Posts Tagged ‘Hardcore’

Christopher Nosnibor

Arriving at gigs in Leeds drenched is becoming not so much a habit as the norm for me by the looks of things. But unlike recent jaunts across the border to West Yorkshire, where I was caught in torrential precipitation, we’re in the middle of a heatwave. The humidity is off the scale, it’s rammed like a cattle freighter, and I’m not convinced the air conditioning is functioning in the vestibule I find myself standing. Consequently, I disembark with my shirt completely saturated ahead of what I know will be a warm gig in Leeds’ best venue for all things metal. And hot on the heels of Thou and Moloch on the same bill, tonight’s is another absolutely killer lineup.

Things are off to an abrasive start with harsh electronic duo Soft Issues. Gnarly electronic noise fizzes from the PA before hammering beats kick in. Samples fire off all over between the distorted, pain-filled screaming vocals and they’re switching patch-leads with mechanical precision as the mess of treble and pulsating lower-range synth oscillations grind forth. It’s relentless, repetitive, and brutally industrial, and there may be hints of NIN but this is way, way harsher, the obliterative wall of anguish-filled noise closer to Prurient than anything. It hurts.

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Soft Issues

Whipping Post’s goatee-sporting bassist may be wearing an REM T-Shirt, but there’s no Shinny Happy People vibe here. He churns out some strong, strolling basslines that provide the solid foundations for some gritty hardcore racket reminiscent of Touch and Go’s early 90s roster. Theirs is a sound that’s nicely angular, dirty, and dense, with lurching rhythms and no shortage of attack.

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Whipping Post

If things are already warm (and I’m so grateful cans of Scrumpy Jack are only £2.50 as I’m sweating it out faster than I can drink it), then co-headliners Bad Breeding really turn up the heat, blasting in at 150 miles per hour with their brand of raging grindy hardcore. A band whose album liner notes and essays posted on their website reference Mark Fisher and American Psycho while dissecting the politics of Brexit while substantiating points with figures on GDP and a host of verifiable statistics, there’s some qualifiable intellect beyond the blizzards of rage they spew out on stage. And the force with which they do it is monstrously intense and gives rise to some energetic – but extremely well-natured – moshing. And yet again, I’m reminded that the nicest audiences are to be found at the most extreme shows.

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Bad Breeding

For a number, Bad Breeding are the headliners, and fair play. They were storming, and moreover, Uniform are a whole other kind of intense nasty. Their debut, Wake in Fright was a non-stop shoutfest with a pounding drum machine and raw, ragged guitar assault fused into a nightmarish sensory overload. The Long Walk added live drums to the mix, but in retaining that raw, unproduced approach, the sound didn’t change radically, but instead stepped things up a notch. So this was a band I’d been absolutely busting to see live.

And fucking hell, they know how to deliver. Perhaps it’s because the studio work has a live, immediate feel that on stage they replicate it so well – only with the added bonus of being able to see the sweat and the whites of their eyes from the front rows of a venue like this. The set explodes with ‘The Walk’, and it’s nothing short of devastating. Bloody, brutal, raw, it excavates the depths of nihilism and paranoia. They burn straight into ‘Human Condition’, the album’s second track, and it’s pulverising: everything’s overloading, and Michael Berdan’s wide-eyed, rage-spewing delivery is as menacing as hell. Everything blurs and melts with the heat and the blistering intensity of Uniform’s wall of noise. To complain it’s a bit one-key is to miss the point completely: Uniform savagely drive at that seem of gnarly, shouty rage that takes the template of snotty punk and distils it into something that’s so potent it could make you want to puke.

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Uniform

They piledrive home the end of a scorching and frankly punishing set with – I think – a brutal rendition of ‘Alone in the Dark’. I’m already lost. There’s no encore and we filter out. I’m drained, a husk, and so, so happy.

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Ipecac Recordings – 26th October 2018

The title of Daughters’ fourth full-length is perhaps self-explanatory. It’s certainly going to not appeal to a lot of people. Most people, in fact. The first track, ‘Cities’ is a grinding dirge driven by a grimy, oppressive low-end throb and crashing percussion that’s reminiscent of early Swans and that plods along for five minutes or so before exploding into a supernova f brain-drilling noise. And then things start getting really ugly.

