Sunday, January 29, 2012

Record Review: Robert of the Square "Time. Truth. Heart." (Hollow Earth Records)

A compelling debut EP from Robert of the Square that generates great hope for European avant-garde hardcore’s future. Rooted in both Botch-like dissonant structures and more expansive post-rock/post-hardcore themes, they explore the whole musical territory inbetween while treading in new ground. They develop a mature sound before they even introducing themselves.

Genre: Post-hardcore/Metal
Country: Italy
Label: Hollow Earth Records (link)
Band Website: Bandcamp

To be honest, the only thing I know about Italy’s hardcore is only some bandanna thrash and oldschool hardcore punk. Robert of the Square, from Trieste are remarkably different. They deliver a solid debut EP that is at least promising of great things to come. Surprisingly, their sound is already ‘mature’ enough to explore, appropriate and combine their influences to craft five ‘driving’ songs hard to go unnoticed. Well-written, skillfully-executed with an outstanding production their sound rests equally on mathcore and more expansive post-hardcore.

Although a comparsion with American peers like Achilles or The Minor Times (who came into prominence in the latter half of the 2010’s) would be valid, the listener soon realizes that Robert Of The Square consciously depart from that sound to explore a softer, more progressive and atmospheric side of the genre. For instance, the song ‘Dominio’ demonstrates most evidently their European character with dark haunting melodic riffing while still keeping the dazzling, palindromic Botch affairs all too well blended. Their sound is also informed by post-rock aficionados Mogwai and Red Sparrows.

The first number ‘Time’ is quite representative of what Robert Of The Square stand for musically: They enter the musical landscape with an interesting 1 minute ‘showcase’ of their explorative sound palette that sets the tone for the rest of the EP just to give place to typical mid-paced ‘cumbersome’ dissonance of Botch and the likes to fall back to more ‘stretched’ post-hardcore passages of earlier Swedish stalwarts like Burst and Breach.

There is no drawback in this EP, just plenty of memorable moment throughout the whole set. From the exquisite slow second part of ‘Truth’ that broadcasts some glimmers of unwinding hope to the dynamic complexity of ‘Impero’ which resembles some early-Norma Jean vibes and the monolithic heaviness of ‘Ego’ the genre of heavy, experimental music has won a gifted exponent. The vocals express insight and pressure, hard and throaty with no exceptions.

Every song is a creation, every song is ‘driving’ with manifold changes and tempo shifts intermingled, every song has a reason to be there altogether creating an exciting flow in the album. This EP, unsettling and experimental as it is, may open many musical paths for Robert Of The Square to follow. I recommend everybody to check them out, because they are a great hope for the avant-garde hardcore scene of Europe.
- Rigas

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Record Review: World in Arms - "Strong at Heart" (self-released)

Genre: Melodic Metalcore
Country: Providence, US
Label: - (self released) 

Metalcore can be both a good and a bad thing; and in this case it is a VERY good thing. World in Arms plays emotive, modern metallic hardcore that the same time hits harder than the proverbial ten ton hammer. This is no joke; these guys took the lead from all good things in US metalcore and went to create a masterpiece of pent up emotions, accumulated sadness and blind rage.

The ep (7 tracks in total) starts of with an heavy youth crew-ish intro and the phrase "you did this to your self" manically shouted with gang vocals. This is the type of shit that shows me right away the record will fucking rule. The driving guitars contrast the gnarly vocals, the latter (along with the lyric subjects) clearly placing this band in hardcore and not so much in metal. The vocals - and I don't say this easily - are some of the best I've heard lately in this genre. There is so much passion and anger in them, but also a heavy dose of melancholy and despair. We're talking really thick, raspy vocals with a unique identity, and obviously totally removed from the Terror clones you hear every day. Dude also attacks with some ear destroying death metal vocals evey now and then, and puts the cherry on the cake with some classic (in HC) spoken words over the music.

World in Arms continues to wreck shit all trhough the album, but there also is the correct amount of diversity to keep things interesting. There are some clever and super bouncy beatdown parts that luckily don't last forever, and thus serve their purpose boosting the songs and making them sound more groovy. Then again, there are some cool clean parts that are not emo by any means, but do add a bit of atmosphere to the whole outcome. These parts make the ep sound really modern and give it a strange avant garde (dare I say) aura. But let us not kid ourselves; it's the guitars that shape most of the things around here, with the aggressive yet melodic approach which brings to mind stuff like Misery Signals or even With Honor. This is good shit!

I just want to sum this up by saying that even though metalcore is looked down by some as the flavor of the day, let us not dismiss the bands who are doing things with heart and do have something to offer. Music styles, values and aesthetics come and go as fashions in hardcore, but there are always those who are true -- and this you can suss right away. World in Arms is just like that, and they hit so fucking hard. You won't forget them easily so get into them.

