All too often with the music I have come to adore (because I have the musical integrity of a high school brat) there is the unfortunate occurrence that I may introduce a band that has met an untimely demise before you get your waxy, grimy little ears on them. More likely, I’ll drop the ball and not accidentally stumble across a band like Barstow CA’s Duck Duck Goose until it’s too late to enjoy them while they’re still producing music and silly antics. Now, I’m sure I’m like you. I see a daffy name like Duck Duck Goose (get it?) and completely over look a band who toured with the likes of Poison the Well until the day it’s played through the speakers without me being able to see the name first. Then it becomes clear why they would brand themselves with such a moniker: it’s just fun, frenetic, fast and once you get past a certain age you should feel ridiculous for still liking it, but you kind of don’t give a shit.
It’s apparent that these kids have mastered describing themselves as simply as possible when they name their first EP Noise, Noise, and More Noise. I refuse to be that guy who promotes a band for something as inane as breakdowns in this genre because that’s not a “guy.” That’s a kid. I think it’s over done and, quite frankly, a cheap ploy to lure in simpletons. Consider me baited. With tons of overdrive effects, Duck Duck Goose race through their dissonant crashes that bring to mind March on Electric Children-era The Blood Brothers with Last Night in Town-era Every Time I Die (you know, before ETID got raped by Lynyrd Skynyrd and started producing southern fried hardcore), but more fun.
There’s rarely a sign of any formulaic song structure, which, of course, is pretty common for chaotic metal/hardcore. Few discernible verses, no choruses, and lots of off time starts and stops mixed with goofy riffs. When DDG throw their hair back and assume the crab position to go for the half-time head nods that often plague this genre? Yeah, they don’t reach for the chug-squeee pit fall. Nope, their breakdowns sound less like Opposite of December and more reminiscent of Me and Him Call It Us. You know, like they’re raising every appliance in the kitchen above their heads and slamming it on to a concrete floor? The recording certainly captures this onslaught well. As soon as the shrapnel starts to spray, vocalist Davey Ribera screeches (not unlike an aforementioned Buckley/Whitney combo) “PANIC FUELS THE CROWD” and you can tell he really hopes so. Of course, the staying power of a borderline joke band performing in a genre that’s already kind of a borderline joke is very hindered, but Duck Duck Goose made it fucking enjoyable.
Where they started: 2008’s Noise, Noise, and More Noise EP
Where you should start: Sporting just an EP and one full length, might as well check out both. Noise… is the more breakdown heavy of the 2 and has the better production value as well as being the chunkier release. However, Off Yourself does show the band maturing a little (as mature as a band like this can be, anyway) and throws in some clean vocals which certainly adds another layer to the chaos.
Members have gone on to form Pollution People:
Essential Live Video:
Some other shit:
Since 2000’s masterpiece We Are the Romans, there have been a slew of bands interested in recreating Botch’s style. If any artist is ever sincerely compared to the metalcore (yeah, I hate that word, too, but what the fuck are you gonna do?) legends then you know they’ve got talent and chops. If they’re able to mold the style and make it their own, then you know they’ve got something worth listening to.
Bad Mask are your boys. Twisting angular riffs, complicated competent drumming, odd time signatures, and even some patented Knudson slide effects wind their way across each relentless song these guys noodle through. The vocals are actually similar to those of the band Fall Silent, but if you don’t know who that is then just think of a higher pitched Some Girls-era Wes Eisold scream with a few clean parts that call to mind Alexis Marshall’s drunken slurring on Daughters’ Hell Songs. There’s some lower bellows thrown in, as well, but honestly, those seem to work better live than on record. Regardless, Bad Mask bring back late 90’s integrity to the genre, writing serious songs that are seriously good and avoid any of the trite metalcore (Fuck! There it is again) formulas.
Where they started: 2010’s V2
Were you should start: They only have the 2; V2 and Strange Phrases and they’re both available for free on the band’s bandcamp site (http://badmask.bandcamp.com/) so why not get both?
Essential Live Video: Can’t really find a high quality one, so deal
I actually found out about this band as they were getting trashed on the Lambgoat.com message board, but if anyone gave any merit to any opinion that vomits itself out on that site then none of us would be listening to anything.
