No, I’m not talking about the weather. This time of year it blows just as hard in Portland as it does here in Seattle. I’m talking about recent releases from two passionate Portland bands that are most definitely worth checking out: Siberian Nightmare Machine from American Me and An Awakening from Those Who Lie Beneath. Both bands are signed to Rise Records, both are hot shit, and both are playing at Portland’s Club Satyricon on Dec 2. Today we’ll talk about American Me and tomorrow we’ll cover Those Who Lie Beneath.
This band was created by former members of It Prevails and Hatchet Diaries looking for a heavier sound — and man, they found it. If you had to pigeon-hole their style at gunpoint, hardcore is probably the closest box that would fit, but it’s certainly not a clean fit. This is hardcore with a heavy infusion of metal and death-metal stylings and rhythmic hooks that make the songs distinctive and memorable.
The band’s first album, Heat, was in heavy rotation in my car and iPod for months, and I still go back to it when I want to lose my head. Rise Records released the second album, Siberian Nightmare Machine, on November 10, and it’s a worthy follow-up to Heat. This is an angry, full-bore sonic assault, driven by a furious drum line, crushing bass work, machine gun down-tuned guitars, and Tony Mosh’s passionate hardcore howling — a heavy, brutally intense experience. The songs are short, in-your-face attacks that don’t let up. But as with Heat, the band continues to show a talent for layering the music with rhythmic (not melodic) hooks that induce head-banging and that stick the music in your brain for mental replay. (Some of American Me’s songs remind me of one of my former favorite bands — the version of Bury Your Dead that existed before vocalist Mat Bruso left and the band added clean vocals from Myke Terry.)
Some differences from Heat: In some songs, Tony Mosh seems to be making more use of upper-register shrieking and layered vocals; there are fewer breakdowns; and many of the songs end with brief interludes of electronic noise and samples that unexpectedly fit the experience. Oh yeah, the last song (“Blot out the Sun”) starts with a brief bit of electronica that sounds like a cold wind rushing over a mournful melody — and then there’s complete silence until about the 8-minute mark, when the band launches into a retro punk-style party anthem. Wait for it! It’s not metal, but it’s catchy. If these guys are capable of something like this when they’re just fuckin’ around, who knows what else they can do?
And now for some really sad, frustrating news: As reported on the band’s blog and picked up by Lambgoat, all of the band’s gear and a full box of merch was stolen out of their trailer about a week ago while the guys were sleeping at their manager’s house in California. Talk about being fucked without so much as a reach-around. We’re hoping the gear can be recovered quickly. It’s not like we need another reminder of how many asswipes there are in the world, but this really sucks.
Here’s a video of “Black Malicious Lie,” one of the best tracks off Heat: