Sunday, March 27, 2011

Armada - Premonitions 7'' (2011)

I didn't review a hardcore band/release for quite some time, so I was really looking forward to this. Despite feeling abnormally tired and like I'm in the tenth dimension, I'll try to reflect my feelings for this release as best as I can. This 7'' was sent to me back in February, so hopefully the wait paid off.

"Armada" is a four piece hardcore band from Milwaukee, drawing inspiration from projects such as "Left For Dead", "Extortion" and "Void". They managed to justify their influences in music pretty well, since they packed a load of killer sound within these six minutes that are found on this 7''. I knew that "Armada" is gonna bring something evil and pounding into the speakers and to be honest my first impression was that I will automatically dislike their tunes due to my current pop punk, melodic stuff period which is caused by nice weather and general cheery mood. Nevertheless, they hit you so hard and fast with their music that you are bound to like it, despite external factors. "Palestine" is the opening track featuring some eerie and heavy bass playing along a screechy guitar. This song could definitely be classified as sludge if it weren't for the occasional outburst of sound on the drums, an extremely slow song with several peaks of massive tones. Soon enough "Houses" starts with speed guitar riffs and it all culminates into a complete euphoria driven playing, quite a storming 20 seconds of hardcore, but after the initial aggression it again slows down and kinda drifts away. At this point I thought that I will move this release and review it tomorrow, since I really craved for something fast and I didn't want to leave just my momentary bad impressions. But then out of nowhere "All My Friends Are Dead" hits the speakers with an opening bass line and constant raging madness which last literally through all the songs until the end. They bring out that specific hardcore trait that I like, the choking, spasm like rushing feeling and it just drives you all the way, evil and fast. This is also probably the first time that I actually fell in love with a twenty second song, since "Grotesque" is downright brilliant! Once I went back to the first track and listened to the whole release once again, I began to appreciate the slower introduction more, since it actually makes you think this will be a sluggish album and that definitely makes the aggressive tracks more brutal.
Aside of the great song composition and good playing, recording is clean, so despite the overall mayhem you can enjoy everything. Also, a definite plus in my mind is the occult inspired cover art, which I really think goes well with the sound that they perform and not just the name of the release.
So yeah, I liked "Armada" quite much and I think that the liking is very solid, since they managed to move me despite the general mood I was in, which you have to admit is a powerful trait. In any case, this is a project worth keeping an eye out for. As much as I see on their blog (found here by the way), they had some tour issues and ceased further updates on the site, so I honestly hope that they didn't stop playing in the meantime. Until any further news we get to grab, check out this excellent 7''. Enjoy!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Panthalassa - Demo (2011)

When more than a week passes between posts, then one can suspect something strange going on. Luckily the hellish exam has passed with success, but I was so fatigued by it that I could barely sit down, listen and write about new tunes. I got my time to recover and it is time to get back on track and this is the perfect band for the occasion!

"Panthalassa" is a screamo band coming from Seattle, Washington formed in 2010, writing and recording this little beast of a demo during winter time. This band is technically a three piece with vocals, guitar and drums, but there is also a guest star fourth member on bass, none other than Andrew from "Lizards Have Personalities". When Sean initially wrote to me about their demo he didn't mention whether this kind of band composition is a one time thing or not, but I honestly hope it isn't, since they sound excellent this way. Also on the technical aspect, Simon from "Bears" helped out with mixing and all that jazz, though you can read about all that stuff in the "About us and thank yous" file in the download link.
Moving on to talk about how this all sounds like, it took me more than usual to think up bands which sound similar to "Panthalassa". I'd definitely say that this is a merit, since it is obvious that they don't follow a norm when it comes to writing music. What I did manage to scrap from my brain is a combination of "Lion of the North" meets "Broken Chords Can Sing A Little" minus the raw chaos and plus jazzy guitar...something like that. It is hard to describe since I think the band itself is still experimenting with what they want, due to the fact that in the course of the seven minutes present in the demo you have a lot of variation and experimentation with sound. You get to hear fast, flowing, mathy tunes which a song later change into slow, choked, spasm like rhythms. The cool thing is that despite the sound mutation and the shortness of the release, the demo seems quite consistent in the sense that you can actually get into the music and have an opinion about it. There were numerous projects that offered some test sounds through quite short demos and it took me some time to listen and re-listen to actually say that I like it or not. With "Panthalassa" it seems just straightforward, the release jumps in your face and you like it. The songs are catchy and backed up by great lyrics (also found in the download link), so they just get stuck in your head and you can play them over and over again.
Reading what I wrote thus far, it seems I kinda lost touch with properly writing down my thoughts about music, which usually happens when I don't write for a long time. Either way, if I failed to seize your attention about this release, then I will do it the old fashion way:GO AND DOWNLOAD THIS. I really find the demo enjoyable and hopefully the band will stick together and whip out some more material, since this really shows that they have talent and can make something cool and interesting. Check them out and get in touch via their facebook page found here. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

