tisdag 24 januari 2012

Hardcore cluster bomb pt 5: Forfeit

Forfeit - The Lower Depths
2009, Reaper Records

This is an album that I've been spinning alot lately. It's the first full length of the band and an impressive one at that. These guys hail from Syracuse, New York and though their music is rooted in fast old school hardcore, they aren't afraid to embrace a heavier, mosh-inducing kind of hardcore as well, where chugging metallic breakdowns bring down the pace somewhat. This is one of the better hardcore albums I've heard in a while, especially in this particular style where we get a mix of Integrity-type metalcore and early Sick Of It All meets a somewhat slower Septic Death. Sort of. I know this album is a couple of years old now and I've been sitting on it for quite a while and never gotten around to reviewing it. I guess I kind of forgot about it, which is a shame because this shit rips. The music is aggressive and often utilize speed but they never drag on unnecessarily or go full on grind. There's something about Forfeit that makes me think of Judge and Burn. I just can't put my finger on it. Maybe it's the combination of the burly screamed vocals and the bass-heavy chugging breakdowns. These guys also seem to pay alot of attention to detail, because almost all of the songs are riddled with nifty little hooks, twists and turns and melodies and the odd burst of tasteful feedback. This, paired with a great knack for writing simple but effective metallic hardcore songs make The Lower Depth a really impressive first exposure for me. I'm not really sure if these guys are still active or not, but I definately hope so because I would really like to hear more them. Immensely recommended.

måndag 23 januari 2012

...we'll be there ready to thrash

Kill Life W/ Mike IX - D.E.A (Dead End American) 7'' Flexi
2011, A389

Yeah, it's a flexi, which means it's basically made for the vinyl nerds and asshole collectors. A bendy piece of pastic the width of a hair and with a magical ability to disappear for years and years, hidden behind bookshelves and underneath seldom moved rugs. Either way it's a nifty format that imposes the need for brevity and succinctness from whoever is on it. This disc only has one track, titled D.E.A, short for Dead End American, and it's my first aquaintance with the entity that is Kill Life, a band purported to feature members from Magrudergrind, Fucked Up, Crass and Integrity. I'm nowhere near certain who is actually on this record. The info that is available is scarce, vague and, probably, purposefully conflicting, but there seems to be at least a concensus that Dwid Hellion from Integrity is among its members. Here they pair up with Mike from EyeHateGod and Arson Anthem for one three minute track that starts off with a rather horrendous vocal rendition of Amazing Grace that slowly gets drowned in feedback and finally moves into a slow plodding heavy intro of sorts which erupts into full on hardcore about fifty seconds into the song. The song proper is only about a minute long with a definite 80s hardcore feel to it, with fast hooks and a ferocious pace. Think Negative Approach meets DRI with a snarly screaming vocal style, that sort of feels like it could be Mike but I could easily be wrong here. Since it's only one song it is by default very memorable, but it quickly degenerates into that Amazing Grace stuff it started with which kind of ruins the flow of the song. But I guess that was the intention, for some reason. I'm sort of torn here. On one hand the disc is two thirds pointless garbage (humor, I guess?) but the important third is pretty great so...I dunno.

Kill Life/33 - Split 7''
2011, All the way live records

Here Kill Life has paired up with brittish thugs 33 for a cool little split, where 33 kick things off with two short tracks of dirty, energetic slightly metallic hardcore with a really awesome dual vocal attack. There is a definte punk vibe to their style, as well as a bit of a power violence hue, that is only partly due to the riffing; it could be the stripped down recording as well as the way the vocals are sung/screamed. The first track, Dark Light is an awesome bouncy midpaced number with lots of cool hooks and twists and an almost screamo-ish touch at times. Parts of the song remind me of some of the wierder hardcore bands from the Alternative Tentacles roster, like Victims Family for instance. Next up is Coke Party, which is a 30 second rager that sounds like it could have been recorded by any number of the better late 80's crossover/hardcore acts, like DRI or their ilk. It's really cool and memorable but I prefer the style presented on the opener. On the flipside we have three really short tracks by Kill Life that blend into each other. First up is Humanity Jihad where Dwid Hellion barks over blast beats and a repeating riff, that eventually breaks down into a short sludgy chorus of sorts. All of it is over in about thirty seconds. Next up is A Change Is Gonna Come which also is a smoking fast track, but less blastbeat-y, with a great chorus that, unless my ears decieve me and I've deciphered them wrong, would have the Secret Service at your door in a heart beat if you wrote the lyrics out on the interwebs. This song is even shorter than the one before and it and it segues into Chimpanzee Eats Friend which has a 911 call of someone's friend getting attacked by a chimp, playing over a slow plodding jam. All in all a pretty damn awesome display of hardcore chops but I think they could do even better and they should've skipped the last track, cause all it does is ruin the flow of their side of this otherwise really decent split. I do think 33 has the more solid material here though and they don't throw in a lot of surplus bullshit that bogs down the music.

