Tag Archives: holy roar records

Review: The Tidal Sleep and Svalbard’s Split 7″

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It’s a double-dose of glittery yet aggressive post hardcore from Germany’s The Tidal Sleep and Bristol’s Svalbard on this extremely dense slab of wax. The two bands complement each other amazingly well making this a surprisingly cohesive release that betrays its split format.

THE TIDAL SLEEP

The Tidal Sleep’s Are You Ok? is a very interesting and progressive track that isn’t afraid to get weird and spacey in its middle eight. Bursting out the gates with a venomous punk rock fury, the band get wonderfully introspective for a lot of this track and it makes for a bizarrely pleasant and atmospheric experience that distracts from the fact the band were just screaming their lungs out a minute ago. As the song slowly builds itself back up for the final attack, it explodes with one final burst of energy and it’s absolutely magnificent. This is a fantastic offering from The Tidal Sleep that deserves to be heard.

8/10

SVALBARD

Open the Cages is another monster of a song from Svalbard, complete with shimmering guitar leads and an absolutely relentless and exhausting pace that shows no sign of the band slowing down. It also does that patented Svalbard build to a monstrous and uplifting crescendo that’s full of hope, despite the visceral nature of the music on display. Svalbard haven’t put a foot wrong for the entirety of their career so far and this release is just another example as to why they’re one of the most exciting bands in the UK right now. Svalbard have no right churning out songs as good as this for a 7” split and it’s satisfying to know they didn’t phone this one in and save themselves for a larger release.

9/10

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.

The Tidal Sleep and Svalbard’s split 7″ is out now and available to buy through Holy Roar Records.


Live Review: Holy Roar X at The Dome/Boston Music Rooms 21/5/2016

Holy Roar’s tenth birthday party took place across 2 stages at The Dome and Boston Music Rooms on the 21st of May 2016. No fewer than 18 bands played live during the day and while we would have liked to have seen all of them, there’s only so much a man can take. Regardless, this was a hugely enjoyable and celebratory event for one of the most consistent and long-lasting UK heavy music labels. So here are some thoughts on the 15 bands we managed to catch throughout the day:

HELPLESS
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What a start to the day. Helpless might only have a single EP to their name but they’re a vicious, fiery band that plays some of the tightest dark hardcore I’ve seen in years. I was instantly enthralled by Helpless and I’m looking forward to seeing where they go from here.

UP RIVER
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Next up we had some explosive and emotional young post hardcore talent in the form of Up River. There’s something very Vales and Svalbard about their music which is no bad thing as we’re treated to a passionate performance full of youthful energy. Up River are definitely a band to keep an eye on.

EULOGY
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We’ve made our love for Eulogy very apparent on the website for quite some time now and seeing them live just solidifies exactly what we like about them. This was a brash, scrappy performance by the metallic hardcore quartet and another fantastic early set from HRX.

SVALBARD
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What’s left to say about Svalbard? They just get better every time I see them. The post hardcore band is firing on all cylinders and from the moment Serena screams, “We’re fucking Svalbard from Bristol!” they have the audience eating from the palm of their hand. Svalbard are unstoppable right now and this was another flawless performance from one of the UK’s best bands.

HAAST’S EAGLED
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I don’t know if this was due to seeing them directly after one of the best sets at HRX, but Haast’s Eagled felt like a bit of a downer for me. The band make long-form, sludgy desert rock that was certainly accomplished but essentially a polar opposite to the barrage of glittery guitar melodies and blast-beats that I’d just witnessed via Svalbard. Maybe in a different environment I’d enjoy Haast’s Eagled a little better, but today was not that time.

EMPLOYED TO SERVE
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This was our first special set of the day seeing Employed to Serve perform their debut album Greyer than You Remember in its entirety. Another Scumscene favourite, Employed to Serve basically prove to everyone in attendance why they’re the most exciting mathcore band in the country. Greyer than You Remember is an incredible record and Employed to Serve perform it with all the bile and fury you could possibly want. This was one of the best sets of the day.

