Undergroove is a label that I am growing particularly fond of as they slowly accumulate a fantastic catalogue of previously little heard British bands in and around the Noisecore and Metalcore genres. It is one of those labels that has really helped unite an isolated community and centralise bands such as JOHNNY TRUANT who are showing signs of being a real flagship band for British extreme Metal alongside acts such as CHARGER, EDEN MAINE and CUBIC SPACE DIVISION.
Doncaster’s 3 STAGES OF PAIN are another such band strutting their stuff across the here to be called Undergroove scene, playing a mix of Hardcore and Sludge and combining a great sense of groove along bluesy rhythms and good old fashioned Rock and Roll. The overall effect being they sound like a heady cocktail of UNSANE, RAGING SPEEDHORN, IRON MONKEY and FUGAZI.
Sounding more like something a twisted American trucker would listen to as he trawled across the deep south than the work of a northern UK act, “With Chaos In Her Wake” is one dirty debut album. The production is grimy and full of hiss yet the even mix compliments the groovy rocking riffs that drives each off kilter track along with a ferocious unstoppable feeling that is helped by some excellent powerful jumpy drumming that when set aside for intros like on “Death Rides The Highway” can come out with some wonderfully simple yet dynamic and infectious beats. The vocals are a varied mix of screams, shouts and even the odd loudly spoken part that have all been processed and distorted to sound fuzzy yet clear like the rest of the mix and seem full of piss and vinegar whilst the low end bass sits loud and angry blurring through the speakers venomously.
Stand out tracks include “White Lines And Cocktails” that pushes along like a monotone leviathan without loosing its integrity and featuring some excellent slow headbang riffs before descending into a satisfyingly noisy conclusion with a lead running right over the top. “Death Rides The Highway” because of the raw riff that drags you in over a clever simple drum beat before a transition into a driving sludgy, fuzzy rock out and “Forget The Lies, This Is How We Operate” which opens with a quiet melody before being surrounded by riffing that continues to ascend and descend across a full range of satisfyingly emotive vocals.
If that wasn’t enough the album ends with a hidden track 12 that is an ultra snail paced Sludge rock out featuring a hugely disconcerting opening of white noise and a lonely quiet guitar before building into one nasty looping beast of a track including some of the best shrieked vocals you will hear anywhere.
The thing that really sets 3 STAGES OF PAIN aside is their ability to mix grooves and bluesy melodies, and turn what is essentially a Rock album into a Sludgecore beast yet maintain the integrity of all the base ingredients and make what is both an accessible yet undeniably extreme record. Yet again Undergroove do not fail with 3 STAGES OF PAIN.
(Online May 27, 2007)