Monday, January 30, 2012

funeral bitch

Master are a largely unrecognised first wave American death metal band from Chicago. I first posted about these guys (in a different incarnation) at the end of November with my rant about the Deathstrike "Fuckin Death" LP reissue on Dark Decent Records. Late last year Doomentia Records from the Czech Republic decided to reissue their debut s/t LP in a press of 500 copies in total. Mine's on clear wax, and from what I can tell this was the only variation of the press.

As always with Doomentia, presented here is an absolute A class package. To start- a brilliant, thick gatefold sleeve, foil stamped with the original artwork of the bands stark red logo on a black background.

Inside the shiny gloss sleeve is this matt page glued directly to the card sleeve. Containing various liner notes and lyrics, it's something I haven't seen before, and had it not been done properly I think it could have turned out pretty messy. No such luck here though. Very good job.

Not to be confused with the bands earlier, 1985 'unreleased' s/t LP (that saw an official release on From Beyond Productions in 2003), this album was originally unleashed by Nuclear Blast Records back in 1990. These guys have always been somewhat overlooked by the wider death metal scene in favour of bands like Autopsy and Morbid Angel and I think I can speculate as to why. By the time 1990 and this album rolled around, albums like "Altars Of Madness", "Severed Survival" and "Slowly We Rot" had already more or less defined a new world of massively heavy American death metal. The wider scene had now been exposed to Master with this new album, but at that point it was nothing ground breaking. Little did most know that five years earlier their actual first LP helped influence all of those widely known bands via a leaked tape version that saw minimal rounds. One could make the argument that had that first album actually seen a larger scale release in '85, Master would most likely be a household name along with a lot of those Floridan greats. Such is life.

Monday, January 23, 2012

a dead issue

Wormrot post part II. Their new LP, "Dirge". As with my post about "Abuse" last week, I've again snagged the most limited colour in yellow of 200 copies with absolutely no trouble. It is beyond me how a band of this total quality isn't selling out first presses of their records, especially now since Earache Records is pressing their stuff. 28 tracks of relentless grindcore bashed out in the space of about 20 minutes. It doesn't really get better than this in terms of modern grindcore.

As with their last long player, recording qualities here are of pristine mark. Where it differs from "Abuse" slightly is just the general cleanliness of it. Not that it detracts one bit in listenability compared to previous material but it is every so marginally tidier in the mixing and mastering departments than the older stuff. Attribute this I suppose to the introduction of new engineer, a fellow named Ah Boy. Actual song quality here is totally on par with anything else of theirs though- plenty of creative riffs and constructions, and perfect amounts of grind offset by slower bits and thrash riffs. It's astounding to me how a band can continue to pump out great ideas like this without sounding stale and repetitive.

Photo bomber.
Someone bring these guys to Australia already.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

black mass

I posted about Gehenna's "Land Of Sodom" EP a few days ago, and with that same order from A389 Records I also received this platter; the "Practitioners Of Fell Sorcery" MLP from Anaheim's Gravehill. Ox Blood wax as the label describes it, six tracks of death metal heavily influenced by Hellhammer (obviously; the bands name is actually ripped from that of Hellhammer themselves, Gravehill was their first, largely unknown incarnation).

This was originally released as a demo tape of 50 copies back in 2001 by members of various Socal punk and metal circles, most notably Mike of Gehenna. The story more or less goes that the band was formed when Gehenna was in somewhat of a rut. Here he again handles all vocal duties so I suspect fans of Gehenna will be able to enjoy this just for that fact alone, his chords are such a distinctive part of that bands attack, and they boarder so many early Euro metal approaches anyway.

After the original release of this demo the band split for various reasons. It was reissued in the mid 2000's (I think on tape, but I'm not too sure), and then they reformed with one original member in 2007. Vocals handled by another fellow, and chasing a much more thrashy sound with a cleaner recording style, they've released a handful of stuff since including two LP's. I wouldn't argue that the newer stuff is terrible, but it's not as good as this more simplistic demo. Come 2011 A389 were granted the rights to reissue it on vinyl, the format it certainly deserves.

