Friday, August 31, 2012

Scum Guilt's Enslaved Up for Mass Consumption

Scum Guilt have regurgitated ten more minutes of metal for your pleasure, four of which are ready to sample. These guys are not messing around. Get on board early at and

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Destroyer {Resurrected} - KISS - 2012

I love to hate KISS. As someone who enjoyed a childhood in the '70s - and whose parents denied them access to all things KISS early on - I have been infatuated with the band as long as I can remember, have truly enjoyed much of their music and the overall spectacle and never fail to be revolted at - or sucked in by - the music-second cash-grabs they seem to concoct at every turn. Destroyer {Resurrected} is a worthless exercise designed to appeal to fans of classic KISS, long hungry for a return to the band's heyday and, admittedly, one now on my shelf in both CD and vinyl formats. I owned a secondhand copy of Destroyer on vinyl years ago and, frankly, KISS vinyl never sounded that good. When Mercury remastered the catalogue in 1997, I went CD-only with the band and have been satisfied with those releases since. I could not resist the experience, however, of buying a "new" KISS album on wax at an actual record store and dropped a twenty-dollar bill on Destroyer {Resurrected}. It's heavy 180g vinyl and, aside from that, has little else to recommend it. It sounds pretty good, not great so, of course, I dropped another ten bucks to compare CD to CD.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Transparent Vinyl: Gogmagogical Records Announces Partnership with FISTER

For the announcement proper I'll redirect you to the official Gogmagogical Records site. Needless to say, I'm fucking thrilled.

Black Sunday: Mantas - Death by Metal (2012)

In keeping with its subject, this Black Sunday is decidedly brief and lo-fi. There's no flashy packaging, no gloss, no color, even, in Relapse Records' proper release of the genesis of death metal, Death by Metal by Chuck Schuldiner's seminal Mantas.

Death by Metal as proper product is presented with a no-frills package designed to emulate photocopied demo materials and is a minimal, charming bare-bones affair. A simple matte jacket, white sleeve and 12x12" two-sided insert, all black-and-white, is all there is. Notes from death metal chronicler Ian Christe dominate one side along with a reproduction of the original Death by Metal cassette demo insert, the Emotional 7" sleeve and a review of the demo from way back when. The other side offers some recollections from guitarist Rick Rozz, a nice group shot and a copy of a hand-drawn advertisement for the demo (just four buck to Chuck's house in Altamonte Springs would have landed it in your hands).

If it all feels a little slight, perhaps it is. Really, though, all we have is a total of seven tracks, duplicated here to a total of fourteen with two versions of the demo making up the first nine numbers and a five-track rehearsal from 1984 rounding out the record. Death by Metal is at once raw and aged. It's still presented as a humble production as if it remains unaware of its influence. This is not material for an audiophile but instead artifact for the metal archeologist. It's an origin that deserves appreciation and, thanks to Relapse Records, it's one that has now moved beyond museum piece, out of the display case and into the record crate.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Transparent Vinyl: Boxes, Buttons & a 'Bot

So, apparently, all this record-making business moves slowly. And by slowly, I mean in comparison to my usual "immediate results"/"instant gratification" mindset.  While I don't have wax in hand - or even on order yet - things are progressing. I have two projects that fit my current budget in differing stages and, while neither is ready for announcement, I am pleased as hell to say both are music that absolutely, honestly moves me and I will be thrilled to death if and when they come to fruition. The reality: bands are made of multiple people, most of whom work and deal with families just like anyone else, none of whom move at exactly the same speed, all with varying degrees of motivation and their contribution to the project also requires time, money and, above all, creation of art, which happens on its own damn timetable.

In the meantime, my antsy self is trying to keep busy without getting too far off track. This much is done:
  • The basic website is complete. Stellar design thanks to Mack Sabbath of Band pages, e-commerce and additional content will be added as we get closer to defined release dates. This is all anchored and inspired by the logo designed by R. Lawrence Blake from the New Wave of Thrash Metal Blog. The standard artist agreement draft (always subject to negotiation) is posted for download in the site's footer and can also be accessed here.
  • An additional design element was donated by a friend and graphic artist who wishes to go uncredited. I'm using the Gogbot above as an extra marketing design as well as an avatar replacement for the copyright-chafing General Urko I'd had in place since this blog's inception. The sci-fi feel complements the monolithic G label logo and also pays homage to the comic books, films and fiction that have proven a constant inspiration since childhood.
  • All the dull stuff, bank accounts, registration, PO boxes... is either done or in process. Gogmagogical Records can be reached via the U.S. Mail at P.O. Box 211, Vandalia, Ohio 45377.
  • In terms of even more dull stuff, I've been shopping/pricing/comparing vinyl mailers, testing and weighing and working to calculate the lowest possible realistic, fair shipping prices.
  • I've started testing some small batches of marketing/giveaway swag. With many thanks to Jacob Shively of Dismemberment for his insight, experience and recommendations regarding sources, I've got the usual buttons and decals moving and have a few other options I'd like to explore once we have some traction in terms of musical output on the calendar. To date, buttons are in hand, turned around with incredible speed and top-notch quality from Jimmy Buttons, a fellow Ohioan.
I have gotten some decent response in terms of submissions for consideration for recording. It has been fun to listen to all of them, exciting to consider a few and downright humbling that anyone would send anything my way at all. The Metal Advisor has provided great ideas and feedback along the way and, along with all the other good people mentioned above, this truly feels like some sort of team as opposed to a solo pursuit. I am hoping we'll be able to post some exciting partnerships really soon. In the meantime, there are certainly worse ways to spend one's time than listening to kickass music and researching the vinyl pressing process.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Black Sunday: Ozzy Osbourne - Mr. Crowley Live (1980) & Metallica Creeping Death/Jump in the Fire (1990)

Vinyl's great for many, many reasons. Not included among these is portability, hence the vast numbers of compact discs and, in recent years, digital files in my collection. Still, when sitting among your music and looking through the library, nothing beats the LP for hands-on satisfaction and art-drenched eye-candy. It's the extreme end of this spectrum that I'm stopping on for this Black Sunday, pulling a couple picture discs from favorites of my youth, both of which serve not only as optical originals but also catalogue rarities as well.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

About to Crack - Vitamin X - 2012

artwork by John Baizley
About to Crack, the aptly-titled fifth full-length album from Vitamin X, seems fit to fracture at any given moment across its fiercely scant 18-minute playing time. Fast, furious hardcore with a decidedly thrash slant, About to Crack is at once immensely satisfying yet continuously tantalizing as, with the most successful of records, it leaves the listener appetized for more. It's a masterpiece of frenetic desperation, with every element existing right on the edge.

Ingredient A: the charging vocals, somehow sonically communicating imminent grey matter disaster. Whereas some intonations simply telegraph angst or unrest, "Maelstrom," for example, manages a microcosm of minutiae, somehow forging the specific sound of engorged veins along a temple constantly on the verge of hemorrhage. Stir in an avalanche of drums, such as those created on "Straight Back" or "Shatter the Beast," the destructive power of which the band can only barely outpace. Put some muted bass in the mix, fighting and flailing as though being suffocated beneath the very weight of the music ("Sick and Tired" and "Outta Here," among others) and cut it all to shreds with a single fully-loaded guitar firing without pause into the abyss all the while. About to Crack finds all the ingredients that make up Vitamin X in a pressure cooker with Steve Albini at - or perhaps having abandoned - the controls, all burners simply left on high and fatal fissure all but guaranteed.

As addictive as 5/12 of its title, About to Crack is a feast of a fix composed and concocted of broken things. Fourteen shards of sound that get under the skin, each one itself tasting distinctly of dysfunctional pieces of the here and now. Vitamin X seem to know it's all hard to swallow and coat it with just enough sugar to leave you smiling as they shove each number down your throat.

More, please?

About to Crack is out September 11, 2012 from Tankcrimes.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Black Sunday: Prosanctus Inferi - Red Streams of Flesh (2011)

For this week's Black Sunday I am double-dipping again, this time for Prosanctus Inferi's Red Streams of Flesh, first reviewed here in February. I've been slightly obsessed with this act ever since being blown away with the sole time I caught them live. A 20-minute 12", Red Streams of Flesh was a must-have for me on vinyl as, since I got the CD, listening to this record has been a "sit and soak it in" experience and, as much as I love the CD, Red Streams of Flesh seems to demand a larger vehicle with which to transport its sound into my listening space. Plus, frankly, I wanted a closer look at the convoluted, intricate artwork.

