Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Roses Never Fade - Devil Dust CD

About 5 years ago, an interesting album was released by the likes of Dwid Hellion, T, Matt Shack and Nick Fiction. Although these were all big names in the world of metallic hardcore, what they released was far from what would be expected from such a group. The album contained 12 tracks of dark, acoustic "apocalyptic folk" that was just done right FANtastic. After a couple of EP releases, the group is "back" with their second LP.
When I say back, it is really by name only. The line up has had a bit of a change over the years, with AVVs Nathan Opposition joining in on vocals on their latest EP. This album also sees Austin Rathmell, from The Way to Light, joining Opposition as vocals. Aside from these two, the only other member, and only original member left, is Nick Fiction. This is really quite a different band from the one back in 2009, and it definitely shows.
There are still tracks that are reminiscent of the first line up, such as Incandescent Dreams, a highlight for me. The guitar work sounds reminds me of the previous album's title track, and the haunted whispered vocals are just perfect. The big difference lies on the tracks where Nathan Opposition takes the lead on the vocals, these are generally a lot softer than I'd come to expect from the group. In a way they almost don't fit with what RNF originally tried to achieve back in 2009.
Currently this has only been released on CD, courtesy of Neuropa records. Hopefully this will see a vinyl release sometime in the future, it does deserve it.
The CD packaging doesn't have an awful lot mention, and I'm slightly disappointed that no original artwork had been developed for this release. Aside from the new twisted portraits of Oppostion and Rathmell, all the artwork has come straight from the first release.
That may have seemed a slightly negative review, but if anything it is just because the bar had been set so high. It is still a great second album, and I'd love to hear more from the group in the coming years.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Vocal Test

With every band comes that classic track that all the fans know off by heart, and always gets played at shows. While in many aspects Integrity is utterly unlike many other bands, they do share this commonality. Of course this is without a doubt Vocal Test - the opening track to Humanity is the Devil.
As if this track wasn't killer enough, the band have just released the master audio files for free. This means it is entirely open to be remixed and recut however you see fit, so I thought I've had a go at re imagining the track.

Head along to here to get the files and listen to Vocal Test like you never have before.

Friday, 10 October 2014

VVegas / Moutheater split 7" part III

Here I am with another VVegas record, albeit it only partially counts as a new record really. I have previously written about this particular 7" twice already know, but here I am back again with a third colour variant.
This particular variant is a little more special as it also features an alternate cover. The other two version were a grey/black swirl and clear red with some fantastic artwork designed by Dwid Hellion. This time around I've myself the pre-order version on clear yellow with (if I must be honest) somewhat less appealing artwork.
As far as I can tell 100 copies of this variant were pressed, although others I have seen were numbered on the cover and centre label.....
In terms of regular variants (not test-presses), that is all the colour variants this wee 7" came in. I can't see me ever really wanting to get this kind of set for a huge number of records, but for certain special ones it can be quite fun trying to hunt down all the versions. They do look pretty cool next to each other too.
As a bit of a follow up form last week, listen to how VVegas has progressed from their most recent 7" to this -

Sunday, 21 September 2014

VVegas - Sagevisule 7"

Things had been relatively quite on the VVegas front for a wee while. Since their 2012 split release with Abraxis, there had been little rumours of new material being released but nothing seemed to really happen. Of course that changed earlier this year they released the RSD split with Integrity, and now they are back again with Sagevisule. This actually marks VVegas' first solo 7" release since the band's inception, as all other 7"s have been part of splits or compilations.
From what I was able to gather, they had a bit of trouble actually getting this record released. It was originally planned to be released by some small label months ago, but nothing seemed to eventuate. I then saw they were looking out for a label to release it, which finally got picked up by Last Anthem records a wee while ago. I don't know too much about this label, but they've done a fine job with this release.
Three versions were pressed all together; a lavender and red split, a pink and yellow, and a lavender and black. Mine is obviously the last of those three, with an interesting effect in the middle of the colours. 300 copies were pressed in total, which I'm assuming this means that mine is /100. As far as I'm aware, VVegas still have copies of the band version for sale (pink and yellow), which does look pretty cool.
The 7" contains four brand new tracks. Between listening to this and "Never", it is clear to see what a shift in style the band has made. This is especially evident with "All my Dreams are Lies", which is very much in vain of the tracks they have released over the last few years. The guitars are incredibly harsh, and the vocals sound distorted in a way that make them seem they are coming from a source very far away. For me, the highlight is "You Are Not Who You Think You Are". This is a considerably slower track than the last one, but is still incredibly heavy and is able to send shivers down my spine. The last track, "Irrealis" is not too dissimilar from a RNF track, with whispered vocals and (at least at first) a haunted acoustic guitar.
The reason I opted for the lavender and black version, was because it was part of a special package. Along with the standard record, Last Anthem also threw in a patch, a VVegas sticker and a new VVegas T-Shirt that has the same design as the record.
VVegas are streaming the whole thing via their bandcamp page, enjoy!

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Gehenna - Funeral Embrace 7"

It took a wee while for me to get this record, but I finally have some brand new Gehenna in my hands! And it was definitely worth the wait, it has been round my turntable many times already and it really just destroys anything else out there.
To me it is really quite a change in direction for the band. The split with Blind to Faith back in 2010 saw Gehenna start down a path of psychoactive inspired tracks that have progressively gotten heavier and slower over the years. The split with Integrity 2 years ago brought us Amphetamine Psychosis which literally took us through a meth trip, and The Truth (released as part of a mixtape) was the band's most so slow that it almost hurt. An incredibly limited lathe cut 7" was released last year that did hint at a change from this direction. But this new 7" has cemented that change with what is quite possibly the fastest and thrashiest set of recordings ever released by Gehenna.
Amphetamine Psychosis starts out the record, but sounds entirely different from the Integ split. The vocals sound in less psychological torment, but severely more vicious instead. The distinctive riff from the end of that track is again featured, but only lasts ~15 seconds, rather than 2 minutes. It is then straight into "Into the Grave". This track is wickedly fast and features the same vicious vocal set, accompanied by a quick guitar solo in the middle.
After about a second break, we are launched back into "Serve the Cult". This starts with the most blistering guitar solo and doesn't stop for a single breath the entire time.
The aforementioned lathe cut then lends a track, which has now been re-branded as Savage II. Here the blasting drums don't stop the assault on your ear drums, and the vocals have been distorted in a way that perfectly encapsulates the track title.
Things then finish off with "Funeral Embrace", which once again doesn't hold back in the slightest either.
The whole thing gets you so full of energy that the only thing to do is to put it on again (and again, and again).
After Rot in Hell's Ruined Empire, this is the second release of the revived Dark Empire label, now run by Dwid's son. Several versions of this were released; a clear and black striped, a yellow, a green and a black. All of the fancy coloured versions were out of 100 copies, and the black/clear combo came with an additional poster. Mine is just the standard black version, which came from the HT store rather than Dark Empire.
The packaging is just as wicked as the tracks on the vinyl. Right at the top is the cover artwork, which is looks incredibly raw and vicious. When that is opened up we have the lyrics to all the songs, definitely a good read. Quite surprisingly for a Gehenna record, the vinyl itself has centre labels and some matrix etchings. Usually we are just dealt a very basic record with no trimmings.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Burzum - Umskiptar 12"

I recently discovered a new local(ish) record store, and decided to have a look around when I was in the area. They stocked quite a variety of genres, but what grabbed my attention was the Burzum section. Now, I am by far the biggest and most dedicated Burzum fan out there, but I had heard bits of this album and decided to give it a go. I must say I am glad that I did, and although it may not be the most popular Burzum record out there, I definitely like it. 
For those not in the know, Burzum is the one-man brain child of Norwegian Varg Virkenes. There is plenty of infamy surrounding Burzum and a quick search will show what I mean, although I am not here to discuss such matters.
This album marks the 9th major release from the band since it's first recording back in 1992. I haven't heard a lot of earlier stuff, but from the snippets I have heard, this seems quite a change in direction. The lyrics are all taken from a classic Norse poem,  Völuspá, and the entire album has an incredible sense of atmosphere. It has been criticised for being a bit slow at times, and I can see what they mean. Although saying that, when you are in the right frame of mind, the minimalist sounds of "Gulladr" are just what you need.
This release was handled by several different labels across the globe; Byelobog Productions in Norway, Banc in Black in the UK as well as Candelight Records in the US. As such there are a few different versions out there; a grey, a bronze and a test press with with labels. I'd like to think the bronze matches the trimmings on the cover and colour of the font which would look nothing short of amazing. My version is the more standard black vinyl, which still looks quite impressive when both LPs are freed from their black dust jackets.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Unreal City - Masks 7"

