Interview: Oblivionized

On the 18th of February 2014 Oblivionized rolled through London to play The Unicorn in Camden as a part of their UK tour with Cowards. We sat down in the back of their van for a chat about the band’s recent activities. Our questions are highlighted in bold.

First of all how’s the album going? Have you finished recording?

Zac: So the album is about 90% done. I got a cold early on and I came back to do vocals, did about 4 songs and it wasn’t good so I’m going to be doing the rest after the tour. We did it at Vagrant Recordings with Tom Dring who’s the drummer from Corrupt Moral Altar. It’s the same place where we did the Confine record. The guitars and drums are already done. Will did the drums in like a day and a half and Sammy did the guitars in one day and smashed it. We did each song in 3 takes through different amps and just layered the guitars to get a nice tone.

I’ve gotta say the man’s on a mission. How many bands is he in now?

Zac: Sammy’s in 3 touring bands now and we’re not even mentioning all the secret projects he has going on where he’s recording everything at home. So Regurgitate Life will be touring soon, Employed to Serve are already touring as frequently as we are and then there’s obviously us.

You guys have a pretty hectic schedule. How do you cope with it all? Is it simply a case that you tour because you enjoy it?

Zac: Yeah it’s just fun. When I haven’t played a show for a while I feel a bit meh and I just feel like I need to get something out of my system. When we first started we did a show and then it became the main reason to do what we’re doing and most of the stuff I do is for music anyway. We’re touring almost every day this month. Last year we did 50 odd shows.

How do you guys cope financially? Is it easy to get by doing so many free shows like tonight’s?

Zac: Nah, the only way we get by financially is between the 3 of us we do some extra work on the side. Will teaches drums. Sammy does landscaping work and freelance. I sell graphics, freelance and do a bit of bar work. Financially we can usually cover all our touring costs but it’ll get to a point when you’re more determined to just go and fucking do it instead of make money. I’ve never considered doing this to make money. I’d rather save all my money and blow it all on tour. I realise that’s not going to continue to work in the long run and when you tour the amount that we do it can definitely be hard, but its worth it to experience some of the stuff we have.

That’s a good attitude man and I’m glad there’s people out there that care that much to just go and play.

Zac: Oh me too man. I was talking about this earlier but we did a tour with Human Cull back in early 2012 and we started in London and did 8 UK shows. In all of those gigs we played to like 50 people in total. One show had a secret headliner which brought in a big audience but most of the shows we were playing to like 4 or 5 people and it made me feel like I didn’t want to do it, but if I don’t keep doing this I won’t get to experience what it’s like to succeed. Eventually if you keep going more people will turn up but you’ve just gotta keep at it.

If you don’t give yourself the exposure you’ll never earn fans.

Zac: Exactly. Nobody gave a fuck about us at the time but it’s got better. Eventually the longer you keep at it people will start to come to shows. I’m never gonna live a rock and roll lifestyle but if we can ever earn some money from it so I can afford the rent or whatever then great.

I wanted to talk about the recent What You Have Become compilation, in particular the title track. Is that going to be on the album?

Zac: That’s not gonna be on the album. We have a bit of a joke between us…

Will: [Will jumps in the van] What’s going on in here?

Zac: Oh we’re just doing an interview. If we’re unsure about something then we test stuff to see how it goes. So that track was like a shoegaze track which Sammy wrote.

I was going to say, is that Sammy on vocals?

Zac: Yeah that’s Sammy singing and he did all the electronics. It was a bit of fun and it’s why we did it on that small run of CDs which were all hand made.

It was cool to hear and it reminded me of Nullify the Cycle.

Zac: On the album we actually have a slower song called I Pity You. It’s a really big sounding song. It doesn’t have clean vocals though. I wanted to get some on the album but there wasn’t enough time to make it all work. Eventually we’ll do a clean vocal track on an upcoming release.

So what’s coming up next?

Zac: After the tour we’ve got a couple of gigs coming up. What are we doing after the tour Will?

Will: Doing a music video in March. Finishing off the album, writing new material as we’re really keen to write new stuff now the album’s done. The album’s good but we can definitely improve so let’s write some more stuff!

