Thieves – LP I (Review)

ThievesThieves are a US hardcore band and this is their debut album.

Thieves play dark, violent hardcore. I can’t help but like this kind of relentlessly bleak and abrasive music. Over the course Continue reading

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Abstracter/Dark Circles – Split (Review)

Abstracter Dark CirclesAbstracter are a Sludge/Doom band from the US, and Dark Circles are a Hardcore band from Canada.

Both of Abstracter’s full length albums, (Tomb of Feathers and Wound Empire), feature regularly in my listening. And with good reason; their brand of heavy, blackened Sludge/Doom is expertly done. On this release they contribute 2 tracks, lasting almost 20 minutes in total.

Barathrum starts off showcasing the band’s blackened aspect, with dark, murky blast beats charging through a sea of tar. This rather quickly spends itself, leading into a slow, sludgy crawl through murkiest waters as Abstracter embrace their dirty Doom side. Occasional forays into speed and groovier territories comprise the remaining running time, with the singer’s thick growl accompanying you the entire way.

If you haven’t encountered Abstracter before then this song is as good an introduction as any into their harsh, underground Sludge Metal.

But we’re not done yet, as there’s a second track; Where All Pain Converges. This is a little longer than the first and generally a bit slower and more considered. If Barathrum showcased the band’s harsher side then this one showcases their more atmospheric. That’s not to say this isn’t harsh and heavy, (it is), but that it also has more of a blatant emotive quality to the guitars than the soul-crushing nihilism of the first. Mixing slower sections with some more upbeat parts, the overall mood is maintained throughout and Abstracter once again show why they’re so very good at what they do.

After this onslaught of despair and misery, we leave Abstracter to wallow in their pit of pain, and approach, timidly, Dark Circles. This band offer up a different form of gloom with their characterful brand of dark Hardcore. Being familiar with their previous work on MMXIV, it’s good to catch up with them again and here they give us 4 songs, lasting just under 13 minutes.

Ashen starts us off with a squeal of feedback before violently picking up the pace with the band’s dark blend of abrasive Hardcore. One of the things I like about Dark Circles is their ability to inject an emotive bleakness into their raging chaos, engaging the listener and prompting them to move closer, despite the inherent danger. The second track Void follows on in a similar theme, (but with added atmosphere), and both initial tracks blur by in a haze of anger and distorted malice.

After these typically short and nasty affairs both of the next tracks are much longer by comparison, relative to this split and to their work on MMXIV. Isolate starts immediately, all blackened teeth and bile. The longer playing time allows the band the opportunity to flesh out the more atmospheric side of their sound that briefly reared its head during Void. This shows itself to be an apocalyptic Sludge/Doom influence, heavy and foreboding, before the Hardcore energy picks up once more.

The final track is called Epilogue (Quietus) OP. 28 No. 4 and is a little different, as the name suggests; here the band give vent to a dark ambient side and swamp the listener with a slow-building tense piece of drone that creates a nicely unsettling and worrying atmosphere.

Both bands have contributed some very nice work to this split release, and although they do play different styles they also have more than enough overlap and similar themes to complement each other perfectly. As splits go, this works a treat and is definitely one you should check out.

Lambs – Betrayed from Birth (Review)

LambsLambs are an Italian blackened Hardcore band and this is their début EP.

You gotta love Blackened Hardcore. A sub-genre that takes the best of the violence and darkness from Hardcore and Black Metal? Yes please! This style is getting more and more popular and has already resulted in a plethora of good bands such as Hexis, Plebeian Grandstand, Dark Circles, Ancst, Cowards, Funerals, Protestant and Flesh Born, to name just a few. Some bands go slightly more one way or the other, while others, like Lambs, meet both genres in the middle. That, and a bit of Post-Hardcore thrown in for good measure.

This is a quality little release that showcases what Lambs are capable of, and it seems that they should have big things ahead of them if they can keep this level of quality control and intensity up for a full album. Well, big things for a small sub-genre at any rate.

The aforementioned intensity doesn’t mean it’s a Blackened blast fest, (although they can blast when they need to); Lambs have a darkly emotive and fanged assault that never lets up regardless of the speed they play at. In this way they can be compared to any number of modern violent Hardcore bands, as they keep on pushing and pushing with the relentless riffs, to make sure their point is rammed home; be this by straight forward assaults, dirge-fuelled slower sections or angular, atypical melodies. Lambs cover all of the bases.

There’s only three songs here but contained within them is a lot of dark intent and malevolent ambition. As calling cards go this is up there with the best of the style and I can’t wait to see what they do next.

Play at full volume.

Dark Circles – MMXIV (Review)

Dark CirclesDark Circles are from Canada and play Hardcore. This is their latest release.

This is dark, violent Hardcore with a D-Beat element.

There’s a tendency at the moment for dark Hardcore bands to have a Blackened influence, (like Flesh Born and Protestant, for example), which I’m all for as it sounds great, and although Dark Circles fit in well with this style, they’re also different; they have a very obvious Punk background that mixes with the Blackened influences to sound warped, disturbed and evil in their own charismatic way.

The best word to describe Dark Circles is hostile. Really, really hostile.

The guitar sound is utterly abrasive and seems sharp and rough enough to do some real damage. On top of this the acid vocals spew all kinds of hatred and venom, so much so that you begin to wonder if the singer is in fact human at all. It’s a visceral display of hostility, (yes, there’s that word again).

There’s a boat-load of aggression here for sure, but it’s not a wild, killing rage; this is focused and tight, and all the more lethal for it.

These songs channel what must be a never-ending rage into coherent and dangerous-sounding songs that have more to them than initially meets the eye. The Blackened, harsh melodies and the angular, piercing riffs don’t just exist to assault the listener; there is method and intent to these tracks, the key to which is the quality songwriting.

Energy, enthusiasm and dynamics are displayed in abundance, and the band know how to pace themselves. They never let up the intensity though, as even in the rarer moments of reflection and almost Post-Metal darkness that they occasionally slip into for short moments, there’s still the rage and hatred, briefly and barely tethered whilst the band collectively get ready to resume their terror strikes once more.

This is almost 26 minutes of state-of-the-art Blackened Hardcore horror. Yes, it’s an essential listen for anyone who likes this kind of thing.

Turn the volume up, turn the lights out and let your anger take over. Dark Circles are here to guide you.