Review: Underdark and Antre’s Split 7″

Underdark

It’s been a good few years since Underdark graced us with their debut EP Mourning Cloak and it’s extremely exciting to see new music from them. The Smell of Autumn is an incredible follow up full of extremely tight and passionate black metal. Thanks to it being black metal, we get loads of intense, tremolo-picked riffs and blast beats that maintain a level of intensity that makes this an amazingly engaging song. It flows in a wonderfully natural way, with an unsettling introduction that soon expands to reveal a whole host of nasty, blood-curdling secrets.

Despite being six and half minutes long, they go by in a flash thanks to the strength of Underdark’s song writing. Here’s a song bursting with so many ideas that it’s quite frankly unbelievable that they’ve crammed them all into a single song. Underdark haven’t lost any of their initial spark and it’ll be fascinating to see where they go from here.

10/10

Antre

Antre are an extremely fresh face in UK black metal. Hand of Fire marks their second release after last year’s two track demo and it certainly makes an impact. This a far more punishing effort than Underdark’s side of the split and its near five minute run time almost exclusively displays a penchant for playing as fast as possible. Hand of Fire is a track stuffed with tremolo-picking and blast beats and despite its focus on visceral speed, it manages to create an incredibly dark and disparate atmosphere.

We do get a slight shift into a slower tempo for the middle eight, but it isn’t long before we’re back to being beaten into submission by an intensity that’s difficult to argue with. Antre don’t show as much nuance as Underdark, but I get the feeling that was never the intention with Hand of Fire. If you like your black metal relentless and uncompromising then Antre certainly deliver with Hand of Fire.

8/10

Underdark and Antre’s Split 7″ is out now and available to buy direct from Underdark and Antre’s respect Bandcamp pages.

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Year End 2017: Best Albums Part 2

Barrabus – Barrabus

“Barrabus’ debut album is a fantastically weird collection of songs that don’t outstay their welcome. It’s all over in 29 minutes and rarely gives you a moment to breath. This is a noisy, sludgy punk album that isn’t too interested in showing any restraint. This album has certainly been a long time coming considering Barrabus’ last release was a demo in 2006, but its arrival is much like Paul Catten himself; unexpected and unrelenting. Long may he reign.”

Click here to read the full review.

Corrupt Moral Altar – Eunoia

“Corrupt Moral Altar are one of the most consistent and extremely exciting bands in heavy music and Eunoia has cemented their position at the forefront of UK grindcore. The band have so many great riffs to share that they end up making a record that sounds like a grindcore compilation but somehow only made by one band. Despite almost exclusively playing as fast as possible, the band manage to sprinkle their music with interesting little moments like the hardcore punk introduction to Burning Bridges and Burning Homes or the enormous, swinging, mosh-pit groove in Rat King. Eunoia is an album that’s almost euphoric in its consistent delivery of grindcore classics for a new generation.”

Click here to read the full review.

Alpha Male Tea Party – Health

If there was one record I’d be considering for ‘Album of the Year’, then this is about as close to it as I can imagine. Alpha Male Tea Party’s Health might look like it has a pretentious album cover and a load of nonsense song titles that wouldn’t look out of place on an early 2000s emo record, but all that is doing is hiding the fact that it houses a gargantuan slab of the best riffs you’ve ever heard. Alpha Male Tea Party blend bright, sugary post rock guitar work with some of the weightiest grooves known to man and they create one of the most satisfyingly pure rock records of the year. Essential listening.

Atragon – I, Necromancer

“It may have taken a long time getting here but Atragon’s I, Necromancer is a gleefully gargantuan doom record that revels in its simplicity. Atragon aren’t exactly reinventing the wheel here, but if big riffs and even bigger crescendos are something that you get your rocks off to then Atragon certainly have you covered.”

Click here to read the full review.

Esprit D’Air – Constellations

“Esprit D’Air’s Constellations is a wonderfully accomplished debut album that’s full of massive anthems that stand toe-to-toe with the more established J-metal acts. The band also manages to add enough of their own love for progressive music and post rock to make the album stand on its own merits. If you like anthemic, sing-a-long pop metal full of massive riffs and soaring vocal melodies then you can certainly rely on Esprit D’Air to become your new favourite band.”

Click here to read the full review.

Watchcries – Wraith

Do you like metal? Well Watchcries’ Wraith has all of it. All the metal. It’s all here. Wraith is the sound of a band blending death metal, doom, black metal and hardcore together to create the unholiest racket possible. If last year’s EP was a statement of intent, then Wraith is the record that comes to your house and threatens to stab you if you don’t bang your head. An extremely dense record that is entirely devoid of any bullshit, Watchcries’ Wraith is a dream release if you like extreme music.

