Thursday, 8 December 2011

Noothgrush - Erode The Person

As I lower the needle on this record, the world outside my window is chaos.

My little corner of the world is being blasted by winds of up to 130mph (apparently), rivers have burst their banks, the roads are paved with black ice, trees creak, snap, and are uprooted, windows of high-rise buildings shatter and rain glass on the idiotic few who have ventured out in this harsh night.
I have been stuck inside a shell of a factory with no heating for hours, waiting until I can hitch a ride back to my hometown with anyone going even near that direction.
Today has not been a good day.

Arriving home to find the repress of Noothgrush's 'Erode The Person' LP lurking behind my storm doors wasn't so much a pleasant surprise as a fucking necessity. A soundtrack to the foulest of moods on the foulest of days.


So it was with actual NEED to hear something other than a howling gale that I cranked up the volume, collapsed on my floor and let the opening squalls of feedback fill the room.


The feedback lasts mere seconds before Chiyo Nukaga's tumbling, tribal, one-woman-drum-circle kicks in, accompanied by a woozy riff for a couple of bars before the whole thing falls apart with a howl.
Things slow to a neanderthal stomp, the track crashing along haphazardly, held together by one of the most corrosive tones I've heard. It lumbers, the strings bend, tempos shift, and bassist/vocalist Gary rages against "the closed mind of my species".
The tempo lurches up and down, before settling into a doomy plod towards the finish line. The feedback rises and consumes the whole thing once again.

"People are scared, angry, hostile, hate everything, don't know what they hate, don't have anybody else to talk to... just angry, desperate!"

So begins the second track, the 9-minute slog 'Deterioration'. It goes from that sample into one of the doomiest marches I've heard in a while, all spaced-out strings and battered cymbals.

There's enough space in the music to focus on the words, reading along with the lyric sheet as I go, something I NEVER do. Matching these words to this song makes for just about one of the biggest downers you can experience outside of chemical narcotic experimentation.
About halfway through the riff switches up to something a little more light-hearted. Relatively speaking, of course. Oh, spoke too soon, it crashes out into a hungover series of droning, aching picked-out notes.
The last third of the song is almost cheery, with lyrics concerning the extinction of the species as it stands, and 'a rise of altruism and compassion [...] what we know as human will be dead and a superior species will thrive'. Probably the most positive lyrics ever spewed from the gaping maw of doom.

The final track of side A is a Pink Floyd cover. I fucking hate Pink Floyd. I'll give it a shot anyway.
The guitar tone is fuzzed-up and nasty, so it already surpasses anything I've ever heard by the most over-rated band in the world.
This cover is an exercise in minimalism, the drums hitting sparsely but hard, the strings stretching out their contribution to breaking point. I dig this, but it's still never gonna make me reconsider my opinion about the band being covered.


Side B claws it's way out of my speakers with a wretched scrrrape of a song, 'Oil Removed'. Fucking foul. That's a good thing, incase it wasn't obvious. At a running time of three-n-a-half minutes, it's probably the most accessible thing on the whole record. But that's a purely relative term, obviously, it's still a rotting corpse at a beauty pageant compared to other songs of this made-for-radio length.

Final and title track, Erode The Person, is a low and slow beast. Over a minute passes before the other instruments join the bowel-shuddering bass. It's a torturous ten-minute slab of self-loathing, hateful noise, and it's just what I needed to hear tonight. No sarcasm, it really is.
With just a couple of minutes to go, the song momentarily races for the finish line with a downright little boogie of a riff before exhausting itself into an out-of-breath finale.


I mentioned before that I rarely pay attention to the lyrics of most bands operating within the sludge idiom, but this band actually has great mini-essays accompanying each track. These songs, the words, they actual MEAN something. If I knew more about existentialism, environmentalism, gender politics, and the examination of the self in relation to the environment it inhabits, I'd be able to pinpoint their references, but as it stands I'm a fucking philistine, so all I can do is appreciate the themes and words as they are presented here.
This is sludge to get your neurons firing.

I normally don't write this bullshit with the intent to recommend releases, I don't review records so much as simply document my own thoughts on them, giving me a chance to really think about what I'm hearing, but I can wholeheartedly recommend this album. If you're a fan of heavy music with something to say (even if you have to decipher the inhuman screeches with the aid of the record insert), please get a hold of this album as it was originally intended.



I picked this disgusting little beauty up from Portland, Oregon's PARASITIC RECORDS. The guy who runs it was super fast in getting back to me about buying this, and the delivery was fast as fuck too, so support this excellent label/distro by either picking this up, or checking out what else they've got for your listening displeasure.
http://parasiticrecords.blogspot.com/

There aren't many places to hear the almighty Noothgrush online, but they are experiencing something of a resurgence at the moment, with reissues coming out on various labels, a collection of radio sessions or something out on Southern Lord, and an appearance scheduled for next year's Maryland Death Fest.

Now if only they'd get confirmed for Roadburn...

Friday, 4 November 2011

Skitsystem / Cyness split 7"

Skitsystem are one of the best-known purveyors of that Scando-crust sound that the kids are digging so much these days. I'm a big fan of their 1999 debut LP, which I can't be bothered to try and type out, it's this one:


So I have wanted to track down more of their stuff for a while now, and I figured I may as well get one while I was buying a bunch of records from one of my favourite distros, punkdistro.de.
Punkdistro are based out of Germany, and run by a very cool guy named Micha, who I think has taken more of my money than my own government in recent months. Go check out their selection, they have some great stuff.

So I picked up this Skitsystem/Cyness split, which is the last thing they released before going on indefinite hiatus, and again, it sat around in a pile of records for weeks before I finally got around to listening to it. If only I had all the time in the world to do nothing but spin records (hint: someone give me a job as the worst DJ in the world. Cheers.).


'Döden Ar Min Maskinist' crashes in with some colossal slabs of noise, before launching swiftly into their familiar brand of d-beat madness. It's pretty futile to try to decipher the vocals, because even if they weren't spat and snarled out, they're all in Swedish anyway. The track hurtles along for the epic running time of 1:41, and comes to an abrupt halt with a final RRRRUGH! Sweet.

'Pestbringaren' verges on downright catchy, and has some serious throat-shreddage going on. It's kind of hard to write about this stuff interestingly, despite it genuinely being interesting music, there's only so many times you can rehash the comments on fast-as-fuck d-beat, buzzsaw tone and harsh vocals. It's just good, so fucking listen to it for yourself.


Cyness are band I am completely unfamiliar with, but considering they have the word Grindcore incorporated into their logo, I kinda know what I'm getting myself into here.

Opener 'Patriotenidioten' (a title that, even with my very limited knowledge of German, is pretty easy to figure out what they're pissed off about) deafens me with a sampled shout of ARMAGEDDOOOOONNNNN! Before immediately launching into some relentless grind. The vocals bark monotonously for a few bars, before the pace relaxes into some pretty fucking great drumwork, some interesting fills going on in this part. More grind blasts by, and then the track slows to a dissonant mini-sludge section before grinding it's way back to the finish line. I dig this. Hope the rest of the side is so varied!

'Pogoslaughter' opens with some great rolling snare, all fills and noise. I really fucking like the drumming on this record, I'm actually taken aback by how above average this is. Hot on it's heels, snapping at 'em, is 'Maulhelden', a 26 second chug-chug sprint which is close to powerviolence in it's not-quite-grooving riff and forced out grunts.

'Bushkrieger', another oh-so-obvious title, starts off higher up the fretboard, announcing it's presence with some short sharp squealing notes, before crashing into an avalanche of aggression. The second half of the song slows down, but only for a couple of seconds at a time, not like I expected anything longer for a grind band.

Final track 'Kleines Licht' starts out with a series of repeating drumrolls, before erupting into a really fuzzed-out riff backed by good ol' blastbeat-age. The track climaxes, slows, and stretches out to breaking point before snapping with a final bang.
Fucking hell, I did not expect this band to be so good. Looks like I'm tracking down more Cyness records then!

