/ New Zealand Bands

NZ Noize: 2018

a3936934077_10-1First things first: this final EOY18 post also marks the end of this ol’ blog. I'll continue to write about noisy music-makers from home and abroad elsewhere online, and you’ll see the Six Noises tag again, but this blog is done and dusted when it comes to ‘new content’.

I’ll be honest, Six Noises is closing because the blog’s audience has all but disappeared. Obviously, that’s on me. I stopped promoting the blog on social media because… well, long story short, fuck that hustle… and that’s had a huge impact.

I post fairly intermittently too, and I don’t regurgitate news or press releases like many other blogs either. Basically, I’m a bit old-school. But not the cool vintage jacket kind of old-school. More like the ‘old man shouting at clouds’ kind of old-school.

Thing is, great blogs fail and terrible blogs succeed all the time – I’ll leave it up to you to decide where this blog falls on that spectrum. But, whatever I do, Six Noises can’t seem to gain any traction. Clearly, it’s time to shut up shop, which is a little sad. But I think it’s healthy to embrace reality rather than invest any time in self-deluding fictions.

Anyway…yawn...that’s more than enough about me – it's time to bring the motherfucking ruckus!

The end-of-year list below features some of New Zealand’s rowdiest releases from 2018 – plus a couple of quieter and arguably weirder ones too. Most of the musicians featured below are obsessed with making an ear-splitting racket. I’m guessing because they're compelled to. Or it’s a necessity. Or a fixation. Whatever the case, it’s clearly cathartic.

I love writing about underground and/or outsider music like that. I love shouting about musicians whose only real reward is in the creation and performance of their art. No one making the kind of deafening music appearing below is banking anything more than experiences and memories. There’s no hidden stash of ka-ching! in NZ subterranean music circles. However, no matter the trials and tribulations, underground and DIY music continue to thrive in NZ.

Much of the DIY music I write about is essentially art in its purest/rawest form – even if happens to be ugly, obnoxious, and often excruciatingly loud art. Most of the bands I write about sound like they’re gesturing hatefully or angrily, while others sound a little more compassionate. Whichever the case, all the bands I write about have something off-piste, non-mainstream, or even wildly unorthodox they want to convey.

Following an atypical route like that often means making sacrifices. But better that than unthinkingly falling into line. Better that than surrendering to mind-numbing conformity. Better that than selling your vitality for shallow and hollow rewards.

There are a lot of reasons why I admire the musicians gathered below, but none are more important than this:

All the musicians featured here – whether arseholes or kind-hearted souls – are carving out different paths in this life. They’re contributing something challenging, something unconventional, something that deviates from the norm. You often have to show a lot of creative as well as personal courage in the neverending battle between defiance and capitulation. So here’s to Six Noises' favourite noisy NZ releases from 2018 – honest, real and fucking uncompromising, one and all.

PS: My eternal thanks to the bands, labels, writers, readers, and friends who’ve supported Six Noises over the years. Underground music has saved the day for me on countless occasions. (I’m sure it’s done the same for you.) It’s been enormous fun being able to repay that debt by highlighting the joys of horrible noise.

And speaking of horrible noise…

Shallow Grave: Threshold Between Worlds
Auckland band Shallow Grave returned from the darkest depths this year, dragging the best NZ metal release of 2018 right behind them. The band's formidable Threshold Between Worlds album was a gateway to both the eternal and infernal. Ten-tonne sludge and doom oozed atmospheric drone and malevolent noise. And blood-red despair infected every second of the heavyweight release.

Corpse Rat/Feral Blood: Split
Piggery: S/T

Wellington band Corpse Rat combine raw Japanese punk with the echo of old-school black metal – and then they dunk the lot in rancid noise. The band's 2018 split with Motörcharged Nelson d-beat crew Feral Blood was an über-abrasive cacophony. Crashing crust met bass-heavy d-beat, with Scandi-driven harshness and blown-out chaos galore. Sublime mayhem – all round.

Wellington punks Piggery released two skull-cracking songs in 2018 – a teaser, of sorts, for their upcoming album. I don’t want to set the hype bonfire aflame, but based on the evidence here, Piggery’s impending debut fills me with Meth Drinker-levels of excitement. Crushing crust, sludge, and death metal. Decimating. Devastating. Disgusting. You know the deal.

Draulicht: Demo 2018
The gut-wrenching debut from Auckland sludge/doom band Draulicht was tailor-made for that horrible person lurking inside us all. The band are bona fide prophets of doom, and their first release duly crawled along with its down-tempo tracks comprised of raw feedback, rawer filth, and utter misery. Abrasive af. Challenging af. Punishing af. A+ af.

sere: S/T
Auckland "thug psych" band sere released their excellent full-length debut in 2018, and then they promptly broke up. Ah well, better to burn out… and all the jazz. One thing's for sure, sere’s first/final album was an acid-fried free-for-all. The noisenik's treasure chest saw punk-fuelled psych rock channelling inner space and outer space madness – and amp-melting exploits and echoing vocals galore. Amazing.

Spiteful Urinator: S/T + Acid Earth
Rabid ol’ Hamilton dogs Spiteful Urinator unleashed two bruising and bristling releases this year – a self-titled 7” and their Acid Earth CDr. Each release is as feral as the other, and you’d be well-advised to grab ’em both if gut-punching d-beat spliced with dark hardcore and crusty black metal floats your boat. Vitriolic primitivism + the rawest metal around = first-class spitting and snarling punk.

Methchrist/Self Harm: Split
Dunedin war metal trio Methchrist make deliberately confrontational music where misanthropy and blasphemy are both prime creative imperatives. The band’s lo-fi 2018 split with Australian raw black metallers Self Harm featured crude blasts of berserker metal (from both bands) making for a caustic and violently obnoxious release. Downright hostile. Bleeding-raw. And fucking ugly. Perfectly polarizing.

Stress Ghetto/Sick Old Man: Split
Stress Ghetto/Leech: Split

Wellington powerviolence trio Stress Ghetto featured on three split releases this year – and I'm pretty sure there's another primed for release soon. The band's split with Auckland crusties Sick Old Man was an unruly triumph. Stress Ghetto blasted through the noise barrier, with ill-mannered glee, and Sick Old Man delivered bile-spitting bursts of raw black metal and d-beaten råpunk. Buzzsawing brilliance.

I reviewed Stress Ghetto’s more recent split releases right here, and best of that bunch was their split cassette with Japanese band Leech. Both bands dealt in grinding blasts of raw, primitive, and pummelling powerviolence. As I said in my review: noise for noise's sake; always a good sign.

Rogernomix: Punch a Nazi in the Face
Long-running South Wellington punk crew Rogernomix released a storming new 7" this year. Punch a Nazi in the Face was (unsurprisingly) fuelled by as much political rage as it was subversive hunger. The 7” wasn't just a fierce critique of the shitgeist we currently inhabit though. Like all of Rogernomix’s raw eruptions of noise, their latest music ultimately provided much-needed catharsis.

Unsanitary Napkin: Orgasmic Capitalism
Fellow Wellington rabble-rousers Unsanitary Napkin also tackled political, social and cultural issues (while celebrating collective resistance) on their latest 7”. Orgasmic Capitalism saw Unsanitary Napkin adding a heavier dose of crusty hardcore into their hook-filled anarcho-punk. And much like Rogernomix, catharsis sits at the heart of the passionate music Unsanitary Napkin make.

Bridge Burner: Null Apostle
Auckland band Bridge Burner utilised elements of grindcore, crust, hardcore, black metal, and death metal to deliver all the crucial catharsis on their full-length debut. Null Apostle was overflowing with nihilistic noise, and while it was a bleak and hostile album – seamlessly fusing intensity and negativity – Null Apostle was also clearly a pathway to liberation. Purification through darkness. The best kind of exorcism.

G.D.V: S/T
Pvnisher: Pvnishment Demonstration II
Bowel Rupture: S/T
Molenaar: Hate Not Phobia
Gravel Pit: S/T

I'll admit to a little hometown bias, but it felt like Wellington's punk scene was overflowing with great music this year. I wasn't short of releases to admire; hence this list of five more filthy gems from Pōneke’s noisy underground.

