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Wrecking Crew "Balance of Terror" CD

Posted on Thursday, August 31st, 2006 @ 9:53am » permalink

Wrecking Crew - Balance of TerrorLast year, in my review of Bridge Nine's release of the Wrecking Crew "1987 – 1991" CD, I ranted about how fucking stupid and annoying it is when great records go out of print and remain completely rare and obscure for basically no reason other than red tape bullshit. Well, the "Balance of Terror" LP is about as fine an example of such an occurrence as I can think of. Originally released on the little-known Roadrunner imprint of Hawker Records in 1989, this absolutely classic example of Boston hardcore/crossover – not to mention Wrecking Crew's sole full-length – has remained out of print and virtually unheard for over a decade. So… I have to give massive, massive respect to I Scream Records for taking the time to somehow pull off this killer CD re-release of said LP – complete with two bonus tracks, lyrics, old school photos, and of course the obligatory set of liner notes outlining the band's rise and fall. I wish more labels had the interest or ability to pull off such feats! Impressive…

Anyway, as with the demo/7" material that was offered up on the aforementioned "1987 – 1991" collection, "Balance of Terror" is a pretty straightforward onslaught of textbook late-80's hardcore/metal crossover, complete with a good range of tempos and a general vibe that walks the line between the two genres very well. I'm definitely still hearing similarities to Agnostic Front's "Cause for Alarm" era both musically and vocally, but the songwriting seems a little more varied in some respects – though definitely quite memorable in its finest moments. Most of the songs clock in under three minutes apiece, and they basically cut to the chase and take care of business. It's a sound that was most at home during that specific run in the late-80's, and one that really hasn't been very accurately matched since. I'm all for it, and we all know how much I love reissues. For the longest time Wrecking Crew was one of those bands that so many people from slightly younger generations had heard of, but never actually heard, so it's incredible to finally see that mishap remedied. Better late than never, right?

Wrecking Crew "Always Talk"
Wrecking Crew "Balance of Terror"

If you download this record for no good reason instead of buying it you're a complete fucking douchebag and are directly contributing to the obstacles that can keep labels from making the harrowing effort to get raging albums like this back out there for new audiences to experience. Don't pull that shit. I Scream Records fucking rules for making this happen, as well as that Maximum Penalty reissue, etc. So, please, support their efforts and buy this CD if you dig the tunes:

@ RevHQ
@ Very Distribution

Merrimack "Of Entropy and Life Denial" CD

Posted on Wednesday, August 30th, 2006 @ 9:00am » permalink

Merrimack - Of Entropy and Life Denial"Merrimack" may be Celtic for "infinite depths" or "abyss", but I simply wouldn't have imagined anyone choosing it as the name for a black metal band. I mean, even if "flüffibünni" was Swedish for something crazy like "elite unholy destroyers of Christ", I highly doubt anyone would call their band Flüffibünni, right? Or maybe they would, I don't know… toss a few pentagrams or inverted crosses in there and it'd probably make for a cool logo. Go figure…

Anyway, the French black metal scene has been getting quite a bit of attention over the last several years due to a number of rather inventive bands that are pushing the boundaries of the genre and releasing some rather incredible material, and Merrimack's gradual rising in the ranks seems to have taken quite a leap forward with their latest Moribund Records release, "Of Entropy and Life Denial". Musically speaking the band does stay fairly true to the more commonly accepted aesthetic characteristics of the genre's finest in terms of blending intense speeds with pounding midpaced rhythms and winding dissonance, with most of their more creative turns coming in the form of relatively intricate (not to mention powerful) arrangements that toss around quite a few unexpected twists and turns and the occasionally badass atypical riff that really grabs your attention. The recording is also walking a line between the thinner, harsher side of things and a slightly crisper attack, so it certainly comes across as rather rugged, just not overly so. What's interesting is that the vast majority of the vocals are completely shrouded by their placement in the mix, coming across more like the echoes of completely twisted and unintelligible whispers/screams, with scattered passages here and there sliding forth in much more punctuated snarls. I kind of like that vibe as it lets the intriguing atmosphere of the music do most of the work, but one of Merrimack's most obvious strengths over the majority of the black metal realm is that their lyrics are far, far stronger than most of their contemporaries:

Lower, time takes everything lower. The enemy makes everything dirtier. Children grow old and die, as all worlds crumble and dissolve. Down you go, what did you expect? All paths go this way far beneath. Buried in the dead black earth lies the forgotten architecture, the stones glanced upon through righteous expression like keys to the edifice lost behind oceans of clay…

Very cool. I'm definitely into this record, and Merrimack overcomes the odds to prove that they do indeed have more to offer…

Merrimack "Seraphic Conspiracy (Of the Angels and Their Mission)"
Merrimack "Consecration of the Temple (Of the World and its Impalement)"

Make the buy if you're interested in the material:

@ Moribund Records
@ Bindrune Recordings
@ The End Records

Terror, Unholy, and To This Day…

Posted on Tuesday, August 29th, 2006 @ 8:58am » permalink

Terror - Always the Hard WayI really liked "One With the Underdogs" a lot when it came out, but for some reason it hasn't really stood up as well for me over time, so I'm pretty pleased that Terror's latest Trustkill release, "Always the Hard Way", is a much more pissed off sounding album. Make no mistake, it's basically the same form of textbook metallic hardcore for which the band is known, but the recording, while not perfect, is much stronger and more immediate than that of "…Underdogs"; so when you couple that with an angrier sounding vocal performance and a musical base that brings in more of a driving, churning crunch to the grooves… it definitely works. They plow through 14 tracks in less than a half-hour, and the more I listen to it, the more I dig it. Upon first listen you can miss some of the minor little variances that offer a smidge more diversity than the band's past efforts, but I really dig how they balance those Madball-esque midpaced rhythms with a borderline thrashy take on the speeds and chord progressions of traditional hardcore. Plus, there are a couple of quick segments herein that almost come across as a heavier, more modern take on some of the throbbing pulses found in early Cro-Mags classics (check that intro to "Hardship Belongs to Me")… so how can you go wrong!? Oh, and a guest vocal spot from Leeway's Eddie Sutton? Awesome. Enough said.

