Earthquaker | SMALL RECORD REVIEWS: ISSUE #2

KingHiss

KING HISSEarthquaker

Sludge quartet King Hiss have over the years cemented themselves as one of the top dogs in the Belgian rock scene, and if their forthcoming third album – Earthquaker – is anything to go by, there are set to climb even further up the ranks, because this is an absolute blinder we’ve got on our hands here.

For starters, Jan’s voice is a thing of beauty, covering a broad range and donning a firm, assertive power. While he keeps himself occupied, Josh bashes out these heaving, aggressive guitar tones that are so freaking scuzzy, adding an effectively resonating punch to each track, while the hard-edged bass lines from Visioene are oozing with dankness and Jason’s drums hit with a potent weight behind them.

Throughout, it never feels like they stick to the one format. Whether subtly or noticeably, they are constantly changing it up and as a result, I’m never bored and stay hot on the hype train.

You get a ripe selection of strong mid-tempo pieces like Kilmister, Black Wolf and the titular number, intermixed with these all-out assaults where they blast through with full intensity at a ridiculously high speed, including Revolt and the damn catchy Desertsurfer.

And you know what, the music itself is so glorious that the writing could be taken for granted, but the lyrics are genuinely good and worth paying attention to, being at their best in the likes of Vomit, Sum Of All Nightmares and the monumental Butcher.

End to end, this is a supreme effort, with the four easily crafting together a candidate for the single best heavy record I’ve heard to have come out of mainland Europe in the entirety of 2019. The negatives are at a bare minimum while the positives excel at an optimum. How in the hell are these guys not bigger?

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Cherry

THE CHERRY WAVESolasta

It’s been a fair while since I’ve come across a properly worthwhile shoegaze record, but luckily, Glasgow quintet The Cherry Wave were on hand to treat me to their recently released third album – Solasta.

The boys hit out hard with a batch of noisy, fuzzy tracks such as Superdruid, Rotter and the catchy Ostara Dawn, which are high on the bass crunch and thumping drum blows, complemented by the solid, distorted guitar tones.

They do also offer something a little more poppy and energetic with the likes of Ache For The Glow, Cianalas Breeze and Reverse Hisako, featuring memorably hooking choruses to boot.

The band regularly go back and forth between these styles to keep things fresh enough to hold interest, notably stepping up their games in the later tracks, with OOZE and Bloodshot Suns wrapping things up in a wild, intoxicating manner.

A couple of underwhelming, repetitious spots here and there, I’m not going to lie, but these are rare and do little to detract from what is otherwise a tidy record from a group whose years of grafting and refining their abilities has done them wonders.

***OUT NOW***


AWS

ASSUMING WE SURVIVEThe Enemy Within

LA four-piece Assuming We Survive have been on the grind for over a decade, put out multiple records, served as support for mighty big names and have clocked up a sizeable fanbase, so it would only be safe to predict that their latest EP – The Enemy Within – would make a positive impression, and not shockingly, it did.

The verses of the opener Too Close are good enough, but the gear is well and truly cranked up as they charge into the blowaway chorus, in the processing getting across their infectious sound which is heavy while featuring visible pop-punk influences that will click with fans of the genre.

Their most recent single Prisoner is even heavier yet, with that being mainly attributed to the hefty twin guitars from Phil and Johnny in combination with Kris’ pounding drum fills, and at the forefront is vocalist Adrian whose voice is not only quite sturdy but superbly conveys the great writing that defines this track.

In a similar light, the quartet lower the pace and allow for the emotions to be unleashed and ride high in the captivating Lost, but it’s not long before they switch the tempo back around to an insane degree for the final number, Smile Sometime, a jam-packed song that is dynamic and has me reeling on the way out.

Assuming We Survive had a simple job: come in armed with music, make an impact, and leave, and by god, did they accomplish that in the most glorious way possible. The Enemy Within may be a short ride, but it’s a seriously entertaining one both new and long-time listeners will find easy to fall in love with.

***OUT NOW***

IN ASSOCIATION WITH EARSHOT MEDIA & INVOGUE RECORDS


Dreamhouse

DREAMHOUSEReverberating Silence

Out of all the bands hailing from the other side of the Atlantic that I’ve had the pleasure of discovering recently, Milwaukee alternative rock quartet Dreamhouse have stood out to be one of the most promising of the lot, and this stems from their freshly released debut album – Reverberating Silence.

From bell to bell, the record is loaded with these larger than life tracks that have heaps of energy riding behind them to invigorate the senses.

Taking lead is frontwoman Brianna who comes equipped with a tremendous voice that is sweeping with pure passion, and when at full strength, she adds a considerable size to each of the already hefty songs. Elsewhere, Derek’s riffs are pretty good and contribute to the stimulating melodies, while Jared and Michael produce these thumping, pack-a-punch rhythms on the bass and kit.

