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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in beyond the mainstream music reviews' LiveJournal:

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Wednesday, April 13th, 2011
12:42 am
to resuscitate or not?
Raw Power – “Resuscitate” (2010)
Here we have the first Raw Power album in 7 years (just in time for their 30th anniversary), and the first since guitarist (and co-founder, with his brother Mauro) Giuseppe Codeluppi died of a heart attack in the early 2000’s. They pretty much continue what they’ve done over most of their career- play well put together hardcore and punk. The thrash touches (the super fast stuff and shrieking vocals) of their early days have been gone for awhile, but in their place is very solidly executed punk songs with a hardcore edge- no experimentation or fancy stuff. Just good, honest punk with rough vocals and an occasional guitar flare. They also do 2 Stooges covers (understandable since it’s their 30 year anniversary and they named themselves after a Stooges album) and a new version of the title track from their 4th full length “Mine To Kill”.

Most Precious Blood – “Do Not Resuscitate” (2011)
This new Most Precious Blood is pretty killer! These guys take that tough guy metallic hardcore and make it good. Bands like Madball, Terror, and Hatebreed take note- this is how to do this sort of stuff and not be boring (tho admittedly Most Precious Blood aren’t quite in the same subcategory as those bands, but still. If they mixed some of this into their by-the-numbers metalcore stuff, it would be a lot better). They have a very heavy guitar sound, power and crunch and metallic parts, but they bring the hardcore with some speed and snot as well. The vocals are fairly typical, but they mix a lot of original touches into the music to make it more interesting, and the songs are just so good. A very well put together album.
Thursday, February 3rd, 2011
12:12 am
Triptykon – “Shatter” ep (2010)
A lot of bands use eps as a format to dump a bunch of songs off that weren’t good enough to go on their albums. Celtic Frost never did that (The Emperor’s Return ep had some great non-album stuff); unfortunately it seems that Tom’s new band does. There are 5 songs on this ep- the underwhelming almost spoken word title track, a decent heavy track that actually sounds like it could have been on the album, an instrumental, a fairly bad live version of “Circle Of The Tyrants” (one of my fav songs from them), and a fairly decent live version of “Dethroned Emperor” with Nocturno Culto (Darkthrone) on guest vocals. Not exactly essential.

Dusted Angel – “Earth-Sick Mind (2010)
This is a new band featuring members of Bl’ast!. They always made me think of what would happen if you crossed Black Flag with Black Sabbath. This new band takes Black Flag out of the equation- they play a doomy but groovy and slightly punky metal similar to bands like Virulence and Saviours (more like Virulence) who swear by Sabbath. Dusted Angel are faster than most stoner rock and doom bands, but have very big riffs and a great sludgy production. The vocals don’t really stand out much- typical for this genre. The riffs are really good, but it’s still a little too rock-n-roll/ stoner rocky for me.

Adversity – “Lost It All” (1988)
Most crossover bands lean a little to one side or the other (hardcore or thrash metal), but Adversity do a pretty good job of riding right on the thin line- just when you think they’re sounding a little more on one side, they interject a huge dose of the other. Overall, side A is more hardcore, and side B is more thrash metal, but the whole thing is good. They’re accomplished musicians, but don’t get overly technical or annoying. The production is a little tinny, which robs it of some of its power, but they still thrash along with the best of them. The vocals are pretty unique- they make me think of Stark Raving Mad somewhat, but not as snotty. It’s like he’s trying to do the snotty punk vomit vocals, but he kind of talks it more. I like them, it makes their sound more original. Too bad this is the only thing they ever released.

Acid Reflux – “Moves” 7”ep (2010)
I liked both of these guys previous eps quite a bit, so was looking forward to this one (which took 3 years to get made), but it’s not quite as good as the first 2. It’s still good, the songs just aren’t quite as memorable. It’s a bit faster than the other ones, a little more hardcore and a little less punk (side A is 3 songs in 3 and a half minutes). It’s still pretty snotty and ‘80s hardcore (not thrash) influenced, but just like a lot of those old ‘80s 7”eps, there’s not a lot to say to describe the music other than if you like ‘80s hardcore, I bet you’ll like this (I do).

Mammoth Grinder – “Obsessed With Death” 7” (2010)
Only 2 songs on this- the title track, which is a heavy crusty death song that sounds like a cross between the debut albums from Master and Bolt Thrower mixed together (a little more Bolt Thrower than Master). The B-side is a decent cover of Venom’s “Welcome To Hell”, much heavier than the original.

Infernaeon – “Genesis To Nemesis” (2010)
I guess this band is comprised of members of Monstrosity, Divine Empire, Anal Blast, and several other not as well known bands, and features guest vocals by Eric Rutan on one song, and Oderus Urungus on their cover of Metallica’s “Creeping Death” (which is pretty cool, by the way). The music is fast black metal with some strong death metal touches and parts, and keyboards (tho they don’t dominate- this is definitely guitar driven metal). The vocals are mostly higher screams, but there are some lower deathlike deliveries as well. All the songs are fairly complex with a lot of changes (but it generally doesn’t sound busy or distracting) and it’s done with a vicious delivery (no weak/ gothy bits other than some short intros).

Scatha – “Fuck the System” 7”ep (1996)
Vicious mid-90s sludgy crust with a strong technical and metallic influence like a lot of hardcore bands had back then (Rorschach, Born Against, etc.), and even some sludgy sounding parts. They incorporate some of the more melodic passages and tuneful breakdowns found in thrash metal bands like Testament, but quickly move into the heavy crusty hardcore before too long. There seems to be 2 vocalists (or one guy who sings 2 different ways)- a fairly typical hardcore screamer and a more gruff, crusty vocalist. I think this is the first of their (several) releases.

Beyond Possession – “Tell-Tale Heart” 7”ep (1995)
This is one of only 5 or 6 bands who were signed to Death records (other bands included DRI, Corrosion Of Conformity, and Cryptic Slaughter), evidently on the strength of this ep. What made them so special? There’s not a lot that stands out about this- it’s definitely not bad, but nothing special. Pretty well done mid-80s style hardcore punk with some metal leads and intros here and there (which was branded skate rock back then). It’s mostly pretty fast, but not really thrashy. The title track makes me think of the Freeze. Evidently it was reissued at some point missing the last song (“Dying Fast”).

Acid Witch – “Stoned” (2010)
I’m liking this quite a bit- crusty doom with even crustier (and I’m not referring to the style of hardcore here, I’m referring to the amount of distortion and grit piled on) guttural vocals. This actually sounds like a d-beat band slowed down and tried to play doom. All the songs have good, stomping grooves (a lot of them are more upbeat than your average doom band- maybe we should call this stuff Marching Doom, haha). Keyboards and samples are used sparingly to build an atmosphere (which they do well), and the songs are just put together very appealingly- it’s full of guitars crunching and chugging along, but never gets boring because the progressions are awesome. A great metal album.

Crucial Youth – “The Posi-Machine” (1988)
Satire is great, and it’s even funnier when a lot of people don’t get it and think that the satirists are being serious. Crucial Youth were an ‘80s hardcore band who took the piss out of the straight edge scene, writing songs about not walking on the grass or masturbating, etc. as well as the usual anti-drug stuff. It’s pretty funny, and the music is really good up to a point (it starts to wear thin a little before the end, but the first 5 songs fit together perfectly). The music is straight edge hardcore, but exaggerated. The Vocals are ultra crucial, with good fast parts and mosh breakdowns. It’s cool they took the music seriously, and made a decent hardcore album in the process.

The Crown – “Doomsday King” (2010)
I have a lot of albums by The Crown (I think my fav is Hell Is Here), and they all have pretty much the same sound- kind of a mix of death and thrash metal with a little At The Gates sound mixed in. They haven’t put anything out in many years, and have a new vocalist (Jonas Stahlhammer, who I mainly remember from Macabre End), however their sound remains pretty much unchanged. This one takes a few songs for me to start getting into it (I think it’s the production- it’s that same ultra-digital sound everyone in metal has been using for years now, and it makes all the bands sound a little bland and same-y until you attune to it), but there are some good songs on here (I think my fav is “Through Eyes of Oblivion”). I think they just need a little more originality, because they don’t stand out much in today’s metal scene. At least they didn’t go total thrash or something.

Project Pitchfork – “Dream, Tiresias!” (2009)
These guys have gotten into a groove of similar sounding releases ever since Eon Eon (which was one of my favs from them). Unfortunately, tho each release since then has had some great songs, there’s been a lot of filler, and this one is no different. A little lighter than most of their releases, this one has several different forms of electronica represented (tho all in the PP way), tho mostly it’s the typical synthpop. This one also features a lot of samples and instrumental parts (mostly between songs, mainly on the first half of the album). Like Cradle Of Filth, I’ve always liked these guys, but they’re starting to stagnate some. I don’t want them to change it up too much- just throw in something different here and there. Maybe do some harder stuff like in the early days.

Autopsy – “The Tomb Within” ep (2010)
Autopsy is back. I’m going to miss Abscess, however I’m quite happy for the return of one of my most favorite death metal bands. This ep sounds like it should have been released between Severed Survival and Mental Funeral. I don’t like it as much as either of those albums, but that’s probably just nostalgia talking (hell, the song “Human Genocide” sounds like they ripped it right off of Mental Funeral). If you like Autopsy, or dark, heavy, well played death metal with a lot of original touches and horrific vocals, get this! It won’t disappoint.

Geriatric Unit – “Audit of Enemies (2010)
This band features a couple of members of Heresy, so the bar is set high right from the start. They play exactly what you’d think they should- tight, (mostly) fast thrashing hardcore. Nothing more, nothing less. They actually make me think more of Ripcord than Heresy (even the vocals are similar). You could complain that it’s not really very original, but they do this stuff so well it doesn’t matter. The second half of this album has more longer/ slower songs than any of their past releases, so I suppose they are evolving some (but Ripcord did the same thing on Poetic Justice). I think I still like their Nuclear Accidents 12”ep better (my fav release from them), but this is good stuff.

Magrudergrind – “Crusher” ep (2010)
These guys are definitely one of the best grind bands around today. They blast as fast as anyone, but they also have really good breakdowns and vary their speed and drumming style enough (even in the blastbeats) that it doesn’t all sound the same. The songs on the self titled full length might have been a little more memorable than these (slightly), but this is still an excellent release. Features guest vocals from Rich from Enemy Soil/ Agoraphobic Nosebleed on one track, and the cover art is a tribute to the old Grindcrusher compilation.

Kriegshög – “Kriegshög” (2010)
Brutal and vicious crusty hardcore with that extreme blown-out ultra distorted sound that a lot of the Japanese hardcore bands have (you hear a lot of stuff described as ‘wall-of-noise”; well this really is a good description for this sound). The vocals are almost black metal in their hideous shrieking and use of tons of reverb and effects, but the music is like crustcore on crack. I thought they would sound like Krigshot, but this is far more extreme than that. Total chaos.

Lazarus Blackstar – “Funeral Voyeur” (2007)
This is the newest band of Brian Talbot (aka Bri Doom, from Doom, Sore Throat, tons of other bands), and it’s a bit different from most of his other bands in that instead of very fast, crusty distorted hardcore, this is very slow, crusty distorted doom. Like sludge without the punk stuff, and with a vocalist who does high pitched screams. They use a lot of samples, but they accentuate the music well instead of distracting or seeming pretentious. I’d like it a little better if it wasn’t all mid-paced (there’s not much super slow stuff either), but I guess that would defeat the purpose.

The Prophetess – “The Prophetess” (1994)
The first song on this is awesome- a heavy bass driven goth song with a very Peter Murphy-esque vocalist. Classic! After that, this album severely wimps out. Almost the whole rest of it is acoustic dark folk music. It slightly picks up on a few tracks, but most of the songs sound like they were inspired by Peter Murphy’s “Hit Song” (which is a good song, but every song on that album didn’t sound like that!). I still like the bass sound (in the songs it makes an appearance in) and the vocals, but really most of this album is pretty boring.

G.B.H. – “Leather, Bristles Studs and Acne” 12”ep (1981)
What a great old school punk release. Early crusty punk that sounds a lot like a cross between old Discharge and old Exploited (more punk than Discharge, more crusty than Exploited) but with lower, rougher vocals than either of them. Most of the songs have the same pace/ drumbeat, but it doesn’t detract from its awesomeness much. The main thing that sticks out is the songwriting- these songs are almost all classics that are pretty hard, but still get stuck in your head because of their catchiness. “Lycanthropy” is one of my favs- this is better than anything they’ve done since.

Sodom – “In War and Pieces” (2010)
This album is a little heavier and faster than Sodom’s been in awhile, I’m happy to say. It’s like they got a shot of extremeness, perhaps by seeing all these new, younger bands coming out playing old school thrash. Sodom have been channeling Motorhead to some extent ever since Agent Orange, but on this album they actually seem to be channeling Slayer more, particularly the latest one ("World Painted Blood"), but with vocalist Tom Angelripper’s voice instead of Tom Araya. These guys have been around a long time and know how to craft a good thrash metal song, and craft 11 on here. Each one has its own identity and the album doesn’t sound generic or boring or dated. Recommended if you like thrash.

Red Handed – “Brainchild” (2009)
Excellent modern hardcore and punk (along the lines of bands like Paint It Black, etc. but a little more radical; I like Red Handed a little better). The vocalist has a hoarse scream that sounds like he means it, the musicianship is a step beyond most straight out hardcore, and played with conviction. I like how the album keeps building momentum until the end- it never gets boring or overstays its welcome. No tough guy b.s., not fastcore or power violence, just straight out honest well played hardcore, tho with a few original touches thrown in to make it a little more interesting.

Genital Deformities – “Shag Nasty Oi!” (1989)
This is a great album- it’s pretty rare, and that’s a shame. These guys transformed into more of a straight crust band in later days, but on this release they were the perfect mix of doomy Celtic Frost type metal and crusty Doom type hardcore (I call this stuff doomcore). The very heavy and haunting progressions (that are also quite catchy at times) are what makes these guys really stand out. Then they shift into high gear and thrash it up, with deep dog vocals and a grungy and dark production. One of my fav metal albums.

Coffins/ Hooded Menace split 7” (2010)
Here is a split record that features one song each from two bands who sound fairly similar. Old school sludgy death metal, no blast beats or modern touches. Just extremely brutal down tuned ultra distorted death with guttural vocals from hell. This describes both bands well. Hooded Menace are a little less distorted and sludgy (and even have a kind of melodic part in the middle), but that’s just by comparison to Coffins- they’re brutaller than most any other band this side of Autopsy and Grave (who they seem to be influenced by to some extent).

Cutthroat Convention – “What The?” single (2010)
The first song on this is really more like an intro than anything. An collagey instrumental (well, there are sampled voices) with a drum machine and several ‘the reactor is gonna blow’ electronic sounds. The title track is much better, kind of avant garde punk with a violin, drum machine and electronics (no guitar), the chorus will get stuck in your head.

Jesus On Extasy – “Holy Beauty” (2007)
This is hard to listen to all the way through. It’s the typical cartoonish Euro-trash goth tinged industrial-lite (also known as wannabe Marilyn Manson, but less interesting). The main problem with a lot of these bands is that they try to be so sexy and sensual, and it just comes off as goofy. Most of them just can’t pull that off. The main problem with most of them (including these guys) is that the music is so processed and overproduced it sounds like a boy band or car commercial, and the vocalist is so over-dramatic and wannabe sensual that it’s more humorous than cool. There’s one decent song on here (Puppet) and the rest is a bunch of wank.

G.G.F.H. – “Disease” (1993)
Here is one of my most fav industrial band’s last albums. It’s not as good as their other one (“Eclipse”), which was a little harsher and creepier, but this is still great stuff. It has a lot more keyboards/ electronics than “Eclipse” (which had a lot more samples and weird noises- a bit more experimental), but is still extremely negative, dark and deviant. The vocals are some of the best sounding inhuman industrial vocals since early Skinny Puppy. Nobody does awesome vocals like this anymore. Songs like Real (Nightmare mix) are exactly like what keyboard-driven industrial should sound like. Awesome.

Framtid/ Pisschrist split 7”ep (2009)
Framtid plays a little harder version of gruff crust than I remember them doing in the past (I remember them being more of a straight-out hardcore band). These three songs make me think a bit of the Uncurbed. Roaring vocals over wall-of-noise distorted guitar playing 3 and 4 chords alternating progressions. Pisschrist are along the same lines, but with higher vocals and a more trebly, blown-out production. These 2 bands were matched together well.

Impaled Nazarene – “Road To the Octagon” (2010)
I was looking forward to this- I’ve always liked Impaled Nazarene quite a bit, but unfortunately this one is a bit one dimensional. These guys have always been fast as hell, but it seemed like they had more ideas to go with the speed in the past. This would make a good ep if you picked out several of the best songs (like Corpses), but as a full length it gets a bit tedious before the end. This album is also a little overproduced. For those of you who don’t know what they sound like, it’s fast and faster paced black metal mixed with a little Motorhead style metal punk. They’re usually better with the songwriting, but I guess everyone is entitled to have an off album (and it’s not a bad album, just a little boring).

