Echoes of Yul "s/t" CD
Posted on Monday, August 31st, 2009 @ 7:02am » permalink
Echoes of Yul is a relatively new duo from Poland, and this lengthy self-titled effort is their debut release (on the rather mysterious label We are All Pacinos) – unloading 76+ minutes of crushing sludge, hypnotic ambient drones, and subtle experimental noise textures that all carry an excellent air of melody throughout. Said melody really adds a sense of feeling and emotion to the overall atmosphere, and I can't tell you what a difference that makes in setting Echoes of Yul apart from the vast majority of their contemporaries that I've encountered in the last few years. With this general approach it can often seem as though bands are simply trying to be as heavy or as slow as possible, but that's not the case here at all. It's obvious that Echoes of Yul bears no concern for whether or not their material is "abstract" enough (i.e. they're not some "artsy" project), so there's a great balance between tangible riffs and percussion and loose, improvisational elements. Aside from the rare appearance of indecipherable shouts/screams amidst the instrumentation, there are no "real" vocals present, but while I wouldn't mind hearing what the band might do in that department, I don't lose interest in their compositions as a result of their predominantly instrumental nature. In certain instances brief samples are utilized in an effectively vocal-like manner, and that's something else I think they could take further, though it's not necessary. Which is again where the band's creativity pays off, because this isn't just some massive slab of creeping guitar drones and pulsing bass hums or slow, pounding doom riffs, nor is it just mildly "industrialized" metal. It's all of these things and much, much more: A strange combination of forceful, driving energy and cold, bleak atmosphere that needs to be heard to be understood. Hopefully these guys won't be overlooked by fans of this style, because in my opinion they deserve far more attention than the majority of the bands at the forefront of this niche. Nicely done…
Echoes of Yul "Midget"
Echoes of Yul "Third Time"
You can only buy the CD from the band at the moment, but their prices are extremely reasonable ($10/€8 – including shipping). Definitely pick one up if you like what you hear above…
@ Echoes of Yul
Grief No Absolution "Crypsis/Eurostopodus Argus" 7"/10"
Posted on Thursday, August 27th, 2009 @ 6:56am » permalink
I had never heard of the obscure (Australian?) outfit Grief No Absolution prior to receiving a digital download copy of "Crypsis/Eurostopodus Argus" (a limited edition 7" + 10" set) for review from the ever-peculiar Flingco Sound System a few weeks back, and after attempted research I still know next to nothing about him/her/them. Having apparently released nothing prior but the "Hymns" CD-R in 2006 and a split four-disc CD-R with Blarke Bayer Silhouettes last year, this self-described "bleak metal" project with a visual aesthetic 100% suggestive of black metal is actually not metal in any way, shape, or form. The "Crypsis" 7" kicks things off with what basically amounts to about 10 minutes of vicious power electronics: Harsh, blown-out distortion, chaotically overdriven bursts of vocals buried in the mix, the works. The "Eurostopodus Argus" 10" then takes a generally more "subdued" approach by utilizing dark ambient/death industrial drones and longer, hypnotically pulsing compositions. Aside from vaguely recognizable "instrumentation" during 10" track "My Hands are Your Fading Cinder", the entire ordeal is basically straight-up experimental noise, and there's not one hint of a tangible "riff" to be found throughout, so… be not misled. Don't interpret that "warning" as negative commentary, however. I've only recently started to give even half a shit about noise again after an almost four-year "vacation" from that whole scene, but this is an incredibly solid release that's right in line with what I've always been most drawn to about the genre as a whole. I'll be curious to see if productivity now picks up for the unit, and certainly hope it won't be another year or two before new material sees the light of day…
Grief No Absolution "Bewildering Predation"
Grief No Absolution "A Corpse of Intent" (excerpt)
Though available through numerous channels, buying digital downloads direct from the label is dirt cheap and will yield significantly higher-quality files, and the vinyl comes with a digital download code as well. Good stuff…
@ Flingco Sound System (7"/10")
@ Flingco Sound System (mp3)
@ eMusic (mp3)
The Perennial "Dissension"
Posted on Tuesday, August 25th, 2009 @ 6:47am » permalink
Connecticut's The Perennial has been around for a year or so, and "Dissension" is their second self-released EP in that time. I had never heard of the band before, but this concise offering cranks out three tracks of extremely promising "metalcore" in barely over nine minutes. At the risk of getting myself "in trouble" with loose comparisons, I'm reminded of a weird Misery Signals meets Extol vibe here – with tactful little dashes of burly, stripped down churning thrown in for good measure. There's a good balance of assorted metal/"metalcore" styles, from subtly thrashy picking patterns and chugging staccato rhythms to tactfully caustic riffing and completely fuckin' badass little spurts of emphatic melody. The killer recording with a really unique and prominent bass tone alongside some viciously textured rhythms certainly doesn't hurt, and – while familiar in general approach – the brute force of the vocals hits the spot for me as well. I don't know, as usual I feel like I should say more, but this shit's over in a flash. There's a good sense of overall impact and a number of absolutely awesome riffs throughout, so… I'd be psyched to hear more from these guys. A full-length is very much in order here!
