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Two things…

Posted on Tuesday, March 27th, 2007 @ 1:59pm » permalink

1. Does anyone by any chance in hell have Lash Out's demo in some form of high quality mp3 format? If so, please let me know. Thanks!

2. For some reason this shit is fucking killing me:

I literally laughed out loud.

Fahrenheit 451 "If I Knew Then What I Know Now – The Complete Discography" CD/DVD

Posted on Wednesday, March 21st, 2007 @ 8:05am » permalink

Fahrenheit 451 - If I Knew Then What I Know Now - The Complete DiscographyNew York's Fahrenheit 451 was always one of those bands that I meant to take a closer look at, but for whatever reason I never really did. I saw 'em live at least once in the '96 – '98 range (maybe two or three times, it's all a blur) and was curious, and I did eventually pick up their sole proper release, "The Thought of It" EP, but I'm not gonna lie: That's about all I can say in terms of my awareness of the band during the time that they were actually active. So I had intended to pick up this extensive collection when it first came out last summer (released by Awake/Strong), but it kept slipping my mind and I never did, 'cause I suck, so… yeah. What can you do? Thankfully I just got hooked up last week, and this CD/DVD set definitely offers up a shitload of evidence as to what these cats truly had to offer in their day. Rounding up all 20 of the band's studio tracks (plus two live songs from their 2005 reunion show) in just over 76 minutes, you'll get the two tracks from the "New York's Hardest" compilation (1994), the 1995 demo, "The Thought of It" EP (1996) and some 1998 bonus tracks from the EP's Japanese re-release, the Motörhead tribute cover of "No Class" (1998), and six previously unreleased tracks recorded in 1999 that were intended for a full-length that sadly never got the chance to see the light due to the band's disintegration. The tracks aren't arranged in chronological order or anything, so they start out with the demo, then the two comp tracks followed by the original EP, after which they sort of sprinkle the rest together – I guess sequencing everything in the order that sounded the best in terms of stylistic continuity or what have you. Who knows? It all sounds solid and fairly consistent regardless, so fuck it.

Fahrenheit 451's delivery was a unique amalgam of post-hardcore influences somewhat comparable to the sound of the first Orange 9mm EP (which debuted right around the same time as Fahrenheit 451's "New York's Hardest" material was recorded) with more of a hip-hop influence happening in terms of the (often awesomely energetic) vocal arrangements. However, it's neither fair nor accurate to reduce the band's output to that kind of a comparison at all, so I don't want to create that impression in any way. Compared to many of their contemporaries within similar musical circles, Fahrenheit 451 had a little more going on musically in terms of dynamics and melody. The compositions were of course driven by rhythm above all, accented by those discordant guitar textures so prevalent at the time, but there were a lot of influences swirling around in there, and you sort of have to check 'em out for yourself to really get a feel for what was happening. Sure, there are rare occurrences of traditional sounding hardcore to be found, as well as all of the staples of what's since been deemed the "post-hardcore" sound, but still… I don't know, it's something more. Their "metal" influences were definitely rather subdued, though. The songs were hard hitting and rhythmically heavy, but they certainly stayed away from breakdowns and overt metal runs. The closest they came was the occasional foray into more technically oriented and Burn-esque riffing (most notably during the stellar "Fragments of Reality"), but hey, you'll never hear me complain about that shit!

The DVD opens up with a 45-minute live set documenting the band's one-time reunion show on February 19, 2005 at CBGB. I'm not wild on watching live shows on video, and never have been, but this is definitely a solid set both in terms of the look and the sound. Surprise moments include a cover of Fugazi's "Waiting Room" and not one but two badass Burn covers ("Shall be Judged" and "Out of Time"), so… you can't really go wrong with that shit. After that it's a great documentary (also just under 45 minutes) interspersing old school Fahrenheit 451 live footage with band interviews/commentary (as well as some contributions from friends and fellow scene peeps) starting with the early days and moving on through the recording and touring cycle, the breakup, and the eventual events that led to the final reunion show. It's definitely interesting – and at times humorous – material, and I really had no fuckin' clue that so much was going on with the band "behind the scenes" in the late-90's up through 2000 what with the unreleased (until now) recordings and all that, so… it definitely makes you wonder. That 90-minute slab makes up the meat of the DVD, with a fan footage video for the track "Guided" and all of the lyrics from the accompanying CD rounding things out. The discs are housed in a nice looking six-panel digipack with shitloads of old flyers lining the inner side, plus a booklet that includes a collage of old band photos, recording credits, etc. (as mentioned all of the lyrics are on the DVD).

A damn fine discography release all in all, and one that will hopefully introduce the band to some new listeners that were too young to get on board in the 90's… as well as further educating those like myself who just didn't have a complete image of what Fahrenheit 451 laid down before going their separate ways. See what you think:

Fahrenheit 451 "Fragments of Reality"
Fahrenheit 451 "Settle"
Fahrenheit 451 "Heights and Castles"

As always, don't be a douchebag and download shit like this for free. It ain't cheap to put something like this together, so if you dig the tunes, buy one:

@ Interpunk
@ RevHQ
@ Very Distribution

And yo, Fahrenheit 451 will also be featured on the "Music by People Like Us" compilation coming out this summer on Awake/Strong. But more importantly, C…rap is running a contest right now where an unsigned band can actually win a slot on said compilation – alongside such greats as Sick of it All, Agnostic Front, Madball, District 9, and numerous others – by submitting a cassette demo. Yeah, demo tapes, remember them? So if you're in such a band, check out the full details and take a shot. Get off your lazy asses and give those CD burners a rest, kids!

Life in Your Way and Means…

Posted on Tuesday, March 20th, 2007 @ 8:18am » permalink

Life in Your Way - Waking Giants"Waking Giants" (on Solid State) is the first I've heard from Life in Your Way since their decent yet ultimately forgettable debut back in 2003, so I'm psyched that this album (their third) shows significant growth since that time. Still blending aggressive contemporary metalcore with emo-esque melodic attributes, the band's overall approach has taken a more powerful turn all around – from recording quality and performances to riffs and songwriting – resulting in a delivery that sounds, at least to my ears, sort of like Shai Hulud covering Further Seems Forever (if you can imagine that). They're more melodic than the former while (obviously) heavier than the latter, retaining the technical flare and energy found in each, so… hey, it makes sense to me! There are just a lot of subtle intricacies to the playing and arrangements: From speedy, explosive bursts of moderately technical dual guitar riffing to midpaced rhythms that utilize some great dissonant chords – as well as lush, droning effects and lighter fare (which is often interspersed with the more aggressive riffing to create a true fusion of influences and dynamics). And the vocals, of course, jump from super intense screaming to polished, high-quality singing. While I do prefer the sheer force of the screaming, it's all well presented within the context of the material, so I don't find the signing (which does fall into the minority) to detract from the impact of the album as a whole. As with most every Solid State release everything looks and sounds quite nice, too. I could probably stand for a hint more oomph in the recording department, but fuck it, I'm not complaining… it sounds pretty damn good across the board. Good stuff. I'll be curious to investigate their second record now, as well as waiting to see where they go from here. It's always awesome to see bands come into their own like this and progress to their full potential. Good stuff.

Life in Your Way "Reach the End"
Life in Your Way "We Don't Believe"

Make the grab if this your thing, downloading is for suckers:

@ Solid State
@ RevHQ

Means - Sending You Strength"Sending You Strength" is my first exposure to promising Canadian metalcore outfit Means, and in my opinion it's also the strongest release to date from Facedown Records. Their style is a diverse yet completely coherent form of contemporary metalcore that combines chugging heaviness and overt melody through numerous shifts in tempo and riffing, and in many respects I'd say their delivery is comparable to a not-quite-as-technical Misery Signals – just for reference. Though dominated by intense screaming, the vocal performance does run the gamut of screaming, shouting, speaking, and singing – but without sounding cheesy or "emo", which is great. They're shooting – and succeeding – to capture a memorable and energetic framework here, as opposed to trying to write songs that are "catchy" per se. It's not exactly inventive at this point in time, but they've got an extremely strong grasp on what they're doing, and those strengths are what really counts. There are some great passages where they let the four-piece lineup shine by allowing the basslines to play a very active role in countering some of the softer clean guitars and whatnot, while the heavier playing utilizes plenty of layered guitar interaction – from your basic chunky breakdown grooves to dissonant arpeggios, atypical chord phrasings, and winding pull-off runs. So while there are indeed subtle complexities going on, the focus remains on the quality of the songwriting, which is something that I wish more bands within this general realm would devote more attention to. The fact that they've also got a great recording certainly doesn't hurt. Everything sounds crisp and balanced, so I've got nothing but kind words in that department as well. I generally don't care for the style of cover art they've got going on here, to be honest, but there's something about the artwork that grabs my attention as well, I don't know… This is just a great record, and I'll be looking forward to hearing more.

