Roses Never Fade "s/t" CD

Posted on Wednesday, February 24th, 2010 @ 6:55am » permalink

Roses Never Fade - s/tIf you're unfamiliar, Roses Never Fade is an international project spearheaded by infamous Integrity frontman Dwid along with Thorsten Wilhelm from Vegas; with significant guitar contributions thus far having been delivered by former Pale Creation members Nick Brewer and Matt Shack, alongside appearances from Adami (acoustic guitar) and Stephanie VH (vocals, mbria piano). I first wrote about "Fade to Black" – their debut – a little over four years ago, when it was originally released by Rock Vegas. This is a revision of that post, seeing as the album was recently reissued by Belgian label Neuropa Records with the addition of the tracks from 2008's limited edition (and also out of print) "The Man They Want to Hang" 7" (Not to mention an unlisted bonus in the form of a partial cover of Scandal's "Goodbye to You"!?).

I'd guess that many narrowminded hardcore purists would scoff at this stuff, but I really dig this material all around, and still believe this outlet to be the strongest to have born Dwid's name outside of the almighty Integrity. The full-length offers 12 tracks in just under 40 minutes that walk the line between a dark, acoustic-based sound somewhat reminiscent of Integrity's sorely underrated "Heaven Inside Your Hell" (see "Don't Let the Hell Come Down", especially) and "apocalyptic folk" (or whatever the hell you want to call that Death in June-ish type of sound) flirtations. And the 7" is equally diverse, ranging from the almost spaghetti western-inflected title track to the unexpected expansion towards dense percussion, droning electric guitars, and Dwid's patented screams during "Rosa Italia" (which almost comes across as an experimental Pale Creation track with Dwid on vocals). Despite relying almost solely on acoustic guitars and whispered vocals, it's an intriguing listen where some tracks come across as more melodic while others feel further abstract and manipulated, and there's plenty of variety explored through assorted layering techniques and so on. I also enjoy the effectively stripped down rawness to aspects of the recording: There are a couple of little areas where you can hear things like chairs creaking or other subtle background noises resulting from mic'd acoustic guitar playing that are pretty curious. A number of the tracks simply demonstrate great fuckin' songwriting, too.

Roses Never Fade "Don't Let the Hell Come Down"
Roses Never Fade "Fruition Revisited"

The layout stays very close to the original CD release, omitting straightforward lyrics in favor of an abstruse sort of short story (which does contain at least some of the lyrics) that proves Dwid is still a master of the written word, and certainly makes me regret that the book expanding on the "Seasons in the Size of Days" concept never materialized in the days of old.

It has been through an uncertain manner that my only device has turned to vice and fully enveloped my being. I no longer see, nor feel as others do. I have done my best to convince my fears that this is evolution, this transcends what others have grown too content with, but I still harbor reservations. It is never easy to turn revelation into reality, and even harder to digest the truth that you are not solely in control of your actions. The duality that exists and resists can never remain still, and only through careful and meticulous surgery can the disease be truly extracted. Slithering beneath the skin is where you will find the sins of all men. Spending most of my life haunted by this realization I appreciate the concealment that dark passion resides inside, the way to salvation is through extraction.

If you never grabbed these releases the first time around, now's your chance, so pick one up if you like what you hear:

@ Neuropa Records
@ Malignant Records

Forfeit "The Lower Depths" LP

Posted on Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010 @ 6:11am » permalink

Forfeit - The Lower DepthsAmong the latest from Reaper Records is the debut full-length from Syracuse, NY's Forfeit. I never got around to checking out their "Visions" EP 'cause I suck at keeping up with things, but this album cranks out 11 tracks in about 21 minutes and is just the kind of high-quality metallic hardcore you'd expect from the Reaper label. You could certainly argue that 21 minutes isn't exactly a "full-length" level running time, but… who really gives a shit anymore? You're far less likely to get bored when things are kept more focused and compact like this! The base is a solid combination of fast-paced power chords with a hint of old school flavor and chugging midpaced breaks with a tactful sense of groove, but the vocals have just a touch more of a gruffness to 'em that starts to help the band stand out – in addition to a few unexpectedly quirky riffs that start pushing the boundaries just a touch. The recording's perhaps a little on the dry side, but that doesn't bother me at all, and actually works in the favor of the killer bass tone that pummels away in the center of the mix throughout and adds that "oomph" that I love. What more is there to say? It's pretty straightforward, no nonsense hardcore that's not one-sided and generic. Here's a little taste:

