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Initial Reaction (almost) discography…

Posted on Thursday, January 29th, 2009 @ 6:15am » permalink

Initial Reaction (almost) discography...The mighty Coregasm first posted about the absolutely awesome northern Virginia hardcore band Initial Reaction three years ago, regarding their sole 7" release, and after I posted a comment on the write-up I was lucky enough to have someone from the band get in touch with me and send me a copy of that 7" as well as their rare 1992 demo cassette. Sadly my old computer is long since dead, so I don't have access to any of those emails to know specifically who to thank for this kind act, but I hope they stumble across this post and see my appreciation!

According to this MySpace page, Initial Reaction formed in the summer of 1988 and quickly put out a four-track demo (the only output not covered in this post) before undergoing a few lineup changes and releasing the "Brace Yourself" demo in 1989. This demo contained six songs recorded on an eight-track and totally laid the groundwork for the surprisingly hard-hitting and in your face tone of the 7" (which is obviously their most prominent recording): Straight metallic hardcore with traditionally-based chord progressions amped up by chunky grooves, burly vocals, and a toughguy sort of lyrical angle. The aforementioned self-titled 7" was then released by Cornerstone Productions in 1990, taking things in a more blatantly aggressive direction across the board (and incredibly successfully so, I might add), making for an underrated classic precursor to the metallic hardcore sound that would become increasingly popular throughout the 90's – and on through to today.

For some reason the bio on MySpace makes no mention whatsoever of the 1992 demo, and gives off the impression that the band broke up in 1991, which is odd. I'm hoping someone in the know will spot this write-up and drop some more knowledge in the comments section. Maybe there were some additional lineup changes, or maybe some of the band members just aren't as fond of the final demo due to the slight shift in approach? I'm really not sure, since all I have is the pro-printed cassette itself, no artwork or anything of that nature. All I can say for certain is that the song titles on this demo suggest a more socio-political and thought provoking approach to the lyrical content ("Satyam", "Ecocide", etc.), with hints of singing starting to blend into the vocals. Of course this means the music also branches out a bit, with more of a metal direction and some little rocked out riffs with melodic undercurrents here and there, but for my money the main core of the band's chugging, tactful grooves is still right there, so… I'm all over it! Here's one track from each of these releases to give you a taste:

Initial Reaction "Find it Quick"
Initial Reaction "Bustin' Out"
Initial Reaction "Satyam"

Don't talk shit you can't back up. Get too close, get an uppercut. Why don't you ever shut up? If it went down, you would be fucked. You've got to know, you'll never win. You're just fighting a war with no end…

All of this stuff is probably pretty damn hard to find in its original form these days, and I don't even see any listings on eBay at the moment, so… good luck getting your hands on any of the original vinyl or cassettes unless any of the band members happen to have some more leftovers to sell after all these years! Here's a .zip file that contains the 7" and both demos outlined above, and it's all total fucking gold, so I hope you enjoy the material:

[DOWNLOAD] Initial Reaction (almost) discography (@ Mediafire)

City of Ships "Live Free or Don't Tour" LP

Posted on Wednesday, January 28th, 2009 @ 4:13am » permalink

City of Ships - Live Free or Don't TourCurrently (I think) based here in Richmond, VA (apparently they started out in northwest Florida, and kind of bounce around when not on tour), City of Ships is an awesomely creative and diverse outfit whose "Live Free or Don't Tour" LP collects their two prior CD EP's ("Live Free or Don't" and another limited edition EP sold only on tour) in one convenient package, thanks to Forcefield Records. And as seems to be happening more often lately, though rarely to such an impressive degree, you simply can't pigeonhole this band into any existing genre classification with all of the different styles and influences floating around in here. Overall it's pretty damn heavy, with pounding basslines and quirky rhythms and structures that almost have a math metal sort of vibe, but there's also a constant flow of all kinds of incredibly tactful "post-" influences, from lush clean passages and swirling, spacey effects to noisier layers of intense guitar work. And somewhere in the middle there are more straightforward power chords spattered with intricately melodic runs, while the excellent vocals are generally sung, and with just the right amount of texture (occasionally leaning towards more of a melodic screaming, if that makes any sense) – influences that I'm sure some would cite as emo/indie rock leanings, though they really don't come across as such given their much more aggressive and robust surroundings. It's just a whole hell of a lot of sound and detail for a trio, that's for sure. I couldn't even begin to tell you how they pull it off in such a cohesive and powerful manner, but they absolutely do, and I'm really fuckin' impressed by this material. Excellent.

City of Ships "Evidence-Based Medicine"
City of Ships "Critical Vulture"

At least for now, it seems as though you can still buy both of the original CD's directly from the band, but the LP's come with a card to access mp3 downloads of the tracks as well, so either way you want to go…

Purchase:

@ City of Ships
@ Forcefield Records

Celebrity Love Crisis "s/t" 3" CD

Posted on Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 @ 7:48am » permalink

Celebrity Love Crisis - s/tThis succinct 3" CD-R represents the three-song demo from UK instrumental act Celebrity Love Crisis, who shares two members and a somewhat comparable riffing style with Analysis of Bison Kills. There's a little bit of a warm 70's progressive rock thing happening with some of the more straightforward dual guitar work and harmonies, with a slight math metal angle amidst some of the chunkier chord progressions, but you can definitely expect loads of pulsing basslines and winding pull-off riffs that bounce all over the place. Since there's just three tracks in 12 minutes it's hard to get a feel for where the material's really heading, but closer "Fat and Glamorous" spreads out into some unexpected clean passages and really cool uses of warped, discordant chord phrasings – not to mention a little more feeling and emotion – so I'd certainly like to hear those elements explored further. The recording could also use a hint more work in terms of brightening up the highs and giving the killler bass work some more breathing room, but this is still a promising start. The packaging's hand-numbered out of just 100 copies, and the artwork kicks ass, so… we'll see what the future holds!

Celebrity Love Crisis "Fat and Glamorous"

Purchase:

@ Celebrity Love Crisis

Mouthpiece "Can't Kill What's Inside: The Complete Discography" CD

Posted on Monday, January 26th, 2009 @ 7:32am » permalink

Mouthpiece - Can't Kill What's Inside: The Complete DiscographyAs the title suggests, this absolutely awesome collection (released a few weeks ago by Revelation Records) contains everything ever recorded by highly regarded New Jersey straightedge act Mouthpiece. This includes 1995's "Face Tomorrow" EP, 1994's "What Was Said" full-length, the self-titled 7" from 1991; and tracks from the "Anti-Matter", "It's for Life", and "Words to Live by, Words to Die For" compilations – in addition to three previously unreleased tracks that were recorded live way back in 1991. As a bonus, the disc also contains mp3's of a 13-song, surprisingly clear-sounding live set recorded at CBGB's in 1996 (and it appears this material's available as part of the album on iTunes as well, which is awesome) and the video for "Cinder" – all of this wrapped up in a slick looking package with brief liner notes, all of the lyrics, shitloads of photos, recording credits, and a ridiculously detailed list of every single show the band has ever played.

Aside from the three unreleased live tracks (and the bonus live set, of course), I already had all of this material from "back in the day", but I was still super psyched to see this disc show up in the mail, 'cause I'm just a huge, huge supporter of discography releases like this, as there's just too much incredible music out there that still deserves to be heard today – either by new generations or by those who somehow missed out the first time around. Plus, you can actually pick up on some improvements in the sound here, as the remixing and remastering have thickened things up with more low-end while working in a hint more crispness and clarity as well. It's no secret that I'm all about the more metallic side of the 90's hardcore scene, but for my money Mouthpiece was always one of the best bands out there at the time in terms of sticking heavily to "old school" influences, because they did so in a manner that held onto its roots without being a completely boring rehash of the "youth crew" style, or whatever you want to call it. Their songs are heavy and in your face, with sincere lyrics, pulsing midpaced to moderately fast tempos, pounding basslines, traditional hardcore breaks, and vague hints at subtle melody or lightly metallic crunch – all without straying from a core that's basically straight up hardcore. Tracks like "What Remains", "Strip the Threads", "Can We Win", and "Cinder" still hit just as hard and with as much feeling today as they did more than a decade ago, which is why Mouthpiece has remained in my listening rotation ever since, and will continuing forward…

Mouthpiece "What Remains"
Mouthpiece "With This Regret"
Mouthpiece "Still"

For those unaware, Mouthpiece frontman Tim McMahon is now also one of the founders of the absolutely incredible Double Cross blog, which should be an essential daily visit for any hardcore fan. You can read a little more about this particular release here, but that's just scratching the surface of the gold this site is constantly churning out. If for some insane reason you've never visited their site before, I highly recommend doing so… now!

