Saturday, December 27, 2014

High On Fire - Hung, Drawn and Quartered

0:28 mark.

Matt Pike once said "Heavy is about being pissed off and being a warlord, and laying down, like if someone that was in battle, if they had an axe and just chopped some dude in the head and it landed and you have a riff that plays the same way that way...that's heavy." Hung, Drawn and Quartered is that riff.

Coming from their second record, Surrounded By Thieves, the song takes the listener on a familiar ride, yet manages to totally lose them at the same time as the riff drones on and on over Pike's guttural slurring. His voice comes off like Lemmy bellowing through an ashtray, while his vocal chords are simultaneously raked over a bed of hot coals.

As with Sleep, High On Fire make good use of their drummer, driving the song along a crumbling highway of some dystopian wasteland before careening straight off of a cliff as the song comes to a close. 

While I am not super keen on recent HoF material, the first couple of records are very good and worth checking out. Also I have included the documentary that Matt Pike is quoted from, it is a very good film which covers the underground hard rock/desert rock/stoner rock scene from the 70's til the time of the films completion.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Encircling Sea - Yearn

12:32 mark.

Icey wind cuts through your body as you race through the dense forest of the taiga. A pack of wolves drawing closer with your every step. No, you aren't dreaming that you're Liam Neeson, you are taking in the breathtaking majesty of Encircling Sea's A Forgotten Land.

Yearn is the first of 4 tracks that when combined add up to almost 70 minutes of beautifully crafted, meandering black metal. The song builds slowly over 12 minutes, creeping along like an invasive vine, working its way around the trunk of a mighty oak. Suddenly the riff bounds away like a startled fawn, plodding along like the rhythmic pulse of hoof beats, galloping, leaping over stump after moss covered log. 

It pauses eventually in a clearing, as to re-evaluate its surroundings. Heart racing, a look of terror in its eyes. Slowly it wanders into the thickets, eventually reaching safety among the underbrush. A calming wave passes through the wood as all is again right with mother nature.

Skinless - A Unilateral Disgust

0:00 mark.

War, it's fantastic. Once upon a time, a band called Skinless ousted Sherwood Webber and hired new vocalist Jason Keyser. They then released the audio equivalent of paving over an occupied elementary school in Trample The Weak, Hurdle The Dead

This song kicks it off with a Hot Shots sample and then the band swings monstrous riffs over their heads like sledgehammers, as if beginning a controlled demolition of your house while you are living in it. Keyser's vocals feel less stagnant over the course of the record than his predecessor, while still managing to sound like he is bellowing the words through a mouthful of human remains.

The band broke up in 2011 after a brief reunion with their original line up, but reformed in 2013. Former singer Jason Keyser is now fronting technical death metal giants Origin.  

Fire this one up and do a face-plant onto a running circular saw.

Bonus Riff!

3:26 mark.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Broken Hope - Omen of Disease

I just picked a random spot: 9:16 mark

Kind of shocked to just now hear the following: one, original vocalist/belchist Joe Ptacek killed himself in 2010, and: two, Broken Hope reformed two years ago and made something after fourteen years of not. A frontrunner in image and back-burner in listenability, I was pleased with late 90’s outings Loathing and Grotesque Blessings, both of which highlighted by great rhythm and solo guitars and calculated, patient, smooth drumming, rising up from swamps of gore and finally baring a skeletal formation of a distinct sound. Omen of Disease has discipline but no personality, largely in part to a band fragmented by argument and tragedy, and the inclusion of several new members, guitarist Jeremy Wagner the only original shredder. Perhaps exciting on paper, more afterthought than reunion, death metal played well for death metal, but with interchangeable names and men, and distant memories of things that were coming together. At least it’s not the old-old stuff. So sue me.  

Top Ten of 2014 (Part One)

As the only one on this blog who regularly listens to current bands and new records by older ones, it falls on me alone to share my personal favorite records of the year. I have been making a year end list for at least the last 4 years and now comes the time to share my yearly musical intake with the internet (as though someone cares?).

I am going to do two lists this year, the first is my 10 favorite short releases of the year. This category will be limited to EPs, demos, splits and singles only and the second will be my favorite full length records of the year.

10. S.H.I.T. - Generation Shit 7"

Not exactly sure what the acronym stands for, although a review of their previously released Collective Unconsciousness 7" offers a few suggestions. A busy band, having released 3 records this year. I heard their demo tape a couple of years ago and was blown away. Fast and furious hardcore with a healthy dose of reverb foaming from the singer's microphone.

