Album Reviews

ALBUM REVIEW: BARATRO – TERMS AND CONDITIONS

It’s been tough getting reviews in lately, but today I was able to give a spin to the debut release from Baratro. Shout out to Joshua Lozano for the heads up on this, as I had no idea it existed! For those familiar with Dave Curran (Unsane, PIGS, etc.), this is his latest project. The trio appears to be based in Milan, Italy, and the album was released at the end of January. It’s pretty rad.

The album sounds great, anchored by Curran’s churning bass and the driving beats of GJ Ottone. The drums are nice and punchy sounding, though the kick drum does get a little slighted in the mix. The bass sounds like Curran – I imagine it’s still a RAT smashing the front end of an SVT4, the sound he mastered for so many years with Unsane. The guitars were multi-tracked, but not just doubled, as Federico Bonuccelli occassionally creates some left-right variance to make the band sound like a four piece. His guitar tone is mean, it’s plenty dirty, but nicely articulate as well. The dissonant accents are a nice accompaniment to the drum and bass foundation, and when he does pile on with the bass riff, it’s nice and beefy sounding! The vocals (from both Curran and Bonuccelli) are mixed a bit down, but sound totally pissed. Listening to it, I’m often reminded of Eddie Gobbo’s Something Is Waiting delivery, but also the obvious Unsane feels.

This is a solid slab of nasty, down and dirty sludgy stuff. I’m into it more than I was into Chris Spencer’s Human Impact. It’s got an urgent pulse to it and it’s plenty gnarly enough to get your face twisted up in disgust while commanding participatory headbanging. Check it out! – Jason

A Goliath Of Persuasion – The brief tremolo intro sort of tricked me into thinking the song was going to go one way, but the band quickly sets in on a trademark Curran bassline, churning nonstop before the drums pile on and a panic-addled guitar line emerges from the din. The chorus then goes and drops the riff hammer! The vocals sound nasty, filled with contempt and raspy in all the right ways. Song rips. Thumbs way up.

Never Better – Dang! This one immediately sets in on another urgent beat and steamrolling groove. The guitars reveal that the player is super fond of the washy chords flitting over the rhythm section (as will become apparent across the rest of the record), but it sounds cool, so it’s alright. This cut is plenty gnarly with a nasty riff that uglies up my face. Non-stop headbanger. Thumbs way up.

Vilification – This one gets rolling with a battering beat and a sweet busy guitar bit over the bass and drums before setting in on the verse riff. The chorus riff is awkward by comparison and instantly snaps me to attention. Tough! The big whole note splashes are heavy! Rad.

The Divine Commodity – Oof, this one is a total bruiser. I’ve got a bad case of stink face and I’m swaying in my desk chair. Rocker! The tom heavy beat gives this one a different feel, and the mid-tempo slog keeps it crushing from start to finish.

So Impressive – The urgency comes back up on this one and I’m still way into it. The half-timey bits are super heavy and sound conflicted (looseness in the band), making it hit that much harder. It’s a rocker, for sure. I found myself body rocking too it. Good stuff.

Seamless Narrative – The final cut opens with an ominous, clanking guitar chord that instills a sense of dread as a subtle pitch shifting warbles in the left channel. The drums set in and I find myself ceaselessy snapping my neck to the stick clicks. When the bass comes in and they set in on the beat, it hits hard! The ensuing mid-tempo slog is hard not to head bang along to! The atmospheric sheets of guitar definitely keep up the tension first introduced by that intro. This rocks.

Album Reviews

ALBUM REVIEW: CELL PRESS – CELL PRESS

Full disclosure, I’m Facespace pals with guitarist/ backing vocalist Sean Arsenian of this band. I met Sean years ago at the Foundry when DeathCrawl played with his other band, The Great Sabatini. The Great Sabatini ripped and Sean was a super nice guy. Late in 2020, he posted online that his other project had a new EP out, and I was so far behind, I couldn’t get around to listening to it until today. It’s solid!

Mixed by Scott Evans of Kowloon Walled City, you know this thing is gonna hit like a ton of bricks, and it does! The bass is drrrty, and anchors the songs well in conjunction with crisp, punchy drums (the kick drum sits almost on top of the mix, thumping along with authority). The guitars also sound a bit blown out, far-from a tight/articulate approach and provide more of a gut wrenching slog. It works well! The vocals and backing vocals are fierce, and honestly hard to make out any words versus the raw emotion of anger they convey.

