Friday, September 27, 2013
Vinyl Album of the Day is REMEMBERING NEVER - "God Save Us". In February 2006, Florida's Hardcore/Metal bruisers, REMEMBERING NEVER unleashed their 3rd full length album "God Save Us" on CD via Ferret Records. The album saw the band refining direction the took with their previous album, 2004's "Women and Children Die First". That album was where RN really went for a heavier more violent sound, as well as forgoing much of the aesthetics of their 2002 debut full length "She Looks So Good In Red", in favor of more socially conscious and confrontational subject matter and lyrics. Featuring strong, intelligent, well written lyrics packed with meaning and a message, RN began to set themselves apart from much of the Hardcore Scene's trends of the time that seemed to be stuck on songs of heartache, teen angst whining, and an infatuation with fashion and appearance. With "Women and Children Die First" and "God Save Us", REMEMBERING NEVER set out to give meaning and a message back to Hardcore, a genre that once was filled with both. On these albums RN touched on Gay Rights, Animal Rights, Straight Edge, Politics, Women's Rights, opposition to Religion, and even the Hardcore scene its self. "God Save Us" would see the band streamline things to a degree as its a bit less technical and chaotic, while certainly no less heavy, and it features bigger, more memorable Choruses that border on being hook like while still being utterly savage.
As mentioned "God Save Us" was initially released only on CD via Ferret Records, then later in '06, Remembering Never's vocalist "Mean" Pete Kowalksy would release the Vinyl version of "God Save Us" as the first release on his new label Dead Truth Recordings. There were 1000 copies pressed total and of that 1000 there were 100 Green, 100 Red, 100 White, 300 Purple, and 400 Trash (which is a mixture of all of the other colors). The Vinyl version of "God Save Us" would feature a number of differences from the original CD version of the album. It has completely different artwork, the songs are in a completely different order, and there is an exclusive song, "Celebrity Holocaust", which is only available on the Vinyl version of "God Save Us". However, due to time constraints 2 of the songs that appeared on the original CD version of the album were left off of the Vinyl version, these are "Little Hitlers" and "T.H.U.G.LI.F.E.". Both are great songs, but with the completely different order of the tracks on the LP, their absence is not as obvious as it would be if the songs were in the same order as the CD and they were left off.
Side A opens with "Runner Up in a Shit Eating Contest", kicks things off in violent fashion. The track begins quick and from there kind of alternates between faster techy/grindy parts and total moshtastic breakdown sections which works as the chorus basically. The track closes out with a more melodic section that is alot different from the rest of the track, but works and shows that Pete can still bust out the clean vocals. "The Goddamn Busy Signal" is up next and keeps things barreling along, with quick paced savagery during the verses and a heavy, chugging chorus with some spectacular lyrics that promote Gay Rights and call out our "leaders" for trying to legislate a person's love life. Now we get to "Please Dont Let My Mother Read This", which is short blast of metallic hardcore with grind overtones, some quick double bass work, and furious riffing, all capped off with Pete's vitriolic hate. Following this is "Celebrity Holocaust" the Vinyl Only bonus track. Its a killer track that is heavy as fuck throughout although there is a semi melodic section in the middle. The lyrics are directed at the bullshit we call "Reality TV". "Suicide Hotline on Speed Dial" is a call for change, and features some interesting guitar work while still maintaining RN's overt heaviness. Side A closes things out with "White Devil", which is one of my favorite RN tracks of all time. Its absolutely perfect. Its ungodly heavy, and drops bombs on poverty, religion, government and more with some of Mean Pete's most awesome and direct lyrics. For example: "My prayers were never answered. Nothing filled my empty hands. That's when I realized god either hated me or was a fucking lie. All the work and prayers burn. A waste of sweat and breath. God turns his deaf ear to me like I'm the one that doesn't exist." and "Everything I have I've stolen.Why should I compromise my freedom. Faith built on lies; you've turnedon me. Fuck god. Fuck government".
Side B kicks things off with "Selma" which is fast and brutal. The song is inspired by Pete's mother and the time and effort she put forth to raise him and his siblings., but in the bigger picture its also for all the single mothers, fatherless children, and women in general. "Slaughterhouse Blues" is a monster track that has one of the biggest hooks on the record with "Murder is a family value in almost every home, Murder is family value three times a day". Its a powerful and crushingly heavy song that drives home the reality of the torture and death that countless animals face everyday so that humans can eat meat. This is another of my favorite tracks on this album. "Con Artist" is next, and is actually the opening song on the CD version. Its a killer, driving track that puts the hammer down on religion, and is chock full of killer riffing. "Pocket Full of Dirt" is up next and is a kind of ode to living on the rode, playing this kind of music, and the amazing family and friends that take care of one another within this scene. Its fast and maybe the most "Punk Rock" or traditional Hardcore song on the album, even thought it still has other elements. Its also the shortest song on the entire album at 1:20. The intense and violent political jam, "Judas Will Swing" follows and is another favorite of mine. Its punishing, fast, and has some awesome lyrics such as :"Tied to the chair. Piss running down your legs. Two black eyes and a bucket of gasoline. Shoving a pistol in the face of the enemy to show him fear he's never known. This is justice for every soul that's been condemned, the beginning and the end, at 1600." When the album was written and released our sitting president was the king of shitheads, George W. Bush, in case you needed some context. Next up is "Gangsta Rap & Peppermint Schnapps" which is one of the heaviest songs on the record, which is really saying something. In the liner notes, this song is described as a sort of follow up to "Suicide Hotline on Speed Dial" and is also described as a sort of "end of the world scenario" kind of tune. Finally, the record closes with "Off Key & Outta Line", which also closes the regular CD version. It is the only part of the tracklist that is the same on both the CD and LP. Musically, its again heavy as shit, combining elements of Extreme Metal, Hardcore, and more. Pete busts out some clean vocals at the start of the track but soon returns to his usual harsh vocals, although he brings the clean vox back toward the end of the track.
Since this album and the touring that followed things have been fairly quiet in the RN camp until fairly recently. The next album has long been talked about, with a title of "This Hell Is Home" but there wasn't much concrete info until recent times. The album is finished as there are actually a couple new songs online as of this writing so it will be awesome to hear Remembering Never again and to see what they've come up with in the last 7 years. They have been one of my favorite "Hardcore" bands since the release of "Women and Children Die First" and as much as I love that record, they were somehow able to match it with this one, "God Save Us", and so even though its been a long time coming, I have no doubt that "This Hell Is Home" will remind everyone why RN is needed and why they're go down as one of the best Hardcore bands of their time.
Hear some jams, including brand new ones:
Purchase the LP here:
Official Page here:
7" of the Day is WILLIAM ELLIOTT WHITMORE & P.O.S. - "Split". This 7" split was released by Init Records on April 16th, 2011 for Record Store Day. There were 2000 copies total pressed. 1500 are standard Black vinyl and the other 500 are colored versions which include Yellow, Tan, and Grey. This split features a unique pairing of two different artists from very different genres of music. One side features the Folk/Blues/Americana/Roots music of Iowa's WILLIAM ELLIOTT WHITMORE, while the other side features Minnesota's underground Hip Hop emcee P.O.S.. Both men contribute new songs to this record which are exclusive to this release.
On Side A, WILLIAM ELLIOTT WHITMORE delivers a powerful rendition of the Traditional American Folk song "Country Blues", which was written or most closely associated with Dock Boggs. Its a classic song that's been recorded by many great musicians over the the years,(Doc Watson also recorded an awesome version), and a song that Whitmore has been playing live, off and on, for some time now. Something interesting about Whitmore's version here is that, "Country Blues" has always been considered a Banjo song, and while Whitmore is a Banjo player himself, on this recording he chooses to forgo instrumentation almost entirely. He sings the song in that weathered, emotive voice and is backed only by the steady thump of his kick drum. It gives the song a different kind of vibe and again demonstrates that no matter what he does, William Elliott Whitmore is one of the best and most important artists alive today. The track was recorded at Flat Black Studios in Iowa and Engineered by Whitmore's cousin Luke Tweedy.
Side B is a new track, "Crack a Window" from Minnesota based underground Hip Hop emcee, P.O.S., and features production from Big Cats!. P.O.S. is a founding member of the Hip Hop collective Doomtree and is also associated with Rhymesayers, as well as being involved in a couple bands such as Building Better Bombs and Marijuana Deathsquad, but he goes it alone here. He has good flow and delivers solid lyrics. This is obviously not the same as Popular rap music, as P.O.S. is definitely an undergroup Hip Hop artist and that is clear from the Big Cats! production to his lyrics and his cadence. This isn't party rap bullshit, its got more heart and brains than that.
So in a nutshell, this split is a cool little record that gives us some exclusive material from one of underground Hip Hop's brightest lights, P.O.S., and one of my personal favorite artists, WILLIAM ELLIOTT WHITMORE. Granted some fans of Whitmore, may not be interested in the Hip Hop track and likewise, some Hip Hop heads may not be too keen on the Folky, Singer/Songwriter, Roots music of WEW, but I think there are many open minded music fans who can appreciate both sides of this record. Regardless, its a killer 7" with 2 great artists, with 2 songs exclusive to this release....just shut up and buy it.
Carl the Beagle says "This is the JAMS!!"
Listen to it here:
Buy it here:
William Elliott Whitmore's page:
INIT Records page:
Friday, September 20, 2013
"Antichrist" is a 2009 Danish film Written and Directed by Lars Von Trier. It is equal parts Art Film and Horror Film, combining powerful, surreal images with bits of graphic violence. The film centers on a husband (Willem Dafoe) and wife (Charlotte Gainsburg), who experience the death of their child. The husband who is a psychiatrist attempts to treat his wife's all consuming grief on his own, eventually going to a cabin in the forest the have previously vacationed at, known as Eden. Once there the wife's increasingly erratic behavior and violent, sexual outbursts worsen as the husband begins having strange visions. The film is not one for the weak as their are graphic depictions of violence and sex, which include full frontal nudity, and even, briefly, penetration. The is much overlap between sex and violence in the film that at its most brutal delves into genital mutilation. There are multiple layers of interpretation to the film, as with most of Lars Von Trier's work. I thoroughly enjoy the film and find it to be quite powerful, the cinematography is darkly beautiful, the acting tremendous, and the atmosphere of the film is strong and menacing. I would definitely recommend it to the Horror fan who appreciates more artistic cinema and can stomach very strong images. Now, the more casual Horror fan or someone looking for pure blood and guts will probably be turned off by the more Artistic nature of the film and honestly may find the film "boring" or "pretentious". If you enjoy this, I would recommend some other transgressive films films that blur the lines between Horror, Drama, and Art House such as "Salo", "Irreversible", and "El Topo".
