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Elements DEC "Hesitation is the Enemy" demo

Posted on Thursday, June 30th, 2005 @ 7:45am » permalink

Elements DEC - Hesitation is the EnemyTime is scarce, as always, so I'll keep this one quick since I just posted about these cats a little over a week ago. Here's the second and final demo from the painfully underappreciated Elements DEC: 1998's "Hesitation is the Enemy". To me, the sound is basically a tighter take on what they were doing in 1996 – there's still plenty of heaviness, tons of melody, tastefully hip-hop influenced vocal arrangements, intelligent lyrical content, etc. So yeah, it still sounds like a more modern version of the almighty Burn in my opinion. The recording's even stronger this time out, though. You can't lose, baby. Certain members of the band aren't wild on the last track, "Any Questions?", but fuck that: Even if the chorus does push it a little bit, that main riff that kicks shit off is fuckin' outstanding! I hope you all enjoy this, since their first demo's already clocked a damn lot of downloads…

1. "Braille"
2. "And Then There Were None"
3. "Hesitation is the Enemy"
4. "Transmissions"
5. "Any Questions?"

As mentioned last time around, several of these guys ended up in Agents of Man a couple of years after the fold of Elements DEC (only one of 'em still resides in the band, though), while a few of the others also cranked out a solid EP with the unfortunately short-lived Galaxy Down. For a brief period of time in recent years there was some talk of an Elements DEC reunion of sorts, but sadly things didn't pan out. Whatever the case, these demos really deserve to be heard, so spread this shit around and drop some knowledge on the uninformed!

Whiskey Rebels "Create or Die" CD

Posted on Monday, June 27th, 2005 @ 3:07am » permalink

Whiskey Rebels - Create or DieThis is the first time since the inception of this blog that I've actually chosen to post something current, which I plan to do from time to time, but the reason I chose this disc is because I don't cover much punk rock stuff, so I figure that no matter how much I gush over a punk record, a lot of people still might not check it out unless they can actually hear for themselves how incredible it is. Hence this post.

I think "Create or Die" was released back in late-2004 on GMM Records (which may or may not exist anymore, I'm not entirely sure), but I just got it a few months back thanks to some anonymous kind soul who sent it to my P.O. Box for review. I'm damn glad they did too, because the fuckin' thing's still in my regular rotation, which is a very rare occurrence after a month's time has passed. But anyway, the Whiskey Rebels are from Sacramento, CA and play a diverse brand of catchy, rocked out punk with lots of melody and a healthy dose of good ol' aggression. Read my review of the disc for a much more in-depth account of my fawning all over their material, and check out their website for more information. The songwriting on this CD is absolutely impeccable, just listen for yourself. I'm telling you, that title track is pure gold: One of those rare gems that really strikes a chord and incites a lot of feeling. It blows me away every time, quite beyond words, really.

Whiskey Rebels "Create or Die"
Whiskey Rebels "To Be Poor is a Crime"

I said in my review that, "If Rancid can sell a million god damn records I see no reason why these cats couldn't do it with songs like these," and I mean every fucking word of it. So if you like this shit (And how could you not?), buy it, assholes:

@ Interpunk
@ RevHQ
@ Very Distribution

On a side note, I'm glad to see someone bought that used copy of the Blood Runs Black disc off of Amazon. Good call! I've also had an unusual number of people suddenly request to see some Deadguy posted here, so I'll probably throw something from their full-length up in the next month or so, I just haven't felt like it yet. I was never a huge Deadguy fan, but their level of appreciation definitely dropped off more than it should have after their demise, so… maybe people do need a reminder on that.

And does anyone out there have a copy (in mp3 form or a tape that they could dub me) of E.Town Concrete's first demo, "Just Move It"? I've been trying to get my hands on that fucker for like seven years now, but no dice. Someone help me out, please!

Blood Runs Black "Cast Into Eternity Within Duration of a Moment" CD

Posted on Thursday, June 23rd, 2005 @ 6:13am » permalink

Blood Runs Black - Cast Into Eternity Within Duration of a MomentI don't know how many people remember Blood Runs Black, but this EP holds up pretty damn well for my money, due in no small part to monumental opener "Introduction to New Blood" – which is actually one of the better tracks of its kind from the time period of the mid-90's. I'm talkin' absolutely vicious, scathing, churning metalcore: Total mosh, but not in a groovy breakdown kind of way, it's much darker – more of an "I'll crush your miserable life into ruins" kind of thing. Nothing but sick, dissonant chord progressions and dense palm-muting all over the place. Menacing stuff.

