If you enjoy(ed) Aversionline, please check out No Echo, a new music site I co-run. Updated daily.

Sworn Enemy, Shattered Realm, and Live by the Fist…

Posted on Tuesday, January 31st, 2006 @ 1:08pm » permalink

Sworn Enemy - The Beginning of the EndI bought "The Beginning of the End", the latest from Queens, NY's Sworn Enemy (who are now off the majors and over at Abacus Recordings), over the weekend and I have to say that it definitely surpassed my expectations. What can I say? I just love that this band is so fucking pissed and their sound really brings that across well. Of course, the overly blunt lyrics to "We Hate" are pretty god damn ridiculous ("What I really hate is music like yours, it makes me wanna smash your head through a door," and so on…) and test my limits since the subject matter is kind of cheesy (I don't really mind such blunt lyrics when it's more of a general expression of frustration or anger or whatever), but other than that this is a ferocious disc that delivers in full – and there are actually some socio-political tinged lyrics happening elsewhere. Basically they've taken their last album and improved upon the production (the drums are still a tad clicky but the guitar tone crushes) while tossing in way more metal. There are loads of badass thrash riffs and unexpected bursts of solos amidst the crunchy 90's styled metallic hardcore breaks, and it actually reminds me a lot of the most recent Stampin' Ground record from a musical standpoint – though these songs are a little shorter and more focused so the energy level never drops off at all. I'm not really diggin' that cover art for some reason, though, I dunno… But you can't judge a book by its cover, right? I actually think I like this album better than their debut. Well done.

Sworn Enemy "Forgotten"
Sworn Enemy "No Second Chances"

I don't know what's up with Abacus' distribution since a lot of my normal stops that should carry this don't have it yet, but it's been out for a week, so pick this shit up and add a little more furious rage to your life:

@ Relapse Records

Shattered Realm - From the Dead End Blocks Where Life Means NothingI'm still a little torn on Eulogy Recordings' recent release of "From the Dead End Blocks Where Life Means Nothing", by Shattered Realm. But I think it's simply because I had really high hopes for the record, and as finicky as my ears are, that can sometimes create problems for me. I mean, fuck, anyone who reads this site knows how ridiculous my fandom of the New Jersey area is, so a band with ex-members of Second to None and Fury of Five in tow? You bet your ass I'm a fan. And shit, man, this one definitely boasts the best album title I've come across in a long ass time. And that cover art? Slick as hell. I fuckin' love it. So what gives? Well, I'm a little bummed that after waiting so damn long for another Shattered Realm full-length this puppy only runs about 22 minutes, but I definitely dig the tunes, so it basically does boil down to my finicky ears. These cats are as pissed as ever and their brand of crunchy, no bullshit metallic hardcore comes from a time before makeup and shitty melodic metal riffs perverted the fusion of the two genres. But the production on this thing's lacking for me, there's just no way around it. Thankfully by the midway point of the record my ears tend to adjust to the mix, and I like that the rhythm section has a prominent punch to it, but… where's the beef!? The guitars just need to be louder and fuller to really carry the weight, you know? At the end of the day it's not that big of a deal, but… were the production not quite as flat the songs would definitely have a much more explosive impact. Hopefully they'll really blow the doors off the joint next time, and hopefully we won't all have to wait as long for album #3!

Shattered Realm "Devil in Disguise"

I'd post another track for sampling purposes, but the label sells mp3 downloads and I don't want to piss anyone off (though I hate mp3's and the thought of buying mp3's over pressed CD's makes me physically ill), so… pick your poison if you're a fan (And you know my vote goes for the tangible disc, fuck this digital shit!):

@ Eulogy Recordings

Live by the Fist - No End in SightAnd last but not least, I have to apologize to whoever sent this CD to me, because I think it's literally been sitting here for like four months or something and I'm just now getting to it! But Live by the Fist is a straightedge band from Brazil and I believe "No End in Sight" is their debut full-length, released by Caustic. Looking at the multi vocal lineup and taking into account their beliefs you'd probably guess that this band seems to be influenced by Path of Resistance, and all the two-minute songs chock full of midpaced power chords and traditional metallic hardcore structures do little to argue against that assumption (though there's a more aggressive modern edge at work vocally). The songwriting could use a hint more variety, and I'd like to hear them use more obvious interplay between the different vocalists, but this is a competent debut, and I wouldn't be surprised if these guys go apeshit live – I mean, shit, there are seven band members! Oh, and their band name is awesome. Sorry, I know it's a little goofy, but I love it. Plus, they share the name with a hilarious 1993 action flick starring Jerry "Golden Boy" Trimble! (And yes, I own the DVD.)

Live by the Fist "The Blame"
Live by the Fist "Live Free"

I haven't been able to find any American distros carrying this CD, but you can try buying it direct from the label or contacting them for further information on their distributors outside of Brazil. I'm guessing it'll be easier to get your hands on it in Europe, though, as I've noticed a definite lack of attention on the Brazilian scene here in the US over the last five years:

@ Caustic

Wartorn and Severe Torture…

Posted on Monday, January 30th, 2006 @ 12:02pm » permalink

Wartorn - The Sanctuary of Moral TurpitudeI gave an advance CD-R of Wartorn's debut, "The Sanctuary of Moral Turpitude", a full review on the old version of the site awhile back, but now that it's finally been officially released by the band I figured I'd give it another pass to try and get more people to check this shit out. These guys are one of the best metal bands to come out of Richmond in quite some time, and despite a few minor (and understandable) shortcomings with the recording due to budgetary constraints they crank out some awesome songwriting that cohesively combines just about every form of death metal you can imagine – from grinding blasts, to moshy grooves, to the classic chunkiness of both American and European styles… or contemporary fits of dissonance and frenzied technicality as well. Sadly the band's had a lot of trouble keeping a stable lineup in place, but they're still going strong, despite 3/5 of the members having been replaced since the time of this recording. But I really hope they start to garner some label interest, because a more fluid and in your face set of production values could allow these cats to unload a real whopper, and I truly believe that Wartorn has a lot to offer if they can just get the right opportunities in front of 'em.

Wartorn "Acts of Treason"
Wartorn "Architect of My Own Misery"

The band's website seems to be down right now, and I'm not sure what they're doing in terms of mailorder at the moment, so if you like what you hear, get in touch via their MySpace page and see what you can do about picking up a copy.

