Although many are finishing up their end of year lists, here at Already Heard, we’re soldiering on with our monthly “Recommends” round-up of need-to-know bands. Before we take a break and recharge our batteries for 2018, we spoke to six notable bands that shouldn’t be ignored.
Read on to find out more about Lifetight, Divide, Silent Descent, Phoenix Calling, Calligram and Say the Word.
Some bands take months to write and record their debut release yet for UK hardcore newcomers, Lifetight, that was never an option. Formed from the ashes of Lock & Key, the quartet formed this past summer and in just a matter of months, they’ve released their debut EP – ‘Self-Tightled’. The neatly titled EP packs four heavy punches of two-step hardcore with metallic grooves and an array of crunching riffs.
At the core of the EP is Lifetight’s positive outlook. Influenced by troubled past experiences, vocalist Thomas Smith turns them on their head with songs such as ‘Energy’ encouraging to push things forward.
With their first EP and shows now under their belt, we spoke to guitarist Danny Reeves to discuss their brief history, ‘Self-Tightled’’s positive message and more.
For Fans Of: Hatebreed, Beartooth, Stray From The Path
AH: While the band only launched in July, some people may remember you and Josh from their time in Lock & Key. How did you all come together? Was there a motive that brought you together?
Danny: Myself and Josh wanted to carry on with music, doing it properly but keeping that main element, FUN! We spoke about Lifetight around the end of our time in Lock & Key and I’m stoked that it has become a reality.
AH: ‘Self-Tightled’ has been out for a few weeks now. How has the response been so far?
Danny: All of us are completely overwhelmed and couldn’t be more grateful for the response that it’s received. We’re all stoked on it and to see other people vibing with it as well is sweet! We couldn’t ask for more.
AH: Over the course of its four songs, the EP draws on personal experiences such as mental health and the military. Can you tell us more about the lyrical side of ‘Self-Tightled’?
Danny: I’m terrible with words, so the lyrical side of the EP has pretty much just been Josh and Tom. The point of the EP, and the band in general, is to show that negative thoughts and feelings can be turned into positive things. DON’T BE NEGI, BE POSI!
AH: You’ve wasted no time getting out there and playing shows. How would you sum up a typical Lifetight set?
Danny: Energy. Our debut single doesn’t lie… We all have so much fun onstage and enjoy delivery the bounce!
Although you’ve been together for just a few months, what’s next for you guys after ‘Self-Tightled’?
Danny: We’re already writing and to be honest we’re not going to stop. ‘Self-Tightled’ is a sample of what Lifetight is about.
‘Self-Tightled’ EP by Lifetight is out now on Crooked Noise Records.
Glasgow’s Divide have all the makings of becoming one of Scotland’s next breakout rock bands. Their new EP, ‘Embers’, is five stellar slices of melodic rock that combines dynamic riffs with the soaring vocal talents of Nicole Mason. Nevertheless, the EP marks a new, exciting chapter for the Scottish quintet after a couple years of uncertainty.
Formed in 2014 and known as Divides, they quickly garnered plenty of acclaimed locally and nationwide for their debut EP – ‘Anywhere and Nowhere’. They even won a “Best Metal” award yet as their profile continued to rise, they hit a difficult period dominated by line-up changes. Now with a solid line-up in place and ‘Embers’ out in the open, Divide are united and ready to soldier on.
As they settle down before a busy 2018, we spoke to vocalist Nicole Mason and guitarist David Lennon about the band’s complicated history, ‘Embers’, the Glasgow (and Welsh) music scene and more.
For Fans Of: Mallory Knox, Tonight Alive, and Young Guns
AH: Although the band formed in 2014, we hear the current line-up wasn’t complete until last year. Can you give us a quick overhaul of the history of Divide?
David: We came together early 2014 and shortly after released our first EP – ‘Anywhere and Nowhere’. We gained major airplay and media attention from a host of stations, magazines and websites with no PR campaign or agent in place. Glasgow’s own Vukovi handpicked us to open their biggest headline show at Oran Mor, which was to be our first gig as a band. For a band to have been together for such a short time, we went on to play the legendary King Tuts and then T in the Park as part of the T-Break competition, as well as winning “Best Metal” at the Scottish Alternative Music Awards.
This led to shows all over the UK but due to unforeseen circumstances, the band were countered with internal troubles leading to a number of line-up changes. This is when the talented Nicole Mason, Scott Johnston, and later, Connor Macleod joined. With a fresh line-up, we released a brand new video for a new single, ‘Make A Killing’, last November.
Since then we’ve toured Scotland with Daydream Frenzy, and the UK tour with Breathe In The Silence and Forever Never. We also played Teddy Rocks and Camden Rocks this year. And now we’re releasing ‘Embers’ with a concrete line-up after Stephen (Ladds) replaced Dave Maxwell.
AH: We understand ‘Embers’ is influenced by the trials and tribulations you’ve been through as a band?
Nicole: I would say the track ‘Embers’ on the EP is about the band’s struggles but it’s also about being reborn. A new band essentially with a new direction and focus. As for the other songs, their meanings run a bit deeper.
AH: For some, ‘Embers’*> will be the first time people hear Divide. How would you sum up the band’s sound?
David: It’s always hard to sum up your own sound for some reason but I see it as in your face, melodic driven rock music, with plenty of hooks!
AH: You worked with acclaimed producer Romesh Dodengoda on ‘Embers’. What did he add to the songs that weren’t there before?
Nicole: Working with Romesh was great! Some of us had the privilege of working with him before, so we knew exactly what he could bring to the table. For those of us who hadn’t, it was exciting being able to collaborate ideas and experiment with new instruments. He gave us confidence when we needed reassurance and definitely pushed to get the best out of us.
AH: You’re one of many bands emerging out Glasgow at the moment. Besides yourselves, who should we be keeping an eye on?
David: We love going to as many shows as we possibly can, purely because its one of our favourite hobbies and we enjoy live music and beer haha. Being in the scene for a long time, It’s great to see Glasgow bands Fatherson and Vukovi break out of Scotland. These are the bands that have been at it for eight years plus and we have huge respect for them. There are so many awesome bands in Glasgow, too many to mention, but off the top of my head we love Halo Tora, Ikari, We Came From Wolves, Start Static, Banshee, Dialects, A Sudden Burst Of Colour, Donnie Willow, Talk and Bear Arms to name just a few.
Nicole: On another note, we kind of feel like we are part of the Welsh scene, we seem to go down really well there and the bands are so friendly and supportive. Dream State were probably our first Welsh buddies when we made our first trip up to Wales and more recently Breath In The Silence and Holding Absence. All who we love so much, not just as bands but as people. Also, our manager Dean is Welsh (haha). We can now add Junior and All Ears Avow to that list as they are heading out on tour with us in February.
AH: We noticed ‘Catalyst’ was used by Insane Championship Wrestling for their ‘Fear and Loathing X’ event earlier this month. How did you and ICW strike up a partnership?
David: We have played some of the ICW wrestling events years ago, so already had the connection and our friend Duncan kindly informed us they were looking for some new music. It’s exciting because we are all huge fans and it gets our name out there.
AH: It looks like there is no slowing down for you as you’re set to go out on a headline tour in February. How would you describe Divide’s live show and why should people come to these shows?
Nicole: We have not played a show since Camden Rocks in London and have had some member changes. We personally feel this is the strongest the line-up has been and we can’t wait to release new material and just get out and play as many shows as possible!
‘Embers’ EP by Divide is out now.
The moulding metal and electronica isn’t a new concept, however on ‘Turn to Grey’ Hertfordshire’s Silent Descent execute brilliantly with a well-balanced mix. Songs such as ‘Rob Rodda’, ‘Sticky Fingers’ and ‘Voices’ are delivered with a smattering of synth and bucket load of heavy riffs.
The release of ‘Turn to Grey’ has been a long time coming for Silent Descent. Formed over 10 years ago, the Dartford-based group have played numerous festivals including Download and Bloodstock along with supporting names such as Skindred and Hed P.E. However, after an unpleasant experience with a label, Silent Descent were left mentally and financially drained. Nevertheless, despite the line-up change here and there, they’ve got back on their collective horse and have returned with their first album in five years.
As they evolve beyond the “trance metal” tag, we caught up with bassist Jim Huang and guitarist Jack Oxley in the days leading up to the release of ‘Turn to Grey’.
For Fans Of: Enter Shikari, KoRn, Slipknot
AH: Although You’ve been a band for over a decade with various members coming and going, for some, you’re an unfamiliar name. Can you bring us up to date on the history of the band?
Jack: The origin story of Silent Descent has long since been lost to the annals of history. Those old enough to remember might draw similarities to Footloose, but based in Dartford and without the dancing.
