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Lighthouse Project "Misanthropic Humanist" 7"/DVD

Posted on Thursday, July 31st, 2008 @ 6:45am » permalink

Lighthouse Project - Misanthropic HumanistThe latest from Finland's Lighthouse Project is the four-track 7"/DVD set "Misanthropic Humanist", from Combat Rock Industry. This is probably their most diverse outing to date, as each track sort of heads in its own slightly different direction, but everything still comes across as cohesive, which is great. Opener "It's Me – The Destroyer" kicks off with a dark edge that builds up slowly over the course of more than two minutes before the song really takes shape and the vocals kick in; "Remember Where You Come From" takes the energy and zippy picking patterns of the band's older material and flips it around with some discordant chord phrasings and somewhat of a somber feel; "The Leaves of One Tree, the Drops of One Ocean" has a little more of a spacious, jangly sort of indie/screamo sort of thing going on to some degree; and then "Now You Just Know My Name" sort of fuses all of these different sounds, tempos, and emotional atmospheres together into one composition with a smidge of added chaos and intensity. I'm now starting to notice some peculiarities with the band's production values that are minor setbacks (in this case things sound just a little too flat or dry), so it'd be cool to hear them find a way to thicken things up without losing any of that clarity in the mix or shifting the balance between the instruments, but… other than that I'm always intrigued by Lighthouse Project's new material, and several of these songs really grow on you with repeated listens.

Lighthouse Project "Remember Where You Come From"

I don't have the DVD, so I can't speak to its contents, but the release as a whole appears to be limited to just 500 copies. It hit the streets earlier this month, but from what I can tell it's really hard to find for some reason. In fact, I can't really find it anywhere other than the label's eBay store, where the price is pretty god damn insane, so… I don't know. Maybe hit up the band on MySpace to see if they have any copies for sale themselves?

The Process "Rosenkreutz" CD

Posted on Wednesday, July 30th, 2008 @ 5:53am » permalink

The Process - Rosenkreutz"Rosenkreutz" is the long-awaited full-length debut from abstruse UK hardcore act The Process, released by Violent Change. The Process features members of Shank, Scatha, Atomgevitter, In Decades Decline, and King Generator churning out a varied yet cohesive brand of metallic hardcore/punk that ranges from driving midpaced power chords and breakdowns to traditional-sounding old school hardcore given a furious overhaul to borderline grinding blasts – all fronted by harsh, relentless, full-on yelling and delivered with with an efficiently raw recording that keeps things sounding dirty and textured without lacking any clarity or balance. Nine-minute closer "Thee Chymical Wedding ov Thee Process (The Process of the Chemical Wedding)" even accentuates some of the slower, sludgier aspects of their approach subtly hinted at elsewhere, utilizing some droning feedback, spoken passages, and even trombone and piano, which – shockingly enough – actually fit, making for a pretty epic build-up with loads of layering that all caves into a brief experimental noise outro. When all is said and done (on a merely superficial level, that is), it's nine tracks, 36 minutes, in your face, short but sweet. This is definitely the strongest material I've heard from The Process to date, and seeing as they're a rather curious unit, I'll certainly be interested to see where they go next…

The Process "In the Eye of the Tempest"

Purchase:

@ Out of Step Records (CD)
@ Interpunk (CD)
@ Amazon.com (mp3)

Seven songs…

Posted on Friday, July 25th, 2008 @ 12:00am » permalink

Seven songs...

So, I was "tagged" by Cosmo at the always interesting (and unpredictable) Invisible Oranges to do this "meme" thing:

List seven songs you're into right now. No matter what genre, whether they have words, or even if they're not any good. But they must be songs you're really enjoying now. Post these instructions in your blog along with your seven songs, then tag seven other people to see what they're listening to.

My list will most certainly not be as diverse as the one he posted, and really won't be any different from the usual fare around here, but… it should be fun, and some of these songs/bands deserve the plug anyway! I'm not "tagging" anyone, though. I just don't have it in me, ha…

Oh, and I despise the word "meme"!

Anyway…

1. Lash Out "Evening Shade"
(from the "Worn Path" 12"/CD, 1994)
Utterly fucking destructive track from one of the greatest bands ever to walk the planet, and easily the most unsung metallic hardcore band of the 90's, without question. Go to Google right now and look these guys up and you'll barely find shit of any substance beyond their MySpace page and maybe four blog posts. Disgusting. This band was so fucking good it's ridiculous. I was gonna reissue all this shit myself but I ran into some heavy personal problems (life ain't a treat sometimes) and had to kill it at the last minute. I think another label's gonna pick up the pieces (I hope), so damn sure keep an eye out for that. There are just so many worship-worthy songs in the Lash Out discography, but this tune in particular is right up their with Integrity's finest in terms of the degree to which it makes me want to destroy all living things (and I mean that in a good way, of course). Absolutely amazing.