Severe Torture - Fall of the DespisedSevere Torture has been around for longer than I thought, and I actually don't think I've heard any of their material since the "Feasting on Blood" CD back in 2000, which I seem to recall thinking was simply average. Not that the Dutch act is breaking down the walls of the genre these days or anything, but "Fall of the Despised", their latest full-length (and first for Earache, benefits from an excellently beefy recording – plus songwriting that certainly stays true to the traditional face of the genre and seems perhaps more influenced by the Floridian classics than anything else. A great mix of tempos is put forth complementing riffs that capture enough feel to remain interesting throughout, accented by a couple of truly powerful moments of midpaced dissonance (check out the latter chunk of the awesome "End of Christ") and loads of excellent melodic lead breaks. I'm also into the great sense of vocal variation from typical growls to strained midrange snarls that are very reminiscent of Patrick Mameli from fellow Dutch exports Pestilence. In addition to pleasing my old school mentality, Severe Torture definitely keeps up with the times in terms of musicianship and arrangements, but the bottom line is that I like my death metal pretty meaty, so with this record these guys have totally nailed it.

Severe Torture "End of Christ"
Severe Torture "Endless Strain of Cadavers"

You know how it goes, don't be a leech. Pick it up if you're into it:

@ The End Records

Kublai Khan "Annihilation" CD

Posted on Friday, January 27th, 2006 @ 10:12am » permalink

Kublai Khan - AnnihilationThere's not but so much to say about this one. Kublai Khan was formed in the mid-80's by guitarist/vocalist Greg Handevidt, who was the original second guitarist of Megadeth but left the band after a few months and one demo, at which point he moved back home to Minnesota and formed Kublai Khan. Despite the fact that the band's sound does bear quite a few similarities to early Megadeth, it's a shame that the loose lineup connection was sort of their claim to fame, because this is a great 80's thrash record that stands on its own very well. Hell, "Peace Sells…" is the only pre-1990 Megadeth record that's better than "Annihilation", Kublai Khan's sole 31-minute full-length released in 1987 by New Renaissance Records (they recorded just two demos prior to the LP). Apparently the band broke up within a year or two of the album's release, though they reunited in 2003 when "Annihilation" was re-released and had plans to do a new record. I don't think anything came of that, however, and I've never seen the reissue so I don't even know how it stacks up. The mastering on the original pressing is definitely annoyingly quiet, but the songwriting is token old school thrash metal the way it ought to be, so any fan of the time period should dig this shit quite a bit. I love that fucking cover art, too!

Kublai Khan "Mongrel Horde"
Kublai Khan "Passing Away"

Sadly this record is long out of print, and even the reissue is really hard to find. After years of having it on my radar I lucked out and found an original pressing of the CD in the used section of some weird little CD shop for a mere $7. The LP pops up on eBay more often than anything, but this is another thrash gem that's had a hard time receiving its due thanks to very limited availability. Ahhh, the good ol' days…

Set to Explode and 86 Mentality…

Posted on Thursday, January 26th, 2006 @ 12:05pm » permalink

Set to Explode - s/tIt's been a crazy week thus far, so this might be it until Monday, but these are such quick blasts that I was able to crank out an update today. Among the latest releases from Grave Mistake Records, a great little hardcore label in my area, it's nice to finally see some CD's! The label predominantly focuses on releasing quality 7" EP's, but since I so rarely listen to vinyl these days I have to confess preferring the convenience of CD's every time at this point.

Speaking of which, the debut EP from Washington, DC's Set to Explode is available on both vinyl and CD, containing a mere six tracks in less than 10 minutes. The band features ex-members of Striking Distance and Worn Thin, among others, and dishes out quick bursts of early-80's styled hardcore that definitely has more of a punk rock edge to it than most listeners might expect. This helps to differentiate Set to Explode from your usual batch of diehard old school hardcore bands, while still staying totally true to the classic framework of the genre without breaking tradition or experimenting with "modern" accoutrements (aside from the fact that recording is nice and crisp). This particular track is a bit longer than the others, and best exemplifies the punk-influenced angle:

Set to Explode "Never Give In"

If you dig it, grab it straight from the label for about a buck a song:

@ Grave Mistake Records

86 Mentality - Goin' Nowhere FastNext up it's 86 Mentality's "Goin' Nowhere Fast", which basically contains everything the band has recorded thus far: 19 tracks culled from their self-titled 7" (2004) and the "On the Loose" 7" (2005), plus two unreleased tracks from the "On the Loose" sessions, a 2003 demo track, covers by the 4-Skins and S.O.A., and a couple of live tracks to boot. These guys are also from DC but crank out a slightly different brand of classic hardcore with more of a gruff sort of skinhead sounding edge to it, not to mention a more "dated" tone to the production that has a pretty authentic ring to it. Nothing fancy here, just basic song structures with slightly dirty performances that keep it simple:

86 Mentality "Escape"
86 Mentality "Chemical Threat"

Same story, the label sells this jam for less than $9, so why go anywhere else? If you like it, buy it:

@ Grave Mistake Records

Train of Thought "Bliss" CD

Posted on Tuesday, January 24th, 2006 @ 9:36am » permalink

Train of Thought - BlissHoly shit had I been wishing this would happen for fuckin' eight or nine years now! About a month ago I started getting a handful of emails out of nowhere from people asking me about the alleged release of a posthumous Train of Thought CD, but despite being an obsessive fan of the band I had heard nothing of it whatsoever. An intensive Google search turned up shitloads of distros carrying a Train of Thought CD that did seem to fit the bill… but every single one of them was located in Japan!? Go figure. But sure enough, additional emails confirmed that this long overdue CD collects the painfully scant seven tracks that this New Jersey quintet offered up in their brief two-year run from 1995 – 1997. It kills me to think that these guys recorded less than a mere half-hour of material, but every song is fucking flawless, so I'll take what I can get since I've been singing their praises for years and years now.

Train of Thought formed from the ashes of Bulldoze, with 4/5 of the lineup carrying on in a much more melodic direction that yielded a four-song self-titled demo in 1995, followed by compilation appearances on "East Coast Assault II" and "The Harder They Come" in 1997. Their style tossed in loads of killer vocal harmonies and subtly technical flare within a backbone that flirted with straightforward metallic hardcore – though nothing as stripped down or in your face as Bulldoze by any means. The slick basslines were wildly prominent throughout the tracks, and the overall songwriting emphasized a melodic edge that was unparalleled at the time. It sounds like all of the songs might have been recorded during the same sessions, sans "Self Inflicted", which was their final track to see the light of day.

