Thursday, October 27, 2011

Frightmare on Thrash Street

Halloween has, and always will be, my favorite holiday. From when I first demanded a hockey mask  to my college days dressed in a full suit of armor made from beer cans (that's right), there hasn't been a Halloween that hasn't gotten me into movie marathons and music to match. No music, however,  has fit the bill as well as Frightmare.

I've decided to dissect each track from their debut, Midnight Murder Mania, and watch each film referred to and let you guys know what I think 'bout 'dem.

Without further adieu, here's...

Midnight Movie Mania

Need a hand? hahahahahahahaha
It doesn't take much more than decent characters and good special effects/violent deaths to make a slasher work; this, without a doubt, is what The Burning's (1981) all about. "Cropsy" kicks Midnight Murder Mania with a clip that tells you all you need to know; kids burned a man beyond recognition and he shouldn't hold it against them. Yeah right. "This man's cooked. A fuckin' Big Mac." Scariest part is seeing a young Jason Alexander's ass; yikes.

As the second track kicks in, we take cue from Deranged: Confessions of a Necrophile (1974).One of the more well executed low budget horror movies I've seen, Deranged, is loosely based upon the story of Ed Gein and follows this killer as he tries to find solace after his mother's death. Scenes of him carrying around decaying corpses and having dinner with them a'la Texas Chainsaw Massacre are an odd mix of disturbing and silly. Main actor, Roberts Blossom does a great job of being that creepy, isolated weirdo who secretly talks to the corpse of his mother and others.

As promised, these chicks get 'drilled'
Slumber Party Massacre (1982) makes a lot more sense when you find out that the writer intended it to be slasher parody; but the producers turned it into a serious slasher (as serious as it could be) and it sucks. There really isn't much here for anyone that's not a boy and twelve years old, and, oh, not in the 80's. Massacre is outdated and one of the few completely trite movies Frightmare picks to pay homage too. Every action the stupid teens take is illogical and against any sense of self-preservation. I wish this was taken as a joke because then it could have been very aware for its time (and funny too; I guess...).

That's right, take that Bacon!
Possibly the best slasher ever made, Friday the 13th(1980), is also one of the best tracks on the record. A name everyone knows, the combination of a genuinely good twist, effective music, and excellent pacing make this not only a must see for horror fans, but for everyone. If you watch the previously mentioned The Burning, or probably half the slashers out there, you'll see Friday the 13th's influence.

"Slasher Holocaust" is a thrashy track that doesn't relate to any particular movie that I know of. Given the title, as well as the other songs, I assume it's a general homage to the slashers found on this list. We'll just move on.

It's been awhile since I've seen The Prowler (1981), and it hasn't been the easiest to find. What I do remember are some excellent effects/sequences by a name I'm tired of typing by now. Much like The Burning, The Prowler's mostly just a slasher money shot of well done death sequences.

"Be My Bloody Valentine" is not only the best track on the album, but maybe my favorite of the films here. My Bloody Valentine (1981) has an outstanding setting (an old mine shaft) and some of the best killings on film. Choice clip, choice riffs; this is probably the catchiest and thrashiest track on the album.

Black Christmas (1974) was one of the better surprises here as it actually is frightening and creepy at times and does a good job to build suspense. A sorority house terrorized by unsettling phone calls and a maniac killer, sounds like fun right? Thankfully it doesn't submit itself to just boobs and blood like some others might. Really awesome trashy song to go with it that has quite the buildup.

While"The Ripper" opens up with a clip, I can't make out what it's from. I'm sorry to disappoint. But I can tell you it's a 'ripping' (get it?) track that continues this album's amazing fluidity and riff catalog and has this awesome moment that I can only explain by equating its momentum to that of someone in mid-swing pulling back and swinging again (an axe of course).


"Frank Zito, The Maniac" takes its name from another Savini project,  The Maniac (1980), which features the best shotgun death ever. The film does do a good job of making you feel uneasy and catching the dirty 70's New York that no one wants to remember.Alright overall, but nothing to it besides the phenomenal effects by Mr. Savini and lead man Spinelli's performance as yet another creepy serial killer with mommy issues.

