Review: All to Ruin’s Among Us

amongus

The last time we visited All to Ruin in 2013 they were churning out a by-the-books take on metalcore that reminded us of every metalcore band that’s ever had their time in the sun. Has anything changed for All to Ruin in 2015? No.

The latest EP by All to Ruin is entitled Among Us and if you’ve ever listened to Killswitch Engage or Trivium you’ll be in familiar territory. Killswitch Engage are definitely a stronger influence this time as the band have made a more conceited push towards guitar riffs that contain more melody and less “single-chord” abuse.

Where things generally go right for All to Ruin is with their choruses. The choruses on the EP are always full of stadium-sized vocal melodies and beautifully uplifting guitar riffs. All to Ruin definitely have a talent for structuring their songs to emphasise their choruses and it always feels like the song has reached a peak when the choruses roll around. Disconnect in particular has a chorus that sounds like a sea of metal fans would happily scream it back at the band if they were playing the main stage at Download. You can’t deny that All to Ruin have an absolutely massive sound for such a young band.

All to Ruin have definitely progressed as musicians and the lack of reliance on one-chord riffs and beatdowns means they now resemble some of metalcore’s finest and if you told me this EP was released on Roadrunner Records circa 2005 I would have a hard time arguing with you. There’s some fantastic guitar solos doing the rounds as well and songs like History are all the more better for their exemplary guitar work.

Unfortunately, there’s always a feeling of familiarity creeping into the band’s sound and it really hurts their music as a result. All to Ruin sound like Killswitch Engage, Trivium and Bullet for My Valentine and while it’s completely fine to wear your influences on your sleeve, All to Ruin have a difficult time offering anything that you could truly say was unique to them.

All to Ruin’s Among Us is a perfectly competent EP that actually manages to prove that metalcore is a respectable genre when it’s in the right hands. The melodies, choruses and sheer scale of the EP are wonderful to experience but the band simply doesn’t stand out. This style of music has been beaten into submission by an absolute torrent of similarly sounding bands and All to Ruin need to offer something else to stay relevant.

6/10

All to Ruin’s Among Us is released on the 27th of April 2015.


Gone But Not Forgotten: Project Abner/The Abner

Let me tell you a tale of four very talented chaps who got dealt a bad hand. Dave, Olv, Apple and Wilson are the four members of Project Abner; an emo/pop punk/metalcore hybrid act who were functional from 2001 to 2004. The band toured and played lots of shows with bands like Days Ago, Zero Cipher, Eden Maine and Aconite Thrill. In 2002 to 2003 they wrote, recorded and released an EP called All My Love.

Now here’s where things get strange; the All My Love EP made it to press and some reviews also refer to it as the Follow the Pig EP. It would appear the EP was scheduled for a physical release in October 2003 but for whatever reason I haven’t been able to find anything as to the existence of physical CDs. This EP would have contained the songs As Kids Do, The Fable, Pour Fair L’Amour, Suited and Useless, Sighing Like Furnace and All My Love. Sighing Like Furnace and The Fable got released on a promotional CD-R that was given out at gigs.

project_abner_ep aml-inlay-front-cover1064231483

Here’s where things take a turn for the worst. Project Abner’s management got them into a position where they were being blacklisted by promoters and booking agents. It’s not clear what had happened but the band were furious with their manager and decided to dump him and their name in the process.

In 2004 Project Abner are reborn as The Abner. With renewed energy and focus the band record an EP called Chinoiserie Lounge for Basick Records and it’s sprung on the world in 2006. The EP is a wonderful mesh of Horse the Band and early Enter Shikari and the band christen their special blend of noise as partycore. Sighing Like Furnace is also revisited and given a fresh coat of paint and renamed The Penitent Man Will Pass. Copies of this EP are still available from Basick Records and every household should have one.

The band continue to trudge on but it becomes apparent that the band’s live appearances are becoming more infrequent and it isn’t until 2008 that new material surfaces. The Abner release a new single called D.I.S.C.O and it’s a frightfully catchy slice of up-beat punk-metal. I remember seeing the song live for the first time at a Basick Records showcase gig which included Without Thought and Fell Silent and it was an absolute joy to behold.

Work began on what would become The Abner’s debut album but interest in the band seemed to have completely faded. The Abner were appearing at incredibly under-promoted shows and one show at The Hope and Anchor only drew about 5 people (myself included). This sort of reception is heartbreaking when it happens to a band you care about and by 2009 The Abner decided it simply wasn’t worth the effort.

