Posts Tagged ‘Political’

Despot – 3rd November 2021

Christiopher Nosnibor

Ukraine continues to reveal itself as having a throbbing underground scene, producing some really high-quality nuggets of experimental and exploratory music. ‘Almost Sugar’ is one of those short albums, occupied with a single longform composition on each side of a cassette or 12” record – and with the wait times and increasingly prohibitive cost of producing short runs of vinyl die to myriad factors including but not exhausted by the pandemic, the cassette is becoming ever more the format of choice.

The cassette is something of an unexpected format to experience a renaissance, largely on account of some hipsterish nostalgia for a format that formed an integral part of the formative years for so many of us. It’s very much a rose-tinted hue: memes about pencils (I always used a Bic biro myself) fail to convey the anguish of a chewed tape that had spooled out, and never mind the hassle of endless hours rewinding and fast forwarding to locate specific tracks, and so on. Much of the cassette experience was centred around frustration, and it was simply something we accepted because that was the format we had, and the only recordable (and re-recordable) one at that. Still, it would be wrong to downplay the joy of the compilation (we didn’t all call them mixtapes back then). But also, there are now practical reasons for the return to the cassette as the physical format of choice, and that’s largely down to cost and availability.

However, as Neill Jameson recently wrote in Decibel Magazine, supply chain issues may soon prove to dent the demand for the cassette again, and while on a practical level, I can’t say I’m too disappointed, on a principal level, I very much am: the two sidedness of the format is closest to replicating the vinyl experience, and the limitations of length have a close relationship to duration of recordings. Format does matter; physical mediums to matter. Necessity isn’t only the mother of invention it’s also the driver of discipline. Two fifteen to twenty-minute sides require considerably more focus than a continuous seventy-two minute expanse.

Title track ‘Almost Sugar’ is fifteen minutes of bubbling analogue exportation, with a whole lot of hissing static and polytonal drones and hums combining to for a slow-twisting, heavily atmospheric work. It’s a high concept piece, constructed around the way in which the sugar crystal ‘changes its structure under any impact’. Consider this fact next time you’re stirring your tea or coffee, or tossing a couple of spoonfuls over your morning cereal, or maybe whipping up a cake batter.

‘Superdry People’, the piece which occupies side two, is darker, murkier, the sound of a slumbering beast awakening, an ominous dungeon rumble emanating from the some subterranean chamber or even the bowels of the earth. According to the accompanying notes, ‘Superdry People’ is ‘a play about «superdry people», who are heading to the pool, apparently to «soak off». Splashes of some substances, mechanisms, fragments of secular talks’, but the title simply makes me think of tossers in trendy expensive coats, and as a London-based brand feigning the exoticism of being from Japan with it’s ‘Superdry JPN’ logos and shit, it’s one that inspires ire that extends to the people who purchase their gear. I hope that this yawning sonic abyss is the conduit which will suck all the real Superdry people into its vortex, never to return. We can but hope.

But while we’re waiting for the tossers to evaporate, this is a perfect album to immerse yourself in.

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The latest single from Iranian metal band Confess is an anthem of long-awaited retribution. ‘Megalodon’ started simmering in the mind of frontman Nikan Khosravi as a result of his imprisonment by the Iranian government. The down-tuned groove and ravaged vocals bring 90s acts like Korn to mind. But there’s also a modern death metal sound that introduces us to the band’s new direction.

The song was written and recorded in Norway, soon after the founding members earned refugee status. Mastered by Grammy-nominated producer Machine (Lamb of God, Suicide Silence, Miss May I, and many others). ‘Megalodon’ describes the need for justice in the mind of a political prisoner. Being locked up in jail and released on bail, forced to live in obscurity. “Many people think you’re gone, and you don’t exist anymore, and it makes them happy!”, Khosravi explains.

But the beast observes and waits for its day of reckoning. “Like Megalodon, an ancient creature that everyone thinks they are extinct. But there are rumors that they still exist and live in the depth of the ocean.” he continues. When you least expect it the monster can resurface and eat up any massive animal, just to disappear again.

The track is Khosravi’s first experiment with 7 strings. It’s also the band’s first production in the Scandinavian winter. "To me, it has a vibe that reminds me of the environment I live in."

Listen here:

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Confess describe themselves as a “five-piece street protest”. Khosravi and Arash Ilkhani (DJ / Sampler) faced arrest and prison in Tehran, following the release of the band’s second album in 2015. Both musicians obtained refugee status in Norway in 2018 and have been playing across the country. They recently opened for Mayhem at Festspillene i Nord.

