Friday, August 23, 2013

Wizard Castle - Snow and Gold

Wizard Castle is the type of band name that just screams “this is stoner doom.” Surprisingly, the band’s debut demo is thrashy heavy metal and only the reverberating clean vocals meet the doom expectation. Aside from being momentarily thrown off by the name, there isn’t too much here to remember the band by. However, one particularly good aspect in the overall bland music is the singing: reverb on top of almost punky cadences that often terminate in soaring yells. This gives a simultaneous smoothness and rough edge to the music that pulls things together wonderfully.

Immediately, the band stumbles in the opening song “Bone Reader” by not including any of these strong vocals. Rather than an intro or instrumental track, the recurring gallops and plodding chord progressions make this feel like there were supposed to be vocals. When a song comes across as incomplete, it can’t make much of an impact. Another example of this is in the last four minutes of “(Destroying) the Hive Mind” which similarly lacks the vocal’s guiding direction. Wizard Castle needs more singing, and you can clearly hear how well the singing compliments the riffs in “Cobra Death.” This is a short song but has the best pacing because simple riffs are paired with vocal lines, and we have a solo towards the end. Such attention to structure is not something we have throughout the demo. Even the three and a half minute long song “10,000 Sword Salute” transitions from riff to solo and back with all the mundane energy and vigor of an accountant moving from number to number.

While an all right effort, “Snow and Gold” also is lacking in the production department. This isn’t just an issue of mere scratchiness, but rather a failure to meld instruments together. An inability to connect the bass and guitar together thins and guts the demo’s ability to be memorable. One way bands get heavy tones is through combining the bass and guitar. Skinny diet-guitars aren’t inherently a problem, but the band relies so much on heavy simple riffs, that they just can not cut it here. When listening to this demo, keep in mind that the band has two guitar players and a bass player, because it almost never sounds that way. 

This is mostly a production problem because of how the clean bass sounds disjointed against the guitars, as if it was intended to be used in a prog-metal band. Combine this with a Steve Harris style pop on the bass multiplied by three, and we suddenly have a really awkward rhythm section that distracts from the melody rather than complementing or supplementing it. Despite the production there is still a problem here - bass guitar composition. The bass is an elderly family member shuffling around the kitchen during dinner. Everyone knows gramps is doing something aimless, but they continue with dinner and he fades into the background even with his weird yet uninteresting behavior.

Most of the issues on “Snow and Gold” are things the band could easily tweak to bring future releases up a notch in quality. Wizard Castle’s biggest hurdle will be resolving song structure and composition issues, which unfortunately tend to be chronic.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Hivelords - Cavern Apothecary

Both Hivelords' debut, The Cellar Scrolls, and their follow up EP, Grand Cromlech, were ominous and foreboding beacons of dread. The steamy layers of sodden filthy melodies portrayed fears of all sorts of crawling and creepy memories of spiders bursting with offspring, locusts swarming closets of children and the forgotten and unfathomable species of deep and dark crevices. Kevin North, the versatile lead vocalist spits and chews his way through the esoteric subject matters of being one with larvae and he is in full form on their new album, Cavern Apothecary. Where the debut and follow up EP were mostly saturated in an uneasy suffocating dampness, I get the impression that Cavern Apothecary presents a dryer environment and atmosphere populated by beetles and insects-that-go-crunch underfoot instead of the squishy and milky kind of sinews exhibited on "...Scrolls" and "...Cromlech." Hivelords prove they are interested in presenting all forms of miniature horror, no matter how many legs or thoraxes the creatures that make up their aesthetics are made of.

Considering the strength of the songs here, I would argue that Hivelords are positioning themselves to be a major force in the coming years. Opening track "Atavus Lich" is one of the most perfect black metal / sludge / doom tracks I've heard in quite the expanse of time. Highly memorable, precisely produced, the sandy production and grainy atmosphere perfectly suit the dark and dreadful track which includes excellent vocals from North. Where on the first two albums, there was an element of experimentation, there is no more experimentation here; North knows exactly what he is doing, why he is doing it, and what he wants to add to each track. Experimentation is only experimentation when you don't know if something will work. This works. This works hard. "Atavus Lich's" middle section, a rumbling cavernous murk, highlights production qualities which render the combination of Jason Jenigen's percussion and Tyler Butler's bass playing to mimic shaking earth and billowing dust storms. Will Rollem's songwriting is impeccable. Speaking with him at a gig, he came off indifferent about how the songs come about but admitted that he does a lot of the writing. Wherever the songs come from, there is some genius at play here.

With the opening of second song, "Antennae Manifest," a slower intro and song in general, Hivelords prove they've hit their stride in terms of creating their own brand of metal. With constantly evolving structures, interesting and unexpected turns in arrangement - such as a sludgy triad based lead which serves as the song's climax. I'm reminded of the awesome ant and insect related 1974 movie Phase IV, made popular - maybe - by it's inclusion in the first season of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Not only is the music on Cavern Apothecary strangely reminiscent to Brian Gascoigne's minimalist score, but also the album art bears a striking resemblance to many scenes in Phase IV's memorable man vs nature / human ignorance vs insect intelligence thriller.

Following the faster and and slightly less interesting title track, is the album's longest track, "The Growing Overwhelm." To compare to another forgotten 1974 movie, the song starts with a monologue worthy of Zardoz. While not as comedically arousing as a giant stone head chanting about how "The Penis is evil! The Penis shoots Seeds!" we get an explanation of how, for some creatures, the shade is their life-giving light - a correlation to the sun's importance in the lives of humans. At least that's how I took it. Either way, "...Growing" is probably the most sludgy and doomy of the tracks here, with less black metal tremolo picking - though not none, of course - and more long drawn out monolithic chords. The chunky, massive bass tone is clearly on display at moments and is a beautiful example of how to use bass distortion and overdrive: a monstrous heaving heft of low-end caked in rough and crystalline swirling haze. With "The Auraglyph," Hivelords have what I would state as an Anthem. The memorable melodic movement and straight forward percussion rhythms provide a march-like dirge. Live, this is an excellent track to lose your sense of location, mind and awareness too. Like all of Cavern Apothecary's tracks, there is a deep undertone of the Southwestern US in the chosen melodies the same way in which Earth's Hex: Or Printing The Infernal Method had outright desert and canyon overtones. The Auraglyph has the most prominent desert feel of the five tracks but the vibe drifts through all the tracks. A release like this from other bands without a back catalog would normally be classified as luck of the draw but with the solid foundation Hivelords had set for themselves, I don't believe we are witnessing one-time excellence here. This is a necessary listen in my eyes for anyone proposing a best of list this year and If I were making my own list, I very much doubt this wouldn't make an appearance.

