The idea that metal and punk are somehow more authentic than other genres of music is a myth in this day and age. Sure, there are still pockets in metal and punk communities where words like integrity or scruples do have meaning. But we’ve also all witnessed, many times, exactly how shallow both metal and punk can be when vacuous bands are hyped, via utterly transparent marketing strategies, to cash in on fleeting trends.
Plenty of metal and punk bands would sell their souls in a split second for the mere chance of having a song premiere on this week’s site du jour. But none of that is strange or unexpected. And I’m not making a judgement call about any of the above behaviours either. I’m simply stating the facts, as we all know them to be.
However, because superficiality is so prevalent in metal and punk, it’s always that much more refreshing when you encounter principled bands or labels dedicated to releasing distinctive art regardless of the whims of popular opinion. Labels like New York-based Broken Limbs Recordings. Who clearly aren’t concerned about clickbait or buzzword market trends. Or worrying about what’s in vogue this week.
The staunchly independent Broken Limbs was formed in 2012, and the label is underpinned by a steadfast DIY ethic and a passion for releasing works from artists the label believes in. Broken Limbs has been remarkably consistent in releasing gripping music as well. I can’t say I’ve loved every release from the label’s roster of rabble-rousers, but even releases that didn’t hit the mark were clearly created by artists driven to express themselves in wonderfully unrestrained and often entirely unhinged terms.
That’s meant that Broken Limbs now has an increasingly long-line of releases well worth exploring. Including crucial and widely regarded early works from the likes of Cara Neir, Vattnet Viskar, and Oak Pantheon. And more recent rough-cut and rightly applauded gems from bands such as Krieg, Venowl, and Immortal Bird.
In Six Noises’ recent round-up of the best punk and metal from 2015, I included a number of artists from Broken Limbs’ roster that I’d wholeheartedly recommend. (See storming releases from Leather Chalice, Ramlord, and Caïna.) However, there’s still plenty of other great releases on Broken Limbs’ impeccably curated catalogue worth highlighting.
I want to dig a little deeper for you and feature some of the label’s releases that might have slipped under the radar. So, here’s half a dozen more fantastically brain-battering Broken Limbs releases. A veritable six-pack of ferocious punk and metal that I hope will encourage you to further explore the label’s sterling (and always rampaging) cassette, vinyl and digital releases.
Atrament: Eternal Downfall
Oakland, California-based Atrament mix UK-influenced d-beat, crust and anarcho punk into a corrosive blend of Scandinavian death and black metal. The band’s Eternal Downfall album, due for vinyl release via Broken Limbs on 4 March, and available for pre-order right now, is produced by Greg Wilkinson (Graves at Sea, Noothgrush, Vastum) and mastered by famed sonic sorcerer Brad Boatright. So it’ll be no surprise when I tell you Eternal Downfall sounds huge, ugly, and fucking intense. Fans of bands like War//Plague, Krigblåst, Wolfbrigade, Doom, and Bolt Thrower can expect to be thrilled and trampled in equal measure by a ten-tonne and ill-disposed mix of burly metal and raw gutter punk. I know it’s only the start of 2016, but I guarantee I’ll still be crowing about Eternal Downfall come the end of the year. It’s punishing, and perfectly hideous. Phenomenal, really.
The only word to describe the sophomore album from German sludge trio is monstrous. Loathe was one of 2015’s heaviest records, both in terms of its sonic weight and the impact of the embittered nihilism spat out therein. If the chest-crushing riffs, percussion, and ill-tempered vocals of bands like Indian, Primitive Man, Grief, or New Zealand’s very own sludge punks Meth Drinker appeal, then Nightslug has got all your curmudgeonly needs covered. Rest assured, the levels of spite and hostility displayed on Loathe foster a worldview where hating everyone and everything all of the time is the prime tenet.
Harrow: Fallow Fields
Canadian band Harrow’s second album, Fallow Fields, is very much of the Cascadian school of black metal. Harrow have an atavistic accent and a nature-centric feel about them, but there’s also a sense of something much grander being honoured on Fallow Fields. Especially when the raw electric guitars and throat-bleeding vocals fade away, and beautiful acoustic folk passages take over to let the sun break through the clouds. If standing on mountaintops and glorying in the sights of skies above and forests below sounds good, or if bands like Alda, Skagos, Falls of Rauros and Wolves in the Throne Room already appeal, then you’ll likely find Fallow Fields exquisite too.
Occult 45: Human Abhorrence
I’ve spent a lot of time raving about releases from Broken Limbs’ bands Leather Chalice and Ramlord in the past. Deservedly so, as well. Both bands feature Jan Slezak on vocals and guitar, both issued very strong releases in 2015, and both create some of the filthiest punk ’n’ metal you’re ever likely to hear. However, it’d be fair to say that Occult 45 gave both those bands a run for their money on 2015’s Human Abhorrence. Occult 45’s 7-track, 12-minute 7″ is replete with dirty distortion and an unsanitary mix of grindcore, hardcore, and powerviolence––with plenty of other caustic and lo-fi metallic noise thrown in. Highly recommended if torrents of turbo-speed pandemonium float your boat. (See also, Absolutist’s Traverse 7″ for another punk rock riot from Broken Limbs’ roster that sounds short, sharp and decidedly vicious.)
Ad Nauseum: S/T
Ad Nauseum’s self-titled 2015 EP is the third release from the Florida-based four-piece; although, it’s the first music I’ve heard from the band. Like the music of labelmates Nightslug, Ad Nauseum’s sound is heaving, heavy and filthy, and the band are also clearly filled to the brim with bile and hatred. However, there are also marked differences to Ad Nauseum’s self-titled EP. For a start, it’s starker, bleaker, and more experimental in nature. With the band dragging in industrial, noise, hardcore, and churning (and pitch-black) doom and death metal elements. In all, Ad Nauseum’s EP is very much a multilayered horrorshow. Filled with very dark and very impressive deadfalls overflowing with the rot and refuse of humanity. Perfect.
Moro Moro Land: Through
Russian four-piece Moro Moro Land show an enormous amount of promise on their fiery 2015 four-track EP, Through. Adding dense post-metal atmospherics to a sound already indebted to the nexus where post-hardcore and progressive metal meet, Moro Moro Land’s music would find favour first and foremost with fans of Cult of Luna, Neurosis, Isis, The Ocean, and co. Similarly, Moro Moro Land’s music features dynamic shifts and dramatic swings. So if you’re looking for jagged-edged and down-tuned music that features as much of punk rock’s passion as it does of heavy metal’s darkness, then Moro Moro Land’s Through is certainly well worth investigating.