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Tag Archives: England

The Kut – Valley Of Thorns


Perseverance. In my opinion, probably the most important quality an artist should possess, aside from talent, if they want to be successful. A little bit over eight years into their career, The Kut are finally unleashing their first full length record on the world tomorrow and I had the opportunity to have an early listen to Valley Of Thorns, so let me give you my first impressions!

For those unaware, the trio’s sound is best summed up as grunge, with an attitude. Especially the guitar sound is very reminiscent of the good old nineties with the fuzzy distortion and the bite that stems from the interplay with the bass. The drums also pack a punch when it is appropriate, but they never try to outshine the stringed instruments; a fact that strongly works in favor of these thirty-nine minutes.

While this is the first full-length of the Brits, it is worth mentioning that they have released two EPs in the past four years, and that half of the ten songs on here are from the previous releases, which I personally find a smart move. Only slight downer is the fact that the songs were re-used exactly as they were, rather than being re-recorded or freshly mixed, but since they were on a very respectable level to begin with, it doesn’t impact the entirety as much as you would fear.

While die-hard long-time fans of the band might yearn for more new material, including a, so to speak, greatest hits of the old material is a good introduction to newer fans, which I’m sure this record will attract. On the bright side: the new songs showcase an interesting evolution in the band’s sound by being more guitar-driven and generally heavier, especially the song I Am Vain.

All in all, I consider Valley Of Thorns a well-rounded record, which merges the old with the new and should open quite a few doors for The Kut in the near future! You can find more about the band on their Facebook page and get an impression of their sound below.

King Goat – Debt Of Aeons


As the saying goes: everything comes in threes. Today marks the third review of a band’s third release, in a row, and I could not be happier to end this hat-trick with a genre I only dabble in very rarely: doom metal! Ever since giving them a go four years ago, King Goat have managed to tickle my fancy for the genre, and since their new full-length Debt Of Aeons is just around the corner, it seems only fitting for me to take an early look at it and try to whet your appetite!

I’ll just be upfront: I already held high praise for the quintet’s previous record, because it was a serious step up from its predecessor, but I will have to add some more of it, since they managed to outdo themselves in virtually every aspect. The six songs, seven if you count the interlude, still have that sense of grandeur and all-enveloping atmosphere about them, but they also come with a new layer of je ne sais quoi. I want to say that it’s an even better understanding of songwriting than previously, but it could also stem from the incredibly well-done mixing.

The afore-mentioned improved songwriting is clearly palpable in the way the songs are structured: away with entire songs being devoted to one direction, be it calm or heavy, and welcome to, on average, eight minute epics that take you a journey through time. The album also packs the shortest song the band has written to date, which at the same time marks their first instrumental track, and it shows quite nicely that they can definitely build up tension without spending close to ten minutes on it.

While these forty-eight minutes, without a doubt, hold my favorite riffs of KG thus far and the drums have also gotten a much more prominent role in the band’s soundscape, it is still the singer that hammers home how much potential these guys hold in their grasp, to make it big. I’ve raved about him in the past but I can only repeat myself: the range this man has, just blows me away and I even feel like it has expanded just a tad bit further this time around. There is a scream on the title track that gives me the chills every time I hear it…truly good stuff!

There’s not much more to say other than what I said last time: this is how you advance as a band, by bettering every aspect as much as you possibly can and never giving up. Honestly, if you are even the slightest into metal and want to support a bunch of talented musicians, do yourself a favor and listen to Debt Of Aeons when it’s released this Friday, April 20th, and let King Goat take you on a little trip! For more information you can visit the band’s Facebook page and check out the lyric video below!

King Goat – Conduit


One of the biggest surprises in 2014 for me was a relatively new band from Brighton, that played a genre that I was never really familiar with, and still can’t claim to be, who simply blew me away with its atmospheric doom metal. The band in question is called King Goat and the quintet is about the release their first full-length entitled Conduit on March 25th, so naturally I’ll give you my two cents on it beforehand!

Essentially, the guys have stayed true to their genre but the two years in between the self-titled EP and this have definitely managed to make the creative juices flow in abundance. Everything sounds more mature and elaborate, and especially the riffs deliver a sense of grandeur that aid in creating a dense atmosphere throughout the forty-two minutes that can’t even be compared to the predecessor.

The one thing that is similar to the previous effort, is the build-up phase during the first two songs before exploding on the third one and maintaining it on the last two. While track one, Flight Of The Deviants, and two, Feral King, are sung completely in clean vocals and have a somewhat heavy-metalesque touch, the title track goes into overdrive with a crushing main riff and growls and screams left, right and center. It is about here where I get the chills while listening to these five tracks…and they don’t disappear until the end.

