Fange – Poisse

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Fange
Poisse
Cold Dark Matter

Fange are a trio from Rennes, France, specializing in dirty, harsh, downtuned sludge, with ‘Poisse’, their debut release, exemplifying what you’d expect to hear from a band of such description – indeed the amount of quality sludge and doom I’ve already heard this year is meaning have to really pore through the fibres of each release. ‘Poisse’, I’m pleased to say, is among the better ones. They feature drummer Baptiste Gautier-Lorenzo (of Brain Pyramid) in their line-up, but this is far from the psychedelic retro worship of that band, and instead what they do is in no way trippy or upbeat. Fange are jarring, viscous and thoroughly oppressive in nature, striding firmly amidst stomach-churning riffage and noise elements. They do nod to certain allowances of atmosphere (the awesome feedback/noise intro to ‘Cloches Fendues’ sets the tone brilliantly), while the start of ‘Ammoniac’ sets off on a ripping hardcore punk tangent before settling back into what the band does best. And they do it really well – it’s not original (not much is these days) but its succeeds in creating a downtrodden vibe. The band’s name translates as ‘mire’, which is quite appropriate considering the depth of groove, fuzz and snarl, amidst a swirling brew of discordant aggravation existing in the interminable void they create. Check out the stream below and enjoy some of the harshest noise to come from over the Channel.

<p style="text-align:right;”>Peter Clegg

Buy/download ‘Poisse’ here (name-your-price download/limited CD)
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Megalodoom – Tectonic Oblivion

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Megalodoom
Tectonic Oblivion
Witch Hunter

Some records are so heavy, you feel the weight of their delivery in your ears. Megalodoom’s ‘Tectonic Oblivion‘, quite appropriately, will do just that. Having previously impressed with their demo jam ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of Grief‘ (later properly released through Tartarus Records), their debut EP, recently released through Witch Hunter Records, sees them truly accomplish what you’d expect from a band whose mantra is ‘No words. Just riffs‘. The opening track ‘Polar Vortex’ sounds just evil, in an ominous, Sabbathian way, but such is the boom coming out of every groove from the low end of the guitars and the thunderous bass that it isn’t just a superlative. And as the EP progresses, the Nottingham quartet show they’ve not just enhanced their ability to drag out a riff without losing its appeal, but also to create moments of such cacophony that they might well register on the Richter scale. The opening rumbles of ‘Sword of the Spirit’, the longest track here, are slightly reminiscent of High on Fire or Grief before they throw in another truly monstrous and devastating riff. The superb production ensures Megalodoom’s quaking delivery is pushed to the fore – overall ‘Tectonic Oblivion’ is another fantastic release that should belonging in your already bulging collection and confirms Megalodoom’s belonging in this frankly stupendous stoner/sludge/doom scene we have on these shores.

Peter Clegg

Buy/download ‘Tectonic Oblivion‘ here (name-your-price)
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Employed to Serve – Change Nothing, Regret Everything

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Employed to Serve
Change Nothing, Regret Everything
Holy Roar

Employed to Serve first emerged onto the scene in 2012 with the release of ‘Long Time Dead’, but it wasn’t until their second EP ‘Counting Crows’ and a subsequent announcement for ‘Kin Hell Fest 2014 that they arrived to my attention. The release of ‘Change Nothing, Regret Everything’ continues upon the very trail they’ve blazed for themselves. If there is such a thing as a title for best up and coming band right now, Employed to Serve are striving for it and then some. 

In contrast to their earliest release, ‘Change Nothing’ focuses less on the melodic aspect of their sound and more on all out brittled rage. Overall these six tracks are shorter and showcase a monstrous, strident beast lurking deep within this lot, now a full blown quartet after starting life with just founder members Justine Jones – who is furious as a vocalist, her chaotic roar sounding just as intense as I imagine Employed to Serve are a crazy act to watch live – and Sammy Unwin (he of Regurgitate Life/Oblivionized), who here delivers more bludgeoning riffs with some occasional technical flair. It’s hard not to want to go apeshit listening to this band, and this record in particular. A band like this should make you want to flip out and destroy things. Listening to tracks such as ‘No One’s Child’ and ‘Heavy Limbs’, this ticks every box in that department and thus pleases me greatly.

Influence wise, this release marks Employed to Serve close enough to the likes of The Dillinger Escape Plan and Agoraphobic Nosebleed, but this is a band who are carving an opening for themselves, showing their varied sound over the course of three releases. Just that this is easily their most formidable and frenzied yet. A full length is in the offing and it surely it won’t be long before they’re dominating bigger stages. Get yourselves onto this band now, and regret nothing in the process.

