Author: Dylan Chadwick


Join the Dots

Heavenly Recordings

Street: 12.10.13

TOY = Tame Impala + Holograms + Pulp

London’s TOY have already kicked up a stir across the pond, getting themselves on a number of high-ranking “Best Of” lists with their 2012 self-titled debut. Join the Dots furthers the idea of “psyche-meets-Kraut” by throwing out huge, psych-y dollops of fuzz-tone and synth warbling and then, through long and spacey mid-sections, peeling back the gazey veneer to reveal a churning and mechanic underbelly. It’s in the persistent thrum of the title track, the “spaceship landing” sequence in “Conductor,” the plaintive, melting quality of “Endlessly,” “Left to Wander”’s New Order–esque composition. It’s a captivating result, drawing listeners into something that’s explosive and persistent that ebbs and meanders with a metronomic conviction. It’s all-encompassing. It’s danceable. It’s got hooks for days. What more can you really ask for? It’s sure to make more critical lists in the future—this is space-post-punk done right. –Dylan Chadwick

Drippin/Deep Architecture
Critical Heights
Street: 07.23
Honeyslide = Weed Hounds + JAMC
This double A-side bucks most retro-brain nu-gaze trends by not trying too hard to ape MBV, and just sort of arrives there nonchalantly. Drippin comes from the garage, and not strictly Loveless—a discordant twee punctuates the occasional stretch of bliss, particularly on “Deep Architecture,” which drives itself into oblivion with the same guitar warbling of the indie-rock axegods Mascis and Moore. Four songs cuts it a tad short—these things generally need an hour to unfold—but cogent songwriting and enough sprawl to beckon conscious listeners into its shallow K-hole means the record is catchy and replayable where it needs to be. Though it always comes back to Earth in the end, it’s willing to stray from its own path for a titch. –Dylan Chadwick


IV: Empires Collapse
Century Media
Street: 10.29
Warbringer = Kreator + South of Heaven–era Slayer
Re-jiggering the lineup to include Jeff Potts and Ben Mottsman (of Mantic Ritual) has seemingly infused Warbringer with a newfound experimentalism. Though Empires Collapse is certainly a capital “T” Thrash record, it also incorporate more doom, punk and even industrial influences than any previous record, as made evident on ominous pounders like “The Turning of the Gears” and “Leviathan.” For those hungry for the “classic” ‘bringer (an aggro take on teutonic thrash greats like Sodom and Kreator), fans will find it in spades on “Hunter-Seeker,” an album that morphs from standard thrash into some of the most grandiose guitar arrangements this side of Hammerfall. I have few complaints in terms of production (“tight as a drum, sir!”), and the leads are original and gripping like the Di’Anno-era Maiden fare, or even Mustaine-era Metallica (fight me!). I can see diehards being bummed on the clean riffing and some of the more melodic moments (like the extended end passage of “Scars Remain”), but it’s totally saved this band from becoming stagnant (“Dying Light” sounds like the grooving, post-millennial sonic cousin to Seasons in the Abyss), and left me totally ga-ga for more. –Dylan Chadwick

Flies EP
The Compound
Street: 10.01.13
Enabler = Integrity + Coliseum + late-era Entombed
Milwaukee metalli-crust cross bearers have another riotous go at H-E-A-V-Y (Their contribution to the Power of the Riff mix tape is a rager!) and achieve phenomenal results. Flies contains all the atmospheric weight, nuance and rage of a full-on heavy metal epic, manhandled into six cohesive cuts. The discordant strains of genre definers From Ashes Rise lie in the off-kilter melodies of “Shift” and “Flies,” but the band hits their stride when they slow the gallop and strut their thunderous grooves. Check the madcap riffing and primal concrete mosh of “Meaningless Life” and “Sleep Forever.” Enabler’s newest record is a thick, undulating, slithering mess of sludge-beast, far more compelling than its constituent sonic reference points. –Dylan Chadwick

Filth Lords
Keep On Snarlin’
Street Date: 12.20.12
Filth Lords = Kid Dynamite + Police-era Fucked Up + Guilt Lust

Keep On Snarlin’ is kinda ruddy. It buries the frothy bawl of singer/axeman Alex Ortega ‘neath a thick lacquer of Nick Harris’ throbbing basslines, Swiz drums from Rio Connelly and frenetic gee-tar noodling, and it’s this grit that justifies the local power trio’s “filthy” moniker. Still, it’s when the furor thins and the bawdy melodies slip through (the bar-room chant-along of “Retirement Plan,” the closer of “Blackout”) that Snarlin’ rears its head as a fine hunk of spectrum-shifting melodic metalli-punk, earnest in approach and relentless in execution. From the incessant gallop of the title track, to the veritable “1-2-3!” of the final trio of cuts (the high point being the closer, “Vapid,” which rakes itself over a few plaintive chords before belching forth into a full-blown gravel-gargling hoopla), Keep On Snarlin’ is a memorable affair. It is hook-riddled, frantic and deeply rooted in the same angular angst that slung Jawbox, Black Cross and Paint It Black into the modern punk mix. Highly recommended for all genre-fringers. –Dylan Chadwick


