Lord by Fire "s/t" 7"

Posted on Thursday, April 30th, 2009 @ 8:43am » permalink

Lord by Fire - s/tFrom right here in Richmond, VA and formerly known as simply Sword (whose sole release was titled "Lord by Fire"), Lord by Fire's debut under their new name is this self-titled 7" on Forcefield Records, so… as far as I know, this actually marks the band's first recorded output since the summer of 2005!? With just two tracks in 10 minutes it's over all too soon, but the band's approach to dark, dingy, "doomy" rock/metal remains intact with the added bonus of an absolutely awesome recording that's loaded with warm, natural tones and plenty of crisp breathing room that allows all of the subtle intricacies of the elements' textures to shine through perfectly. Expect hoarse, strained shouts over an assortment of pounding midpaced power chords; choppy, chugging rhythms; sludgy, textured grooves; and occasional layers of searing feedback. It's neither too rocked out nor too overly aggressive and in your face, and that balance works out quite nicely for the end result. Hopefully some more material is on the way sooner than later!

Lord by Fire "Tribes of the Unnamed Beast" (excerpt)

Purchase:

@ Forcefield Records

Awesome band needs label: Solstice

Posted on Wednesday, April 29th, 2009 @ 8:16am » permalink

Awesome band needs label: SolsticeBack in 2005 I wrote about Solstice's "Pray" album, which was – at the time – their final release (from 1995), so I was both shocked and psyched when the band's guitarist, Dennis Munoz, recently got in touch with me and sent over a CD-R of the band's new, yet-to-be-released full-length, "To Dust". But even more shocking is that the band has yet to secure a label for the proper release of the album, so I'm hoping that this post might happen to remedy that problem! While both of Solstice's early-90's full-lengths are excellent slabs of chunky, thrash-laced Florida death metal, "Pray" remains my favorite, so it's great to see that 3/4 of the "Pray" lineup returns on "To Dust", with drummer Brian Harris being the only new addition. And as I'd hoped, this material picks up right where the band left off more than a decade ago, with 11 tracks and 42 minutes of tight, churning death/thrash that still reminds me a good bit of early Malevolent Creation (which is nothing but complimentary seeing as I find "Retribution" to be the greatest death metal album of all time). The prominence of the bass in the mix retains some of the added oomph that made the band's prior work so forceful (here more textured due to the crispness of the recording), while the occasional lead break offers even more sleek melody and tactful flash than before. The songwriting's just a hint faster and more technical as a whole, adding more of a counterbalance to their penchant for absolutely pounding rhythms and meaty picking patterns. Also incredible is the inclusion of a cover of Cynic's "Extremes", from the "Reflections of a Dying World" demo. I mean, come on, that's just fucking cool, man!

Everything's still very much in line with what the band was doing back in the day, though, so if you were into their first two records, you'll absolutely be down with this material. Not only is it somewhat rare for a band to reunite with the majority of their former lineup intact, but for a death metal act to deliver such a killer piece of work about 14 years after their last recorded output is pretty fuckin' outstanding. Here's the title track to give you a little taste of what the complete album holds:

Solstice "To Dust"

I sincerely hope I can do some good here in spreading the word about this and getting some labels interested, so… please spread the word if you're a fan. And if you're potentially interested in releasing this record, by all means shoot Dennis an email or contact the band on MySpace!

Pulling Teeth "Paranoid Delusions/Paradise Illusions" CD

Posted on Tuesday, April 28th, 2009 @ 7:51am » permalink

Pulling Teeth - Paranoid Delusions/Paradise Illusions"Paranoid Delusions/Paradise Illusions" is the latest five-track EP from Maryland's increasingly intriguing Pulling Teeth (again released by Deathwish Inc.), unleashing more than 20 minutes of the band's most diverse material to date. This time around you'll find the explosive, Integrity-inspired lead bursts, forceful breakdowns, and fast-paced chord progressions of the band's take on metallic hardcore fused with a range of even faster riffing that has an odd sort of "grinding thrash" fusion happening; slower, darker, sludgier rhythms that flirt with both Sabbath-esque vibes and subtly more rocked out, southern-tinged fare; and segments where layered instrumentation stacks up with more prominent basslines, eerie clean guitars, swirling effects, or even faintly whispered vocals and experimental noise textures (most notably in 9+ minute closer "Paradise Illusions", which even utilizes some distant singing and samples buried in the mix). It's a curious growth towards a similar but obviously expanded palette that largely plays out more like one complete piece as opposed to five individual tracks, and at this point it seems impossible to predict what Pulling Teeth will shoot for on their next outing. Very curious…

