This is the first proper release by this band from Medellín, Colombia, with a name that can be translated to The World’s Longest Fire. They started as a band in 2014, with the goal of mixing different genres of punk music, and released a one song demo in 2015, which showed the melodic approach and modern sound they had. What does this 5 song EP tell us about the band and how they crafted their influences? Well, let’s check it out.
The first track starts with a light and soft synth that keeps going on when the guitars kick in with the bass and drums. Screamed vocals are in place, when a melodic guitar riff stars playing and then the chorus breaks in. What we have here is a sound reminiscent of melodic hardcore bands like Landscapes and Defeater, sometimes with a bit of an American hardcore edge, kinda like occasional Trapped Under Ice, but with some melodic metalcore elements, like the Chilean band Fragments. Though guy hardcore, you know.
The synths and backing tracks are a nice addition overall, they keep the EP fresh and not being too dull. But I think we get too much of the same ideas in terms of sounds and riffs. They do a nice recollection of the general ideas of the genres they try to emulate, but I don’t think we get much further from there. Is that good or bad? Well, that’s for you to decide. There’s a big chance that you’ll like this record if you’re into the aforementioned genres and influences.
Band: Henry Blacker Album: The Making of Junior Bonner Label: Riot Season Release date: 13 April 2018 Sounds like: melodic dirty sludge riffageddon.
Ever listened to a record that makes you feel like you need a thorough wash afterwards? The kind of album that makes you feel unclean even looking at it? Sitting in the corner, radiating an oozing, murky vileness that starts to dissolve and eat away at everything surrounding it? First thing that springs to mind is the ever happy downright fucking depressing stream of noxious bile of Harvey Milk, who rule hard, but also the grim and subtle decay of Henry Blacker, Riot Season’s hidden gem of a band.
Comprised of members of the bonkers Hey Colossus, Henry Blacker are the band you were warned about but dismissed due to naivety. Having witnessed them live, their unique and ferocious sludge-metal onslaught was downright excellent, uncomfortably raw and chaffing. Whilst the brilliantly named Hungry Dogs Will Eat Dirty Puddings and the sinister Summer Tombs are no doubt, excellent records in their arsenal, The Making Of Junior Bonner, is where they really step it into overdrive. First thing to note is the production – it’s downright gnarled, like a misshaped lump of old wood. If this record was anything else, it would be a mighty wizard staff, etched with deep arcane runes, glowing with power. Jon Hamilton’s mastering means you hear every filthy, dirt-flecked note emit from Tim Farthing’s guitar, whilst his brother Roo, hammers out a direct, bludgeoning attack and bassist Joe Thompson brings that fuzzing, ungodly hum to the lower end of the spectrum.
The Making Of Junior Bonner is an unpleasant, melancholic and ghoulish collection of sludge-rock excellence…
The opening attack on The Making Of Junior Bonner bursts into frame in the form of Cag Mag, a bruising and crunching roar of scathing power. The words inside are a foul tale of mutation and flesh sliding off the bone, delivered in a suitably grim and determined manner. The incendiary Two Shapes follows fast and is the juxtaposition of slovenly heaviness with some of the most melodic hard rock you’ll hear all year. It’s deceptively brilliant, borderline between that scuzzing, raw scrape but has the kind of emotionally wrought chorus most Deep Elm bands would kill for. Lyrically, it touches upon the Greek myth of the Minotaur, referencing the shift and morph between bull and man, delivered expertly via Farthing’s hissing drawl. Roman Nails has one of the best opening lines since a christian fitness album in the form of “Like finding love in jail, not easy…like crawling out of hell, not easy…” chilling and coated in toxic black humour – you can almost hear Farthing’s grim grin splitting through the airwaves. His shouts of “pounding…you blind” obviously have some mixed connotations and there’s a certain crucifixion element layered beneath the surface. The guitars are a teasing, spitting gargle of noise, whilst the thundering bass keeps everything just about on the rails.
