Oak – Your Mess As Much As Mine

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Label: Truthseeker Music / Hydrogen Man Records / State of Mind Recordings

It’s easy to take for granted the emotional and physical catharsis that a good hardcore record can bring about. After all, it’s over fifteen years since Jane Doe sent seismic shocks through the hardcore scene, and bands are still taking plenty of leads from that mighty album. Sometimes though, a record comes out from the underground that hits you right there, taking you by surprise with its strength and honesty. Your Mess As Much As Mine by Swedish trio Oak has done just that, and whilst there’s no ignoring the influence of bands like Botch and Converge on their sound, there’s enough nuance and more than enough sincerity here for Oak to have an identity all of their own.

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Deadwound – Identity Shapes

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Label: Black Bow Records

Identity Shapes may only be 22 minutes long, but the feelings of filth and dirt it inspires last long after the record has finished playing. The debut EP from Deadwound is a mix of sludge and belligerent Cursed-esque hardcore, delivered in an almost painfully physical way. The largely mid-tempo stomp of the band is weighty and powerful, with moments of faster post-Converge violence interspersed to ensure that the record is never one-dimensional, even if it does deal solely in different shades of black.

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2016 Favourites – And The Rest

2016 has been the year that saw me listen to, and review, more music than ever before. For every release that gets reviewed, there’s several that I don’t have the time to write something on; or that I listen to, but simply don’t get excited over. It’s also worth bearing in mind the purposes of this blog – exploring the underground. With the odd exception (such as the new Darkthrone), I have no interest in writing in the “big” releases; I want to help give some exposure and coverage to the small and underground, not go chasing whatever review or feature will get me the most hits. I’d also point out that it’s easy to lose sense of what actually is mainstream and underground when you spend so much time immersed in music. Sure, everyone may have access to Bandcamp and Youtube and a legion of Spotify recommendations, but  it’s easy to overestimate just how big our favourite bands are.

That said, there’s still some mainstream releases I’ve really enjoyed this year and want to share some thoughts on in another post. But here, I want to take the time to give shout-outs to those more underground releases which didn’t quite make the cut for my list of 25 favourites of the year.

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November Blasts

2016 is almost over, thank fuck. What a shithole of a year. But hey, not everything is awful – there’s always good, inspiring music out there to be found. Which brings us to this month’s short reviews, which takes in death metal from Encrypted on Drifting To The Impaled; absolutely not-kvlt metal on Biophobia by Bearstorm; ambitious noise rock by Phase Order; melancholic death-doom by Marianas Rest on the sorrowful Horror Vacui; bombastic, powerful symphonic black/death from Seven Sins with their album Due Diaboli Et Apocalypse; and feminist hardcore/powerviolence from the superbly named Cliterati. Enjoy!

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October Blasts

So, October has been pretty busy. There’s been quite a few big, exciting releases – not least of which are the new albums from Darkthrone and Planes Mistaken For Stars – and I spent a few days travelling around the country to see SubRosa on their first UK tour. Their shows were every bit as incredible as I hoped, and if you get the chance, I recommend you go see them.

For this month’s short review, there’s eclectic hardcore from Death By Fungi on In Dearth Of; psychedelic doom by Cities Of Mars with Celestial Mistress; discordant post-black metal by Simulacro on Echi Dall’Abisso;  harsh soundscapes of Perennial Disappointment by Concrete Mascara, which is anything but disappointing; raw death/doom with black and folk elements on Sangreal by Cóndor; and one of the most uncomfortable pieces of sludge/hardcore I’ve heard by Cowards on Still. Enjoy!

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Dead Man’s Chest – Violent Days

Label: BDHW Records

I’m not sure why, but I never really got in to previous releases by UK hardcore bruisers Dead Man’s Chest before. Something about their heavy brand of hardcore never quite clicked for me before, and whilst I could enjoy and like it, it was never to the extent I thought I should have. Well, new album Violent Days absolutely changes that. Heavier than ever, and with new vocalist Martin standing front-and-centre, Violent Days is an ample demonstration of just why Dead Man’s Chest have been able to keep going for ten years, and they show no signs of slowing down or mellowing out.

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August Blasts

I mentioned last month how excited I was over SubRosa coming to the UK, but that excitement has been matched this month by the announcement of a new Planes Mistaken For Stars record. I honestly never expected it to ever materalise, ever though the band have been playing shows for years since reforming. There’s few bands I hold in higher regard than those guys, so I’m very excited.

But, that’s for the future. For now, we have Bloodshed Remains offering up some hardcore Peace; Austrian D-beat/hardcore/grindcore band Six Score with Lebensräume; metallic French hardcore bruisers Pallass and their Devotion Of Souls; Yūgen from atmospheric black metal act Ashbringer; UK anti-fascist black metal band Dawn Ray’d with A Thorn, A Blight; and the pumelling split between Sea Of Bones and Ramlord. Oof!

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