Tag Archives: album

Year End: The 10 Best Albums of 2016

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10) Raging Speedhorn

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Raging Speedhorn released a new album in 2016! Holy shit! And it sounds like a direct continuation of the sound on How the Great Have Fallen! And Frank is back in the band! Raging Speedhorn’s return with their 5th long-player Lost Ritual certainly quashed any worries that their previous album Before the Sea Was Built might have instilled and it’s absolutely fantastic to have them back on top form. The kings of sludgecore have finally returned.

9) Aliases – Derangeable

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“Derangeable is a welcome addition to Aliases very limited library and it’s pretty safe to say that if you were a fan of the band before, then this was certainly a record worth waiting for. However, if you’re well versed in tech metal then you’ll certainly notice the similarities to SikTh and while you’ll probably never ask yourself, “why am I not just listening to SikTh?” you’ll certainly wonder if there wasn’t more the band could have done to differentiate themselves a bit.”

Click here for the full review.

8) Rash Decision – Headstrung

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“Regardless, Rash Decision have managed to churn out 17 minutes of hardcore punk perfection on Headstrung and if the new material doesn’t quench your hardcore thirst then there’s another 19 minutes of songs for you to indulge in, thanks to Seaside Resort to Violence being on the B side. Rash Decision are an immensely enjoyable hardcore punk act that don’t have too many strings on their bow, but thankfully the ones that are there do the job perfectly.”

Click here for the full review.

7) Karybdis – Samsara

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“Karybdis have put together a smorgasbord of metal subgenres and masterfully fused them into a sound that is exclusive to the band. Samsara is a metal album that heavy music fans will be championing for years to come and it establishes Karybdis as one of the UK’s best metal acts.”

Click here for the full review.

6) Iron Witch – A Harrowed Dawn

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“Iron Witch have certainly spent a long time getting to this record and at only 6 tracks long it is a bit slight for a long-player, but those years of writing and touring have turned them into a well-oiled, doom-making machine and A Harrowed Dawn is the realisation of all their achievements so far. This is easily the best and biggest sounding Iron Witch release to date and an essential purchase for any doom fan.”

Click here for the full review.

5) Let It Die – The Liar & the Saint

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It feels like I’ve been waiting forever for Let it Die to put their efforts into a long-player and with The Liar & the Saint the band have finally delivered. In typical Let it Die fashion it’s as heavy as a tonne of bricks to the skull and faster than a cat belting it across the room after having its tail stepped on. The Liar & the Saint is a relentless assault of hardcore punk and grind that demands you’re moshing for its entirety. Let it Die certainly didn’t disappoint on their debut album, but was there really any doubt?

4) The Infernal Sea – The Great Mortality

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“The Infernal Sea’s The Great Mortality is an album that you simply must own if you like metal. The Inferal Sea have absolutely mastered their craft and turned in one of the most satisfying black metal releases you could possibly want. It’s heavy, it’s memorable and it’s pretty much essential if you enjoy metal.”

Click here for the full review.

3) Sunwølf – Eve

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“Eve is another monstrous achievement for Sunwølf. It’s an album of uplifting highs and crushing lows and despite the simplicity in the song-writing and how long the songs can be, everything is crafted with atmosphere in mind. Sunwølf songs will only linger if the atmosphere requires it to and thanks to the simplicity of the song-writing, the band also put focus on their melodies. You wouldn’t think an album like this would be so memorable but thanks to the focus on melody and atmosphere, it’s very easy to find yourself playing Eve repeatedly without even noticing it. Eve is a beautiful album that makes you appreciate good song-writing and if you’re a fan of post rock then it’s an essential purchase.”

Click here for the full review.

2) Wode – Wode

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“Wode’s debut self-titled album is a fantastic achievement. Every element of the band’s song-writing has been so carefully crafted and sculpted to maximise the impact of their music and it makes this album one of the most approachable black metal releases I’ve ever come across. If you’re a fan of heavy music in general then Wode’s self-titled album is something that has a much broader appeal than most underground black metal and it’s a release I’d thoroughly recommend.”

Click here for the full review.

1) Slabdragger – Rise of the Dawncrusher

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“The UK is spoilt for great sludge as Slabdragger are competing with other brilliant acts like Limb, Gurt, Monolithian and Opium Lord, but Rise of the Dawncrusher sets a new standard for UK sludge metal. Slabragger have written a follow-up so utterly devastating that it demands your attention. Slabdragger, man; what a band.”

Click here for the full review.


Review: Simmer’s Paper Prisms

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Glittery emo quintet Simmer have returned with their debut album entitled Paper Prisms. Simmer previously impressed us with their 2015 EP Yellow Streak; a beautiful and delicate yet sharp and biting rock record that showcased an extremely accomplished sound for such a young band. Personal anticipation was high for this record, so do Simmer deliver the goods when they move onto their first long-player?

