Coma Wall/Undersmile – Wood And Wire Split


The Wood And Wire Split is something a little unusual in that the two bands making up the release consist of the exact same personnel. The release brings the Oxford, UK quartet of Undersmile together with the same member’s new and simultaneously active project Coma Wall. It is a magnetic release which intrigues and captivates from the first smouldering note to the last shadow impregnated sound and leaves an emotive embrace upon the senses which lingers like an enthralling yet haunting personal nightmare.

The members of Undersmile, vocalist/guitarist Taz Corona-Brown, vocalist/lead guitarist Hel Sterne, bassist Olly Corona-Brown, and drummer Tom McKibbin, formed the band in 2009 and have found a distinct place in UK rock with their monolithic senses prowling sludge/doom sound. Their first EP A Sea of Dead Snakes in 2010 as well as a split EP with Caretaker the following year drew strong attention and responses their way but debut album Narwhal in 2012, potently lifted the band into the fevered arms of fan and critical acclaim. With eager fans in the shape of Henry Rollins and Earth’s Dylan Carlson behind the band, the four-piece has left a strong impact with their teasing, hypnotic, and burdensome sound. Exploring their love of acoustic music in numerous forms with folk/doom textures, the members of the band began writing songs to expand this area and played various acoustic gigs as Undersmile Unplugged, including sets at DesertFest and in support of drone legend Dylan Carlson. Deciding on the name Coma Wall for the project, the band set to work on recording tracks for their debut release, those tracks making up its contribution on Wood And Wire.

The Coma Wall trio of songs begin the release and finds the foursome alone with just acoustic guitars, banjo, and percussion, as well as an enveloping expansive atmospheric breath borne of their creativity. Opening track Summer slowly unwinds its kindling of enticing guitar strokes, banjo persuasion, and delicious vocal harmonies for a smouldering embrace which coats the ear in a sweltering ambience of emotive sunsets and doomy whispers, their impact evoking a melancholic wash across thoughts. The additional shadowed Americana feel brings extra resonance to the heart of the song whilst the slightly primal pulse darkens the elegance with appealing menace.

The following You Are My Death seduces with similar caresses to its predecessor, its warm suggestive presence enflaming the appetite for its sluggish heat and the sirenesque dual vocals of Taz and Hel. The deep cello resonance lying deep within the track equally inspires the passions and enhances the vivid imagery bred by the piece, so that immersion within its luscious textures is nothing more than a formality at the beginning. The track makes way for Cutter’s Choice, the darkest shadows unveiled and allowed freedom to roam the senses with the third of the Coma Wall songs. Once more the bass and mournful strings within the piece spark a rich ardour whilst the irresistible vocals coax emotions deeper into the sombre mesmeric labour of the exceptional track. The best track of the three and arguably of the whole release, it is a compulsive and incendiary doom clad temptation for which resistance struggles to raise a fight.

The Undersmile contribution begins with Soil, its sizzling voice and caustic tones bringing an earthy and riled presence to proceedings. Impossible to escape from or ignore, the vocals continue their golden devilment as found on the previous songs though there is a disturbing menace to their grip now, whilst musically the track explores the coarse and raw side of aural beauty within the droning doom laden intimidation at work. It is not a brutal or destructive sound but undoubtedly is uncompromising and merciless in its intrusive unsettling hold of the senses.

As with the previous track, next up Killer Bob exploits any weakness in the psyche with raptor like emotive stalking and heavily cracking rhythms, all within the corrosive guitar feedback led intensity and punishing morose prowl of a gait. The ante is soon intensified with closing song Hives, its entrance a ravenous cacophony of hungry dark vocal harmonies and savage discord dripping sonics. For the bulk of its stay the song lurches along with primal intent to its rhythmic and blackened harmonic pursuit of the emotions, leading into a climax of intense emotive insanity sparked by the predatory and persistent stance of the track. The piece is suspiciously meditative, if your psychotic tendencies are primed to explode, though the track equally could ignite any neurosis to hideous conclusions.