HOME - Self titled EP (2010)

There was an extreme wish for me to start writing on the blog every two days or so, but I became sabotaged by some kind of slow mood and general sleepiness. I guess that the rapid weather changes really leave their toll on me, as well as the energy being used for studying for an exam I have on Thursday, can't wait for it to be over. But until then, here is something heavy and interesting coming from Austria.

"HOME" is a trio hailing from Innsbruck, Austria formed in the winter of 2009/10, the first time when these three friends got together to create something of their own. When Amadeus wrote to me about their EP he mentioned that they play a mix of sludge/hardcore/stoner/whatsoever and seeing as how much I love the said genres I was thrilled to take a listen. But to be honest, despite the excitement, I actually expected to hear some "classic" tunes and I didn't take a peak at their music until the time came to write about them. Finally after a month the time for this band came knocking on the door and right now I absolutely regret not listening to them right away, since the past month would be much more interesting that way.
Just a few minutes of their tunes were enough to bitchslap me for thinking that this is just an average sludge/something band. Certainly, sludge is at the very core of this band, but there is something very specific which makes "HOME" really stand out from the rest. There is a sort of progressive, at times even psychedelic feel to their music, kinda justifying the stoner part, but it is on a whole new level here. Most of the time, the genres which Amadeus mentioned get to be so heavy and slow that you feel boxed in between strictly accented song sections, like one second we are gonna drop our tone low and the next we are gonna explode and then we will just let distortion do its job. But "HOME" fused that prog/psychedelic spice into their work and it makes a big difference in a way that everything just flows extremely well. You don't sense the above mentioned dams in the songs, rather you get to hear fluid changes happening along the way, yet at the same time you have that sludgy heavy tone being omnipresent.
Reading the text I wrote so far I realize that is quite hard to describe their music without analyzing every sound coming from the speakers. That progressive attribute opened the way for a lot of experimentation with playing, so there is a high amount of various things going on in these four plus minute songs. Sections with crazy guitar riffs, start-stop playing, shifts from rushing and aggressive to gentle melodies, change in vocal performance with singing, growling, screaming and so on... There is really a lot to be heard here and every bit of it is enjoyable. To make matters even better, since we are dealing with a trio having exceptional quality of recording you get to clearly hear absolutely everything. That is also what makes writing about their music a tough task, since I want to say a million things, but have no idea on what to focus first.
Taking that into account, the best thing for you is to just go and take a listen for yourself. Trust me when I say that you will definitely love this project. I am extremely glad that I was contacted about "HOME", this is a worthy addition to the blog and I am excited to keep an eye out for their future work. You can do so as well if you check out their myspace page found here or facebook here.
But before I end this writeup, here is a little special something which Amadeus threw in the e-mail he wrote to me. A live clip of one of their shows which you can watch here! Feast your eyes and ears and hope they decide to do a tour! Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Interview:Bâton Rouge

Very proud to present to you the interview I did with the new, wonderful sound coming from France under the name of "Bâton Rouge"! I didn't get the chance to review their "Fragments D'eux Mêmes" release, so if by any chance you haven't been introduced to this band then this is the perfect opportunity to do so. Members of "12XU", "Daitro" and "Mihai Edrisch"...what to say more?! Enjoy!

1. First of all, thank you so much for taking your time for this interview. Please introduce yourself (yourselves) and the rest of the band.

Gwen: I'm playing bass and I sing as well in "Bâton Rouge"

Julien: hi, I'm julien and I play guitar and sing in "Bâton Rouge"

Samuel: Hi, I'm Samuel and I play guitar. There's also Benoit who plays drums.