I was gonna say, you guys had some line-up changes in your early days but you seem comfortable with the current the line-up.

Zac: Oh we hate each other. We’re making so much money from touring that we can’t get on with each other [laughs]

Will: We’ve got a really bad coke habit.

Zac: My Mum’s in tears every time she sees me.

Will: [in a shrill voice] “Why are you in a band!?”

Zac: My mum’s like, “why don’t you work in retail like everyone else!?” [laughs] and I’m like, “no bitch! Life’s a struggle! Song reference!” I get all Lamb of God on her. But yeah, doing a music video and we’ve got some more gigs. We’re playing Deadbeat Festival which is a charity festival which should be good. In April we’re going to Europe with Human Cull as we’re still touring the split we did with them.

Zac: The album won’t be out until later in the year once we can get a label to put it out. In June we’re going to the States with Plague Widow to tour the This Black Earth split. That’s everything that’s currently definite. What most people don’t realise is that for every tour that goes ahead successfully there’s about 5 or 6 that never happen.

Thanks to Zac and Will for taking the time to talk to us.


Review: Iced Out’s Jukai

Durham noise-mongers Iced Out return for another round of sludgy hardcore and their first new material since last March’s split with Razoreater. This is their new 7” EP ‘Jukai’, released through Church of Fuck and Moshtache Records and it marks a noticeable shift in the band’s sound.

The key elements of Iced Out’s special blend of crusty hardcore are still here but what you’ll notice from the very beginning of ‘Life Through a Mask’ is that Iced Out have significantly slowed down the pace of their music which brings to mind Cancer Bats’ ‘Dead Set on Living’. The buzzsaw, HM-2 guitar tone is still there and vocalist Chippy is still belching his way over the band’s music, but the slower pace brings an almost sludge metal vibe to the band’s sound which is akin to bands like Gurt and label mates Trudger.

‘Jukai’ sticks with its focus on slower tempos through each of the EP’s four songs and it makes it more apparent as to what is so brilliant about the band’s music. You can’t help but focus in on guitarist Adam Kennedy’s simple yet bruising riffs. It was apparent Kennedy was a talented guitarist on the band’s previous releases, but when the music is laid out so bare you can really appreciate just how monolithic the guitarist can sound. Backed with the thunderous bass work of Matthew Marko and the calculated yet punishing drumming of Andrew Hartley, Iced Out have never sounded so big.

An EP highlight comes in the form of closer ‘Some Kind of Plague’ which trudges along with a huge, doom-like stomp. Just as you feel like the song is winding down, Kennedy’s abrasive guitar work explodes back into action with a riff that will likely snap your neck if given enough time. It’s wonderful to hear how something as simple as changing the tempo can create such devastating moments like these.

Special mention also has to given to the consistent production work of Joe No Studio who is becoming a Church of Fuck mainstay. The man channels GodCity Studio and Kurt Ballou’s production style which gives the raucous noise enough room to breathe. The mix allows you focus in on every layer of the song’s structure but manages to keep the rawness of the band’s Entombed-like atmosphere intact. Put simply, Iced Out have never sounded this good.

Once again Iced Out manage to bottle pure fury and put it on record. The shift in atmosphere that is brought about by the slower-paced songs suits the oppressive nature of the band’s music perfectly and creates some absolutely crushing anthems of despair. Iced Out have proven that there’s more to this band than straight-forward hardcore and ‘Jukai’ marks a huge evolution for them. If you get a chance to see the band perform this material in a live environment then make sure to wear a neck brace because with riffs this big you might do yourself some serious damage.

8/10

Iced Out’s ‘Jukai’ will be out mid-April through Church of Fuck and Moshtache Records.


Review: Employed to Serve’s Change Nothing, Regret Everything

If you’ve been following UK Scumscene closely for these last two years then I’m sure you’ll already know who Employed to Serve are. We’ve been big fans of the band’s first two EPs but if you’re new to them then allow me to reiterate. Employed to Serve started as a studio project by Justine Jones and Sammy Urwin but soon expanded into a full line-up so the band could tour. Their latest EP ‘Change Nothing, Regret Everything’ is their first recorded material featuring their full line-up and plays out in a similar mathcore fashion to their previous work, so expect a sound similar to that of The Dillinger Escape Plan, Botch and Converge.

