Posts Tagged ‘abrasive’

6th May 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

This latest four-tracker from Panic Lift continues the trajectory of themed EPs that it’s been pursuing for a while now.

With two new cuts and a remix of each, it’s reminiscent of the old-school 7” and 12” formats, and ‘Every Broken Piece’ accompanied by ‘Bitter Cold’ would make for a perfect 7”, with the additional tracks – remixes respectively from Mechanical Vein and Tragic Impulse – fleshing out a 12” and CD… Such reminiscences are relevant because Panic Lift’s harsh industrial dance sound is rooted in the 90s when multi-format releases were de rigueur. Much as they were clearly a way of milking fans and boosting chart positions, I do kind of miss those days, since the majority of releases don’t even come in a physical format.

For Stitched, James Francis, aka Panic Lift, revisits the kind of sound that defined his debut, Witness To Our Collapse, and talking of the physical, there’s a strong physicality to both ‘Every Broken Piece’ and ‘Bitter Cold’ – not just their thumping hard as nails grooves and pounding beats, but the overall density of the sound hits with a physical impact, while the forced, rasping vocals equally hit hard, the sound of anguish and rage and a host of mixed and conflicting emotions aflame.

‘Every Broken Piece’ was a feature of Panic Lift’s online performances during lockdown, and it’s from this place of inner turmoil that these songs emerge, with the accompanying notes pointing out that they ‘continue with the familiar themes of stress, coping, and concerns of self-image’, and the rippling synth lines, juxtaposed against snarling, abrasive vocals, are the perfect expression of internal conflict. There’s a lot going on here in the arrangements, with churning metal guitar grazing against cinematic synths, and the slower chorus on ‘Bitter Cold’ brings impact by contrast.

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Blighttown Records – 31 December 2021

Christopher Nosnobor

Australian metal act Hadal Maw emerge from lockdown with an EP that threatens ‘four tracks of uncompromising and confronting aural violence whilst also introducing new members Liam Weedall (Dyssidia) and Jarrod Sorbian (Départe)’, adding that ‘Musically the four track EP delves further in to the more visceral aspect of their sound and composition while maintaining the technical wizardry that the band established on previous releases’.

Metal comes in so many different shades, and while the more commercial end of metal is alright for banging heads to, it’s kinda tame, espousing nice production values. Hadal Maw, however, exist at the more raw and gritty end of the spectrum, and plough a dark furrow and plough it deep with some furiously gnarly abrasion.

They come blasting out of the traps with a magnificent amalgamation of discord and groove on the snarling blast that is ‘Fetishize Consumption’, and if firing nihilistic fury at the capitalist machine may be an obvious choice, it’s something that simply can’t be done too much, because excessive consumption isn’t simply the dominant culture, it’s the culture. And if you’re not against it, you’re part of the problem. Clearly, this is a simplistic reduction, which leaves little room for the fact it’s hard to escape the problem without going off-grid and living on roots and shoots. Living within the parameters of this contradiction – whereby digital technology and the use of social media is a necessary evil when it comes to disseminating any kind of message or output – isn’t easy, but channelling rage and(self)-loathing through catharsis can help, and Oblique Order demonstrates thar Hadal Maw are kings of catharsis.

The title track, which features ‘guest vocals from three of Australia’s most accomplished vocalists; Karina Utomo (High Tension), Luke Frizon (Growth) and Antony Oliver (Descent)’ gets darker, dirtier, with strangulated rasping vocals grate and grind over a low, slow, booming bass, which contrasts with the messy scribbly scratching guitar work. It’s turbulent and traumatic, in the most powerful, visceral way. It’s a low-end growl and chug that drives ‘Future Eaters’, a soundtrack to the darkest of all dystopias, and featuring a magnificently textured and detailed guitar break in the mid-section before everything comes crashing down hard.

The last track, ‘Vile Veneration’ could well be the soundtrack to this year’s honours list here in England. After a slower, quite intricate and evocative introduction, the drums power in and it’s a descent into the inferno from thereon in, with everything firing on all cylinders to truly punishing effect. It’s as heavy as hell and full of fury. The slowed-down, vaguely proggy midsection still packs weight as the band trudge, lumberingly through the final assault.

