Monday, April 30, 2012

G&P Review: Head Cleaner

Head Cleaner
Resistance, Determination and the Sheer Will to Overcome
Clean Head Productions
What you get out of Resistance, Determination and the Sheer Will to Overcome, Greek death-laden grinders Head Cleaner's third release will largely live or die on how much you enjoy Napalm Death post-Spitfire Records. The quartet, featuring personnel from Homo Iratus and Disembowel, have that same death-crust vibe the English institution have pioneered since they split from Earache. Vocalist Jim "Mitch" Evgenidis has a convincing enough Barney roar that he could probably slide into Napalm Death's lineup unnoticed in a pinch.
From the EP's Soviet-chic fonts and propaganda-style art, Head Cleaner are rousing the same rabble Liberteer is trying to incite to revolutionary fervor against their monied masters. Where Matt Widener enlisted a drum and fife corps to hearken back to America's hardscrabble founding, Head Cleaner hit hard with grind intensity and tactical deployment of pig pen death metal a la Cattle Decapitation on songs like "The Chain," which leans more grind than death. And you know I can't help but smile at a song entitled "Crime and Punishment."
So after six tidy songs of serviceable deathy-grindy-nasty, it was really disappointing to see Head Cleaner go and shit the bed by committing the sin of the final song with the tedious "Departures-Arrivals." At nine minutes, the track is a meandering, pointless stylistic jump. It's a mess of fx-heavy vocals, thudding industrial beats and aimless guitar droning. The endless repetition adds nothing of substance. After the previous buildup, "Departures-Arrivals" forces this revolution to end with a whimper and not with a bang.

[Full disclosure: Head Cleaner sent me a review copy.]

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Weekend Punk Pick: I Spy

Classic Canadian punk from the frigid wastes of Manitoba, I Spy kicked ass in every way imaginable, but they're probably most famous for Todd "the Rod" Kowalski. He later went on to short lived grind band Swallowing Shit before taking John K. Samson's bass slot in Propagandhi on the last three albums. Seriously, damn near every song this band recorded, available on their pope-pooping discography Perversity is Spreading...It's About Time! is a fucking punk classic: "Remain" "Appliances and Cars," "Just Between Friends," "Sixty Billion Served". You need to get down with this shit.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Grind Part, Slayer Part, Garbage to the End: "Area Trinity/Information Sniper"

A twofer! From circa-Jouhou, here's a double decker of Discordance Axis goodness with "Area Trinity" and one of the band's most popular songs, "Information Sniper." Two songs that barely take up one sheet of tablature paper. However, these are probably the most extensive liner notes to a song yet. Hopefully the resolution is clear enough to read all that scrawl.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

One EP Wonders

Some bands don't even get the benefit of a single full length to make their mark on grindcore. Instead, they have to prove their chops in the space of a single EP. The time constraints inherent in the format seem perfectly suited to melting out the fat, forcing bands to focus on their finest, strongest material. If your band's 7-inch drags in spots, you've got bigger problems. But the bands below needed nothing more than that to stake their claim to grindcore glory.

Drop Dead
Deranged (Re-release)
Siege only had nine songs and 16 minutes of material to their credit (and half of that was the saxophone-heavy freak out of "Grim Reaper") but that's all the Boston band needed to lay the cornerstone of what would become grindcore. Siege pushed the tempos of hardcore to nigh-blastbeat territory on Drop Dead and their flailing brand of thrashed out punk is an undeniable influence on Napalm Death's Scum, side A in particular. Everything that would later be associated with grindcore can be spotted on Drop Dead: thrashing drums, tonsil-scraping screaming and punk on speed guitars. Unfortunately, the band would drop dead shortly after recording their demo, but the legacy was just getting started.