Unreal City have had quite a sporadic release history. Back in 2008 they released an initial album,  Ephemeral Subsistence, which was actually pretty good. The following year they released a demo, also entitled "Masks", and have also appeared on a compilation 7" alongside Gehenna, Integrity and VVegas. A song or two has also appeared on label compilations from time to time, but they have hardly been the most prolific band out there. 
Very recently, they have released this new 7" EP, courtesy of Holy Terror records (no doubt helped by +Orr's Integrity involvement) and there are rumours out there that new recordings are also in the works. The 2009 demo cassette was also named Masks, and contained the tracks on this EP (plus a little bit more), but from what I can see these are new recordings for this release.
Two versions of this record were produced, the regular black and what has been described as "Human Flesh". I was interested by the latter to see just what would appear on my doorstep. It is really more of a light creamy colour, I think perhaps bone would have been a more accurate description of the true colour. There is also a slight hint of green marbled through, which is clearly just run-off during production.

HT are streaming half of the EP for free, sink your teeth in.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Gehenna - Land of Sodom 7"

About two years ago, A389 did a re-release of this record that came with a CD copy of "Upon the Gravehill". Back in 2008, a small label called Hit the Deck records released the initial version, and from what I've been able to see online, it looks like very few copies of this record every made it into the hands of those who purchased it. I tried looking for the label online, and was only to come across this (somehow I don't think that is the one....).

I have no idea what happened there, but I have been trying to track down a copy for a while. Every time I checked the net there seemed to be copies available, but for reasonably high prices. With the alleged rarity of the copies available, I felt this was probably going to be a record out of my collection for some time. Fortunately, a couple of weeks ago I felt like having another look and a member on Discogs happened to be selling a copy for a much more reasonable price. From time to time a price that is too good to be true is not a good sign, but this turned up in near mint condition!
 The cover artwork on this is the same red tinted wasteland as seen on the re-release, although this original has the band logo and "Land of Sodom" printed on the front.
As with other gehenna records, the physical vinyl is incredibly plain. There is no centre label and no etchings besides the standard ones issues by the pressing plant. I do like this about gehenna records, it is just their like music; straight up and without frills.
 The same four tracks are here as were on the reprint, although they do sound quite different. A389 labelled the reissue as a "few improvements" to the recordings, but I personally think the vocals have ended up sounding quite different. Although perhaps it is not yet safe to mention gehenna and A389 in the same sentence....

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Martyr's Tongue - Tape

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about a new tape from a band named Unit Togo. In the post I mentioned the band contained members from several places, with one of those being Martyr's Tongue. For whatever reason, Martyr's Tongue was a band that I had heard of for a while, but just never really sat down and actually listened to. In more ways than one, I feel I have been missing out, because now that I have actually listened to them, they are fantastic.
This tape comprises the band's first EP, the tracks from a 3-way split, and a cover of Nirvana's "Tourettes". This is the first time the "Cease to Exist EP" has made its way onto a physical format, and as I mentioned before I can't believe I was foolish enough to not listen to these guys sooner. With what can only be described as Puerto Rican Holy Terror, the band have produced 11 tracks of the some of the heaviest, fastest and most crushing tracks in my collection so far. There are come quite clear influences in there, but it never sounds like a complete emulation of records gone by, but rather quite a fresh entry into to the world of metallic hardcore.

 Head2Wall records are behind this great release, who have released two versions of the tape. 70 were produced on a clear tape, and 30 on the green (which was exclusive to H2W). At the time of my purchase, green were still available, but I bet they did not last that long.
It is often difficult to go that extra mile with tape packaging, but this does contain an insert with the lyrics on the back, and two free badges. The left badge is clearly the band's logo, with the one on the right being a Jason mashup of the classic H2W logo.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Integrity - Den of Iniquity 2x LP

The final piece in what has been one of my most exciting packages to receive this year was Integrity's Den of Iniquity. Along with Piss Off You Bloody Wankers and Ruined Empire, this formed a new OCR Holy Terror Package. As one of the first 100 people to place an order for this, I was lucky enough to receive some unexpected bonuses with my records. 
The secret material came inside a large yellow envelope, hand stamped and numbered. Mine was number 4/100, so close to #1! Inside the envelope (which I do appreciate as it was easy to open and re-close, without some sort of seal that rips the envelope when you try to open it) was a thank you note from Clint and OCR, always appreciated. On the back of this, and the other sheets were various Integrity flyers from over the years, a great bonus to get.
But onto the record, a double LP re-release of an album containing many of Integrity's early and rare recordings. A lot is covered here, from the early recordings such as Harder they Fall, through to tracks around the Seasons era, and even a few live recordings. A lot of these I have in one form or another, but there were a few gems I hadn't heard before, especially the live versions of 18, and a different recording of Diehard to what was on Palm Sunday.
The whole package is really outstanding, with a lot of effort put into the detail throughout. The cover artwork is incredibly intricate, and of course has the usual invisible ink trimmings. The inside has some rather violent artwork on the left hand side, and an early picture of the band on the right. Inside the sleeve is an insert written by A2, giving information and history behind each of the tracks on the compilation.
What also came as a surprise was the immense poster that was also lurking inside the sleeve. This thing is seriously huge, and folded into sixths just to fit into the sleeve.
There is then of course the vinyl, which are things of beauty. The come inside white sleeves, that have been stamped with the classic Integrity logos. On the first we also have a hand written number, mine being 163/201. Like Ruined Empire, this was originally released for RSD, with this particular version being limited to 201 copies. This version is on nice white vinyl, which is incredibly clean. Not a trace of other colours have made their way into the mix, and they look fantastic.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Integrity - Piss Off You Bloody Wankers 7" Flexi

Alongside the previously mentioned Rot in Hell 12', Organized Crime Records have also released a new Integrity 7" flexi, "Piss Off You Bloody Wankers", limited to a mere 250 copies. An original recording from 1992, it's quite a different Integrity, even for the time. It is really more punk oriented than the rest of their recordings, with their trademark blend of metallic hardcore hardly noticeable at all.
Many people are against the flexi format. Yes the sound quality is usually a bit inferior than it's wax brethren, but the idea is so cool that it outweighs that in my opinion. I love how the music is able to be reproduced on such at a material at all, that it is such a delight to be able to get another one. This time around it is no different, with the 1:30 track being on nice clear flexi plastic.
As you can clearly see, the record comes in a black and white folded outer sleeve with a very young looking Dwid on the front. There is also Integrity skulls galore on the front, and the back of the sleeve. The inside has some early photos of the band too, you shouldn't need telling who that is above.
Of course, Holy Terror has the track online for free listening. At just $1 to purchase, why would you not get your hands on this (if not physically of course). This (and the RIH record) were part of a special pack, so stay tuned for part III which will be arriving soon...

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Rot in Hell - Ruined Empire 12"

This record is something I've been excited about for a long time now. After the compilation record, Hallways of the Always, was released the band has always mentioned releasing a part two. Packed with all the great tracks from RIH in the last few years, Ruined Empire is finally here on a glorious 12".
As is the norm with Organized Crime Records, the packaging is superb, with another great cover artwork by Give Up. This opens up to a gatefold jacket with a very detailed image of a stone tunnel. Sitting just inside the right side of the jacket is an insert with the now infamous "Four-R" band logo. The reverse side has the lyrics to every track, which only just about all fit on the one page.
This was actually released a few months ago, as part of OCR's contribution to record store day. A part of me thought I might miss out because of this, but luckily they decided to continue releasing this record to the public. The version released as part of RSD was limited (not sure to how many), and was on grey and black marbled vinyl. This time around, OCR decided to release a more limited verison on a grey and black smoke vinyl, which looks outstanding. Only 111 copies were produced all together, mine is #34.
Of course no record can really be that good if all the good points are in the packaging, it has to have some great tracks too. Luckily, this has it in bucket-loads. Granted there are no new tracks on here, but every single one is brilliant in my books. Containing the tracks from the split VVegas, Integrity, Moloch and Wayfarer, the No Peace/War compilation, The Studies in Emerald 7" and the ever elusive Úlfhéðinn 7", the record really packs a punch. In fact the tracks from Úlfhéðinn were of special importance to me on this one, they were the only two I do not own, or have even heard before.
I did have high hopes for these, which were easily met. "A Vicious Joy", is a classic hardcore RIH track that is is perfectly encapsulated by the name. "
Nitsua Namso Eraps" is quite the opposite, a much more experimental track filled with noise samples and spoken words. It is actually quite the perfect bridge between the strikingly contrasted two sides of the record.
Much like they did with the first compilation album, a pre-release of a special edition set of all the records contained in the record was made. I was a tad too slow to get my hands on this, but maybe one day it will work it's way into my possession much like the first one did.