Tuesday, June 28, 2022

SURPRISE! MULTICULT AND CHILD BITE SPLIT 12" OUT NOW!

 


SURPRISE!  No pre-order, no waiting, no ‘unexpected delays’, this is out right now.

A record nearly three years in the making, numerous hindrances kept this a hard secret to keep. But here it is in all its weird glory.
Witness the pairing of these two beasts of bands.

Multicult- calling Baltimore home and laying down three incomprehensible slices of skronky guitar noodling, bass tone perfection via deft musicianship, and spring-loaded percussion.

Child Bite- motor city maniacs adding a trio of tracks to their already prolific output the group emerges from hibernation to inform you all that you are, in fact, a human popsicle. Guest drumming on these songs by the one and only Urian Hackney (The Armed, Rough Francis, Converge).

 

This is a one-time pressing limited to 300 copies so get on it. The record features screenprinted covers courtesy of Sean Clancy and Shawn Knight (of Child Bite) at EMP.  It’s in our bandcamp store right now, and in the band’s individual stores, and up on all streaming services too as of 7/1/2022.

 

Child Bite will also have their copies on sale for their short trek with Psychic Graveyard going on now:

6/29 – Chicago, IL @ Subterranean

6/30 – Youngstown, OH @ Westside Bowl

7/1 – MontrĂ©al, QC @ l'Escogriffe Bar Spectacle

7/2 – Toronto, ON @ The Baby G

7/3 – Ferndale, MI @ The Loving Touch (record release show)

 

GET A COPY OF THE RECORD NOW HERE.

Monday, June 27, 2022

A NEW ISSUE OF TRANSLATE ZINE!

 

Another issue of the publish-when-I-feel-like-it zine TRANSLATE is now available! This one came together pretty quick, complete with smears, imperfections, typos and I'm totally OK with it. Still made a cool linocut cover and some of the features within this issue include interviews with Truth Cult, Mums, and artist Caroline Harrison. Also, a thorough run through of my favorite vegan donuts across this big country and a weekend trip through the Northwest to see Pinko on tour. 

Grab a copy HERE




Tuesday, June 21, 2022

FIRST SINGLE FROM WIPES LP IS UP NOW. CHECK OUT "SUMMER"!


 It's the first day of Summer so why not check out the song "Summer" from the debut LP "Making Friends" from Allentown, PA's WIPES.

It's a little too early for a pre-order just yet (the record will be out in the Fall), so this is coming out as a stand-alone single for now.  And it gives a taste of what's to come on this amazing full length.

Decibel Magazine is premiering the track and you can check it out HERE.

And since it's the longest day of the year that means you can listen to it a bunch of times throughout the day.


Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

NEW STILL/FORM TRACK AND VIDEO FOR "GUMS"

 

Portland, OR’s STILL / FORM have released the second single from their upcoming debut full-length “From the Rot Is a Gift” (out 8/19/2022)
With “Gums” the band has made an unsettling and weird video to accompany the equally disturbing heavy music to go along with it. The video was created by bassist Kirk Evans and makes for a cool visual accompaniment to go with the song.

If you haven't pre-ordered the record yet you can do that HERE

Sunday, June 12, 2022

SO MUCH COOL STUFF TO LISTEN TO. JUNE REVIEWS

 Alright 2022, seriously, calm down.  It's getting kinda hectic.  I'm beginning to gt a bit overwhelmed over here with all the cool new stuff coming out and this batch of reviews is no exception.  There's a real mixed bag here with lots of different kinds of stuff so open up yr ears/mind and check out what's below.


CAVE-IN, “Heavy Pendulum”

Right off the bat I’d like to mention that this is one of the most beautiful record covers I’ve seen in recent memory.  Whatever your feelings about Cave-In, or their music, might be there is no denying this thing looks incredible.  Anyway, all that being said, I personally have always preferred the more metal-leaning Cave-In to space rock Cave-In.  That’s not to say they don’t know how to dabble in numerous styles and do them all really great.  I just plant my fandom flag firmly in “Until Your Heart Stops” territory.  A lot of people tend to overlook “Perfect Pitch Black” too, which I felt totally nailed the mix between their metallic and space rock styles to the point where I think I’d consider it my second favorite record of theirs.  So that’s where I think “Heavy Pendulum” fits in.  I don’t think they’re trying to re-create “Perfect Pitch Black”, but I feel like they’re making a concerted effort to marry the two styles they’re most known for and it, overall, comes off pretty good.  There’s a few total bangers on this record- “Blood Spiller”, “Amaranthine”, and “Searchers Of Hell” immediately come to mind.  But there’s a couple growers (not showers) too that take a long time to build yet have an exceptional payoff such as “Blinded By a Blaze” and the title track.  And there’s “Reckoning”, which is kind of a clunker that would have been better left off the record.  Still, Cave-In have also never shied away from writing longer songs (or albums for that matter), and at 14 tracks and 71 minutes it’s quite the exercise in focus and taking in the album as a whole. So strap in, get a snack, and get ready for a journey. It’s a worthy sort-of return for a band that has consistently stretched their musical muscles in numerous directions for well over 20 years now and always managed to pull off something deserving of your attention. (Relapse)

 

COME TO GRIEF, “When the World Dies”

Usually sludge/doom has like a 70% chance of being boring.  At least to me anyway.  I want to like it, but dragging a single note for too long is just painful.  Thankfully, Come To Grief make their hateful, seismic sludge both slow and low, but with momentum at the same time. They know how to add some groove in there, pick up the tempo when they damn well feel like it, and screech with so much vitriol you’d guess they all burst a blood vessel in their collective heads.  Still, these guys ought to have a firm grasp on what they’re doing since most of them were in the 90’s version of this group (AKA ‘Grief’), so they’ve been at it for a long time, even though this is a new iteration of that band, some 20 years removed.  They summon forth monumental riffs and absolutely thunderous drums that, at times, recall early High On Fire riffstravaganzas. But as they get into the second half of the record things change up a little bit, particularly on the title track which opens with eerie ambience and moves into a plodding slough where the bass has some room to show off, along with some tasteful guitar acrobatics.  I’m not one to typically highlight a record’s engineer, but getting Kurt Ballou on this to twist some knobs (as well as his Converge colleague Jacob Bannon to lend some back up vocals here and there) truly makes this record sound incredibly huge.  It doesn’t make this just another sludge/doom mopey bongfest.  It draws out the raw emotion, the piss and vinegar, and complete spite seething from every feedback-soaked riff pounding into yr damaged skull. (Translation Loss)

 

DROWNINGMAN, “Later Day Saints” 7”

The once-more re-activated Drowningman has tested the proverbial waters by releasing this limited 7” with one older song they never got around to using, as well as one new track.  Once a staple of the fertile metallic hardcore scene in the late 90’s and early aughts Drowningman took inspiration from a bevy of the best and put their own spin on it, usually with pretty awesome results.  As they went on their music got more technical and complex, which sometimes made it difficult to follow (or remember), though they continued to prove themselves as an amazing live band to go see what with the mix of all-out danger (vocalist Simon Brody regularly swinging his mic around by the cord like a goddamn lasso) and astute technical skill.  So what should you expect with this go-around?  Both songs feel like mid-era Drowningman, closer to the “How They Light Cigarettes In Prison” or “Still Loves You” EPs- not as chunky or riff-centric as “Busy Signal..”, but not nearly as technical as “Rock N’ Roll Killing Machine”.  So as they eventually lead up to a new full length record it’s difficult for me to say how well material such as this holds up in the 2020’s- that combination of metallic and technical with singing somewhere between way-old Converge, Deadguy, and then the onslaught of Ferret/Trustkill Records polished metalcore of the early 2000’s.  Younger heads will have to put into context for themselves.  Personally, I’m fine with it and this is a decent representation of a good band from that era giving us a solid old track they never used for whatever reason, as well as a new one that measures up fine with that older material.  (The Ghost Is Clear)

 

