No Made Sense – New Season/New Blues

No Made Sense

New Season/New Blues
Self-released

When No Made Sense released ‘The Epillanic Choragi’ to widespread critical acclaim, the world should well have been at their feet. The plaudits kept coming in, and loyal fans continued to head to their shows. But it hasn’t really taken off for the Reading three-piece in the way it should have; and I’ll admit, I never got round to checking that album out in full. The wait for this album has been much, much longer than any of their epic songs.
Those concerns aside, ‘New Season/New Blues’ is a welcome return from these progressive metallers, and as its been made available on a pay-what-you-like scale through their Bandcamp page, there’s no reason why any true rock or metal fan shouldn’t add this to their record collection. Interesting and forward-thinking enough for prog musos, yet accessible and resistant enough to avoid going off on too many tangents.
The early part of the album announces itself with ‘No Gain From Seeking’, a nine-minute opus that shapeshifts as much as it drives forward, with guitarist/vocalist Leo Dennett flexing his vocal range as the riffs flow – noticeably stacked with layers to create an almost wall of noise effect. That’s just the start of things, and the next few tracks come in at around four or five minutes each and keep the momentum moving forward. ‘Lying on My Own’ is simply excellent; the refrain of the title alone is enough to stick in your head and each member’s performance here is outstanding in every aspect. In addition to ‘Four’ and ‘You Might As Well’, here you have a first half opening on par with any of the current crop of progressive metal greats, and in many ways evokes acts such as Isis and Baroness; particularly the former in capturing a bleak, intelligent, approach.
Such is the nature of this band and their music is that they manage to more than comfortably avoid the pitfall of allowing their album to tail off. The second half of the album features a brilliant section where ‘Half of the Wall’, an interlude of sorts consisting mostly of fuzz and distortion, is allowed to gently build towards the end of song, before plunging headfirst into ‘Silence’, a display of instrumental gallantry, equal parts Pelican and Mogwai in nature as it shifts from heavy to melodic. ‘You Might As Well’ is driven by an excellent technical drum beat from Sam Ward that keeps the song purring like a smooth motor, until it peters out right at the end when left on its own to close the song.
The closing track, ‘Sleep’ is just pure perfection. It ghosts into focus and just a few minutes in, everything stops and all you hear for a time is the chatter of a restaurant or some fancy dinner – I think. Dennett then returns acoustically and the songs begins to climb back up towards the top of the apex it created for itself. It continues to drift elegantly, layering up along the way, and like all good monstrous heavies, it raises the pressure, before releasing it climactically with an almighty ten-ton riff. That beast speeds up as the song begins its descent and the album reaches the finish line.
If there’s one niggling complaint, it’s that at the album progresses, the interludes feel a little too regular – tracks 4 (‘Swings’), 6 (‘Half of the Wall’), and 8 (‘Down’) all register slightly as non-songs, and while the first two appear at just the right times and inject the right amount of variation and atmosphere into proceedings, the latter feels slightly like an inconvenience and doesn’t serve to build up into ‘You Might As Well’ effectively as that particular song does some building up of its own. But again, just a minor complaint, because otherwise, this is a remarkably great album from a damn fine band, and one to force me to atone for my earlier ignorance. Unlike ‘The Epillanic Choragi’, it’s free of concept, and was instead recorded live, giving it that raw, abrasive heavy feel. It’s refreshing in this case, free of over-polishing and over-perfection, and it allows all the instruments to stand out and create their own complexities.
Sadly, this could well be the last record by No Made Sense. The release of ‘New Season/New Blues’ was apparently severely delayed and was eventually (perhaps casually) released, by all accounts, on a Saturday, and upon releasing the album, the band announced they had gone on indefinite hiatus. To quote them: “you might not hear from us again for a while. Or maybe ever. So, thanks and stuff.” Once again, a fine British band disintegrates or disbands way before their time, and hardly any bugger will notice.
If this is to be end, cheers for making the morning commute not only bearable, but fecking enjoyable. A real pleasure.
Peter Clegg

Official blog (Leo Dennett)

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Clutch now have their own beer!

Yes, you read that right. Courtesy of the New Belgium Brewing Company, Maryland’s finest purveyors of the riff, Clutch, are getting their own ale! The Clutch Dark Sour Ale (9.0% ABV) has been released this month are part of the company’s experimental ‘Lips of Faith’ series. The description is as follows:
“Pure rock fury meets Belgian-style brewed folly in this collaboration with Maryland hard-rockers, Clutch. A pronounced bass line of dark chocolate, coffee and black malts bridge the sourness of our dark wood ale for a fluid riff.”
I don’t think I can put it much better than that.
Unfortunately, anyone hoping to see this reviewed in our ‘Room for One More’ series that I launched recently may have to wait. A long time. New Belgium are based in the United States and I’ve no idea whether this bad boy will be made available in the UK. But you never know. My quest for fine ale is never-ending.
Peter Clegg