Stream "Generation Shit" on bandcamp.

9. Wildhoney - Seventeen Forever 7"

Featuring at least one member of one of my favorite Baltimore bands, Surroundings, Wildhoney play shoegazey pop music. This latest release is a precursor to their upcoming LP on Deranged/Forward records. 3 songs of female fronted fuzzy guitar based pop that brings back memories of riding in my mother's car with a plethora of Lilith Fair hopefuls pouring from the stereo.

Stream "Seventeen Forever" on bandcamp

8. Genocide Pact - Desecration 7"

Brutal death metal from the nation's capitol. Vocals evoke Barney Greenway comparisons and the riffs land somewhere between Fear...Emptiness...Despair and Mental Funeral. Solid follow up to last year's demo, cannot wait for 2015's upcoming full length.

Stream "Desecration" on bandcamp

7. Iron Lung - Savagery 7"

12 tracks, 6 minutes, power violence. The latest effort from Seattle, WA's Iron Lung is going to cause your face to melt as you boil over with rage. Their own review does a far better job at summing this up than I can, "Our angriest record, our country's dumbest time".

Stream "Savagery" on bandcamp

6. Red Death - Demo 2014

Described by some as "DC Fight Metal" (genre name overloaddddd), expect a hearty helping of hardcore punk with metal influences ala The Accused. Featuring DC's usual suspects, LP coming out in 2015 on Grave Mistake (home of the best shit on the planet).

Stream "Demo 2014" on bandcamp

5. Windhand/Salem's Pot Split 10"

Richmond, VA's Windhand are responsible for several of the best doom records in the last few years. "Forest Clouds" is another fantastic, sprawling slab of Sabbathian doom, clocking in at just under 10 minutes. Salem's Pot are a strange psychedelic ride, "Pink Flamingos" is as though the members of Foghat got stoned and started having sex with a box of Hawkwind 45's.

Stream "Windhand/Salem's Pot Halloween Split" on soundcloud

4. Iron Reagan - Spoiled Identity 7" Flexi

Released as a free flexi disc through Decibel magazine, this EP is a preview of their LP that followed through Relapse. I personally prefer this to the LP, just because it reminds me so much of early Municipal Waste before they moved away from the punk end of the crossover spectrum. With only one song longer than 40 seconds, this is over in a blur of D.R.I. worship.

Stream "Spoiled Identity" on bandcamp

3. Sleep - The Clarity 12" single

Continuing where Dopesmoker left off, with a few hints of Om. This was originally released as part of Adult Swim's single series, but was repressed through Southern Lord a month or so ago. This is a a tribute to the weedian gods and as Sleep so appropriately put it "The Clarity is a lyrical follow-up to a lifetime of marijuana enjoyment."

Stream "The Clarity" on Youtube

2. Stone Dagger - The Siege of Jerusalem cassette

The solo vehicle of Brenden Radigan (Magic Circle, The Rival Mob), Stone Dagger bring a fresh perspective on the epic heavy metal sound. Fans of Dio and Manowar will be stoked.

Stream "The Siege of Jerusalem" on bandcamp

1. Sumerlands - The Guardian (supposed to be released as a 7" but I don't think that has materialized yet.)

Featuring Phil Swanson from Hour of 13 and Arthur Rizk from War Hungry, this three song demo is traditional heavy metal, but on steroids. Rizk's heavy riffing is as crushing as his other work and Swanson's vocals channel Geoff Tate to the point where you might expect a leather one piece suit to appear over your body as you sing along.

Stream "The Guardian" on bandcamp

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Type O Negative - Haunted

just listen to the whole damned thing

All-eyes on the rarest blood Type to follow wild down-upstart Bloody Kisses, and Petrus and Co (new drummer Johnny Kelly, better than Sal), providing disclaimers and hopes the album isn’t too disappointing, deliver a great, grand luscious force of volume and nature. No filler, no gimmicks, no shouting, no hate, the band distancing itself far away from Brooklyn, its scenes, and into the organic nature of sound and instrumentation, in perhaps the most orchestrated capture of a season and its smells and tastes. Peter is at his most disarming here, narrating love, romance, sadness, hedonism, lupine and ghost lore with delicate attention to the orange, yellow, green, brown wall of guitar, cymbal, and keyboard drone, more ambient than attacked. October Rust grows its strongest as it travels deep into the indigenous, its opening outskirts a little forced (I hate, hate, hate the coda for Be My Druidess) and hokey (My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend). It isn’t until Burnt Flowers Fallen and its wickedly brilliant minimalism that the album grows moss around its ears and becomes a fully realized, breathing, sexual creature with no piece of its anatomy to overlook. Closer Haunted, in its 10 minutes of grueling throes, is the damned saddest thing I’ve ever heard, a Floyd-ian nod, extracting all said life essence gathered but not without a final, brief, reasoning of sunlight. Tragically underrated as a remarkable album, a classic, one that ensnared a theme, drank its wisdom, then let it fly into atmosphere, never to be repeated or emulated. Essential.  

Type O Negative - We Hate Everyone

0:00 mark

As if it suddenly clicked and the green-and-black circuitry connected, the Drab Four, not-so-much One, release this sprawling, 70+ minute, smothering ooze of music. All positives extracted from Negative, Bloody Kisses is the collective of Peter’s ideas subdued, focused, and carried by his confident peers in equal, although keyboardist Josh Silver’s orchestration is more prominent than ever, giving names to tracks that become songs, rather than nests of aggressive fledglings. More goth, less thrash, but very metal, with a bass/guitar fuzz commonplace in a distant doom land, yet distanced so far away from concepts out in the coldest NYC alleyway. Two emotions: bare-fanged hatred for all, and drowning desperation for female companionship, which Peter, in his skulking, quasi-vampiric stature, is their mouthpiece with great bass and pathos. Christian Woman and Black No 1 were obvious radio hits, though neatly sliced in half for length, both wallowing in atmosphere and female sexuality, while equals Blood and Fire and excellent Seals and Croft cover Summer Breeze waved a finger through cellophane and stickers in shops. A commercial success for both band and label, going Platinum and gathering many disenchanted and depressed into a fulcrum. Not the greatest album, but one of my favorites, and a constant mainstay throughout the adolescence I didn’t understand, into the adulthood I believe I do, as a soundtrack for the simplest of concepts, love and hate, and the undiscovered morality in between. Spot all the Beatles references and you win a cyanide lollipop. Note: drummer Sal Abruscato left after the album's release to join Life of Agony, another excellent Brooklyn quartet.

Type O Negative - I Know You're Fucking Someone Else

 4:23 mark

Slow Deep and Hard played to a fake live crowd. Novelty, if anything, since the “fans” are violently interrupting the performance with thrown bottles and bomb threats every other minute. Kind of a springboard to propel Peter’s persona to unknown heights unbelievably not reached from the prior recording, always swearing, shouting, speaking, pointing, grumbling. Don't let re-named song titles fool you; no uncharted waters beyond an occasional vocal nuance and two-minute, pre-Bloody Kisses teaser Are You Afraid, but a great non-“not”- live cover of Sabbath’s Paranoid awaits post-encore. So, interchangeable with its predecessor, but two negative charges not meant to be paired. Bad original album cover thankfully replaced with something better.  

Type O Negative - Unsuccessfully Coping with the Natural Beauty of Infidelity

Well, it's nearing the holidays, so it's a good time to treat myself and bore you to death by making countless entries about my all-time favorite heavy metal group. After Friday I'll be taking a 3-week hiatus. Hope you all have a great holiday. Be excellent to each other. And party on, dudes.

5:20 mark

P.T. Steele, fresh off the short-lived circus that was Carnivore, has so many lingering ideas and so little attention to guide them that it requires three Brooklyn minstrels to provide counsel and keep beat. Thus, Type O Negative, that which wants death at the moment of birth, blurts a genius, imperfect, unfinished length of metal and hardcore and doom and goth and new wave and prog and surf, as a bold debut, ribcage bared for any and all criticism. You really have to kill yourself to trek through Slow Deep and Hard’s six (dumb one-minute track of silence doesn’t count) outings of Peter’s figurative spoken word, as this is really his band and his record (case in point: that chorus for Unsuccessfully Coping with the Natural Beauty of Infidelity), and the combination of Kenny, Josh, and Sal seem to have the right notes and beats to hammer the rough iron that is Petrus' aggression. These are long pieces nearing thirteen agonizing minutes, and there’s a lot of key-laden doom and Brooklyn stuffed in them, with few breaks for when Peter just loses his temper and starts screaming/waxing misogyny and suicide. Lots of humor, though…strangely, and it’s so unashamed with being unique that it’s likable, although women hate when you play this sort of thing. Slow has to be the most unlikely progressive record Roadrunner has ever taken chance with, and apparently some people liked it, because we got more of it a year later. Album cover is exactly what you think it is.