Reviews July 2004


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


AMON AMARTH – Fate Of Norns (Metal Blade)

“Versus The World” was one hell of an album and the question was: Will AMON AMARTH be able to keep that level with “Fate Of Norns”? They are, although there´s no second “Death In Fire” on the album which was the ultimate Death Metal anthem in 2002 (at least in my eyes). But every single one of the eight new songs is of such high quality that the lack of a real hit doesn´t matter at all. After listening to “Fate Of Norns” several times I think that “An Ancient Sign Of Coming Storn” and “Once Sealed In Blood” are closest to what one would say to be the outstanding songs of the album. Musicwise nothing much has changed since “Versus The World”: The songs are all midtempo, very melodic and sometimes even majestic. The intensity of the songs sometimes reminds me of the mighty Bolt Thrower which is a big compliment in my eyes. All in all I guess no one who likes “Versus The World” will be disappointed. It seems like AMON AMARTH are absolutely unable to release a really bad album. Get this when it comes out on September 6th! (Tobi)



BEACH -- 2nd Hand Cannibals (CD / DIY)

Beach is a three piece from Berlin, Germany, and even though "2nd hand cannibals" is a totally D.I.Y. release - Beach produced and mixed the nine songs and released the album all on their own - the layout and artwork is better than some label release. The nice packaging made me quite curious what to expect, and this expectation grew even stronger when I read that these guys describe their sound as Alternative, Independent, Noise Rock. A pretty appropriate description I guess, but somehow I feel reminded to bands like Soundgarden or The Smashing Pumpkins, too, when listening to the album. I don't know why, I just think the vibe of "2nd hand cannibals" can be compared to that kind of sound. So as this is D.I.Y. the way it should be it's needless to say that you should support this band or at least get in touch with them. Drop Peter a line and ask him about the price, postage etc.: (Stefan)



BREAK IT UP -- s/t (CD / AM Records)

Together with Livewire Records AM Records is one of my favourite Hardcore labels these days because lately they've come up with some damn fine releases just as Righteous Jams, In Arms Reach, the European license of The First Step's EP and Break It Up. Break It Up arose out of the ashes of prominent UK bands Vorhees and 30 Seconds Until Armageddon and their initial goal was to play traditional Hardcore inspired by bands like Uniform Choice, No For An Answer and Insted. December 2003 saw the release of their demo which sold out immediately and now AM Records puts out this five song EP of old school Hardcore at its best. The first song has some Up Front / Wide Awake influences as well due to its enormous speed and as the rest of the songs it features tons of back up vocals, breakdowns and a killer sound. Bands like Break It Up put old school Hardcore back on the map and I love it! Forget about all those negative Hardcore bands trying to rip off American Nightmare / Negative Approach, this is the real deal!! (Stefan)



THE BRIGGS -- Leaving The Ways (CD / Sideonedummy Records)

The Briggs come up their debut six song EP (a full length is scheduled for earl next year) and these young guys (their average age is just slightly over 20!) should appeal to everyone into singalong Streetpunk. Many bands in that genre are just plan boring to me, but The Briggs are really cool I think. Joe Gittleman, the bassist from the Mighty Mighty Bosstones apparently thought the same as he produced this EP and also did the bass for this recording as The Briggs' previous bass player left respectively was kicked out of the band. "Leaving the ways" reminds me to Rancid at times (but which band in the Streetpunk genre isn't influenced by the forerunners of that sound?), and some of you might already know them from their contribution to the Vans Warped Tour 2004 compilation. Oh yeah, The Briggs will play this year's Warped Tour, so catch them if you have the chance. (Stefan)



THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT -- Begins Here (CD / Modern Music)

