Label: Life Lair Regret Records Band; Unravel Origin: Australia
Australian youngsters Unravel are ready to storm the world with their debut album ‘Eras of Forfeit’. The group set forth with a fresh sound in 2015 and has made a few releases since then. However, this is their first full record out on Life Lair Regret Records.
Blending a sound that contains death metal, grindcore and the vibrancy of hardcore, there’s a vitality to the sound of Unravel. Having played with bands like The Black Dahlia Murder to ParkwayDrive, these guys clearly have a sound that resonate with whats going on today.
This record just grips me instantly, from the very first rumblings of ‘Arbitrator’. The pace and vibe of the record is much more that of a hardcore record, with its violent breaks and tormented screams. Yet, the ingredients are screeching death metal solo’s, guttural vocals that crack through the surface and an overall catchy groove. Not metalcore, it lacks the slickness to my ear at least. Relentless, the band barrels onward at that energetic, high pace, with ‘No Validation for Violation’. Sheer brutality and muscular riffing.
By the time you hit ‘Mortal’s Thrist’, you are pretty much black and blue from the continuous beatings by Unravel, who never really let down. Every mellower passage only serves to warm up the pit for the next unbridled clash with perfect paced rhythms and guitars that shoot from ominous to an almost jagged, prodding sound that makes you want to smash and destroy. Lyrically the band mostly deals with the fucked up state of the world around us. Fitting, because that should fuel any furnace of anger. This is a record, you shouldn’t play in traffic.
Label: Metal Blade Band: Bloodclot Origin: United States
This is a bit of a special little thing for me because Bloodclot is not a new band. It’s old as fuck and it revives a sound that is very dear to me. Raw, straight up hardcore with a metallic tang in its delivery. Bloodclot originates somewhere in 1981 and revolves around hardcore royalty, Iron Man athlete, vegan activist and Cro-Mags frontman John Joseph.
Joseph rekindled the fire of this band due to a chance situation, where AJ Novello was unable to play and Todd Youth (AgnosticFront, Danzig) was called in to fill in on guitar. Nick Oliveri and Joey Castillo (Queens of the Stone Age) joined up and here we have an all star band. In the previous incarnation in the noughties (2008) the band featured members from Bad Brains, Cro-Mags, Biohazard, Sick of it All, Dead Kennedy‘s and Monster Magnet.
So this is a band full of people that have seen it all but are still keen to play snotty, in your face hardcore music. They do it so well on ‘Up in Arms’, which is a whole record of fun, fury, and groove. Clocking in just under 30 minutes, from the opening riff of the title track on, you’re hooked. Joseph sounds clear and venomous. The energy and drive in the music are frightening. Blistering guitar work, high paced drumming and lyrics that actually have something to say race by.
Sure, this record lacks that ratty vibe of early hardcore. These are musicians who lay down solid tracks, but that also means that they channel their frustration in much more effective and to the point ways. That’s exactly where this record shines brightest. It’s where Joseph lets his voice go in overdrive on ‘Manic’. When the guitars just leave you on edge, waiting for the explosion.
Bloodclot sounds fresh, it sounds like hardcore sounded when it was good and meaningful. There’s no room for any ego’s, just for great and powerful music.
Some heavy stuff from the underground this time with Vails, Merlin, Wilt and Plebeian Grandstand. There’s so much stuff coming out of the woodwork that simply sounds amazing, how to keep up?
Well, I particularly liked these four.
Vails – Fuckpuncher When Planets Collide
If you name your album ‘Fuckpuncher’, you probably don’t play music full of gentle and soft elements. You probably do something that feels fucking hard and punching. That pretty much would sum up the sound of Vails. The band hails from London and is a two piece, that produces a punked up, bristling version of sludge without much further decoration. Owen Street batters his bass and provides the singing and Matthew Ham is slaughtering his drum kit to provide a rumbling backdrop for the whole experience. The necessary effects do the rest.
The sound is one full of grit, distorted and with barely contained violence. It’s not the creeping kind of sludge, but the battering, angry sort that propels itself forward on its rhythm based barrage. ‘Fuckpuncher’ is a raw record that reminds me a bit of Crowbar meats Eyehategod with the intensity of Whores. It definitely has some swagger in its bass riffing, for example on opener ‘Klabautermann’. The sound is sleazy and full of biting, heavy distortion, which only adds to the ferocious charm of this duo. This is one to play in your car for sure. On the title track there’s even a feeling of grandeur in the build-up. Great stuff by these Britons.
