Metal Lifestyle Presents: Versus
Match #01: Organ Dealer, Nerve Grind, Invertebrate
Preorder the split here.
Welcome to the first ever (official) match-up for Metal Lifestyle’s “Versus” series. Since this is our first time doing this segment, allow me to explain: when a split release comes out, whether it be an LP or an EP, I am going to be comparing the sides. This isn’t as much of a competition as it sounds; just an analysis of each side. When we come to our conclusion,a winner will be picked. For example, allow me to look back at my first split review: If we did this series when I reviewed ‘sabella and Kaonashi’s Never Home split (review here,) it would look something like this:
Organ Dealer is a New Jersey-based grindcore act, who if you’ve followed Metal Lifestyle long enough, would know is no newcomer to the site. I reviewed their split LP with grindcore legends Birdflesh last year (read here); if we followed this format then, Organ Dealer would have won by quite a long shot. These guys pack a serious punch performing abrasive, techy, in-your-face deathgrind. They had a stellar debut LP, Visceral Infection, followed by an incredible showing on that split. Now, after a year’s break, they are back with six brand-new tracks.
I have not heard of either band prior to this release, but from what I can gather, Nerve Grind is a three-piece grind act from California who is on their fourth split and fifth project now. They bring three new tracks to the table. Finally, Invertebrate is an experimental four-piece powerviolence band who formed in 2012 and have released a number of projects since then. This will be their first release since their split with Seatless Pants back in 2016. They come striking back with nine new joints for this project. All together, we have 18 tracks in just 11 minutes in typical grindcore fashion, so: let the games begin!
Organ Dealer’s tracks on this split take up a large chunk of the run-time, being that they’re the only band of the three that writes songs over a minute long. This certainly gives them an advantage in memorability, having tracks that you can listen to in isolation. This is the punkiest Organ Dealer has ever been, stripping of the tech and math elements for an angrier approach. Even the vocals are more frequently yelled than screamed, as on their previous work, but the band is as confrontational as ever. Being they’re a grindcore band, you can still expect insane blast beats, and this thing’s six-minute timespan still leaves an impression. “Feed” is an incredible way to begin the split, letting you know what to expect right away. “Contour” is a very nice punk jam, which will certainly get you in the mood to mosh.
My biggest issue is that I feel like it isn’t long enough to flesh out what Organ Dealer want to do. I understand that this is an EP - an EP split three ways, no less - but I feel this punkier direction requires more time than this project allows to show off the band’s new tricks. As it is, the sound feels a little compromised in an effort to let the other two acts shine a bit more, so I hope their next record explore this sound to a more satisfying extent. I am, of course, more than excited to see what Organ Dealer has up their collective sleeve, because we are going to be in for a treat if they perfect this sound.
Nerve Grind’s section is three songs in under two minutes. This thing comes and goes, but not without making an impact, as these tracks are truly fucking out there, to say the least. They are textbook brutal, with not a single second wasted on any breaks, and will wind you out very quickly. This band’s vocals are absolutely gnarly, even animalistic, backed by angry, high-energy instrumentals. The only thing is I don’t really have much else to say about it. It’s fucking intense, but as soon as I was getting really into it, it ended. I now know I have been fucking up by listening to Nerve Grind sooner and will be keeping an eye out for them, because I desperately need to see what they bring to the table after this.
Invertebrate has more songs than both the other acts, but their songs are also all under a minute, leading their side at roughly four minutes. These guys perform a pretty typical style of grindcore, getting both the metal and punk influences at a pretty equal balance. We have some really good death growls on this project, and the yelling backup vocals offer just enough contrast, but I can’t deny that this third of the split kind of blends together. Invertebrate insert samples from time to time as segues, which works nicely to differentiate songs, but it doesn’t quite save their part of the split from coming off as formulaic. Organ Dealer and Nerve Grind push fairly new ideas, beside which Invertebrate’s style just feels a little predictable. There’s nothing inherently wrong with following a tried-and-true format, but nine tracks of it gets boring, even if it only adds up to four minutes of music. “Fuckface” is worthwhile, and got me pretty pumped, but the hype dies the second this side of the split ends. I think Invertebrate will need to work on their songwriting next time around and branch out a bit more if they want to be noticed.
If you are a fan of grindcore and/or powerviolence, you should definitely check out this EP. These three bands undoubtedly love their genre. I don’t think this thing will change your mind about grindcore and/or powerviolence if you aren’t a fan already, but if you are, these are three bands you should keep on your radar. This split officially comes out July 1st, and you can get it digitally or physically at the link above.
THE WINNER/VERDICT: In under two minutes, Nerve Grind completely blew me away with their sheer intensity. Organ Dealer is working on a more punky sound, and I am excited to see where they go with it. I hope Invertebrate tinker with their sound in the future, because they have some serious potential.
- Alex Brown
Sectioned - Annihilated
Listen and buy on Bandcamp
Our on-again-off-again contributor Michael Terry jokingly refers to himself as the “Scene Nostradamus” because of his (frankly spooky) ability to forecast future trends in the heavy music scene with 98% accuracy. That’s a figure I just made up, but it probably isn’t far off from the truth. Not too long ago, he dropped a fresh set of forecasts, among them a prediction that we would soon see a wave of bands playing Converge on seven-string guitars. The logic behind that prediction makes sense if you take a step back. Seven-string and extended range guitars have steadily gained popularity since Meshuggah happened and the djent scene co-opted their sound two decades later, tossing the interesting songwriting aside like a bad peel. Every up-and-coming “prog” band with the word “ocean” or “sky” shoehorned into their monikers/album titles/lyrics wields the same grinding Nothing/Catch-33 tone in a bid to be taken seriously; and with that kind of prevalence, it was only a matter of time before some angry kids with iPods full of early 00’s hardcore used the tools at their disposal for good.
I was pretty taken with the idea. Sectioned released Annihilated a few months later.
Sectioned are those kids. They’re also ¾ of Frontierer (another band doing wizardly things on seven-strings) using this outlet to indulge their hardcore appetites through the spoils of djent - a style, I think, that has reached the same saturation point that nu-metal and second-wave metalcore hit in 2001 and 2007, respectively. In the same way nu-metal faded into more a more nebulous breed of alternative metal, and metalcore splintered into dozens and dozens of contradictory niches, it seems that djent, which was a pretty nebulous thing to begin with, is being stripped for parts.
Hardcore has benefited from the advent of seven-string-plus guitars. The opportunity for stupidly low tunings and out-there noises they open up gave The Acacia Strain a boost (and led to some of their best work) on Death Is the Only Mortal; it allowed The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza to push their early Dillinger Escape Plan worship to new planes of sonic aggression, building a template Frontierer launched into space with Orange Mathematics; and now, Sectioned have arrived to wed old and new. Michael Terry cited the D-beats and squealing feedback of “Starved Lives” as proof of his prediction come to pass, and he’s right: Sectioned sound like Converge blasting away on seven-string guitars, and it’s glorious. “Starved Lives” is one in a string of highlights that stretches from that song’s passages of D-beat mayhem and short-circuiting breakdowns through the highlight melodic break of “Synchronicity” and the big, toothy maulings of “Betrayer,” “Eigengrau,” and “Victorious, Neverending,” where the listener is at the mercy of Sectioned’s bleak, bottom-end riffing and inventive rhythms.
On that point, it’s impossible not to want to compare Sectioned to Frontierer, and since they’re essentially the same band operating in a different mode, I won’t resist. If you’ve listened to Orange Mathematics, you know firsthand its unrelenting intensity, a quality which Sectioned are more than capable of channeling here. Annihilated is aggressive and over-the-top for its entire duration, but is also more markedly conventional in its approach to heavy than Frontierer. Sectioned blast and chug and skronk faster and more precisely than just about any comparable band, and to their credit, don’t lose themselves in warp-speed the way that grind bands like Pig Destroyer sometimes do, but they lack Frontierer’s all-important time changes, or their willingness to venture beyond them. Despite its disorganized aesthetic, Orange Mathematics has on iron grip on tempo changes. It careens through time-signatures like a tank busting guardrail after guardrail. Compared to it, Annihilated is a sportscar, sleek and attractive and top-of-the-line, zooming between lanes. One just leaves a more lasting impact.
Which doesn’t negate the sheer fury of the record; it’s barely a limitation and not a point to detract from the band, but simply a difference to note between the two projects. Annihilated more than follows through on what Sectioned promised with their fittingly-titled Monotonne and Outlier EPs, sanding down some of their mathier edges for a rougher, wilder, and more straightforward full-length that takes no prisoners and gives no quarter, and, has almost no competition except, ostensibly, itself. And in its longest cuts, “Portrait” and “Through the Trees,” the record transcends its ties to Frontierer to present us with two sweeping epics (of five minutes apiece; this is still a hardcore record, and two-to-three-minute runtimes remain status quo), riddled with tangents that Sectioned could pursue to more iconoclastic results later on.
LIMBS- “Father’s Son”
Stream and buy the LP here.
LIMBS is a Florida-based post-hardcore project that caught my attention last year when I saw them with Capsize in Webster Hall’s Studio room. I’ve had a few of my friends tell me about their music before, and I thought it was pretty sick when I checked it out. However, seeing these guys perform their material is a whole new level of amazing. I put these guys on my Top 25 Concert Performances of 2017 for a reason (click here). The energy they gave off in their performance was absolutely impeccable, something many artists can only wish to imitate, and the fact that this young band was already destroying some of their contemporaries’ live-performance peaks really spoke to me. Late last year, these guys re-released their SLEEP EP on Equal Vision Records, and are now on UFND Records, through which they’ve put out their debut, Father’s Son, just in time for their tour with legendary metalcore headliners Underoath.
This LP is 11 tracks in 34 minutes, and each of these tracks is gifted with absolute passion. From the moment “Fed” begins, to the closing notes of “Blister,” these guys showcase an obscene amount of energy. The first four tracks on this LP are all mosh-inducing, bringing listeners back to post-break-up Underoath. I’m talking about Disambiguation and Lost in the Sound of Separation, where the group was at their most abrasive and hard-hitting. LIMBS craft ultra-catchy, punky tracks out of that sound. There isn’t a moment that feels even slightly dull. These choruses are downright infectious. I feel like recent -core bands can’t get choruses down without sounding forced, but for LIMBS, they come naturally; the title-track and “Abba” are perfect examples.
With this fast and abrasive structure, the group incorporates some very unexpected, very tasty Radiohead influences, especially on “Homestead” and possibly my favorite track on the project, “Crossed.” Limbs are able to pace these tracks so that, following approximately two minutes of complete and utter chaos, the slow, relaxing bridges feels like organic intermissions before the next section of chaos.
Chris Constanza is already proving to be one of the most versatile vocalists in the current post-hardcore game. His harsh vocals are stellar, and he can switch from raw, yelled cleans to controlled, melancholic singing, but he neither overshadows or is overshadowed by the guitar work, which on tracks like “Abba” and “Homestead,” is super tight and on-point. The rhythm section kills it on “Sacrament” and “Black Thumb.” They create a heavy, percussive-based environment on these tracks that build upon the angry, raw emotion of the album thus far. “Sacrament” contrasts nicely with the title-track in terms of rhythm; whereas the former gets a nice spotlight, the latter shows them driving the momentum.
Father’s Son loses a bit of momentum in the final two tracks; “Tangled Hands” is a pretty weird choice for a single, and I can’t lie when I say that it was a little worrying to hear prior to the official record release. The chorus is nice enough, but for the most part, it feels like filler with a particularly unnecessary and incomplete-sounding guitar solo, which sounds like it was recorded in one take and tacked-on last-minute. Moreover, it’s mixed differently from the rest of the record. “Blister” doesn’t really stand out either, and ends the LP on a bit of a whimper.
Otherwise, this is a solid, hard-hitting debut. Post-hardcore was very much in need of a band like LIMBS. I think there is a bright future for this project, and their horizons are poised to expand on this upcoming tour with Underoath. I just hope they lay off the awkward solo-ing.
VERDICT: Father’s Son is one of the best debuts I have heard from a post-hardcore project in a very long time, following through on the promise of their EP. If you are into 2000s metalcore and post-hardcore of any kind, these guys cannot let you down.
- Alex Brown
Prisms: Meek is Murder/Drive-By Bukkake/Mary Todd/Wreath of Tongues @ Brooklyn Bazaar's Cellar- 04/14/18
Meek is Murder
Drive-By Bukkake - Mary Todd - Wreath of Tongues
Brooklyn Bazaar’s Cellar: 04/14/18
In June 2013, I attended that year’s annual Punk Island, which is a completely free festival that shines light on some underground acts. For the most part, if we’re being completely honest, these bands are mostly unremarkable, but I did have a reason to come to Punk Island. I had checked out Meek is Murder and their debut LP Algorithms, and I was amazed at the speed and aggression it produced in its 19 minute runtime. I waited the entire festival because I knew Meek is Murder were going to be something special, and as soon as they started, my day was made. They performed with twice the passion they showcased on the LP, and through their brief set, I started to truly understand the essence of the DIY scene. Since then, Meek is Murder has been my favorite local act. I’ve caught them five times between that show and this one at venues like the legendary ABC No Rio and the fairly new bar-space Gold Sounds. They’ve also released a ton of music, getting better with every project, up to their last LP Was which, as I wrote in my review when the LP came out, is as good as modern mathcore gets. Unfortunately, vocalist/guitarist Mike Keller (ex-The Red Chord) is moving out West, so they’ve announced that this show will be their last one for the foreseeable future. Of course, they didn’t fuck around with this lineup. Boston death-thrashers Drive-By Bukkake came down, and we got local support from two of the best in the game right now: techy-grindcore trio Mary Todd, and up-and-coming crusty grindcore act Wreath of Tongues (who just put out an incredible two-track EP, Like Rats.) Saying I was stoked about this lineup is an offensive understatement.
I’ve also seen Wreath of Tongues five times, once as The Haunt. These guys put their all into each of their performances; this show they went even harder. They pummeled through an intense, angry eight-song setlist and took it upon themselves to start the pit. One of the most beautiful things about this show was that everyone participated; even people I’ve seen at shows like this that would usually just stand to the side and jam out there, myself included, knew that if there was ever a night that asked for everyone to give 110%, it was this night. This was easily the best I’ve seen the boys. I linked it above, but make sure you check out Like Rats, and while you’re at it, check out their debut EP, Out with the Good, for some crusty, heavy, angry music.
Next were chabois in Mary Todd. The first time I saw these guys was also my first time at ABC No Rio, where they opened up a triple release show for Meek is Murder’s Everything is Awesome Nothing Matters, black metallers So Hideous’ debut LP Last Poem/First Light, and post-metal act East of the Wall’s Redaction Artifacts. I saw some serious potential with them, but I could also tell they were still getting used to being a band. I’ve seen them seven times since, from lineups with acts like the currently-popping Artificial Brain to opening up a show with the legendary PsyOpus. Ashley was even kind enough to give me a first listen to Bone Stock, which I reviewed here roughly a year ago. It’s safe to say I’ve watched Mary Todd grow up over the years, leading up to what was easily their best performance on this night. It was a typical set of late, mostly featuring tracks off Bone Stock and Scraping Under the Barrel, but I have never seen them as energetic as they were at this show. The audience reacted very well to them, moshing along to their set. I’ve waited a long time to see a Mary Todd set that left me completely and utterly winded, and boy, did it happen at this show.
I’m going to be completely honest: I only caught the end of Drive-By Bukakke’s set. My main reason is simply that I was completely worn out and needed to ease up so I could go really hard for Meek is Murder. Also, my party wanted to get something to eat and relax a bit, which this venue is perfect for, having a lounge area on the ground level. What I heard was all right, but I’m not into thrash metal like I used to be. They take some influence from death metal, but it doesn’t do much for me; however, if this sounds like your thing, check them out here.
I saw on my Instagram at roughly 6PM, an hour before doors, that Mike Keller had broken his ankle but was still going to perform, writing: “Welp, tonight’s show should be interesting.” Every bit of me was ready to give more than my all for Meek is Murder. As soon as Meek is Murder started with Algorithms’ intro track, “Hello, World!,” the room erupted into one huge mosh. This continued to grow through “Algorithms” and the punky “The Same Mistakes” off of 2016’s Was and Algorithms’ “(null).” The band tossed in a song off Mosquito Eater, “The Blessing and the Curse,” which I do not believe I have ever heard live before. I chilled out during this song and “Foo,” but the room wasn’t slowing down. Once Everything is Awesome Nothing Matters’ “Ashes & Glass” kicked in, it was time to party again, on through Into the Sun’s “Marty McFly (88 Mph).” There were people doing fucking pull-ups on the venue’s exposed piping, which was incredibly dangerous, but fuck it: it’s a Meek is Murder show.
They played the majority of their Onward EP, which built up nicely to the conclusion of “Onward Towards the Red Horizon.” Mike Keller, who literally just broke his ankle, played his heart out, and you could see the love and passion he had for these tracks in his no-holds-barred performance. Sam Brodsky and Frank Godla held the rhythm down. The crowd response was just beautiful; there’s just something so fucking beautiful about a show without a stage full of surfing.
We got a few more tracks off of Was and Everything is Awesome Nothing Matters, including “A Prison, a Life Raft,” where Russ Savarese (guitarist of Wreath of Tongues) picked yours truly up and swung me through the crowd, which was absolutely wonderful. The set then went into “More Always More” and “Less is More,” which is always a high point of a Meek is Murder set This night was no exception. “Play Dead,” the final track off of Everything is Awesome Nothing Matters, was bound to send shit through the roof. People took away Keller’s crutches and the stool he was sitting on, and then picked him and Sam up. Keller fell right onto Frank’s drums, which made me feel for him, but the show went on. Very few things have struck me as hard as Mike screaming “He said that everything is awesome but that nothing fucking matters, so just live your life and choose your own path” this night. That has always been a favorite lyric for me, but it meant so much more in that electrified setting. Algorithms’ “Recursions” concluded the night and an era with an eruption of madness.