NOTE: These Film of the Night pieces will intentionally be somewhat vague as I don't want to spoil the film for anyone who may not have seen it. The intention of these is to promote films I love and I most definitely do not want to ruin the movie before someone even sees it.
Saturday, September 14, 2013
Vinyl Album of the Day is MIDNIGHT - "Satanic Royalty". Released November 8th, 2011 on CD, LP, and Cassette by Hells Headbangers Records, "Satanic Royalty" is the first and, so far, only full length album from Cleveland, Ohio's MIDNIGHT. Despite "Satanic Royalty" being their debut full length, MIDNIGHT have been around for a bit and have quite a few releases under their bullet belts. The group formed in 2003 and that same year released their first Demo, from there on they have put out a number of EPs, Splits, Live recordings, and Compilations, but never a full length until 8 years later, in the form of this beastly record. MIDNIGHT play sleazy metal that combines elements of NWOBHM, Speed Metal, early Black Metal, Hard Rock, a bit of Punk, Thrash, and a bit of early Hardcore, but if you want to go with an easy reference MIDNIGHT basically sounds like the bastard child of VENOM and MOTORHEAD. It's metal as fuck, sleazy as hell, drenched in Booze, Sluts, Leather, Spikes, and Satan, but most all its a fun, balls out metal.
As for Vinyl version, the first pressing included 777 copies on Blue vinyl (like mine), 400 Black, 222 Picture Discs, 100 on Red vinyl, which were only available at Record Boy in Tokyo, Japan, and 5 Test Pressings. The album was recorded, mixed and mastered at Bad Back Studios in Cleveland, Ohio by Dave Johnson. The cover art was done by William Lacey, Goat artwork on the inner sleeve was done by Josh McAlear.
For the album, everything was written and performed by Athenar aka Jameson Walters aka Jamie Boulder, who has played in a number of other bands, the most notable being DESTRUCTOR, although he has also filled in as a touring bassist for TOXIC HOLOCAUST and played drums on the first Demo from THE GATES OF SLUMBER.
The vinyl release of "Satanic Royalty" also includes an 18" x 24" poster, with the artwork done by Gary Davis. Another item of note is that the LP includes an exclusive bonus track, "TAP", that is not on the CD or Tape versions of "Satanic Royalty". The CD includes a bonus DVD and the Cassette comes with a sticker.
Side A begins with the title track, "Satanic Royalty" which is a mid paced jam that is chock full of awesome. Its got ball rockin' riffs, the swagger of cock rock, some tasty leads and a chorus hook that is just fucking killer. You just cant get that shit out of your head. It's followed by a faster number, "You Can't Stop Steel" which has more of Speed Metal and NWOBHM vibe, complete with a ripping solo. "Rip This Hell" comes next and is another killer jam with a monster chorus and total booze soaked, Biker from Hell vibe. "Necromania" follows and is the longest song on the album. Its got some mean, ass kicking mid paced riff action that just doesn't let up. It's the longest and maybe the "heaviest" song on the album, and is totally destined to cause "Metal Face" in many a listener. Side A is closed out with "Black Damnation", which is maybe the slowest song on here, with its Occult Doom vibes. Its a very powerful, and "epic" song that kind of alternates between melodic classic metal guitar work and the kind of proto-Doom type riffs.
"Lust Filth and Sleeze" kicks off Side B in a big way. Its total classic Speed Metal ass kicking with lyrics that fit the part. Its got lines like "Tonight oh Ive been waitin' that's right just wait and see, The sound of seed as it seeps from your slit, The only gash I'll ever need, You give me lust, filth and sleeze...". Next is another total Thrashy, Speed Metal rampage in the form of "Violence on Violence". Its fast, relentless and again catchy as herpes. From there we go into a more midpaced jam with "Savage Dominance". Its got big power chords and a simple steady rhythm. The intensity gets ratcheted back up thought quickly with "Holocaustic Deafening" with its Punk fueled fury and awesome, thick opening bass action. Its the shortest song on the record at just over a minute and a half but what it lacks in length, it makes up for in violence. The final regular album track is next with "Shock til Blood" and is very MOTORHEAD-ish, not that there isn't some Lemmy in all these songs, but this closer for whatever reason just has classic MOTORHEAD written all over it, and goddamn it, it is all the more awesome for it. Side B ends with the "vinyl only" bonus track "TAP", which stands for "Tits, Ass, Pussy". Its probably the most sexually graphic song on here for sure, and arguably misogynistic, but this is MIDNIGHT, what the fuck do you expect. The whole jam is about have sex with a less than pure female. Its got a definite early Hardcore/Punk vibe to it, much more so than anything else on this album.
