Archive for the ‘Hardcore’ Category

The Amity Affliction are quickly becoming one of the most recognisable names in Australian heavy music. In the last 6 months they have crossed the globe, pulling extensive tours across Europe, the US and on Australia’s Soundwave Festival. They are one of few Australian metal/hardcore bands who have graced the Top 20 ARIA chart, with 2010’s Youngbloods debuting at #6. The band are due back into Australia to co-headline the Destroy Music tour with the revived I Killed The Prom Queen. I had a talk to keyboardist Trad Nathan about why punk rock is all about having a good time.

*This is a piece I did with, check out the original article here.


I’ll start off with an easy one, what’s your favourite beer?

I actually don’t drink beer. I know it sounds like the least manly, gayest thing you’ve ever heard. If I did drink beer it would be Coopers though, for sure. I do love alcohol though. I drink red wine or gin. I think I’ve just taken the next step to alcoholism *laughs*. Nah, drinking a lot of beer on tour, it definitely takes its toll on you I think. So I just stick to the spirits or the red. I don’t know how it treats my body better.

Speaking of drinking, how the hell do you get on stage night after night drunk?

We definitely drink every night on tour, but we don’t drink until we’re shitfaced. It’s just a little pre-gig ritual that we have. Our drummer Ryan, 90% of the time he won’t have a drink before we play. I dunno, drinkers drink, people who don’t drink don’t, it’s just what we do. We’re never fucking wasted so we can’t play. I think that was a big misconception of the band.

Trad Nathan live

Oh shit I’m gonna destroy your party image.

*laughs* Nah we love to party, and get us off that stage and we’ll definitely party as hard as possible. But y’know, with bigger shows comes more responsibility, and we kinda got over that shit five years ago.

Prom Queen was a big influence on The Amity Affliction in the early days,


How does it feel to be now co-headlining a tour with them?

It’s ridiculous. I never thought I’d see the day. But at the same time they broke-up and went on hiatus. A lot of their fans have gotten older. I’d say their underage fan-base may have slipped from a couple of years ago, because the kids that were 16 then, are now 18. Amity’s had a really strong couple of years, especially the last year with Soundwave and the previous tours, our all-ages is probably stronger than it’s ever been. We’re probably sitting on par in terms of how many kids we’ll draw to the tour. Though personally we don’t give a fuck where we play. I’d rather open the tour to be honest, so I can party with everyone. Headlining is an irrelevant thing. That said, it’s definitely amazing to be co-headlining with some of your best friends and a band that influenced your band.

I was lucky enough to have a chat to Jona about it last week.

Was he stoked or was he being a dickhead?

He seemed pretty keen for it. Like you he said it doesn’t really matter to him who’s headlining, but if anything he’d want Prom Queen to put on a good show and keep you guys on your toes.

Like blow us out of the water or something? *laughs* Well you’ve got to work hard for the money. Seriously this last year, I think we’ve been in the UK for the whole of December, then Europe for the whole of Febuary, then we came back and had Soundwave straight away, then we went to the States and did 35 dates straight, and we’ve only been home for a week and a half, so I’m pretty sure we’ll be fine.

I don't think I can ever do a aussie metalcore interview and resist posting the cheesy early band photos. They are always so good.

They’re coming from the opposite place, having only two weeks to rehearsal for it all.

Yeah, when I last spoke to JJ he said they only started three days ago. But they’re all talented motherfuckers, I’m sure they’ll smash it.

What’s next in terms of releases for Amity? Have you started writing the next album yet?

There’s a few ideas being thrown around, but nothing on paper just yet. I think as soon as we get this May tour out of the way we don’t have much on until October, so there’s definitely enough down-time to start writing and start getting something ready. No-one knows for when or why, but we’ll definitely be doing something.


So you’ll be working on an LP?

Oh yeah for sure, I don’t really see the point of doing EPs anymore. Although, I would like to do a split with Break Even or any good friends of ours really, and just do something like that fun in-between albums. We’ll see.

