I have never really understood the point of reviews that cover two unrelated releases, but it seemed like the thing to do today. After starting the morning with Disrupt's classic Unrest, which once again kicked the vego gas right out of me, I was left feeling lighter but had punk on the brain and wanted to dig up something new. And that's the dubious link holding this piece together.
Grindcore Karaoke, a label run by J Randall (Agoraphobic Nosebleed) that has tons of releases available for free download. I clicked lucky dip style on Demo + Live by Iron Crow. Nice one.
Sampled crow squawks bookend the Demo part, which consists of 8 gritty powerviolence ragers clocking in at just over 5 minutes. There's a pretty nifty display of the genre standards here: slow, open riffs that give way to short blast explosions; throaty, barked staccato vocals; and the almost obligatory sub 5 second song ("Two Seconds 'Till Death"). But Iron Crow still manage to squeeze a couple of interesting touches in. The Slayer-like thrash of "Society's Burden", the syncopation between the guitar and drums in "Pedophile", and the way a couple of the riffs are built around sliding, rather than static chords (maybe slightly reminiscent of the Locust) stand out.
The Live part is 9 tracks that sound almost like they could have been recorded in the same shoebox as the demo (they weren't), with a few extra people crammed in. It captures the energy pretty well and actually makes me keen for a house show. Anyway, it's definitely worth giving this a rip if you've got a spare 15 minutes. Download here.
My next target was more deliberate. I was told about Elizabeth, from Geneva, Switzerland a few months ago and wanted to finally give them a proper go. Their EP, Where Vultures Land was co-released in April this year by Throatruiner Records & I For Us. It's a nasty little bastard of a noisy hardcore record that plies its trade in desolation using a whole lot of tension, some unsettling changes and distorted, desperate vocal delivery.
The songs do break into a few passages that power straight ahead,
sometimes with a bit of d-beat dropped in. But just when you're that little bit too comfortable, the rhythm shifts to awkward to put you on edge again, as in "Heartbeats". "Sharp Teeth
and Knives" even has a chugging breakdown towards the end of the song, but that ultimately just falls away in futility. Even in the more restrained parts, like the verses in "The Call", everything points downwards. Any hint of uplifting melody Elizabeth offer is snatched away as soon as you accept it. "Sailor's Grave" gets almost triumphant, but really just ends up miserable.
I hear Ringworm and Converge influences in this, though that's not to limit what Elizabeth are doing because these songs are crawling with their own character. But don't take my word for it, listen here.