Category: features

Review: Dewolff – The Dust Coda at The Black H…

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Here i am tonight at the iconic The black Heart, a small yet cosy place giving the audience the chance to get up close and personal with the bands they come to see.

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Although I have come to check out the main band, I always make a point to come early; being short-arsed I need to find a spot to perch on my stool but most importantly support bands can surprise you in the best way.

Warming up the stage for the main act are THE DUST CODA, bringing their soulful and bluesy tinged music to a responding audience.They knock out tunes after tunes from their self titled debut, storming the stage on a full throttle roar with opener ‘The More It Fades’, slowing down mid set to the smooth and seductive ‘Sweet Love Is Gone’ showcasing john’s groovy vocals whilst passing through the fist stumping riff of ‘When The Tide Comes In’. A strong and full blooded set keeping the Rock’n’Roll alive along the likes of The Temperance Movement and Rival Sons.

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Next up is psychedelic rockers from the Netherlands DEWOLFF. Although we are always told never to judge a book by its cover, their attire of santiag boots, flared trousers, wispy moustache and flowing hair bring an air of the 70’s; and on this occasion the cover matches the book to my delight.Their catchy 70’s infused songs kept us all enthralled and mesmerised from start to finish. A highly energetic set filled with blues, soul and psychedelic riffs bringing contemporary lyrics with music from the past. Having been around since 2007, their repertoire was diverse with a set mixed with songs from ‘Strange Fruits and Undiscovered Plants’, ‘Grand Southern Electric’, ‘Roux-Ga-Roux’ and latest album ‘Thrust’. 

Pablo, Luka and Robin are a thunderous 3 piece with boundless energy, virtuosi stretching each song as far as they can dare ( some lasting a good 10mns as you can see on the iPhone footage) and very much attuned to the southern USA music. It is hard to pinpoint which songs stand out but my 2 favourite will have to be politically geared ‘Deceit and Woo’ (allegedly written on Trump inauguration)  and inter-dimensional cosmic beauty written whilst philosophising drunk AND stoned in their hotel room ‘Love Dimension’. Seeing DEWOLFF live is certainly an experience I will never forget as it brought me close to an era I would have like to have been part to.

Pictures gallery here:https://goo.gl/Pwd3xQ

Here are some footage taken at the gig, I won’t win an Oscar for best feature film but it gives you first hand view of what words can not always convey.

Review and photos: THE SOAP GIRLS @ The Monarc…

Show date: 2nd May 2018

Sitting in the girls’ tour bus on the pavement outside the Monarch having a chat with sisters Millie and Mie Debray prior to them taking the stage was a confined and fun experience as they insisted I tried a shot of their chocolate tequila. I have to say, if you’ve never tried chocolate tequila, give it a go. The Soap Girls are now embarking on their ‘Stinks Like Punk’ tour lasting until the end of the year. Chatting to them is always a pleasure because they are honest, intelligent, fun, and say it as it is!

It’s been twelve months since their album ‘Societys Rejects’ and nine months since their last London appearance. So what have the girls been up to? They have nine new songs toward their next album of which the title is yet undecided although the girls intimated it may be something like “Catch, Release, Kill”

The album is half finished and due for completion after their current tour and released at the end of the year or early next year. The girls promise the next album will be better than “Societys Rejects” and will be brutal and dark covering topics like animal rights, human rights but also promises melodies. Some of the track titles include “My Development” about a mindless neighbour who complains about the girls practising their music, “Chains” about standing up for your rights. The girls sang a verse of this to me in the bus – promising!

The gig was as you would expect although to be honest, their new drummer (Sam from Stoke) is an improvement from the last time I saw them. The girls have accepted Sam and enjoy banter with him. They have developed their own version of a Stoke accent which isn’t too bad. All of the numbers they performed were in the set that you would want, predominantly from “Societys Rejects” and a couple from the upcoming album.

The Soap Girls will return to the road after the release of the next album with plans to tour the United States and possibly Australia. This will be breaking ground for the girls. For the UK fans, they will also be playing Camden Rocks this year on June 2nd.

Whilst the girls are great to listen to, and great to watch, their image of nudity isn’t really necessary and I do wonder if this detracts from them being taken more seriously. They have great talent and music ability and if they continue producing albums like “Societies Rejects” they will continue to grow respect and following. They continue to be a breath of fresh air, they are not shy in sharing their views or standing by their values so if you haven’t seen or heard them, give them a go but brace yourself!

Interview: CANCEL by Matt D

With their new album Dark Reveries being released on May 12th we catch up with the swiss hardcore mob that is Cancel about 2018 so far and more…

As we
begin 2018 what were your highlights of 2017?

Yves Bucher (Drums): Bandwise it definitely was when we decided to write a new
album with our new guitarist Felix. It gives sort of a motivation boost. I’m a
forward looking person and need to have goals like that. Other than that I
started a new job at the end of 2016, so 2017 was the year of changes and
challenges, there were highlights at all times.

Felix Mechelke (Guitars): We had a Balkan tour in summer 2017, so
I really enjoyed that moment when we were somewhere in Italy, having a swim
(naked of course) in the sea right after a huge thunderstorm.

Remo Stalder (Vocals): For me it’s recording our second LP as well. I’ve learned
so much vocal-sound and recording-wise.

What are
your goals for 2018?

YB: To play and
tour whenever and wherever possible.

RS: I go with the
Yves’ answer. I think all of us know where we
wanna go as a band. It’s important to us to have similar goals.

FM: I want to share
our new record with as many people as possible, but I also want to learn more about sound, recording methods and gear in
general.

Which new
bands/artists would you recommend in 2018?

RS: God Mother
from Sweden are pretty furious. End is kind of
a supergroup with members of Counterparts, Fit
For An Autopsy, Reign Supreme etc. and their EP “From The
Unforgiving Arms of God” is heavy as hell.

What was
the band or artist that got you into music or inspired you to be a musician?

YB: When I was younger I emancipated from my parents music and
the first two heavy bands I started to listen were Metallica and System Of A
Down. They were  without doubt the two bands who made me want to have my own band. Later, Thrice showed kept my passion alive,
since they showed me how you can change as a band and still keep a fanbase by
just making great music.

RS: In the
beginning, it was just fun and to have a reason to be in a band room with
friends. These days bands like Converge, Norma
Jean, Dillinger Escape Plan and Every Time I Die inspire me. Not in a way to
copy their music, rather their ambition and methods to create something new and how to push yourself into new directions.

FM: Machine Head!

Interview: KRISTA D by Matt D

We recently caught up with musician/visual artist Krista D about her projects, digital consumption of music and more…

Firstly congratulations with the success of Land Mine. How has the reception been so far for the EP as a whole?

Thank you! I was actually surprised that Land Mine received any attention at all- especially given how unceremoniously I had released it. I’m so happy that people seem to like it.

The reception of the EP, in terms of actual sales, is nowhere near the response I had digitally- sales are a bit dismal actually, but that’s mainly my fault. I hadn’t planned anything for it. I just quietly released it to digital platforms and went back to working on my visual art. I had no tour plans in place, no performances or official release party scheduled…nothing.

Earlier on, I had contacted some companies to see if I could promote it to some radio stations here in Canada, and thought maybe I would be able to schedule some show dates in any receptive areas. A small scale, targeted kind of thing. I was mainly fishing to see if there was any potential viability to the project, since I had been out of music so long; I really didn’t know the market anymore. I was either ignored or rejected- being told that the single wasn’t considered a fit for anywhere.

So, with that, my hope for the project went from low to non-existent. I still released it, mainly for myself, and it was actually intended as my last release as Krista D.  But, where the digital response was so encouraging, I’m planning on booking some live shows in hopes of provoking EP sales and to fan the spark as best I can.

What led to your return to music in 2016 and what led to the decision to create three different bands?

I had returned to music simply because I missed expressing myself through singing and songwriting. On a deeper level I think I wanted to wrap up the musical part of my life in a more dignified way. The events and conditions surrounding why I stopped music in the first place were unsatisfactory, so I wanted to take back a piece of myself and end things on my own terms.

The decision to be 3 different projects was due to the fact that I tend to switch genres depending on the mood or topic. It had been suggested to me, several times, by industry people that I was too all over the place and that I lacked brandability. My previous release was very eclectic and part of me always wondered if that’s why I’d never been able to make a better go of things… but I really didn’t want to change how I created.

