Archive for From Ashes Rise

Review: The Siege Fire

Posted in Reviews with tags , , on September 25, 2015 by Magadh

The Siege Fire, Dead Refuge (1859 Records)

[I’m a bit distracted today, as I have been for the last few. I’ve been waiting on the new Black Breath disc, which drops today and my excitement level is making me kind of stupid (well, more than usual). I’ve been meaning to finish this review of The Siege Fire for the last few days, but I just haven’t been able to concentrate properly. But now, as I sit here checking my email inbox about every 90 seconds I feel like I’ve just got to do something to dissipate the pressure before I go mental. So here it is.]

ruins

I have mercifully few regrets in life. But one of them certainly is having left Portland, Oregon apparently a couple of days before it started along its path toward being the melodic crust capital of the world. The Rose City had always had a pretty thriving underground scene, from the Wipers, through Poison Idea, Sado-Nation, and Final Warning, and up into its more anarchist phase with bands like Resist, Unamused, the Deprived, and Defiance. People who follow this scene will know that this barely scratches the surface, but my point here is not to display the breadth of my knowledge of Portland bands (about which I could go on ad nauseam) but just to register my surprise at the effect that one signal event (the relocation of From Ashes Rise in 2001 from Nashville to Portland in the very early oughties) seems to have wrought.

tsfOk, I know the story is more complicated than that, both in terms of personnel and in those of the histories of style. Fragments of His Hero is Gone showed up first, and Tragedy arose out of those embers, but my view is that From Ashes Rise has always been among the purest exemplars of the melodic crust style, while Tragedy and His Hero is Gone were darker and more dissonant. Which is not to say that they were not awesome, quite the contrary. Still, for me From Ashes Rise is actually stylistically closer to a band like Sarabante, or even to a more d-beat styled group like Martyrdöd than they are to Tragedy.

All of this is splitting hairs. What is undeniably the case is that in the years since I left Portland has become a sort of rookery for dark, melodic crust and I think that the results have been, and continue to be, quite positive. A case in point: The Siege Fire. Their Dead Refuge 12”, released by 1859 Records earlier this year features some really ripping tracks, coupled with some effective atmospherics. It’s the kind of record that gives one the feel of walking through the remnants, like the jackals howling in the ruins of Ephesus. With civilizational collapse imminent, The Siege Fire has delivered the perfect soundtrack for our collective demise.

In one sense you could hear this disc and recognize it as clearly within the stylistic ambit of melodic crust. At times they sound like HHIG, at others like Burning Bright, at still others like Agnosy. But this is not to say that their sound is derivative or tired. There is an energy and freshness to The Siege Fire’s songs that carries the listener along. Their licks are simple and to the point, while the vocals have the sort of urgency that grabs the attention. You (or at least I) can actually make out the words, which is a good thing. One of my real pet peeves with extreme music the way that vocalists simply give themselves over to sounding like a wookie with its paw caught in a blender. Anyone can grunt incomprehensibly. Contributing to the extremity of a band’s sound while still allowing your audience to have some idea what you’re going on about takes a bit more in terms of imagination (and effort). Yeah, The Siege Fire ticks that box as well.

I think it’s fair to say that we are living in the golden age of this music. In a few years the hardcore scene will probably have moved on to some other fascination. But we will still have the artifacts of this era, and I suspect I’ll be spinning this one for a long time to come.

Crust/D-Beat Playlist

Posted in Playlists with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 3, 2013 by Magadh

We’ve been brewing up some weird stuff down in the bunker, but through the fumes it occurred to us that people might have an interest in what we were spinning in our long nights over the soilent vats. We’re going to try to offer up playlists on a bi-monthly basis, each with a thematic base. The theme here (as the title indicates) is a combination of crust and d-beat.  Discerning listeners will note that there are a couple of things in this list that are a bit marginal in terms of these categories, but I think they fit in terms of atmosphere. In the end, it’s up to you to decide.