The band split without a farewell show but they gave their fans one final gift in the form of 5 album demos and the previously released D.I.S.C.O single. This final release is even more tragic in the fact that it shows a noticeable progression in the band’s song-writing. The songs are all wonderfully unique and progressive numbers like A Cowshed Riot Against the Glutton sit side-by-side with straight-forward rockers like Whiskey Punchout. The songs were initially shared by the band via mediafire but thankfully Basick Records have seen fit to give the songs another lease of life and re-released them as an iTunes EP called If You’re Listening To This… Where Were You In 2008?

RIP+20012009+l unnamed

Did The Abner’s management kill the band’s chance at success? It’s difficult to say but in 2009 the UK lost one of the most original sounding rock acts to ever grace the toilet circuit. It’s not nice watching a band you love fall into obscurity and making heavy music in this day and age is a real labour of love. The Abner stuck with it for 8 years and they don’t deserve to be a footnote in UK rock’s history. Go and hunt down The Abner’s 2 EPs on iTunes and indulge in one of the weirdest rock bands ever birthed in the UK. You won’t regret it.

Andrew has kindly put together some additional information on the band which we present below:

“Our very last attempt at a show was in 2009 at the Water Rats where we turned up on a Thursday night to play and were told by the venue that they thought we would bring a crowd. We told them that they were sorely mistaken (haha), so they told us we wouldn’t be playing. We packed up our gear and that was that!

All My Love was a massive blow for us. We had been promised the earth by a con man and left out to dry with his dirty laundry. Basically we got an initial run of one hundred CDs and the printing was wrong on them. They never got a re-pressing because the label head hadn’t paid the bill. Almost cursed, you might say. One of the main reasons that Evolving Music (the label) collapsed is that they over stretched themselves time and time again. Properties in central London, full page adverts in Kerrang! and Rock Sound, t-shirts, stickers, you name it. All good stuff if the money is coming in. They booked a huge 30 date tour for the 3 bands potentially signing to Evolving (ourselves, Through Silence, and Shellshock) with 2 revolving headliners. Half the dates were scheduled for Skindred, and half for Mahumodo (with Mahumodo being the headliners for our shows, drawing a more suitable crowd for us). 3 days before the first show Mahumodo split up and the tour was a disaster as a result! Then we were lied to, etc etc. and the rest is history!

Basick Records saved us from the brink and we helped them by signing a free deal. They pressed our CDs and we bought them at cost. Any that Basick sold were their own. It worked for us and Nathan always had faith in us and our music. It was just a shame that the small piece of momentum we had left when we signed with them ran out before we managed to write a whole album.

Another note worth mentioning is that we toured with My Chemical Romance on their first 3 date UK tour (just before being blacklisted) and also with Skindred around the time that our label collapsed.

We got to the point where we had more fun being ourselves and we never ever fit into a pigeon hole from a visual perspective. We just enjoyed rocking out (and slagging off the crowd between songs).

I’d have loved it if we could have carried on but sometimes life just gets in the way. It’s really nice to know that there’s a little legacy out there though!”

PROJECT ABNER/THE ABNER WERE
– Dave Shanley (vocals)
– Andrew Wilson (bass)
– Apple (guitar)
– Olv (drums)

DISCOGRAPHY

As Project Abner
2 Track Promo CD-R (2003)
Subverse Volume 1 Compilation (2003)
All My Love/Follow the Pig EP (2003)

As The Abner
2 Track Demo CD-R (2004)
Chinoiserie Lounge EP (2006)
A Day for Light Refreshment Promo DVD (2007)
D.I.S.C.O Single (2008)
If You’re Listening To This… Where Were You In 2008? EP (2009)

Do you have memories of Project Abner/The Abner? Let us know in the comments below or drop us an email at ukscumscene[at]live.co.uk.


News: Ex Members of Bossk and The JCQ Form Bowhunter, EP Out in May

bowhunter

Members of Bossk and The JCQ have joined forces to form a new band called Bowhunter. The band features Jack Saunders from The JCQ on vocal duties, Edward Li and Nick Corney of Bossk on guitar and drums and Chris Corney on bass.

You can stream the first taster of the band’s debut EP To Love Again below. The track is called Count to Ten:

Bowhunter’s debut EP To Love Again is released on the 4th of May. You can keep up-to-date with the band’s activity by visiting their official website.