Avulse - I Am the Liquor

Avulse is a one man band from the same one man as Black Chalice - a doom/death band that I enjoyed. That will be the last mention of enjoyment in this review, because Avulse is really bad.

The titles here seem to suggest that the music is fueled by alcohol - unsurprising, as I wouldn't believe you if you told me that this was recorded while sober. The drum machine ticks away, mostly at faster paces for the first half of the album, and the faster it goes, the worse it exposes the laughably sloppy guitar work. While the short, punkish songs make up the first half, the album slows down for half of the eight-minute track, making the sloppiness less outwardly apparent until the drums speed up and once again make it apparent that this album was probably improvised while drunk. The vocals add little either, they're bland rasps with a bunch of reverb that lack any distinction and almost blend into the noise of the guitars in a single, pitiable chaotic roar.

This is some sort of mix of black metal and crust punk, losing the strengths of both while blending them. It doesn't have the aggression and energy of punk, and the chaotic element doesn't come across as uncontrolled energy, it just comes across as being a sloppy, amateur performance. Missing is the reckless passion of punk, remaining is only the problems of not knowing any better that can be excused if the music has that burning passion. The concentration and focus that crafts the atmosphere of black metal is also sorely absent, the feeling seems to be a lazy collage of distortion and reverb that emulates the general approach to recording black metal without any thought to the elements that shape the experience that it enhances. Said simply, the riffs suck and the atmosphere sucks. If the feeling of good black metal is a burning fire and the stench of death in a sacrificial ritual, this is the smell of someone striking a match and trying to light a fart wafting in from another room.

If this guy is the liquor, I'll take a beer, please.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Orion_M: Personal Want List

This is my personal want-list. Items that are in italics are most desired. I am willing to offer money for any of these items. Preferably first presses though please let me know what pressing stuff is so I can make sure I don't have it already. This list will be refined over time. Numbers indicated I'm looking for multiple quantities of this item - for prospective buyers or friends. Found items crossed out with date acquired.