Luddite Clone
The Arsonist and the Architect
Relapse/Cyberdine 243
Coming out of the same New Jersey scene that brought us Human Remains and Burnt by the Sun, Luddite Clone played a shifty brand of hardcore, grind and metal on EP The Arsonist and the Architect. The band's collected works would include a split with Burnt by the Sun and a live split with the hardcore band The Esoteric, but it was their solo six song EP that made their reputation as a tech savvy band with a penchant for ear virus riffs and jazz complexity. Even though it was later re-released by Relapse, The Arsonist and the Architect, out of print again, is a quietly impressive slab of noise that's never quite gotten the respect it desperately deserves.

King Generator
King Generator
If a second collaboration between Dave Witte and Mike Hill doesn't excite you (Witte subbed in on drums for Anodyne's Red Was Her Favorite Color, and tossed in a rare guitar performancee for good measur), then you're reading the wrong goddamn blog. Throw in Jamie Thomson of Shank and you've got a recipe for an asskicking hardcore experience. King Generator gave us seven awesome punk/grind songs as part of one-off collaboration in 2008. There's probably nothing here that you haven't heard before, but in the hands of three punk masters, King Generator bring it with the kind of confidence and panache that a lot of their younger challengers lack.

Hope Collapse
Year of the Leper
Inkblot Records
Yet another Dave Witte one-off, this time he reunited with Carlos Ramirez and Andrew Orlando of Black Army Jacket to form Hope Collapse. The band banged out an EP of top shelf grind inspired by the likes of Terrorizer, Assuck, Repulsion, Siege, S.O.B, who all get namechecked in the liner notes. For the names involved and quality of musicianship at play, Year of the Leper has been criminally overlooked by too many people in their target demographic. From the start of first true song "Cold Steel Penetrates You Flesh," which is just as piercing as it sounds, the band rages like a post-millennial version of Assuck. They don't let up until the last notes of "Leper Convention" fade into oblivion. More than any other EP on this list, Hope Collapse deserves a sequel.

Bodies in the Gears of the Apparatus
Simian Hybrid Prototype
The Spew
Florida grind mouthful Bodies in the Gears of the Apparatus' discography is essentially Simian Hybrid Prototype and a split with Despised Icon, but that's all it took to notch their mark on grindcore. From the Scott Hull production through the Paul Romano art, Simian Hybrid Prototype is a nasty, unnerving nugget of subversive grind that tries to shock like Anal Cunt with a college diploma rather than a handful of homophobic insults or what Agoraphobic Nosebleed used to be before they fell for their own shtick. Either way, the band wasn't able to keep it together beyond one EP and the split. Members went on to Khann and Success Will Write Apocalypse Across the Sky, but neither of those outfits have been able to capture the spark of Bodies in the Gears of the Apparatus.

Monday, April 23, 2012

One Album Wonders

Neil Young once said it's "better to burn out than to fade away." I don't know how seriously to take that considering the geriatric fuck never took his own advice. (Kurt Cobain did, though.) That said, there's something intriguing about bands that drop one immaculate album and then choose not to risk their legacy with a second long player (Terrorizer, I'm looking at you). Yes, most of the bands on this list released additional EPs, splits and demo material, but for the most part their fame is built on a single, perfect album.

Necrosis Records (reissued by Relapse)
When you think one album grindcore wonder, Repulsion should be the first name that leaps to the forefront of your mind. The Michigan band midwifed grindcore with its sole full length album, Horrified. It's a perfect album: Slayer thrash pushed to the logical limits of extremity, horror film ambiance mixed with a punk-like disdain for the pretty and precise. Thirty Twenty-six years later bands are still shamelessly cloning Horrified's zombie aesthetic and graveyard foetor, and Repulsion, enlisting a few new spare parts, are still touring in support of their landmark album and they are more popular than ever before. With all that going for them, a second album would just be overkill.