If there was one element holding them back, however, it would be that the majority of the numbers are quite formulaic, with the four doing very little on the surface to mix things up, and it’s not until the last couple of pieces that they take a visibly different direction and finally provide something more fresh before it starts wearing thin.

But with that said, what does carry them through are the next-level performances in their respective areas, as a result treating us to enjoyably memorable bangers such as Losing Myself, Tie Me Down and Closer To Comfort that can be spun time and time again without getting old.

So despite a couple of drawbacks, Dreamhouse have made a substantial effort to produce a great record that is consistently running at an exciting scale which is so infectious and able to hook in new fans real easily.

As touched upon in the intro, I really do feel this group hold a tonne of potential, as demonstrated in what they bring to the table here, and if able to dig down and broaden their horizons sound-wise, you can bet on this outfit climbing the charts and playing to bigger audiences in the near future.

***OUT NOW***

IN ASSOCIATION WITH EARSHOT MEDIA & INVOGUE RECORDS


DETOXI

DETOXIFirst Flesh

The post punk genre has been real healthy over the last couple of years, with multiple acts around my neck of the woods such as The Ninth Wave, Walt Disco and Gravelle making a stamp in one form or another as of late, so when presented with Californian band Detoxi and their brand new album First Flesh, I was happy to oblige and was definitely not let down.

Within moments of Grey Lines kicking off, that’s me hooked, and one aspect instantly standing out is Derek’s vocals. The man boasts an excellent voice that is sharp and has you forced into hearing and hanging onto every word he spouts out.

Defining the general sound is a combination of cracking riffs, ringing bass chords, great drumming and awesome keys that help to produce these superb, blistering rhythms that, at the majority of the time, charge through at an insane pace, resulting in a batch of wild, breath-sapping thrillers such as Modus Operandi, Crooked Smile, Nonsense and the immensely catchy lead single Death Of A Nation.

But as if the music wasn’t enough, they take it to yet another level with resolute writing, where they are not afraid to speak their minds on the current social climate, their observations usually serving as a perfect reflection to ongoing situations in the country; cases in point: Cult Culture, Shape Shifter and Black Square, to name a few.

First Flesh is a masterwork; a frantic, unyielding blitz that refuses to simmer down at any given moment, instead opting to grab the listener and take them on a ride that is joyously crazy yet isn’t without a fair share of substance, filling the brain with some meaningful, poignant content along the way.

***OUT NOW***

IN ASSOCIATION WITH EARSHOT MEDIA


BernieL

BERNIE LEROUXEmpty Sounds

Today’s record is an interesting case, created by keen poet Bernie Leroux from Deer Lake, who over the years has put lyrics to paper, but in all this time hadn’t done much with them. That is until now, when he finally picked up the guitar, locked himself away into the studio and starting piecing together what would eventually become his debut album – Empty Sounds.

From his words spawn these nice primarily acoustic songs that are for the most part straightforward, simply accessible to listeners from any walk of life. Some of them are upbeat and entertain with catchy melodies – Dark Side Of The City and Ice & Snow spring to mind, for example – while others roll at a slower pace, allowed to breathe and let the audience take in the content, as displayed in Fire & Wind and Empty Sounds itself.

It should come as no surprise, but given his background, the strongest element that is consistent throughout is the writing, being often sentimental and quite easy to connect with; the highlights in this regard including Talk To Me, Backroads and especially the emotionally gripping Momma’s Blue Eyes, which is the definitive highlight from this package, and enhancing this factor is Bernie’s country rock-inspired vocal deliveries.

Truthfully speaking, not everything clicks here, but when it does, Empty Sounds proves to be a solid sleeper product that shines with a refreshing humble quality not usually seen to this degree in music these days.

***OUT NOW***


STADIUM

STADIUM* – Some People Are Inconvenient

Stadium* is a name that has been cropping around my feeds quite often as of late, before the Glaswegian rock trio found their way into my inbox with their debut EP handy – Some People Are Inconvenient – so what better time than now to give them some attention.

Voodoo treats us to a cracking drum intro to kick things off, and once they let loose, we get a lot of energy coming through the brisk riffs. A Moment Of Clarity unfortunately falls a little on the weaker side though, not offering much to latch on to

But they recover with the short and sharp Bonesaw, where the rhythm packs way more of a considerable punch, and finally we get Safe Space, which serves as a pretty strong finale with it’s sleek melody, nice chords and indisputably the best, most mature writing of the lot.

So while there is noticeable hitches and the mixing could have been better, the band’s first record is a solid result nonetheless, where the good stuff outweighs the negatives and shows off the potential that this outfit possibly muster.

***OUT NOW***

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