Merlin – Electric Children PRC Music
No wizardry on this crackling bit of doom, but clear voiced heavy wah wah doom that speaks of death, doom and gloom. The band from Wrinngarth takes doom from the 70’s and merges it with current day heavy psych. Their intent? To melt minds and enslave people… oh well, that last might not be part of it, but they really want to bring back the epic riffing. Their influences therefor range from Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats to Hawkind and Sabbath. Oh and there’s a lot of fuzz going on there as well. Enjoy the ride into the darkness.
Listening ot ‘Electric Children’, you are overwhelmed by the towering vocals that are more akin to the early doom greats than you’d imagine possible. Even the timbre of the recording feels dusty and canned, but also that fuzzy guitar play feels like its Blue Cheer at work underneath it all. The Americans keep the sound light, accesible, but oh so much fun to listen to. The languid vocals, the eerie buzzing guitars, the primitive sound. It all seems a bit much calculated, but the band from Kansas pulls it off with flair. Lots of solo’s, lots of messy sounding bluesy grooves, it’s all good with these electric children.
To say that the Canadian group Wilt makes music that is monolithic in its slow, brimming reverie is an understatement to the art of the band. Their sound is considered to be atmospheric black metal, but traces of the most mind-melting doom (bordering on the funeral kind) is definitely present on their record. It’s the first full lenght for the Manitoba five piece. The record came out in november 2015, but I feel that I have to share its brilliance here.
Slow, drudging music soars around, filling the wide void that the band embraces. The slow is combinated with a blistering drummer, that creates an underlying tension in the shimmering sound of the Canadians. The lurching vocals are cracking, heaving with frustration and grief in a profound and convincing manner. Though that is mainly what describes the title track and opener ‘Illusion of Hope’, on ‘The Elder’ the drums take over and a much faster, pummeling vibe overtakes the whole song. Sure, this record does get a bit monotonous at some point for sure, but let it embrace you and it’s a great experience.
Plebeian Grandstand – False Highs, True Lows Throatruiner Records
There are still those that push the black metal genre forwards and Frenchies Plebeian Grandstand do just that. You might link them to the Deathspell Omega’s of this world, but the band is not related. Thematically the band is taking a totally different approach to the genre, creating something much more tangible and realistic. It’s also interesting to know that the band has been around for 11 years and therefor I’m amazed to not have noticed them before. Alas, it’s the way the world works and now I have and have been blown away by their record.
Ever been hit in the head at a show, when everything suddenly seems to go faster, while you go slower? It’s sort of like that when Plebeian Grandstand launches into their savage, lo-fi bursts of fury. Short assaults are followed by brief, uncouth moments that feel like there’s something wrong or perverse about the music. That unsettling effect is tangible from the first track onwards, but stays with you the whole album. The hooky, mesmerizing sound of these guys remins you that not every band labelling themselves as avantgarde (or being labeled as, potato and all) has seen a modernist novel once, some actually are unfathomably complex and strange. So, don’t take my word for it, but listen to the blistering assault of their record yourself. It’s free, treat yourself.
This time from that deep underground, I’ve got Turnstile, Forgotten Tomb, Moloch and Anfinnsaas for you to indulge in. Enjoy listening to some cool music.
Turnstile – Nonstop Feeling
Oh shit! Did I just get pulled back into listening to hardcore with a cool nineties vibe, remniscent of Shelter and Cro-Mags both. There’s also a tinge of some of the groove metal stuff going on in the day, but surprisingly, this band is super young. In fact this is their debut. The Baltimorians (is that the word?) have been around since 2010 and now delivered an awesome debut record. The album is out on Reaper Records, known for acts like Terror and Trapped Under Ice.
Turnstile has no problem putting back some emo in the core, without becoming whiney. There’s less of the tough guy bullshit, which is too often part of the New York sound they embrace. That gives way more freedom for music, since the songs don’t need to be laced with breakdowns and circle pit frenzy. There’s a lot of that going on, creating that catchy vibe of the more ideological laden hardcore bands of the nineties, specially with the vocals feeling a lot like those of Ray Cappo. Some effects, like on ‘Can’t Deny It’ empasize this fact. Looking forward to seeing these guys play in my town.
Anfinnsaas – Anfinnsaas
There are records, that you put on and just gradually enter your consciousnes. They fit the patterns you expect to hear and just kinda mellow into your hearing. This is not one of those records. This record is a hectic, frantic, noisy and chaotic amalgation of different styles and genres into a product that feels loose and uncontrolled. That would be quite far from the truth though, this band seems to absolutely know what they are doing on this debut. The group exists since 2013 and the name is funnily enough a combination of the last names of both members; Knut Finsaas and Geir Anfinn Halland Johansen.
