Overstand "Razor's Edge/Kali Yuga" CD
Posted on Monday, November 30th, 2009 @ 7:19am » permalink
New Jersey's Overstand features former members of the promising act Charge, and this disc (released by GAOTU Records, which I assume may be the band's own label since I can't find any information about it anywhere) collects all of their recorded material to date (sans one song, I'm not sure why). About half of the tracks have been previously released on the "Kali Yuga" 7" and a split 7" with Sirens, but the remaining material is exclusive to this CD. The 10 tracks represent two different recording sessions that are both a little on the raw side, which does hold back the band's true potential just a touch, but your ears can adjust within a couple of minutes, and the explosive nature of the band's finest work certainly overcomes any hindrances the sound quality might present. Like Charge, Overstand seems to draw a lot of comparisons to Bad Brains and Absolution and whatnot, which I can hear to a degree, but especially with regard to the former I'd say that most of the comparisons are coming from the fact that there are a couple of reggae-ish breaks to be found, and I guess there's a "spiritual" sort of tone to some of the lyrical content as well. But while there is an Absolution/Burn kind of vibe to the vocals (which is always a good thing in my opinion), the music tends to be based around energetic hardcore/punk with roving basslines and lots of unexpectedly rocked out riffs that come from a totally different perspective. The older songs from 2008 feel a little more focused overall, filtering the band's diverse range of influences into a more cohesive whole that still pushes outside the boundaries from time to time, but there's a lot of interesting shit going on regardless.
Overstand "Brainwash Mind Games"
Strangely enough it seems that Overstand is already calling it quits, as according to their MySpace page they're recording one more four-song 7" and some of the members are already moving on to a new band called Magnitude. That being said, these limited edition Overstand CD's might be gone sooner than later, so don't sleep on picking one up if you're into what you hear…
Creepout/Integrity "Love is… the Only Weapon" split 7"/CD
Posted on Tuesday, November 24th, 2009 @ 7:25am » permalink
Released by Japanese label Juke Boxxx Record in honor of their three-date tour of Japan a little over three weeks ago, this split sees Creepout teaming up with the almighty Integrity for a handful of new tunes per band. Creepout kicks things off with three songs (one of which is a CD-only bonus track) of no frills metallic hardcore with a good balance of moderately fast power chords and crunchy midpaced breaks with gruff vocals. There's some slightly metal-based riffing thrown in here and there for good measure, but for the most part they keep things super stripped down and traditional, based around a NYHC style that has perhaps a little Clevo tinge throughout some of the slower rhythms. Integrity then follows with "Love is the Only Weapon… Let the Night Roar", which is basically two tracks in one, transitioning from a somber clean intro to plodding power chords layered with lots of chaotic lead bursts and divebombs. Then, after a brief interlude of pulsing dark ambient throbs, everything breaks open into a combination of pounding, "Systems Overload" styled runs and an almost black metal-esque riff that makes for a pretty interesting blend. The recording's a little rawer than anything I've heard from the band as of late, but that could be an intentional experiment given the rugged thickness of the mix and the way the percussion has a strangely crisp yet distant sheen happening. The two Septic Death "karaoke" covers from the split 7" with AVM are included as a bonus on the CD version, as is a lengthy unlisted experimental noise track. Killer lyrics and some badass inner sleeve artwork from Integrity as well!
Integrity "Love is the Only Weapon… Let the Night Roar"*
*The Integrity link above is for a .zip archive of the entire track via holyterror.com, for a limited time only.
The 7" is limited to just 340 copies, with the CD coming in a little higher at 666 copies pressed, though both may be hard to come by. The link below is for the label's webstore, which will be fairly useless unless you can read Japanese. But it looks like Dwid has one copy of the CD and a few 7"s for sale on eBay, and should be adding more such auctions in the future…
@ Juke Boxxx Record (CD)
Staph "Keys" CD
Posted on Monday, November 23rd, 2009 @ 7:20am » permalink
Another cool release from intriguing label Kid Sister Everything is the "Keys" EP, which offers up three songs in about 15 minutes from Chicago trio Staph. I guess you could call this "screamo", though it's certainly not the irritating kind. Jangly clean guitars and thick basslines mix with a little bit of raw distortion, and all three band members contribute vocally, so there's a mix of intense screaming and pained, distant singing. Of course there's a frantic sort of edge to some of the riffing and arrangements, but there are also a lot of drawn out instrumental passages that have a surprising midpaced throb happening, and such excursions really add a different sort of feeling to the emotional tone of their work as a whole. As usual I don't know what more to say, especially seeing as you can check out the entire EP below. Here's one song and a dash of (different) lyrics to give you an idea of what to expect:
It's raining gold downtown. Looked up to spot a rainbow in the sky. Had no umbrellas so a million people died. And if these streets could speak, we'd get eaten up in its concrete teeth. A million people. If these streets could speak, we'd get eaten up in its concrete teeth. The symphony marches in packs of cigarettes and six. Existence spends me every day like your accumulation of pennies. We broke the ground that we walk on. 'Cause we took too long to walk on.