2. Some of you guys know each other from previous bands, but how did the idea to form "Bâton Rouge" come along?

Julien: We knew each other more or less from childhood actually. We hung out with each other before playing together and learning how to play an instrument. 2 years ago, Benoit was kinda fed of playing "Daitro" songs but wanted to keep on playing music together because we were still all living in the same town and also because we're the best friends ever. So we kept on playing together under a new name and a new direction for a band.

Gwen: I met these 3 guys in 2001 and I saw their first show when they were playing with "Daitro". I joined them in 2004 and I never left them because they are really cool. "BâtonRouge" is the following of this friendship, with another kind of way to play music.

3. France plays a big role when it comes to both European and worldwide emo/screamo/punk sound. What are your personal impressions about the French underground scene?

Sam: I don't really know what French screamo is... maybe the lyrics in French make something very special, I don't know. About underground scene in France, there's still some nice people in many places that are involved into that, playing bands, makings labels... But I have the sensation that there's less and less good places to makes shows.

Gwen: Everybody says that French screamo is very typical, but even if we were playing with "Daitro", we are not very involved in screamo stuff so we don't really know what is this French specificity. About the French underground scene, we can say that many people are working in the way of DIY in different cities even if we cannot keep our squat open more than 3 month.

4. And how about your local scene in Lyon? Anything particular you love or hate about it?

Gwen: I think Lyon is one of the most active scene in France because there are many people from there involved in underground stuff, because a lot of people from outside are coming and leaving all the time, because this city is well located on the French map, I think that's why there is a perpetual activity. Of course, we love and hate our city for many reason, that's what we were singing with "Daitro" in "Y".

Sam: Since a long time there's a big and interesting activity about alternative music in Lyon. There are always some new bands, new people, that are involved into that. There are different persons who organize events, shows, play in bands,... in a DIY spirit, but in different kind of style. That makes something interesting and rich. At this time most of the shows, events, happened in place called "Grrnd Zero". It's also where we have our practice room. I'm really attached about local scene, in music or in art, and I think it's important to keep it strong. I'm always very curious to see what happened in the city, see new bands from here playing...

5. Some members of your band have played in a plethora of other bands, all being strictly diy. What originally managed to draw you into the movement?

Gwen: When I discovered diy stuff, I was playing in "Simfela", a powerviolence band from a small city close to Lyon and we discovered "Daitro" in the same time, so we were both new in this big city full of underground stuff and we decided to do things together.

Julien: 12 years ago I've been to a small show here in Lyon and the band kicked my ass. Friends from SK records were organizing the show and they were also doing a small DIY label. They showed me it was possible to do things on their own for great bands. Then we started to organize our shows with our good buddies from "Simfela" and "Mihai Edrisch" as well (for our bands, but for touring bands as well) and go to play together in other cities altogether too. We saved and collected all the money we got to put out our first releases because it was obvious nobody will do it for us. Eventually we realized what we were doing was starting a DIY label. It started like that... very naturally, with close friends.

6. Do you consider that your involvement in such music defined you on a personal level?

Gwen: For my part, I don't think so. Life is a mix of many things and I am the product of all that things, so not only defined by a musical involvement even if I learned a lot on myself with playing music with my friends.

Sam: Not really... of course it contributes to build my personality, like everything you do in life. I think the most important thing I learn with that, it's that you can do something that really works by your own and don't wait the others to do it for you.

7. In the same sense, what have been your experiences with diy thus far, good ones as well as bad ones?

Gwen: I think that good experiences came with the bad ones. A tour for example is done with cool evenings and shity ones, and the cool ones are becoming cooler if you compare with the crappy one you had the day before. Spending 8 hours on the Turkish border was a nightmare during this 8 hours, but it became a very good recollection because of this unlikely situation. But a rainy Monday in Switzerland cannot be more than a rainy Monday in Switzerland...

Sam: Good things are to met nice people in many different places. Discover cities and places, travelling... to see how many people and places are connected by the simple idea to do constructive stuff in an alternative way. The things that get me tired are all these persons that consider themselves as very radical and politics, but only speak to same people that always agree with what they say... what a fight!

