söndag 25 december 2011

Full metal jack-off pt.III

So, here we are again. We've completed yet another circle around the sun and passed along the twelve signs of Zodiac and tons and tons of releases have avalanched down upon us and we are once again faced with the monumental task of trying to sift through them all and try to make some sort of sense of them. By sheer statistical force any attempt to make some sort of proper and fair year end-list will and must ultimately fail. A milion things can and do go wrong: you fail to include some obvious choice because you simply forgot it; the album you obssessed about and hailed as the Second Coming of Jeebus in January has quickly faded into mediocrity not necessarily because it was bad, but perhaps because it paled compared to other, newer releases; the black metal or sludge tip you were on in spring has settled down and now you're mostly into grindcore which naturally colour you selection. And so on. On the whole 2011 was a pretty decent metal/hardcore year in my opinion. We had some new and amazing albums come out from many of the respective genre's seasoned luminaries and quite a few from some of the strongest newcomers as well. My year end list is in no way a complete one, there is no ranking system here, just a selection of albums that were released this year that I was highly impressed with. You might argue that some of the bands presented here do not belong in whichever genre I have put them. This is mainly because so many of them defy classification and that is one of the great things about many of the new bands out there; their music is their own. It's not moulded from some blue print of what everybody else thinks is black metal or grindcore or punk. I guess there is a case to made for not including genres at all, but since this is my list and not yours or anybody else's, I choose to ignore it. If you don't like it or do not agree, I refer you to the image above. Here we go:

GRINDCORE:

HEXIS - XI
AGORAPHOBIC NOSEBLEED/DESPISE YOU - ON AND ON
FUCK THE FACTS - DIE MISERABLY
BRUTAL TRUTH - END TIMES
GRIDLINK - ORPHAN
NOISEAR - SUBVERT THE DOMINANT PARADIGM

BLACK METAL:

LEVIATHAN - TRUE TRAITOR, TRUE WHORE
TERRA TENEBROSA - THE TUNNELS
GORGOROTH - UNDER THE SIGN OF HELL
MHORGL - HERESIARCH
RAVENCULT - MORBID BLOOD
CARA NEIR - STAGNANT PERCEPTIONS
WOLVHAMMER - THE OBSIDIAN PLAINS

DEATH METAL:

CORPSESSED - THE DAGGER & THE CHALICE
THE ROTTED - AD NAUSEAM
SONNE ADAM - TRANSFORMATION
IMMOLATION - PROVIDENCE EP
NADER SADEK - IN THE FLESH
SVART CROWN - WITNESSING THE FALL
DEMONICAL - DEATH INFERNAL

METAL/HARDCORE:

UNREST - ST
TODAYS IS THE DAY - PAIN IS A WARNING
HAIL HORNET! - DISPERSE THE CURSE
HARM'S WAY - ISOLATION
AMERICAN HERITAGE - SEDENTARY
TOMBS - PATHS OF TOTALITY
TRAP THEM - DARKER HANDCRAFT
TOXIC HOLOCAUST - CONJURE & COMMAND
CLINGING TO THE TREES OF A FOREST FIRE/NESSERIA - SPLIT

HARDCORE/PUNK:

DEAD LANGUAGE - ST LP
TRENCHFOOT - ST EP
GRAF ORLOCK - DOOM BOX
HESSIAN - ST EP
PULLING TEETH - FUNERARY
WITHDRAWAL - FAITH FLESH AND BLOOD EP
BLACK GOD - ST EP
THE DWARVES - ARE BORN AGAIN
DRUGS OF FAITH - CORRODED
LOW THREAT PROFILE - PRODUCT #2
JAPANTHER - BEETS, LIME AND RICE

ELECTRO:

OHGR - UNDEVELOPED
BROTMAN & SHORT - HEIGHTS LP
BROTMAN & SHORT - RANKING VATS CS
SKINNY PUPPY - HANDOVER
CONTREPOISON - ...UNTIL THE NEXT MORNING
LUST FOR YOUTH - SOLAR FLARE

CRUST:

AMEBIX - SONIC MASS
BOOK OF BLACK EARTH - THE COLD TESTAMENT
ALPINIST + MASAKARI - SPLIT
PROTESTANT - STALEMATE

DOOM/SLUDGE:

BÄDR VOGU - EXITIUM
YOUNG HUNTER - CHILDREN OF A HUNGRY WORLD
KEN MODE - VENERABLE
DOPETHRONE - DARK FOIL

söndag 27 november 2011

Live undead

Death Wolf - Death Wolf
2011, Century Media

Being a huge fan of almost everything Glenn Danzig has put his voice to, it's no wonder I also became a fan of Devil's Whorehouse upon hearing their Revelation Unorthodox album a few years ago. The band oozed Danzig-ness. They weren't so much influenced by the earliest Misfits era, but rather the later years, around the time they broke up (Earth AD/Wolf's Blood) and their infamous frontman moved on to form Samhain with Brian Baker and Lyle Presslar from the remnants of Minor Threat. Devil's Whorehouse's music was a mix of fast heavy hardcore and thrash metal and the vocals were pure Samhain-Glenn. It was pastiche rather than parody. And it was actually really good. Particularly that album. The others though, left me vaguely disappointed. Then a few years roll by and the band resurfaces again, now with a new name - Death Wolf - signifying a move towards a sound more of their own; still unabashedly displaying their original influences proudly and openly, but also moving past it, to become more than just the-band-that-sounds-like-Misfits/Samhain.

Already on the opening track of their self titled album one notices a huge difference from the albums of the band's earlier incarnation; the riffs and rythms are less rooted in crossover/metal this time. It's heavier, it's rockier, punkier and bluesier. The vocals are both angrier and more relaxed and reminds me at times of Melvins frontman Buzz Osborne. Vocalist Maelstrom's voice still has a bit of that Danzig/Elvis twang to it, especially in the quieter, more emotional parts, but it's less apparent overall. There is also a sort of Dwid Hellion (Integrity) kind of snarling scream he uses in the faster, more furious tracks, like closer Dawn Of Flesh. The overall sound is less inspired by mid-eighties thrash metal than before; when it's hardcore it's pure hardcore and when it's metal it's pure metal, at times with a slow bluesy twist, if not in structure, then at least in melody. Think Entombed meets Melvins meets Earth AD-era Misfits meets early Danzig. This kicks so much ass it's unbelievable. Alot of the imagery is still very much steeped in that sensual, wet, warm occult darkness we've become accustomed to from both Danzig and Devil's Whorehouse but it feels less like a gimmick now and more like a cohesive whole that's actually part of an overall esthetic.

I know it may seem somewhat unfair to keep mentioning Glenn Danzig throughout this review, as if Death Wolf was nothing more than a fanboy-apes-their-hero-band, but the fact remains that much of what inspires these guys comes from that man. And to me it is as much a testament to his importance in modern heavy music, as it is to Death Wolf's vision and perseverance in creating something unique of their own, drawing influences from, but not limiting themselves to imitation of that man and his musical projects.

Death Wolf deserves much more attention than they seem to have garnered since the release of this album. They are hugely talented musicians and the rather oddly diverse musical threads they knit together in their songs fit as a whole in an ingenious and remarkable way. There's so much going on on this album it'll take many more spins for me to grasp it all. The range of moods and styles present on the album are so varied it's not really fair to call it just a metal album, nor would I call it hardcore (only a very few of the songs are actually that fast) and still it isn't a crossover album. It's just more and bigger and better than that.

torsdag 24 november 2011

You ain't so cool, I really can't take it. You've got an ugly face, you know I'm gonna break it!

