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Unveil "Hypnopaedia" 7"

Posted on Thursday, September 30th, 2010 @ 10:25pm » permalink

Unveil - HypnopaediaThe latest from Take it Back Records (released with the help of Start a Fire Records) is the "Hypnopaedia" EP from Swiss vegan straightedge act Unveil. I must admit that I wasn't familiar with Unveil prior to this, but their approach is certainly one that I would expect from a vegan straightedge band in that it's heavily rooted in the 90's style of metallic hardcore: Chugging midpaced rhythms, pulsing bass grooves, harshly yelled vocals, a few faster tempos that touch on a little more of an old school hardcore influence, etc. So, yeah, I can definitely get on board with this stuff! It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of this style of hardcore, and Unveil seems to have it down. If someone sent me these tracks and claimed it was a rare EP from some obscure European band that came out in the late-90's, I'd totally believe it. Even the recording has elements that remind me of the good old days – especially the bass tone, which has that really plunky and well-defined crispness to it. Awesome. What more can I say? Four tracks, 10 minutes, and fellow fans of this niche should find absolutely nothing to complain about.

Unveil "Pressure"

This one's limited to just 500 copies, 350 on black and 150 on green/black swirl, so vinyl junkies should make the grab while they're still available. I believe each copy comes with a download code as well…

Purchase:

@ Take it Back Records
@ Start a Fire Records

Starve "Wasteland" LP

Posted on Monday, September 27th, 2010 @ 6:58am » permalink

Starve - WastelandOn the heels of their four-song demo, dingy Dutch doom act Starve is already back with their first full-length outing, "Wasteland" (released by Badger Records), which unloads 10 songs in nearly 50 minutes. All four songs from the demo appear here in re-recorded form, and there's a crisper recording this time out that gives the individual elements a bit more space in the mix – especially the vocals, which are a little more out in front now. Overall they maintain a natural sense of warmth and a thick, gritty density that fits this style perfectly, but now you can really hear the detail in those nasty pulses of bass, and the vocals have an extra smidge of attitude and intensity that provides more emotion to the lyrical delivery. For the most part the songwriting approach is still a fairly straightforward dose of crawling, rumbling sludge with snarling vocals (though the lyrics definitely tend to have more of a serious message with this band), but they are starting to bring in a wider range of tactics. A handful of riffs toss in some extra dissonance (most notably the excellent "Einzelgänger", which feels even more twisted than it did on the demo), occasionally the vocals will open up into a less strained form of yelling, the title track drops some wickedly piercing feedback, and there are a handful of bleak clean passages that flirt with a hint more of a bluesy flavor. Shit, there's even a quick bit of slide guitar in a couple tracks, and any band that breaks out the slide definitely means business! I never feel like I can really make my point with words these days, but hopefully the music will make the point for me…

Starve "Einzelgänger"

My head is full, but my heart is empty. People drive me insane, while I drive myself crazy. I hate everything, and I hate everyone. I long for dreamless sleep. We all die alone. We've heard it from the existentialists. I'll die alone. Just like everyone. But I can never really shake off the loneliness of life…

As with their demo, the band has been kind enough to make the entire album available for free download via their Bandcamp page:

[DOWNLOAD] Starve "Wasteland" (@ Bandcamp)

Of course, if you like what you hear, you should pick up a copy on vinyl, grab a t-shirt, something. Several vinyl variations are available, limited to 500 copies total: 300 on black, 100 on white, and 100 on rusty brown in an alternate sleeve. These guys really have their overall aesthetic on the mark, so pick up an LP while you still can!

Purchase:

@ Starve
@ Badger Records

Length of Time/Santa Karla split 7"

Posted on Thursday, September 23rd, 2010 @ 9:10am » permalink

Length of Time/Santa Karla - splitI was incredibly psyched to learn of this split 7" from Thirty Days of Night Records, because UK act Santa Karla impressed me with their last EP, and despite being a longtime fan, I had no idea whatsoever that Belgium's Length of Time was still active!? Talk about good news! Length of Time kicks things off with two completely furious new tracks that are jam packed with loads of tremolo picking, Slayer-esque leads, and their immediately recognizable combination of screaming and unique singing. This is quite possibly their most explosive and immediately in your face material since "Approach to the New World" – though, as always, they still toss in a few twists and turns via darker, more discordant midpaced breaks, atmospheric samples, etc. Awesome. Santa Karla then cranks out two new tracks of their own, fusing more straightforward hardcore chord progressions and awesome, pounding basslines with harsher, noisier textures and just a touch of melody. The raging vocal screams really amp up the intensity of their approach, and they once more leave me curious to hear more. Here are a couple of quick excerpts to give you a taste of what this split has in store:

Length of Time "War Martyrised World" (excerpt)
Santa Karla "Plague Host" (excerpt)

I believe the vinyl is limited to a mere 500 copies, 100 on black (only available in a bundle), 200 on yellow, and 200 on brown, and every purchase comes with a download code. I think many of the label's releases are on iTunes, so this one might pop up there sometime soon as well. Don't sleep on it if you want a copy, though, as I'm sure they'll be gone sooner than later!

Purchase:

@ Thirty Days of Night Records (brown vinyl)
@ Thirty Days of Night Records (yellow vinyl)
@ Thirty Days of Night Records (black/brown/yellow vinyl)

Ape! "The Dirger" CD

Posted on Monday, September 20th, 2010 @ 6:32am » permalink

Ape! - The Dirger"The Dirger" is the self-released debut full-length from Philadelphia/Newark/Delaware trio Ape!, released sometime last year (And I apologize to the band for taking three months to get around to writing about it!). Their list of influences includes Nirvana, The Stooges, The Melvins, Neurosis, The Jesus Lizard, Black Sabbath, and Kyuss, and that actually makes quite a bit of sense. The concise nine tracks in 35 minutes are more rocked out and energetic than the heavier side of the band's influences, but there's a really heavy, sludgy edge to the material that's more aggressive than the lighter side. So expect tons of thick, gritty riffing; noisy, fuzzed-out leads; distant vocals mixed back behind the instruments; hectic drum fills; some slower, darker runs that bring out a hint more dissonance or even some borderline "doom-y" atmospheres; etc. (Also worth pointing out is that on some level, "Weekends in the Abyss" is pretty much one of the most brilliant song titles ever.) The recording is completely awesome, too. With the vocals being placed so far back in the mix you're really able to pick up on a lot of the textures in the guitar tone, and since they're a trio the rhythm section is left with plenty of breathing room. There's a raw, natural feel to everything that fits perfectly with what these guys are doing. Good stuff.

Ape! "Dead on the Vine"

As always, make the grab if you like what you hear. It's actually cheaper to pick this up on CD straight from the band (with hand-screened artwork, no less) than it is to snag it from iTunes, so… why not!?

Purchase:

@ Ape! (CD)
@ iTunes (mp3)

Deafheaven "2010 demo"

Posted on Thursday, September 2nd, 2010 @ 6:24am » permalink

Deafheaven - 2010 demoDeafheaven recently sent me an email that basically said, "New experimental band out of San Francisco, CA.", and included a link to their Bandcamp page. I had absolutely no idea what to expect, but within a minute I had been thoroughly blown away and had already purchased their debut four-song demo. I can't remember the last time that happened, but they're just that good. I wouldn't refer to them as an "experimental band", though. I'd call 'em a black metal band. Perhaps that cheapens what they're doing a bit, since it's not just stripped down, raw, "kvlt" black metal or whatever, but… hey, it is black metal. Blasting percussion; high-quality tremolo picking riffs; distant, sneering vocals… it's all here. And that's all great, but it is the little boundary-pushing bits and pieces that they offer that really pushes things over the edge – from the beautiful acoustic passages to the epic, surging melodies, and even some "post-rock" textures, too.

Now, I hate, hate, hate the term "post-rock", and I generally hate the fact that so many bands have been taking those influences and integrating them into more aggressive musical styles in recent years. But, every once in awhile a band flirts with characteristics that have that "post-rock" sort of quality in a really tasteful manner that makes sense and fits, and that's definitely the case here. There are no obnoxiously shimmery effects, they don't do the completely overdone loud/quiet/loud/quiet crap, etc. But there's something to the melodic resonance/sustain of some of the tremolo picking here that's coming from that sort of angle. And there are other outside influences creeping in as well. For example, one or two slower, sludgier passages where you really get a feel for some of the texture of the distortion; and even sparse moments where the riffs kind of seem like they'd be well-suited for a really good, powerful emo band (I know that sounds crazy, but I swear they're there, and I swear it's not a bad thing).

I'm probably scaring people away with some of these claims, but please don't let that happen. Amidst all of this, they really retain a sense of aggressive feeling. It is black metal, when all is said and done. And it's fucking awesome.

Deafheaven "Libertine Dissolves"

You can name your price for the entire demo at Bandcamp, so… be sure to help 'em out if you like what you hear. Just 'cause you can get it for a dime doesn't mean you shouldn't offer up a couple bucks, you know?

Purchase:

@ Bandcamp