Posted on Monday, February 6th, 2012 @ 6:06pm » permalink
For what I think is only the second or third time in a little over 12 years, I'm going to take a hiatus from the site. It's been a tough decision because this time it feels like it could end up being a permanent thing, but I need a break. On the one hand, I don't really want to quit, so I might surprise myself and miss it, but it's also felt like more of a chore lately, which has been frustrating. I'm well aware that as my quantity has drastically decreased over the years, the quality has diminished to some degree as well, so lately I've started to realize that this site is essentially "just another blog" now, and unfortunately I don't have the time or energy to make it "something special" again. I've always kind of assumed I would just keep going and going, but longevity alone isn't necessarily worth striving for. I just need to step away for a bit and see what happens.
That being said, I'm grateful to everyone who has ever submitted something for review (even if I didn't write about it), sent me an email (even if I didn't have time to respond), posted a comment, or just come back and read what I've had to babble about for so many years.
Thanks for reading…
Rot in Hell/Integrity "Black Heksen Rise" split 2×7"
Posted on Saturday, February 4th, 2012 @ 12:00am » permalink
At this moment in time I can think of no better combo for a split than Rot in Hell and Integrity, compliments of Thirty Days of Night Records. I mean, this must be right up there with the Integrity/Mayday split in terms of absolutely perfect, wholly appropriate pairings. Rot in Hell kicks things off with the crunchy rhythms, droning lead melodies, scathing vocals, and scorching solos of "Erebus"; before a stark change of pace via "Life Becomes a Desert Around You" – which utilizes faint singing underneath a repetitious lull of acoustic guitars, violin, and sparse percussion. Surprisingly epic. They never fail to impress, and these are two of their finest tracks to date, without a doubt. Integrity then follows with "Waiting for the Sun to Burn Out My Eyes", which transitions seamlessly into "Black Heksen Rise". Both compositions see the band's trademark sound permeated by somewhat more of an obvious Japanese hardcore influence (more so in the former) through raw, driving power chords; explosive solos and crazy tapping runs; pounding midpaced breaks with just the right amount of eerie melody; etc. These concise and explosive EP's have found Integrity cranking out some of their fiercest and most powerful material as of late, and I'm all for it.
The records are housed in a black and white gatefold 7" sleeve with an 11-page booklet secured to the inside of the right panel. The last two pages contain lyrics and such for the Rot in Hell and Integrity tunes, while the remaining nine consist of a cryptic, essentially text-free "comic book" of Dwid's trademark illustrations and obscured, textured graphics. The second 7" is billed as "a caustic narrative of the book read aloud by Dwid Hellion", but it's really so much more than that. Its three tracks/11-and-a-half minutes strike me as a combination of Roses Never Fade and early Psywarfare with some additional twists. First up is an alternate recording of "Waiting for the Sun to Burn Out My Eyes", which adds whispered vocals and faint wisps of distortion to the acoustic version that appeared on the "Thee Destroy+ORR" CD. "Process of Prayer" then follows with lightly distorted spoken passages mixed right in against ominous, faintly melodic low-end drones. The flip side contains the 7+ minute "Where Does the Fire Come From", consisting of half-whispered/half-spoken vocals amidst lurching dark ambient swells and crunches of distortion, not to mention barely audible acoustic guitar and assorted other abstract textures. Excellent.
