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Death Before Dishonor "Count Me In" CD

Posted on Thursday, May 31st, 2007 @ 9:05am » permalink

Death Before Dishonor - Count Me InAhhh, finally the sophomore full-length from Death Before Dishonor (on Bridge Nine), delivering 13 tracks of no-frills metallic hardcore in just 28 minutes. There are still some overt little metal riffs that pop up on occasion, and of course there are a number of punishing breakdowns, but for the most part this material feels a hint more stripped down and straight up hardcore oriented in terms of utilizing powerfully gruff vocals, straightforward power chord rhythms, and a sick bass tone that makes for some hammering bass runs. There are some faster bursts that have a thrashy sort of edge, and you better believe there are plenty of solid midpaced chugfests, but there are also some unexpected twists and turns on rare occasion – be it a quick lead burst or a subtle little hint of vague melody tucked into some of the chord phrasings. At the end of the day, though, it's still just heavy, pissed, and in your face. There's just the right amount of subtle groove to make for some damn fine songwriting, too. Oh, and they close with a cover of Cock Sparrer's "England Belongs to Me" (replacing "England" with "Boston", of course). I hate to keep it so short, but I don't know what else to say, man. This is good shit. Slick layout printed on uncoated stock as well (always a plus), so… there you have it.

Death Before Dishonor "Infected"

I'd post another track, but you can buy these jams on iTunes and I don't want to piss anyone off. The thought of buying mp3's makes me want to vomit on life, though (but not as much as leeching assholes who download shit for free), so if you dig this shit fucking buy a real copy… something you can hold in your grubby little hands. It's available on crazy colored vinyl for all you collector types as well. Get to it:

@ Bridge Nine
@ RevHQ
@ Very Distribution

Geisha and Army of Flying Robots…

Posted on Wednesday, May 30th, 2007 @ 9:00am » permalink

Geisha - Mondo Dell'orroreLike Tractor, the "Mondo Dell'orrore" full-length (on SuperFi Records) from Geisha, another UK trio, is infinitely better than the material the band offered up a few years ago on the split 10" between the two. Sparse fits of heavily distorted vocals rest deep in the mix behind dense surges of (at times surprisingly melodic) power chord rhythms, thudding bass/percussion, and subdued wails of intense noise textures (also rather deep in the mix), but you really do have to check this shit out for yourself to get a real feel for what's going on. There's a good dose of "skronk" tucked away in portions of the guitar work, while the pulsing rhythms carry a dingy, sludgy churn to their underbelly, and a dissonant post-hardcore ring or even some rather relaxed clean passages seep forth on occasion. Plus they've got a great recording that perfectly benefits their attack with a really warm and natural set of tones that are certainly rugged – and overtly dirty when necessary – but somehow gel together into one big lump of sound without lacking enough clarity to do the job, so the various atmospheres created by the compositions are communicated just fine. There's definitely somewhat of an "unhinged" sensibility happening, but they totally pull it off and keep the material focused and, well… downright moving at its best. I don't know what else to say. I'm really fucking impressed. There's a truckload of diversity herein, but they manage to come across as completely cohesive and powerful, never once do things feel disjointed or particularly chaotic. Well fucking done, gentlemen. I'm sold. This is an excellent, excellent piece of work.

Geisha "Bondage Death"
Geisha "Geisha vs. Mechachrist"

Absolutely recommended, so pick one up if you dig the tunes. Crucial Blast wisely released this puppy here in the US (with slightly different packaging, it seems), so it shouldn't be hard to get your hands on:

@ SuperFi Records
@ Crucial Blast Records

Army of Flying Robots - s/tAlso from SuperFi Records is this self-titled early discography CD from Army of Flying Robots. Included are 13 tracks in just 23 minutes, taken from their self-titled 7" (2002), the split 10" with Jinn (2004), and the "Champion Boar Service" split 7" with Taint (2005) – all of which have been remastered, of course. The band unloads a rather explosive, grinding form of discordant, metallic hardcore/punk with a loose bit of a "screamo" sort of edge (but think the better aspects of the caustic, intense, socio-political "screamo" of the good ol' days, nothing related to the horseshit often associated with the term in 2007) in short, focused bursts (only one track tops three minutes). In a way it's sort of like the chuggingly frenetic style of Catharsis mixed with the slightly more metal-based riffs of some of those wild 'n' crazy old German bands like Acme, and the "screamo" element comes into play thanks to plenty of looser, noisier guitar textures and a pretty wicked form of scathing screams in the vocal department. The two tracks from the split 7" with Taint were all I had heard prior, and my minor complaints about the recording on said EP are the only such issues present here. The remastering has helped those two cuts out a little, but they still sound just a bit "flatter" in some way, whereas the rest of the tracks play through so seamlessly they might as well have come from the same recording session. The disc is packaged inside a thick 16-page booklet with all of the lyrics, song explanations, some photos, and a center spread of past show flyers and all that jazz. But despite a few silly song titles like "Do the Electric Boogaloo", these cats actually have plenty to say:

You try to tell us that image is nothing, but sell it to us for the right price the clown's toy balloons are getting no laughs, cut loose your demons on paper and ink smashing that glass and slicing your arm, is this ironic to turn on yourself wrinkled paper mutants scare them away, something's not right here, nothing's okay they'd sell the blue from the sky, they'd sell the light from your eyes.

I believe there are only two more recent tracks from the band that this CD doesn't contain, so hopefully they'll continue on long enough to gather enough material for a second collection – or perhaps an eventually more complete/robust reissue of this one! Good stuff.

Army of Flying Robots "Eyes"
Army of Flying Robots "Do the Electric Boogaloo"

As always, buy one if you like what you hear:

@ SuperFi Records
@ Robotic Empire

Serpent Cult "Trident Nor Fire" CD

Posted on Tuesday, May 29th, 2007 @ 8:53am » permalink

Serpent Cult - Trident Nor Fire"Trident Nor Fire" is the rather unique debut EP from Belgium's Serpent Cult (released by I Hate), and this shit is heavy. I'm talking just ridiculously dense, churning, downtuned riffs galore gelling together with plodding pulses of bass and thundering percussion – all alongside great (and wholly unexpected) female vocals that only add to the band's atypical stance within this particular realm of metal. It's slow, but not too slow. Sludgy, but not too sludgy. So, yeah… it basically rules. The sheer fury and mass of some of the rhythms actually reminds me of the mighty Crowbar to some degree, but with more of a doomy sort of "contemporary Sabbath" thing going on. Hell, they close with a cover of Uriah Heep's "Rainbow Demon", so that sort of gives you an idea of where some of their influences are coming from, but… rest assured the end result's definitely 1,000 times more crushing! And unlike many bands that operate within a similar musical space, Serpent Cult actually keeps things reigned in as far as song length, which is great. No track hits five minutes, so rather than beating you over the head and dragging the slow, pounding scenarios on and on and on, they take care of business and pack it in – thus leaving you wanting more! The recording's a touch on the muddy side, but it's probably intentional (Or perhaps unavoidable!) considering how fucking thick, nasty, and powerful these riffs are. And shit, it certainly doesn't matter, because it sounds pretty fuckin' great! Absolutely fucking awesome artwork as well. That shit caught my eye right off the bat. Very cool.