This time around I thought it might be interesting to treat my music catalogue the same way I had been treating my visual art- where I create different styled work and have gallery shows under 3 aliases.

I think I’m like the human version of a junk drawer.. the best I can do is sort myself into 3.

We have heard what to expect from Krista D with the EP plus the Hooha and The Peter Guns track Green Mazes – what can we expect from Molly Grue’s EP?

The Molly Grue EP, well… it’s going to be sad and a lot softer than my other two projects.

With the Krista D EP, I kind of candy-coat dark lyrical themes with perky music, and the Hooha material is mainly intended for my angry venting. Green Mazes was honestly not the best track for me to have put out as an example of this project- it was just the first track that was completed. It’s not meant as an official single.

The Molly Grue EP is based on topics like mental illness, child abuse, domestic abuse.. it’s not really a “feel good” album, but it comes from a real place. There’ll be 3 new tracks and 3 re-releases from an old album. I’m finishing up the last track, Ghost in the Room, right now, but where the isolated scratch vocal made a guy cry-  I’m currently debating whether I should relieve some of that with instrument production. I don’t think I need people *that* sad.

The 1st single, ‘Anyway’, is going to have it’s debut feature on May 25th for the 13th anniversary of the Pop Garden Radio show. I’m really curious to see how it’ll be received. That track, and ‘Hush’ ( a re-release from Janes’ World) will probably be the most radio friendly songs from the EP.

Given that music is being consumed more digitally – do you see more opportunities to create a crossover between your visual art work and your music?

I do – but I’ve not set things up to take full advantage of that yet. In the near future I intend to create an online store to sell both art prints and music. Creatively, I’ve already begun pairing my art and my music by creating each EP cover in the style of one of my art aliases.

Apart from the digital realm, I want to sell visual art prints at my merch tables and intend to sing at my art show openings- whenever the gallery allows for it.  The subjects which inspire my visual art are the same topics that move me to write songs- so it all links together; I think it makes sense to market everything I do collectively.

Are there plans to sign other artists to Loose Lamb records in the future?

Maybe! I think that would be extremely cool, actually. I’d love to get to the point of success that I could sign artists I believed in.

Loose Lamb Records was essentially created as means to park all 3 projects in one place. It’s currently only a vanity label- meaning it’s completely self-absorbed.

*But* if I ever do find enough success with any of my projects, and build up enough industry contacts who trust and believe in what I’m doing, then I would certainly look to help, or “sign”, other similar minded artists.

But I certainly won’t have any credibility as a label, and wouldn’t be much help to anyone, until I can first figure out how to succeed on my own projects. We’ll see what the future holds.

Any plans to tour the UK soon?

I would absolutely love to tour the UK. I intend to look into whether it’s financially feasible after I finish up a few visual art projects I’m committed to. The last few months I’ve been entirely focused on making a 15 foot long whale, three large baby robins and 400 clay bees for a solo exhibition I have in June- but I will be switching my focus to booking some performances after all of the art is installed.

In recent years there has been an increase on surprise albums from acts – >even going as far as no early singles in the recent case of Arctic Monkeys – >what are your thoughts on them?

I honestly don’t know a huge amount about them but I think I remember reading that their first material kind of caught on through demo file sharing… like everything just unfolded in a really cool “perfect storm of success” kind of way for them. That had to have been so validating and empowering.

I think they’d be like a shining example of organic success and it really shows the power of pro-active fan support and how the internet can facilitate major success for an indie band in todays’ market. 

Review and Photos: BETH HART @ HEXAGON THEATRE…

Show date: 30th April 2018

Entering in a very unorthodox manner, Beth walked through the almost capacity crowd and welcomed fans, shook hands, gave hugs and opened her first number at the same time. Finally making it to the stage leaving the fans in a very happy mood.

There is no doubt that this lady is an exceptional talent. She can clearly write great songs. She can very clearly sing with a range only to be envied. She is a versatile musician too playing electric and acoustic guitars as well as the piano.

For an artist that has had many challenges through life she has turned out well. Openly discussing her abusive relationships, mental health issues, and her own concern that she may be a serial killer it is obvious where the emotion in her writing stems from. She sings about getting out of relationships, loving someone deeper and even about an ugly house!

Beth obviously appreciates where she has come from and is thankful of where she is. Giving homage to her Mom (who was in the audience) for being so supportive and explaining that she was a difficult child. More subject matter for a song.

