The Lost Skulls

What would you do if you found a lost skull? I guess circumstances would entirely depends on how you came across it. Excavated out of a centuries old archaeological dig? Into the museum you go. Playing video games? Keep it in your back pocket or shoot at it if it attacks you a la Doom. Wanting to give your home a creepy but distinguished look? Damien Hurst would like a word, probably for copyright reasons. Falling out of decomposing bodies because they’ve had their flesh melted clean off from overexposure to ass-kicking hard rock powerhouses? This one’s a little less likely, but it may possibly explain how Quebec’s rowdy five-piece came to be, the psychokinetic energy of a shockingly heavy hard rock band imbued into reanimating their bodies into the formidable band they became. Became because they broke up last year, either from waning energy to fuel their spirits, leaving their bodies to rest or too great an energy, they decided to divide and conquer. Whichever story suits you best really.The discerning fact is this however, The Lost Skulls have an attitude and a remarkably heavy tone that is lacking in a lot of hard rock outfits nowadays. They play hard and fast in the manner of a volcanic eruption, molten rocks showering and slamming anything in their path into dust from a beefy dual guitar gauntlet. The size of the earth-rattling bass and drums underneath only exacerbates the furious temperament further, keeping that intensity and that fire from the skies coming continuously. Plus, who doesn’t have a little time to trash talk while pandemonium is unfolding beneath them? The title track of their Dirty Nasty R’N’R EP certainly does all of the above and more, taking on all competition while hurling magma in every conceivable direction with the force of being hit by a high-performance sports car. While only lasting in their original forms for three years before spreading their scorching wings to plains new, the potential seen here is staggering enough to be unearthed a few years from now, and be displayed on its own merits as a frighteningly fearsome treasure for those who wish to seek it. The Lost Skulls may now actually be lost as a band, but their spirits still indeed live on in their music, past, present and future whatever may come.

Dirty Nasty R’N’R is sadly what seems to be the only recorded output available from The Lost Skulls, but they very kindly have the EP as a free download on their Bandcamp page, or you can also kindly pay for it if you so wish too.

The Hex

Witchcraft, or at least modern witchcraft tends to be more of a spiritual sensation, the roots of it lying in earth medicines and botany, as opposed to having supernatural powers. Well, at least the real life incarnation of it was. The amount of flying women on broomsticks at least proven outside of Harry Potter I believe lies at exactly zero. If anybody has or can, then I apologise and kudos to you. The practice of cursing or hexing somebody however does still exist and can be more predominant in folk communities and shamanistic societies. What that actually means depends entirely on your definition of faith and whether you choose to believe in such practices. Personally, a hex I’d certainly choose to believe in if staring face-to-face with it, would be that of self-proclaimed arctic hardcore delinquents The Hex. Emerging from Trondheim, Norway, The Hex are a sextet billowing with the ferocity of the post-hardcore crowd, so hard in cases you can hear the dead soul of At The Drive-In gushing from their vocalist. That’s no backhanded compliment, The Hex are a formidable cavalcade of riffs, vigour and tight melodies that you can bathe in as much as be beaten to death by it. The addition of an extra percussionist, who serves as a synth player also adds a richer flavour into the mix of the riotous, buccaneering guitar piledriver, especially with the extra toms during breakdowns and shakers fleshing out the sound. This Is How Razors Dance¬†(Rage United) from fittingly-titled 2013 album Bringing Guns To A Knife Fight is actually far more progressive and turbulent than you anticipate, opening with an all bets off bare knuckle fist-fight, that builds towards a surprisingly emotionally intense climax, similar of that to a bullfight. The altitude of energy spent never really dips as there’s always something constantly keeping the blood pumping in the collective heartbeat. While The Hex are lacking in the spiritual realm that they birth their name from, there’s a whole lot more made up for to be feared yet impressed by. Compiling the yelling that could tear neck muscles, intricate yet punishing guitars, bone-shaking bass and percussion with a cavern-like depth of ability and wonder, The Hex are not so much a spell, but a force of nature that has very little hope of being stopped once momentum is in its favour.

The Hex’s two albums, Bringing Guns To A Knife Fight and 2009’s Tyrannosaurus Hex can be bought from The Hex’s webstore, or from most respectable music retailers. Trust me, they’re there. Word also is they’re working on a new studio album right now, so any money towards that can only help right?