Abaddon - Abaddon
Advocate - Advocate
Aftermath - Masters of Disaster
Aftershock - Live Deathshock Tour 1987
Aftershock - Till Death Do Us Part
Aggressive Intent - Demo 1987
Almighty - Cries of Prey (Originally from Philippines)
Ambush - Ambush Demo
Ambush - Ambush
Amulet - Welcome to Fun
Aneurism - Demo 1994
Animosity - Demo I
Apollyon - Driving While Intoxicated
Ashes To Ashes - Rain
Astoroth - Demo 1989
Astoroth - Infinite Paths of the Maze
Attacker - Demo '84
Attacker - Demo '86
Autumn Silence - Winter's Calling
Autumn Silence - Echoes In The Garden
Balistik Kick - Balistik Kick
Balistik Kick - Balistik Kick Demo
Belial - Scarred For Life
Belial - Promo 1992
Belial - Strategy Is Everything
Bleed - At Peace With My Madness
Blessed Death - 1984 Demo
Blessed Death - 1985 Demo
Blessed Death - Kill or Be Killed
Blessed Death - Destined for Extinction
Blessed Death - Terminal Rage
Blessed Death - Live Rage
Blood Feast - Face Fate
Blood Feast - Chopping Block Blues
Blood Lust - Suicidal Mission
Brute Force - No Frills Demo
Brute Force - You've Been Warned
Brute Force - Fight To Survive
Brute Force - Promo Tape
Canonical Destruction - No Escape Is Known
Carnage - Reh. 89
Cerberus - Infernal Creations
Cerebral Hemorrhage - Demo 86
Cerebral Hemorrhage - Multiple Trauma
Chalice - One Final Sin
Chemical Waste - Life's A Bitch
Condemned - Seeking Power
Condemned - Crush The Weak
Condemned - Promo 92
Corpse - Demo 1985
Corpse - Corpse of Destruction
Cosmic Hurse - Evacuation Of The Bowels
Cosmic Hurse - Life Burns Me Out / Dystopia Split (Discordance Axis / Cosmic Hurse)
Cremation - Chaos and Termoil
Cremation - Final Doom
Cryptic Realm - Into The Realm
Cryptic Void - Inception
Cyanide - World Peace Six Feet Under Demo
Cyanide - World Peace Six Feet Under
Cypruss - Nothing Sacred
Damnability - Demo 1989
Damnability - Demo 1990
Damnability - Demo 1992
Damonacy - From Within
Damonacy - Therapeutic Morbidity Demo
Damonacy - Therapeutic Morbidity EP
Danzig - Demo
Danzig - Twist of Cain
Danzig - Killer Wolf
Danzig - Selections from Danzig II - Lucifuge
Danzig - Danzig VHS
Danzig - Her Black Wings
Danzig - Danzig Lucifuge: The Video VHS
Danzig - Death Had No Name
Danzig - How The Gods Kill Demo
Danzig - Dirty Black Summer
Danzig - It's Coming Down
Danzig - Mother '93 Single
Danzig - Thrall
Danzig - Thrall Demonsweatlive
Danzig - Until You Call On The Dark
Danzig - Mother
Danzig - 4p
Deadly Blessing - Demo 1987
Deadly Blessing - Ascend From The Cauldron
Deadly Blessing - Deadly Blessing
Deadly Blessing - Demo
Deadly Blessing - Psychol Drama
Deaththrash - Faces of Death
Defcon - First Strike
Demize - Krypt Of Flesh
Denial - Disliked
Department of Corruption - Hanging Material
Department of Corruption - Poverty Stricken
Deranged - Demo
Deranged - Relapse
Desecrator - Skullfest
Deteriorot - Demo 92
Deteriorot - Rehearsal Demo 93
Deteriorot - Manifested Apparitions of Unholy Spirits
Dirge - Demo 1986
Dirge - Soulstorm
Dirge - Dirge Matrix EP
Dirge - Fleshcrawler
Dirge - Ox Faces The Facts #3 Split (Dirge / Cry of Terror)
Discordance Axis - Life Burns Me Out / Dystopia Split (Discordance Axis / Cosmic Hurse)
Discordance Axis - Discordance Axis / Capitalist Casualties Split
Discordance Axis - Hellchild / Discordance Axis Split
Discordance Axis - Def Master / Discordance Axis Split
Double Cross - I Like It Hot / Are You Ready To Rock 
Dyers Eve - Masque Has Now Begun
Dyers Eve - The Meaning Of Death
Elysium - Tortura
Elysium - Coal Black
Elysium - Smoke and Mirrors
Eminence - The Quest For Immortality
Endangered Species - Endangered Species
Endangered Species - Overstepping the Boundaries
Eternal Aggression - Beyond The Crypt
Eternity - Never Ending Dream
Eternity - After The Silence
Eternity - Zodiac
Eternity X - Zodiac
Ether Breather - Death Dream
Evoken - Shades of Night Descending Demo (2)
Evoken - Embrace The Emptiness
Exxplorer - Demo
Exxplorer - Recipe For Power
F. C. A. - Blow It Out Your Hole
Face Down - Before My Eyes Demo
Faith or Fear - Demo 1986
Faith or Fear - Demo of Fear
Faith or Fear - Dehumanize
Faith or Fear - Faith or Fear
Fantom Warior - Morbid Invasion
Fantom Warior - Fantasy or Reality
Farley's Ritual - Evil In Your Heart
Faust - Demo 90
Fossem Eeve - Demo 90
Frost Bite - Frost Bite
Frost Bite - Icy Hell
Funerus - Demo 1992
Future Rage - You Saw It coming... Now Its Here
Gaffed - A Meal Of Gore
Gargoyle - Unleashed
Gargoyle - Violence is Golden
Glenn Danzig - Black Aria
Godspeed - Acid Face / Time Bomb
Godspeed - Houston St. / Stubborn Ass
Godspeed - Ride Single
Godspeed - Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
Godspeed - Ride
Gomez's Childhood - 1994 Demo
Gomez's Childhood - Generation X Demo
Gothic Slam - Killer Instinct
Gothic Slam - Just A Face In The Crowd
Grim Legion - Beyond the Grave
Grim Legion - Grim Legion
Grim Legion - Of Hell
Hades - Demo 1
Hades - Demo 2
Hades - Deliver Us From Evil (Single)
Hades - Demo At Fox Studios
Hades - The Cross / Widow's Mite
Hades - If At First You Don't Succeed....
Hades - Live On Location
Hades - Metal Beat Messiahs Split (Hades / Thunderhead / Nightshade)
Hades - Savior Self
Hari Kari - Hari Kari
Hari Kari - Hair Kari II
Harter Attack - Demo 86
Harter Attack - Demo 87
Harter Attack - Salt In The Wound
Harter Attack - Demo 1988
Harter Attack - Hate
Harter Attack - Human Hell
Hatred - Demo 85
Hatred - Rehearsal
Hatred - Drowning in Afterbirth
Hatred - Mindless
Hawkfire - Demo 1
Hawkfire - Demo 2
Hawkfire - Demo 3
Haven - Your Dying Day
Haven - Age of Darkness
Haven - Straight From The Cutting Room Floor
Headlock - It Found Me
Heathen's Rage - Fight Til The End
Heathen's Rage - Heathen's Rage EP
Heathen's Rage - Demo 1988
Hostile Force - The Sickness
Hostile Rage - Vol. 1
Hostile Rage - On The Rampage
Hostile Rage - Adrenalin Flow
Hostile Rage - Furious Brutal Loud
Hostility - Soon, Comes The Return
Human Remains - Demo I
Human Remains - Demo 2
Human Remains - Admirations Most Deep and Foul
Human Remains - Demo 3
Incinerate - Incinerate Demo 1990
Incinerate - Incinerate Live Demo
Inebriation - Only The Faithless
Insaniac - Screams from the Asylum
Insaniac - Psychomania
Insaniac - At Large
Insaniac - Plead Insanity
Insaniac - Media Lies
Insaniac - Demo 11/90
Insidious Threat - A Verdict
Instant Death - Instant Death
Instigation - Raw 
Intense Mutilation - Express Yourselves
Intense Mutilation - Poser Sacrifice
Intense Mutilation - In Tenths Mutilation
Intense Mutilation - Blowin In The Wind
Intense Mutilation - Safe Sex
Intuition - Demo
Issachar - Medieval Death Hymns
Jackhammer - Lethal Injection Demo
Jackhammer - Chainsaw Love
Jarra - Two Evils
Jersey Dogs - Don't Worry, Get Angry
Jersey Dogs - Thrash Ranch
Jersey Dogs - '93 Demo
Judgement - Demo 1990
Judgement - Infernal Reality
Kidd Gloves - Feel The Fire
Killigy - Demo 88
Korrupt Insanity - Night of the Dead
Koven - False Messiah
Krieg - Rise of the Imperial Hordes
Kryst The Conqueror - Deliver Us From Evil
Last Remains - Demo 1991
Last Remains - Grasp For Existence
Latshaw - Pain Immaculate
Lethal Aggression - From The Cunt Of The Fucking Whore
Lethal Aggression - Just Killed Rock N Roll
Lethal Aggression - Life Is hard... But That's No Excuse
Lethal Aggression - Subliminal Erosion
M. C. Blade - Step Into The Light
Machine Dog - Sic 'em
Machine Dog - Prescription of Sickness
Majeste - The Time Just Before
Malfactor - Demo 1994
Mass Psychosis - Face
Mass Psychosis - Goremachine / Vomiting The Trinity Split (Mass Psychosis / Exterminance)
Massacaust - B.L.A.C.K
Mastermind - Mastermind - Volume I
Mastermind - Mastermind - Volume II Brainstorm
