EXTENDED PLAY: Bite-Sized Morsels Of Musical Mayhem Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Mark Ashby and Dave Prince   
Saturday, 22 July 2017 04:00

We have a mixed bag of EPs for you this month, covering a variety of genres, from blues-infused classic rock through hardcore grind to extreme black metal…


So, let’s not beat about the bush and jump straight into the middle of the latest batch of little shiny discs and electronically transmitted missives to wing their way to URHQ, shall we?


1818 – ‘Hiraeth’ (Pavement Entertainment)


1818Hailing from Pennsylvania, 1818 play blue collar American rock/metal that hits hard and, in places, punches above its weight, as it displays a maturity that belies the fact that this young quartet have been together for little more than two years. In that period, however, they certainly have put the graft in, especially in terms of live appearances, supporting just about any band who will give them a slot on the bill.


Certainly, this work has paid off and is evident on the tightness of the five songs on this, their debut recording. Each and every one of them is both punchy and well-crafted, with eloquently understated use of aggression counterpointing the impressive main melodies at key moments. At times reminding of a young Trivium, at others of an unholy fusion of Corrosion Of Conformity and Clutch, the easiest personal reference I personally can find is a band called Ikillya, who tread a very similar path in their blend of classic and new age, old and new world metal influences into a cohesive and coherent amalgam of technically precise but passionately delivered monstrousness. Standout track is the towering ‘Bastard’, which summarizes all of the points beautifully in just three and a quarter minutes of stunning simplicity. (MA)


‘Hiraeth’ is out now. You can get your copy HERE.




Black Cat Bones – ‘Down To The River’ (Self-Released)


Black Cat Bones Cover ArtworkIt’s been a busy year so far for Liverpool quintet BCB, with touring slots supporting the likes of Marco Mendoza, my muckers The Answer and Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown, not to mention a just completed run of dates with Massive and Tequila Mockingbyrd. So, how they found time to record this second EP (for some strange reason described as a “reboot” in the accompanying press material) is a testament to their work ethic.


The result is a decent slab of rock ‘n’ roll, very firmly rooted in the British blues-rock culture with plenty of vim and energy, and an innate ear for a well-crafted song and a catchy hook.   Alan Rimmer’s riffs have enough grit in them to have you picking the bits out of the soles of your boots for a few days afterwards, and Jonnie Hodson has a strong voice which draws out the melodies of the songs and also possesses enough dirt in its growl to grow a fairly decent crop of tomatoes. To be honest, while there’s nothing that really jumps out at you, the songs are solid, with plenty of grunt and strength to them, and both the band and the tunes definitely will appeal to fans of everyone from The Faces through The Quireboys to Rival Sons. (MA)


‘Down To The River’ is released on 29 September. Black Cat Bones play The Station in Cannock tonight (Saturday 22 July).




Blurring – Cloud Burner’ (Self-Released)


Blurring. Cloud Burner. artDespite having been kicking around for about five years now, Blurring will be a name unfamiliar to probably all but the most devoted of hardcore purist. However, the band’s constituent members should need no introduction, as the line-up features one Dan Lilker (formerly of Anthrax and Brutal Truth) on bass, alongside his former BT rhythm partner Erik Burke, guitarists Matt Colbert and Scott D’Agostino (both from another of Burke’s projects, Kalibas), and Warblade’s Mark Welden on vocals.


Two years after their self-titled debut album, the supergroup have re-united to bring us five more brutalizing tracks of technical grindcore, which are guaranteed to slice and dice you into thousands of little pieces, such is the edge they possess. Definitely, and defiantly, the sum of its constituent parts, ‘Cloud Burner’ is nasty and rabid, right from the opening “I’m gonna smack you in the face” declaration at the start of ‘November’ through the broiling DM-edged cacophony of ‘Casket Black’, the venomous ‘Empty Heaven’ and the gloriously frenetic ‘Flame From Form’ to the even more furious death punk of the closing title track, this is an unrelenting and vicious aural assault, but one which will leave a massive smile on your face as you know you’ve just been beaten down by some of the true masters of the art of grind. (MA)


‘Cloud Burner’ is out now. You can get your copy HERE.




Death Valley Knights – ‘Valhalla Vintage’ (Self-Released)


Valhalla Vintage artworkLondon’s DVK don’t beat about the bush when it comes to delivering their classically-influenced hard rock: it’s just heads down, see you at the end NWOBHM-infused power and fury. It definitely all the right ingredients: big hooks, rip-roaring riffs, searing solos and massive melodies, all delivered within the framework of well-crafted songs which entertain throughout the length of this 21-minute, five track second EP. It’s the sort of classic hard rock designed to be washed down with a pint of your favourite brew as you take a quick breather before diving straight back into the pit with your fist pumping, your hair flailing and the sweat running down the inside of your cut-off.


