Monday, May 31, 2010

G&P Review: Achzavoth/Suckinim Baenaim

Achzavoth/Suckinim Baenaim

Urban Decay

And Moses and Aaron came in unto Pharaoh, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me? let my people go, that they may serve me. Else, if thou refuse to let my people go, behold, tomorrow will I bring the locusts into thy coast: and they shall cover the face of the earth, that one cannot be able to see the earth: and they shall eat the residue of that which is escaped, which remaineth unto you from the hail, and shall eat every tree which groweth for you out of the field; and they shall fill thy houses, and the houses of all thy servants, and the houses of all the Egyptians; which neither thy fathers, nor thy fathers' fathers have seen, since the day that they were upon the earth unto this day. And he turned himself, and went out from Pharaoh.
Exodus 10:3-6

If the very thought of The Locust’s spastic keyboard-driven hardcore sets you gnawing drywall, lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate and all that jazz. Suckinim Baenaim turn in a yoeman’s effort playing downbeat keyboard crunk, but they can’t escape the long shadow of The Locust and based on that comparison alone, you already know if you’ll dig this or detest it. Even the song titles are downright Acrididae in nature. Seriously, “Sometimes I Want to be the Tiny Porid Fly Who Falls in Love” pretty much tells you whether you’ll love or hate this. “Coffee Gives Me Energy But the Stench of Your Corpse Gives Me a Reason to Live” writhes with convulsive, skin crawling keyboards and a sardonic vocal lash.

Suckinim Baenaim – “Coffee Gives Me Energy But the Stench of Your Corpse Gives Me a Reason to Live”

Flipside, things get odder. Achzavoth mind meld stadium rock gong, Shaft-theme high hat and funeral march guitars in the opening 30 seconds and the band launches a space rock odyssey from cobbled together parts scavenged from High on Fire and Boris. At their peak, Achzavoth bring a comforting boogie groove, but when the vocalist wanders away from his Matt Pike impersonation there’s no way of avoiding the fact that his nasally whine is pretty annoying.
While each band ably apes their forebears, I’m still left puzzled as exactly who is the target audience for this split? Is there a cross pollination of The Locus and stoner rock fans out there clamoring to see workmanlike reproductions of better bands square off head to head? If that’s you, this should hit the sweet spot.

[Full disclosure: Urban Decay sent me a download for review.]

Thursday, May 27, 2010

G&P Review: Mondo Gecko/D9

Mondo Gecko/D9
Split 12-inch

Urban Decay
Punk as all fuck.
There’s something truly zen about punk and hardcore. Like a deceptively simple koan, three chords and a chained wallet full of attitude bring an unexpected variety and complexity that have let this seemingly dead end musical offshoot flourish for three decades now without any sign of burnout or abatement. Wherever you find pissed off kids, you’ll find punk. Turns out there’s plenty of pissed kids in Israel as evidenced by this split featuring trad ’core punks Mondo Gecko and power violence purveyors D9.
D9 TA a master’s seminar in punk economy: songs are short, direct and played with the heft and bite of metal. It’s all Siege and Deep Wound worship as proto-grind/power violence get soldered to traditional hardcore. “Shapes Chasing Shadows” even cracks blast beat speeds occasionally, but also crushes some cyclopean stomp double kick action as well.

D9 – “Shapes Chasing Shadows”

Then there’s the churning, deep mine drill bit of “Jigsaw Your Existence,” which is all cracking bedrock force and shrapnel shard screams chipping off hardcore intensity. On the vocal front, deep sea creepy crawler “Deep Abyss” boasts some grunts ’n’ gargles almost as deep as a Mariana crevasse.
Do you like Minor Threat? Probably not as much as Mondo Gecko who turn in the same declamatory outbursts as the venerable D.C. institution on their opening half of this split. “Brothers in Blasphemy” gargles glass over serrated guitars while “Blind Horse” boasts a bodyslamming bass groove and a break down (complete with gang vocals) counted off in …. Spanish? (Ummm.... OK). But Mondo Gecko’s amalgam of scratchy steel wool punk and ragged vocal desperation gets turned out to best effect on “Frozen Mountain”

Mondo Gecko – “Frozen Mountain”

This is a band that’s so desperate to make an impact the music careens on the razored punk edge between total implosion and feeding time at the piranha tank that gives it so much explosive urgency.
Punk as all fuck.