Very good metal. Track down the song "Necrosummoner" for proof. The mid paced chug, pounding guitar, and Mike's distorted/delayed vocals make it such an intense five minutes. Worth the cost of the LP, just for this song alone.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

the abduction diary

I've managed to make a few posts about Dublin's Drainland over the last year or so. Today's fodder comes in the form of their new split LP with fellow Countrymen, Trenches. Black vinyl of what I assume may be the larger edition of the press, but I haven't looked into it enough to really know if alternate colours do exist. Released by Graanrepubliek. Recently acquired via trade with Jamie for an LP from a popular Australian band.

On offer here is a pretty tried method of down tempo and sludgy influenced hardcore from both bands. Three songs from Drainland that easily dominate the rest of their catalogue in many differing qualities; the recording is their best yet, Jamie's vocals are certainly at their peak in terms of low end and 'manliness' and all three tracks are just really well constructed, especially the opener, "Stairs".

Trenches contribution, a single track by the name of "Vaccine" is a longer number, pushing into the + 10 minute arena. Noticeably similar in style to that of the general Drainland feel; slow, sludgy and dark and with more of a modern hardcore feel in the recording style. Obviously this song progresses through a number of tempo changes and directions with it's length, and I haven't heard any other material of theirs, so I have no idea whether this is a typical Trenches track. I like it though.

Overall it's a pretty bare bones layout and presentation. Two colours dominate the presentation as you can see. Nothing more to it. Being the kind of nerd that I am I do find this a little boring, but judging by what I know about the bands, I'm kind of guessing that this is the aesthetic that they were going for.

Drainland have a few more releases lined up for this year as far as I know. A split with Enabler is up for pre order now at Halo Of Flies Records, and a another split with Crows is due soon too.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

i am your tormentor

We all know who Gehenna are at this stage, I'd hope so anyway, they've existed for a solid 18 years at this point, but I wouldn't blame most people who aren't farmiliar with their EP from 2007, "Land Of Sodom". Since my introduction to the band around the same time the EP always seemed rather elusive and unknown in general. For a long time even, MP3's were impossible to find, just like the hard version itself. Having never been an absolute Gehenna fanatic, it's never been an issue that's really bothered me a huge amount, but I was always curious about it. Last year A389 decided to reissue the 7" in a wider press packaged together with the CD version of the bands album "Upon The Gravehill" from 2003, and renamed "Land Of Sodom II". Here's the white edition of the release. Not sure of the numbers.

So upon inspection of the liner notes, it more or less turns out that the first press of this EP has always been a tough find plainly because the guy who released it was a bit of a flake and basically did a shitty job running his label, Hit The Deck Records. So there's the explanation. Cool. To differentiate with this new version, Dom and A389 have made some minor alterations with this version. From what I can tell (though this is somewhat of a guess, as I have no hard copy of the original to reference, just some stuff I've found online), there's been some remastering to the tracks, and the song names have been altered ever so slightly. As has the artwork. Where the cover of the original bared the bands logo and EP title at the top, this new press is presented with the same original cover, but minus the header. I have no idea what the backside of the old press looked like, but here we get the "UTGH" cover.

So as I mentioned, included here is the "UTGH" CD, as from what I can tell, the album never got a CD release, just wax. It's mounted in the gatefold sleeve. One problem, and it's not even a massive one as I don't listen to CD's at all really, but mine is wedged harder in the sleeve than a tick in a rednecks armpit. It literally will not budge. My girlfriend mistakingly, slightly ripped the corner of the sleeve trying to pull it out. Damn it. Because of this, I can't tell you much more about the music on it, but if my internet research is correct, included on the CD, you also get a digital version of the EP running before the original LP itself.