The Perennial "Bastard Business"
…I cannot close my eyes. Peeled back by the butchers of hell, they now welcome no concession. I'll scratch your names out of the future – a future where men are reasoned by reason and not by profit or prophets…
This is a digital-only release, but the band has been cool enough to make it available for free, and openly encourages sharing it around as a result. There's no excuse not to give it a shot!
[DOWNLOAD] The Perennial "Dissension" (@ The Perennial)
Nails "Obscene Humanity" 12"
Posted on Thursday, August 20th, 2009 @ 5:57am » permalink
I guess "Obscene Humanity" is the debut release from the somewhat mysterious Nails (on Six Feet Under Records) – a three-piece from southern California that's said to boast "a veteran crew of band members and a few sparse but impressive shows under their belt" (apparently one of the guys used to be in Carry On and Terror). But I guess it's just as well that there's not a ton of information about the band out there, 'cause this shit pretty much speaks for itself: Seven tracks of ripping hardcore/punk in less than 11 minutes – jammed with pummeling basslines; raw, hyper-distorted guitars; fiercely shouted vocals; and caustic, noisy leads. Only one song tops two minutes, and it's all a powerful blend of fast-paced power chords, grinding blasts, and subtly metallic chugs. Top it all off with extremely minimal, stripped down cover "art", a handwritten lyric sheet, and that's all she wrote. Great stuff, though. It kicks your ass and calls it a day with absolutely no room for getting bored, and that's a formula that always pays off…
Despise, disgust, disguised, mistrust. No peace in a paranoid mind. Day in, day out, self doubt, drop out. Eyes open, living blind. Fooled once, fucked twice, rope hung, cut ties. Beat up, broke down, succumb to demise. Embrace the pain – it never ends.
@ Six Feet Under Records (12")
@ Deathwish Inc. (12")
@ RevHQ (12")
@ Amazon.com (mp3)
@ iTunes (mp3)
Night Owls "s/t" CD
Posted on Tuesday, August 18th, 2009 @ 6:46am » permalink
One of the latest from Hex Records is the debut EP from Syracuse's Night Owls, which includes three new songs, their three-song demo, and a 17-minute live set from late-2008. Apparently all of the members "have logged serious time in numerous area bands", but I have no idea on the details there, aside from the fact that the drummer happened to be in that great (yet obscure) 90's hardcore band Cross-Section that I mentioned a few weeks ago. Regardless, Night Owls are definitely taking an atypical approach, and this is a little outside of what I'm used to hearing from Hex Records, or hardcore-based labels in general, for that matter. That's not a bad thing, though, as their influences and approach aren't completely far-fetched. Also not a bad thing is the fact that I really have no idea how I'd classify this stuff. There's a little bit of a Dischord kinda thing happening, there's some killer post-hardcore dissonance here and there, and for the most part the tunes are rooted in a catchy, midpaced, rocked out vein that carries both an indie aesthetic as well as punk influences. It's not too polished, not too raw, not catchy in a poppy way, but not overly angular either… I don't know. Who cares, really? They're cool songs, it's a good listen… that's all that matters, right? Check 'em out and make up your own mind!