If you fancy doing the same, remember to check out punkdistro.de, and pick up something from their great selection!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Wolfbrigade - Audio Kollaps split 7"

I've had this split kicking around for a couple of months now, but just haven't gotten around to listening to it yet. I bought it on impulse when I had a few spare quid in my paypal account, being only vaguely aware of Wolfbrigade as being exponents of that modern crust sound I love so much, yet knowing nothing of Audio Kollaps except that they hail from Germany. Expectations are non-existant for both sides, though I'm excited to hear a couple of bands that I haven't before!


I'm going for what I think is the Audio Kollaps side first, since, rather annoyingly, the label has decided to force you to participate in some sort of 'DIY or Die' confusion in regards to the labelling of the sides. What the fuck?


First track 'Schwadronen Des Todes' opens with frantic buzzsaw tone, then the definition of cookie monster vocals kick in, and it sounds like the vocalist is singing this way for the very first time. I dig into the band's history a little and find that yeah, this was actually their first release, so that might be why his voice sounds so strained. An unimaginative single-snare d-beat hammers in background, with no deviation 'til halfway through, when the whole thing breaks down into a riff-led backbeat, which is pretty cool.

Second track 'Wahnsinn' is much more frantic and fast-paced. It's pretty standard grind, but late on in the track, there's this little weird descending riff that catches my ear. I dig that one riff, but not much else.

The final track, '5 Vor 12' opens with a bizarre sample of... what sounds like circus music, or trumpet-y nonsense soundtracking a chase sequence. Whatever it's from, it seems to have fuck all to do with the actual subject of the song, not that the English translation of the lyrics acually means anything, maybe they work better in German, I don't know. The blast of music itself is okay, but the sample has thrown me too off guard to really pay attention.

I'd need to check out what this band are doing these days to see if they morphed into something a bit more inspiring, after all, they've had 11 years to do so since this split's late-2000 release.

Next up is the side that piqued my curiosity...


It opens like the thousands of other punk/hardcore/crust/d-beat/grind songs I've heard, abrasive riff for a couple of bars, with two-chord accompanying drumfill intro, but if it ain't broke, don't fix it. And considering I can't get enough of that turn-of-the-century sound, I am more than happy with this record for this first track ('High Tech Degradation') alone.

Second song 'Equality?' opens with the sort of fat bass rumble that, again, countless bands utilise (Stockholm's VICTIMS seem to do it for every second song, and I fuckin' love 'em for it), before kicking into some awesome barked out vocals about the hypocrisy in crying equality, yet judge those who don't share those same beliefs. Lyrics I actually read and relate to? Whoah, this doesn't happen often.

Final track 'Misery' is a short sharp shock, over so fast that I have to drop the needle back at the start to try and catch it. S'good.

This was released on a German label called Epistrophy, who should still have some copies I reckon, as well as a bunch of other German punk/crust goodness I'll get around to checking out sometime.

Check out Audio Kollaps' amazingly 90s site HERE

I can't seem to find an official site as such for Wolfbrigade, other than a myspace link, but I sure as fuck ain't clicking that. Hey bands? There's this thing called bandcamp. Get into it.
In the meantime, here's SOMETHING I found for Wolfbrigade.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Landmine Marathon

Landmine Marathon's new album, Gallows, is one of the releases I've really been looking forward to, so with it's impending arrival in my mailbox, I figured I ought to revisit their back catalogue.


I picked up that little box of goodies from the awesome tape label Selfish Satan Recordings, which is run by an awesome dude named Ami. I've had it sitting around for months now, but I've never really given the first coupla albums (Wounded and Rusted Eyes Awake) a proper listen, since I was so enthralled to their third, Sovereign Descent. Gonna do this thing chronologically, starting with their debut, Wounded.


Side A hisses into life with '25th Hour', a slow starter riff which crawls along before the drums come in, and the pace picks up. So far, so good, but then Grace Perry's feral snarling vocals come in over the music, and I hear what makes me love this band so much.

Landmine Marathon might not play a style of music that hasn't been done to death (ha!) a million times over, but they do it with a genuine ferocity that comes through in the delivery. The catchy-as-fuck riffs meander their way into your skull before bludgeoning it from the inside (that was my millionth attempt at a terrible metaphor. That one was particularly shit. I'm proud of it's shitness.). The drums blast in all the right places, and descend to snail's pace crawls in others, giving the songs real dynamics, not just 'look how fast/complicated/show-offy we can be!'.
This bands writes SONGS.

But before I get too off track yet again, what I was getting at was that Grace's growls, shrieks, and demented howls are genuinely unsettling in parts. When I hear her voice, I get that feeling I've probably mentioned in so many other posts about why metal gives me a feeling no other genre does.
It sounds like there is no way in hell that these sounds can be made by a human being, and that Grace Perry is surely just the worldly name of some horrifying howling creature trapped in a woman's body.

As the first side of Wounded plays through, I can definitely tell that this is their first album. Since I started with their third album, I'm used to hearing a cohesive unit do what it does best, but on these initial songs, they sound like a band still finding their feet, at least in comparison, because they find them pretty fucking fast. All through the rest of side A, and all of the second too, tracks like 'Thunder Blasted Bodies' and 'White Widows' have enough variation, ideas, and are delivered with enough acid-thrown-in-your-face raw aggression that this never gets old even for a second.
The penultimate track stomps out of the speakers at a funeral march pace, a string-bending rotting note lurching along until it explodes into 'Time Movement', the albums closer. This contrast of tempos and delivery are what I like about the death-ier end of the metal spectrum when it's done well, it's not just relentless rythm at a million bpm, it's the dynamics, the contrast, the shock of the velocity, the ferocity.

I can't believe I haven't listened to this tape before now! What a fucking idiot. I wish I still had my old '90s walkman so I could blast this as I walk to work tomorrow.


I am a little more familiar with Rusted Eyes Awake, but it's still not deeply ingrained enough in my brain for me to remember off by heart what I thought of it, which is why I'm having this marathon (no pun intended, honestly!) tape listening session.

Using the phrase 'more of the same' is not intended as an insult by any stretch, because when the same has been tightened up, refined, yet lost none of the impetus and scathing energy, then that is a very fucking good thing. Opening with 'BILE TOWERS', a title so awesome I had to capitalise it, this album announces that yes, this is indeed more of the same. They didn't turn around and drop in rapping, EBM beats, and start wearing pvc legware, like some bands are known to do these days. Landmine Marathon still play death fucking metal.

I spent most of my day today trying to drown out the radio by deafening myself with plenty of Death, Entombed and Bolt Thrower, and listening to LM now, hours later, I'm struck by how well these songs stack up against the greats, how this band wouldn't have sounded out of place if they were putting out albums on Earache in the golden years of that label.
Admittedly, that's not a conclusion I am alone in, I've seen plenty of 'proper music writers' describe them as pure Bolt Thrower worship, and though this isn't unaccurate, it's far from a bad thing.

'Bled To Oblivion' is by far my favourite track from the first side, Grace's voice being joined in what probably passes for the chorus by Antony Hämäläinen from some band I've never heard of. Though judging by the way his voice works alongside the main vocals, providing a deeper bellow to counterpoint the snarl, I should probably give 'em a shot. The twin guitar work in the final minute is seriously 'bang-worthy.

Side B opens with another caps-worthy song title, HEROIN SWINE. This is just straight out blastbeat nastiness, never relenting for even a second to let you catch your breath. Or whatever metaphor you want to come up with meaning respite for your ears. Oh wait, there's a breakdown (NO! not that kind, there is nothing remotely -core about this song) with some widdly guitarwork. Then it's back into double-kick mayhem until the end.

The rest of the tracks blur past in a red-misted haze of frantic blastbeats, corrosive guitar tone and venomous vocals, with the final, and title track winding things down in a much more mid-paced fashion, with a swaggering rythm and the harshest, most throat-shredding fade-out ending I've ever heard.
The tape hisses and clicks and ends. Whew. Next up...


A fade-in on the first track, Exist, excellent! I am a little biased towards this album because I've played the fuck out of it for a year now, but it still sounds fresh and exciting to me every time. It still makes me want to go out and run until my lungs burst. Which I'm sure isn't a very mentally stable reaction to music...