Alehammer/ Tyrant split 12”ep (2009)
Alehammer feature some crust and stenchcore godfathers (members of bands like Doom, Prophecy Of Doom, and Hellbastard, to name a few) so you know what you’re getting here- brutal crustcore, very well done at varied speeds (good fast parts and breakdowns) and with nice, raw and heavy vocals. The production is perfect for this stuff.
This is the Tyrant from Sweden (there are a ton of bands named Tyrant), and they also crust it up, but they mix in a healthy dose of Hellhammer style black metal groove and doom. I like this sound a lot, but I’ve heard a lot of other bands that do it a little better. I guess it’s the vocals that I don’t like as much- he’s trying to do a version of Tom’s Hellhammer vocals, but they’re a little weak, almost spoken. Not that convincing. But it’s not bad, I’ve just heard better. Worth it for the Alehammer tracks anyway.
Saturday, January 8th, 2011
5:05 pm
Christ On Parade – “Sounds of Nature” 12”ep (1985)
More great crossover from the mid-‘80s, out on Pusmort (Pushead always put out great stuff). Quite a bit more on the hardcore/ skate rock side of crossover, along the lines of Agnostic Front’s Liberty and Justice For… album (esp the faster, less moshy songs on Liberty…. C.O.P are a little more typical fast hardcore than Agnostic Front were on that album, but you get the idea. The vocals sound similar to Roger Miret’s at times as well). For those of you not familiar with that album/ sound, this is fast hardcore with some thrash metal influences and moshy breakdowns (tho not a lot), snotty vocals, and a lot of tempo changes. One of the better bands of the genre.

Buckethead – “The Cuckoo Clocks of Hell” (2004)
This is probably the heaviest Buckethead that I’ve heard (and admittedly, I haven’t even heard half of his prolific output). It even has some blastbeats, and a lot more chugging and less offbeat musical interludes and guitar wanking, and less just screwing around in general. But there is still some, and it’s still 100% Buckethead. I guess I just don’t like instrumental music much, unless it’s creepy, and even then in small doses (Eerie Von’s Uneasy Listening is about perfect). But I have to say this is one of Buckethead’s best, and probably his most ‘metal’. It also has no vocals or spoken work stuff on it (unlike a lot of his other stuff I’ve heard).

Boris & Ian Astbury – “BXI” ep (2010)
Never saw the reason for Boris’ huge cult following- they’re ok, but nothing special (and some of their stuff is bad!). On these 4 songs, they have Ian Astbury (from The Cult) on vocals (well, except for one- they cover the Cult’s song “Rain”, and their (female) guitar player sings it). The music on this one kind of makes me think of Danzig’s regular heavy metal stuff, and the vocals are Astbury’s typical alto almost-Danzig vox. The last song is a very mellow, dreamy track that I didn’t care much for. The first song is the most Cult-like. Decent release, but not essential.

haarp – “The Filth” (2010)
This starts off like it’s going to be pretty cool, but gets boring fast. I like sludge, and this is definitely in the genre, but there just isn’t enough variation in the songs! A band like EyeHateGod (who haarp obviously is influenced by) has a good mix of doom, punk, and rock in their sound. haarp mostly just chug along, every song sounding alike. The vocals are appropriately hideous and the distortion is set nice and high, but there’s nothing to latch onto- nothing memorable or very interesting from song to song. If you heard one song on a compilation you’d think “This is pretty damn good”, but when put together, this gets tedious pretty fast.

Nitzer Ebb – “Industrial Complex” (2010)
Nitzer Ebb come barreling out the gate with a great song (Promises) that harkens back to their classic stuff, but with an updated sound. It continues in that vein for a couple of tracks (that aren’t quite as good), then gets cheesy. The music is still (mostly) ok, but the lyrics and vocals take a swan dive into terrible territory. It gets better again before the end (tho not every track), but it the good can’t overcome the bad on this album. It’s also not very industrial for an album called Industrial Complex- it’s kind of a mix between ebm and that industrial-lite stuff that was so popular in the late ‘90s (Gravity Kills, Sister Machine Gun, etc.). Or maybe I was just expecting too much…

Cradle Of Filth – “Darkly, Darkly, Venus Aversa” (2010)
Here’s another Cradle Of Filth album. Not much else to say, haha. They’ve pretty much cemented their sound over the years, and this album is no different. Well played overproduced symphonic black metal with strong influences from goth and traditional heavy metal, and Dani Filth’s unmistakable screeching eagle vocals. This one continues the slightly heavier/ faster direction that their last album started down (tho not as heavy as their earliest albums) but if you know and like Cradle Of Filth, you’ll like this one. If you don’t like them, you won’t like this one. I like them, but they need to inject some new influences into their sound- it’s beginning to sound like they programmed a computer with a generic Cradle Of Filth music generator, and it spit this album out. I don’t want them to change a lot- just try something a little different on a song or two- throw in something unexpected. Mess with the formula just a little. Excitement is an important part of music.

Moebius, Plank, and Neumeier – “Zero Set” (1982)
This is a very interesting collaboration by 3 German producers and musicians that originally came out in 1982, but was rereleased on cd in 2006. It’s that glitchy, electronic music closely related to Kraftwerk, but this one is mostly instrumental. Lots of bouncy synthesizer with clickity bleeps and bloops and tinkly noises throughout. Fairly poppy but also strange, this is a very well done example of this stuff (a lot of bands have come out with electronica in the past 10 years, and most of them aren’t as interesting as this).

Carry Nation – “Face the Nation” 7”ep (1989)
Pretty straightforward late ‘80s straight-edge hardcore. A bit more of a moshy/ metal influence creeping in on some songs (and longer songs as well), but the shouted gang choruses are there in full force, with the fast parts (faster than a lot of straight-edge bands) and breakdowns and throat punch vocals all present and accounted for. They took their name from Carrie Nation, an old woman opposed to alcohol in pre-prohibition America, and who was known to attack bars with an ax.

A.P.P.L.E. – “A Sensitive Fascist Is Very Rare” 7”ep (1987)
I believe this was A.P.P.L.E.’s first release, which has a bit of a later period Vice Squad vibe, with the Avengers sounding like a strong influence as well. Slow, melodic punk with a slight post-punk and a strong protest rock/ folk influence (a lot of the songs sound like protest folk songs sung by a punk band), they got a little harder in later years. Not for people who like their punk fast and snotty.

Faded Grey – “Army of Kids” 7”ep (1999)
Fast but tuneful hardcore with angsty-sounding vocals (almost like he’s fixing to cry, but not emo- there’s several bands that came out around ’99 – 2000 that had this sound- Reach The Sky and a bunch of bands who evolved out of the straight-edge scene). This is done pretty well (and I’ve heard bands who do it bad- it’s awful) so it doesn’t come across as whiney and weak (also because they’re pretty fast- most bands like this aren’t that fast). Emotional hardcore that isn’t emo.

13 Bats – “Punk Physical Therapy (2010)
Well, I got this because of the name of the band and the album, but there’s no punk on here at all. Just a mix of rockabilly (not even psychobolly), country, and some ska. Not my thing at all. Most of these bands at least throw an obligatory punk song on there somewhere, but not these guys. It’s pretty overproduced as well. Boo.

A.O.A./ Oi Polloi split (1986)
A.O.A. (All Out Attack) play fast hardcore with a lot of punk influence mixed in- the songs are a little more intricate and have great bass line, but then they kick it up and thrash out. Great stuff indeed. By comparison, the Oi Polloi side isn’t as good (and I do love Oi Polloi). But it is still good- their early stuff that was a pretty good mix of oi! And hardcore, with the vocalist’s highly recognizable blown out yelling vocals. If you like Oi Polloi, this isn’t some of their best stuff, but it’s still good (and gets better toward the end). And the A.O.A. side is awesome.

Bongwater - “The Power of Pussy (1991)
This is hard to describe; it’s pretty offbeat stuff- most songs start with some pitch shifted voices talking about unrelated things (dialogue from movies or commercials) then they kick into fairly melodious (often acoustic) music with a girl saying weird, often funny things over it. Sometimes she sings. Often she acts out different characters with distinct accents and such. I wish the music has been a little weirder. It’s kind of like Shockabilly with a girl on vocals. Needed to be just a little weirder.

Phobia – “Unrelenting” ep (200)
Phobia are quite prolific, and generally everything they put out is consistantly good. This particular ep seems to be suffering from “going-through-the-motions” syndrome, tho. It’s not bad, just not as good as most of their output (excepting a few tracks). Crusty and brutal grindcore, with machine gun drums and a distinct segregation between the metal parts and the grinding hardcore parts. They’ve mixed in some more high screechy vocals with the lows, and the production is just a little too bright and clean- they need more grunge in their sound. Too bad this one is probably going to be one of the easiest to get ahold of, but there are some great tracks on it. Just seems to have more filler than most of their releases.

Blue Funeral – “Thoughts of the Damned” (2010)
This is obviously very influenced by ‘80s synth pop and gothy pop (picture the Cure and Gary Numan’s darkest stuff mixed together, but without any real hooks or very inspired songwriting). Mostly pretty slow and gloomy (no catchy goth basslines to be found here), it’s not very memorable despite some decent synth lines. They just aren’t catchy enough, and the songs all kind of drone on at the same pace until they fade into background music (with the exception of the opening track, which is fairly decent). The vocalist is pretty generic and undynamic as well- not good for this kind of music.

Nietzsche's Bitch – “Nietzsche's Bitch” ep (2008)
This is a good example of modern death rock- atmospheric and gothy, but fast and punky as well, with dramatic vocals (female this time) seeped in reverb (like the guitar), with some kinda cheesy horror keyboards thrown in for good measure. Like a cross between Christian Death and Rudimentary Peni, which is good stuff indeed.

No Talk – “Leather Discipline” (2010)
When last I heard these guys, they were playing a pretty awesome modern representation of old school Houston punk, along the lines of the Hates, Really Red, and Brown Paper Dog (but with gruffer vocals). On this album they’ve gone much more Ramones and dirty rock-n-roll-ish. Very dirty- Motorhead dirty (tho oddly enough, they don’t make me think much of Motorhead). \Greasy, sleazy but rockin mid-paced bar rock with a tiny punk influence; imagine Motorhead mixing Ted Nugent with the Ramones, and you have it.

Pantheon I – “The Wanderer and His Shadow” (2007)
Very well done black metal, with just the right amount of melody and those distorted raspy vocals all the black metal bands use these days. They break out some thrash riffs in places, and even a little old school worship (tho not too much), but the main thing I like about them is just the song structures. They’re put together well, so even the long songs don’t get boring. The pace is pretty varied (a good thing), and keyboards and other atmospherics are used sparingly. I like their breakdowns a lot- usually melodic but sometimes busting into an old school Hellhammer riff, they always sound good on here.

Ruins – “Ruins” 7”ep (2010)
Sludge has become very popular in the past few years, and I can’t disagree with it’s popularity (tho I’ve always liked it). I like the more crusty stuff better than the more rock-n-rolly stuff, and Ruins is indeed pretty crusty doom. They have 2 longer, slower songs and 1 punk song on this ep, but they incorporate other influences besides doom and punk- I hear some slight metalcore in the sound as well, particularly on the last song.

Snort – “Did You Decide In Your Tomorrow” ep (2010)
Oh man, this starts off really bad, and doesn’t get much better before the end. The music is actually pretty good, but the vocals are terrible! It’s those typical whiney emo/ screamo vocals, doubled so they sound even more overproduced. It’s mostly the really melodic, whiney kinda-screamed ones, but then there’s a little of the harsher screamed ones as well. The only thing that saves this from being complete crap is that it’s a lot faster than most bands like this, and has some pretty good bass lines. But it’s still crap.

War From A Harlot’s Mouth – “MMX” (2010)
When these guys blast, it’s pretty cool. Then sometimes they get on a Meshuggah offbeat groove, and that’s pretty cool too (mainly because I like their low end bass guitar sound). If they did those 2 things a lot more, I’d like them quite a bit better, but unfortunately, they often just kind of musically meander around without doing much of anything, which I don’t like much. They also do the deathcore chugga-chugga breakdown a little too often, and have crappy triggered drums. And pointless, gratuitous instrumental interludes. But I still like them better than most of these deathcore type bands.
Friday, December 24th, 2010
1:15 am
Cryptids – “Something Cryptis This Way Comes ep (2010)
This is Kam Lee’s (Massacre, Denial Fiend, very early Death) new project, and not at all what I expected. It’s pretty typical horror punk with a little Cramps-esque psychobilly touch thrown in for good measure. What makes it a little different is Kam’s much rougher than usual vocals for this stuff (most horror punk bands try to rip off the Misfits more melodic vocalizations). The first 2 songs are more in the Cramps surfy style, the third song is very Misfits influenced, and the last song is pretty thrashy. I’ve never liked surf/ psychobilly stuff much, but this ep is just short enough to be appealing without wearing out its welcome. And the second half (harder songs) is pretty good horror punk (which is hard to do well).

Culo – “Military Trend” 7”ep (2010)
Very raw hardcore with a slightly blown-out production (kinda like some of those ultra-distorted Japanese bands, but not as bad). The music isn’t that radical- kind of old school hardcore punk (think early Black Flag- Damaged and before, mixed with a little Negative Approach) but the raw production makes it seem heavier than it is. I like this stuff, frentic at times but with good progressions and a lot of changes. The first song is awesome.

Born Against – “Born Against” 7”ep (1990)
The 90’s had some pretty unique sounds creep into punk, with bands like Rorschach and these guys playing some very angst-ridden discordant but still tuneful hardcore. Rorschach had a lot more metal influence, and these guys a bit more offbeat punk rock (kinda early Black Flag singles on crack) influence. A lot of bands have taken this sound and ran with it in the years since (Born Against themselves refined it and made it more quirky and harder over the years), but there weren’t many bands doing stuff like this in 1990.

Cancer Spreading/ Cruel Storm split 7”ep (2010)
Each of these bands throws out 2 songs of crusty hardcore. Cancer Spreading are a little heavier and more metal, with a fuzzed out guitar sound and guttural vocals that sound about like most guttural crust vocals, but I still love. Cruel Storm are a little faster, and both songs have a good driving pace and bass line, with more raw vocals. I like them a little better (but both bands are good).

The Crucifucks - “The Crucifucks” (1984)
This album kicks ass. Side a is some of the the snottiest, punkest songs you’ll ever hear (and I’m not joking about that- it’s the definition of punk). The vocalist’s annoying-on-purpose vocals and the awesome drumming (by Steve Shelley, who went on to Sonic Youth) and bass playing (the bass really drives the songs) sticks out. Side b has a completely different feel- it’s still the same band and production, but it mixes in an art-damaged quirky feel and playing to the songs, perhaps a slight Minutemen influence. I like side a better, but both sides are great.

The Men That Will Be Blamed For Nothing – “A Very Steampunk Christmas” ep (2010)
There’s 4 songs on this- 2 are kind of Irish drinking song sounding, one is punk/ oi!, and one is kind of metal. Hard to describe- I think they’re more of a comedy act than serious. I don’t see the steampunk connection. The best is the oi! Song (which is a cover of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”- all the songs except one are Christmas ones). Features the drummer from Lords Of The New Church.

Sacrifice/ Propagandhi split 7” (2010)
This is kind of an odd coupling- both bands are from Canada, but Sacrifice (doing a Rush cover here) play thrash metal, and Propagandhi (doing a Corrosion Of Conformity cover) are pretty much pop punk (tho not the most overproduced/ bubblegum of the pack- they’re actually more on the punk side of pop punk with some bite. Better than most). The Sacrifice song is kind of boring, really. Not much to it. The Propagandhi song is a bit better, pretty fast (but with all the crossover of the original song washed out) and hardcore.

Two Witches – “Crucified” ep (2010)
This starts off with a fairly typical old school goth song- the bass line and reverb laden guitars, dramatic vocals. Then there is an interesting cover of Army Of Lovers song “Crucified”, a dark acoustic version of one of their older songs (with a bit of a cabaret feel), and 2 live songs. These guys aren’t quite as dark as a lot of the old school goth bands (not even as dark as they used to be- they’ve lightened up a bit, and I think this is a different vocalist). Not as good as their old stuff, but I guess times are hard for traditional goth bands. Gotta change it up a bit.

Fratricide/ Mission Of Christ split 7”ep (1987)
I always liked Fratricide quite a bit, after hearing their awesome song “Going Under” on an old Pusmort compilation. They’re a little more crossover here, not quiet as fast, but still good. Kind of along the lines of Corrosion Of Conformity’s Animosity with Roger Miret circa Liberty and Justice For… on vocals (very exaggerated). They have their own sound, tho- they aren’t a total rip off or anything. Good crossover, a bit more on the hardcore side.
Mission Of Christ, on the other hand, are a bit more on the metal side of crossover. More thrashy riffs and guitar stuff (tho not too much- it’s still good) and mosh parts. Both bands are great.
Thursday, December 9th, 2010
11:44 pm
Killing Joke – “Absolute Dissent” (2010)
Here is the first album with the original line up of Killing Joke since the early 80’s (they evidently saw each other for the first time at previous bassist Paul Raven’s funeral and decided to get together and work on new material). The sound is a little lighter than on the past couple of releases (which I really liked a lot, esp the last one (Hosannas From the Basements of Hell)), but ultimately 100% Killing Joke. There’re a couple of more electronic songs than they’ve done recently, a touching song written for Paul Raven, and then several more biting metallic songs. The more bass-driven tracks are mostly (sadly) missing, and some of the more electronic/ emotional songs kind of sound similar, but this is still a good album, which most Killing Joke fans should enjoy.

