Doughnuts "The Age of the Circle" CD
Posted on Thursday, September 25th, 2008 @ 2:24pm » permalink
I hadn't listened to Doughnuts in quite some time, but I was revisiting those old "Straightedge as Fuck" compilations recently, and that reminded me to pull out some of these CD's to check out again. And sure enough, their second EP, 1995's "The Age of the Circle" (their first release for Victory Records), remains my favorite. Now, a shitload of people made fun of this band back in the day, and probably still do (unfortunately an all-female vegetarian/vegan straightedge band from Umeå, Sweden is an easy target for some, I guess), but I've gotta say, this stuff actually holds up even better than I thought it would today. You just can't deny a track like "Weak One", which is one of the darker and more atmospheric tracks herein, which perfectly highlights their unique brand of metallic hardcore. Obviously they were drawing influences from a number of other American and European bands, but their vocal approach and raw, dirty guitar tones created a slightly different take on the style, with a good balance of subtle melody and discordance amidst the chugging midpaced rhythms and more metal-based riffing. They definitely got somewhat of a raw deal in their time from certain areas of the scene, and I'm actually disappointed that I had forgotten about 'em for so long, because I've been absolutely loving this material in recent weeks!
Doughnuts "Weak One"
Doughnuts "My Black Days"
In typical fashion, you can get this disc for cheap as shit on Amazon.com (there are plenty of copies for less than a buck), so… if you forgot about 'em, too (or never got a chance to check 'em out back in the day), pick one up if you like what you hear. The rest of their discography's solid as well, but something about the overall force and feeling of this EP still stands above the rest for me.
@ Amazon.com (CD)
@ Amazon.com (mp3)
Last to Remain "Operation Beatdown" CD
Posted on Wednesday, September 24th, 2008 @ 7:01am » permalink
"Operation Beatdown" is the debut full-length from Norway's Last to Remain (on Nothing But a Beatdown Records), and as the title would suggest, this is no frills metallic hardcore with plenty of those chugging "beatdown" styled breaks that have tended to be more prevalent from the European scene in recent years (though these cats have gotta be one of the few bands from Norway delivering this style of hardcore even today). Last to Remain formed way back in 2003 out of the ashes of a band called Aggravation, but apparently it took a few years and a couple of demos and lineup changes for them to fully realize their vision. I guess that time was worth it, though, because what makes the material so effective is that in addition to the gruff vocals and over the top mosh breaks, they maintain a classic, heavy NYHC type of foundation, with basic power chord rhythms and a little more speed, as well as some of the other traditional elements of the 90's "metalcore" scene, like Slayer-esque riffing and thrashy tremolo picking (think early All Out War and the like), so it's not a one-sided affair that's nothing but pounding slow to midpaced breakdowns all over the place, you know? The songwriting's definitely on point, and that really pays off. This is one of the better straight up, vicious metallic hardcore records I've heard in awhile. What can I say? I'm down…
Last to Remain "When the Smoke Clears"
@ Nothing But a Beatdown Records
@ Open Grave Records
Seconds Before "Change is the Only Constant" CD
Posted on Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008 @ 7:18am » permalink
"Change is the Only Constant" is the long-awaited sophomore full-length from Minneapolis' Seconds Before, again on Blue Worm Records, offering up 10 new tracks of their increasingly strong emo/indie rock. Like last year's "Galvanic" EP, the material still feels a little more streamlined somehow, but again, without coming across as hollow or lacking in musical substance. The songs are a little catchier at times, and the production's still super bright and polished, but there's an absolutely awesome bass presence (with a really warm, defined tone that actually reminds me a lot of The Casket Lottery), and a ton of interesting dual guitar interaction and layering is still present throughout. They also seem to be experimenting a bit more with different guitar tones and riffing styles, from lush, softer textures and light effects to driving, rocked out chord progressions and dryer, more distinct dual guitar runs. The band's always been efficient with the use of breathing room and such, but something about these compositions has found an even better way to let the rhythm section shine between the cracks, and I'm loving it. I don't really encounter much of this kind of stuff from current bands anymore, so I'm psyched that Seconds Before is still crankin' 'em out…
Seconds Before "Keep it On"
At the time of this writing the "Buy CD" button on the label's website was inactive for some reason, but the album is out and available, so contact the band or label directly via the links above if you need a hand getting a copy of the disc!
@ Blue Worm Records (CD)
@ eMusic (mp3)
Defeater "Travels" CD
Posted on Monday, September 22nd, 2008 @ 5:50am » permalink
"Travels" is the debut full-length from Boston's Defeater, who I had never heard of before, released by a label I had also never heard of before, Topshelf Records. So, I didn't know what to expect from this one, but the six-panel digipack and eight-page booklet look absolutely awesome, packed with some fucking incredible photography, so I was certainly hoping for/expecting something fairly strong. The result is 11 tracks of that style of contemporary hardcore that's both metallic and extremely melodic, having been compared to bands like Modern Life is War, Comeback Kid, and Verse, which does make some sense. It's an extremely diverse (though cohesive) blend of influences, from its more aggressive and discordant textures and almost straightforward hardcore power chords to its ringing post-hardcore dissonance and energetic bursts of those subtly technical little arpeggiated riffs. Hell, there's even a "folky" acoustic break at the end of "Prophet in Plain Clothes" that seems a little out of place at first, but fits into the narrative of the lyrics and actually settles in pretty well in the context of the whole. It's an impressive debut that sort of takes this lofty, artistic style of hardcore a little farther than most, which is quite promising.
