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Year End 2017: Best Albums Part 1

No rankings this year; just a load of heavy records from UK bands and artists that I’ve enjoyed and think are worthy of your time. Please enjoy and have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Lewis xxx

Enter Shikari – The Spark

While The Spark features Enter Shikari at their most laid back and inoffensive, it also showcases how wonderful their song-writing can be when their focus has shifted towards a more positive attitude. For fans of the band’s previous fusion of techno and hardcore, you’re probably not going to find much to hold your attention, but if you’ve stuck with the band throughout their evolution then you’ll be rewarded with a record stuffed full of stadium-sized anthems, tongue-in-cheek metaphors and a generally positive atmosphere that will lift your spirits. Enter Shikari continue to be one of the most exciting bands in UK rock.

Employed to Serve – The Warmth of a Dying Sun

How have Employed to Serve only been a band for five years and amassed such an enormous discography already? On their second long-player, the band show so much confidence that you’d be mistaken for thinking they’ve been together for over a decade. This is one of the greatest metallic hardcore sophomores to come out for quite some time and it’s structured in a way that allows it to ebb and flow between moments of unbridled, hardcore fury and long-form, lurching grooves. One of the most accomplished metallic hardcore albums to come from these shores and an absolutely essential listen for fans of heavy music.

Grand Collapse – Along the Dew

Grand Collapse continue to hold nothing back on their sophomore album Along the Dew. This is a flat out, thrashy, monster of a punk rock album with heart-on-sleeve, politically charged lyrics that never sound false or pretentious. The fact that Grand Collapse have made it to a 2nd album and aren’t one of the biggest punk bands in the country is quite frankly ridiculous. We should be rallying behind bands like this. Grand Collapse care and so should you.

Darko – Bonsai Mammoth

Sitting in a similar space to bands like Gnarwolves, Darko’s debut album Bonsai Mammoth is stuffed with no-nonsense, sing-a-long, punk rock anthems that demand your attention. There’s so much energy and confidence in here that you can’t help but be reminded of so many classic punk rock debuts that this deserves a space next to. Debuts like this are wonderfully refreshing because you’re reminded of how much unfound talent is lurking around the UK’s indie circuits.

Monolithian – The Waning Moon

“The Waning Moon is a hugely successful burst of down-tempo aggression that sees Monolithian drawing on even more varied influences to great effect. It’s been hugely engrossing watching this band go from strength to strength on every release and if The Waning Moon is anything to go by then Monolithian’s next long-player will be an essential doom purchase.”

Click here to read the full review.

OHHMS – The Fool

OHHMS’ debut album The Fool is a real turning point for the band because it finally sounds as big and engaging as their live show. While their previous 2 EPs weren’t exactly bad, they didn’t really capture what it’s like to see them live, which is an experience unto itself. The Fool is a wonderful sludge metal release that keeps you on your toes. Songs twist and turn with wild abandon and despite being mainly a low tempo stomper, there’s enough moments of visceral punk rock and psychedelia in here to highlight how bizarre and unique OHHMS really are. An essential listen.

Helpless – Debt

“Helpless’ Debt is an extremely dense and unrelenting record that makes no apologies for being ridiculously heavy. Helpless use some extremely creative guitar work to create a dark and isolated atmosphere to make an absolute racket in. It may not be the most nuanced long-player you’ll hear, but it certainly delivers one of the most powerful and devastating heavy music experiences of 2017. Lord knows Helpless have a serious task ahead of them if they want to best this record with their next release.”

Click here to read the full review.

Yards – Excitation Thresholds

“Yards’ Excitation Thresholds is an instant recommendation. If you want to hear a passionate, exciting hardcore band putting all their cards on the table and never putting a foot wrong then this is the album for you. Sure, it’s over pretty quickly, but any more time spent with music this visceral would be exhausting. It’s the perfect length for one of the most diverse and relentlessly savage debut albums in recent memory.”

Click here to read the full review.

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Review: Yards’ Excitation Thresholds

It’s been a long time coming but the debut long-player from Yards is finally here. Excitation Thresholds is a 33 minute metallic hardcore assault that noticeably benefits from the amount of time Yards have had to perfect their craft. Everything on this album is here for a reason and it never outstays its welcome.

Despite being a shouty, aggressive hardcore act, Yards have a lot of strings to their bow. During the first half of the album we see the band getting straight to the point and absolutely blasting our faces off with massive riffs, terrifying vocals and one of the thrashiest, loudest drumming performances put to record. The drums in particular are always front and centre in the mix and they really heighten the ferocity of the music on Excitation Thresholds.

But then Yards start to do something different. The tempo slows down a notch and favours a more mid-paced, stompy approach to heaviness that’s just as effective as when the band are going full steam. The album likes to jump between the two styles and it keeps the record fresh and exciting with every song. For example, the no-nonsense hardcore attack of War Tourist is followed by the mid-paced, chunky assault of Everything You Love Reduced to Rubble. This happens again with The Attic, which despite being 4 minutes long and crammed full of ideas, manages to go flat out for its entire run time. Then we get BL-755 which is an extremely bleak and oppressive track that deals more in atmosphere than savagery.

Yards manage to showcase some extremely diverse song-writing for a band that are this unashamedly aggressive. By the time we get to album closer The Shadow Stealer, we get to experience a song that encapsulates all the ideas that came before it in one mammoth 7 and a half minute beast. It’s fast, it’s dark, it’s atmospheric, it’s punishing. It’s everything Yards stand for and a career highlight for one of the most exciting bands in hardcore right now.

