Review: Oblivionized and Razoreater’s This is S.O.A.N.

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A split UK underground metal release? Recorded live!? You better believe it. Oblivionized and Razoreater have teamed up for a double dose of chaos that was recorded during a gig at Stuck on a Name Studios in Nottingham. The advantages of recording this in an actual studio means that even though this has the energy and rawness that comes with a live recording, it’s mixed and mastered to a professional level meaning this is one of the best sounding underground live recordings released for quite some time.

OBLIVIONIZED

Things kick off with Oblivionized who are one of the most difficult bands to categorise. The band play a mixture of mathcore, grindcore and death metal that is full of technicality and balanced with some absolutely crushing riffs from guitarist Sammy Urwin.

The band are on top form in this recording. The frantic and utterly mental drum work from Will Merlin is on full display and despite his aggressive playing style, Merlin manages to hit every one of his drum patterns with pin-point precision. This man is an absolute beast behind the kit.

What makes Oblivionized so satisfying to listen to is how they balance their bonkers technicality with moments of pure riff worship. Urwin will often drop into a thunderous groove that demands everyone in the room bang their heads and it’s captured perfectly on this recording.

The down-tuned nature of the guitar work also suits the mix as it contrasts with the drumming and vocals making each element of the band’s sound stick out in the mix. This is extremely important in a live recording as it’s very easy for these elements to meld into one unlistenable mess when every musician is giving it their all.

Oblivionized are one of the most exciting live bands in the UK and their sound is fascinatingly unique and devastating at the same time. Despite having to re-start You’re Spineless due to guitar issues, the band don’t put a foot wrong in this entire recording and it’s a beautifully visceral listening experience.

9/10

RAZOREATER

Razoreater deal with a different sort of mayhem; the band make metallic hardcore in a similar vein to Converge, Nails and Weekend Nachos which means that these boys have a thrashier and more direct playing style.

Like Oblivionized, Razoreater have a live show that will grab you by the balls and then run across the street while still clutching them. Razoreater’s music rarely slows down and the pace is exhaustingly fast. You can expect blast-beats aplenty on this recording.

Sadly the mix doesn’t work as well for Razoreater’s recording. This is down to the buzzsaw guitar tone clashing with the crash-heavy drum work. Because of the similarity of the two sounds it means it can be hard to hear the melody in Razoreater’s riffs. It’s not completely lost but sometimes you really have to pay attention to hear what’s going on in the guitar department. This is quite apparent on Razoreater’s cover of Slipknot’s Eeyore.

Regardless of mix, Razoreater’s performance is still utterly electric and it’s frankly amazing how they manage to keep up this level of intensity for their entire set. This is an exhausting experience that will keep the craziest mosh ninjas incredibly satisfied.

8/10

Oblivionized and Razoreater are champions of the UK underground music scene and this recording showcases exactly what’s so great about going to a dirty club show and getting your mosh on. This release is also accompanied by a live video recording of both band’s sets which is essential viewing if you’ve ever cared about the long lost art of the concert film. If you pre-order the split on cassette from Witch Hunter Records you also get a bonus Let it Die set which was also recorded at Stuck on a Name and like the Razoreater performance, it’s an utterly devastating streak of hardcore.

Order Oblivionized and Razoreater’s This is S.O.A.N. on limited edition cassette from Witch Hunter Records.


Review: Alpha Male Tea Party’s Droids

Alpha Male Tea Party - Droids - cover

Alpha Male Tea Party sound like the sort of band who should be an absolute chore to listen to. Instrumental prog rock brings about images of extended guitar solos, freeform song structures that spend too long going nowhere and the lack of vocal melodies can be an instant turn-off for a lot of music fans. With the band’s sophomore album Droids, the band seek to trim all the fat that bloats progressive music to unnatural sizes and instead focus on massive riffs and songs that contain more manageable run-times.

What’s really quite clever about Droids is how the opening track Happy as Larry, Larry is Dead actually contains some sparse vocals. These short bursts of yelping suit the angular nature of the track but what really strikes you is the treacle-thick guitar riffs that stand loud and proud at the front of the mix.

When the next track You Eat Houmous, Of Course You Listen to Genesis rolls around (yes, all the track titles are this bizarre) you soon begin to appreciate how important the guitar melodies are to Alpha Male Tea Party’s sound. The whole track is driven by some seriously bouncy, chunky, chord-heavy guitar work and it’s also bolstered by some fantastic bass-lines that are just as groovy and twangy as the guitar riffs.

