Wednesday, July 30, 2008

G&P review: Looking For An Answer

Looking for an Answer
Living Dead Society
When punk and metal dip their toes into the political pool, they’re generally known for breeding some fairly extreme stances. And if we’re honest, some of the scene’s politics are hilariously questionable.
Take d-beat defenders Tragedy, who, while unarguably are one of the most dedicated and honest practitioners of a 30-year-old style that prizes integrity and DIY over the increasingly mainstream trappings of the current punk and metal business world, also tend to pop off at the mouth about the evils of technology and how it will strangle civilization and the planet. But somehow that ludditism doesn’t extend to electric guitars, recording studios, and CD pressing plants. Just sayin’.
Madrid’s Looking For and Answer, ideological kindred to Cattle Decapitation, suffer from the same conundrum with their “Animal Liberation, Human Extinction” motto. If you’re serious, I say extinction begins at home, so lead by example and step in front of a bus.
Luckily, these grindcore conquistadors, featuring members of Denak and Unsane Crisis, have yet to go gently into that good night, because their latest 29-minute platter of Terrorizer-basted bunny hugger metal is a meaty slab of medium rare grind.
Lopping off the obligatory intro/outro of squealing pigs being led to the slaughter, Looking for an Answer rage against the impending Perdición Mundial through 17 songs of breathless, rampaging, grindy goodness.
Though the obligatory high/low vocal interface comes into play, frontman Inaki is perfectly content to let his gut busting grunt do the talking for most of the album, holding the screech in reserve for highlights and texture. And just in case your Espanol no es bueno, LFAA conveniently provide English translations for the rest of us.
The title track’s bass heavy battery recalls the low end crunch of crusty grind forefathers Phobia while “Cada Nacimiento es una Tragedia” and “Ruptura” chug along like early Bolt Thrower on fast forward.
Mixing Carcass’ penchant for provocation, Cattle Decapitation’s ideology and Terrorizer’s execution, Looking for an Answer have pulled together a crisply produced package of grind that would slot neatly next to Insect Warfare or ASRA in any CD collection. And if you see them at a show, don’t invite them out for a burger.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

G&P review: King Generator

King Generator
King Generator
Mike Hill is a man who knows his way around a studio and his tenure with Anodyne, Versoma and Tombs to date has shown him consistently able to squeeze out Godzilla sounds on a Geico Gecko budget. All that is to say we’re gonna give the man a pass on King Generator’s self titled mini album, which sounds like it was recorded under a pillow in a room full of feathers. I’m assuming that’s got to be deliberate given King Generator’s throwback hardcore style and Hill’s track record behind a mixing board.
I’ve slotted this eight minute barrage between later Capitalist Casualties, Asshole Parade, Slight Slappers and Battletorn on my mp3 player, all of which serve as sign posts for King Generator’s blown out style.
Hill’s bass bleeds into Jamie Thomson’s (The Process/Shank) guitar lines, creating a nearly indistinguishable wall of fuzz while Dave Witte (every significant fast band in the last 15 years) blasts, thumps and whumps his way though all eight sweaty minutes of rapid tempo hardcore.
There’s nothing here that you haven’t heard a bazillion times before – Thomson unintelligibly barks and spits foam while the band chugs away at speeds pushing human endurance limits – but the trio, all of whom have toiled in DIY music since fastcore’s formative years, have the cred and the focus to pull it off successfully, and the album’s short run keeps tedium at bay even when they pull done-to-death stunts like slotting the three minute, down tempo song at the end of the album (“My One Regret”).
As with Hill’s Tombs project and ASRA’s debut on his Black Box label, Tankcrime smartly included a CD version with the single-sided 10-inch vinyl for lose lacking the 1s and 2s at home.
Some of these guys’ recent projects, such as Sino Basila or Hope Collapse, have regrettably been one-off projects rather than going affairs, but King Generator ably reach back into their collective experience to produce an eminently listenable collection of retro tunes. Here’s hoping this generator hasn’t run out of steam after one outing.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

