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Liferide "s/t" 12"

Posted on Wednesday, March 31st, 2010 @ 6:05am » permalink

Liferide - s/tThe second release from Take it Back Records is the debut 12" EP from Liferide – a band that features members of Animal Instinct (Switzerland) and State of Mind (The Netherlands) heading in an intentionally more crossover-based direction. But it's not that fast-paced, D.R.I. or Cryptic Slaughter type of crossover. The band cites some of their primary influences as the Cro-Mags and Leeway, so that should give you an idea of the style and era of hardcore/metal fusion this material is coming from. Expect lots of awesomely crunchy midpaced riffing and quick lead breaks that have a great sense of tactful groove/energy – while the simple, stripped down vocal patterns have a definite thrash metal kind of vibe happening. The guitar tone even has subtle elements of that Cleveland/Mars Recording Studio sound, which I always love. They're certainly not over the top with the metal influences either, so the material still feels firmly rooted in hardcore, which works out well. Fans of Bitter End and bands of that nature (drawing from similar influences) should definitely be down with this stuff. I'm not sure what more to say. Five songs, 14 minutes, and I definitely want to hear more. Here's a little taste:

Liferide "Forever Lost"

At some point, the EP's going to be released on CD by True Till Deaf (I couldn't get the pre-order link to work), but vinyl junkies can order now by contacting the label via the MySpace link below (or email 'em). There are less than 100 copies left, so… don't sleep on it if you like what you hear!

Purchase:

@ Take it Back Records

Kerasphorus "Cloven Hooves at the Holocaust Dawn" CD/10"/12"

Posted on Monday, March 29th, 2010 @ 6:04am » permalink

Kerasphorus - Cloven Hooves at the Holocaust DawnI somehow managed to have no idea that this band existed, but Kerasphorus is the latest outing from Pete Helmkamp (Order From Chaos, Angelcorpse, etc.), and "Cloven Hooves at the Holocaust Dawn" is the band's debut four-song EP (released on various formats over the last two months by Nuclear War Now! Productions). And this is easily his most focused and ferocious post-Angelcorpse work to date – forgoing the industrial/noise experimentation of projects like Terror Organ and Feldgrau for a return to absolutely blistering, "blackened" death metal. Expect Helmkamp's patented sneers and snarls over feverish tremolo picking riffs punctuated by gnashing, discordant note choices and the at times frantic percussive blasts of session drummer J. Read (Conqueror, Revenge, etc.). However, while all four songs blaze through in just about 19 minutes, and intense speed is the primary mode of attack, there are a number of quick breathers tossed around throughout – where hammering rhythms or strangely angular midpaced runs creep into place. Killer recording, too. I don't have a physical copy yet, but I'd of course be curious to see the lyrics (assuming they're included), as Helmkamp's work in that realm is always intriguing (if at times "controversial"). From what portions I can decipher I'm guessing the approach/content hasn't changed a great deal. Since the EP's so short, here's an excerpt to give you an idea of what's in store:

Kerasphorus "Disturb the Furthest Stars" (excerpt)

The 12" "die hard" edition comes with a patch and a sticker, and it appears that all three formats have slight variations in cover art, so take your pick… or mix and match if you're a collector!

Purchase:

@ Nuclear War Now! Productions (CD)
@ Nuclear War Now! Productions (10")
@ Nuclear War Now! Productions (12")

Gluttons "s/t" 7"

Posted on Wednesday, March 24th, 2010 @ 6:03am » permalink

Gluttons - s/tReleased late last year by A389 Recordings, this self-titled EP is the debut from Gluttons – a new project from Ringworm's Human Furnace and Chris Dora that utilizes those vicious, unmistakable vocals against more of a rugged hardcore/punk backdrop. The bulk of the material is based around fast and pissed power chord rhythms with old school-flavored breaks, accented by subtly rocked out (in a Motörhead kinda way) riffing that occasionally pulls the tempos towards a more driving, midpaced stroll. The longer tracks definitely flirt with some darker and more involved types of atmospheres, though, and some of the other songs on their MySpace page seem to take the rocked out influences a little farther from the hardcore/punk core, so… with just five tracks in about 14 minutes to go on here, who knows where this project will head next!?

