Friday, 26 August 2016

MILLENCOLIN - 'True Brew' review



MILLENCOLIN - 'True Brew' review


So yeah, MILLENCOLIN are another of my fave 'growing-up' bands that have come back with another album recently, and those that, like myself, have missed the sound of their stellar, earlier, faster efforts, will be pleased to know that this is great stuff, and a welcome return to form. There's a perpetual urgency and energy throughout 'True Brew's 13 songs (that come in at just under 35 mins) of melodic punk / skate-punk that's been largely missing since the masterpiece that was 'Pennybridge Pioneers', and it consequently sounds surprisingly fresh, as though they've dug up a fresh dose of passion: something that is always impressive for a band on their eighth full length (ninth including 'The Melancholy Collection'), having been going for 24 years now with the same lineup. It's another lyrically interesting one too, touching on racism, relationship dynamics, and discovering what's important in life, and is vocally brilliant in both tone and melody, with some of the best verses and choruses that I've heard from Nikola for a while. I think most impressive for me on here is the consistency; albums like 'Machine 15' and 'Kingwood' had their moments, but were a little hit or miss, whereas this is fantastic from start to finish, from the super-catchy 'Chameleon' and 'Bring Me Home', through angrier tunes like 'Sense and Sensibility', and to vulnerable and emotion-driven songs like 'Wall of Doubt' and the brilliant 'Something I Would Die For'. Super pleased with these guys for this release that bears the maturity of later albums and injects the fun, energy, and passion of 'Life on a Plate', 'For Monkeys' and 'Pennybridge...'; and for those that that means nothing to, get this if you're into FACE TO FACE, NO FUN AT ALL, SATANIC SURFERS, or THE OFFSPRING.


xox

Friday, 12 August 2016

FACE TO FACE - 'Protection' review


FACE TO FACE - 'Protection' review


When I got into melodic punk-rock as a teen, FACE TO FACE were one of the first bands that I properly got into, and, despite not loving stuff since the album 'How to Ruin Everything', they've remained one of my favourites. Subsequent to that album, they've released one that I didn't like at all, one that was a little better, and have arrived at this, which, thankfully, is probably the best thing they've done in about ten / fifteen years. For those that aren't familiar with FACE TO FACE, they play melodic punk rock that sits well alongside bands like BAD RELIGION, DESCENDENTS, and THE OFFSPRING's faster stuff, but still has it's own sound, especially in Trever's distinct vocal delivery and arrangements. If ever there was an album to show how crucial Scott is to this band too, then this is it; his basslines on here are absolutely sublime (and are given a lot of moments to shine in the more guitar-bare sections), and Danny's drumming is on point too, especially when they play at speed (they have this particular, awesome speed that they only use once or twice per album, and on here it's on 'I Won't Say I'm Sorry'). As usual, lyrically this is more personal than political, and there are some pretty memorable choruses on here. Even if this isn't quite what they used to be capable of, there are some good songs on here, stylistically falling somewhere between the classics of their self-titled album and 'Reactionary', and their album prior to this, 'Three Chords and a Half Truth', and it's definitely worth checking out if you like that 90s melodic punk sound. A decent effort; I'd recommend the songs 'Double Crossed', 'Say What You Want', and 'Fourteen Fifty-Nine' for something a bit different, but I'd also like to stress how great their previous albums 'Don't Turn Away', their self-titled one, 'Ignorance is Bliss' and 'Reactionary' are, so they're worth checking out too.


xox

Sunday, 7 August 2016

CATHERINE ELMS - 'So Far From Whole' CD review


CATHERINE ELMS - 'So Far From Whole' CD review


You may know Catherine from one of a number of places; for her involvement in zines (and her blog SPILL THE ZINES), her work for the Swansea Feminist Network, or even for this, her solo musical project. I know, busy lady, right? Anyway, this four track EP is her latest (and I believe third?) release, and is a bit of a cracker. There'll be obvious comparisons to make to TORI AMOS, KATE BUSH and PJ HARVEY, but Catherine, who contributes piano / keyboards, bass, and vocals to her tracks, with guitars and drums coming from a selection of family and friends, brings a fantastic rock / grunge vibe to the table, making for a really full, powerful, and dark yet emotional listening experience, with a strong feminist backbone, including lyrics about a woman's right to be on stage instead of in the crowd. Personally my two faves on here are the last two; 'Not Enough' for that brilliant, chant-like chorus, and the closing title track for the wonderful piano melody, but a great EP all round.


