Friday, September 12, 2014

The Third Memory - S/T

You'll instantly hear a similarity to Euro bands like La Quiete and older Raein material when you first hear The Third Memory.  Jangly guitars take up the better part of the canvas, while some nice frantic drumming backs it all up.  Bass guitar seems to sit in the higher mid range, almost coming across like a third guitar.  This is all topped off with a very competent and passionate scream which provides a great contrast to the beautiful melody of the music.

There's a couple of tracks on here ("Page Trente-Trios" and "Berlin") where the recording sound seems to take a dive.  I'm not sure if this is older production or just a problem with the upload.

Don't be fooled by the twenty minute run time on "We Know You'll Be Just Fine", it's mostly silence until you hit the secret track.

Check it out here.

Saudade -a long lifetime of dying slowly

Saudade lures you in with a long intro that will have you thinking you just walked into an instrumental post rock band rehearsal.  Not before long the band is taking off into some extremely fast and screamy intensity. By the time you get to track 3 "Drone Distance" you might have already forgotten the slow, relaxing introduction.

But alas, the band knows how to navigate their peaks and valleys.  About two minutes into "Drone Distance" we're brought back down to a beautiful instrumental interlude that reminds me very much of some Portraits of Past material.

We're witnessing some professionals here who have honed their sound and have no room for mistakes.

Check it out here.

Sordid States 6 way split 7"

This record gets the 2014 award for most confusing use of format.  Sordid States is the title of this record featuring six different bands on a 7" record.  When I was young we used to call these "compilations" and they were usually on cd or LP.

Regardless you'll hear six bands that all distinguish themselves from the next. Some peaks and valleys present themselves in terms of recording quality here, as the overall sound is not very consistent from band to band.

I'm particularly keen on this Anodes track, which stunningly kicks off this record with some great screamy intensity. Check it out, listen to six different bands and perhaps one may capture your eye.

Check it out here.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Coma Regalia / We Had a Deal - split 7"

Coma Regalia offers three new songs on this split record that stay in a similar camp as their earlier stuff. Though, the band applies some more intensity and perhaps a bit more contemplation evident in some of the slower intro moments and mid paced melodic interludes.  Don't fret, there's still that blistering, high speed scream fest that you've come to know and love from the band included as well.

We Had A Deal take a more heavy hardcore route on their first song, which at times reminds me very much of some early 00's bands like Taken or Codeseven. Other times the band has a more melodic edge that might have you comparing it to some early Modern Life is War or even Verse.  By the second song the band is still keeping you guessing with their clean intro, but somehow pulling it off in a totally seamless way.

Two different bands that totally work together on this one.  Check it out here.

Youth Novel - Turned Around Abruptly Beside a Mirror and Jumped at My Own Reflection

Youth Novel has that young sound that makes me feel like I'm listening to a bunch of guys who haven't yet been destroyed by the pessimism of the world around them.  Maybe I'm projecting a little, but this material just makes me feel like it's 2001 again.

This music has a get up and go quality to it that I'm really enjoying. Melodic guitars with screaming vocals and exciting drums give these songs a feel similar to early Envy material perahps mixed with some On The Might of Princes and Funeral Diner, but with a characteristic all their own.

They recently did a great interview with Open Mind / Saturated Brain, which gives some insight to the band's approach and mentality toward playing music.  Interested to see them in a live setting.

Check it out here.

Crows-An-Wra - Kalopsia

If Germany's Monocrhome had taken a more aggressive approach it would sound something very similar to Crows-An-Wra.  The coherent vocal style and melodic guitar work gives this band a very accessible quality which is mixed with some more interesting screamy chaos.

There's some excellent moments of creative musicianship here which spotlight some 'out of the box' song writing style.  I can't help but be impressed by how well these songs are executed.

Nice sensibility is shown as the guitars switch from dreamy and reverb heavy, to a more focused and aggressive onslaught of full chords. I also hear this pattern in the vocals which lend themsleves to being a great judge on when to amp up the intensity or bring it down.  The female vocals on "Heavy Heads" and "Blossom" are executed beautfully as well (and give this another point in the Monochrome direction).

Check it out here

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Watership Down - S/T 7"

This came out back in 1997 or so.  Listening to it now, it sounds like what some of the newer emo bands today are trying to do, except that this is much better than most of those bands.

The melodic/screaming vocal back-and-forth device works for me on this mainly due to the rawness of the delivery and recording. There is an unrefined quality to it that avoids the perfection of today's studio magic and trades it for a sincere capturing of the moment. 

What you'll get here is some melodic hardcore that runs some nice dynamics between quiet and loud in a very effective way.  Close your eyes and picture yourself watching this band in a sweaty basement out in Long Island during the late 90's.

Lost Spirit - S/T

After a long, stressful day you might want to take it easy, put your feet up and listen to Lost Spirit.  This quartet instantly calms my nerves with their subtle and haunting style of indie rock.

