Video Premiere: Soft Grid – A Century Behind

Soft Grid are back with a new release and with that a video for one of the tracks from this release, titled “A Century Behind“. Since their first album they’re still in an experimental field when it comes to their music, but they have carefully toned their sound into something that could be said to be their own.

Drawing from everything and nothing, Soft Grid doesn’t leave you with any disappointment when listening and viewing this video – even though some of it may be uncanny at first, it grows on you and you begin to enjoy it.

Their new album is titled “Agency“, it is due to be released on the Berlin-based label Antime.

Review: Rope Sect – Personae Ingratae / Proselytes (CD)

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Caligari Records have been a favorite of mine since some time back. Always on top with new releases, always on point with the darker themed musical styles (mainly metal) – everything is allowed if it is contained within these limits – and they don’t do a half-arsed job at it. The proprietor of the label was kind enough to send a physical edition of the release about to be reviewed, and we’re glad to finally be able to listen through and critique an item from their discography.

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Unfortunately to our own dismay, the case was slightly damaged with what seems to be small cuts on the front of it. The CD itself was not damaged but the plastic attachment which keeps the CD in place was in half, thus there was no use for it at all – thanks to our wonderful shipping company PostNord – who seems to take much joy in making sure that shipments arrive as damaged as possible, unless packed very tight and secure.

 

The aesthetic aspect of Personae Ingratae / Proselytes

Aesthetically the whole package, despite it being a standard jewelcase, is really magnificent to look at. The booklet comes with lyrics for each song, and at the end of it (pictured) there’s a very well-drawn image of a man which could resemble any statue from ancient Greece, holding a rope which yields a perfect representation of the band’s name. Just beside the man is a tightly knit rope, where the words “Venerate the rope! Fear The Rope!” is written beneath it. Makes for a very sinister impression.

The decorative‘ aspect of this release is what makes it, though the fonts are somewhat off-putting except on the front of the CD where it almost seems to be sketched out rather then digitally put there – even though, in the end, part of that dimension as well. You know very well what kind of genre it ought to be by looking at it, even though you might not be able to place the sub-genres, which is a slightly ambiguous touch that makes it even better. Shows how much can be done aesthetically without the release having to be more then a jewelcase.

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The musical aspect of Personae Ingratae / Proselytes

Rope Sect as a band is a trio, consisting of ‘Inmesher‘ (guitars, drums & vocals), ‘Harbinger‘ (bass) and ‘Gaarentwynder‘ (additional guitars). The release is a compilation, a combination of their first EP released by Caligari Records on cassette, “Personae Ingratae“, and their double-single “Proselytes” released on vinyl by Iron Bonehead Productions. We want to make it perfectly clear that we haven’t heard these releases in their physical format, therefore we can’t do any comparisons and if we had we wouldn’t any way because it would only make sense as that instead.

Fallen Nation” starts off with an ominously sounding German quotation in sound sampled from somewhere, heck knows where. Then what could be described as some crossover between metal and punk, but without the -core in it. Somehow it reminds us of a better, less outdrawn version, maybe heavier in certain aspects – later Katatonia. If they had mingled with Jawbreaker, but without the cheesy lyrics. It is hard-hitting, straight up emotional and there is where the first comparison is drawn, out of a sense of nostalgia and not so much musically – even though some of it is similar, in terms of melody.

It feels weird that a first track on a release can be so addicting. A perfect cocktail of nihilistic tendencies together with a dim, bright light of hope in the end of the tunnel. The drums are muddy, distorted and together with the guitar work and baseline create a malformed, rowdy atmosphere – which is then smacked together with clean vocals. The vocalist is really talented, he pulls off such an emotional but assertive tone in the way he articulates each word, lyrically.

The second song “Tarantist” ups the instruments a notch in terms of how the solos, the riffs and the overall rhythm is concerned. Sure, much of it is similar with the first song, but it has a more deathrock-ish vibe over the atmosphere, perfect for a December’s evening like this. We find ourselves digging more to this song, even though the first one had its perfectly laden harmonics. The psychedelic edge in some of the riffs are absolutely glorious in all their simplicity – they manage to bridge to the chorus in a down-tempo – to maniacal uptempo after a few seconds, so effortlessly.