Released earlier this year, "Keys" was limited to just 50 hand-painted discs in hand-sewn sleeves, and is also now sold out. So, the label has given me permission to post the entire thing for your listening enjoyment:
[DOWNLOAD] Staph "Keys" (@ Mediafire)
If you like what you hear, definitely check out the Kid Sister webstore and/or their full distro list to see what other releases are still available, as their general aesthetic seems to be pretty consistent across the board. I'll definitely have to keep an eye on what they release in the future…
Abraxis "s/t" CD
Posted on Thursday, November 19th, 2009 @ 6:46am » permalink
Abraxis, Australia's one-man holy terror hardcore enthusiast, has finally released this impressive self-titled full-length debut (on Frequency Deleted Records), offering up a concise eight tracks/half-hour of extremely effective Integrity/Ringworm worship – right down to the dead-on cover of the former's classic "Abraxas Annihilation". If you missed out on the band's demo, expect loads of sneering, Human Furnace-like vocals over churning Clevo-styled power chords and fiery lead breaks. And he's still spicing things up with experimental noise/"apocalyptic folk" excursions as well, most notably in "I Hope to Die", where deep, restrained singing hovers amidst reverberated acoustic guitars and distant swells of feedback or crispy, distorted hums. Obvious advancements have been made in terms of the production values, and while a little room for improvement may remain, this material sounds very good, especially considering that most everything's handled by one dude (I believe a session drummer helped him out). Overall this is a killer album that has me really looking forward to hearing more from Abraxis. Sure, it's not the most original thing on the planet, but there are little bits and pieces that stray from the formula. And when a band's chief inspiration is one of the greatest hardcore bands of all time (Integrity), I can certainly live with strong similarities in approach – especially when it's executed at this level of quality. The hardcore oriented songs are powerful and to the point, the more experimental material is aptly chilling and possesses true feeling, etc. Great work. I'm all over this…
Abraxis "Destined to Fire"
@ Frequency Deleted Records (CD)
@ Interpunk (CD)
@ RevHQ (CD)
@ iTunes (mp3)
Fehler "Adharma" CD
Posted on Tuesday, November 17th, 2009 @ 4:44am » permalink
"Adharma" is the debut five-song EP from Dutch trio Fehler (released by Black Death Records), and I have to say, these guys are delivering one of the most literal and unique combinations of hardcore/punk and sludgy metal I've ever heard. Dark, discordant textures and winding basslines with a midpaced doom/sludge type of vibe are contrasted by frantic, chunky power chords and subtly rocked out riffing delivered in hammering, fast-paced bursts of hardcore/punk energy – while fronted by ultra gruff snarls that work well over any and all approaches alluded to by the instrumentation. On top of that you'll find bits and pieces of searing feedback, a well-integrated sample or two, creeping melodic attributes, the occasional spout of ringing post-hardcore dissonance, and even a few more chaotic riffs that almost have a weird black metal feel!? Seriously, there's a lot going on, but what's great is that the band pulls it off perfectly. The songs don't feel disjointed in any way, and the entire 17-minute listen is a shockingly cohesive experience given the breadth of influences they're drawing from. Awesome.