Before I was finished with my first complete listen this set had already worked its way into being one of my favorite splits of all time. It's just that good. Here's a little proof thanks to YouTube (check out snippets from the second 7" through Amazon.com or iTunes):
Rot in Hell "Erebus"
Integrity "Black Heksen Rise"
After a lengthy pre-order phase, just a few copies remain (directly from the bands). I'll be shocked if they don't sell out soon, so you'd be foolish to sleep on this. For everyone else, it's also available digitally…
@ Holy Terror Records (2×7")
@ Rot in Hell (2×7")
@ Amazon.com (mp3)
@ iTunes (mp3)
Most Precious Blood "Demo" 7"
Posted on Friday, February 3rd, 2012 @ 3:00am » permalink
From Trip Machine Laboratories comes this vinyl reissue of Most Precious Blood's six-song demo from way back in 2000. The digital download also includes the band's cover of Slayer's "Necrophobic", the original version of "So Typical My Heart" (their last recording with Tom Sheehan on vocals, from early-2003), and a 33-minute live set recorded at CBGB's in 2002. The core of the release is the demo, which contains six short songs (all under two minutes) of unique metallic hardcore that draws from a wide range of influences – where you've got tracks like "The Knot", with its slightly more discordant take on fast-paced traditional hardcore; the midpaced post-hardcore dissonance of "Carry the Lantern High"; and the rhythmic grooves and winding bass runs of "Song of Siren". "So Typical My Heart" is my favorite track, though. A little more melody but still really heavy, raging energy… it's just an incredible tune. As expected the live set has pretty raw sound quality, but it's fairly listenable considering. When they're running full-on the guitars can get lost a little bit, but it's not bad. The set consists largely of Minor Threat covers with about 10 minutes of Most Precious Blood material towards the end. The sleeve contains old photos, lyrics, and brief song explanations for the six tracks from the demo, plus some liner notes by Tom Sheehan, reflecting on his time with the band. Good stuff. I hadn't listened to Most Precious Blood in a while when this showed up, and I've been reminded that I should really pull out their albums more often…
Most Precious Blood "Sincerely,"
As mentioned above, the vinyl includes a digital download with tons of bonus material. The 7"s are limited to 1,000 copies in various combinations, and clear/black haze and straight black vinyl are still available…
@ Trip Machine Laboratories
Weak Teeth "What a Plague You Are" LP
Posted on Thursday, February 2nd, 2012 @ 3:00am » permalink
"What a Plague You Are" is the debut LP from Providence, RI's Weak Teeth (released by Flannel Gurl Records and Tor Johnson Records), offering up 11 songs in about 24 minutes. I guess you could refer to this as weirdly aggressive melodic hardcore with emo/"screamo" leanings. It's interesting because there's something about this material that really does possess that early- to mid-90's D.I.Y. emo/"screamo" vibe, but there's more to it than that, and the more I listen to it the more unsure I am of how to accurately describe it. After "With Love, From the Great War" (a pretty epic intro with acoustic guitars, samples, and spoken vocals), for the most part the tracks revolve around fast-paced and high-energy chord progressions with some loose/jangly riffing here and there, while the vocals tend to stick with strained yelling. Almost every song runs less than two minutes, but then closer "Blue Skies, Shit Life" all of a sudden shifts to 9+ minutes – combining the band's usual fare with slower, plodding instrumental passages and more musical exploration. Despite the often sarcastic song titles the lyrics are always serious, and the band definitely comes across as sincere and heartfelt. Whatever you want to call it, it's really, really good. I'm not saying enough here, but… listen for yourself and see what you think. I, for one, am glad that bands like this still exist in this day and age.
We are completely alone. Trace the end in our fossils, nothing to blame but our need to fuck over and feed. Fiending, buying, occupying. You're dead already, walk around. You're suicidal and depressed. Convince yourself you're not a mess, you're nothing. We are animals thinning out the herd. Non-biological germs. Man is a virus as far as the earth is concerned.
The LP is available on green or black vinyl, or you can grab mp3's for just $3…
Maraloka/Cannons split LP
Posted on Wednesday, February 1st, 2012 @ 3:00am » permalink
This relatively quick 26-minute split LP (Which I believe was self-released by the bands?) sees Salt Lake City/Provo, UT's Maraloka (featuring current and former members of God's Revolver and Parallax) teaming up with Denver, CO trio Cannons. Maraloka kicks things off with three tracks of generally somewhat sludgy, slightly rocked out, essentially "metal" (but not in a particularly traditional sense) material with strained shouting/yelling vocals. The tracks are built largely upon solid riffing with just the right amount of melody, but I'm especially excited about the awesomely dissonant "Thechne", which heads in a different direction that strikes me as comparable to a more restrained and straightforward Parallax (anything even remotely reminiscent of Parallax is a very good thing). Awesome. Cannons then follows with four tracks that fall into sort of a noise rock meets "screamo" type of approach. Expect loose, angular riffing; a hard-hitting and dense bass presence; plenty of tactfully hectic percussion; and vocals that combine shouting, screaming, speaking, and arguably little hints of singing. I'm not very historically informed regarding this general approach, but it's something that always catches my ear when done well, and as far as I'm concerned Cannons' take is absolutely top-notch. Both bands utilize similarly rugged yet balanced production values that work quite well for their respective deliveries, so that's another plus. As usual I'd definitely like to hear more from both bands, so I'll have to keep an eye out for more down the road…
The vinyl is limited to only 220 copies, so act fast if you'd like to get your hands on a copy. Or, you can just score mp3's for a mere $5.
@ Bandcamp (LP/mp3)