Gig Review: Corrupt Moral Altar @ The Star & Garter [09/02/2018]

A ferocious night of electrifying hardcore, with Boak, Gets Worse and Leeched supporting.

Review by Sarah Williams. Suitably crusty snaps by Dave Jerome.

It’s a small miracle that I make it to Star & Garter at all. I’ve been plenty of times before but I’m walking from a different part of Manchester, so I consult Google Maps to see if there’s a quicker route. There is! Or, well, it looks like there is, until Google leads me down an alley that has more in common with a motorway siding than a footpath, all mud, brambles and metal railings, to somewhere that is definitely not the Star & Garter.

Fortunately, I do know where the venue is, so I navigate blind through Mancunian highways and make it to the pub just in time to hear the soundcheck. Doomy bass rumblings tumble down the staircase under a howled, guttural mic-check. It’s already sounding beautifully bleak.

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Local three-piece Leeched open with a surreal salvo of window-rattling noise and the guitars proceed to squeal with distortion between every song. They drop into an onslaught of progressive, hardcore darkness that the fairly sizeable crowd is already enjoying. I don’t understand a word the singer growls, which is typically a good sign. The drummer is delightfully terrifying, corpse-pale apart from his facial tattoos, playing cloaked in a black hoodie, slowly shouldering his way through a feral onslaught of blast beats. There is an angry cry of, “Why are you not moshing, people? Please mosh for the next one,” which turns out to be a surprisingly polite request from a punter spitting into the stolen mic. Leeched continue to trudge through a catalogue of crusty dark metal that’s low and heavy, ending on a drawn-out decrescendo of six-string distortion.

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Gets Worse are up next, offering an assault of songs that are short, heavy and fist-in-the-gut ferocious. This heavy 4-piece from Leeds shake the room with supremely fast powerviolence sections, punctuated with low slow-motion mosh breaks that expertly build anticipation for the next attack. Above the patchwork of heavy metal shredding are caustically spat vocals. All members of the band contribute to this, but it’s the drummer somehow making time to tear words from his throat that offers the fiercest noise. They slide catastrophically into harder, heavier songs with a handful of quieter, bass-led pauses. The bleak crunch of distorted guitars primes the room both for soberly dressed, serious head-nodding and frantic elbow-smashing bursts of hardcore. Continue reading “Gig Review: Corrupt Moral Altar @ The Star & Garter [09/02/2018]”

Album Review: This Is Not A Drill – Hysteria/Hypocrisy/Lies

Noisy hardcore / anarcho punk from Sheffield. FFO: Chewed Up, Discharge, Iron Reagan.

Review by Ollie Stygall.

When I was a lad growing up in the 80’s, and my mates and I were dipping our toes into the murky world of punk/hardcore/metal, it became a familiar cry of parents to denounce our listening as noise, often telling us it all sounded the same and that it was rubbish… Not my dad, I hasten to add; he introduced me to loads of great rock and roll and always took time to listen to and try to appreciate what I was listening to!

Now I’m a parent and how things have changed. I find myself listening to the stuff my kids like and thinking where is the fire? Where is the anger? Where is the noise? Thanks to the 90’s tide of boy/girl bands and programmes such as the X Factor, music has become now, more than ever, a commodity. Something to fill the space left by silence and thinking in the brain. It is heartwarming to see, in that case, that some of the values I’ve held true for 30 odd years still exist in the underground and that there are bands that reflect this.

This Is Not A Drill don’t give much info about themselves away in their online presence; no names, influences, etc. They appear, to all intents and purposes, to be a band that exists to play and put across their message… and I like that. There are three of them, they’re from Sheffield, and they have previously served in Chewed Up, Brain Freeze and Trioxin Cherry: this much I can tell you. Another thing I can tell you is that these guys don’t mess about. Their sound is a fiery, brutal metallic hardcore assault with no frills and maximum impact. Continue reading “Album Review: This Is Not A Drill – Hysteria/Hypocrisy/Lies”

Interview with Grand Collapse’s Calvin Sewell

We chat to Welsh thrashcore heavyweights Grand Collapse about their song-writing inspiration, their recent tour and their ideal Sunday.

Interview by Sarah Williams. Cover photo by Pay No More Than Photography. Article photos by Alia Thomas.

In recent years Grand Collapse have become one of my favourite bands. Their live performances carry enough force to knock your teeth out; they take seriously fast, intense thrash to new heights.

Although the sheer force of their music is in itself a pleasure, they stand apart from other hardcore bands by adding in classic 80’s metal grooves and fusing it together though sterling musicianship. There’s also a strong political undercurrent in the songs. Listening at home, this might only become clear if you’re reading the lyric sheet, but the band often incorporate it into their live shows by pausing to discuss some of the most pressing issues of our time. Watching Grand Collapse injects fire straight into your veins; there’s a fury and beauty that’s hard not to love. Their album Along The Dew, released on TNS Records earlier this year, is also a stunning demonstration of musical talent and hardcore force.

I was lucky enough to catch up with singer, Calvin Sewell, just before their recent gig at The Smokehouse in Ipswich (check out my review of the show here). For someone fronting a hardcore band, Calvin seems to write with his heart on his sleeve, putting a lot of emotion and care into his words and his approach. I was keen to find out a bit more.

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Welcome to Ipswich! You’ve come a long way – South Wales and Bristol, right?

We’re all from different spots around South Wales but myself and Jon have emigrated to Bristol.

How did Grand Collapse first get started?

Nothing spectacular; we’re all the around the same age, from the same area, and all into fast / heavy music so inevitably you find each other. The other lads had played in several bands like Four Letter Word, Rejected and Threat Manifesto amongst others and we all knew each other vaguely from going to gigs. I wanted to start a band around that time and those three people made sense, so I told each of them that the other two were involved before they had even agreed and on that basis they all said ‘yes’!

Your second album, Along The Dew, was released earlier this year. How have you found the reaction so far?

Pretty decent. We’re stoked with this one. I think we learnt quite a lot whilst making the first record that helped us whilst writing and recording this one. It’s a lot closer to the mark sound wise and stylistically to where we want to be.

You’ve got such a genre-defying sound that I think people struggle to know what other bands to compare you to. What were you listening to when you recorded the album? Are they are any acts that have really inspired you?

Zeke. Rush. Propagandhi. Bane. Def Leppard. Motorhead. Death. Sick of It All. Conflict.

It’s also a lot more polished than your average hardcore band. What was the recording process like?

We work with Lewis Johns at The Ranch in Southampton. It’s a great place to record and Lewis is a fucking wizard. We gave ourselves a bit more time with this one so it was less rushed and we had a better idea of how we wanted to it to sound as a whole record rather than just a collection of songs. It’s a lot more chaotic and aggressive than the first. Continue reading “Interview with Grand Collapse’s Calvin Sewell”

Gig Review: Grand Collapse, Spoilers and Casual Nausea [19/10/2017]

The masters of UK thrashcore keep a midweek crowd on their toes at The Smokehouse in Ipswich.

Review by Sarah Williams. Photos by Richard Talbot.

It’s a grey, overcast Thursday in October. You’ve been chained to desk for eight hours, battered with spreadsheets, deadlines and inane office chatter. Your eyes sting from the air conditioning, strip lighting and screen glare. The phone rings incessantly and you’re hoping your boss hasn’t noticed you muttering ‘wanker’ every time you hang up on someone.

At the end of days like these, The Smokehouse in Ipswich is the light at the end of the tunnel. The endorphin rush you achieve at these shows is worth every second of your mid-week wage-slave drudgery. Tonight is especially exciting: Grand Collapse have travelled all the way from South Wales to jolt us back into reality with an insanely fast barrage of thrash mastery. Joining them are Spoilers, undoubtedly one of the most consistently great punk bands in the UK, plus local shouty legends Casual Nausea. Uncomfortable Beach Party Promotions have pulled another banger out of the bag.

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This is Casual Nausea’s first Ipswich show this year, plus their first local jaunt with new bass player Matt Kemp. As Spoilers put it later on, Casual Nausea are both, “The hardest sounding band and the loveliest bunch of people.” There is a palpable warmth and love in the room, with many of the local punks getting down early to catch the whole set. I have to fight my way to the front and through to the bar, it’s packed already.

The Smokehouse hasn’t got a stage to speak of, just an area behind the PA where the drumkit and the musicians typically reside. Throughout the evening the acts disregard the little barricade of monitors, with singer/shouter Simon being the first to get out into the crowd, trailing a long mic-lead. His antics get the rowdy dancing started down the front, setting the scene for a chaotic evening of elbows and shout-alongs. Continue reading “Gig Review: Grand Collapse, Spoilers and Casual Nausea [19/10/2017]”

The Crash Mats: Pies, Panpipes and the Dizzy Heights of Rockstardom [Interview]

“We’re like a Tunnock’s tea-cake. We’re dead soft and squidgy on the top and round the middle, but we’re hardcore underneath.”

The Crash Mats are hands-down one of the most entertaining live acts I have ever seen. They’re a damn good band that blend elements of punk, ska and hardcore, but their real talent lies in 24-carat comedy.