‘Long Road No Turns’ lurches into truly horrible discord, the atonal semi-monotone vocal pitched against a screeding metallic noise and pumping heartbeat drum that breaks into manic chaos, but somehow ends up with a gentle harpsichord strum to fade. And you’re left staring into space, tense, heartrate accelerated, wondering just what the actual fuck you just heard. This is precisely the album’s appeal. It’s spectacularly unpredictable, and spectacularly noisy, but also impressively articulate in musical terms.

By contrast, ‘Satan in the Wait’ is a mote structured and melodic affair, with picked notes and loping drums building to well-placed crescendos. It’s still a bleak noise-orientated construction, but the slanted Am Rep / T&G influenced racket is coloured with a strain of Bauhaus-like art rock. And Daughters aren’t afraid to experiment: the low-slung sleaze of ‘Less Sex’ is altogether more electronic in its persuasion, a deliberate beat underpinning a deep, dark bass oscillation and big ruptures of racket on top by way of punctuation. It’s low and slow and inches into bleak technoindustrial territory. And yet it sits remarkably comfortably within the overall shape of the album. Comfortable is of course relative.

For the most part, though, it’s a blistering frenzy of angular, guitar-driven noise that sits with the best of The Jesus Lizard, Shellac, Blacklisters with the howling mania of ‘Guest House’ proving a lurching, awkward standout. ‘Let me in!’ Alexis Marshall hollers, deranged.

‘Daughter’ is also exemplary when it comes to the band’s dark, dingy genre-straddling noise, incorporating elements of both electro-based industrial doom-disco and jagged: it’s a monster tempest of difficult noise that’s hard to place and even harder to contain or categorise. The vocals, manic, clean but with the edges fuzzed by distortion; the bass, low, dirty, distorted and thick, the drums gritty and overloading…. And so on.

‘The Reason They Hate Me’ is a thunderous, blistering standout that invited favourable comparisons to Pissed Jeans’ recent work, while the lumbering lurch of seven-and-a-half minute closer melds 90s noise rock, Pavement-inspired wonkiness, and The Fall’s bloody-minded bludgeoning of just two or three chords into oblivion for an eternity. Likewise the taut, nagging ‘Ocean Song’ that exploits not only quiet / loud dynamics to full and challenging effect, but also pushes minimal chords and maximum dissonance to achieve optimal tension and discomfort.

You Won’t Get What You Want isn’t an album that leaves you feeling satisfied. Restless, twitchy, uncomfortable, on edge, yes, drained and even ruined, but satisfied, less likely.

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Daughters – You Won’t Get What You Want

James Wells

You’d never guess that this York-based band was hardcore, with a name like Rotting Monarchs. ‘Disorder’ isn’t a Joy Division cover, but a self-penned slab of churning, bile-brimming noise that comes off the back of last year’s debut EP and provides a flavour of their debut album, also entitled Disorder, set for release next year.

It’s 2:22 of trebly, shouty, full-tilt abrasion. It’s not pretty, and it’s not technical: instead, it slams in at a hundred miles an hour, fiery and full-throated, pissed off and petulant, and with a simple, hollering chant of the title by way of a refrain, it’s got a vintage punk vibe: uncomplicated, antagonistic, sloganeering. Its primitivism is much of its appeal: it’s direct, an uncomplicated shout of dissatisfaction.

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Rotting Monarchs

Christopher Nosnibor

If you look up scarily intense in the dictionary, you’ll probably find a picture of Olga, the dynamo shouter who fronts Russian hardcore punks Svetlanas.

The three strong supports have already done a decent job of getting the crowd warmed up. First up, Weekend Recovery have been touring hard in support of their debut album, and seem at ease in the intimate venue. Kicking off with a punchy rendition of the hooky ‘Turn it Up’ and signing off with a driving romp through the power pop of ‘Why Don’t You Love Me’, they deliver a neat tour of the album. Lauren’s in good voice, the band are tight, and the grunge heft of the album’s title track, ‘Get What You Came For’, is a clear standout.

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Weekend Recovery

Jaded Eyes and bring sheer, snarling fury and immense, brutal density. They crank things up several notches in terms of volume, too. There’s no pretence. There’s nothing showy. Just full-on, balls-out, aggressive punk, the songs played hard, fast and packed back to back with no let-up. Hardcore the way it should be.

