Pig destroyer – terrifyer

It has long been accepted that horror films are popular because they resonate with us at a very primal level. We like to be scared but we also like to do it in a risk free environment. You go into the cinema, the film starts and (baring any insanely unlikely catastrophes) you walk out safely at the end. All of the rush and none of the risks. There are some films however that are so raw that they move beyond this. “The Texas chainsaw massacre” is one of them. A film with surprisingly little blood, but it’s relentless visceral nihilism crawls in through your eyes and leaves a stain on your mind and soul that never comes out. This is a very round about way of letting you into this week’s album and what you need to expect. If the grindcore genre is horror cinema then “terrifyer” is it’s “Texas chainsaw massacre” and everything that entails.

Grindcore is an acquired taste. The bastard child of crust punk and metal, it is loud, violent and fast. Really fast. It is extreme music and is not for everyone. It does fall into two very distinct camps, horrendously bad and insanely good with no in between. There is no such thing as mediocre grindcore. “Terrifyer” is insanely good. Pig destroyer are one of the bands that arrived in the mid nineties, early naughties that gave the genre a second lease of life. Along with bands like nasum, they changed the focus of the music away from speed. Don’t get me wrong they are still ludicrously fast but when the godfathers of the genre Napalm Death have a song that is only a few seconds long on their debut album there is only so far you can push it. Instead the focus shifted to atmosphere. Playing fast requires a lot of practice. Playing fast and with technicality requires skill. Playing fast with technicality and create atmosphere in a song that is under two minutes long is a talent that not many possess.

‘Terrifyer’ is like being attacked by someone with a pick axe and at the same time like being inside the mind of the person wielding it. Clocking in at just over 30 minutes it is a claustrophobic adrenaline rush of an album that can at times make you want to crawl out of your own skin. It clings to you like bad air long after it is finished. It is feted, feral and genuinely disturbing. The horror film comparison isn’t just a (slightly clumsy) analogy, “terrifyer” is as the name says terrifying. The ferocity of this album is down to two people. Drummer Brian Harvey and grindcore guitar genius Scott Hull.

There are times when listening to this album that you stop and wonder if the people playing are actually human. Brian Harvey’s performance on “Terrifyer” is just out of this world. All death metal and grind drummers have to be fairly impressive, but there is a slightly feral and raw sound with Brian Harvey’s drumming that stops it sounding like a drum machine. If animal from the muppets was introduced to grindcore then I don’t think that it would sound a million miles away from the drumming on this album.

Scott Hull is one of those musicians who is synonymous with a genre. As well as Pig Destroyer he is also the guitarist/brains behind the insanely good Agoraphobic Nosebleed and served a stint in the notorious band Anal C*nt (if nothing else will get you into grindcore you have to admit that the band names are amazing). The first thing to bare in mind when you hear “terrifyer” is that there is no bassist. This is all Scott Hull’s guitar and it sounds huge. Production trickery aside he makes a monstrous sound. He also throws out more stunning guitar riffs in minute long blasts than some guitarists can manage over a whole album. From manic shredding to hardcore breakdowns it’s all here. It just happens to be playing at warp speed and sounds like a building coming down around you. Above all of this is the demented roar and deeply disturbing lyrics of J.R Hayes.

It’s quite hard to talk about lyrics in music like this because unless you’re tuned into it from the get go it’s naturally assumed that you won’t understand any of it. One of my favourite bands of all time is the sludge legends Iron Monkey. I have been listening to then for over a decade and even now I can’t tell you what vocalist Johnny Morrow is going on about but it doesn’t change my opinion that he was one of the best vocalists to ever pick up a mic. J.R Hayes can also throw down with the best of them. His delivery is more of a hardcore punk style than the usual death metal grunts that you normally have In grindcore. Instead he spits and screams out the lyrics as if he hasn’t got enough time to get the thoughts out of his head. It’s raw, frantic and adds a vulnerability that’s not often seen in extreme metal. There is another element that he brings that you really, really need to check out. After you’ve read this go online and read the lyrics to ‘terrifyer’. They are miniature psychological breakdowns and snippets of the serial killer mind. They are short stories about obsession, longing, hopelessness and violence. Stories of love that have gone horribly, tragically wrong. Which leads us on very nicely to “Natasha”.

