Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Minaret - S/T

A while back I had reviewed the Minaret/Laeirs split.  Ever since then I was waiting for more Minaret material.  Finally that day has come.  Minaret absolutely kill it with these five songs.  At times this is blazing fast and other times it's slow and introspective. There's great use of dynamics.  The band always keeps things sounding melodic while desperate.

Production wise I'm very happy with the end result.  The vocals seem to have a tinge of distortion on them, emphasizing a more brutal nature.  I'm not sure if these drums have been tweaked or not, but I'm impressed with how well things stay together during the blast beats.  There's no loss of snare, just pure consistency the whole way.

The thing I love about Minaret is their ability to provide an epic nature to each song without stretching the run time over 2-3 minutes. While most bands have to provide a 7 minute opus to achieve this dynamic, Minaret pulls it off with ease in a more accessible package.

Check it out here.

Mudbeard - Literally Same

Mudbeard is a new band from New Jersey. I have to admit, living in New Jersey, there is a dry spell when it comes to forward thinking, technical hardcore.  Mudbeard are doing it right, taking influences from Botch, Bleeding Kansas and others of the like, but not without adding their own take on the style.

I miss hearing bands like this; bands more set on creating an interesting canvas and musical landscape while still maintaining a heavy sound, rather than just creating mosh riff after mosh riff for dudes in basketball jerseys to do underwhelming karate kicks along with. Mudbeard mix things up with off kilter time signatures, blast beats, d-beats and guitar parts that can sound like a cup of noodles.

Check it out here.

Navigator - Dreamscapes

This five song collection by Navigator is appropriately called "Dreamscapes".  The music is big, wide open and soothing.  Conjuring up the feeling of actual dream and sleep with tons of delay/reverb on the guitar, soothing violin and fluttering synth sounds, Navigator do a great job of creating some extremely nice compositions here.

Even the large, washy drums sound right in place on this and adding to the afformentioned soothing charactistic. Think Tristeza mixed with some of the instrumental work of old Zero 7 material. Want to reduce stress? Sit in a dark room and listen to this album twice. You'll be great in the morning.

Check it out here.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Truman - Ikebana

Truman has their act together.  This band does an intense brand of screamy hardcore with precision and ease.  It flows extremely well as if they carefully mapped out each course and executed it perfectly.  If you're a fan of new bands like Under A Sky So Blue and Locktender but also like some older stuff like Textbook Traitors and Rats into Robots, then Truman will deliver the goods for you.

These 6 songs are a nice exercise in exciting tempo changes and creative song writing. Epic melodies are intertwined with some discordant chaos, as the band seems to be able to balance the two perfectly.  There's even a good deal of clean guitar work in here that doesn't sound out of place.  The production quality lends itself well and makes the band sound huge.  

Check it out here.

In Exile - Questions and Problems

This recent trend of bands with poppy sensibilities that opt for dirtier/raw production is something that has appealed to me. In Exile will instantly remind you of something you've heard before, but listen closely and you'll find some unique characteristics popping out here and there.

Check it out here.

Counter - Shallow Words Crashing Down On Deaf Ears

Counter takes the passionate lyrical style of 90's vegan straight edge hardcore and adapts it to some more modern and interesting song structures.  It's still heavy, still angry, but definitely more thought out and musically competent than your typical mosh metal band. There's a nice variety of time signatures and interesting guitar trade offs.

If you're a fan of newer bands like Axis and Discourse then Counter might strike your fancy.  The production is raw and pretty gritty.  Honestly, I think it works well in preserving the overall presentation.  If this band was recorded in super clear high end production it would probably not appeal to me quite as much.

Listen here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Blind Girls - Efflorescence

I don't hear about too many bands from Australia so I was happy to find out about Blind Girls. From start to finish I really like these 7 songs which put forth something akin to a more aggressive version of Funeral Diner or Coma Regalia.  The guitar and bass are bright and mid gain, but you can hear a heavy handed dig into the strings which adds more attack and dirtiness into the music.  This is capitalized on by some intense vocal work and frantic drumming.

The band seems to have a knack for songwriting as each track here flows really well.  The dynamics are well placed, giving you small spaces of quiet among the chaos.  There's a melodic element behind the whole thing, keeping a very introspective sound even when things are moving at high speeds.

Check it out here.

Elder - Lore

Remember back in the mid to late 2000's when everyone turned in their dual rectifier amps and mosh parts to start playing vintage amps and trying to start stoner rock bands?  It was a terrible time. Most of the bands lasted a couple of weeks and before you knew it those folks had decided to start hoax/ceremony copy bands anyway.

Luckily, there are bands out there that can give this music the treatment it deserves, backed by an enormous amount of talent.  To  call this stoner rock would not be giving it nearly enough credit for the musical intracacy and aggressive delivery that Elder has been able to put forth. Sure, there's a visible classic rock influence, but the band seems to manage to make it sound fresh, new and exciting.

The vocals are sparse, but when they do surface they are well fitting and carry a raw feeling to them that is absent from this style many times.  It's almost as though the blues influenced vocals you would normally hear over this particular style has been replaced with something more aggressive and charged.  It all works pretty well.

Check it out here.

Hush - Unexist

Back in 2013 I did a write up on Hush's untitled 7 song EP.  It was heavy, it was intense, and here we find Hush upping the ante from their previous material in a more refined and interesting way.

I would be interested to find out what tuning Hush has decided to use on these songs.  At times you feel like the strings are going to flap right off the guitars, while other times the low dropped tuning creates a complete wall of heaviness that would not be there with some standard tuned guitar.  Many doomier bands like this fall into the 'one trick pony' camp, using slow/heavy chords repetitively until you can't tell the difference between songs.  Thankfully Hush keeps things interesting with some very nice melody and dynamics that bring the listener on a pretty sweet showcase of sounds.

Recording quality here is huge and I'm very impressed with natural, roomy sound of the drums. The only stagnant part I'm finding here is the vocals.  They are very powerful and intense, however after about 8 minutes of monotone yelling it's easy to zone them out. Lyrics keep on the abstract side, veering in your depressing and dark territory.

Check it out here.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Shizune - Le Voyageur Imprudent

Shizune seems to have mastered the ins and outs of screamy hardcore, presenting a nice blend of chaos along with some straight forward sections.  There's no weak link on the instrumentation, as each musician pulls their weight and excels nicely.  The vocals are well executed and perfectly placed.

For the most part the band paints a nice canvas of mid gain guitars, explosive drumming and frantic screaming.  The delivery is always with an undercurrent of melody, even at their most chaotic.  At some points I'm hearing their Italian counterparts La Quiete and Raein come through, but other times this band is making a path all their own.

Check it out here.

Harangue - By The Strength Of The Mighty Atlas

You can't put a definitive thumb on Harangue's sound as it bounces around keeping you on your toes.  Sure, it's heavy about 95% of the time. But, between changing time signatures, rocket fire double bass and guitars that duck in and out at the most unexpected moments, Harangue aren't interested in following a cookie cutter pattern.

Ever wonder what Botch might sound like with an extra helping of blast beats?  Probably a lot like Harangue. I commend the band on taking some musical risks here that most heavier bands are shying away from.  Interesting pauses, small insertions of melody, twangy bass lines, etc..all set this group apart from their peers.  The vocals blaze over top, never really letting up for a moment and hitting all these unusual tempo changes right on their points.

Check it out here.

Brito - This wave is only for the goodhearted

If you grew up in the 90's listening to bands like Shotmaker, Julia, Embassy, etc then Brito may be like going back in time for you.  If you're not familiar with these bands then I'll break it down for you.  Brito play a slower paced, discordant brand of hardcore featuring some mildly aggressive vocals and very open guitar work.

The shining star in Brito seems to be the bassist.  Many of the songs seem to be carried by the creative bass lines which are reinforced by a mid range tone.  The vocals are buried in the mix, though this is akin to the style they are going for.
Check it out here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

UnaxManoxAlxCuello - UxMxAxC

I love when a band can't be easily categorized.  Such is the case with UnaxManoxAlxCuello. This band will take you for a ride through a few different genres without sounding awkward or forced. There's a tinge of desperation expressed no matter if they're giving you mid tempo melodics or full on blast beats. "Lo Provisional de lo Definitvo" even gives you a glimpse of clean guitar.  The recording quality is raw, but aggressive, matching the bands sound perfectly.

Highly recommended.

Check it out here.

Tharsis They - Formless/Shapeless

A band like Tharsis They will bring you back to the mid 2000's when chugging guitars were meeting off time drum signatures for the first time.  While the band makes great use of the noodly guitars and off time drums, they also have a tendancy to bring on some straight forward fast parts and even the occasional 4/4 time breakdown.  I have to admit to liking the parts when this band thinks outside of the box, employing crazy guitar scales and abrasive drum fills. There's no lack of musical ability on this team.