EDITRIX, “Editrix II:  Editrix Goes To Hell”

Damn, talk about a band that’s really difficult to classify. I think part of my initial curiosity of this band began with that challenge on their first record, which was kind of a mixed bag for me.  Now, on their second full length, I’m not sure if I’m more down with their thing because I’m going in with the expectation that it’s going to be weird, hard-to-pin-down music, or if the band has just gotten to be better songwriters.  I think it’s a bit of both.  Regardless, what is Editrix doing that’s so out there?  Well, they play very herky-jerky- and quirky!- indie rock that veers into some aggressive territory now and then with semi-chaotic parts.  They’re all music school types that throw in all sorts of math-y, noodly parts to their songs ranging from Minutemen-style funk curveballs to Dischord 21st century-era post-hardcore rocking a la Q and Not U and Faraquet.  The vocals are the real standout here most of the time though, as guitarist/vocalist Wendy Eisenberg coos softly over all this eccentricity to keep the listener at least a little grounded.  Her voice is a dead ringer for Karla Schickele, from 90’s indie stalwarts Ida and Beekeeper (please look them both up), and maybe in a more current sense, a little bit of Melkbelly too.  It all sounds random and confusing on paper, but give it a few listens and Editrix somehow worms their way into your brain and their sound sticks somehow.  It’s weird, it’s cool, there’s a really odd picture of a dog on the cover of the record.  (Exploding InSound)

 

GOSPEL, “The Loser”

Bands reuniting in this day and age is no big deal.  It’s so much easier now to connect with old bandmates who moved to the other side of the country and drag them back in for either a cash-in nostalgia tour, or some half-hearted comeback album that frequently sounds like a cover version of themselves.  But every once in awhile a band that never made a big impact decides, without anyone necessarily pining for a reunion (or expecting one), to get back in the saddle and they just kill it.  The best results often come from the bands who never made a huge deal of things in the first place and didn’t have massive pressure weighing on them from the fan community.  Gospel is one such band.  They released one album in the mid-oughts that was met with both adulation and confusion- the pretty spectacular “The Moon Is a Dead World”.  They never toured much and then they sort of just dissolved, leaving this super weird, but really exciting document of what would happen if you mixed wild screamo music with 70’s Yes and Genesis.  In 2010 they hinted at a comeback and recorded a demo, but then just disappeared once again.

Now they have resurrected those couple demo tracks, and wrote a bunch of other songs to make an entire new album and it’s just as fascinating and weird as their initial output.  The only big noticeable change is in the vocals, which were originally a higher pitch and more, ya know, scream-y.  I suppose with age things change and now the vocals are in a lower register, slurred more, and come off in a sort of David Yow-meets-Creston Spiers sort of drunken howl.  It’s not a bad change by any means, but it once again throws a wrench into any potential prog fans notion that everything ought to sound like it came out of a music school.  Of course the drumming is still ridiculously off-the-rails, wildly inventive, and propels many of these songs into a whole other territory.  The space-y keyboards further add to the ‘prog’ tag, bringing out the band’s signature unique sound while the rest of the band plows through pretty long songs (mostly), yet always keeping you reeled in.  It’s an excellent follow-up, albeit over 15 years later.  But I’m not complaining.  I never expected them to do anything ever again so it’s a nice surprise and worth really digging into.  Music made for super scientists. All it’s missing is a Roger Dean cover painting. (DogKnights Productions)

 

KRAUSE, “The Art Of Fatigue”

