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I’ll just come right out and say it to set the tone of this post: Quorthon is arguably the single most influential person in extreme metal. I could name at least two genres and countless bands that would not be the same – let alone even exist – had he not decided to get drunk and record Bathory’s self-titled debut in 1984. Taking thrash, speed metal, classic heavy metal, and even NWOBHM and pasting it with imagery so vivid as that of Mercyful Fate and Venom circa the early-1980’s and lyrical themes from years even before that, then mashing it all up in a mix of static, fuzz, and reverb he had essentially invented black metal. Sure, Celtic Frost, Hellhammer, and the oft-venerated Venom were around or had been recording in the same era (Celtic Frost’s Morbid Tales was recorded around the time Bathory was released and Hellhammer had been playing some very thrashy first-wave black metal since 1983, eventually to disband and become Celtic Frost), but the spirit of what black metal was to become was most definitely in the sound that Bathory developed. The genre is essentially a mangled spin-off of thrash – especially in its early days – but Bathory helped to bring it to places that would really change the game for this fledgling sound, and long after Quorthon had moved onto bigger and better things his creation flourished, for better or worse.

Rather than get into an argument over the details of the…

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Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of January 22, 2013. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

Aaron Neville – My True Story (Blue Note Records)
Adam Ant – Adam Ant Is The BlueBlack Hussar In Marrying The Gunner’s Daughter (R.E.D. Distribution)
Alasdair Roberts & Friends – A Wonder Working Stone (1-2-3-4-GO!)
Bad Religion – True North (Epitaph)
Biome – Swamped (Mindset)
Boddika – Soul What (Remixes) (Swamp 81)
Camper Van Beethoven – La Costa Perdida (429 Records)
Carrie Rodriguez – Give Me All You Got (Ninth Street Opus)
Cluekid – Dolphin/Fossil (Aquatic Lab)
Continents – Idle Hands (Victory Records)
Corner Crooks – Timetravel (Footsteppa Records)
Dante – November Red (Massacre Records)
Darius Rucker – True Believers (Capitol Records Nashville)
Dawn Richard – Goldenheart (101 Distribution)
DRGN KING – Paragraph Nights (Bar None Records) Irving Tan
Envinya – Inner Silence (Massacre Records)
Esben And The Witch – Wash The Sins Not Only The Face (Matador Records)
Everything Everything – Arc (RCA)
Fall City Fall – Victus (Victory Records)
FaltyDL – Hardcourage (Ninja Tune)
Fidlar – Fidlar (Mom & Pop Music)
For All I Am – Skinwalker (Equal Vision Records)
Foxygen – We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic (Jagjaguwar)
Gary Allen – Set You Free (MCA Nashville)
God Module – Empath 2.0 (Metropolis Records)
The Growlers – Hung At Heart (Everloving)
Guided By Voices – Down By The Racetrack (GBV Inc)

10. Rush – Clockwork Angels

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Rush’s latest musical endeavor was without a doubt one of the most highly anticipated albums of the year. Clockwork Angels, at its core, is a reflection of both the trio’s past artistic accomplishments as well as their latest aspirations. It’s a musical collage of both old and new characteristics, formulating yet another captivating release from the biggest name in Progressive Rock today. Clockwork Angels shows Rush returning yet again to a conceptual theme, one that revolves around a young man’s quest through a world consumed by chaos. We, as the listeners, journey along with him, encountering pirates, anarchists, exotic carnivals, as well as discovering lost cities and everything else that inhabits this peculiar realm of sci-fi fantasy. As for the instrumental aspect of the album, we continue to find Rush steering further away from the lengthy compositional epics, but while still managing to retain the same level of artistry. Instead of having us dwell into elongated voyages of elaborate musicianship, Rush have compressed all of their eclectic range of influences into a more accessible collection of dynamic hard rock songs. Clockwork Angels tends to have its foot in a lot of musical territories once explored by Rush, with each song exhibiting an array of stylistic variations that incorporates everything from their typical Progressive and metal sounds, to Fusion-esque solo passages, and spacey atmospheres. It’s rather comforting to see that…

30. The Devin Townsend Project – Epicloud

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It’s a slick and polished album, the closest he’s ever come to mainstream rock and – dare I say – pop. While an album as polished as this may be an area as of yet unexplored by Townsend and other metal guitarist’s solo work as well, the mainstream rock sound isn’t new territory in general even if it’s new to him, and he unfortunately falls to some of the genre’s conventions here and there. Still though, even if it’s sound isn’t too experimental, Townsend seamlessly slides into this poppy new sound, boasting a powerful contrast between technical riffage and poppy melodies, and most pop music would sound a hell of a lot better if it was helmed by Townsend as skillfully as it is here on Epicloud. – breakingthefragile

Stream ‘Kingdom’ here.

29. Amenra – Mass V

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Mass V does nothing but further cement Amenra’s place in the upper echelon of sludge/post-metal. Drawing influences from the heralded Neurosis, Amenra specialize in the creation of dark atmospheres that are combined with heavy, downtuned riffs. Unlike most of their peers, though, Amenra’s brand of dark, sludgy post-metal manages to sound invariably vigorous because all their records have excellent, oppressing atmospheres. They feel alive and pull the listener in, tingling…

50. Hop Along – Get Disowned

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As an occasional enthusiast of the Indie and Alternative rock scenes, I rarely come across an album within both genres that manages to enthrall me in such an such a way that leaves me utterly speechless throughout its run. What intrigued me so much about Hop Along’s Get Disowned, is their ability to blend a lot of different characteristics from various genres to create an innovative montage of melodies. Hard-edged rock jams, electronic beats, acoustic segments, each of these music styles serve to augment the irresistibly charming voice of Francis Quinlan, who uses her mellifluous Favourite vocals to add a catchy pop-like flair to the album. Get Disowned is a very fun listen with a lot of variety in its sound, but at times, the compositional structures of certain songs tend to sound rather amateurish. Though not necessarily in a way that sounds messy, but rather youthful. There is an impression of adolescence that the album seems to express, and maybe it’s the childlike aloofness of Francis Quinlan singing, the adventurous though sloppy combination of musical styles, or the fact that this a group striving in the early stages of their career, their lyrics are comprised almost entirely of topics that could hardly appeal to anyone above 30, and yet, there’s something about the way that Hop Along present themselves that you just can’t say “no” to. You want to…

CityCop and Les Doux are two bands that have been making names for themselves in the post-hardcore/emo scene, each releasing a handful of material that has been very well received.  And rightfully so, as each band employs a chaotic yet cathartic brand of hardcore that draws inspiration from various acts such as Touche Amore and Pianos Become the Teeth.  While both bands differ very much in regards to their inherent sounds, teaming up for the Family Ties/Labors of Love split feels fitting.  The result is a varied, yet wholly wonderful combination of two truly talented bands.  Luckily, we have an official stream of the split for you to enjoy!

This is the start of a new series wherein I (and hopefully other staff!) will be drawing your attention to those who plow away at the furrow in our individual localities.


Alpha Male Tea Party may compare themselves to “Elton John and sausages.” Their guitarist may possess a predilection towards dressing like a hyper-extended form of James Harries whilst on stage. Sure, their bassist may even don a pair of Mad Max-style post-apocalyptic goggles and dress up like Hulk Hogan when the time is right.

Don’t let any of this fool you. Alpha Male Tea Party are very much the real fucking deal. They combine the scope, intensity and talent of groups like Battles, Oceansize and Blakfish with the dress-sense and mad-cap divinations of Devo. For a genre and scene that can wallow in pretension, AMTP stand out with their surrealist mores; humourous song titles, unsubtle dress sense and a nod to weirder sides of life.

Having previously secured support slots with groups of the calibre of And So I Watch You From Afar, Adebisi Shank and Goonies Never Say Die, the trio have already laid waste to a number of venues in the North West of England and beyond. They also work closely in conjunction with Liverpool-based EDiLS Records, one of the fastest growing labels in the city. In spite of such a sparkling CV, the trio are still looking to broaden horizons; both their own and the audiences’.…

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10. Holy Esque – Holy Esque

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Being touted as the best new band your country has to offer is obviously a hell of a compliment, but for many such accolades can quickly become burdensome. Spare a thought then for the four members of Holy Esque, who along with carrying the hopes of a nation as distinguished as Scotland were having those proclamations thrown at them before they’d released a single recording – a metaphorical musical pressure cooker if ever there was one. It was quite a statement then that the Glaswegians not only matched but eclipsed expectations on this debut EP; a four track tour de force which bore the hallmarks of an outfit well equipped to make an impact in the indie world. Sure, a taste for big riffs, distortion pedals and off-kilter vocals is hardly revelatory, but these songs possessed the poise, swagger and assurance of a group who’d already become masters of their craft, with the propulsive energy of ‘Rose’ and the skyscraping ‘Prophet of Privilege’ in particular sounding virtually stadium-ready. It’ll probably take a few more releases to craft their own distinct identity, but as a means of announcing oneself, Holy Esque takes some beating.AliW 1993.

Stream ‘Rose’ here.

9. Vales – Clarity

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In their debut EP,…

Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of January 15, 2013. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

If you haven’t had the chance yet, feel free to check out the staff’s Best of 2012 feature. You can view it right here.

Antimatter – Fear Of A Unique Identity (Prophecy Productions)
A$AP Rocky – LongLiveA$AP (RCA) – Sobhi Youssef
Christopher Owens – Lysandre (Fat Posssum Records)
Criminal Hygiene – CRMNL HYGNE (Small Smile Records)
Erin McKeown – Manifestra (TVP Records)
Half Hearted Hero – Whatever (Animal Style Records)
Holopaw – Academy Songs, Vol.1 (Misra Records)
Jamie Woolford – A Framed Life In Charming Light (Get Well Records)
Lights & Motion – Reanimation (Deep Elm Records)
Midnight Spin – Don’t Let Me Sleep (Midnight Spin)
Mystical Weapons – Mystical Weapons (Chimera Music)
Owel – Owel (Owel)
Pantha Du Prince and The Bell Laboratory – Elements Of Light (Rough Trade US)
The Plot In You – Could You Watch Your Children Burn (Rise Records)
Rescuer – With Time Comes The Comfort (Rise Records)
Sean Lennon – Alter Egos (Chimera Music)
Seth Glier – Things I Should Let You Know (Mpress Records)
Teena Beautiful (UMe)
Yo La Tengo – Fade Out (Matador Records)


Album Streams:

Christopher Owens – Lysandre

Criminal Hygiene – CRMNL HYGNE

Erin McKeown – Manifestra

Holopaw – Academy Songs, Vol. 1

Midnight Spin – Don’t Let Me Sleep

Pantha Du Prince and

Soilwork – Spectrum of Eternity


Soilwork will be releasing their latest album, The Living Infinite, on February 27 in Asia (via license to Marquee Records), in Europe on March 1, and in North America on March 5 through Nuclear Blast Records. Holy shit, is the first thing that comes to mind. It’s a double album and the first single is actually really good. Is there hope for this band? You decide.

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The evergreen jazz merchant-cum-voodoo warrior Dr. John is probably the type of person who you could file neatly under ‘Seen It All’. It was perhaps a surprise, even with his long track record, that 2012’s Locked Down  LP was as free, easy and palatable as it came to be. Written, recorded and produced heavily in conjunction with Black Keys’ mainman Dan Auerbach, the album is one that sees the 72 year old doctor grab a new lease of life with both hands.

Tracks such as “Revolution” and the record’s eponymous effort show a certain fire; understandable for a New Orleans native who will have looked on in horror as his hometown was almost swept away. However, it’s “Ice Age” that stands out the most. A subtle sense of anger and exasperation pour out of the Dr’s mouth, taking aim at those who like “smoking crack and final blunts” and who “ain’t got a cent”; those who fiddle as Rome burns. Maybe it’s a missive against the parts of New Orleans that have been slow to recover. Perhaps it’s a rant against the wider world. It doesn’t matter, as such themes are very pertinent wherever you are. That’s the saddest thing of all, but if anyone can ease you into the gloom with a message and rhythm, then it’s this guy.

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2013 Is The Real Apocalypse

The end of an old year and the start of a new one is perfect for musohacks to fill up space in their dog-eared magazines and laggy websites. December sees retrospectives that tend to be useless insofar as it’s stuff you and they already know. Come the new year, come a new way to fleece your audience; the BBC’s Sound of <year> collection is heavily plagiarised as writer’s pokerface us and say “Hey, we knew about this lot all along!”

