Sunday, December 9, 2012

This is it.

Sort of.

With today's post - a Black Sunday, Transparent Vinyl and more all rolled into one - I'm going to shift this blog, already slower in its second year, to a largely archival state, focusing energies and devoting fleeting free time to a successful launch and promotion of the Fister record on the Gogmagogical Records site, where most of my future posting will exist on the front pages dedicated to the bands with which I am working.

they grow up so fast... godspeed, hundreds of records.
Violence is nearly complete and back on track for a Christmas Day release. One-hundred each of five color combinations are in hand and I just shipped a share of the vinyl to the band and Encapsulated Records, who have created the jackets and will distribute a portion of the pressing as well.

A respectable percentage of my share of the records has sold already via pre-order, with wax set to ship out across the US and also to fans in the UK, Germany, France and Russia. Once I have jackets in hand I'll distribute some review copies and expect some positive traction there.

I'm entirely biased in my assessment of the record's sound but I am thrilled with both our mastering and the pressing in terms of lack of surface noise. There's a lot of sound in this small platter and it's a damn dense album. As far as colors go, my favorite disc so far is the blue version as it looks almost marble with its deep shades. I don't have any jackets in hand yet as printing is finishing up now but my favorite design as a pure graphic, most emotionally evocative for me in terms of the record's theme, would have to be Coby Ellison's design for "I. Forced Extinction."

artwork by Coby Ellison
Getting the actual vinyl felt like a feat in itself. Three-hundred - three of the colors - were delivered very quickly after tests were approved, by November 16. Then we waited. And waited. With delays expected over the holidays, I was surprised to learn after a status check that there had been a miscommunication at the pressing plant and that stampers for the record had been either damaged, discarded or destroyed. With new stampers ordered from the mastering and plating facilities, we did rebound very quickly and the plant stayed true to their word that we would receive expedited priority, with our final 200 delivered last Friday. We ended up only a few days behind our most recently estimated schedule. In order to turn around an order for t-shirts offered as a promo with pre-orders we'll close that promotion at midnight Monday, send an order to Holy Mountain in the wee hours of Tuesday morning and hope their production estimate holds true as well.

This has been an immensely satisfying and rewarding experience. The excitement hasn't waned yet and, just last night, I got word that another project in the hopper was progressing and, if all goes well, I'll be starting all over again soon with what I hope is another in a line of killer metal releases. I cannot express how very grateful I am to Fister to offer this opportunity and I am more than proud to be associated with them, especially with a recording this powerful. Likewise, contacts and connections made via this blog have been essential in getting this thing off the ground.

I plan to return to this forum as time and opportunities permit, to share a few live show experiences and thoughts on releases unrelated to Gogmagogical Records but, as time progresses, look forward to working with more bands to make records like Violence. I started this entire exercise to write about music and it is beyond any wildest dreams to, twenty months later, have a hand in producing records that rival favorites in my bins. This is where I want to be.

Thanks, all.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

FISTER's Violence on 10" Vinyl Available for Order

We're forging ahead. I'll break down all the dirt in another post when I can breathe later this week but, despite unforeseen setbacks (that, realistically, probably plague anyone messing with a vinyl format, let alone five different versions of one record), we're open for business and planning to ship a load of Christmas cheer to those who are otherwise all doomy.

The Gogmagogical Records store is activated and located at

The official announcement on the label site can be viewed here:

Thanks, as always, to friends and supporters for getting us this far.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Black Sunday: King Diamond - No Presents for Christmas (2012)

No Presents for Christmas? I disagree. Christmas is already complete. Black Friday was turning out to be a total loss as, out of town, I was limited to one mediocre record store (the type that stocks only faux-hipster vinyl, i.e., the complete White Stripes and little else) as my only possibility for the limited reissue of King Diamond's very first solo foray. I busted their doors at their 11:00 AM opening to find only a Reservoir Dogs soundtrack and, surprise, a White Stripes 7" stocked for Record Store Day's Black Friday release. By the time I had returned home the following day my beloved Omega Music had sold the two copies they had received. Mailorder still works, though, and it wasn't impossible to find this glorious picture disc at the $13.99 list price and, a few days later, the object of my desire sits snugly under the family tree.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Transparent Vinyl: Waiting for Violence

I admit, I am impatient. It's hard not to get a little frustrated. This isn't "Ohio" and I sure as hell am not Atlantic circa 1970 but, damn, things just seem to take a long time:

winter is coming.
grab a jacket.