8. What are your thoughts when it comes to diy and internet? Do you follow/participate in some webzines or blogs?

Julien: Any! I personally use internet to check my emails and look at some cool vintage guitars and records I want to get, that's all... I also check some message boards out (mostly the one in Lyon) but I don't post often. I'm not really an internet person and not very at ease with that modern way of communicating, besides email of course...

Gwen: I don't know how to do an attachment with my computer, so...

Sam: I most use internet for emails and classic stuff. I'm not an "active" person on internet.

9. What inspires you most when it comes to writing and which themes do you like to grasp with your lyrics? Does only one member write the words or are more of you involved?

Julien: No, we're all in the process of writing lyrics. Someone comes with rough sentences and we build this up together on vocal melodies, with everybody giving his point of view and approvement on them. Writing lyrics is a hard task. Especially because we don't want them to be like "Daitro", where Aurelien and I were sharing them...

Gwen: Lyrics are always the last thing we are doing for a song, this is not our favorite time when we are writing music...

10. "Daïtro" has been famous for being both romantic and revolutionary. Do you plan to sculpt "Bâton Rouge" in a similar fashion? And how much experiences from previous work do you actually carry over to new projects?

Gwen: One of the reason of the hiatus of "Daitro" is that we made things to much complicated, especially in trying to make sense for everything, that's why we are trying now to be more in emergency.

Sam: "Bâton Rouge" must be more simple in many ways, it's what we want.

Julien: Not really. We're still the same but we need to say different things in a different way. "Bâton Rouge" is more spontaneous, more simple. More straight forward.

11. Before your album came out you did quite a few shows. Which show under this name has been your most memorable thus far?

Gwen: The two most memorable was the first one because it was the beginning and the last one because we were playing only the record songs for introducing them.

Sam: Yes the first one was nice and quite strange in the same time. It was fun to play together other songs than "Daitro" ones. At this time we don't play so many shows with "Bâton Rouge". So it's hard to say which one is the more intense... in general I liked the last shows we played in Lyon.

12. Care to share your favorite releases of 2010 and some of your overall favorites?

Julien: I loved 'Plain Language' by "Delay". Awesome record. I listened to it all summer long.
The new "Daniel Striped Tiger" is great as well, but it's not out yet... I got the MP3s from Seb/Purepainsugar... I listened to a lot of the "Heratys" LP, a swedish band playing raw and fast punk a la "Totalitar"... really good. "The Good Damn" from Lyon released a fantastic album called "I Can Walk With My Broken Leg". They remind me some "16 Horsepower" / "Black Keys" stuff... Still from Lyon, the first full length from "Reveille" is great too. I listened to a lot of the "Obits" 7"es as well. The new "Old Growth" LP as well, but it's not out yet as well... "Mass Hysteri" last LP is great too. "Thou" "Baton rouge..." LP and that incredible "Nirvana" cover! 2010 was a good year... I might be forgetting some though...

Gwen: For my part, I spend half of the year to listen "anchronous" from "Tubers", so I think I missed a lot of things, but that one was so so so great.

Sam: From 2010... I really like the "Yrsel" album. The 2 "Obits" 7" also, I listened to them a lot ("put it in writing", best song ever!)... I probably forgot a lot of stuff.

13. Time for you to interview me!

Julien: Ok...
Where were you born?
Born in Belgrade, Serbia. Always lived here, basically never moved to live somewhere else.

Do you have any brothers and sisters?
Nope, I'm the only child of my parents.

What did you enjoy doing as a child?
Spending as much time outside as possible, had many friends in the neighborhood, so we all used to play outside and have fun. I liked to spend a lot of time with my cousin, with whom I'm playing in a band today. He and myself used to to all sort of crazy stuff when we were kids haha, fun times.

What's the first rock record you enjoyed? And last one you bought?
Tough question. My initial interest in music was sparked thanks to my already mentioned cousin. He got into music quite young, so I presume it was natural that he radiated that onto me. If I remember the first bands I heard from him were Metallica, GnR and Iron Maiden, which records and which was the very first I can't really recall. As for the last record I bought it was actually a batch of records: "Army of Flying Robots" - "Life Is Cheap" LP, "The Spirit of Versailles" - "In Line For Halos" 7'', "A Fine Boat, That Coffin" - "Second Nail" LP, "Dazd/Order of Vulture" split.

What are your favorite places in Serbia?
Hm, another tough one. I can't really name a specific few places because I am sentimental about a lot of spots. I have a vast number of great memories which are linked to hanging out with good friends on a specific place in the city, or even a whole city section due to long walks I used to take with my girl. I am a dude who finds love in small details, so even the tiniest thing can make me love and remember a certain place.

Also there are some things I want to ask you, but maybe it's too rude, I don't know... you'll tell me... as a Serbian, you obviously didn't have the same peaceful youth as we had in France because of that horrible conflict which happened in ex-Yugoslavia in the 90s. I'm really sensitive to the fact that we're not that far from each other, maybe 1500km or so but we didn't have to experience the same things during our youth. Is it still a taboo / painful topic to talk with your friends and family over here? Or still taboo to speak about it in the news etc, even though the government recognized Srebrenica? Do you feel any unconscious guilt, pain or whatever as a Serbian, like for example German people felt years after world war II?

Despite living in such a hostile environment, I never really felt that since I was a kid when those conflicts were active. I guess that my parents did an excellent job with isolating me from all of that. I was aware that stuff is bad, but I was too small to actually have an opinion about anything and I even have extremely hazy memories from that period. I do however remember the NATO bombings, since it was much later. But generally, despite my friends remember all that, we never actually talk about stuff like that. It was horrible, but it is also behind us, no point in talking about it nor reflecting upon it. Same thing with Srebrenica and all that. People are either indifferent or pissed off and fanatical about our past, luckily for me I am in the circle of people who don't give a crap about stuff like that. I can't blame nor am I interested in blaming my (or whose ever) stupid ancestors for fighting each other or other nations. I mean, you also can't blame every German person for the things Hitler did so long ago right? Only thing we can do is make sure nothing like that ever happens again.

I'm aware these are not the happiest questions ever... don't reply to them if it brings back too bad memories... Maybe these bunch of other questions will be easier though... here we go :
Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath? Black Sabbath
Pavement or Smashing Pumpkins? Smashing Pumpkins
Pearl Jam or Nirvana? Nirvana
Fender or Gibson? To be honest I don't make much difference here, but lets say Fender.
Stooges or MC5? Stooges
Queen or David Bowie? David Bowie
Ebullition or No Idea? Ebullition, but it is a tight decision.
Daitro or Mihai Edrisch? Both, shoulder to shoulder, they fall together into my "best band ever" category.
Television or Talking Heads? Talking Heads, since I don't know about Television haha, shame on me.
12" or 7"? For some reason I prefer 7'' more, I really dig smaller records. Don't know why, maybe because my first record was a seven inch.
Blur or Oasis? Oasis
Black Flag or Minor Threat? Minor Threat

14. What do you enjoy doing outside of band work, any hobbies or past-times?

Julien: Doing artwork... shoplifting books in big libraries... hanging out with my girl... listening to music and reading books. I don't really have other hobbies besides music. Old vintage guitars maybe and documenting myself about music in general and punk and hardcore...

Gwen: Travelling, drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes, watching football games, talking hours, watching mafia movies, screwing around.

Sam: Watching football and talk about it with Gwen! Art stuff and exhibitions, reading books, drinking beer on a bench with friends when it becomes hot outside.

15. Do you have some plans for the future as a band? More releases, splits, tours?

Julien: Recording our new songs and do a 7" that we were to release first and playing shows.

16. I usually don't like asking matters of previous projects, but I guess that a lot of readers would go nuts if I don't do that now. Do you have some plans you wish to accomplish with "12xu" in the future? And are there any signs of "Daïtro" coming back to life?

Julien: With "12XU" we just finished the 10th new song supposed to be on our first LP that we'll record in june 2011. We're spending a lot of time in the practice room to arrange the details on all these new songs... We have a 7" split with "Abject Object" which may be out sooner or later, we're doing our own version of Green Day's "Coming Clean"! I don't think "Daitro" will be back to life to write new songs or doing new tours. Writing new stuff with "Bâton Rouge" is more exciting for us now... We still might play shows again if it makes sense... if good friends of ours come and tour here and ask us to play for example... or in a cool festival where the 5 of us would be into it, that kind of stuff...

