Monday, September 12, 2011

Undying - The Whispered Lies Of Angels

I hated alot of the hardcore kids in the 90's for trying to co-opt metal and get away with not calling it metal.  They'd call it "metalcore" or whatever, trying to somehow disinfect themselves so they could dress like they were cutting class from a suburban prep school, backpack and all, and go to the In Flames show and "dance hard." I thought it was a pretty thin sham of a style and (much like In Flames,) one of the great failings of the metal scene... and there was SO MUCH of it. There must have been a thousand identical records that came out between 1999 and 2005 that you really couldn't tell if it was Prayer For Cleansing or Soilwork (or Darkest Hour, or Dark Tranquillity...) and for every listenable one, there were 5 shitty ones that came out.  I won't name names (*koff koff*Trivium*koff), but if it came out on Tribunal, you were pretty guaranteed it was false metal.   There were some shining moments though and the first two Undying releases were all of them.  Undying released one EP and two full lengths throughout their career, and the final full length was lackluster.  It was another one of those faceless "guitarmony" records that were being spat out at the rate of a hundred a week and I've never made it through a full listen.

This post is in honor of the first full length though, "The Whispered Lies Of Angels," and just because there was still room in the 100mb limit for the upload, I added the EP, "This Day All Gods Die."

Undying featured well written and literate ethical vegan lyrics. Musically though, they were total unabashed Dissection worship.  Maybe not in the rhythm department, but definitely in the twin guitar attack.  I heard Undying first though, and even now revisiting them, if given the choice between the two, I'd probably still rather listen to Undying.  I don't dig breakdowns, but somehow, this band was able to make them work tastefully and they were not cheesy.  It was just good songwriting. They played here once. I really don't remember too many people showing up.  It was on the "Whispered Lies..." tour cycle.  They still had Timmy singing for them, who left shortly due to a diagnosis of throat cancer.  At some point in the show, the microphone broke, so he threw it against the wall and ran around the room, grabbing audience members and screaming the lyrics directly into their faces.  The performance was vicious and more metal bands needed to take heed of that energy. (that being said, since 2005, many have.)  All the corpse paint and spikes in the world couldn't supplant some true piss and vinegar.  Neither could passionless hairwhipping, a backline of expensive amps or gravity blasting.  These guys killed it without triggered drums, or picksweep arpeggios and even without a microphone at one point.  At the time, that was the reason I was more into hardcore groups like Undying and Catharsis rather than Dimmu Borgir or Dying Fetus.  The irony is that now, the 'false' hardcore bands are going for the big time marketing blitzes, merchandising and triggered drums and releasing completely uninspired albums on Roadrunner records that sell 10,000 copies, and Cradle Of Filth's last two albums have actually been kinda good.  Looks like everyone is meeting happily in the middle. 

Before As I Lay Dying, Unearth and The Black Dahlia Murder took an already piss-poor formula and pissed more poor into it, ONE band had it right, and in the process, introduced a lot of people to My Dying Bride through their untitled 'bonus' track.


OK, now that I am listening to it, the final album, "At History's End" isn't nearly as bad as I remembered it.  It just seemed to come out at a time when the style was completely (and remains to be) completely over saturated. It's definitely not as raw as the two I uploaded, but it still maintains the same energy.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Bloodsprayer

Blood Sprayer | Horror Movie News, Reviews Interviews, and MoreSo I'm writing for a horror webzine called "The Bloodsprayer." My buddy Wes contacted me to see if I wanted to do a piece on 70's Italian prog for their 2nd Annual "Italian Week" that they ran at the beginning of August.  Shortly thereafter, I was asked to be a contributing writer for them to expand their pallet into music fit for horror movies, but avoiding the usual Rob Zombie/Misfits/Psychobilly schlock that usually passes for a music section in most horror zines.  My first piece is sort of a complete rewrite of what I had written some years ago about the 1979 Univers Zero album, "Heresie."  Check it out here, and if you are a horror fan, check out everything on the site.  They have a lot of great writers and are constantly doing giveaways and contests as some of the writers are pretty tied in to the horror merch industry.

