Monday, December 11, 2017

Belated obsessions: Martyrdöd - List (2016)

If I'm to be honest, crust punk in general is a genre I've come to love and enjoy only in the past 6 or 7 years, although in the meantimen I've been sure to retroactively dig through its historical monuments, as I always try to do.

Martyrdöd, being consistently around for more than 13 years now, have always been a name to watch out for out of the ever-exploding scandinavian scene. Amid the chaos of new and interesting releases along with the struggle to keep up (among the always limited free time of course), List was the gem I missed during last year, and if I hadn't, it would surely have been among the top places of 2016's top 10. Martyrdöd always had a distinct melodic edge in their d-beat/crust clatter, but with List I think they've marked the genre for good. Folk melodies had never made their way through so distinctively and substantially and, if you're thinking that this has become at the expense of sound harshness and/or speed, well, you're mistaken. The Swedes are as extreme as ever, the vocals haven't calmed down one bit, only now there's always a lead guitar around to transfuse a melodic and epic edge to it all.

This looks very much like an album that will turn the heads of new listeners for this extreme form of hardcore punk, and the least you could do is take a little time to appreciate it.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Support Kemerov's crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo!

Kemerov are asking for your help in order to release their highly-praised all over the world debut album "FMKD" (already out on CD) on vinyl! Click below to get in on it!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Sofia Sarri - Euphoria (2017)

When you have started out in bands like Night on Earth where you have demonstrated abilities and talents that leave the audience stare with awe, it's not strange that, when you create your first personal work, it is going to be an opus of this caliber.

I had a special relationship with Night on Earth when I lived in Athens as I had the chance to watch them live numerous times, one with Thanasis Papakonstaninou of course. That band was a special case to say the least, as they were something like a more classical (in orchestration) version of Portishead, mixing this with post-rock formulas which, 10+ years ago, hadn't yet become so trite, in my opinion. Night on Earth's ace in the sleeve though was none other than small and delicate Sofia who, just by looking at her, it didn't look like she could pull this strength. The whole Night on Earth collective was always comprised by skilled musicians, but this voice automatically set them several levels higher.

To be honest, I haven't followed on Sofia's activities for many years now, and this album is an unexpected pleasant surprise. This girl here obviously just does as she likes and this shows the width of her influences. Stepping even on the avant-garde limits, she uses acoustic and greek traditional instruments for her voice to step on, in jazz rhythms at one time and in more classical ones at the other, always in an intense dark melodiousness, and a latent "norwegian" feeling. For instance, Kari Ruesslatten came a lot on my mind, among others. Anyway, I think I've said enough, you can listen for yourselves:

Friday, January 20, 2017

Belated obsessions: The Men - New Moon (2013)

Hoping to maybe write about more albums that have "matured" inside me years after their initial release (because this is something that happens to me from time to time) in the future, I thought I'd make the start with The Men's masterpiece from 2013. The band from Brooklyn, having started to be discographically active since 2008, released their debut full-length Immaculada (2010) which sure earned them a certain distinction among the scene of the time. And this distinction was because of a unique way they had of blending garage rock with '70s punk and post-hardcore, while adding some noise elements of their own. Always an interesting band, but they never monopolized my interest in a really special way. Knowing of their existence, I always knew they were there, and when I came across tracks of theirs from time to time, I always thought "this is an OK band" and that was it.

Until last year when (I don't really remember why or how) I started listening to New Moon which was lurking in my hard drive for a couple of years. The sweet and mellow melody of the opener "Open the Door" caught my attention and the first thought on my mind was "hey hm yeah these guys are usually unpredictable, this is probably just an intro or something". But with track 2 "Half Angel Half Light" I started thinking that we probably have something special here after all. Going through to the end of the album, I wanted more. I pushed play again. And again, and again. I think this is as much as you need if you'ew going to realize that this is not a common album.

The Men, in New Moon, sounded like a slightly different band from how I remembered them or from the idea I had about them. Here, we have a maturity that is usually carried by a band that has conquered its influences, has set its musical limits with a defining certainty, and now feels comfortable to wander anywhere its mood tells it to. New Moon is considerably softer than its predecessors, increasing the use of acoustic instruments and decreasing the noise elements (although they are not totally absent). The final result is warm but also bitter, melodic but also dark, soft but also harsh. From the nostalgic harmonica in "Bird Song" to the unstoppable pounding of "the Brass", and from the melancholic melody of "I See No One" to "Supermoon"'s noisy psychedelic outbreak, this is a record that can stand the test of time as it clearly is a depiction of the creators' psyche, nothing more and nothing less. Have a taste.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Reveal - Flystrips (2016)

This is one of the (very few anymore, actually) times that I just feel compelled to write about a record. Even more so because it deserved by right to be in my top-10 for 2016, but it crossed my path only a week or so ago, so it missed that window by a little.

It is my first contact with these guys. Reveal come from Uppsala, Sweden and I could say that they're a pure hate-them-or-get-hooked-on-them case. Their lo-fi, nihilistic, misanthropic, grumpy and cacophonous sound is a blend of numerous things, or it is numerous things that come to one's mind listening to them. Early '90s Norwegian blackmetal, noise rock, alternative, punk, '80s-era Bathory, and so on. This was a purely unexpected musical experience for me, and I really can't beginto describe about nerves it touches in me as iot probably touches different ones for everyone else but in the end I'm sure that it triggers the same things to everyone that has grown up with dark music in general during the '90s. Enough with words, this is a record one just has to experience.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Top 10 albums of 2016 (aka maybe establishing a tradition)

1. True Moon - s/t

One can safely say I was pre-determined to like this one as it is Karolina Engdahl's (Vånna Inget's vocalist) other project, and I absolutely adore Karolina's voice and Vånna Inget in general. I daresay my expectations were more than met, and then some. True Moon, with their debut release, strike all the right nerves in me. If I had to describe it, it is like a postpunk-ish thing that borrows '80s darkwave and at times even electro elements, then rendering them in a personal manner and creating this incredible result.

