I believe the children are our future, someone said. I forget who. I was a child myself when that line was uttered and I'm certainly not really the future of anything cause I can't remember who done sung it. But I know all of the lyrics to Wu Tang Clan Ain't Nuthing Ta Fuck With. So there's always that. And if the kids who play in Wasted Blood are the future too, then pretty soon we'll be living in a dystopian nightmare where everyone is being murdered for bottle caps. Which isn't a slight on the dudes in the band: 5 young men, most of whom I think I've spoken to, all seem of solid character, although one of them said something on Twitter which led to a very bizzare Internet showdown with some crappy record label but IDK. Not at all, just that their ignorant powerviolence hate-mosh is fearsome stuff, belies all evidence of their true age and is an accomplished (if fairly basic) fist fight of a record.
I first wrote about this band a million years ago when they were called No Means No, and after a very advisable name change they're back with this, a split EP with Gator King, due for release on Prospect Records. Opener 'Drop Dead' pulls as many punches as its title; a blitzkrieg of blastbeats and a pummelling beatdown to finish it off. Have you heard it all before? Yes. Is that a problem? No, of course not. Wasted Blood aren't pushing many envelopes here, but they're doing it well. At this stage, early on in their time recording music, that's all that matters. But credit where it's due: song composition is kept interesting, 'Autopsy' clocks in at a rotund two minutes and takes plenty of twists and turns, throwing in some gang vocals and occasionally having the righteous bluster of early Earth Crisis without all the Veganism. 'Last Try' feels even more impressive. Wasted Blood take their time on this one, explore some cool little avenues (loving that weird effect on the opening line) and actually sound like a Fastcore band (think Pick Your Side) before calling in a snail-paced stomp like artillery back up. It's a track like this that really shows their potential; they've got the muscle undoubtedly, and it's when the brains shine through that it gets even more exciting.
Gator King tracks unavailable at the time of review, due for release soon on Prospect Records.
Written by Bill Haff
It isn’t an easy task to describe music that lies on the colloquial “fringe”. At the edge of the cliff we have the extreme; releases in which the only ones privy to them are the bands themselves. Surely, a lot of acts on this metaphorical cliff exist; Southern Lord’s distro would be a good starting point, but for those that wish to exonerate themselves from the waves of death metal, they need not look farther than Providence’s Fucking Invincible. They are a supergroup of sorts, combining members of successful acts like Dropdead and Daughters, and, with their new EP Downtown is Dead, they can claim such a title. Downtown is as close as you can get to a mastercraft in fastcore; you know that genre that is apparently thrash metal with hardcore sentiments? No? It’s a long lost remnant from the 80s — without the sequin jumpsuits and amazing music videos.
Fucking Invincible creates the La Nausee of this genre; the reawakening of a style in an almost spiritual fashion. Please Await Further Instruction, the first track, is a discourse in theming. It is a simple track; something fast and loud to something slow and sludge-driven, but it is a different breed of the sort. The sampling isn’t blase — it adds to the atmosphere and essentially creates the mood of the EP. The track forms itself, letting the listener hear what they are in for, and then they tear it down. The next track, Too Much Black, juxtaposes this. All speed and intensity, it is unrelenting and vicious; the riffing takes precedence over the simple drumbeat. This is fastcore but fastcore as a different, darker breed. It cannot be underestimated or undersold as just “fastcore”. It should be stood on its own, like a finial on a castle wall.
As Boris from Goldeneye said, “I am invincible!”, so too is this Providence act. Downtown is Dead isn’t an example of banality; the kind of tags that plague sub-genres of hardcore. Sure, there can be times where the speed becomes too unbearable. On this EP there are a few moments where it becomes an amalgamation of all those thrashy bands, but Fucking Invincible can break away from that with carefully placed breakdowns and riffs that contain extreme drop-beats. Of course, the album finishes the way it started off (how else would they end it?). Standing Perfectly Still ends the theme, tying it up nicely, and finishing with the same slow breakdown. There is nuance across the whole EP. Not only do Fucking Invincible set up their album, they actually manage to make their vision work and successfully pull it off. Sure, there are hiccups (The Both of Us Are Dying is 13 seconds; there isn’t much substance here other than filler). Not every fastcore group can carry a concept — the difficulty in wrapping it up and maintaining the drive of each individual member can prove to be too time consuming, and by all means, a drain on the actual finished product. But Fucking Invincible are consummate professionals. Their anti religious statements aren’t the same rehash of someone else’s awful idea, and through their use of sampling, they make the sentiment clever. Their ability to create such power from their instruments and vocal chords, their creation of a concept as Genesis-turned-hardcore and their ability to maintain such energy should be enough to vault them high up on the popularity spectrum. God is dead, as they say.