If you want to experience “terrifyer” in full then you need to listen to its sister piece “Natasha”. “Natasha” was released as a bonus track on the album and later as a separate EP. It is the metaphorical yin to the main album yang. If “terrifyer” is “Texas chainsaw massacre” then “Natasha” is the original Japanese version of “ring”. The album is just over thirty minutes,the single “Natasha” track is a shade under forty. It is a long, hard road out of hell that tells the story of “terrifyer” and it’s protagonist Natasha. The main album is a frantic attack but “natasha” ties you up and then proceeds to take her time with you. It is doom metal full of atmosphere and Titan sized guitar riffs. It is hard work but sometimes the best things are. Even if you only hear it once it will give you more of an idea of the nightmare that is “terrifyer”.

So there you have it. It’s not for everyone but I hope you give it a go. If you like it then it is worth checking out “book burner” by Pig Destroyer. It is another monstrous blast of grind but the concept is about a future America where the Christian far right have taken over the country, persecute anyone who isn’t the same race or religion and are lead by a charismatic TV personality who becomes president. Just FYI this was released in 2012. Join me next time on the 9th of February (ish) where I will be writing about the equally dark and painfully English Brit rock album “England made me” by Black Box Recorder.



The King Blues – Long Live the struggle

There are some albums that could only have come from a certain place and time. For example “appetite for destruction” could only have come out of the excesses of the Sunset strip in the late 80’s. The sex pistols “never mind the bollocks” could only have arrived as a direct attack on the 70’s disco era. They are living, breathing time capsules that don’t just take you to that place but bring it back vividly. If you want to know the state of Britain, particularly London in 2012, then you need to hear “long live the struggle”.

2012 was a strange time for the U.K. With the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic Games being hosted in London it was a year of national pride. You didn’t need to look very hard though to find a very different story lurking underneath. High unemployment and austerity measures had a major effect on everyday life for many people. Resentment between the haves and have-nots, particularly with younger people was a stark contradiction to the Rule Britannia image that was being portrayed. The year before police had shot dead an unarmed man and this sparked several days of rioting. If nothing else is then the Tottenham riots are the spiritual backdrop to “long live the struggle”. The pressure builds, then people push back.

The band split shortly before this album was released. I’m not going to get into reasons because the only people who know why are the band themselves. However if you release an album like this I can understand why you would want to walk away, I mean after a statement like “long live the struggle” what else is there to say?

I class this album as one of the last genuinely great punk albums to come out of Britain. Influence wise they seem to skip modern punk, or even the old “three chords and the truth” style of punk. This is a modern update of two tone ska and the Clash. In fact I really believe that if the Clash had been formed in the early noughties instead of the seventies they would be making music like the King Blues. This band don’t just take the sound of punk, but incorporate ska, electronica, dance, folk, reggae, garage and early grime into a sound that is perfect and utterly glorious. No two tracks sound the same and yet the album sounds like one cohesive whole. Genre limitations are completely ignored. If it works for the song then any sound is brought in. The musicians in The King Blues are all fantastic, But it’s Itch that runs this ship.

Johnny “itch” Fox is not just the vocalist. He is the spiritual anchor and mouthpiece for the band (The King Blues started as a solo project for Itch). He is the centre that draws all of these diverse elements into a comprehensive entity. Whether he’s rapping or singing he attacks it with the same energy. His lyrics are sublime and cover a huge amount of subjects and emotions, from political change (“we are what we own”) to the end of relationships (“Walking away”). Anyone who can write “Gazza you own the fog on the Tyne but the scum on the Thames is mine all mine” deserves a medal in my opinion.

There are three songs on this album that define it. “Modern life has let me down”, “This is my home” and the wonderful closing track “Keep the Faith”.

“Modern life has let me down” is the most anthemic middle finger to the “9 to 5” existence you are every likely to hear. Sarcasm and internal anger pour out of the speakers over the top of folk/pop melodies. It is light, bouncy and so full of rage that when you process it you want to kick a hole in a wall. Consumer culture and office life are given a thorough kicking by Itch and when he sings “you can take this job and shove it” the urge to scream it with him at the top of your lungs is undeniable.

As I said earlier the spiritual backdrop of the album is the Tottenham riots, however the only time they directly address them is on the track “This is my home” and it’s really not what you are expecting. Rather than being a furious incitement for violence that you expect, it is melancholic and heartbreaking. It is taken from the point of view of the Tottenham residents, about the senseless destruction to their property and looting of their shops. Any political action always has an effect and for the people of Tottenham the devastation is the terrible fallout that they were left with.