lördag 14 januari 2012

Fuck your punk rock #2: Vinyl violence

Hungry Lungs - ST 7''
2011, Halo Of Flies

Here we have three short tracks of fast but heavy metallic hardcore with lots of Slayer-like hooks and lots of rushing midpaced speeds. There are tons of nice little twists of melody thrown into the carnage that lends everything a great sense of dynamic while the vocals are not so much driving the songs as they are just another instrument necessary to the mix. It almost feels like the vocals are secondary and that's not a bad thing actually because the music in itself is more than enough here. There's a crustiness going on here as well as that metallic thing. It's not unique in any way but it's very well done and the songs are all well-crafted and instantly memorable, my favourite being opener Koerperjuenger. I know next to nothing about these guys, but I do hope they keep this shit up because this is some stellar hardcore right here. Buy.

Long Pigs - ST 7''
2011, SMRT

Long Pigs are like some throwback to the early days of hardcore where everything was yet to be codified and noone really adhered to any specific idea of what hardcore meant or how it should sound, other than being noisy and really aggressive. These six tracks remind me so much of the eighties it's ridiculous, and I mean this in a really good way. There's a snottiness here that's rare these days and a feedback-addledness pervading everything that makes the music even dirtier than it already is. Long Pigs have that restless Damaged-era Black Flag feel to them where they do a lot of starts and stops with tons of winding, twisting, dissonant Greg Ginn-like guitar riffs and melodies. They also employ a fair amount of speed which makes me think of bands like early Government Issue, MDC, Bad Brains and early C.O.C. Vocally this is pure fucking snotty attitude and it fits the music so well. The recording is ok, it suits the style; it's sort of boxy in parts and with a sloppy feel to it, but music like this is'nt really supposed to sound particularly good any way. This could easily have been recorded 1983, which makes it ace in my opinion. Looking forward to hearing more from these guys. Buy.

Skin Like Iron + Nails- Split 7''
2012, Self-released

Skin Like Iron blaze through side A with two tracks of melodic yet abrasive hardcore with a slight dissonant edge. Their material is heavy and sharp yet hard to define as either this or that strain of hardcore. It isn't very metallic in nature and not really old school either. There's a definite 80's punk feel to the melodies that I really dig, while the brunt of the music feels like it owes more to the nineties than anything else. The vocals are strained harsh middle register yellings that leans towards the crusty side of things, which gives everything a slightly dirty feel. This isn't really my cup of tea ordinarily but these two tracks are really well done and they're memorable and distinctly different from each other so I've been enjoying them immenesely nonetheless. Since this is my first exposure to Skin Like Iron I didn't really know what to expect and I must say that I'm pleasantly surprised. I definately need to check these guys out further. Next up is Nails with two blistering, short tracks and, as expected, they totally destroy. They're exactly what I was hoping for, and more. This is almost the exact opposite of the music of their counterparts on this ep. This is brutal, devastating hardcore with huge doses of grindcore and old school death metal mixed in.There are no melodies here. At all. The song Annihilation is precisely that, annihilaton; an utterly devastating, rumbling midpaced metal/hardcore amalgamation, with an awesome sing-along chorus to boot. There's a definite Entombed vibe going on here that I love. Closing track Cry Wolf, clocking in at only 24 seconds, is the perfect end to this ep; a completely savage inferno of grinding speeds and shrieked vocals that doesn't let up for even a nanosecond. This is an ep that's been released by the bands themselves and I urge you to get it from, among other places, here.

