Tag Archives: punk

Review: Barrabus’ Barrabus

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.

8/10

Barrabus’ self-titled debut album is out now and available to buy through Undergroove Records.


Year End: The 10 Best Albums of 2016

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10) Raging Speedhorn

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

9) Aliases – Derangeable

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

Click here for the full review.

8) Rash Decision – Headstrung

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

Click here for the full review.

7) Karybdis – Samsara

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

Click here for the full review.

6) Iron Witch – A Harrowed Dawn

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

Click here for the full review.

5) Let It Die – The Liar & the Saint

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

4) The Infernal Sea – The Great Mortality

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

Click here for the full review.

3) Sunwølf – Eve

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

Click here for the full review.

2) Wode – Wode

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

Click here for the full review.

1) Slabdragger – Rise of the Dawncrusher

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

Click here for the full review.


Year End: The 10 Best EPs of 2016

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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.


Year End: The 5 Best Splits of 2016

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5) Temple Steps/Wreck

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A massive, lurching doom behemoth from Lincoln’s Temple Steps and Germany’s Wreck, this split highlights two young talents who are making a captivating low-tempo racket. While Temple Steps prefer the long form, almost funeral doom approach to song structures, Wreck have a real sludgy guitar tone and some really creative riffs that make their tracks a little more interesting. The production is a little rough round the edges, but it’ll be fascinating to watch both bands grow on their next releases.

4) God Mother/Artemis

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Sweden’s God Mother teamed up with Basingstoke’s Artemis for their final release (another great band taken by the onslaught of 2016) and it’s a bittersweet effort as Artemis put forward 2 of their best songs. Both bands fit into the same metallic hardcore mold with extremely progressive song structures that focus on speed and aggression. Fans of hardcore are serviced well by this 7”.

3) Szyslak/Misgivings

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This double-dose of pop punk from the two fresh faces of Brighton’s Szyslak and Portsmouth’s Misgivings offers up 4 tracks of no-nonsense, hooky punk-rock for fans of Gnarwolves. It’s great to hear more pop punk cropping up with a little more bite than the usual sugary, hyper-polished efforts by a lot of the big name bands like Blink-182 and Green Day so if you enjoy massive sing-a-long choruses but like your punk with a bit of dirt then you can do no wrong with this split.

2) Harrowed/Art of Burning Water

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“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.”

“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.”

Click here to read the full review.

1) Gurt/Trippy Wicked – Guppy

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Seeing as how Gurt and Trippy Wicked now share a drummer, it made perfect sense for the sludge metallers to team up for a split and the result is nothing short of excellent. Gurt are on form once again with their special blend of sludge and hardcore that makes for a suitably unpredictable yet surprisingly memorable couple of songs, but it’s Trippy Wicked that really shine. Their first new material in 3 years, this is easily the best the band has sounded. There’s real depth to their bluesy sound now and the production finally makes them sound as massive as they do live. Let’s not forget the wonderfully daft cover of T. Rex’s Children of the Revolution which sees members from both bands team up to create a truly “revolting” version of the rock classic.


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.


Live Review: Cassels, So-Crates and Grieving Live at The Old Blue Last 15/8/16

GRIEVING
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Grieving are a very new band with a single EP under their belt. Their twangy, angular emo is reminiscent of bands like American Football and Joyce Manor. After a nervous start they quickly prove that they’re a very accomplished and tight act, and their drummer was supposedly pretty ill throughout so huge respect to that guy for absolutely nailing it. On the whole, the band looks like they’re having a blast and seem very humbled to be playing to this audience. Grieving are definitely a band you’re going to want to keep on your radar because if this performance is any indication, they will be going onto bigger and better things very quickly.

SO-CRATES
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If you aren’t aware, So-Crates are a new band featuring members of Hold Your Horse Is and Reuben and that’s a bloody exciting combination on its own. The band deal in an unpredictably, mathy post-punk which is nothing short of exciting when performed live. Their music twists and turns on a dime with aggressive drum-work, angular guitar melodies, chunky bass grooves and some surprisingly dreamy guitar leads. While it’s still early days for So-Crates, you can see that past experiences have allowed these guys to burst out the gates with some truly accomplished music and make it all look easy.

CASSELS
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Grunge-punk duo Cassels are something really special. Sounding like a mix of God Damn and Eugene Quell, the two lads on stage make the sort of music that song-writers twice their age would be proud of. The word is clearly out on Cassels because they fill The Old Blue Last, and on a Monday night no less. The duo has a massive sound considering their limitations and they put on a friendly and engaging performance that sees everyone in the room hanging onto every note. Cassels love that quiet/loud dynamic and it was strangely weird to hear a crowd at The Old Blue Last be so quiet when the music became more introspective. Cassels are genuinely fascinating to watch and are definitely a band you’ll want to see as soon as possible because they won’t be playing venues this small for very long.


Total Rock: Catbird’s Sunday Roasting 17/1/2016

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On Sunday the 17th of January 2016 we finally returned to Total Rock to appear on Catbird’s Sunday Roasting! If you missed our appearance on the show then you can click below to listen to the podcast on MixCloud. Here’s a list of our picks and the time-stamps for each song are listed beside them:

11:59 – SikTh – Philistine Philosophies
42:18 – Boxkite – Cycles
50:29 – TORPOR – As Waves Crash
1:04:23 – Gnarwolves – Boneyard
1:14:25 – I, The Lion – Hold Strong
1:20:21 – Eulogy – Deaf Cult
1:44:17 – Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters – Chopsticks and Bad Meatballs
1:50:20 – Iced Out – Man’s Ruin
1:53:58 – TEEF – Consumed
1:56:25 – Samoans – Stompbox
2:05:06 – Mage – One for the Road


Year End: The Best 5 Splits of 2015

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5) Nomadic Rituals/Tome

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“This 14 minute behemoth entitled The Great Dying begins with a gentle, low-end rumble and then unleashes a horrendous, down-tuned chord that could shake a building to its foundation.”