Serpent Cult "The Harvest"

If you like what you hear, pick this shit up and revel in the power of the riff:

@ The End Records

Poison the Well "Versions" CD

Posted on Friday, May 25th, 2007 @ 11:31am » permalink

Poison the Well - Versions"Versions" is the latest from Poison the Well (and their Ferret Music debut), and all l can say is that there are a lot of hilariously inaccurate "reviews" of this album floating around out there. I mean, shit, based on a lot of what I had read prior to hearing it for myself I was almost afraid to listen to the damn thing because people were practically making it out to be some kind of fucking country record or something, which is absolutely laughable. Is it better than their last album? Hell yes. I don't think I've listened to that thing since the week I bought it, and I might not even have it anymore. Is it more diverse than their earlier material? Does it represent a continued growth? Absolutely, yes, of course. But just because mandolin, banjo, synthesizers, and Wurlitzer piano are credited in the booklet, that doesn't make this a "country" sounding album on any level – nor do the occasional appearances of jangly slide guitar textures or things like that. There's still plenty of screaming, lots of caustic guitar work, and a good dose of frenetic speeds. But yeah, there's also singing and spoken passages, weird little rocked out riffs, darker and more atmospheric passages, some pretty intense melodic undercurrents, etc. Plus, loads of recording techniques are employed to keep things from always sounding the same, though all things considered the album is also surprisingly cohesive. But everything's always warm and spacious, and that's fuckin' great. And layering. Tons of layering – the fact that they basically wrote and recorded this shit as a trio is pretty damn impressive, even if the music's not particularly your thing. You can't pigeonhole it, though. As opposed to "metalcore" (which this really is not), on some level it's kind of like an AmRep noise rock take on Converge with an indie-twist or something like that. And I don't want the Converge mention to discredit Poison the Well in any way, because it's just a loose reference point within the bigger picture, they're not operating in that realm, they're doing their own thing here. My point is just that, while boundaries are pushed – and diversity and creativity welcomed with open arms – this is not some "alien" sounding album that's going to drop jaws to the floor, you know? I've never been a huge Poison the Well fan, but I have owned all of their albums at one point or another (and still have most of 'em), and they've come a hell of along way since the early days. For my money this is their best album, too (handsomely packaged in a slick digipack with some really nice looking artwork, I might add)… just give it a chance and don't buy into all the inaccurate bullshit hype that's out there. Whatever the hell you want to call it, there are actually some pretty damn killer moments herein.

Poison the Well "You Will Not Be Welcomed"
Poison the Well "Letter Thing"

You know the drill. Like it? Then buy it:

@ Ferret Music
@ The End Records
@ Very Distribution

Witch Hunt "This is Only the Beginning…" CD

Posted on Thursday, May 24th, 2007 @ 9:06am » permalink

Witch Hunt - This is Only the Beginning...This killer CD from Fistolo Records collects nearly an hour's worth of early material from Witch Hunt – including their awesome "…As Priorities Decay" LP from 2004, which I'm psyched to finally have on CD (I believe the original CD pressing on Profane Existence is out of print) since I absolutely never have time to screw with listening to vinyl. Also included is the four-track "…As Priorities Decay" demo (2003), the self-titled 7" (2002), tracks from the split 7" with Deathbag (2002), as well as a cover of Siege's "Conform" recorded live on WNYU's Crucial Chaos in 2003. For the uninitiated, Witch Hunt is much more diverse and innovative than your average hardcore/punk band, and opener "Sick Game" damn sure immediately sets the tone that – while such influences are present – this ain't gonna be a bunch of straightforward blasts of hardcore/punk power chords. The compositions utilize plenty of tempo changes and excellent melodic attributes alongside creatively dissonant chord phrasings and winding arrangements that blend both an energetic momentum and a darker, more sinister undercurrent – without straying but so far from their roots or becoming particularly "metallic". And of course there are tons of male/female vocal trade-offs that cover a wide range of shouting, yelling, screaming, and even a little bit of singing. There's somewhat of a subtly noisy vibe to some of the guitar work; while the nice, pounding basslines roam around between the guitars and drums to play a very focal role in the song structures, so… at its best the recording definitely achieves a strong balance between the elements here. The booklet's jammed with all of the lyrics and brief song explanations, which are obviously geared towards the socio-political realm – but always given a sincere, honest, personal touch… so there's a lot of cool content happening throughout:

Is it in my head, a figment of my imagination, or a harsh reality that can never be escaped? Ingrained in our minds and attempted to be ignored, a fight between realism and idealism, a fight which we cannot afford…

There's more to it than that, of course, but listen for yourself and be the judge. I'm certainly a Witch Hunt fan, but this release also reminds me that I suck about keeping up with so many bands, and I still need to grab the latest With Hunt full-length!

Witch Hunt "Sick Game"
Witch Hunt "By a Thread"
Witch Hunt "Shroud of Silence"

The last chunk of the disc was previously available on the "EP's & Crucial Chaos Radio Session" CD from Profane Existence, but to me this one's worth the price for the "…As Priorities Decay" material alone, so definitely make the grab if you're new to the Witch Hunt fold and like what you hear:

@ Fistolo Records
@ Interpunk

Magrudergrind "Rehashed" CD

Posted on Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007 @ 8:57am » permalink

Magrudergrind - Rehashed"Rehashed" is the debut "full-length" from the ever-prolific Magrudergrind on Six Weeks Records, where they tear through 18 tracks of their continually improving material in less than 22 minutes. There's a lot more diversity to be found here, for one thing. Obviously their name implies the ferocious, grinding speeds and metallic fury, but they're really starting to further branch out into various elements of power violence and straight up fast, thrashing hardcore/punk. There are a a few "longer" songs that top two to three minutes, and along with that comes a good dose of tempo changes that occasionally touches on thicker slow to midpaced rhythms as well as some killer crunchy breaks that definitely color up the tracks nicely – though of course hyper-energetic speeds still run the show for the most part! There's a lot of vocal variation as well, though, from yelping screams and barked shouts to lower growls, and then some. I hate to keep it so short, but I don't know what more to say, really. The performances are tight without losing any raw immediacy, the recording's solid, the lyrics are straightforward and pissed… the end. Cool cover art, too. Good stuff. These dudes have definitely come a long way in the last few years…

Magrudergrind "Kept Laughing"
Magrudergrind "Zero Substance"

Make the grab if you like what you hear, fuckers:

@ 29 North Records
@ The End Records
@ Interpunk

Have some Powermad…

Posted on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007 @ 6:41am » permalink

I'll be tied up with work-related shit today. Big fun. I should be back to updating tomorrow, though.

Unholy "Blood of the Medusa" CD

Posted on Monday, May 21st, 2007 @ 8:39am » permalink

Unholy - Blood of the MedusaThe impressive sophomore release from Lambgoat Records is the long-awaited debut full-length from Syracuse's own Unholy, and I don't think I need to outline their lineup's most awesome past exploits yet again, so… if you're unaware, search elsewhere on this site (or any number of others) and school yourself, eh? A much longer experience than the "Awaken the Sleep" EP, this outing obviously sees the band demonstrating a bit more diversity throughout (though some of those tracks appear here in re-recorded form) – much of which starts to rear its head right off the bat in the incredible instrumental opener "New Faith", which deals with quite a bit of layering and more of an atmospheric tinge to the feel of the riffs. There are some loosely Swedish-inspired runs to be found here and there, which was a little surprising at first, but passing through the Jonathan "Riff Machine" Dennison filter a lot of that stuff sort of comes across sounding more like "Heartwork" era Carcass anyway – with lots of slick little note bends and dense, palm-muted chugs – and you can't complain about that. Aside from a certain sense of hardcore-related energy that's present from time to time things are damn sure more metal than "metallic hardcore" these days as well – solos and all. There's just a sinister sort of aesthetic happening across the board, and the songwriting is more involved in terms of relying on more of the aforementioned layering techniques and Dennison's creatively melodic chord phrasings as opposed to anything too straightforward.

The first time I listened to this bad boy in the car I kind of felt like the recording or the mix was a little weird because the vocals felt a little dry and/or slightly up front, but my car's sort of a piece of shit, and everything sounds much better in headphones, so… go figure. The guitars definitely run the show and sound fuckin' great – super crisp and tight with just the right amount of subtly gritty texture, so they're aptly crunchy without going at all over the top. There's just enough of a bass presence to make its mark, too (I'd still like to hear a hint more, though!). I'd probably like to hear something about the vocals tweaked, but I really can't put my finger on it, and as long as those guitars are bustin' out the jams like this, I'm alright. The tracklist is divided into three segments within the booklet – "Dirt", "Decay", and "Demise" – the lyrics to each of which are prefaced by brief "stories" that expand upon the contents of the material and lend a more narrative touch:

The new earth is now decaying, the human species has now overpopulated itself, like maggots hatching from a rotting corpse. Every inch of the planet is scarred by buildings and highways. Beggars of life try to fight against powers they cannot grasp, hope fades like the coming of night. The Sun slept and woke with disease, the once bright light now turns black…

And the lyrics are once again quite curious – carrying that apocalyptic sort of edge that always catches my attention:

Come and gone like the hardest night rain of the darkest night sky. 200 years have left mankind with no end, to an empty life, to an empty world, just repeating itself, to an empty hell. Waiting for nothingness. Wings are spread as this dark angel falls from the sky, falling from the stars to to bring an answer to mankind. Receding tissue decays from hollowed bones. Dried blood crumbles to the ground beneath a rotting soul…

Definitely a different looking layout than anticipated as well, so it's cool to see the band doing their own thing all around with this material. Nicely done. I hope things start to pick up for both the band and the label based on this shit, so check it out and see what you think:

Unholy "A Whisper in Darkness"

This one's not out until the first week of June, but several pre-order packages are already available (CD's, shirts, and even good ol' vinyl for all you collectors) and they'll ship a little early, so… why wait? And don't be an asshole and download this shit: Buy it if you're a fan. Get to it:

@ Lambgoat Records

Disrupt "Unrest" and "The Rest"…

Posted on Friday, May 18th, 2007 @ 9:14am » permalink

Disrupt - UnrestHere Relapse Records begins their revisitation of the back catalog from legendary Boston act Disrupt, who helped lay the foundations for legions of bands to follow with their brand of grinding hardcore/crust. Recorded in 1992 and remastered in 2006, this disc contains the 20 tracks from their sole full-length, the now classic "Unrest", plus 10 tracks from the "Deprived" 7" (which also appeared on the original CD pressing of "Unrest" and were recorded during the same sessions as the LP) – both of which were originally released by Relapse in 1994. And man, does this shit ever represent so much of what eventually became the textbook sound of the genre: A dual vocal attack of low, burly growls and sneering upper-midrange screams (sporadically joined by a third, female vocalist for added variety); thick, raging power chord rhythms that run all over the place from hardcore/punk to thrash to grind – not to mention from absolutely ripping, blasting speeds to slower, dingier plods; throbbing distorted basslines… right down to the occasional intro samples and extreme visuals that tie in with the intense socio-political lyrical attacks on racism, sexism, vivisection, religion, war, domestic abuse, corruption, etc. While there are hints of diversity here and there, there's admittedly not exactly a ton of variety to be found here, but that's not the point anyway. They knew exactly what the fuck they were doing, they did it right, and it sounds fucking great to this day. The material's got an ace remastering job and easily stands the test of time, so you'd be hard-pressed to find many contemporary albums that sounds this good – which certainly speaks volumes of this material given its age. Sadly there are no liner notes included (Perhaps they were reserved for the "Disruptdead" box set edition?), but you do get all of the lyrics as well as full-page spreads of the records' original cover art, so… that'll do! Great shit… no doubt.

Disrupt "Domestic Prison"
Disrupt "Down My Throat"
Disrupt "Squandered"
Disrupt "Smash Divisions"

Absolutely make the grab if you missed out on these cats more than a decade ago. As many bands who've borrowed from this style over the years, here's about an hour's worth of such executed to perfection, damn near as fine as it'll ever be:

@ Relapse Records
@ The End Records

Disrupt - The RestAnd if "Unrest" contains about an hour's worth of Disrupt executing to perfection, then "The Rest" (also on Relapse Records) takes that amount right over the top for two fucking CD's worth of the same relentlessly grinding, crust-laden hardcore/punk: That's 78 tracks across more than two hours, folks. Included are the "People Killing People" split LP with Sauna (1993); split 7"s with Warcollapse (1994), Tuomiopäivan Lapset (1993), Taste of Fear (1992), Disdain (1991), Resist (1991), and Destroy (1991); the "Refuse Planet" (1991) and self-titled (1990) 7"s; a few compilation tracks; the "Millions Die for Moneymaking" demo (1988), a rehearsal demo from 1990; and a live set from 1992. Obviously since so much material is covered there are variances here and there in terms of some material coming across as a little more stripped down, a little more hardcore/punk in nature, a bit rawer in production values, etc. – but for the most part it's, again, a pretty god damn consistent bludgeoning of material. There's not a ton of diversity, and what range does present itself can be fairly subtle, but that's no more the point here than it was with "Unrest", right?