Night Owls "Alienation"
@ Hex Records
Withdrawal "Unknown Misery" 7"
Posted on Monday, August 17th, 2009 @ 6:59am » permalink
Withdrawal hails from Cananda and is one of the bands that has most blatantly championed their allegiance to the "holy terror" sound and lyrical aesthetic in recent years. The "Unknown Misery" 7" (on Wendigo Records) mark's the band's first proper release, and displays a huge step up from their demo with five concisely focused tracks in just 11-and-a-half minutes. They're really starting to come into their own as well, so don't let their alignment with the "holy terror" niche of hardcore mislead you, as there's no blatant Clevo worship or anything like that going on. For the most part their approach is packed with fast, crunchy power chords and thrashy, chugging alternate-picked runs with tactful dashes of more metal-based riffs here and there, while side B explores slightly longer compositions with more tempo changes and some darker, more dissonant riffs that amp up the overall power level and really hit the spot. Compared to their demo the performances have grown much tighter, so you can tell they've been honing in on their strengths. Plus, the recording is infinitely more powerful, with a super clean, crisp mix that lets every element of the songs have some breathing room – from the basslines to the backup vocals. I haven't seen the physical packaging yet, but I'm told there's some subtle "invisible ink" on the cover, while the first 50 copies come with some sort of short story as well. Intriguing. I'm quite pleased with the band's progress thus far, and this EP really has me hankering for a Withdrawal full-length. Well done…
Withdrawal "Unknown Misery"
There is no truth, there is only perception. The fear that sinks in you is your vision's deception. Shadows float over my hands. Between my fingers like grains of sand. I used to taste more than I could feel, but now I feel nothing at all. As the candle light; it fixates my sight. My glance turns to a stare. My eyes dilate. My soul escapes…
The vinyl apparently includes a digital copy of the record, which is always awesome. Make the grab if you like what you hear…
90's hardcore compilation bands I'd like to know more about: Vol. 3
Posted on Friday, August 14th, 2009 @ 6:57am » permalink
Round three of this little series begins with yet another badass track from a band whose name is impossible to Google: Face Up to It. This song was on "A Call for Unity: East Coast Hardcore" in 1995 and kicks off straight away with an absolutely killer groove that blends thrashy picking patterns and the expected dose of 90's styled chugging power chords. The sound's a little on the raw side, but barely, and it sort of fits their aesthetic, so it all works out really well in the long run. Obviously this band must have been from the east coast, but that's all I know, and I'd really like to hear more if anything else exists. That opening riff rules so fuckin' hard! (There are some weird little glitchy noises in the background from time to time, but that's because a bunch of the files were fucked up when I grabbed these comps off eMusic a week or two ago. I hate that shit. If anyone can hit me up with good rips of the first two "A Call for Unity" compilations, please do help me out!)
Face Up to It "All This Hate"
Next up is a band that I've been desperate to find out about for over a god damn decade now, but have yet to have any luck whatosever. The Rainmen, from New York, had two songs on "East Coast Assault II: The Second Coming" in 1997, and I've never really seen mention of 'em anywhere else. I thought I had potentially found one of the members in a new band on MySpace years ago, but no one would ever respond to my messages, so who knows? I actually wrote about the Rainmen way back in 2005 (referring to their sound as "a catchier version of straight metallic hardcore with raspy vocals at times reminiscent of early Cro-Mags material") in a similar post, but no one had a clue. I doubt anything's changed, but this song is so damn great (Those basslines!), and I would totally love to finally know a little something about this extremely elusive band!
And finally (for now), another east coast band (it's a total coincidence that all three of this week's selections happened to appear on east coast-themed collections) called Soulow that had a song on "Eternity: An East Coast Hardcore Compilation" back in 1994. I believe they were from Florida, and this track has my favorite kind of 90's hardcore sound – again combining heavy riffs with an almost "emo" sort of dissonant melody. There's a great sense of atmosphere and feeling to this piece, and they really have their own sort of take on it by utilizing a unique post-hardcore vibe in both the vocals and the overall riffing style. I'd be all about hearing more from this band. Great shit…
Soulow "Best Side"
Thanks to everyone who's commented on these posts so far. I'm glad that in some cases even if no one has a clue about the bands, people are diggin' the tunes. If anyone has any information on these east coast mysteries, please post a comment here or shoot me an email. Many thanks!