Order the 7″, stream or download from Fucking Invincible's Bandcamp
With all of the (justified) hype that surrounds hardcore darlings Code Orange Kids you’d almost be forgiven for thinking that they’re the only bunch of young’uns currently pouring such a wide variety of influences into their songs and making such an impressive amount of cacophonous noise. And while the two New Jersey bands on this split don’t quite reach such dizzying heights, there’s enough invention and spark here to make it essential that you check them out. Last year I reviewed Off Camber‘s tape Cat 4 Upgrade, an excellent DIY affair with holes drilled through the cassette sleeve to spell out the band name, and was impressed with their chaotic, flailing, last-dying-breath approach to their art. Combining a whole slew of punk genre influences they made something fresh and exciting. Original they may not be, but their energy and exuberance enables them to grab hold of the familiar and slap you in the face with it.
‘Group Ride’ from that cassette reappears here, re-recorded, slicker and sharper than before, the lurching, spazzing breakdown given more weight and counterbalancing the songs spidery structure. Off Camber’s most prominent touchstone is The Locust (minus the caustic wit and total nihilism) with a twist of jangly Indie buried below the throbbing noise. ‘Wellsboro’ begins with droning notes in the background, a brief bit of menace before they cast it off and just go hell for leather. Song lengths are short and frequently take hairpin turns along their tiny routes, meaning you rarely get chance to find your feet before its over. But herein lies the appeal and yet again I’m left excited by what they’ll create next.
Between Your Mind And Tongue drink from a similar well on first impressions and opening track ‘Protest The Protest, Start Protesting Yourself’ will take you longer to say the title than the song lasts for. 60 seconds of anxious and awkward screamo-spazz which is crunchy and precise; stuttering rhythms opening out into loose and rambling sections and back again. Good work, if not particularly memorable. But it’s their second track which really hints at what they’re capable of. At 3 and a half minutes long, it’s an epic by comparison and actually feels it. Taking their foot off the gas part of the way through allows a wonderful post-rock beauty to flower, all shimmering guitars and melancholy melodies. When they do build it back up for a crushing finale and a final burst of rhythmic epilepsy it feels massive.
Packaged again in a pleasingly DIY cardboard, fold-out 7″ sleeve, this split represents two bands who you may not have heard of, but who you really ought to start paying attention to.
Free download of the tracks from each side of the split from Off Camber’s Bandcamp and Between Your Mind And Tongue’s Bandcamp. The 7″ can be ordered from there too.
We're big fans of MINE here at Tight To The Nail (we featured one of their excellent tracks on our Spring Sampler, check it out below) so it's a pleasure to post up some news about their first tour since their inception last year, a string of dates with gruff punks OK Pilot. MINE, of course, feature founding member and ex-vocalist of metal marauders Hang The Bastard so you can expect something fairly rawkus to be happening at these dates. Check out the flyer and the dates below. In addition, MINE are set to record the follow up to their well received self titled EP from late 2012 this weekend and will be showcasing some new songs from this release on the tour.
25th July – Le Pub, Newport
26th July – Green Door Store, Brighton
27th July – Royal Park Cellars – Leeds
28th July – The Old Blue Last, London w/ Attack! Vipers! (Free show)
29th July – Bristol – Exchange w/ Lemuria
30th July – Cheltenham – Frog and Fiddle
1st Aug – Cavern – Exeter
A lot is made about progress in music. Bands and artists are lauded for making brave steps, breaking moulds and transforming well known sounds, often risking critical and fan alienation. To hear progression in music is sometimes to hear music in its rawest form possible. As the core of something is broken down and rearranged in new and exciting ways, fresh possibilities are born, movements are started, epiphanies are had. To hear a band growing and taking risks is probably as exciting as it can get for a listener. So used are we to the tropes and familiar structures of music that when a new seed is planted and grown before your ears into something unique it is quite powerful, more so than almost anything else that the art world has to offer. But when a band can revert to a primal state and basically beat against your skull like a caveman against a rock? That's pretty awesome too. This is Wraiths. They're not showy, they're not overly technical, they're not trying to out-think anyone. They're slow. They're toweringly heavy. They'll bludgeon your tits off.
