Tag Archives: Hardcore

Great Grief: Open hearts in the land of gluggaveður

Great Grief plays hardcore, but not with camo shorts and baseball caps. It’s hardcore of the heart and soul, wide open and full of fire. During Roadburn 2019, the band played an added slot on Friday in Ladybird Skatepark. They had already played two shows. It was a tense set, hard and overwhelming for band and audience alike. But those are the shows where chemistry happens, where everything becomes magical and overwhelming.

I got in touch with singerFinnbogi Örn Einarsson, to ask him about this performance, but also about Great Grief. A band that has been around since 2013, has toured in the US and Canada. We talked about hardcore music, the troubles in his native Iceland and finding oneself. Partly through Great Grief and the catharsis of the stage of which the Roadburn show was as raw as it could get for the band from Reykjavik.

This interview was conducted over Facebook Messenger in the wake of their show during Roadburn 2019 in the Ladybird Skatepark. I was absolutely blown away. Original publication can be found here. Hope to see these gents again. In the meantime, let’s keep setting fire to fortresses of small-mindedness, break down those walls and open our hearts

Great Grief

We never get warmth, we just get “gluggaveður” (window weather) – it’s cold, it’s chilly, it’s rainy, windy and shitty.

I wanted to ask you how Great Grief started and how it became the tour of force it is now.

Great Grief first started in 2013, but under the moniker “Icarus”. We wrote, played, and released material under that name both in Iceland and North America until fall 2015.

We finally decided to take on a new name, Great Grief, and released a split with a band called Bungler and played a run of shows in the States. After that, we have spread ourselves quite thin and decided it was best to take a break from touring, so we could focus on things like mental health, rest, work and education.

During this rest, we wrote the material for our LP “Love, Lust and Greed” and worked on it for over a year. In 2017, we worked out a deal with No Sleep Records, and Dillinger Escape Plan guitarist Ben Weinman’s management company Party Smasher Inc. We’ve now been a band for over 6 years, with three releases in our arsenal, and now we finally made our mainland Europe debut at this year’s installment of Roadburn.

Was there a reason, in your perception, that your music caught on in America and Canada earlier? Or is this really a logistic thing perhaps?

Really, it was just where we found the opportunity at the time. But now that has changed of course, since we have finally broken ground in mainland Europe.

Do you think the audience is different though?

After this week, I’ve learned that. European crowds react much differently to things than an American audience. There seems to be much less need for radical self-mutilation to get the crowd going, along with many other things. It seems like a European audience reacts differently. Like an American audience is loud, but when we played Belgium for example, kids stood still, but then afterward told us it was an absolutely crazy show.

You now played in Europe with your album ‘Love, Lust & Greed’. When I look at this release (aesthetically) compared to the previous releases, it looks quite different. Am I correct?

Yeah, absolutely. We were a lot younger when we made ‘Ascending // Descending’, so there is a different message that we were trying to convey. But the two pieces of artwork are still actually very connected in a weird way.

Could you explain that connection?

I’d very much rather not explain it. We’d prefer to let the listener try and unfold that one.

Fair enough!Well, what I find notable is that ‘There’s no setting sun where we are’ is a very clear Iceland reference. Yet the new album feels very universal. Would that be along the right track?

The funny thing about that title is that it came from a Bungler song. They thought of it! But it’s a killer title, so we were happy to have it be the name of our release. It definitely makes sense in context to us being a troupe of misfits from a miserable nation with either no sun, or no sunset.

How much does coming from Iceland shape your music?

There’s definitely a distinct part of Iceland’s music scene that has and will always be a big influence on us, and lyrically it’s a big part of us.

You do touch upon issues you find in your home country, like the church-funding through state money. What sort of stuff is it that vexes Great Grief?

We definitely find it important to tackle the issues regarding Iceland and the lack of separation of church and state. This is because the media tends to portray Iceland as some sort of utopia. This is of course just the tip of the iceberg regarding our band. There’s mental health, personal struggles, political issues, and a myriad of other things. I’d go into depth, but I feel we’d spend the entire day going over it.

