The British underground contains so many gems, every underground gig whether it’s in Kent, Essex or afar is sometimes like walking into an undiscovered mine. In this review I will be reviewing the split release from Meadows and Sky:Lark!, the split from Old Man Lizard and Earthmass entitled Through the Hole in the Sky and as well Divide The Growth And Stone from Jøtnarr.
Read my live report from the launch party in Colchester for the two splits here.
The split starts off with Sky:Lark!’s side with the track ‘Broken Feet’ – never has chaos sounded so orchestrated and frantic. But it’s not all mayhem, for a band that dubs themselves ‘noise rock and roll’ there were some rather nice moments. ‘How Many Times?’ contains some riffs that I found rather relaxing, It is a testament to the band’s skill as musicians to effortlessly change the tempo mid-song before picking up again to create some pummeling noise. But it’s not all relaxing as the final song for their side of the split is titanic; ‘Centurion Beast’ contains a destructive breakdown to end their side of the split in style.
Meadows’ side on the other hand sounds like a fight in a beard factory. With fantasy inspired lyrics, this rabble have produced a superb riff heavy fusion of stoner rock, sludge metal and hardcore that pummels the eardrums. Whether it’s the destructiveness of ‘Super Thunder Blade’ or the mammoth ‘I Am Stone Head’, quality runs through the veins of this release. There is a nice mix of pace here too, no song goes fast for the sake of it or there is no breakdown to fill in a quota. The best track on the entire split is ‘Super Thunder Blade’ whose riffs sound like something from a retro SNES game, added with gnarly grindcore-esque vocals for the blast-beat driven segment. A truly magnificent split.
Charles – Bass
Ben – Drums
John – Guitar
Chris Moore – Guitar & Vocals
George Newnham – Bass & Vocals
Charlie Kilshaw – Guitar
Jack Newnham – Drums & Vocals
You can stream and purchase the split here.
Through The Hole in the Sky is a very contrasting EP. The first half of the EP is done by country-sludge maestros Old Man Lizard, while the second half is done by the very awesome Earthmass. Old Man Lizard, like Corrosion of Conformity, are masters of being able to perform different styles while retaining their band’s distinct sound. First song ‘Rollgar’, at only a minute and twenty six seconds long, is a nice punchy little number that plods along like one of Hannibal’s elephants off to war. Next the band channel Baroness and Clutch for ‘Beelzebeer Blues’, a slower more melodic song that kicks a lot of ass. Perfect for sitting on your porch having a pint when surveying your swamp.
The Earthmass section is standard Earthmass, so in other words, incredibly beautiful. The sole track ‘Myrka’ sounds like an unreleased track from their earlier release ORMR (reviewed here), no criticism for carrying on this trend. Everything about this track is beautiful, the spacey progressive metal projects a mesmerizing astral voyage, like something from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Looking at my ceiling in the darkness while listening to this made me feel like I was star gazing, I used this word a lot but this instrumental track really was beautiful. Earthmass clearly are a band that deserve to be heard by all progressive fans, the real tragedy is not that Earthmass’ segment is only one track long, but they are not at a greater height than they already are.
Old Man Lizard are:
Jack Newham – Guitars and Vocals
Gav Senior – Bass
Dan Beales – Drums
Chris Houghton – Guitar & Vocals
Chris Saunders – Guitar
Rob Saunders – Bass
Jack Burley – Drums
Mixing crust and black metal with no bass guitar sounds like a dangerous combination. But Colchester’s Jøtnarr fuse these genres with ease on their two track EP The Divide The Growth The Stone. Mixing the savageness of early Mayhem with Immortal, there is a lot to gain from this debut, even if it is only six minutes in length. From the menacing ‘A Plague On Earth’, to the Burzum-influenced ‘Relics’ there is a lot to love about this EP if you are a fan of black metal. The lack of bass is surprisingly not missed, as my co-worker Rob said in his review of them at the Arts Centre supporting Winterfylleth and Eastern Front: “Shunning the need for a bass player and instead doubling up on guitars turned out to be a good move for Jøtnarr, whose ridiculously heavy riffs interspersed with slightly more chaotic periods created a wall of sound that smacked everyone in the face harder than the fists of the Norse giants themselves” (read the full review here).This was a successful but painfully short release that showcases greater things to come from an interesting, fresh new entry into the haunted realm of black metal.
Chris Moore – Guitar and Vocals
Simon Rollo – Guitar
Oliver Harvey – Drums
You can stream Divide The Growth And Stone from Jøtnarr here.