Thursday, February 19, 2009

Death Side - The Will Never Die

I had never heard the name Death Side before a year ago. I will admit it. I am a Johnny-come-lately to the world of 80's Japanese HC. If I remember correctly, I got in a conversation with someone about Zeke and how they incorporated sick guitar leads into already hyper-charged punk rock. This particular someone knows alot about hardcore and they pointed me at Death Side and their penchant for incorporating almost POWER METAL guitar melodies and solos into raw-as-hell/fast-as-fuck punk rock. This got me sliding into the world of Japanese hardcore punk. Once I scratched the surface, I dug in a little deeper and found alot of cool stuff. Outo, Lip Cream, and S.O.B. alongside Death Side are now absolute favorite bands of mine. Death Side basically started a little known sub-sub-sub catagory of hardcore punk known as 'Burning Spirit' hardcore, characterized by the combination said NWOBHM guitar heroics and a taste for all things Discharge. I have checked out some other 'Burning Spirit' bands and they really don't do a whole lot for me. Sometimes descending a little too far into their own cliche's for my taste. Deathside had it right. Even some of the bands that formed out of Deathside's ashes leave me cold. It's sort of how Tragedy and From Ashes Rise came out in the late 90's and then all these "Epic Hardcore" bands popped up in their wake and just smothered it.

Japan in the 80's was pretty well isolated from what was going on in the rest of the punk rock world. There was no internet, so news travelled slow and import records were subject to all kinds of tariffs and customs taxes. If an album was not licensed in your country, you had to pay top dollar to get it. Japan couldn't get alot of punk from the rest of the world, so they made their own, and the rest of the world be damned. Death Side obviously did things the way they wanted too. Had an American hardcore band at the time tried some of the stuff that Death Side did, they would have been called out on it in a second. Twin guitar leads? Epic solos? That kinda stuff didn't happen in the US, UK or Europe without some shit hitting some fan somewhere. Death Side broke up in the early 90's and splintered into Paintbox, Forward and Judgement. They and a few dozen other bands picked up the Burning Spirit banner and held it and it holds to this day. Sadly, Chelsea, guitarist for Death Side passed away in August of 2007 of apparent complications caused from heat stroke (or so says the internet.) Very few Japanese bands released anything outside of Japan, and kids like me were left to only see the words on the page in the Relapse catalog with prohibitive price tags placed next to them. That's why the internet is so cool. I'm able to find out if something is ACTUALLY WORTH the money people are charging for it.

I went to a punk show a few weeks ago and someone was selling this in their distro. I paid $30 for it. It's not available outside of Japan. I knew it was worth it because I had already heard it. It's the 2CD version with all their EP's and compilation tracks collected. I just did a cursory check on Ebay JUST TO SEE what this goes for and I couldn't find this particular release. I did however find the original vinyl 7" listed twice. One jerk in Japan is listing it with an opening of $80.00. He has like 25 other listings of original vinyls of Outo, Lip Cream, The Comes and a bunch of other rare records listed for equally ludicrous prices. (up to $120!) The sad part is, there is a whole pool of schmucks that are all gonna pay that and more.

What the fuck? Is it Antique Roadshow? Are you all old ladies who collect Hummel figurines and Beanie Babies? That kindof punk rock vampirism makes me sick. I hate the fact that people like to lord it over each other's heads that they have THIS record or THAT record and then have to compare pressings and colored vinyl and stuff. On one level, collecting is fun and I have a healthy CD collection myself. When it gets to a certain point though, I really do feel that it cheapens the music. I'll see someone creaming about something on some forum and I'll find a download link just to see if it's all that and it just SUCKS. It's cool that it came packaged in a ziploc bag filled with sour milk though. I see people buying albums not because they want to hear them, but because they will be able to flip them in a few years for an outrageous amount of money. HOW PUNK. Does it have anything to do with the music anymore? I have a few neat items that I have picked up over the years that I would not like to part with. Most of them are not worth much, but I don't care because I am not going to sell them. I see more and more people caring more about the FORMAT or the item itself than the music. I am hardly what I would consider a 'punk', but I know it is not punk to be paying $200 for some raggedy ass flexi-disc, and fuck you very much for showing it off on some faceless forum. You got jerked, kid. No punk rock is worth that much. Go spend that on a guitar and MAKE your own punk band for cheaper, or press a 7" for your friends band if you have that much loot to throw around.

Merchandise... It keeps us in line.

rant = over

THE WILL<-- disc one
NEVER DIE<-- disc two

Edit: A friend of mine has mentioned to me that he has had problems downloading the second disc (sadly, the better of the two, it being later material and just better developed in general) I had problems with another upload this week. (rough mixes of the new Disconnected material, not for public consumption) If anyone else is having trouble, let me know in the comments. I log into this thing a few times a week even if I only post something once a week or so.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Disconnected / Wasteland split 7" on.

We met out at Bottom Of The Lake studios tonight for our 2nd session and got all the mics run and got a sound dialed in. The cassette was tracked out when it was recorded, this time, the instruments are all being recorded live. Pat is going to go later in the week to do vocals. Pat expressed interest in doing the vocals on the cassette, but we wanted to get it done NOWNOWNOW, so Will335 threw down some ad-libbed lyrics and it came out great. We got Pat ready for it this time. Ok, he's not ready at all, but I don't even know the songs I am recording tomorrow. Why should he? That's just how we roll.

The tracks are being released on Idoneum Bello records out of Bayern, Germany as a split 7" with a band from New Zealand called Wasteland and they rip. Here them rip here. We will be ripping on vinyl together in April if things continue to go as planned. IBR is doing a whole series of split releases with bands who have never released anything on vinyl, so bookmark that link and keep an eye out. I am a follower of his "Am I Mean" blog. He likes to post sick shit like Catharsis demos and all things Haymaker (2 of my all time favorite hardcore bands) and when he put out a cattle call for hardcore bands to do this split series with, I contacted him.

Disconnected only formed in October as a reason for Will335 to write everything for a project like White Trash Rob did with Ramallah (not the best inspiration, but inspiration nonetheless). He and I were going to do a black metal thing for the hell of it, and then he found Jas from Full Scale Panic (still waiting for a copy of their demo, I'll probably post it at some point) so they started writing hardcore. The intention was just to get together and see what happened. No live plans. Then it was actually pretty fucking good, so we did the cassette just to see if we could do it. Will335 duped them in his living room himself while watching "America's Got Talent" or something shitty like that. Go to my first post ever and download the demo if you haven't already. We weren't even planning on playing live. Now dudes in Europe like us and stuff, and our cassette is in a bunch of distros all over the US. I likely will only be playing live on a few dates here and there as I work on the weekends and fests never get booked on Wednesdays. We've talked to a number of bassists who have agreed to take it to the stage for me if needs be. Sure, I'm salty about not being able to play, but they gotta do what they gotta do, and I have to make the doughnuts. None of them will have my 'full custom leafblower' tone either. That can only be created in a laboratory by me with my two secret pedals that the paint has been worn off of, so no one knows what they are. I have to remember what the knobs are for on one of them just to use it!) I am a tone ninja.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Bloodpact - As Good As Dead 7"

I've been looking forward to posting this for a LONG time. This release is why I am doing a blog right now. A year ago I got an ipod and started dumping my music into Itunes. Being the super nerd that I am, I liked to take the discography CDs I have and separate the tracks into the separate releases. I have since decided that this behavior is needlessly annoying and will soon be reconsolidating my OUTO discography, among others, back into single folders. When I put Bloodpact's (a)bastardization compilation into my itunes, I couldn't find coverscans ANYWHERE and realized that one of my favorite bands was TOTALLY unrepresented within the blogs. This was a crime I had every plan of remedying, once I figured out how too. Thusly, after some trial and error, here it is.

I caught Bloodpact at a number of shows and I don't remember being too into it at the time. I was way more into Catharsis and assorted other 'sounds' than the fast stuff back then. Andy's other band, Ruination was much more interesting to me, as were lots of other bands that today I deem far inferior to this release, which I slept on for some years after it's release. I think at the Exclaim show I went to, I bought the (a)bastardization CD in Andy's distro on a whim. It was cheap, I had just been paid and I spend like a pasha at shows if I have the money. Whenever I got around to listening to it, the first 6 songs kicked me in the balls like very little hardcore ever has.

This is my favorite hardcore release of all time. When I saw that it had so little representation on the internet, I actually vowed then and there that I would start a blog at some point to get this record heard, by maybe 8 more people, but heard nonetheless. This record is the reason for the season. Will335 named his band As Good As Dead in honor of this release, and though they are VERY good at what they do, they are a pale shadow compared to the ferocity of this record. This EP is one of the most vicious hardcore platters ever released. Bloodpact were wound tighter than a cheap watch and they were PISSED. Andy's vocals are some of the most focused and intense I have heard since I first heard "Tied Down" from Negative Approach. He has is own trademark rasp that is only marginally related to John Brannon's voice in that they are both yelling. The lyrics I found to be truly remarkable. I am a sucker for some good, well informed social injustice whistleblowing, but tired slogans have never found much of a place in my heart. Bloodpact delivered message lyrics in an odd sort of stream-of-consciousness prose style that didn't question anyone's intelligence, but still made room for hooks and the occasional oddball rhyme scheme without succumbing to repetitive mantra-like gang choruses. Not a tuff guy beat down rhymed couplet to be found, and no fingerpointing or "stabbed in the back" bullshit.

Another gush-worthy point of this record is the drum performance of Dustin Schoenhoefer, who offered his services for some shows and the recording to get the project off the ground. He later rejoined and recorded the final Bloodpact material, which I have never heard. Dustin was playing in Next2Nothing at the time, and went on to be a founding member of Premonitions Of War (where he seriously tore shit up). He plays in Walls Of Jericho now. I'll reserve comment, but I'm glad he's making money and all that. His drum performance on this recording can only be described as unique and propellant. I won't go any further than to say to pay attention to the drums your second or third time through listening to it.

Andy's new band is called Nightbringer, and they are one of my absolute favorite bands right now. Very much more Motorhead/JapHC influenced than Bloodpact, who, though exceedingly fast, were far more thrash metal. I implore you to follow their exploits here or suffer your fate bereft of their influence on your pathetic life.

I ripped these from my copy of (a)bastardization. If you want the scratchy vinyl pops and stuff, tough titty. Go track down the vinyl you snob. In the meantime, enjoy hearing the songs on any format you wish to transfer these to. The original 1999 7" release was only 6 songs. 2 more songs were recorded for compilations. One is a 7 Seconds cover. I put them in too because they were all the same recording session. I borrowed Will's copy of the 7" for the scans I included. This has never been repressed, so even if you have a copy, yours wouldn't look much better, so no bitching about the spot of mold on the front. I think there were only 100 of the red vinyl pressed. 10 were packaged in ammunition cases or something ridiculous like that and a couple hundred came out on regular black vinyl I would imagine. My scanner isn't big enough to accomodate the entire insert at one time, so I had to scan the inside in 2 parts and cobble them together in photoshop. I hope no one can see my splice.

give it up, you suckers

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Exclaim - Critical Exploder

What a kick in the head this album was. Some friends of mine had an extra seat in the car to go see Hellnation back in 2001 (I guess, or at least that is what the Youtube footage of the show says) It doesn't seem to me like it was that long ago, but I guess it was. I had never heard them, but I knew they were a well known name in the power violence/grindcore world and that was good enough for me. They were playing with some Japanese hardcore band too. I didn't know much about Japanese hardcore past seeing the name S.O.B. bandied about in metal magazines in the early 90's because every grind band ever named them as an influence and Dan Lilker wore their T shirts. I figured it would be good shit. I didn't know nothing. Hellnation was totally underwhelming. Sloppy, muddy, one dimensional. Kinda boring really. I spent most of their set digging through distro and spending too goddamned much money. The Japanese guys hit the stage on Hellnation's equipment and proceeded to DESTROY. They weren't necessarily tight, they just sorta hacked away at their guitars, shrieked alot and played the drums super fast. It was just total energy blitzkrieg. I bought this CD and a T shirt and the blitzkrieg continued once I put the album in. This album is the sound of punk chewing it's fingernails off. It's red eyed cocaine anxiety terrorizing a preteen sleepover. This album is the hardcore equivalent of a bandsaw locking up on a piece of sheet metal.

I don't think they even heard each other or cared if they were playing the same song. The crowd tried going apeshit a couple of times, but in grand Midwestern style, did nothing really. Blank stares, jaws agape. Any time a pit was started, it was ignored until it went away. We rustbelters are masters at choking a pit out. Exclaim was underwhelmed with us it seemed. The lead singer pointed at people and said stuff about them to the other band members that made them laugh. We didn't understand what he was saying. It didn't matter really. We deserved to be called whatever he was calling us for being lame. However I have influenced your thoughts, dear reader, I guarantee they have not prepared you for what this album ACTUALLY sounds like. It came out on Sound Pollution, and they are going tits up, so this isn't something you will find anytime soon. This album doesn't seem to have much of a blog presence and that is a shame. I think when it came out, it was a bit of a curiosity. It's shrieking feedback, completely overdriven sound and almost total lack of clarity probably perplexed most. I'm sure it influenced some of the rawer HC bands operating today like Coke Bust and Sex Vid (I know it influenced Disconnected an awful lot). This is fast, noisy and harsh. Comedically harsh. Harsh to an extreme that only power electronics practitioners like Masami Akita and Wolf Eyes take it. Confuse fans take note. This might even be of some interest to some of the Aquarius Records cassette only black metal set due to it's absurdly and intentionally raw nature.

"more scream, high energy"