I was really surprised to find out that the Butterfly Effect are quite a name in their home country Australia with their debut full length "Begins here" still being in the top 100 album charts since it came out in Australia in August 2003! While their self titled debut EP from 2002 came out on local indie label Modern Music, "Begins here" is licensed through Roadshow Music respectively Sony Music in Europe. And it's a really cool album I think. Even though it's nothing new to come up with Alternative Rock mixed with the so-called Nu Rock or whatever you wanna call it, The Butterfly Effect really created a cool record that sometimes reminds me to bands like Tool because of its intriguing harmonies and variation of both quieter and energetic moments. So before grabbing the latest Linkin Park record, better check out The Butterfly Effect because a) their music is better, b) there are no stupid Rap parts on "Begins here", and c) the album includes three video clips which are pretty nice. So what are you waiting for? Get this one. (Stefan)



CATARACT – With Triumph Comes Loss (CD / MetalBlade)

And I thought it just couldn’t get any better… In my eyes “Antigone” and “The Oncoming Storm” are milestones in Metalcore, but “With Triumph Comes Loss” is even beyond that! This album is just incredible! I don´t hesitate one second to compare CATARCT´s third album to Slayer´s “Reign In Blood”. Of course, not everything on this record sounds like Slayer – we get the typical shouting/screaming and Tough Guy-Moshparts - , but it´s obvious that “Reign In Blood” had a strong influence on the songwriting for “With Triumph Comes Loss”. Just listen to “As We Speak” and I´m sure you´ll know what I mean. I could write on for ages but to put a long story short: Every single song on this album is a killer and if you like “Reign In Blood” (I know, we all do!) and think that The Haunted are the nowadays´ better Slayer there´s really no reason that should keep you from getting this masterpiece. I repeat: You MUST buy this! “With Triumph Comes Loss” will be released on September 6th. (Tobi)



DAMAGE CONTROL -- What It Takes (CD / Livewire Records)

Thanks God Youth Crew Hardcore is back on the map with bands like The First Step and Damage Control. Damage Control from Oslo, Norway, feature Espen, former guitar player from Oslo's finest Sportswear (R.I.P., remember their great "It runs deep" 7"?) and Daniel, singer from Germany's old school sXe heroes Eyeball (R.I.P.), but funnily Espen is handling the vocals this time while Daniel is one of the guitarists. "What it takes" features 12 songs of fast and energetic old school Hardcore with lots of backups and energy but also some parts that remind me to Dag Nasty. If you think a mixture of the D.C. legend, Chain of Strength and Ten Yard Fight would make you go crazy, then pick up "What it takes". And be sure to catch them live this August on their tour throughout Europe with label mates The First Step. What a killer package! (Stefan)



DISTRICT -- Don't Mess With The Hard Punx (CD / People Like You Records)

Even though District are around for quite a few years now - remember their split LP with Bad News from 1998? - it's this year's August 16th that sees the release of their debut full length after some EPs and the current "My babies number" 7" on People Like You Records. Lead singer Marc Ader is also doing the vocals and handling the guitar in The Revolvers while guitarist Pascal Briggs is the vocalist of Public Toys. But enough namedropping here, let's got straight to the music on "Don't mess with the hard Punx": For the most part I'd say they can be compared to English Punk bands like the Buzzcocks mixed with some Street Punk a la Dropkick Murphy's (listen to "Pop stars") without that whole bagpipe stuff that mostly gets on my nerves. And even though I'm not the biggest fan of English Punk (in fact I can't stand most of today's bands into that sound) I find District cool in a way (songs like "My babeez number" are really nice). I guess they're better than a host of other similar acts, so why not giving them a chance? (Stefan)



DOWNSET. -- Universal (CD / Hawino Records)

To be honest, the only thing I've heard from Downset so far was their self titled first record that featured the hit (yep, I think you can say that) "Anger". That one came out on Mercury, a major label, and so did the second album, called "Do we speak a dead language?" while the third one "Check your people" was released via Epitaph in 2000. Now after four years and appearances at the "Tattoo the Earth" tour (featuring Hatebreed, Slayer Slipknot etc.), their fourth effort "Universal" finally sees the light of day, this time on Seattle based Hawino Records. And even though I don't know their second and third album, not much has changed music wise compared to the debut. They still draw their influences from Black Flag Hardcore to Public Enemy Rap to Rage Against The Machine. Not exactly the mixture I prefer, but I have to admit that the musicianship and energy is definitely given. By the way, the cover art isn't credited, but I'm pretty sure that it was done by Travis Smith who some of you might remember for doing the cover art for legendary progressive Metal band Psychotic Waltz. All in all a solid record even though it's not what I'm putting on too often these days. (Stefan)



