clawed metal: luke vollar on black heath coven and yol

January 27, 2015 at 11:12 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | 3 Comments
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Black Heath Coven – Erratic Glacial Haze (tape, Beartown Records, edition of 48)

Yol – This Item Has Little Or No Scrap Value (tape, Beartown Records, edition of 48)


Black Heath Coven are a trio from Stoke on Trent with Andy Jarvis, Jim Brindley and Daz Rowlands in their ranks. Can’t say I know Jim and Daz but I have known Andy for years through his bewitching musical endeavours and his now sadly defunct CD-r label First Person.  Aside from being about the most affable and charming bloke you are likely to encounter his resume is pretty impressive, from mighty fine picking and singing to weirdo electronic adventures with a variety of different folks.  Let’s not rattle on about him here though, as that would be a touch unfair to his comrades in the Coven.

Now I would like to think of myself as RFM’s resident metal warrior (which may cause Joe and Rob to smash flagons of ale into their heads, beat their chests and roar in indignation before pursuing me through a snowy forest at night, swords in hand, with only a pair of wolf skin briefs [Editor’s note: a pair each, I hope] to keep the chill out) and I can sense the claw of metal on this tape before I stick it in the stereo.  After all, you’d hardly expect an electro-pop group with a name like that.

Sure enough the tone is ominous and the guitars are tuned to doooom.  As a dude who massively digs early earth and Sunno)) albums where the amp worshipping, melting tar pit vibe is maintained for the duration this is fine by me, but it ain’t all they got.  Electronic passages and dusty lonesome guitar sounds provide subtlety and variety before inevitably giving way to massive lumbering riff juggernauts that crush the puny villagers underfoot as sine waves scorch the arid earth.  It’s an epic trip at seventy odd minutes, so best plug in your lava lamp, crack a brewski and drop the fuck out.  I like this a lot and would be proud to sew their patch onto my denim vest (if I had one).

Next up, and also from Beartown Records, is another offering from shaven headed Hull resident yol.  Regular readers of RFM will know the score by now: deranged utterances and curses of (what sounds like) an extremely troubled individual dragging metal around: 1, rest of the world: 0.

To my mind there is no one doing anything even remotely similar to yol.  While the N-AU contains it’s fair share of gibbering and slobbering droolers, yol stands alone as inhabiting the twilight worlds between sound poetry, power electronics and hard-core punk without ever being any of the above.  The fact that a lot of these pieces are recorded live adds another level to the already formidable intensity, polite chatter abruptly ceases as yol does his thing.  He growls – he grunts – he roars – he attacks various lumps of debris.  There is zero in the way of processing/electronics and yol is not afraid to leaving gaping yawps of silence between his spasms. One track ends with some frantic applause as if the audience were afraid of him.  Who could blame them when lyrics like…


…are delivered in such a fierce manner it would make Henry Rollins hide behind the sofa. It would be easy to speculate on what fuels the fire behind yol – grey drizzly council estates, abandoned shopping trolleys and sallow faced bureaucratic arseholes all appear in my head – but as yol walks a tightrope between terrifying and surreal without giving much away it is left to the listener/spectator to draw their own conclusions.  I remain baffled in the best way – it ain’t pretty but it is beautiful.


Beartown Records


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  1. Great post, I will immediately drop everything (ouch, my soy latte!) and find said releases in order to grow hair on my chest and other manly places. WHOAR

  2. Fab post! I’ve heard the name Yol banging around the place, will immediately drop everything (ouch, my soy latte!) and find said releases in order to grow hair on my chest and other manly places. WHOAR

    • Cheers Nicholas and don’t worry about the latte burns – a certain amount of scar tissue suggests character. Whilst you are recovering check out yol’s bandcamp site too: Love, Rob H x

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