Originally released digitally by the band back in October 2012, this 5 track pummelling is given a fresh lick of paint here by the prolific Witch Hunter Records with a limited tape pressing and new Slayer worship cover art. If getting involved in a mosh is your kind of thing, you don't want to pass up on Wraiths a second longer. Downtuned is the order of the day, opener 'Pyramid Head' (hint: reference Silent Hill in your titles, I'm on your side for ever) is positively brimming with ignorant pit instigation; those chugs that lead in the vocals, the droning low notes, the sweet bend-into-neck-drop guitar moves that sound like the ground opening up below you. This is custom built for violent dancing.
But even among all of the indecent proto-mosh present in the first track, glimpses of something else poke through. A blink and you'll miss it quiet section leads the way for further moments of tense reflection throughout this EP which, coupled with the overbearingly bleak and hopeless lyrical content, begin to paint a very grim picture indeed. Wraiths will beat you into the ground, sure. But they'll also make you feel pretty shitty about life while they're doing it. 'Church Burner' opens with a post rock suspense and while it doesn't last long before a feedback wail ushers in a stomping rhythm it adds texture and a sense that there's more to Wraiths than meets the eye, which culminates in the final track 'Monolith'. Accurately titled at 7 minutes long it takes inspiration from Xibabla's ability to weld crushing heaviness with a sense of melancholy as tempos and moods switch and change in an instant. Punk bluster into funereal doom anyone? It might be pulled off in a fairly basic form, but it's an impressive place for the band to end up after that opener. I guess there's progression in regression then. Thinking man's mosh? Yeah, I'd say so.
Available now from Witch Hunter Records, free download from here or grab one of the limited tapes here.
Written By Bill Haff
Powerviolence is a genre that eludes some people within the hardcore scene. The tendencies of PV lend to DIY releases, a demo tape here and there and an EP put out by someone in their garage.
This album here, Negative by Leed’s own Gets Worse is a split release between Hygiene Records and Evil Purple Bastard. The EP starts itself off with a bone-crunching breakdown that sets the tone for what is to come, and what will be left in it’s wake. It’s a mosh-worthy opener that breaks the convention of powerviolence as just a mania induced slugfest, a blast-beat killswitch that doesn’t stop for any man, woman, or child. At 1:04, the vocals kick in and what comes out is very Weekend Nachos-esque. To call it a direct rip-off is silly — the vocals alternate from the gorilla growling and higher pitched yelling to create symbiosis between the menacing, pounding double bass. The guitars are deep and fluid, where breakdown riffs aren’t uninteresting and bland. The bass is something to behold; an atmosphere created by the four string is one of dissociation with the world around it.
After the high intensity blast beats on the track Scabs, there comes a fuzz induced mini-bass solo. It attacks the senses and ushers in gang-vocals that bring a sense of community to the listener. The urge to jump on stage and yell the lyrics with the rest of the crowd: “Fuck yourself you obnoxious jerk!”. Gang vocals are a craft of hardcore, and Gets Worse seamlessly blends the intensity of PV with the structure and aggressive form of hardcore.
The EP continues to drive, reinventing itself with genre-bending tracks like Neighbourhood Ninja which closes out with a major riffing two-step. Bands that fall into the PV categpory are accustomed to wearing the flag of an all-out-attack, like a battalion of soldiers charging a hill against the defending line. These kind of acts try to sound like their predecessors — Infest and Crossed Out, that ilk. While there are similarities, Gets Worse don’t take their influences to just copy them, rather they take the better parts and mold them with their own unique sound of unheralded brutality .
To even speak of cookie-cutter ripoffs is an awful regression of the genre as a whole. The more we speak of bands being nothing more than Entombed clones or anything that sounds like Integrity, the worse the scene degrades and falls into a bleak nothingness. Hardcore and it’s subgenres should be about reinvention. We should allow a new batch of mercenaries willing and eager to take reign over the scene that has become increasingly divided.
Gets Worse can tangle with the best of them. Tracks like Positive PV? are testaments to the scene which has become almost too nice. There aren’t many bands who are willing to show their frustration, to take back the torch of hardcore and be actually angry about something. Negative is an EP that caters to such tendencies; splashing a little of the old-fashioned beatdown hardcore with the spontaneity of PV. Each song is crafted to the appetite of destruction — there’s buildup and more buildup and more buildup, finally releasing itself with the closing track Stubborn.