The fact that this middle track also features additional (female) vocals during the “chorus” just makes it even tastier in my opinion, because it creates even more depth. Not that the singer needs it, because he definitely shines on his own at every moment of the listening experience. Every line, no matter the singing style, hits just where it’s supposed to hit and combined with the fairly epic lyrics, it might not be the sing-along record of the year, but it’s absolutely a blast to enjoy.

To sum things up: THIS is how you make a follow-up to an EP that has received wide praise. You keep the good, you improve the not so good, and you put your heart and soul into it! Conduit does all that and then some…so be sure to head over to King Goat‘s Facebook page and listen to the song below, even though it should ideally be enjoyed along with the rest of the record, to get your metalhorns ready for the release tour in the UK!

Smokey Bastard – Back To The Drawing Room


Folk punk. One of the greatest inventions since lactose free cheese. All joking aside: I love folk punk, since it usually has great danceability, even for someone as stiff-legged as myself, a lot of musical diversity and it’s usually a blast to experience live. But, let’s face it…there are a lot of bands that choose this genre without bringing anything new to the table…today’s musicians will change that, trust me. Smokey Bastard from Reading are about to release their new full-length, Back To The Drawing Room, and they incorporate certain elements that I’ve never heard in combination with folk punk. Read on if you want to find out what I mean!

The six guys have all the typical instruments such as drums, guitars and bass at their disposal and of course they add the (English) folk-typical instruments such as banjo, accordion and mandolin to the mix. The kicker about them, however, is the fact that while they do stay faithful to the typical folk punk sound, they have some truly metal-sounding parts with really distorted guitar riffs and crazy double bass work. While it might come across quite underwhelmingly on paper, it sounds so massive when performed that it blew me away the first time I put the record on.

A good example of this is toward the end of the song Screens, where the folk instruments play a beautiful melody in harmony while being backed-up by a heavy groove riff and some fabulously hard-hitting footwork on the drums. I love it. The ten songs are chock-full with such “oh shit” moments and even after my twentieth listen I’m still amazed by the perfectly fitting interplay of all the different elements.

Of course no folk punk ensemble is complete with a charismatic voice to recount tales of days gone by. Such is the case on BTTDR as well, and the singer delivers a gripping performance which varies between screams, clean singing and insanely fast spoken word, making these forty minutes fairly diverse yet never entirely pulling you away from the rest.

All in all, Smokey Bastard really took me by surprise since I was expecting just another, albeit good, folk punk ensemble, but was instead introduced to one of the most promising acts in the genre. Do yourself a favor and give Back To The Drawing Room a listen when it’s released on November 13th and in the meantime listen to their song below. Also look them up on Facebook if you so desire.

ReVerbed – Another Year, Still Here


It’s been a while since I wrote about a band that I wasn’t familiar with before-hand, and I thought it would be high time to change that, which is why I’m pleased to bring you a fresh review of a little EP called Another Year, Still Here. The culprits behind this rather enjoyable pop-rock release, which was released last Friday, October 23rd, are ReVerbed, a young band from Brighton.

I’ll get to the point rather quickly because the four tracks are sadly almost over before they even started: it’s solid. Very much so even, because of one simple yet very effective feature: dual vocals throughout all the songs. Not just in alternation but also very often at the same time, which is something that sounds banal in written form but actually elevates the performance to a level of its own.

Especially so because the male and female voices create a highly distinctive harmony that goes perfectly with the, to be frank, straight-forward yet catchy instrumentals. I honestly can’t quite put my finger on what it is that ReVerbed have, but I know that they do have exactly that. While no stand-alone element is anything to write home about, the final result of these twelve minutes will be stuck in your head, I promise.

All in all, Another Year, Still Here is an EP that deserves your attention, because it does everything right and, I know many share this opinion, this band has the potential to make it big. So if you want to be among the people that knew about ReVerbed “before they were cool”…be sure to listen to the song below and check out the band’s Facebook page!

Cristobal And The Sea – Sugar Now

I am really glad to be back on El Gore to talk about a debut album that I, as a huge fan of the London-based quartet, had been eagerly awaiting: Sugar Now by Cristobal and the Sea! I’m obsessed with their experimental approach to folk with Mediterranean influences, and this release has been a definite musical highlight of my year.