The sound on Red Streams of Flesh was superb to begin with and I cannot pretend that the vinyl is a vast improvement. This will boil down to personal preference and I find both formats communicating powerfully here. Likewise, inserts on the CD were reproduced fairly faithfully and the vinyl offers little extra aside from scale. You've got to read the etchings to discern the A-side from the B as both labels are adorned only with slightly differing depictions of mortal meat.

Both formats come from the Nuclear War Now label who maintain a great website with massive inventory and, most importantly, ship quickly and carefully with plenty of friendly updates as the order processes and progresses toward your home. The label also offers a "Die Hard Red" edition of the record in, of course, red vinyl along with a patch and decal for three bucks more than the basic black version (itself very fairly priced at $10.00).

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Buffalo - The Midnight Ghost Train - 2012

Again, it's all one song. Except it isn't. The "new to me" (courtesy The Midnight Ghost Train have crafted an album so coherent and consistent as to feel like an extended suite punctuated only by shifts in riff, groove and bursts of Waitsian caterwauling. Buffalo is a honeyed slab of American blues rock that frequently and freely sprawls into stoner territory, staying just this side of metal and, while still heavily bearded, never dips into the easily dismissed pool of hirsute collegiate bullshit. Buffalo is rawk like we forgot it could sound.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Black Sunday: Sleep - Dopesmoker (2012) & Boris - Absolutego+ (2010)

It's all one song! So proclaimed Neil Young on Year of the Horse and, yeah, while he made a neat point in a philosophical sense, the two LPs - across a total of four 12" records - up for this Black Sunday truly are one song. Except for when they're two. Or three.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Dark Roots of Earth - Testament - 2012

Ah, Testament. To me, so steadfast. Seeing as how I've neglected them since Practice What You Preach when I spent an entire year of art class trying to use any excuse possible to draw the album's cover, Dark Roots of Earth feels like picking up right where I left off. I missed 1990 through the present and my Testament collection, grown by twenty-five percent with this week's acquisition of their latest, feels absolutely gapless. Unlike my ignorant dismissal of Overkill until their latest, I always enjoyed the band's early work and kept it close at hand.

Dark Roots of Earth opens with a big, clean sound courtesy of Andy Sneap and kicks off with one of its strongest tracks, the riff-drenched anthem "Rise Up." There is, right off the bat, a timeless quality that is simultaneously very much of a time, specifically the mid-'80s. "Rise Up," with its militant chants and Skolnick soloing, embodies the most earnest of untarnished classic thrash. Chuck Billy's ode to his "Native Blood" provides a counterpunch that leaves the listener absolutely in awe of the man's vocal prowess. He balances the ragged with the melodic, every sentence a scream delivered full-bore but retaining clarity, depth and dimension. Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick trade solos around a mid-track spoken-word passage. I dig the evolution of songcraft and departures from the norm but, dammit, when someone can craft a verse-verse-chorus-verse with solos right where they belong, it feels so right.

The title track meanders toward post-Justice Metallica tones too much for my taste but "True American Hate" quickly rights the ship at breakneck speed and a percussive power that leaves me simply saying "Gene Hoglan, yes!"

"A Day in the Death" has to come out as my absolute favorite (three days in, that is) and the sequence of  the post-chorus riff that kicks in at 2:22 before a very deliberate verse leading to yet another Skolnick solo showcase literally leaves me with goosebumps. The "ballad" of the record, "Cold Embrace," indeed leaves me cold though "Man Kills Mankind" feels like a rebounding, albeit lesser, reprise of "A Day in the Death."

"Throne of Thorns" builds momentum and majesty like nothing before it and unleashes an absolute firestorm of guitars against an uptempo groove before closing the album in grand fashion with "Last Stand for Independence" exploding in every possible direction as if it were indeed a fireworks finale.

And then it's done. Fifty minutes of music that manage to be heavy and catchy, pure and powerful. It's not only instrumentally sound, it's expertly accomplished but never impossible. Testament still manage to craft a record that can inspire a kid to try and learn to play a guitar. This record evokes a range of emotion; angst, excitement, despair, determination and, ultimately, joy. Dark Roots of Earth comes off like one of the classics that used to be and, at least for me, have always been the norm for Testament.