Sunday, 15 March 2009

The Bronx, Fucked Up, Rolo Tomassi @ Manchester Club Academy 28/2/09

The Shred Yr Face 2 tour had been on my mind ever since i first saw the advert in RockSound's pages. I was feverish with anticipation over seeing three bands that not only released three great albums that placed high in 2008's rankings, but three bands that are ultimately dedicated to the cause and who had international reputation for delivering live shows so electric they be worthy of remembrance.

The atmosphere in and around Manchester Club Academy was palpable, the Hardcore Punk kids were out in force for this one and there was an air of understand between everyone waiting, that what we were about to see would top anything else going on in Manchester tonight and that this chapter of Punk Rock is not without leadership, quality or taste.


Rolo Tomassi kicked things off with a whirlpool of throat-tearing. Feeding out pure, unadulterated energy from the amps. Even though the Sheffield five piece look young enough to be worrying about the following weeks exam results - let it be no deterrent, Eva Spence contorts and jolts her away through an all too brief set, bringing all the presence of a sprightly teenager with no cares in the world, she shakes the rafters with an unquestionably brilliant vocal display on tracks like 'I Love Turbulence' - showcasing all the reasons why she and the rest of the band have fast earned the title as the best of the young British talent.

The brilliance doesn't end with Eva, the frantic framework behind her draws influence from all areas of the musical tapestry - the discord of each song's structure as well as the flourishes of synthesized merriment suggest a forced collision between electro and prog, but hey, no one's going to complain about that tonight. Despite restricted movement in the crowd Rolo Tomassi get a good response, surely in time to come they'll be further up the bill and deservedly so.

The last traces of the Tomassi horde vanish backstage and with the crowd of people descending on the bar finally dying down the room hits fever pitch as Fucked Up troop onstage, their 6 foot plus behemoth of a frontman quickly exercises his reputation for outrage and excess by stringing himself to a pipe running across the ceiling in some brand of fake hanging! Only at a Punk Rock show i tell you. The rest of Fucked Up plug along at their own pace, blistering in parts - mellower in others, leaving the raucous lead singer to bait the crowd with his bloodthirsty renditions of 'Crooked Head' and 'The Chemistry of Common Life' - that serves to bring everyone together in one mass kin-ship, to scream the words back at Abrahams if only to prove a point.

Pink Eyes takes his stranglehold on the crowd by crossing the barrier that divides him from his people, ripping his way through the crowd - you'd be stupid enough to get in his way, all the while thundering along through a brilliant set list containing fan favourite 'David Comes To Life' and new single 'Black Albino Bones.' The outlandish and somewhat obscene behaviour continues as a now half naked Pink Eyes continues his attack on the barrier occupants who claw and tug at their commander in chief for this evening. I'm pretty sure i saw one flailing arm give him a cheeky tickle under the armpits..
The set closes with a rousing rendition of 'Police' - the last call for total chaos and, with that, Fucked Up retreat in victory - everyone left shaken and worse for wear but boy we all feel better for it! Roll on The Bronx.

Matt Caughthran is the last in a line of Bronx members to hit the stage, yet when he finally appears he comes out beaming. Matt has often said how thankful he is to the UK for always 'opening it's arms wider and wider for The Bronx' and so it looks as if now him and his crew of LA Punk maestros plan on playing their hearts out for that section of the UK here for the onslaught tonight. The Bronx waste no time at all in getting to grips with the crowd tonight, Matt Caughthran throws himself around like a newly freed Gorilla - conducting tonight's proceedings atop a sea of hands, he glides across an awe filled audience.

With a triumphant sense of union imbued on every exhausted face, the feeling that everyone is in this together - for not just The Bronx, but for Punk Rock in general - flows in and around every audience member. The manic buzz around 'Shitty Future' sends everyone into a higher gear, the melody behind new Punk anthem 'Young Bloods' brings the entire room to a meltdown - despite never breaking the chain of screaming back at an ever smiling Matt Caughthran

Tonight there is no compromise, at one moment the security are told to take a 5 minute break and with that the bodies come over the top thick and fast, wave after wave. Amazing scenes at the front see a few audience members attempting to bring down the solid steel barrier, but to no avail. With the destructive rhythm's of 'Knifeman' picking up the aural assault, one impassioned fan leaps over the barrier - after a call from Matt to 'break down what divides me from my people' - to which droves of adrenaline driven teens follow. I was there, i was on stage and it felt amazing. After kissing the guitarist and causing some mayhem with the drummer Jorma Vik it was off back into the crowd for the final send off 'Heart Attack American' which sent pulses racing and bodies crashing. The Shred Yr Face 2 tour has well and truly reignited the fire back into Punk Rock, it's not dead, it never was dead - this is just a new chapter in an ever expanding story. Miss it at your peril.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Genghis Tron - Board Up The House

board up the house Pictures, Images and Photos

Genre: Grindcore / Experimental Metal / Ambient
Year: 2008
Recorded at Godcity Studios by Kurt Ballou,
Mastered by Nick Zampiello
Relapse Records
Download Board Up The House

Cybergrind, Experimental Grindcore, Electronic Mathcore - whichever box you wish to put this band in is fine by me, however i believe Genghis Tron to be far too evolutionary and expansive for the common "box-treatment." Their second opus "Board Up The House", their first release on Relapse Records also notably recorded and mixed by Kurt Ballou of Converge, is nothing short of extraordinary.

