Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Review: Oddczar - One Word LP


Jesus Christ. This band is incredible. I have to say, if you've been keeping up with my reviews, you know that I've been handed an incredible hand lately when it comes to music reviews (and I've done my best to give them the credit they deserve), but sweet Christ almighty... This band is good. And guess where they're from? Charlotte, NC. Yeah. I actually met Matt Brandon (their vocalist) in High School. Crazy how life works. 

One Time For Ya Mind:


"Samsquanch" - Wow. I haven't heard an opening song this good since the beginning of Modern Life Is War's Witness. I can't explain what this song does to me in terms of my psyche and emotional health, but I'll give it a shot. The picking at the beginning makes my skin crawl, and the production is spot on. The mixing of the vocals is perfect, reflecting the rough, cutting lyrics with throaty screams. The drums, pounding in the break in manic, measured blows, are like jabs to the face, while the beautiful melody plays on. Hands down, this song is not only my favorite on the album, but maybe my favorite of all time. "So I breathed you in just to breathe you right back out because our hearts were never one."


"Bud Brothers" - Vocal rhythms. That's what this song is about. When Matt screams the syncopated, "I can't sit still for two fucking minutes," I just about lost it. Mood. That's what Oddczar does best. I don't really know Matt, or any other members of this band, but when that line is screamed, I can feel the emotion, the tension, the dread. Wow.


"Sidesex" - Awesome song name. Other than that, the 1:17 that this song lasts is the most introspective, aggressive, emotional breakdown I've heard in a long time. "I don't remember seeing you without seeing through the holes in us." Killer line. Lyricism in hardcore hasn't been this good since American Nightmare. 


"Junaluska" - From the intro of this song, all the way through, there's a sense of beauty, but beauty that's covering up some other, much less happy scene. There's pain in this track. Very rarely can a band convey pain from the artist to the listener, but Oddczar has proved us all wrong. "Another couple months, and I'll come undone... We're all we've fucking got." The futility of love, covered in the beauty of this track, is displayed like nothing I've ever heard before. 


"Nineteen" - The lead guitar on this track is the most frantic, anxious, dread-inducing thing I've heard in hardcore music in years. This isn't a shocking, slasher movie, this is Hitchcock. This is the dread that resides. I swear to God I almost had a panic attack just listening to this track. Again, if any band has ever been able to capture pain, it's Oddczar. "It's so cold in here; it's so quiet." 


"One Word" - This is the most hardcore-rooted song on the album, and literally sounds like it was recorded in the same session as Give Up The Ghost's We're Down Til We're Underground. The emotion is high, the tension is high, and the lyricism deals more with the loss of love than any other track. Matt captures perfectly the alternating heartbreak and apathy that occur during the breakup of lovers, and the coping of it, while the guitars chug and strum haphazardly. The drums, with perfectly timed fills, remain the backbone of the entire orchestra that is Oddczar. This is one, unified, amazing effort. 


"My Lips Are Seals" - One of my favorite hardcore music devices is feedback with a snare roll to start off a song. Did it. After 1:30 of concentrated, measured hardcore and strained vocals, a beautiful break begins, breaking the heart of everyone in the Southeast. "I guess that I'm fine. I miss, I need you around... Believe me, I'm sorry." It's not sappy in the slightest, but if you don't choke up at all, you're dead. 


"Russian Girls" - "A piece of you has stayed in every bad decision I've made." A lofty statement to make, this opening line is anchored by the jammy, groove-heavy guitars and bass that lead this track to a complete and utter, self-destructive demise. "I'd rather be refused than to be a recluse." And that's it. The end of the album. 

Wow. When asked to do this review, I was simply excited to write on another Charlotte band, but I've been proved wrong by Oddczar. Not only is this a hometown review, this is a review of the most cohesive, beautiful, painful, aggressive, subtle hardcore album I've ever had the pleasure of listening to. I shouldn't even have to tell you this, but BUY THIS.



Interview: KATO (Dylan Inkelaar)