Tartanic – “Unavoidable” (2009)
Tartanic play kind of a weird mix of traditional Scottish bagpipe music mixed with Middle Eastern drums (and other instruments), some techno/ dub effects, and humor to create their own sound. The main focus is bagpipes, with a lot of cool and driving percussion to back it up (no vocals, except some samples in a couple of tracks). This particular release is a best of, featuring tracks from all 7 of their past releases. It’s not something I could sit around and listen to all the time, but some of the electronic remixes give the tracks a different feel, and the live track banter is pretty humorous; so it’s not just a bunch of traditional bagpipe music, but something unique. These guys play out at the Texas Renaissance Festival every year.

Eyaculacion Post Mortem – “El Analizador De Espectros” (2005)
I was expecting something else from this, something a lot more death rockish. This is actually pretty scattershot, featuring a lot of atmospheric pieces, and some weird electronic stuff- a lot of instrumental stuff. The vocals are kind of disappointing when they do appear- sometimes sparse, and mostly spoken- along the lines of Moonspell’s cheesiest stuff, and sometimes kind of a sinister sounding snarly voice which is better. There’s a lot of messing around- I guess this most makes me think of Alien Sex Fiend, but with less vocals and electronic stuff (tho there is some, as I mentioned before). It’s all a bit offbeat and creepy, which is good, but comes off as kind of pointless and amateurish overall. Needed a little more focus, or at least intensity to the chaos.

Desolation – “Rest In Panic” 7”ep (2010)
What an awesome little record. Totally raging crusty metallic hardcore, not much else to say except the only complaint is that it’s too short! The drumming on this stands out, and the guitars work together well, one providing a ripping wall of noise and the other playing leads and melodies over the top. The new vocalist sounds pretty much like the old one (roaring screams)- the best thing about this are the songs structures. One of my fav releases of 2010.

Pissed Jeans – “Sam Kinison Woman b/w The L Word” 7” (2010)
Both of these songs sound kind of like throwaway tracks from their last album. The a side of this is faster and more of a real song, but I like the music on the b side better. It makes me think a bit of old Flipper, with a deranged guitar progression repeated along with the same vocal line repeated over and over. These guys have always channeled old school weirdo/ mutant/ pig fuck (or whatever you want to call it) bands like Scratch Acid and Birthday Party, mixed with a little Nirvana (and other early Sub pop stuff). Now they’ve added a bit of Flipper. If you miss that stuff, seek them out. They won’t disappoint.

L.D.S. – “On the Cross” 7”ep (1985)
L.D.S. stands for Latter Day Saints, and is an apt name from a band from Utah. Great, original punk and hardcore with a slight death rock feel (that would get stronger on their follow up full length). The closest comparison I could think of for these guys would be the Freeze (in the Guilty Face and Rabid Reaction era), tho L.D.S. is a little harder and has a lot more bass action (which I like). The vocals in particular are Freeze-esque, but have their own feel to them, and the music has a lot of atmosphere, something not that many hardcore bands can manage).

Coke Bust – “Lines In the Sand (2010)
Blistering fast ass hardcore (tho not fastcore) from DC, reminding a little of old fast hc bands like Deep Wound and Gepøpel mixed with classic straight edge, like early Youth Of Today. Most songs are under one minute long, and start with a lot of feedback before they blasting into some chaotic stop-on-a-dime hardcore, then more feedback. The cd has a ton of bonus tracks from their demo and an early 7”ep, also some cover songs (Youth Of Today and The Faith).

Narrows/ Heiress split 7”ep (2010)
This band features members of Botch, Himsa, These Arms Are Snakes, and Undertow, so you might know what to expect. Narrows is the better of the two, the first song a bit typical of the above mentioned bands (particularly Botch), but the second song (“Feel the Sun”) standing out as pretty damn good. It still has some of the quirky playing and heaviness of that stuff, but a better overall song structure. Heiress is fairly typical of the genre- kinda boring tho heavy music, but with too much screwing around, the songs seemingly going nowhere. Both bands have very similar sounding vocalists- the roaring screamer of mathmetalcore. But luckily this is better than most of that stuff (esp Narrows).

Underworld – “Barking” (2010)
This new album from Underworld is a little underwhelming. It just doesn’t move me much- the older stuff was dark and original, offbeat and catchy all at once. It was techno influenced electronica, but not boring. A lot of it was different than anything that had been heard before. This new album is kind of bland, minimalistic. Repetitive but not hypnotic, and almost Depeche Mode-esque (their newer stuff, that is) at their most bland. It has a couple of decent songs (and interesting parts in most of the songs), but nothing that doesn’t fade to background music before too long. But I guess the worst part is the vocals. They no longer have much character to them, just average, undistinctive electronica vox. I think this is where the new Depeche Mode feel is coming from. Too bad.

Creation Is Crucifixion/ [Fate Of] Icarus split 7”ep (1999)
Creation Is Crucifixion only contribute 1 song to their side, and it is the typical math rock/ metalcore of the time period. Not as noodly as a lot of their contemporaries, and without any melodic parts that also seem to fill out the sound of other bands like this, I like it better than most others. [Fate Of] Icarus are a bit heavier- kind of a mix of metalcore, grindcore, and death metal. I’ve always liked these guys- brutal but also kind of off. Pretty original stuff.
Sunday, November 21st, 2010
8:42 pm
Pasadena Napalm Division – “Pasadena Napalm Division” ep (2010)
These guys finally release something. After seeing them play and hearing about them releasing something for 3 years, here it is. A six song ep. Truthfully, I’m a little underwhelmed, but that’s just because my expectations were so high. For those of you who don’t know, this band features Greg (guitars) and Ronnie (drums) from local heroes dead horse (plus Scott who was in the later dead horse line up), and Kurt from D.R.I. on vocals (plus new member Bubba, who I think was in a later line-up of Verbal Abuse). So I was expecting a lot, and what I got was some well played crossover with somewhat witty lyrics. It sounds quite a bit like the last two dead horse releases (the Feed Me and particularly Boiling eps), but with a little more hardcore influence. Nowhere near the brilliance or originality of their past bands (hidden track “Okra” comes closest to the old dead horse days), but still pretty damn good. For those of you not familiar with later period dead horse, imagine a slightly more hardcore Suicidal Tendencies Join the Army, or even some of D.R.I.’s later period stuff- not the average crossover sound most people think of (which is more thrash metal mixed with some hardcore, ala Municiple Waste), but more hardcore gone metal sound. Takne on it’s own, a decent debut effort. It’s just hard to forget where these guys come from.

Children Of Technology – “It’s Time To Face the Doomsday” (2010)
I thought these guys might sound kind of like Carnivore, but no such luck (never really heard a band that did, tho). Not that these guys are bad- just not exceptional. They tread the line between old school metal punk (like Motorhead and first Venom album) and thrash. I’ve heard some Discharge comparisons (they even reference them in their cd), but I don’t really hear much Discharge in this (at least not classic Discharge- maybe the mid-period metal stuff). I hear a lot more Kreator Endless Pain than Discharge. I was hoping for a little more punk in the sound, but this is pretty generic and passionless- kind of like a color-by-numbers book, but with old school metal instead of paints. Most of the songs thrash along at a pretty steady pace, with distorted guitars and vocals similar to Cronos (tho not near as charismatic), but it all gets a little tedious by the end. Pretty nice packaging and booklet, tho.

Napalm Death – “Order of the Leech (2002)
This is like the forgotten Napalm Death album- no one ever talks about it, and I don’t know anyone who has it. But it’s really good. This is where they found their groove and started perfecting it (after the early grindcore and line-up changes, the flirting with death metal and experimenting in the ‘90s, etc.). All the albums after this one have a similar sound and feel, which is masterfully played extreme music- a mix of death metal, hardcore, and grind that’s uniquely Napalm Death. The musicianship is awesome, but not showy, and tight as a drum. The songs weave many different parts together without sounding awkward or busy, and their experience at playing heavy music really shows. Great stuff.

Ratos De Porao/ Looking For An Answer split 10”ep (2010)
The RDP side continues the slide into more hardcore territory that they’ve been doing for the past 10 years or so. I thought that maybe with the big thrash/ crossover explosion of the past few years, they might head back in that direction musically (since they got popular doing it 20 years ago for Roadrunner), but I’m glad they haven’t. Good, tight stop/ start metallic hardcore is what they continue to do, tho the vocals still remind a little of older Sepultura at times. LFAA are starting to channel Repulsion a bit (tho not a total rip-off or anything); the vocals are a lot more guttural, but the music is that metallic grind that Repulsion did so well (tho with some more modern, classic LFAA grind sound mixed in as well).

Dezerter – “Prawo Do Bycia Idiota” (2010)
Dezerter are a legendary punk band in their country (Poland) who have been around for over 20 years. MaximumRockNRoll magazine put out an album of their stuff in the late ‘80s, because most of their releases were not making it to the States. They’ve always played tuneful punk rock with some post punk leanings, and this album is no exception. It gets more melodic as it progresses, some of the later songs even making me think of mid-period 7 Seconds at times. Catchy and well played (and produced), it’s not going to win any awards for originality, but it’s a good listen.

Doldrums – “Doldrums” 12”ep (2008)
More awesome crusty sludge, this time out of Colorado. The closest comparison to these guys would be Dystopia (they are a lot more crusty/ hardcore than most sludge bands like EyeHateGod). Typical anguished crusty vocals, deep clean bass, but faster parts than most sludge bands (almost grinding at times). The slow doomy parts are right on. From these 5 songs (plus an outro) I can say that they are one of my fav bands that play this kind of stuff (which I like a lot anyway).

Liaisons Dangereuses – “Liaisons Dangereuses” (1981)
One of the first bands doing the style later to be called e.b.m. (electric body music), these guys are a little closer to Kraftwerk than Nitzer Ebb (tho they sound like a cross between both), but never got the recognition those guys did (or even other bands from the era that fell under the spotlight, like D.A.F.). One of the things that really sticks out when listening to the early bands playing this style is the production. It’s very claustrophobic, almost doomy. Later bands copped this sound quite a bit, so it doesn’t sound all that fresh or original today, but back then they were on the cutting edge. Better than a historical curiosity, if you like electronic music this will probably be of interest to you.

Off! – “The First Ep” 7”ep (2010)
This is Keith Morris’ new band, and it sounds quite a bit like a mix of the first two releases of his first two bands (Black Flag and Circle Jerks). 4 songs in like 4 minutes, this reminds the most of Black Flag’s Nervous Breakdown 7”ep, tho something is a little off. It seems just a bit too effortless- Nervous Breakdown was full of frustration and anger. This sounds like an attempt to recapture that sound, but without the emotions that created it. That’s not to say it’s bad, I just need a little more passion and snotty attitude in my snotty punk rock. Raymond Pettibon (who did all of Black Flag’s art) did the cover art.

Instinct Of Survival – “Screams of Suffering” 7”ep (2010)
I’ve always thought these guys sounded like early Barney-era Napalm Death mixed with some stenchcore ala Prophecy Of Doom, however they’ve moved even more into death metal territory on this release, mixing quite a bit of Bolt Thrower into the sound (which they did a little on the last release as well, tho not as much). The guitars are very dark and sludgy sounding (the music isn’t sludgy, just the guitar sound- a lot like Bolt Thrower on Reign of Chaos). The vocals still have the stenchy sound to them, even with the music’s progression to death, so it still has a foot in the core camp.
Sunday, October 31st, 2010
5:30 am
Samhain – “November~Coming~Fire” (1986)
Some forms of music, such as post punk and death rock, are hard to describe to those who aren’t familiar with them. You just know them when you hear them. If you would like to hear the perfect example of what death rock should sound like, just listen to this album. Death rock is a cross between punk and goth, with a lot of darkness and atmosphere. Most death rock bands fall more on the gothic side, but Samhain tread the line right in the middle. The sound of this album is unique and almost otherworldly; definitely ahead of it’s time. The odd distortion on the guitars. The background growls, chimes, and feedback. And of course Danzig’s unmistakable vocals- here somewhere between the violence and sing-a-longs of the Misfits and the heavy metal howling of Danzig (the band). This whole album evokes an atmosphere of darkness and sinister primal urges. One of my fav albums of all time.

Peter And The Test Tube Babies – “Zombie Creeping Flesh” 7”ep (1983)
“Zombie Creeping Flesh” is a totally classic song, released in their heyday (right before the excellent album The Mating Sounds of South American Frogs). It’s alternately driving and creepy, with a great bass line and awesome leads. The essence of great punk and oi! here. Side B has the single version of the fastest song off The Mating Sounds of South American Frogs plus another track that’s ok. The real gem here is the A side, tho. Brilliant.

Diabolical Masquerade – “Nightwork” (1998)
There are several different forms of black metal, from the under produced primal ‘cult’ stuff to the overproduced, almost commercial ‘symphonic’ stuff. I actually like both kinds to some extent, and this album is a masterpiece that falls on the latter side of the style (tho not as far into the symphonic/ more accessible stuff as black metal can get. This stuff has some real bite). This is pretty much all Anders Nystrom’s (Blakkheim) project. Dan Swano does some production work and the drums, but this is mostly all Blakkheim’s baby (tho there is an additional flute player credited as well). It’s not near as chaotic or extreme as Diabolical Masquerade’s previous releases (which were also great), but is actually a very good mix of black metal and industrial. The black metal is the driving force, with the industrial touches mainly along to provide atmosphere (and boy does it). It has an overall medieval feel, but not in a Viking metal way- more just a strong feeling of epic and ancient darkness with a bit of experimentation and vicious guitar and vocals to remind us we’re listening to extreme music here, all masterfully put together with a perfect production. One of my most fav black metal releases ever.

Witching Hour – “The Hourglass” 12”ep (1992)
Textbook old school goth here. Sisters Of Mercy would be a good starting point for a comparison, old Rosetta Stone a better one; but Witching Hour are a little darker, in both subject matter and music. The bass drives all 4 songs on here, with a deep throbbing catchy rhythm backbone over which they layer melodic guitar with lots of delay. The vocals are pretty typical for this genre, but I like these guys a lot. Put any of these songs on and I’ll bet every goth in the area will start dancing.

Oneiroid Psychosis – “Stillbirth” (1995)
These guys have put out quite a few albums over the years (yet are virtually unknown), but this is their first (and my favorite). It’s hard to describe exactly what they sound like- imagine an Edgar Allan Poe compendium set to music. It’s like a horror movie soundtrack descending into madness. It starts out as some well done atmospheric industrial and electronic, very creepy in places but also kind of tribal and beat driven in others. The vocals are the weakest part, obviously trying to sound a little creepy and full of despair, but coming off kind of whiney in places, and a little weak (except when they kick in the effects, every once in awhile). At least they aren’t overly dramatic, as a lot of bands in this genre tend to make them- it wouldn’t fit with this material. They just need to sound a little more sinister in my opinion, and a little less hopeless. At any rate, they don’t take away from the awesomeness too much. The longer it goes on, the weirder and more unhinged it gets, until a little over halfway through it seems to transform from Poe to Lovecraft as we go down the rabbit hole. I like this quite a bit. Put on the song “Menarche” and see if it doesn’t put you in a creepy mood.

Eerie Von/ Mike Morance – “Uneasy Listening” (1996)
I’m not sure how much of this Samhain/ earlier Danzig bassist Eerie Von did and how much Mike Morance (who I’m not familiar with) contributed, because nothing else Eerie has done sounds anything like this (nor anywhere as awesome as this, either). This is (mostly) instrumental creepy horror and Halloween mood music. All the songs have their own feel, but they all feel dark and have atmosphere to spare. It starts out with an evil sounding waltz, and ends with a hopeful, more upbeat keyboard piece; in between are the sounds that haunted house operators and horror movie makers would love to use. Eerie does get to put his bass to good use in “Runnin’ Scared”, as well as the less frenzied (but spooky avant garde-ish) “Half a Gurl (Is Better Than None)” (the sole one that has vocals, unless you count the spoken word bit on “The Witches Lament”, the only track that I don’t care much for, perhaps because the witch sounds like Marge Simpson). I wish he would do another release like this, it’s good stuff indeed!
Saturday, October 30th, 2010
5:46 pm
Christ Vs. Warhol – “Dissent (2010)
Produced by William Faith (of Faith & The Muse), I’ve seen this advertised as punk, but it’s really more classic goth and death rock (which does have a punk side to it). I hear a strong Super Heroines influence, but they go beyond that sound, mixing in some modern poppier sensabilities (tho fortunately not too much). There is one song with a male vocalist, but it’s mostly Eveghost (from Scarlett’s Remains) who provides the singing (which sometimes is melodic and pretty, but mostly reminds me of some of those old Britpunk bands with female singers like Honey Bane and DIRT. That’s probably where they get the punk label from). The guitar is nice and distorted, and the production does a good job of being raw but still clean and clear.

Hallows Eve – “Death and Insanity” (1986)
This is an excellent thrash classic. Their second album, it comes close to being overproduced, but is a very well put together piece. I guess in sound and style it comes closest to Exodus’ Bonded By Blood (tho with a teeny punk influence in some of the progressions), but definitely not a rip-off. These guys throw in a lot of originality and just enough technical prowess to sound good, but not enough to distract from the song structures (the same with the vocals- he’s a decent vocalist, but not great. It fits with the music well). And that’s the best thing about this album- the song structures. They are just catchy enough to stick in your head, but thrashy enough to not be bland commercial bait.

