Review: Pariso and Svalbard’s Self-Titled Split Album

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Pariso and Svalbard return for a release that is truly unique among hardcore splits; this is a collaborative album with both bands contributing a set of songs as well as joining forces for 2 very unique tracks that showcase a beautiful cacophony of styles that draw from the best parts of both band’s sounds.

Pariso lead the proceedings on this split and the band have decided to play in a lower tuning than usual to make their sound even more difficult to pigeonhole. Pariso make a form of progressive hardcore that brings in elements of groove metal that result in crushing breakdowns like the one featured in Underground Notes. If you can imagine Hatebreed by way of Korn and Every Time I Die you’d be in the sort of area you’d need to be in to appreciate Pariso’s incredibly unique sound.

I’ve joked in the past that Pariso are the founders of nu-grind but thanks to the band’s lower tuning this is becoming less of a joke and actually the only genre I can think that suits them perfectly, especially in regards to these recordings. The opening of Delirium also abides to this rule by featuring a relentless grindcore-esque blast-beat that only gives up to deal another punishing groove.

What Pariso are becoming very good at is interspersing their noise with some brilliant leads that actually help deliver a lot of melody. This was brought into the fold during the writing of their previous album Consanguinity and it’s great to see it used prominently in songs like Helios, The Great Demise.

Now onto Svalbard who despite having a sound rooted in hardcore are somewhat different to Pariso. Svalbard’s sound draws from punk far more heavily than Pariso’s and the no-nonsense opening of Ripped Apart delivers an awesome punk beat that soon expands into a post hardcore sound that is far more melodic in nature.

Svalbard’s music is wonderfully textured and features some absolutely soaring leads that add a sense of euphoria and positivity that’s at juxtaposition with the band’s aggressive nature. The band reminds us of gone-but-not-forgotten post rockers Rinoa but with the hardcore punk leanings of a band like Vales. It’s quite a beautiful racket.

Like Pariso before them Svalbard are another underground UK band who have absolutely nailed a sound of their own and despite their longer songs the band also manage to sound like they’re giving it their all for the entirety of their music. Grayscale is mind-bogglingly intense but it still manages to fit some glittery leads into its near 5 minute hardcore punk attack and it’s an exhausting yet brilliant post hardcore anthem.

Finally it’s important we discuss the collaborative tracks on this split. While the two songs (Floating Anchors and Faceless) clearly draw on elements from both bands’ music, it’s Pariso who seem to be making the decisions in regards to the songs’ structure. Both tracks are shorter 2 minute bursts of extremely progressive metallic hardcore with the only discernible Svalbard elements being the melodic guitar leads and the inclusion of Serena on vocals as well as Mazz.

Regardless of the fact that the amalgamation comes off more as Pariso instead of Pariso and Svalbard, this collaborative album is an incredibly special release from two very unique bands. Pariso’s heavier yet more metal-laden beginning leads into a more positive and melodic second half courtesy of Svalbard that actually feels like the album takes you on a journey through the dark and into the light. This split actually tries to break down the boundaries of the split record concept by showcasing two bands that are very much on the same page regardless of their differences in sound. This could have been a Loutallica but thankfully it’s a wholesome and focussed release that any fan of heavy music should be listening to.

8/10

Pariso and Svalbard’s split self-titled album is out now on 12″ vinyl through Tangled Talk Records.


Review: Grey Widow’s I

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Grey Widow could be classified as a UK underground metal super-group as the band has been formed from past members of Dopefight, Parole, Thread and The Ergon Carousel. That’s some serious pedigree. Not only that but the band’s debut album has been recorded and mastered by none other than Sam Thredder of Slabdragger. It’s no surprise to learn that Grey Widow’s music is that of the doom variety and the band have seen fit to litter their sound with elements of black metal and sludge.

At only 8 tracks long but close to an hour in length, Grey Widow have created a selection of down-tuned, slow tempo arrangements that are loaded with groove. The thing you notice almost instantly is how thick and dense the guitar work is with each chord sounding like it’s being run through twelve distortion pedals and a bowl of treacle. The result is a signature sound that is enormous to behold.

Thankfully the band’s sound is also bolstered by some brilliant riffs. The fuzzy barrage of chords is an absolute assault on the ears and the band has seen fit to make sure the guitar is at the forefront of the mix. This was an enlightened choice because the guitar and bass carry the entirety of the band’s melody with vocals being screamed exclusively.

This is where the black metal influences permeate Grey Widow’s sound because the duel vocal attack changes between a higher-pitched, blackened howl and a lower-pitched, hardcore bark. The vocals actually manage to create a bleak and oppressive atmosphere instead of delivering further melody and it’s quite an interesting approach for metal vocals.

