Thrash

Tidbits: the various, the sundries, the miscellaneous, the whatevers.

dev_randomEvery decade or so, at least for me, I hit a “dry spell” as a music listener and/or reviewer. No one album sounds that great, rocks my world, whatever– hence the four-month absence of Sawtoothwave from the “new article” section of Awesome Websites Monthly.

I finally figured that, since there were no full albums worth reviewing, on this, my birthday in the early/mid/late 40s, I should hip you to what I have actually been listening to whilst I get up, or work out, or wash dishes, or fall asleep, or whatever. Sound good?

And maybe, just maybe, these tracks are extra good because they pierced my shell of indifference, my equivocal soul, my hemming-and-hawing eardrums….

So, in no order:

Carcass’ “Thrasher’s Abbatoir,” and “316L Grade Surgical Steel,” from Surgical Steel: blistering thrash-cum-archetypal death metal, ferocious as fuck, played by experts.

Hail of Bullets’ “Pour La Mérite,” and “Dak” from III The Rommel Chronicles: a lumbering granite Godzilla, destroying the earth and teaching you about World War II German commanders all the while.

Finnish thrash-ish band Stone’s “Get Stoned,” from Stone: catchy power metal/ thrash that went on to influence bands like Children of Bodom. Great stuff.

Skeletonwitch’s “Burned From Bone,” from Serpents Unleashed: typical Skeletonwitch, in that it’s thrash/black/power metal’s heavy yet disco-ish fury in less than three minutes.

Pelican’s “The Tundra,” from Forever Becoming: if the whole album were like this, it would be as awesome as their greatest album….

Sting’s (I love Sting and every ounce of his pretentiousness, you shut your damn face) “What have we got?” from The Last Ship: add some distorted guitars to this and it would be Týr’s greatest song EVAR….

Speaking of which, Týr’s “Hold the heathen hammer high,” and “Trondur I gotu,” from By the Light of the Northern Star: pagan metal that is an inspiring as a pre-battle pep-talk from a renegade Norse warlord. Fair warning: play either one and you’ll hum it for weeks; it will be more of an earworm that anything Kahn could have devised.

Shining’s “Healter Skelter,” from Blackjazz, and “I Won’t Forget,” from One One One: tenor sax as jazz that really loves metal, much like….

Peter Brötzmann Octet’s “Responsible/ for Jan Van de Ven” from The Complete Machine Gun Sessions: jazz, as metal as it gets.

Fontanelle’s “Traumaturge,” from Vitamin F: if Miles Davis, specifically the Miles Davis from Bitches’ Brew, wanted to make some metal– and rub some funk on it.

Tribulation: anything from The Formulas of Death, but you’ll only need one tune.

Eric Church’s “Smoke a little smoke,” from Caught in the act: Live— this country outlaw ends his tune about wine and weed with the main riff from Sab’s “Sweet Leaf” (love the audience’s collective What the fuck?)– what more do you need to know?

Pharoah Sanders’ “The Creator Has a Master Plan”: a 32-minute opus of revolving licks and paeons to marijuana and altered states in general.

Finally, we have Sloath’s newest work (though it was recorded at the same time as their first album, one of my favorites of all time): “The Deep Rift IV.” Just listen.

I’ve been me and this is my time. Thank you very much, I’ve been great.

Ramming Speed, Doomed to Destroy, Destined to Die

Ramming Speed, cover, hi-resWitness that cover, in terms of metal archetypes:

2 snakes,

2 eagles,

1 wolf, 1 skull, 1 diamond, 1 eye-of-Sauron-ish eyeball (at bottom).

This perhaps-symbol/ possible logo of the band perfectly encapsulates (or really bursts apart that capsule) their sound: metal, via any and every sub-genre. There’s definitely thrash, definitely hardcore, some grindcore that may or may not be death/grind, a bit of NWOBHM, wafts of power metal, even a sense of humor not unlike Scatterbrain (e.g., I’m sure they know the Army of Darkness/ Ben Hur reference that is their name)– and it works together like a good chili: tons of ingredients, but one overall taste.

