Thursday, July 30, 2015

Throat Short Circuit Review

Short Circuit
Kaos Kontrol/Reptillian Records

Throat is a quartet from Turku, Finland. Their approach could be best described as noise rock. When I label a band “noise rock” the usual litany of AmRep and Touch & Go bands get listed. And while these influences are present, supplemented by a strong NYC post-hardcore vibe, there is songwriting here that uniquely stands. Throat cultivate tension and aggression, ebbing back at times to scrape the anxiety from their flesh.

The stripped production constructs a feeling of a menacing, large room. The instruments rain noise and tumult into your ears. The drums and vocals, echo from the far corner; chaotic strings of guitars pull you in varied directions. The production relishes the live feel of the band. Listeners get a calculated, thin feel of razors and wires instead of a big thick feel.

Time changes are Throat’s main weapons. Throat employ these sections of songs to stretch tethered emotions. Certainly at times, a rocking groove runs. Often though, Throat retreat into hollow vacuums of slow, purposeful whining and plucks of the guitar. The average song is about four minutes. This gives Throat enough time indulge but not overstay the listener’s welcomes.

The beauty of Throat is in the ugly discomfort their songs emit. The cover of Short Circuit, shows an illustration of a girl about tp compete a circuit between and outlet and herself with a bobby pin. She has a look of fear on her face, yet the impending motion will be completed. That cautious harbinger, founded in the certainty of the tragedy, reiterates the feel of this record. The listener knows from the first notes that this adventure will elicit sharp, slicing memories, but the listener will continue. Hell of a record.

RIYL: The Jesus Lizard, Godflesh, Helmet, Stillsuit, Shift, Quicksand, Cows, Melvins, Pissed Jeans, Drive Like Jehu

Throaat Blck Speed Review

Black Speed
Invictus Productions
Release: 3 August 2015

Black Speed is quite the appropriate title. The title fits because the sound of Throaat is from the era of Black Metal being speed punk in the coarsened vein of Bathory, Hellhammer, Mayhem and especially Venom. Hell, Throaat even covers Venom here. They are a power trio creating disturbing, violent metal. They have a few EPs and demos, but this four plus cover tracks is brutal and evil in all the right way.

The production is on point in letting the feral beast snarl and gnash without suffering from muddy quality. “Coven” embraces a cold breakdown. The drums smash along as a winding solo boasts bravado. And dare I say, a melodic part is teased before thrashing to the end. Slower parts meander through the EP to add power to chugging riffs. Throaat also speed it up when needed. While paying homage to the great of leather clad Satanists, Throaat inject their own, err, venom into the blood of the listener. Black Speed is not mimicry or copies of classics.

The balance of medium paced riffs bursting into speedy damage is exemplified on “Explode”. This b-side opener is a treacherous rager.  Sinister growls of devious plans and intentions slither through the speakers. Chains rattle as the jangly bass driven “Rampage” charges forward. The bellows grow deeper and the spirit is enveloped by an even darker force. Faster and colder, the vision of Throaat comes to full fruition on this beast.

RIYL: early Slayer, early Metallica, early Bathory, early Venom, early Death Angel, Tormentor (Hungary), Motorhead, Razor

Demon Lung A Dracula Interview

Demon Lung
A Dracula
Candlelight Records
Interview with Shanda Frederick by hutch

Shanda Fredrick - vocals
Phil Burns - guitar
Brent Lynch - guitar
Jason Lamb - bass
Jeremy Brenton - drums

Produced by Billy Anderson
“It was one hundred percent intentional to go much heavier this time,” Shanda Frederick replies to my question, asking the obvious. A Dracula is a low-tuned, full-sounding doom concept album. Demon Lung exhaled on hell of an album with The Hundredth Name in 2013. A Dracula is a masterful doom album released from a gestation of maturity and focus. “Our first album,” continues Frederick, “we didn’t know how to achieve that. “We were intense this time.”

The relationship spawned from producer, Billy Anderson, and the band sharpened the intent and attention of all involved. Anderson’s steeped experience was a guiding light. “This time during writing process, I talked to Billy. We have a friendly relationship. He knew what we wanted to achieve. He was aware of us emotionally. He gave us this epic sound.”