Half Hearted Hero "Defining. Refining." CD
Posted on Wednesday, August 12th, 2009 @ 6:44am » permalink
I feel like debut full-lengths are the majority of what I end up writing about here for some reason, and here's another one. "Defining. Refining." is the first full-length release from New Bedford, MA's Half Hearted Hero (from both Set Sail Records and Farewell Party Records), following a seven-song EP released in late-2007. I had never heard of this band before, but their guitarist sent me a link to some random mp3 blog out there (I can respect that) and asked me to check out the album. Honestly, I sort of thought I was losing interest in this form of super polished pop-punk, but I guess I just hadn't heard it done very well in awhile now. I know this won't be for everyone that reads this site, but I can be a huge sucker for this style, and I'm digging what these guys are doing. They've got a good balance happening between the slick production and overtly poppy catchiness of bands like Blink-182 and those badass little zippy pseudo metal riffs of bands like NOFX and Lagwagon (and I will take this time to re-confess that I still love Blink-182 and all my old NOFX and Lagwagon CD's). Combine that with lots of ripping drum fills, solid basslines, and sparse vocal harmonies (more vocal harmonies never hurts this kinda stuff, though), and I'm pretty well sold. They seem like a young band and have only been around for about four years, but I could see this band being pretty "huge" or whatever considering the strengths of their songwriting and the potentially "palatable" nature of their approach. I certainly don't fault them for that, though, 'cause they're clearly incredibly tight musicians, and anyone who's ever listened to this kind of stuff over the years would have to admit that there are some killer riffs happening here. Good stuff…
Half Hearted Hero "Something Missing"
@ Set Sail Records
The Catalyst "Swallow Your Teeth" CD/LP
Posted on Monday, August 10th, 2009 @ 6:41am » permalink
"Swallow Your Teeth" is the debut full-length from The Catalyst (from right here in Richmond, VA), freshly released by The Perpetual Motion Machine. Oftentimes when I write about a band like this that's just a little outside of my normal listening realm, I unintentionally annoy people with my own loose references to what they remind me of. So, in this case, the label states that the band is "still channeling a wide range of hardcore, punk, grunge, noise rock, and sludge influences" while remaining unafraid "to show their love for Nirvana, Fugazi, Sonic Youth, The Jesus Lizard, Born Against, and most of the Amphetamine Reptile back catalog". There. Not my words, but I happen to agree 100%. It feels like there are some slightly more tangible riffs here from time to time, carrying along a punchy kind of rocked out vibe that really kicks some ass, but fear not, as there's still a totally frenetic energy throughout. So you can still expect loads of caustic riffing and searing feedback, intense screams/shouts, and super blown-out and textured distortion all over the place (which makes for some especially killer fuzzed-up basslines). I will say, though, that the more restrained sense of melody that opens (and lingers to a lesser degree throughout) "42012" is some of the band's finest work to date, and works shockingly well alongside their core attack. There are a lot of bands out there that take this type of amalgamation of sounds and just turn it into a big ball of obnoxious, noisy shit, but The Catalyst really knows what the hell they're doing. They're somehow able to have this wild and crazy approach and a sense of humor and still mix everything up in a way that has feeling and force. Nicely done…
The Catalyst "Sterling is a Hole"
If you need more convincing, you can go stream the whole damn album over at Scenepointblank. And this fucker's available from the label for just $6 CD/$10 LP, which is obviously a great deal, so definitely pick one up if you like what you hear!
@ The Perpetual Motion Machine (CD)
@ The Perpetual Motion Machine (LP)
90's hardcore compilation bands I'd like to know more about: Vol. 2
Posted on Friday, August 7th, 2009 @ 6:43am » permalink
I'm starting this one off with Cleveland's own Bluto's Revenge, a band that I now know a little about thanks to Google, and though they're more of a punk rock band, I'm including 'em anyway in case anyone reading this has recommendations for me. These cats formed way back in fuckin' 1989 and are apparently still active, which blows my mind. This song is from the mighty "Dark Empire Strikes Back: Cleveland Compilation", and I'm shocked that after years and years of loving that comp, it wasn't until recently that I realized how utterly incredible this song is. From what I can tell it comes from their second full-length, "King of the Popes", released in 1994 (the same year as the compilation), but I can't really tell from the songs on the band's MySpace page what I make of their other material. That being said, this song is so god damn catchy I'm certain the band is worth further investigation, but… I'm wondering if anyone out there more familiar with their back catalog might recommend where best to begin?
Bluto's Revenge "10,000 Heads"
Yet another in the long line of these fuckin' bands whose names render Google completely useless, Cross-Section appeared on the "Over the Edge Compilation Vol. II" in 1996 with one of those great tracks that has an undeniably 90's way of fusing crunchy metallic hardcore with discordant melodies in a weirdly "emo" kind of manner – which this band takes a little further by utilizing some impressive female backup singing. I'm not sure if that aspect of their approach is limited to this track or not, 'cause this is the only song I've heard from 'em, but I'd love to hear more.
