Hey! The reason why this blog is kind of quiet during the end of this week is that yours truly is away in Germany for a couple of shows with the band My Turn. For now, make sure to check http://myturnhc.blogspot.com/ for the mini tour diary blog and we will be back with you with more ferocious hardcore and metal very very soon!
Friday, October 28, 2011
Monday, October 24, 2011
Naming your band "BEAR" is all good when you actually make music that sounds like a huge fucking bear landing on your head!
And this is the case here. These wild Belgians have managed to take the hardcore/metal background and shoot it to the moon. In my book, their new album entitled Doradus deserves a place right up there with the essentials of tecnhnical and progressive hardcore/metal like Coalesce, Curl Up and Die, early Converge, etc. Putting the cherry on the cake for us, Bear also manage to produce some huge sounding, epic moshing rock (or rocking mosh) that is catchy and tuneful, and goes down well any time of the day. It's awesome to hear some music that retains the true hardcore fury of previous époques, but also goes the extra mile, maintaing an equally badass and intellectual feel all the way through.
When a band plays such an interesting mix of sounds, the production that coats the music is always crucial. On Doradus, Bear packs a crystal clear production sound that creates a wrecking ball out of the twisted metallic riffs and groovy drum patterns; Everything crumples under the undisputed pressure of this solidly built destruction machine! The songs are pretty short for this genre (around the 3 minute mark), which is a good thing. However, Bear manage to squeeze in all the power, intensity and passion in each and every song, as they scoop the best elements from deathcore, progressive/post hardcore, djent, and even good old black metal.
The most important thing that this record reminds us, is that even though it's good to take different elements and mix them into the melting pot, balance and composure (sic) are also essential. It's no good to have an album that sounds like it's made up of guest musicians. That is to say identity is all important for a band, and Bear have that in check. They manage to unite all the influences into something we can simply call hardcore/metal, and which isn't overly progressive and/or tiring. Congrats to Let it Burn records for having a band like this on its roster! I am super happy to see hardcore music still making a progess without losing its touch! Check this shit out!
UPs: Super tight playing, super groovy rhythms, good catchiness factor without going pop, brutal and heavy without being chaotic.
DOWNs: None that I can find.
LOWDOWN: Diligent metallic hardcore making a tour de force, celebrating all extreme music.
The Southern Oracle is a band which juggles brutal metalcore and deathcore with such precision and technicality, that will surely delight the needs of most modern metal (and some hardcore) fans.
Hellwakening is indeed a hell of an album. It's filled with heavy metallic riffs and stompy beatdowns that succeed one in other in a very relentless and warlike manner. There is enough speed, heaviness and ferocity spat out, which will have you going for the "repeat" many times over as a result. Maybe at first, this album is a bit of a handful and sounds a bit long for the inexperienced listener, because of all the complex riffs and constant changes in the songs (and the slight lack of catchiness). However, there is no letting up by these Hungarians; just merciless metalcore pounding! What this actually means is that you have to work on the record by giving it your time and attention. In other words, it's a solid, mature, real metal record.
A thing you shouldn't be looking for in this record is clean vocals. These Hungarian dudes keep it heavy all the way through and resist going out like the majority of metalcore bands, which can't resist the pop element (i.e. The Devil Wears Prada, We Came As Romans etc). Therefore albeit having their melodic riffs, this album often departs from metalcore territory and kind of dwelves more into technical deathcore stuff. In a way, it transcends both these genres. Some of the riffs are melodic and technical, while others are more proper death metal oriented. There is something for everyone (except the emo kid).
This album also has a nice production that takes it away from the usual beatdown and metalcore stuff, and roots it firmly in a more metallic tradition. Therfore, fans of The Haunted and Heaven Shall Burn will definitely enjoy this more than fans of whatever modern metalcore is the flavor of the day out there. Nevertheless, there is enough beatdown to keep all the beatdown junkies satisfied, for sure. Add some nice layers of horror atmosphere, guest vocals by Darkest Hour and Bridge To Solace members, great lookingartwork by Dyer Baizley (or someone else?), and you get a very enticing package indeed.
UPs: Awesome production, very high technical skills, good exchange of dual vocals (high and low pitched), decent amount of brutality.
DOWNs: Not enough innovation going on here, not very catchy or memorable enough songs.
LOWDOWN: Technical but mature metalcore/deathcore for the metal fan.
Friday, October 21, 2011
THE EYES OF A TRAITOR is a superb metallic hardcore band from Hertfordshire, England. Their unique blend of all good things metalcore is aswesomely brutal and mercilessly delivered, but also brings a hint of a mysteriously dark / new age feel. The above element enables them clearly depart from your typical US metalcore sound. With their brand new 4-track ep on Reprogrammed to Hate Records, TEOAT have reprogrammed avant garde metalcore and taken it to new levels of extremity and commitment. British hardcore astonishes once again.