The sound is epic. Thick, sludgy riffs steeped in horrific atmosphere are the product of all elements syncing during four months of writing. Frederick reports while writing, hanging appropriate paintings and playing old horror films in the background. Of course, Demon Lung also used great metal narratives to guide their mentality. “We listened to other bands to set the mood.  King Diamond. The way he will stretch a whole story for an album is inspiring. Iron Maiden. They do a lot of concept songs about history.”
The direct inspiration for A Dracula is Alucarda by Mexican horror director, Juan Lopez Moctezuma, in 1977. Frederick explains the process. “We come up with a story. We discuss scenes and emotions. Then they start writing riffs. They record video their hands writing the riffs. We compile themes, what lyrics fit with what song. The film was a starting point but we adapted the story from fit to our ‘end of the world’ agenda and changed some characters.”

Shanda Frederick examines another inspiration as we discuss the harder sound and her vocals approach. “Candlemass. I use them vocally. I like their approach. I get the comment that I sound like a man.” That comment does not insult or bother her. “I prefer that. It feels natural.” Frederick grew up with her dad. Her father’s friends, older men, represented the bulk of her human interaction. She worked at her dad’s office, a construction business, where she dealt with even more men. She elaborates, “My first band had a forty year old guitarist. I am comfortable around older men. There is no sexual pressure. They can see me as an individual.”

Female fronted bands, especially in doom metal and psych or stoner rock, are common now. There becomes a thin line of being respected and being an object of desire. For the female, it can be a double-edged sword. “The situation can be a hard time for fans, not relating to a female perspective. I convey deep emotions. I definitely struggle with double-edged sword. I want not to be treated as one of the guys, but receive the same level of respect.”

Frederick notes that her band and her audience are thankfully constructed of different types, though. Well, and she consciously does not portray the sex object. “I am fortunate with my guys. I don’t put out that sexual vibe. So, I don’t reap that attitude. I wear long dresses. I cover my boobs. I am feminine, not sexual. People treat me delicately.” That has its downside as well, back to the double-edged sword. “People assume I can sing, like my skills aren’t valued. They think, ‘you are a woman, of course you can sing. They say it as if I didn’t work hard to achieve this talent. But, that is how it is in the world today.”

Frederick relays the opposite impression. She notes that she always could sing. Her mother pushed her with musical theatre and chorus. After multiple karaoke sessions in her late teens, her friends pushed her to sing. “I was horrible live. It took a year and a half to be comfortable in front of people. I was twenty-one. It was a hard process.” That fortitude is ingrained in her constitution, though. “I just go out and do something until I can do it. I am not afraid of failing. Everything is a learning process.”

That process of working through an endeavor and accepting that time is needed to hone the product is portrayed in this album. A Dracula is a sculpted script. Each track, expertly improved and molded by Billy Anderson and the band, represents a plot point in the arc of Alucarda and her love, Justine. They triumph and are resurrected to reign in Hell and demolish the Earth’s inhabitants. A dark, frightening atmosphere champions this cinematic album. Prepare for the wrath.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Doomentor Second Ceremony Review

The Second Ceremony 7” EP
Iron Bonehead
Release July 24th 2015

 The trio, Doomentor, slip us two songs via Iron Bonehead. Over twelve minutes of raw doom metal bless this vinyl. The crew cultivates a mysterious aura in reputation and sound, wearing cloaks on their first LP or not at all here. As if emitted from a cursed castle during Walpurgisnacht, an organ opens up with a haunting tune. The one minute-plus intro dives into “Maligne”. “Maligne” has a swinging, thrashy feel.  The production is extremely raw, appreciating a lo-fi aesthetic.  The music is fast, galloping, riff-loving metal. “Nocturniae Monumentalis” is side B with nearly eight minutes of slower but menacing metal.

They describe themselves as “black occult imperial doom metal hell”. That could sum it up. They list influence like Trouble and Manilla Road. Certainly, those bands are applicable for a foundation. But, this music is much darker and infuses nuances of thrash and speed metal into the mix. There are elements deriving from Venom, Hellhammer, and Motorhead. This is stripped down doom. The vocals are low growls and sneers. And they should be. I don’t want this sung. Even a Wino approach would detract from the sinister punch Doomentor packs.

