The inimitable Church Of Fuck Records wanders ever further into the depths with their latest release, a new EP from one man black metal sorcerer Caïna. Containing unreleased material recorded over the last few years and also one brand new offering, Earth Inferno marks the end of a resurgent year for A. Curtis-Brignell (the man behind the noise) and paves the way for his upcoming LP next year. Now, all pleasantries dispensed with; down to the nub; this EP is a nightmare.
In the best possible way, of course. And in the way that fans of soul scourging despair will positively lap up.
Earth Inferno, owing to the fact that it's a compilation of sorts, has an enticing array of black metal flavours running throughout. showcasing the diversity of Caïna and the aptitude to which he can belt out songs laced with sadness, hatred and misery like no-ones business. Second wave Norwegian is the first obvious touchpoint; songs have a lo-fi, fine, feathery quality to them, not lacking in malice or venom, but with the sensation of a slowly suffocating fog invading your lungs as opposed to all out war. There's a pensive mood throughout as even the most vitriolic of tracks have moments of pause and reflection as Brignell balances the unsettling nuances of post-black metal with the decaying aural rot of the genres originators. It's not all deep feels though, as an exception to this rule is the unrepentant 'Mancun' which goes all out and laces in a buzzing electronic backdrop behind razorwire guitars and Brignell's dry, rasping, spluttering vocals for maximum discomfort.
It's 'Teeth Eating Teeth', the EP's final track, that will really stick it's skeletal fingers into your skin though. Split into two distinct halves (but keeping a lean running time) its a miniature epic; evocative end-times lyrics (“moon rising in the middle of the day”), that crackling, blown-out vocal and a blitzkrieg of Bathory-esque fury replete with a dive bombing solo. And that's all in the first 50 seconds. Looped drums and a quiet ominous melody follow; repeating over and over creating an anti-dirge, a clearing in the hellish miasma, before it's kicked back into a state of frenzy as a hammering bass drum blots out everything else like an eclipse
Another top notch addition to Caïna's illustrious back catalouge? Yet another stellar release from Church Of Fuck Records? A tantalising teaser for what Caïna may have in store for next year? Yup, All of the above.
Available to purchase on limited cassette from Church Of Fuck
Written by XRedX
First of all let us address the disappointing aspects of this show because I want the rest of the review to illustrate how much of a ripping evening this was without breaking for negi vibes.
1) Fuck the barrier at the Underworld. Fuck it to death and back because it is the dumbest idea since the St. Anger snare sound. Aaron Beddard of Bane addressed the situation, apologising for the barrier, and musing that there must be new management around the place which makes sense. On top of that the bands were lied to and told that the barrier had been there for three months when in fact it wasn't there three WEEKS ago when I went to see The Rival Mob and Mind Eraser. Whoever decided it was a good idea needs a serious reality check because it deadens the atmosphere something chronic.
2) Disappointment numero dos. The place was half empty. Now I realise it was a school night and that's not convenient for everyone but what the flip? From a pure enjoyment perspective it hindered nothing because I still loved every second of it but really, half empty for the legendary Bane and the unstoppable Power Trip? Get a grip!
Right then, on to the show proper. Due to a combination of working for The Man and London traffic I sadly missed The Blkout so can't comment on their performance from this night in particular but I did see them three nights later in Basingstoke and they were solid. Not necessarily something I would listen to at home but live they offered a very enjoyable set of metal-tinged Hardcore with hints of 90's style that got the room moving and was high energy from start to finish.
And then, one of the most eagerly anticipated moments in the UK Metal/Hardcore calendar came to fruition. Power Trip took to the stage and, overcoming the aforementioned gripes, proceeded to raze the place to the ground. Zoo-wee-mama! Unbelievably tight yet still incredibly energetic with huge amounts of fun and freedom on display, this is surely one of the most exhilarating performances I've seen for a long time. It's always nice to see a band enjoying themselves and this was clear from the opening note to the closing stomp, Power Trip were digging the UK and vice versa, Vocalist Riley Gail made the most of the barrier situation and spent a good deal of the showtime standing on it, sharing sweaty mic-grabs and headbangs with the diehards at the front, myself included.
I think if you were to ask any one who was in attendance that night they would agree that Power Trip's set was an example to any Hardcore or Metal band of how to do it very, very right. Old songs sat comfortably next to new jams without sounding jarring, working the new reverb drenched production into the live set without being clinical, and bringing so many riffs to the table that there wasn't a still head in sight. 2009 saw the release of 'Armageddon Blues' which stands out as one of my favourite records, Hardcore or otherwise, of the last decade and at the time it flew under a lot of radars so to hear an absolute stomper such as 'The Evil Beat' in the live setting was pure bliss. We were treated to a slew of new cuts from Manifest Decimation like the blistering title track and 'Murderer's Row'. The evil, mid-paced shoutalong of 'Crossbreaker' was one standout, bringing the frantic pace down just a tad to really highlight the visceral nature of Power Trip's songwriting. More often than not in Metal/Hardcore it's just about the riffs or that one riff every couple of songs (don't get me wrong, I live for riffs) but song writing is easily overlooked and when you see a band who clearly grasp the idea of crafting a song WITH those riffs, that's when you have a truly unparalleled live experience such as this. Highlight of the entire set though was 'Armageddon Blues' itself with the modest but enthusiastic crowd unable to stay still during said razor-sharp slice of Crossover that set heads windmilling and fists pumping, to the clear delight of Gail and co. Full of hard-as-nails-yet-hummable riffs, this song made the entire night and proved that Power Trip are here to stay with an almost sicekning combination of heaviness, boundless energy, and Metal charm. If you missed them on this tour, ya dun goof'd.
