Amebix "Redux" CD/12"

Posted on Thursday, July 29th, 2010 @ 6:24am » permalink

Amebix - ReduxI highly doubt there are many people out there who ever thought they'd see the day that Amebix would reform, much less that said day would arrive more than 20 years after the band's initial demise… but indeed that day did come. Rob "The Baron" Miller and his brother Stig joined up with new drummer Roy Mayorga (it seems absolutely inconceivable that Amebix, of all bands, would ever share a member with Stone Sour, but let's not forget that Mayorga got his start with Nausea, who – along with Amebix – are probably amongst the top five most noted bands associated with the "crust punk" genre) in 2008, and a few years later this EP, "Redux" (from the legendary Profane Existence), sees the (even more legendary) band revisiting a handful of classic tracks.

Despite having been a longtime Amebix fan, I have to confess that when I found out this EP was going to consist solely of re-recorded material, I was a little disappointed. In some ways the band may be overlooking just how good their original work sounded "back in the day". Those old school recordings have such a weird sense of distance to the mixes, and a truly unique ruggedness that always played a significant role in the feeling of their work. So, do I think this was necessary? Nah. But that being said, I've been very pleasantly surprised by how good "Redux" is. There's absolutely no denying that these re-recordings are instantly identifiable as Amebix. For the most part they've stayed well true to the original arrangements and really do seem to simply be using modern technology to bump up the overall clarity and atmosphere of the compositions. The guitars are heavier and much more focal, but they haven't restrained any of the noisy textures or ringing dissonance, and the basslines are still fucking outstanding (and hugely prominent) – as are the vocals. The biggest change is that eerie synths (which are generally very tasteful) add subtle melodies or ambient soundscapes in far more obvious fashion here. This is only questionable during "Chain Reaction" (from "Monolith", easily my favorite Amebix release), which is the one track that feels ever so slightly "off" to me, as it's been slowed down and saturated with keyboard melodies that alter the original vibe of the piece more than I'd prefer. Perhaps they also went a little overboard with the intense reverb on its vocals. "Winter" sounds totally stunning, though: I think I could even argue that this rendition's better than the original!

The digital download version of the release includes a live rendition of "Progress?" as a bonus/preview for the band's forthcoming live album/DVD, which sounds shockingly awesome. It's well-documented that I almost always hate live performance recordings, but this shit sounds damn near as convincing as the three studio cuts. I'm impressed. When all's said and done this EP has me very eager to hear the new full-length the band is working on, so it certainly does its job…

Amebix "Winter" (excerpt)

The 12" comes with a download card (which means you'll be able to get the bonus live track) and a 5" x 6" embroidered patch, so… the vinyl kinda trumps the CD in terms of physical copies here.

Purchase:

@ Profane Existence (12")
@ Profane Existence (CD)
@ Amebix (mp3)
@ Amazon.com (mp3)
@ eMusic (mp3)
@ iTunes (mp3)

Gods and Queens "Untitled 2" 12"

Posted on Tuesday, July 27th, 2010 @ 7:13am » permalink

Gods and Queens - Untitled 2Gods and Queens' latest untitled effort comes to us from Italian label Sons of Vesta, and sees the band unloading six more title-less tracks (one of which is an awesome cover of Quicksand's "Head to Wall") in just under 16 minutes. Overall I'd say this material is very comparable to their debut, just with slightly shorter songs, so expect a moody fusion of indie/noise rock interspersed with guitar textures that some would probably characterize as "shoegaze", and maybe even a little "emo" in the melody department (and I mean no offense there). It's also entirely possible that many, including the band, might say I'm completely full of shit and off the mark there, who knows? I know I'm not familiar with a lot of the influences these guys are building from, but… I really like what they do, and that's what it sounds like to my ears. The natural warmth of the recording accentuates the pulsing rhythms of the lightly fuzzed basslines and dry percussion, the subtle textures and intricacies of the angular riffing, and the way vocals are mixed right in alongside the instruments, and you can't complain about any of that. Once again I look forward to hearing more. Check 'em out for yourself and make your own assessment…

Gods and Queens "Untitled 8"

The vinyl's limited to just 500 copies, so act fast if that's your chosen format…

Purchase:

@ Gods and Queens (12")
@ Sons of Vesta (12")
@ Robotic Empire (12")
@ Amazon.com (mp3)
@ eMusic (mp3)
@ iTunes (mp3)

If you support the band/label with a digital purchase, you won't get the Quicksand cover. However, the EP's also available as a free download, so you can always score the added track that way:

[DOWNLOAD] Gods and Queens "Untitled 2" (@ Sons of Vesta)
[DOWNLOAD] Gods and Queens "Untitled 2" (@ Gods and Queens)

Ill Omen/Get Stitches! split 7"

Posted on Thursday, July 22nd, 2010 @ 6:45am » permalink

Ill Omen/Get Stitches! - splitAdd another release to the list of reasons why I love the Finnish hardcore scene! This cooperative effort between Killing the Legacy Records and Poolside Records sees Ill Omen teaming up with Get Stitches! to offer up two songs apiece for about 12 minutes total of high-quality, no bullshit metallic hardcore. Ill Omen kicks things off with their strongest material to date, spicing up standard doses of power chords with loads of thrashy picking patterns and hints of subtle melody that lend a slightly more metal-based feel to a good chunk of the riffing. Get Stitches! then follows with a similar approach that leans more heavily on chugging midpaced grooves and carries a bitter sneer to the vocals, not to mention a really crisp recording that works well for their straightforward style. They do occasionally layer in some additional guitar work or suddenly break into a fast-paced charge of thrash, but the overall vibe is definitely one of straight up, traditional metallic hardcore in the NYHC type of vein. I hate to keep this so brief, but the material cuts to the chase and speaks for itself. Both bands make a great showing here, and I'd love to hear more from each of 'em…

Ill Omen "Dear Friends" (excerpt)
Get Stitches! "80 Cent Days" (excerpt)

The 7" is limited to just 300 copies, so I'd imagine it will sell out sooner than later. If you're interested in scoring a copy, contact the bands/labels via the links above to inquire about ordering information while you still can!

Bastard Sapling "V: A Sepulcher to Swallow the Sea" 7"

Posted on Tuesday, July 20th, 2010 @ 7:03am » permalink

Bastard Sapling - V: A Sepulcher to Swallow the SeaBastard Sapling – from right here in Richmond, VA – started out as a one-man band in 2007, and has now grown to include members of Inter Arma and Battlemaster in its five-piece lineup. "V: A Sepulcher to Swallow the Sea", is their latest output: A 10-minute, two song (technically one song divided into two parts, I guess) 7" released by Tension Head Records (a label so underground I still can't find so much as a MySpace page for 'em). This is actually my first exposure to the band, referred to on their MySpace page (probably jokingly) as "typical Richmond black metal". I didn't know there was such a thing, but that phrase absolutely sounds like something you might overhear someone from Richmond say about a local black metal band, ha. And that's especially amusing because, if this is "typical Richmond black metal", I'd love to hear the rest of the bands doing it, 'cause this is some fuckin' great material! They're not trying to reinvent the genre or push the boundaries per se, and that's absolutely fine. In fact, that's a good thing. This is generally what I want black metal to sound like: Blasting percussion, rugged tremolo picking and pounding midpaced rhythms with just the right amount of dissonance, audible bass, viciously snarled vocals with a hint of reverb creating depth in the mix, a recording that's neither overly raw nor remotely polished, and songwriting that creates a certain sense of feeling/atmosphere. Just solid, straightforward, true to form black metal. This is awesome. Apparently they're working on a full-length now, and I'm really looking forward to hearing it.

Bastard Sapling "V: A Sepulcher to Swallow the Sea (Part 1)" (excerpt)

7"s are $4 plus shipping, so send an email to Tension Head Records to get your hands on one. I'm assuming at least one or two distros will be selling copies online in the coming months, but who knows?

Starkweather "This Sheltering Night" CD/LP

Posted on Friday, July 16th, 2010 @ 6:10am » permalink

Starkweather - This Sheltering NightOne more long-awaited gem recently seeing the light of day via Deathwish Inc. is "This Sheltering Night", the latest from another of my all-time favorite bands, Starkweather. It's been about four years since the release of "Croatoan", and these recordings have actually been finished for about two years (half of them have roots in the "Croatoan" sessions), but as is all too often the case various setbacks and delays hampered the final release date. The presence of only six new Starkweather tracks may create the impression that this is an EP, but be not misled, as all but one of these compositions top seven minutes, so Starkweather's material alone surpasses the 45-minute mark. Furthermore, the CD also includes ambient experimental noise interludes from Sophia Perennis and Oktopus, making for more than an hour of music when all is said and done.

