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 that 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 Expose (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 guitars 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
Written by Darke, follow him on the Twitter.
Madball are, and always have been, the very definition of Hardcore. Musically, aesthetically and lyrically they are a no bullshit summary of the genre. Chances are, if you are reading this then you likely already know that, and that should be reason enough alone to make sure you check out their new album.
The thing is, people often seem reluctant to visit Madball’s new material cause “It’s not going to be as good as…”, and maybe those people are right, maybe this isn’t as good as “Set it Off” or “Hold it Down” but Madball still know how to bring it. ‘Hardcore Lives’ still stands tall against anything else in the modern Hardcore scene, containing plenty of new tunes that’d comfortably sit among a Madball set of old.
From the unmistakable crunch and bounce of the intro alone you’d struggle to pick but a few hardcore releases this good in 2014. The track ‘Born Strong’ is a particular monster, featuring Candace Kucsulain of Walls of Jericho fame sounding as hard as ever, and is the stand out track for me, although ‘Spirit’ that follows is right up there with the classics too.
Basically, if you’ve ever enjoyed a Madball record you are doing yourself a disservice not giving this one the time because, simply put, it’s good and a good Madball record still trumps higher praise for lesser bands in my book. Worth noting too with this being on Nuclear Blast that there is the potential for this to be many peoples introduction to Madball, and possibly hardcore in general, and I feel that ‘Hardcore Lives’ is a more than worthy ambassador to that crowd.
Available now from Nuclear Blast
Rough Hands – Nothing’s Changed
Coming on veritable leaps and bounds since their self titled debut EP released almost exactly 12 months ago, Rough Hands are back with a set of new tracks that mark them out as ones to definitely keep an eye on. Full disclosure: I gave that debut EP a… shall we say… less than enthusiastic review in a magazine back when it was released for being fairly lacklustre, so it’s particularly exciting to hear them return showing a vast improvement to every aspect of their sound.
While they remain a modern hardcore band in every sense (cues are taken from BWP’s later efforts), there’s no lack of all-consuming venom and fury; songs hit like a bottle to the back of the head; Alex Dench’s vocals are caustic and threaten to burn through your speakers and the forceful sway of ‘Conscientia’ and it’s jerking, angular beatdown proves that they can bring the riddims and the mosh. There’s traces littered throughout that show they’ve got plenty of ideas cooking too, so expect big things from these London based misery-peddlers.
Released by Holy Roar, vinyl or digital, get it here.
Dowsing / Annabel split
Count Your Lucky Stars proudly displays two of the finest bands on its impressive roster here, with Dowsing and Annabel providing a masterclass in low-key indie-pop.
Hearts are worn on sleeves, emotions are running high and, I’ll admit, hearing the sublime Dowsing shout “fuck you” at the start of one of their songs feels a bit like hearing your mum swear for the first time.
Annabel pull off a particularly cool trick by re-working a lyric from an older track and turning it into a whole song, with the economically effective “I wanna be with you!!” line from ‘Our Days Were Numbered’ transformed into the over-driven and driving ‘Forever’; the best song Weezer never wrote. Life affirming stuff from all involved.
Released by Count Your Lucky Stars, get it on vinyl here or download here
Slaves BC / Grace & Thieves split
‘Turning upside-down crosses upside down since 2010′, four years in and Slaves BC show no sign of letting up whatsoever. A supremely primal dose of guttural, sludge-infused, doom-laden metallic hardcore is what they prescribe and they continue to deliver it with a particularly nasty bite. Of special note among the bludgeoning fury is ‘Two Witnesses’, which halfway through reveals a sinister guitar melody that coils around the jagged guitars like a viper.
Sharing this 12″ are Grace & Thieves, a band who formed in ’99, split in ’02 and reformed 10 years later. They’re as authentic as you’ll get if you’re looking for an old school metal-punk hybrid; sounding like they belong in the late 80′s (in a good way) and delivering driving, tuneful and deeply pissed off punk rock with an ear for melancholy and despair.
Released by Veritas Vinyl, get it here.
So Hideous – Last Poem / First Light
This year’s Sunbather? So Hideous are in with a chance. Eschewing some of the more optimistic aspects of Deafheaven’s sound, this NYC based group are a raging maelstrom; combining black metal’s isolating chill with the introspective embrace of shoegaze.
Opening track ‘Rising’ is blistering, and actually performs a bit of a bait and switch, as the remaining tracks don’t quite reach that level of malevolent fury again. But what follows is a punishing and intricate set of songs that drag you through bleak, cacophonous riffage and occasional moments of pensive calm.
Each song has the bombast of a grand finale; the effect is a dizzying display of grandiose metal that easily stands up to its peers.
Released by Prosthetic Records, get it here
This split EP from two of metal’s most nihilistic bands would make watching an hour long looping video of your family dog being stabbed to death seem like a pretty good time. Denver, USA’s Primitive Man continue their war against your soul, following last year’s startlingly bleak Scorn LP, with ‘When Getting High Is Not Enough’, an 8 minute descent into a sludge/doom hybrid nightmare. This is a band who are the aural equivalent of being suffocated with a rag soaked in piss and oil. A band who rely on neither sludge nor doom too heavily and instead of meaty, grooving guitars or ethereal epic pounding they instead present abject misery wrapped around suffocating slo-mo riffs. A band who will sometimes forgo recognisable song structure completely and meander off down a death-jazz rabbit hole of pain and anxiety. A band who are every bit as ferocious as you may have heard.
Flip this 10″ over and you’ll find Denamrk’s Hexis, following up from this year’s blisteringly spiteful LP Abalam with their track. ‘Excrucio’. Don’t be fooled; while it might sound like a Harry Potter spell, it’s actually a track that exudes blasphemy and clandestine menace. So arcane do its hornet-swarm guitars and wretching vocals sound that you’ll be dowsing yourself in Holy Water before they’re finished with you in an attempt to absolve your sins. They present such a deafening cacophony that it’s almost hard to find your way, and they gleefully toy with their central riff, twisting it this way and that, expanding it and collapsing it before eviscerating it and leaving you with wails of feedback and a slow, tense build up that never releases, only coils around you tighter.
Terrifically nasty stuff from all involved.
Released by Halo Of Flies and available to order from here
I started this website that you’re currently looking at back in January 2012. That’s over 14 years ago. In dog years. And even longer when you consider how quickly music and it’s associated fashions, trends and scenes change, especially when talking about hardcore. The old adage goes: ‘hardcore will never die, but you will‘, and that’s largely true. But while it may be eternal, hardcore certainly doesn’t stay the same. Indeed, it will even force itself to a point of near extinction from time to time too. UKHC in particular has had a penchant for ebbing and flowing like a restless ocean throughout it’s relatively short existence; when it’s going good it’s going good, but when it’s going bad it’s fucking awful.
I would consider the climate of UKHC back in January 2012 to be the precise reason for this website even existing. As I’ve mentioned on these pages before, it was the emergence of a new set of tracks by Wayfarer, (a short lived but excellent UKHC band channeling early Integrity and ancient history to create a Norse-fuelled Clevo battering) released as a limited cassette box-set that caused me to commit digital pen to digital paper. Quite simply, it was such a fucking cool release that I needed somewhere to talk about it. And thus, a blog was born. Due to a server changeover a few months into this site’s existence, those first few months and the handful of posts contained within are lost to the winds of time. You can’t read what I said about Wayfarer anymore, but you can listen to their music here. So I vote that you do so.
Anyway. Back then, I’d often be found shouting into the endless void that is the Internet about how UKHC was going through such an incredible purple patch. Bands and labels were springing up all over the country and showing not just a commendable work ethic but proving that they had the tunes, ideas and attitudes to match. It was easy back then to assume it was just another peak, soon to be followed by an inevitable trough. Relatively speaking, 2 years isn’t a very long passage of time to to allow you to look back on something and pass judgment on it’s sustained quality. But this is UKHC we’re talking about and, much like dog years, time doesn’t work the same way as the outside world. Bands within smaller, localised hardcore movements, like UKHC, tend to have a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it lifespan. Bands appear, (more often than not ‘featuring members of…’), play some shows, release a demo and before you can say “limited edition 7″, they’re gone. So you can see, two years is a mammoth amount of time for things to have been going so well. To be able to look back now and say that, even before 2012, as far back as say 2008, things have been on the up and up? Well, that’s quite something. UKHC is better and stronger than it’s ever been. And it shows absolutely no sign of slowing down. The Internet is certainly owed some of the credit for why things have been running so smoothly, that’s another talking point in itself, but facts is facts; the bands and the record labels right now are second to none.
