Continuing our round-up of the very, VERY best albums of 2017, we pick things up where Part 1 left off… So, without further ado, immerse yourself in our recommendations of our favourite and the absolute best albums of the year, as we bring you Part 2 (25 – 2) of the official Ghost Cult Album of the Year (2017) countdown: Continue reading
With their debut mini-album on the horizon, Yorkshire UK discordant hardcore newbies False Flags have made available the excellent preview track, ‘Last Screen Goddess’ that turned heads at Ghost Cult towers. Vocalist Chris Jenkinson helped us piece the puzzle of the band together…
You all know each other from various bands (Red Stars Parade, Whores x 3, Year Of The Man) from a couple of years ago, so how did things come together, and considering you’ve had a break, why now?
We all met through playing gigs together in our old bands back in 2005ish. After all the bands split up, Charlie told me that he, Mark and our old drummer Kev were jamming some new material and I, being quite drunk at the time, said I would be up for doing vocals. The day after, I couldn’t remember saying that at all!
But I still joined anyway.
A year or so of writing and playing the occasional show, Kev left the band so we met Mike through advertising for a new drummer. We’re all in our mid 30’s now, so I think we just do this to get out of the house and hang out.
You’re self-releasing your mini-album. What does “DIY” mean to you?
DIY, to me, is just cutting out all the bullshit and stress that we’ve had in the past with regards to putting the mini-album out. It’s just so easy to put it out ourselves these days rather than trying to get a label to do it.
Speaking of which, Hexmachine is out on 20th November. What can people expect who don’t know about you?
It’s a pretty heavy, straight to the point record from start to finish but you can tell that there’s a structure to it. Rather than most math/hardcore records being all out nuts, we’ve kept it so you can follow what’s going on so its a tad more palatable. I think it’s an age thing really.
You’ve made lead-off track, ‘Last Screen Goddess’, available. Tell us about it, and what do you think it brings that maybe others don’t?
It’s one of the last tracks that we wrote for the record and it kind of just wrote itself. The name came from a headline in the newspaper when Elizabeth Taylor died so I wrote the lyrics about a fictitious character and what they would do to become a famous film star.
It’s pretty much a verse, chorus, verse tune which I don’t think many bands are doing in the DIY scene these days.
What bands do you relate to, and are there any in particular in mind when you’re looking in terms of what you want to emulate?
We’re still fans of the bands that we listened to when we were kids. Pixies, Nirvana, Deftones etc, so when it comes to writing I try to use the same dynamics with a cleaner vocal for the verses and then scream the “chorus”, but then put that into a hardcore band. I remember going to see The Chariot years ago and thinking, that’s the type of band I want to be in, so we bring that dynamic to the table too! Structured chaos!
What’s the deal with the lyrics… Is it true you’re a bit random with them? Are you not worried about not connecting, or are the words just a means to an end? Or is it just trying to do something a bit different and not just bro-downing?
The lyrics are kind of weird really. Each song has a theme but they’re not really about anything in particular. Most of the time we come up with the title first, then I try to write around that. Charlie came in one day and said “Can we call a song ‘Pet Wolf’?” So that ended up being about one of my Chihuahuas being a little shit!
I’m a big fan of lyricists like Cedric Bixler (The Mars Volta) and John Congleton (The Paperchase) so I try to do that “interpret it how you like” kind of thing.
How’s it all fit together with your every day lives? What you guys up to outside of the band?
I have a Mrs, 3 kids, a mortgage and work 6 days a week, so for me this is just a hobby that I love doing and it’s the best way for me to still hang out with old friends. The older you get, you tend to drift away from your mates with settling down and stuff, so it’s cool that my partner still lets me go out and pretend to be in my 20s and fuck about in a band!
WORDS BY STEVE TOVEY
Opening track ‘Sweetheart’ serves warning of the intent of The Lovers / The Devil (Razor & Tie), second opus from Illinois discordant hardcore act Sworn In. With the success of their debut The Death Card (also Razor & Tie) providing a heightened sense of expectation, ‘Sweetheart’ shows that this time around the quintet are going to be doing things differently as the track eases in with a lilting clean introduction before hitting a dirged repetitive stab slab of guitar with unhinged screaming to take us through to the end. With the album being a concept album about the duality of love, and incorporating, in the main, a duality of styles, it’s an appropriate introduction.
Lyrically, there’s a deliberate juvenility and a picking up where Korn left off with ‘Shoots and Ladders’, with several nursery rhymes being referenced, including songs called ‘Olioliolioxinfree’ and ‘Pocket Full of Posies’, a staggering, lumbering off-kilter rage of screaming over a broken lurch, with elements of Slipknot’s ‘Skin Ticket’ before a juxtaposition of cleaner, angelic singing over the chorus. Tyler Dennen sounds genuinely disturbed (small d) when catharting, but less convincing when hitting the cleans, like on the ineffective ‘I Don’t Really Love You’ which seems to be aiming to be a meld of King 810 and Deftones, but definitely lacks the clarity and single-mindedness of the former, or the epic scope and vocal class of the latter. Burning Down Alaska, for example, show how to mix battery and beauty much more effectively.
Ultimately, The Lovers / The Devil, comes across as a spliced Bioshock experiment, with two different styles being forced together and making uncomfortable bedfellows, and like when Chunk glues the penis back on the statue in The Goonies it’s the wrong way round, Sworn In end up pissing in their own faces as the heavy/screamo bits aren’t interesting enough, despite Dennen’s venom, and the cleans not convincing or catchy enough. ‘Sugar Lips’, first track “proper” is a key example, kicking off showing low-slung quasi-Deathcore discordance with screams and touches of electronica, before hitting a clean metalcore chorus that underwhelms rather than lifts. While there’s nothing wrong with bringing the two styles of rhythmic djent and emo-based-metalcore together, and ambition and experimentation should always be encouraged and lauded, in the main the execution is unskilled and clumsy.