Not often will you hear me extol the virtues of Greek noise rock (OK, that really never happens because I know fuck all about what happens in Mediterranean Europe), but I’m just going to go ahead and guess that Krause has that particular niche scene on lock.  They have quite the discography already, and certainly know their way around a RAT pedal so let’s just assume half of Athens rock fans are deaf because of this group.  I first came across them on a random bandcamp spree last year and was drawn in by their freaky pulp monster art adorning their last EP.  It was a solid bet, so I’ve been keeping an eye on what they’re doing since then.  So here is their new full length and it’s just as full of piss and vinegar, just more of it because it’s a full length.  Once again, they have some wild art going here and that’s always a plus.  As for the songs- not bad either.  With a bass sound that’s got more dirt on it than a corpse, sans coffin, in an unmarked grave and a seething sneer that operates on a ‘some songs fast and pissed, others slow and menacing’ it’s pretty easy to feel the anger and resentment here on “The Art Of Fatigue”. My favorite track is probably the smash n’ grab aesthetic behind “Sloppy Human Excess”, followed closely by the song with the most accurate title ever- “Stressworld” and it’s creeping bass intro with off-time backbeat, bursting into a perfect summation of the song’s title through ugly rage.  The album, as a whole, is a little more polished with the recording than their last effort, but in this case it just means the heaviness comes out more. (Venerate Industries)

 

NERVER, “Cash”

The second full length from the Midwest’s Nerver takes no time to get down to business.  Right from the jump they dig in with grimey, heavy-ass noise rock.  It’s a great introduction really.  However, some of the songs feel a little long (they’re not actually all that long, they just feel that way) when compared to the overall more immediate, faster, and less involved songs from their first LP “Believer’s Hit” from a couple years back.  On the other hand, “Cash” is a bigger, more menacing-sounding record so take that all as you will.  While taking some cues from fellow brethren/contemporaries Bummer in terms of the harshness they deliver much of this reminds me a lot more of Pigs (the Dave Curran-helmed Unsane side band).  While a song like “Purgatory” takes a slow and somber approach to creating a sense of malaise, songs like “Blood Boy” and “The Chair” kick you right in the fuckin’ teeth with fast stop-start riffs and sections that just drag you by the feet through a marsh of mud and sharp rocks.  The Midwest doesn’t fuck around, let me tell ya.  (The Ghost Is Clear)

 

RIP ROOM, “Alight and Resound”

This is definitely what one could consider to be art-punk, but not with a collective nose so high in the air as to be insufferable.  Often there is a sparseness to the sound of San Francisco’s Rip Room, focusing on simple, yet solid bass lines and wire-y guitar that gives it a strong post-punk lean as well.  I suppose you could liken Rip Room to certain Dischord Records bands existing in Fugazi’s shadow in the early 90’s, or perhaps nearly anything emanating from the Lovitt Records roster.  It’s not quite what the label write-up implies it to be, but it’s also a decent record from some up-and-comers keeping you bopping with those thoughtfully restrained and catchy basslines. (SpartanRecords)

 

TRUTH CULT, “Tour ’22 Tape”

Let me tell ya’, Truth Cult just had themselves a hell of a Spring.  They got to open for the biggest hardcore band on the planet for a month and came really close to blowing them off the stage each night.  In my humble opinion, this Baltimore-based group is about the most exciting hardcore (or HC-adjacent if you will) band out there.  If you haven’t had the chance to check out their absolutely wonderful “Off Fire” LP from a year or so ago do yourself a favor and stop reading this now and go grab it.  But this new collection of songs, four tracks in all, was meant as a taste of things to come I can only assume (I know they have a whole new album in the can) and they made some copies to bring on the aforementioned tour with them.  Now they’re up online so you need to get on it.  Recalling the best of late 80’s/early 90’s DC/Dischord punk and hardcore, but occasionally veering off into other lanes here and there this is super energetic, rocking, and uplifting punk.  Hoarse, impassioned vocals with occasional sung back-up’s, gonzo drumming, and loose guitar riffing straight from the school of Farrell make Truth Cult a band I’m happy to support.  Opener “Resurrection” will be the jam of the summer- floating between spastic/driving and beautiful/ uplifting, while “The Bodies You Keep” and “Remain In Light” continue with the style they brought on the LP with a little more experience and thoughtfulness.  “Roadside Picnic” is the final track and it’s the weirdest of the bunch as it takes numerous twists and turns through ripping sections, some seemingly freeform parts, and a lot of noisy jamming.  Like I said, quit reading and just go listen to this band and if you have the chance to see them live do not miss it. (self-released)

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

MORE STILL/FORM FOR YA.