What doesn’t become apparent until you pay some serious attention to it is that the vocals don’t appear again on any of the following songs on Droids. This is a particularly clever move on Alpha Male Tea Party’s part as the focus is put directly on their music instead of their vocal delivery. It’s a true testament to the band’s song writing that Alpha Male Tea Party’s music is strong enough without vocals that you simply don’t notice when they completely vanish.

Despite the progressive nature of the band’s music, their ideas are condensed into songs that average 4 minutes in length and they always put their guitar and bass melodies directly at the front of the mix so you can really appreciate the band’s song writing. It’s a genius move by some extremely talented musicians.

We can’t finish without mentioning how wonderfully unique it all sounds. The album is generally quite positive in tone despite the heavy, riff-lead structure of the music and it leads to a sound that can only be described as Alpha Male Tea Party. It’s getting extremely more difficult to stand out in heavy music these days but Alpha Male Tea Party need to be applauded for creating a record that truly sounds like them and them alone.

This is an easy recommendation to make; you need Alpha Male Tea Party’s Droids in your life. This a wonderfully unique and riff-laden record that is loaded with catchy melodies. Despite the progressive nature of the band’s music, they manage to make it incredibly palatable and Droids is a considerable more enjoyable experience for it.

9/10

Alpha Male Tea Party’s Droids is out now via Superstar Destroyer Records. You can buy a copy by clicking here.


Review: Radio Alcatraz’s It’s All Coming Up Roses

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Radio Alcatraz have returned and they’ve created a post hardcore album with some pretty interesting names attached to it. The band’s sophomore album is called It’s All Coming Up Roses and it’s produced by Refused’s own Pelle Henrisson. Not only that but it also contains guest appearances from Justin Schlosberg from Hell is for Heroes, Jamie Lenman, Justin Sane from Anti Flag and Liam Cormier from Cancer Bats. That’s some pretty hefty names in the heavy music scene.

So why have these guys decided to take an interest in Radio Alcatraz? It might have something to do with the fact that the band make some of the best post hardcore the UK has to offer right now. Since the release of the band’s debut album Populous: In the Belly of the Beast, the band have grown exponentially as song writers. The band’s music is brilliantly dynamic and while the angular openings of the songs and the quiet/loud dynamic will make fans of the genre feel at home, Radio Alcatraz have an unnerving knack for making each of their songs build up to an epic crescendo full of excellent melodies and leads by guitarist Andrew Eales.

The crescendos are where Radio Alcatraz really shine. There’s a real euphoria that comes from listening to tracks like The Physical Effect as you’re taken on a journey that begins in the weird, progressive area that so many post hardcore bands explore to be lulled into a gentler and more melodious middle eight before the band hit home with some soaring vocal melodies and guitar leads. It’s a beautiful experience that Radio Alcatraz have absolutely nailed on this album.

Not only is the music a wonderful love letter to post hardcore but the guest appearances from Justin Schlosberg and Jamie Lenman have the rather lovely effect of reminding you how brilliant UK rock music was in the early 2000s. This country had some stunning post hardcore to its name and Radio Alcatraz bring back joyous memories of bands like Hell is for Heroes, Hundred Reasons, Million Dead and early Funeral for a Friend and you can’t help but be reminded at how fantastic our rock music is.

It’s a shame that an album this well written should come out in an era where UK rock doesn’t bother the charts in the same way it used to because if It’s All Coming Up Roses was released in 2003 it would already be regarded a classic. That’s not to say that this record sounds dated in any way, just that it calls back to a bygone era of great UK rock music and Radio Alcatraz deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the band’s that championed it.

Do you like post hardcore? Do you like early 2000s UK rock music? If the answer to either of those questions is, “yes” then you should be buying a copy of Radio Alcatraz’s It’s All Coming Up Roses right now. What this album lacks in originality is made up for by being one of the best post hardcore albums to come out in recent memory and I hope a legion of rock fans are still talking about it in 10 years’ time.

8/10

Radio Alcatraz’s It’s All Coming Up Roses is released on the 8th of December. You can pre-order it from Banquet Records right now.


