Posts Tagged ‘Gritty’

Cruel Nature Records – 2nd December 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Having raved about Pound Land’s second album, Can’t Be Arsed back in March, I was pretty thrilled to find the follow-up landing so swiftly. What with the exponential rise of Benefits, and acts like Polevaulter emerging, it seems that now is a good time for angsty, angry music with noisy tendencies and gritty sociopolitical leanings. Of course it is: it’s a sign of the times, and besides, it’s not a good time for anything else, unless you happen to be a non-dom billionaire or a CEO at an oil company.

If Sleaford Mods set a new template for the paired-back duo setup as being in vogue before the pandemic, the combination of lockdowns and crippling economic circumstance has rendered this an operational necessity for many musicians.

Pound Land may be up to their elbows in grimy dishwater and wading through excrement in streets where the drains and sewers are backed up due to torrential downpours and a lack of council funding, but they share little common ground with Sleaford Mods, and that’s despite favouring repetitive monotonous Krautrock-inspired grooves over dynamic structures: Pound Land are far doomier, dingier, lugging their way closer to sludge metal than anything you could possibly dance to.

The Stockport duo’s third album is a monster slab of punishing, gut-dragging, bass-heavy grimness, and one has to wonder how much to read into the title. The people are weary, ground down: will they rise up, or curl up and give up?

The blurb points out that the album finds the Stockport band pushing their ‘post-industrial kitchen-sink drama preoccupations even further on Defeated, exploring the dark comedy of everyday life in the dismal land of eternal recession. Sometimes the vision expands out of shitty Britain too, ‘Drone’ recounting the wearied observations of an electronic device as it traverses the globe… You’ve got to laugh, because if you don’t you’ll kill yourself. Or somebody else.’

The laughter is pretty dark and pretty hollow, though, and derives as much from the keen observations as any particular knack for a punchline (a line about mobility scooters with Northern soul stickers on stands out as particularly pithy) and the stark musical backing isn’t especially musical, more of a pounding trudge that provides a backdrop to an endless stream of vitriol and bleak depictions of the everyday, from pavements caked with dogshit and news items about rising fuel prices and their effect in the average household. If it sounds mundane, it is, but then we need art that speaks to us about life as we experience it, and the majority know far more about scrabbling for change to buy a loaf of bread than luxury cars, watches, and clothes.

‘Violence’ is their equivalent of Public Image Ltd’s ‘Theme’, a brutal, sprawling, brawling, squalling monster that opens the album with a relentlessly heavy battering ram of a racket, like Sunn O))) with a howling harmonica and sneering Lydonesque vocal. It crushes your skull, before it fades out swiftly and unexpectedly, which somehow works. But maintaining the PiL comparison, it’s Metal Box that is perhaps the closest similarity, in that the album as a whole is diverse, fractured, unpredictable.

‘Carry On Screaming’ sounds like The Fall in a three-way collision with Yard Act and Melvins. It’s a mangled mess of drum machine beats and psychedelia and noise with a monotone vocal drawl.

Against a thumping dirge of a noise, a grating mesh of distortion and dolorous drum, the title track is a gnarly hybrid of early Swans, and elsewhere, as on ‘Sick Day’, it becomes less about songs and more about spoken word narrative delivered against a backdrop of mangled noise, and at times, it’s pretty harrowing. Lyrically, Pound Land don’t pretty things up. Sonically, they don’t either. It’s magnificently raw and un-produced, and this is no more true than on penultimate song ‘Pathogen’, a dirty slow stomp that’s pure rage and invites comparisons to Uniform. And it sounds like it was recorded on a phone from the next room.

‘Drone’ sneers and snarls like Lydon at his best, closing with a venomous refrain of ‘fucking twat’ delivered in a thick, spitting Manchester accent.

Defeated may only contain eight songs, and only a couple of them extend beyond the five-minute mark, but it’s feels immense, and experience that’s exhausting both physically and mentally. Listening, you feel the weight of the world condense and compress as the angst and anguish press down ever darker, ever denser. It’s a bleak, suffocating document of everything that’s wrong right now. This is the sound of broken Britain, and it’s a harrowing insight into just how fucked everything is. But in this channelling of nihilistic anguish, you realise you’re not alone. It doesn’t change anything, but it’s something to cling to.

