Oslo, Norway's Damokles recently issued a video for the title track from their new album, Swing, Pendulum, Swing—out later this year, once more through Vinter Records. This time out the group delves into a generally darker, heavier form of post-punk/hardcore that deceives for its first 72 seconds with a vibe akin to classic U2, before shifting toward surging metallic jabs with subtly chaotic undercurrents that never detract from the composition's relatively direct and memorable nervous system. These dueling atmospheres then trade back-and-forth for the remainder of the piece. An encouraging introduction to full-length #2, for sure!
The video's all we have to go on so far, and the single should hit streaming services in a few days, too. Follow both the band and the label for additional information leading up to Swing, Pendulum, Swing's street date of October 6...
The Slog of Days is the seven-song, 40-minute debut from Fallow Gold, a self-described "existential emo sludge" solo project from Madison, WI. My first impression was that it reminds me of Jesu meets Kowloon Walled City; so indeed it is sludgy, emotional metal with dashes of shimmering post-rock atmospherics—the latter being an influence that I can tend to be finicky about, but in this context things fall into place quite nicely. If I were to offer one crumb of constructive criticism, it would be that the mix could potentially use a little work. I'm torn, though, because on one hand the approach being somewhat stripped down allows a degree of rugged texture and clarity to shine; and it doesn't necessarily feel thin, it's just that the core seems to lack a certain punch of density. The songwriting itself is pretty damn strong, so if there's a way to beef things up without degrading the spaciousness, it could really hit the mark. There's a lot of potential here either way, however, so... a promising start!
I've been semi-distantly following L.A.'s Heavenward for a while now, knowing that there was something there worth holding on the radar, it's just that I struggle to keep up with bands that often release scattered singles and succinct EPs over the course of a few years. I have to say, though, debut full-length Pyrophonics has given me "Oh, shit, this might be on the best-of-the-year list!" vibes right off the bat with its "grungegaze" type of approach that explores a wider range of influences and aims to keep things energetic and memorable without lacking atmosphere. There are sooo many shoegaze-inspired bands out there right now and most of them are painfully boring, so when something like this comes along that has some heft to the riffing and oomph to the tempos, it really jumps out in a major way. And, shit, these tunes go full-blown alt.-rock at times—there are a few big, wide-open chord progressions torn straight from the classic Oasis handbook (just keep in mind that when fused into this augmented context they do tend to shapeshift a bit, so I'm not saying, "Oh, this sounds like Oasis, you'll love it!"). "Gasoline" is an absolute fucking masterpiece. "Tangerine" rules, too (amongst others).
I slept on buying an LP, because—if I'm being honest—I kinda refuse to pay $30+ pre-shipping for any new release. Apparently this just means I'm old and grumpy, though, because both variants already sold out! For now, grab your digital through Bandcamp or stream on Spotify and such. I'm definitely hoping for a limited CD or cassette run at some point, so follow the band and label for possible news on future physical pressings.
Isolant's three-song, 27-minute Oblivion EP from way back in 2015 is now getting the vinyl treatment thanks to Social Napalm Records (the band is still active, however, having issued a new EP earlier this year). Those uninformed, expect punishing industrial darkness from Boston—think Christdriver meets early Pitchshifter. Crusty, doom-infused metal with stunningly guttural vocal shouts fused with plodding mechanical textures and rhythms, droning atmospherics, and experimental/death industrial ambience (notably in the final track, "Stasis," which is more of a noise-leaning soundscape). Excellent. I haven't heard the Drain EP yet, but clearly I need to explore that ASAP!
More killer "grungegaze," this time from Virginia duo Roseneath, whose debut EP was one of my favorites of 2022. Now they're back with a 10-song album that continues to combine soaring vocals and punchy, memorable hooks with a luster of post-rock atmospherics as well as slightly darker/heavier moments. Generally in line with the Shine EP, it's also clear that they're expanding their palette and working toward elevated use of layering and nuance. Closer, "Spill," even brings in a surprising level of post-punk aesthetic, its synth melodies becoming almost Depeche Mode-esque on occasion. There's much more to comb through with a broader-spectrum full-length, which requires more digestion time. Even still, initial listens further solidify the fact that these guys have one hell of an impressive knack for writing huge choruses!
Trepanation Recordings is once more handling limited CD-R and cassette, and I'm psyched that Roseneath has hooked up with Germany's Thirty Something Records for a pressing on red/black marbled vinyl (limited to 300). In the U.S., grab one from New Granada. I can only assume this means the group is working toward some wider appreciation, and it's well-deserved. Haters of the best forms of music are free to stream on Spotify, etc.
Will to Live
I remember writing about Houston, TX outfit Will to Live way back in 2005 or 2006, but despite diggin' that release, I have to confess that I basically lost track and haven't heard anything from the band since. Impressively, they're still at it, having recently issued a brand new EP, The Therapy Sessions, where they burst through eight songs in a mere 15 minutes. For the most part it's straightforward and to-the-point metallic hardcore that checks all the right boxes in terms of crunchy breakdowns and moderate speed with sneering vocals and aptly rugged production that lets the bass handle a lot of the beefiness. There are dashes of melody and some sludgy grit, too, though. Short but sweet, and without sounding like a carbon copy of hundreds of other bands, which is always a plus!
The Therapy Sessions is available from Another City Records as a 12" EP limited to 300 copies spread across three different colors of vinyl (black, gold, or white) with either screen-printed or laser-printed B-sides. For some reason it's not on Bandcamp (yet?), but there's always Spotify.