 You got a song from the upcoming Still/Form LP, but how about a little more of a teaser?  Why not.  Here's a short video for the record with some other sounds found on "From the Rot Is a Gift", due out August 19th.

You can pre-order it now over HERE.


Monday, May 16, 2022

THE FAST AND THE WEIRD... IT'S THE MAY REVIEWS

 Once in awhile I go in on some crazy punk stuff, as opposed to my typical fare of noisy and weird.  But not to fear, there's some of that present this time around.  I really do enjoy when bands can take fast punk rock and do something wild with it.  Also, I do try my best to push new bands making freaky sounds and not just prop up established bands, or old heads still kicking around though I'll say the newest Helms Alee (a band well into their second decade together) makes some unique creative leaps, and I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to review a discography from my hometown's first hardcore band from the early 80's that are more important on a national level than one would expect.  So dig in.


BASEMENT FAMILY, “Eerie Ennui”

This is a tough one to explain, but that’s part of what makes it so intriguing to listen to.  I think like contemporaries in bands such as Almanac Man or Kinghorn, or even Season To Risk if you want to go way back, Basement Family blend a handful of styles into a cohesive whole without any of it sounding forced, or out of place.  But it still makes for a wholly unique sound that can be tough to nail down.  There’s plenty of Midwest indie rock influence throughout with twangy, jittery rock consistent with aspects of the Touch and Go catalog.  And there’s also a whole lot of long-game, thought-out portions that insist the listener invest the time into the sound.  Shifting from delicate, softly cooed melodies to noisy-feedback sections falling off the rails, and into chunky rhythmic passages Basement Family tend to write longer songs.  That’s not to say this is intended to be enjoyed with a furrowed brow, necessitating that one absorb themselves into the record completely to squeeze out some degree of pleasure from the exercise in patience.  There’s some really catchy parts in here too.  “Head Retention” leads with ethereal vocals, carried by an up-tempo boogie throughout that eventually builds into an intense stop-start guitar claxon and a tumbling crescendo.  “Serial Queen” does the slow shuffle with a fun, noodly guitar riff backing it while “Struggle Run” has a strong bass riff with a wavering guitar strum and repeating high-end melody coming back over and over.  If heavy distortion were applied to it all it could become a post-hardcore anthem I tell ya.  But I digress.  A band such as this may kind their closest kin in groups like Knot (or Krill) in terms of being this smart, but noisy, and rather mysterious kind of entity.  This is definitely one of the more engaging listens I’ve had so far this year and I feel like I’m still wrapping my head around what they’re doing even after dozens of listens. (The Ghost Is Clear)

 

BIRTH ORDER, “Farewell, Square Horse”

There’s plenty of more current stuff that I’m reminded of when listening to Birth Order, but none of it I can precisely put my finger on at the moment.  If I dial it back in the wayback machine, their sound is a big amalgamation of various aspects of the Hydrahead mathcore stable, as well as the weirder heaviness of stuff like The National Acrobat.  But think songs that alternate between faster all-out abandon and slower, chunky/math-y heaviness with howling, drunken vocals that occasionally veer into tastefully sung choruses like on “Crabgrass” and the title track, which are a bit out of character (just a bit) from the rest of the record in the best way possible.  Most of these songs lean on the long side and perhaps they would benefit from trimming them down a bit, though for the most part they can make it work effectively. This is a low-key nice surprise, and rather unexpected.  A quality release worth checking out. (The Ghost Is Clear)

 

CATATONICS, THE, “Hunted Down” discography

I found it incredibly surprising to see a label like Southern Lord take an interest in, and release a discography for, the little-known Catatonics.  After all, all they really ever had to their name was a 7” released in the mid-80’s, as well as a comp appearance before splitting up.  I’m personally interested in this because The Catatonics were the first real hardcore band from Syracuse, emerging around 1981-1982 and splitting by late 1985.  I was just a kid at that point so by the time I got into hardcore almost ten years later The Catatonics were a long since forgotten relic.  Honestly, I don’t think I was even aware of their existence until the early 2000’s when their name would occasionally pop up in conversation, even though I’d seen their drummer’s glam-punk band Libertine in the late 90’s without knowing his bona fides (I’ll get to that in a second).  Later, around 2010-ish a local band named themselves after the group’s lone 7” and paid homage to the absolutely furious hardcore The Catatonics could dish up.

