S1. Broken Feet
S2. How Many Times?
S3. Century Beast
M1. Super Thunder Blade
M2. I Am Stone Head
These two relatively youthful UK bands give me hope for the future of this little isle's scene.
Sky:Lark! are a power trio making a healthy post-hardcore racket, like Shotmaker, Fugazi, Karp and the like. Heavy, twisty, weird song structures and riffing, all topped off with layers of angst.
Meadows combine the slow with the fast to create a riffstorm of hardcore-tinged stoner rock that is catchy, heavy and very good for you.
Ltd. to 250 copies on black.
Art by Ellie Roberts. Sleeves screened by Ben at
Split records still hold a tangible thrill, a sense of the different and exciting that catch your eye as you peruse your vinyl or CD collections. There have been some superb pairings in recent years, with love instilled into each project, and this feels the same. London based Sky:Lark take the A side with three quick blasts of post hardcore. It's all over the place, skillfully controlled to sound like it's wildly improvised - songs destruct before having a chance to get going, only to be reconstructed, and like all DIY, something has been left out or added, the ending sounding strangely the same but different. Sky:Lark are new on me, and while they're musical stylings aren't usually my thing, they sound fresh and interesting. Suffolk's Meadows are one of the most captivating of the new wave of UK heaviness, welding together and borrowing from all varieties of metal, with vigour, attack and verve. Super Thunder Blade encapsulates this consummately, emblazoning all of their beguiling craft in 80 exhilarating seconds of detonation and noise. It begins resembling the Dead Kennedys, kicks into fast hardcore, has a five second grindcore interlude blast half way through before resuming it's punk-sludge riff smash and grab raid. Their second track I Am Stone Head is slower fair; hardcore mixed with a subtle stoner rock undercurrent, again flitting between styles and distinct sections to keep you on your toes. Wonderful artwork, two vibrant UK bands, the most thrilling 1 minute 20 you'll experience in all of 2014, released on the superlative Superfi Records - go forth and invest.
The Sleeping Shaman
Two young and hungry bands, and when I say young I mean nowhere near my age, so that can be up to the early thirties. When I say hungry I mean that they’re both eager and willing to play gigs in smelly little dives and to haul their own battered amps and gear around and to play at the bottom of the bill where the headliner is unknown to 99.5 percent of the public and to feel excited about the future and believe in themselves like older bands once did before it all became a chore. This little record is held now in my hand and it’s beautiful, you should know that, it’s important, because a LOT of care and attention has gone into it and it deserves your time.
Sky:Lark! are a three piece and the first track, which is ‘Broken Feet’, simply rocks. It rocks in an off-kilter way, which is even better. I’ve seen some descriptions of their sound online and Fugazi are always mentioned, and I can hear this to be true, but also it’s not true because Sky:Lark! aren’t as clipped or as serious as Fugazi. They’re messier too. Also the vocals are nothing like Fugazi vocals, they’re more screamy and hoarse and all over the place, which is very good indeed, in fact it’s a recommendation. The guitars sound like the duelling coiling experimental guitar sound of the aforementioned hardcore legends, who I shall not mention again, and that is where the majority of the comparison is coming from I believe. ‘How Many More Times?’ continues the wonderfully inventive use of guitar strings and jerks around like a wanking chimp. The third track, ‘Centurion Beast’, on the Sky:Lark! side, which says Sky:Lark! on the centre label, is also very good indeed, particularly if you like lots of noisy bands that have emerged from the States in the wake of the Washington DC band who I have sworn not to mention again. Sterling stuff – solid, effervescent, physical yet cerebral.
Meadows are a lovable bunch of exceedingly good eggs who would certainly be on the gifted and talented list in any secondary school. They’re not that young though, as in teenage, and it’s obvious from these two tracks on their side that they have spent many studied hours listening intently to all kinds of music, which has been sucked up by their creative brains, filtered through their beards and into their own unique take on noise that lives in their heads and carefully spat out in the form of some of the most exciting ‘rock’ that I’ve personally heard from an English band in the 21st century.
As you may know, I have had ‘dealings’ with these Suffolk-bred renaissance types before, and I proudly hold up the split 12” they did with Slabdragger (whose main man, Sam Thredder, recorded and mastered their side at his Cro’s Nest studio in Croydon) on Crom, as a fucking triumph of sonic quality. The quality here does not diminish one jot though, and both ‘Super Thunder Blade’ and ‘I Am Stone Head’ encapsulate the mightily attractive Meadows sound, which is hyperactive guitar fuckery squeezed into tempo-undulating hardcore punk bluster that owes much more to math rock and left-field experimental stuff than it appears to owe to stoner rock bands, whom they sometimes get lazily described as being like.
I always love their vocals too, most of which are handled by the bassist George, because they sound so gritty and raw and strangely yearning and yet manage to sound weirdly tuneful too, in a non-tuneful way. In fact they’re aren’t like anybody really, they just sound like Meadows, which is why I loved their noise the first time I heard their debut extended play a few years back. Please please record your full length album Meadows, before you pack it in and call it a day (please don’t do that though, even though your members are often busy in other bands too). Leave the world with a record of your odd-genius and your unique take on stoner rock that doesn’t sound like stoner rock at all. Anyway, both tracks are immense and show just what Meadows could do if given the time (and the money).
With excellent cover art by Ellie May Roberts and put out by the scene stalwart and champion of underground high quality that is Mister Kunal Nandi on SuperFi Records, this split seven incher hides twelve and a half minutes of music that is worthy of anyone’s ears, and is a great package to have and to hold. Furthermore, it stands testament that UK talent is stronger than ever and worthy of a bloody good documentary like they used to do in the eighties and early nineties before the internet atomised society the way it has. Ten out of ten everybody and thumbs aloft.
More superbly heavy hardcore has landed in my lap and I’m happy for it. New split 7? on SuperFi records with both Sky:Lark! and Meadows bringing the riffs. Sky:Lark! start proceedings with a fast, heavy racket that sits right in the grey territory between post hardcore, hardcore and a bunch of other similar genres. Classifications aside, I’m more than happy to let this blast in my ears and block out any and all feelings of calm. It has just the right amount of neck breaking, muscular guitar abuse and vocalised anger to feel utterly cathartic. Meadows side starts off in a similar vein but soon grinds to a slower, heavier pace. They are channelling stoner rock straight into your brain. There’s a perfect balance between slow, heavy guitars and a super fast crunch. It just changes all of a sudden. One minute we’re listening to some intense hardcore and the next it’s slow motion head nodding while having the hair blown off your face by an intense blast of air from the speakers in front of you. Makes me want to hunt out those old Karp records. The split is out now on SuperFi records and you can hear the full things on band camp. If you like your music loud and unadulterated then you need this in your life.