Review: Slabdragger’s Rise of the Dawncrusher

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It’s been a long time coming, but Slabdragger are back in action with their sophomore album Rise of the Dawncrusher; a massive, sludgy, behemoth of a concept album that improves on their debut in every conceivable way. Got your attention?

Slabdragger were already a force to be reckoned with and their debut album Regress showcased their ultra-dense grooves and long-form song structures in a fantastic way, but with Rise of the Dawncrusher, everything is now even heavier without sacrificing melody and it’s just glorious. Genuinely glorious. I felt like I was having a metal epiphany listening to this record. I imagine if Hendrix was into Black Sabbath, this is the sort of thing he’d make.

Opening with the 11 minute beast that is Mercenary Blues, Slabdragger put their quite brilliant guitar work front and centre and it makes for a seriously punishing yet hugely memorable experience that will keep fans of all things slow and groovy extremely satisfied. The amount of amazing riffs in this song should be illegal and they all deserve to be included in ‘Top 10 Riffs of All Time’ articles.

It doesn’t end there. This record is an absolute monster from start to finish. Slabdragger follow up the opening track with the unashamedly ripping Evacuate!; one of the most disgustingly noisy things Slabdragger have ever concocted. Then it’s back to the groove with the monstrous Shrine of Debauchery; a song with a title so metal it’s probably chrome-plated.

Look, I realise this review is big on the hyperbole, but it’s not often I’m given a record so delicious and as utterly mouth-watering as Rise of the Dawncrusher. It’s everything I want from a sludge record and more and it’s honestly quite difficult to believe it actually exists.

The UK is spoilt for great sludge as Slabdragger are competing with other brilliant acts like Limb, Gurt, Monolithian and Opium Lord, but Rise of the Dawncrusher sets a new standard for UK sludge metal. Slabragger have written a follow-up so utterly devastating that it demands your attention. Slabdragger, man; what a band.

10/10

Slabdragger’s Rise of the Dawncrusher is out now and available to buy on CD and vinyl from Holy Roar Records.


Review: Psython’s …Outputs

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Thrash punk outfit Psython have arrived in a terrifically scrappy fashion on their debut album …Outputs. Sounding more than a little like Send More Paramedics and Evile; Psython hit the ground running with one of the most instantly enjoyable metal albums I’ve heard in quite some time.

What instantly strikes you about Psython’s attitude is they’re clearly a band who like to have a good laugh. Opening with a track called Careless Whispers obviously evokes memories of that bloody George Michael song, but this is an absolute barnstormer of a thrash song. Fast-paced, aggressive, technically proficient and with a huge solo to boot, Psython know how to get your attention. Oh, and they finish the track off with the riff from Michael’s Careless Whisper; those cheeky scamps.

The speed of this record continues on an upwards trajectory with a series of absolute ragers that include Dave 1.1, Blunt and GBQ. This is all vastly enjoyable stuff with razor-sharp, galloping riffs that are bound to ignite some dangerous action in the pit. For a band so early into their career, Psython are surprisingly accomplished musicians.

Thankfully, Psython do see fit to change the pace of …Outputs around the halfway mark. When DNA rolls around, Psython decide to get their groove on for some slow-burning yet crushing stompers that showcase another side to Psython’s heaviness and it’s a welcome inclusion. It was obvious the band was going to have a hard time keeping up such a frantic pace, but this is a welcome shift in tone that manages to keep things heavy but gives the listener a breather at the same time.

The only detriment to this shift in pace is that it becomes apparent that Psython are a more exciting band when they’re going absolutely balls to the wall. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with the slower tracks on …Outputs, but I just find myself having a more enjoyable time when it feels like I’m giving myself whiplash.

All in all, Psython have burst out the gates with a vicious slab of thrash-punk that will satisfy metal-heads and punk fans alike. …Outputs is a stupidly enjoyable debut from a band who you should definitely have on your radar.

8/10

Psython’s …Outputs is released on the 1st of April directly through the band on CD and digital download.


Review: Karybdis’ Samsara

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London metalcore outfit Karybdis return for their sophomore album Samsara. Despite having a sound heavily rooted in metalcore with its heavy use of single-chord rhythms, Karybdis layer their music with soaring leads and occasional flourishes of symphonic metal and melodeath. This means Karybdis sound less like Killswitch Engage and more like Machine Head or Sylosis.