Forfeit "Burnt Earth"

I've seen mention of this release being available on LP and CD, but the CD's aren't out there for sale anywhere, and I've been told by at least one person that it's not actually going to be released on CD, so I'm not really sure what the deal is there. Either way, vinyl junkies can get their fix on colored wax, and the material's available digitally through the major outlets as well…

Purchase:

@ Reaper Records (red vinyl)
@ Reaper Records (white vinyl)
@ Interpunk (LP)
@ RevHQ (LP)
@ Amazon.com (mp3)
@ eMusic (mp3)
@ iTunes (mp3)

Starve "Demo MMX"

Posted on Monday, February 22nd, 2010 @ 7:06am » permalink

Starve - Demo MMXStarve is a new group from The Netherlands formed by soon-to-be-ex-members of vegan straightedge band Eye of Judgement (who's calling it quits in another month or two), and their first outing, "Demo MMX", includes four songs that head in an entirely different direction. The snarling vocals are the only truly comparable element, as the music here consists of rugged sludge loaded with gritty rhythms and dirty pulses of bass alongside subtly rocked out riffs with just a little bit of that southern-tinged edge. But then there's also the wicked midpaced dissonance of closer "Einzelgänger", which almost has a little bit of an abstract noise rock vibe happening, so I'd love to hear that direction further explored as well! They don't really venture too far into that whole "rock" niche, though, so don't expect fuzzy lead breaks or extensive dual guitar runs. And that's fine with me, as their current balance kicks up the energy a bit while still keeping things dark 'n' dingy enough to be a good match for the overall tone of the lyrical content – which hangs on to some of the (perhaps less direct) concepts they touched upon with Eye of Judgement. Here's one song to give you an idea of what's going on:

Starve "Stuck"

Every day you do nothing, it is a choice you make. Every day you change nothing, it is a choice you make. Slave to the everyday grind, slave to a stereotype that was force-fed upon you from the day that you were born. Stuck in a slur of emotions. Too scared to change, too depressed to stay. Stuck in a slur of emotions. Hiding, hiding, hiding away…

The band has given me permission to offer the whole demo up as a free download, stating "the more people that check it out, the better it is for us" – a point of view I always respect. So, why not give 'em a shot?

[DOWNLOAD] Starve "Demo MMX" (@ MediaFire)

Uncle Slam "Say Uncle" CD

Posted on Thursday, February 11th, 2010 @ 6:53am » permalink

Uncle Slam - Say UncleAs if I didn't rave about Divebomb Records enough last week, their latest release (which just came available for mailorder a week or so ago) is a long overdue reissue of Uncle Slam's 1988 debut, "Say Uncle". For some bizarre reason this album was never released on CD in the US back in the day, and always went for stupidly high prices on eBay, so until last week it remained the only Uncle Slam disc I was never able to get my hands on. For those unaware, Uncle Slam was a California thrash/crossover band that featured in its ranks a number of former Suicidal Tendencies members at one time or another (on this album it was ex-ST drummer Amery Smith). I generally don't give two shits for much "lightheartedness" in music, but Uncle Slam has gotta be one of the most perfect bands names ever – especially for a group like this that has a good sense of energy and just minor little touches of tactful sarcasm/humor on rare occasion.

Given the lineup ties to Suicidal Tendencies I feel like the band has often been heavily compared to ST and a lot of the other classic Venice bands like Excel, No Mercy, etc. And that's not wholly inaccurate, there's definitely some of that vibe throughout their work, but… that's not the complete picture. For one thing, Uncle Slam was always leaning a little more towards the straight metal side from day one, balancing the bursts of speedy crossover vitality with solid midpaced crunch and loads of blazing leads. That foundation is pretty firm, but they also toss in some cool diversity in the form of quirky riffing and even a few unexpected spurts of mild melody, which all works surprisingly well amidst the zippy picking patterns and killer vocal arrangements. Rounding things out, as I've now come to expect from Divebomb, the original cover art adorns the front of the package, while brief liner notes and all of the lyrics are included within. And, of course, everything has been remastered. What more do you need? I was so damn excited to read the news of this re-release taking place, and I can confidently state that this will be among the best reissues of the year. No doubt. I don't give a shit if it's only February. It's fucking Uncle Slam, man!

Uncle Slam "Executioner"

This one's not officially released until next week, but it's shipping now, and if you order within the next few days you'll get free shipping in the US. As mentioned before, if you like what you hear, please purchase a copy and support the phenomenal efforts of this label. I can only imagine what they'll accomplish in the future if they can keep this shit going!

Purchase:

@ Divebomb Records

If you're interested, you can still grab the band's other two albums for dirt fuckin' cheap over at Amazon.com (and probably elsewhere, too). I will say, though, that having revisited their entire discography in the last couple of weeks, "When God Dies" doesn't really hold up that well. "Will Work for Food" is definitely worth picking up, though!

Walking With Strangers "Buried, Dead & Done."

Posted on Wednesday, February 10th, 2010 @ 6:56am » permalink

Walking With Strangers - Buried, Dead & Done."Buried, Dead & Done." is the debut five-song EP from young Swedish metalcore band Walking With Strangers – as well as the first release from their label, Snapping Fingers Snapping Necks. Now, I don't generally care for this style so much these days, but this band has a Misery Signals-esque level of quality happening here, so it was hard not to take note. While there are definitely "modern" metalcore trappings present – vocals that shift from your standard harsh screams to over-the-top growls/squeals or even a little singing, massive chugging mosh breaks and super thick bass drops, etc. – there are also some fuckin' killer melodic surges that really kick the overall force of the songwriting up where I like it to be. They're crankin' out a ton of diversity in the riffing department, too – from the aforementioned meaty power chords and pulsing bass runs to tactfully groovy staccato rhythms, bursts of technical death metal, dissonant chord phrasings, chaotic hammer-on/pull-offs, and really cool dual guitar interaction scattered throughout. Top everything off with great production and nice design aesthetics, and you've got yourself a keeper. There's a ton of promise here, so I'll be looking forward to hearing what these kids unleash in the future.

Walking With Strangers "Buried, Dead & Done."

This one's only available digitally, and you can stream the entire EP at Last.fm. If you like what you hear, pick it up via the sources below (or iTunes if you live in Sweden)…

Purchase:

@ Amazon.com (mp3)
@ eMusic (mp3)

Pianos Become the Teeth "Old Pride" CD

Posted on Tuesday, February 9th, 2010 @ 6:24am » permalink

Pianos Become the Teeth - Old PrideThe latest from Topshelf Records is "Old Pride", the debut full-length from Baltimore, MD's Pianos Become the Teeth. I had never heard this band before, but was immediately won over by their fusion of tactful "post-rock" textures and absolutely stellar "screamo" (or whatever you want to call it). So expect just a little bit of the whole shimmery tremolo picking thing and lots of ripping screams and frantic, angular riffing held in place by emphatic melodies and stripped down clean passages. There's definitely a certain sense of rawness to it all, but these cats are far tighter than many bands of this nature. Even the often erratic bursts of percussion always feel very well controlled, so they're able to inject "chaotic" feelings into their compositions without relying on sloppy playing or overly jagged arrangements. There are all kinds of riffs happening, too – acerbic rhythms, little chunky bits, winding dissonant arpeggios, super thick pulses of bass, really spacious and somber clean breaks – not to mention the fact that a handful of the tracks start creeping up on six- to eight-minute lengths. So they may have a foundation based on certain staples of this particular style, but they're not limiting themselves by any means. Cool cover art, cool lyrics… this is just a great album all the way around. I'm glad to have been exposed to it, and wish I got the chance to stumble across more bands of this nature who really know how to do it right.