Mastermind - Mastermind - Volume III Tragic Symphony
Meltdown - Fall Of Man
Mercenari - Promo 1989
Mercenari - Demo 1989
Metal Disciples - Demo
Methadrine - Meth Til Deth
Methadrine - Crawl... Before You Walk
Michael Romeo - The Dark Chapter
Midian - The Last War
Midian - First Impression
Midian - The Institute Of Audio Research
Mind Eraser - Mind Eraser
Mindfunk - Big House Burning
Mindfunk - Touch You
Mindfunk - Rock Power Magazine Presents Split (Alice in Chains / Mindfunk)
Mindfunk - Mindfunk
Mindfunk - Dropped
Misery - Cries From The Dark
Misery - Flirt With Insanity
Morbid Sin - The Arrival of the Sin
Morbid Sin - Cauldron of Souls
Morgophobia - Morgophobia Demo
Mortal Decay - Dawn of Misery
Mortal Decay - Grisly Aftermath
Mortuary - Rehearsal Demo 1988
Mortuary - Infernal Torment
Mucky Pup - Can't You Take A Joke
Mucky Pup - A Boy In A Man's World
Mucky Pup - Now
Mucky Pup - Act of Faith
Mucky Pup - Lemonade
Mucky Pup - Alive and Well
Necrosis - Demo 1991
Necrosis - The Prophet of Carnage
Nemesis - Pain (The Equalizer)
New Minority - White, Straight and Proud
Nocturnal Crypt - Demo
Nocturnal Crypt - Recrudescence of...
Nocturnal Crypt - Rehearsal 89
Nocturnal Fear - Nocturnal Fear
Nocturnal Fear - Spontaneous Combustion
Non-Fiction - Demo 1988
Non-Fiction - Non Fiction EP
Non-Fiction - Preface
Non-Fiction - In The Know
Northwinds - Sleep With Evil (5/6/14)
O. L. D. - Old Lady Drivers
O. L. D. - Total Hag
O. L. D. - Colostomy Grab Bag
O. L. D. - Demo 1990
O. L. D. - Assuck / O. L. D. Split
O. L. D. - Lo Flux Tube
O. L. D. - Hold On to Your Face Remixes
O. L. D. - The Musical Dimension of Sleastak
Obliterator - Demo 1992
Obliviax - I Know What You're After
Oblivion - Oblivion
Oblivion - Intention To Kill
Oblivion - Back To Maim
Oblivion - Intoxicated With Agony
Oblivion - War Gives Me Piece of Mind?
Oblivion - Why Did Johnny Kill
Oblivion - Contents Under Pressure
Oktober - Let It Out
Oktober - World Of Deception
Oktober - We The People
Onceover - Incomplete
Optimus Prime - Welcome To The Real World
Overkill - Power In Black Demo
Overkill - Feel The Fire Demo
Overkill - Fuck You!!!
Overkill - Hello From The Gutter Single
Overkill - The Can Split (Overkill / Dark Angel)
Overkill - The Years of Decay
Overkill - Live 'Kill
Overkill - Sexi Flexi Split (Overkill / The Almighty)
Overkill - Videoscope VHS
Overkill - Infectious
Overkill - Live To The Core
Overkill - I Hear Black
Overkill - Spiritual Void
Overkill - I Hear Black
Overkill - Fast Junkie
Overkill - WFO
Overlorde - Overlorde EP
Pale Horse - Mournful
Pale Horse - Bitter Fruits of Temptation
Parasyte - Demo
Phantasm - Demo 1
Phil Accardi's Chalice - Take Control
Pierce - Pierce
Pierce - II
Platinum - Here To Fight
Platinum - Iceman
Platinum - Platinum
Powerplay - To Each His Own
Pride And Glory - Horse Called War
Pride And Glory - Losin' Your Mind
Pride And Glory - Troubled Wine
Pride And Glory - Pride And Glory
Psychosis - A Violent Breed
Psychosis - Demo
Psychosis - Face
Psychosis - My Private Hell
Psychotic - Demo 1992
Putrifact - Rehearsal 7/21/90
Putrifact - Visceral Devourment
Rat Race - Rat Race
Rated X - Matter of Taste
Rawshock - Rawshock
Rawshock - Promo Split EP (Rawshock / Mersinary)
Regurgitation - Organic Backwash
Regurgitation - Bathroom's Rule
Resless - Resless Metal
Resurrection - Demo I
Resurrection - Demo II
Revenant - Beyond The Winds of Sorrow
Revenant - Asphyxiated Time
Revenant - Distant Eyes
Revenant - Revenant Demo
Revenant - Prophecies Of A Dying World
Revenant - Exalted Being
Revenant - Faithless
Ripping Corpse - Death Warmed Over
Ripping Corpse - Splattered Remains
Ripping Corpse - Glorious Depravity
Ripping Corpse - Industry
Ritual - Let The Metal Play
Ritual - Dark Star
Ritual Torment - Demo 1991
Ritual Torment - Gaffed
Rogosonic - Midnight Drive
Sacred Death - Only Death is Sacred
Sacred Death - The Mighty Power
Sacred Denial - Life's Been Getting To Me
Sacred Denial - Extra Strength Tylenol Anyone?
Sacred Denial - North of the Order
Sacred Denial - Exhumed
Sacred Denial - Sifting Through Remains
Sadistic Sex - Tale Of Two Titties
Sanctum - Believers
Sapremia - Subconscious Rot
Savage Death - Mass Genocide
Savage Death - Crucified In Hell
Savant - Savant
Self Destruct - Self Destruct
Septik - Inception of Decay
Shattered Image - Eye to Eye
Shattered Image - Give All Your Love
Shattered Image - The Illusion Game
Shattered Image - Four Minds... One Soul
Shroud Of Silence - Awaken The Sleeping Beast
Silo - No One's Home
Sinister Force - Sinister Force
Sinister Reflection - Sinister Reflection
Skid Row - Matt Fallon Demos
Skid Row - 1988 Demos
Skid Row - Basement Tapes
Skid Row - Piece of Me
Skid Row - Skid Row
Skid Row - Youth Gone Wild Single
Skid Row - 18 & Life Single
Skid Row - I Remember You
Skid Row - Oh Say Can You Scream VHS
Skid Row - C'mon and Love Me
Skid Row - Get The Fuck out
Skid Row - Monkey Business
Skid Row - In A Darkened Room
Skid Row - Wasted Time
Skid Row - Little Wing
Skid Row - Quicksand Jesus
Skid Row - Riot Act
Skid Row - Youth Gone Wild / Delivering the Goods
Skid Row - B-side Ourselves
Skid Row - No Fucking Frills
Skid Row - Road Kill
Skitzo - Progressive Psychosis
Slaughter House - Slaughter House
Slaughtered Grace - Call This Planet... Slaughtered Grace
Slaughtered Grace - Terror Unleashed
Sleepy Hollow - '89 Demo (A Legend Retold)
Sleepy Hollow - Sleepy Hollow
Snag - Rage In Unity
Snag - Ignorance Is Bliss
Snag - The Birthgrave
Snag - Beginning To End
Snag - Promo 1993
Sneak Attack - Demo
Sneak Attack - N. - I. -4-N. -I.
Sneak Attack - New Songs
Social Decay - Social Decay
Social Decay - Live
Social Decay - Sick Society
Social Decay - Life's Not Hard
Social Plague - Dow Jones Syndrome
Solemn - Exiled
Solemn - Exiled At The Well Of Souls
Soundstorm - Soundstorm Demo
Steffan Rodd - Shocker
Stormfire - Taken By Storm
Sublimation - Sublimation
Sublimation - Strength
Suffer - Promo 1993
Suffer - Flesh Feast
Suiciety - World Apart
Suiciety - Beyond The Thorns
Suiciety - Confines of Nature
Suiciety - Stains and Omissions
Symphony Of Grief - Immortal Suffering Promo Tape
Symphony Of Grief - Infernal Creation
Symphony Of Grief - Regurgitated Corpse Drowning In Sorrow
Symphony X - Dance Macabre
Symphony X - Symphony X
Syre - Syre
System Addict - Demo 1991
System Addict - Sickness And Wealth
System Addict - Demo 1994
Syzergy - Awaiting The Day
T. F. N.  - Political Death
Talisman - This Is Where You Die
Tantrum - Trenton City Murders
Technakill - Demo 88
Technakill - Technakill
Thane - Demo 93
Thane - Little Wars
The Beast - Power Metal
The Beast - Demo '86
The Log - Log In The Toilet
Thrash Hold - Eyes of the Owl
Time's Up - Time's Up
Time's Up - At Ease
Torment - Take Every Life
Torment - Death Toll
Torture Krypt - Torture Krypt
Torture Krypt - Bestial Mutation
Trox - Demo
TT Quick - Demo
TT Quick - Sloppy Seconds
TT Quick - Thrown Together
Unsound - From Here On In
Whiplash - Fire Away
Whiplash - Thunderstruk
Whiplash - Looking Death In The Face
Whiplash - Insult To Injury
Winged Assassin - Demo
Wipatraction - Before The Storm
Valkyrie - New Jersey Steel
Valkyrie - Past, Present... Future?
Vicious Circle - Vicious Circle
Vicious Circle - Mutated Form
Vicious Circle - Fist of God
Vicious Circle - Cryptic Void
Vicious Circle - 1994 Demo
Vikron - King of the City
Vision Purple - Demo 89
Vision Purple - Black Market Earth
Vision Purple - Vision Purple
Vision Purple - Staring At The Sun
Xenon - Cry In The Night
Xenon - America's New Design
Zepherus - Instinct
Zepherus - A Matter of Time
Ziad - Do You Believe

V/A - Metal Massacre 5
V/A - Ultimate Revenge 2 (Dark Angel / Death / Forbidden / Faith or Fear / Raven)
V/A - Ultimate Revenge 2 (Dark Angel / Death / Forbidden / Faith or Fear / Raven) VHS
V/A - US Speed Metal Attack (Overkill / Anthrax / Agent Steel)

Deathcore - ALL
Hail Metal - ALL
Hammerhead - ALL
Ironworx - ALL
Metal Core #1
Metal Core #2
Metal Core #3
Metal Core #4
Metal Core #5
Metal Core #6
Metal Core #7
Metal Core #9
Metal Core #10
Metal Core #11
Metal Core #13
Metal Core #14
Metal Core #15
Metal Core #16
Metal Core #17
Metal Core #18
Metal Core #19
Metal Core #20
Metal Core #21
Metal Core #22
Metal Core #23
Metal Core #24
Metal Core #27
Metal Core #30
Metal Rules - ALL
Mimes Brunn - ALL


1. Bootleg Videos of New Jersey Bands, or shows in New Jersey Venues. Full videos only please unless it's really early material.
2. Any Magazines with interviews of New Jersey Bands or Reviews of New Jersey bands.
3. Flyers and show sets from New Jersey.
4. Information on Realm of Spirit
5. Information on a mid 80's bands the New Jersey area possibly called Teenage Brainrot.
6. Information on two bands from the late 80's called Bloodlust that were not the Bloodlust that turned into Bloodfeast.
7. Information on when Rhythm Pit's "The Matter of Opinion" demo was released. Can't find any information on this demo anywhere.
8. Old VHS Bootlegs. 


Abysmal Grief - ALL
Acid Deathtrip - ALL
Arcane Malevolence - ALL
Dopethrone - ALL
Evadne - ALL
Faal - ALL
Fuoco Fatuo - ALL
Huata - ALL
Ophis - ALL
The Doomsday Cult - A Language For Sad Spirits
The Doomsday Cult - Samarithans of Misery
Utopia Banished - ALL
Valgrind - ALL

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Joke's On You Will Wallner

Leather jacket inside - no "image" there...

I sat on this for a couple days because I wanted to cool down a little bit after reading Will Wallner's "Bent out of Shape" column on His article was entitled "Has Heavy Metal Become A Joke?" and his opening statement of "Heavy metal has lost all form of legitimacy as musical genre" enticed me into two days of dwelling on how to take his personal vendetta against a genre and shove it down his throat. I decided to pick it apart piece by piece because Will Wallner's revisionist history on the genre left out major points which render his arguments invalid. Also rendering his opinion invalid were the numerous contradictions and hypocrisies. Of course, those reading his column were too full of puff and pomp and not heavy with actual understanding of the confusions portrayed, that most failed to see through the shallow arguments which rang in the air like the sound of a fly swatter on a plastic patio table - also known as Will Wallner's guitar tone.

Wallner begins by laying an escape out of his own argument and he finishes his article the same way - by cooly saying that he is no expert but is just trying to stir discussion. In this latter he is correct; he is no expert. His arguments are about as strong as Pickett's Charge, and while the fanboys on Guitarworld may be impressed by his seventh grade vernacular and those in ninth grade may enjoy his oh-so teen angsty tirades against the "over-monopolization of record labels" and how "ridiculous the majority of so-called metal musicians look and act," fact of the matter is that he exemplifies these exact reprimands in his own professional career by having joined a band signed to Earach records - one of the largest record labels in the world - and which maintains a Metal image in all the band's photo shoots and promotional articles. In his follow up to the original "Has Heavy Metal Become a Joke" article, he expresses the viewpoint that "I may be in a "signed" band, but we're at the bottom of the ladder. When we tour, I am the one loading the gear into the van every night. The most I've ever been paid for a single show is $200." The most he, individually has been paid is $200. That means that a band of five people was paid $1000 for a single show. I don't know a single band that would consider themselves at the bottom of the ladder if they are making $1000 a show. Most bands are just happy to play. I guess Wallner believes that until he doesn't need to load his own equipment, he hasn't made it yet.

