Nemesis – Dou-Koku

ネメシス (Nemesis)
慟哭 (Dou-Koku)

Evoking the spirit of UK hardcore/crust punk, Fukuoka, Japan’s Nemesis are a new band bursting out of the far eastern country in a blaze of anger and nihilistic fury. Their debut EP, 慟哭 (Dou-Koku)‘, is four tracks of lo-fi produced crusty hardcore punk, delivered with ferocious snarl and bite – their vocalist doesn’t half sound like he’s gargling battery acid when he screams. It doesn’t possess the most excellent execution of this style, but the passion for it appears undeniable. Dou-Koku is an enjoyable riot, and well worth casting eyes and ears eastward for.

Peter Clegg

Most distros have sold out, but you should still be able to obtain a copy of 慟哭 (Dou-Koku)‘ here

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Alpinist/Masakari – Split LP

Alpinist/Masakari
Split LP
 
Alerta Antifascista (EU)

The split, for me, is an often overlooked and undervalued way of getting your music out there. I’ve lost count of the number of bands I discovered just by picking up a split release by a band I’ve already heard of. Unfortunately, in this digital age, it seems that they’re firmly the realm of the underground nowadays, and often they’re given limited print runs. Still, the split is a valuable tool, and in this case, it was an introduction to Germany’s Alpinist, whom I might not have picked up on straight away were it not for Masakari, who came to my attention last year with the excellent ‘The Prophet Feeds’.

Alpinist are up first on this split and they don’t mess about in getting to the action. Their sludgy hardcore finds full effect on opener ‘Abgerichtet’. You’ll notice the chunky riffage straight away – it’s got a lovely, thick tone to it, pounding away for much of the duration of the split. The tempo varies well, their drummer Henrik putting in a shift on. If you thought this band couldn’t surprise you any more, just wait to you hear  ‘Quelle Valuer Reste’, their final track on the split. Its long atmospheric opening isn’t what you’d expect from a band that put in such a dynamic on those first five tracks, but it’s mightily impressive. It’s a wondrous moment and it’s enough to rubber stamp this split alone as quality stuff.
The Masakari side isn’t quite as impressive for my liking, but that’s not to say it ain’t no good; far from it – its fecking heavy and intense as you like, as anyone familiar with their debut album will know. Their opener, ‘VIII: The Obscene Underbelly’ is a slow burner that eventually roars into life, and from then on in, Masakari are right in your face. If you don’t believe me, tracks like ‘X: Sleep’, at a fleeting 72 seconds in length, will slap the slumber right out of you. It’s a full-on powerviolence-tinged assault, reminiscent of acts like Trap Them and scene luminaries Cursed, and it’s like being chased through a house of horrors – by the time ‘XXIII: Hexenhammer’ and ‘XX: Modulation’ come along to close the split, you’ll find your heart pounding and yourself wishing you’d never gone in there. Your brain might have other ideas though, given how impressive this band is as well.
Arguably the split release of the year, these two bands match up well enough with one another to be packaged in such a way, but there’s enough diversity here to identify these as potential scene leaders in this continued resurgence of crust-caked hardcore.

Peter Clegg
Both sides of the split available for streaming on their respective Bandcamp pages

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
 

Acephalix – Interminable Night

Acephalix
Interminable Night
Southern Lord/Agipunk

Acephalix were originally more or less a crust-punk band, but on their second full length (if you can call it that), they’ve made a shift towards death metal. Regarding the term ‘full-length’ – ‘Interminable Night’ contains only seven tracks and clocks in at 25 minutes. But that’s all that’s required for you to get your ass kicked by this album.
You won’t find any blasting at all here; instead you’ll find plenty of crusty-death action that harks back to bands like Dismember and Nihilist. There’s nothing innovative going on here, but what they have got is head-pounding riffs in abundance and they’re designed for get fists in the air and heads banging up and down in worship. Tracks like ‘Christhole’ and ‘In Arms of Nothing’ are designed to damage and damage they do. The guitars scream pure evil at times, particularly during the solos, which hark like Kerry King’s in the way they sound on occasion as they wail into contention.
Vocalist Dan has an immense range about him, possessing a real guttural roar at times, which at times he holds for almost inhuman lengths of time and can warp into a scream at the right moments. It adds an extra dimension to Acephalix’s sound in itself; again, it’s not innovative, but it’s bloody effective.
If you had to nitpick, there’s not much variety between the songs, but it’s rare that I enjoy albums in such a way that I just want to go ape and at 25 minutes, it’s short enough to do just that and not get bored at all. There’s just enough variation at least in terms of speed – they do slow it down a little on the closing title-track – but it never feels to relent. Death metal is in safe hands with acts like Acephalix on the horizon.
This album has been out a few months now and was on limited pressing – originally 1000 copies through Agipunk, and a further pressing of 2000 CDs through Southern Lord. It’s still available as a CD; links below. It’s a worthy investment.
Peter Clegg

Review Roundup: End of Level Boss/Thou/Bringers of Disease

End of Level Boss

Eklectric
Exile on Mainstream

End of Level Boss have won many plaudits in the past for their first two records, which introduced the world to their formula of progressive stoner rock that sits somewhere between Kyuss and later-era Voivod. Despite this, they haven’t quite made the forward step in popularity one would have hoped for. Yet they stick to their guns on album number 3, and it’s a credit to them for doing so. Their sound is nothing short of pleasantly challenging.

