Break Even – Young at Heart

Hailing from one of the most isolated cities on earth, Perth, Australia based hardcore band Break Even offer us melodic hardcore in the tradition of old classic bands such as Dag Nasty, Uniform Choice, Unity, Born Against and the like.  They want us to know that they have a 12″ out on July 6th on  Midnight Funeral records.  A 7 tracker, this release showcases a vibrant and listenable brand of melodic, slightly DC-ish hardcore. 

The four-piece, featuring Mark Bawden (Vocals), Stephen Sciutto (Guitar), Perri Basille (Bass) and Simon Dreja (Drums), have been going since 2005, and proffer a message of optimism which is in contrast to the bleakness, aggression and nihilism that is present in a lot of releases in this genre today.

The band’s biog isn’t just the standard ‘four guys get drunk and play punk’ story, though.  In late 2008, then guitarist Rowan Willoughby took his own life.  This left the band shocked and, in musical terms, in limbo.  They have since returned to the studio and the stage and the result was a debut album, entitled ‘The Bright Side‘.  The latest release follows on with mid-paced, US influenced hardcore.  Drum slaps energise the chiming guitars, whilst the vocals remind me of Shawn Brown – era Dag Nasty – which is not a bad thing at all!

I’m really enjoying this release and if you consider yourself well read in late 80s hardcore of a melodic nature, then you could do a lot worse than check this out and buy it from their label, or from Bandcamp.

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Iron Worzel: Sludge from Down Under

We at Rip It Up try to keep our fingers on the slow-beating pulse of the music scene; it’s a labour of love searching out exciting bands to post about, and listening to stuff people send us.  For the most part, we manage to seek out new releases as and when they happen: sometimes however you realise that you just cannot keep up, such is the volume of self-released music crawling out of dingy rehearsal rooms and dimly lit studios the world over.  So I’ve got pals from Crawl to thank for this tip: an Australian band called Iron Worzel, who have released an eponymous 6-track EP of the most toweringly heavy, slow, downtuned goodness.  Not a new release by our normal standards, this was so good that I felt it had to be featured anyway.  The EP runs to roughly 30 minutes, and in that time we are treated to some classic doom music.

Starting off soooo slowly, the opener, ‘Iron Worzel‘, builds in intensity and wakes up like some revolting sea creature, with super-downtuned guitar and bass, drums which are hit every 30 seconds or so, and agonised vocals that detail  suffering of unimaginable proportions.  However, at 3 minutes 46 seconds, the track kicks off like a good old bar room brawl.  Chugging along like a good dose of vintage Extreme Noise Terror, complete with dual vocals to boot, this is an utter delight and an eye-opener.  Licks from a mutated Sabbath embellish the doom, which slows back down to agonising speed at the end of the track.

Wood from Wood‘ wastes no time on formalities.  Rather than introducing itself politely, we are simply assaulted by a vast metallic riff, with drums spitting out from the mess of bass and guitar.  ‘Franky und Kator‘ continues the mid-speed metallic attack, with an early Slayer-esque feel to it, but in a world where Slayer has been crossed with Bristol squat punks Chaos UK!  This even has a bluesy, Southern interlude as well.

The next track, ‘Final Straw‘, is another fast, downtuned delight, with a simple riff lending effect and a tight rhythm section keeping momentum.  These guys play listenable, almost tuneful sludge!  ‘Rust’ follows, an epic nearly nine minute doom jam that mixes Prong with a dose of sludgy heaviness that bands like Iron Monkey and Brainoil are experts in.  The final track, ‘Never Too late‘, really does sound like a more sludge-inflected Extreme Noise Terror or Deviated Instinct; a faster jam, but hard hitting and perhaps more metallic.

Listening to this is kind of mandatory really, with a decent set of speakers if possible. 

Drone from the Underside of the Earth

I’ve been away for a couple of days, so apologies for the lack of posts since Wednesday.  I have a life outside of Rip It Up! But as I type, sitting at DeHud’s macbook during a weekend visit up north which I hope will include a gig, I wanted to post about this compilation which has appeared on the Bandcamp site of Australian label Art as Catharsis.  Entitled ‘Drone from the  Underside of the Earth’, it is a showcase for all things heavy and downtuned from Down Under.

Now it has been said before that Sydney’s mighty Hard Ons are Rip It Up’s fave band of all time.  They themselves are influenced by all sorts of other great music that came out of Aus in the past – bands such as The Saints and Radio Birdman for example.  But this massive compilation, running to 26 tracks, shows a whole new generation of heavy bands.

Running the gamut of styles, from the Sabbath-inflected stoner rock of Arrowhead’s ‘Blood from a Stone’ to the super-heavy metallic sludge of Space Bong’s ‘The Death Kneel’, this is a really interesting compilation.  Art As Catharsis is a well established label with quite a few releases of interest, some of which I hope to post about before too long.

In the meantime, get this on loud.  It’s a free sampler and can be had from AAC’s Bandcamp page.

The Hard-Ons do it all over again…

Few bands can claim a higher place in the estimation of the Rip It Up team than the Hard-Ons, the magnificent punk/garage band from Sydney, Australia. Over the course of the last 30 or so years they have released a vast back catalogue of music whose diversity betrays their massive range of influences – 60s garage through Spector-esque pop and then right up to flat-out Ramones punk rock, all of which is capably played in their many live shows. And now, no doubt mindful of the fact that in the words of Jerry from Poison Idea that ‘Record Collectors are Pretentious Assholes’, the Hard-Ons have undertaken a project to remaster, repackage and re release their back catalogue, starting from 1984 to 1987.

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News reaches us at Rip It Up that the first fruits of their labour are almost ready for picking – bassist Ray has revealed that:

Spanning the years 1984 – 1987, SMELL MY FINGER presents the entire official recorded output of The Hard-ons. All the 7 inch releases. Both 12” releases. Every officially released Hard-ons tune is there including obscure compilation tracks. Two discs contain 150 minutes of music and 60 (!) songs. Bizarre and fascinating live documentation from salvaged party tapes and desk recordings are presented, highlighting a head-turning mixture of influences (punk, metal, gram-rock, hard-rock, 60’s garage, psychedelia, girl-group sounds, power-pop, bubblegum, thrash etc). A unique and fearless band of teenagers that rushed Sydney’s punk and garage scenes like runaway stormtroopers – in full evidence on these prehistoric yet timeless recordings!

This release is part of an ongoing project to document their entire career – which given their output of ‘official’ albums will be some task. YOU cannot buy it at this point in time – but if you want a copy, it’s due for release in May 2012, and if you keep checking the Hard-Ons forum, you should find details of how to order it – unless of course you are Australian, in which case it will most likely be on their merch table at the line up of gigs they are playing, starting at the rather wonderfully named Toowoomba Spotted Cow on Thursday 3rd May !