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.


Review: Irk’s Bread and Honey

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Irk are a rather interesting prospect. The band take the off kilter, palm-muted chaos of djent and mix it with progressive metal in a similar vein to Deftones and earthtone9 and it makes for a sound that is wonderfully unique. The band released their debut EP Bread and Honey back in May and it’s a record that’s seriously worthy of your attention.

The Leeds trio have a sound that is worryingly large for a band so early into their career. Bread and Honey is a quaking beast of an EP stuffed with massive riffs and heart-on-sleeve yelping. There are no verses and choruses to be found on this record and it’s extremely better off for all its progressive leanings.

Irk are a big fan of groove and these bass-heavy riffs pack a serious punch. From the moment the EP starts with its blood-curdling scream and monolithic melody you know you’re in for one hell of a ride. EP opener Care Taker barrels along with all the disjointed twitchiness of a great TesseracT riff but thanks to the raw, thrashy fury of the drum work it comes across with more of a mathcore vibe and it’s an absolute joy to listen to.

What also helps Irk’s music is their appreciation for the Deftones’ quiet/loud dynamic. The songs on Bread and Honey often slow down and strip back the intensity to allow for a moment’s respite before the band unleash all hell and blast another huge riff into your face. It’s not the most original trick in the book but Irk know how to use it with masterful devastation like in the middle eight of Mammalian Love March.

Special mention has to be given to the bass because the twangy, funk-laden bass-lines are a huge draw across the entire EP. They bolster the impact of the riffs and add to the raucous energy that the band feed off. Bread and Honey really is a hugely satisfying listening experience.

Special mention also has to be given to the production because unlike the djent bands that Irk are influenced by, someone has seen fit to not give this EP that typical, shiny layer of polish that’s so common on djent releases. Irk are considerably better off sounding raw and aggressive and it really sounds like the band put all their blood, sweat and tears into these recordings. If Bread and Honey was given the clean, glassy production of a TesseracT recording then it simply wouldn’t have the same ball-busting impact.

The only real negative I can throw at this EP is it’s all over in 10 minutes and quite frankly I need more. Irk have whet my appetite for more rollicking, mathcore lunacy and that’s a pretty good indication as to how good Bread and Honey is. You’d be a fool not to give Irk at least 10 minutes of your time. It might be the best 10 minutes you’ve had with heavy music this year.

9/10

Irk’s Bread and Honey is available to download now and at a pay-what-you-want price point directly from the band. You should probably go and get it right now.


Review: In Search of Sun’s The World is Yours

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In Search of Sun is a 5 piece heavy metal band from London making the sort of music that would make Panic Cell, Five Finger Death Punch and Avenged Sevenfold proud. Previously known as Driven, the band have gone through a stylistic change that sees them moving away from their earlier metalcore roots (hence the change in band name) and The World is Yours mark’s the band’s debut album.
The World is Yours is an album built around big vocal melodies and bass-heavy grooves. The songs are structured in a pretty traditional manner that favours verses and choruses so don’t expect anything too progressive from the band.

What really makes the music on The World is Yours shine is the wonderful vocal work by frontman Adam Leader (surely the most appropriate name for a lead singer ever). Leader has a beautifully flexible voice that moves between abrasive yell and soaring croon with ease and you can really visualise the vocalist commanding a massive crowd. It helps that Leader’s melodies and superbly strong and the choruses on the album will stick with you long after the album has finished.

The band are also pretty comfortable dropping in some thrash influences into their music with the lovely galloping shred at the start of 51 56 being a great highlight as well as the opening riff to Idle Crown. These moments of guitar prowess put In Search of Sun in a league of their own and its riffs like these that the band need to focus on bringing to the forefront more often.

Bizarrely the instrumentation often feels quite sparse. Despite having two guitarists in their midst, In Search of Sun often let the lead guitars jangle gently over a thunderous bass-line like at the beginning of In Search of Sun (yes, there’s songs confusingly named after the band as well as the album title). This wouldn’t be such an issue if the song was actually doing something a little more gripping. In Search of Sun are very keen to fix their tempos into a rather unimaginative mid-pace that never really allows the music the freedom to grab you by the balls and let loose with a really rocking riff. This really damages songs like In Search of Sun because the track is drawn out for over 6 minutes and despite an impressive guitar solo it rarely moves away from its quite traditional structure.

The major problem with The World is Yours is just how similar they sound to many other modern metal bands bothering the charts right now. This is a real shame because it’s clear the band have a knack for writing a decent riff and a great chorus but they need to be more daring to drop into different tempos and get more adventurous with their guitar work because bassist Faz Couri often has to carry the songs. In fact, Couri is so prominent in the mix that I wouldn’t be surprised if he was one of the band’s main songwriters.