Peter Clegg

Buy ‘Change Nothing, Regret Everythinghere (multi-format download) or here (vinyl options)
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Grey Widow – I

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Grey Widow
I

A band with members of Dopefight, Parole, Thread and The Ergon Counsel should rightly get anyone with half a brain and/or indeed knowledge of the lush UK underground rather excited, and that is exactly the case with London-based tyrants Grey Widow. Their debut album ‘I’ was released early this year, and while it offers no real surprises (from the cover art to the music itself), it is nonetheless doom/sludge metal done right. The opening, self-titled track builds up into appropriately filthy, groovy doom/sludge, and ticks every box you like depending on how you like your riffage – equal parts nihilistic, filthy, just downright heavy. ’IV’ provides a nice swerve; one of the album’s stand-out tracks, it chucks in some nice blackened misery, full of rolling beats and chaotic howls, before slowing down the riffage and playing out in suitably forboding fashion, and ‘VII’ flirts with hardcore punk at one point before punching you squarely in the face with more swampy dredging sludge riffs. And the last track – surprise, titled ‘VIII’ – is one of the most hateful dirges committed to audio this year, and you will find it absorbing every inch of your barely alive corpses.

Their mantra is ‘Nihilistic putrid fucking hatred. Worship nothing. Follow no one. Destroy everything’. Without question this record proves they lift and breathe that statement of their sound and their mission objective, and ‘I’ is a living embodiment of all that is great and wholly impure about downtempo worship.

Peter Clegg

Buy ‘I’ here (download), or here (CD/cassette/LP)
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Iron Reagan – Spoiled Identity EP

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Iron Reagan
Spoiled Identity EP
Magic Bullet

Given away as a free flexi-disc vinyl with Decibel magazine, but available as a free download for anyone and everyone, this release sees the band at their fastest and indeed briefest that they’ve ever been. This is fastcore done fast, crossover with brevity, but losing none of its hardcore punk sneer or attitude. Not even Municipal Waste, the main concern of IR members Tony Foresta and Ryan Waste, pursued speed like this at such relentlessness. Only the title track exceeds a minute, with song length cast aside for micro thrash diatribes like ‘Your Kids an Asshole’, ‘Cops Don’t Like Me, I Don’t Like Cops’, and more. Really you can’t pick out a stand out track on a release like this, as it just bounces from one song to the next and the name of the game is to keep up. Just download it and enjoy what you’re hearing. Rarely does anyone do crossover this right these days.

Peter Clegg

Buy/download ‘Spoiled Identity’ here (name-your-price)
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Wort – Not Your Cup of Tea

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Wort
Not Your Cup of Tea
When Planets Collide

When I started We Must Obey, I was part of a band called Poison Dwarf. I was bandmates with two of the guys from this band, Phil (guitar) and Mike (vocals/bass). Mike of course has contributed occasionally to this blog, while creating his own profile with the Manchester-based promotions team CLDH, and more recently, with sludge-rockers Pist. We played together for nearly two and a half years, until parenthood came calling for me and in the end, we played one final show together supporting The Prophecy, Iron Void and WMO favourites Iron Witch in August 2011 before going on hiatus. Poison Dwarf never officially died – more, it mutated into what was to become Wort, with the two remaining PD members joining up with drummer .

I could easily make this one of my old ‘Shameless Plug’ posts, but given how genuinely impressed I am with the results here, it is important to judge their official debut release, ‘Not Your Cup of Tea’ (complete with brilliant artwork from Dominic Sohor) on its merits. Yes, it hardly reinvents the wheel, but what it does do, as I can attest to (and you, if you listened to their demo, ‘WORT’s N’All!’) is show how this band have evolved into a beast to be reckoned with alongside the current proud crop of the UK scene. The tempo is slightly upped from that release, the production beefed up all around, and each track is stronger than the previous one. ‘The Swine Herd’ has a nice psychedelic vocal within it to add to its driving, pounding nature, and ‘Tea’ is just an all-round riffer that nicely rounds things off with the sound of Phil vomiting from a rank brew. Which is nothing new, let me tell you, haha.

Seriously though, ‘Not Your Cup of Tea’ is definitely my cup of tea, and it should be yours too. Sadly all the CD copies have sold out, but you can pick this up on name-your-price download. Give ‘em a wave will you?

Peter Clegg

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Night Stalker – Demo 2014

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Night Stalker
Demo 2014

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.

Peter Clegg 

Download ‘Demo 2014’ here (free download)

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New Bums – Voices in a Rented Room

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New Bums
Voices in a Rented Room
Drag City

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.

Peter Clegg

New Bums – The Killers and Me (official video)

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xV4bAreF5TY]

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Bast – Spectres

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Bast
Spectres
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.

Peter Clegg

Buy ‘Spectres’ via Burning World, or via Black Bow
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Gilla Bruja – Clubbed Hands and a Fistful of Snakes

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Gilla Bruja
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.

Peter Clegg

Buy/download ‘Clubbed Hands and a Fistful of Snakes‘ here
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