This was the best local show I’ve ever been to and there is not a shadow of doubt in my mind about that. It was a great lineup of bands in an excellent little venue, full of friends just having a good time supporting and respecting each other. So many local shows lack these qualities, that it’s nice to see one that brought it all together in the spirit of ABC No Rio in its heyday. I doubt I will ever see a local show like this again, but to have witnessed it is a privilege in its own right. Long live Meek is Murder.
- Alex Brown
The Weeknd- “My Dear Melancholy,”
Listen to the EP here.
In March 2011, Abel Makkonen Tesfaye dropped his debut mixtape under his moniker The Weeknd. House of Balloons received widespread acclaim from both music consumers and critics for his dark approach to R&B music. That summer, he went on to drop a second mixtape, Thursday, which was also met with a relatively positive response. Later that year, he released the final portion of this trilogy of mixtapes, Echoes of Silence, which got nearly as much praise as the first. This trilogy told the music world one thing: look out for The Weeknd. He carried his dark R&B approach to his debut LP Kiss Land, but was met with a much more lukewarm reaction for just being kind of messy. Beauty Behind the Madness cleaned up a little, but it didn’t reach the heights of his mixtapes. It took Starboy to turn the tables in terms of style and sound. Sure, you still had your nocturnal moments, like “Party Monster,” but this was a more upbeat LP with less of the asshole-ish persona The Weeknd used on his previous projects, glamorizing his success. It was a hit. Now, over a year later, The Weeknd comes back with brand new EP My Dear Melancholy, which has to be one of the best titles for a project I have seen this year thus far. Having found positives in Beauty Behind the Madness and Kiss Land, I knew I had to jump on board with this project right away.
From the title of this EP, I was expecting a return to form for Abel, and that he very much did. This is probably the most nocturnal The Weeknd has ever sounded on a project. Tracks like “Call Out My Name” and “Privilege” are walls of atmosphere that set the depressing mood in stone.Then there’s the future garage sound of “Wasted Times.” The instrumental on this track could’ve easily shown up on a project by Burial (he production was done by brostep pioneer Skrillex, so this isn’t too much of a stretch). The instrumental on “Hurt You” sort of recalls “I Feeling it Coming” on Starboy, but it’s much darker in tone, showing that those previous feelings are irrelevant. Both “I Was Never There” and “Hurt You” had some help from French techno artist Gesaffelstein, which further connects the two through this choice of production. “Try Me” generally sound like a depressed Starboy leftover.
Lyrically, the EP is about a breakup. Plain and simple. Abel is not even trying to hide that fact. The EP plays out in a chronological order, almost like Abel is going through the stages of grief. In the very first verse of “Call Out My Name,” we see that he is reminiscing over his now lost relationship, singing “We found each other/I helped you out of a broken place/You gave me comfort/But falling for you was my mistake.” This track sees him wishing that his lover would come back to him in some way. He’s in denial. He continues the idea on the next track, “Try Me,” while also trying to convince his partner to leave whoever they’re seeing to come back to him; this is very much brings the scummy, jerkoff Weeknd we saw on the Trilogy mixtapes talking.
He continues this attitude on “Wasted Times,” which shows him bargaining by sleeping with the partner he had before his last one, but realizing it is just not the same. The next two tracks are connected by the theme of depression: “I Was Never There” sees Abel resorting to drugs and alcohol to deal with his issues, whereas “Hurt You” is him telling everyone, particularly his former lover, to stay away from him, because he is in a very toxic place. The EP concludes with “Privilege,” which is acceptance - a very begrudging acceptance. Abel tells his former lover to enjoy their privilege, and that he knows he will get over the situation in due time. He is still hurt, and is constantly using substances to dull the pain, but he knows it’s only going to get better for him in the future. He closes off singing “I don't wanna hear that no more” as he walks away from his partner and her issues, wanting absolutely nothing to do with her.
Structurally, these songs are some of the best The Weeknd has ever crafted. My issue with the EP comes from how much of a one-trick pony it is. Being only six tracks and standing at roughly 21 minutes, there is literally no variety. I remember expecting this to be a full length, but now that it’s out, I’m glad it isn’t, because I think the record’s dark tone it would get stale quickly. It’s hard to listen to in full unless you’re in a certain mood. I think all of these tracks are pretty damn solid, but I’ll only really be returning to the full project every now and then.
That said, when it is THAT certain time and I am feeling THAT certain way, this is definitely going to be my go-to. It’s easily my favorite thing The Weeknd has done thus far. The production is great, and The Weeknd sounds as good as ever. Hopefully, we get a full length later this year too; one that takes this renewed interest in the dark, edgy sound he came up on in more adventurous directions.
VERDICT: What My Dear Melancholy, lacks in ambition it makes up for in incredibly consistent songs. There is no room for fat on this 21-minute EP, a perfect soundtrack for those dark, lonely nights.
- Alex Brown
Hey everyone! It’s me again! I still write for this gosh darn website, but the plight of being an English-Education major leaves my ability to write on an extracurricular relatively crippled. Thankfully, I’ve been listening to a ton of new music this year, so I’m gonna borrow a page from the Book of Brian Lesmes and highlight some releases that you should definitely check out.
Chamber - Hatred Softly Spoken
Back in November I wrote a piece for the American Metalcore Project in which I highlighted Biohazard and proceeded to complain about nu-metalcore for about three-fourths of a paragraph. I won’t get into those complaints right now (go read the article to figure out exactly what I hate about nu-metalcore), but I’m glad to see bands like Nashville’s Chamber take the good elements of nu-metal and utilize them in crafting an EP that sounds like it was recorded in an insane asylum. There’s that trademark Korn pitch-shifting, as well as songwriting cues borrowed from Slipknot (not to mention the tasteful biting of Jim Root’s guitar tone) that all serve to create something that pays homage to the two aforementioned bands without sounding dated. FFO: Vein, Sanction
Vamachara - Despondent
California’s Vamachara surprised a lot of people at the end of last year when they suddenly announced that they were putting out a full-length on January 5th. Some might find it risky to put out an LP while essentially still DIY and without any “big” support tours, but the band managed to pull it off very well. The band’s sound is very straight-forward: down-tuned, HM2-tinged metallic hardcore in the vein of bands like Eighteen Visions, Disembodied, and Arkangel. While this sound has become very homogenous within the current hardcore landscape, the band’s top-notch songwriting manages to keep them head-and-shoulders above the vast majority their peers. Songs like “Substances Submission” and “Watch You Burn” (the latter being re-recorded from their “MMXVI” demo released in 2016) are good examples of this sound at its best, keeping things dark while also heavy and moshable. Catch them on tour with Twitching Tongues and True Love this month (and bring your dancing shoes too!). Speaking of…
True Love - The Pact
Fast hardcore is something of a forgotten art these days; there’s plenty of bands still producing the fast, power-chord driven sound that hardcore was originally based on, but they get lost in the crowd compared to a lot of the heavier mosh bands that are popular today. It’s this situation where Detroit’s True Love find themselves at this current juncture, touring in support of Twitching Tongues alongside Vamachara, two bands on the more metallic side of the genre. The Pact isn’t as “traditionally” hardcore as its predecessor, Heaven’s Too Good For Us, resembling something a little close to Lowest of the Low-era Terror over American Nightmare, but the band remain true to the fundamental hardcore sound. Tracks such as “The Other Way” and the title track are packed to the brim with breakneck chords and drums that serve as a great backing to frontman Dominic Vargaz’s impassioned vocals. Could bands like True Love save us from the dreaded horseshoe and bring back the old-school pile on? Here’s hoping.
Ecostrike - Voice of Strength
South Florida straightedge band Ecostrike’s last release Time is Now was one of my sleeper hits of 2017. Mid-90’s style straightedge hardcore in the vein of Strife and early Earth Crisis? Sign me up. I didn’t think a band could write a better record in that style, but then they went and did it less than a year later. Reading the lyrics from songs like “Still Remain” get me excited to be straightedge like I’m sixteen all over again: “Reaching in, searching for what counts / empty hands grasping in the darkness / find the strength to suffocate my doubts / find the truth; the answer lights my path / ask myself: does the feeling still remain?” But even if you’re not straightedge, the riffs are oozing with energy; especially the opening riff in “Standing Hard,” which is basically designed to get kids side-to-siding into each other. Check it out.
Trail of Lies - W.A.R.
Few bands have been as important to me over a month-and-a-half span as Syracuse’s Trail of Lies have. Their sound, bearing a resemblance to early Hatebreed and Throwdown, immediately appealed to me, but the band is so much more than just hard breakdowns. What has caused me to admire this band so much over the past few months is their dedication and the effort they put into their lyrics, as well as encouraging audience participation in more ways than just hitting each other in the pit. Watch any recent live set from the band (or actually go see them live for yourself) and amongst the first things you’ll see is vocalist Tom Damiano imploring people to move up and sing along, and they do. Trail of Lies push a message of relentlessness in all aspects of life, and their lyrics reflect that. “Fight For Victory” is the best example of this, declaring that “the mind is your most powerful weapon” before empowering the listener to “control, react, and overcome.” If you’re going through a difficult period in life and enjoy energetic, empowering hardcore, you owe it to yourself to listen to this record, study the lyrics and their themes, and watch a Trail of Lies set and sing along. This band truly is something special.
PREDICTION: ICE-AGE-CORE PROLLY FINNA BE THE NEXT GENRE FROM 15 YEARS AGO THAT PEOPLE WILL ENDLESSLY REFERENCE
LMAO YO WHATS POPPING YOU SENTIENT DISCOGS LISTING OF A COLORED VINYL VARIANT OF A DEAFHEAVEN RECORD? I'M BACK TO FURTHER ERODE THE REPUTATION AND M.O. OF THIS WEBSITE BY MY LONG FORM, JOYCEAN, STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS SHIT-POSTING LMAO
AIGHT IMMA TRY TO STAY ON SUBJECT MORE THAN MY PREVIOUS ARTICLES HAVE BEEN (YO LINK THEM HERE OR SOMETHING I'M BAD WITH THIS SHIT THANX BRIAN) SO LET'S GET STRAIGHT TO IT:
FOR THIS WEIRD PERIOD OF TIME BETWEEN 2004-2010 THE WORLD EXPERIENCED THIS SUDDEN AND EXPONENTIAL SURGE OF WHITE DUDES WITH DELAY PEDALS DOING WORLD MUSIC AND WHISPERING INTO MICROPHONES. IT WAS SUPER DUPER POPPING FOR A WHILE AND LITERALLY EVERY TIME I WENT INTO A RECORD STORE OR OPENED A MUSIC MAGAZINE THERE’D BE SOME GUY WHO LOOKED LIKE HE HAD LICE SITTING ON A WOODEN CHAIR THAT WAS SALVAGED FROM A SHIPWRECK OR SOMETHING AND A PULL QUOTE WHERE HE’D BE LIKE
“WE CAN ONLY ACCEPT A FINITE AMOUNT OF UGLINESS IN THE WORLD BEFORE OUR PSYCHE IS FORCED TO MAKE IT CONFORM TO OUR NOTION OF BEAUTY”
OR SOMETHING ELSE THAT’S KINDA RIGHT BUT PRETENTIOUS LIKE THAT. LIKE FOR SOME REASON AFTER THE WHOLE POST-9/11 “LET'S BE COOL WIT EACH OTHER FOR A MINUTE” THING DIED DOWN AND PEOPLE WERE LIKE “HEY I'M SO SICK OF HAVING FUN AND WEARING PHAT JNCO JEANS AND LISTENING TO NU-METAL I'M GOING TO START DRESSING LIKE A RAILROAD WORKER OR SOME SHIT” AND THEN THE RECESSION HIT AND E V E R Y B O D Y WAS LIKE “YA HE’S RIGHT I'M FINNA WEAR THESE REDWING BOOTS FOR 5 YEARS AND WEAR JEANS THAT HAVE 6 INCH CUFFS ON THEM AND STOP SHAVING BECAUSE LIKE WHO CAN AFFORD RAZORS OR WHATEVER”
AND LIKE, IT FULL ON BECAME A THING WHERE PEOPLE WERE DUMB INTO THE IDEA OF DRESSING LIKE THEY WERE OKIES ESCAPING THE DUSTBOWL OR WHATEVER. LIKE THERE WAS A NATIONWIDE EPIDEMIC OF PEOPLE COSPLAYING AS CHARACTERS FROM JOHN STEINBECK NOVELS SINGING FOLK SONGS WITH THEIR FLAPPER GIRLFRIENDS WHO PLAYED THE DJEMBE OR WHATEVER. IT WAS WORLDWIDE MY GUY. LIKE REAL TALK I HAVE A DEGREE IN PSYCHOLOGY AND I CAN CONFIRM THIS IS A LEGITIMATELY STUDIED PHENOMENON AND IT’S CALLED “BEING A FUCKING HERB”
SO BASICALLY ALL THESE GUYS WERE OUT HERE GETTING EDITORIALS IN PITCHFORK ABOUT THEIR GARDENS AND SHIT BECAUSE THEY MADE KINDA CATCHY BUT STILL REALLY MELLOW INDIE WITH SOME WEIRD INSTRUMENTS AND MAYBE WOULD THROW IN AN ELECTRONIC BEAT OR MAYBE A DISTORTED GUITAR PART I GUESS?
TL;DR: THE HOTTEST GENRE OF THE BUSH ERA FOR GUYS WHO WANT TO COVER UP THE FACT THAT THEY HAVE A SCAR FROM CROWD SURFING DURING A GREEN JELLO SET WAS BASICALLY JUST BACKGROUND MUSIC FOR THAT WALKING SCENE FROM ICE-AGE LOL AND I'M HERE TO GIVE ALL OF YOU A LESSON ON THAT BECAUSE IDK YALL’RE LIKE 3 YEARS YOUNGER THAN ME SO I JUST AUTOMATICALLY ASSUME YOU DON’T KNOW ABOUT ANYTHING THAT HAPPENED BEFORE 2014 (EDITOR'S NOTE: I THINK THERE'S LIKE 2 WRITERS WHO ARE OLDER OLDER THAN ME IDK LMAO I'M NOT THE EDITOR) [Editor’s note: this is correct.]
MAPS & ATLASES
YO THIS IS THE SONG THAT MADE ME COIN THE TERM ICE-AGE –CORE LMAO. MAPS & ATLASES ARE PRETTY COOL BUT THIS VIDEO ENRAGES ME LIKE WOW WHAT A FUCKING DORK THIS GUY IS LIKE “I'LL GIVE MYSELF A HAIRCUT FOR THE MUSIC VIDEO” LIKE COME ON. THIS IS SOME HEAVY “SONG A GIRL WITH A PBR TATTOO PUTS ON A ‘FEEL GOOD’ PLAYLIST” JAM. I REALLY DIG THE MARAMBA OR WHATEVER ITS CALLED. THE BEEFY XYLOPHONE SHIT LOL YO CAN YOU IMAGINE THE GUY WHO FIRST CAME UP WITH THE IDEA OF XYLOPHONES = SKELETONS? LIKE SOME RACIST EUROPEAN GUY IN 1650 WAS LIKE “DAMN HOW AM I FINNA MAKE IT SOUND LIKE THERES SOME SKELETONS DANCING RIGHT NOW?” *PANS TO THE XYLOPHONE HE ORDERED OFF MEDIEVAL REVERB.COM* =^O
MAPS & ATLASES SOUND LIKE THE GOOD VAMPIRE WEEKEND SONGS BUT WITHOUT THE ANNOYING “HEYHEYIMHERETOBESAY AOOOOOOWHWHWHAAAA” PARTS OR MAKING A SOLID 3/10 ANIME THAT’S ONLY HIGHLIGHTS WERE DESUS AND MERO. LMAO REMEMBER WHEN VAMPIRE WEEKEND WERE APPEARING AT FESTIVALS WITH THE FREQUENCY THAT RUN THE JEWELS HAVE NOW? NOW RZA KUERING OR WHATEVER IS SITTING COLLECTING BEYONCE CHECKS DRESSED LIKE KOURTNEY KARDASHIAN'S BABY POPS IN 2008 (READ: SWEATER TIED AROUND HIS NECK LIKE A CAPE)
IGHT SO STRAIGHT OUT THE GATE WE GOT A PRETTY GOOD IDEA OF WHAT CONSTITUTES ICE-AGE-CORE: NONSENSE BAND-NAME; CHECK, BALDING GUY WITH A BEARD FROM THE MIDWEST; CHECK, “OOOOOOOHHHHHHHHS”; CHECK, LYRICS ABOUT LIKE, IDK FALLING IN LOVE WITH THE SEASON OF WINTER OR SOME SHIT; CHECK.
BON IVER IS KINDA LIKE THE MUSICAL EQUIVALENT OF THOSE PEOPLE THAT MAKE COFFEE WITH ONE OF THOSE HAND PRESS THINGS BUT HE GOT A COUPLE JAMS AND DID A GUEST SPOT ON THAT KANYE SONG WHERE NICKI MINAJ WROTE A VERSE SO HARD SHE WAS LIKE “SWEET NOW I CAN JUST RIDE OFF THIS FOR THE NEXT DECADE LMAO”
ALSO LIKE EVERYONE ELSE KANYE WEST HAS EVER BEEN IN CONTACT WITH BON IVER HAD HIS OWN SHOE AND IT WAS PRETTY TRASH
(THESE LOOK LIKE A CASSEROLE DISH YOU’D BUY AT MARSHALL’S AND THEY ACTUALLY SOLD OUT LMAO)
IRON & WINE:
YO I FUCKING LOVE IRON & WINE LOL. WHEN I WAS LIKE 20 AND GOING THROUGH THE PATENTED “WHITE GUY IN COLLEGE HAVING AN EXISTENTIAL CRISIS” PHASE OF MY LIFE AND MY SOLUTION WAS DYEING MY HAIR BLONDE AND LISTENING TO A SHIT TON OF IRON AND WINE (PSA: DON’T DO THIS).
