Tag Archives: slabdragger

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.

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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: Atragon’s Volume 1

Atragon are a 5-piece, Scottish, doom machine. Their 2 track ‘Volume 1’ EP showcases their love of all things sludge, fuzz and stoner and clocks in at a massive 25 minutes; that’s an awful lot of doom for 2 tracks. Atragon’s sound is immensely thick with a pounding rhythm, a huge, low-end, bass rumble and some funky leads that will appeal to fans of Slabdragger, Limb and Dopefight.

The EP kicks off with ‘The Sound in the Halls’ which plods along relatively slowly with its’ massive, drawn-out riffs and yelled vocals. Unfortunately the song doesn’t do enough to warrant its’ 10 minute length; the pace stays the same throughout and the riffs get a bit lost amongst all that distortion and don’t really sound like they’re doing much. It’s a slow and disappointing start.

Fortunately ‘Jesus Wept’ does a lot more to hold our attention. The pace speeds up dramatically and vocalist Jan Gardner gets to flex his pipes. There’s some great sung parts in this song that gives it a cool, desert-rock edge (think Kyuss). At 14 minutes long ‘Jesus Wept’ also features a great middle eight where the song slows down again to build up to a dramatic crescendo. This brings back the huge, galloping riff from the beginning of the song. It’s a brilliant track and shows Atragon at their best. If the band continue to make their metal in this way then they’re onto a winning combination of doom metal and desert-rock groove.

The EP’s production is adequate at best. This is very simply a vocalist, 2 guitarists, a bassist and a drummer jamming to some sludge. It’s purely functional and there’s no bells and whistles to distinguish this from a simple live recording. However, the mix is exceptional. Each instrument is instantly recognisable and the distortion doesn’t mask the bass which is an all-too-common sin amongst doom metal. The vocals could’ve used a bit of amplification but otherwise everything is clear and you get to appreciate the instrumentation on show.

Atragon are a funny one; they’re clearly aiming for a massive doom metal sound but can get a bit bogged down with repeated riffs and not enough experimentation. When the band do throw a curve-ball into the mix they unearth some truly engaging metal, but until they learn to keep this up they’re going to suffer being a band that people walk out on so they can get a drink.

5/10

Atragon’s ‘Volume 1’ is available to pre-order now from Witch Hunter Records. The EP drops on 14/12/12


News: Desertfest Looks Amazing

Desertfest is a 3 day festival across 3 different venues in Camden and is looking to be one of the highlights for any extreme music fan’s calendar. The festival runs from the 6th to the 8th of April and features bands playing in The Underworld, The Purple Turtle and The Black Heart.

Friday’s headliners include Karma to Burn, Orchid and Asteroid, Saturday features Orange Goblin, Slabdragger and Grifter and Sunday hosts Corrosion of Conformity, Viking Skull and Gorilla.

Newly announced today is the mighty prog-metal beast that is Astrohenge who shouldn’t be missed under any circumstances. We also recommend getting down the front and flying the Union Jack for Dopefight, Trippy Wicked and Dead Existence.

Tickets for the whole weekend can be bought for £70 before all that booking fee/p+p malarky or you can grab day tickets from as low as £26.50


Feature: Labels Worth Caring About

One of the easiest ways of discovering new UK rock and metal talent is to keep track of the people who are distributing the stuff. Keeping an eye on your favourite bands’ record labels can be an incredibly rewarding experience as you not only get the release dates for their upcoming records straight from the horse’s mouth, but you also get introduced to a bunch of similarly minded bands that may just satisfy your headbang craving. Here’s 3 of the UK’s best offerings for music of the loud and distorted variety:

Holy Roar Records

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Holy Roar are a cracking label for the hardcore fan. The label has been consistent in signing up the UK’s best hardcore talent and releasing some great records to boot. There’s an awful lot of focus on packaging their releases in unique ways whether it be with gorgeous vinyl variants (splatter wax ahoy!) or working with companies like AC/DSleeve to make stunning pop-up packaging for releases like the Pariso/Kerouac Split 5” vinyl and credit card CD (yes, this is a real thing). Holy Roar is home to Crocus, Slabdragger, Brontide, Rosa Valle, Last Witness and many more that are all worth your time.

Basick Records
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Basick have grown into the UK’s premiere metal label for everything prog and djent. If you like your tech then Basick have you covered. The label is home to an amazing roster of bands including Chimp Spanner, Aliases, Visions and The Arusha Accord among others. Basick are also partial to a massive sale from time to time so there’s always something tasty going for bargain bin prices in their online store. I would recommend my UK partycore heroes The Abner’s (RIP) Chinoiserie Lounge EP which is currently going for a mere quid.



In At The Deep End Records

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In At The Deep End are probably my favourite UK label for music with balls. They have one of the most diverse band rosters with everything from doom metal to hardcore punk and metalcore littering their store. While they don’t release a lot of records very frequently, when they do it’s always of stunning quality. The Defiled released their debut EP ‘1888’ here, Feed the Rhino released their debut album ‘Mr Red Eye’ here and the mighty Bastions released one of the greatest hardcore albums ever here. The record I’m referring to is ‘Hospital Corners’ and it should be in the collection of any serious extreme music fan.

Show these labels some support and buy some records. Your country needs you!