Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Iron Witch / The Atrocity Exhibit split

Well, you know it's got to be special to reanimate Thee Claw. fresh off the presses, a joint (no pun intended) release from British underground heavyweights Iron Witch and The Atrocity Exhibit, released in conjunction with Dead Chemist Records and Witch Hunter Records.
Two slabs of prime British sludge.  So what do we have?

Unfortunately, I managed to miss Iron Witch on their recent jaunt around these isles with the godfathers of heavy, Crowbar, and it's a real shame because they have matured so much since the I reviewed their 2011 ep Single Malt, and considering they are local lads I am still yet to witness them live.
Their work rate is phenomenal and they have honed their craft whilst touring with some of the real heavy hitters out there, doing it properly by getting in the van and getting a sweat on in some real shitholes.
Their track on this split is a tortured riff beast, the unquestionable sheer emotion of the lyrics spat out by Chris over some tremendous, glacial riffing from Sam and Dan.  As ever, Will's powerful stick work locks in tightly with the almost third guitar sounding bass of Rick, propelling the whole thing forward at a Grief-like pace.  Iron Witch are the hardest working band in the country, who are carving out their own style and sound, and it's great to see their name falling into every day parlance amongst sludge fans.
The Atrocity Exhibit come from a more grind-oriented angle, attacking their side with a seething brutality that builds from a wall of feedback with the sound of a heart stopping sampled over the top, into an evil sounding riff, as if the two bands have got together first to have a heaviest riff competition.
The Northampton three-piece really strip their sound back on this, a really primitive sounding track that confines the listener thanks in no small part to the massive production on this track from Ian Boult.  When it starts to pick up pace, with some pounding drums from Danny Curtis, it's a pummeling that leads into a section with some punishing, stop-start dynamics. Ending with a bang after some sustained feedback, this is my first exposure to The Atrocity Exhibit and has got me wanting more.

Available from:

Go see:

Friday, 3 January 2014

Best of 2013

2013 has been a bit of a mixed bag, outside of Thee Claw.
There's been a number of issues that have affected me in my personal life, meaning that after a pretty strong start to the year, things kind of petered out a little bit towards the middle and latter parts of the year, being unemployed for about six months meant that any plans we had to get to festivals (including Brofest - still gutted about that) were put on ice, but at least I managed to make it along to see Sabbath with Ozzy, who did not disappoint!
There are other things that quite frankly don't need to be brought up on here, if you know me, you'll understand why Thee Claw, which is a labour of love for me, had to take a back seat for a while.

Anyway! There were numerous release that I have enjoyed immensely this year, the best of which are in a big, long, unordered list below.

To everyone I dealt with via this website over the past 12 months, keep it up, you're the best.
 Here's to a boss 2014 - hope to see some of you out and about over the course of it!

Bölzer - Aura
Satanic Dystopia - Double Denim Shotgun Massacre 
The Jeffrey UppercutLive Hard
BeastwarsBlood Becomes Fire
Opium LordThe Calendrical Cycle - Prologue:The Healer 
 Master - The Witchhunt
Crypt Lurker - Baneful Magic, Death Worship and Necromancy Rites Archaic 
Pestilence - Obsideo 
Dashwood (EP)
Darkthrone - Underground Resistance 
Wraiths - S/T EP
Ghold - Galactic Hiss 
Uzala - Tales of Blood and Fire
Artillery - Legions
Black Magician - The Pursuivant 
Motörhead - Aftershock 
Altar of Plagues - Teethed Glory and Injury 
Cathedral - The Last Spire 
Seagraves - Weight of the World 
Iron Hearse Get in the Hearse 
Suicidal Tendencies - 13 
Gurt/Limb - Split 
Black Sabbath - 13 
Suffocation - Pinnacle of Bedlam 
Electric Taurus - Veneralia 
Trouble - The Distortion Field 
 Portal - Vexovoid 
 Complete Failure - The Art Gospel of Aggravated Assault 
Koresh Chump 
Manilla Road - Mysterium 
Sodom - Epitome of Torture 
Biche EP 
Deicide - In the Minds of Evil

Monday, 14 October 2013

Killing Technology

We're having some problems with our domain name of http://theeclaw.com at the moment, so if you could all point your browsers to http://theeclaw.blogspot.com for the next few days that would be grand.

