Monthly Archives: September 2017

Review: Corrupt Moral Altar’s Eunoia

It’s been 3 years since Corrupt Moral Altar’s debut album Mechanical Tides; an album that creaks under the sheer weight of influences it crams into its confines. With the band’s sophomore effort Eunoia, the band have seen fit to distil their song-writing into its raw components and what we get is a grindcore album that manages to constantly push the boundaries of what it means to be heavy and it’s scarily consistent for its entire run-time.

Despite generally dealing in the sort of metal that likes to make a racket and get the job done very quickly, Corrupt Moral Altar do a fantastic job of writing tons of memorable riffs and barely revisit them over the course of a single song. Their music is fast and punishing; riffs come and go with complete abandon, and just when you’ve got your head banging to a tasty groove, the band have jumped into a sequence of blast-beats or a disgustingly heavy section of double-bass drumming.

What really helps Corrupt Moral Altar from losing all semblance of melody and musicianship is they’ve clearly got a taste for a nice bit of death metal. Songs like Night Chant and Survivor’s Guilt benefit from the sort of structure that death metal brings and it allows the band to push those riffs forward before beating you about the head with another lightning-fast grindcore segment. This results in Eunoia becoming an uncompromising 43 minutes that never puts a foot wrong and never finds itself delivering a song that is merely there to pad out the run-time.

The sheer amount of riffs on Eunoia shouldn’t be possible. The songs are all fairly progressive and always pushing forward at an incredible pace, so it’s nothing short of a miracle that the album manages to maintain its intensity for the entirety of its run-time. It can be quite an exhausting listen, but if you’ve been looking for a grindcore album that never lets up then you’ve absolutely found it with 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.

9/10

Corrupt Moral Altar’s Eunoia is out now and available to download direct from the band.

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Review: Atragon’s I, Necromancer

Atragon’s debut EP Volume I is one of the earliest reviews I wrote for UK Scumscene, so it’s bizarre to see the band’s name crop up again almost five years later for their debut album I, Necromancer. My lasting memory of Volume I is that one of the tracks was pretty good and the other one was a bit dull. Well as it turns out, the good track (Jesus Wept) has been re-recorded for I, Necromancer alongside six new songs. My cynical side instantly thought, “So it’s taken Atragon five years to write six songs?” but that’s just me being a condescending prick because those five years have clearly seen Atragon improve dramatically.

Now Atragon’s Sabbath worship is certainly nothing new among doom bands, but what they do they do bloody well. Atragon’s songs usually kick off with an absolutely gargantuan riff that builds and builds over the course of the track. More elements are thrown into the mix including Jan Gardner’s bellowing vocals and some beautifully indulgent guitar solos that always punctuate the closing moments of the song in a wonderfully heroic way. Album opener Matriarch certainly follows this pattern and it’s repeated on the title track and Wallowing Wizard to great effect. There’s something euphoric about the way Atragon build to their crescendos.

Even though the song-writing on I, Necromancer is often quite simplistic, Atragon have seen fit to shorten the songs since Volume 1 and they now average around 6 minutes. This means that even though most songs are carried by one riff, it never gets to outstay its welcome. Plus, everything sounds absolutely massive now thanks to the fantastic production job done by Graeme Young at Chamber Studio. Doom metal lives and dies on its production and Atragon certainly chose well for this record.

The only time the song structure changes on I, Necromancer is for the eerie album closer Guilt Returns. This track chooses to dump almost all of the percussion and instead lets a moody bass line and guitar melody create some really unnerving atmosphere that’s accentuated by Gardner’s vocals. It’s a suitably expansive ending to an album that’s spent its entire time sounding enormous.

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.

8/10

Atragon’s I, Necromancer is out now and available to download direct from the band.


Review: Helpless’ Debt

If you’ve yet to discover Helpless then you’ll be pleased to know that they feature ex-Brotherhood of the Lake guitarist Russell Cleave (but this time around he’s on drum duty) and they’re about the closest thing to the depraved, metallic hardcore madness of that band that you can find in 2017. With their debut album Debt we are treated to a metallic hardcore record that takes elements from grindcore and black metal to create something akin to Throats, but with a frequent marriage of atonal, high-pitched guitar work and low-end, crunchy riffs.

Debt clocks in at 22 minutes and sounds like the sort of thing you’d expect to soundtrack a serious psychotic breakdown. This is not a subtle record and it frequently assaults you with fast-paced, abrasive tracks full of blast beats and tremolo-picking and then slightly slower, crushing moments of doomy hardcore. Add a vocal performance that sounds like the agonised screams from hell and you’ve basically explained everything you can expect to hear on this record. This is not music for the faint of heart.

Thank God Helpless have seen fit to make this a short record because if it was any longer it would probably be a serious threat to your health. Tracks like opener Worth, Grief Vultures and Sertaline are uncompromising attacks of relentless speed, crusty riffs and devastatingly thrashy drums. When the tempo changes to something not so punishingly fast, Helpless up the oppressive and gloomy atmosphere of their music by using the aforementioned atonal, higher-pitched guitar work. This manifests itself on tracks like Out of Commission, Moral Bankruptcy and Manufactured Consent and they often pair these atonal guitar passages with monolithic, low-end riffs to make their impact that little bit more powerful, and my God does it work.

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.

9/10

Helpless’ Debt is out now and available to buy on vinyl and CD from Holy Roar Records.


Review: Stinky Wizzleteat’s Quit Drugs!