Why did you choose to release a compilation album, Glory Days? Are your first two EPs still in print?

They are but they seem to be really hard to get a hold of. So, rather than re-press everything, we just got sick of kids asking us where to get them. The packaging was more of a label thing, I would have rather have kept it separate, and I think a lot of people thought it may have been a new record when it was just a couple of un-released tracks. That’s probably more of a label thing, I don’t know what they get up to, it’s pretty dumb.

How would you have released it differently?

I definitely don’t think it was viable to split up the releases and print them from a cost point of view. I don’t bloody know, I probably just wouldn’t have just re-released them *laughs*. I would have like to seen them go to vinyl, or maybe 7”, something a little more creative.

Just before we run out of time, who are your main influences in terms of your keyboard playing? Have you had lessons?

I haven’t, no. I grew up listening to The Get Up Kids. They had a keyboard player, and I don’t how it sat with me so well, but I was just so intrigued by the keyboards, I guess it was kinda like post-hardcore back then. Then I started collecting vintage sythns, and started learning songs, and I just went from there. It was a good ten years ago now. I haven’t really had to learn anything [formally], especially in punk rock and hardcore. If you think that you’re like a shredding musician, go fucking play in a symphony orchestra. This is just about a bunch of retards that came together and just started writing songs. There’s no point in being a rock star. Punk rock is about having a good time, it doesn’t matter how good you are.

The Amity Affliction on Facebook.


That’s right, earlier this month I was lucky enough to have a chat with The Shred aka Jona Weinhofen from I Killed The Prom Queen, one of my favourite metal/ hardcore bands, through, check out the original piece here, or read on below!

Jona Weinhofen is a name you can’t miss in today’s heavy music scene. After starting I Killed The Prom Queen back in 2000, and subsequently playing in not one, but two massive international bands (Bleeding Through and Bring Me The Horizon), Jona is bringing it all back to square one by reviving Adelaide’s favourite sons I Killed The Prom Queen. The band are playing the Destroy Music tour in May with The Amity Affliction. Jona took a break after another hectic show with Bring Me The Horizon, to talk about new Prom Queen vocalist Jamie Hope, living in three countries at once and why you should never get agree to a game of soccer with Winston from Parkway.

Rock N Roll

After the Say Goodbye tour did you have plans to reform the band or is it something that only came up recently?

I wouldn’t say there were plans. But that tour was a moment of realization for everyone in the band, in terms of how good we had it and how good those shows were. It was an awesome tour that we thought ‘fuck, should we think about doing something in the future’. The Say Goodbye tour was the spawning of the idea of a reformation. That’s when we began talking about options and different ideas and timeframes and all that sort of stuff. Somehow it’s taken a period of three years to get everything set out straight and to a point where we are all happy moving forward.

Will you guys work on new material when rehearsing for the Destroy Music tour?

We’re going to have a hard enough time keeping things tight as a band. We haven’t played together in years. I don’t know whether at the rehearsal studio it’ll be like riding a bike again, or whether it’ll be like shaking off the cobwebs and trying not to suck *laughs*. But who knows, we have something like two weeks to rehearse before the tour starts, and some ideas might come about. But I don’t think we’re set out to focus on writing new material just yet. We’ve definitely set aside some time at the end of this year and the start of next year, when I have a break from Bring Me The Horizon’s tour schedule and JJ has a break from Deez Nuts, that’s when we’re looking at really getting together and collaborating on some new gear.

IKTPQ 2011: Back from the dead

I can imagine (new vocalist) Jamie’s voice being more suited to the Music For The Recently Deceased era material. Do you see the Destroy Music set focusing on MFTRD material or having quite a bit of earlier songs like the Say Goodbye tour?