17. Thank you very much once again for this interview and for the interest in "Natures With No Plagues". Do you have some final message for the readers?

Gwen: Congratulation for the Davis Cup you won against us, grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Heart On My Sleeve - Blood Is Not Thicker Than Wine (2010)

To be completely honest I didn't think that I would be writing here today, since I have some other projects that I am currently involved with. But when I saw that this band was next in line to be posted I just had to find time and squeeze in this writeup. What can I say, Swedish screamo is my weak spot.

Most of you probably know about this release by now, since they recorded this demo a month ago and I already came across it on numerous blogs. Despite already having coverage, "Heart On My Sleeve" is definitely worth talking about. As I already mentioned, this newly formed quintet hails from Sweden, more specifically Stockholm. This country is absolutely well known for a score of interesting projects, standing shoulder to shoulder with France and Germany when it comes to screamo and this band managed nothing less than to strengthen that position. But before I go any further with talking about things on a global scale, lets just keep our focus on this release.
I remember when Kalle from "Heart On My Sleeve" wrote to me, he also mentioned that his band contains members of "Followed by 37 Seconds Of Happiness" and "The Hope And The Failure". This little information was completely enough for me to know that this is going to be beyond amazing and I was completely right. While I'm writing this I am listening to their music for the first time and the simple fact that I needed no special preparation or trail period listening speaks for itself. The two ex-bands are very much loved by yours truly, each with its own special something. Not only can the legacy of these projects be sensed within this new band, but they managed to fly above their previous achievements, thoroughly twist them and make a sound more stunning by a tenfold.
There are four songs on "Blood Is Not Thicker Than Water" with eleven minutes of pure, fast screamo. It is an extremely speedy release and you literally have no time to stop and think about it. Several slower sections are present, but the very second you get used to it another outburst of sound picks you up and makes you running again. It is a similar feeling to the one when listening to the band "Marat". You have a handful of songs which completely preoccupy your mind with just an insane number of tones coming out of your speakers and while you are trying to register everything going on around you the release is over. And what else to do then just play the whole thing again.
By now you very well see that I won't be talking about the actual music, instead focusing more on the feelings which it invokes. This is simply because I was extremely infatuated with what I heard and this band really falls into the basket with those that you just need to experience for yourself, rather than me just randomly describing what it all sounds like. Especially if you know their previous bands and in case you don't I strongly suggest you check them out first. I have "The Hope And The Failure" here, but I never actually uploaded "Followed by 37 Seconds Of Happiness" anywhere because I apparently suck.
In the end, this is a definite recommendation. I am really stunned by the quality of both the music and the recording that it really leaves me wanting for more. Hopefully "Heart On My Sleeve" will have a bright future ahead of them, since this alone is forth the notion that they can absolutely make something which I consider beautiful. If you want to check them out on bandcamp you can do so on their page here or get in touch via myspace here.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Fuck, Wolves! & Sarg - European Summer Tour 2011

A much loved screamo band by yours truly, "Fuck, Wolves!" finally announced preliminary plans for a tour over Europe this July. They will be accompanied by the German band "Sarg".

Dates are as following:
08.07. - Hamburg (tbc)
09.07. - Berlin (tbc)
10.07. - Germany / Czech Republic (help)
11.07. - Germany / Czech Republic / Austria / Switzerland (help)
12.07. - Germany / Austria / Switzerland / Italy / the Balkans (help)
13.07. - Austria / Switzerland / Italy / the Balkans (help)
14.07. - Austria / Switzerland / Italy / the Balkans (help)
15.07. - Germany / Austria / Switzerland (help)
16.07. - Wiesbaden/Darmstadt area (tbc)

Tour seems well thought to cover much ground, so if you are interested in helping them set a show or know someone who would, get in touch with Wolves on their myspace page here or facebook here. Also definitely check those pages out, since they uploaded a new song which will be featured on their new 7''.

If by some insane chance you didn't get to hear about "Fuck, Wolves!", go back a bit and check my writeup of their split with "Chaos is..." here or the interview I did with Chris here.
On the other hand, "Sarg" is quite a new name for me. Translated from German the name means "coffin" and they consist of members from several other bands like "Radare", "Actress" and "Rollergirls", which you can check out on the following links: