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Review & exclusive Stream : Iced Out – Jukai 7″

It’s common for a band, as they move from release to release, to be always shifting up a gear; taking things up a notch to reach new extremes. Durham’s Iced Out (a band who we’ve loved long time) always sounded like they were on the tipping point of a full on nervous breakdown right from their very first release; scabrous, manic, savage and totally unhinged. It’s a sound they capitalized on and pushed even further with last years split with Church Of Fuck label-mates Razoreater; their two tracks coming on like a blade to the gut. A desperate, manic, “I’m fucking taking you all with me” dose of whacked-out hardcore. So it’s quite a surprise to hear that they’ve taken a slightly different stance on their new 7″, the upcoming Church Of Fuck Records / Moshtache Records released Jukai.

While remaining totally true to themselves (and with the continued backing in the recording booth of Joe No Studio), they’ve dialed back the nervous, twitching energy and pumped up the muscle. What was once like a knife fight with a paranoid schizophrenic now feels more like an assured beating from a seasoned boxer. This thing is mammoth. A sludge-infused, hardcore clobbering. Essentially, what they’ve done is the equivalent of that bit in 300 where the soldiers bunch up and form an impenetrable phalanx; they’ve consolidated, tightened it all up, pulled everything in together and what you’re left with is a concrete block of sound, a violent behemoth of noise that could level a city.

To paraphrase Miley Cyrus: they’ve come in like a wrecking ball, all they wanted was to break your face.

Yup, fans of Harms Way or Dead End Path take note; Iced Out are pushing a low-slung, pummeling style of hardcore that will flatten you out like being ran over by a stampede of bulls. Ultra heavy, ultra nihilistic and supremely pissed off. Check that noise below. Stream it until you’re punching through walls.

Be sure to peep the info below that for details on ordering the 7″ and where to catch Iced Out live for the Jukai release shows

Iced Out will be doing a release weekender for ‘Jukai’ on the following dates:

Friday 25 April – Trillians, Newcastle (w. 40 Oz, Battery Humans, Moral Decay)
Saturday 26 April – The Lectern, Brighton (w. Old Skin, Teef, Hate Fuck)
Sunday 27 April – Kraak Gallery, Manchester (w. Old Skin, Trudger, Downpour)

The band will have 30 release weekender editions of the 7″ with an exclusive patch and slipcase, only available at these shows.

Order the 7″ from:
Church Of Fuck
Moshtache Records

Review : Blistered – Soul Erosion

Citizens of earth in 2014 are certainly not left wanting when it comes to hardcore bands jocking the steez of the 90′s. At the risk of sounding like a miserable old fucker, it’s no exaggeration to say that the results are an almost perfect split between bands that are producing snooze inducing bore-fests or material that’s so lackluster it actually calls for a human cull. But there are bands that manage to soak up all of those influences that have been marinating in the consciousness for over 20 years now and produce a piece of work that just gets it so right that the only reasonable response is to kick off a pit in your living room and put your fist through the window. Blistered are such a band. Blistered gets it right.

First things first; the production on this thing. Either by happy accident or magnificently on purpose, these tracks are crispier than Gary Lineker’s bed-sheets. Seeing as it’s mixed by Taylor Young (of Nails and Twitching Tongues) and mastered by Brad Boatright (who has seemingly mastered every hardcore and metal record that you’ve heard in the last couple years; when does this dude sleep?), we can assume the latter. These two audio technicians perfectly resurrect the sound of a 90′s hardcore band to the point where Soul Erosion sounds like a forgotten demo tape that’s been found down the back of someone’s dresser and released in the hope that no one will notice. The ultimate hardcore troll. But don’t take that as a slur, take it as the total opposite. Nothing - nothing - hits like a 90′s breakdown when it’s pulled off with all cylinders blazing and Soul Erosion carries the force of being clobbered with a cruise ship.