Review: Corrupt Moral Altar’s Mechanical Tides

Corrupt Moral Altar - Mechanical Tides Front Cover HIRES

Corrupt Moral Altar have come a very long way in such a short amount of time. The groove-ridden grindcore sound of the band’s previous EPs has now sprouted shoots that extend into genres like black metal, noise and doom to create the band’s debut album Mechanical Tides.

The black metal influences are instantly apparent in the opening track Father Tongue which is full of bleak and moody atmospherics. The band also deliver blast-beats by the bucket load. Then the first instance of electronic noise seeps into the band’s sound for Blood Harmony and the slower pace will put doom fans in a horrible yet comfortable spot. Then we’re back to the classic Corrupt Mortal Altar combo of groove and grindcore for Die Glocke and Line Check but even then we’re getting touches of thrash and death metal in those riffs courtesy of John Cooke.

The ride doesn’t let up here. Vocalist Chris Reese takes a step away from screaming for the hauntingly stripped down Admit Defeat. This level of diversity puts Mechanical Tides on a completely different level than Corrupt Moral Altar’s previous material and it’s a beautifully accomplished cacophony of noise.

What’s all the more impressive is just how well it all works together. Corrupt Moral Altar have always had a knack for writing a smashing riff or twelve but this time they managed to being that proficiency into areas that it hadn’t previously visited. The frequent divergences into slower tempos and dark atmospherics are fantastic additions that make listening to Mechanical Tides feel like a journey into the unknown instead of a simple collection of songs.

Special mention also has to be brought to the guitar because the filthy, Entombed-esque guitar tone smears the whole record in a wonderfully disgusting veneer that is complimented by the raw aggression of Tom Dring’s drum work. Every nasty, distorted imperfection is captured perfectly and the crash-heavy drumming just makes the whole experience even more chaotic. I can’t imagine listening to Mechanical Tides through the bright and almost robotic production that gets applied to things like tech metal. This album is a much better experience for all it’s harsh, wretched volatility.

Corrupt Moral Altar have delivered one of the most amazing debut albums any metal band could hope to make. Mechanical Tides is a raucous, nasty bastard of a record that manages to take influences from as many areas of the metal spectrum it can and it fuses them into the band’s already brilliant sound with ease. It’s not often we get to experience an album that’s so magnificently loud yet diverse at the same time and Corrupt Moral Altar have made us wish this experience occurred more often.

9/10

Corrupt Moral Altar’s Mechanical Tides is out now via Season of Mist.


Review: Mage’s Last Orders

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When I noticed that Mage’s latest album Last Orders was only 7 tracks long I began to worry that the groove-metallers might have rushed an album out that wouldn’t make it to the half hour mark. What I was not prepared for was how much the band have grown as song-writers since Black Sands. Mage have evolved into a doom-ridden, sludgy beast of a band. The groove is still there but the band have seen fit to take elements from various down-tempo heavy music like desert rock and fuse it with their signature sound to create a thunderous slab of quality metal that’s immensely satisfying to listen to.

The band have also decided to indulge their proggier leanings by generally writing far longer songs than the band have created previously. Melodies are often not revisited once they shift into a new riff and there are some impressive bursts of speed in tracks like Dark Matter and Old Bones. These thrashier moments are beautiful little additions that help break up the slower pace of the album which is a genius move as the down-tempo nature of the band’s music could’ve become a bit tiresome.

Special mention has to be given to guitarists Woody and Ben who deliver massive riff after massive riff. There are plenty of thick, chunky chords to bite into throughout the album and they’re decorated with some impressive solos like the one on The Fallen. A good solo should always favour melody over technicality and Mage are fully aware of this which is why each solo on Last Orders is a really momentous occasion.

Rounding out this rather meaty package is the wonderful production job by Chris Fielding who keeps the guitar and bass tones as murky and filth-ridden as you’d expect them to be on a sludge metal record. Fielding has seen fit to give the bass prominence in this mix and it suits the huge, spacey vibe of songs like Lux Mentis and Beyond to a tee.

The only real negative we can sling at Mage is that they are an excellent sludge band in a sea of excellent sludge bands. Mage inhabit the same space as bands like Limb, Gurt, Black Moth and Trippy Wicked and they’re often a very similar experience. If more groovy, desert sludge is what you want then Mage have you covered but if you’re after something with an identity of its own then you might be out of luck.

Regardless, Mage have put together a stunning sophomore album that improves on every element of the band’s sound and marks a massive leap forward from their debut album Black Sands. Last Orders is an enormous, neck-bothering monster of an album that sludge fans will be stupid to miss.

