CORRUPT MORAL ALTAR – MECHANICAL TIDES (Season Of Mist)
It takes a grind band with balls the size of planets to slow things down in the middle of their debut LP and belt out a slow paced, clean sung ballad. But clearly, Liverpool’s Corrupt Moral Altar do not give one single fuck and proceed to do just that; the majestic, monolithic ‘Admit Defeat’ seeing them take a break from pummeling at your head and instead taking aim for your heart. And, in what’s perhaps the first instance of a grindcore band achieving something genuinely touching, by God: it works. Oh, did I mention that it’s grind legend Mitch Harris on vocal duties for this track?
Yes, Corrupt Moral Altar are far from lacking in ambition with Mechanical Tides, their latest installment of devastating ferocity following two EP’s in the space of a year since their formation. The progressive melodic elements captured on ‘Admit Defeat’ are really just the icing on a super-heavy cake; these madmen from Merseyside pull no punches and deliver a densely layered, immaculately constructed and forward-thinking lesson in razor-sharp grind and serrating metallic brutality. From the unsettling insectoid synths that bubble behind the anti-anthem of ‘Blood Harmony’ to the Jane Doe-esque headbanger of ‘Garland Greene’ and out through the city-levelling bluster as finale ‘Insect Politicians’ closes out, it’s a record that constantly surpises, impresses and destroys in equal measure. Really quite phenomenal.
Available from Season Of Mist
IDYLLS – PRAYER FOR TERRENE (Tapes Of A Neon God)
Around 90 seconds into opening track ‘Lied To’, Idylls have already cranked the intensity to such a level that it’s hard to imagine where they’ll take it from there. Given that there’s still just under 6 minutes to go until they’re done with the opening salvo to their second LP Prayer For Terrene, it’s no small feat that they continually build the anxiety and the volume to the point where it feels like your skull will cave in and your brain/eyes/hair will leak out through your slack jaw in a congealed mess. And you’re still only at the 4 minute mark.
Yes, as you may have gathered: Idylls are exhaustingly rapacious and, yes, it’s tempting to go on and just list the ways: (how ‘Sow Control’ bursts into life and smears your nose across your face, how the absurdly elastic bass line of ‘Pay With Youth’ rearranges your motor skills, how ‘Crashing Boar’ sounds like a schizophrenic cover of ‘Surfin’ Bird’) but hopefully all I’ll need to say is that listening to this record is about as pleasant as holding your genitals against the spinning wheels of a dirtbike and you’ll run off and buy it and torture your ears into oblivion. Astonishingly ferocious stuff, and completely brilliant.
Available from Tapes Of A Neon God
EMPTINESS – NOTHING BUT THE WHOLE (Dark Descent)
Written by Dean Brown
It’s interesting that while Enthroned ride the second wave (ir)religiously, Emptiness, who share two members with this Flemish horde, look to the inky-black void of the abstract for impetus.
That’s not to say Emptiness’s fourth full-length and second consecutive album for Dark Descent, ‘Nothing But the Whole’, is so challenging that you will float aimlessly while trying to find a foothold, however. ‘Nothing But the Whole’, while expressing non-linear ideas throughout its seven songs, is centred by its coiled yet characteristic structures and compelling song-craft, all of which circumvent the confines of death and black metal to spawn something special in the process.
The use of tension and unexpected release is paramount to the album’s uniqueness, but so too are other nuances, such as the band’s keen use of repetition and expansive textures and atmosphere. Absorb all of this together and once an understanding begins to manifest, only then does Emptiness’s philosophy for perverting conventions fully proclaim itself.
Available from Dark Descent Records
OBSTACLE – s/t (Footloose Records)
And so the proliferation of honest, no-frills, homegrown hardcore continues. Dublin’s Obstacle offer up a rigorous powerviolence clobbering, but it’s not just their solidly strict adherence to formula that marks them out as a band worth your time, it’s the little tweaks and smart touches they sprinkle throughout that grants them that distinction.
Borrowing elements from the both the east and west coasts of America (Boston’s guttural Mind Eraser and LA’s grim Despise You are both owed a debt) as well as featruing a traditional post millenium UKHC stomp (think Dirty Money), Obstacle wear their influences clearly for all to see, but they’re not afraid to add their own spin to things. ‘Nothing’ is a short, atmospheric reprieve, and it’s uncommon for a young HC band to allow themselves the room to breathe out and add such dynamics to a debut release. Props to them, because it works; injecting a sense of despair and misery that elevates (or rather, sinks) their material.