September 12 - Masters shipped for lacquers/plating; Pressing plant order placed and deposit and label artwork submitted.
September 23 - Vinyl is mastered onto a lacquer.
September 24 - Lacquer is shipped to be plated. Turnaround time quoted as 7-10 days to arrive at the pressing plant.
October 22 - Pressing plant finds the master plates (turns out they got them October 19).
November 2 - Test pressing received.
November 3 - Test pressing shipped to band for their approval.
November 5 - Test pressing approved, balance due transmitted to pressing plant.
November 16 - 300 of the 500 records ordered (3 of the 5 variants) delivered.
November 28 - Pressing plant states remainder of the order "should be completing and shipping by Friday if all goes well."

Should and if aren't reassuring to me. Than again, maybe they shipped. I have learned that proactive communication is not a strong suit from anyone involved in this process (aside from the band, who are constantly on the ball).

If all went well and everything did ship, we plan to open pre-orders once the records are received, likely late Tuesday evening, December 4. We should still be A-OK for a Christmas release (and, if all goes well, a hell of a trip to the Post Office for me on December 26). The band is waiting to see the vinyl so we can match the ink for the remaining jackets exactly. This will be a damn fine release.

And it's worth the wait.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Black Sunday: Father Befouled - Revulsion of Seraphic Grace (2012)

rotting godless throne 7" sold separately...
Hot on the heels of another Black Sunday entry, Red Streams of Flesh, I snatched up another project featuring Prosanctus Inferi's Jake Kohn, Father Befouled's Revulsion of Seraphic Grace, the band's third full-length record and a solid platter of crushing death.

The record's fantastic heavy jacket features some intense, intricate and appropriately blasphemous artwork courtesy of Richard Friend. A double-sided insert provides all the appropriate credits and some stellar band member photos. The cover is reproduced on a glorious 18x24" poster inclued within but the real beauty here is the copper-colored vinyl.  The platter itself is rendered in a very rich, barely transparent tone with traces of reds, yellows white and black. The jacket's sole splash of color on the band logo and title matches the vinyl perfectly and really creates an impressive package.

Revulsion of Seraphic Grace sounds great, too. The album was released by Dark Descent Records and is available in their webstore (currently priced at $14.45) as well as bandleader Justin Stubbs/Ghoat's own Archasm Releasing distro (currently priced at $15.00). It appears that both black and copper variants are still currently available so there's no excuse for not filling someone's stocking with Father Befouled this holiday season.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

10 of '12 - My Favorite Records from this Year

It's that time of year again. The release schedules peter out, I get busy with the usual holiday hubbub and my annual music acquisition pretty much dies until January. So, while 2012 seemed kinda weak compared to 2011, I still easily added double-digits worth of excellent albums to the library. From least best to most best and, for this year, a few almost-theres and a couple stinkers, here they are:

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Black Sunday: John Carpenter & Alan Howarth - Halloween II & Halloween III: Season of the Witch (2012)

A couple weeks too late, this Black Sunday is devoted to Halloween; specifically, two magnificent scores recently reissued on vinyl, Halloween II and Halloween III: Season of the Witch, both from John Carpenter and Alan Howarth. Both come from the fantastic Death Waltz Recording Company, a label dedicated to vinyl reissues of cult film soundtracks.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Transparent Vinyl: On the Receiving End of Violence

There's little better than coming home from work to a package you weren't expecting (except for when Ted Kaczynski was doing the shipping, I guess). In this case, the work week wrapped up with 300 of our run of 500 copies of Violence received from United Record Pressing. Our full runs of three of the five colors - lavender base with black and white mixed, opaque white base with black mixed and transparent dark red base with black mixed - came in nine boxes with the final two colors (translucent green base with yellow mixed and transparent blue base with black and white mixed) to press soon.

We're working on jackets (that is to say "a friend of the band is working on jackets") and, with no unforeseen delays on those and the last 200 records, I cautiously and optimistically predict we'll be able to open up pre-orders in a week or two to ship immediately after the band's planned Christmas release date. The first twenty pre-orders for a set of all five variants will also include a free t-shirt exclusive to this release from Holy Mountain Printing.