In order to stop this just being a repeat of something we've already posted on Facebook, can I direct you all to this?

Sunday, 13 October 2013

The Devils Ride Out - Ninkharsag, Crypt Lurker, Coltsblood & Cult of the Head - 1 November, The Pilgrim in Liverpool

"While the crowd had been busy at the tables, their leaders had donned fantastic costumes. One had a huge cat mask over his head and a furry cloak, the tail of which dangled behind him on the ground; another wore the headdress of a repellent toad; the face of a third, still masked, gleamed bluish for a moment in the candlelight from between the distended jaws of a wolf, and Mocata, whom they could still recognise by his squat obesity, now had webbed wings sprouting from his shoulders which gave him the appearance of a giant bat."

Crypt Lurker - Baneful Magic, Death Worship and Necromancy Rites Archaic

"My hour is almost come, When I to sulphurous and tormenting flames must render up myself."

Whilst the metal world delights in the occult rock false doom of bands like Ghost and Uncle Acid, sombre, atramentous types have been gathering in the dark, harking back to traditional, funereal death/doom and writing tunes to make toes curl.
Crypt Lurker are one such band, drawing together elements from all dark corners of the metal world, the stygian crawl of Burning Witch, the sprawling emptiness of dISEMBOWELMENT and the harsh cold of early Darkthrone but carving their own niche with so much more than spectres of the nineties.
Opening with the mesmerising riff of "Shadowclad, Pale", Crypt Lurker conjure up a thick atmosphere, punctured by a tolling bell and ghastly vocals.This dreadful, cloying feel continues into "Bearer of the Two Torches", resulting in almost twenty minutes of slow, downtuned riffing, before the relatively short "Crossing the Abysmal Depths" with it's wardrum-style introduction, strangely majestic feel and sound of buried strings prepares the way for the epic EP closer “To the Piping of Two Amorphous Idiot Flute-Players” - a ten minute-plus journey into some form of Lovecraftian nightmare.
This is real death/doom, and should be as much of a fist in the face of metal that the Peaceville Three were to an equally unimaginative scene in their day.

Crypt Lurker have been making a name for themselves playing with the likes of Black Magician, Dragged into Sunlight and so forth, and this 12" EP is out in strictly limited numbers from Ulthar Records, to be pressed on CD by Mordgrimm Records later this month.


Limb / Gurt - Split Roast EP

Frightening the neighbours courtesy of Witch Hunter Records is the new combined release from Gurt and Limb - and what a release, really showcasing where sludge is at in the UK right now. Each band has contributed an original track, a cover version, and then covered a track by the other band on the split - resulting in a unique, varied selection.
Gurt kick off the proceedings with new song "Sophisticate" Southern style sludge boogie that barrels along nicely and gets your head nodding and foot tapping (I even broke into some air drumming),  and their cover of Limb's "Gift of the Sun" is transformed into a fuzz-heavy whirlwind of a track,  but the strangely jarring cover of Talking Head's "Psycho Killer" is an unexpected highlight here - it lends itself to the heaviness in a way that I would never imagine, breaking down into a middle-of-the-pit stomp at the end. Most interesting.

Long time Claw favourites Limb debut a new track, "Plague Doctor", a mid paced barnstormer with casual, nodding Sabbath tones giving way to a heads-down middle section that picks up the pace a slightly before shuddering to a halt like a jack-knifing truck. Lesser-known Queen track "Son and Daughter" gets the fuzz treatment here, mutating into a riff-heavy, howling phantom of it's original version. Brian May on spacecakes. The EP closes with Limb covering Gurt's sweary "Soapfeast" and putting their own stamp all over it, then dragging it to it's feet and stamping on it again.

All in all, WHR have put together two of the most interesting sludge bands in the UK at the moment and done something fresh and new - a new highlight in an already impressive catalogue.

Get yourself over here for limited edition handmade CDs, NOW.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

You heard them here first (maybe)....

Bonded by Bundy are going to be brilliant.

Tree of Sores

As you know, we have been great advocates of British psychedelic doom band Tree of Sores since their very early days, so it is with heavy heart indeed that we read the following update.

