REVIEWS ROUND-UP: EP’s ft. Creature – Terminal Nation and Kruelty – Asylum City Zoo – Lydia’s Castle – orphantwin


Creature Haunt (self-released)

Like the slow walk around the empty, dark house at the start of A.N.Other horror film (it’ll be in Gary Alcock’s collection x666) the brooding, bruising opening minute of ‘All’ is an ominous introduction that lulls into a false sense of security, peeling things back before the swinging axe of a looping guitar-crush lands to decapitate. 

Punky stoner tantrum ‘Grey Ghosts’ muscles in with a Gallows meets Turbonegro-on-downers swagger and ‘Creeping’ does anything but creep in – discordant and belligerent – and before you know it the cacophony of the sound-of-the-world-falling-apart of ‘Lines’ has whirled past, taking with it this combination of jagged hardcore, punishing crushes, punky refrains and rusted melodies that make up a fitting final part of Creature’s trilogy of EP’s. With flashes of Every Time I Die, Will Haven, and Converge, Haunt is eleven excellent strident metallic hardcore filled and fuelled minutes. 

Stream / download / buy merch:

8 / 10 


Terminal Nation / Kruelty – The Ruination of Imperialism SPLIT EP (20 Buck Spin)

If you were one of those whose head was caved in by Terminal Nation’s 2020 triumph Holocene Extinction then you won’t be surprised to know that their trademark heavier than a mammoth after an all-you-can-eat stomp-and-brawl sludge-chunk death metal follows in the same massive footsteps here, with a touch of, dare-I-say experimentation with some of the structures, vocal styles (bleurgh!) and interludes. Their three tracks prove they are indeed the ‘Curators of Brutality’. 

Perhaps less well known will be the prolific split, single and EP release fiends Kruelty from Japan whose base sound adds a touch more Repulsion to the mix, yet still sits comfortably in the same swampy park as the Nation. Tatami / 02 has a cool line in Van Drunen gargling with sewage vocals, and their two tracks, both weighing in at six-minutes plus each, cover a gamut of twists and turns, between hulking stomps, chasmic doomy bridges and hardcore-fuelled grinding attacks. 

This split is fucking disgusting. In the very best way.

9 / 10 



Asylum City Zoo – Vol. 1 (self-released)

Opener ‘Box’ does a fine job in introducing you to most of the elements you need to decide whether Manchester’s Asylum City Zoo is for you, or not. Having honed their craft since 2013, led by a guitaring pair of Rishi Kumar and Mark Taylor (who also handles vocals very deftly indeed), our first of four offerings gives a ‘Blackened’ hint to the band’s Metallica, Trivium and Pantera influences in its opening exchanges (with Kumar’s soloing particularly and exuberantly Hammett-esque in its execution), but with much more quality and class than you’d traditionally associate with a newer act coming forth with that style and sound. 

A big part of this comes from Taylor’s vocals, able to utilise both a bellow and a gritty, powerful melodic voice when needed, with a hint of Rob Zombie gruff and Daron Malakian quirk adding to ‘Complicated’, while a vulnerable tone eases into ‘Carved Your Name’, a darker, brooding alternative track that builds, of course, to a neck-snapping second half. While it’s not uncommon for bands to spend years working the boards looking for a break (and it seems this years Bloodstock qualifying competition Metal 2 the Masses may have helped ACZ this year), it is unusual for a band with this much ability in terms of technical and song-writing ability, who are able to hit that difficult to reach spot of melody without sacrificing heaviness, groove or chunk, to still be prowling the unsigned streets of asylum city. 

Buy the album here:

7 / 10 

Lydia’s Castle – Lydia’s Castle (self-released)

Formed by vocalist Tonya LeeAnne and guitarist Cody Denton, Lydia’s Castle is a hard, anthem-hungry, blues-tinged rock beast whose five track opening gambit covers all the bases. ‘Falling Into Place’ is a raging A7X-meets-Halestorm firebrand of an opener, before the mid-paced rock swagger is brought out to play with ‘Fading Away’. ‘Search For You’, written as a vehicle for LeeAnne to overcome personal tragedy and the track that was the catalyst for the band, is a powerful anthem, ‘What Comes Around’ is a bluesier building track that sees LeeAnne match Lzzy Hale in the power vocal stakes by the end, while ‘Pheonix’ is more expansive, based around Denton’s Tremonti-esque bouncing lick. 

Having showcased an ability to run from a standing start, Lydia’s Castle has strong foundations. Now to see how impressive they can make the overall structure. 


Buy the EP here:

6 / 10


orphantwin – Future Classic (Solid State)

Formed following the establishment of a strong writing bond during Norma Jean’s 2019 All Hail sessions, NJ vocalist Cory Brandan and ghost collaborator Matthew Putnam, orphantwin sees the continuation of a fraternal creative relationship expanded into a debut EP, Future Classic is six tracks, just over fifteen minutes, and yet with the confidence to cover a range of ground. ‘Deathsurf’ is a raging standout, all vim, coruscating fury and headbanging chunk, ‘The Glimpse’ is rhythmic aggression with quirky effect-laden vocals, and ‘Headphones or Die’ and ‘llovvlless’ shows the darker, more post-hardcore side of the project

There’s no getting away from the similarities with the parent band, and a couple of the tracks seem to finish perhaps a touch too early, or feel possibly unfinished, but as the reflective ‘Hominy’ plays us out it is clear that, while the title of the release might be over-egging it slightly,  there is enough here of interest to suggest a longer term future for orphantwin, should its protagonists wish. 

Buy the album here:

7 / 10