Defeater "Carrying Weight"
Defeater "The City by Dawn"
…with no loss to match his gain, he rolled on to hop that train. That rain fell hard. Chalk the miles from his failure. Trees sway with the weather. Racing heart, slow the beat. Every crossed town line is relief. With no money and no name, state lines, borders, rivers are all the same. The city by dawn, a stranger with no history comes. "Just rest your head where the sun sets. Fade out at sun down."
@ Topshelf Records (CD)
@ Interpunk (CD)
@ RevHQ (CD)
@ Amazon.com (mp3)
Christdriver "Everything Burns" CD
Posted on Thursday, September 18th, 2008 @ 3:40pm » permalink
Here's another old repost, by request. Every time I throw this CD in I'm immediately floored by opener "Mediate" and remember just how awesome these guys were – and more listeners (still) need to be aware of it. The band formed in Seattle from the ashes of Subvert sometime in 1991, but rather than the hardcore/punk stylings that Subvert explored, Christdriver was much more of a cold, industrial metal act: Think bleak dissonance, pulsing slow to midpaced tempos, plenty of samples, hypnotic repetition, and long songs that average around seven minutes each. They made their recorded debut in 1995 with the "Your Vision Leaves Me Blind" 7", which I've actually never heard, and followed that up in 1996 with the 70+ minute "Everything Burns". 10 years of existence and I think that was all they released, which is a damn shame, but hey… at least their mastery was documented, a mere two releases or not! Both of their records were released on the Profane Existence label, but trust me, they're only hardcore/punk in spirit… the music is far more sinister and atmospheric. So if you've got any preconceived biases, check that shit at the door. Admittedly there are points on the full-length that are blatant Godflesh worship (think "Streetcleaner", especially), but Godflesh is one of the greatest bands in the history of life, so that's fine by me.
Apparently this disc, too, has gotten much harder to come by over the years, so here's the entire album from an old Mediafire link I just found (thanks, Google blog search):
[DOWNLOAD] Christdriver "Everything Burns" (@ Mediafire)
More random tidbits…
Posted on Wednesday, September 17th, 2008 @ 3:47pm » permalink
1. The Analysis of Bison Kills "Vantage" CD that I wrote up a couple months ago was finally released this week, so it's now available for purchase. I've added links to buy it from both the band and the label to the write-up for those interested.
2. Mike from Hirudinea emailed me about the Hirudinea/Watchmaker split CD that I wrote about back in 2006 and asked if I would throw up a mention of the fact that the bands are trying to get the material out there as much as possible due to a lack of promotion over the years, so… you can download the entire split from Mediafire if you're so inclined. Good stuff.
3. And… some other classic Integrity relics I was emailed last night:
Another slow week…
Posted on Monday, September 15th, 2008 @ 8:57am » permalink
Since I was out of town again over the weekend, I don't have any posts prepared for this week. Things should be back to normal next week if all goes well, though (although I might start posting about more old stuff since I haven't been all that psyched about much new music lately). If anyone has any requests for additional re-posts of old write-ups like the Negative Male Child that you might've missed the first time around, let me know.
And on a somewhat random note, while out of town I noticed that the carpet in my hotel room had a little "holy terror" motif goin' on, which I thought was quite hilarious:
Negative Male Child "Little Brother" CD
Posted on Thursday, September 11th, 2008 @ 6:30am » permalink
Reposting about this old gem due to lack of time and the fact that this write-up still gets a stray comment here and there, so there's still some well-deserved interest out there for this record. The band name may be somewhat iffy, and I've been ragged on for liking 'em in the past, but I say fuck that: These guys ruled. I don't remember how, but I actually discovered Negative Male Child before a few tracks from their lone 1995 full-length, "Little Brother", made it onto the second "East Coast Assault" compilation. Go figure. But whatever the case, this was some unique shit that never even came remotely close to receiving due attention. Sick drumming, wild fretless bass work, chunky guitar rhythms accented by tactfully executed noise textures, and totally unique vocals that hop all over the place from searing screams to rather twisted spoken passages. This is just an awesome, awesome record that offers up tons of diversity and individuality. It's a god damn shame the band disappeared sometime afterwards. All I know is that they were from New Jersey. Beyond that, I've got squat on these dudes.
But don't forgot those lyrics!
Have you ever had to wipe the spit from your face? Have you ever had to walk away from the one thing you wanted most? Have you ever thought the only way to escape was to end it all? Have you ever made a mistake? Have you ever forgiven yourself? What have you done? Have you ever had to walk in your own shit, or eat someone else's? Have you ever wanted something you could never have? Have you ever thought to yourself, "There's just got to be more to life than this."? Have you ever believed? Have you ever been deceived? What have you done?
