ALBUM: God Damn – ‘Raw Coward’

Hailing from the haunted Black Country, God Damn have mutated their uncompromising, genre-bending sound to conjure up something brutally ambitious. The resulting concoction, Raw Coward, is relentlessly noisy, unapologetic rock and roll – a collection of tracks working its cynical black magic until the feedback fades out.

Following the release of 2020’s self-titled third LP, God Damn have been working in the shadows – moulding, shaping, crafting a hyper-intense album that sinks its fangs into social issues; tearing into nationalism, capitalism, and the music industry with venom. After introducing their fuzz-drenched LP with ‘English Slaughterhouse Blues’, God Damn dive headfirst into ‘Yout’, an abrasive sludge anthem that foreshadows a repeated theme… A false sense of pride. “When he was just a baby / His mother told him, son / Be a good English boy / And sell the world their guns.” Only personal growth will lead to true identity: “Hey, youth / Thank fuck for attitude / When will you find yourself?”

The attack continues with ‘Radiation Acid Queen’ and ‘Cowkaine’; drummer Ash Weaver’s relentless big brash strikes piercing through the distorted chaos created by the disquiet quartet. Quickly try to catch your breath! ‘Shit Guitar’ is easily the heaviest track on an LP already threatening to buckle from its own weight – unleashing doom-laden hooks (courtesy of frontman Thomas Edwards and Rob Graham) and Vantablack humour on a canvas of deadened self-awareness. Lamenting capitalist slave drivers, Edwards’ voice becomes strained under the ferocity of his raw delivery: “There’s no such thing as rock and roll / There’s no such thing as god / So climb down from your crucifix and play it like guitar / Your idols are all paedophiles who sold you who you are.”

The hypnotic ‘Little Dead Souls’ (Pt.1) and its equally addictive sequel (Pt.2) are complemented by Hannah Al-Shemmeri’s spooky, aberrant key tones, which when listened to as a singular soundscape, becomes a behemoth pairing; monstrous, sinister and unabating. ‘Drop Me Off Where They Clean The Dead Up’ follows with an equally irresistible progressive groove before the title track, ‘Raw Coward’, rips open the fabric of space with obnoxious guitar riffs and visceral lyricism.

Closing with the revolting ‘Dogshit In The Autumn Leaves’, God Damn leave their shit-stained footprint on the DIY music scene. Breathe it in! After wanting to “do away with all the dick-swinging gear wankery elitism”, Edwards engineered and produced Raw Coward himself through lessons learned from working with the legendary Sylvia Massy. Raw, explicit, experimental and intelligent, the end result is a crucial album of rock and roll rebellion; a melding of ’70s/’80s doom metal with ’90s grunge and other off-kilter influences that both disturb and inspire.

Raw Coward is out now through One Little Independent Records, with art and design from Hannah Al-Shemmeri.

God Damn - Raw Coward - One Little Independent Records

Ken Wynne
@Ken_Wynne

Track Of The Day: Kills Birds – ‘Rabbit’

Fronted by the electrifying Nina Ljeti, Los Angeles-based Kills Birds‘ live-wire stage presence and unsettling, yet “hot as fuck” 2019 self-titled debut – a confrontational record flowing with deep-rooted anxiety – caught the attention of Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon and Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl. Impressed, Kills Birds were invited by the Nirvana sticksman to record their sophomore album, Married, at Studio 606 – due to be released in November. And, having been recommended to us twice in the last couple of weeks by both Sleigh Bells’ Alexis Krauss and Toronto’s Bad Waitress, we felt it was about time we check out what all the fuss is about… It turns out it is 100% well-deserved.

Rabbit‘ is the resulting opening track and lead single from the upcoming record; a brutal song concerning an abusive relationship and how power dynamics can eviscerate self-worth. Accompanied by guitarist Jacob Loeb and bassist Fielder Thomas, Ljeti deals with the emotional consequences through cathartic distortion; her ferocious vocals piercing through trashing percussion, scuzzy riffs and pounding bass-lines.

Through propulsive rhythm, ‘Rabbit’ hooks you in with its intensity and disorienting quiet/loud dynamic, Ljeti startling the listener as she screams “How could I?” with raw emotion. Loeb remarks that despite ‘Rabbit’ being “one of the harder-hitting songs on the record, it was originally written on an acoustic guitar at Nina’s house.” Upon plugging in, the track became something else… Something more visceral.

Oozing justified angst, Kill Birds’ ‘Rabbit’ is an infectious combination of aggressive grunge melodies and anthemic vitriol; Nina Ljeti admirably screaming from the heart to share a moment of vulnerability from her own life. Of the track, she poignantly explains: “There’s nowhere to turn for help. Like many people who share this experience, this particular relationship defined the majority of my young adulthood, and I’m still dealing with the emotional consequences of it.”


Married, the upcoming album from Kills Birds, is set for release 12th November via Royal Mountain Records and KRO Records.

Ken Wynne
@Ken_Wynne

Photo Credit: Cheryl Georgette

ALBUM: Eliza Shaddad – ‘The Woman You Want’

Desiring to be the best person she can be, in spite of not always feeling capable of accomplishing said desire, Sudanese-Scottish artist Eliza Shaddad challenged herself to create an emotionally honest album; unafraid of showing her true vulnerable self, to both herself and the listener.

Following the release of her debut record, 2018’s Future – and EPs, 2020’s Sept ~ Dec, 2016’s Run, and 2014’s Waters – Eliza’s sophomore effort, The Woman You Want is the culmination of a year-long self-reflection and reconciliation of her identity. A collection of nine deeply personal tracks that demonstrate resilience, insecurity, and raw emotion.

Opening with the jangling guitars of ‘The Man I Admire’, Eliza explores contrasting themes of intimacy and melancholy (“Darling I know you feel blue / But where is the man I admire?”), her soft vocals dovetailing into the compassionate folk-rock anthem ‘Heaven’, a poignant reminder that life can get better – “Yeah, I want you to keep holding on / I know life can be unkind / And you’ve got heaven on your mind / But I want you to keep holding on.”

Eliza wears her influences on her sleeve for ‘Fine & Peachy’, channelling nineties legend Alanis Morissette, and proudly sticking her middle finger up with brutally honest, sick-of-this-shit lyrics (“Fuck you just tell me what you want to say / Instead of screwing with my head for days”), complemented by the rebellious groove of guitarist Michael Jablonka and drummer Glyn Daniels, known for their work with Micheal Kiwanuka and The Staves respectively.

The ethereal guitar melodies and syncopated drum beats of the introspective title track, ‘The Woman You Want’, lead into shimmering distortion and electronic experimentation on ‘The Waiting Game’ and ‘Tired Of Trying’; beautiful, haunting, and reminiscent of Björk, post-1995’s Post. ‘In The Morning (Grandmother Song)’ follows as a delicate yet complex soundscape of soaring multi-layered instrumentals infused with Eliza’s mesmerising voice; a crescendo of emotion showcasing her impressive vocal range. Next, ‘Now You’re Alone’ starts off somber, lonely, but as Eliza’s initial near-whisper grows louder with intensity – an orchestral swell backing the heart-wrenching lyrics – the song becomes cathartic; one you will find yourself singing along to in those dark moments of isolation.

Closing the album is ‘Blossom’, a song that radiates positive energy and encapsulates the record’s central theme: growth.

Produced by BJ Jackson, and recorded at her home studio/bedroom in Cornwall, The Woman You Want is the evolution of Eliza Shaddad’s career and womanhood, an intimate insight into Eliza as an independent artist – a friend, a wife, a daughter/granddaughter. A self-proclaimed “ethereal grunger growing up”.

The Woman You Want is out now via Rosemundy Records/Wow and Flutter. Order here.

Ken Wynne
@Ken_Wynne

EP: Berries – ‘Live From Big Smith Studios’

Fuelled by the riff-driven melodies of Nirvana, the massive choruses of Biffy Clyro, and the punk rock attitude of Riot Grrrl pioneers Bikini Kill, London based trio Berries have spent the last five years releasing an incendiary blend of grunge and garage rock, culminating in two explosive extended plays; 2016’s Those Funny Things and 2019’s Lies.

The three-piece – consisting of Holly Carter on guitar/lead vocals, Lauren Cooper on bass/backing vocals, and Lucie Hartmann on drums/backing vocals – recently signed with London-based label Xtra Mile Recordings, dropped the single track ‘Copy’, and have now released their latest EP, Live Sessions from Big Smith Studios; a collection of four tracks recorded live in Antony Smith’s studio.

Opening Live Sessions from Big Smith Studios, Berries immediately launch into a live rendition of their latest single ‘Copy’, a high-energy performance that gives the riff-laden track even more of an edge. Lauren’s raucous bass-lines, Lucie’s pounding drums, Holly’s distinctive lead vocal delivery and scuzzy guitar hooks are so flawless that you would be forgiven for mistaking this for the original track; if not for the various nuances between the two (“Don’t copy it exactly / Rough around the edge”).

The remaining three performances – ‘Dangerous’, ‘Silent’ and ‘Lies’ – are live versions of their respective tracks taken from the EP, Lies. Recorded for John Kennedy’s Radio X show, along with ‘Copy’ and ‘Lies’, ‘Dangerous’ is the highlight of Live Sessions from Big Smith Studios; an infectious collision of drum strikes, pulsating bass guitar, and distorted riffs combining indie, grunge and punk to cause a euphoric shock to the senses. Holly creates a sense of danger with her haunting lyrics, inspired after travelling home late one night after a gig: All of the thoughts and feelings of walking the streets alone at night and the different personalities you meet on the way.

Recorded for the virtual single launch of ‘Copy’, the band let loose on ‘Silent’, channelling the spirit of punk rock, and evoking Black Sabbath at the same time, with a fast-paced rhythmic foundation that elevates the track’s off-kilter hook, leading into a metallic breakdown that will have you banging your head! ‘Lies’ concludes the EP with a seemingly effortless performance oozing razor-sharp guitar licks, duelling drum and bass grooves, sassy vocals, and intense shredding.

Raw, complex, and full of little flourishes, Live Sessions from Big Smith Studios showcases the band’s signature style and strength as a live power trio. And it won’t be long until Berries are able to replicate this noise in front of a live audience! Worthy of repeat listening, this four-track extended play will scratch that rock and roll itch until we can all get together, drink warm beer, dance, and sing along with Holly, Lauren, and Lucie.

Watch the live video for ‘Dangerous’ here:

Live Sessions From Big Smith Studios is out now, listen on Spotify and download/buy here.

Ken Wynne
@Ken_Wynne

Photo Credit: Cae Sato