REVIEW ROUND-UP: Lake Malice, NOBRO, Problem Patterns, BEX

Artwork for Lake Malice’s ‘Post-Genesis’

Lake Malice


Chances are that you’ll have heard at least something about Lake Malice by now. It’s an even better chance that that something is a tongue-bath of superlatives and unending praise, for the newest act to rotate into the ‘next big thing’ spotlight. You know it when you see it by now; it’s happened enough times, anyway, with the payoff rarely being tantamount to the buildup. But while exercising caution is the practice to take first and foremost, Lake Malice do seem to have more going for them. Quite a bit more, in fact, with one of the more outwardly promising debuts that the hype circuit has produced in some time.

What’s particularly noticeable is just how easily Post-Genesis manages to hit the ground running. You’ve got elements of post-hardcore and metalcore and even a vibe intrinsically linked to J-rock that’ll collide and interlock, with very few unclean edges among them. It leads to a great sense of momentum across the six tracks, particularly on the closer Stop The Party with, hands-down, the most locomotive chug in its hook across the whole EP. Lake Malice can wholly pay it off too, with the duo fully aware of their own capabilities and skillsets when it comes to heaviness. In the way that Bring Me The Horizon have found their trajectory on the up through alt-metal crossbreeding, Lake Malice are striving to tap into similar methods, albeit in a less grand fashion.

Not that Lake Malice couldn’t get there, mind. They’re already displaying an aptitude for towering size that’s become post-hardcore’s bread-and-butter now more than ever. Alice Guala certainly has the voice for it, in both piercing melodic highs and the screamed ferocity to show the depths of Lake Malice’s range. The verve of it all is the not-so-secret sauce to get Post-Genesis to connect in earnest, where Lake Malice refused to be boxed in or held firm by a cleaner, tidier production job. That’s still present but more purposeful in how it’s used—it leads the aforementioned spike of J-rock driven through the EP, to pump up Bloodbath or Mitsuko to these urbanised monoliths of expulsion.

For a first outing, it’s all pretty legit stuff that’s already barely putting a foot wrong. Clearly the rate-of-knots momentum that Lake Malice have accumulated thus far has been redirected into all the right areas, for the kind of debut EP that’s practically their master key for whatever few doors they’ve got left to burst through. It’s not manufactured excitement, either; this is the real deal, a bastion of contemporary rock infused with a modern edge (emphasis on the ‘edge’) that’s not feeling overworked or overly artificial. It’s unfortunate that that has to be specified and praised as it comes, but it’s best to just take the wins as they come. Post-Genesis, then, is a pretty big win indeed.

For fans of: Bring Me The Horizon, Crossfaith, As Everything Unfolds

‘Post-Genesis’ by Lake Malice is released on 27th October on SO Recordings.

Artwork for NOBRO’s ‘Set Your Pussy Free’


Set Your Pussy Free

There’s about to be a lot of attention brought upon NOBRO, and it’d be foolish to suggest otherwise. They’re in the perfect place for it now, on the eve of their debut full-length arriving at a time when gnarly, female-focused punk is at a premium. But even when that’s hardly a rarity anymore (there’s another two releases in this very Round-Up alone to which the same points could be applied), there’s a bit of a different slant coming from NOBRO. Maybe it’s in how their alignment to melody-heavy garage-rock presents itself, but Set Your Pussy Free comes bearing some brighter, more extravagant shades among the usual punk palette. Not to an unrecognisable degree, but certainly to one that puts NOBRO in a standout position of their own.

