Thursday, December 30, 2010

BEST OF 2010 (part 10)

"The shit they call "horror" in the comic store, nobody's got that style anymore!" ~Impetigo

CREEPY ARCHIVES
Volumes 1-8
(Dark Horse Books)

A lot of my pals got married or bought houses or renovated their homes in 2010. My smartest investment this year, on the other hand, was trading a dude at the Dark Horse Comics warehouse an original drawing for a complete collection of hard bound Creepy Archives. It was a win/win trade and someone should've photographed our faces as we exchanged the goods like giddy schoolgirls trading scratch & sniff sticker books. Unfortunately, this insanely beautiful collection has quickly destroyed any semblance of a life I once had. Now I sit awake at 3am like a speed freak, rationalizing how I can read just...one...more story and still get 3 hours of sleep before work. For those of you cretins that just crawled out from under a goddamn rock, Creepy was a hugely influential horror comic anthology that had a solid run from 1964-1983. Warren Publishing used the magazine format to evade the Comics Code Authority restrictions on violence and targeted a more mature (cough) readership than most other monster comics of the era. The writing was notably more sophisticated and the art was simply brilliant (Frank Frazetta himself provided most of the cover art for the first 20 issues of the series). Of course Creepy also featured a charismatic horror "host" that directly connected with readers in the tradition of earlier EC comics and was eventually immortalized by Impetigo on Ultimo Mondo Cannibale. Sure, there's some quaint filler to be found in the initial 145 issue run but for the most part this stuff is top notch. Marvel at the seemingly effortless work of masters such as Angelo Torres, Reed Crandall, John Severin, Gray Morrow, Alex Toth and the always uncanny Steve Ditko at the top of their drawing game. The Dark Horse Archives series aspires to reprint every issue in their entirety, including the awesome ads (can I still order a mail order baby squirrel monkey with "live delivery guaranteed"???), reader letters and fan club art. Don't miss a young Berni Wrightson's fan club drawing in issue #9! And for yet another stunning example of the historic cross-pollination of horror, art and heavy metal, check out issue #27 for a young Ken Kelly's demonic fan club drawing. Yes, the very same Ken Kelly who would go on to provide album cover art for Kiss, Rainbow and Manowar. Hail to Creepy! Now I wonder if my landlord will let me trade a drawing for the rent this month...


Honorable Mention:
DESTROY ALL MOVIES!!!
Edited by Zack Carlson & Bryan Connolly
(Fantagraphics Books)
The premise is very simple: a bunch of obsessive compulsive nerds set out to chronicle every film ever made that features a punk rocker. Genius in its simplicity and exhausting in its scope. It's the kind of asinine idea you have at 4:12am when the beer is gone but you can't sleep. Well, they pulled it off and my life is a happier place thanks to their herculean effort. What a fun read! My litmus test was Mother's Day. If their hot pink tome failed to favorably mention my favorite rape revenge flick of the 80's I was prepared to immediately cast it upon the poser pyre. I flipped straight to the 'm' section and there it was, properly represented and with a punky graphic to boot (though I'm surprised they didn't mention the film's wry commentary on class and consumerism). Well done, gentlemen. Well done. When it comes to book design I tend to prefer a conservative aesthetic so I would've played the layout straight with lots of movie poster art instead of this wacky neon D.I.Y. style but it has actually grown on me and is true to the spirit of the work. The writing is hilarious and I salute these dudes for watching some of this crap so I don't ever have to. More books like this in 2011!

Dennis Dread looking pleased to have wrapped up his 2010 list.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

BEST OF 2010 (part 9)

"...autumn's cold brings the pagan dead who seek the warmth of the Samhain fire!"

HOUR OF 13
The Rites of Samhain
(Yersinia Pestis)

I have no idea why it took me so long to discover Phil Swanson's classy metal pipes but I'm admittedly a recent convert to his mournful satanic hymns and, to make up for lost time, I officially declare 2010 the "Year of 13". I was nearly buried this year in a small avalanche of tunes bearing his distinctive mark in the form of no less than three (count 'em!) Hour of 13 releases as well as the killer Vestal Claret and Night Bitch EP's (both on cult cassette-only label NoVisible Scars). I'm not sure why this dude has so many bands 'cause to my untrained ear most of this stuff sounds remarkably similar and his lyrics never stray too far from the themes of occult mind control and sexy human sacrifice that would've had the P.M.R.C. launching an inquisition back in the 80's. The Ritualist is a damn fine release and I've banged my head in slow motion to its mysterious laments many times in recent months but this two track 7" is something special to behold. The first release on artist Josh McAlear's new label and bearing his spectacular cover drawing, this beautiful little record is essentially an homage to the pagan roots of Halloween and Glenn Danzig's most spiritually focused period. When I saw Danzig on the first solo tour in 1988 he was still performing his Samhain masterpiece To Walk The Night- which, incidentally, is a line culled directly from Anne Rice's novel Interview With a Vampire- and it was a brooding respite in the midst of an otherwise frenzied rock 'n' roll communion. Swanson intuitively understands the tortured subtleties of Danzig's vocals and while his voice is not necessarily suited for this dark ballad, the band offers up a deadly serious homage that works well enough. The A-side title track however is a stone cold killer, writhing with characteristic menace and dour devotion. In all honesty the crushing Night Bitch Sex & Magic EP, which was recently pressed to vinyl following the limited edition cassette version, is musically superior but I keep stumbling on the name (almost as dumb and misleading as Anal Vomit) and rushed graphics so the more aesthetically pleasing relic wins. Stylish silver ink printed on black sleeves and limited to 300 numbered copies. All documented. All true.


Honorable Mention:
DARKTHRONE
Circle The Wagons
(Peaceville)
You didn't seriously think I'd neglect to mention this, did you? I assume there's a ton of shit being talked about Circle The Wagons on the Internet (my new favorite zine Chromium Dioxide gave it a smarmy kiss-off in issue #3) but this final piece in my Darkthrone art trinity is a damn fun record! I know, I know. Darkthrone isn't supposed to be "fun". WAAAA. I also know how shamelessly self-referential it is to mention this on my own year end round up. Boo hoo. The song I expected to like least when Fenriz first mentioned the title has turned out to be my anthem for 2010 ("...all day so I don't have to see your face!") and the title track with its soaring chorus has served as a hearty strip club drikkende-sang. This is a modern anti-modern classic that will remain in heavy rotation for years to come. I think I just heard the NWN! message board implode in a mushroom cloud of goat bones and Mountain Dew.

Black Mountain Don't.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

BEST OF 2010 (part 8)


VON GOAT
Septic Illumination
(Nuclear War Now!)

I'm not entirely sure what happened at Armageddon Fest but reliable accounts agree that the Von lineup was confusing and their underwhelming performance a stain upon the band's otherwise untouchable legacy. Of course that's the risk inherent in all reunions, reformations, remakes, re-imaginings and re-recordings. Such endeavors almost always cater to the lowest common denominator and tend to leave the distinctly bad taste of nostalgia in one's mouth (this year's triumphant Autopsy reunion being one notable exception to the rule). I was so ashamed when I heard Let There Be Blood that I immediately sold my original pressing of Bonded By Blood and don't need to hear Exodus again for a long time. Historical revisionism is tricky business. So after the disaster in London I was cautious to approach S. Von Goat's new project, a further exploration along the strange Von continuum, for fear that it would somehow diminish my adoration or sully my memory. Eventually I got over myself after blasting Sixx for most of the year and decided I had to give this a try. Occasionally bold curiosity is rewarded with perverse arcane knowledge, pilgrims. What the fuck is this that stands before me? Cryptic poetry swirls through waves of thick distortion like a bloated pig corpse drifting through the pestilent sewage of some dark ancient river. Subliminal commands, wet skulls, oxidized chains and bacterial spiders ooze from the speakers like terrible and incurable blood-borne pathogens. Impenetrable lyrics elude to the hallucinatory madness of addiction, but the symbolism is left ambiguous enough to allow the listener to draw their own conclusions into the soiled syringe. For some reason the combined disorienting atmosphere of Wrest's drums with the sickly vocals and inverted melodies recalls early Godflesh and Scatology-era Coil, but I wouldn't want to mislead readers who might therefore expect some sort of industrial experimentalism. This is metal even as it skirts the edges of the unknown and unknowable. Worth repeated listens at high volume. Stare long into the septic abyss!

Honorable Mention:

BASTARD PRIEST
Under The Hammer Of Destruction
(Blood Harvest)
VICTIMS OF A RAPED GRAVE! Caveman death crust from...where else?...SWEDEN! I'm a sucker for this shit. On the Richter scale this falls somewhere between Sodom and Anti Cimex or maybe Onslaught at 45 rpm's and amplified through the bowels of a dead priest. The vocals are all bloody echoes, the drums are thermonuclear warhead explosions and the guitar sounds like wonky Misfits solos played on a broken sitar at the Battle of Meggido. If Discharge scored a horror flick it might sound like this. I guess this LP is mostly re-recordings of their previous demos but since I'm apparently the last to hear about everything I have no idea what those demos sounded like so it's all new to me. Blood Harvest Records has become a reliable beacon of quality and these dudes will stomp you into the fucking dirt along with the rest of their impressive roster. TOTAL ZOMBIE WAR!!!!!
This billboard from my neighborhood has nothing to do with Bastard Priest. Or does it???

Monday, December 27, 2010

BEST OF 2010 (part 7)

"No future?"

SPECTRES
Last Days
(Whisper In Darkness)

If I bummed you out earlier in the week with my endorsement of an Afro-Soul record, prepare for more crippling disappointment. After unveiling the very promising Cold War EP in 2007 and Visions of a New World in 2008, the somber Canucks known as Spectres have returned in 2010 with an outstanding debut LP that has all the dark wavers wearing their sunglasses at night and frowning in approval. Despite a new lineup, Last Days continues in the depressive vein of the band's previous work, drawing heavily on the martial cadence of Crisis and the smoldering introspective anguish of The Mob and Joy Division. They call this "flat affect" in the mental health profession. Vocalist Brian Gustavason thrives on deadpan emotional dissonance but new songs like Our Time and Nazca show him broadening his range and stepping out of his comfort zone just enough to keep the funeral procession moving along at a brisk jaunty pace. This is one of those albums that takes homage to the threshold of plagiarism but somehow remains relevant and vital. In fact, these dudes have helped spearhead a recent emergence of melodic North West post-punk bands like Bellicose Minds, Vivid Sekt and Arctic Flowers, with whom they share a recent split 7". I sorta hope they'll continue to carve out an identity of their own and perhaps push their sound into more aggressive or experimental directions. The purity of this style is fairly limiting and the ice age atmosphere might grow stagnant over time, but this record has a moody urgency that really works. Snort your girlfriend's Prozac and join the death party, punk!



Honorable Mention:

NERVESKADE
Self Titled
(Black Water Records)
"AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!" These bastard sons of Wez ripped the noisepunk blueprint from local faves Atrocious Madness (R.I.P.) and Lebenden Toten (who borrowed liberally from the likes of Confuse, Disorder and the harshest parts of Antisect) and somehow came up with this absolutely essential blast of kaotic fuck-offery. These 12 "songs" buzz and vomit like a terrible aberration and before you can locate your industrial strength earplugs amidst all the empty beer cans on the floor...the nightmare is over as quickly as it began. Nerve Damage is the ace and I love how it transitions into Forced To Live and then into Brain Damage (variations on a theme). Parasites is an inspirational anthem about genital crabs and/or gutter punks and then there's that part in Nothing But Shit where it sounds like the guitar got unplugged. To top it all off, the lyric sheet looks like a juvenile detention coloring book centerfold. You mongoloids are probably too young to remember the punk rock episode of CHiPS but let grandpa over here tell you that the California Highway Patrol woulda shit their gestapo browns if they had to deal with these glue sniffing degenerates. Take a shower and go home to mommy, Richie Dagger. The real punks have arrived to DISTORT...uh...EVERYTHING!

"No future."

Sunday, December 26, 2010

BEST OF 2010! (part 6)


CAUCHEMAR
La Vierge Noire
(Nuclear War Now!)

Like a virgin. Touched for the very first time. Cauchemar arrives from Montreal, Canada as a lightning shaft of illumination rending the musty ossuary of modern mediocrity! This power trio offers up anthemic French invocations shrouded in the purple metal majesty of doom, made all the more mysterious by the fact that I don't understand a word of it. Well, that's not entirely true. I nailed the first word of Le Volle D'Isis without Google Translate but that's only because I already had to look up the word "sepultura" two decades ago. Cauchemar's sepulchral rocka rolla crawls forth from the same crypt as Italian horror hordes Death SS and Black Hole with creepy dynamics giving way to galloping rhythm and haunting melody. Annick Giroux's vocals emanate a refreshing humility and an understated sensual power that tempers the muscular advance of Francois Patry's iron riffs and Patrick Pageau's confident plodding. Midnight Shady refuses to dumb us down with growls, grunts, shrieks or false operatic femininity. In fact, she sorts the men out from the boys with dignified restraint and all while laying it down on the four string altar. Hard to pick a favorite as this entire 12" is flawless, if only too short. Austere aesthetics reflects the band's modest no-frills approach. As a matter of logistical criticism, clear vinyl makes it virtually impossible to tell what side is what or where the fucking grooves are in a candlelit room. Purple vinyl would've been perfect. Still, I feel shiny and new. Like a virgin.

Honorable Mention:

WEAPON
From The Devil's Tomb
(Ajna Offensive)
Weapon released one of the classics of 2009 with Drakonian Paradigm and this year they returned with their sophomore strike. This record is a mixed affair for me because the compositions and musicianship (and artwork) are superior to anything the band has ever manifested in almost every way but these new hymns are ultimately undermined by surgical ProTools production values. It goes without say that these earnest disciples have very lofty ambitions and they clearly set out to create a timeless leviathan of a record. It falls short only in the obnoxious sound, especially the clickety-clackety drums which stutter in the foreground and occasionally distract from the amazing solos and absolutely infectious riffing. Where's the ETERNAL FIRE? When I'm invoking the glorious majesty of KALI I don't wanna hear my daughter hammering away on an old typewriter in the next room. Actually, my daughter is in the next room hammering away on an old typewriter. But you get the idea. I also miss the weird demonic chorus/gang vocals of Serpent Ayat and hope they'll resurface on the next one. Despite these shortcomings, Weapon has once again succeeded in unleashing one of the year's best.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

BEST OF 2010 (part 5)

"A certain tendency to insanity has always attended the opening of the religious sense in men, as if they had been blasted with excess of light." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

WATAIN
Lawless Darkness
(Seasons in Mist)

One of the phenomenons that I struggle with when thinking about the most compelling music of the year is the sheer volume of releases that flood the world these days. I occasionally long for the days when music was a lusty wench worthy of a relationship and I found myself wed to certain records for months and months, imbibing every nuance on a cellular level. When Master of Puppets came out in 1986 it was an event and I spent the rest of the year banging my head in thoughtful introspection, studying the lyrics and contemplating the air brushed cover. Sounds naive now but at the time this was the ambitious crest of a rising force and the tremendous anticipation was part of the thrill. Say what you will about Metallica's colossal wimpery but to this day when I hear a single note from their third LP something deep inside me immediately stirs to attention. That's because I put time in with that record, time I felt it deserved. A decade or so later I did the same with Storm of The Light's Bane. Nowadays it's difficult to get to know music and develop that deeper and ultimately more meaningful connection. A timely example is the new Ghost LP which, after months of excitement, was prematurely ejaculated into existence and unceremoniously sent to me in the body of an e-mail message. I realize I'm an irrelevant dinosaur, but I felt cheated. Lawless Darkness is one of those uncommon records one must devote significant time and energy to properly reckon and romance- perhaps more time and energy than most can afford in their eagerness to make snappy commentary. Despite the band's meticulous attention to detail, this is not tidy or palatable music suitable for the cyber equivalent of fast forwarding. Certainly songs like Wolves' Curse and Reaping Death deliver a swaggering immediacy but Total Funeral and The Waters of Ain demand stamina and focus. Sure, the recording suffers from uncharacteristic overproduction but even as I bang out these words I feel as though I've only just begun to plumb the depths of this collection and suspect it will continue to open itself up to me and inflame my imagination for many years to come. As potent art should. Speaking of which, the staggering presentation of this record is largely the work of previously unknown Polish master Zbigniew M. Bielak, whom Erik Danielsson told me quite literally appeared out of thin air with his classical style perfectly suited to the band's monolithic vision. Artists of this calibre only surface every decade or so and abominations of this far reaching grandeur only manifest under the most spectacular of circumstances. Face the thing that should not be...