Fotis TxYxS

Friday, January 20, 2012

Demonic Slaughter - "Revelations of Death" (Hellthrasher Prods)

Genre: Black/Thrash Metal
Country: Poland
Band Website: Myspace

All hail. What we have here is a dirty rotten piece of old school black metal music for fans of that real nasty and unpleasant horror atmosphere.

Demonic Slaughter pull no punches as they plunge on to the sheer necro debauchery after a quick intro characteristically entitled "Funeral". The sound is a  low-budget, dirty and flat barrage of noise, reminiscent of that gone but not forgetten early BM époque, or even the modern black thrash revival.

There is really nothing modern about the sound of these Polish necro fiends, while they destroy all in sight with this 3rd album of theirs. And even though they have the aforementioned BM worship (early Mayhem, Burzum etc) locked down, that's not all that's going on: Demonic Slaughter manages to sneak in some unholy death/thrash metal influence that is really subtle, but definitely doesn't go unnoticed. The band also layers its sound with lots of intros, samples and weird passages that bring on that real old school horror atmosphere. What we're talking about is not Necrophagia's Lucio Fulci, but the real black & white cvlt horror atmosphere which is also the most effective. The album is spiked with weird sounds, satanic poetry, weird keyboards, cracks, screams, yelps and indiscernible sounds that makes your hair stand up. Real haunted house (check the cover), cemetery, grave-rising atmosphere that will put your thoughts in a loop.

While the aforementioned theatrical atmosphere goes on, there is nothing theatrical about the band's playing, as the drummer produces some crushing BM blasts and the sharp riffs give lessons in old school black thrash violence. The distortions are not huge or anything but that's also the point here, to make a nasty necro sound that is not based on huge amps but on the "right" quality of dirtiness. There are also two kinds of vocals: nasty and super nasty. The plain nasty ones are typical blackthrash screams and they are used as the main singing voice. Then again, the super nasty ones are weaker but definitely more unholy and are used in the aforementioned sick poetry and sometimes during the verses. This double vocal exchange is quite intriguing to the ear that only expects one kind of vocal. All in all, fans of Aura Noir, Cadaver, Desaster and that whole old school thrash black sound will just love this. However, be forewarned that this band is more underground and harsh to listen to (yay!).


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tattoo Spotlight: True Love Tattoo Madrid, Spain

In general, we'd have to admit that there must be more than a few tattoo studios entitled True Love around the world. The name might not be exceptionally and totally original, but it surely stands for a lot. And sure enough, the things that happen in these studios are indeed quite unique. We have a lot of work to do to cover them all, but we'll start by throwing the spotlight on Spain's True Love Tattoo, Madrid.

I personally hadn't heard much about this particular studio beforehand, but the video below says it all. It seems like True Love Tattoo Madrid is a real mecca for people to get tattooed when in this city. I love the studio's old school feel, the checkered floor pattern and the fact that it seems like a place that a lot of HC kids and gals get their ink done. Moreover, as you'll notice by watching the video, one of the artists is wearing a Warzone t shirt and that's a definite bonus!

Enjoy this professionally shot video by Ronink Media and listen some cool tunes (including one from Social Distortion) accompanying the well known tattoo machine sounds.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Record Review: OATHBREAKER - "Mælstrøm" (Deathwish Records)

With this post, Take Your Shot fanzine celebrates a total of 300 posts! We'd like to thank all the people who visit & read, as well as the bands and labels who support us and put out awesome music. It's been a long and joyful trip in the wondrous world of underground music and it's not like we feel like stopping any time soon. In fact, our crew is now stronger than ever! On this 300th post, contributor Nick reviews Oathbreaker's weird but melodic post hardcore/crust masterpiece. Read on & enjoy!

Genre: Post Hardcore/Crust
Country: Belgium
Label: Deatwish Inc
Band Website: facebook

Three years after the release of their outstanding self-titled EP, Belgium hardcore kids Oathbreaker, strike back with their first full length Mælstrøm. Yet, another fine piece of hardcore/crust/metal tunes that are worth our attention. What I really like on these guys & girls (lady on vocals) is that they achieve to combine various elements of heavy music, keeping the hardcore aesthetics at the front page and succeed to sound unique and everything else but boring.

Though I don’t usually write about particular songs of an album, I think that in this case it is the best way to review Mælstrøm and give a clearer idea about what you are about to listen and feel. This happens mainly because of the various elements included as well as because of the huge differences between each song. Let’s start randomly checking out some of the tunes then.
The album starts with a “black-ish” riff, confusing the ones that were expecting to hear a typical hardcore/punk band but immediately turns to be an á la Converge type song, showing the band's major influence and intentions. Moreover, we can't overlook that the album was mixed by Kurt Ballou and mastered by Alan Douches (Converge, The Dillinger Escape Plan). Crust-punk drumming and guitar riffing mainly follow the style of Cursed and Rise and Fall, accompanied at several points with “sick” guitar melodies and a lower tempo turn. These turns upgrade the song and remind us why Converge is one of the leading and most influential bands in the hardcore/metal scene the last 15 years. (Ok, I promise not to use the word Converge again in this review).

