Monday, 26 June 2017

TRACK PREMIERE: Sludgecore trio EARTHGRAVE debut a new sermon "Altars of Desolation"

Sludgecore trio EARTHGRAVE summon a crawling miasma of growling guitars, hoarse screams and driving drums on their debut album 'The Verge Of Human Abyss' fit to make Eyehategod proud.

The band move between grooving mid-tempo doom-tinged sludge into chugging hardcore breakdown territory with ease and competence, with the occasional punk outburst and d-beat bringing the tempo back up, almost in places touching on old school death metal akin to “Realm Of Chaos” era Bolt Thrower.

Art on this release mirrors the lyrics and vocals; bleak, monochrome imagery collaged together with ragged edges hinting at themes of suffering and the worst elements of human nature.

'The Verge Of Human Abyss' drops on the 7th of July via WOOAAARGH on CD/MC and digital download. The limited Cassette Edition is a co-release with Black Omega Recordings.  Today ahead of the album’s official release we’re debuting two blistering  tracks which you can check out below.  So if you’re fans of Seven Sisters of Sleep, Crowbar, Integrity, Eyehategod and Bongzilla then this is a band not to be missed.  You can order the record here

Band info: facebook || bandcamp

Sunday, 25 June 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Bison - “You Are Not The Ocean, You Are the Patient”

By: Mark Tremblay

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 07/07/2017
Label: Pelagic Records

“You Are Not The Ocean, You Are the Patient” is an amalgamation of everything that Bison does well. If you love anything in the realm of sludge or stoner metal, this is a must for you.

“You Are Not The Ocean, You Are the Patient” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Until The Earth Is Empty
2. Anti War
3. Drunkard
4. Kenopsia
5. Tantrum
6. Raiigin
7. Water Becomes Fire

The Review:

Bison return with their first offering since the “1000 Needles” EP. It is an album of seven well-crafted, riff-heavy tracks that borrows a little bit from each era of the band.

The album starts with “Until the Earth is Empty“and “Anti-War”; both very punk tracks reminiscent of the “Quiet Earth” days of the band. Immediately, the listener is hit with the fastest paced Bison music that has not been heard in years. Matt Wood’s vocals on “Anti-War” are a welcomed contrast to this song. The band reminds the listener that their youthful spirit from their earlier records is still there.

The album then moves to “Drunkard”, “Kenospsia”, and “Tantrum” which are in line with the “Dark Ages” and “Lovelessness” era of the band. The slower/more brooding tones mix well with signature guitar grooves, thick bass tones, and pummelling drum fills that transition the record smoothly. Where the album really kicks off is in the closing final tracks; “Raiigin” and “Water Becomes Fire”. These songs contain some of the nastiest riffs every written by the band. “Raiigin, in particular, has a riff at the end that is heaviest thing they’ve ever written.

“You Are Not The Ocean, You Are the Patient” is an amalgamation of everything that Bison does well. If you love anything in the realm of sludge or stoner metal, this is a must for you.

“You Are Not The Ocean, You Are the Patient” is available to preorder/buy here

Band info: facebook

FFO: Mastodon, High On Fire, Baroness, Black Tusk

INTERVIEW: Belfast's soul crushing sludge doom trio Nomadic Rituals discuss "Marking the Day"

Nomadic Rituals is a three piece band from Belfast, Northern Ireland. “Marking the Day” the band’s second full length was our introduction to them and like many of the band submissions we receive they can often go overlooked by the sheer quantity and lack of time to check them, however I am glad we did not allow this band to pass us by, because fans of slow punishing doom couldn’t fail to be impressed by this three piece. The new record "Marking the Day," released on February 17th, 2017 is for people who are into the dirtiest and raunchiest purveyors of sludgy, death-doom. Fans of Noothgrush, Indian, Serpentine Path, and Morbid Evils should definitely check them out immediately.

The overall tone of the recording is massive and thunderous. The vocals range from being predominantly harsh and scornful to clean and ethereal in a couple of small doses. Indeed this is the heaviest thing we’ve heard in a while. Hopeless, ugly, vicious, and pissed off slabs of soul destroying death-doom is what Nomadic Rituals deliver and today I pleased to welcome Craig Carson, front man for this soul crushing trio to talk us through the history of the band, their influences and the recording of their latest record.  Check it out below. 

Can you give us an insight into how you started playing music, leading up to the formation of Nomadic Rituals?