Jim: The band has been around for a very long time with different line-ups under different names. The Toms and Paul have been around since the early days, the rest of us joined later on and we evolved into the current line-up.
AH: Over that time, how has the band’s sound evolved?
Jack: We always pushed for a unique sound, and when we first started writing metal with trance elements and released our debut album ‘Duplicity’, very few bands around the world were doing it. Nowadays, it’s not too unusual to hear a metal band with synth. Even more established bands tend to add electronic elements in post-production to thicken their sound and keep things interesting.
Jim: I think to avoid becoming a novelty, one-trick-pony act, we’ve tried to steer clear of the limitations of genres and focus on the quality of the song above all else. In a way, if the first album was like Emma Watson in The Philosopher’s Stone, this one is like Emma Watson speaking at the UN. We have definitely grown up a bit.
AH: At the time of writing, we’re getting closer to the release of ‘Turn to Grey’. With this being your first album in five years, what can fans expect from this record?
Jim: A wise man once told me, expect nothing… and you won’t be disappointed. Also this album gave me tinnitus.
Jack: And it cured mine. So… horses for courses and so on.
AH: When you began writing ‘Turn to Grey’, what were your initial goals? Did these change during the making of this record?
Jim: We started writing as soon as we came off the tour for our last album ‘Mind Games’ back in 2012. I guess the goal was to have a record finished and released within two years.
Jack: But the goalposts had legs and we chased them for five years. It was liberating to write without feeling the need to be “a trance metal band”. We just focussed on writing catchy hooks and fun riffs, and really just music that we would enjoy listening to a few years down the line. I feel like once we got into our stride, it was all written quite quickly and painlessly. Some of the songs are literally as they were in the first take of the demo. Our second single, ‘Rob Rodda’, for example, is structurally the same as its first incarnation.
AH: Having gone through an unsavoury label experience, do you think bands can survive without label support in 2017?
Jim: Yes definitely, there are now so many ways for bands to get their music out there, and the list of bands that got huge just off the back of those channels is endless!
Jack: Our advice for young bands – if they feel we’re qualified to provide it – is just to go out there and have fun. It can’t hurt; you’ll have a laugh; and in the end, if you’re doing it for the money, you don’t really want it.
AH: Looking beyond the release of ‘Turn to Grey’, what’s next for Silent Descent?
Jack: We are now in post-production for our next video, looking to release that early 2018 so keep your eyes peeled, your ears to the ground and your mouth shut. Strap in guys, it’s gonna get gnarly.
‘Turn to Grey’ by is out now on Silent Descent.
Longtime AH readers might recognise the name Phoenix Calling. Following a handful of singles and EP, the Peterborough-based quintet released their debut full-length, ‘Forget Your Ghosts’, in 2015. Now, two years on, they’re back with a second album in the form of ‘Our Lost Hearts’.
On the surface, it once again sees them provide an abundance of anthemic Britrock cuts that sit nicely alongside the likes of Young Guns and Mallory Knox. However, if you dig a little deeper you find a collection of songs that are carried with lyrical substance and maturity. Topics such as homelessness, the loss of close ones and mental health gives ‘Our Lost Hearts’ gives a sturdy undertone of realism. While songs such as ‘This Town Belongs To Everyone’ and ‘What About This Now’ show the album isn’t entirely downtrodden, bringing a positive outlook.
Before they headed out on a recent UK headline tour in support of ‘Our Lost Hearts’, we spoke to guitarist and chief songwriter Dom Greenwood about the band’s activity since ‘Forget Your Ghosts’, the new albums lyrical content and more.
For Fans Of: Young Guns, Mallory Knox, and Fightstar
AH: ‘Our Lost Hearts’ comes two years on from your debut full-length. Can you bring us up to speed on the band’s activity since the release of ‘Forget Your Ghosts’?
Dom: So we have been busy! We had a tour of Poland with a stop off in France and Germany which was cool, played some big festivals in the UK and did some support slots with Young Guns. The main focus of the last year was doing the album. I had a couple of songs half written, which I finished for the album, and then in collaboration with the guys, we wrote a further 13 songs of which 9 have made it on the album. We’re really pleased with it.
AH: In terms of the band’s sound, how does ‘OLH’ differ to ‘FYG’?
Dom: This album was a far more collaborative approach with all band members contributing to the writing process. The big development for us was the studio we built at Martyn (Hilliam – lead guitarist)’s house in his spare room. It’s basically a commercial studio just on a smaller scale. This has allowed us to demo every song before we record it.
All of the piano parts, strings and any programming has been done at Martyn’s which has served us well and allowed us to experiment and do so many different things we wouldn’t have. With no time constraints that a commercial studio would have, we have been able to work on songs more freely and then take the demos to our producer which has worked well.
AH: We also hear this record is “maturer”?
Dom: Yeah, we think so, mature themes and lyrics, just looking at the world and see what’s going on. The underlying theme is about people and what can happen to them through-out daily life, experiences and where life can take you. There are references and themes about homelessness, mental health, war, relationships, love, loss and family. The idea that people often have to put on a disguise to just get through the day and live a life.
AH: From hearing the album, you come across as a genuine band with no gimmick or elaborate story. Would you agree that you’re a band that lets the music do the talking?
Dom: Yeah absolutely! It’s all about the music for us, we wear our hearts on our sleeves and get on with the job in hand. We are real, come and talk to us! We love nothing more than a chat.
AH: In terms of lyrical themes, this album touches on homelessness, mental health, war and relationships. Can you tell us the motive behind writing about these?
Just subjects that mean a lot to us as a band, we have all been touched by these themes so we thought to do it justice we should write about this and bring this alive in videos, raising awareness and hopefully helping people. Between the albums, we have all lost family and friends for a number of reasons, had to help people we know through mental health issues and homelessness, which in today’s society is crazy. Often these people suffer alone so we wanted to focus on these issues.
AH: The release of the album is being supported by a headline tour. In recent years, you’ve toured quite a bit playing with names such as Young Guns along with a few festival spots. How have these helped enhance your live show?
Dom: Of course, to play and support bands we like and inspire us is amazing. Along with Young Guns, there has been Nothing but Thieves and we are taking Dave McPherson from InMe on tour with us! What a voice and such an underrated band. We really hope to do something big with the InMe guys next year!
AH: As we head in 2018, what can we expect to see from Phoenix Calling?
Dom: To keep playing as much as we can, after this tour we intend to go out again in 2018 and do another tour, plus we have two more singles to release with videos. Then it’s on to album number 3! We already have five songs pretty well complete which take us along another slight change of direction, driven hooky, with big riffs and sing along!
‘Our Lost Hearts’ by Phoenix Calling is out now on The Fort.
With their debut full-length, ‘Askesis’, multi-national quintet Calligram deliver a catastrophic and infectious mix of thrash, hardcore, crust and black metal. It comes off the back of last year’s acclaimed ‘Demimonde’ EP, and while on paper ‘Askesis’ offers just six songs, the 30 minutes of music Calligram produce is a thrilling dark and atmospheric rollercoaster of blistering heavy riffs, metallic blasts and Matteo Rizzardo horrifying screams and shrieks. While the instrumental short, ‘Murderess’, highlights the band’s more reflective side before the thunderous ‘Entwined’ rips through at a frantic pace. In short, Calligram are intense, heavy, and have plenty of depth and potential.
The origins of the band began in 2011, and after the usual merry-go-round of lineup changes, its members decided to call London as their home. Here they refined their sound, embracing darker tendencies. While for Calligram ‘Askesis’ represents them having no purpose, they certainly push themselves to get noticed.
To learn more about the band’s history, life in London, the meaning of ‘Askesis’ and working with producer Lewis Johns, we recently spoke to Matteo Rizzardo from Calligram.
For Fans Of: Behemoth, Belphegor and Impaled Nazarene
AH: Even though you’ve been a band since 2011, ‘Askesis’ is your first full-length. Can you give us a brief overhaul of the history of Calligram?
Matteo: We passed through several lineup changes but our main focus has always been playing nasty, evil and definitely not cool music. In 2016 we finally reached a solid lineup, musically and personally, and a more defined band identity came along too. At that point, our EP, ‘Demimonde’ was a natural consequence. After that, the only path we wanted to take led straight into a pure realm of darkness. We took it and this is how ‘Askesis’ was born.
AH: Although you have members from all over the world, you call London home. How has being based there helped the band develop?
Matteo: London suits us perfectly because it’s the only place where you can find four foreign weirdos getting along so well with the most English guy in this country (Smittens – bass player). I have a feeling it couldn’t happen in any other place.
Jokes aside, from London we get all we need: inspiration, connection with people, good vibes. On the other hand the city is obviously quite expensive and we are always skint. Therefore playing uncompromising black metal isn’t the wisest choice possible. But, as I said, we are weird.