The Philadelphia three-piece have done a superb job in carving themselves a perfect niche in the current musical landscape, as a result of their totally unique sound primarily made up of varied vocal stylings, crashing guitar work and insane keyboard technics from resident beats-man Michael Sochynsky, who is instrumental in achieving Genghis Tron's uniquely textured aural assault - through a series of pulsating rythmic beats accompanied by dare i say it "nintendo-esque" bleeps and blips. The albums title track is a whirlwhind romance between angsty screamed vocal precision and timely ambient foundation, which never falls short of compelling, the same can be said for "City On A Hill" which unleashes itself from the get-go with all the tenacity of the next great american muscle car - only to retire gracefully come two thirds of the way through. "Things Don't Look Good" proves that there is indeed no set in stone formula, merely a list of ingredients that 'Tron choose to work with furthermore that the only limits Genghis Tron stick to are those of their own imaginations.

This is an awe inspiring album, with hidden depths and rabbit holes to really sink your teeth into. On first listen it may not be to everyone's taste which if that is the case i enthuse you to persist with this album and indeed this band! Surely the future looks bright for progressive-cyber-grind-experimental-mathcore-core.

1. Board Up the House
2. Endless Teeth
3. Things Don't Look Good
4. Recursion
5. I Won't Come Back Alive
6. City on a Hill
7. The Whips Blow Back
8. Colony Collapse
9. The Feast
10. Ergot
11. Relief


Monday, 9 March 2009

Deaf Havana & All Forgotten 9/3/09

On Monday night i'll be going to see Deaf Havana and All Forgotten in a co-headline tour at Joseph's Well in Leeds.

Deaf Havana got rave reviews from both Kerrang and Rock Sound, not only that but both magazines tipped them for widespread success in 2009. Deaf Havana play a melodic brand of Hardcore, they mix high adrenaline choruses with brilliant southern style guitar licks. The first time i heard them i was so impressed, coincidentally they grew up just a few miles from where i did in South Lincolnshire.

They have an EP out - 'They Call It The Easy Life' on Wolf At Your Door Records.
Click here to listen.
Check out their Myspace here

All Forgotten are from Woking and are currently writing their first EP 'Transitions'. Their music smacks of ambience and elegance all the while retaining a visceral edge courtesy of lead singer Jonathon Thorne's precise screaming, many a comparison has been pointed out between All Forgotten and London based Post-Hardcore outfit We Are The Ocean.
Check out their Myspace here


Sunday, 8 March 2009

Enter Shikari - Antwerpen


Enter Shikari threw themselves back into the studio towards the end of last year to record their sophomore album. It's been given the title 'Common Dreads' and is set for release in May of this year on Enter Shikari's own label Ambush Reality.

There's been a few songs confirmed for the album, including 'Hectic' & 'The Jester' which are available to preview on a few live videos on Youtube. The big hit so far has been 'Antwerpen', a video of Rou, Chris, Rory & Rob playing it live from their practice space can be found here. They've also released the completed studio version and made it available for download through their official website


'Antwerpen' showcases the bands expansive nature, while Rou goes off in one direction twiddling dials and producing some riotous effects the other three Shikari personnel set about balancing that with a great hardcore texture. Enter Shikari's manic energy and penchant for fusing hard rock and trance owes much to the likes of Refused. While dabbling in synths and keyboards this track keeps its feet grounded in the hardcore category as the electro escapades are thrown into the mix to highlight the already free-flowing rhythm, hell, the first thirty seconds or so draws a comparison with something Cancer Bats might come up with. A further few minutes of anthemic chorus cap off a mouth watering taster for their second album. This is Enter Shikari, so full of dance and dynamics.

Fucked Up - The Chemistry Of Common Life


Genre: Hardcore / Experimental Rock
Year: 2008
Recorded at Halla Music Studios and Central Audio Studios, produced by Jon Drew
Matador Records
Download The Chemistry of Common Life

It's doubtful you will ever come across a band quite like Fucked up - hailing from Toronto, Canada, this is a hardcore punk band that brings all the destructive stomp of any reputable third wave hardcore outfit, yet you will still find yourself seduced into the arms of lead vocalist Father 'Pink Eyes' Damien and his dense, attractive lyrics.