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Industrial metal band, Biomechanimal has just unleashed their epic new single and video, ‘From The Mouths Of Beasts’. The song is a celebration of all the music that became part of Biomechanimal’s influence; hard beats, epic orchestras, and a complete lack of reliance on genre boundaries.

’From The Mouths Of Beasts’ is a take on the phrase, ‘from the mouths of babes’, a concept in which children have a way of telling magnificent truths in their innocence. ‘From the mouths of beasts’ is the reverse of this.

We are surrounded by people, especially in the music industry, who use and use people, taking what they want from others, spouting whatever they like to get what the want. These people are incapable of truth and innocence. This is a song about them. Lines like ‘devolve to entropy’, ‘burn up my wings’, describe the effect these people have on others.

Recorded at Monolith Studio, "’rom the Mouth of Beasts’ s the focal point of the band’s efforts to reimagine themselves into something heavier, ferocious, and dramatic. Says Matt Simpson, “We wanted to commit to being as authentic as possible, with all our new material using studio drums (a first for the band)”. ‘From The Mouths Of Beasts’ is a far cry from Biomechanimal’s industrial and EBM beginnings.

Check the video here:

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Biomechanimal are a genre-smashing act from London, UK, mixing harsh vocals with massive bass design, huge guitars, and pounding kick drums. The brainchild of Matt Simpson, and active since 2013, the act have played from Finland to Australia, but are most often found in Slimelight, their home stomping ground, and have played shows with 3TEETH, Hocico, Aesthetic Perfection, and many more.

Biomechanimal has reinvented itself as one of the foremost bass acts in the UK, mixing the signature sound of the London underground with the brutal theatrical drama of orchestral metal. The proof is, of course, in the pudding, which has been sampled by venues all over Europe. After a string of releases in 2021 (including a vocal feature on Matteo Tura’s midtempo masterpiece Corrupt), the band has now unleashed their next single, "From the Mouth of Beasts" ahead of the upcoming EP.

Fronted by Matthew L. Simpson on production and vocals, Kekko Stefano Biogora on drums, Sarunas Brazionis on guitar, and Keith Kamholz on mixing & mastering, Biomechanimal is pulling out all the stops with a sound that is as menacing as it is immersive.

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3rd September 2022

James Wells

Naff name, great tune, relatable content. I know precisely nothing about this band, and the scant info online suggests they haven’t really decided anything either. The Leicester-based post-millennial music-collective have been described as purveyors of ‘proletarian garage rock’.

Maybe that’s what it is. It’s definitely noisy, and it’s brief, the sound of the band in a hurry to say their piece and get the hell out of the way.

‘Existential Dread’ is an ominous, bass-driven, bowel-churning slab of hard psychedelia that’s driven by thunderous, propellant drums with choppy, echoed guitars and needling synths – or heavily processed lead guitar – over it. Initially, I’m thinking The Black Angels, but his is harder, darker, punkier, and it’s totally exhilarating and totally relevant.

We’re fucked. All of us. One way or another. If you’re not tense with existential dread, you’re either incredibly rich or incredibly stupid, or both. This is the soundtrack to the shit we’re living through. It’s real, it’s sharp. It’s not comfortable: just face it. Embrace the dread.

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Dallas, TX, Sloth Fist are a 5 piece punk / rock ‘n’ roll band that combine the melodic sense of Descendents and Teenage Bottlerocket with the fierceness of bands like Motorhead and Turbonegro. The result is an eclectic mix of songs that will satisfy anyone who likes their music hard and heavy, but still catchy with hooks galore.

With lyrics written mainly during the pandemic, the band’s upcoming EP ‘Bombs Away’ (out October 7 on Mindpower Records) takes a much darker turn than past efforts.

The lead single, ‘Cut Through It’ deals with ‘The Great Resignation’ and lashes out at the current state of corporate greed.

