Various Artists - Subverse Volume 1

Over the past 12 months the compilation records market has been given a kick up the arse by rock labels willing to out their money where their mouths are and not just deliver another Kerrang Volume 666 with Linkin Park and Sum 41 b-sides filling between genuine talent such as Stone Sour and Mudvayne. First off all we had Earache's "Sonic Excess" compilation last July for £1 featuring the likes of Mortis, The Bezerker and Dillinger Escape Plan with 13 other bands, then it was the turn of "New Blood - The New Rock & Roll" which featured established artists such as the Hives next to the likes of the Divine Brown and Speed Killers. Now it's the turn of Visible Noise who a year after setting up the Subverse club in London launch an album of the same name for £3.99 featuring no less than 20 of the best underground rock bands around.

For someone who remembers when rock bands came under 3 categories (rock, metal and punk), it still makes me smirk at the thought of emo, grindcore, new skool metal, post-hardcore, tech-metal bands. Still if that's what you're looking for then this album provides all those styles and with the loose exception of The Kennedy Soundtrack there's not one Nu-Metal band in sight. Funeral For A Friend are the one band off this album that in a just world would be headlining Donnington in 5 years time, but you get the feeling that their mix of hardcore rasping vocals and melodic pop sensibilities will be a little too much for the general public to grasp. "10.45 Amsterdam Conversation" is a cut from their first EP released last year and they have the "Four Ways To Scream Your Name" EP out in the shops in a couple of weeks so it offers a join the dots system of how they progressed in just a few months. Project Abner's "Sighing Like Furnace" evolves and twists through seamlessly random structures while Forever Until October offer more straightforward emotional rock on "Star Crossed" and Charger offer their unique grindcore for those who like their music a little darker. The bands which sum up rock music 2003 are Hiding With Girls ("The Stars Cascade") who sound like a rawer version of Hoobastank and the Not Katies who do that punk pop thing like pro's on "2 Halves Of 2".

At full price this would offer great value for money, but the fact that it's only £3.99 is near enough a give away. The only thing you've got to decide now is exactly which bands back catalogue you're going to have to save up your dinner money for now.

Alex McCann

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