Those Voivodian tendencies are rife throughout ‘Eklectric’ and at first it has a little trouble sticking as it seeks to find its direction. It’s not bad at all but there’s an awkwardness that sits about the formula that some might find hard to digest. It changes up a little with the more direct and venomous ‘Mouth of Hats’, and later on ‘Thud’, but it always remains firmly in angular territory. Eventually the album does gather momentum as the various elements that make up EOLB start to find a little more cohesion. Tracks like ‘Senescence’ and ‘Blueshift’ keep the momentum flowing ticking along nicely and there are plenty of other worthy jams as well.

Not quite a masterpiece, but this is a welcome return for one of the UK’s diamonds in the rough.

Thou
To The Chaos Wizard Youth
Howling Mine
The ever prolific Thou follow hot on the heels of their release of Black Sabbath covers, ‘Through The Empires of Eternal Void’, with another four track EP, this time comprising four songs of post-‘Summit’ material. It’s not quite as strong as ‘Summit’ for my money but then again, Thou never ever disappoint. This is yet another slab of crushing Baton Rouge sludge, the most impressive track being ‘Helen Hill Will Have Her Revenge On New Orleans’, the perfect soundtrack to a violent, murky death in the deepest swamps.
Bringers of Disease
Gospel of Pestilence
Translation Loss

Consisting of former members of Mouth of the Architect and Acheron among others, Bringers of Disease shun the current trend in certain USBM circles of going ‘transcendental’, instead focusing squarely on black metal of the old-school, crusty variety. Boy oh boy, does this approach pay dividends. The production isn’t clean and shiny, nor does the EP sound like it was recorded in a sewer – it’s just right. And while there’s nothing here that hasn’t been covered before, ‘Gospel…’ is anything but a retread. Songs like ‘Your Prayers Remain Unheard’ and ‘A Plague To End All Plagues’ display Bringers’ ability and nous to know when to ease on the brake slightly and when to hammer the foot to the floor. ‘Gospel of Pestilence’ is more than a solid debut, and its four tracks are a sign of pure potential. Definitely ones to watch.

Review Roundup: Bowling For Soup/Maruta/Extreme Mental Abuse

DISCLAIMER: I told you my questionable musical taste would become apparent, for which I make no apologies! I’m not ashamed to admit I indulge in Bowling For Soup once in a while – at least they don’t shaft their fanbase like some other aging pop-punk band…

Bowling For Soup

Fishin’ For Woos

Que-So/Brando

Bowling For Soup return for yet another album filled with party anthems and stupidity. If it’s progression you’re looking for, you won’t find it here. But BFS have always done silliness very well and don’t go out of their way to change the formula, even on album number 11. As far as potential anthems go – well, they certainly have potential, even if they’re not as immediate as previous hits such as ‘Girls All The Bad Guys Want’ and ‘I’m Gay’. But the singalongs are here in spades – ‘S-S-S-Saturday’ is going to be a live anthem for sure, and ‘Let’s Pretend We’re Not In Love’ is catchy as.

Obviously it’s not everyone’s bag, it’s not going to win them any serious awards, and you wonder how old they’ll get before they realise they’re getting a little too old for these shenanigans. – but hell, summer’s here, and it’ll be a soundtrack for a few pool parties and barbecues at least. And if you’re still not convinced, go see them live – that’s where they really excel.

Maruta
Forward Into Regression
Willowtip
Maruta’s biggest claim to fame lies in former drummer Nick Augusto, who now thumps the skins for Trivium. Both those bands are a world away from each other of course – Trivium are still struggling to wrestle away accusations of aping Metallica; on the flipside, Maruta are in no danger of this at all. ‘Forward Into Regression’ is a snarling, heavy beast and one designed at that to destroy the senses.

Forward…’ certainly has its moments – it starts off pretty well – ‘March Forward (Into Regression)’ and ‘Strain’ are explosive and tracks like ‘Solace (Through Self-Annihilation)’ and ‘Blood of the Luddite’ are vicious rippers to show exactly what Maruta are capable of. The guitars are nice and low in the mix as well and that serves to beef up their sound. That said, while it’s a nice step-up from debut album ‘In Narcosis’, it still feels as though Maruta are in the chasing pack, especially considering there’s already been some spectacular grind releases this year. They’ve got the potential to make that leap to the bigger leagues, but they’ve got to do a little more to stand out.

Extreme Mental Abuse
Extreme Mental Abuse
 
Finally in this round up, we have crusty death-grinders Extreme Mental Abuse. I don’t have a great deal of info about this band yet, other than that SSS bassist Mark Magill produced this album – I discovered them through an SSS Facebook update. It’s a mish mash of the aforementioned crust punk, death metal and grindcore to make up twenty politically-charged tracks in just over eighteen minutes. Everything’s low in the mix – the production is low-key, vocals guttural, everything suitably muddy indeed. Bish bash bosh. It’s not going to set pulses racing but its heavy and gritty and these guys do the job well. Fans of the early crust/grind eras may well find something to enioy here.
 

Extreme Mental Abuse’ is available as a free download from the band’s Bandcamp page.

Peter Clegg