Cretin have made no secret of their love for Repulsion (you may have noticed both Freakery and Horrified end on the word "fuck") and both bands are riding a single great album. It took goddess of grotesque Marissa Martinez and her helper monkeys 14 years to release their first album and the trio has been pretty quiet since then. (Granted, Martinez has had a few notable life adjustments during that period.) But even if they never release another album (or take another 14 years for a sequel), Freakery will stand as a modern grindcore masterpiece, the distillation of Tod Browning's Freaks in audio form. The album is a celebration of the oddities, abnormalities and curiosities that make life exciting.

The Way of All Flesh
Black Box
ASRA came and went in a flash, almost as quickly as the ridiculous daycare satanic panic that inspired the New York band's name. In their wake they left behind a single grisly, deathy album of scabies-raw grind in The Way of All Flesh. While the spirit was willing, the flesh was weak and ASRA called it quits shortly after dropping their lone longplayer, but it should be enough to warrant a well deserved asterisk on the list of unsung grindcore heroes. ASRA may not have burst into the mass consciousness the way contemporaries like Insect Warfare did, but The Way of All Flesh is an album whose reputation I could see growing with time.

Who's My Saviour?
Glasgow Smile
Power It Up
There is a metric shit-ton of bands out there who released one album and then faded away into well deserved obscurity. But Who's My Saviour? made a bid for certified overlooked gem status with 2007's Glasgow Smile. Featuring members of Cyness and Wojczech, the German band combined genetic strains from their parent collectives to birth something new and unique. Glasgow Smile reveled in a sense of dynamism and artistry rarely seen in grindcore (at least until the advent of Dephosphorus). Who's My Saviour? mix up the grindcore playbook, toying with tempos and atmosphere to create a compelling and, ultimately listenable, grindcore whatsis experience.

Black Army Jacket
Chainsaw Safety
Black Army Jacket recorded enough various splits and EPs to stock their hefty discography collection Closed Casket, but the New York power violence purveyors only had one full length album to their credit, 222, which features what may be drumming ubermensch Dave Witte's only known vocal credit in his lengthy recording career ("When I Can't See You Are You There?"). Everything that made power violence/grind/hardcore/thrash/whatever great gets a workout on 222. Pit stirring chugs, blastbeaten brawling and various vocal cord scrapings were lashed together to form the backbone of Black Army Jacket's wrong coast power violence experiment. One album was all they needed to establish themselves.

In true early -'90s punk fashion, Boston just-short-of-grind-hardcore band Disrupt recorded enough splits and EPs to fill two CDs when Relapse reissued the band's back catalog a few years ago. While all those various odds and bits are worth seeking out, the band's legacy really rests on punk masterpiece Unrest. Featuring three different vocalists, including the incomparable and, unfortunately, underutilized Alyssa Murry, Disrupt spit and snarled their way through 20 tracks of blastbeaten rage and urban angst. "Religion is a Fraud," in particular, is one of the greatest hardcore songs ever written and Murry was at her screaming finest. Feminism, animal rights, religion, war and poverty are pretty common punk and grind topics, but few have screamed about them with the passion of Disrupt.

Unseen Terror
Human Error
Realistically, what was the shelf life of Garfield grind? Even if Shane Embury hadn't moved on to Napalm Death, Unseen Terror, which also featured Mitch Dickenson of Heresy and occasional vocal contributions from Mick Harris, probably didn't have more than one album in them. But that album was a doozy. Human Error is an early grind landmark, particularly the buzzing bumblebee guitar, which legend has it greatly influenced the sounds of Swedish death metal. And unlike inspiration Garfield, Unseen Terror knew when to hang up the cleats and call it a day. After the 20 tracks that comprise Human Error, Unseen Terror only demoed another six songs. Though they've threatened to reunite several times since, thankfully they've left their legacy to rest to date. Just ask Bill Murray what past-its-prime Garfield can do to an otherwise successful career.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Weekend Punk Pick: MDC

MDC always seemed to me to be Dead Kennedys without the irony. Pissed off at the same stuff, MDC weren't ones to mince words. They also larded their politics with a heavy layer of humor, but it was bitter, black, biting humor rather than Jello Biafra's reductio ad absurdum. While subsequent albums unfortunately slid further down the meh scale, MDC dropped an undeniable punk gem with Millions of Dead Cops, producing a handful of certifiable punk gems like "John Wayne Was a Nazi" and "Corporate Deathburger."