Just the name, Dredger’s Thirst makes me want to take a shower. Hell, it brings on the constant feeling of a parched throat and general queasiness. The fact it lurches and bucks like a horse trying to navigate a tiny boat in a huge fucking storm doesn’t help matters along with screams of drinking foul and dirty water play right into Henry Blacker’s stained hands. That stony-faced determination resonates loudly on the raging Truckfighters-esque stomp of the depressing Shingles To The Floor, as talk of a noose around the neck and the words “I’m going to swing, oh from the attic beam…” all delivered in this deadpan and resolute tone backed by the scuzzing, reverberating hate and sorrow.
The fascinating and morbid tale that makes up Cellmate conjures up all sorts of thoughts and a sizable amount of fear. From the opening riff, which is coated in bad feelings, the sinister sound of prison bars being tapped and the line “last night I murdered my cellmate, strung him up with his sheet” there’s no light here, only ever-enclosing darkness. It’s also where Henry Blacker deliver their harshest vocals – Farthing dredges the polluted well, gargling some suitably throaty diatribes on this unsettling and harrowing tale of death and decay. These chewing and guttural rasps are brought to the front on the chorus of the scathing The New Evil, backed by some wonderful, yet muted keys and yet more of that driving, sludge-punk creak. It almost feels cocky, in that a slight Every Time I Die/southern rock element pushes at the sound, threatening to break through the silt and muddy fury.
Hidden beneath the fuzz of Keep It Out Of Your Heart exists the remnants of a pop song that’s been horribly corrupted by time and decay. Whilst the melody feels moderately upbeat, lyrically it swims in the realms of despondence and a dripping mire of frothing distaste. Final track, the hacking spittle of Little Lanes, rolls into view, a false-jaunty number that by all appearances could be confused as being upbeat, but it’s another nod to the Minotaur-myth, with talks of a labyrinth, snaking chambers and the sickening screams of cutting through to the other side.
The Making Of Junior Bonner is an unpleasant, melancholic and ghoulish collection of sludge-rock excellence – a stunning piece of work and one to keep an eye on during the end of year lists, because this should be rearing it’s ugly and nightmarish head around all corners.
Side note, I also love the artwork in the form of a drawing of Steve McQueen and Sam Peckinpah on the set of the film, Junior Bonner. Cracking stuff!
You can purchase Henry Blacker’s The Making Of Junior Bonner via Riot Season on CD-R, tape, vinyl or download. It’s dirty good.
Band: Turnstile Album: Time & Space Label: Roadrunner Records Release date: March 2018 Sounds like: melodic/dance party hardcore bro anthems of ’18.
Making a name for yourself in modern hardcore is a difficult prospect, so that’s probably why Maryland’s Turnstile sound like an oldball mix of 311/Madball/Suicide Machines and bizarrely, Status Quo (more on that later) in order to carve their name into this overflowing musical landscape. Time & Space is their second album, hot on the heels of the arm-flailing, windmill-a-thon of Nonstop Feeling from 2015 and makes significant strides forward in places to be something slightly different from the norm.
There’s a distinct rap-rock feel to opening track Real Thing – the riffs and heavily accentuated bass are straight out of the Rage Against The Machine rule book of crunchy, mouth-watering guitar tones. Coupled with the melancholic backing vocal haunts alongside vocalist Brendan Yates and his unique, snapping howls this is a raucous and stubborn statement of intent.
The mic-swinging savagery of Big Smile can barely contain itself. The breathless ruin drummer Daniel Fang puts his kit through is teeth-rattling in the ferocity stakes. About 33 seconds in Turnstile appear to transform into Status Quo. Where that riff comes from, I’ll never know, but you can actually hear the guitar laughing with pure, unashamed pride – it’s a pure surf-rock, party slammer of sun-drenched fun and is aching to be another minute longer to make everything even more ridiculous. The posturing rap-hardcore stomp of Generator, is an absolute barnstomer, making the simple statement of how Yates is going it alone and moves through several stages, from the sudden shift to a more atmospheric, almost dub/shoegaze interlude that then throws you back into some chugging, melodic post-hardcore, complete with handclaps, a guitar solo and some morose and wistful vocals from Yates, who shows a lot more depth than his usual snarling bark.
