Yes. Hell yeeeees. It’s always an exciting time when a new demo comes to light, and particularly that anticipation that beneath it lays your new favourite band. Enter Leeds’ Night Stalker. As well as proving its Yorkshire who ought to have independence, given how good our great county is at just about anything, their six-track demo is a blazing ‘hello arseholes’ to anyone looking their way. It’s hardcore punk along tried and tested lyrical lines – non-conformism, religion, sheeple being three such examples – but it does so dancing all over you with it. The opening couple of tracks are full on hardcore punk rippers, both as uncompromising in snarl as each other, but the next couple of tracks, including the brilliant ‘Staring At You’, are cracking riff worshippers, showing that this band do have another gear. There’s a brilliant old-school 80’s hardcore stench lingering all over this demo, evocative of Poison Idea at times, and that’s a good thing. Night Stalker aren’t the first band to do this – they’re just the latest to show their class with it. And what’s more, it’s free, so you have no excuse not to grab yourselves a copy and give yourselves a damn near quarter hour of raging causticity.
Download ‘Demo 2014’ here (free download)
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Voices in a Rented Room
What’s this, I hear you say? An acoustic review on We Must Obey? Preposterous! In actual fact, when I started up We Must Obey I promised a few swerveballs to our usual metal, hardcore, sludge, grind, doom etc. coverage. These have largely been in the vein of pop-punk bands like Bowling For Soup and even video game metal – largely thanks to the brilliant Metroid Metal. I can’t recall ever dedicating time exclusively to an acoustic album – browse through the archives and see if you can find one if you wish – but in any event, I decided to take a punt when the PR machine landed this in my inbox.
New Bums are a duo consisting of Ben Chasny (of Six Organs) and Donovan Quinn (of Skygreen Leopards, Comets on Fire and more). Their alliance was allegedly a grudging one initially, but like Alexandr Zubkov and Alexey Ivanovich Voyevoda, the Russian bobsledding team who won gold despite apparently hating one another and not talking to one another prior to victory, New Bums prove to be an intriguing combination, if not quite worthy of a gold medal like the Russian sliders. ‘Voices in a Rented Room’ is the pair’s debut full-length, culled from five years together, following a career forged in ‘freak folk’ and its aftermath. It proves to be an moderately satisfactory if not wholly essential collection of songs drenched in the haze of folky America, the lonely motel room referred to in the album title every bit evocative in the introductory ‘Black Bough’ a forlorn but catchy track with slightly haunting overtones. They do stand out when there’s a bit of attitude to their sound; the cautionary ‘Pigeon Town’ proclaims that ‘you’ll only get fucked’ there. The single ‘The Killers and Me’ is awesome, a ghostly throwback to dark American country; while ‘Your BS’ is backed by the only percussion on the album, throwing in an electric lead amidst a chunky and satisfying lead riff.
I’m not going to judge on how effective the combination of Chasny and Quinn works when they’re both singing together – I’ve seen other critics pick up on that but when one of the last records you reviewed consisted of gory tech-death metal tunes, such intricacies are slightly lost on me, to be perfectly honest. There’s a few occasions where the sound gets a little distorted, like there’s a bit too much going on, and not every track truly does it for me – the more memorable tracks tend to be the catchier ones, such as the aforementioned tracks, plus ‘It’s The Way’ and ‘Mother’s Favorite Hated Son’. Don’t expect reinvention of the wheel here, but open up to New Bums’ run down motel jams and you might find enjoyment here.
New Bums – The Killers and Me (official video)
Buy ‘Voices in a Rented Room’ here
Burning World/Black Bow
The world is in a dark and monstrous place at the moment. The crises in the East are indicative of trouble ahead. A deep sense of foreboding and hostility has engulfed much of the Northern hemisphere and one can only hope that these people bang their heads together and diffuse the powderkeg that’s blatantly waiting to go off. I don’t wish to politicise this particular album, because it certainly isn’t that. But while listening to ‘Psychonauts’, the fourth track from Londoners Bast’s debut album ‘Spectres’, there was an undeniable tension as I listened to the track building, with the bass and the rumbling beat of the drums ratcheting up my senses as I read the sensationalised headlines in front of me.
Pulling myself back out of such matters, ‘Spectres’ is proof of how UK doom is flourishing. Acts like Bong and Conan (to name two) are showing our country is just as good in unleashing all manner of long droning riffs, thunderously low grooves and sometimes tempos so slow a sloth could outrun them, than the prolific number of acts from the US and from Europe. Bast aren’t anywhere as droning as Bong or groovesome as Liverpudlians Conan (whose Jon Davis has put out ‘Spectres’ as his new label Black Bow Records’ debut release, alongside Dutch label Burning World). They instead focus on melding other genres, chiefly black metal, into their mix. The opening track ‘In The Beginning’ presents them in blackened territory as they speed along before hitting the brakes in the closing half of the song, closing it out with some chunky slow riffing, which they take into the next song, ‘Denizens’. This one creeps along with impressive cavernous trepidation before exploding into a phenomenal depressive black metal section and subsequently simmering back into apocalyptic doom again. The aforementioned ‘Psychonauts’ brilliantly plays out with Neurosis-style build-up before reaching a post-rock crescendo in dramatic circumstances, while the finishing track starts off with a bleak doom riff before finishing ten minutes later with wild riffing and solo worship. Put simply, Bast are the latest strong addition to the UK’s growing army of doom, with a sound more varied than most, and in ‘Spectres’, creating an album that surely deserves not to fall on deaf ears.
Buy ‘Spectres’ via Burning World, or via Black Bow
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Clubbed Hands and a Fistful of Snakes
Marking their first release in five years, sixteen years after first forming, veteran sewer dwellers Gilla Bruja return with five more tracks of violent Southern-fried noise, and in doing so, proving that time has not tamed them. As the opening track, ‘Goat Bothering for Beginners/The Saintless Tainted Throb’, builds in with the distorted movie sample and the loud wall of feedback that gradually crescendoes, the noise unleashed by the band is unsurprisingly, but most definitely, thick, heavy, brutal sludge, the kind that long time followers of Gilla Bruja will surely recognise. It’s violent, it chugs, and it most definitely is loud, falling somewhere between Buzzov*men’s bile, Crowbar’s groove, ‘Southern Trendkill‘-era Pantera. The third track ‘Another Predawn Trauma Hangover’s Terrible Wrath and the House Fire it Spawned’ throws in a hardcore punk section before slowing into thudding territory again, and throughout their vocalist makes one hell of a din. It’s got that enjoyable old-school, even B-movie horror feel running through its veins, and if you didn’t check out this band before they disappeared for a while, they’re definitely a band you should check out now. This release is unquestionably one you should play very loud to feel every gouge and every rasp.
Buy/download ‘Clubbed Hands and a Fistful of Snakes‘ here
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