Dreamy, reverb guitars swell over restrained drumming while the vocals stay so low key it almost feels like someone is just speaking behind the music at times. It's the soundtrack for sleepy afternoon, but in the best possible way.

Take some of the distortion out of Pity Sex, the more mild vocals from Our Lady and perhaps some guitar work from somber 80's pop music such as the Smiths or The Jesus and Mary Chain.  A good listen for sure.

Listen to it here.

Writing About Myself Shamelessly, Part 3: Instil

I met Justin and Jamie from Instil at a show that Sevin  played in Pennsylvania.  For some reason they thought Sevin was good and we became fast friends.  Sevin was invited to play a house with Instil not far from my hometown.  Instil pretty much stole the show that night.  Jamie's drumming was super solid and hard hitting.  Justin was an excellent frontman who had energy and passion.  The songs themselves were the extremely straight forward, verse/chorus/verse/chorus formula.  However, the way the band played them translated an excitement and energy that was seldom seen.  I guess the best description I could muster is if you took the basic song structure and emotion of Undertow and added the melodic approach of Endpoint, then you would get an idea of what early Instil was putting forth.

Sevin played a bunch of shows with Instil and the two bands became a tight circle of friends.  Within the year I was asked to join Instil as their second guitar player.  This was like a dream come true for me at the time.  The open E chord riffs of Sevin were becoming tiresome and I yearned to play in a band that put forth the emotion and rawness that Instil was doing.  After playing a couple shows and practicing with Instil my mind was entirely done with Sevin.  I moved onto Instil and started heavily playing shows and writing with them.

My second show with Instil was a 3 hour drive to Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvannia to play with Grade, Seven Years War, Backlash and some others. It was snowing once we got into the mountains and I had only had my driver's license for 2 weeks at that point.  Driving my station wagon through the snow up steep highways was my introduction to the band's dedication to playing.

After playing the show in Wilkes Barre, a small label called Keystone Ember Records from up there asked us to be on a compilation they were soon putting out that would benefit a domestic violence prevention program in their community.  Jamie had a friend who put us in touch with an extremely inexpensive studio engineer who (I think) was named John (though my memory is hazy on this).  We made arrangements to record with John and arrived to see his makeshift studio in his parents basement. It seemed like John had never really dealt with a band that sounded like us.  He had a great head of teased and feathered hair that reminded of Bon Jovi circa 1986. There were posters all over the wall of Megadeth and Poison.  We recorded one song that day entitled "Lost".  Our guitar player, Rob, got sick halfway through the recording and was puking the whole way home. We sent the song off to Keystone Ember, though never heard anything about the comp (years later a friend of mine showed me the comp, which was a burned cdr in a brown lunch bag).

A great deal of melodic riffs and parts had been building up in my writing.  I started to introduce them to the guys from Instil and we quickly ran with it.  At the time there was a large influx of slightly heavier emo bands like Empathy, Infind, Autumn, Inkwell, etc.  Bands like that we're having a huge influence on us.  As I started introducing these new songs to the band, the older songs began to fall away.  The band's sound was molding into something different and everyone seemed pretty excited about it. The song structures were still very straight forward, but perhaps more focused.

We were playing quite a bit in New Jersey and a small label called Spiritfall Records took notice.  They had just released a friend's band (XBoundX) and approached us, asking about what our plans were.  We were ecstatic and quickly booked time at Third Studio From The Sun in Wayne, New Jersey to record four songs. It was a rainy day and we were running late to get to the studio. We took three cars up to the studio and followed each other closely.  Perhaps, too close. Jamie slammed on his breaks to avoid running a read light.  Jon was driving behind him and followed suit, just barely missing Jamie while sliding.  I slammed on my brakes and slid right into the back of Jon's car, busting my headlamp and Jon's bumper. Not a great way to start out a recording.

We finally made it to the studio and recorded/mixed all four songs in about eleven hours. We were extremely proud of it and couldn't wait to get it pressed. Jamil from Spiritfall Records had come up with this idea to have our name printed on the jackets and then burn a hole in a separate piece of paper so that the name would show through.  It came out in a timely fashion and was met with some positive praise.

Later that year we met and played with a band called Grey Before My Eyes from Orlando, Florida.  They were very nice people and doing a similar style of music, though they seemed to have a more subtle style that included lots of building up from extremely quiet guitar parts.  We thought it was impressive and so did a label called Trackstar Records. Trackstar asked us and Grey Before My Eyes to share a split LP.

Four more songs were written in which we tried to expand on our previous efforts and break out of the straight forward formula.  We totally abandoned the verse/chorus/verse/chorus writing style and I pushed myself to include more sounds and genres into one song.  I was influenced to do this after listening the Cave In side of their split 7" with Piebald, and later the Converge "Petitioning the Empty Sky" 7".  The influence of heavier riffs didn't sit well with some of the members and a line began to form between two parties of the band as to where the style of the music should go.

