My man Daniel Brigman, who runs the collective/space known as Moldspores in Albuquerque and played in the almighty Streights keeps even more busy with his solo sound project Father of the Flood. Despite being a home body, thanks to youtube, I’ve been able to watch a lot of his performances he captures on video. This is one of the reason’s I like Daniel. He recognizes the importance of documentation by any means and goes and does it.
But now he has a collage video which features what appears to be two soundtracks. The combination of soft sounds and images slammed up against high-pitched noise and scenes of surgery (including several shots of a penis being cut open) reminds me of the Hide/Seek exhibition that was done at the National Portrait Gallery right before I left Washington DC. It’s shocking and disturbing in the way shocking and disturbing should be. Mostly because it draws you in.
Albuquerque seems to afford different types of people from all over this country to create outside of the vacuum’s of big city cool. I often find it funny when people here talk about hipsters, because I don’t feel like there is enough unity or cohesiveness in this town that could warrant anyone the title. Personally, I’ve never seen these uber cools at the shows I go to, but the shows I go to seem too far in between. Mostly of my own doing. Either way, Daniel Brigman exists to create art, in many ways and through different media. I urge you to check out his blog for the show space/label he runs here. The art for the fliers alone are worth your time. Brigman doesn’t look like he’ll be slowing down any time soon, so keep this on your radar.
Today, I feel like I have a responsibility. For the first time in a long time, I feel like the free service of blogging I do on this here stupid blog site is necessary. It’s necessary because on of the loudest, most fucked up, crushing bands I’ve ever heard has had a new album out since March of this year and I am only now hearing about it. This is a shame. So as a member of the DIY punk/music blogging “community” in which I interact with NO ONE, I feel it is my duty to tell the public, via the saturated internet that Slices are back and they are Still Cruising as they mightily claim on the title of their new album.
In 2010 I threw the unexpected knowledge at you about this band Slices from the gritty, shitty streets of wonderful Pittsburgh, PA. The band floored me with the noise, aggression and chaos and made it into the #4 spot in my top five records for 2010. It was an entry into my pop history that felt so needed. Well, the band is back, just two years later with an even more blistering rock and roll stomp. And I do mean, Rock and Roll. Don’t let the format fool you, this band is still ready to cut throats at blistering speeds, but the sound is refined and cut at a faster rate. Basically, Slices stopped fucking around.
With just ten tracks and twenty one minutes, Slices steps up the dirty punk and roll sound all while pushing the limits of their amps. The sound of a band refined brings out the best now in Slices, the bass guitar being audible as an instrument instead of a rumble and the drums bashing triumphantly. Slices didn’t turn up to show you how it used to be done, they came at you with a new velocity and it’s gonna fucking trip you up and make you land on your face, breaking your front teeth on the pavement.
Honestly, I don’t even know what to make of this. It’s a band reborn. They made other bands seem pedestrian once already, that they would keep the durge and turn up the speed is a step I couldn’t even imagine. They got more aggressive and angry, but they sound SO FUCKING GOOD. Just as dangerous, but more refined, delivering a more precise kill.
As other blogs continue to sell indie music as a lifestyle choice and a fashion campaign, Slices reminds us that back when the moniker was coined we had loud bands that sounded like bloody hell and shit too. They are the proof that you can be talented, write good songs and pummel the fuck out of the audience, scaring people. The word indie is supposed to mean independently produced and distributed. Slices maintains that. Further, they are independent of trends manufactured to peers set on usurping them. Slices stay a step ahead of the game and frankly, they are set to fucking destroy.
Get Rad is an awesome hardcore/punk band from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. You can’t really get more awesome than this band. So when I recently found their entire discography available for free download through bandcamp, I decided it was about time to set up a decent feature on this half dead blog. I find a lot of great music through bandcamp. Frankly, it’s the wave of the future. Any band can sell direct to the consumer, and this includes physical product. Bandcamp takes a small fee and you get awesome music. No corporate bullshit sponsoring adds, no major labels taking up the limited visual space. No shitty search engines.
So anyway, Get Rad is the first band to be featured in this short little feature that I’ve decided to rock. The band was first reviewed here by my cat Beau Beau after they released the spectacular I Can Always Live LP. Beau Beau wasn’t a fan, but I sure as hell was. You can pick that up along with the very Avail sounding What The Fuck Happened To Common Sense which, if you loved Avail, should make you feel pretty good. They even have an awesome song on this 9 song rager called “GR-WTF”. Also up for grabs is the crushing Chose Your Own Adventure 5 song EP. This one is a bit more gritty and slamming. But really, you can’t go wrong with this band in any way, shape or form.
The other thing that makes Get Rad totally radical is that you can pick up all their music for free. So if you’re not sure, or you missed out on these harder to find EP’s or you’re a broke ass like me, you can still thrash hard to the amazing blast beats.
Man, I should totally have my cat review more albums. That dude is a pimp!
So the other day I got to reading this article about St. Anger by the (once?) almighty Metallica. Reading about this atrocity to rock history got me wanting to watch the amazing documentary about the making of said album Some Kind of Monster. I trust the five regular readers that I have here are well versed in said movie. But basically its like watching a corporation freak out because their profit-making product is having emotional problems and all these grown men sent to baby sit the egos of these megastars bullshit them and placate them into making one of the worst albums in rock history. And once again, watching that movie made me mad, because …And Justice For All was the first metal album I bought and looking back, it’s influence on heavy metal, both in the mainstream and in the underground is undeniable. Sure it’s mess of poor mixing and sounds soft compared to the super compressed, hotly mastered albums of today. But …And Justice For All changed metal forever. It was soon this epic type of music, with composition lengths that grew and grew. It wasn’t just an album, it was a story, an epic journey in music that beat on you relentlessly. I think about modern American Black Metal and the ridiculously long songs those boys put out and I can’t help but think they were dudes my age rocking Metallica at their finest moment.
It was not long after this that metal began to suddenly get soft. Looking for crossover audiences and more access to the once record buying publics wallets, Megadeth released Youthanasia and countdown to Extinction, Metallica gave us the “BLACK” album, and everyone else was just trying to catch up and stay relevant as Pearl Jam and Nirvana wiped the slate clean. It was during this time frame, with the help of things like Lollapalooza, the emergence of indie labels and the general back lash to hair bands that true heavy metal was unfortunately lumped with that essentially drove metal back into the underground. Death Metal became a bit of an oddity and anomaly for a while, and it is there we find the greatness of metal’s history during that time frame. But even those really pissed off dudes couldn’t maintain their audience, despite the genre’s diverse sounds in its leaders (which I would consider Napalm Death, Cannibal Corpse, Obituary, Death and Morbid Angel the front-runners) (we’ll be getting to Napalm Death in a minute too). Metal just wasn’t cool, nor a force to be reckoned with. Except for the true believers.
So here is the part where the blogger breaks the fourth wall to once again talk directly to his readers about his experiences. It is important that this be done so that you can uphold the authenticity with which I am about to make future statements. Writers do not strive enough for authenticity and what you to believe they are experts. That’s how they sell ads in magazines and on blogs. It’s how they get you coming back. But I go for the honesty punch. So here goes. In 1991, I discovered Black Flag and Minor Threat and it just made everything else I heard in metal sound wimpy. Now, I’m not saying that punk rock ultimately is a better genre then metal, or a more original one. But one can not deny the fury, original style, passion and genre creation of Black Flag and Minor Threat. So as metal was reconfiguring itself (in 1992 black metal’s roots would begin to emerge, something I caught a glimpse of on my visit to Norway and thought it mostly to be a joke, driving me further from metal’s arms) I was expanding my palate and exploring the local scene of Washington DC.
Others kept going forward and in that time have taken metal to new heights and making it more relevant and solid. But one of the reasons I bring up Black Flag and Minor Threat, who remain staples of punk rock today is because they were originators. They threw everything out and built something new on the rubble. So while any genre gets more fans and grows and has more bands, everything after the first wave just becomes a derivative. So what do we do with that?
These have been my questions over the last few weeks as some of metal’s biggest names have released new albums. From what it seems, people in the music world can’t stop talking about High on Fire’s De Vermis Mysteriis. It seems to me that if you want to break out of your genre’s ghetto and get attention by mainstream and hipster press, you should write a loosely based concept album. I don’t think that High on Fire did this because they were seeking a bigger audience. In fact I think the stoner rockers, filled with piss fire know what they are and strive instead to just get louder and faster and heavier with each new album. But the pundits and intellectual mafia seem to love a bit of concept album to deconstruct endlessly. The problem with this is that the music is always secondary, even when it’s fantastic. High on Fire is no Fucked Up in their concept. The crooked, half-baked story line about Jesus’s dead twin, quantum leaping and some HP Lovecraft sci-fi never gets in the way of High on Fire stomping on your face. The songs aren’t tailored to fit the narrative, they just stomp and speed over your idiot face.
