Tag Archives: black metal

Review: Underdark and Antre’s Split 7″

Underdark

It’s been a good few years since Underdark graced us with their debut EP Mourning Cloak and it’s extremely exciting to see new music from them. The Smell of Autumn is an incredible follow up full of extremely tight and passionate black metal. Thanks to it being black metal, we get loads of intense, tremolo-picked riffs and blast beats that maintain a level of intensity that makes this an amazingly engaging song. It flows in a wonderfully natural way, with an unsettling introduction that soon expands to reveal a whole host of nasty, blood-curdling secrets.

Despite being six and half minutes long, they go by in a flash thanks to the strength of Underdark’s song writing. Here’s a song bursting with so many ideas that it’s quite frankly unbelievable that they’ve crammed them all into a single song. Underdark haven’t lost any of their initial spark and it’ll be fascinating to see where they go from here.

10/10

Antre

Antre are an extremely fresh face in UK black metal. Hand of Fire marks their second release after last year’s two track demo and it certainly makes an impact. This a far more punishing effort than Underdark’s side of the split and its near five minute run time almost exclusively displays a penchant for playing as fast as possible. Hand of Fire is a track stuffed with tremolo-picking and blast beats and despite its focus on visceral speed, it manages to create an incredibly dark and disparate atmosphere.

We do get a slight shift into a slower tempo for the middle eight, but it isn’t long before we’re back to being beaten into submission by an intensity that’s difficult to argue with. Antre don’t show as much nuance as Underdark, but I get the feeling that was never the intention with Hand of Fire. If you like your black metal relentless and uncompromising then Antre certainly deliver with Hand of Fire.

8/10

Underdark and Antre’s Split 7″ is out now and available to buy direct from Underdark and Antre’s respect Bandcamp pages.

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Year End 2017: Best Albums Part 2

Barrabus – Barrabus

“Barrabus’ debut album is a fantastically weird collection of songs that don’t outstay their welcome. It’s all over in 29 minutes and rarely gives you a moment to breath. This is a noisy, sludgy punk album that isn’t too interested in showing any restraint. This album has certainly been a long time coming considering Barrabus’ last release was a demo in 2006, but its arrival is much like Paul Catten himself; unexpected and unrelenting. Long may he reign.”

Click here to read the full review.

Corrupt Moral Altar – 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.”

Click here to read the full review.

Alpha Male Tea Party – Health

If there was one record I’d be considering for ‘Album of the Year’, then this is about as close to it as I can imagine. Alpha Male Tea Party’s Health might look like it has a pretentious album cover and a load of nonsense song titles that wouldn’t look out of place on an early 2000s emo record, but all that is doing is hiding the fact that it houses a gargantuan slab of the best riffs you’ve ever heard. Alpha Male Tea Party blend bright, sugary post rock guitar work with some of the weightiest grooves known to man and they create one of the most satisfyingly pure rock records of the year. Essential listening.

Atragon – I, Necromancer

“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.”

Click here to read the full review.

Esprit D’Air – Constellations

“Esprit D’Air’s Constellations is a wonderfully accomplished debut album that’s full of massive anthems that stand toe-to-toe with the more established J-metal acts. The band also manages to add enough of their own love for progressive music and post rock to make the album stand on its own merits. If you like anthemic, sing-a-long pop metal full of massive riffs and soaring vocal melodies then you can certainly rely on Esprit D’Air to become your new favourite band.”

Click here to read the full review.

Watchcries – Wraith

Do you like metal? Well Watchcries’ Wraith has all of it. All the metal. It’s all here. Wraith is the sound of a band blending death metal, doom, black metal and hardcore together to create the unholiest racket possible. If last year’s EP was a statement of intent, then Wraith is the record that comes to your house and threatens to stab you if you don’t bang your head. An extremely dense record that is entirely devoid of any bullshit, Watchcries’ Wraith is a dream release if you like extreme music.

Glarus – Then and When

Sacha Zucconi’s Glarus expanded from being a solo project to having a full line-up and along with the personnel change came their debut album Then and When. The ex-Hammers man expands his dissonant take on sludge metal-infused hardcore and sprinkles a light dusting of dreamy melody over everything to make a record that is truly massive in scale. A record this good shouldn’t be hidden in the UK toilet circuit. Give it a listen and shout about it to everyone.

Jamie Lenman – Devolver

Unlike Lenman’s previous solo effort Muscle Memory, Devolver crams all the artist’s influences into one cohesive record instead of splitting them into 2 discs. What you get is an album that effortlessly swings between low-fi, indie rock coupled with electronics, to messy and bombastic grunge rock and even industrial metal. Jamie Lenman is fast becoming one of the UK’s auteurs of rock and he deserves to have a solo career as wild and varied as progressive rock greats like Devin Townsend.