Oblique Order is a triumph not only because it’s relentlessly heavy, but because it’s clearly crafted and is remarkably varied in terms of tempo and tone. The band pack a lot into its duration, making for an EP that’s massively dense and hits like an asteroid on collision course.

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More cowbell!

Equal parts primitive brutality and mind-bending psychedelia, Kurokuma will bring a fresh dose of exotic heaviness to the extreme music scene in 2022 with their debut album Born of Obsidian, set for release on 4th February.

Recorded in London with Sanford Parker (YOB, Eyehategod, Indian) at Narcissus Studio, the Sheffield-based psychedelic sludge trio have been sharpening their mantra-like songwriting since forming in late 2013, finally culminating in a debut album that melds their expansive ideas and abrasive influences together perfectly. The band comment,

"After years of silent gestation, our first full length will finally emerge into the blinding light of corporeal existence. The five songs that make up this album stand both unified and distinct, creating an edifice that transcends the moment and speaks to the raw nature of the universe. So turn your back on the madness; seek this column of unseen truth and elevate yourself from the primordial chaos in which you dwell."

Always ones to avoid the traditional tropes of the doom and sludge metal scene, Kurokuma have often embraced different elements into their ‘heavy’ sound. This includes the worlds of Latin rhythm, kraut-rock and electronica, most recently evident in 2019 when they became the first artist to put out a metal release on legendary underground electronic music label, Off Me Nut with an EP titled, ‘‘Sheffield’s Best Metal Bands Vol.1’.

Born of Obsidian traverses various subgenres of metal while maintaining a unified atmosphere all of its own. Thematically it digs deep into the ancient history of major Mesoamerican civilisations; concepts range from Aztec deities, such as Tezcatlipoca and human sacrifice to the god of sun, Huitzilopochtli, to priests’ use of seeds and mushrooms in divine religious ceremonies. Tracks like lead single ‘Jaguar’ also reference the Olmec culture, which preceded the Aztecs, with the band adding,

"This one was written as more of an incantation than a standard song. The jaguar was the most powerful creature for the Olmecs. There were Olmec shamans who, it was believed, could transform into a jaguar, and this piece is meant to provide the soundtrack for such a ceremony.”

Listen to ‘Jaguar’ now :

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‘Fuori Controllo’ translates as ‘out of control’, and on this outing, Neroluce.experiment deliver a bubbling cocktail of confusion and anguish. Check the video here:

No Part of It – 23rd September 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Slowly raising a hand – dripping in coagulated blood and thick, sticky semen – from the swampy morass of angled noise that’s entirely representative of the contemporary dark electronic scene, where dark ambient, power electronics, and harsh noise sim in the same sewers, Sterile Garden emerge with Acidiosis. It’s pitched as ‘harsh noise for junk metal, tape recorder, and 4 track;, and while Sterile Garden is an open-ended project with countless contributors featuring on their 40+ releases in the 14 years since their inception, on this occasion, Sterile Garden is simply Jacob DeRaadt.

Acidosis contain six untitled, numbered tracks, and they segue together to create on enormous lump of churning industrial noise. Howling whines of nose like jet engines firing up power full-throttle into barrelling blasts of abrasion.

Without lyrics or any form of vocal element apart from the muffled dialogue on ‘Acidosis 6’, the album is purely a host of permutations of mangled noise which feature here with every shade of feedback and distortion imaginable assailing thee listener’s tenderised eardrums. Metallic clattering, and scrapes, barks and yelps and screeching screeds or nail-scraping, eye-watering blurting screeds or treble dominate.

So much of this overloading, speaker-splitting noise is so above the limits, so over the regular limits of noise, it hurts. But while suffering, enduring, or perhaps enjoying the pain, if you can get past the tinnitus-inducing shards of treble, the walls of mid-range that blast away like hurricane, there is detail, there is textural depth. No doubt many would disagree, and this s very much one for the noise aficionados: there no tunes, no structures, just screaming feedback and howls of painful noise, whistling feedback and manged, cacophonous noise hurtling headlong toward the crusher. Alright, it is just needless, neverending noise, but as I was out and about earlier, on a supposedly ‘quiet’ walk, I became attuned to an endless stream of noise ranging from conversations to car engines. Peace and quiet is a myth – although Acidosis is not so much anti-ambient as anti -sanity, a relentless bewildering squall of horrible noise.