God don't like it.

Honorable Mention:
STENCH
In Putrescence
(Agonia Records)
While we're on the subject of awful smells from Sweden, behold the ferocious gore adorned debut full-length from Stench! Is the Swedish government offering huge grants to see who can come up with the sickest death metal? There seems to be no other explanation for the disproportionate proliferation of ridiculously talented and dedicated musicians spawned in this otherwise orderly and well-to-do little nation. Stench is two of the dudes from Tribulation stepping up their rabid assault with insane hieroglyphic riffs that cast a disorienting spell not entirely unlike Grotesque or early Morbid Angel. But what sets these young necrophiles apart from the trendy "old school death metal" pack is their singular vision and ability to sound unlike all the others. They're definitely doing their own thing and they've got the total aesthetic to transport listeners beyond the grave. Jonathan Hultén is one of the underground's best kept secrets and his visual art is among the very best being produced today. His artwork on the Tribulation LP is what separated that record from the landfill of new wave death metal that emerged in the wake of Repugnant and Hultén's style has developed enormously on this excellent debut. Inhale...THE DARKNESS!!!!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

BEST OF 2010 (part 4)


BONE SICKNESS
2010 Demo
(Self Released)

Bone Sickness take their name from an inexcusably boring and incompetent straight-to-video horror flick that even frontal nudity and copious amounts of Jamesons couldn't salvage. But I suppose Autopsy and Master were already taken and Don't Go In The Woods is too wordy, so who can blame 'em? This is rabid metal from the grave steeped in the noxious sewer crust of Nausea and the glacial judgment of Winter. Six songs and not a dud among them! Organ-Wrenching Sick is the standout with its sludgy pummeling and infectious thrash riffing but The Collector and Scraping The Bones make me wanna get wasted on formaldehyde and play operation with a chainsaw. I was fortunate enough to catch these talented young derelicts performing in the outdoor parking lot of a pizza joint earlier this year and was grinning like an undertaker by the time they lurched off stage. It was broad daylight but they painted the sky black with plague while the usual gang of downtown Olympia, Washington riff raff assaulted each other in the pit and confused the hippies and homeless who couldn't boogie along fast enough. Keep truckin'. At the time Bone Sickness featured former Funerot (R.I.P.) shredder Ben Moore-Maley on guitar and he rips it up on this demo but has since relocated for school and been replaced. Don't worry, the new guy rules. For some reason I seem to recall the live set having something of a spastic Accused or Animosity-era C.O.C. vibe (maybe it was just the drummer's tattoos) but by the time this demo emerged a few months later the punk influence was mostly buried in a shroud of viscera. If these dudes can keep their shit together they'll be something to watch and I'm really looking forward to their full-length in 2011. Limited to 250 copies and featuring stylish cover art by Jorge Flores of Lit Fuse Tattoo. Choke on it!

Bone Sickness at East End on December 18, 2010.

Honorable Mention:

OBLITERATION
Nekropsalms
(Duplicated Records)
You know that feeling you get when you find yourself locked in an old fruit cellar and suddenly realize something is down there with you? That is precisely the same atmosphere of nauseating horror to be discovered on this second full-length from Norway's Obliteration. I somehow missed these dudes when they played MDF this year and while I'd like to say it was because I was off at the Edgar Allan Poe Museum soaking up some literary history, the truth is, I was probably engaged in a heated game of Chinese Face Punch. My loss. This is a band so deeply and intuitively connected to their dark graveyard vision that they can clamber down strange paths and still deliver us into the terrible gaping jaws of DEATH! The Worm That Gnaws In The Night is a nearly 10 minute disasterpiece of pig-squealing guitars, swirling leads and agonized death rattles that will make your Hellhammer records ride off into the sunset on a pale horse. Technically this was released in late 2009 but the vinyl version did not emerge until 2010 and only recently arrived at the Dread Compound where it has been in steady rotation. The LP also comes with a 7" featuring one crushing original and a fuckin' Dr. Shrinker cover from the 1989 Wedding the Grotesque demo. I don't particularly care for the cover art but at least it's not goatmen pulling a train on Jesus and besides, if the band photos are any indication, vocalist/guitarist Sindre Solem appears to be about 9 feet tall and ain't the kinda dude I wanna piss off. A real gem!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

BEST OF 2010 (part 3)

Halloween 2010. Eugene, Oregon.

