You can say what you like about Japanese "kawaii-core" group LADYBABY, but there's no denying that the two girls fronting the band, Rie Kaneko and Rei Kuromiya, can sing. As it turns out, Kuromiya has long had her own band with her sister and some friends, called BRATS and after breaking out with two singles becoming theme tunes for an anime and a movie, they've released the international edition of their first EP, アイニコイヨ / 脳内消去ゲーム (Ainikoiyo / Nounai Shoukyo Game).
Wednesday, 2 August 2017
There's a lot of rap metal coming out of France of late, with newbies such as Smash Hit Combo taking their cue from classic groups such as Pleymo, Lofofora and Mass Hysteria. One of the other newer bands to come out of the scene is Marseille quartet Digital Nova, and their NFFP Records debut Orphelins, released late last year, shows a bright future awaits them.
Monday, 24 July 2017
I hardly ever use it because I don't know enough local bands to do so, but I do actually have a record label (see that Bandcamp link in the sidebar?). And today, I released the new album by synthwave/ambient project Ghost Hall, the solo project of Rescue Dogs guitarist Nathan Fitzpatrick. It's his 3rd release and second full length out through Serene Chaos Records, and it's a great little concept album about the legendary Kowloon Walled City.
Saturday, 8 July 2017
Despite having previously played in a pop punk band, I’ve never really had all that much time or regard for the genre. Occasionally I’d find a band that I’d enjoy from the scene, particularly Sum 41’s more metal influenced take on it, but apart from that it’s never really piqued my interest. Now, Watford quartet Defeat Statistics have come out with their new EP Stressed and Depressed, presenting just over 10 minutes of modern pop punk with a heavy emo influence on the side. I do have a soft spot for emo, so I figured I’d give this band a shot.
Sunday, 2 July 2017
Everyone loves a good side project every now and then. Especially Rabbit Junk mastermind JP Anderson. Over the years he’s had plenty down the years, from the crushing digital hardcore of The Named, through Wolves Under Sail’s folk metal and via the steampunk prog metal of Fighting Ice With Iron, he’s never been afraid to use a new project to try something new. This year is no different, with the unveiling of self styled “killwave” duo Ovter God alongside singer Rhiannon Harrigan. Using a combination of synthwave, industrial and gothic influences, their debut EP Kvlt Life sees Anderson step into unknown territory and a surprisingly accessible sound.
I think we can now officially call 2017 the year of the rap metal revival. After several strong releases already this year (and Prophets of Rage just around the corner), Sen Dog of Cypress Hill has teamed up with members of Biohazard, downset., Fear Factory and Worst to unleash Powerflo’s self-titled debut album into the world. And boy is it a stormer.
Thursday, 15 June 2017
I can’t open this review without first making it perfectly clear: Rabbit Junk are, by far, one of my all time favourite bands. Rising from the ashes of digital hardcore greats The Shizit, JP Anderson has constantly used the hardclash moniker Rabbit Junk as a vessel to experiment and evolve his approach to music over the past 13 years now, from the undefinable Re:Frame to the ambitious This Life Is Where You Get F__ked and Project Nonagon, it can be said that no two songs by the husband-and-wife duo are (or can ever be) the same. While JP takes time out to work on their 5th album and explore other projects, he and Glitch Mode Recordings have now unleashed Like the Flesh Does the Knife, an EP of remixes by JP and members of the Glitch Mode collective.
Those who are aware of my work at Rocksins will know that back in 2015, I was delighted to stumble upon the terrific debut EP from Argentine melodeath group Witchour (you can read the review here). Two years later, the quintet are back with their latest EP, a two-track double A-side Night Hag & El Pacto. A small serving from them, but displaying yet more evolution from a group that seems set to continue to challenge the boundaries of their genre.
Wednesday, 14 June 2017
As previously stated, there is something of a rap metal renaissance occurring this year. In the UK we have Armageddon Stereo and Hacktivist, in the US several bands have taken on the genre as their own, while France is injecting some nerdcore into the equation through Smash Hit Combo. One place you wouldn’t expect rap metal to emerge, though, is Germany of all places. Nonetheless, We Like Cake have taken it upon themselves to bring rap metal to the land best known for its Teutonic Thrash and industrial madness. Coming in at only 3 tracks, Spiel des Lebens (translation: Game of Life) offers but a small slice of what We Like Cake are offering.
