Thursday, July 29, 2010

It’s a Scumdog Eat Scumdog World: Welcome to Attack of the Mad Axeman’s Wild Kingdom

Donnie: Why do you wear that stupid bunny suit?
Frank: Why are you wearing that stupid man suit?
Donnie Darko

Like the gigantic grinding pink elephant in the room (who I’m sure will be joining the band next year), you’ve got to ask Attack of the Mad Axeman about the costumes if you get the chance.
Grindcore does so many things well, but the theatric is just not something that’s going to be widely accepted as cannon among your protein and potatoes type of grinder who may use the bug and bird getups as excuse to dismiss one of the best grindcore bands working today as a bunch of furries, a Gwar knockoff, The Locust wannabes or some lame joke band. None of which is true when you’re talking about the German four piece, of course.
But bowing to the inevitable:
"When you are on stage, then it's always a kind of theatre," drummer Helix Pomatia (he’s the snail) said. "You always do a kind of performance and you can do it interesting or boring. As animals we benefit from looking better than humans, of course. And there are so many human bands in comparison to animal bands, so people think that we are very special. (And about Gwar: they are from outer space; that's even more special.) But we would love to see more animals finding the way into the grindcore scene. We may live in the woods but we have something to say. And we want to make a good show, of course. When we earn respect for the grind then maybe humans will eventually take us seriously in general."
"In real life we have to dress like humans. It`s not nice, but unfortunately it's necessary," guitarist Bubo (the owl) said. "We all know that peace and coexistence are the key: but it's really dangerous if you start to trust human beings in general. Always keep your eyes, ears and antennas open!"
What we shouldn’t do, Bubo and Helix said, is confuse the band’s obvious sense of humor and threaticality with them being some sort of throw away parody band. While the humor is pervasive, the band’s topics can be deadly serious when called for.
"In my opinion, there are a lot of bands who are parody, but they don't realize it," Helix said. "Maybe the problem is that most humans are too serious about themselves. Most bands who are lecturing their audience don't have anything new to say. We mostly play in the punk- and hardcore-scene and bands there are always telling the same things: nazis are bad, religion is bad, squatting is cool, eating meat is bad, cops are bad... I totally agree with these things, but why do bands [preach] this to people who already know it and who heard this a hundred times before? In this case I can only cite Homer Simpson: boooring! When we decided to form a grindcore band, we didn't want to reproduce all the cliches that are bound to this kind of music, like evil guys growling about war or splatter-shit. We are animals, we behave like animals and we sing about animals' subjects. Sometimes that's serious, sometimes that's funny – who cares. We like to make jokes about ourselves and also serious subjects can be dealt with humor. I think that a lot of people appreciate it and some say that we destroy grindcore."
However, given their sense of humor, Attack of the Mad Axeman have put some serious thought into tormenting Glen Benton should they ever fulfill the vow made in the song "Squirrel v. Glen Benton" to avenge the poor rodents murdered at the Deicider’s hands.
"Whenever we meet Glen Benton, then he should dress warm," Helix said. "We‘re gonna put him into a church for one week and he will be tortured by religious songs and praying priests for 24 hours a day. After that we're gonna put him into a rocket and shoot him up in the sky, where he will be as near to god as a human being can be physically."
While their sense of humor is well established, what’s definitely not a joke is the band’s approach to songwriting and performing. There’s a damn good reason Scumdogs of the Forest ranked near the top of my 2009 list.
"In general, our style of creating new songs is pretty simple: we meet, mix up different ideas and shape them up with a good measure of straight and to-the-point old school grindcore-brutality," Bubo said. "And we're careful not to reproduce our own style. We want to keep it interesting for ourselves and, of course, for the fans. By the way, we decided to take care of two golden rules of old school grindcore: creating shorter songs (as a true grindcore band you have to have more track-titles than running time on your record) and to start even more songs with a 'four to the floor' snaredrum countdown."
And anyone who gets the chance to see the band live and focuses on the sartory and not the music is missing the point, Bubo said.
"I think we're not that glamorous and theatrical as a band," he said. "First of all, we're doing a good job playing our instruments so we can easily show you where the hammer hangs, musically. So, if you come to see us play you`ll get crashed by the true – non-theatric – grindcore spirit."

Monday, July 26, 2010

G&P Review: Unholy Grave

Unholy Grave
Grind Killers

While I’ve droned on and on about the lost art of the grindcore guitar solo, quite honestly until I heard Kazumi rocking out for the first half of Grind Killers opener “Confession” I had never given much thought to the grindcore drum solo. And I’ve decided I like it. I’m not saying we need to be dropping them Van Halen-style into every venue whether it’s appropriate or not, I’m just saying it was actually an engaging surprise and a hell of a way to kick off Unholy Grave’s latest in an Agathoclesian string of releases.

Unholy Grave – “Confession”

Recorded live in the studio with the help of Luc Favie of Dutch powerviolence mongers F.U.B.A.R., Grind Killers sounds better than some past efforts (Revoltage, I’m looking at you). There’s an infectious spontaneity to the whole shebang that does a lot to conceal the fact that (let’s be honest here) the full length album has never been Unholy Grave’s forte (again, Revoltage, I’m looking at you). Killer in an EP or split 7-inch context, Unholy Grave do have a tendency to wear out their welcome on occasion and Grind Killers does mill about, suffering from a lack of diversity at points. But the sheer blasting does enough to stave off the worst of the monotony. Unholy Grave are a band who are experienced enough to know what they’re about. And, hey, did you know they’re against terrorism?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Demo-lition Derby: Amputee

When regular commenter Rosemary sent me a recent email with the header “Assuck worship,” my attention was immediately piqued. I was doubly intrigued when I realized there was a missing modifier and it should have read powerviolent Assuck worship. Either way, the classic Floridians are these Jerseyians top MySpace friend and it shows.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
The quartet features members of Chainsaw to the Face (known to most of you from their appearance on This Comp Kills Fascists Vol. 1) and Doomsday Machine Schematic and rip through four songs of the aforementioned Assuck worship in a breathless two minutes of audio orgasm. Though it's only two minutes, Amputee manage to cram in a full EP’s worth of headsnapping moments, putting the band’s dynamism to the fore with jaw jacks like the steampress bass of “Repetitions” or the way “Problem Of” manages to cram a VW’s worth of college students into 27 seconds of varied tempos and moods.
The band is making their demo available for download here, and it’s well worth the 30 seconds or so it will cost you.

Blogwhore of Babylon

I love zombies. [See Fig. 1]
Fig. 1: My wife actually lets me leave the house dressed like this.
In fact, next to grindcore, Dostoevsky or a good gangster/heist film, zombie films are a genuine passion for me. Because the only thing better than a good zombie movie is a really, really bad one, I harassed my associate and fellow zombie connoisseur Rob into starting up a zomblog with me: Nightlife of the Living Dead.
Given the demographic crossover between grind aficionados and zombie fiends is as old and entrenched as Horrified, I thought I’d invite all of you, should you be so inclined, to join us over there as we delve into the best – and oh yes, the worst – zombiedom has to offer.
If that’s not your thing, that’s cool too. G&P will remain my primary outlet so don’t worry that my affections will wander.
I now return you to your regularly scheduled grindcore.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Demo-lition Derby: Satellite Sleep

Satellite Sleep
I have been obsessively listening to this for weeks. Need I say more?
Satellite Sleep’s three song demo pornographically tingles the same cerebral nodules that make me excited for Christopher Nolan’s Inception. It’s a twisty bit of emotionally draining crusty punk transcendence that serves damning notice to all the lesser punk bands out there content to lazily Xerox hardcore clichés that they’re about to get lapped.
Through three songs of deliberately paced crust in the vein of Trap Them, completely with desperately howled vocals and the claustrophobic atmosphere of Amebix or Damad, Satellite Sleep reminded this cynical fuck of why he loved punk so much as wee laddie.
The watery, somnambulistic production on the demo gives Satellite Sleep a hypnagogic vibe that’s wonderfully surreal and stunningly evocative. “Empty” rings out from the precipice of some emotionally devastating abyss as the guitars and cymbals crash through a barren musical wasteland. The naked anguish and emotional violence of “Cold Womb” builds to a blastbeaten catharsis and a wasted, spent and, moreover, inevitable entropic breakdown in an emotionally taxing 4:43. Bringing up the rear, the band’s eponymous final track clangs with a resigned air, raging against a cage the band seems intent on refusing to even acknowledge, drillbit bass hacking at the lock in a display of willful, impotent defiance.
Download. Now. And bother every label person you know until somebody signs these kids.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

