Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Steal softly through sunlight, steal softly through snow... R.I.P. Cap'n

First DIO, now Captain Beefheart?  What a bummer year for my heroes, and there's not many left.  I'm a week late in this, but life has been in my way.  Still, I'd rather be busy as hell and not have a good excuse for blogging, than have 16 new posts a day because I don't have a job.  The Captain is dead, long live the Captain.  I suppose there is no real reason to be sad.  Don Van Vliet was ailing privately and had been for decades now.  He had retired from music (and after what he went through, I would too... at least he had some kind of aptitude at something else.)  There isn't a unit of measurement large enough to demonstrate to you how much Captain Beefheart had upon my life.  Let's just put it this way:  My blogger "handle" (nothingwheel, part of the URL of this blog) is from the lyrics of the song "Steal Softly Through Snow."  I was BIG into Beefheart around the time I was becoming net-savvy and thinking up names for stuff.  As cliche as it is to talk about what an impact Trout Mask Replica had on me (It's always cooler to talk about how much more into Bluejeans And Moonbeams you are) the fact remains, it did.  He had as huge an impact on me as reading Vonnegut, looking at my first dirty magazine or the first time I ever heard Run DMC. Safe As Milk is his best album, hands down, but Trout Mask was my introduction and the last album I heard that TRULY blew my mind.  When you first start listening to music, EVERYTHING is something new and different, you pick a few favorites and move on to phase two, where you become a little more discerning. By the time you are 25, you have tastes that are uniquely yours and those primordial shocks are fewer and further between.  I was probably a little late in discovering Beefheart.  It was no rarity to find something good that you can listen to alot, but I was in that headspace where it was VERY rare to find something so new that it pushes everything else aside for awhile.  Beefheart took precedence over all other listening for about a year of my life while I decoded what exactly it was he was doing.  I read books, I listened to EVERYTHING, good albums, bad albums, crappy bootlegs, box set or otherwise.  At his best, Beefheart treated music as his canvas.  He used (abused) musicians like different paintbrushes, usually in completely unorthodox manners.   Trout Mask was the last trumpet blast in truly original art rock.  It came from nowhere.  Beefheart had a bastard vision, and short of the delta blues, (to quote Method Man) there was no father to his style.  His artistic children are, and will be many.  Hopefully my own will be included as I have foresworn to provide my betrothed with 2 pretty babies who will be dressed in Motorhead onesies and will know the lyrics to "Orange Claw Hammer" before they can write.

I'm not uploading anything, but I'm going to hijack a  link to Beefheart's lost (and brilliant) 1972 album "Lick My Decals Off, Baby" that a google search just brought up.  I usually don't do such a thing, but they posted both an MP3 and a lossless link and that is more than I can figure out how to do.  It's very much not in print and is is prized and highly sought after.  Here's hoping that Beefheart's passing puts some wheels into motion concerning a reissue of that album of great legend.  You can purchase it right now at Amazon for $298 if you feel so inclined, or $99 used.  If you do download it, please leave a comment on the beautiful noises blog.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dropdead - s/t

Dear Internet;  seriously?  You're this "great source of all information, true or otherwise." You are the gossip column of the world and this great source of new music for people.  Especially punk kids who don't want to pay for music.  There is an awful lot of that stuff out there and yet I find THIS fast/grind/powerviolence/punk/hardcore whatever-the-fuck-it's-called-this-week example of perfection to be totally underrepresented. (seriously scenesters, decide on a name, then kindly fuck off and take a shower.  It's been around since 1985 and it's called grind, I don't care what they are singing about or what Eric Wood feels about it.)

For some reason, I was searching this and noticed that there were a few download links to it, but for the most part, they were like 128kbps.  I have an original Selfish Records version of the CD that I bought from Media Play of all places in 1994 when I was in high school.  Here is a fairly high quality rip of it (200 or higher kbps)  This is another one of those albums that changed my life.  Up there with  Black Sabbath - Master Of Reality, Naked City - Torture Garden, or Obituary - Cause Of Death.  This is the first time I had ever heard anyone being REALLY pissed about vivisection or factory farming.  Bob's vocals are probably the most pissed ever recorded.  Unlike alot of guys, DROPDEAD doesn't make it sound like it's a job, they rage from the heart no matter how fast they are playing (though it is usually fast).  The songs usually have some kind of structure and thought to their assembly rather than much of this stuff that comes out now and somehow, Dropdead are able to keep it kinda catchy too.  When I first heard this, I considered it kin to Terrorizer and I still do.  This is punk played by guys with metal skills and smart-missile precision like only dudes could do in 1992 (i.e. before there was a roadmap on how to play and record this kindof stuff.)  Dropdead helped to distill and refine the definition of pissed for me.  This is also the first CD issue of it, so there is no remastering or studio fuckery going on with the recording, so you will have to turn it up if you are used to listening to corporate embarrassments like Phobia or y'know, Disturbed?

I post this specifically in honor of In Disgust, whose demise I lamented in my most recent post.  I considered them kin as well. Dropdead are still out there killing it on occasion. As a bonus, I've uploaded both the original Selfish records version and the Armageddon version that I happened across at the store the other day.  The Armageddon Records version is a different earlier mix and is separated only by 2 tracks, one being the A side and the other being the B side.  The mix to my ears is absolutely more feral, but it's one of those "Raw Power" kindof arguments.  I know the original flawed mixes and like them better, but that's just me. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

RIP - In Disgust

I really liked this band.  I just read that they broke up and that depresses me.  What a bummer for a first post in several months.  I guess that's what happens with good grind/fast bands.  With rare exception, they burn out quick.  Terrorizer, Discordance Axis, Insect Warfare, Threatener, etc.etc.  Napalm Death got it back together after 8 or 9 years of boring industrial rock or whatever the hell that was.  Their records would rule everything if the production was raw again.  In Disgust was like THEEE band.  Reality Choke completely blew me away.  There is very little advancement that can occur in such a narrow genre.  When it gets too artsy, you get garbage like The Locust.  Google search this band.  They ruled.

