Track of the Week: You Win Again Gravity – Seamless

On February 4, 2001 (though broadcasting events 1,000 years in the future), Commander Zapp Branningan of the starship Nimbus suggests piloting Le Palm d’Orbit, a floating restaurant in space that was evacuated moments before as a result of a disastrous karaoke session. Though believing he can commandeer any vessel built, he shortly crashes the restaurant afterwards onto a nearby planet. In the ensuing descent, he curses, ‘You win again, gravity!’ right as the restaurant enters the planet’s atmosphere. Stay with me here. On Halloween the following year, five young gentlemen from Ontario released their self-titled debut album, proclaiming their sound to be ‘Catholic girls in the middle of a knife fight.’ They went on to become one of the most influential voices in post-hardcore and are still often referred to as The Only Band Ever, despite uncertainty surrounding whether they will make new music together. Still following? Fast forward four years to Halloween of 2006, and Meshuggah re-release Nothing, completely remastered and re-recorded with 8-string guitars, of which its all-conquering polyrhythmic riff stagger and use of then recent technical innovations, arguably became the catalyst for the tech metal explosion towards the close of the decade. Understanding the link between a Futurama quote, Alexisonfire, and the advent of tech metal, is crucial to the raison d’être of these five gentlemen from Windsor, who share the same name of the aforementioned quote. And if the cohesion of sublime melodic hardcore and infallible metallic groove is anything to go by, then You Win Again Gravity are absolutely a band you need to be excited about.

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Though happily being a presence on the UK live scene for a number of years, their work rate suddenly amped up with 2016’s three track EP What’s Left Of The Distance, which lends its laser-focused trio of punchy, nautically deep, progressive hardcore hits to the much larger Anonymity released late last year. Seamless is among the latest of the band’s studio output, refining their already killer formula, while lending more volume to some of their broader influences. First filtered through lo-fi radio, Seamless’ core hook broadcasts to the listener, drawing on those tech-metal leanings of theirs and playing a technically simple but astonishingly addictive pattern of notes that requires extra thick bleach to scrub free from. Not to mention a drum performance that is certainly a technical marvel. Bursting through into full stereo moments later, the third guitar produces a more ambient overtone that gracefully blankets atop an already captivating opening sequence and quite frankly, they could’ve still made as stellar a song staying within these boundaries. Yet the progressive dynamic of You Win Again Gravity turns everything they touch into an immersive musical narrative. That triumphant tone mellows, giving all guitars an ambient piece to play, and room for Jack Jennings’ entrancing vocal talents to perform poetry, on the everyday pantomime that is life and trying to find the one. Cleverly and carefully placed too, are soothing secondary vocal harmonies with Jack’s own melodic delivery that although subtle in execution, accentuate so much more passion and nuance in the meanings of every word. The chorus soon storms in, unifying all instruments in a steady headbang, complete with gang shouts and volatile potential to create chaos in a larger live environment, given the breathing space. Call it a breakdown if you will. In the truest of rollercoaster fashions, the mood continues to switch between a calming recital and a tidal wave of emotion, verging on fury at points, setting up for a far greater instrumental pummeling near the climax. Time signatures are thrown around with reckless abandon and vocals once harmonious, become hair-raising growls seemingly fuelled by bitter contempt, the combination of which comes off as the musical equivalent of a descent into madness. The bombardment of riffs comes to a crawl, tension soaring like invigorating light dispelling all previous negativity, and we find ourselves back at the opening sequence, as if it were all a lingering thought in our imaginations.

Make no mistake, You Win Again Gravity are a thinking man’s hardcore unit, but their finesse and songwriting ability are phenomenal, so much so that listener experience is mandatory to even grasp at how talented these guys are. Anonymity will get them on the track to success at last, as no doubt what else they have to offer the UK hardcore and metal scenes remains just as exciting a prospect. After all, they still have yet to release a full-length album, but in their wealth of EPs, lies one of the UK’s best unsigned bands hands down.