G.D.V 's self-titled debut featured red-raw and unwashed crust (à la Doom or Instinct of Survival etc), which sounded like it'd give you tinnitus, hepatitis, and a maddening case of scabies – all at the same time. Sour, scathing, and… well, simply shit-hot lo-fi crossover crust, tbh.

The second demo from guitar/drum duo Pvnisher was a lo-fi crawl through the fetid guts of blown-out punk and ultra-scuzzy sludge. Putrid and raw – and about as comfortable as a rotting tooth. Pvnisher also dropped a reworked/muddier version of Deviated Instinct's "Disciples of the Storm" (retitled "Disciples of the Sludge") this year.

Bowel Rupture sound exactly like you'd imagine they would. Filled with grinding lo-fi crust – fuelled by traces of the rankest and rawest black metal – Bowel Rupture's self-titled debut was harsh, crude, unsavory, and downright fucking unpleasant. Obviously, those are also huge pluses in my book.

Molenaar's Hate Not Phobia debut was a prime piece of thickset and crust-caked d-beat – and the A.C.A.B. crew smashed it out in a single day in late-September 2018. Fans of hurtling metallic punk will likely dig the hefty crossover hardcore right here. Feral, fired-up, and filled with nasty barks and nastier instrumental batterings.

Last, but certainly not least, is Gravel Pit's self-titled debut. Far more melodic than the releases above, Gravel Pit's first release showed a wider range of influences too. Ripping 90s skate punk, thrash metal and trampling hardcore all featured. Breakneck and bruising – but with hooks galore.

Omit: Enclosures 2011-2016
Enclosures collected 30 tracks from New Zealand's most singularly curious and simultaneously mysterious outsider artist Omit (aka Clinton Williams). Omit has been making strange subterranean sounds since the 1990s, but due to his hermet-like nature, few have actually heard much of his music before now. Enclosures reveals the beauty and unease that much of Omit’s minimalistic music evokes. Deep-mind explorations soar over disconcerting planes, while crystalline sonic patterns merge with often ice-cold textures. It wouldn't be any kind of exaggeration to note that Enclosures is a work of pure genius.

Cruor Vexillum: S/T
Cruor Vexillum's self-titled debut paid tribute to Hellenic black metal of olde. There was a clear sense of mythos to the release and it was shrouded in a dark gothic aura too. Bombastic trad-metal was embraced here too, as were poetic/heroic narratives. Cruor Vexillum wove filthier and doomier elements into the depths of their music, finding the perfect equilibrium between corruptive and divine.

Mothers Dearest: S/T
Church of Goya: Goya is a Dead Man

The utterly uncompromising debut from Wellington noise/post-punk crew Mothers Dearest chisels deep into your brain with all the subtlety of a clawhammer. The band's five-song release also sounded like it was recorded inside a concrete mixer packed with shards of steel and worst nightmares. An absolute no-fi triumph of weird/harsh noise that evoked icons like The Gordons in terms of its sheer sonic abrasiveness. No question – head-fucking album of the year.

The Church of Goya are also indebted to sound explorers like The Gordons and the Skeptics, and their Goya is a Dead Man featured a sheet-metal uproar assaulted by skittery and spiky noise. Goya is a Dead Man leached an unnerving sense of isolation and desolation, and recorded live, the album thrums with paranoid tension.

Arc of Ascent / Zone Six: Split
Hypnotic Hamilton heroes Arc of Ascent are Godz amongst us mere mortals. The band explore celestial and spiritual spheres fusing overdriven stoner rock with hallucinogenic psychedelia and a mountain of both interstellar and crushing raga-doom. Arc of Ascent's 2018 split with Krautrockers Zone Six saw them contribute two lengthy tracks that were replete with astronomical heaviness and transcendental limitlessness. Mind-melting. Mesmerizing. Meditative. As always, magnificent.