Watch the lyric video for ‘Cut Through It’ here:

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18th March 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

The Virginmarys have been knocking around for a while, and released their debut album King of Conflict back in 2013. You couldn’t exactly say they’ve been flying under the radar, since that aforementioned debut hit #3 on the Billboard New Artist Alternative Chart and #8 on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart, as well as their being dubbed the buzz band of SXSW. Like so many of the best bands, they’ve found the most appreciation overseas rather than at home, where it’s taken them rather longer to build up – but build up they have. It’s perhaps just a matter of time having released three albums (KoC was followed by Divides (2016) and Sitting Ducks (2017), as well as throwing down Northern Sun Sessions in 2018), and played with Queens Of The Stoneage, and been championed by Slash, and collaborated on stage with Frank Turner.

All of this, they did as a trio, and it’s been a full four years since their last album proper. ‘The Meds’ is their first release as a duo, stripped back to founder members, drummer Danny Dolan and guitarist/vocalist Ally Dickaty. How do they sound? No question, they’ve nailed it: they don’t sound like a duo on this full-throttle blues-based riffcentric rockout, hell, no: ‘The Meds’ is a dense, ball-busting rock beast that which really does pack some meat and sounds like a full band, and like (early) Royal Blood, Yur Mum and personal faves Modern Technology, they’ve gone all out to (over) compensate the lack of bodies / instruments by not only cranking it all up to eleven (good) but optimising their amps and pedals to blast out a maximalist sound that sounds live: you almost feel the air displacement from the speakers as the riff bursts forth, before Dickaty launches his raw-throated vitriol.

Ally’s vocal is strong and gritty, and it’s pegged comparatively low in the mix against the blast of guitar and pulverising drumming, and the bottom line is that this is a blistering tune.

Virginmarys Artwork

16th May 2021

James Wells

The government has a vested interest in controlling information. The media is driven by its own agenda, be it pro- or anti-government. Everyone has an agenda. Social media is war, and inchoate babble of conflicting views, most of which are based on opinion rather than information. But then information is suppressed, manipulated, statistics cut to suit specific ends… who can you trust? Well, probably no-one.

When governments and people in power blatantly lie, it’s no wonder people get suspicious and there’s a spreading air of mistrust – and of course, that’s when conspiracy theories spread like wildfire. In this kind of information war, what can you believe?

As Ilker Yucel of ReGen Magazine writes, ‘Talk City’ was written ‘with lyrics addressing the spread of misinformation and the resulting distrust that pervades modern society’ during the Summer and Fall of the pandemic in 2020. ‘Talk City,’ then, has a very clear message, that is one should not believe everything they read or hear in the media, but rather, research and find the truth.

Things have become deeply clouded and also deeply divided of late, with an ever-growing ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality. It seems that questioning the media – who we’ve long known to be skewed by agendas, be they left, right, pro-government, or whatever – now automatically makes one a conspiracy theorist. We live in a polarised world, in which anyone who isn’t pro-Tory or pro-Trump is a communist, anyone who didn’t vote to leave the EU is a remoaning lefty, and so on. There are no grey areas anymore. Anyone with reservations about vaccine side-effects is lambasted is an anti-vaxxer. Debate is dead. Might is right. But there’s a vast difference between questioning what you’re fed and buying into conspiracy theories, and that’s the message here: think, question, do your research.

‘Talk City’ is a pretty catchy tune, the perfect coming together of pop hooks and grainy industrial guitars and thunderous beats. It’s a combination of gritty industrial percussion, an insistent bass groove and growling vocals, that’s reminiscent of RevCo, KMFDM, and PIG. It’s solid stuff and has real bite. Right tune, right time.

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Christopher Nosnibor

It’s no secret: I fucking love cheese. To the extent that it’s the single foodstuff that prevents me from being vegan, and to the extent that if I had to live on any one type of food, it would be cheese. Forget pudding, gimme the cheeseboard. In fact, scrap starters and mains, just give me all the cheese. My 4-tier wedding cake consisted of a wheel each of Brie, Stilton, Cornish Yarg, and a truckle of mature cheddar. So I kinda feel that Chronic Johnny’s debut single is a song that should appeal, regardless of actual content.