DUESENJAEGER -- Las Palmas O.K. (CD / Go-Kart Records)

As you may have noticed I'm often a bit reluctant when it comes to bands with German lyrics and especially to German Punk bands. But surprise, surprise, Duesenjaeger doens't make me wanna puke. But hey, it's not that much of a surprise, because they're not one of those boring German Punk idiots running around like fools, drinking booze all the time and making bad music that mostly deals with alcohol (yawn!), the police etc. Instead Duesenjaeger play honest Punk Rock, it's as simple as that. Very often you can hear some kind of a melancholic vibe that reminds me to Leatherface at times and also some up tempo parts. The lyrics are also clever and I'm sure if this band would come from the US everyone would be into them. Now what about some open mindedness? Check out this band, they really deserve it. "Keiner"  and "Leinen los, bereit Matrose?" rule! Damn, they really sound like Leatherface. More of that! (Stefan)



THE FIRST STEP -- Open Hearts And Clear Minds (CD / AM Records / Livewire Records)

Even though "Open hearts and clear minds" already came out in 2002 in the US I think it's crucial to write a review for that record anyway because I was very rarely that enthusiastic about a record in the past. In the last few years I had the impression that traditional youth crew Hardcore in the vein of bands like Ten Yard Fight, In My Eyes, Time Flies, and the old bands like Youth of Today, Insted or Chain of Strength was pretty much dead. Most bands that put out old school records were more into the kind of pissed off Hardcore bands like Right Brigade, Holding On etc. were playing, and even though I liked some of those bands (like Carry On) I found it pretty sad that classical youth crew bands could seldom be heard. But then The First Step came up and everything changed. I immediately felt reminded to the times I first heard Ten Yard Fight and early Bane and I fell on love with The First Step straight away. This is pure youth crew Hardcore the way it was meant to be: Fast, breakdowns, tons of backup vocals, energy, honest and positive lyrics. As I said "Open hearts and clear minds" came out in the US in 2002 and is now availabe in Europe through AM Records. Both versions include the five song EP "Open hearts and clear minds" as well as their 2001 demo (which includes am cover version of the DYS classic "More than fashion"), but I recommend the American version because it contains six more live songs. My favourite record this month, that's for sure. Go and check them out on their European tour this July together with label mates Damage Control. Gooooo!!! (Stefan)



FROM FIRST TO LAST -- Dear Diary, My Teen Angst Has A Bodycount (CD / Epitaph)

The times when you could buy an Epitaph release and tell before even listening to it that the music was a mixture of Bad Religion, NOFX an Pennywise are long gone and the label's current roster features a wide variety of bands/styles such as Hot Water Music, Bouncing Souls, Death By Stereo, Converge and so on. From First To Last are a new band on Epitaph and once more they add a new dimension to the label's sound. Their music can roughly be categorized as a mixture of Emo, Metal (the double bass kills!) and Hardcore, and even though there are literally hundreds of bands around these days playing a similar sound, From First To Last are definitely worth your attention. Lovely melodies find themselves amongst complex Metal parts while the singer spills his heart out. 12 songs are featured on "Dear diary,..." and they rock. You know, there are bands that try to sound like Thursday or Thrice, the forerunners of this sound, and there are bands that try to come up with something unique in this genre. Coheed and Cambria come to my mind and, yes, From First To Last. Both bands show some high musical ability that can clearly be heard during the complex and technical parts. "Dear diary,..." is outstanding and highly recommendable. (Stefan)



THE HEAVILS – Heavilution (CD / Metal Blade)

