If in a rare moment of lucid insanity you wondered what standing eye to eye with an electric paint stripper would be like once its switch was flicked Sparks & Spears from Irish sonic aggravators Axecatcher gives you the most vivid representation of the effect. Caustically malevolent and abrasively determined, the four track EP is an impressive and inciting fury with addiction causing sounds to back up its unbridled passion.
Hailing from Limavady, the hardcore driven trio of vocalist/guitarist Ryan Montgomery, bassist/backing vocals Colin Wilson, and drummer Danny Kane, has taken no time since forming in late 2011 in recruiting an ardent and passionate following for their heavy, intrusive, and merciless sound with acclaim not far behind especially with the release of their first single, the seven minute senses aggressor The Odalisque in the July of last year. The track drew strong attention their way which Sparks & Spears will only build upon and accelerate with its recent release via the excellent Belfast label Savour Your Scene Records digitally and as a limited cassette.
From the opening scrub of guitar bringing Circle Pit Roller Derby into focus, there is a sense of animosity and belligerence in the air but also a feeling of irresistible compulsion soon reinforced by the expulsion of squalling acidic vocals from Montgomery, punchy rhythms, and a groove which gnaws at the ear with immediate contagion. Bass and guitar make a vociferous call within the fiery assault, their temptation relatively familiar but extremely potent whilst the vocals continue to leave a raw and uncomfortable challenge to accept or fall before. The track has a rich breath of punk to its harsh muscular ferocity, like a mix of Cancer Bats and early Therapy?, and leaves the appetite burning for more which is soon rewarded with the following Seismic Toss.
Thrusting intense riffs and again crisp enslaving rhythms at the ear, the song unleashes an additional sonic scarring as deep and rich as the corrosive vocals accompanying it, all within a sturdy but less predatory rock confrontation compared to the punk attitude of its predecessor. As the song expands its persistent grazing it moves shuffles its gait without losing any of the passionate intensity and flesh peeling almost feral hunger, the track initially charging at the senses like a downhill aimed sinew clad missile before emerging as a doom lined rapacious prowl both with the equal result of full submission to its intent.
Methuselah is the best track on the release, a twisted conspiracy of deliciously infectious sonic fuelled grooves and a cleaner but still confrontational vocal attack this time from Wilson. The track is so brief, too short to be honest with an audible groan expelled here as it finishes its impressive presence in under a minute, but again shows the extent of imagination and even greater promise within Axecatcher and their songwriting. The track leaves the strongest lustful greed in tow for the EP and further tempests from the band, its evolving presence and ridiculously persuasive enterprise alone a reason for marking the band in the centre of one’s attentive radar.
The final song Youfinder also reveals further strength in the creativity of the band, its sirenesque sonic entrapment wrapped in an intense wash of melodic temptation and aggressive passion fired up further by the searing scourge of vocals from Montgomery, his touch arguably going to be a do or die encounter for many but certainly as essential to the heart of the sound as the excellently crafted music itself.
Sparks & Spears is a strongly impressive announcement of a band which has all the potential and suggested weaponry to bring a new blood and breath to hardcore. Axecatcher will also not be taking any prisoners in their destined ascent as shown by this excellent EP.
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