The band hailed from Syracuse, NY and I believe this was their only official release (they also did a demo – if anyone has it, hit me up). This CD, "Cast Into Eternity Within Duration of a Moment", released on Harvest Records in 1995, is hard as fuck to find now. I had it when I was a kid, but for some idiotic reason sold it when I was in college. A few years ago I paid $100+ for a big ass lot of CD's on eBay just to get this one back, and when I popped that sucker in? Whew, I can't believe how foolish I was to let this one go the first time around! You can still find it used, but you've gotta pay for it (there's one for $15 on Amazon.com right now, which ain't half bad, though).

Dan Johnson (vocals) and Brian Azzoto (guitar) later went on to form the somewhat comparable Godbelow, and Azzoto was also in Brand New Sin for a period of time afterwards. Now, Johnson's doing time in Unholy with ex-members of Santa Sangre, The Promise, and Another Victim, among others. It's pretty good shit, too. Sort of Exhorder-ish… and who could complain about that!?

Blood Runs Black "Introduction to New Blood"
Blood Runs Black "No Return"

Dig it? Then act now, while you still can:

@ Amazon.com

Elements DEC "Win or Lose" demo

Posted on Monday, June 20th, 2005 @ 6:21am » permalink

Elements DEC - Win or LoseIf anyone reading this has ever heard of Elements DEC before (not including those who read my posthumous feature on the band four years ago on the old version of my site), pat yourself on the back, because if I had to pick five bands that are almost entirely unknown for no good reason whatsoever, these guys would be one of 'em. The band broke up in the late-90's, but I didn't even find out about 'em until 2001 because several of their former members were in Agents of Man at the time, and I was flipping out over Agents of Man (whose absolutely amazing new record is out now, so everyone should check that shit out), so I had to find out more about this mysteriously faceless group. Thankfully, I became acquainted with the band's vocalist, Larry Cooney, who was kind enough to send me both of the Elements DEC demos as mp3's, which was all the more awesomely appreciated when I was immediately floored by how incredible the material was.

Formed in New Jersey during the early- to mid-90's, the members of Elements DEC (which stands for Dead End Concept, or the Dead End Cruks crew) were childhood friends who had previously thrown down in local hardcore bands like Out of Hand, Colorblind, and of course most notably, Lifetime. Their music demonstrated the perfect blend between metallic hardcore heaviness and creatively atypical melodic sensibilities, with lightly hip-hop infused vocals dropping insightful lyrics that blended personal reflection with commentary on social ills. The only band I could even remotely compare them to would be a more modern take on Burn – and Burn's first EP is the best thing that Revelation Records has ever touched, so that's no small compliment from me!

This is the debut Elements DEC demo, "Win or Lose", from 1996. It's a little raw, for instance there are some noticeable tuning issues between the two guitars, but nothing too problematic – the recording is actually pretty damn good for its age and circumstances. And the writing is so damn creative, with the hip-hop influences that are going on with the vocal arrangements as tactful as they come. I sincerely believe that this band was way the fuck ahead of their time, and these four tracks will hopefully speak for themselves:

1. "The Game Ain't the Same"
2. "Fugue"
3. "Dust"
4. "Win or Lose"

That Elements DEC never moved on to bigger and better things is absolutely insane to me, and I cannot even begin to put into words the frustrated perplexity it creates within me to know that not only did the band go nowhere, but the mere nine incredible songs that they recorded probably barely made it out of their home state. I mean, you'll never find an original copy of this demo. Period. I bet the band members don't even have original copies!

Hopefully a good number of you will appreciate these songs even half as much as I do. If I had the money I'd pay to work with the band to press this shit up legit based on principle alone, I wouldn't give a fuck if people would be too stupid to buy the damn thing. I'll post their second and final demo in a couple of weeks, as well. Let me know your thoughts on this stuff in the meantime… I really fuckin' love this shit. By far one of the greatest lost treasures I've come across in all my years of searching out new music.

