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Leeway "Desperate Measures" CD

Posted on Monday, August 29th, 2005 @ 1:28am » permalink

Leeway - Desperate MeasuresOriginally I was gonna choose Leeway for one of those "Past Their Prime" posts (and I probably still will one day), since their last two records are notoriously hated by almost everyone who liked the first two (that's right, I kinda dig 'em all). But I was thinking… shit, when I did one of those posts about the Cro-Mags, there were actually people who had never heard the Cro-Mags before. That's bad news people. Bad fucking news. For real. And then it dawned on me that despite the fact that either "Born to Expire" or "Desperate Measures" pops up on the vast majority of "Top 10's of NYHC" lists, there are just massive amounts of people out there who've never fuckin' heard Leeway. And that's gotta stop, man. I can't hang with that.

Now, as is often the case, most people will probably tell you, "Oh, their debut's the best…" But no, uh-uh. Fuck that shit. Don't get me wrong, "Born to Expire" kicks ass ("Mark of the Squealer", anyone?), but "Desperate Measures" is killin' shit in every way from start to finish. This is another of my top 25 most played CD's of all time, and I still probably listen to this shit at least once a month to this day. Every single track is a keeper (okay, I could do without "2-Minute Warning", but even that has its kitsch value), and it's hard as hell to try and single out a few songs as highlights. The fucker's just jam packed with classics. I'm telling you, I absolutely adore this record… I could gush about this album all damn day.

Released in 1991, I honestly don't have a problem stating that by this point in time the band was already more hardcore in history and spirit than they were on record, because there's very little "hardcore" about these tracks. Musically it's heavy as fuck and totally borders on being energetically delivered, rocked out thrash metal. Couple that with Eddie Sutton's inimitable singing style and there's never been another band that truly sounds like Leeway. But these songs in particular are just impeccable examples of thick, crunchy riffs scattered all over the place amidst powerfully memorable (if not catchy) song structures and ample levels of tasteful melody. Unless you're a strict hardcore purist, you've gotta be insane not to be all over these jams.

Unfortunately, I don't really know all that much about Leeway beyond cursory facts. I've been told that they never really officially broke up, and have kind of occasionally kicked around doing little "reunions" here and there, but there's really just a severe lack of information about these guys out there altogether – be it regarding their history, what happened afterwards, etc. After Leeway's final record guitarist A.J. Novello and drummer Pokey did time in Both Worlds with John Joseph from the Cro-Mags; with Novello also doing a stint in Breakdown, whereas Pokey and Sutton both joined Merauder (though Sutton never recorded more than a demo with the band). I'm sure there are other little tidbits such as these floating around, but that's all that's coming to mind right now.

Criminally enough, even though you can get used copies of the band's final two records for less than a buck at many online retailers, their first two discs are way out of print (as is the 2-on-1 CD reissue that came out almost 10 years ago), which causes me great pain and is a severe, severe injustice. If I had to I'd easily pay $25 for a copy of this disc, if not more, which you may have to do if you want a copy, but… keep searchin' eBay and maybe you'll get lucky. Man, what a cryin' shame that such an insanely badass record has become so hard to grab. Fuck…

Cities "Annihilation Absolute" CD

Posted on Thursday, August 25th, 2005 @ 5:41am » permalink

Cities - Annihilation AbsoluteI seem to have a habit of inadvertently choosing back-to-back posts from the same record label. So, while we're on the topic of non-sucking records that bear the Metal Blade logo, here we go. I don't know shit about Cities, and there don't seem to be many people who do. They were from New York, their drummer was in Twisted Sister (big fuckin' deal), and they released one full-length LP ("Annihilation Absolute") of straightforward, thrashy power metal with catchy songwriting in 1986. The end. Seriously, that's about all I know. I think it was originally released in 1985 as a 12" EP by the Metal Masters label with only six songs, and then they re-recorded it for Metal Blade and added three more tracks (four more in Japan, of course – those lucky bastards).

The record was bootlegged on CD by the awesome Old Metal Records (run by King Fowley of Deceased notoriety) several years ago, but every pressing of this lost little nugget of classic heavy metal is now seriously out of print. For the record, I don't support bootlegging in most cases, but I'm sorry, if labels are gonna let awesome shit go out of print: Fuck 'em! You know what I mean? I could rant about that topic for weeks on end!

