måndag 23 april 2012

Fuck your punk rock #4: The Greenery

The Greenery - Spit & Argue
2011, Prosthetic Records

This review has been in the works for quite some time now. I've been meaning to do this for ages, but for  various reasons it never happened. Until now. The Greenery is a band from Long Beach and they released this puppy last year on Prosthetic Records, and it is chock full of tight, aggressive, yet melodic metallic hardcore with loads of heavy breakdowns and galloping frenetic speeds. Their music is rooted mainly in early nineties hardcore with lots of heavy, chugging metal style ríffs and a vaguely crossover-y feel - like a slightly slowed-down DRI or a less thrashy Crumbsuckers. There's lots of dynamic, melodic guitar work going on, that, alongside an almost constantly changing pace, brings a sense of constant forward momentum to these songs. The band avoids the common trap of making shit overly complicated and instead gives the music a sense of direction, enough complexity to keep it interesting and a sense of urgency without losing the listener along the way. The Greenery aren't breaking any new ground on this release, but it's fucking tight and solid and the songs are infectious and fun, and their vocalist has a really cool raspy midrange snarl that remind me a bit of Keith Buckley from Every Time I Die. I also dig the - admittedly few - power violence vocal trade-offs in some of the songs. I'm a sucker for shit like that. For fans of Minor Threat, Every Time I Die, The Bronx, Youth Of Today etc. this should be a nice fit.

söndag 22 april 2012

The best of 2011 in the rearview mirror: Unrest - S/T

Unrest - ST
2011, Rising Riot Records

Unrest's self titled ep was, in my opinion, one of the better crustcore records to be released last year. Coming out of Münster, Germany, these guys play crusty, melodic hardcore , a la Tragedy, with a big  infusion of metal. This isn't groundbreaking in any way, but it is earth shatteringly good and bleak as hell and the guys do inject a bit of a death metal vibe into some of these songs which gives them an even heavier metallic slant as well as some really messy, but cool blast beats. The ep, consisting of four tracks, varying from shy of two minutes to almost five, was released on Rising Riot Records, who graciously has offered this release as a free download here. I do urge you to pick up a copy of this though. What else if there to say? This is a stellar hardcore record with a great sense of melody and aggression, done by five guys who know how to write really great cohesive songs. And it's free. Go, stupid!

onsdag 18 april 2012

Bedtime For Democracy: Pick Your Side

Pick Your Side - Let Me Show You How Democracy Works LP
2012, A389

Boasting a lineup of people from old school heavies Haymaker and grinders Fuck The Facts, these Canadians deliver one of the better old school hardcore albums so far this year. It's old school hardcore with a twist, though. The pedigree of it's membes shines through so there's a ton of grind elements and lots of solid melodic crust thrown into the mix, but there's very little metal here, except for some scatterings of chugging heavy riffage in some of the crushingly heavy breakdowns. We get something akin to a mix of Tragedy, Haymaker and Sick Of It All, with a bit of a power violence vibe going, adding some sporadic but furious blast beats here and there. All the songs are short and quick (except for the dirgy doomy crust-killer Ham Sandwhich, which is by far the longest song on the album) and display lots of dynamics for such a musically limited style as hardcore; with lots and lots of tempo shifts and loads of starts and stops and spectacularly memorable riffs. The obvious talent of everyone involved is easily one of the best assets of PYS; with that amount of talent and experience in the game, the songs become much more fluid and have a natural progression that makes them both complex and memorable. Lyrically this is raging, political old school hardcore dealing with issues like global warming, the monetary system, religion et cetera. Jeff Beckman's raspy, barbwire voice lends everything a sense of urgency and rage, while the general tone of the songs isn't quite as depressive as one would expect. The production may be a bit on the rough side and a little bit muddy, but this isn't necessarily a problem, since it serves to capture the energy and rage of these songs alot more effectively than a slick production ever could. This is the band's first full length, but their equally awesome debut seven incher is still available.

lördag 14 april 2012

Misanthropic Agenda: Harassor - Hater Of Man

Harassor - Hater Of Man CS
2012, Husk

After their 2011 selftitled debut lp, Harassor return with their primitive take on black metal with a limited cassette release  on Husk Records. Comprising of three dudes with an inordinate amount of dislike for humanity, Harassor play a style of old school black metal that incorporates lots of influences from the mid to late 80's; from raging thrash tempos and simplistic death metal riffing, a la Hellhammer, to crushingly heavy doom metal. There's a bit of a sloppy punk vibe going on at times, bringing to mind acts like Bone Awl, but these guys write way better songs. But the main focus here is simplicity. There are no solos, no over-complicated song structures, no unending jerk-off intros or excess song lengths. Of the eight songs merely three move beyond the three minute mark and only on the epic closing track The End Of Your World are we treated to some lengthy droney doom jams that run just over eleven minutes - but none of these songs feel long. We get fast, heavy and to the point, hateful blackened death/thrash, with lots of unexpected melody and dynamics yet with no pretentions of virtuosity. Not that these guys are horrible musicians or anything, but they just don't give a damn about anything other than writing great, blistering songs full of images of death, hate and pestilence. The production is raw and lacks some low end but it's almost become what's expected of raw retro-ish black metal. These recordings are from 2006 and I'm guessing the band has progressed somewhat since then, both musicallly and technically so it'd be cool to hear something more recent from them. Free stuff available at their bandcamp site here.