Purchase:

@ RevHQ (CD)
@ Interpunk (CD)
@ Very Distribution (CD)
@ iTunes (mp3)

Die 116 "Damage Control" CD

Posted on Thursday, January 22nd, 2009 @ 5:23am » permalink

Die 116 - Damage ControlReleased in 1994 by Wreck-Age Records, "Damage Control" was the debut EP of absolutely stellar post-hardcore from the painfully underrated (even to this day) Die 116 – a band that featured the god damn legendary Gavin Van Vlack from Absolution and Burn (later of Big Collapse) on guitar and Andrew Gormley from Rorschach (later of Kiss it Goodbye and Playing Enemy) on drums. Offering up five tracks in a mere 16 minutes, it blows my mind that this band doesn't get more love out there these days, especially considering how many loosely comparable acts from the mid-90's have been held in such high regard during the past decade. As is generally the case when Van Vlack's slick guitar work is present, you can pick up on some sweet little technical flourishes and arpeggiated runs that have that Absolution/Burn ring to 'em, and there's a dash of the Rorschach approach buried in here as well – alongside a Quicksand-ish sort of vibe that's a little more rhythmic and angular, with less melody seeping into the pulsing undercurrents and discordant textures. Great recording, great songs, great EP. I should say more, but that really does say it all. Just check out a couple of the tracks for yourself. Hugely recommended. Hopefully many of you out there will agree with me…

Die 116 "Jesus Complex"
Die 116 "Last Laugh"

To my surprise, you can actually still find this gem out there on all formats (CD, 12", cassette, and digitally) – new or used – for fair prices, which is awesome. If you like what you hear above, I wholly recommend everything this band recorded. You can find the "Dyna-Cool" full-length out there via most of the same sources below, and it's definitely another keeper. I just prefer the immediacy of the songwriting on the EP a touch more, which is why I chose to write about this particular release.

Purchase:

@ Amazon.com (CD)
@ Interpunk (CD)
@ RevHQ (CD)
@ Very Distribution (12")
@ eMusic (mp3)

Behexen/Satanic Warmaster split CD

Posted on Wednesday, January 21st, 2009 @ 6:19am » permalink

Behexen/Satanic Warmaster - splitRight on the heels of Behexen's "My Soul for His Glory" full-length, and the third consecutive split release from Satanic Warmaster, comes this compact split CD from Hammer of Hate, offering up two tracks apiece from each of these Finnish black metal acts. Behexen starts things off with about 11 minutes of material that sounds quite similar to that of their last album in terms of boasting an excellently crisp recording with a solid bass presence and natural sounding percussion. The riffing arguably touches upon even more melody, which will probably further frustrate those who peculiarly complained about the approach taken on "My Soul for His Glory", but I must admit that I find their current delivery to be absolutely awesome on every level. There's no lack of aggression whatsoever, and the crawling dissonance and melody are integrated perfectly with surging midpaced rhythms and plenty of the genre's staple tremolo picking runs, etc. Not to mention the fact that the songwriting's highly effective and creates a great atmosphere. Good stuff. I had never heard Satanic Warmaster prior to this, but apparently the band is (at least for the moment) handled solely by an individual "named" Satanic Tyrant Werewolf, who has amassed a rather sizeable discography over the last nine years. As expected by the bluntness of the band name, opening track "Where Eternity Awaits" is a pretty straightforward attack of raw, blasting black metal with few surprises – though there are a couple of unexpected keyboard appearances that are actually tolerable in their equally raw tonality. The second track is an acoustic rendition of "The Burning Eyes of the Werewolf", which appeared in its original form on the band's first full-length back in 2001. Obviously I've never heard the original recording, but oddly enough it would seem that this edition is probably about the same, just replacing the guitars with acoustics. A little strange, and probably less than necessary, but… certainly not bad. Behexen definitely creates the bulk of the impact on this split as a result, however.

Behexen "Mouth of Leviathan" (excerpt)
Satanic Warmaster "Where Eternity Awaits" (excerpt)

In addition to the CD (and I believe there's vinyl out there somewhere as well), this one's distributed digitally through MetalHit.com for just under $4, so if you're into that angle you should be able to find the tracks at most such outlets…

Purchase:

@ MetalHit.com (mp3)
@ Amazon.com (mp3)
@ iTunes (mp3)
@ The End Records (CD)
@ Enucleation Records (CD)

Third Man Down "Rude Awakening" CD

Posted on Tuesday, January 20th, 2009 @ 6:33am » permalink

Third Man Down - Rude AwakeningOne of the best releases I've heard from Full House Records in awhile is "Rude Awakening", the debut release from Helsinki, Finland's Third Man Down, which blasts through 10 succinct tracks of excellent metallic hardcore in about 20 minutes. Every song is two-and-a-half minutes or less packed with fast-paced power chord rhythms, chunky grooves, powerful breakdowns, and gruff vocals that carry an appropriate level of attitude. The songwriting's fuckin' great, and so is the crisp yet in your face recording, which is refreshing considering many bands of this nature that I've encountered in recent months have been hindered by production values that don't do their material justice. That's definitely not the case here. The band's not really offering up anything new or different, but I don't give a shit! They know exactly what they're doing and they follow the formula perfectly – kicking ass and moving on so that you're left hungry for more – and that's precisely how it should be. I'd say more, but it's unnecessary. This one's straight to the point, and I'm all over it.

