It has been said several times (and rightly so) in recent years, that there is a great paradox taking place in Greece as far as extreme or heavy music in general are concerned. I am talking about the fact that in times of severe economic crisis, there is a frantic scene development, both in quality and quantity, in a wide range of genres, with literally dozens of extraordinary bands and even more amazing releases, despite the limited means allowed by the aforementioned situation. And if this initially seems like a stroke of tragedy for pessimists like me, is there actually a better environment for the progress of art than tragedy? It is no accident that most of the albums featured in this review are synchronized, both thematically and the lyrically in the frequency of the dystopia we live in. Wild flowers that grow in concrete but with deep, strong roots.
I’ll start with a personal favorite, the split between Conspiracy of Denial (Athens) and Lethe (Patras), which was released in early March. Dark, atmospheric and aggressive crust by two of the best representatives of today’s new wave of bands. The CoD side is a well-planned sonic attack, from the crust onslaught in “Lethargos” to the blackened tremolo riffs and the relentless blastbeat in “Smells Like Death” and the doomy guitar parts in “Sacrifices”. Even the arrangement of the tracks has been done with care. Lethe grab you by the neck, with their apocalyptic d-beat in “Units” and the skin-crawling, electrified atmosphere of “Schizadrania”. The same pattern of existential violence continues in “One Voice” and when their side concludes with “Negation”, one can only hit the repeat button. In addition to the excellent music that can be found in this split, the production is amazing, a snapshot of a growing trend we witness in the last few years, meaning underground bands paying attention to this aspect of their releases, in genres they weren’t used to do so in Greece. In my humble opinion, this release will be particularly influential on the scene in many ways. A truly great album.
In less than a year from the release of their debut album “Scent of Death”, Dead on Parole (Athens) released their second full-length album titled “Wounds” in early April. Metalic crust that does not exhaust its energy in just playing fast but also creates essential compositions (“Ritual Of Self”, “Negative Pulse” etc.) with lots of riffs on each track and highly interesting drum patterns. The album does not lack atmospheric moments (Siege), while the vocals tear down steel walls throughout the album. Two out of two for DoP.
Monumetal hardcore punk/d-beat act Chaotic End released its second album titled “Promise”, 24 years after its legendary debut “In the Face of Paranoia”. I do not know what can one write about a band that with just one release taught two generations of punks to listen/play music off the beaten path. The new album retains the heritage of the classical, ageless sound of the band, offering 9 amazing tracks with equal doses of atmosphere and nerve, which will be stuck on our playlists for years. Epic band.
What would summer be without some true, street-bred hardcore punk? It would be nothing and Corpses are here to put things in their place with their first, self-titled full-length album. A release that smells like alcohol and riots, made to break down venues and sound systems. Get together with your friends, get at least four cases of beer and crank up the volume for a nice summer evening while listening this little diamond.
Pure Violent Hedonism is a melodic hardcore/metalcore tornado from Rethymno, Crete and released their first ep last January. Four tracks that masterfully combine all the influences of the band, with many great riffs (“Unfair Humanity”) and a vocalist with a hellish throat ranging from classic hardcore to slam death (“Define to Suffer”). A great debut preparing us for the expected panic attacks to be caused by their first full-length release.
Athenian grinders Vromostomoi (Dirty Mouths) released their second full-length album titled “Apostomosi” last February. The psychological situation of those who still have the ability to think in this country, is an interchanging loop of two emotional phases. Sadness and intense existential dread are compounded by anger, despair, and hatred. Whenever you find yourself in this second phase of the circle, do yourself a favor and listen to this album. 17 minutes of pure anti-social hatred and furious aggression, free from all pleasantries. With highly poetic song titles such as “Sons of Whores“, “Meatbar“ and “Sewer Mass”, and with corresponding lyrics, the band embodies its name to the fullest. “You raise your voice to me, I raise my voice to you”. Come get your beat-down.
Blackened grinders Stheno from Volos, who made the underground go crazy with last year’s “Liberty Crawls in Waste” album, returned in late April with a split release titled “Primitive”, with the Brazilian knife-wielding maniacs Facada. Focusing on the side of Stheno for the purpose of this review, the band continues to provoke with unassuming intensity that emotional reaction which feels like you’re being slashed by blades from all directions while being in pitch-black darkness. While choking. While you are paralyzed from the waist below. The scale tips slightly to the grind side in “Primitive”, but black metal influences are still present (“Conceint Marries Power”) while the band honors its punk roots with a cover of “City baby attacked by rats “, originally written by the legendary GBH. We add Stheno to the ever-growing list of local bands that stubbornly refuse to release even one mediocre song/album.
