Posts Tagged ‘Hard Rock’

Christopher Nosnibor

Ernie Ball’s 10 Gauge set is tagged as ‘skinny tip, heavy bottom’ – and it’s an apt description for the sound of this Hertfordshire quintet whose blues-based classic hard rock stylings are chunky on the riffery while packing in no shortage of lead detail.

Because ‘I’m Broken’ is very much in the vein of so many other bands from the last thirty years, there’s an almost instant familiarity to it, and that’s much of the appeal. Not every band can break new ground, and nor should they want to. Moreover, certain genres seem to demand a certain adherence to trope, and as such, it’s more about how well an act does it which determines how they should be judged.

There’s no question that they’ve got a knack for a big chorus, and ‘I’m Broken’ boasts a whopper: Rob Jewson’s powerful vocal is pushed along by the crunch of a dual guitar attack. That they pack it all in tightly into under three minutes is admirable, too: there’s nothing indulgent or excessive here, just a suitably solid, focussed song that balances ballsiness and melody just nicely.

20th of November 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Grunge is dead, so the slogan ran on a T-shirt worn by Kurt Cobain back in 93 or thereabouts. And yet, he we are in 2020 and listening to the third single by Leeds power trio Kath & The Kicks, and the evidence says otherwise.

Like punk, post-punk, goth, shoegaze, and so many genres that are intrinsically tied to a specific period in time, the legacy of grunge reverberates and returns in waves, and one of the joy of being alive now as that cross-genre hybrids of all of these are possible and emerge all the time.

‘Underground’ is all about the thick, overdriven grungy guitar. The sound is dense and dirty, and benefits from an unpolished, no-messing production that accentuates the abrasive edges. It’s the vehicle which carries Kath’s bold, powerful vocal, which, stylistically, sits between vintage hard rock and goth – there’s a dash of Siouxsie in there, while at the same time hinting at being the natural successors to sadly departed Leeds favourites Black Moth.

The dark, ever-so-slightly twisted lyrics dig into a subterranean psyche that’s part goth, part agoraphobe, part obsessive psychopath. It’s a pretty potent cocktail.

Kath _ The Kicks Single Cover

28th August 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Spar Marta’s Facebook page defines them by what they’re not rather than what they are. Specifically, the quintet – consisting of Ieva Aleksandrovičiūtė, Luke Wilson, Conor ‘Corndawg’ Taylor, Sam Liddle, and Dan ‘Danno’ Purvey – are at pains to point out that they are not an acid jazz trio. The fact there are five of them is a significant clue, but, it has to be said, three of them do have beards… and y’know, nothing says jazz like beards, right?

This six-tracker, which features previous singles ‘The Postman’, ‘Frey’, and ‘Let is Go’ (which has absolutely nothing to do with the Disney smash Frozen – thankfully) showcases a mighty guitar-driven sound tempered by a keen sense of melody and a vocal that’s got guts and sass in equal measure. Recent years have seen a real surge in exciting female-fronted hard rock bands, who punch hard and pack some killer tunes.

With Leeds titans Black Moth having called it a day, the arrival of Sky Valley Mistress, and now Spar Marta is more than welcome.

It’s ‘The Postman’ that opens – or, more accurately, rips things open – with a hefty blast of overdrive, a busy, cyclical riff and gritty rhythm guitar. The shift to a ska-influenced riff for the middle eight is unexpected, but equally unexpected is the fact that it not only doesn’t suck, but actually works, and when they lumber back into the full gut-punching riffage, it hits even harder and calls to mind The Pretty Reckless at their best.

As the nagging mid-tempo ‘Let it Go’ demonstrates, they’ve got a real knack for dynamics, a clean, buoyant verse ‘I’ll never let you go’, Ieva Aleksandrovičiūtė sings, and it sounds like as much of a threat as a promise of support, and it’s all driven home with a full-throttle riff-mongous finale that fills the final minute.

What we get from this EP is the work of a multi-faceted band who’ve got an ear for an accessible alt-rock tune in the Paramore vein: ‘Frey’ is very much representative, being a bit more arena / Kerrang! radio friendly and suggests they’ve got the capacity to reach a much wider audience – but it’s when they put the pedal to the metal and rage hard they’re at they’re best by far, and ‘Take Control’ brings the fretwork fury propelled by some hefty drumming.