I guess it began in secondary school. I was discovering music and that eventually made me attempt to learn the guitar. I soon wanted to really play the bass as I enjoyed the heavy rhythm and grounding that the instrument provided. Years later, a friend who studied music in the same college invited me to play bass in his prog rock band. The learning curve was steep and I was essentially the least qualified, however it did not last past college and over later years my interest in playing music fluctuated. Then throughout my later teens/20’s I attempted to construct my own bands to reflect my current musical tastes but none of these ever left the practice room.  Again my music taste kept widening more until I encountered bands like Iron Monkey, Rabies Caste, and EyeHateGod. This really satisfied my need for heavy music. This was the direction I wanted my next band to go in. Again I spent time searching for the right people before I eventually found two who seemed to get it. Through different friends I met Frodo and Mark. Frodo says that I had forced him to play guitar, but I don’t recall this level of coercion. Mark on the other hand turned out to be a drummer without a band. From my experience this was unheard of as most drummers seemed to have multiple bands and absolutely no time. He thankfully needed little persuasion. After much discussion we hit the practice room, began on some ideas and things just started to come together.

For folks unfamiliar with your band, is there any bands on the scene past and present that you would use as a reference point bands to describe your band, and who or what continues to inspire you and push you to try new things?

If I had to name a few that really began as a starting point for the band, I would probably pick Conan for the sheer weight and Yob for unbelievable songs that convey great emotion. From a live perspective I wanted it to feel like Sunn O))), a challenge for sure. As for a maybe more realistic reference, someone once said we were like Winter. I’d say we possibly have similarities to bands like IRN, Ramesses or maybe even Warhorse.

As for my current interests, bands like Usnea, Buried at Sea, Fange, Love Sex Machine, and Herscher all come to mind. We all can agree on bands like Amebix, Hawkwind, High on Fire and Mastodon as being somewhat inspiring to us. Even Genesis’Foxtrot” had some subtle form of influence on the most recent album if you’d believe it.

What can you tell us about “Marking the Day” and where do you feel it sits within the context of current metal scene

‘Marking the Day’ in its simplest form follows a timeline through our universe. Each part narrates from a different perspective. As a whole, it is a journey through time and space, yet it is ultimately a loose reflection of our own reality.  I suppose it will sit over on the Doom/ Sludge side of things. Possibly for people who like heavy, sprawling albums and a bit of narrative.

Does anything spring to mind when you think about the completion of your upcoming record?

The mood I’d say is one of relief and elation at seeing this album come to fruition. Nothing makes me happier than having something solid to show for it and people willing to listen to it. I also perhaps think we are just glad that it went a lot smoother this time round.

What stands out as your overarching memory from the recording sessions?

Honestly I’d say the whole thing. We again recorded with Niall Doran at Start Together in Belfast, and we all just really look forward to taking the time out to enter the studio, it’s all fun. Niall is great to work with. He brings good ideas and seems to understand what we want to achieve.

Finally, do you have any final comments/word of wisdom you’d like to bestow upon us?

As a final note, I would like to comment on what I personally see as the underside of ‘Marking the Day’. Ultimately, it is a message of warning to anyone in the present as to what may lie ahead in the future if we blindly proceed in certain actions today. In terms of this album, humanity as we know it is currently playing out the fifth track, only minutes away from entering the sixth and final track. My own view is one of discontent at a planet ruled by a short term, profit orientated mentality. We seem blindsided to other possibilities. In the context of this album I like to think that ‘Marking the Day’ does not dictate a specific world, but rather presents one to enter and reflect upon.

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

ALBUM REVIEW: Vallenfyre - "Fear Those Who Fear Him"

By: Andre Almaraz

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 02/06/2017
Label: Century Media Records

All in all it’s another good album that sees the band dishing out shorter and faster songs than we’re used to getting from them, while not losing the razor sharp edge of that classic Vallenfyre musical mastery and might.

“Fear Those Who Fear Him” CD//DD//LP track listing:

01. Born To Decay
02. Messiah
03. Degeneration
04. An Apathetic Grave
05. Nihilist
06. Amongst The Filth
07. The Merciless Tide
08. Dead World Breathes
09. Soldier Of Christ
10. Cursed From The Womb
11. Kill All Your Masters
12. Temple Of Rats

The Review:

Vallenfyre is a band that should need no introduction. The group has been kicking all kinds of ass since their 2011 debut and continue to release quality albums approximately every three years, up to and including this year’s new release, “Fear Those Who Fear Him,” which just dropped on June 2, 2017. 

