Extended Play: Again With These Things?
List Season doesn’t mean the EPs stop comin’. While you gasp for breath under the avalanche of top-rated albums you never listened to (or even heard of), you can take little sips of air from these pint-sized bubbles of oxygenated magic. Bidip bo-bo-bo for the brawliday seazon.
You’ll know at 0:42 of opener “A Slice of Control” if Gazeless is for you or not. There is not a lot of room between love and hate for such theatric, caterwauling vocals. Or, rather, there is a lot of room, and it’s a gaping cavern where no listeners dare dwell. Glassjaw will immediately come to mind, but you’ll also hear a mélange of ’90s cultural touchstones—the upbeat frown of alt-rock visionaries Quicksand, the grungy chunkiness of Helmet, the not-quite-radio-friendly indie rock of Jets to Brazil, and the pioneering emo dramatics of Diary-era Sunny Day Real Estate. Every once in a while, too, Gazeless tips into Coheed & Cambria territory, though I might not remember what that band sounds like. All told, 861 is bombastic and far-flung, finding all sorts of space to explore and play in a sandbox of genre-pushing bands. An impressive second EP from these Finnish newcomers!
“[Sludge] metal has always been political,” declares Vulgarian in their bandcamp bio, a fitting introduction to their nasty and wretched attack on myopic billionaires, runaway defense budgets, and the capitalist system built for braindead shills and fortified by such flagrant misuse of taxpayer dollars. Slurping down this sludgy slurry from Denver, you’ll find notes of the underappreciated Senior Fellows with hints of Buzzov*en and Sourvein. Little bursts of punk and black metal might even make their way to the back of your palette, leaving your tongue stinking and feeling like sandpaper. Have a few glugs, forget to brush your teeth, and blast your morning breath at a vile world.
Things have been very quiet for this Boston trio since 2013’s split with emoviolence luminaries The Saddest Landscape and 2014’s Stranger Songs (both released on Topshelf Records). Members of My Fictions have spent the intervening 7 years releasing records with a slew of different projects, but I’m glad they’ve found their way back together. Brooding and introspective, My Fictions’s newest EP Time Immemorial is a unique, arresting take on gloomy hardcore a la Defeater, Blacklisted, and Modern Life is War. A shivering darkness haunts every dogged step of Time Immemorial, though that does not mean the band cannot, at times, outrun its demons and unleash its own brand of scouring hell. This EP will be a serious treat for anyone who loves their hardcore drenched in pathos. This one might be special.
Though Witch Vomit needs no introduction to Toilet ov Hell, the Toilet apparently needs a reminder, as Abhorrent Rapture has been sitting on the shelf for 6 sadistic months with nary a word from any of the Bowl’s esteemed wordsmiths. I have an inkling as to why, though. Now, we all know that metal is a squeaky-clean genre, and that we, as listeners, are lucky to never have to sketch-check bands and labels nor avoid a frankly stunning number of Neo-Nazis, nationalist sympathizers, excuse-peddlers, and abusers and assaulters. It’s just pure fun in the world of metal! Except, of course, what I’m forced to call EP prejudice. I don’t want to use such an ugly word, but if we’re going to be honest with ourselves, we have to call it like it is. We keep EPs off our End of the Year lists, we fail to review them, and we never give them the respect they deserve. Sickening. Maybe Abhorrent Rapture, with its heady mix of 90s death metal flavours (Autopsy, Bolt Thrower, and Demigod, oh my!) will convince you to stop the hate. Up out of the caverns squeals and roars this ballast against the those who would overlook a record simply because it wasn’t long enough.
Reviewing an album released an entire year ago? I might as well hand in my keys and backstage pass. True Blue might’ve dropped in 2020, but the band’s righteous video for standout track “Brain Wavez” hit the streets in May 2021, so what’s a few months between friends, anyways? If you love spelling shit with Z’s, the crossover flair of Fire & Ice, the Baltimore bounce of Trapped Under Ice, spray-painting BLM on cop cars, clickity-ickity clinks, and the groovy psychedelic fun of Give or Illusion, then Mindz Eye is your new favourite Denver Hardcore band. There are a few flashes of clean vocals and wonky guitar effects that really brighten up True Blue’s two-step stomp. Continue sleeping on this band at your own peril!