Means "Connected"
Means "Looking For Life"

Pick one up if you dig the tracks:

@ Facedown Records
@ RevHQ
@ Very Distribution

Permanent and My Turn to Win…

Posted on Monday, March 19th, 2007 @ 8:40am » permalink

Permanent - Sink|SwimAfter a CD-R demo and a 7"/CD EP, I believe "Sink|Swim" (on 6131 Records) is being billed as the first "full-length" from Permanent, though its 10 succinct tracks clock in at a little less than 22 minutes. But that's of little concern, because this is some absolutely excellent melodic hardcore that ranks among the finest I've heard from the genre in quite some time. Something about the recording feels just a touch thin (Maybe the way the vocals are mixed?) and took my ears a few minutes to adjust to, so I think there's minor room for improvement there (granted it does sound pretty damn good overall, don't get me wrong), but this band is basically dead on the fuckin' mark with everything they deliver herein. Only one track tops three minutes and they blaze right through loads of energetic bursts of speedy power chords accented by ringing dissonance and melodic octave chords, as well as subtly technical undercurrents in terms of the layering of midpaced rhythms with 90's sounding palm-muting and arpeggiated riffing – not to mention some sparse clean/acoustic passages that also play into that whole 90's sounding angle (and believe me, all that stuff is sorely missed by these ears in much of today's hardcore, so I'm loving it here). And then all of this is fronted by straight yelling vocals that have a really sincere feel happening, which works great with the similarly-toned lyrical content:

Find me the ways to sleep straight through these days, it's a funny thing… mistakes and regrets, they lend themselves so easily when I need them the least. I'll make my way through this city read the names and I'll walk these streets, the walls are talking, but I don't dare speak. Walk 'til my legs buckle, watch them give way. Say, "Fuck it, let winters fade the grey." Let's let picture perfect smiles remain in picture perfect lives let loyalty end where the paint chips away, let my efforts toward disaster lead the life where I can stand to see the same name to trace… It's cold standing here in the street. There were days I would have fought, but I've spent too long waiting for storms to clear these streets. Well let the winters fade the grey, and goddamn the ways they change.

In many ways this material is comparable to a number of other bands of the last decade(-ish) that operate within a similar span of influences, but Permanent definitely has a stronger than average grasp on quality songwriting and overall impact – perhaps because they keep things so concise and focused, which definitely adds force to the delivery. These dudes are from right here in Richmond, VA but sadly this is the first time I've heard 'em 'cause I'm a fucking hermit and I don't know what the hell's going on out there. But I'll damn sure be keeping an eye out for future output from this band. Great work.

Permanent "To Repel Ghosts"
Permanent "Can't Settle"

Highly recommended, so definitely make the grab if this is your thing:

@ Interpunk
@ RevHQ

My Turn to Win - Whatever it Takes"Whatever it Takes" is the debut EP from Philadelphia/New Jersey hardcore act My Turn to Win on Awake/Strong. Look for seven tracks of fast, energetic, traditionally based hardcore in about 11 minutes as every song is less than two minutes long. There's just a hint of added heaviness and a few minor dashes of light melody or dissonance, but for the most part they stick to the basics, so it's not at all "moshy" or anything like that. It definitely has an old school sort of vibe happening in terms of the overall structure and feel of the material, but there's a good sense of depth to the recording that keeps things sounding full and in your face, and they're not heading in that generic "youth crew" direction or anything like that. Plus, the tempo range sticks with more of a midpaced to moderately fast stroll, which allows the throbbing basslines to sound fuckin' killer right in the heart of the mix, so it's not one of those "all go, no slow" situations either. I don't know, I hate to keep it so brief, but they take care of business and wrap things up pretty damn quick on this one, so… that's all there is to it. Not bad at all.

