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Cold as Life "Born to Land Hard" CD

Posted on Sunday, October 30th, 2005 @ 12:23pm » permalink

Cold as Life - Born to Land HardHoly shit was I ecstatic to learn just last week that this record has finally been repressed! I'm sure at this point most are aware that Cold as Life began in Detroit in the late-80's as more of a street punk/oi influenced hardcore band, whose original frontman Rawn Beauty was tragically murdered in 1993 at just 23 years old. But when they returned years later with guitarist Jeff Gunnells handling the vocal duties, the resulting debut full-length was 1997's classic "Born to Land Hard": 13 of the most venomous and spiteful metallic hardcore tracks ever to have been put to tape. Seriously, a number of the songs from their final demo with Rawn appear here in re-recorded form, and Gunnells' inimitably acidic sneers alongside the more chugging musical attack make for one hell of a huge difference. This record rules and you need it.

I had been looking for this god damn CD for many years but refused to pay $50 for it on eBay or wherever, so to see this thing back out there for $13 is a sorely overdue relief. Cold as Life is fucking legendary and no one else really sounds like 'em, so just do yourself a favor and grab this fucker while you still can:

@ Very Distribution

You can also now pick up their "1988 – 1993" collection of all the demo material with Rawn on vocals (which is quite different, but still very much recommended), as well as what I believe are the remaining copies of their final full-length with 2001's "Declination of Independence". (They also did a split 7" with Ringworm that I've somehow managed to slack on purchasing to this day – what the fuck is wrong with me?)

Crown of Thornz "Train Yard Blues" CD

Posted on Thursday, October 27th, 2005 @ 6:47am » permalink

Crown of Thornz - Train Yard BluesHere's another mid-90's hardcore gem that I can't believe is around 10 years old already. Crown of Thornz did pretty well in their day, but I still feel like this band had so much more to offer than they were ever given credit for, and they don't get namedropped nearly enough these days either. Yeah, yeah, we all know of the countless, countless mounds of rumors and gossip (both fact and fiction) that eventually surrounded this band and created a rather notorious aura throughout their existence, but I'm not concerned with that. And looking past all that extraneous information there's one truth you can't deny here: Love it or hate it, these guys had a sound that was all their own.

I do kind of think that some of the over the top "behind the scenes" antics associated with the aforementioned "extraneous information" surrounding this band caused a lot of people to unfairly overlook Crown of Thornz as a band – some of which stemmed from the fact that members became involved with Skarhead shortly after Crown of Thornz got rolling – because hardcore was kind of at an all-time high as far as "politically correct" attitudes were concerned back then, and violent reputations combined with any form of lighthearted/indulgent extremism were a surefire way to get a lot of people's panties in a massive bunch. But the thing is, all that conjecture just doesn't jive with what these cats were doing musically. Crown of Thornz was not some "toughguy band". Read the lyrics, you know? Sure, the shit is bleak. But it's the real deal. It's honest: Heavy both musically and emotionally. And these guys were also dealing with a lot more melody than was to be expected from NYHC – they just did so in a way that never went too far, and always managed to keep things in your face.

Both the debut "Train Yard Blues" EP and the "Mentally Vexed" full-length are consistently quality spins, but I've always held a slight preference for the somewhat colder and more menacing tone of the EP – which probably explains why I tend to find myself pulling it out more often around this time of year. It's a little rawer overall, but something about these five tracks really communicates a darker and more distinct edge than the vast majority of hardcore.

Sometimes I walk these streets with my head down, a blank stare and an occasional frown. I want to rock and sleep my life away. Wake me up. Wake me up another fucking day. The razors at my wrist and the hands of time keep turning. The faucet drips another drop and my mind is burning…

You can still buy this puppy on the cheap, too. If you dig it, pick it up straight from the label for just $8:

@ Equal Vision Records

I also have to say, these guys were a fucking great live band. I caught them during their later days and was shocked by how impressive they were, and that show really reignited my interest in their material at the time. While I can't imagine it ever happening, I'd totally love to see Crown of Thornz do another record someday.

