Wednesday, January 28, 2009

It's time to celebrate the blastbeat!!!!

A couple of posts ago, I mentioned it being Blastbeat Celebration day on January 29th. Guess what? That day is today. In honor of said day, I offer what I name as the SINGLE GREATEST GRINDCORE ALBUM of all time. Discordance Axis - The Inalienable Dreamless. All the elements of this band total up to being the greatest grindcore band of all time too. This band's entire catalog is vicious and precise. It's the sonic equivalent of that SUV that travels in the president's motorcade, but has the popup top that a guy strapped into a Gatling gun pops out of. The CD comes packaged in a DVD case and looks like a video on meditation instructions, then you put it in and BAM! 3,000 armor piercing round a minute. Grindcore. Sure, Napalm Death invented it, Carcass added a little melody here and there. Terrorizer and Assuck made it be worth a little more than the ironic one second song. Since then really, nothing progressed the genre until this record. All since this release have either been slavish followers of this albums design (Pig Destroyer, Magrudergrind) or just have not been that good at it (I won't name names) Judging by the prices on Amazon, it's probably still available, so if you download it and like it, buy it somewhere or order it. I know Hydrahead reissued the Jouhou and Original Sound Version albums too, which total up to the entire recorded output of this band. Jon Chang (vocalist) has a new band called Gridlink that adhere's pretty close to what this album was doing. Discordance Axis imploded like six times during it's existence. The final nail went in the coffin when guitarist Rob Marton was diagnosed with a condition where the loud volume he would play at would caused his entire body to be wracked with pain for days after DA would play a show. Talk about an achilles heel. Dave Witte handles the celebrated blast beats on this recording, and they are numerous. He's still one of the greatest in the world. No bullshit gravity blasts, always one foot.

Leg End by the rock and roll musical group Henry Cow

Continuing in the recent tradition of me making grandiose statements about albums I possess and how they changed my life by being the greatest music ever created, Henry Cow did no less than that about 6 or 7 years ago. I had bought all the REALLY GOOD Yes albums. Being a bass player, I had studied Rush. I had listened to King Crimson and Jethro Tull too. I had even gotten an anthology of Return To Forever. I thought I had nothing left to learn about progressive rock. It was all right there. Prog: Epic songs, silly lyrics, sometimes they used flutes, saxophones and violins, Roger Dean and/or Hipgnosis designed album covers, usually an organ or mellotron was involved. I ran across a mention of the band Henry Cow from the band Swedish band Mammoth Volume. I got into them about 2001 when they released "A Single Book Of Songs". I checked out their website and the guitarist, in his 'bio' dropped the words Zeuhl, RIO and Canterbury explaining about where his inspiration came from while writing the album. I emailed him and asked him to recommend some more to me. Henry Cow is not a band name you forget easily, and when I ran across a copy of Leg End, used, in town for $6, I jumped on it. He and I actually still maintain contact to this day. It's an email 'bromance' necessitated by a mutual love for all things Zappa. Just yesterday actually, I opened up the mailbox to find a DVD he sent me with 38 Swedish prog and psyche albums he burned for me.

This album was music I had been looking for all my life, screwball harmony, neverending arrangements that don't repeat. Leg End was a very weird crossroad where musical improvisation and structured composition met and shook hands. Fred Frith was a name I knew from the band Naked City (Who's album "Torture Garden" I credit for 'weirding' me at a young age.) Henry Cow was his first big endeavor in the late 60's and early 70's. Somewhere along the way, they coined the term "Rock In Opposition" (RIO). RIO isn't exactly a style as it is a group of oddball jazzrock groups from the early 70's who all played a festival of the same name. Over the years, bands who cite Henry Cow and Samma Mammas Manna as influences automatically get tagged RIO. None of them sound the same.

