Review: Rolo Tomassi’s Grievances

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Rolo Tomassi have changed. I mean, of course they have; 3 of their original 5 members have left and the entirety of their rhythm section has been changed out. Their last album Astraea at least maintained the same drummer as their first 2 records but Grievances doesn’t even have this luxury.

So as you can expect the dynamic of the band has shifted significantly and this was also apparent on Astraea. Not only had the guitar work moved away from technical punk flourished with jazz in favour of a more traditional mathcore sound, but the song structures were considerably more rigid as a result. This has only become more apparent on the band’s 4th album Grievances.

Grievances follows a more solid foundation that doesn’t see the tempos change mid song like the Rolo Tomassi of old. This has the unfortunate effect of making the band more predictable. Some listeners may prefer this more focussed and direct Rolo Tomassi but for me part of the band’s appeal was always how utterly bat-shit insane their song-writing was. Grievances is tame in comparison.

Tame is a strong word. Rolo Tomassi are still a very aggressive and very progressive band with a huge sound. If you’re a fan of mathcore then songs like Estranged and The Embers will instantly appeal as they’re considerably well put together, it’s just they don’t sound like they come from the same band. It’s this notion that will greatly affect the appeal of the record. Rolo Tomassi fans of old will likely feel like something is missing while new fans will have a perfectly serviceable mathcore record to sink their teeth into.

If we take the album at face value then there is still plenty to enjoy. The guitar work is a wonderfully technical blend of dense riffs and noodly moments of guitar prowess. The drums hit you straight in the chest with a gloriously satisfying punch and the performances are tighter than a kitten stuck in a drain-pipe. Vocalist Eva Spence puts forward a dazzling display of throat-tearing aggression backed with some wonderfully introspective moments of haunting melodies. James Spence continues to move away from his chiptune-style keyboard effects in favour of more subtle sounds that help create some wonderful texture. The core mechanics of this album are expertly delivered and like I’ve already said, if you like mathcore then you can do no wrong than giving this album a listen.

But if you’re already a Rolo Tomassi fan then you’re bound to notice some of the magic has been lost. Grievances is not the frankly bizarre drug-trips of Hysterics and Cosmology and if you want to hear the band continue down that road of agitated punk crossed with jazz and chiptune sounds then you’ll be sorely disappointed. Rolo Tomassi have changed and whether that’s a good or a bad thing depends exactly on your familiarity with the band.

7/10

Rolo Tomassi’s Grievances is out now and can be ordered from Holy Roar Records.


Review: Allfather’s No Gods. No Masters.

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Allfather describe themselves as a sludge, doom and hardcore crossover act and while there’s elements of these genres in their sound I was pleasantly surprised to hear that they deal in the sort of groove metal and hardcore genre hybrid that the mighty Raging Speedhorn and Cancer Bats deal in.

Their debut EP No Gods. No Masters. is a thunderous display of chunky riffs and gruff, bellowed vocals. Opener The Great Destroyer lays down the foundations with a massive groove that will ignite some dangerous mosh pits. The riff is also accompanied with a meaty rhythm courtesy of drummer Kieron and it’s this satisfying combination that makes Allfather’s music so instantly enjoyable. Stick this on in a rock club and the high-kickers will go on a rampage.

No Gods. No Masters. continues to be a wonderfully no nonsense EP that’s big on fun. While the start of the EP leans more on mid-paced sludge metal stylings, the latter half is considerably punkier as a result. Post Austerity Blues and The Worms Won’t Have Us are short, sharp bursts of aggression that once again put forward a huge riff and some pounding drums to devastating effect. Allfather have managed to boil down their sound to its core elements and focus on beating you around the head with them and it’s nothing less than fantastic.

The only thing that really disappoints is how quick it’s all over with. With only 4 songs clocking in at just under 11 minutes, Allfather manage to whet our appetites for more chunky grooves and hardcore punk drumming but the EP ends rather abruptly. This is a real shame because by the end of the last song it feels like the EP should have a lot more to offer.

However this is a minor grievance in what is a seriously intense and satisfying combination of hardcore and groove metal. Allfather have stumbled onto a hugely entertaining sound that will satisfy both fans of metal and punk and I cannot personally wait to see where the band goes from here. No Gods. No Masters. is a debut that any band would be proud of.

