Friday, July 1, 2016

I Don't Usually Write Reviews...Except for When I Do

I decided to write some reviews. Cool? Cool.

Bleakalysis (aka Bleak/Dialysis split 7”)
Leave it up to Hex and his crew to completely bastardize typical formulas….here we have Bleak offering two cover songs; one by Tom Waits and one by Unsane, both of which feature vocals by a member of Dialysis, as well as Dialysis offering another Tom Waits cover which features vocals by the dude from Bleak and one original, “Things I Hate About This Place” which is basically the flipside of the song “Things I Like About This Place” from their last 7”.
The results? Bleak get grimy and nasty with their songs, continuing to pull heavily from early 00’s Hydra Head/Escape Artist-esque metallic hardcore-one would properly imagine a live set filled with chaos, broken strings, and flailing bodies everywhere. The vocals on the first song have a tad more effect than I prefer, though it does add to the general sonic carnage. Hex takes the mic during the Unsane cover and he's a natural fit over the angular slab of noise.
The Dialysis side is also true to form…the Tom Waits cover is significantly punked out with an infectious, nervous energy that’s catchy as hell. As mentioned previously “Things I Hate About This Place” picks up where a previous song left off, even lifting the opening and closing riffs. Like its precursor, it features some pretty hilarious lyrics delivered in Hex’s rabid dog style vocal attack. Clever and well done.
Bleak “No Light, No Tunnel” LP
The latest LP from Bleak is an altogether unhinged affair, a barrage of dissonant chaos. While they are still basically a noisy metallic hardcore band, the tempos on this record are consistently faster than their previous material. That said, they can still bring that ominous slow groove (See “Crowley”) when they want to, and they execute it to rather monstrous effect.
The most noticeable difference to me on this record, and perhaps the biggest drawback, is the new (old) vocalist. In contrast to the bludgeoning roar of the previous singer, the new vocalist’s range is a good bit higher, and while it does the job, it simply lacks the power I’m used to hearing from this band.
That said, they continue to deliver slab after slab of pummeling riffs, and given their relentless touring schedule, they don’t appear to be slowing down any time soon.

Praise “Leave It All Behind” LP
I’ve always thought Praise was a breath of fresh air in hardcore and punk, and on this new record, that breath is even more crisp and satisfying. There’s almost a pop sensibility on some of these songs, and while that usually spells doom for me, these guys pull it off flawlessly. Vocalist Andy Norton’s half spoken-half sung vocals have never sounded better; he has a silky smooth quality to his voice that pulls you in. Anthony Dye’s guitar work is exceptional, throwing in quirky little twists and turns which keep you on your toes. And of course the rhythm section fleshes it out and holds it all down all at once.
As with most React releases, the layout looks great; the simple font jumps out at me for some reason and the colors contrast perfectly. Production-wise this thing sounds spot-on.  It might almost sound a little too polished at times, but at the end of the day you can still tell these songs are being played by hardcore kids.
Overall, this has probably been my most listened to record of the year so far in 2016, and I have no doubt it will end up very high on my end of the year list.  

xRepentancex “Cleansing” 7”
I sort of ignored this band for a while. I knew exactly what it was going to sound like, and given that metal-core is sort of undergoing this resurgence among kids today, I just didn’t want to give it the time of day for some reason.
Boy, did I fuck up, haha. While I still think it’s pretty damn cheesy that they straight up stole the Earth Crisis wrenches for their cover art, musically this thing CRUSHES. It’s only two songs, but it only needs to be two songs….I listen to these jams back to back to back for like an hour straight and I’m still car moshing the whole time.
The vocalist sounds more pissed off than any singer I’ve heard in a long time, and it doesn’t come off as some manufactured rage, this dude sounds like he's ready to burn the motherfucking factory farms to the ground! Musically, they totally nail the Undying/End This Day metal-core riffs, and then proceed to induce full scale riots with their mosh parts. The chug-squeal breakdown in the second song is probably the sickest mosh riff I’ve heard in like 15 years, haha.
The layout also rules. Like that new Mindset 7”, it features a super thick cardstock cover which simply looks and feels awesome.  I bought the double LP discography as well, but I figured I’d just review the 7” since it all pretty much sounds the same; these 2 songs are just their best IMO. Kudos on some of the hardest shit I’ve heard in quite some time.

Youth Novel/Coma Regalia “The Gentle Harm of Tradition” 7”
When I was coming up Michigan always had tons of bands that fell on the screamier end of the hc spectrum, but for the last several years we seem to have almost nothing; save for Ann Arbor’s Youth Novel.  I guess what we lack in quantity we make up for in quality because these kids have their sound dialed in and they really go for it on these two songs. All the hallmarks of the style are on full display; quiet twinkly parts that explode into driving insanity, desperate, layered vocals; there’s even some full-fledged singing which they pull off nicely. This is their first vinyl release and they kill it for sure. They have an LP in the works so look out for that….really nice people to boot.
As for Coma Regalia, Shawn Decker continues to be the most prolific man in punk. I literally don’t understand how someone with a job and a family can write, record, and release so much music, but the dude is simply an unstoppable wrecking ball of goodness. Anyway, the Coma side starts off with a nice instrumental that leads into one of the more chaotic Coma songs I’ve heard. It crashes and scorches for the first minute, hits a brief lull, then puts the foot on the gas for another glorious minute before breezily fluttering off into the distance.
Great work on both sides. Recommend the music, highly recommend the people.

Slow Fire Pistol-Demo
This band features Hank from Foundation, but it sounds zero like Foundation, so you can stop doing stretches now kid cuz’ there is no mosh to be brought, haha. While Foundation certainly had those 90’s vibes, this band does too, albeit in a totally different way.
This harkens back to the days when screamy shit was mixing with more crusty, DIY oriented heavy hardcore. The most direct comparison I can make is to Yaphet Kotto because the vocals remind me of Casey (?) and some of the guitar work recalls YK. That said, as a whole it just sounds to me like an amalgamation of the type of stuff I would have seen in a basement in like 1997. There would have been a literature table in the back, lots of kids wearing patches (especially Avail patches), and a mysterious pot of vegan soup/chili/sludge with a donation cup next to it. 
Something tells me that’s exactly what these dudes were going for. I think it rules, hope they do more stuff.

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