Review: Boss Keloid’s Melted on the Inch

Boss Keloid’s previous offering, Herb Your Enthusiasm, was an album that was obviously pretty comfortable with just being another stoner metal offering and sometimes if you enjoy a genre enough then you’re happy to riff on established tropes and not explore much else to set you apart. With their follow-up, Melted on the Inch, Boss Keloid make a conceited effort to not be just another stoner band and put forward one of the most difficult to define and progressive records ever.

Melted on the Inch is such a drastic step-up in musicianship that it’s bizarre to think this is the same band. We’ve had some tweaks to the band’s line-up since the last record with original bassist Liam Pendlebury-Green returning, but the most significant change is the addition of Matthew Milne on keyboards. Milne adds extra atmospherics and depth to Boss Keloid’s music, with his dreamy melodies adding a spacy, floaty quality to the soundscape.

Speaking of soundscape, tracks like Peykruve really do help conjure up images of vast, barren landscapes. Boss Keloid’s music has a wonderful lilting quality to it as it gently sways between dreamy space-rock passages accompanied with Alex Hurst’s bluesy vocals and groovy, thunderous riffs. It’s the sort of music you can’t help but move to.

The song-writing really does deserve a special mention here because Boss Keloid constantly ask you to commit to 7 minute epics, but thanks to the sheer amount of grooves, technicality and constantly evolving melodies on display it never feels like padding. There might be only 6 songs on this album but those 6 songs contain so many ideas and creativity that they’re actually disguising the music contained within.

With Melted on the Inch, Boss Keloid have evolved from, “just another stoner band” to, “prog-sludge behemoths”. Melted on the Inch is such a confident and experimental release that anyone who is a fan of the slower, groovier side of metal will be doing their record collection a massive disservice if they don’t pick up this album.

9/10

Boss Keloid’s Melted on the Inch is out now and available to buy through Holy Roar Records.

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Review: Deus Vermin’s Monument of Decay

Deus Vermin describe themelves as, “black metal-infused death metal from Leeds” and a combination of two such extreme genres always makes me think that PR people might be overcompensating for a band just sounding a bit heavy. Surprisingly, Deus Vermin are about as unfathomably heavy as you could possibly imagine and that description is pretty much on the nose.

Their debut EP Monument to Decay is such a strong start to the band’s career that it sounds like it should be coming after a string of successful releases and not a single 2 track demo. Deus Vermin’s music is so intense and diverse that within a single song it can quickly shift between double-bass drumming, blast beats, tremolo-picked guitar and evil, down-tuned riffs and make it all sound coherent and necessary.

Deus Vermin are quite progressive in this regard and vastly ignore the need for anything like choruses (not that they would have added much in music where the vocals are entirely screamed). Tracks like Iniquity and Worms even have passages that strip back the intensity for a moment to create some really dissonant, creepy atmosphere before launching back into the blast beats. Everything Deus Vermin put forward is so well considered and their execution is so perfect that it flows surprisingly naturally for such a heavy release.

What’s also interesting is the choice of production which manages to keep enough reverb in the mix to make the music sound like it’s being performed live. Death metal in particular normally favours a very clean mix so you can fully appreciate the level of musicianship that goes into creating such technically proficient music, but Deus Vermin give their music a little more edge by choosing a nastier, raw production style.

Monument of Decay by Deus Vermin is quite frankly an incredible start to this band’s career. These 6 tracks are home to some of the most disgustingly vicious death metal and showcase a level of song-writing that clearly proves Deus Vermin are a band bursting with ideas. There doesn’t feel like there’s a single moment of wasted space in these 21 minutes and if that’s a miraculous achievement for such a new band.

10/10

Deus Vermin’s Monument of Decay is out now and available to buy on limited edition cassette from FHED Records.


Review: Unease’s Society’s Possessed

Newly formed Brighton hardcore outfit Unease have burst out the gates with Society’s Possessed – a 6 track EP spread over 10 minutes that melds hardcore with nasty, crunchy, black metal production. It’s an extremely confrontational style that allows them to put together songs that contain the pure speed of hardcore but with the added oppressive atmosphere that comes with the darkest black metal.

Society’s Possessed may be over and done with fairly quickly, but there’s a hell of a lot going on in those 10 minutes that’s worthy of your attention. Musically Unease structure their songs in a typical hardcore fashion. There’s no blast beats or tremolo-picking to be heard here – it’s all fast-paced drums, big riffs and tortuous, reverb-laden screaming with songs never outstaying their welcome. The longest track is the self-titled opener which clocks in at 2 minutes and 21 seconds.

However, it’s the production choice that really sets this EP apart. Everything sounds super-compressed with the mix favouring the high-end sounds. This is most noticeable in the guitar work which now takes on the buzz-saw tone of an Entombed record, but somehow even more distorted. It’s extremely reminiscent to the low-fi nature of black metal production, but thankfully none of the low-end heft of the bass and drumming is lost in the mix – a common occurrence in black metal.

If anything, the mix is probably going to be the thing that splits people’s opinions on this EP. Some might find it too harsh on the ears, while others might enjoy the added aggression it gives the music. We certainly fall into the latter camp, but it might prove to be a barrier for some.

Unease’s Society Possessed puts forward a no-nonsense hardcore assault on the ears that stands out from the crowd thanks to its black metal leanings. This is an extremely fast and confrontational affair that will leave you begging for more. Fingers crossed that Unease can produce a satisfying follow-up fast because we absolutely need it.

8/10

Unease’s Society’s Possessed is out now and available to download direct from the band.


Review: Bloody Mammals’ What Have You Done?