Live shows with a strict hardcore/punk focus are super fucking rare in the Greek indie music scene. The lack of a scene and bands playing old school hardcore, has pushed the few bands that do this style kind of play as the odd band in punk, metal etc shows. Therefore, it's totally awesome and new to have a show with bands that play strictly old school, straight to the point hardcore. It's great to have most of the Greek bands who play OSHC do a show together. So, tonight, forget about the crisis and make your way to the An Club if you live in Athens!
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Just check out the bands on this bill: Murphy's Law, Skarhead, Lordz of Brooklyn... all NYHC! There is also a certain Darkside NYC playing, which is such a infamous and extreme fucking band. Possibly the band that started the whole death metal/hardcore, deathcore etc phenomenon back in the day. Make sure to check them out!
The Hundredth is an up & coming progressive/post hardcore metal band, with the above description not exactly explaining how heavy and awesome these guys really are. They are on Mediaskare Records and currently tour with some Reaper Records bands, like Backtrack and Take Offense. This shows that even though The Hundredth may flirt with the mainstream HC/metal scene (professional videos, some clean choruses thrown in etc) they are still down with the ol' core. Enjoy this cool video!
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Cricket Cemetery is a US label that specializes in discordant, scorching hardcore punk that is definitely a step ahead of today's standards. The label is releasing one crucial 7" after the other, attacking the world with beautifully incomprehensible hardcore noise that goes unmatched in the current HC/punk (and even metal) scenes. This is our first Cricket Cemetery review, for the band LTW.
The phantom HC outfit which goes under the name of LTW is a perfect example of the label's dilapidated take on hardcore, as their Total Garbage 7" brings the noise like it aint no thing. LTW deliver three relentless hardcore blasts of rabid drumming, loud as fuck basslines, demented barked vocals and a production sound that is dirtier than CBGB's toilet.
What is really going on here is a demolition and reorganization of hardcore's bare essentials: short punk riifs, explosive layers of distortion and crazy breakneck rhythms. This ultra-sped Black Flag bastard of a son is combined with tons of feedback, well placed psychedelic breaks and some silent parts that indeed leave you wandering "what the fuck?" For sure, this would go down better with fans of powerviolence, fastcore, grind etc compared to the typical hardcore fan.
I guess Cricket Cemetary reinvents the hardcore of a new generation and, quite possibly, this is what the hipsters will soon be listening to (hopefully not). In either case, my ears hurt!
Ups: a new style, 100% craziness and a rawness you can't debate
Downs: too dirty for some
Lowdown: maniac hardcore that you can either take or not
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Sheer Terror is one of the most classic - and most underrated - bands when it comes to NYHC/punk. They are also one of the first bands to incorporate heavy vocals in hardcore and bring a distinct heavy metal element in punk rock and hardcore in general. They've had a somewhat notorious fame in hardcore, mainly due to their anti-positive, hateful approach to, well... everything!
|photo by Jammi York, from Sheer Terror's FB page|
After many years of laying low, Sheer Terror strikes again in 2011 with a new album on up and rising Reaper Records (home for Madball and Terror amongst others). On this brand new album with the apt title Spite, Sheer Terror deliver a bunch of their trademark, pissed off hardcore blasts; however, there are also some mid-tempo, streetcore/punk rock anthems that will have your working class pride rising up like it ain't no thing. The song "Salome" (which you can check out below) is an example of the above.
Opting for some old school punk rock is not such a strange move for a band like Sheer Terror. These guys have been quiet for quite a while and now that they're back, they take the chance to show their roots instead of just making another strictly 'old school hardcore' record to please the fans.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Old school thrash/hardcore legends SUICIDAL TENDENCIES seem to be at full force after the long hiatus which lasted during most of the 00s. Their 2010 comeback record No Mercy Fool! The Suicidal Family is still fresh as ST plays short tours and one-off shows sponsored by skateboard company, Vans. Moreover, Mike Muir aka Cyco Miko (S.T.'s singer and certified nut) is releasing a new personal album, which we'll make sure to review here very very soon.
For more info on Suicidal in 2011, check this cool interview on Metalsucks. It's a long and detailed interview which provides a lot of insight on this crazy but charismatic musician's life, mind and attitude. Finally, don't forget to click below and see the new video for the re-recorded super thrash classic "I Feel Your Pain" which has just been released! 2011 reallys seems to be "year of the Cyco", as ST themselves put it!
