Reviews August 2003
AVENGED SEVENFOLD -- Waking The Fallen (CD / Hopeless Records)
Only very few bands manage to create something completely new and outstanding these days. Thrice are one of them. Their album "The illusion of safety" totally blew me away me it came out as it combined melodic Emo, Hardcore and Heavy Metal melodies in a way I had not heard before. Avenged Sevenfold have been compared to Thrice in the past, so I was very excited to hear "Waking the fallen", their latest effort on Hopeless Records. "Unholy confessions" indeed is a mixture of Hardcore, Metal and lots of melodies that remind me to Thrice. But Avenged Sevenfold aren't just a rip off band but try to create a sound of their own. I think they did pretty well on "Waking the fallen" because there are some really strong moments on the album. Just listen to the fantastic "Chapter four" that truly rocks! Despite their outfit I wouldn't call the a Goth band, even though the band pic in the booklet might indicate that (cool Misfits belt by the way). Actually Avenged Sevenfold recorded a truly strong record, so go ahead and take a listen.
BETWEEN THE LINES -- Wake Up Call (LP / Rock'n'Roll Radio Records)
If you're into classic old school hardcore in the NY vein then "Wake up call" should be right for you as Between the Lines are totally blasting out 12 songs of this type of sound, being influenced by New York bands such as Killing Time, Sick Of It All or Warzone. Sometimes fast, sometimes more mid tempo the songs are all catchy and cool to listen to. Funny that this band comes from Belgium and not from new York 'cause the music is so much in that vein. But once again this is proof that you don't have to rely on New York bands only. The CD version comes out on Funtime Records, but I'd rather get the vinyl on Rock'n'Roll Radio Records because it contains an exclusive bonus track, this being a cover of the Warzone classic "Dance hard or die". Yeah!
BRANDTSON / CAMBER / SEVEN STOREY -- Split (CD / Deep Elm Records)
Three Deep Elm bands share this split CD, namely Brandtson, Camber and Seven Storey. It's the third part of a split series that is released on Deep Elm, the first chapter consisting of The Appleseed Cast, Planes Mistaken For Stars and Race Car Riot, the second one comprising Red Anima War and Slowride. I'd say that this third split release is worth your attention concerning the fact that there's a new and unreleased Brandtson song on it. I guess it's from the "Death and taxes" sessions and as I love Brandtson I was very happy to hear a new track by these guys. And as I expected it's once again a great song. Unfortunately Brandtson only contributed only one song, while Camber are featured with three and Seven Storey with two. All of these songs are previously unreleased. Unnecessary to say that Brandtson are my fave band on this EP, but Camer are really cool, too, especially their track "I could not care less" is amazing. Far above the usual indie stuff, Camber have the necessary drive to get your attention. Sometimes the vocals remind me to those of Knapsack/Jealous Sound or those of Blake Schwarzenbach (Jawbreaker, Jets To Brazil) which is an extra plus in my eyes. Third and last band on this EP are Seven Storey, but to speak of a band here is a bit funny because when I'm not completely mistaken Seven Storey consist of one person alone, this being Lance Lammers who handles all the instruments. So don't expect some lo-fi acoustic stuff witjh just guitar and voice, in fact Seven Storey sound like a real band. His two songs are cool, too, and so this release is definitely worth your attention.
BRIGHT CALM BLUE -- A Direct Approach For Casual Conversation (CD / Level Plane Records - Nova Recordings)
After their debut "Assymetry set" which came out in 2002 Bright Calm Blue are back with a six song EP which comes out on Level Plane Records (distributed in Europe by Nova Recordings). They remind me to a more Hardcore version of Fugazi, mainly because of the vocal melodies and the complex song structures. They draw their influences from the aforementioned Fugazi, 400 Years, The Police (?) and Yes (oh my God...), but fortunately I don't hear any Yes influences. After their singer left the band the bassist and drummer from Bright Calm Blue both share the vocals, and this dual vocal attack is pretty cool. Energetic, complex, passionate - that's Bright Calm Blue.
CAPITAL SCUM -- Freak Show (7" / Rock'n'Roll Radio Records)
Apparently Capital Scum have been around for a very, very long time because their first album came out in 1985! After 15 years of silence a new 7" EP comes out on Rock'n'Roll Radio Records from Belgium which contains seven new songs. The info sheet that came along with the 7" describes the music as old school Hardcore, but don't expect some Youth Crew type Hardcore. Rather than that the music's more in the direction of faster Punk Rock with more brutal vocals and not so many "happy melodies" if you know what I mean. It's not really my cup of tea, but maybe you'll like it.