I'm in no way sure why the material on the first disc wasn't presented in chronological (or reverse chronological) order, but aside from nitpicky details it doesn't really matter, because even the "worst" sounding material herein (at least on this first disc) sounds pretty solid, and the bulk of the shit actually sounds pretty damn good . It's somewhat shocking considering its age and the fact that most of the stuff originally appeared on small-run vinyl releases, but you'll be in for a pretty consistent listening experience, which once again speaks to the quality of the remastering. Disc 2, well, I mean… all of the demo/rehearsal stuff sounds pretty shitty, and the live tracks from '92 only fare marginally better, but you can't expect but so much from such inclusions, you know? You're basically getting two CD's for the price of one anyway, so even if you look at the second disc as a batch of ultra obscure (if less enjoyable) bonus tracks you're still getting your money's worth, 'cause the first disc is a surefire keeper. There are still no liner notes, but forget that this time, 'cause there's no fucking room! The massive booklet is already jam packed with most all of the lyrics and full-page spreads of most of the original cover art, plus plenty of old photos, flyers, and other various little snippets of artwork. Damn sure a mammoth collection of tunes when all is said and done…

Disrupt "Protest"
Disrupt "No One Seems to Give a Fuck"
Disrupt "Give it Back"
Disrupt "Pigs Suck"

I wholly encourage the support of such collections, so fucking buy one if you like what you hear. Relapse has way more resources than most labels in this realm, so the more of these types of things they put out, the better:

@ Relapse Records
@ The End Records

Tractor, ¡Apeshit!, and Forward Now

Posted on Thursday, May 17th, 2007 @ 9:03am » permalink

Tractor - Demo 2006I didn't really care for their split 10" with Geisha, but the 2006 demo from UK trio Tractor is a vast improvement – taking their brand of scraggly "noise rock" (or whatever the hell you want to call it) into much more structured and enjoyable territory. The slow, pounding tempos are driven largely by pulsing basslines and stripped down beats with surges of guitar noise and simple power chord rhythms; while the vocals are basically straight up yelling with just a little bit of a distant sort of distorted crackle – which is probably due to their raw recording methods alone, because there are no fucking frills here, my friends. And I don't say that as a complaint, because I actually dig the recording – and everything else, for that matter. It wouldn't hurt if there was a little more brightness happening to bring out some of the additional grittiness of the textures and therefore draw out a hint more separation between the elements, but that's a minor issue. Bizarre lyrics, too. There's sort of a storytelling kind of vibe going on, but through choppy little phrases and statements. I don't know, they keep it consistent here, there's not much else to say. Given the stark improvements they've undergone thus far I'll definitely be looking forward to hearing more.

Tractor "Man From A.N.O.T.H.E.R. P.L.A.C.E."

If you like what you hear, you can download the entire demo from the band's website, or get your hands on a CD-R if you're traditional like that (and you know I am), in which case I'd recommend shooting them an email.

¡Apeshit! - s/tI was told that this CD-R is a demo, though I'm not entirely sure if it's technically considered a "demo" by the band or not, seeing as they did go to the trouble of having the material properly mastered and what have you. But whatever the case, the debut outing from ¡Apeshit! contains 13 tracks (only three of which top one minute in length) of scathingly frenzied and chaotic "screamo" sounding bursts in a mere 10 minutes and 37 seconds. But the whole "screamo" thing, that's just an audial point of reference due to all of the caustic riffs, frantic percussive blasts, and, well… relentless screaming. 'Cause, I mean… a bunch 30-second songs with names like "Spleen Cuisine", "Touch Me Gently", or "Your Chewbacca Boots Are Making Me Thristy"? Nah, these dudes don't seem to be operating in that whole intensely-socio-political, rolling-around-on-the-floor-on-the-verge-of-tears "screamo" space, you know what I mean? And when they actually take a quick breather for some of the darker and more openly dissonant chords or borderline metallic, "chugging" rhythmic shifts they can really do some damage here. I tend to be picky about this kind of material and can only take it in small doses, but a 10-and-a-half minute dose certainly qualifies as such, and there's enough variety here to keep the blatant insanity from getting too irritating. Clean, simple packaging, too. And I, for one, love the term "apeshit", so the band name gets two big thumbs up here!

¡Apeshit! "Thermos"
¡Apeshit! "D-4 Daggers in the Air"

The band doesn't have online ordering hooked up on their merch page yet, but shoot 'em an email at the bottom of the page to see about getting your hands on one of these jams if this is your thing.

Forward Now - SmileremoverThe latest from Yawn Factory is a limited edition (200 copies) remastered reissue of "Smileremover", the 1995 demo from obscure New York duo Forward Now… and this is some weird shit. Really. One minute it's grinding, power violence styled blasting with harshly shouted/screamed vocals; the next it's surging midpaced power chords that have an eerie, melodic sense of black metal atmosphere… but with these weird doubled singing vocals!? And all that's occasionally interspersed with some pretty badass dirges akin to a Crowbar meets Godflesh kind of thing, or maybe even some really lush sounding clean passages. Not to mention dashes of wacky pinch harmonic riffs, some totally bizarre drum programming, samples, etc. I don't entirely "get it", and some of it, well… some of it's just not that hot, but… at the same time, some of it's fuckin' great!? Like I said, it's weird. Forward Now is probably the only band on the face of the fucking planet that's ever been able to have different elements of their material compared to Apartment 213 and Smashing Pumpkins. Seriously. The eight tracks clock in past 41 minutes, so there's a good chunk of material to explore here, and the disc is packaged in a nice little brown chipboard envelope screenprinted with black and metallic silver inks, so… this is a solid little "labor of love" release that I can appreciate on many levels, regardless of the fact that the contents aren't always my thing. That being said, check this shit out and see what you make of it… and keep in mind that these two tracks still won't give you a complete picture!

Forward Now "Wall"
Forward Now "Coward White Man"

Ordering information for this one's on the label's MySpace page, and they've got a ridiculously cheap deal where you can get both of their releases thus far for just $12 (yes, that's two CD's for $12 total), so… definitely look into that shit if you're curious.

Thanatos "Realm of Ecstasy" 2xCD

Posted on Wednesday, May 16th, 2007 @ 8:58am » permalink

Thanatos - Realm of EcstasyThe second of the Thanatos reissues from Areadeath Productions is obviously the band's sophomore full-length, "Realm of Ecstasy", first released in 1992 (the band originally split later that same year) by Shark Records. Equally as killer as their debut, this is noticeably more of a death metal record across the board. The vocals are little lower and have more of that guttural death metal angle happening, the midpaced riffs are a bit chunkier and more in your face, the faster riffs and blasts a little more intense and extreme, etc. There are also a couple of slightly longer and more involved songs, in addition to some scattered riffs throughout the album that head in a subtly more "technical" direction (check about 0:55 into "Human Combustion", for example). They still tossed in some ripping solos and thrash riffs, though, so regardless of the direction that their influences may have been leaning in they were still capable of executing rather badass songwriting that possessed some unexpectedly catchy, memorable runs ("Tied Up, Sliced Up" is pretty fuckin' classic all around). It's cool because – as one would expect given the death metal slant – the material's a little darker this time around, but they retained a similar sense of energy to what they were dealing with in years prior, which definitely pays off in terms of giving this material an edge over your average early-90's death metal record.

The second disc isn't as interesting this time around as none of the bonus material was gleaned from official demos or anything like that. Things start off with a pretty shitty sounding 1985 promo tape that was recorded several months after the band's first demo. Despite the muddy sound quality their rapid growth was already quite apparent, though. After that it's four sets of rehearsal tracks from 1986, most of which are listenable, but still a little too craggy and raw to do anyone much good. Sometimes they're way too muddy, sometimes the vocals are too loud, etc. Then they close it out with an unreleased 1987 demo recording of "The Howling" that also has a muddy sort of sound to it, but again, it is tolerable. You can't expect but so much from random death/thrash metal rehearsal tracks that are upwards of 20 years old, though, so… fuck it. Oh, and there are also a bunch of CD-Rom videos on the first disc, but once again they only show up as raw data files for me, so I can't get any of them to play!? Go figure. But this one's packaged with another killer booklet that contains all of the lyrics, liner notes, old photos, and a band interview looking back on this specific time period leading up to their breakup. There's also a four-panel "poster" of the cover art with Chinese translations of the lyrics and liner notes on the back, as well as another little card insert with classic Thanatos artwork on one side and an old band pic on the other. Good stuff.

Thanatos "Tied Up, Sliced Up"
Thanatos "Human Combustion"

As mentioned last time, you can order the entire box set of these Thanatos reissues from Evil Legend Records for just $35, but I'd email the label if you're interested in buying any of the CD's individually. The pressing's limited and not widely available in the US, so don't sleep on it for long if you're a big fan of this classic age of death metal!

Driller Killer "Fuck the World" and "Reality Bites"…

Posted on Tuesday, May 15th, 2007 @ 8:51am » permalink

Driller Killer - Fuck the WorldNext up in the set of Driller Killer reissues from Crimes Against Humanity Records is their third full-length (originally released in 1997), "Fuck the World". And it's with this album that I'm faced with the possibility that perhaps one of the reasons I was never a big Driller Killer fan may have been because, well… Driller Killer simply has some absolutely fucking terrible artwork on many of their albums, and this one in particular is guilty… as… charged. Does that have anything to do with the quality of the music? Hell no. But just look at that thing, man! Give me a break! Anyway, this time around it's 16 short (none reaching three minutes), fast tracks in about 33 minutes. Gruff, burly vocals over a metal-tinged take on crust-ish hardcore/punk driven by basic power chords and scorching lead breaks – here given a little more of an energetic kick in the ass thanks to loads of speed and a subtly rocked out kind of vibe. Less Discharge, more Motörhead perhaps. Even the lyrics abandon most of the socio-political types of topics in favor of straight up bitterness and pessimistic attitudes, at times rather direct and, well, kinda humorous, too:

You burn churches, you paint your face, spend Xmas at mom's, what a fuckin' disgrace. Blind, naked, and covered with shit. If bullshit had a value you'd be a billionaire, empowered by the dark, bloody lame nightmare.

This one's pretty damn consistent, so that about does it, really.

Driller Killer "HS.69"
Driller Killer "I Couldn't Care Less"

Pick it up straight from the label if you're a fan:

@ Crimes Against Humanity

Driller Killer - Reality BitesAnd again from Crimes Against Humanity Records is a reissue of the fourth Driller Killer album from 1998, "Reality Bites", which – if nothing else – has better cover art than the last one! But seriously, there are actually some distinct differences between the two albums on a musical level. First off, whereas "Fuck the World" was actually quite crisply produced, this time around things take a step back towards the slightly rawer recording techniques of the band's earlier work, though stylistically they're still moving away from the Discharge angle with longer songs and a hell of a lot more tempo changes throughout. Make no mistake, there's still plenty of relentless speed, but there's also a ton of awesomely crunchy midpaced riffing and palm-muted chugging that comes as a bit of a surprise. And there's still a punk rock sort of energy to everything, it's just that a lot of it definitely comes across with more of a metallic sort of influence. This doesn't sound like The Exploited, but it does sort of have a comparable form of that "punk metal" aesthetic happening in terms of the general vibe. I don't necessarily think the songs need to fall in the three- to four-minute minute range as opposed to the one- to three-minute range (this album's 10 minutes longer than "Fuck the World", despite containing two fewer tracks), but that's not a big deal. The vast majority of the band's output could use some serious work in the presentation department (even when the cover art's decent most of the layouts look pretty damn weak), but I have to say that musically they're fairly solid regardless of what little twists and turns they take with each subsequent album.

Driller Killer "…The Phanatix"
Driller Killer "God Forgives"

And again, the label's cheap, so grab a copy from them if you're into the tracks:

@ Crimes Against Humanity

Battlefields and Building Better Bombs…

Posted on Monday, May 14th, 2007 @ 10:53am » permalink

Battlefields - Stained With the Blood of an EmpireI believe "Stained With the Blood of an Empire" (Init Records) is the debut release from Battlefields, and it certainly gets me curious as to where this band is going to go. Be not misled by the appearance of only four tracks, as each song tops seven minutes and the total running time of the disc nears 35 minutes. Opening with shimmery clean guitars and abstract ambient hums over sparse percussive rolls before drying out a bit and becoming more riff-oriented, everything finally builds up to distortion and a dual vocal attack of fierce midrange sneers and lower "growls" (for lack of a better word) some five minutes in – reverting back to eerily reverberated clean guitars and distant hums less than a minute later (this time with vocals, however). That pretty much sets the stage for the type of ever-shifting dynamics that make up this listening experience as a whole, from bright smatterings of those "post-rock" textures and stripped down clean passages to surging power chord rhythms and even the occasional surfacing of borderline sludgy, Sabbath-esque "doom". I love the atmosphere of the music, especially some of the darker clean passages (which actually tend to dominate several of the compositions), which are not only the most striking elements, but also work the best with the spacious and natural warmth of the recording. It's sort of weird, because certain aspects of the recording are fuckin' great, but the distorted guitars could definitely use a little more oomph in terms of filling out the mix and adding contrast – though it's possible that with all the back-and-forth they intentionally tried to keep the distorted passages from being overpowering, I'm not sure. The bass could use a hint more prominence as well, though, because it certainly doesn't jump out at you, and there's plenty of room in the heart of the mix for that additional low-end throb. But aside from those minor nuances, this is a nice little release. A damn solid start, and most likely the best is still to come…

Battlefields "Intimations of Antiquity"

Make the grab if you like what you hear:

@ Init Records
@ RevHQ

Building Better Bombs - Freak Out SquaresAlso new from Init Records is "Freak Out Squares", the debut full-length from Building Better Bombs, which taught me – yet again – that you really can't judge a book (or a CD) by its cover. Having never heard of this band before, the outer artwork of the digipack gave me the distinct impression that I would probably not enjoy this album very much. Well… oops… 'cause this is actually pretty god damn good! 13 tracks, about 28 minutes, and loads of super energetic and, well… surprisingly original material that tears through all kinds of hardcore/punk influences with an indie twist. There are some straight up old school-ish three chord hardcore runs; lightly melodic, rocked out power chords; noisier surges of lightly chaotic textures; a little ringing post-hardcore dissonance; and an absolute ton of other little bits and pieces strewn about throughout (including some totally raging basslines). Hell, there are even a few scattered little hip-hop sounding fits of glitchy beats and shit!? And the vocals, while largely dominated by lightly distorted yelling/shouting/screaming, also hit on a few shockingly catchy moments (as well as some truly effective bursts of near-singing), so… yeah, fuck it, this is some good shit right here. That's all there is to it. Hey, the artwork may not be my thing (though the inner spread of the 12-panel booklet that's covered in handwritten song titles, lyrics, and other insanity looks awesome), but what can I say? This is actually a killer record. Never saw it coming. I'm impressed. Bonus points for having a song titled "Kid Tested, Motherfuckin' Approved", too!