Even though it makes no sense in text at all, the most powerful lyrical content in this song is when the singer calmly but ominously proclaims: “We’re gonna die – why?“, it hits so close to home that it almost frightens. It is so existential in a beautiful way – yet it gives you an unobjectionable push into the grim realities of life, which isn’t as romantically charged as the notion of living forever either as a memory in the past, or resurrected in the future.

Pretty Life” heads in a different, more downtempo way that has a lot in common with atmospheric black metal, instead of the punk (and sub-genres of it) overtones that dominate on this record so far. Too bad that it is so repetitive and doesn’t really cast a good light on the vocalist as it has done with the uptempo, more aggressive songs before this one. Sure, some moments are great as when the more ‘acoustically’-oriented passages that add an upswing to an otherwise not that interesting song.

Some facets of it can be intriguing to listen to but it is not what we’re expecting after we’ve listened to Rope Sect, we’re sorry to say that. If anything, the abrupt ending is in a class of itself, since this song doesn’t need to be more outdrawn and killed right away. Don’t get it wrong, it is not a bad song per se, but it is an OK song in comparison with the other two which set the standard very high.

King Of The Night” remind us, in a good way, what the commercially successful band Ghost would’ve been if they hadn’t sold out from the get go. Rope Sect is like the better version of what the ideal would’ve been with that band, even though it was dead from the get go, really. A really trashing song from the get go which includes the better parts of good death metal, with the melodically oriented stance that actually, by now, defines their music for us.

Not to mention the classic rock’n’roll vibe coming out of the second chorus, the solos from the guitars are fantastic. They also slap the darker atmosphere on it so that it doesn’t flip out and go into full deranged death’n’roll. In this song comes another memorable line, which also touches emotionally through how the singer delivers it vocally – “We found the gallows sling in the light / A lost reversal of fortune“. What a great line lyrically. It gives off a very subliminal message as it goes through your brain, an ambiguity not easily taken away.

On this compilation, “Recess” feels like the dividing line between “Personae Ingratae” and “Proselytes“, even though it originally wasn’t. A good piece of death-doom metal but with much better melodies then there generally is in that crossover genre. They are really accentuated and heightened in this short song. An uproar of the most desperate anguish, but without the cheesiness that would be attached to it otherwise with bad lyrics, so it is actually good that they went full instrumental for once. Though it wouldn’t of been any trouble for the singer to lay his unique touch on it as well, had it not been.

Ochlesis” is the longest track on the release, and feels like a combination of all the good in the first few songs and the otherworldly nature of their atmosphere. Simple but ingenious riffs lay the foundation of the choruses, as one is transported between all possible sub-genres and back again. From metal to post-punk, doom metal to gothic rock. There’s also an downtempo part that is fanatically great – they leave room to each instrument, and let the different textures blend together through silence and noise – completing the sound in a vividly imaginable perfect scenario.

Though the first part shines the brightest, as that is their stronger side, it is accompanied by an even heavier laden barrage of the finest metal you could imagine. Nothing is compromised when they get to do their own thing, whatever that could be called in a summary. Though, as written in the first paragraphs about this song, it is clear that it is a combination of all the best elements so far from this record.

Death Is Your Lover” is by far the roughest sounding track so far, having more dark riffs then ever before. The title alone suggests what you’re about to hear when turning it on. The drumming also goes into different riffs, as it almost wants to go into full blast-beat as soon as possible, but is hindered by the fact that it is as gloomy as doom metal can be when it is at its best – in combination with the psychedelic, slow and hard-hitting aspects of that certain genre.

Little bits of pieces in this song are good, but together it doesn’t stand out that much in comparison with other songs. There are different ambiance that could’ve been adjusted a bit more, and the singing gets a bit dull after parts of it, but without a doubt the lyrical content of this song is one of the best. Especially the repetitiveness of it all, which lulls one into uncertainty.

Rattenkönig” is so pleasurable to listen to. It holds up great in all aspects and is except the first two songs, “Fallen Nation” and “Tarantist“, which in itself makes it a great song. The lyrics flow so well, as if the vocalist have lived what is described himself. As if it is recited by a great orator. There’s really nothing more to be said then that it gives off a spiritual feeling when listening to it. Such a great, uncompromising and skilfully made song that it isn’t even funny. Nothing could be done better in it that would make it even more outstanding.