Glarus – Then and When

Sacha Zucconi’s Glarus expanded from being a solo project to having a full line-up and along with the personnel change came their debut album Then and When. The ex-Hammers man expands his dissonant take on sludge metal-infused hardcore and sprinkles a light dusting of dreamy melody over everything to make a record that is truly massive in scale. A record this good shouldn’t be hidden in the UK toilet circuit. Give it a listen and shout about it to everyone.

Jamie Lenman – Devolver

Unlike Lenman’s previous solo effort Muscle Memory, Devolver crams all the artist’s influences into one cohesive record instead of splitting them into 2 discs. What you get is an album that effortlessly swings between low-fi, indie rock coupled with electronics, to messy and bombastic grunge rock and even industrial metal. Jamie Lenman is fast becoming one of the UK’s auteurs of rock and he deserves to have a solo career as wild and varied as progressive rock greats like Devin Townsend.

Regurgitate Life – Obliteration of the Self

“Obliteration of the Self is a natural step forward for Regurgitate Life and the addition of live drums has made this a more cohesive package as a result. Urwin has admitted in the past that his programmed drum patterns are often a little unruly and near impossible for a real drummer to perform, so having a force like Daryl Best in the band has had such a positive impact on the music. Obliteration of the Self is a brilliant death metal record that showcases two musicians firing on all cylinders and is a “must listen” for anyone who can appreciate music this unrelenting.”

Click here to read the full review.


Year End 2017: Best Albums Part 1

No rankings this year; just a load of heavy records from UK bands and artists that I’ve enjoyed and think are worthy of your time. Please enjoy and have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Lewis xxx

Enter Shikari – The Spark

While The Spark features Enter Shikari at their most laid back and inoffensive, it also showcases how wonderful their song-writing can be when their focus has shifted towards a more positive attitude. For fans of the band’s previous fusion of techno and hardcore, you’re probably not going to find much to hold your attention, but if you’ve stuck with the band throughout their evolution then you’ll be rewarded with a record stuffed full of stadium-sized anthems, tongue-in-cheek metaphors and a generally positive atmosphere that will lift your spirits. Enter Shikari continue to be one of the most exciting bands in UK rock.

Employed to Serve – The Warmth of a Dying Sun

How have Employed to Serve only been a band for five years and amassed such an enormous discography already? On their second long-player, the band show so much confidence that you’d be mistaken for thinking they’ve been together for over a decade. This is one of the greatest metallic hardcore sophomores to come out for quite some time and it’s structured in a way that allows it to ebb and flow between moments of unbridled, hardcore fury and long-form, lurching grooves. One of the most accomplished metallic hardcore albums to come from these shores and an absolutely essential listen for fans of heavy music.

Grand Collapse – Along the Dew

Grand Collapse continue to hold nothing back on their sophomore album Along the Dew. This is a flat out, thrashy, monster of a punk rock album with heart-on-sleeve, politically charged lyrics that never sound false or pretentious. The fact that Grand Collapse have made it to a 2nd album and aren’t one of the biggest punk bands in the country is quite frankly ridiculous. We should be rallying behind bands like this. Grand Collapse care and so should you.

Darko – Bonsai Mammoth

Sitting in a similar space to bands like Gnarwolves, Darko’s debut album Bonsai Mammoth is stuffed with no-nonsense, sing-a-long, punk rock anthems that demand your attention. There’s so much energy and confidence in here that you can’t help but be reminded of so many classic punk rock debuts that this deserves a space next to. Debuts like this are wonderfully refreshing because you’re reminded of how much unfound talent is lurking around the UK’s indie circuits.

Monolithian – The Waning Moon

“The Waning Moon is a hugely successful burst of down-tempo aggression that sees Monolithian drawing on even more varied influences to great effect. It’s been hugely engrossing watching this band go from strength to strength on every release and if The Waning Moon is anything to go by then Monolithian’s next long-player will be an essential doom purchase.”

Click here to read the full review.

OHHMS – The Fool

OHHMS’ debut album The Fool is a real turning point for the band because it finally sounds as big and engaging as their live show. While their previous 2 EPs weren’t exactly bad, they didn’t really capture what it’s like to see them live, which is an experience unto itself. The Fool is a wonderful sludge metal release that keeps you on your toes. Songs twist and turn with wild abandon and despite being mainly a low tempo stomper, there’s enough moments of visceral punk rock and psychedelia in here to highlight how bizarre and unique OHHMS really are. An essential listen.

