Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. And if you're outside of the USA I, as an ambassador of goodwill and festive spirits, I extend my hand to you to partake in our hypocritical but fun holiday.

Turkey, of course being the centerpiece of Thanksgiving, might ostracize those who are limpwristed enough to avoid meat, but regardless of those said limpwristed individuals they make some damn good music.

So I give thanks to these bands, as silly as your vegan/vegetarian view might be, I love your music.

(No time to upload my own rips, as well as my parent's connection is quite shitty, so thanks to whomever I've taken these links from...)

Disrupt-Unrest (Thanks 206)
Excellent album, it's Disrupt, need i say more? If i do, I'll just say excellent pissed off and HEAVY crust, awesome male/female vocals.

Extreme Noise Terror- Law of Retaliation
Still more grounded in modern production and leanings towards death metal, but a much larger hint of their old school sound, so it's a nice change of pace from Being and Nothing.

Their final album, awesome shit. Now and Forever is one of the best Dystopia songs ever. A lot of filler with this release, but whatever.

Nausea- Punk Terrorist Anthology Vol. 2
It's Nausea...duh.

Attack of the Mad Axeman- Scumdogs of the Forest
206's review's spot on, heavy grinding madness from Germany all in the name of animal rights (the right to be delicious I say). Fun(ny) band.

Aus Rotten- The Rotten Agenda
Everyone whose anyone know who Aus Rotten are, and if you don't you do now. Awesome midpaced hardcore/crust. Vehement and great lyrics propel one of punk's most important albums.

Most Precious Blood- Nothing in Vain
One of the few bands from Trustkill that's actually good, Nothing In Vain was a favorite of mine in high school. Excellent and melodic hardcore in the American vain such as old Hatebreed and the like. Some of these guys were in the ill-fated Cannius, a supergroup of dogs and members of MPB. All bark and no bite...


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Playing the waiting game

Two years ago Power-It-Up announced a Nasum Tribute. I love tribute albums. One reason is that contributing bands tend to use their own sound and approach to the songs they cover. Another is that these compilations invariable contain a few bands I have either never heard or completely forgotten about. So tributes are a great way to rekindle interest in older bands while sparking interest in the new breed. And seriously, how can you fuck up a Nasum song? Seriously. Flash forward to last September, two years and five updates later, we get word that it's a double CD and the release date is November 2k9. Yet here we are, with seven days left in the month - and nothing is for sale. But the promos have been shipped out, and know what that means: it's out there, right now, in some lucky fuck's CD player. That also means you can download it. Sure enough, a quick search yields torrents and download links a plenty. But the point is that here we are, us Nasum fans yearning for a fix, playing the waiting game... Dear Power-It-Up, my credit card is standing by.

For the past six months, at least, on Inhume's Myspace page there is a message that makes every fan take notice: New Inhume Album in 2009 on War Anthem Records. Checking the War Anthem web page gives additional information: the new album is due in November 2k9. This is starting to sound familiar, isn't it? Well, here we are, with a week to go and there's only an cover and a few songs to drool over. I was not much for the early Inhume records. Brutal Death Featuring Blast Beats is not my style. But Chaos Dissection Order is the business. Here they not only incorporated proper grind but showed an understanding of the genre. Add to this that the split with Mumakil showed every indication that they are continuing down this path and you have my full attention. So where is it? Even an update along the lines of "be patient" makes the waiting game much easier than silence. Dear War Anthem records, my credit card is standing by.

In other news, Rotten Sound just signed with Relapse and will release an EP in March '10. This might be a good move for them. Already being established, they should be able to hit the studio and do things their way.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thou - Kingdoms

Official Site
Label: Peasant Magik
Released: 2009
Release Type: 3 cassettes lmt. 300
Genre: Sludge

My excitement aside, this release offers a handful for collectors, enthusiasts, and even the casual listener. Packaged inside a small jet black box (roughly 4x4x4in.) you get three cassettes, each with a thick plastic like paper covered with beautiful grey/black artwork, a pin, a sticker, a patch, a vial of pine needles/cones, a small booklet with lyrics and pictures all on a bed of moss; quite the package, no?

The music contained in this beautiful little package is all of Thou's work from 2007-2008, not including their first two demos. You get two full lengths (Tyrant & Peasant), The Retaliation of the Immutable Force of Nature EP, To Carry a Stone EP ,We Pass Like Night, From Land to Land(split with Leech), Thrive & Decay (split with Black September), and Malfeasance-Retribution EP. There's a lot to take in, but it's all excellent. You can really appreciate a band when they don't have a single bad song.

Having heard most of this stuff on vinyl/mp3 I can say it sounds excellent here. I heard the Peasant album in my friend's car in mp3 format and we both commented how overproduced and weak it sounded, not here; the tape sounds excellent and carries that filthy heavy sludge sound that's damn near perfect.

So as far as the music's concerned I'll break it down by singular release.

Being the first release I heard by Thou I was an instant fan. Songs like "Tyrant" and "Fucking Chained to the Bottom of the Ocean" are stellar highlights (listen to that buildup around 6minutes in "Tyrant" holy hell that's awesome). With the previously mentioned songs we see vibrant sludge mixed with beautiful post metal sections (soaring guitars, build ups, huge sound). The more Eyehategod like sections are excellent mid-paced crashes of heavy riffs and monstrous drums all accompanied by venomously powerful vocals. In terms of the vocals, they sound much more like black metal vocals than anything else, yet they're still decipherable. Thou excel at what they do because they seemingly manage to mix that ugly, filthy, drug ridden vibe that we associate with sludge and mix it with the celestial sound that comes to mind with bands like Pelican and Caspian. Easily one of the best sludge releases I've ever heard.

Thrive & Decay
An excellent release in it's own right, as Black September plays an awesome brand of death metal akin to older Bolt Thrower, but here it's just Thou (as with the other split material included). The song from this release has a great movie clip at the beginning and the song carries out in a similar violent manner. Much more like Eyehategod (I hate to keep comparing, but it's true). Awesome song title as well, "Smoke Pigs."

We Pass Like Night, From Land to Land
Four Songs here, previously from the split with Leech. Things start softly with a calming acoustic intro which leads to the spacey and serene "Here I Stand, Head In Hand" which explodes into a brilliant cascade of emotive force, embodying itself in thick walls of distortion ravenous vocals and seeping bass. A much more atmospheric a offering from Thou. Much like the first track, "The Defeatist's Lament" ends with waves of distortion and clean guitars, as well as those ethereal female vocals present on "Here I Stand..." A very "whole" feeling ep, more like a mini album.

The two songs from the ep are phenomenal as we'd expect. Here they're sandwiched in between the Black September split and the Leech split. You gotta love the song titles, "The Severed Genitals of Every Rapist Hang Bleeding From These Trees" (although on the actual ep it's "bleeding genitals..." I don't know if this is a typo on Peasant Magik's part or not). Powerful and driving, both songs are full of rich textures and drift from pounding sludge, to rhythmic changes, to harrowing atmospheric passages. A bit more sludgy, but brilliant nonetheless.

To Carry a Stone

More of the same; first "They Stretch Out Their Hands" carries on a midpaced sludge affair until it breaks down to a harrowing slow section which it never seems to dig itself out of. "The Road of Many Names" begins with the ominous feedback we're all used to and dives in with a super thick and artillery heavy riff. The little haunting clean riff around the end really works well and is quite creepy. All in all I'd have to say this is thou's weakest work, but that's like saying "The Return" isn't as good "Under the Sign;" we're all winners.

"The Work Ethic Myth" kicks things off perfectly, as it's one of the best tracks on the album and depicts Thou's sound perfectly. Peasant, an album which I'm not as well versed with as Tyrant, is still magnificent but doesn't hold the same place that Tyrant does for me. Sections like 5:10 into "Belt Of fire To Guide Me Cloak Of Night To Hide Me" and the first real riff of "Burning Black Coals And Dark Memories" are great and make up the weight of quality for this album. Not as strong as Tyrant, but remarkable nonetheless.