Bulletbelt: "Faster than Death/The Voyager"
Black metal thrashers Bulletbelt started 2018 by releasing Nine Centuries, which proved to be their last album with vocalist Jolene Tempest. The band then came roaring back later this year with a new singer in Scott Spatcher-Harrison, and they sounded heavier, more hostile and more menacing than ever. Spatcher-Harrison’s guttural growls tore through the band's high-octane "Faster than Death/The Voyager" 7". Long may that gnashing and crashing approach reign.

Bloodbags: Sinister Deeds
Auckland band Bloodbags is fronted by Andrew Tolley, whose exploits with cult NZ garage punk duo Hasselhoff Experiment are rightly revered. Bloodbags’ Sinister Deeds 7” featured two lo-fi tracks constructed from crooked blues and the scrapiest and greasiest rock around. There’s no embeddable link available for these jams, I’m afraid, but if you want to listen to A-side track, “Elder Statesman”, click right here.

Tuscoma: Arkhitecturenominus
Wellington duo Tuscoma used to be a trio called Hollywoodfun Downstairs, but a new name and a reduced line-up weren’t the only changes evident on Tuscoma’s debut. Tuscoma took Hollywoodfun Downstairs’ noise punk elements and dunked them in acid, before hurling them into a brain-twisting stew of blackened hardcore. Harsher and heavier torrents of noise followed. With Tuscoma proving to be an even more interesting and intense band.

Bulk Bogan: Flex
Various: Hairy Palm Vol. 2

Bulk Bogan’s Flex debut was primed to pummel your senses in 2018. Like all good full-bore powerviolence purges, the band sprinkled a few bulldozing breakdowns into all the noxious noise. But amongst all the whirlwind dissonance were sludgier and slower sections, and those off-kilter twists and turns wove subtle albeit still relentless shading into Bulk Bogan’s neck-wrecking debut.

A great noisy music compilation always encourages you to dig deeper and discover even more interesting music. Hairy Palm Vol. 2 definitely did that. The compilation collected various strains of ugly underground music from Aotearoa – sampling a wide range of nasty-sounding acts. Battering tracks from Stress Ghetto, Spiteful Urinator, Noxo, Corpse Rat, Sick Old Man (and more) all featured. Making for an ear-piercing introduction to some of NZ's noisiest bands.

Ave Teth: MMXVIII
Mutation: S/T
Bodyache: Vehement Suffering

The impressive first release from Auckland industrial band Ave Teth explored the gloomiest dungeons of nerve-scraping experimentalism. MMXVIII was comprised of bleak and unsettling soundscapes where the aesthetic influence of groups like Einstürzende Neubauten, Nurse With Wound, and Coil (and kin) were ever present. Arcane, daunting, and grim. A very promising debut.

Mutation is the latest creative venture from Wellington musician John Dimery. Mutation’s three-song, self-titled debut was touted as a foray into the world of primitive sonics, and Dimery's haunting and twisted electronics exposed the crumbling nature of our own lives. Make a start to purge your darkest thoughts and desires right here.

Christchurch noise-merchant Bodyache tore a rent in reality with the mind-smashing barrage of power-noise/grindcore on their Vehement Suffering debut. With a focus on conjuring the anguish of mental health battles, Bodyache's caustic sound evoked an endless struggle with nightmare horrors both real and imagined. Release via raucous noise is the end goal here.

Backyard Burial: Repeat Offender
Backyard Burial's 2002 album Repeat Offender isn't a new release by any means. However, local label Limbless Music released the album on vinyl for the first time this year, and that was a long-overdue tribute to the cult band's continued influence as well a nod to the memory of Backyard Burial's late-frontman Matt “Blaps Warmonger” Hall. If raw and chugging death metal mixed with equally gruesome grindcore is your thing, then guttural grunts, blasting percussion and mangling guitars await.