My Turn to Win "Far Out"

As always, support the band and the label by picking up a copy if you like what you hear:

@ Interpunk
@ RevHQ
@ Very Distribution

Death Militia "You Can't Kill What's Already Dead: Anthology 1985 – 1988" CD

Posted on Friday, March 16th, 2007 @ 8:50am » permalink

Death Militia - You Can't Kill What's Already Dead: Anthology 1985 - 1988The first release from the sure-to-continually-impress Evil Legend Records is the complete discography from obscure Canadian thrashers Death Militia. Amongst the rather hefty 15-track, 77-minute collection are the "Onslaught of Death" (1985), "To Serve and Protect" (1987), and "One Day Closer to Hell" (1988) demos, as well as a handful of raw 1987/1988 instrumental rehearsal tracks. It would seem that Death Militia were another in a long line of bands that sadly never got the chance to put together a full-length LP, as the two tracks from 1988's "One Day Closer to Hell" demo provide a fucking awesome display of growth: Slightly heavier than the '87 tracks – though also a hint more melodic – and equally as memorable, just with more developed riffing and arrangements. It's odd that there's such a prominent influence of traditional, stripped down heavy metal present in many of the tracks from "To Serve and Protect" (I assume attributed to the lineup changes that transpired over time), whereas "Onslaught of Death" offers the band's fastest and most primal thrash, but whatever the case there's some undeniably killer metal to be heard herein.

All of the songs have been remastered, of course, which seems to add some nice crispness to the basslines, which I love. You've gotta expect for the sound quality of such a release to be rough around the edges, 'cause I mean, hell, some of these tracks are over two decades old, but this shit holds up very well (to the point where I'm not sure why there's no chronological sequencing to the tracklist, but fuck it). It's somewhat thin in areas, but there's very little detectable wear in the source tapes, and even the rehearsal tracks are surprisingly listenable – a rare occurrence indeed, especially for finicky ears like mine. The same even goes for the '85 demo, which was recorded on a friggin' boom box! Who would've guessed? And topping it all off is a fucking massive 20-page booklet with tons of old photos and flyers and whatnot from back in the day, as well as band-penned liner notes on all of the tracks (in lieu of lyrics, I suppose). There's also a relatively brief yet informative Death Militia interview by (and liner note contributions from) Laurent Ramadier of the mighty Snakepit magazine, so there's plenty to read look/through. It really is a very impressive booklet that goes above and beyond – certainly giving other labels something to strive for when working on releases of this nature.

Death Militia "Begin the Last Rites"
Death Militia "Killing Time"
Death Militia "Death Militia"

I'm all about these kinds of releases, so I highly encourage you to please show your support and pick one up if you're an old school thrash metal fanatic. I can't fucking stand the fact that so many people leech these types of CD's off of free downloads and crap like that, especially given the contents of the booklet and all that jazz. It's only $11 straight from the label, so take care of business:

@ Evil Legend Records

Ashes Are Nutritious and The Canvas Waiting…

Posted on Thursday, March 15th, 2007 @ 7:44am » permalink

Ashes Are Nutritious - Frustration +On "Frustration +", their first full-length outing, New Jersey's Ashes Are Nutritious cranks out a strange amalgam of sort of post- sort of prog- rock/hardcore/metal that falls somewhere along the lines of Tool meets Glassjaw meets Alien Ant Farm meets a non-obnoxious System of a Down. The unusual – though generally tasteful – vocal delivery definitely plays a significant role in the parallels drawn to all of the aforementioned acts, but musically there's a lot of uncommon ground covered as well – especially considering that many of the tracks are but a mere three minutes or less, granted some do reach towards the seven-minute range (and then there's the massive 20-minute closing jam, "Siafu"). I'm not entirely sold on every ounce of it, but there are tons of bizarre twists and mangled rhythms – from dense yet melodic chord progressions and heavier straightforward rhythmic grooves to winding, meandering dissonant riffs and gratingly noisy guitar textures. The rather energetic drumming tends to run all over the place, perhaps following the path of the hammering basslines, so I really dig the work of the rhythm section here. The bassist is a fuckin' nut, that's for sure. Great bass tone/presence, too. I don't know, like I said, I'm not entirely sold on every single aspect of the record, but there's a lot of cool shit going on, and it's definitely curious/promising, so I'll be interested to see what the future holds for these cats. Not bad.