Terror "Hardship Belongs to Me"
Terror "Strike You Down"

If you dig the tunes, make the purchase:

@ Trustkill
@ RevHQ
@ Very Distribution

While on the subject of "Always the Hard Way", I highly recommend this hilarious "interpretation" of the album's title track. Someone really needs to create an entire website based around this concept. That's just good comedy, man…

Unholy - Awaken the SleepAs mentioned a couple of weeks ago, the European pressing of Unholy's "Awaken the Sleep" is out now on Germany's Silentstagnation Records. Read my write-up of the American pressing for my take on this ragingly awesome EP , but I can now note more specifically that this version of the release is packaged in a great looking digipack with cool alternate cover art – and the bonus track, "Scales From a Leper", is indeed fuckin' great. A worthy addition, indeed. It sounds like this pressing may have a slightly different mastering job as well? I'm not entirely sure. If you've been under a god damn rock, this band features current and former members of Another Victim, Blood Runs Black, Godbelow, The Promise, Santa Sangre, and When Tigers Fight, among others. So… yeah. This shit rules and you should fuckin' look into it. If you live in Europe or are interested in scoring this pressing for the added track, make the grab from the label's website:

@ Silentstagnation Records

See Closed Casket Activities for the American edition of this release.

To This Day - Chapter 1: Between the Bridges"Chapter 1: Between the Bridges" is the debut full-length from New York-based metalcore act To This Day, and it's also the first release on 1981 Records, a relatively new straightedge label. One might think based on the label's name and penchant for the edge that this would be a relatively straightforward, traditional sounding old school hardcore record, but that's actually quite far from the truth. There are indeed a few faster and more typical hardcore chord progressions from time to time, but for the most part the bulk of the disc is dominated by a 90's-ish form of metalcore made up of hoarse yelling over super chunky mosh breaks. The density of the recording combined with a few more discordant or blatantly grinding metal riffs lends a much more contemporary edge to the band's approach, but to be honest with you I'd rather hear them shed those occasional blasts of tremolo picking and whatnot in favor of sticking with the tried and true formula of bludgeoning midpaced breakdown grooves. I'm also not really clear on why they go from standard song titles like "Choking" and "Nameless" to weird "sarcastic" song names like "Danny Fresh & Ruffle Skirts" or "Texas Funerals and Flapjacks", since the lyrics are all basically the same kind of bitter, in your face attacks. The result of all these variances is that album is a little inconsistent as a whole, so I'm certainly not floored, but it seems like these guys might still be getting a footing for where they're going to take their sound. The release definitely looks and sound pro as fuck (it seems like the label must have some pretty damn slick resources in place for a startup), and it shows potential, so I guess time will tell…

To This Day "Choking"
To This Day "Pieces"

I'll be curious to see what unfolds for both the band the label. This one's only $10 right from the source, so make the grab if this is your thing:

@ 1981 Records

Deicide "The Stench of Redemption" CD

Posted on Monday, August 28th, 2006 @ 8:45am » permalink

Deicide - The Stench of RedemptionI have to admit, when I first heard that Deicide had lost the Hoffman brothers, I pretty much lost interest in the band. Not that I've ever been a huge Deicide fan or anything (I only own three of their records, granted those first two are classics), but anytime a group that's had the same lineup all along loses both guitarists at one time? That's a devastating blow. There's a hell of a lot of drama involved in that whole split, and there are a lot of questions surrounding this release in general. How much of the band's songwriting were the Hoffmans really responsible for? If Jack Owen quit Cannibal Corpse because he wasn't feeling the music anymore, why would he join Deicide shortly afterwards? If Ralph Santolla really is Catholic, would he actually be comfortable in a band like Deicide? All such queries can be answered with one simple statement…

Who fuckin' cares!?

One listen to "The Stench of Redemption", Deicide's eighth full-length (and second for Earache), makes several facts blatantly clear. First off, while "Scars of the Crucifix" was a very solid return to form for the band, "The Stench of Redemption" eclipses the shit out of it in every fucking way. This is easily the best album the band has released since "Legion" way back in 1992, and in terms of recording quality, this is by far and wide the most superb the band has ever sounded. Period. The mix is relatively balanced, the drums are crisp without sounding overly rigid, and the guitar tones are fucking phenomenal – significantly stronger than the clinical and lifeless feel of the last record. And the songs? Let's just say this does not bode well for the Hoffman brothers' arguments as to the significance of their contributions in the band's more recent years. In some ways it's one of those "the more things change, the more they stay the same" situations, because, yeah, this is definitely a different Deicide. However, it's not something I would consider a departure from the band's predetermined path at all. It's still immediately recognizable as Deicide. Benton's trademark vocal work is in place, the material is still generally fast and fierce with plenty of blasts… I mean, come on, it's fuckin' Deicide, you know? It's a vicious death metal record. But at the same time, the speed and technicality of the riffing feels more comfortable here, so the songs possess an energy that's been lacking in the band's material for a long time now.

Plus, Owen and Santolla, I mean… wow. Why has it taken so long for these guys to get the chance to show their true talents on a recording like this!? I could've centered this entire write-up around how amazingly impressed I am with their performances on this album. I can emphatically state without question that "The Stench of Redemption" contains the best solos I've heard on a metal record in probably the last decade. Every single track contains multiple leads between the two guitarists, and they each shred all over the fucking place – but in a manner that adds an awesome degree of melody, not to mention an epic aesthetic, to the structures. You can tell they took the time to really write the solos, and that's getting rarer and rarer these days. I'm loving it, and I damn sure hope this Deicide lineup remains intact.

I'm really hoping this record will win some people over – especially those that gave up on the band years ago, or never even cared in the first place! It really is that good. Downloading is bullshit, so buy a copy for yourself:

@ Earache
@ Relapse Records

Despise You "West Side Horizons" CD

Posted on Friday, August 25th, 2006 @ 9:43am » permalink

Despise You - West Side HorizonsI don't know much about defunct California bashers Despise You, and I don't even remember exactly when it was that Pessimiser Records released the "West Side Horizons" collection CD, but all of these songs were recorded between 1994 – 1996. No doubt one of the reasons I was never too up on my Despise You background info is that the lineup was entirely credited to the pseudonyms of Jose Morales (guitar/vocals), Leticia Perez (bass/vocals), Frank Acevez (drums/vocals), and Alex Morales (vocals/guitar). Beyond that, the group used lots of old school Venice looking graffiti lettering and badass handmade t-shirts with Suicidal Tendencies styled artwork to create elements of their visual aesthetic – all of which was a Brujeria-esque ruse, complete with false tales of the band's links to gangs and criminal activity. The membership of Despise You was actually made up of individuals who had been involved with Excruciating Terror, 16, Stapled Shut, and Pessimiser Records, among other outlets; and despite the existence of a few show flyers, the band apparently never performed live during their brief stint.

This disc is an almost complete discography (some cover songs were recorded and never released, granted covers from Possessed, D.R.I., Circle Jerks, and Beowülf do appear herein, I'm not sure if any other comp tracks or whatnot are missing) compiling 16 previously unreleased tracks; 10 compilation songs; the "PCP Scapegoat" 7"; and split 7"s with Stapled Shut, Suppression, and Crom. The grand total is a whopping 62 tracks in less than 45 minutes – meaning that you're in for a hell of a lot of short bursts that almost always clock in at less than a minute apiece.

Despise You is one of those few simply awesome bands that I honestly never really knew how to "categorize" (for lack of a better term). Is it hardcore? Absolutely. Is it grind? Sometimes, sort of. Is it power violence? I think so, in that it blends intense blasts of raging speed with sludgy breaks and an overall sense of complete and total fury. But I never really cared for the term "power violence", nor the majority of the bands that were associated with it beyond its initial wave. Despise You, however, fit that bill in the best possible way, managing to counter frantic speeds and ripping vocal arrangements with slow, dingy dissonance and a songwriting approach that actually feels energetic and memorable – as it should, it's just not something that many bands of this ilk have ever been able to achieve. I don't listen to this CD nearly as often as I should. Damn this shit is good. Fucking classic.

Despise You "Lagrimas"
Despise You "No More… Feelings"
Despise You "Guilty View"
Despise You "Born in The Dirt – Raised in a Hole"
Despise You "9-13-91"

"West Side Horizons" is technically out of print, but you can still find it both new and used through various sources. Oh, and it's, uhhh… also available on… ummm, iTunes… if you're a big dork that prefers to purchase your music digitally rather than the "old fashioned" way (uuuggghhh). Just buy this shit one way or another and destroy, okay?

@ Amazon.com
@ Half.com

Skyforger "Kauja Pie Saules" CD

Posted on Thursday, August 24th, 2006 @ 9:04am » permalink

Skyforger - Kauja Pie SaulesI had never heard of Skyforger before when this CD showed up, but then again, it's not exactly commonplace to come across bands from Latvia, is it? I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but "Kauja Pie Saules", on Paragon Records, is actually a re-release of the band's 1998 debut album. Skyforger's overall concept as a band seems to revolve around the ancient history, folklore, and pagan beliefs of Latvia, and these cats definitely seem quite knowledgeable on such topics. All of the lyrics herein are in the Latvian language (English translations are provided), and some of the artwork was even used with permission from the Latvian Museum of War!? These guys aren't messing around, eh? As is often the case when such specific historical influence is present, there are some elements of Latvian folk music in the songs – such as a few instances of traditional instruments, melodies, or vocal chants – but the band integrates such aspects into a core of relatively standard black metal, and they do so rather well. It's not overly raw, and doesn't restrict itself to the tenets of the genre's more narrowminded side, so there are a lot of variations in tempo and some riffing styles that carry a bit more rhythmic weight. However, the bulk of the album is a relatively fast 'n' fierce form of black metal with snarling vocals and all that jazz. Hey, I dig it. The variety just helps keep things interesting and gives the band more of their own identity.

Skyforger "Svetais Ugunskrusts"

Make the grab if you're into the sample track:

@ Paragon Records
@ The End Records

Year of No Light and Gojira…

Posted on Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006 @ 9:45am » permalink

Year of No Light - NordIt's been a little over a year since I heard Year of No Light's impressive demo, and I've been quite looking forward to "Nord", the French act's debut full-length on the awesome Radar Swarm label. Needless to say, I'm quite pleased that this superb album takes their dissonant brand of rhythmic intensity to new heights, expanding in pretty much every direction to include more melody, more brute force, added post-hardcore textures, added chaotic (yet controlled) embellishments, tactful keyboard smatterings, and shimmery layers of effects over areas of the guitar work. The already generally lengthy tunes contain quite a few extended instrumental passages that carry a surprising amount of weight and emotional impact, which can make the abrasive screams all the more forceful when they fight their way forward from their deep placement amidst the instrumentation, and it's all quite fucking impressive. The recording is outstanding as well, with a great sense of density and warmth that brings everything tightly together in the mix and creates and very cohesive tide within which the shifting dynamics operate. There's a lot going on, but it doesn't seem the least bit disjointed, and it's very cool when a band is able to achieve this distinct a blend of both beautiful and punishing sounds.

Year of No Light "Tu as Fait de Moi un Homme Meilleur"
Year of No Light "Traversée"

I'll also note that this CD is atypically packaged in a jewel case-sized enveloped that folds out from all sides to reveal the disc inside a matte black paper sleeve. I don't think any lyrics are included, but most all of the text is in French so I don't really know what I'm looking at anyway!?

I can't say enough good things about Radar Swarm, so please do support their efforts if you enjoy their killer releases:

@ Radar Swarm
@ Relapse Records

Gojira - From Mars to SiriusI had been meaning to pick up a copy of Gojira's "From Mars to Sirius" for months, but was having a hard time finding a reasonably priced copy of the CD for some reason, so I was both psyched and surprised when a copy showed up in the mail from Prosthetic Records, who've licensed the album for an American release. This is by far the best thing Prosthetic has had their name on in a long time, and marks my first true exposure to the French outfit's absolutely punishing brand of intense, diverse metal. I can definitely understand why the band seems to be garnering more and more attention these days, and I'm wishing I had encountered their material sooner.

Included within this massive slab are 12 tracks (averaging six or seven minutes apiece) clocking in at over an hour and plowing through everything from churning Meshuggah-esque staccato rhythms and crisp, energetic bursts of thrashy riffing with flashy drum work reminiscent of some of Darkane's finer moments, to Gorguts-ian levels of fucked up dissonance with a death metal lean, not to mention some unexpectedly chilled out passages amongst all the powerful bludgeonings. There's just a fucking ton of shit happening here, and it's all fucking great. I mean, the vocals jump from the occasional burly growls to this interesting sort of strained yelling in key that I'm really into, and even though they switch up the riffs and tempos all over the place it doesn't come across as chaotic – probably because the bulk of the pacing keeps the speed in check, and they tend to know when to bring in little hints of melody to keep things interesting. Of course, the fact that the production's fucking amazing certainly isn't harming matters. This shit totally sounds almost shockingly pristine. The mix is clear as hell and strikes a great balance between all of the elements, the guitar tone is completely vicious and works great with the thunderous percussion… I'm impressed, for sure. You really have to hear it for yourself to gain an understanding and appreciation for what the band's really putting forth, so I'm just gonna shut the hell up:

Gojira "Ocean Planet"
Gojira "To Sirius"

Good stuff, right? So do the right thing and pick up a copy for yourself:

@ Prosthetic Records
@ Relapse Records
@ Very Distribution

And This Army "Foe" CD

Posted on Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006 @ 9:25am » permalink