Forbidden Dimension – “Into the Forbidden Dimension” 7”ep (1988)
This is kind of odd- very fuzzed-out punk and rock with horror topics. Has a little in common with bands like Scratch Acid, mixed with Nash The Slash or something equally bizarre. The production is low fi- everything sounds like it’s run direct into a 4 track, with a drum machine doing percussion. I like the ultra-distortion on everything. The vocals are rough, almost to a Motorhead level, but not quite that gruff. I hear a slight Misfits influence on it as well.

Nash The Slash – “Children of the Night (1980)
That last review made me want to revisit Nash The Slash, an oddball musician who came out of the crash of art and music that soon segregated into several different scenes. Bands like Chrome, Suicide, and the Residents seem like an influence, however Nash The Slash mix in a bit more rock and are a little less challenging than the above mentioned bands (with the vocals in particular- he doesn’t exactly try to sing, but he seems to be a little more melodic, and also skips the massive amounts of effects a lot of these other bands use to make their voices sound more harsh). He often writes about more dark themes, but with a bit of camp. His shows are performance art (often dressing like a mummy or other horror character). The music is primarily synth-based, but the rhythms are almost 50’s classic rock ‘n’ roll influenced (Dead Man’s Curve, in particular). Includes a cover of Deep Purple’s Smoke On the Water (retitled Dopes On the Water).

Violator/ Bandanos split 7”ep (2010)
Violator play pretty generic thrash, in the new wave style (that tries to recreate the old wave style, but is often missing something). They’re a little punkier and less technical than most of the new wave of thrash, and that’s a good thing. But they still don’t have much to make them stand out from all the others. They even do a Heresy cover. I like Bandanos a little better. They play the new wave of thrash sound on here as well (more so than on their past releases I’ve heard), but have a slight classic Accused influence I like a lot. They do a Corrosion Of Conformity cover.

The Freeze – “Guilty Face” 7”ep (1983)
Here’s a nice little bit of Boston hardcore from the early ‘80s. The songs are so chaotic- they sound like they could fall apart at any minute, but just barely stay together until the end. Despite that, you can tell that these guys can play their instruments, and just choose to play punk instead of some other form of rock. Snotty vocals, thrashy but tuneful guitars, dark lyrics- the only complaint I have is that it’s a little too short (they could have crammed one more song on there). Containing the Halloween classic “Halloween night”, definitely the best thing these guys have done (and they’ve done a lot of good stuff).

Keep Of Kalessin – “Reptillian” (2010)
Thrashy black metal that runs the gamut of black metal styles. They have something for everyone- slower songs, faster songs, long songs (it ends with a 14 minute long black metal epic), shorter songs. But above all the black metal, they have a very strong thrash metal influence, and the vocalist is proficient at switching between more thrashy vocals to heavier black and death vocals. They use keyboards sparingly, to add a bit of atmosphere and depth to the sound but they don’t overpower everything else. The only complaints I have is that the drums are a little overproduced (triggered I think), and the music just isn’t that memorable. I found the songs on the last album I heard from them (Armada) to be better, and other bands (such as Dark Fortress) do this same sort of thing a bit more memorably. Still, that’s not to say this is bad at all- just a little derivative and unexciting.

The Nerve Agents – “The Butterfly Collection” (2001)
I guess the main influence I can hear on this is old A.F.I. (their more punky stuff), but The Nerve Agents are better, in my opinion. They do have the kind of dark, horror punk edge A.F.I. started getting in their mid period, but these guys are more punk than anything (sounding quite a bit like what you would get if you mixed mid period A.F.I. mixed with The Freeze on their first couple of albums). They have an excellent production and very good musicianship, and mix in a lot of originality and dramatic flair that (unlike a lot of horror punk bands) doesn’t take away from the music. A good modern punk record. Members went on to be in Darker My Love (who sound quite different).

Phobia/ Extinction Of Mankind split (2010)
If you know Phobia, you know what you’re getting on their side of this brutal split- top caliber grindcore with a strong crust influence. Every song is good, super fast with a lot of variety in the guitar parts (unlike a lot of both crust and grind) and slower breakdowns here and there. Extinction Of Mankind play a bit slower (tho not slow by any means), and crusty as fuck. Dark crunchy guitars smash out some catchy but heavy rhythms, this may be the best thing I’ve heard from these guys. The dog bark vocals make a cool clash with some of the melodic guitar parts and memorable bass rhythms. Good stuff indeed.
1:03 am
Dag Nasty – “Dag With Shawn” (2010)
Recorded on Halloween day in 1985, this is 9 tracks recorded with their first vocalist Shawn Brown (who went on to be in Swiz). All these songs except one were re-recorded after he left the band and they got Dave Smalley (ex-D.Y.S.) on vocals as the “Can I Say” album. These tracks are a little rougher, and you can hear the Minor Threat influence (this was one of Brian Baker’s band after M.T.) particularly on the faster tracks like Can I Say and Another Wrong (the unreleased track). The guitars don’t have as many effects on them, so you can hear what they’re doing a little better, and the bass is higher in the mix. Shawn’s vocals are a bit more low key than Smalley’s; not as frantic or screamy (he almost sounds drunk at times). I still like the “Can I Say” versions better, but it’s interesting to hear different versions of songs that I know so well.

Dimmu Borgir – “Abrahadabra” (2010)
This is quite a piece of work. Evidently 11 months in the making, they solved their loss of a rhythm section by bringing in Snowy Shaw (Notre Dame, Mercyful Fate) on bass and Daray (Vader) on drums. Plus an entire orchestra, a female vocalist, and Garm (doing clean vocals on one track). The orchestra is in your face, not just used as atmosphere or background symphonics, but controlling entire song structures and playing up front quite a bit. But it fits together excellently, giving the music an epic, powerful and timeless feel. It does take away from the brutality somewhat, but Dimmu Borgir haven’t really been brutal in a long time, and with this release the direction their music has been heading in is finally realized, and the style fits with the overproduction much better than on the past couple of releases. They do take a moment to acknowledge some old school black metal on The Demiurge Molecule, and blast beat their way through at least a part or two in most every song, so I don’t want to give off the impression that this is a weak or commercial album. The vocals are vicious as ever (and there aren’t as many clean vocal parts), and the overall feel is darker, bombastic, and very atmospheric. They’ve outdone themselves with this one.

Doomtree – “Down Below” (2005)
This is Steve Zing’s (first Samhain drummer) new band (who had to change their name to Marras Drug because of another band with the name Doomtree), however he does vocals instead of drums on this album. The music is kind of a cross between Danzig-esque rock and most average horror punk stuff, with some grungy garage rock influence thrown in as well. It’s not exceptional in any way, but not bad either. Most songs include howling sing alongs, and a lot of melody. I like some of the off-kilter progressions they build, that give it a dark atmosphere for a verse here or a breakdown there, but they are a little too poppy to keep a sinister feel throughout. If it were just a little darker and/ or more extreme, it would be awesome. But as it stands, just a little bland and unexceptional.

Black Anvil – “Triumvirate” (2010)
It sucks when a band changes too much. When they move on almost totally from a sound that they were great at and you loved, and try to progress (usually becoming more commercial sounding in the process). What doesn’t suck as much, but still is kind of a drag, is when a band doesn’t progress at all, and does the same shit over again. That’s what Black Anvil have done on this, their softmore release. I liked their debut a lot, but this one gets a little tedious by the end. Their most prevalent song structure is a fast black metal blast with a breakdown at the end, and is overused on most of the first several songs. A couple of instrumentals break it up, and the last couple of tracks are a little different, but they need to inject a little something different, just a shot of originality in there to keep my interest. This is not a bad album at all, just not too terribly exciting.

The Gloominous Doom – “The Feature” (2010)
Here’s a band trying to do something different- mixing ska and surf with death metal. Actually the last album was more ska mixed with death, this album is more surf mixed with something akin to Candiria’s heavier songs. There are a lot of instrumentals and a lot more surf parts on this than there were ska parts on the last one (which was much better overall). This one is a bit more awkward sounding, and the heavy parts aren’t as good. I’ve never liked surf music, so I can’t really tell you if the surf parts are very good. If you like what Candiria does, but with surf mixed in instead of rap and jazz, you’ll probably like this a lot. For me it’s thumbs down (and I really liked their last album a lot).

Danzig – “Deth Red Sabaoth” (2010)
This album sees Danzig in an (evidently) reflective state of mind; as he does something that he has rarely ever done- retreading past ground. This album would have fit perfect between II (“Lucifuge”) and III (“How the Gods Kill”) stylistically, however there is a raw sloppiness to it that I don’t think we’ve heard from him before (at least under the name Danzig). His vocals are back to the full on howls and deep crooning of the glory days, and Tommy Victor (who I’ve never cared much for) is a good stand in for John Christ. Type O Negative’s Johnny Kelly does the drums, and seems a little subdued on here. Danzig himself plays the bass, but it doesn’t matter because you can’t really hear it. Other than that the production is good, but the songwriting is not quite as good. The songs seem to have needed a little more work. Many of them go on far too long, repeating the same thing over and over until they kind of fall apart, or just have to end anticlimactically. And as with every Danzig album, there is one terrible song (on this one it’s Juju Bone). That’s not to say there aren’t some good songs on here (or even brilliant parts of songs) but it still can’t hold a candle to some of the best Danzig releases. But if you’ve been wanting him to return to the sound for which he’s most known for, this is probably what you’ve been waiting for. He’s said several times this may be his last album, but I hope it isn’t- I think he has at least one more really good album in him. Hopefully he’ll put it out before he quits.

Cathedral – “The Guessing Game” (2010)
Usually, when I review music, I’ll listen to the album once, then as I’m listening to it a second time through I’ll write the review. Sometimes, I have to listen to a release several times to really get a feel for it. This is one such album. For one thing, it’s a double disc. But on top of that, it’s a lot to take in. Cathedral have always wore their influences on their sleeves, and not been shy at all about mixing odd or offbeat influences into their staple of doom metal. From death to disco, they have always mashed up genres into their sound. This release is no different, however they have less of their own, signature sound mixed in with the outside influences, and the tracks are more varied than ever. Unfortunately this is also probably their least extreme album- it could use a little more heaviness to anchor all the psychedelic and avant garde touches. But rather than heavy doom metal, the base is more ‘80s straight heavy metal on the first disc. The second disc is a little heavier, and a little better (my fav track is the 9 minute long Requiem For the Voiceless). More recognizable as vintage Cathedral, there’s still experimentation, but it’s done better. While the first disc doesn’t really gel well (from the psychedelic to the heavy metal to the title track, which sounds like the background music to a ‘70s coming attractions advance advertisement), the second is quite good (tho it should be pointed out that it’s all pretty interesting, and still better than Supernatural Birth Machine).

A.F.I. – “All Hallow’s E.P.” ep (1999)
This is really the first time these guys really started the transformation from melodic punk/ hardcore band to something darker (and ultimately, more commercial). It features 4 songs (including a cover of Misfits’ Halloween), all of which are pretty good except the last one (Totalimmortal, which isn’t bad, but not near as good as the others). It’s not long enough for the vocals to get on my nerves (something that happens on A.F.I.’s full lengths, esp the ones that came after this ep, since his vocals get more distinct and annoying on later releases), and has some interesting atmospheric bits between the songs. Pretty well put together melodic punk, starting to transform into horror punk somewhat.
Friday, October 22nd, 2010
4:11 am
G.B.H. - "Perfume and Piss (2010)
When you have a band who's been going since the '70s, and all of their output hasn't been great (well, with these guys most of it has been mediocre really, except the early eps), you don't expect much from them in 2010. This release is a little better than I expected, but not great. Decent rocking punk, but bands like The Exploited (who've been around just as long) and State are blowing them away. Their lyrics are still good, and the musicianship is solid (don't really like the triggered drums tho). They write some decent songs; I guess the music style (mostly mid-paced punk rock) has been diluted and so many mainstream bands mix in punk and play more radical music than this, it just seems kind of average/ uninspired. But this is probably the best thing they've done in ages.

Rikets - “All American Death Cult” (2010)
Here’s what would happen if you crossed Pantera with Static X. I thought we were rid of this industrial-lite stuff at the end of the ‘90s. A little more Static X than Pantera (perhaps even a little Korn thrown in), this is not good. Lyrics like “She’s a liar/ She’s on fire” are downright bad. Most of the songs start out good, then become tediously conventional and mediocre. The Pro-tools production makes the guitars nice and crunchy, but they sound like every mall-metal band’s guitars that have come out in the past 5 years. I have to admit the cover of “Cry Little Sister” is pretty good, tho (probably because the original vocalist, Gerard McMann does guest vocals on it).

Flipper - "Love" (2009)
This is some great shit. Flipper have always done their own thing, playing slower when everyone else played faster, always experimenting and pushing boundaries. Then Will Shatter died and it all fell apart (tho I‘ve heard it was already coming apart), until they suddenly came back in the'90s with a more accessible (but still punky and interesting) sound. Then their replacement bass player died (also of a drug overdose), and now over 10 years later, they've released this with Kris Novoselic (Nirvana) on bass. And it's still a more accessible sound (tho not quite as much as on the last album American Grafishy), but awesome- dirgy, heavy ass punk with driving rhythms and great bass lines. Catchy but still dangerous sounding, groovy but not poppy at all. These guys influenced Nirvana, The Melvins, even Black Flag’s later stuff. I hope they put out even more stuff.

Sick Of It All - "Based On a True Story" (2010)
SOIA have been through several different sounds in their journey through punk and hardcore. My fav stuff from them is their earliest sound- old school hardcore. But they've been through metalic tough-guy moshy hardcore, street punk, and most of the sounds between. So where are they in 2010? Pretty much a mix of all of the above, except the earliest stuff (which, as I said, is my fav. Oh well). This album contains 14 solid metallic hardcore songs, well written and played, but nothing fancy. A lot of this kind of stuff gets tedious and boring pretty fast, but these guys have been doing it so long they can pull it off without it getting dull. Good breakdowns and a lot of chorus chanting and singing (almost too much) throughout. One thing SOIA do well that sooo many metallic hardcore and metalcore bands just can't pull off is to keep slower and midpaced songs interesting. It's not just a bunch of same-sounding chugga chugga riffs; they actually play some progressions that hold your interest. I'm glad they're still around.

Warbeast - "Krush the Enemy" (2010)
Featuring 3 members of Gammacide, plus Bruce from Rigor Mortis (TX) on vocals, and with the big thrash resurgence happening, you pretty much know what this is going to sound like: old school thrash. It actually sounds quite a bit like what it would sound like if Gammacide had Bruce on vocals (tho a little slower than Gammacide’s average speed metal pace- these guys are more thrashy). One thing you get when you put old school seasoned veterans together on a project like this, is a much better played output than all the Johnny-Come-Lately run of the mill thrash bands cropping up everywhere. Very well put together songs, without any grandstanding or show-offy excessive guitar wanking (just the right amount for this kind of music) and it is a little faster than most of the straight-out thrash bands. If you like speed/ thrash and old school metal, this is for you.

Devo - "Something For Everybody" (2010)
It's been 20 years since Devo's last album, and in that time pop culture and life in general has finally more or less caught up with these ahead-of-their-time geeks. When they came out, not many knew about the theory of De-evolution (where their name comes from); now we're experiencing it. Musical sound and production has also caught up with them (bands like The Postal Service and The Killers got really big doing the Devo thing a few years ago). So the big question is, what do they sound like now? Pretty much the same as they did back in the '80s, with a modern production and some synthpop mixed in. It's the same band members (plus Josh Freese on drums), and their catchy and geeky new wave sounds more natural and well played than many of the more modern bands (including those mentioned above), tho they can't really be considered very quirky and offbeat by today's standards. If all you know from them is "Whip It", check this out. It's pretty good.

Planes Mistaken For Stars - "Fuck With Fire" (2001)
A lot of bands sound like this now, the hardcore rock sound, kinda like Rollins Band or Bl'ast (without the offbeat influence) mixed with a little Fugazi or maybe even Sonic Youth's more rocking stuff. But this was one of the first bands I heard doing it. Very tuneful and well played, but with hard parts too; this isn't emo or screamo, or even post hardcore really. Just rockin' music that might bridge the gap between Motorhead and the Pixies on a mix tape. I've heard they got a lot lighter on later releases.

Wormrot - "Abuse" (2010)
Fairly typical grindcore here, they have some good songs but not much to stick out from the glut of pure grind bands that have been coming out in the past 5 years or so. The drummer is very good- more busy than most grind bands, and they throw in an odd influence here and there (and not so odd as well- there are nods to both Nasum and Unholy Grave), but don't step too far away from the mold (if they did, it wouldn't be grindcore any more). The production is very clean, and they check all the right boxes, but with all the above average grind albums that have been released recently, these guys come off as really good, but not overly exciting.