It’s not too often that a HC band can find enough to say spread across a full length, but if this debut EP is anything to go on, and if Obstacle can refine and fully develop their talent for creating an atmosphere, then hearing them play about with that with more running time and a bit more experience under their belt is a tantalizing prospect indeed.
Available to pre-order now from Footloose Records
Harder than a cage fighter with two Rottweilers strapped to each arm and wearing a shark as a backpack, Feeding Chain are yet another fine addition to the growing pantheon of South-UK hardcore bands that sound like they want to kick your teeth down your neck and out your arse. Yes, Feeding Chain are, to use modern parlance, tasty as fuck. Featuring members of various deceased hardcore bands that have stomped the stage over the past few years (Cold Snap, Wayfarer and even Out Of Hand if you can remember back that far) and cross-pollinating with current mosh-bringers Ego Trip and xRepentancex, Feeding Chain are a band that do not fuck about in delivering their message. The message? Get the fuck outta the way.
Their influences are on their blood-soaked sleeve; the pure audio contempt of Think I Care and the murderous Boston stomp of Mind Eraser are primary factors, and Feeding Chain deliver it with a clean, punchy clarity that’ll knock you on your arse and send your poser hat flying off and into the gutter. The term ‘real deal‘ is banded about a lot these days, awash as we are with a lot of fraudulent macho posturing, and although I can personally vouch that a number of their crew are thoroughly nice dudes, it’s clear that once they’re in a studio with amps plugged in, they’re channeling something murderous and very, very real.
The 5 tracks here (4 original, one cover) never push past the 90 second mark but leave indents on the skull such is the force of their delivery. The vocals are projected from that little hollow at the back of throat just behind the tonsils; sounding choked, thick and full of venom. No lung-draining theatrics, just teeth-gnashing fury. Opening track ‘Binge’ sets the dual-tempos; breakneck violent speeds or mid-pace Neanderthal pounding. This sort of quick switching between the two conjures up images of mosh-pit apocalypse, and the closing seconds of ‘Lung Matter’ offer up a contender for Most Dangerous Stomp of 2014. Closing the EP with a classic cover, It’s a testament to the virility of Youth Of Today’s ‘Can’t Close My Eyes’ that re-recorded here nearly 30 years later it still sounds as vital and dangerous as ever; Feeding Chain adding in a level of disturbing threat that wasn’t quite there in the original and re-tooling it’s message for a new generation.
A succinct and economic hardcore smack in the chops, and one that we’re all better off with.
Available now from the Feeding Chain Bandcamp.
Are we alone in the universe? Did life really originate from deep sea vents? Why don’t some people appreciate True Detective? Life is full of important questions that have left mankind forever searching for the answers. One such problem that has the
worlds leading scientists me lying awake at night is Are Limp Bizkit Shit Or Not.
While it’s easy to shout out a resounding “YES” in answer to this question, I believe that this topic deserves more thought. I believe this because I would like to be reassured that I didn’t spend a good chunk of my young manhood listening to what is possibly one of the worst metal bands to have existed in my time on earth. I also believe this because it’s my website and I can do whatever I want.
The system is simple: one at a time, I shall take a cold, hard look at each Limp Bizkit release (initial demo and studio LP’s only) and rate each one as SHIT or NOT SHIT. Then, adding these results using the power of maths, we shall work out a final score of either SHIT or NOT SHIT. What could go wrong?
So join me in Part 1 as I attempt to clarify, once and for all, whether Limp Bizkit are, as I say, shit or not shit.
MENTAL AQUADUCTS (1995 Demo)
As with any serious analysis such as this, the most important place to start is at the beginning. And by the beginning, I mean ‘shitty demo’. Before Fred and his pals assaulted spellchecks everywhere with Limp Bizkit, they dallied with the alternative name of Limp Biscut and self released the Mental Aquaducts demo in 1995. I think we can all agree that the name change was for the better because nothing says pre-millennium edginess like a Z for an S. Anyway, demos will forever fall into two camps. Camp one is the ‘rough but very, very promising’ camp and camp two is the ‘really rather embarrassing camp’. The Bizkit/Biscut’s first foray into the recording studio is a little bit of both.
