Interview: No Saving Grace

Photo credit: Jetro Staven.

No Saving Grace caught my attention with the recent two-track digital release: Private Hell and Shadow. Both tunes absolutely knock. If you're into heavy ass beatdown hardcore but without all the drama and posturing look no more. It's just two songs but the band does not miss a step musically or lyrically. Honest, down to earth lyrics backed by a bone-crushing groove plucked straight from 90' beatdown heyday. Check out the interview below, check the new tunes and check their back catalog, the band has been steadily putting out records since 2014.

Could you please introduce No Saving Grace and give us some history of the band? I be honest, although you’ve been around for a couple years already, it’s just now that I got to learn about the band.
NSG have been around since 2013 but released our first demo in 2014 due to a lot of line up changes. Since then we have put out EPs, demos, played a bunch of shows in the UK/Germany/Finland etc and recently put out a promo tape on Moral Panic Records. I guess one the main reasons we have been flying under the radar so much is because we come from a smaller town in northern Europe without any big label promoting us and haven’t been touring nearly as much as we should. We’re still grinding as a band though and plan to put out an album as our next move.

There’s no money, no glory, no fame, so why start a hardcore band?
I think for most people it’s the love of the music and the energy you get from playing hardcore shows can be really addictive. For me it’s both of those reasons but also I got a lot of shit I wanna vent about and having a band where I can write lyrics about that stuff and having people relate to it is really important to me. Plus the love you get from the hardcore scene is huge.

Interview: Exposure

Exposure rep German hardcore scene and I gotta tell you, their latest stuff in the form of Atonement will wreck you. The band stays winning with heavy ass Clevo worship sounding like In Cold Blood or some shit. This is my unexpected champing of recent months and if you sleep on this band, you're a total ass.

Straight off the bat, that Atonement promo tracks are fire. We will talk about that, but first tell me about Exposure. How it all began?
Thanks man, appreciate it. Exposure began as a - probably late night - idea of mine when I was watching some movie of questionable quality. I had a bunch of riffs and ideas floating around in my head and decided to try and turn them into songs. Few weeks later, I did some rough demoing and showed it to rest. Except for Mi(s)cha, we had all been in a Powerviolence band of sorts called Hikikomori that never really went anywhere and we had joked that Volker sounded too much like Dwid at times to not seize that opportunity, so there we are.

So, give us some insights about Atonement. How the promo tracks are representative for the upcoming full length?
Well, they're 2 songs that sort of cover the spread of what we do as a band. We mosh, we pogo (leather jacket with Deathside and Bastard backpatches) and we enjoy the heavy metal music. Also, these are the 2 songs of the full length we've been playing for the longest. The rest of the full length is different variations of what we've done on the demo. A little more finesse maybe but in essence, our approach is trying to write a hard song with several hard riffs.

For the collectors, who will release the album and on what format?
We're still trying to figure out the specifics but it will most likely be vinyl only.

Your sound has been compared to Clevo bands, do you agree with it? What bands were major influences when starting the band?
Oh yeah, definitely. I'm trying to channel the obvious, golden era Integrity, Ringworm, In Cold Blood, Only The Strong Compilation but I also look to bands like Bastard, Deathside and other Japanese Hardcore bands for influence.

Interview: Embitter

New born fire legion out of Poland. I recommend this to anyone who likes Arkangel and Reprisal and often finds themselves thinking how sick, corrupted and unmoral this world has become. What can I say, Orwellian is just THE shit, bruh. That record has all the time-honored and perhaps even cliched tropes of European metalcore golden age. The violence, the darkness, the mayhem. Get berserk!

For those unfamiliar with the band - what people should know about Embitter?
That’s a tough question to begin with and to tell you truth I am not sure where to start. I guess, all you need to know that we are a band supporting vegetarian & vegan lifestyle. Some of us are straight edge and we do love metalcore. Morning Again, Arkangel, Integrity - shall I name more?

The music on the Orwellian is dark and heavy and grimy in the best tradition of classic edge-metal. I was curious what made you gravitate towards that type of sound?
We had some kind of an idea what to play when we had recorded our first EP but looking back, it was some kind of a fight between directions we wanted to go. Starting the band we had different understanding of metalcore. Mine was Unbroken, Poison the Well but for example Adam’s was clearly Arkangel or Length Of Time. “Orwellian” is a more complex and solid piece in my opinion. It gives a clue what you may expect from the upcoming LP. We managed to work out let’s say our way to play this kind of music.