[Tree of Sores]..is dead.
Sadly we are splitting up with immediate effect. One member has made some poor decisions and these have reflected on the band in a way which we cannot tolerate. We have considered continuing with a new member but this doesn't feel right. Obviously this is a sad decision for us, and me personally as I care a lot about this band. However it is because I hold the band in such high regard that I feel we have to split up.
We thank everyone that has given us so much support over the last 4 years and also those who have made positive comments about our music. It means a lot that we have affected people in the way we wanted our music to. Most thanks must go to Chris at Witch Hunter Records and Timo at Alerta Antifascista, their support has been brilliant and I love those guys. Please show them your support by buying our records as no doubt there won't be any more coming out. Obviously we will be unable to fulfill our upcoming gig commitments so also our apologies go the promoters we will be letting down.

All the best,


To say that we are gutted here at Claw Towers would be an understatement - I actually put off publishing the review of their first release because I had to be sure that it was actually that good. A shame - get them on and get it loud.

Confine - Setting Fire to the Western Hemisphere

In the vein of powerviolence bands like Infest et al, Confine's Setting Fire to the Western World is a 100 mile an hour attack that just seethes - even when they slow to a glacial crawl on Abstraction, it serves to intensify the feeling of anger apparent throughout the tracks on offer.

Eight songs in seven minutes - if you like your hardcore fast and grinding, then this staccato outing is just what you need.

Think along the lines of Total Fucking Destruction etc and you'll be in the ballpark.

Available now from the ever reliable Witch Hunter Records.

The Coffeen - You Must Be Certain of the Coffeen

I must admit to having written and then re-written the opening paragraph to this review around five times, as this album is a bit of an odd fish.

Hailing from Italy, The Coffeen mix together Sabbath sensibilities and Misfits-style horror punk to create an almost unique take on stoner/doom - and it works really well.
I must admit that when I heard album opener Zombies for Breakfast, I wasn't too sure - but when Fistfuck Rising stormed in I changed my mind immediately.
Fuzz-laden guitar tones abound, with the bass pushed right up in the mix, this is a release sure to leave you with a grin on your face - there's even a good few Tom G Warrior style UGH!s thrown in for good measure.
As I said before, the music is a mix of horror-punk and doom, which might seem like uneasy bedfellows at first but listening to the album will dispel any worries you might have, as The Coffeen mix their influences and come out on the other side with a sound that is all their own; part rock album, part horror film soundtrack.
I absolutely love the Saint Vitus/Black Flag style closer When the Telephone Doesn't Ring.
Great stuff!

Italian label Moonlight Records have put this out, and they seem to be putting together a varied and impressive roster over there - click away and check 'em out.

Koresh - Chump

Like a punch in the face, Koresh don't fuck about, straight up hateful, bass heavy sludge with a definite tongue in the ol' cheek as embodied on the cover.
With song titles like Straightedge Til Midnight and the inspired You Can Call Me Gaahl, you might be pretty sure what to expect from this London quintet.

No-messing  sludgecore in the vein of Charger or Black Eye Riot, that good old English tradition like drinking white cider on the Waltzers in the rain. You know what you are going to get from Koresh, and I know that you need it. The songs are all short and to the point - no need for drawn out riffing here.
Chump barrels into your life like amphetamine paranoia - when I imagine them playing live I imagine it looking like a fight in a cartoon - a big cloud of dust with the occasional fist, headstock or drumstick coming out.



Electric Taurus - Veneralia

In the press release for Veneralia, Ireland's Electric Taurus claim that they aren't trying to reinvent the wheel, nor would they want to. And they are right - why would anyone want to reinvent the wheel when it rolls like this? Wearing their influences on their sleeves, this is a Sabbath infused, Pentagram like romp through some familiar ground, yet still full of surprises (see Prelude to the Madness)
With a crisp, clean production and an all round feel good factor, this is just the kind of thing to get your foot tapping along with a couple of beers.
Very bluesy in places, with some excellent bass work and drumming that underpins the guitar, this is an excellent release that I'd proudly file next to Orange Goblin or Spiritual Beggars in my collection.

For anyone who is sick of occult rock - and that's got to be a fair few of you! - you could do a lot worse than track down this slab of trad doom, it's nice to see a modern, doom style band that look beyond Sabbath for inspiration.

Great stuff!