Closer ‘Run’ is a real beast of a closer, beginning with a soft, tripped-back intro that hints at something wistful, transitioning through a succession of segments to culminate in a raging, rip-roaring climax, all the while keeping one ear on the melody and filtering some palpable emotions through it all. It’s accomplished work, and while the production is full, it’s not excessively polished, meaning the songs are delivered with bite, and the passion behind them is very much to the fore.

Stream by clicking the image below.

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Sky Valley Mistress, who release their debut album Faithless Rituals on 20th March, have shared new single ‘Punk Song’.

‘Punk Song’ is described by drummer, Max Newsome, as ‘the heaviest of jams, an album worth of riffs in six and half minutes. Nasa says this song is so dense it changed the earth’s orbit when it was written’.

Sky Valley Mistress spent 10 days recording at Dave Catching’s Rancho de la Luna studio in California, hanging out with the likes of Hutch (QOTSA’s ex sound man), Bingo (Mojave Lords), Chris Goss (Masters of Reality), Peaches and Arctic Monkeys who also dropped by during the stay.

The result of that meeting of minds and souls is the full spectrum stoner rock ‘n’ roll assault of Faithless Rituals.

Listen to ‘Punk Song’ here:

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Sky Valley Mistress - Faithless Rituals [Album Cover] 1500

Spanish metallers Bones Of Minerva have released a new single, ‘Privilege’, ahead of their run of UK shows this month.

You can hear ‘Privilege’ in full here:

The band are set to playing the following:

FRI 26/10 – Oxford – The Wheatsheaf (JamCity Promotions)

SAT 27/10 – London – The Dev (The Dev+Church of Cat Promotions)

Bones of Minerva are quickly developing a reputation as one of the must-see acts of the Spanish metal scene, bringing something different both on record and onstage, and they are a band who are working tirelessly to get their music to everyone they can. Their eclectic sound aims to combine visceral and melodic elements; merging heavy riffs, hypnotic rhythms, ethereal passages and raw lyrics.

In the age of digital media, selling out all the hard copies of an album is no mean feat, and October 5th saw their debut Blue Mountains (Nooirax/La Rubia Productions) reissued in a special edition including two new tracks.

The four-piece consisting of Blue (vocals), Chloé (bass), Ruth (guitars) was formed in 2013, with Nerea (drums) joining the band in early 2018. Blue Mountains came out early last year, followed by crowdfunded deluxe vinyl edition at the beginning of 2018.

After a year which has seen them embark on two tours of Spain and shows in Sweden, recording single ‘Vehemence’ for the Spanish film Call TV and a shout out as one of the albums of the year by Bandera Negra (Radio 3 España) the band is now gearing up for their first European tour, starting later this month with their first UK dates.

The end goal? To take their music as far as possible, with everything to gain and nothing to lose.

‘Privilege’ is available to stream now on youtube, soundcloud and bandcamp.

Ritual Productions – 21st June 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s perhaps fitting that self-professed occultist doom collective Drug Cult should unveil their debut long-player to coincide with midsummer’s day and the solstice.

They open with a nine-minute sludge-trudge that’s bursting with the trappings of psychedelia and old-school hard rock: ‘Serpent Therapy’ starts so slow, with so much distance between each chord that it sounds like an ending, a protracted grinding to a halt, rather than the start. Yes, this is slow, and this is heavy. The guitars are close to collapsing under their own weight, and threaten to bury Aasha Tozer’s reverb-drowned vocals in the process. It’s the soundtrack to a bad trip into the underworld, and while there’s nothing of such epic proportions to be found during the remainder of the album’s nine tracks, the darkness remains all-pervasive.

There’s a classic, vintage quality to the songs, but it’s all sludged up, twisted and messy, and what the songs lack in duration (the majority are below the four-minute mark) they more than compensate in density. The riffs lumber slow, low, and heavy, the bass grinds just as slow and even lower: the percussion doesn’t propel, but instead lands in thunderous ricochets while the cymbals wash in tidal waves. In fact, it’s like listening to an early Melvins 45 at 33, save for the vocals, which never sound anything less than borderline deranged.

The sense of volume is immense, speaker-shredding, earth-shattering. And just when it doesn’t seem possible to drive any deeper, grind any lower, ‘Bloodstone’ reaches a new low in low, the essence of doom-laden hard rock riffing distilled to its absolute. The form is still apparent: Drug Cult don’t take it beyond the limits as Sunn O))) do, but against contemporaries like Esben and the Witch and Big Brave, Drug Cult stand out for their concision and their eschewing of passages of levity: this is unforgiving, ultra-heavyweight from beginning to end. As such, it’s a truly megalithic work. Worship it.

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Candlelight Records – 23rd February 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

Having caught Black Moth live early on, before the release of their debut, I’m in a position to attest just how far they’ve come and how much they’ve grown. And third album, Anatomical Venus shows their trajectory continues upwards and outwards: with each release, they’re bigger, and simply more.

If debut The Killing Jar was a rock-solid heavy rock album that revelled in the vintage riffery of Sabbath and its successor, Condemned to Hope was the sound of a band coming into their own and filing out their songs with heavier, denser chuggage, Anatomical Venues combines the strongest elements of its predecessors and brings an even harder, heavier edge, while at the same time bristling with even sharper hooks and stronger vocal melodies.

‘Buried Hoards’ blends grunge and goth to forge a dark grandeur, while the six-and-a-half-minute ‘Severed Grace’ finds Harriet bring a certain sneer and tantalisingly teasing edge to her delivery, which weaves its way around a serpentine lead guitar and super-dense bass throb. And across the album, Back Moth bring groove galore. Anatomical Venus leans toward the quicker tempo: ‘A Lovers Hate’ is less Sabbath and more Motörhead, a punk attitude informing the driving guitar-based assault. Compositionally, it’s stripped-back and simple, something that’s been core to Black Moth’s work from the outset: namely, that the riff is king. Front and centre, the riff. Simple, but effective, four chord workouts lie at the heart of most of the songs. In the world of both rock and pop, less is invariably more. Back Moth know this and exploit it well.

There’s no substitute for a beefy bit of guitar you can get your head down to. Not that they lack technical prowess: the solos are killer, but never overlong or excessively flamboyant. There’s simply no fat to be found on Anatomical Venus.

The album’s last track, ‘Pig Man’, lands somewhere between Lydia Lunch and Melvins, with a churning sludge metal riff and a sassy, semi-spoken verse… and noise. Cathartic, chaotic noise building to a climactic crescendo.

Black Moth’s strength has always been their knack for solid, hard rock that fundamentally plays to the rules – by which I mean, their focus has been quality over innovation. This is actually an admirable quality, because they’re a band who grasp what makes rock music rock. But Anatomical Venus sees the band extend their horizons, without losing sight of any of the qualities that made them in the first place. And in bringing everything all together, and making it tighter, tauter, and as dense and heavy as ever, Black Moth have delivered their strongest, most focused album to date.

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Black Moth - Anatomical Venus

Ripple Music – 19th January 2018

James Wells

Maybe it’s just me – and it’s quite possible – but many of the current crop of so-called doom-metal bands are pretty tame, and are little more than Sabbath-inspired hard rock bands lacking in inspiration and keen to jump on the metal zeitgeist of circa 2015.

I’m not intentionally singling out female-fronted doom acts, but I was recently appalled by Jess and the Ancient Ones for reasons which really ought to be apparent, and those reasons aren’t a million miles away from the anguish on being presented with Witchcryer’s latest offering.

Cry Witch is better, less cliché and less Jeffersone Airplane meets The Doors, which is a relief. A major fucking relief. But it’s still so steeped in cliché and heritage as so be not so much so last year and so ersatz retro bullshit and to be deeply uncomfortable. And it’s not especially doomy.

There are some ok riffs and the thumping bass embarks on some neat little runs, and the title track, which is also the opener makes for a strong enough start, and sonically, stylistically, it’s representative of the album as a whole. So what’s the problem? Actually, that’s precisely the problem. Against, say, Black Moth, who are also of a similar ilk Witchcryer sound tame, and while there’s not much different in the two band’s approaches, the lack of real bite could be forgiven if the hooks were sharper. But the preoccupation with mining the vintage seam has apparently eclipsed any quest to forge their own identity.

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Witchcryer – Cry Witch