After over a decade, Barrabus have returned for the release of their debut album. Lead by the mighty UK underground overlord that is Paul Catten of Medulla Nocte, Lazarus Blackstar and Murder One fame, Barrabus are a noise-rock band that draw comparisons to USA Nails and Chickenhawk-era Hawk Eyes.
The first thing you’ll notice on the band’s self-titled debut album is Catten’s voice. It’s as instantly recognisable as ever. Catten has a wonderfully unique, piercing scream that loosely flops around between low-pitched grumbling and spoken word sections accompanied by a bizarre, Southern-American drawl. Catten does what he wants and does it with passion. Similarly to Mike Patton, here’s a vocalist who could easily sound like he’s taking the piss, but thanks to how wonderfully heart-on-sleeve his performance is, it always sounds genuine even if it’s a tad unconventional.
However, we should move on from Paul Catten’s vocals because these are just a single element in this almighty racket. Frequent Catten collaborator Mark Seddon (also of Medulla Nocte and Murder One) is playing guitar on this album and my word does that man have chops. Despite this album being quite a frantic, often messy slab of noise, Seddon keeps the album grounded with big riffs that are memorable enough to get their hooks deep into you. Porn! is a real highlight in this regard (I mean with a title like that, obviously) and its punky guitar work is surprisingly catchy considering how unapologetically heavy it is.
Album highlights include the slow-burning, somewhat doomy opener of My Nightmare as a Reality TV Contestant and the no-nonsense thrill ride of Behind Closed Doors. This track barrels along at a devastating speed before breaking down into sheer lunacy. Let’s not forget the similarly structured Kleptomania which gets equally weird after its opening barrage of riffs. Then we’ve got songs like In League with Vader which decides to add a touch of black metal to the mix with its opening tremolo-picked riff. There’s just so much going on here that it’s difficult not to be enamoured by the sheer amount of ideas Barrabus have managed to include in such a short space of time.
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.
Barrabus’ self-titled debut album is out now and available to buy through Undergroove Records.
BiT are a noise rock band that dress up as haggard old ladies with terrifying hag masks. It certainly gets your attention because outside of their image and music, there isn’t an awful lot of banter happening. You never quite get to grips with why these 3 guys look like this and why their ultra-fuzzy noise rock is played so loose and atonal, but you’re always entertained. There’s something fascinating by how utterly bizarre this band is. Musically they’re quite lacking and their dual guitar attack (one using a low-pitched distortion and one using a high-pitched distortion) is often too abrasive to really enjoy, but sometimes the sheer shock value of a performance like this is just enough to keep you engaged and I certainly felt that way while watching BiT. This is the sort of band I’d take friends to see just to see how they’d react.
Old Forest continue the theme of fuzzy over-distorted guitars with their special blend of noise rock and grunge. Despite being a little more tuneful than BiT, I had a hard time enjoying their music as both the bassist and guitarist used a similar sounding low-pitched distortion which meant the riffs were often difficult to ascertain. You could see the band’s drummer also had difficulty hearing the progression of the music and there were quite a few hiccups in the performance that became quite uncomfortable to watch. Thankfully the band were almost able to redeem themselves with some really savage riffs that certainly kept my head banging, but I couldn’t help but think how much better they’d sound if the band had more discernible melodies and a better contrast between guitar and bass.
This review of Sludgefeast’s set is going to have some pretty heavy bias to it because I can’t deny how much this band means to me. The garage rockers rarely play live nowadays, thanks to lead vocalist and guitarist James Barnard now living in Singapore, so a brand new Sludgefeast show has a very special and precious place in my heart. Now this performance wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination. Barnard was under-rehearsed and sloppy throughout and would often trail off between songs just to fuck about for a laugh, but I certainly did laugh for the entire set. Sludgefeast’s on-stage antics are nothing short of hilarious and even though their playing wasn’t the tightest, the band still managed to frequently play their songs well enough that you were reminded how unapologetically rocking they are. Sludgefeast are all about being obnoxious and loud and they definitely delivered on both of those points tonight. They also managed to remind you that their back catalogue is home to some pretty spectacular riffs and while they may have not been played particularly well, I was extremely happy to see them played at all.
Edinburgh-based, obnoxious noise-rock trio BRITNEY return for their third album; the aptly named BRITN3Y. If an album has ever had its music more accurately represented by its album cover (a screaming office drone who’s head is exploding) then I don’t really want to know.