Electric Taurus:

Ghold - Galactic Hiss

The second release from new label Baitin' the Trap Records is a three track EP from London's Ghold, entitled Galactic Hiss.
Don't le the fact that there's only three songs on here kid you, it checks in at a mammoth twenty-odd minutes, the duo (I seem to be receiving a lot of work from duos recently. I like it.) laying down some frankly frightening work in the bottom end heavy sludge camp, drenched in feedback and dripping in atmosphere, like an even more stripped-down Tree of Sores or an impromptu Neurosis practice jam, and with some biker space rock sensibilities thrown in for good measure.

Vocals put me in mind of early nineties UK death/doom which gives them that kind of tortured, windswept feel, in fact, the whole opening track This Suffering Must End puts me in mind of that whole early nineties Northern English Doom, but caked in a grime that those acts most certainly didn't have, dragging itself out, and dragging itself inside out, long enough to become trance-like in its droning.
There's some quite unusual arrangement and production; pushing the vocals into an almost supporting role at times behind thick basslines and off-kilter drumming, before the vocals come back to the fore.
Most unsettling.
Any notion that you might have that they are some form of doom shoegazers is blown clear out of the window with the rollicking Elvira - a storming five minutes of total space rock and excellent drumming with almost chanted vocals.  The space communion continues with the closing track Grievous Practitioner - like a cross between Eyehategod and Hawkwind.  Utter biker filth - I love it.

The EP is up for pre order on Baitin' the Trap Records from October the 1st and goes on sale on October 28th.
Ghold are definitely a name that I'll be keeping an eye on, and if all BTTR's releases are going to continue in this vein, then I'll be keeping my other eye on them!
(and I think that cover art is something else!)

Baitin’ The Trap Records -

Ghold - gholdband@gmail.com

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Wraiths - 2012 EP

Yeah I slept on it.
But It's here now.
Hailing from North East England, when a band has a logo like that and has song titles like Church Burner, they better be good, and they don't disappoint, although they might not be what you'd immediately expect. Their 2012 EP has been given a 2013 release by Witch Hunter Records
five tracks of metallic hardcore, true crossover, with churning guitars and hectic vocals.

Each song pummels you into submission, just when you think you are getting a handle on it, it will twist off into some other direction leaving you chasing after it.
Wraiths obviously have a lot of disparate influences, all of which come together in a claustrophobic manner on this EP, yet are hard to separate and identify, as the band have forged their own identity.

Hardcore kids will love it, executing spinning roundhouses and flailing into each other, metal heads can headbang to it, you can all slam into each other using it as a soundtrack.
There is a definite negativity permeating the songs and the sound of the band - you can sense the antagonism building at the start of Hell Ride - flattening you into the ground so that when the quiet section comes in you are completely unprepared for it, but anticipating the mosh part that you know will follow.

Album closer Monolith is a seven minute plus Darkcore epic, travelling through different musical themes and tempos, but is a strangely cathartic experience, as is the whole EP, proof that there may yet be strength through negativity.

Grab yourself a tape, a download or a bundle NOW.