Sadly, Grey Widow suffer from an unfortunate issue that is all too common in doom metal; there simply isn’t enough variety on display. Every song is the same tempo and adheres to the same structure and the guitar tone and tuning simply never changes. This has the rather negative result of making every song sound far too similar and it’s extremely difficult to remember key songs (this also isn’t helped by the fact that each song is titled with a roman numeral).

I realise criticising doom metal for being formulaic is a bit ironic seeing as that’s the exact foundations the entire genre is built on, but Grey Widow’s I becomes a bit of a slog to listen to. Because of the dense guitar tone every riff merges into one and the whole listening experience drifts by without any real milestone moments.

Grey Widow have all the right elements to be a great band. They have devastating riffs, a huge sound, textured vocals and a seriously foreboding atmosphere, but the repetitive nature of their music lets them down. If Grey Widow can work on making their music a little more dynamic then their next release could be a seriously impressive offering. They don’t even have to do much; a quiet refrain or a change in time signature could give their music some stand out moments that help diversify the songs. We’ll definitely be keeping a close eye on what the band do next.

7/10

Grey Widow’s I is out now and available to purchase direct from the band.


Review: Freeze the Atlantic’s Freeze the Atlantic

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Freeze the Atlantic have been through some key line-up changes since their debut album Speakeasy. Even though Sean Shreeve had joined the band on bass duties by the time Speakeasy was released, it was actually Jon Pearce who wrote and recorded all the bass on that release. Freeze the Atlantic’s self-titled follow-up is actually Shreeve’s first written material with the band. Freeze the Atlantic have also had a change in vocalist with Chris Knott being replaced by previous guest vocalist Liv Puente who appeared on Volcanoes from Speakeasy and previously found fame with Laruso.

So how has this affected Freeze the Atlantic’s sound on their latest self-titled album? Musically, the band sound more wholesome and a tad more aggressive. Andy Gilmour and Tom Stevens’ guitar tone is considerably rawer and throaty which makes for a more satisfying crunch when the two guitarists unleash their riffs. The sound they generate is considerably closer to early Hell is for Heroes or Kill Your Own-era Hundred Reasons which is pretty fitting seeing as Gilmour was in Hundred Reasons. Riffs flow thick and fast on tracks like Welcome Back to Nibelheim and Stompbox and both guitarists have to be commended for bringing the majority of the melody to the band’s music and upping their technicality in the process. This is immensely satisfying guitar music.

The most noticeable change has to come with Puente who has a very distinctive vocal style that is more powerful than Knott’s. Puente is a great rock vocalist and he’s the perfect choice in regards to the musical shift to more direct and punchy songs.

Unfortunately Puente is also the weak link on this album. Puente’s vocals never stray out of the vocalist’s comfort zone and all of Puente’s melodies sound remarkably similar. As a vocalist, Puente isn’t particularly creative and by the end of the album’s first song you’ve already heard everything the man has to offer. This is a real shame because as previously mentioned Puente’s voice is a great fit for the band’s music.

But this isn’t Puente’s biggest problem. Over the course of the album you soon begin to notice that Puente only delivers the bare minimum in his vocal duties. This is really noticeable in songs like Occams Razor and You Drove Me to Taxidermy which contain huge passages where the vocalist simply stops singing and it often comes across as laziness. Puente never sounds passionate and every time it feels like the man should let out a roar when the music steps up a notch he simply doesn’t bother. There are so many times when the music presents a massive riff for you to head-bang to and it would sound absolutely electric with a simple vocal flourish along the lines of “urgh!” or “go!”. Idiot Check has the room for a lot of these moments but they simply never happen and the music never excites in the way it should.

Freeze the Atlantic’s self-titled sophomore album is a record stuffed with exciting, energetic and riff-heavy rock music that should have been bolstered by a strong vocal performance but what you get is a very pedestrian vocal delivery that sounds phoned in. There simply isn’t a song as well structured or as catchy as something like Broken Bones off Speakeasy and that song wouldn’t be what it is without its fantastic melody and chorus. I wouldn’t be surprised if Freeze the Atlantic’s self-titled album was written without Puente’s input and the man was brought in after the music was recorded to simply add the final touch.

What makes this even more apparent is that the song This Fight has been re-recorded after previously appearing on a Rock Sound exclusive CD. The original version was a Knott-era Freeze the Atlantic song and it’s instantly apparent because the vocal melody is more dynamic and there’s hardly any moments when the music isn’t accompanied by vocals.

Freeze the Atlantic’s self-titled album is an album of missed opportunities. All the pieces were in place for an impressive follow-up to the band’s debut album what with the music being more accomplished, but it’s let down by a lacklustre vocal performance that rarely delivers a catchy melody. Puente needs to work on sounding like he cares and delivering a performance that sounds like he’s putting his all into the band’s music. If Freeze the Atlantic can return with a more fiery performance from Puente then they’ll be onto a winner.

