Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Review: Locktender - Kafka

Locktender is stupefyingly brilliant. From Cleveland, Ohio, this art-focused, art-soaked project has made every attempt to both set themselves apart from, and simultaneously set, the norm of heavy music. Where some in the hardcore and metal scenes dabble in kitschy, pseudo-philosophical puns, Locktender dives into the abyss of literature with arms overhead. Rest assured, though, I'm the pretentious ass, not Locktender; leave it up to 4 guys from the vast Midwest (the same Midwest that spawned Hemingway, Vonnegut, and most-importantly, David Foster Wallace) to go full-steam-ahead in a purely gorgeous endeavor with zero pretense and humility the size of the sprawling, corn-sea they hail from. Only the Midwest can do that. 

N.B. that before the actual review begins, I've included a photo of the perfect companion to this listening experience. (Fig. 1)
(1) Ah, companionship.

Sonically, LT commands the listener with gruff, seared vocals and guitar tone so heavy and crippling that your computer will ask for a human response after fifteen minutes of continuous play (listeners by tape deck or turntable are categorically S.O.L.). Take earlier, groundbreaking metalcore bands like 7A7P a la Jhazmyne's Lullaby, and combine with the sheer, rhetorical strength of Wes Eisold (absolutely no relation other than intensity of rhetoric). After combining, multiply your result by the potential your Sophomore year English teacher saw in you, before you started doing drugs. That's Locktender.

Five songs in 34 minutes. Not bad, but is there filler? Surely, there must be. Answer: no. Like contemporaries The Blue Letter (on Prima Facie, who accomplished a similar feat), Locktender manages to present a fully-formed, unblemished lamb unto the listening public--no frills, no filler, no bullshit: hardcore ethic. Guitar leads swim through the alternating vocals--half reverb-heavy clean, half bloody-teeth coarse--and the drums, although being in the majority of modern hardcore bands (i.e., "could have been tracked better"), snap and plow between measures of phenomena, surely inspirational in the truest sense: god-breathed.

What's there to hate, then? Verily, verily, I ask unto thee: what remaineth for thou to loathe? Again: nothing. I, as a complete and utter asshole about music, and one of the few people forced to roam the earth with hyper-opinionated ideals of music, cursed to never be satisfied until the day of my atonement; I, the correcter of grammar mistakes and other mishaps that will never, ever amount to anything beneficial; what have I to find at fault? Well, unless an abundance of genuineness and a passion for art is a fault, there is nothing.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to enjoy a Stone Ruination and wait for Jesus to come back: it's gonna be soon.

Addendum: This is a concept album, based entirely on the lesser-known works of Franz Kafka, i.e., his Aphorisms. If you take a minute, and are interested enough, go to Locktender's website to check out their lyrics, in which they contain the Aphorism that inspired them. Check it out here.

N.B. that I, the author of this review, (sadly) have connection with neither 21st Amendment Brewery nor Stone Brewing Co. Shit. I have things I need to work on.

Last Addendum: Locktender has their entire discography available for download on their website. Isn't that cool? More bands should do that. Wink wink. Nod. Wink. Seriously, bands, do that shit.

Let It Die/Monolithian Split 7" Up For Purchase/Download

The UK's grimy Metallic Hardcore trio Let It Die and Black Metal infused Doom duo Monolithian have released their new split 7" Because The World Is Perfidious, I Am Going Into Mourning via Skin & Bones Records and Moshtache Records. Available in a limited run of 300 on pure black 70g heavyweight vinyl.

The tracks are also available for pay-what-you-want download on the band's respective Bandcamp pages:

Review: Kato - Buried With the Rain

Well, goddamn, chicos y chicas. Carolina's art-sludge boys Kato have released their EP, Buried With the Rain, and all the resounding catastrophes of the outside world have been silenced by BWTR's sheer power. The opening track (or movement) is a heavier-than-hell look into a post-apocalyptic world: very little unification, i.e., scatter-brained step on-and-offs of distortion and reverb, and the consistently inconsistent tempos that ram through the song--destroying the listener and his preconceived notions of hardcore and metal boundaries. 

And I'm just sitting here, with black coffee and a cigarette hanging out of my mouth, shitting myself. 

I mean, how in the hell do I describe the release accurately? It's all I can do to write down anything else but what I'm actually thinking: mainly, "what is this feeling between my shoulderblades? what is this feeling between my shoulderblades? what is this feeling between my shoulderblades? what is this feeling between my shoulderblades? what is this feeling between my shoulderblades? what is this feeling between my shoulderblades? what in the fuck is this feeling that makes me shudder?"

