Cassette of the Week

Cassette of the Week: Paris, The Devil Made Me Do It

I don’t listen to a lot of rap. Public Enemy (had Fear of a Black Planet on vinyl when it came out), lately Brother Ali, and… Paris.

Paris. That cool motherfucker from San Francisco.

His first album, released July 1, 1991, was The Devil Made Me Do It.

Paris (Oscar Jackson, Jr.) was a militant Muslim-cum-agnostic economics consultant. He got smart(er) and lives the message he rapped (intelligently and cleverly) about.

If you have to get just one tune: make it “Scarface Groove.” Dig these lyrics.

Cassette of the Week/ Nostalgic Corner of Thrash Nostalgia: Devastation, Idolatry

Not only did I see them open for Death in 1991, but I wore their tour shirt in open, sullen defiance of the “shirts versus skins” rule in Gym II. Fuck you, Coach Hallisack.

Christian-lyriced, breakneck-paced Texas thrash metal. Criminally-underrated.


Get you some.

Vinyl of the Week: Weird Al Yankovic, In 3-D

First record I ever owned, I think; ca. 1984. First concert I ever went to. First piece of media I wore out (can’t do that now. Goddamn digital media.).

Every track great; the originals the best: “Midnight Star” (tabloids), “Theme from Rocky XIII” (27 years later, we’re halfway there, Al!), and especially “Nature Trail to Hell.” Dig the first verse:

Coming this Christmas to a theatre near you
The most horrifying film to hit the screen
There’s a homicidal maniac who finds a cub-scout troop
and he hacks up two or three in every scene

That still cracks me up. What’s more: there’s actual Judas Priest/ Slayer/ whoever backwards masking involving Satan on the track! Dig:

The Satan angle sorta makes sense: it’s been 30 years since Al’s first album, and he apparently has not aged:



Weird Al, clearly then, is Of The Devil.

Could he be any cooler? I submit to you that he cannot.

Cassette of the Week: Trouble

The cassette is 20 years old and still works.

Trouble is the perfect album by the band of the same name. Though it seems he’s out of vogue now, Rick Rubin’s production on this (like his work on The Cult’s Electric, Danzig’s Danzig, and Reign in Blood) is minimalist, dry perfection. It highlights the sheer virtuosity of the riffs and songwriting.

Saw Trouble open for Savatage (and left before Savatage came on) in 1991, and it’s still one of my favorite shows ever. My brother and I right in front, a foot or two from Eric Wagner‘s boots. I saw drummer Barry Stern laugh when he saw how fucking psyched we were to see them live.

In turns brooding, introspective, menacing and melancholy, it’s still mature music first, and metal and/or doom metal second. It works in any genre, really. Trouble maintains power and authority even though they’re barely detuned (in D), and Eric Wagner’s melodic rasp is the perfect foil for the riffs. (more…)

Cassette of the Week/ Nostalgic Corner of Thrash Nostalgia: Epidemic, Decameron

Yep, they realized that thrash was passé (in 1988) and were one of the first segues into death metal: Decameron– replete with blast beats and references to Boccaccio.

Like Sodom and Slayer, and to a lesser extent Kreator and Destruction, Epidemic are the missing link between the speed of thrash metal and the brutality of death. (more…)

Cassette of the Week: Deathrow, Deception Ignored

[“Cassette of the Week” is a column where I review an album that I actually purchased on cassette when it originally came out.]

Today it’s Deathrow’s 1988 Deception Ignored.

They’re German, they’re thrash circa late 80s– they’re awesome, is what I’m saying.

On their third album (on Noise records) Deathrow anticipate nearly every technical death metal band, and do so with lyrics surprisingly candid and psychologically open– as well as literate and poetic in English (despite several amusing mis-pronunciations): for instance the first few lines from The Deathwish: (more…)

Cassette of the Week: Entombed, Left Hand Path

“Cassette of the Week” is a new column where I’m going to review an album that I actually purchased on cassette when it originally came out.

Yeah, I’m “old.” Suck it.

This week’s cassette is, as above indicated, Swedish Death Metal pioneers Entombed’s 1990 debut, Left Hand Path.


This debut album has held up really well.

I remember when it came out all the magazines (remember those?) like RIP and Metal Maniacs were touting this as the Next Big Thing. And they were right: death metal in 1990 was utterly new (and interestingly now seems old hat). Though I prefer Wolverine Blues overall (also possessing the cassette), I’ve been listening to this nearly every day the last few weeks. The buzzsaw “Sunlight Sound” (named for the Swedish studio where Entombed essentially maxed out all the knobs on their distortion pedals, tuned down to Drop C and, frankly, Rocked The Fuck Out) isn’t nearly as muddy as I remembered, and the songs are fast, heavy and (a sorely unused adjective in today’s music) short. To quote Eric in Killing Zoe, “We go in, we get what we want, we come out.”

Left Hand Path totally does that. Repeatedly. And well.

Though the lyrics (when they’re intelligible) are at best juvenile and at worst (speaking as a professional) suggestive of moderate to severe antisocial (or dissocial, if you’re European) personality disorder, Left Hand Path is a burner. 47 minutes of fast, confident fury.

I’ve been dozing off with it, lately. It’s so angry it’s relaxing, like having a friend rant about things you don’t have the energy to be angry about.

Because you’re old.