In this week’s Picks we’ve got three recommendations that could hardly be more different from one another. Two of them are supposed to come from the same genre but, well, they don’t. And we’ve split them with thrash metal, because thrash metal is the greatest of all the metals.
Pop punk occupies an odd little space in my consciousness. It’s a style I haven’t really brought with me into my thirties, and it takes something pretty special to pull me back in. Most bands now just don’t cut it, and it’s not a style or a guts thing, it’s just quality. Knuckle Puck’s Copacetic was a favourite when it came out despite their proximity to emo, and Shapeshifter is a stonking follow-up. Unapologetically angsty, its overall mood is lifted by enough crunch and bounce to win over lapsed pop punk fans like me. ‘Double Helix’, ‘Gone’ and ‘Plastic Brains’ are essential listens, but if you loved the last one then you’ll love this too.
New War Order
Although its artwork and general imagery are worthy of question at best, the substance of New War Order is good quality thrash metal. Exarsis have long been a favourite of ours and their fourth album doesn’t disappoint. The Greek five-piece combine old-school thrash sensibilities with tight riffing and a maniacal vibe few can match, not to mention Nick J. Tragakis’ distinctive Udonian wailing, undoubtedly the band’s most divisive attribute. New War Order takes a while to warm up but ‘General Guidance’ kicks off an 80s-inspired riff-storm of a record. There are geopolitical themes here explored with passion and conviction.
Fat Wreck Chords
Fans of the obscenely brilliant Teenage Bottlerocket might also be aware of The Lillingtons, with whom Bottlerocket share the talents of Kody Templeman. The reformed Wyoming crew have released their first full-length in eleven years and it is a glorious return. The pop-punk label is only skin deep; Stella Sapiente is, in many regards, goth rock. The ever-present blackness, the bass lines, even the jangling guitar – it’s all there, in varying doses. There are outright bangers – ‘Insect Nightmares’ is a potent mix of Bottlerocket with Alkaline Trio – but the magic of this album is in how measured, how beautifully crafted it is. It’s wonderful.
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You can buy Jurassic Parkour, the second EP by WAVE, on Bandcamp.