Then came Bane.Some may look at this tour pairing and find it odd or wrong. If that is you then you need to wake up and stop being such a stick in the mud. Diverse bills are great and this was no exception. Bane are, still, after all these years, full of boundless energy and pure Hardcore vitality which matches perfectly with Power Trips youthful zest-und-zing. For someone who has seen Bane multiple times over the years there is not a lot to say other than, still got it. I will be the first to admit that they don't bring too many surprises but damn they can rock real hard and create an instantly fun atmosphere and for that I will always go and see Bane whenever I can.
Even with the barrier proving to be a huge metallic hindrance, Aaron Beddard still managed to whip the crowd in to a frenxy of singalongs and posi-vibes which, as much as the Negi Lord in me hates to admit, is one of the most life affirming things I've witnessed in a long while. I love Bane and I think there are too many people out there willing to poop on their legacy now that Posi Hardcore is apprently uncool. Once again, citing the similarities, Bane showed a comfortable knack for sitting classics next to newer tracks and proving that they haven't given up on the Hardcore vision they set out with all those years ago. Ending the set with heart-wrencher 'Swansong' was a dream come true and there was barely a silent punter in the room as Beddard and co promised that “when Armageddon's been locked and loaded, I will come back for you!”.
Well Bane, continue to kick out live shows of this calibre and it will be me that comes back for you.
Birmingham, UK's Burden Of The Noose: the musical equivalent of a good kicking down a dingy alley round the back of The Bullring while someone else rubs your face in an upturned bin lid. Which might not appeal to most, but if you do find the thought of the hellish chaos of Iron Monkey mixed with the depressive sludge of Moloch, topped off with bits of grind and doom and -oh fuck it JUST GET THIS THING IN YOUR EAR CANALS. Oh, and that dual vocal? Jaysis. This thing is as heavy as a tin of steel bollocks.
Super-limited CD available from When Planets Collide Records
Post-rock giants like Mogwai and Explosions In The Sky successfully and expertly blur the line between delicate beauty and thundering noise (especially in Mogwai’s case – their heavier sections putting most metal bands to shame), but Pittsburgh, PA’s Pray For Teeth (alliteration fans will enjoy that sentence) balance thoughtful somberness and mountainous heaviness to an incredible degree. Their shimmering post-rock sections twinkle and dance around your senses with a soothing quality to them, and just when you’ve been relaxed into submission they pound your chest with a crushing sledgehammer of righteous doom.
In places, they add an unlikely spin to proceedings too; ‘Begging Growth’ actually swerves any gloominess whatsoever, coming across as a surprisingly posi, 6 minute slice of energetic doom. Which on paper doesn’t sound quite right, but it works real well – roaring vocals dialed down in the mix, blending in with the relentless surge of instruments perfectly.
And if you’re here for soul-swallowing misery, then you’re going to be happy too. ‘Dead Peasant’ is a sludge-infused monster; a suffocating atmosphere created by whirlpools of grumbling guitar and rumbling bass, as the guttural vocals bellow and rage like a cruel storm. It’s a snail paced track, calling to mind the slo-mo, expansive heaviness of Isis, but it feels more succinct and has far greater impact. As the pace picks up towards the end (in spurts of chaos in between sections of glinting quiet guitar) and as they weave in a bleakly melodic guitar riff, they feel more like a tsunami embodied than a band.
The real treat comes in the form of the closing title track, where they take all of the tricks that they’ve displayed so far and tie them all up into one 14 minute package that treads the line between oppressive shoegaze, life-affirming melody, funeral doom and new-era, US post hardcore. A band like Code Orange Kids will make diversions into introspective noise amid their outright fury, and the bold steps taken by them and by others help bring Pray For Teeth into that current wave of exciting, boundary free hardcore and metal, adding yet another dimension to it. There are no rules here, and Pray For Teeth are making music exclusively for themselves. We’re just fortunate that they’re A) fucking excellent at it, and B) sharing it with us.
Available to pre-order from Mayfly Records
With more splits between them than an Olympic gymnast, it was written in the bile-filled stars that Oakland, California's Noothgrush and Toyko, Japan's Coffins would share wax some day. Besides cruel heaviness – the kind that drops on your chest and sits oppressively until every bone of your ribcage splinters and eventually shatters into dust – both bands come from not only different ends of the globe but use dissimilar sources of sadism, albeit with the same result: total annihilation.
