Somehow I didn’t have the time to write anything during the past few weeks so I thought I might start things of with a little rundown on the records I purchased over that timespan. Well, my oh my, there’s a lot to talk about and honestly I can’t even remember when I got all that stuff. I must have been really busy… Anyway, here we go Asiflash/Eiltank “Split” LP
Cologne’s finest who I think I saw live at least one time while they were supporting some other band. But what I do know is that you get to see a lot of stickers all round the city so the Asiflash street team must be pretty reliable. Their side is upbeat hardcore, very classic, short songs, no huge surprises, but the way they play it the music sounds good to me. They share this record with Eiltank, yet another band from Cologne who – I have to be honest – I had never heard of before. Their sound wanders off a lot more into the D-beat direction, just think of all those Portland bands that might come to your minds. A great deal of punkrock in there as well. Good split record which represents the Cologne scene pretty well.
Beware Of Safety “Dogs” 2xLP
Completely different story for this one as this isn’t nearly as noisy as the first record in this post. I just grabbed this because I kind of liked the cover design, but the music easily keeps up with the outside. Long lasting instrumental songs in the vein of bands like Explosions In The Sky or This Will Destroy You, but at some points they are also incorporating the bursts of energy and desperation just as Mono feature them every now and then. Beware Of Safety are a four pice from the States and seem to be pretty new to the whole bunch of instrumental bands floating around nowadays. While it gets pretty hard to find really unique bands in this genre I still like this record just for what it is. A very good instrumental LP with lots of small things to find out while listening to it over and over again. This is nothing special, but it’s very well done.
Caspian “The Four Trees” 2x LP
Caspian “You Are The Conductor” LP
I only checked out Caspian, because someone offered us to play a show with the band at the end of september (which won’t happen because I’m not in the country at the time). What I wrote about Beware Of Safety can easily be used for Caspian as well.
From Monument To Masses “On Little Known Frequencies” 2xLP
I was always fascinate by a band playing instrumental music yet incorporating so many samples into their songs. The way the do it makes a speechless music very talkative. I believe I first heard a song by From Monument To Masses while driving to a show in a friend’s car and I was instantly hooked. Their songs sound quite complicate the first time you hear them, but in the end they are easy to follow and it’s fun to recognize so many little things in them, small themes that occur every now and then, really tiny musical figures that pop up suddenly and you only realize they are there the more often you listen to the records.
Torche “Healer/Across The Shields” 12″
Now this was something I hadn’t expected when I brought this one home. I bought one record by Torche before and I remember them sounding rather slow and twisted, very sludgy and doomish. My memory might be playing tricks on me though. But this is something completely different. Just four songs, but with a lot more drive than I had expected. There’s a way bigger rock ‘n’ roll feeling to those songs than to the ones I thought I had in mind. That being said it takes nothing away from the quality of the songs. Heck, they also use backing vocals to accentuate the lead vocals. This sounds a lot more like Cave-In to me. I like this.
Planks “s/t” LP
Labelmates of ours (Arktika) which is why I gave this a try. The record has a lot of D-beat influences and sounds like the guys really want to go to Portland, Oregon once in their lives. No, I’m just kidding. Although the similarities are quite obvious, at least that’s what it seems to me. This is really, really heavy stuff. They do have their moshparts, but I guess I like the fast sequences better, as they are a lot more aggressive. I’d really like to see them play live once. Must be a lot of fun. Maybe a chance will occur in the future where us and Planks will play a show together somewhere. Looking forward to that day.
Black Friday ’29 “s/t (2009)” LP
Ruhrpott’s finest with yet another release. Black Friday ’29 have been around forever now and although I wasn’t really getting into their music at the beginning I have to admit they have truly earned their place at the forefront of German hardcore. This is nothing new, mind you. But the way they present their brand of old school late 80’s hardcore is just great. And while they are very good at what they do musically they also fly the flag for hardcore being more than music. When they were playing in Cologne a while ago they were encouraging people to donate money for a child they adopted in Africa. Now that’s cool and it shows that they are not just talk but take action, no matter how small that action might be. You really have to give the band credit for that.
No FX “Frisbee” LP
Need I say anything about this release? I truly don’t think so. This is what you might expect it to be. Pure and genuine No FX. Sometimes I’m really glad that there are bands who do not change a single thing in their approach to writing their music. That being said No FX to me have always been a band which doesn’t sit back and repeat themselves over and over again. It might sound like that, yes, but to me they don’t. There’s always something new in their music and that’s what I love about them. I can understand why people are fed up with a band like this but to me their records will always be something I will buy with my eyes closed.
Isis “Wavering Radiant” 2xLP
Seems like they have been backpaddeling slightly with this release. Although I really liked the predecessor I’m also glad to hear that the aggressiveness has returned to the sound of Isis. They might change whatever they want the are still the band who sets the marks for any other band in this genre. No gimmicks, no need for side effects, Isis is just Isis, pure and raw. The hard and heavyness of their early days might have been sudstituted with a little bit more finesse, it might not be as overwhleming as before … wait, it still IS overwhelming. Their sound, although not as raw as before, is still as brutal as always. Just like a lavastream you have to run away from, but you don’t, because it’s too beautiful to behold.
The Drift “Memory Drawings” 2xLP
I stumbled across this band while listening to the local college radio station kölncampus one day. Because the rotation of songs they play there is very different something like The Drift catches your ears rather easily. this again is instrumental music in the vein of Explosions In The Sky and to a certain extent I am not quite sure because of the sheer number of bands who play this sound nowadays where the true difference is in their music. Still The Drift have every right to be there. Maybe it’s the use of a trumpet which kept me listening to the song while it was playing on the radio. It’s not that slow music, rather driving and upbeat, but not overly aggressive. Nice one to listen to while working on other things.
Organism “Hope” LP
I can’t help but listen to chaotic hardcore from Japan every once in a while. Which is why I got this record. Organism hail from Osaka and easily fit in one section with bands like Warhead or Gauze. Hectic, chaotic, anarchic, powerful. The picture on the backcover fits that description perfetcly with the band looking like they are coming straight from the 1980’s. The titles of songs themselves also have this nostalgic ring to them, just one word at a time (“Hope”, “Neet”, “Humanity”, and so on). An instant classic.
Lymbyc Systym “Love Your Abuser” LP
I first noticed Lymbyc Systym when they put out a record alongside This Will Destroy You which made a lot of sense when you compare those two bands. Just as the latter Lymbyc Systym really know how to build up excitement and they are really good in hitting the spot to let everything break loose just at the right time. This isn’t very aggressive stuff, mind you. They are very humble, quiet and laid back. But at the same time they know how to create a sound which keeps on drawing you inside, whatever there may be. They also use a lot of sound effects to go along with the usual instrumentation.
This Will Destroy You “Young Mountain” LP
Speaking of This Will Destroy You, here’s what must be a re-release of their first output. Anyone who knows the other records won’t be surprised by what’s on this record as it is just what you might expect. Now, everything I wrote about Lymbyc Systym just fits perfectly for This Will Destroy You as well. Which is why I found it so fitting that both bands shared a split recording a while ago. The build up to the explosion of sound is of the biggest interest to me and every time I hear it, although I perfectly know what to expect, it’s always as surprising as it is the first time you listen to it. When bands are able to create that kind of feeling I think they are truly good. And although there are a lot of bands trying to accomplish that, I think there’s only a small number of them who actually are capable of doing so. And This Will Destroy You are most definetely one of them.
Russian Circles “Enter” LP
Russian Circles “Station” LP
It’s hard to believe that this is just a three-piece band with the massive sound they are able to create. I was introduced to Russian Circles while driving back from a show we played in Münster and they completely blew me away. You are never sure about what to expect and what twist and turn their music will take the next second. It might die down and become very quiet and slow, it might explode into a breakdown moshpart, they might even come at you with a Muse-like guitar-lead. It’s that kind of mystery which makes these records so much fun to listen to. This band isn’t so much into creating soundscapes, they come at you in a more direct way and challenge you to keep up with their creativity.
Bohren & Der Club Of Gore “Dolores” 2xLP
To be honest, I was shying away from picking up a record by that band, mainly because of their status. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect in the first place. All the reviews I read had been raving about how extreme that band is. So I felt kind of intimidated by the legend, I guess. Now, when I gave this record a try I felt instantly reminded of the music Kenji Kawai wrote for the “Ghost In The Shell” movies. Very slow, very atmospheric, yet very downplayed. Not much fanfare anywhere. Very simplistic and minimal. Dare I say this is something I might call minimal ambient? If there is anything like that? No, I won’t. But I have to admit, that I was holding myself back for nothing. This definetely is something like a lot. And while a lot of people will laugh at me for not picking up a record earlier, I am happy I did so.
Constants “The Foundation / The Machine / The Ascension” 3xLP
Yeah, I know. Pretentious asshole all over again. I admit it, at first I was taking notice of this one only because it was a triple LP with a very nice cover. I am a sucker for those things alright. Still the reason I bought this was the music, albeit music I didn’t expect to find at all. This Boston band is more in the vein of Isis’ “In The Absense Of Truth” with the vocals being a lot clearer than those on other records from this genre. The music as well sounds a lot broader and “roomier”, as if the band recorded this in a huge hall or something like that. So if you want to be mean you could say Constants are just copying that phase of Isis. But I believe there’s a lot more to that. They truly do have their own approach and while I don’t know what it is, I think the are unique in their own way. Maybe it’s because they a slightly more melodic than the band which sounds like they are their idols.
The Casting Out “Go Crazy Throw Fireworks!” LP
Which brings us to the final record of this round-up. I still remember the time when everybody around here was going crazy about Boysetsfire. That band was THE big thing back in the days and they played a legendary show in the small room of the “Underground” club here in Cologne. You still find people who are getting tears in their eyes when they talk about that concert. Still time moved on and here we have a band which features the singer of aforementioned Boysetsfire. Anyone expecting something which sounds like hardcore has to be disappointed. The Casting Out is catchy pop-punk which I mistook for No Use For A Name when I heard it in the record store. And that’s not meant as an insult. There hasn’t been a melodic pop-punk band in a long time who caught my attantion just like that. They have all it takes to put out great music. The vocals are brilliant (as always, that was the one thing Boysetsfire was best known for in my friends cirlces), the music is very catchy, the chorus is always right up to the point, what else can you ask for?