If you have found this blog, it probably means you were searching for something that isn’t in the public eye. My intention is to promote awareness of artists that you would otherwise likely never know existed. If you like what you hear, support the artist by purchasing their music so that they can continue to create, and enjoy the release in the quality they intended.

Over the years this has grown into my own personal project, reviewing the artists that I discover and interest me. If you wish to see more of my work, particularly my more metal-orientated material, you can find me as a regular contributor for the online magazine
Axis of Metal.

Aya Kimiki – EvilAlive

Posted by T. Bawden Wednesday, 23 March 2011 0 comments

Aya Kimiki – EvilAlive - 3/5

Downloaded on a whim (quite a lot of my music seems to have arrived that way of late) and looking for little more than something catchy with more of a rock backing than many of the J-pop artists seem to prefer, and on many levels this seems to supply just that. Indeed, from the right angle she would seem almost perfect; vocally she manages a range that puts others to shame (and is not afraid to use it), her vocals haven't seen much in the way of production work gone on it and the natural vibrato is left untouched. The backing involves an array of keyboard intros, melodic solo's and as many as three overlayed guitar lines, the drums providing their own fills if never given the body of attention and played as mechanically as a drum machine, and it doesn't take long before you find yourself happily humming along to the tunes.

And it'll be even quicker that you forget how that tune went. At less than half an hour long, she couldn't muster up a single track that I could remember for longer than five minutes, which might work for prolonging its appeal if it didn't all come flooding back the second it kicks off again. It's not electronic in the tracks conceptions but between the twanging guitars, mechanical drums and repetitive keyboards you could at times be forgiven for making this mistake. And that's not as much a statement about the production work as it is the tracks themselves; it feels soulless and by the numbers, designed to be a quick an easy sell, worked around a catchy vocal line and the rest filled it at the last minute by borderline improvised parts from the studio musicians hired to give her something to sing along to. Technically there's nothing wrong with it; the guitar solos are impressive and her voice is certainly nothing to be sniffed at, its just the songs themselves that suck.

Highlights: EvilAlive, One Week

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Maylene and the Sons of Disaster – III

Posted by T. Bawden Monday, 21 March 2011 0 comments

Maylene and the Sons of Disaster – III – 4/5

I remember hearing about this band a number of years ago, it might have actually been for their debut, and their name was plastered over Metal Hammer with the words “greatest metalcore band since Slipknot” or something equally off putting, and quite frankly it's no surprise I never bothered looking them up. But mis-labelling genres can be a real problem. I wouldn't call this metalcore at all; hell, I wouldn't even call it metal. There is a certain element of hardcore punk to the vocals – the guy came from Underoath so really, that's to be expected – and some of them melodies, but for the most part it just feels like the harder side of the rock spectrum. They are, however, so Southern in their banjo playing and slow twanging melodies that they make Lynyrd Skynyrd sound like they may well have arrived from another continent.

Much of the strength derives from the guitars, often harmonising and working with one another in a distinctly constrasting manner; the deep, brutish chug of the bass-laden riffs never falling prey to monotony, but always capable of delivering something unheard of in the track preceding it and overlayed by the simplistic twang, sharply cutting through the sound to make itself known. The lack of creativity in some of their tracks, failing to set them apart from an already well populated rock scene, seems to be on their mind but they're making a conscious effort to rectify the problem in not only the varying vocals but implementing welcome breaks in the form of gentle violins, the furious banjo intro, and the almost ambient piano work to close it all. And if a track fails to separate itself from other contemporaries it rarely fails to distinguish itself from the rest of the tracks that this album offers.

Excessive post-production work removing all the dirt from their musical fingernails and the occasional cliché pop-like catchy chorus line slow down what should have been an all out rock tune and prevent this album from being all it could have been. The volume levels are well balanced with the drums registering maybe a touch too mechanically and the guitars being loud and clear underneath the vocals, with only the bass really getting lost in the mix, which is nothing particularly unusual. There are a few misses in their track list but they're outnumbered by the sheer wealth of blues-laden crunchy riffs and Southern grooves that demand the volume be turned up, irrespective of how loud it is at the time. It's nothing new, clever or even particularly original, and yet despite all the derogatory comparisons, it feels as though more than just reminiscing about the Southern rock bands of the past, they're trying to pick up where they left off. There's still work to be done, but their situation never feels complacent or through a lack of trying, and on this road things can only improve.