MEEK IS MURDER
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My God was this a surprise. Meek is Murder are a band that has been on my radar for a while now but this is the first time I’ve seen them live and it was jaw-dropping. The band deal in some vicious, angular hardcore and their performance is about as no-nonsense as you could want. The band obliterates their set-list and put on an amazing performance to boot. If hardcore is your thing then you need to check out Meek is Murder right now.

THE LONG HAUL
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Holy shit! The Long Haul are back for a one-off reunion show and it’s like they’ve never been away. The Long Haul still look like a band of fresh-faced hardcore upstarts and they power through their set-list with an unnerving ease. This was all over far too soon and it instantly reminded you why the band are so dearly missed.

APOLOGIES, I HAVE NONE
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Like Haast’s Eagled set earlier, I felt like Apologies, I Have None were battling against being a band that couldn’t really match the energy of what had come before. The pop-punk act seem like a strange fit for Holy Roar and while their bouncy emo melodies are perfectly serviceable, they just didn’t push my buttons in the way I like.

GIANTS
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I don’t think Giants are for me. There’s nothing particularly wrong with their angst-ridden hardcore and there’s certainly a lot of crowd-killers in attendance that are loving this set, but the band didn’t feel like they were doing anything a thousand other hardcore bands have done better.

OHHMS
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Allow me to get hyperbolic for a second; OHHMS blew me away like no other band has done since… well, probably Rolo Tomassi to be honest. The band’s psychedelic, groovy doom is heavier than a sack of breeze blocks and the quartet put on a feral performance that sees every member of the band chewing the scenery. This was a hypnotic performance that I cannot recommend enough. Go and see OHHMS live.

VALES
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Another special set, Vales take to the stage to perform their debut EP Clarity for the last time. Vales are hinting a new direction for their next release which seems like an odd decision when you see how the audience hang onto every last word of the songs from Clarity. Vales clearly mean a lot to many and their explosive post hardcore is some of the best in the UK. Clarity might not be representative of the band members anymore, but you can’t deny it’s a record that exudes a youthful ambivalence to trends and gimmicks and their performance tonight bolsters that sentiment perfectly.

SLABDRAGGER
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My notes for Slabdragger’s set simply read, “The heaviest band” and I’m quite inclined to leave it at that, but I’m not going to because I want to tell you how incredible Slabdragger are live. Fucking incredible. The room explodes as the band unleash an onslaught of monolithic riffs. Nobody can compete with Slabdragger and this was probably my favourite set from HRX. Slabdragger; you beautiful bastards.

HANG THE BASTARD
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Speaking of bastards, it’s time for Hang the Bastard to play Hellfire Reign in its entirety and with original vocalist Chris Barling making his first appearance in four years. The sludgecore giants suffer some technical difficulties throughout their set but this doesn’t bother anyone in attendance because the room felt like it might explode with the amount of energy the band were creating. I thought Hang the Bastard’s performance tonight was a bit sloppy in places but I suppose that’s to be expected when you summon a mosh-pit as violent as this.

ROLO TOMASSI
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In the words of Holy Roar’s own Alex Fitzpatrick, “Only Rolo Tomassi could headline” and he’s not wrong. The band power through a set list that sees the band cherry-pick a few songs from each of their releases in chronological order and it never lets up. Rolo Tomassi are one of the most unique and important UK mathcore bands and even if their change in sound in more recent years has polarised you, their performance tonight can’t be denied. Rolo Tomassi are still one of the most enthralling live acts around and this is a fitting end to an incredible day of music. Happy birthday, Holy Roar. Here’s to 10 more years.


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.


Review: Eulogy’s Eternal Worth

eulogy

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: Svalbard’s One Day All This Will End

svalbard

Post hardcore stalwarts Svalbard have finally seen fit to write and record their debut album after three years of EPs, splits and singles and their tried and tested formula of glittery post punk mixed with hardcore is still as beautiful and engaging as ever. The only difference is now the band have the room to really let loose and One Day All This Will End takes the listener on one of the most emotional journeys heavy music has to offer.

Opener Perspective really does exactly what it says on the tin by giving the listener an introduction to what the band is all about. This is a wonderfully progressive journey that ebbs and flows between gorgeous melody and heart on sleeve aggression. Vocalist and guitarist duo Serena Cherry and Liam Phelan deliver an almost entirely screamed vocal performance throughout but compliment the lack of vocal melodies by showcasing their talents via their fantastic guitar work which straddles the fence between beautiful, sparkling guitar leads and devastating, stompy riffs.

Svalbard are a band with a sound that is surprisingly approachable and anyone looking to get into hardcore punk will have a fantastic jump-on point with this record. For every burst of vicious aggression there is a beautiful melody to wrap your ears around and that’s the real masterstroke of Svalbard’s sound.

Despite the heavy focus on soaring guitar melodies, some of Svalbard’s heaviest work is also featured on One Day All This Will End. Songs like Disparity and Expect Equal Respect are the closest things to no-nonsense punk that Svalbard have ever concocted and having them sandwiched in between these gorgeous moments of emo-esque respite makes their impact even greater. Enough can’t be said about the way this albums moves in such a wonderfully natural way.

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.

9/10

Svalbard’s One Day All This Will End is out now and available to purchase through Holy Roar Records.


Review: Down I Go’s You’re Lucky God, That I Cannot Reach You

downigo

Alt rockers Down I Go have an interesting and surprisingly long-lasting career that has seen them break up and now reform after being offered an opportunity to record a new album in Iceland. The band have also managed to achieve this with all 3 members now residing in Toronto, Stockholm and Chicago respectively. They’re third album You’re Lucky God, That I Cannot Reach You is the culmination of their time in Iceland and it sounds like a mad combination of early Biffy Clyro wrestling with Between the Buried and Me.

Before we start our analysis of this record, I’m going to let you in on a little secret; I hold music against two main points of criticism. The first is the music has to be interesting and the second is the music has to be memorable. If you nail them both then you’re onto a winner but if you only achieve one then I personally think the music falls a little flat as a result. Down I Go’s music can definitely be described as interesting but an awful lot of You’re Lucky God simply goes through the motions without any melodies that really stick with you.

Down I Go manage to meld a wonderfully progressive, almost mathcore sound with some beautiful and uplifting vocal melodies that would happily lend themselves to alternative or post rock. Not only that but Ben Standage and Pete Fraser put their trombone and saxophone experience from previous band Jesse James to good use by flourishing the music with wonderful little bursts of brass. Their sound is bizarre and unique and the band have to be commended for making something sound so different.

What’s really strange about this record is how it manages to be incredibly brash and noisy but lack a lot of that power that makes heavy music so exciting to listen to. There’s a very stripped-back sound to You’re Lucky God and that means it often feels a bit lacking. The bass doesn’t beef the band’s sound up in the way it really should and despite the razor-sharp guitar work that could have been taken from a tech metal release, the guitar tone is just a bit tinny for something so fundamentally angry.

The real disappointment is that there are no real outstanding riffs or melodies that will lodge themselves in your psyche. You’re Lucky God plays out like one extended piece of music with many movements but the angular guitar work doesn’t generate riffs and the mainly screamed vocals also lack melody. When the vocals do move into sung territory they often have a drawn-out, lazy drawl to them that also fails to generate any memorable moments.

The most memorable moment from the record comes from its introduction, Mother in the Pen which sounds like nothing else on the record with its minimalist focus on melody that feels more like a Mogwai track. It also returns for a reprise that makes the whole album into a charming cyclical experience.