And in the cannon of careers this is a high point for producer Kurt Ballou. This sounds like High on Fire live, which is what made me like this band. I’m only familiar with their last three albums at this point, but Kurt took himself out of his post-hardcore ears and produced a loud, ugly, heavy record. Which is what High on Fire deserves, because they are a band that just seems like they belong in the 70’s rather than the new century. Matt Pike’s dusted, rusty vocals are the shit, and it somehow dates High On Fire to a time they didn’t exist in. Perhaps they took the time machine back and forth to create the ultimate in evil.
So here we have exhibit A, where metal has now emerged once again out of its own evil hole and into the light of more mainstream or hipster populations. Never mind that the band is opening the Mayhem festival, an energy drink sponsored traveling circus of some of metal’s most popular, but ultimately weakest bands from the “MetalCore” genre that no one who actually cares about music listens to. This is an attempt at growing an audience, perhaps to capture the old ears of Slayer and Anthrax fans or to confuse the casual Motorhead listener who only knows “Ace of Spades”. Will High on Fire break on through truly, probably not. Even opening for Mastodon on their last touring cycle the band couldn’t really catch a break. They keep putting out amazing albums, doing with metal the things they love, but it’s all derived from history.
Napalm Death should always be refereed to as NAPALM FUCKING DEATH. Since 1987, bassist Shane Embury has embodied one of metal’s ugliest genres, and can be seen as an innovator of the genre of grindcore. The early history of the band is complex and just where this sound emerged from and who was responsible is difficult to asses (even after reading Choosing Death), but it’s clear that Embury was their from the beginning and has held a consistent line up for over 20 years now. In the case of Napalm Death putting out new music in 2012, it’s not a matter of whether they are historically important, but if they can maintain their heaviness.
Now once again, I have something to admit. I haven’t been a big Napalm fan since Fear, Emptiness, Despair. I just stopped checking in with them. Further, while I love grindcore, not many bands do grindcore justice. One of the things that I love about Pig Destroyer for instance is that the production is LOUD AS FUCKING SHIT and I want to hurt things when I listen to them. Most grind is low-fi basement nonsense that makes it sound childlike. It is the former that Napalm Death did on this their 15th album since 1987 that makes it true to form.
Utilitarian puts most younger bands to shame. Frankly, if your kids are listening to bands with dudes with make-up and pressed hair and not Napalm Death, you should put them down. Because we as a society have lost. It’s sadly not the youngsters that are keeping grind alive, and Napalm Death proves this. Singer Mark Greenway just sounds so damn heavy in his own right that the rest of the band has to, and dutifully does, keep up with his sunken low, but spitfire delivered growls. Even when the band takes some left turns, such as saxophone track early on, it’s just a hijacking of a style and sound the band is credited with originating. They set the standard, which was breaking all the rules of metal in the first place. Even when it catches the listener off guard, and it does every time you hear it, it belongs.
Ultimately, Utilitarian sounds more authentic than just about anything else you are going to hear come from metal this year. Partly because it’s made by the innovators, but also because the innovators decided not to take a back seat and show the kids how it’s done. There is no reason to even entertain albums that aren’t up to these standards, set firmly by the godfathers of grind.
The genre of Thrash Metal was one that never seemed to get it’s due. Granted all of the big four (Anthrax, Slayer, Megadeth and Metallica) had their roots in a thrash sound, but it was only Anthrax that ever made a name for themselves. Others had decent careers, though most still went the Megadeth/Slayer route in terms of subject matter. Only D.R.I seemed to be having the fun that Anthrax did. In fact, they were having more fun then the boys from New York City. Perhaps it was the sun, ever-present in their lives n Texas and then California. But DRI was a band that just seemed like they were having a good time.
So why it took so long for a band that so clearly worships DRI to emerge is unfathomable. But in 2000 the world lucked out and got Municipal Waste and for the last 12 years this band of Richmond knuckleheads have given us horror movie rock closer to The Toxic Avenger then Friday the 13th. The appeal of this band can not, nor should it be denied. And while the nod to DRI is clearly in effect, Municipal Waste could be seen as part of the first wave of thrash, twenty-five years too late.
I’m in love with The Fatal Feast. And not because I think it’s the greatest metal album, greatest thrash album, or even one of the best albums of 2012 (though I am sure it will get a mention in the top 5 by years end). I love it because it does exactly what I want from Municipal Waste. It delivers fast songs, with awesome blast beats and double bass, Minor Threat speed riffs and Tony Forressta’s demented lyrics, delivered like a true Richmond punk. Lets not forget they got Tim Barry of Avail to throw down a verse on a song this time. That’s the kind of added spice Municipal Waste may need to rely on these days, but it’s a spice I love.
The Fatal Feast is a nod to b-movies, gross out humor, and drunken idiocy. Lyrically, Forestta is at the top of his game, clearly becoming a story-teller of the weird and wacky with a great sense of detail and sense of humor. And that’s hard as shit to do, to be funny, entertaining and EVERLASTING, but Foressta has the gift. It doesn’t hurt that his backing band is tight as fuck, “delivering the goods” as they do starting off in “Repossession” and lasting a blistering 39 minutes to the great “Residential Disaster”.
Part Slayer, Part Anthrax and Part John Waters, Municipal Waste may never be taken totally seriously by the doom and gloom metal public at large, but the fact that they are having fun is infectious, bringing others into the fold. The Waste is not about alienation, no matter how weird they actually are, but having a good time. And as such they have graduated from “The Art of Partying” into a more precise delivered arsenal of some of the best thrash music that has ever been recorded.
For these ears, it’s clear that Heavy Metal is for now solid in its place amongst the music world. The genre embodies a multiplex of sounds and styles, and the bands that have been around the longest seem to still be the owners of the genre. Rather then stepping into the concept of experimentation, the act of refining seems to be the order of the day. The band’s aren’t trying to shock people by pulling from external sources, but getting together and trying to get better, louder, heavier and faster. Each of these albums by these three hard-working bands are some of the tightest performances, with speeding tempos and big ol’ blast beats. The older these dudes get the harder they go, and that’s promising for metal. It’s been a genre of great progression, but what it needs most is solidity to remain viable. I think we’re all in good hands.
Allergy season means poor sleep. It means tossing and turning all night in a daze of half oblivion and total awareness. It means I sit at this desk, in this house and fall asleep upright while listening to fiREHOSE. I decided today that I was gonna take a nap. Why fight this madness with energy drinks today. I don’t have a job, fuck it. My responsibilities are to me and me alone still. So I headed for bed.
I couldn’t sleep for the first hour. I got a phone call and a text message that broke my shit slumber daze. I tossed and turned. I felt chased and strangled. I could hear the fluids in my head break and crackle and settle. It was disturbing and disgusting. There are no worse sounds than the sounds of one’s own body. The fluids, the veins, the bones, it’s awful.
Finally I fell asleep. But it wasn’t a good sleep. I had that recurring nightmare once again. I’m walking in Washington DC, and I turn a corner and suddenly I am greeted by hundreds of severed heads of statues and I look up and their will be some huge, terrifying sculpture very close to me. This time it was some fucked up penguin, laying on its side, paint chipped and eyes drawn by some schizophrenic in the middle of an episode. It has a giant fin extended up to the sky and it’s wrapped around a large stone hand, that of god I suppose, just emerging from the clouds. Nothing that notes it is man-made, except the cold grey and its lack of movement. I see other monoliths now, emerging and growing up from the earth. Obelisks reach up past the clouds. Around me the heads are now statues, some grotesque and weird, some just broken and ancient, but others just normal castings of humans, supposedly famous. This time, the statues come alive. Men in suits begin playing soccer using some of the discarded heads, they laugh at me as they are kicked.
I hear, from some sound system pleas for money so that this junkyard of statues can purchase some finding that will re-create some epic moment in history. I don’t pay too much attention because I am trying now to get away from the moving statues. I weave in and out of corridors and emerge back out into a big field of hills. There are giant statues in the distance and lining the middle ground is a holocaust of statues. They all feel alive and violent, as though they are near animation, and thus an uprising of annihilation. I am the only living creature present and they are all fixated on me. Giant heads of buddha’s start to turn in the distance. And though they are so far away in proximity, the largeness of them makes their angry facial features fell close and real. The fury is about to be unleashed. I am terrified. I wake myself, sneezing, saved by allergic reactions to the pollen that covers me.
Giant statues have always frightened me. I fainted the first time I went to the Statue of Liberty as a sentient human (I was there once as an infant, clearly, I have no recollection of that trip). Tall buildings fascinate and mortify me. These man-made structures that pillage the sky and defy gravity with intense engineering. I wish for them all to fall. And yet I am fascinated with them. I want more of them. I can’t marvel at the beauty of nature, the Sandia Mountains behind my home now and not see even larger, terrifying images over us. I am no christian, but a statue of Jesus, much like the one in Rio seems appropriate.
There is something about these offerings to these gods that I find appropriate. They are fearful for a reason, because we fear these gods. And while I would also prefer other images over taking our horizons, these gods make sense to me. This need to see what is on this planet and a wish for more is in some way my need to face this odd, irrational fear. All I know is I haven’t felt right all day since waking from this nightmare. I fear my sleep tonight. I should like not to spend hours haunted by this graveyard of our idolatry. I should like to find peace instead.