Case in point; the band Renounced and their label Carry The Weight. Regular readers of this site and followers of any social media outlets where TTTN rears it’s head will know that we’re big fans of both that band and indeed that label around these parts, and so it’s always a delight when two great things collide to create something so beautiful. Which is an odd choice of words I guess when talking about hardcore, but by channeling both the sensitive side and the crunching heaviness of late-90′s US metalcore, Renounced, with their debut LP The Melancholy We Ache, have created something that fits that tag perfectly.
The influences are worn clearly for all to see; 7 Angels 7 Plagues, Red Roses For A Blue Lady and, undoubtedly, this sub-genre’s breakout band Poison The Well are all nodded towards, often quite blatantly. Now, UKHC is at it’s best when it’s headed in one of two directions- forging its own path or paying it’s debt to the past. Renounced are in the latter camp, and they nail their take on this sound, but they imbue The Melancholy We Ache with such a passion, energy and dedication that they sidestep any possible accusations of merely copying and emerge with a record that could go toe to toe with their influences . Depending on your own experiences, Renounced will either be tugging at your nostalgia-glands or opening your eyes to the euphoria of blending seething agression with introspective sadness. Either way, they sound so fresh, so alive and so perfect that it’ll be impossible to not be driven to cry-mosh until you collapse.
‘The Lies We Burn’ is their manifesto; a grandstanding, spine-tingling, riff abusing monster of a song with a tear-jerking midsection that will turn any pit to a into a self-help clinic. Their ability to make the switch between cold, hateful, devastating brutality that makes the ears bleed and warm, eerily calm, emotionally bruising sections that make the heart bleed is their strongest suit. These two polar opposite moods never feel forced together; Renounced craft their songs’ movements with a masters hand, something they display in the way that ‘The Lies We Burn’ handbrake turns from a beatdown nightmare into a dream-like section of blissful, quiet melody with a skill and grace that many bands lack.
But it’s not all split so cleanly down the middle. Renounced show off just as much flair when they smash good cop/bad cop together, creating chest-pounding moments of volume driven melancholy. ‘Aching’ is the best song on a record filled with excellent material, and quite possibly the best UKHC song I’ll hear this year. It’s blending of venomous aggression with a downbeat sensibility, brief glimpses of clean guitar and some luxurious melodies create a song of epic proportions. No mean feat considering it’s only 3 minutes long. And when they flip the switch all the way and go for full on, balls-out? They can do that too. ‘Mistakes That Dig Graves’ rivals any metalcore band for outright nastiness; angular riffs rub against shrieking alarm-clock guitars and a momentary pause where a gentle melody pokes through is played with a sadistic grin, coming off more like a glimpse through the window of a torture chamber than providing a sense of calm.
By looking to the past, Renounced have provided another step forwards into UKHC’s future. They prove that it’s not always about progressing a sound, but sometimes about perfecting one that already exists. They’re proving, if there was ever any doubt, that UKHC is confident enough to be making material that will stack up against its influences and that will be remembered alongside them.
Released by Carry The Weight Records, download it here or buy the vinyl here
You know Withdrawal. I certainly know Withdrawal. You sure as shit don’t need my sorry backside telling you to listen to Withdrawal, do you? But they just unveiled a new demo track from their forthcoming and eagerly awaited new LP, due later this year (possibly), and so here we are. And, hey, on the off-chance that you’re in the dark about who Canada’s most misanthropic, hate-spewing citizens who are routinely praying for human extinction are, then, well, prepare to be schooled.
The 150 seconds of this brand new track ‘Dream Catcher’ finds Withdrawal conveying pretty much the same feeling as they did last year on their split with Young And In The Way, that feeling being “fuck it all you bunch of cunts“. What’s most exciting here is that, despite Withdrawal continuing to tread the way that Ringworm have paved, and despite them not really mixing their sound up, it’s still so fucking good. SO GOOD. What they’re showing is a continued raising of their game. Each new release hits that bit harder; thrashes that bit more savagely; is delivered with that bit more venom. Withdrawal are sharpening their chosen weapon with each new recording we’re presented with, and ‘Dream Catcher’ is no exception. There’s a raw and uncontrolled fury here that even the new Ringworm lacked; there’s no overly polished sheen, no pin-sharp perfectionism; just cock-out, dancing in the forest, wearing someone’s face as a mask, drinking from a skull, wild-eyed lunacy. It’s the real goddamned deal. Prepare to mosh for satan when this LP drops.