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Tag Archives: hardcore

Blanket Hill – Trenches Of Reality

Blanket Hill - Trenches Of Reality
Today’s review is a bit different than usual, because I’m writing about a local band where I purposefully ignored the release of their debut EP and didn’t cover it on this website…that’s how much I hated it. Two years have since passed and I’m delighted to say that Blanket Hill have fixed everything that I disliked about their debut on their sophomore release called Trenches Of Reality…well almost everything. But more on that in a bit.

In 2014, the quintet rose from the ashes of the hardcore youngsters Order Of The Oceans and underwent several line-up changes before settling on the constellation as it is today. The musical style has also been slightly altered, taking a more traditional old school route, akin to the NYC hardcore and throwing in thrash metal elements for good measure. While it is not them reinventing the wheel, they definitely know how to pull it off convincingly!

The six songs, one of which is an instrumental intro, flow nicely into each other and before you know it, you’re done with Trenches Of Reality…but contrary to the predecessor, it never feels like you’re listening to the same song over and over. The groove-laden riffs and the occasional short solo bring enough variation to the table to avoid that. This was hands down my biggest gripe with Kaizen, so I’m glad that it is no longer an issue, despite there still being some room for improvement.

The vocal situation is still very similar to what we previously heard: not quite my cup of tea, because it’s too much Sprechgesang and fairly monotonous, but since it’s almost a staple in hardcore, I can’t really say anything bad against it. It just isn’t for me. To spice things up. there is one guest appearance by Andrew Wilson of Revulsion that, sorry to say, does nothing for me either.

Reading through what I just wrote, it might seem that I hate the nineteen minutes that are ToR, but consider that I’ve never been a huge fan of the genre to begin with and that I see a lot of potential in the songwriting. So, please, do yourself a favor and listen to the song below to see for yourself whether Blanket Hill is your jam or not, and if they are, make sure to swing by Food For Your Senses in Luxembourg this weekend, where they will perform and release their latest endeavor to the public. More info on that can be found on their Facebook page, enjoy!

Everwaiting Serenade – No Harbor


Ten years. Unless you speak of the earth itself, that’s a long time. Even more so if a band reaches that milestone in its existence, since in today’s music industry that’s becoming more and more rare, with many formations splitting up after a record already.  Which is why I am delighted to write a review about Everwaiting Serenade, who are celebrating that achievement with the release of their new record No Harbor on October 17th!

I must admit that I wasn’t a huge fan of their previous record All Rise, which dates back to 2011, since it didn’t have any real musical highlight to me…but a creative break of four years has definitely remedied that and has helped the quintet (re)define their style! While the metalcore elements have taken a step back, and made way for a more hardcore-orientated sound, they are still found in the essence of the ten songs in the form of melodic riffing and the genre-typical breakdowns.

EWS have always been fond of chugging rhythms and that hasn’t changed either but, especially due to the truly massive production, it’s very well-blended with the various instruments, allowing a clear distinction of the other things going on in a song. Sadly, my only gripe with these thirty-six minutes stems from said chugging though. I’ve said it numerous times in conversations, but I don’t recall ever bringing it up in a review: Luxembourg has tons of amazing musicians, but very few good songwriters. While the songs all have a clear structure and even some truly memorable parts, I was constantly waiting for the massive hook or chorus to come and hit me in the face.

However, this doesn’t mean that No Harbor is your standard uninspired hardcore release either, quite the contrary actually. Especially since the vocals contribute a lot to the variety, since there are numerous sing-along parts in the form of crowd chants and catchy one-liners. While the vocalist has refrained from any vocal style other than screaming, I feel that he has vastly improved and it elevates the ensemble to a new level.

All in all, I’d say that Everwaiting Serenade have managed to capture that which makes them a local force to be reckoned with: raw energy! It might just be personal preference but I’m more than confident that if they iron out the above-mentioned part, they will be here for at least another ten years. Either way, I’m excited to follow their future and if you want to do the same, be sure to head over to Facebook and watch their new video for the title track of No Harbor! Last but not least: Melusina is the place to be on October 17th if you want to experience them live and get your hands on the record!

Salvation – Resurrect The Tradition


I’ve set a personal goal for myself this year, which is to review as many different genres as possible, and after being off to a good start already, I’ll continue in the same vein with today’s band: Salvation! The Florida-based old-school hardcore formation is about to release its debut album Resurrect The Tradition on January 26th, so I’ll give you my two cents on it!