Interestingly (or, worryingly) there really isn’t a whole lot of difference between this band in 1995 and the band today. Wes Borland was yet to join, so the guitar work is nowhere near as evocative as they’d come to incorporate, but for the most part, it’s business as usual; if a little blunt and unrefined. Durst still has the innate ability to veer between impressive vocalist and irritating child, the heavy parts have a hell of a lot of bounce and the dreamy-teenage angst-hip hop is in full effect and sounds alright despite being more dated than a Spiderman comic from 1967. That said, there is literally no reason to listen to it. Even if ‘Armpit’ does open with the line “I seen ya sniffin’ on my armpit”. A lyric to rival anything that is to come.
THREE DOLLAR BILL, Y’ALL$ (1997)
AKA ‘the one it’s ok to like’. Limp Bizkit ended up becoming a lot of things (an embarrassing parody of themselves, to jump the gun and name but one) and their debut LP certainly won’t be to everyone’s taste, but it’s hard to deny that what’s captured here is an honest and searing snapshot of a young band operating at full throttle. It isn’t without it’s share of problems though; the most serious of all being the woefully incompetent way that this LP is structured. It starts with a bang (the thundering Pollution, the quintessential nu-rap-metal anthem Counterfeit) but gets bogged down by the 6 minute melancholic jam of Stalemate and plummets downhill from there with the cringeworthy cover of George Michael’s Faith, the self congratulatory ‘shout out’ of Indigo Ranch and the snooze-fest psych-jam outro of Everything.
It’s a shame, because had the either the band or producer Ross Robinson shown some restraint, this could’ve been a tight, 10 track monster instead of feeling bloated and weighed down with filler. Durst’s voice could’ve done with some reigning in at this stage too, and had it been it might not have become quite the mess it is now. His power behind the mic when he’s screaming his guts out sees him stand out as one of the best in his field, but his parade of other quirks is grating even at this early stage. ‘Unhinged’ might have been what they were aiming for, but he just sounds like a man in desperate need of direction from his producer, lost in a fog of silly voices and polar-opposite vocal stylings.
Despite all of this though, Three Dollar Bill still holds up to this day. The abundance of energy captured when they get it right is undeniable and allows them to breathe fresh life into old sounds cribbed from their influences and sees them sounding every bit like young men genuinely losing their shit in the studio, hopped up on creativity. If you remain unconvinced, listen to Clunk to hear them firing on all cylinders and watch out for the seamless and really quite excellent way that they switch a battering, downtuned grove into a noodling hip hop cool-down. Worth listening to that one just to hear how scarily auto-biographical Durst’s mid-point rap has become.
SIGNIFICANT OTHER (1999)
Right. Ok. I thought that they were going to make this easier on themselves… Frankly, this record is a wash out. I haven’t fully listened to Significant Other, their eagerly anticipated (at the time) follow up to 3DBy’all$ (my acronym, you can use it), for at least 10 years and to be honest with you, I thought that this would have held up a lot better than it has. But before I wade through this record’s problems, it’s important to point out one huge distinction: Significant Other contains what is unarguably Limp Bizkit’s greatest song.
Don’t Go Off Wandering is their finest moment on record; an honest, touching and impeccably written piece of work that tugs at the heart and makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Yes, I am still talking about Limp Bizkit. All preposterousness is wiped away, Durst’s lyrics are actually about something that feels real, Borland’s guitar work and the way it coils around River’s noodling bassline is inspired and, somehow, incredibly, Durst’s voice sounds exceptional. It’s not often that Bizkit can drop the pace and not make you want to fall asleep or die or something but Don’t Go Off Wandering is one for the ages. Honest. Give it a go.
The rest though? Almost total guff. Sure, sure; it’s as heavy as a box of metal cocks in places, it bounces and grooves like a mother and the production is tight but … man… the songs are about nothing. Just Like This is basically Durst talking about his own band and naked girls, Nookie is an embarrassing ode to sex with such a terrible chorus that’s it’s shocking when you think that 5 people got together and wrote it and Show Me What You Got is literally just Durst listing American States. An obligatory ‘pure hip hop’ track with an uninspired guest spot from Method Man (it’s quite a feat to make Meth sound dull), a 7 minute outro of celebrities talking about Limp Bizkit and more lyrical dead ends than should be allowed (“time is something that may change me, but I can’t change time, so fuck it“). Self indulgent just doesn’t come close. There are no ideas here. None.
