So I recently came into a fair bit of spare money, and I seem physically unable to restrain myself from spend every last spare penny on records. So with a fair wad of cash sitting there in my Paypal account, beckoning me to make some international distro dudes that little bit richer, I set off on a mission to check out some new music. First stop was the excellent Feast Of Tentacles distro, run out of... well, somewhere in the UK anyway. The guy was very patient with me as I kept revising my order, upping quantities of some records, so yeah, all the respect in the world to that guy for putting up with me.
I eventually settled on a selection of 7"s, a few by bands I was eager to finally check out, a few by bands who I just liked the descriptions of, and a couple of records for someone else that I'm gonna review anyways.
First up was my highly-anticipated first ever spin of anything by Ravens Creed.
Incase you don't know, Ravens Creed originally featured big Ben Ward from UK doom legends Orange Goblin on vocals, as well as Steve Watson on guitar, who used to play in one of my all-time favourite band of filth merchants, Iron Monkey.
So with that kind of pedigree, hopes were high. I knew this band was formed as an outlet for some serious proto-black metal worship, but I really didn't know how well it would work with players coming from a sludge/doom background.
This opens up with a bizarre, creepy, almost robotic-sounding sample, fuck knows what it's from, but it kinda jars me on first hearing it. The black metallic riffage is SO obvious, and it's backed up with the simplest battering of a drumkit that I've ever heard. Yet this record is pretty well produced, it has a good warm tone, it never makes an attempt to be all cool and lo-fi, which I like (sorry Fenriz, sometimes a guy just needs some production value!).
There are some ridiculous double-kick drums, which actually cause a burst of laughter. I fucking hate that shit, with the exception of the break in Angel of Death.
After those are over, they switch up into a much more chugging riff, less black metal, more primitive caveman battering. There are no vocals the entire time, and I'm beginning to think they'll never kick in. I want to hear Ward's ROAR already!
I'm right, this track is without vocals the whole way through, I go into Side B a little crestfallen...
But it doesn't disappoint! Opening up with this dry, decaying, hoarse rasp of a riff backed by yet more fastasfuck hellbeat, it can't be more than 10 seconds before Big Ben announces his prescence. He rips into a snarled, throat-shredding verse, making the band sound like Venom fronted by an even more irate Lemmy. This, obviously, rules.
I wish they hadn't parted ways with Ben Ward, because he's one of the best frontmen I've seen play, and I wish I'd had the chance to have seen this band play with him, hearing him command a whole other type of crowd.
Next is more Ravens Creed, this time their split with Sollubi, who I know nothing about. Guess I'll find out, huh?
But before that, I have a craving for more hellbeat. The Creed side of this split doesn't disappoint, at least initially. Then there's another of those ridiculous doublekick segments that pisses me off. But after that it's into a tech-y (by their standards) riff and some more growls, which restores my faith.
A hilariously Northern sample seperates the tracks, then it's straight into another ripper, 'Hearse Fokker'. Not much new to say except more tremolo riffing, more snare abuse, more gargled-glass vocals. Good stuff!
The Sollubi side is up next, and I have no expectations whatsoever.
Their single track opens with a dirty-ass sludge riff, like something left on Dixie Dave's cutting room floor. Goddamn, this bass tone alone has made me an instant fan! The vocals kick in eventually, and I'm not sure WHAT to think. They're all over the place. This guy seems to be singing over a different track than the rest of the band are playing. The vocals suck.
Uh oh, here are some guitar histrionics to make things even worse. Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of a well-played, short, concise solo, but none of this wah-soaked show-off-y bullshit, played over the WHOLE track. I spend my whole weekdays with the local classic rock station blasting out of the factory, if I hear another wailing guitar solo I'm going to fucking kill myself.
It ends, eventually, and I know that from now on I'll only play the first minute of this track. Sorry Sollubi.
Next play is the Night Owls 7".
This was one of the records I bought because of the sole reason I liked their name. I'm something of an owl fanatic.
I initially started this on 45rpm, and it plasted out this spazzy, hyperactive punk, with a high-pitched squealing vocal. I checked the liner notes to make sure none of the members were a sugar-injected 10 year old girl, then decided it was probably best played at 33...
