Fuck The Facts, Gets Worse, Pine Barrens and Death Tripper at the Kraak Manchester

CLDH’s review of the recent Fuck The Facts show in Manchester is now up! Read it here

CLDH

Like a fistful of broken glass this line up promised to be savage, with premium disciples of grind travelling from near and far to the Kraak Gallery in Manchester. I decided to prepare by arriving early and pretending to help with load in, but then I sat in the baking sun by the small alley entrance to the Kraak, which smelt faintly of bins and piss, drinking two litres of Taurus before Death Tripper started.

The band from Nottingham, are an assault of thick tight groove over a barrages of percussion. There is the usual chaotic element of grind but their distinction is simplistic thrashed out punk riffs and downbeat that slows down into realms of sludgery. These are the moments which stand out with visceral crawling broken down aggression and torn vocals. It’s a shame there weren’t greater numbers present at this point but you wouldn’t have know that…

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Arbor Lights – Hatherton Lake

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Arbor Lights
Hatherton Lake

It seems post-rock is doing a roaring trade at the moment – almost exclusively the reflective underbelly of all that is rock, always potentially at risk from the mainstream, but always self-aware so as never to expose it too much. An almost never-ending cycle that always births new talent, and in that regard, we come to Arbor Lights, a Birmingham quartet who recently released their first full-length album ‘Hatherton Lake‘. It’s their most ambitious release to date, with song lengths generally longer than their shorter releases. Sadly, I didn’t find this album to be particularly excellent – it seems to take time to really get going and with only five songs that doesn’t really allow for proceedings to begin modestly and without anything to really stand out. It does do well in places as it progresses, especially on the closing section to ‘Silhouettes’, which opens up at the end like the bluest sky to emerge from the blackest storm, and the centrepiece, ‘Damascus’, every bit as beautiful over its dozen minutes, and the closing ‘The Mayor and the Diver’, which possesses much more drive in contrast to much of ‘Hatherton Lake‘s delicacy.

I suppose despite some well crafted instrumentation the whole thing has got to be taking me somewhere in my head – something at this stage in which I’m not finding enough distraction in this band. Still, it’s not a wholly bad thing I don’t enjoy everything about this record – Arbor Lights are clearly a band with potential and I’d be foolhardy to suggest something completely stunning isn’t hidden away in their locker, which if they continue to work hard, their labours will surely come to fruition.

Peter Clegg

Buy/download ‘Hatherton Lake‘ here (name-your-price/limited CD)
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Interview: Ginger Wildheart

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We here at We Must Obey have not been immune to discussing the state of the British rock scene, and particularly when linked to the state of the mainstream rock press in this country. It therefore didn’t go unnoticed when Ginger Wildheart, a true stalwart of British rock music for the last 25 years, had a good few choice tweets aimed at lazy journalists and bands alike. Needless to say, when the main man behind The Wildhearts/ Hey! Hello!/Silver Ginger 5/Sonic Circus et al, put out an open invitation to answer questions on the matter, we seized the opportunity. To prove we’re not shy of the subject, we put some questions to Ginger to further discuss these points. Expect raw honesty and unflinching dialogue as we get into what angers Ginger most about how things operate within the scene today.

Do you think there is still a limited understanding of new models of releasing music, e.g. PledgeMusic, Bandcamp, Kickstarter, that is present in music media today?

Absolutely. People using Pledge sometimes think it’s a shortcut to making fans and an alternative to putting in the hard graft needed to fully establish your band. It’s not, it’s a pre-order scheme. You work to your numbers.

And people using Kickstarter sometime assume that it’s a charity from which huge donations arrive to pay for you to be a rock star. Both approaches are wildly inaccurate and certain career termination for the uninitiated. Bandcamp, Soundcloud etc, can also be misleading as bands sometimes mistake bedroom recordings, fit for the ears of friends only, to be a magic carpet to international success. Beginner demos shouldn’t be sent out to people who can help you. Play them to your friends and let them choose the best songs to record at a high enough standard to be presented. 

How, in your opinion, has coverage of British rock music in the mainstream rock media changed since the 90’s?

Yes, about 100%. Media coverage is an utter sham these days. Too many editors have their heads in their arses, while trying desperately to insert their heads in the arses of the dozen big bands they favour. Magazines in the 90’s used to actually make bands and scenes a success due to their tireless support. These days it feels like the love has gone and been replaced by paranoia. The modern rock media plays it so safe today that I, for one, will be toasting their demise with the same glee that I celebrated the death of fat, greedy, clueless record labels.
 