Violence IV, II and I

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Black Sunday: Nunslaughter - Hells Unholy Fire (2012)

Hells Headbangers recently reissued the debut full-length from extreme metal stalwarts Nunslaughter, Hells Unholy Fire. Originally out in 2000, a redesigned package improves yet still reveres the original artwork, much like the recent improvements to High on Fire's debut by Southern Lord. As, for me, a band like Nunslaughter exists on the fringe of my listening rotation, much of the appeal lies in the visual aspect of the records, almost as important as the musical. And like many of their records - and particularly vinyl reissues - Hells Headbangers do not disappoint here with regard to the physical product, its packaging and overall presentation.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

we mean nothing. - Slaves BC - 2012

"Dude, is this Christian?"

I don't know, friend. And, furthermore, I don't care (a fine write-up at Valley of Steel ponders much of the same and I appreciate the band's ambiguity here). I realize that if it is, at least in a proactive, proselytizing sense, I've essentially rendered its purpose moot. Perhaps it'll seep in subliminally. I suppose it's only fair and balanced, then, given the amount of straight-up pro-Satan material that feeds through my speakers daily.

But, again, I don't know. Regardless of the faith - or lack thereof - anyone claims, metal owes a heck of a lot to the heavy and heady Book of Revelation and it is from this source that Pittsburgh's own Slaves BC seem to find plenty of inspiration.  I have no complaints. The finest metal is apocalyptic and we mean nothing. does its damnedest to shake open a seal or two across its twelve ferocious minutes.

I've been enjoying the music of Slaves BC since downloading their This World Shall Pass Away demo in August but it's we mean nothing. that really seems to serve as a proper announcement of "we're here." "Everything is Meaningless" rages out of the gate and, by its first tonal shift just twelve seconds in, hooks the listener into an inescapably deep groove. Slaves BC seem to have been captured perfectly on this recording as it's incredibly difficult to define any one element as dominant or - alternatively - underrepresented. The rhythm section remains distinct, simultaneously anchoring and propelling the behemoth, guitars are as thick and sharp as shards of a broken bottle and vocals both ragged and piercing.

"Everything Under the Sun" is, hands down, one of the top ten individual tracks I've heard all year. Conviction and desperation coexist throughout, maintaining an incredibly uneasy tension heralded by a bassline constructed solely of raw nerve and crumbling bone. Waves of guitar batter both vocalist and listener throughout as snares punctuate the proceedings like a spasmodic EKG telegraphing d o o m and nothing more.

Eight minutes in and with a track yet to go, we mean nothing. is exhausting. "Armageddon," a title ripe for epic status if ever there was one, is instead brief at under four minutes and delivers its basic "your time has come" message in a direct, succinct and raging manner (and with some of the record's most interesting drumwork across its first minute). It is here that Slaves BC show themselves to be excellent editors in the realization that a statement need not be lengthy to be successful. we mean nothing. delivers a punch so very heavy that any excess would be unnecessarily brutal. Devastation, perhaps, on a biblical scale.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Black Sunday: Artillery Breath / Dismemberment - Wartorn Split 7" (2012)

This Black Sunday, from the vinyl to the music, lives up to its namesake and is about as charred as it gets. Laurelville, Ohio's Dismemberment teamed up with fellow Buckeye deathly thrashers Artillery Breath for a self-released split 7" guaranteed to satiate any fan of extreme metal.

Artillery Breath occupy the A-side with a selection from their Inhuman album, "Rigor Mortis Has Set In." This little record stands as my introduction to the band's music and has done its job as, wholly impressed, I plan to acquire more ASAP.

Dismemberment are longtime favorites of this site and have consistently delivered a healthy variety of self-released material, all of which is top-notch in quality. Their B-side offering is no disappointment, serving as a sampler of sorts, culling "Dementia Decay" from their debut EP, The Condemned, and "Gateways to the Past" from their latest, Denied Salvation.

The record itself is another product of Ohio, pressed at Musicol, and sounds fantastic. The layout, by Dismemberment's own Jacob Shively, fills the double-sided foldover with some fantastic photographs and a nice, subtle, consistent aesthetic linking the two bands. My favorite aspect, of course, is the cover art from Tony Karnes, who also dreamt up the killer imagery for the band's "Perpetual Malice" release (currently featured on their long-sleeve tee). The marriage of military and mutant mutilation is absolutely inspired.

