Cultural Other – ‘Can’t Explain The Tide’

Screen shot 2014-09-29 at 19.08.31The first time I heard the intro to Can’t Explain The Tide, I definitely didn’t realise that it was a live recording. However, things quickly became clearer with the arrival of second track P.I.P (Persuasion Is Power) and what I initially felt was an awkward shift in production style.

Can’t Explain The Tide, to my somewhat confused ears, sounds like a live band recording with a strong possibility of additional overdubs and some extra studio magic. As much as I love live recordings, it has to be said that when they don’t go well, it makes for difficult listening. Cultural Other do have some fucking sick ideas going on in here, but the way they’ve been presented doesn’t do justice to the obvious effort, passion, and thought that’s gone into the composition, songwriting, and performances.

This EP’s intro offers brilliantly jazzy brushstrokes, glassy clean guitars, and Maynard James Keenan-esque vocals; but beyond that bursting-with-promise 103 seconds lies too-harsh distortion along with bass tones that lack power and punch, and weak drum sounds. Cultural Other’s ambition is obvious, the songs themselves are very cool, and you can hear how each instrumentalist means it – but the final result sounds too much like a live demo to grab the listener by the balls (or equivalent female parts) in the way it honestly should.

Cultural Other are definitely a band to watch – but on this evidence (and their recent live set at the Boileroom), they’re still a way off realising their own clear-cut and achievable ambitions. Fortunately, it’s only a matter of time before these guys finally get where they want to be.

Links

Can’t Explain The Tide drops on November 14th. See Cultural Other’s website for updates.

Live Review: Mike TV / Strange Planes / Flatline Stereo (The Boileroom, Guildford, 26/9/14)

mike tv album launchFlatline Stereo

Really cool pop punk delivered in a straight-ahead, no frills manner. Think Green Day but British, and you’re most of the way there.

Although Flatline Stereo took a few songs to hit their stride, once they got there this set became seriously impressive. Energy, movement, confidence, power, vocal pitching and punchiness – all were present and correct, making this a great start to the night. The only issue came right at the end of Flatline Stereo’s set, where a Buzzcocks/Blondie medley gave off wedding-band vibes and suggested (as all sets that end on covers do) a lack of confidence with their own original material. That lack of confidence is unfounded; Flatline Stereo should definitely ditch the covers and get behind their own songs. They’re more than worth it.

Strange Planes

At this point, the audience took a real turn for the worse. Flatline Stereo received plenty of punk-loving appreciation, but by the time Strange Planes took the stage the atmosphere felt more like a comedy night than a punk gig, complete with hostile/apathetic ‘Fuck you, we want the main act’ vibe. Strange Planes do boast plenty of tough-as-nails riff-driven stoner-punk tunes which touched on a Reuben vibe at times – and I was starting to get into it when the crowd (at least those who didn’t stay glued to the bar) broke the band.

I’ve only ever seen a set collapse this severely for stand-up comics – and Strange Planes aren’t weak or wussy performers, either. Abusive heckles, crossed arms, and scowls fucked Strange Planes in as it would have even the best band in the world, and it was really sad to see.

Mike TV

Mike TV are the happiest band ever, bar only Reel Big Fish. The primarily out-of-town crowd finally seemed to perk up at least a bit in the face of fun songs, some of the best between-song banter I’ve possibly ever witnessed, a guitarist who looks scarily like Frank Zappa, and a frontman unafraid to kiss a Finnish fan who “tastes of young Tory cock”. This was clearly what a large percentage of the audience had come to see, and for me it totally turned my mood around.

Regardless of what comes before them, Mike TV can still make you happy. That’s a serious achievement, so be sure to catch them on tour last week. You’ll need a time machine to manage that, but it’ll be worth the hassle of inventing one. Oh, and if you’re not into the support acts, don’t act like a complete cunt.

Links

Mike TV official website.

Strange Planes on Facebook and Twitter.

Flatline Stereo on Facebook and Twitter.

The Boileroom official website.

I Divide – ‘Last One Standing’

i divide last one standingPure punk-metal grit, guts, and glory. Stick-in-the-head songcraft; one-inch-punch drums; confident and melodic guitar work; sick beatdowns – all that and more is present on opening track and lead single Follow Me alone. Personal highlights abounded on Last One Standing, but it you were to stick a gun in my ear and force three choices I’d have to pick Tell Me Something‘s epic drum work; second single I’m Not Leaving‘s slick and slinky electronic touches; and Living In A Hurricane‘s modern rock chorus-writing mastery.

Overall, Last One Standing is a must for all lovers of generation-defining rock music. Edgy, attitude-laden, and incredibly accessible – I Divide have really hit the mark here. These guys deserve to go as far as human possibility allows.

Links / Listen

I Divide official website.

Idiom – ‘Movement EP’

idiom movementI’m not one for golden-age thinking. Although the alt-metal movement that got me into music birthed some breathtaking albums, a lot of it was shit. Alt-metal’s new breed, however, are taking the best of the past and using it to forge a better future.