So after such a period of curiosity, how does this EP way up to the rest of the bands material? It's arguably their roughest recording. Mike's vocals sound the raspiest out of their entire catalogue, and the music is mixed fairly messily. Those unfamiliar with the band and their history could forgivably confuse this for a demo recording. Comparable to their LP's and even their earlier 7" "The Birth Of Vengeance", it's hardly a typical Gehenna release in this respect, but the music presented is more or less what you'd expect from the band. Hateful metallic hardcore heavily influenced by both first wave proto, and second wave black metal bands.

Monday, January 16, 2012

operation grindcore

As I mentioned a few weeks ago in my year end post for 2011, Wormrot is a band that I've slept on for way too long. I mean, WAY too long. I'm really surprised that I hadn't bothered to give these guys a proper shot earlier, as this LP of theirs, their first, "Abuse" along with their latest on Earache Records (which I will be posting about in the coming fortnight), are two of the most interesting, well written and well executed grindcore records that I've listened to in the last five years, if not more. This press of red wax was released in 2009 by German label TVG Records, numbers in an edition of 110 copies, and to my surprise remains in it's first pressing and is readily available in places like eBay and the like. Music of this quality should be long sold out, or at least in subsequent editions, but no, this record remains criminally under rated. Further proof that the majority of the international punk scene sits on its own taste.

Perhaps foolishly, I've never paid much attention to bands from South East Asia, and certainly idiotically I will admit that I know nothing about any kind of scene from the region either. From Singapore, the music that Wormrot have produced with Abuse rivals anything coming out of the USA or Europe at the moment. Taking obvious cues from all of the classics, these guys omit a very blatant modern American sound ala Insect Warfare and Magrudergrind with this LP, implementing a modern recording style with extreme metal leanings. Short, simplistic songs built around heaps of very catchy riffs and creative ideas, underpinned with some brilliant grind drumming and churning vocals that switch between grunts, growls and screams and would easily rival in brilliance those of the two previously mentioned bands.

What makes this album cooler is the fact that pretty much every facet of it was handled by the band themselves. On top of the obvious credit of writing and playing all of the material, the bands singer Ari also handled all of the mixing and mastering and the art and layout too. Housed in a regular sleeve, also included with the vinyl are the insert with all relevant notes, and this large poster of his cover art.

I can't rave on enough about this band. Both LP's have been on constant repeat at my house for weeks now. They have a handful of other releases under their collective belts in the form of a few EP's and split recordings, most of which are proving a little more elusive than the two LP's. If you would like to donate the aforementioned material to the the Skull Fucked cause, I would be more than grateful.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

stab nation rising

It occurred to me the other day that I haven't posted about an American band since the end of November. Continuing this little trend, today's post fodder is about the new 7" from London's Stab. Following a demo tape early in 2011, Quality Control Records recently pressed this more limited green press, and as far as I know you can also get it on black.

As I've mentioned in the past these guys do a very good rendition of the early UK fast hardcore bands like Ripcord and Heresy. Everything about this EP ticks those Ripcord boxes; the guitar tone, the vocal style, the drum frenzy and the recording style. It couldn't get better.

Housed in a simple printed disco sleeve that matches the centre labels, it's a little simplistic and to be honest a bit boring. I definitely would have preferred some kind of proper sleeve and insert with better artwork. You can't have it all though, still a great EP.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Very much so the subject of reasonable amount of hype at the moment among the local scene, Shackles have just unleashed their debut 7", "Maunder". Pressed by Arrest Records, this green variation is the more limited run of 100 (or possibly something like 96, I can't remember). A wider press on black also exists. Seminal PV inspired heavy hardcore from Byron Bay, these guys play a very good interpretation of the heavier, moshier style of hardcore popularised by American bands like Mind Eraser and the like, though with less blasts and more of a focus on heavy breaks. This would have to be the best example of an Australian attempt at this music for at least three years, in my opinion anyway.

If there's any gripe I have with this release, it's the recording style. Don't get me wrong, I really like how heavy this thing sounds, I just can't quite ignore the fact that there are definitely parts that sound very 'doctored'. There are certainly more than a few occasions when a blast sounds triggered, or the beginning or end of a song sounds like it's been blatantly chopped off digitally. It's not a massive problem, but it's certainly a detrimental factor. Just come across as a little amateur sounding. I think i'd prefer more of a live sounding recording.

For those playing at home, Shackles are the fellows for whom I released a tape a few months back. Of the four songs on that tape, two of them see another release here, amongst an additional nine tracks from the same recording session.

Included in the glued card sleeve are two inserts, one with this photo of Mark that includes liner notes and thanks list, and a second with the lyrics.

Overall this is a fantastic record and will certainly be a favourite of mine for 2012. The band have just recorded another handful of songs to be included on an unnamed release that they tracked with the same fellow who recorded this stuff. I hope it sounds a little less perfect. One of my favourite Australian bands.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

the chaos dimension

Already this year I've made a couple mentions of this new Irish band. I speak obviously of ZOM and their debut demo tape. This is the first (and now sold out) edition of 100 copies. Invictus Productions is the responsible party and a second edition is apparently due within the next few weeks.
Now while this is a new tape, I wouldn't go as far to say that this is a 'new' band. They've been a unit for at least five months now, and as I've mentioned prior, this is more or less just the fantastic Crowd Control minus a couple members. At least, I think that's what it is anyway.
So this band is a three piece, one count of guitarist, one count of drummer and one count of bassist. From what I can make through the heavily reverbed vocals, and based from a live video I have seen, both the bassist and guitarist handle vocal duties. If I am correct, based off those same assumptions, main vocals are in fact handled by Andy, the old CC vocalist. Through the massive amounts of reverb and delay, I'm almost positive that that's him screaming.
Have I actually mentioned what the style of music going on here is yet? Based on the majority of the content of that last CC record, to these ears the most natural progression for these guys would have to be some kind of early 90's death metal revivalism, and that's what going on here. Heavy comparisons to a lot of those semi technical American bands ala Massacre and similar. The band also go as far as to list Canada's Blasphemy as influence, and I'd quickly make that comparison also. Heaps of tremolo picking and the like. For the record, they also lift a prominent Autopsy riff here too, though I'm not sure how intentional it was. As for CC devotees, I doubt you'll be disappointed. While I'm sure the band wish not to rest on the notoriety gained with that band, there is more than a few riffs and ideas that would have easily been at home on that last LP.
Pretty relieved that this demo turned out as good as it has. I did have my slight doubts, but this one manages to tick just about every box that I had set for this release. Really excited to hear what they do next.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

age of affliction

Along with yesterday's Violent Reaction demo, Nate threw in for free this copy of the Unholy Majesty demo from last year. Not overly familiar with this band, but I know they're loosely associated with Rot In Hell and the seminal Holy Terror scene. What we've got here is a pretty faithful 90's Cleveland metallic hardcore interprettion. It's got all the ear marks of the genre that you'd expect. Metal riffs and melodic leads, solos, crunch and mosh bits. As far as I know they have something to do with A389 records too (the label is either pressing or has pressed a new 7" for them, or something along those lines).

Monday, January 9, 2012

disputed attitude

Here's one from 2011 that I've just received this week, the debut demo from Violent Reaction out of Liverpool. I think this was limited to an English press on the Hemlock 13 label of 100 copies, and a subsequent edition on some Yankee label of an unknown (to me anyway) number. One of the better demos of last year certainly. Gruff, antisocial hardcore.
So as I mentioned, Hemlock 13 released this one. For reference that's the label run by Nate, the old singer of Rot In Hell. Said label did a handful of rather limited RIH releases during his tenure with the band. Stuff I'd like to get my hands on, but not pay an arm and a leg for.
All the music here was written and recorded by one fellow by the name of Tom Pimlott. I'm not sure if there is a live incarnation of this band, but I'd be willing to bet that there is. This would be mayhem in a small room.
New 7" due out within the next few weeks on Quality Control Records, the label that's just pressed the Stab and the Death Evocation 7"s. Label is certainly developing a quality reputation fast. Sorry.