Gluttons "Shell Shock"

Physical copies (limited edition clear vinyl is still available) come with a download code, but if mp3's are all you want, the label's now selling digitally for dirt fuckin' cheap. You can't beat $2.50 for a digital EP, so… one way or the other, make the grab if you like what you hear.

Purchase:

@ A389 Recordings (7")
@ A389 Recordings (mp3)

Nesseria "s/t" CD

Posted on Monday, March 22nd, 2010 @ 6:19am » permalink

Nesseria - s/tHaving released a handful of splits since 2006, this marks the full-length debut from French act Nesseria (released by Trendkill Recordings), as well as my first exposure to their work. You can expect a pretty furious dose of grinding "metalcore" (for lack of a better term) from this one. I know "metalcore" is such a dirty, misleading term, but these cats really do offer a powerful and efficient blend of caustic, explosive grindcore blasts with only the best of what contemporary definitions of "metalcore" have to offer: Twisted flurries of discordant guitar textures held in place by a sense of "controlled chaos", frantic bursts of speed, darker midpaced runs with fucked up bends and weird, chugging chord phrasings, etc. And nothing but completely sick screams in the vocal department – no singing, no over the top growls or squeals… just the good stuff. On occasion they start to hint at that big, crushing sort of sound that a lot of bands from France and Switzerland have kinda nailed in the last decade, but this material's so much more frantic and in your face, and the ever-so-slightly rugged edge of the recording pulls them back from that direction as well (which is neither a good nor a bad thing, just a perception). All of the song titles are in French, so I assume the same goes for the lyrics. I don't have 'em, but titles that translate to statements such as "To Those Who Have Failed Us", "By Profit and Loss", etc. show signs of promise for the lyrical content to be as strong as the music.

Nesseria "A Ceux Qui Nous Ont Lachés"

I'm not seeing this one around in any distros, but you can pick it up from the band or the label. They may have more information about potential distribution sources outside of Europe as well…

Purchase:

@ Nesseria
@ Trendkill Recordings

Fates Warning "Parallels" 2xCD/DVD

Posted on Friday, March 19th, 2010 @ 5:56am » permalink

Fates Warning - ParallelsFor some reason, Fates Warning is one of those bands that I've always wanted to like, but I never really got into 'em. I've checked out a number of their albums over the years (I still have "No Exit", I just never really listen to it), but nothing ever hooked me in. Well, just a few days ago, Metal Blade Records released this expanded reissue of "Parallels", the band's sixth full-length (originally released in 1991), and I decided I'd give 'em another shot. Maybe I'm a little more open-minded about certain facets of progressive metal these days, or maybe the relaxed nature of this material is a nice breather, I don't know. Whatever the case, I'm finally starting to get into this band!

They're pretty "different", too, forgoing many of the typical characteristics of this genre. For example, this material's definitely not as overtly technical and involved as the term "progressive metal" would suggest, nor does it boast the particularly energetic flourishes of power metal that often play a role for comparable artists. I wouldn't really call it "arty" either (and that's probably a good thing). The compositions aren't overly long, so the whole album clocks in at eight tracks in 45 minutes, etc. All that being said, it is pristinely recorded/mixed, which helps to highlight loads of sleek clean passages and generally cool riffs. There's a lot of really fluid instrumentation overall, and the songwriting is fairly memorable through just barely starting to scratch the surface of what could be considered occasional "catchiness". I know the band's approach has shifted in phases over the years, so this isn't representative of their entire body of work, but… I'm finally wanting to start exploring the rest of their back catalog to see how it all compares to this.

For longtime fans of the band, the second disc contains an eight-track live set recorded in 1992 with five demo recordings of songs from the album tacked on as an added bonus. To be honest with you, I've never been into live recordings, and since all of the demo songs appear on the album in re-recorded form, I haven't bothered to check out this portion of the material. On a similar note, I don't have a physical copy of the set, so I haven't seen the DVD, but it looks to include another full live set from 1992; two music videos; and a "making of" documentary that's said to contain current interviews with all of the band members, the album's producer, and Brian Slagel from Metal Blade. That's a hell of a lot of content, and unlike many "bonus" DVD's, it sounds like this one actually makes a difference!