Remarkable that these Bostonians have managed to have an easily-ID-able sound so soon in their career. Well done, men. Well done.

Needn’t bother with song titles, here’s the album, sonically-speaking:

Open with Dio-ish, end of the world chord which bleed into perfect thrash with raspy appropriate vocals… man that drummer is fucking good… vocal powerful like Chuck Billy… oh, now there’s blastbeats… now we’ve Scatterbrain as thrash band, gang vocals on the title track… these guys don’t give a fuck with this solo… “Anticipating Failure,” starts with the perfect, furious thrash, via MOD or Gothic Slam….

Primarily? Thrash. More specific? Thrash with blackened, deathly, hardcore-ishly-doomed power metal.  Overall? Just heavy metal, man. Or:

A heavier, meaner-yet-more-humorous Revocation?

Shit, I don’t know. Just listen and/or buy it already, eh?

Stream it at Terrorizer.com
Buy it at Amazon.com

Are Your Victims Beyond All Help? They’re probably… [duhduhDUH!:] Beseiged.

Beseiged, Victims Beyond All Help, cover (hi-res)

Like Community‘s Pierce and his semi-mantra, “It just came up organically,” (about banging Eartha Kitt in an airline bathroom, generally), most great forms of metal music, if not music outright, emerged as reactions to other music scenes: NWOBHM reacted to rock– speed metal, like Motorhead, found NWOBHM too staid– speed metal fucked hardcore acts like Gang Green and/or D.R.I., and begat thrash metal– thrash metal popped out death metal–

et frackin’ cetera….

Most recent “re-thrash” outfits (I’m looking at you, recent technically-accomplished yet overall-lacking re-thrash outfit whose name starts with “H”) tend to seem like inspired covers of… Men From Long Ago. Problem is, those men– they weren’t playing in standard with lots of palm muting at high velocities that started and stopped on a dime and generally had political lyrics because That Was Where Life Had Put Their Music, but because They Loved Rocking Out… and at that time, Rocking Out meant playing thrash metal.

Do you see the difference?

Victims Beyond All Help seems like it arose (Sepultura cough! See Below!) organically, without commercial intention: the fine fellows in Beseiged seem angry and like they’d never heard metal at all before playing– and somehow, perfectly randomly, they made protest music that sounds like something you and I have called “thrash metal” for over two decades.

Their ad copy cites Beneath the Remains and Darkness Descends (which, to this day, I still think of as being sounds heard from a green cassette, via Kevin in my Freshman Biology class)– and is overall quite the accurate talking point….

Victims Beyond All Help is to be released July 9, 2013 (with an Ed Repka cover no less –and this a particularly-cool one, like Sepultura’s Arise, though otherwise…? Generic name, logo, and what?!-type album cover… though to be fair, it looks like a tape I would’ve bought solely for said cool cover, this probably on Roadrunner Records circa 1989… not unlike Obituary’s Cause of Death…).

So, anyway, there is in fact a review in here. It begins NOW.

First and foremost: great drummer! (He doubles the count… always! And this at rather high velocities!)… great drum sound overall: tasty, minimalist… sounds like someone using a cardboard box for a snare, but somehow this completely works and ends up sounding something like Neal Peart if he were homeless and just randomly drumming on shit around him versus playing in Rush.

Riffs? Clever; and this, for a thrash band (something not normally required for a good thrash album overall, where it’s more important to have a clever arrangement (see Vio-Lence’s Eternal Nightmare), versus a genre like stoner/doom/sludge, which lives and dies by a specific refrain, or “riffs”)….

Nutshelled– sounds like Beneath the Remains-type tunes, but (somehow) recorded during the Arise sessions; signer sounds a ton like Max Cavalera, ca. 1988….

Oh… opener “Internal Suffering,” has no intro: no fucking acoustic intro, or a Goddamned ambient intro, or a swell-in, or what-fucking ever: at approximately 0.1 second in, the tune takes fucking off: fast as fuck and endorsing of no Bullshit….

