Human Demise/Worth the Pain split 7"
Posted on Tuesday, September 29th, 2009 @ 7:20am » permalink
The latest from Finland's Thug Free Records (along with Poolside Records, Words are Weapons Records, and WTF Records) is this killer split 7" between Dutch act Human Demise and Finland's Worth the Pain. Human Demise kicks things off with three new tracks ("Agony", "Anxiety", and "Acceptance") that basically ball up into one monster slab of their Ringworm-esque metallic hardcore. These guys are easily one of the most underrated of the new breed of "holy terror" hardcore bands, especially seeing as they were way ahead of the curve in reintroducing that term to the hardcore lexicon. I have a ton of respect for the band as a result, and will always be looking forward to hearing more from 'em. Worth the Pain takes side B with two of their strongest tracks to date, maintaining their fast-paced, traditional hardcore base and those sneering higher-end vocals while throwing in some very subtle melody, metallic leads, and amping up the chug factor with their heaviest and most efficient recording thus far. This is the style of contemporary Finnish hardcore I know and love, and it's great to see the band stepping it up across the board. This is a damn solid split, so I'm glad Thug Free was kind enough to hook me up!
Human Demise "Acceptance"
Worth the Pain "The Obsessed"
Unfortunately this one doesn't have wide distribution, so contact any of the bands or labels on MySpace to get more details about ordering information and all that. Hopefully the quality of the releases from these labels will start to garner better distribution in the US and elsewhere as time goes on!
@ Thug Free Records
@ Poolside Records
@ WTF Records
Okkultokrati "Knarkskog" 7"
Posted on Monday, September 28th, 2009 @ 6:58am » permalink
Following their now out of print seven-song demo tape, "Knarkskog" is the first proper release from Oslo, Norway's Okkultokrati, as well as the debut release for the label, Lilla Himmel. Cranking out four songs in a very succinct six minutes, expect a peculiar blend of frantic hardcore/punk with sick vocals and plenty of chaotic dissonance and "skronk"-laden riffing that has an unusual noise rock sort of aesthetic to it – especially in terms of the spacious textures utilized by the recording. The band has referred to their approach as "True Norwegian Metaphysical Atheist Black 'n' Roll", while the label loosely defines it as "somewhere between Black Flag and Darkthrone". Me? I have no fuckin' clue, but there's a killer sense of energy throughout, so I don't give a shit what you'd call it. It's totally great, and the band deserves all the attention they may well receive. Here's a taste:
And here's the whole thing, as the band has been kind enough to make the entire EP available for free download via their blog:
[DOWNLOAD] Okkultokrati "Knarkskog" (@ Sendspace)
Physical copes are limited to just 200 copies, and I would imagine they'll be sold out rather quickly, so… as usual, don't wait too long to track down the vinyl itself if you're a collector!