The Retaliation of the Immutable Force of Nature
Two songs again here. "What Blood Still Runs Through These Veins" crawls at a snail's pace yet carries a hippo's weight. The sound is giagantic and the guitars are as thicker than any football linebacker you can think of. They achieve a huge sound here and juxtapose the sludgy thickness with beautiful leads and powerful riffs. The track peters out to distortion and leads way to "Acceptance" which is one of my favorite songs. It's a post metal instrumental done better than any post metal band. The beautiful guitars weave back and forth in between lapses of reverb and accompanying drums. It all builds to a monumental crescendo with some of the most enthralling guitarwork I've ever heard around the six minute mark which luckily continues until around ten minutes. The progression and delivery is simply breath taking and proves that Thou are an exceptional band.

Beyond the excellent music, Thou create wonderful lyrics and have an absolutely magnificent image in their artwork and merchandise. Little epigraphs here and there on various releases depict a well read and versed band, as well as establish the morose atmosphere of the band. With all the releases I own of the band, each one was well worth the money as they all come with something special and have great artwork, Kingdoms is no different. The quote on the first page of the booklet,

"She used the ancient, long-forgotten "thou"- the "thou" of the master to the slave. It entered into me slowly, sharply. Yes, I was a slave, and this, too, was necessary, was good."

Taken from Yevgeny Zamyatin's book We is a powerful epigraph to this impressive body of work. The boxset is only $20 and well worth it; I'm a very happy camper with this one. Go to Thou's webpage and you can listen to every song of theirs i think.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Joe Pesci - At Our Expense

Joe Pesci MySpace
Release: 2009
Type: CD
Label: Bones Brigade

I'm like a 3-way split when it comes to bands named after thespians. One part of me doesn't care, another doesn't get the appeal and the third is waiting for an all-female band called Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. In the end it's all about the music, right? Joe Pesci the band has nearly everything we have come to expect from the actor: short songs, a pissed off attitude and an uncompromising approach. The only difference is that any project the actor signs his name to is going to have a production and marketing budget big enough to feed Sudan until the Mayan calendar ends. Conversely "At Our Expense" sounds like it was ripped from vinyl by holding a boombox to the output speaker. Like all poorly produced albums though you can increase your chances or enjoyment by turning it up a notch or three.

Just don't crank it up too loudly because, ironically, the few samples this album contains are actually mastered properly, i.e. twice as loud as the music - so you'll blow your ears if one of those pop up unexpectedly. That is really the only downer. Your ears adjust to the production just in time for a sample to fuck up your equilibrium and you have to adjust all over again. But let you be warned: any one who passes on this because it sounds like it was recorded in a caravan is a pretentious bastard.

The band serves up 17 helpings which is a solid number in most necks of the wood. Since the band's motto is Play Fast Or Don't, it should come as no surprise that this one is over mere seconds after the run time hits 15 minutes. It's quite a ride though. As the play list breezes by you get the impression that Joe Pesci could easily play any brand of extreme metal. They play throw-away slam riffs at light speed, crust at ridiculous speed and just to prove they have more than a cuisinart in the engine room, they twist out crossover riffs at ludicrous speed. The better riffs are of course subjective. For my cup of tea take for example the Assuck meets Discoradance Axis riffs in Sticking My Carbon Footprint Up Your Arse and at the end of Funkhouser. Or the wicked death metal riff that appears out of nowhere in the middle of Mindless Zombified Fucks. Not to be outdone, you can have both of those examples in one compact, 51-second helping that is Hyper-Real.

But don't stop there. Call it Fastcore. Call it Powerviolence. Call it as you see it. The whole point of At Our Expense is speed and attitude. Your best bet is to make full use of the 'repeat' button on your media device and go along for the ride. Check Joe Pesci out here, go buy it here or here, and then tell your friends about them while you wait.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Desolate One Interview

After checking out Desolate One's demo (you can read the review for the album here) the idea was sprung for an interview, which works out greatly because I've been listening to Conqueror and Teitanblood nonstop for the past week and am in the mood for more Desolate One. Checking in with us is Desolate One's crux, Nuclear Tormentor, as he handles all instruments and song writing.

-Can you give us a brief history of Desolate One? What got you guys to start making music? Is there anything beyond music that inspires you?

NT:Desolate One was formed (not so much formed as a concept that I started on my own) in 2008. I started making this kind of music because I was fascinated with the fire-spitting sound that is in black metal. Countless hours of listening to classic records made me want to give it a shot. Beyond music, I am inspired by ancient times, the future, occultism, death fascination, and the apocalypse.

-I know you're looking to expand your lineup, how is that going?

NT:Not very well. My area has next to nobody interested in extreme metal. There are a few people who can play and would like to be in Desolate One, just because they are bored. But I would only like to play with people who truly appreciate this music.

-The new tracks sound great, much more chaotic and heavier, can we expect more in this vein and less hardcore/thrash infused stuff like we saw on the S/T? The bass is noticable too, I think that really helps.

:Definitely. I think the first demo was a confused recording, though it was great for what it was. I really like the opening instrumental, and a few others like War to the Core (I'd like to redo Possessor's vocals, though). The new demo, "Desecrate the Night", is more of an exploration with the chaotic and crushing sound. I try to make the riffs collide into one another.

-As a band new to the public eye, what have you found most difficult? Do you have any goals in mind as to what you would like to do with Desolate One?

:Nothing's been really difficult. I'm not even sure we are in the public eye. Goals? I just hope to make a decent full-length album soon.

-What is the songwriting and recording process like?

:I write the songs on guitar. I then record the drums first all the way through while reciting all of the rhythm changes in my head. After that, I record guitar and bass. It's usually months before I actually get our vocalist in and finish the tracks.

-The influences are obvious, so I'll skip that, but what current bands are you listening to now?

:Newer releases that are actually decent? Well, I like Revenge, Proclamation, Morbosidad, Teitanblood, bands like that. Been listening to the newest Kraftwerk live album a lot. Beherit's Engram, Profanatica's Profanatitas De Domonatia, the new Pagan Altar albums, and Slayer's World Painted Blood are all great as well, but I still prefer the older material.

-How important is production for a band's release to you?

NT:Production does matter slightly, it demonstrates how the band wants the music to be heard (obviously). Though, production should always take a backseat to composition.

-What's your view on the current USBM scene?
NT:I'm not in contact with very many Californian black metal bands. I have no interest in them.

- Fallen Angel of Doom, INRI, The Oath of Black Blood, Angelcunt, The Return, or In The Sign Of Evil? Why?

:Toughest question yet. All of them are great in their own way. Angelcunt is probably my least favorite of the list, but is still a violent classic. The Return and In the Sign of Evil paved the way for extreme music. Probably a tie between INRI, The Return, and Fallen Angel of Doom for that indescribable esoteric aura that surrounds them.

-Any last words?

NT:Pre-order the Desecrate the Night tape, to be released in December on Darkness Shade Records. Fifty copies will be distributed through Darkness Shade with the cemetery fornication cover, the other fifty will be distributed through Thorn Laceration with a different cover. Support weapons, war, and black metal. Embrace the end times.

Both demos, as well as other goodies (check out those awesome Maniac Butcher rereleases) are available at Darkness Shade Records.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sylvester Staline - split with FUBAR

Sylvester Staline MySpace
Release: 2009
Type: CD
Label: Bones Brigade

("We smoke this marijuana in your honor, Satan.")

This next band the Chainsaw Justice crew offers for your listening enjoyment comes to you with the 206-grind Stamp Of Approval. The great thing about them is that who they are depends more on your opinion of the genre than on my review. The long version: They Grind too much to be considered Powerviolence and they are far too Punk to be considered Grind. The short version: they are Stoner Punk Grind. Ladies and gentlemen, it is both my extreme pleasure and distinguished honour to present to you: Sylvester Staline. If you like punk, second-wave powerviolence, weed and a healthy slathering of blastbeats then look no further. If you don't then you can leave.

Right. For the adventurous who remained, you are going to love this band. Of the many things I dig about this EP, what stands out the most is the impression that it was all recorded in one take. You know what I'm talking about: an almost-live production, organic drums and a steady dose of feedback. Feedback rings in the EP, it fills the gap between songs and chimes in each channel when ever a guitar pauses. Through its sonic mesh the drummer clicks his sticks four times and another song is born. Of course, there is only one guitarist, so there were at least two sessions required to get the stereo effect. But all the songs "feel" like they were captured live, like the band packed themselves into the same room, pressed "record" and let it rip. Just based on hearing this EP I can safely assume they kick major ass live. All they need is a modicum of stage presence - the songs will do the rest.

The vocals are ejaculated rapidly in that monosyllabic powerviolence style. Think early Magrudergrind meets ManMadePredator era Leng Tch'e. So far as lyrics go, don't worry about the fact that you can only understand four words. Here is a basic primer: smoke weed, and if you don't smoke weed, fuck you. Take "Get Revolutionary" as an example:
Politicians are twats, they don't smoke weed
Police is shit, they don't smoke weed
Get revolutionary, smoke weed.

The riffs follow suit, either keeping pace with the lyrical presentation or taking the two-step approach, covering the full gamut from classic punk licks on to proper grind and all the way to fastcore. The whole set list, from front to back, is focused and energetic. It's music more commonly associated with skating, running from cops after tagging a billboard or trashing a house during a kegger. But for Sylvester Staline, it's the perfect backdrop for a bong session. Yet sadly, it's just an EP. The track list breezes by. There are stand out moments, like the beginning of "Through the Eyes of Weed," the crossover riffing of "Problems in Life," the grinding fury of "Legalize It" and the metallic crust in "Get Revolutionary." These moments are not entirely enough though. For best results I recommend listening to the EP straight through. Repeatedly.

And when you've had your fill of Sylvester Staline, let the disk spin on to track 18. Here begins FUBAR, who offer a nice contrast of style and approach - which is the whole point of splits if you haven't figured out already. Their production is a little murkier but that is essential: they have to make room for three vocal styles and a graduate of the G.C. Green School Of Bass. In 12 songs they cover all the angles of the genre, from classic punk minimalism in "Crawling" to the head-on collision of hardcore and crust in "Not Even You." The staple is loads of deep, distorted, almost out of place but fittingly just right bass. When they want to, FUBAR is as intense as anyone. But they pick and choose their moments, opting to focus their songs around the vocals. In this sense they have an old school approach to song writing. Not verse-chorus-verse but patient. I like it. FUBAR is the type of band who could open for Abscess and if the scene kids were not paying attention they would think Abscess came back and played an encore set.

I enjoyed both bands. They play the same type of music in two distinctly different ways which makes questions of who "won" the split rather meaningless. It's an apples to oranges discussion, like arguing between Exploited and Black Flag. Sure, someone is going to do it, but you know they love both bands and just want to play devil's advocate. You are formally invited to check it out. You are then strongly encouraged to buy it. I've had only good experiences with Bones Brigade. Great people.

Desolate One-Deoslate One

Released: 2009
Release Type:Demo. Cassette, lmt. 100.
Label:Darkness Shade Records
Genre: Black/Thrash

Right off the bat you should have some clue as to what Desolate One's up to. The name, I'm pretty certain, is an homage to Blasphemy, and songs like "Black Noise Devastation" and "War to the Core" show this black/war metal affinity. Along with the hand crafted imagery and the format of champions you know you're in for a treat.

Luckily, Desolate One strays from the Blasphemy syndrome ("Fallen Angle of Doom was awesome, let's just try to remake that, right guys!?"). The drums are crisp and organic sounding, right up front. It helps to that the drummer is top-notch. The production reeks of a demo, but that's not really a complaint being that it is a demo afterall. The guitars are crunchy and heavy, yet thin enough to stray from the buzzy affair of Blasphemy and Conqueror. The vocals are raspy, throaty black metal vocals, and thankfully not reverberate deep bellows.

So enough comparisons, how does the music sound? It fucking kicks ass. The first track is a little instrumental ditty that jumps from d-beats, to thrash breaks, to blast beats and whatever else you could think of. Think of it as a sampler for the band. And even a crazy fast-paced thrashy solo. I love it already. The speed up part around the end of "Black Noise Devastation" is fucking awesome as well as the main riff of "War to the Core." The honesty in the music is hard to miss and that's a big plus for me.

There are plenty of riffs to make you thrashtards happy as well as breaks and rhythm shifts to keep the pit alive. The music is a bomb of energy and you're about to be blown up. This recaptures the flame of old school black metal perfectly yet adds a nice thrashy twist to break up all those blast beats.

Be on the look out for this Californian act, as they've hit the nail on the head with this one.

