Friday, June 29, 2012

Grind Part, Slayer Part, Garbage to the End: "Junk Utopia," "Carcass Lottery," "Come Apart Together, Come Together Alone" and "Jouhou"

Chug! Chug! Chug! Chug!
It's not that Discordance Axis have created a drinking game based on Jouhou. Rather, that's the direction given for just about every song this week. Though a DA drinking game would be awesome. If I asked you to take a shot each time Dave Witte dropped a crazy blast or Jon Chang sandpapered his tonsils, do you think your liver would survive?
Give it a try. A little alcohol poisoning never hurt anyone.*

*Not intended to be a factual statement. Do not try this at home.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Panic! At the Discography: Agoraphobic Nosebleed

Agoraphobic Nosebleed
Bestial Machinery (ANb Discography vol. 1)
Agoraphobic Nosebleed's two part M.O. has been patently obvious from day one: aggressive absurdity delivered with absurd aggression. With no mortal drummer capable of delivering the high velocity BPMs required (though Mjolnir incarnate Dave Witte was briefly in discussions to back up some live shows), band linchpins Scott Hull and J. Randall took a page from future co-conspirator Richard Johnson of Enemy Soil and invested in a good drum machine (since replaced by insanely detailed MIDI sequencing). Their robotic collaborator provided that inhuman jolt that underscored the musical and lyrical ferocity that defines Agoraphobic Nosebleed.
ANb albums -- whatever length -- are an emotional marathon. Even their EPs are designed to be an exhaustive, draining experience. PCP Torpedo is less than 10 minutes long but it will leave you beaten down and wrung out. Even when the band crammed 100 songs onto the landmark 3-inch CD Altered States of America, they managed to do it all in the space of your average sitcom -- sans commercials.
So when the band scraped together all of their early split, comp and EP appearances into a two disc, 136 song, two hour package, the result is probably the most brutalizing musical outing ever compiled. This is weaponized aggression with a reckless disregard for the paying fans who keep them balls deep in pills and glorious Florian Bertmer art. And the title, Bestial Machinery (ANb Discography vol. 1) makes me tired just reading it because it promises yet another installment at some point in the future.
At their very best, discographies are a funhouse mirror that force you to view your favorite artist from new angles. Bestial Machinery pummels you with wave after wave of relentlessly mechanical violence. If 15 minutes of ANb is enough to brutalize your soul, two straight hours (because my OCD demands I listen to both discs straight through) will permanently jaundice your outlook on humanity in general. Bestial Machinery also helps put into perspective the band's sudden leap from microgrind spree killers to digital crossover punks on Agorapocalypse when you listen to the band shred through covers from Corrosion of Conformity and DRI. While I definitely prefer Nosebleed's older material, it's a refreshing experience to realize what you thought was a snap shift in perspective was something lurking there the whole time. Agoraphobic Nosebleed dropped a PCP torpedo on all you reduced honkeys that altered the state of grindocre's frozen corpse; Bestial Machinery helps put the birth of that revolution in perspective.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Namesake Series: "Mothra"

While publicly proclaiming my love of kaiju metal a few months ago, I did severe damage to my credibility by forgetting that Justin Broadrick is not the only one who has fallen under the sway of Godzilla's benevolent lepidotera companion. Canadian power violencers The Endless Blockade have also sung the praises of the peaceful spirit of the Earth. While I prefer Battra, the spirit of the Earth's rage, I've got to admit these are a pair of pretty sweet songs.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Weekend Punk Pick: Wire

In my head, I've scripted and shot the world's greatest zombie flick. The opening montage detailing the birth of the undead outbreak would slowly crawl along to the sound of Wire's "Reuters." It would be endless shots of screaming people, panic in the streets, societal collapse and femur-gnawing zombies doing what they do. There's something about these British post-punkers that managed to perfectly nail that sense of looming catastrophe and civil unease. Remember kiddies, stay glued to your TV sets.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Grind Part, Slayer Part, Garbage to the End: "Aether Scalpel/A Broken Tomorrow/Tokyo/Flow My Tears the Policeman Said"

