Now that they’ve served up some pretty chaotic, obliterating metal so far in 2013, Southern Lord is back to the hardcore grindstone in the deepest furnace of hell, situated in their headquarters. Yes, for everyone who whined about the Lord’s foray away from doom and black metal and drone, they shut you up with Power Trip, Agrimonia, and Hessian.
But yes, Southern Lord’s heart is very much into exposing new, hellacious hardcore bands, and no matter your opinion on this direction, you have to admit they’ve done a pretty good job with their selections, especially Nails and The Secret. And honestly, there’s enough crossover appeal with the bands the label has signed that no one should really feel alienated or disenfranchised. Maybe you even discovered some bands you ordinarily would not have realized existed before had the Lord not clued you in to them, and we all could use a little variety in our lives and listening patterns. So get ready for another lesson, because there are two new albums ready to tear off your eyelids.
One band we’ve met before, that being Atlanta’s crushing Dead in the Dirt, are back with their first full-length “The Blind Hole,” a record that should make you run out of oxygen very quickly. Over the course of 22 fucking tracks, the band blasts into you over and over again, forcing you to run for cover. The blasts hit hard and fast, with most songs ending before you’ve gotten your footing, only to have the next track blast in and take over the carnage. Dead in the Dirt concentrate on socio-political commentary and straight-edge/vegan ethics, so they have something the hardcore purists will identify with, but their metallic rage is what makes them flexible enough to satisfy a metal fan.
It seems pointless to do a blow-by-blow account of this album, because many of the songs take less time to do their thing than it’ll take you to read this paragraph. As noted, there are 22 songs on this thing, and the album lasts a mere 24 minutes, so, you know, do the math. The album is a barnstormer, with songs smashing into each other and doubling up on the assault, and tracks like “Suffer,” “The Blaring Eyes,” and “Mask” demolishing you in a minute or less. When the band branches out, they do a smotheringly awesome job, especially on Converge-like “Strength Through Restraint,” the slurry, dizzying “Cop” (that concludes with a reading of Jim Harrison’s poem “Barking”), and “Halo Crown.” It’s nice that they mix up the styles and lengths of their blasts, and every moment of “The Blind Hole” is stunningly effective and wholeheartedly crushing.
Dead in the Dirt’s debut is more evidence that Southern Lord know what they’re talking about when it comes to the most volcanic bands in the hardcore underground, and this record should keep you agitated and on edge for the rest of the day. That’s not easy for a 24-minute album to accomplishment, but these guys always manage to find a way.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/deadinthedirt
Centuries are practical newcomers, with their full-length debut “Taedium Vitae” being their first release for Southern Lord and probably the first music a wider audience ever will have heard from the Florida-based band. If Dead in the Dirt’s record seemed immediate and lightning-paced, then this will feel like an explosion out of nowhere, what with all of their vitriol and punishment jammed into nine tracks that only once break the three-minute mark. If you’re into Southern Lord’s taste in hardcore, then you’re bound to be down with this album, quite obviously. They’re a younger band with a lot to prove, and while they do so on their debut, there’s also room for growth in the future. That’s a good thing, by the way. No one wants to carve out a career of treading water.
“Taedium Vitae” is an interesting debut, and it’s the sign of a band that seems to have a pretty strong formula and ambitions beyond simple violent hardcore. There is some post-rock dreaming and punk-style melodies hidden in these nine tracks, and that provides a breath of fresh air for the genre. It’s not a perfect record—some of the songs tend to blur together and sound too much alike—but it’s definitely a solid first step. Intro piece “Incipid Tragoedia” sets the stage for what follows namely the fast, throaty “Caeruleus,” that sounds like it hurt like fuck to record; the melodic twist toward the sky that is “Pessum Ire,” where the painful howls of, “I can’t feel anything!” sounds like a cry for understanding; “Grave Cordibus” is grisly and earthquaking, with stunning D-beat smoke that blankets your face; and “Irrita,” a song that shows some progressive tendencies, a willingness to explore their artistic side, and true signs that this could be a band to watch in the future as they form into a more destructive machine.
Centuries have room to grow for sure, and from the sounds of their 20-minute debut album, they won’t have any problems branching out and exploring their full potential. I could see this band blossoming into something like a Deafheaven-style band, a group that always will have a throrny demeanor but will find new and colorful ways to express their cascading emotion.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/centuriesfl
To buy either album, go here: http://southernlord.com/store.php
For more on the label, go here: http://southernlord.com/