Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2009 Grindcore Top 10

With the number of yearly metal releases continuing to stay above 10,000 the "Top 10 Albums" list is increasingly attaining the unspoken addendum, "...That I've Heard." No one can listen to it all. For my part I've listened to over 160 grind albums this year, along with 28 EPs and 51 seven-inch splits. Yet still, when averaged against the full volume of available yearly material, I barely scratched the surface. At the same time, I'm still discovering quality bands and albums from a few years ago. That said, it's been a great year. Many newer bands are returning to the genre's roots. Add the advances in production and musicianship and it is easy to see many good things and solid returns on the grind horizon.

So here it is, my "Top 10 Grindcore Albums of 2009... That I've Heard." And honestly, I think albums 11-30 are just as viable, just as worthy of consideration. I knew right from the start that I couldn't please everyone, and since I don't have to, I didn't try. Still, you are encouraged to rip into these picks with the rapacity of a slighted sports fan. And if anyone is feeling constructive, then by all means, post a list of your own.

#10 - Weekend Nachos - Unforgivable
Label: Relapse
Buy here

More hardcore than grindcore, less powerviolence than anticipated, Unforgivable probably doesn't even belong on this list. It's major redeeming quality is how heavy this album is. Not "heavy" in some Lip Service To The Genre type of way, but truly, neutron star Heavy. From front to back the riffs on Unforgivable serve the title justice.

#9 - Parlamentarisk Sodomi - De Anarkistiske An(n)aler
Label: 625 Thrashcore
Buy: Sold out. Pester 625 for another printing.

Quite simply the best one-man grindcore band that ever was, PxSx encapsulate everything about the genre: lyrics dripping with unadulterated political fury, riffs covering every possible tangent between crust and thrash, and equally important, an approach so full of hate that you almost feel the same way about Norway that he does - even if you've never been there. There would be more fans if the production was a little better. It takes a trained ear to hear the goodness through the static.

#8 - Hatred Surge - Deconstruct
Label: Rescued From Life Records
Buy: Mailorder from RFL, or try Google.

Strike another band off my "overdue for a full length" list. On Deconstruct Hatred Surge adds a secret ingredient to the powerviolence formula: integrity. Many will speak to the awesome vocal performances as a reason to enjoy this album. For me it's the music. The songs are constructed so well that this could have been an instrumental album and I would love it just as much. Deconstruct "feels" authentic.

#7 - Attack Of The Mad Axeman - Scumdogs Of The Forest
Label: Scrotum Jus Records
Buy here

Tree Hugging Death Grind never sounded so good. Just enough punk influence to keep the grinding raw and just enough death metal influence to keep that raw grind from sounding stale. The fusion is rather interesting - instead of trading off one riffing style for the next, they fused both styles into their riffs. Is it deathgrind 2.0 or deathgrind done right?

#6 - Squash Bowels - Grindvirus
Label: Willowtip
Buy here

I cannot get enough of this album. If it was released earlier in the year I would most likely rate it even higher. Grindvirus is as heavy as grind gets. The riffing is seriously down-tuned crust and the drumming is near perfect for the genre. Many say Squash Bowels play goregrind (which I am not buying for a second) but if that's the case then they are the Bolt Thrower of gore.

#5 - Nashgul - El Dia Despues Al Fin De La Humanidad
Label: Power-It-Up
Buy here

Nashgul play Blast Beat Punk at it's finest - and toss in the right amount of thrash riffs to give their songs a constant feel of variety. Nothing new, nothing innovative, just pure attention to classic grind details. They also add a strange twist to the genre by having their "air raid siren" at the end of the album instead of the traditional beginning. I wonder what Andrew thought of this?

#4 - Super Fun Happy Slide - The Undislodgable Nugget Scenario
Label: Bizarre Leprous Productions
Buy here

The Undislodgable Nugget Scenario sounds like the lost live recording of a grindcore super group touring in the late 80's. From their warning in the intro that "It's a Fast One" all the way through to the end, those of us who remember Reagonomics as more than a D.R.I. song should be sent adrift down memory lane. "I Can't Believe It's Not Carcass."

#3 - Afgrund - Vid Helvetets Grindar
Label: Willowtip
Buy here

Slimming down to a three piece and showing a level of musical maturity not expected from a sophomore album, Afgrund truly came to play on Vid Helvetets Grindar. No longer the second cousin once removed of Nasum and Rotten Sound, Afgrund established their own style and approach this time around. It's got a little punk to it. It's got some thrash. And it proper grinds.