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Jaded Eyes

Brazilian female-fronted three-piece Yer Mum don’t exactly go easy on the ears, either: packing some dirty, low-slung riffage worthy of Fudge Tunnel, theirs is a hefty, dense sound. There’s pace and energy to their full-throttle grungy punk attack, and my notes – appear to reference Nymphs and L7, although I wouldn’t necessarily trust my notes as they’re scrawly and very sparse – I was too busy watching the band. This is the main reason to go and watch live music, after all, and we always hope for those moments where the experience envelops us and everything else, all the bubble and froth of thought about work, life, and all the rest, is pushed out of the frame in favour of the moment.

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Yer Mum

Svetlanas achieve this, and then some. The band are mighty in the noise they produce, but it’s Olga who provides the focal point. Compelling would be an appropriate adjective for her performance, but fails to convey the fact that you watch the set with your eyes glued to her because you fear for what may happen if you don’t pay attention. She’s an incendiary force, and what she lacks in stature she makes up thousandfold with her fiery energy: the kineticism is exhilarating and exhausting. But it’s all in the eyes: the wild, wide eyes that she sticks right in people’s faces as she jerks and flails her way through the crowd. There’s mania and danger in those eyes. Paired with the pulverising sonic blast that explodes from the PA, Svetlanas live are the very definition of intense.

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Svetlanas

20th December 2017

There’s something uniquely enjoyable about watching a band develop from their most formative stages to become the act they aspired to be, and showed the potential to be. I first encountered Seep Away on a bill of noisy shit around Christmas in 2015, soon after they came into existence.

They describe their sound as ‘raw and punkish,’ and not that ‘there’s not too much melody, a lot of anger and a tonne of noise’. Their performance was ragged, and it was clear they were very much in development, both musically and as an act. But the sheer passion and raw energy they poured into that set was something else. They would stop and gasp for breath between songs, having played each one like it was the last song they would ever play.

Over the course of the next two years, they didn’t just get better, they got awesome. Tighter, louder, harder, harsher. Jay Sillence swiftly evolved into one of the most compelling front men you could hope to see: fearlessly in your face, anarchic and unpredictable, and it was clear watching them play that they were loving every minute.

It’s therefore sad that The Blackened Carnival of Societal Ineptitude is a parting gesture. But it’s also a cause for elation that they’re signing off with a collection of songs that encapsulate the sound – not to mention the brutal, ferocious, energy of those later live shows. Circumstance and geography may be behind the band’s demise, but better that than acrimony or creative collapse, and they’re departing on a high. The Blackened Carnival of Societal Ineptitude contains eight tracks and clocks in at around twenty-two minutes and condenses all elements of the essence of Seep Away into that.

‘Rot’ is all about the churning, pulverizing riffage, the ribcage-rattling bass and snarling vocal attack. For dingy, murky, metal-done-dirty, it’s up here with Fudge Tunnel at their best. Single cut ‘Matchstick Man’ throbs and rages. Their rendition of Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s Shimmy Shimmy Ya’ has long been alive favourite, and the studio version captures the spirit of their interpretation perfectly. You’ll be leaping round the house hollering ‘baby I like it rrrrrrrrrrroooooaaaaawwwwww!’ for a week after hearing it just once.

The album’s second cover, a take on Minnie Riperton’s ‘Loving You’ sees Sillence come on full Marilyn Manson, and they ratchet up the sneering sleaze to eleven. It’s a showy, metallic-grinding wheeze, brimming with sadistic malice. It’s also a sackful of deliciously manic and suitably irreverent fun.

‘Joie de Vivre’ returns to the snarling, churning, grunt and chug of the heavy grindy / metal / hardcore amalgam that defines the band’s sound, and it’s hard-edged and gnarly in the best possible way. It packs in all of the band’s intensity and full-throttle attack into under four minutes (and is the longest track here).

Closing the album (EP. whatever) in quirky and irreverent style, ‘The Awkward Handjob’ is a piece of silly fairground japery about, er, wanking, of course. It’s fitting that of any band, Seep Away should end their all-too-brief career with a toss-off track about tossing off.

Instead of bemoaning unfulfilled potential or mourning their departure, we should focus on the positive: Seep Away have delivered a blinder of a set here.

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Seep Away - Blackened

With the album No Cure For Death incoming via Southern Lord next month, the label have unveiled the opening track from the second album by SECT. With ‘Open Grave’, the North American straightedge/vegan hardcore/crust group go all-out on the gnarly nastiness.

Southern Lord will release No Cure For Death on CD, LP, and digital formats on November 24th.

Get your lugs round all 1:20 of the brutality that is ‘Open Grave’ here:

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