While he attempts to explain how his major-label signed band is no better off than the thousands of bands that have to pay to play and that are ignored by the Metal media, he is so confident to make the point that Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath "didn't feel the need to dress up or try to act tough" betrays a deep dank and disgusting recreation of history. Led Zeppelin laid the groundwork in Metal image, their style of ultra-masculine sex appeal carried over in all bands to follow. Black Sabbath created the imagery of Metal with their dark and outwardly occult album covers and bands like Kiss and Alice Cooper imbued a sense of the theatrical into the mix. Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin were basically contemporaries in image, an example of image continuity at even the earliest formative stages of Metal's birth. Images of White Wizzard are an obvious homage to Judas Priest and Motorhead, two bands that emphasized the Leather and Denim look we've grown accustomed to. Whether Wallner believes it or not, he is as much a product of this image as anyone else. Why be ashamed of it?

Wallner continues "Those bands had no gimmicks; it was 100 percent about the music. Only inferior musicians need to make a spectacle out of themselves to sell their music." There is a difference between maintaining an image and relying on a gimmick. There are an extremely few bands that rely on gimmicks to sell their music. I would wager that other than GWAR, very few fans actually enjoy the gimmick more than the band. Actually I would wager that most of Led Zeppelin's popularity had to do with their sex-appeal and looks. Women played a major part in popularizing Led Zeppelin as sex icons. Would this be considered a gimmick? Wallner then makes the statement "it's impossible to get a deal with a big label unless you have a marketing gimmick and are fashionable." I guess Earache signed White Wizzard for different reasons then? Maybe Wallner could enlighten everyone on why Earache signed them? I would expect it's those exact reasons - a totally middle-of-the-road cliche image and trendy music / image to match with the influx of Old School Heavy Metal that is becoming oh so popular.

Under the whole surface is a running current of angst against extreme Metal. Wallner seems perterbed that Metal no longer sounds like Thin Lizzy or Diamond Head. "I'm just a fan who loves classic metal bands like Rainbow, early Van Halen, Thin Lizzy, etc." That's all well and good Wallner, but people like you are people I'm intimately familiar with. I wrote all about them in my article on Ignorance, Elitism and Arrogance. One of my favorite contradictions which Wallner makes is when comparing the following two statements. "Today metal has such strict boundaries on how you must look, act and sound that there's little room for creativity or musicianship" and "People could argue that music trends change constantly... but not as quickly or as drastically as metal." Wallner in the same article is saying that there is little room for creativity and experimentation in a genre which is constantly changing. How could a genre in which there is little room for creativity continually ebb and flow? He advocates that Metal that is not based on the blues is getting away from what Metal should be. If Wallner is so fed up with the lack of originality and creativity in Metal perhaps joining one of the most generic Heavy Metal bands wasn't the right decision for him.

Through the whole thing, Wallner uses Metal and Heavy Metal interchangeably in a flurry of misrepresentations. Metal is the overarching genre. The world in which all distortion lives and dies respectfully. It is Death Metal, Black Metal, Thrash, Power Metal, Symphonic, Doom etc. Yes, it is even Heavy Metal. Ironically, the closest the genre came to losing it's roots and legitimacy was not with the absorption of the blues influence into the greater content or the non-issue of image over substance. In the 80's when bands like Def Leppard, Motley Crue and Poison dumbed down and jollied up the genre for the sake of making money, that's when the genre lost it's validity. While those bands and their ilk dragged Metal towards the brink and forced the Grunge and Alternative era in the 90's, what prevented the total dissolution were the Thrash and then Death Metal and Black Metal bands that retained the sense of attitude, rebelliousness and aggressiveness which had become hallmarks of the genre due to Judas Priest, Motorhead and the NWOBHM movement. I don't remember hearing Metallica or Slayer giving much of a shit about the blues. Metal was almost destroyed by Heavy Metal. Not the other way around.

Wallner then courageously states that he no longer wants to be known as a Metal guitarist. There is no need for embarrassed musicians in Metal. If Metal is a joke and has lost it's legitimacy, then Wallner, I suggest you vacate the genre. It's not the genre that has lost it's legitimacy. It's not Metal that is the joke. You are the joke, and Metal is the comedian, setting you up.

From Jersey...

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Phidion - Flesh of the Forsaken

I could link a single track in a YouTube video here, but you know what? This whole EP is so damn good that I'll just link the band's Bandcamp and you should listen to the whole EP as loud as your speakers go. If that's not very loud, grab some headphones.

Swedish death metal - it's almost unfair to introduce a band with this stone of burden. It immediately conjures expectations of early Dismember and Entombed, even encourages bands who merely emulate those bands with an HM-2 and a far shot at copying those greats. That is not Phidion, that is not even how you introduce Phidion.

Phidion could, but have no need to impress with accolades. Martin Missy leads this killer assault with his piercing vocals that have only become better seasoned since his legendary run with the brutal thrash legends Protector - late-80s German peers of mighty thrashers like Kreator. Anyone into extreme thrash has already perked up, extremely excited at the mention of Protector. Missy joins with two other parts an incredible trio - including bassist Fredrik Pihlström, who has an extensive resume including fronting another variety of extreme thrash band, Talion, since the 90s. Even more vicious is Guitarist Christos - a 15-year veteran of the Swedish death metal scene who blends his Swedish roots with the heavy viciousness of some of the harsher Floridian death metallers like Malevolent Creation and the brutality of Cannibal Corpse, though he is clearly a better songwriter than anyone in CC.

Yes, I could have simply called them a Swedish death metal band, but that is neither a fair estimation of the band's skill and style, nor a fair description of a band that carries a strong flair of originality amongst a sea of downright clones and ripoffs. Phidion are concentrated and brutal, original and enjoyable in their own right, yet much more familiar than alien as a solid death metal band. They offer a combination of both smooth songwriting and abrupt changes that rip the listener from their seat, like the middle of "Anthropophagus".