Venturing into near-hardcore arenas in "And All The Rats Gather," with Ceremony-esque down-tempo chugs and the floor-tom work of a peyote-tripping Cherokee Chief, but Kato never quite gets there... They never quite hit the autonomy of hardcore, the self-awareness of punk, or the audacity of metal. In fact, what I can say in full confidence, which is rare--as your reviewer is the kind of 21 year old who tucks in button down shirts into chinos and reads David Foster Wallace over Merlots and IPAs in his spare time--is that Kato's newest effort evokes more of an interminable instrumental feeling than anything. To be sure, the album is aggressive; hell, the album is one of the heavier albums I've heard in a while, but then again, so is Godspeed You Black Emperor's Lift Your Skinny Fists..., and that's what this album is like: the alive in the coffin, the man under (G)od, the alone in the room--claustrophobia with no resolution and no end. 

Sweet Christ.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Review:Centuries-Taedium Vitae


Since 2008, South Florida's Centuries have been a force to be reckoned with as well as a staple of the Florida hardcore scene. Their crusty and dark brand of metallic hardcore brings to mind overseas bands such as Celeste, Martyrdod and Rise And Fall in it's crushing intensity and colossal walls of noise. Without the help of a bigger label, the band has managed to tour the US and Europe multiple times and gain a solid amount of supporters along the way, so it was no surprise to me when Southern Lord picked the band up earlier this year for the release of their debut full length Taedium Vitae, and after countless listens to the LP, it's a choice they won't be regretting, as it's by far the band's finest work to date.

After the ominous opening intro track, the band rips straight into their brand of crushing dark hardcore with a visceral amount of urgency and energy. Faster blackened d-beat sections flow into slow and sludgey breaks before picking right back up again at a moments notice, never resting on the same riff or section for too long. Many bands of this style rely on long, drawn out songs but Centuries embrace brevity on this record to great success:the band delivers exactly what you want to hear with no filler or any chance of a certain section overwearing it's welcome. It's this short and sweet nature of the songs that makes the band's colossal blasts of dark metallic hardcore all the more intense, with only one track on the record surpassing the 3 minute mark and the entire 9 song LP clocking in at just over 20 minutes, the band has created a refreshingly brief record compared to most of the similar style, and it works in the bands favor as you'll be immediately drawn to repeat listens as the songs immediately stick each with their own memorable moments. The recording is also a huge step up for the band as well, perfectly capturing the raw intensity of their vicious live performances with more clarity than ever before.

Being from Florida myself, the punk and hardcore scene here is one of the only things that bring pride to my mind when the state is mentioned, and Centuries have long been one of it's brightest stars. It's outstanding that they have finally been picked up by a hard working label putting out some of the best extreme music right now, and they have delivered an album that stands far and wide those releases and some of the best of the year in general. One of the Florida's best kept hardcore secrets is about to turn heads all over the world, and it's about goddamn time.

Full Album Stream: Afflictive Nature - Judged Punished Erased

A new day brings forth another awesome stream,this time around we're proud to bring you the debut EP from Texas's own Afflictive Nature. Needless to say this EP does the Crossover onlookers in Texas proud. Preorders drop Friday morning on the Life To Live Records webstore, make sure to act fast and snag a copy or two if you dig it.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

NOW AVAILABLE: The Funhouse- Issue #001

After months of delays, Issue #001 of The Funhouse is now available for purchase! 65 copies have been made available for purchase online, the rest will be sold in person and sent to those involved with the zine itself. 

Zine features interviews with: 
Chris Dodge (Spazz)
Adam Dyson (Withdrawal)
Chris Colohan (Burning Love)
Spencer Hazard (Full Of Hell)
Ev Wivell (Mindset)
Danny Lyerla (Earth AD Productions)
Jra Df (Hordes)
+ Album Reviews
Seven Bands To Watch In 2013
and More!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Full Album Stream: Denouncer- Bad Faith

We are extremely excited to bring you an exclusive stream of Denouncer's brand new LP entitled "Bad Faith". Bad Faith features 10 brand new tracks from the band which in my personal opinion is their best work to date. The full length will be available through Hotfoot Records on July 27th.

Make sure to pick up a copy of the new album if you enjoy it! 

PREMIERE: Manalive- Boyd Crowder

NJ's Manalive notably features Amit Sharma (Mother Night), Brian Meehan (Kill Your Idols, Milhouse, Celebrity Murders), Chris Ross (Ensign, Nora, Rain On The Parade), Nate Gluck (Vision, Ensign, For The Love Of…, The Fire Still Burns). They play hardcore in the vein of Deadguy, Strife, and Indecision. It's loud, heavy and pissed off. Manalive are not interested in pretense or posturing, they are here to bring real hardcore back.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Download/Stream: Locktender- Kafka (2013)

Here is the newest LP by Cleveland's Locktender. Crushing and philosophically inspired post-metal/crust. This album sounds amazing. Recorded at the Mars Compound (Integrity, Ringworm, Catharsis.....masakari) by the legendary Bill Korecky, this album leaves little to be desired.

Buy Here
Download Here
Stream Here

Review/Stream: Sex Prisoner- State Property EP

I guess Caution likes my reviews because I have now been asked to review another Bad Teeth Recordings release (you can see my previous reviews of Spine here and Wake Up Dead Comp here), I am not complaining though because a. they have all been killer, and b. he is an awesome guy and I love being able to return the love he has sent my way. So off to my menial ramblings:

Sex Prisoner was a band that I had known only through name up until I reviewed the BTR Comp a few months back. The name always caught me, but I never really picked up any records, probably because I was too busy nerding out on German Crust or Japanese Hardcore. Anyways that is somewhat irrelevant because I now know who they are and have become somewhat acquainted with their sound.

As I write this sentence I am beginning my second listen to the record in its entirety, (my process generally involves multiple listens where I write a bit more with each consecutive play). Also as I sit here, I struggle to remember exactly what I said about them in my previous review, I knew I liked it but I didn’t remember exactly what I said in detail. So rather than rack my brain too much I am going to look it up. Ah, here it is:

I have to say that the first part of the song did not really catch my attention. It seemed fairly generic, however the song really comes into its own around the forty second mark, and from that point on I really enjoy the song. The most noticeable attribute of Sex Prisoner is their bass tone, Which I still can't decide if I love or hate. The bass sounds disgusting, it is loud and super distorted. At times it causes me to stop paying attention everything else, and other times blends super well into the mix.”

Ok, while I admit not the most flattering review, I do remember listening to it and liking it.  I can say a lot has seemed to change in the band’s sound. Now they don’t sound entirely different, they still definitely do the Hardcore/Powerviolence mix pretty well, but there is something new, that either the song on the comp didn’t have, or maybe it just didn’t pop out to me when listening to it isolated in a predominantly punk comp, but this new record has a ton of Old-School Death Metal influence. Sex Prisoner do it right though, they are not just yet another Nails/Trap Them wannabe hardcore band jocking the trend to hardcore fandom (not a slight at the two aforementioned bands, but at the slew of bands imitating them). Sex Prisoner have that DM influence without coming right out and announcing it, its there but if you don’t want to see you will probably just write it off as just another tough hardcore breakdown.

There is a lot that hasn’t changed for me at least. I am still not sure how I feel about the bass tone, it is equally great as it is chunky and a bit overboard, and you know what fuck it I love it because it has character. The drumming is completely top notch on the record. Quick fills and awesome snare bashing fill out the record making it pretty devastating. The guitar has a great tone, very much resembling the Swedish tone, without feeling like a slave to the generally overused HM-2 sound that I personally feel is killing modern fast HC. The guitar has character and clarity, which I feel would be lost in the monotony of the HM-2 tone. (So I don’t look like a clown if the guitarist does in fact use an HM-2, congrats because you do it right, but I have to say it doesn’t sound like he does).

By far my favorite part of the entire record is the beginning of the second to last track ‘Grabbed from the Dark’, which totally has this black metal/crust vibe to it. With each listen it completely grabs me out of my writing and gives me this refreshing feeling as if it was the first time I’ve heard it. (Update: 3 listens in and it is still doing it). Unfortunately, or maybe it is for the better, the part lasts all of about five seconds before the track returns to a more typical Sex Prisoner style riff. I really love when bands decide to experiment and stray from the path that they have defined for themselves, and often this doesn’t happen anymore.

I would have to say that maybe my only complaint with the record is that there are too many songs. I know it is only maybe 11 minutes, but for an EP I prefer 4-5 songs max. This is basically my main problem with fastcore bands. The songs are so short that they have to write more to fill out time, but so many songs played in a row begin to bleed into each other and make it harder for individual tracks to stand out. It is more apparent in LP when bands have 30 some tracks and I’m struggling to make heads or tails out of the record and individuality of songs. To me this feels like almost an LP’s worth of material for a fastcore band, maybe missing a track or two. But I also very well may be in the minority here. There is also the fact that I could just treat this EP as an LP in my head, but fuck it you are reading my review so you have to listen to my ramblings right?