The record is out on Autumnsong Records and it has six songs on it. These are strongly percussionist songs, even the strings appear to be hammered in some songs, which brings a bit of a djent feeling forwards. No, it’s not like that. The loose sound makes sure that there’s a continuous flurry of twanging and clanging guitar strings, making this feel like an overdriven machine. It’s quite an atmospheric and enjoyable record with a lot of exciting elements to it. Just not for easy listening.
Forgotten Tomb – Hurt Yourself And The Ones You Love
Forgotten Tomb is one of the bands pioneering the genre of DSBM. Often controversial, always provoking and in a way brilliant, this is their latest album which immediately betrays some interesting influences in the arwork, atleas the music seems to take a bit more of an industrial/heavy metal approach. Not that the group around Ferdinando Marchisio (Herr Morbid) ever relents in their misanthropic views, but the sound is more accesible.
Tracks like ‘King of Undesirables’ carry a certain Satyricon-like groove and rhythm, which could be a crowd pleaser live. Take that with a big pill of Celtic Frost heavy and slow, and you’ve got yourself a winner. The theme remains very far removed from that greater audience, expressing a true disdain for humanity and life itself. Specially the title track expresses these feelings without any symbolism. The production is done very smoothly by Brad Boatright (known from Nails, Beastmilk and such), which works with the sound of this band. It is probably not their most extreme record, but it sounds pretty awesome.
Moloch – Abstrakter Wald
The idea of recording your album in the Carpathian mountains with an open tape is kind of bespelling, specially considering it was done in a winter night by the Ukranian project Moloch. So imagine that, in the forest and in a part where myth and reality are not that far apart. Where the night holds terrors that have no names. This is very much what sound you can expect from this black metal project. True, there is little metla going on, but that is not diminishing the atmosphere of the recordings one bit.
Eerie, slow rising synth sounds are reverberating gentle in the air. There’s a sense of peacefulnes to the sound, but always there is also a threat. A gentle drone is constantly there, humming, growling but just out of reach. I used black metal project earlier, since its in the description of the band on bandcamp. Obviously, this recording is much closer leaning to ambient and experimental music, even taking a bit of postrock into it. The titles are all the same, except for numbering. That’s why ‘In Dem Gewaltigen Wald Wo Das Echo Sich Selbst Verlier’ stands out, also due to its cold synths and fuller, more open sound, leaving the drone a bit behind for a short moment. A bemused experience, this record is all that.
Some underground music to fit in with the failed summer days with Self Defense Family, Hope Drone, Dope Smoker and Lluvia.
Self Defense Family – Heaven is Earth
I’ve found out about Self Defense Family about two years ago, through my relentless interest in the works of the Deathwish Inc. label. This strange band was in the middle of the new releases with a bunch of 7″s. I guess this album number two from this experimental group under this moniker, where they previously listened to the name End Of A Year. The group consists of a large amount of members, spread out over the USA and the UK, who compile music together, which leads to an intriguing product.
The sound is different, playing with styles and influnces to create an eclectic different feel to punkrock with a political flavor to it. The rhythm can be tribal (‘Ditko’) or mellow (‘Everyone wants a prize for Feeling’), it’s never the traditional punk but applies the raw, edgy elements in vocals and drive. The melancholic, weary sound is catchy and emotionally laden. Musically the band can go either way they want within their concept, which allows a lot of creative freedom. That makes this album so much more than just a punk album, this is good stuff!
Dope Smoker – Dope Smoker Vol. 4
Where the other Dope Smokers are all about sand, processions and stonerrock, these take on a slightly different approach. The herb remains the same though for these guys from South-Wales. Yes, thats the one in the UK. These guys are inspired by that herb and surfing, which can be deduced from the water-filled album covers of the band over their last four volumes. Slightly more wet, but still as sleazy, slow and heavy as its supposed to be.
Buzzing bass lines cracklen and chafe down your earholes the whole records, while high vocals rip through this continuous cascade of bass sounds. The band approaches their stoner sound from a more surflike origin, sounding soft and warm, almost grungy at times. The vocals are one moment like Ozzy, the next more like the Beach Boys. It’s that interesting tension that keeps these guys sounding a lot like the character of the sea itself. Always strong, but sometimes oddly calm. It can break up any minute though. Good record for those whol love heavy and fuzzy.
Hope Drone – Cloak Of Ash
There’s the black metal album to blow away all others for 2015, that’s atleast what I experience while listening to this new Hope Drone record for the first time. It’s the third full lenght from these Australians, on which they combine black metal with hardcore and sludge into a feisty mixture of pitch black tar and ashes. The sound truly envelops you with bleak, droning guitar buzzing and eerie electronics, creating that despair you were hoping for.
