There’s a moment during Employed To Serve’s ‘Perfect Smiles and Crooked Teeth’, one of their older tracks re-recorded here for their Holy Roar Records debut, that’s always been a moment of such bottled electricity that it’ll make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. One part beatdown, one part nu-metal call-back, 100% crushing. Following bursts of spazzing technicality, the song halts. Guitars stutter and chug until a note is bent, droned and dropped down the neck. High notes chime and rub together like rusted metal. To keep in rhythm would be to break your neck. It’s devastating. It comes at about the midway point, and hits with such a force that it’s a wonder you recover.
Growing from a two-piece to a foursome with two new, permanent members, jettisoning the drum machine (which always sounded pretty authentic anyway) and shearing what little excess fat they carried in their song structures, Employed To Serve have managed to turn this standout moment into something that doesn’t just give you goosebumps, it damn near turns you inside out. And this accounts for about 30 seconds worth of running time. Just imagine what else they’ve got to show you.
There’s a comfortable comparison to be made between them and their new label mates Rolo Tomassi. Both are fronted by women whose vocal chords could make grown men weep; both forge songs that are erratically plotted, unpredictable and scabrous. But Whereas Rolo Tomassi dance a line between math-terror and quiet grace, Employed To Serve are like feral dogs going for the throat at all times.
They always were at their best when going full throttle, and with the sludged out melodic sections prevalent in their early recordings cast aside in favour of all violence, all the time; the effect is dizzying. There’s nowhere to hide during the 12 minute running time as they drag you from grindcore pillar to bludgeoning post, culminating in the brain-fucking ‘Serve’; a 3 minute blast of bonkers, dripping in ideas and designed to penetrate your skull with the force of a bullet. High-speed hardcore, down-tuned jerking riffage, spastic breakdowns and Justine Jones’ rabid vocals all combine to create a track, and ultimately, an EP that firmly announces Employed To Serve as one of the UK’s most creative bands.
Order now from Holy Roar Records
It’s heartening to see that only a short time into its existence, Church Of Fuck Records can draw two bands together from its impressive roster and form a split release that feels like an actual event. With support from Swarm Of Nails Records, this meeting of the most rotten of minds is a perfect marriage of two bands who, while coming at it from different angles, share a similar outlook on the world. The outlook being: that it is fucked.
Which, ok, isn’t exactly a message that anyone well versed in underground aggressive music will be new to, but both Esoteric Youth and Caïna continue to approach the matter and their material with an on-going and ever-increasing veracity, vigour and venom.
It’s also good to see Andrew Curtis-Brignell continuing his recent resurrection of Caïna, following a rarities set last year on COF, with two brand new tracks that see him pushing his one-man black metal envelope even further. There’s been talk from some critics about the lack of recording quality here, and the detrimental effect that it has on Brignell’s material. To sum it up: that’s a load of old shit. Firstly, if you’re coming to underground black metal and expecting, even wanting, slick production, then I think you’re in the wrong game, son.
Secondly, it sounds fantastic. Caïna’s sound, taking cues from 90′s Norwegian fare, is hollowed out and husk-like; the wretched and scratching guitars scraping against Brignell’s dry and crackling vocals, the distant and detailed drumming providing a skeletal back-bone that compliments but never dominates. Lo-fi it may be, but there’s a clarity here that speaks of an impressive skill behind the recording desk and an even greater one when it comes to composition. ‘We Sleep’ is of particular note; bleak melody is tucked away behind blistering guitars while heft is added by jagged chugs before a funeral paced bit of shoegaze breaks out to reveal the most touching thing Brignell has done to date, both lyrically and musically.
As a counterpoint to Caïna’s more reflective side, Manchester’s Esoteric Youth sidestep any emotion other than sheer visceral anguish. Anyone with an ear to the ground and one eye on Church Of Fuck’s output will know these boys by now, and they continue to refine their sound here; a concoction of spine-tingling black metal, guttural nods to death metal and the ball-busting speed of violent hardcore. In their hands it’s always been a potent mix, right from the off with the intro track to their demo tape a couple years back they showed off an immense sense of atmosphere, and they’re just as good at that as they are at sticking their fist down your throat and uppercutting your internal organs.