As with the last few Metal Blade releases I've covered, they don't seem to be putting any complete tracks out there for download, so here's an excerpt to demonstrate a bit of what the album offers (you can check out more via the MySpace link above, of course):

Fates Warning "Eye to Eye" (excerpt)

This one's available digitally as well, but considering you can get the physical set with the bonus DVD for just a few bucks more, I can't really fathom why anyone would go the mp3 route here. Hell, you can get the CD's/DVD for just $13 at Amazon.com right now!? That's a bargain. There's a good chance I'll pick one up myself!

Purchase:

@ Metal Blade Records
@ Amazon.com

Expire "Grim Rhythm" 7"

Posted on Wednesday, March 17th, 2010 @ 5:56am » permalink

Expire - Grim RhythmI believe "Grim Rhythm" (released by Hellfish) is the first proper release from Milwaukee, WI's Expire (following their demo), and it offers up six brief tracks of straight up metallic hardcore in less than 10 minutes. This is another one of those bands that really hits the mark by pretty much sticking to the tried and true approach, and the recording's got a good amount of ruggedness to it as well. Expect bitter, pissed off shouts/yells over chugging midpaced power chords with vague hints of old school flavor, subtly thrashy speeds busting out here and there, and forceful songwriting driven by a fuckin' great sense of groove. These cats definitely have the whole build it up/break it down thing mastered – complete with badbass riffs and killer bass runs, so… what more do you need? I know this is a stupidly short write-up, but it's a straightforward, no bullshit, eight-and-a-half-minute 7", so I don't know what else to say. It's good stuff!

Expire "Expired"

This one's available on clear or purple marble vinyl, so pick one up if you like what you hear, as always…

Purchase:

@ Hellfish
@ RevHQ

Young Adults "2010 demo" CD

Posted on Monday, March 15th, 2010 @ 6:08am » permalink

Young Adults - 2010 demoYoung Adults is another great band from Allston, MA whose five-song demo immediately grabbed my attention, even if it is once more outside the realm of my usual listening habits. I'm not sure what you'd call this style, or that such questions really matter, but as a starting point I'd say it's a fusion of slightly new wave-ish punk, indie rock, and "shoegaze". There are a good amount of rockin' power chords and pulsing basslines accented by simple little melodies and tremolo picking textures, while a lot of the "shoegaze" types of influences come into play with the recording, which is super raw and fuzzed out – pushing the vocals into the background where they literally fight their way forth through a wall of reverberating chord progressions and dry percussion. It can sound a little over the top at times, but there's something about it that works, and the ruggedness of the production never hinders the obviously awesome songwriting at all. There's some really catchy material here, and I love the overall atmosphere they've created around that core. The whole thing's over in a mere 12 minutes, and I already want to hear more. Immediately. This is great shit…

Young Adults "Annulation"

As is becoming increasingly common, the band has made the entire demo available for free download, so I wholly encourage my more open-minded readers to check it out:

[DOWNLOAD] Young Adults "2010 demo" (@ MediaFire)

Physical copies are available for $4 at their shows, but I bet they'd be willing to send 'em out in the mail for a few extra bucks if you ask them nicely via the MySpace link above…

Human Demise "The Odditorium" CD

Posted on Friday, March 12th, 2010 @ 4:04am » permalink

Human Demise - The OdditoriumFinally – after five years of demos, EP's, and compilation appearances – we have a full-length album from Dutch hardcore act Human Demise (released by WTF Records)! I've been a big fan of this band ever since I heard "Whitechapel Demise" back in 2005, and they're still staying true to that basic formula of crushing, no-frills metallic hardcore that's heavily influenced by Integrity, Ringworm, and the "holy terror" type of aesthetic. This time out it's 12 tracks in 33 minutes, loaded with chunky midpaced rhythms and tactfully chugging breakdowns, scorching shouts/screams, and a handful of faintly melodic little lead bursts. Only one song hits four minutes, so they get straight to the point and move on. Is it original? Not really. Are they pushing the boundaries? Nah. Does that bother me? Fuck no! The songwriting's dead on, they've got just the right balance of furious rage and dark atmosphere, the production's their most balanced to date, etc. I have no problem whatsoever with bands sticking to the playbook if they focus on songwriting and get the job done right. Thus far Human Demise has absolutely been one of those bands you can count on for consistency, and I certainly appreciate that under these circumstances. Good stuff…