8/10

Mage’s Last Orders is out now and available to order on CD via Witch Hunter Records.


Music Video: Cactus&Cardigan’s Neon Suplex

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Those highland bastards Cactus&Cardigan have returned with a new music video for Neon Suplex which comes off the band’s 2014 EP release Highland Bastards. We’re a sucker for music videos filmed in the squared circle so sit back and enjoy:

You can still buy Cactus&Cardigan’s Highland Bastards direct from the band. We suggest that you do and if you need further convincing you can check out our review.


Review: Royal Blood’s Royal Blood

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Interesting fact; Royal Blood only formed last year and now look at them. Their début self-titled album is talk of the town and their first headline tour sold out in minutes. It’s amazing what wonders Warner Music can pull off if they set their mind to it and let’s face it, the band certainly haven’t got this big on reputation alone.

If you’ve managed to completely miss the hype-train that is Royal Blood then 1) congratulations because that’s quite an impressive feat and 2) you’ll probably not be aware that the band are a two-piece hard rock band who draw from the electric blues of The White Stripes with a big helping of Queens of the Stone Age and a bit of classic Muse riffing for good measure. They’ve certainly nailed a very big sound that has no place emanating from only two men and they’re also pretty accomplished songwriters to boot. Songs like Out of the Black, Come on Over and Little Monster are loaded with massive riffs and infectious choruses that are going to be bothering the airwaves for many years to come.

What’s interesting about Royal Blood is that despite being a pretty hefty hard rock band (which is generally a no-go area when it comes to radio-friendly music) they manage to make their heaviness palatable thanks to the lack of harsh vocals. Vocalist and bassist Mike Kerr actually has quite a pleasant vocal sound that’s powerful yet relaxing to listen to. There’s nothing offensive or particularly rock ‘n’ roll about the man’s voice and your Nan would certainly approve.

Sadly, this is one of Royal Blood’s weaknesses. Kerr’s voice is a much more exciting listen when his vocal melodies are a little more dynamic and all the stand-out tracks like the ones previously mentioned benefit greatly from their variety. When Kerr plays it safe and sits out songs like Blood Hands and Careless in a nice, comfortable vocal range the band’s music simply strolls on by with hardly any fanfare.

This also has the unfortunate effect of uncovering the fact that Royal Blood’s sound is incredibly limited to big riffs and choruses with not much else to its name. Is this a casualty of having only two members or is it down to a lack of inventiveness in the band’s song-writing? I’d like to think that it’s a bit of both as there’s only so many places you can go with only vocals, bass and drums but that doesn’t excuse the fact that songs like You Can Be So Cruel have some of the most uninspired riffs to their name. These riffs often take the form of single, galloping chords that soon become pretty dull to listen to.

Thankfully these songs are actually a minority on Royal Blood’s début album and the album is made up of more blues rock classics than the pedestrian, action-film soundtrack rock it sometimes deal in. The album is by no means a record of hard rock anthems for the ages but it was always going to have a hard time delivering on the hype surrounding the band. Regardless, Royal Blood’s début self-titled album is an album that any band who’d only been together for a year would be proud of and it’s a promising start to a band who have likely got a long career ahead of them. Let’s hope the boys can write another collection of hard rock bangers that are a little more consistent in the future.

7/10

Royal Blood’s self-titled début album is out now through Warner Music. You can buy it everywhere.


Review: Casino Thieves’ The Quiet Road Home

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Early 2000s post hardcore! I like early 2000s post hardcore and so should you. Hundred Reasons, Hell is for Heroes and Funeral for a Friend delivered some classic albums full of massive riffs and even bigger choruses and Casino Thieves have clearly noticed this. The band have delivered an EP in a much similar vein and The Quiet Road Home bursts out the gates and doesn’t let up for the entirety of its duration.

Opener Halogen Eyes sets the mood perfectly with some gorgeously satisfying guitar work from singer/guitarist Jeremy Dessent. Dessent also powers through his vocal melodies with a brilliant voice that was made for hard rock music and its full of passion and melody. There’s also a lovely little solo before the final chorus that really sets it off. It’s a simple tactic but its effectiveness is sublime.