2. Underdog "Never Too Late"
(from the "Demos" CD, 1993)
I revisited "Vanishing Point" a couple months ago and still don't "get it", but the Underdog demos are total fuckin' gold. "Frontside Grind" is always the first track that comes to mind, but damn, this song's just stupid catchy. It's barely over a minute long, so I guess "stupid catchy" is all I've got here.

3. Elements DEC "The Game Ain't the Same"
(from the "Win or Lose" demo, 1996)
I've been rockin' the two demos from these painfully, painfully, painfully overlooked New Jersey cats a whole hell of a lot lately (again). It seriously causes me physical pain to ponder the fact that material this fucking good never gets released, and that bands this amazing can just fizzle away in a flash. I mean, how did E.Town Concrete do so well and Elements DEC just disappear!? Insane! It's entirely possible that very few people outside of New Jersey would've ever heard these tracks were it not for my website, and that's just wrong on so many levels. Criminal.

4. Christie Front Drive "Pipe"
(from the "Anthology" CD, 1995)
As I often do, like an idiot, I sold this CD way back when (don't ask me why, 'cause I have no fuckin' clue), and then finally revisited the band a few weekends ago when I randomly went on an obscure 90's emo kick. I ended up re-buying all their tracks off eMusic, and this collection disc remains their finest effort, in my opinion. I thought two-minute long instrumental intros were exclusive to late-80's/early-90's thrash metal, but apparently the tactic is equally effective for relatively laidback midwest emo, as it's quite obvious that this song is gonna rule right from the start.

5. Ire "Percept"
(from the "I Discern an Overtone of Tragedy in Your Voice…" CD, 1998)
By far the best song this band ever recorded. It just destroys everything else Ire ever did, I don't care what anyone says. I saw these guys play in someone's basement with Cave In back in the day and bought this disc afterwards largely due to this track, which totally killed it live as well. It still randomly pops into my head now and then, which is rare for a song like this that's not exactly "catchy" in any way. The break about three-and-a-half minutes in where it drops out to clean guitars and really accentuates the insanity of the vocals is just mindbendingly twisted (yes, once more in a good way).

6. (216) "Hands Bound"
(from the "s/t" CD, 1998)
For some bizarre reason (216) never really seemed to get their due outside the Mushroomhead crowd, despite the Integrity and In Cold Blood connections. I guess because this disc was never exactly easy to get your hands on, but… whatever the case: Great band, great album, awesome song. Fuckin' amazing chorus, too. A damn shame these guys never did another record.

7. Eidolon "Cranes"
(from the "Sanctuary" CD, 1992)
I never really knew anything about this band whatsoever, but I bought this CD blindly a long, long time ago just because it was on Jade Tree, and "Cranes", the opening track, kicked my ass all over the place immediately. The rest of the album isn't spectacular, but it does have its moments. Easily worth the price for this masterpiece alone, though. Super, super moving emo fused with what ended up being tagged "post-hardcore", not to mention some of the noisy, droning guitars that ended up being tagged "post-rock"… so, yeah, pretty ahead of its time, really. This song still kills me to this day.

(And for the record, I absolutely would've listed "Lycanthrope" by +44 above, as I've played it a ton lately, but I'm too wary of posting still-in-print major label tracks. I almost posted Harold Faltermeyer's "Fletch Theme", too. Classic.)

Crowns of Kings "Lifeline" CD

Posted on Thursday, July 24th, 2008 @ 4:26am » permalink

Crowns of Kings - Lifeline"Lifeline" is the debut full-length from Connecticut's Crowns of Kings (on Reaper Records), and continues in a similar vein as the material from their split with Price of Pain (the material from which appears here in re-recorded form). Expect 14 tracks of short, straight to the point metallic hardcore in just 26 minutes, with a hint more diversity and a stronger recording than the band's prior work. Here and there they'll toss in a smidge of melody or subtly more metal-based riffing (check the ripping solos in "Another Bump"), but for the most part everything's driven by fast-paced power chords and tactfully chunky breakdowns with gruffly shouted vocals. The usual, sure, but if ain't broke, don't fix it. This style of hardcore doesn't need all kinds of extravagant flourishes to get the job done (quite the opposite, in fact), and these songs keep things focused and in your face with a good sense of energy, so there's not really any time to get bored. That's all there is to it, really. Good stuff.

Crowns of Kings "Starting Over"
Crowns of Kings "C.T.H.C."