BothQuietus” and “Proselytes” is if you had inverted the record itself, not that they are identical to the first two songs musically, it is just that they are as great in their own respects. Here, they’ve added a bit more that gives the atmosphere that knife-sharp edge and volatility which some of the other tracks miss out on. The first song mentioned actually contain some blast-beats to our joy, and it is the better one of the two, but both are god-damn impeccable.

Such a great ending to an otherwise more than good compilation of two releases. We could not recommend it more, actually. It is just a shame that it hasn’t gotten more publicity, because this sure is a hidden gem in the Caligari Records discography – despite it being the next-newest release there. If anything, you should really get this CD because nothing beats having the physical item. You can get it digitally and on CD from Caligari Records, stream the release down below to make up your own mind.

 

Spotlight: Kazeria, A.D. Mana, Strucktura, TRAITRS

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In this spotlight we’ve chosen four artists/groups that are different – yet alike in many ways. There will be a lot of darkwave, coldwave and industrial music in this spotlight. Mostly because those are the genres where we find ourselves at home, because there’s immense talent to be found there. We start off with noisy industrial music and end with gloomy post-punk extravaganza.

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Kazeria was unknown to me when I found his music via Gradual Hate Records. It was his latest release, “Nihilist Militant“, that caught my eye. The aesthetics were impressive when it comes to the artwork for this release, but more was to be discovered when pressing play. He’s created very intimate and atmospheric industrial music, coupled with dark ambient overtones. Keep in mind that these songs are totally unedited versions, created between 2003 and 2007 – which is a representation of how it sounded back then.

There’s a great assertiveness in his music, it almost borders to the bombasticism of martial industrial. As stated by the label, this is a “very personal” release, which really shows in the emotions he conveys with his music. It is both harsh and atmospheric, with destructiveness at its core. One is very impressed by the percussive rhythms he produces, which can be heard the clearest in “Evrazia Regnat” – a very disciplined and ambitious track in regards to melodies as well. Even the very short ballad-like song “Irminsul” has a certain grace.

This release is a great way to get into his music and if you pre-order the last copy in the special package – you get a gas mask as well. Can’t get more industrial then that. Listen to the release down below, buy it if it is of interest to you.

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A.D. Mana is a relatively new artist from Berlin. The re-release of his first and only, self-titled EP, on cassette – had me at the first song “Take Hold” – a stern coldwave rendition that catches multiple influences, like synth-pop and darkwave, molding it into a sinister blend together with his voice. The synthesizer stabs are clear but at the same time dark and brooding, a strange combination which at first doesn’t seem to work but as the song progresses it is obvious that it does. “Down The Wire“, another song on the release, almost funnels the post-punk vibes into some odd kind of grungy synth-pop-‘n’-roll.

My favorite song on the release, except the first one, is “Honour“. It adds gracefulness to the messy environment of the songs in general. Even though you’re caught slightly off-guard by his voice – not in a good way – it fits in place after a few moments into the song. There are some great rhythms as well, aptly executed. The melodies are unorthodox, which makes me like it even more. You expect more of the same but get tricked into the wondrous atmospheres, the groovy electronic beats – and the charming ballad-like ending within “Soulware“. A perfect instrumental track and appropriate farewell. You should really check it out, and buy the cassette from sentimental, if it suits you.

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I’ve actually heard about this artist, Strucktura, whilst browsing through the bandcamp-feed. But I never paid much attention to the music. There’s some really solid darkwave-inspired music in his “Statues Also Die” release on Oráculo Records. While the synthesizers and beats are on point in the release, there’s some really cheesy lyrics. In a weird way they go along well with the music, so I will leave that alone. The music seems awfully cheerful but at the same time moody and distraught – which is something that adds character to the songs. Especially in “Val D’Aran“. 

There’s a nice futuristic vibe about each song and it comes out differently, even though most of the rhythm and melodies are alike. As dreary as the atmospheres may be at times – they come out as dreamy – and are filled with nicely laden synthesizer sweeps, alongside well constructed rhythms and melodies. It is a release you should check out, if it is something for you – buy the limited edition vinyl via Oráculo Records.

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Torontian band TRAITRS have created some of the most soothing, coherent post-punk music I’ve heard in a while. The oomph of the baseline resounds throughout in the first song “Witch Trials“. It is really weird how each and every song on the release is anthemic on its own – it is mostly reserved to one or a few songs – but this is catchy, ambitious and on fire from the matchsticks up until the light goes ablaze. It is especially noticeable in “Lya“, one of the more minimalistic songs. The singer gets a certain kind of emotional streak in the chorus which makes you want to sing along to the lyrics.

Not to mention how massive “Gallows” is. Here they’ve really gotten through with the originality of their sound. They both have an edge in the music and somewhere to stand firm – nothing is left to chance, everything is constructed meticulously. When one gets as far as their last song “Heretic“, the percussionism is simply mindblowing. Of all the releases recommended in this spotlight, this is the one I will have to choose myself as the best one. You can get it from the Warsawian label Alchera Visions, buy it here and stream it down below.

 

Listen: Syndicate – Demo

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Entertain the thought of a proto-punk band from California. Namely: Oakland. There, now you’ve got some imagination and a brain to think with. Join the Syndicate now. Syndicate is a trio from Oakland, California—an American band with roots deep into both punk, post-punk and proto-punk. Rats are running rampant through the city while these cyber-surfers make the best of a minimalist sound-scape, overwhelmingly punk and they actually make good use of the obligatory post-punk baseline—trying to make it even more melodic. Most of their music seem to heed to infrastructure, technology and the likes of it but is contrasted by their atmosphere of minimalist chaos. An explanation to this is written in the words that stake out “Demo“, although a romantic thought would be to not refine it further, more than make the vocals more audible and the sound less shaky. James Bond would have an awfully good time with this band, considering his choice of drink is a Martini that’s shaken—not stirred. Exactly how they’re portrayed by me when listening to them.

This whirlpool of different influences are mangled into a punk-sized knock in the face, with more afterthought instead of primitive rage. There’s an intellectual vein running through; a rather ambitiously chiseled, type of music. Frankly, they sound like a non-electronic homage to all the minimal synth and minimal wave, slash cold-wave acts operating out there. Stretch it to an even more plausible theory—and you might end up with synth-punk without a synth. Somewhere and somehow we would like to put them into a melodic punk category, or rogue surf-punk—surfing on nails, bolts and steel through a decaying post-industrial society. Feel the hopelessness but be uplifted and rooted in the sense that they’re playing just for you and your needs, even though your attitude says: “It’s completely different”! Stream and listen closely to their first release, their “Demo“.

Exclusive Premiere: Feral Trash – No Avail

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We know that you’re probably having a rough Monday. It might not be a terrible one, but it’s always hard to cope with going back to your routines after the weekend. Therefore we’ve got a treat for you which you might or might not enjoy. Feral Trash is an American band that combines rock’n’roll and melodious dark punk into a nice whirlwind of emotional statements. Whether they do it with their copious riffs or the drumming, with their lyrics or their vocals – doesn’t matter. Their wholeheartedness could be heard in their first release “Dead Eyes“, which came out in 2013. Being stationary at Dirt Cult Records gave them a possibility to release something new a year later. The label originally started out in 2006 by the hands of Chris Mason and his friend Dillon – but he left shortly afterwards and since then the operations have been managed by Chris. So mainly, the label utilizes itself within the confinements of punk – meaning everything from post-punk, rock’n’roll, melodic punk, “regular” punk – and other genres which can be knitted to “punk“.

Now, a year later Feral Trash are going to be releasing their debut-album “Trashfiction” with the help of DIrt Cult Records. The frontman Eric Neurotic, whom also can be heard in the band Fear Of Lipstick, is involved in labels who are alike to what his band is releasing an album on – namely It’s Alive Records and P. Trash Records. Everything comes around now and then – full circle. Which is just good because that prooves his interest and passion for those genres. Anyway, “Trashfiction” will be released on the 26th of October. Repartiseraren is collaborating with Dirt Cult Records for the first time, giving you the opportunity to exclusively stream the tenth song from their debut-album, titled “No Avail“. Listen to it down below and if you’re interested, see to it that you buy the physical vinyl. The vinyl is limited to 300 copies, whereas 100 are on color vinyl.

Listen: Soggy Creep – EP

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Out from the blue comes Soggy Creep. At least for me, I had never heard of them since I got an e-mail about the band. Carrying members from different bands like Bone Sickness and Criminal Code, one of them being Avi Roig (ex-It’s A Trap), the Pacific Northwest comes out strong again. Having released a demo ten months ago, completing their first EP just now – six days ago. What makes them strong is their output which they’ve decided to put in the dark punk category, where the baselines darken and a gloomy, almost death-rockish sound seeks it’s way through the cracks. The sound is almost like a dysharmonic skate-punk sound, if you strip away the general cheesyness of it. The anti-skatepunk (or rather, pop-punk) with overt melodious content. Sure, there are melodies that will make you question it – but you don’t really have to – because they’re layered nefariously, showing off a slow but in general tempo-clutching decay. Other tracks are faster, but what makes you twist your head in agony is the atmosphere they create. There’s enough punk in there to make you shout, but complex enough to not make it too simple. The thoughtfulness that sear with the harsh riffs are complemented well by a singer that never goes out of his way to cement their sound, he keeps it on the lowdown for the atmosphere to shroud everything else. Even though he’s a central part of it all.

It is an EP that is well worth listening to and it is a breath of smelly air, for once. Though much of their sound is carried in their instrumental parts, there isn’t much there for you not to like. Enough authority to make you not question it, enough sincerity to be able to pull this off. I’m hoping the Olympians are ready to take it one step further and enhance their sound a little bit more, but it is a perfectly good EP to start your seance with Soggy Creep. The name itself gives an alluring feeling to everything else, even though it should’ve been a bit more mysterious and not as creepy. But hey, each to his own. The release is available for digital streaming and hopefully they’ll release something physical, soon. Maybe it’s the run-up to an album – let’s hope so. In the meanwhile, stream “EP” down below.

Hjälp bolaget D-Takt & Råpunk!

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På grund av en översvämning i lokalen som D-Takt & Råpunk använder för att lagra skivor, turneringsgåvor och sin privata skivsamling – så har det inneburit stora ekonomiska förluster. Detta är alltså en av de bästa skivbolagen när det kommer till underjordens krafter, närmre bestämt inom hardcore, punk, mangel, d-beat och alla undergenrer ni kan tänka er. Ett skivbolag som har funnits sedan 2006 och som har släppt åtskilliga klassiker, och när han inte har gjort det så har man bara släppt jävligt bra skivor. Detta var en av de första bolagen som jag kom i kontakt med i och med att jag började skriva för mitt eget blogg-zine. Jag har haft att göra med honom ett antal gånger både för några år sedan och i nutid. För någon som är hyfsat intresserad av subkulturen som omgärdar hardcore och punk, utan att ha någon större delaktighet i det hela så har kontakten alltid präglats av proffessionalism. Om man hade behövt någonting eller frågade om något så fick man svar på det. Men det är inte enbart på grund av detta som jag anser att man bör stödja honom i dessa svåra tider.

Jag tycker att man bör stödja honom om man någonsin haft med honom att göra. Vilket jag har. Så jag tänker göra på mitt sätt för att kunna få till någon form av stöd på något sätt. För de som läser detta så kommer det förmodligen att anordnas en stödspelning till syfte att skänka pengar till honom. Detta anordnas förmodligen av några inom hardcorekretsen, så ni får hålla era ögon öppna ni som går på sådana tillställningar. Oavsett om man kan skänka pengar eller inte så är det enligt Joakim själv nog att bara bry sig om det. Jag bryr mig om det och tycker att det är synd det som har hänt. Att bara se utan att kunna göra särskilt mycket när det man ansamlat över åren går upp i rök måste vara väldigt jobbigt. Ni kan läsa mer från D-Takt & Råpunk-bloggen om ni vill ha mer bakgrundsinformation. Stötta honom och se till att han tar sig igenom detta. Även om jag inte känner honom personligen så är det ändå något som har funnits där någonstans. Någon som fortfarande ger allt trots motgångar. Man kan donera pengar här om man vill stödja rent ekonomiskt.