Tag Archives: Epitaph Records

RECORD REVIEW: Every Time I Die – ‘Low Teens’

Every Time I Die’s eighth full-length, Low Teens, can be described as the perfect summation of their career. The Buffalo bad boys have been crushing the metalcore/hardcore/southern rock game for well over a decade now (even if they’re one of the only bands participating in this mashup of genres). What has kept ETID alive and thriving for so long has been their ability to consistently deliver meaningful and eclectic heavy music.

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Record Reviews in Haiku #6

Here are some thoughts on,
A few exciting records,
And one not so much.

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VIDEO PREMIERE: letlive. “Good Mourning, America”

The first single off of letlive.’s upcoming album, If I’m The Devil…, has been unleashed! “Good Mourning, America” puts up a fight against controversial issues like police brutality, race, and what it really means to protest. Check out the music video, and it’s very busy ball of red string, right here!

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Defeater Release 7-Inch Vinyl – Only 1000 Copies!

Defeater, who just released their full-length record Abandoned via Epitaph Records earlier this year, have just put out a surprise 7-inch. The blue vinyl, of which Epitaph is only shipping 1,000 copies, comes with “Still & True” on Side A and “Let Me Down” on Side B. These tracks were only previously available as bonus tracks on the Abandoned full-length.

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Top 10 HXC Approved Albums of 2015

 top ten 2015hxc

In no particular order, here are the HXC Magazine staff’s favorite records from 2015!

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Live Shots: From The Depths, Too Close To Touch, Emarosa at Loud Fest

Bradley Walden of Emarosa
Bradley Walden of Emarosa

Among the bands that played New Jersey’s Loud Fest were From The Depths, Too Close To Touch and Emarosa. Flip through the photo gallery below to see some stellar shots of their sets, and to catch vocalist Bradley Walden of Emarosa work his way from floor to ceiling and back again.

Photos by Justin LaMot

Live Shots: Defeater, Four Year Strong at Gramercy Theatre

Defeater

An acoustic guitar set, a 90s inspired grunge band, a hardcore band, and a pop punk act all played the same show Oct. 6th in New York City’s Gramercy Theatre. It felt like four different shows in one, or a really diverse variety show. Needless to say, I got nothing I was expecting.

Elder Brother–or apparently only the singer, Dan Rose, without the band–opened the Tuesday night show with acoustic guitar songs and some jokes while he tuned his guitar. Odd, because I was there for Defeater and I was expecting nothing but Massachusetts hardcore. As he began playing I braced myself for the worst, but Rose was definitely not bad. Elder Brother is worth checking out if you need some slower, softer music.

Superheaven, which can easily be called a Nirvana copycat, came on next with some catchy, grungy tunes. Nothing you haven’t heard before and I was getting restless for some heavy shit, not to mention the air conditioning was on full blast on a chilly October evening. I wanted to see movement.

Then Defeater came on fast and hard. Most bands don’t sound like their recordings during live performances. Defeater is no exception. Drums generally overpower vocals at live events and sometimes the vocals suffer without the magic of post-production. Defeater is an exception in this case. This was one of the best performances I have seen. Derek Archambault’s impassioned screaming was loud and clear. His voice took over the Gramercy and commanded the crowd’s attention and movement. The drums, which sometimes seem like a distant background on their digital tracks, crashed and battered through the rhythmic guitars louder than expected. Drummer Joe Longobardi was mesmerizing by himself, enjoying the moment and lost in his own little world of a drum kit.

Aside from being harder and stronger live than through my headphones, the visuals greatly added to Defeater’s performance. Archambault was like an angry Energizer bunny two-stepping, hopping around non-stop, and crushing the airwaves with a powerful, bewitching voice in front of a mock stained glass church window. The lights transitioned red, yellow and white adding a churchlike perspective to their set, about half of which was composed of songs from their latest album, Abandoned.

Following the awe-inspiring Defeater came Boston pop punk headliners, Four Year Strong. The crowd had grown during the break between bands and was itching to leave its feet. In my experience, the unlikeliest bands cause the most ruckus. Song after song the crowd surged and jumped and thrashed as intensely if not more so than at a heavier band’s show. They, like Defeater, are much better live. You could feel the connection between band and audience and it was contagious. I couldn’t help but like what I was seeing, even though I don’t like pop punk.

This is a tour you don’t want to miss if you want a show experience unlike what you’re accustomed to. At the very least, come for Defeater and witness one of the best hardcore bands currently out there.

Review by David Marulanda. Photos by Alexander Chan. 

Record Review: Parkway Drive – ‘Ire’

parkway-drive-ire

When Parkway Drive released the single “Vice Grip” from their latest album, Ire, I had my doubts about what the rest of the album would be like. I sensed a new direction that was all too similar to bands that have seriously softened or altered their sound recently (cough, BMTH). Fortunately for everyone involved, Ire is absolutely nothing you were expecting. There are some attempts at singing from a guy not known for clean vocals (Winston McCall). There are a couple of songs with vocals I can only describe as spoken word-esque. There are also instances of gang vocals–even some brief chanting. Catchy, brutal and inspiring, this record is delightfully refreshing with its broad spectrum of songs. “Writings on the Wall” and “A Deathless Song” are not decidedly metalcore songs, while “Vice Grip” offers everything you could want from the genre, and “Bottom Feeder” is as angry as it gets.

