Reviews Coming Soon

Album Review: TBA

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Album Review: Hammock – Chasing After Shadows… Living With The Ghosts

...At the end of the day, nothing seems suitably comparable with the immersive and incredibly uplifting experience that Hammock offer. The songs are more like watery images of moments in time. ‘You Lost The Starlight In Your Eyes’, for instance, is a gentile train journey with lush, green landscapes drifting past before it all rapidly changes to ravaged sands beaten by the sun and the wind, all ending in a mist-covered, bombed-out ghost town. Then, ‘How Can I Make You Remember Me?’ conjures up a mental picture of a crystal-clear, bluer-than blue dive site swimming with all manners of marine life. No matter which track, there is always a mental image to explore.

Be it the echoic chime of a keyboard, the rumbling of an insistent bassline, the soft-shuffle of drum brushes, or an imperceptible, curiously winding series of vocalisations, you’ll find yourself lost in a world of your own creation. There aren’t many bands that allow their listeners to have so much input into the end product. Had enough of suckling the poison from vapid dancefloor stompers or soul-less copycat pop songs? Let Hammock be your antidote.

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Album Review: Purified In Blood – Under Black Skies

'Under Black Skies' goes completely against the grain. For a start, it’s an album that gets stronger as it progresses. How refreshing to find a work that doesn’t have all it’s big hitters up front, ready-labelled to roll them out in single sequence. It’s almost as if Purified In Blood are holding them back to reward the devotees. This is also their, supposedly, difficult second album, coming four years after their debut, 'Reaper Of Souls'. Well they’ve made a mockery of that premise. One more thing to consider: between their first and second albums, this Nordic sextet announced their demise due to divisions in the band’s philosophies. So how have they managed to come back stronger than ever before?

Just the fact that they’ve got Matt Bayles (Mastodon, Isis, Botch) involved speaks volumes. Their committed lyrics have never been in doubt but here they seem even more focussed, controlled and pinpoint – yes, this is a band on a mission. You just have to listen to the demonic presence that lurks within this construct. It reaches out with great bony fingers to stir beligerently at a bubbling cooking pot of sounds. The drums regularly release allowing dark chords to gather strength before firing off great thundercracks; the sneering vocal seemingly rips out it’s own throat to lump wodges of hardcore and burnt black metal posturing at your feet; the double-kick has gone sub-level to make the floor around shake and rattle. There is so much here that sounds unhinged that by ‘Mouth Of Doom’ you’ll probably be cowering behind the sofa. This is the musical equivalent of letting an axe-wielding serial killer into your bedroom.

‘End Is Now’ and ‘Flesh And Frost’ are quite possibly the most genius pair of side-by-side tracks I’ve heard since Lamb Of God gave us ‘Set To Fail’ and followed it up with ‘Contractor’. The former threatens to mash you into pulp with one blood-soaked riff, a swaggering rhythm and an absolute vocal slaughtering. It also benefits from creating an invasive sense of unease through some clever recording techniques (suddenly submerging the clean recording into a muffled underworld, for instance). Creeping up like death, the fury of the latter hits you hard by flexing it’s impressive muscles with a pile-driving pace, gut-heavy double-kick and inspired hooked riff key-change. It’s ear-bending stuff, this.

Hatebreed, Unearth, Lamb Of God, Chimaira, Amon Amarth, brace yourselves. Purified In Blood have just dropped a bomb on us and the shockwave will tear a hole through their peers like nothing else.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Album Review: Loathe - Despondent By Design

...Whilst you'll tire of the incessantly skiddy 'This Respect' very quickly, 'Children Of A Lesser God' will absolutely rip your head off and spit down your throat; whilst the repetitious snare, see-sawing guitar hook and weak fade-out of 'This Overwhelming Grasp Of Solitude' will seem like a tipping point (it's quite possibly what the hopelessly weedy brother of Lamb Of God's 'The Faded Line' might sound like). 'The End Of All Things Good' will drag you back from the edge and hammer home just how seriously good this band can be when they peak...