I have no clue what the deal is with this CD, though. It might have been pressed up for the band's one-off reunion show last year, but whatever the case, and I hate to say it, but it honestly looks like complete shit and contains no lyrics and very little information. A shame considering how truly amazing this band was, but it sounds great compared to the original demo cassette, and since these songs are all totally amazing, again – I'll take what I can get. Train of Thought was by far one of the most underrated bands of the late-90's, and easily remains my favorite band to have appeared on the massive "East Coast Assault II" collection. Here's one completely stunning track from said compilation as well as another from the demo:

Train of Thought "Bliss"
Train of Thought "Blind to the Facts"

Three of these cats (Zack Thorne – guitar, Chris Golas – drums, and Puda – vocals) are now in the almighty Agents of Man, who just happens to be one of my absolute favorite bands of the present, and they sound almost identical to Train of Thought, so if you dig this shit you should look into 'em for sure. I'd also like to jam this CD straight up the ass of every incompetent halfwit "reviewer" who has perpetuated the sorely unfounded claims that Agents of Man is an unoriginal metalcore act that supposedly sounds similar to Killswitch Engage or whatnot. All such claims are complete and absolute bullshit and even a cursory listen to this Train of Thought material solidifies what I've been saying all along: That these guys have a sound that's all their own and have been doing this shit for longer than all of those new jack bands have even existed. If you're too deaf to hear the distinctions then you're a worthless peon and deserve to get smacked the fuck up. The end.

Visual inefficiencies aside, I highly encourage you to get a hold of this disc if the above tracks suit your tastes. It's $10ppd in the US, and I assume a few bucks more elsewhere. Shoot an email to [email protected] for ordering information. I fuckin' love this shit. This thing should've hit the streets so damn long ago… I seriously think there's something wrong with people who don't dig this band. I just can't handle it!

Municipal Waste "Hazardous Mutation" CD

Posted on Monday, January 23rd, 2006 @ 12:57pm » permalink

Municipal Waste - Hazardous MutationI still remember years and years ago, before I became a complete and total hermit, being at a house show and wearing an Overkill t-shirt or something, when some kid comes up to me and tells me about his plans to start a classic crossover styled thrash metal band with some friends. They were going to call it Municipal Waste, and I believe he turned out to be their original drummer. Never in a million years did I image that they'd not only pull it off, but end up on Earache as pretty much the only band on their entire roster that represents the label's absolutely classic heritage. And with Ed Repka cover art, no less!? I'm sold.

As if song titles like "The Thrashin' of the Christ" and "Bangover" weren't enough, this is definitely the band's tightest and most efficient offering to date, plowing through 15 tracks in just 26 minutes with tons of energetic speeds and ripping vocal patterns that totally throw you back to the late-80's crossover style, the chief difference being that the recording has a crispier edge that doesn't really sound "dated" back to that particular time period. The addition of Dave Witte on drums certain adds some punch in terms of sheer precision and killer fills, and yes, as I was reminded after my contemporary thrash rant last week, Municipal Waste is among the select few bands whose vocalists actually stay true to the classics and simply shout and yell without any added "extreme" nonsense. You can't lose. Good times, my friends… good times.

Municipal Waste "The Thrashin' of the Christ"
Municipal Waste "Mind Eraser"

As usual I waited way too long to grab this one, and then waited even longer before I finally got around to posting about it, so if you're among those who haven't yet been "wasted", make the grab and let the circle pits ensue:

@ The End Records

Second to None and E.Town Concrete…

Posted on Thursday, January 19th, 2006 @ 12:29pm » permalink

Second to None/E.Town Concrete - splitAnd to think, just two days ago I was posting about Boilermaker. What a switch, eh? I've gotta keep this short because I have little time, but this split 7" sees the coupling of two of New Jersey's finest, not to mention two of the only hardcore bands to have effectively implemented hip-hop vocal stylings, each dropping one exclusive track and one track that was later re-recorded. Of course, the record was released by Back ta Basics, so the vinyl is rough quality, the packaging is total shit, the tracklist is out of order, the insert is just a xeroxed ad for the label as opposed to lyrics or band information, etc. But what can you do? I remember when I first bought this EP I didn't like Second to None at all, but listening back to it now I don't know what the hell was wrong me with, I guess I just liked E.Town Concrete so much that I wasn't attentive enough to side A. I know a lot of people hate this stuff but fuck that, both of these bands are great, so get over it. It's a damn shame a couple of these tracks only appear on this record…

1. Second to None "Two Face Punk"
2. Second to None "Victimized"
3. E.Town Concrete "Just Watch Your Step"
4. E.Town Concrete "Do You See?"

If you like these tracks then definitely pick up Second to None's "Defeat" CD on Cartel Records, as well as anything E.Town's ever done, especially their debut, "Time 2 Shine", which is a god damn classic.

E.Town Concrete - Just Move ItAs a bonus, here's E.Town Concrete's painfully rare "Just Move It" demo, their debut recordings from 1995. The sound quality is sort of annoying, but these songs are fucking killer, and the band is insane for not having re-recorded "E.Town Concrete" and "This Is It" on their debut CD. Insane, I tell you! "Beat you like a drum to show you where I'm from!"

1. "Full Effect"
2. "Hindsight"
3. "E.Town Concrete"
4. "This Is It"
5. "Front St."

Confessor and Paradise Lost…

Posted on Wednesday, January 18th, 2006 @ 3:06pm » permalink

Confessor - UnraveledI can tend to be a slacker, so it took me far, far too long to finally pick up "Unraveled", the long-awaited new full-length from North Carolina's absolutely legendary Confessor, released by Season of Mist. It's hard to believe that this is only the band's second record within a span of over 15 years – spurred on by unfortunate circumstances when 4/5 of their original lineup reunited in 2002 for some shows to benefit the family of their former guitarist, Ivan Colon, after his unfortunate passing due to cardiac complications.

As hinted at on the "Blueprint Soul" and "Sour Times" EP's, this material is certainly more tangible and streamlined than the band's 1991 Earache debut, "Condemned": An absolute cult classic in every sense with its completely insane time signatures and almost impossible to trace math metal rhythmic intricacies. The result lends a slightly sludgier edge to a lot of the material that provides more credibility to some of the "doom" related tags that have been thrown the band's way here and there over the years; while vocalist Scott Jeffreys has certainly pulled in the reigns and gained more control over his high-pitched yet gloomy wails. While I can't help but find myself longing for a little more of the off the wall math metal mastery the band explored in their earlier days, there are still complex rhythmic flurries aplenty here, and even a cursory focus on Steve "One of the Greatest Drummers to Have Ever Walked the Planet" Shelton's drumming should of course crack a smile for the band's longtime fans (As should the bonus re-recording of "The Secret" from 1990's "Metal Massacre 10" compilation! Fuck yes!). But while "Condemned" was certainly chock full of memorable moments, I'd definitely argue that Confessor's overall songsmanship has benefited from this more fluid delivery, and they haven't surrendered any of their inimitable characteristics either. It's pretty much impossible for a band in this position to top a record like "Condemned", but to come back so many years later with a follow-up as solidly executed (not to mention produced – the recording is fuckin' great) as "Unraveled" is a damn admirable feat, indeed.

