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Thursday, 23 June 2022

Reviews: RXPTRS, Made Of Teeth, Tarraska, I Fight Bears (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

RXPTRS - Living Without Death's Permission (Metal Blade Records/Blacklight Media Records)

We've talked about how the tag if 'next big thing' can be a blessing or a curse, for every band that does well out of it several others fall by the wayside and are left to their own devices without the publicity/exposure they once enjoyed. Bristol's RXPTRS are certainly a band that will live up to that tag. A multi year overnight sensation, they have slowly be building a following since their inception in 2018, with an electrifying concoction of metal, hardcore and punk, aiming squarely becoming the biggest and best band they can be, using the diverse musical scene of Bristol as inspiration as well as their different backgrounds. A lot of work has been poured into every aspect of the band, the image, the sound, the playing, getting on to a major label, you can understand how hard; vocalist Simon Roach, guitarists Ian Chadderton and Harley Watson, bassist Sam Leworthy and drummer Mat Capper, have worked to get this debut album out. 

They have released an EP in 2019 but obviously the Covid pandemic hindered the progress of recording this record, however it meant that the ideas passed around during the writing phase were varied and interesting, so when they hit the studio they knew that this debut wasn't just going to stick in a rut of being another album like so-and-so. Living Without Death's Permission is also some sort of emotional catharsis for the band. The title a phrase coined by frontman Roach who was near decapitated in a car crash a few years ago, this idea of being on borrowed time means that he was even more focussed on getting the band where they are now, helpfully aided by the rest of his bandmates sharing the same drive. It's his emotional, personal lyrics and vocals that come across like a mixture of Myles Kennedy, Oli Sykes and a bit of Davey Havok, that hammer these often quite dark themes across backed by a ever changing undercurrent of musical genres. 

The incendiary duo of Buring Pages and Rock Bottom (Is A Stepping Stone), kicks things off with the former full of Alter Bridgeisms while the latter and the few tracks that follow all have post hardcore noises, the atmospheric Dead Awake (As Pretty As The Drugs We Take) has techy riffs and breakdowns throughout giving it those Letlive vibes, while Demons On My Mind is singalong emo chic, evolving into some thrash metal battery. Elsewhere The Death Rattle is a track with some hip shaking, jazz inflected rhythms ala David Lee Roth but with dark lyrics, displaying the bands experimental nature, as does the electronics on Cold Ground where there's flashes of Northlane ina big torch song. The last song Let Me Die How I Want is driven by some Tool-esque percussion, releasing all of the emotion the record builds up is released on this anthemic final moment of modern metal magic. RXPTRS have have been uncaged with this record, well worthy of any 'next big thing' tag that is bestowed upon them. Watch this space! 9/10

Made Of Teeth - Sociopathogen (APF Records)

If you want an image of what something that is Made Of Teeth looks like the check out the Series 1 of the horror anthology series, Channel One, this series entitled Candle Cove has a particularly horrifying monster called the Tooth Child, which will stay in your nightmares for about a week. Just as memorable and terrifying are the thunderous riffs of South Wales trio Made Of Teeth. Sociopathogen is their third album overall but their first for the premier, purveyors of putrid noises APF. Sociopathogen takes a big step up from where Made Of Teeth have been before, having seen the band several times in the South Wales scene, I can attest to that every viewing they become a fiercer, more focussed unit, cranking out heavy sludge riffs fused punk/hardcore aggression and a collective love of ear splitting noise music. 

They've supported some of the biggest in the scene, and will do again at their album launch show supporting High On Fire in London on 24 June. These high profile supports along with the members experience in various stoner/doom/sludge/hardcore bands have all been funnelled into making Sociopathogen their finest hour. Making full use of the lockdowns, they have tinkered with their sound on this third outing, producing a more mature, but also a more vicious outing that will have you shouting "what the f*ck just happened!" when the 30 minutes fly by. All three members; Chris West (guitars), Tom Cole (bass) and Steve-o Jones (drums) add vocal shouts, growls and screams, which means that every song has an unhinged, riotous nature, rarely letting the pace slow. It's the hardcore and punk influences that show through on Four, single Three4a1er and Strutter Bubble, but with a technically not always heard in bands from either genre. 

There's psych weirdness and sludge sprinkled across these 11 slices of aggression too as Made Of Teeth, carve out their best record yet, drilling through pure concrete and finding gold. As Sociopathogen continues, What's The Time and Pearly Whites both having some mind bending backmasking, there's some low dirty grind to Small Operation and Shotgun Steve, Pick A Pocket jumps into blasts of cascading noise. All in all Sociopathogen will have you trying to incite a riot in your front room, ignore Googling pictures of Teeth People because. Made Of Teeth have arrived on APF and they are taking no prisoners. 8/10 

Tarraska - Tarraska (Earache Records)

South Coast based rockers Tarraska started life as an acoustic two-piece, now I expect some sort of Robert Johnson, sell their soul to the Devil for rock n roll sort of story, alas this is 2022 so the evolution into a full electric band is a bit more realistic. Ben Parker (lead guitar) and Jack Lande (vocals/guitar) had been friends for years and came together for a jazz show after the original singer pulled out. They spent a huge amount of time gigging as an electric/acoustic covers duo before their songwriting filled their set with originals and they began to want to flesh things out a bit more. 

Citing influences as wide as Alter Bridge, Slash, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Foo Fighters, Van Halen, Tremonti, FFDP, Guns N Roses, the band are very much drawn towards that NWOCR that is so en vogue right now. The core duo of Ben's searing lead guitars and Jack's soulful vocals are utilized well on tracks such as Shifting Gears and Getting Out Alive, both very aware of what makes the classic rock genre so popular while also adding a distinct modern touch. The idea was to release a load of singles then an album, however that plan was scuppered by the various Covid lockdowns so when the duo finally managed to get into a studio with drummer Allan Varnfield they made the most of it cranking out 12 tracks all of which are varied and bring different facets to the Tarraska experience. 

The singles idea is obviously really when you listen to this album as there are at least 5 that could be definitive singles that would offer a different side of the band. The acoustic years reflected on White Flower, which has a touch of Creed to it, though not as much as Requiem while Trailblazer is a track built for arenas and Say No Prayer is as modern as it gets here built on some towering grooves. On the back of this record they look to tour with Oliver Lande joining the live line up on bass, I'd suggest heading out to see them but first pick up this record as it's a impactful debut which features influences from some of the most accomplished bands in rock. 7/10

I Fight Bears - Liberosis (Self Released)

Being unleashed on the general populace on the day they play for a place at Bloodstock in the Semi Final of Metal To The Masses South Wales (Friday 24th June Fuel Rock Club). Liberosis is the latest EP from Bridgend modern metalcore (with emphasis on the metal) mob I Fight Bears, following their debut album in 2018. Now with a name like that they aren't going to play AOR, however for all the massive grooves, thrash metal riffs and screams, there's a deep vein of melody coming on the choruses, bassist Drew Hamley's clean vocals working well with lead vocalist Dan Blackmore's harsh voice. If you've seen the band live, you'll know that the dual vocal translates well to their live show, it's more potent on the record too with both men giving their all. 

Obviously they need the music to back them and Hamley locks in for some wall shaking grooves on Chainbreaker alongside drummer Scott Preece, his percussion brilliantly bringing the fire on the thrashy State. With influences from Lamb Of God and Parkway Drive there's also Architects and more classic metal flashes across Liberosis the guitar playing of Chris Treharne and Marc James is worth noting as well, James locking into the rhythm section as Treharne lets loose with some fluid leads. Liberosis has been a long time coming, Hamley putting it as a "culmination of a 2-3 years" where the songs were re-tooled and re-shaped to what they are now, feeling that the band need a fresh direction than before, almost re-establishing themselves. 

They have certainly done that. Liberosis is well written and well performed, balancing the vicious and the melodic, I Fight Bears are back with a vengeance. 8/10

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