I realize that I'm posting about way too many mid-90's hardcore acts as of late, but I assure you it's entirely coincidental. I guess I listen to this stuff more often than I ever realized, ha. I'm trying to continue keeping things balanced in terms of different genres and whatnot, but I have so much shit that I could choose to post that I always get sick of thinking about it and just post whatever I'm currently spinning – so there might be a few more shots of 90's hardcore to come before I move on to something else for awhile! If anyone else has any requests, let me know

Sum of All Fears "From This Day Forward…" CD

Posted on Monday, October 24th, 2005 @ 5:40am » permalink

Sum of All Fears - From This Day Forward...Here's another underrated mid-90's hardcore record that I never really knew much about. The debut 1996 "full-length" (not really, in my opinion, it's only seven songs in less than a half-hour) from Connecticut's Sum of All Fears, which was also the debut release for the fledgling East Coast Empire label. I once made the mistake of parting ways with this CD due to its rather rough recording quality (and, as you can see, this disc also comes from a time when many hardcore record layouts were, to put it bluntly, hideous), but an old mix tape that contained the song "Enduring the Test of Time" quickly drove me to reacquire the record. Of course, I couldn't identify the song un the unlabeled tape, so I had to make an mp3 and post it online with a call for help several years ago, but thankfully someone knew what it was – and let me tell you, that song is without a doubt one of the best hardcore tracks of the 90's – hands down. As a whole these guys' brand of chunky hardcore with a mix of moshy breakdowns and rather basic fast paced power chords was nothing new, but it still had its own little nuances of subtle melody, and when they were on in terms of songwriting, they were fucking dead on. Just check out "Enduring the Test of Time" for flawless proof of what this band had to offer at their finest.

Sum of All Fears "Enduring the Test of Time"
Sum of All Fears "Force Fed"
Sum of All Fears "Suffocate"

Aside from a split 7" with Tenfold and some compilation appearances I'm not sure what else these cats released, if anything. But "From This Day Forward…" is still out there, generally used, so pick it up if you dig the above tunes:

@ Amazon.com
@ Half.com

Forbidden "Twisted Into Form" CD

Posted on Monday, October 17th, 2005 @ 7:39am » permalink

Forbidden - Twisted Into FormPerhaps best known for the fact that former sticksman Paul Bostaph eventually joined up for quite a run with Slayer, Forbidden's finest hour certainly eclipses anything that Slayer did without Dave Lombardo. Not to overshadow the relative quality of "Divine Intervention" or anything, but "Twisted Into Form" dropped in 1990 (yet again on the once godly Combat label) and is proof positive that true thrash was still at the top of its game for a decent stint in the post-80's. Now, many will argue, and trust me, I've had this argument a lot, that Forbidden's 1988 debut, "Forbidden Evil" is their best record. No. I'll go on record right now by stating flat out that anyone who makes that claim is wrong, very possibly hearing impaired, and certainly without proper appreciation for quality songwriting. Admittedly the band's final two records weren't all that hot, but despite the strengths of the debut, this follow-up blows it out of the water in every way.

"Twisted Into Form" is probably my single favorite thrash metal record of all time, and is absolutely able to stand right up there with the biggest names of classic thrash in terms of striking an impeccable balance between technicality and sheer aggression with melody and stunningly memorable compositional tactics. I've heard complaints about the vocals in the past, but they never bothered me, and the fact that the band employed upper-range singing as opposed to shouting/yelling vocals really adds to the catchiness of the songs. But let's face it, people: At the end of the day it's all about fucking riffs. And this record is a god damn feast of completely shredding lead runs and intricately woven rhythms that never shy away from chunky picking patterns or relentless energy. I'm sorry, no offense if you fit the bill, but I have a really hard time not thinking that any thrash fan who doesn't appreciate this album is an idiot.

Forbidden "Infinite"
Forbidden "Step by Step"
Forbidden "Tossed Away"

Paul Bostaph most recently joined Exodus, and aside from other ex-members doing time with Nevermore and Testament, the bulk of the lineup's post-Forbidden activities tend to fall into a more rocked out and less noteworthy category. They've taken part in a few of those benefit/glory days reunion shows in recent years as well, but I don't really know much of anything there.

