Posts Tagged ‘Rage’

Medication Time Records – 27th January 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

My first encounter with Fågelle was supporting Big | Brave in Leeds last spring. Despite suffering some technical difficulties and being on before a band so mighty that I still haven’t quite got over the experience, I wrote that ‘Fågelle proves to be an absolute revelation’.

The release of her new album, album Den svenska vreden (The Swedish rage), affords proper time to digest, and to reflect on this. And live, I remarked on her understated presence and the variety, shifting from quiet restraint to some heavy noise, and with experimental elements. Those are all present here, to forge what the press release set out as ‘collage-like soundscapes made with twisted field recordings, mobile memories, digital trash, dark electronics, and howling choirs while moving between harmony and noise.’

For the most part, Den svenska vreden is subtle. There are soft, electronic washes and the slightest of glitches ripple and stutter almost subliminally. The layers rub against one another to create tensions, but still, the overall mood of the album is comparatively light, particularly given the album’s title and her explanation of the album’s context and contents.

“I was so angry and had been for years.” explains Fågelle, “A kind of adult rage that was new to me. Feeling forced to accept and stay in circumstances making me miserable. To patiently suffer now for a better future. But also, a subdued Swedishness that doesn’t hold space for flaring, tearing, wallowing rage but rather pushes it down from the surface and inwards. Question is, where does the rage go, and which forms does it take? That became a starting point for the record where I kept exploring my personal boiling points, pressures and releases, where to hold my rage, in words and in the body, as a swede and as a woman.”

She continues, “Swedish social norms value the level headed and emotionally subdued. There is a pressure put especially hard on women to function like social glue and to always be consensus oriented. It’s a pressure to practice self control, a self choking of non-agreeable ideas and feelings. Rage being one of them.”

As such, one senses the rage is very much tempered by the Swedish restraint. And that’s something that there is a strong sense of, listening to Den svenska vreden – that there is in fact far more beneath the surface, simmering.

‘Slavar’ is dark and tense, tentative, mysterious. In contrast, ‘Aldrig mera här’ is almost minimal pop in its flavour. As a prelude to the soft folk reflections of ‘Fåglar’, which in parts invites comparisons to Suzanne Vega while in others goes quite wonderfully weird, ‘Tredje långgatan tretton’ begins as hushed ambience and builds into dramatic strings. It’s on the title track that the rage burst forth, manifesting as two minutes of mangled noise, and the album culminates in a thumping burst of beat-driven electronica which I wouldn’t go so far as to describe as dance, but it’s certainly got enough groove to get down to.

There’s a sense that Den svenska vreden reflects its creator: complex, inscrutable, enigmatic, and multi-faceted.

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21st October 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

What a week to drop a new single. Especially if you’re a politically-charged British band. And particularly if you’re Benefits. Their meteoric ascendancy continues unabated: still without label, management, or PR, they’ve had the video for their new single premiered on none other than Rolling Stone Magazine’s website. They are most certainly not your typical Rolling Stone act. Yes, the magazine may historically have been an outlet for Hunter S. Thomson’s writing and been both political and cutting edge, more recently, it’s been very much more establishment. But it’s reach is huge, and if this suggests by any means that Benefits have gone establishment, you’re either nuts, or you’ve not heard of Benefits before.

For a band like this to be given such a platform isn’t simply a big deal – it’s practically the sounding horn of revolution. And as the British government collapses around our ears faster than 24/7 scrolling news can update their marquees, the timing could not be better.

Against a grinding, undulating, distorted mechanical throb, Kingsley Hall delivers another lacerating dissection of Real Life, carving his way through anxiety and dayjob drudgery, corporate and political doublespeak, endless bullshit filtered and amplified through the echo chambers of social media, ‘failure masked as victory’.

Two-thirds in, a hefty industrial beat kicks in and gives a solidity to the squalling blast of thick, thick noise, and the roaring rage yields to a crisp, clinical spoken word monologue that in many ways hits even harder than that savage raw-throated primal scream, and there’s glimmer of home as he intimates ‘we can win this’… and then, abruptly, nothing. It’s the most unexpected ending to a sing since Dinosaur Jr’s cover of The Cure’s ‘Just Like Heaven’.

It’s also Benefits’ most uncompromisingly brutal and heavyweight release yet, as well as their most fully realised.

