The staying power of Holy Roar Records’ current roster has only been amplified by the furious metallic hardcore of Ithaca. As you might have you seen from our review of their stunning LP The Language Of Injury, these young and boisterous noisemakers make heartache heavier than ever; their picks for this Anatomy Of making perfect sense when you digest the piercing and emotive metalcore on record. One of the standout releases of the year early on, make sure you make time for Holy Roar’s new noisy bunch.
Public Enemy – Fear of a Black Planet (Sam Chetan-Welsh, Guitar)
When you’re a sad, isolated pre-greebo first dabbling in heavy music, it’s easy to underestimate the power of those albums that act as the bridge between the music you listened to with your parents and the music that becomes a formative part of your new identity. As well as the usual suspects like Nevermind and the first Slipknot album, Fear of a Black Planet was a turning point that left an indelible mark on me.
When you listen to this album the reasons for this become clear- I still think it’s overwhelmingly heavy. The production of the “Bomb Squad,” in the aptly named “Golden Age” before litigious record companies killed the sampling free-for-all of the mid to late ’80s, is just deafening- glitching, noise, dissonance, bass, cacophony. The Prince guitar sample in “Brothers Gonna Work It Out” is so heavy that on a number of occasions I used it as a gateway to heavy music for hip-hop loving classmates. Meanwhile, Chuck D’s lyrical delivery is so authoritative and politically-charged as to be genuinely scary. His lyrics were a key part of teenage-me’s angsty political awakening which has been a major part of my life ever since.
Rush – Hemispheres (Red Sismey, bass)
I cannot overstate the importance of Rush in my life. No matter what mood I am in, what time of year it is, what other music I have been exposed to recently they have forever been the one band I go back to and just bask in their genius. Hemispheres is even more special to me as it is literally the greatest album of all time and has shaped so much of my musical landscape it’s not even funny. A-side filled with a single track referencing Greek mythology as allegories for modern ills and the balance of man’s innermost desires? Yes, please. B-side featuring three tracks of wall-to-wall riffs balanced with delicate melody and mind-shattering technical ability? Fuck aye! Everything from the aggressive yet rounded bass tone, the guitar wizardry, the controlled and impeccable drum work, to the direct yet fantastically image driven lyrics; all of these elements combine to make a perfect record for my tastes. I learned so much about composition, phrasing, melody, aggression, you name it, just from this album alone. It is a testament to its effects on not only my musical taste and playing style but also to the way it changed my life in general that I can confidently say that now, even over twenty years after I first heard it, I will never tire of it.
Mogwai – Mr. Beast (James Lewis, drums)
It’s difficult to pick between something that has purely sparked interest in drumming or has been a major influence in song composition. There are several bands like Planet X or Meshuggah where double-pedal drumming is taken to new levels of independence with alternating foot patterns combined with time variations. This style of playing has always excited me, and I was fortunate to work with a teacher that was pushing the boundaries in this format as well.
However, I want to pick an album I truly love which is Mr. Beast by Mogwai. I am terrible at finding new bands and sounds so this one was a recommendation from our guitarist Sam when we were growing up. The album flows so brilliantly, and the drums create such an atmospheric cacophony but then scale back to this effortless beat to let other instruments shine. It’s probably also the reason I am always drawn to the biggest and splashiest cymbal you can find!
From Autumn To Ashes – Too Bad You’re Beautiful (Djamila Azzouz, Vocals)
I think everyone I know (particularly my bandmates) are sick of me talking about this band by now. When I was maybe twelve or thirteen, my older brother gave me a mix cd of music his friends were sharing around at the time (shout out to soulseek) and it had a bunch of amazing stuff on it like early Killswitch Engage, 7 Angels 7 Plagues and Deftones, and I think maybe this whole entire album was on it too. It was a really big CD, how the hell did they fit so much on?
This band were my first introduction into metalcore I guess, and it went on to shape my music taste as I grew up. I was young and already big into nu-metal and had the wallet chain to prove it, but this was the first time I’d heard heavy music played in this way.
The opening track “The Royal Crown vs Blue Duchess” just punches you in the face and has a tilting slow breakdown that still blows my mind. This was also the first time I’d properly heard singing and harsh vocals together and it changed everything for me. The lyrics are very of their time, super metaphorical and over the top and the way they meld cleaner guitar tones with almost black metal style tremelo picking was pretty ground breaking for me. They take you on an emotional journey through the whole album, which is something we always try and do with our own music. Is it any wonder metalcore is experiencing such a huge revival right now? Of course not.
The Hope Conspiracy – Endnote (Djamila Azzouz, Vocals)
You know when you’ve had a few beers with your mates and there’s always that one same argument you end up having? Ours is always on the best Hope Conspiracy album. I don’t think anyone I know really has the same answer, and that’s a testament to what a ridiculously good band they are/were. I feel like they were overlooked during what should have been their peak by a bunch of other bands with a similar vibe, and it’s a bit sad that people are only appreciating them now – but at least they’re getting some credit. They did more for hardcore in a couple of years than some of their peers couldn’t do in a decade. This band are probably the reason I have such a soft spot for heavy as fuck metallic riffs with super clean and bright production, they just make it sound so good. They manage to mix straight hardcore with a level of density and complexity that’s actually quite difficult – it’s pure adrenaline and emotion at the same time. If they ever decide to come back to the UK, hold my bag. And my glasses actually. And probably don’t expect to see me until the end, if I even make it out alive.