Purchase:

@ Reaper Records (CD)
@ RevHQ (CD)
@ Very Distribution (CD)
@ iTunes (mp3)

Behexen "My Soul for His Glory" CD

Posted on Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008 @ 6:40am » permalink

Behexen - My Soul for His Glory"My Soul for His Glory" is the third full-length from longstanding Finnish black metal crew Behexen (on Hammer of Hate), who I had never heard much from in the past. Apparently this album's been getting mixed reviews from some of the band's more "hardcore" fans, but… I don't understand where all the complaints are coming from at all. The compositions offer up a wide variety of black metal aesthetics, from the usual doses of blazing tremolo picking and blasting percussion to forays into that more discordant and cold, crawling riffing style, as well as a number of surprisingly stripped down and simplistically pounding "old school" black metal rhythms – to the point of flirting with an almost hardcore/punk edge to some of the chord progressions in rare instances. But everything's nice and consistent overall, it's not one of those situations where each song sounds like it should be from a different album or something like that. All of the varying approaches share common ground, and the songwriting's pretty damn forceful, too. Plus the recording's nice and balanced, with a good bass presence, natural sounding drum tones, and a shitload of texture to the guitars; the cover art looks cool (I don't have the complete package)… it's all solid in my book. I don't know what the hell some people are complaining about, but fuck 'em.

Behexen "Born in the Serpent of the Abyss"

This one's now distributed digitally through MetalHit.com for a mere $7.20, and will probably be more widely available on CD later this year as I think Moribund Records will be doing an "official" US release. But The End already has the CD in stock as well, so… either way you should be set.

Purchase:

@ MetalHit.com (mp3)
@ Amazon.com (mp3)
@ eMusic (mp3)
@ iTunes (mp3)
@ The End Records (CD)

My Heart to Joy at the Same Tone "Virgin Sails" 7"

Posted on Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008 @ 5:53am » permalink

My Heart to Joy at the Same Tone - Virgin Sails"Virgin Sails" is the latest three-track EP from Connecticut act My Heart to Joy at the Same Tone (on Triumph of Life Records), and my first exposure to the band's work. There's a predominantly emo/indie rock vibe going on, but the aggression level does lean more towards the "screamo" side of things – just without any of the negative connotations that can sometimes follow that particular tag. There's a good mix of more-distorted-than-average chord progressions and almost frantic percussive bursts alongside loosely delivered melodies and occasional clean breaks, while the vocals are more of a shouting/yelling style (with some singing) than screaming. I guess what I'm trying to say is that they fall into that category of bands that plays a little wilder and looser and kicks things up a little more in terms of overall intensity, but they're not chaotic or grating (at least not on this EP, some of their earlier work sounds a touch harsher, but still very strong). The songs are well written and focused, and it's an enjoyable listen that piques your interest in where they'll go next.

My Heart to Joy at the Same Tone "The Hours Change So We Don't Have To"

I'm not sure I fully understand why (though I certainly appreciate it), but this one's available as a free download or an actual 7" release. A mere eight-and-a-half minutes of material damn sure leaves you wanting more, but thankfully you can download some (All?) of the band's prior work to check out as well! If you prefer vinyl/physical copies, make the grab from the band or label below for about $4. Otherwise, hit up the band's MySpace page for complete downloads…

Purchase:

@ My Heart to Joy at the Same Tone
@ Triumph of Life Records

Parlamentarisk Sodomi "Har du Sagt 'A' Får du si 'Nal'" CD

Posted on Monday, July 21st, 2008 @ 6:49am » permalink

Parlamentarisk Sodomi - Har du Sagt 'A' Får du si 'Nal'It's interesting that Norwegian grind unit Parlamentarisk Sodomi was mentioned a few times in the comments of my "Most underrated albums of all time?" post a couple weeks ago, as the band was kind enough to send me a copy of the "Har du Sagt 'A' Får du si 'Nal'" CD (on No Escape Records) a month or two ago, and I just hadn't gotten around to writing it up yet. In the band's own words, "This CD compiles the long out of print 2006 and 2007 Parlamentarisk Sodomi demos, excluding a few shit songs which have been replaced by three new, less shit songs." I actually wrote about one of the band's demos early last year and referred to it as "classic, textbook grind", and that statement still stands today, as this disc collects 15 tracks of absolutely fierce, raging, no nonsense grindcore in less than a half-hour. No song hits three minutes and they just tear through track after track of high-speed attack with forcefully growled vocals and a sense of energy that really makes the songs much more memorable than many comparable acts within this realm. The playing's not at all sloppy, the recording quality's efficient (and consistent, all three recording sessions sound extremely similar to one another, which is awesome)… what more can you ask for? I can't read a damn word of Norwegian, so I really have no idea what the song titles or lyrics might contain, but I can say that it's blatantly obvious from even a cursory glance through the CD booklet or the band's MySpace content that they do indeed have an excellent sense of humor, though their music sounds 100% fucking serious and they do seem to have a sincere socio-political message wrapped up in there as well.

Parlamentarisk Sodomi "Vakl, Folkevalgt"
Parlamentarisk Sodomi "Kinky Lobbyvirksomhet"

Purchase:

@ Parlamentarisk Sodomi
@ No Escape Records
@ Crimes Against Humanity Records
@ Razorback Records

Dissolve "Caveman of the Future" CD

Posted on Friday, July 18th, 2008 @ 6:41am » permalink

Dissolve - Caveman of the FuturePoughkeepsie, NY's Dissolve originally recorded "Caveman of the Future" way back in 2000, at which time it was supposed to be released by M.I.A. Records. Sadly the label closed its doors and the album was shelved while the band carried on for a year or two, playing shows and trying to find a home for the record, but it never happened. Apparently they never really broke up, though, they just kind of went away – playing a couple of shows in 2004 and 2005, and now playing a couple of shows to celebrate this long overdue release. I assume that means they're not really looking to do new material, but that's cool: It just makes me sick that there's so much unheard music out there just sitting around collecting dust like this, so it's very fucking cool that Trip Machine Laboratories made this happen eight years after the fact!

I actually wasn't into these guys in the 90's when they were fully active, but that's not because I disliked 'em, I just never really encountered their material. I've heard the name many times over the years, and have since heard some of their earlier work on compilations and such, but this is my first true exposure to their work. I'm sure this is all around more developed than the band's prior releases, but there's definitely a nice foundation of the crushing and rhythmically-centered pre-"dirty word" metalcore of the mid- to late-90's, based around thick power chords and shouted, screamed, and half-spoken vocals (some of which sort of remind me of V.O.D. back in the day). But then there are some pretty whacked out types of noisy, discordant guitar textures and leads going on that really twist things up a bit – giving the material a more metal-influenced style, but not one that really comes across as particularly "metal", you know? We're not talkin' tremolo picking and blast beats or tech'd out note flurries. There's a very fuckin' solid rhythm section (though the bass work is admittedly hard to pick out, granted that doesn't really detract from the listen), with lots of jazzy cymbal work and shifts from straightforward patterns to much more colorful fare. So there's certainly some complexity in there, but… despite similarities to select acts from comparable scenes within that general 1990 – 2000 time frame… the end result here has a weirdly unusual sort of aesthetic hovering over it, and I can't really put my finger on it. And that's not a bad thing! I mean, anyone who's been into this kind of music over the years will hear familiarities in this material, but I think you'll agree that (at least on this album) Dissolve just had something a little more… peculiar going on. Very interesting…

Dissolve "The Ultimate Nullifier"
Dissolve "Weakling"

Purchase:

@ The End Records
@ Interpunk
@ RevHQ
@ Very Distribution

Analysis of Bison Kills "Vantage" CD

Posted on Thursday, July 17th, 2008 @ 6:50am » permalink

Analysis of Bison Kills - VantageI'm not sure if they're "officially" considering it a full-length or an EP (four lengthy tracks in 31 minutes), but "Vantage" is the first proper release from UK quartet Analysis of Bison Kills – who were formerly known under the equally unusual banner of Tear Gas and Plate Glass – on Sound Devastation Records. I believe this is the band's first recorded output since Tear Gas and Plate Glass' "The Sea Stranded Whipjack" demo four years ago, and they've certainly undergone a good deal of growth since that time. The sludgy textures are a little more subdued these days, and the band is forming their own kind of approach with lots of slides and pull-off riffs. Their restrained technicality and occasional use of subtly twisted time signatures creates a strangely melodic "math metal" type of vibe, which, when combined with the killer dissonant chord phrasings and sneering vocals, can be somewhat reminiscent of Intronaut's stronger moments. There's a nice, clear mix (which really accentuates the jazzy drum work), and most of the tones are pretty dry, which lends a warm, natural sense of spaciousness to everything. Very cool looking cover art, too. Unfortunately the release date has been pushed back to a couple of months from now, so I haven't seen the complete packaging, but the cover art looks great. Now that the band seems to have settled into their overall development and really nailed down an extremely solid core, I'm really looking forward to hearing more, so… hopefully it won't be another four years before a new half-hour of material surfaces! This is great shit…

Analysis of Bison Kills "Depth is Earned" (excerpt)

Purchase:

@ Analysis of Bison Kills
@ Sound Devastation Records

No Turning Back "Stronger" CD

Posted on Wednesday, July 16th, 2008 @ 5:48am » permalink

No Turning Back - StrongerWith killer tattoo-themed artwork extremely similar to that of their last album, "Stronger" is the fourth full-length from prolific Dutch hardcore act No Turning Back (on Reflections Records), and "stronger" it is indeed, representing somewhat of a return to form for the band. Of course things continue in that same vein of straightforward NYHC-styled material, but with a more balanced set of memorable, energetic songs. The 14 tracks in 31 minutes range from short, fast, 30-second blasts of traditionally oriented hardcore to your usual two- to three-minute compositions with killer breakdowns and some more of that Madball-ish groove that the band started to stray away from on 2006's "Holding On". Are there a shitload of bands that sound like this across the globe? Yeah, pretty much, as there have been for well over a decade now. But when it's done right, it's done right, and that's just all there is to it. No Turning Back's been on the right track for 11 years now, and despite a few minor falters along the way, when they hit the mark, there's no doubt about it, and this album is arguably their finest to date. Slick artwork, solid songs, great vocal performance, strong recording… good stuff. That's all there is to it.