The album closes with one of my favourite songs of all time. Despite all of the anger and political despondency on “Long live the struggle” it ends with hope. “Keep the faith” is an uplifting and glorious fist in the air singalong. It is a song of pure joy, of the wonders of being alive and human beings amazing capacity of overcoming whatever is thrown at them. Never give up. Keep the faith, because ultimately, whatever happens, you are alive now and can face anything.

I hope you have enjoyed this and I urge you to give “Long live the struggle” a spin. It is a stunning album that is worth every second of your time. Come back on the 26th of January when I will be looking at a different beast entirely. The incredibly dark, grindcore horror masterpiece “Terrifyer” by Pig Destroyer


Going forward

A warm welcome and happy new year to everyone. Words cannot describe how much I enjoyed blogging my top 20 of 2017. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I feel refreshed and recharged, ready to carry on writing about great music.

So this is just a quick post about how the blog will (hopefully) work moving forward. I aim to blog about albums that I think are important and/or interesting. It won’t be from any particular time, genre or to be honest in any particular order. I will try and avoid the big hitters because they have been written about to death, instead I will focus on things that may have passed you by. Again if there is anything you think I should be checking out, or if you are in a band and want me to have a listen then feel free to get in touch on the blog or Twitter. I am aiming to post every other Friday, giving myself roughly two weeks to completely immerse myself in the album.

So thank you for reading and I hope this blog will be a fun experience for everyone and hopefully introduce everyone to some amazing music. The first post will be on Friday 12th and will be about one of the most important punk albums the U.K. has released. The King Blues “long live the struggle”



Top 20 of 2017: 2 & 1

Zeal & ardor – devil is fine

I have been listening to heavy music for a long time. From my early teens until now in my thirties I have heard many new bands and sounds. I have NEVER heard anything like Zeal & Ardor. On paper the concept sounds mad. Mixing the cold, dark brutality of black metal with the melody and rhythms of roots blues/slave chants. It does work, amazingly well. Zeal & ardor create a sound that is both dark and soulful, violent and beautiful. The melding and songwriting are breathtaking, particularly on “blood in the river” where the album is in it’s element. The fact that it was recorded on what I suspect was a tiny budget actually works in its favour. The crackle on the recording and the overall production makes the album sound like it has just been discovered in the American record library next to forgotten works by lead belly and Robert Johnson. The chanting on “In ashes” is strait out of a horror film and is without a doubt one of the creepiest sounds of 2017. There are moments of electronics in the short instrumental breaks that fit amazingly well within the sound of the album and aren’t jarring. Zeal & Ardor landed fully formed with a sound that is completely their own. With the level and quality of songwriting show I genuinely struggle to see how their next album won’t be a classic. That shouldn’t detract from one of the most thrilling and inventive albums of 2017.

Oxbow – thin black duke

Truth be told this is my first experience with Oxbow. They have been on my list of things to listen to for some time but I never got around to it. Based on this album though, I need to listen to everything they have recorded because “thin black duke” is one of the best albums I’ve heard in a very long time. When I played this for the first time I had to stop what I was doing. When I looked down at my watch I realised that I hadn’t moved for forty minutes. This album demands every second of your attention. “Thin black duke” jumps from rock, to blues and jazz, never settling for long. Spiritually I hear a kinship in “thin black duke” with the music hall of the last days of Weimar Germany. Full of opulence, glamour and sleaze with the constant underlying threat of sudden violence. I also hear a huge similarity with weird, off kilter creativity of Tom Waits. The star of the album though is Eugene Robinson. He croons, shrieks, whimpers, begs, bellows and howls his way through the album in a way that is both deeply disturbing and yet heartbreakingly human and beautiful at the same time. “Thin black duke” is a genuinely stunning work of art and would sit comfortably between Miles Davis “kind of Blue” on one side and The Rolling Stones “sticky fingers” on the other. It is a must for music fans regardless of genre and undeniably the best album of 2017


Top 20 of 2017: 6 & 5

Employed to serve – The warmth of a dying sun

This is the second album in my top 20 from Holy Roar Records, one of the best record labels around. Before I get to the album I want to quickly mention something that happened earlier in the year. I was all set to see Employed to serve live and was planning to make it my first live review. However it was at that point that my brain broke and I couldn’t go outside. I wrote a very self pitying post on Twitter about it. Someone got in touch from the band to wish me well and hoped I would get better soon. They didn’t need too and they are genuinely really nice people. So if you’ve never heard them before you might be surprised to find that they sound like planets crashing into each other. Employed to serve are without a doubt one of the most exciting things to happen in British heavy music for a long time. “The warmth of a dying sun” is one of the most inventive hardcore albums I’ve had the pleasure to experience. They effortlessly throw out crushing riffs that some bands can only dream of one after another without breaking a sweat. Justine also manages to sound like the angriest person on Earth, her vocals adding a very human and intense element to the technicality. Having been named kerrang’s album of the year I really hope that they get the attention they deserve and keep going from strength to strength. They are one of the brightest stars on the U.K. music scene.

Völur – ancestors

Due to having three young kids I generally listen to a majority of my music through headphones when I’m out and about. This is how I first experience “ancestors” and I believe that the best way to listen to this album is through headphones outside, preferably in the woods. I’m not really sure what genre this fits in as it covers so much ground. The closest I have come to is “heavy folk”. Split into four movements, themselves broken down into individual tracks, “ancestors” is an epic in every sense of the word. I have been listening to this for months and I am still uncovering more layers of this immense piece of work. This is the sound of Beowulf, of gods, monsters and the first men. This is the sound of nature, of mountains, rivers and forests. This is the sound of myths, sagas and fireside tales. Press play on this album and you get lost in its world and it will haunt you long after it is finished.


Top 20 of 2017: 8 & 7

Jamie Lenman – Devolver

There are some musicians who’s sound is so unique and quirky that you can rightly use the term genius. Devin Townsend, Mike Patton and Tom Waits are a few. I believe that Jamie Lenman deserves to be on that list. He is possibly an alchemist, possibly a sorcerer and I’m not completely convinced that he is human. It has been a very long time that I have heard an album so completely weird and yet make perfect sense. Jamie Lenman saunters along helping himself to bits of any genre he fancies creating stunning pieces of music like a Frankenstein of sound. It is a joyous ride into the mind of one of the best songwriters the U.K. has produced. I can’t think of any reason why anyone wouldn’t fall in love with this album. It’s got crunch, grove, melody for days and lyrics that will tattooed to your brain forever. This should be a world beater and if there is any justice Ed (if I hear Galway girl one more time I’m going to headbut a wall) Sheeran would be playing clubs to twenty people and Jamie Lenman would be drowning in awards. I hope it will be a reality soon

Amenra – Mass VI

This is the sound of your own personal demons forming a band. Amenra will crawl under your skin and slowly start pulling at your nerve endings until the breath leaves your lungs and you feel like your heart is going to burst out of your chest. Taking their cues from bands like Neurosis and converge, Amenra create a sound that’s rawer, darker and travels deeper. They are unbelievably heavy, with a rumble that can level mountains. The passages of tranquility are simply a pause for breath. Like standing on the ledge before you take the step off and plunge down. They are an open wound, the sound of pain, grief and rage. Listening to “mass VI” is like being privy to someone’s personal catharsis. It leaves you feeling exhausted and emotionally drained but cleansed. This is in no way an album for everyone, it is too raw. If however you are willing to step into the world that Amenra have created, it will be an experience you will not forget.


Top 20 of 2017: 10 & 9

Mastodon – emperor of sand

Daft as it may sound, even though I have every Mastodon album they’ve never really stuck with me. I get the technical ability but I’ve never fallen in love with any of their releases. “Emperor of sand” changes all of that. You cannot just listen to bits of this album. It needs to be treated as a complete work. It is a true journey of an album, a trek through a wasteland that needs repeated listens to get even a rough sense of the cartography. You feel the hot desert wind in your eyes and the harsh grit beneath your feet. It is both a piece of epic grandeur and heartbreakingly fragile and human. Musically they outclass pretty much everyone of their contemporaries but even though this is a prog album it never wanders off or gets distracted. When it needs to its crushingly heavy but has melody at its core. It is the album that mastodon have been building up too. It is not only a stunning work of art but for me makes their previous work make more sense. A true masterpiece.

Creeper – eternity in your arms

I have been listening to rock and metal for many years. In this time I have seen many promising young bands go on to do great things. Even searching the depth of my memory I cannot think of any British band (or any band for that matter) who are stadium ready on their debut album. Feel free to message me if you can but I genuinely can’t. For a young band Creeper have songwriting abilities way beyond their age. Every song on “eternity in your arms” is massive. Wembley arena, everyone singing massive. They combine the frantic energy and melody of AFI and alkaline trio with the pure bombast of bands like Queen. What I really love is that they are unashamedly punk. They have done this all they’re own way and we should be proud of that. From the first EP they have continued to get bigger and gain more loyal fans. Seriously, baring any catastrophe I can’t see how Creeper won’t become the biggest British punk band since the clash. Honestly watch these guys because they’re the most exciting thing to happen in UK music for a very long time