So Karybdis have a very accomplished and diverse sound that sits closer to groove and thrash metal. If we ignore subgenres for a second, Karybdis offer up a powerful metal record that draws from a wide range of influences that when put together sound exclusively like Karybdis.

The guitar work on Samsara carries most of the music’s melody. The title track is a great example of this, with its melodeath riffs punching you in the gut during its verses, but then breaking out into some seriously epic leads during the chorus. It makes a very angry song sound almost euphoric and it’s glorious to behold. We’re also treated to an amazing guitar solo that displays a masterful level of musicianship.

As previously mentioned, Karybdis’ music is built on a very noticeable metalcore rhythm with its heavy use of driving, single-chord riffs paired with double-bass drumming. This gives the band a very contemporary sound that they’ve seen fit to garnish with elements of other subgenres. For example Forsaken begins with a high-paced thrash riff, Summon the Tides is interspersed with that lovely, bombastic, symphonic sound that bands like Dimmu Borgir or Blind Guardian deal in and songs like the title track definitely display shades of that wonderful Gothenburg, melodic death metal sound.

Vocally the record even manages to be pretty varied despite the almost exclusive use of screamed vocals. The vocals often switch between low-pitched, death metal growls for verses, and high-pitched, raspy screams for choruses. Occasionally the band even breaks out into a massive, soaring melody like during the chorus of Rorschach or even the delicate, operatic melodies that accompany the rhythms of Summon the Tides. It’s incredibly striking vocal work that once again keeps the album varied.

Karybdis have put together a smorgasbord of metal subgenres and masterfully fused them into a sound that is exclusive to the band. Samsara is a metal album that heavy music fans will be championing for years to come and it establishes Karybdis as one of the UK’s best metal acts.

9/10

Karybdis’ Samsara is out now and available to buy direct from the band.


Review: Razoreater’s Vacuum of Nihil

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It’s been a long time since we had a new offering from power violence/grindcore mob Razoreater, with only a trickle of new music via 2014’s live split with Oblivionized. Thankfully 2016 has seen fit to bless us with the most unashamedly relentless release Razoreater have ever produced and it’s called Vacuum of Nihil.

This EP does not mess about; this is 5 of Razoreater’s most visceral offerings and fans of Trap Them and Full of Hell will find a lot to love. Razoreater are still worshipping at the altar of the Boss HM-2 pedal and that crunchy, scuzzy tone is put to brilliant use. Every chord is paired with an equally punishing cymbal crash to give every groove the impact it deserves. This is extremely satisfying stuff.

New to Razoreater’s music is more liberal use of blast-beats and tremolo-picked guitar riffs that give Vacuum of Nihil more of a death metal sound. This means that despite the sheer, unabashed heaviness of this EP, Razoreater have put together one of their most diverse offerings. Tracks like Bloodeagled even manage to slow things down to a nice sludgy pace to allow the listener to really savour those mighty grooves.

We even close on another Razoreater first; a power electronics track. The closing moments of Filth Scheming, Shrill Screaming is a thoroughly oppressive burst of harsh noise that is cleverly pressed onto vinyl with an endless run-out groove. I didn’t even realise the track was looping on my initial spin of the record which is a masterstroke on Razoreater’s part.

Vacuum of Nihil is a loud, noisy, racket of a metal EP and it contains Razoreater’s finest work to date. This band has only managed to get more ferocious with every record and still manage to find new ways to assault your ears. Vacuum of Nihil might have been a long time coming but when Razoreater deliver a record as disgustingly vicious as this it makes you realise that it might have all been worth it. This is an essential UK metal release.

10/10

Razoreater’s Vacuum of Nihil is out now on limited edition vinyl through Skin & Bones Records and Wooaaargh.


Total Rock: Catbird’s Sunday Roasting 17/1/2016

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On Sunday the 17th of January 2016 we finally returned to Total Rock to appear on Catbird’s Sunday Roasting! If you missed our appearance on the show then you can click below to listen to the podcast on MixCloud. Here’s a list of our picks and the time-stamps for each song are listed beside them:

11:59 – SikTh – Philistine Philosophies
42:18 – Boxkite – Cycles
50:29 – TORPOR – As Waves Crash
1:04:23 – Gnarwolves – Boneyard
1:14:25 – I, The Lion – Hold Strong
1:20:21 – Eulogy – Deaf Cult
1:44:17 – Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters – Chopsticks and Bad Meatballs
1:50:20 – Iced Out – Man’s Ruin
1:53:58 – TEEF – Consumed
1:56:25 – Samoans – Stompbox
2:05:06 – Mage – One for the Road


Year End: The 10 Best Albums of 2015

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10) Let’s Talk Daggers – A Beautiful Life

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“Regardless, Let’s Talk Daggers have made one of the most electric rock albums of the year. If you can appreciate guitar music that doesn’t sacrifice technicality for song-writing then Let’s Talk Daggers have delivered a record that does just that and even more. A Beautiful Life is an absolute tidal wave of riffs, tempo changes and yelping and despite the madness of its contents, Let’s Talk Daggers have brought it all together into one cohesive yet exhausting piece.”