Building Better Bombs "Bottle Rocket"
Building Better Bombs "No Handouts"

Definitely recommended, so pick one up if the samples intrigue you:

@ Init Records

Crux "Rev Smrti – Scream of Death" CD

Posted on Friday, May 11th, 2007 @ 9:40am » permalink

Crux - Rev Smrti- Scream of DeathCrux formed in Czechoslovakia in the late-80's (with lineup ties to Root and Denet), and while I admittedly know little about their history, I bought this fucker immediately after I randomly stumbled across some samples last week. It's that good, trust me. The trio recorded their first demo, "Scream of Death", in 1990, and this new CD re-release from I Hate is the first to have used the original master tape; while also tacking on four bonus tracks recorded in 1990, 1992, 1998, and 2003. I believe there are also some tracks included from 1993's "Terrific Warrior" demo, which was recorded with a slightly different lineup, but the recording credits aren't very specific at all, so… I'm not entirely sure. But I don't fucking care, man. Wherever it came from, this is some absolutely stellar death/thrash (with occasional little hints of black metal) that's jam packed with incredible riffs and tons of energy. From awesomely fast, rugged thrash metal to slightly chunkier midpaced rhythms, all fronted by totally killer vocals that lend an added sense of fierce aggression to everything. But what really gets me are the unexpected melodic attributes that pop up throughout the material, from the well-executed solos and the subtle bass runs to the surprisingly unique rhythmic twists and even a few fuckin' awesome acoustic passages – especially when contrasted by the sneering hostility of the vocals. And all of this made even more impressive considering the age of the recordings and the band's lack of finances at the time! Insane!

As far as the bonus tracks, I've been able to determine that the first is a 1998 cover of Crux's "Demons of Darkness" recorded by Entrails and taken from their "Serpent Seed" album; while the second seems to be an expanded instrumental interpretation of Crux's "The First Key" (here called "The Last Key") recorded in 1992 by Cales (and both Entrails and Cales featured among their ranks Petr "Blackosh" HoÅ¡ek from Crux) – though the CD packaging wasn't a huge help there. The third is an acoustic rendition of "Awathea" recorded in 2003, but I have absolutely zero details there. And the final track, "Farm House"? Recorded in 1990, I can only assume it's an early, pre-"Scream of Death" recording from the band's rehearsal space… in a farm house. And yes, it sounds like utter shit, but it's only 30 seconds long, so… no worries! The first three bonus tracks are great, and the inconsistencies of the recordings are insignificant in terms of the listening experience.

The disc is packaged alongside a 20-page booklet with some great liner notes about the band's early history, as well as plenty of old pictures and English translations of the lyrics. My only minor complaint, which I touched on earlier, is that the recording credits are way too vague. It's not a big deal, but it'd have been nice had they better outlined exactly where all this stuff came from, you know? Like I said, though, I don't care, 'cause this shit rips. I'm totally blown away by how awesome this CD is, and I've listened to it a shitload already. Highly recommended. Just check out how fucking epic "The First Key" is. Amazing. I love it.

Crux "The First Key"
Crux "Bells of Return"

I'm telling you, this shit's pure gold, so don't be an ass. If you like what you hear, definitely pick up a copy for yourself:

@ The End Records

Facada and Diagnose…

Posted on Thursday, May 10th, 2007 @ 9:35am » permalink

Facada - Indigesto"Indigesto" is the raging debut full-length from Brazilian grind trio Facada on Independência Records (who doesn't seem to have a website that I can find), and I have to open by saying that this thing looks awesome. The outer packaging is covered in brightly colored photography with a lot of dirty looking textures, and inside it's all high contrast imagery printed in brown ink alongside the lyrics – with everything printed on matte cream-colored stock for added effect. Fuckin' beautiful! Musically, the band seems to have come a long way from their demo (see below), still relying heavily on blazing speeds and a mix of tremolo picking runs and ripping power chords, but creating more distinction between the high/low vocal attack and definitely injecting more tempo changes throughout this material, which gives the listener a little more to grab onto. They never slow things down too much, and still keep things short but sweet (only two songs pass the two-minute mark and they crank out 20 tracks in about a half-hour), but there's a little more diversity happening here as well – with a couple of sludgy breaks that are actually pretty "slow", a little bit of noisy discordance, and even some very rare fits of slightly jazzy drumming (I'd love to hear a touch more of that!). These variances are definitely spread distantly throughout the album, though, so the key factor is still fast, explosive, energetic grindcore rooted in the classic niche of the genre. The recording's still got a nice sense of ruggedness to it, but there's a hint more clarity this time out in terms of being able to make out the basslines and such, which is great. The percussion also feels a little warmer and more natural as well, and I'm always a proponent of that kind of move. The vast majority of the lyrics are in Portuguese, but I'm assuming based on the imagery and a few lines of what English lyrics do appear that there's a socio-political sort of message happening throughout the bulk of the tracks. Whatever the case, this band totally tears it up, and is absolutely one to watch out for…

Facada "Fumo"
Facada "9mm de Redenção"
Facada "Falta Excesso"

I'm thinking it might be a little bit of a chore to get your hands on this one outside of Brazil, but contact the band on MySpace to see what's up in terms of ordering information. Definitely show your support if you like that you hear!

Facada - s/tThis demo dates all the way back to 2004 and was the debut release from Facada, where they blasted through 10 tracks (all of which are exclusive to this demo, I believe) of their ruthless grind in 11-and-a-half minutes on the dot. No song hits two minutes and for the most part they just rip through loads of death metal-infused tremolo picking or blistering power chord rhythms with linearly screamed vocals. On rare occasion there's an ever so slightly "slower" break that gets a bit chunkier and throws in some palm-muting while touching on a hint of hardcore-esque "groove" (for lack of a better word), which I love, but even though there's not a ton of diversity throughout the demo, at less than 12 minutes it's not like you feel like you're enduring a marathon, you know? And the recording's pretty damn strong for a demo as well: Thick, relatively balanced, etc. No complaints from me. The CD-R is housed inside a simple yet highly effective full-color slipcase with a small tab on the bottom that tucks inside to hold the disc in place. No lyrics are included, which is a shame, but the artwork looks fuckin' great, so… for a CD-R demo they really did a nice job packaging it up. Well done, overall.

Facada "Culpa"
Facada "Apocalipse Agora"

Especially seeing as it's three years old now, I'd again recommend contacting the band via MySpace to see about getting your hands on this one.

Diagnose - Neurose XXIAlso from Brazil and having shared a guitarist with Facada was Diagnose, who called it quits late last year – just shy of their 10-year anniversary and shortly after releasing their first full-length, "Neurose XXI", on Nocaute Discos. Another trio, their sound is actually not very far from Facada's at all, as here they blast through 22 tracks of ripping grind in about 27 minutes. The key differences are that here the vocals stick with more of a snarled upper-midrange yell (only occasionally reverting to a lower sort of "grunt"), and musically – though quite fast – they tend to stray away from tremolo picking in favor of thicker power chord rhythms that can carry a crusty sort of hardcore/punk undercurrent at times. But despite a relatively one-sided approach, they – again like Facada – keep the energy level high and leave little room for losing steam in the grand scheme of things. A hint more diversity wouldn't hurt, but there are some pretty crushing breakdowns in a few instances that definitely jump out at you. Solid recording, too. Everything's nice and thick without venturing into muddy territory, the mix is crisp enough to grant space to all of the elements, and even though you can't really make out very much of the bass presence, it's definitely back there in the distance plugging away and filling things out. The cover art has a gore grind sort of look to it, but I don't think that's what's happening here. All of the lyrics are in Portuguese, so I'm not entirely sure, but I'd expect more of the socio-political angle once more based on the types of influences these guys were working with. Good stuff. It's a damn shame they broke up right after the album was released, but at least the material was documented!

