REVIEW ROUND-UP: Throw The Fight, Carsick, DeathCollector, Keep This Up

Artwork for Throw The Fight’s ‘Strangeworld’

Throw The Fight


In case you’re unaware, Throw The Fight are one of those American hard rock bands that still end up managing to rack up impossibly high numbers, despite the fact you’d struggle to pick their music out of a lineup or even recognise the name. It’s a phenomenon that’s been ongoing for ages, and while Throw The Fight are by no means the most successful (or even most unworthy) of its beneficiaries, they’re the kind of presence that makes you wonder where the space for all of these actually is. At least they aren’t actively buckling under their own cringe or unearned swagger; Strangeworld is far from a sterling listen, but it can still somewhat work in its limited parameters without visibly straining to be something it’s not.

That very low bar to clear is really what the majority of Strangeworld hinges on. Hard rock with a high production value lends space to glimpses of metalcore, surgically removed of all surprise or true innovation among it. It’s closer to Bullet For My Valentine on that spectrum than someone like I Prevail, albeit spit-shined in the ways the latter have found lucrative avenues from. And that’s about the extent that Throw The Fight’s musical adventurousness goes. Other than the lightest touch of electronic window-dressing on Wake Up!, Strangeworld is locked in place, and produces the product you’d expect to come from such regimentation—entirely fit-for-purpose, but hardly impressive. It’s biggest moments are big but don’t exactly soar or command real attention, and it’s impossible to escape the sound of a rubric checklist being ticked off that’s present over basically everything.

At the same time though, there’s nothing about Throw The Fight worth getting worked up about. Compared to some of their scene-mates content with knowingly bleeding the concept of artistic expression dry, the carryover from the heydays of Bullet For My Valentine ring out more clearly here. It is flagrant, sure, but at least there’s a drive behind Lost Without You or Sorry, Not Sorry that excludes them from discussions of radio-ready get-rich-quick schemes. At least Throw The Fight sound invested in what they’re doing, which is a compliment if you can look past how the bare minimum is now a standard to strive for. It says more about the scene as a whole than Throw The Fight themselves, who put more effort into this album sounding grand and epic to simply be coasting. Even when hamstrung by the tenets of modern hard rock production, there’s never anything too egregious purely in the sonics strived for.

It’s just difficult to give too much praise to something like this when…there really isn’t a lot to it on the whole. Yeah, Throw The Fight are okay at what they do, but when that’s a formula suffocating in its own roteness these days—and nothing is here to add anything to it—where do you really go from there? It’s not even like Strangeworld feels like a momentous listen even in the confines of its own catalogue; at just nine tracks where two of them are previous standalones stuck to the end, and not even clocking half an hour, it’s practically foreshadowing its own forgettability. Maybe that’s appropriate for a band like Throw The Fight whose impact has never once been felt on a wide scale, as just another example to add to the list. • LN

For fans of: Bullet For My Valentine, I Prevail, Pop Evil

‘Strangeworld’ by Throw The Fight is released on 30th June on Long Branch Records.

Artwork for Carsick’s ‘Drunk Hymns’


Drunk Hymns

As the bar keeps getting raised for how accomplished new bands are sounding right out of the gate, it almost seems like a cliché to keep bringing it up. Still, credit where it’s due—there’s a lot of newcomers sowing the seeds of something entirely their own early on, likely a product of the rude health of all facets of rock music that’s made wider creativity a lot more viable. But that’s a discussion deserving of way more airtime than it’ll get here. The point is that you can scrawl Carsick’s name down on that list, as a band with a debut EP that’s already raring for some big-time exposure.

It’s not hard to see why given their sonic palette, mixing a brand of punk piloted by Kid Kapichi that’s currently doing very well with an indie-rock / quasi-hip-hop styling à la Jamie T. Coupled with the unassuming presentation and a street-level lyrical style, Carsick’s draw winds up feeling even more apparent. Even on the contemplative Heartbreak At The Anchor & Hope—comprised of all rippling guitars and gauzy shimmers—it’s a world away from everything else presented but works to flesh out Carsick’s oeuvre that bit more. They’ll handily skirt past the stiff limitations this kind of indie typically suffers from; there’s a looseness and sense that this is all playing around to see what works, between the stitched-on vocal samples on Anaconda Frank and Nothing To Do, and the generally laconic air that everything is delivered with.

Above all though, it’s just pretty fun. In a scant ten-ish minutes, Drunk Hymns suitably establishes the tone for Carsick in general—a bit tongue-in-cheek and indelibly rambunctious, with a rough-and-tumble energy to power it. The strolling bass and percussion give Nothing To Do and Roller a keen focus that’s never strayed from; similarly. Anaconda Frank’s jittering, forceful punk tack finds itself repurposed across guitars in which precision aim is their MO. All the while, Joe Richardson is at the helm, in the well of Britain’s deep bench of regionalised accents that do a lot for vocal personality overall. Even despite being far from an outlier in terms of presentation—the Jamie T comparisons aren’t just a roundabout link; they’re functionally the same when you’re not looking for differences—it’s an easy way to instill a fun factor into indie music of this vein. It ties together Carsick’s own effervescence nicely, a feat that does plenty to elevate Drunk Hymns on its own.

Granted, that title doesn’t paint the most glowing first impression of what Carsick are all about, though that’s only because it gestures towards a standard of band that they’re either much better or much more interesting than. Or at least, they have the potential to be. That’s not far out of reach at all, given the evidence on here, and it’s easy to see the opportunities to get there—both on record and on the live stage—coming thick and fast before long. There’s certainly more to get enthused about than with your standard indie band, and Carsick laying that down nice and early is the best move they could’ve possibly made. • LN

For fans of: Jamie T, Kid Kapichi, SNAYX

‘Drunk Hymns’ by Carsick is released on 30th June on Alcopop! Records.

Artwork for DeathCollector’s ‘Death’s Toll’


Death’s Toll

DeathCollector, having only come to life in 2021, the band has wasted no time in establishing themselves in the underground scene with their old-school leaning death metal sound. The debut EP Time’s Up caught the attention of many and now the band are thundering ahead with their epic debut album Death’s Toll.

Comprised of members from Bolt Thrower, Memoriam, Ashen Crown, and Zealot Cult, a high level of expectation has been placed on the quartet. They certainly don’t disappoint, and more than that, they are carving out their own sound and their own niche by making use of each member’s experiences without them becoming a blueprint for DeathCollector’s to follow. Delivering a brutal onslaught is the album’s opener and title-track. Vocalist Kieran Scott’s (also of Ashen Crown) demonic harsh vocals are utterly menacing. Powerful instrumentation comprised of Andy Whale’s (ex-Bolt Thrower, ex-Darkened) driving percussion, Mick Carey’s (Zealot Cult) full sounding guitars and Lee Cummings’ (Severe Lacerations) raucous bass, makes a high impact. Mental Hedonist takes off with fast, intense riffs. Descending motifs performed by the lead guitar are highly effective as they aptly convey the journey to the depths below. Moving on to the eponymous DeathCollector, ferocious vocals bring a haunting impact. There’s a rawness permeating through the music and yet it’s all so well balanced as each part is given its own space. DeathCollector honour death metal’s origins while fully embracing its continuing evolution.

The bloodthirsty Terrorizer is insanely intense with utterly guttural vocals and fluctuating speed variations. DeathCollector successfully add in motifs with a catchy nature that emphasise the dark atmosphere they are seeking to create by drawing the listen further in. A Taste Of Ichor emerges with a slower, more dramatic introduction seeing theinstrumental parts develop, gradually building up. Ascendingand descending lead guitar melodies create a frantic and chaotic edge to the unyielding drumming and monstrous vocals. An ominous sense of anticipation manifests, almost like that of being chased, or of something reaching out from the shadows, permeates through the track. Revel In The Gore is an angst fuelled offering with anguish bleeding from the enticing riffs. Vicious vocals combined with the ruthless pounding of the bass drum and the merciless guitar rhythms makes for a gruesome listening experience. Death’s Toll arrives at its end with Rearview Guilt; relentless rhythms fire into life with intensity brought by the full use of the drum kit, all while the vocals unleash hell. The pre-breakdown sectionagain sees demonic vocals attack while guitars hint at the approaching darkness. DeathCollector end on a fierce and thrilling note.

DeathCollector showcase more of their dynamic personality in Death’s Toll. Bold and raging, the quartet let loose a thrilling display of cutthroat death metal while interweaving hints of other subgenres across the tracks. It’s safe to say they’re just getting started. • HR

For fans of: Memoriam, Morbid Angel, Incantation

‘Death’s Toll’ by DeathCollector is out now on Prosthetic Records.

Artwork for Keep This Up’s ‘Paper Houses’

Keep This Up

Paper Houses

From the name to the artwork to the fact that they’re trying to slide into the closed-off world of easycore, everything about Keep This Up suggests it would’ve worked better about a decade ago. To their credit, it’s not exactly another rehash of A Day To Remember or Four Year Strong’s earlier stuff, so at least the angle they’re approaching it from is different. But even that’s not subsiding the feel of 2013 that radiates off Paper Houses, as the kind of EP you’d find from a local band clearly tapping into their own big ideas, while still being a fair distance from prime time.

At least there’s some leeway to be afforded when the band is still this small. The idea itself is probably the most solid, where Keep This Up tilt deeper into the metalcore aspects of their sound that leads to an overall darker, tenser listen. Pop-punk hooks still abound like on Find Myself, but they’re underscored by a storminess that’s a smoother source of connective tissue. It’d be all too easy to inelegantly mash up the individual ends of the genre spectrum—such was the case with a lot of early easycore output—but Keep This Up do pull off some greater tact.

It’s just a shame that isn’t replicated elsewhere. Instead, the brunt of inexperience weighs heavily on Paper Houses, not so much that it’s outright amaterish, but it certainly scrapes it at times. The vocals are the real sore spot, as Jared Turner already has difficulty enunciating to avoid a mushy tone of voice (his screaming is sparse but far better, FYI), only to cursed with flat, shallow mixing on Lost or Bury Me that makes him sound even worse. It really is the sort of thing you’d find from the pop-punk glut of the mid-2010s, and that you’d hope bands would’ve moved on from by now. But no, Keep This Up simply feel like a remnant from that past, even with a different sound at their disposal. At least the general sound is alright in terms of sufficient weight and moodiness, even if it also falls into the same current of inertia. After all, it’s not that revolutionary, even if it’s what keeps Paper Houses up from being completely mundane.

And yes, it is unfair to hold a brand new band underneath a criticism like that. But at the same time, standards have gone up, and while Paper Houses would’ve flown way farther in the 2010s, the ground it’s on now is nowhere close to as robust. It’s alright, but never enough to unseat the stalwarts that pretty much have a monopoly on easycore at this stage; even some tweaks to the formula aren’t pulling that much weight for Keep This Up here. Even then, you’d be hard pressed to find much that this adds, at least now. Maybe there’s brighter things to come should they decide to…well, keep it up, but this isn’t an outing ready to take big strides on its own. • LN

For fans of: A Day To Remember, Four Year Strong, Beartooth

‘Paper Houses’ by Keep This Up is released on 30th June.

Words by Luke Nuttall (LN) and Holly Royle (HR)

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