"Devilock" takes cue from The Misfits, a band much like Frightmare in the respect that they had to show their love for their favorite childhood/adolescent horror movies by writing songs about them. The cover itself is okay, a bit one dimensional, but fun nonetheless (especially for a Misfit fan like myself). While the other songs pay homage to movies, this does the same thing to an important band.

In the end, this album, as well as this list, becomes a pretty good collection of important early slashers, none later than 1982. For people who have never appreciated slasher films, then I say give a few of these a try. These films are best watched with a group of friends and a beer or two in hand. There's a real art to the pacing, dipiction, and suspense of death in film, and some of these are a perfect example.

Beyond the films themselves, this album is an amazing combination of thrash and death metal not without a touch of grind. Melodic leads, gutturally to raspy vocals, blasting drums and plenty of riffs make this a very well rounded release. For fans of any of Maniac Neil's other projects, Ghoul, and old deaththrash like Sadus and Cancer. This was a lot of fun, and it's gotten me in the mood to watch millions of slashers and horror movies.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Standing on the Edge of the World... songs Ad Infinitum

The premise of long songs gets me in a fit most of the time. Bands endlessly plucking away for 20 minutes at an accoustic guitar before the song gets underway is just more of a reason why I love mp3s. Like anything, it can be done well, and on the converse, it can be done poorly. Somewhere, in the middle of all of this, I find songs/albums like Corrupted's "El Mundo Frio." 

Spanning an hour and eleven minutes, the one song album translates to "The Cold World," a fitting title, for such a desolate song. But like I mentioned earlier, this album in particular finds itself in an odd spot as it meanders, gets heavy, meanders, gets heavy, meanders....etc etc. And while I like the song, for the most part, I can't help but wonder what it'd sound like if it dropped some of distant guitar plucking in between the heavy sections, ones that castrate and usurp the power of these landslide like sections. Thankfully, this doesn't happen too much in the realm of faster music, but sometimes it does, and sometimes it works.

One man grindoctopus Parlamentarisk Sodomi put together "Klæbukrønikene (De Anarkistiske An(n)aler)" a Pollock-like ten minute grind marathon which starts with a silly, circus like keyboard section and continues into grind infinity. I don't have a problem with this song except I think it could have done without the keyboards. Also, the fact that it's a grindcore song placing around ten minutes makes it feel like a novelty. I particularly don't like novelty, unless it's something along the lines of Wehrmacht or such (you'd never catch them with a ten minute song!). I hope this doesn't make me sound like some bible thumping old timer whose shut down the town dance, I just get annoyed by joke bands, or serious bands with stupid jokes.

Where long songs are a given to work is obvious. Drone and the slower of spectrum of things almost require you to get in distance contests. For the most part I accept it, but some bands outstay their welcome and seem to repeat the same crap ad nauseum for no other reason than to build the song. Like the idiot kid in your presechool who built the most inane legos/lincoln log contraptions, those drone/doom/whatever bands haven't discovered that it's not always the size that matters. The same could be said about grind bands putting out an album with 150 songs under 30mins (or whatever the specifics are), but i digress.

The Makai are a band that comes to mind when song length is in question. Their Embrace the Shroud of a Blackened Sky which is a one song, crusty-black metal hardcore whatever track that spans two LP sides and is as varied as a ten song album could be. I love this album, I find it flows very well and there is never a moment i pick the needle up to skip ahead. On the converse,many black metal bands will go for a ten minute song or something even longer, when it could be separated and made more digestible (Deathspell Omega I'm looking at you). Whether it be my prejudice, my predispositions, or whatever else, I usually find myself more amenable to black metal dirges that top ten minutes as opposed to stripped down doom/sludge acts, or bands that obviously use place holders like noise and whatever else to bridge together a track that shouldn't be so long.

How do y'all feel about long songs? I put together what I'll deem the Perpetual Strife Marathon; see if you can make it through ( I decided against something like El Mundo Frio because that's just silly, as well as anything 20+mins/ easy options like sludge or whatever).
Like my Paint skills?