The bandinfo describes the sound of THE HEAVILS as somewhere between System Of A Down and Static X. I sure know System Of A Down but I´m not very familiar with what Static X is about. But it might be of some help for you to imagine what “Heavilution” sounds like. When I listened to the first two songs I put THE HEAVILS somewhere near Thrash Metal. But with the following titletrack all that was blown to shit and the tracks “Reflection” and “Sinking Time” also go in a totally different direction. So what I can say is that “Heavilution” offers a lot of variety and it´s not one of those albums where everything is predictable and everybody knows what´s up next. I can´t help it, but when listening to “Heavilution” I get that “Early 90s” feeling. That may sound like “Heavilution” has nothing new to offer and that we´ve heard it all before, but that´s not the case. It´s just that a song like “Heavilution” reminds me of the Crossover-style that was popular these days, although it doesn´t sound like Faith No More or the likes. As I said before some tracks sound like some kind of Thrash Metal like e.g. Pantera on “Cowboys From Hell”, other songs have some slight C.O.C. “Blind”-era influences and all that mixed up with Nu Metal riffs and effects. To put it short: Maybe the bandinfo is right. I can´t tell because I don´t know Static X too well. So I´d say “Heavilution” is a sure shot for those who are into the aforementioned bands. By the way: I still don´t get it why bands still put 20 minutes of noise or nonsense at the end of their record. That´s just annoying although nobody´s forced to listen to that stuff. "Heavilution" will be out August 23rd. (Tobi)



IN ARM'S REACH -- s/t (7" / AM Records)

Records that feature artwork by Mike Bukowski are in most cases pretty cool alone by the fact that the artwork rules, and in the case of In Arm's Reach the music is also damn fine. This five piece from Belgium presents six fast hard hitting and pissed off Hardcore tunes pressed on vinyl and contains former members from Third Season and Justice. Since their inception in late 2002 the band played tons of shows all over Belgium and the UK, released a demo that sold out pretty fast and finally this 7". The songs are in the vein of contemporary Hardcore bands like Carry On and everyone into this kind of sound should get a hold of this 7" because it's killer! If you manage to sit still while listening to the songs on here you must be dead. I think I stated before that AM Records is a damn good label, and this 7" is proof of that. Come on, get yourself together and pick up this single. (Stefan)



JUPITER JONES -- Raum Um Raum (CD / Matilda's Records)

When it comes to the best info sheet I've ever seen, it must be the one that came along the "Raum um Raum" record from Jupiter Jones, no doubt about that! Instead of just sending out one sheet of paper with more or less useful information, Jupiter Jones created some kind of beautifully crafted fanzine with pictures, biography, discography, lyrics etc. etc. As well as the split CD with Springtime (review see somewhere else on these pages), "Raum um Raum" comes out on the band's own label Matilda's Records and I have the impression that these guys really live for the music. And as the music on "Raum um Raum" is so cool, please support Jupiter Jones! You get over 46 minutes of fantastic music in the vein of bands like Hot Water Music (the vocals) mixed with Indie bands like Kettcar on a very, very high level. Some songs feature some very cool samples as an introduction, the production is killer and the songs are so diverse and outstanding you won't believe this is a rather new band. And also the lyrics are cool, and I think that's really not that easy because they're written and sung in German. Melodies, energy, variety - it's all here. I think Jupiter Jones just made a new friend with "Raum um Raum" and you definitely have to check out this excellent band, they rule! (Stefan)



KILL VERONA -- Trauma (CD / Livewire Records)

What I really like a lot about Livewire Records is that they not only have some of today's best Hardcore bands under their wings (The First Step, Damage Control) but that they put out records that belong to various musical genres. These records come from bands that the guys from Livewire Records call their friends and truly believe in. One of these bands is Philadelphia-based outfit Kill Verona. Musically they're very different from bands like The First Step, but there's one connection between both of them and that is: Passion. Kill Verona play driving, ambient music that combines elements from various genres such as Radiohead-influenced Pop to forceful Juliana Theory like anthems, and I'm really into this band. In their hometown they already have a strong following that made the release show for "Trauma" a sold out experience with 500 people in attendance. Their full length debut is scheduled for later this year, and I'm looking forward to that one. Until then I keep on spinning this five song EP (23 minutes playing time) in my player. (Stefan)



