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

Run EP Cover - FINAL

“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

irk

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.

SAMOANS

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.


Review: SikTh’s Opacities

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SikTh are back! There’s a selection of words I didn’t expect to ever be writing but the original line-up has returned to make new music and the first comeback effort by the band has come into being as Opacities; a 6 track mini-album.

If you’re a fan of the band then you’ll know the SikTh’s 2 long-players actually sit in two different categories. While they have always played technically proficient and extremely progressive metal, their debut album The Trees Are Dead and Dried Out, Wait for Something Wild features music with a much more traditional song structure. Despite how much is going on in the music, there are clear verses, choruses and bridges which is unlike sophomore effort Death of a Dead Day which sees the band indulge in more progressive song-writing.

What Opacities does so well is combine both styles into a cohesive record. The songs are still considerably more long-form like on Death of a Dead Day as most songs average around 5 minutes in length. However, the band has seen fit to structure the songs in the more digestible silhouette of their first record and you’ll notice melodies crop up more frequently in a single song. This means that fans who sat more comfortably with one particular SikTh album can now enjoy the best of both worlds.

There has also been a considerable shift towards heavier grooves on Opacities. Philistine Philosophies is a great example of this as we often find ourselves in almost metalcore-esque beatdown territory but with that wonderfully progressive weirdness that SikTh deal in. While there’s still plenty of tapped leads and general fretboard madness, Opacities doesn’t see guitarists Graham Pinney and Dan Weller dealing in the same higher-pitched, upper-fretboard work that often punctuates The Trees Are Dead and Dried Out.

It’s also extremely satisfying to hear that the duel vocal attack of Mikee Goodman and Justin Hill has improved dramatically. While there is still plenty of screaming on this record, there’s a noticeable shift towards sung melodies with Goodman really showing how versatile a vocalist he can be on songs like Days Are Dreamed. Hill still deals with the glorious, floaty chorus melodies that so often become song highlights but thanks to Goodman’s own singing, Hill’s vocals are bolstered in a more satisfying way on Opacities.

The band still get a little too indulgent for my own liking as another spoken word Goodman piece takes up an entire track on the record where there could have been more music, but this is a minor niggle on a record that showcases exactly why SikTh have become so influential to the tech metal scene we have today.

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.

9/10

SikTh’s Opacities is out now and available to buy from Peaceville Records.


Review: Eulogy’s Eternal Worth

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Stallone have returned under a new name as Eulogy and Eternal Worth marks a distinctive stylistic shift from the band’s previous material. While previous records Cardiac Black and Mire sat more comfortably in the mathcore category bringing in comparisons to bands like Palm Reader, Eternal Worth takes a more direct approach to its song-writing that results in a more metallic hardcore sound akin to bands like Old Skin.

While this is still very much heavy music in the hardcore mould, you definitely notice Eulogy’s music spends less time noodling around with complex structures and more time beating you into submission with a massive groove. This is the clear distinction between the Eulogy of old and the Eulogy of now; the riffs are placed front and centre. While Mire would often get bogged down (no pun intended) in technical wizardry, songs like Deaf Cult clearly favour melody. That nasty, stomping riff that kicks everything off is certainly proof of that.

This shift in structure means Eulogy sound doubly pissed off as a result. The opening one-two of Doubt Shadows and Deaf Cult deal in some of the most disgustingly bile-ridden screams we’ve heard from the band and there’s some liberal use of blast-beats to make this the most metal-sounding Eulogy record to date.

What this change in song-writing also enables Eulogy to do is work with songs in a longer format that don’t outstay their welcome. Closing track Beyond the Skin is still as hate-fuelled and metallic as everything else on Eternal Worth, but now the band can explore more atmospheric lead guitar work and moments of haunting respite that create a considerably bleak vibe. There’s more to this song than your standard mosh-a-long anthem.

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.

8/10

Eulogy’s Eternal Worth is out now and available to buy on limited edition one-sided vinyl with screenprinted b-side direct from the band or from Holy Roar Records.


Review: Boxkite’s Boxkite

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Plymouth-based hardcore act Boxkite harken back to the short-lived #UKSwell scene that encompassed bands like Bastions, Crocus, Pariso and Kerouac and like said bands, they have a wonderfully emotive approach to hardcore punk that ebbs and flows through passages of flat-out aggression and more introspective moments of respite.

In true punk fashion, Boxkite’s debut self-titled EP is over and done in 6 minutes which means that Boxkite deal in a dense yet visceral type of hardcore that grabs you by the throat and shakes you until you pass out. Opener Struggles begins with a devastating blast-beat that quickly establishes the no-nonsense approach to music that the band deals in.

Boxkite aren’t exactly breaking the mould on this record but fans of hardcore punk will still be treated to one of the most perfectly crafted punk EPs this year. What Boxkite do so well is temper their nasty, crushing riffs and snotty yelling with passages where they let the bass guitar ring out. Cycles and Red Skies are great examples of this; the bass is often used to drench the song in a nice bit of gloomy atmosphere before the band unleashes another ball-busting riff. It’s a simple trick that keeps the record diverse and makes the aggression even more impactful.

What really impresses is the wonderful clarity. No single element of the sound is lost in this mix; the guitar sound is more like traditional punk rather than the HM-2 hardcore that’s become so popular nowadays. The bass cuts through the action with a wonderfully dirty twang, the drums smack you straight in the chest with each snare and bass drum hit and despite the lairy, yelled nature of the vocals, you can actually understand the lyrics.

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.

8/10

Boxkite’s debut self-titled EP is out now and available to download direct for the band or buy on red or black vinyl through Tangled Talk Records or Boslevan Records.


Review: Let’s Talk Daggers’ A Beautiful Life

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Let’s Talk Daggers deal in a special blend of heaviness we like to call weirdcore. Hopefully it’ll catch on. It’s not quite post hardcore, not quite mathcore, not quite indie rock; it’s a bit of them all. Weirdcore. It’s also ridiculously exciting to listen to and after a long 2 year gap between mini-album Fantastic Contraption back in the March of 2013, it’s still as fresh and unpredictable as ever on Let’s Talk Daggers’ debut album A Beautiful Life.

If you’re not familiar with the band’s musical stylings then allow me to explain what the structure of a single Let’s Talk Daggers song is like: there is no structure. The band throws as many riffs, hooks and melodies they can at a single song and manage to piece it together in a way that actually manages to work. Think The Blood Brothers, At the Drive-In and Battle for Paris all blended into the craziest guitar super-group you can imagine and you’ll have an idea as to the chaos contained within A Beautiful Life.

As if the music couldn’t get even more erratic, there’s even a brass element that comes into play on songs like I Love You Dad, But I’m Mental and 3D Rug that adds yet another layer of complexity to the proceedings. A Beautiful Life is an album that is unforgiving in its density and if you’re new to the band then you might find the first listen to be a bit overwhelming. However, repeated listens reveal a band at the very top of their game and the sheer amount of memorable riffs on offer is a testament to Let’s Talk Daggers excellent song-writing.

As the album progresses, the band also manages to blend their noisier more erratic moments with a more laid back, indie rock vibe. Songs like the title track and Clutchendials have a wonderful quiet/loud dynamic to them that shows yet another layer of complexity to the music but without the impervious onslaught of technicality that comes with songs like Carvery Vibes.

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.

8/10

Let’s Talk Daggers’ A Beautiful Life is out now on digital download direct from the band or limited edition yellow vinyl from Tangled Talk Records.


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