8/10

Allfather’s No Gods. No Masters. is out now and available to download direct from the band.


Review: Employed to Serve’s Greyer than You Remember

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Employed to Serve have fucking arrived. Going from a 2 piece studio project to full blown metallic hardcore band has been a long journey and while the band’s previous EP Change Nothing, Regret Everything hinted at greatness, nothing could have prepared us for Greyer than You Remember.

Greyer Than You Remember marks Employed to Serve’s first foray into the world of long players and the moment Live Without bursts out the gate you’re instantly bludgeoned with some of the most devastatingly dense hardcore this side of a Converge record. Employed to Serve are clearly cut from the same sort of cloth as metallic hardcore’s finest like the aforementioned Converge, The Dillinger Escape Plan and Coalesce but this is a band born and bred in the UK’s hardcore scene and you can hear shades of Throats and Pariso running through their veins.

So let’s talk about the music because my God there’s a lot to dissect. Employed to Serve have given up on singing entirely in favour of sounding like a tornado is ripping through your home. Justine Jones’ vocal performance is nothing short of terrifying and she’s managed to evolve into one of the leading female screamers this country has to offer. Sammy Urwin continues to floor the opposition with as many riffs as he can produce and if anyone’s familiar with his work in either Oblivionized or Regurgitate Life you’ll know exactly what madness this man can achieve.

These two elements are bolstered by additional guitar work by James Jackson and bassist James Venning who give the record that devastating thickness. Tying everything together is a drum performance by Robbie Black who should probably be having a hard time keeping up with his band-mates but there are no such worries here. The drums have that wonderfully enormous live quality to them that producer Lewis Johns is so magnificent in capturing. Employed to Serve sound like a fucking rampage.

The band does manage to muster a few moments of melody like on the Vales-esque Bones to Break. These moments act as a temporary reprieve from the onslaught contained in the rest of the record and they show a wonderfully introspective side to the band that manages to add some real texture to the record.

It’s impossible to justify any criticism towards this record. Employed to Serve have absolutely mastered their craft and if dense, bastard-heavy hardcore is your thing than Greyer than You Remember is filled wall-to-wall with some of the genre’s finest moments. The album barely gives you a moment to breath in favour of demanding you mosh harder and it’s almost euphoric in its density.

9/10

Employed to Serve’s Greyer than You Remember is out now and available to order from Holy Roar Records.


News: Ben Aucott from Mage Passes Away

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We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Ben Aucott, guitarist for Scumscene-favourites Mage.

Ben’s passing is a figurative gut-punch that’s going to sting for quite some time. I’ve been an enormous fan of Mage since their first album and they’ve been kind enough to personally thank us in the liner notes for their last two releases. It’s always been a pleasure working with them and it pains me to say that we send our sympathies to Ben’s friends and family during this difficult time.

If there’s any positives to take from all this then let it be known that Ben managed to marry the love of his life just over a week ago. Ben’s a hero in my eyes.


Review: Maths’ The Fires Courting the Sea

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It’s been 4 years since Maths last graced us with new music back with 2011’s Ascent EP. The post hardcore/screamo noiseniks took an extended break from music to catch up with personal matters but the three-piece are back with The Fires Courting the Sea, a 6 track mini-album that essentially carries on directly where the band left off.

Maths are still a delightfully weird prospect. The band mix angular guitar riffs with moments of melodious beauty that manage to ebb and flow in a bizarrely natural way. While we use labels like post hardcore and screamo to help define the band, there’s a youthful punk energy running through this record and most songs barely scrape the 2 minute mark.

But what really sets the band apart are those wonderful moments of introspective melody like the introduction to The Water is the Colour of the Sky which creates wonderful imagery of British coastline and fleeting romances, much like the record’s artwork. Despite the bands insistence of screaming everything they have to say with all the strength they can muster, there’s real beauty in Maths’ blend of melodic punk rock and that still helps them stand out from the crowd even to this day.

Speaking of screaming, the performances on this record sound like they physically hurt. The blistering pace of the guitar work sounds like fingertips are being shredded. The drumming is equally exhausting to listen to as the drum fills are utterly relentless in their speed. You’d shift some serious weight if you could learn and perform these songs. Yet somehow Maths manage to put forward a record that’s enormous in scope and it moves in such a satisfying way that when it rolls to a close it genuinely feels like you’ve taken an intense, snap-shot tour of the highs and lows of someone’s life.