What seperates Sputnik Music from the other sites is the technology available to us. For reasons best left unknown, all staff now have access to a computer that pings emails from the future. One future staff member (name not revealed so as to prevent paradox) decided to reveal the big talking points on a year ahead for us, but one already forgotten for them:

  • Captain Beefheart returns from the grave! Not content with being dead, the man also known as Don Van Vliet found out the other side just wasn’t as cool as he thought it would be. His return was heralded as one of the most shocking of all time, and his move onto the lucrative after-dinner speech circuit propelled him right into the heart of public affairs. It wasn’t to last, however. After attempting to strangle Barack Obama at a $10,000 a head White House dinner, the Captain caught fire and quickly combusted in the Oval Office. His last words? “Ah feel like battery

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Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of January 8, 2013. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

If you haven’t had the chance yet, feel free to check out the staff’s Best of 2012 feature. You can view it right here.

Black Veil Brides – Wretched And Divine: The Story Of The Wild Ones (Universal Republic) – John Hanson
Broadcast – Berberian Sound Studio (Warp Records)
Chris Tomlin – Burning Lights (Six Step Records/Sparrow Records)
Conor Maynard – Contrast (EMI)
Download – Furnace Re: Dux (Metropolis Records)
Dropkick Murphys – Signed And Sealed In Blood (Born & Bred Records) – Jom
Gameday Regulars – Nobody Likes A Quitter (Veggie Co. Records)
Hollywood Undead – Notes From The Underground (A&M Octone)
Less Than Jake – Greetings & Salutations (Fat Wreck Chords/101 Distribution)
My Chemical Roamnce – Conventional Weapons #4 (Reprise)
Never Shout Never – Indigo (All The Best)
Nolwenn Leroy – Nolwenn (Decca)
The Ongoing Concept – Saloon (The Ongoing Concept)
Overcome – No Reserves. No Retreats. No Regrets. (Facedown Records)
Sinking Ship Symphony – Sinking Ship Symphony  (Globe Garage)
Skinny Molly – Haywire Riot (RUF Records)
Snuff – 5-4-3-2-1-Perhaps! (Fat Wreck Chords)
Solange – True (Terrible Records)
Thorcraft Cobra – Count It In (Redeye)
Twenty One Pilots – Vessel (Fueled By Ramen)
Vomito Negro – Fall Of An Empire (Metropolis Records)
Wooden Wand – Blood Oaths Of The New Blues…

I was pumped for this show a good month before it even happened– as soon as it was announced.  Few bands have been making as big of waves in the modern emo scene than empire! empire! (I was a lonely estate) and The World is a Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid to Die, so my excitement was warranted.  Teaming up for one show made for the perfect combination, as both bands have a similar style and delivery.  It also worked out that empire! empire! is a one man band, thus needing The World is… to fill in for the positions that Kieth Latinen could not possibly play.  The result was a seamless transition between the two, and wonderfully played show overall.

Despite the “big” names attached, the real show stealer was a local band called Saintseneca.  Hailing from Columbus, the band is a four piece folk group full of mulch-instrumentalists.  Without traditional percussion, the bulk of their music is comprised of twangy strings and heartfelt vocals.  Each selection was as beautiful and intriguing as the last, with each member swapping out duties ranging from guitar to ukelele.  It made for a very dynamic performance, always keeping the crowd on their toes not knowing what to expect next.  I had heard of the band, and had even dabbled in a bit of their material.  Never did I expect to be so impressed, as they were truly the band of the night.  Arrowhead happened to be…


10. The Gaslight Anthem – Handwritten

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I think it’s about time that I let you all in on a little secret: I’m just a touch older than the average SputnikMusic user. Shock horror, huh? In fact, I may even be old enough to have seen items go out of fashion, only to have them return in popularity years later. Thick-rimmed glasses, new wave music, mini-skirts and vinyl records are all examples of such phenomena, so when The Gaslight Anthem released a single titled “45″, you could say that my interest was aroused… When the old-fashioned quartet went on to title their fourth LP ‘Handwritten’, I was officially an acolyte to the Ministry of The Gaslight Anthem. And yes, I do still hand-write many of my reviews, just like Brian Fallon and the guys would want me to. Here, famed producer Brendan O’Brien assists the New Jersey natives in carving out huge, soaring anthems which lose little of the band’s endearing sincerity. The accomplished musicianship takes in every corner of rock, with Fallon’s vocals continuing to improve as his surprisingly introspective lyrics make the detailed storytelling no less captivating. ‘Handwritten’ may downsize the outfit’s punkier leanings and be too familiar for some, but it is ultimately another assured, consistent and cohesive album from a rock’n’roll band at the top of…


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