Those last four songs were recorded, again in about eleven hours, at Third Studio.  We sent them to Trackstar Records, but by the time the record would come out Instil had imploded.  The interest in pursuing different musical styles and the lack of properly communicating ideas had torn the band apart.  We played our last show at the Manville Elks Lodge in Manville, NJ with Endeavor, Ensign, Shift and a few other bands. Some of the material on those last four songs would lay down the blueprint for Justin, Jon and I to form a new band soon after which incorporated a more diverse range of genres.  

Friday, August 8, 2014

Vein - S/T

Where did Vein come from? How is this band around and not garnering more attention?  Questions for the ages.

Vein play a brand of angry hardcore that is explosive and varied.  The screaming vocals carry a great power and desperation to them that easily sold me on the band from the beginning.

Musically it seems they're taking some notes from noisier hardcore like Breather Resist.  There's a great mix of noisier grooves coupled with some more straight forward moments.  The balance makes this more accessible to me.

I probably could have done without the third untitled noise track, or perhaps if it was just half  as long and served as more of an interlude.  Also, not sure what the nu metal breakdown at the end of "While You Weren't Caring" is all about.  If you can look past these transgressions you'll find some crushing tunes.

Check it out here.

Yearbooks - See you Next Year

Yearbooks is a Northern California quartet that plays a melodic brand of screamy hardcore not unlike some of the bands the region's past (Under A Dying Sun, Beau Navire and Staircase come to mind).

There's a nice contrast between the low gain guitar shimmering underneath and the screamed vocals; all while the aggressive attack of drum and bass provide the foundation. The band kicks it up a notch at the finale in "We'll Always Have Paris" when the guitar distortion comes up fully for a three chord progression.

If Touche Amore lowered their vocals to a reasonable volume and stopped making every verse'd get something that sounds a little similar to Yearbooks. Enjoy!

Check it out here.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Film in Color - To Scale A Mountain

This instrumental trio is from New Jersey and deliver a huge, full sound.  It's sort of like the soundtrack to a very emotional movie with tons of dramatic moments that would have you thinking deeply about your existence.

Delay and reverb soak up the canvas while a nice, huge bass holds a steady backbone together.  The drums are steady and take on a cavernous sound. What the band seems to want to translate here is a huge sound,  and they do it successfully.

You only get two songs, but it clocks at a total almost 22 minutes of music.  Not too shabby by any stretch.

Check it out here.

Anger House - Asleep

To be real, Anger House is kind of sloppy musically.  On a positive note, they make the sloppiness sort of feel right at home and make it work to their advantage.

Here's five songs that fall somewhere between all the Kirsh inspired bands with a hint of early Dag Nasty/Rights of Spring DC sound, and perhaps some Planes Mistaken For Stars. By the time I got to the fifth song I had made up my mind that is pretty genius.

Shouted vocals fall over top of melodic guitars that forego any poppy characteristics for a more a angry and introspective sound.  Drums and bass keep it upbeat and hard hitting.  This band has the potential to promote mass appeal for their ability to subtley encompass a few different styles into one.

Check it out here.

Writing About Myself Shamelessly, Part 2: Sevin.

Right around the time that The Underminded came to an end I was developing a growing interest in the new crop of metallicly influenced hardcore music that was getting popular at the time. Some of the bands that caught my eye were Snapcase, Strife and Earth Crisis.  These bands were probably the most popular of the bunch due to the continued press hype of Victory Records.  I was to find out a few months later that much better and more interesting bands like Groundwork, Unbroken, Threadbare and 108 were out there.

An old friend of mine that I had met through skateboarding was playing guitar for this band called Sevin. They had this metallicly influenced hardcore sound. Apparently they were called Tension at first but had to change their name due to a band from Florida already taking it.  It was explained to me that Sevin was an acronym that stood for "Straight Edge Vegan Information Network".  Bare in mind, my friend who played guitar for them was neither vegan nor straight edge.

They asked me to join the band as the second guitar player. With the exception of my friend who asked me, the other guys in the band were all vegan straight edge, and a bit older than me.  I was 16 at the time and these guys were in their early 20's. Not much of an age difference mathematically, however in terms of life priorities it might as well have been 20 years. It was clear the only reason I was asked to be in the band in the first place was because I was straight edge and vegetarian.

Shortly after joining the band my friend (who had originally asked me to join) parted ways with us.  It was awkward, being this 16 year old kid who didn't really know these older guys. However, it educated me further on the concept of veganism and within a month I had adopted the diet and lifestyle (something I still do to this day).  I'll be forever thankful for that.

This band was my first experience with touring.  Growing up in a middle class New Jersey suburb my whole life, touring to destitute punk houses located in poverty stricken neighborhoods of the mid west was an eye opener.  It made going back to high school and hearing people yammer on about the drama of football games and proms a total joke.

From a guitar standpoint I had to completely change my playing style and tone to better fit this music.  I had no idea people got so much mileage off of a palm muted open E chord. I wasn't extremely thrilled on the limitations of this particular genre and as a musician I tried my best to to make it as interesting as it would allow (which was not very).