Pulling Teeth "Ritual" (excerpt)

Purchase:

@ Deathwish Inc. (CD)
@ Deathwish Inc. (12")
@ Amazon.com (mp3)
@ eMusic (mp3)

Acme "…To Reduce the Choir to One Soloist" CD

Posted on Friday, April 24th, 2009 @ 12:06am » permalink

Acme - ...To Reduce the Choir to One SoloistAcme was a short-lived but highly regarded metallic hardcore act from Germany that formed in 1991 and called it quits in 1995, basically releasing just one 7" and a few compilation tracks for a total of just nine songs in around 23 minutes – all of which were collected on one CD, "…To Reduce the Choir to One Soloist", by Edison Recordings in 1996. And really it's just eight different songs (one track is a live recording of two songs that appear on the disc in alternate form), which is all too little recorded output from such an outstanding and influential band. From what I can tell not much is known about Acme, and to be honest with you I never did much investigating back in the day either. I bought this CD and that was all I fucking needed to know! I don't know if it's because the band was ahead of their time or what, but I think this material actually sounds better today than it did in the late-90's after the discography's release. Last summer I pulled this CD out for the first time in a good while and was kicking myself for not revisiting it more often over the years. Every song is just an intense blast that perfectly balances fast, chaotic riffing and relentless, over the top vocals with grinding midpaced rhythms and wicked discordant textures that lend a darker feeling to the base aggression of the material. Opener "Blind" is an absolute scorcher – the kind of song whose attack makes you want to drive straight into a fuckin' wall at top speed. What can I say? If you're familiar with this band, you probably love 'em, and if you've never heard 'em before you need to check this shit out immediately to hear for yourself how devastating they can be:

Acme "Blind"
Acme "Attempt"

I'm actually somewhat surprised that Very Distribution doesn't have this in stock anymore, as many of Edison's largely outstanding releases are still for sale there. But while a handful of offensively priced used copies are floating around, thankfully there are some reasonably priced used copies as well, so pick one up if you like what you're hearing (And how could you not!?).

Purchase:

@ Amazon.com
@ Half.com

First World "An Extinct Way of Life"

Posted on Thursday, April 23rd, 2009 @ 7:42am » permalink

First World - An Extinct Way of LifeHailing from Memphis, TN and featuring current and former members of Dead City and That Was Then, First World has just released their debut demo, "An Extinct Way of Life". I was really disappointed to see That Was Then call it quits right on the heels of their strongest material to date, but thankfully First World seems to pick up right where That Was Then left off: Cranking out four quick tracks of energetic hardcore in just 10 minutes – offering up a great balance of aggression and melody through straightforward chord progressions, slick little discordant riffs/chord phrasings, and a range of tempos. They're not rewriting the book on this form of music by any means, but it's cool that you can still pick up on that base of very traditional hardcore while they keep it interesting with the more colorful fare. Not to mention the fact that the harsh, strained vocals and darker overall atmospheres keep this material from falling into the similar yet increasingly stale niche that a number of more "positive"-themed bands have made so popular over the last several years. Hopefully some of these Memphis bands will finally start to garner the attention they deserve in the near future, 'cause I've been consistently impressed with what I've been hearing…

First World "Altars of Men"

…mentally castrated. Can I face what I am? Flaccid and so inept. Faithless in all attempts. I believe it won't get better.

