Wednesday, 30 October 2013

IRN - S/T tape

Self-proclaimed 'sewer doom' Toronto three-piece IRN have spewed forth one of the most disturbing and disjointed releases you're likely to hear this year. Taking their cue from their filthy forefathers in bands such as Grief, Dystopia and Corrupted, they meld these influences to create a bile-fuelled slab of uneasy listening that is unflinching in its aural assault.

The downright intimidating opener 'Adrift Between Burned Out Villages' is an almost 18 minute exercise in separating the wheat from the chaff; if you can survive this track, you can survive anything. Not content to stick to any traditional formula or structure, the track becomes a relentless trawl through every dark recess of heavy music, spanning everything from eerie atonal passages, chiming notes of post-rock prettiness, the clatter and clang of experimental noise, scrambled squeal of guitar torture and even the injection of some almost jazz-like percussive elements and rhythms, all the while maintaining a distinct undercurrent of menace.
Like I say, formulaic they are not.

If you fancy surrendering your mind to the twisted, decrepit sounds found within this album, pick up a tape from Breathe Plastic as soon as you dare.

Pendulous - Mirrored Confessions tape

California isn't the first place that comes to mind when you think of funeral doom. The crushing laments of the genre are more traditionally associated with the perpetually grey skies of the north of England, and freezing winters in southern Finland.

Los Angeles natives Pendulous' debut release Mirrored Confessions proves that people can be utterly miserable no matter how sunny their environment may be.

When the opening notes of 'Reflections' wind their way out of the tape, they are a mere harbinger of the calamitous cacophony created by the full band [...] When the track culminates in plaintive guitar and deep, rich piano, it has what a surprising number of bands of this ilk lack; it actually sounds truly mournful. This exceptional quality is what puts them firmly in the upper echelons of the genre, alongside their contemporaries in Loss and Bell Witch.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Hipoxia / Gangrened split tape

Despite having my ear to the ground for all things disgusting, horrifying, slow, fast and everything inbetween, occasionally a release will come along out of nowhere and completely blow me away. Okay, when I say nowhere, this one came from both Finland and Spain respectively.

A tape release between Finland's Gangrened and Madrid's Hipoxia, released through no fewer than nine, fucking nine, labels, it landed in my inbox through unknown channels. Out of curiosity as to the contents of this mysterious email I cued up the stream via bandcamp, and had my mind completely melted by what I heard.

Hipoxia's track 'Gangrened Reality' is 16 minutes of corruptive brutality, comprised of droning organs, gigantic cymbal crashes and howled vocals. It's interminably torturous, and anyone who enjoys ambient noise, drone doom, and total fucking misery will feel right at home within it's suffocating confines.

On the other side, Gangrened expel two tracks of black doom that will have fans of Cough, Tombstones and Electric Wizard putting down their bong long enough to pick up a copy of this tape.
Their track 'The One That Leads The Way' exemplifies this perfectly, as well as featuring vocals that at times have an almost Unsane-like abrasiveness. Fucking lovely.

If writing this blog is encouraging bands from all over the world to send me their latest filthy output, I'm more than happy about it if everything sent my way is as excellent as this tape! If you make the sort of racket that encourages people to ingest hallucinogens and leave the house with a clawhammer just to see what happens, please get in touch!

The Hipoxia/Gangrened split tape is available from the following EU labels:
Boue Records | Filthy Rat | Strange Records | Discos Macarras | Féretro Records | The Bloody Dirty Sanchéz | Twin Souls | Laserblast Records | Desfiladero Records

Gangrened on Facebook | Hipoxia on Facebook 

Bonesaw - The Illicit Revue

When I first heard of Aberdeen's Bonesaw while trawling the murky depths of the internet for heavy Scottish bands, I was instantly sold. Any band that self-deprecatingly describes themselves as 'Autopsy on a budget' is worth a listen in my book, and as soon as I checked out their splits with Abscess and Bone Gnawer I was hooked. Ugly, primitive death metal, played the way it should be, festering warts and all.

Now with the forthcoming release of their second LP The Illicit Revue, they're spreading their vile intent even further.