Let’s be blunt: calling this EP a strict hardcore album is severely underrating Gets Worse; it’s an EP which brings the best of such beloved genres and shells out a dystopian worldview. There can be positives taken from the album, and its message can be positive as we look to move forward, to take the leap and breathe in the new. But after all, there’s no such thing as positive powerviolence; only Negative.
Free download from the Gets Worse bandcamp. Available to pre-order on 7″, split release between Hygiene Records (US) & Evil Purple Bastard (UK) or direct from the band here.
Despite forming back in 2011, I'd been pretty oblivious to Set Astray. There's a wealth of great Scottish hardcore bubbling away at the moment (War Charge and Prelude To The Hunt are two bands you do not want to miss) but maybe most news of such things doesn't trickle this far South since we built that 700 feet high wall of solid ice to stop th… hold on, that's not right, that's the other thing. ANYWAY, facts is – Set Astray who hail from Stirling, Scotland hit really fucking hard with their new EP The Way Of All and are well worth your time if getting involved in a mosh is your kind of thing. Like San Antonio's Bitter End, Set Astray pull off the trick of sounding just like turn-of-the-90's NYHC bands despite being from the wrong area and from the wrong era. Also like Bitter End, from whom Set Astray draw influence from in their downbeat, slow paced pounding, they're really good at it.
From the Lovecraft-ian artwork to the gigantic chugging beatdown in 'Internment' to the dangerous bounce of 'Sick' to the guest vocal guy who sounds like the dude from the Voodoo Glow Skulls (he really does), I'm straight up loving this. They're heavy as all fuck. You are moshing.
Released by Thanks For Nothing Records and Icebreaker Records, available to pre-order now.
Fusing an NYHC tough-guy smackdown with a grim English outlook, Nottingham's Bleak Reality are, for want of a better phrase, fucking heavy. Think Madball and Biohazard by way of the M1 Northbound, and you'll have a good idea of the type of baseball-bat-across-the-nose beatings that they deal out. This is the sort of music that injects testosterone and steroids into the listener via your headphones. Seconds into the opening track 'Fake Friends', I'm a giant. My stubble will dent razor blades. My t-shirt tenses across hulking muscles (as opposed to my pizza paunch). I'm a silverback gorilla. I'm in the pit. My vision is clouded. There's people all around me. They bounce off me. I'm unstoppable, a force of nature, a machine.
Of course, I remove my headphones and I'm sitting on my sofa. Location, Location, Location is on TV. Kirsty looks nice, Phil is dropping high amounts of double entendres. But for the brief moments that Bleak Reality's 3 track demo (two new ones, one cover song) courses through your veins, you're a mass of violence wearing a basketball vest.
Bleak Reality have been talked about in knowing circles for a few months now following their impressive Burden Of Shame EP, but with a Euro tour with War Charge on the horizon and on the strength of the accomplished pit-bait present on this new set of recordings, they should be a name that any self respecting HC'er is synonymous with. They don't break any moulds but they'll break faces instead, and most times that's all that truly matters. Lyrically we're in familiar territory, Bleak Reality riffing on the injustices and misery of modern life; friendships broken, betrayals and worthlessness. Don't expect any posi vibes with your breakdowns. And Bleak Reality certainly know how to write those, both of their tracks hitting the breaks in the closing moments, slowing the tempo and crushing your skull. It's pulse quickening stuff. There's also a slick cover of Crown Of Thornz's 'Love Sick', a hat tipped to their NYC influence.
Bleak Reality might not be as wickedly savage and unhinged as what we've seen from the ever-growing Atonement Records so far, with their violence coming in a more restrained and tense form. Spat through gritted teeth, fists clenched. But this is another solid (in every sense of the word) addition to Atonement's already impressive roster, still referencing the 90's, still kicking you in the neck.
Tape available now from Atonement Records (they're running out, get one quick) with a free download option also available. Or pick one up from the band on tour, dates below.
Chris Alliston is an aspiring illustrator from here in the UK who specialises in a highly detailed style. His work caught my eye on Instagram a few weeks ago (I didn't release he'd created the cover art to a record I actually own at this point) and I've been blown away by work of his that I've seen. With a couple of commissions from bands and record labels under his belt already, mark my words that you'll be hearing a lot from this guy as the wheels start turning. Below, check out some of his work and an interview where we discuss influences, motivations and long term goals. Bands, you've just found your next cover artist.
TTTN: Your work is incredibly detailed, how long does a piece normally take from start to finish?