Released 10thSeptember 2021 via Rexius Records, the single is part of the band’s upcoming album Revenge at All Costs which is due for release in early 2022.

Confess

A few weeks after announcing their third album Empty Plinths and sharing a first preview with the single ‘Panic Room’, Grand Collapse are back with a new sensational single, called ‘Without Let or Hindrance’.

Hear it here:

Cal, singer in the band, explains:

On the inside of a British passport it reads: “Her Britannic Majesty’s sectary of state requests and requires in the Name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance, and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary.”

For a Country that is so actively hostile to anyone coming here, including refugees, I find this statement astounding.

British identity, which is steeped in Empire, is a pathetic shell of itself and watching these tossers hold on desperately to the tyranny of the past is cringe worthy.

This is a thrash monster, pure and simple. Full mosh mode!”

The song shows the thrash-core influences this new record has, among the many other references that should make fans of bands such as Propagandhi, Conflict and Bane very happy.

Empty Plinths, the band’s third full length album is coming out on August 6th via Epidemic Records, TNS Records, Don’t Trust The Hype Records, Mass Prod., Urinal Vinyl.

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Bloodshed666

Christopher Nosnibor

This Viennese collective describe themselves as purveyors of ‘heavy stuff (crust, sludgemetal, noise rock’ but ‘rooted in diy-anarcho-punk’, and they follow the subtly-titled Shareholder of Shit 10” EP with a 12” picture disc mini album containing five gloriously gnarly blasts of dirty guitar-driven noise.

Much of the appeal of anything that’s crust-orientated is just how grimy and raw it is, and while a few samples cut through with clarity on several tracks here, for the most part, Desolat deliver a set that is little short of a wall of incendiary rage, a snarling, spitting, guttural roar coughing blood and venom against guitars so dingy they positively drip gunge.

If opener ‘Nuclear Extinction to Human Civilisation’ doesn’t exactly sound like a love song, it does probably intimate the band’s perfect misanthropic fantasy, while the title track is the sound of Satan’s innards after a phall. Make no mistake, this is intense, and there’s not a second’s respite at any point: ‘The Bureaucrat’ is a full-throttle sonic inferno that blasts through its three-minute duration at a hundred miles an hour ravaging everything in its path: the guitars a whiplash-inducing blur or fury.

The lumbering closer, ‘Dreams of Slaughtered Yuppies under Starlit Night Skies’, is a six-minute slow-riffing sludgefest that batters away brutally at a simple four-chord trudge. It’s heavy, it’s nasty, and its glorious – which pretty much sums up the record as a whole as it raises a stinking, shit-coated middle finger to all things capitalist and mainstream.

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Chapter 22 Records – 31st March 2021

No question that these are tough times for bands and the grass roots music industry generally. It’s the smaller bands who depend on flogging T-shorts and a handful of CDs at shows who are among the worst affected: they’re not earning royalties from endless radio play, their songs aren’t being used on TV commercials or in film soundtracks, and they sure as hell aren’t covering the rent with Spotify streams.

It must be particular difficult when you’re self-styled purveyors of Revolutionary Punk Roots Rock‘n’Roll whose entire ethos is to never rehearse, but instead achieve tightness through relentless gigging. What’s more, they had just reached a new peak – and a still wider audience – with a tour supporting New Model Army before the proverbial rug got pulled from under their feet. Still, newly-signed to Chapter 22, this, their fourth album, should do their profile no end of good.

Despite what their tag connotes, this – thankfully – is no bog-standard festival-friendly folk-punk knees-up roustabout as favoured by beer-sloshing bozos just looking to whoop it up. There’s substance to Headsticks’ melee which is more anti-folk than folk, while at the same time fuelled by the fury of genuine protest music: as you’d expect from a band who’ve had Crass’ Steve Ignorant guest on a song a few years ago, and with songs like the rabble-rousing ‘Red is the Colour’, they’re left-leaning and unashamedly political. Lately, it seems everything has become political in some way or another, and even fundamental issues like being opposed to racism, or day-to-day issues like wearing a mask in shops and adhering to social distancing guidelines have become politicised, because we live in an insane world. And for that reason, what you might consider to be the more traditional politics espoused by Headsticks is welcome and refreshing. It may sound naïve, but I do genuinely yearn for the simpler times when artists, workers, and all and the oppressed people in society stood together in wanting to smash a scumbag Tory government, instead of the endless shouting that is social media. But if unity is to be regained, music is something that gives us hope. There’s nothing like standing in a room with several hundred people and standing together not just physically, but in solidarity.