Check this out if you’re into heavy, sludgy rock and metallic post-hardcore! -Jason

Piss Police – The album opens with a slick start-stop riff before the band settles in on a Helmet-esque groove that demands immediate head bobbing. The distorted vocals provide more of a texture than a narrative, but the guys sound totally pissed. Good stuff!

Desert Breath – A fuzzed out, lo-fi filtered intro leads us into the second track, and it’s a more metallic monster, leaning into a bit of Keelhaul-esque hyperactivity. Dang! This is neck wrecker! The sludgefest ending lands hard and I’ve got a bad case of stink face. Thumbs way up!

Blacked Out In Verdun – A busy drum intro, snaps along to start this track, eventually developing into a sort of post-hardcore vibe. The chorus has this excellent Quicksand feel, but it’s also dissonant and ugly – it’s an awesome sound. I’ve got a bit of stink face and I’m banging my head in agreement. Thumbs up!

Dead At OACI – Here we are treated to a pummeling, lurching slab of nasty noise rock. Heavy! The palm muted riffing hits hard and I’ve got a sneer stretching across my face. The ending builds to a coiling, tense, fever pitch. Cool.

My Son Will No [sic] The Truth – The last track is over eleven minutes long, and it’s basically an experimental soundscape built on found sounds and looping washes of tones and textures over shuffling drums and bits of guitar noise. These sorts of tracks are super fun to make in the studio, but I don’t always like listening to them after the fact. At eleven minutes, I feel this is a bit much, and it would have been cooler if they eventually erupted into a face-bashing, riff-filled climax, but they don’t. It’s alright. As background noise, it’s perfect, but it’s not going to reach out and grab you.

Album Reviews

ALBUM REVIEW: uSSSy – PO KRUGU

Today I listened to the latest from Russia’s uSSSy. I’d never heard of this band, but saw some buzz online about how good this was, so I had to check it out. It’s a sonic tour de force with layers of texture delivered with plenty of energy. It’s got an Arabic/Eastern bend to it, but also dives into dissonant post rock and spaghetti western inspired alien surf music. The closest thing I could compare this to would be something from Trey Spruance’s excellent collaborative project, Secret Chiefs 3.

The album has a full-spectrum sound to it that makes it lush and powerful, buried in tasteful effects and sonic splashes that really makes your ears take notice. It’s tight and polished, but also intentionally wonky at times, with the bass lines occasionally out of tune with the melody, or fret noise and ambient noise (electronic hum, crackling, etc) peaking through. The end result is a really cool sound! It’s heavy at times, hyper-melodic throughout, and just plain kicks out the jams. The bass (apparently baritone guitar?) has a fat bottom end that helps anchor the mile a minute guitar lines. The drums are punchy and deliver some thump as well. Then you’ve got layers of what might be synths or heavily processed guitar, puking out oscillations all over the place. On top of that, there are more acoustic sounds, like some unidentified strings and bells and whatnot. It’s a dense offering of sound. Rad.

Given the nature of this album and it’s Soundtrack like qualities, I’m going to forego the typical track by track breakdown. Sufficed to say, all 9 tracks cook and it’s an excellent listen. Besides the aforementioned Secret Chiefs 3 comparison, you’ll also hear hints of stuff like Man…or Astroman?, Hungary’s Pozvakowski, and on the other extreme – Wizard Rifle. These folks can play their butts off and they’ve delivered a solid collection of tunes on this LP that is more than worth your time checking out, provided you can get into instrumental rock music. Check it out! – Jason

Album Reviews, News, Retrospective

YEAR END REVIEW – 2020

Twenty Twenty sucky sucky, amirite?

Not only did life as we know it come to a screeching halt, but here in the USA we had to deal with the biggest clown-show election of my lifetime. Both of my bands fell into a deep abyss of inactivity for months on end, and the new supercorrupter album, which should have been out months ago was never even finished recording. Traffic to the blog was also way down, year over year, probably because a large portion of visits came from office folks killing time at work and now those office folks are at home and killing time by watching TV or playing video games on the clock instead. Traffic was also down because I just couldn’t find the time or motivation to keep up with reviews, and there were zero shows to review as well.

