Transistor Transistor—Ruined Lives (2008)

Transistor Transistor—Ruined Lives (2008)

Transistor Transistor—Ruined Lives (2008)

Details

Recorded and mixed by Kurt Ballow at Godcity Studios, Witchcity from 2 to 12 January 2008. Mastered by Alan Douches at Westwestside in New Windsor, NY on 22 January 2008. Released by Level-Plane Records on 15 April 2008.

Bandcamp

Band

  • Nat Coghlan—Vocals and guitar
  • Garrison Nein—Vocals and bass
  • Brad Wallace—Guitar
  • James Moller—Drums

Tracks

  1. Morning sickness
  2. The price of gasoline
  3. Brass bones
  4. Diet of worms
  5. Pillar of salt
  6. The ghost hand
  7. Harvest
  8. Letter of resignation
  9. Celluloid rats
  10. Irreversible
  11. Teratogen

Review

This appears to be the one and only release from New Hampshire hardcore/grunge band Transistor Transistor.

New Hampshire, New Hampshire, so good they named it twice.

Having been mostly reviewing symphonic and avant-garde  black metal bands for the last few weeks this requires a little change of gear. But having established quite firmly a few months back that it no longer takes me by surprise every time I listen to a hardcore album and discover that I like it, it shouldn’t take a detective to hear that this album gets the thumbs up from me, too.

As well as the usual hardcore elements, there is more than a dollop of Bob Mould-inspired alternative/post-punk rock infused in this particular recipe of high energy, shouty-vocaled hard rock.

A few highlights: The cheeky riff in “Brass bones” (track 3).

  • The opening riff from “Diet of worms” (track 4) with its slightly acidic phrasing and the full-on chorus. I could probably listen to that all day, to be honest.
  • “Pillar of salt” (track 5) is a pounding, plodding behemoth – like the hardcore equivalent of Metallica’s “Sad but true”.
  • The complete change of pace in the dirgeful “The ghost hand” (track 6).
  • “Harvest” (track 7). All of it. It is epic, uncomfortable, melancholic, angry, relentless and strangely beautiful.
  • “Tertogen” (track 11) is a wonderful closer that draws this collection to a fine conclusion.

Conclusion

There are not many albums that make me smile involuntarily while listening to them on first listen, but this was definitely one. This is inventive, creative, exploratory and downright exciting. It’s not perfect but I fully expect it to grow on me and with me.

Review score: 96%

Steroid Freak Pussy—Conquer and Divide (2008)

Steroid Freak Pussy—Conquer and Divide (2008)

Steroid Freak Pussy—Conquer and Divide (2008)

Details

Recorded at the Old Chapel by Gavin Johnson. Mixed and mastered at V-Edition Studios by Gavin Johnson. Produced by Gavin Johnson and Steroid Freak Pussy.

Website | Twitter

Band

  • Tommy Shan—Vocals
  • Lee Coates—Guitars and backing vocals
  • Lizard—Guitars and backing vocals
  • Craig Dougan—Bass and backing vocals
  • Tony “MEatball” Batley—Drums, percussion and backing vocals

Additional musicians

  • Anneka Latta—Vocals on “Nitroglycerine” (track 3)
  • Mr Pete Shaw—Vocals on “Suicide nation” (track 4)
  • Sweeney Todd—Vocals on “Shut your mouth” (track 6)

Tracks

  1. Pussy blowout
  2. Fire your guns
  3. Nitroglycerine
  4. Suicide nation
  5. Wrong side of right
  6. Shut your mouth

Review

With the chorus of the opening song “Pussy blowout” (track 1) including the line “Everybody wants a little bit of pussy / Everybody needs a little bit of pussy” it’s quite clear  — as if the band’s name itself wasn’t enough of a clue — that UK sleaze rockers Steroid Freak Pussy are going down the in-your-face sexual imagery path of the likes of WASP, Faster Pussycat and Mötley Crüe.

It’s not really my thing really, either the lyrics or the music. That said, there is a bit of a Warrior Soul sound lurking in there somewhere but the cheap lyrics put it off for me, to be honest.

“Fire your guns” (track 2) is an energetic rocker that would probably sound great blasted loudly on the motorway. It’s probably my favourite track on the EP, but that’s not really saying much, to be honest.