BRITNEY’s sound is a violent crossbreed of bands like Down I Go and Let’s Talk Daggers. This is abrasive, thrashy, bass-lead rock with multiple, thick layers of terrifying screaming. This is not a particularly welcoming album, but it is a bizarrely enjoyable one.
BRITNEY sound like a band who are having fun and it’s impossible not to enjoy their frivolity. Songs unfold in a completely scattershot, written-in-about-10-minutes kind of way and it’s strangely engaging. The band are at their best when they’re powering through massive, fuzzy riffs and screaming a load of nonsense that at least sounds important. That’s the key to success, folks; sound like you care.
Where the record falls down is in its inconsistency. While the more aggressive, fast-paced tracks like Sneezefic, Witch Bucket and Neon Python contain all the fun, songs like Sleep Now, Dogman kill a lot of the pace thanks to the song mainly consisting of back-masked noise and retching. I’m all for a band being weird and unpredictable but not at the expense of flow. BRITN3Y has a really hard time finding its flow and its stuff like this that detracts from the overall experience.
Thankfully there are more positives than negatives. Tracks like Boss Moggy and I.I.A.H.S.W.E.S are wonderfully abstract and abrasive songs that showcase BRITNEY at their best. BRITNEY are a strange band who probably won’t click for a lot of people, but there’s definitely something very interesting and unique about them that will reward listeners who can power through their inconsistencies.
BRITNEY’s BRITN3Y is out now through Superstar Destroyer Records.
Noise-rockers Cactus&Cardigan return with a new music video for George Michael Cums Cobwebs from their debut EP ‘Gag Reflex’ (you know, fourth best EP of 2013). The video was shot and edited entirely by the band with a “non existent budget”. Check it out:
Cactus&Cardigan head to the studio at the end of the month to record the follow-up to ‘Gag Reflex’. I cannot wait. Potato.
The Japanese metal beast that is Kawabata Makoto’S Mainliner are currently touring the UK and Ireland this month but they are joined for two dates by brilliantly named noise rock mentalists Dethscalator.
Dethscalator join the band for a Birmingham date at The Flapper on the 26th of September and a London date at Corsica Studios on the 29th of September. For the rest of the Mainliner dates look below:
19 Liverpool – The Blade Factory
20 Cork – Clonakilty Guitar Festival. West Cork (Ireland)
21 Dublin – Grand Social (Ireland)
22 Limerick – Bourke’s (Ireland)
23 Glasgow – The 13th Note
24 Newcastle Upon Tyne – Think Tank @ Hoults Yard (w/ Haikai No Ku)
25 Hebden Bridge – Trades Club
26 Birmingham – The Flapper (w/ Dethscalator)
27 Bristol – Thekla
28 Brighton – The Green Door Store
29 London – Corsica Studios (w/ Patent Saint & Dethscalator)
Need a reason to check out Dethscalator? Then look no further than here:
You can also stream the new Mainliner record by clicking here.
Ladies and Gentlemen; bear witness to what is probably going to be the best UK music video produced all year. God Damn’s single Heavy Money which comes off their new EP of the same name is accompanied by one of the best acted, most charming and most interesting music videos I’ve seen in a long, long time. Just watch and you’ll see what I mean:
You can pre-order God Damn’s Heavy Money EP on limited edition cassette now from Gravy Records. A free download is also included.
Scottish noise-rockers Cactus&Cardigan have unleashed their first taster of debut EP Gag Reflex which launches on April 26th through Action Park Records. The track is called Smegma and… well… just watch the video:
Smegma can be downloaded by clicking here. Make sure you do.
Cactus&Cardigan are also touring the EP with a handful of Scottish dates. Full details below:
24th – GLASGOW – NICE N SLEAZY – w/ CARNIVORES
25th – EDINBURGH – OPIUM – w/ TBC
26th – THURSO – YNOT – EP RELEASE NIGHT w/ EMILIO LARGO
27th – INVERNESS – THE MUSIC SHED – SHEDSTOCK 2013
Noise rockers Hawk Eyes have unleashed a new music video for the track You Deserve a Medal from the album Ideas. Check it out below:
Hawk Eyes are touring the UK at the moment. See below for the full list of dates:
March 23rd – BIRMINGHAM Jagermeister Tour
March 31st – SHEFFIELD Detestival
April 2nd – LEEDS Brudenell Music Video Festival
May 2nd – LIVERPOOL Sound City
May 18th – GLASGOW Stag & Dagger Festival
You can still purchase Ideas from Fierce Panda and Vinyl Junkie on both CD and vinyl.