xox

Friday, 15 July 2016

BASEMENT - 'Promise Everything' review


BASEMENT - 'Promise Everything' review


So after a short hiatus, BASEMENT are back with another ten tracks of their heavily 90s-influenced grunge / emo sound, and to be fair, I'm pretty glad they reformed because this is as good as anything that I've heard them do before. It's thick on the guitars with some great, emotive chordwork (that's brighter than what I recall of 'Colour Me in Kindness'), straight and heavy on the bass and drums, and as well as having some really good vocal melodies, the vocalist still plays on that dynamic between his slow, soft, and droney voice, his bigger, fuller singing voice, and that almost-shouting that he does, which gives this a lot of depth and helps to pace the songs and create some pretty big moments. There's something really cool about the simplicity of BASEMENT's stuff; it eschews any technical flare in favour of quite basic playing styles and arrangements, so it's easy to get into and will stick to you really quickly. If you liked their previous stuff (I really liked 'Colour...', and this is a great, if a little brighter, follow up) then you should have no problem getting into this, but if you're not already a fan but you like MILK TEETH, TIGERS JAW, or grunge / emo from the 90s, then this is as good of a place to start as any. My favourite tunes on here are the opener 'Brother's Keeper', the catchiest number 'Aquasun', and the closer 'Halo' which is simple but wonderful, so they might be a good place to start.

https://www.facebook.com/Basementuk/

xox

Monday, 11 July 2016

ALMEIDA - 'Social Media Circus' CD review


ALMEIDA - 'Social Media Circus' CD review


Anyone that picked up these guys' debut 'Fantastic Massacre', or has seen them live or even heard them before will know that they're mental. Utter loonatics, no doubt about it. They play a highly technical and thrashy punk / metal amalgamation (that even breaks for a short reggae rhythm in the second song and has a circus-y bit of keys in the fourth) that is relentlessly lightning fast on the drums in blasts and skate punk rhythms, both riffy and mathcore-twiddly on the guitars, bass heavy, and vocalled with a combination of deep, demonic growls, and soaring, power-metal melodies that at times reach ridiculous heights. Comparisons will always be drawn to bands like PROTEST THE HERO, but ALMEIDA definitely have their own sound and style (it's more skatepunk than metal really; think a heavier PROPAGANDHI), and if you're not daunted by very technical and proggy song structures, they're an awesome listen, and somehow fantastically tight live. The whole thing is musically sublime as always, but credit to Tom because lyrically this is class (I don't know how on earth he writes to this stuff), and he has some real stand-out moments on here... but I'll let you find them for yourself. So yeah, an ace follow up to 'FM', and they've made a video to the shortest song on here, 'Payday', so that would be a great place to start if you like metal / thrash / prog / tech / skatepunk crossovers...


xox

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

UNHINGED - 'Nostalgia' CD review



UNHINGED - 'Nostalgia' CD review


By the time this zine comes out, Stourbridge-based four piece UNHINGED will already have a second EP done, despite only having released this, their first EP back in December. 'Nostalgia' features four tracks of pacey, angry punk rock that has its hardcore influences firmly rooted in the old-school 80s and 90s, with elements of IGNITE and GORILLA BISCUITS coming through the more contemporary sound of bands like THE BRONX and CANCER BATS, and produced locally with a pretty DIY, lo-fi recording. Pacey drumwork, rock-infused hardcore riffs, and a combination of angry shouts and don't-give-a-shit attitude style singing that makes for some pretty catchy moments, all meld to make for an impressive debut EP. Check out 'Homesick' and its accompanying video for something to go on, and then go check out their new EP.


xox

Sunday, 5 June 2016

SVALBARD - 'One Day All This Will End' cassette review



SVALBARD - 'One Day All This Will End' cassette review


Oh man, SVALBARD are good; another band I feel hugely lucky to have shared the stage (well, floor) with, they play an astounding and melodically unique style of post-hardcore that is all at once heavy and melodic, epic and emotional, and on here, from what I recall, I bit faster than their previous releases, utilising a bit more double time and blasting, giving it a bit more of a hardcore punk / black metal vibe. Fans of anything from LIGHT THIS CITY, to CIRCLE TAKES THE SQUARE, to old DARKEST HOUR should absolutely love this. The male / female dual vocal works as brilliantly as ever, the two different tones interspersing considerately and intelligently, and occasionally joining to epic effect; the beautiful single string lead guitar melodies pierce the shroud of thick bass and heavy guitars perfectly; and the aforementioned drumming is really something to behold, tearing technically through these eight stylistically varied and well structured tunes (as well as a cool cover of VICTIMS' 'This is the End'). A solid album, well worth a look if you like your stuff dark, heavy, fast and melodic. Also available on record I believe, but the cassette (with chrome shell) is a beaut.


xox