Anyway, you might not be into this unless you grew up on heavy metal like I did, as there are plenty of over the top high-pitched vocal harmonies and masturbatory guitar solos, but I don't know, I'm all for that mess and there are some fistbanging gems on this motherfucker, so I still enjoy spinning this disc every now and then:

Cities "Stop the Race"
Cities "In the Still of the Night"

Your best bet at finding various forms of this album would be to search eBay, but you'll have to make the call as to what price you think is fair for the formats available. This isn't necessarily a mandatory release, just a good ol' slab of metal!

Epidemic "Exit Paradise" CD

Posted on Monday, August 22nd, 2005 @ 5:58am » permalink

Epidemic - Exit ParadiseDespite their once classic heritage, Metal Blade has released a lot more shitty records over the years than they have good ones. As a result, a number of great bands got pushed aside while the label ran around trying to promote the hell out of its top sellers in order to cover their asses for having signed so much utter garbage. One of those great bands was Epidemic, whose third and final full-length, "Exit Paradise" (1994), is an absolutely crushing slab of fury that was, in some ways, ahead of its time considering the path to reborn success that extreme music has taken in the 11 years since its release.

Formed in the late-80's, Epidemic hailed from San Francisco, and of course that region's legacy of completely and utterly classic thrash metal litters the band's otherwise death metal oriented heaviness and vocal approach. I've actually never been able to track down their debut full-length (which was apparently their 1989 demo properly pressed up on vinyl), but from that point on they seemed to slow things down just a smidge more with each release, ending up at a pretty even blend of speedy death/thrash and absolutely destructive rhythmic grooves on "Exit Paradise". Honestly, the slower portions of this record are quite akin to the dominant form of metalcore that was prevalent throughout the 90's, and I fucking love that shit. Just check out the intro to "Void", the lead track, for a sick example of precisely what an oppressively heavy mosh break should sound like. The recording on this fucker is seriously heavy as hell, and even their unlisted take on Ozzy's "Over the Mountain" sounds totally vicious!

Epidemic "Void">
Epidemic "Deaden">
Epidemic "Exit Paradise">

Since these guys were pretty underappreciated in their day, you can grab their Metal Blade output all over the place for fair prices, so… if you enjoy the above tracks, have at it. I've yet to play this disc for anyone that I thought would like it and have them prove me wrong, so… hopefully most of you will be into it.

@ Amazon.com
@ Half.com

Final Conflict "Ashes to Ashes" CD

Posted on Thursday, August 18th, 2005 @ 7:29am » permalink

Final Conflict - Ashes to AshesIt seems almost shockingly uncommon to come across mention of Final Conflict these days (there doesn't even seem to be that much out there on the net about 'em), perhaps because the California hardcore/punk act wasn't the most prolific band out there in their day, but whatever the case their debut LP is a classic slab of fast hardcore/punk with just a tinge of that early crossover metal edge. It might not be the most original thing you've ever heard, but there's no denying that there's a certain vibe to the material that sets the band apart, and a number of these songs are timeless standards to this day… so even if the band name's not familiar for some bizarre reason, I bet you've heard at least one of these tracks in one form or another over the years.

Aside from their 1985 demo and scattered compilation appearances, the mighty "Ashes to Ashes" LP (Pusmort, 1987) was the band's sole release during their first wave – cranking out 14 tracks in barely less than a half-hour. Original members Ron Martinez (vocals) and Jeff Harp (guitars) later reformed the band and did a couple of 7"s on Bacteria Sour during the mid-90's, then a split 7" and the "Rebirth" full-length in 1997 – all of which was apparently fairly solid (I've only heard "Rebirth" myself, though I don't own it). I'm not exactly sure what became of them afterwards, I believe Harp may have continued alone with a few different lineups, but I was honestly never that interested in much beyond their mid- to late-80's outing.

Final Conflict "Apocalypse Now"
Final Conflict "Abolish Police"
Final Conflict "Constant Fear"

"Ashes to Ashes" has been reissued on CD (with bonus tracks) a couple of times over the years, and though I believe all versions are technically out of print, it's actually still pretty easy to come by, which is always a good thing:

@ Amazon.com
@ Half.com

Random aside: A 10-year-old Civ track suddenly popping up in a Nissan commercial? What the fuck!?

And hey, people, what's up with slacking on the comments, eh? 500+ downloads already this week and, what, one fucking comment? That's weak, folks. If you hate these songs, fair enough, but do me a god damn favor and let me know if you like the shit, alright? I hate feeling like I'm spinning my wheels for nothin' over here! And that goes for all of these other mp3 blogs out there, too. Don't just leech the tunes and take off, at least leave these cats some feedback from time to time! It's definitely appreciated, thanks.