"I NEVER WANT TO SEE YOU AGAIN…" scrapes through the throat of Demian Johnston as Playing Enemy’s second full length album, I Was Your City, begins with a noisy guitar and bass, yet drum-less, intro track. Sure, we’ve all thought these words, we’ve probably even heard them in many songs before. However, this isn’t your typical angsty hardcore band with trite hate-filled lyrics. You see, even though Playing Enemy broke up nearly 5 years ago, they were already veterans having come from bands like Undertow, Rorschach, Nineironspitfire, and, most notably, Kiss It Goodbye. At this point, if these guys are still angry about something there’s a pretty good chance it’s legitimate. Also, Johnston’s scream isn’t some cackle that is so overproduced and contrived that it doesn’t sound human. No, his scream is about as raw and honest as you’ll ever hear. He’s not screaming like it’s some effect that goes along with the music, he’s screaming like if he wasn’t holding a guitar he’d be holding a fistful of your shirt and he’s going to make you fucking listen.
As album opener “Cancer” fades, “Jade” rushes in with guns blazing. Noisy speedy punk riffs ride over some of the most creative and complicated drumming you will ever hear. Dude sounds like he’s playing 3 songs at once. I Was Your City is Shane Mehling’s first Playing Enemy full length on bass and rather than play a supporting role to Johnston’s strumming, Shane battles each riff as the low end combatant. These guys are too smart to be angsty. This is raw passion by guys with dues paid and lessons learned. On “The End of Something” (which boasts a melodic riff that still gives me chills) when he belts out, “With all that I gave up/With all I would give up/Sure, I’ll go with you/Sure, I’ll leave with you/I bet we look good together” it’s the raspy vocals that actually give validity and meaning to his words.
Where they started: 2001’s Cesarean
Where you should start: Cesarean certainly is the more Kiss It Goodbye sounding record Playing Enemy released, maybe because every member on that album was in KIG at some point. I favor I Was Your City (if that wasn’t already obvious) and I really like their posthumous EP My Life As the Villain. Playing Enemy also released a number of splits, self-released tour CD’s (aptly named Gas Money and Fly Us Home), and EP’s, one of which contains a great cover of The Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” and another track that’s over an hour long (yes, they still called it an EP). If either Cesarean or I Was Your City strikes you, it’s definitely worth sifting through all of their material to find the many gems that aren’t on proper records.
Essential Live Video:
Some Other Shit: It’s all pretty rad, but it gets ridiculous at 1:50
Some Other Shit They Do Now: I Know Demian Johnston does some solo stuff, as well as working with Shane Mehling on some noise stuff, or at least used to. Demian is also one of my favorite artists and posts a lot of his work here http://www.demianjohnston.com/. Shane writes reviews for Decibel Magazine and they’re easily the funniest music reviews you will ever read. Also, during Botch’s final show members of PE joined Botch on stage to contribute to the madness during “Man the Ramparts.”
Ever wondered how/why Examination of the… went from their chaotic screamo stylings to the more Neurosis laden The Whitest of Elephants? Me neither, but Pilot This Plane Down could serve as the perfect non-linear missing link. Before I confuse you, I’m not saying either band share any members or anything like that. The common denominators here are experimental ambient screamo and slow crushing meanderings. PTPD just manages to blend them all on to one record(s). Whether it’s building a 20 some-odd minute song (Airs EP), or separating the ambient tracks from the structured songs (Glory of the World LP) Pilot This Plane Down quickly and noisily attack before paralyzing you with the lulling ambiance only so they can drag you down and stuff you under a rock. Every song weaves into each other so well and after getting bombarded by a song like “Conquest,” the bleed into the softer sung, prettier “Decline” is seamless. Don’t get caught napping or scratching your noodle asking “how the fuck did we get here?” because you will be knocked on your ass wondering where your socks went.
Where they started: 2004’s Airs
Where you should start: Glory of the World is just the more complete record as well as having the better quality recordings. Airs forces you to listen to the whole EP (seeing as it is just one song) whereas GOTW's songs can stand on their own, but you kind of want to listen to the record as a whole anyway.
Essential Song (aka only one I could find, but still a good one):
Although these guys haven’t released anything in almost 3 years, there have been rumblings of new material being written and shows being played. Also, member(s?) of Pilot This Plane Down were in a band called Day of Less whose contributors have gone on to form Gaza and Bird Eater among other Salt Lake City bands.
Close Taker- BLACKCLOUD
This is a new song for a 10” split with hardcore giants BRAWL.
Out in June 2011.
Please feel free to REPOST.
CLOSETALKER:your failures swell increasingly i wipe my hands clean wipe my hand clean of all your ungrateful gestures after all we have done for you this is how you repay our loyalty we ask for nothing you do nothing but dwell on the past A choir sings for understanding. with very little to say. we place hands over our ears, trying our hardest to not absorb all the bullshit we hear.Turn off the city burn the dollar bills this idea, of how it should be you have lost sight of greed has ruined self worth this recession wont be over until we raise a generation that know how to live with what they’ve got.
Note from Scrape and Scatter - This is a friend of mine’s new band he plays guitar in. He used to sing in The Franklin Cover Up.
Miami’s punk/hardcore scene is incestuous. I mean, I assume most cities’ are, but Miami especially. This guy was in this band with his brother who was also in this band with these 2 other guys who started out in some band that was really popular in South Florida and was friends with that band on Victory back when they were releasing relevant records and they used to tour together and they probably should have toured more. Well, actually, that band recently broke up and the two brothers are in different bands, but I think at least one of those bands shares a member of the brothers’ band, or maybe all the members are in both bands except the brothers. Wait, maybe the one brother isn’t in it or maybe it’s his cousin and he’s in like three other bands all with each ex-member of that grind and/or sludge band… anyway, they just formed 2 weeks ago and I’m pretty sure Robotic Empire is putting out their 7” they haven’t written yet and I think they’re playing a ten song set tomorrow.
6 years of living in Miami and this is how I felt at just about every local show I went to. Some of the members of Capsule were mentioned above, but I have no fucking clue which. I do know I have had some interaction with each member; guitarist/vocalist Colin Smith played guitar/drums/bass in countless bands including some my old band played shows with; no matter what band Ryan Haft has been in I have always admired his guitar playing and thought of him as one of the most innovative guitar players in the Miami scene. Kind of why I thought it was criminal that he was playing bass in Capsule, but he’s since been moved to guitar; drummer, well, now bassist/vocalist Eric Hernandez even played at my (dead) band’s CD release party and has also filled in on drums for both Torche and Kyelsa; and newest addition, live drummer Alex De Renzis played drums for Adore Miridia (whose shows I frequented) and a slew of other bands. Alex also ran a weekly themed night at a bar that my friends and I would go to almost every week. What they all have in common other than being in Capsule (and the first paragraph) is that they all probably don’t know who the fuck I am.
Sorry for the digression. On to what they sound like. Although Capsule is the band of the week this is really more of a focus on their latest release No Ghost, but since I don’t really do album reviews here we are. Not that Capsule’s past releases aren’t similar, quite the contrary, but this just happens to be the newest one. If it’s a screamo (please read “origins…”) record it’s by far the heaviest screamo record I’ve ever heard. If it’s a post-hardcore record, again, heaviest post-hardcore record I’ve ever heard. If it’s metal? Well, they still hold their weight. This band almost never slows down. Constant angular technical riffs against relentless pounding drums ala Lifetime of Gray Skies-era Anodyne, and thick pulverizing bass, the latter being the final blow that makes you feel like the gravity has been quadrupled. I say “almost never slows down” because there are tracks like “Isn’t Us” or the completely instrumental final song “_” that do alter the pacing. “Isn’t Us” is definitely one of the heaviest songs on the album and provides some head-nod inducing grooves. The vocals are a gruff singing/yelling, kind of like a mixture of Hot Water Music and KEN Mode. Actually, Capsule does kind of sound like if KEN Mode recruited The Fall of Troy guitarist and asked him to take the bubble gum out of his riffs.
Where they started: 2008’s Blue (I think)
Where you should start: Well, since most of this entry was inspired by No Ghost that would be my suggestion. Blue is a good second release to get by them and the split with Furnace is another fine couple of songs. I’d hold off on diving into the self titled release until you know you’re a fan.
