Review: Iced Out’s Man’s Ruin

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Durham sludgecore nihilists Iced Out have returned for another short burst of down-tuned filth with the release of their third EP, Man’s Ruin. The band’s previous EP Jukai began to show elements of a slower, lurching song style that has more in common with sludge metal than hardcore and Iced Out have made a much bigger step into the world of sludge for this EP.

Slow tempos really suit Iced Out’s brand of punishment. Opening track For the Covern features a neck-snapping riff that is punctuated by some of the most powerful drumming the band have ever produced. By making a more conceited effort to explore the more the darker and moodier side of their music, Iced Out have finally created a sound they can claim as their own.

With this new found confidence, Iced Out have also created the best song of their career so far. The title track of Man’s Ruin has the quintessential Iced Out riff; a nasty, bass-heavy stomper that threatens to leap out of the stereo and drag you into the nearest pit. However, the Entombed-like tone smothers the song in the sort of hardcore growl that the band have dealt with prior. It’s the perfect amalgamation of everything Iced Out have achieved until now.

Rounding things off is another raging, doomy beast of a song with the name of Space Mountain. Iced Out don’t mess about here and pack their special blend of low-end grot into an exhilarating two minutes. Even though the running time gives an inclination to the hardcore Iced Out of old, the weight of the riff takes centre-stage and reminds you that this is sludge metal and it’s some of the best sludge metal you’ll hear this year.

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.

9/10

Iced Out’s Man’s Ruin is out now and available to buy on limited edition CD from Witch Hunter Records.


Review: Simmer’s Yellow Streak

simmer

Simmer make a wonderful, clattery, emo racket in the vein of early Smashing Pumpkins and Feeder. Their 2nd EP Yellow Streak has a youthful bolt of energy running through it and it’s loaded with glittery melodies that are filtered through some lovely, crunchy distortion.

For an EP this wild and noisy, Simmer have a rather unnerving knack for making their music very approachable. This is helped with the dream-like, drawl of the vocal melodies which are easy on the ears. Some might say they’re a bit pedestrian and inoffensive but I feel like their understated nature allows the listener to focus more heavily on the instrumentation.

Simmer’s instrumentation and song-writing is the real highlight of Yellow Streak. The riffs have some additional reverberation which creates these fantastic images of massive, open plains and beautiful landscapes. There’s a summery and somewhat reflective vibe to the band’s music and it brings forth some wonderfully nostalgic feelings. It’s not often that a band’s music affects me in such a way but listening to Yellow Streak (especially the opening 3 tracks of Douse, Head Trip and Laying Odds) put me in such a positive mind-set.

When the EP comes to a close with its title track, the band’s music changes stylistically for the first time on the record; there’s a very sombre atmosphere on show. Simmer have structured this EP in such a masterful way that when it reaches its final moments it actually feels like the band are saying goodbye.

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.

9/10

Simmer’s Yellow Streak is out now through Dog Knights Productions. You can buy it on either translucent green or yellow 7″ by clicking here.


Review: Nembutal’s Demo

nembutal

If you haven’t yet familiarised yourself with Yamabushi Recordings then you won’t be aware that the label have become exceedingly good at championing some of the most disgusting, snotty bands currently lurking in the UK’s toilet circuit. Nembutal slot into the Yamabushi fold comfortably and their blend of nasty, vicious fastcore and crust punk means that the band don’t muck around when it comes to song-writing.

Unlike most bands of this nature, Nembutal actually manage to fit more ideas into a single song than your average 30 second power violence band. This is obvious by simply looking at the track times; the band average 2 minutes per song and there’s an awful lot going on in each track. Melody is completely reliant on the guitar and thankfully the band have an onslaught of riffs to throw your way. Despite the speed of the playing, the guitar often stays pretty high in the mix which allows you hear the melodies. There’s even a cheeky little solo on Decay which gives the track some real flare.