2017 has seen something of a rap metal revival. With Body Count releasing one of the albums of the year, Rage Against the Machine combining with members of Cypress Hill and Public Enemy to create Prophets of Rage, and the new supergroup Powerflo (feat. members of Cypress Hill, Fear Factory, Biohazard and Downset) threatening to bring the genre kicking and screaming into the 21st century the door is open for young groups such as Hacktivist and Manchester’s own Armageddon Stereo to burst through and make a name for themselves. After a well received first effort in 2015’s Wounds, they’re setting up to reach the next level with Rise Again.
Thursday, 18 May 2017
Japan is doing a sterling job of breaking down the gender divide that dominates the global metal scene at the moment. The general perception is that women don’t seem to have much of a place in metal, and that female singers are a niche or a novelty. However, Japan is challenging that perception with what is locally known as the “Girls Metal Band Boom”, which has seen dozens of all-girl metal bands break through into the Japanese metal scene. One of the latest bands to emerge from this, BRIDEAR, combine the power metal influenced style of most bands in the scene and give it that little bit of metalcore edge to set themselves apart from the others. Now with new EP Rise, released in March, BRIDEAR are looking to further develop their own distinct style.
Thursday, 4 May 2017
Times are troubling in the world of politics. From Brexit and Theresa May in the UK, to Donald Trump in the US, Erdogan in Turkey, Putin in Russia, and a wave of far-right populism sweeping Europe, the media are under constant scrutiny for bias and the new idea of “fake news” while politicians present “alternative facts”. This chaos has become the perfect fuel for a wave of socially conscious, angry music for those who are fed up with apathy permitting atrocity. Lee Christian is one of the musicians riding on this wave with his new album, Fake News.
Tuesday, 2 May 2017
Kent is hardly the first place that springs to mind when you think of reggae. However, Ferocious Lopez are trying to put Kent on the reggae map with their new EP, Breed the Sharks. Their tongue-in-cheek approach and funk-rock tendencies give us a neat take on UK reggae, something which has failed to live up to its promise after the genre boomed several decades ago.
Friday, 28 April 2017
France is a place with a growing metal scene. With the international breakouts of groups such as Gojira and Alcest, along with the long running success of Hellfest and now Download Festival Paris, the future is looking bright for French metal. One of the upcoming acts in the scene is Chabtan. Currently writing and recording their second album, I spoke to them last week about how things have progressed for them since the release of 2015's The Kiss of Coatlicue.
Wednesday, 19 April 2017
Crazy Town are absolutely hated in the metal community, and in many ways you can see why. The two frontmen, Seth “Shifty” Binzer and Brett “Epic” Mazur, were the epitome of turn-of-the-century frat-rock posturing and their first album, The Gift of Game, displayed everything wrong with the rap-rock/nu metal boom of the late 90s. However, this led to many preconceptions towards their follow-up effort, 2002’s Darkhorse, which contrary to public perception, showed a considerable amount of musical growth and a huge change in direction for Crazy Town that deserves much more credit than they’re given.
Wednesday, 12 April 2017
Times are interesting in Taiwan. Amidst a myriad of social and political changes in recent years that have really put the partially-recognised nation on the map, they have also started to develop quite the metal scene, in the wake of Chthonic's huge successes both domestically and internationally. As part of this New Wave of Taiwanese Heavy Metal, Greedy Black Hole are still perhaps some distance from being on that sort of level. But their new single, entitled FEA (meaning "Fuck 'Em All"), is a blistering attack on homophobia which spreads an important message during an important time for LGBT+ rights in Taiwan and across the world. Recently I spoke to lead vocalist Yvonne Yang about the new song, how things are in Taiwan right now and what their future plans are.
Friday, 7 April 2017
30 years is a long time, especially if you’re Ice T. For nearly 3 decades now, he has been singing about social injustices such as racism and police brutality and you can forgive him for getting a bit fed up with the fact that nothing has changed. After his metal band Body Count released the rather tongue-in-cheek Manslaughter in 2014, certain events in the US caused Ice to rediscover the pure unadulterated outrage that crafted this year’s Bloodlust, released rather poignantly on the 25th anniversary of Body Count’s infamous self-titled debut. And this album shows that, even as he enters his 60s, Ice T is still leading the frontlines of socially conscious rap and metal, with Bloodlust standing as one of the most lyrically vital albums of 2017 so far.
Monday, 3 April 2017
I Am Derek: Don’t let the name fool you. Nobody in this band is actually called Derek. The two-piece from Bideford is instead fronted by a guy called Neil, and released their latest EP, Zipped, in January – a very grunge tinted approach to indie rock that doesn’t particularly reinvent the wheel but offers an inoffensive 10 minute jam with catchy choruses and a very dirty production.