The brilliantly lowbrow artwork courtesy of Dennis Dread should give you an idea of what you're in for with this release: demented, horrifying, tasteless, it's everything you could want from these purveyors of filth, and from the opening bars of 'The Forging Of Year Zero' onward, it's exactly what you get.

With an album bursting at the seams with putrid horror, Bonesaw have cemented their reputation as Scotland's premier exponents of creeping, crawling old-school death metal, and if you'd still rather throw on some Mental Funeral, Slowly We Rot or In Battle There Is No Law, then The Illicit Revue will sit nicely among your collection.

Available from November through At War With False Noise in the UK/EU, and Unholy Anarchy in the US.

Read my full review of this filth over at Echoes & Dust...

Baroness / Royal Thunder - Cathouse, Glasgow

I've been a massive fan of Savannah's Royal Thunder's debut EP for a couple of years now, so I was almost looking forward to their set more than that of the headliner.

Photo by Juan Fernandez

Their sound in the live environment was just what I'd hoped for; warm, rich, and with plenty soul, heard in tracks like 'Mouth Of Fire' and 'Whispering World'. Mlny Parsonz' soulful wail is a force to be reckoned with, and when she really lets rip during the chorus of 'Sleeping Witch' you'd be hard-pressed to find another vocalist who can match her range or raw emotion.

Photo by Juan Fernandez

Enough has been written about the trials and tribulations that fellow Georgia residents Baroness have endured in the past, but the overwhelming display of sheer good will between the Glasgow crowd and the band had me near enough welling up. I don't think I've ever seen a band look so grateful just to be playing a show. It's testament to the spirit of the band that they chose to continue, and to pick up where they left off.

Photo by Juan Fernandez

Their set drew from all the colours of their catalogue, with fan favourites like 'A Horse Called Golgotha' and 'Swollen and Halo' from Blue dropped in among the new Yellow & Green tracks, as well as a completely storming 'Isak' from Red closing out the set.

When at some point frontman John Dyer Baizley says "It's good to be back", those simple words are imbued with more meaning than he perhaps even intended. This was more than just another gig, more than just another tour; this was the triumphant return of Baroness.

Read the full in-depth review over at Echoes & Dust...

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Exhaustion demo

It took me a while to believe the hype about now-departed hardcore unit Throats, but when I finally saw them live it all made sense. I came away from that show with bloodied knuckles and ripped clothes, thinking "But I don't even like them?".

I went home and listened to the self-titled 12" I'd apparently purchased in a concussive haze, and all their secrets were revealed. I became obsessed with them, just as they announced they were disbanding at the end of 2010. Yet another case of a UK band cut down in their prime, I wasn't the only one lamenting their loss.

When I heard that a couple of the members had a new band on the go, so much time had passed that it raised only the mildest curiosity. Since seemingly everyone who had a hardcore band 3 years ago is now playing substandard pretentious bollocks of some variety, from electro to doom, I assumed they would have lost their youthful intensity and have recorded something similarly 'mature'. How fucking wrong I was.

Exhaustion's demo is just as blistering as Throats ever were, if not more so. From the piercing feedback that announces opener 'Ennui', a searing series of blastbeats and bile that's over almost before you can register that it's begun, through the ultra-distorted grind of 'Strangeness In The Strangeness', it seems I've found another band to hang my hopelessness on.

'Inessential' is a total fucking mess, blending everything from blackened tremolo, d-beat, sickening retches instead of remotely human vocals, all within a minute. 'Conceit' is a death-tinged grind that sounds like the band beat the vocalist close to death before dumping him down a well to record his vocals. The guitar work in the closing seconds is utterly mind-scrambling; I'd imagine the tab for this track would probably look like it was written by aliens.

There isn't much in terms of variety on offer, with penultimate track 'Liminal' continuing their penchant for torturous noise in the vague semblance of grind, but who needs 'songs' when you have sheer fucking fury?

Closing track 'Perfection Misunderstands The Ends...' actually has a vaguely melodic intro, the woozy, bluesy twin guitar harmony setting up the devastating d-beat attack which soon follows nicely. The constituent elements of this track are given a bit more breathing space here, allowing you to actually keep up with what's going on, which will be handy in a live environment; you might actually leave the gig with your sanity intact.

This demo is a hugely promising sign that Exhaustion will fulfil the potential that Throats displayed all those years ago. I highly recommend you take eleven minutes out of your day and get really fucking angry about it.

I highly recommend purchasing an actual tape from Church Of Fuck.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Black Tusk / Fight Amp / Dune - Ivory Blacks, Glasgow

It's been a few weeks since I've had the funds to attend a gig, and there's been a bit of a drought of good shows of late, so when I heard Black Tusk were coming to town there was no fucking way I was gonna miss them.

It's been a couple of years since I last saw them play the same venue with Howl to a largely uninterested and static crowd, but having seen them inspire chaos in the jam-packed smallest room at Roadburn last year, and inspire my own drunken chaos when I saw them a few months later in Prague, I hoped that Glasgow's rowdy stoner contingent would give those shows a run for their money.

While it was a bit livelier than last time, the crowd still didn't seem to wake up until the last few songs of the night, apart from those old dicks that insist on push-moshing at every show you see them at. Gie it a rest guys, eh?

First on the bill were Edinburgh's Dune. Having previously seen them supporting no less than Eyehategod, I was looking forward to their complex but catchy progressive sludge. For such a recently formed band, they bang through their set with a confidence even many seasoned road dogs lack, guitarist Victor's fleet-fingered solos intertwining with the relentless rhythm laid down by the rest of the band.

With vocal duties split between everyone but drummer Dudley, set highlights like 'When Planets Die' and the tri-vocal attack of 'Red Giant' have a variety lacking in so much modern sludge, and in a live setting you don't know who to keep your eye on, but Dudley's unbridled enthusiasm for hitting things really hard is a lot of fun to watch.
With their forthcoming album Progenitor due out in a matter of weeks, Dune are ones to watch. Keep your eyes to the stars. Or just Edinburgh.

Unfortunately that gives fellow locals Aye-Aye a hard act to follow, and their set of languid stoner grooves fails to keep the momentum going. It's through no fault of their own, they're just up against some of the most energetic, adrenaline-fuelled bands going today. Though they did come "all the way from Madagascar" to play, complete with bringing along some eerily accurate jungle sounds and some extra bongo work courtesy of Q-Ball from Bacchus Baracus / Co-Exist / Every Other Bloody Band In Scotland, and I'm definitely looking forward to checking them out on a bill where they're not quite so conspicuous.
Someone put them on with Skeleton Gong and Isak and I'm there!

Philadelphia/New Jersey's Fight Amp ramp the energy level back up with a set of tightly-wound, noise-tinged hardcore, tracks like the frenetic 'Lungs' from their debut Hungry For Nothing and 'Bad Listener' from their second record, sitting alongside cuts from their latest album, Birth Control. Before seeing them play I wasn't too familiar with them, but their aggressive, abrasive twisting of various Karp-isms has got me trawling their discography. Lovely stuff.

I've already mentioned the frenzy-whipping capabilities of Savannah's Black Tusk, but it bears repeating; if you've never seen this band live, you're fucking up. As much as I like their recorded stuff, I never get the urge to just throw on some Taste The Sin at home, because I'd fear for my furniture if I got too into it. The live setting is where this band really proves their worth, tracks like 'Bring Me Darkness' and 'The Ride' demonstrating the band's sheer unabashed love of playing, as well as just how goddamn tight they are. Guitarist Andrew and bassist Jonathan throw their guitars (and themselves) around with reckless abandon, while drummer James cements his reputation as one of the hardest hitters I've ever seen play, and none of them ever miss a beat. Mental.

For my first foray back into gig-going that'll continue with fellow Savannah... Savannans... Savannah-ites...? Anyway, I'm seeing Baroness in a couple of weeks, so don't sleep Glasgow, get out to the gig, and make it worthwhile for touring bands to venture north of the border!

All photos by Steff Vogeler.

Bombs Of Hades - The Serpent's Redemption

When Bombs Of Hades first got together with the intention of getting wasted and blasting out some old-school Swedish death metal, who could have predicted that after a handful of EPs and split releases they'd release one of the gnarliest albums to follow that template of recent years? With their sophomore album The Serpent's Redemption, they've done just that.

The Serpent's Redemption is a raucous, raw slab of old-school death metal, for fans of Tormented, Death Breath and Dismember.

Released on CD via Pulverised Records last year, 2013 sees a reissue on vinyl via Blood Harvest Records, a far more appropriate format for such decrepit death metal. Pick up a copy here:
The Serpent's Redemption LP from Blood Harvest

The Serpent's Redemption streaming on Bandcamp

Friday, 4 October 2013

Uzala - Tales Of Blood & Fire

Tales Of Blood & Fire, the sophomore album by Boise/Portland doom-mongers Uzala is a very different beast from their self-titled debut.

As well as a change of line-up, with bassist Nick Phit departing to focus on the reunited Graves At Sea, and drummer Chuck Watkins leaving Graves At Sea to focus on Uzala, the band simply sounds far more confident having been road-tested on a couple of US tours.

Opening track 'Seven Veils' exhibits this growth immediately, the growing growl of distortion enveloping the listener, as clean guitar wavers and winds its way through the fuzz. When guitarist/vocalist Darcy Nutt's voice arrives, its with a new-found command, the strength of her hypnotic croon putting Uzala far ahead of the pack in the increasingly crowded 'female-fronted occult doom' genre. 

Final track 'Tenement Of The Lost' is a concise distillation of all the elements that make Tales Of Blood & Fire so compelling; haunting vocals over fuzzed-out riffs and hard-hitting percussion. What more could you ask for from one of the best doom albums released this year?

Tales Of Blood & Fire will be released as a deluxe vinyl package available through King of the Monsters 

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Uncoffined - Ritual Death and Funeral Rites

DOOM METAL OF DEATH! That's the definition Uncoffined have (anti)christened their particular deadly strain of doom, and on their debut LP 'Ritual Death and Funeral Rites' that's exactly what they deliver. The death-doom genre has experienced something of a revival recently, what with genre-defining bands like Autopsy and Asphyx back together and churning out new slabs of filth with terrifying regularity, and prolific underground acts like Coffins and Hooded Menace seeing their latest albums released on Relapse, it's great to see such a relatively obscure sub-genre thriving.

Uncoffined are just one of many bands spreading the repulsive gospel of death-doom, but the morbid tales heard on 'Ritual Death and Funeral Rites' mark them as being one of the best. Don't hesitate to pick up this album, and doom yourself to death!

Read my full review at The Sleeping Shaman...

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Jucifer - за волгой для нас земли нет

Jucifer are an entirely unique proposition, the only married couple who travel the world in an RV for the sole purpose of redefining what you think you know about volume. To see them live is a visceral experience, you feel the music as much as hear  it.

After they returned from spreading the gospel of Amp Worship on their first tour of Russia in 2011, the first-hand experience of the country inspired the recording of an album dedicated to the people, the place, and the story of Volgograd (more commonly known as Stalingrad).

'за волгой для нас земли нет', which translates to "Beyond the Volga there is no land", is another epic historical concept album from Gazelle Amber Valentine and Edgar Livengood, the likes of which no-one but these two veterans of volume could create.

From the staggering and shrieking minute-long blast 'Дом Павлова / Pavlov's House' through to the churning and chanting drone of 'Сибирь / Siberia', Jucifer demonstrate their chameleon-like ability to cast their metal into any and every mould to stunning effect. It's this diversity that enables them to tackle such weighty thematic subjects set to the sounds at the harshest end of the musical spectrum, and to hold the listener rapt.

I mean, on paper (or screen for that matter), how appealing does a concept album about Russian history set to a mix of everything from grindcore to drone sound? Exactly. But Jucifer's skill is that they take such unwieldy ingredients and turn them into one of the most interesting albums released this year.

Read my full review over at The Sleeping Shaman...