No two Henry Cow albums sound the same either. Some are instrumental, some feature vocalists and lyrics. Leg End is instrumental aside from some wordless choral work buried in the mix at a couple of points. Enough has been written about them on the internet that finding out more stuff about them should not be an issue so I will refrain from misquoting Wikipedia and making this post longer than it needs to be, just know that I LOVELOVELOVELOVELOVELOVELOVE this album and you should too.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Il Balletto Di Bronzo - Ys

It's odd that two of my favorite albums of all time are both named 'Ys'. This album and the Joanna Newsom album of the same name. At some point, I'll look up what it is a reference to. For now, I don't care too much. They are both awesome albums. This one especially.

Most who know me, know that I have a deep seated passion for dusty old progressive rock. It's almost as deep an obsession as crusty old death metal. This is the album that started me down the path. My band was on tour some years ago and we had the opportunity to play a benefit show on a Saturday night at the legendary CBGB's. We stayed with a friend of the band who lived 6 blocks from the club. We made it to their place the night before the show, so I knew if I got up early enough, I could go spend the day combing the record stores on St. Mark's Place. I know it wasn't the greatest shopping trip I was going to have, but I essentially only had 4 or 5 hours to find a souvenir or two from my first trip to NYC. I asked Dan where would be good to start (Mondo Kim's was the only suggestion I remember) and what to get. I was just getting into 70's prog at this point and I saw he had some pretty choice selections in his music rack. He said the best purchase I will ever make in my life will be if I look for an Italian band called Il Balletto Di Bronzo, as if I was ever going to remember that name. Lo and behold, I remembered enough of the name to recognize it when I saw it and based on Dan's high praise, the fact that he was a published author, and had an extremely potent CD collection, I bought it without having heard a note.
The album is singular and extraordinary. It has a heavy dose of symphonic ELP bombast going on within it, but a darkness and foreboding that ELP would never touch because it might scare away the investors. Evil, baroque jazz? Italy had some sort of connection with the prog in the 70's that no other country came close to. The bands that came out of that scene were some of the most intense songwriters and players of the era. Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso, Museo Rosenbach, Osanna, Quella Vecchia Locanda, AREA. Each one TOTALLY burning in their own rights (especially AREA). 'Ys' is quite possibly the album that I consider the BEST of the whole Italian lot. Lots of heavy, neoclassical organ work, mixed with an almost jazz pulse at points. Vocals have an opera-like quality without being annoying. The music itself can go from Mars Volta manicness to a simple 3 note vamp in the space of a few measures AND IT WORKS FRIGHTENINGLY WELL.
I don't know what they are singing about, but that never seems to matter to me. Like 60% of my music collection is music where you can't understand the words anyways, so what's it matter if it's in a different language. In the grand scheme of things, Yes, ELP and Pink Floyd were good guy prog. King Crimson, Van Der Graaf Generator and Jethro Tull were bad guy prog. Il Balletto lean totally to the dark side. If you have a thing for minor chords, creepy keyboard sounds, impish backing vocals and an almost occult darkness to the music, this album couldn't be more right.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Blastbeat Celebration day is January 29th

no shit, I'm not kidding, click here for the story

Have you hugged a blastbeat today? If not, on January 29th, go over to your CD or vinyl collection, pick up that copy of 'Horrified' from Repulsion and give it a gentle reminder that you appreciate it's very existence. If you don't own Repulsion, (because you are aimless, stupid and bereft of all that is decent) then figure out what the oldest album is in your collection that contains a blastbeat, or possibly the first time you ever heard one and APPRECIATE it. Since I have a blog, I will blog about it.

Mine was most likely in Maze Of Torment from Morbid Angel off Altars Of Madness. Either that or the opening riffs of Premature Burial from Malevolent Creation. Technically, it may have been something off 'Dealing With It' from DRI, which was also the reference that most of the blast-beat progenitors cite as the sounds that ultimately influenced their own creations. I used to tune into the metal show on the local college radio station and listen in every friday night. It became a ritual by about age 14 actually. I'd go to the mall and look at all the cassettes in the metal section at Camelot and take note of what had the nastiest album artwork. Come friday night, I'd tune in to the metal show, call the station and read off my list and make the decision for how I was spending the next week's allowance.