There will definitely be a bit of variation. However, I think the Say Goodbye tour was in a way closing that chapter of Prom Queen. We did the tour with Crafter and we played some older stuff that he was featured on. But we’re moving forward. This is now three years on from that tour, and I’m not even sure how many of our fans that come out to see The Amity Affliction and Prom Queen are gonna know the older material. We’ll definitely bust out a few oldies for anyone there who cares or wants to hear them. But for us, it’s probably more important for us to play Music For The Recently Deceased, especially because we’re re-issuing that CD in time for the tour.

What has Sean been up to musically while Prom Queen has been on a break, apart from playing bass in Deez Nuts?

He’s dabbled in a few projects. But when Prom Queen decided to call it quits or go on hiatus, whatever you want to call it, back in 2007, he was happy to take a break and chill out a bit. He had a steady girlfriend at the time, and he just wanted to lay low for a bit. He did a few bands in Perth with some guys over there. He wrote some acoustic material that he never really did anything with. That was his time to chill out I guess, while everyone else wanted to start something new or join other bands and keep rocking.

The man they call Teh Shred

How do you find living in England? Have you been picking up English habits like drinking endless cups of tea and keeping tabs on the royals?

I definitely do drink more tea than I ever had before, it’s kinda weird *laughs*. But, technically I don’t live here, which is also very strange. I never actually moved here, I don’t have a place that I live when I’m over here. The only time I’ve ever really spent here was when we were writing the new album for Bring Me The Horizon, and that was only a period for about three months, and for a lot of that time we rented a manor and went up there to write. Outside of that, I’ve been staying with my girlfriend who lives in Norway, which is another obscure place. However it’s pretty central for me, in terms of being close to England and being close to the band, it’s only a two-hour flight, so I can easily get there and do any press or anything that I need to do. I’ve basically been living between Norway and Adelaide. And I don’t get to come back to Australia too often, so I wouldn’t even say I live in Adelaide. I’m more of a couch surfer these days.

Loud noises!

I saw Oslo on your Myspace and wondered what the deal was.

Yeah *laughs*. That’s probably where I’ve spent the most time off-tour in the last two years.

At the Bristol gig Bring Me The Horizon played some acoustic songs. How did that go down, how does Bring Me The Horizon sound acoustic? Which songs did you do?

It definitely wasn’t glamorous *laughs*. We had a power cut and the whole venue was evacuated and the venue basically decided to cancel the show. There was an angry mob of 1600 punters outside of our bus, and we’re like ‘shit, are they going to riot, or are they going to be cool, or are they just going to home and disperse’. There were a few kids yelling. Some police decided to show up and we’re like ‘holy shit, what’s going to go on here’. We just came up with this funny idea to jump on this cargo container that was out in the parking lot next to the venue and play some acoustic songs. A lot of Bring Me The Horizon is pretty heavy but there are a few melodic songs that can translate into acoustic music. We got up there and we thought it was something kinda funny that we could do for fans that missed out on the gig. It turned out we’ve rescheduled the gig for this Tuesday anyway, so they still get to see us. It was just one of those weird, one-off ideas that we decided to go with at the time.

Jona with Bring Me The Horizon

Jamie Hope’s vocal style in The Red Shore is obviously very death-metal influenced, how do you see it fitting in with Prom Queen? Do you think we’ll see a different side to his vocals, as he’s working in a more melodic band?

It’s been so long since we’ve written stuff that no-one really knows what anything new is going to sound like. Jamie’s fairly versatile as a vocalist. We’ve had one rehearsal with him a few weeks ago, when I was back in the country for Soundwave with Bring Me The Horizon. It sounded cool and we asked him to do a few different things, a few different sounds and styles. Like you said, his voice his voice is going to work really well with the material from Music For The Recently Deceased, but he’s versatile enough that he can change it around if we decide to write stuff which sounds crazily different, which I can’t really see happening.

Did you consider asking (In Trenches/ Day Of Contempt vocalist) Ben Coyte to do vocals for Prom Queen?