Review: XII Boar’s Pitworthy

pitworthy

It’s been 2 years since XII Boar piqued our interest with their Split Tongue, Cloven Hoof EP but now the band have returned with their first long-player and it’s got the rather bold title of Pitworthy. If that doesn’t indicate a record promising a collection of songs that’ll make you move then I don’t know what is.

XII Boar are still making their special blend of bluesy, groovy rock with a touch of metal (think Black Spiders wrestling with Panic Cell) and it’s still as engrossing as ever. Opening track Sharpshooter bursts out the gates with a riff that is going to ignite their fans into a feeding frenzy and it’s a joy to listen to.

Things continue in a similarly riff-heavy fashion. XII Boar have a real knack for writing a great slab of hard rock that’s stuffed full of hooks and their music has a strangely danceable quality to it. If you put The Schaeffer Boogie on in any of the UK’s many rock clubs it would have the whole place humming along to the melody in no time.

Unfortunately, Pitworthy suffers from a problem that the band didn’t have to worry about previously thanks to the shorter length of their EP. By the album’s half way point you’ve heard everything XII Boar have to offer. I was suffering from some painful fatigue during the middle of Pitworthy and when Tommy Hardrocks gleefully barks, “bitch” I was beginning to worry why a band needs to use a sexist slur in 2015. It isn’t shocking anymore and it’s simply quite embarrassing to hear such sloppy lyricism.

The final nail in the coffin comes with the last song on the album. The song in question is called Quint and it shows an incredibly self-indulgent side to XII Boar that is completely unnecessary and dull to listen to. The tighter more direct song-writing that’s explored through most of the album is completely dumped in favour of an eleven minute desert rock jam that’s so bloated it might burst due to overindulgence.

XII Boar were so very close to making a hard rock debut that would be remembered for decades. The band have a wonderful sound that’s stupidly fun to listen to and when they get it right their music is full of groove and enough hooks to fill a butcher’s pantry. Sadly, Pitworthy becomes a tiresome and bloated experience that indulges in extended desert rock jams far too often. When XII Boar pack all their ideas into shorter songs they’re absolutely on fire but sadly these songs only take up half the record. A missed opportunity.

6/10

XII Boar’s Pitworthy is released independently by the band on the 9th of March. You can pre-order it direct from the band by clicking here.


Review: Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters’ Earth Hog

earthhog

I don’t usually like to refer to music as “stoner” because I think it’s quite a disparaging term that implies the music has no artistic merit, but when your band is called Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters I think it’s safe to say that you’re pretty happy with having your music referred to as “stoner”.

So this is the first mini album by Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters (referred to as Chubby from hereon), it’s called Earth Hog and it’s a beautiful blend of groovy stoner rock and Sabbath-esque heavy metal. The first thing you’ll notice about Earth Hog is that it rocks harder than a ten ton boulder crashing down an active volcano.

Riffs come thick and fast on Earth Hog and they’re drenched in snarling overdrive. The guitar is also bolstered by some superb, low-end basslines which might lead to some unfortunate trouser accidents. The record manages to rumble along at a fair old pace which is at odds with your usual stoner rock experience and it’s absolutely invigorating to hear.

What Chubby manage to do with each of the five songs on Earth Hog is staggering. They all kick off with a groove so massive it could shake a house to pieces and then they build into a more psychedelic and progressive affair but without meandering around with no purpose. Despite the songs averaging around five minutes a piece, each is a rollicking beast of a tune that is full of great melodies and they never outstay their welcome.

Earth Hog is such a wonderfully fat, chunky beast of a record. The grooves sway effortlessly throughout the entire album and the production job by Sam Thredder of Slabdragger fame is the sweet, little cherry on the top (albeit a massive, overripe one). There’s so much weight to this record and it suits the wonderful, riff-laden nature of Chubby’s music perfectly.

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.

9/10

Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters’ Earth Hog is out now. You can download it direct from the band by clicking here. A CD and cassette release is scheduled for March.


Review: F. Emasculata’s IAXFE

iaxfe

F. Emasculata are an X-Files-themed hardcore punk band from Cornwall. Being able to write a sentence like that is one of the reasons I love punk; there’s always fun to be had with a good gimmick. The band return with their second mini album IAXFE and it’s another collection of ten thoroughly angry yet bizarrely hook-ridden songs.