“Writings on the Wall,” a slow-starting, violin-laced ballad, is the jewel of the album. It has a Gothic ambiance with a revolutionary vibe.

“They came for our minds
We said nothing
They came for our hopes
We said nothing
They came for our souls
We still we said nothing
Now they’re coming for our lives
So what’s it gonna take?”

The song seems, at first, misplaced in an album ripe with thunderous vocals and the nonstop chugging of melodic guitars, but it is its uniqueness and its call to action that makes it so memorable.

Songs like “Dedicated” and “The Sound of Violence” bring the frenzied sounds Parkway Drive is known for, but still demonstrate the band’s evolution. Yes, they are formulaic in structure, but what the band does with their vocals and instrumentals overcomes this issue and gives us one of the best metalcore albums of the year.

by David Marulanda 

Four and Half Star Rating

Record Review: Defeater – ‘Abandoned’

Defeater

I have never heard a sadder hardcore album than Defeater’s Abandoned. Derek Archambault’s voice is a haunting, screaming whisper reminding us of our imperfections and flaws. The record encompasses nearly the entire spectrum of sadness and guilt. Abandoned is told from the point of view of a priest who knows the family from the band’s first three full-lengths. He is destitute with his guilt and it’s eating him from the inside out.

Defeater have taken a softer approach with their instrumentals on Abandoned. The drums are slower than in previous work, and the guitars often play quietly and sometimes stop all together. This record is about the lyrics, which separates this band from its hardcore contemporaries.

“I was a good man once,” resonates with you even after “Unanswered” has finished playing. This admission of downfall is prevalent in every song. At first, the priest’s fall from grace can be attributed to the war, but it seems unclear if the war ruined him or if it is simply the fallibility of human nature. The record goes through his various sins (as he sees it) and his anger at a God wholly missing from his life. He’s stuck in a cycle of hope for an answer from God and denial of God with its accompanying suffering.

“Spared in Hell” reveals that the priest’s near death experience in the war and the chaplain’s sacrifice to save him led him to the priesthood, but the horrors he witnessed led him to the bottle.

“Since I was spared in hell I repay the old chaplain that saved me.
I spend my days with the good book,
Follow every chapter, prayer, and verse.
I spend my nights with my vices
Just to find some proof in the words.”

“December 1943” is about the inhumanity he experienced while serving during the war. He wants to remember, but all he can conjure up are half memories and pain.

“I can’t remember
Each time it slipped right through my fingers.
The eyes and faces of my brothers,
They never made it back home to their mothers.”

“Borrowed and Blue” is remorseful, but it isn’t angry or directed at God. It’s a nostalgic love song for a woman he once had in his life. The priest is only a man, after all.

“I maybe a sinner,
Forsaken and damned,
Selfish with pride for the touch of her hand.”

There are no better story tellers in hardcore today than Defeater. I can’t imagine what the origin of this kind of life consuming, gut-wrenching story is, but with Abandoned Defeater have created a masterpiece of dark, solitary anguish.
By David Marulanda
Four Star Rating

Bring Me The Horizon: The Latest Face of Wheaties?

bmth_throne

A very wise man once said, “I spent my high school career spit on and shoved to agree/so I could watch all my heroes sell a car on T.V.”

For almost 10 years these words sung by Gerard Way in My Chemical Romance‘s 2006 track “Disenchanted” have rung in my ears.  At first I thought I was so attracted to these lyrics because they were the words of my hero telling me how life gets disappointing as you grow up.  It’s emo, and a fact we hear constantly as we get older, but I took it to be more of a thematic message, rather than a literal one.  Who knew that by 2013 I’d watch my hero allow my favorite band to break up in order to actually sell his own botched image of David Bowie-meets-David Byrne not only on T.V., but on billboards and bus stop benches like some forgettable basketball player on a box of Wheaties. To me, Gerard Way, like so many artists before and after him, had sold out. And now, in a post-My Chem world, I am forced to sit back and watch the rest of my musical heroes follow suit.

When it comes to selling out one must ask two things: First, what exactly is selling out? And second, who actually does sell out?

Selling out is a common idiomatic pejorative expression for the compromising of a person’s integrity, morality, authenticity, or principles in exchange for personal gain, such as money. —Wikipedia

Selling Out: To compromise one’s values and/or aristic [sic] vision in order to gain fame and/or monetary profit. Commonplace in today’s musical society. It is rare to find a successful musical artist who has not “sold out”, however, this is not to say that they do not exist. —-Urban Dictionary

Sell Out: To betray one’s cause or associates especially for personal gain—Merriam-Webster

As many of you may have heard, it was recently announced that the deathcore-turned-alternative-rock band, Bring Me The Horizon has left the independent punk label Epitaph and signed to Columbia Records, a major corporation of a music label. By the definitions above–having altered their sound to reach a wider audience and appeal more to the levels of rock being released today while leaving their small time, more avant garde sound in order to do so– BMTH have seemingly sold out.