"Satanic Royalty" came out a couple years ago now and gained MIDNIGHT a bit more attention among Metal fans. As mentioned it was the group's first full length, despite them being a band since 2003. Since then they still haven't dropped another full length but they have put out 4 more releases. Two in 2012, which included a Cassette tape, "Satanic Royalty Demos" and "Complete and Total Hell" which is a compilation that features pretty much their entire catalog prior to "Satanic Royalty". Basically, It compiles all the EPs and Splits from their career up to that point. This year, 2013, they have dropped 2 more releases, a live album and another EP. I haven't got the newest couple things yet, but I'm sure I will soon. MIDNIGHT is a great band, and a fun listen. Yes, you can accuse them of VENOM and MOTORHEAD worship, but they dont give a shit. MIDNIGHT only care about getting fucked up, fucking sluts, being evil, and kicking out some awesome, balls out, rawkin' METAL!
Listen to the album here and find other Midnight related merch and links:
Buy It Here:
Saturday, September 7, 2013
7" of the Day is The Dad Horse Experience XL - "In My Time Of Dying / Folsom Prison Blues". This 7" 45 RPM record was released June 24, 2013 via Muddy Roots Records, Off Label Records, and Sacred Flu Productions as part of Muddy Roots Vinyl Club Series No. 3. The actual recording took place in 2012 at Tunnelwood Studio in Bergamo, Italy by Marco Ghezzi & Gianluca Perucchini. This is the XL version of THE DAD HORSE EXPERIENCE and so instead of Dad Horse doing his one man band thing here, he is given a bit of help from Anto Marconi. The duties are divided as such: Dad Horse Ottn handled the Banjo, Bass Pedal and Vocals, while Anto Macaroni took on Electric Guitar, Drums, and Vocals.
Side A features Dad Horse and Anto performing a rendition of the Traditional gospel song "In My Time Of Dying". This jam has been recorded by countless performers over the years, with recordings of it dating back to at least the 1920's. The song, whether titled "In My Time Of Dying" or "Jesus Make Up My Dying Bed", has been recorded by everyone from Bluesmen like Blind Willie Johnson, Charlie Patton, Josh White, to Bob Dylan, John Fahey, John Sebastion, Shocking Blue, and perhaps most well known in Pop Culture, Led Zepplin, among many, many others. Regardless of what others have done before with the song, here it sounds like no one in the world, but THE DAD HORSE EXPERIENCE. That thick German accent, singing in English, plunking away on the Banjo while that odd Bass Pedal sounds behind it. Its weird, idiosyncratic, and fucking awesome. Its also cool to hear Dad Horse with the drums backing him up.
Side B gives us THE DAD HORSE EXPERIENCE XL performing Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues". From the strange scream that comes just a few seconds in, you know this isn't going to be a note for note copy of Cash's iconic prison song, no, this is pure Dad Horse territory. Really, aside from the well known lyrics the only really direct link to Cash's song is the memorable electric guitar solo which Anto delivers here a couple times.
All in all this is a killer single from THE DAD HORSE EXPERIENCE, but its probably not gonna change many minds, If you like Dad Horse, then you'll love this, but if you've heard Dad and thought "what in the fuck is going on?" then this isn't going to be an awakening for you. For those who have yet to experience that man, if you like Roots music, but have an open mind and can appreciate something outside the box, then check this out, you may just find your new favorite artist. This 7" is still available from Muddy Roots, I believe. I'm not sure how many were pressed in total, but if you were a subscriber to their vinyl club when it was released then you got a numbered/stamped copy, but if you order it individually later on or pick it up somewhere else, then its not numbered or stamped. I got mine from Dad Horse after seeing the man live in Terre Haute, last month.
All versions also come with a card from a free digital download through bandcamp that also includes a bonus song, "Away (Broken String Version)". The song "Away" originally appeared on THE DAD HORSE EXPERIENCE's 2008 album "Too Close To Heaven". This newly recorded version is similar but has a different more lively vibe, courtesy of Dad's energetic vocal performance, a much more prevalent Bass Pedal sound and the added instrumentation from Anto Macaroni on Electric Guitar and Gianluca Perucchini on drums.
Listen to these jams here:
Buy the 7" here:
For all things Dad Horse, go here:
Friday, September 6, 2013
The Album was recorded in April 2004 by Mike Lust at Phantom Manor Studios, with the Mastering handled by Mike Haglar and Mike Lust. The sculptures of animal bones and flowers that adorn the front and back covers were done by Whitmore's cousin Luke Tweedy, with the photographs done by Bill Adams and Curtis Lehmkuhl. The record is housed in a standard cardboard sleeve, no fancy gatefold. There is also a large square insert that is flat black with white lettering. One side has all the liner note info and the other side simply has a quote from Samuel Beckett that wonderfully states, "When you're up to your neck in shit, the only thing left to do is sing. I think the quote is very indicitive of the circumstances that inspired much of this album and the Trilogy as a whole
The LP version I have is on Red vinyl, it has also been released on Black, Grey, and Clear. I really don't know much else as far as which colors or versions were the first pressing and what ones are later re-pressings, nor do I have any idea on numbers pressed or how limited any of the specific colors are. All I know is that it was first pressed on vinyl in 2005, then again in 2008, since then I'm not sure if there's been another pressing or not, but I do know it is still available from Southern Records on vinyl.