Friday, April 20, 2012

Grind Part, Slayer Part, Garbage to the End: "Drowned"

In Compiling Autumn Jon Chang said he organized The Inalienable Dreamless into a series of three song suites: “Castration Rite” through “Vacuum Sleeve,” “Angel Present” through “Pattern Blue” and “The End of Rebirth” through “The Third Children.” “A Leaden Stride to Nowhere” and “Drowned” were intended to serve as a “surprise second ending." I've already shared the inner workings of Discordance Axis' notorious downbeat doomster, " A Leaden Stride to Nowhere," so for all you completists, here's the second half of the surprise ending.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sadness Will Prevail

There was a period in the mid- to late-'90s/early-'00s where you couldn't hit up a show without tripping over Moonspell (them and fucking Shadows Fall). They seemingly opened for everyone. I'm too lazy to actually go back and check, but I seem to recall them kicking off shows for Samael, Amorphis, In Flames and Opeth in the span of about two years. Perhaps it's sheer bluntforce repetition, but I have a soft spot in my heart for the Portuguese doomsters (particularly their more industrial-tinged efforts) and every couple years or so I'll break out the few Moonspell albums I have stashed in my closet.
That said, I do not like mixing up my gothic boo-hooing with my death metal and grindcore. Some things just aren't right. But from time to time otherwise sensible punks and metallions who should know better decided to go all black nail polish on us. Here are a couple of the more egregious examples. Keep in mind only one of these bands is actually supposed to sound like this.

Opium of the Masses

Is there some sort of Poe's Law for goth videos? Because I'm pretty sure if you weren't already familiar with Moonspell you'd be pretty sure that's a parody. Nope. Straight serious stuff, right there. Not my favorite Moonspell song, but it sets up the horrors that are about to come next.

Run Far, Far Away

Resistant Culture already have a great gimmick working. They seamlessly stitch together bits of punk, crust, grind and indigenous music into an instantly recognizable, unique whole. They even boasted Jesse Pintado among their membership; that's pretty fucking solid, right there. But then on second album All One Struggle they suddenly got all Moonspell on us with sixth track "Runaway." I know it's supposed to actually be a song about, ya know, running way, but baritone crooning about the pleasures of the night just feels one precariously short step away from a Stephenie Meyer novel. I'm sure none of us wants to go there.

I Feel Your Pain

Vader is absolutely my favorite death metal band, but what the fuck just raped my ears? Sigh, yes at the end of their second album, De Produndis, the Polish institution for some inexplicable reason decided to tack on a cover of Depeche Mode's "I Feel You" as a bonus track. C'mon it's Depeche Mode! I don't know what's worse, that a great occult death metal band would cover Depeche Mode without the world exploding in some sort of musical matter-antimatter collision or Peter's unforgivably bad attempt at goth vocals. We will never speak of this again.