Monday, October 10, 2011
Living Sacrifice is an awesome death metal/hardcore band that has been going since 1989. They have been pounding extreme, brutal and dark hardcore ever since, and are considered to be one of the more well-known Christian hardcore bands (a comparison you would never make based on the music). Whatever the case may be, Living Sacrifice have put out seven killer albums on Solid State and R.E.X records that all fans of heavy and dark, metallic hardcore should check. Their latest stuff have a slight industrial (think Fear Factory) feel, but the older stuff is pure heavy ass metalcore. Check the video below!
Friday, October 7, 2011
IRONWILL is an awesome, spirit-filled band on Blood & Ink Records and their new record Unturned is a piece of emotive hardcore which is so sincere and deep that it will go down well with fans of metal, hardcore and punk alike.
The thing with Unturned is that, albeit a solid hardcore record, its sounds create a heavy-thinking and melancholic atmosphere every time you put it on. It is so nice to have a band that can create feelings and convey unspoken messages through their music, and IRONWILL does that very well. They use thick guitar layers and superb hardcore drum patterns to create a very solid base for the singer to come in and scream his lungs out about all kinds of personal and philosophical matters.
I'd go so far to say that in way IRONWILL is for hardcore music what NEUROSIS and ISIS are for metal; that is, the more weird, dark and introspective side of the spectrum. In addition, all the hardcore on this record has been layered with some extra guitar work that borrows equal elements from metal, rock and even guitar-pop. It may sound weird, but the music is so solid that the extra guitars only elevate it to an even higher level.
Unturned is a strangely unique record and in a way, it will take its toll on you. After a few listens, these hardcore songs start to creep in and become more personal, and might even give you a sense of loss, regret and whatnot. So I'd say that this record is more hardcore than hardcore, even if it is filled with melodies and crazy build ups that are not so common in today's narrow confines of hardcore.
UPs: Genre-defying guitar work, super-powerful drumming, intricate song structures
DOWNs: Not suitable for when you're already feeling like shit/hurt/whatever
Lowdown: Powerful and emotive hardcore with great musicianship and totally fresh ideas while staying true to hardcore
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Summer's gone for sure, but hardcore music samplers are still relevant. And you can download the Facedown Records Summer Comp for free. All you have to do is go on their Facebook page and "like" them:
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Dalmiro Tattoos is the work of Dalmiro Dalmont, an impressive and diverse tattoo artist who specializes in full color traditional Japanese style as well as old school / Americana tattoos (or a mix of both). He does mostly large scale work with incredible, eye-catching detail and color. You can check out his awesome work here and see more of his truly inspiring skin art.
The image above is one of Dalmiro's newest creations, with the dark yet awesome title "Religion Kills". An art critic am I not, but I can understand that the pain caused by imposed religion over the course of mankind still lives in the hearts of people. From what I've seen in my time documenting hardcore and tattoos, many people who live and create within alternative cultures have the urge to express their hate towards religion. At the same time, in a world of crisis we frequently witness other people's strong urge to go back to those old values. So do we need religion, or not? The answer, like always, is only personal.Image used by permission of the artist
Monday, October 3, 2011
So in the year 2011 SKARHEAD's back with an unsuspected covers album. They've really made an album of mean, no fronts hardcore music, by covering the pioneers who originally formed the NYHC sound during the golden 86-89 period. We're talking bands like SHEER TERROR, AGNOSTIC FRONT, WARZONE, CRO-MAGS, KILLING TIME etc. And if you know your NYHC, then you probably already know these bands are the real deal; the legends. With this album, SKARHEAD carries on that NYHC legacy by redoing the classics in a very honest and true to the roots way. The parade of infamous hardcore vocalists on the guest vox makes this even more highly recommended.
I also want to say that -as you can understand by listening to the song below - the production sound is also close to NYHC (loud metallic bass, dirty guitar tone, drums with lots of reverb), thus maintaing the the old school feel in all of those songs. I love that they named the album Dreams Don't Die. It's like showing that after all those years and all the hardships, some people still have their hearts set on hardcore. Respect for that! Now go and find Dreams Don't Die and do your NYHC homework!
Dedicated to xMarkMyTurnx for turning me onto this album.
TOMBS have an awesome new album on Relapse Records entitled Path of Totality. Check out the following review by Rigas and find out why this record should accompany the upcoming fall/winter.
What's next in 2011’s blender?! There is a lot of good stuff out there at the moment, so let’s check directly Tombs’ latest release. Tombs come from Brooklyn are quite known in U.S. underground, most notably for their granite sound and crushing live performances. The band carries on in a string of good releases, following ‘Winter Hours’ in 2009. This is their sophomore full-length (and by far their longest), with the ‘total’ title ‘Path of Totality’. The band has also scored a self-titled EP in 2007 and a split with Planks in 2008.