Side A of the album opens with "Midnight", a killer Bluesy folk jam featuring Whitmore's weathered voice, acoustic guitar and the steady thump of him playing a kick drum. Its a bit more upbeat in some ways than much of the previous record was but its still undeniably Whitmore. Next is "The Day The End Finally Came", which was released as a 7" single prior to this album's release. For this jam accompanies himself on banjo and is joined by John Anderson on Chrome Finger Slide Guitar. Its got more of the darkness that was heavily prevalent on the debut, and touches on many of those themes of death, loss, and regret. A kind of slow, melancholy ballad follows in the form of "When Push Comes To Love" that is a lot more sparse and minimalistic featuring the slow steady strum of his acoustic guitar backing him, but as the track progresses there is the slowly rising sound of Mike Lust on E-Bow Electric Guitar that gives the song an ethereal, otherworldly color. Next is "Diggin' My Grave" which is definitely a throwback to the "Hymns..." with Whitmore's ragged, weary vocal, the constant presence of death and William's unencumbered Banjo playing. The song actually predates even "Hymns For The Hopeless" as it first appeared on his 2001 self released album "Calendar Club of Danger and Fun". The lyrics essentially deal with a man's need, for one reason or another, to self destruct. The track also features some steady minimal drum work from Bob Adams, which basically is just a hi-hat and a kick drum. Side A closes things out with the stellar "The Buzzards Won't Cry". Its just Whitmore singing and playing acoustic guitar and is him at his best. Nature and death loom large, as implied by the title, illustrating how we often fear death and place so much emotion in it as contrasted by unsentimental course of nature.
Side B begins with "Sorest of Eyes", a wonderful love song that involves Whitmore professing his love for his "darlin'". Its a classic example of how simple yet powerful Whitmore's music is and how excellent of a songwriter he is, even back at this relatively early stage of his career. The song also features Joel Anderson playing Whitmore's grandfather's Accordion. Next is "Lift My Jug (Song For Hub Cale), which is one of my all time favorite William Elliott Whitmore songs. It is absolutely perfect in its simplicity, with Whitmore's gravely voice, the upbeat Banjo playing and the steady thump of the kick drum. Its the first person tale of a real life man named Hub Cale, who lived in the same area of Lee County Iowa as Whitmore, when William was a kid. The man was a former Railroad engineer turned hobo, who Whitmore first met when he was 6, but who would influence young William. Whitmore has said this of the song and of the real life man, who inspired it, Hub Cale, "I've got this old song called Lift My Jug and it's from the perspective of this hobo Hub, who's dead now, but when I was a kid, he was a local character and a real life hobo. He had this shack, literally down by the river, and sometimes my dad would give him a ride into town. My dad would say, "Don't judge old Hub by his looks, he's a good man and he chooses this free life and that doesn't make him a bad guy." As I got to know Hub, I learned he was a good man and he was probably the freest man I've ever met." "Lift My Jug (Song For Hub Cale) is another old song that originally appeared on "Calendar Club of Danger and Fun", as is the next track, "Gravel Road". This song is basically an ode to rural life, simple pleasures and Country Cruising, which in a live version of this song I heard Whitmore refer to as "Gravel Travel". Its another simple, wonderful song that is a bit less bleak than some of Whitmore's other early work. Finally, Side B and the album itself closes with, "Porchlight" one of the most powerful, poignant, and heart wrenching songs I've ever heard. The song is a tribute to Whitmore's deceased father, with the lyrics written from the point of view of his father has his slowly dies from cancer. It beautiful, amazingly well written and absolutely devastating in its emotional impact. Whitmore paints an eloquent picture of the man as a hard working farmer and devoted husband, and his final, dying request to "leave the porchlight on for me". Its actually the longest song on the album, and at nearly 6 minutes, its at least a minute and a half longer than any other song on the record. It moves with a steady, deliberate pace driven by Whitmore's aching vocals and his banjo plunking. It also features some simple drum work from Jay Dandurand and a bit of bass playing from Zach Action. It caps off the record with not just another great song, but perhaps the best song on the album, in a powerhouse finish.
"Ashes To Dust" is probably my favorite William Elliott Whitmore album. Its got the darkness, beauty, power, and just great, great songwriting. It's been out for 8 years now, and its as good, if not even better than the first time I heard it. It is a perfect record, 10 out of 10. Its an album that I loved in my 20s, that I love now in my 30s and if I live that long, that I'll love in my 70s. Go buy it now.
Listen to WEW's jams here:
Buy this album on Vinyl here:
Check WEW's page here:
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Two more years of playing together coupled with near constant touring led to their magnum opus, 2008's "Fire & Hail". It was everything great about "Ghost Town", taken even further. The musicianship of the individual players is even more skillfull, their songwriting abilities had grown exponentially, and as a group their were even tighter as their chemistry had gelled even further do to all the time on the road. Sadly "Fire & Hail" would be the last album to feature the original line up, as some internal conflict led to Jayke Orvis's exit from the group in June 2009. The group would bring in Billy Cook to fill the void, and this version of the group would record and release the final .357 String Band album, "Lightning From The North", in 2010. The .357 String Band would call it quits the following year, in November 2011. Despite the break up, their legacy lives on in the form of the 3 excellent albums they made, the profound influence on the Roots scene and countless other bands, and also in music created since the break up by the individual members. Jayke Orvis has gone on to record 2 stellar albums, 2010's "Its All Been Said" & 2013's "Bless This Mess" with his "Broken Band". Joesph Huber has released 2 solo records that are also killer, those include 2010's "Bury Me Where I Fall" & 2012's "Tongues of Fire". Derek Dunn has also continued on as a solo artist, and has recorded an EP titled "Poisonous Serpents" but I dont know if its been released yet or not, and I really dont know what Bassist Rick Ness is up to these days.