Somewhat comparable to what I cited was going on with Integrity's latest full-length, this material sees Starkweather putting forth consistently longer songs that are significantly more involved than much of the band's past work. Whereas the vocals may have been the initial "stumbling block" for some listeners during the band's early years, the songs of "This Sheltering Night" often build from core riffs with layer upon layer upon layer of gnashing chords/textures; an even wider vocal range of screams, snarls, and croons; wildly blistering solos provided by "auxiliary" contributor Bill Molchanow; Forbes Graham doing some trumpet and euphonium work (which, when recognizable at all, is still rather abstract); and other assorted effects that often result in a swirling cacophony of sound that takes some time to wrap your head around. Even "Bustuari", one of the tracks started during the "Croatoan" sessions and bears the most immediate resemblance to that material, starts to bend in a different direction when these additional layers are piled on and peeled away.

All the staples of the Starkweather sound are still present: Rennie's insane and inimitable vocal delivery (obviously); Harry's absolutely amazing, freeform drumming style (and I'm actually starting to notice that his brother Vince often takes a similar approach with his bass runs, which is just awesome); unexpected clean passages or surging melodies; etc. It's just generally more twisted and fucked up now! Is that a good thing? I don't think the answer to that question matters. In many ways I think that Starkweather fans have to possess a certain reverence for what the band creates, and if that means being a listener requires some actual effort, well… that makes sense. This is a band that's been doing whatever the fuck they want to do in their own little world for more than 20 years now – whether anyone knew about it or not. They don't care about any of the petty, extraneous bullshit that most bands concern themselves with. This is it. And that's why we love 'em…

Starkweather "One Among Vermin" (excerpt)

Rust washed skies embittered and enraged. Sweltering heat just out of reach on the boundaries. Unmistaken the keening wail of machinery. Craving collapse again…

Purchase:

@ Deathwish Inc. (CD)
@ Deathwish Inc. (LP)
@ Amazon.com (mp3)
@ eMusic (mp3)
@ iTunes (mp3)

Bill Bondsmen "s/t" 7"

Posted on Wednesday, July 14th, 2010 @ 6:50am » permalink

Bill Bondsmen - s/tReleased by Local Cross Records, this two-song EP (it's also known as the "Disaster Prone" 7", but my philosophy is that if there's no title on the packaging, the name of the first song shouldn't automatically become the "title" of the record) is the latest output from Detroit's Bill Bondsmen. The band has released a few other 7"s and a full-length since 2004, but this is my first exposure to their work, which I find to be pretty interesting. Honestly, I'm usually not really into this style of stripped down and intentionally "dated" sounding traditional hardcore/punk, but there's a darker sort of atmosphere to these tracks that really grabs my attention and gives the Bill Bondsmen a completely different feel than any other band of this nature that I've encountered. Hell, the first half of "36th" even reminds me of Joy Division or something with its droning guitars over pulsing bass (the basslines are great throughout the entire EP). And even when they're dealing with the more straightforward hardcore/punk structures they throw in a lot of angular, Fugazi-esque riffing that keeps the material from feeling stale and rehashed, which is just awesome. I'm not sure how this compares to their prior work, but if it's all along these lines I'll have to pick up some of those records, too. I've been very pleasantly surprised by this 7". Nicely done…

Bill Bondsmen "Disaster Prone"

Purchase:

@ Local Cross Records

Okkultokrati "No Light for Mass" CD/LP

Posted on Monday, July 12th, 2010 @ 6:40am » permalink

Okkultokrati - No Light for Mass"No Light for Mass" is the first full-length outing from Norway's Okkultokrati (released on CD by Fysisk Format and on LP through a cooperation between Fysisk Format, Lilla Himmel, Odio Sonoro, and the band's own Ormeyngel Records label), which sees the band unloading nine tracks in about 25 minutes. Their energetic brand of unusual hardcore/punk remains intact with loads of rocked out power chords and D-beat styled rhythms, some sludgy midpaced churning, unexpectedly angular riffing, and even the occasional wisp of dissonant black metal (which works well with the strained and often maniacal snarls/yells of the vocals). The production is absolutely awesome, too. Everything is super crisp and well-balanced, with plenty of grimy texture to the distortion and a really natural sense of warmth for the rhythm section. Excellent work there, without a doubt. The recording really gives the material a heavier punch that brings out different qualities of the band's approach, and I think that might help more listeners take note of what Okkultokrati's doing here. Great work from a curious band, and I'll again look forward to hearing more…