I once wrote a lot shorter exposé on these fine gentlemen if you want a TL;DR version of You Win Again Gravity. It might actually be better than this piece. Might. Anyway, I must insist you watch the video of Seamless, as it may be the funniest music video produced in years. They have all their material on Bandcamp, as well as all respectable music retailers, and they’re even on the bill of UK Tech Metal Fest this year, fancy that.

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The Schoenberg Automaton

All through out the mainstream, backstage, behind curtains and face-to-face, musicians take risks for their art. Risk is something at the very fabric of our being, a primal fear or instinct that can separate us from doing something good, and doing something great. Musicians are far too familiar with this concept. Some of the most famous and infamous moments in music history were all made on taking a risk. Bob Dylan’s switch to electric guitar attracted the ire of the folk community, but it did nothing to dent his legacy as most of the most acclaimed songwriters in music history. Iggy Pop, despite being great friends, rejecting David Bowie’s production of Raw Power in favour of his own and becoming one of the great rock albums of all time. In a reversal of fortune, Capitol Records wanted more airplay from Megadeth in 1999 and the band released the critically divisive and experimental album titled Risk, often considered to be the band’s worst work and could have even ended their careers. So where do The Schoenberg Automaton fit onto this scale of risk? Well, artists and musicians are often known to relocate to places where they feel their creativity can best thrive. But how many of them move to the other side of the planet? Relocating from Australia, one of the global hotspots for deathcore right now, the band opted to take their monstrous tech-death juggernaut and establish themselves in Canada, a land known in underground circles for its outstanding death metal exports. No matter what walk of life you come from, a career and life decision that gigantic is gutsy. And that’s a word that sums up The Schoenberg Automaton’s output perfectly. Gutsy, driven and unflinching in the pursuit of your passion.

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Second studio album Apus certainly seems to have benefited from the change of scenery, as the maturity and confidence has certainly grown in the years of development between Apus and debut album Vela. But it continues the same plotline from the end of Vela, exploring philosophical and science fiction themes as the ground concepts of the band’s storytelling and lyrical content. That story is woven into the fabric of an expansive death metal powerhouse with a dizzying amount of shifts in tempos and time signatures, performed with the heaviness and ferocity of a butcher in open-heart surgery. The universe that The Schoenberg Automaton have crafted is one of surprising atmosphere given the carnage they themselves create, but an enthralling one as Apus progresses and from the outset, it is opening track Swarm that is the greatest footnote to this revelation. Though Year Zero paints the scene, the first few chords of Swarm set up a metal rampage for the ages, drums below generating energy with swift beatings and fills to transfer into a frenzied full frontal assault. Double kicks rain down furiously, while the punishing, distorted blades of guitar rev up the engine, strum by unrelenting strum and deep, petrifying growls set the tone and the journey’s course. As statements of intent go, it certainly leaves very little to imagination as a tremendous display of fortitude and showmanship. Melodic wails spill from the guitar following a guttural, primal howl just as drums enter a sugar rush of tempo clashes and meter shifts, peeling the veil off just a mere fraction of the band’s technical ability. A brief, bone-shattering breakdown even gets squeezed into the action. But a lot of the chaos is dictated by guitars and drums going mano a mano, matching pace and intricacy by every individual note and beat running parallel one another, spawning harmonies and melodies to stir heightened emotions in their listeners. Much as the sight or experience of a swarm should feel. A delicate symphonic undertone is subtly introduced into the final minute, amongst the full effect of the metal barrage that is only in its first full-length track, which grows in grandiose as Swarm closes out, making the transition into what is to follow all the more satisfying. Though a balancing act of extremes could be said of Apus, given the unbridled aggression of chords and the complex, but emotive layering of their guitar work, a hyperactive level of drum technique and the frankly terrifying growls that tell the tale, it does nothing to detract from the spectacle of one of the most courageous and fascinating metal bands around today. An album worthy of both Canada and Australia’s death metal lineage.

