Now Available: Undersmile – Narwhal

 

UndersmileNarwhal (Future Noise Recordings, 28 May 2012)

 
If you spend any amount of time poking around this blog (and I highly encourage you to do so!), you’ll quickly notice that I have a fairly broad range of musical taste. Most of the stuff that I listen to would be classified under some metal genre or other, although not all of it. Everything else would usually fall into one or more categories of punk, hardcore, hard rock, or pretty much anything that’s heavy, but once again, you still couldn’t fit all that I listen to in such neat little boxes. Even just looking at the metal music, you’d find me all over the spectrum there as well, touching upon (at least to some degree) practically every subgenre ever invented.

However, one recurring theme you might discover, is that I’ve always had a certain affinity towards the sludgey, the grimey, the filthy, and in particular, the mind-numbingly slow. If it sounds like it was recorded with an hourglass instead of a metronome, chances are I’ll be all over it like zombies attacking a MENSA convention.

So naturally, when I first discovered Oxfordshire’s Undersmile (courtesy of American Aftermath including one of their songs on last summer’s Summer of Sludge compilation), I instantly fell in love, because they just totally hit all the right buttons for me.

Late last year when I heard the news that they were in the process of recording their debut full-length album, I was delighted, and later, when more details and some preview tracks started to emerge, I got even more excited.

Did you ever have something you were anticipating so much that you almost felt nervous about whether it would ultimately live up to the hype? Even if it turns out to be really really good, could it possibly be as good as you were expecting? Or even worse, what if the thing you were so convinced was going to be amazing — and that you’ve been telling everyone around you how amazing you think it’ll be — turns out to be terrible? Of course, you wouldn’t be looking forward to something that much without having some prior knowledge or some sort of basis on which to establish those expectations, so there’s a very small chance that it would, in fact, be awful — but there’s still that remote possibility. Isn’t that just nerve-wracking?

Well now that I’ve gotten my copy of Undersmile’s Narwhal and listened to it a few times, I’ve discovered that I didn’t even know the meaning of the words “terrible” or “awful”…

 

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In Case You Missed It: Banda de la Muerte – Pulso de una Mente Maldita


 

Banda de la MuertePulso de una Mente Maldita (29 March 2012, Zonda Records)

 
So remember about two weeks ago, when I published a review of the most recent Cultura Tres album? At that time I talked about rectifying my previous oversight of South American bands, and hinted that there were two in particular I had my eye (or, ears) on. Well this is the second one: Argentina’s Banda de la Muerte.
 
My original plan was to write up both of these reviews and post them on the same day, but then I came to the realization that there would be so much similarity between the two, that you might get some weird sense of déjà vu — hence the delay in finishing and publishing this one. Now, I’m not trying to say that the two bands are the same or that their music is very similar; that wasn’t the problem. However, the way I first got introduced to these guys was virtually identical.
 
Like Cultura Tres, the name Banda de la Muerte first came to my attention as part of a European tour with Undersmile. And also, just like their neighbors to the north, these Argentinians had a song included in the recent Grip of Delusion Radio compilation The Book of Riff-elations. Once again, the band name jumped out at me when I recognized it in the track listing, and I found that I especially enjoyed their contribution, “Parte de Mi Historia” (Part of My Story).
 
The parallels don’t end there, either, because these guys also have had two releases, with the first one (2009’s Banda de la Muerte) being offered for a free download through Bandcamp (details included at the end of this post). Their newer album, Pulso de una Mente Maldita has been out since March (via Argentina’s Zonda Records, who also handled the earlier self-titled work), but it was recently announced that (just like Cultura Tres’ El Mal del Bien) it’s now available worldwide on vinyl (details on that included later as well).
 
So as you can see, there are quite a few similarities between the two bands’ stories, and in particular, my own road to discovering them. But enough of that — now I’d like to talk about what makes Banda de la Muerte unique.
  
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In Case You Missed It: Cultura Tres – El Mal Del Bien

Cultura TresEl Mal Del Bien (self-released, 29 March 2011)

So yesterday morning, as I was putting together the post about the newly released track by Vesperia, it occurred to me that I’ve done an awful lot of writing about bands from our upstairs neighbors over the past couple months. At the same time, it occurred to me that I’ve probably been unfairly neglecting music that originates from south of the border…

Well, actually, I haven’t entirely neglected bands from south of here — about a month and a half ago, I posted about the Grip of Delusion Radio compilation (which you can still download for free, if you haven’t yet!), and in that post I briefly mentioned a couple of South American bands that had songs included. One of those was Cultura Tres from Maracay, Venezuela.