2. This Is Nowhere - Music to Relapse

This phenomenon of a band may theoretically be characterized and categorized under certain genres and labels, but a closer look reveals an abyss for you to explore. Their debut album last year, although still great, I can say it missed the great expectations by half an inch. This one right here... well, it just leaves you speechless. Stepping on Monster Magnet, Kyuss and Velvet Underground at the same time (among many others of course), here we have a collection of tracks that are created only once in a decade or so.

3. Sarabante - Poisonous Legacy

How can an absolutely perfect debut album be topped? Well, Poisonous Legacy is the answer. Sarabante return even more focused, darker, angrier and more dystopic, while melodic at the same time. The overall result is just crushing and the album is consumed every time in one sip.

4. Birthday Kicks - Black Echo Trap

Although I was anticipating their first full-length release (after that great debut 7" single) while Birthday Kicks were taking their sweet time completing it, this one sure took me by surprise. It was just too good; warm and fuzzy rock 'n' roll flowing just naturally and enjoyably. This is an album that appeals to garage rock fans, to stoner fans, to psychedelic rock fans; it simply combines all the best elements of just everything.

5. Καταχνιά - Στη Σκιά Μιας Λαιμητόμου (Katachnia - Sti Skia Mias Lemitomou)

Again, a sophomore release that manages to, not only live up to its predecessor's legacy, but also extend it even further. Katachnia continue to combine the crust punk principles with the greek punk values maintaining an absolutely personal sound and staying true to the tradition they have set.

6. UXO - s/t

Those who know me, even not very much, also know that I'm a sucker for some Unsane-like noise rock. Well, this is my dose for 2016. Today Is the Day's Steve Austin and Unsane's Chris Spencer are teaming up for this project and it just ruled my speakers for weeks. If you know what I'm talking about, you know this rocks.

7. Touché Amoré - Stage Four

What is this? Emo? Screamo? Any other shit the kids nowadays are listening to? Don't care. And when a concidence is repeated, well, it doesn't constitute a concidence anymore. I had loved 2014's Is Survived By but, to be honest, I hadn't really put Touché Amoré really high in my conscience. Stage Four came to change that and to make me a fan. It's surprising how naturally this album flows, how melodic, emotional and powerful it is at the same time. I will keep these guys close from now on.

8. Oathbreaker - Rheia

Avant-garde blackmetal/shoegaze anyone? This could be a dry description of Oathbreaker, but it in no way can contain everything that is encased in this album. Caro Tanghe doesn't only scream anymore (not that we don't absolutely love her when she does), but has developed to a full leading persona. Oathbreaker take things several steps further with Rheia and, while until now you could more or less compare them with other bands, now they just play on a league of their own.

9. Ruined Families - Education

This one just exploded on our faces and it just is beyond words. This is hardcore punk, mathcore, post-hardcore, alternative rock and noise rock at the same time. It grabs you by the neck and doesn't leave room for even a hint of escaping. Kick in the gut, elbow on the teeth, strike between the eyes. That's what it is.

10. Minerva Superduty - Gorod Zero
I'll be honest. I never "understood" mathcore. I have rarely put on such music to listen to at home. And I still don't know what exactly it is that has made me love this album so much. Maybe it's their uncompromised hardcore character, maybe the raw despair that flows through the speakers. All in all, Minerva Superduty confuse me. I don't know how they do what they do, or why. All I know is that Gorod Zero has me hooked.


Omega Monolith - Fungus: I have felt compelled to write about this particular piece of work several months back. Omega Monolith seem to have reached very close to the implementation of their vision, as they've created an album that lives and breathes of its own. You must experience it; especially live, if you get the chance.
Brainbombs - Souvenirs: The sickos from Sweden strike back after 3 years. I haven't really been able to put my finger exactly on what it is that I find appealing about these guys; maybe it's the raw way thυ deliver their art or that they honestly don't consider it as art at all, or that they would never even think of releasing records if a label didn't push them to. And that all these are elements that find their way into their music.

Sleep of Monsters - II: Poison Garden: I couldn't even begin to tell you how much of a Babylon Whores fanboy I have been and the Sleep of Monsters' debut release in 2013 made me rejoice. Poison Garden takes over where Produces Reason left off, in a more melodic, mellow and choral way. 

Cyanna Mercury - Archetypes: This is a wonder I could never anticipate from a Greek band. It almost sounds unconventional compared to the rest of the Greek underground scene. Dark folk, gothic, traditional greek rhythms, psychedelic rock. Cyanna Mercury have already made their mark with their debut release and I can't wait for their next steps.
Metallica - Hardwired... to Self-Destruct: I don't even feel the need to justify myself here. I won't deny the nostalgia factor, but this is purely good Metallica music, as it is supposed to be. Hardwired... to Self-Destruct, although a bit annoyingly faithful to the 7-minute-long song stereotype, summarizes perfectly the Metallica sound from Master of Puppets to Reload. If you're a Metallica fan, you can't not love this one.