Another thing that helps to keep the legacy and memory of this amazing band alive is this beautiful vinyl reissue of "Fire and Hail". This LP was self released by the band in the Fall of 2012, with only 500 copies pressed on red and white vinyl. It was remastered and remixed specifically for this vinyl release and it sounds better than ever. There is an astounding clarity and attention to detail, but doesnt sink to antiseptic levels of polish or anything. Andy Gibson's production shines as perhaps never before and it has that wonderful analog warmth that you just cant get with a CD or MP3.
Side A opens with "Little Black Train of Death", a blazing Bluegrass jam that shows the boys in top form from the jump. The song actually begins and ends with old samples of "Death's Little Black Train" by Reverend J. M. Gates. Its a great start to the album and it just gets better from there. Next up is the title track "Fire & Hail", another barn burner that shows just how great of pickers these guys were, and how great of songwriters they had become by this point. "One More Round" follows and is a classic drinking jam, and is a bit more mid paced compared to the speed blasts of the first couple jams. It's a great, fun song that is memorable as hell with a knockout chorus. The Traditional Bluegrass tune, "Cluck ol' Hen" is up next and is maybe the fastest song on here and that is really saying something. It was songs like this that really set .357 apart from many of the other bands that were Punk guys who attempted to play Bluegrass. .357 had the chops musically to play with anyone, including traditional Bluegrass groups. They could play lightning fast and surgically precise and this song is a perfect example. They perfectly bridged the classic Bluegrass and Old Time String Band sounds with Punk and Metal attitude and a street life mentality. The fire and brimstone speed attack finally slows down when we get to "Black River Blues", a beautiful, melancholy song about infidelity and depression. It's great in its own right, but it also works well as a break in the fast songs and adds a bit of contrast. "Down on a Bender" kicks the speed back up and is another killer ode to drinking and hard living. We close out Side A with the album's lone "cover" song, "Glory, Amen" by THOSE POOR BASTARDS. Its somewhat ironic though as many people believed the song to be a .357 original as it appeared on "Fire & Hail" a couple before THOSE POOR BASTARDS would ever get around to releasing it on their 2010 album "Gospel Haunted", but TPB had been playing the song live for years and it was written by the one and only Lonesome Wyatt.
Side B begins with the ripping Bluegrass of "Holy Water" and quick jam that Orvis really shines on with his amazing Mandolin playing. It also happens to be the shortest song on the album at 2:11. "I'm Gone" continues the fast pace and is yet another awesome song led by Joseph Huber and his Banjo picking. Next, "Hold Me Tight" is the first song written by Jayke Orvis on this album. Its a beautiful and tender duet between Jayke and the always amazing Rachel Brooke. This song was my first introduction to Rachel Brooke, who Ive since become a big fan of, and it also foreshadows some of the great things Jayke would show us on his debut solo album, "It's All Been Said". "Darlene" comes next and is a return to faster territory. Its an awesome "woman done me wrong" type song and creates a nice dynamic with its placement between 2 slower songs. The next song, "Long Put Down That Gospel" is probably my all time favorite .357 STRING BAND song. Its a slower song with great fiddle work from Donnie Heron and probably one of the only Anti-Religion Bluegrass songs ever written. The lyrics are awesome and so well written, only to be backed by killer laid back picking and some sharp harmonies. Now, here there is a bit of weirdness.
The tracklisting on both the back of the album sleeve and the record it's self list the next song as "Two White Horses" followed by "Rollin' Down The Track", however, when you actually listen to the album these songs are flip flopped. "Rollin' Down The Track" plays first and is a great Banjo led jam that is entirely instrumental for the first half or so. It is followed by "Two White Horses" a shorter tune and again has solid Banjo presence. Its a great tune about being on the road, running, rambling, etc. Its got a killer underlying darkness to it as well. Finally, the album closes with "Blackship", written by Orvis, a cool little song that features the whole group singing in harmony on the chorus and also as backing for Jayke who sings the verses himself. There is no instrumentation in the song, only the vocals I mentioned, clapping, and what sounds like a metal pipe striking another metal object, in the background. Jayke has continued to perform "Blackship" as part of his live show with his current backing group, The Broken Band, and they also recorded the song for their newest album 2013's "Bless This Mess". The song closes out that album as well. This brings us to the conclusion of the album, and goddamn what an album it is. It remains the best album .357 ever did, as well as being one of the best and most important albums to the Roots/Underground Country/Bluegrass scene as well. As I mentioned before only 500 of these LP's were pressed and so they may be all gone now, I'm honestly not sure. I got mine from Jayke the first time Jayke Orvis & The Broken Band came through Terre Haute. All 500 copies are hand numbered as well, so that's another cool little thing. My copy is #189. So get "Fire & Hail" one way or another. At the very least get the CD but if you can find a copy, by all means, get it on wax.