Their two tracks here spend just as much time sending shivers down your spine as they do in attacking on all fronts. The sparse lead guitars of ‘Förlåt’ seem to yawn out over an endless void while Dom Moss’ vocal chords bark, wretch and cough out something that resembles earth words. At times he resembles the late, great Johnny Morrow, such is his gusto for spitting out lyrics like they’re from some ancient language of the old gods, with not a discernible word in earshot. It’s a fantastic performance, his strongest yet, and when the full weight of his band are behind him on ‘Kvarblivelse’, going at it like Trap Them on psychotropic drugs, it’s no wonder that they’re one of this countries finest metallic hardcore bands. They certainly live up to their tag line as ‘the most evil band to come out of Manchester since Oasis’.
Buy it from Church Of Fuck | Buy it from Swarm Of Nails
If you’re wondering what the name of Outrage’s debut 7″ means, I can tell you – ‘eigengrau’, a word of German descent, is the term used to describe the shades of grey picked up by your retina in the absence of total light. Contrasting colours in pitch black darkness, basically. So, is it a comment on fitting in? A thought for the people who fall through the cracks of Outrage’s Cardiff City hometown? A metaphysical pondering about the laws of the universe? Just a cool word to front 4 fucking furious hardcore songs? Possibly all of the above. But however much thinking you want to apply to it, there’s one truth – Outrage are not fucking about. They are the anti-fuck about. Hard with a capital kick-you-in-the-teeth. They’re the sound of a youth that’s been suffocated and twisted into a monster. Salvation is out of the question. Violence is the only solution.
A demo on Church Of Fuck and a handful of tracks on their Bandcamp may have set the scene for you, but even with a knowledge of Outrage’s output so far it’s staggering just how ready to kill they sound here. Lean, seriously fucking mean and clearly a riff machine, Eigengrau is to some hollowed out UKHC bands what a Ginsters pasty is to actual food. This is the real deal. No posing, no bullshit, just the hardest of the hardcore. Stylistically, Outrage aren’t pushing any envelopes, but drawing inspiration from Integrity during their early 90′s golden era fused with the indignant hatred of Think I Care would put any band on to a winner. In the hands of Outrage, it’s a lit stick of dynamite.
Check the solo that could cut through bone at the start of ‘Drowning’ – pure Melnick-ian fury, backed by ravenous sounding guitar chugs that want to churn your brain. Song structures hit all the right beats at all the right times, but far from sounding rote, Outrage imbue it with a conviction and a sense of purpose. There’s no going through the motions; this is a masterclass in how to make music sound like a punch in the eye. And when the breakdown hits midway through ‘Vermin’, the sky cracks open and Jesus himself is spinkicking God in the face.
Pre-order coming soon from The CC. Hook up with Outrage via their Facebook
After what feels like an agonizingly long wait following their split with Pulling Teeth back in 2010, Shin To Shin’s debut LP is finally here. Wholly the brainchild of legendary hardcore guitarist Aaron Melnick (who, with the exclusion of the drums, fully wrote and performed all the music here, along with taking a hand in the recording process) it bears all of the hallmarks you’d expect from the one-time Integrity riff-master. Suffice to say, if you’re down with the Clevo sound, down with Integrity circa 91-97 or down with Melnick’s other 90′s venture In Cold Blood, then you will not be disappointed. You can stop reading this now and go ahead and get a copy of this and rage until you pass out. You will love it. I’m talking like, this will be your album of the year.