The four oiks in F. Emasculata deal in snotty, lairy vocals and short bursts of vicious riffs and while their style isn’t particularly original, they pull it off with all the piss and vinegar you could ask for. It’s hard work making punk in this day and age and even harder work sounding original but F. Emasculata understand this, so to make up for it they stuff as many riffs into these fifteen minutes as possible.

The riffs are what really make F. Emasculata work. There’s a huge skate-punk influence running through the guitar work on IAXFE and despite the aggression, there’s plenty of great melodies to pump your fist to. It’s like listening to Bad Religion but with vocals more reminiscent of The Exploited.

When F. Emasculata are at their best they’re marrying these catchy, punk riffs with moments of unbridled fury like on Little Green Man and EBE. This diversity makes F. Emasculata’s music unpredictable yet memorable, which is exactly what you want from a modern punk record.

Despite how well the music is constructed, F. Emasculata still suffer from overfamiliarity. As we’ve already mentioned, being a punk band in this day and age is incredibly hard work thanks to how tried and tested the formula is and while F. Emasculata make all the right sounds, they’re gimmick isn’t unique enough to add something new to the genre.

Regardless, F. Emasculata have added another collection of furious punk anthems to their arsenal and they’re delivered through gritted teeth and bountiful aggression. If you’re a fan of punk then F. Emasculata’s IAXFE should be a record you should seriously be considering adding to your collection, but you might find a certain familiarity creeping in.

7/10

F. Emasculata’s IAXFE is out now on limited edition cassette. You can grab a copy from AWOL Records or Rip Roaring Shit Storm Records.


Review: Bleak Zero’s Bleak Zero

bleakzero

Bleak Zero deal in the sort of metal that is unabashed, Iron Monkey-esque, sludge worship. Now there’s a band that’s always an exemplary choice to model your sound on. Bleak Zero’s debut self-titled mini album is made up of 5 songs loaded with thunderous, low-end groove and it’s drenched in a dense, foreboding atmosphere.

The band’s sound has a lot going for it; it has a lovely warmth which is only found in such bass-heavy records like this. This creates a bizarre juxtaposition as the music is always fairly dark throughout. It’s like the band are luring you into a false sense of security before they stomp on the overdrive and bludgeon you with another round of dense distortion.

At over 32 minutes long, Bleak Zero’s songs are quite long-in-the-teeth. This is a pretty standard expectation when it comes to sludge and doom, but the band don’t load their songs with enough riffs to justify the song length. At over 7 minutes long, Less of a Reason drives one riff into the ground for almost half of the song and it’s a painful dirge of a listening experience.

This is accentuated with the final song, The Spectator – Part 1. At over 11 minutes in length it spends most of its time rumbling along with no obvious destination, almost like the band recorded a jam session and slapped it on the end of the record. Sludge metal shouldn’t send you to sleep but this would happily soundtrack many dreary journeys home from a long day of soul-destroying office work.

Another annoying miss-step is the production. For a band making such filthy noise, the production should be accentuating the drums and bass but it’s weirdly understated. The drums are especially low in the mix and it makes the whole thing sound oddly weak for a sludge record.

Ultimately the lack of variety and memorable melodies hurt this record substantially. This is a real shame because Bleak Zero have hit a sound that’s gloriously thick and laden with groove, but it can’t deliver a riff that will ignite the headbangers. Even when the proceedings get wonderfully off kilter like during the opening of Misophonic Petulance, the riff won’t be sticking with you once the song is over. Bleak Zero’s debut EP shows promise but it simply can’t deliver on it.

5/10

Bleak Zero’s self titled debut mini-album is out now and available to buy on CD through Carnage Club.


Review: xRepentancex’s The Sickness of Eden

repentance

xRepentancex are a hardcore band with crosses in their name and this is usually a good indicator that a band is going to deal in beatdowns. xRepentancex definitely attract a beatdown crowd but their debut album The Sickness of Eden proves that this band write more than just mosh music.

It’s actually quite astounding how well xRepentancex avoid the simple overuse of one-chord breakdowns and double-bass drumming. The Sickness of Eden is absolutely loaded with massive riffs and pounding rhythms that keeps the music aggressive but doesn’t detract from the band’s song writing.

