Wednesday, August 31, 2011

josé's band(s) of the week: sarabante / balaclava / bacchus

It's tough to pinpoint exactly what sets off a trend, or a musical movement, to put a less negative spin on it. There's usually a fairly clear catalyst (Municipal Waste -> new thrash wave, kindathing), but the twisted and unpredictable motions of bands, artists, genres and record labels are never quite clear. Which is great. Not all sudden avalanches of more or less similar bands are a band thing. Sure, personally I feel maybe we didn't need nu-metal in general as much as a scrotum rash, but an army of cap-wearing youths with opinions as valid as mine would surely disagree with me. Right now, I'm a fucking bandwagon-jumper myself and I unashamedly ride on almost every one the underground has to offer. I find it great that tons of bands are doing creepy 70s style occult rock, that tons of others are finally bringing the Incantation filth back into death metal, and that Southern Lord are signing everyone who at last realized Trap Them are one of the most awesome bands ever.

It's this last bit that is of most interest this week. I've done two bands of the week before, but having three is a first for me, which just goes to show how strong this movement is. We might not be sure what to call it yet - browsing tags for these bands offers "dark hardcore" or "neocrust" (as long as it's not just crust, because it isn't, okay?) are sort of in the ballpark, while "angry ass people", "entombedcore" or "omfg so heavy" are much cooler but probably wouldn't fly as terms to use in serious magazines. Screw it, the long way home is neither serious or a magazine, so. It's at times like these I regret metalcore was turned into a dirty word, because it would really suit what these people are doing. And by these people, I mean not only these three bands, but also Trap Them, of course, whom I see as the main catalyst for all this, Unkind, Okkultokrati, Nails, Black Breath, The Secret, All Pigs Must Die, Young And In The Way, Oathbreaker, Early Graves, Summon The Crows and a lot more. Hell, Victims, even, even if they veer more into the NWOSDM/d-beat mixture. Before we get into these three bands properly, two notes: a) count how many of those are or have been in Southern Lord's roster and b) notice how they're not only all fucking amazing bands, but also relatively small bands who operate a lot within a DIY spirit. That's the most wonderful thing about this little trend so far. I'm sure we'll all get sick of this stuff in a couple of years,  but so far it has offered nothing but great music played by great people, straight from their guts.

from Athens, Greece

Sarabante are the first on the table, further illustrating not only the Southern Lord influence, with whom they signed recently, but also how far-reaching this black cloud is getting, as these five dudes hail from Greece. There's little Mediterranean about them or their debut 'Remnants', where they storm their way through eleven angst-ridden short blasts, the result a darkened tornado full of delightful debris like d-beat rhythms, Tragedy-like urgency and pitch-black gloom. There's even some hummable melody, which you will enjoy for a couple of seconds before a relentless beat washes it all away, like on the beginning of the title track. The last song is called 'Do You Feel Safe', and you won't, not for a second, while Sarabante drop their colossal dose of darkness upon you.

from Richmond, VA

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Guess what label Balaclava are on? That's right, those people again. More of a brute force sort of bunch than Sarabante, with less d-beatisms going on and with the face-peeling vocals in particular closer to the more traditional hardcore approach, they nevertheless achieve more or less the same objective as their Greek label-mates do, which is to smash your skull in with a relentless chug along of brutality. It's tough-guy music, but it's not dumb-guy music. Although most of the songs in their new 'Crimes Of Faith' album do feel simple, a few repeated listens will easily show how calculated a lot of the punches are. Balaclava might be the musical equivalent of a fucking scary huge boxer, but he's also a seasoned and philosophical-in-his-angst one. On their facebook, their influences section reads "Neurosis, His Hero Is Gone, etc...", which shows the spectrum of good taste that is behind this. They also specify there that they're named "after the ski mask preferred by guerrilla militias, not pastries," which is nice to know.

Oh, and while digging around for a bit of info on the band I came across this, on the Was Ist Das website, which is cooler than anything I might have written. Now I wish I would have started a handwritten blog.

from Galway, Ireland

Because there's life outside Southern Lord, but also already outside the more conventional acts of the angry ass people genre, Bacchus needed to be mentioned as well. Hell, one look at those t-shirts and that stack of Orange amps would be enough to know they're people of good taste, but still. They're probably the least known act of these three for now, but their potential is huge, even as a band who will outgrow any genre tags. Offering a similar ferocity as the above mentioned on their self-titled debut LP, they also make justice to that delightuflly creepy album cover by going unpleasant on us with streaks of mean-ass sludge and nightmarish, psychedelic atmospheres gone all wrong. The opening song is called 'Devoted To Shit', which should give you an idea of how far from a party record this is. A glance at their facebook reveals a UK/Euro tour to come in January 2012, so keep your eyes peeled for that. Don't miss this mudslide of putrid aggression if they're in town.


  1. Oh, where did I see this trinity before? ;)


    E na tua inbox do facebook no outro dia, sim.

  3. have you seen any of these bands live? I'd like to know if can they touch trap them in that field. seeing Tt in tiny venues is the bees stinger. good stuff in this post!