This Or The Apocalypse

This Or The Apocalypse

Most unfamiliar with Lancaster County, Pennsylvania typically associate it with sprawling rural environments and Amish populations. Those who have spent time in the central PA location can speak of an entirely different portrait of Lancaster. They have experienced the "big city" atmosphere mixed with the earnest hard work ethos of a small town. They know of the thriving and vibrant downtown arts and music scene, which has produced a number of ground breaking local music acts. They can also tell you the benefit of its close proximity to 5 major US cities. It is this blend of circumstances that established the creative approach, broad vision, and DIY principles of This or the Apocalypse. They are a band that exhibits the patience and dedication to step outside the box to create something both heavy and unique. Their craft of song is intelligent, scathing, honest and even uplifting.

With a foundation steadily built from self-released recordings and self-booked tours, This or the Apocalypse signed to LifeForce Records. Their first commercial debut, "Monuments", reached American shelves on September 07 and the rest of the world the following month. The album ripped along at a driving pace, thoughtfully interchanging syncopated polyrhythmic grooves, striking melodies, and a passionate approach unheard in heavy music. With inspiration taken from vintage poetry and classic literature coupled with Armellino's tenacious and honest vocal delivery, the album offered listeners a welcomed change of pace from typical heavy music themes.
"Monuments" blurred the lines between hardcore and metal, dodging the gimmicks of both. The band toured relentlessly performing through North America for 10 months out of 12 months in support of the release during it's debut year. Focused and unwilling to stop writing new material, the band used recording equipment to create pre-production demos while on the road. It provided an opportunity to creatively experiment as a band without the limitations of deadlines. While on stage the band displayed an array of musicianship and energy, which caused them to stand out in distinction amongst others on the bill. At the 2009 New England Metal and Hardcore Festival, Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler was in attendance to one of these noted performances. Chris fondly recalls his first impressions of the band:

""I received advance copy of 'Monuments' from my friend Drew at Lifeforce and I flipped on the drummer. I called Drew and asked if this was the real deal or programming; he assured me it was real. I saw they were playing a festival LOG was on months later, very early in the day. I drug my drum tech to come watch with me and about 12 other people stood in awe with jaws dropped. I found the drummer, Grant, later that day and we discussed all things metal over a bottle of vodka in the back of my bus all night. I realized after that hang, specifically, that this was a band that could be and do anything and I was entirely addicted"

Shortly after Chris approached the band about producing their next album. Chris explains, "I knew that if I was going to ever work with another band that it would have to be a very special circumstance. I've had literally thousands of bands ask, but I never felt the connection and belief I felt when I saw and hung with TOTA. I'm happy to be a part of this. I feel like this is an important moment." Chris also brought along with him famed producer/engineer Josh Wilbur (Avenged Sevenfold/Atreyu) to work on the project. The band brought into the session enough material to record three full albums.

While the core of the songs retain the trademark TOTA sound, each member made a commitment to push their individual arrangements and performances well beyond any previously established boundaries. The synergy between the band and the co producers was the perfect storm of aggressive and creative youth coupled with experience and wisdom. The blistering ensemble of tracks will undoubtedly blaze a new path for the band and turn the world of aggressive music upside down.

Shai Hulud

Shai Hulud are arguably one of the hardcore scene's best groups, yet that title seems a bit too hasty considering they have only released one full length album. Hearts Once Nourished with Hope and Compassion is a fantastic album that succinctly wraps up what the late 90's hardcore scene has become, and provides nine songs that are all worthy of becoming anthems for the modern generation. Shai Hulud on the surface may appear to just be a batch of musicians overdosing on testosterone and anger, yet a glimpse at the lyrical content of this album will show something quite different. Blazing with intelligence, daring the listener to actually think, Shai Hulud prove that there is integrity amidst hardcore's abundance of intensity. Anyone half interested in finding out more about hardcore should be given Hearts Once Nourished... as their first lesson. While Shai Hulud may not have pioneered the genre, they certainly deserve recognition for releasing one of the genre's most exquisite masterpieces

Sirens and Sailors

Metalcore is out of control.