Click here to read the full review.

9) Limb – Terminal

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“Terminal is the natural continuation from Limb’s self-titled debut and it’s an infinitely more enjoyable and masterfully crafted slab of hard rock. The band haven’t rested on their laurels and continue to get better on every record they release. The pressure is certainly on for the next release, lads!”

Click here to read the full review.

8) Torpor – From Nothing Comes Everything

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London doom behemoth Torpor wiped the floor with the rest of the doom offerings this year. The long-form nature of Torpor’s songs is beautifully tempered by the bands wonderful song-writing which ebbs and flows in a wonderfully natural way that means that 11 minute monsters like From This Time never outstay their welcome. Every riff on From Nothing Comes Everything is a crushing beast of a thing that demands some serious head-banging. This record is a real masterclass of doom song-writing.

Full review coming soon.

7) Svalbard – One Day All This Will End

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“By the end of the closing moments of Lily, Svalbard have taken you on a post hardcore journey like no other. One Day All This Will End is one of the best punk releases birthed in the UK and Svalbard have mastered an amazingly eclectic sound that’s equal parts angry, beautiful and forlorn. One Day All This Will End is essential listening to fans of post hardcore and a welcoming introduction to anyone looking to explore the more progressive side of hardcore.”

Click here to read the full review.

6) Employed to Serve – Greyer Than You Remember

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“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.”

Click here to read the full review.

5) xRepentancex – The Sickness of Eden

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“xRepentancex have delivered a debut album that’s so furious it feels like it could tear apart at the seams. The Sickness of Eden is a hardcore record every fan of the genre should own and it’s almost beautiful in its sheer relentlessness. God knows how you follow an album this consistent. Good luck guys.”

Click here to read the full review.

4) Press to Meco – Good Intent

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“Press to Meco have delivered an album that showcases exactly what the trio are capable of. It’s a glorious, exciting monster of a record that is stuffed with technical wizardry and choruses so big that they deserve to be blasted across festival audiences all summer long.”

Click here to read the full review.

3) Old Skin – Beneath the Trees

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Old Skin’s debut album was the most bittersweet release of the year because while it is one of the best metallic hardcore albums this country has ever produced, its release also marked the demise of the band. Given away as a pay-what-you-want download to mark the final chapter of Old Skin’s career, this is an apocalyptic hardcore onslaught that never lets up. Old Skin might be gone but they’ve left behind one of the most disgustingly heavy records this country has ever produced and it deserves to be heard by everyone.

Full review coming soon.

2) Oblivionized – Life is a Struggle, Give Up

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“Life is a Struggle, Give Up is Oblivionized firing on all cylinders. This is an unforgiving attack of tech-metal, grind and deathcore that is sculpted with finite detail and it’s not afraid to hit you over the head with a monolithic riff for good measure. This might be an exhausting ordeal on your first listen, but give it the time it deserves and it will slowly unveil a metal record for the ages.”

Click here to read the full review.

1) Caïna – Setter of Unseen Snares

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“Setter of Unseen Snares is an album of unbridled fury, bleak atmosphere and eventually, shimmering post metal beauty. This is one of the most diverse and brilliantly executed black metal albums I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to and it deserves to be heard by more than just fans of the genre.”

Click here to read the full review.

Notable Mentions
Monolithian – The Finest Day I Ever Lived, Was When Tomorrow Never Came. (click here to read the full review)


Year End: The 10 Best EPs of 2015

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10) Geist – Faith Healing

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Faith Healing ends with a monologue about the futility of worshipping a God who hasn’t done anything to prove that he actually, “loves you”. It’s a stark, bleak ending to an EP loaded with some of the most unforgiving hardcore the UK has to offer and a timely reminder that we need bands like Geist to provide a visceral release from the shitstorm that is real life.

Click here to read the full review.