Hey there, boys and girls. I'm comin' at you hard this week--earlier today I wrote a review on Kato's newest effort and, luckily, I got to sneak in an interview with Dylan Inkelaar, Bassist and Vocalist of this killer NC/SC band. Let's get to it! (My questions are in bold and Dylan's answers aren't. It's simple.)
Where are you guys from, and who's in the band?
Hey, Connor. My name is Dylan and I sing and play bass in kato. Our other members are Davide, who also sings and plays guitar, and Nolan, who plays drums.
Where did you get the name kato?
We took our name from the Green Hornet's sidekick, Kato. Looking back it probably wasn't the best choice due to there being a dubstep artist, a rapper, and a Christian folk duo also named Kato. But oh well.
What were the bands that inspired Kato, and what style of music do you play?
Um, I guess it kind of varies from member. But collectively I think it's safe to say we all kind of draw influence from GIANT, Cult of Luna, Russian Circles, and some Converge here and there. We actually started out as just a post-rock, instrumental band but I think we just got a little bored on that and decided to throw in our heavier side and then kato was born. As far as style I guess it'd be a post-metal/hardcore mixture of some sort.
What influences your material on "Came With Nothing/Left With Nothing?" Especially on tracks like "2:37" or "I will repeat my mistakes?"
The tracks off of "Came with Nothing/Left with Nothing" are songs that were pretty influenced by Converge and Russian Circles. We tried to make each song as different as we could just so the release would be fairly diverse. "2:37" is a song where we tried to take a different approach and to just write a more 90's screamo, emotional song. "I Will Repeat My Mistakes" is definitely the more hardcore/power violence side of kato, which is starting to become a bit more evident in our newer songs but then still maintaining our lighter, post-metal side.
What made you decide to release CWN/LWN as a donation/non-profit EP?
We decided to do that release as donation based release mainly because everybody in kato understands that by being in a band you have an awesome opportunity to help the communities around and that you should take advantage of that opportunity. It's just our way giving back to our home states and saying "Thank you." Donation and charity is something that we plan to keep as deeply rooted in kato as much as we can.
What are your plans for writing over the next year?
Right now we're finishing up the writing process for next EP that is going to be released via Speedowax Records on a 7" record in July this year. We go in to record in April at Lgt Biz with Kris Hilbert, who recorded/mixed/mastered our last release.
Tour Plans?
Touring doesn't happen very easily for kato, we're all full-time students and also work. But right now we're in the process of booking a short summer tour and probably doing a couple weekend runs. We'll head back out in December/January and then hopefully in the summer of 2014 we'll be doing a full US tour.
What are your favorite active bands right now?
My personal favorite bands right now would have to be Torch Runner, Black Mask., Center of the Sun, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Heartless, Oddczar, and Young and in The Way. I've also been on a Death Cab for Cutie kick for awhile now.
Any special thanks or shout-outs?
Go check out Speedowax Records, VICES, Replicas, Votnut, Headfirst! Records, Mayfly Records, and D U T C H G U T S. Cool friends doing cool things in/for DIY music.
Alright, thanks!

Review: Clockwork - Clockwork EP




Clockwork is an incredible alternative/punk band from Michigan, that plays moody, transcendental pop punk in the same open, visceral vein as Hot Water Music, Make Do And Mend, and Balance and Composure. Rarely do I write reviews for bands like this, because I think the pop punk scene has become so diluted with imposters and generic knock-offs. However, after these guys got my attention, I couldnt shake them off. They play the music that first got you into punkcatchy enough to be listenable, but still filled with piss and vinegar.

This shits like Clockwork:

Crashing Big ups right off the bat, for these guys choosing this song to open the EP. This song definitely shows the range of their songwriting, from being aggressively punk (like Hot Water Music) to having a slower, cleaner side that will make a Jimmy Eat World fan piss themselves (sorry, floor). This track ends with the classic line, BACK TO WHERE I STARTED FROMand feedback. This song doesnt reinvent the wheel, but it spins just the way you want it to. Perfect, guys.

Worrywart – “What are we so afraid of?The question that starts the track is one that turns over and over in the stomach, much like the worry that the song describes. The guitars, repeatedly scaling up and down, add to the anxiety of the track, only to be resolved by a killer bass solo/break that I havent heard since NOFX. And yeah, I like NOFX. But, in short, Clockwork, the only thing were afraid of is that youll stop making music.

Captain or Trapped In?- Besides the obviously killer title, this track kicks so much ass, that I wont say too much about it. Honestly, this song, with its perfect balance of aggression and melody, is probably my favorite on the EP. Where did everybody go?Regardless of genre or musical preference, this is the question of our generation. No one ever truly stays the same, and those who do are left behindthis fear, this anxiety, is captured perfectly in this song, and they refuse to truly resolve the song, forcing the listeners to answer their crises alone. Nailed it, Clockwork.

Ad and Subtract Powerful vocals, fresh hooks, and the most fun lead riffs; this song is a great closer to the EP. With this track, they utilize everything, and it more than pays off, making a strong social statement while maintaining their catchy, hook-laden song structure. I cant get over what a breath of fresh air this release is. In a stagnant scene, thick with merch-junkies and consumers, they make the horrifying statement, Now, were walking billboards.Incredible.

I cant emphasize what a great release this is, boys and girls. Clockwork is relevant while being unique, and powerful without being tactless. They make pretty music with aggressive parts, and aggressive music with pretty parts. They are everything you want them to be, and yet, everything you didnt think they could be. Do yourself a favor and buy this 7.

Clockwork is your new favorite band. 


Review: Kato - Came With Nothing/Left With Nothing EP


This band caught my attention for two killer reasons: 1) They're from Charlotte, NC/Rock Hill, SC--which is where I spent my teenage years and 2) They're donating all of the profits of this album. What's even better than a benefit album? The charities they chose: a no-kill animal shelter in NC and a children's home in SC. Both of these are incredibly noble and necessary--and, unfortunately, overlooked-- charities. However, their hearts aren't the only thing made out of gold; this album kicks ass, and takes all of your names.

This track-by-track is for the children, the puppies, and the kittens that will live happier lives because of this release:

"The Room" - This song starts with a jammy little intro, almost reminiscent of one of the more LSD-influenced Smashing Pumpkins songs--all reverb, all fuzz, and a dad-rock drum beat to back up this fun. However, once the vocals come in, the guitar cleans up, showing the serrated, cutting edge of the vocals. Enter a kick ass lead riff and an end jam, and this short, beautiful song gets you in the perfect mood for Kato.