CAPTURE THE FLAG -- Start From Scratch (CD / Go-Kart Records)
After two records on Conquer the World Records Capture the Flag are back with their third full length. I don't know these previous two records, but I think I should take a listen to them, because "Start from scratch" - which comes out on Go-Kart Records - is a winner. They remind me to a mixture of Dag Nasty and ALL, and there are surely worse bands to be compared with. Capture the Flag show a great and unique combination of both melodic punk rocking parts as well as more complex elements which is mainly due to the insane guitar work that can be found here. Considering the guitar parts they throw in you can also make out some hard rock influences from the 80s, but not in a way it gets on your nerves. Instead of buying all those crappy punk rock bands that all sound the same I'd rather buy this album that is really outstanding.
CONFRONTO -- The Insurrection (CD / Circulation Records)
I don't know too many bands from Brazil, so I was curious how Confronto would sound like. They toured their home country with Germany's finest Heaven Shall Burn some time ago, and I think that was a cool package, because Confronto also play Metalcore in the vein of Heaven Shall Burn, Caliban etc. and they don't sound any worse as the more well known acts. In fact I like their songs a lot. The lyrics are written in Portuguese but as this is the European version on Circulation Records (the album was originally recorded in 2001 and came out in the same year on Liberation and Cospe Fogo Gravacoes) there's an English translation of the lyrics included. Politically aware straight edge Metalcore is Confronto's thing. I like it and you will, too.
THE CONTROL -- The Forgotten EP (CD EP / Go-Kart Records)
After the first few seconds of "The forgotten E.P." I felt reminded to a mixture of Kill Your Idols and Shai Hulud. Well, that Shai Hulud comparison doesn't really fit as I found out a few seconds later. Instead, throw in a good dose of old school Hardcore (and I mean old school) in the vein of bands like Minor Threat or verbal Assault and combine it with newer bands that play a similar style just as the aforementioned Kill Your Idols or American Nightmare and you can get an idea how The Control sound: Straight in your face Hardcore, with some cool breakdowns and sing along parts that truly rock. Fuckin' great, I really love this high energy Hardcore. The songs on "The forgotten E.P." were already recorded in October and December 2001, so expect a new full length soon on Go-Kart Records. This EP is planned to celebrate the band's three year anniversary, so throw in this disc and party with them.
CRESTFALLEN -- s/t (CD EP / Robotic Empire Records - Nova Recordings)
This month seems to be the month of the beautiful layouts. The releases of Impure Muzik came with an outstanding artwork, and here we have the self titled EP by Crestfallen which comes out on Robotic Empire records and it also contains some very good artwork and packaging. Five own tracks of high energy Hardcore with lots of Metal influences, but Crestfallen are nevertheless different from all those bands playing Metalcore today, because they sound more destructive and noisy without losing their energy. Cool EP that features two cover songs, one by The Cramps that I don't really need 'cause I don't care much about The Cramps, the other's the song "Minor Threat" by the band of the same name. That latter cover is pretty cool, because everyone in the band takes over the mic to do the vocals and you once again realize how great Minor Threat were and still are. As I said, cool EP.
ESKIMOBABY -- In Some June (7" / Strange Starlight Records)
Eskimobaby were formed in the year 2000 after NOXA, the former band of their singer/guitarist and bass player split up. Afterwards they founded Eskimobaby and following some line up changes here's their first 7". Now how can I describe the music their playing? There's really no description that would fit perfectly, but I'd say the four songs on this 7" go in the direction of melodic indie rock, but unlike many bands playing this kind of style Eskimobaby are way slower at times (just listen to "Twenty minutes like an hour" or the beginning of "The 11th and three"), but there are always these great harmonies and melodies that make you wanna sing along. Especially the drums sound could have been more powerful, but considering that this is their first effort it's far above the average. Get this!
FINE BEFORE YOU CAME -- It All Started in Malibu (LP / Strange Fruit Records)
Fine Before You Came come from Milan, Italy, and "It all started in Malibu" is their third release to date after their debut album and a split EP with Mrs. Fletcher. Their name made me expect some hyper melodic emo in the vein of the Juliana Theory or Jimmy Eat World, but even though Fine Before You Came have indeed some very melodic elements in their songs, they definitely can't be compared with those two bands I mentioned before, as they are way more complex and sometimes noisy. I have to admit that I often have problems with bands that play too complex, because often I can't make out the song if you know what I mean. Fortunately that's not the case with Fine before You Came, because as I said, they manage to create a fine mixture of both complex and melodic parts and I'd really like seeing them on stage, apparently they rock as hell. They reside in Milan and have their own record label and agency (www.heartfelt.it). The CD version of "It all started in malibu" comes out on Green Records while the vinyl is released by Strange Fruit Records. Now you can decide which format you want to support. It's up to you.
FLAMINGO 50 / LACK OF REASON -- Split (CD / Prehisto Records)
Before I found this split CD in my mailbox I had never heard of the bands or the label before, so as always in these situations I was excited what to expect. Flamingo 50 start this split off with six songs of punk'n'roll in the vein of the Ramones etc. with female vocals. Founded in Liverpool in 1999 the band names as influences bands as the aforementioned Ramones, Minor Threat ("Alyson") or Bikini Kill. Even though I like the Ramones and love Minor Threat, Flamingo 50 can't blow me away. Second band on this CD are Lack of Reason from France with another five songs. They also have female vocals and there's another girl playing in the band as well as two guys. Their music is definitely more interesting than Flamingo 50, it's more in the vein of bands like Samiam or early Dag Nasty, but it's just natural that they can't quite compete with those acts. If I am right then this is their second release, and considering that it's a good start. But I have to admit that I still have to get used to the vocals. Anyway, this is surely no must have, but take a listen if you want.
GANTZ -- s/t (CD / Impure Muzik)
This month I received two records by the small French label Impure Muzik (review for the HK / Pledge Allegiance split see below) and both of them are layout wise far above the average release. If all labels would put their focus not only on releasing records but also on the packaging I think more people would actually buy their releases instead of burning them. Anyway, back to Gantz from France. Their self titled eight song album comes in an envelope with the cover artwork printed on it, a sheet of paper with some more artwork and finally the lyric sheet. And - surprise, surprise - the lyrics are written in French. Cool, I've never heard a Hardcore band before with French lyrics. The music is emotional, screaming Hardcore in the vein of bands like Shai Hulud, but in contrast to Shai Hulud Gantz are way more slow, and fortunately they're don't play some kind of Chaoscore that I don't like in most cases. The songs "La complainte de Ruteboeuf" features a piano and a violoncello which is a cool idea in my eyes. This is really, really good, so go ahead and support this band and their label.
THE HEARTACHES / THE AGITATORS -- Split (7" / Rock'n'Roll Radio Records)
The Heartaches as well as The Agitators both come from Antwerp, they each recorded two songs for this split 7" at Bart Agitator's own studios and they both share the love for Punk'n'Roll mixed with some Streetpunk influences. If you're into this kind of sound then stop reading and get ahold of this 7". The Heartaches released two full length records in the past on people Like You Records while this is the first recording effort for the Agitatros after a demo. The sound of the songs is ok considering it's a 7". There's really nothing more to tell about this record, check it out if you like this type of music.
HK / PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE -- Split (CD / Impure Muzik)
As I said in the review for the Gantz album, the Impure Muzik releases I received come in an outstanding and lavish packaging, and the split from HK (France) and Pledge Allegiance (Austria) is this month's winner when it comes to the layout. All lyrics come on a separate piece of paper that features artwork similar to the cover art, the lyrics are written down in English, French and German and there's also a long explanation to each of the lyrics included. I'm telling you this so that you can imagine how bountiful and abundant this releases is. HK start with three songs that are screaming and chaotic Hardcore, and even though this is normally not my cup of tea, HK manage to stay in my player longer than thirty seconds which is a good sign :-) Pledge Allegiance are net with four songs and they're the winners of this split as their songs are complex, too, but with more mosh elements and fast parts. Also the vocals are deeper than those of HK. Even though Pledge Allegiance have some complex moments, too, their songs are more "catchy" if you really can use that word here. Check out this record, you won't regret it.
I FARM -- Is Lying To Be Popular (CD / Go-Kart Records)
I Farm is obviously pretty much involved in the DIY scene as interviews with the band indicate. However, "I Farm is lying to be popular" comes out on Go-Kart Records. Maybe they wanna become popular by joining forces with that label? Ok, that really was a bad joke, I apologize. Let's rather go to the review instead. I Farm play a strange mixture of fast as well as super complex Hardcore, throw in some melodies and metal elements and there you go, here's their own sound. I don't know how to describe them in a way it would do them right, so I'd say you better check them out for yourself and find out how they sound like. Bands they're listening to at the moment include Dillinger Escape Plan, Converge and Dillinger 4. If these bands find their way into your CD player, too, then why not checking out I Farm?
MARA'AKATE -- A Significant Portion Of Our Their Discography (CD / Heroine Records)
Two Mara'Akate albums to review, both of them on Heroine Records from Italy. As the title of the first CD indicates this is a compilation of older and hard to find tracks, just like songs from the out of print split EPs with Racebannon and Fable, the "3-7-77" 7" on Redwood Records and some unreleased demo stuff from 1999, 24 songs in total. All the songs have been remastered fro your listening pleasure, but as Mara'Akate play something Noise-Violence-Screamo like I won't play this CD very often I guess. I'm not into that kind of sound, so maybe I'm the wrong person to judge if this is good or bad. I just don't like it, but maybe you do.
MARA'AKATE -- s/t (CD / Heroine Records)
The brand new Mara'Akate (well, as the songs were recorded in the summer of 2002 it's not really brand new) EP features six songs in the vein of the noisy, Screamo type Math Rock they showed on their previous releases. I still don't like this kind of sound, and these six songs can't change my mind, sorry.
NO COMPLY -- Mainly Confused (CD / RP Punkrock Records)
These are not the No Comply that just toured with Nerf Herder (the kings!) but a five piece from Germany that presents with "Mainly confused" their second album. To pick up the title: I'm a bit confused that this album (eight songs) is coming out now as it was already recorded way back in early 2001 and apparently the band is working on their third album at the moment?! But anyway, here it is and here's a review. I'd say No Comply play Melodycore that's mainly fast and in the vein of bands like Venerea, No Use For A Name etc. I know it's some kinda lame to always compare a (new) band with already better known bands, but sometimes it's helpful. The songs on "Mainly confused" have a good sound and are nice to listen to, but No Comply don't create anything new here. I mean that's just normal for a younger band, so if you're into this sound, check out No Comply.
ON THE MIGHT OF PRINCES -- Sirens (CD / Revelation Records)
On The Might Of Princes is a newer signing of Revelation Records and the Long Island, NY, based four piece put out one full length on Traffic Violation Records and a limited edition benefit split with Regarding I before. "Sirens" is their debut for Revelation Records and it's pretty good. It's hard to describe their sound, but one thing I can tell you for sure: The 12 songs on here are so are very hypnotizing and moving, so I'd really love to see them play live. Call it emotional music but don't expect some super melodic emo. "Sirens" was recorded in Boston, MA at New Alliance Studios (Cave In, Isis) and the layout features some very nice paintings. On The Might Of Princes is obviously a very socially active group as they booked and participated in the Stoney Brooke Feminist Majority group's Freedom Fest (the split I talked about above came out to raise proceeds for that Fest, too). As I said, their music is very intriguing, so why not checking them out.
POLE* -- Untitled Symphony Of Self-Destruction (CD / Circulation Records)
Finally Germany's Hardcore engine is back with a new record! After last year's three song promo CD I was very excited to hear a new Pole* full length. After a longer search for a suitable record label the boys finally signed to Circulation Records and "Untitled symphony of self-destruction" is the first Pole* release after their 1998 album "Sky conquerors are falling from the sky" and some line up changes. But that long break couldn't stop the band. In fact, "Untitled symphony..." is their best record to date in my eyes. Pole* still play the music they became known for: New school Hardcore with heavy grooves and aggression, and after all those Metalcore bands today the ten songs sound almost old school. The booklet features totally sick band pictures by the way. Good to see them back!
SICK OF IT ALL -- Life On The Ropes (CD / Fat Wreck Chords)
The kings of New York Hardcore are back with their latest record entitled "Life on the ropes". I somehow lost track of Sick Of It All after their two albums on East West, "Scratch the surface" and "Built to last". Back then I discovered more and more other bands and only noticed that they signed to Fat Wreck Chords after "Built to last" without having listened to the albums on Fat Wreck that came out in the next few years, "Call to arms", "Yours truly" and last year's live record "Live in a dive". Now after all this time I get back to this New York band that has influenced so many other bands. "Life on the ropes" is Sick Of It All at its best, starting with the unique mixture of moshing and groovy songs alongside fast Hardcore attacks and Lou Koller's inimitable vocals on top of it all. I think it's amazing how this band saw so many trends come and go in the almost 20 years of its existence. They always stayed true to themselves and their fans and that's why unlike other bands they still get so much respect from other bands and people into Hardcore. Even their major label albums couldn't stop people from respecting Sick Of It All as it is unfortunately the case with lost of other bands who put our their records on big labels and getting a lot of shit from people because of that. "Life on the ropes" was recorded in Brooklyn, NY, and produced by Dean Baltolonis and Sick Of It All themselves. Among tons of back up vocals there's one voice that can be distinctively heard out on the song "Paper tiger (Fakin' the Funk)": That one of Mr. John Joseph, the original frontman for the legendary Cro-Mags. One of the highlights of the record! "For now" is a similar singalong hit like their classic "Step down" and the opener "Relentless" came out on a 7" on Bridge 9 Records a few weeks ago with two exclusive tracks. The album comes in a nice artwork which was done by Mike Pappa who did the comic illustrations for their "District" video and also for the "Live in a dive" album. Anyway, I've been talking way too much. Buy this record, it rules!
STOP IT! -- Self Made Maps (CD / Robotic Empire Records - Nova Recordings)
After the Crestfallen EP here's another release from Robotic Empire Records, this being the "Self made maps" debut album by Stop It! from the USA. Reading the name of the band I expected some Thrashcore in the vein of all those 625 bands, but I as completely wrong here. Stop It! play complex and energetic Hardcore with lots of dynamics and rhythm changes that should appeal to all those fans of a more complex sound. As I listen to this kind of music only at times, I wouldn't say that Stop It! are my favourite band, but looking at the nice layout of the CD I think they're worth to be checked out.
SOULGATE'S DAWN -- Promotional Recordings 2003 (CD)
Soulgate's Dawn rose in mid 2001 out of the ashes of Quickshot and Brainflakes. After the addition of a new bass player and the vocalist from Fall of Serenity they entered Patrick W. Engel's Rape of Harmonies studios in the summer of 2003 (hey, just recently then) to record their first EP which lies before me now. What can I say, the music is fine pure Metalcore in thei vein of bands like Heaven Shall Burn or Caliban, even though Soulgate's Dawn mainly focus not so much on faster parts but rather on more Bolt Thrower like rhythms. These five songs are a pretty well done start fro another promising band in this genre, so watch out for future releases by this band. I don't know if this EP is for sale considering the title, but you can contact the band through firstname.lastname@example.org.
V/A -- Bad Scene, Everyone's Fault - Jawbreaker Tribute (CD / Suburban Home Records)
I can clearly remember the first time I heard Jawbreaker. That was a couple of years back when a friend of mine taped me a song called "Jet black" by a band I had never heard of before. The band's name was Jawbreaker, and "Jet black" was different from everything else I had heard before. Since then this song is one of my all time faves, not only by Jawbreaker, but in general. I heard that song over and over again and bought the album "Dear you" which included that song short after. As with "Jet black" I also listened to "Dear you" non stop. I love this album, and I can't understand why it was so criticized when it came out. Over the years I checked out the other Jawbreaker albums, and even though they're all great, "Dear you" still remains my favourite. As you all know Jawbreaker broke up some years ago and the members play in different bands now, the most well known of them Jets to Brazil featuring singer/guitarist Blake Schwarzenbach. How big the influence of Jawbreaker on literally generations of bands is pretty obvious when you listen to today's bands that often show noticeable Jawbreaker influences. Delayed for quite some time, the long awaited Jawbreaker tribute is finally out, featuring 18 bands/songs, 17 of them are previously unreleased. Bands included are Face to Face, Bigwig, Bayside, Travoltas, Fall Out Boy (remember the Simpsons?), The Reunion Show, Sparta, Nerf Herder, Kill Your Idols and more who all represent their versions of Jawbreaker songs. Of course the originals remain unequalled, but it's a lot of fun listening to these different bands. And finally Good Night Bad Guy (featuring Brandon Reilly of The Movielife) deliver a great acoustic version of the song that started it all for me: "Jet black". Get this tribute and especially "Dear you" from Jawbreaker.
V/A -- Too Young To Die (CD / Deep Elm Records)
I know, I know, in the last few months Deep Elm released many compilations, and in my opinion too much of them, because apart from the Emo Diaries and the Unreleased comp most songs have been released before. That's also the case with "Too young to die", the latest compilation from Deep Elm. All 20 songs (by 15 bands who are currently on Deep Elm or have been in the past) have been available on regular albums before, so you might wonder why this comp should make any sense. Well, it's in a way the accompanying CD for the "Too Young To Die" tour that took place from March 14 to April 13 2003 in the US and featured Brandtson, Red Animal War, Desert City Soundtrack, Settlefish and David Singer. The intention of that tour and also this CD is, as the title indicates, to prevent (younger) people from committing suicide and a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the CDs and the tour merchandise is being donated to the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention. So I guess it's good to support this compilation as the booklet also contains lots of information on this important topic and how to help. As the info sheet says: "Each song was hand-picked for lyrics that promote hope, faith, perseverance and survival as well as the understanding that you're not alone in feelings of depression, loneliness and doubt." Go ahead and support this purpose.