Human Demise "Humanity's Downfall"

The disc is housed in a six-panel digipack and all of the text is handwritten, which always looks cool, so make sure to pick one up if you like what you hear…

Purchase:

@ WTF Records
@ Goodlife Recordings
@ Interpunk

Yersinia "Lejonhjärta" CD

Posted on Wednesday, March 10th, 2010 @ 6:49am » permalink

Yersinia - LejonhjärtaYersinia is a band from Uppsala, Sweden that contacted me recently about reviewing their second EP, "Lejonhjärta", which was released sometime last year (I'm assuming it was self-released, as I see no mention of a label). Their approach combines assorted contemporary metalcore styles with somewhat of a "screamo" type of edge. I guess this wouldn't normally be my thing, but maybe I'm really bored with what is usually my thing. Either way, I really enjoy this. They've got the frantic energy and occasionally loose, raw tendencies of "screamo" with the slicker production (it was recorded by Daniel Bergstrand, so of course it sounds great) and wide-ranging riffing styles of modern metalcore. The songwriting works well to keep things moving, though, so despite a number of jumps from pulsing bass and stripped down, chugging rhythms to somewhat chaotic bursts of technicality accented by surging melodies, it's not a disjointed listen. As with most metalcore of this nature, some of the vocal shifts are a little over the top for my tastes, but the majority of the vocals bounce between searing screams and a half-spoken delivery that I dig, so… the more extreme grunts/growls aren't a real hindrance. I don't think I've ever encountered a band of this nature that doesn't sing in English, but all of the song titles and lyrics are in Swedish here, which I actually think is a really cool and respectable decision. With just four songs in about 12 minutes this thing's over in a flash, but I'll be curious to hear the full-length they're putting together. Here's one song as an example:

Yersinia "Om Floden Var Vin"

And here's the whole EP, since Yersinia's one of those forward-thinking bands that (thus far) has made all of their material available for free:

[DOWNLOAD] Yersinia "Lejonhjärta" (@ Diamonds & Crowns)

There are links to buy CD copies on the band's MySpace page, but their webstore doesn't actually have the disc in stock, so I'm guessing it's out of print. If you like what you hear and want to download the EP in a higher-quality format than mp3's, you can do so for $5 at Bandcamp. Of course, you could also use this link if you're a generous music fan and want to help the band out with a little money since they're kind enough to offer up their material for free!

Purchase:

@ Bandcamp

Restless "2009 demo"

Posted on Monday, March 8th, 2010 @ 7:16am » permalink

Restless - 2009 demoThis quick four-song demo is the debut outing from Columbus, OH's Restless (I don't think any cover art exists, hence I'm just using a band photo for this post). When the band wrote me about checking out this material, I was told they'd been described as "epic party hardcore", which immediately turned me off and had me assuming I'd hate this. Thankfully calling this "epic party hardcore" is hugely inaccurate, as there's nothing lighthearted or silly about this material in any way. The band plays extremely solid melodic hardcore that balances just the right amount of chunky heaviness and forceful, aggressively textured vocals with melodic arpeggios, octave chords, and other such accents to color things up. It's memorable and energetic without coming across as super catchy or overly melodic, which is awesome. The lyrics all seem to deal with personal hardships and whatnot, so I have no idea where anyone got the "party" vibe!? Whatever. This is great material and it sounds pretty damn good for a demo, too. I love the vocals, the plunky basslines are right in the center of the mix, etc. Sure, there's room for improvement here and there, but I could definitely live with a full-length that sounded just like this. I'm looking forward to it, as well…

Restless "Tides"

The band has made the entire demo available for free, so have at it:

[DOWNLOAD] Restless "2009 demo" (@ MediaFire)

Integrity "In Contrast of Sin" 7"

Posted on Friday, March 5th, 2010 @ 12:23am » permalink

Integrity - In Contrast of Sin2010 marks the 20th anniversary of Integrity's first proper release, the now infamous "In Contrast of Sin" 7", and in honor of the occasion, Organized Crime Records has reissued this classic on colored vinyl. I suck at keeping up with things, so I actually had no idea this reissue was taking place until a week or so before I was told to expect copies in the mail. Needless to say I was shocked to further discover that on top of this, the label will be doing vinyl reissues of "Those Who Fear Tomorrow", "Systems Overload", "Humanity is the Devil", and "Seasons in the Size of Days" throughout the remainder of the year. Furthermore, in addition to the original cover art, this and every subsequent reissue will feature a limited edition run of reinterpreted covers created by Stephen Kasner. My vinyl collecting days are pretty much behind me now, but, ummm… these are some of the greatest albums ever, and Stephen Kasner is my favorite visual artist, period, so… I'm really fuckin' psyched about all this!

With such an utterly amazing and influential discography throughout the first wave of Integrity's existence, I feel like this 7" is largely overlooked these days in favor of "Those Who Fear Tomorrow" just the following year. While I certainly wouldn't argue that this material is better, I do find it to hold up extremely well to this day as a firm example of how important this band's history has been to the hardcore genre – love 'em or hate 'em. The last time I revisited these recordings it had been quite awhile since I'd last given them a spin, and I was really taken aback by how much I enjoyed everything. I, too, had started to ignore the significance of this EP in the shadow of such powerhouses as "Systems Overload" and the like. But there's something about the raw energy of this material – that Clevo guitar crunch, the hoarser vocals, shorter songs, fewer solos, and a handful more "hardcore" oriented lyrical themes – that still leaves a mark by creating a darker, more sinister sense of feeling. Not to mention stirring the ol' rage to the point where you just want to smash everything in sight! 20 years later you still can't fuck with "Harder They Fall". These are classic tunes, man. There's a fuckin' reason this is one of my all-time favorite bands…

Integrity "Harder They Fall"

If for some insane reason you don't already have these songs digitally and you're not huge on vinyl, every copy comes with a download code as well, so… while these are obviously collector gold, they should satisfy other fans as well. Limited edition covers (printed in metallic silver ink on matte black paper) are still available from the label, so pick one up while you still can…

Purchase:

@ Organized Crime Records
@ Interpunk
@ RevHQ

Akaname "As Above/So Below" CD

Posted on Thursday, March 4th, 2010 @ 6:54am » permalink

Akaname - As Above/So Below"As Above/So Below" is the latest from New Zealand-born (but now Australia-based) Akaname. About two years ago when I wrote about their debut EP, "Filthlicker", I mentioned that their vocalist had left and they were continuing as an instrumental act. This limited edition self-released EP kicks out three relatively quick songs in just about 13 minutes to demonstrate where the band's at with their new, vocal-less approach. And I have to say, not only is it very different, it's a hell of a lot better than I was expecting. For some reason I've grown less and less interested in instrumental bands over the last few years, as so many of them just can't hold my interest, but this stuff really hits the mark. Expect an assortment of off-kilter rhythms combining chugging power chords and quirky riffing with cool dissonant accents and subtle guitar effects, while warm percussion and dense bass runs fill in the gaps. Then they change things up a bit through the spacious drones, repetitious bass pulses, and faint samples of hypnotic closer "Axis Mundi". These guys have a knack for excellent sounding recordings as well. I mean, as far as I can tell two of these songs were recorded live, and the other in a practice space, yet they all sound fuckin' great. I don't know, if you were super into the chaotic, in your face metalcore of their prior work, they may have lost you along the way here, but… I think this new direction feels more thought out and diverse – certainly creating more atmosphere in the absence of vocals. Very cool. Here's one track as a mere taste (the whole thing is below):

Akaname "Yield"

Physical copies of this release do exist, but they're already sold out. However, the band is cool with it being duplicated and spread around (stating as much on the back cover), so… here's the entire EP to enjoy:

[DOWNLOAD] Akaname "As Above/So Below" (@ MediaFire)

Get Laid "Pretty Weathered" 10"

Posted on Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010 @ 6:59am » permalink

Get Laid - Pretty WeatheredGet Laid is from Allston, MA and plays self-described "thrashy weird punk", and that's cool, because I'm not really sure what the hell I'd call this stuff on my own! To make a comparison maybe two or three people will actually recognize, they kind of remind me of that German band Gentle Veincut I've written about a couple of times (which is a very good thing in my book) – mostly due to the unique vocals, but also because in addition to the punchy energy and rugged attack of their "thrashy weird punk", there are also lots of caustic, angular "noise rock" types of riffs and textures happening all over the place. It's a cool blend that certainly prevents the band from being pigeonholed into any standard genres, and I have to say I'm way into it. Some of the songs are kind of catchy and explosive with hammering basslines driving a subtly rocked out hardcore/punk vibe, while others have a little more bite in the peculiar twists and turns of their controlled chaos. I'd totally love to hear more from this band ASAP. I'm getting pretty tired of the norm and it's great to get the opportunity to check out bands like this that are doing something a little outside the box.