I believe this Wartorn split saw 300 copies pressed with each band holding 150. It appears as if Artillery Breath may currently offer theirs at live dates and Dismemberment also have theirs for sale online here.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Transparent Vinyl: Testing Violence

I'm going to insult the beauty of childbirth and family by crassly comparing today's arrival of five copies of Fister's Violence test pressings on my doorstep to that of a new baby. But that's the closest metaphor I have. I have been anxiously awaiting and preparing for this moment and, as soon as I knew they had shipped, thinking about little else for the last two days. Perhaps, as a test pressing, a sonogram is a better comparison. Excitement turned to nerves as the needle hit, hoping every sound would be as in place and unmarred as any infant's fingers and toes.

it's all good.

I'll keep one for myself and ship the other four off to the band tonight for their assessment and approval and, very soon (I hope), these first five babies will be multiplied by 100 and unleashed upon the world.

one of those other kids of mine crashing the listening party.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Black Sunday: Venomous Maximus - Give Up the Witch (2010), The Mission (2011) & Beg Upon the Light (2012)

I grabbed Venomous Maximus' EP, The Mission, back in March of this year following a review on, but settled at the time for the immediate gratification of a download version. Looking to buy their full-length debut, Beg Upon the Light, upon its release this month, I went whole-hog on the band's Big Cartel site and grabbed a wax version of each catalogue item they had to offer.

Important to vinyl presentation, of course, is the visual appeal and Venomous Maximus have established a strong identity thanks to the artwork of Daniel K. Miller. There are no credits on the packaging for The Mission and I am making an assumption that Miller, who is credited for both bookending bits of the catalogue, was responsible for this mad monk masterpiece as well.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult - October 26, 2012 - McGuffy's House of Rock, Dayton, Ohio

As I type this I have now seen My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult twice. My first experience with the band was seventeen years ago at the Garage at Caddy's Complex in Cincinnati (long since razed to make way for the Bengals' Paul Brown Stadium - probably a poor trade-off) on their Raygun magazine tour in support of their Hit & Run Holiday album. The lineup has changed (Levi Levi on bass is a standout memory), the core of Groovie Mann and Buzz McCoy have aged noticeably (as have I) and the sound, stripped down to its essential elements for this twenty-fifth anniversary tour, has never been better.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Black Sunday: Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell - Don't Hear It... Fear It! (2012)

While at first glance they may be dangerously off-putting with their oddball historical name or giant bird mascot, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell satisfies anyone's hankering for old-school Budgie-flavored hard rock with their solid full-length debut, Don't Hear It... Fear It! It's a sound that seems custom-made for the vinyl format and the record, released in a total of five variations, is an entirely satisfying affair.

The album as physical product is a relatively minimal offering, its one excess a gatefold sleeve which features two nice, wide photos of the band, with their feathered friend up front. The design and aesthetic are spot-on for the band's throwback sound and image. Tracklistings for both sides occupy the Side 1 label with an ornithological illustration from the 2011 "Return to Zero" 7" on Side 2.

A total of 1,300 records were pressed with 300 in purple vinyl with a bonus 7" containing "November" and "Cursed Earth." Another 100 clear vinyl came with the 7" with the remainder of the pressing coming sans single and split between 300 each of black, red and green. Multiple outlets stock the "regular" edition with Rise Above Records still offering all three of the colors - and I have yet to find the special edition with 7" anywhere. Don't Hear It... Fear It! is a fine, fun record that will fit well with any off-kilter hard rock collection, particularly those with a little Atomic Rooster, Dust, Budgie or Blue Cheer on the shelves.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Transparent Vinyl: By the Numbers

This is the nitty gritty. While I wait - and wait and wait - for the pressing process for Fister's Violence to get underway, I'm getting the books in order. For the few who may be interested in how it's breaking down (or who may be wondering "why can't I do this myself?"), I offer you a bevy of boring numbers. For the rest, sorry.

  • $479.00 - Mastering for vinyl - lacquer/plating (this is still where we're currently stuck. The mastering/lacquer was supposedly done/shipped off for plating on September 24th, with an estimated 7-10 day turnaround time. That was 26 days ago).
  • $1,430.00 - Pressing the vinyl. This reflects 500 10" records, 100 each of custom variations of mixed colors, five test pressings, one color ink on one color paper center labels, plain inner white sleeves and we do all the insertion ourselves. Note that this doesn't include jackets. That would have added at least $900. The band worked out a barter deal where I'll trade 100 records for all the jackets.
  • $225.00 - Shipping the vinyl from the plant to me. Note I still have to ship 200 back to the band/printer.