KLEZ.E -- Leben Daneben (CD / Loob Musik)

Klez.e (what kind of a name is this?) from Germany are one of the very few bands I like that have German vocals. Maybe that's because their music is really outstanding and not boring as terrible bands just like Blumfeld (fuck them!). Klez.e have been compared to bands like The Notwist or Radiohead, and even though I don't like most of Radiohead's music I have to admit that "Leben daneben" really touched me. Also Coldplay comes to my mind when I have to describe their music, because the vocals are really emotional, the songs are mostly quiet and there are lots of electronic parts ("Leben im Glas") on this record. But Klez.e are more complex than Coldplay, too, but that shouldn't be something bad, right? Sometimes I also feel reminded to Elliott, but without a doubt Klez.e have their own sound. Now take in mind that this is the first record of those boys (as far as I can see), so "Leben daneben" is really, really cool. 52 minutes that make you think it was autumn, and considering the weather at the moment this band delivers the perfect soundtrack. (Stefan)



MAPLE -- Another Side Of Maple (CD / Strange Fruit Records)

Maple's newest release actually isn't that new when it comes to the songs included. "Another side of Maple" features nine songs, three being acoustic versions of songs from their 2003 album "Dayly charm", three tracks taken from the great "Schematic" single (also from 2003), two cover songs ("Teardrop" by Portishead and "El cienpiés" by I-don't-know-who) and a remix of an older song. What can I say about Maple? There are bands with female vocals and there are Maple, it's as easy as that. I already liked the "Schematic" single and "Another side of Maple" appeals to me as well. I'm not sure if it was necessary to record the Portishead cover because Maple's version doesn't differ that much from the original which is already great, but who cares. Oh, I think I haven't mentioned so far that Maple are from Barcelona and feature a former Standstill member (which I don't like that much by the way). The vocals delivered by Laura are probably the most characteristic feature in Maple's sound, and they're great. If you wanna get a first impression of Maple check out this record. I'm sure you wanna know more about them afterwards. (Stefan)



ONLY CRIME -- To The Nines (CD / Fat Wreck Chords)

Russ Rankin (vocals, Good Riddance), Bill Stevenson (drums, Descendents, ALL, Black Flag), Aaron Dalbec (Bane, Converge, Velocity Engine), Zach Blair (Hagfish), Doni Blair (Hagfish). You know these guys, don't you? Now what would you say if those five individuals would decide to do a band together, tour with the Dropkick Murphys and put out a record? "Nah, I don't believe that" you think? Well, think again, because "To the nines" is the first album by Only Crime who consists of the aforementioned people and it's quite cool to see how each member brought in his personal influences. "R.J.R." reminds me to ALL due to its dissonant breakdowns, the faster songs could have been on one of Good Riddance's records, and there are also some Bane influences to be found. Surprisingly this melange works quite well and I'd say that Only Crime as a whole sound pretty much like early Hardcore bands, mostly like Black Flag. Most of the times it's mid tempo songs on "To the nines", and for fans of old Hardcore like the abovementioned Black Flag this is a sure shot. Oh, and fans of the members original bands will like this, too. I'm sure. P.S.: "Sedated" rules! (Stefan)



PAINT THE TOWN RED -- Pt. II: Home Is Where The Hate Is (CD / Join the Team Player Records)