Lead single ‘Peace & Quiet’ is representative: you can practically feel the fists pumping in this frenetic punky blast. Across the album’s twelve fast and furious tracks, it’s the Dead Kennedys that often come to mind, largely on account of the ultra-hyped energy, the fact that they sound like a 33 played at 45 for the most part.

Propelled by a piston-pumping drum beat, the high-octane blues blast of ‘Miles and Miles’ is reminiscent of The Screaming Blue Messiahs, while the stripped back, slower ‘Tyger Tyger’ pitches a more emotive experience, laced with strings and contemplation, and ‘Speak Put’ goes full Fugazi, with lyrics adapted from Martin Niemöller’s poem ‘First they came …’ – and it’s powerful.

While kicking against injustice and hypocrisy, Headsticks avoid being overtly preachy, and instead stick to keeping it simple and keeping it lively. It’s a solid approach, and the energy is infectious.

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Christopher Nosnibor

I Like Trains’ emergence from hibernation may be coinciding with that of the nation, and while it’s perhaps to an extent coincidental, one feels that perhaps it largely isn’t. Their latest reinvention has seemingly come out of nowhere, and if their shift from genre-leading purveyors of songs based on historical events, formed as slabs of tremulous post-rock with shattering crescendos, to something rather less dramatic and more direct came by a certain sense of transition, this is a true bolt from the blue.

Crashing in from nowhere with the stark, synth-heavy and highly-political ‘Truth’ to announce the imminence of new album, Kompromat after a hiatus that had looked dangerously like becoming permanent, it was immediately apparent that I Like Trains haven’t so much evolved as metamorphosised.

The band describe ‘Dig In’ as being ‘probably as lean and direct as we’ve ever been’ and continue: ‘There’s plenty to be angry about at the moment, and this is a pure distillation of that. It’s aimed mostly at the campaign managers and ‘special advisors’ who manoeuvre their people into positions of power with little or no regard for the rules. Never back down. Never apologise. Show no signs of weakness.’

‘Dig In’ has a real attack to it, an urgency that’s new. Over a choppy guitar that’s more Gang of Four than anything even vaguely post-rock, and which is welded to an elastic rhythm section with a driving bass, David Martin growls political agitation. No longer jumbling through his beard, there’s even a hint of Richard Butler in the early years of the Psychedelic Furs in the delivery, and perhaps even hints of Post war Glamour Girls, he casts an elevated eye over the world as is, and it’s sharp incisive.

Old ILiKETRAiNS were formidable. Middle I Like Trains were ace. New I Like Trains, with their newfound edge, right now, feel re-energised and essential.

Following on from their 2016 record “You Will Burn”, Scottish hardcore quartet Razor Sharp Death Blizzard have returned with their new album “The World Is Fucked” which is set for release on July 17th. Ahead of this the band have released a video for their new single “Suicide”.

Frontman Jamie Clark had this to say on the track:

“When we write our songs, we almost always write in the practice room. “Suicide” took me by surprise by the intensity of the music. I like to stand in the room with Daz, Liam and Ross going for it so I can feel the song. The music brought out a lot of emotion in me be it anger, be it tearful. The emotion that came was the feelings for suicide I’d had off and on for a number of years and this song really helped me bring things out. I tried to put into word some of the feelings and thoughts I had.

From the crushing self-defeat to the feeling of wanting to through myself from the Newcastle to Amsterdam ferry on my way to and from holiday with my wife and kids. From not knowing what I was feeling, the utter confusion, wondering if someone would help me now that ‘I’ needed help. All things came to a head when we were a couple of weeks away from a European tour and I ended up doing one show and the rest of the guys played as a three piece for the remaining shows. It coming to a head was the best thing to happen. I was able to talk to those closest to me and turn a lot round.

The end of the song says it all and is a mantra I kind of abide by and its was Daz that said it ‘ no matter how dark the night may seem, tomorrow may be brighter’. What advice I try to give is please talk to someone, that first step will take so much weight from your shoulders. It won’t cure you but will give you courage to talk. It really is okay to not be okay. The hardest step is talking to someone but trust me it’s the best step you can take.”

Both tracks can be streamed here:

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Rock is Hell Records – July 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

At the risk of repetition, there are no two ways about it: these are desperate times. No, not unprecedented. Desperate, dire, and fucked-up. The liner notes to BUG’s latest offering, Nunc finis offer a fair summary:

‘Global warming. Trump. Corona virus. New normal. We are living in interesting times. It is one minute before midnight on the doomsday watch. Nunc finis means end of time, end times or end now. And if you buy the ticket, you gonna take the ride.’

Fucked-up times require some fucked-up heavy shit by way of a soundtrack, and BUG bring it in spades here. I for one am immensely grateful: I’ve found myself frequently returning to Calamitas, and Nunc finis brings the same blend of familiar noise rock tropes and uniqueness, with jarring riffs, sludgy low-end and crazed, gruff-throated vocals. Above all, BUG know how to create tension through music, to articulate that tightening of the chest, evoke that clenching of the jaw, the grinding of the teeth.

The opening salvoes leave no doubt that this is a dark album reflecting darkness back in on itself, a tumultuous tempest of disaffection and (internal) conflict. ‘Happy Pills’ kicks off in pretty savage style, a hell-for-leather raging blast of overdriven guitars and angled vocals. You can barely make out a word, but then, the delivery communicates the sentiment, the manic fury. ‘Hell is Empty’ drops down several shades darker toward sludgy doom territory, before ‘Lost Soul’ takes a more conventionally noise-rock turn. It also provides the first softer moments, as chiming guitars effect a more ponderous perspective before exploding into a ragged riff. Exploiting the quiet / loud dynamic, it’s a classic slow-burner that builds to a killer climax.

‘Leftovers’ is a standout by virtue of its sheer brutality, while the seven-minute closer, ‘Hass gegen Rechts’ is positively schizophrenic, switching between a strolling vaudeville waltz and volcanic, earth-shattering blasts of noise, and is everything the album represents distilled into a single gut-wrenching track. It’s intense, alright.

Jolting riffs and stop-start noodles define the structures, to bewildering, dizzying effect: it’s not a regular bludgeoning, but successive left / right hooks, followed by an upper-cut, a headbutt, and a knee in the nuts for good measure. It’s heavy, hard, harrowing, and, ultimately physically and emotionally draining – just as it should be.

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The album, Seaside Donkeys, may have had its release postponed and live launch rescheduled, but lockdown isn’t going to stop Yorkshire post-punk powerhouse Percy from getting their musics to the masses.

‘Will of the People’ encapsulates everything that is Percy in a fraction over three minutes: ramshackle, Fall-esque rattling guitars, a thumping rhythm section, needling synths and sneering sprechgesang vocals with a flat tone and overtly Northern inflection spitting fury at the stupidity of thee masses over Brexit. A band like Percy could only ever come from the north of England. Fact.

It’s a blistering blast of disaffection, and it’s ace. Check it here:

Everyday Life Recordings – 10th December 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

Just when I thought I couldn’t love Moderate Rebels any more, they drop a brand new song just in time for Christmas, and landing two days before the most highly-charged and heavily-weighted general election in memory, it’s bursting with anti-government sentiment:

How come there’s always money,

For bombs? But never any

money… For the old, Or the

young, Or anyone… who isn’t

strong?

Beware. Beware of the

cheats. Singing you

love songs, Sing you to

SLEEP.

Boiled down to a simple lyrical repetition, the vocals – airy yet monotone – combine with a sturdy, motorik beat and simple, cyclical chord sequence overlaid with analogue synth tones, it’s an ode to media narcotisation and a nation sleepwalking to its doom, and another quintessential  Moderate Rebels cut. They’re still moderate, and still rebellious, and the fact they’ve chosen to release this now – and only make it available until the end of December – makes a clear statement of where they stand and what they’re rebelling against.

Apparently, they have 30 new songs ready to go, and I both hope and expect that’s 30 more songs of the same as the two albums to date. But they can wait until 2020, when they can be the soundtrack to – hopefully – celebration, or, and it’s a terrifying and gloomy prospect – commiseration.

For now, listen to this on a loop, and use it to hypnotize anyone who’s on the fence or you suspect may be a secret Tory. It’s time to get the bastards out and end austerity. And once again, Moderate Rebels get my vote.

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Moderate Rebels Cheat Artwork ideas (1)