Also from 1996 is District Five's appearance on "The World is Yours" compilation. Admittedly this isn't an entirely outstanding song, it reminds me a shitload of Downset (which isn't necessarily a good thing) with its hip-hop influenced vocal patterns and blatantly groove-laden rhythms, but despite some rough spots it's a solidly delivered track. So, as someone who's always had an enormous soft spot for bands like E.Town Concrete, of course I find this tune to be promising, and would be curious to hear more if the band ever did anything else.
District Five "Relax"
As always, if anyone has any information on these bands, please post a comment or send me an email. Thanks!
Setting the Woods on Fire "s/t" 12"
Posted on Wednesday, August 5th, 2009 @ 6:56am » permalink
Setting the Woods on Fire is a three-piece from Warsaw, Poland who recently released their debut 12" EP on the relatively new Spanish label Promise! Promise!. The band's guitarist/vocalist, Marcin, contacted me about the record, and I'm glad he did, as I warmed up to their sound right away because they're working with a really classic approach to the type of emo/screamo that I'm accustomed to from back in the early- to mid-90's. Listing amongst their influences everything from The Appleseed Cast and Superchunk to Helmet and Dinosaur Jr., there are a lot of soft/loud dynamics happening – be it shifts between dry, jangly clean guitars with pulsing bass runs and thick, grittily fuzzed out chords or change-ups between raw, from-the-heart singing and intense screams. And rather than strictly relying on sort of slow, melancholy writing tactics, there are actually some pretty energetic outbursts here, from surprisingly heavy rhythms to wild feedback and super noisy lead breaks. Such unexpected twists and turns add to the overall impact of the listen, for sure – so despite a consistent feeling overall, you can't judge the entire EP by the song below. The aptly rugged recording style fits the music perfectly, too. The vocals are placed back in the distance and really have to fight their way through the music to be heard, and the fact that they're a trio leaves a lot of space/atmosphere in the mix so that each instrument can be heard. This especially pays off due to the fact that the band experiments with different tones and textures throughout, so there's a lot of subtle variation from song to song in the way the instruments piece together and interact with one another. With just seven songs in about 26 minutes I'm definitely left hungry for more, so I'll be looking forward to seeing where Setting the Woods on Fire goes from here. This is a great little release that should really be heard by anyone with fond memories of this style of emo/indie/whatever you care to call it. Very cool.
Setting the Woods on Fire "The Letter"
I'm not seeing much ordering information for physical copies of the 12" out there, so contact the band/label using the links above to inquire about that. You can, however, grab the material digitally from a number of major sources, which is awesome…
@ strictly no capital letters (12")
@ Amazon.com (mp3)
@ eMusic (mp3)
@ iTunes (mp3)
Mother of Mercy "III" CD/LP
Posted on Monday, August 3rd, 2009 @ 6:58am » permalink
From Six Feet Under Records comes "III", which I believe is the debut full-length from Pennsylvania's Mother of Mercy, who I assume is named after the Samhain song (a much better choice than "Human Pony Girl" would've been). The cover art was also done by E. from Watain. Intriguing. Thankfully, though, these potential outside influences don't filter into the band's material (pretty much anytime a band tries to go for a Danzig kinda thing, they'll completely suck at it), so their brand of aggressive metallic hardcore puts them right up there with the cream of the crop in terms of being one of those contemporary hardcore bands that very effectively draws inspiration from the best elements of the 90's scene. So, yeah, expect a good dose of chugging power chords, but in a way that retains a hardcore base as opposed to venturing too far into metal territory. There's an excellent sense of groove, absolutely hammering basslines (helped along by a great recording/mix), and the vocals have some character, so they don't just sound like generic shouts or what have you. Most of the material takes more of a midpaced turn, but then there are explosive bursts like "Ghost" that offer more of a traditional hardcore approach. There are a few more obvious variances as well, such as the rocked out swagger of "Slip", or the comparable dual guitar runs that pop up in "Suffer", etc. Those elements definitely take a back seat, though, and the overall energy/force of the songwriting definitely hits the spot here. Nicely done…
Mother of Mercy "Inside and Out"
As always, make the grab if you like what you hear. The LP's come with digital downloads, so vinyl fanatics should be set…
@ Six Feet Under Records (CD)
@ Six Feet Under Records (red/cream with black splatter LP)
@ Six Feet Under Records (red/black splatter LP)
@ iTunes (mp3)