It’s the ripping rock ‘n’ roll energy that’s the easiest to extract from this and extrapolate into an album that’s more about its own dynamism than anything else. Where others might tackle the injustices of the world head on, NOBRO opt to rampage through them, often under an influence of substances that’ll propel them all the more vigorously. Let’s Do Drugs makes that particular mission statement as clear as can be, as it spills over into the title track or Gimme More (Party Through The Pain) as a vault into rockstar hedonism that’s actually believable rather than playing to over-the-top fantasy. It’s frankly astonishing how easily NOBRO reveal the humanity in topics like this in ways that so few do, where there’s actually attention given to the escapism behind the words, instead of just the singular flat idea. The pinnacle of that here is arguably Delete Delete Delete, a song about an aversion to the Internet that, by some miracle, isn’t some boomer-coded monstrosity soapboxing a blanket ‘technology bad’ decree; its points about overstimulation at the chronically online are completely valid.

In finding the mid-section between chasing and embracing the rock ‘n’ roll dream and still having to deal with the ennui baked into modern society, Set Your Pussy Free actually has a fair bit more going for it than many might expect. Of course, that’s still funnelled through the medium of garage-rock rippers, but there’s variety there too. A.I. Sexbots has a great litheness when its rhythm section is bass and congas, while the rubbery riffs and fuzz of Cash In On My Cachet and the sizzle of Nobody Knows are the most overt classic rock pivots. Where that in particular would be an indelible crutch to some, NOBRO prove so adept at working around that through their own gusto. Kathryn McCaughey finds it so easy to parlay snotty braying into a well-rounded personality, without skimping on a certain intensity that feeds directly into NOBRO’s way of operating. It’s just as rough-hewn and bashed-out as you’d expect, made all the more palatable with a focus on extra precision à la power-pop or slacker-rock.

Set Your Pussy Free mightn’t be breaking down walls, but as a face in the contemporary punk catalogue that adds a much-appreciated splash of sonic diversity, NOBRO deliver in spades on this debut. Crucially, it also stands as its own thing. There’s a defined identity to this one that holds itself in high regard, in which NOBRO show a not-insignificant portion of where their shine comes from. Further to that, a pretty quick listen feels far from the extent of their abilities; NOBRO could easily pick up some solid longevity just by sticking on this same wavelength. The future is indeed bright for them, and Set Your Pussy Free is the best start they could’ve possibly asked for.

For fans of: PUP, The Dirty Nil, THICK

‘Set Your Pussy Free’ by NOBRO is released on 27th October on Dine Alone Records.

Artwork for Problem Patterns’ ‘Blouse Club’

Problem Patterns

Blouse Club

As new additions to the ever-growing crop of strongly DIY, even-more-strongly feminist punk bands that continues to rise, there’s a likelihood that Problem Patterns will find themselves held to certain expectations. To an extent, it’s not totally unreasonable when these acts are typically built around the same thematic core, but at the same time, it’s also missing the point a bit. In a textbook example of a rising tide lifting all ships, the vicious, righteous intent has proven most important, as opposed to what minutiae will differentiate the individual takes. So yeah, Blouse Club mightn’t be totally unique as an entity unto itself, but the might of the scene around it is really where Problem Patterns’ strongest blows get their assertiveness from.

It’s an appropriate reality for an album in no small part centred around female and queer empowerment, and slashing back at the systems that’ll seek to deny that. Armed to the teeth with potent doses of wit, snark and acrimony (and topped off with an occasional Irish brogue among the rotating cast of vocalists for added zest), the game plan from there isn’t hard to suss. Indeed, opening with Y.A.W and its thorough demolition of ‘talking points’ in opposition to feminism and women’s safety points Problem Patterns’ arrow firmly forward. It’s further adorned by fletching of reclaiming sexuality on Lesbo 3000 and putting the boot to transphobes on TERFs Out, against a backdrop of austerity that’s making everything markedly worse for everyone on Who Do We Not Save?. The punk spirit is undeniable, as is the bite with which Problem Patterns clamp down to leave some deep marks.