John Woo's A Better Tomorrow was to gun-fu flicks what Discordance Axis' Jouhou was to grindcore: revolutionary turning points that are no less powerful for being endlessly copied. Both would shortly top even themselves (with The Killer and The Inalienable Dreamless, respectively), but here is where they both made their name. The staccato snap of Discordance Axis' "A Broken Tomorrow" puts me in mind of A Better Tomorrow's infamous restaurant shootout scene. Tagging along this time are signature songs "Aether Scalpel,""Tokyo" and "Flow My Tears the Policeman Said" which are mercifully better followups than A Better Tomorrow II ("eat the rice!"). Don't even get me started on that boring ass Korean remake.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

G&P Review: Mental Waste

Mental Waste
Halfway through their EP Meltdown, Mental Waste's resident screamer howls that he "can't pretend I give a shit." Oh but you, listener, just might want to spare a shit to proffer Mental Waste, particularly if be-Sieged hardcore stomping is relevant to your interests.
Their seven minutes of to the point hardcore heaven are certainly not original, but Mental Waste stab their fingers into your chest and unload punk diatribes that occasionally wind themselves up to blastbeaten paroxysms of frothing outrage. They make their M.O. plain from the hop with "Reason," which kicks off the Meltdown experience without prologue or preamble. It just jumps up and plants two muddy Doc Martens in your chest, setting the confrontational tone of the next nine songs. From "Reason" on it's just a basement show stampede of pissed off punk and borderline grind annihilation wrapped up in poisoned pills of life sucks narratives that always look on the bright gloomy side of life.
Later in the EP, the singer declares that "solitude is the only solution," but it sure is hard to snatch a little quiet me time when you're making every booty in the pit shake.

[Full disclosure: The band sent me a download.]

Monday, June 18, 2012

G&P Review: Antigama

Stop the Chaos
Stop the Chaos is a pretty astute title for Antigama's latest EP because the Polish band, while not completely abandoning the trigonometry-core that has been their calling card for the last decade, is probably the most focused and restrained I've heard from them. On a couple of these tracks you could be forgiven for mistaking them for old Rotten Sound outtakes.
The latest incarnation of Antigama (check out VII's kickass interview with guitarist Sebastian Rokicki for all the personell ins and outs) still indulge in all their wonted right brain experimentation and off kilter riffing, but on the whole the five songs (and electronic outro) are firmly chained to a foundation of traditional grindcore that's as familiar as FETO. The result is Antigama have actually plotted a course this time out rather than blasting off into the cosmos to careen recklessly between quasars and black holes. Even "The End," the kind of ambient kiss off track I normally despise, works in context of the EP. It's a claustrophobic sci fi soundtrack that winds up a creeping sense of tension to the point of excruciation before collapsing into the airless vacuum of space.
Over all, Stop the Chaos may be Antigama's most mature effort to date. In 15 minutes the EP is a more provocative and satisfying science fiction experience than the whole two muddled hours of the flatulent Prometheus. Ridley Scott, take notes.

[Full disclosure: Selfmadegod sent me a download.]

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Weekend Punk Pick: Circle Jerks

Thirty years on and it's depressing how relevant "Paid Vacation" remains. Yep, still mired in Afghanistan for reasons nobody can quite explain. The Circle Jerks must have been prescient. And it turns out there was more to the SoCal slacker punks than their reputation for snotty suburban angst.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Grind Part, Slayer Part, Garbage to the End: "Vertigo Index/Panoptic/Aperture of Pinholes"

A trio from the heart of Jouhou, "Vertigo Index," "Panoptic" and "Aperture of Pinholes" were the first three tracks off the album and signaled the shift in Discordance Axis' focus from the Ulterior days. Rather than writing the album that should have followed From Enslavement to Obliteration (Jon Chang's stated goal for the first record [humble, innit?]), Discordance Axis with Jouhou were establishing a style they could call their own and would be culminated with The Inalienable Dreamless.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

G&P Review: Gods of Chaos

Gods of Chaos
March into Perdition
The Path Less Traveled
So here's the deal: naming your band Gods of Chaos is a ballsy move. You're not advertising just human levels of chaos. No, no, my friend, promises of a divine chaos nature were made. Unfortunately, this Croatian band just don't deliver on debut album March into Perdition, a blend of grindcore speed and black metal ambiance that never rises above pedestrian over the course of 33 minutes.
Full Metal Attorney likened the band to Krallice, and I'll take his word for it because he's a smart guy. However, even though Colin Marston produced March into Perdition, none of his song craft rubbed off on Gods of Chaos. They have the blasting down A-OK. The problem is they leave no impression once they're done. The the closest they come to the promised chaos is the meandering drumming and droning guitars of "Crystallized Telekinetic Mindfuck," which was already done much better by Anodyne and makes me wish I was listening to The Outer Dark instead.
The remainder of March into Perdition is trebly guitar licks lacerating grindcore tempos, but after the spastic and enjoyable opener "Twitching Sours," Gods of Chaos just didn't evolve beyond that initial cross genre fusion. Every song seemed to fall into the same template laid out by "Twitching Sours," frigid buzzsawing, some stop/start action and back of the throat howling over top. When Gods of Chaos to mix up the playbook somewhat as on the plodding "Dealers of Nadir" or rock swinging "Skullfucking Despair" they drag it out until they've burned away the novelty.
Gods of Chaos have the knack for blending black metal and grind down. What they need to do now is widen their sonic palette and create songs that leave more of an impression. And drastically up the chaos quotient.

[Full disclosure: TPLT sent me a download.]

Monday, June 11, 2012

G&P Review: Daighila/Sarjan Hassan

Daighila/Sarjan Hassan
Redefining D.I.Y.
Southeast Asia has been kicking so much ass the last few years that it was overdue for a clunker. This thrashtastic Malaysian tag team manages to blend the inoffensively pedestrian with the outright unlistenable into a single cassette that screams caveat emptor.
For the merely inoffensive, Daighila sound a tad like old Anthrax or maybe Corrosion of Conformity's Technocracy played at the wrong speed. Their side of the cassette rounds up eight songs recorded between 2007 and 2009 whose sound quality varies wildly, making it hard to enjoy the whole experience. The double picked "Between Lines" and the ironically menacing "Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining" are probably the two best of the bunch and smartly kick things off. So while the sound quality takes a noticeable dip from there, it's still manageable and the wonderful "Certainty Approaches" hits that blurred relativistic space where thrash bleeds into grindcore.
Things go from passable to worse when you flip the cassette. Sarjan Hassan, who swiped Nuclear Assault's logo, failed to learn from Daighila's example and start with the shittiest sounding song of their 12. To say that things improve from there is only an acknowledgement that there was nowhere else to go but up because you have to strain to tell that "Live Free" is not an instrumental. Unfortunately, when the singer does become audible in the later songs, his featureless delivery, repeating the same phrasings line after line, detracts rather than adds to the songs.
It's a shame because Sarjan Hassan's fractured English (see "Greatest Fucking Sham Ripoff," "Do It Yourself Not Means Do it Crappy But Do it Properly" or "Hardcore Scene Not For an Asshole") has a certain smile inducing charm. Sarjan Hassan, I'd say skip the English lessons, spend some more time in the rehearsal space and invest in a decent studio next time out.