6/10

Freeze the Atlantic’s self-titled album is out now and available to buy from Alcopop! Records.


News: Opium Lord Announce Debut Album, Sign to Candlelight

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The doom metal behemoth that is Opium Lord have announced that they have signed to Candlelight Records for the upcoming release of their debut album The Calendrical Cycle: Eye of Earth.

While there is no exact release date for Opium Lord’s album yet, the press release is promising a release “soon” so hopefully it won’t be too long before it’s in our grubby mits.

Opium Lord released their debut EP The Calendrical Cycle – Prologue: The Healer last year and we liked it a lot. Click here to read our review and familiarise yourself with an amazing doom band.


Touring: The Rodeo Idiot Engine and Oblivionized

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A double-dose of heaviness is currently wreaking havoc across the UK. The Rodeo Idiot Engine and Scumscene favourites Oblivionized are currently touring and you’d be a fool to miss them. Check out the remaining dates below:

July
31 – The Fenton, Leeds

August
1 – London, The Unicorn
2 – Nottingham, Stuck on a Name Studios
3 – Brighton, Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar

The show at The Unicorn promises to be a special one because while it’s free entry it has a stunning bill that includes Stallone, ITHACA, Somme and Meatpacker.


News: Official Alt-Fest Announcement Due Monday

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The Alt-Fest organisers have finally spoken. In a statement on the event’s official Facebook page, the Alt-Fest organisers have promised to make a full statement by Monday the 4th of August regarding the supposed cancellation of the festival.

“Currently we are working all hours to deal with some extremely challenging & stressful issues for Alt-Fest. We will be able to provide an official statement with full information before Monday and answer any questions you may have at that time.”

The post has been inundated with responses and mostly of the negative kind. XP8 who were booked to play are claiming they have sent the festival multiple messages without response and when they finally received a response it pretty much echoes the current statement:

…we finally got a facebook message from the promoter, Dominic, last night.

in that he mentioned again what he told us in reply to our public comment to their only statement so far, and that he never got any of the 5 emails we sent him yesterday, and he also remarked that he doesn’t have any spam filters… guess those email…s just vanished into thin air.

anyway: he basically only told us in private what he/they told you all… to wait till they come up with an official statement.

that’s it, no further information whether the festival is cancelled or not, or any reasons why this is happening: this is the only FACT I can provide you – we don’t know anything yet.”

Interestingly the organisers still aren’t committing to saying the festival has been cancelled. Could this mean the event is simply downsizing? Are replacement shows being organised for ticket holders? Are the organisers stalling because they’re about to tell Kickstarter backers they won’t be refunded? I guess we’ll have the answers come Monday.


Review: Vales’ Wilt & Rise

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Vales have had a peculiar run of things since their inception. Originally known as Veils, the band seemed like they were about to explode into post hardcore super stardom with the release of the 2012 EP Clarity and then the band were threatened with a lawsuit if they didn’t change their name (this was delivered by another band of the same moniker). For the rest of the year and all of 2013 it seemed like the band had vanished off the face of the Earth. The announcement of a record deal with 6131 Records gave us hope that an album would surface soon but it wasn’t until earlier this year that the record finally revealed itself and my God was it worth the wait.

So here we are with Vales’ debut album Wilt & Rise; a 28 minute surge of emotion that grabs you by the collar and shakes you violently for its entirety. It was always apparent that Vales had great song-writing ability but Wilt & Rise takes it to places that Clarity could have only dreamed of. The thing you notice straight off the bat is that there is far more urgency to Wilt & Rise and songs like Scripted and Survival absolutely steamroller you with riffs and heart-on-sleeve screaming.

Vales’ music is deceptively progressive despite its melodic, riff-laden approach and melodies are often never revisited over the course of a song. Thankfully the riffs are hugely memorable in their own right so it’s not necessary for Vales to rely on choruses to keep their audience engaged. This is also important because vocalist Chlo Edwards is a screamer. Without this concerted effort to bring as much melody as possible to the music Vales might’ve suffered from Edwards’ insistence on harsh vocals.

Let’s talk about Edwards because her vocals are an interesting one. Edwards is one of the few blisteringly aggressive vocalists that manages to be incredibly clear and understandable despite sounding like she’s going to empty the contents of her lungs onto the audience. Edwards’ lyrics are a huge draw on Wilt & Rise and they’re often dark, forlorn and poetic which is at a wonderful juxtaposition with her raw and exhausting delivery.

Like every great post hardcore band who’s listened to Refused, Vales also employ the quiet/loud dynamic to allow for gentle disassembly in their middle-eights before smashing you around the head with another great riff. Songs like Waterfalls and Survival pull this off with devastating effect and it would be hard not to join Edwards in screaming along until your throat gives out.