I met a lot of people who were claiming "Hardline", which was some sort "back to the earth" philosophy that melded veganism with homophobia, anti-technology and pro life.  I was open to the discussion and, at times, even found myself agreeing with some of the pro life aspects of it through young, impressionable 16 year old eyes.  Though, in the next year I would come to understand that the world was not black and white..and certainly something that was too complex to sum up in the lyrical content of a 3 minute hardcore song. While I still subscribe to both straight edge and veganism, the anthems of those early bands lacked a perspective to consider individual circumstances and situations. I guess that's why they call them anthems. Thankfully, the Hardline movement pretty much faded out of existence after the 90's.

Before coming to an end Sevin played a show out in Pennsylvania one day with 108, Mouthpiece, Abnegation, Endavor, Channel, Introspect, Canon and Arcane.  We made some friends that day who were playing in a band from New Jersey called Instil.  Eventually I would leave Sevin after being asked to join Instil as their second guitar player.    

The band recorded 3 times during the year that I was part of it:

Proving Ground Demo tape/Stones to Mark a Fire compilation
Final Solution Demo Tape
S/T 7" on Militant Records

Here's a bandcamp link to the songs that I could find from those recordings. They're not very good, even by 90's standards, but there they are.

Monday, July 28, 2014

La Luna - S/T

La Luna was formerly known as Brain Fever but changed their name with this new self titled release. The chaos and musical integrity is all still there wrapped up into some interesting compositions.

For both the healthy use of blast beats and the female fronted vocals, I can't help but compare this to Cloud Rat.  It's perhaps a bit more musically unpredictable though, as La Luna throws curve balls at the listener left and right with sudden stops and time changes.

The sparse melodic undertones are also a nice change of pace as their sprinkled in throughout, exchanging the all out screaming for a determined spoken word vocal.  I'm interested to see how this all comes across in the live setting.

Take a listen here.

Under A Sky So Blue - Demo

Under A Sky So Blue is from Athens, GA and play a style of music that reminds me of Takaru, There Were Wires and The Exelar.

This is excellent.  I mean, for real...this is exactly what I love about hardcore.  Musically varied, lyrically smart and ragingly angry. It has all the ingredients I look for.

Even when the harsh screaming and noisy guitars are at their loudest, there is still an undertone of dark melody beneath the composition.  I can't really say enough about how much I dig this.

Check it out here.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sleep Study - Demo

Sleepy Study falls somewhere between the new crop of Kinsella inspired bands and perhaps some of the more conventional late 90's fare like The Jazz June or The Promise Ring.

The rough edges of the production actually sort of works in presenting the songs in a raw and uncompromising manner.  Which, coincidentally, makes this all the more 90's sounding.

As the songs move on I even get a little bit of a early 90's alternative rock feel from some of these songs (ala the Lemonheads, Teenage Fanclub or Weezer).  Perhaps this is due to the slightly off key vocals that add that charming vibe atop of the distorted guitar and bass.

For love of all things 90's check it out here.

Marmore - Paura Della Luce

Marmore come from Turin, Italy and play a brand of instrumental post rock that puts a large focus on ever changing dynamics within their song structures.  If you're expecting all instrumental post rock bands to be slow and sleepy, then Marmore will definitely prove you wrong.

The musicianship here is top notch.  Everyone is pulling their weight.  Great drum work that works with the rhythm of the song as a whole rather than just crowd the music with technical chops.  The guitar work has a good sensibility for adding and taking away reverb/delay effects in a tasteful manner.  The punchy bass cuts through perfectly and provides an excellent backbone throughout.

All in all, Marmore have some solid songs here that show some great talent.  Definitely a good one.

Listen to it here.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Autarkeia / Me and Goliath split LP

Autarkeia plays a brand of dark screamo influenced hardcore.  There's a melodic element to it throughout, though can give way to more chaotic moments.  The female vocals over top remind me a bit of Cerce at times and work great with the music.  All three songs on here break the 4 minute mark, featuring quite few moments for musical exploration and dynamics.  I get a Raein/Portraits of Past feel at times, most likely for the reasons of texture and layering that take place within the music.

Me and Goliath keep the dark influence consistent as they take over from here. The band provides a nice mix of slower and faster moments that stick to a straight forward time signature.  It has a traditional characteristic to it, though is infused with a great deal of energy and melody by the song writing style. By the third track the band is blazing away on some faster, more unconventional beats, showing that they can also bring the chaos when necessary.

Have a listen to it here.

Writing About Myself Shamelessly, Part 1: The Underminded, Demo.

I decided to document every release I've ever played on chronologically here in a section called "Writing About Myself Shamelessly".  Why?  Maybe I'm ridiculously egotistical and nostalgic I suppose.  I don't know really know why. Enjoy it. Or don't.

When I was 15 years old I started heavily listening to Minor Threat, Bold, Uniform Choice and Chorus of Disapproval. My identity as an angry straight edge kid was forming and taking over all aspects of my personality.  This did very little to improve upon the social aspect of my high school experience. I fell deeper into the escape of skateboarding, writing music and reading comic books.

My then punk rock band, known for doing mostly Misfits cover songs, morphed into a hardcore band.  I had no intention of ever singing/writing lyrics but finding someone who was willing to sing/write lyrics in any competent way at that particular point in time seemed impossible. Myself and the bass player of this band split the vocal/lyric duties.

I was still holding on to a good bit of Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr influence, though, I was attracted to the raw, no frills sound of fast hardcore (as a result you'll hear one long, noisy, alternative rock song sandwich between all the fast stuff). The mid tempo sound of the Sex Pistols and Black Flag had become too slow for me.  Regardless of what my other two band mates were interested in playing, I wanted to do a fast straight edge hardcore band. Quite wrong of me to impose musical preferences onto two other people, yes, I know. Tunnel vision took over and I showed up to band practice with a bunch of these songs.

We found this guy at a local music store that had a Tascam 16 track cassette recorder in his garage.  He offered to record a demo for us for $10 an hour. We recorded with him 3 times in the next year, each time we had written a new batch of songs. Our playing was sub par and the quality of the production is muffled and dark. I had never recorded music before, so this was just a learning experience I suppose. He had us plug our guitar and bass directly into his board and use a distortion box for the guitar. We probably did a total of 12 songs. The only material we actually kept is what became the demo. Flawed, definitely. But it documents the time.

Human Achievement - I

Human Achievement is a new band from Philadelphia featuring ex members of Veloz, Host and Battle of Wolf 539. This comes across as metal influenced hardcore, with just enough raw intensity to translate that dirty, unleashed sound.

Guitars are downtuned while deeper register vocals carry on over top.  The drum work is extremely proficient with quick fills and exceptional double bass work. The band provides a good balance between faster time signatures that bring to mind more of a d-beat or blasting style with some very tasteful chugging breakdowns.

No lyrics provided here.  I would be interested to know what's got this guy so angry. Good stuff regardless.

Have a listen here.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Life In Vacuum - 5

There's something really unique and interesting happening here.  Life in Vacuum mixes elements of garage rock, indie and screamo to bring you their own little creation. Think Nation of Ulysses and Refused with some hints of Moss Icon. The musicianship is extremely accomplished and has a natural groove.

Vocally the band takes delves into uncomfortable melodies that pair with the music perfectly. Intermittent screams make an appearance to emphasize the intensity at just the right times. It may cross the "sass line" a few times here and there, but I'll let them off easy for such interesting and well executed music.

Listen to it here.

Zombie Fight - Echoes of the Past

Zombie Fight are back with a set of songs that shows the band refining their songwriting style to expand on their previous efforts of melodic hardcore. For fans of Betrayed, Bane and Great Reversals, Zombie Fight play a brand of hardcore that melds the aggressive with the melodic, forming a nice canvas of variety.

All the elements of traditional hardcore can found; group vocals, fast beats, chugging guitars, etc.  However, the band is able to present an honesty and genuine nature within the production that makes it more accessible. At times you'll sense a strong early New York Hardcore presence, while other times there's a strong mid 90's hardcore vibe that reminds me of bands like Downcast or Outspoken.

I find the record lyrically interesting for it's transparency.  The band is pretty up front with their words and the interesting thing about this is that the songs seemed to be lyrically divided up between band members (you'll see a breakdown of who wrote which song on their bandcamp page).  It reinforces that each band member has a pretty hearty stake in the content of this music.

Listen to it here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Respire - Demonstration

Respire create some very slow, moody soundscapes with a great melodic sensibility to them.  The sound seems to be two-fold; at times it's light with clean guitar and low speaking vocals, while other times it's heavy, loud and screaming with anger.

It's something similar to mixing Explosions in the Sky with Buried Inside.  The unique use of trumpet and glockenspiel add some extra layers that are pulled off very well.

The only downside here is the production quality is not exactly at it's peak.  Hearing these songs with a larger production quality would probably be massive and really open up the intracacies of the songs.  Hopefully we'll see something like this in the future.  For now though, The band has definitely done a good job with the production at their disposal.

Listen to it here.

The Kid's Crusade - Sway

Maybe I'm out of the loop, but I can't say that I've heard a band that sounds quite like this in years.  The Kid's Crusade reminds me of what would happen if members of Small Brown Bike and Texas is the Reason did a band together. Maybe throw in a little Jawbreaker ("This Parachute Is A Knapsack" has glaring similarities to "Ashtray Monument").

These songs are engineered in a smart, intelligent way. Even the lead guitar parts come off as necessary and functional. It has melody but retains a very gruff presentation, vocally speaking. The production highlights everything very well.

Great stuff from the Netherlands here.  Don't sleep on it.  Listen to it here.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Great Reversals - Natural Burial

If you're familiar with Great Reversals then you'll be happy to see their evolutionary changes and growth that is displayed on Natural Burial.  You can still hear the mid 2000's hardcore influence of bands like Have Heart and Verse, though, the band has thrown in some extra ingredients here to create something that puts them in their own category.

The song structures are very mature, taking the predefined formula of this style and engineering it past the typical verse/chorus framework.  Airtight musicianship is well on display and you can tell these guys have really mastered their craft. Tasteful use of guitar delay adds an extra layer of melody in just the right spots.

For a real treat be sure to read the lyrics carefully.  They're wonderfully written and have a great feel for storytelling.  The most unconventional aspect of this has to be how "Reason in Madness" closes things up abruptly and unexpectedly.  Good work here.

Listen to it here.

Dietrich - S/T

Dreamy, rich instrumental tunes here that have great texture and melody. Dietrich deliver four songs that run about 10 minutes each. These songs are epic but still digestable. I don't feel too overwhelmed by them, nor do I zone out after a few minutes.  It's instrumental composition done very well.  

There are points I wish the drums were a little louder in the overall mix, as they sometimes get a bit lost.  The recording is very guitar driven, featuring the mid gain, reverb heavy strings right up front.

Have a listen here.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Enoch Ardon - Dedos Rotos

I don't hear about too many bands from Spain these days and Enoch Ardon has forced me to challenge myself and find some more.  This is a totally impressive set of songs that reminds me of early 2000's bands like Textbook Traitors and Jerome's Dream.

The music is totally chaotic and abrasive, however it uses a good deal of dynamics to create some great dramatic moments. Within the 60 second average run time you'll hear a good deal of screaching guitars, screamed vocals and energetic drumming.

This is some great stuff and it will definitely show up in my regular rotation.

Listen here.

Garden State - Safe/Dislocated

This band is not from New Jersey.  I just want to make that clear.  Nor does Garden State come as boring and pretentious like that Zack Braff movie.

I like these two songs quite a bit.  Monochrome comes to mind a bit with some likeness to modern bands like Dads or Driveway. Nice, jangly guitars take up the front end, creating some really great textures.  The song structures are well thought out and their execution comes off extremely smooth.

I'm really enjoying the vocal style and it's what really draws me in.  It's a great melodic voice that retains some weathered characteristics to it.  All in all, these two songs are an excellent representation of this particular genre done right.

Listen to it here.

Congratulations - Demo 2014

Congratulations is from Boston and play that blown out, off key, but always charming type of indie rock that is reminiscent of a band like Pity Sex.  It's catchy and fun, but has that undertone of depression to it.

There's not much I would change about these songs.  The recording and playing capture this particular style pretty perfectly.  Check it out.

Listen here.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Black Legs - Demo

At times I can close my eyes while listening to Black Legs and feel like I'm listening to an old Assfactor 4 record.  It's fast, it's punk, but there's that certain ingredient in there with the guitar work that adds an edge of darker melody. Other times this falls into the predictable punk category and sounds like another early Black Flag clone. Luckily they shine more than faulter. 

If I had to guess, just in terms of musicianship, we're dealing with some folks that have a good grasp on music beyond playing four chord fast punk. It shows through at moments and I'd be interested to see them develop this more. 

Listen to it here.

Casual - S/T

Casual keeps things upbeat and happy, giving you four songs of something that's not quite pop punk, but leans a little more to the indie side of things. 

The dual female/male vocals are a nice touch though, the male vocals can be painful off key at times (in that "cute" sort of indie way).  Musically there's a good deal of texture with dueling guitars, noodly bass and some solid drums. 

The production sounds a bit muffled and sterile at times.  With some better production I feel that some of the dry aspects of this would clean up nice. 

Listen to it here

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Jungbluth - Part Ache

Jungbluth play a straight forward brand of hardcore that is made unique by the wall-of-noise sound that the band is able to translate across tape.  This is probably due in part to some vicious guitar feedback and thick, distorted bass.  The vocals are powerful and strong, filling in the space intelligently. 

The band has some melodic overtones in their approach that might give these tunes a more introspective feel.  At times I'm reminded of Swallowed Up or perhaps Majority Rule.  They have an upcoming split 7" with Philadelphia's Callow and they'll be touring in the United States this summer.  Definitely excited to see them. 

Listen to it here.

Bleed The Pigs - Mortis Fatum

I'm not sure what's in the water down in Nashville, but the city seems to be producing some good bands these days.  Bleed The Pigs is heavy and dark, bringing together a combination of d-beat style hardcore with some sledgy, slow moments.

My only gripe here is the production. The first track seems to be a different mix/session as the rest of the record. On that track the drumming gets a little lost, particularly during the fast parts. By the time we move on to the second track, "Rot", there's a bit of a better mix.  Maybe I'm just hearing things.

The dual vocals accent the music nicely, especially since there's a pretty nice, clear distinction between the voices. The guitar takes up most of the foreground here.  I would really love to hear these songs with a better production mix.

