Wednesday, April 29, 2009

G&P review: Antigama

I have never been much of an Antigama fan. I don’t get what most people heard in Resonance. I thought it was an enervated and rather dull collection of songs by musicians who were just trying too hard to be bizarre and lost sight of the art of songwriting and niceties like passion.
But even with that antipathy, I have to admit Warning hooked me from the whipsnap opening of “Disconnected.” I’m starting to get it.
Warning, the band’s second Relapse effort, is far more hungry than anything I’ve heard from the Poles previously as they finally find the delicate balance between the bizarre and the blast. Antigama elevated their game by scuffing up their sound. Where I thought Resonance sounded sterile, Warning’s guitars feel contused and abraded while the snare drum sound captures that perfectly tinny practice room sound.
That rougher feel gives more … err … resonance to the band’s freakier moments like the spiral staircase guitar work of “Jealously” or arresting percussion of “Heartbeat.” Antigama also explore new sonic vistas amid all the grinding. “Lost Skull’s” bent notes and malarial swamp pacing could have be lifted from just about any NOLA great. Patryk Zwolinkski’s raspy vocal take even oozes a young Phil Ansemlo and bassist Szymon Czech’s guitar solo should serve notice to Sebastian Rokicki he faces a serious challenge for six string dominance in the band.
Antigama are testing the limits of my hard won respect ,though. In the middle of the interminable plunking piano and meandering drums of “Paganini Meets Barbapapex” my wife wandered through the room and asked my why I was listening to Spinal Tap’s “Jazz Odyssey.” (Still no word on who gets the big dressing room – the Poles or the puppets.) Ditto on the organ abuse of Sequenzia Dellamorte, which never seems to find a place amid the rest of the album’s twisted bangers.
Other than that, count me converted.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Blast(beat) from the Past: Rune

Crucial Blast
Fluffy bunnies who scrunch their noses and deliver sugar-larded eggs each Easter may not seem like the most terrifying member of the rodent family, but try telling that to my brother the Christmas my parents decided to give him the film version of Watership Down under the mistaken impression the story of throat-ripping rabbits at war was a tale suitable for a toddler. While that’s certainly the high water mark for lepus atrocities, Rune came close with the backstabbed bunny art on the cover of their 2000 self titled EP (also known as Call of Hearts in some quarters).
Before the Neurosis meets Morbid Angel at Wrestlemania cage match that was the staggering The End of Nothing or the industrial skree of the Kalibas split on Relapse, the Ohioan Neanderthals beat out 12 minutes primitive caveman death/grind.
Over three songs Rune delivered gutter scraping vocals and street sweeper riffing with none of the finesse or carefully arranged texture of their later efforts. Opener “Call of Hearts,” which accounts for half the EP’s run time, brought all the nuance of a ball peen hammer murder in a holocaust of slamming drums and scooped out guitar tones.
Vocalist Austin Lucas’ performance is damn near inaudible without some quality headphones amid the band’s cacophony though he claws his way atop “Four Seasons Landmark,” howling like a transplanted John Tardy while bassist David Mann thwacks strings as thick as power lines to get the kind of brown note rumble Sunn O))) has chased for a decade.
The greener pastures and deeper pockets of Relapse and Willowtip would beckon, but Rune’s debut EP is an interesting trip back down the evolutionary ladder of a band that would singlemindedly set off into metal’s wilderness, leaving a trail of rabbit corpses in its wake.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Blast(beat) from the Past: The Parallax View

The Parallax View
Destruction of Property
Resident Art Media
It takes a hell of a lot more than a few choice samples to recommend an album, but fuck if Michigan metallions The Parallax View didn’t uncork a few doozies on 2001’s Destruction of Property. But they do lift some quality audio from Dragnet, 12 Monkeys and Back to the Future as well as a purely classic Rick Moranis line from Space Balls.
Not to be confused with an annoying Christian indie rock band, this grind quintet, as far as I can tell, dropped on solitary album of Discordance Axis meets Misery Index goodness in 2001 and then promptly fell off the face of the earth. They haven’t logged on to their MySpace page in over two years so I’ll just assume they’re defunct. Hell, even their label’s website has pretty much evaporated.
Which is kind of a shame because with some time to metastasize their sound and some quality studio backing to invest in decent recording, The Parallax View could have held their own with the Misery Indexes of the world. And that’s the only real hang up with Destruction of Property: it sounds like ass. It sounds like a low grade demo even by 2001 standards, devouring most of the music and texture in a muffled wall of flattened sound.
But amid the scrap metal rattle of the band, the vocals sound like Circle of Dead Children’s Jon Hovarth (minus some of the pig squeal inflections) gnawing through drywall.
While The Parallax View were happiest playing full tilt (such as decimating Minor Threat’s “Filler”), they did mix up a few chocolate chunks in their grindcore brownie. Unfortunately, you’ve got to fight through the production to enjoy the dynamics of a song like “Corroded Database of Incarcerated Thought,” which stretches a sinuous lead guitar around low gear Bolt Thrower trudge and even tosses out a few pinch harmonics.
All of the parts were in place to deliver a solid and inspiring grind workout, but The Parallax View never seemed to have the chance to really grow into their sound. Despite – or because of —its flaws, Destruction of Property makes for an interesting listen if you see it lurking in your local cut out bin.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