I guess I am posting this as a little update to my "followers."  I just happened to look over and notice that there were a few over there.  One of them is my mom.  Isn't that nice?  I haven't found anything really worth blogging about MUSICALLY in a long time, at least nothing that I wasn't a few months behind on anyways.  The most I have found to do is that I got an actual CD rip of the Gutted CD I posted several months ago.  It sounds better for sure.  I keep forgetting to upload it and replace the link.  Most of what I have really gotten into is nothing that can't be found on 80 other blogs anyways.  More on that in another post I guess.

I moved 3 months ago.  My girl and I got a place in a town that is much more sensible for us to live in.  We've been taking our time trying to get our place set up and find enough second hand furniture to sit on and eat off of.  I have cats now too.  My lady cooks wonderful vegan food for me and my waistline has taken a hit.  I work 50+ hours a week some weeks between two jobs and barely have time to deal with the internet, which explains why I have been so behind.  Domestic life is busy... way too busy for me to be concerned with my narcissistic pursuits that no one really cares about.  I have to take the trash out now and clean the kitchen and make coffee and stay home and watch documentaries on my days off.  She scoops the litter box.  Scooping the litter box is not metal.

This blog is not dead, and I think of it often... then I think that there is really nothing for me to write about that would be of any interest to anyone for the time being.  I just haven't worked it back into my life yet.  Hell, I still have to find time to start hitting the gym again.   Soon enough.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Mediocrity is on the move.  Back shortly once life settles down a little bit. Cleaning out the attic and heading down the highway.  Shoulda posted this 2 months ago since it's been about that long since I have had time to touch this thing.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

30 Minute Metal.

There really is nothing better in the world for a musician or an artist to create something that leaves the audience wanting MORE. In metal, this doesn't happen NEARLY often enough anymore. "And Justice For All" has it's many detractors. For me, it was the album that got my 12 year old mind around the fact that there was stuff out there other than Def Leppard and wimpy Desmond Child-era Aerosmith. I find "Justice" fantastic. It's still a worthwhile and rewarding listen after all these years, bass or no bass. My only criticism of it is that it is too long. It IS one of those rare "all killer, no filler" records that somehow exceeds the one hour mark, but I will be damned if I have listened to it in one sitting since Jr. High School. Double albums have their place. Physical Graffiti, Trout Mask Replica and Tago Mago wouldn't be what they are without being a double helping, but they are not metal albums. They are very dynamic albums with alot of ground that they cover and require time to develop. The last thing I really need from Nile is 63 minutes of wall-to-wall blast beats and 3 vocalists gurgling about ancient burial rites. There is such a big deal made about his subject matter and all the hard work and research Karl Sanders puts into his lyrics, but for as many understandable words sung in their albums, they could be reading Finnegan's Wake for all I know.

This post is created to hail those records that really only have one thing to say, and say it quickly and neatly bundled in an almost disappointing length. Ten more minutes of music MIGHT be awesome, but in such a concentrated dosage, it might do more harm than good in the grand scheme of things. These are albums that you wanted to think "rip off" when you realize that you paid $10-$12 for originally, only to find out that they were so short. It took awhile to understand that you hadn't been burned. It eventually dawns on you that these records are POTENT. Occasionally, in some cases, you know what you are getting quality over quantity. Every minute spent listening to one of these albums is worth THREE minutes of listening to a lesser album. I can't tell you how many albums I own where you could take out all the useless shit and be left with 25 minutes of perfection. We're talking FULL LENGTH ALBUMS here. L fucking P's. Full price. No EP's or demos. You were bummed to look at the cassette and see a woefully thin spindle of tape awaiting you. The most famous one, and the OBVIOUS #1 would be "Reign In Blood." It was so short, they put the complete album on BOTH sides of the cassette. Since nothing more can really be said about that album, it is the "representative image" of this post. I've also kinda limited the list to metal albums. Finding super intense punk albums under 30 minutes is like shooting fish in a barrel. Short records are a touchstone of punk. I wanted to concentrate on metal because it can be SUCH a bloated style. Once "And Justice For All" hit town, nearly every album that came out for the next 3 years HAD to be 65+ minutes long and every song had 16 parts with 4 riffs. Anyone else remember the sticker on the original release of "Time Does Not Heal" from Dark Angel? 9 songs, 67 minutes, 246 riffs. I still have my cassette with that very sticker across the back of the case. I guess at the time, it was a wise sales decision, because everyone was into that sort of shit, but I also specifically remember having to remind myself to listen to the second side rather than the first side every once in awhile to maintain some kind of balance. "Leave Scars" was one of those albums that REALLY could have done with some fat trimming too. It would have been such a vicious album if there was no pointless Zeppelin cover, no 7 minute instrumental "Cauterization", and "The Promise Of Agony" could easily have been cut in half.

Ten three minute songs in a row. It's a great average. With punk albums, and especially grind albums having 18, 32 or even 40+ songs, you REALLY run the risk of losing the plot a few tracks in, even on a 30 minute album. Maybe you'll remember a riff or a chorus. I usually don't, and I LOVE grind, but I don't listen to grind for the songs. Metal anymore is such a sonic brickwall even by the time it gets to the mastering house. There are almost no dynamics present and it makes the ears tired to listen for longer than 30 minutes, especially in earbuds.

I skipped some pretty important albums I realize (COC - Animosity, Slaughter Of The Soul) but those albums don't mean very much to me. I like them, and they certainly are important to metal, they just aren't something I listen to alot. In the case of Animosity, I realize I need to spend some more time listening and let it sink in. I skipped over Vulcano - Bloody Vengeance too, probaby my FAVORITE super super short metal album of all time, but only because I blogged about it already and it has it's own post. The only criteria I wanted to hold to strictly was no more than thirty minutes and change. It certainly broke my heart to not be able to include Seance's "Fornever Laid To Rest" because it is 31:03. Maybe another time. In no particular order, and probably lacking a couple I missed because I am tired:

Bathory - s/t 26:55
If you take out the boring three minute intro and the 23 second outro, you are left with 22 minutes-ish. Plenty has been written about this record. In the grand scheme of things, I have only just discovered Bathory. I think I finally heard this in 2005, years after Quorthon died. The first time you listen to this album, it's like jumping in ice water.