[Full disclosure: Urban Decay sent me a download for review.]

Insert 'Metal Health' Joke [HERE]

It's a couple years old, but a pair of rather droll British researchers in 2008 conducted a study of head banging related injuries among metalheads. In what has to be the greatest title for medical research outside of the gems you'd find on A Good Poop blog, the study - Head and neck injury risks in heavy metal: head bangers stuck between rock and a hard bass - evaluated the risk of neck and brain (wait, what?) injury stemming from seriously rocking the fuck out.
To avoid traumatic brain and neck injury, the study offers such pearls of wisdom as "replacing heavy metal with adult oriented rock, only head bang to every second beat, or use personal protective equipment."
Ok, maybe not But given Slayer recently had to cancel their tour with Megadeth so doctors can weld Tom Araya's spine back together, it's fascinating to see someone taking a serious, medical look at what most of us probably shrugged off as no big deal.
Continuing England's tradition of dry witticism, the researchers make several helpful suggestions for reducing the risk of injury:

[E]ncouraging bands such as AC/DC to play songs like "Moon River" as a substitute for "Highway to Hell"; public awareness campaigns with influential and youth focused musicians, such as Sir Cliff Richard; labelling of music packaging with anti-head banging warnings, like the strategies used with cigarettes; training; and personal protective equipment.


Possible interventions to reduce the risk of injury caused by head banging include limiting the range of neck motion through a formal training programme delivered before a concert; substitution of adult oriented rock and easy listening music such as the controls, or others including Michael Bolton, Celine Dion, Enya, and Richard Clayderman, for heavy metal; and personal protective equipment such as neck braces to limit range of motion.

Monday, May 24, 2010

G&P Review: Utopium

Conceptive Prescience

Self Released

Opener “Undermatch” is a hell of a calling card for Portuguese grinders Utopium. It’s a stampede of wildebeest with rusty Folger’s can snare drums for feet that gets savaged by a king of the jungle scream (“Armageddon!”) and a maliciously bass heavy assault on the tympanum. That bass sound will go on to form the bedrock of the song’s doomed bridge before blasting farewell. It’s also the secret to Conceptive Prescience’s triumph.
Self produced by Utopium with art contributed by Joemack of Complete Failure, Conceptive Prescience is a damn near flawless eight song effort by the band who are making their debut available for sale, stream or download here. What are you standing around here for? Go give this shit a listen.
Utopium rock a low slung grind akin to Phobia and Catheter with a mix of European precision, American savagery and a deft hand at imagery with songs like the awesomely titled “Blacksmith of Irony.” “For the Sake” downshifts gears – from fifth down to fourth – just enough to really savor the thrashtastic riffs that can only be described as “radical” just before it gives way to the all build, no release simmer of its iron shod second half.
Where things go briefly – but annoyingly – askew is the lumbering sludge aimlessness of “Slumber Edge,” which manages to crib from Grief’s “Earthworm” without any of that song's charisma. While Utopium had more than proved themselves in the preceding five songs as being adept at lacing their grind with down tempo interludes to arresting effect, “Slumber Edge” is monotonous, a five mile back up on an otherwise open stretch of interstate on a glorious spring day.
But all that means is the band went six for seven on their original songs (nearly 86 percent success rate, for you math types) before closing out with a cock punch cover of Nasum’s “My Philosophy” that’s just devastating. This is a band I whole heartedly endorse. Utopium are a band to watch.
[Full disclosure: Utopium sent me a download for review.]

Thursday, May 20, 2010

G&P Review: Sayyadina

The Great Northern Revisited

I revisited the Great Northern, myself, recently with a marathon reviewing of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, and I can vouchsafe Sayyadina’s odds and sods compilation for Relapse sounds like it came howling out the Black Lodge with murderous lunatic Bob.
Not nearly as fluid as their later work, Sayyadina on The Great Northern Revisited is a more spastic, gangly and all around punk version of the Swedish grind stalwarts. Actually, I was rather startled at how much Sayyadina sounds like Afgrund, particularly on some of the later tracks collected here.
Though not as refined as I would come to expect from them, Sayyadina were flashing all of the hallmarks of master songsmiths fairly early on. “The Awakening” nimbly catapults from punk into drone before caroming into a grindcore spring in a flash forward 74 seconds.