So, yeah, Syracuse wasn’t always known for militant mosh madness.  When drummer Belvy K relocated from NYC to Syracuse as a teenager he essentially started a scene in this town by getting this band going.  His whirlwind drumming style would lead him to join 7 Seconds and D Generation for awhile after The Catatonics called it a day before he returned to Syracuse to start Libertine, this time as a frontman.  The dude sort of fell off the radar after that but I recently learned that not only is Belvy K a co-founder/owner of the well-respected Brooklyn Bazaar venue in NYC but dude is the friggin’ godson of Debbie Harry.  So, I guess if punk points were credit cards this dude would have the Centurion Black version.

Anyways, not only does this discography have the sought-after “Hunted Down” 7” and comp track (“Descending In E”), but also demo tracks and live tracks, all of which have been remastered and polished up.  For the studio tracks the dusting off makes them sound absolutely raging.  The live stuff…  well..  they did their best.  The quality isn’t terribly great, but it was 1984 and I’m sure no one was doing a professional soundboard recording of some crazy punk band in a crappy VFW hall.  It isn’t essential material, but gives a well-rounded picture of the band moving from juvenile goofing off about seeking out more beer and kicking over neighbors lawn ornaments to the aforementioned “Hunted Down” where you can hear the band at their most vicious and playing their instruments like fucking jackhammers.  It’s fast, ripping hardcore and also catchy as hell.  “Hey, fuck your mother buddy!”  Welcome to Syracuse.  (Southern Lord)

 

DADDY’S BOY, “Great News”

Somewhere in the wreckage of a three-way pileup between Pissed Jeans, Born Against, and a station wagon full of Kill Rock Star vocalists the resulting collision produced Daddy’s Boy.  The whole thing is crazy, noisy punk energy with blown out bass distortion, off-the-rails guitar work, and vocals that feel almost reserved against music this chaotic.  Lyrically the songs attack the issues of the day and waver between sardonic wit and being pretty straight forward and on the nose.  Compared to the group’s last recording the vocals are more spoken this time around, whereas previously there was a bit more range going on overall.  It’s a unique contrast to how absolutely bat shit crazy the music is.  Still, it’s an 11-song ride where pretty much every song makes it’s point in less than two minutes and I cannot complain about that.  In fact, I think I’m going to go do crimes in front of a federal building after hearing this.  Get wild.  (self-released)

 

DEAF CLUB, “Bad Songs Forever” 7”

Deaf Club is another in a very long line of band’s helmed by Justin Pearson and retains very similar qualities to his other myriad of weirdo punk groups.  For whatever reason I’ve never had more than a passing interest in all these bands.  Maybe it’s because they have a similar sound?  Maybe they’re a little too constantly spazzy for me to fully appreciate on a consistent basis?  I admire the dude for helping make completely fucked up noise and somehow getting thousands of people into it.  Like, how does that happen?  Anyways, Deaf Club is, I guess, a bit more direct rather than the total mindfuck that The Locust goes for, and it’s a bit less metal than Dead Cross I suppose.  I was primarily drawn to this because of the cover art from one of my favorite creators out there- Paul Rentler.  It looks wild and the music is wild, so good match.  There’s four songs here, the first kind of a slower, chunkier, rhythmic beast that I’m way into.  Second track has an almost early Dillinger Escape Plan feel with it’s wild guitar antics and faster pace.  They rock a Pixies cover, warped into a version fit for circle pitting around a trash fire, and then close with “Ride With Cops, Shoot With Robbers”, which is sort of a good summation of all the elements going on throughout.  Oh, and Justin Pearson has been copping the lyrical and vocal style of Sonny Kay for years, but Sonny does it way better.  Still, props for wearing a killer influence proudly on your sleeves (that is if the shirt has any). (31G)

