Review: Pariso/Svalbard – Split

Pariso and Svalbard are two of the most prolific, hard-working and downright fucking fantastic offerings from the section of UK hardcore. They are acts that hold such oft-forgotten notions as integrity in high esteem. You won’t find either of these bands on package tours sponsored by energy drinks companies or sauntering round in high-quality music videos in Supreme caps and Hype t-shirts. This is D.I.Y hardcore at its most confrontational and artistically inclined, showcasing the best aspects of each band in all their ultra-heavy splendour. Teaming up for this unique split-album, the record consists of seven tracks composed individually by the respective bands plus two more which are collaborations between the musicians. Judging by the result of this experimental endeavour, it is a practice that produces some truly edifying results, each band upping their game considerably to produce some of the best work either has written thus far.

Pariso’s contribution is a succinct continuation of the stylistic approach sought on their sublime and punchy record Consanguinity, released last year. With crushing hardcore as its base, the songs are alive with metallic flourishes whilst the heaviness seems to have only increased, the Slipknot influences being more open than ever before. Once a band known for the brevity of their tracks, Pariso have evolved into exceptional craftsmen, able to hold town tight grooves and assemble true ‘songs’ rather than a simple repertoire of crudely conjoined riffs. A cleaner production style aids in the translation of a new-found dynamics, although it benefits the post-hardcore stylings of Svalbard to a much greater degree, accentuating the rift between the band’s quieter and more melodic motifs with their driving intensity. Elsewhere, riffs of particular barbaric intensity, such as the demonic trawl through a particularly doom-laden passage at the close of Pariso’s ‘Underground Notes’, impact with assured viciousness. As in Consanguinity, many of the riffs can easily be construed as ‘hooky’; those that form the central attack on ‘Helios, The Demise’ are particularly memorable examples.

Whilst Pariso bring the muscle in the form of pulverising riffs and imposing physicality, Svalbard’s disposition often seems more cerebral and melodically inclined. ‘Ripped Apart’ exudes skyward-bound post-rock guitars and delay-soaked lead lines that give way to a particularly violent chug. Similarly, ‘Greyscale’ rushes by in a storm of blastbeats, flirting with black metal tropes in frenetic flurries. Reaching a particularly epic apex, it comes across like a snippet of a Guides By Voices track given a screamo makeover. The high-octane mood is lowered exponentially for ‘Allure’, a song whose intro is a work of measured fragility, hushed guitars slowly gathering in pace and volatility until the track opens up into a restless hardcore gallop.

By far the highlights on the record however, are the collaborative tracks which combine the defining elements of each band into an impeccable stew of pure unbridled brutality that includes a particularly bone-headed three note breakdown alongside Svalbard’s favoured melodic guitar lines. ‘Faceless’ posits an instantly tangible thrash influence given the hardcore treatment, warped into a marauding brute of a track. Yet it is opener ‘Floating Anchors’ that really impacts with a composition that is both accomplished and irrevocably heavy, combining a dual vocal attack into a track that nears perfection.

As a showcase for the UK’s hardcore underground, the record posits Pariso and Svalbard as the leading lights within the D.I.Y scene. Immeasurably brutal, yet possessing a more cerebral inclination on the part of both bands, this is a hardcore record to remedy the growing prominence of base and one-dimensional beatdown music. What’s more, it is proof that heaviness and intelligent compositions are not mutually exclusive.

4.5 out of 5 high fives!

Review: Pariso – Consanguinity

Holy shit! Where did this record come from? Consanguinity emerges with no hype, no prior announcement or any of those irritating “teaser” videos that are now standard industry exponents – in doing so casting a refreshing air of mysticism over the release instead of a formulaic and monotonous build-up. Consanguinity sees Pariso shed much of their penchant for brevity and insistence on getting to the point in the most intense possible way whilst maintaining the ridiculous levels of beats-per-minute to which they apply their terrifying hardcore fare.

Comprised of Pariso’s trademark pulverising grind, the soundtrack to many a violent and sweaty pit, Consanguinity exudes a more spacious quality than much of their previous claustrophobic hellfire yet compromises absolutely none of their impossible heaviness. A decidedly amped up production courtesy of Ranch Studios- the go-to studio for the UK underground heavy contingent, aides the bands newfound eye for expanse. It ensures moments of pure brutality arrive like a bludgeon to the face whereas sparse moments of relative introspection convey affecting atmospherics.

Instances of blurred intensity are decidedly more sporadic than their earlier output, the guitarists are now discovering the mischievous glee of penning riffs that crush and pulverise. Whilst sections such as the opening grind of opener ‘The Separation’ and the unstoppable driving force of ‘Pigs’ exude familiar levels of devastations: guitar and drums united in chaotic flurry, the sonic palette they eschew is capacious. Influences emerge from the murkier corners of the heavy rock diaspora, spreading their tendrils towards the unorthodox and toying with some ideas that exist decidedly outside of the box. There is even a occurrence of *gasp* sung vocals, somewhat of a faux-pas for many bands in Pariso’s field and a device seemingly at odds with the band’s feral and brutal disposition. Yet, in the context of ‘Tower of Genus’, a track modelled on a post-hardcore mould engrained with melodic inflictions that nod toward Deftones heavy/lush juxtaposition, the ‘clean’ vocals soar, contrasting the caustic grain of Mario’s defiantly English-accented screams.

The tired cliché of “heavy yet more melodic” can be applied here with upmost validity, the band awakening to the impact that a wider dynamic field can yield. This is a band who surely have yet to reach their creative peak, a myriad of potential pathways lay before the group. For Pariso, brutality knows no bounds, they are evidently still intent on penning the most uncompromisingly intense music their bodies and psyches can withstand. Thankfully, their curiosity to toy with moments of oddity and the unexpected leaves Pariso as an ever-evolving entity whose artistry can surely only proliferate.

4.5 out of 5 high fives!

Circle Takes The Square – Camden Underworld, 31/7/13

Hot on the heels of surprise release Consanguinity, Pariso’s set is rammed with storming new tracks plus a few of their older and deftly speedier material.  Despite their best efforts and plenty of perspiration from frontman Mario, the local band are met with a stoically static crowd that refuse to budge despite a torrent of riffs that should indeed lay waste to the room but are instead responded to with warm applause.

Full Of Hell are an altogether darker prospect.  Desolate and putrid, their version of hardcore takes the genre into some of the deepest depths of aural depravity.  A two minute blast of furious breakneck punk is followed by coruscating feedback: like sandpaper to the ears.  Vocals flit between dry-retching and wicked gurgles, the possessed frontman’s intense and disconcerting glare slowly surveying the room with nothing less than abhorrence for everyone within its stale confines.  Those down at the front are eager to react with that oh-so-familiar violent physicality, repeatedly denied by a band who seems to take much pleasure in descending into extended bouts of white noise.  A My Bloody Valentine style noise holocaust ends the decrepit proceedings, glitches from tortured circuitry adding to a pulsating bout of terrifying sound.  It’s decidedly unhinging- sending everyone in the room into a state of trance, feedback tearing at the ears and low end transferring tremors through everyone’s innards.  Surely amongst the most uncompromising and unsettling thirty minutes of grating music you’re ever likely to witness.

With many propping up the bar or merch stall, Code Orange Kids start their set to a rather sparse room. Unperturbed, they dive headfirst into their savage take on metallic hardcore, their bodies soon lurching with instruments thrashed around, taking the full brunt of each member’s furious display.  A potent momentum is soon built, the energy of both the band and a swelling crowd on an upward trajectory, physically manifesting in a pit that drags in more onlookers with each crushing chug, letting loose their ritualized gestures of violent abandon.  Guitarist Becca delivers her guttural banshee howls through a wall of sweat-ridden hair as the boys in the band commence the ritual of stripping themselves of inhibiting garments. ‘Liars///Trudge’ is one half savage dirge, the other an atmospheric foray into inner turmoil with Becca swapping her howls for hushed singing and allowing the pit dwellers to catch their breath as the rest of the Underworld stares in awe.  At the final track of set the band have whipped up an electric tension within the room, those at the front form a heap of flailing limbs as more reserved onlookers can’t help but headbang in approval.  As the zenith of intensity is reach the impossibly young four-piece pull one of the oldest tricks in the book: leave the crowd hungry with an abrupt and unannounced finish.  A mass of impassioned screams for encore go unanswered.

Tonight’s headliners Circle Take The Square return to the damp squalor of the Underworld after a nine year absence, taking to the stage under some simple but effective atmospheric lighting, emitting a cold beam onto each individual member.  The least visceral of the evening’s acts, Circle Takes The Square’s are an incredibly polished live entity- as to the demands of their progressive and intricate music where subtleties and dynamics need to be as palpable as possible to be affecting.  Tonight though, the band’s progressions become its undoing with their obtusely extended song lengths and overly long set time verging on over-indulgence.  Circle Takes The Square seem to be the antithesis of the uncompromising adrenaline-inducing abrasion that came before- their measured approach and instrumental digressions proving too much for the casual listener which, judging by the steady trickle of people heading for an early exit, makes up a sizeable portion of the crowd.  A gaggle of hardcore fans lap up the old ‘screamo’ songs and guitarist Drew’s schizophrenic preacher on barbiturates vocal style.  The band’s insistence playing exclusively new material for the first portion of their set may contribute to their lack of impact- especially as an eager gaggle down the front lap up songs from 2004’s As The Roots Undo. By the time they leave the stage the Underworld is only half full.  Their performance may be flawless but it lacks the grit and feral intensity that many in the crowd yearn for.

There is little doubt that the show is stolen by those plucky young Code Orange Kids, the only band who leave the crowd ravenous and baying to be brutalised further.  They prove themselves to be a vital prospect, and along with Full Of Hell’s hollocaustal tyranny they provoke a disconcerting emotional response that makes you feel alive, leaving Circle Takes The Square looking rather meek in comparison.