The other part of the instrumentation that really excels is the unrelenting drum-work. This is one of the most intense drumming performances I’ve heard on a punk record and it’s exhilarating to listen to. God only knows what seeing Nembutal in a live environment must be like. I imagine it’s the audio equivalent of being dragged under the wheels of a speeding truck. It certainly feels like it on record.

Finally, the vocals tie up the whole package nicely and the constant switch between high-pitched screams and phlegm-ridden growls keep the proceedings as interesting as the instrumentation. The only part of the instrumentation that might be a bit lacking is the bass, but this is more a fault of the mix rather than the actual playing; it’s just very difficult to hear.

Nembutal’s debut demo is a relentless, steamroller of a record that densely packs as many riffs as it can into a single song. 5 tracks later and it’s like you’ve been entered into a UFC match with a professional competitor. Nembutal might not be doing anything countless punk bands have done before them, but they do it with such balls-out aggression that it can’t be ignored.

8/10

Nembutal’s Demo is out now through Yamabushi Recordings. You can download it for a pay-what-you-want price by clicking here.


Review: Oh Captive’s Two Mirrors

Oh Captive - Cover Artwork

Oh Captive make the sort of chart-bothering, pop punk/emo combo that has been so popular with bands like Youmeatsix, Young Guns and Kids in Glass Houses and that’s fine if you like that sort of thing but the band are doing so little to prove their worth in this scene that their Two Mirrors EP could have been made by anyone.

The most irritating thing about this EP is that Oh Captive have managed to write a series of songs that don’t spark any emotion. The vocals are delivered in that tepid mid-range that so many young bands favour and it’s completely lacking in dynamics. The guitars feel like they’ve been belt-sanded smooth and they are completely devoid of any bite. Because of this I couldn’t pin-point a single riff I liked because they all drifted by like a ghost farting.

What really annoys me is that there’s clearly a competent band playing this music. The songs are well written, the choruses aren’t offensive to listen to and occasionally it sounds like they actually care about their music. The opening riff of the EP’s title track is a real stomper and I can envisage a crowd of kids losing their minds when it kicks off.

Unfortunately it isn’t too long until you’re reminded what’s wrong with this band; it’s all too safe. The vocals are capable at best but they won’t spark any meaningful connection between the listener and the band. The same goes for the music. This is heavy guitar music with none of the heavy and it’s bewildering to me that I didn’t have the urge to nod my head along to a single track. That’s a serious failing for any band making rock music.

How do you get excited about a band that are painfully mediocre? There is simply nothing original about Oh Captive and Two Mirrors drifts by without a single memorable moment. There’s nothing wrong with the music and it’s quite competently put together but there isn’t a riff or melody that hasn’t been ripped from another band. Two Mirrors is an EP so bland that getting angry about it would be a waste of time.

4/10

Oh Captive’s Two Mirrors is out now through all major digital outlets.


Review: Bulletproof Rose’s Loud, Hard and Fast

BulletproofRose

Bulletproof Rose are clearly big fans of classic rock which is at odds with their youthfulness. Their debut EP Loud, Hard and Fast draws influence from bands like Guns n Roses, Motley Crue and Van Halen and the band have an unashamed amount of fun pretending to be their heroes.

Bulletproof Rose also have an unnerving talent for writing great riffs and it’s here where the band excel. The EP opens with a statement of intent; Bulletproof Rose is named after the band (or the band are named after the song) and it delivers every trick the band have up their sleeves. The guitar work is exceptional and the riffs will worm their way into your psyche in no time. There’s some outstanding guitar solos to boot and they’re generally used to push a song to its climax during the final moments. The vocals are equally memorable and their anthemic nature means the band should have no trouble commanding big crowds.

Sadly as the EP progresses the lyrics get weaker. Gypsy and My Girl have some of the laziest vocals I’ve witnessed for a long time and they’re repetitive choruses have the unfortunate habit of becoming irritating very quickly. Bulletproof Rose haven’t quite figured out that writing rock anthems requires a chorus that’s punctuated by a memorable line, not drowned in the same phrase until you’re driven into a murderous rampage.

