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.


Sean said...

I was wondering if there was any chance you could upload a FLAC rip of the Nightmare CDs and the Death Side CDs you posted a while back? I typically don't go around asking people to do that sort of thing but those releases are some of my favorites and I'd really like to get my hands on a lossless copy. I'd track em down and buy them myself but as I'm sure you know they're not exactly affordable. If you don't know how to make FLAC rips I can give you some links that explain every little detail, it's pretty easy, provided you have the CD.

Sorry for making such an off topic comment. I wasn't certain if this would be seen if I posted it in the original posts.

Unknown said...

Thank you for another outstanding post. Been following your blog for some time now and it's got me enthused about a whole range of stuff. Your writing is always incisive, terse and makes for gripping reading even when i have no idea about the bands. Through you i've discovered goatsnake, pearls and brass, discordance axis, all bands i've grown to love. Thanks.

nothingwheel said...

Mr: Thanks for the kind words. I see the Mediafire numbers rise, but I rarely get to see testimony that people actually care and take notice. I'm glad I am succeeding in getting deserving recordings to a few more ears.

Sean: I can see what I can do, I have never tried to monkey with lossless. I'll look into it. Miraculously, yes, I do have the CD's of the Deathside and Nightmare stuff I posted. I lucked into the Nightmare discs on eBay, one of those weeks when no one was looking I guess. I don't have a whole lot of time lately, but I will try and do what I can.

The Deathside 2CD turned up in the Burai Core distro a little over a year ago. If you are in the US, BC is a good source for Japanese punk and hardcore. He TRIES to keep his prices down.

Post your email in a comment. I'll be the only one that sees it.

Papst Benedikt XVI said...

my old band's 1st shirt design was a spoof of the Bolt Thrower cover which said " In Traffic Jam There's No Law" on the front and "Fuck Slow Music" on the back!