By: Nick Manduley
New Jersey punk outfit Pheller independently released their latest EP, No Blood, on July 27th. Diving into the 6-track effort is “The Ballad of Bobby Briggs,” which starts with some crunchy palm-muted guitars backing guitarist Matthew Piserchio’s passionately punk vocals. The track has a lot of energy; the pounding drums, dirty guitars, and larger-than-life melodies had me thinking “Alright, this EP is about to melt my face off.”
To my surprise, however, “Bobby Briggs” is followed up by the somber and rather mid-tempo track “Down.” Though it wasn’t the continuity I was expecting, the track won me over with its cheeky lyricism: “You watched my fall from grace / Just as the floor met my face.” This track features an acoustic guitar which, in my opinion, really rounds out the song, especially when that heavy chorus kicks in. “Down” is an almost anthemic tune, good for anyone who feels they “can’t seem to catch a break.”
The release pushes forward with “Vlog #2 Soaked on Splash Mountain,” which re-captures some of that initial momentum that was set by “The Ballad of Bobby Briggs.” This song feels like a party; the soaring harmonies and and catchy guitar riffs will have the listener hooked, and just like any good party, it flies right by. The song is a brief 2 minutes, and leaves the listener feeling like it ended almost as soon as it started. Luckily, this isn’t a party, it’s a song, and I can simply play it over and over again.
The album charges into its second half with “The Bottom” and “Dual Suns.” There is a lot of duality between these tracks, but I think they just might be my favorites from No Blood. “The Bottom” is an explosive, upbeat track, guaranteed to open up a push pit in your DIY basement venue. “Dual Suns” chases it with a 6/8 tempo and a catchy chorus to boot. As Piserchio belts “What’s the point anyway? Everything changes,” against that monstrous chord progression and spacey lead guitar, it’s clear that this track is the emotional powerhouse on No Blood. The album draws to a close with “Wounds,” which acts as one last upbeat, power-punk hoorah. Guitarist Nigel Pierson along with Piserchio offer some great lead guitar work; Corey Granese provides some soul-pounding unclean vocals as well.
No Blood is currently available on all major streaming platforms. Fans can download it for the “name-your-price” option on the Pheller bandcamp page.
By: Nick Manduley
With the progressive post-hardcore genre flowering into a vibrant online community over recent years, the interwebs have become flooded with wildly talented bands influenced by iconic progressive, math-rock, and alternative acts new and old; these acts include but are in no way limited to Yes, The Fall Of Troy, Thrice, Dance Gavin Dance, and so many more. Northern California experimental post-hardcore outfit Enso Anima put out a record in 2018 called Instability that not only draws on that type of influence, but also dips ventures into the realm of blues rock and the wide spectrum that is emo.
I’m not entirely sure what to call this release; it clocks in at a whopping 40 minutes, which one could argue is too long to constitute as an EP. At the same time, however, there are only 6 songs on the record. We could spend all day going back and forth about whether or not this release is an EP or LP, but it wouldn’t change the fact Instability is a must-have for anyone finding themselves getting into progressive post-hardcore.
Lead vocals are handled by drummer Nick Creary-Scher and rhythm guitarist Whitney Schuster. Together, their vocal performance helps to cultivate a melodic and, at times, aggressive atmosphere on Instability. From the haunting spoken word sections in tracks like “Cold in Atlantis” and “First Flight,” to the aggressive borderline-screaming and bone-chilling harmonies on the bluesy behemoth “Steam,” it’s clear that Enso Anima isn’t holding anything back in their latest release. Lead guitar and keyboards are provided by Shane Ward, who along with Schuster, paint each track with their musical prowess; if you’re somebody who appreciates quality guitar playing, you need this record. There is no shortage of spacey delay-laden tapping sections, screaming solos, or face-melting prog riffage on Instability. Tyler Francis is the bassist any band would be lucky to have in their lineup; his performance on tracks like “Cable Cars” and “Atlantis” are extremely tight and are in no way short on fills. It sounds like he truly feels his basslines rather than simply play them.
Though the band has yet to formally announce any new material, nor do they currently have any shows book for the end of 2019, I eagerly await to see what they have in store for us at the turn of the decade. Until then, Instability is available on all major streaming platforms. If you’d like to help support Enso Anima through their future musical endeavors, I highly recommend subscribing to the band on Patreon.