 

HELMS ALEE, “Keep This Be the Way”

Every single Helms Alee record is thoroughly excellent.  They’re a band that has never let me down because every one of their records has been so wonderfully consistent that they will be a sure bet for quality.  But I’m convinced I’m not the first to say that this is probably the band’s weirdest record to date.  If you’re six LPs (not to mention a handful of EPs) and 15 years into your time as a band it’s probably time to mix things up a bit regardless of how unique and awesome your sound is to begin with.  What have you got to lose?  This new Helms Alee came around with not too much pre-release hype so it’s a bit sudden and maybe that’s intentional.  Either way, on here guitarist Ben Verellen does the least amount of singing he’s done on any previous record.  I’ve always been a big fan of his distinctive howl, but that’s not to say bassist Dana James and drummer Hozoji Matheson-Margullis don’t have excellent pipes of their own as they carry the lion’s share of vocals throughout the whole record.  They also harmonize fantastically, but any fan of this band already knows that.  Verellen does add significantly more oddball effects to his guitar sound this time around, including a warped bending throughout the title track making for a disorienting listen, as well as an almost acoustic rendering of “Big Louise” (one of the few times the band has ever covered another artist).  The record opens with one of their biggest curveballs with a smattering of what sounds like synths (but I think may be more strange guitar effects), saxophone, and largely harmonized vocals carrying “See Sights Smell Smells”, and they added some cello keys to other tracks here.  But I’ll say some things do remain consistent on “Keep This Be the Way”- James’ massive bass tone, and the absolutely thunderous nature of the drumming.  The rhythm section of Helms Alee will always be absolutely mind-melting and it’s a hallmark of their sound.  And the harmonization of the three different voices of this band always makes things moody and somber, like the mist rolling over the forested hills of the Pacific Northwest in Winter, where the band calls home.  There’s a few classically heavy rockers fans of the band will no doubt enjoy as “Tripping Up the Stairs” and “Three Cheeks To the Wind” deliver the huge distortion and lumbering heaviness the band do so well. Despite trying out some new things on this record I still predict fans of the group are loyal enough to go along for the ride.  I know I’m enjoying it.  (Sargent House)

 

REAPER’S GONG, “Splintered Sun”/”Fevered Sheath” EP

Here we got some shoegaze-y grunge punk on a ‘friend’s basement’ recording budget.  But I think that’s rather intentional given this is another project from Full Of Hell dudes (who certainly know their way around a recording studio) further expanding their interest in various nooks of the noise rock spectrum.  I listened to their first demo and this is a little more honed in on achieving a certain sound, and despite the rough quality of the recording, it sounds better than that demo.  These two songs go by quick, but it’s enjoyable- sort of spooky, atmospheric vocals paired with junky, trash-sounding grunge punk and a hint of melody…  yeah, count me in.  For those into obscure references- this bears a strong resemblance to the likes of Shoppers and Sigh Down One.  (EstrangedCommunications)

 

WARTHOG 7”

NYC’s Warthog has now released 5 seven inches.  Why not just go for an LP at this point?  Then again, I guess I am personally of the mind that when it comes to super intense crossover thrashy hardcore I’ll take short and sweet, making me want more, rather than 10-15 songs that will likely sound rather repetitive to me.  So maybe this band has people like me in mind as their audience for these regular 7” slabs of insanity.  Whatever the case, they have been at it for at least 5-6 years at this point and up until recently my only frame of reference for this band was that their bassist was the original bass player for The Men- a very good band in their own right, but vastly different than this.  Warthog are no frills, heavy-handed really fast hardcore.  Just as much as they go for early 80’s NYHC they go in for Motorhead and d-beat crustiness too.  These are songs you expect to last no more than a minute but the three tracks here average out at over 3 minutes each, but it feels like it flies right by with how fast and ridiculously aggressive they play.  You really can’t go wrong with stuff like this, it’s a total blast.  (Toxic State)