But the magic isn’t all happening behind the desk because in the booth, Florida’s Blistered are packing some mean song writing flair. They know their audience well; the speak/shout vocal delivery is mastered with the aggression dropped for all the right words (within the first track, “contempt” is spoken, bookended by yells; a go-to HC word with a 100% hit rate) and the screams are pitched at the perfect level of unhinged despair. Check that breakdown as that opening track, ‘Rusted’, closes out – a multi-part monster; starting with a staccato rhythm that grows more punctuated, it’s a dancefloor decimator. The pace is kept up, each track like a noose tightening around the neck. It’s a job to keep up with ‘Retribution’, a 90 second assault that coils screaming guitar high notes around chugs made of concrete. It kicks into a skipping pace at the mid point, is blown wide open with the notes ringing out (“I’ll watch you burn) before it’s snapped back into shape for a neck breaking finish.

It’s not always about doing something new, sometimes it’s just as moving to hear something that might sound old but is executed perfectly. Blistered more than accomplish that here.

Due for physical release on April 8th via 6131 Records, grab the digital copy now

Review : Pornography – Hex b/w Golden Sunshine

FRONTOpening your latest EP with the lyric “I have spent the last decade wanting to die” is a fairly good indication that you haven’t just bought a one way ticket to the laugh factory. Yes, whether you’re new to Anderson Cook’s Pornography or a returning member, it’s clear from the outset that things haven’t gotten any better. If anything, it feels like things are worse. He may be returning backed by other musicians this time around (Tyler Coburn of fellow Nashville noise makers Yautja pounds the drums, Jared Moran on bass) but the feeling of crushing isolation and suffocating despair is more palpable than ever.

Indeed, Pornography has always felt so singular and deeply personal that it seems almost odd that these two new tracks have been played and recorded by a group of people rather than just Cook himself. Shibby Poole (also of Yautja, closing that particular circle even tighter) is credited with recording duties, bringing the total of listed personnel up to 4 (maths, there), taking the creation process for these tracks even further away from the image I’ve always had of Cook just howling in agony by himself in a darkened room as he throws his body into the drums and guitars and captures the outcome.

Which isn’t to say that it still doesn’t sound like that. On Pornography’s previous release Cur, unleashed last year, Anderson exhibited more structure than ever before, almost pushing his music into the realms of categorization with its doom touchstones and graspable song structure. Here, that’s mostly eschewed (although it retains its doom sensibilities and then some), and what remains are two twisting, turning works that plunge you into total darkness with only a sputtering candle to light the way, dragging you along on a deeply miserable journey that you might not be wholly prepared for. To call them snail-paced would be like calling Hell a bit warm, as both ‘Hex’ and ‘Golden Sunshine’ thunder along like a slow motion Godzilla; swathes of corroded guitars punctuated by solemn pounds from the drums,with only ‘Golden…’ breaking free for a brief moment of violent release.

It’s serious stuff, and certainly not an EP to spin if you’re feeling sorry for yourself, cause chances are that afterwards you’ll feel a fuck of a lot worse. Pornography have always sounded like the last breath of a tortured soul – not so much post-noise or post-doom, more like post-humanity- and both tracks here have all the hope and optimism of a suicide-pact afterparty.

Available for free here   |   due for release on a lathe cut 7″ from Rot Iron Records

Review : Ewige Schlangenkraft – Dharmadhatu

a3693964151_2Crawling forth from the darkest reaches of the cosmos once again, Ewige Schlangenkraft are back with 9 more tracks of interdimensional aural insanity. Showing scant regard for their own mental state, your eardrums or anything that could be considered 'a tune', England's answer to R'lyeh's house band yet again sound more like they're channeling indescribable horrors from another level of reality rather than jamming together in a studio. And, yet again, the results are bewilderingly, disturbingly, wonderfully fucked up.