Either way this is a strong release, by a strong band, from a strong label. Go out and buy it before it sells out, and enjoy the stream brought to you by Bad Teeth Recordings

 Standout Songs Include: ‘State Property’, ‘Rat’ and of course my favorite ‘Grabbed from the Dark’.

Buy Here
Bad Teeth Recordings Bandcamp
Sex Prisoner Bandcamp

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Review: The Sheds- I'll Be Fine

The Sheds debut album, "I'll Be Fine" is a pop punk record, but not THAT kind of pop punk. Throwing out the stigmatized idea of the Defend Pop Punk bandwagon, The Sheds bring a return to Fat Wreck Chords and early Epitaph with a sound that is a mix of bands like A Wilhelm Scream, Less Than Jake (sans horns), Lagwagon and Propaghandi. Rather than being a carbon copy of "Sticks and Stones" by New Found Glory with 10 songs of letters and notes to ex-girl friends; The Sheds have a more introspective approach as vocalist Mac Miller (no not the rapper) writes about issues that actually hold merit. Issues range from speaking about how many bands lose their DIY ethics in "Almost Famous" (one of my favorites on the album as it is one of the most experimental) to songs like "You'll Be Fine" the albums closer which is my actual favorite on the album, while beginning slow and somber, it picks up into a catchy and melodious song that is perfect as a closer and lyrically ties the album together. And yes, while this is a pop punk album, "I'll Be Fine" still has some moments where other genres shine through since the bands collective music taste ranges from Ska to Metal and Hardcore as showcased on "Bad Things Are Bad" which features more hardcore or metalcore parts than pop punk. While this is not the average type of post for the site, "I'll Be Fine" is an album that should be listened to as The Sheds have had a long time coming to this point in their career. No they aren't a Title Fight rip off or trying to cash-in on the 90's grunge revival coming back, The Sheds have carved a niche in combining all of their influences and collective music tastes to create an album that ebbs and flows smoothly and is as intricately written as it is catchy. If you like any of the bands listed above and are tired of all the cookie-cutter emo/ melodic hardcore pop punk bands then this is the album for you.

Rating: 4/5
This album is incredibly solid and I have been humming some of the choruses and guitar parts but it isn't a 5 (which in this context for a band like this would be like Saves The Day's "Through Being Cool")

Catch The Sheds on the last leg of this years Vans Warped Tour! Starting this Sunday.

7.26 - St. Petersburg, FL
7.27 - West Palm Beach, FL
7.28 - Orlando, FL
7.29 - Charlotte, NC
7.30 - Cincinnati, OH
7.31 - Milwaukee, WI
8.02 - Dallas, TX
8.03 - San Antonio, TX
8.04 - Houston, TX

Listen to "Writer's Block below!

Stream "I'll Be Fine" NOW!
Preorder the album here

Jungbluth- Part Ache

Year: 2013
Quality: 320kbps
1. Crevasse
2. Wakefield
3. Looks Like Freedom
4. These Rare Moments
5. Au Revoir Tristesse
6. Zwang Abwärts
7. No One But Myself
8. Angebot / Nachsage
9. Crevasse II

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Vulgar Display- Under Darkness & Prayer

Year: 2013
Quality: 320kbps
1. Final Taste
2. No God Here
3. Voices Unknown
4. Architects of Corruption
5. Guilty Spared
6. One Eye Open

Monday, July 15, 2013

Review:Dead In The Dirt-The Blind Hole


Dead In The Dirt have been one of my current favorite heavy bands since I heard their excellent debut EP Vold a few years ago, as well as witnessing their intense live show. The band's intense combination of grindcore, powerviolence and crust on Vold reeled me in the second I heard it and I've been hooked ever since. Their follow up 7 inch Fear was a huge step in sound, and unsurprisingly, their debut LP The Blind Hole is an even greater record than its predecessors. Even saying that, I can't say I was quite prepared for how incredible this debut LP is.