Trenchfoot - Trenchfoot 7''
2011,

On their self-titled debut, New York's (the state, not the city, I think) Trenchfoot unleash ten tracks of sharp, quick and unrelenting modern hardcore with only minimal metal influences. It's not necessarily built on unwavering speed all the time but rather a sense of urgency and nervous aggression that's refreshing. Awesome breakdowns, fuelled by great riffs and sense of dynamics break up the frenetic pace of the songs and make them all really memorable. And the vocalist has a really cool Dwid meets Pushead thing going on that I dig immensely. Trenchfoot's particular style feels like it owes alot of it's existence to some of the heavier acts of the 80's HC era, like Septic Death, Corrosion Of Conformity, Sick Of It All and Die Kreuzen, rather than anything more recent; the tone of the music is dark and depressing and has a vicious streak that's oddly infectious. This is a short release, around nine minutes or so, recorded by Kurt Ballou (Converge), but it's really cool and really hope these guys stay the course because this ep is smoking hot.

onsdag 23 november 2011

Hardcore cluster bomb pt 4: Short and nasty

Hatewaves - The Tombs
2011, A389

I need to state this before I go on: this EP is TOO FUCKING SHORT! It just is. It needs to be at least twice as long, and then it'd still be too short. I mean c'mon guys, The Tombs is like four minutes long! What the hell?! I need to play this fucker on repeat like ten times to even begin to feel satisfied. So I'm expecting a full length real soon, like pronto, hear? Ok, good. That's settled then. Now onto what we actually do have here on this (way too fucking) short ep. Hatewaves plays a heavy, dirty mix of hardcore and grind that borders on power violence. The songs are (too fucking) short and to the point, like miniature nukes going off one after the other, in rapid succession, sometimes pried apart by weird interludes with samples and instrumental bits (well, one instrumental bit, really). There's lots of movement from blasting speeds to rumbling slow heavy parts but they are all (too fucking) brief so there's not any chance whatsoever of becoming bored for even a microsecond. The vocals are midrange burly screams which is awesome and a nice change to all the manic, high pitched pig-like shrieks and/or guttural, cookie-monster-throws-up-in-the-toilet-bowl growls that are so prevalent in heavy music these days. Like the equally (too fucking) short Taste The Beast ep before it, The Tombs is a rumbling monster of hardcore fury, but this time the music is more narrowly focused and nastier sounding. And a shitload heavier. These guys are moving in the right direction with what they're doing. I only wish they'd do it a little bit longer next time. You know like maybe ten minutes? Is that too much to ask? Oh, and what the hell's up with the cover art? I mean, seriously?

måndag 21 november 2011

Spawn of the ever-rolling abyss

Defeatist - Tyranny Of Decay
2011, Nerve Altar

I won't even try to pigeon-hole these guys into a genre. Is it grind? Yeah, sort of, but ... no not really. Hardcore? Umm, yeah well, yes but also no. Metal then? Yeah that too, but kind of not. In the end the only thing that counts is if it's any good. And Defeatist are good. Really good. They write catchy as hell riffs and saturate them with little twists and turns and semi-progressive flurries and huge helpings of blast beats. I love how they move flawlessly from fast bouncy punk riffs to menacing black metal-snarling melodies in no time at all and then without missing a beat crank up the blast beats. This is some really intense shit, but it's also very technical in a way that I rarely hear in bands like Defeatist, with breakneck turns and stops and weird time-signatures. There's a real sense of melody here, in the middle of all the sonic mayhem, that often reminds me of more progressive, jazzier, artists like Nomeansno and Converge (even though they in turn have basically nothing in common, besides being fucking amazing bands) and also a sense of off-beat dissonance in both riffing and melody. The vocal patterns and the vocals themselves give off a really dirty d-beat/black metal vibe, which, strangely, works really well with the music. These guys are something of a stand out within this weird anything-goes genre. They're both messier and more progressive than most of their peers. Two manically flailing thumbs up for Defeatist.

söndag 20 november 2011

Skin graft at 1.000 miles an hour

Dead In The Dirt - Fear
2011, Southern Lord

Dead In The Dirt's latest effort, simply titled Fear, offers up ten brief tracks of heavy as shit hardcore that mixes straight up 90's hardcore with elements of grind, d-beat and gritty death metal. None of the tracks move beyond the two minute mark, so it's all over in a flash. The brevity isn't really a problem; it only whets your appetite for repeated spins. The recording is extremely heavy and feels really dense, but in a good way. There's a gritty texture to the guitars and the drums sound great and are tight as hell. There's depth in the sound even though it's really really heavy, so even the basslines are clearly audible, which is a huge plus. I really dig the multiple vocal attacks and the way the songs are structured; they never become tedious, mainly because they're too short to become boring, but also because there's a shitload of stuff going on in every song. It's not spastic in that often enervating mathy sense, but more like something honed and stripped down to it's bare bones. There's no redundancy here. I can't and won't make any comparisons to other bands, except to say that DITD moves in the same, somewhat murky, territory as bands such as Nails, Defeatist, Naysayer and Full Of Hell.

fredag 18 november 2011

Apathy in the UK

The Rotted - Ad Nauseam
2011, Candlelight Records


Following searinlgy hot on the heels of last years Anarchogram EP, brit death metal quartet The Rotted's new album, Ad Nauseam, continues along the same lines as it's predecessor, dishing out fucking stellar death metal, painted with a brush dipped in punk attitude and sound as well as a murky hue of crustiness. These songs ooze a drunken youthful disregard and disdain for conformity and normalcy and flips the middle-finger at just about everybody ("fuck the left and fuck the right, stand straight or fall in line. No gods, no laws, no lies, until I die") even though these guys all must be in the thirties now. Which is impressive in itself because this type of attitude can often become just, well, sad, when done not quite right. But it's also impressive on another level, because that attitude and (a?)political fury was never really apparent in the band's past incarnation, Gorerotted. The band morphed into it's present form after Gorerotted dissolved due to "creative differences", that catch-all reason of seemingly all break-ups in the music industry. I actually didn't 'discover' Gorerotted until they were already gone, and even though I actually really enjoy their abrasive, dirty take on gore-death metal (which is a rare thing, since songs called Stab Me 'Til I Cum and Gagged, Shagged & Bodybagged, while funny, rarely inspire confidence in me, unless they're written by either Carcass or Exhumed) the music of Gorerotted doesn't even come close to The Rotted. I knew as soon as I heard the first few pummeling bars of opener Anarchogram Sun, with its stripped down, thunderous bassline, like some Bolth Thrower war machine, rolling over a heavy d-beat, that I would fucking love this album. And each song thereafter only solidified that first crucial impression. There are a few tracks that harkens back, somewhat, to the bands gorier more technical style as Gorerotted but they never fully commit to pure Carcass worship anywhere on the album, which, to me, benefits their style, as well as the album. Some of these songs are ridiculously catchy. And I mean this in a good way. At times The Rotted remind me of a less technical, brittish, version of Misery Index, with their equally punky attitude towards modern death metal. And while we're on the subejct of bands I'm reminded of while listening to Ad Nauseam, there is a huge Entombed vibe going on in Non Serviam, with its anthemic, fist pumping chorus of "I will not serve!" and chugging, very basic, very 'metal-y' chord progression. And it's perhaps that, at times, simplistic style that attracts me to The Rotted's music. Don't get me wrong, these guys are are highly proficient musicians and really talented song writers. And it's exactly that great ability to use simplicity to their advantage that, at least in part, make them such great song writers. Why complicate shit when there's no need? There's enough diversity here to sate anyone into this kind of drink- and drug-fuelled (they're brits, so of course substance abuse is heavily involved here: I mean they have songs called Drink Myself to Death and Angel Of Meth) sonic rebellion. Admittedly the brunt of the music is fast, often ultra fast, with hyper-speed tremolo picking and blast beats, but there's lots of variation and lots of different moods displayed on Ad Nauseam even though much of the fare has a real solid in your face 'fuck you' attitude to it. This is for fans of death metal and hardcore punk alike. Killer shit for real.

måndag 14 november 2011

On Earth as it is in Hell

Yeah I know, it's been a while. I won't make excuses, I won't pretend you really give a shit if this blog exists or not and I won't waste anymore of your or my time with this preamble. New shit I've listened to these past few days reviewed below.


Sulaco - Build and Burn
2011, Handshake Inc

Sulaco has been around since 2003 and even though I've seen the name around and heard of them I'd never made an effort to actually track anything of theirs down. It turns out I'm a bit of a fuckhead. Because I should've. Sulaco oozes energy from every available pore and orifice. There is a Converge-meets-Trap-Them sense of unstoppable urgency going on here that's impossible to not get hooked on. There are semi-mathy prog parts, lots of insane almost b-horror movie like melodies and a huge dose of Brutal Truth grindness/weirdness, both rythm-wise and in the riffing. The more I listen to this album the more I get an almost caleidoscopic feeling off of Build and Burn. I mean, shit there's a huge death metal presence here, loads of dirty punk as well as an almost, well, dare I say it...emo-esque sense of melody. There are heavy as fuck sludgy, almost doomy, parts and there are pure blast beat sections that weave in and out of it all, often driven by those mathy odd horror movie melodies. I am so incredibly pleased to have finally gotten my shit togehther to listen to Sulaco because it's most definately worth it.


Young Hunter - Children of a Hungry World
2011,

Young Hunter, hailing from Tucson, Arizona, sounds like they just stepped out of a time warp straight from the late sixties and they spin huge, epic doom yarns mixed with drugged out psychedelic rock and stoner elements in a way that completely blew me away. There are even black metal-ish segments thrown in for good measure, with blast beats and all! Amazing. This is living-in-a-van-smoking-dope-kinda-music, it's I-wanna-move-to-the-desert-and-do-peyote-music, this is Charlie-Manson-is-a-friend-of-mine-and-he's-groovy-kinda-music. With a modern twist that somehow eludes my attempts to pin down. Imagine mixing Jefferson Airplane, Black Sabbath and Kyuss and letting it all pass through the digestive system of both Boyd Rice and Hunter S. Thompson. That's what Young Hunter sounds like. Kinda. Their stuff is available through bandcamp. Go there and listen for yourself.


UFO Gestapo - Grandemmisair
2011, Streaks Records

Grandemissair is the latest offering from vaguely proggy, heavy doom dealers UFO Gestapo. There's a huge Sabbath presence in these songs but there's also a dirty, ADD-kind of punk vibe going on that's a bit Black Flagg-y if you get my drift. This isn't only all-out sludge in the EyeHateGod sense of the word, but there are lots of loose structures here, lots of weird, noisy parts and lots of spaced out jams. But there are also brief, wicked, blasts of unrestrained hardcore fury, that break up the plodding monotony that's inevitable in this kind of music. There is a strong sense of 80's hardcore to some of these songs, reminding me at times of bands like Flipper and early The Melvins. I know next to nothing about the band except that they're apparently from France and that this is their second full length release so far. Really good stuff.

lördag 15 oktober 2011

Relax, it's only paranoia

Amebix - Sonic Mass
2011, Easy Action Records

It's been a while since the last time Amebix released anything, and even though they seemed to be on a permanent hiatus for a long while, there must have been some sort of smouldering remnant left of the fires that used to rage in them, because now they're, finally, back with a new album. Last year they released an ep, as a taster I guess, but it kind of flew by me without making any real kind of dent. But fuck shit Christ Almighty this full length album is seriously killing me! I don't think I'm jumping the gun here when predicting that this will most assuredly be on many a year-round-up lists. It will definately be on mine. What the band has done here fucking boggles my mind. I can't properly express how wild, confusing, beautiful, dark, aggressive, deep, filthy and poly-levelled this album is. It's like the old Amebix, but with sprawling Cthulhu-ian octopus arms and trunks that reach much farther than the old band ever did. They now sound like Amebix circa 1985 mixed with bits and pieces of Killing Joke, Neurosis and a dozen other bands I can't think of at the moment. But it's still not a close enough description of what the band sound like. There are times at which they sound eeirily like their younger selves the way they sounded in songs like Largactyl, Nobody's Driving, Axeman and Drink And Be Merry; crusty rumbling metallic bass lines covered by rugged, barbed-wire guitars and vocals that makes children and senoir citizens pee themselves. At other times they're like some atavistic, mutant remnant from the dark, plastic, faux art decco caverns of the new wave-80's where synths paint deep dark murals over which sparse rumbling bass and clean guitars weave in and out. There are aucoustic parts, paired with clean somber vocals, as in the amazing title track and the equally stunning, fucking epic, opener Days and there are nasty flurries of filth and rage as in the massive, mauling Shield Wall or Sonic Mass Part 2. There are huge, monumental songs (not necessarily in length though - only three of the ten tracks are longer than five minutes) that take multiple listenings to even begin to take in and there are shorter, much more direct songs that hit you like a hammer. I am so excited by this album it's ridiculous. This is how music should make you feel. I just hope we won't have to wait another twenty-odd fucking years until the band releases another album. But if they do and it's anywhere near Sonic Mass, it'll definately be worth the wait.

torsdag 29 september 2011

Face the feast of powder

Death Grips - Exmilitary
2011, Third Worlds

Brutal, noisy, weird avant garde hiphop. That's what this is. Dunno who made it, dunno why and I don't really care. All I'm concerned with is this: It kills! The scope of my knowledge of hiphop/rap has never been what you would call encyclopedic or even vaguely moderate. Sure I've listened to the sassy swinging sounds of the Beasties, the politically potent pontifications of Chuck D and his soul brethren, the equally politically laced lamentations and litanies of Consolidated and maybe a few others, but in all honesty, rap never really did it for me. That is, until I heard the Exmilitary mixtape by Death Grips (I have no clue why it's called a mixtape. To me it's an album, but hey what the hell do I know?). This is some whole other level of shit right here. This is downright evil. The beats are huge and oftentimes kind of odd and the music, most likely collected and scavenged from hundreds of places, is fierce and not a little bit disturbing, in a Whitehouse/Sutcliffe Jügend kind of way. Not that this is anywhere near any power electronics kind of territory, it's just that it's noisy and unhinged and more than just a bit bipolar. As are the vocals and the lyrics, that are often like stream of consciousness style rantings and at times really confrontational and aggressive. Check out the band's (is this even a band?) website for free downloads, webstore, videos and lyrics. DON'T miss this, whatever you do.