1. "Deuteronomy" - The Endless Blockade - The Red List (split w. Man Is the Bastard)
2."Ţesarul De Lumini" - Negură Bunget - Om
3."Fade to Black" - Sludgetallica - Ride the Lightning (45rpm record slowed to 33rpm)
4. "IX : Der Einsiedler" - UrfaustEinsiedler
5. "Klæbukrønikene (De Anarkistiske An(n)aler)" - Parlamentarisk Sodomi De Anarkistiske An(n)aler
6. "Memory Leak" - NadjaTruth Becomes Death
7. "Black Prophecies" - Dark Angel - Darkness Descends 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Hobos, Trolls, Samuari, and Sean Bean

With Halloween coming soon, and an arduous project for that said holiday up my sleeve, I've been watching a lot movies. Recently, I've watched a slew of a great, somewhat under the radar releases from Magnet Releasing, a subset of Magnolia Distribution, who is a U.S distributor for slightly off-beat, foreign, or violent/grindhouse releases. The few I've watched, Rubber, 13 Assassins, I Saw the Devil, Hobo With a Shotgun, Black Death,The House of the Devil, Trollhunter and the ones I plan to see Tucker and Dale vs Evil, The Last Circus are all high quality indie flicks with the approach, production, and execution that the movies many of the pay homage to lacked.

13 Assassins
As I said, some flirt with the mainstream, for instance 13 Assassins is an excellent samurai flick that would make Korosawa proud and is done by the Japanese master Takishi Miike (Ichi the Killer, Audition). Similarly, Black Death, featuring Boromir/Lord Snow/005 (Sean Bean, the man who dies in every movie he's ever been in) is a solid medieval action flick filled with tons of great fights. Rubber is a hip, playfully self-aware black comedy that focuses on a serial killer car tire and Hobo With a Shotgun hides nothing in its technicolor glory and shotgun executions. The biggest surprise for me was House of the Devil, a 2009 release that looks like it was done in the early 80's (this is purposeful). It's an excellent haunted house/slasher that's as good an homage as it is a current release. The latest, for me that is, is I Saw the Devil, which convinces me that ever single Korean is obsessed with revenge. The film was an excellent, and very disturbing revenge tale much like Old Boy, but thankfully original in its own way.

I Saw the Devil
I guess I'm happy to see consistently good movies and more so surprised that a one company has such a good eye for these releases. It makes me think of labels like Profound Lore, Gilead, Halo of Flies, and back in the day, Earache, Peaceville, Roadrunner, who inspired enough confidence that I would buy simply based on their track record.

I recommend each film, unless you have a weak stomach, otherwise they cover a wide breadth of action/horror, all with their own unique eccentricities.There's something about them that I guess is reminiscent of my taste in music. Some are very good, but are purposefully predictable or cliche (Hobo with a Shotgun, Black Death) reminding me of bands like Coffins or Insect Warfare who are far from reinventing the wheel, but do what they do almost perfectly. Others, like Trollhunter are goofy, good premises that are a fun watch and never claim to be anything else, much like thrash bands like Municipal Waste. Maybe the same way people thumb their noses at one of the previously mentioned bands because of their familiarity, or lack of mind-blowing originality that is nearly impossible to find, these films, and the music I like get scrutinized a bit too much and should simply be enjoyed because they invoke something in you. Whether you're twirling your hair to a band like Midnight or cheering on a shotgun wielding hobo, you're still having a good time.

The scenes of this fat Norwegian man yelling "troll" make this movie alone worth it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Let me Count the Ways... A Grindcore Numbers Game

One album is the only full length release from Insect Warfare, arguably one of the best grindcore bands this century whose singer, Rahi, has joined up with Hatred Surge which is back to having Two vocalists, but dropped the male/female combo like stalwarts Despise You and crusties Nausea, meaning there have been Three different singers before their latest split with fellow Austin Four-piece Mammoth Grinder whose only been around for Five years and made a big splash with their second full-length, Extinction of Humanity in 2009, which featured artwork by Joe Petagno, notable for his work with Motorhead, except their Sixth album,

