Saturday, March 31, 2012

Opus Null-Alkotmanyos Anarchia LP (2012)

Following up their slew of 2011 demos, Opus Null's debut LP successfully synthesizes their previous work, while hinting at new directions for these bruising Budapesters.

Featuring some re-recorded songs from the Vas Nepe EP, Alkotmanyos Anarchia features several new songs, my favorite of which are "Melyseges tisztelettel," "Ciklus," and "Perdulet," which can serve as a survey of the album as a whole.  The former brazenly rips off an old Partisans guitar line for a mid-tempo romper-stomer, and is typical of previous Opus Null material.

"Ciklus" gets kinda math-rockesque: chiming drums and molasses-slow guitar rapidly transition into rapid-fire, slamming choruses and drunkenly slurred vocals.

"Perdulet" is more of a departure. Opening with disorienting guitar and chant-singing, minor notes interspersed with synthesizer make for a  mindfuck-this is the sort of stuff hinted at in previous ON work, but here they achieve a spooky, engaging piece of psych-punk.

I'm sure that Opus Null is referencing homegrown Hungarian traditions and sounds, but to me this sounds like a bunch of punks slowing down, freaking out, and exploring the limits of guitar haze.

GET RAD, DOODZ. Download includes cover art and lyrics, in Magyar. Opus Null lives here. If you don't know Magyar (like me), check 'em out on Facebook.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Outlook outlook

Just had the extreme pleasure of getting my dome rocked by Olympia, WA's Outlook at Oakland funplex The Hive the other night. I don't know what it is about Oly hardcore these days but everything that I've been hearing recently has been executed at an extremely high level of awesome. Weird TV, Hysterics, White Wards, and Crude Thought have all been a fucking thrill to discover over the past couple years, and now Outlook has blasted their way onto that list without a doubt.

Both live and recorded these kids fucking RAGE playing hardcore that's as aggro as your teenage older bro and as prog-damaged as your weird burnout aunt. They've got a new LP out called Our Time is Now as well as a couple of EPs all sporting absolutely raging politically radical, positive hardcore that is fiercely anti-generic. Tasteful gang vocals? Not just a possibility dear readers, but a fucking REALITY.

And if you're not twertching out with excitement already, Outlook is currently on an absolutely gargantuan US tour that has only just begun. So, if you live in the U$A, they're probably gonna be utterly slaying at a punk rock haven near you! Peep the approximately 300 tour dates below and cruise over to the Outlook site for more info AND free streams n' downloads AND a tour journal AND other stuff too. YEAH.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Alone & Forsaken XI: Over the Edge.

Having decided to descend from the Ivory Tower for a few days' revelry, I'm off to the Bay tomorrow for hijinks and low comedy (in that order).

I may or may not be posting in a drugged blur while Bayside, but in the meantime, here's a mix I made for the road trip.

Get weird.

1. Social Unrest-Rush Hour
2. Ultimo Resorte-Cemeterio Caliente
3. Raspberry Bulbs-I Will Not Pretend.
4. The Wipers-Over the Edge
5. The Vaselines-Son of a Gun
6. The Ropes-Down in Flames
7. Royal Headache-Eloise
8. Teenagers-I want to know
9. Tennis-Baltimore
10. Warsaw-They Walked in Line
11. The Vyllies-Ahia

Friday, March 23, 2012

P.S. Eliot-Introverted Romance in Our Troubled Minds LP (2009)

I'm posting this not out of a sense of obligation, or because it popped up in my inbox, but because this band is great and, although P.S. Eliot called it quits last year, they embody so much of what I love about punk, and loved when I was a 13-year-old rockin' out to Bane, and still, as an utterly nihilistic 26-year-old, want to believe in.

As far as I can remember, my 13-year-old self was into anarchy, feminism, youthful emotions, and a whole lot of insanity. Spilling yer guts to that special someone on a moonlit night in July. Drunkenly burbling out your emotions to yer friends as they patiently nod and sip on their .40s. Slam-dancing passionately, ignoring the hipster shitbirds who look at you reprovingly.

Yeah, P.S. Eliot, bad band name aside, sum up all of this residual level of emotions that still inhabit every punk album I listen to. DIG IT or forever find yourself asking why your high-school crush hates you. Lyrics lives heer.

Horrible Houses-Bullet Proof Nothing EP (2012)

*note: The image to the left has nothing to do with Horrible Houses; it showed up on a Google search of "horrible houses" and registers not at all with the one-man band outta Sweden. Deal with it. Ponx!*

It's 9 pm California time, and I've been drinking since 7. For some of you, that means crackin' a brew or two and gettin' loose with crew, but for me, dat means gettin' hyphy and not rememberin' what I say in dis heer blog powst.

Anyhoo, I think that this is the fourth Horrible Houses EP I've reviewed for Drug Punk. I should have a pretty good understanding of dis guy, but I don't. Says more for my aural aphasia than HH's incomprehensibility, but here we are, yeh?

Yeh. Personally, I fucking hate the Beatles, so I dunno why dude chose to use the subtitle "Beatles drum take" for the opener, "Bullet Proof Nothing." The song stands on its own. Super-duper-simple, bare-bones snare drum and echoing guitar notes set this tune apart: "waitin' for the morning ship that never came...."

