Reviews March 2005


Voice of Reason, c/o Stefan Muench, Dreihalde 15, 73527 Hussenhofen, Germany



ABOVE THIS FIRE -- In Perspective (CD / Life Sentence Records)

Life Sentence Records is a really cool label I think and released some truly great records in the past. Another winner are Above This Fire from Cleveland who put out their first full length album called “In perspective” on Life Sentence after their self-released five song debut EP in 2003. Above This Fire could be categorized as a mixture of Comeback Kid (just listen to the beginning of “Reaction”), Metal and Hardcore. I know, there are way too many MetalCore bands around these days and most of them more or less sound the same, but it’s not fake if I call Above This Fire original enough to catch my attention. Unlike most other bands of this genre they come up with true originality and also the vocals are very cool and once again remind me to Comeback Kid. Really strong and instead of getting the latest standard MetalCore boredom, check out this promising band. (Stefan)




THE ANTHEMS – s/t (Demo CD)

The Anthems are a Punk band from Orange County, and even though their sound has a quite melodic edge, it’s different that other O.C. bands, e.g. the legendary Adolescents or Social Distortion. Ok, a song like “We told you so” sometimes reminds me to O.C.’s finest, the Adolescents, but all in all I’d say that The Anthems are a little less Surf influenced. Four songs are on this demo CD, one of them (“Gestern”) is song in German. The sound is quite good as the demo was mastered at Capitol Records in Hollywood. The only thing that is I have to “criticize” is that the vocals sound too much like those of horrible German “Punk” band Die Toten Hosen who I can’t stand AT ALL! Anyway, apart from that it’s a nice demo, nothing special, but who cares? Contact: (xStefan)




ASTPAI -- Feeling Safe In Programmed Channels (CD / Rise Or Rust Records)

Astpai is another cool Punk band from Austria. Quite a while ago I was fortunate enough to check out their country mates Rentokill who already proved that Austria seems to have a solid Hardcore/punk scene. Astpai describe their sound as a mixture of Paint it Black and None More Black, and the vocals indeed sound a bit like those of the former Kid Dynamite singer who's now in None More Black. While the mid tempo parts really can be compared to None More Black, the fast parts don't remind me that much to Paint It Black or Kid Dynamite, because especially Kid Dynamite managed like no other band to write 30 second anthems. But ok, a song like "Own thoughts denied" IS in the vein of Pitch Black. Now if you're into these bands/sound, you might want to check out Astpai. If so, check out Rentokill as well, because in direct comparison I must say that I like Rentokill more. (Stefan)




CALLEJON -- Chronos EP (CD / My Favourite Toy Records)

The award for this month’s best packaging of a release goes to Callejon, that’s for sure. I always like it when bands come up with a nice layout, because in this case I have the impression that the band really stands behind their music. Call me strange, but that’s just the way it is. Anyway, Callejon (Spanish for Dead End street) can not only convince me from a visual point of view, but also from the musical point. On the whole you could classify Callejon’s sound as MetalCore, but unlike most of the countless other MetalCore bands these five guys come up with something really fresh and innovative. So don’t expect another Heaven Shall Burn rip off melody mixed with In Flames like guitar parts followed by Hatebreed inspired mosh as so many (too many!) bands present these days, but, as I said, something original. Of course you will find some of those ingredients I just mentioned also in Callejon’s songs, but I definitely think that they are not just another MetalCore band. For the record: The 7 songs (playing time over 22 minutes) were mastered by Magnus Björk at Sound Like A Hit Studios in Sweden where bands like Children of Fall or Leiah recorded before. Go ahead and check out this promising band, you won’t regret it! (Stefan)



DARK MASS -- Dark Mass Medium (CD / PZDTS Records)