Unfortunately the music also suffers from repetition. Despite the opening track and the bluesy closing track Loud Hard Fast, Bulletproof Rose often write songs with a tiresome, meandering pace that does little to entice the listener. When the band step up the tempo, their songs become infinitely more exciting but even Loud Hard Fast can’t escape its middle-eight which spends far too long in an extended solo and the lack of lyrics during this section make the experience feel incomplete.

Bulletproof Rose have all the right elements to be one of the best bands in a new breed of classic rock but Loud, Hard and Fast doesn’t have enough ideas to keep it interesting for its entirety. When the band are at their best and enjoying what they do, they evoke memories of some of your favourite rock and tracks like Bulletproof Rose and Bang Your Head are great examples of this. However, unless the band can condense all their ideas into shorter, sharper bursts of rock n roll fury, they’re going to suffer from becoming another pub rock band with delusions of grandeur.

6/10

Bulletproof Rose’s Loud, Hard and Fast is released digitally on the 27th of April.


Touring: Palm Reader to Play Five Shows in One Day

palmreader

Tech-hardcore mentalists Palm Reader return for a mammoth day of live music. The band celebrate the release of their second album Beside the Ones We Love by playing five shows in a single day. The shows all take place on May the 4th and you can find full details for each show and its line-up below:

1st Show: The Old Blue Last, Shoreditch
14.00 – *Secret Headliner*
13.15 – Let’s Talk Daggers
12.30 – Palm Reader

2nd Show: The Black Heart, Camden
14.30 – Palm Reader
13.45 – Exes
13.00 – Ohhms

3rd Show: The Windmill, Brixton
16.30 – Palm Reader
15.45 – TBA
15.00 – We Never Learned To Live

4th Show: The Cricketers, Kingston
21.30 – Headliner TBA
20.45 – Artemis
20.00 – Palm Reader

5th Show: The Star, Guildford
22.00 – Palm Reader
21.15 – Employed To Serve
20.30 – Stallone

Tickets will be available from AYP? Promotions shortly so keep an eye on this link. You can check out the video to I Watch the Fire Chase My Tongue by Palm Reader below:


Review: Nomadic Rituals/Tome Split

nomadicritualstome

NOMADIC RITUALS

Those Irish doomsters Nomadic Rituals have finally returned after a lengthy silence since the release of their Holy Giants mini-album and the band are on similarly nihilistic form. 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.

Nomadic Rituals may err on the slower-side of the doom spectrum (well, slow for doom) but their heavy use of reverb and disgusting tones means their music is almost suffocating in its density. This is not a listening experience for the faint-hearted and it trudges along like you’re making your way through marshland on foot.

This is not to say that Nomadic Rituals have put together a boring song by any means, but The Great Dying is more of an atmospheric experience than one full of catchy melodies and choruses. The thick, sludgy guitar riffs are wonderfully meaty and when the tempo steps up a notch around the 9 minute mark, the band punctuate an absolutely bleak experience with some devastating heaviness.

Nomadic Rituals have returned with a doom epic that showcases exactly what the band are about. This is an extremely testing yet rewarding experience that fans of doom will be stupid to miss.

8/10

TOME

Tome’s contribution to this split is another mammoth doom track with the name of Bone Divinations. 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. You can actually bang your head to the dirge-like groove that features in the first 4 minutes of the song and while the band have a similarly reverb-heavy sound, the melodies are the big draw.

Sadly the band’s riffs don’t change as frequently and as a result the song actually feels longer than The Great Dying. There are no tempo changes and the same riff that opens the track features for a greater amount of time. This means that Tome have a more difficult time justifying the length of their song. It often feels long for the sake of being long.

That’s not to say this is by any means a terrible inclusion. Tome have a similarly filthy, low-end tone that feels like it could crush you to death and the atmosphere is just as oppressive. The band have certainly nailed their sound, it’s just their song writing is a bit repetitive.

