Friday, October 30, 2009

G&P Review: Graf Orlock

Graf Orlock

Destination Time Today

Adagio 830

For years now a friend and I have been playing fantasy film league dream casting while meticulously plotting what we think would be the ultimate gangster/heist film. It’s an ideal lineup anchored by Harvey Keitel, James Woods, Christopher Walken, Joe Pantoliano and Steve Buscemi; Jean Reno would be paired with the arbiter of French cool Alain Delon; of course noble bloodshed staples Chow Yun-Fat and Andy Lau would have roles; ditto with the tripartite titans of Yakuza films Riki Takeuchi, Sho Aikawa and Takeshi Kitano. Alex Cox, David Cronenberg and Jim Jarmusch would all get cameos as stylized angels of body horror death. Forest Whitaker and Lawrence Fishbourne would both be sent to fat camp and whipped into shape for their roles. Michael Caine and Bob Hoskins would lord over the British contingent as Limey godfathers to new jacks such as Clive Owen and Thomas Hardy. And just to prove we can out-Tarantino Mr. Quentin in the resurrecting-under-appreciated-actors shtick, we’ve got a lovingly crafted role for Sy Richardson, who was pretty much the prototype for Sam Jackson during those bleak years between the death of Blaxploitation and the advent of Jules Winnfield.

We’re currently putting out calls to Abel Ferrara, Nicolas Winding Refn, Chan-Wook Park, and Michael Haneke for their directorial take.

That much we agree on. What I haven’t convinced him of just yet is hiring Graf Orlock to soundtrack it all, but I think the sweeping cinematics of Destination Time Today just may sway him. The conclusion to the Californian copylefters’ sample-swiping time travel revenge/assassination trilogy of grindular goodness. As always, the riffs are meaty and mean and the vocals are a pass the mic grab bag of ’80s and ’90s shooters and scifi dialogue (Terry Gilliam’s time travel paradox 12 Monkeys gets liberally quoted) repurposed and larded with nods to the film school drop outs’ favorite films. Sure it's not as grindy as its predecessors (like Star Wars, I think we can all agree the second installment was the finest) but it's a damn sight better than "Eye of the Tiger."

But befitting its place in the narrative when our cinematic hero would get all badass on a slew of ill-starred underlings or when our survivor girl would stop running and pick up an axe, Destination Time Today takes on a truly triumphant tone with “An Interest in Prosthetics,” the last song on the first side. It’s shot through with a blistering trumpet call riff that almost hearkens back to call in the infantry cowboy pictures of yore. Flip the platter and the B side starts with the deadly serious “Deluxe Mental Hospital Tour,” presaging the bullet riddled bloodbath that we all know is inevitable. Of course the crisis is averted, the hero gets the girl and the bad guy takes a well earned dirt nap for his efforts. Like the films on which Graf Orlock have based their career, it’s not the destination that counts – whether it’s tomorrow, yesterday or today – it’s the journey that’s important. I’ve already booked my tickets for wherever Graf Orlock care to venture next because this is sure fire Oscar contender this year.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

G&P Review: Insect Warfare

Insect Warfare
Insect Warfare

625 Thrash
Insect Warfare’s single-side, Pepto Bismol pink 10 minute mindfuck vinyl kissoff didn’t click until I saw them namecheck Gore Beyond Necropsy on the back. And then everything made perfect sense.
Anyone expecting World Extermination 2: Electric Boogaloo will be sorely disappointed by the subsequent confounding, Merzbow-esque noise assault. Like Merzbow and GBN (who have collaborated in the past), Insect Warfare (who are briefly active again) gave grind the finger and deliberately confounded their fans with a 10 minute assault of lo-fi noise and FX box abuse that sounds more like elctrogrinders Jesus of Nazareth than Endless Execution Through Violent Resolution.
The songs, if they can be divided in any kind of way, uniformly start with a four beat count off and then devolve into piercing electronic detritus – Beau Beasley is not credited with playing any guitars on this at all but rather other electronic goodies – that threatened to be swallowed by staticky white noise. This is grindcore as performed by poorly maintained industrial machinery in an era before work place safety laws. You just know somebody lost an arm in the process.
Whether or not this is an enjoyable listening experience is almost a secondary quandary as Insect Warfare defiantly pushes grindcore’s outer limits. After being the standard bearer from trad grind’s resurgence the last few years, it’s a startling transition that only reinforces the notion my sneaking suspicion that there may have been more to the Texas trio than they have hinted at on past releases. While younger bands have advanced and perfected similar sounds, Insect Warfare just may have won that war with grindcore, cementing their hall of fame status in the process.