Confessor "Hibernation"

I'm sure there are other older Confessor fans such as myself who have also slept on buying this puppy for awhile now, so if you enjoy this stuff then make the grab and give these guys the incentive to stick around and keep cranking out more tunes:

@ The End Records

Paradise Lost - s/tI can't even remember what label sent me the latest self-titled effort from Paradise Lost, but I think it was Abacus Recordings? Whatever the case, this is the only Paradise Lost record from the last 10 years that I own, I pretty much gave up on the band when they started meandering around after "Draconian Times". I've actually been looking into buying all of those in between records for a few years now 'cause I'm a pretty loyal guy and there are some strong songs on those discs, but Paradise Lost has been inexplicably plagued with atrocious US distribution for several years now. Speaking of which, it took forever for this thing to see an American release, and I can't really imagine the "logic" behind Century Media's decision to dump a legendary UK metal band over to a predominantly hardcore/metalcore imprint like Abacus (who scarcely mentions this release on their site at all), but whatever.

What matters is that this is a great fuckin' record, I'm really loving it. A total return to form for a band that's been around for coming up on 20 years now. Overall it's possible that the songwriting isn't quite as consistently powerful here as it was on "Icon" or "Draconian Times", but at least for now the band has definitely made the conscious decision to take a much more stripped down and back to basics approach to the writing and performances – rediscovering their patented brand of rocked out midpaced rhythms and melodic lead lines that of course laid the groundwork for what masterful acts such as Katatonia are doing these days. It's nothing fancy, really – just straightforward, memorable song structures and a number of incredibly memorable tunes. Great, great recording and artwork, too! Since I honestly don't appreciate the band's pre-"Shades of God" work but so much I'd actually place this self-titled effort among their three best records. Not too shabby for their 10th full-length, eh!?

Paradise Lost "Sun Fading"
Paradise Lost "Forever After"
Paradise Lost "Redshift"

As mentioned I can't really locate any real mention of this CD on Abacus Recordings' website outside of Google's cache, and Amazon.com only seems to stock the import edition of the CD. It's not in stock at The End Records either, which I hope is due to the strength of the record actually making some sales? It's out there, though, and for reasonable prices, so… longtime fans that abandoned Paradise Lost in the mid-90's should turn a forgiving ear in this direction, because they've redeemed themselves in full:

@ Relapse Records

Boilermaker "Leucadia" CD

Posted on Tuesday, January 17th, 2006 @ 12:58pm » permalink

Boilermaker - LeucadiaWhile hailed as somewhat of an influential underground icon in certain circles, Boilermaker certainly never achieved anywhere close to the exposure that they should have, and remains criminally underrated to this day. I'd be surprised if many people reading this are familiar with the band, but when I first encountered the beautiful "Pathos Delay" on an Extent Fanzine sampler CD way back when I completely flipped out. It remains my favorite Boilermaker track to this day, and is actually one of the most striking and gutwrenching songs I've ever heard in my life. Despite heavy searching it took about three or four years for me to finally get the chance to hear more from the band, which was when the retrospective 17-track "Leucadia" collection CD was released in 2001, and of course I was thrilled by the rather subdued yet completely inventive and unique emo/indie rock that greeted me.

The trio formed in the general vicinity of San Diego in 1992 and released three full-lengths throughout the 90s: "Watercourse" (1994), "In Wallace's Shadow" (1996), and "Untitled" (1998). Their style was a generally moody and restrained brand of material that builds largely around slow to midpaced clean guitars with occasional forays into louder distorted territory or the rare occurrence of something a little zippier and more energetic (Read: A lot of this shit is depressing!). They definitely have that jangly sort of edge to their sound, which is something that I tend to associate with the San Diego area in that particular time period, but like some of the other finer outfits from the region their songwriting manages to weave that certain rugged sense of looseness or noisiness within a fluid framework that always feels controlled. The amazing vocals certainly play a key role in identifying the band's distinctive style, and I'd actually rank bassist/vocalist Terrin Durfey as one of the best vocalists to have ever graced this particular genre – no doubt about it.

The band never officially broke up, they just sort of drifted apart after their final record – during which time Durfey actually beat out a bout of cancer. They regrouped in late-2000 after regaining the rights to their full-lengths and recorded two new tracks to bookend the "Leucadia" release. Apparently they had every intention of continuing to write and record new music, but unfortunately it seems as though they may have simply faded away once again? Either way, these guys were a real diamond in the rough, so I hope some of you appreciate this material as much as I do. Here's one track from each album as well as one of the exclusive tracks from "Leucadia":

Boilermaker "Pathos Delay"
Boilermaker "Switch"
Boilermaker "Whitewash"
Boilermaker "Last Stop on the Way to Vegas"

Now, as a general rule of thumb, I do not endorse "best of" collection CD's at all. I usually hate them in fact. Sure, sometimes it makes sense – of course Journey's "Greatest Hits" CD is impeccable, whereas it's far from mandatory to own every single one of their 10+ studio albums – but for the most part I find the notion that certain portions of an album are throwaways or unessential filler to be an insulting and dangerous practice that fuels the excruciatingly irritating single-based culture of the larger music world. This is especially true for a band like Boilermaker that only released three full-lengths. However, some of these records are so fucking hard to find (I've never even been able to track down a complete list of Boilermaker's discography that includes 7"s and compilation appearances) that there's almost no other choice in this case, and in fact it wasn't until a couple of years after the release of this collection that I was finally able to obtain my first official Boilermaker full-length. Some eight or nine years after discovering the band, I've still never encountered a single copy of their debut CD, and since "Leucadia" basically includes half of each record (five songs apiece from the full-lengths plus two brand new tracks), well… why not? While I would've preferred it had the band re-released each record in complete form, this is a very strong and comprehensive (considering the circumstances) overview of Boilermaker's recorded output throughout the 90's, not to mention the easiest of their releases to purchase:

@ Amazon.com
@ Half.com

So long, not long before I'm gone. I don't want you to drive me away. I don't want to waste my time. I don't want to waste away. Mow the lawn the grass has gotten so long I can't walk through it. Clip your wings I don't want you to fly away.