It’s been 5 years since London post hardcore outfit Bloody Mammals released any new music and despite starting to record a follow-up to 2013 mini album Eventually Your House Will Burn Down in 2014, the band moved apart and it never got finished. Now in 2018, Bloody Mammals have seen fit to polish up what they were working on and release it to the world, resulting in the debut album, What Have You Done?

What Have You Done? is a bittersweet release because the band are still scattered around the country and probably won’t get to tour it. It might even be the last music the band release, but if that’s the case then this is one hell of a swansong. The band’s angular guitar work is back in full force and every song on this album is absolutely crammed with riffs and a frantic personality that makes the whole record feel immediate and crucial.

There’s a real showcase of variety here as well. The dissonant, spiky, punk rock of Behind Glass is followed by the more groovy and metallic Toothless, and then we’re treated to Death on Credit which has more of a tuneful, alternative rock flavour to it. Thankfully Bloody Mammals manage to meld all these styles successfully into their own sound and the album never sounds like a random, scattershot collection of ideas chucked at a wall.

If there’s one negative you could level against What Have You Done? it’s that the mix is a bit flat. It’s the sort of mix you’d expect from an album 20 years older – demanding that you turn your hi-fi up a little more to compensate for older production methods. This isn’t the biggest complaint and some might actually enjoy the increased dynamic range and refusal to abide by modern loudness wars, but a little more prevalent low-end would have really set off some of the angrier numbers like The Cremation Fields.

In conclusion, Bloody Mammals’ What Have You Done? is a wonderful post hardcore record by a band that shone bright for a very short time and then seemingly just went away. Getting new music from the band in 2018 was a welcome surprise and considering a lot of this music dates back 4 years, it still sounds as vital as ever. Fingers crossed this isn’t the last we hear from Bloody Mammals but even if it is, what a hell of a record to go out on.

8/10

Bloody Mammals’ What Have You Done? is out now and available to download direct from the band.


Review: Rash Decision’s Karoshi

It never fails to amuse me that one of the most intense hardcore punk bands in the country comes from the sunny seaside town of Falmouth in Cornwall, but that’s absolutely the case with Rash Decision. They are also becoming one of the most consistently enjoyable punk acts with every release and their latest long-player, Karoshi, is no exception (I’m not sure 20 minutes can really be regarded a long-player, but there are 14 songs here so maybe we’ll make an exception).

Now Rash Decision aren’t going to be winning any awards for originality with Karoshi. This is another short, sharp shock of a record with songs averaging about a minute and a half. The band play at breakneck speed and scream a lot, but their simplicity works in their favour. Once again the guitar work is an absolute highlight. Riffs are fast and furious and will earworm their way into your psyche without you even realising it. The music is equal parts catchy punk rock and thrash metal and it’s expertly executed and complimented by a lovely, clean mix that showcases how tight Rash Decision’s performance is.

But what really sticks with you is just how fun everything is. Despite razor-sharp performances from everyone, there’s a certain tongue-in-cheek nature to the song writing that will always put a smile on your face. If it isn’t the bands non-stop use of profanity or bouncy bass-lines, it’s their snotty vocal delivery and use of overly confrontational quotes and samples. It’s not exactly clever, but it is nice hearing a band with a sense of humour and it always comes across as amusing instead of offensive.

Karoshi isn’t doing anything the band haven’t already done before, but Rash Decision have absolutely nailed their sound down so well that a divergence in style at this point in their careers would feel unnatural and forced. Rash Decision are a hardcore punk band who like to play loud and fast and have a good time doing it and in this political climate, that’s an absolute Godsend. We need bands like Rash Decision because everyone needs a place to vent and have a bloody good time doing so. Thanks lads – I needed this.

8/10

Rash Decision’s Karoshi is out now and available to buy on limited edition vinyl direct from the band.


Review: Allfather’s And All Will Be Desolation

It’s the return of Kent sludgecore outfit, Allfather! Their return heralds their sophomore long-player, And All Will Be Desolation – an album about fighting back against injustice and oppression that leans heavier into sludge metal than ever before.

While Allfather’s beginnings are rooted in the hardcore scene, And All Will Be Desolation has a noticeably more metal sound to it that brings to mind luminaries like EyeHateGod. That isn’t to say that the hardcore influence on Allfather’s music has been completely lost, but it’s used to greater effect. There are shorter songs like Citadels which definitely go ‘full hardcore’ with great, Raging Speedhorn-like effect, but tracks like opener Black Triangle begin with a faster, thrashier riff and then break down into a sludge metal passage to equally satisfying effect. Regardless of genre-crossover, you can always bet on every song being chockful of groove. It’s the sort of music you’ll absolutely want to be moving to.

Speaking of a shift towards a more metal sound, Allfather show a lot of love for a good guitar solo. This is an album that always puts a guitar solo in the most opportune moments. Solos are never over-used, but when a song needs a little extra something to help it build to a crescendo, you can always bet there’s a damn fine solo waiting for you.

Complimenting all of the album’s disgusting riffs and grunty vocals is a suitably dirty production job by the ever-reliable Jason Frye at Century Audio. Frye’s work makes the music sound like a live performance and it captures the intensity of Allfather’s sound perfectly. A sharper, cleaner sound just wouldn’t have been as satisfying.

Allfather’s And All Will Be Desolation is an incredible follow-up to their 2016 effort, Bless the Earth With Fire. It’s a more confident album that stays interesting even when the running time of the songs looks a little daunting. 7 minute tracks? They go by in a flash and you’ll be banging your head the whole time.

9/10

Allfather’s And All Will Be Desolation releases on September 7th 2018 via Rotting Throne Records. Click here to pre-order the album on CD.


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.


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.