What happens when you have had such a shit day that booze just won’t cut it? What happens when the battery on your iPod runs out in the middle of your favourite tune? And what happens when your local Chinese takeaway tells you you’re not getting your free prawn crackers tonight? What happens is that Crossfire comes at you with the most brutal metal, the most vibrant punk and the best the indie world has to offer, and slaps you round the face with it. Forget the crackers, the battery and the crap office you work in and fix your ears onto our recommendations. The Pit is back and its gonna cause carnage.
Ryan Bird has been mowing the lawn with the sounds of:
TOOL – 10,000 Days
This is it. The album that you either have, or damn well should have been, waiting for for almost half a decade. Their first batch of fresh material since 2001’s classic ‘Lateralus‘, Los Angeles based quartet Tool return with the outstanding ‘10,000 Days’. Packed full of 10-minute plus marathons bursting with the off-kilter rhythms, twisted riffs and soaring vocal harmonies many have come to know and love so dearly, it’s already certain to top the end of year polls for fans and critics alike. Drag yourselves to stores from May 8th and form an orderly queue.
MOTLEY CRUE – Carnival of Sins – Live
(Motley Records / SPV)
Whether you care to acknowledge it or not, Motley Crue are simply one of the most influential and legendary bands in rock history. Bursting onto the LA strip scene of the early 1980’s their unique hard rock stylings – as well as their sex, drugs and alcohol fuelled rampages – would go on to form the blueprint of which countless classic bands would follow thereafter. Recorded on their hugely successful ‘Carnival of Sins’ world tour, this double-disc set clocking in at over 100 minutes is a shining example of how heavy music deserves to be played. Loud, fast, and fucking filthy.
SWORN ENEMY – The Beginning of the End
Any seasoned Sworn Enemy fan will tell you that upon first listen ‘The Beginning of the End’ is not so much a mere album title as it is a lip-splitting statement of intent. Though several years on the road with a host of modern day metal’s leading lights has clearly had more than a slight influence on proceedings, the band’s previous hardcore roots are by no means severed; but rather moulded into a 45 minute slice of groove-laden brutality. Jaw-breaking devastation at its absolute finest.
CHOKEHOLD – The Killing Has Begun
In a metal world dominated by overseas exports, it’s refreshing to have yet another member of the ever growing and ever improving UK underground to call our own. A whiplash-inducing nod to the early 90’s groove metal formula perfected by the likes of Pantera and Machine Head, Oxford based five-piece Chokehold have planted the foundations for what may just be a long, successful, and ridiculously heavy career. If the killing has begun then grab your bullet-proof vest, because this is one band you can’t afford to slip away from.
THE HAUNTED – The Haunted
By the summer of 1998 the word “metal” had become a largely dirty word in the minds of many. That is, of course, unless preceded by the words “nu” or “rap”. Thankfully, lurking sinisterly in the Swedish shadows were The Haunted. Formed from the ashes of Gothenburg legends At The Gates, this self-titled debut was the shot in the arm that so many owe so much to. Frantic, uncompromising and utterly irate in its delivery; it was, is, and always will be a true classic in every sense of the word.
Dee Massey has been dining out on Sushi alongside the following records:
Following from their debut top ten single, East London upstarts Boy Kill Boy keep the momentum up with new release Suzie. This upbeat dance floor filler combines a disco vibe with an awesome indie slant intertwined with thumping drums, keyboards and a tongue in cheek disco smattering. Frontman Chris Peck’s distinctive vocals put a dark spin on lyrics of a faltering love affair, crumbling before our very eyes. With a slot of the NME new bands tour on the horizon and the forthcoming album due for release on May 22nd – these guys are whetting our appetites for what promises to be a absolute stormer of an album.
If you missed out on the original release of this single on limited edition last July, then be grateful you have another chance to savour this indie gem. Seductive guitars, layers of sound slithered together with fast packed riffs and an overpowering chorus – this is the track that catapulted the New York three piece into the limelight last summer. With the unforgettably suggestive ‘My body is your body, I won’t tell anybody’, this track will wheedle its way into your head. Describing their sound as “advanced high level sectional articulation” We Are Scientists straddle the gap between darker pop punk and indie chic – and this single is the perfect showcase of their talents.
Hailing from Wisconsin, Delaware, this indie six piece, follow their album release with the intoxicating Did I Tell You. Twinkling keyboards fade into a wonderfully infectious, bitter sweet track, Nick Krill’s heart wrenching vocals grab your attention, to provide a vibrant and memorable offering. The tracks thunders along with an endearing fuzziness, there’s a mellow shadow cast over the proceedings, it’s a sound you can sink into and enjoy. There’s nothing hugely original or breath taking – but this is a well structured, multi faceted feel good single, that’ll prove a good soundtrack to chilled summer evenings…if summer ever arrives that it.
French four piece Phoenix precede their third album release with the dynamic and quirky Long Distance Call. Both enticing yet understated as ever, with great keyboard and cross fader effects, it’s a bracing track, with a smooth winding keyboard sound sliding into almost staccato guitar effect on the choruses. Phoenix are essentially a pop band with good dose of indie sensibility, and this track really deserves to enjoy mainstream airplay. With their quirky choppy sound, they apparently revel in their studio time and this shines through in a coherent and beautifully presented single. Vive la France!
Currently capturing the hearts of the UK audiences on tour around the country, NY alt country singer/songwriter Teddy Thompson has come to our attention, and really hits his stride with a simply exquisite second album. Rich chords, simple melodies layered to compliment his smooth and reassuring vocals, this supremely talented artist really seems to be coming into his own. With guest appearances from Rufus and Martha Wainwright, and Thompson’s musician parents (dad Richard was in folk rock outfit Fairport Convention and mum Linda was a solo artist), the album is over brimming with catchy, endearing and beautiful tracks that really stick in your mind. Title track Separate Ways is a highlight, with it’s moving, touching lyrics, but there’s really no low point in this album that brings together the elements of folk, alt country and rock. A worthy addition to anyone’s record collection.
Alex Gosman has been throwing his alarm clock against the wall with the help of:
THE AUTUMN OFFERING – Revelations Of The Unsung
Originally formed six years ago in Florida, The Autumn Offering are doing a fine job of mixing old-school metal influences with the speed and fury of hardcore. ‘Revelations Of The Unsung’ (their debut album, originally released in 2003) is bursting with thunderously heavy grooves and gravel-throated vocals, but is set apart from the generic metalcore masses by some amazingly intricate guitar work – such as the Van Halen style shredding on ‘Shadows Of Betrayal’. Keep an eye out for this lot; their new album ‘Embrace The Gutter’ will be released soon.
IGNITE – Our Darkest Days
The Orange County hardcore stalwarts finally return with an absolute stormer of a fourth album. Frontman Zoli Teglas’ soaring voice often resembles that of the Offspring’s Dexter Holland, and much of ‘Our Darkest Days’ is indicative of what the latter band might have sounded like, had they followed a darker, harder musical path instead of writing rubbish pop songs. This is, quite simply, an awesome hardcore record: heavy, yet melodic, and sure to get you singing along with your fist in the air.
REZUREX – Beyond The Grave
Given that Rezurex count members of Tiger Army and Nekromantix among their ranks, it’s no surprise that the Californian quartet’s debut album is a feast of prime quality psychobilly. Imagine the dark, horror-influenced aesthetic of the Misfits (complete with vocals reminiscent of Danzig) paired with the hyperactive pace and style of the Stray Cats; the results are songs like the arresting stomp of ‘Dia De Los Muertos’ and the none-more-black comedy of ‘Everyday Is Halloween’. Truly, ‘Beyond The Grave’ is to die for.
S.O.S. – A Guide To Better Living
‘A Guide To Better Listening’, more like. S.O.S. hail from New York, and deal a mean trade in raw stoner-punk, in a Corrosion Of Conformity/Helmet vein. Having been together nearly a decade, they’re one well-oiled rock n’ roll machine, ripping through monolithic riffs and squalling solos with no shortage of panache. Turn this one up loud, feel the grooves of songs like ‘Star Killers’ and ‘The Wedding Guy’, and be amazed. The fact that this lot are still unsigned is nothing short of criminal.
SUICIDE BID – This Is The Generation
Household Name Records have done a lot for the UK punk scene over the past few years, so it only seems fitting that they should release this album; a collaboration between members of various UK bands like The Filaments, King Prawn, Ex-Cathedra and Operation Nailbomb. ‘This Is The Generation’ is a refreshingly raw mix of ska, reggae, punk and dub, along with politically aware lyrics that intelligently tackle subjects such as the July 7th bomb attacks and anti-war demonstrations. A message for the head and a beat for the feet – essential stuff.
James Sherry has been cracking his skull open to the following:
THE HOLY MOUNTAIN – Enemies
If there’s one thing you should expect from a decent crust punk record is that it has to sound fucking dirty and this new 6-song EP from hardcore powerhouse The Holy Mountain is pure filth! Each song is awash with noise, filth and fury, drawing on the raw power of classic hardcore punk bands like Discharge, Tragedy and Poison Idea played with a jaw dropping intensity that can’t be beat. Listening to songs like ‘The Will Of The People’ and ‘Rope Or Bullet’ you can practically see the veins bulging and the sweat pouring from their heads as they pound living hell out of their instruments. This, my friends, is some heavy shit.
Added to the six new songs, we also get their rare ‘Wrath‘ seven-inch and two songs recorded live at The Fest 4 in November 2005 giving us more noise for our money. Bargain.
FEATHERS – S/T
I think it was Ozzy that once said ‘you have to have quiet bits to make the loud bits sound loud,’ and the befuddled Brummie metal god hit the nail on the head. Feathers feature Kyle and Asa from the monstrously heavy Witch and Feathers is the light to Witch’s all consuming darkness. Specialising in beautifully chilled out almost medieval folk music, Feathers draw obvious comparisons to Devendra Banhart, but their influences come from simpler times when folk collided head-on with psychedelic music and progressive rock and bands like The Incredible String Band, Comus and Fairport Convention stripped their music down to some of the deepest roots in music. Likewise, this album is full of gorgeous, simple songs that make you want to smash your mobile phone, computer and ipod into a thousand pieces and live in a tent. Perhaps.
BEDOUIN SOUNDCLASH – Root Fire
Available for the first time in the UK, this is Bedouin Soundclash’s first album showing how the band got started and how they sounded before the success of their ‘Sounding A Mosaic’ album and their hit single ‘When The Night Fells My Son’ awoke the world to their innovative fusion of reggae, rock, punk and soul. With their roots firmly embedded in the ground-breaking sounds of fellow fusion punk bands like The Clash and Bad Brains, ‘Rootfire‘ shows the band finding their sound and feel through ten tracks of smooth , hypnotic grooves and rolling dub bass. The key to their success, however, is that Bedouin Soundclash understand the importance of memorable sound-writing and hooks and while there is nothing here quite as commercial and addictive as ‘When The Night…’ it’s fun listening to them work their way towards that ultimate goal whilst always retaining their roots and a positive vibe.
CAPTAIN BEYOND – S/T
If you like your classic seventies rock and think you have the best of the period covered with your Led Zep, Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple records, think again. If you dig a little deeper and peek under a few stones there’s treasures there that will blow your brain. Captain Beyond may never have achieved the commercial success of the era’s monsters of rock but their debut album is artistically up their with the greats. The whole album just buzzes with genius, classic riffs, jaw-dropping drumming and rhythmic percussion and brilliant songs. Stoner rock greats Monster Magnet covered ‘Mesmerization Eclipse’ and re-invented it for their ‘Twin Earth’ single, exposing the band to a whole new generation of rock freaks. And what’s good enough for Monster Magnet, is good enough for us.
THE EXPLOITED – Complete Punk Singles Collection
No other genre of music has revelled in it’s own stupidity quite as much as punk rock. Right from the very beginning The Ramones, who started it all, played up on their lobotomised brain-dead idiocy. The Exploited, however, dragged punk rock to all new lows in stupidity, spitting songs of gang violence (‘Fuck The Mods’) and endless cliches over-simplistic slogans and brain drool. But boy did they fucking rock. The Exploited played some of the most essential high-energy thug rock you could ever hope to hear, appealing to the pent up violent idiot in all of us in a blitzkrieg of knuckle-dragging pure noise and hate. This CD has all of their singles on it (the clue is in the title). It ain’t pretty, but this is the place to go if you just wanna reduce your brain cells without the use of drugs.