The lyric line “Existential anxiety, a noose around the neck” screamed in the song “Stardust”, plainly describes the emotional backbone of Dephosphorus new album “Impossible Orbits”, that was released in mid June. Relentless drumming, bold riffs and schizophrenic vocals that terrorize the peasants. Crusty grind for endless headbanging that repels the decay of everyday life and the cursed sun of the “most beautiful country in the world”. Great album.
Carnal Garden have been around since 2012, but “Where They Are Silent” released last April is probably their first full-length album. The modern death metal scene has stretched the limits of the genre far beyond the late 80’s-90’s sound, but there are times when one needs to take a step back from the complex technical riffs, multi-layered basslines from fretless bass guitars and machine gun-like drumming and remember the roots of death metal with all its mid-tempo groove and dirt we all love. The old-school approach of Carnal Garden does exactly that. And it does it well. Having spent time in bands such as Pigskinner, Abyssus and Soulskinner, the achievements of these fine gentlemen speak for themselves.
Kin Beneath Chorus from Thessaloniki do not need any special introduction, as within 6 years of their demo release, they are now perhaps the most recognizable band of their genre in Greece and rightly so. The band released its second full-length album titled “Invia” in early May. The “deathcore” label is a rather poor choice to describe the compositional wealth of the album, which goes much further than a succession of breakdowns with brutal vocals. The combination of death metal and metalcore was never so harmonious and productive. Along with KBC’s musical creations, the release is taken to a whole new level by its excellent production. With songs like “Higher Than Man”, “Invia”, “White Light”, “Mariner’s Compass” and others, this album is a kick to the balls of metal elitists and a big-ass diamond on the crown of the local extreme music scene. Enough said.
The January of 2017 was marked by the release of the first full-length album by Athenian mathcore act Blame Kandinsky titled “Spotting Elegance in Chaos”. This scene is blooming rapidly in Greece consisting of many quality bands and B.D. are one of its top representatives. Drawing inspiration from bands such as Converge, Botch, Every Time I Die and adding their own special ingredients, they wrote a fantastic album. A true musical chaos with constant tempo changes, riffs that stick (“When The Sun Is Silent”) and brain-freezing rhythmic changes that make headbanging a challenge. In addition,these guys are great live performers.
The expression of the more complex human emotions through music will always be a challenge. How can one musically define the illogical part of human psychosynthesis when it’s difficult to do so even by resorting to the stereotypes of psychology? The answer lies with bands such as Calf. The post-hardcore/noise rockers from Karditsa released their new work titled “evil solos deified mom dad deified solos live” last April . If you got brain-fucked by the anagram word play of the title, you are in for a treat because it’s probably the simplest part of the album. Literally “sick” music.
I’m never going to be objective when it comes to Allochiria, as I believe them to be one of the best bands in Greece today. The post-sludge/post-metallers from Athens, who swept us away with their debut album “Omonoia” in 2014, returned last March to release their second full-length album titled “Throes” via Art of Propaganda. From the killer opening riff of “Thrust” to the drum solo that closes “Denoument” there is not even one boring moment in the album. The distinctive sound walls created by the guitar parts, renew the classic build-up composing technique of “post” genres and, in combination with Irene’s fucking awesome vocals, result in creating unforgettable songs (“Little Defeats, Tiny Victories” and “Cracking Fractals”). The band also excels in blending post-rock soundscapes with sludge (“Lifespotting”, “Counting Fives”) while in terms of lyrics and atmosphere they are the only local band that has, in my opinion, truly grasped the meaning of musical “existentialism” which was introduced by bands like Amenra and Oathbreaker. A fantastic album from a fantastic band. Those of you who have not seen them perform live, should attend the upcoming New Long Fest or Desertfest just to see them.
I will put an end to my ramblings with two albums that may not exactly fit the “extreme music” description, but still hold much artistic value and meaning in their music. They may not be full of blast-beats, overdrives or tremolo riffs, but they are ideally suited for completing the mosaic of our local scene.
To be honest, the only contact I have with “industrial” are some Rammstein songs I ‘ve listened to as a teenager and the corresponding elements in the experimental musical approach of Anaal Nathrakh. Still, the guys form Atrocity Pioneer (Thessaloniki) caught me by surprise with their debut album “Amusing Ourselves to Death” which was released last March. The album has a catchy groove going around throughout its length and the vocals have a pleasant ironic vibe that was quite appealing to me. Good things happen on the guitars in “Goodbye Mankind” while the album peaks with “Live your Myth in Greece”, a song full of sarcasm and truth about the society we live in. A very interesting album.
Another band I did not know about until recently, hard/stoner rockers Puta Volcano from Athens released their second full-length album titled “Harmony of Spheres” in late April. The psychedelic and grunge touches, the guitar riffs and Luna’s beautiful, almost hermaphrodite voice make the album stand out as the music of Puta Volcano has a melancholy rarely fould in this genre. If you always wanted a band that combines Alice in Chains with Kyuss, you’ve found what you need. A very good release.