#2 - Agoraphobic Nosebleed - Agorapocalypse
Label: Relapse
Buy here

I had given up on Scott Hull. Nothing he has done since 2001 blew me away. Sure, it's all good, but good can be found almost anywhere. Enter Agorapocalypse. Everything came together fittingly here. The drums sound organic, realistic, plausible. Any drummer could sit down and follow along. The riffs are as intense as Mr Hull has laid down in years. And Randall came through with his best vocal performance. It seems like all Scott had to do was waste a year of his life on a movie soundtrack that was never used.

#1 - Wormrot - Abuse
Label: Scrotum Jus Records
Buy here

I question the integrity of any grindcore fan who does not have Wormrot somewhere in their Year-End Top 10. The only viable excuse is not hearing it. The entire grindcore ethos is represented on Abuse. Punk collides with crossover at furious speeds. Social and political issues are skewered lyrically. The only modernity on the album is found in the musicianship - which is flawless from beginning to end. "Here's your Patriot Act; here's your fucking abuse of power!"

Monday, December 28, 2009

Top Albums of 2009, My Way.

So here we are, at the end of the year and what a year it's been. From the bigger names, to the obscure and almost unknown, it's been a productive year. I've compiled the ten albums I think that really stole the show. There's plenty of great eps, splits, and singles I'd love to mention, but we've limited our top tens to albums only. Big names like Magrudergrind, Hatred Surge, and Napalm Death dropped titles on us this year, so there's a lot of competition, but I've narrowed it down to the best ten album of there year. Hope you find something new, and hope the year was as good for you as it's been for me. Links provided, but as always we hope you buy the thing if you like it. Links lead to reviews and downloads contributed by Sludge Swamp, Attila and our very own staff.

10. Wormrot-Abuse
Now I know 206 won't be happy with me for this placement, but Wormrot's furious debut Abuse, showcases a modern twist on the glory days of Earache and blasts its way through 23 tracks of pure grindy goodness. Competent, excellent executed, and viciously delivered, Wormrot rock.

9. Liturgy- Renihilation
From unlikely origins, Liturgy is the creation of Hunter Hunt-Hendrix, whose primarily known for his hardcore outfit, Birthday Boyz (now Survival). While the band predates Krallice, the comparisons can't be ignored. Endless tremolo picked riffs at lightning speeds paired with a endlessly blasting drums. The music's great, and strays from the long-windedness of Krallice and finds it's strength in the crescendos and energy of buildups and simple progressions.

8. Infernal Stronghold- Godless Noise
More blackened crusty thrash from Philly's favorite. Fast thrash with the attitude of punk and the filth of black metal, Infernal Stronghold deliver black metal with a sense of fun and energy. They're a band that doesn't take themselves too seriously and understands music's about enjoyment, not about being evil. Infernally good.

7. Hatred Surge-Deconstruct
Finally a full length from these gulf coast monsters. Hatred Surge sticks with what they know, which is quite a lot, and brings crushingly heavy power violence with all the bells and whistles. Slow sludgy sections, blazing fast grind sections and an awesome punky outro all with both male and female vocals. While it's a bit short, there's no filler to be found; a must!

6. Nashgul- El Dia Despues Al Fin De La Humanidad
My new favorite Spanish band, Nashgul, encompass an overall brutal, thrashy and fun sound with their first proper LP. Thick and punky bass, varied vocals, masterful drumwork, riffs upon riffs and varied composition create my favorite grind album of the year. Songs like "La Plaga,"
Snake Plissken," and "Disintegration In A Flash Of Light" are absolute highlights and give a good example of what you're in for.

5. Ben Frost- By The Throat
My biggest and most fruitful surprise of the year, By The Throat really standouts as one of the best ambient/minimalist/electronic whatever works I've ever heard. A real curve ball for the typical Chainsaw Justice banter, but Ben Frost's seamless composition and soundscapes create as much of an eerie as well as beautiful soundtrack to a dream I've never had.

4. Arckanum - ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞ
Occult and extremely annoying to talk about (in terms of the symbols) Arckanum's latest showcases one of black metal's most consistent and best artists. Whole and clear production tagged along with excellent composure and attention grabbing riffs, vocals, and drumwork create Arckanum's best release to date. For fans of modern sounding, but wholly authentic, black metal.

3. Anaal Nathrakh- In the Constellation of the Black Widow
Returning with their best album yet, Anaal Nathrakh combine all the former elements that seemed to be scatterbrained throughout previous releases into one cohesive and brilliantly powerful album. Filthy and raw riffs coupled with moments of anthemic and powerful clean vocals and riffs help to create an exceptionally awesome paradox of an album. Not much else to say beyond that they absolutely slay here.

2. Teitanblood- Seven Chalices
The album Blasphemy wishes they could write, Seven Chalices is a harrowing and amazingly heavy black metal release which almost rivals many of the classics in the black/death metal field. Having one of the best openings to any album I've ever heard, Seven Chalices combines the super heavy and fuzzy guitar tone of Archgoat and the like with wild solos, thrashy breaks and plenty of riffs. The small interludes and beautifully bizarre packaging heighten this occult and ancient vibe that carries the album so well. Best black metal album I've heard in a bit, hands down.

1. Weekend Nachos- Unforgivable
The best marriage of misanthropy, energy, and violence I've heard in a long time, Weekend Nachos easily deliver the best album of the year. Surging hardcore paired with dismally heavy sludge like sections and plenty of mosh friendly beat downs really highlight the violence in power violence. I can't give enough praise for this album, read my review to see how i tried to put how awesome it is into words.

Here are some great albums that didn't make the cut.

Altar of Plagues- White Tomb
Katharsis- Fourth Reich
Skagos- Ast
Dimatergon- Crossroads
Kylesa- Static Tensions
Portal- Swarth
Fleshpress- Season in Sludge- Decade in Doom (I can't find this anywhere, not even an mp3... would be in the top ten if i could)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My Gift To You

I live in a fantasy world. In this world Democracy is a euphemism for State Sponsored Slavery. Capitalism is an Oligarchy Of The Rich. And the whole purpose of Free Market Economies is, as Hakim Bey so rightly put it, "the commodification of damn near everything." I call this fantasy world America, and those who live there, Americans.

For eleven months of their year, Americans are only concerned with instantly gratifying the many and varied desires their televisions impresses upon them. To this end they slave away for little green pieces of paper which they use exclusively to purchase ungodly amounts of shit they do not need. They say it gives their lives meaning, that they are these possessions they enslave themselves to obtain. But during the last month they suddenly extrovert their desires and take a tremendous interest in their friends and family - instead of spending all their money on themselves, they spend it all on their friends. This also makes them happy. They say it is all to celebrate the birth of a man who conveniently failed to practice what he preached during his moment of truth. They like it when their heroes fall from grace. It reminds them of themselves.

I think it's all bullshit, but I am unfortunately a part of this world. It is my belief that the only way out of something is through it. So until we as a collective come up with a good idea or three to distance ourselves from all this madness, I have to play along. I have to fit in, or at least pretend to. So then, with that in mind, I present my gift to you: the Magrudergrind - Shitstorm Split released on Robotic Empire Records. It contains the best work to date from both bands and features the fantastic artwork of John Baizley. This is far and away one of my favorite splits. Ever. Now if by chance you already have this, than please allow me to point something else out about the people I live with: they are insanely passive-aggressive. The proper course of action is to smile politely and say, "Thank you; it is the thought that counts," and then, after I walk away, proceed to talk with your friends about how I am the embodiment of everything you hate. It is only fair.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Comp Crazy Finale - This Comp Kills Fascists

Fascist Killers Space
Release: 2008
Type: CD/LP /7-7" Boxset
Label: Relapse / Deep Six

Timeless. Instant Classic. Oldie But Goodie. Terms of endearment proof positive not that the collective output of the music industry is a pile of coal stacked higher that Mt Everest - which it is - but that the footfalls of scouring music fans creates just enough pressure to form gems worthy of us scratching the surface for. And there is also a fourth, equally important category which happens to be the subject of this review: Iconic.

Just think about the number of bands who went from relatively unknown to releasing an acclaimed album within a year of this comp. Without looking at the track list we know Maruta signed with Willowtip and released In Narcosis. Weekend Nachos, then a powerviolence act, signed with the mighty Relapse and released the hardcore masterpiece Unforgivable. Spoonful Of Vicodin went from virtual obscurity to releasing their back catalog, a new album, and if that was not enough, found themselves touring Europe - and along the way sharing a few stages with Insect Warfare on their farewell tour. And of course ASRA, who went on to release the punishing The Way Of All Flesh before calling it a day.