Pianos Become the Teeth "Pensive"

The first man saw his scope. Making lists, he asked will it look like this tomorrow? Excuse you, behoove you to live a spider's life and "clean up nice". Placate away, placate away and grow up tame. Tonight I saw what I'll never be, old men walking and the reveries badgering me. My longevity lays in my feet, I'm counting Fridays on calendars. I'm seeing signs in my yellow teeth. I do my best thinking while driving but now I have to wear glasses and they've been doing roadwork for years. It's funny how towns never lose their smells. It's funny how now I scythe and scowl about missing this house. You can learn to live without anyone, you just can't live with the re-runs. I'm ready to let my hair down, I'm ready to move to the woods until the floor boards get raspy, I'm ready, I'm ready. Sometimes I wish i could stop scratching at my wheals, scratching at the heels of my sneaks.

Purchase:

@ Topshelf Records (CD)
@ Amazon.com (mp3)
@ iTunes (mp3)

Charred Walls of the Damned "s/t" CD

Posted on Monday, February 8th, 2010 @ 7:14am » permalink

Charred Walls of the Damned - s/tThe vast majority of what I'd read/heard about Charred Walls of the Damned leading up to this album's release was simply hyping the band as the latest outing from former Death/Control Denied, etc. drummer Richard Christy. Now, that was enough to pique my interest, but I've been somewhat back and forth on Christy's drumming in the past, so combine that with a mediocre band name and pretty crappy cover art, and – being the picky asshole that I can be – I basically lost interest. Thankfully a friend of mine posted a blurb on Facebook (of all places) mentioning the full lineup of the band – Steve DiGiorgio on bass, Jason Suecof on guitars, and Tim "Ripper" Owens handling vocals. Shocked and impressed, I immediately went to check out their self-titled debut (released by Metal Blade Records).

All I can say is: I love it. My only complaint, which I'll get out of the way now, is that you can barely hear any bass in the mix throughout the entire album. Why this is so often the case when such a brilliant bassist as Steve DiGiorgio is involved I'll never understand, but… shit… it keeps happening!? Anyway, beyond that, everything about this album kicks ass. I find Christy's drumming to occasionally show a little more restraint than usual, the guitar work is loaded with a diverse range of killer riffs and excellently fluid lead playing, Ripper sounds better than ever, and the songwriting's fuckin' great. With nine tracks in about 35 minutes it's a short but sweet, energetic and memorable metal album that really hits the spot for me in a way that I never would've expected. I simply had no idea this band had such an impressive lineup, nor that the results would indeed be so killer. I seriously can't recommend this disc enough, and have been listening to it fairly often in the last few weeks. I believe the CD comes with a "making of" DVD, so I'll probably buy the physical CD even though I already have the mp3's. I dig it that much!

While I prefer to let the music do the talking these days, it seems like they're keeping a tight lid on songs from the album being available online, so I'm just gonna post a short clip to give you a taste of what's in store here:

Charred Walls of the Damned "Blood on Wood" (excerpt)

Apparently Charred Walls of the Damned even recorded a cover of Powermad's "Nice Dreams" for the Japanese version of the CD, and it's supposed to be available on iTunes, but I don't see it. I'll have to keep an eye out, though, 'cause that's my favorite Powermad song by far, so I've got to hear that shit!

Purchase:

@ Metal Blade Records (CD)
@ Amazon.com (CD)
@ Amazon.com (mp3)
@ iTunes (mp3)

Locked Up in Life! demos

Posted on Friday, February 5th, 2010 @ 6:49am » permalink

Locked Up in Life! - demosPretty much all credit for this post goes to Brainwrecked, a great blog that I discovered a little while ago. I woke up at 4:30am this morning for no apparent reason, started wasting time online, and outta nowhere noticed that this dude had somehow managed to get his hands on two demos from James Ismean's pre-Fury of Five band Locked Up in Life! – "Death Holds the Key" (1991) and "Incarcerated (1992). I've mentioned this band a few times here, and have been searching for any potential recordings for years, so I was completely psyched to stumble upon 'em this morning, and decided to pass the word along right away. I haven't even had time to listen to these demos in full yet, but they seem incredibly solid, and the material's rather comparable to the band's friends in Social Decay. (Edit: Holy shit. Despite the rough sound, these demos are fucking incredible. God damn I wish this band did some proper releases!) I spent an hour or so trying to clean up the files a little bit, but the "Death Holds the Key" tracks are still on the rough side. Certainly not unlistenable, though:

[DOWNLOAD] Locked Up in Life! demos (@ MediaFire)

Again, huge props to Josh from Brainwrecked for tracking these demos down and making them available to the world. Incredible! You can check out his original Locked Up in Life! post here.