That being said, there is an interview online where I do explain each track off our new album in depth (Ed. You can read that article on The Reykjavik Grapevine, right here).

Do you think people idealise Iceland too much?

Absolutely. A lot of it is to blame on the tourism industry trying to paint the perfect picture.

There is surprisingly little talk of the way people live and what social issues Iceland faces. Seeing you play, also last year with Une Misère, that was quite confrontational regarding some of the issues addressed. Then in Iceland, I went to Lizardfest and again the topic of depression and mental illness came up. Can you say something more about this?

Lizardfest was a good time. Lots of moshing during Grit Teeth. In what seems to be no surprise; people think that a beautiful landscape is enough to combat crippling depression. This country is so incredibly isolated, there is a small town aspect even in our largest city.

In the winter, the daylight is limited to approximately 2-3 hours, and during the summer, it’s all we get. We never get warmth, we just get “gluggaveður” (window weather) – it’s cold, it’s chilly, it’s rainy, windy and shitty. It may not sound awful, but it fucking gets to you when you’ve begun to experience the world. The opportunities found when you could be touring in a van, driving from town to town and playing shows, but your home is in Iceland, where it’s just one scene, a few venues, and not much else.

I’ve noticed in other ‘northern’ places is that it usually brings a certain closed-off attitude. So people socialize even less. Is that something your band and other bands from the Iceland hardcore scene are sort of countering? I mean, as your bands are openly discussing these issues.

I believe it’s always been rooted in this scene. But when we started playing 6 years ago, it was taboo of me to be expressive on stage. I was an emotionally troubled 17 years old who didn’t find a place in the world and when I got to grab a microphone, I’d bash myself with it repeatedly and go into this state of euphoria where all my emotions were laid out there for the listener.

A lot of the bands at the time were weird about it, because it wasn’t manly. I could not care less about their preferred sense of masculinity back then, and still now. I’m just grateful that we get this platform to express this side of our brain that stays quiet during our normal lives.

But to me, that is what initially Une Misère, but maybe even more so Great Grief hit me so hard with expression and vulnerability. Where a lot of the hardcore scene sticks to the tough-guy image, where it’s all about being a hard man. It takes incredible guts to do that differently in my perception.

As much as I appreciate the era of NYHC and the stuff it has influenced. I’m just not the type of person to talk with their fists. Have Heart said it best “Armed With A Mind”. That being said, I love moshing, hardcore dancing, all of it. It’s an integral part of the community. I wish more people would stage dive, however.

In that sense, perhaps you’re connecting more to that original strain of hardcore without the codes and cargo shorts?

Maybe, really I just see it as a free form of expression, where diversity should be celebrated, but there’s no place for oppressive behavior.

Your show at Ladybird Skatepark to me was musically great, but you speaking about these issues was what really struck me (and clearly some other people). What did it take for you to stand up there and say this to a crowd of strangers? Because most hardcore shows feel like they challenge and confront the listener, where yours was embracing.

That gig was the one, the one where everything came together. It didn’t have to be the biggest crowd, and it didn’t have to be the nicest stage. We had the right people at the right time, and it left me incredibly thankful and full of love. This industry catches up to you, and for an anxious person like myself, I had an incredibly tough time with the first two shows because of it. When I go to shows, I’m not always in the best mindset, and sometimes I’m even trying to disappear.

For me to open up, it’s very natural now. But it took time to get to this place. I remember the first time I cried in front of an audience, I was called names. I felt weak. You can consider these shows and the banter between the songs a dialog between myself and me, as it seems to be universally accepted that at least person in a crowd of people might be having a rough time.

So to say that it is embracing is a good way to put it. I consider Great Grief a celebration of life. Even when I’m feeling like absolute death up there. And I want the crowd to feel the same.

How did this gig actually happen? Was it planned on beforehand? And did you as band pick the spot?