1. Skitsystem, “Apokalypsens Svarta Änglar
2. Martyrdöd, “Vägen Ur
3. From Ashes Rise, “The Final Goodbye
4. Hellcrawler, “Devastation
5. Infäme, “Adeu Amarg
6. After the Bombs, “Bloody Aftermath
7. Monastery, “Mutilating
8. Passiv Dödshjalp, “Virtuella Bojor
9. Viimeinen Kolonna, “Sinä Häviät
10. Livstid, “Permafrost
11. Misantropic, “Raise the Gallows
12. G-Anx, “Victims of Our Ignorance
13. Instinto, “Dominación
14. Crude S.S., “Destroy Capitalism
15. Anti-Cimex, “Braincell Battle
16. Final Warning, “The Bunker
17. Disfear, “Misanthropic Generation
18. Warcollapse, “Timebomb State
19. Mördare, “Rivers of Diesel
20. Masakari, “Rapid Dominance
21. Kvoteringen, “Sjuk Värld
22. Discharge, “Doomsday
23. Infernöh, “Länge Leve Mig
24. Wolfpack, “A Basic Urge to Kill
25. Sacrilege, “Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Magadh

Review: Passiv Dödshjälp

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , on June 8, 2013 by Magadh

Passiv Dödshjälp Kollektiva Mönster Embrace My Funeral Records

pd coverI discovered Passiv Dödshjälp in one of those beautiful moments of internet serendipity in which I was looking for something else. As I recall, I was trying to dig up some information on their fellow Swedes Totalt Jävla Mörker when I stumbled on to an upload of Passiv Dödshjälp’s crushing 2010 release Häng Dom in the indiscriminate vastness of the web. There could hardly be a better advertisement for modern Swedish crust. Simple and aggressive licks dripping with overdrive, spun over a background of thundering drums and a vocalist who really sounds like he’s on the verge of a psychotic break. The songs on Häng Dom are mostly mid-paced. In those moments when they slowed down the music retains its punch, sounding at times like Tragedy’s more downtempo material. This was straight Swedish crust in a d-beat sort of mode, one which for the most part eschewed the melodicism associated with bands like Wolfpack and Martyrdöd in Europe, and with acts like From Ashes Rise on this side of the Atlantic.

Intrigued by this, I sought out their other releases. At the time these included a blistering split with Bergen’s Livstid, and a second full album from 2011 entitled Fasader. This latter release reflected a slightly more melodic approach than its predecessor. What followed, 2012’s Skit På Repeat 7”, was a trip to a much gloomier place. For fans of Häng Dom this was meat and drink. The stylistic theory was much the same as on the first LP, but the sound and atmosphere were if anything darker and angrier than on the earlier release. As on Häng Dom, the songs tended to be built around single string lines structured to accentuate impact rather than melody.

On Kollektiva Mönster, Passiv Dödshjälp’s latest recording, the theory has changed somewhat. The compositions are based around chords to a rather greater degree than on previous releases. A rather more rocking influence seems to have taken hold, with some of the songs reminding one more of bands like Kvoteringen or Fleshrevels than of the darker Swedish crust that marked their earlier style. Still the essentials remain: angry vocals, bludgeoning drums, and that razors-through-flesh guitar sound for which the Swedes seem to have a special talent. There are a lot of shorter songs on this release, but the pick of the litter is “Virtuella Bojor”, which clocks in at over four minutes and is rocking and aggressive all the way along.

In this day and age it is a little shocking to me that so few people outside of Scandinavia seem to know about these guys. Kollektiva Mönster is an excellent introduction to their work: an illustration of the aggression and dark atmosphere that have been the hallmarks of Swedish crust for so long. Andreas tells me that the disc itself won’t be out until sometime in July, so start saving your pennies because you will definitely want to get this when it hits the distros.

Magadh

Review: Freedom Club

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , on April 2, 2013 by Magadh

Freedom Club Rather Be Blind

Rather Be Blind EP cover artI got turned on to Freedom Club by the guy from bulkhead records (who not coincidentally actually plays in the band). Normally you’re going to see (or you’ve seen) a lot of thrash/deathmetal etc. reviewed here. Listening to Freedom Club reminded me that I should probably be more aggressive about chasing down this kind of music as well. I came up on bands like Channel 3, the Dils, the Weirdos, etc. I have a real soft spot in my heart for that era of punk that arose before Discharge recreated the genre. Which is not to say that the thrashers wiped everything else off the map. But they did create their own take on the genre, one that was much different that the bands that had arisen in the wake of the “original” punk scenes in New York and London. I feel the need to put original in scare quotes because every musical genre and artistic scene builds in some way one what came before. Even people conscientiously trying to reject the past end up merely mashing up and recasting the world as they find it.

