Tag Archives: rock

Review: Simmer’s Paper Prisms

simmer-paper-prisms-packshot

Glittery emo quintet Simmer have returned with their debut album entitled Paper Prisms. Simmer previously impressed us with their 2015 EP Yellow Streak; a beautiful and delicate yet sharp and biting rock record that showcased an extremely accomplished sound for such a young band. Personal anticipation was high for this record, so do Simmer deliver the goods when they move onto their first long-player?

Sort of. This is clearly the same band that wowed us last year, but there’s something about Paper Prisms that feels like a band trying to spread their ideas too thin. The setup is identical to Yellow Streak; we get beautiful, sweeping guitar melodies complimented with sombre, lilting vocals and it’s all accompanied with a punchy performance on the drums. The one/two opener of Faze and Control is a perfect beginning to the record and it showcases all these elements beautifully.

However, what becomes apparent very early on is just how much time is spent on overindulgent moments of guitar feedback. Every song seems to start with a big wailing burst of feedback and in the case of some songs like Antwerp, they even linger to a limp conclusion using even more feedback. Simmer are clearly trying to create atmosphere on Paper Prisms and the guitar feedback is never abrasive or obnoxious in anyway, it just feels like it takes away from the immediacy of the song-writing. Songs like Calendar don’t kick in until half the track’s run time has gone by and it’s a bit annoying that so much time is spent holding a guitar to an amp.

It’s also a shame that the vocals often get lost in the mix. The vocals on Paper Prisms are often treated more like an instrument and they’ve been hidden away in the composition to the point that you can’t really make out what’s being said. It’s not the biggest problem because thankfully the gorgeous melodies are still audible; it just would have been nicer to have heard the vocals front and centre.

Simmer’s Paper Prisms is by no means a bad record by any stretch of the imagination. This is still a wonderfully light and dreamy emo record and as a debut album it certainly sets the band up with a great foundation to build on. Sadly it’s let down by a lot unnecessarily drawn-out moments of guitar feedback that have a tendency to kill the pacing. It Simmer can tighten up their song-writing and think of ways to meld the extra texture into the songs themselves, then their next release should be something really special.

7/10

Simmer’s Paper Prisms is out now and available to buy from Dog Knights Productions.

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Live Review: Sludgefeast, Old Forest and BiT at The Brixton Windmill 20/9/2016

BIT
bit

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
oldforest

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.

SLUDGEFEAST
sludgefeast

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.


Live Review: earthtone9 and Dorje at The Camden Underworld 9/9/16

DORJE
dorje

It becomes instantly apparent why Dorje have been chosen as main support for this earthtone9 show. The band deal in the same sort of groovy proginess that earthtone9 do, but there’s more of a focus on melodic rock rather than punishing heaviness. Dorje have a really robust and well-rehearsed sound that often reminds us of Coheed and Cambria and they play an extremely tight set that warms up the audience well. The only real negative I noticed is that the band are a little static in their performance, but thankfully they make up for this by being extremely accomplished song-writers. That Rob Chapman also has a powerful set of lungs on him.

EARTHTONE9
earthtone9

Playing a career-spanning set that includes songs from every single earthtone9 release to date, this is an incredibly special performance from the underappreciated alt metal giants. It’s really quite rare to see earthtone9 on the stage again, but here they are 20 years since they first started. What’s really quite impressive is how varied earthtone9’s music is. We move from the weirdo progressive metal leanings of their first two albums to the more streamlined, almost Deftones-esque alt metal of arc’tan’gent and then we also get the more melodic rock stylings of Amnesia from the omega EP and then we’re right up to date with the groovy, Mastodon-esque sound of For Cause and Consequence and IV. What’s really striking is just how monstrous earthtone9’s early material sounds thanks to the wonderfully robust sound at the Underworld. I couldn’t help but think how good a modern remaster of lo-def(inition) discord would sound like if it had this sort of power. earthtone9 put on a legendary performance that does their amazing back catalogue justice and I really hope we continue to see more music from them because they really are one of the UK heavy music scene’s most precious treasures.


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

GRIEVING
grieving

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
so-crates

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
cassels

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.


Review: Temple of Lies’ From Sand

COVER ARTWORK

Leicester groove metallers Temple of Lies return with their sophomore effort, From Sand. Anyone who’s caught Temple of Lies’ live show will understand how utterly electric this band are and their bluesy riffs command some serious attention. But how well does Temple of Lies’ live sound transfer the mighty to long-player?