Noothgrush are disgusting filth; sounding like the doom-obsessed bastard brother of NOLA’s Eyehategod. Raised on Saint Vitus and Sabbath, peers-in-pain with Acid Bath and Iron Monkey, Noothgrush's playground is full of crippling sludge riffs, samples as queasy as the Iommic string bends used by guitarist Russ Kent, and some of the most fucked screams – courtesy of vocalist Dino Sommese (formerly of Dystopia and Asunder) – heard since Johnny Morrow passed away with his legacy intact. Noothgrush takes three of the five tracks on this split – ‘Humandemic’, ‘Jundland Wastes’, and ‘Thoth’ – and they keep each song firmly settled in a mire of hate. Painfully slow riffs leak tar-like, and the black sludge emissions suffocate and block out the light in the way only the best of doom can: through raw misery.
Coffins, on the other hand, come from an old-school death metal background, and the band’s love for Celtic Frost, Autopsy, and Asphyx-style gut-bustin’ takes hold of you until rigor mortis resolutely sets in. By dragging their riffs down to the gravest of pits, tempo-wise, Coffins slam heavier than most. ‘Drown in Revelation’ wrestles with one of the weightiest – and simplest – death grooves to be forced upon us, and the Neanderthal maul of the music is knee-buckling in its effectiveness. That’s not to say Coffins rejects increases in speed outright, however, as there is plenty of up-tempo trudge, especially during ‘The Wretched Path’, a song that’s as bouncy and catchy as extreme metal gets.
The best splits are the ones where neither band outweighs the other. Here, Noothgrush and Coffins crush together, and the pain is pleasurable – of course, this assertion is naturally dependent on whether your idea of pleasure contains any of the ghastliness mentioned above.
Available now from Southern Lord
Earlier in the year, I highlighted the 4 (out of many) UKHC bands that you really should be paying attention to. All of them were on the eve of releasing and showcasing new material and up until now, 3 of the 4 had delivered on all fronts. With 2013 starting to dwindle, I can finally assert my position as a 'smug twat'. Cause, well, I told you so. The 4th band on that list, Forsaken, have just dropped their debut 7″, Amongst Gods, Below Man, proving that they're at the top of the tree when it comes to UKHC crossover.
Hailing from South Wales (note: look out for another band from down here – Outrage, something REAL fucking good is coming from them) the 4 tracks on here show off a clear progression from their demo released in January without losing any of the ruggedness; arguably sounding even harder, more dangerous and twice as guaranteed to start circle pits on the same scale as natural disasters. One obvious touchstone are the gods of crossover Leeway, and Forsaken don't miss a beat when it comes to referencing that sound with generous use of divebombing solos, multi-part breakdowns (opening track 'Sentenced Eternal' dishes out a masterclass in sustained mosh towards the end) and maximum vocal reverb. And for your money you also get the most unashamedly metal lyrics this side of Master Of Puppets. “Abomination, ender of all, Annihilation, mortal man falls. Master, creator. Bastard, traitor.” from 'Mortal Man' is a particular favourite, capped off with an eye watering solo and more chugs than a steam convention.
Forsaken are another crucial thread to the current rich tapestry of UKHC; as hard as nails and with the riffs and conviction to back it all up. Mosh pits around the country just got that bit more dangerous.
7″ available now from Neutral Words Records
Regardless of the fact that it's hard to get totally pumped when all you have to go on musically is a 9 second song containing three words, LA's Piece By Piece have got me pretty excited. The obligatory 'featuring members of' list is a strong one (Terror, Infernal Affairs, Carry On), the cover art features enthusiastic porn star Bonnie Rotten (*clears throat* never neard of her, honest *deletes Internet history*), the tracks are mastered by Matt Hyde (Slayer, Hatebreed, so, this thing will have tone) and the snippet below hints at a promise of pure audio violence. Check it out
Right?! I'm ready for more. Pre-orders are up now courtesy of Solid Bond Records, click the image below to get there.
When you know that the recording and releasing of a record has lead to “a couple nervous breakdowns and a bit of prescription drug abuse”, it's probably a safe bet that said record isn't going to be full of happy times and sing along choruses. The latest release from one man Doom-Drone project Uboa, entitled Jouissance, is the antithesis of happy times. Stark, punishing, utterly miserable and totally relentless in it's assault, it's an uncomfortable listen, but a damn good one.
Doom and Drone are certainly an ingredient to Uboa's overall sound as it bangs and clangs and suffocates you like a wet rag wrapped around your face, but it does them a disservice to not mention that there's some pretty impressive blackened thrash and down-tuned metal at work in the charmingly titled 'I Will Choke You Until You Like It', or trace elements of black metal blitzkrieg in 'Hair, Skin, Nails'. But when the instruments used during the recording extent to things like power drills and saw blades, you can rest in the knowledge that for the majority of the time this is an industrial-drone nightmare, in a good way. There's surprising ray of hope displayed with the haunting, 10 minute 'I Am Taking All Of You With Me', which calls to mind Converge during their quiet moments with its expansive and echoing sound, but for the most part the message is clear – the world is an ugly, ugly place. And here's the soundtrack.