@ Tiger Records
Trapped Under Ice "Secrets of the World" CD/LP
Posted on Thursday, September 24th, 2009 @ 7:10am » permalink
"Secrets of the World" is the long-awaited debut full-length from Baltimore, MD's Trapped Under Ice, just released by the mighty Reaper Records. Blowing through 12 tracks in just 23 minutes, and even better than last year's "Stay Cold" EP, this material easily maintains the band's position as one of the finest contemporary metallic hardcore bands out there right now, if not the best. For the most part everything remains rooted in the NYHC-styled tradition of nonstop vicious grooves accented by some mid-90's-esque experimentation with subtly more metallic sounds (including some sweet leads) and loose hints of melodic attributes tucked away beneath the surface – not to mention some badass vocal patterns. And the absolutely killer production unloads one of the sickest bass tones I've heard in a long time – super fuckin' dense but still possessing enough crispness for the details to be heard amidst the hammering force. There's just something about Trapped Under Ice and the way they're able to truly capture a certain vibe and a level of songwriting quality that so few hardcore bands can even hope to shoot for in this day and age – and they're actually managing to do it without sounding overly similar to any of their predecessors /influences, which is damn near unheard of anymore. I know my "reviews" are getting shorter and shorter these days, but shit, man, there's only so much you can say, and the fuckin' music speaks for itself. I've got huge respect for this band and their vision: They're not just goin' through the motions, and I'll always look forward to hearing where they take it next…
Trapped Under Ice "See God"
@ Reaper Records (CD)
@ Reaper Records (LP)
@ Amazon.com (mp3)
@ iTunes (mp3)
Same-Sex Dictator/Requin split 7"
Posted on Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009 @ 6:48am » permalink
This split 7" between two curious Seattle acts was apparently released by a label called Artificial Limb Co. that I couldn't find any information about. The bass-centric two-piece Same-Sex Dictator kicks things off with "From Meal to Bait" and its four minutes of densely winding bass runs and hectic percussion alongside a dual vocal attack that combines fierce midrange sneers and low, grunted "growls" alongside assorted shouts and yells. Requin then follows with two short bursts jam packed with angular, at times chaotic riffing that actually has a little bit of a rocked out feel buried amidst the abrasiveness of the textures and the harshly screamed vocals. Both bands possess aptly raw recordings that highlight warm, natural tones and space – making their material very complementary in overall aesthetic, despite approaching things from very distinct angles. The record lasts just over a mere seven minutes, but I'm sold on both bands and would be very interested to hear more, so… this split absolutely gets the job done right!
Same-Sex Dictator "From Meal to Bait" (excerpt)
Requin "A White Belt in Music Journalism"
Apparently the vinyl comes hand-numbered out of just 300 copies, so make the grab sooner than later if you like what you hear. Crucial Blast seems to be the only distro that has the 7" available online at the moment, but I'm sure you could contact either band via the MySpace links above about ordering direct as well…
@ Crucial Blast
Animal Instinct "Stick Like Glue" 7"
Posted on Monday, September 21st, 2009 @ 7:09am » permalink
"Stick Like Glue" (released by Take it Back Records) is the debut release from Animal Instinct, a new hardcore band from Switzerland that formed from the ashes of the mighty Solid Ground. I was disappointed to see Solid Ground call it a day, but thankfully Animal Instinct picks up in a very similar vein by kickin' out five tracks of top notch, no frills metallic hardcore in less than nine minutes. I totally love this style of hardcore, and these cats execute it perfectly with a strong sense of tactful groove to the songwriting, chugging rhythms that stay firmly rooted in traditional hardcore, and vocals that possess some real character and balance a little bit of a burly approach with a pissed edge. When your sole list of influences contains the "New York Hardcore: Where the Wild Things Are", "New York City Hardcore: The Way it Is", and "New Breed!" compilations, you better mean business, and Animal Instinct damn sure hit the mark as far as I'm concerned, so I can't wait to hear more! Here's a quick taste:
Animal Instinct "Forced"
But I've also been given permission to post the entire 7" by the band's guitarist, Martin Schaub, who also runs Take it Back Records, and I was extremely impressed with his reasoning behind this move:
I just see it as some kind of promo for our band and our music. If someone really wants to download it, they'll find it on the net anyway. Plus, the point is this: We will never make any money playing in a hardcore band. We are all very realistic about that. In fact, playing in a hardcore band is a very good way to get rid of your money! We do this because we like it, and I really just want our music to be heard!
Huge respect for that. I'm all for buying music whenever I'm able, but I definitely wish more bands had such a charitable perspective.
[DOWNLOAD] Animal Instinct "Stick Like Glue" (@ Mediafire)
The vinyl's limited to just 368 copies, so don't sleep on picking one up if you're interested. The link below lists off a bunch of European distros that are carrying the 7", and you can order directly from the band/label if you contact them on MySpace.