All hail the return of the Teat! There’s been a five year gap between releases and a lengthy hiatus for the Birmingham sludge-metallers, but Stinky Wizzleteat are back and with a new EP entitled Quit Drugs! and it’s probably the most expansive-sounding thing they’ve ever done.

Stinky Wizzleteat’s last outing was with 2012 EP Butterscotch Crucifixxx which saw the band a man down and contained no bass or vocals. It was certainly a valiant attempt at maintaining what the band is about, but it was clearly lacking. There is no such problem on Quit Drugs! and considering this is an independent release, it’s the biggest sounding record the band has put out to date.

We kick things off we Snack Heavy, a savage, bass-heavy stomper of an opener that encapsulates the unpredictable and progressive nature of the band perfectly. Stinky Wizzleteat have often sounded a little messy and unfocussed on previous releases, but here we have a band firing on all cylinders. This is tight, interesting and unashamedly heavy.

The next track Omar explores this mantra further with some really creative guitar work that generates some wonderfully bizarre riffs. We also get a reappearance of Asymmetrical Bashing from Butterscotch Crucifixxx, but this time it’s completely fleshed out with bass and vocals and sounds better than it ever has before.

In the closing two tracks Bingo Mandingo and DP, we see Stinky Wizzleteat slow things down and create some absolutely monolithic music in the process. Bingo Mandingo is a crushing little tune that moves into doom territory in its closing moments and DP sees the band explore a more psychedelic, desert rock style that doesn’t sound out of place at all. Considering how weird Stinky Wizzleteat can be, it’s fantastic to see how well these tracks have come together for this EP.

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.

9/10

Stinky Wizzleteat’s Quit Drugs! is out now and available to download now direct from the band.


Review: Yards’ Excitation Thresholds

It’s been a long time coming but the debut long-player from Yards is finally here. Excitation Thresholds is a 33 minute metallic hardcore assault that noticeably benefits from the amount of time Yards have had to perfect their craft. Everything on this album is here for a reason and it never outstays its welcome.

Despite being a shouty, aggressive hardcore act, Yards have a lot of strings to their bow. During the first half of the album we see the band getting straight to the point and absolutely blasting our faces off with massive riffs, terrifying vocals and one of the thrashiest, loudest drumming performances put to record. The drums in particular are always front and centre in the mix and they really heighten the ferocity of the music on Excitation Thresholds.

But then Yards start to do something different. The tempo slows down a notch and favours a more mid-paced, stompy approach to heaviness that’s just as effective as when the band are going full steam. The album likes to jump between the two styles and it keeps the record fresh and exciting with every song. For example, the no-nonsense hardcore attack of War Tourist is followed by the mid-paced, chunky assault of Everything You Love Reduced to Rubble. This happens again with The Attic, which despite being 4 minutes long and crammed full of ideas, manages to go flat out for its entire run time. Then we get BL-755 which is an extremely bleak and oppressive track that deals more in atmosphere than savagery.

Yards manage to showcase some extremely diverse song-writing for a band that are this unashamedly aggressive. By the time we get to album closer The Shadow Stealer, we get to experience a song that encapsulates all the ideas that came before it in one mammoth 7 and a half minute beast. It’s fast, it’s dark, it’s atmospheric, it’s punishing. It’s everything Yards stand for and a career highlight for one of the most exciting bands in hardcore right now.

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.

9/10

Yards’ Excitation Thresholds is out now and available to buy on vinyl from Truthseeker Music.


Review: Psython’s HATRED

Sheffield thrash-punkers Psython return for their second long-player HATRED, which is apparently an acronym for Hopelessly Aware That Rage Engenders Despair. The band have now expanded into a five piece and clearly haven’t lost their sense of humour since …Outputs because HATRED contains a song called Chai Latte.

Since we last visited Psython, we were certainly impressed by their no-nonsense, blistering approach to making daft, catchy, thrash bangers and that’s certainly still the case on HATRED. There’s actually a bigger focus on just being a band that doesn’t fuck around and gets the job done and HATRED is a more enjoyable record as a result.

Album highlights include opener Jörmungandr which despite being 5 and a half minutes long, never takes its foot of the gas. Battery Life, Teeth, the aforementioned Chai Latte and Hashtrap are some of the best songs the band has produced and it’s because they’re loaded with great riffs and solos and get the job done. If you like your music fast and aggressive then Psython certainly have you covered and then some.

Unfortunately in the few moments where the album falls down, it’s due to the same reasons as their debut. HATE is more of a mid-paced track and while it’s a perfectly serviceable, stompy little number, the bridge feels like it meanders and kills the momentum as a result. The same problem appears on Ten Pounds and One Indeed. It would have been more effective if Psython got to their solos quicker during their middle eights and just spent more time being fun.

Then there’s album closer Old Man which takes the crown of the only bad song on HATRED. Old Man is the slowest track on the album and it feels overlong and lacking enough ideas to warrant being 9 and a half minutes long. A shame because despite some unfocussed moments during a few of the album’s bridges, HATRED is a great thrash album that deserves your attention.

Psython’s HATRED is definitely a great follow-up to the band’s debut. It’s fast, catchy, aggressive and fun and certainly a great addition to any thrash fan’s record collection. Despite a weak closing track and a few moments where the songs lose momentum, Psython’s song-writing has definitely improved and when the band are going balls to the wall they’re just untouchable.

8/10

Psython’s HATRED is out now and can be bought on limited edition CD direct from the band.