The main thing you’ll notice about this record is how utterly ferocious Employed to Serve sound with live drums driving the action. The whole record sounds much more organic now the band have Robbie Black’s hard-hitting yet scrappy drumming in the mix. It really lights up songs like the re-recording of ‘Perfect Smiles and Crooked Teeth’.

The mix has also been stripped back to showcase a sound that’s as true to a live recording as possible. There’s no bells and whistles randomly scattered about the place on this EP; this really does sound like four guys and one gal going absolutely ape-shit and dragging you along for the ride.

Another big change is how the vocals on this EP are entirely screamed. Justine sounds even more pissed off than usual and her performance is absolutely electrifying in the process. It’s a shame that Sammy’s haunting singing doesn’t return to help diversify the record slightly, but this is a minor complaint that merely marks a “what if?” scenario that we’ve painted in our minds. The important thing is the band are evolving and trying new things which gives ‘Change Nothing, Regret Everything’ an identity of its own.

Speaking of Sammy, the guitarist is on absolutely top form. Riffs are always monolithic and hugely inventive. The guitar work twists and turns with the complex structure of the songs and some amazing material is on display in songs like ‘You Looked Forever’ which continually expands before it explodes into a huge hardcore riff that brings the whole EP to a satisfying end.

Employed to Serve are on top of their game and continue to be one of the most exciting bands in the UK right now. Their sound continues to evolve into a much larger, more technical beast and the band know how to maximise on huge riffs and interesting song structures to keep their audience engaged whilst smashing their faces through their nearest wall. This is an intense and fairly progressive record that deserves a place in your record collection.

8/10

Employed to Serve’s ‘Change Nothing, Regret Everything’ is released on 12″ vinyl through Holy Roar Records on March 31st 2014.


Review: The Idol Dead’s Dark Little Hearts

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The Idol Dead are one of the best examples I’ve seen in recent years for not judging a book by its cover. Their second album ‘Dark Little Hearts’ features a rock ‘n’ roll cliché on the cover (woman being pleasured), their band logo uses a pre-existing font and is type-set like ‘tHE iDoL DeaD’ and the promotional photos of the band included in the booklet make them look like Green Day circa 2004. Their album artwork looks like it was put together by a friend with no prior art experience but when you listen to the thing you soon realise that the naff packaging is hiding a rather polished slab of punk rock.

The Idol Dead sound like a cross between A, The Offspring and Feeder which means their sound is all about big riffs and bigger choruses. ‘Dark Little Hearts’ is stuffed full of infectious melodies and plenty of Dexter Holland-eque whoas to give crowds something to sing back at the band. It’s also bolstered by a nice, bright production job which compliments the bouncy, up-beat nature of the record but doesn’t compromise the satisfying chunkiness of the band’s riffs.

Album highlights come in the form of the high energy Offspring-a-like ‘Bad Fiction’ which explodes off the starting line and doesn’t let up for the whole 2 and half minutes. Massive, head-banging riffs are also delivered in songs like ‘Six Feet Under’ and the slightly more downbeat ‘You Don’t Know’. The band know exactly how to maximise on their contagious melodies and even if they’re nothing technically proficient you’ll have a hard time not enjoying the pure fun-factor the band deliver.

Even when the typical rock ballad rolls around in the form of ‘I’m Drowning’ the band still manage to fill it with great melodies and a unnecessarily catchy chorus. The addition of female vocals also adds a nice bit of variety to the testosterone filled record and the whole thing is topped off with a brilliant guitar solo. The Idol Dead have got this song-writing thing nailed.

There is a problem with ‘Dark Little Hearts’ though; you’ve heard it all before. Punk rock is an over-saturated scene that is desperate for a shot of originality, but The Idol Dead can’t deliver it. The band never pull out any surprises and the songs are generally all the same tempo and follow the same structure. This is not to say that The Idol Dead haven’t written a great collection of songs, it’s just that by the half-way point you’ve pretty much heard everything the band are offering.