And This Army - FoeAt the time when I reviewed the first record from And This Army, they were referring to their approach as "low-fidelity post-punk psychedelia", which to my ears sounded "more like pseudo hipster indie rock meets dark 80's new wave kind of stuff". I sort of liked it, but it just didn't do it for me in the end. Well, I'm very pleased to say that on their latest self-released CD-R (which I believe they're shopping around for a deal), "Foe", the Brooklyn trio has improved immeasurably, and the overall impact of their delivery seems to have undergone quite a change. The "low-fidelity post-punk psychedelia" tag makes a little more sense to me on this release in terms of an occasional sense of noisy chaos that erupts seemingly from out of nowhere, while the "more like pseudo hipster indie rock meets dark 80's new wave kind of stuff" no longer bears any relevance whatsoever, barring the monotone textures to the vocals or a certain air of darkness that's present in some of the more fluid, melodic, and restrained elements of the musical backdrop. They're certainly operating in a relatively interesting area that defies categorization within any basic genre. These tracks are much longer (the total of all six is nearly 45 minutes) and heavier than their past efforts, at times bordering on a droning brand of sludginess with ties to the raw, drawn out grooves of 70's-esque "stoner rock" – though I must point out that And This Army is simply not that kind of a band. There's just this powerfully unexpected, almost surprising sort of underlying pulse to the material that adds an intriguing sense of contrast. The recording helps accentuate this fact by perfectly blending the vocals against the instruments and giving the bass a pretty massive dead center role in the mix; while the vocals are so, so, so much fucking stronger than they were before. Honestly this is a pretty god damn impressive set of tunes. I'm really floored by the finest moments herein, to the point where certain aspects really hit me in a rare fuckin' manner. I'll be really curious to see what comes next for these cats, and I wish them all the best. Good shit…

And This Army "Blackbeard"

I believe you can download most (if not all) of these tracks from the band's website, so look into this shit – and spread the word! I don't really know what the deal is in terms of this material being self-released or the band looking to get these jams properly pressed up by a label, but someone should jump on this shit, 'cause it's good. Damn good. I really am impressed by And This Army's growth to date.

Wolves in the Throne Room "Diadem of 12 Stars" CD

Posted on Monday, August 21st, 2006 @ 11:12am » permalink

Wolves in the Throne Room - Diadem of 12 StarsAs my recent purchases list should blatantly indicate, I've been on an almost ridiculous black metal kick lately, which happens from time to time. Consequently, one of the only new black metal records that I've encountered in that time is "Diadem of 12 Stars", the debut album from Olympia, WA's Wolves in the Throne Room (on Vendlus Records). All I can say is that not only is this my favorite Vendlus release to date, but in my opinion this release easily solidifies this group as one of the absolute finest American black metal acts, without question. This material simply eclipses a lot of what's inexplicably deemed the "best" in "USBM", there's simply no argument.

The core membership of Wolves in the Throne Room is a trio using only guitars, drums, and vocals, but they really layer their instruments together well so that the material comes across as spacious while still feeling a bit "larger" than it is. The absence of bass really doesn't present a problem at all. Included are but three long compositions (one of which is a two-parter) running from 13 – 20+ minutes within the total of an hour and traveling well beyond the genre's typical boundaries. They do build upon a foundation of the raw attack and speed expected of the traditional black metal aesthetic, but they also blend in powerful melodies akin to Ulver circa "Bergtatt", or, subsequently, Agalloch's channeling of said Ulver era during the "Pale Folklore" days. And in addition to the sneering screams and snarls, there are also occasional appearances of excellent female singing; not to mention numerous tempo changes that delve into doomier slow to midpaced riffing, expanding an already wide dynamic range that includes some nice acoustic breathers and whatnot as well.

I'm also thrilled to point out another extremely respectable facet of Wolves in the Throne Room's being: No corpsepaint, no stupid pseudonyms, and no satanic bullshit. Finally! Unfortunately, no lyrics are included within the attractively designed CD booklet (just some peculiar photographs), but the band does have a lot of truly interesting things to say. In fact, I would highly suggest reading some interviews with Wolves in the Throne Room, as an intriguing interview and such curious remarks as this excerpt from their "artist statement" are what initially drew me to their music:

Our music is perhaps what happens after the initial, necessary, hateful burst; after the psychic explosion that is black metal wipes away that which came before: the sick and twisted truths of our modern condition. For in black metal, we see great truth, transcendence and power. Black metal is the cleansing fire that frees us from the bondage of rationality, science, morality, religion, leaving us free to choose our own path.

Wolves in the Throne Room "Queen of the Borrowed Light" (excerpt)

Excellent, excellent work. Absolutely recommended, and I can't wait to hear more from this outstanding outfit. I ordered this straight from the label last week and had the CD in my hands less than 48 hours later, which is almost unheard of, so I encourage you to pick up a copy directly from the source as well:

@ Vendlus Records

108 "Creation. Sustenance. Destruction." 2xCD

Posted on Friday, August 18th, 2006 @ 8:52am » permalink

For some reason I certainly did not expect to see a release such as this take shape in this day and age, but as both a diehard supporter of discography CD's and an overzealous aficionado of 90's metallic hardcore, I'm certainly thrilled that it has! (Much respect to Equal Vision Records for seeing this thing through.) "Creation. Sustenance. Destruction." is a massive 2xCD collection of every track recorded by the infamous 108, including their "Threefold Misery" and "Songs of Separation" full-lengths, the "Curse of Instinct" and "Holyname" EP's, and the previously unreleased track "Panic" to boot. The end result is over 35 tracks and more than 90 minutes of material that can indeed be considered legendary, whether you like it or not. ("Songs of Separation", especially, is an absolutely fucking incredible album, and remains my favorite 108 release to this day.)

It seems an almost inconceivable occurrence looking back on it, but there was in fact a time when the hardcore scene actually had a niche of Krishna conscious activity going on, though for the most part only two such bands "mattered": Shelter and "that other Krishna band", which would have been 108. But in all seriousness, while Shelter may have been the more popular/focal of the two, 108 was by far the more creative, the more inventive, the more intense, and the more hardcore. No other band has ever really sounded like 108, and I highly doubt any other band ever will. (Random aside: Way back when I was in my freshman year of college, I actually had some dude offer to literally buy a 108 t-shirt right off my back for $20. Weird, huh?)

