Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Open Tomb - Servants Of Slow tape

I don't know what's going on in New Zealand right now, whether they're all just fucking sick of Hobbits, gap year students, or whatever it is, but between Hamilton's Open Tomb and Wellington's Meth Drinker, the far side of the planet is churning out misanthropic doom with alarming regularity. Keep it comin', Kiwis!

Open Tomb have been given the discography treatment by the excellent Dry Cough Records, who are currently 3-for-3 after a similar release for Massachusetts' Plague Survivors and finally committing Ireland's On Pain Of Death to tape. The label is already building the kind of pedigree that will guarantee I'll pick up whatever they put out, so when Servants Of Slow was put up for pre-order, I forked over that week's food budget to hear it.
Oh, it wasn't expensive, I'm just poor.

Opening this little black plastic tomb is the hefty 'Despair', 15 minutes of dirge-like drudgery that will instantly begin the process of weeding out. Like a 45 played at 33... actually, more like 3.3, the notes stretch out endlessly, producing a warped distortion that'll make you wonder whether your tape is about to snap. The agonisingly downtempo doom may even make you wish for it. Not me, I can't get e-fucking-nough of this type of aural punishment.
The track marches on interminably, at one point the guitar exhibiting a Dave Chandler-esque woozy tremolo.
Actually there's your headline: "Open Tomb sound like the post-nuclear apocalypse zombified corpses of Saint Vitus".

When they eventually get around to second track 'Life Fucker', a somewhat minimalist composition even by doom standards, the narcotic narcoleptic nod of the rhythm varying ever so slightly as the track progresses, until about two-thirds of the way through when an "UGH!" urges the pace to pick up to a puke-inducing sway, as the vocals vomit out the track's title repeatedly. Beautiful.

'Monday Leviathan' is just as miserable as it's title, the insurmountable task of getting through yet another week of underwhelming existence soundtracked perfectly by colossal kickdrum and barely-there riffs. The lethargy of the guitar and bass seems to increase with every repetition of the riff until about halfway through when they summon up the energy to fire out a few more of those patented Chandler trembling tremolos.
When the track comes together into something resembling a structured song, you'll just about piss yourself with surprise. These guys probably think 'Dopesmoker' is too energetic.

After sitting in a sludge-addled stupor after Side A hisses its last, I flip it over only to be confronted with more of the same slowly eroding distortion and 10 bpm drums on 'Damned To Forgive'. Oh great, I'm glad I wasn't planning on feeling anything above abject misery today.

The next couple of tracks are from their split with Meth Drinker, which I have as yet failed to get around to hearing, which is just laziness on my part. Though not as lazy as the hazy fog of feedback that opens 'Off With His Head', before exploring the lower depths of ear-splitting sounds and atonal warblings.
The other track from the split, 'Hostile Womb', is just as great as its title suggests, all interminable fuzz and massive, splashy cymbals. The raw-throated vocal exchanges on this track are barely fucking human. Play this next time you want to convince your neighbours you're holding ten simultaneous exorcisms in your living room.

After the sonic depravity heard on those two tracks, I'm gonna get right on hearing Meth Drinker's side of that slab of filth just as soon as final track 'Blood And Flies' is over. By this point I'm running out of interesting ways to say "sloooooooooow" so just fucking listen for yourself, and don't blame me when you're driven to insanity by the tectonic tempos like the poor woman heard sobbing throughout this track.

Quite a lot of that sounded quite negative, eh? WELL THAT WAS THE FUCKING POINT.
What, you want sludge to soundtrack feelings of joy, kittens and candy floss? Then you're doing it wrong. Sludge is for the deepest depths of despair, for sheer loathing, for walking down the street barely restraining yourself from shoving someone under a bus; it should be fucking hard to listen to.

If you need a soundtrack to these feelings, then go pick up a copy of this tape from Dry Cough:

Then go pester Open Tomb about flying very very far to permanently ruin your hearing in a shitty basement venue somewhere that's not NZ.

Old Skin - MÆRE

Manchester is churning out some fucking great bands at the moment, between the dark hardcore of Esoteric Youth, the putrid grind of Swinelord, the chaotic noise of Pine Barrens, the blistering blackened racket of Under The Horns and Cold Fell, and the caustic hardcore of Old Skin, I can't wait 'til my next opportunity to get down there again and check out some shows. Andrew at Dry Cough sent me a sampler of Old Skin material, and I was totally blown away by it.

Although this sampler only contains 3 minutes of music, its so packed with ideas, devastatingly delivered, its enough to have you spinning it ten times in a row. Old Skin recall a lot of the current crop of grind-inflected hardcore thats been making waves from across the pond for the past few years, and if you've been digging the filthy fury of Trap Them and the endless bands borrowing liberally from that template, you'll fucking love this.