IRON & WINE IS ONE OF THE FEW BANDS THAT I HAD TO INCESSANTLY READ ABOUT IN THE ISSUES OF ROLLING STONE MY ORTHODONTIST WOULD HAVE IN HIS OFFICE THAT WAS ACTUALLY GOOD. LIKE REMEMBER HOW MANY FUCKING TIMES KINGS OF LEON WAS ON THE COVER? LOL WHAT HAPPENED TO KINGS OF LEON
I REMEMBER WHEN I WAS LIKE 12, BEFORE I EVER STARTED TO LISTENED TO IRON & WINE, I SAW THIS VIDEO AT A MUSIC STORE IN LONG ISLAND (LOONEY TUNES FOR THOSE CURIOUS. I GOT KICKED OUT OF THERE ONCE BY A GUY WHO DID SECURITY FOR THE HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD BECAUSE I SAID THEY SOUNDED LIKE KID ROCK FOR BREAKDANCERS) AND THE AUDIO WASN’T GOING WITH IT BUT INSTEAD THEY HAD LIKE GODFLESH OR SOMETHING PLAYING OVER IT AND FOR LIKE 4 YEARS I THOUGHT IRON & WINE WAS AN INDUSTRIAL BAND.
IRON AND WINE ALSO CONTENDS FOR BEING “TWILIGHT-WAVE” WHICH IS LIKE, SOFT NOSTALGIC SONGS THAT ARE STILL REALLY GOOD DESPITE BEING A LITTLE CORNY (SAPPY BUT SLAPPY) AND DEFINITELY HAVE BEEN USED BY SHITTY COUPLES IN 2010 TO CONCEIVE CHILDREN THEY'D NAME “LILAC” OR “CLEMENTINE” OR SOMETHING WILD BUNS LIKE THAT.
I WAS DEBATING PUTTING SIGUR ROS ON THIS BECAUSE THEY KIND OF ARE TOO AMBIENT TO BE CONSIDERED TRU-ICE-AGE-CORE BUT THEY'RE STILL PRETTY DAMN CLOSE AND MAYBE COULD WORK FOR LIKE A SCENE WHERE THERE'S SOME LIKE GLACIERS OR SOMETHING?
SIGUR ROS IS FAMOUS FOR USING LIKE 14 REVERB PEDALS AT THE SAME TIME WHICH IS KINDA COOL BUT LED TO WAAAAAAAAAAAAY TOO MANY BANDS TRYING TO DO THE SAME THING LOL.
I WISH I LIKED THIS BAND MORE BUT THEY'RE JUST A LITTLE TOO SPACEY AND ATMOSPHERIC FOR ME AND I FEEL LIKE I NEVER COULD REALLY PUT MYSELF IN THE PROPER MINDSET TO REALLY “GET” THEM (READ: I DON’T DO DRUGS).
IDK SIGUR ROS ALWAYS SOUNDED LIKE THEY'RE STUCK IN A JAR LIKE SOME KIND OF DEPRESSED EUROPEAN GENIE.
LITERALLY ANY MUSICAL PROJECT THAT CONOR OBERST HAS TAKEN PART IN:
DUDE IDK WHAT THIS GUYS PROBLEM IS (IT'S PROBABLY BEING A DRUNK FROM WISCONSIN) BUT I DON’T THINK THIS GUY HAS EVER BEEN HAPPY A DAY IN HIS LIFE. LIKE HAVE YOU EVER HEARD HIS CHRISTMAS ALBUM? I THINK CONOR OBERST MAY BE THE MOST DEPRESSED MUSICIAN ALIVE RIGHT NOW (NOTE THAT I SAID ALIVE)
BETWEEN BRIGHT EYES, COOLRANCHDORITOS (YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN), HIS SOLO PROJECT, MONSTERS OF FOLK, AND THE INSTAGRAM FEED OF EVERY DEPRESSED GIRL WITH A GUITAR EVER, CONOR OBERST HAS THE “IM SAD BUT LICENTIOUS” SCENE ON LOCK LMAO.
YO I LIKE CONOR OBERST AS MUCH AS THE NEXT GUY (READ: I THINK HE'S GOOD BUT I'M NOT ABOUT TO DOWNLOAD FOUR THOUSAND RECORDS) BUT THIS GUY NEEDS TO TAKE IT EASY. LIKE COME ON MAN YOU'RE GONNA GO DOWN A ROAD YOU DON’T WANNA BE AT TRUST.
LOL BRIGHT EYES MAKES MUSIC FOR THOSE COUPLES THAT DO NOTHING BUT CRY AT EACH OTHER AND THEN HAVE GROSS MAKE UP SEX AND POST THEIR POST-COITAL SELFIES ON PUBLIC PROFILE PICTURES AND HAVE SOME WEIRD GUY IN HIS 50s THAT THEY MET AT A FESTIVAL COMMENT LIKE “I REMEMBER WHEN I WAS YOUNG HAHA! :) “ ON IT LIKE ITS NOT SOMETHING THAT’S 1.) SUPER WEIRD, AND 2.) INCREDIBLY CREEPY.
CONOR OBERST IS ALSO A PART OF THE MOUNT RUSHMORE FOR GUYS THAT FRESHMAN COLLEGE GIRLS NEED TO AVOID AT ALL COST (IT'S HIM, KURT VONNEGUT, DAVID FINCHER, AND CARL SAGAN FYI). DON’T QUESTION MY METHODS BUT ENJOY THE RESULTS WHEN YOU DON’T GET A 3 AM “YOU MAKE ME FEEL LIKE I CAN OPEN UP ABOUT WHO I AM” TEXT FROM A GUY WHO STILL BEATS ILLYZ TO THE NUDES OF HIS EXES YOU'RE WELCOME.
I WAS GONNA PUT A LINK TO A SONG BUT IF YOU HAVE SISTER AND SHE EVER HAS BEEN DUMPED YOU’VE DEFINITELY HEARD YOUR FAIR SHARE OF CONOR OBERST’S TRADEMARK WHISPER CRY (NOT ME THOUGH MY SISTER IS 17 YEARS MY SENIOR AND THE ONLY MUSIC I'VE EVER HEARD HER TALK ABOUT IS NO DOUBT AND PENNYWISE, SWEAR TO GOD)
MINUS THE BEAR:
MINUS THE BEAR IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU GROW UP AND REALIZE THAT MATHCORE DON’T PAY BILLS.
LMAO EVERY TIME SOMEONE “GROWS OUT” OF HARDCORE THEY HAVE TO MAKE A PILGRIMAGE TO DAVE KNUDSON'S HOUSE AND HE TAKES YOUR MESA-BOOGIE AMPS AND HANDS A PAIR OF SUNGLASSES AND A RESPECTABLE BUTTON UP SHIRT AND YOU'RE ONLY ALLOWED TO PLAY GUITARS THAT ARE PAINTED LIKE CARS FROM THE 50s.
I READ SOMEWHERE THAT MINUS THE BEAR HAS GONE THROUGH LIKE TWENTYSOMETHING OF THOSE LINE6 DL4 DELAY PEDALS WHICH IS PROBABLY LIKE 3 TIMES AS MUCH MONEY AS BOTCH EVER MADE LOL.
YO I KNOW I'M SUPPOSED TO BE TALKING ABOUT MINUS THE BEAR BUT I REALLY CAN'T HELP TALKING ABOUT BOTCH. THE FACT THAT A GUY IN BOTCH STARTED MINUS THE BEAR IS PROLLY THE MOST WELL KNOWN “LITTLE KNOWN FACTS” EVER, NEXT TO LIKE, TOMATOES BEING FRUIT OR THE BAD GUY FROM THE FIRST FRIDAY THE 13TH IS JASON'S MOM INSTEAD OF JASON.
MINUS THE BEAR IS MORE UPBEAT THAN MOST OF THE OTHER BANDS WE'VE DISCUSSED BUT THEY MORE THAN MAKE UP FOR IT WITH TWO NOTE GUITAR LEADS AND ABUSING THE SHIT OUT OF DELAY PEDALS.
LOL WHAT IF SOMEONE IN NORMA JEAN MAKES A MINUS THE BEAR CLONE BAND THAT'D BE WILD
THE TALLEST MAN ON EARTH:
YO DID Y’ALL KNOW THAT THIS MISSISSIPPI MUDSLING SOUNDING SON OF SORGHUM SUCKING BULLFROG IS FROM FUCKING SWEDEN?
BUTTER MY BRITCHES AND CALL ME A DRESSED UP BISCUIT I WOULDA NEVER EXPECTED SOMEONE WHO SOUNDS LIKE BOB DYLAN SINGING THROUGH A TIN-CAN ON A STRING TELEPHONE TO BE FROM SOMEWHERE WITH UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE.
WOW THIS RECORD IS SUPER GOOD BUT MAKES ME WANT TO KILL MYSELF.
APPARENTLY THE GUY WHO MADE THIS WAS LIKE “I'M GONNA MOVE TO ICELAND HOW BAD CAN IT BE?” AND THEN IT WAS NIGHT FOR 3 MONTHS AND HE HAD NO FRIENDS AND IT WAS COLDER THAN GOD’S EMBRACE OUTSIDE SO INSTEAD OF JUST OVERDOING ON LYE OR WHATEVER THEY DO IN ICELAND HE JUST MADE THIS RECORD INSTEAD.