Those are basic expenses. It's significant to note, though, that the band already had the album recorded and mastered. That's an expense Fister shouldered alone and, much to their credit, one that isn't being passed onto anyone. When you divide by the 300 records I'll retain, the cost per record comes to about $7.11 per album. I also plan to invest more in shipping samples out for review (at these small quantities, it's amazing how quickly each record given away drives up the per unit cost), placing some advertisements and physically driving to independent retailers to see if we can place a few in shops as well.

Now for the nittier, grittier. I'm starting out maintaining a stock of two different sizes of record mailer as well as two sizes of padded envelopes as we'll offer t-shirts as well as a little of my own promotional swag. I have not purchased any of this in the most cost-efficient quantities yet, only stocking what I need to get through what, optimistically, I hope is only the first of multiple pressings. These expenses should be recouped in shipping/handling charges but I think it's more than fair to the consumer to be open about what this stuff actually costs. I won't go into detail any more painful than necessary, sticking to just what I have for the actual wax.

  • $1.44 ea - 10-5/8" square x 3" deep box - for shipping to those who want multiple copies and/or a t-shirt.
  • $0.64 ea - standard flat 12" record mailer (due to their dimensions, though, these can cost more to mail).
  • $2.47-3.31 - the cost for USPS Media Mail for 1-5 records (a rate we can use if no other items are included).
  • $4.12-7.49 - the cost for USPS First Class Mail for 1-5 records and a t-shirt or record bag.

Note that the shipping costs are to U.S. addresses only. I have also calculated for Europe (and plan to ship to anyone, anywhere who orders) and those shipping costs are nearly triple the U.S. rates. Also not added in anywhere are the costs of packing tape and bubble wrap (both of which cost a hell of a lot more than you would think), credit card processing and toss-in promo swag that makes each delivery a little more special.

Dull shit for the vast majority of readers, to be sure. Add in the costs I wouldn't associate with any given record  - website hosting, monthly fees for sites like Big Cartel and, State vendor's licensing, et cetera - and it's certainly not a big money proposition at this scale. Rather, it's a labor of love. And I am loving every minute of it. I don't think a day has gone by since early August that Violence hasn't garnered at least one play on the iPod. To describe how psyched I am to actually hear the needle touch the vinyl would trouble the average person. I remain thrilled to have the privilege to act as a small link in this band's musical timeline and hope not only that they and I are happy with the results but, most of all, that their listeners are, too. 

humble f*cking beginnings.
the second chair makes me feel less lonely.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Black Sunday: Lucifer - Black Mass (1971)

I rarely go to the record store with a wishlist. It is just as rare for me to leave empty-handed. I prefer to browse new arrivals of both new and used material and, if nothing interesting comes up there, I file through the regular stock until something I missed before catches my eye. A few weeks back I hit the infrequently visited "electronica" section and came away with Black Mass, a Moog record on MCA's Universal City Records from astrology and occult composer Mort Garson, released under the name "Lucifer." How the hell could someone sell this off and, better yet, how the hell could I pass it up? I couldn't.

Friday, October 12, 2012

When Myth and History Merged into Mystery - Frost Giant - 2012

Frost Giant, of "the Hinterlands of Pennsylvania," are more than meets the eye. Their debut EP, When Myth and History Merged into Mystery, appears on its surface to be a slab of Viking-themed metal and, indeed, it delivers there at its core. And -core seems an apt suffix for whatever Frost Giant really is - an intriguing amalgam of Viking, folk, death and melodic elements - Vifolkore? Whatever you call it, When Myth and History Merged into Mystery delivers more than one would expect.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Monster - KISS - 2012

Kiss is an easy target. The band themselves readily and repeatedly admit that the spectacle supersedes the music and nowhere is this more painfully apparent than Monster. From its instantly forgettable made-for-big-box-megastore, uninspired artwork to its flat, muddled production to its uncanny absolute lack of hooks, Monster feels simply like aged-rocker cart-fodder. An album to buy because, hey, it's an album and most bands you dig don't release albums anymore. Kiss is comfortable, familiar territory. Maybe so. But Monster recalls neither heyday highs nor interesting, late-career lows. It's criminally bland.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Black Sunday: Cannabis Corpse - The Weeding (2009) & Beneath Grow Lights Thou Shalt Rise (2011)

Cannabis Corpse is fun to listen to, even more fun to collect on wax. With color variations like "Bongwater" and "Loogy," the run-to-the-shelf-and-compare song title tributes and insane artwork, this is a band, sincere or not, that almost demands the vinyl format in order to be fully appreciated.