Highlights: Waiting on my Deathbed, Step Up (I'm On it), Oh Lonely Grave

Vivisick – Respect and Hate

Posted by T. Bawden Tuesday, 15 March 2011 0 comments

Whilst a genre lately I've been becoming interested in of late, only the likes of “Mind of Asian” and “Red Bacteria Vacuum” have seen their review here thus far. Do you have any idea how hard it is to write reviews on powerviolence bands? This shit ain't that diverse! The vocals are all screamed and the guitars are not that different; quite frankly there isn't an awful lot between them. Writing my normal sized reviews has not worked, and I've been struggling with it until I've hit this ridiculous backlog, so say hello to my bitesized chunks of the Japanese underground. I think I'll call it a special and hope nobody notices.

Vivisick – Respect and Hate – 4.5/5

It seems as though Vivisick is the sort of band I've been hunting around for. It's not quite as raw and constantly trying to be in your face which can ultimately make for a relatively monotonous affair, but neither are they as concerned with creating as much of a bouncy beat, forgetting the energy along the way; rather it seems like they've got the balance of the two just right. Tracks opening with what sounds like demonic entities complaining in the back of an office, short solos that scream out 'actually, I can play guitar, this is a stylistic choice fucktard' and an ever present hint that actually this one might sound coherent before they invariably lose self control moments later and sound like they're trying to break things. The energy could be mistaken for a live album as it sounds like they might well be running around the room and bouncing off the padded walls of their room at the mental hospital, clutching onto their instruments as though their lives depended on it. If you took only one release from this special, Vivisick should probably be the recipient of your bandwidth.

Slight Slappers – A Selfish World Called Freedom – 3.5/5

With a touch of doom to some of their tracks, they use the slow grind of the genre to catapult into full blown powerviolence territory, performing at a pace that would make most others do a double take, but it never really feels like this contrast is used to its full potential. There's certainly nothing in particular they get wrong (actually, I wonder how far wrong you can really go with such a simplistic formula) and the dissonance in many of the tracks works wonders; the underutilised dual guitars colliding into one another creating a tremendous sense of anarchy to the proceedings. It simply doesn't hit all the right notes, and particularly with so many tracks clocking in at about half a minute it doesn't feel like they really fleshed them out, instead leaving it feeling a touch like filler material, which when each track ends in a few seconds long fade out, can present something of a problem. And with quarter of the album spent playing an unexpected but not unwelcome ballad track, it does make you wonder just what happened to the rest of their material.

Fuck on the Beach – Power Violence Forever – 2/5

As beautifully raw as the vocals are, they sound a lot like the sound of a cat vomiting, which may well be a plus to some but for me just seems a little disappointing. They also have a dreadful habit – or impressive ability if you like – to remain pitch perfect but only at the one pitch. None of this is helped by the fact that a good portion of the tracks are comprised of literally two chords, a plodding bass line and repetitive blast beats with no variation or fills, particularly during the sections meant to sound the most aggressive and high tempo, but rather than sound chaotic it just sounds repetitive; like the same second or two of a record skipping in a loop. The production does everything I could have wanted from it and prevents it from truly scraping the bottom of the barrel, but if there ever was a case for “powerviolence done badly,” Fuck on the Beach make a persuasive argument.

Romantic Gorilla – Romantic Gorilla – 3.5/5

And now its time for my bizarre pick of the bunch. If I had to make one comparison for this female fronted assault on the senses it would be 'Carnival in Coal,' not so much in style but more in sensibility (or their inherent lack of it). With short and snappy tracks about kittens, getting drunk, and what actually happened last night, they seem to throw away the usual destructive and violent attitude for something more comically inspired, and despite the comparatively short track lengths – even for powerviolence – it works for their simplistic performance style, each track ending before it overstays its welcome. In many ways, however, it feels rather middle of the road; they don't really slow down any more than is required to make their melodies known, but neither does it really have the time to develop into a full on fury. The production is sufficient to make each instrument heard without losing too much of the raw energy, but it all feels a little too focussed on being catchy rather than chaotic.

S41 – S41

Posted by T. Bawden 0 comments

S41 – S41 – 4/5

It's hard not to be impressed by an album that opens with a sadistic laugh – they know what's coming next – before everything kicks off at such a blistering pace that your hair gets blown back like on a rollercoaster or a bad cartoon. Sitting without moving your head back from the sheer force of the air coming through the speakers and preventing your cheeks shaking from it all being blown into your face feels like a serious issue to be dealt with, and it doesn't exactly come with a 'how to' guide either. Any brief respite should be utilised to catch your breath again, and do it quickly because you never know when the next drop in the rollercoaster ride is coming from, except that it probably won't be long. There's nothing smart or clever about the way these guys play. There's no gimmicks to behold and no frills to their music, but for ten minutes these guys show everyone precisely what powerviolence is all about.

Breakfast – Classic Six Packs – 3.5/5

One of the slowest of the powerviolence bands in my collection, everything in the production feels a touch to bass heavy robbing the vocals of much of their bite, and leaving them feeling rather monotonous, which isn't helped by the overwhelming 'noisiness' of the guitars at times which doesn't pick up on the speed of the playing and instead leaves it feeling a little blurred. That said, the lead guitar certainly has a distinctive twang to them that reminds me of skacore (one track even uses trumpets!), and whilst this prevents it from ranking amongst the most energetic performances around, it has a certain bouncy fun vibe to it; it sounds less enraged as it does deviously anarchistic, wanting to cause chaos in the streets just because it might be fun. Piano and acoustic guitar solos break up the monotony in this relatively short release, but ultimately it's just a brief respite for a sound that whilst not quite like anything I've ever heard, sounds all too similar all to quickly, largely thanks to the production problems. This reeks of a live-only band being told they had to release something.

Tom Waits - Bone Machine

Posted by T. Bawden Monday, 7 March 2011 0 comments

Album: Bone Machine
Artist: Tom Waits
Released: 1992
Rating: 5/5
Link: {Link Removed at Request}

Tom Waits released his first album in 1973. Closing Time was a collection of fairly standard lounge-pop. Ten years later he completely reinvented himself with Swordfishtrombones, a left-field masterpiece of Captain Beefheart style experimental music. Just under a decade later came Bone Machine, which, in my opinion, is Tom Waits' defining masterpiece.

Bone Machine is a dark, disturbing, mess of an album. I don't even know what that's a picture of on the cover. The title is a reference to the human body as something that will inevitably break down and be replaced. There's a pervading sense of doom throughout this album, which is helped by the the lo-fi, unclear, production, which helps keep everything a little more disorienting and creepy.

Musically, this is an incredibly spare and minimalist album. Most of the songs rely on little more than a bit of percussion (not a drumkit, though, usually just some cans or something Waits has found somewhere) and maybe a bit of bass and few strums of guitar. All of this creates a great atmosphere for the real star, which is Waits' voice. He uses his unique voice (often described as "like he's gargled gravel for his whole life") to inhabit the album's various characters.

Lyrically, this is an album filled with death and depression. Songs like "Earth Died Screaming", "Dirt In The Ground", "The Ocean Doesn't Want Me", "In The Colosseum", and "Murder In The Red Barn" are all filled with the kinds of characters I'd usually expect on a Big Black album. If you're looking for a good time, look elsewhere.

A true classic.

Highlights: "Dirt In The Ground", "In The Colosseum", "I Don't Wanna Grow Up"

By. P. Segal



Guide to the Ratings
0/5 - This caused me physical pain
1/5 - This is really bloody awful
2/5 - This was below average
3/5 - This was above average
4/5 - This was pretty darn good.
5/5 - I cannot fault this epitome of perfection.

I cant guarantee all reviewers adhere to these guidelines, but work as a general guide.

Author's credit is given on all posts.