Sloths – Twenty Years

Main Press Photo (1)

Voracious, sludgy, uncompromising, and corrosive, all adjectives befitting the sound of US band Sloths and certainly their new EP Twenty Years. They present a thick slab of noise and intensity but also to their diversely flavoured assault and suffocation of the senses, the band explores raw melodic beauty within is just as startling in its emotive scenery. As evidenced by their new release they offer a punishingly heavy and exhausting creative offensive which at times challenges enjoyment, yet persistently it seduces with a predacious elegance to forge the most welcome physical and mental violation. It is a release which may not become your favourite release of this year but one which will spark a long term hunger for more.

Coming out of Portland, Oregon, the 2010 formed Sloths swiftly bred a sound which is as much post hardcore as it is sludge, as much noise rock and hardcore as it is any flavour you can imagine. Their sound is cauldron of noise and intensity aligned to intrusive invention, a recipe which has soaked a demo and a couple of EPs since forming, with Knives of last year a trigger to stronger attention upon the band. Now they unleash Twenty Years and it is easy to expect an even more potent response and reception to the EP’s severe ferocity. Recorded with Fester at Haywire Studios and mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege (Baptists, Sleep, Oathbreaker, Tragedy), Twenty Years uncages a trio of songs connected musically and thematically in a demanding and intimidating exploration looking at “what it means to die young, a theme influenced by the recent death of a friend and the perspective gained by seeing the aftermath of such a tragedy.” The release is immersive smog of energy and sound, a suffocation of shadows and dark emotions veined with a melodic and impassioned light which ensures the release ignites imagination and emotions as powerfully as it does ears.

The EP opens with Elegy, an immediate blaze of aggression and abrasion driven by thunderous rolling rhythms from drummer Nate Sonenfeld and a sonic cacophony cast by guitarist Kyle Bates. It is a fierce examination of the senses TwentyYearsCoverdriven by viciously raw vocals but tempered by the equally dark and imposing, but more composed assault of Alec van Staveren’s bass. The initial impact relaxes as acidic melodies begin exploring the tempest, their unpolished radiance a glimmer of respite within the still boiling climate of emotional turmoil. With grooves adding their heavy spice and imposing hooks a barbarous lure, the track is a dramatic and powerful start to the release.

The song flows into the following Void and it’s less forceful but no less intensive landscape. It is a caustic reflection musically and lyrically, sculpted by evocative melodies and those still thick set and energetic rhythms. The track is initially glazed in a reserved and ruggedly pensive climate but builds up its passion and anger to expel a range of carnivorous riffs and crippling rhythms, all the time working towards a hellacious crescendo and finale. All the time though melodies offer brief escapes and tempering to the fury uncaged and urged on by the voracity of the vocals.

Passing brings the release and emotional turbulence to a close, its initial almost blackened rage expelling torrents of angst and antagonism. The individual skills and energies of the band members converge on the senses with sonic and malicious flames throughout for a destructive satisfaction, yet there is an evolving breath and presence to the song which sees it eventually leaving on a more peaceful acceptance and grace.

Twenty Years is not an easy listen but it is a compelling and emotionally invigorating one which leaves ears and emotions more fulfilled and energised by its close whilst suggesting Sloths is a band due very close attention.

The Twenty Years EP is available through The Ghost is Clear Records, Don’t Live Like Me Records, and Illuminasity Records digitally now @ http://sloths.bandcamp.com/album/twenty-years with a Ltd Ed clear vinyl out from October 2014 and a cassette version via Death Culture Tapes soon after.

https://www.facebook.com/slothsportland

RingMaster 15/10/2014

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Stoneburner – Life Drawing

Stoneburner

A compelling destructive seduction, Life Drawing the new album from US metallers Stoneburner, casts no doubts on the suggestion that the Portland quartet is one of the most exciting prospects in aural consumption out there.  Creating a scintillating weave of doom and sludge metal with atmospheric ingenuity and melodically sculpted temptation, the band escorts and very often drags a willing imagination across intensive and fiercely enveloping landscapes under tempestuously climactic sonic skies. The album enthrals and intimidates, inciting heavily emotive reactions to its own intimately emotional yet broadly applicable investigations of the “struggle to be a decent person in a world that keeps doing its best to cause you not to be.”