The vocals are almost howled, a mad barking at the heavens filled with fury and remorse. The tremolo guitar play surges and creates a feeling of utmost urgency, that has a compelling beauty to it as well. The continuous, throbbing layer of rhythm is always present, harrowing and beckoning the listener. It’s like a lake, misty and muddled in your vision that lures you in, like spirits of fairy tales and myths. The lyrics deal with the intensity of these surroundings, the glaring sunlight, the deep emotions with a ferocious intensity. The band also plays the long game, with slowly reverberating guitar riffs, echoing and gripping, building tension by creating a feeling of stasis. This band is amazing.
Lluvia – Eternidad Solemne
Mexico, not the country that springs to mind when you hear black metal, but that would be missing out on things. Lluvia hails from León in the southern country, filled with more than enough of its own mysticism to create a particular black metal sound. The band describes their sound as Ritual ambient black metal and that feels very correct. The name means ‘rain’ in Spanish, a theme that comes back in the samples used on the album, pouring down grief and hatred in a metaphoric sense.
The sound is slow, droning black metal, that sounds ceremonial and melancholic. The venomous attacks of the guitar and vocals get blunted by this languid, streaming sound. The racked screams get smothered in this eerie stream. Now and then this ebbs away, leaving room for folk instruments, that add more lugubrious elements to the songs, with the slight echo to the recording. After the climactic track ‘Divinidad’, we return to an outro with trisful classic parts and the rain. The eternally flowing rain is still there.
Compete, compete, do it for the boys
Empty barrels make the most noise
You’re always on the move
You’ve always got something to prove
– Minor Threat, ‘Small man, big mouth’
I’ve written a bit about music on my blog this far, mainly discussing metal and a bit of hiphop. For years my thing was hardcore though, and its a genre I love profoundly. I’m particularly into the old stuff, from the early days and the nineties, which was laden with ideas, philosophies and views. It’s all about making a difference.
I loved that stuff, because it opened my mind to so many other ways to live life. I think it sparked my interest in buddhism, my love for a healthy life and I even dabbled witht he straight edge idea. What I also loved, and you need to read books about this to find it out, is that hardcore has always been about opening doors, not closing them. Equality, freedom of opinions, anti-discrimination etc. Later this scene became a bit more stale and hermetic, but I guess that might get reinvigorated at some point.
What I’ve noticed over the last years is a change though, to the meaning of the word hardcore. For me it contains the PMA (positive mental attitude), respect and a certain decorum which you take through life. Don’t be that which is wrong in the world already, don’t be a racist, women degrading asshole. Show respect to others. That’s what I’ve tried to take from it. Now, I was never deep in the scene, just at the edges and taking my individual lessons from it. I got disillusioned by bands like Deez Nuts, Your Demise and the likes of Asking Alexandria. This was all pertaining to be hardcore, I don’t know if they were doing that themselves or the media. I liked Deez Nuts at first, they sounded crude and confronting, but seeing them live it also felt so hollow, so empty and devoid of meaning. Sure, Deez Nuts are staying true, but true to what? It seems to just be the music.
Don’t get it twisted its still fuckin hardcore,
stage dives, high 5s that’s what I’m in this for.
I ain’t in this for money or fame
but if I stack a little change fuck it I won’t complain.
– Deez Nuts, ‘Stay True’
I’m not trying to put these band in a bad light though. There’s always been room for bands that created the image for the scene and being a bit about the posturing and being tough guys. Tough guy hardcore was definitely a thing. What these bands seem to have opened the door for is a subgenre, which is just as much about the outside, the looks and the posing. That’s where the beef starts.
I tried some of the Deathcore bands as well, but found the same void there. It’s all about looks and not about the message. T-shirts got to shocking instead of inspirational and empowering, but have reached a point where it actually has nothing to do with the movement it claims to be part of. So do the lyrics and the off stage presentation fo certain bandmembers. Apart from the switch from meaning and teaching the crowd to posure and gangster attitudes, some bands have taken a dive deeper into giving hardcore a bad name….
For girls, hardcore and metal is still a rather new place. Back in the late nineties, when I guess I started listening to music, it was still rare to find female musicians. I was well impressed with Brody Halle from The Distillers or Angela Gossow from Arch Enemy, but theyw ere still rarities. In hardcore even more so, maybe that’s why I always felt sympathy for bands that did have female vocalists. Not necessarily because they were good, but because they were necessary. Their acceptance would create more equality for guys and gals alike and you will get good girl fronted bands. At some point, it wont matter what gender the person fronting it has. Then we got to deathcore and bands like Emmure, Attila and I Declare War take a whole leap backwards with their offensive as hell t-shirts.
This has nothing to do with hardcore anymore, this is everything the scene riled against from its inception. You have to imagine, what it does to the listeners of this music now. All the good vibes you may have gotten from hardcore, when you were that age, they just get this stuff. Gangster posing, calling girls bitches and being as rude as possible. Sure, that sounds old and boring, but ittouches upon that very thing that gives this music meaning.