The song ‘To cross the land’ sounds like Neurosis jamming with Darkthrone with vocals varying from desperate early Isis shouts to growls and more black infused screams. It starts with an atmospheric intro reminiscent of Isis/Neurosis but more pale and ‘colorless’ to be followed soon by black metal riffing to finish in a doom and discordant mode. I consider this the first ‘real’ song, because ‘Black Hole of Summer’ is more like an opener where the dynamics of the band are presented, but there is nothing substantial there (filler?). The keys used there are not such a good idea according to my taste and I am glad I did not listen to them again throughout the record (only at the very end).
The third number, ‘Constellations’, marks the first affiliation with hardcore punk that incorporates a brutal hardcore riff from late 90’s era. ‘Bloodletters’ is a harvest of so many styles like death/black metal – post rock – hardcore, yet Tombs manage all this quite skillfully. This scenario pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the album with songs ranging from 3 to 7 minutes. I should mention ‘Cold Dark Eyes’ which is a highlight song that culminates at an amazing melody (akin to Red Sparowes, Explotions in the Sky, Godspeed you black emperor!). What is interesting here is that they arrive to this melody after black metal and crushing mid-tempos, whereas their post rock colleagues would climax there after acoustic calm passages. ‘Black Heaven’ and ‘Red Shadows’ are also exciting songs.
The black metal parts seem to have become a trademark of their music after the 2008’s split, although this time sound a bit more neat and cozy. The band is influenced predominantly from black metal (but stripped down to fit with the other genres) and Neurosis/early Isis with a touch of Red Sparrowes in the melodies. To a lesser extend, we could trace back influences from clevocore sound (most notably Integrity) and newer bands like Cursed, Rise and Fall, Trap Them etc. This heavy/dark hardcore sound is growing with more bands emerging (Oathbreaker, All Pigs Must Die etc.). I can also find artistic similarities (e.g. dark image, serious dedication) to other genre-defying bands like Unearthly Trance and Dephosphorus. I have the feeling that Justin Broadrick would be smiling listening to the wall of sound this band can build. The difference with other hardcore acts is that they have an expansive sound where even the sparse (dark and bitter) melodies are let to breathe. Anyways, Tombs is more a metal band it seems.
The production from John Congleton (Baroness, Explosions in the Sky) is good, dark but warm with the necessary depth. I would prefer it a bit more rough (which would strengthen the black metal side of the group), but I also acknowledge the difficulty of harbouring all these different styles while maintaining a cohesive sound. The vocals, which are above average, vary greatly from black (sometimes reminding some Rotting Christ growls) to deep goth-style. It is one of the few occasions that variation works positive for the band (I am really tired of the clean/brutal plastic vox!). The desperate shouts ala Isis (Celestial era) is my personal fav. The lyrics are dark, bleak and uncanny forecasting the doomsday. I really enjoy the sound of the drums while drumming is smashing, tight and clever.
The album comes also in double LP from Relapse records. The beautiful cover is created by Thomas Hooper. The album calls for those that look beyond trends and seek for original heaviness. On the other hand, this record gives me the feeling that the sound of Tombs is yet to be completed
Do you like Tomb’s ‘Path of totality’ cover? Find out more about Thomas Hooper (NYC):
Check out more visual artists related to new cult bands:
Glyn ‘Scrawled’ Smyth:
Viral Graphics (Athens, GR):
Saturday, October 1, 2011
LIONHEART is an awesome metallic hardcore band in the vein of BLOOD FOR BLOOD, HOODS etc. The band hails from Northern California and specializes at delivering the best in brutal, ultra-angry hardcore. Their new record on Mediaskare Records hits hard and will go down nice with all fans of heavy hardcore.
Before some people dismiss LIONHEART as another 'macho' or 'tough guy' band, I would like to mention just one thing. If you notice the title of the song, it says 'Brother's Keeper'; the song's lyrics are about brotherhood and watching out for your friends. Therefore - and because I know that many HC kids out there are quick to judge - please check your shit and actually check out a band for what it's worth and what they sing before going off on one.
Just because these dudes are built like brick shithouses and they're and angry as fuck, it doesn't mean that they aren't down with what hardcore is all about.
OK, so this blog has been kind of quiet during this week, but at least there's been a good reason for it. That reason is that I traveled with the band I play guitar for (My Turn) for a one of a kind show with TRIAL and ANCHOR in Sofia, Bulgaria on the 26th of September. In the following article I will write a few things about out roadtrip and especially about the awesome show we witnessed.