After the cool split CD with label mates Rise and Fall, Munich's very own gang Paint The Town Red are back with their second full length "Pt. II: Home is where the hate is". Already the debut was well received by fans and critics alike, and not much will change with the second album apart from the fact that even more people should get into them because PTTR kick ass! They started out as an energetic Hardcore band in the vein of bands like Unbroken and Bane and their sound and live shows are really Hardcore and not just some kind of fashion show. "Home is where the hate is" features totally cool and aggressive Hardcore tunes, mostly in mid tempo with some faster outbreaks. The title track features guest vocals by Stuttgart's very own Jogges Sidekick by the way. Marco, the singer, runs Join The Team Player Records and Avocado Booking while guitarist Christoph is the main man behind Let It Burn Records. If you know these labels you will agree with me  that these guys are heavily involved in today's Hardcore scene and not just one of those "here today, gone tomorrow" bands. The words "honesty" and "deidication" come to my mind. PTTR recently added Marco from Munich's indie outfit Flyswatter on guitar and Nanouk (ex-Costas Cake House) on drums (who resides in my former hometown Karlsruhe, cheers mate!) and with a strong release like their second album (which comes with a somber yet beautiful layout) they should take over the scene by storm. (Stefan)



PARIS IN FLAMES -- A Tribute To... (CD / I.C. Recordings)

Imagine a mixture of Waterdown, Boy Sets Fire and Pole* and you get Paris in Flames. Paris in Flames was founded in 2002 and since their inception they played with bands like Snapcase, The Hope Conspiracy and Cable Car Theory. Like Waterdown or Boy Sets Fire, these dudes mix melodic Hardcore with aggressive elements, and it's especially these aggressive parts that remind me to Germany's Pole*, in particular the screaming vocals. Some guitar solos even remind me to some early Pearl Jam, but that's probably the only thing the have in common with the Seattle Grunge band. Rather than just trying to rip off bands like Thursday (like so many bands are doing these days), Paris in Flames come up with a more diverse sound, so it's cool the Invictus Crew picked them up. By the way, Patrick W. Engel (producer of countless bands such as Heaven Shall Burn or Soulgate's Dawn) played the drums on one of the songs. A pretty good debut for this band, watch out for them. (Stefan)



RENTOKILL -- Back To Convenience (CD / Rise or Rust Records)

Rentokill from Austria included a very nice info sheet to the CD they sent me because it's not one of those "this is the best band you've ever heard and they are close to becoming superstars in their country" type of things. Thanks guys, I'm really thankful for that. The music on "Back to convenience" (15 songs with a total playing time of over 41 minutes which is definitely value for money!) is very much in the vein of bands like NOFX and let's say Good Riddance (and some weird Country influences on "Revenge of the animals"?!). The first song of the album could without a joke as well be found on one of the latest NOFX albums, and the rest of songs is also not too far away from probably the most influential Melodycore band. On the other hand the vocals remind me to a mixture of Good Riddance and Rancid, and sometimes I feel reminded to said Rancid as well ("Go and get it right"). You see, "Back to convenience" is anything but original or revolutionary, but who cares? As long as the music is cool I don't care. And the songs really are fun listening to, the production is good and as a special goodie Rentokill come up with a cover version of one of my favourite Rancid songs, "Olympia W.A.". Well done, guys! (Stefan)



RIGHTEOUS JAMS -- Boston Straight Edge (7" /  AM Records)

I have to confess that I think the name of these Boston iron minds is rather strange, and you'll always have to remember that there's only one band that deserves to feature the word "righteous" in its name, and this band was the mighty Righteous Pigs, ha! But apart from that there's really nothing that can be criticized concerning this release. This 7" includes the demo of Righteous Jams that came out in 2003 and got amazing feedback. And people were right with praising this band because they rock as hell (except for "Righteous dub", haha). Imagine a mixture of DYS (even though not as ultra fast as the legend) and maybe In My Eyes and Carry On and you know what to expect. It's incredible how many young, promising, hungry and great Hardcore bands are popping out everywhere these days. A full length album is scheduled for release later this year, and in the meantime check out this 7". (Stefan)



RISE AND FALL -- Hellmouth (CD / Join the Team Player Records)