Sort of. This is clearly the same band that wowed us last year, but there’s something about Paper Prisms that feels like a band trying to spread their ideas too thin. The setup is identical to Yellow Streak; we get beautiful, sweeping guitar melodies complimented with sombre, lilting vocals and it’s all accompanied with a punchy performance on the drums. The one/two opener of Faze and Control is a perfect beginning to the record and it showcases all these elements beautifully.

However, what becomes apparent very early on is just how much time is spent on overindulgent moments of guitar feedback. Every song seems to start with a big wailing burst of feedback and in the case of some songs like Antwerp, they even linger to a limp conclusion using even more feedback. Simmer are clearly trying to create atmosphere on Paper Prisms and the guitar feedback is never abrasive or obnoxious in anyway, it just feels like it takes away from the immediacy of the song-writing. Songs like Calendar don’t kick in until half the track’s run time has gone by and it’s a bit annoying that so much time is spent holding a guitar to an amp.

It’s also a shame that the vocals often get lost in the mix. The vocals on Paper Prisms are often treated more like an instrument and they’ve been hidden away in the composition to the point that you can’t really make out what’s being said. It’s not the biggest problem because thankfully the gorgeous melodies are still audible; it just would have been nicer to have heard the vocals front and centre.

Simmer’s Paper Prisms is by no means a bad record by any stretch of the imagination. This is still a wonderfully light and dreamy emo record and as a debut album it certainly sets the band up with a great foundation to build on. Sadly it’s let down by a lot unnecessarily drawn-out moments of guitar feedback that have a tendency to kill the pacing. It Simmer can tighten up their song-writing and think of ways to meld the extra texture into the songs themselves, then their next release should be something really special.

7/10

Simmer’s Paper Prisms is out now and available to buy from Dog Knights Productions.


Review: Wode’s Wode

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Wode’s debut long-player shouldn’t have turned out this good. How does a band debut with something this wonderfully nuanced, textured and accomplished? This album sounds like it came from a band that’s been writing and touring for a decade, not half that time. If Wode’s debut album proves anything it’s that you shouldn’t rush your art and Wode have certainly perfected their own blend of melodic black metal.

Black metal can be a challenging genre to get your ears around. Often lacking in melody, being purposely under-produced and focussing on heaviness instead of melody, Wode’s self-titled album suffers from none of these factors. Well, it’s certainly heavy and there’s almost always a blast beat happening, but it’s so much more than simple heaviness.

First of all the guitar work is astounding. Melody permeates every riff on this record and the amount of tremolo picking is astonishing. It’s exhausting listening to how fast and tight the guitar work on this record is. There’s a wonderful ebb and flow to the riffs as well; always moving in a very natural and calculated way and adding an almost glittery texture to the proceedings.

There’s some real variety to the sound of the songs on this album as well. Opener Death’s Edifice is a pretty bleak and foreboding track that leads into the stunning melody of Trails of Smoke which is almost uplifting in nature. I certainly didn’t expect to have my mood lightened by a black metal song but here we are. There’s also a surprising thrash influence on a lot of this record and the riffs on Cloaked in Ruin certainly have a classic heavy metal vibe which once again adds some welcome melody to the record.

Wode’s debut self-titled album is a fantastic achievement. Every element of the band’s song-writing has been so carefully crafted and sculpted to maximise the impact of their music and it makes this album one of the most approachable black metal releases I’ve ever come across. If you’re a fan of heavy music in general then Wode’s self-titled album is something that has a much broader appeal than most underground black metal and it’s a release I’d thoroughly recommend.

9/10

Wode’s self-titled debut album is out now and available to buy from Broken Limbs Recordings, Vendetta Records and COF Records.


Review: Slabdragger’s Rise of the Dawncrusher

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It’s been a long time coming, but Slabdragger are back in action with their sophomore album Rise of the Dawncrusher; a massive, sludgy, behemoth of a concept album that improves on their debut in every conceivable way. Got your attention?

Slabdragger were already a force to be reckoned with and their debut album Regress showcased their ultra-dense grooves and long-form song structures in a fantastic way, but with Rise of the Dawncrusher, everything is now even heavier without sacrificing melody and it’s just glorious. Genuinely glorious. I felt like I was having a metal epiphany listening to this record. I imagine if Hendrix was into Black Sabbath, this is the sort of thing he’d make.

Opening with the 11 minute beast that is Mercenary Blues, Slabdragger put their quite brilliant guitar work front and centre and it makes for a seriously punishing yet hugely memorable experience that will keep fans of all things slow and groovy extremely satisfied. The amount of amazing riffs in this song should be illegal and they all deserve to be included in ‘Top 10 Riffs of All Time’ articles.

It doesn’t end there. This record is an absolute monster from start to finish. Slabdragger follow up the opening track with the unashamedly ripping Evacuate!; one of the most disgustingly noisy things Slabdragger have ever concocted. Then it’s back to the groove with the monstrous Shrine of Debauchery; a song with a title so metal it’s probably chrome-plated.

Look, I realise this review is big on the hyperbole, but it’s not often I’m given a record so delicious and as utterly mouth-watering as Rise of the Dawncrusher. It’s everything I want from a sludge record and more and it’s honestly quite difficult to believe it actually exists.