This third full length instalment consists of twelve songs, half of which are under three minutes in length, which is somewhat of a departure from their usual repertoire. The album opens with slow-burner, “Born To Decay,” which gradually warms up and lasts for only about a minute before all cylinders are firing and “Messiah” rips in full force with a classic grindcore blast of spinning buzzsaws that make you feel like you’re trapped in the middle of a drug induced late night knife fight. Then “Degeneration” comes in like a lion and pounds your meat into a tenderized patty with repeated blows of led boots to the head. These first three songs blend together for me, even after repeated listens, seeming as if the three parts make up one mass movement amounting to a seven minute long frenzy. This is most likely due partially to very brief gaps between songs with the best possible outcome. I actually found myself going back several times to figure out exactly where one song ended and the other began. I don’t know if this was the intended effect the band was looking to portray when they laid out the songs of the album but I thought it was a pretty cool experience which left me a bit bewildered in a good way.

When “An Apathetic Grave” kicks in as song number four, this is when the album noticeably shifts gears for the first time and gets down to that sweet and sour Swedeath molasses that Vallenfyre is always able to lay down so masterfully. This one song is just about as long as the flurry of the first three combined. It puts the album right where it needs to be and not a moment too soon as it leaves you with an uneasy feeling in your stomach and radiation poisoning in your mind. Shortly thereafter, “Nihilist” chimes in for a two minute blast like Napalm Death high on a fistful of Swedish crack. “Amongst The Filth” is a dastardly mid-paced head bobber that gallops and grooves over trampled, broken bodies, and gives us a few minutes to reflect on the previous hail storm before the madness returns with the dying world anthem, “Kill All Your Masters.” 

The Merciless Tide” comes in with more grimoire and groove-laden layers of lightning bolt guitars and “Dead World Breathes” unapologetically jams your face into the bench grinder with no mercy shown. Drums and bass crack the whip and sink your ship as they shove you down further with powerful rage for the most punishing forty seconds of your life. “Soldier Of Christ” has some really interesting shuffled grooves with galloping hooves. The new drummer really shines with an abundance of creative beats and fills on this one. 

Cursed From The Womb” brings us back to that menacing Swedoom and gloom for what is only the second instalment of slowness on the album. This is the longest song; the epic proportionately speaking, the lyrics of which are where the album title comes from. This is one cruel slab of menacing death doom with an abrupt ending that leaves you empty and questioning your own shallow existence. Album closer, “Temple Of Rats” just feels like the perfect album closer. It’s a belligerent blast of eloquently expressed brutality. It feels like the band put down some serious thought when it came to laying out the order of the songs.

Vallenfyre are masters of combining elements of death, doom, crust, grind, sludge, and all other things we hold dear. They put it all in a blender and then regurgitate the slurry into a delightful elixir that many metal heads regard as divine ambrosia. I would say that in general, this album comes off as being faster and punchier than previous efforts, and that the overall tone of the mix is a bit more on the thin crust side with considerably less bottom end than the previous two full lengths. All in all it’s another good album that sees the band dishing out shorter and faster songs than we’re used to getting from them, while not losing the razor sharp edge of that classic Vallenfyre musical mastery and might.

“Fear Those Who Fear Him” is available now

Band info: facebook

FFO: Entombed, Bloodbath, Bolt Thrower, Paradise Lost

Saturday, 24 June 2017

LABEL INTENSIVE: Christine Kelly of Tridroid Records Lists her Top 10 Labels to Watch in 2017

Tridroid Records is an independent metal label launched in July, 2012 by original owner Andrew Rehberger and was one of the earlier labels responsible for the metal tape resurgence in the US. In 2016, after 4 years and around 80 releases to their name, the label would change hands and who better to take over than self confessed Tridroid fan Christine Kelly.   Having been involved in underground metal for about 15 years and with a desire to run a metal cassette label for years taking over at Tridroid Records seemed like hand of fate had dealt a winning hand.

Tragically Andrew would suddenly and tragically pass away, so what better endorsement to his memory than to continue what he created, indeed under Christine’s tenure the label is going from strength to strength.  So with recent releases from  Heavy Temple, Un and the forthcoming album from our own Daniel Jackson via project Void Ritual,  we have invited Christine to talk about 10 labels she digs and one’s you should to watch out for in 2017 and beyond. 

Before the days of Bandcamp, I mostly just looked for label owners who shared my taste and bought up anything they put out.  It's easier to pick and choose these days, but I still value finding labels that I can blind-buy from and trust that the release will look and sound amazing. Here's a few that I'm keeping my eye on this coming year: (click on the labels name for web links)

Graven Earth came from nowhere in 2016 and put out 100% quality releases straight outta the gate. Sarcoptes, Possessor, and the cassette version of Khemmis – “Hunted” are just 3 of the things that caught my eye.  I can't wait to see what comes from this label in the New Year, because if I don't know the material, I know I should.

Full disclosure: Label owner Joe Beres does a lot of design work for Tridroid, but that's because I saw his work while I was in Minneapolis and liked his clean style and taste so much that I pulled him into my camp. Small Doses releases material more on the drone/industrial/noise side of the spectrum but also represents the diversity of those genres, with everything from Locrian to Bastard Noise to Whitehorse released under his aegis. You can be sure that anything coming out of Small Doses looks amazing, too, because Joe's aesthetic sense and knowledge of packaging ensure that his output is nothing short of stellar.

If you're even remotely into electro-synth music, Werkstatt is a label to seek out. I'm a relative newbie to the new wave of electro, so I value someone who can sift through the glut and present the best of the best. The excellent art and design on Werkstatt's releases is something that inspires me, especially with their high level of output.

Sylvan Screams is the only label I've made it my business to own every single release by. To me, Mitch King at Sylvan Screams represents everything good about DIY cassette culture – he's a maniac, he knows his shit, and his releases consistently introduce me to bands I need to hear. It ain't an easy gig owning a tape label, and his devotion to it was one of the reasons I got into the biz. His stuff sells out pretty quick, so make sure you follow him on Facebook if you don't already.

The level of quality cassette releases on this label is just unprecedented. In 2016 they put out some of my favorites, including I Shalt Become – “Wanderings”, Krieg – “Blue Miasma”, and Onirik – “Casket Dream Veneration”. All have great packaging without being over-the-top. As a label owner, you want to see what other people are doing, and I'm always paying attention to FS/CofN.

Medusa Crush has been on my radar for a while. Their releases definitely don't adhere to a genre, and I know I'll hear something new and different every time. Then, MC released one of my favorite albums of the year with Lightsabres – “Hibernation”. Now I'm keeping an even closer eye on 'em, because, while they're not the most prolific label on my list, there's a lot to be said for quality over quantity.

The only reason this label isn't #1 on my list is because, if you're anything like me, you already know Bindrune. I've been blind-buying from Marty for over 10 years now, and his releases are the pinnacle of musical taste and design. I hope to still be buying everything he puts out 10 years from now.

This is another one that's lower on the list because, again, you probably know Caligari. When it comes to US tape labels that brought the format back to the fore, Caligari is one of the biggies. If it's a metal release on tape, Caligari has it. Not to mention that the label name belies a love of Weimar cinema that I very much appreciate.

Grimoire Records is another label I'm always watching. Genevieve, Torrid Husk, Myopic, Barbelith, and Dendritic Arbor are just a few of the reasons why. It's also nothing short of remarkable to me that the owner does all the recording, mixing, and mastering for all of his own releases. This level of involvement is a rare thing these days, and I give huge props to his vision.

Broken Limbs can do no wrong. Wode, Our Place of Worship is Silence, Thrawsunblat, Cara Neir, Crowhurst, Sea of Bones, Immortal Bird... I'm gonna be honest, every single release is a worthy listen. And the artwork? Simply amazing. Definitely one of my biggest inspirations.

For more information on Tridroid Records check out the link below

Label Info: bandcamp || facebook

RIFF REWIND (24/06/2013): Reproacher - "Nothing To Save"

Reproacher began in late 2009 in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Formed from the remnants of dissolved local bands, Joel joined TJ and Jarret and produced two demos in 2010. Jon joined in late 2010 and the band began writing and touring more seriously. After a handful of shows in March 2011, Reproacher travelled to Salt Lake City to record a self-titled album with Andy Patterson, which was self-released. The band did two west coast tours with defunct Denver grinders Clinging To The Trees Of A Forest Fire and Death Of Self. Reproacher would later record a Tour Demo in October of 2011 with Patterson once again which was released via Dimlight Records. In the summer of 2012, Reproacher drove coast to coast in a 38-day US tour

“Nothing to Save” their second full length dropped in June 2013 and the band’s misanthropic sophomore release delivered 11 merciless tracks of metallic hardcore mixed with rumbling blasts of low-end vocal snarls. “Nothing to Save” was recorded in 4 days during January 2013 in Salt Lake City by Andy Patterson (Gaza, Call of the Void). 

Fast forward three years and split 7 later, Reproacher would return with their third full length, “Nature’s Bastard” an album where huge, awkward riffs dominate the landscape and their ugly, discordant racket is reminiscent of Converge at their nastiest.”Nature’s Bastard” is a mighty offering, a captivating combination of savage intensity and considered dynamics, but today we’re rewind the clock 4 years to the day and revisiting an album that exposed THE SLUDGELORD to this amazing band, a band you’d be a fool to miss second time around.  So if you missed it the first time, be sure to remedy you error by checking out our review of “Nothing to Save” in full below. Reproacher breeds hate and disease through sonic decimation. 