Okkultokrati "On Mouth of Hells"

Purchase:

@ Fysisk Format (CD)
@ Fysisk Format (LP)
@ Lilla Himmel (LP)
@ Ormeyngel Records (CD)
@ Ormeyngel Records (LP)
@ Amazon.com (mp3)
@ eMusic (mp3)
@ iTunes (mp3)

Integrity "The Blackest Curse" CD/LP

Posted on Thursday, July 8th, 2010 @ 6:45am » permalink

Integrity - The Blackest Curse"The Blackest Curse" (once more from the Deathwish Inc. label) is the ridiculously long-awaited new full-length from the almighty Integrity. It's been seven years since Integrity's had a release that contained more than a handful of songs, and many would consider this the first true Integrity full-length since 1997's "Seasons in the Size of Days" – which is probably at least part of the reason why so many parallels are being drawn between said masterpiece and "The Blackest Curse". There are similarities, however… and not just the black and white aesthetic of the absolutely massive 36-page booklet (which can barely be contained by the slim digipack), with its sinister portraits of the band members and obscured imagery that probably has all sorts of suggestive conceptuality buried beneath the surface.

For the majority of Integrity's heyday most of their songs were less than two or three minutes apiece, and in their current age (which I'd consider to encompass their post-"To Die For" output) the band has been moving towards longer, darker, more involved compositions. Here, the running times are generally moving back towards that slightly more concise format, but the overall atmosphere of the material still takes a little more time to digest. Therefore, "The Blackest Curse" is a 37-minute album that actually feels more like an hour-long album. And of course there are tons of chaotic, Melnick-influenced solos to be found here (that approach is a huge staple of the Integrity sound, after all), as well as some crunchy grooves reminiscent of "To Die For" (especially during "The Last Great Seance"). But the bulk of this work is forged in the slightly different forms of explosive aggression and experimentation heard on the "Walpurgisnacht" and "Love is the Only Weapon" EP's. For instance, the insane blasts and tremolo picking of "Simulacra" damn near come across as blackened thrash metal; and then there's the eight-minute "Before the World Was Young" (which also boasts the esteemed mystique of joining the trio of tracks towards the end of the album that have their lyrics omitted from the booklet), with its whispered vocals over winding, dissonant riffs and midpaced palm-muting – bookended by Roses Never Fade/"Heaven Inside Your Hell"-esque acoustic passages.

Perhaps some of these added twists and turns result from the band's increasingly collaborative approach, what with the booklet noting that every track was composed by multiple band members and additional contributions are made throughout by the likes of Boyd Rice, Mike Cheese (Gehenna), Nick Brewer (Pale Creation), Thorsten Wilhelm (Vegas), etc. Whatever the case, "The Blackest Curse" proves that Integrity is still producing intriguing, creative material that holds true to the apocalyptic vision the band solidified in the late-90's. There are always going to be stubborn old school fans out there who'll refuse to acknowledge anything Integrity records that doesn't feature the Melnicks, which I can understand to some small degree due to the band's historically significant impact on the genre and therefore their back catalog's personal impact on individual listeners. But that really is an irrelevant line of thinking now (and I'll take this time to quickly point out that the bass playing on this album really stands out, and is arguably the best Integrity's ever had). Is it the same? No. But it's not supposed to be the same.

Integrity "Learn to Love the Lie"

As the lies are unwound and hell is forgotten we bleed alone beneath the stars. Barren light pours out of our eyes. We finally see the breathing dawn…

Purchase:

@ Deathwish Inc. (CD)
@ RevHQ (LP)
@ Amazon.com (mp3)
@ eMusic (mp3)
@ iTunes (mp3)

Sabbath Assembly "Restored to One" CD/LP

Posted on Tuesday, July 6th, 2010 @ 6:26am » permalink

Sabbath Assembly - Restored to One"Restored to One" (released by The Ajna Offensive and Feral House) is an incredibly unique outing from Sabbath Assembly, a project formed by Jex Thoth and Dave Nuss to "re-process" the hymns of The Process Church of the Final Judgment. Here's some quick background from the album's press release, which gets the job done better than I would:

"Restored to One" is a modern response to the musical activities of a cult known as The Process Church of the Final Judgment, who used music to spread their visions of Gnostic reconciliation in a time of cataclysmic change. Sabbath Assembly has re-charged the original hymns of The Process Church and worked them into moving renditions that unite the trinity of rock, psychedelic, and gospel into one triumphant re-awakening.

The Process Church was an intensely creative, apocalyptic shadow side to the flower-powered '60s and New Age '70s. The influential group opened chapters in London, Europe, and across the United States. Dressing in black cloaks and walking the streets with German shepherds, they created their own intricately designed magazines, and promoted a controversial, quasi-Gnostic theology that reconciled Christ and Satan through deeper awareness and love…

Many reading this site may be aware that some of Process founder Robert DeGrimston's early writings (mainly "Humanity is the Devil" and "The Gods on War") played a role in the inspiration behind Integrity's first all-out "holy terror" assault during the mid- to late-90's – which is what initially sparked my interest in The Process – so I've had photocopies of many old Process magazines and assorted documents laying around for years. Thus, I was super excited when I first heard about Sabbath Assembly. I mean, recording an album full of interpretations of decades old cult hymns? Who does that!?

In some ways, the album feels like a bit of a companion piece to Feral House's recently released (and also highly recommended) book "Love Sex Fear Death: The Inside Story of The Process Church of the Final Judgment", and this interview with Jex actually points out that the book is what brought these recordings about:

…inside the book, one will also find… the sheet music to three original Process hymns. We asked Timothy if he knew of any recordings that might exist and he said, to the best of his knowledge, they had never been recorded. With that, we began to conceive of "Restored to One". We played through the hymns (of which there are more than 60) to determine which of them felt like a good fit for us. We also contacted several original Process members, the ones we could find, and asked them which ones were their favorites. We continued whittling down the list until we settled on these.

Even if this isn't your thing, you've gotta respect the amount of effort and dedication it must take to put something like this together. I've honestly not been a fan of Jex Thoth's other work, but her vocals and approach are absolutely perfect for this project, and my conceptual interest in this release has brought with it a greater appreciation for the overall aesthetic and atmosphere of what's going on here, so I should probably revisit some of her other music now to see if my impressions have changed. I realize I've said absolutely nothing about the actual music on this release, but the press release's reference to the material's blend of "rock, psychedelic, and gospel" is dead on. Everything sounds shockingly authentic (and dated), and I'd have no idea how to properly describe the subtle nuances here since everything's outside of my general realm of experience. You've gotta hear it for yourself to understand, anyway. Here's an excerpt to give you a taste:

Sabbath Assembly "Judge of Mankind" (excerpt)

I haven't picked up a physical copy yet (though I damn sure will, since this is such a cool outing), so I'm not sure what the complete packaging holds, but vinyl fanatics should be pleased with the fact that the LP's pressed on 180 gram gold vinyl. As always, make the grab if you like what you hear…

Purchase:

@ Ajna (CD)
@ Ajna (LP)
@ Feral House (CD)
@ Amazon.com (mp3)
@ iTunes (mp3)

The Feast of Hate and Fear Internet Music Show #19

Posted on Friday, July 2nd, 2010 @ 7:52am » permalink

The Feast of Hate and Fear Internet Music Show #19A few months ago, Adel from The Feast of Hate and Fear asked me if I would host the next episode of his online radio show, so of course I agreed. Having been aware of his show in the past, I'm ashamed to admit I had never really taken the time to explore any of his complete playlists prior to preparing to put together my own, and that was a huge mistake. His knowledge of/interest in a wide range of musical styles puts mine to shame, and while some of his interests spread beyond what I enjoy listening to, I was thoroughly blown away by both "The Dark Side of Folk Music" (show #14) and "My Heavy Metal Weighs a Ton" (show #17) episodes. I've already purchased a number of albums based on those two shows alone, so I highly suggest going to download them immediately. And check out some of the others while you're at it!

Obviously you can listen to or download my episode at the top of the page while you're there. It's a little over an hour's worth of various hardcore and metal, some of which I've never covered here, so hopefully you'll encounter something new to explore. My complete playlist with links and purchasing information is below. I absolutely hate the sound of my own voice, so do your best to ignore my awkward ramblings as you try to enjoy the tunes! And please do let me know what you think!

[DOWNLOAD] The Feast of Hate and Fear Internet Music Show #19 (@ The Feast of Hate and Fear)

  1. Lash Out "Caress of Solitude"

    From the Lash Out/Ambition split CD (1996), released by Discipline Records.
    Purchase: This song will appear on an early discography collection slated to be released on Get By Records later this year.

  2. Invocator "Through the Nether to the Sun"

    From the "Weave the Apocalypse" CD (1993), released by Black Mark Records.
    Purchase: Out of print. And sadly, for some reason this is the only one of the band's early albums that's not available digitally via iTunes, eMusic, etc. Try eBay.

  3. Mongoloid Village "Shittown, U.S.A."

    From the "s/t" CD (2008), self-released.
    Purchase: Contact the band via MySpace to inquire about getting your hands on this one.

  4. Benümb "Struggle On"

    From the "Soul of the Martyr" CD (1998), released by Relapse Records.
    Purchase: @ Amazon.com

  5. Temporary Insanity "Arrogant Fuck"

    From the 1991 demo CS (1991), self-released.
    Purchase: Contact the band via MySpace to inquire about getting your hands on more material.

  6. Parallax "Momentum"

    From the "Mediums & Messages" CD (2006), released by Counterintelligence Recordings.
    Purchase: Out of print.

  7. Place of Skulls "Feeling of Dread…"

    From the "Nailed" CD (2002), released by Southern Lord.
    Purchase: Out of print. Try eBay.

  8. No Escape "Silenced"

    From the "Rebuilding" compilation 7" (1990), released by Temperance Records.
    Purchase: @ Amazon.com

  9. Arkangel "How We See the World"

    From the "Hope You Die by Overdose" CD (2004), released by Private Hell Records.
    Purchase: @ Goodlife Recordings

  10. Crux "The First Key"

    From the "Řev Smrti: Scream of Death" CD (2007), released by I Hate.
    Purchase: @ Relapse Records

  11. 16 "Fucked for Life"

    From the "Cry Now, Cry Later Compilation 2" 2×7" (1994), released by Pessimiser / Theologian Records.
    Purchase: @ Amazon.com

  12. Kilara "Travels of a Handgun Pt. 2"

    From "The Funeral Fix" CD (1997), released by Rhetoric Records.
    Purchase: Out of print. Try eBay.

  13. Caustic Affliction "Cremation"

    From the "All Thrashed Out and No Place to Go!" compilation CD (1989), released by 97 Underground.
    Purchase: Out of print.

  14. Apartment 213 "Mutilation"

    From the "Vacancy" 7" (1994), released by Dark Empire Records.
    Purchase: @ Interpunk

  15. Rigor Mortis "Foaming at the Mouth"

    From "The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years" CD (1988), released by Capitol Records.
    Purchase: @ Amazon.com (mp3)

  16. Calhoun Conquer "You Mean Nothing"

    From the "Lost in Oneself" CD (1989), released by Aaarrg Records.
    Purchase: Out of print. Try eBay.

  17. Deadeffect "Driving

    From the "s/t" CD (2002), self-released.
    Purchase: Out of print.

  18. Seance "Reincarnage"

    From the "Fornever Laid to Rest" CD (1992), released by Black Mark Records.
    Purchase: @ Amazon.com (mp3)

  19. Fall of Because "Merciless"

    From the "Life is Easy" CD (1999, recorded in 1986), released by Alleysweeper Records.
    Purchase: @ Amazon.com

  20. Geisha "Bondage Death"

    From the "Mondo Dell'Orrore" CD (2005), released by SuperFi Records.
    Purchase: @ Interpunk

[DOWNLOAD] The Feast of Hate and Fear Internet Music Show #19 (@ The Feast of Hate and Fear)

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