometime now but I hadn't realised for how long. It's been over twelve months since A.A and S.A released their first body of songs. UK label Dry Cough Records were first to commit the EP to tape, before Mexican label Death In Pieces Records produced a cd/tape run. Brazilian label Excarnation Records followed soon after with their own cd pressing for the South American fans, while both Chilean label Diabolical Summoning Records and US label Frozen Screams Imprint did additional tape runs. Note: all info courtesy of Metal Archives, so I can't vouch for it's accuracy but I hope it's correct.

A year in metal music seems like ten years, such is the pace at which bands release new music. This debut EP from Chile’s Frozen Blood was released thirteen months ago today. Beginning with the title-track ‘Revenge’, you can hear exactly why Dry Cough Records have been championing this band over the last year or so. Frozen Blood’s take on the sub-genre is raw and blasting straight from the off, which is absolutely perfect. The harrowingly named ‘Castración Violenta’ is a mix of blackened-death and doom, with crisp percussion and similarly expressive guitar melodies. It twists and turns in various ways throughout it’s near three-minute playing time, proving that even when the duo turns up the urgency, they still know how to bring on the gloom.

‘Esquizofrenia Podrida’ oozes old-school ferocity and (dare I say it) charm. It’s a glorious slab of South American extremity that overpowers everything in it’s path, especially annoying and noisy neighbours! I haven’t knowingly been on the receiving end of a noise complaint before, so go figure. Frozen Blood’s final original song ‘Mercilessly’ is also their longest song, which is absolutely fine because it slays (no pun intended. You’ll understand why shortly). One again, that captivating melodic guitar work makes an appearance towards the end of the song before it gets overtly extreme. The way it fades out is a bit stark but it’s to be expected given what’s to follow.

Slayer’s ‘Die By The Sword’ is Frozen Blood’s choice of cover to round out this EP and I can totally understand why, as it matches their frantic and raw approach pretty damn well. They don’t try to make it into something it’s not, yet they inject their own personality into it at the same time. Metal purists probably hate covers, especially Slayer fans but there’s nothing to be afraid of here. Frozen Blood stay true to their own sound and approach. It’s much more enjoyable that way and it’s no surprise that so many independent labels jumped to help them spread Revenge around the globe.

You can stream and purchase Revenge digitally via bandcamp below:-

Frozen Blood Instagram - @frozenblood_osdm

Physical copies are still available from the below link:-

Death In Pieces Records -

Death In Pieces Records -

Diabolical Summoning Records -

Dry Cough Records -

Excarnation Records -

Frozen Screams Imprint - @frozen_screams_imprint Instagram

There is also a vinyl pressing of Revenge coming via Adirondack Black Mass, so keep an eye out for news here -

Wednesday 6 March 2024

Gxllium!/Onewaymirror - Split

Labels: Zegema Beach Records

Formats: CD/Digital

Release Date: 26 Feb 2024


1. Gxllium! - If Hector Was A Beaver

2. Gxllium! - The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs

3. Gxllium! - Who Pooped (The Dinosaur Did It)

4. Onewaymirror - Let's Make The Most Of This

5. Onewaymirror - She's Only Yours For A Minute

A new release on CD?! That's right, the physical medium that mainstream media outlets will have you believe is dying is definitely still alive and kicking. This split features two of California's newest emo-violence bands and was limited to 200 copies, with ZBR's 20 selling out almost instantly. The other 180 copies went to the bands.

Once again I prove that I’m ahead of the curve by reviewing a sold out release! Of course I’m joking (I know that British sarcasm doesn’t often translate well in a written form). All releases deserve time and space, especially sick splits like this. First up are three tracks from Gxllium! beginning with ‘If Hector Was A Beaver’, which is quite frankly a disgustingly good slab of noisy, mathy emo-violence with quality guitar work thrown into the mix on a song that darts all over the place. Mind-already-blown.

Their next track ‘The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs’ is no less intense with a brutal intro, scathing vocals and instrumentation that is anxiety-inducing to say the least. Add to that a penchant for bass-heavy noise and you’re onto a winner if you like your music chaotic. Final song ‘Who Pooped (The Dinosaur Did It) is that crazed mix of every sub-genre ever, from grind to hardcore to power-violence, not necessarily in that order.