Interview: Coldstare

Bounce Back album by Belgium's Cold Stare was a solid slice of NYHC influenced hardcore with lyrics anyone could latch onto. Part serious and grimy, part positive and uplifting, the themes on the album are deeply rooted in an attitude where loyalty and self respect are always front and center. For people raised on healthy dose of Backfire! or Rykers the album delivers all the tropes a starved eurocore junkie could possibly want. If you're in that group I suggest get familiar with Cold Stare, starting from the interview with band's vocalist Philippe

For the kids who may not know who you are, can you introduce the band and tell us where you are from?
Thanks for reaching out & doing this interview! COLDSTARE originates from Antwerp/Belgium. The line-up is Willy on guitar, Javier plays bass and Glenn ‘Lappy’ is our drummer. Glenn is our original drummer. He rejoined the band end 2017. I’m Philippe doing vocals.

Your recent album Bounce Back came out just recently. For those who were too lazy to check it out, what they should expect from it?
Hell yeah! It’s released by WTF Records. Ask your local hc dealer, get it from WTF Records & Distro or directly from (bandcamp) , worldwide shipping available.

„Bounce Back“ is a very diverse album. You’ll get in-your-face fast oldschool hardcore alternated with up-tempo songs, grooves, breakdowns, singalongs, two-step parts, some more bouncy hip-hop influences, some metal parts, punk songs… You know, we all mix it up. That’s what sets us apart from a lot of other bands. We play a melting pot of styles.

Oldschool hardcore stays the backbone of every song. Most important to us is a good song structure. We try to avoid milking out the same riff or break all over again.

Interview: Mindwar

Up for some heavy ass NYHC worship? Then step right up. Belgium's Mindwar is up and coming name on the European hardcore map and their latest EP, Hollow, has an energy that I really like. I could hear Backtrack, No Turning Back and even some Blacklisted influence in these tracks. They got all the ingredients of that style right plus the lyrics that anyone feeling down, angry or just dealing with some awkward situations can relate to. Check out the interview to learn more about these boys.

Can you us give a quick introduction to Mindwar and explain a little how you got started playing music together?
Mindwar is basically a big "band of brothers" (literally!) Anthony (vocals) and Emanuel (guitar) are in fact brothers and I've known these guys for over 19y so we're practicly family. We' all grew up in the same city and share more or less the same interests, one of them being hardcore. After a few years of going to shows together we felt like the Belgian scene was missing something. Beatdown was very popular at that time (thank god those days are over, everyone acted as if they grew up in the hood or some shit looking like they were living in a fucking trailerpark) and we were more into the groovier "I wanna stomp holes in the floor and stagedive headfirst into a brick wall" type of hardcore. Nobody was doing that at the time so that's when we came up with the idea of starting our own band. At first we just jammed either in mine or in Anthony and Emanuel's backyard, just the 3 of us goofing around. Things started speeding up when we invited long-time friend Jelle to the party. At that time he didn't even know how to play drums, still he was our best bet for making this band kinda work. Recently we added Andy to our ranks as a 2nd guitarist and now here we are, just released our ep "Hollow".

Give us some details on the upcoming ep Hollow. Is it going to be along the lines of the demo and generally, what kids should expect from it?
Our ep is basically the demo 2.0. We wrote the songs for our demo like 3-4 years ago and to be honest back than we had no idea what we were doing or how a "Mindwar-song" was supposed to sound like, we just wrote whatever we felt like writing. The demo was pure hardcore worship that included every element we liked about the genre at that time. While writing for our ep I feel like we really found our sound and stepped up our game as far as songwriting goes. Since the release of our demo we all grew so much both as musicians and as people and I think that you're able to hear that growth when you listen to the ep. The hooks are bigger, the riffs are heavier… We just wanted to be the best version of Mindwar we could possibly be and write the best Mindwar tunes we could possibly write.

New blood: Last Orders

Cold Hard Truth, Crippler LBU, Ironed Out, Proven... these are just some of the bands members of Last Orders had their dirty hands in. If you know anything about LBU scene you know it reads like who is who over there, meaning quality is guaranteed. Last Orders is more on the relaxed side of things, especially when it comes to subject matter that revolves around beer, fried chicken and telling hipsters to FUCK OFF... All acceptable topics for a hardcore song. Check out the interview with Ryan (guitar) and Louis (vocals).

First off, Last Orders - give us some overview of the band. How did you get started?

Ryan: Bunch of mates that talked about doing an old school sounding band for a while. Ended up all fitting together well with everyone being on the same page as to what they wanted this band to be....