This is a great seven inch. The songwriting and execution is bad ass. I do wish for a higher quality of production. I get the sound they are going for, but the low end needs more of a punch. And while the cymbals are up in the mix, lower toms should be more present. I don’t need clean by any means. But doom should have big thick fuzzy bass, in my opinion. Their self titled embraced a thicker feel while maintaining the savagery and raw grit. I still recommend it.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Shame Foreign Legion Split Review

Foreign Legion/The Shame
Split EP
Aggrobeat Records/Rebel Sound Music

Foreign Legion:
Foreign Legion have been representing Welsh streetpunk/Oi! since 1984. After a few names changes, they finally settled and got to cranking out consistent records in 2001. That is when the Major Accident split LP was released. Then, they had a full length, again on DSS. 2007 saw the strong, Death Valley on Durty Mick. Other great splits with Red Alert, Suburban Lockdown, Riot Company, Paris Violence and Cervelli Stanki show their tenacity. Well, they throw a quick two songs here (after another solid LP, Light at the End of the Tunnel, KB records) for The Shame. 
Social and political concerns are the basis for these feisty, pissed songs. Foreign Legion are calling attention to the disarray and dysfunctional society that plagues all cities globally. A cry for people like us that see the issues, these tracks should incite disdain. The strong back beat harnesses the focus. This material boasts thicker guitars and more ferocity than Foreign Legion’s prior output. The intensity is stronger and enticing!

RIYL: One Way System, Menace, Major Accident, Brass Tacks 

The Shame:
Tough, gritty and angry Oi! here. The Shame come from Tulsa, OK. “Cross the Line” is gruff track, pledging allegiance to defiance. This track is fast. Tight guitar chords propel the beat forward. This will certainly get people singing along.  

“Faded Glory” is not just a drinking song, but a “let’s drink” rally cry to lament. The tone of the song, the guitar chords, and the pace bring a solemn feel that is in line with needing just one more shot of whiskey to go with the pint. The chorus is catchy and morose, in a nostalgic fashion. The feeling is perfect for an old skinhead who is reminiscing about the days that weren’t so caught up in daily grind and respnsibilty. Get a friend and hoist a pint.

RIYL: Wretched Ones, The Booked, Squiggy,  

Record label: Aggrobeat Records (Europe) / Rebel Sound (USA)

Pressing info: 500 copies: 250 cyan blue (Europe) / 250 solid red (USA)

Loud Boyz Hard Feelings Review

Loud Boyz
Tough Love, Hard Feelings
Cricket Cemetery
Released: June 28th 2015

 On Anthrax’s, Sound of White Noise, they used a sample of Griffin Dunne in My Girl, saying, “Be dangerous unpredictable and make a lot of noise”. I don’t think a cool quote validates seeing such a sap filled film like that, but it sure could be the creed of Loud Boyz. These DC dudes are releasing their full length, Tough Love, Hard Feelings. The band is tight as hell, but still harnesses danger, unpredictability and well, yeah, Loud Boyz make a lot of noise.

Raw and raucous, a flood of influences crash my mental, but the island of originality stays solid at the core. The grumpy stalwart in me despises when someone tells me they like “punk” and then names some clean, polished production band on a major label and an image. Loud Boyz are young and celebrate many elements of Oi, Glam, rock, and fifty shades of punk. Pure intent fuses and patches and slaps together these pieces without caution to complete their body of sinister music.

Tough Love, Hard Feelings is a heavy album mostly. But it is an angry album thoroughly. The songwriting on certain songs, “Hard Feelings”, “Loud Boyz in Love”, “4 The Ladies”, conjures the speed and tense frustration of 90’s streetpunk. They have the ethos and appearance of an art space band. Certain songs will lend to that crowd. In the end, this is all DIY punk. “#goodluck” will bring out the kids for the pit with a vicious breakdown and sing along. Songs rip through speakers, with a dirty twang and impressions of relentless beatings. “World is a Cage” kills too.

The live feel of the production approach retains the classic punk sound of this band. “Knives” kicks off the album with a Bad Brains’ Black Dots feel, with supplemental gang vocals that will enrage a live crowd. The sweat will manifest on your headphones. All five members push their limits. While the band has no real boundaries, they never indulge. They never get too weird or veer to experimental. A catchy strum is the foundation for most songs, but a harsh feral feel is what you’ll remember afterwards.

 Expect that this band will light up shows, from VFW halls to basements. But they have the potential to be bigger. They will make that decision. Their vision and sincerity is palpable. The authenticity of the urgent need to spew unfettered truth in their manner is undeniable. Keeping it this real will let them do whatever the hell they want. They can go a different, more indie way, a la Iceage or Cerebal Ballzy, or stay this clinically insane and ravage hardcore shows.