FYI: they’re from Winnipeg, Manitoba… I somehow picture them touring with non-nonsense Canadian metalheads like 3 Inches of Blood and Bison BC….

Lair of the Minotaur’s Godslayer EP, nutshelled

LOTMg2_7_jacket_front_MD

Two tracks here: “The Black Heart of the Stygian Darkness,” (which gets really weird at 3:11) and opener “Godslayer.”

Nutshelled:

Bolt Thrower, very drunk, covering all their childhood NWOBHM favorites.

By any means, not in the least unawesome.

[Godslayer is released on 4/20 —heehee— and you can read about it here.]

B-level Late-80s Thrash, Including (Deep Breath): Razor, Xentrix, Hallow’s Eve, Blood Feast, Laäz Rockit, Voivod, Destruction, Panic, & D.R.I.

I got the cassette of Razor’s Violent Restitution in a trade for something around 1989:

The cassette and its J-card smelled like the mildew and incense of Dave’s house, where I got it.  (Originally released late 1988.) Decibel magazine’s Top Thrash of all time ranked it as #31.

Enjoy some lyrics:

“Here I come… now you’re dead… got your woman… in my bed… now I laugh… while you cry… it’s been fun… now you die!”

“Out of the Game” opens with a great thrash riff, and continues the barbaric-if-awesome theme so far established….

Britain’s Xentrix (“Eccentrics”) and their 1990 release For Whose Advantage? comes out of the gate like a B version of …And Justice For All; title track is pretty great; 20 years later, I still remember the whole version of “Questions,” lyrics and all, as well as the the title track….

Atlanta’s Hallow’s Eve and their third (1988) release, Monument, rocked me well-beyond-all-pertinent/modest -boundaries. The first side I still remember note-for-note, including “Speed Freak,” “Sheer Heart Attack” (a Queen cover),”Rotgut,” and “Monument (to nothing).” The riffs and lyrics were B- at best, but they were as great as B- can be (which is surprisingly awesome). I clearly remember how the Enigma/Metal Blade J-card smelled; even typing those song titles makes me nostalgic for high school and jamming with drummers who only knew one (and this mediocre) beat pattern.

“Drink the Blood of Every Corpse,” (nostalgia portal here) was writ large on the backs of a few black t-shirts from my high school days– this, an epigram of the awesomeness of the “east coast version of Slayer,” Blood Feast, and their 1987 thrash-nearly-death album Kill for Pleasure.

It’s terribly-produced, furious, they-are-obviously-doing-this-for-love hyper-early-highly-primitive death/ thrash metal. Please enjoy their ecstatic rage in this Youtube link….

Lääz Rockit were one of the original (though lesser-known) San Francisco bay-area thrash metal bands; their sound was one of the more distinct of the metal bands of any time, heralded by their ultra-ultra-high-gain guitar tone (sounding similar, if more raw, to prime-era Exodus)– to me, Annihilation Principle (which I bought on cassette the same day I bought Fates’ Warning’s No Exit, minutes before being late to my guitar practice) is their pinnacle, containing “Fire in the Hole,” a cover of the Dead Kennedys’ “Holiday in Cambodia,” and “Chasin’ Charlie”– and there’s also a great, undeniably-metal-tastic cover.

We can talk about Quebec’s Voivod all day in terms of their overall metallic-influence, but I’m only dealing with their late-80s output, specifically what I liked:

“Forgotten in Space” and “Ravenous Medicine” from 1987’s Killing Technology (which I got on a green cassette, unlabeled, dubbed from a kid named Kevin in my freshman high school biology class), and “Tribal Convictions” from 1988’s Dimension Hatröss, via one particularly-awesome episode of Headbanger’s Ball (which also debuted Testament’s “Trial by Fire” video).

