Posts Tagged ‘Heavy’

17th October 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Sometimes, a track just slaps you round the face in just a matter of bars and it’s an instant grab. It’s not always possible to pinpoint what it is that’s got you by the throat in those mere seconds, but sometimes, it’s simply everything – and that’s the case for ‘Mr Obsanity’, the debut single, from London / Norway trio Borderline Toxic, who’ve come stumbling out of lockdown with all the rage and a new band on their hands, proving tat when it comes to creativity and collaboration, geography is no obstacle. If / when it comes to operating as a live unit, it may, but for now, let’s focus on the matter at hand – that of this release.

It tears from the speakers with a ball-bustingly weighty riff with grating distortion all over it. If the intro is pure sludge, then things fizz all the harder when the vocals arrive, all punky sass as they swipe hard at powerful figures who swing around casual misogyny racism like it’s ok – and it’s not.

‘Obsanity’ is one of those compound words – of which I am a fan, I have to admit – that had somehow bypassed me, and so I had to look it up to find that the definition, as noted way back in 2004, is ‘foul language uttered by an insane person’. And without naming names – just as the band don’t name names – the song’s targets are at best thinly veiled, but in rendering the lyrics non-explicit, they become applicable on a wider scale. It’s not just high profilers who this applies to: we all know at least one or two of these types in person, at work, on social media, and you find yourself thinking, shut up. I really don’t need to listen to this shit.

Settling into a lumbering groove, ‘Mr Obsanity’ really kicks ass, and we need more of this.

Borderline Toxic Artwork

Rotherham based three-piece, sludge band Swamp Coffin will return on 26th November with the colossal new album Noose Almighty on UK label APF Records. It’s an incredibly cathartic record covering depression, trauma, grief, betrayal and a general disenchantment with the world. Vocalist/guitarist Jon Rhodes explains,

"Something not a lot of people know is the day that we were due to travel to London to record our 2017 demo me and my wife were woken up at 2:30am by the police to tell us her brother had been killed in a car accident. When we eventually got in to the studio a month later it made that demo session all the more emotional as he and I we were close, he’d always been a big music lover and I was gutted I never got to share any of this with him. 9 months after his death we had a housefire that left me and my family without a home for 6 months so the two events were massively influential’.

For the recording of ‘Noose Almighty’ the band returned to Top Floor Audioworks in Sheffield to again work with Owen Claxton who recorded, mixed and mastered their previous record.

Recorded in only three days, the band had rehearsed the material to death beforehand so they could record efficiently and more importantly leave time for their usual ‘mad experimentation’ and layering which takes a record from being great to something truly special.

‘Welcome To Rot’ is the first single to be shared from the album. Jon adds, "When we were close to finishing writing the album I remember saying to the other guys that we needed something incredibly nasty and horrible to finish the record with. Welcome To Rot came together really quickly and fit the bill perfectly. In the words of Owen Claxton, who recorded the album, “It’s fucking gross”.

The title is inspired by our hometown and lyrically it’s about overcoming that claustrophobia that seems to affect all dying towns. There’s that mentality that things were always better in the good old days when in reality everything has been slowly falling apart for years, shops and houses are boarded up and only those that can’t go anywhere else are left behind. It may be a shithole, but it’s a shithole we’re proud to have come from. Filming the video DIY style in a cramped, filthy barrel store under a pub seemed like a fitting location."

Watch the video here:

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Panurus Productions – 1st October 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s a cliché to say ‘I don’t know where the time goes’, and it’s often, if not an outright lie, then at least somewhat disingenuous. Between dayjob work, school runs, cooking, other domestic chores, gigs, occasional TV, and writing reviews, it’s pretty obvious to me and most people who know me where my time goes. I know where my time goes. This doesn’t make it less of an issue. The fact I’ve been chipping away at this particular review for days, even weeks, adding a few words here and there, is testament to the time-deficient lifestyle. I can’t even quote remember where I was going at the start of this by the time of the finishing point, but ultimately, I suppose the point is that time is something that is ephemeral, fleeting, something of which we’re all too often acutely aware and are in thrall to and yet at the same time, it is simply a construct by which to structure our existences.

This split release on Newcastle cassette label Panurus Productions promises ‘two sides of bleak catharsis on this transatlantic split from Petrine Cross and Tower of Filargyria.’ And that is precisely what it delivers, with three tracks from each artist, both of whom scour the depths of darkness in contrasting and complimentary ways.

Black metal may have relatively modern origins in musical term, but its murky invocations speak of something altogether more ancient, and Petrine Cross has a way of transcending time and genre, taking the standard tropes and merging them with atmospherics so dark and dank as to blur to near-ambience. The muffled production values which are core to the genre are something not only embraced here, but utilised to create a distancing and a sense of ‘otherness’: this isn’t drums, guitars, vocals, it’s a dense wall of sound that envelops your entire being, and smothers the senses, stifling, suffocating, like a cloud of mustard gas.