onsdag 28 september 2011

Dead stare for life

Low Threat Profile - Product # 1
2010, Deepsix Records

Low Threat Profile - Product # 2
2011, Deepsix Records

Damn. This must be some of the most intense shit ever to be pressed on vinyl since Corrosion Of Conformity released their Animosity lp, way back when. That album scared the living shit out of my younger self. It scared me and yet it drew me in like some evil black vortex. I remember being shocked to the core of my being and totally blown away by Mike Dean's fang-drippingly rabid and barely human vocals on Prayer, Holier and Kiss Of Death; how he snarled and raged like some sick cornered animal; how the music was the most viscious, bass throbbing, distorted nightmare sounds I had ever come across in my fifteen years of living. It was some seriously sick twisted shit and my younger self was so not ready for that.
This was in the good old days of vinyl records, lyric sheets and proper album covers and attention spans that spanned... well, more than just a few bars on each track - and back then you actually made an effort to listen to the albums you bought, were given or had stolen. So even though Animosity was a horrific fucking soundtrack to a nightmare I stuck with it and learned to love the album and began regarding it as one of the absolute top ten albums of my life. As I still do. What still resonates with me now, a whole bunch of decades later, is the unrelenting force and raw primal rage the album displays; it's like diving into some completely alien mindset where the main psychological driving forces are stark paranoia and mind numbing fear. It's a journey deep into some unknown dark, humid abyss, where there is no light at the end of the tunnel, no reprieve from the weight of the darkness around you, compressing your lungs, slowly choking you. It's that fucking good.

Just like these two records by Low Threat Profile. They are the epitome of what hardcore, in my opinion, is all about. Raw, undiluted, unbridled emotional turmoil. These two releases are like miniature nukes, containing short, wicked fast bursts, extremely well executed, of feral, raging hardcore. The band comprises a veritable whos's who of power violence veterans and hardcore notables and these guys bring the thunder way beyond any of my preconceieved notions or expectations. Product # 1, being a seven inch, contains eleven songs while the lp (Product #2) contains fifteen and together they make up a discography, even though it's short so far, that utterly annihilates everybody else in the game today. Except maybe for Dead Language, who they share members with. There is so much to take note of here: the production, which is clean and crisp, and, though perhaps a bit on the dry side (on the lp), very open and suitably heavy; the to-the-pointness of the songs themselves, short, aggressive but always fully developed with great bass runs underneath the guitars; the amazing vocals of Andy Beattie, that are some of the best in the history of hardcore, oftentimes sounding eeriely like Tom Araya; as well as the intensity and atmosphere of the music. It is obvious these cats have been doing this for a while and aren't some arrogant newb knowitalls. The songs on these two releases are so forceful I get an adrenalin rush everytime I listen to them. The songs are all very distinct and memorable which in itself is a rare thing in this genre where songs have a tendency to blend together and sound sort of the same in the end. None of that shit here though. I can't say enough positive things about these two records. If you like your hardcore fast, primal, sweaty, angry and vaguely mentally unstable, Low Threat Profile should be the fix you've been jonesing for.

And yes, I'm aware that I've mentioned C.O.C as an opener in a review of a band with members from Infest, No Comment, Iron Lung, Lack Of Interest etc two times now, but it just worked out that way and I truly don't give a damn and besides, Animosity is one of the best hardcore albums ever recorded, so there.




söndag 11 september 2011

I see the evil in your savage heart as it cuts right through the sky

Today Is The Day - Pain Is A Warning
2011, Black Market Activities

Today Is The Day is back with a new album, new members and, partially, a new sound. The band has almost completely sloughed off any remnants of the psychedelic, progressive noiserockiness they've become known for and, to a certain degree, trimmed down the material into more traditional rock n roll structures. This makes for some - probably intentionally - bizarre effects, like the very AC/DC-esque riffage in the title track or the anthemic cock-rock chorus in The Devil's Blood. At the same time this trimming has opened up the playing field for a slightly more commercial sound, that is perhaps more accessible than some (or most) of their older stuff. Also there are some much calmer, somber - almost ballad-like - tracks on the album, one of which, titled This Is You, for some reason reminds me a lot of Tom Petty And The Hearbreakers. But, just because my overall impression of the album is one of restraint that doesn't mean the band has somehow lost their way artistically or musically. Not at all. Quite the opposite. The music on Pain Is A Warning is throwing off sparks in every concievable direction, positively seething with barely contained rage and with its paranoid gaze set on external enemies and internal demons alike. The album never goes off the extreme deep end like the band did on Kiss The Pig and Axis Of Eden, but lyrically everything still oozes with anger and a holehearted disgust towards the majority of humankind. I have a feeling Steve Austin wouldn't mind a serious culling of the human herd if it ever came up for discussion.

But wether this percieved misanthropy is only lyrical posturing, satire or heartfelt sentiment it is quite clear that Austin is one of the best song writers in the scene today. I find myself smiling like a rabid dog, my head bobbing in syncopation, every time I hear the Satyricon-esque riffs in the opening of Wheelin' or the epic Manowar-like grandeur of Slave To Eternity. This is vintage TITD only with the excess fat trimmed away, the vision more acute and the execution more precise. There is still some time before I've managed to completely digest the album but I have a feeling PIAW will be of of this year's top releases.

lördag 20 augusti 2011

Life made me Hardcore

Dead Language - Dead Language
2011, Iron Lung Records

There's something strangely disconcerting about Dead Language's music. There is an almost overwhelmingly oppressive sense of claustrophobia, rage and paranoia coming off from from these songs, reminding me of Corrosion Of Conformity's Animosity record or the first Die Kreuzen album. And while I can't quite put my finger on it, there is a feeling of a lot more going on here than meets the eye. As if there are hidden layers somewhere in there that I just can't seem to get at. I also get a distinctly Black Flagish angst-ridden vibe that isn't really present in the music itself so much as in the overall tone of this lp. Dead Language (which feature members from Iron Lung, Walls, Low Threat Profile, Running For Cover and the mighty No Comment) plays a nasty form of heavy and fast hardcore that's neither very punk nor very metal, but altogether its own, unique, entity. At times it reminds me a bit of Total Abuse and Ceremony as well as the aforementioned Low Threat Profile or Iron Lung, but Dead Language never really goes all in on the power violence and grind elements, but rather does it's own thing, incorporating those elements without overstating them. The majority of the tracks are short and fast and ferocious, with a real sense of urgency to them, almost panicky, with a lot of emotional turmoil and tempo shifts weaving in and out. There are plenty of hooks and breakdowns and tons of amazing riffs but they never last more than a few seconds, which fit these songs perfectly. The vocals are fucking amazing as well, sounding at times like a hungrier, nastier lower-register Mike Williams (EyeHateGod and Arson Anthem). There is almost no breathing space at all within these nine songs except for maybe the nine minute closing experimental track, fittingly titled Misanthropy, but that's what makes Dead Language's music so utterly devastating. It makes you feel like you can't breathe; as if your life is in danger. I've already lost count of how many times I've listened to this. This could, seriously, be one of the best hardcore records I have ever heard.



torsdag 18 augusti 2011

Splitsville pt 2: Q: And crusties? A: And crusties.

Alpinist/Masakari - Split
2011, Southern Lord

Masakari is rapidly becoming one of really big names in modern hardcore, and the reason why is plain to hear on this brand new split with fellow german crustgrinders Alpinist. And as much I respect the latter, it is essentially for Masakari that I keep returning to this split lp. The material they unleash here is so many fucking leagues ahead of the curve of what anybody else is doing right now it's quite honestly disturbing. They display not only amazing musicianship but also absolutely stellar song writing. These aren't your ordinary everyday glue-huffing crusties who accidentally stumbled into a practice space and started a band "because they could", but fucking solid musicians, capable of writing truly memorable and epic hardcore songs. They incorporate metal elements into their crusty brand of grind/hardcore, both from the doomier side of the spectrum as well as from the death metal side of things. They also slip in a lot of melody and breathing room into the songs giving them a much bigger depth and accessibility, while at the same time also giving them a sense of complexity that makes them not quite as easy to penetrate and figure out as their previous material. These eight tracks are by far their best material yet and I can only hope the band stays the course set out on this split.

Alpinist plays a very similar style but focuses more on the basic staples of the genre; heavy breakdowns, d-beat styled metallic hardcore blasts of midtempo fury, with alot of simplistic melody thrown into the mix, as well as some really cool black metal influenced bits. I actually really love what they do here, but it pales in comparison to Masakari's material. Sorry, guys. It's not you, it's me.

Use bandcamp to stream and/or download this split and check out the lyrics as well.

Masakari's bandcamp
Alpinist's bandcamp

onsdag 17 augusti 2011

Do you want total war? / Unleash the beast in man once more?

Total War - 8 Track Demo
2011

On this brand new demo Vancouver's Total War unleash eight tracks in just over nine minutes and it's all about raging hardcore punk. I hear similarities to such notables as World Burns To Death and Tragedy, as well as an apparent love for Japanese and Scandinavian metallic dis-core. It's unceasingly aggressive and anthemic yet somehow vaguely melodic. The pace is intense and seldom drops below whiplash speed but it never gets anywhere near boring; the songs simply aren't long enough to become dull. Each and every one of them is like a punch in the face, with lots of ripping metallic riffs and lots of bouncy d-beats. Nothing fancy just shit that gets the job done. Me likes.



Obsessor - Obsession EP
2011, Tankcrimes

Here we have two fairly short tracks of perfectly executed old school deathrash with a huge dose of crusty punkiness thrown into the mix. This is raging hardcore as much as it is metal and I keep thinking of British 80's metalpunk act Warfare when I hear this. This is a killer ep with a really cool retro-style of metal that's much in the same vein as that of Toxic Holocaust, only rougher and less frilly (and considering the almost complete lack of frills in Toxic Holocaust's music you know this is some rapid fire no-nonsense shit). The pace is frantic but never really blistering fast, just thunderous midtempo blasts with a huge Motörhead, G.I.S.M and Venom influence, with gruff shouted, rather than screamed, vocals. The production is kind of raw and rugged but it works pretty well even though it feels a bit too brittle at times. I'm pretty pissed off that there are only two measly songs on this thing. More! Now!



Suffering Quota - Suffering Quota Demo
2011

This demo blew me clear the fuck away on the first initial listen and that's not something that happens very often. These five short tracks are some of the very best I've heard in the genre for quite some time. It's a rare thing to have a blend such as this where really memorable grindcore bleed so easily into both hardcore and thrash as well as death metal and to have it played so astonishingly well is nigh on unheard of. The songs are all short but they are constantly moving forward, continually throwing in little twists and turns into the mix. I really dig the vocals as well, because they aren't the usual fare of high pitched shrieks and cookie monster growls. They rather remind me of Scott Hulls vocals for Pig Destroyer. In fact alot of the music on this way too fucking short demo remind me of Pig Destroyer. Perhaps that is why Suffering Quota's music clicked so strongly with me. I'm truly looking forward to hearing more from these guys.


All three above releases are available for free downloads. Just check the links and you'll find them.

tisdag 16 augusti 2011

Serving Time In The Middle Of Nowhere

Meth Drinker - Meth Drinker
2011, Always Never Fun Records

On their self titled debut New Zealanders Meth Drinker set the bar for what's to come right at the onset. Opener Deprivation is a plodding, ragged, nasty piece of downtuned punkfuelled hatesludge. There is no beauty or light to be found here. There isn't anything even remotely positive that you can draw from this album. Only a damp sense of failure and angst, of drug induced psychosis, misdirected rage and self-destruction. This is the soundtrack to a decaying life of rotting teeth and substance abuse and a slowly deteriorating surrounding world that doesn't care if you live or die. This is pitch black, devastatingly depressive shit. But it's also very, very good. There are obvious shades of EyeHateGod clearly present but that in no way detracts from the force of these rumbling, feedback-laden dirges of death, failure and spite. None of the nine tracks are overly long or in any way boring or droney, which is too often the case with this style of music. This is doom/sludge with a huge side-order of Flipper/Black Flag snottiness and chaos attached to it, as well as some obligatory Black Sabbath riffing. Meth Drinker in no way re-write the book or anything. They just do what they do really, really well. Even if I do feel like I need a long, hot shower after listening to it.



söndag 14 augusti 2011

Apocalypse Wow!

Hail! Hornet - Disperse The Curse
2011, Relapse Records

On their sophmore release Hail! Hornet brandish a bigger brush and use a broader palette of colours than on their self-titled debut, incorporating a greater variety of styles, from near grindcore and hardcore thrash, to bluesy sludge and NWOBHM-style riffs and more. Not only that, but on this album they manage to incorporate these disparate elements more succinctly and less stealthily than on its predecessor. The song writing is tighter, the vocal patterns are sharper, the riffs more memorable and the drumming fucking stellar. This is a huge step up from an already huge debut. Everything about Disperse The Curse is monumentally ferocious. From the backwards spoken passage and the thunderous opening of Shoot The Pigs to the thrashy, bass-jangly Suicide Belt, to the cavernous dirge-like closing track, Blacked Out In Broad Daylight listening to DTC is akin to being persistently pummelled with liver shots while someone screams rabidly in your face. There is seriously not one single song on this album that doesn't blow me away and does not make me want to break expensive things. The production is wicked heavy and stripped down with a killer bass presence. Did I mention the drumming? I just can't seem to stop listening to it. It's, simply, that good.

söndag 24 juli 2011

I will ride the wings of darkness/fuck your blessed trinity

Toxic Holocaust - Conjure & Command
2011, Relapse Records

There is no doubt in my mind that Conjure & Command not only is the crowning achievement of the career of these yanks so far, but also one of the absolute top five metal record to be released this year. It's an album I've been awaiting eagerly for quite some time now. I'd previously heard the leaked track, Nowhere To Run, and was instantly blown away by the simplicity and stripped down-ness of it and I was fucking itching to listen to the rest of it. And now, finally, it's here. And, man, does it deliver. Conjure & Command seethes with truly wicked old school deathrash, bringing to mind such seminal eighties greats as Kreator, Destruction, Venom, Warfare, Sodom and Slayer.