Acidiosis is all the metallic clanks and scrapes. With Acidiosis, Sterile Garden have landed the crusher that will crush your soul. It’s a gut-churning, skull-compressing horrorshow that hurts, physically and psychologically – meaning a job well done.

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Sacred Bones – 16th August 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

I’ve barely recovered from Uniform’s last punishing album and the gut-punching spectacle of hearing it played live when they land a second collaboration with The Body, only a year on from their first, the punishing noise-fest that was Mental Wounds Not Healing. An album that roughly ravaged and picked deep into the scabs and scars, it was everything you’d expect from two of the most uncompromising acts around right now.

NY purveyors of sonic violence Uniform carve their own trench of frenzied fury, and if they lack variety, where they excel is in their capacity to relentlessly attack, spitting and spewing their raging antagonism and venomous vitriol, while experimental noise duo The Body have largely forged a career from adding layers of abrasion to myriad collaborations – and this one is no exception.

The press release provides a fair summary of the kind of noise contained on Everything That Dies Someday Comes Back: ‘Comprised of an amalgam of abrasive influence that spans Swans-y dirge and purge, Whitehouse’s clenched-jaw noise, middle-period Ministry’s penchant for metallic post-industrial everything, New Order’s nose for melodic emotionality, and Juicy J-inspired beats.’ It’s all in there, and none of it’s pleasant, although somewhat ironically, when pressed against the full-tilt ferocity of Uniform, The Body serve more as a counterbalance, as if the two have a certain cancelling effect on one another’s most extreme aspects. The result, then, isn’t intensified – it simply wouldn’t be possible – but mangled and mutated into a different distillation of the component parts.

‘Gallows in Heaven’ is perhaps a misleading opener, stylistically, sonically, and in terms of mood, in that it’s goth to the core, a deep, surging three-chord bass sequence and thunderous mechanoid drumming at its core. With a wonky, fractal guitar line weaving over the top, it’s a vintage slice of post-punk – only there’s feedback and extraneous noise all over and backed off in the distance, Michael Berdan’s vocals, eternally petulant, the epitome of fucked off with everything.

If ‘Not Good Enough’ sounds a bit like standard Uniform but with additional electronic noise thrown over the top of it, the thumping disco groove that underpins ‘Vacancy’, which shudders, shimmers, and howls, is another kind of proposition altogether. A snarling electronic bass booms in along with a jittery sequenced synth rhythm, and this is something that’s got ‘80s dancefloor’ all over it – or would have were it not for the mess of noise all over it.

‘Patron Saint of Regret’ is little more than a mess of noise at first, evolving into some kind of fucked-up post-Wu-Tang trip-hop crossover that miraculously works, while ‘Penance’ takes the hybridisation a step further, a collision of thumping industrial beats and lumbering synth chords, with tinkling 80s synths worthy of mid 80s Cure or A Flock of Seagulls and impenetrable shrieking vocals by way of an interlude from the grating keyboard drone.

The stripped back ‘All This Bleeding’ brings the industrial clank of NIN and gentle cascading synth melody –paired with the raging rants – of Prurient together to forge something both anguished and atmospheric. Twanging guitars echo around punishing percussion and create an unexpected spaciousness amidst the claustrophobic intensity. The electronic inches to the fore, culminating in the sample-soaked ‘Day of Atonement’, which consists of little more than a droning synth bass over spiky drumming and Berdan’s distorted vocal amidst a howl of excruciating extraneous noise.

Instead of softening the relentless blows, the graded transition toward the album’s final cut only accentuates the unforgiving nature of the material: the churning maelstrom of dark ambience of ‘Waiting for the End of the World’ is the sound of the apocalypse as a jaunty tune plays in the background and ‘Contempt’ grinds into the desolation of nihilistic blackness.