9) Boxkite – Self Titled

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“Boxkite have burst out the gates with a hardcore debut that doesn’t mess about. This is 6 tracks of solid, bouncy yet strangely forlorn punk that leaves a serious mark. Anyone looking for the next great UK hardcore band might want to seriously consider grabbing Boxkite’s debut EP while it’s hot; you won’t regret it.”

Click here to read the full review.

8) Eulogy – Eternal Worth

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“Eulogy have hit their stride on Eternal Worth. This is a record that doesn’t mess about and gets straight to the point. This is a laser-focussed metallic hardcore assault that is big on groove and if the name change wasn’t a big enough indicator, it marks an important step up for Eulogy as a band.”

Click here to read the full review.

7) Simmer – Yellow Streak

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“Simmer’s Yellow Streak is a rare gem of a record. The EP is full of soaring melodies and satisfying riffs that are punctuated with a beautifully reflective vocal performance. Even though this is only the band’s second EP, it feels like they’ve already mastered their craft and Yellow Streak might be a defining moment in their career.”

Click here to read the full review.

6) Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters – Earth Hog

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“Earth Hog is an easy recommendation to make. If you’ve ever enjoyed a riff that might result in whiplash then Chubby have delivered an absolute haven of guitar wizardry. Earth Hog is loaded with some of the best grooves stoner rock has to offer and it’s one of the most satisfying debuts of any band.”

Click here to read the full review.

5) I, The Lion – Run

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“I, The Lion’s Run is a wonderful celebration of riff rock. It’s a gargantuan-sounding EP loaded with some of alt-rock’s most thunderous melodies and it constantly evolves and welcomes new ideas into it’s already accomplished sound. A lacklustre opening hides one of rock’s most enjoyable EPs and I, The Lion need to be a band you start paying immediate attention to.”

Click here to read the full review.

4) Iced Out – Man’s Ruin

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“Iced Out have finally found their comfort zone. Man’s Ruin is an enormous, towering beast of an EP that sees the band embrace slower tempos and tunings so low you might soil yourself. Now it’s time for Iced Out to take their sludgecore leanings and finally deliver the sort of devastating album that Man’s Ruin is threatening to. Good luck, boys; we’re looking forward to it.”

Click here to read the full review.

3) Maths – The Fires Courting the Sea

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“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.”

Click here to read the full review.

2) SikTh – Opacities

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“Opacities is a fantastic comeback by one of the most dearly missed UK metal acts. SikTh are just as exciting and vital as they’ve ever been and despite the 9 year gap between Opacities and Death of a Dead Day, it genuinely feels like the band have never been away. Opacities has a wonderfully natural progression to it and it sounds exactly like the follow-up to Death of a Dead Day that we all dreamed of. It feels wonderful to finally say this but welcome back SikTh. We’ve really missed you.”

Click here to read the full review.

1) TEEF – Admit Defeat

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“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.”

Click here to read the full review.


Year End: The Best 5 Splits of 2015

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5) Nomadic Rituals/Tome

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“This 14 minute behemoth entitled The Great Dying begins with a gentle, low-end rumble and then unleashes a horrendous, down-tuned chord that could shake a building to its foundation.”

“Clocking in at 11 minutes, Tome deal in a similar, funeral-doom-esque march but their riffs are more memorable in comparison to Nomadic Rituals who use their guitars to build atmosphere.”

Click here to read the full review.

4) Yards/Astrid Lindgren/Rites/We Are Dust

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This is an extremely diverse offering of various punk subgenres. Smithsfoodgroup and LTD Records managed to band together UK hardcore punk mob Yards, Polish screamo merchants Astrid Lindgren, Netherlands emo outfit Rites and German metallic hardcore bruisers We Are Dust for this hugely eclectic but shouty offering. Special mention has to be given to Yards who manage to sound more furious than ever.

Full review coming soon.

3) Oi Polloi/Grand Collapse

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What we have here is a double-dose of lairy punk from oiky punk stalwarts Oi Polloi and Scumscene favourites Grand Collapse. While Oi Polloi get straight to the point and generally put together songs that have more memorable hooks (e.g. GCHQFU), Grand Collapse continue to tear a seriously aggressive streak through the UK underground punk scene and songs like Turn Coat are an absolutely vicious riff attack.

Full review coming soon.

2) Samoans/Freeze the Atlantic

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“This split from Samoans and Freeze the Atlantic is a great bit of fun that showcases both bands at the very top of their game. Fans of heavy rock music are given an incredibly diverse display of alt rock, post rock and post hardcore that manages to meld together in a strangely cohesive package.”