Formed in 2008 by drummer Jesse McKinnon (ex-Buried Blood) and guitarist Jason Depew (Buried At Sea), who had played together in many incarnations previously, and guitarist Elijah Boland, Stoneburner unleashed their first forage of the senses with the demo V.​L.​A. the following year. The band was soon making an impacting presence and noise within the Oregon underground scene, a proposition taken to greater attention and strength by the release of debut album Sickness Will Pass in 2012 as well as over the years the band’s acclaimed live performances which have seen them play with the likes of Yob, Sleep, EYEHATEGOD, Neurosis, Buzzov-en, Weedeater, Saint Vitus, Watain, Tragedy, Noothgrush, Graves At Sea, Lord Dying, Drop Dead, Whitehorse, Wind Hand, Bastard Noise and many more. Completed by bassist Damon Kelly (also Heathen Shrine and the son of Scott Kelly of Neurosis/ Shrinebuilder fame), Stoneburner now uncages their latest infestation of the senses and psyche, an encounter which leaves the listener simultaneously suffocated and invigorated.

Opening track Some Can smothers ears and senses from its first breath, a sonic breeze pulling in a thick and thuggishly textured collapse of NR088_STONEBURNER_frontcover_hi-res (1)antagonistic rhythms and prowling lumbering riffery. The track continues to slowly ravage air and recipient until the entrance of the vocals sparks a spurt of adrenaline and urgency to the persistently uncomfortable and demanding intent of the song. A masterful groove swings its bait openly and irresistibly across the dark bulk of the track whilst McKinnon offers slaps which simply send the body reeling and the appetite into greedier hunger. It is a dramatic and absorbing start where everything from the rapacious rhythms and carnivorous bass tone to the flesh scorching sonic designs of the guitars and the exhaustive vocals of Kelly, or possibly McKinnon with both providing  raw delivery across the release, outstanding alone and viciously majestic united.

The noir cloaked almost sinister and wholly magnetic initial coaxing of the following Caged Bird instantly has thoughts and attention gripped tighter. It is an imposingly provocative lure with the darkest irresistible shades of temptation, its destination a broad hint which you cannot anticipate with the piece at times offering the garage punk realms of say The Cramps as a possibility or the ravenous scenery of a Mastodon as an option to give just two examples. Where it does lead is into a corrosive tempest of sonic abrasion and virulent hostility wrapped in a doom drenched maelstrom of spite and malevolence. As its predecessor, the track finds a spark which injects an eager rabidity and raucous energy into the heart of the pestilential stalking and further on a bewitching melodic elegance as the song evolves and twists within its tortured stance.

The beautiful Drift brings a mellow respite next, the short acoustic guitar sculpted instrumental a safe peace before the savage tsunami of An Apology To A Friend In Need falls upon the ears. The track merges a melodic acidity and venomous intensity into a thunderously eventful and unpredictable adventure, rhythms and bass courting the uncompromising vocals for a merciless predation whilst the guitars seduce and carve up senses and imagination with a skill and ingenious ideation that is impossible not to be fully consumed and submissive for. The song is a beauty and the beast endeavour which is already in control of the passions before its turbulent mid-point.

Both the atmospherically enthralling Pale New Eyes and the Giver Of Birth immerse the listener into soundscapes which leave no room for outside interference. The first exploring a progressive essence to its scenic exploration before walking into a mouthwatering storm of sonic violation and rhythmic punishment, an oppressive brutality which only serves to ignite the imagination and exploit further. It is a riveting canvas of guitar invention and vocal ravishment around a frame of barbarous rhythms which ensures the short instrumental beauty of its successor with a haunting ambience is a psyche soothing godsend.

The next up Done is quite mesmeric and sensational, taking best song honours with ease despite the triumphs around it. Opening on a cinematic and again sinister entanglement for the imagination, it develops an eager stroll which continues to invite dark visions of a more filmic nature before striding through an intensive sludge fuelled narrative and infectiously incendiary drama in sound before the abrasing vocals add their strangled syllables and malice coated words. It is a brilliant tease and masterful persuasion and the perfect way to enter the immensely dangerous sonic world of Stone burner for newcomers.