Fucked up have popped themselves out of the mould, going off at their own tangent. The Chemistry Of Common Life flirts with the boundaries of what should be labelled as 'Hardcore', often bending them thoroughly to suit their own concepts of creativity - note the dalliance of the opening flute solo for immediate evidence!

Whilst 'The Chemistry of Common Life' does everything and more to lambaste our eardrums, there are a whole host of delicate moments to be unearthed. Peal away from the gritty 1-2 punch of 'Crooked Head' and contours of 'Royal Swan' to discover a treasure trove of atmosphere and ambiance. Track 3: Golden Seal, an instrumental, would do well to push itself to the forefront of a predominantly hardcore album, yet through sounds more at home with Massive Attack than Sick Of It All, it provides a breather between Father Damien breaking bottles over your head.

The absolute quality of the single 'Black Albino Bones', which notes Dallas Green amongst it's contributors, cannot be denied. Throaty vocals and a golden polished chorus evolve together into a 4 minute epic and while the live intensity of Fucked Up owes much to their fierce front man, its the confidence of song smith 10,000 marbles that should not be overlooked.

'Looking For God' seems to gradually pick up pace until eventually combusting into nothing, surely a satirical reflection on the songs title whilst the title track plays out the end of the record in one final punch to the already reddened gut.
The Chemistry of Common Life is a visceral first listen, and whilst that sense of being pummelled into the dust by Black Flag's wayward younger brother wont die off with each play, you'll be sure to pick up how laced with subtlety and talent this record actually is. My album of the year.

Track Listing.
1. Son The Father
2. Magic Word
3. Golden Seal
4. Days Of Last
5. Crooked Head
6. No Epiphany
7. Black Albino Bones
8. Royal Swan
9. Twice Born
10. Looking For God
11. Chemistry Of Common Life


Young Guv and Father Damien of Fucked Up, Manchester Club Academy. Courtesy of Natalie Balcerska

Friday, 6 March 2009

Trash Talk - Trash Talk


Genre: Hardcore
Year: 2008
Recorded at Electrical Audio Studios by Steve Albini
Trash Talk Collective
Download Trash Talk

Trash Talk have fast pushed themselves into the middle of the hardcore circle with their uncomprimisingly gritty hardcore, the past two years saw them unleash two heart stoppingly violent EP's. Firstly we were all treated to 'Walking Disease' which dropped in 2007 and served not only as an introduction but as a bold prophecy of Trash Talk's future destructive intentions. Their return in early 2008 was seized upon by every rabid hardcore fan out there, much like welcoming in a grizzly bear with open arms. 'Plagues' fueled the already spiralling Trash Talk epidemic as Spencer, Sam, Lee & Garrett brought the fight from Sacramento, CA.

Trash Talk's self titled album was recorded by Steve Albini the revered engineer who has worked with some of the greats, Nirvana, Pixies, Stooges & Jawbreaker etc. His knack for implementing a home grown sound when it comes to recording has rubbed off well on the likes of Trash Talk as their brazen, take no prisoners approach to making music showcases a caustic underbelly that segues between Albini's methods in complimentary fashion. A match made in heaven one might think.

The Extreme nature of this album is visible on first glance, with 7 out of the 12 tracks dipping below the 1 minute mark you're sure to expect those precious seconds poised to unleash an array of sonic venom. So true is this of 'Immaculate Infection' as the speed and assertiveness of the Hardcore Punk sound whips around you in a fury of buzzsaw droning - opening you up to the anger that's belted down your gullet courtesy of a dual vocal trade off.

'The Hand That Feeds' launches the album with a brooding bass cascade, intertwining with the whiny, fever-pitch guitars to birth a frenzy of pure vocal angst that flares instantly; this is just a sample of the mass chaos that lays in store for you..notably on tracks such as 'Birth Plague Die', 'I Block' & 'Dig' - most of which relentlessly attack you with a swarming flurry of passion and darkness in equal measure. The edgy, unfiltered, vocals are right there from the start, in addition to manic tempo changes that leaves the listener staggering around fighting for his senses.

The Lyrical content is predictably crass, thats not to say you wont be levelled like a hammer to the temple. In 'I Block' they inform us that 'Deprived of human touch, we feast on tongue and human hand' .. which sounds eerily like a tag line from Dawn Of The Dead. The message from 'Shame' that 'My seed will reach your young and like my sons, they too will die young' continues the theme of the human anatomy thats oh so present on other tracks.