Pale Creation "1994 demo" CS

Posted on Monday, August 15th, 2005 @ 7:32am » permalink

Pale Creation - 1994 DemoHere's the second and final Pale Creation demo from 1994 with more commentary from former frontman Nick Brewer. While Nick refers to the direction of this demo as more potentially "emo", I definitely wouldn't go that far. The "less crossover metal" response is absolutely accurate, as many of these songs are a touch slower and more melodic, but they're also heavier (thanks in so small part to an excellently crunchy recording), and certainly retained the identity that the band established with the first demo. Here's what Nick has to say about this era of the band:

We didn't really know what to do after Steve and Rick left, so we talked to a lot of people about finding new members. Kurt Vaigl, a good friend and music lover, told us he'd love to work with us on some new music, so we rehearsed with him right away. It was a good match, we liked Kurt and he was a great guitar player. We had a lot of bass players after Rick left – at least three or four – until we had our good friend Matt Lucy audition for bass (though he was actually a guitarist). This lineup resulted in a second demo recorded in late-1994 at Suma Studios in the boondocks of Ohio. Bill Korecky came out once again to track the drums in the great rooms that Suma had. Then we took the tapes to the new Mars Recording Studio that was under construction in Streetsboro, where we added guitars, bass, and of course the vocals. With Kurt we headed in a way different direction – less crossover metal and more… (dare I say) emo? I had changed my vocal style from a Hetfield-ish growl to a singing kind of style, which surprised a lot of people, so this second demo received mixed reactions. We played more shows with this lineup and managed to mix the songs from both demos together for our live sets. Eventually Kurt moved on and the band dissolved…

1. "Worry Never Sleeps"
2. "Carry on Forever"
3. "II"
4. "Return Until"
5. "Surefooted"
6. "Natural Assassin" (bonus track)

The above re-recording of "Natural Assassin" from the 1994 sessions didn't actually appear on the demo, but this rendition of one of the band's classic tunes improves upon the sound quality of the earlier recording, and is absolutely worth checking out.

It was really awesome to see the first Pale Creation post get such an overwhelming response, so hopefully everyone that enjoyed that material will feel the same way about this demo – which certainly only further solidifies the fact that these guys should've gotten the opportunity to do a proper record far sooner than they did. But, as usual, excellent recordings often go unnoticed… so at least we have these songs documented to enjoy for years to come – in one form or another.

I'll let Nick's final words close things out here:

A few years after we broke up, Dennis and I regrouped with Matt Lucy and a new lineup that also included Matt Shack and Justin Endres. We decided to keep the name Pale Creation and wrote a whole new batch of songs that became what I felt was our finest material ever… but that's a whole other story!

Ghidrah "1996 demo" CS

Posted on Thursday, August 11th, 2005 @ 4:13am » permalink

Ghidrah - 1996 DemoEver heard of this band? No? Well rest assured, you're not alone. I picked up this demo from Very Distribution seven or eight years ago on a whim because I was trolling for new bands to check out and this tape was being compared to Candiria at the time. Aside from a hefty dose of creativity and plenty of odd time signatures and quick stylistic shifts, I disagree, it actually sounds a hell of a lot more like the almighty Burn (to the point where, if you like Burn, there's very little reason not to be all over these tracks), but whatever the case: This demo is incredible and I can't believe this band passed by unnoticed.

So who were they? I honestly don't know shit about 'em other than what's printed inside the demo: Bee J on vocals, Mark 1 on guitar, Napoleon on bass, and Danielito on drums; recorded at Raw Recordings by Jean-Christophe Santalis in the summer and autumn of 1996; and a New City, NY P.O. Box address listed alongside two (914) phone numbers for contact information. That's it. The last two tracks below aren't listed on the cover, and the banter at the start of the live track (whose complete title I can't make out due to guitar feedback) mentions an alleged album that the band was working on, but I've never been able to document whether or not said album might actually exist. Just the other day I emailed the recording studio where the demo was tracked just in the off chance that someone there might have even a faint smidge of information on that topic, but that's all I've got to go on for now. If you know anything at all about these guys, definitely shoot me a line.

Meanwhile, enjoy the jams:

1. "Phoenix"
2. "I Am Halfsick of Shadows"
3. "Waltz: Golden Staircase"
4. "Indian Caravan"
5. "Ashes & Garlic" (unlisted, recorded live)
6. "Outro" (unlisted)

As for side notes, apparently Handsome did in fact record a follow-up full-length that was never released. Someone out there has to have this, and that someone needs to hook me up immediately. Seriously, if you've got a quality copy of the recordings, I'll pay for that shit. No joke. I simply must hear those songs. There's just no fuckin' around about that! So please, if you have that material, send me an email – I'd really appreciate it.