Switching to the correct speed changed things dramatically. Night Owls play that average garage rock revival stuff that would have made them HUGE around 2001. I don't know how recent a band they are, or anything about them really. They remind of bands like The Catheters, nothing new, but played with honest intention because thats what they want to hear. Can't fault 'em for that I guess, it's just not really my bag.
Oak & Bone / Like Wolves split 7"
I bought this one because I dug the name Oak & Bone, it sounded earthy and natural, yet I had absolutely no idea what sort of music they made. I'll go for their side first.
First track 'Dirt' sounds to my ears like that hardcore-with-decent-riffs stuff popularised by bands like Every Time I Die. Not that that's a bad thing especially, I don't mind a good, catchy 'core song once in a while, it's just that it's been done to death.
But somehow these guys pull it off, it sounds... fresh. They write some catchy riffs, and the songs have a good, not-too-clean production that shows these guys can really fucking play. I don't know where they're from, but I'd definitely have a blast at one of their gigs.
Like Wolves' side starts out with a jangling, clanky sounding loose-stringed riff, and I'm hopeful they play some sort of bizarre Jesus Lizard-y noise mess. Hopes are immediately dashed by the vocals. They have that usual high-range teenage yelp quality to them, which in 10 years time might mature into some genuinely foul crusty rasp. Their vocalist can look me up in 2021 with his new band, until then, I have to shut this off. Their second track on this directly rips off a Bronx riff too. Badly.
Generic modern hardcore at it's worst. Shouty bollocks, as my non-heavy music friends would call it.
Doldrums' 'Nowhere Existence EP' is next.
I'd never heard of this band before, but the F.O.T. site described them as down-tuned crusty sludge, which sounds right up my alley! The 'Dog Side' of the 7" starts off with some nice heavy powerviolence, plenty of sub-atomic bass riffs and blast beats. Going into the second track, there's a weird jagged staccato riff to start us off, then it descends into alternatively shouting and growling dual vocals. It reminds me, of all things, of Raging Speedhorn. And that's not a slate on them, I absolutely love Speedhorn. The music is entirely different though. It goes from slow plodding sections, to painfully thrashy blasted sections, to near-melodic tremolo riffs. Pretty well-played powerviolence-y crusty goodness.
PYS (Pick Your Side) - Survival Prayer
This band features Jeff Beckman (Haymaker/ex-Left For Dead) on vocals, and unholy fucking christ are they weird. The liner notes use the phrase 'Lo-Fi Pseudo Thrash' but it's SO lo-fi I can barely tell what the fuck the actual music sounds like. The vocals dominate the mix. It sounds like a trained bear with a sore throat attempting to talk to aliens. I try in vain to read along with his lyric sheet, which features the usual anarcho-rants, but the two are impossible to connect.
What else can I say... oh, there's also a Crucifucks cover. Not that you'd be able to tell unless you read it in the liner.
"There comes a point where you have delved so deeply into punk subcultures you are just listening to shitty music." - I read this somewhere recently.
Last, but most definitely not least is this little beaut: the Moloch/Rot In Hell split 7"
I don't give a fuck about Holy Terror hardcore, that stuff is so ridiculous I can't believe anyone takes it seriously. So I won't even be listening to Rot In Hell's side. Fuck you, fight me about it.
The reason I wanted this split was obviously to hear more from the almighty Moloch. I'd heard their 'Tears That Soak A Callous Heart' cassette that they released in conjection with Thou, and they play some of the foulest sludge I've ever heard out of a UK band. They played near me recently and for SOME FUCKING INSANE REASON I MISSED IT! Dear Moloch, please get in a van and haul yourselves back to the Great Grey North. Cheers.
Anyway, their contribution 'Sibillia' is another vast slab of oppressive, revolting cacophony. It's pretty thinly produced, but I can look past that because the song is still there beneath the murk. I can't really describe it in too much detail. It's slow-as-fuck and horrible sludge, and if that sounds good to you, go make the awesome Feast Of Tentacles guy(s) a little richer and pick it up!