Monday, April 16, 2012

G&P Review: Beyond Terror Beyond Grace

Beyond Terror Beyond Grace
Beyond Terror Beyond Grace have moved far beyond simple grindcore with Nadir, a scalding wall of volcanic gases and suffocating clouds of gray ash.
The Australians once slotted neatly next to Maruta and Crowpath, but with Nadir they have abandoned any pretense at concision and driving blastbeats to experiment with girth, texture and tempo. Now they sound like Ulcerate songs reinterpreted by Circle of Dead Children with a rime of blackened frost. Eschewing the wonted grindcore brevity, the album is chock-a-bloc with nine minute death metal overtures that look beyond how many beats can be crammed into a minute. The ghost haunted lead off "Dusk" allots plenty of space for its atmospheric middle passage, which bifurcates the blastbeat opening and its screaming conclusion. The song imparts a sense of claustrophobia that coats the album like a greasy film.
That song lays out a template that a bulk of the album will follow. Nine minute bangers "Requiem for the Grey" and "Throatless Sirens" follow, riding the same churning swells and crests. Not that Nadir is a one trick gray-painted pony. The abbreviated title track is a concise instrumental that revels in melody bolstered by barely heard samples.
It's rather boggling to realize this the same band that gave us the pig-headed brawl of Extinction/Salvation just five short years ago. This doesn't sound like the same band at all (and it's not because the band slotted in a new singer and guitarist in 2010). Nadir may not be Beyond Terror Beyond Grace's zenith, but it shows a band waxing into their perihelion.

[Full disclosure: Willowtip provided me with a download.]

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Weekend Punk Pick: Bad Religion

Bad Religion (along with Dead Kennedys) is a big reason why I latched on to punk rock as a teen. I probably would have dropped punk if I hadn't discovered these wordy Californians. While I enjoyed the bratty attitude of most punk bands, too much of it was juvenile and pointlessly dumb. Bad Religion were one of the first bands of real substance I found, a band that respected its audience enough to drop an OED's-worth of sesquipedalian words (name another band that's casually dropped "pusillanimous" in a song) while still banging out some of the finest SoCal hardcore you will ever hear. After i ran out of Carcass Word of the Day material I thought about doing the same for Bad Religion. May be worth reconsidering that idea.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Grind Part, Slayer Part, Garbage to the End: "Loveless"

As the world's leading purveyors of emo-grind, of course Discordance Axis had to have the obligatory songs pissing and moaning about how girls just don't like them. The better to make their mascara artfully run down their faces. So Chang poured out his diary into "Loveless." While he may dispute the emo-grind tag (and I love to bring it up because I'm a troll at heart), Chang and Co. were not shy about getting in touch with their sensitive sides -- provided that sensitive side got sliced open by razor-honed grind nastiness.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

G&P Review: Liberteer

Better to Die on Your Feet Than Live on Your Knees
There's a spectre haunting grindcore -- the spectre of revolutionary fervor. All the powers of Old Grindcore have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: tradition and inertia, blastbeats and punk riffs, a cowering fear of banjos and flutes.
Yes, banjos.
In grindcore.
From the Red Badge of Courage-approved banjos and flutes opening straight through the star spangled fireworks conclusion, Liberteer is out to incite a political uprising among the blastbeaten-down populace. Matt Widener (aka Liberteer) has previously flirted with a stateless notion of patriotism in his short-lived prior band Citizen, but with Liberteer he has cast off the last vestiges of king and country and is rabble rousing for the ubiquitous fellowship of humanity.
To that end, Widener has sculpted an operatic sweep of a grindcore album, an ambitious monument to music replete with uplifting themes and recurring motifs that point to its generation as a single, cohesive musical movement. This is an ambitious bit of grinding and it's not going to yield itself easily to casual listeners who may be turned off my swelling synth symphonies and unconventional instrumentation. When it does grind, Liberteer twists Terrorizer into something positive and uplifting versus scathing and downtrodden. "Rise Like Lions After Slumber" is particularly triumphant, and Widener lays out his platform on "99 to 1" when he screams the he wants "to be happy goddamn it."
The revolution, however, does stumble a bit out the gate. For one there's that mouthful title, Better to Live on Your Feet Than Die on Your Knees, which has been permanently denuded of any cache from constant repetition by every wannabe revolutionary from Tea Partiers demanding the federal government keep its mitts off their Medicare straight through that kid in the mall-bought Che Guevara shirt spouting half-understood Chomskyisms. There's also the melting layer of gouda that is the full on power metal bombast of "Sweat for Blood," which will likely be an obstacle to some in Liberteer's target demographic. Also, Widener may want you to stop bitching and start a revolution, but his vocals are monotone and just don't have the urgency to drive your ass to the barricades. In the hands... err mouth of a more skilled orator, Liberteer may have provided the "I am Spartacus!" cheer necessary to drive the masses from their complacency.
For all of that, the ambition and vision of Liberteer cannot be dismissed lightly. You may not jibe with Widener's vision for revolutionary grindcore, but I guarantee you've not heard anything like this before. Grinders of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your shackles and a world to gain!

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Young Turks: Sakatat Mark the End of an Era

"It's fitting, it's right. Anatolia has always been the cradle of civilizations. New consciousnesses were born here. The Europeans have always looked down on us; they used to call us the Sick Man of Europe, but I tell you, it's Europe that is the Sick Man. We have wisdoms from thousands of years of civilizations and empires and religions, but they never listened to us because they invented the Enlightenment and the Renaissance and capitalism and democracy and technology, and those are the monologues of the twenty-first century. Maybe they'll realise that the future is going to be a dialogue. Maybe they'll realise that ideas can come from the Islamic world -- new ideas, ideas the world has never seen before, completely revolutionary ways of thinking about what it means to be human."

Ian McDonald
The Dervish House

Ian McDonald's novel The Dervish House places Turkey at the center of the mid-21st Century energy and technology revolution. Turkey becomes the key linkage between the abundant fossil fuel resources of the Middle East and Russia and the power-hungry markets of Old Europe. McDonald's Turkey is also the growing center of the booming nanotech revolution, ensuring its prominence for decades to come, marking it as a rising economic and cultural juggernaut to define the decades to come.
We've got a ways to go before that vision is realized, but Sakatat are making the argument for Turkey's prominence as the powerhouse nexus between the tradition of continental European grind and the rising vitality of the Asian upstarts. Sakatat will commemorate the waning of old grindcore and the rise of new cultural pathways this summer with their first full length, Bir Devrin Sonu (That's End Of An Era for all you anglophones) courtesy of Bringer Of Gore (the LP) and Everydayhate (the CD version).
Sakatat built their reputation with a series of exceptional EPs and splits, honing their signature brand high octane grind, but the Ankara trio spent more time sculpting a total listening experience for Bir Devrin Sonu, vocalist Semih O. said.
"We’ve been gathering ideas and new tunes for the album during last two to three years so it is safe to say that we had the image of what would eventually become our full-length already," Semih said. "Being obsessed with making our records sound like a single-cut rather than bunch of short and fast tunes lined up after each other, recording a longer-length release has actually become quite a challenge."
The ferocity that defined Sakatat's past efforts was a matter of necessity because the band has never had the time or resources to camp out in a studio and contemplate their collective grindcore navel. While Sakatat were allotted more studio time than your average Bela Tarr film when it came time to record Bir Devrin Sonu, Semih said the savagery hasn't suffered because of the added comfort.
"This record and the recording session differ from the previous ones in so many ways: firstly we’ve spent quite a lot of them tightening this record so it is safe to say it is the fiercest recording we’ve ever done," he boasts. "Secondly, considering the length of the recording, this time we had more than three hours in the studio for the first time ever, which enabled us to work on the details. Lyrically, it is still straight and to the point with no metaphors whatsoever. However, this time we’ve covered a couple of new issues including the recent state of the so-called DIY scene. So, I would like to think that we ended up recording the album that would represent the sound, style and the attitude that we had always aimed for."

Tarih? (History?)

Sakatat have won me over to their cause even though I don't understand word one of what Semih is screaming. The band's commitment to DIY punk ethics also extends to singing exclusively in their native Turkish, to better address the issues they feel most personally. Though English has become the default language of the international metal community, Sakatat have made their Turkish roots and uniquely Turkish politics an integral part of the band's identity.
"I'd like to think singing in our native language is a big part of what we stand for," Semih said. "Grindcore or hardcore/punk in general is supposed to be anti-capitalist, so how would it make any sense to sing in the Yankee language? I have a lot of respect for bands singing in their own language which, to me, is a strong statement, itself. On the other hand, that shouldn’t necessarily mean you need to sing in your own language to be 'political enough.' If we have lost any attention solely because our name sounds 'weird' or people are too lazy to check out the translations to figure out what the lyrics are about, then this is a risk that we are willing to take."

Birleşmiş Milletler, Bölünmüş Halklar (United Nations, Divided Peoples)

For the last several years I've become convinced that the vital heart of grindcore has shifted away from Europe and North America. Complacent First World punks seem to have lost that genuine sense of outrage and anger that keeps grind relevant. Instead, they're being lapped by up and coming corners of the globe like South America and South East Asia where memories of genuine political and cultural repression are vividly fresh. Standing at the cultural crossroads of Europe and Asia, Sakatat seem uniquely poised to reap the benefits of grindcore's past and promising future. (If you can name Turkish grind bands other than Sakatat and Ketum, you're doing better than me. Semih does recommend Burial Invocation, Godslaying Hellblast, Engulfed and "old-timers" Cenotaph.)
But my thesis may be flawed, Semih says. Rather than complex notions of shifting cultural balance, he suggests it's as simple as firing up your browser window.
"In my opinion, it has a little to do with anything else than the fact internet has helped people who were too lazy to go to the post office reach those scenes," Semih said. "I think the international DIY grindcore/metal/punk scene has always been there if you knew how to find it. If one’s main source of new bands are basement shows in their neighbourhood or features in multinational car company-sponsored magazines, then nobody should be surprised if he/she misses a whole lot of great bands and ideas that are out there. In our case, oppression in Turkey has come to a point that requires a lot more than playing grindcore for the same 50 people over and over again to overcome the urge to outrage."
Saktat will do all they can to incite that outrage all across Europe this summer as they hit the tour routes and festival circuit in support of Bir Devrin Sonu.
"Well, now that we finally recorded a longer-player, we would like to do as much touring as possible," Semih said. "However, although there are talks of other tours in the future, with so much uncertainty regarding the future of our personal lives, we are unable to announce anything at this point besides the already booked one-month tour around Europe in July 2012, which includes Play Fast Or Don't Festival and Obscene Extreme Festival in addition to about 20 other gigs in Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia and Austria. The tour dates and details regarding the album will be announced on our web-site within a few weeks:"

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Weekend Punk Pick: Gang of Four

The revolution will be danceable. England's brilliant Gang of Four, named after a group of executed Chinese counterrevolutionaries, mixed a Marxian fixation on the economic woes of a depressed underclass and the financial mechanisms that kept then down with a danceable brand of funky punk. At a time when Wall Street is being occupied, Tea Partiers are obsessed with government debt and austerity is causing populist riots across Europe, there are very few bands that feel more relevant. If society is selling you damaged goods, send them back. Keep the chance that will do you good.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Grind Part, Slayer Part, Garbage to the End: "A Leaden Stride to Nowhere"

If there was an over-arching theme to Compiling Autumn, it was that of Discordance Axis finally pulling together as a unit for the first time when they wrote The Inalienable Dreamless. Jon Chang finally felt like Rob Marton and Dave Witte had fully bought into his vision for the band and eased up his dictatorial micromanaging, letting the musical contingent of the band express themselves more. It wasn't entirely a smooth transition. Case in point, "A Leaden Stride to Nowhere." A much abbreviated version of the song originally appeared on the Necropolitan EP, and Witte and Marton admit it was a bit of a joke, something intentionally meant to irritate Chang. Much to their surprise, he enjoyed it and one of DxAx's extremely rare, and most distinctive, non-grind moments was born. It may have been a lark, but Witte said this one of the most demanding songs in the band's catalog.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Absolut Country of Sweden

Imagine my surprise when I learned the de facto Swedish national anthem, " Du Gamla, Du Fria," does not actually feature d-beats (though I'm sure as we speak Tomas Lindberg is pulling together a roster of Swedish punk greats to rectify that oversight).
Because in my mind, even beyond the greatness of Scandi-grind, Sweden first and foremost has always stood out to me as a joyous celebration of Discharge's swinging punk legacy just with way more umlauts. It's a story that begins with seminal punk bands like Anti Cimex and continues through .... a whole lot of other bands that also contain ex-members of Anti Cimex and whatever band Tompa hustled into a studio during his free weekend.
Where Discharge were pissed and spitting, the Swedes (while still dealing a decent amount of aggression) also seemed to have realized that a hopping d-beat can actually be fun. They're screaming, sure, but you can just feel the corners of their mouths quirking, fighting to hide back an idiot grin.
Or maybe that's because Swedish punk bands, like a lot of their Scandinavian kin, tend to stick to their native language, so I have no clue what they're saying. As Totalitar said in the liner notes to Ni Mast Bort!, "... I would feel rather stupid if I wrote about these subjects using someone else's language. This has nothing to do with nationalism, to me it's just a simple fact that I react, think and have much more complex knowledge of the language I grew up with." But language has never been a barrier with Swedish punk, the intent comes through in the musical chops and the vocal passion just fine without resorting to Babel Fish.
Since I've been binging on Swedish punk lately, I thought I'd share a few of my favorites. I'm by no means an expert here and compiling this list made me realize my collection is short a few goodies (Krigshot! Svart Sno!), but I haven't made you guys a mixtape in a while and felt the need to share.

Swedish Punk [Mediafire]

Disfear - "Powerload"
Skitsystem - "Det Sociala Arvet"
Avskum - "Masskonsumtions Helvetet"
Victims - "This is the End"
Wolfpack (aka Wolfbrigade) - "Power and Greed"
The Great Deceiver - "Strychnine"
Anti Cimex - "Victims of a Bombraid"
End of All - "Fostrad"
Acursed - "Tunneln I Ljusets Slut Track 13 [Untitled]"
Totalitar - "Mediet Som Vapen"

Monday, April 2, 2012

G&P Review: Compulsion to Kill

Compulsion to Kill
Lack of Tolerance
I found myself fighting Lack of Tolerance's production, straining against the murk because what I could pick out from Compulsion to Kill gave me heart palpitations. The production, courtesy of the band, ably captures that raw, live in the rehearsal room feeling, but it leaves very little texture and definition. It's unfortunate that the snare drum, in particular, sounds like a wood block because this is the calling card of an upcoming percussive badass. The speed and precision at play are goddamned astounding.
Compulsion to Kill's self-styled "peninsular grind violence" features ex-members of the late Malaysian grinders Torture Incident. Like that prior band, Compulsion to Kill specialize in straightforward grind beatings without recourse to subtly or nuance. I think; again, it's hard to pick out pieces of riffs when they all blur together into unremitting buzzsawing noise on their latest cassette. But that's also part of Lack of Tolerance's charm. The songs bleed into each other with barely a pause between to draw a breath. It's just a constant barrage of energetic noise poking and prodding at you. When they rise above the noise, Compulsion to Kill do pull some pretty nifty tricks, like the pitch-perfect Scum-style dun Dun DUN, dun Dun DUN riff that punctuates "Corporate Slayer."
This racket may not compel you to kill, but it will get your ass up off the couch and moving.

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

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Weekend Punk Pick: Angry Samoans

The Circle Jerks were the prototypical suburban brat punk band and everyone who aspires to that throne has to measure themselves against the best. No one has toppled the masters, but Angry Samoans probably came close with a handful of snarkalicious songs about self-inflicted blindness; fat, overbearing parents; cars; prescription drugs; and keeping Hitler's schlong in a jar. It's no Group Sex, but it's pretty damn punk.