With four records under their ammo belts, Cannabis Corpse appear to have settled in at Tankcrimes, at least for their last two releases, a 12" EP, The Weeding, and the full-length, Beneath Grow Lights Thou Shalt Rise. The immediate impact, and key now to the Corpse image, is the artwork by Andrei Bouzikov (an association which began with the band's Tube of the Resinated LP from 2008). For a metal vinyl collector this is a dream come true as Tankcrimes is at the top of the list when it comes to labels releasing lush, colorful packages with lots of colored vinyl in creative variations and, to top it off, everything they release sounds fantastic.

My copy of The Weeding came from the record's third pressing and I got one of 200 "Loogy" variations (a nice mucusy smear in the midst of clear vinyl). 300 splatter and 500 orange records rounded out that release though it appears only "Loogy" remains available. The sleeve is one of my absolute favorites and has the kind of detail that can keep you busy for hours. Add to that the artwork by Jared Power on the opposite of the lyric sheet insert and this brief EP offers one hell of a visual return.

Beneath Grow Lights Thou Shalt Rise is how the band caught my attention at the outset. A stellar video commercial for the record made it absolutely irresistible and, after grabbing this one, got the rest from Tankcrimes in one fell swoop (in addition to their own releases from Cannabis Corpse they also distribute the first two records). A gatefold sleeve holds the lyrics within but, again, it's the front of this baby that immediately draws the eye. Bouzikov's government-grade weed has apparently gone bad (or worse), tearing apart a hapless metalhead in excruciating, colorful detail.

The vinyl itself on Beneath Grow Lights Thou Shalt Rise is the "splatter" variant, a nice bright yellow base that complements the album's titles with splotches of green that match up nicely with, of course, all that green. As best I can tell, this and the clear "Pro Stoner Die Hard" and Bongwater Blue are all gone for now. Grab what you can while you can and hope they cultivate some more.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Born of the Bomb - Lich King - 2012

Born of the Bomb is as big as its name. Thrash revivalists/purists (I here on out dub 'em Frashcists) Lich King, already over the top, have, either by accident or design, crafted more than a monster - it may actually be something mature. A recent convert to the realm of Lich King, they were immediately easy to like, with three proper full-lengths progressing in excellence from 2007 to 2010, whose World Gone Dead sucked me in to an immediate "gotta grab it all" acquisition of the band's catalogue. "Fun" is an overused term for take-it-serious justification of less-than-serious subject matter but Lich King fit the bill. I'll wager that there are thousands upon thousands out there for whom Lich King's music feels custom-made. A DNA of stellar old-school thrash lies at the core of an unholy corpse acting as a conduit for influences ranging from George R.R. Martin to Paul Verhoeven, sprinkling in an overall love of the undead and post-apocalyptic chaos, and it all speaks directly to this born-in-the-70s-raised-on-Troma-and-Cannon-films metal fan. "Fun" is also, unfortunately, synonymous with "easily dismissed" and an act like Lich King, at this rate dead-seriously outpacing Anthrax's comparable evolution, ends up criminally underknown and dangerously underestimated.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Black Sunday: Norska - Norska (2012)

A slab of sludge with the capacity to surprise, the purchase of which was spurred on by a recent appearance with Fister, the eponymous recorded debut from Norska on vinyl is a no-frills beauty courtesy of Brutal Panda Records. There's no gatefold, no ultra-heavy vinyl, no decals nor decor. There's Side I, Side II, a single-sided insert and a simple sleeve. The music does the talking here but the little nuances elevate the physical product a notch above the norm.