By: Nick Manduley
Pennsylvania math-rockers Good Game’s latest release, Good Luck Have Fun, is a soundscape of inventive musicianship, melodic vocals, and haunting harmonies. The three-track EP starts promptly with the explosive track “Supercollider? I Just Met Her.” The listener is immediately bombarded by beastly clean-toned guitar riffage, chase by vocalist Addy Harris belting out unapologetic lines about the “heteronormative sleep-paralysis induced American Dream.” The track then gives away to a cacophony of guitar tapping as the drums begin to break and Harris paints the mix with her soaring harmonies.
Good Luck pushes forward with the track “Rat City” which starts with some fun syncopated clapping as Harris and guitarist Brock Benzel sing the oh-so-catchy chorus. The track then bursts into a full band arrangement. There is absolutely something to be said about the musicianship here; these songs are as busy as they are executed with deadly precision and feeling. Guitarists Nate Sherman and Brock Benzel demonstrate their musical prowess quite effectively; bassist Chance Wells and drummer Dan Getty hold down an absolutely air-tight rhythm section.
The EP ends with the mid-tempo jam “First Snow.” This track is easily a go-to for a breezy autumn afternoon spent on your porch wearing your favorite hoodie, sipping on your hot beverage of choice. As the winter months creep over the horizon, I’ll definitely want to have this song in my Apple Music queue when my roommate and I are making the first snowman of the season. While the track remains consistent in tempo, the band changes the dynamic at several points, varying in levels of volume and intensity, while also giving way to calmer, more atmospheric sections.
Good Luck Have Fun dropped in March of 2018 and the band has not teased much new music, outside of a playthrough video of some new material which was posted to the band’s Facebook page last November. I eagerly wait to see what Good Game has in store for the world next. In the meantime, Good Luck Have Fun is available on all major streaming platforms and is available for free download on the Good Game bandcamp page. Fans who download the EP get these three tracks as well as instrumental versions for anyone who wants to learn these amazing pieces. The band has a tab book available for purchase on their bandcamp site, which contains tablature for every song off Good Luck Have Fun and their July 2017 release Don’t Blow It.
By: Nick Manduley
Emo math rockers Origami Angel released their latest EP Gen 3 at the end of May. The two-piece from the greater Washington, D.C. area packed their newest release to the brim with twinkly guitar riffs, indie pop hooks, vicious drumming, and cheeky pop culture references. Though Gen 3 is only a brief four tracks in length, there is not a single dull moment on the release.
“Ruby” starts infectiously with a memorable vocal hook that builds into an avalanche of upbeat drums and twinkling guitar riffs that weaves seamlessly through guitarist and vocalist Rylan Heagy’s melodic vocal sections. “Sapphire” is an unapologetically fun track which offers some memorably cheeky lyrics; if you find yourself at a basement show and hear kids shouting “I know you more than I know anything about Pokemon, or Star Trek, or Twin Peaks, or even Rocket League” then you just might be at an Origami Angel gig.
From the first second, “Emerald” is easily the emo punk powerhouse on this EP. It comes right out of the gate with an infectious guitar riff that’s bound to get crowds moving. The dance beats and math rock riffs on this track easily make the song into party fuel (as if the whole EP wasn’t party fuel to begin with; the album cover itself is a hilarious parody of a Pokemon video game cover). Drummer Pat Doherty brings the heat on the funky closing track “XD Gale of Darkness” as Heagy spits those fast-paced verses. “XD” takes a very a heavy shift as the drums begin to almost pulsate behind Heagy’s screams before the track descends into an aggressive beatdown, effectively ending the EP with a bang.
Gen 3 is available on all major streaming services. Fans will be able to catch the band in Fallston, Maryland at the DIY venue Grateful Acres. The venue address can be found by direct messaging @smmyhck on Instagram. They will be sharing the stage with other up-and-coming artists such as Sammy Heck, Monster Bad, Jack M. Senff, Bad Heaven, and Morning Dew.
By: Nick Manduley
Soul, rage, rock; these adjectives only scratch the surface of the black feminist powerhouse that is Seattle’s Bearaxe. The four-piece punk act blends progressive rock roots with the raw, emotive stylings of soul. Vocalist Shaina Shepherd delivers a mind-blowing vocal performance on their debut EP Last Call, fusing her biting soul voice with explosive jazz and funk influenced proto-punk.
On Last Call, the band doesn’t beat around the bush for one second; the opening track ‘Buy You’ immediately graces the listener’s ears with a devilishly nasty guitar riff courtesy of guitarist Matt Williams. Shepherd enters the mix with a maniacal laugh as the track explodes into an unstoppable full-band freight train of sound, bound to have the dancefloors of rock clubs everywhere shaking with vigor. Shepherd’s seamless vocal belts give way to her zero-bullshit message to the proverbial ‘gentleman-with-the-crew-cut-in-the-back-of-the-class’: “you don’t own me!”
‘Uber’ is the next the track up to bat, and opens with bassist Jon Lemmon delivering a percussive yet soulful bassline, accompanied by Shepherd’s powerful vocals. As the band enters the track full-swing, Williams and Shepherd go almost back and forth with vocals and guitar. Shepherd sings a line, and Williams replies to her with a positively scrumptious guitar lick. ‘Ready or Not’ pushes the release forward with an angry, upbeat rock progression. Shepherd doesn’t hold back on the high notes, proving once more the strength of her vocal prowess. It’s clear that ‘Ready or Not’ is one of the band’s magic hat tricks to get any crowd to maximum levels of hype.
‘Brown Liquor’ keeps up the pace set by ‘Ready or Not’ with crushing mid-tempo riffage and fat bass lines. Posing itself as a hard rock tune reminiscent of the classics, ‘Brown Liquor’ is easily fan favorite. The next track, ‘Undertow’, opens with a sweet bassline before Williams joins in with some clean-toned guitar noodling, with Shepherd giving a soulful and perhaps more pop influenced vocal melody. The laid-back vibe on this track rounds out the band’s sound, and gives an excellent dynamic to Last Call. The closing track ‘For the Kill’ is an aggressive, funkalicious mid-tempo track with excellent guitar work reminiscent of Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello. For one last time, Shepherd graces us with her powerful high notes before the song shifts to a more upbeat feel, solidifying the EP as an album that goes out the same way it came in: with a bang.
Last Call is now available on all major streaming platforms. Fans can catch the band performing these epic numbers live on September 21st at the Vessel Taphouse in Lynwood, WA, and then again on September 29th at The Sunset in Seattle.
By: Nick Manduley
New Jersey hardcore band Kong are aiming to release a new EP this winter according to guitarist Alex Peragine. The release will feature four new brutal tracks as well as re-recordings of two previously released tracks, and expand on the band’s experimental approach to modern hardcore music. The band was kind enough to provide Muddy Paw with a two-track preview of the new release; fans should expect an onslaught of noisey, aggressive guitar riffs, soul-crushing breakdowns, and a monstrous vocal performance from frontman Anthony “Pigeon” Izworski. One new track, menacingly called “Behemoth” ends with a simply horrifying, noise-ladened breakdown that can only be accurately described as the unholy shriek of some other-dimensional beast.
Kong released a demo entitled Demonstration of Strength in the fall of 2018. The release showcases the band’s dynamic sound with two songs that greatly contrast with one another. Drawing from the influence of bands like Code Orange, Jesus Piece, Full of Hell and Vein, the band delivers a devastating production that pushes the boundaries of metal and hardcore, while also blending sounds and styles from a variety of metal subgenres. The opening track “Fury” is an avalanche of slow to mid-tempo riffs building to crushing breakdown featuring guest vocalist Kaonashi. The title track of this demo is a cohesive blend of death metal and classic hardcore with a modern spin.
The band is currently hard at work in the studio working on their new release. While the band is unlikely to announce any show dates this fall, fans can still expect a late 2019/early 2020 release date for the new EP.
Toronto’s Bovine Sex Club is hosting Return For Refund’s EP release show tomorrow night! Want to get in on the action? Head over to InfectiousMag tomorrow to watch as the band takes over the site in support of ‘Lift You Up‘.