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.
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.
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.
Cult Cinema have returned with a new focus and the first part in a high concept series of EPs that focus on the loneliness of outer space. Cosmic Horror I is the band’s first EP in over five years and also marks the debut of a brand new line-up that brings some interesting changes to the band’s sound.
While the band’s debut EP Iscariot certainly had some very interesting things going on, it was a little more straightforward in its song structures. That record was heavily entrenched in a darker and more brooding hardcore sound and while that certainly returns on Cosmic Horror I, there’s just a more consistent approach to delivering those ideas in a more effective and cohesive way.
Opener Glass Coffin lurches in with a moody yet glittery shower of guitar that hides the onslaught that’s about to ensue. By far the most hardcore-sounding track on the EP, Glass Coffin is a fast-paced assault that lends its sound more heavily to post hardcore and screamo. This means we get a more varied and textured showing from Cult Cinema that sees them experimenting with progressive song structures, guitar leads and blast beats to great effect. It’s very much akin to the sort of noise bands like Svalbard and Terrible Love are making and it’s a great and natural direction for Cult Cinema to follow.
Closing track Distress Signal takes Cult Cinema’s new found love of varied texture and applies it to a slower and more drawn-out song that brings in a lot of atmosphere to the band’s sound. Distress Signal does an amazing job of sounding like a harrowing and forlorn tale of abandonment complete with an absolutely terrifying and stricken vocal performance.
The only real problem with Cosmic Horror I is that it’s all over far too quickly. Both tracks are such a sumptuous and enticing appetiser that it feels too abrupt when it comes to a close after only two songs. It’s certainly got me excited to hear more from the new and reformed Cult Cinema, but in hindsight it might have been nice if the band just held on a little bit longer and put something together that had a little more to offer.
Regardless, this is a minor quibble with an otherwise fantastic return from one of the UK underground’s best acts. Cosmic Horror I is a bold step forward for Cult Cinema that showcases a sound with an increased scope that has me begging for more. I’m lucky that the band is heading into the studio to record the follow-up next month then, eh?
Cult Cinema’s Cosmic Horror I is out now and available to buy direct from the band’s Bandcamp page.
So-Crates are a new project featuring members of Hold Your Horse Is and Reuben and if that doesn’t get your post hardcore senses tingling then you might need to see a doctor. v1 is the band’s first offering; a pay-what-you-want, 7 track mini album that is bursting with ideas.
The music on v1 is a pretty angular and progressive affair, but always fast and driving. Imagine At the Drive-In wrestling with Billy Talent and you’ll have a good grasp as to what So-Crates are aiming for. Despite the manic, almost nervous energy of the record, So-Crates are surprisingly tuneful with Robin Pearson’s half sung/half spoken vocals still being incredibly striking and unique.
What really adds some wonderful texture is the glittery lead guitar work by Toby Jackson. Despite the songs often being consumed by chunky bass-lines and furious punk rock drumming, the presence of Jackson’s leads means there’s always an earworm melody on display and it makes songs like Paused on a Crossfade really stand out. So-Crates are always mixing a wild and dangerous sound with extremely tuneful and welcoming melodies and it makes v1 a very unique record to listen to.
There is one obvious negative though; music of this energy could do with sounding weightier. The production work on v1 makes it sound more like a jangly indie rock record which seems at odds with how bat-shit crazy the songs are. So-Crates could really benefit from having their drums hit that little bit harder and their riffs need to carry a little more bass. It’s an adjustment that could have really set this record on fire, but it’s something we’ll have to hope the band addresses in future releases.
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.
So-Crates’ v1 is out now and available to download by clicking here.
It’s been a fair old while since we’ve heard from our friends in Cold Summer. Their 2013 self-titled mini-album left us feeling like the band were rushing their material out of the door, but no such criticism can be laid against their new EP Fight to Survive.
The band are still churning out angular, post hardcore anthems, but there’s a confidence on Fight to Survive that really steps things up a notch. From opener Bear Eats Wolf, you can instantly hear how significantly tighter Cold Summer are as a unit and the band don’t drop a note throughout the entirety of the track. We’ve got a seriously powerful performance on the drums, a beautifully constructed series of guitar melodies that burst into sharp, jagged riffs for the choruses and some fantastically memorable and saccharine vocals to top it all off.
