I got an email about Black Bra's self-titled debut LP a few months back, and though I can't recall what it was that piqued my interest—I'm not familiar with guitarist/vocalist Beth Cameron's prior work with Forget Cassettes, etc.—I checked out the song that was streaming at the time and ended up pre-ordering the record right away. Expect dark and spacious "indie rock" (which feels far too broad/vague a description for this) with intense lyrics and lots of dynamic contrasts—from sparse and hushed to a jangly middleground to dense and explosive. Coincidentally, I had been rediscovering P.J. Harvey's first few albums toward the end of last year, and there are aspects of this material that brought some of that to mind. I also pick up on a few of the same atmospheric qualities that I love so much about Emma Ruth Rundle's work. Those are both loose comparisons, however—a similar field, but Black Bra's operating in their own unique vicinity. Very nice.
I tried to set up an interview or something more substantial to hype German outfit Entropy, but as is often the case these days, it didn't happen for some unknown reason. Whatever the case, Liminal—the band's debut full-length—is a freakin' excellent album. Grungy, post-hardcore-tinged alt. rock with a dash of shimmery textures and sort of a relaxed-yet-catchy style of singing—kinda like Failure meets Sugar or something. Forceful recording, too—hefty bass presence, snappy snare, thick and driving guitars... This one's on track to be one of my favorite releases of the year. Entropy really came out of nowhere and took me by surprise. Awesome, awesome stuff.
My personal favorite from the latest batch of ever-superb Divebomb Records output is this long-overdue complete discography CD from unsung Tampa, FL should-be legends Epitaph. This inexplicably lesser-known group featured future Cynic member Tony Teegarden on guitar and vocals and recorded a mere five songs across two demos—both at Morrisound—in 1991 and 1992. All that the Florida death metal hotbed had to offer at the time is well on display here: brutality, technicality, melody, slickly prominent bass runs, progressive-tinged elements as well as slower, gloomier riffing... and intelligent lyrics! Had Epitaph received the opportunity to release a full-length, they almost certainly would've been heralded right alongside Cynic and Atheist. Seriously.
The disc contains the original demo sessions remastered, plus three beefed-up bonus tracks that were recently remixed, and everything sounds phenomenal. As always with Divebomb, the CD booklet is jam-packed with goodies, too—including an interview with the band that I conducted earlier this year. Hear two tracks on Bandcamp, then grab a physical copy direct from the label! No streaming!!!
Another Disaster is the latest EP from the mighty Reserving Dirtnaps out of Memphis, TN—their first for WAR Records—and further illustrates precisely why they're one of my absolute favorite hardcore bands at present. Tried and true beefy metallic hardcore with no frills that still manages to separate itself from the pack. Just the right amount of speed, crushing midpaced breaks, vehemently pissed attitude, etc. "The Floods" even leans into some more diverse and metal-centric moments that are quite promising. Badass artwork and their best recording yet, too, with a rugged warmth and clarity that lets the bass have a little more breathing room, while the overall impact is still hard as nails. I'm really hoping they'll crank out a full-length one of these days, though I must admit that every EP to date has been near-flawless, so...
Three vinyl variants are available through WAR Records—to my utter shock, the splatter vinyl (limited to 100) hasn't sold out yet—red vinyl or digital are up for grabs at Bandcamp, or head to Spotify for the streaming action.
I've been a huge, huge, huge fan of Shades Apart since 1995, so I was stunned to discover that Eternal Echo—the trio's first release since 2001's Sonic Boom—was on its way next week. Like the majority of the band's output, at its best the material is catchy enough to border on "pop-punk," but there's always been more grit and maturity to their efforts, you can't quite pin them into that particular niche. At the same time, they're not just some "alternative rock" band or whatever either. They just do what they do and do it well. As a whole, these tunes are very much in line with the second half of the band's initial run—probably most comparable to the Seeing Things era. Quite a return to form after nearly two decades!
I must confess that it breaks my old man heart that Eternal Echo isn't coming out on CD, but I'll buy anything Shades Apart puts forth! Pre-order the LP on an assortment of colors through HellMinded Records, RevHQ (yellow vinyl exclusive), or Bandcamp. (I'd imagine it'll hit Spotify next Friday as well!)
I had totally lost track of Rochester, NY's Sulaco somewhere along the way, and actually wasn't aware that they were still going strong. Thus, I was surprised to be informed earlier this week that the band just released a new five-song EP, The Privilege, a few days ago! Perhaps best known for featuring Erik Burke from Lethargy (and, ummm, Nuclear Assault and Brutal Truth), they've expanded to a five-piece lineup and remain adept in the ways of grinding, gnawing math metal loaded with churning rhythmic pulses and abrasively textured threshings. For some reason, moments herein are bringing to mind parallels to Lamb of God's earliest incarnation as Burn the Priest, if said material were a little faster and more teeteringly discordant!? Good stuff.
This one's digital-only for the foreseeable future, so hit up Bandcamp for the stream/download. I believe it'll land on Spotify and such in another week or so.