Fehler "Season of the Witch"
@ Fehler (CD)
@ Black Death Records (CD)
@ CD Baby (mp3)
Naysayer "No Remorse" 7"
Posted on Monday, November 16th, 2009 @ 6:53am » permalink
Released earlier this year by Reaper Records, "No Remorse" is the debut 7" from Richmond, VA's Naysayer, offering up six tracks/13 minutes of pissed off, no bullshit metallic hardcore with loads of badass midpaced grooves and a really bitter sneer to the vocals that helps give the band a slightly different sound than a lot of what's out there right now. Musically they're not a cookie-cutter band, though. Sure, most acts of this nature tend to stick to a pretty consistent formula (and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that), but Naysayer's got a good balance of faster, subtly thrashy runs and those tactful, chugging grooves, so their metal-tinged sound never loses its hardcore roots (i.e. don't expect intricate riffing and solos). A pretty dry, stripped down recording allows for a solid bass presence, so you can notice that the bass doesn't just mirror the guitars all the time, which is always a nice touch. I don't know what more to say. No song hits the three-minute mark, so this is a pretty straightforward dose of material that leaves you wanting more. Good stuff…
Naysayer "Soul Searching"
@ Reaper Records (clear/gray 7")
@ Reaper Records (multi-colored 7")
@ RevHQ (7")
@ Amazon.com (mp3)
@ iTunes (mp3)
Damages "Scars" 7"
Posted on Friday, November 13th, 2009 @ 6:46am » permalink
"Scars" is the debut two-song EP from Canadian act Damages (on Clue #2 Records, and soon to be released by Deaf Cult in Europe), which the label accurately describes as "early Discord/Ebullition sounds mixed with Touch and Go style noise rock". And it rules. The compositions are driven by absolutely massive basslines and crisp drumming surrounded by jangly, angular guitar riffs that use very little distortion, while the vocals fall to the distance and jump from speaking to straight up shouting/yelling. The recording's stripped down and loaded with low-end, the songwriting's memorable and carries both energy and emotion, the lyrics are solid, etc. The whole EP is barely over seven minutes long and I'd fucking love to hear from this band immediately. I don't get exposed to this style very often, but I'd love to hear more bands nailing it as well as Damages. Great work. Awesome.
Damages "Gears" (excerpt)
…I grow further and faster away from something significant, and nothing scares me more. The choices I've made have turned into my regrets and I wish I had the strength to turn these gears to make this machine run.
As is (thankfully) becoming so common, the vinyl will contain a download code for mp3's of the release, so definitely pick one up if this is your thing…
@ Clue #2 Records
@ Deaf Cult (pre-order)
Rise and Fall "Our Circle is Vicious" CD/LP
Posted on Thursday, November 12th, 2009 @ 7:05am » permalink
"Our Circle is Vicious" is the latest (and greatest) from Belgium's Rise and Fall (once more from the always top-notch Deathwish Inc.), offering up 10 tracks of the band's most focused material to date in a little under a half-hour. First and foremost, with the help of the mighty Kurt Ballou the band has finally nailed a recording that completely kicks ass and gives their material the extra punch it needed. They've thickened things up while retaining that veil of gritty texture, and the way the massive density of the bass fills in all the cracks so perfectly just blows my mind. Everything about this record sounds fuckin' incredible, and really draws you in right off the bat. But while I say this is the band's most focused album, it's also their most diverse. The overall base is still made up of scathing vocals over relatively straightforward metallic hardcore/punk rhythms with a little bit of a crusty edge, but while they'll often bust out that driving, unexpectedly rocked out sense of energy with their chord progressions, there are a hell of a lot more slow-paced tempos exploring darker, dissonant riffs and some restrained breathing room here. They can get a really throbbing heaviness goin' on, and seem to flirt with an almost hypnotic sense of repetition from time to time while experimenting with different dynamics and textures (rather than beating you over the head with a singular approach). So, basically what I'm trying to say is that while Rise and Fall's foundation may be stripped down metallic hardcore/punk, they're starting to bury those roots with much more adventurous and atmospheric fare, but they're doing so in a way that makes sense and is still tied to their past efforts. There's a lot going on, though, so as always you've really got to hear for yourself to make your own decisions…
Rise and Fall "Built on Graves"
Definitely make the grab if you like what you hear. The vinyl comes with a download code, and if money's tight or for some reason you don't care about the physical product, the label's now selling super cheap mp3 downloads as well. You can't lose…
@ Deathwish Inc. (CD)
@ Deathwish Inc. (LP)
@ Deathwish Inc. (mp3)
Wrnlrd "Myrmidon" LP
Posted on Tuesday, November 10th, 2009 @ 7:26am » permalink
"Myrmidon" is the latest full-length effort from prolific, one-of-a-kind black metal outfit Wrnlrd (once more released by the ever-curious Flingco Sound System), and within seconds it becomes clear that the band's production values are continuing to improve, as this may well be the first time I've ever been able to clearly discern guitars, bass, drums, and vocals all working together at once in a Wrnlrd track. Their growth towards tangible riffs continues here as well, with some surprisingly fluid, somberly chilling clean passages and straightforward, chunky rhythms. Don't get the wrong idea, though, as the compositions are still loaded with cacophonous layers of additional texture/obfuscation, so while the improvisational nature of Wrnlrd's earlier work has decreased, such elements still play a significant role. A lot of this material seems to be driven by a pulsing rhythmic core that becomes surrounded by completely fucked up chord phrasings, all kinds of mangled leads, subtle samples, and a much wider range of vocals – where those obscured, gurgling grunts/growls are frequently joined by or give way to chant-like moans, haunting wails, and even some actual singing. Wrnlrd's music is so unique and bizarre that there's no possible way to effectively communicate what you're hearing with mere words – especially now that every element is audible and there's even more going on. So I'm gonna stop trying and let the excerpts below do the talking. This is absolutely the band's most ambitious work to date, and it's refreshing to see/hear such obvious progression with each subsequent release, as all too many artists are content to stagnate and repeat rather than challenging themselves (and the listener).