Beherit - Oath Of Black Blood 26:06
A high school friend bought this in 1992 or so on tape. JL America. We all thought it sounded weird and terrible. It was passed around the circle of metal friends for a solid year with the caveat "If you like it, you can have it." No one claimed it after a certain point. I don't know who wound up with it. I was 30 before I decided to revisit it for a laugh and became obsessed with it.

Asschapel - Fire And Destruction 21:43
I had heard their name for awhile. A friend turned their T shirt that didn't fit them into a backpatch on their hoodie and I asked them about it. I thought the name was silly, but I really trust this frends taste in music, so I grabbed it when I found it in someone's distro. This record is my reference for bass tone. I have to date yet only failed to reproduce it.

Deadguy - Fixation On A Coworker 30:17
Mid 90's Victory Records metalcore gets pissed. No breakdowns, no tech, no message, no ethics. If Snapcase were the rich kids, and Earth Crisis were the jocks, Deadguy were the trenchcoat mafia.

Deicide - Legion 29:05
That shattering sound at the beginning of "Trifixion?" That's the 2nd Deicide album smashing through the first Deicide album. The self titled album holds a warm spot in my heart, but the second album is always the one I reach for.

Sadus - Chemical Exposure 29:07
Darren Travis shrieks higher and more painfully on this album than any other man should be allowed to do. It's not a pretty thing.

Repulsion - Horrified 29:18
I'm going off the path here by including a "grind" album, and originally a demo recording, but only because Repulsion was not trying to make "Grindcore." They were trying to make the meanest thing ever recorded up to that point, and with very little exception, they succeeded. Initially a demo titled "Slaughter Of The Innocent," it influenced the extreme metal scene far too much to ignore. It also begged inclusion because I spent many hours listening to the Relapse cassette with the blue face on it, and feeling kinda bad about liking it so much because of Dave Grave's Hitler mustache.

Gorgasm - Bleeding Profusely 23:37
I am not a goregrind fan, but this album is really sweet. It's really the only goregrind album I own because we really only need ONE really good goregrind album. If it wasn't this one, it would have been "Inbreeding The Anthropophagi" from Deeds Of Flesh, but I sold it when I found a copy of this album. Didn't want to go over my quota.

Bolt Thrower - In Battle There Is No Law 30:21
I can't express how much I love Bolt Thrower. If you add Crass and Amebix to death metal, somehow you get Bolt Thrower. I don't understand the mechanics of it, but I am sure that is what happened.

Witchfinder General - Death Penalty 30:38
NWOBHM... The start of it all. Ironically enough, alot of the classic doom metal bands cleave pretty close to the hem of Witchfinder General. Is this the shortest doom album ever made? Quite possibly.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Apologies for the lack of posts. I don't really have anything to share as nothing has blown up my skirt that people can't just get on a thousand other blogs, or at the fucking record store. You can all look at a picture of DIO, because there really will never be enough pictures of DIO to properly tribute the impact his music had on our lives.

According to my Mediafire numbers, people read this thing, download stuff and occasionally try to post links to their Asian porn sites on here. Oddly, once I decided to make this site google-searchable, what was my least downloaded file became my MOST downloaded file. Il Balletto Di Bronzo's untouchable classic "YS" now leads the pack with the most downloads. I was worried that no one was interested in obscure Italian progressive rock any longer. I guess I have been proven wrong. Maybe I'll post a few more since I have a ton of it and it's just not something you find every day.

My lack of time has extended to my musical life as well, as I had to quit Disconnected. Our boy JC is handling the bass until he gets too stoned. I went and saw them the other night. They were tight and awesome. It was a Monday night, so they weren't as noisy as it usually was when I was playing with them, I think cuz everyone needs to be able to hear the alarm going off the next morning for work, and not tinitus. I'll get into something else eventually, for now, I am just going to concentrate on stacking paper and getting my lady and I the hell out of this town. It's high time.

The "first quarter" of 2010 has been the best few months for metal releases in a LONG LONG time. I don't have the time to post any kick ass downloads right now, but I do have the time to tell everyone to go out and buy the following:

Black Breath - Heavy Breathing

This is the album Entombed didn't make between Clandestine and Wolverine Blues. They should have. These guys are on tour with Converge right now and they are one of the best bands I have ever seen live. Will and I went to see them the other night in Toledo and we were the only people there. WE were the reason they stuck around and played. There were about 11 people in the room by the time they played and they played like there were 1100. Not only that, they played "Sacrifice" from Bathory because Will heard them mention they had practiced it a few times. Early running for album of the year.

Coffinworm - When All Became None
These guys are my Indy brothers. Well, mostly. I still haven't actually met the other guitarist and the bassist, but I am sure they are solid dudes. Despite them being my friends, this album is face crushing. Blackened crust doom? Not too far removed from RWAKE or Neurosis, with a healthy dose of Bolt Thrower's steamroller riffs thrown in. All 6 songs are memorable and the album explores ideas without straying from a unified sound. The thing that gets me is the album is pretty squarely in the doom camp, but it's only 40 minutes long. THAT'S THE FUCKING COOLEST!!! You know what else is only 40 minutes long? Nas - Illmatic. What else do they have in common? They are both perfect albums with ZERO filler. Doom metal would do well to drop the drones and 18 minute songs that meander to nowhere.

Triptykon - Epastawiruoiejeoejoka Daimonndofiejnkas
whatever the hell that is, it's the new Tom G. Warrior project and it damn near blows CF's masterpiece Monothiest out of the water.

Ludicra - The Tenant
I have never been grabbed by these guys in the past. I don't know what it was. I had their Fex Urbis Lex Orbis release a long time ago, but I don't remember a thing from it, and probably just didn't give it a fair chance. This album CONVINCES me that I need to go back and give Ludicra's earlier material another chance. They get pegged into the black metal camp, but that is really unfair. There are strong black metal influences, but there are also strong prog influences, strong NWOBHM influences, strong art-rock influences. This record will be timeless. In a fair world, this band would be as big as Mastodon. They could very easily develop the kind of broad appeal that could take them to bigger stages. Drummer Aesop is a blogging superstar with his Cosmic Hearse blog.

Vasalaeth - Crypt Born and Tethered To Ruin
Murky death metal filth from Profound Lore. 30 minutes of molten lead in your ears. Nothing pretty. 3 of the 5 releases on this list so far have come out on Profound Lore. No label should have that kind of success rate. They must be stopped.

Shit, that's half my top ten list.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Into Another - Ignaurus

You know how I know when an album I own and love doesn't get enough love on the internet? When the best image you can find to gank for your own hot-air-review based blog is a shitty, grainy scan from the record label that released it like 15 years ago. This is the first request I have ever had for Mediocrity. My friend, Scott Sheridan asked for me to write it up and I am glad he did because my blog was lacking in things that weren't extreme metal.

By the time I had graduated high school (1995), I had drifted pretty far from metal. I was listening to a bunch of crazy stuff. Mostly arty punk and no wave stuff like the Minutemen, and the Swans, Lots of 80's "deathrock" like Sisters Of Mercy, Bauhaus and Siouxsie. There was still a pretty healthy addiction to Sabbath, but I was totally convinced that metal and I were just done. This was to change in the next 5 years, but first, metal needed to flirt with me again. Metal's first re-flirtations with me were through Snapcase, Strife, Harvest and the early metalcore bands. Eventually, I was to hear Converge's "Petitioning The Empty Sky" which sent me running headfirst to the closet to dig out my warped cassette copies of "Clandestine" and "Necroticism," but that was still some years off. I played in a hardcore band for a few months right out of school, but shortly fell out of favor with those guys. In the meantime, I was discovering the "emotional" post-punk sounds. I cringe to use the term that was first used for bands like Sunny Day Real Estate, Texas Is The Reason and Sensefield, but that was what we called it. They had inherited the mantle from the primarily DC based "emo" punk scenes of the late 80's/early 90's, smoothed the rougher edges, and expanded the melodic possibilities of the form to create a style that was part Smiths, part Supertramp, and part spastic temper tantrum.

You could draw a line directly between the sounds of most of those musics I just mentioned (sans the extreme metal.) using the music of Into Another, so they were like tailor made for me to get into. They were clearly heavy metal influenced, but melodically experimental. They each had an obvious restrained virtuosity to their playing, but they were given to dropping in a Sabbath sized throb on occasion to spice things up. Richie Birkenhead's choir-boy range was emotive, but not in the OTT "crying with his back to the crowd" kinda way. There was no equipment destruction at the end of their performances, but they were obviously talented enough, that should they have decided to do so, they would have stayed in key while doing it. They could somehow be both uplifting like the lead off songs to the first two Boston albums, but still be as dark as any goth band out there. So many people just didn't get it. I remember some clueless assclown journalist comparing their first album to Motley Crüe. Into Another set out to do a number of very different and progressive things with their songs, and accomplished every single one of their goals in flying colors, but in a very tasteful and thought provoking manner. Peter Moses is still one of my favorite guitarists to ever walk the earth. Listen to the first 80 seconds of Ignaurus to find out why. Tony Bono opens with one of the most memorable basslines I know of, and Moses lays a modal, quasi-legato solo over the top of it that was slightly flashy, but introduced any who heard it to one of the few guitar players of the 90's that could solo with a unique style and still be a respectable player at the end of it. Moses never sounded masturbatory or self indulgent and his jazz-hippie-metal canoodling was as integral to the Into Another sound as Ritchie's voice.

I was sold from there. Tony Bono is John Entwistle cool in my book. He would literally MAKE the song for me a lot of times. Ritchie has mad pipes, and Peter Moses plays the aforementioned guitar hero/anti-hero swimmingly, but Bono provides the hook more often than not. All involved could outplay anyone in the scene at the time, but they always seemed to take the high road, or at least, if someone WAS getting notey and noodly, it never seemed like it.

Into Another had their fair share of media exposure at the time, but they had terrible marketing. No one was interested in a couple of ex-NYHC straight edge guys and two long haired metal players who all dressed like hippies and played arty, spiritual, mature progressive rock. They didn't wear oversized chinos, or have a rapper, or dreadlocks, or a political agenda, or played 7 string guitars, or gang choruses, or any of those tired cliches (even at that time) that record labels were flogging to drum up sales. The band just didn't have a very good visual hook and they made the mistake of going for the gold and signing to the major disguised as an indie with no obvious marketing savior-faire when it came to any kind of highbrow music (clearly the territory of the indie labels.) For some ungodly reason, Into Another were basically marketed as a metal band, when they were merely metal influenced, and when provoked, only displayed the most thoughtful and well mannered aggression on album. Would they have had a shot had they been marketed differently? Perhaps to a more Soundgarden crowd (I always think of Peter Moses and Kim Thayil as musically kin.) I dunno. It didn't work for Voivod. They lost almost all their early fans by the time they released Angel Rat and were clearly gunning for the flannel crowd. (Moses could also beg a strong comparison to Piggy's playing of that era.) They got a video or two on Headbanger's Ball I think, and were featured numerous times in Metal Maniacs (which is where I first heard of them.) but that was about it. The internet was still in it's infancy at this point and the label was eventually swallowed up in the "great conglomeration" of record labels in the mid 90's and they were one of the bands to get the axe. The record industry were clamoring for the next Nirvana in the wake of the Cobain suicide and had no time for anything they could not hang a sign THEY could be comfortable hanging. It was not for trying though. Into Another got a damned healthy promotional push for a time, during that nebulous time of the 120 minutes "BuzzBin" which I don't believe they ever got featured on.

They split up in 1996. There was no farewell tour, and probably not even an official final show. In 1995 they released "Seemless," which is basically an extension of this album with some smoother edges. I like them both about equal for different reasons. Seemless has some really great moments and is as equally worth tracking down (yr likely to find it in a dollar bin somewhere.) It's as much a work of genius as Ignaurus, but Ignaurus is the darker horse of the two. There was an unreleased album as well.  I heard it, it sounded unfinished.  There were alot of electronics involved, not much guitar, and it was pretty unclear what they were focusing on.  Into Another were shelved by whatever record label absorbed Hollywood Records and they just sort of quietly disappeared.

In 2002, Tony Bono sadly passed away unexpectedly, shocking the metal, punk, hardcore and emo worlds that this band straddled so effortlessly and equally. His work in Into Another influenced my own bass playing heavily. I read in an interview with Ritchie was that the last time anyone knew of Peter Moses's whereabouts was at Tony's funeral. Moses did not keep in touch with Ritchie and Drew after the band dissolved. In this age of "legendary" and underappreciated reforming and playing for the crowds that they never had when they were initially active ("Kyuss Lives?" Without Josh Homme? c'mon.) it's especially heartbreaking to know that this is one act that will never play again.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Ocean - Monument/Fork Lashing Eye 2004 CDR demo

You know something that is sweet about demos? They are short. Sometimes, albums just go on too long and don't have enough to say. Some of my favorite albums are victims of this. "And Justice For All" really could have done without the 9 minute songs. Demos are graceful and quick to upload and download. No splitting of the archive, or timeouts on the server. Wanna know something that is a fucking DRAG about demos? They are SHORT. I have a 20 minute drive to work and that is not enough time to get into the meat of a good album. No "Forest Of Equilibrium" for me in the morning. I'm a third of the way in by the time I am through the intro. If you are listening to something, you almost want it to be something you are not that interested in, or something that can pert-near complete itself within the time frame granted. So the What The Fuck?!? demo posted a few posts back leaves me driving 75mph on the interstate and rather unsafely removing my eyes from the road while trying to find something else in my iPod to listen to that will interest me for the next seven and a half minutes. ("You know, and I know, I can't live without my radio")

Maine's Ocean really felt the need to write ten (twenty... thirty) minute songs. On their self released 2004 demo, they had it right. Two songs, 25 minutes long. Perfect drive-to-work length. It's before they had figured out how to be molasses slow too, so it's not like it puts me to sleep on the way (another good reason not to listen to "Forest Of Equilibrium" while driving I guess.) Playing tectonically slow really takes some tweaking on the groups's part. It takes a keen sense of time amongst all involved for everyone to stay together.

My old band played with Ocean in Cleveland some years ago. At that time, the only thing they had released was this 2 song demo. It was not terribly indicative of their live sound, but it was crushing nonetheless. They had just re-recorded their entire debut album after being entirely unhappy with what they had recorded with Sanford Parker in Chicago. I don't know how that can be possible, but their reasons I think had more to do with their own performances and they just ran out of time to get it the way they wanted it. (Something about it not being slow enough.) Ocean are obviously perfectionists in many regards. Their second album, "Pantheon Of The Lesser" is an utter fucking sludge/doom masterpiece, probably the last sludge/doom masterpiece that was ever recorded. The second song (Of The Lesser) is like 37 minutes long, it's super super slow and it STILL rules from beginning to end. It's REALLY hard for something super super slow to be able to do that. It took them 2 years of writing to get it right apparently, and when they did, it was a doozie. It doesn't get boring, and I highly recommend you get it if you like it slow. Then again, if you already like it slow, you probably already own it.

You may NOT however, own their highly sought after "Monument/Fork Lashing Eye" 2 song, self released CDR demo. Weep no more, for I do. I finally got around to scanning the cover as well. Ocean were some of the most solid guys I have ever met. They gave me my pick of T shirts, but I was grabby and not thinking and grabbed a small. Sold it some years ago. Still kicking myself. I should have at least made it into a back patch or something cuz I REALLY love this band. They released this on a limited 500 copy run of 12" vinyl with sick, handmade packaging a few years ago. Doubtless, it sold out. Here is your chance to at least have it in some form if you so desire.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Gutted - self titled, self released final album.

Oh SHIT!!! Lo Res Viscera beat me to it. He always posts about HIS hometown bands, and I like to post about mine. His blog is one of the reasons I do a blog. He does it for the right reasons, not just to spread a zillion files around the internet, or be the first to leak something. His posts mean something to him and his blog is a labor of love. Albums I post usually have some personal reason to them as to why I have posted them, and I am verbose in imparting some inkling of my personal connection to such-and-such album or demo. I was happy to see that SOMEONE knows about Gutted other than the 450 or so Midwesterners that gave a shit about them in 1993, even though I think he was a midwesterner in 1993, which I guess would make him one of the 450. Either way, I am glad he is spreading the good word.

LRV posted the long lost classic "Bleed For Us To Live," which in all honesty didn't make too strong an impression on me after the REALLY classic "Disease" demo. They were brutal enough without a lead guitarist. Gutted was all we had in Toledo. There were no other death metal bands at the time and these guys either opened, or in most cases HEADLINED every extreme metal show in the area. They were the most extreme it got around here, and all without a single blastbeat ever written or played. There was one other band at the time, but they were very openly aryan supremacist (and boring as shit, musically) so I won't even discuss them. You get a bit of that around these parts.

There was a metal show that myself and some friends attended, and the Ditch brothers pulled up in a rusty Chevette. Their band at the time was called Demigod, but because of the Finnish band, were changing their name. (There was a Toledo band named Athiest too, they had to change their name to Corruption. They practiced 2 doors down from me.) Mark Ditch pulled out a little pad of paper with some band name possibilities written on it and asked us to pick one. I don't remember the others, but I voted against "Gutted." It DID make a striking logo in the end. I was never friends with them. They were in their 20's and I was like 14 or 15 and would sneak into shows and not talk to anyone for fear of getting thrown out even though I wasn't drinking and usually tried to pay cover.

The last time I saw them live, it was opening for Napalm Death on the Fear, Emptiness, Despair tour in the basement of The Asylum in downtown Toledo. Sheer Terror played that show too (and ruled!) Gutted was playing their new post-Bleed material on this show, and it crushed. They had returned to their original three piece lineup. There were some new amps onstage too. It was a nastier guitar tone, and overdriven bass and it was gnarly as hell. Unfortunately, death metal was no longer the flavor of the week as it was about 1994 at that point and "alterna-metal" was starting to crown. The only problem with Bleed For Us To Live was that it was released 2 years too late. They would have been kings had they been anywhere but here. Sadly, they had to settle for being kings... here.

I dunno why LRV was worried about them being considered Slam Death. Waking The Cadaver these guys are not. They WERE alot more creative in their rhythmic approach to things than alot of other bands. Gutted hardly ever got beyond "mid paced." What they DID write were hooks. A lost art if you ask me. A car could blow out a tire in some of the pockets they would write. Death metal bands don't play anything resembling a pocket anymore. The later material has a grit to it that was closer kin to Incantation and some of the other "dark" death metal that was busy being forgotten at the time as well. Gutted still kept that midpaced, evil vibe going on, like Asphyx. The keening, whining guitar solos that really weren't much more than moody, reverbed out string bends. The throat lacerating vocals (NOT cookie monster!) Chunky, simple double kick and filthy bass that complimented the guitar tones. Some years after they "broke up" (became permanently inactive? retired? closed the family practice?) This limited released platter came out. It has awful, throwaway cover artwork, bad layout with a crappy font, and they could not have printed up more than 500 or 1000. Total homebrew job, but it has their final recordings on it (including a dope cover of Manitou that I like more than Venom!) The first five songs were the referenced later material they recorded. To make it complete, though, they included their 4 song "Disease" demo at the end of the album. I wore out two copies of that cassette. I never got a chance to buy this CD, so I only have this downloaded copy of it that I have re-upped. I think I got it from one of those Russian sites and I just happened to run across it. I probably still get porn popups from going to that site too.

I kinda doubt if Gutted toured much or played too far out of town. Maybe some East Coast dates. They released Bleed For Us To Live at a point when death metal show attendance was at an all time low ebb. I know they played the Michigan Deathfest more than once and were tight with the Epitaph Magazine people. I vaguely remember them getting a good review in Metal Maniacs, but that never guaranteed anyone any widespread recognition (Shit, one of MY bands had a one page feature done on them! Never even got me recognized on the street!)

I can't find a better pic of the cover than the one from the Metallum, so that is all you get. In all honesty, it's really all you need.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Top Nine of 2009

This year was a little weak on the new music tip. The good releases were REALLY good thankfully. Even Megadeth released a kick ass record. That fact tickles me especially because I rediscovered them this year. Megadeth was actually the first metal T shirt I ever owned and I wore it to threads. Within 4 years of first hearing them, I was ashamed to own it, though, as the 5 or 6 follow-up albums to Rust In Peace hardly "followed" it at all. (If anyone is selling the "Contaminated" shirt, let me know, I would love to get my hands on another one in good condition.)

I wanted to make this post all fancy with hotlinks and stuff, but we are lucky I got around to putting little pictures next to the entries. Go out and buy these at your favorite local mom and pop record store. They are still out there. I am lucky to live in a city where there are like 6 or 8 record stores and I spend some loot at more than one of them every week. There really is nothing quite like holding the product in your hand and thumbing through the packaging. Vinyl, cassette or CD, it doesn't really matter what format you dig, just don't be one of those clowns with 75,000 MP3s and no physical music collection. Those guys like dogshit like Waking The Cadaver and gave Soulja Boy a career. I quit smoking 6 years ago this January and my vow back then was that I would transfer whatever money I spent on cigarettes to a weekly music budget. I smoked about a carton of cigarettes a week, and as the price of a carton has risen, my music budget has risen as well. Good for music. It is a vice I am happy to support for myself. I can't say I could ever remember being able to rate the cigarettes I smoked in a year, or enjoyed talking about my habit with other geeks. Music is awesome, even if my best of 2009 list is almost exclusively metal this year. I wish something else would have impressed me, but most indie rock has gone up it's own ass and exists only to sell VW's and MP3 players. I would rather listen to the new Nile album (which was surprisingly good) than the new Decemberists (which was a horrifying disappointment.) Hip Hop did exactly nothing this year either, short of that new Raekwon album, and when people tell me about a really great hip hop album they just heard, it usually was recorded 5 years ago. Most of my music purchases this year were catalog purchases, or reissues of awesome shit like Siouxsie And The Banshees, or Discharge. I ordered a ton of shit off eBay too (getting solid copies of stuff I discovered through downloading.)

The best shows I saw were bands that reformed and were doing one more go-round. (Sunny Day Real Estate, Carcass, Jesus Lizard.) The only show that I was really excited about that was NOT some band I was into ten years ago was Dungen, who toured with Fleet Foxes (barf) but played a one off date in my town for about a hundred people. It was amazing and beyond kick ass to see one of the only existing 'non metal' bands I enjoy playing 4 feet in front of me. Sadly, there were only about 30 people from my town at the show, and the majority of the audience was made up of people who drove several hours to see them in a small club setting. The Bone Awl/Volahn/Ashdautas tour was sweet though. I saw that in Detroit and then Cleveland a few nights later. Several of my best of picks, I saw at the Templars Of Doom 3 festival in Indianapolis, which was most assuredly a highlight of my year. I should really make it a point to try and make it to one metal festival a year. Unfortunately, I work and make most of my money on most weekends. I had plans for MDF, but had to cancel for that reason.

I need to move on to the list as this is becoming more stream-of-consciousness blogging, and it really shouldn't be.

I'll spare the mystery and just start at the number one:

1. Iron Age - The Sleeping Eye
Wow... fucking, wow. The first time I heard this was at the record store. The guy sez "You'll love this" and I promptly didn't for whatever reason. It just wasn't the day for it for me. A few months later, a friend of mine tells me they are playing in Cleveland as their only midwest date, with Nukkehammer as support. I went to see Nukkehammer and am glad I did as they crushed. I really didn't care about Iron Age, but they were one of the most pummelling bands I have ever seen live. They were tight and energetic, even after having driven 25 hours straight from Austin to play... really late. Their album has equal parts of Integrity's Cleveland stomp, with Venom's forward thrust in the fast parts. The songs have all the class of Entombed's Clandestine though. Expansive, almost epic qualities meshing seamlessly with expert songcraft. "The Sleeping Eye" is some serious next level shit for me. I got the same vibe from Catharsis' 1-2 punch of Samsara and Passion in the late 90's I wish more bands like that existed. Epic, but getting to the point so their songs weren't 37 minutes long.

2. Argus - s/t
I drove four hours to see these guys. Got there just in time too. They were still tuning up when I arrived. Argus were the second band on day 2 of the Templars Of Doom festival in Indianapolis. Frustratingly enough, they were a month away from having boxes of copies of their albums to sell. One of my old bands played with them some years ago. It must have been their 4th or 5th show with their new vocalist at the time, Butch, who got us on the bill as he was friends with our drummer. Butch has a wall shaking tenor that got him attention as vocalist for the 90's doom metal outfit, Penance. They were "Butch's new band" to us. He was still pretty new to the band though and was not feeling the best about his performance, but it knocked my socks off and I have been waiting for years for a full length to come out. They had just started recording their demo at the time. 3-4 years later and I finally have my hands on their absolutely un-fuck-withable debut self titled full length. Their superior songcraft stood them far ahead of some of the other acts of the weekend. Their twin guitar work compares to ANY twin guitar team in the business. We're talking Roth/Schenker good. We're talking Wartell/Franklin good. If you don't know who those guitar teams are, get googling. Argus are not exactly true doom metal, but add a healthy dose of Witchfinder General and that is probably the closest one could get to pigeonholing them. They are downtuned classic metal I guess. I'm excited to hopefully get to Cleveland in a few weeks to see them play with Pentagram and Gates Of Slumber.

3. Krallice - Dimensional Bleedthrough
Epic, sweeping, cold black metal, played by a bunch of guys from other bands that all live in NYC. They are better at it than most. This record is the shit. I saw them play this entire album from beginning to end just before they joined up with Wolves In The Throne Room for a US tour. It was so loud it was stupid. Everyone was playing through a full stack. I had earplugs in and my ears were still ringing afterwards. I loved the first album and they didn't play a note of it live. I don't know why I latched onto these guys, but I really REALLY like them. I kinda feel that these guys are the torchbearers for good, pure USBM at this point. Great stuff, and they aren't pretentious about it. WITTR strike as the pretentious torchbearers of 'hipster black metal' that they are made out to be. Living in the woods and all that shit. Krallice live in Brooklyn and probably take the subway to band practice. They have no designs on being kvlt by concealing their identities or wearing face paint (a practice that I feel USBM acts have no claim to.) I still like Wolves... and Black Cascade would be in my honorable mentions, probably more because everyone is naming them in their top ten and I think Krallice is gonna get the short end of it by releasing their album later in the year.

4. Deathspell Omega - Diaboli Veritas In Aeturnum: Chaining The Katechon
Unlike Krallice, this band is TOTALLY pretentious about everything. I guess they has every right to be. I find this band to be completely incredible. The way dissonance is used to make melodies that are totally anti-melodic, yet still catchy is like catnip to me and I wish I could do it as well. This is one 22 minute song that actually keeps my attention for 22 minutes without me needing to do something else. I will actually listen to this and stare off into space for 22 minutes WITHOUT cleaning my room or reading a book or reorganizing my music collection or anything. Listening to Deathspell Omega in headphones is one of the most disorienting experiences one can have with music, next to maybe trying to figure out what Portal are doing, which just gets tedious to me after awhile.

5. Keelhaul's Triumphant Return To Obscurity
One of the best bands... ever. They finally put out a new album this year. Caught these guys live too, by total accident. I used to love seeing them back in the early 00's. They ruled everything as far as I am concerned. They made all those Botch clones sound like a bunch of chumps. They made all the tech metal assholes sound like clowns. They still do as far as I am concerned. Thankfully, the Botch worship bands kinda fell away, but there is still lots of Psyopus and Ion Dissonance garbage out there that needs to be shown the door. Keelhaul are totally unapologetic in their delivery. Their insistence on the rhythm is entrancing to me. Somehow, they don't get lost. It's spooky how well they play together too. Judging by the album title, they are hanging it up again for at least another few years after this, so if you didn't get to see them on their tour last September, then shame on you.

6. Zebulon Pike - Intranscience
I hate Pelican, ISIS and Russian Sparrows. It's boring and unoriginal. Neurosis did it when I was in high school. I've seen these guys compared to those bands because they are instrumental and heavy and proggy. That's really sad. I think this is a self released album, and therefore I may be posting it on here before too long because it is pretty effing amazing. I saw them at the Templars fest too. Someone told me they were like Pelican and that made me want to go hang outside (or hang myself) where there were people I didn't know doing things I didn't approve of. I decided to chance it with the band playing music I didn't approve of. I listened for about 20 seconds before deciding that I approved. Enough to buy this album and a T shirt. I wish I would have bought another album from them too. They had all of them for sale. I fucked up. They knocked my socks off. If the guitarists played any tighter, they would have been spooning.