This is what metal used to sound like in the 1980's before it morphed and split into death metal, speed metal and thrash metal. This was before anyone really gave a shit what they called their music, beyond the vague, but perfectly fine, descriptor 'metal'. This is music defined by, but not at all limited to, eighties deathrash metal, so there is never that odd sense of irony and out of place humour that often cripples bands like these. There is never the sense that the band is desperately trying to relive or re-capture some golden era of heavy metal, which is a venture that almost always fails. There is enough speed on C&C to remind one of Toxic Holocaust's earlier releases, for example in raging opener Judgement Awaits You, but also a greater mix of styles and tempos than before. The already stripped down style of their past body of work is now being eaten down to the bone, leaving only the necessary bare minimum, resulting in top notch song writing. The band delivers ten tracks of crushingly intense punk infused metal that very often reminds me of Venom, though several orders of magnitude better. And speaking of Venom; there is an apparent stylistic vocal turn towards a very Cronos-y style of deep growling coming from frontman Joel Grind, which is awesome. Not much else to say except, this is one of the very few metal albums that actually delivers everything the hype has promised.

måndag 18 juli 2011

What is it? Caught in a mosh!

Xibalba - Madre Mia Gracias Por Los Dias
2010, Southern Lord

On Madre Mia Gracias Por Los Dios, Xibalba lays on some thunderously heavy, downtuned hardcore with a huge side order of chugging metal. It all reeks of Hatebreed, NYHC, old school death metal, Slayer and in their heaviest moments, Korn (!). It's all suffocatingly heavy but in a really good way. I'm thouroughly impressed with the way the band manages to bring that massive weight into the faster tracks (like Obituary) without losing any of the heaviness. Despite the fact that I rarely listen to this kind of hardcore/mosh metal, I 've found myself spinning this album quite a lot lately and enjoying the hell out of it, so Xibalba are, obviously, doing something right.


Harm's Way - Isolation
2011, Closed Casket Activities

Isolation is the latest effort from this Chicago-based hardcore act and it contains a singularly effective mix of heavy filthy hardcore and metal. The album is a seething mess of fury and restraint that immediately takes a chokehold on the listener with the churning noisy power violence intro to Scrambled and keeps that grip tight like a vice for the duration of the album. The music only rarely strays above midtempo (often wallowing deep in the swamps of sludgy power violence and doomy metal) but manages to maintain a brilliant sense of dynamic throughout. The album twists and turns from tiny noisy interludes, to almost industrially tinged metal parts (featured most prominently in Becoming) and old school death metally d-beat hardcore and then back again to chugging moshy breakdowns. The band obviously has a great eye (ear?) for detail, which is something that really brings the songs on this album forward and gives them a stronger sense of structure and an added push, be they churning ominous melodies, dissonant twists or awesome drum fills. Closer track, Pretender, is one of this year's best songs, any and all categories.

lördag 9 juli 2011

In on the kill taker

Wugazi! I can't even begin to imagine the warped (stoned?) reasoning behind the decision to do a mashup between legendary acts Fugazi and Wu-Tang Clan, but I applaud it all the same. Stoked to hear the full album. Meanwhile listen to/download these two tracks.

Sweet Release by WUGAZI

Sleep Rules Everything Around Me by WUGAZI

måndag 27 juni 2011

Hardcore cluster bomb pt 3: Time For The Resurgence of Female Fronted Metal and Hardcore?

Oathbreaker - Maelstrom
2011, Deathwish Inc.

For some reason women rarely feature in the bands I listen to, which is perhaps not so strange considering the testosterone levels of most of the music within the metal and hardcore scenes. But it's always been there at the back of my mind: why is it that only a handful of the acts I listen to with any degree of regularity have any female members (Landmine Marathon, Despise You and Detente comes to mind)? Don't they rock as hard as their male counterparts? Of course they do.
Do they somehow lack some prerequisite ability or obviously male-only metal/punk talent? Of course they don't.
Perhaps it's just a matter of female musicians having a hard time penetrating the heavily guarded walls to the Boy's Club of Rock n Roll and proving themselves? Probably.

Either way, Oathbreaker vocalist Caro (a member of that supposedly weaker sex), doesn't need to prove shit to me. She's more than welcome into the Boy's Club. In fact, she'll probably kick most of their asses. Rarely have I heard a vocalist perform so fucking outstandingly well in this specific genre. Male or female. Her unbelievably harsh midrange screams fit perfectly as a counterweight to the density of Oathbreaker's music. At first I thought her vocals would get a bit stagnant since they rarely ever stray from that almost panic-like sense of vicious desperation and anger, but I soon realised they're fucking perfect for what the band does. And once you scrutinise the lyrics a little bit closer, that realisation only stenghtens.

Oathbreaker does that whole metallic hardcore thing, and they do it really well, with tons of tempo shifts and breakdowns, moving from upper midtempo to sludgy almost Sabbathy riffage without sounding contrived or unfocused. They're slightly closer to the metal end of things than most of their contemporaries but this fits their style to a t. They're also alot heavier than many of the bands I'd usually tag as metallic hardcore, but they in no way come off sounding as an Integrity or Ringworm clone. In fact it's only by default and a lack of a better genre descriptor I'd even call their music metallic hardcore as these guys (and gal) have done what precious few bands ever do, which is to perfectly meld punk and hardcore aggression and simplicity with the complexity and higher level of musicianship of such diverse bands as Slayer, Converge and Ministry (minus the industrial parts).

This is the band's sophmore release, follwing their self titled debut from 08, which blew me away a couple of months ago. On Maelstrom they've sharpened their collective tools a bit and brought out an immense heaviness that wasn't quite as apparent on the debut ep. Still present but slightly less obvious than before are the touches of melody the band manages to pour into the gaps and cracks of the songs, fleshing them out without bloating them. Production-wise this is top-of-the-line shit. I wouldn't change a thing. Everything is exactly where it should be in the mix. There's enough density and warmth to add to the heaviness of the songs but still with a sense of space and clarity. This is definately one of the best hardcore/metal releases so far this year.

fredag 17 juni 2011

Humanity Is The Devil

Withdrawal - Faith, Flesh & Blood
2011, A389 Recordings

Withdrawal makes writing good music seem easy. They pull it off so effortlessly and painlessly it seems like second nature to these guys to hammer out anthem after anthem of massive and emotional metallic hardcore. I've been eagerly awaiting this ep for a what seems like quite some time now, though it's probably only been a few weeks since I first heard of its impending release. I immediately fell in love with the music of these Canadians after hearing their Unknown Misery ep and I just couldn't wait to get my hands on more material by them. Because of the truly magnificent song writing the band so consistently displays and the sheer force of their metal-infused hardcore, Withdrawal (in my mind at least) stand way above the brunt of their contemporary peers in this particular genre.

Their last ep was one of the best examples I have ever heard of the modern style of hardcore that blends different flavours of metal with traditional punk/hardcore structures, bringing to mind such classic acts as Integrity, Lash Out and Rorschach and the like. But, what Withdrawal does, is to take that particular style of hardcore and make it their own, bringing their own set of inluences into the mix.

This last effort is no different. On FF&B they clearly continue on the path set upon on Unknown Misery: the melodies are there, but slightly more up front and apparent, the dry machine gun-like Slayer-ish riffing more solidly integrated into the songs, supported by short vicious solo licks and great, heavy, midpaced drumming, solidly placed into the heart of the song structures and the vocal lines always a bit more metal than hardcore: I keep thinking Swedish old school d-beat influenced death metal for some reason.