You’re Lucky God, That I Cannot Reach You is an ambitious album with a wonderfully unique sound that doesn’t really allow Down I Go to work with any melodies or riffs that could really set the whole experience off. This whole record made me feel somewhat hollow as it often showcases a band who have mastered their craft but their craft is unfortunately lacking in melody.

5/10

Down I Go’s You’re Lucky God, That I Cannot Reach You is out now on 12″ white vinyl through Holy Roar Records.


Review: Rolo Tomassi’s Grievances

grievances

Rolo Tomassi have changed. I mean, of course they have; 3 of their original 5 members have left and the entirety of their rhythm section has been changed out. Their last album Astraea at least maintained the same drummer as their first 2 records but Grievances doesn’t even have this luxury.

So as you can expect the dynamic of the band has shifted significantly and this was also apparent on Astraea. Not only had the guitar work moved away from technical punk flourished with jazz in favour of a more traditional mathcore sound, but the song structures were considerably more rigid as a result. This has only become more apparent on the band’s 4th album Grievances.

Grievances follows a more solid foundation that doesn’t see the tempos change mid song like the Rolo Tomassi of old. This has the unfortunate effect of making the band more predictable. Some listeners may prefer this more focussed and direct Rolo Tomassi but for me part of the band’s appeal was always how utterly bat-shit insane their song-writing was. Grievances is tame in comparison.

Tame is a strong word. Rolo Tomassi are still a very aggressive and very progressive band with a huge sound. If you’re a fan of mathcore then songs like Estranged and The Embers will instantly appeal as they’re considerably well put together, it’s just they don’t sound like they come from the same band. It’s this notion that will greatly affect the appeal of the record. Rolo Tomassi fans of old will likely feel like something is missing while new fans will have a perfectly serviceable mathcore record to sink their teeth into.

If we take the album at face value then there is still plenty to enjoy. The guitar work is a wonderfully technical blend of dense riffs and noodly moments of guitar prowess. The drums hit you straight in the chest with a gloriously satisfying punch and the performances are tighter than a kitten stuck in a drain-pipe. Vocalist Eva Spence puts forward a dazzling display of throat-tearing aggression backed with some wonderfully introspective moments of haunting melodies. James Spence continues to move away from his chiptune-style keyboard effects in favour of more subtle sounds that help create some wonderful texture. The core mechanics of this album are expertly delivered and like I’ve already said, if you like mathcore then you can do no wrong than giving this album a listen.

But if you’re already a Rolo Tomassi fan then you’re bound to notice some of the magic has been lost. Grievances is not the frankly bizarre drug-trips of Hysterics and Cosmology and if you want to hear the band continue down that road of agitated punk crossed with jazz and chiptune sounds then you’ll be sorely disappointed. Rolo Tomassi have changed and whether that’s a good or a bad thing depends exactly on your familiarity with the band.

7/10

Rolo Tomassi’s Grievances is out now and can be ordered from Holy Roar Records.


Review: Employed to Serve’s Greyer than You Remember

Employed-To-Serve

Employed to Serve have fucking arrived. Going from a 2 piece studio project to full blown metallic hardcore band has been a long journey and while the band’s previous EP Change Nothing, Regret Everything hinted at greatness, nothing could have prepared us for Greyer than You Remember.

Greyer Than You Remember marks Employed to Serve’s first foray into the world of long players and the moment Live Without bursts out the gate you’re instantly bludgeoned with some of the most devastatingly dense hardcore this side of a Converge record. Employed to Serve are clearly cut from the same sort of cloth as metallic hardcore’s finest like the aforementioned Converge, The Dillinger Escape Plan and Coalesce but this is a band born and bred in the UK’s hardcore scene and you can hear shades of Throats and Pariso running through their veins.