Dark Mass were formed in 1997 in the Ukraine, released their first demo in 2000, their second one in 2004 and finally their third in 2005 which lies in front of me now. First I was a bit surprised to find out that there are no vocals on the seven songs but that it’s an all instrumental album. Therefore you’ll find extensive solo parts on here as well as many keyboards. To be honest, I am no big friend of solos in Metal songs, and Dark Mass can’t change my mind either. Some parts remind me to the almighty Psychotic Waltz (r.i.p.) and are really cool, so I don’t quite understand why the band describes their sound a s melodic Death/Thrash/Black. I’d much rather say this is Progressive Metal in the way of bands like the aforementioned Psychotic Waltz. If they’d have a fitting singer and a real drummer instead of a programmed drum computer (at least that’s how the drumming sounds to me) they could make a huge step forward. Anyway, if you are interested, get in touch with them through (Stefan)




ELEVEN MINUTES AWAY -- Arson Followed Me Home (CD / Deep Elm Records)

Eleven Minutes Away from Ontario, Canada, stand for the "new" Deep Elm sound in my eyes. While the latest release of their label mates Settlefish (see review below) could be seen as "classic" Deep Elm sound, Eleven Minutes Away play a mixture of Emo and Hardcore with both screaming and melodic vocals. I am truly surprised that this sound got so popular in the last years, and I am even more surprised that there are still bands around who manage to add something fresh to this sound despite the limitations of this sound. Eleven Minutes Away is one of those bands that are still interesting to me and don't make me think "Oh no, not another Thrice/Thursday/whatever clone". 12 songs can be found on "Arson followed me home" and they are all cool. There's really nothing more for me to say about this band but check them out and watch out for the video for the song "P.S. I hate you". (Stefan)




ENIAC -- All That's Left Of Us (CD)

If I am not completely wrong Eniac were featured on one of the later Deep Elm Emo Diaries compilations with a song. Thanks to their dedicated fans, “All that’s left of us” finally sees the light of day after it was recorded way back in 2002. It comes out that late because Eniac split up after the recordings and the record was put on hold. Fortunately these 10 songs finally are released because they are just wonderful and it would have been a real shame if they would never have been given to the public. Seriously, these are some of the best songs I’ve heard in a long while. Eniac played a mixture of Emo and Indie, very melodic and just beautiful. To describe “All that’s left of us” (what a fitting title) not as a must have wouldn’t do this album right. Some of the songs go back to the inception of the band in 1999, and all tracks were mixed by Ed Rose (Get Up Kids, Appleseed Cast etc.). Eniac will play some farewell shows for the people who encouraged them to finally release this masterpiece, so if you have the chance to see them live, don’t miss them. In any case you should get this tour de force called “All that’s left of us”. (Stefan)




THE GO FASTER NUNS – Under Neon Light (CD / Go Kart Records)

The Go Faster Nuns is surely one of the coolest band names I’ve heard in a while. Founded in 1999 and a couple of singles and a debut called “Teenage love beats” later, the Nuns come up with their second album called “Under neon light” that was already recorded in November 2003 to April 2004?! I wonder why it took so long to put it out. Maybe because it comes out on the Nun’s new label, Go Kart Records. Mix melodic Punk with Devo and you get The Go Faster Nuns. This record rocks, so go see them on this year’s Go-Kart Does Germany Tour. (Stefan)





NEAERA -- The Rising Tide Of Oblivion (CD / Metal Blade Records)

I think with all this Metalcore-hysteria going on one has to think really clearly which record to buy and which one to skip. It seems like everyone is looking for the new Unearth or Heaven Shall Burn so market gets flooded with releases that nobody needs. From the late 90s on Germany has always been good ground for Metalcore bands (like Caliban, Maroon, Heaven Shall Burn and more) and it seems like this tradition is going on with NEAERA. Of course, one has to admit that it´s nothing new that these five guys are presenting on their debut full length. But it´s as always: Some releases get you by the throat and others don´t. And “The Rising Tide Of Oblivion” definitely gets me going. First off: This record is really diverse which is a big point in my eyes. There´s nothing more boring in Metalcore than all those Moshparts you´ve already heard from almost every other band. Most of the songs on “The Rising Tide Of Oblivion” are pretty fast and that´s just how it should be done. Some parts even remind me of good old Swedish Death Metal. What more needs to be said? I mean, it´s just hot or not with Metalcore these days and this records is hot. (Tobi)



PITCH BLACK -- This Is The Modern Sound (CD / Revelation Records)

After their self titled debut from 2003 (not forgetting their split CD with The Enemies on Lookout Records in 2000), Pitch Black are back with their new album called "This is the modern sound". Their debut on Revelation was a records that was quite ok in my eyes, but nothing outstanding and didn't move me that much. But their latest effort is really cool, because you can clearly hear that this band has evolved over the years and found its own style. Basically Pitch Black is a Punk Rock band, but different from most other Punk bands, because they cite different influenced and styles in their music, e.g. by the integration of keyboards/organs or harmonies that are quite uncommon for this genre. Probably not everyone's cup of tea but definitely original and very entertaining I think. For the record: Pitch Black features former members of Screw 32, The Nerve Agents, Big Rig and Cat 5. Check it out! (Stefan)




SETTLEFISH -- The Plural Of The Choir (CD / Deep Elm Records)

"The plural of the choir" is the second full length by Settlefish and it is amazing. "Kissing is chaos" is the start of 15 great songs, and believe me, this record does not get boring even after multiple listening sessions. Whenever I listen to "The plural of the choir" I feel reminded when I first listened to Deep Elm bands. This was in 2000 I think and I felt that this label does not only put out music, but stands for a certain style of music. And this style can be found on this record. Jonathan Clancy from Canada is the singer of this Bologna, Italy, based band and sometimes they remind me to the Appleseed Cast even though Settlefish use a lot less electronics. The album was produced by Brian Deck who recorded bands like Modest Mouse, Tortoise and The Sea and the Cake in the past, and I think that every fan of the "early" Deep Elm sound will love this band/record. Unhip Records from Bologna, Italy, releases "The plural of the choir" in Europe excluding the UK, while Deep Elm takes care of the rest of the world. Get it, put it in your player and dance a while, upset ;-) (Stefan)




SMOKE OR FIRE -- Above The City (CD / Fat Wreck Chords)

Yeah, Smoke or Fire rules! Smoke or Fire from Richmond, VA, are the latest signing from Fat Wreck Chords and they really grab you right be the throat and scream at you “Sing along!” what you do without the slightest hesitation. Influences from bands such as (newer) Hot Water Music or Avail or noticeable, yet “Above the city” is quite original and very entertaining. I bet that this band is killer live because I can hardly sit still while listening to the 12 tracks on their debut record, so go out and see them and sing along real loud. Highly recommended! (Stefan) 





SNUFF – Six Of One, Half A Dozen Of The Other (1986 – 2002) (CD / Fat Wreck Chords)

I can clearly remember the first time I heard Snuff. That was when I bought the Fat Wreck compilation “Survival of the fattest” in 1996 where Snuff were featured with the song “Nick Northern” which I found very unusual for a Punk compilation as Snuff mixed melodic Punk Rock with horns and organ parts. I liked that song very much and listened to it quite a few times. However, I didn’t know that Snuff had been formed way back in 1986, split up in 1991 and reformed in 1994. So when I first heard of this band in 1996 they already had been putting out records 10 years earlier. After I had discovered Snuff, I neither listened to them on a regular basis nor did I check out all their albums. Therefore this “Best of” compilation is really made for people like me because it features 25 (!) of Snuff’s best songs from 1986 to 2002 PLUS another 25 (!!) songs on a second disc, these being B-sides, rarities, unreleased or bonus tracks which makes 50 (!!!) songs in total. Now that’s quite a bit, ain’t it? Snuff started out as a melodic Pop Punk band when Punk was almost completely dead in the UK and later added atypical instruments like horns or organs to their sound. It’s truly fun listening to the songs and a perfect start to explore the unique world of Snuff. (Stefan)