Thing is though, Don’t Go Off Wandering is such a good track that it get this record a pass. Significant Other, saved. By one song.
So then, so far so good. Kinda. Discounting the demo, Limp Bizkit are 2 for 2. Counting the demo, they’re … er … 2.5 for 3. It’s going ok. So far. But with the release of Chocolate Starfish & The Hot Dog Flavoured Water (fucks sake, that title) the tide is about to turn. Part 2 coming soon.
TO BE CONTINUED…
Imagine you walk into a room you’ve never been into before. Picture that scene. Are you picturing it? As you walk through the door and flick on the light switch, a hand reaches out of the darkness and slaps you in the mouth. That, I’m sure you’ll agree, would suck. You wouldn’t even think about walking further into that room. You would go home and you might even write a letter of complaint. But imagine you walk in and instead of a slap, that very same hand smooths your hair back and then hands you a tasty sandwich. That would be awesome, wouldn’t it? You’d walk into that room and probably stay there for some time, hoping for a second sandwich or maybe even a cake. This has been a metaphor for how first impressions count. So, without further ado, here’s some of the best first impressions that metal, punk and hardcore have ever made. A list of the best opening lyrics to a whole load of records, if you’re not still not sure.
BLACK SABBATH – WAR PIGS (Paranoid, 1970)
Something that will be hard to avoid repeating as we move through this list is not only how these opening lyrics are officially Cool As Balls but how they often do a perfect job of setting the mood and the tone for what follows. What better place to start then, than with the band who set the mood and the tone of metal as a whole for generations to come. Ozzy’s opening proclamation, delivered with his unmistakable voice, of “Generals gathered in their masses, just like witches at black masses” is, to this day, the most deliciously perfect way to kick off a heavy metal LP that it’s no wonder that those 4 blokes from Birmingham literally changed everything. Anti-war messages wrapped up in occult analogies? *bangs head*
EVERY TIME I DIE – ROMEO A GO GO (Hot Damn, 2003)
Seeing as Every Time I Die’s sophomore LP Hot Damn has more restless, kinetic energy than a speed addict shot into space on the back of a monkey, it’s hard to imagine a more fitting opening line than Keith Buckley’s roar of “tonight I’m coming home in a coma if it fucking kills me”. It’s possibly the most badass line on his entire list and it’s so good I almost don’t need to carry on. Backed by a tumble of drums, a squeal of guitar feedback and delivered with such honest, searing desperation that it feels more like a threat than a statement, if this LP only amounted to these 5 seconds it would still be among the best of its kind.
BEHEMOTH – BLOW YOUR TRUMPETS GABRIEL (The Satanist, 2014)
How do Behemoth, the masters of battering, none-more-satanic metal, open this years return-to-glory LP following life threatening personal trauma and years out of the spotlight? By growling the line “I saw the virgins cunt spawning forth the snake”, that’s how. I don’t really need to say anymore here, do I?
SS DECONTROL – BOILING POINT (The Kids Will Have Their Say, 1982)
Back in the early 80′s, the 1st wave of US hardcore bands were in possession of two things that would become the essential ingredients of any decent hardcore that would follow. Firstly, an as-yet-unheard-of level of dissatisfaction and aggression. Second, an admirable sense of economy. LP’s were short, lyrics were blunt and everything hit like a brick to the chin. Just how you want it. SS Decontrol are a shining example of how no-frills hardcore should be done and their LP The Kids Will Have Their say is a crash course that any new HC band should study with dedication. There’s no smart-ass wordplay here, just what you need to know. And as Dave ‘Springa’ Spring breathlessly shouts “I’ve kept it bottled up for years / Instead of fighting or shedding tears / Now it’s time to let it go / My boiling point’s about to show” you know that they’ve had enough, they’re not gonna fucking take it and that they absolutely fucking well mean it. Hardcore 101.