I didn't have cable back then, so people would call me on Sunday and tell me what they had taped the night before on Headbanger's Ball and I would head over to watch them after school during the week. One day, my friend called me and told me I had to come over and watch a video he had taped. I was a budding bassist and it was the video for 'Jerry Was A Racecar Driver' from Primus. Never saw a bass player do THAT before. After the video was over, he tried talking to me about it, but I was already tranfixed by the grainy, film school shitty footage of a church steeple and the opening drum fill of the next video. It was 'Suffer The Children' from Napalm Death. Everything was heavier, faster, and more intense than anything else I had ever listened too. Barney Greenway's roar was massive and their drummer looked like Squiggy from Laverne & Shirley. After about a minute, I got too SEE my first blastbeat. Everything was a little different after that. I started to live for the blast. The 2 beat thrash polka just wasn't enough anymore, no matter how fast it was played. If it didn't have blast beats, it wasn't worth listening too. Terrorizer's World Downfall ranked for a long time as the greatest grind album of all time for me, bumped out of the top spot by none other than "The Inalienable Dreamless" from Discordance Axis. Arguably, THE perfect grind album.

I'm not much for holidays. If they are a day off work, they are usually an annoyance for me when EVERYFUCKINGTHING is closed all over the area and I can't get shit done, or even get a decent cup of coffee somewhere. International Blastbeat Celebration Day is a holiday I can get behind though. None other than Erich Keller is the guy advocating it. He was in Fear Of God, who created some pretty vicious proto-grind back in 86 on some of the roughest recordings ever made. It could have been grindcore, it could have been a microphone placed dangerously close to a running blender with pieces of silverware in it. Hell, if it wasn't for triggers (the scourge of metal if you ask me) MOST blast beats could be that, and most SHOULD.

Goatsnake - Flower Of Disease

Apparently, I am in one of those stoner/doom moods today. This is the BIG DADDY doom album for me. If you are a doom fan and have any respect at all for the doom of yore, in your mind you have a throne carved out of solid black obsidian. In that throne sits the ultimate and first doom album (and arguably, the first heavy metal album at all) The self titled Black Sabbath. It is THEE heavy, it opens with THEE riff, it is THEE alpha. The following five Sabbath albums are a royal court of sorts, but we are not discussing them, enough has been written about the Sabbath. Perched atop that obsidian throne with folded wings, holding all around it within it's steely gaze, clinging fast to it's lord's every command, striving for it's master's approval is the doom of now represented by a single album. It's not in the royal bloodline, it's not even the same species as royalty, but it makes sure that the doom of yore is not forgotten. It is the protector and the enforcer.

The album is different for different people. For some it is Epicus Doomicus Metallicus from Candlemass. For some it may be Forest Of Equilibrium from Cathedral. Others may feel it is Sleep's Holy Mountain or Turn Loose The Swans from My Dying Bride. For me, it is Flower Of Disease from Goatsnake.

I don't know exactly why the stars aligned for me on this one. It could have been any of the aforementioned albums really. It just struck me the instant I heard it. Greg Anderson's molasses guitar tone, the way the riffs swung from Greg Roger's drumming. Pete Stahl's incredible voice. The vocal melodies (dare I say, soaring? Celine Dion it's not.) Everything. In some ways, it betters the formula. It never boogie's, but there is a southern rock drawl to it that keeps it just shy of falling straight into the classic doom catagory. It never drones, but there is something strangely reverent about the way the riffs are treated by the vocals, and how the vocals are treated by the riffs. The songs don't often even shamble past the 7 minute mark. They actually keep pretty close to the 5-6 minute range, which for some of the windier doom bands, can be a radio edit. For the windiest, a snippet.

This is hands down, one of the most stick-to-the-ribs doom metal albums of all time. Every song has that payoff, and you don't have to sit through 20 minutes of mournful wailing to get to it. This is doom metal that means business. The songs are as abrupt and complete as Goatsnake's own abbreviated career (2 full lengths, 3 EP's) This was released long before the current doom-chic trends became de riguer for the skinny pants/fixed gear bike hipster set. I blame Isis.

rateyourmusic has an feed that I peeked at when getting the cover art for this post. Flower Of Disease is currently going for $49.00. This gets my hackles up. Fucking greedheads. When I got this CD, Southern Lord was literally GIVING it away with every Goatsnake T shirt purchase. High five to me for being proactive. Until such time as the price actually comes down though:
put this in your ipod and smoke it

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Pearls And Brass

Alright, my blog is starting to look like an actual blog that someone cares about. It's been far below freezing this entire winter, so I took what little disposable income I had saved up and sank it into a laptop and some software because I KNEW I was gonna be broke and freezing cold the entire month of January and would need to occupy myself while staying warm by my space heater. I've been dicking around with photoshop, learning some (very) rudimentary tricks as well as figuring out what to do to make this blog function a little more proper.

This album makes me happy. Really happy. There are very few bands in existence today that can apply such a scope of colors to one album using only guitar, bass, vocals and drums. To find a fair comparison to this album, one would have to stretch back a few decades and even then you would not find a good match. Pearls And Brass quietly dropped this album and (for me) flew right past heavy fuzz resurgents like Guitar Hero dandies Priestess and stoner pop princes Queens Of The Stone Age to craft an album much more precious than their vastly more popular contemporaries.

In a perfect world, P&B's output will be remembered with some small reverence not too unlike the early Groundhogs catalog, or Gary Moore's Skid Row. I would be unfair to compare this album to the first Captain Beyond album, but I think of the two as kin in my head because of the acoustic interludes countered against proggy fuzz attack. CB's interludes are more in the classic prog catagory, whereas P&B's lie closer in with doomy modal blues like Robert Johnson and wierdo acid folk like First Utterance from Comus. This album got REALLY popular around here because one of the independent record stores jumped on it and sold something like 60 copies of it within a month because they wore the grooves out playing it in the store. Just about everyone that walked through the door for a year got treated to hearing that album, and just about everybody that walked through the door, if they enjoyed the sound of an electric guitar at all had a good reason to buy it.

Pearls And Brass had it all; acoustic slide jams, early Grand Funk Railroad fuzz guitar attack, well thought out riffs that never ended and sometimes never repeated, vocal hooks galore, and the occasional stomping Sabbath doom-out. They were incessantly sold out and ordering more copies. When Pearls And Brass toured, our dumb city may have been one of the better markets for them to play. I opened for them twice and the shows were both nicely attended (and my bands shows were RARELY nicely attended.) We were out on a weekend roadtrip at one point, had a night off and saw that P&B were playing a bar we were familiar with and went and it was a GHOST TOWN. Had the band all to ourselves. At that point, live, they were already shirking off alot of the first albums material and they were playing the far more manic material off their upcoming second album "The Indian Tower", which is great, but I think all the songs sounded the same, though the lone acoustic track BLEW AWAY the three acoustic tracks on the first album. After they broke up, Randy Huth, the guitarist and vocalist did an acoustic solo album called Randall Of Nazareth. His style of writing and playing is captivating and singular. It would be worth your while to track it down (it's on Drag City I think, so it can't be too hard to get ahold of) if you like any of the acoustic moments on this album.

This recording is natural sounding and highly representative of what one would hear at the show. No processed vocals or 15 layers of guitars or triggered drums. Just good solid playing. I considered these guys the top of the heap of the fuzz resurgence, dusting more popular bands like Priestess and Dead Meadow (but not Dungen, who can do no wrong). After releasing the second album, P&B did their few tours and went on indefinite hiatus. Thankfully, these recordings will never go on hiatus. This is one of my favorite albums of all time, despite the ugly cover artwork. Hell, it's not like I can do any better.

