Random Roundup: August, 2023

Blackest Dawn

Amongst the numerous promising releases that the mighty Upstate Records has been cookin' up lately is the second single from Blackest Dawn, a NJHC outfit featuring former members of Shattered Realm and Years Spent Cold. As one might expect, the title track from the forthcoming Twisted Place EP (out at the end of September) churns out brutish metallic hardcore heavy on both gnashing groove and a thrash-leaning edge of metal. Excellent all around, and I'll be looking forward to hearing more soon. Honestly, this is one of the best tracks I've heard from the genre as of late in terms of landing right in my stylistic sweet spot. New Jersey, man...

Stream and pre-order CDs on Bandcamp. You can also check it out on Spotify or Apple Music. Don't blame me if you unexpectedly demolish a few walls in the process...

Fredag den 13:e

Despite the fact that Mänskliga Gränstillstånd appears to be their fifth (!?) album, I had somehow never heard of raging Swedish crust unit Fredag den 13:e (Friday the 13th) until a few weeks ago. This is especially surprising as they strike my ears as sounding not too dissimilar from peak Skitsystem with a dash of Tragedy, which is certainly a compliment! Hard-hitting and well-produced metallic crust punk with churning D-beat rhythms and enough dark melody to keep things interesting. As with many bands of this nature, they're not reinventing this corner of the genre, but are not a one-sided carbon copy either. Powerful and effective material that should very much appeal to fans of the aforementioned, and then some. Nicely done.

Grab Mänskliga Gränstillstånd digitally through the band; or stream on Spotify, Apple Music, etc. Physical copies are split between Phobia Records (Czech Republic), De:Nihil Records (Sweden), Halvfabrikat Records (Sweden), Deviance Records (France), and EveryDayHate (Poland). At least two colors of vinyl are available, and maybe CD or cassette at some point, too? I'm not entirely sure, as it looks like not all of the labels have the album up for sale just yet...


Close Encounters is the new album from Boston riffmasters Kind, who I first wrote about a few years ago after discovering them via the Mental Nudge CD. The group's more-than-experienced lineup has ties to Antler, Deslok, Elder, Milligram, Roadsaw, Rozamov, Sasquatch, Slapshot, and more; so you're damn right this is top-shelf "stoner rock" (for lack of a better term) loaded with oomph-packed riffs and excellent singing. If you dig the almighty Goatsnake and such, you need to hop aboard pronto—though I will point out that Kind tends to cover more ground than average in terms of sensible variety within the general tone of this style. Killer.

Secure a copy of Close Encounters on CD or LP through Ripple Music or the band. Stream on Spotify, Apple Music, or what have you.


Leecheater is the debut full-length and my first exposure to the duo Sisters, who I randomly discovered just prior to last week's street date while digging into assorted projects that feature the perennially underrated talents of Jason Blackmore (Molly McGuire, Gunfighter, etc.). Not too shabby, then, that the other half of the band is Mario Quintero from Spotlights!? The end result is sort of what you'd expect in terms of a densely heavy yet atmospheric and melodic form of alternative rock that could arguably border on the grungy/metallic side, complete with ultra fuzzed-out distortion and some lightly spacey textures. At times the writing tends to favor slower, darker fare, but not without a sense of momentum, and there are indeed respectably memorable hooks aplenty. Seems to me that this platter should be garnering quite a bit more attention...

Leecheater is limited to just 300 copies on violet/black striped vinyl through Spartan Records or Bandcamp. Stream via Spotify or Apple Music or whatever.

Slap of Reality

It seems that underrated Tampa, FL greats Slap of Reality have just dropped their first full-length since 1996!? Granted, a handful of these tunes had trickled out as singles over the past five years or so, but I believe they've all been re-recorded for the 12-song album. While the band's name might inadvertently conjure images of some form of tough-ish hardcore, in fact their delivery is a very Samiam-ish form of emotional alternative punk rock. They haven't lost a single step, either. Solid songwriting, catchy tunes... damn, this band deserves more acclaim. I mean, in my opinion, it's a straight-up fact that Goodbye, Me is better than the new Samiam album. And I'm not trying to beat that comparison to death, but I do feel like it's an accurate adjacency and that such listeners should totally carry over. Whatever it takes to get people to spend a few minutes taking a chance on the underappreciated, you know?

For the most part, it looks like Goodbye, Me is digital-only (Bandcamp, Spotify, Apple Music, etc.); however, it was issued on limited edition CD through Waterslide Records in Japan (I ought to move to Japan just for the damn CDs). Thankfully, the band offered up a few copies the other day, too!

Temple of Angels

I somehow completely missed that Temple of Angels had signed to Run for Cover and released their debut full-length last month. Had it really been four years since their last output!? Whatever the case, Endless Pursuit continues to build upon the foundation laid by their fantastic EPs prior: super lush and dark post-punk/dream pop/whatever you want to call it with dual vocals (typically traded off by song rather than alternating within a single composition, aside from minor harmonies or backups), droning bass, and shimmery/jangly guitar perfection. This 40-minute outing took a few spins for standout tracks to start catching my ear, but by my third listen, its subdued impact really started to land. Excellent, as always.

Run for Cover is one of a number of labels that perplexes me as a diehard CD buyer with when they do or don't press something onto disc, and Endless Pursuit, it seems, is vinyl-only. 400 gray, black, and maroon swirl; 1,000 cloudy clear—through the label or Bandcamp (which I always opt for to guarantee myself a download). Those who dare to stream, head to Spotify or Apple Music.