Eschewing the done-to-death 'HM-2 + D-beat' formula and delivering pure, refined abrasive anger at whiplash-inducing tempo, Old Skin breath life into a sound you may have heard before, but played with a level of conviction that's refreshing.

As soon as they have more material recorded, I'll be first in line to have my ears assaulted.

There's not much info going about the band in terms of online presence, so I guess you'll just have to pay extra close attention to Manchester's currently excellent hardcore scene, and go see these guys (and all the other aforementioned bands) live the next chance you get.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Full Of Hell - Rudiments Of Mutilation

That Full Of Hell dabble in noise recordings on the side isn't exactly a secret, but the fact that they open their new album Rudiments Of Mutilation with such a challenging opening track as 'Dichotomy' serves to show just how seamlessly they are able to weave their penchant for abrasive noise into their just as confrontational hardcore.
The piercing feedback that screeches out of the speakers is a sharper, more painful proposition than the sub-sludge of many of the current crop of hardcore bands thieving from the monuments of His Hero Is Gone, and it serves to set Full Of Hell apart from the rest. The raw fury heard in Dylan Walker's wretched vocals is not forced or faked, it's the sound of true intensity.

This album is not something you listen to so much as suffer through, and I suspect that was the intention behind it. Throughout the course of Rudiments of Mutilation the many stylistic, atmospheric and momentum shifts will confront and eradicate your expectations, as well as serve to confirm that there is no band out there creating an erratic racket quite like Full Of Hell.

Stream this album over at the A389 Recordings bandcamp, buy it if ya dig it, and go see them live the first chance you get. Total acid-spitting fury. Numb Your Mind.

Read my full review at The Sleeping Shaman...

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Coltsblood - Beyond The Lake Of Madness demo tape

I was lucky enough to catch Liverpool's Coltsblood live a few weeks ago, and was utterly blown away by their crushingly miserable strain of doom. Their demo was available for just three pieces of gold, so in lieu of continuing my alcohol intake, I decided to reward them for intoxicating my mind with maddening heaviness instead. Worth every filthy penny.

The lo-fi hiss that permeates the cyclical, hypnotic riff that opens 'Abyss Of Aching Insanity' gives you a good idea of what Coltsblood do; creeping, crawling doom with all the malevolence of black metal. Lovely.

When the vocals kick in... wait, 'kick in' sounds a little too energetic for how the vocals arrive... okay, I've got it: when the vocals are wrenched, howling and clawing from their prison within the cassette, the guttural, anguished quality of the voice, combined with the clatter of drums and distortion make it sound like powerviolence played at a hundredth of the intended speed.
The intensity of the delivery is something I can attest to, having witnessed the raw rumbling fury that bassist/vocalist John manages to strangle out of both his throat and the neck of his bass.

The loose structure of the track allows for plenty of space; for squalls of feedback from guitarist Jem to stab out at you from the speakers inbetween the torture she inflicts on her strings, for the cacophonous battery of the rhythm to sound like drummer Steve should be convicted of cruelty towards his kit. It also allows for a bit of elasticity, so when the wail of the guitar solo escapes the tape around the halfway mark, it feels interminable, like they could go on abusing your ears with this black noise forever, were it not for the time constraints of physical media.
The endless excruciation reflects the title of the track, truly feeling like an endless abyss of audio terror designed to destroy your mind. So really fucking good, basically.

The flipside of this little black horror is a catchy little ditty entitled 'Beneath Black Skies', which announces itself with a crash. At first it seems like just more of the same, but it coalesces into an almost catchy track.
Well, relatively catchy.

Another of Jem's expansive, skulldrilling guitar tangents threatens to further warp the mind, but thankfully the full band lock into an actual rhythm again, and about a minute later there's a section I remember hazily headbanging to at the gig.
As I recall, it's a misleading couple of bars, because soon they're back to stretching out the time between notes with more feedback. I'd like them to stick to it when they lock into these great rhythms, by abandoning traditional song structures it tends to feel a little unfocused, too 'jammy', to really hold my attention.

I hate typing stuff that sounds negative, but sometimes I just yearn for a band to realise when they're on to a good thing, and just fuckin' riff on it, y'know? But the rest of the track passes by sans-riff, so I guess I'll hold out hope for their next recording.

Coltsblood are one of the finest new bands I've had the pleasure of seeing play, and hearing in their formative stage. I'm really excited to see where they'll take their disgusting concoction of tar-black sludge, and you should be too. Ignore this band at your peril.

The tapes are sold out now so sucks for you if you didn't get one. Don't cry, you can still listen to the demo over at the Coltsblood bandcamp and pick up one of their awesome t-shirts while you're there.

Also, just announced at the time of writing is that Ulthar Records will be releasing a remastered version of this demo on vinyl. So get that, and go watch them play mountain-crumblingly heavy riffs live next chance you get!