Alien Sex Fiend - "Death Trip" (2010)
I like a lot of Alien Sex Fiend's subject matter, look, imagery, etc., but I don't like them a lot. The main problem I have with them is that they're kind of boring- it's like most of their albums are them just screwing around or half-assing it. So you get these long ass repetitive songs that don't do much for me. When they write a real song, it's usually pretty good; unfortunately you only seem to get a couple on each album. Their instrumentals are usually better than their regular songs. On this new album, it's more of the same. A bunch of screwing around with a few cool ideas, instrumentals, and a couple of decent songs. The music sounds about the same- the cosmic sci-fi mutant electronic music with ultra-distorted vocals; a little rockabilly touch here and there; some goofy spoken word stuff over soundscapes and electronic noise. If you like these guys, you'll like this album, of that I have no doubt.

Front Line Assembly - "Shifting Through the Lens" single (2010)
This contains a remix of the title track, which is very much in the vein of their last album- the more techno-centric style that's similar to bands like VNV Nation, but a version that's instantly recognizable as FLA. "Angriff" (the album version) on the other hand, sounds more like older FLA (and even has some guitar, not as out front as the "Millennium" era, but still quite noticeable). It ends with a long soundscape. This is pretty good, and makes me look forward to the forthcoming album "Improvised Electronic Device".

DieMonsterDie – “Fall To Your Knees” (2010)
Horror punk. The problem with this style of music is that it started off highly derivative, and got more watered down from there. Most of these bands are abysmal, however DieMonsterDie is a little better than most. They write better songs (not just Misfits rip-offs), with their own take on the genre. Really it’s just punk rock with some nods to horror punk (the ‘Go’s’ in one track, the subject matter), and two very different vocalists (which sounds a little awkward at times). One is more of a Michale Graves typical horror punk crooner, but the other is more Lemmy-esque (which actually makes some of their songs kind of Motorhead-esque at times). Some of their lyrics are ridiculously cheesy, but that come with the territory.

Goldust – “Destroyer/ Borderlines” (2010)
The music these guys play is similar to mid period (“Humanity Is the Devil”, etc.) Integrity- metallic hardcore with a lot of changes and very solid musicianship, but with a dark feel to it. I like how they mix in some doomy parts, and have a lot of interesting (and atmospheric) touches in the music (without using any samples or keyboards). But it’s still fast hardcore, and the vocals reflect that with a fairly typical rough-vocaled screamer. This is actually better than I’m making it sound- much better than 99% of all metalcore and tough guy hardcore.
Sunday, October 17th, 2010
5:09 am
my hard drive crashed, but now I'm back on...
Masakari - "The Profit Feeds" (2010)
I was kind of expecting this to be a little better than it actually is. Not that it's bad, but after all I'd heard about it (and the fact that the fairly picky Southern Lord label put it out) I expected it to kill all. As it stands, these guys play a completely adequate but nothing special metallic crusty hardcore with a lot of samples mixed in. Their song structures are a little more complex than most of these types of bands, but the production is a little thin, and therefore the sound isn't as heavy as, say, Tragedy or From Ashes Rise. Decent stuff, but nothing to go out of your way for.

Spermbirds - "A Columbus Feeling" (2010)
Well done catchy (but not pop) punk from these old school German veterans. One thing that really stands out is the excellent lyrics- snotty, witty and smart, and quite poetic for a punk band. People wanting them to sound like they did in the '80s (and those into hardcore and harder stuff exclusively) probably won't care much for this- it's punk rock, with about as much rock as punk, but it still has bite (kind of along the lines of Wild In the Streets era Circle Jerks). The songs are very well put together, and besides the excellent lyrics, features some of the best leads since Peter And The Test Tube Babies "The Mating Sounds of South American Frogs". It starts losing steam a little over halfway through, but I like it a bit better than their last release (Set An Example).

Hummingbird Of Death/ Sidetracked split 7"ep (2010)
On this release, the highly prolific Hummingbird Of Death play faster and shorter than ever before, however it's not as grindy or power violency as on other releases. Just pretty straight out fast hardcore. Sidetracked take it even farther, thrashing out 9 shards of hardcore that make up in intensity what they lack in substance. Not the best H.O.D. stuff, but a decent release.

White Lung - "It's the Evil" (2010)
There are some forms of music that are hard to describe; you just know it when you hear it. Two forms of music like this that are related are death rock and post punk. White Lung play both, tho they fall a bit more in the death rock camp (their music sounding almost like a cross between Super Heroines and Samhain's November~Coming~Fire). I like this a lot- atmospheric and a little gothy, but with some punk bite and female vocals, mostly screamed (some early C.R.A.S.S. records influence creeping in). There seems to be a small revival for stuff like this in recent years (previously not heard much from since the early '80s), but White Lung do it better than most of the others I've heard. They're just a little harder, for one thing, and have a little more atmosphere. Overall, I guess they're just a bit more convincing.

Tumorhead/ Gut Bucket split 7"ep (2010)
Gut Bucket return with 3 of their best songs (one track from their last album plus 2 new ones). Some of the heaviest but also catchiest death metal ever, with a great distorted bass that'll rip your head off and gutteral vocals from hell. Tumorhead sound a bit like the punkier Abscess stuff- crusty punk death metal with weird progressions (and even whistling in one song) that ends with a cover of the "Gilligan's Island" theme, but about Cthulhu instead of Gilligan.

Iron Maiden - "The Final Frontier" (2010)
From the start, they make you think this is going to be a different side of Maiden. But then the offbeat instrumental intro clumsily changes into one of their most straight rock and roll songs since the first album. After that they fall back into the mold of their past few albums (which I liked a lot better than the entirety of their '90s output), but with a little more rock and roll, and even a more melodic edge to it. They've gotten a little too comfortable with the martini and golf lifestyle, and have became a bit formulaic in their autumn years. A lot of the intensity and passion is missing, but their musicianship and songwriting ability aren't lacking in the least (bloated as some of the songs may be). Make no mistake- this is Maiden and it sounds like Maiden, power metal ballads and galloping bass and Bruce's characteristic vocals soaring above it all. If you like Maiden, you'll like this. If you're a big fan, you'll eat it up. If you don't know that much about Maiden, check out Piece of Mind instead. This is a decent album, not anywhere near as good as their best, nor near as bad as their worst.

Madball - "Empire" (2010)
If you know Madball's sound, then you know what this sounds like. Tough guy metallic hardcore along the lines of Hatebreed (tho Madball's been around longer) but with a little more hardcore and a little less metal in the mix. This one was produced by Eric Rutan (and features him doing guest guitar on two tracks), but the production is a little weak- the guitars don't have the punch of past releases, and it's way too clean over all. They make up for it for playing faster on more songs than on past releases, and Agnostic Front vocalist Roger Miret (who is, of course, Madball vocalist Freddy's big brother) lends his unmistakable vocals to one track.
Tuesday, May 4th, 2010
4:00 pm
:Wumpscut: - ":Siamese:" (2010)
:Wumpscut: have sounded pretty much the same on the past 4 or 5 cds, and this one is no exception. Each one has a few songs that I like a lot (this one is the opening track- "Falling From Lucifer's Grace". I like it a lot) and a bunch that are decent, but don't really stand out much from the current glut of Combichrists out there (yes, I know that :Wumpscut: has been around much longer than most of those bands, but since they adopted that sound they haven't really been that interesting to me). Having said that, I like this one a little better than the last couple (particularly the last one). It has a bit more of a creepy atmosphere to it, and more layered electronics; not as stripped down. I wish they would re-introduce some of the more harsher sound into their music, tho. They need to kick it up a notch.

Ambush - "Fright Night" (2010)
Another hardcore band in the Paint It Black mold (tho from Florida this time); I've always liked Paint It Black, but I'm hearing more and more bands coming out with this sound and it's starting to get a little tedious. If you don't know the sound, they combine the tightness and melody of someone like NOFX with the harder edge of tough hardcore along the lines of Death Before Dishonor or Sick Of It All. Mostly fast and well played, the vocals are harshly higher-pitched screamed and the music is slightly overproduced with a lot of samples between songs (and these guys throw in the gang shout vocals on several tracks as well). The lyrics are a little better than usual (possibly because this is their softmore release- I haven't heard their first album), and overall this is good stuff, I'm just starting to get tired of this sound.

Soulfly - "Omen" (2010)
I've never been a big Soulfly fan; as a matter of fact, I don't have any of their other albums (and I believe this one is number seven). I've heard some of them, and liked some of what I've heard, but found them to be a bit gimmicky (too many hip-at-the-moment guest vocalists and musicians), repetitive, and I seem to recall somewhat of a nu metal feel on at least some of their releases. Well, I'm here to say that this new album is much better than I remember them being in the past. It still has a little annoying repetitiveness in places, and a couple of guests (Greg of The Dillinger Escape Plan and Tommy Victor, who I'm not a fan of- indeed, the song he's on ("Lethal Injection") is probably the worst song on the album), but no nu metal. As a matter of fact, it actually reminds me a lot of Sepultura, circa Chaos A.D. (with a slight modern update- imagine Chaos A.D. mixed with just a touch of newer In Flames). They have quite a few "Biotech Is Godzilla" style hardcore songs, and also the usual slower crunchy metal songs (I like the faster ones better). The songwriting is good for the most part, but they start and end with too many fade ins and outs- that gets tedious after awhile. And the song sequence could have been better (I think having Logan Mader help produce it was a mistake), but these are petty gripes. I liked this a lot better than I thought I would. *Edit- I just found out that they're going to be releasing a version with a bonus cover of Sepultura's song "Refuse/ Resist", so maybe they were feeling the Chaos A.D. vibe as well.

Revolting Cocks - "Got Cock?" (2010)
You never know exactly what you're going to get with a new Revco album. The revolving door line up and different leader for each era has brought them through EBM, industrial, dance, and dirty rock and roll (among other things). In recent years Al Jourgenson has been the main conductor (with even Connelly and Van Acker conspicuously absent) with an even odder assortment of musicians, and their latest releases have been a mix of My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult-style sleezy electronics and Butthole Surfers style offbeatness. This album has a distinct '80s feel to it at the beginning, even having a bit of a later period Sisters Of Mercy feel on the first couple of songs, before it gets to the sexy offbeat grooving. It also features harder guitars on a couple of tracks (as a matter of fact, this is probably their hardest album- not to say it's that hard, like Ministry or something, but harder than most Revco stuff). The vocals range from an almost Ian McCulloch sounding clean croon to later Ministry screaming, to cartoony goofiness. The cover on this one is of 2 Live Crew's "Me So Horny", not near as good as a lot of their past covers.

Bedboys - "L'Indifferenza Uccide..." 7"ep (1985)
This is an excellent old ep of Italian hardcore- some of the best hardcore came from Italy in the '80s- Declino (my fav), Raw Power, Terveet Kadet, The Wretched, too many more to mention. Most Italian hardcore is pretty furious, but Bedboys are a little more tuneful. They play some jangly and distorted stuff, but I like the offbeat/ erratic progressions and rhythms they do (kinda like a harder Peggio Punx) with great bass lines and choruses. 7 songs, all well played, emotional, and raging.

Jello Biafra And The Guantanamo School Of Medicine - "The Audacity of Hype" (2009)
This is supposedly Jello's 'real' band (after being backed up by the Melvins, D.O.A., NoMeansNo, and many others), which features members of Victims Family, Faith No More (no, not Mike) and Helios Creed. No matter who backs him up, most of Jello's bands have pretty much the same sound (at least the ones that are named 'Jello Biafra And...')- kind of a punk mixed with college rock sound (with the punk-to-college rock ratio depending on the band backing him), mostly a showcase for his unmistakable vocals and biting wit. This band features a much higher punk-to-college rock ratio (kind of surprising seeing who's in the band), even harking back to some of the Frankenchrist era Dead Kennedys stuff at times (but without as much experimentation). They redo 2 of the songs from the No WTO Combo album (he did 10 years ago at the big Seattle WTO protest), plus 7 new ones. I still like Lard and Dead Kennedys better, but this is pretty damn good.

Blunt Force Trauma - "Hatred For the State" ep (2009)
This is Felix Griffin's (D.R.I.'s longest running drummer) latest band, and it's not too far off from D.R.I.'s mid-period stuff. A little more in the tougher hardcore vein (close to bands like Death Before Dishonor and Sick Of It All) but definitely still following in the D.R.I. footsteps (it even features a cover of "Mad Man", plus Minor Threat's "Straight Edge") this is a pretty decent effort from these Austinites. Nothing too special, but still very well played metallic hardcore with pissed off lyrics and no pretensions or frills.

Black Breath - "Heavy Breathing" (2010)
First off, these guys sound nothing like Repulsion. They are pretty bad ass, tho. Featuring members of a couple of hardcore bands (Go It Alone and The Shook Ones), they play some very Sunlight Studios sounding (particularly early Entombed) metal mixed with a slight bit of punk. I guess you could lump them in with crusty metal bands like Stormcrow, Hellshock, and Lair Of the Minotaur, but Black Breath are faster and really do channel the late '80s Swedish sound (producer Kurt Ballou (Converge) really replicates the Sunlight Studios sound), a lot more than they did on their ep (Razor To Oblivion, which added a bit of dirty Motorhead to the formula. They don't have as much of that influence on this). Since Left Hand Path is one of my most fav albums, that's a good thing (tho it has to be said Black Breath aren't as good of a song writers as Entombed were on that album). Tho lacking in originality, I'll still be playing this a lot.

Logical Nonsense - "Expand the Hive" (1997)
One of my favorite hardcore releases from the '90s, this is blistering stuff, with both crust and power violence influences (tho not fully either, there are tuneful moments as well). Very well played and put together, with interesting samples and song structures, well produced with a lot of thought obviously put into it. Other bands have picked up the influence, but it was pretty original when it came out (and there aren't many original ideas in hardcore (at least when you can still call it hardcore), especially hardcore this fast and heavy).

Seein Red - "We Need To Do More Than Just Music" (2005)
Seein Red have been around since the '80s (forming from the ashes of the mighty L'a'rm), and have always played variations on raging hardcore thrash. This album is no different, tho it might be even faster throughout than they usually are. I love it when experienced punk veterans come out and just rage, because even tho it seems very simple, more experienced/ better musicians still (usually) step it up a notch and bring the stop-on-a-dime tightness that so many thrash bands are missing. L'a'rm was a pretty sloppy (tho awesome) band, and Seein Red are equilly awesome, but not sloppy at all. Great stuff.
Thursday, April 15th, 2010
12:41 pm
Triptykon - "Eparistera Daimones" (2010)
This is Tom Fischer's (ex-Hellhammer, Celtic Frost, Apollyon Sun) new band, and he's returned to being called Tom Warrior. That's not all that harkens back to the old days- this album starts off very reminiscent of Hellhammer's The Triumph of Death, but after that it's kind of a mix of Celtic Frost's sounds over the years (minus Cold Lake, thankfully). There's even a return to the sick-goat-in-heat vocals that debuted on Into the Pandemonium (and a little of the female opera stuff as well) on one track. But overall this sounds the most like Monotheist, in feel (it has the exact same production- very dark and heavy, crunchy guitars, ultra-distorted but clear). Unfortunately some of it is a little boring, and drags in parts. Like possibly they needed a producer to reel in some of the ideas and tidy it up a bit (it was written and produced by Tom Warrior). But overall it's pretty damn good- heavy, doomy, adventurous, epic.

Landmine Marathon - “Sovereign Descent (2010)
These guys started out as a grind band (with an ex-member of Unruh), but very little grind remains in their sound now. This album starts and ends very Bolt Thrower influenced sounding (and I hear a strong Bolt Thrower influence throughout, tho they sound nothing like Bolt Thrower), but in between is a mix of hardcore, thrash and death metal as well as a little sludge (ala Crowbar). I like this album a bit better than “Rusted Eyes Awake” or the split with Scarecrow- all their influences gel better on this one, and it comes together well. They have a lot of changes in most of their songs, with good leads and throat ripping, raspy vocals (courtesy of frontwoman Grace Perry. No relation to Katy). I like it a lot.

King Diamond - “The Puppet Master” (2003)
According to King Diamond, there are only 2 albums he put out in his career that he would not change a single thing on if he had the chance: “Abigail” and this one. I have to admit, this is a pretty solid album. It features all the things a classic heavy metal album should have- ripping guitar progressions and scorching leads, grandiose production (King Diamond is usually a little over produced, but it fits), double kick drums, etc.; it also features everything a classic King Diamond album should have; mainly lots of dramatics, great creepy atmosphere, and his unmistakable vocals. I’ve always liked Mercyful Fate a little better, but this is as good of a King Diamond album as I’ve ever heard.

Mother Of Mercy - "III" (2009)
You might (like me) think that these guys would sound something like Samhain (because of their name). They do not. They play fairly average metallic hardcore- not quite metalcore or as metal as, say, Madball, but a little more on the hardcore side like Hoods, Sick Of It All, Wisdom In Chains, or particularly Integrity (they make me think a lot of Integrity, but not as good). The lyrics are also more along the lines of Integrity (much better than the typical tough guy jockcore stuff). They have some good riffs and an occasional stand out progression, but mostly are fairly mediocre.

Def.Master/ Spine Wrench split 7"ep (1995)
Def.Master (who's also done a split with Discordance Axis) have 2 songs on here, one an early mix of metal and aggro-techno with distorted vocals along the lines of Malformed Earthborn or Meathook Seed, and one kind of a chanty instrumental.
Spine Wrench play early Godflesh worship on their track- tortured, feedback laden, distorted industrial metal. Very mechanical sounding but heavy, done as well as most of those bands did back then (there were a lot of the Godflesh sounding bands in the early '90s).