I will begin by saying that we left for Sofia on Sunday morning and we had just played a show the previous night (on the 24th). So I guess that we all were a little worn out even before starting the roadtrip. But everyone who's dedicated to the music he/she loves knows that the fatigue is definitely nothing compared to the experiences gained through this lifestyle. Anyways... so we started traveling north for about 5 hours and stopped at Thessaloniki, the second biggest Greek city which is situated not more than 3-4 hours away from Sofia (our destination). We met with our friend Nick from ETERNAL HATED, and we went out for food and chilled with some friends at a square somewhere in town. We then crashed at his house after chilling and talking. I slept on a bed with two of my bandmates that night. Classy, huh?
The next day we got up, washed etc and we went to get some food supplies for the remaining roadtrip. Being a vegan, it is not always easy for me to be on the road, so usually I have to plan beforehand. Off to the super market, then. We got on the road and after a couple of hours we crossed the Bulgarian border. I was already pretty psyched about seeing TRIAL that night. I was listening to their whole discography on my MP3 player in the car and was continuously getting more and more wired, while the eastern European landscape pictures constantly changed outside the car window.
After a few hours we we arrived at Sofia and found our way to The Box, the club the show was at. We were the first band to arrive, so we just unpacked and went to eat lunch and get some guitar strings etc. When we came back to the club all the bands were in the venue, setting up the merch so we got to work and did the same. It was 5 bands playing that night, so the dudes from the bands alone were kind of enough to create a pretty lively atmosphere. Soon enough, the show was ready to start and TAKING HOLD, the only Bulgarian band playing that night took the stage. These guys play tight heavy/melodic old school hardcore with nice melodies and super groovy beatdowns. They had a lot of friends with them who knew all the lyrics (they were singing in Bulgarian) and they put on a short but definitely awesome set.
We (MY TURN) got on stage straight away TH's show and had about 20 minutes to play as much as we could from our set, so we obviously had to axe some songs. It was the second time we've played in Sofia, and we kind of already had some friends and some people who knew us, so the show went down pretty well. We also had a crew of Greek hardcore kids who traveled for this particular show, and it was awesome to have them represent Greek HC, and see them in such a different and unknown context.
The reality of the matter is that I felt kind of relieved when we finished playing our show, cause then I could enjoy the rest of the bands without worrying about our shit. RUN WITH THE HUNTED took the stage and played their Deathwish-influenced, discordant hardcore. They honestly seemed like great dudes, even though their style of hardcore is definitely not my personal favorite style. Nevertheless, they were pretty tight and quite possibly the most extreme (musically) band of the night!
Run With The Hunted
As the night progressed, it was time for the bigger bands to take the stage. ANCHOR is one of the most well-known European hardcore bands these days, and I just couldn't wait to see what they had to offer. Moreover, being vegan straight edge myself, I was really proud to finally see a band which openly represents the values I believe in and that have shaped my life in such an important way. ANCHOR played a nice enough set, but I don't think it had the urgency and intensity that I expected from them. Maybe they were kind of tired or something... They had the awesome guitar work and the nice hardcore anthems that are worshipped on their albums, but in my opinion they needed something more.
We had reached the end of the show and it was time for TRIAL, the 90s hardcore legends. We had waited for a long time and the night was about to end, but with a blast. They typically started of with the symphonic intro to the song "Reflections", and then - like it usually happens at TRIAL shows - the whole place erupted. Greg Bennick must be one of the best frontmen that I have ever seen, with such passion and intensity and integrity. The things he says to the crowd in between songs are just pure gold, things that help you with your own life and that you can carry with you forever. So TRIAL delivered all their 90s classics which are as relevant today as they were back then. I honestly lost my mind and moshed my ass off during their show. I've been thinking that I'm a little too old to mosh sometimes, but I don't think I had another choice during that particular show!
And just like that, it was all over. In typical hardcore tradition, we hung out outside the club for a while after the show and we went to EAT like crazy. We were all kinda tired but we couldn't actually feel it from the excitement of the show. We went and sat down and everyone looked happy and full of the energy that only a hardcore show can give you. We devoured tons of food and Coke and it was time to call it a night and go to the places we were going to sleep. I slept at Niki's, the dude who put on the show and runs UGLY & PROUD Records. In his bedroom he showed me a drawer with lots of hardcore fanzines and I spent quite a few hours reading them, until I was utterly exhausted and had to just pass out. The next day we had a whole day of traveling in order to get our asses back to Athens. It is hard but I knew that an exhausting week full of work was waiting for me back home.
Special thanks to Natalia for the pix... check out her blog at: http://zombey.tumblr.com/