Regurgitate Life – Obliteration of the Self

“Obliteration of the Self is a natural step forward for Regurgitate Life and the addition of live drums has made this a more cohesive package as a result. Urwin has admitted in the past that his programmed drum patterns are often a little unruly and near impossible for a real drummer to perform, so having a force like Daryl Best in the band has had such a positive impact on the music. Obliteration of the Self is a brilliant death metal record that showcases two musicians firing on all cylinders and is a “must listen” for anyone who can appreciate music this unrelenting.”

Click here to read the full review.


Year End 2017: Best Splits and EPs

No rankings this year; just a load of heavy records from UK bands and artists that I’ve enjoyed and think are worthy of your time. Please enjoy and have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Lewis xxx

SPLITS

The Tidal Sleep / Svalbard Split 7″

“Despite being a brief listening experience, this a brilliant split 7” that fans of post hardcore should not be sleeping on. Both bands put forward fantastic songs that are well worth your time and the production quality is magnificent throughout, making the entire release sound absolutely massive. Again, it’s wonderfully surprising that such a small release like this can contain such quality.”

Click here to read the full review.

Caïna / Cara Neir Split

2 tracks of nasty, brooding black metal from Texas outfit Cara Neir and Andy Curtis-Brignell’s Caïna. Cara Neir showcase a raspy and atmospheric style that has a strange, folky quality to it. Cara Neir have a really unique sound thanks to this and while the track is obviously heavier than a tonne of bricks, the lilting nature of the guitar melodies adds a sombre tone to the proceedings. This release also marks the final music from Caïna and showcases a more traditionally metal sound which is bizarrely refreshing after the band’s more experimental albums Setter of Unseen Snares and Christ Clad in White Phosphorous. It’s a bittersweet release that reminds you how brilliant Caïna were and that UK heavy music is now missing one of its most fascinating artists.

Dean Lane Hardcore Funday 3 Way Split featuring JFA, Rash Decision and The Broken Bones Gentlemen’s Club

Easily the most entertaining punk split of the year, JFA offer up a selection of live skate punk anthems with all the dirt and filth you’d expect from a bootleg release. Thrash punks Rash Decision serve up 3 new tracks that rock harder than a boulder falling off a cliff, but also manage to put a big, daft grin on your face because their lyrics are just so entertainingly stupid. For example, XErnestXBorgnineX is a track about that infamous Ernest Borgnine interview where he reveals the secret to his long life. The release is rounded off with an absolute belter of a tune from The Broken Bones Gentlemen’s Club; a big, shouty, hardcore punk beast with some of the most satisfying chunky riffs you could want.

EPs

A Cunning Man – Practical Applications of Theurgy

“Practical Applications of Theurgy is an extremely unique and almost overbearing symphonic metal release from one of the most gifted Scottish musicians I can think of. This is an extremely accomplished first offering from A Cunning Man and while it sometimes veers dangerously close to being a little too dense for its own good, the song-writing shines brighter and makes for a record that’s more than the sum of its parts. A Cunning Man have an awful lot to offer over these 3 tracks and I’m very excited to see where the project goes in the future.”

Click here to read the full review.

Cult Cinema – Cosmic Horror II

“Cosmic Horror II may be a smaller part in a larger release, but as it stands it marks another bold step forward for Cult Cinema who continue to showcase their violent yet beautiful song writing. Cosmic Horror II is the sound of a band who understand that heavy music is a hell of a lot more powerful when you create contrast and juxtaposition and once again the results are fantastic. By the time this trilogy comes to a close we should have a real highlight of modern post hardcore to enjoy and that in itself is very exciting.”

Click here to read the full review.

Stinky Wizzleteat – Quit Drugs!

“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.”

Click here to read the full review.


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: Cult Cinema’s Cosmic Horror II

Cult Cinema return with the second volume in their trilogy of concept EPs about being abandoned in outer space and despite a change in producer, this is a direct follow-up to their previous Cosmic Horror EP that continues with their frantic post hardcore sound.

The main difference with Cosmic Horror II is we get a more substantial offering this time around. While the first EP felt like a taster of things to come, this release feels more like the main event. Across these four tracks we’re treated to an outstanding display of versatility as Cult Cinema blend hardcore with moments of delicate ambience and harrowing black metal. You’re not just getting heavy music on Cosmic Horror II; you’re also getting a cohesive piece that takes you on a journey that ebbs and flows wonderfully. There’s an awful lot more to Cult Cinema than just playing fast and screaming.

Structurally it’s actually quite similar to Cosmic Horror I. The EP starts with a vicious one-two assault in the form of Bad Blood and Midnight Man before closing with the gargantuan Labyrinth of Solitude. This seven minute monster of a song slows things down and focuses on creating a disparate and terrifying atmosphere that matches the concept of the record perfectly. It’s largely instrumental as well which adds another string to Cult Cinema’s already varied bow.

