PREVIEW: Death Blooms—Death Blooms EP (2017)

Death Blooms—Death Blooms (2017)

Death Blooms—Death Blooms (2017)

Details

Recorded at Red City Recordings, Manchester by producer and mix engineer David Radahd-Jones, Death Blooms’ self-titled debut EP is released Friday 12 May 2017.

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Band

  • Paul Barrow—Vocals
  • Ad Lucas—Guitar
  • Ben Grimsley—Bass
  • Mel Stewart—Drums

Tracks

  1. Hate:Die
  2. Last ones
  3. I’m dead
  4. Sick

Review

Death Blooms are a new alternative metal band on the UK scene, hailing from Manchester and Liverpool in the north-west of England. This is their debut EP and it’s really rather good.

Death Blooms (band)

Death Blooms (band)

That old adage “always leave them wanting more” is certainly true for this self-released EP (launched on Friday 12 May 2017). By the end of this four track recording I felt quite disappointed that there wasn’t more.

Musically, Death Blooms have a very modern metal sound. Vocalist Paul Barrow offers a gruff hardcore/metalcore vocal that isn’t afraid of softening a little to carve out some beautiful melodies, accompanied by a very competent-sounding band.

The EP opens with an in-your-face, punchy little number with the cheerful title of “Hate:Die” (track 1).  From the very first note, vocals are screaming, guitars are riffing, drums pounding. It’s certainly a bold entrance and one that initially took me a little by surprise and somewhat off-putting.

But that initial explosion, is immediately responded with an almost-whispered response, “then hate, then die, then hate, then die” that reminded in some part of—of all things—”What makes you tick” by Terrorvision. About a minute in, the chorus reveals a melodic core. It’s a classic combination: hard exterior, soft centre.

“Last ones” (track 2) retains the urgency but softens things just a little with a little less brutal opening. The riff is more melodic, as is the chorus (“If the skies should fall, we’ll be the last ones standing”). The band thumps around, throwing in a few interesting twists and turns and some colossal sounding riffs.

“I’m dead” (track 3)—see the video below—returns to the same song structure as the EP opener with the vocals leading from the go, like Hatebreed’s “Straight to your face” does. The song gallops through a solid riff, gruff vocals throughout, until a slightly more melodic middle-eight sung in chorus leads the song to a stomping conclusion.

EP closer “Sick” (track 4) begins with a complex guitar riff that weaves itself through the drums and screaming vocals. By now, Death Blooms have already revealed their hand and so the song structure and song textures are quite predictable: bouncy, shouting vocals broken up with more melodic, multi-voice choruses.

And then it suddenly goes quiet and it feels somewhat unfinished… always leave them wanting more, right? And that’s a good thing.

Conclusion

There is a vitality, a freshness and a sense of urgency about Death Blooms’ music that I really like. It’s exciting to hear such good quality British metal being created and exciting that such music can be released independently and still distributed widely.

While the four songs don’t stray too far from the same hardcore/metalcore/alt-metal formulas, it’s a solid approach and it still sounds fresh and relevant. I’d love to hear a full-length album to hear where else Death Blooms could take their sound, and what else they could achieve.

As it is, I’m perfectly happy with this EP. It’s a great start. I can only wish the band well in the future. Definitely a band to listen out for and look out for—they’ve already been seen live alongside Skindred and Raging Speedhorn.

Review score: 80%

Video

Disclosure

Stampede Press UK contacted me inviting me to preview Death Blooms’ forthcoming EP, which I was delighted about.

I have no connections to either Stampede Press UK or Death Blooms. I’m not being paid to review this. But I did get a free digital copy of the album to review which is pretty cool.

Many thanks to Rob from Stampede Press UK, and to Paul, Ad, Ben and Mel for continuing to create fresh, interesting metal in the UK.

BONUS: Faith No More—Sol Invictus (2015)

Faith No More—Sol Invictus (2015)

Faith No More—Sol Invictus (2015)

Oh dear! Look what arrived today…

Today is an historic day: the day that Faith No More released their first new studio album in eighteen years. That’s not going to make reviewing the next album in this project very easy. I can foresee that I’ll have this album on repeat for the next week or so.