Ashes Are Nutritious "Protrusion of Truth"
Ashes Are Nutritious "G.P.D."

Support the band and make the grab if you're intrigued:

@ CD Baby

The Canvas Waiting - In Search of Beginnings..."In Search of Beginnings…" is the fairly promising seven-song debut EP from The Canvas Waiting. Originally released in 2005, this 2006 repress includes some acoustic demo tracks as a bonus, totaling 11 songs in a surprisingly meaty 50-minute running time. I'd basically describe the core of the material as relatively standard emo/indie rock with somewhat of a "mainstream" or "alternative" edge to it – basically meaning that it sounds super polished in terms of the production values and the overall delivery of the performances. In many ways the band's softer and more restrained side dominates with a lush blend of droning lead lines and brighter clean runs accompanied by some strong vocal arrangements – only occasionally putting forth harder hitting midpaced rhythms that never get particularly "heavy" per se. So I'd definitely prefer to hear a little more distortion and energy to pick up the pace and add additional contrast to the compositions, as the generally laidback nature of the songwriting lacks some of the emphatic catchiness that I tend to look for within this niche. As mentioned, the recording is pretty damn crisp and clean, so I've got no complaints there, though my one suggestion (playing into what I said about contrast) would be to kick the distortion up a bit to thicken up the more rocked out guitar parts. I'm not blown away, but there are definitely numerous characteristics of this EP that possess a level of quality that suggests greater capabilities to be revealed in time. The title track is seven minutes long, which is perhaps a bit much, so if they trim the fat and push to maximize their strengths by amping up those energy levels, they'll get there…

The Canvas Waiting "Carousel Ride"

If you dig the track, pick one up, and look out for more:

@ CD Baby

Die Young "Graven Images" CD

Posted on Tuesday, March 13th, 2007 @ 7:21am » permalink

Die Young - Graven ImagesDespite the band having released several EP's and a full-length prior, "Graven Images" is my first true exposure to the prolific Texas hardcore outfit Die Young (on Eulogy Recordings). And while I was fairly certain that I would enjoy the album – which crams an impressive 15 succinctly focused tracks into about 25 minutes – I had no idea that it would be as inspired and powerful as it is. You never know what to expect from a metal-tinged hardcore band whose frontman calls himself "The Rev. White Devil", but in this case all of the anger, frustration, and aggression is shockingly well-intentioned and directed. Hell, the booklet even intersperses the lyrics with a slew of insightful quotes from George Orwell, Jack Kerouac, Freud, and Shakespeare, among numerous others, so there's a hell of a lot to be said with this one.

Musically it's a fairly straightforward attack of heavy, energetic hardcore that keeps the metal influences very much under control in terms of tossing in some extra chunkiness and groove to the rhythms – only occasionally venturing beyond the standard chord formations and arrangements of this niche of the genre for more varied and creative explorations (some of which start to flirt with some melodic attributes). While there's a certain Catharsis-esque ferocity to the vocal performance, the core of the songwriting is definitely more rooted in traditional hardcore – granted this is very far from some "old school" throwback. Straight up, fast, three-chord hardcore does rear its head here and there, but overall it's more of a Ringworm meets Madball fusion in many respects. Though, given the lyrical angle, they definitely switch up that whole vibe, too. But the great thing about their handling of that aspect is that it's intelligent and artistic without a single ounce of the pomposity or self-righteous bullshit that so often accompanies such socio-politically driven content:

He sprayed his brains upon the wall – another masterpiece. May he rest in peace… Behind flimsy facades of safety, comfort and luxury, their hearts hearken the call of siren songs in their secret dreams to lust and squander all. When the last horizon is reached, the final challenge won, what then will fill the void of at last being content? Glut yourselves, there's no escape from the pain. How many lives have been betrayed by American Dreams? The obituary reads: Another wealthy man paints his masterpiece. Why is it that those who sleep on the streets would rather live to see another day? We need the struggle to survive.

The recording kicks ass, too: Nice and balanced with a killer bass tone and natural sounding percussion to boot. So, yeah… all that, plus a killer layout. And they close the booklet with the statement, "If you bought this album because Jesus is on the cover, the joke's on you!" Awesome. I'm sold.

Die Young "The Dying Atheist"
Die Young "Graven Images"

This one's just hitting the streets today, and is quite clearly recommended from this end, so… show some support and fuckin' pick one up:

@ Eulogy Recordings

Furious Styles "Life Lessons" CD

Posted on Monday, March 12th, 2007 @ 7:34am » permalink

Furious Styles - Life Lessons"Life Lessons" is the debut full-length from Seattle's Furious Styles on Hand of Hope Records, and while I've never been fond of some of the real world scenarios that can arise from the "toughguy" mentality, when it comes to bands who deliver this style of brutish metallic hardcore I fuckin' eat it up, and this record delivers said style in the finest form I've encountered in recent months. While its 12 tracks only run a mere 25 minutes, every song's a keeper, and the band definitely has their own sort of sound happening in terms of utilizing some hip-hop influenced vocal arrangements over a rather Madball-esque musical backdrop. They certainly never bring such vocal/lyrical attributes to an E.Town Concrete level or anything like that, though, and many of the vocals are just your standard shouts – so the material should definitely appeal to fans of concise, to the point metallic hardcore based around moderately fast power chords and chugging breakdowns with a great balance of churning metal (not to mention some slick solos) and hardcore energy. The recording took me just a little getting used to for some reason, but I've got no complaints. I think I'd like to hear the basslines become even more prominent given the aesthetics of some of the material (and the fact that some of the playing seems pretty tight), but whatever, you know? Great cover art, too. I don't know, that's pretty much all I can say. I've been looking for some more of this kind of stuff to spin lately and this record totally hits the spot. Great shit.

Furious Styles "Born on the Outside"
Furious Styles "Mind Your Business"

Damn sure recommended, so buy the fuckin' CD if you dig the tracks, okay? Get to it:

@ Hand of Hope Records
@ RevHQ
@ Very Distribution

Marat and This Time it's War…

Posted on Tuesday, March 6th, 2007 @ 8:50am » permalink

Marat - Demo 2006The first release in a series of 3" CD-R's from Yellow Dog Records comes from Marat (The Netherlands), who delivers four rather succinct tracks of blazing hardcore/punk with metallic screamo tendencies in just under 10 minutes. Driven by dense, hammering percussion and raging screams, the core riffs sway from grating dissonance with thick, pulsing rhythmic undercurrents to faster and more traditionally hardcore-oriented chords with just a little bit of melody tucked away from time to time. They've got a very solid recording happening for a demo, especially when you consider the aggressive and at times acerbic nature of the material and some of the looser performance attributes that come along with such a delivery. No lyrics are included, but the disc is packaged in a miniature DVD-styled case with a simple black and white cover, so that gets the job done. However, to my great dismay, this was both the first and the last release from the band, as they called it quits in November of 2006 after less than a year together. A damn shame, as this is a promising set of tunes that would've had me hankering for a full-length. Oh well, shit happens, I guess… but at least they had it in 'em to document these four compositions!