Univers Zero piece

Friday, July 15, 2011

I'm getting married.

I love this girl and I am marrying her next week. I don't get personal on the internet anymore, but this is a pretty major event and I might as well crow about it a little bit. She doesn't like her picture on the internet, but she'll get over it. This is my fiance.  She's wearing my old Darkthrone shirt. She stole it. I had to buy another so I could properly rep.  I don't think she is particularly fond of them, but she doesn't mind them like some of the crap I have played around her. The newer stuff is pretty acceptable in the car, as long as it isn't all blast beats. She's not into blast beats. She calls me Bunny.  We got an apartment together last August and we've been sweating bullets to pay for it because it is in an upscale suburban area that is 12 miles closer to the University she is attending. I've been working 2 jobs to make ends meet, but it's pretty nice to not have to hear gunfire throughout the night or worry about my car.  I make some money during the week as a proofreader in an office about 2 miles from here. I'd like to turn that someday into a freelance skill and actually do it for actual book publishers, but that's a pretty difficult field to crack.  It almost feels like a hobby. I'm sick for actually enjoying it I guess. When I was in high school, I had a hobby too. It was playing bass guitar. Now it's my weekend job and it's nearly no fun at all anymore. I never practice. I never touch a bass unless I am playing a professional gig. It's really sad and if my 13 year old self could see my 34 year old self, I would kick me in the balls and call me a fag and a poser. I won't make the distinction about which me is calling the names or who is getting kicked, because it could probably go both ways.  I haven't matured much.  Derogatory language and testicles are pretty much par for the course at any age.  I do still like the gig though.  I get to play music and keep my technique tight without obsessing over things.  I get to play all kinds of different styles.  I get to eat thousand dollar wedding cake every weekend. I'm not in a bar full of trashy people or drugs or having to listen to modern radio hip hop when we are on break.  There is usually coffee on hand, good coffee too.  It certainly has it's perks, but at the end of the day, it's still a wedding and I am wearing a tie and dress shoes.  People hire us so they can point at our song list and go "play that" and "play this" and "learn this terrible Toby Keith song because I love it and I'm horrible!"  We get asked if we play the electric slide at nearly every event. Like...live.  We get asked if we do any rap.  We get asked if we could do that 4 Non Blondes song and Sheryl Crow even though we are all dudes.  We get asked to play things that people don't even know the name of, the artist or even know the tune.  We get to the hall before the servers show up for work.  We get to leave well after they have all gone home. We roll in our own sound system, our own lighting rig and prepare a laser light show and we make that special day THAT much more special.

Next Saturday though, in the spray of Niagara Falls, the tables will be turned. The special day will be MINE.  The hunter will become the hunted (or whatever I'm trying to say.)  My fiance will take my unfortunate last name as her own and we'll swear some sort of eternal cosmic oath to one another and there will be flying babies playing trumpets and fawns dancing in a meadow made of cupcakes and Lawrence Welk bubble machines and stuff.  The wedding guests will slowly filter over to the reception hall where we have hired Darkthrone to play the reception.  Yeah, you heard that right.  No lie.  Fenriz and Ted are flying over to play their only show EVER since 1990 and it's going to be for my fucking wedding.  I love her that much that I make the impossible possible.  Move heaven and earth?  Fuck that, I got Darkthrone to play my wedding reception.  What's grandma gonna think?  Fuck her.  She can think "En Vind Av Sorg" for all I care.  You wanna do the cupid fucking shuffle?  Fuck you too.  You can dance it to "Summer Of The Diabolical Holocaust" just fine. This is a wedding singer's revenge for all the stupid fucking dreck I have had to learn, play or suffer through in the 4 years I've been doing it.  They're going to pull that corny "surprise move" and have a "special guest" join them onstage too... and it's gonna be the groom... ME!  I'm gonna play guest cowbell on "In The Shadow Of The Horns" and yell NOCTURNO CULTO! real loud right before Nocturno Culto starts singing. I'm really gonna yuck it up too, in exaggerated comic reference to the Saturday Night Live skit.  I'll be really drunk and inconsiderate at that point, and will likely fall over onto Ted's microphone stand and it may chip his tooth.  People kept asking me "Did you hire your own band to play your reception?" and I've been pretty evasive about answering that question.  Well, the answer is no.  I hired a band alright, but it's the most important band in the world since the Grateful Dead.  It's fucking Darkthrone and they will bring the house down with 2 decades of True Norwegian Black Metal.  I've even asked them to play some of the later "punk" stuff and their 2nd set will be a cover to cover performance of "Transylvanian Hunger."  I figure since it's all in one tempo, people will just assume it's disco. I had to tell the parents and grandparents that "They're like a cross between the Everly Brothers and the Average White Band."  They bit.  If anyone's curious, Nocturno Culto chose the prime rib option and Fenriz ordered the salmon for dinner.

I digress.  It's been a very good year.  My girl and I have both grown by leaps and bounds over the past 2 years and this couldn't come a moment too soon. I am still astounded that someone puts up with me and all my dumb CD's, guitar junk and endless blathering about obscure funk or death metal.  If you could all see the state I keep "The Mancave" in, you would know it could only mean love.  I have little faith in the concept of  "the soulmate."  I think there are alot of people in the world and it's all by accident of birth or circumstance to whom we are born to, who we meet throughout life and who works best together.  She and I just happened across the best combination in each other and marriage is such an insignificant step in the whole process of life.  We've been married for so long at this point, it's just a formality to us... a rather expensive formality.  We've both gotten into and out of and back into the spirit of things a few times.  I'm just happy to get it taken care of and I am happy that everyone is happy about it.  I'm happy she hasn't killed me.  I'm happy her cats like me.  I'm happy my band hasn't fired me for being an insufferable stress maniac for the past 3 months.  I'm happy about all the wonderful developments in the past few years for me.  I'm happy my father and I get along and almost understand one another.  I'm happy to get to Buffalo and get to meet my newborn niece for the first time.  I'm happy my entire family will be at my wedding.  I'm happy my fiance's family is actually making the drive as well (we live 5 hours from Buffalo, they live at least 7 hours.) I'm happy all this stuff is working out that I never assumed in my wildest dreams would ever work out for my hopeless clown ass.

...All except that Darkthrone bit, but a boy can wish can't he?



Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Seance - Saltrubbed Eyes + Fornever Laid To Rest

Underrated early 90's Swedish death metal brilliance.  What more do you need to know really?  I don't post alot of this stuff because it's fucking EVERYWHERE on the internet, but this band gets pretty short shrift in the profusion of fanboy jism surrounding (and coating) early 90's SWDM. When I bring them up, dudes always go "Oh yeah, I heard something from them once, it was really killer." No one really brings them up as an influence, you never see any bootleg T-shirts or patches from Mexico, and I don't think their 2009 return really shook anything up, though it WAS rather good.

Seance didn't make it's way onto my radar until after their second album, Saltrubbed Eyes was released.  Prior to that, it was pretty tough to make one band out from another in the great deluge of death metal releases that flooded the market between 1989 - 1992.  Saltrubbed Eyes, much like Samael's Ceremony Of Opposites, is one of those albums that will always stand alone for it's completely unique production style.  The bass is so forward in the mix, you almost can't make out the guitars at times.  I don't know if it's a result of EQing, shelving or a distortion pedal or what, but it absolutely works in the mix and makes for a kick ass album that sounds like it is going to rip your throat out 100% of the time.  I heard it on the college radio station around here and NEVER forgot the sound of that album.  I wore out a cassette copy and by the time I got a CD player, it was pretty hard to find.  It was one of the first albums I downloaded when I figured out how and it has always remained at the top of my list.  I strive to write riffs as heavy and as gripping as the opening of "13th Moon." 