YO SPEAKING OF DEPRESSING AND COLD THINGS YOU GUYS HAVE ANY IDEA HOW MANY ICE AGE MOVIES THERE ARE? THE LAST ONE I REMEMBERED WAS THE ONE WHERE THEY WERE IN A DINOSAUR WORLD BUT APPARENTLY THAT WAS LIKE 3 FILMS AGO LMAO IDK WHO DENIS LEARY'S AGENT IS BUT HE DESERVES SOME KIND OF RAISE.
WAS THE EMO REVIVAL REALLY JUST ICE-AGE-CORE II (THE MELTDOWN™)?
AIGHT SO IFIN Y'ALL DON’T REMEMBER THERE WAS THIS REALLY BRIEF BUT PRETTY SICK MOVEMENT FOR A MINUTE WHERE PEOPLE WHO GREW UP LISTENING TO AT THE DRIVE IN OR WHATEVER STOLE THEIR OLDER SISTER’S CASSETTE COLLECTION AND FOUND OUT ABOUT RITES OF SPRING AND TEXAS IS THE REASON OR WHATEVER SO THEN WE GOT A BUNCH OF DUDES WEARING RAYBAN CLUBMASTERS WITH JCREW SHIRTS AND TELECASTERS SINGING ABOUT THEIR HIGH SCHOOL GIRLFRIENDS BREAKING UP WITH THEM EVEN THOUGH THEY WERE ALL LIKE IN THEIR MID-20s LOL.
IDK MAYBE ONE DAY I'LL COME BACK AND WRITE A WHOLE THING ABOUT THAT BECAUSE TBH AFTER THE ONE-TWO PUNCH OF LOSING BOTH GAZA AND THE CHARIOT I JUST KINDA STUCK TO EMO FOR A BIT BUT LIKE, WELL, THAT DIDN’T END WELL EITHER (SPOILER ALERT: THE SAME SHIT WITH GAZA BUT REPLACE SALT LAKE CITY WITH PHILADELPHIA) RETWEET IF U WANT 2 SEE MY EPIC TAKEDOWN OF THE EMO REVIVAL SCENE *NOT CLICKBAIT*!!!
A GREAT BIG PILE OF LEAVES:
YO SO THIS BAND WAS MORE OF A SUGGESTION THAN ANYTHING ELSE, LIKE I DON’T MIND THEM BUT MY ONE MEMORY OF AGPOL WAS KIND OF HALF WATCHING THEM PLAY WHILE TRYING TO ACT AS A WINGMAN FOR MY FRIEND WHO WAS TRYING TO BANG THE DRUMMER FROM OLD GRAY (IF THERE'S ONE CONSISTENT THING IN MY LIFE IT’S THAT I'M FRIENDS WITH A LOT OF WOMEN WHO LIKE GUYS WHO OVER-EARNESTLY READ POETRY)
LOL THESE GUYS WERE LIKE “WHAT IF WE JUST WERE MINUS THE BEAR A SECOND TIME LOL”
BORIS SMILE/THE GREAT ALBATROSS:
TBH EITHER BAND CAN WORK IN THIS EXAMPLE BECAUSE THEY'RE BOTH SOLO PROJECTS FROM THE SAME GUY LOL. THE MASTERMIND BEHIND BOTH BANDS IS THIS GUY NAMED WESLEY CHUNG. LOL I HATE IT WHEN PEOPLE USE THAT TERM LIKE WES CHUNG IS FINNA BE OUT IN A LAIR PLOTTING A TRAP TO KILL THE GREEN LANTERN OR SOMETHING LOL.
I THINK HE LIVES IN SCOTLAND OR SOMETHING WHICH MUST SUCK. DUDE HOW CAN I UNDERSTAND SPANISH BETTER THAN SCOTTISH PEOPLE? SCOTTISH PEOPLE SPEAK KLINGON I THINK
THIS SONG IS REALLY GOOD HONESTLY AND CAN BEST BE DESCRIBED AS ONE OF THOSE SONGS YOU'D HEAR IN A COMMERCIAL FOR A COOKIE OR A TRAILER FOR A MOVIE ABOUT A SUMMER ROMANCE AND THERE'S A SCENE WHERE BOTH CHARACTERS EYES TRANSFORM INTO THE MOON OR SOMETHING ELSE THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN WRITTEN BY SOMEONE WHO READS TOO MUCH W.B. YEATS ALSO PLEASE BE ADVISED MY STRIPPER NAME IS TRILL.I.AM BUTLER YEEKZ AND IF ANY OF YOU TAKE IT WE ARE BEYBLADING FOR THE TITLE AND I GOT A ULTIMATE FORM STEEL DRAGOON SO YOUR ASS IS GRASS BUSTER
THE WORLD IS A BEAUTIFUL PLACE AND I AM NO LONGER AFRAID TO DIE:
HONESTLY I COULD PROBABLY WRITE AN ARTICLE IN AND OF ITSELF ABOUT JUST THE WORLD IS BECAUSE I'M A WHITE GUY IN HIS EARLY-MID-20s AND I HAVE A NOSE RING AND A MOTH TATTOO SO NATURALLY I WAS PRETTY INTO THE WHOLE EMO-REVIVAL THING. I'M ALSO FROM CONNECTICUT SO I'VE SEEN THE WORLD IS MORE TIMES THAN I'VE SEEN MOST OF MY FAMILY MEMBERS IN THE PAST 6 YEARS.
THE WORLD IS WAS ONE OF MY FAVORITE BANDS WHEN I WAS IN COLLEGE WHICH SHOULD BE SHOCKING TO ABSOLUTELY NO ONE. LOL I WAS AT THE SHOW WHERE THEY FINALLY PARTED WAYS WITH THEIR ORIGINAL (BETTER) VOCALIST TOM. HE'S THE ONE WHO SANG ON ALL THEIR RELEASES UP TO AND INCLUDING THEIR DEBUT ALBUM, “WHENEVER, IF EVER” WHICH WAS JUST A JOKE ABOUT HOW THEY TOOK 4 YEARS TO DO AN LP AND PEOPLE WERE REALLY TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHAT IT MEANS LIKE THESE GUYS SOLD FORKS FOR $4.20 THEY AREN'T THAT DEEP.
PROTIP: IF YOU'RE WONDERING WHETHER TOM OR DAVID IS SINGING ON ANY TRACK FOLLOW THIS EASY GUIDE:
-SINGER SOUNDS IN KEY BUT ISN'T = DAVID
-SINGER SOUNDS LIKE HE'S LITERALLY ABOUT TO KILL HIMSELF AT ANY MOMENT = TOM
I HAVEN'T HEARD ANYTHING ABOUT TOM DIAZ SINCE THE LAST TIME HE PUT OUT A SOLO RECORD HE GOES BY SINOFRIO DIAZ, CHECK THEM OUT IF YOU’RE INTO THE TALLEST MAN ON EARTH SONGS ABOUT NEW HAVEN BUT ALL JOKING ASIDE I HOPE TOM IS DOING OKAY BECAUSE FROM WHAT I KNEW HE WAS IN A ROUGH PLACE
THE WORLD IS A BEAUTIFUL PLACE AND I AM NO LONGER AFRAID TO DIE ALSO WERE AN INSTRUMENTAL PART IN MY DETERMINATION OF WHAT KIND OF CT MUSIC SCENE DUDE YOU WERE LOL
(TAG URSELF, I’M “THE WORLD IS”)
TBH IM NOT AN EXPERT ON THIS GENRE OF MUSIC BUT I FEEL LIKE IT'S IMPORTANT TO GET THIS OUT HERE YOU KNOW? LIKE HOW ELSE ARE KIDS THAT WERE BORN IN 2005 GONNA LEARN HOW TO DO FINGER PICKED GUITAR LEADS OR SING IN LANGUAGES THEY DON’T SPEAK OR WHATEVER? IDK MAN IM KINDA BAD AT WRITING MAYBE I SHOULD GIVE UP OR JUST STICK TO WRITING NON-SEQUITURS ABOUT CROWBAR OR SOMETHING IDK.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE ICE-AGE-CORE BAND? SOUND OFF IN THE COMMENTS AND REMEMBER TO LIKE, RATE, AND SUBSCRIBE FOR MORE CONTENT *SAYS SOMETHING PROBLEMATIC, LOSES YOUTUBE ENDORSEMENT*
After a subdued couple of months to begin 2018, I’m happy to say that things have started to pick up as we close in on the end of the first quarter of the year. I think this slow beginning heralds yet another year of excellent music after the frenzy of 2017. I’ve discovered plenty of releases since the end-of-the-year rush and reevaluated a lot of albums I glazed over that would have upended my rankings had I know about them or devoted the time sooner, but that’s just the way these things go. So, in an effort to keep better track of all the music that comes my way, I’ve decided to forgo timely reviews and rank stand-out albums by quarter, with exceptions, here and there, for releases that demand a little more (if Necrophagist, Tool, or Vildhjarta dropped a record tomorrow, for instance, you could probably expect something a little sooner than June).