By: Richard Powley

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 11/06/2013
Label: Self Released

“Nothing to Save” is a remarkable album, marrying grind, crust, sludge and hardcore, yet never failing to provide anything other than caustic forward momentum. The inclusion of more subdued moments adds wonderfully to the emotional weight of the lyrics whilst also giving the record great replay value. Basically it rules.

“Nothing to Save” DD track listing:

1. Intro
2. Casemate
3. Sophists
4. Averse Arrest
5. Ballast
6. Marginal Being
7. Repose
8. The Champion is Fucked
9. A New Dark Age
10. Crippled Wolves
11. New Skin

The Review:

I’m going to go ahead and admit I had never heard of Cheyenne, WY’s Reproacher before receiving “Nothing to Save” to review.

I am now a massive fan of Cheyenne, WY’s Reproacher.

“Nothing to Save” contains 11 crusty, sludge fuelled hardcore tracks, overflowing with bile and rage. The fact that Reproacher wouldn’t sound out of place on a bill with Cursed, Full of Hell, Baptists et al is big praise indeed, but one the band wholeheartedly deserves with this release.

As soon as Intro’s pummelling build up is complete, Reproacher lurch intoCasemate”, complete with Colohan-esque distorted vocals, short grind bursts, dissonant breaks and a propulsive tempo, with the latter three setting the band apart from the many Cursed copyists formed in their wake. Further across the first part of the album, Reproacher fuse elements of d-beat, sludge, hardcore and Converge style tempo changes and dissonance into a disgustingly cohesive whole.   

With “Ballast”, the band has crafted a perfect centrepiece to the album. Slowing things down ever so slightly and giving more emotional weight to the bleak and desolate lyrical content, the track ends with a plaintive, mournful riff bringing the first half of the album to a suitably grim climax.

“Marginal Being”’s downtempo, doomy intro belies the tracks surge into furious hardcore, whilst “The Champion is Fucked” tells of the treachery often born of greed and ambition over a furious amalgam of grind and d-beat hardcore. “Nothing to Save” closes with “New Skin”, opening with a slow feedback laden riff that wouldn’t sound out of place coming from Manatees, before settling into a calmer passage that’s ends the record in an unexpectedly thought provoking manner.

“Nothing to Save” is a remarkable album, marrying grind, crust, sludge and hardcore, yet never failing to provide anything other than caustic forward momentum. The inclusion of more subdued moments adds wonderfully to the emotional weight of the lyrics whilst also giving the record great replay value. Basically it rules.

Band info: Bandcamp || Facebook


By: Charlie Butler

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 02/06/2017
Label: Riot Season

This is the kind of garage rock where the car is still parked inside with the engine running, warping the bands minds with fumes.   Laredo” is an awesome offering from USA/MEXICO, a perfect blend of dumb headbanging heaviness and tripped-out weirdness.

Laredo” DD//LP track listing:

1). Possum Trot
2). Laredo
3). Yard Of The Month
4). Windsor Park Hardcore
5). Dumber Rock Riff
6). L.A.
7). Bullets For Pussy

The Review:

Sometimes it’s a beautiful thing when a record is exactly the sum of its parts. USA/MEXICO’s debut LP “Laredo” delivers precisely the kind of glorious sonic muck one would expect from a trio featuring members of Todd, Shit and Shine and Butthole Surfers.

Possum Trot” sets the tone for a queasy ride into a nightmarish noise rock world, with the emphasis firmly on the noise. Punishing knuckle-dragging riffs pummel the listener into submission while unhinged robotic vocals and shrieking feedback heighten the air of unease. Imagine Part Chimp jamming with the robots from the Smash adverts and you have a good idea of the addictive insanity on offer here. The band hone this approach to perfection on “Yard Of The Month” and “Dumber Rock Riff” while the title track and “Bullets For Pussy” see the Shit and Shine influence come to the fore yielding maximum impact from relentless repetition.

USA/MEXICO deliver their own distinct brand of grindcore on the brief chaotic terror of Windsor Park Hardcore” while “L.A” offers a vague nod to more melodic territory. Thankfully it’s only a minor concession though in the form of some lead guitar that lends the track a dirty Stooges feel. This is the kind of garage rock where the car is still parked inside with the engine running, warping the bands minds with fumes.

Laredo is an awesome offering from USA/MEXICO, a perfect blend of dumb headbanging heaviness and tripped-out weirdness.

Laredo is available here

Band info: facebook