Steel Panther: Uncaged again. Classy as ever

So Steel Panther have re-emerged, with guitarist Satchel dropping the following bombshell:

Nice…
That release date is Monday October 17th, for those of us in the UK. The first single is ‘If You Really Really Love Me’, released on Monday November 7th.
They’ve also handily announced a London show at the Electric Ballroom on Tuesday November 8th, going on sale this Friday (August 26th) at 9:00am.
Get on down!
Peter Clegg

Malefice – Awaken the Tides

Malefice
Awaken the Tides
Metal Blade

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Over the years, in my own personal opinion, the mainstream approach to modern day metal has declined. That sort as displayed by the New Wave of American Heavy Metal that made its uprising in the early part of the 2000’s. Maybe it’s just my own personal tastes, or maybe it’s just that those sorts of bands just aren’t as inspiring or creative as they used to be. Certainly I could point the finger at any number of (particularly American) bands who just appear to have stagnated, whether it’s just becoming more radio-friendly or just going with the all-out beatdown crowd. Maybe it’s that stiflingness that’s pushed me to explore variety.
That said, it’s not as though this sort of approach is a lame duck. If it’s done right, then it’s got potential to succeed. And Malefice do it right again on third album ‘Awaken The Tides’. Yes, David Mitchell’s favourite band return here with new drummer Chris Allen-Whyte and the result is ten tracks of explosive thrashy heavy metal that blows the competition out of the water.
Indeed, it still retains a heavy metalcore vibe, which is perhaps just a product of the popular sound at the time, but the key difference between them and their peers is the quality that lies beneath, as well as perhaps a lack of recognition – its self a product of being late to the party, or scene abandonment, or perhaps even being British?
In any event, the album itself is an enjoyable one worthy of repeated spins, starting off with a few quick blasts from new drummer Allen-Whyte on the title track. The usual traits of the metalcore sound are retained, including the Gothenburg-esque riffing, but the delivery is there to get necks moving, particularly during a brutal beatdown on ‘Delirium’. Even during the more atmospheric songs (e.g. ‘Minutes’), they still bring the brutality in their sound.
Fair enough, it’s a tried-and-tested formula, but Malefice have created a fine effort here, and its commendable they’ve not gone all out for the weedly-weedly approach that swamps/plagues metal today, and while retaining a level of melodicism to their sound, at least they haven’t gone for the pound sterling either. Whether they’ll get any more recognition for sticking to their guns is another issue, but it’s far from stale and you could do far worse than take a listen to this, even in 2011.
Peter Clegg

Official merch store (note: ‘Awaken the Tides’ not available here)
MySpace
Facebook

Sarabante – Remnants

Sarabante

Remnants
Southern Lord

At one point, Southern Lord were using the slogan ‘Let There Be Doom’, and you couldn’t see them looking beyond pumping out Sunn 0))) and Burning Witch records for all eternity. But lately, Greg Anderson and co. have taken quite an interest in all things hardcore/punk. Indeed, with a roster that now boasts like Black Breath, Nails, Trap Them, All Pigs Must Die, etc., it seems that Southern Lord have quite the gambit on anything crusty sounding, anything that screams raw anger and bile through the speakers at a considerably faster pace than any of the label’s previous numerous funeral dirges, without sacrificing the heavy.

Reaching out across the Atlantic and into the Mediterranean, Southern Lord have now snapped up Greek hardcore crew Sarabante. The first track ‘Πνιγμένοι Στη Σιωπή (which according to Google translate means ‘Drowned In Silence’) starts off with a cracking instrumental section, nice and heavy, before the vocals come in, which are nothing too out of the ordinary, though they are nice, aggressively shouty vocals. Musically Sarabante provide a tight attack, providing some speedy aggressive melodies and even showing a bit of variation during the slower mid-section, ‘Our Day of Torment (Here & Now)’ in particular showing the band drawing on influences from further afield such as Neurosis.
The production’s not always perfect, and the backing vocals, particularly on closing track ‘Do You Feel Safe?‘ seem barely audible amongst the maelstrom, but the overall quality shines through and Sarabante provide an enjoyable d-beat romp. ‘Remnants’ is 34 politically-fuelled minutes seething with rage and anger, particularly given recent events in Greece, and there’s sure to be plenty of coals to stoke the fire further down the line. A solid debut offering overall, and under Southern Lord, there’s sure to be plenty to hear from this band in the future.
Peter Clegg


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Sarabante official blog (translated to English)
Bandcamp

Review Roundup: †††/Moloch/Obsessor

††† (Crosses)
EP
First up in this review round-up, an out-of-the-blue EP offering from  ††† (or verbally, Crosses), featuring Deftones’ Chino Moreno and Far’s Shaun Lopez teaming up for some electronic rock that’s not too far away from Chino’s previous side-project Team Sleep. The result is five tracks of mostly beat-driven music, with some occasional guitar flourishes, with Chino’s trademark vocals all over everything but the closing instrumental, ‘†’.
Although Chino’s presence doesn’t help this stand out much from his major concern, the EP’s fairly enjoyable as a whole, without bringing anything new to the fore. There’s some an occasional eeriness about one or two of the beats, particularly opener ‘†his Is a †rick’, but there’s some great moments embedded in here as well – I can imagine ‘Op†ion’ sticking around on my MP3 player for a while – although it’s not quite enough to get the pulse racing. It’s more of a grower than an instant hit, and again, it’s not diverse enough to stand out from anything Chino has done with Deftones. But give it time, you might well be pleasantly surprised. It’s available for your e-mail address, and was released somewhat unexpectedly – so free of that hype, go ahead and delve in.