Louis: Ry (Guitars) had an idea to start a new band but wanted to try something a little different. So he approached Louis (Vocals) who was looking to start another band but wanted to do vocals on his own. After that Ry spoke with Joe (Guitar), Louis chatted to Jake (Drums) and finally Joe asked Skel (Bass) who was up for doing something after taking a few years out from playing in a band.

There’s no money and no fame in playing hardcore, so why do it?

Ryan: We do it because we love it. The music, the message and the people we meet along the way.

Louis: For me I've always done it for two reasons. Firstly, as a release and secondly because in a world that is hard to get your voice heard without diluting your message, hardcore is a great platform to get whatever it is off your chest and spit your rage (so to speak). It's never, ever been about money or fame.

Interview: Big Cheese (UK)

Big Cheese rep UK and sound like Breakdown and Warzone put together. Their Aggravated Mopery ep from last year is a definite must listen because of how killer it is. This is your soundtrack if you want to go out and do stupid shit.

Give us some background on the band. How did Big Cheese come about?
Maegan our guitarist had just moved in with me at the time. She had some songs written and showed them to me and asked if I’d sing on them. After we adapted them and wrote them into full songs we took them to a practice room and asked Louis (guitar) and Alex (drums) who also play in Higher Power to join as I knew it’d be right up their street. From then we recorded the Sports Day demo with an old chap at a spot in Leeds for 40 quid or so. I played bass in the band initially and on this recording. When it came to playing live, we eventually got Anth in on bass.

I’ve been listening to Aggravated Mopery and this record is straight up true blue hardcore they way it should be done. Let us know your feelings now when this staff he’s been out there for some time now?
Thanks for the kind words mate. I have a hard time listening back to anything I’ve played on as I pick holes in it and wish I’d done something different. I’m sure the others would agree. In this case, I think we’re all proud of Aggravated Mopery and feel like we’ve done a good thing. People seem to be digging it and that’s all I could ever ask for!

Interview: Chain Reaction

Chain Reaction is heavy and ungodly hardcore from Belgium started by local scene veterans. Mixing grim observations of modern world with some unrelenting rage, their latest Hangman ep is a definite winner. I predict big things for them, because that ep is right on the money. If you sleep on this band you're a total idiot.

You guys have been in amazing bands before, what is it about Chain Reaction that keeps you excited to still do hardcore? What was it that made you all get together and give this band a go?
The rest of the band (Murph, Sim & Clovis) started jamming and writing songs before I came into the picture. They've all been friends since the 90's and have been doing bands together on and off during those years. So obviously what got us started was a deep-rooted friendship and a love for hardcore. It's the kind of thing that becomes part of your DNA and hard to let go. As they couldn't really find a singer, the option of me joining the band came up when I was hanging with Murph one night, listening to the songs they'd recorded. I loved what I heard and felt like I should give it a shot. I didn't really count on doing bands anymore but fuck it.

I guess a lot of people will expect CR to sound like Rise And Fall, cause that band was huge in it’s time and kids were waiting for that last record that never came. Is there any pressure because of that?
Not sure what people expect, if they expect anything at all. Either way, Chain Reaction definitely is a very different band in terms of sound, dynamics and aesthetics. Obviously, my vocals will sound somewhat familiar but that's pretty much as far as it goes. Pressure isn't an issue really, it feels dope doing a new band and starting from scratch. Plus I've been wanting to do a band with a heavy NYHC influence for the longest time, so I'm stoked to be able to do this. Honestly, pressure is a much bigger deal when you're in a long-running band like Rise And Fall. You always want to outdo what you did before, you worry about whether or not people are still going to like do the band, if enough people will show up for your headlining tours etc.

Interview: Society Sucker

"hardcore is a very powerful cultural force in the underground
When we stop worrying about social and political matters we are actively working against what hardcore itself is supposed to be. "

Can you give Society Sucker some introduction. Where you from, how long you’ve been around?
Society Sucker is a hardcore band based in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Wilmington, North Carolina. We wrote and recorded a shitty demo in a week in 2013 and have been at it in one form or the other since then.

Promo ‘17 sounds sick. Tell us something about these new songs. Is there a new album coming and do you have any other new tracks ready?
Thank you so much for saying that! And yeah these two songs are part of a larger grouping of songs that we plan to put on an LP later this year. We have about 3 more songs finished more or less and a handful more in the process of coming together as I write this. We don't have any real plans yet with the actual physical release but its a little too early to worry about that stuff right now. We wanted to get the promo out to let people we are still alive and writing and show them the direction that we are going in for the LP since we feel it is our strongest material to date.