When I first encountered Landmine Marathon, the first thing that caught my eye, literally, was the album artwork by the awesome Dan Seagrave, and if you don't know who that is then just go fucking kill yourself.
I won't list every amazing record artwork he's responsible for, because it would take me forever, but safe to say he's pretty damn legendary among death metal artwork nerds (an admittedly niche section of society). I would link to his website, but it seems to be a flash monstrosity, and I can't even get it to display, so stop reading this shite and go research him yourself already...

Anyway, I checked the band out based on the artwork, and fell in morbid musical love. Especially when I saw the video for the next track, Shadows Fed To Tyrants. Check it out, tell me that doesn't look like the most fun ever?





It confirmed everything I thought when I heard their music, that they'd be a no bullshit, built-to-destroy-things-to live spectacle. I really hope they cross the Atlantic sometime, I need to get bloodied up to this song. The breakdown (again, I have to stress that it's not THAT sort of breakdown) in the middle of the song is worth headbanging to until your eyes fall out.

Flood The Earth is my favourite track on the whole album. It's... pulverising perfection. Not much more to say about it than that.

I can't think of original things to say that properly convey just how fucking good this album is. Just buy it, get into it, then get at me about it so I have someone to talk to about this fucking awesome band.

You can pick up the single cassettes, or the boxset, from Selfish Satan http://www.selfishsatanrecordings.com
Or get the CDs from Prosthetic http://prostheticrecords.bigcartel.com/artist/landmine-marathon
Kit yourself out in a shirt http://www.indiemerchstore.com/landminemarathon
And keep up with the band's tour schedule and other shit here http://landminemarathon.blogspot.com/

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Isengard - Høstmørke

You know you've met the girl of your dreams when you can go haunt record stores with her and she taps you on the shoulder to show you the obscure metal LP she's managed to unearth, buys it before you can wrestle it out of her clutches, and spends the next hour gloating that she found it before you.
When you don't COMPLETELY hate her for it, then I guess that's love.

Now that I've typed the most vomitously sentimental thing I've ever said, time to actually get into what record I'm talking about.

I'm by no means the world's biggest black metal fan, and FAR from an authority on the subject, but anyone with even a passing knowledge of the genre will be familiar with one Gylve Nagell, better known as Fenriz.


 I'm not going to delve too deeply into the myriad reasons why Fenriz is one of the most legendary, and hilarious, figures in metal, but safe to say the man is a true music fanatic.

From the death metal of the first Darkthrone album, to the genre-defining classics like A Blaze In The Northern Sky, Transilvanian Hunger et al, to the later punked-up speed metal, his music is nothing if not varied, and in all my years of listening to his stuff, I've never actually heard anywhere NEAR all of his assorted projects. One of those albums to have slipped under my radar was his completely solo record, created under the name Isengard.


I have absolutely no idea what to expect from this album, but I'm pretty excited to check it out because Fenriz is like the cool older brother that I (and a few thousand other nerds) never had.
Strangely enough, side A is first up...
Is that... is that fucking YODELLING!? I am almost tempted to put a colon-capital-d here because of the reaction this inspires in me. Yodelling. Amazing.
Knowing that he played all the instruments on this record himself, as well as sang/yodelled makes this seem actually pretty damn impressive. The riff in this track is pretty basic, but goddamn, it's almost... groovey? I can see why he did this as a seperate project, because there's a warmth and to his tone and a bounce in his playing that just wouldn't have worked in mid-90s Darkthrone, and a (I'm assuming) humour in the aforementioned yodelling and the maniacal laughs interjected into the vocals occasionally.


Most of the lyrics are in Norwegian as far as I can tell, but his voice itself is pretty damn brilliant, a real strong bellow thats a far cry from the shrieks and growls you'd associate with his main band's output at the time. I've no idea what he's yelling about, but it sounds good whatever it is.

One thing I can't get over is how great the production is! As the man himself puts it on the liner notes 'Engineered and produced [...] in Necrohell Studios to get that fine demo - sound. No clinical life - sound here!'. Yes, quite.
It has that great atmosphere to it that I like about the rawer end of black metal, Darkthrone in particular, it sounds like it couldn't possibly have been created by normal human beings, but at the same time... it does? Wow, it's a good job I don't write this shit for a living, huh? I can't put into words what I mean. Which, in a way, is exactly what I mean. There's an intangible, otherwordly quality to it, despite the fact that you know for a fact it's just a few Norwegian weirdos in a dingy little studio somewhere with fuck all to do except create this cacaphony.
But the fact that the resultant noise can send chills up spines worldwide... they must be doing something right.

I've lost track of what the fuck I was actually trying to say there... the production sounds real, human, and absolutely fuck all like most black metal, I think that was it...

Side A ends with 'I ei Gran Borti Nordre Åsen' which, regardless of what the title means, is some horn-blowing Norse insanity. This album is fucking brilliant, in the weirdest way.


Side B opens up with more surprisingly soulful vocal acrobatics, backed by an almost doom-y plod, which reminds me of, strangely enough considering this album predates it by a decade, the stuff Celtic Frost came back with on Monotheist. Thats as far as my doom-through-a-black-metal-spectrum knowledge stretches I'm afraid. Also, is that like the 50th time I've used the word spectrum in his post? Fucking hell, someone buy me some backened doom records and a thesaurus, cheers.

The next track, 'Thornspawn Chalice' is more like what I was expecting to hear from this album, opening with some splashy cymbalwork, descending into some very definitively black riffage, and tortured throat-shredding vocals. I dig it. It basically sounds like a one-man-band version of Darkthrone, and it's awesome. Sorry, Ted.

The final track, Total Death, is again purest, unfiltered black, and really does sound like it should fit somewhere on the Darkthrone album of the same name. I wonder if it's just tacked on here as filler? Because this album sure as fuck isn't a coherent body of work, considering it goes from yodelling and groovey riffs, through Norse horn nonsense, to tremolo picking and blastbeats in the final minutes... it's not boring, I'll give it that! And when I said 'filler' regarding this final track, I only meant it because it's a little... incongrous. The song itself is fucking killer.
As is this album, if you don't take it too seriously.

I would try and find somewhere that you can get hold of a vinyl copy of this slab of weirdness for yourself, but it's midnight, and I've had a long-ass day, and frankly I cannot be fucking bothered. The record was originally released by Moonfog in '95, but a quick glance at their website shows that they only have the CD version for sale now, and the website hasn't even been updated since 2007. So... good luck with that.
http://moonfog.no/mailorder.asp

What I WILL suggest  is that you check out the shop where this was discovered, on the grimm, troo frostbitten streets of Edinburgh. If you ever find yourself up in the great grey North, make your way to Leith Walk, and trawl the racks of Vinyl Villains for some surprising finds. Make sure you buy something LP-sized, if only to get one of these cool-as-fuck bags.


F.O.A.D.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Saviours - Death's Procession

For this post I should probably start with a disclaimer as to why this 'review' might be a little, um... glowing, shall I say? I've been an absolutely massive fan of Oakland, CA's Saviours ever since I saw them blow The Sword off the stage about three and a half years ago.
Despite being unemployed at the time, I did what I usually do when a band destroys my vertebrae through sheer headbang-age, and blew every single penny I had to my name at their merch table. Which at the time meant walking away with only their first two albums, Crucifire and Into Abbadon. Ever since that night, and those albums, I've been hooked.

Which brings me to my much-anticipated first spin of their latest slab of wax, the recently released Death's Procession.

I haven't heard a single note from this album except for the song Crete'n, which was accompanied by what is probably the best music video I have seen in a long time. If you like bikes, beers, brawls and blood, you should probably check it out.


Anyway, enough preamble, I'm gonna get into the record now.


It comes in a pretty simple, but awesome sleeve. The bizarre* patterns and shapes on the front are actually embossed, which makes this record super fun to pick up and paw, if you're as incredibly easily amused by minor sensory details as I am.

The first track, The Eye Obscene, opens with a lumbering riff which quickly gives way to widdly-widdly twin guitars. I normally don't have much time for this sort of thing, but this band does it out of love and reverance for classic rock staples like Thin Lizzy and ZZ Top, not to be show-offy pricks about it. Once the histrionics are done with, Austin Barber's vocals kick in, and you can actually hear it in this voice how much weed this guy smokes. He's never been the most vocally acrobatic and adventurous singer, and this hasn't really changed, but what he lacks in range and variety, he makes up with in... something. Whatever it is, he fucking BELTS out every damn line.
The track is a stoned stomp, with little interjections of dual-guitar flair, and is a pretty awesome tone-setter for the rest of the record.