The music speaks for itself and the audience were pleased throughout. Personally, I felt there were too many slow tempo songs at the piano. Beth has the ability to raise the energy in anyone and this was the case in her rocky blues numbers especially as she came out to her encore. The final song being another slow tempo number left me deflated though. Not a great way to end a set.

Review and photos: KRIS BARRAS @ HEXAGON THEAT…

Supporting one of L.A.’s great blues artists, Beth Hart, Kris Barras took to the stage to perform his acoustic set to an almost capacity crowd at the Hexagon Theatre in Reading.

Initially influenced by his Father, Barras takes inspiration from the likes of Hendrix. He’s had a ride through his short life with being bankrupt, being a professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) cage fighter (retired), to a very respected Blues musician.

The Kris Barras band normally give the satisfaction of great blues with substance and style and all the grit you can take. They are a big sound blues rock band. So when they took the stage with acoustics, I didn’t know quite what to expect.

My concerns were quickly quashed with what I can only say was some of the best acoustic blues I have seen live.

The band’s ability to deliver their style, power, and maintain technical content was achieved with a four star rating. This was also evident by the crowd’s reaction to each and every song on the set list.

The brand new album ‘The Divine and Dirty’ featured throughout the set and if you haven’t heard the album I would certainly recommend you afford a listen. Songs featured from the album were ‘Hail Mary’, ‘Propane’, and ‘Watching Over Me’.

I have to say, the acoustic set was great. However, the full band experience rocks. So if you’re impressed by the acoustics of Kris Barras, you will be blown away by the full experience. This places Barras on another plain by displaying his diverse music ability.

JACKSLACKS picks his Rockabilly Hall Of Fame b…

When we got the chance to correspond with Jackslacks we at Sonic decided to do something a bit different by asking him who he would personally put in his Rockabilly hall of fame. What follows are his choices:

Let me start by saying I’m a rockabilly cat that fell in love with the original rock ‘n roll period 1955 – 1959. That said I’m a huge fan of Sam Phillips Sun Records and the roster of artists that recorded there during that golden era including Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley and my musical hero Carl Perkins.

With that history in mind, I would start my own Hall with a song I co-wrote with childhood friend (and Billy Joel guitarist) Tommy Byrnes titled, “Bank Account’s Too Small.” It’s a rockabilly song first and foremost, while lyrically telling a story that most rockers have experienced… playing hard, but seemingly never having enough money to show for it. I tried to emulate the Sun sound as best I could using vintage microphones, tube amplifiers, and venerated recording gear (2” tape).

Next up is the track “When She Was Mine.” I am after all a child of the 1960’s and also a big fan of the British Invasion groups including Beatles, Rolling Stones and Kinks. Here, I tried, musically, to incorporate some of the great harmonies I heard growing up, while lyrically telling an age old story of a love gone bad. Really, for me anyway, the Beatles initially integrated all the finest elements of 50’s rockabilly into a pop radio format. Examples include Paul imitating Little Richard’s vocal style, George using a Gretsch Duo Jet and/or Country Gentlemen while replicating Carl Perkins guitar licks (and little foot dance) and John’s power guitar rhythms, (barre cording) analogous to Chuck Berry.

Thirdly, I picked a song called “Best Friend Gone Away.” For me, this track brings to mind a fine summer day in Southern California; carefree and warm, perhaps something the Beach Boys might have recorded in the early sixties. The vocal harmonies are bright and tight, the infectious bass line bouncy and fun and an electric guitar solo that just oozes an old school rock and roll vibe.

Your Time Has Come” is what I would describe as a ‘Blues-a-billy’ record. There are, after all two distinctly apparent genres within the Rockabilly subculture: Hillbilly (Country) and Blues… Carl Perkins infamously referred to rockabilly as “blues with a country beat.” For this number, I brought in an old friend and ex-bandmate, Johnny Mercury on electric guitar and utilized San Diego jazz pianist Anthony Stevens for the session as well. My brother, Bill Giorgio (Nobody’s Business) plays the blues harmonica.