Speaking as a Melnick fanboy myself, the grand-master of the searing hardcore guitar solo has lost none of his ability to write a riff that slices like a razor , to construct a song that bludgeons like a bag of lump hammers, and to peel off a solo that will make your eyes water. The production here is pleasingly rugged, low-key and punk as balls. Melnick’s writing chops ensures that almost everything that comes tearing out of the speaker feels profound and gigantic (especially the morose, chugging ‘Costumes and Masks’ and the echo drenched ‘Drifting Away’), but Shin To Shin is anchored in the underground, and as such feels incredibly true to itself and it’s creator. This is a face-down-in-the-dirt hardcore record, a bleak and miserable orgy of buzzing guitars and evil-er than thou vocals. But as downcast as it is, it’s not shy of a good old fashioned rager or two. Seek out ’Don’t Lose Your Way’ and prepare for pure pit-bait, involuntary muscles spams and uncontrollable shadow-boxing.
Coming from the outside of the 90′s nostalgia bubble, and as a newbie to the man himself, you could be forgiven for wondering what the fuss is about. Not by me though. I shan’t forgive you one bit. This is one of hardcore’s most important and endlessly talented musicians given center stage. You’re in the presence of a master, so shut up and take your lesson.
Available to order on vinyl from A389 Records, or currently FREE DOWNLOAD from A389′s Bandcamp
Well, well. Get ready to leave your house and do a mosh, because a ton of heavily TTTN-approved bands are engaging in all sorts of live activity. The main focus here is Esoteric Youth’s upcoming European tour with the USA’s (and Southern Lord signed) Centuries, but it’s the Camden date that kicks this off that should get your blood pumping.
The March 2nd date at The Unicorn in Camden is a free show and features not only Centuries and Esoteric Youth but also Ithaca (just wait until you hear their upcoming EP, it’s a rager), Razoreater (utterly repugnant and violent metallic perfection) and Harrowed, whose recent LP is a perfect storm of hatred and misery. Let’s be clear – this line-up is insane. A bunch of the UK’s most exciting bands, one of the USA’s current top dogs in blackened fury and it’s free. Free! Madness. Let this flyer sear all of the info onto your brain, at the same time as listening to an Ithaca track we featured on our last sampler.
As if that wasn’t enough, Esoteric Youth then embark on a 15 date European tour, spreading their filth and decay all across the mainland. It’s no secret that we are mammoth fans of “The most evil band out of Manchester since Oasis”, so peep the tour flyer below, and be sure to catch them as they fly past like a swarm of locusts. While you’re reading, listen to a new Esoteric Youth track that we streamed exclusively last week.
Written by xRedx
First impressions are important and good band names are hard to come by these days so hats off to Coffin Dust for a great name. Respect also for successfully mixing the fun with the quintessentially Death Metal (song titles ranging from “Mary Jane Rotten Crotch” to “Ancient Rites Of Buried Evil”). There are many surprises to be had throughout This Cemetery, My Kingdom and the titles, artwork, and promo pictures belie the content somewhat. That’s not to say that this isn’t an album of evil, sickening Death Metal, far from it, but there are some hidden influences and sparks of inspiration in here that could eaasily be left out for the sake of sticking to a brutal formula of old.
A Discharge section here, a fleeting Iron Maiden melody there, held together by a love for all things Carcass/Death/Bolt Thrower without ever sounding forced or contrived. A mean muggin’ mix indeed. The playing is kinda sloppy, which upon first listen was slightly grating because it’s quite clear these four dudes certainly know how to shred their instruments but actually- it suits the overall atmosphere well, once again gelling the fun, balls-out rock-ness of the whole shebang with the hard as nails sickness.
The production is very raw and includes a LOT of bass which I personally am a fan of but it may be a sticking point for some who may be used to a more homogenised, slicker sound for their Death Metal. I recommend you just get over it and throw a pair of fingerless glove-clad horns in the air. If there are any criticisms to be leveled at this record the length is definitely the place to look. At fifty five minutes it certainly lets you know Coffin Dust mean business but can drag a little. Rather than chopping out entire songs a simple shortening of one or two of the longer cuts on the album (eight and a half minute title track anyone?) would serve Coffin Dust better I feel.
Overall this is definitely a pleasure to listen to and I can’t help but yearn for some UK bands to emerge striding confidently down this Death Metal path rather than stumbling blindly into, and ultimately drowning in, the tar-like swamps of Wolverine Blues.
Available from Ungodly Anarchy Records
In the 2 short years since they seared themselves onto the subconscious of unsuspecting listeners, Manchester's Esoteric Youth have gone from creative strength to strength; each new release building on their already uncompromising sound and helping them amass a cult-like following within the underground hardcore and metal fraternity. Which is all just a very accomplished way of saying that they're frigging brutal and more evil than satan's ball-bags.
Never ones to stay in the darkness for too long, Esoteric Youth are on the cusp of releasing their new split cassette with one-man master of UK black metal Caïna (you can stream a Caïna track from this split right now over at Cvlt Nation), and so, just before this hammer falls, we are honoured to bring to you an exclusive stream of one of their tracks. 'Förlåt' is a gut-churning rager; the aural embodiment of a rotten wound; a skeletal finger plunged into your heart. Listen in stunned silence as Esoteric Youth plumb ever further depths of musical depravity, taking their blacker-than-black interpretation of mettalic hardcore to soul-bruisingly new levels. Oh, and just so you know what time it is- their 2 tracks were recorded and mixed by Joe No Studio (Old Skin, Iced Out, Knife Crimes) and mastered at Audiosiege by Brad Boatright (Sleep, SUNN O))), Nails). This thing will compress your head.
Vocalist Dom Moss commented on the split: “We're excited to be releasing our best- thought-out material yet, alongside an artist who always pushes the boundaries of black metal. Taking the case of Thomas Quick as inspiration, we managed to drag these songs to a much darker place, both lyrically and musically, than we'd visited on previous releases; we believe it has led to these being the most intense songs we've written to date.”
Can't argue with that.
Esoteric Youth / Caïna – Split
Due out on Church Of Fuck / Swarm Of Nails late February 2014
Limited to 100 copies on white tapes, 70 on pink tapes and 30 on turquoise tapes.
Church of Fuck Records Facebook
Swarm Of Nails Records Facebook
Pre-order from Swarm Of Nails Records
Pre-order from Church Of Fuck Records
Jumping right to the point here- this split release is a beast. Taking two of Europe’s gnarliest bands, both no stranger to the tenets of the Holy Terror Church Of Final Judgement, and slamming them onto one 7″ released by a trifecta of ungodly labels, you should be tipped off that this is no ode to raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. The duality of a split release can be a wonderful thing; the tested formula of two bands, two different agendas and two different approaches can create an unlikely harmony. Here though, both Belgium’s DTHSKRS and Norway’s Heksed are singing from the same unholy hymn sheet- and the effect is cataclysmic.
Released between the 3 record labels Swarm Of Nails, Church Of Fuck and Sell Your Soul on a short and collector-magnet run of vinyl, this has all the makings of a delectably cult release. I’m talking about spelling the letter ‘W’ with two ‘V’s. That’s how serious this is folks. All glib comments aside though, the music contained within is as dark as the middle of the night. Conviction and sincerity leak from every pore of both bands here, with a healthy dose of nihilism, hatred, despair and a general sense that the apocalypse would be welcomed with open arms and a maniacal grin.
DTHSKRS are in possession of a truly wild-eyed fury; blurring the lines between death metal and 90′s Clev0-hardcore, dosing it with bursts of desperate powerviolence-tinged speed and dropping in thundering beatdowns just in case you had caught your breath. ‘Carnage’ captures all of this in a brief 120 seconds and is an astonishing display of power, immediately dispelling any notion that you may have heard all of this before and setting them ahead of the pack. Heksed feel more measured in comparison, yet no less venomous. Their approach is slightly softer, swapping out the visceral thrill of death metal for a sound that is brushed with the sickness of black metal. ‘Human Filler’ blurs past in 60 seconds of blistering fury, but it’s ‘Nine Year Collapse’ that really impresses, and marks their work here as their best yet. Crafted with serious skill, perfectly paced and dressed in a suffocating bleakness, it’s a track that shows Heksed are in full command of their sound, boasting a confidence that many lack as they ebb and flow between guttural rage and ominous brooding.
T.S Eliot said “This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.” . Well, both of these bands have a distinctly different idea.
Available from - Church Of Fuck / Swarm Of Nails / Sell Your Soul
Written by Cheryl Carter. Do the right thing and Follow her on Twitter here.
Boston, MA’s Grue are a fairly new presence on the USBM scene but with the addition of Casualty of the Psychic Wars to add to a split with Word of Unmaking from 2012, they’ve got a fair shot at crawling a little further out from the underground. Casualty of the Psychic Wars is a decent and interesting debut and the five tracks here showcase a few different little sounds that give Grue a slight edge over some of the other US black metal bands that are coming up right now.
Grue’s MO is loud, fast and intense and first track “Casualty of the Psychic Wars” sets out the bands’ stall fairly early on beginning with a piercing shriek and continuing to blast and churn with a fiery determination throughout. As far as can be told, Grue are a duo and the amount of noise these two fellows produce is decidedly impressive. Barghast’s vocal is ravaged and raw and gives Grue a fury that sits over their somewhat gorgeous guitar sweeps in a countering, yet delicious manner. “Calling Down the Stars” moves from rage to beauty in coherent and melodious passages while “Lament of the Spheres” channels its misery via instrumental motions and despair-laden strings allowing Grue to show their talents lie in many other musical paths.
Final track “They Who Walk Behind the Skies” eschews previous progressions by reaching out over a much more extended running time giving Grue ample space to spin their previously heard violence into new territories. The song shifts and turns from an echoing introduction into gentle motions of serenity before reclaiming the earlier wrath and pushing it out into the atmosphere and rolling into ever more energetic lanes of attack. Grue’s debut is an excellent taste of what the band could become capable of and in an over-saturated scene they’ll need to keep those little parts of their personality intact in order to make waves. It’s certainly possible and here’s to hoping that the band is up to the challenge.
Available to download and order from here
Written by Nathan G. O’Brien, follow him on Twitter.
For the first time in nearly a decade Hamilton, Ontario-based hardcore punk antagonists Haymaker have returned to assault undeserving eardrums with a new record. While Haymaker’s members have remained active in the interim in bands like The Swarm, Left For Dead, Chokehold, and Pick Your Side, it hasn’t stifled any of the enthusiasm for the return of these storied shit-starters. Hot off the heels of their now legendary reunion show last month at A389’s tenth anniversary bash—one that included fireworks in the pit and lead vocalist Jeff Beckman calling out bands for being phonies (watch this below) —comes a new 7” titled Let Them Rot.
You’d be forgiven for harboring any image-derived cynicism based on the Shepard Fairy/OBEY/skeletal politician-like artwork that adorns the cover; in the year 2014 it is uninspired and played out to say the least. Once you get beyond that though you’re met with four brisk tracks of tough, angry and authentic hardcore. The vocals are convincingly shouted, the band is tight, and the production is of good quality; clean but not so slick that it completely removes the dirt and distortion that lends hardcore punk one of its chief merits. It’s pretty straightforward hardcore for the most part, but at times there are subtle yet noticeable nuances of others subgenres. The guitar fills on both the title track and “Cheque to Cheque” provide a bit of an epic-style Scandinavian crust feeling, while “Their Rules” relies on traditional punk shout-a-long elements.
It’s difficult to give a wordy description of an EP that’s over in less than four and half minutes, but let’s just say this: if you’ve ever stared into the bathroom mirror at work and grunted the words “I fucking hate you” through gritted teeth while punching yourself in the stomach, you’ll love Let Them Rot. And its brevity is one of its strongest suits; when it’s over you’re left pacing back and forth, huffing and puffing, and screaming for more.
Available to order from A389 Records