The production here is several notches above that of their previous release; it's way heavier and much clearer, as well as having a distinct feeling of cohesiveness, where all the elements meld together into something much more solid. I can't say enough good things about this release; I only wish it could have been a tad longer, because what these four tracks do is only to whet my appetite for more. Maybe it's time to consider writing a proper full length release, guys. Oh and I really enjoyed that awesome nod to Tragedy's Conflicting Ideas in the drum intro to Blood Law.

tisdag 14 juni 2011

This is the pattern cut from the cloth / This is the pattern designed to take you right out

Touché Amore - Parting The Sea Between Brightness and Me
2011, Deathwish Inc.

Since I'd never really properly sat down to actively listen to an album by Touché Amore (as opposed to just idly letting it play on in the background), I only really had the vaguest of ideas what to expect. I knew words like 'post-punk', 'screamo', 'emocore' and such had been tossed around in various configurations in online blurbs and reveiws that I'd scanned quickly, but more often than not it's really difficult to get a proper grasp on what a band sounds like from those kinds of descriptors, if not downright impossible. The tracks I'd heard previously had left no lasting impression in my long term memory, so I basically had no clue to what was going to erupt from my speakers as I hit the play button.

What did erupt, starting with the enigmatically titled ~, was something both intensely melodic and emotional and yet raging and furious and untamed. With elements of aggression and intensity taken from hardcore/punk and the melodic and more complexely structured elements from emo, Touché Amore's music is an extremely diverse affair. I find myself drawing comparisons to such different bands as Converge, Quicksand, Dag Nasty and Fugazi. There are tons of stuff going on all the time; little melodies weaving in and out of the mix, quick tempo shifts and short breaks, sometimes with a slight dissonance, but almost always melodic. The clean crisp guitar tone works pefectly with the material; any more distortion and a lot of the subtle nuances in the songs would be lost. In fact, there's so much going on in these songs that it would be a difficult task to stay focused for any length of time if it weren't for the bands stellar song writing and the the unique style of the band's vocalist, whose mix of screaming, singing and speaking, sort of all at the same time, really give the songs an added sense of urgency and emotion.

Another amazing thing about this records is the fact that only one of the thirteen songs pass the two minute mark and still the band manages to cram the songs full of shifts and breaks and melodies and somehow not make them feel 'mathy' or chaotic. I'm fairly new to this particular style of screamo, post-hardcore or whatever kind of pigeonhole you wanto to put Touché Amore in, but this album has really opened my eyes to the genre and I feel that I definately have to go back and check out the band's earlier work more thouroughly. This is awesome stuff. Chalk up another great release from Deathwish Inc.


Opening track ~, or Tilde, below:

lördag 11 juni 2011

Splitsville pt 1: Shock and awe

Converge/Dropdead - Split
2011, Self released, distributed by Deathwish

I've always been a fan of the split single concept, where two bands share the running time on a record, almost as if in a duel. Preferably a seven inch vinyl single (yes, I have a thing for vinyl eps). When it works, as it does in this case, it is, by far, my favourite format, because there are none of the drawbacks of a full length release. The two bands ensure that there is no risk of boredom if they're stylistically well matched: not too similar but equally not too disimilar. The brief running time equally ensures there will be no risk of shit dragging on indefinately. It also ensures that the bands are at their very best and that their material is top notch. This little gem is short but fairly intense. It features one track from Converge and Dropdead respectively. The sound quality is excellent on both tracks, even if I've yet only listened to the songs in their digital form; distinct and warm but with a slight dirtiness. The Dropdead track is slightly less heavy on the bass end of things and a bit more metallic but that's only natural considering the style they play. Converge opens up with the utterly raging, yet still emotional, Runaway, sticking to the weirdly catchy but aggressive note they struck on Axe To Fall with tracks like Dark Horse and the title track. Choppy, fast-paced and with that bouncy structure that's almost danceable, with added bursts of blast beats and violently shrieked vocals. As I said, it's catchy in an odd Converge way: there are lots of twists and turns in the song, from blasts of speed to short choppy breaks to midtempo rages and with hints of searing discordant melodies deep in the mix. But the song never gets uninspired or unstructured. It's only two minutes long, but it's definately one of the better songs I've heard from the band.
Dropdeads track, Paths Of Glory, rips right through you in just over ninety seconds but it does so with an amazing feel for fast hardcore punk with a bit of eighties sensibility. There is not even a hint of power violence or fastcore on this track; instead they get a more traditional hardcorepunk vibe going, which probably works better in this context. There is more than enough aggression going on to balance the hints of melody buried underneath. I get a distinctly anthemic World Burns To Death feel from this track, which is no bad thing. All in all a very wonderful little record.

söndag 29 maj 2011

Combat boots and a scratched up record

Black God - Black God
2011, No Idea Records

Fuck, this is an amazing record! Six tracks in slightly less than twelve minutes and not one single second feels redundant. What we're served here is refreshingly simple, yet somewhat dark semi-melodic punk, with a bit of an indie rock-feel (in a really good way). This shit is what punk rock is all about in my opinion; played just the way it was intended. With loads of attitude and emotion. And always with a nod to the bands that came before and paved the way. I'm completely blown away by the abundant and instantly memorable riffs on this record and the angry jangliness of the guitar tone. This coupled with the snotty, half sung, half yelled vocals and the catchiness of the same make these short tracks some of the best punk rock I've heard in recent months, possibly years. I fucking love the noisy, slightly 'surfy' guitar parts that remind me of both The Jesus Lizard and Dead Kennedys, and the fact that almost all the choruses are ridiculously catchy. Black God features folk from Coliseum and Black Cross, among others, so there's a ton of talent involved in the band. I'm thouroughly impressed. Listen to opening track, Fundamental Headwalker, below.

lördag 28 maj 2011

Maktens murar rasar

Livet Som Insats - Livet Som Insats
2011, Grindcore Karaoke

Livet Som Insats plays a style of grindcore that is oddly catchy. They integrate death metal elements into a melodic blend of grindcore and d-beat aggression and they do this really fucking well. They are a musical meld of all the best aspects of bands like Nasum, Entombed, Sayyadina and Skitsystem, but without ever sounding forced. These six tracks are over in a flash, seven minutes or so, but the range they display is impressive. I know next to nothing of the band, but after listening to this for more than seven times in a row, I definately wanna know and hear alot more. I really love how the melodies melt into the tremolo parts and how they so fluidly morph into the bouncy metallic d-beat styled riffs. Everything is rock solid here: the production (which brings to mind all previously mentioned bands), the drumming which is fluid but very energetic, the song writing, the perfectly audible but slightly distorted bass, the massive guitars and the really dynamic vocals..all of it is spotless. What impresses me even more is how all of this seems to be done so effortlessly. I expect great things from this act.

For those not familiar with netlabel Grindcore Karaoke, it is the brainchild of Agoraphobic Nosebleed vocalist, Jay Randall. All their releases are free to download and you should most definately check it out if you're into any kind of extreme music.

söndag 22 maj 2011

Weapon of Mosh Destruction

Pulling Teeth - Funerary
2011, A389 Recordings

As I sat down to listen to this album for the first time, I did so with slight trepidation and a vague uneasiness. It had the promise of becoming a strangely disapointing and yet somehow filling experience.

