Inter Arma "Sundown" LP
Posted on Thursday, May 27th, 2010 @ 6:33am » permalink
Being the out-of-the-loop hermit that I am, Inter Arma is yet another band from here in Richmond, VA that I had never heard of prior to receiving this album for review. I believe "Sundown" is the band's first full-length outing (released by Forcefield Records), and after a 40-second intro consisting of soft, melodic piano, things burst forth with harsh, unrelenting screams over an unexpected (and shockingly fluid) mix of black metal and sludge. The sludgier aspects of the riffing definitely have that southern-tinged groove happening, but they're certainly not overly rocked out or what have you, and that's probably what helps them blend so well with the blasting percussion and discordant tremolo picking runs that creep into the song structures from time to time. The majority of the compositions surpass six minutes, but they keep things moving with a number of tempo changes and occasional forays into slow, pounding rhythms with a little hypnotic repetition happening, as well as lightly "progressive" elements during some of the instrumental breaks. There are some pretty damn raging solos in a few spots as well, not to mention a nice acoustic instrumental, so… expect a lot of cool surprises and twists throughout. Everything's topped off by an excellently appropriate recording that keeps things fairly dry and rugged, so there's a lot of natural warmth to the mix and the tones/textures have that "right there in the room" kind of feel. Here's an excerpt from one of the tracks that covers enough ground to give you an idea of what's in store here:
Inter Arma "All Time Low" (excerpt)
All copies of the LP come with digital downloads, so you should be good to go even if you don't spin vinyl all that often…
@ Forcefield Records
@ Forcefield Records (colored vinyl)
1.6 Band "The Checkered Pasts of All Kings Present" 7"
Posted on Tuesday, May 25th, 2010 @ 5:34am » permalink
I was unfortunately late to finally checking out the 1.6 Band (who originally called it quits way back in 1993), as it was just within the last two years that I picked up and was thoroughly impressed by their Gern Blandsten-released discography collection, "Broke Up". So imagine my shock when I learned that the band had gotten back together for some live performances, and was even releasing a new 7" on Metastasis Records!? The new material pretty much picks up right where they left off, with that hard-to-categorize foundation of hardcore roots (members have also been involved with Beyond and Die 116, among others) loaded up with quirky, technical riffing that flirts with everything from progressive to indie to noise rock. There are definitely some caustic, loosely chaotic elements to the guitar work and off-the-wall drumming, but there's also just the right balance of curious dissonance and odd melodic sensibilities. Combine that with vocals that aren't particularly aggressive at all, and the overall vibe of the material really shifts away from any pre-defined genres. It's awesome that well over a decade later these guys still have their own immediately recognizable aesthetic that remains unique compared to most of what's out there. Hopefully they'll keep working on new material, 'cause their killer musicianship and unexpectedly catchy songwriting never fail to grab my attention. Good stuff.
1.6 Band "The Pets Still Think He's Coming Back"
The band and label have been awesome enough to make the entire 7" available for free download, so you can grab the whole EP here:
[DOWNLOAD] 1.6 Band "The Checkered Pasts of All Kings Present" (@ MediaFire)
That being said, physical copies of the 7" are available for a mere $5ppd in the US, so vinyl junkies and fans looking to show some support should absolutely pick one up.
@ Metastasis Records
Definitely track down the "Broke Up" collection as well if you like what you hear. Highly recommended!
Anvils Drop "Death Worship" 7"
Posted on Wednesday, May 19th, 2010 @ 6:34am » permalink
Anvils Drop is a hardcore/punk band from Finland that also features members of Lighthouse Project, Sixtus, and Scream for Change. I believe "Death Worship" is their first proper outing, released by the band along with Poolside Records. Expect a rugged recording with an appropriately harsh edge to it and a style that seems to combine influences from classic Finnish hardcore/punk as well as more "recent" metallic hardcore stylings. In addition to the standard dose of fast-paced power chords and screaming/shouting vocals throughout, there are a lot of subtly rocked out riffs that possess more of a catchy sense of energy, plus some crunchier breaks and lots of cool little dissonant riffs tucked away beneath the surface. As with most bands of this nature, they're not exactly trying to break new ground (which is fine with me), but they do wind up sounding different than most of the hardcore bands that I encounter from Finland. Four songs, about 12 minutes, and that's all there is to it. Here's a taste of what the band has to offer:
Anvils Drop "Odota Vastarintaa"
This is another one that's not available online at the moment, so contact the label/band via the MySpace links above or shoot 'em an email for ordering information. It's supposed to be €5 plus postage, depending on where you're located.
Momentum "Fixation, at Rest" CD
Posted on Monday, May 17th, 2010 @ 7:00am » permalink
I was introduced to Icelandic metal band Momentum a few weeks ago thanks to Birkir at Halifax Collect, and their latest full-length, "Fixation, at Rest", has just been released by Molestin Records. Apparently the band started out as a one-man black metal project, but they've obviously come a hell of a long way, and this must be their most progressive outing to date. They're working with quite a wide range of influences: From soft singing and relaxed clean passages with tactful post-rock atmospheres somewhat reminiscent of Radiohead to a Neurosis-esque level of completely crushing heaviness characterized by intense vocal layering over discordant, staccato bursts, monstrous power chords, and subtle layers of additional sound texture. I hate to keep comparing them to other bands (though keep in mind that these are just points of reference), but they remind me of a more aggressive and expansive City of Ships as well. But all of this is spiced up by peculiarly winding little twists and turns filled with somber melodies, not to mention the diversity of all the vocal stylings, so there are a number of elements herein that push the band towards their own individual approach. The songwriting is extremely impressive, too. They obviously pay a lot of attention to transitions, dynamics, and musicianship. There are a number of jaw-droppingly awesome moments where surprisingly excellent singing and lighter fare explode into huge surges of truly moving, high-impact metal. Very much recommended. This is one of those effectively ambitious albums that I would expect to be extremely well-received by all of the bigger metal magazines were the band on a fairly known record label, so I hope the record's somewhat more obscure nature doesn't see it slip by under the radar. Do your part and spread the word if you like what you hear!
Momentum "The Conduits Lead"
…in these cold days, our primitive ways bring us to our knees. Right, towards the end. Wrong, we shall pretend. As for those colors who have not turned to gray, in time they will surely fade away. In the darkness his eyes could see through all the pain and misery. His hope consists of what might be.
Record Records (CD)
Red Vienna "s/t" CD
Posted on Wednesday, May 12th, 2010 @ 6:33am » permalink
This self-released, self-titled six-song EP is the debut from Canadian outfit Red Vienna, and it really hit the spot for me right away. As usual, I'm not entirely sure how you'd accurately classify this material since it's a little outside of my general listening habits. I guess maybe alternative rock with a little bit of shoegaze fuzz and hints of that dark/somber "new wave" type of edge? I don't know. And I don't care, either, 'cause the songwriting is absolutely fucking awesome. Expect softer, more spacious passages centered around thick, pulsing basslines while washes of hard-panned guitars bounce chords and notes off of one another; harder-hitting and more rocked out power chords that boast unexpected dashes of heaviness; and loads of riffs that throw in killer melodies and vocal hooks. I'm such a sucker for catchy songs, and a number of these tracks touch on that rare quality where you're able to start singing along before the song's over on the first listen. I love that, and am really wanting to hear more from this band pronto. Very much recommended. I'm seriously flipping out over how catchy some of this stuff is. Here's an example of just how damn great these tunes can be:
Red Vienna "The Best Words"
Get the CD for $5 or name your price for mp3 downloads, all via Bandcamp…
@ Bandcamp (CD/mp3)
Nails "Unsilent Death" CD/12"
Posted on Monday, May 10th, 2010 @ 6:29am » permalink
"Unsilent Death" is the latest 10-song EP of blistering, in your face hardcore/punk from Nails (once more via Six Feet Under Records). The label refers to the sound as "not unlike the late 80's Earache Records catalog mixed with early power violence", and I can definitely agree with that. They're still utilizing a raw, gritty recording with loads of distortion that occasionally caves in to straight up feedback/noise, but the guitars have that killer Swedish-tinged "Sunlight sound" this time out, which is awesome. The songwriting has improved as well, though, as the sparse D-beat blasts and completely hammering speeds are laced with vicious midpaced breakdowns and some really memorable arrangements throughout. I really don't know why, but judging from the explosion of comments the last time I posted about Nails, this is a band that a number of people "love to hate", apparently. I'd like to believe the improvements made on this outing will change a few minds, but it's probably unlikely. That being said, the entire record runs just 14 minutes, and the more I listen to it, the more I like it. Those of us who care more about the music than who's in the band or who else thinks it's "cool" can find plenty to appreciate…
Nails "Suffering Soul"
Unless you get it from eMusic, this is one of those rare cases where buying the album as mp3's is actually more expensive than buying the CD (which is just $6 from the label), so… keep that in mind if you're looking to pick this one up!