Now I know I’ve previously given Cold Summer some grief over relying on songs they’ve had in their repertoire for quite some time, but even though Car Crash (In Progress) and Waiting appear again on this EP, they finally appear in the way they were always meant to. As we’ve previously mentioned, Cold Summer sound so much more confident and accomplished on this EP and that shows clearest on these re-workings. There have been some subtle changes to the structure of these tracks and they’re much more dynamic and infectious as a result. This really is Cold Summer firing on all cylinders.
There’s also been a considerable amount of effort put into this EP’s production. The music sounds considerably brighter than previous releases and it suits the band’s earworm melodies so much better than before. If there’s one complaint to be made about the production, it’s the way the guitar chords often sound like they’re being cut off in certain passages, almost like the guitarist is using a kill-switch. This is extremely obvious on EP closer Something, Nothing, No-one and it’s a peculiar decision that dates the EP, making it sound like an early 2000s nu-metal release in places.
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.
Cold Summer’s Fight to Survive is out now and available to purchase direct from the band.
VINCENT VOCODER VOICE
Full confession from the get-go; I got to the venue late and only caught the last 2 songs of Vincent Vocoder Voice’s set so this won’t be the most insightful opinion on their live show. What I saw of the band showcased an abstract fusion of alt rock and grunge that was purposely played with an unpredictable sloppiness. I’m not sure if this works in their favour as the vocals in particular sounded a bit off key. Regardless, the band are definitely interesting and I’d like to see more of them if I get the opportunity.
TTNG (previously This Town Needs Guns) are a joy to watch if you appreciate musicianship. I was drawn to their drummer for most of their set as the man is an absolute machine on the kit. Their math rock stylings are technically proficient, glittery numbers, but things step up a notch when original vocalist/guitarist Stuart Smith shows up to sing a couple of TTNG classics. There’s an instant step up in energy and the crowd reciprocate with unbridled enthusiasm. TTNG with Stuart Smith are a seriously exciting band which makes the end of their set somewhat bittersweet as Smith leaves the stage for the final song and it simply can’t stand up to what came before.
MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS
No band should be able to come back from an 8 year hiatus and sound this good. Meet Me in St. Louis have reached a near mythical status since their split and listening to their one and only album Variations on Swing in 2016 is still as electric and ground-breaking as it was in 2007. Imagine my surprise when the band appear on stage with suitable pomp and circumstance and absolutely nail every song of their set with ease. The math rock/post hardcore act have some wonderfully complex songs to their name and they perform them with an unbelievable tightness that puts so many other bands to shame. This was an absolutely astounding performance that felt a little too good to be true and the crowd lapped it up. The whole room held onto every word and all I can think about is how much of a shame it is that Meet Me in St. Louis will once again be no more at the end of this tour. We need you, guys.
I think people are going to be very quick to establish Terrible Love as a “super-group” as the band is made up of members of Goodtime Boys, Bastions, Funeral for a Friend, Crocus and Grappler. That’s some incredible pedigree and basically a who’s-who of some of our favourite bands, but sadly they’ve all split up or gone on hiatus making Terrible Love a very natural progression that echoes the way a lot of bands start life. No established band is ever anyone’s first band and the experience that each member brings to the table makes Terrible Love’s debut EP Change Nothing an incredibly accomplished first drop.
What’s immediately noticeable is that Terrible Love actually sound like a band made up of its component parts. It’s strange but expectations that come from such well known and recognisable bands immediately put ideas as to what they should sound like in your head, but most projects of this calibre don’t realise themselves in the way you expect. Terrible Love are the exception to the rule. This is heart-on-sleeve, emotive yet aggressive post hardcore that is equal parts memorable, interesting, biting and beautifully constructed.
The title track perfectly encapsulates what the band are about and it’s difficult to not want to instantly bang your head to the wonderfully bouncy, twangy guitar riffs. The vocal delivery is an intriguing spoken word approach that’s yelled in a similar fashion to Goodtime Boys themselves. It’s by no means free-form and definitely matches the beats of the songs but it makes Terrible Love sound vitriolic and heartfelt which is perfect for this type of post hardcore.
Change Nothing is a strikingly well-structured EP that ebbs and flows between fast-paced, punk-rock bangers like Mt. Misery and more delicate, glittery numbers like They Need You. It moves in such a natural and satisfying way that it’s incredibly difficult to find fault with the song-writing, and when it all comes together on songs like Stone in Me then it’s absolutely electrifying.
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.
Terrible Love’s Change Nothing is out now and available on 12″ vinyl through Big Scary Monsters.