"my bleeding hands, tearing up the ground"

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Best of 2008

This year beats the hell out of last year. Last year I couldn't name ten good albums by the end of the year. This year I keep kicking stuff off this list so I can add stuff I forgot about. I may try and get slick and add pics of these albums, but this is what kicked my ass this year.

1. KayoDot - Blue Lambency Downward
2. Enslaved - Vertebrae
3. Samothrace - Life's Trade
4. Nachtmystium - Assassins: The Black Meddle
5. Ocean - Pantheon Of The Lesser
6. Earth - The Bees Made Honey In The Lions Skull
7. World Burns To Death - Graveyard Of Utopia
8. Black Mountain - In The Future
9. Leviathan - Massive Conspiracy Against All Life
10.Dungen - 4

kinda in that order, and subject to change without notice

edit: James brings up a good point, Burning Witch - Crippled Lucifer is the best reissue this year, runner up goes to the Reek Of Putrefaction reissue for the best packaging. Nothing on the horizon for next year. I give half of a shit about the new Mastodon, what they have been saying about it is pretty intriguing. Hopefully it isn't the same gobbledygook that Blood Mountain was.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

NEXT2NOTHING - To Have Courage, But No Conscience 7" +

1996 and Pants were baggy, mosh was hard, breaks were fast, shit was talked, backs were stabbed, bonds were broken. These were during those years before Hatebreed breakdowns and kids still danced when the music was fast. Our town actually had a scene for a minute. All the Detroit venues got shut down, so N2N started booking the shows at their house and all the Detroit folk would come and it actually seemed like a scene for about a year. I was in the periphery. I still am. I like it that way.

"To Have Courage..." was Next2Nothing's only release. It was a clusterfuck. Among other things, the recording was pretty tinny, the covers didn't get made until a year and a half after the vinyl was pressed, and by that time, the thanks list was totally obsolete. Still, it is what it is and it is a moment in time.

An ex member gave me a copy of the 7" just recently and kicked me some rips of the tracks. There are 4 additional songs from a later recording session that pretty much smoke the 7" tracks. I only have the digital tracks though, and they were ripped at 128 by someone other than myself. The sound can't be helped much really even if they were 320. The band had a couple of recording sessions that never got released and everything I heard was ridiculously good. I wish someone would collect the original masters and get all that shit mastered, if only for people who remember because it was surprisingly good and has held up well over the years. For the time, they got pretty far, playing with most of the second tier metalcore and hardcore bands of the day on numerous tours. N2N had their own thing going on. Speed, breakdowns, hooks, straightforward (yet well written) lyrics, heart, ambition. There really aren't many bands to compare these guys too because once again, they didn't fit in any sub-genre very well. Too fast for metalcore, too hardcore to be POST hardcore, too negative to be posi, too metal to be youth crew, not fast enough to be thrashcore, not political at all, and they weren't ridiculous enough to be "Holy Terror" hardcore. Midwest negative hardcore. You understand if you are from one of these industrial wasteland megapolii that are closing up for business as we speak. It's the same sort of muck and filth that set the Cuyahoga on fire and spawned Cleveland hardcore. N2N ultimately were a footnote, and should have been more

Monday, January 5, 2009

Habitual Coercion 2007 CDR demo

On to the metal. This is the 2007 CDR demo from Habitual Coercion, a NW Ohio death metal band of whom I have not seen their demo being shared ANYWHERE, and that is a shame. This is in the same catagory as old Cephalic Carnage and Origin and just as good. Brutal, techy, grindy, and occasionally they throw you a hook. Hooks are typically unheard of in death metal today.

Bo gave his blessing to post this so there is some kind of digital presence for their demo since they consistently forget to burn new ones. He's the bass player and he just got endorsed by Spector basses, and for that I am envious. Endorsements are sweet, they have a ton of them. I'd kill for an Ashdown endorsement.


xAs Good As Deadx - Til Death Do Us Part CDR demo 2008

This is the first CDR demo from xAs Good As Deadx, released earlier this year. The original line up of the band was Scott - vocals, Tommy - guitar, Will - bass, and Graham drums. They recorded this demo which ripped. Aging HC guys with no interest in sounding like anything other than aging HC guys playing HC they liked. Not only was the demo one of the best things I had heard in years, but the layout was INSANE!!! I'm almost certain I included scans of everthing because this was limited to 100 and I am pretty sure it is gone. I can't find the .rar file on my computer though, so I'll probably download this myself just to get the scans back. The lyrics scan is HUGE because they were hard to read otherwise and I know Scott puts alot of care and feeding into his lyrics. Scott had to leave the band over the summer, so Will went to vocals and they got Jeff on bass, who is not old, but likes old hardcore as much as the rest of us.

If you like old hardcore as much as the rest of us, download 10mb of rage here

The packaging deserves a paragraph of it's own:

Snake, of The Sacrosanct Opuscule handled the artwork, screenprinting and the mildly awkward packaging that folds out into an 'X'. It's an impressive piece to look at. Just about everything Snake does is impressive to look at, even his beard. Click on his website again and look at some of the packaging on his other pieces, then buy them because they rule and they're cheap and you should support DIY. Everything he does is awesome and worthy of the term "work of art". The Nukkehammer and Beaurocratic Dysentery cassettes he just released will eat your babies, and as you can well imagine, they're awfully pretty to look at too.

xAs Good As Deadx - Just One Of Those Years cassette demo 2008

This is Will335's other band, xAs Good As Deadx. This is the cassette they put out a few months ago after the CDR, after Will had moved over to vocals. Unfortunately, the rip was done at 160, but it still sounds good. I did not rip the tracks, and I don't know who did, but since I have the cassette, my contribution is to include front and back scans of the cover. The band doesn't fit nicely into any genre-specific box aside from fast as fuck. It's too dark to be positive, there's not enough sing alongs to be youth crew, it's not fast enough to be thrashcore, there's no bro-core mosh parts, there's no metal, it's not crossover, it's not crusty, there's no blast beats, no death vocals or pigsqueals. This is negative hardcore. It's the antithesis of positive hardcore. It IS fast, unrelenting and intense. I scanned the lyics side of the j card at like a THOUSAND x a MILLION pixels so you can read the lyrics because they are pretty pertinent to the bad vibes of the music. This is recommended if you are a fan of Poison Idea, D.S.13, Victim In Pain era AF, old ClevoHC, sweet shit in general.

get it

and again, Will335 has the cassette in his rather limited distro (of 2 tapes) that he just started last week when the Disconnected demos got finished. This will beef up in the next few months because he is already talking to a bunch of other tape labels around the world about trades. I am sure he will update the list of distros his shit is available in once it's worth updating. There are only about 30 of the AGAD cassette left, so get at him
here or support DIY and go to one of their shows if you're within 50 miles.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Disconnected - Isolated 2009 cassette demo

Ok, this is my first ACTUAL post. It's my bands cassette demo. The band was formed, material was written, and recorded all in under a month and we're pretty happy with it. You will be too if you like Deathreat, Exclaim, Cleveland hardcore or Japanese hardcore, or noisy shit in general.

get it

there are coverscans in there. This is a limited edition run of 100. Will335 is running a cassette label and distro now, and that's where this was released. For a hard copy, contact Will335. All he has so far are THESE cassettes and some copies of his other bands cassette (As Good As Dead) and he really wants to expand, so contact him for trade.

here's the label:
sonic fucking seppuku

If you live nearby and could make it to a show, go to a show, make a donation for the touring bands and buy a tape for like $3 you cheap bastard. Don't think that just owning the MP3's makes you sweet, cuz it doesn't. Support DIY everything.