The Starting Point, Fight Amputation, and Celebrity Murders…

Posted on Monday, January 16th, 2006 @ 11:18am » permalink

The Starting Point - It's Something You LearnThe Starting Point are from California and have recently self-released their debut "full-length" (though in my mind it's really more of an EP at just 18 minutes for its 10 tracks), which includes eight brand new songs plus two re-recorded tunes from their split 7" with Drop It. I'd say their style is intensely melodic hardcore built around an old school framework that definitely carries with it a modern sound comparable to bits and pieces of certain contemporaries like With Honor or Go it Alone. While not wholly original, this is absolutely a band that gets my hopes up for the future (as their performances tighten up and whatnot), as the well-focused songwriting demonstrated herein keeps things short but sweet while moving along with a strong energy level and a sense of feeling that hits the spot. Many know by now that I'm a total sucker for lightly dissonant arpeggio riffs and thrashy picking patterns all that shit, so this kind of stuff always catches my ear and makes me take notice. I'll certainly be looking forward to seeing where these kids head next…

The Starting Point "Since the Third"
The Starting Point "High Society"

Like it? Buy it:

@ RevHQ

Fight Amputation - Ugly Kids Doing Ugly ThingsFight Amputation has also semi self-released their latest EP, "Ugly Kids Doing Ugly Things", with Iron Age handling the CD and the band taking on the vinyl edition. While I'm not quite as into this material as what they did on their split 7" with Gunna Vahm, the songwriting from this outing sees the Pennsylvania act taking a much more original turn – abandoning most all of the His Hero is Gone styled riffage in favor of a couple of remaining hints at energetic traditional hardcore with a controlled air of noisiness, while pounding rhythms and atypical little chord progressions run the show. I think the dryness of the recording is what's leaving a little to be desired here, as some of the clarity and crunch is lost in the shuffle with the instruments all blurring together so much, but they're damn close. I'm really looking to hear these cats do a full-length, though, as these short little bursts just aren't quite enough to get the full effect of what the band is capable of unloading with their brand of bleak and dissonant hardcore/punk. Damn sure another young band to keep an eye on.

Fight Amputation "American Youth"

I think you've gotta email either the band or the label based on the format you'd prefer for this EP, and you can find that information at the band's site:

@ Fight Amputation

Celebrity Murders - Time to Kill SpaceLast but not least is another debut full-length, this time from New York's Celebrity Murders on Chainsaw Safety Records. "Time to Kill Space" drops about a half-hour of generally fast and raw hardcore (recorded 100% analog, by the way) that shifts from classic early-80's styled blasts of aggressive three-chord hardcore to noisier and more dissonant influences that wind around and lend a more contemporary edge to things – all the while with pissed vocals that pretty much never stray from straight up yelling. Occasionally they'll slow things down for brief moments, however (as in the impeccable "War on the Telephone"), and I'd actually kill to hear them venture off in that direction more often, because those quick snippets really grab my attention every time – heavy, but without sounding metal to me at all. Some of these jams could really be the sign of better things to come:

Celebrity Murders "War on the Telephone"
Celebrity Murders "Bad Credit"
Celebrity Murders "All Hail, Glacier!"

Once more, if you enjoy the music, make the purchase:

@ RevHQ

And on a totally unrelated note, it's ranting time… so, here it goes: Why the fuck is it that almost no thrash metal bands post-1995 seem to be able to grasp the concept that back in the day when thrash rightfully ruled the world, the bands' vocalists just shouted or yelled – maybe in key, maybe not? They didn't try to do this snarling, pseudo death metal bullshit or force an overly extreme edge of acerbity into their vocals, they just did what came naturally and fit the music. And it worked! It fucking worked! So why is it that there are almost no contemporary bands that draw upon those classic thrash musical influences who follow suit with the vocals? Yes, yes, I know there are some bands out there, a select few, who know how to pull it off properly (thank you kindly, Avenger of Blood), but sadly these are not the bands who are getting much press and attention. What brings this on, you ask? Well, I hate to single anyone out, but I keep seeing ads and reviews for this Demericious band all over the place that basically refer to them as fast thrash that sounds a lot like earlier Slayer. Well, Metal Blade happened to send me a three-song sampler CD so I was curious to check it out, and what did I find? Great music that really does stay pretty close in line with the late-80's/early-90's sound of American thrash… but terrible vocals that just sound completely generic and forced in terms of matching those modern, post-Swedish invasion sneers. Seriously, when the first track kicked off I was psyched, I was already gearing up to make the buy. I fucking love thrash metal and any band who can still capture that sound today gets major props from my end, but son of a bitch, as soon as those vocals kicked in I was totally heartbroken… stunned once again by a band that can't follow through. Oh well, what can you do? They were so damn close…

Oh, and Early Man is fucking overrated. I tend to be unfairly biased against the hipster duo frenzy as it is, but god damnit, man, I don't buy their bio one bit, and even if it were to be true, it's the same deal: Pretty damn solid music, but someone should smack the vocalist and tell him to keep his half-assed Ozzy karaoke howls to himself and just stick to the riffs. Maybe if they got a bassist who could also actually deliver the goods vocally they'd be a truly good (if not "ironic") band. Although, somehow riding the wave of the whole two-man band trend has served them very well. Where is justice? Where…?

Orange 9mm "Driver Not Included" CD

Posted on Friday, January 13th, 2006 @ 11:15am » permalink

Orange 9mm - Driver Not IncludedHere's another one that's definitely way up there in terms of being one of the most frequently played CD's in my entire collection. Probably best known for being vocalist Chaka Malik's focus post-Burn, as he was the mainstay amongst almost constant lineup changes, Orange 9mm formed in the early-90's and released two EP's and three full-lengths before all was said and done sometime around late-1999/2000 or so – at which point the band sort of seemed to fizzle away.

"Driver Not Included" is the key essential classic amongst the band's output. I bought this shit the day it came out it's lingered around in my regular rotation for over a decade now – a flawless album on every level: Amazing lyrics, perfect production, exceptionally awesome songwriting, etc. In my mind this is one of the greatest post-hardcore releases of all time, and one that truly exemplifies all of the finest traits of the genre with its intensely rhythmic nature that's loaded with dissonant guitar textures that occasionally border on being noisy (but never uncontrolled). They took a little flak from some listeners due to the hip-hop influenced flow of some of the vocal arrangements, but in my opinion Orange 9mm handled those influences better than just about anyone could ever hope to, and while it was a distinct benefit in the end, it wasn't really as much a part of their core sound as some would have you believe. What can I say? A totally badass band, and I fucking worship this record. "Can't Decide" is probably one of my top 10 favorite songs… ever since I was a kid. You absolutely can't go wrong with this album.