Solitude "Poisoned Population: The Complete Collection (1987-1994)" 2xCD

Posted on Thursday, February 4th, 2010 @ 6:41am » permalink

Solitude - Poisoned Population: The Complete Collection (1987-1994)Shortly before the end of 2009 I discovered Divebomb Records, a label run by Matt Rudzinski from Tribunal Records that is everything a label should be. The entire mission of Divebomb Records is to reissue out-of-print, overlooked, underrated material from bands of the 80's and 90's, and it's all about loving the music and getting it back out there at the best level of quality possible. How the existence of this label managed to elude me for some time is a mystery, but as soon as I learned of it I placed my first order, and this massive double-CD discography from Delaware thrash band Solitude was among my first picks.

"Poisoned Population: The Complete Collection (1987-1994)" compiles Solitude's entire discography (remastered, of course) in reverse chronological order – starting with their sole full-length, 1994's "From Within", followed by three demos: "Fall of Creation" (1990), "Sickness" (1988), and "Focus of Terror" (1987) – for damn near two hours of music. I'm not gonna sit here and pretend I've been a longtime fan of this band, as the reality is I'd never even heard of 'em prior to this, and that's why I appreciate reissues of this nature so much – 'cause this material totally kicks ass and I never would've had a clue about it were it not for someone that cares taking the time to put together such an incredibly thorough release. Expect meaty, largely midpaced, at times technical thrash accented by some classic heavy metal tendencies (which are certainly helped along by the excellently raspy singing). You'll get plenty of those awesome, chunky breakdowns more associated with the east coast style of thrash, some really cool little melodic riffs/solos, occasional clean passages, the works. While all of the material's very solid (and very well recorded, even despite a hint of muddiness on some of the demos), the "Fall of Creation" demo is definitely my favorite. Probably the band's most technical outing, it's at times a bit reminiscent of Forbidden (responsible for my favorite thrash album of all time, by the way) in its overall quality of riffs and songwriting, so… I'm hooked there. The four-year gap between the demos and "From Within" ultimately yielded a slightly more groove-oriented approach, which could only be expected, really, given the 1994 time period, but… it's still a really cool album that I quite enjoy.

To top everything off, the packaging features badass unused cover art from back in the day (with small images of each original demo/album cover inside), complete lyrics, liner notes, and even a new interview with the band – not to mention the fact that both discs contain CD-Rom video content!? Amazing. This really puts to shame a number of reissues that I've encountered from much larger labels over the years. I'm impressed, and certainly consider myself a Solitude fan now. Here's a smattering of tracks to check out:

Solitude "Shroud of Silence"
Solitude "You Die"
Solitude "Tipping the Balance"

I can't recommend this, and numerous other Divebomb releases, enough. This has pretty much instantly become my favorite currently active label, and I'm anxiously awaiting their future output. If you like what you hear, buy this shit now, explore the label's back catalog, and support Matt's absolutely outstanding efforts!

Purchase:

@ Divebomb Records

Goldust/Evenworse split 12"

Posted on Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010 @ 6:10am » permalink

Goldust/Evenworse - splitFrom Final Exit Records comes this 20-minute split between German acts Goldust and Evenworse. Goldust kicks things off with two tracks of their brand of dark, 90's-styled metallic hardcore, and much like the "Noir" 7", these songs are a little more energetic and in your face. While the band has been branching out a bit on recent outings, this material keeps things very straightforward and focused, and I've got no complaints there. Very solid. They close with a six-minute cover of Evenworse's "I Eat Your Fucking Face Off", which basically caves into about four minutes of noisy guitar leads and chaotic samples over a plodding, repetitious rhythm. Didn't see that coming at all! Evenworse, who I don't believe I'd heard prior to this, then follows with four originals driven by hammering basslines and moderately fast-paced hardcore that's kind of a mix of old school breaks with some powerviolence density/attitude. They similarly end with a cover of Goldust's "Speaking Tongues", which they morph into their own style quite well. I wasn't sure I was gonna care for this band since I'm not particularly fond of the more sarcastic tone of their lyrics, but this is a very solid split when all is said and done.