Dharmadhatu works less as a series of tracks that you'll skip between and revisit on their own, and more as one complete 14 minute saga of audio intimidation. Two members of Cease To Exist are responsible for what's contained within and there's a little cross pollination with Cthulhu Youth and Sesso Violento so if you're in the know, those names alone will give you a sense of the transcendent terror captured here.

Even with prior knowledge, Ewige still throw you in at the deep end. While you can still pick out a black metal nod here or a punk riff there, for the most part they avoid any obvious influence touchstones and remain borderline genre-less, post-everything and more like a window into unimaginable psychological trauma than an actual band. And to quote Mick Hucknall, if you don't know me by now, I mean that As A Good Thing.

I guess I could be overblowing it a bit; Ewige are far from just formless noise, and they're not as despair-inducing as say, Portal, but there's something in the way that they put it all together that makes it seem terrifying. The bands admitted approach to creating their material (“written and recorded in a few hours with little effort or thought”) belies the experience; the fact that everything seems so thrown together, and the way all the individual elements rub against each other in total disharmony is a credit to it. It's a Rubik's Cube; try and get your head around one facet of it and the rest of it doesn't really make sense. But embrace the chaos, let it consume you and when it all clicks into place, the sensation borders on orgasmic.

Available for free download here

 

Best Band Ever Of The Week – The Quarry

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Branding The Quarry as our Best Band Ever Of  The Week (an irregular feature if there ever was one) is almost an insult to them due to the fact that We The Disease came out over two years ago, but cards and underwear on the table, I’ve only recently caught wind of them. Anyway, music isn’t about timing man, or something, it’s about the riffs, yeah? And, like the ancient Chinese proverb says “A good riff never grow stale“.

The Quarry are, to be blunt, fucking massive. They come from London, our fine nation’s capital city, and this band have such a gargantuan sound that in my (admittedly skewed) minds eye, they are towering over the landscape and humping The Gherkin. The buzz around their recent victory at the Metal 2 The Masses competition (where they’re now through to the quarter finals competing for a slot at Bloodstock) is what really rammed them home, and once I’d pointed my internet towards their Bandcamp and let them kick my back doors in (figuratively) and smashed my way around the house with them on at full volume (literally), I was hooked.

a2095154197_2I mean, they are a recipie for absolute success in my book – their riffs are monoliths of noise that will blot out the sun; their perfect fusion of  crossover hardcore, old school thrash, big bastard grooves and ignorant mosh will reduce your brain to mush and the fact that they have songs themed around Warhammer 40K (so Corehammer should take note) means that you can stomp through your floorboards while legitimately thinking about ORCS.

Not convinced? How about the vitriolic Trash Talk vocals in ‘Deluge’ that rip across hulking blues-grooves that eventually break down so hard you’ll shit your pants and the pants of the person next to you. Or the ridiculously bombastic metal gallops that open ‘Insurgency’ and lead onto guitar work that would make Lucifer weep with joy. Or the anthemic ‘Worms’, where the only reasonable response is to try and punch a hole in the sky and which even packs in some trusty metalcore guitar “REET REET REET” sounds.

The energy contained within these 4 tracks is palpable. Palpable. Skip tomorrow mornings coffee and play this as loud as possible and then RUN to work.

Available to download from The Quarry’s Bandcamp, iTunes, or listen on Spotify . Check in with them via Facebook and Twitter.

Keep an eye out on Kaiju Records, The Quarry’s new home, for future material.

Review : Tiger Flowers – Dead Hymns

12inchJacket_offsetMagnificent of beard and tremendous of noise, NYC’s Tiger Flowers have been busy earning a significant following in the underground of their home state with their attention grabbing live performances. With Dead Hymns, their debut LP released by Melotov Records (a label that’s always brining the goods), their raucous barrage of spazzing, intricate, algebraic metal should rightly start slapping faces the world over and turn them into a name that everyone knows.

Despite this being their debut LP though, Tiger Flowers are relatively long in the tooth. Their 5 year tenure as an active band (although only amassing a microscopic discography of one EP in that time) has ensured that Dead Hymns feels like the work of a 4 musicians who are fully focused, brimming with imagination and in total control of their sound.