Stand real close to me and do just like I do open your mind and cock the trigger back far pull it at the point where you feel most pain pull it at the point where you feel most alive I can't live life's so dirty we're so lost standing on the edge of our lives without a dime or a thought or a dream dizzy just crying to fall head over heels in love with something…

I guess this one's also officially out of print these days, but since there are so many inconceivably stupid people in the world you can benefit from their mental incapacities by finding the disc all over the place for less than a buck. Do yourself a favor and make the grab:

@ Amazon.com
@ Half.com

Gaurithoth and Neuron…

Posted on Thursday, January 12th, 2006 @ 11:19am » permalink

Gaurithoth - PerverseAlright, buckle up, motherfuckers, it's time to be floored by the two latest masterpieces from Crimes Against Humanity Records. Seriously, this label has picked up steam in the past with its diverse roster of releases, but a couple from this latest batch really take the fucking cake. First up is Gaurithoth (Finland), whose debut full-length, "Perverse", throws down 38 minutes of their self-proclaimed "satanic perverse black latex metal", whatever the hell that means. Truly, these god damn black metal bands really need to cut the shit and realize that tongue-in-cheek humor is just not the way to go with this mess. I mean, this record absolutely shreds with perfectly executed black metal that blends fierce speeds and lightly dissonant midpaced fare with a dual vocal attack and a crisp recording. The shit totally smokes, I love it. But these friggin' jackasses all have inexcusably retarded "names" like V.W. Hellboozer, Anal Master, and Wargasmaster (to name but a few); not to mention a couple of similarly downright silly song titles like "Daughter of Hell (Satan's Bitch Pt. 4)", and that kind of shit just makes me cringe. I'm not totally clear on why they're calling this their "debut" album since they did an eight-track release called "Satanic Perverse Black Latex Metal" (there we go… again) in 1998 which seems like it'd be a full-length, but who knows? Either way, aside from painfully testing the limits of how much complete and total ridiculousness I can stomach, the music wins me over (okay, the cover art rules, too) without fail thanks to excellent songwriting and tight performances. Fans of the genre should eat these jams up…

Gaurithoth "Myrkynkylväjä"
Gaurithoth "Skullcrusher"

You might as well grab this one straight from the label as their distro's service is totally solid and you'll have a damn hard time beating their prices, too:

@ Crimes Against Humanity Records

Neuron - GleichschrittAnd as if that weren't enough, "Gleichschritt", the debut full-length from German socio-political grinders Neuron, blends textbook grindcore mastery with just the right amount of death metal – which should please anyone who thinks the idea of classic Brutal Truth battling against the early days of Pestilence while the best Polish grindcore acts of the last five years cheer them on sounds like a good time. (And trust me, it does!) These guys used to be called Fleischwolf but changed their name after a slight lineup change, and I'm damn glad they kept at it, because when those German grindcore bands hit their stride they don't screw around. This fuckin' thing unloads 16 tracks that average about two-and-a-half minutes apiece and churn out relentless change-ups between traditional speeds and subtly fucked up arrangements that remain memorable while still tossing around dissonant chord phrasings and excellently strained vocals (in German, though English translations are provided). I sincerely hope this band starts garnering more attention, because this is without a doubt some of the most impeccably ferocious grindcore I've heard in a long time. Great songs, great recording… I'm all over this one!

Neuron "Wirklichkeitskontrolle"
Neuron "Terror"
Neuron "Freiheit"

Same story: If you dig it, support the band and the label with a purchase. And tell your fuckin' friends about these cats, 'cause this band fuckin' kills! I can't say enough good things about this record…

@ Crimes Against Humanity Records

Hellmotel, Kayo Dot, and Sourvein…

Posted on Tuesday, January 10th, 2006 @ 1:01pm » permalink

Well, this week has started off to be a real fuckin' nightmare, so I'm trying to cram a bunch in today in case any other shitstorms come my way later in the week that might prevent me from posting. I also haven't been able to write as much as I'd like about the records that I'm covering lately, which drives me nuts, but… you can still hear the tunes and get exposed to this shit, and that's what really matters, so… whatever.

Hellmotel -  Hang Us YoungAnyway, first up is Hellmotel's "Hang Us Young" from the always awesome Radar Swarm label. These guys are from France and formed in late-2004 from the ashes of Judoboy, so apparently they simply lack the proper taste for good band names, heh! This full-length is their debut release, and since it was originally intended to be a Judoboy record they got everything together within a mere six months of transitioning into the Hellmotel name. While this is certainly some very Converge influenced material, especially vocally, the music tends to be slightly more graspable and subtly rocked out in its use of dissonant chord phrasings and grating noisiness. But as with many French acts within this realm they really know how to pull this shit off right and cover a lot of ground without sounding disjointed (check out the impeccable "In a Hut With God"). There's even a little traditional hardcore in there as well, they just fuck with it to make it less direct. Sure, they're not necessarily all that original, but there's no denying that they're way better than average in terms of songwriting, and that really goes a long way for me. I'm sold.

Hellmotel "In a Hut With God"
Hellmotel "A New Saw: The Rustiest Tools"

I'm not seeing this one in any US distros just yet, but the label's trustworthy so you can order direct. It's a little pricy considering shipping costs suck these days, but you could try asking about US distribution as well:

@ Radar Swarm

Kayo Dot - Dowsing Anemone With Copper TongueRecently issued by the ever-expanding Robotic Empire roster is the second full-length from Boston's Kayo Dot, "Dowsing Anemone With Copper Tongue", which boasts an hour's worth of their relaxingly-ambient-to-borderline-irritatingly-noisy avant-garde weirdo metal in a mere five tracks that run anywhere from seven to 18 minutes! This is actually my first significant exposure to the band as I was honestly a little let down when I first heard them, since I was a massive fan of the core's prior outfit, Maudlin of the Well. It's not that their sound is terribly far removed, but Maudlin of the Well was one of the first new bands that really floored the hell out of me six years ago when I first started this site, and Kayo Dot's sound marks just enough of a progression to where it might not immediately sink in. Thus, being the stubborn ass that I am, they sort of slipped past me after that initial encounter. I'm not a big fan of horns (though they're generally very well maneuvered within), and some of the vocals can get pretty annoying on this thing, but their intriguing blend of wacky jazz, lush and fluid atmospherics, and well placed bursts of expansive heaviness is artsy without abandoning its cohesive sense of feeling, and that's crucially important in my book… Aside from the remaining similarities to Maudlin of the Well, there's no one that sounds like Kayo Dot. No one.