So, here’s what’s caught my attention in 2018 (in order of release date):
Vile Ones - Teeth
Sooner than later, the American Metalcore Project will catch up with Scarlet, whose full-length Cult Classic has lived up to its tongue-in-cheek title in the years since its release (but let’s hope the country hasn’t caught up with its dystopian sci-fi narrative by then, because that would suck). Vile Ones and the 18-minute firebrand of Teeth is exactly what you think it is: Micah Kinard of Oh, Sleeper cutting loose over Scarlet’s spastic, shrapnel-bomb brand of mathcore, with hardly a clean-sung line in earshot leading to downright maniacal fare like “A Drink With ML Crassus,” “Pollack,” and “Mad Man.” There’s an artsiness to the EP that goes beyond the casual name-drops of artists and historical figures in the tracklist and puts a little more meat on Teeth’s bones; at times, it reminds me of the quasi-sophisticated freakishness Fear Before the March of Flames attempted on Art Damage; the scrappiness of The Chariot’s Long Live; or what Jon Spencer’s post-Scarlet band Spitfire did with Cult Classic’s older, broodier sibling Cult Fiction.
Hamferð - Tamsins likam
There has been a lot more doom in my musical diet of late, but it’s into Hamferð’s gloomy fog-bank that I’ve found myself disappearing most often. Formed on the Faroe Islands off the coast of Norway, Hamferð (whose name “describes the epiphany of dead/missing seamen”) and Tamsins likam (which means “the body of mist”) are metal that reflects both a rich history of island folklore and the forlornness of living among rock and seaspray, under perpetually overcast skies. Tamsins likam isn’t necessarily any slower or darker than most doom metal I’ve come across, but it’s more refined and enigmatic, at times inching toward the literate prog of Opeth circa Still Life and Blackwater Park and underpinned by a depressing narrative involving a death, a downward spiral, and a suicide. That Hamferð and I don’t share a language doesn’t matter. The music conveys plenty. It’s the kind of performance that doesn’t just tug the heartstrings, but stretches them out,making it a difficult album to forget - also thanks, in part, to how it loops back into itself, underscoring the cyclical nature of its narrative and making chain-listens an imperative. I can honestly say I haven’t listened so impulsively to a doom record like this since The Inside Room by 40 Watt Sun; it helps helps that it clocks in at a breezy 43 minutes and that no song crosses over into truly exorbitant lengths.
Erdve - Vaijtomas
Vaijtomas is a black stain that doesn’t wipe off, and Erdve commit so wholly to their ideology of oppression that, by the time “Prievarta” oozes in, Erdve doesn’t sound like a band so much as a single organism, one that creeps around in the dark and screams at nothing, torturing itself like a denizen of one of Thomas Ligotti’s dilapidated nightmare universes. The leaden guitar tuning reminds me of The Psyke Project and other, similar sludge bands, sometimes of Celeste or AmenRa. The high-pitched screams juxtaposed against the band’s churning sludge, especially, sound as if they were scooped out of the belly of Misanthrope(s) or Mass III. But it’s easy to lose sight of Erdve’s simplified approach to the same depths these bands plumb, and how efficient they are at conjuring this acidic brand of misery thanks to that simplicity--half of “Apverktis” is just a couple of ringing chords, and they contain all the menace of a thundercloud that could sprout a tornado at any moment. It does. But it’s “Atraja” that steals the show, with an infectious groove that lies somewhere between Plebeian Grandstand and Black Sheep Wall. Its dissonant, repetitive riffing and crashing cymbals are almost upbeat, and this damning hint of optimism is maybe the best-realized manifestation of Erdve’s profound sonic nihilism.
Rolo Tomassi - Time Will Die and Love Will Bury It
Our own Alex Brown gave Rolo Tomassi’s new record a pretty thorough shakedown; all I have to add is that, while they don’t fill the Dillinger Escape Plan-shaped hole in my musical universe (though I do have a pretty good feeling about that new The Armed record on the horizon), I’m glad I gave them another shot after the disappointment of Eternal Youth. In retrospect, that wasn’t the best place to start, as I had assumed of its exhaustive three-hour runtime; it doesn’t even hint at the spirit of Time Will Die..., which is dynamic, inventive, and even pushes a few boundaries in its quest for A Better Mathcore in under one hour, which that collection of demos, b-sides, and otherwise unaffiliated music couldn’t even begin to do. Because that’s Rolo Tomassi’s greatest strength: they write albums, making the pretty synthpop of “Towards Dawn” and “Aftermath” not only a novel way to begin a record in this genre, but potentially the greatest subversion of the “deceptively subdued introduction” since Metallica tropified it with “Battery.” The record veers from that to the sweepingly epic (“The Hollow Hour” is just one of the best songs I’ve heard this year) and to the complex and muscular (“Rituals,” “Whispers Among Us”) with a theatrical aplomb that’s never overbearing (although it does inch a bit close to that on “A Flood of Light” - sorry, didn’t change my life!) and always engaging. On “The Hollow Hour” and “Alma Mater,” it’s even kind of astounding. I haven't been able to put this one down.
Slugdge - Esoteric Malacology
I never expected to fall so hard for a band that takes the slug for its muse. The alien, planet-conquering kind of slug, but the slug, nonetheless. But what seems like a gimmick melts away with the first monumental strains of “War Squids,” and around the martial stomp of “Salt Thrower,” I can almost understand Slugdge’s affinity for the little dudes. But what about them inspires the duo (!) to write such excellent metal? I suspect the answer to that question is a MacGuffin; after all, strictly speaking, Slugdge aren’t revolutionary. They’re just a couple of skilled musicians with an uncanny knack for songwriting and a love of slugs; a gooey, primary-colored, progressive death metal version of Arsis, in effect, but also the authors of “Slave Goo World” and “Limo Vincit Omnia” (which means something like “the mud wins”). The former song makes the very best use of the band’s secret weapon: deep, lugubrious, and sleazy singing, exactly the sort of voice you’d imagine would emerge from the slimy front-node of a sentient extraterrestrial slug. It’s antithetical to the Mikael Akerfeldts of the genre (although the growls across the record are similar, if a little wetter and meaner-spirited; sometimes it even sounds like Randy Blythe stepped in for a couple of verses!) and all the better for it.
Drudkh - They Often See Dreams About the Spring
There are a cartful of jokes to be made about the nature-obsessed, agriculturally-inclined Drudkh getting stuck in a rut with their last few records, A Handful of Stars, The Eternal Turn of the Wheel, and A Furrow Cut Short, and then breaking free of it with the incredible comeback of They Often See Dreams About the Spring, but I’m not the one to make it. Drudkh seem pretty aware of the mess they made with those records, and some hesitancy creeps into this latest effort that both highlights and downplays the significance of this return to form. It’s a bit like Thrice Woven last year in that it’s a Drudkh record through-and-through, restoring all the old hallmarks of their sound that we haven’t since Microcosmos, over a decade ago: folksy melodies rendered in blast-and-tremolo instrumentation. It updates and integrates the tonal experiments they had so much trouble nailing down on Stars and Furrow; as an album, however, it gets in and out in a way that’s unusual for a band that historically prefers to take their time crafting and sustaining a mood. But this problem only arises at the very beginning and the very end. They Often See Dreams About the Spring is a shockingly consistent and elegant record, and the fact that it has a mood at all, and an engaging one at that, makes up for the turgidity of the last three records in an instant and opens a refreshing new chapter for Drudkh.
Rivers of Nihil - Where Owls Know My Name
It took me longer to warm up to this record than to The Conscious Seed of Light or Monarchy, but now that I’ve settled in, I appreciate its occasionally forced growth spurts for what they are: necessary. Rivers of Nihil have always played more intelligently than their contemporaries in Fallujah, Black Crown Initiate, etc., even if they’re not as technically astute or possessed of the same production resources; they understand that the song comes first, and that that will carry them, but also that it’s hard to be original in metal. Where Owls Know My Name is a roomier, refined take on the mildly progressive, djent-flavored death metal of their last two records (and despite persistent use of the label by music journalists, there’s nothing tech about it), but what everyone’s talking about is the saxophone. Ever since Ihsahn demonstrated the instrument’s potential on After, I’ve thought it would make a worthy addition to the genre, and it’s great to see Rivers of Nihil picking up what he put down, even if the sax occasionally winds up no more than that: added, not integrated. The band’s not always sure what to do with it, and the arrival of the sax sometimes causes the rest of the band to neuter themselves into simple plucking and whooshy soundscapes. For some, these interruptions translate to pacing.” But you can’t fault them when they succeed, like on the glorious, heartrending “A Home,” “Subtle Change,” and title track. Moments like these makes up for any other deficiencies tenfold.
Intercourse - Everything is Pornography When You’ve Got An Imagination
Intercourse are the scummy stuff that grows where Daughters, Coalesce, See You Next Tuesday, and some sweaty, salty sass band from the early ’00’s meet, and Everything Is Pornography… is a spontaneous, freehand blend of grind and hardcore that functions in two-minute spurts of activity with no endgame and a boozy, dogged energy; they couldn’t hide that they’re from New Haven, Connecticut if they tried. But Intercourse consider themselves MUSIC FOR ALIENS MADE BY MUTANTS according to their Bandcamp, and there’s probably no better or more succinct description of what this record sound like than that. This album taught me that I am a beta cuck and I have learned no lesson more valuable in 2018.