I actually don't own the remastered reissue of "Twisted Into Form" either, but I should probably pick it up sometime out of my sheer adoration of this CD. For you that means this disc isn't so hard to come by at the moment, and you really should give it a happy home in your collection if you dig what you hear. This will always be an underrated classic

@ The End Records

Thine "In Therapy" CD

Posted on Thursday, October 13th, 2005 @ 4:31am » permalink

Thine - In TherapyYep, more downcast tunes to accompany the autumn months. Thine seems a rather strange band. Their first record, "A Town Like This", came out in the late-90's and was simply not very good. An interesting and original fusion of loose black metal influences against strange avant-garde atmospherics and contrasting dynamics, sure, there's no doubt – it was creative work. But the songwriting was honestly on the bland and disjointed side. Thankfully, a whopping four years later, the band practically reinvented themselves with their sophomore tour de force, "In Therapy". I remember being very intrigued by the album cover when this showed up in my mailbox three years ago, and not knowing what to expect, I was quite enamored by the record's moody Katatonia meets Anathema histrionics: Complete with soaring vocal harmonies, melancholic lead lines, and relatively simplistic midpaced chord progressions. Those contrasting dynamics are still in place, as are occasional references to some avant-garde atmospherics, but the songwriting on this outing is absolutely awesome: Catchy and memorable without lacking any emotion or gloomy feeling. A painfully underrated album, too. I eat this shit up, and highly recommend this CD. Seriously, while Thine certainly has their own touch, if you like anything that Katatonia or Anathema have done in recent years, you absolutely must give these guys a shot, as some of these songs are simply incredible:

Thine "In Therapy"
Thine "Contact Point"
Thine "Feel"

Apparently (Thankfully!) the band is still active, though they parted ways with Peaceville Records last year, and haven't released any recorded material in the time since "In Therapy". Their website indicates that recording for a third record should be underway, but details are nominal at best. Hopefully the new material will indeed see the light of day sooner than later… I'm quite eagerly looking forward to it!

As usual, if you dig it, pick it up. This one's also available for a mere $8 brand new from the always impressive folks at The End Records:

@ The End Records

Naglfar "Diabolical" CD

Posted on Monday, October 10th, 2005 @ 5:00am » permalink

Naglfar - DiabolicalI remember when I first heard the name Naglfar almost 10 years ago I laughed my ass off and kind of shook my head thinking, "Ahhh, those black metal bands and their silly names." Well, when I finally heard a couple of songs off of their debut, "Vittra", shortly thereafter, I stopped laughing, and at the time these Swedes became one of the only black metal bands that I truly enjoyed. A few years later Naglfar released "Diabolical", their second full-length, and in blowing most of their contemporaries out of the water with an absolutely impeccable classic, they also sort of screwed themselves in the process: This record is so good, there's simply no way to top it! Hence, sadly, everything the band has done since 1998 has been, in my opinion, increasingly boring. Don't get me wrong, I own all of their output sans their recently released fourth full-length ("Pariah"), but when it all comes down to it I really only listen to the first two records, and 90% of the time it's the masterpiece of "Diabolical" that I choose to pull out.

With this one, it's all about balance. The band somehow managed to unleash an extremely ferocious black metal record that's also surprisingly catchy. The recording is powerful and clear but still has an intriguing bite to it that adds a little acerbity to the mix. The riffs are generally fast as fuck, at times fairly complex, yet always tight and energetic. And so on… "Blades" is simply one of the finest black metal songs of all time, with a completely raging sense of energy and totally memorable songwriting tactics. Quite amazing, really.

Naglfar "Blades"
Naglfar "12'th Rising"
Naglfar "When Autumn Storms Come"

This one's been reissued a few times, and rightfully so. Lucky for you the damn thing's available for less than $6 brand new from The End Records right now!? Who knows why, but jump at that shit!

@ The End Records

In other news, I got my first ever request to remove mp3's on Saturday morning, and in the process I deleted the 1993 Merauder demo as well. I'm going to re-post those songs this week, along with a copy of "Fear of Sin" from those same sessions (which I guess only appeared on later copies of the demo or something), so keep an eye out for that.