This feels like the collapse of it all, the degradation of society, represented in sonic form. It sounds like the cover looks. Everything That Dies Someday Comes Back is nothing short of devastating.

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Uniform and The Body

The monolithic collaboration between industrial-noise post-everything bands Uniform and The Body continues with a second entry, Everything That Dies Someday Comes Back. Comprised of an amalgam of abrasive influence that spans Swans-y dirge and purge, Whitehouse’s clenched-jaw noise, middle-period Ministry’s penchant for metallic post-industrial everything, New Order’s nose for melodic emotionality, and Juicy J-inspired beats, Uniform and The Body’s approach delves deeper down the rabbit hole than before, igniting a sonic world of terror and bliss poised to grip the throats of fans yet again.

They’ve now shared the album’s lead track ‘Penance’, which Uniform’s Michael Berdan explains, “has to do with an ongoing attempt to hold oneself to a higher standard than you did yesterday. Human beings are bound to mess up as often as not, which can lead to either teachable experiences or nihilistic resign. I grew up surrounded by religious types who could act like monsters six days out of the week as long as they were willing to say ‘sorry’ to some priest and pray a rosary on the seventh. Continuing in malicious behaviour and demanding arbitrary absolution is a garbage way to live. However, if we take account of where we’ve done harm to others and ourselves and endeavour to learn and not repeat these actions, then maybe we can grow into empathetic and loving people.”

Listen to ‘Penance’ here:

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Uniform Live Dates:

06/07: Groningen, Netherlands – Vera

07/07: Leper, Belgium – Leper Fest

09/07: Malmo, Sweden – Plan B

10/07: Stockholm, Sweden – Hus 7

11/07: Anyksciai, Lithuania – Devilstone Festival

12/07: Kutná Hora, Czech Republic – Creepy Teepee Festival

13/07: St. Petersburg, Russia – Serdce Club $

14/07: Moscow, Russia – Pluton $

16/07: Bratislava, Slovakia – Protokultura

17/07: Kosice, Slovakia – Collosseum Club

18/07: Ostrava, Czech Republic – Colors Of Ostrava Festival

19/07: Berlin, Germany – Kantine Berghain

20/07: Den Haag, Netherlands – Grauzone Summer Festival

21/07: Bristol, UK – Crofters Rights +

22/07: Hull, UK – The Polar Bear +

23/07: Leeds, UK – Temple Of Boom +

24/07: Cardiff, UK – The Moon +

25/07: London, UK – Electrowerkz +

26/07: Paris, France – Espace B

27/07:Bamberg, Germany – Pizzini

28/07: Rokycany, Czech Republic – Fluff Fest

19/08: San Diego, CA – Casbah *

20/08: Phoenix, AZ – Valley Bar *

22/08: San Antonio, TX – Paper Tiger *

23/08: Austin, TX – Barracuda *

24/08: Denton, TX – Rubber Gloves *

25/08: Houston, TX – White Oak Music Hall *

26/08: New Orleans, LA – Poor Boys

27/08: Birmingham, Alabama – The Firehouse

29/08: Tallahassee, FL – Wilbury

30/08: Tampa, FL – Orpheum *

31/08: Gainesville, FL – High Dive *

01/09: Atlanta, GA – Masquerade *

03/09: Nashville, TN – Exit/In*

04/09: Asheville, NC – The Orange Peel *

07/09: Washington, DC – Black Cat *

08/09: Jersey City, NJ – White Eagle Hall*

10/09: Brooklyn, NY – Elsewhere *

11/09: Boston, MA – Paradise Rock Club *

12/09: Portland, ME – Port City Music Hall *

14/09: Toronto, ON – Lee’s Palace *

15/09: Grand Rapids, MI – Pyramid Scheme*

17/09: Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall *

18/09: St. Louis, MO – Delmar Hall *

20/09: Denver, CO – Marquis Theater *

21/09: Salt Lake City, UT – Metro Music Hall*

23/09: Seattle, WA – Neumos *

24/09: Portland, OR – Doug Fir Lounge *

26/09: San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall *

27/09: San Jose, CA – The Ritz *

28/09: Camarillo, CA – Rock City *

29/09: Los Angeles, CA – Echoplex *

$ w/ Thou

+ w/ Bad Breeding

* w/ Boris

The Body Live Dates:

04/07: Roskilde, Denmark – Roskilde Festival #

05/07: Kassel, Germany – Goldgrube *

06/07: Leipzig, Germany – Conne Island *

08/07: Prague, Czech Republic – Modra Vopice *

09/07: Budapest, Hungary – Durer Kert *

10/07: Munich, Germany – Backstage !

11/07: Paris, France – Gibus #

12/07: London, United Kingdom – The Dome #

13/07: Dour, Belgium – Dour Festival #

15/07: Nijmegen, Netherlands – Valkhof Festival *

16/07: Berlin, Germany – Zukunft Am Ostkreuz *

17/07: Oberhausen, Germany – Drucklufthaus %

18/07: Crispendorf, Germany – Chaos Descends Festival

20/07: Birmingham, United Kingdom – Supersonic Festival

21/07: Sheffield, United Kingdom – Doomlines V
22/07: Glasgow, United Kingdom – Broadcast %

23/07: Manchester, United Kingdom – Soup Kitchen %

24/07: Bristol, United Kingdom – Rough Trade %

26/07: Moscow, Russia – Mutabor

27/07: St Petersburg, Russia – Opera

28/07: Rokycany, Czech Republic – Fluff Festival

29/07: Milan, Italy – Macao %

30/07/: Bologna, Italy – Freakout Club %

31/07: Linz, Austria – Kapu %

01/08: Kosice, Slovakia – Tabacka Kulturfabrik %

02/08: Katowice, Poland – OFF Festival

05/09: Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge

06/09: Denver, CO – Denver Hex at Lost Lake Lounge

07/09: Kansas City, MO – The Riot Room

13/09: Providence, RI – Columbus Theatre ^

14/09: Hudson, NY – Basilica Soundscape ^

15/09: Brooklyn, NY – The Bell House ^

^ w/ Assembly of Light

# Collab set with Full Of Hell

* w/ Full Of Hell

! w/ Full Of Hell and Napalm Death

% w/ Black To Comm

Uniform and The Body

Today, Uniform unveil the second single off their highly anticipated album, The Long Walk – coming August 17th on Sacred Bones. ‘Alone in the Dark’ is an homage to Jack Sholder’s slasher flick of the same name. Vocalist Michael Berdan explains that “in the film, Jack Palance, Martin Landau and Donald Pleasance star as a gaggle of mental patients who escape an asylum during a power outage and proceed to hunt down their psychiatrist. In our song, I’m referencing my personal feelings of isolation that come in the middle of the night, when I’m left with only the sensation of college level existential terror and prayers to a God who may or may not be listening, if even there at all.”

The Long Walk already looks like being one of Aural Aggro’s albums of the year. Get your lugs round ‘Alone in the Dark’ here:

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Uniform - Long Wak

Sacred Bones – 17 August 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

Of all of the bands to make an impact recently, Uniform’s arrival has to have been one of the most hard-hitting. Wake in Fright was appropriately-titled: a terrifying mess of industrial and punk compressed into a brutal explosion of unproduced noise, it was the kind of tinnitus-inducing horror that rang in your ears as you sat bolt upright at 4am in a sweaty state of anxiety after a bad dream. When I say ‘you’, I’m presenting the personal as universal.

Yet none of this really prepares anyone for its follow-up. Whereas its predecessor was a ragged, raging sonic inferno, raw and trebly, having expanded to a three-piece with drummer Greg Fox (Liturgy, Zs) joining Michael Berdan (vocals) and instrumentalist Ben Greenberg, The Long Walk (the title of which references a Stephen King book) brings a newfound density to intensify the ferocity. That doesn’t mean they’ve toned it down: if anything, they’ve cranked it up and added new dimensions to the ear-bleeding brutality that defines the Uniform sound.