There’s a point near the end of ‘Sobriquet’ where everything simply erupts into an explosive crescendo that hits like a bomb, and the sound is like mud, dirt, rocks and splintered body parts – being splattered in all directions from an immense crater. You’ve no idea of the song’s lyrics or real meaning, only the impact of this devastating moment. But there’s light. The third and final PC cut, ‘The Grecian Bend’ seems to offer glimmers from amidst the murk, with some delicate wisps and washes of sound. There’s a rare subtlety and delicacy about this that resonates on a subconscious level.

Tower of Filargyria, apparently referencing ‘the medieval term meaning love of money or silver, rail against their monumental namesake, produce three tracks of sample laden anti-capitalist black metal’. We have to take this on trust, of course, as what this manifests as is a blistering assault of guitars so trebly they hurt and snarling vocals with so much reverb everything clangs into a mesh of noise, the drums thumping away somewhere low in the mix like a pillow thwocking around in a washing machine.

Samples of lectures and speeches dissecting the beast of capitalism abound, and the semi-ambient opening to the third and final ToF track, the eleven-and-a-half-minute ‘Capitalfascist State Apparatus’ (no question about the sentiment / agenda there) works particularly well in the way it draws the listener in – which makes the ‘metal’ section all the more disappointing, being quieter, and of a very different sound quality. It feels more like a demo than a finished take – but for that, it’s true to black metal production values, and it’s one of those songs that gets better as it goes on, and builds and builds to a roaring crescendo of howled, raw-throated vocals and thundering percussion amidst a squall of guitars and feedback. It’s a real whorl of noise and comes on full-throttle, and this – THIS – is the release. It’s been a long time in coming.

Catharsis is hard to beat, but the downside is that it’s often hard to know how to manage the drop, the slump which follows – and it inevitably does. This split release is all the catharsis, and it’s one the listener can project onto and draw inwards from. It has immense (dark) force: the only slump is for the listener on the realisation that after forty-five minutes of immersion in the gnarliest, most painful depths of anguish, it’s over.

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Today industrial trail blazers Uniform have announced their return overseas. They’ll embark on a 27 date run across the UK and Europe in Spring 2022 with Pinkish Black along for support. In anticipation of this and their upcoming U.S. tour – their first since the release of the lauded 2020 heavy-hitter, Shame – they have released a new video, “The Shadow of God’s Hand"

Vocalist Michael Berdan explains, “The central theme behind ‘The Shadow of God’s Hand’ are the inherent contradictions present in conventional Christianity. I was brought up with this idea of ‘act right or you’re going to hell.’ I’ve listened to family members as they worried themselves to tears over the fate of a loved one’s soul. To me, the concept of a punitive God is antithetical to the comfort I derive from a spiritual practice. Does God serve to comfort or chastise? Does following Christ’s teachings serve to create a kinder, more equitable world or have those teachings become so perverted that they simply stand as tools of control? For many, there is a fine line in their belief structure between salvation and damnation. This song attempts to touch on these paradoxes.”

Watch the video, directed by John Bradburn here:

UNIFORM UK/EU SPRING 2022 (TICKETS)

05/04: Budapest, HUN – Aurora

06/04: Brno, CZ – Kabinet Muz

07/04: Wien, AT – Chelsea

08/04: Innsbruck, AT – PMK

09/04: Winterthur, CH – Gaswerk

10/04: Geneva, CH – Cave 12

12/04: Lille, FR – La Malterie

13/04: Paris, FR – Supersonic

14/04: London, UK – Electrowerkz

15/04: Manchester, UK – The White Hotel

16/04: Newcastle, UK – The Cluny

17/04: Glasgow, UK – Audio

18/04: Nottingham, UK – The Chameleon Arts

19/04: Ramsgate, UK – Ramsgate Music Hall

20/04: Brussels, BE – Botanique

23/04: Leipzig, DE – Soltmann

24/04: Berlin, DE – Kantine Berghain

26/04: Copenhagen, DK – Loppen

27/04: Goteborg, SWE – Skjulet

28/04: Stockholm, SWE – HUS7

30/04: St. Petersburg, RUS – Serdce

01/05: Moscow, RUS – Bumazhnaya Fabrika

02/05: Tallinn, EST – Sveta Baar

03/05: Riga, LV – DEPO

04/05: Vilnius, LI – XI20

06/05:  Warsaw, PL – Chmury

07/05: Prague, CZ – Underdogs

All shows w/ Pinkish Black

Oakland post-metal greats Kowloon Walled City have released a new track, ‘Oxygen Tent’.