Helpless – Debt

“Helpless’ Debt is an extremely dense and unrelenting record that makes no apologies for being ridiculously heavy. Helpless use some extremely creative guitar work to create a dark and isolated atmosphere to make an absolute racket in. It may not be the most nuanced long-player you’ll hear, but it certainly delivers one of the most powerful and devastating heavy music experiences of 2017. Lord knows Helpless have a serious task ahead of them if they want to best this record with their next release.”

Click here to read the full review.

Yards – Excitation Thresholds

“Yards’ Excitation Thresholds is an instant recommendation. If you want to hear a passionate, exciting hardcore band putting all their cards on the table and never putting a foot wrong then this is the album for you. Sure, it’s over pretty quickly, but any more time spent with music this visceral would be exhausting. It’s the perfect length for one of the most diverse and relentlessly savage debut albums in recent memory.”

Click here to read the full review.


Year End 2017: Best Splits and EPs

No rankings this year; just a load of heavy records from UK bands and artists that I’ve enjoyed and think are worthy of your time. Please enjoy and have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Lewis xxx

SPLITS

The Tidal Sleep / Svalbard Split 7″

“Despite being a brief listening experience, this a brilliant split 7” that fans of post hardcore should not be sleeping on. Both bands put forward fantastic songs that are well worth your time and the production quality is magnificent throughout, making the entire release sound absolutely massive. Again, it’s wonderfully surprising that such a small release like this can contain such quality.”

Click here to read the full review.

Caïna / Cara Neir Split

2 tracks of nasty, brooding black metal from Texas outfit Cara Neir and Andy Curtis-Brignell’s Caïna. Cara Neir showcase a raspy and atmospheric style that has a strange, folky quality to it. Cara Neir have a really unique sound thanks to this and while the track is obviously heavier than a tonne of bricks, the lilting nature of the guitar melodies adds a sombre tone to the proceedings. This release also marks the final music from Caïna and showcases a more traditionally metal sound which is bizarrely refreshing after the band’s more experimental albums Setter of Unseen Snares and Christ Clad in White Phosphorous. It’s a bittersweet release that reminds you how brilliant Caïna were and that UK heavy music is now missing one of its most fascinating artists.

Dean Lane Hardcore Funday 3 Way Split featuring JFA, Rash Decision and The Broken Bones Gentlemen’s Club

Easily the most entertaining punk split of the year, JFA offer up a selection of live skate punk anthems with all the dirt and filth you’d expect from a bootleg release. Thrash punks Rash Decision serve up 3 new tracks that rock harder than a boulder falling off a cliff, but also manage to put a big, daft grin on your face because their lyrics are just so entertainingly stupid. For example, XErnestXBorgnineX is a track about that infamous Ernest Borgnine interview where he reveals the secret to his long life. The release is rounded off with an absolute belter of a tune from The Broken Bones Gentlemen’s Club; a big, shouty, hardcore punk beast with some of the most satisfying chunky riffs you could want.

EPs

A Cunning Man – Practical Applications of Theurgy

“Practical Applications of Theurgy is an extremely unique and almost overbearing symphonic metal release from one of the most gifted Scottish musicians I can think of. This is an extremely accomplished first offering from A Cunning Man and while it sometimes veers dangerously close to being a little too dense for its own good, the song-writing shines brighter and makes for a record that’s more than the sum of its parts. A Cunning Man have an awful lot to offer over these 3 tracks and I’m very excited to see where the project goes in the future.”

Click here to read the full review.

Cult Cinema – Cosmic Horror II

“Cosmic Horror II may be a smaller part in a larger release, but as it stands it marks another bold step forward for Cult Cinema who continue to showcase their violent yet beautiful song writing. Cosmic Horror II is the sound of a band who understand that heavy music is a hell of a lot more powerful when you create contrast and juxtaposition and once again the results are fantastic. By the time this trilogy comes to a close we should have a real highlight of modern post hardcore to enjoy and that in itself is very exciting.”

Click here to read the full review.

Stinky Wizzleteat – Quit Drugs!

“Stinky Wizzleteat’s Quit Drugs! is quite easily the best thing the band have produced to date. This is a really accomplished showcase of progressive, unpredictable sludge metal that manages to rein in the band’s eccentricities just enough to make a cohesive and absolutely punishing record. It would be great to see if the band have an equally effective long-player in them, but only time will tell. Welcome back, guys.”

Click here to read the full review.


A Dedication to Stephen “Catbird” Robinson 1965-2017


Myself, Jamie Lenman and Catbird in 2013

It’s no secret that this website has been a bit on the quiet side recently and I’d like to take a moment to explain why this has happened. On the 26th of September 2017, the world lost Stephen “Catbird” Robinson; a long time Total Rock DJ, one of my biggest influences and one of my best friends.

I met Catbird through his son, who joined my class at secondary school in 2000. We became friends the day he arrived and as our friendship continued, he invited me to the inaugural Visible Noise all- ages show, Subverse at a venue near Portobello Market in central London. Catbird was taking him, his sisters and a few others and this would become the first concert I’d ever been to. This moment is essentially Day One for me regarding rock music and anything remotely loud and angry.

One of my earliest memories of Catbird is going round his house and seeing two, big bookcases he had rammed full of CDs in his living room. I remember Catbird pulling out random records he liked and putting them on the stereo and basically thinking to myself, “I want this.” Low and behold, 16 years later and there is now a wall of over a thousand CDs in my flat that can basically be tracked back to that very moment.

Catbird was a huge influence on me, my taste in music and my life. He took me to all the earliest concert experiences I had, including some really memorable ones like a festival in Exeter that we travelled to with his son. We stayed the night in Exeter and the following day when we were travelling home we stopped in Dawlish Warren. We sat on Red Rock that afternoon and listened to Mahumodo on a portable stereo, probably to the chagrin of locals and tourists.

For the last 5 years I’ve been running UK Scumscene which is a name that Catbird himself coined for a website that he started work on in the early 2000s. This place exists because he existed, and through his work with Total Rock I’ve had many opportunities to share the music I’ve discovered with him, like he used to do with me. He’s allowed me to meet my heroes through interviews in the old Total Rock studio and he’s never asked for anything in return.

I have so much to thank Catbird for. I have nothing but positive memories of my time with him and the places we went. That man’s passion for music is infectious and I’ll be carrying that with me for the rest of my life, and like myself, he was a massive nerd that would often gush about his love for video games like Elite, and as a friend recently reminded me, he wrote down everything Paul Stanley was saying at a Kiss concert in the eighties.

So as you can imagine, it’s been a little difficult finding the energy to continue running a website that is so intrinsically connected to Catbird. UK Scumscene isn’t going anywhere and we will be publishing some year end lists soon, but I couldn’t return to it without letting you all know that I recently lost my biggest musical influence and I wanted you all to know how much he meant to me.

Rest in peace, Catbird. I’m going to miss you.


Review: Corrupt Moral Altar’s Eunoia

It’s been 3 years since Corrupt Moral Altar’s debut album Mechanical Tides; an album that creaks under the sheer weight of influences it crams into its confines. With the band’s sophomore effort Eunoia, the band have seen fit to distil their song-writing into its raw components and what we get is a grindcore album that manages to constantly push the boundaries of what it means to be heavy and it’s scarily consistent for its entire run-time.

Despite generally dealing in the sort of metal that likes to make a racket and get the job done very quickly, Corrupt Moral Altar do a fantastic job of writing tons of memorable riffs and barely revisit them over the course of a single song. Their music is fast and punishing; riffs come and go with complete abandon, and just when you’ve got your head banging to a tasty groove, the band have jumped into a sequence of blast-beats or a disgustingly heavy section of double-bass drumming.

What really helps Corrupt Moral Altar from losing all semblance of melody and musicianship is they’ve clearly got a taste for a nice bit of death metal. Songs like Night Chant and Survivor’s Guilt benefit from the sort of structure that death metal brings and it allows the band to push those riffs forward before beating you about the head with another lightning-fast grindcore segment. This results in Eunoia becoming an uncompromising 43 minutes that never puts a foot wrong and never finds itself delivering a song that is merely there to pad out the run-time.

The sheer amount of riffs on Eunoia shouldn’t be possible. The songs are all fairly progressive and always pushing forward at an incredible pace, so it’s nothing short of a miracle that the album manages to maintain its intensity for the entirety of its run-time. It can be quite an exhausting listen, but if you’ve been looking for a grindcore album that never lets up then you’ve absolutely found it with Eunoia.

Corrupt Moral Altar are one of the most consistent and extremely exciting bands in heavy music and Eunoia has cemented their position at the forefront of UK grindcore. The band have so many great riffs to share that they end up making a record that sounds like a grindcore compilation but somehow only made by one band. Despite almost exclusively playing as fast as possible, the band manage to sprinkle their music with interesting little moments like the hardcore punk introduction to Burning Bridges and Burning Homes or the enormous, swinging, mosh-pit groove in Rat King. Eunoia is an album that’s almost euphoric in its consistent delivery of grindcore classics for a new generation.

9/10

Corrupt Moral Altar’s Eunoia is out now and available to download direct from the band.


Review: Atragon’s I, Necromancer

Atragon’s debut EP Volume I is one of the earliest reviews I wrote for UK Scumscene, so it’s bizarre to see the band’s name crop up again almost five years later for their debut album I, Necromancer. My lasting memory of Volume I is that one of the tracks was pretty good and the other one was a bit dull. Well as it turns out, the good track (Jesus Wept) has been re-recorded for I, Necromancer alongside six new songs. My cynical side instantly thought, “So it’s taken Atragon five years to write six songs?” but that’s just me being a condescending prick because those five years have clearly seen Atragon improve dramatically.

Now Atragon’s Sabbath worship is certainly nothing new among doom bands, but what they do they do bloody well. Atragon’s songs usually kick off with an absolutely gargantuan riff that builds and builds over the course of the track. More elements are thrown into the mix including Jan Gardner’s bellowing vocals and some beautifully indulgent guitar solos that always punctuate the closing moments of the song in a wonderfully heroic way. Album opener Matriarch certainly follows this pattern and it’s repeated on the title track and Wallowing Wizard to great effect. There’s something euphoric about the way Atragon build to their crescendos.

Even though the song-writing on I, Necromancer is often quite simplistic, Atragon have seen fit to shorten the songs since Volume 1 and they now average around 6 minutes. This means that even though most songs are carried by one riff, it never gets to outstay its welcome. Plus, everything sounds absolutely massive now thanks to the fantastic production job done by Graeme Young at Chamber Studio. Doom metal lives and dies on its production and Atragon certainly chose well for this record.

The only time the song structure changes on I, Necromancer is for the eerie album closer Guilt Returns. This track chooses to dump almost all of the percussion and instead lets a moody bass line and guitar melody create some really unnerving atmosphere that’s accentuated by Gardner’s vocals. It’s a suitably expansive ending to an album that’s spent its entire time sounding enormous.

It may have taken a long time getting here but Atragon’s I, Necromancer is a gleefully gargantuan doom record that revels in its simplicity. Atragon aren’t exactly reinventing the wheel here, but if big riffs and even bigger crescendos are something that you get your rocks off to then Atragon certainly have you covered.

8/10

Atragon’s I, Necromancer is out now and available to download direct from the band.


Review: Helpless’ Debt

If you’ve yet to discover Helpless then you’ll be pleased to know that they feature ex-Brotherhood of the Lake guitarist Russell Cleave (but this time around he’s on drum duty) and they’re about the closest thing to the depraved, metallic hardcore madness of that band that you can find in 2017. With their debut album Debt we are treated to a metallic hardcore record that takes elements from grindcore and black metal to create something akin to Throats, but with a frequent marriage of atonal, high-pitched guitar work and low-end, crunchy riffs.

Debt clocks in at 22 minutes and sounds like the sort of thing you’d expect to soundtrack a serious psychotic breakdown. This is not a subtle record and it frequently assaults you with fast-paced, abrasive tracks full of blast beats and tremolo-picking and then slightly slower, crushing moments of doomy hardcore. Add a vocal performance that sounds like the agonised screams from hell and you’ve basically explained everything you can expect to hear on this record. This is not music for the faint of heart.

Thank God Helpless have seen fit to make this a short record because if it was any longer it would probably be a serious threat to your health. Tracks like opener Worth, Grief Vultures and Sertaline are uncompromising attacks of relentless speed, crusty riffs and devastatingly thrashy drums. When the tempo changes to something not so punishingly fast, Helpless up the oppressive and gloomy atmosphere of their music by using the aforementioned atonal, higher-pitched guitar work. This manifests itself on tracks like Out of Commission, Moral Bankruptcy and Manufactured Consent and they often pair these atonal guitar passages with monolithic, low-end riffs to make their impact that little bit more powerful, and my God does it work.

Helpless’ Debt is an extremely dense and unrelenting record that makes no apologies for being ridiculously heavy. Helpless use some extremely creative guitar work to create a dark and isolated atmosphere to make an absolute racket in. It may not be the most nuanced long-player you’ll hear, but it certainly delivers one of the most powerful and devastating heavy music experiences of 2017. Lord knows Helpless have a serious task ahead of them if they want to best this record with their next release.

