Monday, June 21, 2010

Speed Merchants: A Thrash Fanzine Vol. I

For a twenty-four page thrash fanzine found underneath my front passenger side tire, there is a certain sentimentality to Speed Merchants volume I. Sadly the sentimentality of finding something in a completely illogical place doesn't negate the fact that this fanzine is not very in-depth, has about seventeen minutes of interesting reading and just doesn't really delve into the emerging thrash scene all that well. It's a given that Bonded By Blood, Gama Bomb, Toxic Holocaust and Evile would be included and not at all that exciting to see Municipal Waste and Merciless Death listed also. Some bands are in fact appreciated such as Dekapitator and Decadence, mainly for the fact that they are not all that well known but I'm still not won over.

The zine is written by Terrorizer journalist Ian Webster. I'm not intimately familiar with Terrorizer, probably the most trend-obsessed hard rock magazine to exist, and I'm not familiar with Mr. Webster's writing but if this little magazine is anything to go by, he is more concerned with promoting the concept of "New Wave Of Thrash Metal" than promoting really good bands. Maybe it's just me but I've listened to Evile, Municipal Waste, Fueled By Fire etc. and "generic" is a more appropriate genre tag than "thrash" for these bands. Some people like generic though. This magazine just doesn't seem to expose anything other than what someone would discover trolling the internet threads for twenty minutes. It's got a cool layout, old school vibe - other than the bands - and is a REALLY quick read... it's just so surface. It does have four pages of demo reviews also but sixteen, one page interviews with no more than five questions each doesn't allow much room for a whole lot of banter. I think the best thing about the zine is that it might be named after a Razor track...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ancient Obliteration - Destruction From The Past

I don't know what the hell "street metal" is or is supposed to sound like but I DO know it has taken me one hell of a long time to decide how I feel about self proclaimed street-metallers Ancient Obliteration and their EP Destruction From The Past. In some respects it's a really interesting listen and in other places I can't find enough ceiling tiles to count. Yet in other places, I am left scratching my head till there are red streaks across my forehead where my index finger has left a permanent gaping wound. Destruction From The Past was released practically a year ago and contains five songs interluded with ambient sections and eerie moody atmospheres. Three of those songs are older and two are newer songs written and recorded with the current line-up of Geoff Olson (Vocals), Leslie Hurteau (Bass, Vocals), Jacob Absolon (Guitar) and Marcell Fraser (Drums).

What I think I find so confusing about this release is how Ancient Obliteration make it seem so vital to keep the ambient moody sections out of the real tracks and instead as just introductions to all the tracks. Not following? Haven't heard the disc? Of the five songs on display, each track is separated by an ambient introduction / filler track. A prime example of this would also be this year's 1349 album, Demonior, where 1349 have done the exact same thing. While Ancient Obliteration have make a conscious effort to remove all atmosphere from the tracks, 1349 have carried the moods into and across their songs. I side with the later in this case though if Ancient Obliteration did use some of that ambiance in their songs, the layering would create a strange effect of thrashy uneasiness. It would at least elevate the generally mediocre riffs into a territory that hasn't been explored much in thrash. I don't think the result would be unlike a very amateur Mithras.

Ancient Obliteration tackle subjects such as monsters, strange phenomenon and occasionally feel tempted to toss in some occult imagery. Basically a strange Japanese styled monster flick written by H.P. Lovecraft and backed by a thrash soundtrack. What I like about the way that Ancient Obliteration approach these subjects, which could easily sound tired and childish, is that they simply don't. There is enough care taken to prevent their themes from sounding like a gimmick and anyone who knows me also knows I don't find gimmick bands in the least bit enjoyable. Case and point - Ancient Obliteration sound way less forced and tired than at least a dozen nameable newer thrash bands talking about zombies and beer - coughGamaBombcough - or any band writing songs about red-bearded one legged pirates raping your mom and pillaging your meager and pathetic record collection on a mission to destroy all your other pirate themed metal.

With opening track "Tokyo Tower" paving the way with some subtle far-eastern influences (particularly in some of the percussion), the songs start of rather strong though "Of Wisdom and Madness" contains a main riff akin to watching a very chaotic washing machine and dryer doing battle. Leslie Hurteau's bass is also quite loudly mixed... everywhere... and overpowers other instruments. Cool Leads near the ending of the song make up for dueling appliances but only slightly. "Portal Beast" comes next and is almost my favorite song but it is performed a little too sloppily and just doesn't seem to flow as well as "Tokyo Tower" or my favorite track "Shogun." At times the vocals in this song seem like a total afterthought. Speaking of afterthoughts..."Defiler" is so forgettable that I almost forgot to even mention it though a pretty sick bass solo rounds out the track.

But "Shogun" makes this demo worth hearing. It has great intensity, urgency and most importantly, great riffs that make the other songs seem trite. The guitar solo is awesome. The track simply ends the release on a high-note. My only complaint comes with mixing. Leslie is once more a bit too loud for my tastes - heresy being a bassist myself I know - but at other times, the mixing is really good so, I don't know... The last forty or so seconds are my favorite moments of the whole release and are the closest Ancient Obliteration come to creating atmosphere within the songs themselves. While this song is really good, it also is so far superior in quality to other tracks that I wonder why some of the older songs would even be considered. Being a newer song, I would have loved to see more newer material on the disc (I'm willing to look past "Defiler" in a hope that other songs would be as good as "Shogun.") This all said, I'm not convinced the "street metal" tag will catch on or even makes sense at all, but I like the music these guys are conjuring and with some more time to ferment and more attention to details I'm pretty sure Ancient Obliteration will raise a few eyebrows.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Playlist - 06/09/10

Something like this:

01. Enforcer - Diamonds - Diamonds
02. Enforcer - Diamonds - Live For The Night
03. Enforcer - Diamonds - Midnight Vice
04. Primititve Graven Image - Traversing The Awesome Night - Design
05. Neftaraka - Raw Ist Law - The Knoll
06. Dio - Dream Evil - Night People
07. Dio - Dream Evil - All The Fools Sailed Away
08. Savage Death - Deadly Playground - Social D
09. Coroner - Punishment For Decadence - Skeleton On Your Shoulder
10. Coroner - Punishment For Decadence - Masked Jackal
11. Metal Inquisitor - Doomsday For The Heretic - Thane Of Cowder
12. Annihilator - Alice In Hell - Wicked Mystic
13. Razor - Evil Invaders - Iron Hammer *
14. Mystifier - Goetia - An Elizabethan Devil Worshipper's Spellbook *
15. Neglektum - Beyond The Frozen Mist - Beyond The Frozen Mist **
16. Faith Or Fear - Punishment Area - The Shadow Knows
17. Manowar - Defender EP - Gloves Of Metal
18. Overkill - Taking Over - ElectroViolence
18. Whiplash - Power And Pain - Spit On Your Grave
19. Eliminator - Breaking The Wheel - World Obliteration
20. Valkija - Avengers Of Steel - Son Of Thunder
21. Briton Rites - For Mircalla - The Right Hand Of Doom
22. Zeke - Devil's Island - Kill The King***
23. Znowhite - Act Of God - War Machine
24. Wolf - The Black Flame - Steelwinged Savage Reaper
25. War Master - Thrones Of Tyanny 7" - Undead War Machine
26. Watain - Sworn To The Black - Underneath The Cenotaph
27. Watchtower - Energetic Disassembly - Meltdown
28. Nyctophobia - Beyond The Pillars - War
29. Bolt Thrower - In Battle There Is No Law - Forgotten Existence
30. Dictator - Dysangelist - Sanctus

* Tony - Paterson (Thanks for listening and great requests!)
** Mahvtoole
*** I am never listening to you again Lumberjack

Monday, June 7, 2010

Decaying Citadel - Split Update

Check out the Decaying Citadel myspace page to hear a pretty terribly compressed Bathory cover which will appear on the upcoming split.