Sayyadina – “The Awakening”

“Nar Jag Faller” is all assault rifle spray and shattered gristle while “All This Fear” is a convulsive purgative exorcising anxiety with an explosive rage.
But all of that is to be expected. What was most intriguing – and most apropos given the David Lynch allusion – was the unexpected jazz excursions of “Retaliation” and “Outrage” which could have not only soundtracked the Lynch film of your choice but key scenes from Jean-Pierre Melville’s classic heist films as well.
At this point Sayyadina is fairly firmly established in the cannon of Swedish grindcore, and that’s what makes The Great Northern Revisited so intriguing and successful. Even bands that stomp the terra with Godzilla sized sneakers started out with baby steps.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Magnicidal Tendencies: Singapore Will Rule Your Sorry Ass. Again.

The pixels had barely dried at the end of 2009, which I declared the year of Singapore’s ascendence based on the strength of Wormrot’s monstrous debut alone, when I had it pointed out to me I’d been missing another outstanding grind trio from that Asian nation. I was totally remiss in somehow missing Magnicide’s stunning 2009 album Rise to Annihilation, but Deathgrindfreak, whose eyes are sharper than mine, quickly straightened me out. I owe that guy a cold mug of his favorite fermented beverage.
Quite simply, if Wormrot is Singapore’s Insect Warfare, then Magnicide is that country’s 324: a chunky, crusty grind assault on the senses and purveyors of the finest grindcore didgeridoo since “Godplayer.”
But if I’m late to the party, it’s my own fucking fault for not paying better attention because clearly I’ve been missing out.
“Actually, grind music has been in Asia for such a long time,” Magnicide bassist Mameng said. “Only maybe because we are in Asia that the world won’t give us another second opinion, but with the internet and such, Asian music, in this case grind music, is easily heard throughout the world. Grind bands in Asia particularly has its own style.”
Along with guitarist Iem and drummer Jali, Memeng beats out a brutal, satisfying stew of grind and crust punk that the trio honed over nearly 20 years spent kicking around the Singapore music scene.
“Myself and Jali used to played in old grindcore band named Demisor,” Memeng said. “You could check it out in Metal Encyclopedia, I think. Jali also played in Edora, Secret 7 while I played guitars in Bombarde. Iem played guitars in a band called Hasrat till we roped him in to Magnicide and the rest is history.”
And yes, that history includes time spent collectively raging to 324. Read pretty much any blog post on Magnicide at random and the Japanese band’s name will variably be mentioned. Not only does the band toil in the same crusted mine as their doppelgangers, but the vocal approach bears a distinct similarity as well. For Memeng and Magnicide, they accept their influences can be so easily divined, but also recognize the pitfalls that come with being too closely associated with another band.
“Yeah 324 is big influence on us,” he said. “It’s the style of grindcore that we hope to achieve one day. What I mean is the style that it is original and grind but really blows your mind! With brilliant songwriting, great lyrics and delivery. A good professional sound is also important for us to achieve our goal. To be compare with 324 is a heavy burden but it’s a nice compliment.
Anyway much grind bands influence us from time to time but we dig other genres.”
For those of us (read: me) who were late to the party, we’re about to be graced by even more Singaporean goodness from the trio. Splits with Black Hole of Calcutta and Punished Earth are in the works and Magnicide are already talking about their next full length.
This time I will not be caught unaware.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