Apus is out now at all respectable music retailers now in physical and digital formats. The band’s previous two releases Vela and their self-titled EP, are available on their Bandcamp for a reasonable fee as well as T-shirts and the likes via their webstore. They are actively touring, having just finished their first headline tour of the UK, but if you wanna see them at a venue near you, hit them up. You won’t regret it. They’ve just releases a brand new video for Vengeance too which you can find here.

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Adimiron

Now people I imagine are familiar with the concept of supergroups. A band put together from existing members of other established bands to make musical output. Some famous examples of this being Led Zeppelin, Audioslave, Velvet Revolver, Roadrunner United and more recently Teenage Time Killers, the latter two bands being examples of super collectives more than super groups. But I wonder if metal bands have ever considered the scenario of being drafted into a fantasy band league, people putting their two cents in to craft the best or a totally unique band based on the calibre of the musicians chosen. Obviously it would personally be far more interesting for a league like that over say a football one, but that comes with the consequences of being a music fanatic. Adimiron to me, leap out as a result of if that fantasy metal league were to exist. Combining the courageous, but venomous roars of Machine Head, the brutal simplicity of Meshuggah’s riff onslaught and the phenomenal technicality and precision of Gojira’s sticksman, the five gentlemen from Rome specialise in a titanic and constantly evolving exercise in maximum blunt force trauma. It would go without saying that their comparisons and influences mean their music carries substantial weight behind it and boy is it heavyweight. We’re talking collapsing tower block levels of heavyweight. Having held the honour of supporting of some of their heroes only adds to their legitimacy of being an all-opposing and all-conquering demolition crew of a band. The release of last year’s Timelapse has seen them take their punishing tech-metal avalanche to a new level, gathering critical acclaim from more than several luminaries of the metal press. The instrumental force of which they strike down upon is earth-shattering and rightfully applauded with glowing words and praise. State Of Persistence, the personal highlight of the nine bone-crushing pieces Timelapse holds, showcases the very best of that musical fusion discussed earlier. Matching note for hit, the opening is a gigantic sledgehammer of guitars and drums in unison already raining hard, also teasing a little of that time signature madness later to come. Then the utterly terrifying roars burst through the gates, to the battering of double kicks and a merciless barrage of riffs, completing the wolfpack and letting chaos loose. That wolf metaphor is no joke, as the time signature, on this song alone is torn and pulled apart like a piece of meat, constantly shifting with whatever pulverising metallic force comes next. You get a fantastic vocal showing too, between some incredibly powerful growls and soaring clean bellows, not to mention the clash of light and darkness in a Thordendal-esque ambient solo against the backdrop of the other mighty guitar hammerfall. No doubt it, these guys definitely deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Meshuggah and Gojira. Adimiron are well within the top echelon of the thinking man’s metal warlords, and Timelapse is an exclamation point, executed with excellence that should mark a meteoric shift in their sphere of influence.

There are at least two other studio albums of theirs around, for now Timelapse and 2011’s K2 as well as a limited edition single can be bought from their Bandcamp page, but When Reality Wakes Up and Burning Souls can be bought from most respectable music retailers.