Third Man Down "Rude Awakening"
Third Man Down "To All My Friends"

Purchase:

@ Full House Records
@ Interpunk

The End of Six Thousand Years "I§olation" LP/CD

Posted on Monday, January 19th, 2009 @ 5:16am » permalink

The End of Six Thousand Years - I§olationI believe "I§olation" is the debut full-length from Italy's The End of Six Thousand Years (released in a limited edition of 500 LP's by Refoundation Records, and I believe on CD by Still Life Records), and quite an impressive release it is. 10 tracks of emotionally forceful and diverse technical (but not overly so) metalcore loaded with slick little melodic runs and discordant textures over powerfully surging rhythms and the types of instrumental dirges that tend to be classified as "post-rock" or "post-metal" (though, as I often do, I'll clarify that such characteristics herein are 10 times stronger than most of that generic mess). But that's not all, as you'll also encounter melodic Swedish flavored runs, subtle hints at the speed and dissonance of black metal, flourishes reminiscent of early Burst, and even some burly death metal-esque grinding on occasion. And in addition to top-notch songwriting, the killer recording really keeps things sounding cohesive as well, with an ultra thick mix that doesn't get too muddy or favor any one element of the instrumentation (nor the harshly snarled vocals, for that matter). Considering the breadth of approaches I've already cited, you might think the album is a bit all over the place, but that's really not the case at all. They pull it off with admirable ease, and I'm incredibly impressed by this material. Hopefully the band will start to garner a bit more attention, and I'm already really looking forward to hearing more…

The End of Six Thousand Years "Beyond Arhythmic Collapse"
The End of Six Thousand Years "Isolation"

Sadly I'm having a hard time finding this one in various distros out there on either format, which is a damn shame. If you're not into vinyl, perhaps try contacting the band and the labels via the links above to inquire about other options for purchasing this outstanding piece of work. This really deserves to be heard by a wider audience…

Purchase:

@ Refoundation Records

Step Aside "I'll Take Darkness…" 7"

Posted on Thursday, January 15th, 2009 @ 5:50am » permalink

Step Aside - I'll Take Darkness...Here's another one that I've been meaning to post for a long time now, but for whatever reason never got around to it before today. Step Aside was a metallic hardcore band from here in Virginia that featured vocalist Jimmy Anthony, later of Askance and Contagen, and drummer Chris Lyman, later of the almighty Mayday (the title track of this 7" also features an appearance from future Mayday vocalist Lance McLeod). "I'll Take Darkness…" was the second release from Vicious Circle Records (the same label that released Mayday's "The Underdark" 7") in 1991, and as far as I know this was Step Aside's sole release (aside from a couple of compilation appearances). I don't know a ton about this band as they were around a little before my time (maybe some more knowledgeable people will comment on this shit), and most of what I do know is thanks to the sadly defunct Audiosuede blog, which was an excellent resource where you can actually still download Step Aside's appearance on the "Living on the Edge" compilation (from 1990). It's pretty straightforward material, with yelled vocals and chunky rhythms, a little bit of a darker edge here and there, and surprisingly catchy grooves at its best ("Big Picture" is the shit!):

1. "Just Like Them"
2. "I'll Take Darkness"
3. "Median"
4. "Big Picture"

I've never heard the band's contribution to the "A Change for the Better" 7" compilation (which was Vicious Circle's debut release), so if anyone happens to have that compilation digitized, let me know, as I'd love to hear it.

Obviously "I'll Take Darkness…" is out of print, but I found a very reasonably priced copy on eBay two years ago, and as of this writing there are three more copies there right now for less than $10 (including shipping), so… if you want to get your hands on the actual vinyl, make the grab while you can!