Before I do so, I should probably confess that I’m not a huge fan of traditional hardcore, especially in a live setting, but there are a few bands that I enjoy quite a lot. Today’s quintet, however, has all the elements that draw me toward this specific genre: massive amounts of groove, neckbreaking riffs and a no bullshit attitude!

On the other hand, it also highlights some of the factors that make me so picky when it comes to this type of music: too many chugging rhythms and generally-speaking a very repetitive songwriting. Which is why the eleven songs all seamlessly blend into each other and before you notice what hit you, the album is over. Luckily this doesn’t always necessarily equal something bad, because in this case I actually wanted to press the replay button.

During the thirty-five minutes, the singer mainly sticks to his aggressive screams and hardcore-typical spoken word-like singing, but occasionally he goes into deep growls and sometimes even into screeches, which gives the vocal front a nice multifaceted feel. Lyrically, I just can’t get around saying that it’s nothing I’ve heard on pretty much every record in the same genre that is out there already.

To sum things up, I’ll say that Resurrect The Tradition is exactly what its name suggests: a revival of many classic elements, with a dash of modern aspects, that managed to keep me interested but didn’t exactly blow me away. If you are into classic hardcore I can strongly recommend giving it a listen though! For more information, be sure to head over to their Facebook page and if you are curious, listen to the song below!

Falling Promises – Dystopia


The long-awaited debut full-length of the Luxembourgish hardcore ensemble Falling Promises is about to be released and I’ve had the chance to listen to it before it comes out…so here are my thoughts on Dystopia!

After an intro featuring Charlie Chaplin’s world-famous speech from The Great Dictator, you are immediately hit in the face with crushing riffs and beats, before the first breakdown of these thirty-nine minutes sets in…and many will follow. While the over-use of breakdowns is often despised, I personally don’t mind it in this case because the songs were clearly written with a live setting in mind and therefor the (violent) danceability on here is extremely high.

This fact also entails a lot of chugging on both the guitars and drums, but I can assure you that there is enough melodic variation in between these parts. Especially the string department has some really cool surprises in tow, namely on the song Surface, which has this really nice djent vibe to it with its almost entrancing melody. Definitely my favorite among these ten tracks.

The vocals range from bone-shattering screams to extremely deep growls, which can rival the bass guitar…well almost. Performance-wise there is absolutely nothing to criticize and the guest apperance by Jesse Barnett of Stick To Your Guns is a nice little bonus. I should also mention that the production value of the album is as tight as can be, making the listening even more enjoyable, since it fits the genre perfectly.

As a closing statement, I would like to say that Dystopia is a beautiful monument for the band’s fallen brother…and that I wish them all the best in their future endeavors. I, for one, will follow their road from here on out, and you can do so too by checking their Facebook page. Listen to the song below and if you like what you hear, head on over to the Why Not pub in Dudelange this Friday for the release listening party of the album.

Weekend Nachos – Still

Tower of Rome once stated “We put the fun in funeral”. Guess this could be the best description for the biggest surprise coming from Illinois, best known for its catchy and original name Weekend Nachos and their newest gem Still. Just like putting fun into funeral; this band manages a difficult duty unlike any other; which is to sound serious and tough like the toughest hardcore act ever without losing focus on fun and not taking themselves too seriously; which is simply amazing and a fresh breeze for the tired listener’s ears.

Describing the musical style with genres is bullshit in this case; this is more than powerviolence. Take old school hardcore, mix it with a punk attitude (duuuh), give it some crust and grind influences, add a lot of anger (20 tons of pissed emotions are just fine) and voila, there you go.

The opener Sickened No More is the most amazing track to start a brand new listening experience. It knocks one out from the first second to the last, giving you not enough time to breathe or to realize what is going on. So does No Idols And No Heroes, guitars on 11 out of 10 and drumsets on the verge of destruction. This goes on for 12 tracks straight, a total 21 minutes of madness and anger.

This might be Weekend Nachos strongest point, speed and roughness. Just like a bastard child from Slayer and Terror that’s got this “childish” punk attitude that couldn’t make one happier. It’s just too hard to catalog or describe this band’s sound; one has to hear it in order to understand the extent aggressiveness and I just leave it right here with this video clip. Happy listening.

Order Of The Oceans – A Departure


Order Of The Oceans are a relatively young band, both in terms of existence and average age of the band members, from Luxembourg who started out as a deathcore band in 2010 and have since moved into a hardcore direction. Their debut album A Departure is going to be released on the 29th of this month and I’m here to give you my two cents about it.

I’ll get my only criticism out of the way first: the thing that struck me about those nine tracks is that the production-value varies greatly, ranging from solid and clearly distinguishable instruments on a few songs to a hard-to-listen-to mishmash on the rest. Since I’m a fan of massive productions, that did bother me at first but once I looked beyond it, I was actually treated to an enjoyable experience. But enough of the bad, let’s get to the good stuff!

The song palette is surprisingly diverse and features your typical hardcore sound with a touch of melodic parts, some heavier songs which have more aggressive riffs and growls and last but definitely not least the, in my opinion, fantastic ballad Commitment. The song is a simple but effective piano track with heartfelt screams on top…it sounds banal on paper but it conveys its message perfectly.

Speaking of messages: the lyrics are a focal point of the band, since they want to address their every-day issues with love, respect and loss. While not every line is of Shakespearean grandeur, their point gets across and I’m convinced that more than just one listener out there will manage to identify with the words during these thirty-five minutes. To spice things up a bit further, the vocal department is supported by Mike Rodrigues of Falling Promises on two songs!

All in all, I’d say that OOTO have made a respectable first step into the recorded music scene and that they will take quite a few more steps, if they can improve on the little kinks that are present on this debut album. More information can be found on the band’s Facebook page and a first impression can be found below. Also, if you like what you hear, be sure to head to the Rockhal Café in Esch-Belval this Friday, since that’s where the release show will be!

The Smoking Hearts – Victory!


I’m back! After taking a two week writing break to party like no tomorrow and go to some cool gigs, I bring you The Smoking Hearts‘ debut album Victory! which was released in April. I first heard and met the guys back in 2011 when they opened for The Used, and I immediately dug their stage presence as well as their music. Two years later I read that they were the opener for Stone Sour, which got me quite excited since I hadn’t really kept up with their evolution. To keep it short: it was a bad idea to have put this album off for so long because it kicks ass.

But let me elaborate: the UK-based band refers to themselves as rock’n’roll, but I’d say that hardcore with an occasional punk influence puts it more to the point. The intro track Off With Your Head just kicks you right in the face from start to finish, dictating the pace for the rest of the eleven tracks in total. On the second track, however, you get confronted with the more melodic instrumental aspect during the chorus, which is coupled with gang vocals, thus making the whole thing a lot less repetitive.

The instruments are flawlessly played and provide a driving backdrop which is groovy and heavy at the same time. There is nothing to whinge about when it comes to the production, either. The only thing that might be putting first-time listeners off are the partially raspy, for lack of a better word, vocals. While they do fit the ensemble quite well, I’d say that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

To sum things up, I’d say that while The Smoking Hearts‘ debut might not be a victory for the entire musical genre, it certainly is a big Victory! for them. I for one am looking forward to seeing them on stage in the, hopefully, near future and also, in due time, to their next release. You can find more information on the band’s Facebook page and you can get a taste of the album below.

BUTE – Crustatomic


Crustcore/Punk, Powerviolence have re-gained a lot of „popularity“ over the last years and like every time something gets popular, cool and trendy the market becomes congested and newbies find it difficult to distinguish and to pick up the best stuff (although this is subjective most of the time). If you are an amateur when it comes to Crust, you absolutely have to check out pioneer bands like Amebix, Doom, Crass, Discharge and co. If you are into the genre I don’t tell you something new but instead have something “different” for you: BUTE

The French duo was formed in late 2012 and they released their first Ep In Trust We Crust in October and it really hit me. Soon after, I discovered that they would record a second Ep in March and I decided to make some publicity for the newest 9 song output, Crustatomic.
To make it simple, BUTE play modern and violent Crust/Powerviolence. The music is dirty, the tempo is fast, the voice consists of aggressive shrieks and shouts and everything is over in +/-16 min. Whereas the In Trust We Crust record was more Grindcore/extreme metal orientated the band took a different, a more punk-ish approach on Crustatomic, which gets quite obvious in songs like Fils de Bute, Die 4 Diy and Scorebute. In the end all you hear is some honest music with a lot of humour embedded in a DIY Punk corset. BUTE certainly did not invent a new genre or play something completely new but they somehow managed to create a unique sound, which may be due to the drum computer the band uses. Talking about the drum computer, I have my first (and only) complaint. Personally, the drum machine is not a bad idea at all but I also think that with a real drummer the music would gain momentum. As mentioned before, Crust is a  dirty and raw extreme subgenre where a perfectly timed drum machine seems to be an overkill sometimes.