You attribute ‘lazy journalists’ as one cause of the decline in interest in underground music – please discuss further

Journalists aren’t getting out to enough smaller gigs, therefore the underground live circuit is suffering, and small bands are finding it harder and harder to get noticed unless they start dressing up in identikit clothes and accessories, like neck tattoos and flick fringe haircuts. Magazines should be championing bands that pride themselves on being unique and celebrating difference instead of pushing bands into a desired sound and shape. I blame the editors and advertisers, but journalists should also be actively pushing bands that deserve a break. It is, after all, their future too. 

Its fair to say the internet has changed the way we discover new artists, but do you feel this is for better or worse?

The internet has just made things easier, which isn’t always better. Bands need to work harder than just sending bedroom standard recordings around and hoping for the best. Get out and play, and if your audience is small then fucking work harder. Bleed. Break yourself. Make a difference and make people take notice. Don’t be just another link to another lame version of a song that hasn’t been played live enough. Be killer live or consider another vocation. 

The time for pussyfooting around is over. You need to keep your scene alive or you won’t have one. 

Hey! Hello! – How I Survived The Punk Wars (official video)

The track ‘How I Survived The Punk Wars’ was an authoritative warning to bands not prepared to put in honest work for their success. Do you think such bands are as much to blame as the magazines, the blogs, the internet as a whole, etc. that cover them?

I dislike laziness in any form, whether it’s bands, journalists, radio or even artwork. It’s as if people are content to be merely better than the worst thing around. That just isn’t good enough. You have to work to be the BEST, full stop. You need to be better than Foo Fighters not just better than Cider Joe And The Carpet Smugglers.

Where do you see underground music heading without some sort of intervention?

Without some passion, invention and support it’s over. Plain and simple. Now don’t get me wrong, I believe that all these things exist in abundance, but no-one should forget that these are the essential ingredients needed to float this boat, and without all three you are effectively starving the scene of colour and quality. Underground music needs a community, otherwise it’ll lose the power it needs to get attention and change people’s fortunes. Starve it and you starve yourself. 

And where do you believe things need to change?

Bigger bands and artists need to do their homework. Discover and take small bands out with them. Listen to your fans for what is going on in tiny venues. Magazines and radio need to devote more time and space to promoting small bands. Like I said it’s their future too. And smaller bands need to work harder to kick arse and make this happen. No one is going to get excited by deadbeat bands that all sound the same, y’know? Copy your record collection, and if you still sound like everyone else then you need a better record collection. 

Do you believe the success of PledgeMusic releases, including ‘555%/100%’, point the way forward as a future model of releasing music and generating income for artists?

Only if they have an already existing fan base, otherwise they’re trying to eat before they’ve worked for the money to buy food. Be smart, work hard, get dirty.

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Finally, going back to your music, you’re busy touring with Courtney Love as well as promoting the Hey! Hello! and Mutation releases – what else do you have planned ahead in your busy schedule?

When I get home from this, incidentally amazing tour, we take the Ginger Wildheart Band into the studio for our first proper album together, which I hope is going to really change the way people approach rock albums. Me included. I hope to really raise the bar on every level with this one. Then I’d like to write and record an acoustic album, something that people have been asking me about for years. 

After that who knows? All I can tell you is that I don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon. This is my time and I plan on using it well.

I’d like to personally thank Ginger for answering my questions. Hey! Hello!’s self-titled debut album is now available at iTunes.

Peter Clegg

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Woe – Withdrawal

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Woe
Withdrawal
Candlelight

After riding as a solo machine for the first few years, Philly black metal crew Woe return with new album ‘Withdrawal‘, the first album to feature a full band as opposed to Chris Grigg, previously all things Woe, and the sum of their collective parts marks a significant improvement in their delivery. Its not groundbreaking, but by and large ‘Withdrawal’ is the best album the Philadelphia crew have put out to date. Its doesn’t feel as grim or as caustic as your average black metal album, perhaps due to the clean, thunderous production from Grigg and mastering from Colin Marston, perhaps due to the band’s willingness to dip a toe outside of the genre’s waters; but for the most part Woe crack through these songs. The excellent ‘Carried by Waves to Remorseless Shores of the Truth’ and ‘All Bridges Burned’ are prime displays of raw power and finesse, and yet display a new found catchiness that doesn’t signify their signature sound being sacrificed, more enhanced for it, with the majority of ‘Withdrawal’ riding along mercilessly on galloping hooves of thunder. The title track is the only let down, featuring right at the end and coming in slightly shorter in comparison to the other tracks, with a bit of a weak layered lead riff closing out the album, leaving it feel slightly rushed. But the USBM hydra is continuing to grow many more heads, and Woe are just another one of them as it continues its rise to tyranny across the US scene.