The performances from the four members are all solid and efficient, with the guitars of Jake Thorsen and Pawel Matuszkiewick working very well together and the rhythm section of Ashley Porter and Hugo Treva so tight not even the most critical of brickies could find a crack in their cement. Yes, it’s very much a ‘Legacy’ sound, but its delivered with aplomb and panache which helps make it sound fresh and vibrant (as does the superb production job, which was done by Scott Atkins, who has also worked with Cradle Of Filth and Sylosis). And, at the end of the day, it’s nigh on impossible to do anything else but accept their call to ‘Shut Up And Drink’. (MA)



‘Valhalla Vintage’ is released next Friday (28 July). Death Valley Knights play Scruffy Murphy’s in Birmingham tonight (Saturday 22 July).




Maypine – ‘In The Back Of My Mind’ (Disconnect Disconnect)


Maypine Cover ArtworkThis five-piece from Brighton are very much new kids on the block (sic) as far as the burgeoning UK pop-punk scene is concerned, having only formed around this time next year. However, they definitely seem to know what they are doing, as this debut offering is assured and well-crafted: the very obvious product of honing and working with the songs in rehearsals, and then refining them further in the live arena.


Now, regular readers will know that I’m not a massive fan of pop-punk as whole: but, as with every genre, when it is done well, that has to be acknowledged. In terms of the mix, ‘In The Back…’ is extremely rough around the edges, especially on Jason Payne’s jarring vocals, which are overly-dominant and drown out the instrumentation behind them. When the latter does poke through, it shows plenty of youthful promise, especially in Tommy Roberts’ bass, James Holdsworth’s tight and precise drumming and some nice lead guitar touches from Becky East. The EP is saved by the quality of the songs, which contain enough of a metalcore vibe to them to appeal to fans of the heavier end of their repertoire but also plenty of poppy hooks and melodies to get the crowds dancing on their forthcoming extensive run of live dates. (MA)



‘In The Back Of My Mind’ is released on Friday 4 August.




The Color Wild – ‘Clean’ (Self-Released)


The Color WildSacramento's The Color Wild are not the normal band you get to read about here on Über Rock - if anything their guitar indie pop is more reminiscent of NME's output. With that said, the music is STD-type catchy and once heard it takes ages to leave: maybe days after you find yourself humming it.


The lead single is 'Wild Things', which is slice of glorious melody infused guitar pop. This EP is produced by Erik Ron (Panic! At The Disco, Good Charlotte, etc.) and mastered by Chris Gehringer (The 1975, Harry Styles). So, it sounds very fresh and current, yet there is a hint of retro indie. While the band have seen it fit to lead with ‘Wild Things’, for me the star song of the EP is ‘Brighter Than The Moon’, which sounds like The 1975 humping Lawson (the band) leg. You can tell that playing shows with the likes of Panic! At The Disco, Weezer and Against The Current, has rubbed off on the band.


The EP is brimful of infectious pop melodies, mixed with lush synths, and the band - brothers Jesse (keys, guitars, vocals), Kyle (vocals) Jaden (drums) Crosson, and Josh Hansen on lead guitar - sound vibrant, and hopefully this will help make a name for them over here as well. (DP)


‘Clean’ is released on 25 August.





Wolvenguard – ‘Elemental Reclamation’ (Self-Released)


WolvenguardThis debut EP – which has just been given a physical release after being available only as a download – is another example of how a band, and the material they produce, often can be the logical sum of their combined parts. Because this Texan outfit feature musicians who previously had played in black metal, death/thrash and doom bands – all elements which are omnipresent in this brilliantly crafted and highly impressive three-track offering to the gods of metal.


Veering more towards the black-meets-death end of the spectrum, there is an underlying melancholia which pervades the punishing riffs and intense blast beating which drive each of this triumvirate of tunes forward; a sense of brooding malevolence which gracefully counterparts the aggression to the beatdowns, and is drawn out in the superbly executed harmonies, which are built in lucid layers which are stunningly drawn out by the excellent production, which is even more precise than the collective performances. There is also a sense of epicness with being histrionic, which very few bands operating in this field manage to balance effectively. This is one I’m really glad I took the chance on downloading, and I look forward to experiencing more of the Wolvenguard’s dark force. (MA)


‘Elemental Reclamation’ is out now.




So, that’s your lot for this instalment. We’ve had a load more EPs arrive in the period between these reviews being written and then published, so we’ll be back soon with a load more shorter format releases for your delectation and consideration… Till then, sayonara amigos.


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