Towering Failures LP
Atomçk are back! Expanded to a quartet, here is more of their uniquely eccentric and offbeat brand of grindcore for thee end-tymes. Another head crusher of cacophonous chaos, all furiously catchy riffs and inhumanly shrill, stuck-ape vocals with pinpoint drums that border on the chaotic.
01. Brain Rot
02. Francis Bacon
03. Robocop 2
04. Sic Bro Banter
05. Left In Such An Annoying State
06. Road Warrior
09. Big Shot Showdown
10. Fast Check UK
11. You Guys Drink A Lot
12. Abyssal Confrontation
13. Disk Warfare
14. No Ideas
15. Butcher AC/DC
16. Sea Of Corruption
Released October 6th, 2023
Limited to 500 copies on black vinyl.
Co-released with the band.
Agoraphobic Nosebleed's Jay Randall once famously dubbed Atomçk "the UK's answer to Discordance Axis", and whilst he's certainly not wrong, I've always felt that even that lofty claim doesn't quite do the band's unique sound justice. There's a lot more going on here than just The Inalienable Dreamless worship, with hints of progressive rock in the intricate, angular song-writing, traces of Brutal Truth's experimental death-grind in the robustly metallic yet endlessly inventive riffing and elements of chaotic Japanese noisecore in both the music's deranged energy and vocalist Linus' inhumanly shrill yelps, a vocal style that separates the real heads from the part-timers.
Newly expanded to a quartet with the addition of ex-Afternoon Gentlemen bassist Matthew Barrow, Towering Failures is undoubtedly the band's heaviest and most sonically flattening release to date, boasting a gigantic tone that sounds downright apocalyptic on slower numbers like ‘Sic Bro Banter' and the crushing ‘Britzit'. For the most part though, this album races past at lightspeed, but manages to convey a host of different moods and textures in amongst its frantic delivery. ‘Dinosore', for example, deploys some oddly dreamy sounding chords atop rabid blastbeats, contrasting nicely with the more direct punk riffing in tracks like "Fast Check UK", or the sludgy grooves in "You Guys Drink A Lot". Atomçk have been getting better and better with each subsequent album, but this is surely their most powerful and definitive record to date, and one of the most inventive and memorable grindcore records of the year thus far.
- Kez Whelan, The Quietus
From, at this point in their evolution, a haphazard combination of Bristol, south Wales, and Leeds, Atomck is described by someone (possibly themselves?) as "UK grindcore veterans." Sounds kinda funny, but thinking about it, they've been hard on it since 2006 or so without a lot of pauses, and few UK bands have actually played grindcore for that long. I would call Towering Failures their fourth album proper, depending on how you go about formatting things, and it's a most energetic crusher that, rhythmically speaking, gets in ample wriggling and twisting while it's blasting. "Brain Rot," the LP's first song, sounds weirdly hardcore—like post-Void type hardcore—if you ignore the textbook grind snare sound and inhuman screeching vocals, at least. Thereafter, eighteen more portions of buckwild tempo-pushing, sludgy dropouts, guitar parts with justifiable prog ambitions (like the clean metallic bits on "Fives," the last track on the album) and song titles which range from grind scene-themed punning to ersatz Napalm Death to Welsh slang for being pissed-off.
- Noel Gardner, Maximum Rock 'N' Roll
‘When the famine came all hell broke lose in Endland (sic) – some blokes from the council went round writing HUNGER in the walls and Olde MacDonalds closed down and the place wer like a dump of olden times where people died of cholera, raisins, mumps, vertigo and Russian Mattress.' The Shell Garages History Of Mud – Tim Etchells.
South-ish-West-ish grindcore outfit Atomçk are back with another response to these nightmarish days on the Northwest Fringes. Towering Failures comes a surprising six years after Every Room In Britain but picks up the same sense of hysterical despair and fuck-it-hands-up resistance. Now With Bassist!©
Boasting more megacity urban collapse art from the hands of Mr Luke Oram (also guitars) Towering Failures is a nineteen-part ode to the paradox of privilege and precarity we have the honour of living through, and perhaps also some attempt to solve the problem of becoming a ‘proper' band when playing grindcore. Self-identifying as ‘veterans' is probably fair enough at this point (years of no-frills touring and honest DIY ethic) but how to balance that equation of the grim, the daft and the pointy while encumbered with such gravitas?
They drag in elements from crust, black metal coldness, chugging death metal, and keep it all churning through short energetic blasts. Fortunately, Atomçk have the tools for the job, a bright punk attack to start, tumbling headfirst into deranged vocals, lurching monster riffs and all the punchy grind and gallop required to get sweaty crowds running around in the properly approved circles. They drag in elements from crust, black metal coldness, chugging death metal, and keep it all churning through short energetic blasts.
In terms of the trifecta proposed earlier, they get grimmer than grim (Big Shot Showdown), pointier than many (Abyssal Confrontation) and always daft enough (Linus' distinctive vocal style, the guitar solo on Butcher AC/DC). A dangerous proposition then – a grindcore band that actually writes songs… And of course, in such a rhythm-centred form of music, much hangs on the drummer – fortunately Atomçk have this more than adequately covered. Karl rattles and thunders unstoppably all over this album, popping off snare hits and rolls with a surprisingly deft touch.
Properly booted me out of my autumnal constipated-post-metal phase. Lots of fun!
- Harry Holmes, The Sleeping Shaman
If there was a way to make this record anymore blunt Atomçk would simply have to clock you on the nose.