IRON MONKEY – FINK DIAL (Iron Monkey, 1997)
Anyone who’s listened to Iron Monkey will, of course, have heard Johnny Morrow’s vocals. And anyone who’s heard Johnny Morrow’s vocals will know that none of us have a frigging clue what he’s saying. So the opening line to the first song on Iron Monkey’s debut LP is possibly more about how he says it than what he says. Morrow was constantly dancing the line between violence, sex, social comment and outright horror and by opening Fink Dial with the bewildering “gas disease machine, cunt-fraud, deaths during rock magic, fetered arms reach for blackened penis”, he pretty much sets his stall out and shows you everything all in one breath. It also introduced us to perhaps the most terrifying noise that England has ever produced. His vocal chords were truly a sound unlike any other.
MASTODON – BLOOD AND THUNDER (Leviathan, 2004)
“I THINK THAT SOMEONE IS TRYING TO KILL ME”. Fuck, it can’t get any cooler than that, can it? Oh, what? The LP is a concept album based on Captain Ahab’s legendary pursuit of Moby Dick? Apparently it can. If you don’t hear that introductory bellow and want to punch a sea-beast in its face then I think you need to have a word with yourself.
TRAP THEM – INSOMNIAWESOME (Sleepwell Deconstructor, 2007)
Trap Them sound disgusting. Rank. Filthy. If you scraped around the inside of an old truck’s oil tank that had been submerged in a tar pit for a decade and then wiped that gunk across your teeth, you’re close to how dirty you feel when you listen to their debut LP Sleepwell Deconstructor. Their sound may have been copied to the point where Trap Them-core is close to existing, but nobody does it better. So, how does a new band capture that inherent sense of depravation within a single sentence? By screaming, as inhumanly as possible, the words “PUT ON YOUR MAAAAAASK” over the most ugly feedback you’ll ever hear. Never has an invitation into darkness sounded so genuine and disturbing.
SLIPKNOT – DISASTERPIECE (Iowa, 2001)
It’s no secret that, since their 2nd LP Iowa, Slipknot have been responsible for releasing some material that any right minded metal band should be embarrassed about. It’s also no secret that Corey Taylor’s lyrics more often than not leave a lot to be desired; clunky ‘woe is me / I hate you’ mopings that would be more at home in a teenagers diary than in a supposedly balls-out metal song. But all of this cannot hide the fact that they open ‘Disasterpiece’ with the lyric “I wanna slit your throat and fuck the wound”
I want to slit your throat. And fuck. The wound.
Ok, so it’s not the opening line to the LP because it’s actually the third track on Iowa, but honestly, how can we ignore that one?
INTEGRITY – VOCAL TEST (Humanity Is The Devil, 1996)
Anyone who knows anything about England will know that the country is built entirely on a foundation of fish & chips, that we all speak like the Queen’s posher cousin and that the weather is eternally the same colour as the inside of an exhaust pipe. It’s never hot here, merely a trifle warm or a tad sunny; weather which we all still moan about because we can’t find the shorts we wore two years ago during the great One Day Heatwave of 2012. But something is wrong. Since the start of July this green and verdant land has been drenched in persistent sunshine and laden with unrepentant temperatures. We’re all sweatin’, here in the United Kingdoms, and there’s not a cloud in sight. So when you’re driving around with your windows down and your system up, what on earth does your average metaller listen to that perfectly encapsulates the unique synergy between blazing hot sunshine and good times? I’ll tell you what you listen to. You listen to Vices.
If New Breed, the debut full length from Florida’s Vices, consisted entirely of just the track ‘Wasteland’, I’d still be stood here shouting my mouth off about it. ‘Wasteland’ is one of those songs that perfectly encapsulates all that a band are about; summing it up in one neat, 2 minute 40 second package exactly what it is that makes Vices so worthy of being your soundtrack to punching the sun in its face. Vices’ hook is a simple one: mash the swamp-soaked sound of Southern blues with a broiling does of rugged hardcore and mosh through the night chugging whiskey and stomping on mosquitoes. This is swamp mosh (swosh?), and it’s an inspired creation. ‘Wasteland’ is more fun than a sack full of spaniels, wrapping a serious message (disillusionment in that fabled American Dream) up in a song that’s one part Every Time I Die, one part Muddy Waters and all parts balls-out enjoyment.
The LP might clock in at under 20 minutes, but it’s rammed full of ideas and feels fresher than the wind in your face on a sweltering day. Elsewhere the title track shreds it’s way into your brain with juicy guitar licks and mammoth chugs, ‘Slum Wolves’ stomps around with a malevolent grin sounding like if Slayer had risen like a zombie from the Everglades and the rousing finale of ‘Swan Song’ will send you off with a shit-eating grin as it combines later-Black Flag with Lynyrd Skynyrd and ends up not sounding like either but comes out sounding fucking awesome.