Wrnlrd "Diamond" (excerpt)
Wrnlrd "Girl" (excerpt)
Remembering your last expression my face to the street like an instrument of measuring pain long forgotten I feel you slipping naked through the faint and dying ring of some ancient combat whispering "now he's gone" in the echoes of the infinite black engines of hell…
Vinyl purchases come with a download code, and the album's available digitally for inexpensive prices if you can't afford the physical LP, so…
@ Flingco Sound System (LP/mp3)
@ The End Records (LP)
@ Amazon.com (mp3)
@ eMusic (mp3)
@ iTunes (mp3)
Unrestrained "Screaming for a Life Worth Living" 7"
Posted on Monday, November 9th, 2009 @ 7:27am » permalink
"Screaming for a Life Worth Living" is a four-song 7" that marks the first proper release from Portland, OR's Unrestrained (on Surprise Attack Records). For those unaware, the band's vocalist, Justin, is one of the guys behind the excellent Stuck in the Past blog, so it makes perfect sense that his band is heavily influenced/inspired by various facets of the 90's hardcore scene. Expect scathing screams over chunky, metallic rhythms with loads of killer bass breaks and a good balance between slightly harsher guitar textures as well as some surging post-hardcore dissonance and subtle melodic elements tucked away in the riffing. If I had to compare them to artists from that classic era of hardcore, I'd say they come across as an interesting mix of Harvest and Mouthpiece. I do wish the recording was just a touch more polished in order to give the material the oomph it deserves, but there's something about their present ruggedness that does make sense, and adds a little bit of an acerbic sheen to the vocals that's pretty cool (the bass tone kicks ass, too). The songwriting's absolutely on point, so I'll damn sure be looking forward to seeing where they head down the road. Look for a split with Germany's Laura Mars and two tracks on an At Both Ends zine compilation coming soon…
@ Surprise Attack Records (red vinyl, alternate cover)
@ Surprise Attack Records (black vinyl, standard cover)
@ Surprise Attack Records (both versions)
We are the Storm "s/t"
Posted on Thursday, November 5th, 2009 @ 7:51am » permalink
The self-titled debut EP from Uppsala, Sweden's We are the Storm includes five tracks/17 minutes of laidback indie rock-ish stuff that totally reminds me of the kind of thing I tend to get introduced to by the always killer It's a Trap! (and indeed, had I been keeping up with said website the way I should, I would've been able to start enjoying this EP several months ago). I don't really know how to properly describe bands like this because, while I think most would agree that "indie rock" is not an inaccurate blanket to throw over We are the Storm, they're definitely a different kind of style from the emo/indie rock that I'm accustomed to from back in the 90's, and I would guess that these guys are more than likely drawing influences from entirely different realms that I'm not really accustomed to at all. That being said, I'm totally into the somber yet relaxed atmosphere of their aptly stripped down production values, jangly chord progressions and throbbing midpaced rhythms, soft clean passages, and fluid singing with plenty of backing harmonies. "Danmark (Fin de Siècle)", in particular, is loaded with totally fuckin' killer hooks and gets me every time. I'll be eagerly awaiting more from this band, and would certainly be glad to stumble upon more groups like this, even if they are slightly outside of my typical tastes…
We are the Storm "Danmark (Fin de Siècle)"
We are the Storm has been forward-thinking enough to make the entire EP available for free download in a variety of high-quality formats, and is spreading the word via their blog and numerous other sources. So, here you go, and enjoy:
[DOWNLOAD] We are the Storm "s/t" (@ Bandcamp)
Iskra "Bureval" CS
Posted on Wednesday, November 4th, 2009 @ 7:44am » permalink
"Bureval" is the long overdue sophomore full-length from Canadian "anarchist metal" outfit Iskra (released on cassette by the band's own Black Raven Records), whose full-length debut was released by Profane Existence way back in 2004. Unfortunately I haven't kept up with the EP's/splits that the band has released in the interim, but if their style on the self-titled LP was anarcho/crust punk gone scorching thrash with raw black metal accents, they're now focusing entirely on the latter, and have basically become a full-on black metal band that still carries the values associated with the crust punk genre. Seriously, the explosive speeds and prevalent tremolo picking riffs herein remind me a lot of "Panzer Division Marduk", just with more feeling and lyrics that actually have some real substance. Iskra's lyrics have always been much more involved than the vast majority of bands tackling similar topics, and I'd say that content has followed the music this time out in terms of taking a slightly more aggressive turn. But that's not to say that they're dumbing things down at all, which is far from the case, as the lyrics here feel a little more abstract – as opposed to beating you over the head with an overly straightforward message. They tear through all 10 tracks in just under a half-hour, breaking up the hammering speeds quite nicely with warped midpaced breaks or slick dissonant runs that really pay off for the overall impact of the songwriting. The recording is very efficient as well, keeping things fairly rugged yet extremely clear, which really accents the subtleties of the bass runs and some fuckin' raging drumming throughout. Very cool.
Iskra "Within the Black"
This – the blood of our conscience, the blood of our cowardice. The legacy of their politic – all life degraded. The legacy of their repression has such a wide grave. A confused civil obedience wanders the streets, the official voice reflected everywhere, sour with hypocrisy. May the blood that dies for your voice every day rise up and pursue you…
LP (and possibly CD) pressings of the release are planned for the not-so-distant future, but those who are down to keep it super old school with the cassette format can go ahead and make the grab…
@ Black Raven Records
@ Crimes Against Humanity Records
Gypsy "s/t" 7"
Posted on Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009 @ 7:41am » permalink
Gypsy features members of killer hardcore bands like Bad Seed, Blacklisted, and Cold World heading in an entirely different direction, accurately said to be "in the vein of Jawbreaker, Seaweed, Dinosaur Jr., and Knapsack" – all bands that I'm a fan of, but I was still a little concerned as to how Gypsy's take on said approach would turn out. Well, their debut release is a two-song 7" single (from Six Feet Under Records), and I'm pleased to report that the results are quite fuckin' good, and I definitely wish there were more than two songs here. I don't really hear the energy of Seaweed in these tunes at all, but they seem to be going for a "24 Hour Revenge Therapy" type of guitar tone with some of that ringing distance in place, which certainly brings in a significant Jawbreaker influence to "Relatively Distant", and there are definitely some Dinosaur Jr.-esque leads in "Skeleton Parade", while the slower-paced style of catchiness that the songwriting possesses does remind me a bit of Knapsack (not that the label's comparisons are supposed to be too literal, but hey, they do make sense, so I ran with it). I'm way into this. Hell, dare I say, I think I'd be more interested in hearing some new material from Gypsy before anything from these guys' hardcore bands! What can I say?
Gypsy "Relatively Distant" (excerpt)
@ Six Feet Under Records (7")
@ Deathwish Inc. (7")
@ RevHQ (7")
@ Amazon.com (mp3)
@ eMusic (mp3)
@ iTunes (mp3)
Process of Guilt "Erosion" CD
Posted on Monday, November 2nd, 2009 @ 8:10am » permalink
"Erosion" is the second full-length effort from Portugal's Process of Guilt (once more released by Major Label Industries), which unloads another 55+ minutes of their extremely impressive brand of emphatic doom. And they're certainly not one of those bands that's all about playing oppressively heavy and slow just for the sake of it. Utilizing warm, organic production values and lots of shifts in dynamics within their generally lengthy compositions, there are plenty of thick, dark, crushingly heavy rhythms with bashing percussion and guttural vocals, but these moments are constantly punctuated by melodic pulses of bass, killer little winding dissonant riffs, droning lead runs, and soft clean passages. There are also some "speedier" rhythms that bring in a chugging, midpaced energy; while some arguably "post-rock" textures (but don't worry, said influences actually have some "oomph" here) seep into the mix on rare occasion to add another layer of atmosphere. But the main factor with Process of Guilt is that there's a real sense of emotion in place that I tend to find this genre lacking. It really makes a hell of a difference in the overall impact of the material when you can perceive that type of feeling in the songwriting and performances. I think that's what helps differentiate Process of Guilt from many of their peers, and creates more immediate interest in their output. Here's a mere taste of what the album has to offer:
Process of Guilt "Waves (The Circle Part II)"
@ Major Label Industries
@ The End Records