Destruction, being one of the three “Teutonic Greats” of late-80s thrash metal (beside Sodom and Kreator), released three records definitely worth revisiting: the Mad Butcher ep (1987), complete with awesome title track and Plasmatics coverRelease From Agony (1988) with its awesome cover, as well as its sonic highlights “Release From Agony,” and “Dissatisfied Existence“… finally, there’s 1990’s Cracked Brain— enjoy, in particular, the title track and the strange-yet-fun cover of “My Sharona,” a cover from The Knack, of all people.

Next to last, via Seattle, and produced by te H-team , Gary Holt and Rick Hunolt of Exodus, we’ve the thrash band Panic and their debut Epidemic, particularly their single, “Blackfeather Shake,” and its great-hooks-via-video….

And finally, we finish with the fathers of Crossover (i.e., punk via metal, i.e, thrash metal), D.R.I., and their singles “Suit and Tie Guy” from 1988’s Four of a Kind, and “Beneath the Wheel,” from 1989’s Thrash Zone.

Here then, is the sum total of what I love. Enjoy the video images:

 

First Hallowe’en Post: Rumpelstiltskin Grinder, Ghostmaker

Seriously, what does the fucking band name mean? That’s just weird.

Also, I love bands that fall confusingly perfectly between genres: if I had to try and nail down RG’s genre, it would be Thrashing Deathgrinders, or Deathly Thrashgrinders, or Grinding Deaththrashers….

This is a fun record (if you like grindcore/ death metal/ thrash metal, I mean); there’s a certain irreverent bounce to the whole thing, like many grind acts have, and which somehow reminds me of the late 80s band Scatterbrain– remember them? Like much grindcore, there’s an obvious debt, to the ethos if nothing else, of punk.

Further, there’s blistering riffs/ tempos, sections-generally-virtually-impossible-to-play-as-an-ensemble (à la death metal), and change-on-a-particularly-tiny-dime arrangments (like thrash) to further obscure genre and influences.

You know, sometimes I fucking love the internet age: it has birthed, in records like this, extreme metal that is otherwise virtually unclassifiable… one of the perks of the future….

Anyway, give it a listen and see what you think.

Devil’s Night Post, 2012: Witchery, Witchkrieg

So, I wrote about them previously here and again here….

And they were’t enough. It didn’t detail to the extent that I’d like why the newest incarnation of Witchery– is truly awesome…. I still, 3 years after its release, listen to this bad boy first, over even the most hip, new, Truly Dominating metal.

It’s good. You come, you hear it now.

The greatest deathrash track ever is opener “Witchkrieg…” complete with Kerry King solo and great chorus….

Next is “Wearer of Wolf Skin,” not the best track on here, but still ferocious… still thrashy, Mercyful Fate-y, with death growl vocals from a former black metal vocalist of some renown who’s also got a sense of humor about his lyrical content….

“The God Who Fell From Earth” is next, with its churning central riff and somehow very self-aware vocals that still manage to describe the life of a deity who’s come back to the human world many millennia after he’s been forgotten… this is almost something that a novelist should tackle, and yet vocalist Legion does a great job in the limited stanzas herein….

“The Reaver” is a deaththrash version of every truly great horror movie of the last 30 years (not sure if Legion knows the Whedon legacy of the word)…. “From Dead to Worse,” is a great king diamond/ MF-ish ode to metal ruffs and why they are awesome… “Devil Rides Out” is the thumping singular bass and drums riff of the year… “One Foot in the Grave” is both a great rhythmic Heavy Metal tune with thrash aspirations but still sounding something like a Swedish, possessed Armored Saint might write… “Hellhound” struts and thumps, a slower, groovier track of these, and closer “Witchhunter” sounds like Motörhead if they were more into the occult. And were Scandinavian.

Also, the production/ mix is great: loud and sharply clear without being obnoxiously clipped or omitting crucial sound dynamics, and lastly the drums are nearly always in the pocket, but not Pro Tools-tracked, annoyingly-acurately so.

Well done, gents. I still can’t say enough about Witchkrieg.

9/10

 

[I’d give it a 10, but I try not to do that to anything less than a decade old. True 10s endure, you know?]