The sleeve itself, designed by Tim Wenzel, is a manipulation of a famous 1918 photograph by Eric Enstrom (I assume everyone had at least one grandparent with this in their home as it feels as though my grandmother had one in every room). I cannot pretend to understand the juxtaposition of what appears to be a mushroom cloud emanating from what were previously hands folded in prayer but it pairs, for me, a familiar and sedate image (and I imagine for some, a comforting one) with something more sinister. The unnatural angle of a cloud that is already an aberration is jarring to the eye and gives the entire sleeve an appropriate air of unease. The image repeats on the insert which also provides a lyric sheet for the record's five tracks.

The album saw 500 records pressed in total, 300 black and 200 split in olive and forest green. I acquired one of the split copies and am absolutely thrilled when a band and label take care to fit the colors to the feel of the actual content. Both shades mirror life and decay, perfectly pairing with the lyrical content of Norska's music. Close inspection reveals tiny wisps of red and blue which, while likely simply a nice addition to give the colors some depth, almost create a circulatory system of sorts, making the record all the more organic and, ultimately, mortal.

Norska's self-titled debut can be purchased directly from Brutal Panda and is also streaming at Bandcamp.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Morbid Angel • Dark Funeral • Grave • VadimVon • Dismemberment - September 23, 2012 - Screamin' Willies, Columbus, Ohio

Screamin' Willies is a hell of a haul from home - damn near ninety miles. For Sunday night's line up, though, it was worth the trip. Ohio's brightest keepers of the metal flame, Dismemberment were opening a five-band bill topped by none other than Morbid Angel. No way in hell I was going to miss this one. Today, ears still ringing, sleep-deprived and punch drunk from a full-scale riff assault, I'm still reeling from a spectacular show.

First, the venue. Screamin' Willies sits far on the east side of Columbus (think east like "Pennsylvania") and, apparently, usually splits its time between hip-hop and country. The metal showcase occupied a country side with plenty of genre decor and a large floor that one must guess sees a lot of line dancing. Facades aside, it was a large room with lots of space to sit or stand, everywhere a good view of a decent-sized stage. The sound in the room was good though most acts seemed to suffer from some woes in the set-up department. Acts switched in and out quickly and everything seemed to move smoothly across over five hours of music.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Black Sunday: High on Fire - The Art of Self Defense (2012)

High on Fire's debut, The Art of Self Defense, originally out in 2000, fell prey to label Man's Ruin's, er, ruin and, like many of its labelmates, quickly became a collectible in its original incarnation though, unlike many of those Man's Ruin records, it was available through Tee Pee Records as early as 2001 with two bonus tracks (as well as some lousy new cover art). Southern Lord, who also recently resurrected the definitive Dopesmoker, have breathed new life into Matt Pike's post-Sleep project's first release, remastered by Brad Boatright, who also handled the aforementioned effort.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Transparent Vinyl: FISTER’s Violence Sleeve Artwork, Colors Announced

Head on over to Gogmagogical Records for the official posting. The breakdown from this pressing of 500:

  I: Artwork by Coby Ellison
 (100 lavender base with black and white mixed vinyl)
 II: Artwork by Clark Medley
 (100 opaque white base with black mixed vinyl)
  III: Artwork by Travis Lawrence
 (100 translucent green base with yellow mixed vinyl)
  IV: Artwork by Scott Fogelbach
 (100 transparent dark red base with black mixed vinyl)
V: Artwork by Josh Rowan
 (100 transparent blue base with black and white mixed vinyl)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Rush - September 20, 2012 - Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio

A longtime fan, never quite fanatic, Rush's Columbus, Ohio stop on their 2012 tour was my first time seeing the band live. Billed as "An Evening with Rush" with no supporting acts in tow, I was looking forward to what promised to be a long night's indoctrination into Rush on stage.

Pre-show, Rush fans were easy to spot in Columbus' Arena District as, frankly, they were probably the only ones there. They fit the Rush fan stereotype well (hell, so do I) and one could make a fascinating study of the band's tour shirts through history just by photographing their dedicated followers, each seemingly intent on besting the other with a shirt of finer vintage. When choosing my own at the merch stand I was disappointed in the blah-ness of design and, while Rush shirts are never exactly exciting, I have to admit I find the whole steampunk aesthetic just so... nerdy. I settled on a red shirt I'll never wear that has a design I cannot tie to the record but which was one of the only ones not to feature some kind of steam-powered dirigible. Disposable income, indeed.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Black Sunday: Horn of the Rhino - Weight of Coronation (2010)

Some records are heavy to hear and some are heavy to lift. Weight of Coronation, the double-LP debut (in name) by Horn of the Rhino (previously known simply as Rhino), is both. This was a "I must have it for its cover" blind purchase and, even at $30+ total, one I have not regretted. The Spanish band brings a High on Fire groove aesthetic topped with straight up hard rock vocals, crafting a grandiose stoner sound deserving of a big, fat vinyl vehicle. And that's exactly what Horn of the Rhino and Czech Republic label Doomentia deliver on Weight of Coronation.


