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Hail The Sun – Wake

Holy shit! I don’t know what kind of drugs most post-hardcore bands took this year, but they seem to work wonders. So far almost every single release of bigger bands has been a pure blast and I’ve discovered so many new quality bands that it’s hard for me to catch a break…and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Today’s record of choice is the new release of Hail The Sun, called Wake which saw the light of day on September 23rd!

I first stumbled upon HTS on the very first day of the year, when I listened to Sianvar, a superband composed of members of bands that are signed to Blue Swan Records. Both bands share the same singer and therefore some similarities in their sound. However, the three other members of the California-based quartet are such proficient musicians with a fascinating range of ideas that both bands could not be any more different in their approach.

The twelve songs are a perfect mixture of calm, melancholic goodness and balls to the walls insanity, often borrowing elements, such as ultra-complex guitar parts and drum patterns, from mathcore. Their songwriting in general is rivaled by few, but their feel for going over the top is so phenomenal that Wake could well be a stand-alone instrumental record and still hold a high rank in the top ten of the genre. Seldom has a band managed to make transitions from neck-breaking mosh to totally idyllic parts in such a genuine way.

But, luckily, the musicians are fronted by an extremely diverse and talented singer who, seemingly effortlessly, covers every range of singing techniques that are common in post-hardcore. His, quite high-pitched, clean vocals are flawless and are always employed in the right moments during the fifty-two minutes, whereas his screams are energetic and I’m convinced that if they fail to animate you, there is something seriously wrong with your ears and you should consult an otologist. Extra kudos for the guy since he’s also responsible for the drumming, a feat that is quite remarkable to perform live. An extra touch are the screams by the guitarist on the song Cosmic Narcissism, which I would have loved to hear more often…but then again, their rarity makes them extra delicious to my ears.

As if all of the above was not enough to make it a super strong contender in my album of the year category, the lyrics are captivating and intelligently written with way more than a few memorable lines. There is simply no downside I can find to Wake, and I strongly urge you to click on the Bandcamp below, listen to the entire record and ideally buy it because these dudes deserve every cent that you throw at them. You can find out more about them on their Facebook page and keep your eyes peeled for the next possibly big release from their label mates Stolas, another band that is part of the above-mentioned superband.

The Color Morale – Hold On Pain Ends

2014 has been a truly interesting year for me, especially musically-speaking, so far…I might even go as far and say that it’s the best one in recent memory and definitely the number one during my times here at El Gore. Not only have “my” bands released great new records thus far, but also bands that I haven’t been into in the past have come out with some amazing music. One of the latter is The Color Morale, from Illinois, who have released their fourth full-length, entitled Hold On Pain Ends, just a few weeks ago.

Back around 2008/2009 when I started getting into the whole post-hardcore scene, I kind of had to ignore quite a few bands because I was just overwhelmed by the sheer amount of formations being started left and right. Sadly, one of them was TCM…however, earlier this year when the vocalist was featured on a song from the new Jamie’s Elsewhere album, I actually gave his band a shot and liked what I heard. When a few weeks later the quintet released their version of the classic song Everlong, I was sold and was impatiently awaiting the new record. Fast forward to when I actually heard it for the first time and picture myself being in a state of complete awe.

There are many reasons for me being so attracted to these twelve songs with the main reason being the lyrics and the emotion-laden vocal performance. The Color Morale falls into my drawer of bands that I consider lyric-porn, while it’s not everyone’s cup of tea and you probably have to be in the appropriate mind-set while listening to it, it just speaks to you on a very deep level. Almost every song has a certain melancholy to it, but still comes up with a message of positivity in one way or another. On top of that, the two guest vocal spots fit perfectly into the ensemble: Dave Stephens of We Came As Romans on Suicide;Stigma and most notably Craig Owens of Chiodos on Developing Negative.

But the sung parts aren’t the only selling factor during the forty-four minute ride. The instrumental front has all the melodic goodness coupled with heavy riffs and the occasional breakdown, that is necessary to make every post-hardcore fan feel right at home. Furthermore, even though there aren’t all that many groovy parts on H.O.P.E., let me assure that if one pops up, you will want to bang that head and karate-chop your neighbor with full force.

All of the above makes the follow-up to Know Hope a record that I would recommend to everyone who might be going through a tough time, or who simply wants to listen to some genuine music. Be sure to check out the video below and visit the band’s Facebook page for more information. And to end this review with a note of positivity and a lame word play: never forget to Hold On since Pain indeed Ends.

Trash Monday CXXXIII

Pop music has been all about bodacious butts lately, and I figured it was only appropriate to feature the trashiest booty anthem on here.

Stillbust – 77 For You (57 For Me)

In the past few months I’ve listened to and reviewed quite a lot of punk records. Punk of almost every kind: pop punk, hardcore punk, punk rock and so on…to be quite honest, I was quite over-saturated at one point and declined a handful of review requests, simply because I needed a break from the genre. However, when I got my hands on Stillbust‘s debut EP 77 For You (57 For Me), I felt compelled to write the following paragraphs…that’s how fresh their sound was, and still is, to me!