Walter offered us the slot, and we instantly said yes. It was an absolute no brainer. He picked the spot and we did it. It’s not the first time we play a skatepark, and it won’t be the last.

How was the process for you guys to end up at Roadburn in the first place? And particularly for you guys having played there before with Une Misère, what was that journey like?

This actually starts at the wonderful DIY fest Norðanpaunk in Iceland, last year. Walter saw Great Grief and said he loved it. We got offered to play and jumped at the chance since it is the best thing to come out of Europe since Speculoos spread.

I love that you mention Speculoos. It is the best, isn’t it?

The absolute greatest.

So how did you enjoy Roadburn itself as an artist? What was the experience like in such an immersive festival where the boundary between artist and visitor is pretty much non-existent?

I love it. I find the relationship between the listener and the artist to be a very big part of how a band is perceived. Don’t get me wrong however, bands don’t need to be anyone’s best friend, but I do like when I get to have a chat with someone I look up to.

The only negative listener experience I had at Roadburn this year was with the gentleman who kept spilling drinks on me and trying to untie my shoes as I was performing at the Green Room, I ended up slapping the drink out of his hand. Not my proudest moment. I hope he wasn’t too mad. Lex from Daughters said it best this weekend as I spoke to him backstage. “We’re all just a bunch of dicks, no one is better than anyone”

I personally enjoy that you can have a chat with artists you like as a visitor. But there’s no entitlement so I’m already happy if I can stammer a thank you to an artist whose work matters to me.

I get that. I have had nice chats with some members of my favorite bands and it’s always an absolute thrill ride. Even when talking about the most mundane shit on earth.

Why do you perform wearing make-up and dressed up? And have you always done so in Great Grief?

I haven’t always done it. It was a part of me getting to know myself better in 2016. It’s how I feel most at home in my own skin. Think of it like a pair of sunglasses. Some people feel more comfortable among crowds as they wear sunglasses, as it leaves more to be seen. The same goes for me, my makeup and clothes leaves on a nice shade of confidence and appeal that no one can take away from me. I like to feel pretty – It’s me and my expression in its purest form.

Isn’t that in a way contrasting with the raw openness you display on stage?

I guess so. It’s also very simply a celebration of my queer identity.

And in that way perhaps also confrontational for some, as much as the openness is?

People may not be used to our kind of live show, and I can only hope that they are understanding and open-minded.

So a lot of your performance is part of you as a person, as you said it’s also part of your queer identity. But how are you doing now? Has Great Grief helped you to find yourself?

If it wasn’t for me being in this band since I was 17 years old, I would be very lost. For a while, this band sort of became my identity, which isn’t necessarily positive. But suffice to say, it has helped shape me into a better and kinder person.

I’m stressed out daily, being in two bands can be exhausting, but I’m incredibly grateful that I get to play music and have this platform to express myself. I really make sure not to take it for granted. I’m surrounded by amazing people, without them, I wouldn’t have much.

What future plans does Great Grief have at this point?

Create, play and prosper. Oh, and tour more.

To what dish (type of food) would you compare Great Grief, and why?

Oh, curry. A nice blend of spices, something sweet on the side, some brightly colored peppers, and a brick of dense tofu in there, well marinated in flavor. Chickpeas? Some real layers of flavor. And spicy enough to make one shit their innards out.

Pictures: Justina Lukosiute

Underground Sounds: Ragana/Thou – Let Our Names Be Forgotten

Label: An Out Recordings
Band: Thou/Ragana
Origin: United States

I would much rather debate music than politics, but when it comes to the progressive message this may be the most punch-packing-package deal you can get. Ragana and Thou combine their strength for an exceptional split, titled ‘Let Our Names Be Forgotten’.

Thou from Baton Rouge has been prolific since 2005 with a long string of top-notch releases and a clearly voiced message. Their latest full-length ‘Magus’ has landed them a show at Roadburn even as a next highlight. Ragana is a genre-crushing duo from Oakland, who have dubbed their music witch doom. Combining the best of ethereal vocals and mystery with crushing core elements, they’re a force.

The opener ‘Inviolate’ opens with sensitivity and slow passages. It’s almost hauntingly beautiful, which makes the launch into screams even more powerful and hard-hitting on this short exertion by Ragana. The band has a penchant for a sort of witchcore or witch doom, full of seductively beautiful music and harrowing bursts to contrast. I’m making up that term as I go, but it also refers to the Baltic origin of the name. That aspect returns on ‘The Void’, with vocals that have that desperate tone you hear in the work of Chelsea Wolfe and the like. The doomy riffing, the totured screams, it goes to the marrow of your bones with Ragana, as if clawing towards ‘The Sun’. A particular spin on the classic, most slowly progressing doom legends. It’s magnificent.

But Thou is no lesser force obviously, and ‘The Fool Who Thought He was King’ is an instant demonstration of that. Vitriolic screamed vocals over crunchy doom, with that right level of distortion and melodic mournfulness. A dirge-like texture, that weaves onwards as the voice snaps at the listener. The song than starts unwinding into a wavery, post-rock track, that drags the listener along as everything seems to slow down into a sticky, pulling motion. ‘Death to the King and all His Loyal subjects’ closes the record, with a threatening, ominous note. It’s a gritty, drudging tune that drags you down and down with it. We definitely end on a great not here with Thou. Excellent.

Ankle deep in Dirt

Featuring Bog Body, Nyredolk, The Nietzsche, Mentor and Entropy Created Consciousness

These days, what used to be metal in its most vile and violent expressive forms has become a safe and polished sound. If this is a good thing or not, that is up to you to decide. Music evolves and changes over time and where the original wave of doom metal harked towards the fantastic and gloomy, black metal to cold and desolate unfeelingness and death metal really revolved around pummeling and punishing performances, this changes over time and much music nowadays under the banner of death, black or doom sounds particularly easy on the ear. And that’s fine… I guess. But deep down, there’s always crusty, dirty music coming out.

Disgusting, raw and visceral

What should metal sound like? That depends if you believe Possessed or Death was the first death metal act or perhaps if you consider Venom or Celtic Frost the way-paver for this sound. Even doom probably has its dilemma’s. But that’s not what I’m talking about here, as I want to focus on one direction of the development into the gritty, murky, visceral and dirty sound that was so long at the core of the underground. This is the true grit, music that makes you feel like you need to wash up. It’s still there, if you look for it.

Bog Body is a relatively new band, who have not been around that long and their demo is the first statement by the New York duo. Their band photo depicts abandonment and decay, the rubble of society. Inspired by the ritual aspect of death found in bog bodies, their sound is one of simplicity and punishment. Doomy, gloomy passages with grinding distortion and minimalist repetition. The vocals are harsh howls, full of bite and venom as ‘Dessicant Drip’ despoils your senses. Pummeling, daring and challenging you like a mad hobo wielding a knife in an alley, the songs just barrel forward, lunging, grabbing and squeezing the life out of everything. And this is only the debut.

There’s a lot of similarities with the Danish band NyreDolk, who are also a masked duo standing in the remains of western society on their profile picture. Their crusty, punk-infused sound is like black metal gone wrong according to their bio and they are quite honestly spot-on there. Ramming rhythms, that sound like the instruments are scraped over gravel, as the vocalist taunts and bellows his crooked words at you. But the band can also sound truly demented and harrowing on a track like ‘Dø Langsomt’ with these crawling passages. Absolutely brilliant material in its squat-crust-splendor with that big, challenging and evil sound you love from black metal. A great record and a promise for more, but I kind of hope they stick to making EP’s like this.

Uncut diamonds

Music from the dirt doesn’t need to sound disgustingly unclean though, it’s all about the raw intent and fury. It can be a straight, raw punch to the jaw in a hardcore vibe. Uncut diamonds, rough in their pure glory.