And the goodness runs deeper. Grind godfathers Brutal Truth used the comp as a catalyst for their comeback album. Kill The Client, Insect Warfare and Magrudergrind make an appearance. It's essentially the Who's-Who of Extreme Metal Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, on one CD assembled by probably the only man with enough clout in the industry to pull it off: our favorite Defense Contractor, Scott Hull. Rarely has one comp served as a springboard for so many bands to launch themselves squarely into the extreme metal mainstream. But that can be said another way: rarely are so many quality bands available with new material when the right producer comes knocking. It was the perfect storm, and as luck would have it, we the fans are able to reap all the rewards on this iconic CD. Cheers, Mr. Hull. I appreciate you.

It does exactly what it says on the tin. Listen at your leisure. Own this fascist killing comp today. The packaging is top-notch: each band gets their own page on the inlay card - and the CD itself features George Bush sucking a dick swastika. And vinyl? Worth every penny, plus shipping. Cheers.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Thou/Mohoram Atta- The Degradation Of Human Life

Mohoram Atta Myspace
Thou Official Site
Release Type: 12" split lmt. 1000
Released: November 2009
Label: Halo of Flies / Feast of Tentacles
Genres: Sludge/ Hardcore

NOLA's most hardworking band Thou put out their fifth release of the year with The Degradation Of Human Life. Here we see Thou's swampy gloom coupled with Mohoram Atta (a new band for me) who does an excellent brand of His Hero is Gone/Cursed hardcore with a touch of black metal. As with all Thou releases expect only the utmost quality here. Beautiful matte jacket with more of the excellent imagery you'd expect from them along with a matching innersleeve.

Things start off with a bang as Thou surges at a midpaced punk beat. Production's pretty much the usual jig, heavily distorted guitars, thundering drums and the voracious vocals clear and audible; if anything the overall production sounds a bit thinner, while the guitars sound a bit heavier, if that makes any sense. Thou plays much more traditional sludge with this, although as noted "Don't Vote" is pretty up tempo and even has some double bass work. Competently executed and well done, Thou maintains a level of quality many bands pray for, but if there's a fault to be had it lies in the lack of variation as this release depicts Thou staying safely within the parameters of sludge and it lacks the post rock touch that has always been the icing on the cake for them. Although my complaints are pretty moot as "Shorties With MP 40's, The Personal Is The Political" jumps from slow, to sludge slow and really peaks around the end displaying a powerful and great song. There's even a Minor Threat cover (Screaming at a Wall) which is excellent and the band rightfully proclaims in the liner notes "Punk lives." As we all know, metal bands embracing punk is a favorite of mine so this was great to hear. Also, on a side note I love Thou's lyrics and beyond that I love their imagery and politics. My favorite thing has to be the Black September fold out "Speak to cops the only way they understand" and has an M16: excellent.

While Thou pours a lot out on their side, Mohoram Atta fire back with the same caliber. As mentioned earlier, Mohoram Atta's a new band to me, but they play a pretty dismal and heavy brand of melodic hardcore a'la His Hero is Gone. The tonality and the production is very reminiscent of mid 90's Norwegian black metal and creates a powerful atmosphere, something I had always wished HHIG would've done more effectively. The last track sounds like Darkthrone covering newer Envy (Jpn) and it's easily my favorite part of this split. Oppressive and dark, the track fades out and signals a powerful emotive effort from the band and makes me zone out in enjoyment. Employing blast beats, a variety of vocals (including mass shouts), sludgy to black metal like riffs throughout their sound, Mohoram Atta display a plethora of skill. Defiantly a band to look out for Mohoram Atta's brand of dark melodic hardcore is right up my alley as there's slow sludgy parts, heavy midpaced head nodders, d-beats set to razorfast riffing and melodic black metal like riffing that makes me all giddy like a girl scout.

Buy here or here, here or here for you Europeans.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Spewtilator-Thrash N Splash

Official Mypsace
Label: Reaper's Grave
Released: Nov 2009
Release Type: CD-R, Tape. Demo
Genre: Thrash Metal

So what do sharks, Slayer parodies, and thrash have in common? They all kick ass. Atlanta's own bastard thrashtards seriously Slay(HA!) here with their first release, aptly titled Thrash N Splash. The cover of the tape says it all, from the retro flipped hat, to the bong hit and munchies, and to the shark just tryin' to relax, Spewtilator are all about having a good time.

This short demo starts things off with an homage to one of my favorite Slayer songs, Altar of Sacrifice, of course here it's a tasty Snackrifice. The production's raw as hell and feels very live, something I'm a fan of, yet the riffs and drums standout just fine, as well as the vocals (unfortunately the bass falls to the wayside). There's a very one take feel with the band and I really appreciate that. The riffs are excellent thrash riffs that jump from fast to hyper speed. Picture Slayer teaming up with Repulsion and you've got Spewtilator. From the great traded vocals much like Impaled, to the catchy thrash riffs to the hyper speed grind sections and everything in between Spewtilator kick dick. "D.O.T.D" is easily my favorite song as the riffs are menacing and catchy and the interjection of slower parts in between the midpace thrashing is awesome.

The only real complaint I can give is the production, as it's obviously louder in the left channel than right, and I really don't know what to chalk that up to. I listened with my tape player, in a friend's car, with my expensive headphones, with my cheap headphones and still no difference. And while the music is exceptionally awesome, such a misstep is hard to avoid.

If you like your thrash heavy, rough, and violent this is for you. Promising for a painful and delightfully energetic live show, Spewtilator kick major ass with this one. Unlike many modern thrash bands trying to play off the retro fad going on now, Spewtilator actually kick ass and rework the gimmick to a perfect mixture of originality and tribute.

For fans of old Slayer, Ghoul, Infernal Stronghold, and Sharks. These guys better make their way to New York so I can thrash myself stupid.

Buy it directly here from the band for only 5 bucks; c'mon.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Hatred Surge- Deconstruct

Label: Rescued From Life Records
Release Type: LP, CD
Genre:Power Violence

Honestly I don't know how we at CJ skipped this one, I mean Hatred Surge is just as big of a house hold name as Insect Warfare or any of these other U.S. grinders, blasters, violencers, or whatever you wanna call them. Frankly I feel silly. Here we see Hatred Surge deliverer the goods with their first full length, although in all honesty it feels a lot like an EP or MLP, but whatever I Like Hatred Surge enough to not give a damn.

For those of you out of the loop Hatred Surge incorperate a thick and super heavy guitar/bass attack, thudding drums and some awesomely voracious vocals. The duo of voices that is Mr. Alex Hughes and Ms. Faiza Kracheni, absolutely rip; of course I'm a sucker for female vocals like these paired with power violence and the like, but still; dope. What they deliever are powerful and memorable music that's completely unforgiving. The thick plucky bass and shouted vocals in gang fashion that show up around end the record carry that old punk vibe perfectly and act as an appropriate closer. The vocal delivery is one of Hatred Surge's best assests, from all the stuff I've heard by them (Insect Warfare split, Endless Blockade split, S/T ep) the vocals always stand out and have me shouting away and kicking all kinds of things across the room, it's no different here.

Whilst kicking shit around in my room, the "surge" (too good a word to describe the band) from song to song is flawless. Punky sections to out of the blue blast beats, to dismal sections of feedback and pounding drums Hatred Surge are a seamless act. They encapsulate flow so well, each song leads to another perfectly and the rhythmic shifts promise for a satisfying live show. The combination of a sludgy guitar tone, as well as stylings of the aforementioned genre works so perfectly (see the first track) in comparison with the ultra stupid as fuck fast blasting.

Hatred Surge does the scene proud with another reliable and highly enjoyable release. They're still kickin' the same kinda vibe they've been doing for a bit (although I see some Mind Eraser seeping in more obviously) but this is their first full length and I can hardly blame them for that.
Blast this loud, blast this proud, put the thing on repeat and spazz out for as long as you can.

Take a gander here, buy here.

On a completely unrelated note I haven't been able to stop watching this video. I'm an instant fan after seeing this. Check their myspace, the banter between them and Graf Orlock is hilarious.


Comp Crazy pt 2 - Obscene Extreme 2009

V/A - Obscene Extreme 2009
Type: CD
Release: 2009 (?)
Label: Obscene Productions

I don't know where this came from. I didn't order it - didn't even know it was for sale. Hell, is it even for sale? Who knows. But to whoever left this on one of my turntables, to stare back at me in the morning like it was my hand-picked disk de jour, you are not getting it back. So don't even ask.

To put it simply, Obscene Extreme 2009 is the business. You have to stick your arm in past the elbow to find the end of this horn of plenty's offerings: 36 different bands (all of whom attended the festival) playing 39 songs in 72 minutes. I half expected to see something along the lines of "arranged by DJ Bullet Belt" on the inlay card. It runs like a meticulously selected iPod shuffle list. Like a radio set some college kid spent two days arranging. It works because the disk has it all: thrash, powerviolence, grind, death/grind and a brutal version of each along the way. Even triggered brutal death grind for that one guy who likes to get a headache from click track blast beats. Oh, and a few unreleased songs, like the lead off track by Municipal Waste.

But what sells it from me is the song selection. I have a few of the albums and splits these songs were taken from: they did not choose the best song but instead the song that best represents the album. So if you like what you hear from a band then you are assured to hear 2-3 other songs on their album you will like even more. Does a number for justifying the expense, should ye be so inclined...

It also did me a favor. I particularly enjoyed the bass assault of Spasm and the accident at the intersection of Powerviolence and Grind that is Slavebreed. Maybe you will be so lucky. Find yourself a new band. Give your thanks to whoever left this at my place.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Comp Crazy pt 1 - Illegal Grinding

Release: 2009
Tyle: CD
Label: Various

Next to word-of-mouth and blind luck, compilations are the best way to discover new bands. And since I live in a city devoted to Indy Rock and being Politically Correct, word-of-mouth is not going to get me very deep into the grindcore industry. So comps it is. They are also rather frustrating, since most of these bands have a woeful lack of material, that being primarily on 7" splits. Therein lies the other issue: many people do not own a record player, which makes it tough for the band to get an international following. It's a double edged sword. On one side, if the records don't sell, the band does not get heard. On the other, assholes like me ripping the vinyl for your listening pleasure get the band much-needed exposure, but the release does not sell. Thankfully, this comp is on CD and is supported by good distribution. Maybe we can all do our part...

Illegal Grinding starts off with a cover band. I use "cover" in a tongue-in-cheek way, but also as a term of endearment, as I like the band. They are Bloody Act Of Terror, a band who, even if you have never heard them, will sound very familiar. In the titular song they play a poor man's version of the mosh bit from Napalm Death's "Mentally Murdered." Then comes "Lets Talk About Nothing," which is actually "Burning Inside" by Nasum. Same drums, same riffs, same vocals patterns. It appears only the title changed. The rest of their tracks ring with the same familiar sounds, but I will leave you the task of spotting which bands get emulated - and really, this is fine, seeing the whole imitation/flattery thing. I am only disappointed that their page on the inlay card does not devote a few lines to giving credit where credit is due.

Next up comes my first encounter with the west coast two-piece act Goner. They sport two mics, one guitar, a drum kit, and a DIY recording budget. It's a recipe for grinding madness. The set list felt incredible short, but it was enough to capture my interest. I liked their guitar tone, the pure grind riffing and definitely the consistent use of varied drum patterns (as opposed to Blast And Thrash I have come to expect from most young/new bands.) It doesn't hurt that the band is supported by To Lie A Lie and Bullshit Progaganda, two labels I have tremendous respect for. The labels have obviously heard the band more than I have, so just by liking this I think it's safe to assume that more goodness is just over the horizon. Aside from the shortness, my only issue is that they broke my unwritten rule of having a song with the sample longer than the music. Thankfully it was the final tune, so in a sense it is easy to overlook. Speaking of easy, Goner is a band I could easily see being brutal live. I'd like to hear them do a split with Gate or Shitstorm. Those records would sell.

The third band on the list plays grind influenced thrash, and they do it right. Starting out with "Contamination," a classic Sepultura meets Abscess type of tune, Haemophagus introduce themselves as a band worthy of a full length. True to Thrash 101 requirments they sound like accomplished musicians having a right good time. I will be the first to admit that some of this sentiment might be from the juxtaposition of coming after Goner and before Sakatat, two heavy, no compromise grinders. Either way their songs were fun to listen to (great General Surgery cover) and made me want to look further into the band. Isn't that the point of comps? When I track down their new CD, it's mine. Simple as that.

After the thrash interlude comes Sakatat, a band more people should be familiar with. They play a brand of grind double-steeped in punk, an approach somewhat but entirely unlike powerviolence. Their songs are short, raw and in many ways rather simple, but it's about as pissed as a punk with an exposed nerve on a cold, windy day. Aggression counts for a lot in these parts. I've said it before and I will paraphrase it again: I will take simple riffs played with passion over great riffs played by the numbers, any day. Sakatat is another band that probably slays live. Their songs are over before you know it, which does them little credit on the comp. But an EP from them would be a vicious assault.

This brings us to the only band without new material on the comp: D-Compose. Contrary to what their name generally implies, there are no d-beats to be had here. If anything the "D" stands for Dissonant. All the songs were taken from their album in 2004 skillfully reviewed here. D-Compose write songs like a death metal band: they stand alone, each following their own progressions. There are no forced tempo changes or any parts that are extreme for extremity's sake. Very well rounded band. Hopefully their inclusion on the comp is to build up interest as they've been rather quite since then.

And finally, just to keep anyone from feeling left out, there is the deathgrind super group Splattered Mermaids, comprised of members from Deranged, Visceral Bleeding and Havok. Deathgrind and me rarely get along. We can trace the genre back to at least Genocide, who were nice enough to disband before following up Horrified. Then their is Harmony Corruption, whose only fault is that it followed up FETO. The list goes on - it seems that each time a band does deathgrind right, they go and change everything up on their next release, if their is a next release at all. That said, it's hard coming up with a better way to end this comp. Splattered Mermaids do not have the attitude I was hoping for, but they have a style that is not represented otherwise - which is another point of comps: something for everyone.

I really enjoyed Haemophagus, Sakatat and Goner (and was stoked that they all fell in line on the playlist.) The other bands are good in their own right and I would happily go see them live. You can give the disk a listen here. I picked this up as a means to check out new bands, but also to support To Live A Lie, because I love that label. The other labels that helped fund this release are: Corrupted Harmony, Jennifergrind, Bullshit Progaganda, Teriak, Extreme Terror Productions and Goregeous Productions. Show your support by picking the comp up here.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Praeter Morte- Purifying The Oppressor

Offical Myspace
Released: 2009
Release Type: CD, Full Length
Label: Last Resort Records
Genre: Melodic Death/Deathcore

With the explosion of the whole deathcore/metalcore scene over the past seven or so years, we've seen a slew of awful bands making their way into the mainstream and giving metal a new face which I'm sure a lot of us don't appreciate. Unfortnatly with the whole scene there are a handful of good bands that are just watering down At the Gates and mixing it with Sick of it All and Hatebreed. Case in point Long Island's Praeter Morte find themselves in an odd place, while at times they execute very good melodic death metal, and at other times fall prey to stereotypical and painfully uninspired moments with their music which has epitomized the reason people hold bands like Waking the Cadaver, Black Dahlia Murder, White Chapel, Suicide Silence and Killswitch Engage as metal's death knell.

Not being the biggest fan of this recent trend, there are a handful of great bands, some who prexisted the trend and got pushed into it (Darkest Hour) as well as others who were important innovators (The Red Chord's first album is one of the best post 2000 albums I've ever heard, and Despised Icon aren't half bad), but for the most part it all sounds the same to me.

I'm at odds with this cd as it portrays the band being very competent musicians, and at times excellent songwriters, but unfortunately they fall into cliches and live up to the repugnant stereotypes of the genre. The first track starts off excellently, showcasing catchy guitarwork with obvious nods to At the Gates as well as more than competent drumming and climatic breaks and developments, yet almost on que as I was enjoying myself comes a completely unnecessary breakdown which repeats ad nasum (hur hur hur). "I Remain" continues this perpetual cocktease as it starts with an excellent and attention grabbing riff and then shamefully delves into a two-step mosh section for absolutely no reason. Now I understand the gimmick, the reason, as when played live breakdowns are awesome, but to throw them around like Monopoly money gets rid of any climatic value. Strangely enough the track continues and employs another typical metalcore gimmick of clean guitar, but here it actually works and segways into a very enjoyable riff. The second track acts an exemplar of a very competent and talented band, for whatever reason, giving into stereotypes and gimmicks.

I think Praeter Morte really act as a microcosm for the whole scene as they have some awesome parts but hide it, almost as if they're embarrassed about it, between cliches to appease braindead fans or the market. "The Culling" is probably my favorite track although the breakdown acts in a funny manner as it's utterly pointless and annoying but then leads into an awesome section and a dope solo.

To se the record straight, I love breakdowns. Suffocation is my favorite death metal band, and one reason being their excellent use of rhythm, accenting and structure. Their breakdowns are flawless and never unwelcome, and just like Mike Smith's excellent blast beats, they're all used in moderation and never sicking. Even moreso, black metal with breakdowns is one of my favorite things (Nefastus Dies combines melodic death metal with black metal flawlessly and does this, Leviathan has a few, and I'm sure there's others) I like my death metal with breakdowns (Decapitated, Dying Fetus, Dismember, Devourment, Aborted, Blood Red Throne, etc) but all those bands know the proper use and in the case of Devourment it's an enjoyable gimmick done right, there's no melodic harmonized leads and clean sections to mar the slam.

At the end of the day Praeter Morte is a group of great musicians and talented artists playing beneath their ability. If they were to drop the gimmicks of the genre and focus more on stuff like the epic harmonized guitars in "S.S.P," the midpaced catchiness in the beginning of "To Those Left Behind" and or the tremolo riffing in "The Culling" but unfortunately there's way too many breakdowns, two-step sections, bad and misplaced inhale vocals and not to mention low quality artwork to make me want to come back to this.

I would be more lenient if the hidden track at the end of "Bodies on Sunrise" wasn't a cover from the awful Adult Swim show "Tim and Eric Awesome Show" ( I looked it up hoping it'd be some old nyhc song) but i guess in the end metalcore and shitty tv shows aimed at stoners accomplish the same thing, cheap temporal enjoyment with little reason to come back.

If White Chapel, Suicide Silence, Hatebreed, Black Dahlia Murder, etc etc is your thing then check this out, it'd be nice to see a smaller band like this reap the benefits rather then the Hot Topic mainstays like Suicide Silence. You can listen to their tracks on their myspace, as well as buy the cd from them, or you can buy the cd on iTunes I believe.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Review: Ancient Obliteration - Destruction From The Past

Ancient MySpace
Release: 2009
Type: Demo CD/download
Label: Unsigned

Ancient Obliteration introduced themselves as "Deathened Street Metal" which, if anything, means they should shoot their marketing director. After giving "Destruction..." its fair share of listens I believe the band play Power Metal influenced Death-Thrash. Either way, asking an old punk and life-long grind fan to review this is truly an attest to their masochism, because honestly, their asking for it.

I hold the firm belief that a Demo is all about a band displaying it's potential. The band does not need to write great songs; they only need to write great portions of songs - so that the listener gets the impression that through time and effort those moments can be expanded into fuller, complete offerings. In short, expect nothing, but hope for the best.

Each song on "Destruction from the Past" at least has that moment. Like the 58-second mark in Tokyo Tower when the riff switches up leading into a solo. The two-step movement two minutes into Of Wisdom and Madness. A creative riff variation introduced at 3:03 in Portal Beast. The bass work from 1:48 on in Defiler, including the bass solo finalizing the tune. And the intro of Shogun which crashes into a driving little number. In all, the bass work is probably my favorite from this demo. Serving as more than just a backbone playing off the drums (while having plenty room in the production to work with) the bass tends to accentuate the space between guitar notes in the slower riffing while providing much needed depth to the death metal bits. Much appreciated.

And as stated above, this is all they needed to do - show they can put together just enough moments. The next logical step is to take those moments and build proper songs around them. But how? For the most part, the riffs in each song tend to overstay their welcome. The band spends way too much time on verse-chorus-verse riffing - which is only as interesting as the riffs being used. This is not trite criticism from my "Short, Fast and Loud" mentality. A big omission is in transition from one riff to the next. There are very few bridge riffs, virtually no throw away riffs - you know, the death metal staples. Too often one riff simple becomes the next. It's little things like this which provide the variation essential to elevate a band above its peers. Also the structure surrounding solos seem like a combination of impromptu and after thought. Impromptu in presentation of the solo, after thought in the music leading up to the solo - like they knew where the solo should be but not how to make it fit with the song. In fairness these are all expected one-track-minded traits of younger bands. It is difficult to know when a good riff is being overused, and even harder to know when to set that good riff aside to be used later in a song.

The biggest issue I have with the demo comes from an area I am also the pickiest about: the drumming, namely the inclusion of blast beats. However brief they may be, they are completely out of place. Couple this with how sloppily and lightly they are played. In a few spots it sounds like the drummer is just mashing as many pieces of his kit as possible - all on the same count. It takes so much away from the listening experience. This is easy to fix though: either learn to play blast beats as they are intended, crisp and powerfully, or omit them altogether.

Ancient Obliteration can be a good band. This demo shows it. It's a question of whether they are patient enough to put in the time and persistent enough to make the effort. They were kind enough to make the demo available for download here, and if you would like to support the band, pick up a copy here. It's only 5USD.