Vision of Disorder "s/t" CD

Posted on Thursday, October 6th, 2005 @ 6:14am » permalink

Vision of Disorder - s/tSo this kid writes me a few days ago and asks me if I happen to have one of V.O.D.'s old demos from way back when, the one with "Rhythm of the AK" and such on it. Sadly I don't, and I've never been able to hear it, so if anyone does have it, please do hit me the fuck up so I help this guy out. Many thanks. (Edit: Man, shitloads of people have this demo, thanks so much to everyone who has offered to help me out on this one. Mission accomplished!)

But anyway, this dude's email gets me pullin' out this CD (which, by the way, has some of the most confusingly atrocious cover art ever to grace an otherwise flawless record), and holy shit do I sometimes forget how much ass these guys were kicking all over the place when this shit first dropped in 1996 (on Ray Cappo's Supersoul division of Roadrunner Records). During the two years after the release of this self-titled album Vision of Disorder was about as huge as a hardcore band could come back then. It was right around that time that hardcore was starting to get significantly "popular" for the first time, and I remember V.O.D. would play here in Richmond at least once every six months, if not more. It was insane, but god damnit they were so fucking good. I ate that shit up. Pretty much anyone who's currently in their mid- to late-20's that listened to hardcore 10 years is lying through their fuckin' teeth if they deny having liked V.O.D. Those shows were jam packed with kids just going apeshit, and for good reason. Some of these songs still make me want to fuckin' kill people! Many should be well familiar with these jams already, but for those who somehow missed the boat, this shit is just vicious, I don't give a fuck what anyone says:

Vision of Disorder "Through My Eyes"
Vision of Disorder "D.T.O."
Vision of Disorder "Element"
Vision of Disorder "Viola"

I don't know where these guys went "wrong" so to speak, as they never did blow up to the next level, and their subsequent records couldn't even think about holding a torch to any of their early material (first becoming far more jarring and caustic, then transitioning into more of a sludgy rock vibe), but that's life, I guess. Former V.O.D. vocalist Tim Williams and guitarist Mike Kennedy are in Bloodsimple now, and I really think that record's pretty damn solid. Easily the best thing the two have touched since V.O.D.'s self-titled debut, so look into that shit if you were once a fan. Tim Williams is a fucking scorching vocalist and the Bloodsimple disc certainly continues to nail that point home. You can also score this Vision of Disorder CD for a pretty good price:

@ Amazon.com
@ Half.com

October Tide "Grey Dawn" CD

Posted on Monday, October 3rd, 2005 @ 1:33am » permalink

October Tide - Grey DawnContinuing in the vein of the last post, as the finest month of the autumn season has just begun, here's another band that's perfect for this time of year. October Tide was formed in the late-90's by Jonas Renkse and Fredrik Norrman from the almighty Katatonia. They released October Tide's debut, "Rain Without End", as a duo in 1997, somewhat ironically right around the time when Katatonia was first starting to branch out and morph into their current state – whereas October Tide sounds quite similar to the classic Katatonia of old. This is especially evident on the band's second and final full-length, 1999's "Grey Dawn", on which Mårten Hansen performed vocals. The end result sounds arguably identical to the sort of sound that Katatonia delivered on "Brave Murder Day", though perhaps with an added air of Paradise Lost circa "Shades of God". Those moody midpaced chord progressions, somber lead melodies, and depressive atmospheric undercurrents are all in place:

I learn from this life to hide from humanity, and night has told me how to kill my anxiety. The ghost of my smile dances in the pale, and I know all my efforts most likely will fail…

October Tide "Grey Dawn"
October Tide "Sweetness Dies"
October Tide "Into Deep Sleep"

Sadly both October Tide albums are extremely hard to come by these days, and I myself have never been able to score a copy of "Rain Without End" – which I've never even been fortunate enough to hear. As amazing and well appreciated as Katatonia is (and with the significant number of collections/reissues they've been bestowed), it makes absolutely no fucking sense to me that neither of these CD's has been re-released, and it honestly makes me quite angry considering the demand. Of course, hell, if you ask me, a brand new October Tide record would also be quite nice, but realistically speaking, there's simply no reason why these two albums should be so painfully rare. They almost never even show up on eBay (where a copy of the debut went for an absurd $100+ last month). Come on, someone step up and get these fucking things back out there…

And note: You can also download another song from this record at Darkdose right now. I'm not at all surprised, but hadn't yet noticed that they had posted about this exact same album just two days before me, ha!