PREVIEW: Haema—Insurrection EP (2017)

Haema—Insurrection EP (2017)

Haema—Insurrection EP (2017)

About

Debut EP recorded at Initiate Audio & Media by Neil Hudson (Krysthla/Gutworm). Due for release in July 2017.

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Band

  • Jordon Calderwood—Vocals
  • Andrzej Jakubiuk—Guitar
  • Scott Stephenson—Bass
  • David Flitt—Drums

Tracks

  1. Eden
  2. Free Man
  3. Insurrection
  4. Thirte3n
  5. Two Minds

Review

So the email arrives and asks me if I’d be kind enough to review Haema’s forthcoming EP Insurrection. Sure! I’m always up for listening to new music. And then I listened to the preview. BLOODY HELL! THIS IS BRILLIANT!

Haema, a four-piece from Northamptonshire, UK, describe themselves as an experimental, industrialised, groove metal band. But that really doesn’t do them justice. Think: Rage Against the Machine meets Senser meets Circle of Dust meets Clawfinger. But heavier. Okay, let’s throw in some Fear Factory. Brilliant!

The EP opens with Eden (track 1). “What is the point of your existence?” a man asks. “To feel […] without love, without anger, without sorrow, breath is just a clock ticking.” A woman’s voice speaks above a soundscape. Then the riff kicks in. It’s tight and heavy. Jordon Calderwood’s vocals fluctuate between a Zack de la Rocha-style rap/rant and a metalcore-style bark. The song is both in your face and ponderous. There is space, plenty of space, plenty of depth and width to this song. It stops and starts and never ceases to be interesting.

Free man (track 2) rides a bouncy riff right from the get-go that morphs into a rap. “Now you can see / I’m not a puppet on a string / You know, I’m a free man…” The song is aggressive and melodic. It has an urgency and integrity that makes me believe without a shadow of a doubt that he is free.

The title track Insurrection (track 3) opens with the sound of an alarm—if Depeche Mode were in the alarm sound design business. Then a more traditional metal-style riff bursts in. It chugs along, steadily. And every time my head bounces in time to the beat. The vocals in this song remind me at times of early Mordred. There is a fragility about it, which is echoed in the guitar solo about three-quarters of the way through.

Damn! I could listen to this EP all day.

Thirte3n (track 4) is probably the most in-your-face metal track on the EP. It has a repetitive, blast-beat riff that sounds like someone is drilling through granite. The verses have this machine-gun burst riff. It’s interesting and gives the song movement. Then over the top of the carnage there is the most fragile and subtle of light melodies, like a butterfly floating across a battlefield.

The final track Two minds (track 5) is slower, more ponderous: a call and reply style riff that gives way to another RATM-style riff. It starts and. Stops. As it. Twists and turns. Following the. Rhythm of the. Vocals.

Conclusion

Haema EP coming soon

From my first play through of this extraordinary EP I’ve loved this collection of music. Sure people are going to make immediate comparisons to Rage Against The Machine and Senser, as I have done.  But that doesn’t detract from the quality of the playing, or the songwriting, or the production. Listen to the first two albums from Slayer—they wanted to be Mercyful Fate and King Diamond; Metallica played their first few years of gigs passing off Diamond Head and Budgie songs as their own until they found their own voice.

Given the chance Haema will also find their own distinct voice. But as a starting point, this is nearly perfect. I haven’t felt this excited by a not-entirely-metal release in a long time. I had the same burst of adrenaline and excitement listening to this as I did listening to Senser’s Stacked Up album in 1994. This album makes me smile and nod my head along to it for all the right reasons.

More like this please.

Review score: 100%

Bonus video

Disclaimer

In mid-June, Scott Stephenson (Haema’s bassist) contacted me inviting me to preview this EP.

I have no connections to Haema or any related companies or individuals; although I am a big fan of producer Neil Hudson’s previous work. I’m not being paid to review this.

Many thanks to Scott and the rest of Haema.

The Shizit—Live at Club Spirit (2008)

The Shizit—Live at Club Spirit (2008)

The Shizit—Live at Club Spirit (2008)

Details

Tracks 1 to 4 originally recorded on 13 September 2000 and released on mp3.com. Unreleased until 2008.