In any case, Freedom Club are, for me, a real throw back to a different theory of punk. I love the 1000 mile per hour take on punk, and I’ve certainly played a lot of that kind of music in my time. But there is definitely still a place for bands like this, in which simple licks and well-considered arrangements take the place of volume and velocity. Freedom Club put out an EP last year some time called Rather Be Blind. Eight really rocking cuts of downstroke punk with lots of feedback at the edges. Everything short and to the point. In places they sound like a slightly less bouncy version of Chron Gen, in others like a grittier version of the Dils. This theory is continued on the three song EP that they put out later in the year. The sound on the second is a little crisper on the second release. This I will say: the second cut, “Burn”, is one of the most awesome, rollicking punk tunes I have heard in years. Both of their releases were, I think, mastered by Brad Boatright of the absolutely monstrous From Ashes Rise, and the sound is as thick and punchy as that would indicate. They are supposed to have an album in the works (that what I read anyway). Watch this space.

Magadh

Review: Tragedy

Posted in Reviews with tags , , on August 8, 2012 by Magadh

Tragedy Darker Days Ahead Tragedy Records

There are few things I really regret in life. One of them is moving out of Portland, Oregon in 2000, right about the time that half the punks in Tennessee seem to have moved up there. If I had known beforehand that From Ashes Rise and Tragedy were in the process of decamping for the Pacific Northwest I might have thought twice about skipping town. Well, there’s no use crying over spilt milk I suppose. I do remember seeing Tragedy in a living room somewhere in northeast Portland, surrounded by a lot of spiky, dyed, and dirty people who thought that they were much cooler than I was, so I guess it wasn’t all beer and skittles while I actually did live there.

There is a vein of American hardcore in the 1990s that is defined by From Ashes Rise, Tragedy, and His Hero is Gone. Although each had their own individual sound, they shared quite a bit, certainly in terms of personnel, but more importantly in terms of atmosphere. HHiG was the first of these bands into which I came in contact, and the thing that struck me was the absolutely stygian character of their presentation. Thick, swirling guitars gave even the more melodic elements of their music a murky quality, redolent of utter despair. From Ashes Rise were similar, although employing a more d-beat oriented approach. Tragedy, comprising three former members of HHiG and former FAR bassist Billy Davis, represented not so much an amalgamation of those two sounds, as an attempt to take the project forward.

Darker Days Ahead, Tragedy’s first release since Nerve Damage in 2006, represents the perfection of the theory, so to speak. All of the trademarks that have defined Tragedy’s music for a decade are present and correct. Tragedy isn’t the kind of band that is going to blow you away with blazing speed. Their approach is defined by a guitar sound the heaviness of which must be measured in tons. Darker Days Ahead is more overtly metallic than previous releases, but this approach has been undertaken judiciously, giving the guitars a sharper edge while retaining the melodic sensibilities that have always defined their music. At points, the darkened churning sound seems to touch on regions visited by Neurosis in the era of Souls at Zero/Enemy of the Sun. In other places, Tragedy executes a more rocking approach in which the attentive listener will discern traces of FAR in their slower moments.

In sum, it’s fair to say that Tragedy have delivered another bit of excellence. From the guitars swimming in distortion, to the tortured vocals, to the dark and threatening mood, Darker Days Ahead contains all the elements that made Tragedy influential in the first place. This is not one of those records that will appeal to the shorter, louder, faster set. But imbricated with its titanic onslaught are subtleties that retain the attention through repeated spins. And that, at this point, is about the best that one can ask for.

Magadh

Things You Should Know

Posted in Heads Up with tags , , , , on July 6, 2012 by Magadh

First, a brief apology for the inconsistent posting this week. It has been a difficult week in terms of power here at the Thousand Trivs bunker. Frequent outages over the last couple of days have required repeated expeditions to the roof of the southern pod in an attempt to effect repairs. As this particular region is prone to storms, extreme heat, and the depredations of hordes of wandering zombies, one can easily imagine that this has taken a lot of time and energy (and bullets).

The power flow has been restored, no thanks, frankly, to the efforts of the Captain of Games. Somehow he always seems to be on extended reconnaissance sweeps when the dirty work needs to get done.

In any case, it is our goal to have new content every day and, assuming my jury rigging of the condensers on the south ridge was successful, we should be in business with the appropriate regularity.

While I am here, I thought I might provide a couple of bits and bobs until we fully have our shit together. I was talking briefly with Greg from Masakari after their blistering set at Now That’s Class the other night. He told me two interesting things. The first was that he actually plays in a drop C tuning. Yeah, I know that’s not really that interesting to those of you who aren’t musically inclined. For those who are, I will say that I spent a lot of time at the Masakari shows that I have seen watching him and trying to figure out what kind of tuning he was playing. Drop C explains a lot of things.

