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Tuesday 10 May 2022

Reviews: Cage Fight, Motor Sister, Glassbone, Morgue Supplier (Reviews By Matt Bladen, Simon Black, Zach Scott & Matt Cook)

Cage Fight - Cage Fight (Candlelight/Spinefarm) [Matt Bladen]

Violent, abrasive and downright abusive in places the self titled debut from hardcore/metal crew Cage Fight, is a record that will make fans of guitarist James Monteith's other band Tesseract, cry into their djumpers (see what I did there?). There's very few poly rhythms and technical wizardry on this record, just riffs as sharp as barbed wire wrapped in broken glass. James started the band at home during the lockdown, jamming ideas with his friend, bassist and MC Jon Reid. 

They set about writing a record that took from their childhood influences most of which stemming from the hardcore metal scene of the 90's when Hatebreed and Terror were demolishing stages across the world armed only with blistering heaviness and the occasional white vest/camo shorts combo. The ethos of this album was to keep it simple and use it vent the built up aggression that I think we have all felt these past few years whether it's Covid, the degrading of democracy by self righteous politics, racial/sexual injustice etc etc. Cage Fight's debut album is a way to find catharsis. With Nick Plews aboard for some percussive battery they needed a voice so James called upon Rachel Aspe formerly of Eths to front the band. 

Her voice is ideal for putting across these frustrations, shifting between screams, growls, roars as well as some haunting choirs on My Dreams, she's vocal revelation, it's no wonder her voice was praised by Black Dahlia Murder's Trevor Strnad. Don't be fooled into thinking that this isn't a record that isn't brimming with ability just because it's not djent, Monteith's guitar playing is just as musically impressive as it is in his day job, it's just much more frenzied and direct, peeling off a few shredding solos too, One Minute having real barn burner. 

Reid's bass gives tracks such as Make A Decision and the Body Count cover Bitch In The Pit a ferocious groove as he also adds more of a Body Count and Biohazard rapcore feel to Intro and interlude (Body Count!). Behind the kit Nick Plews is a beast, maintaining the pace of Dave Lombardo for songs such as Guillotine. Cage Fight have unleashed a vicious debut record that will certainly get pits moving, more than a side project Cage Fight has all the force and power of a Michael Chandler kick to the jaw! 9/10

Motor Sister - Get Off (Metal Blade Records) [Simon Black]

You’ve gotta love a Supergroup… OK, if you’re a new independent act trying to get off the starting blocks the hard way, they’re as annoying as fuck, what with their readymade pooled audiences, their annoying habit of doing their opening shows on the top third of festival bills on their debut release and the way the labels bend over backwards to make things happen, but for us punters they usually hit the spot nicely. 

This one, have you not come across them before dear reader, comprises of The band comprises Jim Wilson (Mother Superior), Pearl Aday (Pearl), Scott Ian (Anthrax), Joey Vera (Armored Saint) and John Tempesta (White Zombie / The Cult), and started life as a covers outfit formed for Scott Ian’s 50th birthday party, but which went on to release Ride in 2015. That was a fantastic slab of dirty Rock ’N’ Roll, so this sophomore has a very high bar to reach. It smashes it, which let’s face it with the level of experience involved is hardly surprising. With the longest song coming in at four minutes, this is all about lively and punchy songs and wearing out the ears with technical complexity, despite the pedigree of its contributors. 

Can’t Get High Enough sets the tone nicely – raunchy, dirty and above all fun, this is music played with love to the core influences all these guys and gals share. What particularly works well is the vocal interplay between Pearl Aday (in fact Scott Ian’s other half) and Jim Wilson, with both taking turns on the lead vocal spot (although Wilson dominates) and the rest of the time using some well-phrased and perfectly pitched harmonic work. Wilson may dominate, however Aday’s powerful, long and loud melody lines absolutely win out. 

Even the more US Radio Friendly Sooner Or Later works well, because the vocal performances of these two are so enthralling. The whole album rockets by in a burst of pleasure, and is exactly the kind of gritty, stripped back but well-written and fluid kind of material that set me off on this journey all those decades ago. Now all we need is for this to become a proper touring as well as a recording project. 9/10

Glassbone – Spirals: A Safe Place To Self-Destruct EP (Bloodblast Records) [Zach Scott]

Glassbone made waves on the UK underground scene when they dropped their first single, Deep Blue Sea, and its follow up, Misery. Forging a unique blend of industrial and hardcore, the band quickly gained steam, landing a European tour spot with Landmvrks and Ten56. Their first EP, Spirals: A Safe Place To Self-Destruct, follows up on the promise of these first tracks and delivers a heavy and innovative collection of songs. A trap-influenced intro eases the listener in, before the first riff of Pitch Black comes in and brings the heavy. Despite the heavy presence of synths and electronic samples on this EP, it is still guitar-based and unapologetically hardcore. 

Glassbone’s influence from contemporary bands like Varials and Extortionist is palpable, with breakdown after breakdown shaking off any misconceptions that this band was anything but heavy. Synth parts blend well into the guitar attack, thanks to the crystal clear production which also makes the vocals shine through and the drum and bass parts bring the lower end meatiness. As we get to the second track, … So Well, there’s no relenting as vicious breakdowns and groovy two steps are interspersed with modern deathcore-influenced whammy pedal riffs and a powerful scream from vocalist Had. 

The blend of abrasive industrial synths with heavy breakdowns is reminiscent of Mick Gordon’s DOOM OST, the video game soundtrack heavily influenced by modern deathcore and beatdown. Into the second half of the EP, the energy remains high, with the EP’s only single, Spirals, not sacrificing heaviness for catchiness – instead, it provides both with a melodic synth line and teeth-shattering riffs. The end of this song is immense, and shows their real skill for songwriting, with a long slowdown really building the tension towards the final song, Kingdom. After a frenzied intro, this song again locks into the modern hardcore groove, with their own innovative industrial influence and a big chorus section to close out the EP. Instrumentally, this EP is impressive, with a tight rhythm section supporting a powerful and varied vocal style. The songs are well-written, with enough variation between them without making the EP feel disjointed or incohesive. Perhaps most importantly, this release is fresh. 

Due to the recent huge success of Loathe and the recent crop of Deftones-influenced metalcore bands like Spiritbox, Thornhill, and Sleep Token, it is no surprise that a band decided to mix industrial synths with hardcore/metalcore. However, this is done masterfully; neither aspect of this band overshadows the other, they achieve a strong balance between their two main influences. This is a difficult feat to achieve, and speaks volumes to Glassbone’s strong core of writing ability, and shows that they are not just relying on the popularity of recent trends in metalcore, but instead that are capable of writing some heavy, interesting, and – importantly – amazing music. 

One thing that would have benefited the songs is allowing some of them to run a little longer to allow their more progressive influences to occasionally take precedence – however, this is a small note on a very impressive set of songs. In fact, the biggest issue with this EP is that it is so short; it definitely leaves the listener wanting more of the unique sound they’ve curated so well here. Overall, this record is a well-executed foray into the fusion of industrial and hardcore; Glassbone is most definitely a band to keep an eye on in the UK underground scene, as they have followed up on their success with a very strong release. 10/10

Morgue Supplier – Inevitability (Transcending Obscurity) [Matt Cook]

Before diving into this one, it’s imperative that I bring attention to the album artwork. Designed by the frankly magnificent, incomparable Mariusz Lewandowski, Morgue Supplier’s Inevitability features the grim reaper staring out into a desolate, vegetation-bereft wasteland with glowing lava pooling about. The soft, bleak-colored accents is one of Lewandowski’s trademarks, and his awe-inspiring talent has resulted in creating album covers for the likes of Lorna Shore and the simply, indescribably mesmerizing Bell Witch work, Mirror Reaper

The contents within the album don’t disappoint, either. The guitar tones are used as weapons of horror. On Absurd Mentality, the notes become sentient, alien-like. Closing In is groovy and distinctive. Moreover, Departure (Interlude) wails on with brooding reverb and elongated notes before the album revs back up with spine-tingling guitar harmonies (My Path To Hell). Equally as exceptional is the versatility and satisfying blend of the vocals. Frightened unease combined with megaton grunting occupies Absurd Identity; mortifying shrieks of terror permeate Closing In; and the Death influence subtly rears its head on Empty Vacant Shell

It does, however, seem like Inevitability loses its fire as the album proceeds – musically, not vocally. But the majority of the eight tracks is steady, raucous and well-thought out. Tangible shifts in pace and notes of doom and sludge round out the record. 7/10

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