Trash Talk seem intent on the remorseless liquidation of society, or rather commentating on a society already broken down, this they drive home with resounding impact and when the 14 minutes of ultra violence is up you're sure to feel raw.
If you crave disorder and want to indulge in something similar to a fleshy off-kilter Ceremony then Trash Talk are the way to go. This record will punish you over and over again but you'll love it!

Track Listing.

1. Hand That Feeds
2. Well of Souls
3. Birth Plague Die
4. Incarnate
5. I Block
6. Dig
7. Onward and Upward
8. Shame
9. Immaculate Infection
10. All the Kings Men
11. Mistake
12. Revelation


Lee from Trash Talk courtesy of Rich Gaccione

Verse - Aggression

Verse - Agression Pictures, Images and Photos

Genre: Hardcore
Year: 2008
Recorded at Godcity Studios by Jay Maas
Bridge 9 Records

I could put a big sticker on this album that reads 'BEST HARDCORE ALBUM '08' and that's genuinely how i feel about this latest production from former* Rhode Island Hardcore men Verse. Having released two previous albums which followed on from their hotly tipped debut EP '4 Songs' Verse went back to Godcity Studios in spring 2008 to carve out something more intense, something more evocative, yet kept the passion for political and social stability firmly entrenched in their lyrics - a trait that allowed so many of us to hook onto them from foundation level.

'Aggression' comes together as brooding protest hardcore meets an emotive back-drop of soaring guitar, the usual cacophony of fast tempo hardcore riffing gives way in parts to a more alluring build-up of meandering sound, this i believe works in accordance with the unifying message screamed from the back of Sean Murphy's throat; to lift the whole scope of the album, to that of epic proportions.

Lift off arrives in the shape of 'The New Fury' with a soft 'lullaby-esque' riff leading a delicate charge, soon enough washed away by a torrent of angsty vocals. Listeners can hear points where Murphy's voice begins to crack, duly under the weight of his own passion. This track goes on to destroy the ear drums and melt the mind with line such as 'We still struggle with the fact that one percent has ninety-nine on their knees' that are sure to sit uncomfortably in any one's thoughts. The next few tracks 'Old Guards New Methods', 'Signals' and 'Scream' carry on in a typical Hardcore manner one after another, however that's not to say they don't all batter you senseless one by one!

The Spine of 'Aggression' See's a 6 minute track split into three telling 'The Story Of A Free Man.' this being a testament to Verse's collective song writing prowess, each chapter brings you in closer than the last one did. Telling the story of one man's desperation to turn his and everyone else's lives around, this epic continues along - forever building into something greater. The final chapter 'Serenity' imposes itself as the crux, and does this with all the conviction in the world.. 'He walked away a new man...this is the story of a free man'

One of the following tracks 'Unlearn' is a stand out effort, from the bludgeoning, initial impact it makes to the majesty of the sudden apex, groove pours from the guitars. Snapping at it's heals is 'Earth And Stone' - the penultimate track, Murphy unleashes all in this three and a half minute bombshell, with screams and dissatisfied groans fusing yet again with the poetry of Verse's lyrics; 'Few walked beside him, many just passed him by, so he'll just stay numb and sit there; quietly fall behind.'

The albums conclusion starts with what can only be described as a 'gentle crash' once again falsely leading the listener into expecting something he wont get, mimicking 'The New Fury.' An explosion of verse (no pun intended) and destruction from the instruments melds into a call to arms chant of 'Aggression, Aggression!' which itself peels off to reveal an atmospheric finish tinged with a sense of urgency.

This is a fantastic album, and it's hard to pick fault. The only worry is where do Verse continue? as long as they kept evolving and delivering on the scale that 'Aggression' does then there's no reason not to believe they will become stalwarts of the Hardcore scene for years to come

* Verse have subsequently disbanded. The Hardcore community is in mourning!

Track Listing.
1. The New Fury
2. Old Guards, New Methods
3. Suffering To Live, Scared Of Love
4. Signals
5. Scream
6. Story Of A Free Man - Chapter One: The End Of Innocence
7. Story Of A Free Man - Chapter Two: The Cold Return
8. Story Of A Free Man - Chapter Three: Serenity
9. Blind Salvation
10. Unlearn
11. Earth And Stone
12. Sons And Daughters

Click here to listen to Aggression

Verse playing at Leeds Rios, courtesy of Chris Ensell

First Post!

I've used Blogspots like these for a while, usually just to tap into some of the great underground music out there, for which i am indebted to!
I thought however, that it was time to set up my own account and get posting. No doubt I'll be using this to write about music primarily but I'd go as far as to extend that to other branch-offs of Art / Culture.
Just to brighten up this first entry I'll submit to you my favourite piece of cover art from 2008. Genghis Tron's - 'Board Up The House'. it's sublime, also one of my favourite albums from last year. I have a review of this to come!

board up the house Pictures, Images and Photos