Review: Singular – Singular (self-titled EP)

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Label: Self-released

Taking in a huge variety of genres and influences, yet with the end results being remarkably focused and cohesive, the self-titled EP by one man band Singular is an impressive slice of noisy post-hardcore/black metal/emoviolence that succeeds in finding the common thread between the genres and stitching it together in impressive style. Moving between emotional soundscapes and blisteringly violent outbursts – and taking in everything in between – this is varied in a way many other bands try, and fail, to be; an achievement made all the more remarkable for being a solo creation.

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Review: Rope – Come Closer Now

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Label: Truthseeker Music

It shouldn’t have been this way. Sure, I expected that the second album by British band Rope would be an album full of emotional power; the kind of record that can kindle to life emotions you thought were long-lost to the faded memories of youth. But what I didn’t expect Come Closer Now to do was hit in ways that speak of emotional vulnerability in so profoundly adult, mature ways; to come across like a record made by people who have worked shitty jobs, gone through genuine heart-break and loss, and come through it all with their sense of self both reinforced and adjusted. Somewhere between Self Defense Family, Slint, and Jawbox, Come Closer Now is the album that will speak to your 30-something self in ways that you didn’t think were still possible.

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Five of the Best: Level Plane Records Releases

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That Level Plane Records is no more is nothing short of a tragedy. Between 1997 and 2009, the label released some of the best underground punk, hardcore, screamo, metal, and everything in-between. Originally set up simply so Greg Drudy had an address to put on the back of the first Saetia 7″, the impact and influence the label would go on to have upon the underground scene was huge. Some of these records have been re-issued by other labels – with special praise being given to The Archivist label for getting so many on Bandcamp – but some might require searching on Discogs or eBay.

As such, limiting this list down to only five releases has been rather painful. There’s so many I wanted to include – so many records of superb quality, so many that meant so much to me, and still do – but there’s a reason this series is called Five of the Best, not Twenty of the Best. So, here we go. Feel free to tell me what I missed or what your favourite records from this excellent label are. Enjoy!

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Review: The Armed – Only Love

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Label: Throatruiner Records

About thirty seconds into Only Love, the second album from The Armed, the thought occurs that this is what the future must sound like. The mix of hardcore/punk guitars, frantic electronics, and restless drumming (courtesy of Ben Koller of Converge and All Pigs Must Die, amongst others) produces a real rush of adrenaline and endorphins, and leaves the listener unsure whether to launch themselves into reckless dancing or simply staring in awe at what the band are creating. It’s a feeling that more or less lasts throughout the album and subsequent listens, making Only Love one of the most innovative, exciting albums released under the broad spectrum of hardcore thus far in 2018.

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Album of the Day: Bind Torture Kill – Viscères

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Label: WOOAARGH

Going by the band name, you probably expect French band Bind Torture Kill to play Suffocation-style brutal/tech-death, full of slams and grunts. But instead, Viscères play post-hardcore of a blackened, chaotic variety, full of weight and the promise of violent catharsis. It’s a challenging album, very different from the norms of post-hardcore, but all the better for it – as if the most forward-thinking elements of Converge were run through dirty black metal, before being combined with the malevolence of bands like The Rodeo Idiot Engine or fellow French hardcore acts like Cowards. It’s really rather good.

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Album of the Day: Amanda Woodward – La Décadence De La Décadence

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Label: Level Plane Records

Post-hardcore/emo and dub reggae might not seem like natural bedfellows, but Amanda Woodward made them seem like the most obvious of genres to combine on La Décadence De La Décadence. The sole album from the French band combined the emotionally cathartic, energetic nature of 90’s emo, with the spacious, almost relaxing aspects of reggae, resulting in songs that varied massively in tone and tempo, yet flowed in the most natural of ways. Other than Death Mercedes (who contained members of Amanda Woodward), I’m yet to hear anyone attempting this kind of thing since Amanda Woodward split in 2007, and it’s no surprise – to combine these styles with such results must have been difficult, but good god is this album incredible.

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