No Turning Back "Push Comes to Shove"
No Turning Back "Same Sad Song"

Purchase:

@ Interpunk
@ RevHQ
@ Very Distribution

Orthrus "Tyrants of Deception"

Posted on Tuesday, July 15th, 2008 @ 6:38am » permalink

Orthrus - Tyrants of DeceptionOrthrus is another Virginia-based duo that I had never heard of before that's now releasing material through digital label MetalHit.com, and "Tyrants of Deception" is their debut EP. Now, any band whose cited influences range from Immortal and Watain to Racer X and Skid Row (among many others) is going to get my attention right off the bat, but thankfully these two are actually fusing their diverse musical interests into a rather efficient brand of "blackened melodic death/thrash", or whatever such combination of metal styles you'd care to throw at 'em. While rooted much deeper in black metal and not yet as developed as fellow Virginia-based masters Arsis, there are certainly some comparable moments herein, thanks in large part to the band's penchant for emphatic melodies and killer little shredding guitar leads thrown around all over the place. There's a little room for improvement in terms of the tightness of the performances and the overall sound quality, but this is a very fucking promising start, especially for a duo utilizing a session drummer. It's really strange that they're able to basically come across as a black metal band, because those "80's metal" influences really do come through in the quality of the guitar playing. There's just a great sense of energy amidst the totally badass dual guitar harmonies, sleek solos, and super powerful melodies to be found throughout. Fuckin' great cover art, too. Definitely catches the eye. Very cool. I'm really looking forward to hearing more from these guys. They've got a very unique approach, and you just don't get to hear guitar work of this caliber very often anymore.

Orthrus "The Summoning"

Like the Wolfsschanze EP I wrote about last week, this one should be filtering out to eMusic, iTunes, Amazon, etc. in the coming weeks, but it's only available from the label right now. $7.20 ain't bad for a half-hour of material, and this is very promising work, so… give 'em a shot if you like what you're hearing above.

Purchase:

@ MetalHit.com

Triac "Blue Room" 7"/CD

Posted on Monday, July 14th, 2008 @ 5:53am » permalink

Triac - Blue Room"Blue Room" is the latest (and greatest, it seems) from Baltimore, MD grinders Triac (a split release between Forcefield Records and Reptilian Records). Their first recorded output with new vocalist Noel Danger, the EP tears through seven tracks in 13 minutes and is actually a hint more controlled and diverse than some of the band's past efforts, which is actually pretty damn cool. I've been a fan of everything these guys have done to date, but this time out the tracks seem to rein in some of the noisier and more chaotic elements in favor of a more energetic and blasting form of straight up crossover-influenced grindcore – pumped up with some surging, pounding bursts of scraping, dissonant sludge to mix things up and keep it interesting. The tracks range from 40 seconds to four minutes, too, so… that just goes to show you the type of ground they're covering here. It all fits, though. It's a consistent listen with a thick, perfectly raw recording that's got a balanced mix and just the right style of warm, dirty texture to keep the wall of sound raging onward. Very cool. I'll certainly be looking forward to more, as always…

Triac "I Wish the Worst for You"

This one's uniquely packaged in a glossy gatefold 7" sleeve (hand-numbered out of 500) with the CD version housed between two slots in the left inner panel, while the black and white splattered vinyl 7" and a little xeroxed booklet are inside the right half. The 7" contains the first five tracks and the CD contains all seven. Awesome. Killer artwork throughout as well, in the band's trademark old school, high-contrast black and white style. Simple yet effective!

Purchase:

