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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Review: Tor – Too Happy

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Label: Truthseeker Music

There’s something very English about masking your misery with jokes; finding the absurd in the grim, the mirth in the miserable, the humour in the gallows. On Too Happy, three-piece Tor seem to go all-in on such an idea, with their post-rock being both utterly miserable, but also filled with a twisted sense of humour. Heavily reminiscent of the likes of Slint, this is an album for when you’re at your lowest – so far down in the pits of despair that it begins to seem absurd just how miserable you are. It’s an album that is, by turns, highly uncomfortable and highly amusing, and yet always feels sincere and interesting.

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Review: Haunts – A Lack of Empathy

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Label: Truthseeker Music

Loosely falling under the umbrella of post-rock, the debut release from Haunts is a haunting half hour, that uses some of the expected tropes of post-rock – chiefly, spacious soundscapes and emotion expressed through instrumental movements rather than words – but does so in a way that doesn’t feel as if it’s conforming to any rule-book or standard of expectations. Rather than the traditional quiet-loud passages, A Lack of Empathy is instead all about subtle shifts within a largely consistent atmosphere, making this record one to loose yourself within for extended periods, undertaking psychedelic explorations that are as emotionally cathartic as they are sonically thrilling.

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Yards – Excitation Thresholds

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Label: Truthseeker Music

Excitation Thresholds is not an easy listen. The debut album from London band Yards is an unsettling, anxious slice of modern hardcore, conjuring that same sense of restless doubt as Converge did with You Fail Me. This is not an album that is concerned with making the listener comfortable, or even on providing an inherently enjoyable time, but instead on providing a sonic journey of hurt and pain. Yet as difficult a listen it can be, Excitation Thresholds has a certain charm to it, and an almost primal sense of catharsis offered within its ten tracks.

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Oak – Your Mess As Much As Mine

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Label: Truthseeker Music / Hydrogen Man Records / State of Mind Recordings

It’s easy to take for granted the emotional and physical catharsis that a good hardcore record can bring about. After all, it’s over fifteen years since Jane Doe sent seismic shocks through the hardcore scene, and bands are still taking plenty of leads from that mighty album. Sometimes though, a record comes out from the underground that hits you right there, taking you by surprise with its strength and honesty. Your Mess As Much As Mine by Swedish trio Oak has done just that, and whilst there’s no ignoring the influence of bands like Botch and Converge on their sound, there’s enough nuance and more than enough sincerity here for Oak to have an identity all of their own.

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Earth Moves – The Truth In Our Bodies

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Label: Truthseeker Music 

It’s difficult to imagine Earth Moves inspiring an apathetic response from anyone who might hear their debut, The Truth In Our Bodies. Containing members of UK emo bands including Grappler and We Never Learned To Live, Earth Moves tread in similar territories to Envy and early Deafheaven, with screamo and post-rock fueled emotional catharsis being the order of the day, with shades of blackgaze in there too. And god-damn, is it ever emotional. This is the kind of record that demands a response, with cascades of sound and desperate, impassioned vocals. This is not one for casual listening; it is absolutely not background music, but an album to be swept up in, committing yourself to for its duration, with the pay-off being more than worthwhile.

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Sonance – Blackflower

a1611733774_2Label: Truthseeker Music

One of the most important – and difficult – parts in creating beautiful music can be in getting the contrasts right. Too much beauty and serenity can produce a kind of emotional numbness, where everything is too nice to actually feel as glorious as it is. But at the same time, it can be difficult to properly mix harsh, ugly moments with contrasting grace, as evidenced by the hosts of bands aping the likes of Neurosis without coming close to their grandeur. Judging by BlackflowerSonance have spent plenty of time learning how to mix the ugly with the beautiful to great effect, and the result is a superb album of varied doom/sludge that expertly mixes the heavy with the light.

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