The world is changing fast. We may be quite literally drowning in shit on the coasts of this brown and deeply unpleasant pleasant land, but Benefits are doing their bit to make it a better place, not by bringing sunshine, but telling it like it is.

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Benefits are on your in November:

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30th September 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

This is a proper slap round the chops. It follows many conventional industrial tropes, and you could readily lump it min with the endless catalogue of Nine Inch Nails rip-offs, primarily because NIN set the benchmark and the tone from way back in 1988. Prior to that, it was either mainstream sleaze with soul drawing influence from Depeche Mode, or pulsating electro industrial that was either on or wanted to be on, Wax Trax!

Pretty Hate Machine was actually more Depeche Mode than Ministry, but its use of extraneous noise and the general production was, to use a cliché, a gamechanger. It created a new conduit for simultaneous anger and emotional fragility in ways that had previously been untapped.

Anything post PHM is therefore destined to stand against comparisons to NIN if it’s angry electro and industrial, and ‘SAV@Ge’ is all of that – plus tax.

Luna Blake spits lyrics about blood and bones and shame, pain, and death, against a thumping beat-heavy surge of sleaze-grind that’s strong on the stomach-churning low-end and that classic NIN-style production that’s dense and distortion-thick yet crisply digital. The dynamic range and optimal use of dropouts just before everything powers in at twice the volume achieves maximum impact. ‘SAV@Ge’ is aflame with fury and condenses all the rage into just a fraction over two and a half minutes that absolutely blow your face off.

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Melodeath-infused thrash metal gang Katapult has dropped ‘Comfortably Dumb,’ the second single of their upcoming debut album, Play Stupid Games, Win Stupid Prizes. An explosive banger, “Comfortably Dumb” slams the hypocrisy of accepting the meat industry.

“Tracking the vocals for Dumb was such a blast,” states Johan Norström, vocals. “All songs prior to this I had tracked all by my lonesome, but for ‘Dumb’ we tried out software that allowed us to stream high quality audio in real time, directly from the DAW. Having Florian on the other side really pushed me to try stuff I didn’t even know I had in the arsenal which ended up really cool,” informs Norström.

“What a hate anthem,” states Florian Moritz, Guitars. “The feeling you get is ‘Fuck everything and especially you!’ and I fucking love it. It’s a hateful Punk Song that’s just meant to get your juices flowing,” says Moritz.

Check the video here:

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Play Stupid Games, Win Stupid Prizes is slated to come out on 25 November 2022 via Discouraged Records digitally and on digipak CD.

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22nd July 2022

James Wells

With their second single since whittling down to a duo, The Virginmarys continue to show that limited personnel and permutations of instruments does not equate to limited ideas or musical power.

‘You’re A Killer’ is unashamedly political, and articulates the anger of the many who aren’t millionaires and billionaires, coupled with the anxiety that pervades all aspect of life right now: ‘Working my bones and still earning a fraction / I’m hooked to my phone like a fatal distraction’ is as succinct a summary as you’ll hear all year, and that’s some nice wordplay in action too.

And it’s all blasted home in three minutes of jittery, choppy, raucous punk ‘n’ roll. The fire in their bellies rages hard and the chorus is 100% hook. There are hints of eighties rock in the mix too: imagine The Cult circa Sonic Temple played in the spirit of ’77.

The difference between the late 70s and early 80s and now is that Thatcher was at least up front and the working classes knew they were being shafted. Now, people are – literally – dying -starving as they queue at foodbanks and wait ten hours for ambulances and entire days in A&E while our leaders brazenly lie, and in recent years, the lies have become more threadbare and the bodies continue to pile high, heaped on the pyre of democracy as we sleepwalk into fascism.

The Virginmarys suck it all in and spit it out in a full-throttle guitar-driven blast of anger: global warming, the rich travelling on their jollies while the nation is sedated by the media, the new opium of the people, toward engineered social division.

The outlook is bleak, but this isn’t a bleak song: it’s a proper, raging protest song. Listen up, and wake up.

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The Virginmarys Artwork

June 2022 – Ten Foot Records

Christopher Nosnibor

Most bands start out splurging output and slow down over the course of their career. Percy aren’t most bands, and over the last decade have accelerated their output. And also, contrary to the common trajectory, instead of mellowing, they’ve got angrier, gutsier, ragier. Monorail really does find them at the top of their game, bursting with zeal and brimming with vitriol, kicking arse like never before.