Seance's debut album, "Fornever Laid To Rest," at the time was a pretty unremarkable release, just because it was one of a hundred records that year all trying for the same market share.  It featured the same Dan Seagrave cosmic horror thing going on for the cover and in the US it was damn near unavailable.  I think I saw one copy of it once and I don't remember seeing anything in any magazines about it.  I wasn't able to actually listen to it until I could download it some years later.  I eventually scored copies of both CD's on Ebay and they will have to be pried from my cold dead hands.  Surprisingly, they were NOT $80, more like $10 apiece.  Maybe no one was looking that week?  Either way, this album quickly rose to the top of my heap of favorites of early 90's Swedish death.  At the time though, it didn't have a weird production job or anything really to make it stick out of the pack, and that's a shame because it is a completely merciless album.  I don't think it's as heavy as Saltrubbed Eyes, but it should have been further ahead of the pack than it was.  I think it may have had more to do with the fact that Black Mark probably didn't have much in the way of distribution in the US, or much cash to promote it.  Around that time, Seance was probably hoping for table scraps from the label in the wake of the release of  "Hammerheart."  Still, both records (and 2009's "Awakening Of The Gods") are completely unfuckwithable death metal albums that should get WAAAY more attention than they do.  I've uploaded both of Seance's 90's albums in one .rar for your pleasure.  Hopefully someday they get their fair due, or at least a nice reissue. ...And yes, that's no typo, the first album is actually called ForNEVER Laid To Rest.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Murmuüre - Murmuüre

Wow, this is shockingly refreshing. I have no idea where I ran across this, because it was several weeks ago and it has been sitting in my ipod for awhile.  I finally checked it out expecting either some kind of harsh black metal basement recording or maybe a lost Grateful Dead bootleg as the cover might suggest. I really don't know what to write about it other than it's awesome. 

 I'll spare you the indignity of re-reading what the Aquarius Records guys had to say about it.  For once, they were right on though.  This is a fantastic little labor of love on the part of an anonymous auteur  He does not identify himself, but he does not keep himself hidden either as there is a blogspot and a website for this project.  This lone 2009 release has been in print twice both as a cassette and a CD and is about to be in print again on vinyl.  I just discovered it recently and it's a stunner.  Somewhere along the way, it got classified as black metal, but it really isn't.  It's more along the dark industrial soundscape path, but it's no "dark ambient" snooze either. There is an evident black metal influence, but it's really only through the sparse guitar work which was sourced from a single improvisation that was recorded in 2006.  Beyond that, it's just dark music. 

I am an avid appreciator of stuff like Einsturzende Neubaten, Throbbing Gristle and early Laibach, but it's not really stuff I can get into on a regular basis.  I enjoy the adventurousness of it, but it rarely comes off as "successful" to me.  I guess I just don't get it.  I'm not ashamed, I just think it goes nowhere and people who really think they understand where guys like that are coming from are just assholes, especially if you were born after 1988.  Music like this is not made to connect with an audience, it's there for the benefit of catharsis for the artist.  This seems to be successful, at what, I am not sure.  There is a sense of satisfaction I get listening to it that I just don't get from many other "sound collage" type artists.  I still don't understand it, but I don't have to, I'm just lucky enough to get to enjoy it.

There is a musicality to this project, unlike any of the comparisons that have been thrown at it.  The closest musical cousin I can find to it would be early COIL or This Heat, only without vocals.  It's a pastiche of dark sounds that work in collusion together to make some of the most gripping music I have heard in a very long time.  In total, it's 28 minutes of music and it will probably be the first, last and only thing that Murmuüre ever releases because it took so much for him to complete it. I would not begrudge him that. If this is the only recorded legacy of this project, at least it's brilliant. I would begrudge him, however, if this was never to be released again aside from on the extremely limited run releases.  Hopefully it has a long life through the internet.