The second thing that he mentioned was the From Ashes Rise were playing again and had a new record coming out. I have a lasting fascination with those guys, not just because they’ve put out some absolutely devastating music, but also because they moved to Portland several months after I left and I really felt kind of cheated by that. Their new 7” is called Rejoice in the End and is available from the good people at Southern Lord . The A side, which is all I’ve heard so far is a bit more metal tinged that their Nightmare’s era stuff. “Rejoice in the End” is slower, but lacking none of the melody and punch of FAR’s classic releases.

I read the other day that Napalm Death had a new record out. It’s on Century Media and it’s called Utilitarian. I’m tempted to get it even though their records since From Enslavement to Obliteration have generally left me kind of cold. I think it’s that ticky tacky drum sound that was pioneered at Morrissound in Tampa during the early 1990s and kind of took over death metal. Then of course there’s the fact that there are currently zero original members left in the band. Oh well, I guess I shouldn’t let minutiae get in the way. The guy from metalsucks.net seems to like it (he gave it 4 out of 5 horns) and generally they are a pretty critical bunch over there.

And finally, a copy of the latest Martyrdöd offering Paranoia has recently shown up around the bunker, so we’ll have a review of that in the next couple of days.

Magadh

Review: Sarabante

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , on June 5, 2012 by Magadh

Sarabante Remnants Southern Lord

I’ve been trading notes lately with an old friend of mine from college. This fellow, much brighter than myself, is part of the brains trust behind Souciant Magazine. We were discussing the Greek hardcore band Sarabante. Souciant had just run a piece about them , and I was mentioning to him that we had been meaning to review their CD, but that we kind of felt that we had done so much about Southern Lord releases already that it would kind of look like we were their media wing.

And then of course, there was the fact just mentioned that Souciant had just run a piece about them. That pretty much had me set on the idea that we should leave it alone. Then a couple of things occurred to me. As is their wont, Souciant’s article on Sarabante was, in fact, about the broader political situation in Greece right now. A review from us, which is bound to be more focused on purely stylistic aspects, probably isn’t going to cover all that much of the same territory. Perhaps more importantly, it struck us that it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to give those guys a little added publicity, to the extent getting a link in one of our articles would do that.

Ok, so long story short, here are a few words about Sarabante.

A few months ago, I perusing Southern Lord’s website when I saw a listing for the latest CD by the Greek hardcore band Sarabante. One line caught my eye: “The band was brought to the attention of Southern Lord by Brad Boatright of From Ashes Rise.” Well, that is a pretty sold recommendation from my perspective. From Ashes Rise were, for many years, the leading figures in the melding of the European d-beat style with a more melodic approach. While one could hear this in European bands like Wolfpack/Wolfbrigade, Disfear, and, somewhat later Martyrdöd (to name only a very prominent few). Perhaps memory fails, but I can’t remember hearing anything very similar to this from North America before running across their Concrete and Steel 12” in the late 1990s. Ok, maybe you could say that His Hero is Gone might be comparable, but you get my point.

Nowadays, this particular style, which is very close to our hearts here in the bunker, is much more readily available in these parts (c.f. our forthcoming review of Cleveland’s oh-so-crushing Masakari). In Europe, and once again I’m speaking very general terms here, there seem a lot more bands doing this, especially in the wake of Martyrdöd’s pathbreaking In Extremis CD in 2005. Martyrdöd really raised the bar. Not only was their approach to d-beat alloyed with a sharp and moving sense of melody, but the structures of their songs were somewhat more complex, adding extra bars onto the normally square d-beat riffs. One can hear echoes of this approach in the work of bands like Münster’s Alpinist, as well as in Sarabante’s melodic d-beat stylings.

Remnants is a crushingly powerful record. It’s no surprise that Brad Boatright dug these guys, as the melodies that shape their songs would not have been out of place on any From Ashes Rise release from Nightmares onward. Similar to Martyrdöd, these young Athenians use riffs that tend to be a little bit longer than the d-beat norm. They are heavily downtuned for sure and this gives their music a metallic heaviness that acts as an effective counterpoint to the melodic overlays that give Sarabante’s music its distinctive feel.

Apparently they have been on a bit of a hiatus and have only recently started gigging again. The vinyl edition of Remnants was really limited and must certainly be sold out now, but the CD version can be had from the Southern Lord website, and it can be directly downloaded from Emusic and similar sites.

Magadh