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.

torsdag 5 maj 2011

Harder They Fall

Hessian - Hessian
2011, Smoke And Dust

Belgian newcomers Hessian don't fuck about. They play hardcore-infused metal with a solid sense of dynamics and a really great song writing ability. These five short songs manage to hold your attention, even though they are rife with influences and manic nods to such diverse bands as Hatebreed, Trap Them, Converge, Entombed, Nomeansno and Black Flag. One would think it would get messy and a bit too frantic but due to their superb ability to write great songs it never gets muddled or unstructured. The music leans heavily towards the metal end of the spectrum with focus on aggression and crushing rythms. There are tons of short hooks and twists in the songs, but they never get in the way of the flow of them. Another huge plus is their vocalist, whose awesome aggressive tone never gets cookie monster-growly or shrieky, just old school hardcore shouting with a bit of a raspy edge to it. Hessian is definately a band worth checking out if you're into the heavier side of hardcore.

Integrity - Thee DestroyORR
2011, Holy Terror Records

Here we have the latest release from legendary hardcore kings Integrity, who these days have a different setup personel-wise than in their heyday. Still, they are clearly recognizeable as the same band, with their heavy metallic hardcore and occult-ish imagery. After last years amazing The Blackest Curse, Thee DestroyORR feels a bit like a step, if not back, then at least sideways, both production wise and in the sense that the material on the album isn't as strong as on TBC. Of the ten or so songs (not counting the 30 minute interview track) only a handful strike me as being of the standard I'm used to hearing from Integrity. At least half of these, in turn, have been previously released as EPs. Don't get me wrong, none of the other songs are bad. Quite the opposite. They just aren't of the same quality as We Are The End/Beneath Black Flames We Ride or Love Is The Only Weapon/Let The Night Roar. Soundwise, the production feels uneven and a tad muddy (and still somehow brittle) and I get the impression the songs were recorded in different session. A bit of a letdown even though the album is above par for the genre. It just isn't as great as Integrity can be.