The World is Yours is a strong modern metal offering from a promising new band. It often succeeds thanks to the massive choruses courtesy of vocalist Adam Leader but the music is too unimaginative to hold your attention for the full 48 minutes. In Search of Sun could really do with stepping up the pace a bit because as To the Axe manages to prove in its fifth minute, the band is vastly more exciting to listen to when they get nice and thrashy. It’s moments like this that justify the band having 5 members because it’s too often the case that the music is very minimalist like in the album’s ballad Skin. In Search of Sun have all the potential to be an incredibly exciting band but at the moment they haven’t quite figured out how to do this.

6/10

In Search of Sun’s The World is Yours is released through Raging Demon Entertainment and Plastic Head Distribution on September 1st.


Review: Megalodoom’s Tectonic Oblivion

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When I discovered that Megalodoom were an instrumental doom band I simply couldn’t fathom how the band were going to catch my attention for an entire record without any vocals. Doom metal is traditionally slow-paced and a single riff can be drawn out for an entire song so without anything going on in the vocal department I was instantly sceptical of how the band were going to keep things interesting. Thankfully my preconceptions have been knocked for six because Megalodoom have a lot more to their music than what you’d normally expect from a doom band.

At only four songs long, Megalodoom’s second EP Tectonic Oblivion manages to total a healthy 26 minutes of punishing heaviness and it never gets boring for the entire duration. Tectonic Oblivion never rests on one riff for too long and manages to cram every song with as many intertwining melodies as possible. What Megalodoom achieve so well is making all these melodies fit flawlessly together and every song on the EP progresses in a natural fashion that’s extremely satisfying to listen to.

Megalodoom are also rather brilliant at texturing their music with a clever use of various guitar effects like in the lovely, atmospheric introduction to Polar Vortex. Even when the song kicks into gear the whole piece is given a wonderful, spacey quality thanks to the incessant use of phaser. It all sounds very other-worldly, like the soundtrack to a secret, underground civilisation of mosh greebos.

The band also manage to draw influences from desert rock which is instantly apparent from the opening riff to Amp Woe which is a song that the mighty Kyuss would be proud of. Once again it’s not too long before another beast of a riff follows and the band even manage to step things up a little with a subtle but effective tempo change. This is wonderfully progressive stuff with the slower pace allowing you to appreciate it all at a palatable speed.

Rounding the EP out is the beautiful production that smothers everything in a lovely dose of bass whilst also sounding like the band are playing the music in the middle of the outback. Tectonic Oblivion is certainly a very big sounding EP title and it does a perfect job of describing how utterly enormous it all sounds. What’s even more impressive is the band have recorded, mixed and mastered this EP themselves making this a truly DIY effort. If you’re playing doom metal and looking to record then I think you better be giving the Megalodoom boys and gal a ring.

Megalodoom’s Tectonic Oblivion is a thunderous beast of an EP that manages to escape the potential boredom that their lack of vocals could have caused. The band have put together a hugely satisfying selection of riffs and melodies that tie together beautifully and create a behemoth of an EP that doom fans should be clawing over themselves to own.

8/10

Megalodoom’s Tectonic Oblivion EP is available to download from Witch Hunter Records right now.


Review: Grand Collapse’s Far From the Callous Crowd

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I like records that don’t mess around and Grand Collapse’s début album Far From The Callous Crowd is the very definition of not messing around. The thrash-punkers stuff 25 minutes of Gnarwolves-meets-Send More Paramedics styled joy into their album’s 11 songs and not a single second of it could be described as lazy.

The four men of Grand Collapse do an amazing job of sounding like they’re putting all the blood, sweat and tears that their bodies can muster into these performances. Vocalist Calvin Sewell has a brilliantly snotty grunt to his voice that sounds like the classic punk of yesteryear. Guitarist Jon Powell delivers all the melody and manages to cram a hundred riffs into every song and every one of them has a fantastic galloping bounce to it. This is the sound of a legion of kids throwing shapes in the pit. This is then bolstered by the thunderous twang of bassist David Thomas and the blind fury of drummer Glenn Tew who punctuates every growling chord with a massive helping of crash cymbal. You simply cannot fault the abilities of these four men.

When it all comes together Grand Collapse deliver inarguable hardcore punk anthems. There is not a moment on Far From The Callous Crowd that could even be remotely described as boring. The band even manage to find variety in their madness by changing tempos and even dropping the distortion in favour of some seriously catchy leads like the ones at the beginning of Touch Paper and Memoirs of Heath Park.

Even when Grand Collapse are at their slowest like the aforementioned Memoirs of Heath Park they still sound utterly ferocious thanks to the wonderful pairing of huge chords and crash cymbal. If you can’t feel yourself leaning into a relentless session of headbanging then it’s time to see a doctor.