My final pick is “Generations Hypnotized,” a cheeky harangue to a culture held in thrall of their smartphones. Scrupulous social observation for sure. Lyrically, the song is simultaneously edgy and entertaining. Certainly, a rockabilly bedrock is present, albeit with some added color; most notably the use of Hammond organ and flute. The track also includes a reprise of sorts, a finale vamp (section) that fosters additional depth, groove and melody.

(Thanks to Tom at Polymath PR)

Review: TESTAMENT @ O2 INSTITUTE, Birmingham b…

Early evening draws upon us in a dreary Birmingham but the streets of Digbeth are alive to the sound of thrash metal! Long hair, denim and battle jackets are the order of the day as I enter Digbeth High Street. The weather may have kept everyone else indoors this bank holiday weekend, but the thrashers are out in force.

The reason we’re all out on this sodden day I hear you ask? Bay Area legends Testament are in town and they’ve brought Annihilator and Vader with them. Quite possibly the touring line up of the year, certainly the best so far.

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The main room at the Institute plays host tonight and it’s sold out. Despite the very early doors the place fills up quickly in anticipation of the opening act, who could be headliners in their own right. Vader, Poland’s death metal superstars are a big draw themselves. Eastern Europe’s most successful musical export are out to upstage those that follow and what a job they do. 

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Piotr’s throaty vocal girth accompanied by his and Marek’s duelling guitars deliver excellence in the extreme. Death metal perfection and setting a scene that may be hard to follow.The short 30 minute set receives a standing ovation as they take a bow with the Imperial March playing in the background.

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Despite being set a tough task, Annihilator are more than up for the challenge put before them. Opening with King of the Kill they are straight into a set of fast-paced ferocity. A minor set back mid-song halted the set as a fan’s serious injuries are tended to, but that’s not enough to stop the momentum.

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One to Kill is awe-inspiring, as the band deliver riff after riff, beat after beat in an onslaught of the senses. They are enjoying every minute of it, a smile breaks on Jeff Waters face stretching ear to ear as they close with fan favourite Alison Hell. 

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They were set a tough task by Vader but they proved more than a match for the Poles and gracefully hand the batton for the evening over to Testament.

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Many would argue that tonight’s headliners should be part of the “big four” of thrash. Testament were part of the Bay Area scene during thrash’s heyday and have continued to draw sizable crowds throughout the 80’s, 90’s and into the new millennium. It is, therefore, no surprise that the sizeable O2 Institute is sold out for this evenings festivities, the band are still a big draw.

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Opening with Brotherhood of the Snake, the title track from the bands latest opus, they kick off with a bang, the fans lap it up, taking joy in the new material just as they will the old later in the evening. The first quarter of the set is filled with newer material from the last three releases and rounded out with a sublime Alex Skolnick solo.

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As they forge on, Chuck Billy commands the stage a towering figure playing air guitar on his mic stand as he goes. The Bay Area Thrashers now hit the older material, Electric Crown, Low and the ever popular Into The Pit has the writhing sweaty masses going hell for leather in the crowd. 

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The theme of the evening is solo’s, Skolnick getting every chance to show of his skill song after song, but soon Peterson and then Di Giorgio both get full on solos of their own and let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a bass solo!

As we draw to a close the greatest hits are brought forth, Souls of Black is wondrous, The New Order even better, but that’s not it. Practice What You Preach and Over The Wall round out the best evening of out and out thrash I’ve experienced in a long time. Testament, and indeed Annihilator and Vader, show that this type of music is indeed alive and kicking and here to stay for many a year to come.

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Review: VIVE LE ROCK AWARDS 2018 by Cristina M…

[Photo credit: Cristina Massei]

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Does the world really need any more music awards? Normally I’d answer with a firm thumb down. However, tonight is a welcome exception: in the world of punk, public recognition has been lacking way too long. Well done then to Vive Le Rock, a printed music magazine that keeps flourishing when the likes of the NME are shutting down shop.

From Cock Sparrer to Charlie Harper to The Damned and Michael Monroe, the recurring theme is clear – the recipients of these Vive Le Rock awards won’t struggle to find them a spot on their mantelpiece. Hard to believe when in attendance are some of the most influencing legends of rock.