TEARS FROM THE SKY -- Power Symbol (CD / Life Sentence Records)

After two demos and various contributions to compilations, Montreal’s Tears From The Sky come up with their debut EP that comprises six songs (25:07) of Metal. And I do mean Metal. No MetalCore or something like that, just plain Metal in the vein of bands like In Flames etc. That means both melodic guitar harmonies are combined with both tuneful and brutal vocals. Nothing new or outstanding, but I think fans of this kinda sound might be surprised to find out that this band is that skilled on their debut. No wonder as Tears From The Sky already formed in 1999. As I said, for fans of this sound this is a sure shot. (Stefan)





TEMPER TEMPER -- s/t (CD / Revelation Records)

Cool, a new release by Revelation Records. I read on some Message Boards that people were kinda surprised to hear that a band like Milwaukee's Temper Temper put our a record on Revelation, a band being influenced by the likes of T-Rex, Gary Numan (!), The Misfits, A Certain Ration and PiL to name a few. But honestly, did those people really expect that Revelation would put out some new Youth of Today, Bold, Chain of Strength etc. sounding band again? I guess not. If you look at Revelation Records you can clearly see the evolution this labels has made since its inception. Lately they've put out some more experimental stuff, and one of these bands is Temper Temper. And believe me, their self titled debut is great. I was not very enthusiastic about this band before I had even listened to them because the only influence of theirs I really liked are the Misfits, with bands like T-Rex or Gary Numan being anything but good music to me. But this record is totally cool. I think you can quite clearly hear the band's Punk/Hardcore/Indie roots because the basic beat is very straight forward (mind you, this is no full speed ahead kind of beat, but a very rocking one) mixed with electronics and lots of energy. Temper Temper sometimes remind me to bands like The White Stripes or The Von Bondies, maybe because legendary producer Jim Diamond who worked with the aforementioned bands was also responsible for the great production on this record. So I wouldn't be very surprised if Temper Temper could be heard in Indie clubs in the near future. They definitely deserve your attention, because this record rocks! (Stefan)



WINTER SOLSTICE -- The Fall Of Rome (CD / Metal Blade Records)

What are the essentials of a good Metalcore-release? In my eyes it´s a load of aggressiveness going along with a good portion of melody and, maybe most important, diversity. “The Fall Of Rome” offers all of this. This full length is the band´s second release after last year´s debut “The Pulse Is Overrated” and brings 10 tracks of heavily Thrash Metal influenced Metalcore to your home. And this is what makes this record so outstandin in my opinion. It´s not the usual copying of Swedish Death Metal riffs but catchy and melodic Thrash Metal guitars. Somehow it makes me think of Dew-Scented, but well…it´s just me. All the songs are pretty fast which is really refreshing among all those bands that are putting one moshpart after the other. And by the way: The sound is over the top! The only problem, if there´s one at all, may be the singer: He reminds me of Karl Buechner (ex-Earth Crisis) and that guy from Overcome which means that some might find the singing monotonous. I don´t have any problems with this and I must say that I´m really stoked on that one. (Tobi)




ZERO MENTALITY -- In Fear Of Forever (CD / GSR Music)

In moments like these I really feel old: Looking at the pictures of the band members in the booklet, reading their birth dates and recognizing that I am older than every single member. And not only by a few months... Mind you, I just turned 30 this month, so am I really allowed to review this record? Yes, I think so. "In fear of forever" is the debut album of this German band and it's a real killer! Zero Mentality are coming straight to your face and take no prisoners. The music is pissed off and in the vein of bands like Madball (mainly because of the vocals which also remind me to Agnostic Front and Sidekick) and Born From Pain, and the 10 songs on this record blow you out of your armchair. Honestly, just listen to a track like "Choose to lose" and if you still manage to sit still you must be dead. Now this is a must have for everyone into Hardcore. Get your hands on this one! (Stefan)