On Time & Space, there’s plenty of gusto, passion, vigour that elevate this above a lot of other hardcore punk. Turnstile have crafted an album that bubbles with passion, raw feeling and life.
You know what we need more of, one note piano choruses in things! The ripping punk rock splatter of High Pressure delivers this in such a bizarre and wonderful way, you’ll be stabbing that imagery key with all your energy. The lurching roar of the song’s macho and large ham coda adds even more beef and volatile substance to Turnstile’s meaty hardcore swagger.
Moon gives the opportunity for bassist Franz Lyons to step behind the mic and show off his Michael Graves-sounding vocal chords, giving this track a mournful and sombre feel. It’s in stark contrast to the snapping bark of lead vocalist Brendan Yates and it works with Turnstile’s high-fives and stage-dives sound perfectly. The trouble with Moon is, immediately after hearing it, you want Lyons singing something else (he was also lead on Blue By You from their debut) his voice adds a different dynamic (not to say Yates isn’t doing a great job) but more variation in the vocal stakes is something Turnstile have overlooked on Time & Space and this track is one of their best works committed to tape.
Never drive your car to Come Back For More – there’s a chance you’ll be banned for life, such is the speed on this – see also the aggressive gait of the bro-core flamboyance of the noisy, Helmet-esque Can’t Get Away filled with some extra handclaps and squealing metallic guitar licks to confuse and surprise you at every turn. That’s what Time & Space does though – the hardcore-by-numbers feels so at home, but soon begins to flake, chipped apart by these erratic snippets that cut and chop away; similar to how The Chariot made their final album, One Wing so vital and interesting. I mean, Diplo – yes, that Diplo adds his producing skills to one track on this, the scrawling slam-pit rock bastard that is Right To Be; and why not because that’s not weird? The overly-synthesized vocals on the anthemic chorus, give it an unstable electro-rock feel, but the gang vocal chants of “THEY WANT TO TAKE! MY RIGHT TO BE!” are pure hardcore unity. It’s jarring, eccentric and…well, it works, I guess?
On Time & Space, there’s plenty of gusto, passion, vigour and little touches that elevate this above a lot of other hardcore punk, (notably, the superb production from Will Yip) meaning that Turnstile have crafted an album that boils and bubbles with passion, raw feeling and the adrenaline-pounding thump of life. For fans of modern hardcore, such as Touche Amore, Terrible Love,Show Me The Body and Trapped Under Ice – Turnstile are definitely pushing boundaries it feels, but perhaps need to lean a bit harder in certain places to completely break through to the other side. Whatever the case, Time & Space is bloody brilliant fun and one of my highlights of 2018.
Top tracks: Big Smile, Moon, High Pressure, Right To Be
Band: American Nightmare Album: S/T Label: Rise Records Release date: 16 February Sounds like: Love American. Hearts. Death.
“Hell is hot but I’m keeping cool” intones vocalist Wes Eisold, his nonchalant swagger is apparent on the savage The World Is Blue, the first explosive track from American Nightmare’s new album, their first in 15 years. This is a massive deal in hardcore circles, as the Boston crew have been through the ringer with name changes, legal disputes, break ups and a revolving door of band members. Thankfully, 2018 means a rebirth if you like, with frontman and creator, Eisold, guitarist Brian Masek, bassist Josh Holden and drummer Alex Garcia-Rivera, who all played on 2003’s We’re Down ‘Til We’re Underground.
Throughout Wes Eisold’s work, the theme of love burns a huge scorching hole in the landscape and never lets up for one moment. His lyrics have always dwelled in the realms of loss, despair, fear and melancholy – however, there’s one emotion that never backs down – the aforementioned love. It bleeds heavily, seeping into all the nooks and cracks within American Nightmare, during its brief running time and it’s enough to make a statement about their world and their resurrection.