The UK is spoilt for great sludge as Slabdragger are competing with other brilliant acts like Limb, Gurt, Monolithian and Opium Lord, but Rise of the Dawncrusher sets a new standard for UK sludge metal. Slabragger have written a follow-up so utterly devastating that it demands your attention. Slabdragger, man; what a band.

10/10

Slabdragger’s Rise of the Dawncrusher is out now and available to buy on CD and vinyl from Holy Roar Records.


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)


Review: Hawk Eyes’ Everything is Fine

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It pains me to say it but Hawk Eyes have lost something on their latest record, Everything is Fine. The riff rockers have been riding a wave of success thanks to their wonderfully thick Engerica-meets-Reuben sound and their last EP, That’s What This Is showcased a more song-driven side to the band that seemed inevitable. It was energetic and exciting and I could hear the band lighting up rock radio up-and-down the country.

Sadly that song-driven style has been dropped on Everything is Fine and the whole record feels like a backwards step back into Modern Bodies territory. This is obviously not a huge issue because fans of that record will feel right at home thanks to the return of the dense, down-tuned and somewhat dark atmosphere that Modern Bodies is known for. That’s all here on Everything is Fine but listening to songs like Permission and Terribly Quelled sit side-by-side next to a re-recording of More Than a Million, which grabs you by the balls and doesn’t let go, makes it clearly apparent that a more direct and less progressive song structure does Hawk Eyes more favours than their moodier material.

The darker and more brooding tracks on Everything is Fine just feel lacking. While they certainly sound impressive on face value with their nasty, oozy guitars and dense production, the songs always lack a tasty hook or riff that could really push them to the next level. Tracks like The Ballad of Michael McGlue are bizarrely pedestrian listening experiences which is not something I ever thought I’d find myself saying about Hawk Eyes.

The weird thing is it’s apparent that this is still the same band. All the Hawk Eyes signatures are here; the riffs are heavy, the drums are thrashy and the vocals are a blend of raw barking and sung choruses. This is still the same Hawk Eyes you know and love but for whatever reason the songs on Everything is Fine simply drift on by without a riff or chorus barely managing to be as devastating or memorable as something like Witch Hunt or Skyspinners from Ideas.

Hawk Eyes have unfortunately made a slight miss-step on Everything is Fine. While the band’s satisfyingly thick riff-rock is still on show throughout the album, the meandering and broody nature of the music doesn’t accommodate memorable riffs and choruses. The absolute barnstormer that is More Than a Million proves exactly what most of Everything is Fine is missing; this album needs to spend more time getting to the point quicker and punctuating it with a catchy melody.

6/10

Hawk Eyes’ Everything is Fine is out now and available to buy direct from the band.


Review: Oblivionized’s Life is a Struggle, Give Up

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It’s been a long time coming, but tech-grind lunatics Oblivionized have finally delivered an album. Starting out as a 5-man progressive death metal act, the band have found powerful new legs as a trio and Life is a Struggle, Give Up showcases exactly how far the band have come since their 2011 debut EP.

Kicking things off, Lower Your Expectations manages to sum up exactly what Oblivionized are about in less than 2 minutes. The song deals in mind-melting polyrhythms, relentless blast-beats, bile-ridden screams and down-tuned guitar wizardry. This is extremely testing stuff but guitarist Sammy Urwin always chooses the perfect opportunities to lay off the technicality for a moment of groovy, neanderthal-esque head-banging like in the final moments of Cry Yourself to Ash. It’s the perfect combination of utter recklessness and it’s the sort of madness you’d probably get if members of SikTh and Suicide Silence formed a super-group.

The album’s title track is another great example of Oblivionized making technical death metal more palatable. Half way through the track the song changes from an unforgiving attack of guitar tapping and blast-beats to a slower-paced beatdown that wouldn’t feel out of place on an Oceano record. It’s not often we praise a band for using single-chord breakdowns but Oblivionized use them masterfully. Songs like Whore Dogs are all the better for their stylistic shift from angular craziness to riff-heavy sections.

We can’t continue without mentioning the stunning performance of drummer Will Merlin who absolutely decimates his kit throughout this record. A performance this furious deserves a great mix and thankfully this has also been accommodated. Most tech-metal records aim for robot-like precision in their mixes but thankfully every glorious, bass-heavy tom hit and cymbal crash has been captured with the savageness it deserves.

It’s also worth mentioning that Oblivionized’s lack of bassist is actually an element that helps this record. The addition of another guitar could’ve made this album a considerably difficult listening experience as the band’s sound is already breezeblock-thick. Urwin’s guitar-work cuts through the screaming and drumming and adds all the melody the band could ever need. Oblivionized manage to work a little too well considering their limitations.

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.

9/10

Oblivionized’s Life is a Struggle, Give Up is released on Secret Law Records later this month. Pre-order it by clicking here.


Review: XII Boar’s Pitworthy

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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: xRepentancex’s The Sickness of Eden

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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.