Roadkill Soda

For the record, I have absolutely no idea what Roadkill Soda what tastes like. It’s probably more so a job best left for apocalyptic sci-fi writers or Bethesda, developers of the Fallout video game franchise honestly. But if I had to put money on it, I’d wager it doesn’t taste like a psychedelic hard rock outfit from Bucharest, Romania. Luckily for them, they don’t sound like the carcass of a roadside mammal being forced into a smoothie too. Their music has a real grit, like two tonnes of sand-scattered asphalt level grit, but because they are able to stray into fuzzy guitar experimentalism that the 60’s popularised, their combined musical vehicle rides as smooth as the surface it drives on. Fitting then that their first studio album Oven Sun recollects the sunshine-emblazoned stretches of road, that a top down motor built for speed and a carefully masterminded mixtape were made for. Towards the album’s close is Upside Down, which sounds not to dissimilar in nature to pushing the plunger on dynamite in a canyon: dangerous and staggeringly loud, but ultimately satisfying and incredibly thrilling to witness all the same. The cavalcade of riffs and grooves that these gentlemen are capable of, not just in the period of a song, but in the timescale of a studio long-player, is undoubtedly their greatest strength and it is only set to expand and evolve into their sophomore release, out earlier this year. There’s a lot to enjoy here, a well-blended mix of hard rock hammer blows, softened by a relaxing approach to their craft that makes it all the more appropriate for the last sunsets of summer. Roadkill Soda? Sure, I’ll take two if it tastes this good.

Oven Sun is available from their Bandcamp page for a respectable price, and follow up Yo No Hablo Ingles is available from select music retailers.

Mexican Chili Funeral Party

Some band names just sound like a really busy evening, not to mention a boat load of fun. Some confusion would rest on whether it’s a person we’re mourning with chilli or we’re mourning the chilli itself. Musically though, you may think this could be a mariachi death metal band judging on name alone and cool as that would be, it’s not close. The reality is Mexican Chili Funeral Party are one, of many, many excellent bands from Italy’s esteemed network of fantastic stoner and hard rock outfits. At times channelling the spirit of Kyuss, as do many bands of the same ilk, there’s a decidedly grungier tone to their work, even so far as putting fingertips in doom territory but stay integral to the original blues influences. Released at the very beginning of last year, the self-titled album is a rollercoaster of a ride featuring head charges, well constructed grooves, some spiritual sounding slower burners and even what sounds like a primal summoning, perhaps one of the more menacing psychedelic tracks around right now in Black Flower. Yet our focus lies in Ijavha, the best example of Queens of The Stone Age shining through in their work, featuring the same well-documented passion lathered into vocals and a certain danger that could signal pistols at dawn, instrumentally powerful enough to kick like a .45 too. Mexican Chili Funeral Party have what it takes to stand toe-to-toe with the biggest and greatest names in the scene today. They know their history, but add squeezes of their own zest that bring an invigorating take on the genre. And that’s something well worth buying into¬†with a side of chilli fries.

Their debut album can only be found on their Bandcamp page, but on a pay-what you-want basis. These guys work hard so please give what you can.

Arms & The Man

Regardless of what you think of hardcore nowadays, it seems needless to say that it’s all rather angry and violent. So when you have bands that take a lighter approach, yet still maintain that exceptional intensity and that unwavering devotion and passion to the craft, it deserves the same spotlight as any other hardcore band before and after. Hitchin’s Arms & The Man, are very much in that bracket. While their repetoire boasted a blazing array of bruising hardcore throwdowns, with an impressive hard rock flair and showmanship, their lyrics, well tales, are far more tongue-in-cheek. I’ll openly admit, at a local music festival I attended around five years ago, one of my fondest memories of that festival was this five piece screaming the immortal words, ‘I punched a wolf in the face, mate.’ Four, five years later, that glorious phrase from signature track Wolfpuncher has emerged in recorded format for the world to hear. Hi-jinx aside, these guys were the real deal. Unflinching, uncompromising, and all with a grin in tow, Arms & The Man serves as a reminder that no matter how seriously you take pride in your work, you gotta step back and laugh sometimes.

Sad fact: These gentlemen split up on my birthday this year, 26th February. Your punching of wolves in the face lives on in my heart. For this song, and occasionally as silly song titles, head on over to their Bandcamp, where you can purchase a couple of EPs and singles they’ve released over the years.