Regardless, if you’re looking for a punk rock record loaded with great melodies and riffs then The Idol Dead have got you covered. ‘Dark Little Hearts’ is a solid punk record that sounds absolutely huge despite having a hard time offering something original. If The Idol Dead released this record back when Green Day were releasing ‘American Idiot’ then they would have given the band a real run for their money, but in 2014 the band really need to find something else to give them an edge in a considerably over-populated market.

7/10

The Idol Dead’s ‘Dark Little Hearts’ is out now and available to buy directly from the band.


Review: TEEF’s Demo

TEEF make a rather brilliant, lairy form of hardcore punk that takes cues from power violence to form a right oiky racket that will be bothering your neighbours in no time. The band hail from Brighton and deliver their first release in the form of an 8 track demo with songs no longer than a minute in length.

For a demo release TEEF are certainly sounding pretty accomplished so early into their career. The production work is exemplary throughout and gives the crusty, filthy nature of their music a lovely raw edge that is always clear despite the aggressive nature of the music.

With this being a purely screamed affair, the band use their guitar work to bring all the melody to their songs which is executed masterfully. Every song features a satisfyingly chunky riff that bounces along in harmony with the drums to create an atmosphere that will make the calmest individual want to tear heads off and kick them around a mosh pit. There’s nothing quite like a nice bit of mosh-punk and TEEF have certainly got you covered on this release.

A real highlight comes in the form of ‘Regret’ which includes my favourite lyric on the whole demo thanks to the no-nonsense writing from Lloyd Denman (it includes the words “fucking” and “wanker”). What the song does so well is marry classic punk guitar work with a more modern metal stomp. It’s just so wonderfully gratifying to listen that you can’t help but listen with a big, creepy grin on your face. However you might be punching the wall at the same time.

The only real negative we can throw at TEEF is that outside some black metal blast-beats, the band aren’t really doing anything original. This is a bit of a null point though because punk is rarely known for its forward-thinking ideas and unique concepts, but certain listeners might want a little more from the band than what’s on offer.

Regardless, TEEF make an absolute racket and they deliver it in such an entertaining way that you’ll want to start mosh-pits with whoever you can find on the street. Even though their debut release doesn’t even make it to 7 minutes you’ll have a hard time finding something so satisfactory and barbaric. TEEF have delivered a visceral slab of hardcore that absolutely hits the spot and I hope to see more of their work appearing on as many underground punk splits as possible.

8/10

TEEF’s debut demo is available to download at a pay-what-you-want price now. It can also be grabbed on a limited edition gold cassette from Headless Guru Records.


News: Basick Records Announce Vinyl Releases for SikTh and Circles Albums

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Basick Records will release SikTh’s ‘Death of a Dead Day’ and Circles’ ‘Infinitas’ on vinyl for the first time this Record Store Day. Both records are double LP releases with 3 tracks per side.

Record Store Day takes place on April 19th. A full list of participating stores can be found by clicking here.

SikTh return for their first live show since 2008 at Download Festival on the 14th of June where they headline the Red Bull stage.


Touring: Send More Paramedics Announce London Show

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Send More Paramedics have announced a London show as a part of their farewell tour. The show takes place at the Camden Barfly on May 10th. Tickets are £12 in advance.

Send More Paramedics formed in 2001 and play a form of punk-influenced thrash metal which is complimented by a zombie theme. The band released 3 albums through In At The Deep End Records which are all still available from the label’s webstore. You should probably associate yourselves with those records now if you haven’t already.


Review: Zoltar Speaks’ Save As I Save

Zoltar Speaks are a metal band from Somerset that fuse a sound similar to that of Avenged Sevenfold with a more modern streak that brings to mind Panic Cell and Lamb of God. The difference is the band favour singing instead of screaming and their vocalist Louise Body definitely takes some cues from In This Moment’s Maria Brink. The band released their debut album ‘Save As I Save’ at the tail-end of last year and now they’re gearing up to give it a wider release in April.