RIYL: Fucked Up, Cerebal Ballzy, Blue Bloods, Deep Sleep, Cloak/Dagger, Pissed Jeans, Night Birds, Coliseum, Stiff Little Fingers, Whiskey Rebels, 86 Mentality, Nerve Agents; 77 punk, early 80s LA hardcore.

Bad Engrish No Passing Trend LP Review

The Bad Engrish
No Passing Trend
Rebel Sound Music
Release: 27 May 2015

 Rowdy rock and roll from one of my favorite band names. Bad Engrish finally put out an album of older (but unreleased) material.  No Passing Trend contains thirteen tracks of fast-ass punk blaze through this piece of wax in less than thirty minutes; including a four minute track, a bonus track and a cover of “Harry May”.

Production is solid. The guitars have that UK82 crunch without getting mired in dark feedback. The instruments are recorded in a crisp fashion. The elements can be distinctly heard, just not kept up with. The drums are backbone here. And they are played in a fury. Jangly bass lines and exciting guitars will push circle pits and colored spikes top bounce and rush the stage. “True Breed” is a fierce track. This shows a more focused song in the bunch.

Not here to contemplate too many deep inquiries, Bad Engrish profess titles like “Pogo Power” and “Fish & Chips” and “Oi!’s not Dead”. Songs of drunken mayhem, friendship and their underground subculture are all subjects. Bad Engrish does slip in lines disavowing politics, but has a line about a woman’s right to abortion. There are fun rebellion songs; more a “fuck you” than a debate – more Blanks 77 than The Virus. “You Hate Me” is straight forward, but will always be a sentiment of each punk and skin at heart.

Rebel Sound, via Pirates Press, put out some sweet vinyl here. The choice of a white twelve inch with black and red splatter or Red with black waves gives a vinyl lover some hesitation. The LP received an honorable mention in Pirates Press Record of the week blog for May 8th, 201. The band played MidWest in May and is touring now with Sniper 66. I am sure they are fun band live. The album could use a touch more serious lyrics, and maybe a few time changes in the tracks – but that is my opinion coming from Oi! and hardcore. For the spikes and bristles crowd, this is a great record.

RIYL: Cobra, Towerblocks, Oxymoron, The Krays, Blanks 77, Lower Class Brats

Pressing info:
50x Black Vinyl
325x Heavy BLACK Splatter on BLOOD RED

125x Heavy RED(ISH) and BLACK Splatter on WHITE
Glory Days
Glory Days
Aggrobeat Records
7" EP, vinyl; ABEP019

Fresh off a split with Dead End Street (Italy) and the Oi! Against Racism LP Comp, Glory Days now have their own EP on Aggrobeat records. These kids from Poland deliver a rough (and welcome) version of Oi! They take the early English sound and mix with a good dose of the French sound. Their sound is loose and tough, with hard back beats and harsh guitars.

The song writing here loves the English style guitar intro of building the anticipation of the songs. When the songs kick in, they do so in a raucous manor. Good songwriting with catchiness (but not melodic)and sing along phrases keep feet tapping and fist pumping.

“The Line” feels like the most honed song. The beat is faster, the guitars are crisper. The crowd inducing chorus will get fans singing and beer spilling. The middle has a great breakdown with a slow but bracing solo.

B-side wins again was a Chuck D phrase; and I must apply it here. “Out of Sight” starts with a ripping beat. The energy is charged and direct. The middle employs another tense breakdown the builds to a gang chorus. The guitars are intentionally sparse but impactful. The track is tighter than the A side.

Glory Days is a stand out EP with great skinhead soundtracks. The songwriting shows effort and thought. There is room for some improvement that a strong producer and the time of a full length could certainly bring. That said, this is from a demo last year. An album worth of these quality of track would be called a classic. Classic sounds and tools ensure that the needle will drop on this at a drunken part or a bitter basement night solo. Pour a pint and sing along.

RIYL: Blitz, Veros, 4 Skins, Snix, Attack, The Crack, Eastern Youth, Combat 84

Track List: A1 Reality Check; A2 Glory Days; B1 The Line; B2 Out Of Sight

Pressing info: 300 copies: 150 oxblood red / 150 black wax

BUY: aggroshop