Friday, October 23, 2009

G&P Review: Parlamentarisk Sodomi

Parlamentarisk Sodomi

Regnskog, Fred Og Vegetarmat

625 Thrash

Like a rectal magician pulling a rabbit-shaped dildo out of your ass, Parlamentarisk Sodomi’s encore to De Anarkistiske An(n)aler finds one man metal militia Papirmollen once again brutalizing ears and assholes as he wages a lone wolf war on parliament, the United States and unethical vegetarian food manufacturers.

Lifting “Regnskog, Fred Og Vegetarmat” from De Anarkistiske An(n)aler and adding five new songs, the EP doesn’t feel as consistently strong or unhinged and dangerous as Sodomi’s prior full length, but even these cutting room floor clippings tower over a lot of what passes for political grindcore. The guitars drill down through our privileged, comfortable lifestyle like a diamond-tipped class warfare probe while Papirmollen barks out a litany of war crimes amid anarchist street battle drumming.

“Terrormat FRP” divebombs Norgwegian neo-Nazi politicians and their brownshirted followers with a whammy bar-heavy solo that manages to split the difference between Eddie Van Halen and Kerry King. “Knus Junaiten (USA Do)” gives me one more good reason to be guilty for being an American in a concise 1:26.

Parlamentarisk Sodomi was already guaranteed a prominent spot on many an end of year countdown list courtesy of De Anarkistiske An(n)aler so Regnskog, Fred Og Vegetarmat is just one more cum shot of icing on the anarchist cake.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

G&P Review: Parlamentarisk Sodomi

Parlamentarisk Sodomi

De Anarkistiske An(n)aler

625 Thrash

That gimp-masked lion on the cover (a nod to Norway’s coat of arms) comes bearing a bad attitude, a dildo and entire gym bag full of rechargeable Durcaells, a ball gag, nipple clips and a roll of duct tape on Parlamentarisk Sodomi’s second long player. One man fuck fiend Papirmollen pokes, prods and pisses in every orifice Norway’s reigning unicameral body has to offer with 12 new songs that sound like Terrorizer frozen in carbonite in 1986 and Buck Rogersed into the 21st Century with nary a trace of freezer burn in the process. As with Har Du Sagt "A" Får Du Si "Nal," prominent Norwegian parliamentarians get called out for a bit of verbal BDSM and in a brilliant nod to Carcass of yore, all of the solos are named. The first side of this vinyl treat brings all the breathless brutality that made Parlamentarisk Sodomi one of the standouts of 2008. “Styeg Urban Uvirkeugaet” and “Jeun Oslo Med Joroa” both rip from the get go serving up equal portions of Pintado grind and Hanneman/King whammy bar abuse soloing over flailing trash can drumming.

But it’s side B where things get genuinely interesting. Beginning with a near-Locust calliope-core riff, the nearly 11 minute “Klaebukranikene (de Anarkistiske An(n)aler)” just might be one of the most ambitious, excoriating pieces of up tempo music I’ve heard since Disfear decided to pen a 9 minute d-beat tune. Clearly An(n)aler’s centerpiece and highlight, the song careens through hopscotching grindcore and classic European thrash motifs pierced by a snarling, slightly trebled doublepicked bandsaw riff over top and stitched with cymbal clutching goodness. There have been 10 minute grind albums that couldn’t hold my attention beyond a listen or two, but “Klaebukranikene’s” Louis Black smoking an eight ball intensity grabs me by the face, comes up with some Clockwork Orange equivalent gizmo for me ears and forces to me to fucking pay attention.

If there is any album that could potentially wrest Wormrot’s hard won grindcore crown from them this year, it would likely be De Anarkistiske An(n)aler. And I don’t say that just because Papirmollen mentioned *cough* a certain blog *ahem* in his thank you list. (Dude, that just made my decade).

[Anybody got any clue why Blogger is refusing to upload images?] *fixed*

It’s the Vinyl Countdown

*cue triumphant slab of melted Havarti Swedish keyboard rock goodness*
I have written many times of my turntable woes: two record players sitting around my house broken while dozens of wonderful vinyl-only albums go whizzing by me. But you may have noticed lately, I’ve been digging out my flat plastic goodies. Given some impetus from the nice people at Forcefield Records, who sent me a care package full of EPs and LPs, I’ve finally gotten off my fat ass and fixed one of my turntables. So for the last few months I’ve been giddily getting caught up with all of the year’s vinyl releases that I had missed. And oh has 2009 been ever so kind.
(And yes, I know Havarti is Danish and not Swedish. So, bakdafuggup.)

Friday, October 16, 2009

G&P DVD Review: Enemy Soil

Enemy Soil

Smashes the State Live


As a live DVD, Enemy Soil’s Smashes the State Live compilation is a fairly average collection of homebrew footage of the seminal Virginia grind-go-round. Despite largely being shot by hand-held video cameras in the finer rec center gyms and school hallways of Maryland, D.C. and Virginia as well as in a choice Canadian basement, the video quality (edited down in spots) is consistently clear and the sound is surprisingly robust for the amateur (not an insult) quality videography. In an era of multi-camera, perfectly edited concert footage DVDs that look more like MTV promos than a genuine recreation of a metal experience, that atavism refreshing.

While the DVD as a video experience is a solid if average product, the moment of revelation came when I realized there is nary a drum machine on Smashes the State Live. As someone who has only experience the band on CD and has always compartmentalized them as the historical antecedents of the drum machine grind movement, it’s an epiphany. Instead, a pre-Pig Destroyer Brian Harvey mans the throne for the bulk of the performances. It forced me to zero in on the human element of Enemy Soil: a young J.R. Hayes demonstrating his maniacal magnetism well before he earned his high school diploma, Omid Yamini (of later Battletorn fame – a connection I had not previously made; one of the City of Caterpillar guys also played a prominent role) and his ominous, burbling bass assault and of course the chronological creep of stickers on band mainstay Richard Johnson’s Warlock. Think of it as the ghost behind the machine. Though my pulse does the cha-cha at the thought of 1,000-bpm mechanical percussion, it was that human element that truly powered Enemy Soil despite its chimerical line up over the years. Seeing them live sans mechanical accompaniment only reinforces that realization.

How much you’ll get out of Smashes the State Live will be directly proportional to your attachment to the band and its legacy. Like Johnson said at their 2001 reunion show in New York, “For better or for worse, we’re Enemy Soil.”

That you were; turns out I hardly knew ye.

[Full disclosure: Richard Johnson kindly sent me a copy].

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Happy Blogaversary to Me (and all of you)

Yesterday was the blogaversary 'round these parts.
In light of that I want to thank anyone who's clicked a link, dropped a comment or contributed to the really awesome conversations that have been developing around here in the last year. You ladies and gentlemen have contributed to some truly fascinating discussions that have helped me not only refine my thoughts, but often that challenge my own thinking on this funny little critter we call grindcore.
And as with last year, a look back at the whole idea that got me blogging in the first place.

Two years in, where is Grind and Punishment going? Well, now you can all look forward to my terrible twos.

Characterized by toddlers being negative about most things and often saying 'no', the terrible twos may also find your toddler having frequent mood changes and temper tantrums.

To help you cope with this normal stage in your child's development, you should always remember that your child isn't trying to be defiant or rebellious on purpose. He is just trying to express his growing independence and doesn't have the language skills to easily express his needs. This can also be the reason why your toddler frequently gets frustrated and resorts to hitting, biting, and temper tantrums when he doesn't get his way.

Forget what I said about all that simple joy stuff; this sounds like way more fun.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

G&P Review: Gorod

Process of a New Decline

According to French metallions Gorod’s cosmology, an advanced extra-terrestrial species known as the Chaosmongers the Minarians come to Earth with the intention of bursting through Dimension Hatross enslaving and exploiting humanity after first guiding them through an evolutionary “autodestruction phase.” Somewhere in all that an alien ambassador named Soracle, the shadowy Obsequim Minaris society and some guy named Adam play prominent parts. Are you lost? Yeah, me too. I’ll just assume in the end we find out it’s a cookbook!!1! (Fun random fact, Richard Kiel of James Bond Jaws fame played one of the aliens in that episode.)
Mockery aside, Gorod’s third album of sci fi encrusted technical metal shenanigans hits all the right calculus-core equations required of the genre. The songs skitter like a chunk of butter dropped into a ripping hot skillet, refusing to settle on any single riff or movement for long but rather slide and splatter around you. A song like “Programmers of Decline” hops about between fragments of riffs like nanoscale robot fleas.
Gorod are at their best when they blithely skip away from tech metal convention. Opener “Disavow Your God” busts out a transcendent melody right before the two minute mark that glances off the song’ more protein packed sections is easily Process of a New Decline’s highlight. After your obligatory Martian invader of the Theremin-style opening, “The Path” veers into almost gothic and *gasp* poppy bridge that bounces cleaner vocals off of FXed ad astra guitars in a pairing that harkens back to Dark Tranquility circa Haven. Ditto with “Watershed,” which warps into delicate alien arias that highlight not only Gorod’s obvious technical mastery but the always elusive songwriting craft as well. That may be Gorod’s strongest point. Tech metal is custom crafted for self indulgence but Process of a New Decline shows Gorod know how to ruthlessly edit out the frippery when a song like the relatively straightforward “Splinters of Life.”
Tech metal isn’t my thing but I can appreciate the craft and artistry that went into Process of a New Decline. While it will definitely set the graphing calculator set aflame with passion, I just don’t see it converting outsiders like me.

[Full disclosure: Willowtip provided me with a review copy.]