G&P review: Brutal Truth

Brutal Truth
Evolution Through Revolution
Say you wanna revolution? Well grizzly guerillas (gorillas?) Brutal Truth load up a 20 round clip of metal jacketed grind with a hollow point of journey to the center of your mind experimentalism with fourth full length Evolution Through Revolution.
A funny thing happened on the way to the Brutal Truth victory lap reunion, however. In the dozen years between their untimely kiss off and the recent Lazarus routine, every band that ever mistakenly purchased a Coltrane album has been swinging from the New Yorkers’ collective dick, aping the angular kitchen sink and all attack that was so distinctive and anachronistic a dozen years ago.
But if they have even the slightest inkling their signature sound was raped in a Bowery back alley since last they set needle to wax it doesn’t show as the band nods to its trailblazing path (the angular noise and horns of “Semi-Automatic Carnation” harkens back to the ominous cover of “It’s After the End of the World” while the microburst grind of “Branded” is a direct nod to Extreme Condition’s Guiness record holding “Collateral Damage”) while proving they can still kick their imitators in the nuts with impunity.
With better-than-Billy Anderson production and sleeker, hungrier songwriting, Erik Burke’s calliope-core guitar skronk, honed during his Lethargy tenure, is the perfect counterpoint to drummer Rich Hoak’s increasingly abstract and conceptual take on grind with Total Fucking Destruction (“Get a Therapist … Spare the World” bears Hoak’s distinctive cynical stamp). From the The predatory lope of “On the Hunt” to Danny Lilker’s ominous thunderhead bass rumble dominates “Attack Dog” and while Kevin Sharp’s distinctive roar has more of a raspy edge, he saws his way through the musical fray as he declaims against everything that went wrong with the world since last he checked in. Musically and thematically, you easily could have slotted “Global Good Guy” on the last Kill the Client record.
As a rule, dead bands should stay dead, but I’m more than willing to issue a one day pass for these drug crazed grind freaks because this animal kingdom’s sound just keeps evolving and revolving.

Monday, April 20, 2009

G&P review: Agoraphobic Nosebleed

Agoraphobic Nosebleed
“Drugs are no fun. Drugs endanger the life and happiness of millions. It must stop. We appeal in particular to the youth of today. Stop the madness. There are better things in life. Relapse Records support the stop the madness campaign against the use of hard drugs. Join us.”
Are you fucking with me, Relapse?
“Dick to Mouth Resuscitation,” cartoon artwork featuring shemales with man-sized cocks, casual misogyny and tales of dirty, coke-snatching ex-cops with acetylene torch fetishes elicit no warning from the label, but lace an album with a few drug references and suddenly Relapse feels the need to get all PMRC on our asses and slap a (non-ironic?) warning label in the middle of the back artwork telling kids to lay off the heroin? On an Agora-fucking-phobic Nosebleed album?

[I am a fucking retard. Thank you Chris for pointing out I missed one of the best jokes on the album. I pulled out my old Sepultura vinyl and laughed my ass off -- at the joke and at myself. Doh.]
That whiff of mall chain store appeasement aside, Agorapocalypse, Virginia’s ANb’s second long player brings all the brain bleach worthy imagery befitting of a band that has consistently provided a bad acid trip tour through the 24-hour cable network news cycle of the end times.
Where the band’s last solo outing managed to lube and cram 100 micro-grind bursts into our tight, hairy ear-slits in less time than it takes to watch a sitcom sans commercials, the band leisurely strolls through a mere 13 songs in about half an hour. This is the South of Heaven to Altered States of America’s Reign in Blood and guitarist/mastermind Scott Hull has boosted his songwriting repertoire with repeated listening of old DRI and Dark Angel albums, augmenting the classic Earache scoop sound.

