Apes – Lightless (Review)

ApesApes are a dark hardcore band from Canada and this is their debut album.

I love it when you find a band that don’t limit themselves to what they play, exploring multiple genres and bringing everything together with a love of extremity and savage delivery. Continue reading

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Cowards – Still (Review)

CowardsCowards are a blackened hardcore band from France and this is their latest EP.

I do so very much enjoy the work of Cowards. Their last album, 2015’s Rise to Infamy, was a tight ball of violent blackened extremity filled with hardcore’s passion and sludge’s ugly heaviness. Still continues this theme, boasting three new tracks and two covers. This is 19 minutes of music guaranteed to stop you in your tracks and then hit you around the head. Continue reading

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.

Grieved – Grieved (Review)

GrievedGrieved are a Swedish Hardcore band and this is their début album.

Grieved play dark Hardcore with plenty of venom and bite. This is a grim, nightmare vision of Punk and Metal, where destruction is commonplace and fear is everywhere.

Riffs are darkly emotive in a downbeat style and the songs take the positive energy of Hardcore and turn it in on itself, cannibalising and tearing at itself so that only the energy remains, inverted and corrupted. It is still a vibrant energy though, and these songs bristle with life and dark potency.

The singer screams out his words sounding like shattered glass given voice. His delivery is consistently engaging and has enough charisma and character despite essentially just shouting through these 29 minutes.

Across these songs the band show themselves to be adept at songwriting. These tracks are well-thought-out and have an emotive energy to them that’s undeniable. This is brought to the fore by the guitars and their interplay with the vocals, both of which are very satisfying in their own right.

There’s very little speed or urgency on this, it’s pretty much mainly mid-to-slow paced, revelling in its broodiness and building intent. When faster parts do appear, it’s like a coiled serpent has suddenly decided to strike.

I have really enjoyed this. I like that it focuses on songs and structure to deliver its negativity rather than overly relying on pure brutality or rage; this is more Born from Pain or Throwdown than Converge, although the positive message is entirely missing.

Highly recommended.