9/10

Helpless’ Debt is out now and available to buy on vinyl and CD from Holy Roar Records.


Review: Stinky Wizzleteat’s Quit Drugs!

All hail the return of the Teat! There’s been a five year gap between releases and a lengthy hiatus for the Birmingham sludge-metallers, but Stinky Wizzleteat are back and with a new EP entitled Quit Drugs! and it’s probably the most expansive-sounding thing they’ve ever done.

Stinky Wizzleteat’s last outing was with 2012 EP Butterscotch Crucifixxx which saw the band a man down and contained no bass or vocals. It was certainly a valiant attempt at maintaining what the band is about, but it was clearly lacking. There is no such problem on Quit Drugs! and considering this is an independent release, it’s the biggest sounding record the band has put out to date.

We kick things off we Snack Heavy, a savage, bass-heavy stomper of an opener that encapsulates the unpredictable and progressive nature of the band perfectly. Stinky Wizzleteat have often sounded a little messy and unfocussed on previous releases, but here we have a band firing on all cylinders. This is tight, interesting and unashamedly heavy.

The next track Omar explores this mantra further with some really creative guitar work that generates some wonderfully bizarre riffs. We also get a reappearance of Asymmetrical Bashing from Butterscotch Crucifixxx, but this time it’s completely fleshed out with bass and vocals and sounds better than it ever has before.

In the closing two tracks Bingo Mandingo and DP, we see Stinky Wizzleteat slow things down and create some absolutely monolithic music in the process. Bingo Mandingo is a crushing little tune that moves into doom territory in its closing moments and DP sees the band explore a more psychedelic, desert rock style that doesn’t sound out of place at all. Considering how weird Stinky Wizzleteat can be, it’s fantastic to see how well these tracks have come together for this EP.

Stinky Wizzleteat’s Quit Drugs! is quite easily the best thing the band have produced to date. This is a really accomplished showcase of progressive, unpredictable sludge metal that manages to rein in the band’s eccentricities just enough to make a cohesive and absolutely punishing record. It would be great to see if the band have an equally effective long-player in them, but only time will tell. Welcome back, guys.

9/10

Stinky Wizzleteat’s Quit Drugs! is out now and available to download now direct from the band.


Review: Yards’ Excitation Thresholds

It’s been a long time coming but the debut long-player from Yards is finally here. Excitation Thresholds is a 33 minute metallic hardcore assault that noticeably benefits from the amount of time Yards have had to perfect their craft. Everything on this album is here for a reason and it never outstays its welcome.

Despite being a shouty, aggressive hardcore act, Yards have a lot of strings to their bow. During the first half of the album we see the band getting straight to the point and absolutely blasting our faces off with massive riffs, terrifying vocals and one of the thrashiest, loudest drumming performances put to record. The drums in particular are always front and centre in the mix and they really heighten the ferocity of the music on Excitation Thresholds.

But then Yards start to do something different. The tempo slows down a notch and favours a more mid-paced, stompy approach to heaviness that’s just as effective as when the band are going full steam. The album likes to jump between the two styles and it keeps the record fresh and exciting with every song. For example, the no-nonsense hardcore attack of War Tourist is followed by the mid-paced, chunky assault of Everything You Love Reduced to Rubble. This happens again with The Attic, which despite being 4 minutes long and crammed full of ideas, manages to go flat out for its entire run time. Then we get BL-755 which is an extremely bleak and oppressive track that deals more in atmosphere than savagery.

Yards manage to showcase some extremely diverse song-writing for a band that are this unashamedly aggressive. By the time we get to album closer The Shadow Stealer, we get to experience a song that encapsulates all the ideas that came before it in one mammoth 7 and a half minute beast. It’s fast, it’s dark, it’s atmospheric, it’s punishing. It’s everything Yards stand for and a career highlight for one of the most exciting bands in hardcore right now.

Yards’ Excitation Thresholds is an instant recommendation. If you want to hear a passionate, exciting hardcore band putting all their cards on the table and never putting a foot wrong then this is the album for you. Sure, it’s over pretty quickly, but any more time spent with music this visceral would be exhausting. It’s the perfect length for one of the most diverse and relentlessly savage debut albums in recent memory.

9/10

Yards’ Excitation Thresholds is out now and available to buy on vinyl from Truthseeker Music.