Black September/Thou "Thrive and Decay" split 7"

Posted on Wednesday, January 14th, 2009 @ 7:04am » permalink

Black September/Thou - Thrive and Decay - splitThe "Thrive and Decay" split 7" between Chicago's Black September and Baton Rouge's Thou marks my first exposure to both bands, and I've never seen so many record label logos on the back of a release before! I guess Shaman Records, KNVBI Records, Buriedinhell Records, Injustice of Humanity Records, Halo of Flies Records, and One Eye Records all hand a hand in getting this fucker out there to the world. Black September opens up with the discordant dirges of "Under the Rising", which just tops six minutes and combines the fast-paced riffing and eerie undercurrents of black metal with a dirtier sort of midpaced edge that has a bit of an aggressive sludge meets crust punk vibe happening – making for an interesting overall aesthetic that can't be pigeonholed in any singular genre. Thou then follows with the five-minute "Smoke Pigs", which immediately takes on a sludgier, more midpaced direction that has a good deal in common with Louisiana's most well-known sounds of this nature: Absolutely scathing vocal snarls over gritty, pummeling, lightly southern-fried sludge rhythms – and there's even a nice 'n' noisy lead burst about 3/4 of the way through (blazing right over top of the vocals, mind you). It's interesting, because despite the facts that the bands aren't exactly operating in the same space, they make a perfect pairing for a split like this since they both display similarly warm and textured recording characteristics and have just enough in common through approach. Very cool…

Black September "Under the Rising" (excerpt)
Thou "Smoke Pigs" (excerpt)

Purchase:

@ Black September
@ Buriedinhell Records
@ KNVBI Records
@ The End Records

Toetag/Shattered Realm split CD

Posted on Tuesday, January 13th, 2009 @ 5:59am » permalink

Toetag/Shattered Realm - splitOne of the latest from Eulogy Recordings is this killer split CD between Florida's Toetag and the mighty Shattered Realm from New Jersey. Toetag features former members of Until the End, Morning Again, Remembering Never, and Glasseater, and while I had never heard the band prior to this, as I expected they get things started with three tracks of straightforward metallic hardcore: Burly vocals, in your face lyrics, chunky power chord rhythms and breakdowns… you know the drill. Nothing fancy, and that's totally fine. If it ain't broke, don't fuckin' fix it! Shattered Realm then follows with four tracks of their own take on said style, which is more metallic and diverse in terms of utilizing a great sense of tactful groove amidst the churning metal-based riffs and a little more vocal variation thanks to plenty of backups and a handful of guest spots – the latter of which mostly pop up in the band's closing cover of Fury of Five's "Every Man for Himself", which is obviously a massive fucking highlight here. Awesome. What more do you need to know!? No complaints here. If you're a fan of this style, I see no reason why you wouldn't be into this shit.

Toetag "Only Yourself to Blame"
Shattered Realm "Fight to Win"

At the moment this one's available from the label for $5 on CD or as mp3's, so… get to it if you like what you hear, people.

Purchase:

@ Eulogy Recordings

Severed Savior "Servile Insurrection" CD

Posted on Monday, January 12th, 2009 @ 5:58am » permalink

Severed Savior - Servile InsurrectionAnother incredibly solid recent release from Willowtip is "Servile Insurrection", the sophomore full-length from Severed Savior, not to mention their first proper release in five years. This is actually my first exposure to the band's work, but only the rhythm section remains from their debut (but that actually means something here because there's some super intense musicianship happening across the board), and from what I can gather they seem to pushing towards a more technical and diverse approach than was explored in some of their earlier work. Whatever the case, they've succeeded, as this disc unloads 11 tracks/35 minutes of scorching death metal that perfectly combines the guttural vocals and chunky riffing of the genre's more brutal side with loads of sick complexities and just the right dash of progressiveness to keep things interesting without sounding artsy or anything like that. It's interesting, because for the most part you can still look at Severed Savior as a straight up brutal death metal band, but the quality of the riffs and the songwriting is light years ahead of most of what comes to mind when said phrase is involved, and those little flourishes of succinct jazzy breaks, sleek solos, unexpected clean passages, or just plain explosive little twists and turns really help the material rise above and stand apart. "Fecalphiliac" is the only track on the disc that unfortunately touches on a lot of the more typical characteristics of unrepentant brutality, with some of the most ridiculous lyrics I've seen in years. Seriously, just flat out fucking stupid, especially compared to everything else that's going on here. I'm not sure why they dumbed it down to that level for a mere three minutes out of an otherwise excellent album, but oh well. Hopefully that was a leftover from their earlier days, and they'll continue to explore higher ground elsewhere. Aside from that, everything's in order: Great cover art, solid recording that's dense yet crisp – and without falling into the same trap as many of their contemporaries by ending up with lifelessly clinical tones – and so on. Good stuff, and I'll be very curious to see where they take it from this point…

Severed Savior "Servile Insurrection"
Severed Savior "Question"

Purchase:

@ Willowtip