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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Album of the Day: Small Brown Bike – Dead Reckoning

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Label: No Idea Records

Ever had it where an album you haven’t listed to in years and years suddenly comes in to your head again out of nowhere? That’s what has happened to me with Dead Reckoning by Small Brown Bike. I never got that in to the album when I first heard it, and haven’t listened to it in about 15 years; yet songs from it have been stuck in my head for the past few days, prompting me to revisit the album. Turns out, its post-hardcore was better than I remembered.

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Album of the Day: Ithaca – Trespassers

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Label: COF Records / Soaked In Torment Records

Of all the bands in underground hardcore these days, Ithaca are one that I find hugely exciting. Their sound is noisy and technical enough to be impressive in a musical sense; but it’s also combined with a melodic, emotional streak that is so often lacking from similar bands. Their debut album, due for release later this year, is one I’m truly exciting for; and Tresspassers, their EP from 2015, provides plenty of evidence as to just why that is.

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2016 Favourites – And The Rest

2016 has been the year that saw me listen to, and review, more music than ever before. For every release that gets reviewed, there’s several that I don’t have the time to write something on; or that I listen to, but simply don’t get excited over. It’s also worth bearing in mind the purposes of this blog – exploring the underground. With the odd exception (such as the new Darkthrone), I have no interest in writing in the “big” releases; I want to help give some exposure and coverage to the small and underground, not go chasing whatever review or feature will get me the most hits. I’d also point out that it’s easy to lose sense of what actually is mainstream and underground when you spend so much time immersed in music. Sure, everyone may have access to Bandcamp and Youtube and a legion of Spotify recommendations, but  it’s easy to overestimate just how big our favourite bands are.

That said, there’s still some mainstream releases I’ve really enjoyed this year and want to share some thoughts on in another post. But here, I want to take the time to give shout-outs to those more underground releases which didn’t quite make the cut for my list of 25 favourites of the year.

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