First proper song “Agorapocalypse Now” and closer “Flamingo Snuff” strut dive bomb whammy bar abuse lifted from Eddie Van Halen’s wallet while he was busy hate fucking Diamond Dave. “Question of Integrity” trots out a drum machine solo longer than a vast majority of songs in the band’s recockulously overstuffed catalogue.
Tagging in ex-Salome tonsil scraper Katherine Katz for the MIA Carl Schultz with no appreciable loss in psychosis or increase in femininity as the fairer sex gets lyrically molested in classic grindhouse film fashion. While some of the lyrical abuse veers dangerously close to the faux-ironic misogyny of a legion of pr0n grind imitators, ANb back away from the precipice with bizarre Voivod-shout out time travel narrative of the three part “Timelord” penned by Drugs of Faith’s Richard Johnson. “Hung from the Rising Sun” also finds J. Randall dipping into the Shoko Asahara insanity well that fueled Altered States’ freakiest interludes.
The invective-spewing hydraheaded beast may have backed off the microgrind that crowned their rise through the grindcore ranks, but that just makes for a more leisurely tour through the pretty pill-colored wasteland we call modern day America.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Skeleton in the Closet

Any skeletons and all your other sins
Any skeletons in the closet
Any skeletons, any misfortune
Any skeletons hiding in the closet
Any skeleton, any skeleton
In the closet

“A Skeleton in the Closet”
Among the Living

The always erudite Brutalex got my hamster wheel a-spinnin’ after he felt the need to justify his fondness for the decidedly nonmetal Mars Volta to all of his fellow blastbeat and breakdown junkies on the interwebs who are way too quick with screeching accusations of falsity whenever anyone suggests however timidly that Pig Destroyer may not be the most effective migraine cure.
And unless you’re the luckiest motherfucker in the world who was graced with the complete Agathocles discography at your birth or you’re a loudmouthed fucking liar, truth is we’ve all made musical choices in our past that would score in the single digits on the Mohs Scale. Some of us still cherish those albums if we’re honest.
What’s mine?

Ani Difranco
Righteous Babe
I love the grit and sarcastic vitriol from a chick who would kick you in the nuts, tongue kiss your girlfriend and then disparage your record collection.
Ani stomped her scuffed Doc Marten’s into my life courtesy of the obligatory long distance high school/freshman year of college girlfriend (we’re gonna be together forever!).
Half a decade before the usually reliable John Cusack farted his way through the tedium that was High Fidelity (there is NO FUCKING WAY any sentient carbon blob could mistake Stiff Little Fingers for fucking Green Day), me and The Ex would swap mix tapes reflecting what was one our minds at the time (me: a constant stream of Dead Kennedys, Sepultura, Guttermouth, and the Vandals). Somehow when I wasn’t looking, though, the girl who took her junior high year book picture in a faded Ride the Lightening T was sending me mix tapes overflowing with treacley No Doubt ballads and Alannis Morissette’s obnoxious unearned cynicism. The only thing that redeemed that complete waste of a perfectly good Memorex was Ani’s barely restrained snarl on “Napoleon,” a scathing middle finger to the music industry from a punked out folk chick who started her own DIY label at 17 – an age when I was whiling away untold hours playing Doom. Now that’s punk as all fuck.
Dilate was a revelation: Hank Rollins-worthy angst from a woman armed with little more than an acoustic guitar and some honest, scathing fury that never spared her own failures. “Untouchable Face,” “Outta Me, Onto You,” Superhero,” and of course “Napoleon” clandestinely ruled my record collection at a time when I was cutting my teeth as a death metal DJ at the college radio station, blasting Rotting Christ and Dying Fetus tunes for the guys in the local lockup (the only ones who ever phoned in requests -- and always for “Criminally Insane”).
Though I don’t listen to it as often now as I did then and Ani’s other albums do zero for me, the darkness and bile of Dilate have stuck with me for better than a decade. And while I pretty much spin pissed off music every free moment, I’ll be the first to admit Difranco’s excoriating insights still strike me as far more honest and unflinching than generic grind band #2,398,734 giving the deceased equus of the government or society or whatever the fuck else one more good whacking.
So that’s my story. What less than metallic albums make regular appearances in your CD tray or on your hard drive?

