Sunday, July 29, 2012

Black Sunday: Acid Witch - Stoned (2010)

There's fun and then there's serious fun. Acid Witch fall squarely into the former and, hell, there's nothing wrong with that. Scouring the photo inside the gatefold of 2010's Stoned, one can easily discern if this disc is for them. The Gate? Check. Hellhammer? Check. The Necronomicon? Check. A VHS of Sleepaway Camp II? Check and sold. It was an easy purchase, then, when Hell's Headbangers offered the third pressing of the band's second full-length record, this time available in what was described as "Halloween Orange and Deep Purple." The end result looks a lot more red than purple to me but, frankly, who the hell cares?

Acid Witch offer an almost satirical, very stereotypical stoner experience and one that, taken on the music alone, does not offer as much staying power as one would hope given their over-the-top, easy to love image. As a physical package, however, Stoned delivers in spades with a beautiful gatefold package, massive artwork from the band's own Shagrat duplicated on an 18x24" poster, die-cut Halloween window decor and the aforementioned two-toned wax.

Stoned is fun to look at and even better to pore over as the record plays. It's a great soundtrack for all your B-grade horror hankerings and can land in your hands for fifteen bucks. Hell's Headbangers offer a huge selection, superb prices, fast delivery and very interesting material on their own label. With over 8,000 titles in stock and only three so far on my shelf, I've got some ordering to do.

Transparent Vinyl: [your band here]

Wanna make a tremendous sound on a little record? Contact me at or Gogmagogical Records, PO Box 211, Vandalia OH 45377. Click the "Read more>>" below for a template of what I propose as the standard artist agreement for a one-off 7" record.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Scum Guilt - Scum Guilt - 2012

What's a filthy mess, lasts three minutes but can take hours to penetrate? Yes, an encounter I had freshman year of college with a Greek girl but also, for this blog's purposes, Scum Guilt's eponymous EP.  This unholy amalgamation of factions of my beloved Buckeye metal masters, Dismemberment and Kingsblood, vomit a heap of grind in three violent retches, each serving spewing forth at roughly the same tempo, structure, and preceded and followed by feedback. It's the tiny chunks here that distinguish one sonic heap from another and reward the careful listener: the solitary clean chord struck five seconds before the end of "Ignorance," the drumsticks counting off two seconds into "Filth" and its ramshackle skeleton of a riff, or the presence of actual discernible percussion in the record's 67-second epic, "Fronter." Not for the weak of heart nor anyone desiring melody, this is grindcore cut to the bone, pulverized, marrow sucked clean, regurgitated and fucking reanimated. If this is your thing in any way, the rehearsal demos available are definitely worth grabbing, too. I have to be honest and say I have no idea if these are the same tracks or not but sonically they tilt much more toward the percussion and provide an entirely different experience. Both are available at whatever price you think is fair at Scum Guilt's bandcamp site. Be generous but be forewarned: they may just make more.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Black Sunday: Metallica - "So What (Live)" b/w "Through the Never (Live)" (2012)

I'm not usually one to pick up Metal Hammer's special editions. As an expensive import title, the regular magazine alone is a budget buster but I felt compelled to grab their Metallica 30th Anniversary Event special when Barnes & Noble had it on the shelf for $14.99, easily ten dollars less than I have seen the same issue for sale in independent record stores. Like many ages-old Metallica fans, I have mixed feelings about the current band and their recent output but I cannot deny that the four-night series of 30th Anniversary concerts from late in 2011 at the Fillmore Theatre in San Francisco is something I would have given about anything to attend. Until their marketing machine releases the inevitable DVD/CD collection of the whole affair, this package, complete with a massive Metallica-drenched magazine and an exclusive 45, is a pretty neat set.

The wax itself is a nice enough 7". "So What," from the December 9 show, features progenitor Animal from the Anti-Nowhere League and flipside "Through the Never," originally on Metallica, is culled from the December 10 set. The sleeve itself is heavy cardstock similar to that that envelops the entire package. The vinyl has a UK-style breakout center and song titles etched into the run-off matrices.

The record is supposed to be the extra here, second to the magazine, and feels as such. The magazine itself, a collaboration between Metal Hammer and Metallica's So What! fan club publication, is magnificent, weighing in at 130 largely fluff-free pages. This publication rivals many tour programmes and is packed with photos, interviews, timelines and set lists from the entire week of the concerts. It's literally several hours' worth of reading, cover to cover, and, even for the Metalli-jaded such as myself, compelling stuff.

All in all, a really nice package, no piece alone necessarily worth the inflated prices I've seen; but as a set - especially at fifteen bucks - one of the neatest souvenirs you can find from an event most of us never got to experience.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Transparent Vinyl: Pressing Gogmagogical Records

So all of this is still happening. Little by little and more slowly than I would like (an upside of slowly is that it is currently synonymous with less financially demanding), but happening nonetheless. There's not a lot of fun DIY-type stuff I am able to share yet but I am amassing things that may prove interesting if and when this gets off the ground properly. In the meantime, feel free to peek, warts and all, at the awkwardly growing (also now resident at the menu bar above as a separately-linked page - we're still really, really embryonic with a lot of demo/trial/placeholder material). This is truly a labor of love with the initial band in my sights yet-to-be-named while we sort through the details and all sorts of kind compatriots from this informal metal network overwhelming me with their generosity and expertise. Mack Sabbath at Rockthought is kindly assisting with web design and layout, The Metal Advisor is living up to his moniker and doing exactly that: providing invaluable insight, assistance and feedback throughout and, for my most weighty, favorite milestone yet, R. Lawrence Blake from The NWOTM Blog has hewn a monolith of a logo which is, simply, badass. That's a good place to stop for now and one hell of a start.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