Maths’ The Fires Courting the Sea is a phenomenal melodic punk record which manages to cram some of the most beautiful yet utterly pissed off music it can into its 10 minutes. Maths are still one of the UK underground’s most treasured acts and it would be sacrilege for any punk fan to skip on this record. You know what to do.

9/10

Maths’ The Fires Courting the Sea is out now through Tangled Talk Records. Order a copy on vinyl by clicking here.


Review: TEEF’s Admit Defeat

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TEEF are a punk band and like all the best punk bands they deal in nasty, stompy music that will whip a club into a rampage that won’t end until the audience are pulverized by studded jackets. They’re the sort of punk band that live by a ‘no nonsense’ attitude which means their music is fast, loud and catchy. They’re basically everything you want a punk band to be and while they’ve sadly announced their split so early into their career, they’ve left behind one of the greatest UK punk records we’ve had the pleasure of listening to. It’s called Admit Defeat and not owning it should be made a crime.

Admit Defeat is everything you love about punk. It’s an abrasive, snotty, bouncy record that isn’t afraid to tell you to “fuck everything” in its opening track. While these ten tracks clock in at around eight minutes, TEEF take you on a whirlwind tour of everything that makes punk so hugely exciting and it’s an absolutely electrifying experience.

Every part of the TEEF puzzle is firing on all cylinders. The sheer amount of riffs stuffed into these eight minutes show an exhausting display of guitar talent that makes you wish you wrote every damn riff on the entire thing. The bass punctuates every massive chord and beat with stunning precision, the drumming performance is beautifully unruly and the vocals display a man who is so close to the edge that he’ll probably throw you off it. This is a seriously dangerous-sounding record.

Let’s talk highlights; opener Scum is a gritty mosh pit anthem with a riff so bouncy it’ll shake venues to their ashes. Cathartic Release rocks a riff so catchy you’ll be headbanging wherever you’re listening to it. The drums on Still Here are enormously fun and full of great fills that sound like they’re fuelled by the most insane caffeine rush. Let’s not forget about the vocals; the vocal performance is just so wonderfully disgusting throughout. The music is also complemented by a fantastic mix which is full of impact and is bizarrely clear considering how painfully raw the music is.

TEEF have put together one of punk’s brightest moments. Admit Defeat is a non-stop powerhouse of grotty violence that’s amazingly memorable despite its aggression. No band in the UK has managed to meld fury with song-writing this catchy nearly as well as TEEF have managed to here and it’s a massive shame that the band won’t be making anymore music. Admit Defeat might be the last TEEF record but as swan-songs go, this couldn’t be any better.

10/10

TEEF’s Admit Defeat is out now on cassette through COF Records and vinyl through Headless Guru Records.


Review: Patrons’ The Momentary Effects of Sunlight

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Patrons are a 4 piece alt rock band from Plymouth who are clearly influenced by luminaries like Biffy Clyro and In Case of Fire. Their second EP The Momentary Effects of Sunlight sees the band’s sound expand exponentially, creating a truly satisfying slab of emotional rock music.

Patrons manage to prove that over these 4 songs that they have an unnerving talent for writing music that ebbs and flows with wonderful fluidity. Songs like Circus kick off with a brilliantly off-kilter twangy riff that opens up into a soaring chorus before driving the whole thing home with a massive riff that could shake a house to its foundations. The movement of Patrons’ music is so natural that it makes for bizarrely easy listening considering the sheer amount of action contained within.

The band also make use of some famous post hardcore tricks like the quiet/loud dynamic. This becomes one of the most satisfying elements of Patrons’ sound as they often follow up their more subtle and understated moments with an enormous explosion of guitar euphoria.

We haven’t even spoken about the vocals which are exemplary throughout. Melodies are incredibly memorable, heart-on-sleeve affairs and when the music steps up a notch then the vocals follow suit. There’s some satisfying screams in here that really help deliver the notion that these boys really do sing it like they mean it.