So let’s talk about the music because my God there’s a lot to dissect. Employed to Serve have given up on singing entirely in favour of sounding like a tornado is ripping through your home. Justine Jones’ vocal performance is nothing short of terrifying and she’s managed to evolve into one of the leading female screamers this country has to offer. Sammy Urwin continues to floor the opposition with as many riffs as he can produce and if anyone’s familiar with his work in either Oblivionized or Regurgitate Life you’ll know exactly what madness this man can achieve.

These two elements are bolstered by additional guitar work by James Jackson and bassist James Venning who give the record that devastating thickness. Tying everything together is a drum performance by Robbie Black who should probably be having a hard time keeping up with his band-mates but there are no such worries here. The drums have that wonderfully enormous live quality to them that producer Lewis Johns is so magnificent in capturing. Employed to Serve sound like a fucking rampage.

The band does manage to muster a few moments of melody like on the Vales-esque Bones to Break. These moments act as a temporary reprieve from the onslaught contained in the rest of the record and they show a wonderfully introspective side to the band that manages to add some real texture to the record.

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.

9/10

Employed to Serve’s Greyer than You Remember is out now and available to order from Holy Roar Records.


Year End: The Top 10 Best EPs of 2014

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10) Yards – EP2

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Yards completed their double EP release with the thrashy, hardcore punk lunacy of EP2. The record is a wonderfully visceral streak of aggression that puts together an album’s worth of riffs and rams them all into four blistering hardcore anthems. This is a great hardcore release that is only improved by playing it with its sister record.

9) Pure Graft – Casual Labour

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Newcastle’s Pure Graft make an elaborate noise that is extremely difficult to pigeon-hole. The band play melodic punk rock but their compositions are beautifully progressive. If you think Alkaline Trio by way of At the Drive-In then you’ll get a good idea as to how wonderfully bizarre this all is. Casual Labour is loaded with sing-a-long melodies and angular guitar riffs which make this release a wonderful breath of fresh air.

8) Jackals – Violence Is…

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Jackals are not the sort of band who mess around with things like nuance. The band’s latest EP Violence Is… is a hardcore punk EP that has no ulterior motive other than to bombard the listener with screaming, thunderous riffs and drumming that waits for no man. This is a frantic and unashamedly loud release from one of the purest hardcore punk bands this country has to offer.

7) Iced Out – Jukai

jukai

What we said:

“Once again Iced Out manage to bottle pure fury and put it on record. The shift in atmosphere that is brought about by the slower-paced songs suits the oppressive nature of the band’s music perfectly and creates some absolutely crushing anthems of despair. Iced Out have proven that there’s more to this band than straight-forward hardcore and ‘Jukai’ marks a huge evolution for them. If you get a chance to see the band perform this material in a live environment then make sure to wear a neck brace because with riffs this big you might do yourself some serious damage.”

Read the full review by clicking here.

6) Employed to Serve – Change Nothing, Regret Everything

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What we said:

“Employed to Serve are on top of their game and continue to be one of the most exciting bands in the UK right now. Their sound continues to evolve into a much larger, more technical beast and the band know how to maximise on huge riffs and interesting song structures to keep their audience engaged whilst smashing their faces through their nearest wall. This is an intense and fairly progressive record that deserves a place in your record collection.”

Read the full review by clicking here.

5) Cholera – Plagiarised Hope

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What we said:

“So Cholera aren’t particularly original but so what? ‘Plagiarised Hope’ is an absolutely stunning 7” that takes all the best parts of modern hardcore and delivers an immensely satisfying slab of chaos. If you have any interest in the genre then Cholera make an excellent starting point and ‘Plagiarised Hope’ showcases a hugely accomplished sound that highlights the best parts of the scene. Cholera have never sounded so strong.”

Read the full review by clicking here.

4) Actions & Consequence – Moving On

Actions & Consequence - Moving On EP - cover

Moving On by Actions & Consequence had a bizarre effect on me. Growing up in the nineties lead to a punk rock discovery that only occurred late into the decade and Actions & Consequence brought back memories of all those initial discoveries with full force. If you ever cared about the early careers of bands like The Offspring, Bad Religion and AFI then Actions & Consequence might just become your new favourite band. They’ve certainly become one of mine.