Essential Song: Actually, you can sample a good chunk of the record through this player.
Essential Live Video: Why not a full set?
When I was growing up, and even in my earlier adult years, I was accused of listening to the music that I like simply because it pissed off my parents (specifically, my poor mother). While I often scoffed at the idea, maybe subconsciously it was true. Maybe. At my age now that would be fucking ridiculous. No, today it seems my subconscious has chosen a new enemy: a former band member. Every time I show him what I’ve been listening to lately, in the metal world, I can feel his anger in his messages back to me, “That’s not even talent. They’re just trying to be as noisy as possible.” He’s a calm individual, but I know this is suppressed harsh criticism. Because it’s my subconscious that’s trying to piss him off and not my lucid being, I don’t even want to show him Inevitable End.
I’m guessing that since the late, great Chuck Shuldiner had already established a seminal metal band with the name Death these Swedes had to settle on the name Inevitable End. After a few demos and multiple member changes, they released their first full length on Relapse Records. It certainly has the Death influence, or at least influenced by other bands who were influenced by Death. Drawing comparisons to Origin or Kill-era Cannibal Corpse, the constant blast beats and deep bellows perpetuating across The Severed Inception were accomplished with competency, but with very little originality to separate themselves from the aforementioned acts. There are some interesting noisy and discordant riffs hidden in the few slowed down parts or even the strangely placed, but curiously engaging melodic part towards the end of the title track.
Though not abandoning the grindcore aspect of their sound, Inevitable End takes more from the technical aspects of metal than on the previous effort. However, I’ve read reviews quick to compare them to Gorguts, Cynic, and The Dillinger Escape Plan. While those aren’t inaccurate inclusions, where Inevitable End make their latest release more distinct is the use of metallic hardcore elements like those of His Hero is Gone and Cursed. Even the vocals rely less on the low growls and take on a higher pitched version of HHIG screams. Rather than the relentless grind of the previous record, Inevitable End hollows out some of the blast beat parts of their songs allowing for the heavier sections to have a lot more punch. Although the dissonance and hardcore influence alter the attack of Inevitable End, it’s always moments like the last track that are almost a complete departure from their normal break-neck speed that capture me. “Of Sublime Dimensions” closes the album with the same chaotic noise that drenches the rest of The Oculus, but at the slowest pace the band has ever achieved. When the song is sped up it’s done with lightly placed, twangy slide guitars over blast beats. Inevitable End have done an excellent job in creating a record for anyone who likes blisteringly fast paced music. Lovers of death metal, grindcore, tech metal, and straight up metallic hardcore will all be pleased.
Where they started: 2004’s Self Titled Demo
Where you should start: The Oculus was very recently released and is the band’s most original output and I think surpasses any previous release (2 demos and one other full length). I mean if you like that Origin or Cannibal Corpse post-Barnes sound then by all means start with The Severed Inception, but make sure you graduate to The Oculus.
New band from members of Duck Duck Goose
Unholy. Godless. Unforgiving. Who would be better experts than 4 guys from Utah? Back in the mid-90’s Victory Records released albums by a band called Bloodlet. In a time when metal and hardcore were being fused, reviewers were quick to combine just about anything with the “-core” suffix and create a new genre like other bands were soon to follow. Using smart dark lyrics laced with biblical references and a new brooding take on metallic hardcore Bloodlet got tagged with “evilcore.” Some 10+ years later a worthy disciple has finally come along to carry on the moniker.
OK, before things get too serious, I don’t really think “evilcore” is a legitimate genre, nor would I say Gaza or its members are evil. However, Gaza does have a dark and astute take on religion, life, death, and politics. With album titles like I Don’t Care Where I Go When I Die and He Is Never Coming Back (it’s a reference to Jesus, get it?) you really don’t have to delve into the music to know where these guys are going with their beliefs. You should want to, though, because, like I said, it’s been almost 15 years since a band has been accomplishing this brand of dark ugly metal with such a cultivated clever rationale. Gaza play sludgy metal/hardcore with elements of doom and grind. It’s grimy, it’s dirty, it’s caustic, and it’s really fucking good.
Similar to Bloodlet’s mid-paced style, Gaza have that off beat drumming that I had never heard until picking up my first Bloodlet record, but it’s very similar to Coalesce’s James Dewees’ never-stop-moving-your-arms-no-matter-what-the-pace-of-the-song method. However, drummer Casey Hensen is far more innovative and wildly unpredictable. Even if guitarist Mike Mason and bassist Tino Lucero are playing the same droney riff for 3+ minutes (the end of “Hospital Fat Bags”) Casey will never play the same fills. The guitars aren’t all drone, though. Gaza use quite a bit of finger-tapping, but contrary to how most bands use finger-tapping for neat sounding solos, Gaza’s uses of it are generally for the more groove oriented parts of the songs. Lastly is Jon Parkin’s roar as he cuts through the rest of the band’s earth shaking heaviness with the more tongue-in-cheek lyrics from IDCWIGWID (“They used you to clean up tears after a Thrice show. Fucking belt buckles everywhere.”) to the more straight forward bellows on HINCB (“He is never coming back. Armies of the half dead with their arms to the sky”). Add in that, unless you’re a pro-basketball player, Parkin will tower over you as his snarl tears holes through your entire belief system and it’s a pretty intimidating experience. His screams sound slightly similar to The Chariot’s Josh Scoggin, but exceedingly more ferocious. Ironic considering their complete opposite views. Both bands do have some similarities actually, but much like how Gabriel and Lucifer were both Archangels.
Where they started: 2004’s East EP
Where you should start: I Don’t Care Where I Go When I Die is the more structured and better produced release. It has a lot more groove and the lyrics contain an air of humor. He Is Never Coming Back is grimier and the lyrics are not only shorter and more to the point, but angrier and have a lot more bite.
Essential Live Video:
If you dig it, check out other recent live videos for some of Jon’s rather humorous sayings between songs.
Masters of the Side 1 Track 1 intro. Every release opens with a distant static-y guitar lazily building into an explosion of heavy music as Brendan McAndrew never fails to scream the word “fuck” in the first line; "I’d like to see you word fuck your way out of this." to the more anthemic (as you’ll see below) "Fuck me? No, fuck you." to "Turn up the fucking static." Yeah, I know, that sounds like some angsty Korn shit that would attract mall dwellers that swoon for any kind of foul language in music. I’ve usually clung to the notion that using “fuck” in lyrics is a cheap ploy to attract the forever present angry youth demographic. However, The Minor Times are a lot more clever and way more frightening than that. These aren’t gimmicks to lure in the simple minded. It’s an alert to warn you about the aural altercation you’re about to endure. So put up your fucking dukes because it’s too late to talk your way out of this one.
This isn’t a prize fight either, it’s a sweaty basement near Philly in August. So forget the bells and whistles. In fact, The Minor Times kind of sound like Botch without the bells and whistles. The relentless heavy churning feels a little like Kiss It Goodbye, and a few off beat starts and stops to give a nod to tech metal. Where The Minor Times stand out are the more subtle aspects; lumbering smooth groove and a keen songwriting ability. So many heavy bands try to find a niche, but usually are more successful (assuming they’re successful at all) at finding a schtick instead. Lost on the instant gratification generation is the ability to lead into a song (mentioned above), pulverize and smoothly transition into the next phrase without losing force, pace, or attention. All the while still being able to surprise the listener and keep it fresh even with multiple listens. It’s a good thing, too because when Mr. McAndrew changed his vocals from the higher pitched screams on the first EP (and a couple of compilation songs) to the more guttural Turmoil-esque tough guy bellows on the full lengths, it was TMT’s songwriting ability that kept me interested. It’s what separates them from similar sounding acts like Achilles and Engineer. Not that those bands are bad, but The Minor Times are just more crafty. Drummer, Brian Medlin’s refusal to use a double bass pedal was also an impressive move and certainly the road less traveled in the realm of heavy music in the last decade. Medlin is a madman behind the kit, too, often sounding like he’s perfectly copy and pasted a tech metal drum session under these thick grooves.
Back before the whole social media age, people used to spam message boards with their mp3.com link… um, myspace link? Hopefully, you remember at least one of those. Anyway, I was on one of these message boards when one of The Minor Times members posted their band’s link. I quickly clicked to listen so that I could, no doubt, ridicule this silly spammer and tell him just how shitty his band was. I suspect it was about a year later when I was making the 5 hour drive to see The Minor Times with Ed Gein. Couple that with the fact that The Minor Times frontman joined Ed Gein for a crowd pleasing rendition of Coalesce’s “You Can’t Kill Us All” and it was all worth the 5 hour drive back that same night. Of course, The Minor Times are no more and members went on to be in Person L, Wives, and Ladder Devils to name a few. Most of the members of The Minor Times came from a band called Inkling which was kind of similar, but incorporated a lot more singing and softer parts.
Where They Started: 2002’s Chris Chambers Never Misses EP
Where You Should Start: It’s very hard for me to recommend a 5 song EP over a couple of full lengths unless it is absolutely phenomenal. And that’s where we’re at. Definitely dive into the EP. I love the higher pitched vocals. They also have 2 songs on a Robotic Empire sampler that also feature that vocal style, but were later reworked and rerecorded with the deeper vocals for the debut full length. I’m not saying the full lengths aren’t worth getting… eventually. If you like those deeper vocals then by all means go with one of the full lengths.
Essential Song: I would be remiss if I didn’t include all of their Side 1 Track 1’s
Essential Live Video: Has to be the crowd favorite. People just like to say “fuck.”
The Franklin Cover Up - Boise, ID Sociopolitical punk/metal band taking their name from a non-fiction book of the same name divulging a child prostitution ring that is said to have involved many higher-ups in Washington. Expect lyrics that cover that very subject, as well as topical lyrics about other issues plaguing our nation. Expect the tunes to sound similar to Refused, Botch, and Every Time I Die. The new EP was released today and is available for free at http://thefranklincoverup.bandcamp.com/
Members have gone on to be in other Boise heavyweights Bone Dance and BLACKCLOUD
Bear - Bizarre, erratic, carnival-esque metal from Asheville, NC. They have that similar eerie amusement park feel as Radiation4, with some of the technical aspects of The Dillinger Escape Plan, and when it’s straightened out for the heavy head nodding trudges, the slower parts of Some Girls and Botch come to mind. The schizophrenia of it all is reminiscent of The Sawtooth Grin. Vocals are a combination of SG’s Wes Eisold and the first DEP singer, Dimitri. Scrape and Scatter is currently working with Bear to get a couple of demos and an unreleased EP recorded at Jamie King’s Basement Studio (Between the Buried and Me) out to the public.
The Glasses Otter - Best described by Kerrang! as “alternative noisecore” the Otter has every finger and every toe in a separate pool of aggressive abrasive music. Guitars have the alternative rock feel, a little Glassjaw post-hardcore with the tight heaviness of The Minor Times, and the timing precision of The Dillinger Escape Plan. The drumming is a non-stop onslaught that hints towards a Ben Koller of Converge influence and the unhinged vocals spiral through every level of a manic depressive asylum patient. Check the facebook page for a completely mutilated Thrice cover.
Members have gone on to play in Woodale, Kings of Prussia, and Say Never
Fun fact: This was my band.
And the Sky Went Black - mathy hardcore from West Palm, Florida. Members of ATSWB came from bands that were quite soulless so they came together to create something that was sincere and honest. Sometimes sincerity comes out in a crushing wave of pounding metal while the honesty pours out through merciless screams. A lot of Botch and Coalesce influence here.
Just recently added so if you like it, “Like” it
Not only is vocalist, Mike, a good guy, but he also loves beer. http://www.mikelovesbeer.com/
Loss for Words - Orlando tech metal. This is some really clever technical music. Truly original and even when the tech genre became over saturated, LFW managed to stand out because of their ability to avoid the trite formulas of the genre. Definitely Dillinger-esque with some of the noisy elements of the last Deadguy EP. Vocals range from Zao type screams to clean vocals that are sung with a nervous waver which add an eerie element never allowing the listener to get comfortable in the lighter moments, which is a good thing. Scott Angelecos of Bloodlet even makes a guest appearance on a song, and LFW’s drummer ended up becoming the drummer for Scott’s other band, Hope and Suicide.
Scrape and Scatter doesn’t really sign bands, but this is kind of as close as it gets and we couldn’t be more excited.