Listen to it here.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Arms - Bunk Alchemy

Arms remind me quite a bit of Breather Resist, but not in "holy shit they ripped off Breather Resist" sort of way.  It's more like Arms just took the style and approach of Breather Resist and added their own flavor of screeching guitars, feedback and creative song structure to the mix. 

As a result you get a pretty interesting set of songs that will have you scratching your head at times by how this musicianship takes such unorthodox steps to keep you interested.  Then there's songs that are closer to a more classic approach to hardcore like "Exchange" which blazes a thrashy trail before hitting us with a nice straight forward breakdown. 

Arms is an impressive band to me and I hope to hear more.

Listen to it here.

Cavallo - Sleep with Wires/Almost Colossus

Cavallo offer up two tracks of instrumental goodness that showcases some nice attention to detail and precise musicianship.  There's a good deal of texture happening that allows the band to work on a purely instrumental basis. 

The band typically stays in the dreamier, easy listening edge of things, but can sometimes whip into a frenzy of melodic aggression. Guitars strewn with delay and reverb take the forefront while some busy bass and drums keep things constantly moving.  Some very nice soundscapes here. 

Listen to it here.

Altar of Complaints - A Sea of Deceny With Some swells of Greatness

Altar of Complaints come to us from Nashville, though their sound is anything but bluegrass.  At first listen I'm reminded of the early 2000's west coast screamo sound, similar to bands like Funeral Diner and Staircase.  The focus is on melody here.  Like huge waves, the band seems to drench these songs in big chords that stay in introspective and epic feel. 

Lyrically the band seems to focus on self examination and pondering existentialism.  Very fitting to the mood and feel of the music. There's quite a bit to take in with 13 songs, each average around 2 minutes with some exceptions.  Listen closely, there's a some interesting stuff here.

Listen to it here.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Guilt - Primitive Form

Not to be confused with with 1990's Victory Records band called Guilt, this modern New Hampshire band bares many a resmblence to New Hampshire's now defunct Host. The music is dirty, ugly and angry.  It's the combination of fast d-beat style hardcore strewn with feedback and the occasional sludge breakdown. 

Lyrics seem to be abstract, though reading between the lines a couple songs seem to cast a critical eye on organized religion.  I love the production sound on this.  It's huge and makes the band sound right at home. 

Listen to it here.

Nine of Swords - S/T

The thing I really like about Nine of Swords is their ability to weave in and out of different sub genres of hardcore without a problem, creating a very exciting sound that captures so many different elements.  You'll some chaotic screamo, blast beats, straight forward punk and even a breakdown here and there.

The lyrics are fairly frank and straight forward.  There's no poetic fashion to this, what you read is what you get.  Angry words here addressing aspects of feminism, life challenges and sober living.

I can't wait to see this band play in a live setting.

Listen to it here.

Host - Death Will Claim These Tired Bones

Host broke up some time last year but recently just made this last batch of songs available online.  It should be noted that if you purchase a download your money goes to help out with medical bills for a friend of the band. So do yourself a favor and download this, you'll be helping someone out. 

These 11 songs are a perfect culmination of what you would expect Host to end things on.  Heavy, destructive and brutal, these songs whip you into shape with an exciting take on heavier aspects of d-beat influenced fast hardcore. 

Have a listen here.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Neck First - I Can Feel My Skin Crawl

Let's just say if The Dillinger Escape Plan ditched all that polished nu metal stuff they're doing now they would probably sound as good as Neck First.  If you're yearning for the days of raw, stripped down music that still maintains a technical and fierce sound then this band might be for you.

I'm gonna take a few points off here for the production quality.  As much as I like a raw sound, there are times when I feel the unbalanced EQ between bass and guitar takes away a bit of the overall "in your face" sound that would lend itself well to this style.

Listen to it here.

Yeesh - Little Stabs at Happiness

What are the kids calling this type of stuff these days?  Indie? Post Punk? Post Rock?  Whatever it is, Yeesh has characteristics of what I would interpret as some brighter sounding early 90's emo resulting at times in something that sounds like a mix of Cap'n Jazz and Mid Carson July, and other times similar to modern bands like Gouge Away.

It's melodic, but rough around the edges.  The song structures are unorthodox and experimental, keeping things interesting while still not having any problems flowing nicely. Production-wise it seems like the songs may not have been done at the same time.  You'll notice this distinctly with Long Distance Calls.

Listen to it here.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Via Fondo - Fast

Via Fondo is from Sweden and definitely have that Euro influence in their music that manifests itself by hearing influences of La Quiete and Raein.  They employ that bright, low gain guitar sound to catch all the articulation of their chords.  There's a ton of space in these songs where the vocals cut out and the music speaks on it's own.  "Not Yet" opens the record up and gives you a really nice example of this. 