Let me get to a close on my rant on this topic. I was not there, when hardcore was a thing. I only know the music and I’ve seen the bands. Let me mention an H2O, that band gave me more stuff to work with than all the deathcore crap combined. I’ve seen entire festival line-ups, with less heart than Terror, Boysetsfire, Madball or Ignite. This is what it ment, this is why its worth protecting. This is why these guys are douche bags and have no place in hardcore.
This is the second sound of the Underground of 2015, with bands like Inquisitor, Odota, An Autumn For Crippled Children and Baptists. So much good stuff left over from last year.
Inquisitor – Clinamen | Episteme
The Lithuanian scene is a truly hidden gem and the band Inquisitor was recommended to me for listening. The band has been around for 12 years already and makes a dense combination of hard riffing and passionate melodies in what can be perceived as an organic whole. Funky, hectic grooves lace the song ‘Hearken, Memmius!’ that opens their new record. Soaring guitars. That playful weird sound is apparently their schtick, also the semi-clean vocals offer a new persective. ‘Hence The Mouthful of Time’ is full of progressive piano elements and peculiar elements.
Though progressive and embracing avant-garde, there is nothing tame about the groups sound. The album shows much variation, but also sheer brutality and grim atmospheres to the listener. The strenght however, is the detailed extremes the band seems to play with in their music, going from typical black metal to a form of jazz or funk and back again. The sound is always bleak and all you would expect from a band that labels as black metal. The intelligent sound of these guys is definitely worth the attention of the avid metal fan though and I cannot wait to hear more from them.
An Autumn For Crippled Children – try not to love everything you destroy EP
With probably the must fucked-up bandname in a long time of fucked-up bandnames, this group does make an extremely beautiful sort of post-black metal. Soaring film score elements accompany a layered, atmospheric barrage of guitar and sonic effects on the titletrack. There’s a warmth in the sound of this mysterious group from the Netherlands that has no equal. It’s the warmth of embracing a certain fatalism. Fun fact is the reference of the title to previous full lenght ‘Try Not to Destroy Everything You Love’.
The second song is ‘post war’, which has fierce guitar structures that even with their smooth effects sound like typical black metal riffing. The sound is rich and reminds the listener of obvious names like Deafheaven and Liturgy, but with a weird twist of their own. This is a band that has done amazing work this far and is worth recommending to anyone who is into this music, but also those outside of it.
Baptists – Bloodmines
Luckily, there are still good hardcore records coming out now and then and this new one by Vancouver residents Baptists is a true blistering masterpiece of what hardcore should be. A lot of squeeking guitar work and gritty rhythm combinations makes the sound of the Canadians agressive and controlled. Their aesthetic is something with man versus nature, which is displayed in the beautiful cover that expresses a dark perspective on this struggle. That darkness is taken into the sound of songs like ‘Vistas’ and ‘Harm Introduction’.
Grinding guitars and hectic breaks form the base of the raging songs the band keeps chugging out. The furious vocals are spat out at break-neck speed, furious at the world and followed by pounding drums. The sound is coherent and organic though, there is little artfical about this band and I guess that is one of their main charms. Hopefully they cross the ocean soon, so we can admire their live antics as well.
Odota – Fever Marshall
Jarmo Nuutre is a peculiar dude, who does fantastic tattoo’s and used to make mammoth-stomping sludge with Talbot. This is his new project and it is filled with a lot of awesome. Slow creeping sound, filled with strange atmospheric effects accompany the searing guitarwork. Black metal inspired, industrial tinged noise on a slow, doomy pace is what best captures the sound on this first release. The heavy distorted vocals and rest of the sound offer a sound that envelopes the listener. Tracks like ‘Bad Medicine’ stand out due to their dark and frightening atmosphere.
Strangely, a song like ‘Half Eagle’ feels more like a video game soundtrack mixed with an evil EBM song that you have to dance to in the intro. The sound samples Nuutre choses, betray an eclectic sound and a creative mind that is free of boundaries. Closer ‘Rattlesnakes Unfold’ is a tidal wave that keeps pushing you under in a dense rattling, drumming sound, waves of distorted guitar wafting over you, while vocals seem to just scream at the sky. This debut of Odota is an unholy experience of awesome and for those who like a little bit of experiment and doom in their blackened noise metal. Did I capture it there?
Time for some new revelations from the underground. I feel forced to not pick mysterious bands that no one has heard of this time, since there simply happen to be some brilliant bands I need to tell you about.
If you happen to have recommendations for me, they’d be most welcome. Leave me a comment!