"2:37" - The first vibe I got from this song was Ruiner. Now, regardless of your personal feelings about the Maryland assholes (self-admitted, of course), that is a huge compliment coming from me. Separated by a crushing break, the end of the song is exactly what I wanted: more emotionally-driven aggression--with the haunting, "2:37 INSIDE OF MY HEAD. I'LL BEAT THIS HORSE 'TIL THE DAY THAT IT'S DEAD." I can't shake it. Well done, boys.

"Walking Out" - Alone in a dark room, with no chance of salvation. Hopelessness, loneliness, fear, anxiety. Those are all feelings that this song will inject deep into your veins. Like a slow cut from a dull blade, this song takes its time with you--it doesn't let up--it gives you time to think about all of your mistakes. This song is more effective at motivated repentance than the Catholic church.

"I Will Repeat My Mistakes" - Fast, dark, heavy. This song is only 1:00 long, but it's all that's necessary to convey the incredible, inspiring message of this song: " I refuse, to abuse, These hands Ive been given for an honest days living." Whether in context of animal abuse, child abuse, spousal abuse, or any sort of physical abuse, these are powerful words meant for a powerful message. And it got through to me. Incredible.

"Came With Nothing (Left With Nothing)" - Following bands like Neurosis, the intro to this track is sludgy, dark, and heavy; after 2:00, opening up with muddled, fuzzy lead over the clunking, punching bass. Finally, at 3:30, we get the let up of clean, reverb-heavy guitars, and the melody of crisp, slow drums. like taking a deep breath after almost asphyxiating, this song is fresh, beautiful, and overwhelmingly pure. Damn, the guitar just dropped out for a perfect, spine-tingling second, showcasing the drums before going back into the heavy, slow riff that dominates this track. This is an instrumental track that is just as moving as their vocally-charged songs--this is a rarity.

The ending of, simply feedback, is the perfect close to this beautiful, emotive album that is both crushingly aggressive, and filled with stomach-turning ecstasy. Even without the motivating aspect of donating to charities, this album is beautiful, heavy, and necessary to the hardcore scene--presenting a mix of sounds that every single person in the scene can benefit from. Buy this.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

ACxDC- TBFH Session #003

Year: 2013
Quality: 320kbps
Tracklist:
1. Intro
2. Milk Was A Bad Choice
3. T-Shirt Time
4. Turtle Power
5. Trolls 
6. Loathe 
7. Fiction Monger 
8. Eye In The Sky 
9. Worthless 
10. Crux 
11. Leech 
12. We Kill Christians
13. Broken // Fixed 
14. Bone Claw 
15. Death Spare Not The Tiger 
16. Fuck It Dood...Lets Go Bowling 
17. Jokes On You

Monday, February 25, 2013

Review: Aviator - January 2013 (Live)


Let's get right into this--no frills. Aviator is a beautifully abrasive, emotional hardcore band from Massachusetts. Having only been to Massachusetts a few times, all I know about Mass is that they have Converge and Bane. Well, luckily for me, Aviator has lived up to the standard that their fathers (and contemporaries--wow) have set, and this effort is the live version of 6 incredible, mind-numbing, evocative pieces of art. 

You: read this track-by-track. 

"Solemn Mountain" - a perfect opening track, this song sets the mood for the release; the lead guitar punctuating the atmosphere of the rhythm like stabbing something beautiful, but the beauty remaining. It isn't so much a song as it is a short story or narrative, and an incredible one at that. The emotion begins with an aggressive spoken word; these are angry poets, barking the ballads of Bukowski and Richard Bachman. The haunting "I will always remember" at the end cements the piece in all of its artistic beauty. 

"A Thousand Typewriters" - Aggression. This song begins in the anxious, battering, heavy chords, breaking rhythm like the plates your mom used to throw at your dad. After the lead kicks in, the song structure envelops you, taking you away, capturing you. And just when the melody is at a climax, the kick drum pounding like fists on a stage, the guitar stands alone, a slow riff scaling down. The drums fill, and hit the perfect beats, a jazz epic, and then it comes in--"Will we ever stop the bleeding?" Anxiety, emotion, and folks, this is a live recording. "I am still beating myself up, over everything... over nothing at all." And then the fury. The aggression. The bleeding vocal cords. Ending on the same anxiety it started with, this song is your new favorite.

"Forms (les feuilles mortes)" - Right off the bat, I appreciate this song. Knowing French, they don't capitalize the title--a grammatical correction. Awesome little bit. So let's get to the song: this jam starts off with drums, jazz chords, and a perfectly piercing bass; it sounds like the best La Dispute song, but without all the crying--all the poetry, all the art, and none of the gimmick. Out goes the jazz, and in comes the blues-y sounding punk, that remains until the military snare breaks and the lead plays shrieking, clean, and high--apathetic to the rest of the structure, and the bass flipping off the guitar strings and drums, playing on and on, with no remorse. I love when a band implements bass well, and sweet holy Christ, this band is my new favorite. That's it. 

"A Thousand Monkeys" - Right off, this guitar is incredible. Truly amazing, intricate artwork. Don't let the drums and vocals confuse you: the guitar is the song. Never have I heard a band use two guitars more effectively to create true, emotive pieces of pure artwork. I mean that. The only complaint I have with this song is that they didn't close the album with it. It's the type of track that makes you close your eyes; it makes you feel. You will cry. 

"I'm Sick Of Standing in The Same Place" - An incredible song. It reminds me of La Dispute but only the best parts, and none of the crying. Then this comes and I pissed myself: "I WON'T FALL BEHIND." Holy shit. The pure, unadulterated fury and aggression of this track is so incredible, I can't even stand it. This is the heaviest part of any song I've ever heard, much less a post-hardcore song. They threw the gloves off with this song, and they're hitting you right in your goddamn mouth--just like you deserve, you bastards. They end it with panic attack drums, and delusional, LSD-soaked guitar that fold in on themselves for every second of feedback. The end.

"Harvest Words" - Beginning with slow, building guitar, this song quickly opens into the broad field of hopelessness and fear. Without being dark at all, this song makes the listener experience the full range of insanity. Sanity turns to doubt, doubt leads to the fear of insanity, the fear of insanity leads to absolute paranoia, and paranoia leads to insanity. "GRIND MY TEETH TO FALL ASLEEP." Loneliness, despair, fear, hopelessness. This is good, ladies and gentlemen. This is really, really good. 

This is already the best post-hardcore album of the last year...
And it's a live album...
I'll let you process that.

I'm not going to give you a long, drawn out closing statement, because I don't want to detract from the band that just shocked me into, and out of, existence. Just... listen to this band. I cannot express this enough: this band is easily the best post-hardcore band out there right now. If you're not listening to them, you're an absolute dumbass.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Review:Iron Reagan-Worse Than Dead

2013

Iron Reagan could be considered a "supergroup" of sorts, comprised of members of Darkest Hour and Municipal Waste, two of Richmond's most well known metal bands. While their are certainly traces of both bands to be found here, the band steers more toward the hardcore punk spectrum, offering up a debut full length of crossover influenced hardcore punk packed to the brim with awesome riffs and all out rage. With flashy gimmicks nowhere to be found. Iron Reagan gets straight to the point and hit the nail straight from the head.

Right out the gate, you will notice the lyrical content of the album is far from a good time. After listening to Municipal Waste's ballads of partying as hard as is humanly possible for years, it's refreshing to see vocalist Tony Foresta explore the bleak and desperate aspects of trying to survive in the modern age. It's all very well written and gives you something to think about whenever you can manage to take a second away from banging your head furiously. With none of the 19 songs passing the 2 minute mark and everything running at a furious pace, brevity works in the bands favor brilliantly with no song or riff overstaying it's welcome.

Overall, Iron Reagan have crafted an excellent debut LP that clearly benefits from the musical chops the members have honed to perfection in their previous bands, while at the same time also standing out on it's own as an excellent thrash influenced hardcore record, one that will both please fans of their other bands as well as newcomers alike. Here is hoping the band is planning on touring quite a bit throughout the year and beyond, because I am more than ready to rage.








SoCal riff-bruisers Treacherouskin have their 7" Smother Earth available for preorder over at Mind Melt Enterprises. Some of you have probably already grabbed the download of this from a while back and know how heavy it is so grab a copy and support these babes.

Available in black, dark blue or red (or a package deal of all three colours).


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Interview: DROUGHTS


Well hello! I got lucky this week, boys and girls. I got the chance to interview one of my favorite bands, DROUGHTS, and debut them on this site. This is what life is all about. Droughts rules, and if you don't like them, you're a fool. (My questions will be normal, and their answers will be in bold.)
1) What is Droughts and who is in this band?
(Will)
Droughts is a loud Alternative Rock band consisting of 4 dudes that literally don't have much in common besides enjoying the music we write. I'm Will and I play guitar, Joe plays bass and does vocals, John plays drums and Nick plays guitar.
(Joe)
Lies... Will thinks we all have less in common than we actually do...
2) Where are you guys from?
(Will)
We are from Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. Everyone but me are from the south suburbs but majority of the band lives in the city now.
3) FLASH: Who was better, Biggie or Nas?
(Will)
I enjoy both of them but lets be honest since Nas' career was longer he's had plenty of duds so I'd have to say Biggie. Also Biggie was an epic story teller, Jesus. I do love Nas though and John likes Nas more than Biggie.

4) Since you released Unmoved (which is the most played album, as well as the most played individual tracks, in my music library), you had the Split with William Bonney, and I believe that's it. Do you have anything up your collective sleeve?
(Will)
We haven't talked about it much outwardly but we are working on our first album. It's a long time coming for us since we've been basically playing the same 6 songs for almost the entire time we've been a band (which is basically 3 years now). Just know that our first "proper" release is going to stand apart from the little we've put out and hopefully showcase where we are now as a band. We are all honestly excited. The reaction we've been getting from our newer ideas have been nothing but positive so it's a bit motivating to get more done sooner than later. We were a little worried because of how different things are but it's working out.


5) A heavy theme on Unmoved was that of the inadequacy of religion. Was that intended to be a statement on the futility of grasping for more? Or simply a personal statement on the faith of a particular person? (I am of course referring to the lines at the end of "Paper Cut Outs", which you guys also renamed, correct?)
(Joe)
We've had like 4 names for that song haha.. My indecisiveness has caught up to me, so i think we can keep it at "Paper Cut Outs". I never really thought us to be a band that takes a strong stance on religion, but as a group we have pretty diverse set of beliefs. Those lines specifically ("you've spent a long time praying to your god, so go ahead and pray to your god") were directed at a person from my past. He always prayed to god whenever he wanted something good in his life to happen. He treated god/religion like a magic genie that would grant wishes if you prayed really, really hard. That entire song is just about how people you thought were close friends drag you down into their shit and criticize everything you worked for.
6) Boxers or thongs? No in-between. Go.
(John)
I've never really worn a thong, but I have this way I know how to tie a shoelace where it kinda fits like one and it's alright.
7) Who would you say are your influences? 
(Will)
Well as an entire core we don't have many bands we agree on but we grew up enjoying bands like: Thursday, Sparta, These Arms Are Snakes, Trail of Dead, mewithoutYou, cursive.
When it comes to our music we take a lot from what we all personally like. From embarrassing punk bands we liked in high school, to older alternative, hardcore or even the drowsiest gaze based bands.