CA : It really depends, if it's a full size piece I usually draw to a vinyl LP cover size which is 12 x 12 and it usually takes me around 4 weeks, maybe 5, from thinking of a concept to pencilling, to inking and then cleaning all my lines up and scanning.
Are there any artists in particular that inspired you to illustrate? Who would you consider important contemporary artists to be?
I think within the whole hardcore / doom spectrum, Sin-Eater was definitely the guy that pushed me into this sort of direction. I used to draw the stupidest stuff in high school (like just super gory) and artists like Sin-Eater, Richey Beckett, Paul Romano and Pushead definitely taught me to delve a lot deeper into my work, those guys are working with the biggest and coolest bands out there, so they stood out to me. Tony Roberts also is incredible. Essay Dee is a skate / comic artist that is nothing like my work but the guy is amazing and super detailed and its so fun to look at. I love all kinds of illustration whether its my style or not, I try to take in elements every style, there’s no harm in it and it sucks to be boxed in!
Outside of other artists and illustrators, what would you say your influences are when it comes to your work?
Music is number one. Sitting in and diving into youtube for 4 hours at a time just looking for obscure bands to listen to, from NYC hardcore to random New Orleans based bands. I could do that all day. I don’t read a lot, I get too distracted, but I can sit there for hours listening to records, folding out the sleeve and looking at the artwork. I love the woods too, a lot of my work is influenced by stuff I see taking short cuts through the woods, plants and flowers I’ve seen.
You've created cover art for the Limb release on Witch Hunter Records, have you done anything else like that? Would you like to create more art for labels and bands?
Yeah, 100%. I'm in the process of helping a few record labels out in the US with some releases, it can be a really long process waiting for words so I can get started but it's definitely worth it! The LIMB cover from last year was my first cover after I had decided to get into actual cover artwork. I've only been doing this style for maybe a year or two, and when that came along last year I thought it would be difficult because I'm literally all paper and ink, and although I’ve been spending my time perfecting my digital skills, I thought it would be like 90% digital work and I would have no idea what to do. Most 21 year olds seem to focus on their work being all digital. But Chris (Kaye – Witch Hunter Records) was a massive help and showed me step by step, so shout out to Chris and the LIMB dudes!
When creating artwork for bands, how do you approach that?
I usually get an email with a basic outline on what they are looking for, how many colours etc. I give the band a listen and then try and do my best to create something that represents the band, and myself, as best as possible. Then I get straight into laying some pencil down, send some sketches back and if they’re into it it's game on for me to start inking it, that’s the best part.
Following the development of digital media and record downloads, how important is physical album art?
I can never stress how important physical full size album art is. I’ve always thought that the layout and cover art is just as important as the music itself. Putting a 12” on full blast and looking at the artwork is what I call proper listening! Reading through the lyrics and looking at the work in full detail, at the size it was supposed to be enjoyed at. Digital downloads are super handy and I do it all the time, but if I buy an album on itunes and the record is also in a shop for £15, I'm still gonna go buy the record, to physically have it and own the artwork and to add it to a collection is the most important thing for sure.
What's your favourite piece of cover art, past or present? Also, if you could receive a commission from any band, who would it be?
This is so hard for me to answer, so I'm going to throw out a mixture of classics like, Metallica – Ride The Lightning, Electric Wizard – Black Masses, Brutality Will Prevail – Sleep Paralysis EP (by Sin Eater), Mastodon – Leviathan, Baroness – The Red Album, Black Flag – Everything Went Black, Slayer – Hell Awaits, Mobb Deep – The Infamous, Wu Tang – 36 Chambers, Soundgarden – Badmotorfinger.
God I could go on forever. As for a dream commission, I'm going to fan out and say Sabbath, or Electric Wizard, or a Kill Em All era Metallica. Or Bad Brains! I'm going to stay true to my 13 year old self here, we can all dream!
So what are your immediate plans, is there anything you're working on that you can tell us about? And where do you want to take your work eventually?
Well I’m in my first year still of my fine arts degree at Liverpool John Moore's. I'm planning to finish my second and third year there, then have a year off and work full time, save a bunch of money for a year and move over to the US. I have family that moved over to Philadelphia to get married when I was a kid, I went over when I was 5 and ever since I’ve needed to get back over there, I'd be happy working in a coffee shop with a studio and skateboarding every day but we'll see. For now I just wanna stay at university and draw everyday! Trying to work with some of the best bands out there that will let me represent them!
You can get in touch with Chris via his Facebook page, check out his Instagram feed (username – alliston6destroy) or email him to talk about working with him.