Satanic Dystopia - Double Denim Shotgun Massacre

There's so much talk of "real" and "true" in heavy metal these days, in particular within Black Metal.
Nowhere else in the world of music is the integrity of musicians called into question so often, and it's always more so within Black Metal.
I can always remember the feelings of distrust towards posers in the eighties; we always knew that the likes of Winger were lame, but never did we question whether, for instance, Overkill were posers because they had a neon green logo, or whether Nuclear Assault were taking the piss with "The Mister Softee Theme". They were Thrash bands, our bands, and that was all that mattered.
Even when Death Metal was the underground's cause célèbre (the first time around), nobody questioned the jazz-inspired Disharmonic Orchestra, or the sci-fi sound effects of Nocturnus; it was just Death Metal, our Death Metal, and we lapped it up.
Once the Black Metal frost started to travel across the North Sea in the very early nineties, in what was undoubtedly sloganeering, the motives of these earlier bands were called into question by the mysterious voices from Scandinavia - bands appearing onstage in jogging pants? Posers.  Entombed? Shit. Glen Benton? A phony.
I can still remember reading an interview with Fenriz of Darkthrone in Bleak Horizons 'zine where he said they disowned their debut album and that their next LP, A Blaze in the Northern Sky, should be considered their "true" début.  Black Metal it was, at the expense of all else, Hail Satan.
By the time the Arnopp article went out in 93, Black Metal was almost done.  The bands had settled into arguing and (literal) backstabbing, and existing bands either co-opted the look, if not the music, and countless impersonators were forming bands all over the world.
For me this was always the problem with post-93 Black Metal; bands were trying to be Black Metal, with little or no understanding of the pedigree that had gone before.
No understanding of Persecution Mania.
No understanding of Master's Hammer.  No idea about Flag of Hate. No isolation, just a sensational article and an instant scene, and instant finger pointing and accusations of what is true, and what is "kvlt", from people who didn't get it.
That's what I always looked for in later Black Metal, not who was "true", not who was "real", but who got it.  What bands got Black Metal, bands who gave me that feeling of hearing stuff for the first time all over again.  Which brings me to today, to the here and now, and to Satanic Dystopia's Double Denim Shotgun Massacre.
They undoubtedly get it.  From the moment you are greeted with creeping feedback and Christopher Lee explaining the nature of evil, you are entering into a world that is within modern metal, but not part of it.
Satanic Dystopia have a sound that whilst lo-fi, eschews what people think is black metal, the washed out, trebley sound of Norway, for an altogether more fuzzy, low-end heavy sound more reminiscent of the South American death-thrash bands that came before.
Vocals sound as though they were recorded in a basement or cellar, and are an altogether more violent, guttural sound than the high pitched screams that the genre relies on so much, think more like Grave Desecrator's Butcherazor. Absolute teutonic riffery and the a love of all that is dark - halfway through Blood Spit and Concrete, they break into a synchronised head banging section with a sample of dialogue that just sets the scene completely - "Go out of the room. Take the children out of the room".
There is a rich vein of Thrash metal running through all the songs, if they are in danger of becoming to epic or stale they are instantly reined in and a tempo change takes place, or a riff re-appears from earlier, even though all the tracks are mercilessly short, none of them actually feel as if they are less than three minutes long.
If you want a heavy metal album that makes you want to bang your head and streetfight, rather than put on a cloak and live in a cave, this is the one for you.

I can remember the first time I heard Hell Awaits all the way through and I just sat there in silence afterwards, knowing I had taken a step further than I'd ever been before.
Satanic Dystopia make me feel just like that again.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Electricjezus - Грязь поколений

The pain... the pain of being dead!

Electricjezus are brilliant, and utterly bonkers.
I think that in Britain, we have an affinity for things that are slightly eccentric and off the wall, as such when I first received an email from Electricjezus guitarbass(you will understand shortly)/ vocalist Ruslan, my interest was definitely aroused:
The group consist of 2 people, but a set of instruments remains classical – guitar, drums, bass. It became possible by installing single bass pickup in the neck of guitar. Also we use a very thick strings for best bass sound and use two 22” rides or piece of metal for hi hat.
So what do we have? A record, recorded completely live, using whatever instruments were at hand.
This is the type of thing that we used to go nuts for in the early days of Thee Claw, yet this kind of thing has been overtaken in our every day listening for some reason.
But not for any longer, as I am floored by this recording and it's unique charm.
Inbetween the songs are samples from horror movies, eerie, hideous bursts of laughter in the spaces between pummelling riffs and rolling drums.
Lyrics are recorded entirely in Russian, giving an otherworldly feel to the screamed and growled vocals.  The album's name translates as Mud of Generations, and you have a good, solid hybrid of the likes of Melvins, Today is the Day and Fudge Tunnel with old Soviet synthesizers and creepy old pianos in the mix too.  Oleg's drumming blazes ahead, and you get a real idea of the guys playing together in a cold rehearsal space, using whatever they can lay their hands on to create a maelstrom of riffery.
Absolutely brilliant.