Ironfist which German thrashers Sodom covered the title track on their seminal album Persecution Mania that had a re-released including "Sodomy and Lust" which is covered by Tacheless on their 2009 album Freiheit but originally released on Sodom's 198Seven release Expurse of Sodomy which was the same year Napalm Death's all important Scum came out, who have had Eight guitarists in their 30 year career, only matched by Anthrax who've also had eight members for two positions (vocals and guitars), one of whom, Dan Lilker (credited as a guitarist before anything was recorded) formed grindcore legends Brutal Truth who formed Nine years after Anthrax did and released their second album Ten years before Insect Warfare formed in 2004.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

SLUDGETOBERFEST- A Down-tuned Odyssey

As the days grow shorter, the nights colder, and the mornings more invasive, a proper soundtrack is in order for the occasion. Sludge, a genre I came to unfortunately late, has been a mainstay in my musical diet for a good while now. Whether it was when I first heard Dystopia, or finally got around to Eyehategod, never has a name epitomized [sludge] a sound so well.

I've compiled this digital tape in hopes to not only share my fondness for the following bands, but also in hopes of inciting people to find something new and discuss it, embrace it, and reinvent it. Sludge is a fickle thing for me because I dislike many mainstays of the genre (Down, Crowbar, Acid Bath) yet I consider it a favorite genre of mine.

Anyway, enjoy this scratch at the sewage lid, and feel free to share. I opted for the more vile and brooding bands, as well as made an exception for Coffins.

  1. "The Frozen Styx"                              Coffins                                       Buried Death
  2. "Empty"                                             Corrupted                                 Corrupted/Cripple Bastards
  3. "Hands That Mold"                            Dystopia                                   Human = Garbage
  4. "Anxiety Hangover"                            Eyehategod                              Dopesick
  5. "Disciples of Nothingness"                 Fleshpress                                 Pillars
  6. Birth of Cousins                                Goatsblood                                Drull
  7. Depression                                       Grief                                          Dismal 
  8. Lethe                                                Hell                                           Hell 
  9. Boss Keloid                                     Iron Monkey                             Our Problem
  10. Wroll                                                Moloch                                     Tears That Soak A Callous Heart
  11. Stasis                                               Noothgrush                                Failing Early, Failing Often
  12. Master Failure                                  Salome                                      Terminal
  13. The Work Ethic Myth                       Thou                                         Peasant
  14. Dust                                                 Wake Up On Fire                     Wake Up On Fire
  15. Exit                                                   Zenocide                                   Zenocide

I have no idea why blogspot is being a complete cunt about this formatting, but whatever; I'm not spending more time trying to fix it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

When Cliches Go Right

With your beer goggles firmly affixed, Midnight's at its best this time around. The band's honest brand of heavy metal gone black is a complete homage to bands like Venom, Motorhead, Mercyful Fate, and finds itself best amongst friends, clinking beers and waves of hair in constant motion. A cleaner production this time around, Satanic Royalty begins with perfect pacing as the title track eases you into the driving NWOBH influenced "You Can't Stop Steel." Catchy leads, hook driven rhythm guitars, sing-along lyrics and pumping drums pen Midnight as catchy and credible as heavy metal can get.

Highlights include the aforementioned track as well as the following track, "Rip This Hell" which are both similar nods to Lemmy and co and eventually "Violence on Violence" which retains a very early thrash feel.The album stomps along, never moving far from a driving mid-pace rhythm, until the lone dud of the album, "Black Damnation" which sounds like stock 80's jukebox hard-rock with raspy vocals. For a band that does a good job with repeating familiar sounds and tropes, maybe this track does it too well and simply becomes flat.

As only as Hell's Headbanger's can do, Midnight is a retro-act with just enough of a modern distinction to make it an easy pick for parties, car rides, or a venture to physical therapy for whiplash.

Album drops Novemeber 8th.

Inquisition and Mortuary Drape to Play NYC in Decemeber

Pretty fuggin' cool if you ask me, black metal shriekaholics Inquisition team up with Italy's trailblzaers Mortuary Drape to play in Drape's first ever North American show. Put together by my friend over at BBQ Booking, this promises to be a rare and unholy show.

Taken from the barbeque pit...

