We’ve covered seemingly countless excellent Scottish bands on this blog who produce no end of audio atrocities that feel like a venerable wake-up call each time they come along – whether its been noise rockers like Fat Janitor, or death metallers like Cancerous Womb or Man Must Die. Yet its grindcore and powerviolence that seem to be one of the Scottish underground’s consistently excellent streams, having previously delivered gold with the likes of Wheelchair Wheelchair Wheelchair Wheelchair, xHaroldShitmanx, Sufferinfuck, in fact, all manner of disgustingly named bands have spewed forth from that area. Glasgow’s Gunfinger might not sound particularly wretchy, but their s/t EP is a blast of powerviolence that serves up as a reminder of the power that Western Scotland seems to hold right now.
This particularly record starts off with an intro to build up to the sonic violence that’s about to go down, and for the next few minutes they provide some razor sharp riffs and culpable rage on songs such as ‘Great with Words’ and the brilliantly named ‘Glasgow Pecker Violence’. Curiously, it finishes with ‘It Is A Sin to Kill a Mockingbird’, a six-minute plus sludge track riffed underneath Atticus Finch’s speech to the jury in ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’. There is no doubting what a classic film that is and indeed what a classic character Finch is. And it feels like a fitting and nice way to finish an explosive album, though I feel Finch’s character is so great it carries much more weight than the music itself.
Still, Gunfinger are a fine addition to come from the Scottish extreme scene, and have followed up on the ‘Youth Disillusionment’ demo predictably well. This is available as a name-your-price download direct from the band’s Bandcamp page, so don’t you dare miss out on this wee bit of tartan terror.
Buy/download ‘Gunfinger’ here
Stream it below:
The Dry Season
Ohio’s Vit have stewed on ‘The Dry Season’ for a little while – the demos for this record were originally put out in December 2011, but only now has Vit decided to make it a full release after signing with Handshake Inc. And on the evidence of this record, they don’t seem exactly sure what they want to be – hyperblasting, or hyperslow? But that’s not a detrimental thing in this case, as they showcase all their abilities supremely. The first couple of tracks straddle the blackened doom line and ‘Sixteen Bodies’ is pure doom at its heaviest and most crushing. Every stomp of this nine-minute plus beast is thunderous and evokes Morbid Angel and Grief at their slowest. It’s a slight culture shock with the relatively melodic title-track rearing up after that onslaught, though it still sits comfortably within slow parameters.
Its ‘The Dry Season’s closing pair that really turn things on its head, going from one tempo extreme to another as it morphs into a more primal black metal beast during its third track, ‘A Hymn of Benediction’, which thrashes away with a nod to the genre’s Norwegian heritage, before the violins start up, courtesy of Johan Becker (from Chicago black metallers Austaras). He fiddles away while the tempo of the hymn itself refuses to relent, getting faster and faster until it reaches a crashing finale. Its quite appropriate after that storm that ‘… and the Rain That Soon Followed’ should come to wash over precedings. Vit’s labelmate A. Lundr, aka Panopticon, he of 2012’s wonderful ‘Kentucky’, brings forth his multi-faceted talents, armed with a resonator guitar and a banjo, with another delightful nod to the classic sound of the American marshes and swamps, as rain does indeed fall over the track. Vit are a band of many faces, all of which have great treasures to show for it.
Buy ‘The Dry Season’ here (name-your-price)
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Last year saw Baltimore’s hybrid noise/punk/rock machine Dope Body emerge amidst a hail of smoke and luminance as they came into further consciousness following the thoroughly brilliant and diverse ‘Natural History’, which showcased dazzling guitar work, foot to the floor rock anthems with punk rock intensity and hip-swaggering joy. I caught a bit of them live when they toured the UK last October, and though I only saw three songs, it proved what a phenomenal act they are in the making.
‘Saturday’, a 7” single, is the first new material to emerge from the band since that album. The A side features ‘Leather Head’, a song they’ve been wheeling out live up to now; a brooding track riding a bass-driven pulse and a primal beat before jumping into a refrain of ‘could’ve been anybody/should’ve been nobody’. If this track was an animal, it’d be a panther, its slinky dark body stalking its prey in the shadows of the night, before racing out for a swift kill. Conversely, the B-side ‘Youth Relic’, is much like the Dope Body of ‘Natural History’, beginning a little like ‘Road Dog’ with a build-up on the hi-hat, crescendoing with more sonic fireworks from the supremely talented Zachary Utz.
‘Saturday’ drops on Monday 18 th March through Drag City, and this feral beast keeps on kerb-crawling through the night. I’ll be well pleased if this confirms a new album for this year, as right now I can’t tire of this band. This release might not be the joyous celebration that was ‘Natural History’, nor the skronk-punk days of old, but it’s a super fine morsel of meat to savour for now.