Tome show great promise and once again fans of doom metal will find plenty to love, but if the band were tighten up their song writing and spend less time getting to the point then they could be onto something truly special.

7/10


Review: I, The Lion’s Run

Run EP Cover - FINAL

I, The Lion’s Run EP took me by complete surprise. The EP has a rather weak opening during the first half of Hold Strong. It’s a pretty uneventful plod through all the clichés of modern emo, but half way through the song the band unleash a tirade of screaming and off-kilter guitar work and it’s absolutely exhilarating.

From here on, I, The Lion are a completely different beast who meld the alt-rock madness of bands like Reuben and Biffy Clyro with the emocore stylings of bands like A Day to Remember. The band’s music shifts and moves quite naturally considering the number of riffs and melodies the band pack into a single song. Speaking of riffs, there’s an absolutely mind-melting display near the end of Hold Strong and it’s accompanied by a tremolo-picked lead and it’s fucking sublime. Euphoric even.

Moving on, songs like Icarus start with a riff that could’ve been easily pulled from your favourite Reuben song before opening up into that angular, guitar noodling that Biffy are so famous for. Bolstered with some absolutely massive choruses, I, The Lion have nailed this rock music malarkey and despite the vocals often sitting in a comfortable mid range, the music is dynamic enough to help you ignore such discrepancies.

Listening to Run is a beautiful journey into the rock music of my youth. If this record was released when I was discovering Hundred Reasons, Hell is for Heroes and Funeral for a Friend for the first time, I’d happily regard it as a modern classic. Hopefully a new generation of rock kids discover this record and go on to regard it in the same light because it really deserves that sort of praise.

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.

9/10

I, The Lion’s Run EP is out now and is available to buy direct from the band.


Review: Geist’s Faith Healing

faithhealing

If dark, sludge-ridden hardcore is your cup of tea than do I have a treat for you. Members of Cholera and End Reign have joined forces to form Geist; a metallic hardcore band who make music in a similar vein to Lavotchkin and Converge. Their debut EP is called Faith Healing and all the song titles have the word ‘faith’ in them because why not?

The EP kicks off in a suitably nasty fashion with Faith : Maker and it sets the standard for the five songs that follow. Geist deal in dense, groovy riffs that provide all their music’s melody as the vocals are entirely screamed. There’s an awful lot of bass bolstering the band’s riffs and it’s accompanied by an ungodly drumming performance that switches frantically between unruly, hardcore punk speed and slower, doomier refrains.

As with End Reign, what makes Geist’s music so engaging is how utterly devastating the riffs are. Not only are the melodies in songs like Faith : Commital and Faith : Design going to send any mosh-pit greebo into a frenzy, the beefy production by Chris McManus means that each chord thunders through your ears like a freight train crashing into a car.

Geist aren’t doing anything that bands like Prelude to the Hunt, Pulling Teeth and Black Mass haven’t already done but they do it so well that’s it a completely null point. If you like your hardcore thick and sludgy but played by a group of men who don’t understand the phrase, “slow down” then Geist have you covered in the best possible way.

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.

8/10

Geist’s Faith Healing is out now and available to buy on CD direct from the band.


Touring: Days of Worth Return to Mark 10th Anniversary of The Western Mechanism

daysofworthpresshot

Remember Days of Worth? The 5 piece rock act were signed to Visible Noise back in 2005 and they released a massively overlooked record called The Western Mechanism. In honour of the album’s 10th anniversary the band are reforming for a one-off show at The Fighting Cocks in Kingston on the 11th of July. Support will come from Freeze the Atlantic who’s members come from bands like Hundred Reasons, Reuben and Laruso. This is a show you will not want to miss.

Check out the video to State of Me by the band below and check out vocalist Simon Griffith’s current band Radio Alcatraz if you like your post hardcore.


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