8.) what are your plans for writing/releasing music in the next year?
(Will)
So far we have 2 releases planned for 2013. It's weird because for a few months everything's been prospects and lately I guess our plans are starting to feel "real" since plans are becoming more solidified. Things are slowly materializing so it's all still becoming more "official". One of those releases is a full length.
(Joe)
the other is a secret... 
9) on a similar note, What are your plans for touring in the next year?
(Will)
We spent a week out east with our friends Kittyhawk a month ago, and we're looking to do a weekend here or there and possibly another week maybe in the spring. Who knows, again everything are still all prospects for now. We'd love to do a bit more this year, somehow.
(Joe)
Droughts world tour. Opening for Fall Out Boy. 

10) Who are a few of your favorite active bands, right now?
(Will)
Xerxes, Native, Into It. Over It., Such Gold, Nails, True Widow, Soul Control, Chelsea Wolfe
(Joe)
United Nations, I can really list a lot, but I won't...
11) This is going to be a generic question, asking you if you want to give any shout outs or thanks to anybody. Please answer accordingly.
Bands we are friends with and fully support: Brighter Arrows, Thieves, Alta, William Bonney, Itto, The New Diet, Frameworks, Acidic Tree, Cloakroom, Half Milk, The Para-Medics, Steady Hands, Kittyhawk, State Faults, Alta and others I can't think of right now. Most importantly we need to thank our friend Sean who recorded everything we have up to this point. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Ruptures- TBFH Session #002

Year: 2013
Quality: 320kbps
Tracklist:
1. Junegloom
2. Meca
3. Kilos////Saviour
4. Circles////Verde
5. Deca
6. Upper

Monday, February 18, 2013

Review: False Light - Self Titled 7"



Charleston SC's False Light have their self titled 7" up for free download via their Bandcamp (also via Dead Chemists Records Bandcamp) and what a rager it is! Fast, slow, thick, grimy, you name it. Is it Powerviolence or is it Grindy Hardcore? I don't know and frankly I don't really care, I just know that doing a headbang is one of my favourite hobbies and False Light bring the windmill in large amounts. I could do a comparison to a few other bands but that would taint the first listen for a lot of people so just go an grab it (for zero money no less) and see for yourself.  If you like the digital product you can spend a couple of pennies on a physical copy from the band themselves or via the UK's Dead Chemists Records or the mighty fine Headfirst Records.
The first press is a run of 300 available on "murky water" colourway which is a pretty decent representation of the filthy sounds contained within the grooves.

http://thefalselight.bandcamp.com/
http://deadchemists.bigcartel.com/ (UK/Euro pre-orders)
http://headfirstrecords.limitedrun.com/ (USA Preorders)
https://www.facebook.com/falselight
https://www.facebook.com/deadchemistsrecords
https://www.facebook.com/headfirstrecords

Saturday, February 16, 2013

xRepentancex- In Violation of Aša

Year: 2013
Quality: 320kbps
Tracklist:
1. Intro
2. In Violation of Aša
3. War of Attrition
4. Repentance

Terminal Crisis- Winter Demo

Year: 2013
Quality: 320kbps 
Tracklist: 
1. Midlife 
2. You Choose 
3. Bored 2 Death 
4. Upright Pig 
5. Fight/Die 
Featuring members of Beartrap, Draize, Curmudgeon, and Cerce. One of the best demo's I've heard so far this year, HIGHLY suggest giving it a listen.

Review: Waypoint - Hollow Ground EP


Let me start off by saying that this review was a nice surprise for me. A very nice surprise. I was asked by Cody Bass, one of the members of Waypoint to do this review after he had read my review for Frameworks (which you can read here), and I was hesitant to do a request until he told me it was post-rock influence indie. At this, my ears perked up, as I've been on a GYBE! kick for the greater part of the last year, and while this release isn't it the same vein as instrumental post-rock bands like Godspeed or Explosions in the Sky or Mogwai, it is an amazing entity; Waypoint is unique, providing a new experience in ambient post-rock, as well as heavier indie music.

This track-by-track is brought to you by my boyish infatuation with bands who know how to use reverb and delay correctly:

"Convinced" - At first, the quick syncopation of the drums reminded me of Edison Glass and La Dispute, which is always nice for an intro, but after the vocals came in, I realized that this was not going to be a run of the mill indie/emo band. And thank god. The vocals are strong, built thick and sturdy like a stallion. This guy definitely has a beard. I've never seen him, but I guarantee he has a beard. The vocals are similar to Balance and Composure on Only Boundaries, and overall sounds like the brilliance that My Epic created over the span of their career. At 2:00, there's an incredible instrumental break, with softly crooned vocals, with the guitars just picking four notes, that expands and unraveled into a beautiful reverb, snare, and high hat-heavy soliloquy, like the band knows something that I don't, and won't tell me. That's the only way I can describe it. What a nice surprise. On to track two.

"Let In" - Following suit with the last song, this track is a bit more poppy, but maintains the integrity set up by the EP's opener. The guitars on this track are more free-range, floating in and out of key, swooping and soaring on their own free will. This track is another ode to the trail that My Epic blazed, but they have improved the best aspects and dropped the undesirable ones. With every crisp, clean higher note, they counterbalance it with a blunt, murky, lower note, adding to the texture and direction of the piece. The drums do the perfect job of complementing the guitars with ferocity and subtlety but never daring to take away from them. A great track with a killer outro, glockenspiel included. Reminiscent of GYBE! I dig.

"Hollow Ground" - Already, this track is incredible. So far, there's Godspeed-esque static and "swirls," and three notes of thick, ambient, reverb-heavy lead guitar. Now the drums are coming in. Shit, this is a great intro. The lead guitar trills at just the perfect times, never too showy or obnoxious, and the rhythm guitar just sticks to the magic that it's working. Nice addition of vocals on this. Fitting, self-indulgent, masturbatory vocals that demand the attention of the listener. The verses still remind me of My Epic and Balance and Composure, which is totally fine by me. The end of the track is perfectly haunting, bringing this EP to a close that is unsettling, but more than unsettling, it begs for more--for resolution.

And I hope we see that resolution on their next effort, because this was incredible. It's not what we usually review, but this band has struck gold for their genre, and deserves their spot on this site by every capacity. Hard-working, honest music made by honest, hard-working Mississippi boys.

Review:Frameworks-Small Victories


After reading my review of Narrative's newest effort (which you can find here), Ryan Hiebendahl asked me to review the newest release on 13th Floor Records. After learning that it was Frameworks, and after ordering the vinyl here, I was more than thrilled at the opportunity to review this killer band and their new effort. So, let's start with the basics: Frameworks is a post-hardcore band from Gainesville, Florida--which is already a good sign if you know anything about Hot Water Music (or music in general)--that plays furious, spastic music with just the right amount of melody, and balanced perfectly by the punctuation of harsh screams, yells, and tightly-tuned snare.

Here's a track-by-track. Eat it up.

"Ida" - The intro to this song is deceptive, with its chaotic opening chords, the battered screams, and the fast drumming. However, after exactly 40 seconds, we get to see the stunning, inner workings of Frameworks, which is their ability to be emotive and evocative, while still be crushingly intense. I would be lying if I tried to say that this song didn't make me cry the first time I heard it. With the break at the end, the distant screams and the sonic atmosphere? Yes. I cried.

"Sewn" - What an incredible track. The fury of the rhythm guitar is set off perfectly by the pretty, almost twinkling notes of the lead, and that's just for the first 12 seconds. At thirteen seconds, the guitars crunch and smash into each other before resolving into a twinkly post-hardcore riff that sounds like La Dispute without the crying and sulking. This is hardcore, people, it's just breathtaking, mature hardcore. The combination of feedback in the bridge, the pounding, almost-tribal drums, makes me want to dance and act like a damned fool, so thank god I was snapped out of it by the end break that paralyzed me.

"Model Homes" - This is it. This is the opening to the song that begins the future of hardcore. Through the first three tracks, we can see more and more of Frameworks' personality, and their prowess as artists, but the intro to this track is the exact natural progression of what's necessary in hardcore--beauty. I cannot stress that word enough, especially with Frameworks. Even the discordant moments in this song, the harsh vocals, the deafening drums, they all serve to make this piece of music more beautiful by comparison. This is artwork, this is beauty.

"Old Chokes" - After the last three tracks, this is what you've been waiting for. This is, honestly, the most beautiful piece of hardcore music I've heard in years. Utilizing horns in the same way that their predecessors in American Football and The Promise Ring did, they allow the music to speak for itself. They let the vocals, although they are constant, be the background to the sonic masterpiece that is unraveling and revealing itself to us. This song is the musical equivalent to the film "Tree of Life," which, if you don't live in a grave, is one of the greatest movies of all time, and one of the highest cinematic achievements of EVER. 

I've heard a complaint that post-hardcore "gets boring," but if you're bored with this effort, you need to check your pulse. Frameworks is here, and they're changing the whole game of music, art, and sound.

Review:Vices/Narratives-Split



Narratives is a band from Charlotte, NC, that plays crusty, dark hardcore in the vein of Young And In The Way, Cursed, and (at moments) Converge. Vices plays kick ass blues-influenced hardcore punk, similar to the musical aspects of Sabertooth Zombie (but less skate punk) and Kids Like Us (but less unnecessary heaviness). Both of these bands are killer, so I’m just going to let the music speak for itself.

Track-by-track. One time 4 ya mind:

“Chained” – The first thing that struck me about this track is how much I dig the guitar, which is very similar to Modern Life Is War’s “Marshalltown” in the sense of its folky nature, and the juxtaposition of the harsh vocals against the clean guitar. The vocals on this track almost remind me of the band Ambitions (that was on Bridge 9 records for 8 months, I think), with the gargle in the melody, a tactic that takes the track from a blues song, back to its roots in hardcore punk. However, during the bridge, there is the most absolutely kick ass solo I've heard in a hardcore song in years. It reminds me of a NC band called Mean Streets that was around for a little over a year, back in the day. Blues, hardcore—in short, this track is 3:07 of pure, passive aggression in the most beautiful, sadistic way. 