They’ve recently put out their second album 69 Peruvian Panpipe Classics on Manchester DIY label Horn & Hoof. It’s a rollicking ride through 21 classic tunes, including: Don’t Tell Mum That The Babysitter’s Dead, I Don’t Want To Go To Grandma’s House Tonight and My Girlfriend Only Has 24 Hours To Live. It’s a genuine feel-good album, reflecting the gargantuan level of fun you are guaranteed at their live shows.

Interrogating three such distinguished gentlemen as these is a rare opportunity, so I jumped at the chance to interview Oldham’s finest shortly after their set at Wotsit Called Fest.

It turns out that Danny Barrett a.k.a. Evil Bazz (vocals + bass), Dan Royales a.k.a. Seniòr Royales (guitar) and Chris ‘da beat’ Webb (drums) are even more hilarious in person than they are on stage. Huddled in a corner of the dingy backroom of The Palace in Hastings, surrounded by punks loading in instruments and beer floating in buckets of half-melted ice, we had a deeply poignant and meaningful discussion.

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You’ve just come off stage at Wotsit Called Fest. You’re rock stars. How do you feel?

  • Royales: Well, I always said to my Mum – “Just you watch.” After seeing Queen I said, “Mum, I’m gonna be a rock star.” It don’t surprise me at all.
  • Bazz: We’ve reached the dizzy heights of Freddy Mercury here, playing Wotsit Called Festival. Next we’re getting a plane to LA and playing twice in one day.
  • Shout Louder: You mean you don’t have a helicopter?
  • Royales: Not yet. The Crash Copter is out of action at the moment, it’s coming next week.

You’ve recently released a new album: 69 Peruvian Panpipe Classics. What inspired your song writing?

  • Bazz: Cannabis, professional wrestling and my Grandma.
  • Royales: We watched a documentary about 14th century French art and that’s where we got our inspiration.
  • Bazz: It is pretty deep, if you scratch beneath the surface. Below the thin veneer of intelligence.

Have you considered learning the pan pipes?

  • Chris: We were going to do it for the album, but we’re just too modest. If Bazz started playing the pan pipes at a gig he’d just steal the show. He’s prevented himself from playing the pan pipes for the good of The Crash Mats, I think.

Continue reading “The Crash Mats: Pies, Panpipes and the Dizzy Heights of Rockstardom [Interview]”

EP Review: Cope – Tooth & Nail

This brutal release London’s Cope ups the ante of British hardcore. FFO: Comeback Kid, Madball and H2O.

Review by Jake Jeremy.

The lines between hardcore, punk and metal have never been more blurred than in 2017, and the latest EP from London based 5 piece Cope throws everything into the melting pot to produce nothing short of sheer brutality.

The Tooth & Nail EP is the follow up to their debut release Challenge Oppression // Pursue Equality and the band has upped the ante when it comes to stretching the expectations of British hardcore. The opening salvo Stray Bullets clocks in at just under two minutes and it grabs you by the throat the entire time. It also gives a good overview of the Cope ‘sound,’ giving indications of the band’s melodic undercurrent and straight ahead riff work. Next up is Tooth & Nail, another riff heavy but more groove based track akin to Pantera but with a healthy dose of Britishness infused in the vocal presentation.

CopeMy personal favourite ditty sits in the third slot of this release. Neo-Nasty starts with a vicious nasally bass sound (I’m a sucker for a delicious bass tone, sue me) and then goes into Capdown territory… that’s right, this track is what I’d imagine Capdown would sound like if they listened to more Megadeth and less Madness, again utterly brutal and one for the pits. Continue reading “EP Review: Cope – Tooth & Nail”

BONO! : You’ve Got To Hear This [Band Profile]

Pit-inducing, aggressive East Anglian hardcore for fans of Bones Brigade, Darko and Spermbirds.

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BONO! are a 5-piece hardcore band from sunny Norwich, who are intriguingly named after the world’s most famous turd.  Founded on anger, frustration and an apparent distrust for songs lasting longer than 90 seconds, they deliver frantically aggressive pit-smashing live shows.

I caught them supporting Matilda’s Scoundrels about a week after moving to Ipswich, and spent at least 15-minutes drunkenly babbling at them, telling them how much fun they were in a teeny tiny room above an Irish pub. They have also inspired one of the glorious YouTube comments I’ve ever read, on their video for new track No Escape:

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Their first release was an awesome a 5-minute self-titled EP in March 2016, which followed it this year with new EP No Escape!  It’s a dark and energetic selection of songs, bound to tear a hole in any live audience. Continue reading “BONO! : You’ve Got To Hear This [Band Profile]”