With the release of their upcoming record’s first single “Happy Song,” fans can see that the transition from deathcore found on staples such as Suicide Season and There Is A Hell… is no longer rooted in the same artful direction as their clean vocal heavy Sempiternal. It is now almost exclusively pop rock with an accented aggression on several musical notes. Gone are the days of frontman Oli Sykes screaming “Crucify me!” and in place are those of him melodically encouraging us to “sing a happy song,” because sometimes rainbows and butterflies make your day much better than well thought out religious imagery used ironically in songwriting.

Okay, so maybe I’m a little biased. However, the proof is in the pudding. With the release of (what is technically considered) the first purchasable single off of the upcoming record, old school fans were even more blasted by the change of BMTH’s direction with”Throne.” Though it upholds strong connotations image-wise to their deathcore days, it is almost a direct rip off of mid-2000s Linkin Park. With accented screams, electronica highlights, and catchy, melodic vocals, metalcore fans were left in the dark and feeling almost betrayed by BMTH.

Sure, many bands “evolve” or “mature” and change up their sound, but it seems as if the introduction of keyboardist Jordan Fish is what really did BMTH in.  Though his efforts greatly helped bring BMTH out of their shell on 2013’s Sempiternal, his continued presence in the press when concerning this record is rather alarming. Rolling Stone labels him as the “keyboardist and primary songwriter” in their latest and only article ever concerned with BMTH, ineptly (yet maybe appropriately) titled “Ditching Metalcore.”  As Fish upholds himself as the voice of BMTH after his work with the band for only one released full-length, it becomes worrisome. Oli Sykes has not been present for the majority of interviews since the release of “Happy Song.”  So, is Jordan Fish taking over the band and corrupting it into a commercialized redundancy of old school alternative rock or is this actually Sykes agreeing to sell out and abandon all that he stood for previously?

But it’s not necessarily fair to blame Bring Me The Horizon for selling out.  We cannot blame a band for going against all that they were when we, the public and music consumers, are the ones who potentially could have forced them into the environment that led them down this path. With a decline in record sales and the need for radio-publicity to spark interest in artists, major labels can expand the horizons (no pun intended) for a band confined to the minute exposure and monetary limitations of an independent label. This generation’s need to consume music for as cheap (or sometimes as free of cost) as possible is what is deteriorating musicians’ abilities to live through their work on smaller labels. But is it worth an artist’s musical integrity? Let’s look at some examples.

Exhibit A: Fall Out Boy.

For many, Fall Out Boy is the poster child of modern day “punk” or “alternative” selling out.  But when exactly did they get flack? Somewhere in between the release of their chart topping full-length From Under The Cork Tree and the release of “Take Over, The Break’s Over,” a fun single off of their follow up Infinity On High where they call out all of their haters. People were angry at the guys in FOB for at the time signing to a label like Island Records (a sub-label of Universal Music Group).  Though in retrospect, it is safe to say that while fans may have been disappointed with their signing to a major label and slight departure from their original underground sound, they still remained in the vein of the sonic aesthetic presented on the lesser known Take This To Your Grave.  Even while boosting their careers on major labels, it wasn’t until their latest record American Beauty/American Psycho  came out that they truly departed from all forms of rock or punk in favor of commercial pop.  As of right now, it took them their entire musical career (and a four year hiatus) to actually sell out artistically.

Exhibit B: Breathe Carolina

Not really punk or hardcore, but still relevant. Breathe Carolina left their minor label in order to sign to *DING DING DING* Columbia Records, just like Bring Me did.  Now, how did that work out?  After one album, Hell Is What You Make It, the electro-duo had a top radio hit with “Blackout” and a self-proclaimed total loss of creative freedom.  Eventually they would depart early from the label to return to a minor league with Fearless Records and even lose founding member Kyle Even.  The sole remaining member, David Schmitt, luckily just decided to grab a backing band and continue on his own with the release of the highly successful record, in both the alternative and EDM scenes, Savages.

So what is it about Columbia Records that was so daunting?  Why haven’t bands like PVRIS or A Day To Remember chosen to find major labels when their sounds are actually marketable to the mainstream?  PVRIS purposely chose to sign to the metalcore label Rise Records, even though they are a pop-synth trio.  A Day To Remember opted to self-release their latest record Common Courtesy rather than be tied to or bought out by any label, even though half of their careers they have gotten flack for “selling out” despite remaining decently in the underground. Why can All Time Low‘s hit singles and chart-topping records go platinum while they perpetually remain on Hopeless Records? There is an element to selling out rooted in the very base definitions above, but there is also a more personal element of selling out that rests on whether you compromise the artistic integrity of your music in order to gain a profit. Whether Bring Me The Horizon will entirely sell out is still yet to be determined, though unfortunately it seems that with “Throne” and “Happy Song” the band that I loved for being so harsh and out of the box will now be known to the general public alongside old Muse tracks and new Arctic Monkeys on top rock radio. But only time will tell.