Thursday, 30 March 2017
When you think of Shropshire, you think of very rural areas and being near Wales. It’s not traditionally a breeding ground for rock and metal acts to come out of, but Cavalier Kings are a young quartet looking to try and break out of a scene which is generally overlooked in the wider UK alternative movement. In October, they released their first EP, entitled Faint Signals.
Don’t let the name fool you, Limbs aren’t out to tear you apart. Their off-kilter brand of experimental rock claims influence from other oddballs such as Tom Waits and The Divine Comedy, and the latest example of this quirkiness is in their new EP Mankind.
A few years ago, Chris Turpin was at death’s door. Having suffered a heart attack, he looked inside and decided he wasn’t ready yet, but he took influence from what he saw and decided to use his new lease of life to start a new metal project. Roping in several friends from his hometown in Edinburgh, It took less than a year for Drowned Ten to release their first album, Stand.
Although originally born as a side project for D. Darling’s full time work in Suicidal Romance, Estonian industrial outfit Freakangel has taken on a life of its own recently. Originally following a similar form of EBM to Suicidal Romance’s trademark sound, over time Freakangel have shifted focus more and more onto the guitars and metamorphosed into a veritable industrial metal machine. Their latest effort, How the Ghost Became, is the latest step in their evolution.
Stuart Woolfenden – a name you might not be familiar with right now, but definitely a rising star in mainstream rock circles, making a name for himself with a combination indie rock and good old fashioned pub rock. Throw in an upbeat poppy flavour, and he’s already earned himself a spot supporting Ed Sheeran later this Spring, along with a number of festival appearances over the summer. Not only that, but he has now been noticed by the BBC after the release of EP Are You Vulnerable Or Just Insane? threw him onto the radar for BBC Introducing last year.
Despite all the controversies within the country in terms of politics, Russia has a booming metal scene. One of the latest to seek to break out internationally is NeverWhere, named after the acclaimed Neil Gaiman book. Attempting to mix styles from pop punk to post-hardcore and adding plenty of alternative metal influence, their new 2 track EP Нигде и никогда (Nigde i nikogda, lit. “Nowhere and Never”) was released in February. As it’s only two tracks, this will be a short review, but something worth writing.
My hometown has has a small alternative scene for a while but nothing much has really broken out of it. Last year, Orpington’s metallic hardcore mob Cove unleashed their first mini-album We Were Once Lost. Since then, they’ve been growing in stature and continue to make a name for themselves in the UK hardcore scene.
*This was originally posted to Tumblr on 24 March 2017.
*This was originally posted to Tumblr on 23 March 2017.
Flat-Liner is a five-piece Australian industrial rock band that’s been releasing a number of singles on Bandcamp for the past year or so. Now they’ve released their first EP, Burlesque Show, to the world.
*This was originally posted to Tumblr on 26 Jan 2017
Only going to cover three of them for now but will look at doing another one of these later down the line. All 3 are pretty different from each other but all have something noteworthy about them and I’ll be writing a short paragraph about each in order to give a general feel for them. The rest is up to you guys.
*This was originally posted to Tumblr on Jan 23 2017
SO it’s that time of year again. Eurovision is rearing its ugly head and once again the United Kingdom has decided not to bother this year. Only some people didn’t get the memo.
How on earth did the committee think that 6 piano ballads sung by 6 X Factor rejects would possibly stand a chance in Europe? If this is the state of popular music in the country now then I think we may as well all throw in the towel now. British music is far better than this, rather than shitting out 6 shades of beige every year why not acknowledge we have no change and go in all guns blazing? Something different and extravagant. After all, that’s what Eurovision is all about isn’t it? Everything done over the top in a grand spectacle.
In all I think that the current crop of candidates to represent the UK in Eurovision just about sums up the general British attitude to Europe. We have no desire to put any effort into what we give them, but we’re all too ready to complain and cry conspiracy when things don’t go our way. It’s a shame really, because it really portrays British music in a negative light.
If you can stay awake long enough to, listen to the British shortlist here.
*This review was originally posted on Tumblr on 23 Jan 2017
Plague Called Humanity are a cyberpunk/digital hardcore band out of the Czech Republic. Their first EP Disconnection is a decent effort at combining raw hardcore aggression with catchy electronic beats and is something of a diamond in the rough.
*This review was originally posted on Tumblr on 13 Jan 2017
With BAND-MAID set to release their debut full-length Just Bring It worldwide next month (out now in Japan), I’ve decided to review their 4-track maxi single for "YOLO". The J-rock quintet have made waves in Europe throughout 2016 with their first shows on the continent, starting with an appearance at May's London Comic-Con, and a well received JPU Records debut with mini-album Brand New MAID. Their relentless schedule means that their first full length comes just over 6 months since the mini-album's release.