Grindcore and all it's related abrasive movements have long been genres specialising in sudden, swift and concessive force. The musical equivalent of a being on the receiving end of an unprovoked glassing in a flat roof pub if you will. However, the genre – much akin to every other musical movement on the alternative spectrum – has been the victim to relentless experimentation as of late, with many an artist haphazardly splicing motifs of grind with other more remote sounds. Results have varied, but it appears a common causality of this frenzied splicing is the softening of grind's bluntness. Thankfully, there's plenty of acts within the UK scene staying true to grind's filthy roots. Atomçk are one of them, and nothing highlights this more than the band's utterly frantic new record Towering Failures.
The third LP from the South West grind ruffians, Towering Failures is anything but it's namesake. Comprised of 19 tracks with the longest spanning two minutes 40 seconds, Towering Failures is a throw back to the halcyon days of grind where the inherent filth is void of any impurities or feckless gimmickry. It's short, snappy, obscene, comical, and like all good records of this nature, would give your grandmother psychosis. However, this is not rehashing nor reskinning of the products of the acts that pioneered the grind game all those decades ago. By building upon the adventurous nature of their sound established in their previous records and by perfecting their tone, this record see's Atomçk carving out their own squalid cavity in the scene.
An opening barrage of ‘Brain Rot', ‘Francis Bacon', ‘Robocop 2', ‘Sic Bro Banter' and ‘Left In Such An Annoying State' immediately establishes the overarching tone of Towering Failures with the gentle caress of a pint of John Smith's to the back of the head. With each respective member attacking their instruments with a sense of hostility that can only be described as deranged and with vocalist Linus sounding akin to a doberman chewing a budgie belonging to your aforementioned poor old nan, the record essentially reaches the zenith of it's haste seconds into it's runtime. Yet, within this sordid melee lies nuance and fine detail. With a punk sensibility adding a volatile yet tangible sense of constant energy, across this this blitzkrieg of noise Atomçk touch upon elements of death, thrash, crust, black metal and even Slabdragger-esque sludge. Granted, touch may be the incorrect word – steamrolled into one might be a more suitable description – but the fashion in which the band coalescence these motifs into their own sound is beyond the skill and grace of most of their contemporariness in this field.
Tracks further into the record like ‘You Guys Drink A Lot', ‘Disk Warfare' and wonderfully titled ‘Butcher AC/DC' – a track thankfully void of any grown-men in school uniforms, at least one hopes – further adds to this. These tracks are inherent and inconsolable rampages of grind, but the fluid construction of these tracks see's Atomçk incorporate and explore more elements. It's not hapless genre splicing, just creative and naturalistic songwriting that bares credence to this band's quest for pure constant energy. This in turn, pays dividends into the concussive force of Towering Failures. With the band pulling from genres adjacent to the gutters of grind, every single millisecond of this hits with a sense of bluntness that's utterly pulverising. The brilliant production amplifies this sense of aural devastation further, with the record cradling that sweet spot that's often unobtainable in this genre. Towering Failures doesn't sound like it was recorded using a third-party Xbox 360 headset and nor is it polished to the point where it feels sanitized and lifeless. Instead the production sounds full-bodied, colossal and inescapable, wonderfully and viscerally encapsulating the bedlam of the band as a brawling live sonic entity.
In an age where experimentation without consideration is rampant, Towering Failures is living proof that there's still new avenues to explore within the underbelly of grind without deterring from the blueprint etched by it's founders. Depravingly chaotic and bluntly ravaging, this record affirms Atomçk's standing as one of the most energetic and inventive names in UK grind and stands as a must listen for anyone seeking high-octane music in it's most extreme and uncompromising form.
- Dan Hillier, Noizze
There will always be a place in my heart for that sort of rabidly aggressive, willfully abstruse grindcore that grabs you by the hair and throws you around the room a bit. Atomçk fit the bill, and their new album Towering Failures is consequently a ride on a dystopian roller coaster from hell. This is the band's first record as a four-piece, having added a full-time bassist, and so this is one of the thicker, heavier trve grindcore offerings you'll find. It's wildly combative shit, with vocalist Linus' animalistic screams, roars, and manic shrieks standing out as particularly hysterical. Luke's guitars are chunky and brutish, while the overdriven fuzz of Barthur's bass and the just-raw-enough tones of Karl's drums are a magic made in grind heaven. 19 tracks in 21 minutes is vintage shit, and the band's devotion to being recklessly obtuse and gleefully madcap shines through in every moment. Get it in your ears.
- Kep, Noobheavy
Where they from? - United Kingdom. Since my article two weeks ago where I LAMBASTED Zach Wilson for being the worst NFL player in the history of the universe he has actually played pretty well. Heck, the Jets even won a game on Sunday. Did you know they could do that? I thought that was illegal or at least heavily frowned upon by our society.
Why the hype? - I need to get this out of the way before any further discussion: This band employs frog vocals. This is how I knew them after they released Every Room In Britain in 2017, as the weird grind band from the UK that employed FROG VOCALS. I even had the chance to see them at Balter Fest in Bristol over the Spring and asked their singer how he does those froggy noises and he gave me an exemplary "I don't know." There is definitely more to this band but honestly just skip to halfway through "Full of Sell" and take a moment to be utterly amazed by the animal noises.
Latest Release? - Towering Failures, self-released. The brits return, this time sans the frog vocals but with extra helpings of WEIRD MADNESS. This record reminds me of a much sillier version of beloved australian grind trio Agents of Abhorrence: disharmonic guitar chords, sloppy yet powerful drumming and helpful heapings of experimentation that would make John Zorn proud. But for the love of god, BRING BACK THE FROG VOCALS!
- Gene Meyer, Decibel
UK Grindcore act Atomçk are back with their fourteenth release, Towering Failures. This rip-roaring record is chock-full of neck-snapping riffs and primal, almost ape-like screeching, but surprises listeners with sporadic moments of melody. It feels weird to describe a grindcore record as "infectiously fun", but it kinda fits for a record as enjoyable as Towering Failures.
- Kalen, Outside Noise