Bardus – Solus (Wolf Beach Tapes, 21 October 2014)
Bardus – Stella Porta (Solar Flare Records, 01 April 2016)
Grizzlor / Barren Womb – Split (Riotous Outburst Records, 17 March 2015)
Hello, and Happy Friday to everyone out there! I hope you’ve had an okay week — and if not, then I hope you have a great weekend to make up for it. Before then, though, I’d like to throw something at you real quick.
At this very moment, there’s somewhat of a mini-tour going on — a handful of regional dates featuring a couple of bands, Philadelphia’s Bardus and New Haven’s Grizzlor, and it just happens that each of them have released something over the past year and a half that I’ve got in my to-do list for sharing with you readers. So it seems like a pretty convenient time to share both of those with you now, and even more so considering the fact that one of them also will have a brand-new album coming out next month — I’ll talk a little about that one, too.
I’ll try to keep this one kind of short (I know I say that a lot and it doesn’t always work out that way, but I promise I’ll try!) because I’m sure all of you are as anxious as I am to get started on those weekend plans. But scroll down to the comments section because I’ll also throw in the remaining tour dates for these two bands — which happens to include a stop in Pittsburgh this Saturday!
First of all, there’s Bardus. Their debut album Solus features 8 songs, mostly around 3-4 minutes long (although a couple of them are a little under two), featuring everything you could ask for: plenty of dissonance, fuzz, yelling, and noise. Overall it almost seems like a punk aesthetic — disaffected, disillisioned, just plain angry — but certainly not sloppy or overly simple. Rather, what we have here is more of a noise rock/metal hybrid (Unsane would be a logical reference point) but amped up with a heavy sludge influence — something that is on display as early as the first minute of the first track “Tiny Teeth,” when the furious tempo unexpectedly drops and the invisible watermelons come out. Also, there are a few instances (for example, check out near the middle of “Maladroid” and the beginning part of “Bloodbrain”) the guitar parts seem like they are enhanced with so many layers of swirly distorted noise, for a moment the experience becomes almost psychedelic-like.
In the time since that first record hit the streets, it was announced that the band had signed with Solar Flare Records, which — considering that label’s roster, including folks like Pigs, American Heritage, and The Great Sabatini, among others — totally seems like a match made in noise heaven. And now, brand new album Stella Porta (Latin for “Star Gate”) is scheduled to come out in about four weeks. This one has seven songs, ranging from two to almost six minutes long; all of the same elements as the last one are still here, although this feels somewhat darker in tone, and perhaps a little more tripped out. The vocals are just as harsh and caustic as they were on Solus, but more distant-sounding, maybe more reverby, like they were recorded from farther away or in a much larger space. They don’t seem any less angry though — which may be a surprise given how the artwork and song titles mostly evoke thoughts of recreational pharmaceuticals that are traditionally considered very relaxing and mellowing — for example, near the end of the second song “Monolith” and during closing track “Clandestine” the standard yelling turns even more insistent and forcible. On the other hand, the album even contains an example of clean singing (alternated with yelling) in the song “Haze.”
The other band I wanted to discuss with you is Grizzlor, who is currently in the midst of that week-long tour with Bardus, but the release I’ve got for you to check out is actually a split they did last year with Norway’s Barren Womb.
With a name that comes from (I’m assuming) a hairy man-beast from the Masters of the Universe cartoons and toy line, the two songs contributed by Grizzlor are very nasty, indeed; dirty, fast, and raw. I’d be inclined to describe them as a little more on the punky side (but obviously with more talent than your standard punk band — I mean, sure, the main riff of “It’s All Bullshit” is basically built upon three chords, but then there’s a key change and the riff runs through three different chords! All kidding aside, this is heavy, angry, and brutish material, but at the same time just the slightest bit catchy, to the point where you might find the songs sticking around in your head for a while, and definitely enough of a taste to make the listener inclined to want to dig further into this band’s catalogue…
On the flip side, Barren Womb have a pair of tracks that are even more grittier, noisier, and harsher. This is basically in the same ballpark, but perhaps a little more lo-fi-sounding, and kind of incorporating some more crust/grindpunk elements. I especially enjoyed the bleak worldview presented in “Hazmat Suit” — a glass-half-empty look at ways in which things generally suck nowadays compared to how they used to be.
You can download a copy of Solus here; I can’t seem to find the tape for sale anywhere, so I’m guessing that is probably sold out. But Stella Porta is now up for preorder from Solar Flare in various formats and packages here; the Grizzlor / Barren Womb split can be purchased digitally here or on 7″ vinyl here. Finally, you can listen to Solus and each side of the split via the various Bandcamp players below; the whole Stella Porta album is not streaming online yet but you can check out the first song right now at MetalSucks.
**UPDATE** a second song from Stella Porta is now available to stream at Blow the Scene.
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