Posts Tagged ‘Thrash’

Southern Lord – 4th December 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

High Command’s new release on Southern Lord drags me back to a point of debate I’ve covered variously over the twelve years I’ve been doing this reviewing thing: what distinguishes a single from an EP, an EP from an album? And aren’t EPs and mini-album’s the same thing? It may be so much hair-splitting and semantics, and about as important as genre boundaries in the scheme of things, but… well, High Command, being a crossover of thrash metal, punk, and hardcore, are a cause of consternation on that front too.

The two tracks on this digital single, which prefaces the 7” EP release due early next year via Triple B records, are fast, furious, gnarly, and there’s no question over their thrashiness.

‘Everlasting Torment’ may not be literal in its title, being a short, sharp four-minute attack of overdrive, but it does pack all the melodic fretwork, thunderous drums and mega-fast plectrum flashing of something purgatorially thrashy, while counterpart – or B-side, if you will – ‘Sword of Wisdom’ penetrated with a raft of sudden tempo changes and pierces with the lunge into a monster guitar solo.

It’s a whole lot less sludgy and perhaps less Ministry and a lot less industrial than its predecessor, although the key trappings are all in place.

However you position it, this release brings a full-range display of some pretty frenzied fretwork which is driven – hard, and fast – by a strong, dynamic rhythm section that packs all the power, and if any of it threatens to slide toward cliché, the execution and sheer brute force are more than enough.

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APF Records – 27th November 2020

James Wells

Sometimes, there’s just no substitute for a full-tilt, balls-out, gut-churning sludgy grindcore for providing that release. There’s something strangely soothing in the relentless blastbeats, the mangled-to-fuck guitar attack, the guttural growls of pain, anguish, and all-out fury. Corrupt Moral Altar get catharsis, channelling every last ounce of rage into fast and furious sonic blitzkriegs, and three years on from their second album, Eunoia, this five-track EP suggests they’ve distilled and bottled three years of fury into seventeen minutes of brutality.

For the most part, it’s pretty much business as usual, in that everything is a pulverizing blast whereby everything thunders and pounds away at a hundred miles an hour, each song leaving you feeling like you’ve been used as a punching speedbag for three and a half minutes. Five songs may not sound like much, but when punishment is delivered at this pace, and with this much force, it’s exhausting. You only have to hope that ‘Cathedral of Porn’ isn’t intended as a tune to wank to.

The intro to ‘Spirit Breaker’ marks a distinct change in tone and tempo, with chiming, post-rocky guitar, before, perhaps inevitably, it gets grimy and nasty and completely full-on. There’s a grand swathe of semi-choral vocals which ring out over the punishing double-pedal drumming and heavy-grind guitars, and it’s a surprising but rather moving shift, and it closes in a more contemplative that returns to the atmosphere of the opening. It’s by no means wimpy, but does abundantly demonstrate that CMA are far more than one-dimensional rage-merchants.

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Time for some full moon, campfire horror metal at the gates of Hell with Possessor! ‘Bloodsuckers’ is the opening track and second single from the upcoming Possessor album Damn The Light, with vocalist/guitarist Graham Bywater commenting on the new video,

‘We wanted to create a rough and ready no frills video of us at our first rehearsal of 2020, the year that never ceases to be shit.

‘Lyrically ‘Bloodsuckers is quite a literal description of our new album cover, with the opening line “A weathered hand, a plume of smoke…” and it’s all very much based on the imagery Alexander Goulet designed for us, written partially from the viewpoint of a vampire bat… “Under a blood red moon…immortal and black winged”. As with most Possessor songs it’s got its heart in the past and its boots stomping into the future. We like to make music which inspires the listener to scream along to whilst raising the devil horns at the midnight hour. Party on.’

Watch the video for Bloodsuckers here:

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Hellripper have released a new single and the title track from their forthcoming album entitled “The Affair Of The Poisons”.

Having revealed the theme of the album through the release of “Spectres of the Blood Moon Sabbath” and their last single “Vampire’s Grave”, based on true life events from Glasgow in 1954,  Hellripper continues to explore the historical dark & insidious underworld of witchcraft and the occult.

James MacBain explains the inspiration for ‘The Affair Of The Poisons’ “the song takes inspiration from a series of events that occurred in 17th Century France. Possession, witchcraft, child sacrifice & poisonings were at the heart of a large-scale investigation conducted during the reign of the Sun King (Louis XIV) after an extensive plot was unearthed within the court of Versailles, targeting members of the aristocracy and the King himself in order to gain power and influence; the scandal exploded when it was revealed that the royal favourite herself was partaking in black masses and had allegedly poisoned a younger rival to win back the King’s favour.

