these were in issue #2
400 Hundred Years - Transmit Failure (Lovitt)
Oh my goodness!! Take a strong DC influence, mix it with a strong emo influence, mix it with hardcore and bake on 400. Don't let it cool!! 400 Hundred Years wear all these stripes and don't let anybody down. Take Hoover's heavy parts and that's a good starting point. Not to say that there aren't any quieter parts but just fewer. The lyrics go from personal to political to inspirational: "rise, and take hold, rise, don't let go because there will always be a new excuse to keep us from what we must do to fight for out fear, and live our dreams it's worth the risk to be set free." This is just awesome stuff that has great roots but takes the sound further in a different direction. Get this somehow.
Aclys - helduntergang (per koro)
This is amazing metal-core! It doesn't just focus on the muting chugga parts. Instead they use lots of discordant sounds. It's also got a sort of emo feel to some of the songs with nice quiet intros. The lyrics are in German because the band hails from that country. Why do they have so many good bands? I just have a copy of this so I can't comment on anything else.
Boilermaker - s/t (wrenched records)
This came out I think in Sept. 98. Since then Boilermaker have disbanded. This stuff was not nearly as exciting as the boilermaker I saw in concert and heard on the split with 3 Mile Pilot. Most of these songs take a central theme and just continue with it for 3 minutes. There's no buildup or down and no variation. The CD had some moments but on the whole it was monotonous.
Botch - American Nervoso (hydra head)
Someone described this to me as Fugazi playing metal. I can agree with him. This is super technical but somehow still has the catchy grinding parts. It's definitely one of the crazier albums I've ever gotten. It can be extremely fast or it can be a super slow grind. Did I mention it's incredibly technical and ever changing. Disregard the fact that I used the word "grind" way too often in this review because it's not grind. It's just amazingly good stuff that could very well be the future of metal.
Cave In - Until Your Heart Stops (hydra head)
METAL!!! I was somewhat disappointed when I got this. It's way technical but maybe too much. The ambient sounds in between some of the tracks are kinda cool but eventually the novelty wears thin. I think this is a new singer and his voice is more of the low end gutteral growl/scream. For fans of metal this is a must but for fans of chugga chugga hardcore it may not suit you. I think Beyond Hypothermia was better.
Corrin - plutonian shores (infidel)
When I got this the packaging really stole my eye. It's really nice looking and I mean super graphics. Step 2: is to put it in the player. Okay it's downhill from here. The music is metal-core and pretty boring. Besides not having solos it might as well be straight up metal. The same open E-chord, or is it dropped D, chugging just wore thin really fast.
Force Fed Glass - When Backs Are Turned Knives Are Pulled (pensive)
At first listen I thought this was just noise. But you must listen to this album more than once to understand. The fact that I've seen these guys play twice helps I suppose. They transform into different "beasts" when they start to play. The songs are FAST but they mix in breakdowns and different beats that keep it interesting. I'm under the impression that they are very good musicians from seeing them live. "deadeyes" has awesome lyrics that show this band's anger. I'm a bit disappointed with the production since it was done God City. I expected it to be a little cleaner, but maybe they were going for more of a live raw feel. If you like machine gun drumming, fast as hell guitars with a few breakdowns and totally unintelligible (in a good way) screamed lyrics, then this is for you.
Forstella Ford - Relics of an Unseen Life (the first time records)
These guys used to be called Only Airplanes Count, but when they changed the style of music they played the name went as well. This stuff is really crazy in the rhythm department. Rarely is there a rhythm played for more than a few bars before it is changed. Its kinda hard to listen to at first but then you have to think about how hard it is to play something like this and stay tight. As far as a sound it's hard to pin down. Kinda like the emo/rock thing that is gaining so much popularity mixed with the harder side of Hoover perhaps. See them live and be amazed at the 20 changes in each song and how it just works.
Frodus - conglomerate international (tooth and nail)
Before you stop reading because of the record label: Frodus is not a christian band. Frodus is a three piece band from Springfield, VA. The sound is a bit like Drive Like Jehu; driving guitars with really angular, dischordant melodies. The lyrics are mostly personal but also are a statement against big corporations and the direction that this country is taking into a future filled with a few very powerful men and millions of robot like people following orders. The concept of the album is not only humorous but also speaks a great message. Frodus pull off sincerity and comedy at the same time in the midst of some awesome music.
Grade - Separate the Magnets (second nature)
If you like Hot Water Music and heavier screamy stuff as well, then you're in luck. Grade is one of the few bands I've heard that can pull this off. They have one singer that sings then the other one does the screaming. It's really awesome stuff. How do I explain it? It can be catchy sing along emo/rock and then it can be hard as hell screaming emo. It never goes too far in one direction, which I think makes the sound cohesive. It doesn't sound like it should be two bands. "The Tie That Binds," the last song on the album, is an awesome song about union workers and how they get screwed often. You can't help but sing along.
Jawbox - My Scrapbook of Fatal Accidents (DeSoto)
If you're a Jawbox fan then this rules. It's got 5 songs from a Peel Session, 6 unreleased songs, 4 live tunes, and 7 covers. The packaging is really smooth. It's cardboard but folds out to have two pockets. One has a book of pictures; the other has a list of every show they've played. If you're not yet a Jawbox fan think DC emotional punk and buy their self titled or For Your Own Special Sweetheart. This is a great novelty for the long time Jawbox fan.
Lewistown/Target For Aggression - Killing You With Kindness (Bug/Eight Three Two)
This is an interesting venture since these two bands seem to be everywhere together. Both hail from Richmond, VA but their styles are pretty different. Lewistown plays a slow dischordant hardcore. There's rarely a breakdown dance part which makes the songs sometimes seem as if they never get going. Instead they rely on strange heavy rhythms and vocals that are screamed but don't tend to vary in intensity. It's decent but Target for Aggression is just so amazing! The music ranges from punk rhythms to chaotic screamo type stuff to chugga hardcore. The lyrics are mostly political, but you can tell they are heart felt. This band exudes energy. Just listening to them inspires me to get off of my butt.
The Most Secret Method - Get Lovely (slowdime)
If you thought since Jawbox was dead so was that emotional punk sound, you were wrong. I too cried when that infamous band left but now happier times are upon us. Ringing in these times is The Most Secret Method. This 3 piece from DC pull off the emotional punk sound and take it to new heights. There isn't the 2 guitar layering like Jawbox but somehow it still creates a really fresh sound. The group works really well together. The bass player doesn't just play the rhythm but adds notes and sounds that make the band sound really full. Plus the bass playing is really good. One song will have electric bass the next stand up and I think there's even a fretless at one point too. The music goes from straight up DC punk sound to some other more mellow and drawn out emotional pieces. This has really turned me onto this type of music again. I had all but given up but now I'm anxiously awaiting to hear more.
New Day Rising - we cannot know how much blood it costs (eulogy)
This is a collection of their stuff from 7"s, 10"s and comps. Unfortunately "TV Dinners" is not on here. Initial disappointment aside, New Day Rising set the standard for emo-core. Even they never again put out stuff this good. They could go from beautifully crafted intros to straight up chugga chugga and everything in-between like no one else. This stuff is so good. I wish it had a lyric sheet. Other than that this is the album for anybody into the metallic side of things.
Party of Helicopters - Abracadaver (donut friends/stickfigure)
This is what you get when you cross an indie sound with a little bit of hardcore. I really like it. The guitar plays quirky single note guitar melodies a good bit and the bass is usually pretty fast. The lyrics are sparse allowing the music to take center stage. The production isn't very good, more like that of a 7". Other than that I have no complaints.
Pop Unknown - Summer Season Kills (Deep Elm)
This band features one ex-member of Mineral which, for some people, automatically makes them worth listening to. This is a 5 song EP that starts off in a very promising direction. "Follow You" should be a template for writing great emo/indie. It starts off with a beautiful guitar melody that continues for about half a minute before anything else comes in. Six minutes later, after the song has just continued to build in intensity, the song reverts back to the first guitar melody. Just an awesome song!! Unfortunately, the rest of the album sounds like Weezer. If you're a fan of indie rock ala Weezer with moogs and all, check this out because they do it well. It's just not my cup of tea.
Saetia - (mountain records)
Warning: Be careful when you start this CD. Make sure all levels are fairly low. Saetia waste no time kicking old fashion screamo the way it should be. About a minute into the chaos a nice slow sweet melody appears and quickly disappears. The 2nd song changes up the routine. It starts with a non-distorted part with screaming/singing and gets even softer before the craziness. There may be a little DC or math influence but I'm not sure. They incorporate the quiet parts, screaming, singing, and heavy parts in a great way without making it sound like every other screamo band. Plus the quiet parts are not mearly the distorted part minus the distortion. Instead the guitarists develop entirely separate lines which shows they can play quiet without just strumming a chord. I'm a little biased because this is the sort of stuff I love, but this CD is getting listened to a lot around my apartment.
Seaweed - Actions and Indications (merge)
So Seaweed is back after 2 years. You all know probably know what they sound like by now. So there aren't many surprises on this album. Its just more of that oh so fun to sing along and rock out to post punk. Labels don't really fit because they're not really emo, punk, or rock but they come real close on all fronts. If you haven't heard them think Samiam but better. This album grows on you if you're a long time Seaweed fan. I'm glad they found such a good home as Merge.
You and I - within the frame (Your Best Guess)
If you want the emotional side of hardcore/metal, go here. Dual vocals on top of crazy metal with just the right amount of quiet. The music is awesome but You and I's strong point is in the lyrics and their sincerity. The CD comes with 5 separate cards with thoughts from each member of the band. The guitar work is really creative as opposed to lots of bands like this. They use the two guitars together well, blending in separate parts and coming together for intensity. This CD didn't leave the player for a long time. Go see them live, its an intense emotional experience.