@ Forcefield Records
@ Reptilian Records
@ Robotic Empire
@ Very Distribution

Lagwagon "Trashed" CD

Posted on Friday, July 11th, 2008 @ 5:54am » permalink

Lagwagon - TrashedBack in the "still listening to cassettes" days of 1994 (which were also the "pop-punk is sorta kinda popular" days), a young me played the shit outta my "Trashed" tape on a very regular basis (oddly enough interspersed with plenty of Earth Crisis, I'm sure). The second album from Lagwagon (on Fat Wreck Chords, of course), "Trashed" is the only Lagwagon album that I still enjoy to this day. (Edit: False. "Duh" still totally kicks ass, and "Hoss" is decent, too. What the hell was wrong with me!?) And make no mistake: I still really fuckin' enjoy it. Sure, they've released a ton of records since then, most of which I've never even heard in full, but something about the planets must have aligned back in the day when these songs were being put together, 'cause this is an absolute classic of that coveted age of pop-punk. Yeah, over the years I started to find the production (especially the guitar tone) to be a little thin and weird, but… that never really did any damage as far as enjoying the album goes, 'cause the fucking songs, man! Gold. Just ridiculously catchy, poppy tunes with all these crazy (and fairly technical, mind you) metal riffs all over the place amidst a load of zippy, energetic tempos, incredible vocal melodies and harmonies, the works. Plus, they were somehow able to change it up from goofy songs about, well, getting trashed, to much more serious and emotional tracks that were actually pretty god damn powerful considering the lighthearted fare for which the band is probably most known. While some of this kind of stuff really didn't hold up for me over time, "Trashed" is right up there with the early Propagandhi albums in my book as far as still kicking some serious ass well over a decade later. You just can't fuck with a good song, and this record's jam packed with fuckin' incredible songwriting. No joke. I'm not the least bit ashamed to admit that I still listen to this disc quite often… and still oddly interspersed with Earth Crisis on occasion, too.

Lagwagon "Dis'chords"
Lagwagon "No One"
Lagwagon "Rust"

This one's still readily available on CD and apparently LP as well, so… if for some insane reason you never encountered this gem in the past, absolutely pick one up if you like what you hear. You won't regret it. It's just not possible.

Purchase:

@ Fat Wreck Chords
@ Amazon.com
@ Interpunk
@ RevHQ
@ iTunes (mp3)

The Psyke Project "Apnea" CD

Posted on Thursday, July 10th, 2008 @ 6:39am » permalink

The Psyke Project - ApneaIt feels like it's been a really long time since the last full-length from Denmark's mighty The Psyke Project hit the streets – so long, in fact, that I actually thought I might have missed an album or an EP somewhere in there! Thankfully I was mistaken, and the just-released "Apnea" (their debut for Lifeforce Records) is indeed the band's follow-up to 2005's most impressive "Daikini". And while the "post-" influences are a little more prevalent here (mildly unfortunate only due to the rest of the world's inexplicably growing obsession with the more boring and unnecessary facets of said sounds), the bulk of the material still follows a similar path: Loads of crushingly jarring rhythms and chaotic, caustic guitar tones, absolutely scathing vocals, plodding low-end throbs, hammering percussion, and so on. Plus, this time it's all delivered with a more "polished" (in a good way) sound that keeps the mix as clear as can be expected when it comes to oft-noisy jaunts through hurried time changes and churning, mangled rhythmic shifts in tracks that range from barely past three minutes to damn near 10. While the aforementioned "post-" accoutrements do occasionally yield some interesting melodic properties, it's generally the more aggressive moments that turn up the most force throughout – especially when focused into some of those shorter and more in your face running times (granted the aptly titled "Jugganata", at the other end of the spectrum, does unload some chilling feedback drones and hit on some cool uses of almost hypnotic repetition). The band certainly continues to impress, and there's so much potential still ahead – I could imagine them venturing more towards any number of the directions hinted at within their array of sounds with devastating (again, in a good way) results. Hopefully it won't take another three years or so to see where they'll take things from here!

The Psyke Project "Panic"
The Psyke Project "Love Shown in a Handful of Dirt"

Purchase:

@ Lifeforce Records (CD)
@ Amazon.com (CD)
@ Amazon.com (mp3)

Goldust "Axis" CD

Posted on Wednesday, July 9th, 2008 @ 5:54am » permalink

Goldust - Axis"Axis" is the debut full-length from German act Goldust (on True Till Deaf), offering up nine new tracks (in 26 minutes on the dot) plus the songs from their split 10" with Blade tacked on as a bonus. If you didn't read about these cats when I first wrote about 'em late last year, this is straight up, no bullshit metallic hardcore the way it should be: Chunky power chord rhythms and tactfully groove-laden midpaced breaks, powerfully shouted vocals, short tracks, etc. Where Goldust keeps it interesting is in deviating from the standards just enough, so that there's a subtle variation in the character of the vocal delivery here and there, a hint more metal tossed in from time to time with some darker clean riffing or melodic leads, and just a general sense of uniqueness to a lot of the chord phrasings and arrangements that sort of steps aside from the simplistic nature of the genre without losing sight of its roots in any way. Goldust seems to be working at a very productive pace, so hopefully they can continue at this rate without burning out (as all too many promising hardcore acts seem to do). They've yet to disappoint, and tend to leave me hungry for more, so I'll look forward to whatever they keep dishing out! Well done.