To The Grave Possessed fucking WAILS out of the speakers with yet more squealing classic rock guitars. That's something that has evolved into their sound more and more with each release, I've noticed. Going back and listening to Into Abaddon before this album, you can really hear the evolution from their doom-y, chugging beginnings into the nimble-fingered '70s throwback rippers they're putting out now.
ANYWAY, I'm getting distracted. Once the wail-age is over, it breaks down to a solid driving rythm, in the most literal sense of the word. I can't drive, but if I could, I would blast this song with the windows down and the volume way the fuck up. Perfect semi-boogie riffage.

Fire Of Old is the third track in a row that begins with a Lizzy-worshipping dual guitar attack, and to be honest, it's starting to get a little (Fire Of) old. Fucking hell, why did no-one stop me from typing that 'joke'? I need an editor or something...
This is another mid-paced classic-rock-40-years-too-late song. One thing I'll say about this album is if you're expecting innovation, originality, and the reinvention of the wheel, well, you ain't gonna get it. If you want a soundtrack to donning your finest double-denim ensemble, downing a couple of beers, and nodding your head, then this record is probably gonna be the soundtrack to your life for the next few months.
I know it'll probably be mine.

Side A ends with Earthen Dagger, which is a return to their doomier, slower roots. It's awesome. Not really much more to say about it than that...


Side B opens with the aforementioned Crete'n, which you can probably make your own mind up about by watching the video up there. A fast-paced, straight-up, no-bullshit banger, and probably my favourite track from the new record so far. Cannot wait to (hopefully) catch this one played live.

Gods End opens with rumbling drums, before hurtling into what sounds like a speeded-up version of the Crete'n riff. This sounds like it should be a Motörhead b-side, which is obviously a great thing. Actually, now I kinda just want to listen to Motörhead... that will have to wait until I finish this side. An overly-long guitar solo in the middle of this song kinda spoils it for me. If edited down to a 3 minute ripper, it would be a contender for my favourite track.

Next is... oh fuck. Fuck. FUCK!
A creeping, crawling, doom-as-fuck riff drags itself out of my speakers. It lurches, lumbers... is that more of my beloved dirty-ass organ sound barely audible in the background? Okay. Forget the fast stuff. THIS is my jam!
The riff mutates, becomes a different, creepier beast before shifting up a considerable amount of gears, launching into the driving steamrolling riffmachine Saviours that I fell in hesher love with.
I've been waiting for a track like this the whole record.
Okay, I can't even write enough about how fucking good this song is, but seriously, buy the album for this one alone.

The album ends with Walk To The Light, which begins with (sigh) yet more twin-guitar harmonies. I hope I can get over my hatred for guitar solos enough to really get into this album, because like I said at the start, I've been a pretty huge fan of this band before now.
The solos get put on the backburner for long enough to let an actual RIFF shine through, and it's a meandering, twisted sonofabitch. Barber even approaches a croon with his vocals. Albeit a croon executed with a shredded throatful of dopesmoke.
Halfway through this song abruptly switches direction and yet again reminds me of the Saviours of old, chugchugchug-tinyvariationonguitaranddrumfillsection-chugchugchug. I dig this part. I focus on the rythm and not the lead, and it's a pretty awesome end to a record that I hope I grow to love.

If you want to worship the riff, pay into Saviours' beer n' weed fund by buying their records and shirts
http://www.kemado.com/?artist=saviours
http://killforsaviours.bigcartel.com/

and keep semi-up-to-date with 'em here
http://killforsaviours.blogspot.com/

*shout out to the girl who used this word approximately 639 times last weekend. I still owe you a thesaurus...

Saturday, 17 September 2011

The Obsessed - The Church Within

Anyone who pays attention to breaking news about all things heavy will know why I'm giving this album a long-overdue relisten. The rumours had been flying around for weeks, the excitement building with every dropped hint, until the good folks at Roadburn had the decency to put everyone out of their misery, and announce that yes, they had infact managed to score an Obsessed reunion show for next year's fest.

I typed a whole paragraph about how excited I am to attend next year's Roadburn, before realising that whoever is reading this is probably already aware of how fucking ridiculously good the lineup is even at this early stage. If you're somehow completely unaware, ignorant, or just fucking stupid, check it out here:
http://www.roadburn.com/roadburn-2012/

I'll get the usual backstory bullshit out of the way with quickly so I can get into talking about the actual album.
I remember the first time I heard The Obsessed. Back when my main gateway to new music was purchasing metal magazines that came with free CDs (we're talking 2002 or something), I got one particular compilation that blew my mind. It was around the time that Dave Grohl's Probot project was finally being released, and to coincide with that, some publication had asked him to put together a comp of his favourite metal tracks. He'd gone for old-school tracks featuring all the guest singers he had gotten to sing on Probot, legends like Cronos, Tom G Warrior, Lee Dorrian, King Diamond... look it up already, I'm not going to list all of 'em! Basically, this was my gateway into real metal. This shiny little disc, given away free, and probably discarded by most buyers, changed my life.
In the space of an hour, I heard Cathedral's groovey take on doom, I heard Celtic Frost's abrasive, decaying, primal guitar tone, I had my ears blasted by DRI and early Corrosion of Conformity, fell about laughing at the piercing screams of the King in Mercyful Fate, was creeped out by an early Trouble track... but one song stood out.


Enough said, right? If you want to know what it was like to be me as a teenager, track down an old portable CD player, grab a skateboard, and play this track on repeat as you skate back and forth in your shitty local park's leaf-strewn bowl. It suits it perfectly. Anyway, enough of this fucking rose-tinted nostalgia shit...


The Obsessed went through many line-ups, to the point where there can't be many people in the world that Wino HASN'T been in a band with at some point, but the one that is reforming for Roadburn is the band that recorded the last Obsessed album, The Church Within. I'll admit that it's definitely the album I've paid the least attention to, even out of their limited discography, but since it's highly likely that I'll be witnessing many of these tracks played live in about six months, I better familiarise myself with 'em!


Since this is a tape, and I'm lazy, circumstance dictates that I must listen to side B first.
Which is more than okay with me, because it kicks off with what probably counts as the band's biggest song (there's a video and everything!), Streetside. This song is pretty standard fare, a swinging backbeat rythm, some guitar noodling, y'know, the stuff that a million other songs are made of, but it's Wino's instantly recognisable, soulful vocals that set it apart.
The next track, Climate Of Despair begins solidly enough, but towards the end it descends into this rich, deep organ sound, which is fine with me, I fucking love me some hammond organ. It picks back up again before a pretty abrupt end.

This album was recorded in '94 by some fucking idiot named in the credits as 'MC Snoob', which doesn't bode well for the production. In the case of side two, track three, this rears it's ugly head. I struggle to find a single album of any genre, except maybe some rap stuff, recorded in the '90s which doesn't sound fucking terrible in terms of production techniques. Prove me wrong?
Anyway, this track, Mourning, is swathed in some terrible echo-y delay effect on EVERY instrument. The cymbals that introduce the song sound like water balloons bursting, and Wino's usual rich timbre is reduced to sounding like Mr fucking Roboto. I really cannot recommend it at all.
If you want to hear the track as it was probably originally intended, check it out on the 'Incarnate' compilation.

Things get back to normal on the next song, Touch Of Everything, which makes you wonder why they decided to fuck with the previous track so much? Not even the worst drugs in the world woud lead to such bizarre decision-making. This song is another solid effort, if a little average. If I strain my ears, I can just about hear what I think is more organ underpinning the guitar/bass/drums. Again, I bemoan the production/mix of this record.
I'm not normally one for paying too much attention to lyrics, but one particular couplet grabs my attention:

'Cause living day-to-day gets downright obscene

I need a touch of everything
We've lost touch of everything...'

Which brings to mind the same sentiment he bellows in Saint Vitus' 'Born Too Late', that of a man out of place in the world. Which, to be a total cliche about it, is something I can relate to. So that merits another listen of this track.

The rest of the second side passes by pleasantly enough, but despite normally being a rabid fan of everything Wino puts his name to, I just don't feel too attached to this album by the time it ends.

But then I remember that it hasn't ended at all! Side A, work your magic...


To Protect And Serve struts out of the speakers, a swaggering, swinging ode to law enforcement, which some ambiguous lyrics leave my wondering if it's Anti or Pro police? Either way, this is awesome.

Field Of Hours opens with some horrible bass tone, before mercifully being obscured when the guitar and drums begin. Not much interesting to say about this track. Or any of the others that follow it to make up the rest of side A. What is definitely apparent to me is that I definitely prefer early Obsessed. Such a cliche, but it's usually true: their earlier stuff was better.

This tracks ain't BAD by any means, they just sounds a little... sluggish, compared to what made me fall in love with the original incarnation of the band. Overlong tracks, which is an unusual thing to complain about within the realms of the doom/stoner genre, but when they're played at a relatively midpaced to fast tempo, they just seem to drag on forever.

I really hope that just because it's the Church Within lineup playing Roadburn, that doesn't mean they'll do that horrible reformation trick of sticking to playing just a 'classic' album all the way through. Because as solid a record as it is, The Church Within sure ain't a classic album.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Hot Graves


I can't exactly recall where I first heard of Hot Graves.
I know it was a year or so ago, and the thing that caught my attention was the name, making me think of the awesome Hot Snakes... but Grave-ier. This has got to be the worst intro to anything that anyone has ever written. But fuck it, who even cares how I got into this band. The point is, as always, the music.

A few months ago I ordered the compilation CD (a CD review! how un-kvlt! fuck off.) direct from the band, and was instantly enamoured by their mix of crusty D-beat and proto-Black Metal. I won't get into reviewing the demo compilation here, because like I said, I've had it for months and I love it, so it'd be a bit of an outdated, and very biased review. Needless to say, you should still pick it up from the band's merch store, if only for the eye-searingly pink design.


The reason for my rekindled interest in this band of Floridian 'bangers is that they recently released a 7" through the relatively new Greyhaze Records, complete with snazzy new logo courtesy of Vberkvlt (I won't get into how much I love his work yet again, read my older posts.)


So I snapped up one of them beauties... well, I won't say straight away because that'd be a lie. I'm broke as a joke pretty much all the time, but any spare cash I have lying around is usually spent working my way through the ten million distros I have bookmarked. ANYWAY, I'm being even more boring and self-centered than usual, the point is that I bought the goddamn record, obviously. It arrived with the scrawled message...
Which my very basic French translate as something like 'I want to kill all the world'. Which is a nice sentiment.

First up is, strangely enough, side A!
Buzzzzzzzzzz go the first few seconds of the punk-as-fuck riff that begins the first track Desecration Time, then with an UGH, the d-beat kicks in with a vengeance. When the vocals begin a short time later, they're noticably deeper than on the demo comp. They've mutated into a real putrid growl, which seems to permeate the track, to echo under the music, instead of over the top of the instrumentation.

Then this awesome section kicks in with the guitars and drums locking in to this tight little groove which has my head banging like nothing else. They run through this sequence once more, before the track descends into a plodding doom stomp.
Splashy ritualistic cymbal sounds and twin guitar melodies give some respite before things amp up considerably, the tempo building, gaining momentum, before the whole filthy mess explodes into this short sharp shock of a solo, a frenetic, spasticated thing that goes out with a bang. Damn, that was good! I'm actually gonna play that side through again. And again.


When I eventually get around to side B, my expectations are pretty damn high.
Baphomet's Revenge blasts out of the speakers like... I actually can't come up with a shitty metaphor for this. To be completely ridiculous, the mental image I get from those opening chugs is of some goat-headed demon biker riding a blood-fuelled motorcycle... in space. This song would make an amazing addition to the soundtrack of some Satanic b-movie. I actually can't describe this song in cold, clinical terms because it's just too much fun. Just sheer headbanging visceral thrills.

The second track on this side is a cover of Anti-Cimex's 'Make My Day'. I'm going to lose cool points by admitting that I've never taken the opportunity to familiarise myself with Anti-Cimex, despite them being a punk-patch staple. The cover track blasts past, much shorter than the band's own songs, and seems decent enough. With a few more spins, I might grow to love it enough to delve into the Cimex catalogue.

But for now, it's all about Hot Graves for me. As much as I love the demos, this 7" is a whole different beast. They've gotten tighter, yet somehow more sprawling in the range of styles they incorporate into their songs. To include Warrior-worshipping UGHs, neck-snapping d-beat, doomed marches, to blasts of guitar histrionics, and all within a single song, executed without feeling cobbled together, a mere pastiche, is no mean feat.
This 7" was recorded 2 years ago now, and has only recently seen the light of day. If the band were THIS good 2 years ago, I can't wait for their upcoming debut LP, Knights In White Phospherous.

Listen, buy, and dig Hot Graves (HA!) in the following places:
http://satanikrecordings.wordpress.com/
http://satanikrecordings.bigcartel.com/
http://hotgraves.bandcamp.com/

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Bongripper - Sex Tape / Snuff Film

I remember the first time I heard the term 'snuff'.

Like a lot of people who aren't too familiar with extreme sadistic entertainment, the idea that anyone could derive genuine pleasure from viewing the serious suffering of others wasn't something that ever crossed my innocent, naive teenage mind when I first saw the movie '8mm' in the early '00s.
I'm not going to go into the movie at all, because it fucking sucks, but the plot does concern a detective on the hunt for the whereabouts of a girl who is shown in a grainy, poorly shot 8mm film, apparently being brutally murdered. Not incidentally. Not caught on camera by accident. The whole purpose of the film is to document the last minutes of this young girl's life before it is mercilessly taken.
I might have thought the movie was terrible (Nicholas Cage's 'acting'. Enough said.), but the idea that such a thing probably actually happened definitely piqued my morbid curiosity. I have no desire to ever see such a film, I'd take no enjoyment from it in any way, but the concept alone intrigued me.

So when I saw the title of the almighty Bongripper's latest 7", I instantly knew I wanted to hear how the instrumental band would translate the idea, the horror, of a snuff movie into a soundtrack to a person's final breaths.


I thought I'd do things chronologically, starting with the Sex Tape side.
If this is the soundtrack to anyone's sex tape, then they are seriously fucked (HA!).
There is no foreplay to speak of: no sample, no slow build, no feedback. From the moment the needle drops, it just launches into some pretty straightforward doom... at least to begin with.
Things plod along for a while before suddenly this scuzzy punked up section kicks in for a while, before mutating again into a fuzzy ROAR of a riff. Scuzz n' fuzz.
It switches down a gear again into a different slow riff, ambling along nice enough, but nothing that hasn't been done a thousand times before. Not that it's a bad thing, if it ain't broke, then you sure as fuck don't fix it.


On the flipside we get into the REAL reason I wanted to hear this record.
Strains of feedback filter in, shortly joined by a funeral march drumbeat. It sounds ominous as fuck even BEFORE the 3-note intro riff begins. I'm yet again creeped out by my own choice in music.

Luckily that feeling of self-loathing for being so musically morbid dissipates once the music drops down to a single downtuned bass rumble, a precursor to the next punky section. This part of the song makes me recall the scene in Evil Dead when Cheryl is racing through the darkened woods, pursued by... well, fuck knows what. You all know what happens next.
Maybe my subconscious only pairs these things together because of the implied content of the song.

The simplistic chords break down into a canyon-wide groove next, with some excellently snappy drum work. To continue my shitty Evil Dead comparison, this would be the soundtrack to branches winding their way around limbs.

Things slow down even FURTHER, and you can tell it's the final minute or so of the song. The final breaths of a body. The feedback I'd been kind of missing from a sludge record finally make's it's appearance, whining and screeching as the song grinds to a halt. The song ends. The body is buried.

/pretentiousness

You can give it a listen on the Bongripper bandcamp page HERE
and check out all the other Bongripper releases while you're at it.

Purchase a physical copy from someone who doesn't want it's filthy contents in their house anymore, because they're all sold out. You snooze, you lose.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Dragged Into Sunlight - Hatred For Mankind

Like I said in my previous post, cover artwork can sometimes be the main selling point for me to check out an album. That was definitely the case when I first set eyes upon the artwork for Hatred For Mankind.


It's exactly what I love about a lot of metal artwork: stark, grim, black ink depictions of truly repulsive creatures, rituals, landscapes... just generally creepy shit, basically.

This particular occult etching was created by one of my favourite illustrators of recent years, Justin Bartlett, a.k.a VBERKVLT. He's created several album covers, shirts and logos for bands such as Aura Noir, Trap Them and Hot Graves. I won't get too deep into how much I dig his work here since I'd never get around to the actual record review if I did, but if you want to know more then check out his work here [ http://www.vberkvlt.com/ ] and help pay his bills here [ http://shirtsanddestroy.com/justin_bartlett ]

So it was the cover that got my attention, and it was the complete lack of ANY other information about this band that held it. A year or so ago, when I first started looking for somewhere to check this band out, I realised they didn't do interviews, there were no album streams, no promo photos of the band members, nothing.
Far from being frustrated, I love that level of mystery surrounding them. I couldn't find this album anywhere, and had to resort to checking out live performance clips on the internet.
The band perform with their back to the audience, facing their wall of amps, surrounded by skulls, while spewing out the most disgusting, decrepit blackened sludge I'd ever heard. I had to satisfy myself with these low-lighting, ear-raping clips until I could track down an actual release of the album.

News surfaced that it would receive a CD release with Prosthetic Records, one of America's better-known metal labels. CD? Really? No way would that do it justice. I hunted around various distros, sources, spoke to other fans of the band before finding out that there would eventually be a vinyl repress by Mordgrimm.
Mordgimm are an incredibly difficult to track down UK-based label who specialise in mostly Black Metal and Sludge vinyl releases. After finding a contact email for them, I bombarded them with emails regarding this release, enquiring after release dates, pressing info, and eventually, begging them to take my money in exchange for a copy. After receiving no replies to my over-enthusiastic harassment, I'd begun to lose hope of getting a copy, thinking I'd been too slow off the mark to snag one of the VERY limited represses.
Weeks later, news starts filtering through on the DFFD forum that people had begun receiving their records out of the blue. Sure enough, amidst a huge stack of LP-sized packages I begrudgingly received one Saturday from my postman (that guy fucking hates me, seriously, even though my postage payments are probably putting his kids through university), I unfolded the cardboard to find that evil-as-fuck illustration. I felt like a kid on (anti)christmas morning, snatching it out of the barely-opened package, and running upstairs to play the record. I remember my hastily typed 'review' at the time consisting solely of the phrase 'UTTER FUCKING CACOPHONY!!!'.

It's been months since that height-of-summer day. The nights are growing darker, colder, and I find my mood worsening as a result. With this mindset, this black slab of audio misanthropy is more than due another spin.


Side A opens with a short disturbing sample, before possibly the most thunderous drums I've ever heard crash in. I mean, these things are mixed LOUD! Immediately I remember why the word cacophonous sprung to mind first time around. The drums are swiftly followedby a colossal doom riff, with repeats a few times, before morphing into a different mid-tempo riff, closely followed by a short burst of Black Metal-esque fast-as-fuck picking.
I can't believe I've gotten this far without mentioning the vocals. Some people who right about music think it's really clever to spell it vokills sometimes, which always struck me as fucking stupid, but listening to this guy wretching up the acid from the pit of his stomach with the force of his screams suddenly makes me wonder if vokills isn't ENTIRELY inaccurate... fucking hell.
Switching from a guttaral howl to an agonising shriek within seconds, I wonder how the fuck any human being can sound like this. Surely that's a reaction to extreme metal vocals that only your grandmother has when she asks you what you're listening to, and you decide to actually let her hear it. Within seconds she looks at you hesitantly, with concern in her eyes that this is the so-called 'devil music' she should be warning you against.
That's what my reaction is when I hear this record. The entire thing just sounds so fucking corrupt. I love it.

This first track, Boiled Angel - Buried With Leeches, meanders through so many different tempos, alternating between low and high pitched sounds, sinewy riffs twisting the whole time, unable to be pinned down to any persistent rythm or groove, the occasional interjected sample... it is definitely not easy listening. There is no discernable structure, no sense of direction, the harshness just continues relentlessly, interminably.
And if that sounds at all like a criticism, it most definitely isn't. I've heard this album a few times now, and each time I discover new things within the music, a certain pattern, texture or riff that I can't recall from my previous listen. Even now, months after my initial experience with this record, it sounds new, and fresh.
Well, fresh in a putrid, rotting sort of way.

The other songs continue in much the same vein. So many twists and turns and stop-starts that it's nigh on impossible to tell the tracks apart.
However the final strack of this side, To Hieron, opens with a sample so bizarre that it always stands out to me. Whatever movie it's from, I need to somehow find out and track it down, because it sounds insane.
A woman announces "You're an inhumane bunch of fuckin' livin' Bastards and Bitches, and you're gonna get your asses nuked in the end!" then BOOM, straight into another pummelling, this one short, sharp, and anything but sweet. Side A definitely goes out with a bang.


The second side opens with Volcanic Birth, which seems more structured than anything I hear on the first side. For a start I can actually make out a point in the song where the... creature... hoarsely bellows the song title! Discernable vocals! No fucking way.

The riffs employed in this song verge on almost catchy, they are actually played for more than a few bars, and they even sync up with the blastbeats at points. Though if this makes it sound like some sort of traditional song structure, then prepare to be disappointed. This is merely barely-organised chaos.

There is one point towards the end of song where everything locks in to this ominously spiralling riff. This is my favourite part. It actually sounds like what so many heavy bands try and fail to capture: a genuine feeling of dread.
There are only a handful of moments in music that have given me a similar sensation.
The first, and still best, is the opening note on Black Sabbath's first record. Chills, every time.

Sometimes when I listen to records, my overactive imagination develops it's own very extended 'music video' to accompany the music, something to stimulate my mind's eye while my ears are in sensory overload.
Throughout second side B track Lashed To The Grinder And Stoned To Death, my only visual reaction is a constant barrage of those shock-tactic moments in horror movies where some grotesque villain is revealed for the first time, or a face emerges from the darkness, or hands lunge for the figure on screen. The track is eleven minutes long. It feels like it.

The rest of the album continues to inspire unease and discomfort, never settling down, never relenting.
I feel drained after playing through both full sides, and now I know why I haven't listened to this album too regularly in the months I have owned it. It's not background music, you need to sit down, and surrender close to an hour of your life to it.

Hating mankind deserves no less than full devotion.

-

Getting a hold of a copy of the vinyl for yourself:
You can try and track down Mordgrimm records, if you're not a total idiot and know where to look. For once, I'm not going to make it easy, fuck you, you need to go through the same hell I did to receive this little slice of it.

You can however support these misanthropic cunts by picking up a CD or shirt from their online store [ http://dis.bigcartel.com/ ]

Monday, 5 September 2011

Wormrot - Dirge

Wormrot are one of those bands who seem to be best known for something other than their music.

That's not to take away from their music in any way, I'm definitely a fan, but whenever you hear them mentioned in most articles, a bigger deal seems to be made of the fact that they are from Singapore, one of the most isolated and obscure countries in the world, and that they play grindcore, one of the most alienating and obscure music genres in the world.
Although the phrase Grindcore from Singapore is fun to type, and to say!


See, I'm getting distracted from what actually matters: the music.

Another thing that gained the band a lot of exposure beyond their status as geographical curiosity is the fact that their label, Earache, decided not to release any 'single', video, or even just stream the album, but to actually release the digital version of the album for free months in advance of it's release date.
I would try to provide a link to get the freebie for yourself, but the Earache site is such a clusterfuck I can't navigate my way to where the files are available from, if they still are.
If you're that curious, you should just buy the actual album.

Anyway, plenty of folks took Earache up on that great offer, myself included.
I'm not one of the countless (un)holier-than-thou metal fans who can't allow themselves to like something if it's popular, who dismiss bands based on hype or exposure. I like to believe the hype about bands, but not blindly, I will at least give them the chance to justify it.
I tend to think that if so many people have good things to say about music as harsh and, a lot of the time, downright unlistenable as what these guys play, then they must be DAMN good at what they do.

So despite this blog's raison d'etre, I succumbed to the lure of digital.
From the first seconds, the first note, this didn't strike me as being like any other grind band I'd heard for a while. The first track, charmingly titled 'No-one Gives A Shit', started out with a corrosive scree of guitar, and it went on for what seemed like forever (in grindcore terms). Then it hit me, and I bought into every word of hype.

The usual turn of events took place: I dug the music, and when I saw the artwork I knew that I downright NEEDED the record. So I pre-ordered it, without having a clue as to the actual release date (seriously Earache, get your site sorted, for fucks sake...), and waited at my mailbox like a kid before christmas for weeks.
Eventually it arrived, and it was WELL worth the wait!


The cover art alone justified this purchase, I absolutely love high-contrast black ink illustrations, and this informs way more record purchases than it should. What can I say, I'm aesthetically shallow. Even more so when those illustrations depict decrepit death, reeking putrefaction, and general decay. So before I even slid out the sleeve, I was just sat drooling over the packaging for a solid 5 minutes.
I was pretty damn surprised to discover it was drawn by Andrei Bouzikov, who has created some of my favourite album art of the past couple of years for the likes of Hellmouth, Skeletonwitch and Municipal Waste. He normally produces very colourful, traditional metal cover paintings, and this artwork does seem like a big departure for him. You can check out his work over at the Tankcrimes site, here:
http://www.tankcrimes.com/aboo/

The reason that I'm re-playing and 'reviewing' this record now is because I have the great fortune to be catching Wormrot playing in a dingy little basement tomorrow night along with a couple of my favourite local purveyors of filth. So this spin is just a refresher course as to why I'm so excited to see this band play.

Side A opens with that aforementioned corrosive, rusting riff, before launching into the style of grind that made me a fan.
At the risk of offending people (actually, fuckit, get offended, what the fuck do I care?), I'm not big on most grindcore. The vast majority of it sounds like unlistenable noise, over-long samples, someone running their fingers up and down a fretboard while some triggered drums blast away at incomprehensible superhuman speeds over the whole thing. What can I say, I'm just not cool enough to like music without any sense of rythm or discernable hooks. Luckily, Wormrot have hooks in spades. Or some other terrible mixed metaphor.

The songs run into each other so fast that it's an exercise in futility to try to tell them apart for the most part, but my personal highlights of side A are the amazingly titled 'Public Display Of Infection', 'Overpowered Violence', and the track that closes out the side 'Deceased Occupation'.
That last track is probably the single catchiest moment of the first side, with it's initial spit-acid-in-your-face attack giving way to a slower, lumbering, stop/start groove and fantastically varied drum patterns. My only gripe is that the song fades out, and not just on the record, but on the digital version too. It kind of ruins the relentless momentum.


But not too much, because they launch into Side B with a-fucking-plomb!
The familiar constant grinding resumes, with the occasional foray into catchier territory to break things up. The thing that I like most about Wormrot is the drumming. They seem to draw from just about every variant of grind drumming, from the usual blastbeats, occasional D-beat, through to these little in-the-pocket groove sections. I'm not usually one of those guys who rants and raves about 'musicianship' and all that bullshit, but I am genuinely excited to hear if their drummer can pull this stuff off live.

Side B draws to an end with a couple of tracks that weren't included on the free digi download: 'Grind Emergency' and 'Grind On Impulse'. These tracks are ferocious enough to warrant the purchase of the actual record alone. Another adjective that springs to mind for the closing moments of the album is blistering. I feel like my ears need some time off after only 20 minutes of this.

Shame they won't get it. Bring on tomorrow night!

Buy Wormrot music and merch from Earache!
EU store: http://earache.com/webstore/index.php/cPath/667_674_750?osCsid=gpkaf7s2d3edgejdarup07gho0

US store: http://earache.com/uswebstore/index.php/cPath/667_674_733?osCsid=a954l8ocs9fkkqb9dvfrfi28s4

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Feast Of Tentacles

So I recently came into a fair bit of spare money, and I seem physically unable to restrain myself from spend every last spare penny on records. So with a fair wad of cash sitting there in my Paypal account, beckoning me to make some international distro dudes that little bit richer, I set off on a mission to check out some new music. First stop was the excellent Feast Of Tentacles distro, run out of... well, somewhere in the UK anyway. The guy was very patient with me as I kept revising my order, upping quantities of some records, so yeah, all the respect in the world to that guy for putting up with me.


I eventually settled on a selection of 7"s, a few by bands I was eager to finally check out, a few by bands who I just liked the descriptions of, and a couple of records for someone else that I'm gonna review anyways.



First up was my highly-anticipated first ever spin of anything by Ravens Creed.
Incase you don't know, Ravens Creed originally featured big Ben Ward from UK doom legends Orange Goblin on vocals, as well as Steve Watson on guitar, who used to play in one of my all-time favourite band of filth merchants, Iron Monkey.
So with that kind of pedigree, hopes were high. I knew this band was formed as an outlet for some serious proto-black metal worship, but I really didn't know how well it would work with players coming from a sludge/doom background.

Side A.
This opens up with a bizarre, creepy, almost robotic-sounding sample, fuck knows what it's from, but it kinda jars me on first hearing it. The black metallic riffage is SO obvious, and it's backed up with the simplest battering of a drumkit that I've ever heard. Yet this record is pretty well produced, it has a good warm tone, it never makes an attempt to be all cool and lo-fi, which I like (sorry Fenriz, sometimes a guy just needs some production value!).
There are some ridiculous double-kick drums, which actually cause a burst of laughter. I fucking hate that shit, with the exception of the break in Angel of Death.
After those are over, they switch up into a much more chugging riff, less black metal, more primitive caveman battering. There are no vocals the entire time, and I'm beginning to think they'll never kick in. I want to hear Ward's ROAR already!

I'm right, this track is without vocals the whole way through, I go into Side B a little crestfallen...
But it doesn't disappoint! Opening up with this dry, decaying, hoarse rasp of a riff backed by yet more fastasfuck hellbeat, it can't be more than 10 seconds before Big Ben announces his prescence. He rips into a snarled, throat-shredding verse, making the band sound like Venom fronted by an even more irate Lemmy. This, obviously, rules.

I wish they hadn't parted ways with Ben Ward, because he's one of the best frontmen I've seen play, and I wish I'd had the chance to have seen this band play with him, hearing him command a whole other type of crowd.
Great record!


Next is more Ravens Creed, this time their split with Sollubi, who I know nothing about. Guess I'll find out, huh?
But before that, I have a craving for more hellbeat. The Creed side of this split doesn't disappoint, at least initially. Then there's another of those ridiculous doublekick segments that pisses me off. But after that it's into a tech-y (by their standards) riff and some more growls, which restores my faith.

A hilariously Northern sample seperates the tracks, then it's straight into another ripper, 'Hearse Fokker'. Not much new to say except more tremolo riffing, more snare abuse, more gargled-glass vocals. Good stuff!

The Sollubi side is up next, and I have no expectations whatsoever.
Their single track opens with a dirty-ass sludge riff, like something left on Dixie Dave's cutting room floor. Goddamn, this bass tone alone has made me an instant fan! The vocals kick in eventually, and I'm not sure WHAT to think. They're all over the place. This guy seems to be singing over a different track than the rest of the band are playing. The vocals suck.
Uh oh, here are some guitar histrionics to make things even worse. Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of a well-played, short, concise solo, but none of this wah-soaked show-off-y bullshit, played over the WHOLE track. I spend my whole weekdays with the local classic rock station blasting out of the factory, if I hear another wailing guitar solo I'm going to fucking kill myself.

It ends, eventually, and I know that from now on I'll only play the first minute of this track. Sorry Sollubi.


Next play is the Night Owls 7".
This was one of the records I bought because of the sole reason I liked their name. I'm something of an owl fanatic.
I initially started this on 45rpm, and it plasted out this spazzy, hyperactive punk, with a high-pitched squealing vocal. I checked the liner notes to make sure none of the members were a sugar-injected 10 year old girl, then decided it was probably best played at 33...
Switching to the correct speed changed things dramatically. Night Owls play that average garage rock revival stuff that would have made them HUGE around 2001. I don't know how recent a band they are, or anything about them really. They remind of bands like The Catheters, nothing new, but played with honest intention because thats what they want to hear. Can't fault 'em for that I guess, it's just not really my bag.


