One of the heaviest tours you’re likely to see next year happens in January and February. APF Records recording artists Battalions and Barbarian Hermit will hit the road for six UK dates, accompanied by label mates The Grand Mal($) and RedEye Revival ( * ).
- 30.01.19 – Hull: Goriila Studios *
- 31.01.19 – Bradford: Al’s Juke Bar *
- 01.02.19 – Manchester: The Bread Shed (APF Records Showcase) *$
- 06.02.19 – Oxford: Port Mahon $
- 07.02.19 – Sheffield: Network $
- 08.02.19 – London: The Black Heart $
Barbarian Hermit have been kicking around Manchester making loud noises since 2013, stirring and stirring their musical juices until they found a sound as thick as their beloved gravy.
That thick sound they’ve found, while some may call it stoner or doom or sludge, is straight up riffage, unconstrained by any of the tropes the underground scene gravitates towards. First dropping tunes onto disc in 2016 with a demo widely ranging in the pantheon of heavy, Hermit had sharply proven themselves capable of cranking out neck-aching belters from start to finish.
Whilst the demo certainly had its bangers, such as the impeccably catchy ‘Burn the Fire’, it’s on their debut full length in which you hear the band come into their own, producing something much more cohesive. After shaking up the rhythm section with the introduction of Gaz Manning (drums) and Rob ‘Spadge Fafner’ Sutcliffe (bass), the band allowed themselves more adventurous dalliances, resulting in a full length reaching as much into influences of the intricate and delicate as of the punishing. Said album, 2018’s Solitude and Savagery, recorded with Chris Fielding at SkyHammer Studio, is as confidently self-assured a debut you’re likely to hear throughout. For sure, it’s as unapologetically sludgey as you’d expect, but there’s more to it than that; from the nods to Hans Zimmer on stand out track ‘Reawaken’, to the edges of space/prog brushing against album closer, ‘Laniakea’, to the impressive range showcased by Ed Campbell on vocals throughout, it’s an album that both deserves and demands multiple spins; and one which received plaudits from as wide ranging pundits as Ghost Cult and The Daily Sport.
Currently in the early stages of working towards their second full length, fresh off of a triumphant opening of festivities at Bloodstock 2019, there’s never been a better time to get on board the gravy train.
Battalions bring their own brand of filth from Kingston upon Hull. Doing their stuff since 2010 – that stuff probably being best described as party sludge – Battalions have carved out a space in the scene that only they could fill, and one that they could fill with the bounciest hooks imaginable wherever it is you put them.
Six years in, Battalions were ready to burst with their peppy grimness, sparking a three year streak of consecutive releases. 2016’s Nothing to Lose and the following year’s Moonburn introduced the wider scene to an apoplectic, yet somehow upbeat, sound all of their own; storming out of the gate ready to fuck up the world, all the while with a spring in their step.
Between Moonburn and their next album, Battalions settled into the four-piece lineup we know today. Late 2018 saw Battalions release the chunkiest album of the year in Forever Marching Backwards, which, like previous releases, was recorded at SkyHammer Studios. It’s a metal album. It’s also an album that is brimming with pure groove. But, you couldn’t call it groove metal. Again, it’s out and out party sludge; something that Battalions do better than anybody on this planet or the next. From Matt Dennett’s power behind the drumkit, to Phil Wilkinson’s growls into the mic, to the flanking attacks of Matt Dennett on bass and Peter Cross on guitar, there’s an energy to Battalions that makes them seem unstoppable, and aside from catching them live, Forever Marching Backwards is a perfect encapsulation of that energy.
Anywhere Battalions show, a party comes with them. So make sure you’re marching backwards with Battalions any chance you get.
The Grand Mal are essentially Oxford royalty. A coming together of four of their favourite sons, in the form of Desert Storm’s twin brothers Ryan (guitar) and Eliot Cole (drums), as well as Mother Corona’s Rob Glenn (bass) and Dave-O (vocals), this is a band you should definitely already be interested in from that fact alone.
Formed in 2015 and honing their already well-honed-selves further more over the last four years, it was always a no brainer that they should find a place at APF given the pedigree that The Grand Mal consist of.
Their self-titled debut, The Grand Mal, dropped in October 2019 and leans into grunge, whilst maintaining elements of the sludge, southern and stoner that have become staples of Desert Storm and Mother Corona.
RedEye Revival have been flying the flag for the modern wave of Thrash since their formation in 2013, and it didn’t take us too long to see that flag waving hard across the Pennines. Tirelessly out to prove themselves again and again – and succeeding in it – RedEye Revival have been hitting us with those tasty thrash licks right from the start. Not only with the release of their debut EP Mindless Mayhem from 2014, but also in their insistence on playing anywhere, anywhen. In 2016 RedEye Revival got some of the attention they deserve, playing the Hobgoblin New Blood Stage at Bloodstock in front of a packed crowd.
Their latest EP, 2017’s Double Drop brings forth that frenetic energy and groove present throughout the many ages of thrash, jumping right in with opener ‘Sly Dogs’, which quickly became apparent as an instant floor filler at any gig. But, it wouldn’t be out of the question to make that claim for any of the EP’s six tracks, all of which are rapid-fire, bouncy and infectious.
Thrash never dies, but it does tend to nap for a few years at a time. With RedEye Revival around, thrash will be up all night for years to come.
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