Gallows

desolation_sounds_artworkGALLOWS
Desolation Sounds
(Venn/PIAS)

I like to feed on broken hearts,” roared former Gallows vocalist Frank Carter, but it seems that these days, his ex-bandmates like to feed on adversary. Be it Mr Carter’s 2011 departure, or that of his guitarist brother Steph two years later, each obstacle placed in Gallows’ way sees them return stronger, darker – and, dare we say it, better?

Certainly, Desolation Sounds is no mere re-tread of past glories. There’s still plenty of hardcore rock n’ roll vitriol on display in the likes of ‘Leviathan Rot’ and ‘Leather Crown’, but in general, this is a more expansive and ambitious beast of a record than its predecessor. Witness the eerie choral intro of ‘Chains’, which gives way to sludgy, granite-hewn riffs, or the brooding, gothic vibe of ‘Bonfire Season’, with Wade MacNeil’s mournful vocals lending a sinister edge to proceedings. Later, the clipped, almost robotic rhythms of ‘Death Valley Blues’ and the Mastodon-gone-schizophrenic attack of ‘Swan Song’ will have wondering just what else these guys have up their sleeves.

Overall, Desolation Sounds is the result of Gallows being completely true to themselves, and just as it must have been a liberating experience for its creators, it’s deeply compelling for the listener. Oh, and most of these songs will probably sound even better live. Find out for yourself at the following dates:

May
22nd – Glasgow Cathouse
23rd – Leeds Slam Dunk Festival
24th – Hatfield Slam Dunk Festival
25th – Wolverhampton Slam Dunk Festival
26th – London Garage
27th – Manchester Sound Control

Alex Gosman

Millencolin

True BrewMILLENCOLIN
True Brew
(Epitaph)

Millencolin, bless them, have never been the most original of bands. The Swedish quartet have freely admitted that, in the early days, they were huge NOFX fanboys who just wanted to sound as much like their heroes as possible. Fast forward a couple of decades, and they now often resemble Sweden’s answer to Bad Religion; be it in the oohs -n’-ahhs backing vocals, the gloriously melodic buzzsaw guitars, or vocalist/bassist Nikola Sarcevic’s willingness to open lyrical fire on society’s ills (check out the video for excellent anti-racism anthem ‘Sense & Sensibility’ below).

And you know what? It really doesn’t matter, especially when Millencolin continue to write smart, addictive songs as well as they do here. Whilst the band have hardly been slouching at home in the seven years since so-so previous record ‘Machine 15’, the time away has definitely done them plenty of good; the likes of the title track and ‘Chameleon’ see them sounding more fired-up than they’ve been in a decade, and the majority of the record measures up well against old classics like ‘No Cigar’ and ‘Bullion’.

Ultimately, True Brew sees Millencolin returning to their roots in damn fine style. Let’s drink to that.

Alex Gosman

Whatever Nevermind

whatever_nevermindWhatever Nevermind
Various Artists
Robotic Empire

Keeping in line with the current montage of Nirvana whirling around the media, the fantastic Robotic Empire label have revealed their second tribute to the band.

Following 2014’s take on In Utero, which featured an all star cast of Ceremony, Daughters and Jay Reatard, this time around, Nevermind is given the cover treatment.

Featuring a diverse range of acts from Torche’s low-end sludge rendition of ‘In Bloom’ to La Dispute’s post-hardcore ‘Polly’ drawl, via White Reaper’s thrashing ode to ‘Territorial Pissings’, there’s much gold to be found here. Especially in Young Widows’ thankfully innovative spin on ‘Teen Spirit.

GNOB

gnob_temple_of_sinners
Gnob
Temple Of Sinners EP

It’s not often that you stumble across a band that love sludge, and space cakes, so much they launched a KickStarter to fund a trip into orbit as the first stoner rock trio to jam in outer space. Gnob are that band, and thank green we’ve found them, and their new EP, Temple Of Sinners – a mind-melting home brew of cosmic dirge that is guaranteed to blow your ears clean off.