PS if you did Jayke Orvis and would like to read more specifically about him, here is a piece I wrote a bit ago http://dodobirdzine.blogspot.com/2013/06/awesome-bands-you-should-know-jayke.html
PS if you did Jayke Orvis and would like to read more specifically about him, here is a piece I wrote a bit ago http://dodobirdzine.blogspot.com/2013/06/awesome-bands-you-should-know-jayke.html
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Vinyl Album of the Day is OTESANEK's final release. I guess its technically maybe self titled, but so is their first album, the one with the rams heads on the cover so this one has a sort of unofficial title of Final 12" as its a 12" record and it was their last release. It was released only on vinyl, in 2009, jointly, by Nancy Jo Records, Otesanek and Reification of Misery Productions. OTESANEK was a band from Philadelphia that existed in the 00's, but called it quits before the end of the decade. They played a powerful combination of Doom, Death Metal, Drone, Sludge, etc and are one of my favorite "slow", heavy bands.
There were 500 copies pressed, with the first 111 copies including an extra linocut insert stenciled in human blood. It features 2 songs, both of which were recorded by Mick Mullen at Super 8 Studios in April 2007, the same session that their track "Seven Are They" comes from, which was released as part of "Fo(u)r Burials", the 4-way split with LOSS, MOURNFUL CONGREGATION, & ORTHODOX. The tracks were mastered by Prairie Cat Mastering. This 12" album features 2 songs in total, as I mentioned, with one track on each side of the record. Side A is "Resonance of War" and Side B is "Sanguinary".
The amazing cover artwork was done by Pippi Zornoza, who has continued to make killer art and music, so check her stuff out as well if you get the chance. The beautiful artwork is truly stellar and these pictures dont do it the full justice of actually holding the album in your hands and looking at the detail, but this will give you an idea.
"Resonance of War" begins with slow, massive, downtuned slabs of Droning Doom riffs, feedback, and low growls in the background. Its the patented sound of the mighty OTESANEK, slow, menacing, tortured and ominous. About 2 and a half minutes in the drums finally come in, and the corrosive destruction gets even uglier. Things continue on in uber slow and ugly fashion until about the 6 minute mark, when this Philly based crew of destroyers, kick into a speed burst that has been basically unseen from the band since their Demo days. The band had always played extremely slow, brutally heavy music that combined Death Metal, Doom, Sludge, and Drone with a sort of Experimental streak, but on their Demo, they also included a few faster parts even incorporating Blast Beats. So this fast section is something different from what OTESANEK had been doing, and the dynamic it creates is killer. Due to the slowness of the first 6 minutes, the fast part seems even more extreme and blazing, and when the slow, bone crushing heaviness returns about a minute later, it seems even slower by contrast. The vocals following the fast section are some of the most disgusting, gutwrenching vox Ive ever heard too, so thats another high point. They trudge slow and low again til about the 8 minute mark then kick off another fast section to take us out to the end at about 8:28.
"Sanguinary" opens with a bit of feedback and then a short fast section which is again kind of different for these guys. They alternate between their usual slow and devastating sound and these short blasts of faster stuff for a bit, then about a minute and a half in, everything pretty much comes to stop, and it just crawls for a bit, then we kind of return to the back and forth between the quick bits of chaos and the Death/Doom. Between 3:30 and 4 minutes we pretty much slow all the way down to nothing again, and we have just this tense minimalistic section where there is just a chug here and there from the guitar and very little else save a percussion hit here or there. About the 6 minute mark, shit gets super heavy again, and the vocals come back a bit different than usual, in that some of it isnt super low and guttural but more strained and wretched. Its just slow and crushing here for a couple minutes, then by about 8:30 we've slowed almost down to a stop again. From there it gets noisier and nosier until the finish at just over 9 minutes.
And that's it, the record is over and so was the band. The band had actually called it quits prior to the release of this record and so this release was basically their swan song. Some of the liner notes are also imbued with the finality as there is Thank You's for those you "understood". OTESANEK was a killer band that existed in the deep Extreme Metal Underground and during their existence, never got the recognition they deserved, and still are largely unknown.
They only put out a handful of songs spread across 5 releases, but I suppose on the upside, all those songs are pretty long, so you get more material in a few songs than you would alot more tracks by a Grind band with 30 second songs. Its interesting that this record, their final release, has 2 of their "shorter" songs, compared to previous material. These tracks, and the one from the same session that was used on the "Fo(u)r Burials) split are all shorter than anything else they released except for a song or 2 on their Demo. OTESANEK released a total of 9 songs in their existence, The Demo tape from 2002 features 4 songs (clocking 32:35), the 2004 self titled CD features 2 songs (clocking 30 mins), the 2007 split with COFFINS features 1 song (clocking 22 mins), the 2008 4-way split "Fo(u)r Burials" features 1 song (clocking 8:33), and finally this 2009 final record features 2 songs (clocking 17:29). So when you break it down, they released only 9 songs, but its just over 100 minutes of music, so they average over 11 minutes in length. This group did something truly powerful and unique and if you're a fan of extremely heavy, visceral, ugly music then I encourage you to check these guys out. Particularly if you're a fan or Extreme Doom, Funeral Doom, Death/Doom, Drone, etc. If you are interested in OTESANEK and would like to read a more in depth piece about their entire existence, check out this "Awesome Bands You Should Know...OTESANEK" piece I wrote, here.... http://dodobirdzine.blogspot.com/2013/03/awesome-bands-you-should-knowotesanek.html .
If you would like to here one of these jams here is "Sanguinary"...
If you would like to purchase this record, here is a Discogs link...