Taking a cue from technically-minded metal acts like Meshuggah and Cynic, metalcore bands are cramming 939 guitar riffs into single songs these days. But how many of them can actually craft something memorable – and dare we say – timeless? Thankfully, Rochester quintet Sirens and Sailors put as much time into the actual craft of songwriting as they do on their labyrinthine arrangements. Skeletons, Sirens and Sailors’ sophomore album and debut for Artery Recordings/Razor & Tie, finds the band masterfully striking a balance between ferocity and hook-laden melodicism throughout its 12 tracks.

Recorded and mixed by Carson Slovak (August Burns Red) and Grant McFarland (Affiance), Skeletons is the result of years of hard work and DIY touring. It’s no surprise since Sirens and Sailors call the blue collar city of Rochester, N.Y., home. “Once we had material we were proud of, we didn’t wait till we got a booking agent to go out on the road,” says singer Kyle Bihrle, who helped form the band in 2005. “I actually booked the first tour we ever went on and it was a disaster since we had gigs locked in all the way to Texas, but then nothing on the way back to New York. But the funny thing is that it was all worth it.”

With more touring, plus two EPs and a full-length called Still Breathing under their belts, Sirens and Sailors – who besides Bihrle features Doug Court [drums], Todd Golder [guitar, vocals], Jimm Lindsley [guitar] and Steve Goupil [bass] – knew it was time to start a new chapter in their career.

“Mike Milford from Artery started talking with us around the time we self-released our Still Breathing album. Once the band had about half of the new album written, we let Mike know that we were looking for a label and that our ultimate goal was to be on Artery. He was onboard and we made the deal happen,” reveals Bihrle who is also thrilled that Sirens and Sailors can now say that they are part of the family of artists at the labels. “No one understands this kind of music better than Artery. The fact that they go through Razor & Tie makes it even cooler since they have such a diverse roster of artists.”

As undeniably heavy a statement as Skeletons is, the album is still a diverse affair, featuring dynamic peaks and valleys from end to end. “We wanted Skeletons to be a diverse record and reflect many of the different types of metal and other genres of music we all love in the band. But listening to the album now, it all feels cohesive and I’m really proud of that,” says the singer.

Besides its diversified influences and technical feats, Skeletons proves that Sirens and Sailors know their way around the kinds of arena-ready melodic hooks that are both timeless and instantly satisfying.
“Before we have final titles for our songs, we give them jokey working titles. ‘Not That Easy’ – one of the songs that ended up on the album – was originally called ‘Pop-Punk Song’ when we were working on it since it was so catchy and upbeat. I think when people listen to ‘Not That Easy’ on the album, they’ll understand why we originally had the pop-punk thing in our heads,” laughs Bihrle.

Sirens and Sailors also take a moment on Skeletons to pay tribute to their east coast, blue collar roots. “We’re extremely proud to be from Rochester and to be able to represent our city the way we do,” Bihrle says while discussing “Born & Raised (Flower City),” a relentlessly propulsive track on the album dedicated to their beloved city. Another standout moment on Skeletons that stays true to the band’s working class upbringing is “Exorcist,” a song featuring a particularly savage vocal from Bihrle. “I wrote that one during a time when I was working a job and struggling to find the money to be able to stay in the band and make it all work. I think that’s why my vocals sound so angry on that track.”

Bihrle’s show stopping vocal performances are matched in intensity by Golder and Lindsley’s dizzying guitar work, which blends spidery fret work and shred-crazed solos with the fluidity of jazz fusion. All in all, Skeletons transcends the metalcore label Sirens and Sailors have been tagged with in the past. “The album is a journey. If you listen to it from start to finish, you’ll see how it’s not just about one song or a single concept. We wanted the listener to sit with the record and take it all in as one complete thought. We weren’t worried about whatever people expected from us or a genre. I think we pulled it off.”

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