Earth – Primitive and Deadly
The band from Washington has been a defining and genre-shifting force for ages and thus already captivated my attention in the past. Particularly the album ‘The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull’, from 2008, was amazing to me. Every album the band has produced since their conception in 1989 has been brilliant and different. This one has captivated me so much, that I’ll go into every song for a bit.
Starting with “Torn By The Fox of the Crescent Moon”, the cascading riffs wash down slowly but full of foreboding. The colour of the music indeed feels pale like the moon. Darkness is in the end the main element with which Earth is playing, but there’s a light as well in that darkness, which is tangible in this songs beaming peaks that pierce the clouds. The description of a serpentine approach in music is embraced to the fullest in “There Is a Serpent Coming”, which has some riffs that give the song a movie soundtrack quality. Mark Lanegan with his charcoal black rasp provides the repetitive vocals on this track, that is filled with anticipation and warning. Bleak sound is embraced by warmth in the voice and music, which leads to a magical musical experience.
“From the Zodiacal Light” features the warm and captivating vocals of Rabia Shaheen Qazi from the band Rose Windows. Though musically far distincts, the vocals show similarities with those of The Devil’s Blood. Mystical words over soaring music and droning rhythm. Southern rock flavor is definitely detectable in the weeping guitar sounds of ‘Even Hell Has Its Heroes’. The sound seems to slow down while the chords are reverberating in the air. It’s the sound of the desert, with the sun shining in your eyes and twisting your vision, hallucinating and shrill sounding. The slow beat dragging on in the endless space around you. A similar sound can be heard on ‘Rooks Across The Gates’, featuring once again Mark Lanegan on vocal duties. This landscape is bleaker though and after almost ten minutes it just fades away.
When the debut of this band came out, I was very keen to get my hands on it and review their sounds. I thought it was beautiful, haunting, cool and the sound of a drive through a city in the very early morning or in the deep of the night. Recently I got back into the xx and decided to listen to that other album, which I sadly ignored at the time.
The hazy youthful sound of the debut already demonstrated something unique that probably would not be reproducable. The band was on that fragile moment between youth and adulthood, expressing the sublime angst of that point in an excellent album. That foggy, misty feeling of an early day, fresh and new, was captivated in the sounds on that first record.
That is the downfall of Coexist. Though it takes on the mellow beats, the minimal sound and gentle tones with whispered vocals, it lacks that fresh sound. The crisp break of dawn has been lifted and the monring sun has made the fog evaporate, it feels like a rehashed version of that moment when the fog was on the leaves and the cold was still in the air. When the words are whispered, no clouds appear from the mouth, just sounds. This time the angst is replaced by adulthood, certainty and a carreer. No longer is the magic in the air. It was a moment in time, that has now past. We still have the songs though.
Pallbearer – Foundations of Burden
The epic doom of Pallbearer is much appreciated in the world that adores it, so that makes it worth mentioning on itself. I like the epic quality of their sound, which reminds me a bit of Candlemass, even if it’s only a feeling for me as a listener. The clean and strong vocals are a main reason for that opinion I would think.
Oh, the pallbearer is part of the ensemble that carries a coffin. That’s kinda the drag they put in their doom, minor and sadness. It’s really everything you could want from a doom record, including its accessability. This is easy going stuff, nothing harsh, just bleak and heavy as you would want it. If you are even slightly into doom and you love feeling a bit sad with some heavy, slow guitarwork, check this band out for real.
High point is in my opinion the song ‘The Ghost I Used To Be’. Check it out. All crushing riffs, soaring guitars and picturesque vocals and strenght. Power metal meets doom? I don’t know, but this song I love.
Perfect Pussy – Say Yes To Love
What got me tuned in to the band Perfect Pussy was not their music, but their charming singer Meredith Graves. An interview passed around on UPcoming (with a tacky headline in that ‘You won’t believe’.. line they’ve been pumping out like there’s no tomorrow), where she undressed while being interviewed. It was so captivating, that you forget that a beautiful lady is undressing. She spoke about punkrock, identity, looks and the self.
The music reflects that peculiar nature in a way I think. No distortion, just violent, wild passion is what the music expresses. An eclectic mixture of punkrock, noise and lofi rockmusic. The sound is energetic, uncompromising and light. The jangling guitar and the rattling drum form a warm tapestry of ragtag sound, that for some magical reason still sounds like a song.
Songs like ‘Big Stars’ and ‘Dig’ feature the almost proclaiming vocal style of Graves in their best shape. Powerful and relentless blurting out words of defiance. It is a great record and a great band that doesn’t seem to have many problems being out there and against the norm.
Back in 2010 I did an interview with German punk-nutters AYS. Back then they were the first band on the bill for the Persistence tour, for which we did a whole dossier on ROAR E-Zine. We would write about pretty much every band on the bill and I got to do an interview with AYS.
The interview was rewritten in Dutch by me and can be found over here on the website. This is the raw interview. By now AYS is pretty much one of the leading punkrock acts from Germany, so well worth seeing where they were at in 2010.
Who are you and what is your job in AYS? And how are you doing?
Yo, my name is Gummi. I’m doing the lead guitar and a lot of the songwriting stuff in AYS. I’m fine, but I have to go to work today… that sucks!
What does AYS stand for? And what does it represent for you? How did you pick this name?
AYS stands for “Against Your Society” and was founded 2002 by our singer Schommer, who played bass, our drummer Pietz, and two other guys. One of them is our ex-guitar player Felix who left the band some months ago. They were playing melodic punk stuff like Good Riddance or Pennywise. After some lineup changes I joined the band in march 2007 as a bass player and our second guitar player Henne joined us at the beginning of 2008. Our newest member is Chris of Black Friday 29 who replaced me playing the bass when i changed to the guitar. We all have our roots in being Punks. So this name is still representing our punk attitude, being against racism and also not being satisfied what’s going on in this world. And of course: ACAB
What has the band accomplished this far? Who have you played with and where?
In the actual lineup we released an EP (“The Path Of Ages” – 2009) and two LPs (“Wreck My Soul” – 2008) and the newest one is called “Eroded By The Breeze” which was released 3 months ago. There are some old releases but they are not worth to be mentioned.
We played 7 tours in the last 3 Years and saw a lot of cool parts of europe like belgium, netherlands, france, spain, czech, poland, austria, switzerland, sweden, norway and england. At the moment we’re planning some tours and trips for 2011. In february we’ll be back in the UK and we’ll do an Australia/Malaysia Tour in April/May.
On our shows and tours we played with bands like No Turning Back, Sick Of It All, Have Heart, Carpathian, Trash Talk, Rise & Fall, Black Friday 29, Ritual, Born From Pain, The Effort, Swamp Thing, and too much more to name them all. Propably we played with almost everything what’s famous up to day and became friends with a lot of them.
What does AYS Sound like, what are your main inspirations?
I think it took a lot of time to find the sound that we’ve got today. It’s very desperate and pissed. We tried a lot to find out what we want to do, invested a lot of time and I think everybody who knows our old releases can see our development.
I think it’s important to be kinda incomparable and don’t sound like every second existing band what’s really hard because there are a lot of them who are doing a great job. Certainly we are inspirated by everything we listen to, which is not just Punk and Hardcore music.
How did you come together as a band?
Schommer, Pietz and I know each other from school, hangin around, skating, drinking, etc for 8 years. In our hometown was a quite big punk/hardcore scene at that time.
Henne is a friend of us for about 4 years and we know each other from shows in our area and his brother Chris used to play in Black Friday 29 who became good friends of us in the last 2 years.
What’s the German Hardcore scene like?
The german hardcore scene is pretty big. A lot of the kids are doing bands, setting up shows or do labels, fanzines, etc. Also they just support bands by showing up on shows whats propably the most important part. A lot of bands from oversea like our scene and appreciate the support of the german kids.
You’ve got a new album out, called Eroded By the Breeze, what can you tell us about it?
“Eroded By The Breeze” has got a tough and pissed sound combined with melancholic melodics and a lot of experimental parts. It got 13 Songs with a 35 minute playtime.
It was released on the 17th of August 2010 on LP and CD by Cobra Records (LP – Europe), Coretex Records (CD – Europe), Purgatory Records (LP – UK) and soon on Dead Souls Records (CD – Australia).
How did the writing and recording process go. What were your inspirations for this album?
After the release of our “Path Of Ages” EP in July 2009 we didn’t know how we could beat it. We had the goal to write those songs on the same level as “Snowblind” and “Nemesis”, which where re-recorded for the LP again, too. But after 10 Month of writing new stuff we we’re very satisfied with the outcome. The songs hadn’t been finished completely when we arrived at studio and the best ideas we had were while the recordings, breaking edge, playing Super Street Fighter 4, watching football and hooligan Films and eating a lot of pizza. We had a lot of time to try different sounds, settings and effects.
Who does your artwork?
Our singer Schommer is doing all the artwork stuff for us. He also made some designs for other bands as well, but at the moment he’s very busy. Schommer is studying media design so he decided to concetrate on that and just doing sick artworks for us in his freetime.
Who’s the guy with the AYS tattoo on the inside of his mouth?
That’s Schommer, too!
Apparently you guys bring a wicked show to the stage. What can people expect from you guys live?
A short set with the most possible energy we could give and hopeful withouth broken strings… fuck that.