Peter Clegg

Buy ‘Withdrawal‘ here
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Megadeth – Super Collider

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Megadeth
Super Collider
Tradecraft/Universal

Poor Dave Mustaine. He just can’t win, can he? Whether it’s his dispatch from Metallica gnawing away, to his gripes with ‘Satanic’ bands, or even when Megadeth are truly on top of their game, it seems people have always got their crosshairs trained to him, wanting to shine one more laser in his eyes. Having read a lot of stuff from the metal TMZs of this world, it feels like recent reviews for new album ‘Super Collider‘ have not been entirely because it’s perceived lack of quality, but rather for Dave Mustaine’s recent outspoken political views which have caused more than a few ripples in the metal scene. I have to therefore disagree with certain reviewers simply on the notion that hating the man doesn’t justify hating his game. Thus, ‘Super Collider‘ is best judged on its own merits. Mustaine is clearly not aiming for ‘Rust in Peace II’ or a definitive sequel to ‘Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying?‘ Nor is this a return to ‘Endgame‘, the last truly awesome Megadeth album in my opinion. But is it really as bad as the massive metal flopper that was ‘Risk‘?

Heck no. This isn’t a masterpiece by any stretch but for the most part, it’s actually an enjoyable juxtaposition between classic thrash-tinged heavy metal and a classic hard rock that we all know Mustaine loves very much. ‘Kingmaker’ is evident of this as it opens proceeding, grooving and chugging along in swaggering fashion, while ‘Dance in the Rain’ could have been written about Edward Snowden, as it details ‘the powers that be will never win/a storm is coming, so get ready/to dance in the rain‘. It’s the high point of the album, a lurking melo-groover at first because morphing into classic Megadeth territory as Disturbed/Device’s David Draiman comes along to  denounce the US government and CIA in a surprisingly great turn as a moonlighting classic heavy metal vocalist, and ‘Don’t Turn Your Back’ features one hell of a vocal hook.

It doesn’t all come up roses – the title track, while well constructed and by no means the worst attempt at stadium rock, its unfortunately not bereft of any lyrical cheese, and as such it’s rather a millstone compared to much of the rest of the album. ‘The Blackest Crow’ is  clumsy in its attempt to country-fy the ‘Deth sound, while ‘Burn!’ is the umpteenth song about motorcycles he’s written and its pretty tiresome. and too much of the rest of the album seems to go along doing OK but not standing out significantly to make any real impact on my ears. But really, an abject failure? Hardly. Mustaine’s 51 now. Do you really envisage him wanting to make a pure thrash album ever again? You can’t blame him for making the album he and Megadeth want, rather than catering to fans’ – and detractors’ – lofty expectations all the time. So he’s gone the mainstream route again. Let’s at least respect him for being daring and not trying to recreate his former glories in potentially tragic failure.

Peter Clegg

Megadeth – Dance in the Rain

Buy ‘Super Collider‘ here

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Sick/Tired – King of Dirt 12″

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Sick/Tired
King of Dirt 12”
Cowabunga

Grind is a highly convoluted scene, with so many bands to choose from, each attempting to be faster, harder, indeed grindier. One band doing well at that is Sick/Tired, who I’ve had my eye on for some time. Featuring members of MK Ultra and Weekend Nachos, who’ve been relatively prolific in their early days, have now putting out their first full-length/12”, ‘King of Dirt’. And it doesn’t disappoint, blasting away with intensity but not afraid to get involved in some grooves. It gets off to a corking start with ‘Corrosive Outburst/Anointed’ being one of the undoubted highlights, as it shifts from the former into the latter with ease, showing they know a good riff or two when not going full speed. Later they go full pelt into a cover of the early Corrosion of Conformity song ‘Rabid Dogs’, and ‘Who Cares?’ is another prime example of how to open with a slow riff before sawing the listener’s face off. Whether they’re going fast or occasionally slow, ‘King of Dirt’ feels like the culmination of the best bits of their shorter releases being gathered together to form one mighty slap across the chops. Lovely jubbly.

Peter Clegg

Download ‘King of Dirt’ here (name-your-price)
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