Click here to read the full review.

1) Irk/Wren

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What an absolutely electric offering this split is. Irk continue to blow us away with their groove-laden blend of tech metal and noise rock. There is simply nothing as satisfyingly unique as Irk and you have to make sure you’re exposed to their music right away. London doomsters Wren also put together a hearty selection of doom anthems that encapsulate the bleak feeling of loneliness. This is extremely dark and brooding metal that is perfectly executed. This is an essential split for fans of heavy music.

Full review coming soon.

Notable Mentions
Bastions/Burning Bright – Swan Songs
Employed to Serve/A Ghost Orchestra


News: Motörhead’s Lemmy Dies at 70

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This is it guys. Probably the most influential figure in British heavy music has passed away.

Motörhead’s Ian Fraser Kilmister, known to the world largely as Lemmy, has died “after a short battle with an extremely aggressive cancer”. There’s hardly anything that can be said about Lemmy that hasn’t already been said. Motörhead are probably one of the most important bands in heavy music and they cross-over rock, punk and thrash better than any band. Everyone is influenced by Motörhead.

Lemmy leaves behind a fantastic legacy. Lemmy appeared on 3 Hawkwind albums before starting Motörhead who leave behind a ridiculously huge back-catalogue of 22 albums. Lemmy was the only consistent member of the band but Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee have been apart of Motörhead since 1984 and 1992 respectively, becoming the longest serving guitarists and drummers that Motörhead ever had.

Rest in peace Lemmy; you’re earned it.


Review: Samoans’ and Freeze the Atlantic’s Split EP

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Samoans and Freeze the Atlantic have seen fit to produce a split EP to accompany their October tour. Both bands have produced a new song and a cover of one of each other’s songs in the BYO Split Series mould.

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Samoans have a wonderfully diverse offering on this split. Opener Wrong Cops sees the band exploring alt rock territories with comparisons to Transmit Disrupt-era Hell is for Heroes coming to mind. It’s a wonderfully dreamy bit of rock music that’s big on noodly guitar work and it’s drenched in Daniel Barnett’s soaring vocal melodies.

Then we approach Samoans cover which is something pretty special indeed. A take on Freeze the Atlantic’s Stompbox, Samoans strip the song back to its bones and concentrate on that wonderful riff that kicks the whole thing into gear. Instead of being the high-paced rocker that it took in its original form, Samoans’ version of Stompbox slows the riff down and amps up the distortion to give the whole thing a Deftones vibe that reminds us of Minerva. Stompbox now plods along with an Earth-shattering groove that Samoans are so fond of incorporating.

This is extremely strong stuff from Samoans that further cements their more considered post rock approach that the band implemented on their previous record. Samoans deal in large-scale, floaty melodies that are punctuated with dirty great walls of distortion and it’s still an absolute joy to listen to.

8/10

FREEZE THE ATLANTIC

Freeze the Atlantic have had a pretty rocky start to their career and they’re already on their third vocalist. While we were previously left a bit hollow by Liv Puente’s performance on their previous self-titled record, Puente has hit his stride on new song The Floor is Made of Lava. This is a far moodier and more musically interesting offering from the band that doesn’t follow the standard hard rock structures they’ve previously explored. This is more like a post hardcore song and it reminds us of bands like Radio Alcatraz. This is creatively a big step up for Freeze the Atlantic and we completely welcome it.

Now we approach Freeze the Atlantic’s cover. What’s interesting with this song is they actually opt to make Samoans’ I Am Your Density more approachable by changing the structure to something that flows more like a traditional rock song. This is quite a nice trade-off between the two bands that showcases exactly what they both do so well. Freeze the Atlantic do a fantastic job of making this their own and see fit to add a massive riff that will get the crowds jumping.

Freeze the Atlantic have definitely improved dramatically as song-writers and thanks to a stronger vocal performance from Puente it feels like all the pieces have finally fallen into the right places. I personally cannot wait to see what the band deliver on their next long-player.

9/10

This split from Samoans and Freeze the Atlantic is a great bit of fun that showcases both bands at the very top of their game. Fans of heavy rock music are given an incredibly diverse display of alt rock, post rock and post hardcore that manages to meld together in a strangely cohesive package.

Samoans and Freeze the Atlantic’s split EP is out now and can be bought directly from either band.


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