Released in 1987 by Macola Records and Ruthless Records, "Panic Zone" is an EP from the legendary Rap group, N.W.A. was the very first release from the legendary group. This EP basically introduced the world to Eazy E, Dr. Dre, & Ice Cube, although pretty much the whole crew is on the cover. The cover photo is also the same image as was used later on the first N.W.A. album, "N.W.A. & The Posse" which was basically a compilation of tracks from this EP, a few from the Fila Fresh Crew and a couple others marketed as a full on N.W.A album. The "Panic Zone" record features only 5 songs, "Panic Zone", "Dope Man (Radio Edit)", "8 Ball (Radio Edit), "Dope Man", & "8 Ball".
The record opens with "Panic Zone" which is not really a "normal" N.W.A. type song, and in truth was written by a Mexican rapper known as Krazy Dee, with it's original title being "Hispanic Panic". This title was changed to "Panic Zone" after Dr. Dre suggested that the "Hispanic Panic" title would potentially hurt sales. The next 2 tracks are the Radio Edits of "Dope Man" and "8 Ball", followed by the regular versions. "Dope Man" is a classic track was remixed and included on "Straight Outta Compton". This original version is largely an Ice Cube track although Eazy E does appear for a verse toward the end. "Dope Man" is also notable because it was the first collaboration between Eazy E, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, DJ Yella and Arabian Prince. "8 Ball" is another classic that would be remixed and used on "Straight Outta Compton" as well. It is essentially an Eazy E song as he delivers all the verses but does feature Dr. Dre's production. Really this record is not an "Album" but rather a Single, although its ironic in that it was a Single for "Panic Zone" the weakest song on here. The other 2 songs would become classics, while "Panic Zone is largely forgotten". However, regardless of how good this record is or whats on it, the most important thing about it is its historical significance, in that it was the very first release from N.W.A., a group that would have a profound impact, at the very least, on Rap music, if not Music in general or even parts of American culture.
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
FUCKING INVINCIBLE is a band from Rhode Island, featuring current and former members of DROP DEAD, SOUL CONTROL, DAUGHTERS, SWEET JESUS, etc. The group released a debut EP through Atomic Action Records on 7" vinyl, "Very Negative" on December 31, 2012, as well as 2 tracks on a comp called "You Cant Kill Me I'm Already Dead" featuring other RI bands. "Downtown is Dead" is the groups most recent release. The 7" EP was released by Atomic Action Records May 24, 2013. The effort features 8 new jams, as did the debut EP. "Downtown is Dead" is definitely inline stylistically with what FUCKING INVINCIBLE did on their debut in that they play violent Hardcore with elements of Powerviolence and Grind, but they do bust out enough new bits to add something different on this release.
The record opens with "Await Further Instruction" which starts off with some Doomy riffs and a sample from "Rosemary's Baby" then kicks into a short fast bit, before going into a midpaced, groove oriented section. "Too Much Black" follows and is a fast, ripping jam that tears through its run time in just under a minute. Next, "Ingested and Infested" is another blazing jam that incorporates a bit of Punk rock into its Powerviolence and Hardcore romp. "Coffin Chaser" opens with shrill feedback before exploding into a blasting fast section then resolving in a nice groove, all in less than 30 seconds. "On Paper" follows and opens with some slow, Doom riffs and Lex screaming "What the fuck!", from there we go into a fast blitzkrieg attack, before returning to slow Doom style bit for the close. "The Both of Us are Dying" is next and is the shortest track at only 13 seconds. Its a killer little Punk jam that is one of the most memorable songs Ive ever heard that was less than 15 seconds long. Now we have "A Coma" that alternates between fast Grind/Powerviolence parts and more midpaced grooving parts. The album closes with "Stand Perfectly Still", which opens with another sample, this time from the excellent film "Under The Volcano". The sample is the awesome line, "Hell's my preference. I choose Hell. Hell is my natural habitat. The song is the longest track on the record at about 2 and a half minutes and it brings the album to a fittingly violent end.
If you like fast, noisey, violent Hardcore with elements of Powerviolence, Punk, and occasionally a slower more Doomy bit for a few seconds, then you should get this right now. I would definitely also recommend this record to fans of the members previous bands. I first checked out FUCKING INVINCIBLE because I'm a huge fan of DAUGHTERS and I heard F/I was their vocalist, Alexis Marshall's new band. Now, that said F/I doesnt really sounds a whole lot like DAUGHTERS as its not nearly as weird and spazzy as that, but both groups are excellent. Another big difference is that Lex is not using the "drunken Elvis meets drunken Southern preacher" vocals he used on the last 2 DAUGHTERS albums, "Daughters" and "Hell Songs". Here he employs a much harsher, shrill scream that fits quite well with the jams at hand, and so in that context, its cool to hear Lex screaming his guts out for the first time since DAUGHTERS' first album "Canada Songs". 700 copies were pressed of "Downtown is Dead", with 100 White, 100 Clear, 200 Blue, and 300 Black. The Clear 7"s were only sold on tour and are now sold out, as are the White records. My copy is Blue and I believe there are still Blue and Black available. The 7" is only $5 and comes with a free Digital Download as well. You can also choose to just do the Digital Download for only $3.50. You can listen to the jams and see what you think or complete a purchase here.... http://atomicactionrecords.bandcamp.com/album/downtown-is-dead , and there are also links for the "Very Negative" EP, the Compilation I mentioned, and their Demo.