Harrogate may not be an obvious place to spawn a ‘wild noiserock trio’ like Chronic Johnny, but on reflection, it makes sense: it’s a lovely, leafy, middle-class market town close to York. What could possibly spur a bunch of guys to make angular, guitar-driven racket, the sound of anger and frustration in a setting like this? Well, precisely a setting like this. There’s always something to rebel against, always a reason to feel disenfranchised. And always a reason to make noise.

And Chronic Johnny make a cracking noise of a decidedly 90s alternative vintage, all spiky, overdriven guitars that jerk and jolt, and peppered with a substantial dash of rockabilly / surf spice, not least of all in the manic, yelping vocals. It’s such a frenetic, hybridized racket that comparisons are pretty pointless; it’s more that this furiously dirty din, driven by a growling, busy bassline, draws together the essence of a period in time, and drags it, squalling and brawling into the present. It’s gnarly, and it kicks ass.

Southern Lord – 29th September 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s been five years since Wreck appeared on Alternative Tentacles. So what have Unsane been doing in the intervening period? Gazing at their navels, taking up yoga and discovering a serene spirituality as a means of dealing with the anguish of life in the modern world? As if. They’ve been distilling their brutal rage into even more intensely bleak slabs of sonic nihilism. And, naturally, it’s housed in appropriately unsubtle, gore-soaked artwork. Unsane’s album covers are nothing if not distinct: while so many metal album covers which display hematomaniac tendencies are highly stylised and revel in the intended shock value, Unsane’s covers are all the more shocking by view of their clinicality, resembling crime scene photos than works of art. This is in many ways true of the music itself: there’s a functionality, a bluntness about it, and no sense of there being any indulgence or show.

Everything about Sterilize is stark, uncompromising, and connotes post-industrial, post-everything society, the dehumanising effects of merely trying to exist in the capitalist world where everyone gets pushed further and further down for the benefit of the few. It’s the soundtrack to life being sucked from the soul, the sonic encapsulation of desolate fury.

The grey steel assault of ‘Factory’ sets the tone and tempo: screeching feedback whistles through the grey, grain of the guitars and sludgy bass. From thereon in, the ferocious howls of anguish and packed in tight, back-to-back.

The song titles are also functional, direct, descriptive. Again, there’s no fluff, and little joy, to be found around ‘We’re Fucked’, ‘A Slow Reaction’ or ‘Distance’. Everything is paired back to the bare essentials and compacted for maximum impact. This includes the blues-based sound that defines Unsane: it’s crunched up, compressed, stomped into submission, meaning that while there is a certain swing to it, it’s limited to the most concise and precise form.

‘The Grind’ is aptly titled and brings a thunderous deluge of guitar; ‘Aberration’ is built around a simple four-chord trudge; and ‘No Reprieve’ sums up the album as a whole. You don’t listen to Unsane for variety, either across a given album, or their output overall. You listen to Unsane to vent, to experience a relentless viscerality. There’s something almost self-flagellatory about listening to an Unsane album in its entirety. At a certain point, the initial sense of catharsis is replaced by a crushing claustrophobia. This isn’t to say it’s an unpleasant experience, but is indicative of the effect of such sustained intensity. It’s as exhausting, mentally and physically, as the exertions of daily life on the treadmill, a punishment as reward.

When they slow the pace a shade, the weight is turned up, and when they hit a groove, it’s explosive and blistering. The tripwire guitar that stretches its sinews over the sludgy trudge of ‘Lung’ only raises the tension, and closer ‘Avail’ draws a heavy curtain of screaming anguish on proceedings with distorted vocals tearing across a rumbling bassline and savage guitars.

There’s a desperation and urgency about Sterilize which ensures that it crackles from beginning to end. Everything seethes, spits and scrapes and there’s not a moment’s relief. It’s this intensity which makes Sterilize as strong as any Unsane release. It’s mercilessly harrowing, but is ultimately satisfying in a perverse, sadistic sense.

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Swedish metal/crust punk outfit Martyrdöd – featuring members of Skitsystem, Agrimonia, and others – has just revealed an official video for the track "Handlöst Fallen Ängel," hailing from the band’s album List, which was released through Southern Lord in November. Filmed and edited by Jimmy Johansson, also responsible for Martyrdöd’s recent "Harmagedon" video, the riotous live-filmed "Handlöst Fallen Ängel" can be viewed below: