Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Bandcamp of the Week - Gets Worse

Gets Worse are a three piece pv outfit hailing from Leeds, UK. Their most recent effort, Year of the Bastard is a 4 track onslaught of metallic power violence that relishes in breakdowns and thick sludgy guitars. The ep is well executed and nearly immaculate in terms of production. I know I'm a sucker for these kind of heavy, beat-downy power violence, but that doesn't mean you should sleep on this band.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Sloth Herder - Abandon Pop Sensibility

Toss cult hardcore icons Rorschach in a blender with misanthropic sludgesters Dystopia and whirl in a dose of modern discontent and you've got Sloth Herder.

Abandon Pop Sensibility, the band's latest EP,  does just that. Sloth Herder rarely rely on a refrain or hook, and never anything to sing along to in order to get the listener involved. Instead, the band juggles speeds and mixes in a thick and harsh sound that is at its best in speedy transitions. Much like the bands mentioned before, Sloth Herder's got this kind of thudding, hard to pin-down type of momentum that pulls you in with repeated listens and yet is always a bit unpredictable.

Few if any moments really stick out on this short EP. I don't know if that's really a bad thing or not, but partly due to the production, as well as the band's style, changes and developments are subtle as everything's always pushed to the max. The bass is prominent in a Jo Bench kind of way and the drums are a bit buried beneath the mid-cutting guitar and throaty vocals. Gross, graveyard dirges are used with individually plucked guitar notes sans heavy distortion which overlap with the backing band to create these lurching and dread filled sections.

Should appeal to those who liked oppressive, gloomy, and rough metal that's not afraid to change paces.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Cloud Rat - Moksha

Cloud Rat's second LP, Moksha, is a fierce surge of melodically intertwined grindcore with nods aplenty to various influences. To allocate one particular influence would be futile as Cloud Rat mix everything from His Hero is Gone guitarwork, a tone owing to Sunlight Studios, a breath of shoegaze and even Neil Young with a cover of his "The Needle and the Damage Done." This rich mixture creates a unique buzz of grindcore that's as emotionally charged in its hooks as it is in its deeply personal lyrics and equally vehement performance by their singer Madison.

Opener "Inkblot" lures listeners in with an ethereal intro that's distant and unassuming. This calmness comes again in "Infinity Chasm" which showcases clean group vocals and clips of what sound like school children admist a slow and clean guitar/bass melody that builds up to a shoegazing explosion that really had me taken by surprise in the best way possible. Immediately I wanted to call this "shoegazecore"....but I thought I couldn't be that stupid. But, this is just another strength for the relatively young Michigan three piece; their ability to seamlessly blend influences and styles into an even and well grounded sound that's definitely punk in its heart.

As mentioned earlier, the band chooses to cover Neil Young. This is a bold thing to do for a grindcore band, and I'm going to assume most listeners will like it (because they seem to mix both world well), but it just doesn't do it for me. What does work for me are the fluid mixtures of riffs and sections, brutal and rough, to catchy and hummable, and vocals that will let you join in for a phrase or three. The riffing style, as mentioned earlier, has that momentous charge to it that HHIG skillfully employed yet has a buzzing fervor to it that adds a large dose of aggression.

"Inkblot" is one of those textbook examples of how to open an album, especially with that great refrain that pops up towards the end. "Peer to Peer" follows the same thread and the last song to incorporate vocals, "Vigil," is a punishing and dynamic track with a spoken part and powerful build up that would be a gift to hear live.

An album that I couldn't have anticipated or assumed to sound any which way, Moksha, does in fact feel like a spiritual release; something that few bands in grindcore are even close to doing.

Check out "Inkblot" over here.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Bandcamp of the Week: My Fictions

My Fictions play a great brand of post-hardcore/screamo that's not afraid to get heavy and blast, or somber and crash. Hailing from good 'ol Lowell Massachusetts (ya might remeba it from da Fighta ya retad-go sox)* these guys do everything I could want. Super emotive, heavy, melodic, catchy, and energetic as hell, My Fictions sets the bar high for what'll me an inevitable dive into current screamo acts.

I've been digging I Want Nothing really hard, but just finding out about Always Trapped I'm in a pleasant pickle of picking which one to repeat. As I said, I'm a bit of a newbie in the world of post-harcore/screamo (whatever the hell you want to call it) but this shit kicks dick. Melody and momentous builds like Envy, yet some real stomach churning and heavy stuff borrowed from what I'm sure is a healthy hardcore upbringing in Massachusetts, the band is far from a one trick pony. The vocals are so varied and dynamic, as are the guitars as they pluck and whine, chug and thrive.

Worth a shot for fans of Pg. 99, Converge, American Nightmare, Touche Amore, Mouth of the Architect and Envy.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Skullthrone - Demo

London two piece Skullthrone are a burst of black metal that's had plenty of years to fester in punk's corpse. Their demo, recorded throughout 2010 and '11 is a nice mixture of aggressive and raw black metal which falls upon melodic and recognizable refrains yet attacks with a hardcore sense of energy.

The band's eight song demo covers a broad spectrum of approaches and does well to incorporate a slew of distinct tropes and ideas in order to create a filthy mix that strays just enough from the beaten path to keep you attentive. Opener "I" has an awesome mid song break that spins out to this hypnotic snakelike tremolo riff. It's sections like that and the midsection of "IV" that really get me going. The punky bursts in between, like the main section of "II" doesn't get me the same way, but I do like some of the curve ball sections like "III's" shamble and the d-beat urgency of "VI."

While the band's articulation and wealth of ideas does well to keep the demo varied, each track feels a bit too separate in terms of momentum. I can really dig on a track or two at a time, but with the demo playing  in full, the abrupt shifts from one track to another makes it feel a bit too unfocused. Where "I" relies heavily on blast beats and a dizzying tremolo refrain, "II" breaks into a mid-pace punk thud that doesn't connect so well. This flopping between attacks continues from one track to the next. It does show the band's prowess in terms of approach and ability to mix things up, but it feels like they're not picking the bone clean of a good idea when they find one.

But, enough complaining. I'm thankful the band doesn't suffer the opposite and run an idea into the ground. Skullthrone's demo is a promising piece of filthy black metal that should appeal to fans of Horna and similar Finnish acts, 2nd wave acts, and current raw black metal acts that offer a touch of filth and punk to their mix.

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