7. Coke Bust - Lines In The Sand
The best hardcore band I have heard in years. This is their new 12". It's fast. I saw these guys live this year and they were intense and tight. I was impressed with how the live feel of this band was captured on recording. Their Fuck Bar Culture 7" was one of the best hardcore releases of the last decade. I felt and this full length is not too far behind. I think it's only drawback is the fact that it IS a full length and the impact of 6 brutal minutes of feedback drenched, but still super-tight thrashcore has been stretched out to 18 or 20 minutes.

8. YOB - The Great Cessation
If YOB releases an album, it is in my top ten for the year. The Great Cessation is no exception. YOB does doom metal like only YOB can. Mike Scheidt twists and distorts his voice and guitar tones in ways that no one will EVER be able to do again, without begging a direct comparison. My girlfriend took me to Chicago for my birthday dinner. I wanted to go to Kuma's Corner. I ordered the YOB. I will never eat another burger again... update, since writing this the first time, my girlfriend has decided to go vegan, which directly affects my culinary decision making and the YOB may very well be THEE last burger I ever eat. I really hope this is not the last YOB album Mike Scheidt decides to do though. YOB reminds me that all that is sacred and holy in doom metal is still important to some, and it isn't all about playing one drone for 65 minutes.

9. Teitanblood - Seven Chalices
I had my doubts about this release the first few spins I gave it. After about a dozen or so spins, it really started to grow on me. I don't spend enough time on the internet to stay up on every noisy, muddy neo "dark death metal" band, but I have a few friends that do. One of them, it's his job to keep up on this stuff. He's a writer and publicist. I ask him about three times a year to hip me to what I am missing by not frequenting the message boards and forums. He sets me on the left hand path pretty successfully, and often. This was his early entry for album of the year. I can't say that is it the best thing I have heard all year, but it is a murky, epic masterpiece in a market share that is getting more and more glutted with one dimensional Blasphemy worship. Seven Challices comes stocked with dark and freaky intros and outros, and a ridiculous guitar tone that creates an oppressive atmosphere. Impolite and evil.

Box Set: MAGMA - Studio Zünd
I don't feel the need to own many box sets as there are very few bands that maintain a level of quality throughout their career. When I caught wind of this being released, I waited a bit before ordering it. I finally grew some sack and dropped the loot over the summer, used off eBay. I totally lucked out and got it for $90. It quickly went out of print shortly after that and is now selling for more than twice that. I can't say it is anything I am ever going to sell though. My copy of MDK cost me $18 6 or 8 years ago. I bought it in NYC too. This is the entire studio output of Magma and it would be worth the $200 just to have all of them together. There is only one musical misstep and that would be 1982's 'Merci,' which is awful. If you ever wanted to hear Magma doing their own personal take on Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing" go for it. Aside from that, it is cover to cover genius. The only REAL drawback to it is the assembly of the separate packages themselves. The plenty thick booklets don't fit the packages very well. Still, it took me like 3 days to read all the liner notes. This was a fantastic effort. The only other box set I could see myself owning is maybe the 1970-1976 Genesis box, which I can get at Barnes and Noble. Where am I ever going to see something like this ever again?

Best reissue: Vulcano - Bloody Vengeance
My last blog post pretty much spelled out my complete and total admiration for this recording. Were it not for file sharing, this album would never have been heard by me and I would not have spent the money on it once I found it. I walked into Magnolia Thunderpussy in Columbus with EVERY hope of finding this, but no expectations. I almost squealed like a schoolgirl when I did. eBay and direct purchases from labels are cool, but I know when I enter "Darkthrone T Shirt" into the search function, I am going to see 18 different Tshirts of varying dubiousness come up. I pay the money and it shows up on my doorstep after a few days. It's a sure bet. The true rush of discovery only occurred when I found a faded Darkthrone logo shirt for $3 at the Salvation Army (true story BTW, it doesn't fit me now that I have a belly, so my girl wears it) I enter with the hopes of finding a true gem, and I kinda say to myself "I really hope I find XX item" but rarely do. I actually did NOT say anything to myself about hoping to find a Darkthrone shirt when I did, I just did and that was sweet. When I walked into Magnolia, I actually was thinking "Maybe they will have the reissue of Bloody Vengeance" and they DID. It was weird. The packaging is so-so. There isn't like useful liner notes or really kick ass biography of the band or anything. Just some fun, old photos and lyrics, but the fact that it exists (and I physically own a copy) rules everything. I will forego putting a little picture next to this since it was my last blog post.

Best Demo: Coffinworm - Great Bringer Of Night
I have gotten to be pretty tight friends with a couple of the guys in this band. That has no bearing on my feelings about this demo. I am a doom metal junkie and this album hits all the bases when it comes to doing modern doom metal right. I already posted this a few months back cuz it blew me away. Download it with all due haste. I've heard an unmastered final mix of the full length due out on Profound Lore in the coming months, and when it is released, I would recommend purchasing it with all due haste as well.

Best compilation: Demented Anthem Harcore Assemblage
Nightbringer has a track on this comp, which is why I got it. This is the only compilation I have purchased this year cuz I usually hate them. This one is sweet though. Every band puts a sick track on it. If you want to hear the best of American and Japanese hardcore, get this. I think Burai Core distro still has a few copies for order. Some crafty googling will achieve you results.

Honorable mentions:
Marduk - Wormwood (almost made it. Edged out by Seven Challices. Marduk didn't hit their stride until Plague Angel)
Beherit - Engram (Nuclear fukkin Holocausto!!! please tour!!!)
Wolves In The Throne Room - Black Cascade
Megadeth - Endgame (just for putting out a record that stands up to the early catalog)
Nile - Those Whom The Gods Detest (FAR better than expected)
Proclamation - Execration Of Cruel Bestiality (what the hell does that even mean?)
Diephago - Filipino Antichrist (roughest shit EVER)
Converge - Axe To Fall
Obscura - Cosmogenesis (I hate tech metal, but damned if this ain't a good listen, fantastic solos and a sense of melody and structure, while still being brutal as hell)
Impetuous Ritual - Relentless Execution of Ceremonial Excrescence (what the hell does THAT mean too?)

Onward to the year we made contact.