Now, you might wonder what is so special about the music the four blokes make? Well, they are definitely in the hardcore punk, with a very strong emphasis on hardcore, area of the musical sphere but they bring a sense of complete chaos with them. In some instances I heard some mathcore resemblances, with crazy riff structures and erratic balls-to-the-walls drumming. In another instance, on the last song, you get a screamo vibe hitting you hard, just before jumping into a blast-beat filled barrage of sound to end the nineteen minute ride! Pure ecstasy!

The vocal front is covered by two sing-…screaming maniacs! One is taking care of the deeper screams while the other one goes from mid- to high-range screams with occasional screeching thrown in for good measure. Seriously, when I called them crazy, I was not exaggerating: especially the latter vocalist gave it his all, and it can absolutely be noticed throughout the four tracks.

Another decisive factor actually only hit me as I was doing a bit of research about the Englishmen…they love to have fun. Not only does their Facebook page feature a list of random and genuinely funny accomplishments, they also prove their sense of humor in the track names. One of which will make this paragraph look really big, even though I’ll just copy-paste the title: I’ve Never Been More Happy To Have A Hypo (However This Could Mean I Have Irreparable Knee Damage)! Neat, huh?

Stillbust brings a fresh combination of styles to the table, that I haven’t experienced in the past, and I can readily recommend giving them a shot! Their EP can be bought for quite cheap on their Bandcamp below and as a closing statement I’ll say that it’s about time that point number eleven on their list gets erased…third time’s a charm!

Capture The Crown – Reign Of Terror

Before you read today’s review I’d suggest reading this one first, since it’s of the first album of today’s band and it saves me a bit of back story here. Moving on: a bit less than two years after their debut record, Capture The Crown are back with number two: Reign Of Terror!

The, mostly, Australian guys have kept true to their sound but, as I hoped back in 2012, have given it their own flavor which definitely gives them a right of existence in the metalcore scene. To elaborate: this means that the down-tuned guitars are still ever-present, breakdowns are never far and the music still has electronic parts. On the other hand, the drums have become a bit more diverse and more technical, but their main function is still clearly to keep the other components together.

The ten songs do sound more mature and the songwriting in general has greatly improved, while it’s no Beethoven or whatever, the album does have a lot more structure to it. Generally-speaking, it’s also become a lot heavier, featuring less poppy melodies except for the clean-sung choruses. On the predecessor, there were many different styles of songs, whereas this time around the whole endeavor sounds more stream-lined, which is the strongest and at the same time the weakest aspect of the record. While you are not thrown off by a completely different sounding song, they all sound almost too similar. Definitely a matter of taste.

The vocals are still as diverse and well-executed as before, and therefore I can’t report a major improvement. The lyrics have also ripened and feature a lot less profanity, which I welcome even though I didn’t mind the barrage of “fuck”s on ‘Til Death. To spice up the thirty minutes, CTC have gotten two guest vocalists: Alex Koheler of Chelsea Grin on the song Make War, Not Love and rapper Cheyne Truitt on Beating The Blade.

Time to come to an end. Is Reign Of Terrror a must-have album of 2014? Definitely not. Is it worth checking out? Abso-fucking-lutely! While the quintet doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it has managed to cement its position in the scene and come up with a fairly enjoyable record for fans and newcomers alike. Head over to Facebook to get more insight on the band and listen to the song below!

Trash Monday CXXXII

I never knew the video of this song was this trashy…enjoy!

Emarosa – Versus

Emarosa. The name of a brilliant post-hardcore band that will make almost everyone think of Jonny Craig immediately. One simply can’t ignore the first two records when mentioning amazing genre releases of the past ten years, and rightly so. However, the band parted ways with their previous singer and, after more than a four year recording hiatus, are now back with a new album, called Versus, and a new frontman. But more about that a bit further down.

The sextet, at least that was the case during the recording, from Kentucky still has its distinctive style that fans have grown to love on the past two endeavors, but it has also expanded its sonic repertoire. With the song I’ll Just Wait they venture into the general territory of a ballad, and in another instance, Gold Dust, they almost play pop…but both songs are incredibly exciting to listen to, trust me.

Instrumentally-speaking, unless I’m completely mistaken, the band has changed their guitar tuning to standard, to accommodate the new vocalist’s range, but therefor the bass guitar is in the foreground on the majority of the songs. The resulting sound is so gratifyingly rich that I wish more records sounded like this. The drums interlock perfectly with the string instruments and create an immersive listening experience from the first second of these forty minutes to the last.

Now onto the biggest addition: the new singer, who goes by the name Bradley Walden, was previously in Squid The Whale and, while he does have a similar singing style in some instances, is nothing like Jonny. Which is a blessing and a curse at the same time…but let me explain: his timbre is different, his vocal technique is much more diverse and his lyrics are also in a slightly different tone. All those elements bring a fresh new breeze into Emarosa. But sadly, I fear that quite a few people will simply dismiss the band because “it’s no longer Emarosa”…which I think is just fucking stupid, pardon my French, since the eleven songs are top notch.