Clusterfux - "Problem Reaction Solution" (2009)
Very crusty hardcore, but with an original feel. They throw in some d-rock (ala Disfear) but are mostly vicious crustcore. I like some of their offbeat time signatures and acoustic intros (tho it's mostly straight brutal), the ripping distorted bass that crunches along in the background, and the raw ass effects-laden vocals and hollow drum sound. It ends with an Amebix cover that isn't that great, but the rest of it is.

Pigeon Religion - "Crystalized Meth" (2010)
Slightly different (shorter) versions of 2 of these songs were released on cassette last year. They're both in the Rancid Hell Spawn/ God Bullies type mold (sloppy art punk spazzy- fuck no wave rock or something like that- not sure what to call this genre- if you like Birthday Party or Scratch Acid, this is like that but nowhere near as good). The 3rd track is a little more dirge-y, and I like it a little better. But really, none of this seems very inspired- I like bands like this, but these guys just aren't as good as a lot of others.

(Project) Ritual Noise - "8 Bit Paranoia" (2008)
I kind of expected this to be a little more experimental, or noisy, but it's fairly typical instrumental electronica. Slower techno beats with the distorted drum machine over fairly tranquil electronics- I really have to be in the mood to get into this. Random samples and strings with scratchy noises and heavy effects on most everything. Generally the beats destroy any atmosphere that is built (personally I like creepier stuff better) and these guys don't really do the tribal beats well (as someone like, say, Delerium) but they don't try to for the most part (which is a good thing). Decent, but there are far better bands doing the same thing.

Unleashed - "As Yggdrasil Trembles" (2010)
For those of you wondering, Yggdrasil is in Norse mythology, and it's the 'world tree' (around which exist the worlds). My mythology might be a little rusty, but that's more or less it. Unleashed are returning to their early sound (not that they ever strayed very far- this isn't a band who jumps trends. But they flirted with crusty rock and punk a little in their sound before, and there's not much of that here), which I've always loved. Blackened death metal done by seasoned veterans who were great even when they started. They aren't the heaviest, but they write excellent songs (I actually prefer their fast ones over their slower ones, but both are good) with just enough melody and driving rhythm mixed in with the thrashing to make it catchy but not showy or weak. A very solid album.
Wednesday, March 17th, 2010
3:59 am
KMFDM - “Day of Light b/w Beach” 7” (2010)
This is the last of the KMFDM “24/7 Singles Series”, in which they celebrated their 24 years of existence by releasing a different limited edition 7” every month for 24 months. This is the first one to feature new/ unreleased songs, and is pretty underwhelming. Side A is an average song that would have been better if members of KMFDM had done the vocals (instead they’re done by William Wilson of Legion Within). It’s one of their more industrial, less guitar-centric songs. Side B is just the sound of waves crashing on the beach. Seriously. Kind of a waste.

Dark Tranquility - “We Are the Void” (2010)
One of the pioneers of the Gothenberg sound, Dark Tranquility are back with their 9th album. They helped invent the sound, and are one of the few bands still around playing it (outliving the glut from the early aughts), so you know what to expect- blackened death metal with tuneful guitars and keyboard-laden rhythms, raspy vocals and catchy progressions, a lot of melody and some gothic touches. This album seems a teeny bit weaker than past releases, with more romantic pretty parts and clean vocals. The songs don’t seem as well put together, either- I like the opener a lot, but then it gets pretty boring up until all the way around track 9 (which has some bite). Trying to get more popular like fellow tour mates Devil Wears Prada, perhaps? I hope not. Anyway, I still like it better than fellow Gothenbergers In Flames’ newer stuff.

Low Threat Profile - “Low Threat Profile” 7”ep (2010)
This is a new band featuring Matt Domino (Infest/ Crossed Out) on guitar, Andy (No Comment) on vocals and Bob (Lack Of Interest) on drums. A fastcore fans dream team, you might say, and they knock it out of the park with 10 songs, only a couple over a minute (and most under 30 seconds). Not too much in the way of power violence (if that was what you were expecting), but just super fast, tight, stop-on-a-dime hardcore with a few breakdowns and mosh parts. You’d be amazed at what they can do in a 14 second song. Great stuff here.

Bear Proof Suit - “Science Is Dead” 7”ep (2006)
This has an old school SST sound to it- kind of like if you took every era of Black Flag and mixed them all together. There’s more to it than that, tho- there’s some indie rock influence on this, but with the exception of the song Sans Equity (which is a little overlong, but with a Black Sabbath-esque sound to it), this is pretty damn rockin’. Noisy/ offbeat punk with good bass lines and interesting changes.

Abney Park - “Aether Shanties” (2009)
This is a little bit of a departure from their last releases (that I’ve heard, anyway). Previously, they played goth tinged industrial, with a strong influence from Middle Eastern music styles. This one, on the other hand, has a strong cabaret influence. There’s still a little of the old sound on it (especially on the first few tracks), but after it kicks in, the lounge/ cabaret style almost overpowers everything else. I’ve never been a huge fan of this band, but that they’re talented is undeniable, and they’re usually interesting. I like this new style evolution even less, but once again they do it well, and it remains (mostly) interesting for a listen or two.

Bitter End - “Bitter End” 7”ep (2008)
Fairly generic and unoutstanding hardcore, the Sick Of It All/ newer Agnostic Front type with the big chugga-chugga riffs and metal influence. Don’t get me wrong- it’s not bad. These guys do it pretty well, it’s just so unmemorable that it’s hard to even write a review for it. I do like some of the guitar work, better than someone like Madball, but still too formulaic to get excited over. Two songs (and an intro)- one faster one and one slower one.

Vader - “Necropolis” (2009)
Here is the first album with the (almost entirely) new line up (featuring only guitarist/ vocalist Peter returning from the old line up), and basically, it sounds almost the same. A bit stripped down, kind of going back to the “Black To the Blind” sound, perhaps, but definitely Vader. Pure thrashing death (not super heavy, but very thrashy), mostly fast (but without Doc’s unmistakable drums- the new guy does well, but Doc is missed). The only experimentation retained is the inclusion of some atmospheric tracks and invocations between a couple of songs (only one song, the final original track When the Sun Drowns In Dark, even has any keyboards or atmospherics at all). The version I have has 2 bonus tracks- covers of Venom’s Black Metal (good) and Metallica’s Fight Fire With Fire (ok).

Rorschach - “Needlepack” 7”ep (1991)
Side A is the standout here- after an intro, it goes into my fav Rorschach song Skin Culture. They re-did this song on their second album “Protestant”, but this version blows that one away. It flows a lot better, and is just better done. A catchy but torturous hardcore dirge with vicious angst-ridden screams for vocals. Side B is good, too (I just love the A side better), featuring 2 more songs of Rorschach’s brand of aggro-punk and offbeat hardcore. Jagged, harsh and noisy.

Youth Korps - “-’82” 7“ep (1999)
This came out in ‘99, but it’s a recording from 1982, of Youth Korp’s demo tape. It has a really good sound quality for being a demo and that old, and features blistering hardcore and thrash on these 13 songs that remind a little of Negative Approach, but without near as many breakdowns- these guys pretty much just go fast, with a couple of slower parts that are few and far between (I guess the last song is slow all the way through, and pretty damn long as well).

Wire - “It’s Beginning To and Back Again” (1989)
Wire has evolved through so many different sounds over the years, and this is their ‘80s synth album. While very poppy (sounding kind of like a combination of Depeche Mode and early U2) it still has some groundbreaking and very offbeat moments that define them for their fans. If the vocals weren’t so light and poppy, this might have been a E.B.M./ synth industrial club classic. Unfortunately, it’s just a little too on the commercial side. It can’t be dismissed entirely- they come up with a lot of good synth lines and noises. They just needed to worry a little less about success an concentrate on their art. Contains the hit Eardrum Buzz.

Flagitious Idiosyncrasy In The Dilapidation - “Flagitious Idiosyncrasy In The Dilapidation” (2008)
Another brutal, thrashing sub-grind band from Japan, this one made up of all girls. Unlike other Japanese heavy bands with female vocalists (Mind Of Asian, Conga Fury, Melt-Banana, etc.), you cannot tell this is a female vocalist. She does some brutal death grunts (as well as some more high pitched shrieks), and really that’s the only complaint I have- the vocals all sound alike in all the songs. She grunts with the same inflection and vocal pattern in most every song. People who don’t listen to brutal music usually think all the vocals sound the same in all the songs, but we know better. In this band, they do mostly all sound the same. Also, there’s not much bass- a bass player is listed, but you can’t hear her. Other than that, this is pretty good- fast thrashcore with some death metal influence.

Tombs - “Winterhours” (2009)
This album starts out a bit like Neurosis, however quickly speeds up and tears it up. Kinda like Red Harvest’s heavier output, these guys play an interesting mix of industrial, metal, and post punk. Featuring an ex-member of Anodyne, they do return to Neurosis territory (really, tho I hear a lot of people compare them to Neurosis, I’d say I hear more Godflesh in their sound. A lot of Godflesh, in fact) before it’s all over, but over all this album is much heavier and more exciting than a lot of Neurosis’ output. Most of the songs are pretty fast for this kind of stuff, and very well done. I like it a lot.

Non Compos Mentis - “Smile When You Hate (1998)
This is another of those bands that were so prolific in the late '90s that played that angsty harsh millennium core stuff, like Drowningman, Deadguy, etc. Not as technical as the mathcore stuff, but along those lines; I liked these guys better than most of those bands. Ultra-distorted down tuned but groovy metal/core with a harsh screaming vocalist that sometimes kind of talks his way through the lyrics (but mostly screams). The music is constantly churning and twisting, and the drumming is excellent. I believe they changed their name to Non Compos, then broke up. Too bad.

Khlyst - "Chaos Is My Name" (2006)
Not to be confused with the more prolific black metal band, this is the more atmospheric band that features James Plotkin (OLD, Khanate) and Runhild Gammelsæter (Thorr's Hammer). This actually sounds a bit like Khanate, but a little more ambient. Most of it is creepy atmospheric soundtrack music and soundscapes, but on some tracks an ultra distorted guitar puts in an appearance, mostly just making noise. Runhild growls and screeches over several bits of it, not really saying anything but adding to the atmosphere. A few tracks add in some drums crashing around, but most of this is non-musical noise and soundscapes, some of it done pretty well, but some kind of boring.

Sayyadina - "The Great Northern Revisited" (2010)
This is a compilation of all of Sayyadina's oldest material- the splits with Bruce Banner and No Value, the "Solace Denied" 7"ep, and several comp and unreleased tracks. I've been singing Sayyadina's praises ever since I first heard them on the "Swedish Assault" comp in 2002 (those tracks are included here), and everything they've released has been awesome. Tight as hell, stop on a dime grindcore and hardcore with a lot of originality, excellent playing, and blasting awesomeness. Includes liner notes from all 3 band members.
Tuesday, March 9th, 2010
5:37 am
Fight Amp - “Manners and Praise” (2009)
This album is kind of hard to describe. It makes me think a bit of some of those old Amphetamine Reptile bands in the early ‘90s. Mix a bit of punk, a dash of grunge, and just a smidgeon of industrial with a good dose of loud hard rock and you’ll come out with something like this. The bass guitar is at the forefront, and the vocalist yells the vocals over a hard driving rhythm. Imagine a much more punk Neurosis or Unsane. Very apocalyptic, blown out sound to these guys. I actually liked their last album a little better, but this is still good.

Brody’s Militia/ Black Market Fetus split 7”ep (2010)
Brody’s Militia (who features ex-members of Hellnation) blast out 7 tracks of their typical fastcore, fairly sloppy but with a good production and lots of passion. They even do a Sore Throat (semi) cover.
Black Market Fetus, on the other hand, do one very long song (for them- several minutes) with the best production I’ve ever heard them have. It starts off with a Sabbath-esque doomy riff, but gets to the fastcore pretty quickly. This is the best song I’ve heard them do, tho- riddled with slower doomy parts and samples, I like it a lot. Ends with a Napalm Death cover.

Necrophagia - “Black Blood Vomitorium” ep (2000)
This is a really great ep. Better than the full length that preceded it (“Holocausto De La Morte”). It’s only 3 songs and an outro, but this is some insane, chaotic, and sick death metal with hideous vocals and zero mainstream appeal. These guys and Autopsy know how to do it. The production is raw but sounds good, and the music is well played but brutal. They just get better with each release.

Krum Bums - “Same Old Story” ep (2009)
These Austin, TX boys play Oi! influenced punk and hardcore with a very snotty sounding vocalist (the music is more hardcore, but the vocalist is kind of traditional punk, along the lines of the Adicts or someone similar). They throw a lot of melody into their hardcore and write better songs than say, The Casualties who do a similar type of thing. Dead New World (the standout track on here- tho they‘re all good) is a classic. A great ep of snotty punk and hardcore.

Dishammer - “Vintage Addiction” (2008)
I get it- Discharge + Hellhammer = Dishammer! Consider me interested. Actually, they sound more like Discharge + old Bathory to me, but I guess Disory or Bathcharge didn't sound as cool. A couple of members of bands like Machetazo and Looking For An Answer try their hand at some old school punky black metal mixed with newer style d-beat, and it makes for an awesome, vicious combination. Raw, aggressive, thrashing; with raspy vocals and a metal punk crusty crunch- this is what Darkthrone has been trying to pull off recently (but not doing near as well as these guys).

Portal - “Swarth” (2009)
These Aussies play some crazy, chaotic, over-the-top hideous frenzied black metal. They make me think of Blasphemy at times, but aren't as good. I can definitely appreciate the chaos and rawness of this, but it's just a little too chaotic (never thought I'd say that)- the guitars kind of churn and meander along over drums that don't always seem to fit the music, and vocals that are raspily growled over the top of the music, but also don't always seem to fit with it. It sounds evil and heavy, but needs more focus to keep my interest throughout; the songs all kind of blend into each other and become background music. I like the overall feel, but it needs more to blow me away. Too bad- they have a very cool look. It makes you really want to like them.

Government Warning - "Paranoid Mess" (2009)
Good old fashioned hardcore, like they used to do it in the '80s. Not fastcore or power violence or any other sub-genre. This is straight up hardcore, played with a lot of heart and conviction with a varied pace (but mostly fast) with good breakdowns and heavily reverbed vocals. I listened to this several times, and it kept making me think of someone else, but I couldn't think of who. Then it came to me that they sound a bit like The Faction, but that wasn't exactly it. Finally, it came to me- they sound quite a bit like Articles Of Faith (the early stuff), but a little more hardcore (so with The Faction mixed in). The production even sounds antiquated. 80's revivalists unite!

Suicide Commando - "Die Motherfucker Die" single (2009)
This single pretty much goes along with what Suicide Commando have been doing on the past several years- hard beats electro with vicious old-style industrial vocals. I guess they're like a cross between the old style industrial and the newer style Metropolis stuff (Combichrist, etc.), closest to :Wumpscut: in sound and style. This has the song Die Motherfucker die, two remixes (which aren't that great) and a throwaway b-side. Not essential.

American Cheeseburger/ Religious As Fuck split (2009)
I've never heard American Cheeseburger before (tho I know they have some other releases out), but they play some good, vicious thrash (hardcore thrash, not metal thrash) with screamy vocals and moshy (not tough guy moshy, tho) breakdowns and excellent drumming. The pace is pretty much fast (except for the above mentioned mosh parts), and tight. Religious As Fuck are even faster (fastcore as opposed to thrash) but also very tight and have the good moshy breakdowns. Neither of these bands are doing anything exceptional, but with hardcore at this point, it's more about heart, conviction, and intensity. Both these bands have all three.

Grave Digger - "The Grave Digger" (2001)
I like the music on this- a mix between power metal and old school thrash; the vocals I don't like as much. They're pretty close to Overkill's vocals- kind of rough and gruff but still trying to pull off more heavy metal/ power metal type vocals. They also have a problem with not ending songs well- several of them seem to fade out while it seems like there's more song left. But the musicianship is put heavy metal with all the trimmings, but a little heavier (a strong thrash influence). They've been around since the mid-80s, and put out a ton of releases, but have never gotten very much notice, I suppose mainly because even tho they do what they do well, they're about as generic as you can get for this kind of music. They need to inject a bit more life and originality into it, and learn how to end a song without a fade-out! Because that gets annoying after awhile.

Melt-Banana - "Initial T." 7"ep (2009)
I guess this is to hold us over until the new album. Three tracks of the usual Melt-Banana spazzed-out hardcore with female vocals and some electronics and noise mixed in. These songs are of the faster variety of Melt-Banana's fairly eclectic sound. Very little poppy stuff on this one- just the good stuff.

Dark Fortress - "Ylem" (2010)
These guys have a strong late-90s black metal sound- along the lines of Immortal or Dark Funeral (but better- not as one dimensional). They mix in a lot of other black metal influences as well. Not so much the Dimmu Borgir/ C.O.F. symphonic stuff, but I can hear a lot of Mayhem, Satyricon, and even a little Anaal Nathrakh (and Goatwhore) creeping into their sound. They have the melodic leads and keyboard atmospherics, the blasting fast parts and groovy black metal crawl parts, pretty typical raspy black metal vocals- I have to say I like it quite a bit- they know how to play their instruments well, and throw in a lot of interesting touches and offbeat production techniques that I like a lot. If you like the black metal sound of the above bands I mentioned, you'll probably like this. Ends with a slower, more melodic track along the lines of Borknager. I believe this is their 6th album.

Anthrax (UK)- "One Last Drop/ Welcome" single (2009)
First off, this isn't the American thrash metal band, this is the British peace punk band that were actually around before the more famous Americans. They released a couple of eps and comp tracks in the early '80s, then broke up. They've recently gotten back together and recorded this single. It's not as hard as their older stuff (which wasn't really that hard to begin with- Mortarhate peace punk type stuff), with a bit of a post punk influence in it (especially on the second song, which has an almost R.E.M.-ish sound). Pretty good hooks and songwriting, but nothing too special. Mainstream music has caught up with and overtaken this sound, so it doesn't sound very fresh or exciting anymore (but it's still enjoyable).

Circle Storm - "Spirit" 7" (1996)
This band takes their name (I assume) from the D.Y.S. song, but they don't really sound anything like D.Y.S.. This is 2 songs recorded in 1988 by members of Chain Of Strength (who supposedly "borrowed" No For An Answer's (who were recording their debut) equipment unknowingly, and recorded two songs while they were out of the studio on a dinner break) but wasn't released until 1996. It does sound a little like Chain Of Strength, but a little rushed. Most straight edge hardcore bands sounded like this in 1988- the Revelation/ Youth Of Today sound. Shouted choruses, harmonics, fast music with moshy breakdowns. All good stuff; I like the second song better- it has a lot of energy and seems better put together. Pretty clichéd overall, but still good.

Oomph! - "Truth Or Dare" (2010)
I have an album these guys put out a long time ago, and it's pretty good industrial stuff. This, however, isn't that good. At best, they do some passable Rammstein/ Hanzel Und Gretyl type of metallic industrial, but it's a mixed bag, with a bit of pouty H.I.M. type of poppy goth-lite rock, a little industrial-lite stuff like Gravity Kills/ Stabbing Westward, and other unfortunate genres that border on the cool but fall short. There are cool moments, but they get ruined quickly. Too bad- I did like their old stuff. Includes t a song I have a single for (God Is a Pop Star) that came out at least 2 years ago.

Oi Polloi - "S.S. Politician" (2010)
I was very excited when I heard of a new Oi Polloi coming out- loved their '80s stuff, then and now. It's also awesome that these guys are still around (they didn't break up and get back together like a lot of old bands that are around now). They've taken some musical side paths in the years, mixing in some traditional Celtic and folk influences, but this one is a return to their Oi! and punk roots. They've always had great, progressive lyrics (very un-Oi!-esque), and this one is no different. The music, however, is a little bit of a let down. It's not bad at all, but sounds a bit tired and lackluster. They use to be pretty savage, and they've lost their edge. There's still some undeniably punk and hardcore moments, but a mainstreamed Dropkick Murphy's-esque sound creeps in here and there. It's more good than not, but isn't phenomenal, like a lot of their older stuff. Definitely not a classic, but still a decent listen.

Looking For An Answer - "La Caceria" 7"ep (2009)
These guys remain heavy as ever- they started out a little more grindy, and now they have some thrashy influences coming in (mixed with the grind), but it's all good. This release seems them channeling Repulsion to some extent (the production is different, but the music is very Repulsion-esque. They even do a cover of Driven To Insanity)- there's only one Repulsion (and even they couldn't retain the lightening in a bottle of "Horrified" on their later stuff), but it's a good sound. A nice little ep.

Nachtmahr - "Madchen In Uniform (2010)
This features 5 'real' songs and 8 remixes of them. Pretty typical stompy techno-pop type stuff with aggro vocals, kinda like Combichrist or Suicide Commando (the vocals are very close to Suicide Commando), but a little more techno influence (there's more instrumentals as well) and not as heavy. As with most of this kind of stuff, the instrumental tracks get pretty repetitive, but have good moments. The remixes are above average, not as minimalist as a lot of remixes get. Metropolis has run this sound into the ground, but this still appeals to me, so they must be good.

Built To Last - "The Letdown b/w Rise" 7" (2007)
Both of these songs sound pretty similar- very mid-period Sick Of It All influenced (mostly) mid-paced metallic hardcore. They throw in some melody on the b-side, and neither of these songs are bad, just terribly conventional and average. Gang vocals and shouted choruses, tough guy breakdowns- if you like "Just Look Around" by Sick Of It All, this is probably your thing.

A.I. - "A Hope On the Concrete" (2000)
This cd features this ep plus the "Arming Rebellion With The Sound Of Hearts" ep and some live tracks. These guys are Japanese, but sound very U.S. and U.K. hardcore influenced (particularly bands like Heresy and Intense Degree). They rage hard and thrash throughout most of this, but do slow down and add in some melody at times. They play the 2 and 3 chord style, but change up the chords more often than most bands like this. The live tracks are from several different shows and of varying degrees of sound quality (mostly bad), but the studio tracks are great.

C.R.A.S.S./ Poison Girls split 7" (1980)
Poison Girls was headed by a 45 year old feminist full of piss and vinegar, and played post punk that was bit more on the punk side (mainly because of the afore-mentioned piss and vinegar) but was still fairly characteristic of the post punk movement- bass driven and epic sounding with lots of atmosphere and some experimentation.
The C.R.A.S.S. song is pretty typical of their sound circa "Christ The Album" (my fav stuff from them) with radio samples and militaristic drum beats, quite a few tempo changes (but mostly mid-tempo punk) and really, it's C.R.A.S.S.. Not really much more to say. Not quite as good as most of the "Christ The Album" stuff, but definitely not a 'throw away' track.
Thursday, February 18th, 2010
1:53 am
Rob Zombie - “Hellbilly Deluxe 2 (2010)
I have a confession to make: I never really liked White Zombie. I really wanted to- I love the imagery, subject matter, etc., but the music was kind of boring, and I got very sick of all the “Yeah!”’s and “Hey”’s and stuff like that. Very repetitive and annoying. So it was to my surprise that I quite liked Rob Zombie’s first solo album (“Hellbilly Deluxe”). Featuring Blasko (aka Rob from Cryptic Slaughter and Drown) on bass, some pretty radical music and a great mix of industrial and metal- it was very, very good! Unfortunately, I haven’t liked much else he’s done since then. Each album has had a song or two I’ve liked, but not much else. This one is no exception. I do like it better than the last one (“Uneducated Horses”), but still not that much. Blasko has been replaced with Piggy D (who I actually used to know- he was in a local band here in Houston called The She-Demons), and John 5 (Marilyn Manson, David Lee Roth, Rob Halford’s awful Two project, tons more) now on guitar (and cameo strings by his Halloween movies score composer Tyler Bates), I still like the subject matter (he even has a song where he Papa oom mow mow’s, haha) and samples, but I don’t like the southern rock and classic rock influence very much at all. It’s toned down a bit from the last album, but I want a return to the industrial metal of his first one. It starts off good with Jesus Frankenstein, but never gets that good again (tho Virgin Witch and a couple of others are decent). The whole thing ends with a long drum solo, which is pretty interesting. This is a step back in a direction I like, but not quite there yet...

Bad Religion - “No Control” (1989)
This is a classic punk album that I couldn’t get into when I first heard it. The songs all sounded very similar, and I liked my punk with a harder edge. For some reason only Big Bang appealed to me back then. I like it a lot better now- it’s very well put together melodic punk. Unfortunately so many bands have aped the sound that it doesn’t really sound fresh or original in the least anymore; but most of them have taken this sound and over-produced it. Turned it into something without any bite at all. This at least can still be called punk; melodic and tuneful but still fast and well played. I like it pretty good now (tho still don‘t consider it the bonafide classic a lot do). Much better than what these guys put out later in their career.

Through The Eyes Of The Dead - “Skepsis” (2010)
This is fairly average death metal, however there are parts here and there that stick out a bit from the crowd- an interesting sounding progression here, an offbeat influence there, some good leads that you don’t hear that much in death metal. It’s definitely not bad- just terribly derivative, with the awful sounding triggered drums and Pro-Tools production. Two types of vocals duel throughout- one Vader-esque roar and a sick raspy growler. I have to say I like more than I dislike, I just wish it was a little more inspired and original.

Shadow - “Shadow” (2001)
The Gothenburg sound has finally hit Japan (or at least has finally been imported), and what do ya know- it seems a bit better than most of the other Gothenburg sound clones out there. Dark Tranquility/ Arch Enemy/ early In Flames is the starting point, featuring all the melody and groovy death jams that those guys throw out but without as much in the overly technical or weaker parts (and more fast stuff). Really there’s not too much more to say- if you know the sound you know what they sound like. I always want this stuff to be a little dirtier- a little grungier and more crusty. But I like this album. Maybe it’s just because I haven’t heard mush of this sound in awhile, but it appeals to me more than it used to.

Pierced Arrows - “Descending Shadows” (2010)
I was interested to hear this band, but also apprehensive- I’ve heard so much about them from cool sources, but also tons from pretentious hipster sources, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. As the first song played, I thought “I don’t much like this, but something about it is kind of interesting. It could get good”. Then I liked the second song pretty good. After that, it kind of goes down hill. There’s good moments, but mostly this is not too good. Kinda noodly, countrified indie twaddle. I like the production on it, and every time I was about ready to turn it off, something interesting caught my attention and I kept listening. A mix of indie (Death From Above 1979), punk (a little Black Flag), garage (maybe some Nirvana mixed with The White Stripes) and some country; I can see why it’s so popular. The vocalist has that unique and kind of ‘goofy and annoying but he’ll grow on you’ kind of voice (like a cross between a punky sarcastic voice and Mark Smith of The Fall). I think some of these guys were in Dead Moon.

Bongzilla - “Stash” (1999)
The cult of Marijuana has brought us some terrible music; luckily Bongzilla is not among those. Raw and pissed sounding, they play that crusty doom sound that’s been labeled ‘sludge’ in the past several years. Hideous vocals over ultra distorted Sabbathy riffs- EyeHateGod is a good starting point, but without the punky stuff. Lots of songs and samples about dope. Sometimes it gets a little tedious and repetitive, and I can’t listen to the whole thing in one setting (tho I can definitely imagine someone who is high really getting into it and doing that). But it’s still a pretty decent cd to throw on for a bit every once in awhile. Includes a Black Sabbath cover.

For The Fallen Dreams - “Relentless” (2009)
I have trouble distinguishing a lot of these Pro-Tools breakdown bands from each other. I don’t know why- people say they can’t tell one generic hardcore or death metal band from another, but I have no problem with that. But these guys all seem so stuck on the exact same formula- the chugging guitar, the breakdowns, the distorted vocals that all seem very similar (with death metal you get all kinds of different growling styles, but these bands all seem to growl with the same sound, even have the same inflection to their growling), and these guys are one of the ones that have to include the awful screamo whiney vocals in their sound. Yeah, not good. If you like this stuff, these guys will probably float your boat (tho I imagine even those who love this stuff will find this band kind of boring- they really bring nothing new or interesting to the table except some power metal inspired leads that I haven‘t heard used in this kind of music much). They’ll probably fade into obscurity or jump on whatever new trend comes along next, so it probably doesn’t matter much anyway.

Fishtank [No. 9] - “Itself” (1998)
This starts off like it’s going to be one of those industrial-lite bands that were so prevelant in the late ‘90s (Gravity Kills, Sister Machine Gun, etc.), but gets better as it goes on. The vocals are still along the lines of that stuff, but the music is better- more electronic and industrial (as opposed to pretty much an alternative rock band with some industrial touches), and have some gothic influence that comes in near the end as well. They have some good melodies and interesting passages- I’d like to have heard them get a little more radical in places, and in particular have better, less vanilla vocals; but this is still decent. Not a standout by any means, but competently composed and done well enough to hold my interest.

Corrosion Of Conformity - “Animosity” (1985)
Those who know me know that when it comes to C.O.C., I swear by “Eye For An Eye”. That’s one of my fav albums of all time, and nothing they’ve done since can hold a candle to it (and most of their stuff I don’t care for much at all). However this album is decent as well. Mike Dean’s vocals take some getting used to (especially on Positive Outlook, one of my fav songs from “Eye For An Eye”, redone here), but fit with the more metally songs. I like side a (songs 1 - 5) better- they were recorded earlier and at a different studio, and are a little more hardcore. This album is firmly entrenched in the crossover scene, but doesn’t really sound like other crossover bands- C.O.C. were always more original than other bands in their fields. The raw production compliments the raw guitar and rawer vocals, and sounds more offbeat and vicious than most thrash and crossover that came out at the time. And Mike Dean’s bass is still awesome. A classic (tho still not as good as their debut).

Babylon Whores - "King Fear" (1999)
This album kind of bridges the gap between Danzig and Black Sabbath. It starts off with three awesome songs- if the whole album was as killer as these first 3 tracks (esp the second one Radio Werewolf), it would be one of my top 5 most albums of all time. They are upbeat driving gothic-tinged metal, like if you crossed Fields Of the Nephelim with Motorhead. Unfortunately, after the third track it never captures that awesomeness again. The rest of the album is fairly average goth-tinged rock and metal that (mostly) brings to mind the aforementioned Sabbath, with one track (Sol Niger) sounding very Type O Negative-esque. But really, the first 3 tracks make the whole thing worth it.

Barnburner - "Bangers" (2010)
OK, if you name your band Barnburner and your album "Bangers", I expect a little more driving and banging music. As it is, this is decent hard rock and metal, along the lines of Dianno- era Maiden and older Judas Priest, but I was expecting some d-beat or at least Motorhead type stuff. They play their instruments quite well, and throw down some rockin' heavy metal in places. If this were 1982, you might be amazed at how awesome they are. As it is, in 2010, you have to step it up a bit more, and this is kind of weak. But if you were looking for some very retro-rockin metal, look no further. These guys have it down.

Ozzy Osbourne - "Black Rain" (2007)
I thought since I mentioned Blasko in my above Rob Zombie review, I would revisit the album that he left Zombie to record- this one. And I have to say this is one of Ozzie's best. Some of the songs even have that industrial metal stomp of Rob Zombie's debut. But mostly it's typical Ozzie, but a little heavier, a little darker, and yeah a little more industrial. If you've heard Blasko's band Drown, you'll know what I mean. This sounds like Ozzie crossed with Drown. The ballad (Ozzy has one or two on every album- this one has a couple more) Lay Your World On Me started out, I thought it was going to be a cover of Gary Numan's Down In the Park. The Almighty Dollar starts out heavy, then kicks into a funky bass line. I haven't really liked much of what Ozzie's done since "No More Tears" (really, I'm not that big of a fan), but this one's pretty good. Heavy guitar and bass, pretty inspired music (not the same old bland stuff he's been doing the past 15 years or so), some interesting touches that make it stand out from the rest. Don't worry traditional Ozzie fans- near the end it starts getting back to more typical Ozzie. Overall I'd say this is a good hard rock album.
Wednesday, February 10th, 2010
1:26 am
Ideamen - “May You Live In Interesting Times” (2009)
I don’t like this very much. New era cabaret music mixed with pop music, closest comparisons I could make would be Dog Fashion Disco or Dresden Dolls (but with male vocals). Quirky and offbeat, but not good. It has parts I like, but overall it just doesn’t appeal to me, interesting as it is at times. I really don’t like the vocals much either- they make me think a little of Mike Patton in the Faith No More days, but someone else as well. They also seem like they’re trying to hard to be funny/ quirky- if it doesn’t just happen, it’s not as good.

Deep Sleep - “Paranoid Futures” 7”ep (2009)
Straight to the point hardcore and punk, a little like the early Black Flag singles. They write some good songs with catchy hooks that don’t outlive their punkness. I like the little flourishes they throw into the songs- yeah, they’re short ass punk songs, but show a lot of excellent musicianship, changes, and nice touches. This is their 3rd ep.

Saviours - “Accelerated Living” (2009)
These guys used to play doom, but (as with a lot of bands lately) have amped it up a bit, and went thrash. They make me think a bit of excel now, but a little more thrash metal in the sound, not as much crossover. Pretty driving songs, with lots of double bass and crunchy rhythms- very old school sounding progressions (with lots of guitar harmonies- very excellent guitar work in the classic jamming but not showing off sense) on here. I don’t know if getting a new member (the guitarist from Watch Them Die) had anything to do with the style change, but they sound born to play this stuff. I would have liked it better with harsher vocals (maybe that‘s the thing that makes me think a lot of Excel- the vocals), but this is still good.

Dark Funeral - “Angelus Exuro Pro Eternus” (2010)
Dark Funeral usually has a song or two I really like on each album (on this one it’s Declaration of hate) but overall I find them generally pretty boring. Mostly very fast overproduced black metal without much personality or anything to make it interesting at all. They do a couple of slower songs, but it’s 85% super fast blasting with very little bass or deviation from their formula, so all the songs kind of sound alike and run together. They definitely need some original touches to make them stand out a bit- they don’t have to get less extreme, just do something to spice it up a little. It actually doesn’t sound as bad in small doses- they should put out more eps. Less time to lose your interest.