Get Laid "Decca A.D."

This one's limited to a mere 500 copies, all on red vinyl with hand-screened sleeves. There's a digital download code as well, so those of you like me who are too busy/lazy to deal with vinyl will still be good to go. It's only $7 and there are only five copies left on Etsy right now, so… pick one up while you still can!

Purchase:

@ Etsy

At Both Ends #9/10 magazine/2×7"

Posted on Monday, March 1st, 2010 @ 7:01am » permalink

At Both Ends #9/10 magazineI can't remember the last time I wrote about a zine, though I do still encounter them on rare occasion, but this one damn sure stands out enough to warrant the coverage. It's a shame that my first exposure to At Both Ends is also their final (double) issue, but… such is life, I suppose. I had never seen this magazine before, so I'm not sure how older issues compare, but this fucker's 148 full-size pages bound like a paperback book. The covers are full color, and rather than cramming all of the content into one massive issue, each issue starts from its own half of the zine. So, when you finish #9 in the center, you flip it upside down and go back to the other front cover and start over again. Included throughout are solid interviews with Anchor, Excursion Records, Greg Bennick, Shai Hulud, Shook Ones, Sick of it All, To Kill, Verse, and several others; in addition to retrospective write-ups on Sparkmarker and Brand New Unit; Bane's South American tour diary; and cool little segments on random topics like Bill Stevenson's custom tour truck, vinyl mastering, etc. There are also a hell of a lot of reviews, but that's the only real weak spot for me, as they're incredibly brief, and in this day and age with as long as it takes to put together a zine of this magnitude, they're pretty dated as well. Otherwise, pretty much all of the content's very well done, not to mention laid out nicely. Shit, I even enjoyed looking through all the ads and stuff, since this really feels like a super high-quality version of the types of zines I grew up with, so it really made me feel nostalgic for those days where ads were actually how you learned about and mailordered records!

Of course, another huge factor here is that the double-issue comes with a double-7" featuring two songs apiece and 25 minutes of music total from Bane, Grade, Unrestrained, and Between Earth and Sky. I know that Bane and Grade are both pretty popular bands in certain circles, but I honestly hadn't listened to either of 'em in years prior to this, so I was pleasantly surprised to really enjoy their contributions here. Bane kicks out one new track and a re-recording of "Struck Down by Me", each demonstrating their brand of heavy yet melodic and heartfelt hardcore that's probably been a massive influence on a lot of the newer bands operating in this general space. Apparently these are Grade's first new songs since 2001, and I dig this version of their catchy, emo-tinged melodic hardcore way more than I remember. In fact, I feel like I hated their last album, but… I don't have it anymore, so I can't remember! Either way, these tunes are awesome. Unrestrained's material continues in their 90's-inspired vein of top-notch acerbity and harsh vocals blended with just the right amount of midpaced chugging. They still remind me of Harvest, and that's not a bad thing at all. They're tightening up with time, and I'm still looking forward to hearing more. I was probably most excited to check out Between Earth and Sky, a band that features former members of Trial, Strain, By a Thread, and Catharsis (all bands that I quite enjoy), and they don't disappoint. The tracks combine heavy, surging hardcore with somber acoustic passages and intense melodies, while vocally shifting from straightforward shouts to a good number of Greg Bennick's spoken word jaunts (which I've actually really come to appreciate). Two tracks doesn't feel like enough to go on, either!

Here's a quick medley of what's in store from the 7"s:

Bane/Grade/Unrestrained/Between Earth and Sky medley

I know the total price with shipping here can seem a little heavy, but you've gotta keep in mind how expensive it is to print zines, press vinyl, and ship that shit out. It ain't cheap, and you're essentially getting two zines and two records here. Remember that these efforts really deserve to be supported, and pick one up if you're interested…

Purchase:

@ At Both Ends (single copy)
@ At Both Ends (set of three vinyl variations)

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