måndag 9 april 2012

Single Bullshit Theory

Countdown To Oblivion - CTO Discography 12''
2012, A389

Countdown To Oblivion was a fairly short lived hardcore project (1998-2000), consisting of folks from all over the Canadian hardcore and metal scenes. A supergroup of sorts, where the musical influences were as diverse as the band members' past and contemporary bands; members had previously been in or were still in bands like The Swarm, Anti-Flag, Holocron, Rammer, One Blood etc. CTO only released a handful of EPs and splits during it's brief lifetime, and then, after a single proper tour and a few local gigs, decided to call it quits. Now, thanks to Dom at A389 Recordings, the band's musical legacy has been compiled and released in this impressive discography, chock full of band art, photos, flyers, liner notes and lyrics. The layout is fucking sweet and I love the liner notes by Chris Colohan, that manages to be both comprehensive and funny and yet concisely convey the tale of CTO's rise and demise.

Consisting of six members, including Chris and co-vocalist Stephe Perry on dual vocal duty (often using a call-and-response sort of style) CTO was a melting pot of musical styles. Being a fan of both Cursed and Burning Love (Chris' previous and current bands), I had an incling I would probably like this album alot and, having listened to it a dozen times or so by now, I do - but this is definately not the album I was expecting. There is almost none of that rocked out, chaotic thrash of Cursed going on, nor any of the less intensely rabid, melodic hardcore/punkrock of Burning Love. Neither is this your typical old school hardcore unit, where d-beat velocity and simple riffs create the main bulk of the songs. This is instead alot more metal than one would expect. The riffs are a mix of pure thrash metal - often mimicking Slayer or downright stealing from them - lots of melodic black metal tremolo picking, the odd twisting, discordant screamo riff/melody and - to a lesser extent - some more traditional hardcore riffing, with simple but effective chord progressions.

Most of the songs are relatively fast, but rarely is this the main driving point of any song. There is an absolutely stellar - and, to me, totally unexpected - dynamic to CTO's music, where mid-to-high paced rythms, driven by thrash riffs and black metal melodies, break down into slower but equally intense parts, with tons of brief stops and starts in between and short chaotic bursts of extreme speed (theres almost a kind of power violence vibe going on at times). Add to this some angry, darkly funny and politically caustic lyrics ("What do we do when the cause of the week nolonger fits on a patch?" and "Quick, fetch me my soapbox, I feel a revolution coming on!" are typical of the septically ironic style of the band) and the intense and highly structured dual vocals, where the two intermingling voices call and respond to each other and/or join and reinforce each other and you have a unique kind of metallic hardcore that's as furious and dark as it is tongue-in-cheek entertaining and dynamic.

There are some slightly annoying drops in volume on some of the earlier songs, off the band's Death Rattle demo, but it itsn't enough to mar the listening experience. The production is otherwise decent, with lots of heavy low end and an open, clearly audible midrange. This is one of the better hardcore releases so far this year and A389 is maintaning an impressive consistency in releasing killer records by new (and, as in this case, old) bands.

söndag 1 april 2012

A steady diet of Dischord: Black God - II

Black God - II
2012, No Idea Records

The guys in Black God are back with their second ep, simply titled II, and this time their sound has been scaled down somewhat. It's not so much a reduction as it is a refinement. There is still alot of that scathing punkrock vibe from the first ep going on but also a tad more clearcut posthardcore vibe to the material. Seeing as the band has members from Coliseum, Endpoint and Young Widows and that most of them were together in Black Cross, it's not so hard to understand the progression. These guys are some of the biggest swinging dicks in the genre and they can write infectious and melodic, yet aggressive, punkrock in their sleep and here they do it really, really well. The music of the band is rooted less in 80's hardcore and more in the later 90's era where artists were broadening their musical pallettes and it's easy to see the influences of bands like Fugazi and Dag Nasty. There's a cool Rites Of Spring feel to many of these songs, which are all catchy as hell and also alot of llittle things that remind me of Down By Law. But there's also a frantic, really primal Black Flag-ish kind of riffing style utilized in the majority of these short songs, that's as brutal as it is simplistic and keeps everything from becoming too emo for it's own good. The production is a bit drier than on it's predecessor and the guitars not as jangly as before and while I'd prefer a rougher, more jagged-edged, sound it never really hampers the music. There's nothing new per se going on here, just great punkrock with lots of heart and lots of drive. This is one of the better eps to be released so far this year. You can stream both of the band's records at their bandcamp site here.