Top 20 of 2017: 12 & 11

Bronx – V

Are the Bronx the best punk rock band around at the moment? Yes, no question. They are probably the best punk band of their generation. They have continued to release classic albums and “V” doesn’t change that. In fact it almost gets boring that each Bronx album is flawless. From the second you press play they are in full attack mode and the pace rarely lets up. They have aggression and melody by the bucket load. What sets the Bronx apart from pretty much everyone else though is pure, unadulterated rock and roll swagger. Each and every second of this album drips confidence and cool. This is a band who know that they are untouchable and demonstrate that with style. Tracks like “side effects” and “two birds” will be lodged in your brain for months. If you want to hear the sound of modern punk rock play “V” as loud as you can.

Life of agony – a place where there’s no more pain

I love Life of agony a ridiculous amount. “River runs red” was the album that started me off with my love of hardcore and even though they have left that genre a long time ago I still think they are a stunning band. I cannot begin to describe how excited I was when I heard that for the first time in 12 years there was going to be a new album. It doesn’t disappoint. In fact “a place where there’s no more pain” is everything I wanted and could hope for. At times it is thunderously heavy, has a grove a mile wide and has riffs the size of mountains. Above it all glide Mina Caputo’s vocals, both powerful and fragile. This is an album that encapsulates everything that is wonderful and unique about this band. They fit into no genre and sound like no one else. They are life of agony and it’s great to have them back!



Top 20 of 2017: 14 & 13

14: the black dahlia Murder – nightbringers

In my opinion the black Dahlia Murder have been the most consistently brilliant death metal band full stop. They always level the place live and they’ve never released a bad album. Nightbringers is no different. It is a full on raging beast of an album foaming at the mouth and kicking holes in the walls. It doesn’t slow down for a moment, throwing out monumental guitar riffs and songs dripping with gore like it doesn’t even have time to breath. However the element that makes the black Dahlia Murder stand out above all other death metal bands is an overwhelming sense of fun. There isn’t a single moment in this album that I didn’t have a huge grin on my face. I’m also certain that the band were exactly the same. They produce an exuberant, unrivalled sense of joy that at its height reminds me why I got into heavy music. This is a sound that bypasses the brain and goes straight to your gut and your spine. It is a full on headbanging thrill ride that needs to be played repeatedly and as loud as possible.

13: The menzingers – after the party

I’m not sure at what point I realised that “after the party” was set to be a classic. The menzingers have always been a great rock band, but nothing has really stuck with me. That has all changed with this album. After the first play I can pretty much guarantee that I’ll still be playing this album when I’m in my final years. It’s all down to songwriting. Every track is wonderfully crafted, with lyrics that will clamp themselves to your brain so you will be singing them forever. It’s a horrible word but “mature” sums it up. This is music by guys in their 30’s writing about being in their 30’s which is massively refreshing. With “after the party” the menzingers have reached Bruce Springsteen levels of rock greatness and have made a glorious piece of work

Top 20 of 2017: 16 & 15

16: code orange – forever

You wake up in the dark. You’re confused and in pain. Someone has hit you and tied your hands. With a bit of light from your phone you realise that you are in the boot of a car. Then the crunching starts and as your phone dies and you are plunged into darkness, you realise that the car is being crushed. THIS is the sound of “forever” by code orange. Without a doubt the most intense, claustrophobic album I’ve heard in a long time. Not since the early days of fear factory have I been convinced that machines are going to kill us. Deep heavy riffs enhanced by the occasional industrial blasts of electronics. The faint hint of melody offers a salvation that never comes. This album is an intense nightmare made whole and needs to be experienced by all

15: wolves in the throne room – thrice woven

I am very aware that WITTR albums take a long time to process so it’s position in this list will increase over the next few years. It took me four months before their “black cascade” album even began to sink in for me and “thrice woven” is no different. WITTR have taken that American black metal template and stretched and refined it. At over 40 minutes in 5 tracks it is not an easy listen but you get out of it what you put in. If you are happy to invest the time you will find that you move past the black metal and calmer elements of folk and unearth so many levels and details that are slowly revealed. However the complex levels and technicality does not detract from the shear ferocity at the heart of “thrice woven”. Special mention needs to go to Steve Von Till who makes a vocal guest appearance and has a voice that sounds like Odin. WITTR have taken black metal and continue to push it to greater lengths. “Thrice woven” is a genuinely stunning piece of art.