“Clocking in at 11 minutes, Tome deal in a similar, funeral-doom-esque march but their riffs are more memorable in comparison to Nomadic Rituals who use their guitars to build atmosphere.”

Click here to read the full review.

4) Yards/Astrid Lindgren/Rites/We Are Dust

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This is an extremely diverse offering of various punk subgenres. Smithsfoodgroup and LTD Records managed to band together UK hardcore punk mob Yards, Polish screamo merchants Astrid Lindgren, Netherlands emo outfit Rites and German metallic hardcore bruisers We Are Dust for this hugely eclectic but shouty offering. Special mention has to be given to Yards who manage to sound more furious than ever.

Full review coming soon.

3) Oi Polloi/Grand Collapse

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What we have here is a double-dose of lairy punk from oiky punk stalwarts Oi Polloi and Scumscene favourites Grand Collapse. While Oi Polloi get straight to the point and generally put together songs that have more memorable hooks (e.g. GCHQFU), Grand Collapse continue to tear a seriously aggressive streak through the UK underground punk scene and songs like Turn Coat are an absolutely vicious riff attack.

Full review coming soon.

2) Samoans/Freeze the Atlantic

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“This split from Samoans and Freeze the Atlantic is a great bit of fun that showcases both bands at the very top of their game. Fans of heavy rock music are given an incredibly diverse display of alt rock, post rock and post hardcore that manages to meld together in a strangely cohesive package.”

Click here to read the full review.

1) Irk/Wren

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What an absolutely electric offering this split is. Irk continue to blow us away with their groove-laden blend of tech metal and noise rock. There is simply nothing as satisfyingly unique as Irk and you have to make sure you’re exposed to their music right away. London doomsters Wren also put together a hearty selection of doom anthems that encapsulate the bleak feeling of loneliness. This is extremely dark and brooding metal that is perfectly executed. This is an essential split for fans of heavy music.

Full review coming soon.

Notable Mentions
Bastions/Burning Bright – Swan Songs
Employed to Serve/A Ghost Orchestra


News: Motörhead’s Lemmy Dies at 70

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This is it guys. Probably the most influential figure in British heavy music has passed away.

Motörhead’s Ian Fraser Kilmister, known to the world largely as Lemmy, has died “after a short battle with an extremely aggressive cancer”. There’s hardly anything that can be said about Lemmy that hasn’t already been said. Motörhead are probably one of the most important bands in heavy music and they cross-over rock, punk and thrash better than any band. Everyone is influenced by Motörhead.

Lemmy leaves behind a fantastic legacy. Lemmy appeared on 3 Hawkwind albums before starting Motörhead who leave behind a ridiculously huge back-catalogue of 22 albums. Lemmy was the only consistent member of the band but Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee have been apart of Motörhead since 1984 and 1992 respectively, becoming the longest serving guitarists and drummers that Motörhead ever had.

Rest in peace Lemmy; you’re earned it.


Review: Boxkite’s Boxkite

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Plymouth-based hardcore act Boxkite harken back to the short-lived #UKSwell scene that encompassed bands like Bastions, Crocus, Pariso and Kerouac and like said bands, they have a wonderfully emotive approach to hardcore punk that ebbs and flows through passages of flat-out aggression and more introspective moments of respite.

In true punk fashion, Boxkite’s debut self-titled EP is over and done in 6 minutes which means that Boxkite deal in a dense yet visceral type of hardcore that grabs you by the throat and shakes you until you pass out. Opener Struggles begins with a devastating blast-beat that quickly establishes the no-nonsense approach to music that the band deals in.

Boxkite aren’t exactly breaking the mould on this record but fans of hardcore punk will still be treated to one of the most perfectly crafted punk EPs this year. What Boxkite do so well is temper their nasty, crushing riffs and snotty yelling with passages where they let the bass guitar ring out. Cycles and Red Skies are great examples of this; the bass is often used to drench the song in a nice bit of gloomy atmosphere before the band unleashes another ball-busting riff. It’s a simple trick that keeps the record diverse and makes the aggression even more impactful.

What really impresses is the wonderful clarity. No single element of the sound is lost in this mix; the guitar sound is more like traditional punk rather than the HM-2 hardcore that’s become so popular nowadays. The bass cuts through the action with a wonderfully dirty twang, the drums smack you straight in the chest with each snare and bass drum hit and despite the lairy, yelled nature of the vocals, you can actually understand the lyrics.

Boxkite have burst out the gates with a hardcore debut that doesn’t mess about. This is 6 tracks of solid, bouncy yet strangely forlorn punk that leaves a serious mark. Anyone looking for the next great UK hardcore band might want to seriously consider grabbing Boxkite’s debut EP while it’s hot; you won’t regret it.

8/10

Boxkite’s debut self-titled EP is out now and available to download direct for the band or buy on red or black vinyl through Tangled Talk Records or Boslevan Records.