Sadly, KickStarter denied their proposed £498,000 space ritual fund-raiser, but this bunch plough on to higher realms regardless. Opening track ‘Curse Of The Jester’ takes a treacherous plunge into some seriously evil aural gloop, before coming up for air to breath the kind of vocal you’d expect to find on Master Of Reality. Bridging the gap between this filthy offering, and the bold psychedelic dimensions that lay ahead, though, is ‘Ceremony’. Five minutes of what’s only describable as shamanic, almost recalling the sitar-like noodling prowess you’d expect to hear hailing from the mystic Goat commune.

As if your ears weren’t smouldering already, ‘Temple Of Sinners’ morphs into a ten-minute psychedelic close, building Sleep-indebted riffs to monolithic heights before hurling into a wonderful haze of warped eastern jams.

Hit play below and let Gnob’s sludge ooze (careful) from your speakers. There’s nothing short of a masterclass in the dark arts of sludge, doom and psych to be found here.

Dave Palmer

Teenage Bottlerocket

tbrTeenage Bottlerocket
Tales From Wyoming
Rise Records

Sometimes, the biggest joys in life are the most straightforward, uncomplicated ones. The great thing about Wyoming quartet Teenage Bottlerocket is that they don’t fuck around, not wasting a single chord or word over the 35-odd minutes of Tales From Wyoming (their sixth record), and no end of great tunes.

Seriously, those tunes – they don’t half stick in your head. These guys play melodic punk rock in a similar vein to the Ramones, Misfits and Screeching Weasel; with few songs clocking in past the three-minute mark, and all the important topics – girls, horror movies, insanity, heavy metal heroes, comic book villains, etc. – covered. Watch the video for ‘They Call Me Steve’ below.

Alex Gosman

Swervedriver

Swervedriver
I Wasn’t Born To Lose You
(Cherry Red)

swervedriver

Nostalgia has never played a bigger part in music than it does right now.With decades of music to draw from, and with literally every band from the past still active or reformed and playing again, it’s a cluttered world of music that we all occupy, and it’s a wonder how new music even gets a look in. How many of these reunited old bands, however, can return eighteen years after they last made a new album and come back with a set of songs that is as good as, if not better than, the prime of their original material? The answer is of course, not very bloody many. Apart from Swervedriver.

I Wasn’t Born To Lose You is testament to how talented Swervedriver are. Initially lumped in by the UK press in the early 90s with the whole dour ‘shoegaze’ scene (Ride, Slowdive, Chapterhouse etc), it was a label that never sat well with the band. They were tougher, harder and more psychedelic. Swervedriver’s swirling, charging, dusty-road-wasteland rock had its roots and influences in the highways of American blues, the sonic white noise pop of Husker Du, the psychedelic freak-outs of Sonic Youth, the slacker fuzz grooves of Dinosaur Jr. Their debut single ‘Son Of Mustang Ford’ (released in 1990 on Creation Records) wasn’t the sound of a band gazing at their shoes, this was a band tearing down the highway, peddle to the floor, blowing sand and dust in our faces as they tore through the music scene, creating some of the most sublime and addictive psychedelic rock the nineties had to offer.
Swervedriver 7-super8
By 1998, however, their tank was running out of fuel and the band went on hiatus, going their separate ways. By 2007, with their cult status at an all-time high and with the music scene coming around again and catching up with their style, they performed at Coachella and played intermittently for the following years. By 2013, we got out first taste of new material in single ‘Deep Wound’ and the flavour was good! Now we have the whole album in our hands and in our heads and it doesn’t disappoint in any way whatsoever. Tracks like ‘For A Day Like Tomorrow’ and ‘Setting Sun’ are as good as anything, if not better, than the band have created before. Singer Adam Franklin’s voice drawls, whispers and croons, chiming and shimmering against Jim Hartridge’s motorised guitar-weaving to perfection. And then there’s ‘Red Queen Arms Race’ which sees the band ploughing headlong into heavier waters, brandishing tough stoner-rock-Black Sabbath infused riffs to brutal and punishing effect.