@ Animal Instinct/Take it Back Records
The Psyke Project "Dead Storm" CD
Posted on Wednesday, September 9th, 2009 @ 7:33am » permalink
"Dead Storm" is the fourth album from Denmark's The Psyke Project (their second for Lifeforce Records) – a band I've been following for almost five years now. It's nice to see them continuing their pattern of releasing a new full-length just about every two years, and without growing away from the crushing heaviness at the core of their sound. Upon the first listen, "Dead Storm" seems perhaps a touch more stripped down than the band's past efforts, continuing to work in some "post-" types of influences while easing up on some of the more chaotic and abrasive bursts heard in their earlier work. I'm still generally sick of the vast majority of "post-rock" sounds, but the similarities present here are tactful nuances as opposed to the base style of shimmery effects over repetitious tremolo picking that far too many bands are toying with nowadays. There's also more going on under the surface here. In the band's own words:
The album is a soundscape influenced by the frailty and authenticity of traditional Nordic music, and at the same time there's a presence of pristine landscapes throughout the songs. The honesty of Nordic narratives – be it nature, myths, or music – has made a deep impact on how we wanted to record the album and the emotions that should be conveyed through "Dead Storm". It has been paramount to us that all studio recordings were done live and within a short timespan in order to stay honest to the songwriting and to convey a sense of authenticity and unpredictability on the album.
Don't be misled, though, as this isn't some sort of artsy, folk-infused album in any way. The overall style really is right in line with what you'd expect from the band, with a good deal of shifting back and forth between soft clean passages (which often place extra emphasis on the rhythm section) and surging strikes of deep, detuned chords laced with winding discordant riffs and absolutely scathing vocal snarls. I'm quite intrigued by the fact that the material was recorded live in the studio, because the tones and the mix are just fuckin' awesome throughout, and the technique does create a more dynamic impact when they kick in the distortion after moments of calm restraint. Another keeper from this continually underrated outfit…
The Psyke Project "Polaris"
For some reason I think the US release of the CD has been pushed back until October!? I'm not sure what the deal is there, but you can already buy the disc directly from the label in Europe, and it's available digitally through the major outlets in the US right now as well. Go figure…
@ Lifeforce Records (CD)
@ Amazon.com (mp3)
@ eMusic (mp3)
@ iTunes (mp3)
Explode and Make Up "s/t" one-sided 12"
Posted on Tuesday, September 8th, 2009 @ 7:18am » permalink
The debut release from Chicago's Explode and Make Up is this excellent self-titled, one-sided 12" released by Underground Communiqué Records. Apparently the lineup features current and former members of 88 Fingers Louie, The Methadones, The Bomb, The Story So Far, Tomorrow's Gone, and a few other bands I don't think I've ever heard (though I have heard of 88 Fingers Louie). With that out of the way, this killer EP cranks out six tracks in 16-and-a-half minutes in a style that's one of the most literal fusions of melodic hardcore and rugged pop-punk that I've ever heard. Despite the fact that there are some minor little inconsistencies with the recording from song to song, the songwriting and overall feel of the material absolutely rule. Expect lots of fast-paced power chords and zippy picking patterns, pounding basslines, plenty of those cool melodic arpeggios that always get me psyched, and some slightly slower/darker rhythms to provide a little more variety. I fuckin' love the vocals, too. They're neither too clean nor too strained, and there's a great sense of character there that really adds to the sincere and heartfelt tone the band carries as a whole. It's funny, I wasn't sure I was gonna be into this at first, but it's very quickly growing on me. If they can tighten up their production values for a slightly more cohesive listen they'll be set. But regardless, I'd be all about a full-length from these dudes based on the strengths of these songs (which are super catchy at their best), so hopefully that'll happen at some point!
Explode and Make Up "Lion in a Cage"
This one's limited to 525 copies on either blue or black vinyl, so… make the grab if you like what you hear, as always!