New Breed is a head-rush of a record; dripping in soul, swagger and spit-soaked punk fury, and marks Vices out as a band with an incredibly bright future ahead.
Due to be released by Melotov Records, keep an eye on their Facebook or Deathwish distro page for ordering info
Written by Nathan G O’Brien, follow him on Twitter
Cannabis Corpse – From Wisdom to Baked
I used to smoke hella weed. But then I became an adult and party-hard-and-laugh-my-ass-off turned into holy-shit-what-am-I-doing-with-my-life every time I took a hit. I still have a lot of creepy little monsters up there in that head of mine that are just waiting for the tiniest taste of bud to enter their lives again. And once they do, they’ll projectile vomit their guts all over my brain, turning me into the mental equivalent of what that guy from Breaking Bad who is in a wheelchair and has to ring a bell to talk would look like if he had the face of Eric Stoltz in Mask.
The way I see it, when it comes to cannabis sativa, a guy like me has two choices: throw my life in the trash for the next 24 hours with a hit of dank or listen to the new Cannabis Corpse record. So rather than standing in the corner worrying about shit like paying bills, car insurance, and trying not to have a panic attack; wondering why my eyes are crying tears of habanero sauce; and my cheeks are so hot it feels like my face is trapped inside a ghost pepper’s anus after it got buttfucked by the Devil, I choose to listen to the new Cannabis Corpse record.
What can you say about these pot-puffing knuckle-draggers that hasn’t been said already? On From Wisdom to Baked there are more leafy green thrash riffs, double bubbler kick drums, and resin-coated throat grumbles than you can blow a three foot bong hit at. And with song titles like “Baptized in Bud,” THC Crystal Mountain,” and “With Their Hash He Will Create”, well, you get the idea; not much has changed. But despite the silly subject matter, Cannabis Corpse still plays some of the finest death metal around; recalling the early days of USDM acts like Deicide, Morbid Angel, and of course, Cannibal Corpse.
Released by Seasons Of Mist, get it here.
Dead Channels / Zeddmore split EP (Manic Progression Records)
This split features two relatively unknown bands from New York. Not surprisingly both of them play metalcore of varying degrees.Dead Channels do a load of Quicksand/Snapcase/post-hardcore worship. Really punishing, yet technical instrumentation matched alongside scream-y vocals. If you told me their side came out on Revelation in 1993 I would have literally no reason not to believe you.
Zeddmore draw a little more from the ‘80s but still employ the mosh breakdowns that led hardcore to floor-punching-windmill-kicking prominence in the ‘90s. Blast beat-ish drums paired with mildly erratic guitars. I dig it. If anything is going to make them stand apart from similar sounding stuff, it’s going to be the singer. He effectively conveys a range of emotion rather than skating by on typical tough guy grunting. Imagine Ian MacKaye fronting Disembodied.
Zeddmore gets the brunt of the split with three songs to Dead Channel’s two; although if you added up the running time they’re probably fairly equal. Metalcore is still alive and… ah, let’s just say it’s still alive.
Released by Manic Progression, get it here.
Angel Du$t – A.D. (REACT! Records / Reaper Records)
Oh boy, the old dollars sign for an S thing. Hard not to love this based on that alone, as when I’m not pogoing and/or headbanging to this punk & metal shit, I’m, as they say, all about that rap life. But alas Angel Du$t is not rap, as one might assume. Nope, they’re a strange mix of like, Helmet and the Descendents or something.
A.D. is their debut album and is one that is very ‘90s-band-who-had-one-or-two-hits-on-alternative-radio-and-played-said-radio station’s-summer-festival-only-to-never-be-heard-from-again’. I’m not saying it’s bad—in fact I happen to like it very much—I’m just saying I don’t think it has a lot of lasting power in the overall punk lexicon. The singer sounds a lot like Dave Smalley of Dag Nasty/ALL/Down By Law fame. So there’s that too.
There are 12 songs here but the whole thing clocks fewer than 15 minutes, as any good punk or hardcore album should. I could see this one getting a few spins around the old backyard keggers this summer.
