Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Rival Schools - Found

In the music business there are certain releases that have their own legendary status due to their rarity or in some cases their complete unavailability. Being an avid collector I'll admit I've fallen into the trap of becoming overly excited when a supposed "lost recording" is found and finally released, the reality though rarely matches up to the myth. In real terms "lost recordings" aren't ever really lost, half of the time they are ideas the artist doesn't have faith in and scraps personally and if thats not the case the album is held back by the record company due to red tape, funding issues or a lack of faith on the record label's part. Hardcore veteran Walter Schreifels is no stranger to the world of "lost recordings" as his long spanning career in the hardcore rock scene will attest to. In his time in the music business he has started many projects but each time he gets started for one reason or another they disband. In a way this has been a blessing and a curse, none of his material or any of his projects can claim to have outstayed their welcome, each of them leaving behind a legacy of succint releases. The downside of course is that just as you get a taste for something it disappears off the map for good.

Rival Schools first appeared on the music scene in the early noughties, a bleak time for commercial alternative music. Their first album "United By Fate" was a critically acclaimed masterpiece mixing the technical elements and harsh guitar work of nineties hardcore and mixing it with more indie rock sensibilities. Soon after "United By Fate" Rival Schools like many of Walter's projects was disbanded. It was over a decade before they finally reconvened and followed up "United By Fate" in 2011 with another glorious album in the form of "Pedals". Before the band disbanded however they had already entered the studio having written a second full length already, "Found" is basically the result of these sessions. Whilst many of these "lost recordings" are merely quick cash ins for record companies "Found" actually bucks this trend delivering on years of whispered hype and anticipation. There are some points in which easy comparisons and links can be made between tracks on "Found" and material from "Pedals" but this proves to add to the albums depth, allowing the listener see the different steps in the bands creative process. The exclusive material is just as rewarding incorporating the usual distorted spacey guitar sounds and Walter's trademark husky vocals. Overall "Found" is much more than a quick cash in on Rival Schools reputation but an album that has a perfect place in the bands impressive back catalogue.

The album is available for download via i-tunes and other download services or alternatively it is available on 12" from the bands website. I highly recommend you take the time to find it. You won't be disappointed.

Buy it on vinyl:

Zozobra - Savage Masters

Zozobra is just one of the multitude of projects that sprung from Cave In's 3 year hiatus. The band is the brainchild of Caleb Scofield, Cave In and Old Man Gloom bassist and background vocalist, and since its inception in 2006 it has provided Scofield with the opportunity to be in complete creative control. The end result is sludge that is by turns hypnotic and visceral. In 2009 Cave In reconvened and it seemed as though Zozobra and the other solo projects the band members started in their break would possibly end up falling by the wayside. This fear became even more close to becoming a reality when Old Man Gloom returned from their 8 year hiatus last year to release 2012's album "NO".  However 5 years on from their stellar sophomore album "Bird Of Prey" Zozobra have decided to return at last with a new LP aptly titled "Savage Masters".

Unlike previous efforts the music on "Savage Masters" is more hectic and raw than ever, the walls of pummeling sludgey distorted riffs matched with frantic drumming and Scofields trademark hoarse roar makes for uneasy listening. Yet the straight forward approach makes this oddly one of the bands most accessible releases to date. Whilst "Bird Of Prey" and "Harmonic Tremors" seemed to have more of a focus on atmosphere "Savage Masters" really strips back on subtlety in favour of fierce grinding hardcore. Some trademarks remain firmly in place like the bands bass heavy sound, but the spacey atmospheric builds and clean vocals have all ended up on the cutting room floor this time around. This makes "Savage Masters" a completely different ballgame to the band's previous works and easily their heaviest to date. The non stop barrage of fuzzy riffs and drum rolls makes for a refreshing change but also unfortunately drains some of the more characterful aspects of Zozobra's work that saw the band experiment with more grandiose and epic slowburners. The only other criticism is that after 5 years "Savage Masters" feels somewhat too short with only six tracks some of which scrape in under the 3 minute mark. Other than that though "Savage Masters" doesn't disappoint, delivering punishing sludge dirge after dirge.

The album is available on vinyl through Brutal Panda records or as a download for digital junkies at the following links. I would highly recommend it.

Buy On Vinyl: