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AU Vol. 17–5 Issue 101

Sunday, 01 August 2021 00:00 Published in Volume 17

Absolute Underground # 101 – Our Biggest Issue Ever!!! Special Edition History of Canadian Punk Rock and Hardcore Issue.


  • Death Sentence
  • Red Tide
  • Pointed Sticks
  • Genetic Control
  • The Modernettes 
  • Asexuals / Doughboys 
  • Personality Crisis 
  • D.O.A. 
  • Nomeansno 
  • The Nils 
  • SNFU 
  • Stretch Marks
  • The Dishrags
  • The Furies 
  • Ripcordz 
  • Neos
  • Forgotten Rebels 
  • Dayglo Abortions 
  • No Policy
  • Art Bergmann
  • Viletones 
  • Teenage Head 


Plague Fest - Pest Productions 15th Anniversary Road Show

July 25, 20 Years Livehouse, Tianjin, China


Since 2005, Pest Productions has been the top label in China concerning black and dark folk metal. With the Plague Fest road show, Pest has put together some of the grimmest, darkest and most cutting-edge bands on its roster to celebrate both the label and the current breed of exceptional bands practising the dark arts in the country.

The Tianjin show was the last stop of the two-part festival run which began in May, meaning tonight would be the last stand - an all-out black metal assault from all the bands involved. Throughout the tour, the festival would have different bands playing each night, with some reoccurring acts bringing the star power to each show such as Frozen Moon.

One main difference in this event was the abundance of merchandise on hand - many of the shows I have attended in China offer few things to take home, but Pest Productions went all out, with t-shirts, bags, CDs and patches available. For promotion and merchandising, a band could do no wrong with Pest Productions in their corner.

The poster for the Tianjin show had Obsession listed as one of the bands, though it was The Illusion of Dawn who were the first to take the stage. A body caked in blood and the band members faces smeared in corpsepaint, TIOD are veterans of the black metal scene in China, being active since the mid 2000s. They revved up the audience from the get-go with primal riffs and depressive wails. During the penultimate song, members of the other bands from the festival took the stage for a duet. The final track, “Obscene Benediction” certainly made an impact, with audience members exchanging anguished, obscene screams into the microphone with the band.

I had seen Tianjin’s Bergrisar twice before on different multi-band shows, but these concerts usually had the band as the odd-band out. With the Plague Fest, though, Bergrisar are now right at home among their black metal brethren. Emerging late last year, the blackened death metal band has made an impression in a short time with their debut album and crushing live shows. They burst through tracks like “War” with unabashed fury, but with Bergrisar, there is time for old school ambiance as well. - when the bell comes out for “Prologue”, you know shit is about to go down. “For Whom the Bell Tolls” indeed.

Vengeful Spectre put out what I consider to be a black metal masterpiece with their 2020 self-titled debut album. The hype for them at this show was real, with many anticipating seeing just how the band would deliver in a live setting. Vocalist Fan Bo is also known for being the front man for Frozen Moon, who would play later in the night. With Frozen Moon, Bo’s stage costumes and eccentric, theatrical poses bring the band to the high echelon of live acts in the country. With Vengeful Spectre, he is no different, dressed in tattered robes with his face painted up like the band’s moniker. Unlike Frozen Moon, Bo’s demeanor with Vengeful Spectre is more menacing and merciless, matching the aggressive musicality of the band. The band played through the entire album, with songs like the hypnotizing “Wailing Wrath” bringing the tempo down to further transfix the in-awe audience.

After the life-altering spectacle that was Vengeful Spectre, it was time for the music to get back to its basics. Not burnt, not well done, but meaty, bloody, and raw, Throat Cutter, like their name, offered primitive poundings from a time of darkness. Three men on stage, their faces concealed by hair - possessed by the power of the riff. With Throat Cutter, singing was rare, with the odd scream into the microphone after two minutes of raw pounding - and the crowd loved it. At this point in the night, the crowd was getting anxious to do a little throat cutting themselves, and used the music as a fitting soundtrack to animalistic shoving and dancing.

The primordial grind of an earth lit only by flame continued with Acherozu who brought a dose of blackened thrash to the 20 Years Livehouse. The Shenyang natives don’t opt for the theatrics - being plain clothed without a trace of makeup on their faces. Their musical output, however, is painted fully black. “Sun Katana” is the slogan beneath their name, and the sharp bladed, war themed songs performed by the band gave those in the pit one more battle before the final act of the night.

Like label-mates Black Kirin and Zuriaake, Frozen Moon have built themselves up to legendary status within the Chinese black metal scene. Their genre-defying albums as of late such as the Legend of East Dan EP and enthralling live shows are something to behold, and for the band to play last at the final Plague Fest show, was fitting and respectable. With lit candles, a table with a skull on it as well as other mythical objects, the band slowly emerged from the darkness, ready to mystify and horrify. They broke into the chanty “Legend of East Dan” as the audience got a good look at the band - Fan Bo’s antler-mask gave him the appearance of a shaman possessed by several malevolent spirits. With each shrieked lyrics, his poses grew more maniacal. At one point, he acknowledged the table skull and did a sort of ritual before tossing Taoist Talismans into the crowd. The spell of Frozen Moon continued until they left the stage as suddenly as they appeared, much like apparitions. Did we just see that? Well, the photos prove that this was all real.


- Ryan Dyer

One of Us IV

Sunday, 27 June 2021 09:49 Published in Live Reviews

One of Us IV

June 25/26, 66 Livehouse, Tianjin China

“You will never be one of us.” The Nails lyrics go through my mind every time I see the advertisements for the Chinese festival. Now in its fourth year, One of Us focuses on the thriving young crop of bands who are making huge waves in China. As the festival has grown, so has the number of days, with the festival now expanded to two, with seven bands playing each day.

Day 1

The first day of the festival proved to be the more eclectic of the two, with sprinkles of melody, hip hop and epic, cosmic metal mingling in with old school thrash and deathcore.

After the doors opened at the 66 Livehouse at 6:00PM, the first band of the night, Benetnasch, warmed up the crowd for what was to come. The new tower of cube video screens on the side of the stage made their first impression - showing that even indoor venue concerts can have pizzazz.

The spacey Cosmos were a captivating band to see this night. Founded in 2019, the music is full of oriental flavor and tangible atmosphere. The vocalist is truly a talented dude who effortlessly holds the audience in the palm of his hand through epic, ballad-like cosmic metal. Progressive music fans should take note of these cosmonauts.

Scarlet Horizon were next up and the crowd were absolutely stoked for the gorgeous deathcore masters. Festival veterans, Scarlet Horizon have played the last two years of the festival, and have the audience trained to their back-and-forth dance moves. Brutal, catchy, and beautiful, Scarlet Horizon are your band if you like visual kei infused with brutal breakdowns.

One of Us doesn’t only focus on the new breed of Chinese talent, as one of China’s oldest thrash bands, the legendary Suffocated made their presence felt next, showing the young studs just how its done. Their placement on the card was key as they provided a bridge between styles and were pivotal for interested fans who may only like thrash to check out the festival.

Korsion were the first of two surprises for the festival in terms of broadening its horizons and including styles which aren’t grounded in metal. Featuring a male and female vocalist and 80s looking sunsets on their video screens, Guangdong’s Korsion brought an upbeat, electric shock of a set.

The next surprise of the night was Leeyon, who truly broke the mold for what the One of Us festival is about. It wouldn’t be wrong to say this guy is a heartthrob, as his many fans in attendance can attest to, but it also wouldn’t be wrong to say he’s very talented. With songs including hip hop, emo and deathcore trimmings - one minute you’re reminded of Eminem and the next Bring Me the Horizon.

Awake Mountains represent the once silent and solemn mountains coming to life to inspire awe in the masses. The band was formed in 2017 and in just a short time, have proven to be headliner material with their made-for-TV form of accessible, emotionally driven metalcore. They were the perfect choice to end the versatile day 1 of One of Us, which featured some true superstars of the scene.

Day 2

The second day of the festival was a who’s who of Chinese core giants. The first four bands hitting the stage on this day are all smashing the barriers of heavy music in China and should be exposed more to the Western world. Well, I’ll try my best.

Hangzhou’s Lie to the Silence were the first to pummel the audience, and could be a headlining act on their own. Their use of symphonic backing tracks to their skin shredding form of deathcore is something I haven’t heard utilized in such a way. Truly a new sound that others may be copying if they get wind of this noise.

Leviathan have gone through many change-ups throughout the years, and while I haven’t seen their past iterations live, this one has to be by far the strongest. The sea god parted the pit and caused the good folks at the 66 Livehouse to crash together in a wave of death as they destroyed the stage like a raging ocean storm.

Straight from the streets and ready for a beatdown, Armed Conflict then hit the stage to put a kill-shot to anyone still standing after Leviathan’s set. The young fellows are masters at creating churning slam parts that slow to a crawl. If there is any slam band who could reach the heights of one Dark Prison Massacre, it’s Armed Conflict.

Guangzhou’s Horror of Pestilence were perhaps the most anticipated band of the whole festival. The musicality of this technical death metal band is simply staggering - like a symphonic plague. Apart from their heavy-as-hell side, they had the crowd lighting up their phones like Ozzy asking to see those cigarette lighters for the softer areas.

Another Guangzhou act, The Will on Kill provided a pivot in styles for night 2 of the festival. Now clearly in the metalcorish realm with clean singing and more melody than the wreckage of the last five acts, The Will on Kill captivated their many fans, having them screaming the choruses in euphoric fashion.

A bunch of droogs who opted to pick up some instruments rather than hang around at the milk bar, Clockwork Moon were by far the most melodic band of night 2, marking a much needed break in the heavy platter that came before them. The band was ethereal and dreamy - the perfect thing to listen to under a golden moon.

One of the longest running and strongest of China’s deathcore bands, Four Five started in Beijing in 2004. Throughout the years, their style has morphed - covering death core, djent, hardcore, new metalcore and more - and with each passing year, their legend has grown. After two long days, the fans, now worn out, were ready for one more fight with the dreadlocked veterans.

When all was said and done, the tired, but mostly wired crowd left the livehouse, knowing they’d just experienced a concert for the ages - maybe the concert of the year. What’s next for One of Us - a three day festival? An outdoor festival? I guess we will see next year.


- Ryan Dyer

AU Vol. 17–4 Issue 100

Tuesday, 01 June 2021 00:00 Published in Volume 17

Absolute Underground issue #100 – 17 years in the making... our 100th issue!!! Featuring interviews with Juno Award winners Unleash The Archers, Cirith Ungol, Rat Scabies, Real Sickies, Skids, and Murray “The Cretin” Acton.

Also in this issue:

  • Wet Cigarette
  • Austringer
  • Osyron
  • Maitreya
  • Lycanthro
  • Cursed Blessings Records
  • Supreme Echo - Pandora
  • Pirates Press Records - Plizzken
  • Pure Punk - Sid Vicious
  • Untold Horror
  • Music Waste

One of Us - Star Chasers

Friday, 04 June 2021 03:33 Published in Live Reviews

One of Us - Star Chasers

March 20, 2021, 20 Years Live House, Tianjin China


It was a night to showcase young heavy talent in China - as brought to you by the team who produces one of the biggest core-infused festivals in China, One of Us. Now in its fourth year, this one-off, entitled Star Chasers, was meant to test the waters for which band might be added to the festival later in the year.

The venue was the 20 Years Live House, which is a long train ride into the western area of Tianjin - not exactly within the inner city. I wouldn’t come here every day for a show, but for a special occasion like this, it was necessary.

Six bands would perform tonight - each being fairly new to the scene. While a few were local, others came from Beijing, Chengdu, Jinan and Shandong.

Up first were Beijing’s Artemis. They were notably the only band of the night to have a female member, and were the lightest of the bunch. Their use of clean, ballad like vocals made the band stand out as one which may actually rise above this metal scene and into the mainstream.

Imprison Heart made the trip from Jinan to play this festival and were warmly greeted by the packed house. The members are a fusion of styles - looking like a mixed bag of subcultures. Together, they create a formidable form of metalcore which was certainly suitable for this type of festival.

Knivesrain made the long trip from Chengdu to play the festival and were the most interesting band of the night for me - their sound is rooted in deathcore but borrows a lot of electronic elements. If those knives were a storm of lightsabers, you’d get a more fitting depiction of their sound.

Local rising starts Iron Throne were up next. In the past six months, they have shed many of their folk metal trappings for a brutal deathcore sound. A new logo, new members and a new mean streak have proved wonders for the band, who put on a boot stomping set which was until that point, the heaviest of the night.

Another local act who did play the One of Us festival last year, The Query, performed next. They have a sizable fan base within Tianjin, and play an impassioned form of metalcore which had the attendees raising their hands and singing along with pride.

The post-modern humor of Shandong’s Sexy Oldguys is beginning to make big waves in the underground grind scene of China. When I saw them before, they were two sexy guys with a drum machine. Now, they were three sexy guys (one wearing a lot of makeup) with a real beat to back the facetious brutality that only a few young dudes who call themselves old can bring.


- Ryan Dyer

AU Vol. 17–3 Issue 99

Thursday, 01 April 2021 00:00 Published in Volume 17

Absolute Underground #99 - 420 Issue!!! - Tommy Chong, Weed Olympics, Plant Tonix, Cannabis Corner, Turn Key Micro, Wollammo!, Titty Titty Bong Bong, Greenleaf, King Bong. Also Victoria’s Hardcore pioneers the NEOS.


Also In This Issue:

  • Vic City Rejects
  • Momy Fortuna
  • Belushi Speed Ball
  • Mikey Valentine
  • Cursed Blessings Records
  • Shred Session - Timmo Jak
  • Shadow Cabinet with Grayson Caligari
  • Snowy Shaw
  • D.I. - Casey Royer - Clinton Calton
  • Stomp Records - Rude City Riot
  • Powder Seekers
  • Gerry Jenn Wilson Memorial

Filthy Party! Rectal Wench, Impure Injection, Globularcyst

April 10, DAFA Club, Tianjin China

By Ryan Dyer


Disciples of gore, grind, smut, porn and all things found in the sex shops or the sewer found their chapel with one of two special concerts put on by Chinese goregrind heroes Rectal Wench to celebrate the release of their new album, Judgment of Whore Labia From the Sewer Throne, out now via Splatter Zombie Records. The dildos and blow up dolls were set up around the bar while a single toilet was set up on stage, ready for the bowel movements to come from the performers who live and breathe this endearingly depraved way of life.

Shows like this have a history in China, with Gore Feasts taking place as early as 2013 - featuring bands like Rectal Wench, along with the now defunct Cave Have Rod, Ready to Die, and The Dark Prison Massacre. Cave Have Rod made it to the Obscene Extreme Festival in the Czech Republic, and the show tonight was like a mini version of the said grind event.

Newcomers Globularcyst were the first to take the toilet-christened stage. This “vomiting pathological goregrind band” have been studying the medical scribes written by Carcass, Disgorge, and Viscera Infest and dressed in doctor’s scrubs and Jig-Ai shirts, were a textbook example of new mutations within the Chinese goregrind scene, being a laxative for the rectal waterfalls to come later in the evening.

If The Dark Prison Massacre are heroes to Tianjin, then surely Impure Injection is the one man grindcore hero to Zibo. Without the extra man power of a drummer or bass player, Mr. Zhenfei Geng showed that just like his records, one man, one mind with enough sick skill is enough to satisfy the brutal needs of a smut-hungry crowd. When needed, audience members, such as a man dressed as a banana and the sexual scream-moans of a female grinder, added to his catchy compositions. His latest EP Gore in the North features a song dedicated to Rectal Wench entitled “Rectal Wench Has No Mandarin Name”, which means Chinese citizens have had to learn a couple of filthy English words to get into the headliners of the Filthy Party.

All three of these bands could very well be hits at the Obscene Extreme Festival, and the set by Rectal Wench very much conveyed the spirit of the festival, with blow up sex dolls, blow up sex aliens (with alien fucker written across their chests) and dildos of all shapes and sizes to be beaten on, thrown about or dry humped by the band and audience members throughout the performance. The band, wearing lucha masks, tore through a 20 song set that included tracks spanning their lengthy career. It really brought out the best in people - the guy dressed in a banana costume peeled himself free of it and the clothes came off entirely for at least one overly enthused audience member. The toilet on stage was like a throne, often sat on as carnage ensued around it. The filthy kingdom had come undone! At the end of the set, after classic tracks “Gore Gore Gore” and “King Anus”, the emperors of the kingdom of feces, Rectal Wench, took a minute to vomit into the porcelain bowl. The scene afterwards was like a crime scene of murdered blow up dolls and aliens, who sadly couldn’t make it to the Filthy Afterparty.

AU Vol. 17–2 Issue 98

Monday, 01 February 2021 00:00 Published in Volume 17

Absolute Underground #98 - Lockdown Love: Valentine's Day Covid Dating Advice Issue featuring exclusive interviews with Judas Priest's Rob Halford, Steel Panther's Stix Zadinia, and Deaner from FUBAR.

Also In This Issue:


  • Teenage Violets
  • Ape War
  • Malice Divine
  • Powder Seekers - Micah McGinnity
  • The Shit Talkers
  • Cevin Key
  • Manticore Kiss
  • The Peelers
  • Mediaslaves
  • Daemon Grey
  • JC Townsend
  • Thunder Queens

AU Vol. 17–1 Issue 97

Tuesday, 01 December 2020 00:00 Published in Volume 17

Absolute Underground #97 - Christmas Cancelled Issue. Dedicated to Logan's Pub aka The Tavern of the Damned (RIP) -
Featuring Love Letters to Logan's and photo and gig poster collages.

Also In This Issue:

  • Without Mercy
  • Citizen Rage
  • Doghouse Rose
  • Chris Spedding
  • The Waning Light
  • Refused
  • Cursed Blessings - Dragged In
  • The TV Dead
  • The Aggros
  • The Boys
  • Fang
  • Jayne County

December 12, 2020, 66 Livehouse, Tianjin China


The first snow of the year appeared in Tianjin on this day and with it, five of China’s most esteemed metal acts came into town for the Golden Age Metal Festival. Unlike other recent festivals which had a few filler bands, the five here were all top quality acts which could, and have, headlined their own tours.

66 Livehouse was jam-packed by the time the first band of the night got on stage, 雪沉乐队. At the One Of Us III Metal Festival a few months back, they were the final band to play, meaning that after nine acts, the crowd was spent. Here, their brand of modern folk metal was the beginning of an avalanche of energy which didn’t let up all night. In particular, crowd favorite “乌木” ignited the crowd like a New Year’s firework.

Black Kirin have traded in a lot of the black metal aesthetic since the last time they came through town for high concept, dramatic storytelling under a blackened tapestry. Gone is the corpse paint but gained is a show that is all-encompassing, like a 45 minute drama or Chinese opera, only this story is that of some of the darkest times in China. An image I will never forget was as the band was band playing, on the video screen behind them (previously showing their “Nanking Massacre” video), an image that resembles a school photo of children slaughtered, while the choral voices of infantile spirits were heard accompanying the grieving shrieks of the vocalist. It was, in a word - powerful.

Zuriaake, meaning “Lake of Corpses” have created a mythology for themselves these past few years. Their costumes come across like Sunn O))) mixed with the first iteration of Ghost, though oriental. Their live show was ceremonious. First, tree branches with lanterns were set upon the stage. Then, incense was lit to set the mood. Then, the members, all dressed in ominous black robes and fishing hats, their faces concealed, slowly emerged to properly mystify the audience. A strange vial was opened and splashed upon audience members in the front rows about three songs in like a black baptism. Their brand of atmospheric black metal was much like the incense which permeated through their set - lingering and potent, and when they left the stage, it was as if a spell had been lifted. As I said before, tonight was the first time it has snowed heavily all year, and I kid you not, when going outside for some fresh air after their performance, it was coming down heavily right after their set. It was something magical.

Recently the Mongolian band The Hu have received a lot of attention due to their unique brand of folk metal - making some cheeky commenters claim to be proud of being Mongolian despite not being a native of the country. Their cover of “Sad But True” by Metallica has certainly aided the hype. However, I would argue that Nine Treasures are just as, if not better than The Hu. This Inner Mongolian band creates folk metal songs that are infectiously catchy, and utilize a lot of the same instrumentation (such as the morin khuur), and throat singing seen by their brethren up north. When the band broke into “Wisdom Eyes”, the audience became as unglued as a stable of horses after a wasp nest was tossed in it. Truly one of China’s musical treasures.

I had a few preconceived notions about The Samans before catching them at this show. I had only heard their track “Whale Song”, which has a chorus lifted from Linkin Park’s “Numb”, which left me feeling uneasy. As the final band of the night, and not knowing much about them besides this, they had a lot to live up to. Fortunately, the band stuck some ancient Chinese melo-death down my throat and relieved my ailments. The band has more in common with Rammstein or nu metal acts such as downthesun than Linkin Park. The vocals are rough and distorted, while songs like “Death March” and “Attila” have plenty of crunch in the riff department. Despite being quite heavy, they don’t forget about their culture, and the odd folk melody can be heard within the chaos. At this point in the night you’d expect the crowd to be tired, but during The Samans, the stage divers and crowdsurfers came out like gangbusters, giving one last go while covered in sweat before venturing out into the cold after the show, and to their ordinary lives the next day. As for this show - it was golden.


-Ryan Dyer

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