Friday, May 25, 2012

Review: Gatherer: "Postcards" EP (2012, self-released)

Genre: Post Hardcore
Location: NJ, USA
Band Website: Bandcamp 
Label: - (self-released)

I just want to throw it on the table, that I am not such a big fan of post hardcore. However, when records are THAT GOOD, I can't help but get in line and accept the fact that some post HC bands out there are really doing something great, and something new.

Gatherer belongs in this category of bands who are pushing the agenda and are making music that is truly great. This EP of theirs contains 4 songs, each one of them displaying its own personality and conveying a unique set of feelings. The overall atmosphere Gatherer creates is one of desolation, loneliness, even despair. But they manage to escape the melodramatic, sad bastard category that so many other bands inevitably fall into. And this is because Gatherer gives off an air of intelligence, intricacy and progression. All the songs are short, beautiful and straight to the point, in and out before you know it and leave you wanting more.

The production sound throughout this EP is very nice and clear, with mildly distorted guitars doing their discordant thing, while the bass fills all the gaps with a warm and rounded sound. Indeed, this is how to do stuff. By paying meticulous attention to their sound, Gatherer succeed to present their work without being lost in translation (i.e. a bad recording or a sound that belongs to a different style). The drumming is also very well placed, changing a lot of rhythms but mainly staying on the slow to mid tempo, with clever patterns sticking to that aforementioned post HC notion. Last but not least, the vocals have a lot of personality and speak directly to you, letting all bottled up feelings out (but without trying to much to sound like the problem child on behalf of the vocalist). Just straight out HC kids doing a different thing, that's all.

Summing up, it's a rare thing these days to put a record on and get the feeling that it ended to soon. This is when you want to stop whatever you're doing at the moment and play the record again. This is what I've been doing in this case, and I am very glad about it!

Gods of Chaos - "March into Perdition" stream

Genre: Grind/Post Hardcore
Location: Zagreb, Croatia
Band Website: Bandcamp

These guys take the lead from pioneering post-grind bands like the Locust, and add their own extra level of craziness and multi-layered noise. You might need to approach records like this with a certain level of patience and an open mind, but it's all worth it; after all, I know that there are enough freaks out there who are constantly looking for the most innovative and extreme forms of HC. So here it is!

P.S. Record Label The Path Less Traveled needs a special mention here, as it has been releasing lots of mind-twisting modern analog noise (including Imbroglio, one of the nastiest and most intriguing metal/hardcore bands to hit the streets in our times). Make sure to check them out!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Review: Putrified - "Neurotic Necrotic" (2012, Full length, Hellthrasher Productions)

Genre: Old school death metal
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Band Website: Myspace

Most of the death metal that circulates these days has a clean production and tends to focus on technical proficiency and whatnot. This has nothing to do with the type of death metal that Putrified proudly churns out. What we have here is a celebration of unholy and cultish death metal, which focuses more on the deliverance of an unholy feeling rather than a display of crunchiness and speed.

Like all old school death metal, Putrified contains a certain amount of thrash. But fear not extreme metalheads, this is not the kind of lame Bay Area type thrash rehash going on. On the contrary, it is the thrash that bands like Possessed, Hellhammer or even very early Sepultura played back in the day: filled with blood, guts and other wonderfully disgusting ingredients that make simple thrash step up to seriously evil thrash. Of course these elements are melted into the unforgiving death metal pot, creating a fearful and crushing mix of pure old school death. There are enough blastbeats to satisfy you, with a perfect sound on the drums that really needs to be praised and studied. Fuck yes. The snare drum will mercilessly open a hole in your skull if you play this record loud enough. Like you'd expect from a record like this, the guitars and the bass are of course 100% distorted, with a rough but also very meaty sound.

I very much like the fact that some death metal bands still stick to the occult themes and topics. It shouldn't all be about gore and/or and social hate. We need to stay down with the occult! And this is what Putrified does. Song titles like "The Land of Pharoes" and "Temple of Vomit" may convince even the most sceptic out there. There is a good dose of humor but also a lot of nastiness and this is just what we need in death metal today. Enough with the serious posing, make death metal that is extreme and fucking necro! I shouldn't forget to mention that all these dark as fuck themes are sung with furious death metal vocals, which have a very thick, hateful and face melting approach.

Neglecting this record in the pile of "to review" during the last few months makes me regret not looking into it earlier. Boy had I been missing from the real action. From now and on, I'll make sure to review all Hellthrasher Productions records as soon as I get them!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Lose the Life (Sweden, SXE Hardcore) Live in Athens!

Tonight, if you live in Athens and are looking for some brass knuckled hardcore action, you got a place to go. Lose the Life is a Swedish band that plays hateful straight edge hardcore, in the vein of what used to be called "Clevo-core" (short, heavy & fast, based on hardcore bands from Cleveland with a trademark heavy SXE orientation). Lose the Life will be accompanied by some very good local acts ranging from grind/fastcore to modern crust/dbeat. The show is brought to you by WAK, a label/promoter that has been constantly bringing good ol' underground HC to our country for a long number of years.

This show is also co-powered by Bamboo Vegan, a shop I happen to be a part of!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Record Review: Dephosphorus/Wake Split 7" (7 Degrees Records)

Genre: Crust/Black Metal/Post-Grind
Location: Greece (Deph.) / Canada (Wake)
Band Websites: Dephosphorus, Wake

This 7" split between Depshosphorus and Wake, released by post-grind label 7 Degress Records (Keitzer, Gadget, Zodiac a.o.), is an abrupt display of excessive sonic violence. This assault lats just below 11 minutes total, and it is an equally chaotic and tight grind punch to the gut. Simply put, this music is mayhem put on wax.

To take first things first, Dephosphorus blast off with their brand of psycho crust grindcore meets black metal. I swear I can't decide if this is furious blasting BM, or if it's sped-up crustcore with gind elements. In either case, this shit is good! All of the songs are around the 1:30 minute mark, providing just enough time for the chaos to be splattered before it's all over. The whole sound is tied onto a dirty, underground production with an uholy black metal tone. The crusty black vocals remind you that this is pure underground evil, but they don't forget to include some HC spoken parts! This is what we need, people. As a cherry on the cake, there is some intelligent riffing too, adding a nice touch of modernistic post grind notion. It is really a nice example of the oldschool meets the new!

Canada's Wake have a wholly different sound and approach. Their three songs are closer to modern Euro grindcore, but with an emphasis on the "grind" part of the definition. They interfere a lot with the change of tempos, splitting things evenly between the slow & groovy, the pure grind blast and of course the beloved crusty d beat! These guys go even further with the intelligent parts, to the point that they could even be considered tech-grind. They have a nice bass-heavy production and an overall sick sound which makes you imagine cold, dark hospital rooms filled with zombies. The vocals on this side of the split are more loyal to the grind tradition but also have a guttutal HC style that is better than the gore/brutal death vocals that are more common on this type of grind splits.

Summing up, we've all heard many grind 7"s and what unfortunately happens in many cases is that the two sides begin and end with the sole emphasis on ferocity without sunstance, that leaves you with nothing much. This, however, is NOT the case with this split. Both bands have paid a lot of attention to their sound and have worked a lot on the tracks, and have maintained that very much needed level of grind catchiness. Fair enough, grindcore is an extreme form of music, but that doesn't mean it should be incomprehensible! So if you want to learn how it's done, check out this 7"!!!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Alter Era - "In Autumn's Solitary Decline" (Mater Tenebrarum Records)

Genre: Primal/Ambient Black Metal
Location: Slovenia
Band Website: -
Label Website: Mater Tenebrarum

Alter Era is one of those mysterious black metal bands that have the reviewer at a loss for words when trying to talk about their work, because what they do is not only music, but more of a cult, a spiritual thing. I personally find that a few elite black metal bands (including Alter Era) do escape the narrow confines of sociable "heavy music" and cross over to another world, where evoking deep spiritual trances of the darkest hateful feelings becomes the norm.