Goldust "In Obedience"

We are in an eternal war, just stand accused and confess. The darkness in my mind is never-ending. Our time is slipping away. I saw the visions, I have foreseen this destiny. When I close my eyes, I see this world in flames…

This one just hit the streets, so it's only available from the label at the moment. I assume the band will have copies on hand within a week or two, and hopefully it'll start spreading around to international distros in the coming months as well. Keep an eye out…

Purchase:

@ True Till Deaf

Wolfsschanze "Transcend the Flesh"

Posted on Tuesday, July 8th, 2008 @ 6:13am » permalink

Wolfsschanze - Transcend the FleshHaving issued a few demos and a self-released EP since their formation in 2004, "Transcend the Flesh" is the debut mp3 release from Virginia duo Wolfsschanze, through the MetalHit.com label. Included are three rather lengthy tracks of impressive doom-laden black metal in about 20 minutes, easing in and out of the sneering vocal work and cold, dissonant note combinations and speedier picking patterns for which the genre is generally noted, as well as loads of atmospheric dual guitar work and slow, pounding tempos. Hell, there's even a slick acoustic passage during opener "Transcendence (The Nativity)", so… there's a lot of cool shit happening here. I wouldn't necessarily refer to any of it as particularly inventive, but the manner in which the influences are combined here is extremely efficient, and certainly keeps things more interesting than marginally comparable acts who lean more towards a tediously slow delivery, you know? The recording is nice and crisp, there are some incredible riffs present, and the overall vibe of the material conjures a wider range of feeling than a lot of the black metal that I encounter. Very cool, actually. I'm really into this. My only "complaint" is that I damn sure want more, ha! I certainly hope a proper full-length outing's on the way…

Wolfsschanze "Transcendence (The Nativity)" (excerpt)

This one's only available from the label at the moment, but if you prefer, it should filter out to eMusic, iTunes, Amazon, etc. within the next month or so, I'd imagine. I know a lot of people hate all-digital releases, but I'm so over it now. It's fast and cheap, and this is a great EP, so make the grab if you like what you hear in the snippet above!

Purchase:

@ MetalHit.com

Daymares "Toothless & Fanged" CD

Posted on Monday, July 7th, 2008 @ 5:52am » permalink

Daymares - Toothless & Fanged"Toothless & Fanged" is the latest EP from crusty Polish hardcore outfit Daymares (on Get By Records), which busts out six tracks in just under 14 minutes and ranges from driving, straightforward hardcore/punk force to the sludgy "death 'n' roll" styled riffing of "Words One Loves to Hate", and even an old school Neurosis cover to close things out ("Life on Your Knees"). For the most part the tracks are short and to the point, with pounding rhythms and burly vocals, but the recording definitely adds to their overall aesthetic with loads of absolutely awesome grit 'n' grime that provides a lot of texture to the guitar work and ends up being a great match for the vocal approach and the overall vibe of the band's take on this style of hardcore. Innovative? Nah, not really, but who gives a shit? Like many other bands they know what they're doing and they do it well. Solid songs, killer recording, slick and unique artwork… there's nothing to complain about here. I hate to keep it so short, but… hey, that's life. Good stuff.

Daymares "Annuit Coeptis"

Unfortunately I can't seem to find this one for sale anywhere in the US (or at many online locations at all, for that matter) at the moment, so it might not have filtered out to distros yet. I'd contact the band or the label at the links above to see about getting your hands on a copy.

Hey Mercedes "Everynight Fire Works" CD

Posted on Friday, July 4th, 2008 @ 8:57am » permalink

Hey Mercedes - Everynight Fire WorksHey Mercedes was the far too short-lived (2000 – 2005) outfit formed by Bob Nanna after Braid broke up. Now, I was never into Braid back in the day (and in fact I've revisited their material since becoming a huge Hey Mercedes fan, and I still just don't "get it"), so I had absolutely no idea who the hell Hey Mercedes was in the beginning. I got into the band about four years ago, oddly enough the same way and at the same time as I discovered their Vagrant Records labelmates No Motiv: I saw their 2001 full-length debut, "Everynight Fire Works", in a pile of used CD's for like $2 or $3, thought it looked interesting, and bought it on a whim. Big win there, 'cause this is definitely their finest release, and all 43 minutes are absolute perfection on every possible level. 11 tracks of catchy yet musically proficient emo/indie rock with super unique singing and an overall sound that's very much rooted in the type of aesthetic the genre carried throughout the 90's, but with enough forward-thinking sense to keep it sounding fresh and original. I could (and probably should) go on and on, but this shit will totally speak for itself. Awesome songs, awesome artwork, awesome production… you can't lose, man. For immense music nerds like me there's absolutely nothing better than randomly buying some CD you've never heard of and having it kick the shit out of you right off the bat, and there's no doubt this album was just one of those instances for me. I fully recommend everything the band released in their time together, but this is definitely "the one". Love this stuff. Love it.

