Posts Tagged ‘Harsh’

9th September 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Brooklyn-based blood and gore and dark-fixated industrial metal act GLDN keep on mixing things up with their singular and innovative take on industrial / metal / electronica, and the first single released ahead of the upcoming album Hemophilia, released early October, is another genre-smashing blast of excitement.

At the start of the video, front man Nicholas Golden is wearing a minidress on a mock-up of a slightly fuzzy-looking VHS clip, and while in itself it’s not edgy, it’s both resourceful (can’t afford actors for your promo? Do it yourself) and parodic in setting a dystopian tone n a retro setting. The trouble with retro dystopias is that, as we’ve come to find the hard way, is that the projected future which is now the present is actually worse. 1984 no longer reads like fiction, but reportage. What do you actually do with that knowledge? How do you live with that grim realisation? You too could be the owner of an obelisk…

The lyrics pick at social media and Instagram perfection, and on reading the lyrics, I remember with a slow sinking feeling how I read on a daily basis in the tabloid media how professionals – nurses, teachers, name it – are taking to OnlyFans to make ends meet and in no time they’re quitting their stressful, shittily-paid dayjobs in favour of coining it in to pay off their mortgages:

Got no flaws, no imperfections

The unachievable is my new obsession

Can’t get enough, I’m never satisfied

I’ve got to whore myself out just to feel alive

‘I’d rather be dead than be irrelevant’, Golden concludes, and it’s a stark yet fair reflection: people crave the attention as much as the money, and the bottom line is that the system is fucked and society and culture is fucked.

Coming on like an electro-infused black metal cross between Placebo and Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails, ‘Suicide Machine’ finds GLDN in darkly abrasive form, peaking with a blistering climactic finale that’s utterly punishing. Bring the album.

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Art of Fact Records – 15th July 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

The second single lifted from the forthcoming album Null, due for release in September, is basalt slabs of rock-solid riffery of the kind KEN Mode are worshipped for by their fanbase – and deservedly so.

It crashes in hard, grinding low-end dominating, before the guitar splinters treble over the grumbling bass that drives the verse. Jesse Matthewson’s hard, shouted vocal style is savage, and the vocals sit fairly low in the mix; the splinters that do cut through are cutting ‘I’ve got / nothing more to say / You’ve got no reason to listen’. As the band put it, it’s ‘an existential crisis, set to music’, and ‘in Matthewson’s words, the song illustrates a turning point where one’s disappointment transforms into resignation.’ It all adds to the overall nihilistic force of this beast of a tune.

If both the production and the accompanying promo video serve to convey a sense of the band’s energy and sheer power live, then the UNSANE T-shirt Jesse’s wearing provides a fair reference point for this slice of sonic savagery. That said, it does signify a shift from predecessor, Loved (which still has one of the most memorable album covers of recent years). It’s a little less frenetic, less manic than, say, ‘He Doesn’t Feel Pain Like He Ought To’, and the sound is geared towards being denser, heavier rather than harsher. And it packs a mean punch alright.

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KEN mode will hit the road in September for a string of Canadian shows, followed by a headlining slot at No Coast Fest in Denton, TX, alongside Metz, Young Widows, and more. Stand by for news of more touring.

Sept 23 – Winnipeg, MB, CA @ The Good Will Social Club – w/ Vile Creature, Mares of Thrace

Sept 24 – Saskatoon, SK, CA @ Amigos Cantina – w/ Vile Creature, Mares of Thrace

Sept 25 – Calgary, AB, CA @ Palomino Smokehouse – w/ Vile Creature, Mares of Thrace

Sept 26 – Edmonton, AB, CA @ Starlite Room Temple – w/ Vile Creature, Mares of Thrace

Oct 30 – Denton, TX @ No Coast Fest – w/ Metz, Young Widows

Industrial band Panic Lift continues the unraveling of its themed EP release cycle with the band’s first release of 2022 titled Stitched.

This four song EP features two new songs titled ‘Every Broken Piece’ and ‘Bitter Cold’ with remixes from Mechanical Vein and Tragic Impulse.

Lyrically, “Every Broken Piece” and “Bitter Cold” continue with the familiar themes of stress, coping, and concerns of self-image. Hardcore Panic Lift fans may remember “Every Broken Piece” from Panic Lift’s lockdown shows in 2020 that were broadcast online during the height of the COVID19 Pandemic.

For Stitched, Panic Lift explores a harsh ebm sound more stylistically similar to their landmark debut record , Witness To Our Collapse. James Francis explains “I’ve always tried to find a happy medium between what I’m doing now, and where I started” he continues “but now that I’m doing smaller releases, I have the ability to experiment with different styles without having to worry much about how they fit with the rest of my catalog.”

Watch ‘Every Broken Piece’  here:

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Dret Skivor – 1st April 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Another month, another Dret release, and this one, their fifteenth, is from Dormir, a sound artist who lives on the island of Bornholm, near the Stavehøl Vandfald. It’s no April fool.

‘Under isen’ translates as ‘Under the ice’, and consists of two side-long tracks: ‘under isen ligger noget, du ikke kan lide’ (‘under the ice is something you do not like’, apparently) and ‘min indblanding er din afhængighed’ (‘my interference is your addiction’, according to Google translate. It sounds a little clunky, and is perhaps left in its native form,

‘under isen ligger noget’ is a suitably dark, dense blast sound that arrives on an arctic gust, scouring and scourging the bleakness of a whiteout landscape with a roar that strips away the senses with an elongated scrape of treble and a low, resonant booming like a ship’s horn, the sound lost adrift in a blizzard of impenetrable static. It’s disorientating, bewildering. You do, truly, feel surrounded, encased in sound, and if anything has ever recreated the harrowing experience of the time I was caught in a blizzard on top of a mountain in the Lake District and unable to gain any sense of my location in order to navigate down, it’s this. It was one of the most terrifying and traumatic experiences of my life, so suffice it to say, listening to this is something of a challenge on a personal level. It never ends, and you fear there is absolutely no way out. The tone and pitch has barely any variation over the duration; just additional elements thrown into the blistering vortex. It’s not strictly Harsh Noise Wall, but it is a wall of harsh noise that leaves you feeling buffeted, pulverised, punished.

If you’re hoping for something more gentle on the flipside, ‘min indblanding er din afhængighed’ is likely to disappoint: it’s more noise, only this time louder and denser and dirtier, not so much the sound of a blizzard but a washing machine on a spin cycle as it slowly breaks down, as recorded using a microphone thrown into the drum. It grinds and churns, thrums and throbs and swirls, it clatters, clanks and gurgles and swashes along, everything overloaded and distorted. In contrast to side one, it’s a more overtly rhythmic piece that positively pulsates, a dark heart pulsing beneath the eye-wavering curtain of static that crackles and fizzes. But there’s nothing soothing about this rythmicality, and you sure as hell can’t dance to it: it’s like having a wire connected to a battery prod your temple twice a second for almost twenty minutes; it leaves you feeling absolutely fucking fried. But it’s worth it.

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Cool Thing – 18th February 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Hot on the heels of their explosive return with ‘Drama Drama Drama Drama’, BAIT continue the assault with the delivery of ‘My Tribe’, off their eagerly-anticipated long-player, Sea Change.

Pitched as ‘the voice of pandemic anxiety’, Michael Webster explains that “’My Tribe’ was written at the very beginning of the pandemic when none of us knew what the fuck was going on. It got me thinking about survival and protecting my family from the unknown. There’s reference to primal activities in contrast to the mundane activities taken up to pass time during isolation.”

This encapsulates the contradictions of the early days of the pandemic: the confusion, the fear, the panic, the sheer bewilderment and sense of ‘what the fuck?’ as the guidance changed daily and we were told to work from home and batten down the hatches: the number of times we heard and read the word ‘unprecedented’ was unprecedented’ – far more so than the pandemic itself. No-one knew how to react, because no-one really knew what they were even reacting to, really.

Clocking in at almost four minutes, it’s one of BAIT’s longer efforts, and it’s driven – as has rapidly become established as their style – but a thick, snarling, repetitive riff in the vein of Killing Joke, and the comparisons don’t end there, given their sociopolitical leanings. In short, it continues the trajectory of their eponymous mini-album debut, and cements everything harder, denser than before, and then veers off into hard technoindustrial that’s more the domain of KMFDM and the like for the final minute.

Tackling isolation and the internal conflicts so many of us suffered, it’s angry, but in no specific direction – because who do you direct that anger at? Some of it goes inwardly, of course, wrestling with feelings of insecurity and inadequacy, while some of it goes outwards and into the air because fuck shit, life just isn’t fair. Why here? Why now? Just why? That sense of helplessness and frustration pervades every moment of anger and anguish, and it’s almost as if BAIT were a band ready-made for the pandemic.

But while it may feel like ‘Merry Easter, Covid’s Over’ may be a tune for the coming months, it’s readily apparent that the psychological repercussions of the last two years will be long-lasting for many. The social divisions that became raw gaping wounds through Brexit have only become more pronounced, as people have become more entrenched and seemingly harbour more violent feelings towards others, and on-line aggressions have begun to manifest in an upsurge in the ugliest behaviours since people have been allowed to get back out there. Something is awry, and the world is dark and more fucked-up than ever. This, seemingly, was the plan all along: divide and conquer. This is not some conspiracy theory, it’s not about some ‘plandemic’; it’s an opportunistic power-grab by governments following a neat-global shift to the right. They want people to be scared, and, as it happens, people have reason to be scared – jut not necessarily the reason it seems on the face of it.

‘Keep them occupied / lock them up inside’ is a neat summary of how things have been managed. They slide in the line ‘Under his eye’, and while they may have been bingeing on Netflix, the totalitarian regime of The Handmaid’s Tale seems a lot closer to home now: we are living in the midst of almost every dystopia ever penned made real.

BAIT have got the soundtrack down, they’re both the reassurance that you’re not alone in feeling what you feel, as well as the articulation of the painful truth. And they’re kicking ass all the way.

 

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Forged in the fires of the East Coast underground music scene in the 90s, experimental Hip Hop pioneers, Union City, NJ-based duo Dälek has spent decades carving out a unique niche fusing hardcore Hip Hop, noise and a radical approach to sound. Their brutal sonic temperament pushes rap music’s capacity for noise and protest to some exhilarating conclusions.

Following in the footsteps of their predecessors Public Enemy while drawing from influences as varied as My Bloody Valentine and German experimentalists Faust, Dälek have succeeded in adding completely new textural and structural dimensions to rap music.

A visceral and powerful live act, Dälek spent over a decade touring and bringing their raucous and blistering performances to audiences around the world. During this time they toured with and supported a wide range of acts in the Hip Hop, Rock, Metal, and Experimental genres including Flying Lotus, De La Soul, TOOL, The Melvins, Grandmaster Flash, Pharcyde, Fantomas, KRS One and The Bug.

For their latest and eighth album, Precipice, Dälek unleashes a work that is practically bristling with fury and power. Arriving on April 29th via Ipecac Recordings. Predominantly the work of the core duo, Will Brooks, aka MC Dälek and Mike Manteca (Mike Mare), Precipice features a guest appearance of Adam Jones of Tool on one of the album’s tracks. The band has enlisted Paul Romano (Mastodon) for the striking cover art, and the packaging features the art of Mikel Elam.

Today Dälek are sharing a video for the brickyard boom-bap track ‘Decimation (Dis Nation)’ which was directed by Brooks and can be viewed here:

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Initiated before the outbreak of COVID-19, the group briefly put Precipice on hold before returning to inject a newer, more dynamic energy into the album’s songs. The result is a timely work, that is teaming with immediacy.

Precipice was a completely different record pre-pandemic.” MC Dälek explains. “We had been working on the sketch of what the album was going to be at the end of 2019. I think me and (Mike) Manteca had narrowed it down to 17 joints out of the 46 or so that we had started with. Me and Joshua Booth had taken the 17 and really fleshed out the joints. The idea was to bounce them back to Mike and then arrange and write lyrics. 2020 obviously had different plans for everybody. We basically put everything on hold. I ended up doing the MEDITATIONS series that year on my own. I think the catharsis of that project, its rawness, the pandemic, all the death, the social upheaval, everything that went down… when I went back and listened to what we had down… it just wasn’t right anymore, it wasn’t strong enough, it wasn’t heavy enough, it wasn’t angry enough. It just didn’t say what I needed it to say.