You Are The Worst provides a colossal towering adventure to lose yourself within, every soar and fall within its antagonistic passage voraciously damaging and unrelentingly absorbing to almost match the plateau of the previous track. It turns into the most savage and bruising incitement on the album and in many ways the most satisfying before the closing epic persuasion of The Phoenix unveils its hypnotic journey. As good as eighteen minutes in length, the song emerges from a tightly enveloping almost claustrophobic birth within deep atmospheric waters. The song floats towards a crystalline light, heading up to a beckoning surface of escape and hope, its warmth realised by sultry guitar craft and caressing melodies. Initially intangible, malevolent intensity is also worming its way into the hues of the adventure, niggling away until erupting and soaking every twist and turn to become an inescapable cloud. It is a glorious technically impressive and narratively thrilling journey which never relaxes as the battle between light and dark rages within its imposing confines until the very end.

Life Drawing is a must for all with a keen appetite for masterful sludge and doom premises and those with a hunger for aggressive progressive explorations. It is not an easy listen at times but one of the most rewarding likely to be heard this year.

Life Drawing is available through Neurot Recordings now!

https://www.facebook.com/Stoneburner.PDX

9/10

RingMaster 15/04/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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From Ashes Rise: Rejoice/The End Rage Of Sanity 7”

Just the news alone after a nine year wait of new material from US band From Ashes Rise was sure to have the juices of all hardcore punks flowing with unbridled anticipation. Once they finally hear the unmistakably impressive and powerful duo of songs making up their new single, fans will be in a fully satisfied meltdown. Following on from the Nightmares album of 2003, if nine years can be called a follow-up, the release shows the band just as mighty and destructive as ever. The often acclaimed pioneers of modern crust punk have quite simply returned to show they still are one of the bands to inspire and help lead forward the genre and extreme punk of all aspects.

Formed in Nashville during the mid nineties before relocating to Portland, Oregon, the band has through a trio of albums and numerous EPs and split releases not to mention their rushing live shows, helped shape the hulk and presence of hardcore punk alongside bands like Tragedy and His Hero Is Gone. Their absence in past years has been felt certainly by punk fans and their return with what is undeniably one of the best releases of the genre in a long time an impatient wait for a great many.

Released July 16th via Southern Lord the twin track single shows the decision to pack it in as From Ashes Rise in 2005 and try new ventures has ultimately energised and inspired their work as individuals and a band. Evidence was given towards that by their acclaimed bullying of stages with their aggressive compulsive sounds when returning in2009, the single proves it. Sometimes these things have to happen for a band and artists to inspire or re-energise their hearts and power, certainly for guitarists/vocalists John Wilkerson and Brad Boatright, bassist Derek Willman, and drummer Dave Atchison, it has lit sparks going by the two tracks here to ignite even greater fires within.

Rejoice The End broods with menace and brewing intensity from its start, the guitars stirring up the air around the ear with deliberate aggressive intent whilst the rhythms of Atchison thump across the senses with a predatory energy. As the track spreads into every pore with its corruptive and challenging breath it bristles with a caustic and rasping energy whilst the vocals send the senses safety reeling into provocative thought and the fullest satisfaction. The song takes a mid way break or respite on the coarse assault to intrigue at first, its presence a preparation for the returning tempered storm of riffs and bludgeoning rhythms. The track is openly infectious and arguably more melodic and definitely if one dare use the word lighter than expected from the band but no less impressive and powerful.

Other track Rage Of Sanity unleashes its punk heart from the very first note, a riotous explosion of pissed off riffs, barracking vocals, and beats to take knees to the floor. Far more greedy than its partner though no less hungry, the song goes for the jugular throughout. Punk at its best it brews up a storm of sounds across the spectrum reminding of the likes of Discharge, Exploited, Minor Threat and Motorhead but all very much From The Ashes. With a surer intent than Rejoice The End to annihilate the safety net within and leave one grasping for support from its mere two and a half minute assault, the track is a violation of glorious punk rock, deceptively simple and skilfully crafted.

The return of From Ashes Rise may be over due but they have made the wait worth ever second with their Rejoice The End/Rage Of Sanity 7”. All that is left to say is bring on an album.

https://www.facebook.com/fromashesrise

RingMaster 06/07/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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