G&P Review: Crab Smasher

Crab Smasher
Thick Mosquito Sky

Self Released

Living in the mid-Atlantic, people around here take their crabs pretty fucking seriously. In fact, my oft stated for preference for the sweeter, larger and more satisfying snow crab over the native beautiful swimmers is noted by acquaintances as just one more datum in a lifetime of local culinary apostasy.
So to have Australian audio alchemists Crab Smasher cross my musical transit had me intrigued for the name alone. Far from the musical pastures where I typically graze, Thick Mosquito Sky is choked with insectile waves slow moving electronic apocalypse, ambient astronomy and lapping waves of curlicue guitars. The album stumbles along like a heavily sedated Mogwai, the interludes between Minus the Bear songs stretched to the limits of their tensile strength or something already remixed by Justin Broadrick
The whole experience slithers around your pineal gland like hypnotic waves of an electronic ocean breaking against a faintly heard shore of traditional instrumentation. The ghost in Crab Smasher’s noise making machines is post-Barrett/pre-Dark Side of the Moon Pink Floyd (think Meddle) being slowly spooled out like a kitten with a ball of yarn, particularly on the stunning, understated and damn near subliminal “Europa,” which creeps up on you over its seven minute running time, building just shy of rocking the fuck out. It’s absolutely the sort of piece I’d point on endless repeat right before drowsing off in a comfy chair. Whle “Deep Water Attack” reaches near-blasting speeds and “Digging a Hole in a Dried Up Lake” crackles like a theramin played with a ping pong ball, those are the exceptions in a generally sedate 40 minutes of so of musical trance induction.
Not something I’m going to be jamming on a regular basis, but definitely a cool addition to my small collection of chillout music.
Crab Smasher is Bandcamped out here if you’re intrigued.

[Full disclosure: Crab Smasher provided me with a download.]

Monday, July 12, 2010

G&P Review: Noize City

Various Artists
Noize City

Vox Populi
Now, I’m as much of a descriptive grammarian as the next person, but I have to admit the title Noize City caused a groan deep within that area where my soul would be if I hadn’t have traded it to Ba’al for a pack of Skittles and Slip ‘n’ Slide when I was 8. Please. Can we all agree to stop with the pointless misspellings in the name of some form of extremity? Please? Can we at least discuss it?
Given that it’s Dutch/Italian label Vox Populi’s first release and English is not their native language, I’ll let it slide for the time being. Besides, there are enough other crimes against humanity going on here to warrant convening hearings at the Hague.
Now I can enjoy the whole elctro-grind phenomenon, which largely makes up this nine band, 45 track collection, but I just found this whole exercise absolutely grating. I wanted to be supportive of a new upstart label, and I don’t mean to be a dick, but ye gods, this thing varies from the tolerable (Doctor Fecalus and Karnakkorok) to the absolutely annoying (pick just about anything else out at random) with the occasional detour into the unapologetically execrable for just good measure (ShitFuckingShit, who seem to think sampling gay porn and barnyard animal bleats on “Gay-Propaganda” counts as humor).
The opening songs by Doctor Fecalus featuring Karnakkorok are passable as they shred laptop cables and tonsils in a mash of sampled noise and drum machine stuttering. But I can’t help but think Gigantic Brain already did this better and with way less pointless scatology. Unfortunately, things rapidly go down from there. Jimmy Krap is appropriately named; his selections lack any sort of focus or memorable hook. Instead it’s simply an exercise in how fast can you turn up a drum machine. And did anyone really need a grindcore equivalent of “Disco Duck” with "Brutal Duck?" But easily the Olympic medal for annoying has got to go to ShitFuckingShit who puke out unintelligible garbles, unintelligible static in place of music and, unfortunately, all too intelligible juvenilia in the place of humor or insight (see the aforementioned “Gay-Propaganda”).
If that’s not enough to frighten you off, Vox Populi is making the comp available as a free download. Even if it is free, caveat emptor.

[Full disclosure: Vox Populi provided me with a download.]

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Back in Black (Army Jacket): Temporarily Reunited Band Announces a Pair of Reunion Shows

Contra what track 15 of album 222 may have led you to believe, you have not seen Black Army Jacket completely. But a lucky few of you may get the chance because the New York power violence/grindcore dervishes have decided to temporarily rescind their pre-millennial break up and reunite to play a pair of shows in August and September.
The band is slotted for August 19 at the 9th annual Best Friends Day festival in Richmond, Va., with a home town stop at the Cake Shop in New York City on September 4 to follow.
However, the shows will be more of a victory lap for Black Army Jacket. Don’t expect them to be an ongoing concern again, bassist Carlos Ramirez and drummer Dave Witte said.
“We decided to reunite now because the scheduling worked out,” Ramirez. “It's not ideal for me because my job is busy in the summer, but we are making it work. With Dave always being on tour with Municipal Waste, it's tough.”
Just getting the constituent parts in the same room again – Ramirez is in Los Angeles, Witte in Virginia – to rehearse with singer Rob Lawi and guitarist Andrew Orlando has been enough of a challenge they said, particularly when you consider international trade treaties stipulate that any new punk or metal band has to feature Witte for at least a week (or should he not be available, Bryan Fajardo). (It’s true. Look it up.)
However, after meeting up at a recent label party, the band decided to give it one more limited go.
“I think the getting together was originally inspired by the Chainsaw Safety Records 10th anniversary, to play that for good times (which never happened due to everyone's schedules),” Witte said. “I think it got everyone excited to play songs again and here we are now. There's no other motive, to get back together and write songs or tour or anything like that. The Best Friends Day fest in Richmond is a really good time and seemed like fun to do. Tony [Foresta, Municipal Waste] lured us into it, cause he's an old fan. The NY show is simply for the home turf and old friends, where the band was from.”
Black Army Jacket had the ill-starred luck to be the right band on the wrong coast at the right time during the ’90s. The musical fish out of the water played a power violent brew of grind and hardcore on the East Coast at a time when everyone’s attention had gone west, young man, drawn by the allure of Man is the Bastard and Capitalist Casualties.
“We definitely had more in common with the West Coast bands at that time,” Ramirez said. “Our guitarist had that label, Reservoir Records, so he was involved with a lot of those bands. He put out stuff by Spazz, Noothgrush, and stuff like that. So it was natural that we would connect with those kinds of groups early on. We also toured out on the West Coast more. I came from a death metal/thrash kind of thing, so these bands people were calling powerviolence were pretty much new to me. Outside of the mighty Assuck, who were from Florida anyway, I didn't know about bands like Infest and Crossed Out, before the Black Army Jacket started.”
However, the band suffered through a “weird break up” with Lawi, sending Black Army Jacket tits up in 1999, Ramirez said. A decade on and those issues have been resolved long enough to write the band’s epitaph in style.
“It feels good to get back with Lawi and do these reunion shows,” Ramirez said. “Throughout the years since we broke up the band, I've heard from younger people who never saw the band live. So hopefully some quality video footage gets recorded during the 2 shows, since we won't be able to do a full length tour.”
While you shouldn’t hold your breath on new Black Army Jacket material, Ramirez did hint a spiritual successor to Hope Collapse – the completely slept on post-Jacket grind concern he got up with Witte, Orlando and Pete Ciccotto – could be in the offing if the grindcore stars align (though most likely sans Witte, sadly).
“Andrew and I wanted to do another EP, but Witte got so busy with all of his other projects,” Ramirez said. “In the last year, I've been talking with Andrew about doing another project. He's been writing at home, and I have a lot of lyrics in the can. We want to do something in the vein of Assuck and Terrorizer. It would be great to see that happen. If any drummers out there are interested, let me know!”

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Attack of the Mad Axeman

I’ve been savoring a bit of bemused nostalgia lately after having recently relocated G&P HQ to more spacious digs. For the first time in about three years, I was able to drag out my guitar collection, which had languished in storage. Living in a tiny apartment with neighbors on all sides not being conducive to midnight renditions of punk classics, and all, should you have a desire to remain housed.
The nostalgia came, in particular, when I lugged out my bass – my first real instrument. (Bass naturally being where you dump your least talented band member).
How I bought it – using money my dad owed me after he totaled my oh so very sweet ’84 Chevette (stick shift, no AC, FM radio only) in an accident – is a whole ’nother story. That aside, it’s a totem of a time when a teenaged me labored under the delusion that a burning desire to play and participate in music would transcend tedious necessities like having to learn out to play and all that shit. I didn’t – and still don’t – have a fucking clue what I was doing when I picked up an instrument, I just knew I couldn’t sit on the sidelines.

You may have noticed I said my guitars went into storage three years ago. For those of you quick with the math, you’ll realize that’s pretty much the time I started the blog. I couldn’t make a racket in my tiny apartment, but I still had that need to connect, somehow. These days I just don’t have the same desire to pick up and play, myself. But blogging has given me a whole new outlet (and this one actually plays to my strengths, unlike my nonexistent musical skillz). Dragging out and dusting off my guitars made me realize that I’ve simply traded them in for a new axe.
And some old habits die really hard.

Monday, July 5, 2010

G&P Review: Defeated Sanity

Defeated Sanity
Chapters of Repugnance


Then suddenly I saw it. With only a slight churning to mark its rise to the surface, the thing slid into view above the dark waters. Vast, Polyphemus-like, and loathsome, it darted like a stupendous monster of nightmares to the monolith, about which it flung its gigantic scaly arms, the while it bowed its hideous head and gave vent to certain measured sounds. I think I went mad then.
H.P. Lovecraft

Chapters of Repugnance certainly left me at the frayed ends of my sanity, but probably not for the reasons these German death dealers intended. Rather, because ohyourfuckinggod is their third album and Willowtip debut tedious. I tried to groove to Defeated Sanity’s skittering, busy technical breed of death metal but the unrelieved tempos and clanking machinery songwriting become grating, even for an album that’s only half an hour long.
From first note to last, Defeated Sanity, who clearly know their way around their instruments, hulk along at an almost unchanging midtempo driven by maddening teletype double bass and the bowel loosening grunts of a man waking from an all night Taco Bell binge. “Engulfed in Excruciation” sums up the experience pretty well because repeated listens to Chapters of Repugnance’s Dying Fetus-style tedium became a chore I absolutely dreaded.
But there were bright spots, fleeting as they were. “Salacious Infinity” casts a meager life saver for being moderately faster than the rest of the album. “Blissfully Exsanguinated” hints at what Chapters of Repugnance could have been as it cowboys a crushing bass groove that makes the whole song just feel larger and more menacing than the remaining death metal paint by numbers rehash.

Defeated Sanity – “Blissfully Exsanguinated”

Had the rest of the album been that brutish and ugly, Defeated Sanity might well have delivered an album worthy of the Bosch-esque grotesquery of the cover. Instead, I’m left to corral the shattered shards of my once (relatively) stable psyche after subjecting it to repeated lashes from this wholly unnecessary exercise. The Old Ones have never been more merciless.

[Full disclosure: Willowtip sent me a review copy.]

Thursday, July 1, 2010

G&P Review: Fleshgod Apocalypse

Fleshgod Apocalypse
Classically-attuned Italian death metallers Fleshgod Apocalypse seem to be pulling an anti-Coppolla with their releases. If you’ll indulge the strained simile, the band pooped out their Godfather III last year with debut album Oracles, which never managed to fully integrate their neo-classical compositions into the mix, leaving their death metal to override their overtures in a way that served neither. But, having failed that miserably in service of a noble idea, Fleshgod Apocalypse had nowhere to go but up, and fuck me if five-song EP Mafia isn’t an absolute stunner.
Now rather than tacking some string arrangement or bit of piano frippery on to the end of the song, Fleshgod Apocalypse have folded the two together seamlessly, forging an alloy with the tensile strength of death metal and the suppleness of their Baroque forebears. For only 20 minutes, Mafia is absolutely operatic in scope, befitting its mob-inspired themes.
“Thru Our Scars” and “Conspiracy of Silence” are both protein-laden hunks of death metal that give way to intricately knitted strings of notes ripped and jolted from a harpsichord. The gut busting grunts are also augmented with the introduction of a Messiah Marcolin-to-King Diamond wail that brings just one more finely honed layer to the proceedings (and I’m someone who can’t normally stand King Diamond).

Fleshgod Apocalypse – “Thru Our Scars”

A faithful but no less devastating version of At the Gates’ “Blinded by Fear’s” majestic melodic flourishes also perfectly complements the sweeping vistas of Fleshgod’s vision. Bringing the mob-theme home at the end, the band closes with the piano instrumental title track which sounds like something Tessio would be pounding out on an out of tune piano as the Corleone men hit the mattresses for a prolonged gang war.
Fleshgod Apocalypse are smart, Michael. They’re not dumb like I previously said.

[Full disclosure: Willowtip sent me a review copy.]