Goldust "Nachtmare"
Evenworse "Shitstorm"

I don't see this around in many distros yet, but you can pick it up from the label's online store, and I bet the bands have copies as well if you contact them via the above MySpace links…

Purchase:

@ Final Exit Records

Analena "Inconstantinopolis" CD/LP

Posted on Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010 @ 7:03am » permalink

Analena - InconstantinopolisAs mentioned in my "25 of the best things I may never have heard…" retrospective a little while ago, Analena is responsible for what I feel may be the single best "screamo" release of all time (And primary vocalist Ana has one of the most shreddingly vicious yet heartfelt screams I've ever heard in my life!). I completely flipped out over this Croatian band when I first heard "Carbon Based" back in 2004, and five years later (towards the end of last year) they finally followed it up with the long awaited "Inconstantinopolis" (once more from the always intriguing Moonlee Records label). As opposed to the often immediate, aggressive urgency and emotion of the last album, the band has stripped things down a touch this time around, opting for a hint more restraint and a lot more breathing room – both in the songwriting and the recording – so it's a little easier to hear what's going on with all of the instruments and vocals piecing together to form the whole. Thick pulses of bass and straightforward percussion lay the foundation for winding melodies and explosive surges of angular riffing with loads of vocal layering – with an increased level of interplay between male/female vocals here as well – be it singing, shouting, shrieking, screaming, speaking, etc. I'll admit that I do miss some of the immediacy and over-the-top intensity of "Carbon Based" in this material, but I certainly appreciate the alterations they're going for as well, and "Inconstantinopolis" is nonetheless a great album from a band that I'll always have very kind words for. I sincerely hope I don't have to wait five more years to hear some new material from this outstanding (and sorely underrated) group!

Analena "Valley of Things"

They got lost in the valley of things forgot what they want conquered by the commerce kings who made their fortune selling manufactured anger and instant happiness magic drinks read between the lies of their perfect life maps take off the ready-mades and throw away the rings open your eyes and welcome to the desert of the real.

Purchase:

@ Moonlee Records (CD/LP)
@ Interpunk (CD/LP)

Title Fight "The Last Thing You Forget" CD

Posted on Monday, February 1st, 2010 @ 8:09am » permalink

Title Fight - The Last Thing You ForgetI've had "The Last Thing You Forget", the latest from Title Fight (released by Run for Cover Records), sitting here collecting dust for probably six months now. I have no idea why it took me so long to finally listen to it, I guess shit just happens sometimes, but I'm an idiot for not jumping on this one right away, 'cause this shit rules. In addition to the new songs from "The Last Thing You Forget", CD and mp3 versions of the release also contain the tracks from the band's split with The Erection Kids (Worst band name ever?) from 2006, as well as 2008's "Kingston" EP, so I guess that makes this somewhat of a discography-so-far release? Whatever the case, I absolutely love it, and am a total sucker for bands of this nature. Apparently they're often compared to Saves the Day (who I've never been a huge fan of to be honest), but they remind me of early Fairweather, The Distance, and especially The Movielife – not that any of this matters, but… sometimes general references can help. I guess you'd call this stuff pop-punk fused with melodic hardcore and a little bit of an emo/indie kind of thing, I don't know. Whatever you want to call it, whoever it may or may not remind you of, the songwriting is super fuckin' catchy and totally flawless in that regard. They've got everything I love about this style: A chunky guitar tone with loads of zippy picking patterns, emphatic melodies with a little bit of winding post-hardcore dissonance here and there, strong singing accented by a little bit of shouting… all gold. Every minute of it. I don't listen to albums repeatedly all that often, but I've listened to this thing like five times already this week. 12 songs in less than a half-hour… I need more immediately! Love it.

Title Fight "Symmetry"

Purchase:

@ Run for Cover Records (CD)
@ Run for Cover Records (mp3)
@ RevHQ (CD)
@ Amazon.com (mp3)
@ iTunes (mp3)

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