These guys had first come across my radar just prior to the release of that Book of Riff-Elations compilation, when I read about them playing some shows over in Europe with our British friends Undersmile. So the band name (which literally means “Culture Three” but idiomatically refers to life in the so-called ‘Third World’) jumped out at me when I saw it in the tracklisting. Naturally, I had to give their song “No es mi Verdad” (“It is Not My Truth”) a quick listen, and it was so deliciously sludgey and doomy that I just had to grab both of the band’s full-length releases, 2008’s La Cura (“The Cure”), and last year’s El Mal del Bien (literally, “Bad from Good” or “Wrong from Right”). Both of these are available to download (for free or whatever price you choose), but the newer one was also recently released on vinyl, so I’m going to take this opportunity to talk about that now, Dear Reader.
 

 

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In Case You Missed It: Fire in the Cave – Self-Titled

 

Fire in the CaveFire in the Cave (28 February 2012)

 
Happy Friday!! I’m so ready for the week to be over so I can get my ass home! No more school for a few months, no more work for a few days, nothing to do but kick back and… do all the shit I need to take care of around the house, that I’m unable to do during the week. Sometimes it feels like I barely get a single minute to myself, to relax or whatever. I’ll be honest with you — I’m always amazed (and, I’ll admit, sometimes a little jealous) when I hear about one of my colleagues in the music-writing world being in a band, on top of the writing and also having a “real” job and whatever else they’ve got going on. I hardly find the time to go to shows as often as I’d like, let alone to be able to rehearse beforehand, or even to put in the effort to recruit a bunch of people to even get started in the first place! But like I said, there are some people out there that manage to do it all, and I definitely respect that.

Case in point is Jarad Oates, editor/writer for Orlandooom!, plus an occasional guest columnist for … well, as far as I can tell, pretty much every other Florida-based music-related publication in existence. In addition to all of that, he’s also a member of Orlando swamp-metal warlords Fire in the Cave, for whom he contributes caveman-esque (no pun intended) bellowed vocals. A couple of months ago, that band self-released a self-titled EP, and I’d like to share that with you now.

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Coming Soon: Undersmile Reveal Cover Art, Track Listing, and More!

Well, would you look at that.  It’s early Monday morning, it’s cold and rainy outside, and I have to go to work.  What a miserable way to start the day.  Just when I was thinking I could really use something dark and dismal to match my bleak mood, so that I could feel a little better, check out this treasure trove of incredible news I just found on Facebook!

I’ve been bubbling with excitement about a new Undersmile album ever since it was announced, as I mentioned when I wrote about that announcement back in November.  (Check out that earlier post if you need a brief introduction to the band and some of their earlier work.)  Well as it turns out, Future Noise has just announced a ton of brand new details about that album, Narwhal, which is now scheduled to emerge on 28 May 2012.

At the top of this post you can admire the artwork that will be adorning the new record (by artist Tony Roberts, who has done work in the past for bands such as Conan and Electric Wizard), and further down will be the full tracklist, as well as information on where you can hear a couple of these tracks now — plus how you can preorder a copy of the album!

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Get ’em While They’re Hot: Three Free HUGE Compilations from Grip of Delusion Radio!

Check this out! The nice people at Grip of Delusion Radio have put together a gigantic compilation in three volumes (over one hundred songs altogether!) and they’re yours for the taking, absolutely free of charge. There are some pretty awesome bands represented here, including a couple I’ve written about in the past (Vulture and Undersmile) and one that I’ll be reviewing very soon (Fire in the Cave), plus Banda de la Muerte, Heavy Lord, Forged in Flame, Wo Fat, Cultura Tres, Thorr Axe, Behold! The Monolith, Shroud of Despondency, and tons more!!

These were just released on Sunday (01 April) and by Monday they had already run out of free Bandcamp downloads! But mere minutes ago, it was announced that due to the generosity of The Soda Shop, they’ve just added on another thousand downloads… so hurry up and grab one while you still can!

See the Bandcamp widgets below for each of the three volumes, where you can download them if you like (or just listen to the songs and then download your favorites)…

If the Bandcamp well runs dry again, don’t fear, they have alternate download capabilities on this page — including a link to Mediafire (where you can grab the songs one at a time) and Dropbox (which offers all three volumes in a single Gig-and-a-half bundle).

 

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