Since their formation the band has been in a continuous cycle of refinement, gradually peeling away layers of grit and distortion to forge a singular vision of heavy music — yielding a pair of critically acclaimed albums along the way; Container Ships and Grievances.

The new song, their first in six years, distils things even further as the band continues into a new era of their career.  Listen to ‘Oxygen Tent’ below and stay tuned for more news soon.

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SIGE Records – SIGE100 – 25th June 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Woah! Dizzying, head-spinning chaos and cacophony! Twangs and bangs – strings stretched to within a millimetre of snapping, bending and scraping and scratching. Every instrument is playing across the others at an angle. About ten minutes into side one, you realise the discoordinated racket, having had some flickers of brass bubble through – like tentative flames licking around an oversized log on a fire that’s yet to fully establish itself -has congealed into a dense, soupy drone with industrial strength hip-hop beats played by a live drummer. And it just doesn’t stop. For twenty minutes straight. It gargles and parps and booms and toots and parps and growls and farts on and on and on, while the drums clatter and crash and thwack and thwock and bump and fuck me it’s an almighty headache-inducing din.

Details about this release are fairly limited, but details tend to be lost to history anyway. And most of history suggests that White People Killed Them is a common recurring theme throughout. There are so many of ‘them’, anonymous, often buried in unmarked graves in the name of progress – white progress. History is a narrative of shameful exploitation and bloodshed.

Whether or not the three musicians, Raven Chacon, John Dieterich, and Marshall Trammel, intended any such connotations when they came together in New Mexico in 2019, I have no idea, but the forty minutes of music recorded and relayed on this eponymous release would certainly make for a fitting soundtrack to the sheer brutality of history as a catalogue of killing. It’s so relentless, it makes you want to stand up and shout ‘stop! Enough is enough!’ But of course, as history shows us, it never stops. And nor, seemingly, does this album. It’s not a particularly pleasurable experience. It is an intense experience, and one that instils a kind of anxious excitement, even exhilaration. But pleasure… not really.

Things take a turn for the strange on side two, where from some warped, stretched-tape nastiness, there’s some twangy, spaghetti western weirdness that emerges briefly, before everything gets fucked up and mangled again. And it just builds and then sustains this massive wall of thick, discomfiting sound. The end leaves you absolutely drained, desiccated, mentally and physically decimated. If it was possible to achieve death by avant-jazz, White People Killed Them have slain us all with this monster.

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Christopher Nosnibor

It’s been a long time. An insanely long time. Apart from a brief spell where there were a handful of seated gigs on offer around August of last year, live music has been off the menu for the best – or worst – part of sixteen months, and a long, torturous sixteen months it’s been for so many of us – not least of all those whose livelihoods depend on it, but also for those of us who find comfort and catharsis in the experience, a few hours’ escape from the grind of daily life.

I haver to confess having anxietised over the prospect of attending my first live show since August 2020, since which time I’ve barely set foot in a pub or anywhere really, having been working from home since forever. Less fearful of Covid, more of social situations in general, fearful I’d lost the little social skill I had from before, I simply wasn’t sure what to expect, and the worst fear is the fear of the unknown, and this had perhaps tempered my immense excitement.

In the end, it transpired I needn’t have worried, and everything was nicely managed at the Victoria Vaults. They’ve moved the bar since I was last there, and the refit works well in making for a significantly bigger gig space and next to no bottlenecks, plus the bar staff were friendly and attentive with their table service – which was perhaps as well, because it was sweltering and needed to maintain a flow of cold cider.

Sitting just feet from a real drum kit with my shoulder against a PA stack felt great, and simply being back in that environment brought a great joy. Then there was the lineup: one of the last shows I’d seen, back in January 2020 had featured both My Wonderful Daze and Redfyrn. Both had impressed then, and given reason to come back for more. Although, of course, January 2020 feels like another life.

With King Orange having dropped off the bill without explanation, it’s a later start with Redfyrn straight on and straight in, with the power trio kicking out hefty blues-based grungy heavy rock with a sludgy/stoner vibe, driven hard by some crunchy 5-string bass. Cat Redfern’s soaring vocals are at times almost folksy, and contrast with the hefty lumbering riffs. Collectively, they’re tight, the songs textured and dynamic. There’s a lot of cymbal, but some proper heavy-hitting drum work and the sludgy sound is both steeped in 70s vintage and contemporary influence, resulting in some solid swinging grooves. The mix could have perhaps done with more guitar, but then I was sitting in front of the bass amp and about six feet from the drum kit. Closer ‘Unreal’ has bounce and grit and groove and is a solid as. The band were clearly pleased to be on stage again, and it came through in a spirited performance.