@ Underground Communiqué Records
Ill Omen "s/t" 7"
Posted on Monday, September 7th, 2009 @ 7:28am » permalink
This self-titled 7" is the first proper release from one of Finland's latest and fastest moving metallic hardcore bands, Ill Omen – released by both Poolside Records and the band's own KTL Records. Ill Omen is fronted by Markus Veijalainen, the man behind the great blog Killing the Legacy, and an excellent resource for all things related to the contemporary Finnish hardcore scene, which I've been an avid admirer of for many years now. While the band only formed about a year ago, they quickly released a demo and were in the studio working on this 7" not long afterwards. I have to say, though, that this new material shows an incredible improvement for the band across the board: Stronger songwriting, tighter performances, a better recording and mix… everything. As with many bands of this nature (and this is never a complaint), don't expect any boundary pushing or lofty creative goals: This is straightforward, in your face metallic hardcore loaded with badass chugging grooves and traditionally-based chord progressions – tossing in quick melodic runs and ripping little lead burst here and there for good measure. They blaze through the whole fuckin' EP in just over eight minutes, and that's that. There's a killer sense of energy to the impact of the delivery that really leaves you hungry for more, but if the band keeps up their current pace, something tells me the wait won't be too long…
Ill Omen "Nemesis"
I believe this one's limited to just 300 copies, so don't sleep on it for too long if you're interested…
@ Ill Omen/KTL Records
@ Poolside Records
Show of Force "s/t" CD
Posted on Friday, September 4th, 2009 @ 6:57am » permalink
Show of Force is a relatively new hardcore band from The Netherlands, and this seven-song, self-titled EP is their debut release for Real Recognizes Real Records. At least a couple of these guys have been around, though, as I learned while preparing this post that Show of Force contains the former vocalist and bassist of killer Dutch act Stone Cold, who released the crushing "Nothing Lasts" full-length on Gangstyle Records about eight years ago. Oddly enough I had pulled out "Nothing Lasts" recently and had wondered what ever happened to Stone Cold, and the majority of the remainder of their lineup actually has ties to this band: One of their former guitarists recorded this EP in his studio, and another of their ex-guitarists has since started the label that released this disc… as well as the primary distro that's selling it! Go figure!? But history aside, this is an absolutely raging EP that cranks out about 17 minutes of no bullshit metallic hardcore at the level of quality (and viciousness) that I've definitely become more accustomed to hearing from Europe than the US in recent years. Expect thick, chugging rhythms, thrashy bursts of speed as well as fast-paced power chords with a little old school hardcore flavor, tactfully slammin' breakdown grooves, and powerfully burly vocals. They don't fuck with the formula at all, and that's exactly how it should be done with this style of hardcore. The fact that they write killer tunes and have an exceptionally forceful recording certainly doesn't hurt, either. I wish every record of this nature had a sound this crisp and in your face. I'm all over this shit, and can't wait to hear more from these cats. I'm so glad some of these European bands are keeping this style alive in full fuckin' force…
Show of Force "Sentenced to Death"
This one's not set for an official release until next week, but you can pre-order it now. Hopefully it'll hit some US distros in the weeks following its release as well. This shit's just too damn good to fly under the radar!
Torchbearer "The Worst is Yet to Come" 7"
Posted on Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009 @ 6:19am » permalink
"The Worst is Yet to Come" is the latest from New Jersey's Torchbearer – a quick three-song 7" on Soulrebel Records that continues in the vein of the band's 2008 demo by unloading about 10 minutes of assorted post-hardcore influences. Think thick, surging rhythms, loads of dissonant chord phrasings and slightly noisy background textures, a few energetic and driving bursts hinting at traditional hardcore/punk, and by contrast some slower/darker fare that really hits the spot – all topped off by straightforward yelling vocals. I wouldn't particular say they're heading in any new directions here, but that's fine with me. If you were into their demo, I see no reason why this succinct EP wouldn't suit your tastes as well. I know this write-up's extremely fuckin' brief, but I just wrote about the band a few months ago, so… what more needs to be said!? I'm a fan…
Torchbearer "Hello, My Name is Torchbearer" (excerpt)
As is (thankfully) becoming more and more common these days, the vinyl includes a digital download card, so you'll be all set even if you don't have a turntable…
@ Soulrebel Records