Fuck, man. "Metalcore" wasn't a dirty word 10 years ago, it was actually truly promising. Where did it all go wrong? Oh well. Since this one's out of print and much harder to find now than when I first posted about it three years ago, here's the whole shebang:
[DOWNLOAD] Negative Male Child "Little Brother" (@ Mediafire)
Criminally underrated. Glad there are still people out there that remember and love this band like I do! Copies of the actual CD are floating around out there on Amazon.com and eBay, but the prices are pretty stupid these days…
Trash Talk "s/t" CD
Posted on Wednesday, September 10th, 2008 @ 5:52am » permalink
The latest self-titled, self-released effort from Trash Talk is billed as their debut full-length, but at just 14 minutes for its 12 tracks I can't help but consider it another absolutely blistering EP. Regardless, the simple black and white aesthetics of the cover art mirror a slight shift in sound towards the more powerviolence-sounding elements of their prior work, resulting in their finest tracks to date, which should absolutely appeal to fans of classic acts like No Comment and Crossed Out. Recorded by Steve Albini in two days, this is a thicker, dirtier, more sinister affair, with a warmer and more natural mix that highlights texture over speed. And the songwriting actually follows suit, easing up on the relentlessly fast tempos of most of the band's past efforts in favor of more churning rhythms and darker breathing room, complete with plodding, pulsing distorted bass runs – granted the tracks still average less than a minute each, with closer "Revelation" bumping up the total running time with its 4+ minutes of repetitious bashings and feedback. So, yeah, there's still a good amount of blasting speed and ferocity in place as well. I'm not sure what more to say, really. I liked the band's last two EP's, and this is even better, so I damn sure look forward to hearing more. Well done.
Trash Talk "Dig"
@ Trash Talk (CD)
@ Trash Talk (LP)
Snöras "Plague Waters" CD
Posted on Tuesday, September 9th, 2008 @ 7:00am » permalink
"Plague Waters" is the sophomore full-length from intriguing Norwegian outfit Snöras (released by Fysisk Format), who I had sadly never heard of before. With eight tracks in a little under a half-hour, the material reminds me a lot of the more top-shelf "screamo" from back in the day, with loads of frantic riffing and layered vocals (to varying degrees of extremity with regards to shouting/screaming/etc.). Where they succeed so greatly is that their jangly guitar tones utilize just the right amount of distortion to add some grit without making things at all overbearing, and the same can be said for the vocals, which never really venture too far over the top and provide a good match for the overall feel and energy of the music. The arrangements are also more fluid and cohesive than many such acts, allowing for some relaxed breathing room here and there, while fusing a good amount of melody in amidst all of the rather intricate – and at times chaotic – interplay between the instruments. I know that there's a hell of a lot of baggage alongside the term "screamo", even from way back in the 90's, but… trust me, this is quality work right here, so don't get narrowminded about descriptive terminology. Give 'em a listen and see for yourself. I think you'll understand where I'm coming from…
Snöras "Lucid River"
There's also a limited edition 2xLP pressing (a split release of 500 copies between Fysisk Format, Great Northern, and Not Another Record Label) that includes the band's debut album, "Heart of Weakness", for all you vinyl lovers out there, but I don't think either edition is distributed outside of Norway just yet, so you might have to get a little creative with your ordering methods. Hopefully Fysisk Format will get some US distribution lined up soon, because this is their second very impressive release in a row, and their efforts certainly deserve more attention!
@ Tiger Records (CD)
@ Tiger Records (2xLP)
Planks "s/t" 12"
Posted on Monday, September 8th, 2008 @ 5:47am » permalink
This self-titled 12" EP is the debut release from German trio Planks (on Narshardaa Records), which offers up eight tracks of dark, sludgy hardcore/punk in 22 minutes. The label describes it as "modern hardcore like Old Man Gloom, Coliseum, or Isis meets old hardcore like His Hero is Gone or Union of Uranus", and that's actually not too far from the mark. The backbone has more of a gritty, sinister sort of vibe to it, with lots of discordant chord phrasings and surging midpaced tempos, but the tracks are pretty much all about two to three minutes apiece, keeping things short but sweet and occasionally breaking into a faster and more energetic burst that, like the running times, is indeed more hardcore oriented. The material was actually recorded in the band's rehearsal room, which is an impressive tidbit considering the results sound quite fucking good for this particular style. The mix is well balanced, there's a good amount of forceful low-end, and the guitars – which are the driving force – have a great sense of texture and natural warmth. They also recorded three tracks for an upcoming split with Tombs in this same session, so keep an eye out for that as well, 'cause this is great shit. The 12" is limited to just 500 copies (100 on green, 400 on black), so act now before these cats start catching on a bit more…
Planks "Forgiveness to Tyrants"
Always and always forever. Invoke the collapse. For yours are truly these ruins. Revelation: To flay skin from your neck, tender and lurid as a kiss. Covert prestige forever faceless. Hide behind tranquil eyes. Statues of stone. Losing everything in the end. You brought this on yourself.
@ Narshardaa Records (MySpace)
@ Narshardaa Records (eBay)