What’s really interesting is how naturally this volume of the Cosmic Horror trilogy follows the first. Playing it directly after the original reveals an obvious connection that adds some additional context to this record. It works well enough on its own, but partner it with the original EP and you create something very special and bizarrely consistent considering the change in producer. By the time the third volume comes around I can imagine Cult Cinema will have created a long-player that will also deserve to be played sequentially with its previous volumes. Multi-volume records aren’t exactly a new concept but it’s fascinating to watch Cult Cinema’s Cosmic Horror come together in such an organic way.

Cosmic Horror II may be a smaller part in a larger release, but as it stands it marks another bold step forward for Cult Cinema who continue to showcase their violent yet beautiful song writing. Cosmic Horror II is the sound of a band who understand that heavy music is a hell of a lot more powerful when you create contrast and juxtaposition and once again the results are fantastic. By the time this trilogy comes to a close we should have a real highlight of modern post hardcore to enjoy and that in itself is very exciting.

9/10

Cult Cinema’s Cosmic Horror II is out now and available to download direct from the band’s Bandcamp page.


Review: Monolithian’s The Waning Moon

The mighty Monolithian have finally returned and they come baring a new 26 minute mini album called The Waning Moon. The blackened doom two-piece still manage to floor me with their enormous, devastating take on doom metal and with The Waning Moon they’ve even managed to cross over into new and unfamiliar territory.

However, before we get to said territory, opener Crone kicks things off and reminds us exactly what makes Monolithian one of the best low tempo metal bands out there. This 6 minute monster of a tune has a preposterously huge riff and a pounding rhythm that will certainly get those invisible oranges raised high. But then we get to the middle eight breakdown and the entire song steps up a notch with a black metal attack that will fuel a serious mosh pit or two. Crone is the sort of song that only Monolithian can make and it’s one of the strongest openings of any doom release.

But what have we here? The next song Nyarlathotep sees Monolithian reaching parts unknown; a reserved, psychedelic take on desert rock that’s expansive, atmospheric and hugely welcome. Monolithian once again manage to prove that despite being only two members strong, they still have a lot of ideas in reserve that can push their music into exciting new territory. It’s here where the album begins to show more variety in the song-writing and it proves that Monolithian are more than just a band who play slow, crushing doom flourished with fast bits.

The rest of The Waning Moon showcases the more familiar Monolithian sound of doom paired with black metal but now with the aforementioned exploration of desert rock, creating devastating slabs of sludgy, bass-lead metal that manages to sound utterly gargantuan. The scale of Monolithian’s music on The Waning Moon is verging on ridiculous, but it’s delivered with such confidence that it’s almost impossible not to lose yourself in.

The Waning Moon is a hugely successful burst of down-tempo aggression that sees Monolithian drawing on even more varied influences to great effect. It’s been hugely engrossing watching this band go from strength to strength on every release and if The Waning Moon is anything to go by then Monolithian’s next long-player will be an essential doom purchase.

9/10

Monolithian’s The Waning Moon is out now and available to buy direct from the band on limited edition purple vinyl.


Year End: The 10 Best Albums of 2016

2016albums

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.


Year End: The 10 Best EPs of 2016

2016eps

10) Cold Summer – Fight to Survive

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“Regardless, Cold Summer have finally hit their groove on Fight to Survive. This is an extremely bold and fearless record that sees all the pieces of the Cold Summer jigsaw puzzle fit together comfortably. If fist-pumping, anthemic post hardcore music is what you crave in life, then Fight to Survive is an EP you can rely on.”

Click here to read the full review.

9) Conjurer – I

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Despite making a name for themselves in the UK underground’s live circuit for what feels like ages, Conjurer finally released their debut EP this year and it’s fantastically difficult to categorise which is always a fun job as a music critic. This EP is a seriously challenging slab of metal that draws on so many different elements from genres as wide and diverse as death metal, classic rock, black metal and doom metal. Conjurer manage to sound like Mastodon, Between the Buried and Me and Deicide running at each other full pelt across a room with the resulting impact birthing whatever Conjurer are.

8) Wren – Host

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Wren continue to impress us with their huge, atmospheric take on doom metal. Host may be only 4 tracks long, but there’s an awful lot of music to indulge in. This is a creepy and forlorn take on doom that intersperses the music with elements of post rock to create a truly desperate and bleak tone that permeates the entire record. If you’ve been looking for a doom release that could probably make you emotionally well up, then Wren will certainly deliver that. Host is a really unique record from a band who are doing something very interesting with this genre.