The band gives a great lesson in dynamics. You'll be guided through many peaks and valleys here, ranging from ultra quiet guitar harmonies to loud, blaring and aggressive walls of sound that still maintain a dark melody.  I have to give special attention to the drummer hear, as this percussionist seems to have found that excellent balance where the drums are interesting and technical without taking away from the over all groove of the songs. 

Check it out here.

Adaje - Yore Veils

Apparently this band broke up which is a shame because I'm hearing them for the first time just now.  Adaje are a band from Memphis, Tennessee and play a style that seems to encompass a bit of that classic screamy sound akin to bands like Funeral Diner and Orchid.  The band can delve into more epic territory once in a while and have me thinking of Envy as well.

What draws me in here is the musicianship.  You have three players here that are on top of their game.  The tones are excellent and the song writing is engineered in a way that comes off as smooth and intelligent.  I love the bass tone on this record as it really fills up the space left by only having one guitar. 

Check it out here.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Coma Regalia / Gas Up Yr Hearse! Split 7"

Gas Up Yr Hearse! sounds a lot like a domestic dispute happening while a child sits on the floor listening to Botch on 33 rpm and playing one of those Atari video game systems from the 1980's. I mean this in the best possible way. 

The band's musical influences seem to land somewhere in the chaotic, noodly hardcore neighborhood that you'd expect from early Dillinger Escape Plan material.  The vocals are split between two singers who have drastically different voices.  Favored in the mix are the female vocals which screech distractingly over the music.  It's a nice delivery, but the levels are hard to bear a times.  Some mixing adjustments would do well to fix this up. 

The Coma Regalia track requires you to turn up the volume on your speakers, as it doesn't seem to be mastered to the same volume as the Gas Up Yr Hearse! material. You're in for a long ride with this track that comes close to seven minutes.  Due to it's epic proportions and screaming vocals I'm reminded of the late 90's and seeing a band like Closure. 

Things start out barreling out of the gate with speed and intensity.  But it's only a minute before a drastic change in mood. The song then takes a three minute detour which is structured widely around one part, adding/taking away to build up some introspective tones. It's done well before exploding into a mid tempo frenzy of harsh guitar.

Listen to it here.

Lantern - Diavoleria

Why is it so hard to listen to a band from Italy and not compare them to La Quiete or Raein?  I feel like I'm letting the readers down by even pointing it out.  But I promise, I'm not just taking the easy way out and comparing this band to others from their homeland.  Take a listen and see if the similarities are there for you as well.

Lantern know what they're doing. The musicianship and song structure is well executed.  The band shows no sign of weak links at all. If you're partial to the melodic sound that has aggressive undertones then this will be just for you.  The guitar sound has that jangle to it which leaves the saturation behind and opts for the clarity of each note.  It seems these cats might be heading to the United States soon.  Hopefully I can catch a show or two.  

Have a listen here.

Friday, January 10, 2014

June Paik - June Paik

June Paik give us four songs totaling about 23 minutes. It's dark, heavy and crushing.  I found it reminiscent of One Eye God Prophecy, Buried Inside and Locktender.  The music is slow and deliberate in it's execution, doing a good representation of the  'wall of sound' effect. 

My qualm here is mostly with the production.  At times I find myself straining to hear the basic accents of the drum work, while the more technical aspects of the drumming are for the most part buried.  The guitar, bass and vocal sounds are huge and I think this record would be incredible with a little more attention to that percussive backbone. 

There seems to be a lot of contrast employed in the song writing in which the clean, minimalist, guitar parts are paired up against the larger wall of noise sections.  This creates a pretty huge contrast and dramatic effect at times, while other times it may be a little too unsteady for some listeners to indulge in.

The guitar work is interesting and really runs the show here.  There is a nice balance of melodic octave chords to create the more introspective moments while the more sludgy aspects are littered with noisy, discordant combinations. 

Torso - Unreleased Tracks

Torso is the kind of hardcore that doesn't really get me excited all that much, but I can attest that it seems to be played well.  This is fast, angry hardcore with overdriven guitar sounds and a raging lead vocal.

The production quality is raw and lends itself well to making the band sound right at home with this genre.  I assume this band is vegan and straight edge since their bandcamp page is "torsoxvx", however no lyrics are provided to get an idea of what these cats are screaming about.

There you have it. Listen to it here.

Kaoru Nagisa/Swan of Tuonela Split 7"

There's new Kaoru Nagisa material and it doesn't disappoint at all!  If you liked the earlier songs from their demo then you'll  notice the band is picking up where they left off and perhaps even upping the intensity factor.  I enjoy the way this band mixes the more chaotic style with some nice straight forward traditional chugging guitar grooves.  For having three vocalists the band seems to have a good sense of how to balance the voices together to sound very cohesive.

Swan of Tuonela are a bit more introspective and melodic than Kaoru Nagisa and the two bands complement each other well.  Swan gives us two songs that mix some intense screaming and rage with some more introspective, drawn out guitar work.  It never seems to be lagging or held out for too long, as the band tends to have a good ear for when to bring things to an explosive point. 

Two great bands here