Sadly, From Sand is a little underwhelming. While it’s often obvious that Temple of Lies’ song-writing carries their music much better than their producer does, From Sand is a bit undercooked when you consider how devastatingly weighty the band’s live show is.

Album highlights like Bats and Fire in the Hole shine bright on an album that is extremely lacking in power. These tracks in particular are loaded with riffs to bang your head to and the bare-bones job done on the mix (that’s also thoroughly lacking in bass) can’t spoil these perfectly constructed slabs of rock. Unfortunately, you’ll still wonder how massive these songs could have sounded with the right person at the mixing desk.

That becomes the recurring thought while listening to From Sand. Songs like Rope and MoM are perfectly serviceable bursts of riff-laden blues rock that showcase Jon Scranney’s amazing guitar work, but they sound so flat that it’s difficult to get excited.

The other disappointment comes with Si Shaw’s lyricism. This is a real shame when you consider how much of a character Shaw is. When the man performs live his face is always plastered with a crazed grin and wide eyes and his barked vocal style is extremely commanding. However, when he sings stuff like, “you won’t even swallow” without a hint of irony and throws in references to crystal meth simply because he’s been singing about crystal balls, you realise that Shaw is a bit of a lazy lyricist. He writes lyrics that he thinks sound cool but they’re so overloaded with metal clichés that they become somewhat laughable.

Despite all of this, there’s a decent groove metal record hidden amongst the bad decisions. In the right hands, Temple of Lies’ From Sand could have sounded like the lovechild of Panic Cell and Clutch, and while the band’s song-writing often comes close to those lofty goals, the flat and lifeless audio mix drags this album into the dirt. Hopefully Temple of Lies can produce a follow-up that lives up to the potential created by their amazing live show.

6/10

Temple of Lies’ From Sand is out now and available to buy from all good digital music outlets.


Live Review: Man with a Mission at the O2 Academy Islington 4/7/16

RORY INDIANA
roryindiana

Brighton’s Rory Indiana make satisfyingly bouncy, riff-heavy alt rock in the style of Marmozets and Press to Meco. The band deal in a very angular, unpredictable noise that presses my buttons in exactly the way I like and they put on a captivating show that puts the band’s musicianship front and centre. This is an incredibly strong start to the evening’s entertainment and Rory Indiana manage to show an unfamiliar crowd they have the chops to support a band as well-loved as Man with a Mission and keep everyone absolutely enthralled. I’m very much looking forward to seeing where life takes these boys in the future.

MAN WITH A MISSION
manwithamission

I feel like we’ve reached peak gimmick when I watch Man with a Mission walk on stage. 5 guys wearing big, fluffy, wolf heads with light-up eyes and another guy in a kabuki mask is quite the sight and it never really gets any easier to take in how utterly stupid their image is. It’s an enjoyable stupid, though. Regardless, Man with a Mission manage to put on a bloody great show. Sounding like a fusion of Rage against the Machine, Skindred and Sum 41, Man with a Mission deal in the sort of rock that gets played on the radio all day long and the audience hang onto every note. Man with a Mission offer up a multitude of huge riffs and choruses to get your rocks off to, but sadly their mix on the night betrays them ever so slightly. Their turntablist often buries their guitars under a sequence of electronic bleeps and bloops which is a real shame because when the guitars are given room to breathe, they carry a serious amount of groove. Their only major miss-step comes in the form of set-closer Raise Your Flag which has a chorus that sounds as wonky live as it does on record. Man with a Mission are certainly a band who grab your attention and their showing tonight was definitely host to more highs than lows, but I feel like a better audio mix would have really made them shine tonight.


Music Video: Press to Meco’s Autopsy

presstomeco

Here, we bloody love Press to Meco. We thought their debut album Good Intent was one of the best records of last year and it’s good to see the lads are still promoting it well. The latest track from the record to get the music video treatment is the rather dreamy, post hardcore anthem, Autopsy. Check out the incredible and bizarrely trippy animated music video below; you won’t regret it:

Autopsy comes off Press to Meco’s Good Intent, which is out now and available to buy direct from the band.


News: Motörhead’s Lemmy Dies at 70

lemmy

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: Samoans’ and Freeze the Atlantic’s Split EP

samoansfta

Samoans and Freeze the Atlantic have seen fit to produce a split EP to accompany their October tour. Both bands have produced a new song and a cover of one of each other’s songs in the BYO Split Series mould.