Nightmarer - Cacophony of Terror
Nightmarer was formed by alumni of War From A Harlots Mouth, The Ocean, and Gigan and is recommended for fans of Deathspell Omega, Portal, and Ulsect, so you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into until “Stahlwald” enters, and then you know. Cacophony of Terror is as apt a title as Chasm was for their debut EP (one of whose songs, “Ceremony of Control,” slots neatly into this album’s back half): it’s a brutalist skyscraper in the city of avant-garde death metal, an edifice of bolted Stygian riffs and precise, militaristic rhythms that buckles the earth around it and puts everything in shadow. This thing is a monster and there are no seams or zippers to suggest it’s anything but. It just lends itself to that kind of hyperbole; study the cover for a moment and you’ll see it depicts a bunch of skull blown into fragments, splinters of jawbone here and a bit of optic canal there, against a void of light. I doubt we’ll see artwork for any album more representative of the music than this for the rest of 2018. And, because Portal was mentioned, it must be said: Cacophony of Terror absolutely demolishes Ion.
Will Haven - Muerte
I've had a contentious relationship with Will Haven, finding most of their discography either frustrating or bland, with no median until Open the Mind to Discomfort. It made a promise the band have made good on in a spectacular way with Muerte, which sees them finally accepting what they are: a sludge band with a metalcore vocalist. Muerte moves like crude oil, profoundly bleak and single-minded in its intent to dwarf and then pulverize everything in its path with riffs big and ugly enough to put The Acacia Strain and Kowloon Walled City in the shade. But it’s a guest appearance that clarifies what Will Haven have become. Mike Scheidt of YOB lends his fluey, unsettling voice to “No Escape” in a way that should offer reprieve; he’s singing, not screaming, and yet it feels as if a trapdoor has opened and we’ve fallen into an even deeper cesspool than we imagined, surrounded by the slimy walls of “43” and “Unit K”; ahead, only the pyrotechnics of “El Sol” (which finds Stephen Carpenter of Deftones, long-time friends of Will Haven, in rare form; he crunches through a bevy of Meshuggah-worthy riffs like it’s nothing at all. Blowing off steam from the Gore sessions?). In the American Metalcore Project entry on Starkweather’s Cross Burner, I tossed off the term “Starkweathercore,” but there’s really no better descriptor for Muerte: it’s an album steeped in the virtues of that band’s early discography, and I couldn’t happier that I ignored my inclination to give up on Will Haven. Muerte leads the charge for metalcore in 2018, and if they continue in this vein, well - I want to be there for their Croatoan.
The Fever 333- “Made An America”
Stream the EP and/or buy merch here.
Last Independence Day, in the parking lot of Randy’s Donuts in California, three musicians performed a 12 minute exhibition that was nothing short of exhilarating. These men are Jason Aalon Butler (ex-letlive.,) Stevis Harrison (ex-The Chariot,) and Arin Improta (Night Verses). What they publicly debuted on this day was more than a band: it was a political movement. Since then, the group has dropped three tracks, two of which were performed at Randy’s Donuts. On March 23rd, 2018, out of the blue, they dropped their debut EP, Made An America.
Despite all the starpower and talent, I wasn’t as excited as I’d hoped to be with these singles. The passion and talent is there, with each song presenting some very unique ideas, but they’re all under three minutes, leaving a lot to be desired. However, they make more sense in the context of Made An America. Sonically, The Fever 333 experiments with a few different styles. Tracks like “Made An America” and “Walking in My Shoes” show an alternative rock style that is very reminiscent of Linkin Park with a bit more of a punk-punch. “Made An America” makes an especially great introduction; more than any other, it says The Fever are here to stay. Then you have “We’re Coming In” and “Soul’d Me Out,” which are abrasive, fast hardcore tracks that will get the room moshing in seconds. “Soul’d Me Out” is easily my favorite of the collection of tracks, and definitely the one I recommend if you are a fan of these gentlemen’s other bands. This track is as crazy as this EP gets. “Hunting Season” is a bit more of an industrial rock track that incorporates some hardcore elements; it’s a slowburner, but the chorus is very much worth it. This EP caps off with “P.O.V.,” which is an unusual, industrial hip-hop track that is just as punchy as the hardcore tracks. This is probably the style the group experimented with that I am the most interested in seeing develop on future releases; it’s a unique departure from each of their previous projects. The fact that it works so well here shows that they definitely can do more with the style.
On a lyrical level, Jason Butler is here to take a stance. He did this on letlive.’s last LP, If I’m the Devil, and he brings his views to The Fever 333 even more bluntly. Instead of lyrics like “Although my brother is sleeping with our greatest enemy/We still love him like we did when we were kids./But if another of my brothers meets that reaper early,/There will be nothing that can stop revolution,” which are performed with a touch of elegance, Jason sings lyrics like “So let me tell you about/Where all my people from/Where all my people from/We're living hand to mouth/And dying by the gun” with pure and relentless anger. This project reminds me why Jason is both one of my favorite vocalists as well as lyricists. He’s been a lot more upfront about his politics recently, and we see so much of his personality come out in his performances. He writes directly from experience and ties them to an emotional point. Arin’s drumming is just as expressive, switching up between authentic drums and electronic, providing different flavors. I would be lying if I said Stevis didn’t leave a bit to be desired for, though. There are moments on these songs where the guitars just seem to be absent, and it feels like something’s missing over a choice of artistic direction.
The worst part of this entire EP is the third track, “(The First Stone) Changes,” which features Yelawolf. The moment I saw he was on this track, I knew it wasn’t going to be very good, and oh boy, was it not. His feature does absolutely nothing, and the song itself sounds like a mediocre, run-of-the-mill rap rock track, or Periphery’s “The Parade of Ashes” off the Clear EP, but that track had precisely the fire that this track lacks, although it pays lip service in the chorus. In fact, every other track on this EP has it; just not this one.
Despite my love for the title-track and “Soul’d Me Out,” no track on Made An America feels complete. Even so, I am still interested in what’s to come for The Fever 333. Aside from the third track, each of these songs present solid ideas that Jason, Arin, and Stevis can tinker with to craft some really solid tracks. Made An America, more than anything else, is a teaser. The first sparks of a revolution. Once they tighten up as a band, which I feel they already have after their latest performance on Last Call with Carson Daly, they will be something ferocious. Until then, if you have been a fan of any member’s previous works, go into this with an open mind. You just might get something out of it, like I did.
VERDICT: Made An America lets us know there’s a fever coming, and we should embrace what’s to come.
- Alex Brown
2. The Moaning, Blood From Stone (1997)
For a bit of background on The Side Gallery, a five-part weekly column about underappreciated melodic death metal, go here - and don't forget to check out last week's entry, "Splenium for Nyktophobia" by Uncanny!
Strictly speaking, very little about The Moaning or their 1997 album Blood From Stone is unique. I would consider them part of a class of bands, including Unanimated and A Canorous Quintet that took the death metal part of the Swedish melodeath metal format as far as it could go before the Gothenburg template took over and drove it to extinction. This is to say that, like those bands, The Moaning are clearly a death metal band first and foremost; they just happen to also not shy away from upbeat dual-guitar harmonies, which distinguishes them among their contemporaries, but doesn’t define them.
Sonically, it’s a step removed from Uncanny and closer to what we more readily recognize as melodeath today. The Moaning bear more than a passing resemblance to Gothenburg’s great outsider, Dissection, in the way they wed sweepingly epic minor-key shred to galloping rhythms and a lyrical bent toward the morbid; shades of The Somberlain make their way into “Of Darkness I Breed” and into “Dreams In Black,” the album’s longest and most fluid compositions. Unfortunately, the nuances of their music (admittedly few, but there!) can get lost in the the production, which seems to mix the drums and guitars equally. It’s a bizarre move for a genre that depends so much on its riffs, and reminds me of the “necro” sound so many second-wave Norwegian black metal bands were pursuing at this time. It’s sometimes hard to discern what The Moaning’s guitarists are doing over the cymbals, making this a more challenging listen than most other melodeath of the time.
But, once you’ve made peace with that flaw, it’s not difficult to see that The Moaning are accomplished musicians who seem to genuinely enjoy the music they play. Despite lyrics about grief, “mental shadowzones,” and escalating levels of pain (Invisible pain? “Still Born.” Unspeakable pain? “Dying Eternal Embers.” Everlasting pain? “Dark Reflections.”), their vision of this then-burgeoning genre was to approach it like rock n’ roll, beating Carcass at the game they played on Swan Songs just the year before: Blood From Stone is all about its high-octane riffs and ghoulish energy, leaving little room for acoustics or clean singing. The vocals may occasionally lapse into spoken-word or even interjections of punkish shouting, but these instances are few and far between; the album is dominated by a shrill gargle that, if sometimes over-the-top, is quintessentially melodeath, and it rarely lets up.
Like its cover art, which depicts an offering of skulls at the foot of some demonic statue in a moonlit forest, picking up an album like Blood From Stone can feel like stumbling into a well-kept secret. Discovering an entire cache of excellent melodeath songs heard by few is undeniably exciting; it’s a privilege to be privy to what others have overlooked or forgotten. If for no other reason than that simple little thrill, check out The Moaning’s only full-length, and stay for the diversion from your 3,000th listen to Slaughter of the Soul and Storm of the Light’s Bane. You owe it to yourself.