Archive for brad boatright

Review: Agnosy

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 14, 2019 by Magadh

Agnosy When Daylight Reveals the Torture Scream Records

Every few years the London crust band Agnosy drops another record. They seem to take a little longer between releases than some other bands, but it always seems like it’s worth the wait. When Daylight Reveals the Torture is no exception. As with their first two LPs (Past the Point of No Return and Traits of the Past), this new release is redolent with dark atmosphere. With each recording, Agnosy have managed increasingly complex song structures. They’re not the most melodic of crust bands. They don’t have the spiraling riffs of bands like Martyrdöd or Burning Bright, but they find their way to a happy medium between melody and hard-charging crust that works every time.

I like crust as a musical format, but I don’t find myself reviewing a lot of crust records, and it’s mostly because I don’t have a huge amount to say about them. It’s not hard to sound like Anti-Cimex, but that was then and this is now. So why is it that I find Agnosy so compelling? There are several reasons, but the most important is song structure. If you listen to In Extremis, Martyrdöd’s second record (and the one on which they really found their voice) what you hear is riffs that are longer and more complicated than those of Crude SS and their legion of imitators. This, by the way, is no slam on Crude SS, who were pioneers of crust in the same way as bands like (the aforementioned) Anti-Cimex, or Asocial, or Mob 47, or…well, you get the picture. Crust needed to develop stylistically and In Extremis was a step forward that moved the whole genre ahead.

Since then there have been a lot of very good crust records released, records that have picked up the gauntlet that Martyrdöd threw down. Some of you out there might be reading this and this that I’m getting the periodization wrong, forgetting bands like His Hero is Gone or From Ashes Rise or Tragedy. That’s a fair point, but I think that Martyrdöd’s riff structure is more complicated than any of those bands, much as they are all world-crushingly awesome. To my ears, Wretched of the Earth or Dark Circles are bands that have taken the idea of more complex riffs and song structures forward.

In any case, Agnosy have produced another absolutely raging disc, their best one yet by a ways, and that is really saying something. The guitar sound is crisp and clear, which is always a big question when you’re dealing with down-tuning. It tells you a lot that this disc was mastered at Audiosiege by Brad Boatright. Boatright has made himself into the pre-eminent figure is this line of work by making bands sound awesome without necessarily making them sound like From Ashes Rise. Not that it would necessarily be a bad thing if they did, but his products manage to be both dark and clear in ways that manage to sound original rather than just being copies of what his band sounds like.

When Daylight Reveals the Torture is pretty close to an ideal crust record. It isn’t too long, clocking in around half an hour or so. It leaves the listener wanting more, not less. In a related vein, the song arrangements are good, reasonably complex without losing focus. One of the real failings of a lot of crust music is the need to rehash the same ideas over and over. If you’re going to do really simple riffs, the songs need to be short enough that the people listening aren’t looking at their watches by the end. It’s one thing when you’re playing live and can bludgeon the audience with sound. On record there is a lot to be said for shorter is better. The relatively more worked out structure of Agnosy’s riffs keeps interest quite nicely. The guitars are thick and guttural, but the retain enough tone to make the music sound bright, in a downtuned sort of way. Politically engaged lyrics are a plus, and the singer sounds kind of demented while still making identifiable words. Stylistically they sound a bit like slightly catchier version of Myteri (at least to my ear), or Instinto, or maybe a bit like Warcollapse, although the drumming is a little less far out. Anyway, this release is absolute quality and really stands head and shoulders above what is a very crowded crusty field just at the moment.

Review: Freedom Club

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , on April 2, 2013 by Magadh

Freedom Club Rather Be Blind

Rather Be Blind EP cover artI got turned on to Freedom Club by the guy from bulkhead records (who not coincidentally actually plays in the band). Normally you’re going to see (or you’ve seen) a lot of thrash/deathmetal etc. reviewed here. Listening to Freedom Club reminded me that I should probably be more aggressive about chasing down this kind of music as well. I came up on bands like Channel 3, the Dils, the Weirdos, etc. I have a real soft spot in my heart for that era of punk that arose before Discharge recreated the genre. Which is not to say that the thrashers wiped everything else off the map. But they did create their own take on the genre, one that was much different that the bands that had arisen in the wake of the “original” punk scenes in New York and London. I feel the need to put original in scare quotes because every musical genre and artistic scene builds in some way one what came before. Even people conscientiously trying to reject the past end up merely mashing up and recasting the world as they find it.

In any case, Freedom Club are, for me, a real throw back to a different theory of punk. I love the 1000 mile per hour take on punk, and I’ve certainly played a lot of that kind of music in my time. But there is definitely still a place for bands like this, in which simple licks and well-considered arrangements take the place of volume and velocity. Freedom Club put out an EP last year some time called Rather Be Blind. Eight really rocking cuts of downstroke punk with lots of feedback at the edges. Everything short and to the point. In places they sound like a slightly less bouncy version of Chron Gen, in others like a grittier version of the Dils. This theory is continued on the three song EP that they put out later in the year. The sound on the second is a little crisper on the second release. This I will say: the second cut, “Burn”, is one of the most awesome, rollicking punk tunes I have heard in years. Both of their releases were, I think, mastered by Brad Boatright of the absolutely monstrous From Ashes Rise, and the sound is as thick and punchy as that would indicate. They are supposed to have an album in the works (that what I read anyway). Watch this space.