Listen to ‘The Affair of the Poisons’ here:

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28th August 2020

James Wells

If a band can’t sell itself up, what hope have they for anyone else? So fair play to Horrible Youth, who pitch themselves as ‘an Icelandic five-piece sludge and grunge band that sprang to life in Oslo in 2016 and quietly recorded their stunning debut, Wounds Bleed.’

And you know what? It is stunning. ‘Monkeys’, the album first track is a low-tempo grunger that blends Nirvana and Metallica and ultimately comes on like Melvins – and if you’re going to for sludge and grunge, Melvins is the band against which any other is going to be judged.

The songs on Wounds Bleed are concise (the majority being under four minutes) and built around simple repetitive riffs cranked out with a big, overdriven guitar, and favouring the mid to lower ends of the EQ spectrum for a dense, murky sound. Only the cymbals crash through the

Single cut ‘Blissful Tropes’ brings a psych twist to the lumbering riffery, and it’s got hooks and weight in equal measure (it’s hardly a pop tune, but there’s a sinewy lead guitar behind the shouting), making it a standout on what is, undeniably, a really solid album.

It sure as hell ain’t soft or gentle, and doesn’t do the cliché ‘mellow’ track at the end of side one or anything, instead slinging riff after riff, with the rawness of Tad at their best. ‘Serve the Plague’ hits a particularly hefty, low-slung, goth-doom groove, and the tempo picking up around halfway through to thrash out a full-throttle attack.

Combining density and intensity, and packing a megalithic dose of angst, Wounds Bleed distils the sound of 1994 and turns the volume up to eleven, and the result is something special.

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Christopher Nosnibor

Arriving at gigs in Leeds drenched is becoming not so much a habit as the norm for me by the looks of things. But unlike recent jaunts across the border to West Yorkshire, where I was caught in torrential precipitation, we’re in the middle of a heatwave. The humidity is off the scale, it’s rammed like a cattle freighter, and I’m not convinced the air conditioning is functioning in the vestibule I find myself standing. Consequently, I disembark with my shirt completely saturated ahead of what I know will be a warm gig in Leeds’ best venue for all things metal. And hot on the heels of Thou and Moloch on the same bill, tonight’s is another absolutely killer lineup.

Things are off to an abrasive start with harsh electronic duo Soft Issues. Gnarly electronic noise fizzes from the PA before hammering beats kick in. Samples fire off all over between the distorted, pain-filled screaming vocals and they’re switching patch-leads with mechanical precision as the mess of treble and pulsating lower-range synth oscillations grind forth. It’s relentless, repetitive, and brutally industrial, and there may be hints of NIN but this is way, way harsher, the obliterative wall of anguish-filled noise closer to Prurient than anything. It hurts.

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Soft Issues

Whipping Post’s goatee-sporting bassist may be wearing an REM T-Shirt, but there’s no Shinny Happy People vibe here. He churns out some strong, strolling basslines that provide the solid foundations for some gritty hardcore racket reminiscent of Touch and Go’s early 90s roster. Theirs is a sound that’s nicely angular, dirty, and dense, with lurching rhythms and no shortage of attack.

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Whipping Post

If things are already warm (and I’m so grateful cans of Scrumpy Jack are only £2.50 as I’m sweating it out faster than I can drink it), then co-headliners Bad Breeding really turn up the heat, blasting in at 150 miles per hour with their brand of raging grindy hardcore. A band whose album liner notes and essays posted on their website reference Mark Fisher and American Psycho while dissecting the politics of Brexit while substantiating points with figures on GDP and a host of verifiable statistics, there’s some qualifiable intellect beyond the blizzards of rage they spew out on stage. And the force with which they do it is monstrously intense and gives rise to some energetic – but extremely well-natured – moshing. And yet again, I’m reminded that the nicest audiences are to be found at the most extreme shows.

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Bad Breeding

For a number, Bad Breeding are the headliners, and fair play. They were storming, and moreover, Uniform are a whole other kind of intense nasty. Their debut, Wake in Fright was a non-stop shoutfest with a pounding drum machine and raw, ragged guitar assault fused into a nightmarish sensory overload. The Long Walk added live drums to the mix, but in retaining that raw, unproduced approach, the sound didn’t change radically, but instead stepped things up a notch. So this was a band I’d been absolutely busting to see live.