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Redfyrn

My Wonderful Daze’s singer Flowers may be feeling and looking a shade off colour but is in fine voice and all the better once she’s taken her boots off at least for a while. The band bring more big, lumbering riffs, and any concern they may have been rusty after the time out proves to be unfounded, because they’re tight – and loud. They bring all the rage early in the set, coming on more Pretty on the Inside – era Hole than Live Through This, more Solar Race than L7. It’s not long before she’s sitting down to sing because she’s dizzy, and yet still fucking belts out the angst, and despite visibly struggling throughout, it doesn’t affect things sonically: the band don’t just play on, but continue to give it their all. Watching this set really brings home just how hard bands work to do what they do. The slow-burning ‘Dust’ is something of an epic that’s emotionally rich and transitions from a gentle chime to some simmering power chords with some audience participation clapping to aid the build.

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My Wonderful Daze

They announce apologetically that they’re cutting set short to skipped to encore song Tommy for fear of fainting, but it’s a valiant effort and the right choice, although Flowers didn’t make it past the first verse before rushing from the stage. The rest of the band finish the song – and the set – with force, and all the credit to them for their consummate professionalism. Both bands did themselves truly proud, and delivered a great night, and hopefully the first of many.

Two decades into their journey as ritualistic black metal conjurers, Wolves In The Throne Room have emerged from the forest with Primordial Arcana, their most majestic album to date, and their first release via Century Media Records (outside of USA and Canada) and Relapse Records (USA and Canada) out August 20th.

After releasing a first taste with “Mountain Magick” in June the band has just launched “Spirit of Lightning” including a special visualiser that is diving deeper into the aesthetics of Primordial Arcana. Yet again the clip was produced by Wolves In The Throne Room.

Check the clip here:

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16th July 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

One of my mates enjoys expounding on the opinion that all band names are inherently and fundamentally crap, at least when taken on face value and interrogated for their meanings and connotations. He invariably takes it back to The Beatles – a shockingly bad pun if ever there was one, and I would have to say that point is hard to argue. It’s not even especially clever.

Any band with a one-word name prefixed with ‘the’ is, unquestionably terrible (even allowing for the fact that The Melvins is purposefully bad), and existing and acts who’ve added a definite article have gone rapidly downhill on doing so – take The Offspring, for example. But maybe not so much The Verve, because they were gash to begin with, with their overblown, flappy indie shoegaze flailings.

Recently, we discussed Death by Unga Bunga and Ender Bender, and unanimously agreed that they were both terrible names. But then, objectively, pretty much every band name – even your favourite – is poor and difficult to defend.

But we were divided over Weston Super Maim, which he deemed a bit shit, and which, objectively, is based on a terrible half pun that only UK residents and only then a percentage will grasp. But, despite knowing this, I can’t help but find amusement and a certain admiration for it and the audacity.

Their latest offering, the 180-Degree Murder EP isn’t so much a source of amusement, but more of a brutal industrial battering. Tom Stevens (All Of Space, Brown Stratos) teams up with US-based Seth Detrick of Los Angeles thrash outfit PDP to handle vocal duties. It’s an EP in the 80s tradition, where two tracks too long for a 7” would make up a 12” release. The two tracks on offer here both extend beyond the six-minute mark and pack all the punch.

It’s been a long time in the making, as the press release details: ‘Written as a single track, 180-Degree Murder traverses caveman heaviness, tech-driven grooves and shifting melodic patterns to create an immersive experience that rewards multiple listens. The writing process for the EP began in 2019. By the time the pandemic hit, an early instrumental draft had already been recorded, but it wasn’t until Detrick joined the project in June 2020 that things really began to take shape. Making use of extra time at home in London during the first UK lockdown, Stevens retracked instruments for the EP at his home studio while Detrick developed lyrical ideas and vocal patterns from his home in Eugene, Oregon. Vocal tracking was completed in early 2021, and the mix not long thereafter.’

‘180 Degree Murder’ is a cacophony of hard slabs plus squalling bleeping fretwork, roaring, ground-razing vocals and an air of explosive violence as guttural roars set against the most pulverising of riffs. Strapping Young Lad is the comparison that comes to mind, but then there’s also the relentless mechanised industrial blast of Wiseblood and Swans that’s also hard to ignore. Oh yes, this is hard and heavy, alright.

‘We Need to Talk About Heaven’ offers a graceful intro and the breaks are remarkably light and melodic in context, but the chug never stops, and cuts loose into violent distortion-driven fury at precisely those crucial points, and it’s not for wimps. In fact, it may only be some fifteen-and-a-bit minutes in duration, but 180 Degree Murder is a savage and brutal affair.

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