Together with their label mates Paint The Town Red (with whom they recently did a split EP), Rise and Fall are one of the most promising Hardcore bands to come out of Europe (from Belgium to be precise). Their sound can be compared to bands like (old) Integrity meets Madball meets the Cro-Mags and needless to say, the songs kill. Rise and Fall rose from the ashes of Kingpin and The Deal, and for some live shows they received help from Dead Stop and Congress members. "Hellmouth" really is a hell of an album, because the production rules (no wonder, it was recorded at CCR Studios in Belgium where bands like Aborted, Liar or Congress have been before), the artwork by Dave Quiggle (All Out War, Disciple A.D. etc.) is very nice and the songs shred. If you're looking for some tight aggressive Hardcore that hits you like a punch in the face, Rise and Fall are the real deal. (Stefan)



THE SETUP -- Nine Kinds Of Pain (7" / AM Records)

The Setup is another band from Belgium that releases their debut 7" on AM Records and like the other bands on that label The Setup also come up with a cool release. Unlike their label mates In Arm's Reach, The First Step, Break It Up or Righteous Jams The Setup are not so much into old school Hardcore 100% but mix traditional Hardcore with a more modern Hardcore sound in the vein of bands like The Suicide File and The Hope Conspiracy. They started when Thumbs Down called it quits and added Dries from Belgium's Circle on vocals to the group. "Nine kinds of pain" is a very good start for this band and another proof that AM Records puts out one quality release after the other. And if that wasn't enough, the 7" comes with a separate lyrics sheet and pink vinyl. (Stefan)



SOMMERSET -- Say What You Want (CD / Eat The Beat Music / Pirate Records / Sony Music)

I remember that I liked Sommerset's last record "Fast cars, slow guitars" (still one of the coolest titles) a lot and when I catched them on one of their countless German shows in Karlsruhe some time back I liked them even more. Now their new album "Say what you want" is out and in my opinion it marks the highlight of the band's career. The 12 songs are just excellent. Melodic, rocking, not too mellow, sometimes with a little melancholic edge and great choruses. Sometimes I feel reminded to Alkaline Trio and also some Hot Water Music (the vocals), and I don't think Sommerset have to hide behind these names. They are the most successful Hardcore/Punk band from New Zealand and with relentless touring they deserve that position more than anyone else. The song "Inside" is going to be the (first?) single taken from "Say what you want", but I don't know if it will be available as a separate CD or if it will only be give to radio stations etc. Anyway, a video had been shot for this song and hopefully it will receive some airplay to promote this cool album. Even though "Inside" is a nice song I wonder why they chose this track as a single/video because there are even greater songs on "Say what you want". Bands like Sommerset really deserve a growing attention and a wider audience because they work hard for that (this year alone sees their third European/German tour, and remember, they're from New Zealand). Take a listen to this record, I bet you will like it. (Stefan)



TINY Y SON -- Conversation Zero (CD / RP-Punkrock)

According to their label, Tiny-Y-Son did the best record RP-Punkrock released so far. And after their label "Conversation zero" blows Strike Anywhere and Thrice away. Even though this is a really, really strong record I think it's stupid to come up with these kind of phrases, because Strike Anywhere and Thrice are bands that came up with a whole new sound and defined a whole new genre. But in most cases the bands don't write the info sheet so whatever... Apart from this info sheet "Conversation zero" is a very good Hardcore record and one of the best out of Germany ever. Sure, the music is anything but original and indeed a mixture of Strike Anywhere and Thrice, but as I love both bands Tiny-Y-Son convinced me with their six song debut EP. Imagine a Metal-like Thrice part at the beginning of each song and an ensuing high speed Strike Anywhere part with vocals resembling those of Thomas (Strike Anywhere) and you have the exact sound of Tiny-Y-Son (isn't that name taken from a Star Wars character?). As I said, not very original, but close to the class of the originals and therefore highly recommendable. (Stefan)



TRAKTOR -- s/t (CD EP / My Favourite Toy Records)

After My Favourite Toy Records hooked me up with the great Caitlyn album last month they sent me the self titled EP from Traktor from Sweden this time. I really liked the Caitlyn record a lot, but I have to admit that Traktor's sound is not my cup of tea. Don't get me wrong, the six songs included are energetic and all, but Traktor's blend of Indie and Hardcore with screaming vocals isn't exactly what I put on my turntable on a regular basis. I guess they kick more ass than bands like The (International) Noise Conspiracy - which I think can be named as a crude comparison - but apart from "And shut existence" I don't care that much about this EP, sorry. (Stefan)



