Welcome to this week’s Foundation Vinyl Newsletter! And there is plenty to enjoy…
- Featured New Releases from Deathfiend, Hellshock, Terry, and a four-way split LP from Hag, Junta, Nonplus, and Zyfilis
- Testing the Pest
- One You May Have Missed: Positive Disintegration by Diät
- Shows and Tours, including new Sial and Dawn Ray’d / Ragana gigs
- Coming Soon
Featured New Releases
Powerfully growled vocals and satisfyingly down-tuned buzzsaw guitars combine with a decidedly fluent rhythm section to impressive effect, as Deathfiend unleash a brutally heavy death metal onslaught.
Deathfiend hail from Birmingham and are UK crust veterans, which is apt as both the city and that scene where integral to shaping English death metal in the late 1980s. And it is a heritage that they have vividly reanimated on this their debut LP. The emphasis is very much on the doom-laden, punk imbued groove of that era, rather than the more technical expressions of much contemporary death metal. Karl Willetts (Bolt Thrower / Memoriam) aptly guest vocals on a track, and the black’n’roll phase of Entombed is another yardstick, as is Harmony Corruption-era Napalm Death through their shared love of a crushing mid-paced breakdown.
A remastered repress of the metallic crust classic from Portland’s Hellshock.
Originally released in 2005, this is Hellshock’s second LP, their self-titled fourth full-length having been released last year. Crushingly heavy mid-paced down tuned riffage forms the bedrock of the band’s sound, accompanied by roared vocals and a brutally powerful rhythm section. While the band are not afraid to lean into their cleaner cut thrash metal instincts, including a monstrous breakdown to close ‘Welcome to the Void’, the defining influence is perhaps a crust-laden reimagining of Realm of Chaos / Warmaster era Bolt Thrower.
Jaunty indie-punk, but the at times almost nursery rhyme quality of the songs, belies a coruscating examination of Australian politics, often explored through the country’s architecture and landscape. Bright melodies, bleak histories.
Trembling guitars and harmonised yet deadpan group vocals remain Terry’s sonic hallmark, sitting astride a suitably fluid rhythm section and offbeat, dissonant synths. This tapestry is further enriched by well-judged flourishes of brass, strings, and piano. Lyrically, the album can initially strike as cryptically metaphorical, but each song is explicitly rooted in a specific incident and the desensitised, affectless vocal delivery lends an underlying steel to these figurative explorations.
‘Algorithm supports echo chambers, serves the reality you want, total liberation from coherence’ (Nonplus).
This is a Scandinavian hardcore compilation with four bands each contributing an EP’s worth of new material. The emphasis is on fast, raw hardcore, but each band brings a distinct take on the genre. Zyfilis sees snarled vocals over white noise guitars and lacerating leads. Nonplus is swirling, raging d-beat that literally wants to stomp you into submission. Junta exude a quiet desperation and deploy a sludgier groove to pulverising effect. While Hag have a more contemporary hardcore styling that brings the album to a swaggering, raucous finale.
Testing the Pest
For a genre that had such a deep-rooted and longstanding impact, it is perhaps surprising how short thrash metal’s heyday actually was: arguably 1986 to 1991. But what a fertile time that was. Even just focusing on the thrash band’s that I enjoy, it is clear that there was something powerful afoot: Nuclear Assault (Survive 1988, Handle with Care 1989), Sacred Reich (Ignorance 1987, Surf Nicaragua 1988, The American Way 1990), Kreator (Pleasure to Kill 1986, Terrible Certainty 1987, Extreme Aggression 1989), and Megadeth (Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying? 1986, So Far, So Good…So What? 1988), Mordred (Fool’s Game 1989, In This Life 1991). Albums that pushed music forward, and to my ears at least, have stood the test of time.
Looking back now, it is hard to recollect just how disruptive thrash metal was – the musical and social distortion it brought to bear. It was not a unified genre by any stretch; indeed, it was in many ways an inherently volatile one. But the aforementioned bands were defined by a heady brew of often socially aware lyrics drawn from hardcore punk and blended with an aggressively dissonant reimagining of heavy metal.
But all good things come to end, and thrash metal’s demise, can perhaps be traced back to the Clash of the Titans Tour (featuring Slayer, Megadeth, Testament, and Suicidal Tendencies) in the autumn of 1990. Metallica had broken into the mainstream, and this Wembley Arena encompassing tour proved the starter gun for the scramble to follow suit. Shows flipped from seething stage dive filled nights at The Marquee and The Astoria, to the sanitisation of the all-seater Hammersmith Odeon. Whether knowingly or not, thrash metal’s focus was now on achieving commercial success, which led to a rapid dilution in its musical creativity. Its oppositional anger and desire to confront rapidly seeped into fuelling the burgeoning hardcore and death metal scenes, leaving thrash itself an ever-more insipid and bloated shadow of its former self.
Many of these bands have continued to plough a furrow of ever-diminishing returns, and the occasional comebacks have produced little recorded output of note (though I did find much to enjoy in Mordred’s 2021 The Dark Parade). Now, of course, music is a rather cyclical organism that draws as much on reinvention as it does on invention, and there have been various attempts by new generations to reinvigorate the thrash / crossover genre. But few have set the world afire, often feeling rather inorganic – knowing the moves, but not quite feeling them.
So, I approached Pest Control’s debut full-length Don’t Test the Pest, with a certain trepidation, although Quality Control HQ have a great feel for this space. My worries were soon tossed aside. From the electric acoustic opening to its absolutely crushing final track ‘The Great Deceiver’, this is a blistering LP. Clearly it draws on many established influences, but it is not owned by them, nor is it some pale pastiche. Instead, Pest Control have vigorously refashioned them into something vibrantly their own – a dash of Ignorance, a hint of Extreme Aggression, the fluidity of Handle with Care. The musicianship throughout is superb, but it is undeniably the vocals that hold centre stage – raw, rasping, uncompromising.
Which rather poses the question, how have Pest Control managed to successfully reanimate a seemingly moribund form? The answer came to me when I caught them live supporting Dawn Ray’d at The Lexington back in March. The joy of the band as they played their set was tangible, their relish at the call backs to their inspirations palpable. They have absorbed their influences to the point where they are now instinctual, and they can be reignited into new forms. They have the technique to play, but they also love what they play – they know and feel the moves.
The original press has sold out, but we have the repress in stock now and it, perhaps, goes without saying that it is well worth checking out.
One You May Have Missed: Positive Disintegration by Diät
‘Got a fridge full of postcards and a thousand what ifs, got a face full of creases and nothing to show for it’. The 2022 remastered repress of the 2019 modern day post-punk classic from Berlin’s Diät. Almost spoken-word vocals soberly dissect the frustrations and confusions of life’s missed opportunities and thwarted ambitions, the unwavering disappearance of time. Vibrantly plaintive guitars and urgent, surging rhythms provide the perfect sonic interplay with these poetic explorations. The only question remaining is…when did melancholy become quite so utterly infectious?
Shows and Tours
This section lays no claims to being a definitive listing! It is simply gigs coming up in London that catch my eye and that I think people who read this newsletter might be interested in. I will always try and highlight where a show forms part of a wider UK tour.
27th May Yleiset Syyt, Stingray, Rifle (New River Studios / UK Tour)
28th May Delivery, Es, Honk (Brixton Windmill)
2nd June The Flex plus support (New River Studios)
3rd June The Restarts, Destruct, Fatalist, Subdued plus more (New Cross Inn / Destruct UK Tour)
4th June GLAAS, Zeropolis, Turbo (New River Studios)
9th June Savageheads, Rat Cage, Subdued (New River Studios)
11thJune Snuff Acoustic Matinee (The Lexington)
14th June Sial, Morreadoras, Turbo (New River Studios)
14th June Terror plus support (New Cross Inn)
16th June Physique, Circle None, Skitter plus more (New Cross Inn)
17th June Keno, Nation Unrest, Can Kicker plus more (The George Tavern)
24th June Ribbon Stage, Ex-Void, R.Aggs (The Lexington)
9th July End It, Spy, Combust, Initiate plus more (New Cross Inn)
10th July Fuse, Dregs, Stingray, Antagonizm plus more (New River Studios)
18th July Doldrey, Harrowed plus more (New Cross Inn / UK Tour)
18th July Powerplant plus support (Moth Club / UK Tour)
19th July Diploid, Casing plus more (New River Studios / UK Tour)
20th July Iron Deficiency, Sentient plus more (New Cross Inn / UK Tour)
21st July Jotnarr, Wreathe, Cady (Bird’s Nest)
24th July Faim, No Man, Dying For It plus more (New Cross Inn)
4th August Gag, Plastics, TS Warspite, Unjust plus more (New Cross Inn)
5th August Knuckledust, Nine Bar, Fifty Caliber plus more (New Cross Inn)
8th August Sacred Reich plus support (The Underworld)
14th August Chat Pile, Petbrick, and Dawn Ray’d (The Dome)
9th September Big Brave, Dawn Ray’d, Ragana, Jessica Moss (Bush Hall)
15th September Cinder Well plus support (Moth Club)
Drill Sergeant ‘Grim New War’ EP (Refuse Records)
Existence ‘Go To Heaven’ LP (Quality Control HQ)
Fairytale ‘Shooting Star’ LP (Quality Control HQ)
Incendiary ‘Change The Way You Think About Pain’ LP (Closed Casket Activities)
Wolfbrigade ‘In Darkness You Feel No Regrets’ LP (Destructure)