Dope Body – Youth Relic/Saturday promo
Pre-order ‘Saturday’ 7” here
The Bronx (IV)
When I read the blurb about The Bronx shifting from their hardcore/punk roots to a more ‘polished hard rock’ sound, I was a tiny bit concerned. After all, they’d made three albums and an EP in their original style and their raucous punk n’ roll is what made them what they are – aside from a flamboyant mariachi band with is what these also achieved with aplomb in Mariachi El Bronx. Well, after listening to their fourth – you guessed it…self-titled album, I have to question what on earth was I concerned about? They haven’t made the biggest shift –they’ve simply modified their sound a little and its as refreshing as it is still gloriously raucous. After running with their body-shaking salsa for two albums in a row, its great to see them going back to their main musical personalities – but The Bronx in 2013 are an altogether reinvigorated beast, and ‘IV’ is not what I’d call polished, still retaining its punk verve but adding is monstrously heavy, yet melodic and triumphant dimension, seemingly transferring to their new skin in a glorious blaze of concrete riffs and victorious refrains.
It’s a whole new set of Bronx anthems that are begging for live treatment. ‘Along For the Ride’, featuring a corking chorus including the line ‘we used to control the world/but now that’s died/now we’re just along for the ride’. Then there’s ‘Style Over Everything, in which Matt Caughthran proclaims ‘I shoot to kill, I don’t fuck around!‘ – so many memorable lines to quote, too numerous to list. Even the slightest shift to a harder edged sound hasn’t altered The Bronx’s dynamic too much, with the rest of the band conjuring frequently stomping riffs between them. The only real changes in pace are ‘Torches’, which could be a Mariachi el Bronx song but for its soaring and righteous chorus, and ‘Life Less Ordinary’ which provides the only restraint from the heavy hitting action, the two guitarists going lo-fi over Caughthran’s sublime croon, before firing up the burners one last time for ‘Last Revelation’.
So there it is. Whatever was I concerned about? Here is a band fresher for submitting to the charms of Mexico, back to wreak joyous punk rock havoc in our lives once again. The Bronx may be a little bit older, a little bit wiser, and a little bit more refined, yet no less of an animal. It’s a beautiful relationship.
The Bronx – Ribcage
Buy ‘The Bronx (IV)’ here
The Cycle Will Cease to End
Black Veins emerged from the catacombs of the UK underground last year with a frankly brilliant five-track EP entitled ‘…And Hell Followed’, evoking the classic styles of Converge, Napalm Death and the like with a blistering twelve-minute barrage. They have returned again with a new six-track called ‘The Cycle Will Cease to End’, which marks the progress the band have made over the last year. The band still come out of the traps flying when necessary, but when they hit the brakes they plough into some fantastic sludgy territory – such as on ‘Stone Sun’ –and their will to evolve (if only slightly) is evident on the combined ‘The Cruel Mind of Man/Through the Depths of Reality’, the former building up with trepidation, before the band leap back into one final assault on the eardrums after the switchover.
This won’t be the only action from Black Veins this year, as they have a forthcoming split with Narratives, also through Speedowax Records, coming out later in the year, in a Europe-only release. And I expect they’ll continue a fine pedigree too – sure, Birmingham didn’t invent grind like it did metal – but like metal, it produced its defining act. Black Veins are following a well worn path, but ultimately on the right road of pain and doom.
Buy/download ‘The Cycle Will Cease to End’ here (name-your-price)
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Devious Persecution and Wholesale Slaughter
Did you know that P.L.F used to stand for Pretty Little Flower? Me neither. Not the most brutal name a deathgrind band could give itself. But beyond that dainty moniker – since changed to Pulverizing Lethal Force – there ain’t nothing quaint about the Houston, Texas crew or their sixth album ‘Devious Persecution and Wholesale Slaughter’. Indeed, this record hits you like a massive slap in the face right from the off, blasting and grinding its way through 14 tracks of no-nonsense intensity. I don’t have to say much about this record, other than that if songs like ‘Grinder of Fools’ and ‘Dissolution of Human Rights Part 4’ are anything to go by, then P.L.F have got their shit nailed down tight. They have ex-Phobia/Gridlink/Kill the Client drummer Bryan Fajano in their ranks, and he is a beast on the kit behind the rest of the band. It’s fairly short but at fourteen songs averaging a least a minute if not more, there’s plenty of gunpowder in this cannon to lose yourself to. Its a fair bit samey in places but with plenty of shifting between blasting and thrashy riffing it comfortably avoids dropping into stale territory. Wake up and smell the greenery, this is a phenomenal grind bomb, go get yourself some now.
Buy ‘Devious Persecution and Wholesale Slaughter‘ here
It’s Valentine’s Day, and to celebrate, Hey! Hello!, the new project by The Wildhearts and all round solo genius Ginger and Victoria Liedtke, have presented a Valentine’s Day gift with a name-your-price download of the track ‘Black Valentine’. As usual, it’s a quality pop rock gem with great interchanging vocals between the two. But be quick, it’s for a limited time only and won’t be as cheap as you like forever! Head here for the catch.
‘Black Valentine’ is taken from the forthcoming album ‘Hey! Hello!‘, which will be released soon through PledgeMusic. Any of you non-pledgers will be interested to hear a commercial release of the album is to come in April. More info via Hey! Hello!’s Bandcamp page.