“Incensed” – Wow. This track comes for a completely different end of the spectrum than “Chained,” and reminds me of the Jacksonville sound that exists so well in another great band—Kids Like Us—in the best sense, with the blues solo and the raw, southern passion for the art of the song. The vocals are completely schizophrenic, at times softer and crooning in an off-key yell, and at others, harsh, brash, and cutting. This could be a single on the mixtape for the south's rising again. 

“Alone In The World” – This is the first track from Narratives on the split, and one of my favorites. What Narratives, hailing from my hometown of Charlotte, NC, have done to hardcore and metal music is similar to what their contemporaries in YAITW have been doing, which is obviously working. This song starts with a slow, callused riff and menacing drums before bringing in the vocals--a gravelly, hoarse scream. This song is only 1:11. Yes, one minute and eleven seconds. This song kicks so much ass that they only had to make it a minute long.

“Alone At The Gates” – First of all, the concept of “Alone in the world, alone at the gates” is a haunting image, and an image that will not be soon forgotten, especially in, as Flannery O’Connor called it, “the Christ-haunted South.” Secondly, this song rips. This is all the terror and speed of crust punk, and all the agony and self-loathing of dark metal, combined with a visceral new outlook on both the hardcore scene as an entity. These two tracks provided on the split loop into one another, presenting a hectic, apocalyptic view of life, death, hope and hell in less than four minutes.

If you’re reading this, buy this split. Head bang till your neck bleeds.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Review: Young And In The Way/Withdrawal-Split



Let me first express my gratitude to Young And In The Way (who, for the rest of the review, will have their name shortened to "YAITW") for representing my hometown with such incredible music. I grew up from Middle School to High School in Charlotte, NC, and it's absolutely crazy to see bands like YAITW or Narratives blazing a new trail in the hardcore/metal music scene - one that has been dead for a long time in Charlotte (which was drenched in equal parts Oi! and Grindcore for the last 10 years). So, to YAITW, I thank you and Charlotte thanks you. Now, to their newest effort, this split with Withdrawal. I, honestly, had only seen Withdrawal's release on distro sites and in a few local record stores before hearing this EP, and what an insane surprise. They live up to their affiliation with Holy Terror and stride in the same path that Ringworm and Integrity took in the Mid-1990s, which is not only refreshing, but also necessary for the hardcore scene at large--the respect for roots, and the desire to reinvent and make better.

Without further ado, here's a quick track-by-track, to get you in the mood:

1) "Psycopathy" - Holy shit. This is YAITW at their fastest. From the first lines of the song, "he wakes with me," the band doesn't let up into their normal, groove-heavy breaks until two minutes and eleven seconds into the song, with a harsh vocal delivery, and the sludgy crunch of the guitars coming in to decimate the rest of the track. With this track, the opening track, they want the listener to know that there is no hope for salvation, and that the only hope is the conformation to darkness and dread. Buy your goats, sacrifice them quick; it's going to be a long ride as long as YAITW is playing.

2) "Vaticide" - Let me take a minute to help out those of you too lazy to Google search what "vaticide" means: "the act of killing a prophet, or prophets." Alright, now that you know what the song name means, everything changes. The song starts off with a nice, 4/4 riff in pretty standard tempo, until there's a feedback harmonic, which is the catalyst for the remainder of the song. The drums start and remain at breakneck speed until 1:36, when the dark, gloomy riff comes in--the dark riff we knew was going to come. And for the last 45 seconds of the song, YAITW plays the most spine-tingling, wall-punching riff on the split. Let me be clear: I don't room mosh, but this song makes me want to take the pillow my mom bought me for Valentine's day and beat my football trophies through the drywall. This shit is crazy.

3) "Of Soul and Sacrifice/Guardian Angel" - This is my first exposure to Withdrawal, and I have to say I am impressed. Extremely impressed. The opening to this track is everything that Ringworm did on The Promise and didn't do after Birth Is Pain--everything you cried and prayed to any/all gods about. Then, the second part of the song comes on, and it's exactly what you wanted--more Holy Terror: It's Ringworm, it's Integrity, it's The Banner; it's everything you wanted, but thought didn't exist anymore. Listen to this song while jogging, or maybe something like yoga, but never listen to this in public, because you may actually kick the shit out of someone.

4) "Human Garbage Existence Disease" - Well, you have to hand it to Withdrawal; what they lack in the subtlety of their song titles, they make up for in leaps and bounds with their ability to write a killer song (both literally and metaphorically). However, as you can clearly see from the name of this song, this track is a jam; an unrepentant, unashamed jam. Like the last track, this is beautiful, depraved, Holy Terror madness at its finest. The constant, syncopated double bass that leads up to "AS WE DROWN IN DISEASE," when the riff of God's lifetime is raining down on your skull, and then it's unholy chaos for the last minute of the track. Holy Terror madness.

Ok, so if you haven't been keeping up, here's the bottom line: BUY THIS. I don't care if you get it digitally or on vinyl, just get it. Tell your girlfriend to buy this for you for your birthday, or tell your boyfriend to buy it for you since he was an asshole and probably forgot Valentine's Day (like a lot of us did--sorry). Just get it.

Thanks again to Young And In The Way for keeping Charlotte alive, and thanks to Withdrawal for keeping (un)Holy Terror alive. 