Released via Shaman Recordings and mastered by Billy Anderson (Sleep, Neurosis, Melvins), Wood And Wire is a stunning release from two sides of one impressive and dark emotion sculpting band. Fancy having your deepest fears and secrets exposed than this is the outstanding mental key to open them up.


RingMaster 05/04/2013

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Bastard Of The Skies – Tarnation

Challenging for nastiness album of the year Tarnation from British metalers Bastard Of The Skies is a thick corruption for the senses, a mugging of emotions through massive towering riffs, even heavier intensity, and a sludge driven enveloping noise of the highest order. Though the album arguably does not trigger the fiercest passions as some other similarly gaited releases it is impossible not to be impressed and in awe of the power and craft behind and fuelling the intrusive colossus.

From Blackburn, Bastard of the Skies has left immensely destructive and provocative sounds since forming in 2006. Across two albums, an EP, and a split release with Catatomic earlier this year, the quartet has cultivated and evolved their impactful sound and invention to, in the album Tarnation, create a monstrous and fully welcome violation. Released via Future Noise Recordings, Tarnation churns the insides into a swamp of primal energy to match the malevolent sounds within the release. It is corruptive, destructive, and the instigator of animal pleasure and eagerness to take part in the fully impactful corruption. The band has destroyed audiences with their towering sound, sharing stages with the likes of Orange Goblin, Harvey Milk, Kylesa, Baroness, Today Is The Day, Black Sun, Lazarus Blackstar, Volition, Conan, The Sontaran Experiment, and Undersmile for the fullest respect and acclaim, the album simply shows the band is just as powerful in the studio, the sound driving the album a raw and living brutal entity.

Drug Monarch is the first blow to the ear, its lurching discord driven melodies and dehabilitating riffs a barbed introduction. The tight hypnotic groove which pervades throughout the Sepultura like grind is magnetic and fires the consuming intensity to deeper depths within. The corrosive start is then elevated to another venomous height by the brilliant A Punch In The Fucking Lungs, the track a ferocious undulating furnace of abrasive energy and numbing riffs. The rhythms vibrate through bone with the only respite coming in the brooding oppressive slower moments when the song is even more predatory, its heavy whispers intimidating and startling.

The guitars of Matt Richardson and Rob Beesley are scathing and scraping bestial elements throughout though their use of sonic razors and disruptive melodic trespass is just as impressive and sapping.  The likes of (Roasted In The Depths Of The) Sloar and the slowly crawling malevolence that is Repugnance find the guitarists scything through the senses with acidic precision within an avalanche of brute force energy, whether a rabidly paced or insidious lumbering envelopment their might and craft is merciless and erosive on thoughts and emotions.  Add the pit borne unsympathetic growls of Richardson alongside the crushing basslines of Claire Horrocks and restraining beats of Matt Aldred and the result is a tsunami of aural and impassioned lyrical hate, anger, and loathing.

From the more rampant early tracks the album switches after the apocalyptic emotion of the startling instrumental title track into a more expansive tar thick devouring prowl of doom and sludge sounds. The songs Bookatee Willalee and Locklear are overbearing and forceful masses to submerge within, their intent to drive away air and light with towering waves of intensity and sonic violation.

The album ends with the too brief but riotous strike of Snapmare, its bruising breath as punishing as its astringent splattering of wrung out melodic squeals, and the tension pushing What Are You Looking At Dicknose which takes its time to arrive fully in the ear but makes up for its tardy yet unsettling slow entrance with a tempest of nasty, pervading, and claustrophobic maliciousness. The closer is a seething body of poison to hungrily consume and be assaulted by, and to end what is a highly satisfying release. Arguably its earlier presence is better than its latter company but there is never anything less than compelling if violent sounds and thrilling invention to be eagerly accepted. At times Tarnation is a testing listen but one which is immensely rewarding and makes Bastard Of The Skies a band welcome anytime to crush, burn, and challenge the senses.

RingMaster 29/09/2012

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