I was woken last night around 12:45 by my youngest (4). At one point I glanced at my phone and realised that the album would now be available on Amazon Music. So I downloaded it, and lying in the dark I listened to it until just before 02:00 when I drifted off to sleep on my second listen through.

Having listening to it about (maybe) five or six times so far, it’s definitely a grower and Faith No More’s most mellow album to date.

But it’s a winner. It’s a keeper. It’s packed with tunes that get inside your head, tunes that twist and turn, and spit out lyrics packed with imagery and emotion.

Faith No More are back!

And I can’t stop smiling about it.

Hüsker Dü—The Living End (1994)

Hüsker Dü—The Living End (1994)

Hüsker Dü—The Living End (1994)

Details

Recorded at various venues (though mostly at Le Spectrum in Montreal, Canada) in October 1987. Produced by Hüsker Dü and Lou Giordano. Liner notes written by rock critic David Fricke. Released 1994 on Warner Bros. Records.

Hüsker Dü database

Band

  • Bob Mould—Vocals, guitar
  • Greg Norton—Bass guitar
  • Grant Hart—Drums, vocals

Tracks

  1. New day rising
  2. Girl who lives on heaven hill
  3. Standing in the rain
  4. Back from somewhere
  5. Ice cold ice
  6. Everytime
  7. Friend, you’ve got to fall
  8. She floated away
  9. From the gut
  10. Target
  11. It’s not funny anymore
  12. Hardly getting over it
  13. Terms of psychic warfare
  14. Powerline
  15. Books about UFOs
  16. Divide and conquer
  17. Keep hanging on
  18. Celebrated summer
  19. Now that you know me
  20. Ain’t no water in the well
  21. What’s going on
  22. Data control
  23. In a free land
  24. Sheena is a punk rocker

Review

In early 1995 I wandered into Our Price Records in Kilburn, north London, and stepped out about half an hour later clutching a copy of Sugar—File under easy listening (1994) which began my love of Bob Mould’s work. I came to listen to Hüsker Dü after both Sugar and Mould’s early solo work.

Workbook (1989) remains one of my favourite albums of his. I loved it so much and thought that my younger brother would too that I famously bought him a copy for his birthday. He HATED it. Much to my dismay and surprise. I inherited his copy years later when he finally considered that enough time had elapsed that I wouldn’t think it rude. In truth he could have given it away on the day of his birthday, I wouldn’t have thought him rude… just, well, wrong.

It was when I later moved into a flat in London with my friend and then-colleague Graham Fairbairn that he introduced me to Hüsker Dü, and their last-but-one album Candy Apple Grey (1986) in particular, and so the circle was complete. The third leg of my Mouldy stool, if you like.

This album The living end (1994) was released in 1994, six years after Hüsker Dü broke up. Allegedly Bob Mould himself has never listened to the album.

Although the songs on the album cover the whole of the band’s nine year history this isn’t an album that I would introduce people to Hüsker Dü listening to: it’s not the best live album; it’s not the best showcase for the band. Although maybe I just don’t know their back catalogue well enough—I would accept that.

Production and clarity aside, what this album does have going for it is energy and, of course, the songs. Hüsker Dü were very punk/hardcore-influenced and it shows, with echoes of bands like the Ramones in there. I remember reading years ago in Guitar World magazine that Mould’s use of minor 7th and minor 9th chords helped define that whole melodic hardcore genre.

Conclusion

I’ve probably already said elsewhere on this blog that I’m not a huge fan of live albums: for me, they don’t really capture either the purity of the music or the live vibe. That said, this is a decent enough album and I find myself having to balance between my enormous admiration for Bob Mould with the fact that it’s a live album of songs spanning the band’s career. And then do I score it against the other albums in this project, or against Bob Mould’s back catalogue.

Review score: 80%

Video

 

Tripswitch—Until (2008)

Tripswitch—Until (2008)

Tripswitch—Until (2008)

Details

Tripswitch’s last EP ‘Until’ was immediately picked up for distribution by Code 7 through Plastic Head, garnered great reviews and even gained the band their first celebrity fan: Porn star Belladonna. A large promotional run followed its release, handled by Andy Copping at ACP, plus appearances on cover mounted CDs with Zero Tolerance and Terrorizer magazines. (Source: Tripswitch website.)

Band

  • Jamie Armstrong—Vocals
  • Peter Botterill—Drums/Samples
  • Shaun Hodson—Guitar
  • Rick Whitehead—Guitar
  • Steve Dearnley—Bass

Tracks

  1. Call It A Day
  2. 1 Hit Infliction
  3. Withered
  4. 15:1
  5. Answers
  6. .
  7. Outro

Review

If I had been played this EP blindfolded I would have sworn that the vocalist was Armored Saint / ex-Anthrax singer John Bush. Jamie Armstrong has a fabulous voice for metal: raspy but clear, and melodic but not at the cost of being able to shout a line or two if the need arises.

This is another one of those recordings that begins (with the song “Call it a day”) in a rather deceptive, almost pop-way before distorted guitars kick in and Tripswitch reveal their true hand: metal.

Or… maybe not. The following track, “1 Hit Infliction” suddenly takes a left-turn about half way through into something rather trippy and pop-like before coming to its senses once again and pummelling the song through one final riff until the end.

More than one song on this EP follows the same path, dabbling with poppy, electronic samples. It’s done well though, it doesn’t feel forced or contrived.

The EP definitely has a British vibe to it, reminding me in places of Xentrix or Skindred.

If I had one criticism it would be that many of the songs sound very alike, more than just the fact that they are all played by the same band. That aside, this is a decent EP not least due to the vocalist and the punishing stop-start riffs.

Conclusion

This is definitely moving into my main music collection. I’ll listen to this again, quite happily. Until…

Review score: 68%

Sights & Sounds—Monolith (2009)

Sights & Sounds—Monolith (2009)

Sights & Sounds—Monolith (2009)

Details

Produced, engineered, and mixed by Devin Townsend at the Devestate. Assisted by Mike St-Jean. Drums recorded at the Wharehouse, engineered by Dean Maher. Manufacturered and marketed by Distort Inc./United by Fate Records. Released in 2009.

Band

  • Andrew Neufeld: Vocals, guitars, keys
  • Adrian Mottram: Guitar, pads, vocals
  • Matthew Howes: Bass, vocals
  • Joel Neufeld: Drums, percussion

Tracks

  1. Sorrows
  2. Shudder, St Kilda
  3. Storm & the sun
  4. The clutter
  5. Neighbours
  6. The furthest truth
  7. Pedal against the wind
  8. Night train
  9. Reconcile
  10. Borderlines
  11. Subtle, severe
  12. Sorrows II
  13. Pillars

Review

Canadian rock band Sights & Sounds is made up of members of four other Canadian bands: Comeback Kid, Figure Four, Sick City and The Getaway, and I just can’t get enough of this album. I’ve been playing it on loop all week: on my PC, at work, in the car, when taking a walk at lunchtime listening on my phone.

Strictly speaking Sights & Sounds aren’t metal — they’re about as metal as Def Leppard — but they are a part of this project so they’re staying in.

One review I read of them described them as “a blend of rock, punk and pop”, another described their songs as “a collection of intricate songs that straddles the line between sonically massive and a beautiful experiment in textured sounds.” [1] Guitarist Adrian Mottram in an interview in 2009 summed up their (then-current) influences as being as diverse as Dinosaur Jr, Greg Dulli, Miles Davis, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and Mew [2]. Sounds good to me.

The album opens with a very simple chord progression played on piano, which reminded me very much of Anthrax’s “I’m Alive” from their latest album Worship Music as it builds until the rest of the band explode into the song. The rest of the album follows in a similar, thoughtful vein. There is a depth to the songs. They are allowed to breathe and move and develop quite naturally. One minute they sound fragile and delicate, the next powerful and anthemic.

Conclusion

There really isn’t a song amongst this collection that doesn’t speak to me on one level or another. Producer Devin Townsend has done a sterling job capturing something of the essence of this band. There is an energy and excitement about it. Brilliant. I can see this being a favourite album of mine for some time to come. Quite unexpected, but very much welcomed.

When is their next album coming out?

Review score: 98%

Video

Official video for ‘Reconcile’.

Official video for ‘Borderlines’.