[And as an aside to The Ex: not that I’ve held a grudge for more than a decade, but die in a fire you cheating cunt. *smooches*]

Friday, April 17, 2009

Carcass Word of the Day Calendar: April 17, 2009

I am a hot chocolate fiend.
The greatest gift my wife ever game me during our courting years was a really nice home hot cocoa maker. I love that machine. Each winter I fire it up just about nightly and guzzle a pot of gourmet chocolate by myself. And other than sending
Wilford Brimley into diabetic shock, I never expected my wintry addiction would have any serious health effects until my doc did a routine blood test during my most recent check up and cautioned me my calcium levels were off the charts. Barring an immediate change in diet, she said, I ran the risk of developing kidney stones. My dad caught a bad bout of the stones when I was a kid and I can honestly say, Carcass’ “Manifestation of Verrucose Urethra” from Reek of Putrefaction comes pretty damn close to describing the pain I witnessed. So for the inaugural Carcass calendar for 2009, let’s marvel at the sheer density of sesquipedalian verbiage the band managed to cram into a brief song that answers that age old question, Why does it burn when I pee?

Bloody hypertrophy of papillae spewing urethritis like urticaria
Septicaemia filled dermis scorched by acidic uric nocturia.
Verrucose urethra
Glutenous condyloma
Ureterocoeles excreting warm, decaying, cystic pemphigus
Gnawing at flesh with rancid uraturial lust.
Hypertrophy – n. abnormal enlargement of an organ.
Papillae – n. small nipple-like protrustions.
Urethritis – n. inflammation of the urethra.
Urticaria – n. a transient skin allergy characterized by pale or reddened irregular, elevated patches and severe itching.
Septicemia – n. a persistent blood-borne bacterial infection.
Uric – adj. of or pertaining to or derived from urine.
Nocturia – n. night time urination.
Verrucose – adj. studded with wart-like protuberances.
Glutenous – adj. like gluten, a wheat-based adhesive
Condyloma – n. yet another wart-like protuberance, usually on the anus or genitals.
Ureterocoeles – n. a congenital abnormality of the bladder in which the distal ureter balloons at its opening into the bladder, forming a sac-like pouch.
Cystic – adj. pertaining to have cysts.
Pemphigus – n. any of several fatal skin diseases characterized by blisters on the skin and mucous membranes.
Uraturial – not a word, but presumably an adjective that means some how related to a hunger for urine.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

G&P review: Victims (How Swede it is Again, Part 7)

The slavering V8 wolf’s head on the cover pretty much tells you everything you need to know about Victims’ latest slab of crusty as fuck d-beat punk.
Though it’s been available on wax for about a year, American hardcore staple Deathwish dragged Killer into the digital era. And seriously, what the fuck took so long? Seriously.
Guitarist Jon Lindqvist (who works days in Sayyadina) performs battlefield surgery on his guitar, and bassist Johan Erksson’s bestial roar has never, EVER sounded so pissed. Built on Andy Henriksson’s (also of Sayyadina) steamhammer drum assault, Victims scorch 16 tracks of elite Scand-beat crust that traffics in exceptional songwriting.
The aptly named Killer hits with the subtlety of a rush hour semi pileup. “We’re Fucked” (take away message, the world sucks and we’re fucked) is about as nuanced as you’re gonna get from Lindqvist et al. (In case that innuendo slipped past you unnoticed, follow up “Destroy and Rebuild’s” gang chant chorus “The world is fucked up” may hammer that point home.)
The transition from the gang chorused goodness of “Try?” to the spiked belt melodies and Discharge worship of “Killing” is a natural wonder that should be preserved in amber and unearthed for study and made the subject of dissertations by a more enlightened era that doesn’t equate buying a Green Day shirt from your mall’s Hot Topic with the true essence of punk.

Friday, April 10, 2009

G&P review: Wolfbrigade (How Swede it is Again, Part 6)

I’m not fickle, but every so often even I get burned out on Swedish punk. But right at the nadir of my doldrums invariably I latch on to an album that reignites my love of crusty d-beat punk played with Scandinavian purpose and passion and it’s like losing my punk cherry all over again. Last year it was Disfear’s Live the Storm I contemplated permanently gluing into my CD player. I may have to sand off the Krazy glue because it looks like 2009 will belong to Wolfbrigade’s Comalive.
Wolfbrigade (ne Wolfpack) turn in an album that’s like snorting a line of adrenaline and fucking a naked electric socket. That’s not to say there’s thing one new about Comalive. From the clichéd air raid siren opening to the bass throbbing crust, everything about the album is comfortably familiar like that worn in pair of combat boots. Scandi-punk’s own inertia is overcome by the band’s collective force of will and they harness a lifetime of hardcore ethics and energy (seriously, some of these guys have roots in the legendary Anti Cimex) to pull their musical Lazarus routine.
“High Tech Degradation” ticks off a familiar litany of how humanity is destroying itself. Musically, “Barren Dreams” churns with stuttered thrash picking and “In Adrenaline” rips through a dervish solo scratched over an insistent punk drive.
Disfear ruled my punk listening in 2009 and unless American hardcore steps up in a major way in the next 8 months, it looks like that title will remain with the Swedes.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

G&P review: The Arson Project (How Swede it is Again, Part 5)

The Arson Project
Blood and Locusts
Power It Up
The liner notes to Blood and Locusts namechecks a pretty comprehensive swath of the current Swedish grind scene with Splitter, From the Ashes and Afgrund all getting shout outs. And while each one is an exemplar of the NWOSGC (sorry, hadda do it) sound, like meandering Frodo, newcomers The Arson Project just may be in possession of the one grind ring to rule them all with a compelling restatement all of that is good and wonderful about grind in 14 minutes.
I think the thing I love the most about Swedish grind is the crispness – that tension between brutal songwriting and performance and the clarity of the production that allows every searing note and beat and yowl to rip a dimensional wall through your speakers and lacerate your brain. The Arson Project manage to rail grind the very fine line between those two poles with poise and aplomb, turning in an ear bleeding assault that’s a wonder to behold for their debut EP. The production by Gadget’s William Blackmon is monstrous, but Oscar Lindbergh’s drums do tend to get lost behind Daniel Rosenqvist and Sebastian Kling’s respective guitar and bass typhoon. However, the blunt force wall of sound is like jousting with bulldozers.
While The Arson Project hit all the right Svensk notes, Rosenqvist and singer Niklas Larson seem to share an unconscious kinship with copylefters Graf Orlock. “The Black List,” especially, nicks some of the riffing style and vocal pacing from the Californians when the howled bridge kicks in at about the 50 second mark.
The Arson Project’s hit it and quit it 60 second blasts hark back to every death scuffed band to cut song lengths and up BPMs since Terrorizer, but ADHD attack neatly serves as the set up to the band’s song writing punchline. “God of War’s” inferno blasts sprout a nifty twining, serpentine guitar riff and “Mentalit Avrattad,” one of the EP’s longest songs, goes from 60 to 0 in the space of a bar, making way for a bass-led Godzilla stomp break that gets to lumber across Blood and Locusts for a full minute before oozing into Jesu-style guitar chimes.
In a 14 minute scorched earth assault The Arson Project burn down the house their grind forefathers built, clearing the land for a new wave of young, brash innovators to reseed the landscape.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Blast(beat) from the Past: Sewn Shut (How Swede it is Again, Part 4)

Sewn Shut
Rediscovering the Dead
The political is personal, or so goes the thinking of aging ’70s leftists. But for Sweden’s Sewn Shut, the political is pathological. Exalting in the same deep seated political misanthropy that sends Rotten Sound and countrymen Retaliation on killing sprees motivated this two man CSI: Malmo episode.
Why argue politics when you can just slaughter the stupid and end all the bickering?
Though the songs collected here come from various splits with our gore fan brethren, Sewn Shut are less interested in feasting on entrails as much so as reading them, trying to augur the source of humanity’s self destructive impulses.
Whatever its source, turns out humanity can be exorcized with a burly blend of grind’s most misanthropic progenitors. From the sound of it, drummer/vocalist/and occasional guitarist and bassist Rodrigo has successfully completed an internship at the Ken Own Institute of Percussion Production. His skinswork consistently hits with that same flat, sickening whaling-on-a-three-day-old –corpse sound that made Reek of Putrefaction a classic. Guitarist/bassist Esse also exhumes and consumes grind's finer progenitors, ripping through the classic Carcass and Repulsion back catalogues like a cemetry backhoe.
Given that Rediscovering the Dead is a compilation, the production is bit spotty but overall holds up well enough for your aspiring thrill killer grind fiend. Rediscover this dead twosome and climb that water tower with a rifle and a smile.