For our fourth volume, we are extremely proud to announce the return of Washington-via-Colombia's black magick leaders Inquisition to New York City. The band—drummer Incubus and vocalist/guitarist Dagon—have been relentlessly creating their unique brand of black metal for over two decades and have been consistently evolving from Anxious Death, the band's debut EP from 1990, to their latest opus, last year's Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm... Joining Inquisition will be none other than legendary Italian cult Mortuary Drape (!), which will be the band's first-ever appearance on North American soil. The band's 1994 debut LP, All the Witches Dance, and 1997's sophomore release, Secret Sudaria, are not only some of our personal favorite records ever, but they pioneered the sound and aesthetics of modern-day black metal.

Crawl out from whatever rock you're under and put away your Burzum tapes, this promises to be a unique performance. The show is December 2nd at the Studio in Webster Hall.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Thou, The Body, Alakhest @ ABC No Rio 10/8/11

Yesterday I cuaght ABC No Rio's weekly matinee that caters to punk/metal acts. One of New York's best venues, and possibly the oldest DIY venue in the States, it was the perfect setting for Baton Rogue sludgophiles Thou.

I came into the gig a bit late and missed the first act ( some band from New Jersey that had members of Burnt by the Sun and Dillinger Escape Plan). Luckily I caught a bit of Alkahest's set which quickly won over my girlfriend and I (her first CD purchase since middle school). The band's brand of atmospheric sludge a'la Mouth of the Architect with a much heavier touch (not to mention painfully awesome/dynamic vocals) sounded so overwhelming and great in such a small place. Catchy and building guitar leads upon thundering drums, competent bass lines, and a guiding rhythm guitar had me zoning out (in a good way of course) and wishing for more.

The Body was up next, hailing from Rhode Island, the duo had one of the oddest looking drum sets I'd ever seen and refused to use a mic for singing. I admire the idea (if this was what it was) but it was silly as he just sounded like he was yelling randomly and just barely got above the guitars and drums. The band itself sounded heavy for heaviness's sake. The crowd swayed to and fro to the plodding thunder of indistinguishable and monotonous riffs and seemed to like it. I wasn't won over, but the band seems to have quite a following and maybe this gig didn't live up to the band's recorded material.

Next up, Thou took the stage in a very humble manner and kicked things off a set full of energetic songs embracing their punk side, as well as my favorite track "They Stretch out Their hands," and ending with one of the most fun covers I've ever heard, "Sabotage" by the Beastie Boys. The crowd was nuts before the cover, and with the cover the small setting turned into a moving pit of people singing along as front man Byran tossed himself throughout the crowd. While I liked the band's set list better last month at The Bell House, the energy and smaller venue was a lot better here at ABC. The band really shined in the crowded smaller space and proved to be one of the most energetic and fun bands I have ever seen.

A must see, and a must hear band, Thou kicked ass once again.

Thou | NYC @ Abc No Rio | 08 Oct 2011 from (((unartig))) on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Forgotten Lore: ABC Weapons

My discovery of ABC Weapons was the product of a summer with too much time and one dedicated to finding music. Luckily, I came across the now defunct ABC Weapons of Melbourne, Australia. Formed in 2003, dead by 2008, these boys put out only two EPs and are trying to get an unreleased album out posthumously.

The style the band plays is a furious d-beat driven ensemble of blistering guitar leads and barked vocals on top of typical punky like chord progressions. A very metal, yet dynamic approach to a commonly replicated sound.

Similar to the band they take their name from (*cough* G.I.S.M *cough*), ABC Weapons have guitar leads that would fit in much more with the melodic thrash crowd than any punk group. It's a big statement to make, but take a mid-era Wolfpack/brigade effort and make it more melodic, dynamic, and better and essentially you've got ABC Weapons. The Process of Decay has always been a top player in my month to month listening. It's such a great mixture of melodic, catchy leads and hooks along with furious vocals and surging d-beats that get me in a Doom kinda mood.

It's rare to find such a release that is perfect in of itself, and that's just the case with The Process of Decay, without fault or any need, it's definitely one of my favorite EPs.

For fans of Muga, Martyrdod, His Hero is Gone, Wolfpack/bridge, Nux Vomica, etc.

Up the punx!

An Autumn For Crippled Children - Everything

Covers like this are usually a good indication of what you're in for.
While it might sound like some small town fundraiser started in memory of Timmy the octoplegic, it is, in fact, the name of a symphonically driven black metal band out of the Netherlands (we'll stick with ACC to make life easier). A dense and claustrophobic production coupled with trite keyboards, made it a surprise to find out that this isn't a one man black metal band, but rather a three piece (there are credits to a drummer, but I don't believe that these are real drums).

To get right to it, Everything is the latest release from this band. The album itself is  a very spotty record  that jumps from keyboard driven sections that are boring and over the top to dense, powerful walls of steel wool, shoe gaze-y guitars gone scary and forlorn. This sums up the first two tracks as "Forever Never Fails" is as poppy as black metal could ever get and then "Formlessness" explores a very post-rock influenced sound and, for the most part, lacks keyboards. Halfway through the second track reminds me a lot of Xasthur on a good day and Alcest circa Le Secret. This is a very powerful, and well done section that shows the potential behind ACC if they focused their energy on atmosphere and the guitar.

This is pretty much how the rest of the album carries on as the band jumps from silly, synth driven tracks that sound amateurish and over the top, to dreary slicing guitars, mangled screams and dense sections where they all come together.

There was a period in my life where I listened to almost anything labeled black metal and when I found bands like Xasthur to be the creme dela creme, with ACC I feel like I'm back there again. There are countless, forgettable bands that did what ACC do and have never been thought of again by myself, and there are others such as Caïna and Lifelover who have what makes ACC interesting without what makes them not. ACC do somethings right, but the merry elves keyboards and the drum machine really kill what what does work. The band would be far better suited to bask in dense, droning sections and pour out into post-rock like explosions.

The album leaves me thinking "well, maybe next time they'll get it right." Truth be told, I don't care if there is a next time. If Slayer went right from Haunting the Chapel to Seasons in the Abyss I would say "they had something going, but lost it somehow." What's there is there, and what An Autumn for Crippled Children have is nothing worth revisiting as handfuls have done it better, and continue to do so.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Soundtracks for the Deaf: SWANS Live

"Byah Byah Byah, hey hey hey"
Swans, formed in 1982 and recently revived, showed no sign of age or weakness last Wednesday at The Music Hall of Williamsburg (albeit minor setbacks as front-man Micheal Gira blew out two amps). Notorious for their live performances the band set out to live up to their painfully loud legacy of making concert goers pay with their hearing.

Swans are a band I've only come into recently. Having first heard them by way of Nadja covering them I didn't know about their heavier, dirtier side until recently. That said, I am, by no means an avid fan, expert or even knowledgeable about the band. I think such a statement would speak volumes about the band as a person like me was completely blown away by their performance.

Openers Sir Richard Bishop and Wovenhand attracted a crowd, but as solo performers upon a large stage they looked out of place. The rustic, eerie folk of Wovenhand would have fared much better in a small coffee shop, log cabin, or wild cave and the fretboard wizardry of Sir Richard Bishop felt a bit flat without anything to back him up. I'm sure these two are great on record, or a proper venue, but they were a bit boring up on that large stage.

As expected, the show was the loudest and most overwhelming concert I've ever been to in my life. It wasn't just feedback and the droning sections that got me, or the drummer's fury upon a rack-mounted bass drum, but every little nuance of the band formed a huge, fractured sound that came together and split apart in such a way that was as beautiful as it was ugly. Gira flailed around and looked utterly possessed as the band occupied the stage for two plus hours. Most of the set list I assume to be from their most recent work, although I recognized the last track as it was from Soundtracks for the Blind. Employing well over a dozen different instruments, no keyboards, and a very well put together sound, Swans were just enough messy to be authentic and organic without being sloppy or bad in anyway.

I was so enamored by the band and this beautiful screened poster that I opted for the wrong date. Much nicer than the one done for us New Yorkers.
Chaotic, cathartic, loud, and overwhelming, Swans proved to be more of an experience than an event.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...