@ Six Feet Under Records (CD)
@ Six Feet Under Records (12")
Charles Manson "Inner Sanctum" 7"
Posted on Friday, May 7th, 2010 @ 6:21am » permalink
Right out of the "unexpected and seemingly out of nowhere" department, Holy Terror Records (along with a mysterious entity under the ATWA Records banner) has just released this three-song, 14-minute 7" of new, previously unreleased Charles Manson material. How a release of this nature comes to fruition is beyond me, but… you can't deny it's a curious occurrence! I'm not going to sit here and pretend that I'm a diehard fan of Charles Manson's musical output, as I honestly haven't heard a great deal of it over the years, and it's just not the type of thing most people listen to on a regular basis – or necessarily for its musicality, in many cases. Beyond those who possess a keen interest in all things esoteric, there's the simple fact that the man's psyche tends to put forth some intriguingly odd shit, you know? In this case, the "songs" seem to have been separated out from what was likely a largely improvisational, stream of consciousness recording session – one that quickly transitions from standard blues riffs or loose guitar noodling to hypnotic lulls of repeated notes as background texture; while Manson's peculiar subject matter is delivered through relaxed singing, hushed whispers, or even straight spoken word during "Labor of the Mind". The sound quality's as rugged as you'd expect from a performer who is and has been incarcerated for decades, but such a reality obviously makes perfect sense. It won't be for everyone, but it is an interesting and unusual piece of work that should not be deemed a mere "collector's item". Here's a little taste of what's to find:
Charles Manson "Air" (excerpt)
I believe the 100 red-vinyl pre-orders sold out rather quickly, and I'd wager the remainder of the pressing (1,000 copies on black) will be on that path as well, seeing as there are quite a few Manson collectors out there. Whatever your rationale, if this is something that interests you, pick one up while you still can…
@ Holy Terror Records
Parasitic Skies "The Descent" CD
Posted on Wednesday, May 5th, 2010 @ 7:04am » permalink
Parasitic Skies is a vegan straightedge band from Seattle, and "The Descent" is their forthcoming full-length on Seventh Dagger Records. I had never heard the band prior to this, but I dig their take on various 90's "metalcore" influences. Musically they fuse fast-paced hardcore rhythms (given an in your face boost by the raw aggression of the recording) with some of those churning, H8000-esque tremolo picking riffs and a good dose of breakdowns; while the intense vocals have somewhat of a Catharsis meets death metal thing goin' on. They flirt with some pretty killer dissonant riffs (and well-placed samples) in instrumental tracks like "Nadir" and "The Descent" as well, and on occasion the texture of the recording gives certain facets of their approach a little bit of a sludgy kind of vibe that also hits the spot. Good stuff. Here's a little taste of what to expect:
Parasitic Skies "Choke"
…the whipping wind stings your eyes – black smoke and ash of man. Withered dissolving creation, all time asleep in the sand. Crippled before the circle, black blood drowns the dirt. The thunder in your throat chokes the words, and the end will crown the work. In the broken spaces behind iron doors, so are the deserts as the bloodstained floors. Pieced together to be torn apart, the secret step in a violent art. These are the last days – the final arc. This is the last time before it falls apart.
I believe the album's slated to officially hit the streets on May 10th, so it's only available as a pre-order package with a t-shirt and a back patch at the moment. A damn solid deal for $18, but if you just want the tunes, you should be able to order the disc by itself sometime next week.
@ Seventh Dagger Records
Said and Done "Weight of the World" 7"
Posted on Monday, May 3rd, 2010 @ 6:50am » permalink
"Weight of the World" is the latest EP from Dutch hardcore act Said and Done (released by Carry the Weight Records), which sees the band continuing to improve upon their unique style of hardcore. The driving midpaced rhythms and sincere vocals (which combine a gruff edge with vague hints of actual singing) are still the driving force, but there are a few more tempo changes happening this time around – lending both a little more crunch as well as a little more melody to the songwriting. There are a lot of quick little lead riffs going on, and the basslines feel more active here as well, which is always a plus and makes perfect sense given the band's solid sense of groove. It's the vocals that really give the material a different energy than a lot of what's out there, though, and that makes a huge difference for me. I guess European hardcore bands still tend to fall on the underrated side of things, 'cause if Said and Done was from the US and signed to a label like Deathwish Inc. or something, I can't help but think more people would be all over this shit. With four tracks in just over 11 minutes you're certainly left wanting more, so it's definitely about time for these cats to drop another full-length!
Said and Done "Weight of the World"
The 7" is limited to just 500 copies, and colored vinyl is still available, so make the grab while you still can if you're into it…
@ Carry the Weight Records