They're so good that I struggle, as a writer, to put you in the seat while hearing this music. It's just over 25 minutes long, conscious of the impact of their thrashy brand of death metal - in no rush to crank out a full-length for the sake of doing so, rather using a shorter run-time to pummel your head with vicious death metal. There is quite a variety of death metal riffing, adhering to no particular subset, rather being a well-varied onslaught. It's primarily fast and a combination of death/thrash riffs as well as pure death metal riffs that bridge several styles and generation of death metal seamlessly. As I said, this band is neither a clone nor a wannabe, they have their own sound, more distinct than most, and powerful enough that I suspect that each spin of this EP crushed some lame, derivative Entombed-worship band.

This is focused. It is a very coherent effort that wastes not a second from start to finish, ending almost too quickly after six songs, not that I could ever fault a band for leaving me wanting more. This band does an excellent job of changing up tempos, adding some stop/start riffing, and simply pushing and pulling the listener throughout this whole release. It is immersive, aggressive death metal from start to finish, with the only break being variations in the riffing, from mid-paced grooves led by the mighty Missy to fast death metal, blended with some unsettling stop/start parts that are reminiscent of the hammering nature of early Cannibal Corpse.

It's really good, but a few aspects leave me wishing for more. The production is sharp and clean, but these riffs are fucking dirty! Of course, this requires a sufficient volume for the listener to be hit by the full impact of the album, but it's so vicious that it feels like it might be better fitted to an old, dirty studio sound, more fitting of a basement, a run-down venue, even a cave. It is by no means excessively polished - it could easily rip the scrawny heads and other body parts off of a leaner death metal band like Cattle Decapitation, but I just want it to feel even more of the grit of the slaying they do - something between worshipping Slayer and using their music as a means of conveying egregious violence, because unholy shit, these riffs fucking kill!

The bottom line? The mighty Martin Missy of Protector meets a perfect match for his vicious vocals and Christos rips through 25 minutes of awesome death metal riffs and it's the most refreshing and oppressing death metal coming out of Sweden in recent years. Highlights? No, listen to the whole god damn thing, as long as you have 25 minutes to be eviscerated.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Distro Updates: August

Added the following items to the distro:

Abigail - The Early Black Years ($12) CD
Abysmal Depths - The Pain Shows In Dead Woods ($11) CD
Alcoholic Force - Drunken Heavy Metal Maniacs ($4) MC
Apostate - Trapped In A Sleep ($11) CD
Bulldozing Bastard - Bulldozing The Vatican ($7) MC / Pin / Lyric Sheet
Borknagar - The Olden Domain ($12) CD
Carrasco - Aurora Del Sortilegio ($5) MC
Carrasco - The Hangman Tapes ($5) MC
Criminal Trace - Metal Satan Rape ($4) MC
Exterminas - Seventh Demoniacal Hierarchy ($11) CD
Fecund Betrayal - Depths That Buried The Sea ($11) CD
Haethen - Wanderer ($3) MC
Haethen - Wanderer ($3) CDr
Kozeljnik - Null: The Acheron of Multiform Negation ($10) CD
Lugubrum - De Vette Cueken ($10) CD
Madness - Fury In Blood ($3) CDr
Noche Eterna - Reino De Guerra g Muerte ($4) MC
Omission - Angelfuck ($6) MC
Power From Hell - The True Metal ($4) MC
Recrucifier - Recrucifer Demo ($4) MC
Root - Kargeras ($10) CD
Sentencial - Attacking and Killing ($5) MC
Shrouded - Altar Of The Decomposed ($4) CDr
Skepticism - Stormcrowfleet ($12) CD
Thurisaz - Scent of a Dream ($10) CD

Here are some samples of some of the above albums:

Earthenwomb - Maw of Light, Ochre in Dawn Silhouette

There is an idiom that it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt. Earthenwomb is a good musical analogue as this EP “Maw of Light, Ochre in Dawn Silhouette” ranges from passable to mediocre, but only when it comes to the quiet ambient sections. These parts use soft synth pads in a way that can be pleasant although forgettable as they meander around. The unwelcome reality is that when Earthenwomb doesn’t remain quite so silent it removes all doubt as to whether this EP is foolish. It is.

Described as “in a way much more a compilation than an EP,” it is naturally difficult to synthesize critiques rather than focusing on each track alone. Thematically, the first two tracks are most similar, and aside from the passable ambient sections, what we have at first is an especially raw and shoddy variety of DSBM. Echoey forlorn guitars are interspersed with melancholic progressions, which are often hidden away under the snap snap snap of the brusque drums. The overly loud percussion is especially glaring on “Talon Absolute,” and the black metal sections as a whole are a step down for the EP. Even within these two songs the melding of black metal and ambient music is disjointed. A great example is how abrupt, befuddling, and unsatisfying the transition from loud to quiet is at around the five minute mark of the first song.

The next stain on the ambient sections’ relative silence is “Talon Absolute (Crystal Shyps Remix).” This leads us to a stark departure from the earlier songs because of how it mixes ambient not with metal, but a dance-electronica beat. Being only moderately offensive compared to the rest of the EP, this ends up as the best song. The lighter style blends into the ambient music rather than overshadowing it like we have elsewhere.

On the last and worst track “Cold Dust” we have an even greater style departure with a piece described as harsh ambient. It is a loud recording of wind using a cheap microphone? Or perhaps its the sound of a volcano, the Earth’s womb? Some kind of clicking noise is layered on top to spice things up, but thats it. Ten minutes of noise, over a third of the EP. After around three minutes of this, I started to become incredulous at the idea of another seven minutes of the same awful repetition. Musicians are at liberty to experiment with sounds and that process is an important part of discovering ideas. However, this is a clear example of a presentation of the experiment, rather than its fruits. After about seven minutes in I found myself wondering if this was any different from static and started to carefully listen for patterns. A louder click every four or so seconds and a subtle ebb and flow in the volume of the clicking while our volcano noise similarly varies in how much it sounds like clipping. Effectively no different from static. Finally, Krakatoa fades away and we just have the clicking. This too fades away, and thus the Sisyphean ordeal is over.

Why would a musician do something like this? To make listeners ask that very question? To act as a microcosm for a repetitive and unpleasant life? The motivation doesn’t matter because the end result of “Cold Dust” is grueling enough to occlude any motive and ruin the all ready ailing EP/compilation.