3) Megalodoom – Tectonic Oblivion

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What we said:

“Megalodoom’s Tectonic Oblivion is a thunderous beast of an EP that manages to escape the potential boredom that their lack of vocals could have caused. The band have put together a hugely satisfying selection of riffs and melodies that tie together beautifully and create a behemoth of an EP that doom fans should be clawing over themselves to own.”

Read the full review by clicking here.

2) Cactus&Cardigan – Highland Bastards

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What we said:

“Cactus&Cardigan have put together an alternative rock/metal release that is never short on riffs. The songs are all enormous, groove-laden affairs that deserve to be heard outside of the band’s native Scotland. Heavy music needs bands like Cactus&Cardigan to remind us that heavy music doesn’t need to be overly technical to provide a satisfying impact and Highland Bastards is one of the best examples of this mantra we can think of.”

Read the full review by clicking here.

1) Irk – Bread and Honey

Irk - Bread and Honey - cover

What we said:

“The only real negative I can throw at this EP is it’s all over in 10 minutes and quite frankly I need more. Irk have whet my appetite for more rollicking, mathcore lunacy and that’s a pretty good indication as to how good Bread and Honey is. You’d be a fool not to give Irk at least 10 minutes of your time. It might be the best 10 minutes you’ve had with heavy music this year.”

Read the full review by clicking here.


Review: Employed to Serve’s Change Nothing, Regret Everything

If you’ve been following UK Scumscene closely for these last two years then I’m sure you’ll already know who Employed to Serve are. We’ve been big fans of the band’s first two EPs but if you’re new to them then allow me to reiterate. Employed to Serve started as a studio project by Justine Jones and Sammy Urwin but soon expanded into a full line-up so the band could tour. Their latest EP ‘Change Nothing, Regret Everything’ is their first recorded material featuring their full line-up and plays out in a similar mathcore fashion to their previous work, so expect a sound similar to that of The Dillinger Escape Plan, Botch and Converge.

The main thing you’ll notice about this record is how utterly ferocious Employed to Serve sound with live drums driving the action. The whole record sounds much more organic now the band have Robbie Black’s hard-hitting yet scrappy drumming in the mix. It really lights up songs like the re-recording of ‘Perfect Smiles and Crooked Teeth’.

The mix has also been stripped back to showcase a sound that’s as true to a live recording as possible. There’s no bells and whistles randomly scattered about the place on this EP; this really does sound like four guys and one gal going absolutely ape-shit and dragging you along for the ride.

Another big change is how the vocals on this EP are entirely screamed. Justine sounds even more pissed off than usual and her performance is absolutely electrifying in the process. It’s a shame that Sammy’s haunting singing doesn’t return to help diversify the record slightly, but this is a minor complaint that merely marks a “what if?” scenario that we’ve painted in our minds. The important thing is the band are evolving and trying new things which gives ‘Change Nothing, Regret Everything’ an identity of its own.

Speaking of Sammy, the guitarist is on absolutely top form. Riffs are always monolithic and hugely inventive. The guitar work twists and turns with the complex structure of the songs and some amazing material is on display in songs like ‘You Looked Forever’ which continually expands before it explodes into a huge hardcore riff that brings the whole EP to a satisfying end.

Employed to Serve are on top of their game and continue to be one of the most exciting bands in the UK right now. Their sound continues to evolve into a much larger, more technical beast and the band know how to maximise on huge riffs and interesting song structures to keep their audience engaged whilst smashing their faces through their nearest wall. This is an intense and fairly progressive record that deserves a place in your record collection.

8/10

Employed to Serve’s ‘Change Nothing, Regret Everything’ is released on 12″ vinyl through Holy Roar Records on March 31st 2014.