tisdag 10 januari 2012

Incineration prayer: Here come the bastards

Bastard Noise - Rogue Astronaut
2009, Gravity

Bastard Noise - Skulldozer
2011, Deep Six

Bastard Noise - A Culture Of Monsters
2010, Deep Six

And continuing on the topic of power violence and its' progenitors Man Is The Bastard and it's later incarnation, Bastard Noise, here we have three of the bands latest avalanches of earth shattering rumling sludge noise. Even though Bastard Noise are far from as productive as some of their noise/power electronics peers (Merzbow or Government Alpha anyone?), their discography is, none the less, still fucking impressive. They've released scores of cds and cdrs as well as tons of vinyls and ball sacs full of splits and, while the quality of their output has been, if not consistently stellar, then at least it's almost always been, way above most of what everybody else has been doing. And one of the reasons I like them so much myself and still listen to their music (while rarely listening to any other noise artist at all these days) is the fact that they rarely go full on harsh noise on your ass, but rather work with a whole range of sounds and styles and intensities that never gets dull or overly tedious. These past few years the band seems to have moved away somewhat from the pure noise/electronics driven style and, at least partly, gone back to the more power violence-oriented beginnings of Man Is The Bastard, which is a stylistic regression I really like. So, the game here is fizzing, rumbling, raging, spacious (at times almost progressive) power violence interwoven with lots of noise elements and violent eruptions as well as quieter interludes, many of them ambient in character and always very well crafted, with close attention to detail. Don't expect any kind of traditional song writing here. If you do, you've obviously never heard Bastard Noise. The vocals have always been secondary to the music, even though they have moved a bit more up front on these last recordings, driving some of the songs in a more straight forward manner, while before they were almost incidental. There is an odd beauty to many of the more ambient tracks, almost orchestral in a way, while retaining an almost cinematic sense of dread and lurking danger. The running time of the tracks range from just over a minute to around fifteen and everything from the Bastard menu is represented here, from raging grindcore and monolithic, heavy sludge to piercing bursts of feedback mixed with electronic whirs and pulsating analogue synths. All three albums come highly recommended if you're into this sort of thing. And even if you're not, it never hurts to broaden your horizons, does it? Buy here and here.

söndag 8 januari 2012

Disciples of The Skulldozer: Full Of Hell

Full Of Hell - Roots of The Earth Are Consuming My Home
2011, A389

In true power violence-style Full Of Hell's debut full length, Roots of The Earth Are Consuming My Home, kicks off with a short feedback-laden noise burst before it erupts into full fledged metallic hadcore insanity. Openers Pile Of Dead Horses and Endless Drone are in many ways indicative of the bands musical formula throughout the entire album, where maniacal speed is mixed with devastatingly heavy sludge sections. Not that mixing d-beat harcore with metallic riffs and heavy breakdowns, interspersed by ferocious grinding blast beats any way is a unique concept these days, but having honed their skills over their previous releases FOH seems to have learned that brevity, as well as the fact that one great riff is better than ten weak ones, is key to writing great songs in this style. In essence what is boils down to is this: if you can write an amazing song like Rat King, that sates your hunger for heavy as fuck, feedback-screeching, sludge as well as raging hardcore and you manage to do it in under three minutes, then, let's just say you know what the hell you're doing. Which is really astonishing when you consider the fact that some of these guys are barely out of their teens yet. What sets apart this album even further from the rest of FOH's peers is the inclusion of the awesome Bastard Noise-esque noise/power electronics interlude White Mare, that break up the pace of the album in a very effective way. I also dig the way they throw in the almost interlude-ish track The Oars Are Broken where everything is taken down a notch: where the bass does a slow ominous shuffle underneath sprinkled swirls of feedback before exploding into the closing track. This reminds me of something Dead Kennedys did on Moral Majority and a few other tracks. Simply brilliant. The recording here is heavy and crisp without sounding brittle or muddy, which is often the case with this style that centers equally on heaviness and speed, while the song writing is close to fucking perfection. I can hear loads of influences at work here, from d-beat hardcore and breakdown-heavy NYHC to Infest-like power violence, sludge and grind, but they're all interwoven in a way that makes it into something much more unfied and much stronger, mainly due to the stellar song writing. This is one of the very best albums to be released 2011, no doubt in my mind. Buy.