7) Terrible Love – Change Nothing

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“Terrible Love’s Change Nothing is an incredible debut from a band that comes with a lot of expectation and they absolutely deliver. This is a remarkably accomplished start to a band’s career that I hope lasts for a very long time.”

Click here to read the full review.

6) Nembutal – Pay to Die

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When bands put out releases like this I always get tempted to just write, “FUCK” and leave it at that. Nembutal’s follow-up to their 2014 demo is about as no-nonsense as hardcore punk records come. The goal of every song on Pay to Die is to play as loud and fast as possible and it just so happens that Nembutal are bloody excellent at doing both. Nembutal’s music has about as much depth as a roadside puddle, but if you enjoy your hardcore punk being played with as much energy as the human body can muster then you absolutely have to listen to Pay to Die.

5) Allfather – Bless the Earth With Fire

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“Allfather have evolved significantly since their debut EP and with Bless the Earth with Fire we see the band writing more diverse and interesting songs that complement the shift towards sludge metal. It also rocks like a mother fucker.”

Click here to read the full review.

4) So-Crates – v1

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“Overall, v1 is an accomplished and intense debut from an extremely exciting new band. If you’re a fan of post hardcore and math rock then you’ll find a lot to love here and despite some niggles regarding the production, the song-writing really does shine bright and offer a record that is greater than the sum of its parts.”

Click here to read the full review.

3) Underdark – Mourning Cloak

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Nottingham’s Underdark exploded out the gates with a black metal release that’s scarily accomplished for a first drop. Mourning Cloak is a wonderfully textured and beautifully structured EP that betrays how heavy it is. The ebb and flow of every song on this record is so gloriously natural and well placed that there’s a dream-like quality to the music that’s at juxtaposition with all the screaming and double-bass drumming on offer. Underdark are a very special band that instantly have my attention and have me begging for more.

2) Watchcries – Watchcries

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Another EP that took me by complete surprise, Watchcries’ debut self-titled EP is never short on ideas. This 3 track offering of metallic hardcore fuses itself with elements of death and black metal and instantly grabs you by the collar and gets right in your face. Watchcries have no interest in nuance; this is a band who are itching to make the most visceral and aggressive metal they can and if this debut is anything to go by then their next record might actually kill you.

1) Razoreater – Vacuum of Nihil

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“Vacuum of Nihil is a loud, noisy, racket of a metal EP and it contains Razoreater’s finest work to date. This band has only managed to get more ferocious with every record and still manage to find new ways to assault your ears. Vacuum of Nihil might have been a long time coming but when Razoreater deliver a record as disgustingly vicious as this it makes you realise that it might have all been worth it. This is an essential UK metal release.”

Click here to read the full review.


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: Harrowed and Art of Burning Water’s Split 7″

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HARROWED

Harrowed’s take on dark, metallic hardcore is one of the best in the UK and their debut album Into Inferno is a vicious and dangerous sounding record that takes all the best bits from the genre and plays them really well. However, on the two tracks they offer on this split, the elements are all still there but Harrowed don’t sound as volatile. This is Harrowed doing what Harrowed do and that’s fine because Harrowed make great hardcore, but they’re missing the edge that made Into Inferno so utterly sumptuous.

This is mainly due to the production style which is a little rawer than the band’s debut. Into Inferno certainly wasn’t a bright, shiny album when it came to production, but the guitar sounded deadly. It had a real bite that’s sadly missing on these tracks and it just means that they’re missing a special something that would make them stand out better, especially now that dark hardcore is such an overpopulated genre.

Harrowed are still an exciting hardcore band and these tracks are by no means bad, they’re just not up to the band’s usual standard. Fingers crossed Harrowed have another belter of a long-player in the works because it’s about time we saw something more substantial from the band. It’s weird to think that Into Inferno is around 3 years old now.

7/10

ART OF BURNING WATER

Art of Burning Water are one of those bands that have been slogging their way through the toilet circuit for what feels like forever and never really been given their dues. Their music is very difficult to categorise as it draws in so many different influences from the heavy music spectrum, but it’s mainly a form hardcore punk that’s sprinkled with elements of black metal and grindcore. Vocals are always high-pitched and raspy giving their music that nasty, brooding vibe that black metal does so well and the loose, short bursts of almost free-form song-writing definitely lend themselves heavily to hardcore and grind.

Thankfully, despite all these elements coming into play, they manage to fuse in a way that makes Art of Burning Water’s music sound utterly ferocious. Let Me Let You Finish is the perfect example of all these musical styles coming together harmoniously and it’s a terrifying and scattershot explosion of disgusting metal that demands your attention. Please start paying attention to what Art of Burning Water are doing because a band like this shouldn’t be so criminally overlooked.

8/10

Harrowed and Art of Burning Water’s split 7″ is out now and available to buy from Secret Law Records.