Oak & Bone / Like Wolves split 7"
I bought this one because I dug the name Oak & Bone, it sounded earthy and natural, yet I had absolutely no idea what sort of music they made. I'll go for their side first.
First track 'Dirt' sounds to my ears like that hardcore-with-decent-riffs stuff popularised by bands like Every Time I Die. Not that that's a bad thing especially, I don't mind a good, catchy 'core song once in a while, it's just that it's been done to death.
But somehow these guys pull it off, it sounds... fresh. They write some catchy riffs, and the songs have a good, not-too-clean production that shows these guys can really fucking play. I don't know where they're from, but I'd definitely have a blast at one of their gigs.

Like Wolves' side starts out with a jangling, clanky sounding loose-stringed riff, and I'm hopeful they play some sort of bizarre Jesus Lizard-y noise mess. Hopes are immediately dashed by the vocals. They have that usual high-range teenage yelp quality to them, which in 10 years time might mature into some genuinely foul crusty rasp. Their vocalist can look me up in 2021 with his new band, until then, I have to shut this off. Their second track on this directly rips off a Bronx riff too. Badly.
Generic modern hardcore at it's worst. Shouty bollocks, as my non-heavy music friends would call it.


Doldrums' 'Nowhere Existence EP' is next.
I'd never heard of this band before, but the F.O.T. site described them as down-tuned crusty sludge, which sounds right up my alley! The 'Dog Side' of the 7" starts off with some nice heavy powerviolence, plenty of sub-atomic bass riffs and blast beats. Going into the second track, there's a weird jagged staccato riff to start us off, then it descends into alternatively shouting and growling dual vocals. It reminds me, of all things, of Raging Speedhorn. And that's not a slate on them, I absolutely love Speedhorn. The music is entirely different though. It goes from slow plodding sections, to painfully thrashy blasted sections, to near-melodic tremolo riffs. Pretty well-played powerviolence-y crusty goodness.


PYS (Pick Your Side) - Survival Prayer
This band features Jeff Beckman (Haymaker/ex-Left For Dead) on vocals, and unholy fucking christ are they weird. The liner notes use the phrase 'Lo-Fi Pseudo Thrash' but it's SO lo-fi I can barely tell what the fuck the actual music sounds like. The vocals dominate the mix. It sounds like a trained bear with a sore throat attempting to talk to aliens. I try in vain to read along with his lyric sheet, which features the usual anarcho-rants, but the two are impossible to connect.
What else can I say... oh, there's also a Crucifucks cover. Not that you'd be able to tell unless you read it in the liner.

"There comes a point where you have delved so deeply into punk subcultures you are just listening to shitty music." - I read this somewhere recently.


Last, but most definitely not least is this little beaut: the Moloch/Rot In Hell split 7"
I don't give a fuck about Holy Terror hardcore, that stuff is so ridiculous I can't believe anyone takes it seriously. So I won't even be listening to Rot In Hell's side. Fuck you, fight me about it.

The reason I wanted this split was obviously to hear more from the almighty Moloch. I'd heard their 'Tears That Soak A Callous Heart' cassette that they released in conjection with Thou, and they play some of the foulest sludge I've ever heard out of a UK band. They played near me recently and for SOME FUCKING INSANE REASON I MISSED IT! Dear Moloch, please get in a van and haul yourselves back to the Great Grey North. Cheers.

Anyway, their contribution 'Sibillia' is another vast slab of oppressive, revolting cacophony. It's pretty thinly produced, but I can look past that because the song is still there beneath the murk. I can't really describe it in too much detail. It's slow-as-fuck and horrible sludge, and if that sounds good to you, go make the awesome Feast Of Tentacles guy(s) a little richer and pick it up!

http://feastoftentacles.blogspot.com/

Wolvserpent - Blood Seed

I'd been dithering over whether or not to purchase this record for close to a year. I hadn't actually heard a single note of this band's music before I kinda fell in love with them through their amazing tour diaries over at Invisible Oranges [ http://www.invisibleoranges.com/2010/10/wolvserpent-us-tour-diary-pt-1/ ], they inspired some pretty serious wanderlust in me, so I was pretty interested in them as people rather than as a band.
I delved a little deeper, finding a stream of their, at the time, unreleased album Blood Seed over at the 20 Buck Spin site. My listening environment for this album wasn't exactly ideal, I was playing it on my lunch break at work, the music barely audible over the incessant drone of co-worker phonecalls. But what I heard made me able to tune everything else out immediately. I was hooked.

So for some reason, it still took me almost a year to actually splash some cash on the LP, but damn am I glad I did!


I am a tiiiny bit disappointed that this isn't a gatefold sleeve, only because the design is so well executed that I wish there was more of it. The sleeve has this not-too-glossy finish to it, an ideal showcase for the black abyss surrounding the blood and bone ritualistic cover photo.
The insert is also great, but is stylistically very different. It's an old tintype photograph depicting a river as a hive of activity, steamboats, rowing boats, cavernous mountains... it's kind of eerie.
It just so happens that in this case, the album artwork PERFECTLY compliments the music.

Side A - Wolv
The music slowly filters in, an exercise in ambience, mood-setting, whatever you want to call it. Staring at that tintype photograph as you hear the haunting strains of a violin played against a windy backdrop is... pretty damn fun. If your idea of fun is being creeped the fuck out and indulging in some amateur ativism, picturing yourself within the photo. Goddamn I'm a pretentious prick sometimes. Fight me about it.

A guitar winds it's way in on top of the violin, really clean, semi-acoustic tones. It's got almost a banjo-y twang to it. Again, it doesn't seem out of place against the 'setting' of this record.
I know I said I wouldn't be doing band X + Y comparisons when talking about music, but I really can't avoid this one. It sounds like a less-opressive Earth, particularly their latest stuff, like The Bees Made Honey In The Lions Skull. Though this somehow seems lighter. Sparse. The notes come faster, with more of a recognisable melody, but they have room to breathe? The whole time the violin wails on.

About halfway into the song (oh, I may have forgotten to mention each side of the record is a single track) the amplified guitar makes it's presence known with this sudden screech, and begins a cycle into a groaning, lumbering riff. Without any fanfare, like I only just noticed them, a choral wail has begun in the background.
I realise how ridiculously pretentious I'm making all of this sound, but this really is music to lose yourself in.
It really has this amazing soundtrack-ish quality to it, a real soundscape. I can imagine this being played live over a backdrop of an old silent horror movie.
The riff dooms on, cymbals crash and that despairing choir moans itself towards the end of that side. The riff cycle ends, and it descends into shimmering feedback. I'd be super-interested in seeing how they pull this music off live, seeing as there are only two members in the band.

photograph used without permission from wolvserpent.com

Side B - Serpent
Immediately this track launches back into the haunting choral sound and groaning guitar ambience from side A.
As much as I love the ritual of flipping vinyl, I would love to hear this record as one continuous track, without interruption.
The drone/moan continues up until around one-third of the way through the record when another amplified riff shakes away any audio inertia. This one has much more of a crunch, a kick, and for the first time this feels like something approaching traditional doom. It interjects little... atonal squeals, I think people who know anything about music call them pinched harmonics? Fuck knows, I'm the furthest thing from a musician.

I might not know much about music, but I know what I like, and that is being surprised by music. The riff morphs in an instant to this Pike-esque rumble, this juggernaut (Supernaut?) sound, accompanied by big, splashy cymbals and the continuous tortured screams.
I'm not much of a black metal fan, but sometimes I can understand the feeling people get from those initial recordings, the sense of dread, of coldness. The low drone and high shriek of the vocals on this side give me that feeling. My spine is officially chilled.
The riff continues on, in a pocket all of it's own, the drums locking in with it in their own way.

By the time the album ends, I feel like I've actually... experienced something. I play both sides through again, lost in that photo...

Purchase the LP direct from the band, as it seems it is no longer available on the 20 Buck Spin site?
http://wolvserpent.com
http://wolvserpent.blogspot.com/

And check out 20 Buck Spin while you're at it anyway, they have some great stuff kicking around there
http://www.20buckspin.com/store