Also supporting Dessent’s melodies are some hugely impressive bass-lines courtesy of Leon Jones who favours a very deep, warm and twangy tone that’s always present in the mix but never to the point of obnoxiousness. A real problem with having such prominent bass work is that it can often get too high in the mix, but Jones’ work gets the balance just right. This is evident in Exit or Entrance? which contains a large passage where Dessent’s guitar work takes a sort of stop/start approach which makes the bass even more prominent but not to the point where its intrusive.

Beefing up the band’s sound is some thunderous and crash-heavy drumming from Adam Kerslake. We’re a big fan of the man’s powerful yet thrashy style and Kerslake sounds like he’s absolutely dominating his kit for the entire EP. This is a record made for air drumming.

The only real negative we can through at The Quiet Road Home is the lack of variety in the songs. This is not to say that they aren’t beautifully written but it can be a bit exhausting listening to four post hardcore bangers in a row and they all follow the same sort of pop structure we’re all too familiar with. Thankfully we are given a breather for the final track Beautiful Lenses which opens with a stripped-back, jangly, guitar melody and generally follows a slightly slower tempo than the tracks that preceded it, but it might have been nicer to have this appear at the half-way point. It’s only a slight niggle but it certainly affected our listening experience.

Regardless, Casino Thieves manage to tap into the excitement of early 2000s post hardcore with amazing results. The songs on The Quiet Road Home are thunderous and anthemic and its easy to envisage them coming from a big, festival stage where they belong. Casino Thieves have all the right elements to put them into the big leagues and this EP is a real highlight in modern post hardcore. I really hope to see these guys become a household name in a few years because this taps into an exciting era of rock music that clearly still has some life left in it.

8/10

Casino Thieves’ The Quiet Road Home is released on the 8th of December through all digital outlets.


Review: Fire at Dawn’s Fire at Dawn

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Could Fire at Dawn be any more run-of-the-mill? The 5 piece rock band from Southend tick all the boxes but manage to sound completely innocuous while doing it. The band have a snarly, old-school guitar tone that brings to mind classic bands like Thin Lizzy and ZZ Top but their moody melodies bring back memories of early Muse and Placebo but with a woman on vocal duties. It certainly sounds interesting on paper but it’s a sadly uneventful experience.

Opener Bad Trip boasts a really great riff in its choruses but the song never rises above it and vocalist Victoria Walker slots far too comfortably into her range for the entirety of the track. This damages the music because without some variation in the vocal department the song never feels like it builds to an explosive chorus or crescendo.

The same problem occurs with the pop-punk stylings of Choose Me. The song is dangerously close to being a radio rock anthem but the lack of vocal diversity means the song meanders past you and makes no song and dance about it. Walker never sounds like she is giving her performance the best she can deliver and her sugary melodies lack passion.

Things hit peak boredom around the EP’s mid-point as the slower-paced track Light shows exactly how pedestrian the band’s sound really is. A complete lack of catchy melodies, riffs or choruses turn this track into a quagmire of dull noise you’d find yourself trying to talk over at your local pub and not giving it one iota of your attention.

Thankfully there is one saving grace on Fire at Dawn’s self-titled EP and that’s the guitar work by Brand Winter and Ross Turbz. Both men deliver some great riffs and a smashing solo on Bad Trip and there’s something wonderfully nostalgic about that guitar tone. Sadly, the guys don’t deliver another solo as satisfying as this for the rest of the EP which is a damn shame considering the quality of their playing.

Regardless, guitar work alone can’t save this record and Fire at Dawn do not make up the sum of their parts. More needs to be going on vocally for the band’s songs to be more engaging and Walker really needs to flex her pipes and give it her all because at the moment she sounds like she’s phoning it in. Rock music should grab me by the balls and not let go and all Fire at Dawn are doing are lightly flicking them which is more of an irritating experience if anything.

4/10

Fire at Dawn’s debut self-titled EP is out December 1st.


News: Hondo Maclean Are Back

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UK tech metalcore legends Hondo Maclean are returning for 2 special shows in December as well as a vinyl re-release of their last album The Truth; The Fiction which was only given a limited release under the band’s later moniker of The Future.

The shows take place in London and Cardiff. Check the details below:

12/12 – Barfly, Camden (tickets here)
20/12 – Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff (tickets here)

The re-release of The Truth; The Fiction can be pre-ordered from Palm Reader Records. The record will be limited to 300 copies; 100 on half clear/half blue and 200 on clear vinyl. The half clear/half blue variant is close to selling out so don’t sleep on this one. You can stream the album below:


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