Also note that former Worlds Collide vocalist Matt Burger left a comment on that post a little while back correcting some misinformation that other folks had speculated about in earlier comments as far as the band's first show, their demo recordings, and so on. Interesting stuff.

Pale Creation "1992 demo" CS

Posted on Monday, August 8th, 2005 @ 5:00am » permalink

Pale Creation - 1992 DemoIf anyone reading this remembers Pale Creation, it's probably either from the "Dark Empire Strikes Back" compilation in 1994 (their contribution to which was taken from the demo below), or the "Twilight Haunt" CD that East Coast Empire dropped in 1999. Very few, however, have heard their early-90's demo material, and I find those early recordings to be some of the most essential output in the band's history. Years ago I did the Pale Creation website after they reformed for one last jaunt in the late-90's, so I asked former frontman Nick Brewer to provide some history in his own words:

Pale Creation was started by Steve Yanchar, Dennis Malkamaki, and Rick Pfleuger in the early-90's. I was kind of hanging out, beer-guzzling and couch-surfing, when I was appointed 'vocalist'. The four of us were high on Metallica, Corrosion of Conformity, and Coors Extra Gold. We practiced hard and booked time at Mars Recording Studio during the summer of 1992. This was the original Mars Recording Studio – it was torn down after we finished our first sessions with owner/engineer Bill Korecky. I can remember not being old enough to buy alcohol yet, so we were begging bums outside to buy us cheap beer and we'd give them money to buy themselves cigarettes or Mad Dog or whatever they wanted. We released that first demo ourselves as a cassette and sold it out of the trunks of our cars. We didn't have any clue as to how to go about distributing it or selling it, so we took it to local record stores, mailed it to zines, etc. It actually got a favorable review in Maximumrocknroll. We never played a lot of shows with that particular lineup, but we did rock quite a few basements and keg parties. The band was finely tuned and highly under the influence. We had a lot of fun. Then Steve moved away and became a Mormon, and Rick quit and went on to some other bands…

There are definitely portions of the 1992 demo that musically sound dead on like Pale Creation's friends and peers in the earlier incarnations of Integrity, but for the most part it's a scorching blend of crossover thrash metal and metallic hardcore, with killer vocals that sound a lot like Dave Mustaine with more tact. I guess this material kind of sounds like throwing old Megadeth, D.R.I., and classic Integrity in a blender, so I think many will agree with me that this demo totally kills:

1. "Pale Creation"
2. "Misjudgment"
3. "Natural Assassin"
4. "Humanity"
5. "Arlington"
6. "Revolution Mind"
7. "Weeping World"
8. "All Are Defiled"

The band released one more killer demo two years later that was a little heavier (and yet increasedly melodic), which I'll post in the next week or so, along with the second batch of Nick's commentary. Keep an eye out.

I'm totally shocked that no one seemed to be into the Fly Machine tracks at all, but the overwhelming response to the Handsome tunes totally makes up for it and completely blows me away. I can't believe how many times those fuckers have been downloaded or posted around the net. Who would've thought? I figured most interested parties were already familiar with 'em, but damn am I glad that I decided to make that post! That's the entire purpose of this silly little blog, so it's nice to know that sometimes it actually does do some good!

Handsome "s/t" CD

Posted on Thursday, August 4th, 2005 @ 5:34am » permalink

Handsome - s/tThe lineup damn near says it all with this one: Tom Capone (formerly of Beyond, Bold, Quicksand, currently in Instruction) – guitar; Jeremy Chatelain (formerly of Insight and Iceburn, later in Jets to Brazil, currently in Cub Country) – vocals; Pete Hines (formerly of Murphy's Law, the Cro-Mags, and Alloy) – drums; Peter Mengede (formerly of Helmet) – guitar; Eddie Nappi (later in Enemy) – bass. Could you possibly lose? Hell no!

Handsome formed in the early-90's sans Tom Capone, and solidified as a four-piece lineup in early-1995. Capone joined up between late-'95 and early-'96, after the band had already released two 7"s: "Waiting" on Full City Blend, and a self-titled affair that contained "Swimming" backed with "Can't Connect" on Sub Pop (the latter track was never re-recorded). After that it was their sole self-titled full-length on Epic Records in 1997, which is where it really gets good.

When the disc originally hit the streets I bought it immediately due to the presence of Capone and Mengede alone, having been an enormous Quicksand and Helmet fan, but I wasn't feeling the vocals at all, so I never really listened to it. For whatever reason, a few months later it finally clicked, and I still spin this album on a very regular basis to this day. In fact, were I to review this disc right now, I'd probably give it a 10/10, as this is one of the single most listened to CD's in my entire collection of 3,000+.