Hey Mercedes "The Frowning of a Lifetime"
Hey Mercedes "What You're Up Against"
Hey Mercedes "A-List Actress"

Monday, this is what you're up against. Your head rings to the rhythm of the alarm clock. Time in, breathe in, time out, breathe out. I doubt that this is what you're all about. Tuesday, this is what you're up against. The television and your version of aversion. The car, the candy, and the shower curtain, blurting out the answers you didn't even ask for. But it's bound to get better. It better. Slow motion replay, day in, day out. We came all this way now, we'll fire up just to push them down…

It looks like the label's selling this one for a mere $5 these days, so there's really no excuse. If you like what you hear (How the hell could you not!?), fuckin' buy one.

Purchase:

@ Vagrant Records

Adai "I Carry…" CD

Posted on Thursday, July 3rd, 2008 @ 6:27am » permalink

Adai - I Carry...Originally self-released by the band last year, "I Carry…" is the debut five-song EP from Denver, CO duo Adai (now being re-released by Radar Recordings). All five tracks flow seamlessly together, and the bulk of the EP is instrumental, fluidly transitioning from soft clean passages through an array of "post-rock" or "post-metal" types of playing (and I really don't care for those terms, but if I use them people tend to actually know what types of riffs I'm referring to, so… you know) and a few sludgy sort of rocked out little riffs to thicker, nastier rhythms that better accentuate the absolutely vicious vocals – which, when they do appear, tend to be buried deep in the mix so as not to overpower (though there's actually some really cool singing back there from time to time as well). Recorded at the mighty Godcity by Kurt Ballou, of course everything sounds fucking great – from the warm, resonant percussion to the massively textured walls of guitars and effects that thicken things up and really give you no indication that there are only two dudes responsible for all of this. Several of the tracks are rather short "interludes" of sorts, so the 24-minute running time is actually a little shorter than you'd expect given the length of the two core compositions, but you easily get a feel for what the band's capable of. It may not be the most original approach in the world, but it's certainly quality, and I'd be quite curious to hear a full-length outing from Adai (hopefully in the near future).

Adai "Home" (excerpt)

Unfortunately I just found out the other day that this disc isn't being officially released until September, and had I known that sooner I would've held off on posting about this until then (I think advance promotion is sort of pointless, to be honest). But I do have the actual physical CD in my hands right now, so… maybe if you contact the band or label at the links above you'll be able to buy one ahead of time. Otherwise… I guess the wait is on!

Gravehill and Dead Congregation…

Posted on Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008 @ 6:01am » permalink

Gravehill - Metal of Death/The Advocation of Murder and Suicide"Metal of Death/The Advocation of Murder and Suicide" is the recently released two-part EP from California's Gravehill (on Enucleation Records). I'm not entirely sure how seriously you can take a band with members' names like Bodybag Bob and a lineup that's probably wearing thousands of bullets and spikes between the four of 'em, so there's probably a little good ol' fun involved here, but nonetheless this is a very solid five tracks in just 20 minutes. Included are re-recordings of all three songs from last year's self-released "Metal of Death" EP as well as two new tracks: "Murder" and "Suicide", obviously. As you'd probably expect, the bulk of the influences are drawn from raw, thrashy, old school death metal – occasionally smattered with very subtly blackened runs or even some killer hardcore/punk infused breakdowns that really emphasize some of the crude classics from which the band may be drawing inspiration. There's a great balance of tempos, as well as a solid mix of all-out aggressive riffing and more memorable, feel-based playing – plus quick little melodic leads or more chaotic bursts. So, while fairly straightforward, there are actually a lot of different characteristics swirling around in there that do basically amount to an admirably forceful (and not one-sided) "metal of death". Good stuff…

Gravehill "Murder"

The disc's only $6, so… that's a bargain, people.

Purchase:

@ Enucleation Records

Dead Congregation - Purifying Consecrated GroundAlso from Enucleation Records is this US pressing of "Purifying Consecrated Ground", the 2005 debut EP from Greek death metal outfit Dead Congregation. Formed from the ashes of the awesome Nuclear Winter, Dead Congregation follows a similar path of burly, powerful death metal that still seems to be inspired by a lot of the early-90's classics. The sick, meaty guitar tone makes for some totally killer chugging, churning tremolo picking runs that ease into plenty of those twisted "Covenant" era Morbid Angel breaks with lots of mangled chord phrasings and bends, as well as some pinch harmonics and weird little melodic twists ala mid-period Gorguts or something. I don't know, man, the songs kick ass, the recording's really cool, I love the consistent aesthetic of the band's artwork… they've got it all down. Five tracks in just 20 minutes definitely leaves you wanting more, but the band did just recently release their first full-length offering, so I'll definitely have to keep an eye out for that. I have absolutely no problem with bands looking to the past when they nail it so completely like this, especially when there's somewhat of a gap to be filled with regard to quality representations of a certain niche of metal from the days of yore. Awesome.

Dead Congregation "Vomitchrist"

This one's only $6, too – digipack and all. So don't download this shit, you know?

Purchase:

@ Enucleation Records