‘Chunks’, premiered at their recent York show supporting Percy slams in hard and angular, landing between Grotesque era Fall and Truman’s Water. Jagged, jarring, it’s a full-throttle it’s an instant headache. ‘We’re all just chunks in gravy’, Colin Howard snarls and sneers, and it’s punchy – a very different kind of throbbing gristle. There’s no let up as they pile into the scorching ‘I.C.U.’ and it’s immediately clear that Percy have hit a new level.

They haven’t changed fundamentally: they’ve always been sociopolitical, and they’ve always cranked out driving riffs with a choppy, discordant edge, accentuated by Howard’s Mark E Smith influenced slightly nasal sprechgesang, and there’s a clear continuity that’s run from their self-released 2013 debut album, A Selection of Salted Snacks, through their debut album proper, Sleepers Wake on the esteemed Mook label and 2020’s Seaside Donkeys, which featured the Brexit demolition anthem, ‘Will of the People’.

Monorial isn’t so much about evolution or progression as it is about hitting that sweet spot – which really isn’t so sweet. In other words, their two years out from gigging during a tumultuous time socially and politically has seen them really hone their frustrations into their most attacking material yet. Same style, same form, just harder, faster, more pissed off. It’s not only their best work to date, but it’s absolutely essential listening, especially for those who still reminisce about John Peel and the golden age of indie, because these guys are everything you could want and Monorail has future cult classic written all over it.

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It may be safe for work / radio, but you certainly couldn’t accuse Benefits of selling out and you’re not going to be hearing this edit of the angry, snarling rant-fest of ‘Flag’ on R1 or Kiss FM or whatever anytime soon or ever.  Which is a shame, because everyone needs to hear these guys: Kingsley Hall and co tell it like it is.

No further preamble required: this gets out vote all the way, now get your lugs round it here:

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Christopher Nosnibor

Almost invariably, when there’s a buzz building around a DIY act, they’ve had some kind of assistance or boost, either via a PR campaign or radio play, and / or some fortunate support slots. Not so Benefits, whose profile has grown with the speed of contagion of the pandemic: they’ve thrived during lockdown without management, any ‘proper’ releases, and next to no press (although that’s changing fast); but instead of them seeking out the coverage they’re the ones being sought out.

On paper, their appeal is limited: shouty sociopolitical spoken word paired with blistering squalls of electronic noise is kinda niche, right? Like Sleaford Mods only more noisy and a bit shoutier, right? Sociopolitical ranting aside, not so much. Mods have very much exploited the affront some people feel about their not being a ‘real’ band, and have turned the lack of performance into a schtick. Benefits are very much a band, and despite the swinging, rhythmic hip-hop style delivery of some of the lyrics, Benefits share more with harsh post-punk noisers Uniform than another other contemporary act that comes to mind.

Steve Albini perhaps sums up the two key, and seemingly opposing elements of what Benefits do in referring to the period of musical foment of the early 80s, with ‘the Crass/Pop Group ranting lefty/anarchist punks, and Whitehouse/TG/Cabaret Voltaire pure noise’. He’s not wrong when he writes that it’s ‘Been a while since something evoked that era as effectively as this Benefits track.’

But Benefits don’t only evoke that era: they’re a band that are precisely of the moment. During lockdown, people were on edge – and they still are as they emerge, blinking, into a world that has changed, and not for the better. More divided, more violent, it’s a difficult place to navigate. People are scared, and they’re also disaffected. Benefits channel and articulate all of this, and the buzz around tonight’s show was positively electric.

Feather Trade could easily be mistaken for being a ‘haircut’ band on face value, but their tousle-topped singer’s vocals invite comparisons to The Cooper Temple Clause’s Ben Gautrey, and the comparison to TCTC doesn’t end there as the trio blast through some jagged alternative rock defined by solid, meaty bass and gritty guitars. With a post punk vibe, great voice, the lineup may have been hastily-assembled, but they boast a truly great rhythm section. Switching between acoustic and electronic drums varies sound, and the line ‘fuck your trust fund’ from closer ‘Dead Boy’ is a sentiment we can get behind. Keeping the set to a punchy five songs, they made for a compelling opener, and I doubt I’m the only new fan they’ve won on this outing. I liked these guys a lot.