The whole demo's available as a free download, so get to it if you like what you hear:

[DOWNLOAD] First World "An Extinct Way of Life" (@ Mediafire)

Pretty Whores "Teens of USA"

Posted on Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009 @ 9:09am » permalink

Pretty Whores - Teens of USA"Teens of USA" is the debut EP from Swedish trio Pretty Whores (formerly known as Pretty Whores of Manhattan, under which name they released a couple of demos that are now available on iTunes as a single EP), which looks to be digitally distributed by Bad Taste Records. Expect eight short, punchy tracks of good times punk fuckin' rock with loads of energy and just the right amount of attitude. No song hits three minutes, so they just tear through loads of loose, raw rock 'n' roll riffs and absolutely hammering basslines with yelled singing that all perfectly unites to make for straightforward, catchy songs. Hey, when it's done right, you don't need any additional bullshit to keep it interesting, and these cats are definitely doin' it right. I don't encounter a ton of music in this niche, and when I do it often feels a little half-assed to me, but that's not the case here at all. I'm sort of surprised how much I like this material, but everything about it's dead on: Great songwriting, great delivery, great recording, the works. Here's a little taste:

Pretty Whores "Teens of USA"

Purchase:

@ Interpunk (CD)
@ Bad Taste Records (mp3)
@ iTunes (mp3)

Primordial "Imrama" CD/DVD

Posted on Tuesday, April 21st, 2009 @ 7:56am » permalink

Primordial - ImramaMetal Blade Records recently reissued "Imrama", the debut album from Ireland's Primordial (originally released in 1995 by Cacophonous Records), which is quite interesting for me as I had only heard the band's later material, and always intended to go back and investigate their beginnings. Apparently the reissue set "includes the two discs and a 16-page booklet with new liner notes from the band, the original artwork, interviews, and additional photos", but I don't have a physical copy so I can't speak to the contents of the booklet or the DVD. Their first demo, 1993's "Dark Romanticism", is tacked on as a bonus, and provides exactly what you'd expect: A rawer, stripped down, slightly more straightforward take on what ended up becoming "Imrama" (granted two of the songs from the demo weren't re-recorded for the full-length). That being said, the core album is an intriguing listen where the roots of the band's present approach are almost surprisingly prevalent. There's definitely a hint more of a tangible black metal vibe happening both musically and vocally, and I'm still hearing distinct similarities to bands like Drudkh here, so it really makes me wonder if this album may have set the standard from whence some of those later bands (like Drudkh) drew significant influence? However, occasional bursts of blasting percussion, fast-paced tremolo picking riffs, and sneering vocals don't automatically categorize an album as black metal (it's not), and it's obvious that even in these early stages of Primordial's advancement they held a loftier vision that defied basic genre classifications. The songs were a little shorter than they are today, but there's still an extremely epic sensibility to the arrangements and the overall feeling of the songs, with plenty of the singing and spoken passages, atmospheric interludes, and dissonant midpaced rhythms that the band has honed and perfected in the years since. I believe Metal Blade will be reissuing more of Primordial's early works in the future, and if so I'll certainly look forward to finally catching up on the band's entire discography!

Primordial "Let the Sun Set on Life Forever"

Purchase:

@ Metal Blade Records (CD/mp3)
@ Amazon.com (CD/mp3)
@ Relapse Records (CD)
@ iTunes (mp3)

Parallax "Mediums & Messages" CD

Posted on Friday, April 17th, 2009 @ 9:25am » permalink

Parallax - Mediums & Messages"Mediums & Messages" was the sole full-length from Utah's Parallax (released by the now defunct Counterintelligence Recordings), and while I originally posted about this CD a mere three years ago, it still deserves far more attention. I first encountered Parallax in early-2004 on a mediocre compilation, but later that year they officially blew my mind with their "Widely Unknown Indeed!" demo and the "On Dead Tracks" 7", which showed the band's true power and potential. There's no doubt that there truly are a number of messages within the Parallax medium, and that medium is one that showed consistent progression time and time again, making "Mediums & Messages" all that I ever hoped it would be in terms of improved sound quality, tighter performances, more dynamic songwriting, etc. – so the overall impact of the material is overwhelmingly intense and emotional (in the best possible way). It's "contemporary metalcore", yes, but it's that rare breed of such metalcore that operates on an entirely different level of magnificence that so few bands could ever even dream of reaching. In the past I've compared elements of Parallax's music to both Shai Hulud (one of my favorite bands of all time) and Misery Signals, which are no small compliments coming from me, but Parallax was among the select few able to harness a frenzied sense of chaos that's jammed with so many powerful riffs and arrangements that they really take hold of the listener and refuse to let go.

