Every new Idles song right now sounds vital. Every new Idles song sounds like a pure cry of fury stemming from something deep inside that you’ve been struggling to articulate and come to terms with. The gift of Idles is they can articulate it with a few simple lines and a violent crash of guitars, bass and drums. They bring it out of you, hold your face in front of it and scream, “fucking look at it.”
Whether it’s over politics, art or your own life, that unflinching self-reflection and subsequent catharsis is at the core of their upcoming debut album, ‘Brutalism’, which was written in the wake of the death of lead singer Joe Talbot’s mother. The band say new single ‘Mother’ is “an exploration of who she was and is,” with the ‘is’ seeming particularly important. Someone with as much passion and fire as Joe didn’t come from nowhere.
‘Mother’ is driven by brutal but intricate drumming and a classic hardcore sounding bassline, whilst Idles’ twin guitars become more and more distorted and twisted as the song builds. Joe delivers his vocals in a way that makes you think he probably had to be restrained in the booth during recording. You can almost imagine him clawing at the glass and fighting against chains as he spits refrains like “the best way to scare a Tory is to read and get rich,” and the two word chorus; “mother fucker”.
Nothing really sounds like Idles right now, but most importantly, nothing at all feels anything like them.
Jack Bennett, the mastermind behind Grumble Bee, had a fantastic year in 2016: he released his first EP, played several of the UK’s best festivals and headlined a few of his own shows. Happily, he’s showing no sign of slowing down and ‘Red’ gives us even more reason to be grateful.
Not content with just writing and performing each instrument himself, Bennett has gone further with ‘Red’ than ever before, recording and producing everything himself in his own Lapwing Studio. The result is another huge anthem, complete with the signature Grumble Bee elements of high energy, soulful vocals and infectious guitars.
Not only is Grumble Bee an ultra-talented songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, he’s also one of the most humble, honest and genuine performers you’re ever likely to see. ‘Red’ adds to his already impressive collection of songs (check out the ‘Disconnect’ EP if you don’t know what I mean) and I’m excited to see this project grow even more with new material later in the year.
Cardiff lads Astroid boys return with their new single ‘Foreigners’ and hold nothing back, letting the world know just how they feel about current global events. This time around they’ve recruited Sonny Double 1 to provide the hugely catchy chorus with a message, which resonates loud and clear, simply stating “We know that you don’t like the foreigners.”
The guys have always looked to deal with relevant issues, be it the struggles of growing up in Cardiff’s CF10, or in this case, the current political climate in the wake of Brexit and Donald Trump. Both have seen a spike in hatred, and with this track Astroid Boys look to let everyone know just what affect this is having. If you’re heading to Download Festival make sure you catch them, as they never fail to deliver an incredibly energetic live set.
Every once in awhile a band comes along with a certain aura that attracts special attention. It’s exciting to watch these bands develop, in the same way conducting science experiments was back in school – you knew that certain chemicals would cause an explosion eventually and the anticipation of when that might happen was almost as indulgent as the impact. Holding Absence are simmering away and the substances binding them together are ready to go off at any minute.
I’ve got the same feeling in my bones about Holding Absence that I had when I first fell in love with Crooks almost five years ago, and there are a lot of parallels between the two on ‘Permanent’. From the dynamic drums and atmospheric guitars to the gut-wrenchingly emotional vocals – there’s something beautifully addictive about their ultra-melodic, yet looming and intense post-hardcore concoction.
2017 is going to be a big year for this Cardiff quintet; they’ve recently signed to Sharptone Records, they’ve been added to Download Festival and Camden Rocks and will be heading out on a UK tour in April. This kind of power can’t be contained and you’re going to want to be around when it blows up.
Over the years the term ‘hardcore band’ has become somewhat diluted with more sub genre categories than you can possibly think of. However, if you look in the right places you will still find traditional OG hardcore just as Minor Threat, Black Flag & Youth of Today paved the way for and wanted.
Born from the ashes of seminal straight edge youth crew bands Turning Point, Mouthpiece and Floorpunch comes Search. Their debut ep (on the classic hardcore label Revelation Records) ‘Between The Lines’ is 6 songs of classic East Coast Hardcore. It will make you want to stage dive, high five and clamber over the guys in front of you to grab some mic action off Tim McMahon (formerly of Mouthpiece). Songs written for the kids, crucial words of honesty which would not be out of place at a Sunday CBGB’s matinee show (RIP CBGB). But with the CV these guys have you wouldn’t expect nothing less.
If it’s fast and furious punk hardcore you want then it will be found here.
Photo: JC Photo Media
‘Two Deliverences’ from 2016’s ‘Goodness’ is where The Hotelier somehow find themselves revelling in the ecstasy of acceptance on the other side of one of the darkest, most emotionally fragile releases a long time. Lucid, drenched in emotion, and gloriously anthemic; ‘Two Deliverences’ finds a band at their absolute peak somehow pushing the boundaries of what they can achieve even further.
Singer Holden may still feel “clumsy and cumbersome” but he’s found the light, and “when the harsh sun breaks in your stained glass eyes, the refracted light keeps glistening.” A gleaming, intensely positive track from a band who never thought it possible. And it just goes to show, there is always goodness to be found in the darkest of places, and for me, that is enough to shine some genuine light on the blemishes of my own world.
Last month, I went to see Oathbreaker twice on their UK tour. Both shows were everything I hoped for from them, but something else came to my attention that I had been stupidly overlooking for years: Svalbard.
While I was aware of them, I hadn’t had the chance to become fully invested in them. Watching their combination of post rock and black metal was a mesmerising experience that has stuck with me ever since. Svalbard are a fine example of the talent rising up from the UK underground. The unrelenting euphoria of their music is the perfect soundtrack to the end of the world.
Hailing from Quarteira, Portugal, Sam Alone & The Gravediggers are hidden gem that was recently shown to me by a friend. They carry on the tradition of great storytelling songwriters, and give a feeling of hope to anyone who takes the time to listen. There’s nothing fancy here, just real music for real people.
Their 2016 album, ‘Tougher Than Leather’, is filled with anthems for the working class from a heart that beats fire. The acoustic-led tracks are protest songs filled with soul and a will to fight, giving a voice to the voiceless.
It’s been a while since folk-punk has been able to make me feel passionate about anything, but Sam Alone & The Gravediggers achieved that from the first listen.
Have you ever heard a band that are so visceral, caustic, and aggressive that it actually becomes frightening? Being a fan of extreme music, I thought I had heard it all. Then I heard Venom Prison and found it nothing short of terrifying in the best possible way.
‘Animus’ made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck, and is truly one of the most intense albums I have heard in a long time. It carries on the tradition of the genre, while breathing new life and perspective into it. They are one of the finest bands the UK has to offer right now, and have raised the bar for aggressive music.