Still, it wasn’t all bad. For one, once we finally got back on the horse of jamming together, we wrote a bunch of new songs, nearly enough for another album! The Two Minutes To Late Night crew also kept the year interesting with a killer collection of bonkers collaborations that’s resulted in some of the coolest heavy covers you’ll ever hear. Another of the silver linings was that a bunch of killer records came out this year, just like any year, and it’s time to celebrate them! Again, I can only judge stuff I listened to, and there is a substantial backlog of stuff I just didn’t get to before now (for instance, I bought both of the new Old Man Gloom releases and never even listened to them, yet, and I still haven’t sunk my teeth into that new Napalm Death, etc.).

Like I mentioned, traffic was way down this year. For those that did visit, the most read album reviews belonged to Fistula, Well, and the Enhailer/Black Pyramid split. The most read interviews were with guitar madman Jon Reider and Soul Charge’s Beth Anne. The Show Review for the New Bomb Turks at the Beachland was popular, and sadly, it was the last show I saw before everything went on lockdown. There was a ton of excitement for Westside Bowl’s Second Anniversary show, which never happened thanks to COVID19 precautions, same goes for this year’s BOCO, and a fistful of our own gigs that were sadly cancelled as the weeks drained away. I’ll never stop mourning the supercorrupter, Fashion Week, Something Is Waiting show getting cancelled. Big Bummer.

Oh well, enough belly-aching, here’s my favorite albums of 2020, in no particular order.

Exhalants – Atonement
These Texans were unknown to me at the beginning of the year, but you better believe I’m on board now. This record rips, coming across with urgent, churning songs that wreck your neck. It’s heavy and catchy and in your face. Rules.

Blacklisters – Fantastic Man
These Brits were also unknown to me, and they sucker-punched me in the junk with this banger. It’s catchy, it’s aggressive, it just plain rocks out, from beginning to end. High energy and balls to the wall sums this one up.

Fistula – The Process Of Opting Out
Fistula took a few years off between releases before dropping this colossus of filth and vitriol. Masters of the genre, the guys wield the sludge hammer as its intended, with one foot equally planted in both hardcore punk and swampy dirges. The result is a punishingly heavy serving of misanthropy that checked all the boxes for me this year.

Bambara – Stray
These Brooklyn based dudes came out of nowhere with a gothic/americana inspired collection of songs that nailed the mood and vibe they were after. The story telling is ace and the songs are deep and layered. I regret not seeing them at the Beachland before COVID came. I hope to one day have a chance to rectify that.

Mammock – Itch
It’s not that I never thought I’d list a band from Greece on a year end list, talent is everywhere, but I was never expecting this! These lads dish out a mean set of songs in the vein of NoMeansNo, Child Bite, and the Jesus Lizard. It’s grimy and fun and also kicks out the jams.

Second Arrows – Second Arrows
Come on, past members of Deadguy always get my attention, and adding folks from Every Time I Die and Nora only ups the ante. The guys released a killer debut LP that packs elements from all their prior projects into a nicely tied gift of gnarly rock and roll. Sweet.

Mr Bungle – Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny Demos
Yeah, I get it, you wanted wacky Bungle with bizarro-genre-hopping-on-the-fly. Well, guess what?! This is as wacky as it gets when you consider they got back together after more than 2 decades apart to revisit their high school demo. It’s genius! Enlisting Dave Lombardo and Scott Ian to fill out the band was just icing on the cake. Look, it’s not my favorite Bungle album, either, but dang if it isn’t fun, in your face, and totally in character for them as a band.

Sog City – Thoroughbreds
These Toledoans delivered a bruiser of an album earlier this year and it’s nasty. This was a bit of a sleeper, but in retrospect, it truly did deliver the goods in spades. Noisy, urgent, chaotic, heavy – it’s rad!

Jello Biafra And The Guantanamo School Of Medicine – Tea Party Revenge Porn
I sometimes feel this album is way better than it has any right to be. Jello is an old man and past his prime, right? Wrong! This record hits hard with a sludgy heaviness that Dead Kennedys never would have touched, while also packing a lyrical punch in line with the best of his early works. Sure, there’s some cringy missteps, but overall, this record smokes! I need to get it on CD, if such a thing exists.

Well – Trench Dancer
It seems every year I have an Australian band on this list, and this year, the honor goes to Well. This album delivers on a punishing promise to wreck your neck with elements of bands like Neurosis, Unsane, Helmet, and Kowloon Walled City. It’s a banger!

Honorable Mentions

Perdition Sect – End Times
This Ohio supergroup delivered a really solid debut LP. With just a bit more variety in the formula, it would have easily made the top ten. It’s fast and in your face and rocks with the best of the them.

ILS – Curse
I think I read that the main mind behind this band was a guitar tech for Red Fang, which is kind of funny because this album hits way harder than the last two Red Fang records, for my money. This is a strong release from a band to watch.

Habitar La Mar – Comedia Yoica
These Spaniards released a fuzzy tribute to the best of grunge, delivering an anxious, in your face collection of songs that rocks pretty hard.

Phasm – Double Hell
It’s no surprise that I’m a fan of the guys in Horseburner and this side-project of sorts was an excellent surprise. It’s bleak and nasty, and fast and wild. When Adam told me it was his “black metal” project, I surely was not expecting this! Heck yeah!

Album Reviews

ALBUM REVIEW: PERDITION SECT – END TIMES

Full disclosure, I’m Facespace friends with two of the minds behind this Cleveland-based supergroup (and the guy that did the cover art). I’m also a big fan of their past work. For those that have somehow missed the memo, Perdition Sect is made up of Aaron Dallison (Keelhaul, Axioma, Brain Tentacles, etc.), Matt Sorg (Ringworm, Shed The Skin), Mike Lare (Ringworm, etc.) , and Kyle Severn (Incantation, Shed The Skin, etc.). Talk about some heavy hitters, right?! The guys threw this project together in the vacuum of quarantine and banged out a full record before they knew what was happening. Aaron shared a couple tracks with me a few months back and I was blown away, desperately awaiting the release of the full album. Well… here we have it, ten blazing tracks of ripping D-beat!

The album sounds better than Discharge ever did, with a high fidelity blast of metallic fury. The bass is thick and bottom heavy, but the top-end drive helps it carve through the mix. Severn’s drums are punchy if not a bit thin on the kicks. Don’t get me wrong, this is the right sound for these songs, and the drums propel these tunes easily and with authority. The guitars of Dallison and Sorg hit like a filthy ton of bricks: heavy and thick and ripping. The leads sound cool too. The vocals are shared by Dallison and Lare and I like the back and forth as it keeps me on my toes as the band rips endlessly forward.

If you’re into fast, nasty, straight-to-the-point metallic hardcore punk, then you need to check this out, post-haste! – Jason

Plague of Incompetence – The album opens with a slow, brooding ominous vibe before the bass takes the spotlight and leads the rest of the band into a full speed romp. Ripper! Dallison’s vocals sound pissed! Lare goes for a more guttural approach to offset Aaron’s more fierce screaming. This song kills. It’s catchy and fast and I’ve got a bad case of stink face as I headbang in agreement. Thumbs way up!

Scorched Earth Industry – There’s zero lull in the action, as this track immediately lets loose from the gate with another up-tempo romp. The chorus does an excellent job of shifting up the straight forward vibe of the main riff. It’s a rocker! Dig it.

Not If, But When – The relentless assault continues, and this one is ok. The chorus is alright, but its a bit non-descript overall until the midsection where the bass carries the tune while the guitars spit out some leads. It’s ok.

Social Media Leprosy – Alright! Yeah! We’re back to a nasty main riff and I’m banging my head in disgust. This song has a burly sounding chorus and it’s catchy as all get out. They shift it up a bit for the solo section before resuming that steamroller main theme. Good stuff! The pounding end is tough. Thumbs up!

Bite The Hand – Oof! The opening chugga-chugga kills! It’s full on head bang city, here folks! This hits so hard with the palm muted riffing! My face is destroyed. For some reason this one gives me classic Gwar feels and that’s awesome. It’s heavy and very catchy! Thumbs way up.

Contagion Of Necessity – Pick slide intro? Yes please! This is another fine blast of metallic fury but it’s the palm muted riffing approaching the two minute mark that finally really makes me take notice! The leads that comes after is hot and the last half of the song definitely seems to hit harder than the first half as a result. Cool.

Infinite Incarceration – Bass intro with feedback? You’re speaking my language! Ha! They waste little time getting down to the business at hand of rocking your block. This one cooks and I’m flailing in place as I listen. Rocker! It’s catchy and pissed. Rad tune.

Missed Information – Heck yeah, killer call and response intro! I’ve got stink face before the brakes sheer off and the band barrels forward. The shared vocals continue to sound great and keep me on my toes, and I’m happy they went this route. I just wanna dance, and the leads are sweet. Good stuff.

Your Safe Space Isn’t Here – My neck is getting sore from all this banging, but we’re back at it! The punk DNA is more apparent on this track and it’s a solid tune. No complaints, but it’s also not a highlight for me.