I still listen to this album quite often, and I also still regularly think about the band's vocalist, Blake Donner, who tragically passed away in August of 2005, about a year before "Mediums & Messages" was released – never even getting the chance to hear the final, mastered material. I never had the pleasure of meeting Blake and had only encountered minimal communication with the band during their early days, but his death has absolutely had more of an impact on me than any other musician. While it's probably far from the reaction that someone like Blake would desire, I'm not a "look on the bright side" type of dude, so I can get really bummed out and depressed when I think about what this band's music means to me and realize that someone who played such a large part in it is no longer out there. I'm one of these people who overthinks everything, and here was a guy several years younger than I who passed away while simply trying to experience life – a guy who was known to be a generous and caring individual with an admirable outlook on life. Fucked up situations like that where there's just no sense to be made really dig at me, and it makes some of the song explanations in this CD booklet (which were written by the remainder of the band) hit that much harder, notably some of the blunter and more personal content.

I'm not expressing myself as well as I'd prefer with all of this, but I do still truly believe that Blake would be pleased to know that his work is still inspiring others in his absence, and it always will…

Parallax "Momentum"
Parallax "Contemplating the Contemplated"
Parallax "Surgery Without Sutures" *

To my utter shock, a label called Last Anthem Records is selling this absolutely amazing and inspiring CD for just $1, so… however many copies they have left, I wholly encourage you to order at least one. I mean, shit, for $1 order a few and give 'em to your friends. Spread the beauty…

Purchase:

@ Last Anthem Records

*The lyrics and vocals on this track were contributed by former Trial frontman Greg Bennick, and while I initially didn't particularly care for this song for some reason, it's really started to speak to me over the last year or so. Despite having been written/performed by someone that wasn't a Parallax member, it perfectly sums up the types of thoughts and feelings that this album as a whole represents to me… the types of thoughts and feelings that come to mind when I think of Blake and his passing… the types of thoughts and feelings that fill me on a regular basis, just dealing with… life. Get the lyrics and read more about this song here.

Integrity/AVM split 7"

Posted on Thursday, April 16th, 2009 @ 12:00am » permalink

Integrity/AVM - splitNot yet officially released, this extremely limited split 7" will exist in a pressing of just 350 copies – 100 of which will go to the bands, while the remaining 250 will only be available as a bonus EP alongside pre-ordered copies of Blind to Faith's "The Seven Fat Years are Over" 12" (on Holy Terror Records). Integrity's contributions are two Septic Death covers, "Poison Mask" and "Dream Silent", done up in precisely the same manner as the old "Septic Death Karaoke" 7" from the mid-90's. Meanwhile, AVM, allegedly from Japan, appropriately enough unleashes two cuts of complete and total G.I.S.M. worship. "Victim for Sorcery" literally sounds like something off the "Military Affairs Neurotic" LP, just with a crisper recording that forgoes all the excess reverb. Here are some brief samples to give you a taste (you can hear more via the MySpace links above):

Integrity "Dream Silent" (excerpt)
AVM "Victim for Sorcery" (excerpt)

To be quite honest with you, I'm somewhat shocked that these pre-order packages haven't sold out already, as this is sure to be a rare collector's item in no time. So, that being said, place your order while you still can!