No Class: Painted in a Corner
Ex-NZ now Aus-based bovver bois No Class released their long-awaited full-length debut in 2018. Painted in a Corner featured a steel-capped mix of Oi!, pub rock and hard rock – with influences from the likes of Anti Nowhere League, Rose Tattoo, and early AC/DC and Motörhead. Working-class to the core, No Class are a rip-roaring riot. And Painted in a Corner was as rungas as rungas gets. Sadly, the band’s bass player Kalem passed away suddenly a few weeks before the release of the album. His loss affecting many at home and overseas. Exit Fear: EP 1
Contenders: React

Exit Fear vocalist, Dorian Noval, was involved in two great debut releases this year – namely, this hammering hardcore success, as well as the first release from Auckland "wine punk" duo Tooms. Exit Fear cited bands like Cursed and His Hero Is Gone as influences, and their fierce EP 1 featured an awesome fusion of emotional fervour and unrestrained instrumental ferocity.

Hamilton band Contenders released their debut EP, React, this year and it was loads of scrappy/scuzzy/grungy fun. The band's singer, Cilla, has a super-catchy voice and she (and the rest of the band) sounded even better when they dropped a re-recorded version of the track “Teenage Crybaby” in September. All things point to Contenders' next release being an absolute riot.

The All Seeing Hand: Syntax Error
The All Seeing Hand continued to dazzle and delight with psychedelic thrills and ecstatic surprises aplenty on their 2018 album Syntax Error. The trio construct soundscapes from punk-driven percussion, head-spinning turntablism, and all manner of multilayered sound manipulations and traditional Mongolian throat-singing. Syntax Error mixed far-out futurism with electro-concussive exhilarations for more mind-bending and genre-blending magnificence.

Hum Sufferer: S/T
Not long after I published my review of Wellington drone duo Hum Sufferer's self-titled release this year, one of the band’s members posted online that they were just mucking about on their debut. Fair enough. But if that's the case, the end result well and truly outstripped their intentions. Hum Sufferer's vast and fathomless oceans of sound channelled the spectre of existential and interstellar dread exceptionally well – and there was captivating grace to all their grimness. Parents: Demo
Auckland hardcore/screamo act Parents released a collection of early demo recordings this year in tribute to the band’s original drummer Stefan Clist, who passed away in April 2018. The ten songs on Parents’ demo were rough around the edges, but that didn’t reduce their impact one iota. Parents’ raw and hungry hardcore howled with full-strength ferocity and foot-to-the-floor intensity.

Stress: Misery Fatigue
Stress' first release wasn't what I was expecting, but the band sold me anyways, which is the perfect reason to give Misery Fatigue a spin. Expect hybrid hardcore with post-metal, sludge, noise rock and post-hardcore fusing together in high-pressured and high-powered maelstroms. A volatile, vicious and promising debut.

Dogcock: S/T
Dogcock features members who've played in the equally delightfully named Aborted Christians, and the Hamilton band's self-titled debut was an obnoxious shitstorm of gristly and grizzly death metal, grindcore, and thrashcore. Recommended for guzzlers of the worst imaginable noise.

Afterword...
This year was overflowing with great NZ punk releases. I included a lot of my firm favourites above, but I also featured releases from bands like Zukov, Dud, Swallows, Wakhan Corridor, and Hedge Fund Trader on Six Noises in 2018, and they're all well worth checking out too.

(FYI: if you liked the music Six Noises covered, keep a close eye on Under the Radar, Symphonies of Sickness, and Up the Punks, who all highlight a similar range of noise.)

Sadly, I didn’t get to spend half as much time as I wanted to listening to NZ experimental music or heavier NZ bands occupying the alternative rock sphere this year. In past years, I’ve included a bunch of such releases on my EOY lists, but not this time round. Apologies for that.

Lastly, I didn't feel drawn to a lot of NZ metal this year. Mostly that's down to personal taste – rather than quality, as such. Releases from bands like Thousand Limbs and Wolf Wizard, as well as death metal bands like Dark Divinity, Depths, and Scorn of Creation, were praised by many others though.

If you’re after a couple of NZ metal samplers, the popular Doomed & Stoned Bandcamp compilation series released a NZ edition in 2018, which collected 27 stoner, doom, and hard rock bands. Plus, Christchurch label Gutsprayer Records released two collections entitled CHCH Metal Compilation 1992-2003 and 2004-2013, gathering two decades worth of the most brutal Christchurch extreme metal.

If you made it this far, thanks again for supporting Six Noises.

I’ll see ya round. Fingers crossed!