“Nitroglycerine” (track 3) is built around a start-stop riff that is planted firmly in the sleaze rock genre, and features Anneka Latta’s vocals on the chorus (or pre-chorus).

“Suicide nation” (track 4) has a punk vibe and chugs along cheerily but there isn’t much to it. “Wrong side of right” (track 5) reminds me a little of early Motörhead in its attitude but it doesn’t have enough of a riff to interest me. It’s sleaze-by-numbers,

“Shut your mouth” (track 6) opens promisingly with a chugging riff and pounding drums. Alongside “Fire your guns” this is probably one of the strongest songs on the disc, but despite the strong intro it fails to deliver much during the verses,

Conclusion

This album wasn’t really for me. I was never really into glam or sleaze metal. This has a very 80s LA feel to it, in attitude if not entirely musical content. They weren’t so close to Warrior Soul (a band that I’ve seen live and would rank among my favourites) to redeem them for me. Thankfully the overly sexualized lyrics didn’t extend far beyond the opening track but by then they’d done their damage.

Review score: 45%

Stampin’ Ground—A New Darkness Upon Us (2003)

Stampin' Ground—A New Darkness upon Us (2003)

Stampin’ Ground—A New Darkness upon Us (2003)

Details

Produced, engineering, mixed and mastered by Andy Sneap. Recorded in the summer of 2003 at Backstage Productions, Derbyshire.

Encyclopaedia Metallum | Facebook

Band

  • Adam Frakes-Sime—Vocals
  • Scott Atkins—Guitar
  • Antony “Mobs” Mowbray—Guitar
  • Ian Glasper—Bass
  • Neil Hutton—Drums

Tracks

  1. A new darkness upon us (intro) (instrumental)
  2. Don’t need a reason to hate
  3. Behind the light
  4. Killer of society
  5. Dead from the neck up
  6. The cage
  7. Bear the scars
  8. Betrayal has a face
  9. Pain is weakness (leaving the body)
  10. Unmarked grave
  11. Ashes to scatter
  12. Mantra of a dying world (outro)

Review

I’m running hugely behind on reviews this autumn and for some reason I really thought  I had already written this review. Probably because I’ve listened to this album more than probably any other album I’ve reviewed during this project. It sat in my car CD player for weeks. Last.fm tells me that I’ve played 90 Stampin’ Ground tracks in the last 90 days; they are my fourth most-played band in the last six months.

This was one of those albums that hit a chord with me on my first play through. Stampin’ Ground from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire here in the UK play fusion of hardcore and thrash. Imagine Exodus, Slayer, Hatebreed and Biohazard forming a supergroup and you more or less have their sound down to a tee.

A New Darkness Upon Us (2003) is the band’s fourth, and to date, last full-length album. According to Encyclopaedia Metallum the band formed in 1995 then took a hiatus from 2006 until 2014 when they reformed. I’d definitely love to hear both their back catalogue and whatever they might release next.

Conclusion

Keeping with my tradition of writing really short reviews for the albums that I love most, I find myself writing the conclusion already.

This is an album I could listen to on repeat for days – and have done. While the album isn’t entirely perfect, I can’t but give it a full 10/10: the flaws just don’t seem important enough to quibble over. I can see me listening to this album for a long time yet.

It is discoveries like this one that makes me love this project and probably is why I am running behind on reviews (it’s currently early October): I just don’t want it to end.

Review score: 100%

Soldiers—End of Days (2007)

Soldiers—End of Days (2007)

Soldiers—End of Days (2007)

Details

Recorded, mixed and mastered by Joe Cincotta and Dan Kennyat Full Force Studio. Produced by Joe Cincotta, Danny Kenny and T$S.

Band

  • Rick Limenez—Vocals
  • Brian AudleyGuitar
  • Chris Mazella—Guitar
  • Andrew Jones—Bass
  • Dan Bourke—Drums
  • John Moore—Guest vocals on “Even worse”.
  • Jeff Tiu—Guest vocals on “Damage is done”
  • Brendan Garrone—Guest vocals on “Since day one”

Tracks

  1. Even worse
  2. Sever ties
  3. The reclamation
  4. Decide and conquer
  5. Choosing revenge
  6. Relentless
  7. Bound by defiance (T$S)
  8. Damage is done
  9. Nothing more, nothing less
  10. Own up!
  11. Since day one
  12. Smoke and mirrors
  13. Living hell (bonus track)

Review

Every time I come across a hardcore album I’m always surprised at how much I like it. My average score for hardcore albums on this project is 73%. I perhaps should just accept that I’m a bit of an unconscious hardcore punk fan.

I like hardcore punk.
I like hardcore punk.
I like hardcore punk.
I like hardcore punk.

That should help. Until I listen to the next hardcore album, of course. I should turn this into a film: 50 First Hardcore Punk Albums starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore.

Anyway, with that little bit of amnesia over, the album.

Soldiers are a hardcore band from Long Island in New York, formed in 2006 from the ashes of This Is Hell, Subterfuge, Last Conviction, and The Backup Plan. Following a debut EP in May 2006, this follow-up from December 2007 remains their only full-length album.

And do you know what? It’s good. If anything, it is let down a little by the mix. It often feels like it was recorded with the microphones in the wrong room or facing the wrong way, and the lead vocals are a little hidden in the mix. But otherwise the album is full of energy and contains all the key constituent parts required for a solid hardcore album: punchy bass sound, thrashy guitars with a good mid-range sound, shouty vocals with enthusiastic crowd-fueled choruses.

The songs are also typically and appreciatively short. “Nothing more, nothing less” (track 9) is only 53 seconds long and definitely proves the less is more rule. None of 13 tracks outstay their welcome. They come in, do their job, and they are done!

The only anomaly is the final track, “Living hell” (track 13) which is a rap track. Like, straight-out rap. Not crossover. Rap. I’ll just leave that there. Rap.

Conclusion

Unsurprisingly, given my newly acquired awareness of my love of hardcore punk. I liked this album. With a clearer and more balanced mix it might be better, but as it is, it rocks!

Review score: 90%

Solanaceae—Solanaceae (2008)

Solanaceae—Solanaceae (2008)

Solanaceae—Solanaceae (2008)

Details

Descended and handed down in Copenhagen around 1997 and consecrated in Bornholm in 2007-2008. Recorded at Soundscape Studio, Copenhagen, as well as Texas, Washington and Berlin between 2007 and 2008. Mixed and mastered at Soundscape Studio, Copenhagen in June 2008. Engineered by Louise Nipper.

Band

  • Kim Larsen—Vocals, guitars, keyboards, organ, glockenspiel, percussion
  • Michael Laird—Appalachian dulcimer, recorder and glockenspiel, backing vocals
  • Fenella Overgaard—Whispers in the apple grove
  • Anne Eltard—Violin and backing vocals
  • Louise Nipper—Backing vocals
  • Pythagamus Marshall—Singing bowls, recorder, bodhran, and percussion
  • Chelsea Robb—Vocals
  • William Wiegard—French horn
  • Jonathan van der Lieth—Vocals
  • Vincent Farrow—Accordion

Tracks

  1. I saw them through the pines / they only walk on moss
  2. Through the trees spears the sun
  3. Fenella
  4. The blood of my lady
  5. O deep woods
  6. Nakkiel II
  7. Midnight garden
  8. Samorost
  9. The blood of my lady II
  10. Hemlock and mandrake fields
  11. The swallows spirals through them
  12. Nihil sum
  13. I saw her through the trees

Review

With an album cover that looks like it has been taken from a medieval edition of Where’s Wally (that’s Where’s Waldo for our North American viewers) I perhaps should have anticipated this being a folk album (neo-folk or dark folk, for those into more defined sub-genres), but having listened to this album on and off for the last three weeks I’m now up to speed.

Of all the other albums I’ve reviewed to date, this can be most compared to Splinterskin—Wayward Souls (2009). But it’s much, much less spooky. This album I wouldn’t think twice about playing in the dark.

The whole album is very acoustic (as opposed to electric) in nature. The songs are formed around acoustic guitars with accompanying flourishes played on violin, glockenspiel, Appalachian dulcimer, recorder (but more Stairway to Heaven than primary school music class), accordion, and bodhran. It’s a very gentle album but mildly dark in places… just like human nature, I guess.

The opening track “I saw them through the pines / they only walk on moss” (track 1) is built around a repeating, descending chord progression with gentle vocals that at times whisper “I saw them through the pines”… which I’m hoping is some kind of happen-chance romantic encounter and not a medieval-sounding ballad to stalking.

“Through the trees spears the sun” (track 2) is a beautiful song, in a similar nature to the previous. Instrumental “Fenella” (track 3) opens with a very pretty high, picked arpeggio that makes it sound like a harp, over which are blown recorders.

“The blood of my lady” (track 4) is a song that makes a reappearance later in the album (track 9). I still haven’t worked out what it means. Has she been injured? Or put to death? Or is it some kind  of medieval homage to menstruation? Whatever it is, it’s still pretty dark.

“O deep woods” (track 5) features a reverb-heavy female vocalist that gives the song an other-worldly feel. It’s here that we venture more closely towards Splinterskin. It’s a beautiful song, though.

“Nakkiel II” (track 6) has some pace and a bit of life. Like sunshine filling an otherwise shaded forest. This song should have been called “Through the trees spears the sun”! French horn, glockenspiel. This instrumental song has it all.

“Midnight garden” (track 7) is one of the most stereotypical medieval songs on the album. You can imagine the court at dance to this one. Instrumental “Samorost” (track 8) follows suit: more dancing please. Samorost, seemingly is a Czech word used to describe objects that have been sculpted from discarded wood..

“Hemlock and mandrake fields” (track 10) features an accordion. Now, I usually can’t stand the sound of accordions (ever since one chased me down the road when I was a little child!) but it works here, although it does little more than pad out chords.

“The swallows spirals through them” (track 11) is another beautiful track. The melody played on violin spirals like smoke into the sky. And the lyrics haunt:

There’s a vault in the woods
And a throne of moss
A crown of black caress
And a spell of emptiness
They all have black hole eyes
Their voice between the mist and the moor
The swallows spirals through them
The swallows spirals through them

“Now that the blackbird took my eyes” sings the opening line of “Nihil sum” (track 12). Things are getting weird now. This is the song that jars most on the album, and feels a little out of place.

The album closes with a redux of the opening track, this time “I saw her through the pines” (track 13). A gentle end to a gentle album.

Conclusion

This has been quite a lovely album to live with over the last few months. It is gentle but in places dark. I’m not sure we can truly claim that it is metal but it does have some of the attitude of metal, and there are elements that wouldn’t go amiss on an Opeth album, so we’ll let it pass this once.

I’ve really enjoyed this album. It has emotional depth. It is interesting. And quite, quite beautiful.

Review score: 98%

Serial Obsession—Serial Obsession (2008)

Serial Obsession—Serial Obsession (2005)

Serial Obsession—Serial Obsession (2008)

Details

Written, performed and produced by Serial Obsession. Engineed and co-produced by Rob Fillmore. Recorded at Mercy Sound Studios, New York, NY.

Website | Facebook

Band

  • Shawn—Vocals and guitar
  • Suozzi—Guitars
  • Jason—Bass
  • T.Motts—Drums

Tracks

  1. Here we come
  2. Let’s go
  3. Surrender
  4. Grey
  5. Say goodbye
  6. Pushing the stone

Review

It’s really not that often that I don’t particularly enjoy a rock album, but unfortunately that’s what I’m faced with here.

With only six tracks and clocking in at a little over 21 minutes, this EP includes five mid-paced songs and one slower, ballad-esque track (“Surrender”).

It’s not just one thing that puts me off this album, it’s a combination of things from the repetitive riffs (between songs as much is within songs) and song-writing, guitar tone (a very harsh, saw-blade tone), the lyrics, the vocals (rather Doors-like), and the production.

The ballad-like “Surrender” (track 3) is probably the most listenable track for me on this release but even then I can’t quite bring myself to say that it’s my favourite.

Conclusion

This isn’t a bad EP per se. It’s just not my cup of tea (or rather it is, since I don’t drink tea). I just found it rather uninspiring, a bit ‘acidic’ in places and so rather unpalatable. Sorry guys: it’s not you, it’s me.

Review score: 40%