Poison Idea
Kings of Punk [Reissue]
Southern Lord
Street: 11.11
Poison Idea = Poison Idea
In the grand, sordid narrative of Poison Idea’s Kings of Punk (originally released in 1986), was the LP which saw these Portland dust-huff RNR gods tightening their spastic chops and honing in on a more streamlined "hard rock" sound (a sonic shift that’d eventually birth 1990s Feel the Darkness). Southern Lord’s love affair with reissuing old PI records hasn’t let up, and (for once) this reviewer isn’t complaining. These original 11 cuts (comprised of golden nuggets like "Made To Be Broken," "God Not God" and the proto-Discharge chug of "Lifestyles") all get a swift remastering (courtesy of Jack Control of World Burns to Death), three additional live sets’ worth of material (which includes plenty of acerbic Jerry A stage banter and a Motörhead cover) and extensive liner notes full to bursting with flicks, notes and archive flyers. Few hardcore bands deserve more praise than Poison Idea, and these loving reissues are a testament to that. "Trying to do the best that he can/watch this death wish boy becoming a death wish man." –Dylan Chadwick

Murder One
Patac Records
Street: 06.07.13
Rawhide = Inepsy + Motorhead + Turbonegro
This is raucous death-flected RnR monster, which clutches at its NWOBHM and D-Beat influences with equal aplomb. The band’s a semi-mystery, with precious little information available online. What we can surmise is that they’re from Sweden, they recorded their record at the famed Sunlight Studios and they did it with legendary producer Tomas Skogsberg (Entombed, Hellacopters, etc.). What this reviewer can surmise is that Murder One is a gritty, heavy metal orgy: a sweaty, leather-draped Cuisinart of hard electric blues, punk-a-metal thrust and a gummy lacquer of sleaze n’ smut. Check “City Kids,” “Habit to Support” and “On the Attack” for maximum hessian chicanery, and check any other song (seriously, any of them) for an ultimate heavy metal party jam, which won’t shit on your street-cred, but won’t repulse your girlfriend either. –Dylan Chadwick

Taedium Vitae
Southern Lord
Street: 08.06
Centuries = Tragedy + Wolfbrigade + Oathbreaker

Floridan Swedeath-ers play at misanthropy with latin song titles, stark imagery and the hum-drum casserole of D-beat, doom and crust topping most bearded blogger “best of” lists. Thing is, Taedium Vitae still underwhelms in virtually every sonic sense. Pointless atmospheric passages (meant to “give us a breather”) permeate its first half, too often obscuring a great heavy cut’s chance to keep on walloping. Not til track 7, “Grave Cordibus” (competently blending well-worn D-beat clattering with the acrid squall of later The Hope Conspiracy) do things pick up, and the record closes on a trio of vicious, yet marginally distinguishable cuts. It’s not lacking finite excellent moments (the sinewy looping riff near the end of “Servisse” or “Irrita”’s audio dopplegang-bang of Modern Life is War’s “First and Ellen” for example) but they’re too scant to justify the “taedium” comprising the record’s staid majority. –Dylan Chadwick

Strike to Survive
Yesterday’s News
Don’t Look Down Records
Street: 06.25
Strike to Survive = Kvelertak + Paint It Black + Bars
This is Nor-Cal melodi-punk with a little post-core in its DNA, along with hints of that Gravity Records screamo sound. Drums and guitar high in the mix with jagged vocals buried a little beneath makes for a compelling listen, sort of similar to Drive Like Jehu or maybe even the first Bronx album (check the Refused-via-Stooges riffing on the title track). Highlights include “Ringer,” which builds on a squall of feedback and tribal drumming before belching into a full-on, steel-wool-across-your-skin assault. While it certainly doesn’t do much to set itself apart from its predecessors, it more than makes up for it in tireless conviction (“Sore Throats”) and water-tight musicianship. Treading this perilously close to “amazing-core” territory might make this cynical reviewer run for cover, but for those who haven’t given up entirely on life, Yesterday’s News could become a recurring spin. –Dylan Chadwick
The Reserves
Made in Tennessee EP
Stik Man Records
Street: 11.25.13
The Reserves = Rose Tattoo + The 4-Skins
This is blue collar rock n’ roll from the Volunteer State. If nothing else, Made in Tennessee holds the marked distinction of featuring a punk cover of the old folk standard “Oh Shenandoah.” When it comes to Oi!, monkeying with the formula usually brings lukewarm results. The Reserves succeed by deviating sparingly (the Avail influences throughout really can’t be denied) and sticking to a fairly established rock n’ roll template, only occasionally drifting into something goofy—derivative, but competent. There’s a hard-luck track (“All Work No Pay”), a fight track (“Shitmouth”) and a boozy one about the sauce (“Bittersweet Toast”). Its melodies are tight, earnest and may swing a little too sweet for the more grizzled Oi! fans, so it’s probably best to approach the album as a straight “rock” album, and draw from it what you will. –Dylan Chadwick