Moloch
Possession
Vendetta
Nottingham’s Moloch’s tortured sludge-doom assault returns here for a full-length comprising just four songs. They play the kind of doom with that same nihilistic stench played and perfected by such modern day peers as Thou and legends of misery like Grief. The first couple find a groove amongst the distortion and screams, particularly ‘Delusions’, which is a sweet jam with a riff rich in Southern tradition. ‘Heinrich’, the album’s longest track, features a b-movie sample the likes of which various sludge bands have used in the past and Moloch aren’t above that. It’s designed to be unsettling and those lady’s screams do just that. Overall, it’s a solid debut full-length, even though at four tracks it’s not much longer than their previous EP releases. UK sludge/doom is safe hands with Moloch and others on the scene continue to unleash the filth on this scale.

Obsessor
Obsession EP
Tankcrimes
Finally in this roundup, some crusty-thrash from Obsessor, which features former Municipal Waste member Brandon Farrell. This EP comprises just two tracks and is over too fast, but it’s excellent stuff that bodes well for this band’s future. It’s very much in the vein of bands like Discharge, earlier Corrosion of Conformity, etc., and the production sounds a little low-rent but captures the rawness of this band brilliantly and even gives off a Celtic Frost vibe. Either way, it doesn’t detract from this taster of what Obsessor have to offer. If they can keep cracking out tracks like ‘Underworld’ and ‘Obsession’ on future, longer releases, I can’t see any reason why they can’t carve out a name for themselves. What’s more, Tankcrimes are offering this EP as a free download – so you’ve no excuse not to check them out.
Peter Clegg
 

Room for One More: The Nook Brewhouse Berry Blond

This is another new feature I’ve decided to bring to the blog which isn’t really anything musically at all. That said, rock and metal go hand in hand with beer and by that, I mean real ale. None of that pithy lager stuff – real beer! And I was so impressed by this particular one t’other day, it has inspired me to write about it here and give it, and its brewery, some well deserved attention. With all that said, welcome to Room for One More!
The Nook Brewhouse is a family-run, five-barrel microbrewery based on the site of an 18th century brewery beside the River Ribble, right in the heart of Holmfirth in West Yorkshire. It’s a brewhouse and not a brewery, as they mainly sell their fine ales in the attached pub, The Nook, otherwise known as The Rose & Crown. They only started up in the summer of 2009 but by jingo, they’ve made fantastic progress already and their beer is top notch.

I live a busy live, particularly with twins on the way, so I’ve not got out to the Nook Brewhouse at all. That must change at some point, but that’s for another day. Hence, my access has seemingly been restricted to their appearances at the Huddersfield Food & Drink Festival. I seem to remember their Red & Blond bottled ales for sale in 2010, but at this year’s fest (which took place this past weekend), they were selling the beer on tap as well. And it was the Berry Blond that caught my eye. I didn’t even seek to ask what it was like – I’m not the sort who seeks to muse over the details when all I’m after is a drink – but what was to come upon ordering that pint was incredible.
The Berry Blond is a raspberry-tinged blond ale, with an ABV of 4.5%. What hit me the moment the drink hit my tongue was simply fantastic. I was already in jovial mood – the festival itself has a fantastic atmosphere that you can’t help but lap up – and that drink sent me overboard. The flavours were so perfectly balanced, that those raspberry overtones didn’t overtake the whole drink. It still tasted like a real ale, and one with bags of flavour. And I was soon recommended it to my brother and raving about it with glee. It didn’t last long enough – I’m not sure if that’s simply cos it went down easy or what, but I certainly wasn’t necking it. Whatever. I think a case or two of this stuff is in order.
I’ve also tried the aforementioned Red and Blond varieties, the Red being more of a chestnutty ale with a fruity aroma and some malty overtones – a tasty one too, as far as I remember – while the Blond is just fantastic, more of a wheat beer and an award winner at that. I’d explain further but I’m not too cracking at describing ale in such terms yet – I’d rather just say it’s a bloody good drink and worthy of your gullet, and indeed your wallet.
The Nook Brewhouse’s official site has these varieties and more for sale in their online store. Do local brewers a favour, check these guys out and spread the word.
Peter Clegg
NB: The next time I try out such a pint, I’ll try and make sure I get a picture of said drink, instead of raving about how great it is!