AH: Moving on to ‘Askesis’, it’s a 30-minute onslaught of “blackened hardcore”. For new listeners, how would you sum up the band’s sound and who do you consider your influences to be?
Matteo: ‘Askesis’ is a mixture of raw crust punk and black metal. It’s fast, really heavy and dirty. There’s no fancy groove. A lot of distortion. Sometimes it gets slower and atmospheric, but it’s definitely nasty.
The bands that actually influenced us during the writing process are so many but to name a few I’d say Wiegedood, The Secret and Young and in the way.
AH: ‘Askesis’ was produced by renowned producer Lewis Johns. How was it working with and what influence did he have on the record?
Matteo: Lewis is a master and working with him was a real pleasure. He completely understood what we had in mind since the beginning. He caught the spirit of what we had to say and helped us shape it. It was like he was part of the band and he actually came up with some really good ideas and suggestions too: if ‘Askesis’ sounds the way it does, we need to thank him.
AH: Lyrically we hear the album is about the “meaningless of existence”. Could you expand on this?
Matteo: For the ancient stoics, the Askesis was a totality of rituals, behaviours and rules that they used to follow and repeat obsessively like a mantra in order to set their mind and prepare it to cope with the nonsense and suffering of life. Similarly, Askesis is Calligram’s personal mantra to face the fact that what we do in this life, no matter what, has no meaning and no purpose. There’s nothing above or beyond you. Nothing to stand for. Everything is lost in this sea of pure emptiness. And this album is our way to cope with this endless floating.
‘Askesis’ by Calligram is out now on Basick Records.
Say The Word
For a lot of new bands, it can take time to find a sound you’re comfortable with and Nottingham quartet Say the Word are no different. Formed three years ago, they’ve been honing on the right sound. After experimenting with metal, pop-punk, funk and soft rock, they have now settled on a middle ground that contains elements of the emo-rock sound of Taking Back Sunday, Blink-182 style pop sensibilities, and a BritRock mentality likened to Deaf Havana.
Their new single, ‘Toe The Line’, thrives on its catchy riffs and emotive, anthemic chorus. Ultimately, it gives the four-piece a good amount of potential to grow as they look to venture out of their hometown.
To learn more about Say the Word, we quizzed the band about ‘Toe the Line’, the influence of Nottingham’s music scene and their future plans.
For Fans Of: Taking Back Sunday, Deaf Havana, Blink-182
AH: For some people, ‘Toe the Line’ will be their first exposure to Say the Word. Do you consider the track as a good introduction to what you’re all about?
STW: I’d say so. It represents anyone who is frustrated by society in general and how we get cooped up in office spaces, which are essentially like prison cells (although I’m sure prison would be a lot more terrifying!)
AH: For an independent band, does living in a city like Nottingham help or hinder your development?
STW: Nottingham is great for independent bands. There’s so much opportunity it’s unreal. The Maze has open mic nights nearly every day of the week, you can find acoustic nights, masterclasses based in the many music stores opened up in the city centre, it’s great! The only issue is who you know, so if you’re serious about music then it’s worth, perhaps, studying a course at NCN and getting involved with Confetti.
AH: As for local bands, we are well aware of Catch Fire and more recently, Eyre Llew. Who else should we be paying attention to?
STW: There are a few bands we’ve had the pleasure of playing with such as As December Falls, Ocean Floor, Cut the Heroics and Chernobyl Superstar who are all incredible bands and work hard at what they do.
AH: You’ve been part of the Midlands-based label, Sound-Hub Records, for a while. How have they helped with developing the band and your sound?
STW: They’ve been such a big help to us it’s unreal. They (Baz, Tom and Doug the pug) are so down to earth and relaxed about what they do, but still serious enough that they actively encourage you to be at your best in the studio. Nevermind their technical expertise, just having a good personality can help a great deal.
AH: With the year drawing to a close, what are your aims for 2018? Can we expect more new material?
STW: Yes! We’re talking about writing new music for an EP for next year and eventually an album, which we’re very capable of doing. We’d also like to reach out to more people and to improve not only ourselves but our abilities. I think we’ve grown a hell of a lot as a band over these past few years but we have a lot more to offer. After a few major life changes for band members, becoming a parent, changing jobs, moving house etc, it looks like we are homing in on a sound we can be proud of.
‘Toe the Line’ by Say the Word is out now on Sound-Hub Records.