Kayo Dot "Gemini Becoming the Tripod"

This is another that you might as well pick up direct from the label both in terms of price and service:

@ Robotic Empire

Sourvein - Emerald VultureI've read that "Emerald Vulture" is the first in a series of three planned EP's from Sourvein, which I believe will all be released by This Dark Reign. The band has apparently endured another round of lineup shifts seeing as Liz Buckingham is no longer present, and what with past relocations from North Carolina to New Orleans to Texas I'm not even sure where the band calls home these days! But these four tracks were written and recorded in a mere five days in March of 2005 down in Hampton, VA with Beaten Back to Pure's Vince Burke – serving to remind me once again that I don't own as much Sourvein as I should, and in fact I tend to neglect this genre a little too often in my listening habits as so few bands really grab my attention. That's not to say that Sourvein's overflowing with innovation or anything, but if it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? When it comes to those sludgy southern-tinged riffs, pounding percussion, mangled vocal sneers, and naturally warm and gritty recordings, this band has become a dependable institution, and they've yet to disappoint. Look for a very consistent 28-minute pummeling here, culminating with the 13+ minute epic "Heart of Ebon". Good stuff.

Sourvein "Blessed"

This one seems a little pricy for an EP at most of the distributors that I checked, but once more the label's selling it for the lowest price, so snag it straight from the source and keep your eyes peeled for the two subsequent Sourvein EP's that should be hitting the streets sometime this year:

@ This Dark Reign

On an unrelated note, Andrew from the Australian label Assimilation Cartel got in touch with me after the Texas is the Reason post and is looking for any live audio or video from either Solea or Samiam for some projects that he's putting together, including a Samiam DVD, so if anyone can help him out, shoot him a line. Thanks!

As it Stands "World That Was" 7"

Posted on Friday, January 6th, 2006 @ 12:30pm » permalink

As it Stands - World That WasEven though their vocalist went on to front Mayday, who did alright in terms of making a name for themselves, As it Stands has remained all too unknown for well over a decade now. The band formed not far from my area of Virginia in the late-80's, and I can definitely say that I wish I was old enough to have been around for this stuff when the band was active, but they called it quits a couple of years before I started transitioning more heavily into hardcore from metal. Their brand of hardcore contains a little more than the average dose of a metallic edge than you'd expect given the time period, and definitely flirts with a couple of crossover styled influences on occasion (granted most of the material is a little more midpaced than the crossover boom), so it's right up my fucking alley! All they released was a track on the "Living on the Edge" compilation 7" (1989), a 1989 demo, a 1990 demo, and the "World That Was" 7" (1991, repressed in 1995). Here's a quick rundown of the band's history from former bassist Chris Wade, the tunes are later down in the post…

As it Stands was the first "real band" of all of its members. Lance McLeod (later of Mayday, now owner of Devotion Tattoo in Florida), Craig Moore, Craig Henry (later of Façade Burned Black and Time Flies), Tony Frasca, and myself (Chris Wade, later of Hose.Got.Cable, Orlock, and presently in The Wades) began playing and recording in 1989 in Yorktown, VA. We were inspired mostly by contemporaries like Killing Time, Sick of it All, Outburst, and Born Against – with a twist of Slayer and the Misfits.

We played our first show on October 22, 1989 with Four Walls Falling, which led to the offer from Four Walls Falling vocalist Taylor Steele to record five songs for a 7". We recorded at Winter Sound in Hayes, VA with Bob Gurske (who did Avail's "Live at the King's Head Inn") but ended up releasing the songs as a demo when Taylor couldn't find funding for his label.

Most of us were in high school but we managed to play in Richmond, VA and DC a few times and record "Resist" for a compilation (1989's "Living on the Edge" 7" with Device, Dunamis, and our friends Step Aside). When the record was reviewed in Maximumrocknroll the reviewer mixed up the names and called us Resist and labeled the song "As it Stands", which led to a minute of controversy when the singer from Resist wrote in and bitched and agreed. I guess with Maximumrocknroll we sucked.

Then we played the legendary Safari Club with Killing Time and Judge. That was a big deal for us, you know, as 18-year-olds back then.

A year later a second 7" offer came from a guy in Ohio, along with a check for the recording costs. We recorded at Ear Works in Virginia Beach with a guy named Robert Smith (not from The Cure, of course). Craig Henry, the only guitarist at the time (the other Craig was out of the picture by then), paid to go back and redo some guitar parts. He sent this guy in Ohio the new mix and kept the old one. We never heard from the guy again.

As it Stands broke up shortly afterwards.

A year later I was at VCU in Richmond and heard from a friend that there was an As it Stands 7" at Plan 9 Records, so of course I went and bought one! It had been put out by Endgame Records and was their first release. I'm still not sure exactly how it came about, but he got the original mix from Craig and put that out. No one even owns a cassette copy of the remix with the "better" guitar parts, to my knowledge.

The very next record that dude put out was the Integrity/Mayday split, and that release did so well that the label stuck around, became Game Two Records, and put out more releases. So at some point they re-released the As it Stands 7" as sort of a commemorative thing, with totally new artwork but the exact same recording. It even had the same labels on the vinyl (a picture of Porcell accompanied by the message, "Nice tan, John.").

So that's that. We all stay in touch, especially me and Tony, as we were the first to play together and the rest followed… plus we were the two "longhairs" in the band, ha, ha.

Here's the "World That Was" 7" from 1991. Enjoy…

1. "Overpower"
2. "Blood Ties"
3. "Confinement"
4. "Union With the Absolute"
5. "Temperance"

And here's their track from the "Living on the Edge" compilation 7" in 1989, which, by the way, has some "impeccably" blunt lyrics. I love it! "Resist! I'm pissed! Resist! Suck my fucking dick!" Ahhh, the 80's, man…

As it Stands "Resist"

Of course all this stuff is long out of print and seems pretty hard to come by regardless of pressing, so many thanks to Chris Wade for the information, not to mention hooking me up with a copy of the 7" repress as well as the compilation track!