G&P Review: Rotten Sound

Rotten Sound

I love the sound of Napalm Death in the morning. You know that ridiculously fast punk and hardcore sound? It sounds like … absolute fucking rage.
Which is why I must bow down before Rotten Sound in worshipful rapture. As tourist season descends on D.C. yet again my morning commute is being snarled by fat fucking Midwestern families in fanny packs and matching T-shirts who haven’t bothered to read a fucking Metro map and who amble around the subway system blocking doors, loudly irritating the workbound office drones and vociferously expressing their dismay when they find out the National Mall isn’t the kind with an Orange Julius and a Hot Topic. (Recently overheard retarded question on the Mall: Which building is the Smithsonian? Allow me to help you with that, fuckwit.)
Sorry, I just needed to vent.
So copious amounts of Rotten Sound’s loving tribute to Napalm Death have been a much needed morning train pressure valve ever since the cherry blossoms bloomed, signaling the start of the allergy season and the tourist onslaught.
While it has to be said Rotten Sound’s covers of “The Kill,” “Missing Link” and “Suffer the Children” (a nice sampler of all the band’s eras, including the Barney years so reviled by the tr00 grind set) add absolutely nothing new to the eleventy billion other cover versions floating out there, the songs get the thorough beating you would expect. Eschewing the cleaner sound of Exit and Cycles, Rotten Sound rough things up sonically with a throwback to their Murderworks sound. That bruising gives this EP’s three originals a menace and energy I’d honestly forgotten the Finns used to have. The three originals on the EP also siphon off that renewed sense of urgency with a punkier immediacy than we’ve seen from them in the past couple of years. Hell, the song titles – “Mindkill,” “Brainload” and “Dead Remains” – sound like outtakes from Miles Ratlidge’s high school notebook.

Rotten Sound – “Mindkill”

The bonus DVD capturing the band’s rain drenched 29 minute set at the 2007 Obscene Extreme fest is also a treat for those of us who never managed to catch the band live. Mika Aalto’s grisly SG has a rusted razor wire sound perfected by NOLA sludge monsters and the band live is tighter than a ravenous anaconda pouncing on a sandwich. The multiple cameras provide a nice dynamism that makes up for the fact that it’s pretty much half an hour of bald guys standing in place with the occasional headbang or guitar swing. Rotten Sound are also clearly veterans at manipulating the audience, ratcheting the tension until the explosive combo of “Targets” and “Sell Your Soul” closes the show.
Face the truth this is no farce.

Covered in Napalm

Let’s be honest. Covering Napalm Death is not the most revolutionary idea a grind band can hit upon. In fact, recent research has pretty conclusively proven the correlation between people who love grind and people who love Napalm Death. So covering the band that pretty much wrote the rulebook by which you're playing isn't going to win any prizes for originality. However, Rotten Sound are just joining a well-established fraternity of punks and grinders who have paid tribute to the grindfathers.

Rotten Sound – “Suffer the Children”
Ablach – “Unchallenged Hate”
Discordance Axis – “The Kill”
Agoraphobic Nosebleed – “Control”
Capitalist Casualties – “From Enslavement to Obliteration”
Xbrainiax – “You Suffer”
Cellgraft - "Scum"

Monday, May 10, 2010

Punk Puck as Fuck: Two Man Advantage

Two Man Advantage


The last hockey-themed post for a while (I promise), so what better sendoff than an album that swipes from Slap Shot right from the puck drop.
Befitting a bunch of Islanders fans, Two Man Advantage took a more blue collar angle on the whole “beer, hockey, girls” puck rock shtick than the Hanson Brothers. Why go to all the trouble brewing your own when you can just call for the beer ban between periods (“Beer Man”), marvel at your collection of empties (“Beer Today, Gone Tomorrow”) or just say fuck it and grab a bottle of Captain Morgan (“Captain Morgan”). They take a similarly direct approach to the whole girl aspect as well (“Pornographic”).
All well and good, but a puck rock band lives and dies by the quality of its on-ice repertoire and 2MA bring the hardcore with occasional melodic flourishes with the grace of a Guy LaFleur end to end rush (the sharp eyed perusing the album art will also spot the Assuck shirt peaking out from under bassist Teemu Heineken’s Two Man Advantage jersey for extra metal cred).
The guitars are gritty and grisly as the band (whose stage names are largely a combination of alcohol of choice and all stars of the 90s) racks up a Gordie Howe hat trick with the trio of dynasty-era Islanders homage “Hockey Fight (Clark Gilles),” “I Had a Dream About Hockey” (seriously, who doesn’t?) and the lamp lighting “Skating Down the Ice” which sports a charmingly melodious chorus and displays far more grace than you’d expect from a collection of beer league hockey bums.

Two Man Advantage – “Skating Down the Ice”

Hell, these guys are so dedicated to hockey goofery, they once pissed off the Zamboni company. Clark Gilles would be proud.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Punk Puck as Fuck: Hanson Brothers (Overtime!)

Hanson Brothers
Sudden Death


Go to any hockey game and you’ll likely see a bunch of bandwagon jumpers spilling overpriced piss water beer on newly bought jerseys sporting the names and numbers of the flavor of the month scoring champs and set up men. Living in D.C., that means every third person on the street is wearing an Ovechkin or Semin jersey. (Dr. Heimlich please pick up the white courtesy phone. The Verizon Center called about a choking victim.)
But you know you’ve spotted genuine hockey cognoscenti when you see someone sporting the jersey of a beloved local enforcer. [As a lifelong, die hard Blues fan I’m contractually required to own a shrine to Tony Twist and Kelly Chase.] So when the Hanson Brothers penned an acoustic ode to NHL penalty minute king Tiger Williams on second album Sudden Death, I can’t help but nod in approval even if he was briefly a fucking Red Wing. It’s the kind of song that on the surface is just another goof on hockey but is shot through with genuine admiration for a fan favorite.

Hanson Brothers – “He Looked a Lot Like Tiger Williams”

As an album, Sudden Death may be a tad less freewheeling than Gross Misconduct, but damn if the humor and songs aren’t more focused as they pen ditties to beer (“We’re Brewing”), impotence (“Not For Mary Lou”) and the women in your life [like my wife] who just can’t comprehend how you can spend nine hours a night during the playoffs watching game after game (“Danielle (She Don’t Care About Hockey)”). While NoMeansNo is plenty of proof the Wrights are no strangers to their instruments, Sudden Death was the first time they brought that same sheen to their punk alter egos with touches like the aforementioned “Tiger Williams” ballad or the bouncing puck skitter of the guitar solo on instigating minor mantra “Third Man In.” The band even rips an opening cover of the Hockey Night in Canada theme (aka “The Hockey Song”) that’s boisterous enough to be heard over Don Cherry’s loud-ass suits.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Punk Puck as Fuck: Hanson Brothers

Hanson Brothers
Gross Misconduct

Alternative Tentacles

So it’s another Stanley Cup playoff and I’m left to play the “who do I hate least” game (Detroit and Chicago can go fuck themselves to death!) because my pitiful, underachieving can’t buy a fucking goal at home Blues couldn’t crack the top eight in the west. Again.
While my Al MacInnis jersey will like stay in the closet this spring (considering D.C.’s temperature and humidity are both 90, that’s probably a good idea), the postseason is always an excellent reason to crack out my modest store of “puck rock” classics.
At the top of that admittedly limited demographic would be the Hanson Brothers. No, not those fucking “Mmmbop” twats. Actually the Wright brothers from NoMeansNo and a handful of accomplices, the Hansons, named after everyone’s favorite cinematic goons, the Hansons hit upon the absurdly gleeful admixture of songs about hockey, beer, girls, hockey players who like beer, girls who drive Zambonis and glove dropping brawls back in 1992. When everyone else was moping to the tunes of a Seattle suicide, the Hansons just wanted the world to lighten up and have a little fun. And did I mention all the songs are loving Ramones homages? Even to the point of parodying DeeDee’s distinctive yelp in the background.
True romantics, the Hansons lard Gross Misconduct with songs about robot girlfriends (“My Girlfriend’s a Robot”), brain dead girlfriends (“Comatose”), imaginary girlfriends (“Jack Off”) and that awesomely cute chick who drives the Zamboni between periods (“Sabrina”) all done in that distinctively toe-tapping Ramones style.

Hanson Brothers – “Sabrina”

But no puck rock band worth their foil-wrapped knuckles if they couldn’t bring it on the ice and the Hansons crash the boards with the power play menace of instrumental “Total Goombah,” the game face grimace of “No Emotion,” and (again, fuck the Red Wings!) the Russian Red Wings hatin’ bench clearing anthem “Duke it Out.”

Hanson Brothers – “Duke it Out”

Oh and they also rewrite “Blitzkrieg Bop” as homebrew anthem “Blitzkrieg Hops.” You just can’t fuck with that. If the Hansons don’t beat you on the ice, they’ll beat you in the alley.