I know comparisons are tricky, but it’s less the musical similarity that makes me point it out and more the general vibe and feeling I got from the record – I was immediately struck by how much it reminds me of Fleet Foxes‘ spectacular Helplessness Blues. The folk element is way more pronounced than in much of their previous work, which was dunked in trippy reverb, delayed guitars, some auto tune and other spacey effects. It’s less crammed, more subdued, very organic, fairly stripped down yet still big-sounding, and somehow feels close to nature. The particular way the band melds their haunting chants and vocal harmonies, flute playing, Latin riffs and at times borderline bizarre melodies creates a mystical atmosphere and invites you to get lost in a panorama of colourful sounds.

Pretty much every piece of media I’ve read about Cristobal and the Sea makes mention of the members’ different European backgrounds. With reason, as this cultural variety definitely spills over into the album, most evidently in the form of parts sung in Portuguese, French and Spanish (the two singers’ and bass player’s respective native languages). The lyrics themselves – sometimes abstract, other times more concrete philosophical musings – support the instrumentals in painting vivid pictures.

There are upbeat moments, but there’s also an ever-present profundity, perhaps even slight melancholy, hanging over the album. Honestly, if I had to sum it up succinctly and in less descriptive terms, I’d just call it beautiful. You can feel the passion and emotional honesty of the musicians shining through. It’s a truly refreshing spin on indie folk music that will be a delight to everyone who digs the warm sounds of Latin America and the Iberian peninsula.

The band is active on Facebook and other social media platforms, and Sugar Now, which will be out on the 2nd, can be pre-ordered here, as well as on iTunes and Amazon.

Bring Me The Horizon – That’s The Spirit


Evolution is not only a necessity in biology, without which we’d still walk on all fours, but also very important in music. While it is necessary for a band to find their sound, they will, at one point or another, begin to release the same blend over and over until their music grows stale. Thankfully, Bring Me The Horizon have never had that problem, since they’ve strayed further from their deathcore origins with every single record. Their new output That’s The Spirit, however, marks their biggest leap in terms of change.

While it was hinted at on the predecessor, Sempiternal, the quintet no longer identifies enough with their early releases to continue in the same vain. This time around they’ve implemented so many pop and indie elements that I’d go as far as to say that they’ve invented a new genre: pop metal. And it works! It works damn well!

Aggressive riffs are nowhere to be found on these eleven songs, since they’ve made way for more atmospheric and melodic string work. The drums, while still complex enough to remain interesting, have also been dialed back a lot…allowing keyboards and various synthesizers and samples to shine. In tandem with top notch songwriting, this new configuration definitely delivers on every level.

The vocals, while still retaining some trademark aspects, have also been toned down and no longer feature growls or screeches, only clean vocals and occasional “mild” screams. As far as I know this is mostly due to the fact that singer Oli Sykes no longer feels at ease with the more aggressive singing styles, partly because he can’t pull them off as well as before but also because it doesn’t resonate with his state of mind anymore. While this is probably the biggest setback for “can you play that one song” fans…it’s a major selling point for me for these forty-five minutes. Coupled with the typical tongue-in-cheek lyrics, dealing with the darker aspects of life this time around, the overall performance might be the band’s best to date.

All in all, BMTH took a massive step that will most likely drive away their “hardcore fans”, but at the same time attract a whole new crowd of people. I, for one, welcome the change with open arms because there is no doubt in my mind that it was the right thing to do. Artists need to follow their inspiration and not remain stuck in a specific genre, just because they used to play that particular one. If you’re intrigued, be sure to watch the video below and head over to the band’s Facebook page…That’s The Spirit, by the way, is available since September 11th.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ow_qI_F2ZJI
https://www.facebook.com/bmthofficial

An Elegy – Embrace The Rain


I don’t know if it speaks for or against me, but I remember the exact moment the metalcore scene was flooded by dual vocal bands. There were obviously some that were meant to stay and that have proven their longevity through evolving their sound over the years and had brilliant songwriting to begin with…but a whole plethora of them simply disappeared in the vast ocean that is music. Since this medium is a very eclectic one, there are regular resurgences of this style in newer bands, and I always give them a go to judge the current state of things. Which is what lead me to today’s band: An Elegy! The quintet is about to release its debut EP, Embrace The Rain, on July 27th and I’m here to tell you whether you should give them a chance or just move on.

Let’s get one thing out of the way that hit me right from the get-go: these Brits must love Upon This Dawning. Their sound is very European, even though I couldn’t explain to you what I mean by that if you held a gun to my head, and it reminded me very much of the aforementioned Italian’s first major release…which is a good thing, to me, by the way. Throughout the eleven songs, down-tuned guitars, and chugging rhythms are ever-present, but usually overlaid by mildly technical elements, before exploding into purely melodic parts for the choruses. Obviously, the drumming goes hand in hand with that, while alternating between fast-paced and groove-laden play.

Next up are the vocals: as mentioned at the beginning of this review, there are two different types of vocals, provided by two different people, that intertwine during the nineteen minutes, as is tradition for this style. The unclean vocals are fairly diverse and cover deep growls, screeches and regular screams; while the clean vocals, that are provided by one of the axemen, stay rather constantly on an enjoyable level of melodic goodness.

All in all, I would say that Embrace The Rain is an ambitious first step in the right direction but, despite all the musicians being talented, that it’s missing that little extra something to distance itself from the masses. Now, maybe I’m just too critical or over-saturated, but nevertheless I am very confident in saying that An Elegy has the potential to go big, when they find their own sound and manage to execute it well. Either way, your time will not be wasted by giving them a listen, so please do so below and head over to their Facebook page for more information.

Going Away Party – Going Away Party


I’ve said it a thousand times before: I fucking love pop punk! On the other hand there’s a genre that I used to avoid in my teens, because I couldn’t get into it, but grown quite fond of at a later age and that is emo…opposite day, I know right? Either way: Going Away Party unites both worlds, with a definite emphasis on the latter genre, on their self-titled debut album and I want to rave a bit about it.

The trio’s music has this really old-school emo feel to it, complete with slightly wonky playing, an angsty atmosphere and simple but effective melodies, that just manages to appeal to fans of the genre. Especially during the drum parts, I noticed a handful of hick-ups such as several out-of-beat parts, but rather than perfecting it digitally, they stayed in the mix, which gives them so much more character.

The riffs during the eleven tracks are nothing you’ve never heard before, and they’re also kept quite simple, but they simply work so perfectly in the ensemble. It’s also where you can find the pop punk elements, due to the truly enjoyable melodies and the resulting catchiness. In terms of tempo, there’s a couple of more up-beat songs and some slower ones, which altogether make for a fairly diverse experience.

The major selling point for enthusiasts are the raspy, yet whiny, vocals that display so much charisma. Along with the “gentle” screams and the truly cliché lyrics, it feels so nostalgic that I can’t help but love what the Brits put together. The vast majority of the thirty-nine minutes deals with lost love, teenage-angst and the tracks all convey a deeply melancholic vibe.

To sum things up, Going Away Party definitely don’t reinvent the wheel, quite the contrary actually: they put a wheel to use that was forgotten for a long time, and in doing so they show that it can still drive as smoothly as in its prime. So, if you too miss those long-gone days of good emo music, don’t hesitate and check out their self-titled debut which drops on June 8th! In the meantime, you can head over to their Facebook page and sadly not listen to the song below, because there’s nothing online yet.

Brunel – Smash On


After bringing you a couple of reviews from my musical comfort zone these past two weeks, it’s time to step out of said zone again and venture toward the unfamiliar! My first thought when I put on Brunel‘s record Smash On, was “Oh hey, this sounds like Sex Bob-Omb from Scott Pilgrim Vs The World!”. I know this sounds random, but if you’ve seen this, seriously underrated, movie, you might not take me for bat-shit crazy.

The quartet plays this weird mix of stoner rock and hardcore-punk, that just makes you wanna dance. While the massive bass lines are definitely the driving force behind the instrumental part of the nine tracks, the guitars and the drums contribute a lot to the energetic vibe as well. On a technical level, the music is nothing to write home about, but the groove shines when it has to and there is enough diversity to avoid boredom.

Just as the title of the Englishmen’s record might suggest, these thirty-eight minutes are fairly straight-forward and combined with the, dare I say, primitive production, they don’t try to be something they’re not. If the word “primitive” has discouraged you from even considering this record, you are on the definitely on the wrong track. The instruments all sound organic and convey a truly honest sound. No bullshit allowed.

The vocals are, what I would predict to be, hit or miss for the majority of listeners however. The performance itself is really solid, but the way they are recorded might make it difficult to get into them at first. The way I imagine them being recorded, is by placing a megaphone five meters away from the mic, then the singer another two meters away from that. While I’m quite sure that that’s not at all how it was done, I must say that after a few tries, I enjoyed them for their uniqueness.

All in all, Brunel are definitely not your run-off-the-mill band or everyone’s cup of tea, but if you like music that is different than the rest and that is a bit wonky, in a good way, at times…don’t hesitate and give Smash On a spin! Side note: in my humble opinion they have some similarities to our local stoner-rockers Dirty Crows in some instances…maybe that might incite you further. Either way, head over to their Facebook page and listen to the song below until the official release date on May 11th!