In roughly under 24 minutes, the band tears through 22 songs with a white knuckle intensity rare in most bands. Drawing from influences such as Dropdead, His Hero Is Gone and Left For Dead, the band has honed their craft to perfection, going from short and unbelievably satisfying grindcore to crushing sludge in the drop of a hat."Suffer" opens the album with a furious punk riff before spilling into an intense grindcore section and is over before you know it, while following tracks "The Blaring Eye" and "Swelling" are even more of a blink and you'll miss it affair. It's on the 4th track "Strength Through Restraint" when you are hit with an unbelievably crushing feedback filled sludge riff that you realize the band is clearly at the top of their game on all levels and expanding their sound into different and slower paced territories to great success. This is readily apparent in the lengthier tracks on the record such as "Will Is The War" and "The Pit Of Me" and ridiculously heavy closing song "Halo Crown", the latter reaching an almost Khanate/Sunn level of slow paced sludge that closes out the album in perfect form.The recording (provided by Andy Nelson of the also excellent Weekend Nachos) is also outstanding, precise and clear while still capturing the raw intensity of the band's vicious live show. The only real let down is having to wait until I get a physical copy of the LP to read the lyrics. Dead In The Dirt has always had a strong vegan, straight edge and atheist stance lyrically, and from what I can make out from my initial listens this looks to be the case once again with The Blind Hole, and I can't wait to read along while listening when my physical copy hits my mailbox. I am always a huge fan of bands with something genuine and sincere to say, and Dead In The Dirt lyrically are about as sincere as extreme music gets.

All and all, Dead In The Dirt have crafted an triumphant display of extreme music with The Blind Hole. It's an emotionally intense and wholly bleak record that contains what will undoubtfully end up being some of the outright heaviest and vicious material released by any heavy band this year. It's a record that has continued to hit me as hard as it did the first time even after dozens and dozens of repeated listens over the past week, and I'm sure there are many to come. This is a record that will turn the heads of even the most jaded extreme music fans, and proves itself an essential listen. Expect to see it on my (and most likely many others) top ten list when the year finishes out.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Super Mutant- Grave Steps

Year: 2012
Quality: 320kbps
1. Hole
2. Tasting Blood
3. Grave Steps
4. Polarized
5. ...And Gnashing

Common Ignorance- Demo

Year: 2013
Quality: 320kbps
1. Grill
2. Fall
3. Nice Guys Finish Last
4. F.C.S.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Review:All Pigs Must Die-Nothing Violates This Nature


As far as all star bands go, it's hard to top the pedigree on display in All Pigs Must Die. Consisting of the vocalist known for his work in hardcore staple The Hope Conspiracy and Bars, as well as the drummer from the almighty Converge and the guitarist and bassist of sludge powerhouse Bloodhorse,  it's hard not to get incredible excited about the forces coming together here, and frankly unwise. After a stellar EP in 2010 and their crushing full length debut God Is War a year later, the band has returned with their second LP on Southern Lord entitled Nothing Violates This Nature, and it serves as a continuation of the bloody rampage the band has been on from their inception with no signs of slowing down in sight.

For those unfamiliar with the band, All Pigs Must Die play a brand of crust influenced metallic hardcore that is unrelenting and vicious to say the very least. Nothing Violates This Nature continues that tradition in kind, crashing right out the gate with opening track Chaos Arise and not letting up in intensity through it's 10 song duration. Vocalist Kevin Baker's vocals are again top notch and relentless in their intensity, and they perfectly match the assault the expert execution provided by the rhythm section. Again, as with their last full length God Is War, the band really hits a sweet spot with me on their slower songs/sections. Album standout "Bloodlines" opens with haunting clean guitar before moving into a vicious mid-paced section that is sure to rile up any crowd to the point of nuclear warfare. Following track "Of Suffering" , the lengthiest song and slow paced midpoint of the record, anchors a crushing sludge section on a surprisingly melodic riff that seethes and also builds into a incredibly intense ending, something this band is especially great at. Things mostly stay on the faster end of the spectrum for the rest of the record, and there are plenty of memorable moments to be found. Once again recording with Kurt Ballou of God City Studios/Converge fame, the band again attains the perfect recording to match their unbridled intensity.

Once again, All Pigs Must Die have delivered a scathing full length of intense metallic hardcore that further cements their presence as one of the top tier bands in extreme metal. Nothing Violates This Nature falls in line with the band's previous releases and when your a band churning out some of the best metallic hardcore there is to offer, you'll see no complaints from me. Fans of the band have no doubt already been anticipating this release with fever pitch, and if you haven't heard the band yet, now is the perfect time to start paying attention. Kudos to Southern Lord Records for releasing yet another outstanding hardcore/metal release.