So I busted out The End Will Be Kick's 2005 self-titled debut not too long ago after letting it collect dust on my shelf for way too long and was glad to discover that age had not dwindled its greatness, not even in the slightest. Real talk: Guitarist Niklas Quintana's career with the acts Him Kerosene and Breach would have been more than enough to seal his legacy; his work with the supremely underappreciated TEWBK was the victory lap you didn't know you needed (you do). As far as I'm concerned, dude can now rest on his laurels and enjoy being a dad and a regular citizen without recording another note because, even if far few people listen to his records, his body of work still towers over the rest of the Swedish indie scene now and forevermore.
Always good to revisit the classics every now and then to see how well they're holding up and yep, this one holds up just fine. In fact, I'd say that Breach's final album "Kollapse" still crushes pretty much everything that's come along since it was first released back in 2001.
New Swedish label , in collaboration with Germany's , has reissued Breach's stellar "Godbox" EP on 12" vinyl for the very first time with new artwork from original Breach artist Pierre Johansson. It's already close to sold out so act fast if you want one: http://serenerecords.net/
Apparently it now takes me a full week to dig out of the hole I got myself into by taking time off in December. So while it might not feel quite so timely anymore, I'm going to try and take the time to highlight a few of my top 10 mentions over the next little while before getting back into the Sisyphean task of keeping up with what's new. First: Dödsvarg. The band initially spurred my curiosity because they/he is ex-Detektivbyrån, but when you combine that with the descriptor "a mixture of Meshuggah and Skitsystem," I knew I absolutely needed to hear it. The album "Livet är en dödsorsak" doesn't disappoint either -- the music is crusty, mathy and totally pissed, but they missed one very important note of reference: besides Skitsystem and Meshuggah, Dödsvarg also reminds me a lot of "It's me god"-era Breach. This is not just a good thing, it's a great thing. Don't let Dödsvarg stay overlooked and underappreciated!
At last, a full-length preview of a Terra Tenebrosa track off their forthcoming album "The tunnels", due out March 4 via . The band features ex-members of Breach and is totally crushing, as one would expect.
TOW (The Old Wind) is Tomas Liljedahl from Breach, and it doesn't say who else (maybe it's just Tomas). So with some trepidation and a lot of anticipation involved, I checked out the myspace page expecting something ok-but-not-quite-as-good-as-Breach. "In fields" start really nice, dissonant guitars showing that Tomas does this quite well without Niklas Quintana and Anders Ekström, whose presence I was expecting to miss. But I do not! This sounds sludgy, dissonant, but crisp. When the vocals kick in I'm home. Tomas, you have direct access to my spine with your voice from my adolescence listening to Breach constantly on my freestyle (it was like an iPod but with cassettes). "Raveneye" continues the sludgy heavy dissonant vibe, throwing in a violin (is it a violin?), and "Reign" does the same. It quickly sinks in that this is some good shit right here. The lower production values and slower tempo remind me of "It's me god"-era Breach (greatest record ever) and a little pre-, like "Old songs vs new beats"-era (also a really good slice of Breach). Tomas shows here how much of his presence defined what Breach was, and what a great scream he has. This would be nostalgia, but since no 'good ole days' ever came Breach's way, this is really a second chance for the world to catch on. You hear that World! Catch the fucking fever already!!
Bear in mind that these are rough un-mastered cuts from the recordings of, hopefully, a very promising new album. - Mathias Rask-Andersen
The best new music is old, part II. Java was a somewhat short-lived instrumental act from Gävle, Sweden that formed out of the remains of the hardcore act Ashram. A mere footnote perhaps, but re-visitation might suggest otherwise. Also, consider that the 90s was a fertile time in Swedish hardcore, especially up in Norrland where you had acts such as Fireside, Breach, Refused and Starmarket; to say nothing of acts such as The Bear Quartet or Randy -- so many great bands, all from the same set of towns along the Bothnian coast. The year was 1996 and as such, Java embraced the zeitgeist and sought to expand the sound of modern hardcore as fragmented and moved towards postrock, a sound echoed in acts such as Slint, June of 44 and pretty much any act of that era. The remnants of the 90s 'core remains though, particularly on tracks like "Smokescreen" where you can hear the lingering effects of bands like Groundwork in the subtle mosh. Certainly not as overt as the stuff was putting out further north, but oh yeah, it's there and it's alright. Java never amounted to much in their day, they never played a show even, but they did record a demotape and has seen fit for its rerelease. There is certainly nostalgia for those of us who remember this time in music and saw it firsthand, but I'd assert that Java is simply a good band that never got heard. Until now, that is.
Here's the playlist for this week's radio show Sirius XMU, 100% pre-millennium edition:
01. TALK 1
02. Honey Is Cool - Bolero
03. Beyond Dawn - Addictions are private
04. Commando M Pigg - Baby doll
05. TALK 2
06. Kent - If you were here
07. Fireside - Let Rasputin do it
08. CMX - Ainomieli 97
09. Docent Död - Bensin i blodet
10. TALK 3
11. Bitch Boys - Automobile
12. Nicolai Dunger - This town
13. Broder Daniel - I'll be gone
14. Starmarket - Ten seconds
15. TALK 4
16. Madrugada - Beautyproof
17. Breach - Black sabbath
18. Silverbullit - Thank you Mr.
19. Camouflage - Syster sol
20. TALK 5
21. Entombed - Lights out
Reminder: my show airs every week on Sundays and Mondays at 11pm ET on Sirius XMU. That's channel 26 on Sirius, 43 on XM and 831 for DirecTV subscribers. Next week's show will feature tunes from my top 10 albums of the year.
Flattery will get you everywhere: seeing my name (or even just It's a Trap!) in an album's thank-you list is a surefire way to put a smile on my face. So thank you to NEI for making my day a little brighter. However, it's not as if I'd be tempted otherwise; I've been looking forward to their album for a long, long time and can confidently say that they deliver as-expected. As said before, these guys make the sort of quality angular rock'n'roll that dudes like me in their 30s and above still recall with extreme fondness. Still, I have a friend complain that he thought NEI were a bit lazy sounding, especially when you consider that these dudes formerly played with monster acts such as Brick, Breach and Fireside. While I understand his point, let me counter with "40 rabbits": a rager of a track that recalls those bands' finer moments. Patrik Instedt's vocals are especially maniacal here as he recalls a story that's as confusing to his own (fictional) experience, as it is for the listening. Blood, rabbits, an empty room, the woods, an abandoned car...? It's a distressing portrait. I like it.
Hard to believe, but It's a Trap! turns seven years old today, an age that could be considered near-ancient in the context of this whole interweb doo-hickey. Yep, I've been slogging away at this thing all those years, slowly improving my foreign language skills, refining my tastes, fighting burnout and maybe even becoming a better writer along the way (not really). I've sent out over 300 weekly newsletters, posted nearly 32,000 news items, visited Sweden three times (with a short sidetrip to CPH once), listened to countless albums and have also had the great pleasure of meeting a ton of lovely people along the way. So a huge thanks to you, my readers and also to all of the great artists who inspire me to keep this thing going -- without you, I am nothing.
Breach's final album "Kollapse" came out in 2001 towards the end of a period when I was intensely seeking out Norrland indie/hardcore. I don't remember my first connection, but that's how I got into KVLR, Fireside, Him Kerosene, Starmarket, Carpet People, Isolation Years and many other neighboring acts. Many of those bands remain favorites today and Breach is definitely near the top of the list, with their swansong record being an absolute classic. Nothing sounds like it, not even any of the band's other records. As for posting it today, it's mere luck they happen to have a song with a title fit for the occasion.