Yards’ Excitation Thresholds is an instant recommendation. If you want to hear a passionate, exciting hardcore band putting all their cards on the table and never putting a foot wrong then this is the album for you. Sure, it’s over pretty quickly, but any more time spent with music this visceral would be exhausting. It’s the perfect length for one of the most diverse and relentlessly savage debut albums in recent memory.

9/10

Yards’ Excitation Thresholds is out now and available to buy on vinyl from Truthseeker Music.


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: Mammoth New Pay-What-You-Want Sampler from Smithsfoodgroup Available Now

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Our friends at Smithsfoodgroup have curated an enormous 57 song sampler which you can stream and download below.

This pay-what-you-want sampler features music from Scumscene favourites Venom Prison, Svalbard, Old Skin, Ithaca, Employed to Serve, Artemis, Rolo Tomassi, Eulogy, OHHMS, Oblivionized, Yards and many, many more. This is an absolutely essential download for fans of heavy music that we cannot recommend enough. Hop to it:


Year End: The Top 10 Best EPs of 2014

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10) Yards – EP2

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Yards completed their double EP release with the thrashy, hardcore punk lunacy of EP2. The record is a wonderfully visceral streak of aggression that puts together an album’s worth of riffs and rams them all into four blistering hardcore anthems. This is a great hardcore release that is only improved by playing it with its sister record.

9) Pure Graft – Casual Labour

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Newcastle’s Pure Graft make an elaborate noise that is extremely difficult to pigeon-hole. The band play melodic punk rock but their compositions are beautifully progressive. If you think Alkaline Trio by way of At the Drive-In then you’ll get a good idea as to how wonderfully bizarre this all is. Casual Labour is loaded with sing-a-long melodies and angular guitar riffs which make this release a wonderful breath of fresh air.

8) Jackals – Violence Is…

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Jackals are not the sort of band who mess around with things like nuance. The band’s latest EP Violence Is… is a hardcore punk EP that has no ulterior motive other than to bombard the listener with screaming, thunderous riffs and drumming that waits for no man. This is a frantic and unashamedly loud release from one of the purest hardcore punk bands this country has to offer.

7) Iced Out – Jukai

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What we said:

“Once again Iced Out manage to bottle pure fury and put it on record. The shift in atmosphere that is brought about by the slower-paced songs suits the oppressive nature of the band’s music perfectly and creates some absolutely crushing anthems of despair. Iced Out have proven that there’s more to this band than straight-forward hardcore and ‘Jukai’ marks a huge evolution for them. If you get a chance to see the band perform this material in a live environment then make sure to wear a neck brace because with riffs this big you might do yourself some serious damage.”

Read the full review by clicking here.

6) Employed to Serve – Change Nothing, Regret Everything

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What we said:

“Employed to Serve are on top of their game and continue to be one of the most exciting bands in the UK right now. Their sound continues to evolve into a much larger, more technical beast and the band know how to maximise on huge riffs and interesting song structures to keep their audience engaged whilst smashing their faces through their nearest wall. This is an intense and fairly progressive record that deserves a place in your record collection.”

Read the full review by clicking here.

5) Cholera – Plagiarised Hope

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What we said:

“So Cholera aren’t particularly original but so what? ‘Plagiarised Hope’ is an absolutely stunning 7” that takes all the best parts of modern hardcore and delivers an immensely satisfying slab of chaos. If you have any interest in the genre then Cholera make an excellent starting point and ‘Plagiarised Hope’ showcases a hugely accomplished sound that highlights the best parts of the scene. Cholera have never sounded so strong.”

Read the full review by clicking here.

4) Actions & Consequence – Moving On

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Moving On by Actions & Consequence had a bizarre effect on me. Growing up in the nineties lead to a punk rock discovery that only occurred late into the decade and Actions & Consequence brought back memories of all those initial discoveries with full force. If you ever cared about the early careers of bands like The Offspring, Bad Religion and AFI then Actions & Consequence might just become your new favourite band. They’ve certainly become one of mine.

3) Megalodoom – Tectonic Oblivion

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What we said:

“Megalodoom’s Tectonic Oblivion is a thunderous beast of an EP that manages to escape the potential boredom that their lack of vocals could have caused. The band have put together a hugely satisfying selection of riffs and melodies that tie together beautifully and create a behemoth of an EP that doom fans should be clawing over themselves to own.”

Read the full review by clicking here.

2) Cactus&Cardigan – Highland Bastards

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What we said:

“Cactus&Cardigan have put together an alternative rock/metal release that is never short on riffs. The songs are all enormous, groove-laden affairs that deserve to be heard outside of the band’s native Scotland. Heavy music needs bands like Cactus&Cardigan to remind us that heavy music doesn’t need to be overly technical to provide a satisfying impact and Highland Bastards is one of the best examples of this mantra we can think of.”

Read the full review by clicking here.

1) Irk – Bread and Honey

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What we said:

“The only real negative I can throw at this EP is it’s all over in 10 minutes and quite frankly I need more. Irk have whet my appetite for more rollicking, mathcore lunacy and that’s a pretty good indication as to how good Bread and Honey is. You’d be a fool not to give Irk at least 10 minutes of your time. It might be the best 10 minutes you’ve had with heavy music this year.”

Read the full review by clicking here.