Murmuüre may be an anonymous project, but it's far from hidden.  The album can be downloaded from the bandcamp page and you can provide a donation for what you think it is worth. I found a download link and will be making a donation in kind at some point myself simply because this isn't some faceless record I am only going to listen to once.

listen and download it here, and don't be a dick about it.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Corrosion Of Conformity - Technocracy

 I'll make no secret that I am a huge fan of the metal/hardcore crossover years during the mid-80's. Nothing from that era tops this EP though.  Plenty has been said or written about how the mixture of metal and hardcore was the death of hardcore, I like to think of it as a logical continuation of two bloodlines that were so close to one another, it was inevitable.  It's all metal to me anyways.  Listen to an AC/DC record at 78 and it's basically D-Beat.  The Cro-Mags jacked Iron Maiden riffs... and neither punk nor skin nor hessian alike can deny the influence of Motörhead.  Before there were blogs or MP3's or streaming audio, your only chance to hear something new was to trade tapes.  I was hoodwinked in a shady deal one night by a scurrilous ne'er-do-well and lost my copy of the new FULL LENGTH album from Testament called "Souls Of Black" for this CASSETTE EP that repeated on both sides of the tape. Was I ever a dumb kid.  Unwise in the ways of commerce and bartering.  I mean... Souls Of Black was a slick new full length and they had a video on MTV!  What was I thinking?  Since it happened though, I could care less about Testament. 
Technocracy was a funny sounding recording where the singer couldn't even keep up with the band cuz there were so many words. I was completely floored by the sense of urgency and the mania of it all. I learned this album on bass inside and out and can still play all 13 minutes of it to this day, all the fills and everything.  Mike Dean is one of my favorite bass players of all time and I am super excited that the three piece lineup is touring the early material again. Who knows how long it will last though before Pepper Keenan decides it's time for him to rejoin the band (ugh) and they continue down that sorry fucking path. Of their early "hardcore" years, this was the apex of their powers.  I totally lost interest when they went 'alterna-southern metal' but it was cool to see those same playful young lads shown goofing outside their van on back cover getting some very big recognition.  (I WILL go to bat for "America's Volume Dealer" being a totally underrated album.)  I still have this cassette and for some reason I can't remember, I scanned the cassette cover at one time and still had the jpg on my hard drive.  I took these tracks from the out-of-print remastered CD that came out several years ago.  I didn't include the bonus "demo" versions of the songs because they were not included on the original release and for some reason, I was just not into the lack of continuity.  I'm usually really into all the extra crap that makes its way onto reissued records, but there is an immediacy to the original 5 tracks that I still find totally intriguing to this day.  The tone of this record is completely singular.  Nothing can be added to it or taken from it, but I sure wish they wrote more stuff like this, or there were other bands that wrote this stuff.  It's brutal hardcore punk one minute, then it's Sabbath/Celtic Frost heavy the next minute, then there's a Skynyrd-meets-Greg Ginn guitar solo that you can't tell if it's in tune or not.  I still think the recording is one of the coolest sounding records ever.

The hungry child worships... no more

Friday, July 1, 2011

Wayne Shorter - Schizophrenia

Just listening to this album now.  I'm a big jazz fan and people just don't talk about jazz very much anymore it seems, on the internet or anywhere else.  I'm sure this will have much less traffic than some weird obscure black metal or something.  For people that don't know, Wayne Shorter was Miles Davis's tenor sax player in his second great quintet.  If you don't care about that fact, then you need some culture in your life.  There was a time when musicians played actual instruments in studios whose job it was to record music, not to make anyone sound any better than they actually were.  Back then, musicians were THE BEST.  Wayne Shorter was no slouch when it came to playing.  He never played a solo where he didn't have something to say, but more importantly, his compositions were spectacular.  They went beyond what most of the "hard-bop" scene was doing, which was, for the most part, blues based.  Shorter's playing and style is heavily steeped in blues tradition, but his songwriting took musicians to places they were not used to going.  The best musicians really LOVE challenge and CRAVE it and back then, music and musicians were still pretty important to the music industry, so when a guy came along and wrote great stuff that both musicians AND the record buying public were into, it was fireworks.