Will to Live and Endless Fight…

Posted on Thursday, January 5th, 2006 @ 10:37am » permalink

Will to Live - Tested and TrueI'll admit that when it comes to current metallic hardcore I've been pretty bored with most of what I've heard in the last six months or so, which is why I so often find myself turning back to the 90's bands. However, in a recent string of releases the rather prolific Spook City Records has really hit the mark with the "Tested and True" EP from Will to Live, which is by far one of the label's strongest offerings to date. The band hails from Texas and this is the first I've heard from 'em, so I don't know if it's their debut or not (for some reason the band's website is blocked as a "sex" site by the wholly inaccurate security settings at my job), but damn does this thing make its mark straight off the bat with a killer sounding recording (If only that snare had more of a natural resonance to it!) and plenty of chugging breaks amidst the faster power chords and picking patterns. Looking at the big picture the band doesn't particularly offer anything new on a musical level, but the sheer force and memorability of the songwriting makes a solid first impression that sticks with you, and that damn sure counts for a lot. Also worth noting is the fact that the lyrics are better than average in terms of having a pissed edge, but sticking to a more reflective approach as opposed to all the tired hardass material that tends to go hand in hand with much of this genre – which definitely furthers this band's edge. A mere seven songs in 17 minutes really leaves you wanting more, but that's not a bad place to be!

Will to Live "All of the Above"
Will to Live "Every Strike"

Spook City's exclusively distributed by Lumberjack, who I don't use that often simply out of habit, but at $7.50 you can't lose, so pick this up and keep your eyes peeled for more from Will to Live:

@ Lumberjack Distribution

Endless Fight - Back to the FrontAlso solid from Spook City's latest batch is the debut full-length from Endless Fight, who I believe is from Canada. In similar fashion these guys take a pretty traditional approach to metallic hardcore with shifting tempos from faster chord progressions to chunky breakdowns, but they toss in some unexpected little melodic riffs and quick alternate picking runs that add an extra dash of metal without really affecting the fact that this is clearly a hardcore record. Again, they're not really rewriting any books by any means, but they're messing with the riffs and arrangements just enough to catch your attention, which should yield even stronger results in the future if all goes well. They don't consistently floor me, but I think fans of this niche of hardcore will agree that there are admirable traits aplenty within this material:

Endless Fight "Lies in Disguise"
Endless Fight "Far From Return"

Same deal, as always, if it's something you enjoy, make the grab:

@ Lumberjack Distribution

Also, Billy Graziadei posted some information on my old Biohazard demo write-up this morning, which I think is pretty god damn cool since I've been listening to Biohazard since I was like 14 or 15 years old, so that might interest some of you as well.

Handsome revisited…

Posted on Wednesday, January 4th, 2006 @ 9:17am » permalink

Several months ago I did a post about Handsome, undoubtedly one of the greatest bands ever, and that write-up generated by far the most shockingly positive and overwhelming response of anything I've written about thus far. I've received more comments and emails about that single post than damn near any other 10 posts combined! Well, to my dismay I still haven't been able to obtain their alleged unreleased second record (and extremely elusive, if it does exist it must be one of the rarest recordings of all time), and believe me I've got about five or six other people heavily on the hunt as well, but I have recently been supplied with some other excellent rarities from one kind soul who I simply cannot thank enough.

First is an alternate recording of "Dim the Lights" with additional vocal harmonies and guitar melodies, for which no details are available, though this rendition is said to have been tracked after the album version:

Handsome "Dim the Lights" (re-recorded)

Then there's a seven-track live set recorded on June 14, 1997 at the Hultsfred Festival in Sweden, which aired on Swedish radio channel P3. Now, I'm generally not into live recordings at all, and I'm very picky about sound quality, but I have to say, this performance gets my seal of approval 100% in terms of shockingly strong sound, and the fact that there's an unreleased track in the setlist ("Swivel") only makes things all the more desirable! The songs had already been faded at the ends, so it doesn't play through like a true live set or anything, but fuck if I care! I boosted the volume levels to make things sound a little more consistent otherwise:

1. "Needles"
2. "Thrown Away"
3. "Swivel"
4. "Swimming"
5. "Closer"
6. "Lead Bellied"
7. "Going to Panic"

And finally there's the amazing (and very Orange 9mm-esque, which reminds me that I should post about Orange 9mm soon) KRS-One track "Just to Prove a Point", for which Handsome was the backing band. Now, I've never been much of a KRS-One fan per se, but this song is fucking phenomenal, so I'd actually love to have heard him explore more of this style:

KRS-One (with Handsome) "Just to Prove a Point"

Needless to say, if a second, unreleased Handsome record exists then someone, somewhere needs to take measures to ensure that this material receives a proper release of some sort. There is an audience out there that truly loves this band and would voraciously devour any unreleased material that they could get their hands on, and you'd better believe I'm right near the front of that line. If anyone has any other rare tracks from this ingenious and sorely missed outfit, please get in touch. It causes me an immense amount of complete and total rage to imagine what unheard Handsome majesties may exist out there. It is entirely wrong on every level for such brilliance to remain set aside and shrouded in mystery.

Beatrik "Requiem of December" CD

Posted on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2006 @ 2:25pm » permalink

Beatrik - Requiem of DecemberNow that December's over and gone I figured this would be a good one to cover. Beatrik hails from Italy and started out as the solo project of a guy "named" Frozen Glare Smara (I'm not really into the band name, and perhaps now I know why!), and it still sort of is since he currently handles all of the writing and instrumentation sans the drums. "Requiem of December" is the band's second full-length of self-proclaimed "funereal melancholic black metal", released earlier in 2005 by Avantgarde Music, and this really is the perfect form of black metal in my book. Rather than focusing on speed, the focus is on atmosphere, balancing traditional uses of blasting tempos with drawn out "funeral doom" passages reminiscent of acts like Nortt, as well as plenty of pounding midpaced rhythms with winding riffs that carry a slightly more "modern" Norwegian sensibility. The chilling dissonance and cold, distant sort of rawness to the sound throughout accentuate the tortured screams as well as nailing the precise feeling that I tend to look for within this style of music, and despite songs averaging seven to eight minutes apiece (some more, some less), the total running time of nearly 50 minutes for just six tracks never gets boring.

Beatrik "The Last Wandering"

I picked this one up from The End Records a few weeks ago after eyeballing it for a couple of months and it has since sold out. I imagine they'll get it back in stock within a month or so, but you can still grab it elsewhere, so I'd do so sooner than later if it interests you, 'cause you never can tell when this stuff's just gonna vanish and become quite a chore to track down:

@ Relapse Records