Col Rothwell is popping his Crossfire cherry to:
SLIPKNOT – Vol.3: The Subliminal Verses
Say the name Slipknot and what comes to mind? Masks, Vomit, Blood curdling growls and all manner of ill shit for starters. But slap on this latest disc and be prepared for a shock. Sure you still get the kick in the face slabs of heaviness such as ‘Three Nil’ and ‘The Blister Exists’ along with the fist pounding Kerrang! friendly anthems such as ‘Duality‘ that we’ve all come to know and love from the well oiled 18 legged machine. However there’s a new side to Slipknot these days. A couple of slow paced tracks that you’d more expect to see on the latest Stone Sour record pop in here, and you know what? They’re actually bloody good. Credit must go to the band for mixing things up a bit when they could easily have cashed in with their trademark sound. All in all everything here ties together to form a fresh, varied and ultimately essential record for any collection.
ILL NINO – One Nation Underground
Ill Nino have reached the point in their career where they need a very strong offering to keep up with the modern metal world. Following an interesting debut and a largely disappointing sophomore effort combined with rumours of performing to backing tracks and warring words with former members, it’s essential they pull it off with their third release. Unfortunately, they don’t by far. One Nation Underground is a weak, half hearted attempt at fusing nu-metal with detuned guitars that were popular around 5 years ago and tribal elements. Opening track “This is War” gives you the impression that it could be worth a go and just possibly a sleeping giant of an album, but alas it’s all spectacularly downhill from there. And it’s blatant at several stages that Cristian Machado just doesn’t have the vocal ability to fit into the style which he’s trying to mimic. The best way I can describe this? Soulfly-ExtraLite. And that’s pushing it.
OPETH – Ghost Reveries
It’s satisfying in this current age where fashion bands and the next fad rule MTV and the music publications – to see a band with genuine and undisputed talent who have quite frankly worked their bollocks off, finally come through to the masses. Opeth are truly a band that you just can’t lump into any genre no matter how hard you try. It’s also possible that ‘Ghost Reveries’ is some of their most accomplished work to date. This disc can only be described as an epic 8 track journey that twists and turns at every opportunity, crushing you at one moment before picking you up and stroking you gently the next. Mikael Akerfeldt has never sounded better, and with striking tracks such as ‘The Grand Conjuration’ and ‘The Baying of the Hounds’ as evidence, it’s hard to think of anything else that should be sat at the top of any music fans collection this year.
STATIC-X – Start A War
Another group who have recently hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons, Static-X are a band who have enjoyed relative success riding on the coat tails of industrial tinged nu-metal. Having replaced the recently incarcerated Tripp Eisen with original guitarist Koichi Fukuda, the band are proclaiming to have gone back to their roots with this their 4th full length release. This is all well and good until you come to realise that this isn’t the direction they should probably be heading in. Nu-metal has had it’s day and the times are a changing as they say. Sure there’s several short (and I do mean short) sharp punchy efforts on here, but there’s nothing remotely substantial or inspiring to speak of. If the band are to stay afloat it’s definitely time to make a few changes and steer clear of the tried and trusted method. One for the diehard fans only I’m afraid.
KORN – See You On The Other Side
KoRn, former nu-metal kings of yesteryear re-emerge with their 7th album having freshly signed to new label Virgin and now parading as a four piece thanks to Brian ‘Head’ Welch’s decision to follow Christianity, it’s hard to mention KoRn these days without cringing and waiting for the inevitable barrage of abuse to come. But when they roll out efforts like this you’ve got to ask yourself if it’s really any wonder. KoRn are blatantly one of those bands that just don’t know when to quit. Thriving on making a fortune out of teen angst well into their thirties, the band don’t even see fit to write all their own lyrics anymore. Whether that’s a good thing in the end or not I really don’t know but on this showing it’s definitely time to quit the day job. I’d name a couple of tracks that stand out but in truth none actually do. So to sum up, if you get your rocks off listening to a rich thirty something, rock star singing in a whiny voice about how shit his life is then no doubt you’ll think this is once again a fantastic album. However the rest of us lucifer loving metal fans may just start seeking out god ourselves after being subjected to this.