And fucking hell, they know how to deliver. Perhaps it’s because the studio work has a live, immediate feel that on stage they replicate it so well – only with the added bonus of being able to see the sweat and the whites of their eyes from the front rows of a venue like this. The set explodes with ‘The Walk’, and it’s nothing short of devastating. Bloody, brutal, raw, it excavates the depths of nihilism and paranoia. They burn straight into ‘Human Condition’, the album’s second track, and it’s pulverising: everything’s overloading, and Michael Berdan’s wide-eyed, rage-spewing delivery is as menacing as hell. Everything blurs and melts with the heat and the blistering intensity of Uniform’s wall of noise. To complain it’s a bit one-key is to miss the point completely: Uniform savagely drive at that seem of gnarly, shouty rage that takes the template of snotty punk and distils it into something that’s so potent it could make you want to puke.

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Uniform

They piledrive home the end of a scorching and frankly punishing set with – I think – a brutal rendition of ‘Alone in the Dark’. I’m already lost. There’s no encore and we filter out. I’m drained, a husk, and so, so happy.

Christopher Nosnibor

And yet again, after a soaking on my way to see Interpol in Leeds a fortnight ago, the heavens open to deliver a truly tropical downpour, a torrent of fair biblical proportions in stepping out of the station. It’s way to wet to have my phone out to sat-nav to the pub I’ve arranged to meet a mate in, so I take hasty refuge in The Scarboro Hotel.

It’s not hyperbole or dramatic scaremongering to say that this is climate change in effect. It’s been stiflingly hot, we’ve experienced high winds – which is why I left my umbrella at home: Poundland brollies and strong gusts don’t go together – and light showers and some flash downpours. But this precipitation isn’t so much a cloudfall as a monsoon, and as frustrating and mood-despoiling the soaking is, the bigger picture is that this is a sign of things to come. JG Ballard’s 1962 post-apocalyptic sci-fi novel The Drowned World is rapidly looking like future reportage rather than speculation.

It’s a good thing I’m heading to Temple of Boom in my drenched state. Live music invariably proves itself to be a mod-lifter, or at least the best conduit to a window of escapism, and never more than a night of full-throttle metal. It’s a genre I’ve come to appreciate almost exponentially over the last decade after spending years completely disinterested and dismissive. The irony that I considered metal somehow juvenile and primitive isn’t lost as I realise I’ve grown to grasp the sheer diversity of the – infinitely fragmented – genre, as well as the benefits of untrammelled catharsis as a form of therapy.

The tip I’d had ahead of the show suggested Vonnis were pedlars of fairly standard grindy thrash, and musically, this is fundamentally true. It’s all in the delivery, and I’m wondering a day on if their front-man’s antics were the result of drunkenness, insanity, or a combination of the two. Their Facebook bio records a history of ‘dislocated shoulders or open leg fractures’ and a ‘disregard for any kind of personal safety’, and they deliver on that. Tonight’s set found this guy piling up (and falling off) monitors, stumbling wildly, stripping from his boiler suit to socks and boxers and ending the set on the flor in front of the stage with his head in a bin. The whole thing was demented, and was a real horrorshow car-crash of a performance – but it was utterly compelling.

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Vonnis

Bismuth are compelling for all the right reasons, bashing out some monumental noise with drums and bass. By which I mean BASS. Arsequaking bass. Head-shredding bass. Immense bass drones that sound like Sunn O))) and Earth circa Earth 2. Simultaneously. Bass channelled through a pedal board the size of a cruise liner to the point it no longer sounds like bass. An age separates the trike of every chord, every explosive, punishing beat. Bismuth grind it out, low, slow and heavy, but with the full frequency spectrum: bass that sounds like a full band lineup with everything up to eleven, or even twelve.

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Bismuth

Tanya Byrne’s vocals range from a delicate and emotionally-charged melodic to full-blooded howl of pain: it’s all integral to Bismuth’s sound and intensity, and the set concludes with Tanya out in the audience, on her knees, shrieking and howling into a wall of feedback. It feels like the purest catharsis, and the entire room is on edge and close to breaking to bring down a devastating finish.

Whereas Bismuth’s sound is textured, detailed, and atmospheric, Moloch go all out for blunt force trauma. Lumbering riffage provides the backdrop to rasping guttural anguish. There’s something about the vocals, which register in the higher regions, and the way they contrast with the shuddering downtuned sludgefest. There’s also the complete lack of pretence or even any real kind of show involved.

“Hiya, we’re Moloch,” says Chris Braddock as he takes the mic. Cue a wail of feedback before everything crashes in and continues to grind away at a gut-churning crawl for the next forty punishing minutes.

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Moloch

With three guitars dominating the six-piece’s instrumentation, Thou have texture and density completely covered. And despite the fact they’ve been going some fourteen years with only two changes to the lineup, they still appear remarkably youthful. The ever-informative Encyclopaedia Metallum locates them in the bracket of ‘Sludge/Drone/Doom Metal’ and lists their lyrical themes as ‘Despair, Revolution, Societal collapse, Death.’ This does nothing to convey the intensity of their albums or the kind of performance they deliver – or, moreover, the nonchalance with which Bryan Funck – wild-eyed and grey-bearded – delivers his velociraptor vocal scream.

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Thou

It should be harrowing, hellish, but is precisely the opposite. To witness a band so finely-honed, channelling everything into a powerful and relentless piledriving assault is a beautiful and uplifting thing: elating, life-affirming. As they thunder through an immaculate set, I find I’m no longer in the room and everyone else has melted away. There is nothing but this moment, in which I find my mind is empty and I am floating, detached, wired into the music alone. Time stops and the sound becomes everything.

Herod have arisen from the ever- prosperous Swiss music scene. Throughout their young 4 years of presence, they have already shared the stage with such acts as Gojira, Crowbar, The Ocean, Carcass, Obituary, Napalm Death and Voivod – Attesting their repute as the bus boy’s of King Herod, serving up whole sides of rare riffs, disposition, beauty and authority.

Initially the brain child of guitarist Pierre Carroz, 2014 saw Herod’s debut release They were None via Mighty Music and a subsequent European tour. Following the departure of original vocalist David, former THE OCEAN (Precambrian) vocalist Mike Pilat was recruited for follow up album Sombre Dessein.

Pilat also plays guitar and Herod are now furnished with a supplementary layer of musicality to complement both heaviness and soundscape aspects of their palette. CARCASS guitar player Bill Steer makes a guest appearance on ‘Fork Tongue’. Watch the video here:

Sombre Dessein is released on 15th February via Pelagic Records.

Herod will also be touring Europe in March + April with The Ocean:

13/03 – DE, Stuttgart – Im Wizemann

14/03 – CH, Geneva – PTR/ L’Usine

15/03 – FR, Lyon – CCO

16/03 – FR, Toulouse – Rex

17/03 – FR, Marseilles – Les Pennes Mirabeau

18/03 – FR, Colmar – Le Grillen

19/03 – FR, Bethune – Le Poche

20/03 – UK, Birmingham – Mama Roux

21/03 – IR, Limerick – Dolan’s Warehouse

22/03 – IR, Dublin – Voodoo Lounge

23/03 – UK, Glasgow – Audio

24/03 – UK, Leeds – Brudenell Social Club

25/03 – BE, Antwerp – Trix

26/03 – NL, Den Haag – Paard

27/03 – DE, Cologne – Club Volta

28/03 – DE, Leipzig – Werk 2

29/03 – PL, Poznan – U Bazyla

30/03 – DE, Bremen – Tower

31/03 – DE, Hamburg – Logo

02/04 – SE, Stockholm – Fryhuset, Klubben

03/04 – SE, Gothenburg – Tradgarn

06/04 – NO, Stavangar – Folken

07/04 – NO, Hamar – Gregers

08/04 – DK, Copenhagen – Vega

Baptists have announced they are heading to Europe for the first time ever – supporting SUMAC, their third album Beacon Of Faith is out now via Southern Lord. Also joining the tour on select dates are Endon and Nordra. Find full dates below:

BAPTISTS EUROPEAN DATES:

08/03/2019    DK    Aalborg    1000fryd    w/ Nordra
09/03/2019    DK    Copenhagen    Alice    w/ Nordra
10/03/2019    SE    Gothenburg    Skjul Fyra Sex  w/ Nordra
11/03/2019    NO    Oslo    Blä  w/ Nordra
12/03/2019    SE    Stockholm  Kafe 44 w/ Nordra
14/03/2019    NL    Dortmund  Junkyard w/ Endon
15/03/2019    BE    Brussels    Magasin 4 w/ Endon
16/03/2019    UK    Bristol   The Exchange w/ Endon
17/03/2019    UK    Glasgow  Stereo  w/ Endon
18/03/2019    UK    Manchester    Deaf Institute w/ Endon
19/03/2019    UK    London    The Underworld  w/ Endon
20/03/2019    FR    Paris    Petit Bain w/ Endon
21/03/2019    DE    Karlsruhe    Jubez  w/ Endon
22/03/2019    DE    Leipzig    Institut Fur Zukunft w/ Endon
23/03/2019   DE    Berlin    Zukunft Am Ostkreuz  w/ Nordra

Listen to Beacon of Faith in full here:

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Baptists - Beacon