fredag 6 januari 2012

Where the slime lived: 2011 in the rearview mirror

To kick off this (if the tinfoil hat-wearing crowd are to be believed), the final year of the world as we know it, before momentous cataclysms annihilate the earth, I'm re-introducing the short-but-sweet style reviews I used to do at RBS. This is partly to make sure I actually get to review the bands I like and am excited about while it's all fresh in my mind as well as an attempt at making a dent in the towering backlog of shit I promised myself I'd do but never got around to. It also serves to toss a few reviews your way of some of 2011's most stand out releases. So, in the immortal words of Malcolm Tucker: "Come the fuck in, or fuck the fuck off!" Here's the first batch of reviews.

Bädr Vogu - Exitium
2011, Memento Mori

This Oakland quintet released one of the best sludge/doom/heavy fucking metal albums of 2011. This is probably the album that most impacted on my musical tastes last year, because it made me want to check out more of the same. This is all about thunderous, shuddering basslines rumbling beneath a ton of gritty, vicious guitars, driven by simple effective drumming, with a vocal mixture of deep growls and midrange screams. Even in the midst of all the carnage of these seven songs there is always room for melody and also a sense of direction and flow which keeps everything moving and never becoming dull of repetitive. I keep thinking of Eye For An Eye/Animosity-era Corrosion Of Conformity when I hear Exitium, partly because they share the same love for Sabbathy grooves and riffs but also because they have that same open recording style where everything seems to be hanging very loosely together, leaving lots of room for every instrument to breathe. Like a pair of really baggy pants. This is some truly excellent shit everybody into haarp, EyeHateGod, Nootgrush etc should checkout. Like right fucking now. Buy.

Hexis - XI

Hexis are an exciting new Danish hardcore act that seemed to come out of fucking nowhere like a spinning back-fist, last year. Their music, much like that fist, hits like a sledge hammer to the head, because it is not only heavy as hell but it is also confusing as hell. This is black metal fuelled hardcore with influnces from everything from screamo to sludge to post-metal/hardcore/whatever. Everyone of these seven, mostly fairly short, tracks are densely packed with feedback, chaotic tremolo picking and intense speeds, many times interspersed with slower, sludgier sections that break the pace a bit. Expect to be completely thrown off balance here. There is not even a trace of traditional song structure to be found in these songs, which is awesome. Like I said this is a blend of all sorts of metal/hardcore styles and it is definately unorthodox and challenging, but never, even for a second, dull. Go Denmark! Buy.

Fuck The Facts - Die Miserably
2011, Relapse

Canadian grind shredders Fuck The Facts have, with Disgorge Mexico and Stigmata High-Five, recorded some of the best grindcore albums of all time, but with their latest release, Die Miserably, they've in my opinion released one of the top ten metal albums of the past decade, or more. I may be overstating the case slightly but I think this is as diverse and as important an album to the genre as a whole as Brutal Truth's Need To Control was in 1994. This is monumetal stuff that has recieved nowhere near the attention it deserves. And as much as I love Brutal Truth, Noisear and Gridlink, those guys are completely blown out of the water by FTF. Die Miserably is not only a collection of songs but has a clear sense of cohesion and vision. Everything fits perfectly together, like precision-made machine parts, into something much grander than the sum total of the songs themselves. I could rave on and on about the fucking stellar writing on Die Miserably; how I'm still, after listening to the abum scores of times, amazed by the incredibly memorable riffs and brilliant twists and turns of the tracks; how the band beautifully infuses melody into the album without ever dropping the ball; how they blend loads of different styles into the music that somehow never clashes with the core element of their craft. Instead I'll just urge you: even if you're not really into grindcore, do yourself a favour and check this album out. It is pure excellence in all its parts as well as in its totality. I got the Deluxe version of the album in digital form off iTunes, which has eleven bonus tracks. There are a bunch of versions as well at their bandcamp site: Buy for fuck's sake!