Let me explain.

I have always liked Pulling Teeth's blend of musical styles and admired the cathchy ruggedness of their songwriting; the way they pull it off without sounding forced or contrived. I've also always liked the way their albums sound, the way they're produced, how you can always hear all the individual instruments in the mix. My main problem with the band is the fact that they've never really hooked me. Like I said, their songwriting is rock solid. I just never really got into them. Which is weird, because all the necessary elements are there. The grindcore-like blasts, the classic doom heaviness, the black metal tremolo picking, the HUGE metallic hardcore-foundation, the almost equally huge old school hardcore base, the Slayer-ish riffing.

But. They just don't gel for me.

Or rather, they didn't use to gel for me. We'll get to that in a bit.

So, this was why I was hesitant to listen to the album even though I knew I would probably like it, if only in theory, rather than in practice. Or would appreciate it's various constituent parts if not their sum.

With the band's fourth and latest full length release, Funerary, something's happened. All of a sudden it clicked. Everything fell into place. Just like that. And still all those same elements are there, more or less in the same way they were before, being handled in the same way as before. But now they work for me.

The album consists of twelve songs running around 48 minutes and it's been slaying me all this past week. It starts off with an odd little shimmering melodic guitar and organ (?) intro, that circles into a vicious bristling black metal/hardcore blitz on From Birth, replete with Morbid Angel-esque tremolo picking, black metal blast beats, abundant hardcore energy, short twisted guitar solos and Mike's snarling punkish vocal attacks, unloading pure venom: "You're fucked, from birth, just left to rot and die". The following two tracks basically follow the lead of From Birth, dealing out thunderously fast and heavy metallic hardcore with loads of breakdowns and tempo changes and super memorable riffing (and at least one guest appearance on vocals). These two tracks give way to the metal-heavy The New Dark Ages, which offers up a ton of shifts in tempos and riffing styles. We're thrown from plodding Melvins-inspired chugging doom-riffs to black metal tremolo melodies underscored by smattering doubled bass drums to short furious blast beats and then back again. A couple of stand-out tracks in the latter part of this already stand-out album are the epic title track which is simply one of the better doom metal songs I've heard in years and next-to-last track, Waiting, which features an amazing chorus with great clean vocals.

The rest of the album is equally dynamic in scope and range and covers all the angles of Pulling Teeth's particular style. But this time they do it, somehow, better. Or perhaps it's just a matter of my musical taste developing and evolving, because now that I revistit the band's earlier recordings, particularly Vicious Skin and Paranoid Delusuions, I find myself getting hooked almost as easily as I was by Funerary. Time, in other words to revisit the band's entire back catalogue and give them another well deserved try.

tisdag 17 maj 2011

Screaming skulls sent out to die

Withdrawal - Unknown Misery
2009, Wendigo

This canadian piece of seven inch hardcore gold isn't exactly brand new. In fact it was released back in 09 on Wendigo Records, a label I know next to nothing about, but the music imprinted in its grooves it is so astoundingly good I find it impossible to not write about it. Withdrawal plays fast, aggressive metallic hardcore, closely related in style and content to that old holy terror hardcore style, made famous by bands such as Integrity and Rindgworm and more recently Rot In Hell. The band rages through five tracks in just under twelve minutes and in that short time they manage to mix things up really well. They seamlessly integrate the metallic parts into the hardcore ones that one never really notices any change in style. Awesome bass runs and perfect guitar work make up the basis for the songs, which range from fast hardcore/metal to slow double bass-drum rumbling slayer-esque metal. In fact alot of the riffing and structural style on these songs remind me alot of Slayer, especially the title track which oozes Slayer circa South Of Heaven. Sporadic melodic parts and nice little shifts break up the otherwise unrelenting tempo and lets the songs breathe abit. I can't stress enough how fucking amazing this record is. If you're into shredding metallic hardcore or hybridized thrash metal this should be just right up your alley. I'm really looking forward to their upcoming Faith, Flesh & Blood EP on A389 Recordings soon.


Oathbreaker - Oathbreaker
2008, Deathwish

According to the sparse info I've found on the www.internet.web, Belgian hardcore outfit Oathbreaker rose from the ashes of band called No Recess and quickly signed on with Deathwish Records, who released this gem back 2008. Presented on this self-titled EP are five grooveladen tracks of fast and heavy hardcore with a big dose of melody and metal infused into it's pulsating heart. Two things quickly stand out when you listen to this records. First: the craftmanship of the songs themselves; the fluidity of the tracks, the inventive riffing and the abundant melody. Second: the vicious vocals of female singer Caro. She perfectly counterbalances the masculinity of the songs with her raspy, not-quite-high-pitched voice. Another thing that surprises me is that of the five songs, two of them are in fact instrumentals (well, I guess opener Mindless could be counted as an intro), and they are simply amazing. I love how the band manages to infuse melody into the songs to the degree that they do without ever losing sight of the aggression and brutality on which the songs depend. At times I get quite a heavy Integrity-vibe off some of the songs, especially the chugging midtempo-rager Downfall. Productionwise this is close to perfect. All the instrumentation is clearly audible and the vocals aren't buried too deep in the mix and aren't too much in your face either. I definately want to hear more from the guys and girl.

söndag 8 maj 2011

10.000 lawyers dead on Robertson/Felt good to just kick back and look at'em/We were fucking laughing at them

Despise You/Agoraphobic Nosebleed - And On And On
2011, Relapse Records

Having been a long time fan of Agoraphobic Nosebleed and the band's particular, ever-evolving, brand of grindcore, I was immensely stoked to see the announcement of their brand new split with power violence old timers, Despise You.
Since I've never really familiarised myself with the latter I was shocked at how completely and utterly Despise You annihilate their partners on this album. Don't get me wrong, I love the AgNb tracks, which range from sludgy slow-as-fuck-moving deathrumbles to vicious grinding assaults, but they're completely overshadowed by the californian power violence act, who incidently may have recorded the most awesomest cover in all of christendom, with their version of punk-icons Fear's old school hit I Don't Care About You (this time titled Fear's Song and with updated lyrics).

This split album, released by Relapse Records, rips through 25 tracks in just over thirty minutes and the styles displayed by the bands work really well together, with Despise You maintaining a very solid hardcore punk snottiness all the way through the tracks and still managing to unleash short amazingly entertaining grinding power violence attacks weaving in and out of the songs; while Agoraphobic Nosebleed's machine-like cybergrind feels less organic, though no less entertaining. The band has forsaken (well, to some degree at least) the insanely short machine-drum grind explosions for which they've become famous, for a more structured, verse-chorus-verse-chorus-breakdown-verse-chorus sort of songwriting, which works surprisingly well for a band like AgNb. Vocally, this time around, they've opted for Jay Randall's raging, snarly vocal style, which in my opinion works better than Katherine Katz's kind of feline and less cohesive voice.

I can't stress enough how amazingly great this album is. I've been listening to it constantly since its release and I just can't seem to stop. This is for all power violence fans who remember the good old days of Slap A Ham Records and were amazed by bands like Infest, Spazz, Man Is The Bastard and Charles Bronson.

To listen to a couple of Despise You tracks off the album just click the banner below.