It’s a great relief that Vales didn’t disappear into obscurity because with Wilt & Rise finally released on an unsuspecting audience they’ve delivered an amazing post hardcore record that truly showcases their magnificent song writing. This really feels like a new beginning for the band and long may their reign continue.

8/10

Vales’ Wilt & Rise is available now via 6131 Records and FITA Records.


News: Looks Like Alt-Fest is Cancelled

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The Kickstarted Northampton-based metal/rock festival Alt-Fest appears to have been cancelled after acts like Marylin Manson and Cradle of Filth have pulled their appearances. Rob Ferguson of Transcend Music has also reported the festival is cancelled. Furguson is responsible for several acts who were due to appear at the festival one of which was headliner Fields of Nephilim.

Alt-Fest was crowdfunded with a successful Kickstarter campaign that saw them raise £61,762 but it appears this wasn’t enough to fund all of the event’s costs.

There is currently no official word from the Alt-Fest organisers which as you can imagine is angering those who backed the festival and booked travel and accomodation in advance. As Kickstarter is not a shop, the event organisers don’t have to refund the money they raised but if they want to gain the trust of these backers for any future projects I’d recommend they pull their finger out and do the right thing.

[Source: Classic Rock]


News: Evile Postpone Shows Again, New Lead Guitarist Finally Chosen

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Evile have announced that they are delaying their shows in September because they’re not up to standard.

The band have finally chosen their new lead guitarist but this was only decided recently so the band have not had the amount of time they’d hoped for to rehearse for the September shows. These shows were already delayed and rescheduled once after Ol Drake left the band back in August last year.

Evile have also promised that an announcement regarding their new lead guitarist will happen, “in the near future”. Everyone with tickets to the rescheduled shows will still be granted entry when the new dates are announced.

Evile released their last album Skull in May 2013. As it turns out, this will be the last release under Earache Records as the band are no longer with the label or their management. I suspect a Pledge Music campaign might be around the corner.


Review: Samoans’ Rescue

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Samoans have stepped into brave new territory with the release of their debut album Rescue. Previously an alt-rock band with math-like tendencies, the band has stripped their sound back to maximise on soaring melodies and expansive riffs. The pace of their music also been dialled back to allow for slower building songs that explode into huge chord-driven grooves that are reminiscent of post rock. If bands like Deftones and *shels have ever intrigued you then you’ll certainly find yourself in a comfortable environment with Samoans’ new direction.

Songs like Lightning Beneath the Sea are great examples of Samoans’ new formula in action. The song begins with a delicate introduction before the riffs flow thick. Vocalist and guitarist Daniel Barnett brings everything together with his powerful yet soulful vocal melodies. It’s surprising how satisfyingly wholesome everything sounds and Barnett manages this without hardly ever breaking into a scream. It’s always a good sign when a vocalist can carry heavy music without having to resort to barking their vocals at you all the time and Barnett achieves this perfectly. The main exception to the rule is A Thousand Knives / A Thousand Wives but even when that engages the scream it’s after a good five minutes of construction that results in an amazing crescendo.

Despite the move away from the band’s earlier math-rock style, there are some wonderfully progressive little moments that creep into songs like The Moth and Dancing on the Sea Lion. The Moth is probably the closest remnant of the Samoans of old and contains some brilliantly wild snare work from new sticks-man Chris Rouse. As for Dancing on the Sea Lion, the song has these bizarre little stop/start tempo changes that make it wonderfully weird and generally quite interesting to listen to without sacrificing melody for technical prowess.

The real step up in musicianship comes in the form of the textured lead guitar work and this is all thanks to the inclusion of new rhythm guitarist Oli Miles. With another guitarist in the mix Barnett has gone to town in sprinkling gorgeous, jangly leads over the verses and even finds room to bring some rather warm and endearing solos into play like the ones near the end of Dancing on the Sea Lion and Wearing Shorts in Scotland. It’s apparent that Samoans have really grown as song-writers as everything on Rescue has earned its place on the record through necessity and not through unnecessary decoration.

Finally we have to give a special mention to another masterful job at the production desk. Despite the glittery clarity that heightens the lead guitar work and makes the sombre vocals really shine, the mix favours the bass to allow the songs to really explode when the band open up with a huge chorus or riff.

Samoans may have engaged a subtle stylistic change but Rescue is a much better record because of it. The album has a beautiful knack for textured guitar work and epic melodies with enough meaty crunch to make it a real rocker at the same time. Samoans have entered the world of rock albums with a strong statement of intent and Rescue marks one of the best alt-rock releases of the year so far.

8/10

Samoans’ Rescue is out now and available to buy on 12″ vinyl direct from the band.


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