Mælstrøm goes on with a catchy-groovy-heavy yet trivial and indifferent riff that you have heard 1 million times before. However, it gets you in the mood and fortunately it doesn’t last long as the song (“Hierophant”) turns to be a typical crossover-thrash tune bringing memories of early nineties and late eighties bands. Similar lines are followed in the song “Thorn” (even the guitar solo is so fucking old-school) until the last minute, when it gradually enters a more doom/sludge notion and crawls with it till the end. I would like to mention again the “black-ish” sound and riffing that is obvious here as in many other songs of the album.

The highlight of this blackened sound is the six-minute “Glimpse of the Unseen” which is a 100% black metal song at the style of Satyricon (post-Rebel Extravaganza period), Tombs and Burzum. Sadistic low tempo riffs, grated guitars and torn vocals at one of the best songs of the album. Album closes with an acoustic 4 minute epilogue (“Mælstrøm”) that brings you back in a safe place and lets you breathe at normal rates again. Imagine Botch’s Afghamistam (the first part of it) with clean female vocals like Gathering and you get the picture! When the singing part starts, it's hard to believe that it's not Anneke Van Giesbergen's (The Gathering, Agua the Annique) voice, not only because of the voice similarity but also because of the similar vocal lines.

Sludge/Doom influences are also observed, i.e. in the third song of the album (“Fate Is High”), which starts with a riff that brings in mind bands like Solitude Aeturnus and Cathedral but it continues heavily influenced by more contemporary acts like High on Fire, Black Cobra and Kylesa. The rotation of fast and slow rhythms, the atmospheric feel and a more “fixed play” give you a feeling of entering dark passages and facing dragons and demons. Same story happens during the song “Black Sun”, which could be easily be described as the end of the story that started with “Fate Is High”.

Some of you might have been already convinced to check out the album (or not). Some of you might be confused. To be honest now from reading what I have written so far, I am a bit confused too. In the end, is it a good album or not? Can it be that such a weird mixture is good? Is it maybe a bit too much? Are they just copying all the things that I have described with nothing new to tell? But then I am thinking that Mælstrøm has been stacked into my playlist for more that two months already.

Oathbreaker sound way more mature than their previous work, show a tremendous capability to combine so many things, and they are not afraid to show their influences and to experiment with them. Finally, I would like to mention that I cannot think of or even imagine a better production for this album.

For the confused ones then, the clearer answer I can give to their doubt is: Check this shit out!

Nikos Tolis
nikostolis [at] gmail [dot] com

Friday, January 13, 2012

Record Review: HELLCRAWLER - Wastelands (Hollow Earth Records)

Things have been progressing like crazy in all fronts of extreme music; bands transmigrate from one genre to another in the need to create something worth listening to and bring together the best of influences. But can a band combine different characteristics from multiple genres and still create a solid sound that is totally their own, trademark noise? Hellcrawler prove all of the above with their sludgy blackened metal meets barbaric crustcore.
Genre: Metal/Crust
Country: Slovenia
Label: Hollow Earth Records (link)
Band Website: bandcamp

There are times that pure death metal is too narrow a path for our intricate taste in brutal music, and on the other side even the most brutal crust is too much of a punk deal. We want something that combines the heaviness and darkness of both these genres. And Hellcrawler have a little bit of something for everyone. Either if you're a punk kid with dreads down your back, a metal dude clad in black or simply a HC kid won over by metal, you are in the right place with this gut-punching factory of brutal noise. You can either just put on this album, get Satanic and let it raw (recommended), or we can try to go into specifics and analyze these sounds a little bit. In fact, we'll do just that in the next couple paragraphs to give a better idea.

I like the fact that what's going on in Wastelands is dark and bleak, just like it should. This is why I'd say that this album, if I had to categorize it somewhere, belongs most of all in the crust genre. It is raw and dark and it has an overall punk attitude. But if you pay closer attention, you'll come to notice that these guys actually play some fucking proper metal that will satisfy many different metal tastes at once. They have the pseudo-black metal in check with their nasty unholy guitars and BM blasts; they have the retro death metal vox which nod to stuff like Hellhammer and Possessed; then again, they have the flaming hotrod rock n roll solos every now and then, just for good measure. There is a ton of D-beat too, so punx need not worry.