Ignore some of the average reviews of this album that have appeared. These people obviously didn’t spent enough time with it. Or they don’t know Swervedriver like we do. The longer you spend with this album, the larger the melodies and grooves grow. Open your minds. Let Swervedriver in.

James Sherry

Drug Church

swell_drugchurchDrug Church
Swell
(No Sleep Records)

A great deal has happened since 90s alt influenced punks Drug Church‘s debut LP, Paul Walker. Vocalist Patrick Kindlon has released a number of records with his “main” outfit, Self Defense Family, the band have toured the USA multiple times, and have an upcoming European tour with Title Fight and Gnarwolves planned. It’s not only a struggle to imagine how the band found time to release this EP, but also what’s arguably their best record to date by quite a stretch.

Opening with their most experimental cut yet, ‘But Does it Work?’, this deeply cynical list sets the tone of the entire EP. Kindlon’s almost Morrissey-esque repetition of the phrase “nothing works”, coupled with heavily monotonous rhythms, makes this easily one of the most interesting and engaging songs in Drug Church’s discography, let alone this record.

Kindlon’s song writing prowess extends with EP closer ‘Zero Zero’s lyrics horrifically relatable for anyone with an over-active brain. The opening line of “I care an unhealthy amount about things I can’t at all help / I care a bit too much for those who choose to stay out of touch” sums up the song perfectly before he appears at his most biting with the lyrics, “gas station food and bus station people, a moment to share, surrounded by equals”.

Musically, Drug Church clearly take cues from bands like Quicksand and Seaweed (though I’d argue DC are far more interesting than either). Buzzsaw post-hardcore guitars with moments of shoegaze riffs (again, see the brilliant ‘Zero Zero’), if you were a fan at all of the debut LP it is vital that you pick this up. If you’re unfamiliar, then start with this record, five brilliant songs clocking in at just 16 minutes, it is the perfect length. Perhaps too many bands take influence from the 90s but it’s unlikely you’ll find it done much better than on Swell.

Tim Lewis

Swell is out now on No Sleep Records.

Doctor and the Crippens

Doctor and the Crippens
Raphanadosis
Boss Tuneage

doctor_

There are certain albums from the 80s that bring back so many incredible memories that you just have to re-buy them – Raphanadosis is definitely one those. From the grinding blast beats of ‘Garden Centre Murders’ to the zombie intro of ‘Braindead’, (still one of the best intro’s to a hardcore record of all time) this 22-track masterpiece full of nightmares comes packed with super-fast, quintessentially British hardcore with humorous subject matter that will be an anthem for many.

The gritty, monstrous vocals of ‘My Brother Is A Headcase’ still sounds like a vegetarian is tied up in a basement being force-fed bacon whilst listening to ‘Henenlotter’ on repeat. The eerie build up in ‘Button Moon’ still retains a creepy cesspit of misery before you are blown into outer space.’The Kid With The Removable Face’ is still being used as a frisbee (and still making me LOL) and ‘8 Years in Office’ and ‘Extreme Noise T’ are still the best shortest songs on the album. More records should also have titles for the A and B sides too. Side ‘Insecticide’ was always followed by Side ‘Fungicide’ with this release, you could never just listen to half of it. Brilliant stuff.

I feel like ‘Wurzel Gummidge on acid’ listening to this again, a feeling most would probably avoid. Maybe that’s what Raphanadosis actually means. I never knew what it was when I was 16 listening when this was on my record player, in fact I always referenced is as SNIT which seems to have disappeared from the brilliant front cover art. It’s probably gone for a good reason that I don’t understand and that is exactly why this album is so damn brilliant. I never wanted to know who Doctor and the Crippens were really. So stoked I’ve caught Raphanadosis 26 years later.