CHRISTIAN MISTRESS
Agony & Opium
(20 Buck Spin)

At first utterance the title agony and opium has a similar ring to tyranny and mutation, does it not? At first glance the more astute nerd may even perceive a familiar color scheme reference in the red and the black of its packaging. The cover actually looks like a cross between the first Saint Vitus record and a D.I.Y. Confederate flag. But make no mistake, this isn't "retro-rock", "old school" or whatever term jaded blogspot critics (ahem) are using to spay and neuter creativity these days. Christian Mistress offers up timeless American Heavy Metal with roots planted firmly in the fertile soil of yore and branches ascending towards a glorious home in the sun! To be perfectly honest, my vengeful inner-adolescent was already expecting to be disappointed by this debut LP the moment I banged out an adoring review of their demo last year. Would they betray me with an ironic cover of Turbo Lover? Would they do a buncha coke and compose a four record "concept album" about dream catchers? In the past year my favorite Olympian headbangers have had ample opportunity to make every terrible decision imaginable and in every instance they have steadfastly remained on the path of honor (well, they did make one minor misstep but it was a nano-error of ultimately little significance). These six songs are a heady testament to their honesty and fortitude. Desert Rose, with its insistent riffing and devastating chorus, is the highlight for me but the refined version of Poison Path reins the ferocious energy of the 2009 demo for a potent flipside opener and Omega Stone is a bold step into previously uncharted ballad territory that erupts in an emotive climax perfectly suited to Christine Davis' throaty enunciation. In a perfect world, kids would burn down the stairway to heaven and make out to this song at the end of every prom. But this ain't a perfect world. Now about that demo...

"Whiskey woman don't you know that you are driving me insaaaaane..."

Honorable Mention:

AMEBIX
Monolith
(Back On Black)
"Out in the marshland and deep in the woods something stirs from the past to live once again..." I realize how ridiculous and pandering it is to mention this crusty 1987 release on a "best of 2010" list but Monolith was, is, and will always remain an immensely important record for me and this gorgeous gatefold 180 gram vinyl re-issue is a thing of beauty. The band's last word & testament until the reformation a few years ago, this was an undefinable and absolutely crushing bridge between punk, metal and dark psychedelia that has languished in out-of-print obscurity for two decades. If you have never experienced this record in its proper format, now is your chance. If you've worshipped this record as I have, now is your chance to dust off an old idol and invoke its magic once again (with lyrics and original art). Limited to 1000 and fully sanctioned by the band. THE POWER REMAINS!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

BEST OF 2010! (part 2)


BUDOS BAND
Budos Band III
(Daptone Records)

Disco, Bloody Disco! Every time I play this record I feel like an unshaven vice cop cruising the neon jungle in an undercover Cutlass with questionable intentions and three cigarettes dangling from my clenched teeth. AIDS does not exist, porn stars don't shave their muffs and Brooklyn isn't cool. Every Budos Band recording is a shimmering jewel but Budos Band III slithers and undulates with infectious perfection. They even manage to inject a Beatles cover with the nasty soul of a blaxploitation soundtrack circa 1972, sans filler and unnecessary vocals to maximize the guerrilla percussion attack (they call it "Afro-Soul"). Hypnotic bass lines lock you down in the shadow of the horns while flutes flutter and ominous organ flourishes promise that trouble is brewing in the apartment upstairs. When I was a kid, my step dad used to roll toothpick joints of seedy weed on the cover of his favorite Chuck Mangione record. Chuck Mangione wrote what I can only assume was the first international flugelhorn hit and Feels So Good was in regular rotation when it became the official score for New York State tourism commercials. Ace Frehley later provided the soundtrack for similar New York television spots when he scored an unexpected winner off his first solo record with a sleazy Russ Ballard cover. Maybe that's why playing air horns to Budos Band feels perfectly natural. As natural as a volcano, scorpion, cobra or some other earthbound entity that can fuck you up while looking good. Huey Lewis and the Bad News Bears over here are tougher than nails and heavier than whatever bestial bullshit you read about on facebook this week. I'm back in the New York Groove, pal.