American Nightmare contains some of Eisold’s best singing to date – his voice sounds huge, powerful and edged with emotional uncertainty and cutting sarcasm…
I do love how immediate and raging the opening track, The World Is Blue is – full force, no bullshit, jaw ripped from your face and flung into the ocean. Eisold’s scream of “Salvation! Salvation!” like some fanatical preacher (hey Megachurch, get sampling) only adds to the boisterous, enlightening zeal, whilst the gurgling-bass led section of “I see the sun shining down on me” is a brilliant and exhausting final 15 seconds of madness, ending with the crushing lament that “we are nowhere.”
It’s like a chase and you’ve got to keep running if you want to stay ahead of the game and second track, Flowers Under Siege, seems to end before it even begins – half the track is a made up of feedback, whilst the mid-20 seconds are a short, sharp, electrifying blast of stripped-back punk rock delivered with spitting, venomous gusto and acerbic, chaotic lust.
Rage builds and builds on the hate-filled American Death; the opening line begins with the spitting “fuck everyone I’ve ever known/spineless bastard slithers home” and only continues to get more wrought and furious. The gang-vocal chants of “days upon” and the end line, in the form of the caustic and oddly humorous “I hope you live forever/cause your life’s worse than death” is a sardonic and withering “fuck you”. A venting, ranting attack to the senses, drenched in raw, bleeding emotion. There’s more to follow with scream of “Don’t forget that the world’s against us/there’s no place I would rather be” on the cutting salvo of War, a track edged with subtle conflict and cries of togetherness and abject dissolution. Props to the rhythm section of Garcia-Rivera and Holden, who thump out an impressive and sturdy hardcore backbone to this pulverising chunk of bludgeoning and scathing torment.
The criminally short running time of some of these tracks makes the whole experience one big tease in places. See the breakneck first minute of Lower Than Life – led by Garcia-Rivera’s euphoric percussion, it clatters through with a thrash-punk attack, before switching up to a swaggering, mic-swinging blast of anthemic gang-vocal glory. The repeated roars of “Deeper than hell/lower than life” cement this as a sure live favourite but tantalisingly finish far too soon.
Interestingly, you can see where a number of Eisold’s past and current projects have had an influence too – from the short sharp burst of 36 second scraping hardcore bile of Dream, (hello Some Girls) completed by a ridiculously short guitar solo to the dramatic goth-rock Colder Than Death – with the overlapping backing vocals, drenched in Eisold’s melancholy gloom, that grinding bass opening rumble and the spaced out, post-hardcore guitar wails, giving it a harder-edged Cold Cave feel.
Another thing to note, the production on American Nightmare is beautiful – credit to drummer Alex Garcia-Rivera for his work on this and the mastering was by Bob Weston? DUDES. Nice one. Also, easily some of Eisold’s best singing to date – his voice sounds huge, powerful and edged with emotional uncertainty and cutting sarcasm.
American Nightmare have created a document that is 9 tales of brutally honest, impassioned, chaotic, diverse and gut-wrenching rock, sealed with a heart to the world of hardcore. Open it and absorb its twisted poetry and noise.
“Who cares when forever ends.”
Top tracks:Lower Than Life, Flowers Under Siege, War, The World Is Blue
21st Century PUNX Deconstructors, Trouble Making Agitators, DIY noise insurgents & Manufacturers of Dissident Political Wear.
PUNX.UK was formed by a Manchester anarcho punk collective in 2013 as a webzine sharing info on local gigs and bands.
Originally focusing on creating a DIY gig guide for our city we then expanded to cover the whole of the UK scene in 2014.
Since then we've faithfully tried to promote all the events, blogs, websites and sounds of resistance throughout the country and beyond.
In 2016 we partnered with Sabcat Workers Cooperative to produce dissident political wear providing financial support to the activist causes, benefits, unions, bands, and community groups that we work with.