In closing, I’ll say that Versus is yet another strong post-hardcore release this year and, if you are open-minded enough to give “the new guy” a chance, you will not be disappointed…I promise. For more information you can visit the band’s Facebook page and listen to the song below to get an idea what awaits you! Enjoy!

Crown The Empire – The Resistance: Rise Of The Runaways

Today’s band put out one of my biggest surprise albums of 2012 and on July 22nd of this year they released the follow-up to it. In case you haven’t deduced it by the artwork above, I’m talking about Crown The Empire‘s The Resistance: Rise Of The Runaways. Over the course of the past two years the sextet from Dallas, Texas, has managed to establish itself as one of the biggest names in the metalcore scene, at least in the US, and with this new release they have managed to prove that they do deserve it.

The reason why CTE stands out from the vast majority of the band’s in the genre, is the fact that they have a very theatrical approach to their songwriting, akin to a soundtrack of a movie, and so far every album has been an entire story in itself; with the new one continuing the events of the predecessor. They also have a very distinct sound, which is purposely over-produced and very electronic-sounding. It definitely isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but it fits their music perfectly, in my opinion.

The thirteen songs are divided into three acts, which are always started by an atmospheric interlude, and cover many different directions, from ballads to your typical metalcore sound, to industrial-sounding songs. There is a lot of chugging, but also equally many melodic parts, thus creating an enjoyable symbiosis of both worlds. Generally-speaking, the material has a greater variety and has a more mature feel to it than previously.

Vocally, it’s still the same deal as usual: dual vocals, with one singer covering the clean and one the unclean parts. Both are noticeably auto-tuned to a certain extent, but go well with the plastic-y sound of the instruments. As mentioned earlier, the lyrics tell an interesting story set in a post-apocalyptic world.

To sum things up, I’d say that The Resistance is definitely worth checking out and all in all delivers on many levels, but it’s also not for everyone, since this is taking the modern sound to the extreme. I, for one, do enjoy it a lot but this band is one of the few where I ignore my personal preference in terms of how a record should sound, simply because the result is truly satisfying as a whole. Listen to the song below to make up your own mind and head over to the band’s Facebook page for more information! And last but not least: in case you want to experience what they sound live, move your ass to den Atelier on Monday, the 20th of October, where they will be opening for Asking Alexandria, alongside Secrets and The Ghost Inside!

Trash Monday CXXXI

If this counts as metal…then I might consider switching to pop permanently. Special thanks to Luc Francois for this one!

Solbrud – Jærtegn

I’ve recently had another one of those instances where I got an album of a band that comes from a country that I do not associate with the direction they play at all…and yet they’ve managed to convince me that genres are not necessarily tied to a certain place. The Danish black metal band Solbrud plays their music exactly how I like it, but more about that a bit later, and their second full-lenght Jærtegn is a really solid piece of art.

Funny thing is that I received the album in late July, when it was above thirty degrees Celsius, and I had a hard time getting into it because my mood influences the things I listen to a lot. “Luckily” however, the weather decided to be bad for about two weeks straight and the foundation for an ideal black metal listening session was laid. But enough weather forecast and rambling, let’s dive in!

When I mentioned earlier that the quartet plays a style of black metal that I love, I meant that the music is very monotonous, in a good way, and manages to build such a tight atmosphere that it’s so easy to get lost in the music. Each of the four songs is above ten minutes long, or just under, and the different riffs often repeat themselves for about a quarter of the song, with tiny variations, but somehow it never gets boring at all.

The majority of the forty-seven minutes is a non-stop assault of blast beats, double bass fire and fast-paced riffs, but every now and then the band switches to mid-tempo and that’s where shit gets real…goosebumps-inducing moments guaranteed. The best display of that is definitely the longest song, Klippemennesket, which builds up tension with a very simple progression of clean guitar notes before exploding into full pure goodness…only to return to the intro mid-song and then switch into the next power-laden part. Hands down my favorite on the album.

The vocals really remind me of Immortal‘s Abbath, but then again I must admit that I don’t know all that many BM bands…either way, the performance blends in perfectly with the instrumental background and completes the atmospheric ensemble in every desirable way. Lyrically, I have no precise idea what it’s about, because sadly my Danish is limited, but what I gathered from reading through the lyrics real quick is that it’s nature-based and about darkness…but please do take that with a big grain of salt.

All in all, Solbrud have recorded an album that has pushed just the right buttons for me and, for me personally, this is probably the black metal release of the year. While there might be connoisseurs screaming up right now mentioning dozens of other records, let me just say: listen to Jærtegn on September 15th when it’s released, it’s well worth your while. For more information, head over to the band’s Facebook page and be sure to listen to the live performance of the opening track of the record!