And it’s a sound that, while unavoidably, completely familiar, Tiger Flowers put their own spin on. They peddle a grimy, technical, sometimes imperceivable style of metalcore that borrows from genre greats of the old school. Think Rorschach, think Deadguy and think, more recently Vilipend; all bands that can bludgeon and bewilder with a complicated prowess but whose secret weapon remains their ability to weave threads of awareness, of melancholy and suppressing sadness in among the chaos. Tiger Flowers nail this perfectly; a cloud of downtrodden misery hangs over all of Dead Hymns running time, and it’s this that sets them apart from a million other bands with fancy time signatures. By showing their softer side, they hit harder.

Their frontman Jesse Madre (who looks like a metal Ben Kingsley) commands all of this perfectly, peppering the musical warfare with disarmingly heartfelt lyrics, deftly dancing between beautiful and the bizarre. “I was always too much teeth” he growls during standout track ‘Suicide Giants’ (dental themes are returned to a few times), “and sometimes I can still feel your hand in mine”. It’s never made too explicit where his feeling are pointing, but it’s this obliqueness that works in its favour; the lyrics a confusing haze to match the rings that the music is running around you; ensuring Dead Hymns has a mystifying, bewildering quality. It’s an LP that leaves an impression, and it’s something that lingers long after the last song ends.

Released by Melotov Records, available to order now w/instant download

Review : Lord Mantis – Death Mask

LMThis months Breaking News : extreme metal band has risqué cover art! In other equally unexpected stories : it rains in England and the pope does indeed shit in the woods. Yes, if you having moral issues I feel bad for you son, because if you walk away from Lord Mantis’ Death Mask LP enraged by what some people are claiming is ‘trans-phobic artwork’ (admirably rebuked by vocalist Charlie Fell here), then you’re missing out on a record that’ll surely be topping the Best Of 2014 lists come the end of the year.

Lord Mantis always have been a putrid, depraved and vile bunch whose corrosive blend of rotten death metal and soul-scourging sludge is like a balm to the soul for those who feel the noose of life sometimes grips a little too tight. Here, Once again backed by the stunningly on-point record label Profound Lore, their latest offering is all of the above times infinity, and is the aural equivalent of having a plastic bag pulled over your face while being punched repeatedly until your nose shatters into your brain. It’s that good.

Yes, Death Mask is relentlessly barbaric, and along with the latest release from Indian (whose vocalist Dylan O’Toole appears here on guest duties) shows what happens when a familiar sound is pushed to its limit and then pushed a bit further. Something that is no better exemplified than in Fell’s vocals; a truly sick, desperate wretching that conveys true suffering and misery; a cacophonous, bowel-loosening shriek with a multitude of nuances, quirks and tics ensuring that when he’s not screaming his guts out his words crackle and splinter like rocks and brittle wood falling down a chasm into hell.

Such is the barrage of hatred and volume encased in the first few tracks that it’d be easy (and fun too) to emphasize the audio-violence; like in the title track, when it breaks down and flips between fits of jerking sludge and sandstorm-esque grind blasts as the vocals suffocate beneath it and sound like a chainsaw rummaging through flesh, before a sickening rhythm kicks in accompanied by a… I don’t know what it is… some sort of hissing chant? I Don’t know, but it’s horrid. Or in ‘Possession Prayer’, a mechanical, monotonous slice of industrial-death that flirts with electronics until it’s eventually consumed by digital glitches and decays out of earshot with vocal murmurs and ghostly hums. Or the asphyxiating, claustrophobic tightness of ‘Body Choke’, an opener of epic proportions that drags you through total torment and spits you out into a colossal lurching rhythm towards the end replete with clanging noises like the bell tolls of a murder cult ceremony and crowned by terrifying sounds erupting from Fell’s throat, where the description ‘inhuman screams’ just doesn’t cut it.

I mean … fucks sake. You will be battered.

But it’s the moments that are dialed down that have an even greater effect, and show off Lord Mantis’ ability to plumb even greater depths with less volume. ‘You Will Gag For The Fix’, sitting at 4 tracks in, is the first chance you’re given to catch your breath. But even then, Lord Mantis don’t let up; snatching away the chance to rest by providing a track that, although quiet and serene, is so ominous and foreboding that it compresses your lungs like a lead weight on your chest. Even more immersive is penultimate track ‘Coil’, a deeply depressing experience built around a serpentine riff that aches like a bruise; it’s bleak melody at once oddly touching, totally disarming and completely stifling. The vocals, ran through an electronic filter, never get beyond spoken level, but arguably cut just as deep as the rest of the record and feel like an instruction to drop out of life completely.

Basically, Death Mask is a phenomenal record. But it is a completely exhausting listen. One that will ask for every inch of you, and take it. And then take some more. It’s far from a pleasant experience, as the catharsis that is being achieved by the band is so extreme that it’s hard to pull yourself out from under it. I cant listen to this record without feeling deeply affected and hugely unsettled, as though it’s providing a mirror that throws things back at me that I feel uncomfortable confronting and admitting to. It highlights the ugliness in life that scares me the most; it magnifies the fear I feel in knowing that I’m relatively powerless to protect the things I love from the poisonous existence that is surrounding us. Far, far beyond the controversy surrounding the cover art, Death Mask is genuinely shocking. You can’t really ask for much more from extreme art, can you?

Death Mask is due to be released by Profound Lore on April 29th, pre-order it here.

Review : Cauldron Black Ram – Stalagmire

Written by xRedx

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Dang. This record is dripping with evil. It seeps from every twisted riff, every word of tortured belching vocals, every cavernous drum fill, and boy does it sound great! The fact that Cauldron Black Ram are “pirate themed old school Death Metal” shouldn’t put you off one iota; cheese-peddling snooze-merchants Alestorm this is most certainly not. Whilst that description may sound like an odd prospect on paper and conjure up some aforementioned cringeworthy images, never fear as there isn’t a single folk melody or “Ahoy me hearties!” in sight as the pirate theme stays firmly in the grim lyrical storytelling context, and all I can say is thank flip for that.

An admittedly dizzying and disorientating listen at times due to the sheer amount of influences smashed together within it’s thirty three minute running time, Stalagmire is by no means novelty or quirky. In fact the bar for successful stylistic blends has been set to a new height with this album, so pleasing, interesting, and meaty are its nine tracks. Cauldron Black Ram have fused together some notable influences and molded an incredibly strong and unique sound that certainly makes them stand out in the sea of HM-2′s and leaves one hoping that these chaps will get the recognition they deserve in this post-Wolverine Blues climate. Scraping Black Metal cries and gurgling death growls sit atop a heady swamp of Bolt Thrower mid-paced crushing, twisted Celtic Frost angularity, and an (un)healthy splattering of early AND late Carcass (Swansong is brilliant, fuck you). Can you really fault that sort of a combination?

As has been written by many reviewers in recent years it is very easy these days to write, record, and ultimately release your own material to a high standard due to technology and its relative cheapness. This is all well and good but let us not forget the humble producer. The work exhibited here is excellent with every chunky riff, low end squelch, and snare shot ringing true and clear without ever approaching polished or sterile. A special mention for the fantastic vocal production as you can feel each line oozing out of the speakers like a Lovecraftian sea-monstrosity, at once suffocating and ethereal.

Having been around for just shy of twenty years(!) you’d have thought that the Metal masses would have woken up to the tar-fueled juggernaut that is Cauldron Black Ram but apparently not. However, things could and should be about to change. Perhaps it would be a valid claim that their somewhat isolated geographical location contributes to the overall under-the-radar path these dudes have flown so far (Australia is a LONG way away folks) but with the ever gnarly 20 Buck Spin behind the unleashing of this evil beast of a record we should see a rise in recognition and headbanging for this foul riff-mob.

To be perfectly honest, I struggled to write about this record because it was so hard to not just sack it all off and headbang. I would much prefer to have been standing one foot on the prow of a galleon and listening to it without distraction, practicing my claw-und-frown pose. It is a true testament to the writing skill and bludgeoning riff-ability of this scurvy crew that I made the effort to weigh anchor and cobble together this review about this collection of grim sea shanties without sentencing them to walk the plank.

Released by 20 Buck Spin, grab it from their store

Review : Teledrome – Self-Titled

Written by Nathan G O’Brien,  follow him on Twitter

teledrome-frontCards on the table, this one caught me totally caught me off guard, and in the best way possible. I mean how many hardcore bands screaming about “until the day we die” can you take, am I right? So when some super ’80s style digi-punk lands in the review pile, it gives my eardrums a boner and my actual boner a hard-on. Dark, moody, and synth-heavy; this self-titled debut LP by Calgary, Alberta’s Teledrome hits somewhere between historically revered favorites like Gary Numan or Duran Duran and revivalists like Total Control or Lost Sounds; although definitely less aggressive than the latter.

Perhaps the most unavoidable comparison though is to Digital Leather. Ryan Sadler, the main man behind Teledrome, sounds like a dead ringer for Shawn Foree on the mic. Or, perchance, that should be the other way around? I don’t know; let’s just say they sound like each other and call it good.

Sadler has crafted an album that walks the line between morose, teary-eyed new wave and bouncy, irresistible electro-pop songs that could be playing during the high school dance scene in a ‘80s teen movie. “New Motion” invokes the sulky romanticism of The Cure, while the upbeat rhythm of “Dial Tone” has me pirouetting around the room like Bruce Springsteen and Courteney Cox in the “Dancin’ in the Dark” video. Although the overall driving force is symbol-free drum programming, brain-searing synths, and robotic pronunciations, there’s plenty of heartstring-tugging basslines and agitated guitars to appeal to my punk rock sensibilities. Songs like “Antenna” and “Blood Drips” are a little less idiosyncratic, and allow for a bit of erratic thrashing about.

It’s funny, as a kid riding the bus to school in the ‘80s this was the kind of stuff that dominated pop radio. I burned through millions of AA batteries on my knockoff Walkman trying to hear anything but synth; rap, punk, hair metal, R&B, you name it. Thankfully nostalgia doesn’t play by the rules because, holy crap, does it ever sound so great in the present day. This has given my ears so many orgasms they’re dripping semen. If I had a Delorean and 2.21 gigawatts I’d set the dial to 1983, go back, find John Hughes, convince him to make a movie about neon wayfarer and lipstick-clad robots that break out of weekend detention to take over the World, and then use this as the soundtrack.

Released by FDH Records (USA) and P.Trash Records (Europe)

Best Band Ever Of The Week – The Dog

Written by xRedx

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The Dog are fast (ten tracks in eleven minutes), The Dog are stompy (second half of ‘Bitterness’ is a side-to-side dream), The Dog are Hardcore (wicked styles). Fusing traditional Hardcore swagger with ripping Fastcore is nothing particularly new but that doesn’t mean it can’t still be exciting and this burly Polish crew have hit upon the magic formula for perfect, circle pit-inducing bravado in sonic form. Obtuse off-kilter lyrics are snarled and spat over the top of deceptively fast riffs and dirty bass, all brought to life by a stellar production job worthy of any and all praise. I shan’t drop names for stylistic comparison because who cares? Just click the Bandcamp link, press play, and pretend you’re a pit boss with a pair of big shiny boots and a psycho stare.


Simply put, if you’re into Hardcore and want a cool new band to jock then The Dog are the one. This is a stick-it-on-and-play-it-five-times-in-a-row type of record. One spin is not enough. You have been warned.