SAMOANS

Samoans have a wonderfully diverse offering on this split. Opener Wrong Cops sees the band exploring alt rock territories with comparisons to Transmit Disrupt-era Hell is for Heroes coming to mind. It’s a wonderfully dreamy bit of rock music that’s big on noodly guitar work and it’s drenched in Daniel Barnett’s soaring vocal melodies.

Then we approach Samoans cover which is something pretty special indeed. A take on Freeze the Atlantic’s Stompbox, Samoans strip the song back to its bones and concentrate on that wonderful riff that kicks the whole thing into gear. Instead of being the high-paced rocker that it took in its original form, Samoans’ version of Stompbox slows the riff down and amps up the distortion to give the whole thing a Deftones vibe that reminds us of Minerva. Stompbox now plods along with an Earth-shattering groove that Samoans are so fond of incorporating.

This is extremely strong stuff from Samoans that further cements their more considered post rock approach that the band implemented on their previous record. Samoans deal in large-scale, floaty melodies that are punctuated with dirty great walls of distortion and it’s still an absolute joy to listen to.

8/10

FREEZE THE ATLANTIC

Freeze the Atlantic have had a pretty rocky start to their career and they’re already on their third vocalist. While we were previously left a bit hollow by Liv Puente’s performance on their previous self-titled record, Puente has hit his stride on new song The Floor is Made of Lava. This is a far moodier and more musically interesting offering from the band that doesn’t follow the standard hard rock structures they’ve previously explored. This is more like a post hardcore song and it reminds us of bands like Radio Alcatraz. This is creatively a big step up for Freeze the Atlantic and we completely welcome it.

Now we approach Freeze the Atlantic’s cover. What’s interesting with this song is they actually opt to make Samoans’ I Am Your Density more approachable by changing the structure to something that flows more like a traditional rock song. This is quite a nice trade-off between the two bands that showcases exactly what they both do so well. Freeze the Atlantic do a fantastic job of making this their own and see fit to add a massive riff that will get the crowds jumping.

Freeze the Atlantic have definitely improved dramatically as song-writers and thanks to a stronger vocal performance from Puente it feels like all the pieces have finally fallen into the right places. I personally cannot wait to see what the band deliver on their next long-player.

9/10

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.

Samoans and Freeze the Atlantic’s split EP is out now and can be bought directly from either band.


Review: Let’s Talk Daggers’ A Beautiful Life

letstalkdaggers

Let’s Talk Daggers deal in a special blend of heaviness we like to call weirdcore. Hopefully it’ll catch on. It’s not quite post hardcore, not quite mathcore, not quite indie rock; it’s a bit of them all. Weirdcore. It’s also ridiculously exciting to listen to and after a long 2 year gap between mini-album Fantastic Contraption back in the March of 2013, it’s still as fresh and unpredictable as ever on Let’s Talk Daggers’ debut album A Beautiful Life.

If you’re not familiar with the band’s musical stylings then allow me to explain what the structure of a single Let’s Talk Daggers song is like: there is no structure. The band throws as many riffs, hooks and melodies they can at a single song and manage to piece it together in a way that actually manages to work. Think The Blood Brothers, At the Drive-In and Battle for Paris all blended into the craziest guitar super-group you can imagine and you’ll have an idea as to the chaos contained within A Beautiful Life.

As if the music couldn’t get even more erratic, there’s even a brass element that comes into play on songs like I Love You Dad, But I’m Mental and 3D Rug that adds yet another layer of complexity to the proceedings. A Beautiful Life is an album that is unforgiving in its density and if you’re new to the band then you might find the first listen to be a bit overwhelming. However, repeated listens reveal a band at the very top of their game and the sheer amount of memorable riffs on offer is a testament to Let’s Talk Daggers excellent song-writing.

As the album progresses, the band also manages to blend their noisier more erratic moments with a more laid back, indie rock vibe. Songs like the title track and Clutchendials have a wonderful quiet/loud dynamic to them that shows yet another layer of complexity to the music but without the impervious onslaught of technicality that comes with songs like Carvery Vibes.

Regardless, Let’s Talk Daggers have made one of the most electric rock albums of the year. If you can appreciate guitar music that doesn’t sacrifice technicality for song-writing then Let’s Talk Daggers have delivered a record that does just that and even more. A Beautiful Life is an absolute tidal wave of riffs, tempo changes and yelping and despite the madness of its contents, Let’s Talk Daggers have brought it all together into one cohesive yet exhausting piece.

8/10

Let’s Talk Daggers’ A Beautiful Life is out now on digital download direct from the band or limited edition yellow vinyl from Tangled Talk Records.