Band

  • J.P. Anderson—vocals, guitars, programming
  • Brian Shrader—guitars, backup vocals, samples

Tracks

  1. 32-bit whore (live)
  2. Anti-culture (live)
  3. Point click kill (live)
  4. Firewall (live)
  5. Audio jihad II (slip mix) *
  6. Anti-culture (slip mix) *
  7. Dear government (slip mix) *
  8. Just one fix (ministry cover) *

*bonus tracks

Review

Out of sheer laziness, I’ll hand the introduction to Wikipedia to cover the salient points:

The Shizit was a digital hardcore act from Seattle, Washington, USA, initially formed by J.P. Anderson and Brian Shrader in 1999. The music was an intense mix of gabber, breakbeat, drum and bass, hardcore techno, hardcore and heavy metal guitars, amped up with aggressive political lyrics.” (Source)

I expect that this genre of music would go down well in the bangin’ clubs and discotheques the length and breadth of the country. It is fast paced with heavy bass and rapid drum beats. This is music for dancing to, not sitting listening to. Ironically, though, if I was in a club (say, if I’d had a personality change) then I would probably prefer to sit and listen to the music, and analyse it than simply be carried away by its frantic beats.

Of all the tracks, I enjoyed only the final “Just one fix”. I found myself thinking, “This sounds like a Ministry song”. It is a Ministry song. That’ll be why, then.

Conclusion

I didn’t really connect with this album too much. And with the accompanying DVD even less. Sorry, it’s not you, it’s me.

Review score: 40%

Twenty Ripped Angel—Days Full of Night (2004)

Twenty Ripped Angel—Days Full of Night (2004)

Twenty Ripped Angel—Days Full of Night (2004)

Details

Recorded at Invisible Sound Studios. Produced by Twenty Ripped Angel and Dave Nachodsky. Engineered by Dave Nachodsky. Released on Lime Records, 2004.

Website

Band

Information gleaned from elsewhere, I hope it’s correct.

  • Fritz T. Fell—Vocals
  • W. Sawczuk—Guitar
  • Cyril Charles—Bass
  • Rob Rabon—Keyboards and programming
  • S. Von Ziegler—Drums

Tracks

  1. One the way to Hell
  2. Here comes the losers
  3. Horror ride
  4. Sweet endeavors
  5. Somewhere in you
  6. She died a virgin
  7. Beautiful nothing
  8. Never ending joy
  9. Sixth
  10. The other side of me
  11. Solution 77

Review

This review has been a long time coming. I don’t think I’ve listened to an album to review quite as often as this one. There’s been a lot going down in my life just now on many levels, so I’ve been somewhat rather preoccupied with those things and not my CD collection. I’m playing catch-up once again.

But this has been a rather special CD to have as the soundtrack to these, at times, dark days. Days full of night, indeed.

Twenty Ripped Angel, on the giant Venn diagram of metal bands, fall somewhere in the area reserved by Killing Joke, Murder Inc., Circle of Dust (aka Brainchild), Ministry, and  Crowforce. This is the human edge to industrial music.

The album opens with Fell spitting out the lyrics “the devil was born in California”. Driving drums, and distorted guitars pound out the track, guitar solos cutting through the audio landscape like circular saws.

“Here comes the losers” (track 2) has a more staccato vibe that reminds me of Murder Inc. It has quite a punk feel to it.

“Somewhere in you” (track 4) has a relentlessly repetitive guitar riff that sounds somewhere between some kind of dangerous high voltage electrical equipment and a power saw. I love tracks like this.

“Beautiful nothing” (track 7) is another track with a terrific quirky riff. “Sixth” (track 9) also bounces you through the song.

Conclusion

That’s the curious thing about album. Just as you are about to dismiss the album as having run out of ideas, and about to label a track as a bit of a filler… it twists and surprises you. There is enough certainly to keep me interested from start to finish.

Even on my first couple of albums it felt like this album had always been in my collection. It just seems to fit somehow. Another keeper.

Review score: 89%

 

Deuterror—Le Gueule de Guerre (2007)

Deuterror—Le Gueule de Guerre (2007)

Deuterror—Le Gueule de Guerre (2007)

Details

Released 1 June 2007 on Steelwork Maschine.

Band

  • Nicolas Crombez (aka Deuterror)—One man project from Belgium

Tracks

  1. Untitled I
  2. Untitled II
  3. Untitled III
  4. Untitled IV
  5. Untitled V
  6. Untitled VI
  7. Untitled VII
  8. Untitled VIII
  9. Untitled IX

Review

This is Nicolas Crombez’s third album under the moniker Deuterror, the first two being internet-only releases.

The album title “Le Gueule de Guerre” is French for “The Mouth of War”.

I think I’m probably stretching boundaries quite a bit to categorise this album as metal, but we’ll run with it. It’s hard to pigeonhole exactly (which is always a good sign in my book). It’s broadly dark, ambient / drone / industrial.

The album certainly has a cinematic feel to it. Like the soundtrack to a really bleak, post-apocalyptic movie. It’s subtle, it’s atmospheric, and I really enjoyed it.

In a way it reminded me a bit of Towering Inferno‘s album Kadesh, but with the atmosphere of the soundtrack for Dear Esther.

Nine untitled tracks, which Last.fm helpfully labelled with Roman numerals, so I have followed suit. Here are my notes on the nine tracks:

  1. Insects. Pulsing bass.
  2. Pulsing electrical arcs. Train. Bells. Organ trumpets.
  3. Aircraft flying over. Rocket. Dischordant. Horns. Horrific choir.
  4. Rain. Thunder. Train. Birds. Someone walking breaking twigs.
  5. Deep horn. Mellotron. Gunshots. Distortion.
  6. Suffering voice. Growling bass.
  7. Strings. Chorus. Guitar and organ.
  8. Choir.
  9. Scraping tools. Drum beats.

And there it is. 43 minutes and 55 seconds worth of various noises.

Conclusion

I rather liked this album. It’s interesting, it’s experimental, at times uncomfortable, always challenging.

Review score: 94%

Rammstein—Mutter (2001)

Rammstein—Mutter (2001)

Rammstein—Mutter (2001)

Details

Music and lyrics by Rammstein: Christoph Doom Schneider, Doktor Christian Lorenz, Richard Z Kruspe-Bernstein, Till Lindemann, Paul Landers, Oliver Ridel. Produced by Jacob Hellner with Rammstein. Mixed by Stefan Glaumann at MVG Studio, Stockholm, Sweden. Recorded at Studio Miravel, France. Engineered by Ulf Kruckenberg, assisted by Myriam Correge. Mastered by Howie Weinberg at Masterdisk Corporation, New York. Pre-production at “Haus Weimer”, Heiligendamm, Germany. Additional recordings at Galaxy Studios, Belgium and Nukleus Studio, Berlin, Germany.

Band

  • Till Lindemann—Lead vocals
  • Christoph Doom Schneider—Drums, electronic percussion, percussion
  • Doktor Christian Lorenz—Keyboards, samples, synthesizers
  • Richard Z Kruspe-Bernstein—Lead guitar, backing vocals
  • Paul Landers—Rhythm guitar, backing vocals
  • Oliver Ridel—Bass guitar

Tracks

  1. Mein Herz Brennt (Burn my heart)
  2. Links 2 3 4 (Left 2 3 4)
  3. Sonne (Sun)
  4. Ich Will (I Want)
  5. Feuer Frei! (Fire at Will!)
  6. Mutter (Mother)
  7. Spieluhr (Music box)
  8. Zwitter (Hermaphrodite)
  9. Rein Raus (In Out)
  10. Adios (Goodbye)
  11. Nebel (Fog)

Review

Almost all metal bands, regardless of where they come from, choose to sing in English. Sepultura come from Brasil, speak Portuguese, sing in English. Opeth come from Sweden, speak Swedish, sing in English. Kreator come from Germany, speak German, sing in English. I think the only two bands that I have in my collection who do speak in their native tongues are Su Ta Gar whose lyrics are in Euskera (Basque) and this one: Rammstein.

I was surprised when I went to rip this album to MP3 to listen to it for this project that I already owned it. I fetched the other CD copy from my shelves and sat them side by side on my desk: two little twin babies. My other little twin babies, who are now nearly five, wandered into the study. “What’s that?! Oh… we’re twins,” he said with some delight.