Make your way over to http://electricjezus.bandcamp.com/


Meddy (drums) and Loïck (guitar & vocals) are Biche; a sludge duo from Riems in France, and this self released album has them plying their wares across six tracks.
I can just imagine them recording this facing each other as they play through each song, stretching out the riffs and splashing the cymbals everywhere.
Opener Agrafe-moi les couilles sur une table à repasser gives way to the more frantic 75 seconds of SUSU! and across these two tracks you get a taster of what Biche are about.
For a duo, they certainly get the ol' foot tapping, ears straining to understand Loïck's gravelly vocals over the fuzzed up guitar.  A very focussed recording that sounds surprisingly warm yet sparse.
6 Millions starts slowly – but  Loïck is on fine form vocally, tortuous rasping screams giving a proper sludge edge to proceedings.
Closing with the gritty, foreboding Un bon dimanche, this release is a very enjoyable introduction to the French duo, I'll be keeping an eye on them! 

Artaius - The Fifth Season

This is the début album from Italy's Artaius, containing a number of different moods and even musical styles, a great way to start off our return to reviewing with such an eclectic record.
On Italy's Moonlight Records, The Fifth Season is probably best described as a progressive-folk-metal album, although those three terms tacked together don't do it any justice.
The folk overtones come from some of the more unconventional (in metal, at least) tones of the flute and violin, which give an almost mediaeval feel to passages in the music.
Sara Cucci's vocals float over the wistful, folksy melodies provided as a backdrop by the rest of the band, who will step sideways freely to more metallic sounds frequently.
There would always be the possibility of such a juxtaposition sounding forced, but not here.
There is an almost Genesis/early Marillion-esque feel to the keyboards at least in some places (see the festival sing-along of Over the Edge, for instance), and there are even elements of Jazz present in places, and sombre piano sections.
The flute doesn't sound out of place here, often trading off passages against the keyboard, and it got me thinking of appearances of woodwind in metal – surely there's not too many?
I'm prepared to be wrong though. La Vergine E Il Lupo is the stand-out track for me, showcasing everything about the band in just under five minutes.
All in all, a very European romp through some sounds probably not visited too often by Thee Claw – but a refreshing change!

Available through Moonlight Records (Italy)

Beastwars – Blood Becomes Fire

Let the Soul Awaken!

New Zealand's Beastwars return with the follow up to their critically acclaimed (not least of all by us) self-titled release, and what a follow up it is.
With Dale Cotton sitting in the chair again, the band ensconced themselves in the studio and have bettered themselves yet again with this collection of tracks.
Straight from the off, Dune conjures up images of a stricken shuttle burning it's way through the atmosphere of a desert planet, it's horrified crew staring out of view-holes as they cling on for dear life. Matt's vocals boom out from within the band, Nathan pounding the kit in time with James rumbling through the basslines, as Clayton riffs over the top sounding like a room full of guitarists.
I've seen many bands and many in-vogue styles of metal come and go, but it's been a while since a band has come along that I can just sit back, close my eyes and create movies in my mind's eye as I listen to their records.  Beastwars do just that to me, a tradition carrying on from the last album into this one.  That's not to mean that it's business as usual – obviously, expect the fuzz laden sounds that we are used to, but the record just sounds more mature and rounded than the self-titled release did.
On Caul of Time, Matt's vocals take on a tortured, wailing feel in places as the band chug away behind him, before coming to the fore to work the riff into your mind.
The album closes with The Sleeper – an epic, slightly trippy track that gradually distorts and mutates into a writhing beast of flailing bass strings and lead guitar breaks. 

Beyond Description – An Elegy for Depletion

With a seemingly eternal career, Japan's Beyond Description step up to offer up some pretty powerful thrash metal, in the great eighties sense, none of this modern nonsense here.
As you may be aware, I'm not a big fan of modern-sounding thrash metal, which is why the likes of Beyond Description and the UK's Hybris appeal so much to me.
Breakneck drumming here and fast picking are the order of the day here, Hideyuki's vocal delivery is very clear, more Tom Araya than Mille Petrozza.
As with most of my favourite thrash, the music is given plenty of room to breathe, it's a very guitar-oriented album although Hiroshi's drumming is a joy to listen to and holds the songs together tightly. As with all classic thrashers, the mosh parts contain lead breaks – I absolutely love it!
Arbitrage is probably the stand-out track on the album for me, early Sepultura style riffing giving way to a No-Remorse style mosh part before plunging head first back into the speed riffs, although Provocation (in which Yusuke's bass is given more space to make itself heard) is also a top-rate track, and just listen to the drumming on Purpose!
Great stuff, out now on Punishment 18 Records.