Buy here.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Squash Bowels - Grindvirus

Squash Bowels MySpace
Release: 2009
Type: CD
Label: Willowtip

This is my first experience with Squash Bowels and I came away completely impressed. The thing that amazed is that the songs have virtually no death metal influence. This made no sense, seeing that number one, they were referred to me as goregrind, and number two, their tone is much closer to Inhume than Insect Warfare. Before the first song was over it seemed only natural to expect cross genre elements to invade their music. But it's not the case and I simply could not believe it. I found myself straining my ears to follow the guitars through the heaviest of blasting sections only to end up right where I started: surprised and impressed. There are some gallop riffs in a few spots but the only song with discernible double-picked riffing is "Shit Oneself" and even this is mid-paced and is only featured in the beginning. The rest is all straight up grind, crust and groove riffs topped off with brutal/slam accents. All of which I can only describe in one way: satisfying. If I had to call this anything in particular it would be Brutal Grind.

One of the great things about Grindvirus is how aggressive and energetic each song is despite the riffs being primarily slow to mid-tempo. Most songs are structured around a handful of complementary riffs, often playing verse-chorus-verse with two of them before a bridge or breakdown takes the song in a new direction. Some of the riffs are actually rather simple in their presentation. But it all comes back to their tone. That deep death metal tone adds an extra layer of punch and crunch that makes even the most straightforward riff crackle with energy. It's truly a great reminder that brutality does not always equate to being faster than the next guy.

But the cornerstone of this album is the drumming from Marius. The drumming ties this album together beautifully. Eschewing convention, Grindvirus offers beats and rhythms that are tailored to the music instead of playing what is only specific to the genre. Where many bands would stomp with a half time polka over their groove sections, Marius throws in syncopated breaks with quick kick flourishes - all while maintaining 8th note hats (see "Oust - Odour Eliminator" and "Hamsters In Your Head"). He has lightning quick fills, abuses all his cymbals and can sustain high speed blasts long enough to land a spot Jon Chang's watch list. But to top it all off the man is precise like a metronome.

Some other songs to check out include "D.I." which is available on their MySpace and also on the Willowtip site. This might as well be an instrumental. The vocals consist of some growls tossed in at transition points and a low-end squeel which is nothing more than an extra instrument in the mix. It's also got the most double bass. Great tune. Also check out "Abhorrently Stinking Rich Man" for a good example of how great drumming can make minimalist riffing sound awesome.

You can buy it here. Willowtip still shows it as Pre-Order but it's released, so ignore that. While you are waiting for it to arrive go ahead and give it a listen or twelve here. If for some reason this doesn't do it for you, leave us a comment because we'd like to hear why.

Monday, November 2, 2009

DödsÄngel- Helgrind

Official Myspace
Release Type: Demo CD
Label: Self Released
Genre: Crust/Black Metal

Black metal infused with d-beat and crust, how can i lose? While it's nothing too new of a concept, and logically makes sense, DödsÄngel pulls it off exceedingly well. Interestingly, it's a new take on the solo black metal band. Carried out by Trish, who has played with Maniac (of Mayhem fame) in Skitliv, and has drummed live for other bands (Nattefrost), it is interesting to see her on her own.

I really like this demo, some songs are more of one genre then the other, but in the end they're well mixed. The production is completely black metal, sounding much like Darkthrone's Under A Funeral Moon, except the vocals seem to be unadulterated. The cymbal crashes come through in a vibrant manner and the guitars buzz along; bass hums along in the back playing root notes and the vocals stand in front. The vocals are a strained throaty screech which come off pretty decipherable and more crusty like.

The song writing incorporates d-beat power chord affairs to blast beat tremolo shifts and the typical juxtapositions of the said genres. Songs like "Wolven Hatred" depict much more Skitsystem sounding structure where as "The Middle Of The Night" is straight up black metal. The vibe of the demo is great and everything sounds as it should. I'm easily impressed when black metal meats crust, but this demo is excellent. Songs are catchy when they should be, other ones are powerful and carry lots of momentum.

Immediately I was excited seeing what bands she cites as influences: Wolfpack, Skitsystem, Martyrdod and Driller Killer to Horna, Darkthrone, Arckanum, Armagedda, and others; pretty accurate. I'd be surprised if the following material isn't stellar, as this demo is very solid.

Overall very good demo, worth the four bucks. Buy it here