Tying the record together is the meticulous production. It’s no surprise to see that Lewis Johns was responsible for the production on Far From The Callous Crowd as the man is clearly becoming the UK’s punk producer of choice. The man manages to keep all the raw aggression of Grand Collapse’s performance despite presenting it in a way that highlights every element of the band’s music in perfect clarity. If Johns doesn’t have a list of bands as long as his arm lining up for production work by now then there isn’t any justice in the world.

Grand Collapse have put together a début album that I simply cannot listen to without the words ‘FUTURE CLASSIC’ coming into view. Far From The Callous Crowd is a no-nonsense shot of adrenaline and there isn’t a single moment that doesn’t sound like a cacophony of punk’s best riffs. I want more and I need it now.

10/10

Grand Collapse’s Far From the Callous Crowd is out now on limited edition CD. Buy one direct from the band.


Touring: Employed to Serve, Svalbard, Pariso and More

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If you like heavy music from the UK’s wealth of noisey talent then you are absolutely spoilt for choice right now. Below we have compiled a list of tours and shows that are worthy of your attention because they feature some of our favourite bands currently doing the rounds.

Pariso & Svalbard Split Tour
11/7 – Katie Fitzgerald’s, Stourbridge
12/7 – The Roxy 171, Glasgow
18/7 – Unicorn, London
19/7 – Edge of the Wedge, Portsmouth
2/8 – Summerfest at Frog&Fiddle 2 Pigs, Cheltenham
3/8 – Sick Sick Six Fest, Leicester

Employed to Serve & Svalbard European Tour
5/8 – DNA, Brussels
6/8 – AJZ Talshock, Chemnitz
7/8 – TBA
8/8 – Capsloc, Capelle Aan Den Ijssel
9/8 – Waldmeister, Solingen
10/8 – TBA

Other Great Shows
9/7 – Unicorn, Camden (ACxDC, Implore, Oblivionized, Razoreater & TEEF)
18/7 – Rigger, Newcastle (Empires of Light, Burden of the Noose & Black Heath Coven)
19/7 – Stuck on a Name Studios, Nottingham (Oblivionized/Razoreater split recording)
15-17/8 – Chimpyfest at T Chances, Tottenham Court Road (feat. The Atrocity Exhibit, Razoreater & Confine)
23/9 – Old Blue Last, Shoreditch (Hexis, Rainmaker, Let It Die, Employed to Serve & Oblivionized)


Review: Sunwølf’s Beholden to Nothing and No One

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Okay Sunwølf, this is getting a bit silly now. You can’t go releasing an album every year and get dramatically better results every time. You’re making everyone else look a bit naff.

Sunwølf’s third album Beholden to Nothing and No One is a double-disc release and expands the band’s ambient doom from being fully instrumental to now including a disc supported by a range of vocal styles which include female singing and male screaming. The vocals add some beautiful texture to the band’s oppressive and claustrophobic music with the female vocals being used for the more delicate side of the band’s sound and the screaming being used for the more aggressive, metallic side of the music. It’s wonderful to see how well Sunwølf’s music works with the simple addition of vocals.

The first disc also manages to pull off that fantastic Sunwølf staple of taking you on a journey. Sunwølf have an uncanny ability to soundtrack Terry Gilliam films that don’t exist yet and Beholden… is no exception. The disc begins fairly slow and emphasises minimalistic instrumentation to create a foreboding atmosphere that builds over the course of the album before guitarist Matt Carrington stomps on the overdrive pedal and unleashes hell.

Sunwølf experiment further on the second disc of the album by returning to their instrumental roots but only to get even more psychedelic. The second disc of Beholden… messes with texture and builds enormous walls of noise that could summon demon’s from the depths below. There’s a heavier exploration of drone and electronic elements are also employed to add another mysterious layer or intrigue to the band’s music.

Rounding out this monstrous package is a spectacular production job that’s sharp and clean during the band’s more ambient moments to help emphasise the delicate instrumentation, but raw and unkempt during the more aggressive movements. Despite the varied styles the production actually manages to hold all the music together and make a cohesive package.

Sunwølf’s Beholden to Nothing and No One is a gargantuan epic that traverses many genres but always feels focussed. A double album clocking in at an hour and 23 minutes might strike you as an impenetrable time investment but Beholden… never outstays its welcome. There’s a reason why this album is so long and it’s because it’s stuffed to the brim with interesting, thought-provoking music that’s always changing and always engaging. Sunwølf have written their masterpiece and it’s one of the most essential listening experiences of the year.

10/10

Sunwølf’s Beholden to Nothing and No One is out today and available to order on double CD direct from the band.


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