108 was formed in the early 90's by ex-Inside Out guitarist Vic DiCara, who remained the band's chief songwriter and visionary throughout their tumultuous (yet fairly productive) existence into the mid-90's. He brought in Ressurection vocalist Rob Fish just prior to the recording of the band's debut, "Holyname", and the rest of the lineup sort of shifted around over the years – at times including future members of Crown of Thornz and Texas is the Reason, among others. DiCara's songwriting style was equal parts noisy acerbity, chunky metallic rhythms, twisted dissonance, and borderline straightforward bursts of hardcore energy – all of which jumbled together in a mass of what I'd describe as generally controlled chaos. You really can't put this stuff into words, though. The dude was a total fucking riff machine and literally wrote some of the weirdest, most bizarre shit I've ever heard in terms of just piecing together strange picking patterns and rhythmic structures with mangled squeals and bends that only scarcely flirted with the most minuscule elements of melody. But see, talking about it like that makes it sound somewhat unappealing, but a lot of the songs are really fucking powerful and memorable – if not anthemic at times – which is pretty damn admirable on numerous levels, not the least of which is considering the subject matter that the band was dealing with, which has never been exactly open to a wide audience, you know?

But I'm just gonna shut the fuck up and let the music do the talking, folks. Here are a few tracks from various releases collected herein that exemplify various forms of 108's supreme awesomeness. "Solitary" and "Deathbed" are from the aforementioned "Songs of Separation" and mark two of my personal favorites in the 108 back catalog. Amazing, amazing shit. Check the solo about 1:35 into "Solitary". You can't lose, people. If you're a fan of oddball riffs then be sure to check out all of the songs below to get a real idea for how whacked some of this material really was (in the best way possible, of course). Enjoy:

108 "Solitary"
108 "Deathbed"
108 "Holyname"
108 "Slave"
108 "Scandal"
108 "Killer of the Soul"

Also worth mentioning is that this fuckin' thing has one of the biggest CD booklets I've ever seen in my life, complete with sweet metallic ink on the print job, photos, all of the lyrics, and reflections on the songs by some of the band's members. Talk about getting it right, eh? And the label's even selling the entire package for just $10, which is beyond awesome. Wholly and absolutely recommended, especially to anyone that missed out on this band the first time around, 'cause bands like this do not exist anymore.* No fuckin' way. Now go make the grab:

@ Equal Vision Records
@ RevHQ
@ Very Distribution

*Well, that's not entirely accurate, because as if it wasn't enough of a surprise that this collection came out at all, 108 is also back together playing some shows and prepping material for a new full-length!? Who the hell would've thought!? I'm certainly curious to see what's gonna come of all this… but shit, if nothing else, this discography totally kills, so I'm just grateful for that.

Goodbye Tomorrow and Robot Eyes…

Posted on Thursday, August 17th, 2006 @ 9:55am » permalink

Goodbye Tomorrow - s/tSheesh, talk about sparing no expense! A clear-edged CD design in a handsome little digipack for a mere three songs in barely more than 12 minutes!? Equal Vision Records must have high hopes for Goodbye Tomorrow, and I can understand why from this self-titled EP. The label never ceases to amaze me in their knack for scoring quality bands of a more laidback nature, and this is no exception. I'm not really sure what banner you'd classify this music under, but it definitely has the super professional and big-sounding characteristics of the type of thing that could achieve a pretty wide degree of success, be it on the radio or through "mainstream" channels or what have you. But as usual, I'd like to point out that such a comment is not to discredit the band at all, because this isn't some cheap cookie cutter material that lacks vision or creativity at all. It's not really "emo" or whatever, and in fact the songs aren't particularly catchy or bursting with energy either. The tempos tend to be relatively midpaced, for one thing, and there's a nice balance between loud/soft dynamics, though it feels like the quieter, more somber side does tend to dominate. I don't know, whatever you want to call it the recording is amazingly well executed with a pristine mix, and I dig this stuff. It's somewhat hard to gauge what the band really has to offer in just 12 minutes, but I guess we'll see what happens next year when their debut full-length materializes.

Goodbye Tomorrow "Carouseling"

This is another one of those limited releases that's only available at the band's shows or online, so pick it up straight from the label for just $5 if you're curious:

@ Equal Vision Records

Robot Eyes - ArrêtIt seems that Escapist Records is shaping up to be quite a diverse label, as their last release was the straightforward metallic hardcore crunch of Changing Face, and they've followed it up with Robot Eyes' first record, "Arrêt". An uncommon move, but one that I fully respect. As opposed to anything particularly heavy or hardcore-oriented, this is actually super catchy emo kind of stuff with a few pop-punk leanings or what have you. They're certainly not trying to rewrite the book on this style, sticking with driving chord progressions and zippy melodic riffs with slightly nasally singing, but this is a very promising debut that reminds me somewhat of Fairweather's "If They Move… Kill Them", which isn't a bad jumping off point at all in my opinion. I wouldn't mind hearing some vocal harmonies to add some depth to the singing and beef up the choruses, but I very much dig the bass presence in the mix, which helps to give the material some added punch regardless of tempo, and from a songwriting standpoint these kids seem to know what they're doing. I won't be at all surprised if things start to pick up for this band down the road. Not bad.

Robot Eyes "I Don't Dress the Part"
Robot Eyes "Gamble, Gamble, Gamble, Die."

Make the grab if you're into this kind of thing, it's only $9 straight from the label:

@ Escapist Records
@ Interpunk
@ Very Distribution

Chaosfear "One Step Behind Anger" CD

Posted on Wednesday, August 16th, 2006 @ 9:48am » permalink

Chaosfear - One Step Behind Anger"One Step Behind Anger" is the debut album from Chaosfear, proving once more that thrash metal is indeed alive and well in Brazil. Included are eight tracks that take their foundation from the 1989 – 1991 era of the genre's closing heyday in terms of utilizing a good amount of textbook speed and riffing techniques, while crossing over into the later age with what became at the time a more "modern" sound with a tactful element of groove (think Machine Head). On rare occasion they'll drop a riff (or explosive solo/drum pattern) that flirts with a little bit of a death metal influence, but for the most part the song structures and delivery are relatively straightforward here in terms of sticking with a thrash aesthetic that's dominated by gruff vocal shouts and meaty sounding guitars. Some of the lead breaks have a little bit of a textural sort of Sepultura type of influence, but for the most part these tracks kind of go for more of a no frills, in your face attack. It's nothing fancy, but that's cool, because they know what they're doing and they handle it the right way. I'm into it. A lot of these bands in Brazil have to really bust their asses to get an album out, and they're often so fuckin' dedicated it's just insane, so you've gotta respect this shit… you just have to. But hopefully you'll dig the tunes, too!

Chaosfear "Denied Rights"
Chaosfear "Incongruous Possession"

I'm not sure how you can get your hands on this CD, but you'll probably have to order it from the band themselves, so please contact them directly if you're interested. I know they're in need of help getting any form of distribution outside of Brazil as well, so if you think you can help them out with that let them know, too. They'd definitely appreciate it!

Veil of Maya and Harlots…

Posted on Tuesday, August 15th, 2006 @ 10:54am » permalink

Veil of Maya - All Things Set AsideI don't know much about Veil of Maya other than the fact that I'm guessing they named themselves after the first track on the almighty Cynic's "Focus", and I believe "All Things Set Aside" (on Corrosive Recordings) is their first proper release. Aside from occasionally significant levels of technicality, there's really no similarity to Cynic here, and for the most part I'd classify this material as relatively caustic and borderline chaotic death metalcore. That being said, of course portions of the release tend to lean towards a disjointed songwriting approach that I'm not particularly fond of, but they tear through so many different riffing styles that it's hard to deny the intrigue of the finer moments. Yes, somewhat unfortunately the bulk of the disc is made up of fairly commonplace examples of scorching tremolo picking and brutal breakdown passages beneath vocals that constantly jump from low growls to sneering screams. However, on the other hand there are some pretty damn impressive lead bursts from time to time, not to mention some downright awesome little spurts of quick melody. I'd also cite some cool mangled dissonance and Meshuggah-esque rhythmic tendencies as well (complete with some jazzy drum work that's quite nice), and all of these more interesting elements point to a higher level of capability from Veil of Maya – one that comes across both more powerfully and more creatively (see the instrumental "The Uprising" below). So, in the end, this is what I would in some ways refer to as a merely enjoyable outing, but one that provides insight into the fact that these guys could very well compose some truly impressive compositions as things progress. I, for one, have the ol' fingers crossed for the future!

Veil of Maya "The Uprising"
Veil of Maya "All Things Set Aside"

Make the grab if frenzied shredding gets your blood boiling:

@ Corrosive Recordings
@ Interpunk

Harlots - Also new from Corrosive Recordings, and in some ways similar to Veil of Maya, is the second full-length from Harlots – aptly titled "This is the Second Death". I refer to this as "in some ways similar to Veil of Maya" mainly because there's a dominant air of harsh and chaotic metalcore-ish elements at hand that's not exactly my thing, but I can listen to it, and there are some really impressive bright spots that make me wonder what the band might be able to come up with in the future. Aside from the fact that I'm generally hard to please when it comes to the more abrasive and frenzied end of the spectrum, I have to confess that I think a part of the reason I've remained largely undecided on this album is that I'm not too into the recording – in large part due to the fact that portions of the drum tones sound programmed, which annoys the hell out of me. But ignoring all that, I do dig the fact that these guys are implementing some strange electronic noise textures into areas of their compositions rather well, and when they give the chaotic stuff a rest in favor of slower, dingier rhythms and subtly melodic undercurrents I'm definitely paying attention (check out "Those Days Seem Several Hundred Years Ago"). The few areas where fierce screams give way to a strained form of monotone singing are also quite curious, so… I don't know, it's weird… I'm not a big fan of a lot of this stuff, but then they go and hit the nail right on the head and bring me back into it. Who knows!?

Harlots "Those Days Seem Several Hundred Years Ago"
Harlots "These Are the Paths That We Choose"

It's also worth mentioning that Harlots' lineup includes ex-members of Today is the Day, Dead to Fall, and Eyes Upon Separation, though personally I've never been a fan of any of those acts. But… tons of people seem to be, so buy the album for yourself if that's the case:

@ Corrosive Recordings
@ Interpunk

Satura Lanx and Divider…

Posted on Monday, August 14th, 2006 @ 9:09am » permalink

Satura Lanx - No Fighting the FuriesWell, what do you know? Finland strikes again with another winner in the form of Satura Lanx, whose first album, "No Fighting the Furies", was released earlier this year by Brown Records. It's worth pointing out right off the bat, though, that this is not the kind of Finnish hardcore that most readers are accustomed to seeing covered here. In fact, I'm pleasantly surprised that, while not unfamiliar, I've not really encountered this brand of hardcore from the Finnish scene in the past. Satura Lanx covers quite a few bases, from the energetically paced chord progressions of traditional hardcore given a dissonant facelift, to post-hardcore accoutrements that blend both subtle melody and a chunkier metallic undercurrent. And then there are some Botch-esque pull-off runs or unexpectedly little rocked out twists… among other influences. Plus, the vocals are absolutely venomous snarls that somehow fit perfectly into the puzzle, which is awesome. I really don't know how the hell they do it, but these dudes basically take all this different shit, smash it all around, and spit out 10 tracks in 30 minutes that actually come across as focused and memorable. A rare but excellent occurrence, indeed! I quite enjoy the production as well, because the rhythm section has a great, warm punch while the guitars and vocals possess a certain rawness that really adds to the impact and atmosphere of the material. The packaging is killer, too. Metallic silver ink, matte finish… yep, I'm a fan all around! I'm damn glad this one came my way. Well done…

Satura Lanx "Glory Murder"
Satura Lanx "The Society of Others"

This one doesn't appear to be readily available in the US just yet, but according to the label's site they do work with both RevHQ and Surprise Attack Records. This is an awesome fuckin' disc, so I definitely encourage you to either pick it up straight from the label or get in touch with them to find out when it might be finding its way into an American distro or two:

@ Brown Records

Divider - At TwilightDivider's from Long Island, I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've heard 'em, and I think the "At Twilight" EP (on Shock Value Records) is their first release. What you're in for here are six quick tracks in about 16 minutes that tear through loads of blisteringly chaotic riffs and abrasively screamed/shouted diatribes, but I actually really dig this stuff. The songwriting's definitely all over the place and frantic as hell, but something about the overall feel seems… I don't know… just… you know how some bands click and some bands don't? Well, I guess this just clicks for some reason!? It doesn't hurt that there are some unexpected melodic bursts or borderline crusty rhythmic breaks that add tangible moments to the surrounding frenzies, but they're also fairly controlled players when they need to be, and all of that adds up, in this case, to a compact and powerful release. Of course, it's also no detriment that Kurt Ballou was at the helm of the recording sessions, as that probably has a lot to do with the grittily textured guitar tone and the way the vocals are placed perfectly amidst the instruments in the mix… not to mention the crisp snap of the percussion (highlighting some rather intense drum work here and there). Also worth pointing out is that the overall tone of the lyrical content, while at times blunt and lightly sarcastic, is pointed in the socio-political direction, so there's more of a message here than is often the case with bands of comparable musical tendencies – and that can be important. I don't know, man, a lot of times I just can't hang with this stuff, but for the most part this band's got the right ideas in motion.

Divider "Doomsday"

Support the band and the label with a purchase if you're into it, okay? Get to it:

@ Shock Value Records
@ RevHQ
@ Very Distribution

Prototype "Continuum" CD

Posted on Thursday, August 10th, 2006 @ 10:31am » permalink

Prototype - ContinuumThere's a little message from the label on the back of this CD that reads, "Please help preserve the metal scene… play it for a friend, but don't burn it for them!" Well, I couldn't agree more, and especially with regards to this band, because Prototype is quite an enigma in that they're by far one of the most excellent heavy metal bands out there these days, and have been for several years now, but aside from the fact that they seem to garner rave reviews here and there it would appear that they've also been one of the most inexplicably wronged and overlooked bands of the last decade. I simply can't make sense of it.

The California-based thrash act formed way back in 1994, but since that time they've released a mere two full-lengths and a CD EP, and they always seem to end up on smaller labels that just don't have the focus or means to get the band where they ought to be. I can recall my review of their debut album, "Trinity", in which I cited that I originally discovered Prototype long ago in the free access days of mp3.com – at which time they were one of the only outstanding bands I ever encountered on the site – yet it took a few years and scattered international releases for me to finally get my hands on the album… and the European pressing no less!? Thankfully "Continuum", their second album released a few months back on Nightmare Records, proved faster and easier to acquire – though I have to confess that I had never heard of the label prior to this, and the fact that their website is one of the worst I've seen since 1998 leaves me worried that this album may still fail to reach the ears of many of the listeners that would most appreciate it.

What we basically have here is a band that melds melodic thrash and hints of progressive metal in a manner that sounds so traditionally-based it's almost shocking – though despite the core of their influences resting in the classic late-80's era, the production values have a contemporary edge (this one's mixed by Neil Kernon, no less), so it's not like some kind of throwback or anything like that. It's just so rare these days to find that a band sounds like a true, full-blown metal band with great, diverse riffs and atmospheres; good ol' tasteful, powerful singing vocals; fucking sleek, well-composed guitar solos; and strong, fucking mature songwriting. On the one hand I don't understand why more bands are unable to achieve this sound in modern times, but on the other… it is so uncommon that I'm like, "How the hell do these guys do it!?" Seriously, I mean, I just don't hear many bands that sound like fucking regular old metal bands anymore! But Prototype does! And they're fucking awesome, too! I'm just so, so impressed by these guys on all levels, and wholly respect and admire their talents within the current realm of all that's classified as "metal". I can only hope that they'll continue to reach new fans and gain more opportunities for spreading their material around the globe. I hope some of you agree:

Prototype "The Way it Ends"
Prototype "With Vision"

As touched upon earlier: Downloading, burning… all that junk's a bunch of bullshit, so please buy the fucking records you enjoy:

@ CD Baby
@ Century Media Distro
@ The End Records

Drugs of Faith "s/t" CD

Posted on Wednesday, August 9th, 2006 @ 9:53am » permalink

Drugs of Faith - s/tFor anyone who happens to be unaware, Drugs of Faith is currently the central outlet for former Enemy Soil/The Index/Triac grinder Richard Johnson, and after a few years of solid (yet short) demo recordings the trio has finally dropped their first proper release – a self-titled EP on the Polish label Selfmadegod Records. Several of the demo songs appear here in re-recorded form, and the band's approach remains a caustic and dissonant attack that tends to defy simple categorization very well. There are certainly elements of blasting grind in place, but there's a twisted sensibility to all of the riffing that doesn't come across as straightforward grindcore at all. And even though some of the churning midpaced rhythms may bring to mind terms like "sludge" or "power violence", I wouldn't really go there either. They just powerfully tear through eight tracks in about 15 minutes and cover a lot of ground in the process, and that's all there is to it. I love the production on this thing, though. The vocals somehow sound fucking phenomenal, the drums are crisp and natural, the guitar tone is totally mangled and gives the force of the bass plenty of breathing room, and the end result sounds raw yet very balanced and efficient. Oh, and the lyrics are a cool mix of the personal and the political, also handled fairly atypically for the associated genres:

No sense dwelling in the past, but affairs such as these seldom make any sense. Time heals all wounds. While I wait I close my eyes.

Drugs of Faith "Burning"

Drugs of Faith is definitely a unique act that always manages to leave me wanting more, so I'm looking forward to hearing their future efforts already. Well done. Go ahead and contact the band directly for ordering information on this one, I'm sure it's fairly inexpensive (and worth every penny).

Take My Chances "Down Here With Us" CD

Posted on Tuesday, August 8th, 2006 @ 10:24am » permalink

Take My Chances - Down Here With UsHello, bastards. No, that's not to direct any offense at Take My Chances, nor their debut full-length, "Down Here With Us", on One Day Savior. It's just that holy shit does some of this stuff sound dead on like Lifetime! And if not Lifetime, then perhaps Take My Chances' fellow (yet sadly defunct) Long Islanders The Movielife… if they were throwing a big ol' bash with, well, Lifetime. And fuck no that's not a bad thing… it's fucking great! Are you kidding me? 12 tracks of fast 'n' catchy as hell super energetic (Supergetic?) melodic hardcore in less than 20 minutes (I know, it's hard to consider that a "full-length", but screw it), including bonus covers of the Misfits' "Hybrid Moments" and "Wasted" by Black Flag. There are even a couple of borderline misleading harder, more dissonant tracks that showcase a harsher and more pissed side of the band, but I'll be damned if every fuckin' minute of it's not grade-A material. I'm sold. I don't even know what else to say. I had no idea what to expect from this CD and I've already listened to it like five times in less than 48 hours, which is practically unheard of for me. Great work!

Take My Chances "I Just Threw a Heroin Spoon at You"
Take My Chances "Open the Big Window"

This one just came out today, and downloading sucks, so don't be a douche. Shut the fuck up and buy this now:

@ Interpunk
@ Very Distribution

Unholy and Recon…

Posted on Monday, August 7th, 2006 @ 9:04am » permalink

Unholy - Awaken the SleepI've been waiting a fucking eternity for a proper Unholy release to finally see the light, so it's about damn time for this form of intense metallic hardcore to rise up and reclaim the Syracuse legacy – and at the hands of some seasoned veterans no less. For those unaware, Unholy's lineup boasts involvement in numerous other outstanding acts, among them Another Victim, Blood Runs Black, Godbelow, The Promise, Santa Sangre, and When Tigers Fight. "Awaken the Sleep", their debut EP from Closed Casket Activities, unloads seven tracks of absolutely scathing metalcore in about 17 minutes, chock full of everything from chunky power chords and meaty picking patterns with sludgy undercurrents to dissonant melodic accents or borderline caustic bursts. There's a good mix of basic hardcore-ish energy and thrashy crossover stylings, with the general riffing creativity I'd expect alongside Jonathan Dennison's presence, and I'd definitely cite this material as being a touch more metallic than most of the members' past exploits – granted it's pulled off with a sense of inventiveness that creates an identifiable niche that Unholy doesn't really share with any of their contemporaries. I'm all over this shit, kids:

Unholy "Dreams in the Witchhouse"

Also worth noting is that the lyrics are pretty damn intriguing on this outing, certainly carrying with them an apocalyptic sort of "holy terror" edge that you don't see very often these days at all:

Frozen in time, history has repeated itself. There is no purpose in the human condition. The existence of human kind is a curse from the gods of the deep. The existence of human kind is a curse from the caller of the moon. The existence of human kind is a curse planted by demons from another world.