With Precipice, Dälek have once again tapped into the heartbeat of the day and used that energy to create a vital statement about the world we live in. Continuing in the long tradition of revolutionary Hip Hop, Precipice builds new cadences born out of tumultuous times.

After decades of challenging and expanding the sonic fabric of Hip Hop itself, giving way to new approaches and possibilities, Dälek is set to take their rightful place as one of the culture’s true innovators.

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Photo Credit: MICHAEL PATRAS

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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Iranian groove metal/hardcore band Confess describe themselves as a “five-piece street protest”. It’s not a figure of speech: Nikan Khosravi (vocals/guitar) and Arash Ilkhani (DJ/Sampler) have experienced political persecution first-hand. Theband’s upcoming album “Revenge at All Costs” is a cry of outrage in the form of chunky down-tuned riffs marinated in the Norwegian winter.

The journey started in junior high school in Tehran when Nikan got a CD from a classmate. It contained music videos by metal bands from the 90s and 2000s. "I was fascinated by the sound of the genre," he states. "Ever since this music has been the centre of my life." Nikan and Arash started the band as
teenagers in 2010, releasing their first album "Beginning of Dominion" in 2012. Their early sound gravitated towards old-school death metal and 90s hardcore, always with some grooviness to it.

Nikan started his own label "Opposite Records" in 2014. Up until now, this could sound like the story of any European band. But change the context and being a metal musician in Iran could mean anything from government surveillance to execution. Arrest and prison followed the release of the band’s second album
In Pursuit of Dreams in 2015. This led to the pair being arrested and facing execution on charges of blasphemy in one of Iran’s harshest prisons.

Fast forward to 2018, when both Nikan and Arash obtained refugee status in Norway. Confess started experimenting with seven strings and adding modern death metal sounds. But the groovy headbanging spirit of their musical DNA is very much alive. Confess has played in public without fear of repercussions ever since. After several concerts in Norway, their latest milestone has been opening for Mayhem at Festspillene i Nord.

As a taster for the 2022 album ‘evenge at all Costs, they’ve given us ‘Ransom Note.’ Watch ‘Ransom Note’ here:

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1st December 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Do you ever feel that the problems facing humanity right now are of our own making? That the phrase ‘scum of the earth’ applies to humanity as a whole, because we as a species have simply fucked everything up beyond all repair? Because the simple fact is, we have. What other creature destroy its own habitat as well as those of nearly all others? Parasites seek to achieve symbiosis with their host; viruses mutate to become more transmissible but less fatal; the aim is not to kill its host but to thrive and expand. Mankind is worse than parasitic, the most brutal virus that evolves slowly and in ways which are counterintuitive, namely to exhaust its host. Where do we actually go from here? The prospect of inhabiting Mars with colonies because we’ve fucked up the world we were born to seems beyond insane.

The shock-factor-monikered Skat Injector are – as you’d likely expect – upfront in their positioning, pitched as serving up ‘Grindcore-inspired speedcore and a diatribe of anti-human propaganda because that’s what we deserve for what we’ve become.’ They have a deep sense of self-loathing and misanthropy, and it’s abundantly cleat on this dehumanised, inhuman blasting racket that’s dark, deep, glitchy, subterranean, demonic, wrecked on every level.

They rail against ‘Willful [sic] ignorance, habitat loss, animal abuse, global ecocide, global warming, environmental pollution, overpopulation and many other attributes of a leeching narcissistic race which needs to live within its bounds’. They shouldn’t have to; this is how life should work.

On Bled Under A Burning Sky, Skat Injector pound and rage and rage and pound, as grating, raw-threated vocals spit, snarl, and grind against a backdrop of frenzies percussion. The lyrics aren’t always – or often – decipherable, but the sentiment is clear.

‘All Tomorrow’s Genocides’ is like a grindcore Prurient, with soft, spindly synths slowly spinning misty swirls of fear chords around pulverizing drill-like beats. Explosive doesn’t come close to a fitting description.