So you hardly need that black metal vibe to sound raw and dirty, which Ukrainian dark hardcore band The Nietzsche proves on their ‘Finals’ record. Imagine the bastard child of The Chariot and Mastodon, singing in Russian and English, both hard and fierce as well as creepingly melancholic. The sound is versatile but so direct. The lyrics are in fact the most notable, with poetic and complex lyrics, particularly in a song titled, rather obnoxiously I assumed at first, ‘Shake Your Spear’ and ‘Emily (Wants The) D’. These guys are not attempting to be anything you expect and underneath the gritty armor, there’s a complex and beautiful piece of music hidden for those willing and able to understand it. Pretty sure Nietzsche would appreciate this superior beatdown sound.

Described as satanic hardcore, Mentor features members of Thaw, Furia and J.D. Overdrive. And pardon me, but… FUCK! This record comes in with a firm kick to the teeth and a whole lot of grit. ‘Cults, Crypts and Corpses’ is like a sick fantasy from a bunch of guys who normally take the roundabout way to bring their message in an atmospheric haze. This time, they can just handle the axe, bat and club. It’s tight riffing, bellowing vocals and a stomping, rocking vibe from start to end. Just check out a track like ‘Death Mask’, which just pummels you in the face, like a little Slayer tribute. Or my favorite, the darkened and demented Kvelertak-like ‘Churchburner Girl’. Man, this record makes you want to get all sweaty and dirt stained in a muddy mosh pit at a festival or so. Every guitar lick, every riff is just nasty and the record hits the right spot!

Sinister haze

Lo-fi black metal is an excellent way to create a sound so oppressing and hazy, that it feels similarly unclean. Entropy Created Consciousness does just that on their decay-ridden, abyssal sounding record ‘Impressions of the Morning Star’. There is an eerie line of hope in the sound of these songs, created by a mysterious entity without face and name, inspired by William Blake and the grand grotesque of classic doom metal by bands like the Peaceville Three. But the sound is so wrangled and wrong at times, that it makes you feel uncomfortable as a listener. Dark and foreboding, yet open and vast. Yeah, this is something sinister, so you should probably check it out.

 

Underground Sounds: Trappist – Ancient Brewing Tactics

Label: Relapse Records
Band: Trappist
Origin: United States

Trappist is maybe one of the coolest bands to come out of the woodwork in recent times with their beer-inspired thrash-core-metal. The group has embraced the moniker (pun intended) of the famous brewing monks you mostly find in Belgium, and plays fast and loud on their debut album ‘Ancient Brewing Tactics’.

Having earned their name and fame in Spazz, Infest, Despise You, Crom, Killed in Action and probably tons more, its a group of musicians who work on auto-pilot and I guess also on beer. The guys also had a joined podcast, named ‘Hour of the Barbarian’, which sparked their collaboration for this project of beer-infused thrashing, which is actually pretty damn good when you check it out and get into it.
Much of the tunes are fast-paced, straight-ahead thrashy d-beaty metalpunk, with a lot of fun, tongue-in-cheek and energy. ‘No Soldier Left Behind’ is instant screaming mayhem, with a fast pace and some intense guitar torturing. Meaty riffs, chunky drums and a burly, brawling set of vocals combine for an excellent, fun-packed pile of beer-soaked songs. Titles like ‘This means Wort’ or ‘Giving the Boot To Rheinheitsgebot’ are simply hilarious. The last is actually a strangely mellow song, allowing you to just roar along while raising a pint.
There’s something profoundly visceral about the music, much like a night of intense beer drinking it leaves you wondering what’s what with the almost uncontrolled ramblings on ‘Frank The Tank’. Then it launches into some classic metal riffing, deliciously! Following is the new anthem for hardcore craft beer drinkers ‘No Corporate Beer’, a tune for the masses. Yet, lets not forget ’99 Problems (But a Beer Ain’t One)’, as the perennial classic or ‘Wolves in the Taproom’, an obvious reference to Wolves in the Throne Room.

Underground Sounds: xGADDAVÍRx & AAIIEENN

Label: Independent
Band: xGADDAVÍRx & AAIIEENN
Origin: Iceland

There are two great things about bands from Iceland. One is their incessant hunger to create and innovate, the second is their refusal to be confined in narrow-cast genres. I am hardly surprised, therefore, that straight edge hardcore wreckers xGADDAVÍRx team up with electronics artist AAIIEENN.

AAIIEENN hails from Grundarfjörður and produces electronics that are raw and straight-forward, yet weirdly captivating. Cooperating Akranes band xGADDAVÍRx is a fascinating clash of two styles that still works pretty well since, I quite dig this release and am eager to share it with you here.

xGADDAVÍRx is a violent eruption of Icelandic proportions. Bottled up rage and fury is what they deliver after the distorted, electro-intro of ‘Freki Karlinn’. Simmering riffing brings the song on, after which a galloping pace takes over as the band races onward to oblivion with a catchy tune and energetic pace. Vocals are furiously spat out. Man, this grips me. That actually makes the follow-up ambient grooves of AAIIEENN so weird. One minute of flowing water and tranquility, following directly on the violence has a particular contradictory effect on the listener.

We switch back to the Icelandic hardcore punkers, with ‘Kominn með Nóg’. This song sounds like they’re chopping wood, with constant strikes of a hatched. The rattling base is a prominent element in the grooving sound, but it’s that drum that keeps knocking you to the head with force. Some high-intensity riffing comes in as well, to add a taste of fire to the whole expression on a galloping pace. After a brief break, we go to the real beatdown part. This band is so hard, you got to love it. We close the split with another AAIIEENN track, namely ‘Hypersurface’, which is a Nintendo-beat dance tune, featuring hardcore vocals roaring over it. A bit like Enter Shikari when they were at their must awesome. Sweet beat too.

Underground Sounds: Trail of Lies – W.A.R.

Label: Edgewood Records, Farewell Records
Band: Trail of Lies
Origin: United States

Hardcore bands come and go at a rapid pace. It’s one of those things you can count on it seems. Trail of Lies has been kicking about for a while now and seem to stay their course in the landscape of tough sounding, breakdown filled tunes. High-strung hardcore music provided on their new record ‘W.A.R.’.

The band hails from Syracuse and is considered a straight edge act. Featuring members from Naysayer, Forfeit, and Warhound, they’re something of a hardcore-powerhouse, influenced by 90’s hardcore from the east coast of the States. This is definitely the sound that inspired me in the early days of my music quest and stumbling upon them definitely was a joy for the ear.
We kick off with the tune ‘Master of My Destiny’, which is a balled-fists power anthem for the self-empowerment so typical to hardcore music. Pounding rhythms and vocals that rip apart the vocal chords. This heavy hitting, battle-ready trajectory flows forwards through the rest of the record. Always full of fire and passion, driving for a mosh-worthy sound.
Lyrically, the songs fuel the fire with the hardcore staples of breaking stuff, breaking free, brotherhood and self-reliance. Add to that the straight edge lifestyle and you have a true sound of dissent in a society that more and more edges towards hedonism and herd mentality. If there ever was a time, where hardcore was needed, it is this one. Straight up hardcore, with a message and some balls, that’s what you get here.

Underground Sounds: Unravel – Eras of Forfeit

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 Parkway Drive, 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.

Hardcore Sounds: Bloodclot – Up in Arms

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 (Agnostic Front, 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.

 

 

Sounds of the Underground #40

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

source: bandcamp

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 

source: bandcamp

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.

Wilt – Moving Monoliths
Bindrune/Eiwaz Productions

source: Bandcamp

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 

source: Bandcamp

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.

Sounds of the Underground #24

This time from that deep underground, I’ve got TurnstileForgotten Tomb, Moloch and Anfinnsaas for you to indulge in. Enjoy listening to some cool music.

Turnstile – Nonstop Feeling

source: Bandcamp

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

Source: Bloody-disgusting.com

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

source: bandcamp

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

source: Bandcamp

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.