Released by REACT! Records, get it here
Little Big League / Ovlov split EP (Tiny Engines)
True story: I was in the movie Little Big League. Yep, I had a very prominent role, where I walked up the bleachers of the Metrodome (R.I.P) wearing a Montreal Expos (R.I.P.) hat and a Carharrt sweatshirt with a Suburbs button on it. Ok, now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk about how cool Little Big League the Philadelphia band is before you start trying to figure out how old I’m not going to admit to being.
If Stephen Malkmus was a woman and Pavement stopped making records after Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain we’d have Little Big League. But that didn’t happen and we still have Little Big League. Lucky us! (PS – I don’t care if that doesn’t make sense. The point is this band rules OK? OK.) It’s impossible to get these melodies out of my head. Then again I don’t really want to.
On the flip side, we have a track by Newton, CT’s Ovlov. “The Great Crocodile” is a sweet ‘90s style indie rock number, complete with J.Masics-like guitar licks and Lou Barlow-ish vocals. Side B is complimentary to Side A in the same way a cold pint is complimentary to hot slice of pizza. And much in the same way, you’re left wanting more of both.
Released by Tiny Engines, get it here
That artwork is badass, right?
The real issue here though, the question that you should be asking yourselves, dear reader, is not whether it’s a matter of ‘if’ you are going to buy this new record from Trudger, but rather a matter of ‘when’. And the answer to that question, oh faithful visitor, should be “as soon as humanly fucking possible”. Because this grizzled, hairy and bearded quintet of young men from the deepest darkest corners of Barnsley- that mysterious vale tucked away in the wilds of the North- have returned with an LP of such staggering proportion that it would have been impossible to predict and is equally as impossible for you to ignore.
The signs were there of course. Their debut EP Motionless In Dirt, released back in 2012 by Church Of Fuck Records (one of two labels also handling this new one) was a barnstorming cavalcade of primordial grunt and heft; a wooly mammoth rolling around in your living room; a mouthful of the finest Yorkshire mud. But while it certainly had the power, it may not have had the finesse. They have no such problem this time around. They display an iron-grip on their song-craft here and it’s this ingredient, above all the churning, belligerent riffs and throat-shredding vocals, that truly sets them apart from their past work and from their contemporaries. Such is the skill with which they wield their weapons on Dormiveglia, you’ll be left mind-boggled.
Which is not to say that monolithic weight isn’t still there, because fuck me it is. Opener ‘Into The Abysmal Future’ might begin with some disquieting atmosphere, but it’s not long before it erupts into a landslide of ravaging sludge and fury. At the midway point they ease off the gas, letting the track breathe by flirting with some melancholic melody, before snapping back into focus with a proto-thrash riff that’ll put hairs on the hairs on your chest. This dance between the ugly and the beautiful; the thoughtful and the bludgeoning is exactly what makes Dormiveglia such a captivating experience from start to end. Trudger sound like masters of their craft.
From the two atmospheric interludes of ‘Tilikum’ and ‘Devoid’ that punctuate the chaos to the thundering bluster of ‘Thickening Fog’ (oh god that riff at 2:31 with the dual layered vocals) to the measured and devastating ‘State Of Constant Slumber’ (the soundtrack to a solar flare wiping out the dinosaurs) to the funeral-doom of grand finale ‘Morgued’, it’s an LP filled to bursting with moments that’ll knock your block off. But far from being just a disjointed set of cool songs, it’s the way in which Trudger have created an expansive, expressive, complete package of a record that will truly push them to the forefront of UK metal. Hell, why stop at just the UK? Dormiveglia proves that they’ve got the chops to take on the world.
Due to be released by CHURCH OF FUCK and SELL YOUR SOUL RECORDS on August1st.
Seeing as the first two minutes of the lead track, ‘Perception/Prescription’, from Keeper’s demo contains only sparse guitar and distant crackling vocals, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve got the measure of them. Just another spooky little band, you’ll think. Just another couple’a dudes playing creepy acoustic black metal, you’ll shrug, as you light a cigar and put your feet up on a velvet Ottoman made in an Eastern European factory. But then the rug is pulled from under you. Your Ottoman topples over and your cigar lights your hair on fire as Keeper unleash a sonic maelstrom of truly biblical proportions that doesn’t ever really stop.
