Posts Tagged ‘Oceansize’

Hex Records (USA) / Bigout Records (Europe) – 23rd October 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

For what is essentially a side-project for some of its members, USA Nails have sustained a remarkable output since their inception in 2014, with Character Stop being their fifth full-length release.

It is less full-on, less manic, and less of a messy blur than the bulk of their previous works, but the energy is still very much present, manifesting in a sound that’s more defined, more sharply focused. Which means, in short, it’s more like being attacked with a saw than a hammer. That said, there’s no shortage of blistering punk assaults: ‘I Am Posable’ is a furious flurry of slurry, and hits the spot hard.

We’ve already been given a flavour of the album with the short sharp shocks of ‘I Don’t Own Anything and the opening track ‘Revolution Worker’ both of which combine the growling bass rumble of Shellac with skewed guitars and a motoric beat, and consequently comes on like an early Fall outtake being covered by Tar, and it’s fair to say they’re wholly representative of the album as a whole. Well, don’t you just hate it when you buy an album because of a great single only to find the rest of the album is absolutely nothing like it, and it’s crap to boot? Maybe it happens less now in the digital age, but I used to find that a lot back in the 80s and 90s. Anyway, what this means is that if the prefatory releases appealed, then you’ll be happy to get lots more of the same, while conversely, if the singles didn’t do it for you, then you’re really going to find this a chore.

Recorded in just four days at Bear Bites Horse in London with producer Wayne Adams, Character Stop is urgent, immediate, and raw, and the songs are all brief and more angular than a great-stellated dodecahedron. And yet for that, it’s not math-rock, nor does it really belong to any specific genre, unless jolting, jarring, slightly discordant shit is a recognised genre now.

The album’s longest track, clocking in at four and a quarter minutes, ‘How Was Your Weekend?’ slows the pace and darkens the tone, with a stark, post-punk feel, a tone vocal paired with a thumping metronomic beat at tripwire tense guitars, and likewise the stark, jittery ‘Preference for Cold’. The bass shudders as it runs hither and thither, while the guitars crash in splintering shards. Elsewhere, if ‘No Pleasure’ filters The Stooges through Black Flag and slips its way through at a hundred miles an hour in a torrent of sweat and angst, it’s still got a vaguely post-punk tint to compliment its hardcore hue, and ‘Temporary Home’ is all about the motoric thud. It’s also got something that sounds like a chorus and a bit of melody, although it’s soon swallowed up in a scream of nail-scraping feedback and racketous riffage.

You wouldn’t exactly call Character Stop a minimalist work, but it is often stark, almost contemplative, going beyond all-out thunderous noise to explore dynamics and contrast. In short, it’s a cracking album.

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London based noise/punk band USA Nails have launched the 2nd single from their upcoming album ‘Character Stop’ which is set for release on 23rd October through Hex Records (USA) and Bigout Records (Europe). You can watch the video for short and sharp single ‘I Don’t Own Anything’ which clocks in at just 1 min 23 seconds.

USA Nails feature current and ex-members of Sly & The Family Drone, Blacklisters, Kong, Oceansize, Silent Front, Death Pedals, Future of the Left and Dead Arms.

Guitarist Gareth Thomas comments,

At the risk of sounding like a dick; this song is about millennials and zoomers. Generations who have been shafted by their parents, who can’t afford anything, who live on zero hours contracts, and who are currently experiencing a mental health epidemic. They are blamed for their own misfortune because they like to eat avocados sometimes. It’s also got a beat that’ll get your toe tapping.

And with all music being streamed via Spotify and YouTube, no-one even own their own music collection any more. Which also massively sucks.

Check the vid here:

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Season of Mist – 4th November 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Bronze is the sixth album by Crippled Black Phoenix, the current musical vehicle for Justin Greaves, who has a remarkable CV which features Iron Monkey, Electric Wizard, The Varukers, and Earth 2 referencing drone supergroup Teeth of Lions Rule the Divine. They’ve spent a good few years mining a fresh seam of dark progressive music, and Bronze is an album which qualifies unreservedly for the label of ‘epic’.

As the pre-release blurb helpfully points out, ‘Bronze consists primarily of copper, but it is the inclusion of other metals and non-metals that gives this alloy its specific characteristics. Ever since mankind discovered the secret of its making thousands of years ago, the golden and shining bronze has changed the course of history, spawned destruction and war, yet also been crafted into desired objects of extreme beauty.’

And so it is that the first track, the expansive organ-style synth-soaked instrumental ‘Dead Imperial Bastard’ opens the album with a darkly funereal instrumental. ‘Deviant Burials’ locks into some solid riffing which contrasts with some surprisingly easy-going vocals, and the contrast between melody and driving guitars calls to mind Queens of the Stone Age in their poppier moments, before veering off into more overtly progressive territories with some expansive post-metal dynamics.

‘Rotten Memories’ is the album’s shortest track, and offers something approximating a dark pop song, albeit in the vein of the piano-led power ballad beloved during the 80s. it is, of course, but an interlude before the immense ‘Champions of Disturbance (pt 1 & 2)’, which segue together to form a nine-minute epic. It’s prog, for sure, but in the post-Oceansize sense, a sinewy, riff-led behemoth. ‘Goodbye Then’ brings wistful melancholia, which contrasts with the psych-tinged hard rock of ‘Turn to Stone’, and it’s clear that on this outing, Greaves has brought a whole host of stylistic elements to the party to produce an album that’s got range and depth and which brings emotional evocativeness as well as cinematicism and bombast.

The emotional depth is no fabrication: Greaves recently ‘went public’ about his personal fight against severe depression, and as the press release notes, ‘for him, not letting the “black dog” devour you is a big message mixed within his songs.

That doesn’t mean that Bronze is an easy or entirely uplifting album. In fact, it’s an album of remarkable range, and an album which is often awkward and emotionally bleak. While downtempo epics like ‘Losing a Winning Battle’ bring an expansive, progtastic darkness, what really shines through with ‘Bronze’ is its immense range, as well as its scope and ambition, which is matched by its ambition and production, this is a big album and perfectly executed.

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