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Tonight’s host is an institution of the London live scene, Mr Ginger Wildheart, who took a break from the first Wildhearts’ original line up reunion and a billion other projects to be here. After a 4 track set from TV Smith, Ginger presents the first award – the Pioneer Award – to the Cure, with Kirk Brandon collecting. Best New Band is Booze & Glory,while the Roots Award goes to The Selecter and Film of the Year to Rebellion: A Punk Movie. Finally Gary Crowley bags the prize for Best Reissue before The Professionals take stage to the crowd’s cheers. It’s a brief set bursting with energy and camaraderie, everyone seemingly having a whale of a time. Paul Cook is loving it and we’re loving his enthusiasm – ageless.

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They’re awarded Album of The Year, presented by none other than… Shakin’ Stevens! There’s also a Rock in Peace Award to remember Malcolm Young, and the International Award that prompt a meeting and a hug between two old band mates: it’s Michael Monroe, theatrical as always, treating us later to a taster of his explosive live performance. It’s Cock Sparrer however who bag the Live Award, with a heartfelt thank you to their loyal fan base.

Icon Award? Who else but Charlie Harper! And the legend that he is, he spent the night at the bar chatting to people and posing for selfies. True f***ing rockstar you are sir. Captain Sensible presenting him with the award is the cherry on the cake of this climax moment at the Vive Le Rock punk-star-studded do.

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Band of the year, of course, The Damned, with the audience’s loud approval. The banter between Vanian and Sensible tells the story of two older, more mature men who have no time for petty feuds but still know how to have fun and most of all how to entertain a crowd. Young, old, man or woman, if you haven’t seen the Damned live yet please do and be grateful for still having them around…

Before heading back home we’re treated to few more tunes from Shakin Stevens, Michael Monroe and Mr Harper, before a collective jam of Ace of Spades and a fantastic closing for the Band of the Year themselves. See you all next year I hope…

Full photo gallery from the event can be seen here: http://www.cristinamassei.com/MUSIC/VIVE-LE-ROCK-AWARDS

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THE HINTERLAND VOLUME 1

Words: David Lees

Hello and welcome to my new column, where I’m going to be looking at some of the recent releases in the world of post-industrial, EBM, and noise.

Anatomy – The Sixth Seal

First up is a new video release from Anatomy, the electronic project of NY based musician Jenna Rose. Rose’s vocals switch back and forth between singing and harsh, demonic shrieking over ominous, dark and danceable darkwave beats. The video itself is an adults-only nightmare mix of horror movie clips, surgical videos and documentary footage which creates a fever dream of blood, pain and depravity. All good wholesome fun then. Anatomy’s first EP is available on Bandcamp now.

https://vimeo.com/259246424

https://anatomy.bandcamp.com/releases

Sue Zuki – We Are All Very Anxious

It’s not exactly a new release but new to me is Sue Zuki’s We Are All Very Anxious, an album is based around the themes of “psychological alienation and despair”. It’s not an easy listen, starting off using harsh vocals and repetition like a drill to your head, cracking your skull open before filling it with mellower, hypnotic but no less disquieting beats. But then that’s the point. It’s hard to say I enjoyed it, but it left me feeling edgy and paranoid on a sunny day so it’s certainly an effective piece of work. Sue Zuki also runs the Glasgow based drone/electronic/industrial record label Domestic Exile representing the artists Total Leatherette and The Modern Institute.

https://domesticexile.bandcamp.com/album/we-are-all-very-anxious

Hide – Castration Anxiety

Castration Anxiety is the first album from Hide, a post-industrial duo from Chicago and label mates of Youth Code and Drab Majesty. It’s also easily my favourite release of this year so far. The music alone has a real power to it, with the grinding drive of demonic machinery and crushing beats that punch themselves into your brain like railroad spikes but it’s Heather Cabel’s vocals that really raise this album to another level. Running the gamut from cynically sultry to rending, emotional shrieks, dripping with hate and rage, if you’re ever looking for music to listen to while wishing the world would burn to ash and bone then this is the album you need.

https://hide3.bandcamp.com

DK-Zero – Blood and Violence

Finally for this column we have the debut single release from a new EBM band, DK-Zero, most notable for having in its line-up famed internet steampunk lady Kato. And it’s…yeah. It doesn’t reinvent the genre or do anything stunningly new and interesting but it’s a well produced bit of industrial metal that wouldn’t send you fleeing off the dancefloor to the bar if it came on in a club. I’m certainly curious about hearing the full album now.

https://www.facebook.com/officialdkzero/