G&P review: This Comp Kills Fascists

Various Artists
The Comp Kills Fascists
An acid laced grind trip through the oh-so-long-ago 1990s, Scott Hull’s pet project, This Comp Kills Fascists, hearkens back to Pessimiser’s classic Cry Now, Cry Later series, which set the standard for power violence, fastcore, what have you a decade gone.
Though Hull hand culled this collection of methed up metal maestros, he demurely keeps his own bands out of the limelight, letting a few lesser lights grab the stage for an hour of panting acceleration with the occasional bowel-scraping sludge break breather.
In that hour, This Comp rams together 14 bands with speed as their common denominator, collecting nostalgic faves (reunited Agents of Satan and Brutal Truth back with their first new tunes in more than a decade), current standard bearers (Kill the Client and Insect Warfare), rising new jacks (ASRA—oops misspelled on the back artwork) and a horde names-you-know-but-maybe-haven’t-heard (Maruta, Shitstorm, Magrudergrind).
Relapse money may be backing the project, but the label smartly kept the wallet closed when the bands hit the studio, giving the whole project that rough production that is so vital to an hourlong comp of bands playing largely identical styles.
While this many bands playing similar styles tend to blur if your attention wanders while spinning this disc, the real stylistic standout is Total Fucking Destruction. But really, name me a situation where Rich Hoak’s three ring grind circus would fade into the background.
Hoak, the only person to score two spots on the disc, also anchors the recently reunited Brutal Truth who hammer out some of their best sounding tracks of their already impressive career. Lethargy/Sulaco guitarist Erik Burke slides into Gurn’s guitar spot, and while the songs may have cashed out some of their wandering jazzy meandering, Burke’s trademark calliope-core keeps the four new tracks whizzing while taking every interesting digression along the way. “Turmoil” has been ass raping ear holes (process that image for a second) on the band’s MySpace page for a bit and the three other songs are just as solid, with none of the thin production that sapped (until now) parting shot Sounds of the Animal Kingdom.
The only quibble I have with the whole outing is with the words “Power Violence” printed down the CD’s spine cuz most of these bands, while they no doubt have some Man is the Bastard and Capitalist Casualties albums in their collections, fall squarely into the grind category. However, to avoid skirting the FCC’s truth in advertising statutes, estrogen-laced Spoonful of Vicodin and the awesomely named Chainsaw to the Face (c’mon, what the fuck do you think a band named Chainsaw to the Face should sound like? Damn skippy) faithfully bring the Neanderthal sludge, breaking up the blast beat monotony.
ASRA, Kill the Client and Insect Warfare, who collectively own the entire Earache catalogue from about 1986 through 1992, sound like the sum of their influences, but a little tradition ain’t such as bad thing when it sounds this goddamn solid, power sander to the ‘nads solid.
Part nostalgia trip, part grindcore tradeshow extravaganza, This Comp doesn’t try settle for recapturing bygone glories but rather reduces, reuses and recycles a concept that’s lost its cache in an era when any band with a MySpace page can get their music to their eager fans. From the cut and paste Dead Kennedys gone George Romero artwork (check out the swastika-cock spewing Dubya and blood drooling Ronald McD on the inside) through the deliberately rough production, This Comp may not strike fascists dead, but it will definitely leave them with heart palpitations.

[Ed’s note: just a quick correction, I had previously mentioned that Crom would be appearing on the comp. Somehow I got my wires crossed cuz they’re not here. But I just wanted to cop to that mistake publicly. Oops.]

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Carcass Word of the Day Calendar: July 20, 2008

A liver destroying ditty about boozing yourself to death by master gore hounds Carcass? I’ll drink to that. One of the Liverpudlian medicalmalpractioners’ great non-album tracks, "Hepatic Tissue Fermentation" (in versions I and II) is a cirrhotic tour through your liver’s last days that just might make you rethink your Friday night plans.

Orally force fed, until cirmosis is induced,
Fatal renal failure, bleeds like a sluice,
Spewing blood as the gallbladder extrudes,
Alcoholic poisoning, bloated lobules burst,
Toxins flood the stomach, in diffluence submerged.
Coughing waste as the wrecked colon tears.
The blood now critically proof, neural cells fatally quenched,
Drowning in spilt retention, hepatic tissue ferments.
Poisoned retention, with intoxication,
Inflamed nephrons burst, your condition's getting worse,
Chronically diffused, your liver you will lose.
Bodily distillation, as emerged flesh reacts,
With alcoholic contents, in your urinary tract.
Dripping fluid as the decrepit appendix weeps.
Matter turns to fluid, intoxicating ablution,
Biliary dehydration, innards to solution.
Bleeding urine as the inflamed bladder rips.
The blood now critically proof, neural cells fatally quenched,
Drowning in spilt retention, hepatic tissue ferments.
Contamination, foul circulation.
Alcohol force fed, goes straight to your head,
Brain tissue damaged, fused with alcohol sewage.
In a stupor you die, your brain lobes you fry.

Cirmosis – Carcass stumped me on this one. Despite my best efforts, I have no clue. In fact, Google it and all you get is page after page of links to Carcass lyrics. If there are any MDs out there who can explain this one, lemme know.
Sluice – n. a gate used to control water flow.
Lobules – n. small lobes or sections of lobes.
Diffluence – v. the act of flowing.
Hepatic – adj. of or pertaining to the liver.
Nephron – n. the filtering and excretory portion of the kidney.
Ablution – n. a cleansing with water.
Biliary – adj. of or related to bile.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

G&P review: Scott Hull

Scott Hull
I’m willing to bet most of you who bought Pig Destroyer’s Terrifyer popped in the audio DVD for “Natasha” once of twice and then promptly forgot about it (I did). But you may want to did out of the back of your closet for another listen before really getting into Scott Hull’s debut solo album (I did).
Not that the two projects are in any way similar, but “Natasha” does give the first glimmers of the cinematic flair and gift for pacing that have been lurking in movie nerd Hull’s psyche for years. Instead of the slash and shred he’s become known for, Requiem shows off Hull’s more contemplative side and as well as his fascination with ’70s keyboard prog. Originally intended for a movie sound track but dropped because of artistic differences, Requiem is half an hour of expansive, subtlety and cinematic scope built around quavering strings and lush keyboards.
Italian soundtrack maestro Sergio Leone and Tangerine Dream both get namechecked in Hull’s introductory notes and both influences are definitely there as well as Pink Floyd circa Umma Gumma through Meddle and Obscured by Clouds with their slow building ambience.
Throw in a bonus track, a lullaby Hull composed for his son, Preston, and Requiem intriguingly challenges our preconceptions about who Hull is and what drives him musically. Those who brush their teeth in sync to blast beats in the morning will inevitably be disappointed, but anyone who’s musical mind is open a crack will take an intriguing trip down the rabbit hole with one of the most accomplished musician’s currently working in metal. Note I didn’t just say metal musician.
Showing a deftness and restraint that may go unnoticed amid the carefully arranged chaos of Agoraphobic Nosebleed or Pig Destroyer, Hull’s ear for cinematic pacing and emotionally subtlety leave you wondering when the man will step out of the mixing room and behind the camera.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

G&P review: Rudimentary Peni

Rudimentary Peni
No More Pain
“Pachelbel’s Canon in E,” the last track on Rudimentary Peni’s latest EP, No More Pain, may have you wondering if guitarist/artist/novelist/psychiatric patient Nick Blinko has been taking the right meds. Or any meds at all. The tune, a fuzz-drenched psychedelic version of Baroque organist Johann Pachelbel’s “Canon” seethes and scrawls like an amateur stoner rock band on the verge of blowing the fuses in mom and dad’s garage.
The unexpected twist is quite a feat for a band that has consistently pushed punk beyond its … erm … rudimentary limitations for the better part of three decades. It also confirms why Rudimentary Peni is still my favorite punk band.
Their fourth E.P. since 1995’s Pope Adrian 37th Psychristriatic, the band has turned its back on full lengths and pared the fluff from their songwriting, only issuing the best tunes in their queue. The result has been a string of consistently excellent 15 minute bursts of death rock every few years.
And at 20 minutes, No More Pain is the longest of their most recent offerings, blasting out delectable slices of their accustomed doom and gloom, such as the T.S. Elliot referencing opening “A Handful of Dust,” a grating, groaning meditation on death a million anime-haircutted bands in girl jeans would slit their wrists to have penned. But knowing Blinko’s history with mental illness and psychoactive pharmaceuticals, the near suicidal vibe of No More Pain rings more poignant than bratty.
Blinko’s deceptively simple riffs pack enough slice through his lyrical scars, leaving fresh wounds on his psyche during the ZZ Top shuffle of “Doodlebug Baby” and necrotic creak of “The Eyes of the Dead” while Grant Matthews’ busy, burbling bass work propels the songs over John Grenville’s solid drumming.
If you’re still hoping for another Cacophony or Death Church, you’ll be disappointed, but after treading their own dreary musical path for damn near 30 years, Rudimentary Peni’s latest shows a band in full command of its impressive talents forging ahead with a singularly bleak musical vision.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

G&P review: Iron Lung

Iron Lung
Sexless//No Sex
2008 will be remembered as a fine year for power violence and the vintage Iron Lung stomps out is particularly delectable.
Pair it with some fava beans and The Endless Blockade’s Primitive for a delectable repast.
Aside from the usual Man is the Bastard and Capitalist Casualties influences, the duo (with roots in Artimus Pyle, Vae Victus, Gehenna and GOB) pillage from both their past and some of the best noise that noise rock has to offer, giving their slower songs a boost of groove. Helmet heft and stomp rubs against abrasive, ringing guitar tones a la Neurosis cradled by a touch of mid-tempo Anodyne rage. The title tune in particular is hummably lumbering mass that ably displays the best of Iron Lung’s influences and sheer songwriting craft.
And Sexless//No Sex is the band’s best sounding 20 minutes of music to date without sacrificing sonic bulk for clarity.
But the real coup for Iron Lung, though, was snagging the impossibly detailed black and white artwork by Nick Blinko, Rudimentary Peni’s gifted, if a tad unstable, mastermind. Blinko’s stark linework has always separated his band’s image from the hordes of black and white photos of war and destruction Xeroxed into grimy oblivion that have plagued anybody who played with or was influenced by Discharge.
All told, this is one vow of celibacy I can get behind

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Max Ward Beyond Thunderdome: Hardcore Road Warrior Refuses to Be One More Capitalist Casualty

In the annals of hardcore over the last couple of decades, Max Ward has been there, done that and pressed it on a limited edition 7” split. And if you listen, dude will break down the free market forces that went into making that record.
Though Ward, a.k.a. Hirax Max, a.k.a. Battle Axe Max, has hung up his drum sticks after an accomplished career spent anchoring the likes of Plutocracy, Spazz and Capitalist Casualties, the guy is still giving his all to music as the man behind the consistently awesome 625 Thrash records. Almost 20 years later, the guy still gets off on a good blast beat when he’s not busting his ass in graduate school applying Marxist dialectics to interwar Japan.
With power violence (Ward prefers the term fastcore) enjoying a well-earned renaissance as grinders and hardcore kids who grew up on California’s unique punk twist in the 1990s putting a new spin on an old style, I thought I’d hit up Ward to rehash his salad days as a fixture on the scene and get an update on the latest with 625.What I got instead was an amazingly detailed conversation about the socio-economic state of the world as it trudges toward globalization and how punk has just become one more mall commodity from one of its more insightful practioners.
“Max is one guy I have nothing negative to say about. If you know me, that's very rare,” said Bloody Phoenix guitarist Jerry Flores. “He's a good guy.”
Flores first met Ward when the guitarist was fronting L.A. grinders Excruciating Terror, finding themselves on bills with Spazz and Plutocracy. And when Flores went hunting for a label to back his newest band, he turned to Ward.
“Max has been around,” Flores said. “I'm sure he's had plenty of both positive and negative experiences dealing with different people over the years. I'm sure he's got a pretty good sense of what is fair. Probably a partial reason as to why he started his label.”
But, ya see, Ward never set out to be the P. Diddy of hardcore and grind. He just needed a place to put out records that jazzed him and the guy comes off as downright conflicted about turning music into a consumer product.
“Yeah, music and industry do not belong together, whether that is the home-screen printing bootlegger selling shirts on eBay or the ‘DIY’ label like mine,” Ward said. “I think the minute you start worrying about recovering your expenses on a release than it’s all lost. Music needs to be an experience rather than a commodity, but you can’t really tour and create that experience if you don’t have commodities to sell for food and gas. But yeah, I got really down on the scene by running a label. It’s a fucking disgusting business, even at the small level that I am.”
With the benefit of a decade of hindsight we tend to think of the first wave of power violence and Bay Area hardcore bands now as institutions, demigods who unleashed a fitful racket that immediately changed the course of music as we know it. The truth, natch, is a bit more complicated. We tend to forget that those bands played their share of half empty basement shows and struggled to get a 7 inch pressed. DIY wasn’t necessarily just a political statement; it was a matter of necessity if the aspiring musicians were serious about what they were doing.
“I started putting records out cuz no one would touch Plutocracy, so I released, or help release, the first few EPs,” Ward said. “Later, I wanted to get ETO and No Less out so I started 625 to do that. It just kinda took off from there. I wanted to release bands form the local scene, so I would take 625 records out on tour with me and try to get people turned on to the smaller bands back home, bands that I thought were much bigger than most of the ‘big’ bands that I was in at the time.”
Listen to any band bitch long enough and they’ll whistle you a few bars of the “label done me wrong” blues, but you don’t here that from musicians who’ve partnered with Ward to put out albums.
“Max rules,” Insect Warfare guitarist Beau Beasley said. “He’s one of the only guys I truly trust to release our music. He is incredibly honest and he actually likes a lot of the same bands I do. Also, he picks up his phone and is very considerate of the bands he works with. Money and making it big or definitely not on his agenda. I’ve known Max for a while and I sent him the first IW demo and he wanted to release it. My response was ‘of course.’ I cant think of anyone else I’d want to release our stuff. Dude is legit. Not a piece of shit like all these other jackasses.”
But releasing records by some of the leading lights in modern American grind is just one notch in Ward’s belt.
From the rather prosaic confines of California’s power violence scene in the ‘90s, Ward has turned hardcore ambassador to the world; 625’s signature accomplishment seems to be culling the best hard core has to offer from across the globe. His specialty, in particular, seems to be snagging acts from scenes in burgeoning third world countries (look out for a comp dedicated to South East Asian hardcore later this year) that would never ordinarily get play here in America. That the bands come from countries and regions that have experienced genuine political and cultural repression may not be a coincidence either.
“I mean, I think its rad to be able to check out bands from Indonesia, Singapore, Serbia, Macedonia, even Africa now that all play fastcore, but the same imperialism exists within the scene that ‘globalization’ in general has reproduced.” Ward said. “… I think the geopolitics of the 1980s made things more pressing, so you had European bands singing about NATO, you had Eastern European bands sneaking tapes out of the country to get pressed. Now it’s just Rupert Murdoch’s MySpace and all-over print longsleeves on eBay. … I think the records that I’m proudest of are the EPs like Domestik Doktrin (Indonesia) and Secret 7 (Singapore), or LPs like I Shot Cyrus and Discarga (both Brazil) that would not have happened unless I did it. I think so many people are clamoring to do the next Career Suicide record they lose site that there is a whole world out there - one that would be richer and more diverse if we stopped pandering to bands that played ‘American ’82 HC’ style.”

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

G&P review: The Endless Blockade

The Endless Blockade
20 Buck Spin
Primitive is fucking right. This Ontario power violence collective rages like a pissed off Neanderthal (*nudge, nudge wink, wink*).
Praise Vishnu, power violence has been on the upswing again as this plague of girl pantsed mall metal seems to finally be cresting before the inevitable backlash. Leading the resurgence has been The Endless Blockade, who crest the sine wave bass rumbles that Man is the Bastard left unfinished, mashing together Swan dive two step, bastardized noise and martial blast beats into a frenetic assault on the senses.
One thing that sure is hell is not primitive is the sterling production that graces the album courtesy of Chris Hegge and the ubiquitous Scott Hull. Primitive’s guitars and noise scrape through the speakers with a precise balance of static and clarity, giving the seconds long songs a punchy resonance.Though these Canucks rarely break the minute mark with the frenetic, pounding outbursts that pass for songs, Primitive offers a wide array of tunes, such as the electrofrazzled “Perfection,” which could pass as one of those Agoraphobic Nosebleed interludes in a blindfolded test. We’re also treated to yet another version of the microburst “The Endless Blockade,” whose lyrics are encapsulated by the title, this time barked out by benevolent punk icon Jello Biafra. Primitive closes with “Do Not Resuscitate,” the album’s longest song, a fried fx board creeping crawl of burned out electronics and sputtering vacuum tubes. Sure, that’s been done a few trillion times before, but The Endless Blockade inject fresh blood into the power violence scene, which is enjoying a well deserved renaissance in the 21st Century