Being a band with a purely screamed vocal style, the melody is delivered by guitarists Patrick Hassan and Robb Edge who are a tag team to be reckoned with. These men tear a streak through the album and load every song with a series of riffs that will make any hardcore band jealous. Through Eyes Unclouded kicks things off with riffs by the bucket-load and the guitarists do not let up for the entirety of the album’s 22 minutes. What I really enjoy is the way both guitarists switch from hardcore beatdowns to thrash shredding like in Knowing. They also sprinkle the music with some seriously evil tremolo-picked riffs that give the album an almost black metal vibe.

Let’s not forget that the way these songs are structured is also surprisingly progressive. Riffs are rarely revisited meaning that the quantity of melodies per song is actually quite staggering. What’s even more impressive is that the band keep this level of intensity up for the entirety of the album and it’s a gloriously vicious experience.

Holding it all together is some of the meatiest production work I’ve heard on a hardcore record. The Sickness of Eden was recorded by none other than Ian Boult of Stuck on a Name Studios and the man works wonders on this album. The whole record is extremely bass-heavy to the point that you can almost feel it thumping against your chest.

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.

9/10

xRepentancex’s The Sickness of Eden is released on vinyl by Carry the Weight Records in February. Pre-order it here.


News: Iron Witch Release 2 New Demos for Free Download

ironwitchpressshot

There’s a fair amount of activity surrounding Liverpudlian sludge-monsters Iron Witch at the moment. The band have recently announced that guitarists Dan and Sam will no longer be working with the band which would normally come as a bit of a shock, but the band are adamant to stress that work on their upcoming debut album is still on schedule. To show how far the band have come, the band have unearthed 2 previously unreleased demos for free download. You can stream and download them using the widget below:

Iron Witch will also be releasing a discography record called The First Four Beers. The band have promised that pre-orders will be available soon and it’s a release we can’t recommend enough. Keep an eye on the band’s Facebook page for updates as they happen.


Live Review: Son of Chimpy 16/01/2015

It’s a cold winter’s night in Camden and the seminal live music venue The Unicorn is hosting another fantastic night of hardcore punk. If you’ve yet to pop along to The Unicorn, you really have no excuse; every show is guaranteed free entry and the quality of the line-ups is always exemplary. Tonight The Unicorn is host to the first night of a strange “sequel festival” to Chimpyfest. This is Son of Chimpy and the vibe is electric from the very start.

Bleach

bleach1

Kicking things off in a suitably raucous fashion is Bleach; a seriously intense fastcore band. Being the first band on the bill of an underground punk show like this can be a bit of a thankless task but Bleach have the chops to whip the crowd into a frenzy from the get-go.

Despite the speed of the band’s music, Bleach don’t put a foot wrong. This was a surprisingly tight performance that was at polar opposites with the band’s oiky attitude. The only thing that really struck me as any sort of negative was the fact the band were quite static on stage. A performance as explosive as this could’ve done with some more movement, but maybe the band were playing it safe due to their opening slot. Regardless, this was a brilliant opening to a great night of live music.

Clunge Plunger

clungeplunger1

I’ve built Clunge Plunger up in my head to a point where they’re this fabled punk act that have an amazing name, but I always seem to miss them due to their tendency to change band members. So here I am seeing the band for the first time and you could tell something wasn’t right as the band seemed a little unsteady, especially in the rhythm department.

The band’s music was still a very strong showing of hardcore with death and doom metal influences and their vocalist was adamant to get in the crowd’s faces and make sure their energy really showed. Speaking of vocals, I was especially impressed with the flawless changes between high pitched screams and lower, gruntier growls. This is quite a testing vocal style but it was delivered effortlessly.

Clunge Plunger have all the right elements to be a great hardcore act but a sloppy performance behind the drum kit didn’t help give them the punch they really needed.

Siege Mentality

siegementality1

Featuring three members from seminal British doomsters Iron Witch, Siege Mentality is an obvious move away from slow tempos to a more vicious hardcore punk sound. Despite being a relatively young band, the experience these men have had in past projects really shows as the band are incredibly confident in their performance.

Siege Mentality are an extremely tight band and despite the speed and technicality of their music, the band never looked like they were struggling. They also put on a great performance that was full of energy. Vocalist Dave Mould was straight into the crowd, baiting the front row into a bit of slam dancing and there was plenty of movement from the boys on stage. This was an awesome performance to behold and it really felt like seeing a much bigger band on the cusp of moving onto bigger and better things.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 90 other followers