Diagnose "Neurose XXI"
Diagnose "Vende-Se"
Diagnose "In Extremis"

Once more: Ordering information? I'm not entirely sure, so… if you're into it, please do get in touch with either the band or the label to see what's up. Go!

This Time Tomorrow "Nadir" CD

Posted on Wednesday, May 9th, 2007 @ 9:00am » permalink

This Time Tomorrow - NadirI didn't even know New Age Records was still around, but apparently they are, as they recently released "Nadir", the debut full-length from This Time Tomorrow. They basically tear through nine generally fast 'n' furious tracks in 25 minutes, crossing a range of metallic hardcore influences while also tossing in a few unexpectedly sludgy twists and turns. For the most part you'll find lots of intense (and at times borderline grinding) speeds and churning power chords with sort of a Catharsis/Gehenna kind of thing happening in a way, but the vocals are more of a straightforward strained yelling. There are a few nice, thick breakdowns; sparse appearances of discordant chords or slightly more chaotic guitar textures; or the aforementioned quick, out-of-nowhere, rocked out southern-tinged sludge runs; but they tend to blast right on through for the most part. Something about the recording took my ears some getting used to, but I can't quite place it. I guess it's something about the dingy grit they're shooting for with the distortion (affecting both the guitars and bass), which is actually pretty damn fitting of their approach, but it tends to mask some of the differentiation between the instruments a bit. There's a good low-end thump to the percussion though, and once my ears adjust to the mix of the textures it's a pretty solid outing. The vocals sound pretty damn sick regardless, though, and that's especially cool given the surprising ferocity of the lyrics:

When hoofbeats roar upon the earth and disease devours your eyes. When you've lost all you were ever worth and insects cloud the skies. When you've already been stripped of everything and nothing is too low, there you'll drive the nail. Venom runs down your throat. You'll never have your fill. Seven eyes will watch you, walls will hear you whisper. You will beg, you will crawl, 'til there's nothing left to sell. Make ready the heavens, there's no more room in hell. You, prince among demons, your empire the land of the dead. Winter nights will rust through faith, the holy come for your head. You, who bury hope before the hopeless. You who walk on talon feet. May you drown in the blood of your kings. Let sleepless nights in skeleton trees lay me to rest in a shallow of leaves. Let me decay, give me my end. I'll give you soil, fertile once again. Give me the floors of long dead seas, give me the halls of slaughtered kings. Tear me apart or let me sleep. Give me wind sweet with disease or just give me your dead for a shell. There's no more room in hell.

Not too shabby!

This Time Tomorrow "IV."

Like it? Then buy one, suckers:

@ New Age Records
@ RevHQ
@ Very Distribution

Driller Killer "Total Fuckin' Brutalized!" CD

Posted on Tuesday, May 8th, 2007 @ 9:02am » permalink

Driller Killer - Total Fuckin' Brutalized!I've been running behind on this, but Crimes Against Humanity Records recently dropped a fucking ton of reissues from longstanding Swedish crust icons Driller Killer, the first of which is "Total Fuckin' Brutalized!" – combining 1994's "Brutalize" and 1995's "Totalfuckinghate" on one CD for a total of 26 tracks in just under an hour's time. For no particular reason whatsoever, I was never a huge Driller Killer fan, I don't know why, but for the most part this collection of early material is straight up D-beat mastery: No frills, no bullshit. Expect basic, surging power chords; chaotically rocked out solo bursts; gruffly barked vocals; generally short tracks… it's basically the textbook "Discharge but heavier" framework. And shit, several of the songs are in the total Discharge vein of barely using any lyrics at all:

The sound of death fills the air
Acts of violence
Amounts of blood on the ground
Acts of violence

Simple enough, eh? Both albums were recorded at Studio Fredman, but they retain just the right amount of the noisy ruggedness you'd expect from the crust realm. Each sounds perfectly suitable, but "Totalfuckinghate" does start to develop a little more of that crisper, crunchier sound (not to mention slightly longer songs) – and though it plays back fairly consistently against the "Brutalize" tracks, that does add some punch and start to leave a mark. I'm all for it. The booklet keeps it simple with the original cover art from each album, lyrics, and recording information. Liner notes might've been nice as I personally don't know a great deal about Driller Killer's background, but the most important elements are all covered, so screw it. I've admittedly started to lose some interest in this particular niche in the last couple of years, I guess because there are so many bands that are all kind of operating in the same space, but it's hard to say. Whatever the case, I can certainly still appreciate crusty D-beat punk done right, and that's damn sure what you've got here. Original? No. Not now, nor in the early- to mid-90's. But there's a great sense of energy that makes for some hard-hitting material, and that's what counts.

Driller Killer "Legacy of Anger"
Driller Killer "Eternal Warfare"
Driller Killer "Food for Worms"
Driller Killer "Ruled by None"

It's only $9 straight from the label, so make the grab if you like what you hear:

@ Crimes Against Humanity Records

Thanatos "Emerging From the Netherworlds" 2xCD

Posted on Monday, May 7th, 2007 @ 8:59am » permalink

Thanatos - Emerging From the NetherworldsWell, all I can say to start is that Areadeath Productions seems to be an amazing Chinese label that goes above and beyond in terms of jamming their reissues completely full of content. Available on its own and as a part of a limited edition box set (of which I'll cover the other portions in the coming weeks), this 2xCD reissue tackles "Emerging From the Netherworlds", the debut full-length from Thanatos, originally released by Shark Records in 1990. Thanatos is known as one of The Netherlands' first death metal bands, having formed in 1984 and released numerous demos prior to this album, though in all truth there's arguably still more of an old school thrash influence dominating this material. The sheer aggression of the vocal performance combined with occasional outbursts of ripping tremolo picking or subtly darker sounding chord phrasings do point towards an early incarnation of death metal, but the pacing is not at all dominated by speed (or "brutality" or whatever), and in fact the songwriting is chock full of crunchy midpaced rhythms and late-80's-styled thrash arrangements that are actually quite memorable from time to time. So, at least to my ears, this album comes across as more thrash than death metal, despite the mingling of the two throughout. According to the liner notes the bulk of the recording was done live, and it actually sounds pretty damn good all things considered. I assume everything's been remastered, and I have no complaints at all. The bass presence on the album tracks kicks ass, all of the elements are crisp and clear, etc. Good stuff, for sure.