Schizophrenia is a high water mark of the later 60's Blue Note catalog.  Blue Note was slipping sales wise by this point.  The entire jazz community was losing steam behind the rock output of the era.  Jazz, as a whole was also losing face with the record buying public behind the "free" explosion.  Albert Ayler and Ornette Coleman had already made their greatest statements almost 8 years before and lots of "legitimate" players decided they would grow their hair out and wear a dashiki and release a few skronky records to keep up with the young lions.  In 1968, it was a little risky for Wayne Shorter to be sticking closely to rhythm and chord changes, but he held to what he loved doing rather than jump on some freaknik bandwagon and Blue Note records supported whatever decision their artists made, cuz they were righteous.  Not that Shorter didn't have an ear towards the freer, as one could deduce from portions of albums like "The All Seeing Eye" or bits of the last tune on this album, Playground, where the band seemingly flies totally apart at one point, only to slam back together in perfect time.  More evidence that musicians back in the day were just THE BEST.  I guess when you didn't have video games to play or blogs to tend to, all there was to do was to get super rad at an instrument and then go to a studio where the engineers only had to push record and mix.

I love this guy.  I've even own his biography.  I could never get behind Weather Report, (and as a bassist, believe you me, I tried.  I could go off about how I think fusion sucks, but I'd rather spend my time on this blog writing about what's awesome) but still, his body of work is just amazing.  Schizophrenia stands up tall next to his earlier masterpieces like Hear No Evil and Juju. I jacked that link from a google search so if you have to use a password, tough nuts.  I have other things to do with my day than babysit Mediafire.

Gathiens - Nesh

This is an album I fell in love with some years ago.   We were making dinner the other night and I got struck by the urge to listen to it again for the first time in a long time. It always has the same affect on me too, it makes me bummed that it's over when the last song ends.  It's just one of those records.  For my money, that is the PERFECT album length too so I am not complaining.  Better than a demo or an EP, but not some 70 minute sprawl that just drags on and on.  Brevity is the goal when it comes to instrumental music. This is for fans spaced out math rock like Slint, Tristeza, or maybe some later EARTH or My Bloody Valentine?  There is also a heavy black metal influence in the songwriting.  Don't expect blast beats, but I know the guy who writes this stuff and he is all over some Alcest/Amesoeurs, Peste Noire and Leviathan.  This ISN'T metal though.  I was in the band for a short time when the mastermind behind the group moved to town to house-sit over the summer of 2008.  An attempt was made to create a live lineup for the group and it failed for various reasons.  There is an entire second album of material that has been recorded too that has not been released.  It's being RE-recorded now by the original lineup of the group, who also failed for various reasons.  At this point, the band hasn't played live in several years.  I may have been present at the last actual live performance that was given at a basement show some years back.  It was ten degrees below zero outside and said mastermind was loading his equipment into the house and wearing flip flops.  How grim is that?

I haven't updated this blog in months.  I probably haven't even looked at it in 2-3 months.  I just haven't had time.  I don't know how some of those blog guys post stuff 3 or 4 times a day. Good for them I guess. I've got alot of stuff on my plate right now.  I'm getting married in 3 weeks, so that is keeping me really busy and broke.  My 2 jobs are running at full steam right now.  I have the first original band I have played with since June 2010 coming together too.  Super excited about that.  I won't leave you with too many details, but it's headed towards being the best project I have ever been a part of.  There's 3.5 songs so far. It's dark stuff and it's not metal.  We're hopefully gonna be recording in the next month or so, as soon as we decide we have enough suitable material for a 12" EP.  Looking towards pressing vinyl with download and all that rot.  Still no band name or anything like that.  As soon as we get all that stuff together and a bandcamp page, I'll post all that stuff here.

I keep saying I am going to post more stuff here, and I swear I will work to be a more active blogger.

For now, you get NESH