Purchase:

@ Holy Terror Records

Ulcerate "Everything is Fire" CD

Posted on Wednesday, April 15th, 2009 @ 7:29am » permalink

Ulcerate - Everything is FireHaving been a big fan of New Zealand's Ulcerate since their demo days, I was quite excited when their latest full-length, "Everything is Fire", showed up in the mail from Willowtip. This time out their bassist is handling the vocal duties, and they've also got one new guitarist, but thankfully their sinuous take on death metal remains unchanged: So you can expect eight generally lengthy compositions that are jam packed with tactfully technical musicianship consisting of hectic flurries of colorful percussive flare and loads of dissonantly mangled riffs with an overall sense of thick, churning energy that really creates an intriguing atmosphere. And to be honest with you, while I initially felt that a hint more restraint may have amped up the power factor on their last effort, "Of Fracture and Failure", that material has really grown on me since that time, and the more I think about the Gorguts comparison that I made when I wrote about that record, the more I realize that Ulcerate was already taking that weird, warped, fucked up, Gorguts-styled discordance and – in my opinion – doing something a little more emphatic and moving with it. I know such a statement is complete heresy for many, but… what can I say? I stand by it, and this material absolutely follows suit. Yes, there's something chaotic and over the top about the band's songwriting style that doesn't always create that immediate impact, but there's also a completely relentless sense of darkness and feeling amidst everything they put forth, and I really admire the absolutely furious intensity that they balance with just enough breaks of slower, slightly more tangible rhythm segments. When all is said and done, Ulcerate is an outstanding band that has yet to disappoint, and I wholly recommend everything they've recorded to date, while continually looking forward to hearing more.

Ulcerate "Tyranny"

…this burning inside cannot be defined. Our empty convictions erode in time. Stand on the edge of abandon, and stare into the searing sun. Forfeit now, for nothing we know. Everything is fire.

The CD's listed as a pre-order at Willowtip, but as far as I can tell it's already in stock at numerous distros (and digitally), so I assume orders should be shipping as they're placed.

Purchase:

@ Willowtip (CD)
@ Amzon.com (mp3)
@ iTunes (mp3)

Dreaming Dead "Within One" CD

Posted on Monday, April 13th, 2009 @ 7:07am » permalink

Dreaming Dead - Within One"Within One" is the debut full-length from LA's Dreaming Dead (on Ibex Moon Records), and since I'm terrible at keeping up with things, I didn't realize until reading about this album at Invisible Oranges a little while ago that Dreaming Dead is actually the band formerly known as Manslaughter – whose debut EP, "Through the Eyes of Insanity", I reviewed here a few years ago. I was quite impressed by that material (all four songs from which appear here in re-recorded form), and as I would've anticipated this album continues in a similar yet increasingly diverse vein of intricate (but not overly so), death-tinged thrash metal offering up a solid balance of tempos and atmospheres (occasionally even flirting with some lightly blackened flare). For my money the focus here is absolutely on stellar guitar work that's full of taut rhythmic interplay and sleek melodic leads that weave seamlessly through classically meaty thrash, Scandinavian-inspired dual guitar harmonies, and more contemporary discordance that makes for a great fusion of melody, aggression, and overall power. There are also a handful of unexpected clean passages that tend to explore slightly atypical atmospheres for this general realm of metal, which is a cool little touch. Additionally, the recording benefits the material in that you can actually hear the bass runs mingling with the guitars, and despite all of the layered instrumentation and sneering, snarling, growling vocals you can still make out everything that's going on in the mix. I'm not saying it's particularly inventive or what have you, but the solid writing and musicianship crank out a number of very impressive riffs and solos throughout, making for a strong listen that continues to show a great deal of potential for what this band has to offer. Nicely done…

Dreaming Dead "Stairs Into the Vortex"

At the time of this writing the CD is on sale for a mere $6 from the label, which is basically an unbeatable deal, so… make the grab if you like what you hear!

Purchase:

@ Ibex Moon Records

Cyclone "Inferior to None" CD

Posted on Friday, April 10th, 2009 @ 5:50am » permalink

Cyclone - Inferior to NoneCyclone was a thrash band from Belgium that formed in the early-80's and spent a few years releasing demos and a couple of compilation tracks before their debut full-length, "Brutal Destruction", was released in 1986 by Roadrunner Records. It seems that many (Most?) fans of the band largely prefer their debut, perhaps because it's been much easier to find over the years, or simply because it was released by a prominent label, I'm not sure. What I can tell you is that anyone who prefers "Brutal Destruction" over the band's second and final album, "Inferior to None", is completely fucking wrong in every way. "Inferior to None" was released four years later in 1990 by a small Belgian label called Justice Records, after the band underwent several lineup changes and a shift towards a much crunchier and more in your face sound that completely destroys every single song on their first album without question. Apparently Justice Records was undergoing financial trouble and this ended up being a very limited edition release without much promotion, which is just criminal given the band's progress. Admittedly the production's a tad on the muddy side, but not to the point that it detracts from the listening experience (I actually love the almost over the top guitar tone), so the entire album's packed with thick, churning thrash that has more of a Bay Area thing going on in terms of the style (and quality) of the riffing. But the vocals are solid, the songwriting's stronger than many comparable American bands of the time period, and when all is said and done this is probably one of the most underrated and overlooked thrash metal records of all time as far as I'm concerned. Only nine tracks in a little over 45 minutes, but it's all gold. I just can't understand why this album hasn't been discussed more often what with the whole "thrash revival" that's been going on for several years now!?

Cyclone "Neurotic"

Despite having allegedly been bootlegged at one point, getting your hands on this CD won't be easy. There's one lone copy on eBay right now for an insane and offensive $75.00 (plus shipping, because, you know… that really matters when you're charging $75.00 for one fuckin' CD), but it doesn't seem to be listed on Amazon.com or anywhere else that I can find. Such a shame. "Brutal Destruction" was most recently reissued by Metal Mind, but I can't fathom why the far superior (pun only mildly intended) "Inferior to None" hasn't been properly reissued since the band's demise.

That being said, the internet will, of course, allow you to enjoy this outstanding material through other means. I'd still love to see this gem receive a proper reissue, though. Metal Mind should start looking further beyond the Roadrunner back catalog!

Beneath "2009 demo"

Posted on Thursday, April 9th, 2009 @ 7:15am » permalink

Beneath - 2009 demoBeneath is a raging death metal band from Iceland that apparently works quickly and efficiently, because they didn't finalize their lineup until November of last year, and they had already recorded this killer four-song demo by January!? Expect 16-and-a-half minutes of expertly recorded and tightly performed chugging, churning, blasting death metal that blows up right off the bat and plows through loads of dense rhythms, obscured dissonance, melodic leads, and colorful percussive flare. The percussion's a little rigid sounding during the fastest moments, so I'd prefer more of a natural drum tone there, but it's easy to get past the tautness of the blasts seeing as everything else is so massive and balanced. Plus, the songwriting provides a good variety of speed and intensity with pockets of breathing room and just the right amount of technicality, so it's not some whirlwind of blinding riffs and relentless speed by any means, there's a lot of feeling and movement within the compositions that certainly works in the band's favor. I know they're looking for a label to release their debut full-length, and based on the overwhelming quality of these recordings I'm guessing (and hoping) that they won't have much trouble in that department. This is easily better than the majority of what I hear coming from newer death metal bands as of late – especially those in the demo stages – so best of luck to these guys in reaching that next level. I'll be looking forward to it…

Beneath "Oblivious"

I'm not sure if the band is selling copies of the demo or not, but get in touch with them via the MySpace link above to inquire about getting your hands on a copy…

Arrows "Modern Art & Politics" CD

Posted on Tuesday, April 7th, 2009 @ 6:51am » permalink

Arrows - Modern Art & Politics"Modern Art & Politics" is the debut full-length from Australia's Arrows and the first release I've ever heard from the very promising Hobbledehoy Records. The band bio on the label's website gives off the impression that they'd rather not be referred to as "emo" ("Arrows formed in 2006 out of a common love of No Idea and Crank Records bands often described by the three-letter 'e' curse word"), but… ummm, to my ears this is emo/indie rock in the absolute best way. This is the real deal: The kind of "emo" that reminds me of what was called "emo" when I was in college from 1995 – 1999. You know, the quality stuff. The stuff that has actual emotional and musical substance. The bands that use softly sung, heartfelt vocals placed deep in the mix amongst bright, swirling clean guitars and pulsing basslines with warm, spacious mixes and natural recording tones. The stuff that utilizes stripped down song structures that rely predominantly on feeling and a somber sense of restrained consistency that brings very little distortion into play. Surprisingly enough the 10 tracks herein run nearly an hour total, as the majority of the compositions surge back and forth and wind around for more than five or six minutes apiece, but everything falls into place quite nicely. I just noticed that the label's online store succinctly describes the album in bullshit-free terms as "10 tracks of gently wandering guitars, gorgeous twinkles, and desperate vocals from one of Brisbane's otherwise best kept secrets", and I couldn't agree more. However you want to classify it (if at all), everything about this album feels completely authentic, and the fact of the matter is the "three-letter 'e' curse word" is simply not a bad thing when it's pulled off this fucking brilliantly. I'm always thrilled to be introduced to bands who are still exploring this realm of music the way it always should've been done, and Arrows is unquestionably one of those bands…