Onewaymirror initially sound a lot more straightforward as they open ‘Let’s Make The Most Of This’ but it’s not too long before they go for the jugular too. The low-end riffs and harsh/semi-clean vocals add to their already hefty sound. With a greater nod to metalcore, Onewaymirror grab your attention without even trying.

Their second and final song ‘She’s Only Yours For A Minute’ lasts all of about ninety-seconds and while they don’t in anyway attempt to hit that illusive “brown note” that apparently exists in some musical circles, they do make the earth move thanks to their love of downtuned riffs and bass-heavy tones. It would have been awesome to have had one more song from Onewaymirror here, but beggars can’t be choosers. 

This split is wild. It’s on the extreme end of screamo for sure but that’s exactly where Gxllium! and Onewaymirror sit. 2024 is already going too quickly and new releases are proving harder than ever to keep up with but you’d be remiss if you overlooked this one. 

You can stream and purchase the split digitally below:-

Gxllium! -

Onewaymirror -

Zegema Beach Records -

Monday 4 March 2024

Gates Open - Voice After Silence

Labels: Inverse Records

Formats: Digital

Release Date: 09 Feb 2024


1. The Awakening

2. Let The Night Become Your Guide

3. Till Death Unite Us

4. A Place Called Home

5. Gates Open

6. I, The Intellectual

7. We Are No More

8. Death

9. Northern Dark

It's been a little while since I last felt the urge to write here and a long while since I last featured new music from Finland. Cue death/thrash duo Gates Open and their debut album Voice After Silence, which was officially released digitally in February via Inverse Records. Gates Open was formed in 2023 by Jere Neejärvi (guitar/bass/drums) and Tommi Manninen (vocals), who were previously members of melodic death metal band Down Into Silence. 

Album opener ‘The Awakening’ was first released as a single back in June of last year. Thankfully, Gates Open didn’t go down the route of just releasing every song (that makes up an album) as a single, which is an odd trend amongst new bands currently. The song is a strong way to kick off Voice After Silence though, with it’s exhilarating thrash metal tempos, melodic guitar work, snarling harsh vocals and even a nod to industrial music too. 

The album’s second single was ‘Let The Night Become Your Guide’. I like how Gates Open unleashed their first two songs as singles. Whether they’re the strongest choices remains to be seen as we make our way through the album, but judging by the moodier atmosphere and the more than articulate guitar solo, this song is certainly one that catches the ear.

Dare I say that Gates Open remind a little of Children Of Bodom. A big name to be compered to but their sound and delivery on ‘Till Death Unite Us’ could easily sit on a Bodom album. There’s nothing subtle about it and nor should there be. Sometimes, good old ripping death/thrash is all that’s needed.  There’s a direction change on ‘A Place Called Home’ as Gates Open slow things down after a nice melodic intro. It has a folk-like/symphonic undertone too, much like that of viking/folk metal bands Ensiferum and Finntroll. It certainly shows that the traditional Scandi sound is still alive and well.

The song that bares the band’s name draws you back into more familiar uptempo territory, while also encompassing black metal influences and synths too while, ‘I, The Intellectual’ follows with a much more heavily layered approach musically. The pace of ‘We Are No More’ is out of this world, especially during the opening bars. It’s the percussion that creates that pace and it carries on throughout the song, adding an extra layer of extremity to the recording. The succinctly titled ‘Death’ is apt as well because it leans much more towards death metal, which Gates Open perform brilliantly in their own style.

Closing out their debut with ‘Northern Dark’, Gates Open provide one final high-octane blast of quality death/thrash. Finland has always had a unique and experimental take on extreme music, and while Gates Open do tap into that sound on Voice After Silence, they also pay great homage to the more straightforward death metal sound the aforementioned Children Of Bodom and also Norther. This is a strong debut overall and Gates Open will surely go on to develop their sound further. A great starting point.

You can stream and purchase Voice After Silence digitally via bandcamp below:-

Gates Open -

Inverse Records -