TRANSMISSION0-- 0 (CD / Go-Kart Records)

Transmission0 features ex-members of Dutch bands Reveal and The Void and according to their own words draw influences from bands like Isis, Cult of Luna, Neurosis and Refused, but I'd say the Refused influences can only rarely be heard. Moreover it's a combination of soundscapes and aggression that can be found on the debut of Transmission0. On the one hand you can find heavy parts on this record (running time over 52 minutes) but on the other hand there are dark and soundtrack-like parts on here. I don't know, these quiet yet menacing parts remind me to Tiamat's masterpiece "Wildhoney" a bit even though the vocals are different. Transmission0 are unquestionably coming up with a sound far away from the ordinary and for that they have my fullest respect. The fact that they have a permanent keyboard player among their ranks adds some really cool elements to the band's sound and everyone into the aforementioned Neurosis, Cult of Luna and yes, even Tiamat, should check them out. (Stefan)



UNEARTH – The Oncoming Storm (CD / Metal Blade)

Holy Shit! It seems like 2004 marks the breakthrough of Metalcore. After As We Fight´s “Black Nails And Bloody Wrists” and Heaven Shall Burn with “Antigone” UNEARTH´s “The Oncoming Storm” is the third really outstanding Metalcore release this year. The debut album (after an E.P.) “Stings Of Conscience” was more than just a promising start and now – more than three years later – UNEARTH seem to be at the top of their development: The sound – which has been created by Adam Dutkiewicz (Killswitch Engage) – kicks some serious ass, the moshparts make you shred everything in sight and the guitar leads often remind of Iron Maiden and are nothing but adorable (“Zombie Autopilot”). UNEARTH are even surprising with some (not too many) clean sung parts which may be the biggest difference between “Stings Of Conscience” and “The Oncoming Storm”. If you are at least a little bit into Metalcore you must have this! So we´re waiting for the new Caliban album. I guess it´s going to be very hard for them to keep up with “Antigone”, “Black Nails And Bloody Wrists” and “The Oncoming Storm”. We´ll see. Release date: August 23rd. (Tobi)



YESTERDAY'S RISING -- When We Speak, We Breath (CD / Fearless Records)

The guys from Yesterday's Rising all have really bad haircuts, but that shouldn't be a criteria when it comes to describing the music, right? And I guess my haircut is not that good, too (even though a lot better than theirs, haha), so what the hell? "When we speak, we breathe" is the debut EP from this young band and I'm really impressed. The five songs were produced by Don Lithgow (Blink 182, Unwritten Law, Finch) and for everyone into bands like Thursday this is a must have. You get a mixture of Hardcore, Indie/Emo and Metal with both clean and screaming vocals, and even though thousands and thousands of bands come up with this kind of sound these days (seems to me this mixture is what Melodycore was in the 90s) Yesterday's Rising manage to keep my attention focused on the songs on this EP. I honestly can't tell what makes them more interesting than the average band playing this style, but maybe it's the damn good songwriting these guys have to offer. And the vocals. And the guitars. And the rest of the EP. You see, I'm pretty much into it and I really advise you to check this band and their EP out, they certainly deserve it! (Stefan)



V/A -- Livewire Records Sampler Vol. II (CD / Livewire Records)

This comp is a nice way to get an impression what's going on in the Livewire camp. It features 8 songs taken from already released or soon to be released records, and these songs/bands are: Kill Verona, The Transit War, Running Like Thieves (feat. the former singer of Bold), Mouthpiece (a song from the discography that should be out soon), Damage Control, Bold (from the upcoming live record), Face the Enemy (yeah!) and The First Step (yeah!!!). You see, all killer, no filler. Support Livewire Records, because those guys are really honest and dedicated. (Stefan)