Yeah that was definitely an idea that came about, around two years ago. And he again has a really unique style of voice, and we weren’t sure that his voice would work so much with the style of music that we were playing more recently. He’s a good mate of ours and it was an idea that got talked about. He’s a bit older again, and he’s had his fair share of touring and doing bands and we weren’t sure that he’d even want to do a band like that

Jona back in the MFTRD Prom Queen era

How is Matt’s hand? How is the Bring Me The Horizon set going with Dan (Architects) on the kit?

*laughs* Yeah it’s not bad. It was a bit rough the first day. Dan only had about 45 minutes to learn our entire set. Matt’s been told he’s still got a couple of weeks before he can get his cast off, and it’ll be six week before he regains full mobility and can play the drums again. So he’s out, but luckily we have a whole month off after this tour. He might be out for the first few European festivals we have coming up after the break. Like you said, Dan’s filling in for us on drums, and he’s done a really awesome job. We played Brixton Academy last night to 5000 people, and there wasn’t too many stuff-ups, which was wicked *laughs*.

Did you consider asking Ben from Parkway to play drums?

Yeah, well our first thought was to ask all three drummers on the tour to learn a few songs each. But, we’ve done so much touring with Architects that Dan was fairly confident that he could play the whole set, and he’s a bit of a fan of the band as well, so he knew the songs fairly well already. Like I said, he had 45 minutes to learn the set and he pretty much pulled it off on that first night, so that’s why we decided to stick with the one guy.

What comics have you been reading lately?

I’m reading one called Crossed and it is fucking gnarly. It’s sort of a zombie theme, but it doesn’t even name it as a virus. It’s about a bunch of people who spread this condition through any kind of bodily fluids, so if they spit into your face, you immediately turn into one of them. They are referred to as The Crossed, and they have this weird infection on their face in the shape of a cross. Basically, it turns you insane and they go around pillaging and raping anyone that’s anywhere is near them. It’s about a small group of survivors that are trying to travel from southern America all the way up to Alaska to escape these crazy people. It’s one of the most violent comics I’ve read.

Verrry old Prom Queen. haha. Aussie metalcore reprezent.

Will Amity be playing last on all the Destroy Music dates?

We’ve agreed to let them close the tour for a number of reasons. The tour already existed before Prom Queen were ever added. It was basically Amity’s headline tour, and they offered for I Killed The Prom Queen to do the tour, and we had a talk about who should be closing the tour. We agreed that it was fine for them to close the tour. We’ve decided to do co-billing, which basically means the name’s the same size on the poster and we get the same amount of beers every night. We were fine with that, we didn’t mind playing second to last every night. If anything, hopefully we put on a wicked show and they’re the ones who have to go out and top that.

Have you had much time to hang out with the Parkway guys on your UK tour?

I float between our dressing room and theirs every day. Their tour manager Webber, not sure if you know him, he’s from Adelaide. I’ve been good mates with him for about 11 years. I hang out with him a lot. And there was the infamous match where Matt broke his hand, that was between Bring Me The Horizon and Parkway Drive. They were just playing soccer out in the field by the venue. Winston from Parkway kicked the ball and clipped Matt Nicolls’ hand with his foot.

A# is a somewhat unusual tuning to be playing in. Why do you choose to play in A# in Bring Me The Horizon?

I don’t even know *laughs*. Horizon has always had pretty low tunings, and I guess when they wrote Suicide Season they experimented a bit more. There is a few different tunings we use for various songs. The way we decide how it’s going to be tuned is just the vibe of the song as we are writing it. We tried writing a few riffs in a certain tuning and it sounded strange, so we just tried it in a different tuning and it sounded better and felt better. The new material is in three different tunings: C standard, drop A# and drop G, which is ultra low, we only have a few songs in G. It’s cool to change things up, it keeps things fresh. It’s weird, you can play a guitar in the same tuning, and when you are writing stuff you seem to get the same ideas over and over, and as soon as you change one little thing, such as tuning your guitar down a step, or experimenting with different open chord tunings, it opens you up to a whole new world of writing different kinds of music. I guess that’s one of the reasons the band experiment with different tunings, it sheds a bit of new light on the writing process.


What was the tuning you used in Prom Queen material?

Everything prior to Music For The Recently Deceased was drop C, and Music For The Recently Deceased was recorded in drop B.

Were you disappointed to hear of Carpathian’s hiatus?

Being a friend to a lot of those guys and knowing them fairly well, it was something that I saw as a long time coming. Even just watching from afar and looking at with their touring schedule over the last few years, and seeing it slowly taper off until the point where they almost weren’t touring at all. So when they announced it, I just thought ‘alright, yeah, that’s not really that much of a surprise.’ They will probably start new bands or do exactly what the guys from Prom Queen did, take a break and go off and enjoy other bands and start other ventures.

The revived Prom Queen, shot this week at Billboards in Melbourne.

Eating good food isn’t easy on the road, is it a challenge to find decent vegan meals in a different city every night?

I’ve got that sweet iPhone app that tells you where all the restaurants are nearby and health food stores and stuff like that. With Bring Me The Horizon where at a point where we can request certain things on our catering rider and most of the time we get what we ask for. There is never a shortage of vegan sliced meat and cheeses. I manage to eat fairly healthy on tour, we’ve got plenty of salad, fruit, veg and stuff to make sandwiches with. I picked up some vegemite from a store over here the other day, and I had some of that on crumpets yesterday, so I’m doing alright!

Do you get all your tattoo work done with Derek Noble in Seattle now?

More or less. I’ve been tattooed by a few different people since, but that’s been little bits and pieces. All my pieces have been done by him since 2008, when I first got my sleeve and my left hand done by him. I’ve admired his work for years and when I finally realised I was going to be near him long enough to start getting big tattoos done by him I kinda fell in love with his style even more. I haven’t really found anyone else who I really care about tattooed enough by. Plus I’m old now and I hate getting tattooed. Getting tattooed once a year by Derek Noble when I’m on tour in the states is fine by me.

I don't think this even needs a caption. lol

Several Destroy Music shows have already sold-out, leading to more dates being added. Where you expecting such a response to the revived Prom Queen so many years after you were last active?

Honestly, I try not to have any expectations. Especially with Prom Queen, because it’s been so long since we’ve been active or played any shows or anything. For us to come into this tour to expect everything to be sold out and for us to be massive, would be dumb, especially if it didn’t happen and it’d just lead to disappointment. It’s really cool that the shows are selling out. I didn’t doubt whether it would go well because of how well Amity Affliction are doing. Especially after seeing them perform on Soundwave fest when I was there with Horizon. Seeing them kill it every night, I was like ‘oh well, this tour in May, even without Prom Queen it would go fine with these guys cause they are killing it at the moment’.

I Killed The Prom Queen on Facebook.
Bring Me The Horizon on Facebook.

I shot these videos at the East Brunswick Club. They feature Defeater from Boston and Miles Away from Perth (who were headlining the show strangely enough). Both bands play melodic hardcore and are in absolutely top form here. The quality is far from perfect admittedly.

Defeater. It's in black and white is so you know it's srs bsns.

Empty Glass is from Defeater’s latest album Empty Days & Sleepless Nights, which is an absolutely killer piece of hardcore, check it out if you haven’t already. Prophet In Plain Clothes is one of the best tracks from their debut, Travels. Anywhere is from Miles Away’s latest album, 2010’s Endless Roads

I was lucky enough to have a chat to Tom Gabel: singer, guitarist and founding member of acoustic punk legends Against Me!. We spoke about about anarchist ideals, the origins of the band’s name and living life without a back-up plan. See Tom and his desperados break hearts all across Australia in May, with Off With Their Heads supporting.

Tom Gabel live

White Crosses is a classic sounding album that reminds me of big rock releases in times past. Were you deliberately going for that vibe, trying to write a classic album in that sense? (you mentioned in another interview you wrote Because of the Shame in Bruce Springsteen’s style, and there also is Bob Dylan Dream).

In a lot of respects, definitely. We wanted to make a huge sounding album where we didn’t hold anything back. Every idea was explored.

You’ve said the band has done over 1600 gigs. What drives you to tour and play shows constantly?

I think that’s part of the allure to being in a band, the adventure, being out on the road, exploring new places, meeting new people. It’s extremely addictive too.

What were the circumstances that led to the cancellation of 2010 tour dates? Was it related to burn-out?

There were a lot of factors. We had just lost support of our label, we needed to regroup. Then there were also some personal issue that some of us needed to attend to at home. Sometimes life happens when you’re in a band.

Rock 'n' Roll

I was introduced to Against Me! by hearing Walking Is Still Honest played acoustic at a back-yard party. Do you write songs acoustically? Or do you write with a full band?

I always write lyrics first and then I work out the song structure and melody on acoustic guitar, build on it from there. If you can’t play a song on acoustic guitar it’s not a very good one. Through whatever else you want on top of it once you have that foundation, but it has to be there.

Is Bob Dylan Dream a reaction to fans interaction with yourself? (I never mentioned my collection of his albums, I never bothered him with intrusive questions).

The song was literally a dream I had. I woke up, wrote down my memories of the dream and put chords to it. The song didn’t take any thought to write, happened in about 5 minutes.

What have you been reading lately?

Jean- Paul Sartre’s War Diaries.

What made you want to pick up a guitar in your youth?

I’ve been playing guitar since I was 8 years old. I’ve always wanted to be a musician, to be in a band, for as long as I can remember. My father was military, I wasn’t really exposed to a lot of music when I was younger, I discovered on my own, but I’ve always been drawn to it.

A group of young men I'm sure will go far

What does the name Against Me! refer to? Have you ever wanted to change the name of the band?

I guess when I named the band I was feeling very misanthropic and paranoid. I’ve never regretted the name.

Have you started writing material for the next Against Me! release?

Yes, for sure. We hope to record sometime this fall or winter. We’ll see.

Do you see yourself working with Butch Vig again?

We would love to if the opportunity presents itself. Butch is my hero.

How is playing with Jay on the kit different from playing with George?

Every drummer is different, they all have their unique style. Anyone who is a Hot Water Music fan knows that to be true about George. There’s subtle differences I’ve noticed between the two of them but the bottom line is they’re both great drummers. The question is kind of like “What’s the difference between driving a Ferrari and Lambourgini?

Do you consider Against Me! to be a political band?

It’s not something I strive for no, but I recognize that I’ve addressed political topics in lyrics.

Punk isn't meant to be pretty

What are three things in your life you see as essential to your happiness?

Creative expression, personal space and my family.

What are some of your memories from Against Me!’s 2008 Australian tour?

I remember a lot of fun shows and hanging out with a lot of fun people. It’s been like that every time.

Have you listened to the support bands for the upcoming Australian tour?

Yes, for sure. We choose all the bands we play with. Off With Their Heads who are doing the whole tour with us are good friends. We just finished a tour with them here in the US about two weeks ago.

Why did you choose to release the Searching For A Former Clarity demos now?

There’s no specific reason other than I finished the project. With both Total Clarity and Original Cowboy (which was the Eternal Cowboy demos) we figure that they’re releases for fans of those records, not the type of thing to present to new people. We’ve got a lot of unreleased material we plan to hopefully all get out there one day. It’s just been a matter of making the time. Since these aren’t new releases theses are projects that only get worked on when nothing else is going on.

Do you listen to much modern music and new releases?

I love music. I’m a vinyl enthusiast. I am constantly searching for new things to listen to.

Download / borrow / buy / steal this album if you haven't heard it yet

Do you still identify with anarchist ideals?

Certainly, there’s a ton of merit to the philosophy. There is no authority but your own. Think for yourself. Be an autonomous individual.

What was the motivation in early Against Me! for the two-piece line-up? Was it out of necessity (lack of other musicians) or was it more deliberate?

I started playing under the name as a solo project. I had no intention of making a proper band out of it. I was playing in other bands at the time. Eventually those bands broke up and Against Me! became my main focus. I wanted drums. It’s more fun to play music with other people.

How does the term folk punk sit with you?

It makes no difference to me.

If you weren’t touring and working with Against Me! what would you be doing?

I’d be playing in some other band. This is what I want to do with my life. There’s no back-up plan.

See the dates and supports for Against Me!’s upcoming May Australian tour here.

Band: Anchor
Album: The Singles Collected
Label: State Of Mind Recordings
Best songs: Far Above, In the Throes of Passion, Atlantis
For fans of: Refused, Trial, Carpathian
Rating: 7.5/10

Album art

Anchor is name that is synonymous with heavy, intense metallic hardcore, and also a name that is not heard often enough on our sunny shores. The band hail from Sweden, forming in 2007 and featuring former members of Damage Control and Set My Path. Anchor are famous for their work ethic, touring nearly constantly to spread their brand of straight-edge, vegan hardcore across the globe. On an Anchor release you aren’t going to hear standard lyrics about sticking together with your mates or other generic slop, this is a band that is politically active and has something to say. One of the best parts on the record is on the first song, Atlantis, hearing frontman Claes stating, almost spoken word “there is no solace in hating the world, and there is no redemption in repeating what’s old.”

The album title is somewhat misleading, as rather than a collection of singles, the album is three releases (a split and two EPs) included in their entirety. The first four tracks are taken from the Relations of Violence EP, track five and six are culled from The Kind That Kills split, and the last five songs are from the Captivity Songs EP. The album is available in vinyl format, coming in limited pressings of red, black and blue. The release also includes a digital download coupon.

There are moments on this record that don’t sound too far off from the direction Carpathian have taken with their recent material, with distortion soaked melodies coalescing over one another and a relentlessly grim vibe throbbing out of the speakers. Anchor take a somewhat more metallic approach than our local favourites (who toured across Europe with Anchor in 2009) with some riffs on this release no doubt taken from the old-school metal book of rules. Check out the mid-section of Far Above for one of the most slamming riffs ever laid to tape. Expect plenty of chugging down-picking and fast thrashy verses mixed in with droning, doomy sections. The vocals are mostly comprised of throat shredding shouts and barks, but Claes keeps things varied enough that his harsh vocals are never grating or repetitive, and his lyrics and intensity of delivery make him stand out among other frontmen.

With compilation releases there is always the question of the motivation of the release, whether it is merely a record company cash-in. This album I believe is an exception, given the release is comprised of material that may be out-of-stock or hard to find. The songs off the Relations Of Violence EP and Captivity Songs generally outshine the songs off The Kind That Kills split, largely because of the muffled production on the songs featured from the split. The production is raw, but doesn’t detract from the experience otherwise, and the album flows together nicely despite being a compilation. If you want the consistent sound of an album, look up The Quiet Dance, Anchor’s excellent 2008 release. If there are any complaints to be made, it’s that The Singles Collected features absolutely no new material, live tracks etc., so if you have already acquired all of Anchor’s releases there will be nothing for you here.

Frontman Claus live

If you are a stranger to Anchor’s savage, metallic hardcore, then this is a good place to start. Even if you are familiar with the band, this could interest you as it includes tracks from several hard to find releases. It includes a good cross section of Anchor’s sound, spanning from fast, in-your-face punk, to droning ambience, through to heavy metal riffery. There is enough melody, albiet heavily distorted, running throughout to prove Anchor is far more than just pure aggression. All in all a great hardcore record, only slightly marred by the differences in production on the three releases showcased on this compilation.

1. Atlantis (Relations Of Violence EP)
2. Walls (Relations Of Violence EP)
3. Violence (Relations Of Violence EP)
4. Vanity (Relations Of Violence EP)
5. Vengeance (The Kind That Kills/ Anchor split)
6. Hamnd (The Kind That Kills/ Anchor split)
7. It Kills You To Know (Captivity Songs)
8. In The Throes Of Passion (Captivity Songs)
9. Far Above (Captivity Songs)
10. Captivity (Captivity Songs)
11. Beyond Reason And Logic (Captivity Songs)

Band: Defeater
Album: Empty Days and Sleepless Nights
Label: Bridge Nine
Best songs: White Oak Doors, Headstone, Quiet The Longing
For fans of: Have Heart, Verse, new Carpathian
Rating: 8.5/10

Album art

Massachusetts melodic hardcore band Defeater are back with their second album, and it’s a big step up from their first. It reminds me of the change Have Heart made from their first full length to their second – more mature, more melodic, slower tempos but no less ferocious in intent. It is a change that was preempted by the lone acoustic track on their debut, and the slower droning tracks on their recent EP, Lost Ground. There are even riffs and leads on this Empty Days that wouldn’t be out of place on a post-hardcore record, although the relentless bleakness and Derek Archambault’s gravel throated vocals remind you that this is definitely hardcore.

Defeater have given us a double album, split into Empty Days, the heavier, more traditional songs, and Sleepless Nights, the acoustic numbers. The album is also written to a concept, namely a post-WWII tale, tracking the woes of a pair of brothers raised in hard times. The storyline runs on from their debut album, Travels, which followed the youngest brother, with Empty Days following the elder brother in his parallel journey.

Frontman David Archambault live

The acoustic tracks are amazing. The best way to describe them is a cross between the morose simplicity of Brand New and the brutal honest of early Against Me!. The subject matter includes broken homes, break-ups and the death of a loved one. The lyrics may be woven into a storyline, but Archambault doesn’t sound like he’s acting, and the songs are confrontingly personal to listen to. Releasing acoustic songs on a hardcore album is pretty left of field, and easily could have come off as overly sappy or out-of-place, yet they fit right it, with the storyline and overwhelming bleakness tying them in with the heavier songs. Archambault is quite a talent, holding a convincing ballad as well as belting out more traditional hardcore vocals, and the acoustic songs really bring his amazing storytelling and lyrics to the fore.

The musicianship is flawless, with tight, energetic drumming and searing, melancholy guitars running throughout the release. The riffs are in-your-face at times, yet it’s clear the star of this album is melody, with the album slowing down to minimalist dirges frequently, overlaid with dark melodies, before coming back with another huge riff. The album is backed by guitarist Jay Maas’ production, which is raw yet relatively clear. I’ve heard better produced albums before, at times the guitar layers could have been given more definition. That said, the production is completely appropriate for the content, it’s not like melodic hardcore needs to be pro-tooled to death.

If there’s any downside to the album, it’s that there are few standout moments. It’s more something to put on in the background, and let the darkness wash over you, almost like a Isis record in this respect, you won’t find yourself repeating a certain song over and over because most of the songs contain the same elements. A possible exception is the acoustic side, because each song is written to a clear personal tale, one or more of which you may connect with, but still, the acoustic songs, lyrics aside, are quite similiar to one another also.

Defeater have created a rock solid hardcore album with this release, and made big steps from their already impressive earlier releases. This is a band to watch, on their second album they have created an enduring piece of work, with amazing melodies, personal, affecting lyrics and a strong sense of passion and desperation running throughout. The acoustic side creates a point of difference and mixes surprisingly well with the heavier songs. If you like thinking man’s melodic hardcore with a cohesive sound and concept, check out Defeater’s latest work, you won’t be disappointed.

1. Warm Blood Rush
2. Dear Father
3. Waves Crash, Clouds Roll
4. Empty Glass
5. No Kind Of Home
6. White Knuckles
7. Cemetery Walls
8. Quiet the Longing
9. At Peace
10. White Oak Doors
11. But Breathing
12. Brothers
13. I Don’t Mind
14. Headstone