Lyrically the band stays on the abstract side of things, but the words seem well-written and thought out, while still open for interpretation.  The vocals can, at times, fall a little bit too far to the tough guy side for me.  Songs stay around the 2 minute range, delivered a really focused sound that has no need for extra frills.

Check it out here

Double Me / Lifes - Split 7"

Double Me gets things started with some fast, no-nonsense hardcore.  It's aggressive music that maintains a nice interweaving of tempos and changes. You might throw this in the power violence category, but some of these songs surpass the 1 minute mark, breaking the golden power violence rule. A nice, full guitar sound with tight drumming really give you the impression that Double Me are accomplished at their craft. The vocals have a low, brutal tone to them that I would usually stray away from, but for Double Me it seems to compliment the music very well and sit in the mix just right.

Lifes take over side 2 with a very distinct brand of two piece hardcore featuring just bass and drums while the two players split up the vocal duties. The use of the 8 string bass employs a bit of circus music type feel to the more noodly parts, however adds texture to the more straight forward sections.  The tight drum stops and harsh vocals add more throttle, making you forget all about the absence of guitar.  

Check it out here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Under A Sky So Blue / Celebration split 7"

Under A Sky So Blue return with more passionate, lyrically-smart and hard hitting songs. With commentary on capitalism and racism, the anger and honesty boils to the top giving us a glimpse at a new generation of politically consious hardcore.  Musically you're going to experience some excellent dynamics that blend aggression and melody together to convey a desperate sense of emotion.

Celebration immediately took me back to the early 2000's with a noisy, chaotic sound reminiscent of New England bands like Jerome's Dream and Orchid.  Dual vocals sit just beneath chaotic drumming and sharp octave chords, with songs that come and go before you know what hit you.

Check it out here.

Oriana Raeo - s/t

Oriana Raeo starts off with some beautifully textured guitars that feel like a warm blanket on a cold day.  They keep things at a pretty moderate pace while some nicely executed screaming falls in, sounding like another instrument in the composition rather than a spotlight on top of the music.

By track three ("Questionable Remarks") they've decided to give you a glimpse at what a faster, more chaotic approach would sound like if they were offer it up.  However, it seems Oriana Raeo is more at home with keep things slower, sad and textured.  Picture Portraits of Past without the fast parts.

Check it out here.

Facility - The First Four

Facility is a new band from New Jersey that basically took everything I love about hardcore and turned those aspects into songs.  There's chaos, groove, melody, intelligent lyrics and good musicianship.  Really, I couldn't be more pleased.

Picture an updated version of early 2000's bands like To Dream of Autumn or Choke The Rivers With Their Dead and you'll start to get an idea of what Facility is putting forth here. If the quality of these first four songs this band has written is any indication of their potential, we have some good material to look forward to in the future.

Check it out here.

Friday, February 13, 2015

End Year - Kursk

I caught end year at a show a couple months ago. It was one of those instances where you know nothing about a band and they totally catch you off guard.  Their instrumental compositions were powerful and well done.  It was easy to get lost in the canvas these guys were painting.

They had no merch of any kind at the show but informed me the record would be up online in a couple of weeks.  I suppose I can say this falls into the Explosions in the Sky sort of instrumental camp, but End Year has a voice all their own here.

Have a listen here.

Of Feather and Bone - Falsehealer

For fans of noisy, brutal onslaughts of hardcore, similar to Host, Tragedy and Dead in the Dirt; Of Feather and Bone carve out a niche for themselves taking some elements of traditional hardcore and fusing them with a dirtier sound laced with feedback and powerful drumming.

The song structures are well planned keeping the listener on their toes with quick changes and diverse tempos.

This might please the crusties and the camo shorts crew alike.  Check it out here.

AkallabĂȘth - 7"

I took some time off from doing this blog. This was mostly as an effort to disconnect more aspects of my life from an online presence.

Then my friend Shawn introduced me to Akallabeth and I just thought "damn, this is the type of band that made we want to start a blog about music".

Akallabeth is a perfect blend of aggression and melody without sounding awkward or forced. Try to picture mid 90's bands like Inkwell or Julia, but with more aggressive vocal styling.  The first song has a drawn out clean guitar intro, but stick around, once things get going they are sure to please.

Check it out here