This is Pirates Press vinyl and the quality is top-notch. The wax itself is hefty and clean and sounds downright killer. I am not sure if another source crafted the jacket but I simply do not own another record whose jacket is printed on stock this heavy. It's thick to a fault, all but guaranteeing a tear in the side of the records' sleeves if you tried to actually store them in the jacket. That said, the cover artwork, by Rafa Garres, is absolutely worthy of a frame and prominent display and it would not be unthinkable to order a second copy simply to do exactly that.

Doomentia offers purchase straight from their site though prices are all in Euros for those of us in the States and who can guess what shipping times would be? The site is fun as hell to browse, though, and anyone interested in colored vinyl and deluxe packaging will have their mouth watering immediately. All That is Heavy currently carries about twenty Doomentia titles including Weight of Coronation. They only made 400 of these. Buy two: one for the wall, one for your soul. Just be prepared to drop some serious postage: Weight of Coronation is heavy.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Transparent Vinyl: Perpetuating Violence

This is not Fister's first rodeo. I'll be perfectly honest: I'm still not 100% certain who connected them to my tweeted solicitation but, thus far, they have been a godsend. And by "they" I really have to credit bassist/vocalist Kenny Snarzyk, who has been my sole point of contact thus far.

First off, Kenny pointed out segments of the draft agreement I had posted that, while designed to appeal to the artist, would strain me financially. Upon first contact, he proposed a split of product that would tilt in favor of this fledgling label and offered an opportunity to press a project that already had proven success in the cassette format. We spoke almost immediately following the first few emails and Kenny understood I was inexperienced here and has offered invaluable experience and guidance every step of the way. I had inquiries from about a half-dozen acts, all of which have been humbling, but Fister were one of the few whose music I truly, truly enjoyed, which is absolutely essential.

We started with thoughts of a 10" but the length of each side was prohibitive for our preferred plant so we moved to 12" picture discs, got floored by the pricing and have come back to a 10". I love the 10" format and have been enamored with that idea from the start as every 10" I own is some neat, off-the-wall EP that just seems to deserve that mid-sized unique format. Violence on cassette came with a beautiful book featuring original artwork by by Coby Ellison, Clark Medley, Travis Lawrence, Scott Fogelbach, and Josh Rowan, each corresponding with one of the recording's five movements. As recreating the booklet for the vinyl format would be cost prohibitive, Kenny had the fantastic idea of limited runs of picture discs with each piece of artwork on the flipside. You can see a sample of the 12" dream as mocked up by Kenny below:

Damn, the cost got out of control fast. To change the image every 100 records adds a lot of expense. The overall budget here is definitely a concern, I won't lie. The larger concern, however, is to be able to offer an item at a cost that is reasonable for a record-buying fan. To paraphrase Kenny, Fister are "working man's metal" and a $20+ LP is a luxury most cannot afford. I wish I could take credit for the brainstorm but Kenny's solution was more creative than any I could come up with and speaks to his connections and industry experience. Plates for the record will be created by a mastering firm who can fit what we need onto a 10" (11-13 minutes per side). We'll keep the idea of five sets of 100 with the jackets now bearing the unique artwork and each run of 100 a different combination of colors. I'll share more specifics, samples of the final packaging and credit to all involved as we nail everything down but Kenny has brokered an arrangement with another artist/entrepreneur who is willing to barter printing materials, labor and their own expertise for a share of the pressing run. We'll stay under budget, we'll all get what we need and, above all, the record will remain extremely affordable.

So - tonight I have the WAV masters for the 10" in hand, edited now to two sidelong single tracks. I'll send CDs off tomorrow for mastering/plating and we're already prepped to place the order with the pressing plant as well. This thing is moving. I owe a hell of a lot to a fantastic band and a dedicated, motivated man who, up to now, have done all of the heavy lifting. And, damn, is this thing heavy.