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

Friday, June 8, 2012

Grind Part, Slayer Part, Garbage to the End: "Carcass Lottery"

If the lottery is indeed a voluntary tax on the stupid, what would that make a lottery with a carcass as top prize? It's like UHF's classic game show Wheel of Fish (red snapper, very tasty). YOU'RE SO STUPID! What's not stupid is this kickass chugfest from Jouhou.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Namesake Series: "Iron Lung"

The negative pressure ventilator, aka the iron lung, was a technological marvel that kept thousands of polio patients alive during the 1930s and '40s. The technology has been superseded and the gadget is little more than a historic curiosity since vaccines have essentially eliminated polio. However, the image of the iron lung still has enough resonance to inspire a trifecta of excellent noise.

First up is Brutal Truth whose anomalously conjoined "Ironlung" was a mid-album noise pastiche to break up all the grinding on breakout album Need to Control.

The breathing apparatus also inspired British psycho punks Rudimentary Peni to get all noise collagey, closing out the (allegedly) semi-autobiographical freakazoid album Pope Adrian 37th Psychristiatic. Turn on, tune in, freak the fuck out.

Obviously the band Iron Lung took their name from the, duh, iron lung, but it also inspired their song "Iron Lung," another power violent tiptoe through the band's back catalog.

Monday, June 4, 2012

G&P Review: The Blind Surgeons Operation

The Blind Surgeons Operation
Wolfram Syndrome
Torn Flesh Records
My inner grammar nazi (and by "inner" I mean about two microns below the dermis) keeps itching to stick an apostrophe somewhere in The Blind Surgeons Operation's name. Just how many surgeons are there and how shall we establish ownership of said operation? But that's pretty much the totality of my complaints about Wolfram Syndrome, which speaks well of these Canadian grinders.
For the medically inclined, Wolfram Syndrome is a genetic disorder that causes diabetes, loss of vision and deafness. Wolfram Syndrome the album is more like an auditory interpretation of an epileptic fit courtesy of introduction "Me Gusta," which blinks, strobes, flickers and flashes through a pastiche of lounge jazz, dead channel noise and missing number dial tones. But once you survive that hallucinatory assault, The Blind Surgeons Operation grind like Maruta meets Parlamentarisk Sodomi with Mathias Huxley of thedowngoing chipping in guest vocals. Songs like "Second Degree Ghost" and "Pulling Teeth" just reek of that open grave stench that pervaded Eduardo Borja's best swamp water riffs.
If there's one hiccup to Wolfram Syndrome, it would be antepenultimate song "Organ Farmer," a seven minute slog that chews up The Blind Surgeon Operation's momentum. It's a plodding, throbbing single chord workout that sounds like something Floor would have tried back during their garage days. While The Blind Surgeons Operation keep the song shifting and moving, in context of the album it slams the whole affair to a halt as effectively as plowing your car into a brick wall at top speed. It's a relief when the demonic wind of the aptly titled "Ultraviolence" lives up to its name.
Despite that one detour, Wolfram Syndrome is a snotty, snarly ball of spiteful venom. Like the song said, me gusta.

[Full disclosure: the band sent me a download.]

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Weekend Punk Pick: Rudimentary Peni

This is easily my favorite punk band of all time. We're talking desert island music here. Give me nothing more than Rudimentary Peni's discography and I could probably survive contented for a decade or two. No band I've ever heard is as consistently compelling through their 30 year existence as Rudimentary Peni, from their anarcho punk roots straight through their most recent EPs of psychologically damaged death rock. If Death Church weren't enough to stake their claim to punk rock royalty, Nick Blinko et al had to follow up one of the finest punk records ever made with the one-two psychonaut detours of the staggering Cacophony (I guarantee you've never heard another record like it; "punk" and even "rock" are far too limiting terms to do it justice) and the underappreciated Pope Adrian 37th Pyschristiatic. While far from prolific, everything Rudimentary Peni has ever done has been compelling, emotionally rich and clearly made from a place of intense personal honesty. There are very few bands that can stake such a claim. Hell, I just found out Blinko's semi-biographic/semi-Lovecraftian novel The Primal Screamer is back in print. I'm now camped out by my mailbox waiting for my copy to arrive.