Arrows "Someone You Knew But You've Hardely Met"
Arrows "She Wore a Cabernet Smile"

Purchase:

@ Hobbledehoy Records (CD)
@ Amazon.com (mp3)
@ iTunes (mp3)

Propagandhi "Supporting Caste" CD

Posted on Monday, April 6th, 2009 @ 7:17am » permalink

Propagandhi - Supporting CasteAfter another lengthy wait, "Supporting Caste" (released by G7 Welcoming Committee and Smallman Records) is the fifth full-length from the still-mighty Propagandhi – a band that I've now been worshiping for literally half my life (and I'm no youngster). I'm certainly not the most "political" dude on the planet, and over the years I've honestly become less and less interested in bands whose messages focus almost entirely on such topics, but things are different with Propagandhi. Still proudly brandishing their "animal-friendly, anti-fascist, gay-positive, pro-feminist" stance and peppering their massive CD booklets with additional thoughts, significant quotes, and recommended reading lists (in addition to their increasingly creative and involved lyrics), this is one of the only bands I've ever encountered that has been able to communicate such information in a manner that's completely serious while also being emotionally wrenching and carrying a sense of humor – and sometimes all at once, if you can imagine that!? Of course, it doesn't hurt that they've also been unloading some of the most kick-ass riffs in the history of life on this planet for over 15 years now.

This is Propagandhi's first album since becoming a four-piece in 2006, but the addition of a second guitar player has done little to alter their sound on record. Much like 2005's "Potemkin City Limits", this is a "grower" that takes a few listens for the complete mastery to fully sink in, as the group's riffing/songwriting continues to grow more technically complex and diverse. From the surprisingly heavy, staccato metal rhythms that kick off opener "Night Letters" to the fucked up slides and discordant phrasings of "Incalculable Effects", there are a number of new surprises amidst the incredible musicianship and catchy-yet-stunningly-intricate songwriting that's come to be expected of the band from day one – but most specifically since taking on the more (self-proclaimed) "progressive thrash" angle eight years ago with "Today's Empires, Tomorrow's Ashes" – but for the most part this is just another logical progression in/outstanding contribution to the Propagandhi discography. I'm not quite as wordy or well-spoken as I was when I wrote about "Potemkin City Limits" four years ago (read: I've gotten lazy), but I still hail Propagandhi as one of the greatest bands ever, and wholly recommend everything they've ever done. "Potemkin City Limits" was the first Propagandhi album I didn't buy on the day of its release, and I'll never make that mistake again (I pre-ordered "Supporting Caste"). Never.

Propagandhi "Supporting Caste"

The funeral procession passed by here today. Confusion and questions left strewn in its wake. But I feel like I knew his pain – a mechanical failure while enduring the norm. Some of us fracture, others simply deform and lose their elasticity, never to return to the shape they were. I wonder which is worse? I try to keep my composure amidst the insanity, resigned to the truth that I will not live to see the dawn of a better day that might wash away the sadness of this age. I try to keep the voices calling me at bay, desperately clinging to any futile act of human decency. The voices love to remind me of my futility. Sitting on my hands hoping anyone else than me will do what should be done, it’s hard to not succumb as they call my name. You gotta keep on truckin' anyways.

Purchase:

@ G7 Welcoming Committee (CD/LP/mp3)
@ Amazon.com (CD/mp3)
@ iTunes (mp3)

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