If I were being cynical, I might contend that Uniform only have one song, which they repeat with various minor adjustments. Michael Berdan’s vocals are hardy varied: a raging punk sneer smeared across a cyclical riff that grates and throbs amidst a tempest of overloading noise as the needles all quiver towards the top of the red. It’s a simple method, but often, simplicity is most effective, especially when the aim is to produce art that drills directly through the skull into the soft tissue of the brain. Maximum impact doesn’t require complex algorithms or theory. Maximum impact taps into the most primitive aspects of the psyche, targets the visceral, punches straight into instinct. And maximum impact isn’t necessarily about variety: that isn’t Uniform’s ambition: they’re out to batter relentlessly at the senses. The effect of The Long Walk is cumulative. And that effect, for those predisposed, is anxietising, stressful. Listening to The Long Walk actually raises my heart rate, and makes me perspire. And really, so it should: this is intense, claustrophobic, a different kind of aggression that speaks of derangement and blind rage.

The Long Walk is as raw as it gets, to the extent that its complete lack of refinement makes some of the most aggressive, antagonistic, and purposefully unlistenable songs even less appealing: you actually have to get through the jarring noise, the treble, the wilfully impenetrable mixing and what could safely be described as anti-production – to find the songs, let alone the appeal. The be clear: this isn’t just noisy: it’s fucking nasty, and is the work of a band deliberately pushing even the most accommodating of listeners to their limits, if not away altogether. It’s almost as if they don’t want any fans.

I can relate: as a spoken word performer, I discovered greater satisfaction in driving as many people from the room within the first couple of minutes than a smattering of polite applause from a full room at the end. Producing art is not about popularity. It’s about release, about channelling, about, catharsis, about being true to oneself or one’s aesthetic. If it’s commercial, it’s probably not art.

I know that in my writing I’m prone to revert to various ‘paint’-related tropes when reviewing work of a certain volume and / or intensity. But Uniform absolutely fucking decimate. Everything.

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Uniform - Long Wak

Ventil Records – V008

Christopher Nosnibor

Variations on Bulletproof Glass follows 2016’s Decomposition I-III which also featured Christina Kubisch, and set out to explore – and demolish – the well-worn thematics of field recordings.it represents something of a deviation in terms of its methodology, as well as its focus. This fourth decomposition collapses material rather than location, and places a very different focus on the concept of field recordings, centring not on the out and about, but the controlled space, and with a clearly defined specificity.

Variations on Bulletproof Glass is a literal title, being constructed from ‘waves which were transmitted through a bulletproof glass pane while it was exposed to major physical impacts’. But of course, like most works which are devoted to a microcosmic sound source, that source becomes increasingly obscured the closer the lens looms. While there are moments that do sound vaguely evocative of glass, cracking and splintering, there’s not a single classic crash and tinkle, a solitary smash and splinter. None of the sounds here betray their origins, and Kutin and Kindlinger have manipulated the source material to forge something altogether in a different sonic sphere from the pieces that lie scattered at source. There may be hints of scrapes and ricochets on/off glass, but there’s nothing which overtly says ‘this the sound of glass’ in the (de)construction of these samples. Because this is bulletproof glass, for a start. It has different properties, and can withstand greater punishment. The consequence is that so must the listener: this is challenging, and difficult to readily access.

‘X26’, the first of eight pieces, clanks and scrapes, and the chanking treble is countered by woozy bass. It has all the hallmarks of experimental dub, and even builds some dense, gut-churning rhythmic pulsations and dynamic beats – none of which even hint in the slightest at the source of the sounds. ‘Throne’ is a jolting, stop/start attack, and Elvin Brandhi’s vocals are stark, dishevelled, wild and wide-eyed. ‘PANE#2’ blasts away at a beat that echoes Throbbing Gristle’s ‘Discipline’ as synth-like sounds howl and wail aggressively before tapering to a quieter place.

Elsewhere, the sonorous, trilling done and scrape of ‘L.I.W’ is uncomfortable, and not for a single second does one listen to this and think that this is an album to mellow to, or even to function to. It’s not just distracting, but the sound of abstract obstruction.

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Kutin Kindlinger – Decomposition IV