Dee Dee Ramone/ Terrorgruppe split 10”ep (2002)
Dee Dee was of course and original member of the Ramones and their bass player, who wrote a large amount of their music (even after he left the band). His solo stuff was always a bit b-grade, tho, partially because of the production and partially because it needed a bit if polishing (a good producer would have made his stuff awesome). Still this split features one of his best songs (Horror Hospital) and then a average one.
Terrorgruppe play pop punk/ punk rock that’s a cut above. I don’t care much for most pop punk, but these guys are in the small percentage that I actually like (maybe because they are as much punk as pop). They do an awesome tribute to Dee Dee (who died in 2002) on here with the catchy 3 chord song Dee Dee (in which they recycle the breakdown in We’re a Happy Family for cool effect), plus a live song that’s ok but unremarkable.

Claire Voyant - “Lustre” (2009)
This is a very mellow album- very Cocteau Twins, mixed with a little bit of The Birthday Massacre. Soft, ethereal electronics with a smooth female voice make dreamy pop music. Not really my thing- maybe if it was darker (or weirder- a little more avant garde or offbeat), but it's not (the Cocteau Twins, who this sounds closest to, were a lot darker than Claire Voyant). It picks up a little towards the halfway mark (and the songs are a bit better too), but still is pretty unexciting.

Goreaphobia - “Mortal Repulsion” (2009)
These guys used to play pure blasting death metal, along the lines of old Suffocation and Immolation. They put out two classic 7”eps in the early ‘90s and then broke up. Members went on to join and/ or form several black metal bands (such as Blood Storm, Incantation, and Absu). Now they’re back together, and playing a much more black metal sounding style than the death metal they used to do. It still has a strong death metal influence, but this is definitely black metal- the dark, infernal progressions and hideous vocals are just the beginning. Kind of like a more death metal version of Marduk or old Dark Funeral, they probably should have changed their name if they were going to sound nothing like their old band, but I guess that’s their prerogative. Either way, it’s still really good.

Blood Red Throne - “Souls of Damnation” (2009)
This is the band formed by Tchort (from Emperor), however they sound nothing like Emperor. This is their 5th album. The last album I had from them was their first one, which was pretty decent death metal but nothing too special. This one is a lot better- still (mostly) fast death metal, but with much more interesting song structures and some awesome bass guitar playing that really stands out. Not many death metal bands display the bass up front like this, and it makes this album sound sick and original. The production is a little too clean and sterile, which robs the drums of some of their power, but other than that I don’t have any complaints. They have the twin vocal style- one gutteral and one more high pitched and shrieky. I like when they both sing at the same time.

Human Disorder - "Ugly Modern Aggression" (1999)
Well, I found this in the dollar bin at a record store, and you get what you pay for. This takes me back to a time when every other band played nu metal- there were hundreds of them. And for every huge one, there were tons of Primer 55's, Crossbreed's, Dope's, Slaves On Dope's, etc etc. These guys fall right in there- they throw in a big Pantera influence as well. But it can't save them Thankfully this sound is dead, and hopefully there won't be a resurgence soon.

Shining - "Blackjazz" (2010)
Don't get these guys confused with the black metal Shining (who starts all their album titles out with Roman numerals), these guys do mix some black metal into their sound, but it's a small percentage of the wide variety of influences they have on display. This is pretty interesting, avant garde stuff that mixes industrial, progressive, doom, noise and yeah, some jazz in with the black metal. Sometimes it gets to be a bit much, but overall it works and I like it. Features guest vocals from Grutle of Enslaved on a couple of tracks (including a cover of 21st Century Schizoid Man). The vocals range from whispers to croaks, and there's some Zorn-esque sax screeching in the background of several songs. Extreme metal just keeps expanding.
Wednesday, January 27th, 2010
12:20 am
OK, I'm going to review three bands who've come out with recent releases who used to be quite big in the UK hardcore scene (or at least their members did) and everywhere else- Geriatric Unit (which has 3 ex-members of Heresy), Violent Arrest (ex-members of Ripcord), and Discharge (you shouldn't need to ask):

Violent Arrest - “Criminal Record” double 7”ep (2008)
These guys must love the 7" format since they released Criminal Record as a double EP, instead of a 12" or something. Anyway, this is Violent Arrest's third release; the others being another 7" and a 12" EP. Violent Arrest has a pretty awesome history. It's three guys from Ripcord (one was in Heresy as well). They pretty much sound like Heresy with Ripcord's singer, which is excellent.
This is the kind of hardcore I love. Going all the way back to D.R.I.'s 1981 Dirty Rotten EP/LP to now, no one has really improved on the sound, but there have been no shortage of bands who love to belt out this kind of honest, fast thrashin' punk and hardcore. Violent Arrest have been doing this for a long time and it shows, with a tightness to the playing that a lot of hardcore bands don't have. Good stuff indeed.

Geriatric Unit - “Permethrin Blues” (2009)
Good old fashioned hardcore, not too far off from Heresy. Short and fast, tho sub-grind and fastcore speeds. I believe this is their third album (I actually like their last one “Nuclear Accidents” a little better), and the production is a little weak- the drums and guitar sound suffer a bit, but this is still a good album. The music shines through. You can tell they’ve been playing together a long time- the songs are tight and tho simple, very well put together. Great song title- The Idiots Think I’m An Idiot (one of the better tracks as well).

Discharge - “The Beginning of the End” ep (2006)
Discharge are back! Featuring all original members except Cal (vocals, who is replaced by Rat from The Varukers on here), these 3 songs are pretty damn good. A little of the mid period metally years is still present on here, but it’s mostly old school Discharge (tho a little slower). Blood of the Innocent is the standout, with it’s ripping Motorhead-esque guitar sound and d-beat going strong. Cal’s vocals are missed, tho Rat does a good job, it takes away from the classic Discharge sound without Cal. Still, things change and this is a good ep.

Discharge - “Desinsitise” (2009)
Here is the first full length with Rat on vocals, and it’s a bit of a disappointment. You’ll recall I really liked the “Beginning of the End” ep, and all 3 of those songs have been re-recorded for this album. The main problem with it is the production- it sucks all the power out of the guitars (the drums sound crappy too), and makes the songs sound a little weak. The production on the ep was a lot better. The songs on here are all pretty good, tho perhaps not as inspired as one would hope. This is a legendary band, and I wish they would have hit it out of the park instead of putting out a good but fairly unremarkable album. But maybe they’re just getting warmed up, and the next album will be great. I hope...
Tuesday, January 26th, 2010
1:39 am
Sarcolytic - “Thee Arcane Progeny” (2010)
This is out on UniqueLeader, so you know what to expect. Fairly generic but fast death metal, this time a little along the lines of Deicide in both song structures and vocals, but with faster Napalm Death-esque (mid period, not grind) parts as well. It never really steps up and gets totally interesting, but there are cool parts throughout. It ends with a longer track that sounds kinda like Immolation. Not essential.

Six Feet Under - “Graveyard Classics III” (2010)
This is not good. That’s no surprise, since “Graveyard Classics” I and (especially) II weren’t either. It’s mainly the vocals- they just don’t sound right on most of these songs. The music is (generally) done pretty well (the guitar solos on At Dawn They Sleep are very well done, but other than that the song is quite lifeless, unlike the original), but mostly just doesn’t capture the spirit of the originals. I guess the best ones on here are The Frayed Ends of Sanity (Metallica), and Psychotherapy (Ramones of course) came off better than I thought it would . Making songs heavier is cool, but sucking the passion and flow from them isn’t, and that’s what has mostly been done here.

Integrity/ Fear Tomorrow split ep (1999)
Integrity temporarily rechristened themselves Integrity 2000 in late 1999, and called themselves Integ2000 on this release. They still sound pretty much the same on these 2 songs- metalcore that is much more hardcore than metal (for once) with Dwid’s strained vocals and interesting musical textures. These guys take the early metalcore template and do something good with it.
Short lived Connecticut band Fear Tomorrow are more typical metallic hardcore (not metalcore) who write pretty decent but unexceptional faster songs with blown out yelled vocals. They contribute 3 songs.

Vverevvolf Grehv - “Zombie Aesthetics (2008)
Side project of Faint keyboardist Dapose, Vverevvolf Grehv is a mix of electronic noise and electro-grind, but without the heavy guitar. There is guitar, but it’s pretty low in the mix and not very heavy (not near as heavy as most bands like this). Other samples, noises, breakbeats, and glitchy electronics take the foreground, and his growly vocals are fairly sparse. It does manage to stay interesting throughout (minus a few tedious/ boring segments), which is more than I can say for a lot of these types of bands/ projects.

Tyrant - “Legions of the Dead” (1985)
These guys (and Trouble) were the first Christian metal bands I had ever heard. They aren't quite as overt about it as Trouble (they write about other things as well), but it's there to some extent. They play heavy metal that's a little heavier than regular metal (Priest, Maiden) but not quite as heavy as thrash. There were a lot of bands like this in the '80s. Very talented musicians, very falsetto vocals (tho not King Diamond level). The vocalists throws in those high screams all through most of the songs, so it becomes almost like another instrument. This stuff is pretty cheesy, of course, but fun.

Suffocation - "The Close of a Chapter- Live In Quebec City" (2009)
I generally don't like live albums much. Usually the studio versions are better, and you can't really capture the excitement of being there on a cd. Some sound better than others, of course, and this one sounds pretty good. The live recording doesn't remove all the heaviness like it does on a lot of live albums. They play several songs off "Effigy of the Forgotten", which is good (my fav stuff from them), and the "Breeding the Spawn" stuff actually sounds a little better than it did on the album. Not essential, but if you like Suffocation and already have all their albums (or really like live stuff for some reason) this one sounds really good.

Alien Sex Fiend - “Another Planet” (1988)
Alien Sex Fiend have never been one of my most fav gothy/ death rock type bands. Too much screwing around, (usually) kinda weak productions, and just not very well put together songs. A lot of bands can pull off the goofy/ playing around stuff and it adds to the atmosphere, but with these guys it seems to just get annoying. having said that, they usually have at least a couple of good songs on every album. If you haven’t heard them, they’re kinda like if the B-52’s went death rock. Electronic music with goofy space/ horror themes and kinda punky vocals. They’re a lot more electronic (not in a harsh way, but more new wave-y) than most death rock bands, and most of their music doesn’t have much bite. The first real song on here (Everybody’s Dream) is a bit harder, almost a Skinny Puppy level of harshness. There are a couple of other decent songs (such as Sample My Sausage and Nightmare Zone), but not a lot to recommend it to anyone but their fans.

Lariat/ At War With Shadows split ep (2007)
Lariat start this out with 4 songs of desolate metallic hardcore. A little like those millenniumcore bands that were so prevalent around 2000 (Drowningman, Deadguy, etc), but not quite as busy and meandering- more straightforward hardcore.
At War With Shadows are a little heavier, a little more metal (but not near as fast). They’re also more like the above-mentioned millenniumcore bands (but don’t have the weaker vocal parts a lot of those bands insisted on throwing in).
I like both these bands, but neither of them are exceptional. I believe they’re both broken up now.

Trunkmuscle - “Prayer of the Desolate (1999)
These guys make me think of a cross between Scissor Fight and Pantera. They’re about as heavy as Pantera, and sound quite a bit like them, but have that Scissor Fight kinda quirky heaviness as well. Pretty much mid-paced and crunchy, the production is a bit weak and they would be boring if not for a few little original touches (the aforementioned Scissor Fight sound). If you like music like Pantera you could do worse, tho.
Friday, January 22nd, 2010
1:03 am
Graves Of Valor - “Salarian Gate” (2009)
I believe this band features members of Through The Eyes Of The Dead. They play mostly fast death metal with those kind of distorted screamed vocals that a lot of bands do now (kinda like Bleeding Through’s heavier vocals) . The playing is decent and the songs are put together pretty well and it’s fairly heavy, but it’s just not that interesting. Pretty generic and uninspired, and they just don’t take it to the next level. There’s cool parts that I like, but the bottom line is, overall it just doesn’t stand out at all.

Clan Of Xymox - “In Love We Trust” (2009)
These guys started out in the mid-80’s as a 4AD more ethereal gothy band, but have transformed into more of a gothic rock band in the 90‘s, and finally into their current incarnation playing gothy synthpop. They changed their name to Xymox in the late 80’s and played more electronic music, but then went back to Clan Of Xymox in the 90’s. This album is a little better than their last one I heard (“Farewell“, which seemed a bit uninspired) and sounds more like their 1999 album (“Creatures“) which I liked a lot. Goth-drenched dark synthpop with distinctive rich vocals (where most of the goth feel comes from), they sound better when they’re doing the more upbeat danceable songs- when they try to slow it down it doesn’t work as well. Luckily they don’t do that often.

Abscess/ Population Reduction split (2009)
Abscess throw down 8 songs of their unique brand of death metal punk (this release is more punky than most of theirs), featuring ex-members of Autopsy you know it’s gotta be good. If you haven’t heard Abscess, they sound a little like the later Autopsy stuff, but are pretty varied in their sound. One thing that’s always consistent are the sick vocals and kind of weird, offbeat progressions that I think comes from too much pot smoking.
Population Reduction are more of a goofy grindy band with multiple vocal types and funny lyrics. I liked their full length (“Each Birth a New Disaster”) a lot better than this material. This stuff seems like leftover material. Get it for the Abscess stuff.

Gut Bucket - “Gay Zombies” (2009)
This is one of my fav newer death metal bands. Extremely gutteral vocals, tuned down sludgy guitar sound but fast ass music with good breakdowns and mosh parts (a strong hardcore/ punk influence with them). The songs are mostly pretty short, and the lyrics are pretty damn funny. This doesn’t sound like most anyone else around now. It’s very bass driven (which I like a lot), with some great progressions. but I like their last album (“Reign In Mud”) a little better. This is still great, tho- if you like death metal, these guys and Stromcrow are probably my two favorite newer bands in that genre.

Double Negative - “The Wonderful and Frightening World of Double Negative” 12”ep (2007)
These guys sound kind of like a cross between the first Die Kreuzen and Corrosion Of Conformity’s early Mike Dean stuff (such as on the “Six Songs With Mike Singing” ep). Fairly fast and frenzied hardcore with a slight metal influence and nasally snotty vocals. It doesn’t really sound that special when I describe it, but they take it to the next level and throw a lot into it, so it’s above average. Looking forward to hearing more from them.

Goatwhore - “Carving Out the Eyes of God” (2009)
Goatwhore do it again- another excellent album. Imagine if you crossed Celtic Frost's "Morbid Tales" (one of my most favorite albums of all time) with EyeHateGod- you'd get something along the lines of this, their 4th album. Big stomping marches mix with almost grindy fast parts and heavy sludge slow parts, this has everything you could want. Every once in awhile they slip into a Frost/ Hellhammer-esque groove that I just love. Produced by Erik Rutan, who's production never stood out much to me, this one has the perfect sound for this band. Kinda dark and sludgy but still clear, this is one of the best metal albums of the year.

Nurse With Wound - "Huffin' Rag Blues" (2009)
Every NWW album is different, but they're usually all pretty interesting. I guess their most consistent 'sound' is the noise collage. This album seems like more of a departure than usual, and the most 'musical' I guess, featuring female vocals and jazzy songs- real songs with lyrics, and almost no soundscapes or noise collages. A smoky, laid back loungy jazzy feel permeates throughout, and even the more odd songs have that feel. This is probably my least favorite NWW album so far (tho I haven't heard even half of their prolific output). It's still interesting, tho. No departure there.

The Cruxshadows - "Quicksilver" single (2010)
I've seen adds for this (full page no less) in such diverse publications as Fangoria and Terrorizer. They're really pushing. Unfortunately, it's not that good. I've liked a lot of The Cruxshadows past releases, but this seems a bit tired. They have their sound down, and now they're not really trying, and it shows. This single has three remixes and two b-sides, and only one b-side (Avalanche) is very good. The title track is definitely their signature brand of upbeat techno synthpop with a hint if goth (mainly in the vocals), but it doesn't stand out at all, and you won't remember it five minutes after having heard it. That's too bad- I hope their album is netter (which I'm sure it will be- these guys usually do a good job).

Coffins/ The Arm And Sword Of A Bastard God split (2007)
I've heard Coffins before, and they sound the same on here as on past releases- sludgy death doom, gutteral as hell. This doesn't mean that they're always slow- tho it is mostly dirgy, they throw in some fast parts as well. These guys are always good, and do a Pungent Stench cover on this.
The Arm And Sword Of A Bastard God are even doomier (tho not heavier), not quite as much of a straight death metal influence as Coffins- more straight death/ doom. Unlike Coffins, they keep it slow and creepy-crawling throughout- still good stuff, but I like Coffins a little better (tho these guys final track Shit Life is quite good).

Freya - "All Hail the End" (2010)
I believe I've mentioned how tedious and boring metalcore has become many times before, and I still feel the same way. Having said that, this album is better than most. I don't know why, but it appealed to me more. They still play the same generic, mid-paced crunchy metal(85%)core(15%) that most of these bands do, but they write better songs. Every once in awhile while I was playing this cd it faded out of being background music I had a hard time paying attention to (like most metalcore) to me thinking "That's a pretty cool part". I remember liking the last album I had by these guys ("As the Last Light Drains") better. Fronted by the same vocalist as Earth Crisis.
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