Dawn "Slaughtersun (Crown of the Triarchy)" CD

Posted on Thursday, June 16th, 2005 @ 7:51pm » permalink

Dawn - Slaughtersun (Crown of the Triarchy)I just realized that I haven't posted any black metal yet, and this one should be brief, which works well since I'm flat out of time these days. Anyway, I don't listen to a great deal of black metal, but Dawn (Sweden) has been one of my favorites from the moment I laid ears on this particular track seven long years ago. Taken from their second full-length, "Slaughtersun (Crown of the Triarchy)", released in 1998 on Necropolis Records, this song represents the absolute best black metal of its kind. That is to say that while it doesn't cater to the cold, raw aesthetic of the genre's roots (which I also appreciate), this is nothing short of a calculating and venomous attack of sheer fury: Shitloads of speed, just the right amount of melody, efficient repetition, and plenty of tortured emotion – not to mention excellent lyrics and a crisp recording. It's not pompous, nor is it hokey, and the scarce keyboards employed are actually rather stellar, in my opinion. Simply stated: This is a brilliant composition.

The track runs nine minutes, so the file's pretty damn big, but for the uninitiated it's worth every second of it:

Dawn "The Knell and the World"

The band has apparently been working on a new record forever at this point, but I don't know what's up with that since they haven't updated their website since late-2004. I'm not holding my breath, but I damn sure hope a third full-length affair manifests itself at some point in the future, because these guys really hit home with me. Just check out this snippet of the fuckin' lyrics, too. Hateful, yet poignant. Go figure.

Thrust the black inside, and suffocate the light in me. Throw the stones that kill the truth, deception must be absolute. Rape the mind that will not die, its sharpest throes must multiply. Dementia unresisted, psychosis of the mind. Generation X termination, the blind leading the blind towards the ends of the earth. Sweet cyanide seduction, grown numb from the poison that guides mankind beyond all hopes of rebirth. Tear further into violence, and send forth the blade that slaughters each cell. Stillbirth redemption, sterility dances to the rapturous sound of the knell…

I had no idea that this disc, too, is apparently pretty damn rare these days, which is quite a shame. It looks like every seller that I can find is asking at least $20 for it, which is news to me. It really is becoming far too hard to acquire out of print metal for reasonable prices, I'm pretty sick of it. Oh well, what can you do? Keep searching if you're so inclined… hopefully you'll be successful.

Thanks once more for all of the comments and emails. I owe many of you responses but I've been way too backed up, so I'm still slowly getting there. Sorry! Keep those random tidbits of information coming, for those of you more "in the know" than I about some of these bands. Thanks again.

I can't believe no one bought that copy of Shades Apart's "Neon" off of Half.com yet, though!? That's just crazy!

Shades Apart "Neon" CD

Posted on Monday, June 13th, 2005 @ 6:02pm » permalink

Shades Apart - NeonThis New Jersey trio (I had forgotten where they were from until I put this post together, and damn, I fucking love New Jersey) formed in the late-80's and is probably best known for their initial outing for Revelation Records in 1995: "Save It", their third full-length – which was actually my first introduction to the band. "Save It" is an excellent record in its own right, but after tracking down their earlier material something about their sophomore effort, "Neon", always stuck with me. I don't know, maybe it's just the fact that it's a little moodier, but whatever the case, this record, released in 1993 on the Skene! label, remains my favorite in the Shades Apart catalog.

The band was actually most interesting to me in that they always had a totally unique sound, partly due to the vocals, but also because they're just impossible to pigeonhole. They're not an emo band, they're not an indie rock band, they're not exactly a post-hardcore band, nor are they a simple rock band… but all such styles play a role in their music, which is catchy and melodic, but still a little dissonant or at times angular and noisy. I saw 'em live numerous times during the mid- to late-90's and they never played any tracks from this record live. I don't know what that was all about, maybe they weren't happy with the slight stylistic shift? Who knows? One of the final times I caught 'em they did play a mere one song off of "Neon" and I was super psyched about that. I should've talked to 'em about it afterwards, but I'm too neurotic to do shit like that, so… it remains a mystery to me.

Anyway, I'm a big fan of this band and have always thought more people should be into 'em:

Shades Apart "Calling"
Shades Apart "Visitor"

After doing another record for Revelation, it was off to the majors, though I actually stopped following the group after "Save It" for whatever reason. Which reminds me: I probably ought to pick up "Seeing Things" and "Eyewitness" simply out of respect for the band's formidable years, but 2001's "Sonic Boom" displays one of the worst record covers of all time, so I'd probably refuse to buy it even if it was good (which it may be, I haven't heard it, obviously). Maybe they're even still kicking around somewhere? I doubt it, but you never know…

The band's debut was always pretty hard to find, and "Neon" met a similar fate as it's pretty damn scarce to come by these days unless you're willing to pay relatively unreasonable prices (it's actually surpassed the band's debut in terms of rarity). There's one copy for dirt cheap on Half.com right now, so if someone wants it: Act fast. There's another on eBay that's actually priced fairly, but it's in Japan, so… that's a tossup when you factor in shipping costs. A used copy's fuckin' $25 on Amazon.com, which isn't a fair deal, so… it's a shame it's so hard to get your hands on this CD now. Any takers?

@ Half.com

And thanks to everyone that's posted comments (positive or negative, it all counts) or emailed me with thoughts and suggestions over the past week, I really appreciate it and was actually quite stunned by the sudden influx of activity, so that was awesome. Since Tomsk-7 was such a big hit this Shades Apart action might send a few of you running to the hills, but… I'll bring back the grind at some point as well! Thanks.

Tomsk-7/Boris split 7"

Posted on Thursday, June 9th, 2005 @ 5:58am » permalink

Tomsk-7/Boris - splitI'll keep this one relatively short. Another 7" that I grabbed years ago in a used bin for about a quarter, the Tomsk-7/Boris split was released in 1997 on Bovine Records. Somewhat of an odd union, it actually makes for a damn nice split , and even though it's out of print, you seem to still be able to find it used or in random distros for a few bucks here and there, so… it's doesn't seem to be too terribly rare.

I still know nothing about Tomsk-7 other than the fact that they hailed from Phoenix, AZ and had one of the best female vocalists ever – cutting loose with five short tracks ranging from blistering grind, to sludgy distorted bass dirges, as well as feedback soaked noise. Aside from this five or so minutes of material all I can note is that they were on a couple of comps and also did a split EP with some band called Idi Amin, but I've never heard it. I think this group should've been far more talked about though, and these tracks should nail that point home.

This record also marked my first exposure to Japan's Boris, and I went apeshit over this one. Their lone track is longer than the entire Tomsk-7 side of the record, full of poundingly heavy rhythms and drones alongside forceful drumming and a ridiculous bass presence. And how about those vocals!? The whole thing is just a pulsing, sinister mass of twisted dissonance – all of which possesses more feeling and power than a lot of the band's more recent work in my opinion. Their side ends with a locked groove, so I faded it out after 10 seconds or so. And what about that cover art, too? If nothing else, I think Boris has fallen way off the mark with their visual presence these days, as their early logo and aesthetic played a huge role in my decision to buy this record.

See what you think:

1. Tomsk-7 "Dumpsite"
2. Tomsk-7 "Rape-Active-Hate"
3. Tomsk-7 "Bloodlink"
4. Tomsk-7 "Me"
5. Tomsk-7 "Coccyx"
6. Boris "Mass Mercury"

And yo, again, comments, people! Please! Imperium? Anyone? No dice? All those people emailed me wanting more thrash, but no one was into 'em, or what? I feel like I'm pissing my time away if I don't get any feedback to know how people are reacting to all these tunes, so… it makes a difference. Thanks!

Imperium "Too Short a Season" CD

Posted on Monday, June 6th, 2005 @ 1:30am » permalink

Imperium - Too Short a SeasonA few years ago one of my best friends called me up raving about some obscure technical metal CD that he had found – I think he got it for like $3 in a shit bin at some mall when he was at the beach or something. Anyway, this dude likes maybe five bands tops, so I figured it had to be good if he was actually into it. So I jotted down the band name and album title, and when I got off the phone I found the fucker on eBay for like $2, so within a couple of days it was mine for a grand total of less than five bucks. The band was Imperium, and the album was "Too Short a Season" – their only full-length, released in 1993 by Leviathan Records. There have probably been a ton of bands called Imperium over the years, but as opposed to the shortly lived all-star black metal band of the same name, this quintet hailed from Holland in the early-90's.

Formed by a couple of ex-members of Sacrosanct (whose records I ought to own but don't, damnit), Imperium delivered a technical and progressive form of thrash metal that's pretty shocking considering it came out in 1993 – it really sounds much more like something that would've hit the streets between '88 and '91. Admittedly they've got somewhat of a weak recording that's pretty thin, but it's worth getting used to for the weird ass songwriting! The material is aptly thrashy but balanced with an openly melodic side, dropping some great vocal harmonies as well as some of the squealing high-pitched action more associated with these types of bands (the same goes for the solos). Their totally wacky sense of dissonance and fucked up changes is perhaps lightly comparable to a more over the top Anacrusis, but the closer you listen to some of the song arrangements the more bizarre they seem. It may take a few listens, but trust me, this shit totally grows on you and becomes more intense and enjoyable as you gradually adjust to their approach.

Imperium "Silenced"
Imperium "Too Short a Season"

Two former members of Imperium are presently in a new band called Sphere of Souls (so was the drummer , but he quit), who apparently recorded their debut full-length last month. The material is slated for release sometime this year, but I can't for the life of me find any mention of what label it will be on, nor a website for the band. If anyone knows anything, please shoot me an email. (Edit: Several of the band members have emailed me to let me know that there is a website for Sphere of Souls. The recordings are almost complete and the band has yet to decide on a label, but a 2005 release is still planned.) I assume it'll be along similar lines, only more modern – but then again: In 1993 Imperium sounded like they would've been much more at home during the golden age of thrash, so maybe Sphere of Souls will pull another rabbit out of the ol' hat?

In the meantime, I'm blown away that you can still find brand new copies of this unnoticed gem from big name retailers, though your best bet is probably to go ahead and grab it used, because holy shit is it usually cheap:

@ Amazon.com
@ Half.com

Hopefully some of you cats who were into the Realm mp3's will dig this, too? Talk about "too short a season"… I really wish these guys had done another record.

Krakatoa "Clouds Burned by Sunshine" 7"

Posted on Thursday, June 2nd, 2005 @ 6:23am » permalink

Krakatoa - Clouds Burned by SunshineAhhh, Krakatoa. I did a feature about these guys on the old version of my site five years ago, but I've been an immense fan for almost a decade now, despite the fact that the band only recorded like nine damn songs throughout their on and off eight-year existence: One 7", and one (barely) full-length CD. The band formed in 1992 (originally called Engine) and initially played their final show in 1993 – which was also the very first show for guitarist Carl Skildum's other band, Threadbare (who released two incredible EP's of their own that I'll also be featuring here at some point); while vocalist Dave Walker went on to join Harvest.

This particular 7" was recorded in 1995 when the four original band members were back in town together and decided to come up with some new material, all of which was written and recorded within just two weeks. Shockingly enough they never intended to release the stuff because apparently they're insane and don't realize that this mere project is also one of the greatest bands ever to have graced the earth, but thankfully Second Nature Recordings got wind of it and released the two songs as the "Clouds Burned by Sunshine" EP in 1996. (Gracious thanks to Dan Askew for having superb taste.) I remember buying this 7" on a whim shortly after it came out, and to this day it remains the single most played piece of vinyl in my collection. The songs are intensely emotional, creatively melodic, and yet still aggressive: Screaming, singing, whispering, chunky rhythms, clean passages, wicked lead breaks… it's all here, and it's all amazing.

The individual members reunited again years later, releasing the almighty "Channel Static Blackout" CD in 2000, also on Second Nature Recordings. (Thanks again, Dan!) The CD follows suit with the EP and offers up seven more tracks of incredibly powerful, absolutely inventive metallic hardcore: Perhaps you can pick up a few influences here and there, but there is absolutely no other band that sounds like Krakatoa. Carl Skildum is, in my opinion, one of the most talented songwriters I've ever heard, and it pains me that most all of his work has been so criminally underrated. The man can simply do no wrong…

But while I absolutely adored Threadbare, Krakatoa is just the kind of stuff that makes me furious at how immeasurably shitty and insincere some of the most popular metalcore bands are these days – especially when material like this, which is basically genius, has been largely ignored over the years since the band was basically an aside that never toured or anything. No shit, though, from a songwriting standpoint Krakatoa crushes almost any other band of its kind:

1. "Eclipse"
2. "Indulgence"

Remarkably the 7" is still available:

@ Very Distribution

However, I also wholeheartedly recommend the full-length. I still very much contend that they should've tacked on the 7" tracks to the CD as a bonus, but nevertheless it's worth every fucking penny. (And you can find it for peanuts used because, once again, people are fucking stupid!)

@ Very Distribution
@ Amazon.com
@ Half.com