Top marks to Boss Tuneage this month who have decided to get this classic out of the punk rock vaults and re-package it for the exploding cabbage appreciation society that followed this seminal bunch of laugh-a-minute punks.

Pick up the re-issue from here. It’s a must have double vinyl and CD package that comes with 15 extra tracks from their John Peel Show in (1989), the North Atlantic Noise Attack comp LP and Avant Gardening 12” EP. All that for £8!

Zac

Hey Colossus

Hey_Colossus_In_Black_Gold_sleeve_art4Hey Colossus
‘In Black and Gold’
Rocket Recordings

Over the last 11 years, Hey Colossus have become something of an institution in the UK’s noise-rock scene. They’re absurdly prolific, this is album number nine, devoutly experimental – and heavy as a sack of spanners.

Their growing esteem and popularity likely has much to do with the band’s sharp changes in tone and style from LP to LP. Each one takes them into uncharted ground, exposing them to new audiences along the way. Recent releases have even garnered glowing reviews by broadsheets determined to assert their ‘cool’ – what more could a band so uncompromising and antisocial-sounding ask for?
Yet with ‘In Black and Gold’, the follow-up to 2013’s acclaimed ‘Cuckoo Live Life Like Cuckoo’ they’ve managed to deliver a record that pulls beauty from their copious wreckage more so than ever before.

Much of the tonal shift on this latest LP can be attributed to guitarist Jonathan Richards stepping up to provide more of the song writing than on previous outings.

A skateboarder since 1988, Richards intimates that much of his material was developed in his head while on-board: ‘The songs feature lots of banks and transitions that came directly from skating. The changes in rhythm and pace as I skated helped develop the blocks of sound that I would eventually translate to guitar when I got home.’

The result is a record that takes in a wide range of styles and moods, whilst managing to retain the trademark meditative aggression the band have developed in recent years.

Live, Hey Colossus have earned a reputation for show-stealing performances that are as unpredictable and confrontational as they are hypnotic. With a UK tour ahead to promote ‘In Black & Gold’, there’s a chance to experience the wall of sound created by this 6-man worrying proposition for yourself.

James Barry

Download the album at Rocket Recordings.

Last two shows sold out in Bristol and London this past weekend. Don’t miss out on the rest of the tour dates!

14th Feb – Brighton
18th Feb – Birmingham
19th Feb – Newcastle
20th Feb – Edinburgh
21st Feb – Nottingham
6th March – Manchester
7th March – Shipley

POND

POND_Man_It_Feels_Like_Space_AgainPOND
Man It Feels Like Space Again
Caroline

Soulful pop in a seashell dress, except the sea in question is the one from that bit in ‘Interstellar’ on the perpetual wave-machine planet.” – anonymous

That is just one way that the new offering from big ol’ buddy pals POND has been described to me since its release. It sounds like the sonic interpretation of having a really great time with some close friends, except that you all have the ability to transform into lava-lamps, and that’s what you do all night, every night for a week straight.

Three tracks into ‘MIFLSA’ (as I call it) you’ve been dragged aboard the Pond Rocket depicted on the cover and are heading into uncharted cosmic territory that somehow still feels like a sofa bed in your cool friend’s mum’s basement. Friendly, but slick grooves are split up by oases that float you down gently from the sonic equivalent of the East Australian Current (as seen in the 2003 computer-animated comedy-drama adventure film ‘Finding Nemo’), and out into tepid waters, where you can look back and have bit of a think.

Penultimate track ‘Medicine Hat’, however, sounds like something off Exile On Main St that was recorded in the bottom hull of the aforementioned Pond Rocket as it soars past Saturn. Other highlights include an insanely cool guitar sound in the second quarter of the behemoth title track that figure skates right over your shoulder and into your heart.

All in all, this album is pretty nuts and pretty great. The fact the centerpiece of the album is called ‘Heroic Shart’ basically sums it up – don’t take it too seriously and that makes the quasi-cosmic journey all the more fun.

Charlie Pelling