Honorable Mention:
ABNER JAY
Last Ol' Ministrel Man
(Mississippi Records)
Today's honorable mention goes to the new Abner Jay 10" on Mississippi Records which makes available for the first time several unknown recordings from this primitive American folk genius. Abner made it to my best of 2009 list last December and this new one is right up there alongside that LP for pure unabashed soul-wrenching honesty in the blacker than blues tradition. These previously unheard tracks were recorded by a young fan in 1993 when Abner was on death's doorstep and his robust baritone voice had become a frail sliver of quivering emotion. Three months after this session he was gone forever. More songs about cocaine abuse, the extreme outposts of poverty and being cut by a woman with a knife that are almost certainly not metaphorical. "Baby, don't cut me so deep!"

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

BEST OF 2010 (part 1)

While not officially on the "Best of 2010" list, here are two of my very favorite things:
my lovely daughter, seen here showing the ol' man some affection, and Executioner's 1986 LP In The Name Of Metal.

Welcome back on this cold solstice eve and the night of the bloody red lunar eclipse, brothers and sisters. It's that time of year once again. Time for me to spew my wildly narcissistic and totally unqualified opinions about the cultural flotsam that I enjoyed most in 2010. I'll be posting one favorite release every day for the next 10 days (and of course I'll cheat by adding "honorable mentions"). It's just like The Twelve Days of Christmas except there's only 10 and God is dead. Don't blame me, the hacks over at Left Hand Path told me to. Enjoy while you still can...




ABSCESS
Dawn of Inhumanity
(Tyrant Syndicate/Peaceville)

Conflict of interest? Sure. Bias? You bet! Since when is metal (or music reviews for that matter) anything but subjective opinionated bullshit anyway? Now that we've cleared that up, Dawn of Inhumanity is the final piece in the scatological puzzle that is the Abscess legacy and what a masterful symphony of apocalyptic deviancy we have here! I'm afraid this one was swiftly buried in the understandable avalanche of enthusiasm surrounding Autopsy's reunion, which is a shame 'cause this is a fantastic swansong and undoubtedly one of the lost jewels of 2010. This is the kind of recording that screams for headphones, black candles, a ouija board and a baseball bat. Murky horrorscapes are your only relief from the bludgeoning deathpunk assault of new classics like Divine Architect of Disaster, Goddess of Filth And Plague, Torn From Tomorrow and the weird dirge of Dead Haze. Never Sane Again comes charging off the leash like a stinking gangrenous dog (don't take my word for it, I'm paraphrasing Chris Reifert) before collapsing into a Danny Coralles lead that will have Autopsy fans drooling like invalids until Joe "Kill" Allen's eerie bass line erupts into a headbanging stampede and the whole fucking cavalry spirals down into a psychedelic toilet of doom. Speaking of "Kill", the title track is practically a Von homage with its cryptic haiku and reverb incantations. In case your trip wasn't going bad enough already, Fenriz and Nocturnal Culto have decided to swing by the party with some unsettling news: you're fucked. It's probably completely coincidental but I love the way Dark Side Of A Broken Knife opens up like the old Cro Mags song Face The Facts. Coincidental or not, it makes me want to jump up and smash things. These are some of Reifert's most inspired lyrics to date and he delivers them with the insane ferocity of Oscar the Grouch herniating to shit on your grave. To top it all off, this final Tyrant Syndicate/Peaceville shiv comes sheathed in a beautiful digi-book featuring lyrics, photos and Reifert's psychederelict drawings. The cover art ain't bad either. If I may be so bold, this is a labor of love from the TRUE metal underground. Someone please release this on gatefold vinyl! Peaceville, are you listening?

Honorable Mention:
MACHETAZO
Necrocovered
(Parasitic Records)
Putting a covers collection on a list like this felt like cheating but the new Machetazo EP on Parasitic Records is a total ripper and features great Daniel "War Master" Shaw cover art! Chris Reifert perfectly channels the pissed off ghost of Carnivore with his guest vocals on Sex & Violence. "If you can't eat it or fuck it...KILL IT!!!!" R.I.P. Lord Petrus Steele. Take it easy...