I can’t remember when I first got into Rammstein. Probably while I was living in Edinburgh and had ready access to MTV on Telewest cable. I discovered Muse then too (sorry!) and N.E.R.D. (it was really just the one track, honest!). They are #39 on my all-time Last.fm chart of most-played bands with an impressive 559 tracks. By the end of this review they will likely have climbed to #37.

Theirs is a melodic, industrial sound. Wikipedia classes them as Neue Deutsche Härte (new German hardness); Encyclopedia Metallum doesn’t even list them, which seems a bit harsh. Whenever I listen to them I can’t help but visualise their stage show: all flames and power tools and ridiculously comical stunts. Their show perfectly matches the darkness and humour and hardness of their music.

Mutter is Rammstein’s third album and… well, just like all their others, I really, really like it. I have no idea what they are singing most of the time, but it sounds strong and metal! Some of the songs are obviously—despite the language barrier—tongue-in-cheek and suggestive: “Rein Raus” (In Out).

The album, however, closes with one of the most heart-breakingly beautiful songs I’ve ever heard: “Nebel” (Fog):

They stand with their arms tightly around each other
a mixture of flesh, so rich in days
where the sea touches the land
she wants to tell him the truth.

 

But the wind eats her words

where the sea ends
she holds his hand, trembling
and kissed him on the forehead.

 

She carries the evening in her chest
and knows that she must wither away
she lays her head in his lap
and asks for a last kiss.

 

And then he kissed her
where the sea ends
her lips, delicate and pale
and his eyes tear up.

 

The last kiss was so long ago
the last kiss
he does not remember it any more.

Conclusion

A solid album from a fabulous band. It scores almost full marks from me.

Review score: 98%

Video

Godflesh—Streetcleaner (1989)

Godflesh—Streetcleaner (1989)

Godflesh—Streetcleaner (1989)

Details

Side one recorded/mixed at Soundcheck in Birmingham, May—August 1989. Engineered by Paul Gault. Produced by Godflesh. Side two recorded/mixed at Square Dance in Derby,  May 1989. Engineered by Rick Peet. Produced by Godflesh. Visuals Godflesh.

Band

  • Justin Broadrick—Guitar, vocals
  • Paul Neville—Guitar (side two only)
  • G Christian Green—Bass
  • Machine—Rhythm

Tracks

  1. Like rats
  2. Christbait rising
  3. Pulp
  4. Dream long dead
  5. Head dirt
  6. Devastator/Mighty trust krusher
  7. List is easy
  8. Streetcleaner
  9. Locust furnace
  10. Tiny tears *
  11. Would *
  12. Dead head *
  13. Suction *

* Bonus tracks

Review

Guitarist Justin Broadrick left pioneer grindcore metal band Napalm Death in 1987 to become drummer for the noise rock/stoner band Head of David (who, incidentally, reformed in 2009). He then went on to form Godflesh with his good friend GC Green, putting out first a self-titled EP, and then in 1989 this album, Streetcleaner.

This is one of my favourite albums, ever. It is also, without a doubt, the perfect album for writing code to. It has a steady, upbeat pace; its white noise is surprisingly relaxing; and best of all, it helps cut out all external noise and doesn’t itself distract. Perfect!

This is the album that really introduced me to industrial metal. For this is the to industrial metal as Slayer’s Reign in Blood is to thrash. It simply doesn’t get better than this.

I did actually own the t-shirt, back in the day.

Funnily enough, in the 24 years that I’ve been listening to this album, today is the first time that I’ve looked up the lyrics. Some I’ve been singing along to all this time: “You breed like rats” (from ‘Like Rats’); “Don’t hold me back, This is my own hell” (from ‘Christbait Rising’); “Corruption, In the goat herd / Flesh crumbles, In the real world” (from ‘Locust Furnace’). But I’ve never read them before written down. It’s not the picture of a happy world.

I remember my friend Max and I sitting discussing the lyrics and song titles. What, or who, was the streetcleaner? A man who cleans the streets… of people… with a gun? Does the fiery orange cover suggest some kind of global nuclear destruction? Is this simply about humanity itself (“Don’t look back / You were dead from the beginning”), slowly killing ourselves through our own ignorant actions:

Life
Our life
My life
Is expendable
What do you care?

—’Life is easy’

Conclusion

This is one of my perfect albums. I’ve owned it on cassette. I’ve owned and worn the t-shirt. I now have it on CD. Twice. If you haven’t listened to it, drop what you’re doing and listen to it below.

Review score: 100%

Video

Chaos Blood—Fragments of a Shattered Skull (2007)

Chaos Blood—Fragments Of A Shattered Skull (2007)

Chaos Blood—Fragments Of A Shattered Skull (2007)

Details

Recorded, mixed and produced by Mark Mynett at Mynetaur Studios. Drums and vocals recorded by Pete Miles at Forge Hill. Mastered by John Blamire at Digital Audio Co. Released on Siege of Amida Records on 25 June 2007.

Tracks

  1. Bossanova Massacre
  2. Morbid Creation
  3. Raised By Wolves
  4. Shibiddy Bop
  5. Fragments Of A Shattered Skull
  6. Compulsive Urge
  7. Cranial Manouevre
  8. Hillbilly Acid Test
  9. Levitation Technique
  10. Redundant

Review

There are some albums that you just get into immediately; something about them just resonates with you. Others take a bit more work before you finally ‘get’ what it’s all about. Sometimes it’s just about putting in the hours and listening to it again and again, other times it’s about listening to the tracks out of order—which is what I needed to do for Mastodon’s last album— or simply listening to the album in a different context (listening in the car or on an MP3 player rather than a stereo).

It was while listening to this album one night in bed on my phone that it finally made a little more sense to me. Maybe this is a good lesson that I need to listen to each album on this project at least once out loud on my PC’s speakers and once on headphones before I make a judgement.

This is the first and only full-length album from now-disbanded Hampshire death metal/grindcore (deathcore?) unit Chaos Blood and it’s not a bad release, to be honest.

The album has some good riffs, breakdowns, and decent growling death-metal vocals that aren’t too monotonous. That said, the whole album does sound rather same-y. One song often blends into the next with little variation. A brutal onslaught of distorted guitars and drums interspersed with moments of genuine interest.

One exception is track three, “Raised by Wolves” which slows things down, kicking things off with a lamentful, descending riff for 30 seconds before unleashing a wall of noise that then morphs into a start-stop bouncing riff around 58 seconds in. It’s interesting, it’s even rather fun.

Another favourite is the title track, “Fragments of a Shattered Skull” which has a nice melodic guitar break about a minute into its 4:39 length which then twists into an almost acoustic jam, reminiscent of one of Soulfly’s self-titled offerings, before finishing off in the realms of Iron Maiden.

“Cranial Manouevre”, track 7, kicks off with an un-metal drum pattern and bass riff that reminds me a little of industrial band Circle of Dust. Around 54 seconds in Chaos Blood return to their roots with a bit of a deathcore rant. Throughout the rest of the song there are moments where they hint at taking another direction, but these turn out to be short breathers before continuing with the relentless, machine gun riffs.

The penultimate track “Levitation Technique” feels a bit more like a traditional death metal song with some imaginative solos around a third of the way in, and an opening riff that repeats a various points throughout the track. The second half of the song slows down into an almost industrial beat and then all of a sudden at 2 minutes 40 seconds the machine dies and the track ends. Brilliant!

In terms of lyrics… I have no idea! But on an album like this I always treat the vocals as another percussive instrument.

Conclusion

I must have listened to this album about ten times by now and I quite like it. Whether that’s just because I’ve been worn down by the barrage of blast beats or because I genuinely like it, I’m still not entirely sure.

It’s a shame that Chaos Blood split up after only one album. I’d have liked to have heard where they went next. They do the grindcore/deathcore thing very competently, but at times the playing-at-220-bpm parts feels like padding. For me, the real interest in this album lies in those moments when you can hear the band’s personalities and influences shining through: the slowed down parts, the stop-start riffs, the death metal solos, the bouncing riffs, and melodies.

Individually, a lot of the tracks are very good. But together, I still don’t quite understand the statement that is being made. I still haven’t fully experienced the journey. As an exercise, it would be interesting to reorder the tracks and see what a difference it makes. I suspect that this is much better album in the ‘wrong’ order.

Review score: 70%

Bonus

I couldn’t find any of the tracks I mentioned above on YouTube, here’s the only one I could find as part of a compilation.