Movement is a prime example of this. Rage Against The Machine’s snotty rap-metal attitude and deeply grooving riffs, nu metal’s penchant for dynamic shifts and thick walls of sound, and a healthy bit of Avenged Sevenfold-style widdling are all present and correct on Movement‘s opening title track – and what a statement of intent that is. Beyond Movement‘s ton-of-bricks impact lies Braindead – think (Hed) PE, Limp Bizkit, and Skindred jamming their nuts off – and much more vintage-modern tuneage in the form of Said And Done (catchy clean vocal hooks over depraved distortion); In The Fall (full of Sonic Boom Six’s punky bounce and call-to-arms lyricism); Cold Night Run (wicked 6/8 grooves filled with tense anticipation); and Red (bass-heavy riffs and rolling drums driving an irresistible chorus and blissfully soaring guitar solo). From start to finish, it’s all a win.

Overall, Movement is the 100% authentic, real alt-metal deal. On behalf of those who saw this movement take flight the first time around, well fucking done.

Links / Listen

Idiom official website.

Live Review: Black Futures / Seething Akira / Biometrix (The Boileroom, Guildford, 25/9/14)

Black-Futures-live 1It’s weird to think this gig would never have happened had the Boileroom’s licence been suspended – but the former did happen, because the latter wasn’t. The peacefully dubstep-loving crowds were out in droves last night to check out:

Biometrix

Already a buzzing name on the local circuit, this time out Biometrix did suffer from an audience who were either lacking liquid encouragement or saving their moshing virginities “for the right moment”. Nonetheless, Biometrix still forged ahead with fiercely energetic tunes, many bestial riffs, and an enthusiastic if visibly underwhelmed stage presence. Biometrix clearly thrive on a give-and-take energy flow; I’m looking forward to seeing them take the stage to a more up-for-it audience in the future.

That said, I reckon that had Biometrix taken out their obviously pent-up frustrations on their instruments instead of keeping them bottled up, this set would have been off-the-charts insane – and all that aforementioned virginal withholding would have been abandoned.

Seething Akira

More than just a winning name, Seething Akira sound like Rage Against The Machine jamming with Pendulum. Moist yet? You should be.

First single Firepower induced some serious premarital moshing – and all that sinful surrender was rewarded by extra-hyperactive onstage movement. The Boileroom came to life for Seething Akira – and for the band themselves this was a clearly confidence-boosting outing. Seething Akira were absolutely the ideal warmup act for…

Black Futures

…who (my turn to confess a sin here) I’d never seen live before. The band formerly known as Subsource have something of a reputation for being kind of good live – and with a double-bass-toting badass for a vocalist, Vince Welch’s ridiculously powerful drumming, and a shit-ton of wicked guitar and synth work shoving riffs and melodies and wubs through the PA, I can see why that reputation precedes them.

Black-Futures-live 2

Black Futures’ future-punk, to my ears, renders previous punk models all but obsolete while setting the bar intimidatingly high for bandwagon-jumpers. This night, Black Futures made it clear that they remain in a class of their own – and with Red Bull-fuelled peers snapping at their heels and an obviously bottomless reservoir of ambition and energy on tap, it’s going to be extremely exciting to see how things progress from here…

Big love and respect as always to the Boileroom crew for putting on another top-drawer night.

Links

Black Futures on Facebook and Twitter.

Seething Akira on Facebook and Twitter.

Biometrix on Facebook and Twitter.

The Boileroom official website.

All images © Blackham Images.

BEAR – ‘Mantiis’

bear mantiisBEAR know how to fucking rock. Tighter than a gimp suit that’s been left in the wash and as dense as a black hole’s singularity, on Mantiis Belgium’s loud-and-clear answer to the Dillinger Escape Plan take on desire, exploitation, and self-centredness via much brutal riffing and a no-nonsense video. Not for the faint of heart, but an undeniable blinder for the rest of us.

Links / Video

BEAR official website.

Cea Serin – ‘The Vibrant Sound Of Bliss And Decay’

cea serinOn The Vibrant Sound of Bliss and Decay – Cea Serin’s second LP – the self-proclaimed Snergonian mercurial metallers slaughter and sacrifice many a metal subgenre in the name of birthing something somewhat unique.

Dream-Theater-meet-Symphony-X riffs, chugs, and athletic drumming displays are layered beneath brutalising death metal screams and impressively clean vocal harmonies, with not a single profligate note or beat making itself heard over the course of five tightly-packed tracks. Compositionally speaking, it’s clear that Cea Serin have put in the time, effort, and energy (in this case, a decade’s worth of the above) and spared nothing whatsoever in the face of their sheer ambition and drive; there’s a remarkable dynamic balance on tracks like Ice and closing 20-minute epic What Falls Away, where things frequently take a turn for the mellow. Regardless of mood, the musicianship is exceptional throughout, and the production job is world-class too; overall, The Vibrant Sound of Bliss and Decay is precisely that, and nothing less.

Links / Listen

The Vibrant Sound of Bliss and Decay is released on October 6th; buy via Bandcamp and get the CD with an instant download of the full album!

Cea Serin official website.