And don't forget to BUY this shit when it comes out!

Impulse- Chula Violence

Year: 2012
Quality: 320kbps
Tracklist:
1. Externalize
2. Alone
3. Monster
4. Chula Violence
5. Guilt
6. Sandman
7. Lame
8. Nothing Special
9. Wrong
10. Obsession
11. Odd God
12. Burden
13. Dysfunctional

14. Just Because 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Review:Seven Sisters Of Sleep-Opium Morals

2013

Goddamn.

I've been a big fan of Seven Sisters Of Sleep since their self titled LP dropped in 2010.  Playing an unbelievably heavy and absolutely vicious mixture of metallic hardcore and doom/sludge, the band immediately won me over and I've been keeping tabs on them since. Needless to say, I was excited to say the least when I was given the opportunity to review Opium Morals, their new LP and second for the always excellent A389 Records. But no level of excitement could have prepared me for how good this fucking rager of a record is, as this is far and wide the most impressive material from the band thus far.


This is also by far the best sounding release from the band yet, maintaining the raw intensity of the earlier records while managing to sound unbelievably loud, clear, and massive. Showing immense progression in all aspects of their sound, the band tears through the 10 tracks on this LP with an unrelenting intensity that doesn't let up throughout. Managing to successfully channel the soul crushing doom of genre greats like Crowbar, Eyehategod and Noothgrush, the band keeps things dynamic and interesting at every turn, seamlessly transitioning from crushing slower sections to faster hardcore punk sections and blasts of blackened metal and back again, with no riff ever overstaying it's welcome, and not a single note wasted. It's honestly one of the most addictive heavy albums I've heard in quite some time period, and it's diversity begs for repeated listens as each track is a standout on it's own and even stronger when taken with the album as an entire listen.


With Opium Morals, Seven Sisters Of Sleep prove to be a band evolving into something truely special, and this release shows a band that has truely come into their own. Until it's release via A389 in March, you can stream a few songs from the release via the links below.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Disapproval- El Monte Youth Authority

Year: 2012
Tracklist:
1. Ego Trip
2. Never Right
3. Working Song
4. Gone Dull
5. El Monte Youth Authority

Rah- Let Me To Believe

Year: 2012
Tracklist:
1. The Other Side 
2. Natural Selection 
3. Give Up 
4. Scene Report 
5. Don't Mean Much 
6. All I Want 
7. Pleasure & Pain 
8. Wasn't Worth It 
9. Preach 
10. X's & O's 
11. Fight The Future 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Stoic Violence - S/T

Year: 2013
Quality: 320kbps
Tracklist:
1. Fight Them All
2. Nothing Gained
3. Gathering Dust
4. What I See
5. Wretched Existence
6. Burning Down
7. Waste Of Life
8. Fake Scum

Cruelster- 2012 Demo

Cruelster 2012 Demo
This may be one of my favorite releases of recent past, which is why I decided to put the tape out, and the upcoming 7" as well. Cruelster is one of the catchiest bands I've heard in a long time. With the entire demo clocking in at around 10-11 minutes, you'll be replaying this over and over again. Definitely worth checking out for fans of goofy simple punk/hardcore (Culo, School Jerks, Etc...).

Monday, February 4, 2013

Terrorist-Demo

2013

Goddamn. Here we have the brand new demo and first recorded material from Miami, Florida band Terrorist, and their music is just as grim as their name would imply. 3 songs of raging hardcore punk combining elements of grindcore, black metal and d-beat.

Low Places- Black Tape

Quality: 160kbps 
Tracklist: 
1. Side A 
This is the bands final release, soon to be released on a limited amount of cassettes. 13 minutes of music.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Review:Cloud Rat-Moksha

2013

I was first introduced to Cloud Rat when I came across their excellent self titled debut LP a few years ago and subsequently realized I had a missed an excellent free show they were playing in town a few nights prior. When I finally caught them live in a tiny storage space, it was obvious the band had already grown by leaps and bounds since the first LP had dropped. Moksha is the band's newest LP and again shows the band laying down their most sonically ambitious material to date.

For those unfamiliar with the band, Cloud Rat are a 3 piece grind outfit from Michigan playing punishing grindcore with nods to other extreme genres throughout. Moksha extends the idea of exploring other sounds and takes it further then they have before to great success. For a genre not normally known for much experimentation/breathing room, Cloud Rat does quite a bit in the name of forward thinking grind, from the crushing doom metal introduction of "Aroma" to the even more surprising and haunting acoustic introduction of album midpoint "Infinity Chasm". It's moments like these that show Cloud Rat is a band that is far from confined to one genre and sound, and moreover more then adept and taking on whatever sound they please. The production on this record also deserves a mention, maintaining the obviously raw nature of the music and still containing an incredible amount of clarity, and has an organic/warm quality to it that perfectly accompanies these songs.

While most of the time I have to be in a certain mood to listen to grind, Moksha is a record I have found myself constantly coming back to since I first started listening to it a few weeks ago. Very early in 2013 several outstanding releases have already come out, and Cloud Rat's Moksha is one that I have no doubt will turn many heads as the year moves forward. It's an ambitious step up from a band that has been quite prolific in it's 3 year existence, and brings with it much excitement for things to come. I would suggest everyone who's read this far into the review check out the free download link for the record that the band has graciously provided below, as well.


Moksha (2013)
Purchase the physical LP via Halo Of Flies