The band basically delivers a surprisingly heavy brand of moody, melodic post-hardcore chock full of spectacular songwriting, which is quite diverse and unique as well. Oddly enough, despite the vocals being the initial hitch for me, I now realize that the singing is one of the most significant factors in making this record so fucking amazing, as Chatelain possesses one of the more moving and distinctive singing styles I've ever heard, so… while perhaps an acquired taste, his presence is absolutely essential. And the songs are just ridiculous (in a good way). I've seriously probably listened to this CD over 1,000 times in eight years. "Quiet Liar" makes me want to shoot myself, "Dim the Lights" is succinct and catchy as hell (a rare twist for the album as a whole), "Ride Down" is a little more midpaced and driving… and there are plenty of other surefire keepers as well – notably "Swimming" and "Needles", among others.

I don't know what the deal is, but apparently there was some sort of "bonus disc" with an edition of this CD too, probably an import or whatever. I don't know how many songs were on it, but I've got two of 'em, and they're fuckin' great. "Closer" was supposed to be on the CD-Rom content for the standard edition, but I've never been able to get it to play via those means. Regardless, these guys are absolutely insane for not including "Spill" on the record itself, as it's hands down one of their five best songs. I could probably even argue that it's their finest track, period. It's actually pretty frustrating that such an amazing track was relegated to some unbelievably obscure "bonus disc", but at least I got the chance to hear it.

I don't see the Handsome disc available new all that often these days, but it's certainly one of those hidden treasures that's relatively easy to score used for less than $5:

@ Amazon.com
@ Half.com

If anyone knows any concrete details about the above mentioned "bonus disc", or the rumored unreleased second full-length that Handsome may or may not have recorded, for that matter, please let me know. I totally love this band and still can't make sense of the fact that they never really got their due.

Fly Machine "s/t" CD

Posted on Monday, August 1st, 2005 @ 12:55am » permalink

Fly Machine - s/tNow that Confessor's back in action, Fly Machine has been getting mentioned more and more often with regards to what some of the Confessor dudes were up to in the time between Confessor's disappearance in the early-90's and their 2002 reunion to benefit the family of their former guitarist, Ivan Edward Colon, after his unfortunate passing. It's a horrible shame that it took such a tragedy to bring the members of Confessor back together, but it's otherwise nice to see a pioneering band make a strong return, and for a project like Fly Machine to get a little retrospective press in the process.

Well, at some point after Confessor first disbanded, members Brian Shoaf (guitar), Cary Rowells (bass), and Steve Shelton (drums, a.k.a. "One of the Greatest Drummers to Have Ever Walked the Planet") formed Fly Machine. I believe the band was originally called Mover, but Shoaf left about a year later and never recorded with 'em. He was replaced by Chris Nolan, and Dave Dorsey rounded out the lineup on vocals and guitar. Their style was basically a gradually more simplistic and graspable take on the odd time signatures and off-kilter rhythms that Confessor made infamous, with Dorsey's often more restrained vocals taking it down a notch or two.

This CD, self-released by the band in 1997, contains two different recording sessions consisting of four songs each: One set from Richmond, VA; the other set from Raleigh, NC. My guess is that the four Raleigh tracks are the older of the bunch as they sound a lot more like Confessor (Is it me or do some of the riffs in "Downsize" sound eerily familiar?) and the recording's not nearly as strong, but despite some rough spots this CD definitely has some strengths and deserves a happy home in any Confessor fan's CD collection.

I only found out about these guys because they used to play around here in Richmond about once a year with Burn the Priest, and of course I flipped out when I heard that they had ex-members of Confessor in the band. I remember they were selling this CD for only $5 at shows, and I was really impressed by that. I tried to do a big feature on Fly Machine over five years ago, but they were really hard to get a hold of and it never panned out before they, too, sort of vanished:

Fly Machine "Becoming"
Fly Machine "Downsize"

At some point, years after this disc hit the streets, the band had posted some new mp3's online, but those songs were never released. I actually remember being tremendously disappointed in that material anyway, as it was far more basic and rocked out, bearing little in common with where the band came from. This disc wasn't well distributed at all, and I haven't had any luck locating any copies online for any interested parties, but if you do some digging you might be able to come across one. Hell, the band might have a handful leftover, for all I know?

In the meantime, the almighty Confessor is alive and kicking once again, so check that shit out instead! I, for one, am eagerly awaiting their forthcoming full-length!