Disc 2 contains well over an hour's worth of bonus material, starting with the 14-track "Official Live Tape 1987". I have to say, I didn't expect much given its age and seeing as I'm not a fan of live recordings as it is, but the songs sound unbelievably solid for having come from a 20-year old tape. Seriously! You'll get demo tracks, some tunes that ended up on "Emerging…", two D.R.I. covers ("Snap" and "Couch Slouch"), and a closing cover of Celtic Frost's "Dethroned Emperor". Very cool. After that it's the seven tracks from the band's very first demo, 1984's "Speed Kills", which sounds more along the lines of what I was expecting from the live set, ha! There's quite a bit of tape hiss and the sound quality is super rough, to the point of being a little hard to sit through, but it really doesn't matter because in all honesty the band wasn't that hot then anyway! They certainly came a long way in those early years, heh. Hell, some of the "Speed Kills" tracks sound 10 times better on the live tape as it is! There are also five bonus CD-Rom videos on the first disc, but they kept showing up as raw data files, so I couldn't get them to play. Oh well! The two discs are housed alongside a thick 12-page booklet that includes the original cover art, all of the lyrics, some old photos, brief liner notes, and an interview with band to shed some light on their history. As a part of the box set, I assume, each album is also accompanied by a small black and white "card" – in this case with an old flyer on one side and a live band photo on the other – and a second four-panel square booklet, which here bears a black and white photo collage on one side and lyrics and liner notes in Chinese on the other. Nicely done, I have to say.

Thanatos "Dawn of the Dead"
Thanatos "Progressive Destructor"
Thanatos "The Howling" (live)
Thanatos "Blind Obedience" (live)

You can order the entire box set from Evil Legend Records for just $35, which is a hell of a deal, but I'm not really sure what the story is in terms of ordering these discs as standalones, so… contact the label to check on that. This shit definitely deserves wider availability all around, because I'm totally blown away by the sheer volume of material on these reissues!

Too damn busy…

Posted on Friday, May 4th, 2007 @ 9:35am » permalink

I really wanted to get a write-up of the 2xCD reissue of Thanatos' "Emerging From the Netherworlds" (from Areadeath Productions, a totally badass label that I'll be covering several releases from in the coming weeks) up today, but I've been slammed this week and just couldn't pull it off. So instead, I'll just rant about a few random topics that have been hovering in the back of my mind lately, in no particular order:

1. The new Machine Head album. "The Blackening". Not a big deal. I'm a longtime Machine Head fan. I own most everything they've done. But this is not their best album, this is not the best thing they've done since "Burn My Eyes", and like I said… this is not a big deal. Long songs do not an "…And Justice for All" make, and there's really nothing about this record that lives up to any of the hype. And man, I am sick of the fucking hype. It's the most consistent album they've released since "The More Things Change…", but it's not very memorable at all. There were several songs on "Through the Ashes of Empires" that had more impact than anything on "The Blackening". I'm just sayin'…

2. The new Shadows Fall album. "Threads of Life". Too much hype, too little delivery. Major label, blah, blah, blah… who cares? Again, I'm a big fan of this band and have been for many years, and this is a decent record, but the songs don't really hit me much. They're not that memorable. "The War Within" shits all over this thing in the songwriting department. More importantly, however… what the fuck is up with that cover art? I mean, god damn, I'm sorry, but the color scheme, the subject matter, the execution… that thing's one hell of an eyesore. No offense, but how is it possible that five grown men all greenlighted that thing and got it past the peeps at Atlantic Records!? Talk about testing the limits of "artistic control"!

3. This article on The End Records blows my mind in a million different ways. I mean… CNNMoney.com? Forbes Small Business? The End Records? What!? "Sales in 2006 were $3.5 million…" What!? "His $6,000 monthly office rent…" What!? And that's just the tip of the iceberg. I mean, shit, my head is fucking spinning, man… I had no idea. No idea. It seems unreal. Completely and totally unreal.

4. Last night someone sent me a link to this article about G7 Welcoming Committee and their decision to stop selling CD's in favor of "digital albums". I can't handle it. I simply can't handle it. I can respect their decision on several levels, but I hate it, I disagree with it, and I'm going to have a heart attack and die when it gets to the point that CD's just don't exist anymore. Yes, I'm that stubborn. I mean, Propagandhi is one of my favorite bands of all time. Love 'em. But I refuse to buy mp3's (or "digital albums", if you prefer). Won't do it. I don't give a fuck if there's downloadable artwork and all that shit. I'm old fashioned. I want the tangible item in my hands and will settle for nothing less. This is a sad, sad state of affairs. Ugh.

5. Some people tend to make fun of me and think I'm an idiot for liking Alien Ant Farm. But – ignoring the band name – I challenge you to deny that this is an incredible fucking song (kind of a cool video, too):

The end.

Odious Mortem "Cryptic Implosion" CD

Posted on Thursday, May 3rd, 2007 @ 8:39am » permalink

Odious Mortem - Cryptic ImplosionThe latest from the mighty Willowtip is "Cryptic Implosion", the sophomore full-length from Odious Mortem, who I don't believe I had ever heard prior to this. To be honest with you I really haven't been feeling much death metal lately – new, old, whatever. I don't know why. So there's nothing about " Cryptic Implosion" that really blows me away or anything, but there are numerous aspects that hold my attention and gain my respect. For starters, there's something about the general tone of the release that interestingly blends the old and the new in a way that really works. It's technical, of course, so there are some "contemporary" leans as far as some of the winding back-and-forth runs and slightly repetitious riffing styles, but it's not forced or over the top in its complexity, so all of those elements are grounded by burly, powerful, straight up fucking death metal. The kind of shit I was all over in the early-90's, you know? Some of the layered vocal work seems Deicide-esque to me, I could see any number of the more straightforward rhythms at home on albums by Suffocation or Cannibal Corpse or a number of other heralded classics, etc. These guys don't really sound like any of those bands, though. So don't go flipping out and acting like I'm an idiot, because these are just loose reference points regarding underlying characteristics of the album, I'm not making strict comparisons by any means. Got it?

All that being said, one thing I absolutely must give these guys credit for is unloading some fuckin' raging solos on this thing. And I don't just mean they're blowing through a bunch of ultra fast 'n' flashy scales or any of that bullshit, I'm talking about real solos. You know, the kind that actually add to the songs by taking some time to develop and feeling like they were, oh, I don't know… actually composed with the surrounding elements in mind – as opposed to sounding like random interchangeable bursts. A lot of bands these days almost seem to brag about "bringing solos back" or whatever, but few of them can actually deliver the goods, so… while I'm certainly not putting Odious Mortem on a pedestal, I do commend their efforts in that department, because they definitely got my attention. I love the bass presence in the mix, too. There's just enough there to thicken up the core as well as peek out behind the guitars, and that's awesome. When all is said and done 10 tracks in 35 minutes keeps things rolling just about right, because some of the aforementioned "repetitious riffing styles" lessen the differentiation between songs, so… given the admirably "composed" nature of the lead breaks, I'd like to hear the songs themselves develop more of their own identities as well. No big deal, though (because yes, some of the tracks are basically dead on across the board already). This is a very solid record that should appeal to death metal diehards and those more tech-inclined alike, so I'll be very curious to follow the band's continued progression down the road.

Odious Mortem "Fragmented Oblivion"
Odious Mortem "The Endless Regression of Mind"

Fuck iTunes and fuck the illegal shit, too. Buy albums, dorks. And in this case there's little sense looking beyond the label, as they're cheap, fast, and don't fuck around. Get to it:

@ Willowtip