Sunday, August 25, 2013

Black Sunday: Author & Punisher - Ursus Americanus (2012) & Women & Children (2013)

Tristan Shone's Author & Punisher has been one of the more exciting musical discoveries I have made in the last year, kicking off my collection with their Seventh Rule debut, Ursus Americanus. I enjoy Author & Punisher's sound so much that they are one of the very few acts for which I have purchased releases in multiple formats with some receiving my money three times for compact disc, digital and vinyl variations of their releases.

I believe only the Seventh Rule releases have been realized in the vinyl format and both are spectacular samples of the medium. Ursus Americanus saw its first pressing in a gray and black blend with a rich gold center label. While the vinyl itself is beautiful, the matte cover layout by Scot Seguine incorporating a photo by Robert Kozek is a stellar shot of man and machines at work. A single-sided insert is accompanied by a fantastic 18x24" poster of a drone machine. While black vinyl is also an option, it appears as if this first pressing has sold out with a second pressing now available with 220 copies in "tiger gold" closely matching the center label available.

Women & Children followed fairly quickly, released August 20 of 2013, and again saw a black vinyl release accompanied by 100 of white and black splatter. While I could not discern the plant used for Ursus Americanus, Women & Children is a Pirate's Press product and it shows. The tones used are beautiful, even in black and white, with an almost blue blend present amidst the splatter. The reverse board jacket is a gorgeous stark black and white as well with artwork from Scott McPherson. A heavy inner sleeve incorporates more artwork and eliminates the need for an additional insert. Alas, there's no poster here this time but I was please to see the record's center label carry over the cover's inverted pyramid, much as Ursus Americanus unified each element with the bear paw outline.

Both of Seventh Rule's Author & Punisher releases in the vinyl format look and sound amazing. The attention to detail is matched only by the quality of the sound. Each do a magnificent job of marrying those analog and digital elements of the project itself and the balance struck here, much like the music within, is nothing short of thrilling.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The $45.99 Record

This YouTube post by VinylJunkies666 has hit our label's Facebook and Twitter but is worth reposting here. Here are the facts for Gogmagogical Records and, very likely, many other small labels. At limited quantities of 300-500, a 12" record with printed jackets costs very close to $10 a record to produce. At 12,000, such as the Relapse release in question, even with a full-color deluxe gatefold and custom colors, they're likely looking at $4-5 for a single disc, not quite twice for a double-LP. Even if it cost twice as much it would be insanely marked-up. Anyone who has looked into pressing vinyl knows the price breaks that come with high quantities and a power player like Relapse has it all over small indies and zero excuse for this kind of gouging.

We make $1-2/record, tops. Two of our three releases thus far are actually priced at a net loss. Every penny goes back into the next record. If I want to release more, I need to sell more. Not one cent goes into my pocket. Of course, the dream would be that someday a label could serve as an income and become a full-time job. Know what I would have to do to make that happen? Pressing 12,000 records and selling them at $45.99 apiece would be a start. In lieu of that, I'm satisfied to work 9-5 for someone else to support my family, press and sell 300 records at $10 each in my off hours and finance the next record in full. The fans can buy more music, the bands can sell more music and I can make more records. Happiness achieved all around.

Please continue to support the small guys and, above all, remember vinyl is first and foremost about the music. We all love fondling records but if we feed the beast $45 to do so, none of us will be able to afford our habits for very long.

Please take a moment and share the above video. It's the most concise, simple and passionate statement I've seen on the subject in a while that obviously comes from a music lover. Thanks!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Danzig 25th Anniversary - August 14, 2013 - Newport Music Hall, Columbus, Ohio

Wednesday evening found me at the Newport Music Hall for the third time in my life and every time I have been at the Newport it has been to see Danzig. First, in 1992 in support of Danzig III and again in April of 1995 on the 4p tour whose December '94 leg also found me watching Danzig at Hara Arena in Dayton. With nearly 20 years eclipsed since my last Danzig live show, the 25th Anniversary performance was a long, long time coming.

Happily, the Newport is a superb venue. A sizable theatre, it has a large stage, generous floor and multiple tiered levels in the rear and along the sides of the venue as well as a huge balcony, allowing for those who do not wish to mosh to still catch a great view of the show. Acoustics are good and volume has always been ample. Others have noted and I second that the lighting effects at the Newport are much better than most venues that host metal acts - as a result the show feels big.

And big it was. This was Danzig. And Doyle. A Silver Anniversary and a Misfits set. Expectations were high and I would be lying if I didn't admit I was a little worried that the man and the band may disappoint. I had to wait through a few openers, though, to find out.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Black Sunday: Malignancy - Intrauterine Cannibalism (1999)

A fan of Dismemberment almost since this blog's inception, I have been fortunate enough to get to know guitarist Jacob Shively along this journey from blog to label and have been intensely excited to see his own label, Goatlord Records, launch. Devoted to limited, special editions of classic metal records that have never before been released on vinyl, Goatlord's first release was Intrauterine Cannibalism, the infamous full-length debut of brutal death merchants Malignancy.

Stepping back from my admiration for Jacob and his work I can still honestly say that this vinyl debut from Goatlord Records is easily one of the richest offerings I have seen for a reissue of an underground record. Offered in three colors, this 12" platter was immediately marketed properly with the tones (each limited to 100) described as "Endometrial Slime" (green), "Intrauterine Red" (and red and black splatter) and "Womb with a View" (clear). With a limited number of very fairly priced three-packs available for pre-order I wasted no time securing my copies.

Opening the records, I was floored by the details.The colors of Juha Vuorma's cover illustration are staggeringly vibrant and also recreated on a 4x4" decal and 11x17 poster included inside each record. The posters themselves contain release information and album credits formatted like a movie poster and are hand-signed in gold ink by vocalist Danny Nelson and guitarist Ron Kachnic. One is currently being framed to hang in Gogmagogical Records HQ - they're that nice.

Also worthy of a frame is the vinyl itself. Pressed at Ohio's own Musicol, the discs are heavy and smooth and the colors vibrant. The "Endometrial Slime" is no simple "coke bottle" clear but carries tissue-like solid green flecks and streaks throughout. On the other hand, while true transparent clear vinyl itself may not be as exciting, it certainly is disappointing when it isn't clean. This isn't the case with the "Womb with a View" as it has zero residual traces of any past colors left on the press - it's like a crystal windowpane. Perfect. Finally, the "Intrauterine Red" is a magnificent black splatter pattern on an opaque red base and imparts the violence communicated by the record's title and lyrical themes. It's also worth adding that, when you finally get to playing Intrauterine Cannibalism, it sounds great, too (especially for an album whose own liner notes - from Danny Nelson - inform the listener that it has never been mastered).

The little details are what make Intrauterine Cannibalism on vinyl a grand slam. The two-sided insert is riddled with photos and poster reproductions. It also includes the aforementioned liner notes, providing a history of the album from its original release, and, alongside the lyrics, what appears to be Danny's original sketch for the record's jacket concept.

Finally, the vinyl fanatic is rewarded by the record's center labels. Screamingly funny warnings grace the perimeter of each and this package is topped off as a complete and utter success.

Click as fast as you can to Goatlord Records' online store. They're already hard at work on their next project and I have a feeling that, once Intrauterine Cannibalism has been devoured, those who missed out will suffer their own post fetal depression.