Pick this shit up immediately and learn how this shit's supposed to be done:

@ Closed Casket Activities
@ Surprise Attack Records
@ Very Distribution

"Awaken the Sleep" is also going to be released in Europe by Silentstagnation Records with alternate packaging and a bonus track, so keep your eyes peeled for that gem as well!

Recon - GravesAlso new from Closed Casket Activities is the debut EP from upstate, New York's very own Recon. "Graves" drops seven tracks in a little under 20 minutes and tends to stay true to the 90's vision of metalcore in terms of utilizing burly vocals and lots of absolutely crushing midpaced mosh grooves amidst faster chord progressions that have that basic hardcore vibe given a thick metallic makeover. The fact that the recording is so damn crisp and dense really amplifies the force of these simplistic breakdowns and power chord rhythms as well, and that's a pretty damn great payoff for a band of this nature to benefit from, believe me! There are a couple of scarce instances where dashes of melody creep in with more of an overt metal feel to the riffing, but for the most part these cats aren't fucking with the formula: They know what they want to do and that's exactly how they deliver it to the listener. Good stuff. I don't know what else to say here. I bet these dudes can incite some serious carnage in the pit, though!

Recon "Nowhere to Run"

The label hasn't added this release to their webstore yet, but it's definitely out and about, so make the grab and do some damage:

@ Surprise Attack Records
@ Very Distribution

Exhorder "The Law" CD

Posted on Friday, August 4th, 2006 @ 8:48am » permalink

Exhorder - The LawMan, oh, man, I've pulled this one out a few times recently upon learning that former Exhorder vocalist Kyle Thomas has joined Alabama Thunderpussy – which should be quite fucking promising. But god fucking damnit, is "The Law" fucking amazing or what? I mean, everything these Louisiana thrashers did was totally badass, but this album in particular is just track after track of some of the meatiest riffs ever recorded. If anyone cares, the band formed in the mid-80's and released a couple of demos before their debut full-length, "Slaughter in the Vatican", which was followed in 1992 by "The Law", their second and final offering on Roadrunner Records.

While I don't really want to, I can't not mention that there was a time when Exhorder seemed best known by many as the band whose sound was allegedly assimilated by Pantera, but while certain similarities are undeniable, I don't care to speculate on any of that mess because it simply doesn't matter at this point. The bottom line is that Exhorder cranked out raging thrash with some wickedly fast vocal patterns, sludgy midpaced grooves of the highest caliber, and even some incredible clean/acoustic riffs to spice things up here and there. "The Law" also boasts one of the most fucked up guitar tones ever (in a good way, at least in my opinion), which is immediately identifiable and certainly accentuates the sheer force of a lot of the rhythms. I mean, you just can't fuck with a track like "(Cadence Of) The Dirge", which is easily my favorite Exhorder track of all time. This shit just crushes everything in its path.

A lot of people have never heard Exhorder to this day, but this is just classic, classic stuff. I've always really loved that fuckin' band name too, for some reason. I can remember a time when both Exhorder albums were rare as fuck and easily fetched upwards of $30 apiece on eBay, but thankfully Roadrunner decided to treat the band to one of those "Two From the Vault" reissues to get these jams back out there. Personally I don't own any of those "Two From the Vault" collections and don't really care for how they handle the packaging on those things, but beggars can't be choosers, so it's cool to see these gems available at all at this point in time. Pick this shit up and enjoy:

@ Amazon.com

Now, if only Roadrunner would go ahead and get the rest of their insanely awesome back catalog back in print – even if only in very limited form!

I'm tired of livin' life this way, crime pays, but for how long…?

Posted on Thursday, August 3rd, 2006 @ 9:03am » permalink

Here we have a re-release of the 2004 debut full-length from Chicago's own The Killer, "Better Judged by Twelve Than Carried by Six", on Organized Crime Records, this time with four new tracks and a bonus live DVD recorded earlier this year. I'm not at all a fan of live DVD's, to be totally honest with you, but the prospect of four new tracks from The Killer suits me just fine, as I've been a big fan of these cats ever since I first caught them opening for Integrity on the "To Die For" tour. If you've never been exposed to this band before, expect good ol' fashioned metallic hardcore the way it ought to be: Gruff vocals, burly power chords, a balance of chugging mosh and note-based metal riffing, generally midpaced tempos with just enough variation to keep things moving, and forceful songwriting with a bitter lyrical perspective. The new tracks have a slightly rawer recording that needs a little cleaning up in terms of the guitar tone, but from a writing perspective the material's consistent with the original nine tracks from the full-length… aside from the band's take on Twisted Sister's "Burn in Hell", of course – granted they do slow it down and sludge it up pretty well!

The Killer "Tell My Mom I Love Her"
The Killer "Darker"

Pick it up if you're down. At the moment it's only $10 straight from the label, bonuses and all:

@ Organized Crime Records
@ RevHQ

Also new from Organized Crime Records is the debut EP from Regret (Minneapolis), titled "Misery Brigade". I wasn't familiar with this band prior to hearing these six tracks, but this 16-minute affair damn sure leaves me hungry for more. They're basically offering up a concise and powerful attack of fierce metallic hardcore with loads of dissonant melody, which in turn gives their songwriting a really memorable and energetic sensibility that totally grabs me. It's not exactly original, there are a number of bands with a comparable approach out there, but the recording is nice and balanced and the songs are straight up quality all around, so I'm way the fuck into this disc. They just do it right, what can I say? The vocals are pretty damn ferocious, the riffs kick ass, the material covers a good range of tempos and atmospheres that keep things interesting… I don't know what else to say. I can't fucking wait to hear a full-length from these dudes. Great, great work.

Regret "We're All Desperate"

This one's not officially out just yet, but the label should be taking pre-orders soon, and this one's extremely recommended, so keep checking their website for availability!