7 March 2014

Landmine Spring - Elephantine

I first bought this album after hearing the song Maggots on some free CD when it first came out. I liked it, bought Elephantine and listened to it, and the follow up Are We The Culprits? a fair bit.
Back then I was listening to a lot of  British Alternative Metal bands like One Minute Silence, Kill II This, Pulkas, Earthtone9, Medulla Nocte, Zero Cipher etc and Landmine Spring fitted right into that. Over the years, my tastes changed and, apart from Earthtone9, I stopped listening to all of those bands, Landmine Spring included. I kind of discounted them as being outdated and too Nu-Metally, When moving house most of my CDs were stored in crates and any that weren’t on iTunes were forgotten about.

Years later I had been rooting through the crates of CDs in the attic and came across both Landmine Spring albums. On a whim, I gave them another listen.

They haven’t dated half as much as I previously thought and aren’t really Nu-Metal at all (The song Dirty Water features some ‘rapping’ halfway through so maybe that stuck in my mind I dunno) They are more of a Proto-Metalcore band. Rob Newson’s vocals do that switch between harsh screams and clean singing thing.

The main thing I noticed that I’d forgotten were the riffs and the guitar tone. Big, thick, meaty chuggy, stoppy starty riffs in each and every song. Elephantine is  a very apt title for this album.  I remember an interview with the band at the time saying that it wasn’t just their name they stole from a Quicksand song; they stole their riffs as well. I can hear that, there’s a definite Post Hardcore feel to them though much heavier than Quicksand ever were.

Landmine Spring were formed back in 1999 in Brighton, England and split amid label problems and infighting in 2004.

Listening to Maggots now I can see why it got me interested in the first place, immediate riffs and a good screamy refrain of “You left me raw!” Rob’s scream is reminiscent of Earthtone9 vocalist Karl Middleton's roar though where Karl’s proper singing voice soars, Rob’s is much weaker, almost spoken word. It actually suits their music quite well though and has a certain charm of its own.

Elsewhere, Ophelia Sinking, Doctrine, 128 and D.A.V. follow the same formula of Maggots, big driving riffs and quiet/loud sections. Dirty Water does too though, as I said earlier, there’s a peculiar rap section in the middle.

Tarred And Feathered is slower and more refined though still very chuggy. Unhinged features guest vocals from, unsurprisingly, Karl Middleton.  

There are flaws to this album; opening track The Jaded And The Eager s a poor choice. It’s less than a minute long and sees the band at their harshest. It was obviously intended for maximum impact, BAM! Here we are! But it just robs any impact that Maggots (that follows it) would have had.

 The album is fairly short but still gets a little samey towards the end. There’s not a lot of variation between the songs. It’s not a major problem and something that was addressed somewhat on Are We The Culprits?

The worst flaw though, is the drums. For music like this they should be thundering and powerful but instead, they sound tinny and weak. You know how the drums on St. Anger sounded like Lars had just chucked some buckets down a flight of stairs? It’s a similar problem here, a lot of the time they don’t even sound like the drummer is playing the same song. It’s a shame.

To finish then, this is a flawed but decent debut that stands the test of time well, Are We The Culprits? is probably more accomplished but Elephantine is still worthy.

7 out of 10 – This is good and well worth a check

Best Track: Ophelia Sinking

Buy from Amazon HERE

Sadly it doesn’t seem to be listed on any of music playiing sites. Even Last.fm doesn’t have the songs to play. The best there is a couple of youtube videos. Here’s Maggots.

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