‘Save As I Save’ is formed from a nice blend of modern and classic metal that is lead by the accomplished guitar work of Daniel Pratt and Jason Coles. The two guitarists become the most enjoyable element of the band’s sound and it’s clear that they have the ability to deliver a great series of thrashy riffs. Songs like ‘I’m Coming’ and ‘Cannot Be’ are also given some rather impressive solos which really set them apart from a lot of the other songs on the record.

Outside of the extremely polished guitar work we start to enter some problems. The main issue that plagues ‘Save As I Save’ is it all sounds a bit flat. Vocalist Louise Body is nothing special to listen to and while she can certainly hold a note she often finds her comfort zone and sticks with it. This means a lot of higher range melodies that all sound very similar from song to song. The real problem with Body’s voice is when she decides to scream. Body sounds like a woman doing an impression of a metal scream and the noise that comes from her mouth sounds like it’s coming from her throat and not her diaphragm. It’s not a pleasant noise to listen to and if she really is using her throat then she’s going to cause herself some damage in the future.

The real casualty of the album’s rather limp delivery is Simon Roocroft’s bass which is so low in the mix you can barely hear it. ‘Save As I Save’ is a record that could desperately use a heavy dosage of bass to help punctuate the riffs and the drum work to make the whole listening experience feel brighter and more energetic. What you get instead is an album that’s under-produced, one-dimensional and delivered in the most passable way possible.

Zoltar Speaks are clearly a group of fairly talented musicians because outside some unnecessary metalcore chugga-chuggas like in ‘I Can, I Can’t’ there is a fair amount of decent melodies, riffs and and solos on offer throughout their debut album ‘Save As I Save’. Their main problem is their rather mediocre delivery which lacks the power and intensity that a lot of their peers are managing. This leads to an unfortunate vibe of averageness that means ‘Save As I Save’ will likely get listened to once and then stuck on a shelve for many years to collect dust.

5/10

Zoltar Speaks’ ‘Save As I Save’ is out now and available to buy on CD direct from the band.


Review: Cholera’s Plagiarised Hope

Cholera have come a long way since their début. Formed under the name Hades, the band were Church of Fuck’s first signing back in 2012. After some line-up changes the band reformed under the name Cholera and released their ‘Egotism’ EP later in the year. Now after a year of further fine-tuning and another member change the band return with their most powerful and focussed record yet. This is ‘Plagiarised Hope’ and it’s an absolute beast of a hardcore EP.

This new 7” EP is all over in under 11 minutes and it packs as much ferocity and anguish you possibly could into those 11 minutes. The band clearly draw influence from bands like Full of Hell, Trap Them and even Church of Fuck alumni like Esoteric Youth and Iced Out. This is a huge melting pot of hardcore, black metal and power violence that quite simply assaults the senses from the get-go.

One of the highlights comes in the form of ‘Anonymous’ which manages to cram all these ideas into a single song with a horrible, noise-ridden outro to round everything off nicely (or horribly depending on how you look at it).

Cholera clearly appreciate the need for a solid riff to bolster their absolutely frantic playing style and songs like ‘Raped’ succeed in offering a real neck-bothering riff that punches you in the gut Entombed-style.

Other great inclusions come with the wonderfully blackened tremolo-picking in ‘Swelling’ and ‘Eyeless’ which definitely showcase the Esoteric Youth influences on the band’s sound. Hardcore fans will have a lot to like on this record and Cholera sound tighter and more accomplished than ever.

If anything the only real negative we can throw at the record is that the UK is home to a considerably large number of these so called ‘Entombed-core’ bands and despite Cholera’s obvious proficiency for writing brilliant hardcore songs they aren’t really offering anything new and it would be easy to confuse them with bands like Razoreater or End Reign.

So Cholera aren’t particularly original but so what? ‘Plagiarised Hope’ is an absolutely stunning 7” that takes all the best parts of modern hardcore and delivers an immensely satisfying slab of chaos. If you have any interest in the genre then Cholera make an excellent starting point and ‘Plagiarised Hope’ showcases a hugely accomplished sound that highlights the best parts of the scene. Cholera have never sounded so strong.

8/10

Cholera’s ‘Plagiarised Hope’ is out this month on Church of Fuck and Holy Ground Records.


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