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Feather Trade

Some guys I never really liked are La Petite Mort: in fact, my last review of them was pegged to a single line in parenthesis. But this newly-resurrected iteration shows that they’ve evolved massively in the intervening years, transitioning from a novice sixth form indie band to something altogether more challenging, and altogether more powerful. If anything, there are shades of The Young Gods both sonically and visually. Now a duo with laptop and live drums, they’re dense, dark, intense. At some point, just as he has for Avalanche Party on occasion, Jared Thorpe whips out his sax and starts tooting away. No, it’s no euphemism. La Petite Mort embrace a slew of genre styles, and nail them to some tight, technical jazz drumming and lots and lots of reverb.

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La Petite Mort

This all leaves us ultra-hyped for the headliners, and they sure as hell don’t disappoint with their spoken word grindcore hybrid. With some brutal electronics from Robbie Major, they build from sparse, acappella hip hop to a blistering wall of noise. They build and build and rage so, so hard it’s savage. There are some smoochy hip-hop vibes, but they’re a stark contrast to the raving lyrics. ‘You get what you deserve’, Kingsley Hall warns, menacingly. Against the backdrop of Russia invading Ukraine as we look on, we hope it’s true. They venture into post punk / Sleaford Mods-ish territory just the once over the course of an hour-plus long set. Hall reads the lyrics to ‘Meat Teeth’ from his phone in a state of anguish. The song itself is stark, harsh, and it hurts. And yet this pain is what connects us with the band. Hall’s openness and honesty when he speaks between songs is like a body blow. This isn’t a performance, this is real. “What a fucking country, what a fucking state…. Sausage roll man… Tory cunt.” He admits to struggling with the whole being on stage thing, but it’s clear from the way he attacks every line, this is something he feels he simply has to do.

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Benefits

In a recent interview with Loud and Quiet, Hall explained, “I’ve got this pent-up anger and desire to speak and to shout and discuss. But how do I translate that?” On stage, that anger is anything but pent-up: it’s channelled into an eye-popping storm of words dragged from the very soul.

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Benefits

‘Flag’ steps up a level just when there seemed like no more levels to step up, with punishing percussion and snarling noise. It’s harsh, but so, so invigorating and cathartic. The encore / not encore is a perfect example of the way Benefits don’t conform, don’t play the game. And while doing things on their own terms in every way, they stand apart.

There’s no pithy one-liner to wrap this up: I leave, borderline delirious, simultaneously elated and stunned by what I’ve just witnessed – a show that was, frankly, nothing short of incredible.

I know, I know, poor form, etc., etc. But hey, it’s not every day this kind of thing happens.

…(something) ruined coalesced by happy accident as a live proposition. Like so many bands, lockdown hit our progress and development hard. The ‘white noise and shouting’ worked because of a combination of factors all in the moment – extreme volume, intuition, adrenaline, the consumption of alcohol. Replicating the vibe without those factors proved to be a challenge – but, when offered the platform of the FEAST online streaming events organised by the Nim Brut label during lockdown, it felt like an opportunity to develop a new way of working and to refine that sound in a more controlled setting. Trial and error led to the creation of noise first, vocals second, and over the course of several months, thing evolved, and …(something) ruined became something more, with not only a more defined sound, but a thematic focus lyrically.

E.P. is a cohesive document, but also a document of an evolution, and the tracks are presented in the chronology in which they were created, each first aired at a FEAST event.

‘Life Is Too Short’: small frustrations simmer and boil over when presented with the stark reality that you could die tomorrow and you’ve squandered the last 10 years your waking hours being nice and pandering to utter cunts.

‘On Mute’: anthem for remote workers around the globe as we’ve watched cretins babble away merrily on video calls while no-one can hear a single word – although, frustrating as it is, it’s usually better than hearing their words.

‘Harder, Not Smarter’: another corporate classic. Time and again management promote smart working, time-saving, and economy. But for all the words, there’s only whip-cracking ultimately.

‘On Brand’: brand isn’t just slogans and advertising. It’s an ethos. You don’t just work for a company, you are the company, a walking promotion. Live the brand.

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