Who are you going to watch at Persistance tour? What bands do you recommend to people?
I’m definitely looking forward to Cruel Hand. I really like their new album and of course their live shows. Also i’m glad to see the guys of Sick Of It All again, cause we just played some dates on their last europe tour together. And last but not least Blood For Blood, I think I don’t have to comment that!
If you don’t know our Album yet, you should really check it out. But you also should take an eye on bands like “Brutality Will Prevail” (UK) and the rest of the Purgatory Records bands. If you don’t know our friends “Carpathian” from Australia check their new EP “Wanderlust”, “Ritual” just released some new stuff, too, and also our friends “Man Overboard” from the US who will be on their first europe tour soon.
I listen to music, so you don’t have to. You can decide if you want to check out what I’ve been checking out by reading what I thought about these sounds. I’m usually pretty honest. I do tend to listen to what I like though.
Mondvolland – D’Olde Roop
When metal becomes too folky, it becomes Paganfest material and that is something to avoid. I never felt a band like Heidevolk should fit in at Paganfest, though their sound was accesible. There’s something authentic and sincere about bands like that, which distinguishes them from the Alestorms and Ensiferums of this world (even Finntroll lost the plot with their weird steampunk gimmick). Mondvolland does everything right, occultish, melodic folk elements combined with atmospheric and dark black metal. It’s truly an experience.
So yes, this is not their latest album, but its the one I got to listen to so deal with it. Mondvolland hails from the Arnhem region and apparently started out as a folk band. Their sound is a bit out there, blending black, avantgarde and some post elements in what seems to be a potent cocktail. Ofcourse, you can hear something silly if you want to with the clean vocals that sing of a legendary past. It would be a shame, because you mock the brilliance of music that feels both new as well as authentic and rooted in the culture its born in.
Master’s Hammer – Vagus Vetus
Czech black metallers Master’s Hammer have been around forever, they were already mocking up demo’s back when Euronymous was alive and that means a lot in BM-history. Their album ‘Jilemnický Okultista’ was a fundamental album for the development of the genre, as well as their record ‘Ritual’ being dubbed the first Norwegian Black Metal album by Fenriz (though made in Czechoslovakia).
This is what Master’s Hammer has to say about the record: “An imaginary old wanderer (vagus vetus) journeys through an unfamiliar labyrinth and there’s nothing good waiting for him. Disgusted with progress and modernity of all kinds, he enjoys listening to aeolian harps and sounds of postmortal flatulence. He finds his consolation in hedonic experiences of natural origin. ” I just leave out the bit where they say extreme metal is hopeless, because if that was their opinion really, they should go play aeolian harps instead.
I have a love for brooding black metal full of atmosphere and folk references. I also have a love for bands from Eastern Europe, like Skyforger, Arkona or Metsatöll for putting something unique in their music. Something undefinable that is rooted in the land the music is made in, it’s that one factor that makes the music this little bit different and more amazing. This goes for Master’s Hammer, who have formed their sound in an age of hiding and secrecy and now never sounded quite like anyone else. Great record.
Forgotten Tomb – …And Don’t Deliver Us From Evil
I literally just decided to look for a random BM band and stumbled upon Forgotten Tomb. Their sound is utterly depressing, bleak and devoid of hope. What is interesting is that this band seems to have taken an approach to their music, which heavily relies on rock music and not just the black metal roots. There’s something accesible to the sound of these Italians, that can be rarely found in BM these days. The first song ‘Deprived’ already displays that under layers of icy guitar waves.
Apart from that the music is depressing, dealing with things the light does not bear to be witness to. Not everyone may enjoy the clean feeling of this band and comparisons with The Shining are way to easy to make. I think it is beautifull in it’s ‘everything dies’ way and would definitely recommend this record.
The Hell – Groovehammer
I have not been as excited about a hardcore record for a long time. I guess since Ignite released ‘Darkest Days’. Oh, wait there was H2O with ‘Nothing To Prove’. The point is that it has taken quite some time for an awesome record to come out. The twelve headed English group is in their own way absurdist, violent and out there. They might go over the top on virtually every song this record offers, but that ballzy brawn gives them a lot of charm.
“You have to bring a swarm of killer bees, a sea of white sharks!” roars one of their vocalists on opening track ‘Take Me Out’. The lyrics are just awesome, add to that the full groove of heavy, hard hitting hardcore music. The band likes to keep up an air of mystery on their identity, which is a bit over the top again. It’s cool though, I i’m fairly sure the purists won’t like this band, because they might not be that real to you. That’s bullshit ofcourse, unless you say the same about Madball, Hoods, One Life Crew or Pitboss 2000. Dig in and enjoy The Hell!