Give these guys a chance! Listen to the Ep on their bandcamp. Share the music and support DIY Punk!

HATE CRIME

Independent filmmaker James Cullen Bressack‘s latest movie HATE CRIME was quite difficult to review for me. To be straightforward with you, James and his movie want to provoke, which sometimes works really well but unfortunately also fails quite a few times. To give you an idea of what we are talking about here: HATE CRIME is a point of view found footage movie mixed with moderate french violence porn insanity and the aim of pointing to racial prejudices still existing in our modern societies.

The story and especially the idea/conversion of the portrayed pschological and physical abuse loosely remind me of Haneke‘s psycho epos Funny Games (1997) and Stanley Kubricks’s masterpiece Clockwork Orange (1971) with a pinch of neo-nazi. James, of course, has adapted the violence to the 21st century, so everything is a bit more brutal than you may expect. In short: a family is celebrating their son’s birthday when all of a sudden the party gets crashed by hate-filled nazis who resolve to torture the family in every imaginable way.

If you are into no-budget hardcore and exploitation, this movie could be interesting for you, but there are also a few things which bothered me. I won’t go into details now as I do not want to spoil the film for you. The family cast is quite decent but I had my share of problems with the villains. The neo-nazi scene is omnipresent in Europe and it is very important that we do not close our eyes and fight this bullshit, but in the end, they were not credible enough and behaved quite artificially.

The dialogues are mostly based on nazi stereotypes and seemed fittled or even improvised. As I already pointed out, the nazi subject is very weighty and just like the exploitation and especially rape and revenge movies from the 70s, James wants to focus on this theme by exaggerated violence and excessive shocking elements.

Personally, I think that the scenery and acting are too faked and seem to be uncoordinated or even improvised. All in all, if you can overlook these negative aspects and are familiar with bizarre independent flicks, you can give HATE CRIME a try.

I am looking forward to what young independent filmmaker James Cullen Bressack has in store for us in the future.

Fights And Fires – We Could All Be Dead Tomorrow

Fights and Fires remain true to themselves, not without refining their rock soup with some nice little ingredients. If spring won’t come in the next months then this will melt the snow just at the right time to start the festival season.

Starting with what remained the same, let’s talk about the very beginning of We Could All Be Dead Tomorrow, or should I say with the first few songs that again won’t give you any chance to breathe? Just like on the debut album Proof That Ghosts Exist, the four Britons tackle you out of nothing, and don’t you expect any pity: 11 powerful punches right into your face, all tracks rarely longer than 3 minutes, yum-yum! Admirers of the dirtier post-core sound of the debut will find a cleaner production, but fortunately not overproduced.

Pop punk as well as a few 90s metalish head banger parts are a bit more present, pushing the rough hardcore air of the debut a bit aside, but those are just bits and bobs. In the end, Fights and Fires have taken one more step forward, sounding more mature overall, which isn’t a bad thing as long as the lightheartedness won’t get lost. Thankfully, there’s no reason to worry about that, given that the boys still take you to corners of the dance floor you probably have never seen. The darker side of the typical Fights and Fires sound also found its place on We Could All Be Dead Tomorrow, arranged in a very powerful trilogy (If I’m The Forrest Then You’re Jenny, Rats and Vultures and Cat’s Lives) towards the middle of the album before it’s fast-tracking again after a nice transition to Mother’s Advice.

We Could All Be Dead Tomorrow surely is a very strong and worthy successor of the 2011 debut. Put on your dancing shoes!

Recommendations: Chase The BluesBack Bone, If I’m The Forrest Then You’re Jenny, Bff… For Now

The LP will be out on February 22nd, you can pre-order it in the format of your choice or immediately download the digital album here.