How is average Society Sucker track put down?
We have a pretty cool set up at our guitarist Chris's house where we are able to jam pretty much anytime and record it, so we riff around a lot and work off of ideas until we come up with something that sticks. The whole process is pretty organic, we try and get everyone's input and write stuff that we want to listen to or beat someone's ass to, whichever works.

People compare your band to Merauder, Leeway.... How would you describe your sound to people who are just getting familiar with you?
We started out wanting to be groovy and heavy, mixing elements of NYHC with thrash metal and crossover, but we kept kind of evolving between our demo to our first 7" to our split with Will to Die to now. The influences are still there but our approach to writing the type of hardcore that interests us has changed. I would say we are a heavy hardcore band at our core without a doubt, but we aren't trying to replicate anyone else's sound or be a "X-type of band" or whatever. We definitely take influence from Merauder, Leeway, Crown of Thornz, Stigmata and its obvious, but we also take just as much from bands like Alice in Chains, Guns N' Roses, all sorts of other shit so it's hard to pin down where exactly we are at any given moment. We are hardcore dudes playing the type of hardcore that we want to hear.

Interview: Altered Beast

Give us some info about Altered Beast?
We all live in Kansas City, Missouri. We started the band in early 2014. Been chugging away since then. Aren't really built for touring because me and the drummer have a lot of kids and life going on. Haha. We are open to some ideas though if people reach out. We definitely aren't going to turn anything cool down.

How did the band come about?
Max and Dakota (guitarists) approached me about doing vocals. They had a song (Come Clean) off the demo written and threw it my direction. I scammed our drummer Dan because he and I had been working on some other ideas. We started writing songs and scooped Steve up on bass. The cool thing is none of us had any other projects at the time. It is a good energy when everyone is hungry and focused on one project. Since then things have changed. Most the other guys have other things going on. We aren't writing as many songs as I want, but I'm not stressing.

Just recently you dropped new self-titled ep. What was your main goal when writing these new tracks?
We had been playing these tracks live for a while. We instantly kept writing after we dropped the demo tape. The songs were pretty mature by the time we hit the studio the second time for this ep. We still kept it bare bones as far as production. The one thing we did consistent was record in the same studio. It is a super nice modern studio with great equipment and rooms. War of Ages, and Norma Jean had both recorded there. The goal was to keep it natural and raw sounding. No bullshit effects that made us sound like some studio monster. I wanted that live sound. We record the songs live and punch in the fixes for any mistakes we made. I save the vocals tracks for the end, and usually try to nail them with a single take. I don't like reverb or any overdubbing on my vocals.

Who is going to release it on a physical format?
We actually have it pressed on 7 inch now with our friend Sam from Blak Skul Records now out of KC. He lives next to Max and has been super cool putting it out. We have gotten some good responses out of it. Even Maximum Rock N Roll gave us a cool review. I was pretty nervous when Sam submitted it to them. Normally they chew bands like us and spit them out. Haha. We pressed 400 on black, and around 100 on red.

How did you get involved in hardcore?
I got involved in hardcore by just listening to the music. I lived in a very small town and there were some older friends that were part of the early 80's movement that taught me the ways. I didn't understand the subgenres until I started getting older. You gotta understand that I am about to be 41 years old. I began listening to independent music at a really young age. I was exposed to DRI and Slayer when I was in 6th grade. So that was around 1985/1986. I got directly involved by playing in a local band after high school and opening up a lot of the local shows. I was always going to shows though. I was addicted to dancing and having fun. I didn't care if I was solo or going with a group of friends. After all those years I just kept getting more and more involved from running sound at a local venue, to putting on random shows of my own in the city.

What did you find inspiring about that movement?
The first time I understood what the difference between hardcore and other music was when I began to get deep into NYHC worship. I was so intrigued with who was related to who, and what bands they all had before. I had known about most of the bands through the years, but like I said, I didn't understand that Agnostic Front, Slapshot, Murphys Law, etc were part of a sub genre call hardcore. The most inspiring thing that drew me in was hearing AF Last Warning and hearing the in between talking that Roger did. He was talking about unity and caring about social causes that were affecting them in NYHC. That whole positive banter and vibe showed me the reality of their style. After that I picked up on 25 Ta Life and Rick's lyrics were super positive on Strength Through Unity. At that time I was sold on the idea of Unity and Togetherness. That is what initially attracted me to hardcore. How you could sound so tough, and the pits be so wild, and have such a caring and inclusive message.