Alkmorhilyion - Droves

This was originally limited to 10 CDr copies. Apparently I can make a shit ton of noise, call it black metal burn a few CDs and bandcamp will send out emails to people telling them to check it out. The whole thing is bizarre and I just don't know what the internet is doing anymore. This is Alkmorhilyion's first demo and to reason why the band would put out anything else is an affront to logic and reason which not even Plato would argue in favor of and we all know how much he loves to argue. There is, however, no argument here. Droves is awful. It's the cliche scissor to the eardrum, brick to the head, I'd rather dip myself in acid and have a friend pour me down the drain kind of release which makes black metal such a difficult endeavor to rummage around within. For every ten releases you're guaranteed twenty percent of them will sound like this if you sample them at random. With main man Kuranes involved in a million other projects, those looking for a crapmine to hammer through, look no further. While it's possible a band like Enbilulugugal or Tactical Gorefare might produce something of note, it's more likely that they will produce something that smells like a yeast infection.

So what does Droves sound like? Opening track "Upthrust Circuits" is two minutes too long of harsh and extremely raw black metal. Though there is a semblance of melody added with some plucked twangy guitars underneath the horrific mass of noise up front, there is nothing here that should be listened to. I fully believe the drums are programmed. The kick drum has the tone of someone listening to gangster rap in their Escalade with all the windows closed, the bass turned up extremely high and the rest of the spectrum turned far far down. Second track "Emptied" is a bit better in reality but it's basically a scratchy, harsh mix of something that sounds like it would be interested if it was recorded with just a little more effort. It's harsh and angry and might appeal to fans of Grind more than fans of Black Metal. Final track, "It's Name Was a Salutation," is a damning seven minutes long with a slow crusty intro, heavily distorted vocals and piss poor recording. While it's a little creepy, it's also really annoying for most of the track. Even some slight variations do little to interest me. There is ton of electronic feedback noises rounding out the track.

I could see this having a much better impact on a format that wasn't sent to me digitally. In essence, something that is this raw should be presented in a way that compliments the music. A 7" or tape of this might appeal more from an aesthetic point of view. As it stands now though... I just don't really find a bandcamp promoted link to download the album as a method of dissemination which benefits Alkmorhilyion's 'style.' Help is needed here. I understand the desire to do raw and noise-splattered black metal. There still has to be songs and something to hold it all together.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Penetration - Victory Or Death

Having listened to Penetration's follow up to Victory or Death, the excellent Return to Sodom, I had prepared myself to be either pleasantly surprised or expectedly disappointed at the debut album from these northern New York beasts of thrash. I had figured that in thrash, at least recently, there was little chance of a band putting together all the pieces to twice create something awesome that was fresh as well as defiantly thrashy. Victory or Death then, it would be seen, fell squarely between the two. In essence, Victory or Death is an absolute debut in all respects - it has all the fixings of what would be refined on a subsequent release and it still had amateur flaws. Much like Return to Sodom, Victory of Death is just as much fun, even if it's not quite as decisive and improved. Another leap of the kind between the two would put a third album in high contention for best-of lists in the genre for sure.

With Victory or Death we are given a well done release. Professionally looking artwork, lyrics and pictures of the band are dispersed throughout the layout. Of note are the lyrics here which fall under the same concepts of their follow up. Basically it's all stuff you would find on any Sodom album - War, Violence, Death, Battles... It's all very cliche in a certain respect but I like it far better than those party-thrash bands talking about beer and happy-go-lucky topics. There is anger and resentment here. Jess Bartlett is once again the main man in all aspects with Dave Tedesco providing drums and the studio. Someone named Cuntripper plays bass though his image is nowhere to be seen in the layout. As mentioned earlier fans of Sodom would do well to seek out this album but I would include fans of Kreator, early Slayer as well as practically every South American Metalhead in the list of people that would need a Kleenex after listening to both Penetration's albums.

The album opens with "Bring the Ancient Ones Back," an intro of gunfire samples and other stereotypical war noises. No harm done there. It's short enough to not bother. It runs into opening track "Prepare for War," a sonic, speed pummeller of a track. Drums provide most of the momentum here and while Tedesco is not nearly as creative as on Return to Sodom, the drumming is still excellent. Bartlett once again shines with his lead work as well which is impressive. Bartlett's vocals are a gritty and dirty snarl. At times you can hear / feel the phlegm in his throat as it swishes around in his mouth mid scream. Eaten by wolves also has a sample to begin in the track however I find it worthless to the track. The main riff is fast, typical and still a whole lot better than other thrash out there. The sheer quantity of leads and solos and wild guitar parts separates this wheat from a lot of the chaff.

With "Iraq," Victory or Death takes a turn towards a more appropriately militant vibe. The chosen fast but not light speed tempo conjures images of American forces charging and crushing Saddam's troops in the desert during the first offensives of Desert Storm. M1 Abrams tanks racing across scorched landscapes of outdated Iraq weaponry. Lyrically it can be a condemnation or compliment to war efforts in the region. I'll take no stance on which I prefer. What I can say however is that blasting this while encountering an enemy with no knowledge of Heavy Metal would render fear in the bones of even the most stoic fighter. If stories of American and UN forces frightening the enemy by blasting Godsmack while engaging the enemy are true, who knows what would have resulted from them hearing Penetration's warlike sound. Ironically however, it's not "Iraq" which has the outwardly Middle Eastern flair but the title track which follows. "Victory or Death" resembles the rhythms of opening track "Prepare for War" however is more memorably and varied in the riffs with some faster breakneck moments but also more mid paced verses. Final track "Bishop Slayer" is a slow doomy crushing beast with an awesome solo less than two minutes into the track of nothing but high pitched wailing string bends. A hidden track on the album that sounds like all of the above description covering Dick Dale rounds out the album warmly.

With both albums Penetration have succeeding in epitomizing what Thrash has always been to me: heavy relentless and violent with more interest in aggressive menace than in the alcoholic stupor which is so prevalent in thrash lexicon these days. I like when my Thrash cuts through the skin with the force of a hacksaw welded to a steamroller. While I don't really know how exactly that kind of a machine would cut, perhaps Bartlett and Tedesco can offer some suggestions on their next album which I hope is in the works. The world needs more thrash like this.