Patrons have a seriously accomplished sound for a band this early in their career. The Momentary Effects of Sunlight is an EP loaded with fantastic song writing and the emphatic choruses are coupled with a lovely melding of delicate yet abrasive guitar work. If you’ve been looking for your new favourite rock band then look no further because Patrons might just be the one.

8/10

Patrons’ The Momentary Effects of Sunlight is out now and available to buy on CD direct from the band.


News: Christopher Lee Passes Away

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Christopher Lee has passed away.

While Lee is famous for his many acting roles which include Count Dracula, Scaramanga, King Haggard and Saruman, he is also known as a heavy metal vocalist and released two symphonic metal concept albums about King Charlemagne under his own name.

Christopher Lee was 93 at his time of passing and leaves behind an enduring legacy. UK Scumscene sends our deepest sympathies to Lee’s friends and family.


Review: Red Seas Fire’s Resolution

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Technical metalcore mob Red Seas Fire return with Resolution, a 4 track EP stuffed with the sort of tech metal that bands like Periphery and SikTh deal in. If constantly evolving prog metal stuffed with a thousand riffs, screamed vocals and soaring melodies sounds like something that’ll whet your appetite, then Red Seas Fire certainly deliver.

Red Seas Fire are actually a far more approachable prospect than a lot of tech metal bands as their heavier moments generally take on the sort of shape that metalcore often deals with. This means lot of double-bass drumming and the sort of single-chord beatdowns that I often don’t get on too well with. However, Red Seas Fire actually use these moments a lot more sparingly which means they never outstay their welcome before they segue into a beautiful melody like the one nearer the end of Blood Bank. There’s still no denying that this sort of heaviness is still a lazy excuse to have an obvious passage for people to mosh to, but at least Red Seas Fire understand how to temper these moments with some genuinely fantastic riffs and vocal melodies.

Sadly the band do get a bit bogged down in this territory for the 9 minute behemoth that is The Mistakes We Make; an apt song title for a song that spends too long worshipping down-tuned beatdowns and not doing enough to warrant it’s enormous length. This is a real shame because the band manage to prove elsewhere (and in the latter half of the song) that they’re genuinely talented songwriters who understand nuance and not just bludgeoning their listeners over the head with heaviness.

Resolution is a solid tech metal EP that’s at its best when the songs trade off their moshier moments with huge, anthemic melodies that will be stirring crowds into massive sing-a-longs. Red Seas Fire clearly have the ability to write great metal but their over-reliance on beatdowns means they undersell their abilities. Thankfully the better moments on Resolution shine brighter than the duller, chuggy, one-chord riffs that the band often deal in and the whole EP pops with a satisfying chunky mix that will get your head banging in no time.

7/10

Red Seas Fire’s Resolution is out now and available to download for free via the band’s website.


Review: Kill the Silence’s Kill the Silence

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Kill the Silence are a post hardcore band that sound like Bring Me The Horizon’s later, stadium rock work mixed with more radio-bothering, metalcore influences like those found of an album by The Defiled. Their debut self-titled EP sees the boys firmly setting their eyes on the big time.

The band’s post hardcore-meets-metalcore sound makes for some interesting song structures. The less heavy-handed, straight forward rock elements of the band’s music are generally accompanied with singing but this is often changed up for screaming when the guys decide to get their mosh on.

Sadly the band can’t get the two styles to meld naturally. Kill the Silence often sound better when their songs are more melodious and catchy but then they break the flow to add a beatdown or two for the sake of heaviness. Get Out! Get Out! suffers from this and songs like S.S.D.D. and Chapter II also manage to end in silly beatdown territory.

The real problem with the band’s music is how forgettable it all is. The vocals rarely stumble upon a memorable melody and considering the overdriven nature of the guitar work, the band never manages to drive home a massive riff. None of this is helped by the reliance on single-chord beatdowns which don’t add any melody anyway. The weak production doesn’t even give these moments any impact.

Kill the Silence are clearly attempting to find a sound that doesn’t just riff off someone else’s but they haven’t quite got the song-writing talent to make their music flow naturally through their anthemic rock stylings and into their own blend of macho metalcore. Kill the Silence end up being a very average and by-the-books exploration of heavy guitar music with barely any defining characteristics of their own.

4/10

Kill the Silence’s debut self-titled EP is out now and available to buy direct from the band.


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