Old Wounds – From Where We Came Is Where We’ll Rest

Old Wounds - From Where We Came Is Where We'll Rest

‘From Where We Came Is Where We’ll Rest’ is the new LP from New Jersey post-hardcore band Old Wounds. After a number of EPs their latest takes from that of their earlier material and amplifies it to an alarmingly intense extreme.

On ‘From Where We Came Is Where We’ll Rest’ the band thrusts themselves into a nightmarish and brutal intrusion on hardcore music. Other than being absolutely punishing in nearly every aspect the band also presents an impressive repertoire of instrumental technicality that rivals that of other notable bands of their ilk, namely modern legends like Converge and Dillenger Escape Plan as well as newer acts like Gaza, Caust, and Code Orange Kids.

While influences are pretty obvious and Old Wounds may add  little in the way of progressing past the boundaries or furthering the development of the genre’s sound they still manage to put on one hell of an entertaining listen with this new album.

Throughout these 12 tracks the band keeps at a maddeningly fast pace, never sacrificing any of their energy and when the band does slow down it still manages to sound just as dense. On the fourth track Old Wounds sound at their most prime, cramming a ton of variation into a single track which, without warning, transitions from thrashy Converge-esque riffs and melodic guitar harmonies and into grinding discordant mayhem before breaking out into a spacey segue à la Dillinger Escape Plan. It is this that makes makes Old Wounds stand out from similar acts; the band’s ability to come through with a a solid combination of metal and hardcore that not only sounds modern but, whether intentional or not, reaches out to past generations of both respective genres which makes for a refreshing listen that I think fans of a more traditional sounds may even be able to enjoy.

The lyrics are nothing new in terms of what has already been offered by their contemporaries. Lyrical themes tend to be on the topic of disappointment, failure, and overcoming obstacles among other genre specific clichés.  This likely won’t be too much of a bother for anyone who is just casually listening considering most of the vocals are obscured with screams, shouts, or generally lost in waves of ear bleeding instrumentation but for a genre where concepts and and themes play a large roll in the music itself those who pay more attention may raise an eyebrow when on the track ‘Bitter Days’ the vocalists shouts “how can you justify when the life you live is the biggest lie” and “this is the end of everything you love”.

While the band does lack in certain areas, Old Wounds makes up in the amount of diversity they achieve. From nauseatingly fast head rushes of grinding guitars and blasting drums to a snails pace in the filthy doom-inducing track that is ‘Void’ and the absolutely filthy bass heavy track that is ‘Unspoken’ the band shows plenty of variety.

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Overall Rating: 6.7

Favorite Tracks: ‘Shallow Water’, ‘Born To Mourn’, ‘New Fortunes’

Recommended: Caust, Gaza, and Code Orange Kids, (maybe some Slayer too).

Released: 26 February 2013

Links:

Stream ‘Where We Came Is Where We’ll Rest’ via soundcloud here.

You can purchase the album here.

-Tyler Thompson

Swan of Tuonela – Swan of Tuonela

Swan of Tuonela - Swan of Tuonela

On the Richmond, VA band’s debut self titled, Swan of Tuonela showcases a liking for contrasting dynamics and tension within their songs. Although the group isn’t shy about their post-rock leanings, a sound that has become something of a staple within the likes of the various strains of hardcore music of today Swans of Tuonela are no strangers to aggressive music. Members of the band include previous and current members of other notable acts within the area such as Caust, Halcyon, and Dial Up; bands that press for more confrontational extremes such as powerviolence and grindcore, all of which serve as obvious influences on this debut which translate quite clearly within their sound.

The band plays with building song structures that progress into explosive, bombastic bursts of noisy, sloppy screamo. What separates Swans of Tuonela from the  masses of other post-rock influence screamo bands from around the area and otherwise is their extremely intense and chaotic songwriting abilities. While this post-rock inspired formula works for Swans of Tuonela the influx of band’s using a similar formula should be a sign to change direction which seems to have been taken into consideration seeing as there are moments where the band does change pace. For example, the four minute opening track, ‘Inanimate / Tolerance’ provides a dwelling sense of tension that grows into a heavier piece where it ends and is quickly picked up by the explosive ‘Quiver’, an impersonal and nightmarish track that manages to cram a good amount of progression and diversity into the brevity of its minute and a half duration.

While there are moments of these cascading walls of reverberated guitar the band juxtaposes it with crushing low-end chords and intensely moving sections of powerviolence inspired chaos that makes for some really nice contrast and moments of spine tingling bliss. Over the course of the fifteen minutes that is this self titled, Swans of Tuonela present a great combination of moody atmospheric passages that act as brief sections of breathing room while at once maintaining the listeners attention thrusting one quickly back into the throes of tortured screams, dissonant noise ridden guitar, thick sludgy bass, and jarringly fast drumming.

For me, while I do, at times find myself completely enthralled in what the Swan’s of Tuonela offers I also find myself wishing there was something more. I can’t help but think that what I’m listening to is the sound of a band with an exceptional amount of energy, passion, and potential, a band that could do something entirely different but has, like so many other bands fighting to break through from the now static narrative that much of hardcore music has formulaically imprisoned itself within, settled for a sound that was, at one point in time different but has ultimately grown into the stale norm.

Overall Rating: 5.8

Favorite Tracks: Quiver, Chrysalis

Recommended: Caust, Halcyon, Kilgore Trout, Dial Up, and The Pessimist Hangs the Optimist

Released: 30 January 2013

Links: Stream or purchase the cassete here.

-Tyler Thompson

Kilgore Trout – The Golden Altar / The Black Hourglass

The Golden Altar / The Black Hourglass

On Kilgore Trout’s first release they debuted with the ferocious combination of screamo and raw metallic noise that was their split / collaborative EP with False Flag. At the time it seemed like a strange but intriguing coming together of sounds but in retrospect I can’t help but think that this relationship between noise and punk has been one in the works since the early days of punk music. If anything, noise music of today is, in my mind  not only the precursor to punk but also the genre’s successor in that it has lived up to and moved past everything the genre has attempted to do. After all, pioneers of the genre, bands like Orchid, Pg. 99, and Jeromes Dream weren’t strangers to implementing progressive ideas into their music, specifically that of noise music and the avant-garde. With that said, it was no surprise to me when Loma Prieta released their pummeling Deathwish release, ‘I.V.’, last year which was also an album that pushed the genre to its loudest extremes while remaining true to traditional screamo and post-hardcore. While these newer hardcore acts are collectively seeking a louder and more intense degree of sound Kilgore Trout is a band that does it in their own way.

On the band’s second release, ‘The Golden Altar / The Black Hourglass’, Kilgore Trout returns with a maddeningly noisy off-shot of screamo. While the band continues to explore their noisier tendencies they have also expanded their style to include short passages of dark and brooding, droning guitar ambience, namely on the track ‘(II) Dead of Night’, the second part of an epic three part song that closes the album, which sounds much like something you would hear on a City of Caterpillar release.

The band proves that things can escalate quickly, going from subdued, moody ambience to a torrent of aggressiveness, a blaze of drums, grinding guitars, and vocals so raw that it could fit perfectly in the catalogue of some black metal cassette distro. These last three tracks are a nice tryptic to end the album to, a series of songs that essentially sums up Kilgore Trout’s sound. The first part, ‘(I) Regression’ is a building track that breaks out into a storm of hellishness, while the second part, as previously mention acts as a haunting interlude, accentuating the group’s attention to atmosphere that finally concludes with the third act in the series, ‘(III) In/Finite’, a track of pure hate-filled powerviolence and a stellar way to end an album.

Although I enjoyed the band’s split with False Flag, I found the production to be lacking. At times, the instrumentation sounded muddy, swallowed in all of the noise. With this new album, this isn’t so much of a problem, not necessarily because the recording sounds better per se but more so because the band has refined their sound. Although refined, that isn’t to say that the band has done away with these sections of noise ridden abrasion in their entirety but that they have accommodated their playing style to incorporate these noisier sections more appropriately into their music.

In conclusion, ‘The Golden Altar / The Black Hourglass’ is an album that shows the diversity that Kilgore Trout possesses as a band, a band that is moving toward a more refined destination, one that doesn’t surrender their ear for creating absolutely punishing music but also doesn’t take many risks or move into uncomfortable territory either.

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Overall Rating: 6.2

Favorite Tracks: ‘Roads’ and ‘(III) In/Finite’

Recommended: The Pessimist Hangs the Optimist, Swan of Tuonela, and Caust

Released: 01 January 2013

Links: Like the band on Facebook

-Tyler Thompson

Caust – Mass Graves (We Would Be Better Off)

Caust is a five piece hardcore / screamo band from Northern Virginia whose chaotic and frantic sound draws influences from the many stylistic divisions of hardcore punk whose EP, ‘Page Turner’ was released last year. Mass Graves is the band’s second EP.

Stylistically Caust doesn’t venture much outside of the framework of hardcore punk but within that genre they reach out to quite a few variations, most notably the intense and cathartic style of early screamo and power-violence taking influence from bands like Orchid and Pg. 99. In every aspect from the instrumentation, to the noisy production, and the aggressive dueling vocals ‘Mass Graves’ is a very intense listen. Although intensity is a focus within the music that Caust makes they know when to take things slow letting brooding oppressive chords ring out usually coupled with throat blistering screams and howls. Although balancing between fast power-violence and slow dirgy riffs there are also moments of melody and more emotive sections as well, most prominently heard on the song ‘For Myself’. These slower sections give enough breathing room between the chaotic movements providing a nice amount of balance. I particularly like the vocals which range from strained howls to a deeper caveman-esque shout.

Mass Graves doesn’t really offer too much in terms of pushing any of the boundaries within this genre but it is substantially more well-rounded and expressive than their previous EP, ‘Page Turner’ so if you’re looking for something fast and well executed this is a pretty solid effort regardless.

Overall Rating: 6.1

Favorite Track: ‘I Am Howard Beale’, ‘For Myself’, ‘Book Burner’

Recommended: Solomon Solomon, Studying, The Pessimist Hangs The Optimist

Released: 14 July 2012

Links:

Check it out

Also on tape on ‘It’s A Trap Records!’

-Tyler Thompson

The Pessimist Hangs the Optimist – Relief (Track Review)

The Pessimist Hangs the Optimist just released a new track entitled ‘Relief’.

‘Relief’ shows the band continuing to explore their style of sludgy dirges made up of the same intense songwriting and crushing riffs and chords found on their debut EP, ‘You See All Kinds of Things When You Are the Only One Awake’. The guitar tone is once again ridiculously heavy with a lot of low end that makes for a very muddy tone which may be a negative aspect for some but I think it is a good stylistic difference that separates their sound from the hundreds of other bands they share the scene with. The vocals transition in a smooth almost unnoticed way between a sort of half baked yell and full fledged screaming; lots of emotion here. This band’s ear for composition and steady pacing between these frequent short burst of aggression and small pockets of breathing room are what really makes this song work for me. When looking back at their debut EP ‘Relief’ isn’t anything new in terms of being different from their previous material but it is a good tune nonetheless.

Recommended: Melancholic sludge influenced sounds. Circle Takes the Square

Released: 19 February 2012

Links: Listen here

-Redntoothnclaw

Kilgore Trout – Split with False Flag

Kilgore Trout - Split with False Flag

It seems since I reviewed Studying’s ‘Songs About Leaving Home’ I find myself listening to and reviewing every punk band from Annandale, VA that I find out about. Virginia has undoubtedly seen an influx of punk, screamo, and emo bands lately and Kilgore Trout is yet another band from Annandale who is a part of this growing scene. This is their split with False Flag.

What separates Kilgore Trout’s sound from the many other bands from their area is the inclusion of multiple genres such as power-violence, noise, and screamo; sounds that have been seamlessly incorporated into a three song split of extreme and experimental music that is stylisitcally similar in both sound and composition to punk rock. It is as if Merzbow had decided to produce a punk record.

‘Hollow’, the first track opens with an oscillating wall of sound, a crushing and seemingly unexpected opener that left me interested to see where the band was going to take things. I didn’t have to wait long though because not shortly after the band opens up with some duel male and female vocals before tearing into the aggressive tendencies of power violence, full of unrelenting and pummeling chords. The vocals on this track are notable, often marring the lines between singing and screaming, a hollow half barked vocal. The track noisily transitions into  the next, ‘Rose Quarts’ which begins much like the previous track. The vocals are buried beneath all of the distortion and instrument feedback and when you can hear them they are much more grating, the kind of vocals that really make for an aggressive and impacting performance.

The abrasive nature of the music on this split is undoubtedly going to turn some lovers of the genre off, however, there are moments of beauty beneath all of the chaos. On ‘Visita Interiora’ there is a clean break that leads into a section featuring remnants of clean tremolo picked guitar swells that can be heard buried beneath slabs of crunchy distortion and feedback. It is subtle and almost nonexistent, ghastly even.

Kilgore’s side of the split works so well in being aggressive while remaining raw; it proves that a band does not need top notch production to create something heavy and loud which is where I feel like so many bands associated with heavy music seem to have gone wrong.  Still, I can not help but shake the fact as though the production on this release may turn some off. At times it is hard to discern some sounds from others, in other words many of the sounds get lost in the lo-fi production and muddy mess of noise. Their music is rough and unrefined, it lacks polish, which is not necessarily a negative thing as it only adds more dissonance to the atmosphere. It is raw and unforgiving, the way aggressive music should be.

Listen to their music here.

Overall Rating: 7.7

Favorite Track: ‘Visita Interiora’

Recommended: Noisy, aggressive, stripped down and loud. Merzbow meets powerviolence.

*Note: this review only applies to the Kilgore Trout side of the split*

-Redntoothnclaw