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Destrage

When it comes to someone with the passion to actively seek out what music the world truly has to offer you, you come across many a colourful band every now and again. None seem to proving that theory any more right than roaming the rich plains of Europe’s metal scene. For every cookie-cutter metal or deathcore band out there, a weird and wonderful troupe dares to take metal and collide it with whatever exotic fruits they have to hand. Norway’s Shining are literal jazz metal and a sublime band. Sweden’s Diablo Swing Orchestra are an opera and big-band recital with electric guitars, and heavy at that. Greece’s Septicflesh are cinematic masters of scoring civilisations with a incredible string section and choir, against the backdrop of death metal. There are plenty of bands out there, like ores in the Earth’s rich crust awaiting their excavation. Then we come to Italy’s Destrage, for the most part an extremely tight tech metal quintet, but with the personality of a hyper scientist given a brand new chemistry set. They’ll take as may different components from the base materials and make it combustible in ways we could scarcely imagine. A twin-pronged guitar juggernaut, one prong more ferocious, the other more surgical, but equally as dangerous, form the brunt of their siege to their senses. But whether they rain metal hellfire, pummel with hardcore beatdowns, clash from contrasting time signatures or simmer to allow for the stunning vocal performance, the end result is nothing short of brilliance. Vocals themselves have to be given their own merits, dynamically shifting from frenzied yelps to lung-burning growls to occasionally emotionally touching and hard-hitting clean passages, sometimes all in the same breath. And drums, well, they just orchestrate the madness. Unpredictable utter madness. Last year’s Are You Kidding Me? No. is completely full of show-stealing instrumentation at literally nearly every given interval, and lead track Destroy Create Transform Sublimate is the total package. Insane tapping melodies, crunching guitar throwdowns, schizoid but terrific drum display, subtle but bone-shaking bass, an awesome rollercoaster of a vocal delivery and a pseudo-dictatorial speech complete with a rousing orchestral score that delves into dark jungle-style drum ‘n’ bass? What more could you ask for? Destrage are turning metal inside out, and for every person who signs up for their energetic brand of engineered chaos, brings them a step closer to dominating like they should be. A truly unbelievable force of a band.

There’s a few albums of theirs floating around, most of them on most respectable music retailers, but just as easy to go get them from their website directly. They’d probably appreciate it as much if you went and got a t-shirt or two from them as well. Oh, and if you’re in Germany, go see them at Euroblast in October.

If you don’t love them already, go love them now here:

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Liquorworks

I sit back and think to myself every so often and wonder this: Is the best music in the world always composed when the musicians themselves are hammered? There are cases for the prosecution and the defence here. In favour, the undisputed gravel-driven poetry of Tom Waits’ The Piano Has Been Drinking, even if not woven together inebriated, at the least the piano was. But on the defence, alcohol has ruined careers and even concluded them, bar Hendrix’ infamous demise and recently Sum 41 frontman Derrick Whibley being a few more millilitres away from being in the ground. So where does Liquorworks fit into this puzzle? Aside from the not-so-subtle elbow in the ribs of their namesake, the Finnish duo’s music, while ultimately brilliant, has an aura of being under the influence in that it’s so unpredictable and wild, the results will likely take you aback. Thankfully, it’s in a wonderful way. The two gentlemen from Vimpeli, Finland craft a form of technical, progressive metal that flourishes from the additional twists of stand out instruments including a saxophone, occasional keyboard and even an organ in patches. Think of it as an orchestra conducted by a mental institution and you’d be about there. While their first album Nonsense had more than a few moments of dizzying excellence, 2013’s Muscle Explosion took that bar to the next level. Final track Robotektor takes on the form of an intense metal pursuit, but one that manages to distil some comedic undertones into the madness. Across the four minute running time, arpeggios of keyboard ascend, guitars shred, drums are destroyed and organ casts down judgement, all at incredible pace. The lunacy on show is more than enough to hardened metal militia happy, while those standing from a technical stand point will be blown away. Despite there being only two of them, the illusion of an insanely tight chemistry between a full band makes the mouth water at the prospect of a live performance. Credit where credit is due, Liquorworks are unbelievably good. Tech metal seems to take itself a little too seriously at the best of times, but one sitting with this wacky, creative behemoth of a metal band and happiness can only follow. Best served in a pint glass with a cocktail umbrella. Cheers.

Liquorworks’ most recent efforts, last year’s Cosmos Compost EP and Muscle Explosion can be bought from their Bandcamp page for a reasonable fee, whereas 2011’s Nonsense and Moist Computer EP can downloaded for free from their Soundcloud page. Most respectable music retailers also apply.

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