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Interview: As I Lay Dying

San Diego's Christian metal masters, As I Lay Dying, have been making all the right noises recently. Their new album, 'An Ocean Between Us' shows a new-found intensity and a crushingly heavy sound. It was released in August 2007 to rapturous acclaim, breaking into the top ten of America's Billboard 200 and topping the rock charts with big first-week sales. They immediately got on the Warped Tour 2007 and a Grammy Awards nomination followed for 'Best Metal Performance' for the track 'Nothing Left'. Now Metal Blade's biggest sellers with a dedicated following they have put themselves on a punishing tour schedule and are due to hit our shores in March with hardcore act, Evergreen Terrace. Subba managed to catch up with guitarist Phil Sgrosso on a rare break.

Your band name comes from the William Faulkner novel but it has nothing in common with the book’s content. Why did you choose it? Because it sounded like a sweet name, I guess.

You’ve just been nominated for a Grammy award alongside such giants as Slayer and Machine Head. How did the band react when they found out? We think it's pretty cool that members of the Grammy Committee voted us on it, but we don't really care too much. Some dudes don't even want to go to it. We're not really big on those kinds of events. I'm hoping I can at least meet Dave Grohl while I'm there.

The new album, An Ocean Between Us, is awesome. It has greater depth and is more complex than the previous ones. How long did it take you to record?
It took about 6 weeks or so.

What was it like having Killswitch Engage’s guitarist, Adam Dutkiewicz, producing the album? It was good recording with Adam. Before we started recording the album, we spoke with multiple producers and Adam seemed like the best producer for us. We felt like we could really trust him with our songs and our vision for the album. We were already friends with Adam before recording so it was a lot of fun. Except for when guitars and gear would keep crapping out, we were all pretty bummed on that.

Did you have any interesting ways of creating the unique sounds on the album? Any clever foot-pedals, strange amp settings or unusual instruments, for instance? On 'Departed', I used a Virus synthesizer to get some ambient sounds. I used my NordElectro 2 for some other effects parts on 'Within Destruction', just layering that most people probably wouldn't notice ‘cause it’s not too loud in the mix. At the end of 'Departed' I ran my keyboard through a DL4 delay pedal and a Boss DD6 delay pedal, to a Matchless head, and just tweaked the DL4 to get some weird sounds. Nick and I both used a Memory Man delay pedal for some stuff. That’s pretty much all the weird stuff we did.

You’re probably tired of hearing how incredible Jordan Mancino, the drummer, is. This album is like a showcase for his talent with heartbeat pounding toms on one track and machine-gun kicks on another. Did you deliberately write it this way? We wrote whatever came naturally. We just wanted it to be a more dynamic metal album, not just straight beats the whole time. We try to have the guitars and drums syncopated as much as possible but certain guitar parts called for something more than just simple drumbeat. The last album was written on a drum machine so it was sort of bland in the drum department. We jammed these new songs out a lot more in a practice space so it was more organic I guess.

The vocals, in particular, are interesting because they are so varied. I even noticed similarities to Blink 182’s chorus style at one point. Are you fans of the band or punk music? Blink 182 was and will always be one of my favourite bands. I wouldn't consider them as an influence on our music though. Tim, Jordan, and I listen or used to listen to the most punk music in the band. It was the first genre that got me started playing guitar. I don't write the vocals though.

Josh Gilbert filled in on bass on your recent tour and album. Is he now a permanent band member? Tim, Jordan, Nick, and I have been together for the past 4 years and we've been through a lot during that time. Probably more than most bands. Josh is the dude for now and if things keep going smoothly, he will be a permanent member.

As a Christian band that’s into metal, a genre usually associated with dark themes and often satanic ideals, do you ever experience conflict from fans or other bands you tour with? Kids send us hateful messages on myspace. They're very brave for doing so via the internet. That’s how it is these days though. Bands don't really have problems with us ‘cause we're pretty normal dudes.

You use a lot of images of skulls in your album artwork. Why skulls and would you consider them a band theme? Skulls are pretty metal I guess.

You’ve gigged relentlessly over the last few years. Do you enjoy it as much as you seem to? Yeah, I love touring. We have a good crew that keeps us entertained.

Despite your increasing fanbase you’re still happy to play smaller venues. Do you feel it is important to do so? Yeah, kids remember the more intimate club shows more than they do the huge arena shows. The energy is just so much more powerful than a 'big stage' show. Kids always go more insane when there's no barricade and we can get up right in their faces. Except for in Sweden, they just stand there and judge every note that you play on guitar.

You’ve done Ozzfest, Taste of Chaos, the Warped Tour, and Sounds of the Underground. What’s your favourite live event so far? I think Warped Tour or Taste of Chaos. We're the band that kinda stands out more. I feel like we could make a lot more fans on tours like that. I love OUR metal fans but a lot of other metal fans are stubborn and won't give you the light of day. Young kids on Warped Tour are so anxious to hear new bands and they don't have this jaded opinion on music.

Any interesting tour tales you can tell us? Someone stole the band's laptop out of our dressing room last night. I'm pretty pissed about that. That's kind of interesting, I guess.

Do you have plans to do a UK festival this year or soon? Yeah I believe that’s in the works. I'm not sure when but summer. Seems to be the time to head over there.

Whose music are you currently into? I've been listening to the new Dimmu Borgir lately. The music is just so powerful. I don't really care for the lyrics, but everything else is really good metal. I've been listening to Nirvana, David Gilmour, and Radiohead a lot lately too.

I know you’re big Iron Maiden fans. Are you planning on catching them on their new tour? Yes I will be going to the LA forum show on Feb 19th! Hopefully I'll be seeing them this summer as well. They're the best.

Any plans for the future? Touring, touring, and more touring.

Also online @ Subba-Cultcha =

Competition: Win Tickets To Bloodstock Festival

Bloodstock 2010 competition - win 2 Weekend tickets with camping!

Metal Blade have teamed up with Bloodstock and The Noise Cartel to offer one lucky winner a free pair of weekend tickets with camping to see MB bands Cannibal Corpse and Powerwolf plus many more at the tenth anniversary Bloodstock 2010.

For your chance to win go to:

The BLOODSTOCK OPEN AIR METAL FESTIVAL 2010 will take place at Catton Hall, Derbyshire from 13th – 15th August.

Weekend tickets are on sale now at

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Album Review: Suma - Ashes

The anguished hellfire they summon forth for 'War On Drugs' prove they really can crack the earth open. No matter how many times you listen to what's on offer here, and there is well over an hour of sonic battery on display, you always seem to take away something new. It can, at times, seem utterly mesmeric, at others a complete chore. If Suma go easy on the see-saw structures, saving most for the playground of the practice room, and bring more complex crust-shattering tools to the studio they might just have the cojones to obliterate us all. Be afraid, be very afraid.

Full review =

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Free Download: The Sword - Tres Brujas

This was too good to keep to myself.

So, you love stoner rock, right? You must love The Sword then? And it follows that you must know that they have a new album called 'Warp Riders' coming out next month, so you'd like a wicked track to download now so that you know what it sounds like then?

Well head on over to and you'll find the album track 'Tres Brujas' waiting for you to download for free. You're welcome.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

EP Review: Cotheria - Icons

The songs are challengingly composed; stop-start structures that switch tack from clean vocals to a demonised, unhinged screaming. They are pitched somewhere between the progressive hardcore strata that bands like Architects or Protest The Hero are growing fat on, the rock plundering of Fightstar and Funeral For A Friend, and the full-on destruction that Bring Me The Horizon and Suicide Silence are selling. In all this, 'The Engagement' shines out amidst the mayhem of 'Ordeal' and 'Carnival's discordant posturing. It's devilishly exciting in the build with Steve Creek's guitar punching a great hole in the vocal before finger-tapping it back to life with some sublime work. The clarity in the chorus is tuneful, hearty and wickedly hooky...

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

EP Review: Fell On Black Days - Bring Out Your Dead

'Tooth And Nail' is, predictably, full-bore groove with all guns blazing; the bastard son of Machine Head's 'Bulldozer' and DevilDriver's 'Bound By The Moon', and, as such, is a fine opener to set the mood, whilst 'Mea Culpa' and 'Cold Rapture' open a whole new musical Pandora's Box to reveal a dirty, black interior which Matt Hall and Mark Tranter's guitars proceed to explode from in all directions. The latter introduces a cleaner vocal on the chorus, a choppier rhythm and a flurry of double-kick that add a whole array of extra layers to focus on...

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