Thursday, January 28, 2016

Earthbound - Dead Weight EP

Hardcore's conventions have always been fairly narrow. The shouted lyrics over the same power chords with all-in choruses by either burly tough guys, pseudo-tough guys or vegans who expect everyone to follow their way of thinking.

Polish hardcore band Earthbound want to challenge these conventions and "cross the borders between metal and hardcore". The obvious danger taking this approach is that a band with this idea can run with it and wind up sounding like a lot of the hardcore bands did in the late 80's when many of them took a more metal approach or a band that calls themselves hardcore can end up metalcore but sounding like Anselmo period Pantera. Poland's Eathbound have avoided these traps by adding death and black metal to the mixture.

The first song appropriately entitled "Intro" gives no clues other than metallic riffing as to what is about to hit the listener largely due to the track being an instrumental that clocks in at just under 80 seconds. "Nothing is Foverever" is angry hardcore with throaty vocals and all-in gang vocals backed with steady riffing and drumming. Earthbound take an interesting turn in Cursed with vocals taken from the Obituary school of death metal vocalists, speedy drumming and occasionally borrowing the bumble bees from hell black metal guitar riffs. The death metal style vocals are a feature on "Imprisoned" which is paired with buzzsaw guitar. The breakdown mid-song will keep the smile on the dial of modern and more taditional hardcore fan

The crossover direction is always an interesting one. Earthbound have definitely found a good formula of crossing death metal, black metal and hardcore. It's a blend that on paper doesn't really sound like it would work at all but on this "Dead Weight" EP, the marriage between the styles is certainly not dead weight. Whether this can be carried all the way through an album remains to be seen but in the EP format, it gets two thumbs up.


Check out Earthbound's "Dead Weight" EP on bandcamp

Earthbound on Facebook

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Agata - Horror Stories

I'll admit that I judged by the pictures and expected Agata to be a B-grade Misfits or goth tinged pop-punk. On their second album, "Horror Stories", Agata serve up a dish of tight 80's style skater thrash. The opening track is melodic hardcore of the early 7 Seconds variant. The title track exists in a world where nomeansno cover the Descendents and vice versa. The song channels both these bands with great punk rythms and slightly shouted vocals. If you like any of the bands mentioned in this review, you should go straight to Agata's bandcamp and check this album by this Oakland trio out.


Agata on facebook

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Police State - Mind Collapse

Pennsylvanian band Police State's mission statement is to shit on American politics. Instead of using billions of dollars and an odd hairpiece Police State are using a combination of crust, grind, powerviolence and d-beat to get their mission accomplished.

The listener is gently lulled in with the opening "intro" before getting beaten with the less than a minute d-beat blasts of "Consumed" and "Oath". "Pure Filth" is double the length of these two tracks and has a crustier texture. "Cease To Exist is triple the length and grinds the ear with a metallic lean.

While the anger is ever-present throughout the twenty minutes of "Mind Collapse", there's not a lot to draw a listener back.


Listen to Mind Collapse on bandcamp here.

Police State on facebook

Monday, January 25, 2016

Widower - The Unholy Oath EP

In their press release Texan band Widower are described as a blackened thrash quartet. Taking a look at the legible band logo and the album's cover, thrash metal rather than its corpse-painted counterpart is the major expectation.

Truth is the first few songs beat with a pure black metal heart with only a hint of a crossover into thrash metal territory. The question of style or sub-genre often matters very little if the songs are up to standard and Widower's songs have the punchy drums and the guitar sound from hell accompanied with evil goblin vocals that cause most black metal fans to wipe off more than just their make-up. Elements of thrash kick in on the intro to "Unholy Force" but it quickly gallops away into a darker locality where one has to be aware of getting pricked by the sharp riffing. The blackened thrash description makes sense when "The Council" kicks into session. This is a successful marriage between the two sub-genres of metal. The sharp thrashing riffs recalls the heyday of "The Big Four" although this tune by Widower is closer to the Scandinavian metal that was coming out during that period. "Whore Crusher" thrashes along in "Kill 'Em All" mode without betraying Widower's black metal roots.

This 5 song EP is an unholy noise that will excite most black metal fans although those strictly looking for pure(?) blackened thrash may be slightly disappointed but they'll still find some treasure in "The Unholy Oath". It will be interesting to keep an eye on this Widower.


Widower on facebook

Widower on bandcamp

Sunday, January 24, 2016

HAG - Fear of Man

Sometimes you get a knockout punch first blow from a band with their first track and the dirty noise wasn't delivered in the title track which opens this album by Londoners HAG. The song has a heavy Pink Floyd influence running through it although there is a grungier feel. Think Soundgarden's "Down On The Upside" album. The second song is an unbathed version of Rage Against the Machine with a heavy Cows noise-rock dirtying proceedings even further. There's a dirty grunge metal heart beating through "Rainbow Dust", Once again think Soundgarden but go back to their earlier work. "Trauma Yauma" is damned heavy and kicks close to High on Fire's unashamed metal. The slightly rapped parts betray the metal leanings of the tune. There's a definite heavy stoner-metal heart to "White Lion" which rips and aims and shoots straight for the throat. This is easily the stand-out track of the album.

The riffing throughout "Fear of Man" assault the senses with the dirty sludge that will make many a metal fan as happy as a pig caked in mud.


Check out Hag's "Fear of Man" on bandcamp

HAG on facebook

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Desert Suns - Desert Suns

There aren't any prices for guessing which style of music San Diego band Desert Suns play. Their bandcamp page states, "In that space where psychedelia, blues-rock, doom and sludge coalesce, it’s there you’re likely to find Desert Suns." This is heavily 70's tinged desert rock,

The band provide knockout blows early in the album with the psychedelic hard rock of "Burning Temples" and the hard-out jamming groove of "Space Pussy" with its wailing guitar. There's a definite Sabbath influence in "Passing Through". The vocals sound close to Ozzy but Desert Suns have the talent to manage not to sound like yet another Sabbath clone. "Ten Feet Down" is a serious change of pace with a huge dose of Southern blues. The opening vocals on "Memories of Home" remind this listener of "The Real Thing" period Mike Patton although there's also Ozzy simultaneously shining through.

This is a great debut and it's easy to see why the two labels wanted to re-release this. I hope Desert Suns stick around for some time.

This album was originally released on a limited 300 run of vinyl but has been re-released in Nort America on vinyl and CD by Ripple Music and HeviSike music.


Desert Suns on facebook

Check out the whole album on Desert Suns bandcamp page.