It goes to show just how much more intent can valued over innovation when the whole conceit of your band is a scrappy bunch of rabble-rousers punching upwards to amplify the voices of the downtrodden. Blouse Club’s punchy runtime and insistence on drawing its own boundaries easily facilitates that—Big Shouty finds its minute-and-a-half crusade of volume and noise exceptionally fruitful; elsewhere, A History Of Bad Men Part II and Domestic Bliss crumble and buckle under post-punk debitage as Problem Patterns slither into a more elemental darkness. It’s a neat couple of detours that provides Blouse Club’s most drastic swerves, although for as compelling as they are, straightforward punk is a much better fit for Problem Patterns. It suits their own snarl and acid-doused polemics in far tighter ways, not to mention fitting of a production style that’s fully conscious of the best way to use and distribute the band’s grit and weight.

It’s also the most proven method of hitting, both in the wider scene and for Problem Patterns themselves on this very album. They’ve come barrelling out of the gate here, imbued with the firepower and the ferocity that all punk worth its salt thrives on. Blouse Club fits in as a rock-solid addition among a slew of acts for whom that’s a staple quality at this point, firmly entrenched at the precipice of modern punk where every cut and cleave is just as impactful as the last. Problem Patterns are only the latest to propagate a frankly ridiculous run of rude health that’s nowhere close to calming down.

For fans of: Lambrini Girls, Witch Fever, Cherym

‘Blouse Club’ by Problem Patterns is released on 27th October on Alcopop! Records.

Artwork for BEX’s ‘SCUM’



Isn’t it odd how nu-gen just seems to have vanished from alternative consciousness? It seemed as though it was being primed as the next big thing, seeing the voracity of the push behind artists like Cassyette, but you’d be forgiven for thinking all of that hype has been killed stone dead. Of course, it hasn’t—Cassyette is still touring with Bring Me The Horizon next year; she’ll be fine—but you’d presume that BEX would’ve been quicker to capitalise on the trend’s apex when kickstarting her career. She’s certainly got the aesthetic and catch-all branding as a creative to fit in, although compared to most of them, SCUM isn’t as corralled into a singular, beaten-to-death idea.

Or rather, it is, but BEX has enough going for her to where an unerring rigidity is holding her so far back. Sonically, she’s more ‘traditionally‘ punk than her peers and contemporaries, in the sense that the loudened, gritted production is founded in live instrumentation, particularly bass. That’s the big positive that SCUM has going for it—when the bass is so prominent and forceful, there’s an underlying weight that can justify and suitably carry what’s going on elsewhere. The edge that’s brandished can do more than just be shown off and waved around ineffectually; BEX’s work actually has some kick to it, to where a strive towards breakdowns on Don’t Date The Devil and SPYD4 K1NG is a commendable effort, regardless of whether it comes together. Beyond that, the rough rattle of the guitar and percussion is a solid foil in cultivating the DIY affect. As far as the image and feel of down-the-middle punk goes, you could do a lot worse than SCUM.

But even then, it’s not like this is truly great either. It’s mainly down to how BEX herself isn’t the most immediately identifiable persona, especially with the punk / nu-gen-adjacent lineup. Lyrically, that’s especially true, where each song seems to hit upon the off-the-shelf talking points that tend to get bounced around fairly regularly—mental health on Chained To My Brain; embracing your own weirdness on Filfy; clapping back at condescending men on Misogynistic Dicks. In principle, it’s fine, but it’s also just rejigging a theme into place rather than building on it or reshaping it. At least BEX herself is good in its delivery, both in terse, piercing shouts and a surprisingly fluid clean register that often bears an uncanny resemblance to Marmozets’ Becca MacIntyre. It averages out to some solid footing overall, even if there’s still more to be done to build more distinguishable character upon it.

That’s fine as it currently stands, though. BEX already seems to pace to burn as far as building an artistic profile goes, and a debut EP that collects her impulses into a concrete package won’t hurt. The room to grow is evident, as is the aptitude for where she currently is, and that’s nothing to really complain about at this stage. As it stands, she already a better example of this sort of thing, even on the first go, and that’s encouraging moving forward if nothing else.

For fans of: Cassyette, Knife Bride, Bambie Thug

‘SCUM’ by BEX is released on 27th October on Scruff Of The Neck.

Words by Luke Nuttall

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