The production isn't clean or anything, but of course it's just right for this style. I couldn't imagine this band with triggered drums and computerized guitars. No fucking way! What blasts from the speakers through Wastelands is a truly barbaric sound that makes me picture the band play right down the end of a sludgy mountain cave in their native Slovenia. Stuff gets so dirty and muddy that at some points, even though these guys are speeding it up big time, it still feels like they're playing slow or at least mid tempo.

Summing up, I'd say that this is some of the best crust I heard in recent times, and a band that definitely deserves to be considered a bit ahead of the pack. There are so many others doing the same tired melodic crust thing or Motorhead/rock crust type stuff, we don't need more bands like that. Give Hellcrawler a chance and try something new and uncomprosmisingly heavy! With song titles like "Motosluts from Hell", what else do you want?

Monday, January 9, 2012

A welcome to our new contributor!

We are glad to announce that Markos from The Underdog hardcore webzine has joined the ranks of Take Your Shot and will contribute with his awesome reviews about (what else?) hardcore records. This is a guy who's been listening to hardcore for a really long time and definitely knows his shit when it comes to this music, let alone he loves it like few people out there do.

Throughout the years, he's been spreading hardcore through his webzine, has done loads of interviews with many notable HC bands (H20, Madball, Agnostic Front a.o.) and has sat behind the drums for a bunch of Greek HC bands (including a band we play in together called My Turn). Markos is a sXe dude but he'll review all styles of HC music, from negative heavy hardcore to melodic posicore.

Welcome to TxYxS, Markos!

p.s. You can check The Underdog Webzine here:

Friday, January 6, 2012

Thrash Friday: Toxic Holocaust - Metal Attack

Thrash Fridays are all about pure thrash mayhem and using the music as ammo to cause some serious mischief. Toxic Holocaust and this particular record represents A LOT of what I like about the thrash genre; I love the music, I love the black and white gory artwork, I love the start/stop patterns, I love the all out thrash havoc that this band stands for!

For many years I went through a phase that thrash metal was either not heavy enough as a metal form, or too metal for punk. But as of recently, I've realigned myself to the undisputed reality of thrash. I've seen the truth and I totally enjoy thrashing out and understanding the thrash way of life! Hope you play this LOUD.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Old School Classics: Agoraphobic nosebleed - "Enemy Soil" Split

I feel as if grindcore as a genre got greatly compromised during the course of the 00s. OK for sure the genre successively reached heavier and more extreme levels, but on the other hand the 'core' part disappeared from the picture. What I mean is that most of the music that nowadays passes as grindcore is usually brutal death metal with blastbeats. I think that in the future, people will inevitably return to the original grind sound of bands like Napalm Death, Sob, Disrput etc. One of these grindcore pioneers also answers to the name of Agoraphobic Nosebleed. A band of great reputation, and for a good reason, as these guys really produced some no bullshit grind. The following video contains Agoraphobic Nosebleed's whole side from their split with Enemy Soil. They manage to get their point across in 10 songs which make up a total  running time of 03:53. This is what grindcore should be all about: delivering the goods in an extra abrupt, brutal and straightforward way. I think that Agoraphobic Nosebleed manage to do just that. LISTEN!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Old School Classics: One Life Crew - "Crime Ridden Society"

OK, so last year ended with a post about the up & coming positive straight edge hardcore band, Focused X Minds. This year will kick off at the totally opposite side, with One Life Crew's truly mean stra-hate edge (negative straight edge) hardcore. This is some shit taken from back in the day (1996 to be exact).

OLC has gotten a definite negative rep throughout the years, mainly for being tough guys and/or for being racist. I will not discuss this matter here, as this band has broken up and I don't know what's up with them or their personal agendas. What I do know is that they did have some pretty provocative lyrics for sure, but they had also repeatedly stated that they were not a racist band. We could say that One Life Crew was not a politically correct (PC) band and just leave it at that. No matter the case, OLC mananged to stay at the forefront of HC kids' agenda more than 10 years after they broke up, and is still a band that is widely talked about.

We gotta face the fact that the people in some of the better bands in hardcore have always been unusual individuals with a lack for better judgement. In many cases, awesome hardcore has come these kind of people, who are not your everyday PC dudes. We can be sorry for who these people are, but it doesn't undermine the importance of the music they put out. Extreme minds make extreme music and that's the whole case sometimes. At the end of the day, antisocial, provocative, negative behavior and extreme viewpoints are and have always been part of hardcore music. For better of for worse, it's what makes it hardcore. And if you don't like it, maybe you shouldn't be listening to this type of music in the first place.
The video below contains OLC's whole Crime Ridden Society recording (released in 1996), which is a piece of hardcore history you wouldn't want to miss. It is stompy, angry, heavy old school hardcore that countless bands have tried to imitate since (more often than not without the same intensity factor). Crime Ridden Society hits hard and explains a lot about the route hardcore took in the years to come, up to this day.