Progress Of Failure – Nice! The riff that kicks this one off has a killer, mid-tempo pulse that hits so hard in contrast to the speed and aggression of the prior tracks. Tough! I’ve got stink face and I’m body rocking in time with the insistent beat. Thumbs up!

Album Reviews

ALBUM REVIEW: KEVIN & THE BIKES – IRONIC SONGS

Todays random Bandcamp spin came from Kevin & The Bikes. The album grabbed my attention for it’s sonic similarities (and genre hopping) to Capgun Coup’s Brought To You By Nebraskafish LP, which is a record I guess many would call a guilty pleasure of mine (though I’m against the idea of guilty pleasures, just enjoy it, man!). I don’t know anything about this project, including where they’re from or how many records they’ve put out, but I did enjoy this album! I did learn that they are named in reference to the jock kid Kevin from the cartoon Ed, Edd, and Eddy. Ha.

The album has a lo-fi vibe to it, but it’s not truly lo-fi sounding. It’s actually very well produced (in general) and lush with sounds and textures. You’ve got a punchy drum kit anchoring the mix along with a fuzzy bass, and then they pile on acoustic guitars, loud electric guitars, drum machines, synths, and more on top to give the songs character. The vocals veer from spoken word, to Built To Spill-esque shout-singing and even some well-executed screaming. All in all, it’s got a great throwback sound that works for a throwback bum like me.

If you’re into indie rock that hasn’t completely forgotten how to rock and embraces hooks, then I’d recommend you check this out! – Jason

Intellectual Bean-Spill – Opening the record with a sample, I wasn’t sure if the band would lean heavily on these types of found sounds. Turns out, it’s the only sample. The verse vocals are a bit corny or mixed too high, but just kind of goofy altogether. However, the chorus is ridiculously catchy and good and nails that Capgun Coup sound. The song’s got a great tempo with an urgent drum beat and the band does a great job of using dynamics to make it all really sing. The screaming version of the chorus that winds the track up was unexpected, but cool. I’m liking it!

Party Hard – The band sets in on a fun little groove as a King Missile inspired vocal takes us through to a real noisy derailment of the tune. By the one minute mark, the song shifts into a more intense and brooding vibe. I’m bobbing my head and stomping my foot. Cool.

One Night To Make You Wish It Was Forever – The drums are a bit distorted on this track, which has a quite sort of grunge vibe running through it. The screaming vocal accents sound rad. The dissonant piano squawks leading into the mid section are awesome too and I like the wall of sound that takes over for a bit before they reprise the main chord progression. Thumb up!

Turbulence – This tune immediately peels out of the prior cut with a power-pop vibe that I’m digging. It’s catchy and up-tempo and I’m into it. The chorus lifts the song nicely and the song’s got a definite Built To Spill meets Cursive kind of sound to it. I’m nodding in agreement and dancing in my seat. The synthy/drum machine sounding bit at the end is cool. Thumbs up.

My Marrow – The acoustic guitar almost gets lost under the drums and washes of sustained synth on this cut. It’s a weird sound that’s a little off-putting for me. It feels wobbly for lack of a better word. Meh.

The Only Unironic Song – Heavily distorted electric piano plunks out a melody while sustained synth pads fill out the stereo field. It’s a blown-out sounding theme of sorts, that would fit right in as part of some low-budget documentary on some small town that went belly-up after a maniac killed twenty people at a bingo hall fundraiser. It’s way out of place within the record, and I could take or leave it.

God’s Orientation – This is a noisy pop-song that has some charming bits but otherwise feels much longer than it’s two minute forty-nine second run time. I guess it’s reminding me a bit of early REM? It’s ok but doesn’t really grab my attention.

Spokoynoy Nochi – This is a short little vocal melody with acoustic guitar accompaniment. It’s endearing for how short it is. No complaints.

Salamia – We’re back to a more rocking vibe! The beat and chord progression leans forward and easily gets me bopping along in time. The busy lyrics are cool and the melody applied to wrap the words to the music works well. I like the chorus, on this tune as well. Finally, the song does a great job of building to a noisy, raucous conclusion and I’m into it. Good stuff.

I Fucked Up – Alright, the lo-fi is legit with this one, complete with omni-present tape hiss, “pots and pans” percussion, and a somewhat muddy mess of other sonic textures. This one really takes me back to the Nebraskafish vibes that first pulled me in. It’s a quirky little tune that’s oddly charming and catchy, even in it’s off-kilter presentation. Cool.

Album Reviews

ALBUM REVIEW: GHOST:HELLO / NIGHT GOAT SPLIT EP

Full disclosure, we’re friends of the folks in both these bands. I’ve previously reviewed Ghost:Hello’s debut LP The Sound Of Color In Space as well as both the Tria EP and MILK LP from Canton’s Night Goat. I’ve also shared stages with Night Goat a number of times and seen them a bunch of other times. This split EP features 3 tracks from each band, released by the Polish outfit Interstellar Smoke Records. Good on them! It’s an overall quick listen and should satisfy folks that grew up in the late 80s and 90s as well as you young whipper snappers as well.

Check it out! – Jason

GHOST:HELLO
Ghost:Hello is based out of a rural part of Northeast OH, but you’d never guess that given the Sci-Fi sonic punch they pack that’s equal parts trippy 60s psyche and 90s stoner-riff-rock worship. For this EP, the trio offers up three songs, only one of which is a new, original composition. For your money, you’ll also score an unexpected Toadies deep-cut cover and a live take on one of the stand-outs from their debut LP. The two new studio cuts sound great, which is no surprise since I know Will went to school for that type of thing. The bass hits hard and full-frequencied enough to carry the tunes without a guitar. The synth adds a nice bit of sonic candy and the drums are punchy and bright. Rad.

Suit Up – This song kicks major butt. It’s catchy, it’s driving, and the synth counter melodies perfectly offset the gnarly Fu Manchu-esque groove. Head bob city, population: me. I’ve got a bad case of stink face as the band rolls through the endless bounce of that verse riff. Tuff. The speed up ending is slick. Thumbs way up.

Tyler – I think the band’s old drummer sings this one and I like the dynamic approach he takes, focusing on a sung approach but breaking into a more aggressive stance for some lines. I haven’t listened to Toadies in probaby 10 years and I can’t honestly remember this song at all (it actually sounds more like a Pixies song to me). The song fits the band well, even if the synth gets lost after some crucial mood building at times. All in all, it’s a cool midtempo groover and I’m into it. I guess I need to go downstairs and dig out the Toadies CD to revisit the original.

Burnout (Live) – This tune jams, but I’m not super into live recordings of songs that already exist as studio cuts. For a live recording, it sounds great – better than some studio cuts I’ve enjoyed this year. I wish we were treated to another new song but there’s nothing wrong with this. It’s still a rocker.

NIGHT GOAT
Canton’s Night Goat has been pretty busy over the last few years, putting out a 3 song EP and an LP in the short time this blog has been running. The band includes the folks that run Buzzbin and they’ve been equally busy trying to get that venue cooking in the same time frame. Unfortunately, as with every venue in America, they’ve been hit hard by Covid-19 and I hope the best for them. For their half of the split, Night Goat offers up three new tunes. It’s sounds huge, but a bit leaner than Ghost:Hello’s contribution. The cleaner production suits them well, with 2 guitars, bass, drums, and multiple voices all fighting for space in the mix. I like the sound a lot, perhaps even better than the mix on MILK! The bass is thick, as are the guitars are when needed. The guitars also spill out a lot of what you could call “goth” or “shoe gaze” wash over the bottom-heavy bass lines that makes the heavy parts hit that much harder when they land. Julia’s vocals sound awesome on these cuts.

Inverted Burial – This track does an excellent job of building a foreboding, ominous vibe as the band pounds across it’s midtempo crawl. Julia’s clean vocals remind me of Courtney Love in a way and it’s almost like a nastier, sludgier version of Hole. Nice! The left-right guitar interplay is cool as well. The staccato verses break the song up nicely so that the chorus lifts nicely. Catchy! This is another ace tune. The sludge detour just past the two minute mark is legit. Heavy! Moody! Rad. Thumbs way up.

Possession – The tempo creeps up a tad and the band takes on a more urgent pulse. Again, the vocals sound excellent and I love how the ridiculously catchy hook blooms out of the pre-chorus. Sure, the Melvins DNA is there, but there’s also a bit of a Joan Jett or Siouxsie Sioux swagger. This song is fun and it’s a banger. I can almost close my eyes and imagine this song having come out when I was a teenager, as it just plain nails the vibe of the times. Thumbs up!

Cult – Guitarist Chris Bentley finally gets some backing vocals (he sings on more of the band’s prior tunes), trading lines with his wife in a well suited call and response. It’s a cool tune! We’re back on more of a simmering type of groove with this one. I like bands that mix it up track to track, so that’s cool. Similar to Inverted Burial, this one just feels more “gothy” to me – though I can’t articulate why. It’s good stuff!

News

DECEMBER 7 2020

Welcome to the final month of 2020. It’s nice to pretend that effective immediately come the first of January, this dumpster fire will magically burn itself out and rainbow-barfing unicorns will wash the COVID scum from the streets, but we know that isn’t happening. Folks, we’ve still got a long way to go. Gigs are a long ways off. Spending time in crowds at dive bars are a long ways off. You should be stocking up for a long, boring winter. I recommend investing in new music from any bands you are into – chances are, they’ve put something out recently and could desperately use your support.

With all that said, reviews have had to take a backseat again, as we resumed home-schooling here. It’s just not possible to give a critical listen to anything when you need to have one ear trained on a Chromebook to understand what’s up next for the kids and the other ear trained on your own work responsibilities. It’s a pity because there’s been a lot of good stuff released recently.

I know the annual end of the year recap is coming up, and I still have a ton of albums on deck for reviews. I’m not going to be able to get to them all, heck, I don’t know if I’ll be able to get through many at all. It sucks, but that’s show biz. I’ll do what I can. Thanks for your patience!

In the meantime, we’ve got new gear and new songs, and hopefully some day we will be able to share them with you.

Album Reviews

ALBUM REVIEW: JUCIFER – نظم

I’ve been a fan of Jucifer since first seeing them open for the Melvins at the Agora Ballroom in Cleveland a lifetime ago. They were easily the loudest, most intense band I’d seen up to that point. We even got to open for them at Annabell’s once, which was a blast!

For the uninitiated, Jucifer is, in actuality, two different bands (much like BORIS). On one hand, you have the band’s recordings which run the gamut from soft folky ballads with beautifully delicate vocals to hook filled rock songs to bludgeoning blackened grind-core, spread across a bevy of excellent albums. I haven’t loved everything they have released, but I have liked most of it and definitely respected each artistic statement they’ve made. The other Jucifer is the live entity, which is something else altogether. Performing inches before their colossal wall of amps and speaker cabinets, the due of Amber Valentine and Edgar Livengood are just as likely to blast through a largely improvised, cathartic release of massive energy as they are to play anything you’ll recognize from an album. I’ve seen Ed puke during their set, multiple times, from the intensity. Some times it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s certainly an experience all fans of extreme music owe to themselves to witness at least once in their life.

This is the band’s latest offering, and once again, the duo have flipped the script and delivered something unlike anything I would ever expect (their last two releases have been more grind influenced). Given the “world music” nature of the material, I’m not going to do my usual track by track review, but suffice to say, this is a really cool album. A concept album, it tells the story of women and their “collective struggle to survive, reform, and reconcile a violent world.” In doing so, the band leans heavily on Arabic and southeastern Asian musical theory, creating an otherworldly experience of looping, pulsing rhythms and haunting vocal melodies. It’s very hypnotic! I can’t understand any of the lyrics (not sure what language it is), and it does sometimes drift in and out as background music, but it’s a sweet experience nonetheless. Listening to it, I’m made to imagine hearing this seeping out of a dusty cantina on a desert world the pop-culture universe knows as Tattooine. It’s alien in that regard. The timbre of the record is welcoming with many different textures working with and across each other. This is a dense and vibrant recording, despite the dusty, back road vibes it puts off. Layers of percussion keep all the traditional/folk and otherwise electronic instruments moving along and I’m into it!

Turn this on, turn it up, and let your mind wander! Check it out! -Jason

Album Reviews

ALBUM REVIEW: MR. BUNGLE – THE RAGING WRATH OF THE EASTER BUNNY DEMO

Today I was excited to dig into the first Mr Bungle release since 1999’s excellent swan song, California. Full disclosure, I’m a huge fan of this band, and almost every other project I’ve heard from them. Spruance’s Secret Chiefs 3 ripped, as did his one record with Faith No More! Trevor Dunn’s Trio Convulsant ripped as well, not to mention his stint with the Melvins! Then you’ve got Mike Patton, whom has been a part of more awesome albums than probably any single person has any right to be.

When they first announced that they were reuniting to revisit their high school demo, with Dave Lombardo and Scott Ian on drums and rhythm guitar respectively, I couldn’t stop laughing. Who else but Mr. Bungle would get top-tier thrash icons to play songs that had been written in high school? Unfortunately, I was unable to see one of the very few shows they played earlier this year, but then the news broke that they went ahead and re-recorded it!

The album sounds awesome, which comes as no surprise since everyone involved knows what they are doing. Lombardo’s drums hit hard with plenty of thump on the kicks but also enough snap to drive the tunes along. Dunn’s bass has a fat bottom, but more importantly, plenty of the top end bite that lets him cut through in the winding, thrashy bits as well as the slower breakdowns. Spruance and Ian’s guitars are about as metal as metal can get and sound awesome with plenty of leads and beefy palm muted riffs as well. Patton sounds great; seriously, does this guy age?

I purchased the “Yearbook Edition” of the CD from Ipecac so I could get the deluxe packaging and I’m happy I did. It comes in a little hard-cover book that’s packed with cool photos of the guys as kids, as well as early flyers and a write up by Dunn as to why the band wanted to do this project. I would have liked a lyrics sheet inclusion, but they were never very forthcoming about what was being sung, so no big whoop.

If you like thrash metal, you should check this out pronto. If you’re a Bungle fan, you should check this out pronto. If you’re a rocker, you should check this out pronto. Check it out, already! – Jason

PS – Please tour this once gigs are a thing again.

Grizzly Adams – The record starts like any good 80s thrash record, with clean guitars picking through a kind of spooky melody. This is the lightest the record gets, and the effected guitars sound cool as heck! And are those subtle bells or xylophone plunks? Just past the two minute mark, the bass and drums pile on and heavy up, just as one would expect! It’s a cool instrumental, and serves as a solid opening to the record.

Anarchy Up Your Anus – Mr. Bungle’s self-titled debut was packed with samples, but the sample that opens this track is a bit of an outlier on this collection of tunes. It doesn’t take the band long to set in on a machine gun stuttering riff that’s heavy as lead and catchy! I’m banging my head and stomping my foot. Thumbs up.

Raping Your Mind – The heavy metal keeps charging forward and I’ve got a case of stink face from the opening riffs of this one! Geez! Spruance and Ian’s picking is a clinic! The leads come fast and furious as well. Metal! It’s catchy, it’s fast, it’s wild. Thumbs up!

Hypocrites / Habla Español o Muere – This track is a lot fun, blasting through hardcore punk influences before shifting into La Cucaracha and then going whole hog on an updated version of SOD’s Speak English Or Die. It hits hard, and it’s fun. Bang your whole body into dust! Rocker.

Bungle Grind – I have to admit, with a title like this, I was expecting some balls-to-the-wall grindcore, but I was wrong. It’s certainly fast, but it’s still got that sleazy thrash groove oozing through it. Heavy! Catchy! Good! The half-time bits hit so hard! They cover a lot of ground in this six and half minute long banger, including some Slayer-esque leads. Horns up!

Methematics – Wow, this track kicks off with an unexpected rock and roll riff and a pretty straight forward beat, eventually building into a more of a metallic tour de force. The big punch in this one is the Love Is A Fist riff which hits like a ton of bricks in this context. Dang. At almost nine minutes long, this track does a whole lot of ruling. Thumbs way up!

Eracist – We get another rock riff for this one, and Patton’s vocals are more rock oriented as well. Overall, this is a mid-tempo groover, but they shift into a brief metal meltdown with a neck snapping transition around the two minute mark! Tough! My neck is getting sore from this constant head banging. Rad.

Spreading The Thighs Of Death – Ooof! They get right back to the full-on thrash assault straight away with this track. This is intense with some blazing lead work courtesy of Spruance. Full blown metal on this one, folks. Rad.

Loss For Words – A Corrosion of Conformity cover? Cool! What can you say? This is already a cool song (from 1985’s Animosity) and Mr Bungle does a great job with it. Rules. Thumbs way up.

Glutton For Punishment – After the slamming groovy ending of Loss For Words, it’s back to full speed thrashing on this one and it rocks. Ripping guitars, drums, bass… I’m repeating myself here as the guy continue to kick butt and take names. The whispery vocals that pop-up from time to time on this track feel a little out of place, but all in all, it’s a rocker.

Sudden Death – Dang, this one has some killer riffs and grooves in it! The half-time intro crushes and the full-on romp does as well. Folks, this is catchy! Once again, the band covers a ton of ground with ever shifting riffs and intensity…. and those face melting leads! Ooof! The climactic ending?! Forgettaboutit! Thumbs way up!