What erupts is a fury that will turn milk into cream, make dogs howl and Holy Water boil. Hailing from California, Keeper are channeling some supremely malevolent forces here. The guitars are impossibly overdriven (how many amps died recording this? my guess = lots); the vocals are the sound of Cerberus coughing his lungs up; the drums a simplistic yet devastatingly primal battering.
Keeper are the sound of pure hell. Abandon all hope. Failing that, just download their demo and go nuts.
Lurch over to their Bandcamp
One of the most exciting thing about Moloch’s two releases last year was waiting to see how on earth they were going to follow them up. Spread across two simultaneously released split LPs (sharing wax with the downright ugly Meth Drinker on one and with the cosmic-doom of Ensorcelor on the other), Moloch’s additions to their ever-growing pantheon of hatred were the most expressive, expansive and devastating they’d ever been. ‘Nihilist’ and ‘Protagonist’ in particular from the Ensorcelor split, showed a band that, while usually staunch in their commitment to delivering no-frills brutality, could produce a song that sounded at times progressive and pensive without losing any of it’s guttural power.
On this split with Canada’s Haggatha, released in the UK by Manchester’s Dry Cough Records, Moloch strip it right back to basics, conjuring up a 4 minuite excercise in economical audio punishment with ‘Head Of Coil’. It’s impressive how easy they make it all sound; the central riff is laced with a malevolent groove, like a stoner jam on a bad trip, played slow and dripping in tension; preparing you for an explosion to come. Braddock’s vocals deliver an ever reliable performance; sturdy, blunt, totally harrowing. Comparing ‘Head Of Coil’ to those deeply serious proceeding releases, Moloch seem almost deviously playful here, like a cat toying with its prey. That teased explosive finale never comes, rather a new riff emerges, with even more of a sinister swagger, and they jam on it until the track ends. Your head nods accordingly, transfixed. Whether Moloch are testing the limits of their sound or playing well within its guidelines, they remain at the top of their game, and easily one of the most impressive sludge bands going.
Operating within the same misanthropic ballpark as Moloch but coming at it from a different angle are Vancouver’s Haggatha. It’s a common mistake; pair up two bands for a split who sound too similar and you don’t give either enough room to breathe or the listener anything interesting to savour. Similarly, you’ll often find two bands shoved together who are so disparate that it’s unlikely you’ll find an appreciative audience for both. This split package gets it just right, with Haggatha providing a slightly less feral approach to underground sludge than Moloch spit out, but proving that they’re no less of a fearsome prospect.
They’ve been busy boys leading up to this point, with a string of EPs (bluntly titled ‘I’ through to ‘IV’) released since their inception which I’d heartily reccomend digging into to hear a band evolve and go from strength to morbid strength. On ‘Time And Suffering’, Haggatha take a doom-focused approach, with the whole thing having a very regal and focused feel. It’s deliberately slow, like a funeral procession, and rather than going straight for the jugular like their work on 2012′s devastating ‘IV’ LP, it has the effect of a slow, relentless suffocation carried out by a stone-faced killer. It’s finishes off a record that is not for the faint hearted, with respect to either band, but you wouldn’t be here in the first place if you’re of a weak constitution, would you?
Released in the UK by Dry Cough Records, get it here.
Overseas folk, mind that this is a co-release with Graanrepubliek Records (NL) & Choking Hazard Records (CN), so seek them out for ordering.
Written by Cheryl Carter, follow her on Twitter
One Master’s Live In The Castle Of Quiet is a live set taken from a WFMU radio show entitled “My Castle Of Quiet” and the raw, underground tone of their sound is allowed space to breathe and twist without the constraints of post-production and effects on this limited release. The band are truly enamoured with the sounds of old and their black metal approach is one that pays tribute to the early days of the genre with suitably harsh, grim vocal lines while keeping a modern edge to proceedings with interesting guitar progressions.
The energy on-stage is tangible and the transference from band to audience is felt through vocalist Valder’s command over the music and his projection towards the darkness. One Master are a name to keep your ears out for as Live In The Castle Of Quiet is a furious maelstrom of sound that is constantly shifting and pushing forward to the inevitable end. “A Cursed and Dismal Mind” allows gorgeous guitar solos to shine through the shadows and the band can easily hold their own against say, Sargeist or Horna’s latest works in terms of atmosphere created. One Master are the real deal.
Released by No Visible Scars, get it here