Throughout In Autumn's Solitary Decline, Alter Era comes at you straight and directly with refined old school black metal that actually gives more of a cold rather than an overtly extreme feeling. The album contains 6 lengthty hymns that are totally true to a very mysterious and - may I say - paganistic nature. Most songs average around the 6,5 minute mark and this provides enough ground for the band to develop their sound, and also envelop the listener in an effort to follow and identify with the totalitarian atmosphere that Alter Era give off in the most unashamed manner.

If you sit down and analyse the specifics of the album, everything suggests that this is black metal and nothing else: violent guitars forge steel in a dark mine of BM dissonance, with catchy but true BM vocals and a blurry exchange of drum tempos (the loud snare is drum loaded with reverb and sounds like the doors of hell). Then again, if you pay closer attention, you certainly realize that this band gives off a very dark and chilling avant garde aesthetic. It's like the soundtrack to an endless fall, to an inevitable trip down a well that leads to nowhere else but Hades. Therefore, what you get is the whole satisfaction of black metal violence combined with a frosty nocturnal feeling that can haunt your mind and accompany your darkest thoughts during those late night hours.

All in all, this is a unique and pretty album which blends black metal with subtle new age elements. Of course, Alter Era have nothing to do with the popular post-black metal movement of our times. And that, is a glorious victory in itself: to manage to bring together different paths and craft a unique black metal sound without copying the popular (and shitty) BM trends of today.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Siberian Meat Grinder - "Hail To The Tsar"

Fuck yeah! Siberian Meat Grinder is a Russian band that plays awesome skate thrash crossover that can melt brains like it ain't no thing! These guys manage to combine ultimate catchiness, maniac energy and everyhting you might need in order to go out and cause some serous havoc. Remember, the mosh factor is high so you better beware!!!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Interview with Terror's Scott Vogel!!!

Terror and Death Before Dishonor came to Greece for one show at the 21st of April and we just couldn’t miss it. And above that we grabbed the chance and get to ask some questions to Bryan Harris (Vocals for Death Before Dishonor) and to Scott Vagel (Vocals for Terror) Let’s check what they said about their bands, hardcore music, the music industry and more… Once again, we'd like to thank the following parties: Nick for doing the interview, Scott Vogel & Terror, Bridge 9 Records, and the Greek show promoters: Playfalse Records and Hard Times Athens.

Interview with Scott Vogel

T.Y.S.: You are about to release, with Bridge 9, a CD/DVD that contains rare video material and live footage from a concert of Terror back on 2003. How did you come up with this idea?
S.V.: The background story of that is that, Ian from Blood For Blood, about 10 years ago when we were just starting as a band was making some videos and stuff and one weekend he came by and recorded to live shows that we gave. One of those is the one on the DVD. We actually never thought of this live-footage but when Bridge 9 presented the idea, it sounded cool, the footage was ok, the sound was ok so we we were really ok with that. And you know, probably there are people that have dropped out of hardcore and only know this era of Terror and there are people that are knew to hardcore and don’t know anything of that period so I think its something good for everybody.

T.Y.S.: What do you think, has changed for Terror, since that that period?
S.V.: You know, it’s a different line-up, it’s 10 years ago, we have put out 10 albums since then, everything is completely different. Back then, we would play one show every couple of weeks and was the most exciting thing in the world and now we play one show every day, we give interviews. I don’t want to say that things are worse or better, it’s just completely different.

T.Y.S.: How does it feel when you look back at these days of Terror?
S.V.: This is like a documentation of the first 6 months of Terror. We didn’t even have a record at this time. The band went on for 10 more years, to do whatever it did, so it’s crazy I would say to look back at these days.

T.Y.S.: Which is the greatest thing that you have achieved with Terror till today?
S.V.: Just, the Keepers Of The Faith album. Everything about it. The music, the recordings, the layout, the concept. There was a lot of work in it and I am really proud of that album.

T.Y.S.: What are Terror’s plans for the future?
S.V.: After completing this tour we will start recording and we should be done by early June. So the new album is going to be out just after the summer.

T.Y.S.: The hardcore scene is growing bigger every day. Do you think that this happening the wrong or the right way?
S.V.: I think that there are a lot of problems. A lot of people take the word hardcore on their band and they don’t even know what it is, they don’t care. But I also do think that there is still a real traditional hardcore scene at every part of the world an that it always going to remain that way and that’s cool. Now there are so many bands and it is so easy for them to tour around and that sometimes “hurts”. When I was growing up there will be like one show every three weeks and there was probably only 300 hardcore kids where I lived but all 300 went to these shows no matter what. It just seemed to be better then. Now, there are so many shows and I mean some shows really suck. There are shows with nearly 20 kids. And also there are a lot of bunds that suck, and a lot of shows with bands that shouldn’t be touring at all. I mean, I am all good for go out and start working, but I think that if you are not ready to tour then you shouldn’t do it. And then you know, there is this big “music thing” that some bands before they even have a record, they have a fucking manager. You shouldn’t have a manager or have someone booking you a tour until you prove that you can do it yourself. I mean, no booking agency or manager should care about a band until this band proves that it is gonna stick around and do it on its own.

T.Y.S.: Do you think that we can blame the music industry and the record labels for that?
S.V.: Yes, of course. I think that labels take for example 10 bands that they think they might be good and throw them all at the wall. They do everything for the one sticks and starts to pick up some following and the other nine just sink and the record label has these other nine bands under their little contract and just lets them fail. Its just disgusting.

T.Y.S.: What is your opinion about illegal downloading and the how do you think that it affects the bands? Would Terror upload their new album for free on the internet?
S.V.: I don’t really know the reality o this, but Terror has asked Century Media to let us off their label and we really want to put out our next record out ourselves. So, I mean do the vinyl ourselves, the CD ourselves, record it ourselves. As for the free download, I don’t know if we are gonna put it our for free but maybe we put it up really cheap and say “hey, we did this ourselves, we play hundreds shows every year, if you want to help us out and have some sort of moral support for a hardcore band pay 5 dollars”. That’s our ultimate goal. We had a meeting with Century Media, asking them to let us off their label but they haven’t answered to us yet. So we are just waiting. Also, about the downloading thing, people might say it sucks and stuff but in the end there is no debate about it, it's happening. There is no way to stop it, it’s too late, so you have to see the good with it. I think, bands like us, we can now go to Indonesia and have kids sing our lyrics and I think that’s because they can download our records because I don’t think that our CD’s have a great districution there, maybe they don’t even have the money to buy our CD’s. So I think bands like us are lucky now to be able to travel to these places and that’s because of the downloading thing. On the other hand, when Terror was on Trustkill we used to get royalty checks for record sales and now we don’t get shit. So, you got to say “this is what happens", and make the best out of it.

T.Y.S.: Is there something you want to say about the bands you are touring with at the moment?
S.V.: Death Before Dishonor is one of my favorite bands to tour with. I think if you take everybody on this tour, Terror, Db4D, Take Offense everyone is very similar. Everyone is very different too (age range, were we‘ve grown up, were we come for), but everyone on this tour is so similar. Absolutely no egos, or any problem at all. It’s just like hardcore kids hanging out.

T.Y.S.: Would you like to name some band, that without their existence, Terror might have not been here playing hardcore music?
S.V.: Sure! Warzone, Agnostic Front, No Warning, Judge, Suicidal, Madball, N.W.A. I think that’s enough.

T.Y.S.: You‘ve played to Greece many times already so I guess you‘ll have something to say about the Greek audience. Is there something in particular that you remember from your past shows here?
S.V.: I remember when we played here with Madball, Jordan was stage-diving and acting like a fucking maniac and that was really cool cause you don’t see him like that very often. I also remember when we played here with Hatebreed, and that was a really cool show!

T.Y.S.: So, it seems that you like it playing here?
S.V.: Yes, of course, we wouldn’t come back if we didn’t like it.

T.Y.S.: Is there a message you want to send to the hardcore kids?
S.V.: Hmmm, first of all I think that they have to seriously check out Take Offense. I really think that they are one of the best new bands that I have seen in a while. Also, listen to more Hatebreed and have fun!

T.Y.S.: Is there maybe something else you want to say to your Greek fans and to the readers of T.Y.S?
S.V.: I am sure a lot of bands say that but Terror really mean it: “We don’t really feel like we come to Greece and we are cool and special. We are just hardcore kids and we are very humbled to be here. So, please keep coming back to the shows and show us love and we will come back for us long as we can.

Interview: Nikos Tolis

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

M.O.R.A. - S/T (full length, self-released)

Genre: Thraschore/Crust/NYHC
Location: Helsinki, Finland
Band Websites: Sterokiller, Bandcamp
Label: -

Finland's M.O.R.A. deliver the fucking fear with the 9 songs of their incendiary debut album which lasts a grinding 16 minutes! There is a lot of interesting stuff about this band, and I will lay it down here for ya: judging from the cover artwork and layout, you'd be expecting something along the lines of Finnish hardcore (namely barbaric crust). But to great surprise, what you get instead is some no-compromise metallic hardcore with dual female vox, sounding like a mix between thunderous thrash and pitbull-style, old school NYHC.

What M.O.R.A busts out is a tight blend of some rarely mixed styles, like having the Cro-Mags team up with Hoods in a fight against Totalitar and Skitsystem. Metal riffs of all types come and go and give way to the more punk stuff, while the exchange of fast and groovy parts keeps the edge tight throughout the whole recording. The two female vocalists have each locked down their vocal style and manage to create a no-BS blend of two totally punishing vocal deliveries. Their approaches are kinda similar since they both have a hoarse screech that will haunt your thoughts, but a description could be as such: one vocalist sounds more adolescent and punky, while the other has a characteristically evil and mean growl.

Since I don't know a word in Finnish, I can't really explain anything about the lyrical themes M.O.R.A sings about, but I wouldn't expect that they sing about no happy stuff. I'd guess something along the lines of modern socio-political punk? Hate against society and normality? Something like that. Last but not least, this Finnish hardcore powerhouse packs an awesome and very tight production that puts many professional recordings to shame. The guitars are nice and heavy, but I want to point out how good the rhythm section is; it showcases a gurgling bass, and drums that have a sharp and metallic but also organic feel.

To sum it up, this band is not a bunch of crusty punx just doing the dbeat  rehash; they have their sights set forward, they know their influences, and have created something new and modern out of the basic elements of the music we adore. Thus, they are oldschool and progressive at the same time. We need more bands like this!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Inepsy - Nuclear Destruction Punx

A few months ago while waiting to play a show at a squat, I saw a faded Inepsy poster on the wall. The artwork was pretty mean, with crusty zombies causing havoc in a destroyed city, so this was a no-brainer: I had to know more about this band. I take pride in researching as much as I can about hardcore/punk/thrash you name it, but Inepsy was one of those legendary names that I had never actually taken the chance to sit down and listen to. My bad.

For me, Inepsy's sound encapsulates the real spirit of punk, with a sound that is not bound in a specific style and even though it has a trademark identity, it can appeal to different tribes of the extreme world. Inepsy's metal punk death squad style is something that does bring us back to 80s basements and punks going wild with huge-ass skateboards, but it also goes nicely along with modern day d-beat as well as the more punky side of thrash metal (i.e. Toxic Holocaust). Their songs are usually rather long (for HC/punk standards at least) but pack tons of energy, psychedelic dirt, bad-ass attitude, and of course tons of Motorhead crust-rock'n'roll,. All this reeks of that rare post-apocalyptic, primitivist, anti-civilization feel that many of us adore!

Inpesy have been working hard at rewriting some lesser known chapters of hardcore's history and they get our total respect for that! This Canadian motorcrust powerhouse may have broken up in 2011, but their legacy will live on.