Reifert at MDF just before the triumphant rebirth of Autopsy!
Photo by Carmelo Espanola.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday


Paint the devil on the wall.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Prayer

Sunday, November 14, 2010

LAWLESS WEEKEND


Friday, November 05, 2010

ROCTOBER


All you chumps, sleepers and non-believers who missed out on the latest issue of Destroying Angels can now rejoice! The new issue of Roctober magazine features my biographical introduction to deceased underground artist Jim Osborne and my eulogy to Frank Frazetta, reprinted in all their unabridged cut & pasted glory! In case you don't know, Roctober is a dense 136 page off-set monster of a 'zine that celebrates "unjustly obscure musical icons, enigmas, and eccentrics". Don't let the playful cover art fool you. This shit gets down to business, delving deep into the roots of rock 'n' roll and popular culture's darkest recesses. I promise you will learn something new about something old in every issue. Available everywhere badass independent publications are sold or on the Internet here. Support!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

THE DEVIL RIDES OUT!

CALLING ALL SONS OF FIRE & DAUGHTERS OF THE BLACK MOON!
ACHTUNG PORTLAND!
There has been some confusion about the location of the Portland WATAIN assembly. The unholy legions will be gathering at the recently renovated BRANX space (formerly the Loveland under Club Rotture) on Friday November 12th. Tickets are now available.
DON'T BREAK THE OATH.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Tom Savini Incident


So we drove down to Eugene, Oregon this weekend to catch Christian Mistress on Halloween for the final show of their first North American tour. They looked surprisingly unscathed after several weeks on the road and destroyed with a short but characteristically powerful set. I can't wait to see them in Europe some day so I'm not the only asshole banging my head in the room. It's no secret that I adore these Northwest rockers and they never fail to deliver the goods...

The Thrones presided with a killer set that consisted of new material, a welcome surprise for longtime fans who were getting bored with the same ol' set in recent years. What does all this have to do with Tom Savini, you ask?

Erratum: Mr. Preston says, "Wrong...same ol' warmed over shit set."
It's amazing what a good mood and Jamesons will do for the ears.

The real treat of the night occurred when Mr. Joe Preston directed my attention to a drunk man who was barreling through the doors of The Oak Street Speakeasy impeccably costumed as gore effects pioneer and stud actor/director/stuntman Tom Savini! I was actually stunned by the likeness. Needless to say, I had to get a photo with this genius of disguise. I approached him at the bar where he was having a difficult time standing up and ordering a drink at the same time and popped the question: "Are you dressed as Tom Savini?" His answer came in the form of a question. It was in fact the very same question I've heard from girlfriends most of my life right before I end the relationship: "Who's Tom Savini?" He went on to explain that he didn't have time for a Halloween costume and was actually dressed, "As myself!" Regardless, he was quickly pulled aside for the inevitable photo shoot.

As this picture was snapped he said, "So who's Tom Savini anyway?" "Don't worry," I shouted over the din of a lackluster Runaways cover band, "He's a ruggedly handsome actor. You'd love him!"

Will the real Tom Savini please stare intensely at the computer screen?

It was a fun night and a perfect close to perhaps my favorite holiday of the year. Not only that but today, November 3rd, is the real Tom Savini's birthday! That's right. The Sultan of Splatter celebrates his 64th year today and I personally send my most heartfelt birthday wishes his way. Tom Savini is of course responsible for engineering some of the most memorable moments in cinematic gore history and if you have even a passing interest in horror flicks you've undoubtedly marveled at his innovative effects and swaggering screen presence. His resume includes such genre defining classics as Deranged (1972), Martin (1977), Dawn of The Dead (1978), Maniac (1980), Friday the 13th (1980), The Burning (1981), The Prowler (1981), Creepshow (1982) and more recently From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), Planet Terror (2007) and Machete (2010). And let's not forget one of my personal favorite cult 80's films Knightriders (1980). Let's review:

Christian Mistress rocks.

Diamond Joe Preston is one swell fella'.

Tom Savini rules.

This guy does too.

Happy Birthday, Tom Savini!