This is PiL - Public Image Ltd - 2012

This is PiL, Public Image Ltd's first record in two decades, comes across somewhat as a reboot/reintroduction and skronks onto the stereo in a cacophony of croaked vocals, kazoos and a handful of repeated phrases wailed as only John Lydon can across its eponymous first track. The number settles into an Eastern-flavored groove and, over the course of a minute or two, the years wash away and one begins to wonder just how "post" post-punk can get. Indeed, This is PiL seems to traverse an ellipse, circling backward, angling across PiL's own evolution with three Happy?-era vets seemingly orbiting very closely to First Issue and Metal Box/Second Edition.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Black Sunday: Municipal Waste / Toxic Holocaust - Toxic Waste (2012)

Fully aware of the irony in a Black Sunday post that has only clear and colored elements, I cannot resist the urge to write up what may be the finest team-up in the history of split releases, Municipal Waste and Toxic Holocaust's 12" EP, Toxic Waste, from Tankcrimes. As I missed out on the first pressing of glow-in-the-dark and picture disc variations, I took no chances with the second pressing and bought one each of the striped (200) and "toxic spill" (350) versions (and, yeah, the third choice, highlighter yellow (450), is currently haunting my cart). With the pair promptly delivered earlier this week, my record collection has grown all the more colorful.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cauldron of the Wild - Witch Mountain - 2012

It seems that, suddenly, it's gotten all retro and doomy around here. From recent replays of Electric Wizard to the throwback vibes of Christian Mistress, what's old is new again, albeit all downtuned and despairing. Until I picked up Cauldron of the Wild all Witch Mountain meant to me was some flick I remember from childhood where Eddie Albert flies an RV full of kids away from Ray Milland. Cauldron of the Wild is decidedly more sinister than those hazy recollections though nearly equally confounding. Reading up on the band, it appears they've gone through several configurations, only recently represented on vocals by Uta Plotkin. There are many elements here with which I'm immediately reminded of Blood Ceremony for whom, frankly, I do not care. Remove that flute, though, improve the vocals, add an almost dewy, organic element to the sound and you've got the very satisfying Cauldron of the Wild.

Witch Mountain cast aside the dour drone oft adopted by the genre practitioners and instead successfully hearken back to the seeds of Sabbath, plunging into the depths, ascending the peaks, all the while shrouded in smoke and shadow. Likewise, the band can namecheck Crowley with the best of 'em ("Aurelia") but also belt out a character-driven gunslinger ballad in the gothic tradition of Nick Cave ("The Ballad of Lanky Rae"). "Beekeeper," in particular, communicates the band's best qualities. The pause at 37 seconds in after smoke...smoke...smells of oak communicates hesitation, exhaustion, resignation and, finally, commitment to descent, to doom. The chorus shifts from the most intentionally wretched of vocals to an outright hymn of praise extolling the cycle of dominance and submission.

With only six tracks in 45 minutes, Cauldron of the Wild offers little room for Witch Mountain to flag and, thankfully, they never do. With the last two glorious numbers making up nearly half the record's length, Cauldron of the Wild comes across as the first two acts in some grand guignol. It seems like Witch Mountain have just gotten started and we're waiting, watching between our fingers, for what's next.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Black Sunday: Electric Wizard - Black Masses (2010) & Witchcult Today (2007)

This summer - thanks largely to a stable, well-stocked, local independent music store in Omega Music - I have developed a great weekend ritual of vinyl acquisition, bolstering a segment of my library that has largely gone neglected since one of vinyl's earlier booms in my college years in the early '90s. I hope to dedicate some Sunday posts to some of these slabs of wax and am kicking it off with two of my favorite recent purchases: Metal Blade's 2012 pressings of Electric Wizard's Witchcult Today and Black Masses, each limited to editions of one thousand each.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

So I wanted a piece of vinyl...

...or any merch, really, at a show some months ago and the band I loved had none. It's an expense for a band - and a shame - as fans, particularly metal fans, seem to want merch, especially vinyl and t-shirts.

So I decided to actively pursue a longstanding "wouldn't that be cool?" dream and see if I could start a record label. Here's where I've gotten so far:
• First and foremost, a band. I am actively working out an agreement with a local act I love and we are verbally on the same page, just hashing out the translation to paper.
• The paper. I would love to do this with a handshake but want to protect myself and also assure the band that their creation is not abused. I am keeping this as simple as possible and will share what I hope will become the standard house agreement for a one-off record (not currently seeking long-term commitments) as soon as it gets all legalized (expense #1).
• The record. This will involve fronting some studio money, could include artwork and will include pressing, packaging and all the usual associated necessities (expenses 2, 3, 4....).
• The rest. I need all the required State stuff (name registration, vendor's license). I need a separate bank account, PO box, dedicated space to store product and work from. I need a website to sell the record. I need a design for the site. I need a reliable checkout process. I need to be able to accurately predict fees, shipping, packaging - everything needing built into the cost of the vinyl to ensure that, if I can sell it, it's not at a loss. I want to be able to cut the band a check and then press more. I need to hone a marketing plan that includes consignments, advertisements, collaborations, fan involvement and more.
• The best. All of this is fun. Good people who I have met via this blog have stepped up and offered invaluable insight and assistance. I'm networking with other small labels, bands, independent record stores and people who genuinely seem happy to help. Accounting-wise, I will lose money on this. Initial estimates of expenses will likely triple in reality. Personally, though, it is turning out to be one of the most rewarding endeavors I have ever pursued.

More to follow soon. I'll share the bits and pieces as they fall into place and, ideally, eventually hopefully build some half-assed DIY roadmap of mistakes, successes and lessons learned along the way.

(all apologies re: formatting here or lack thereof. Recent storms in Ohio have killed Web access, seemingly indefinitely, and I'm working solely via smartphone, proceeding as best I can)