Marat "As Close As We Get"

I believe this one's only available direct from the label, so pick one up if you like what you hear… it'll obviously be your only chance to get your hands on some material from these cats:

@ Yellow Dog Records

This Time it's War - s/tAnother four-song demo comes in the form of this self-titled CD-R from This Time it's War, who are actually from here in Richmond, VA. True, their style is a relatively standard form of melodic Swedish death metal in large part – based around loads of dual guitar harmonies and some chunkier rhythms that do possess somewhat of a "metalcore" groove at times, but they also spice things up with some more aggressive and technical flare – not to mention some fucking ripping solos that are actually pretty god damn impressive. Plus, I find that their uses of speed are far more energetic and memorable than most such bands, as they're all about riffs rather than simply falling back on basic tremolo picking runs and all that mess, so there are actually some pretty badass little meaty intricacies to be found herein. The recording does sound like a demo to a degree, but it's fully competent and boasts a well-balanced mix that gives the massive bass tone a good deal of breathing room, which is definitely a nice touch. With minor polishing up they'd be ready for a full-length on all fronts, that's for sure. Like I said, it may not be the most original demo out there, but there's a rounded sense of quality to the performances and the overall vibe of the material, so I'm intrigued. I'd like to hear them push the boundaries a little more than they already are, but you can't fuck with some of these riffs, man…

This Time it's War "The Lord of the Flies"

You can order this one for $6ppd through the band's MySpace page, so get to it if you're into the track above. This style may remain a bit overdone, but I'm still won over when a band knows how to do it right, and these dudes definitely have a grasp on it, so I'll be looking forward to hearing how their songwriting progresses in the future. Not bad.

Comeback Kid and A Day to Remember…

Posted on Monday, March 5th, 2007 @ 9:11am » permalink

Comeback Kid - Broadcasting...Upon my first few listens to "Broadcasting…", the latest from Canada's Comeback Kid (again on Victory Records), I couldn't quite decide what I thought of it. I liked it just fine, that was never an issue, I just couldn't really make up my mind about much of anything beyond that. As the tone of the killer layout would suggest, it's a little darker than the band's past efforts – musically and lyrically – which brings with it a more aggressive approach. Don't get me wrong, it's still super melodic and bursting with fast-paced riffing and energetic arrangements complete with loads of octave chords and huge gang vocals – hell, there are even some hints at "singing" here and there (it's really more of a "yelled singing", to be honest) – but there's definitely a slightly heavier bent happening in there this time around, though it may escape cursory listens. As with other hardcore acts that have taken this more artistic and developed approach in recent years, some of the catchiness of the band's prior work is lost, but Comeback Kid have definitely retained more of those characteristics than many of their contemporaries – so their foray towards more creative avenues (which I always respect in full regardless) has actually been among the more successful of such pursuits within the genre. There are some totally raging basslines present, and I love the more discordant and technical riffing with lots of dual guitar interaction that's starting to present itself. I think that from a listener's perspective some of the "uncertainties" of the album are probably stemming from the fact that it seems to be the first step towards something even grander… and that's what I'm really looking forward to experiencing. This is good stuff, though.

Comeback Kid "In Case of Fire"
Comeback Kid "Defeated"

This one's definitely growing on me with time. The more I listen to it the more the little badass intricacies start to jump out. Certainly recommended:

@ Victory Records
@ RevHQ

A Day to Remember - For Those Who Have HeartWhen I first popped this CD in I was fully expecting it to suck – and I know that plenty of the people who read this site will find that to be the case regardless – because something about the look of it just didn't seem like it would be my thing. I had completely forgotten that I reviewed the band's debut a couple of years ago and pretty much trashed it – which is just as well, 'cause had I recalled that fact I might not have bothered to listen to this record at all. But if nothing else Victory Records is still good for handing bands enough money to get a nice sounding recording – granted A Day to Remember has vastly improved their songwriting on their first outing for the label, "For Those Who Have Heart", so they deserve most of the credit there. As with their debut the framework takes fast, melodic hardcore rhythms and emo-ish levels of blatant catchiness in the singing combined with chunkier metalcore riffing and harsher vocals, so there's still somewhat of a disjointed range of influences happening, but the recording is perfectly solid and I really like the bulk of the material quite a bit. Everything is far more energetic and memorable, so when held against the improved production values that makes a huge difference. Sure, it's not exactly original, but at the same time it does take a little bit of a different approach. Now that they've nailed down the way that they handle all of their influences they're heavier than most of their emo-leaning contemporaries and catchier than most of those more in the metalcore vein, so… while there's still room for improvement, this is a massive step forward, and I really dig the result.

A Day to Remember "Fast Forward to 2012"
A Day to Remember "The Plot to Bomb the Panhandle"

Come on, you know you kinda like it, so pick one up:

@ Victory Records
@ RevHQ

Decimate "In the Name of a God" CD

Posted on Friday, March 2nd, 2007 @ 9:57am » permalink

Decimate - In the Name of a GodSadly, it was just recently that I was introduced to "In the Name of a God": The amazing 2001 debut EP from UK metalcore act (emphasis on the metal) Decimate on the now defunct (I think?) Blackfish Records. It seems pretty damn tough to come by these days, but luckily for me my man XBenX from the totally badass new mp3 blog No Need to Belong was able to score me a copy in no time at all – I don't know how the hell he did it, but thanks! I seriously can't believe I had never heard this shit before either, because it's five tracks and 20 minutes of absolute 90's-styled metalcore perfection. Put it this way: It's comes as no surprise that the band repeatedly chants, "All out war!", during the opening title track, because these jams sound almost eerily similar to the band of the same name. There's a little Arkangel in there too, but better. These cats just kill it on this one. I'm talking nothing but fucking sick, devastating midpaced breaks; moderately fast, chugging rhythms; thick, dissonant riffs with just a smidge of melody; and fierce, snarling vocals. There's a minor hint of death metal happening in there, and very little semblance of actual hardcore, but hey: That's what made this particular niche of "metalcore" so damn great in its heyday! And the recording on this fuckin' thing! I mean, damn! I always thought Dave Chang was pretty hit and miss, but holy shit… this thing sounds totally golden. The guitar tone alone is among the best I've ever heard for this particular style, so I'm just totally floored by this release across the board. Great, great stuff, and totally recommended for those who were super into this kind of thing back in the 90's.

Decimate "In the Name of a God"
Decimate "Regret"

As stated, this overlooked gem is pretty scarce these days, but it seems that the band might have a handful left, so shoot 'em an email and see what happens.

Decimate actually just released their debut full-length in 2006, which I haven't heard in its entirety, but it seems like they went for a faster and even more outright (death) metal-based style that, honestly, I don't enjoy nearly as much as this EP. It seems alright, but a little more commonplace by contemporary standards, and it just lacks the power of the approach they were working with in the beginning. I don't know, you can check out a few tracks on MySpace and see what you think.

You can't fuck with this EP, though… that shit is just phenomenal on every level!

Aerial "The Sentinel" CD

Posted on Thursday, March 1st, 2007 @ 8:39am » permalink

Aerial - The SentinelAerial (Sweden) returns with "The Sentinel", again from No Method, offering up nine tracks and 40 minutes of that sprawling "post-rock" type of angle. This time out the compositions tend to be shorter than those on their debut, also employing a hint more vocals, though it's still a largely instrumental journey that bears something of a cinematic quality to its overall presentation/delivery. The dense, crisp, natural recording works quite nicely to highlight the band's uses of space and layering as the instruments interact – often holding the vocals farther back in the core of the mix – and as expected they've retained a lot of back and forth between dynamics, utilizing gradual transitions to ease the flow. Thick, pulsing basslines weave together with superbly fluid percussive work that blends restrained patterns with tight, rigid bursts; while soft, somber clean passages with the aesthetics of indie rock present a humming sort of brightness. Although, the bulk of the textures and arrangements kind of carry those same "bright" qualities, really – even when things become heavier and more subtly aggressive. And beyond those "aggressive" tendencies lies some rather noisy guitar work that walks a droning sort of line and crosses over into more acerbic territory on occasion. While I'm not a huge fan of that element in most cases, it's a very minor part of the overall approach here, and Aerial very much handles everything they do with a great deal of tact and artistry. There are even some unexpectedly sinister undercurrents from time to time, most notably during the occasional – though infrequent – uses of samples. The disc is housed in a nice, simple little glossy digipack to round things out, making for another pleasant release from the band. Well done.

Aerial "You Will All Die, All Things Will"

Absolutely pick up a copy if the music interests you:

@ It's a Trap