‘An Earth Cleansed with Flame’ goes full harsh electro and is straight up Chis and Cosey trance backing, at least at first, manifesting as aggressive dance with harsh vocals, while the six-minute ‘The Future Sound of Suffering’ brings the suffering and it’s painful in its crunching brutality. ‘Vanishes Rapidly’ is constructed around explosive dynamics, and flips from near ambience to the firing of an AK-47 directly into the ear. It’s brutal and it’s savage, but also very much the ultimate expression of the industrial era, and ‘Obsidian Dawn’ only amplifies and intensifies. It fucking hurts.

The album is dominated by beats so hard and fast they sound like drills and nail guns, this is industrial and its hardest and most industrial, the sonic equivalent of applying a power drill on hammer setting to the eyeball.

At almost fifty-two minutes, it packs a lot of firepower, a lot of punch – so much so that it leases you panting and pounded – in a good way, of course, assuming you have at least a faintly masochistic streak and appreciate music that’s as much about testing your endurance as it is coaxing and massaging the pleasure zones with a battering ram and a taser simultaneously.

The second CD – another fifty-three minutes – of instrumental and extended versions of the album’s tracks is certainly not one for the passing listener or casual fan, and it’s perhaps not essential even for moderate fans, although the nine-minute extended version of the title track is certainly a nice pain-inflicting bonus.

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Nim Brut – 19th November 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

The hardest battles are those against yourself: they’re perpetually self-defeating and at the same time impossible to win. A duelling duality creates the core dynamic of Rejection Ops. The Leeds-based duo’s bio describes them as ‘a drummer and bass-and-electronics player who sound like each is trying to outdo the other at driving audiences from the room’, presenting a scene of duality and conflict, and this document of that internal tension was captured in its rawest form, namely self-recorded on a Zoom recorder during May 2021, so no engineering panache or highly-detailed production values here, no layering, multitracking, or overdubs. And it’s a mangled, gnarly mess of noise from beginning to end. It’ sets your teeth on edge, it makes your organs vibrate. It makes you feel tense, and grind your teeth. And these are the reasons to love it, because it has impact. It’s not some comfortable background work, and it’s not even songs that drift into your ears and lodge softly but with longevity. Rejection Ops vs. Rejection Ops is pre-emptive revenge for something you may do, and it’s going to punish you hard for it.

The first track, ‘Agendas Vary’ is a squall of feedback and overloading noise pitched against a tempest of thunderous drumming, and it does that free jazz thing of sounding like the climactic finale of an epic set without there having been the epic set preceding it. As such, it’s seven minutes of ear-bleeding, cranium-crushing chaos that doesn’t go anywhere, but then isn’t intending to.

‘Atomic Basketry’, the album’s longest track at almost eight minutes in duration, ratchets up the noise and almost buries the percussion beneath a blistering squall of screaming noise, a tidal wave of treble, a deluge of distortion. Blistering electronic noise, a bowel-shredding harsh noise wall splatters against arrhythmic clattering.

Thereafter, the form shifts away from expansive and exploratory towards brief blasts of mangled abrasion, every one faster and harder and wilder and more off the wall. Guitars thrashed hard splinter in a mesh of treble while the drums pop like bubblewrap. ‘Heeding Tartan’ is particularly abrasive, two-and-a-half minutes of metal-scraping, crunching, white hot molten noise, and ‘Raging Ninepin’ rages hard, so hard it blisters and peels and pulverises the grey matter to the point of near liquefication. The drums ricochet hard and fast like machine gun fire through ‘Rat Pie’, which snarls and crackles hard, but it’s all just a prep for the sonic blitzkrieg of the final cut, ‘Soon Learned’. Even sooner remember earplugs would be the advice, because this absolutely fucking hurts. Again, it’s three and a half minutes of everything all at once, only here, it’s the head-shredding crescendo climax it sounds like, rather than just some avant jazz end without a start.

By the time it’s over, you feel battered, bruised, drained, but also buzzed and exhilarated. The purpose of art is not to entertain, but to challenge, to arouse the senses. Rejection Ops certainly challenge – not only the listener, but themselves and one another, to create a stupendously intense experience.

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