Second song, "Walk it off," is, I swear to fugginchrist, resurrected from some 1964-era Chicago garage: echoing Farfisa organ single-note ricochet, repeated guitar line, minimal percussion, quietly-stated, oft-repeated guitar notes.....1960s! Shit! It goes on for 8 minutes, far longer than this Drug Punk has patience or brain cells for, but I've has also concluded that "Walk it off" is perfect musick fer scoopin' out dee ladeez at thee universitee-classez, y'dig? Nah. Didnthinkso.

"Dead Surfer's Valentine" is so fucking epic, it's almost cinematic. Opening with a wicked faded surf-guitar line, it incorporates '60s cinematic airplane noizes, the usual Horrible Houses super-minimal drumming, and what I think are humming airplane engine drone tunes. Fucking righteous, yeah?

Yo son we got beef.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Jagwar Pirates-Full Total Complete Bronzeage LP (2012)

This is the second band I've heard recently that combines surf rock grooves with noise/mathrock savagery (the other being Sarongs), and while I'm uncertain how this mutation came about, I heartily approve of it.

The weird thing about traditional surf rock is that, although it requires a high level of technicality to play (sayeth my musician friends), it sounds dirt simple. Not so with Tours, France's Jagwar Pirates. These spawn of St. Martin wear their chops on their sleeves, and "Full Total Complete Bronzeage" (jeez, what's with all the superlatives, guys?) is a heartily enjoyable slice of tech-surf.

"Rocket Surf" perfectly showcases the speed-fuelled licks the Pirates spit out: sped-up Ventures riffs combine with spazzy, laser-precise drumwork for an extended instrumental workout. "Agony of the shadow in the dark and crus[h?]ed forest of Chinon' [what the fuck kinda name is this?] is more contorted: snap time changes intersperse tension-building drum fills. "Surf in Indre et Loire" is an interesting use of guitars tuned for a metal song in surf structures. The whole album careens towards the sprawling, seven-minute climax of "Death Valley 37," which rivals Hella in intricacy and bizarrely compelling instrumental psychosis: ricochet drumfills and trebly, insistent guitar soloing smash it up nice 'n' proper.

....anyways, if you're looking for some fucked up, spazztastic surf fuckery to brighten your March afternoon, check out Jagwar Pirates. Out on Cocktail Pueblo Records.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Now Slaying in the Bay presents: Contemporary Topics in Bay Area Metalpunk/Death Metal

Vastum, imposing Carnal Law through brvtal stares

Brutality and the Solar Anus: An Introduction to the Slay Area's New Wave of Crusty Death Metal

Today's NSITB is more of an essay about a dark conspiracy currently making, and shaking, the foundations of DiY metal in the Bay Area. Over the last couple years there has been a profusion of foul, disgusting, brutal death metal being made here. The sinister kabal behind these goings-on is a collection of bands...bands linked by overt and covert interlocking directorates of brutality-bound weirdos.

So, I couldn't figure out what to put here and decided to look on I came up with this.

As someone who grew up in the 'burbs of the Midwest before finding my way to the Slay Area, I had come to associate the term “death metal” with kids pathetically attempting to imitate At The Gates and then going into a moshXcore breakdown part when they got too tired [in the interest of full disclosure: I was in just such a band at one point]. Or that fucking Black Dhalia Murder worshipping suburbo-tech garbage.

This batch of bands, however, has put their collective, boot-clad foot down, infusing their music with the sonic grit, extremism and fury pioneered by bands like Grave, Axegrinder, Bolt Thrower, and Autopsy. Though largely made in recent months, this music is fundamentally a product of the 1980s/ early '90s. These bands have geography and, in many cases, members in common, but the style they can be loosely said to share is what has made this scene particularly exciting. The bands they draw from as key influences can, roughly, be said to have been active in particular scenes at particular times when the lines between metal and punk were being radically challenged. Through the 80's and 90's punks in the UK, Scandinavia, Brazil, Japan, the US, etc. were increasingly turning towards death and doom metal for a new source of sonic brutality. Simultaneously, more adventurous metalheads sought to bring punk's speed, raw energy, and gnarly production to metal's...well...heaviness. By reaching back to this "common ancestor" in musical evolution, these bands have loudly hailed a new infusion of energy into ominous, crusty death metal.

Probably the best-known of these bands is Acephalix. These dudes have been releasing shit since 2007 and are one of those bands who it's a true pleasure to see evolve. The Acephalix of 2010 and before was an absolutely ruthless crust-machine, taking from the best of the European and Japanese traditions to create a musical corpus that sent spike-vested kids around the pit so fast it looked like a human disco ball. But, by the 2010 release of Aporia, the band's first, and thus far only, LP, changes were already brewing.

As Aporia joined the band's 7'' and demo recordings in drawing out the saliva of brutal crust fans the world over, Acephalix was undergoing a radical transformation. The band's self-reinvention was announced through the 2010 release of the Interminable Night tape on Deific Mourning, the label run by Dan, vocalist of Acephalix and Vastum. This tape, and the followup Flesh Torn in Twilight, solidified Acephalix as, perhaps above all else, being a brutal fucking death metal band. Indicatively, while venerable Bay Area crustitution Prank Records released their LP alongside the likes of Martyrdod and Sl(A)ng, Acephalix's two most recent tapes were recently pressed to vinyl by Greg Anderson's Southern Lord under the moniker Interminable Night.

It's a real testament to the skill behind Acephalix that the band was able to make such a dramatic transition so seamlessly. They're playing metal, but they came to it through being an amazing crust band, a fact that makes itself plain at first listen to the band's newer material. Impossibly heavy, so sonically filthy it leaves a residue in your ears, these are dramatic documents of the metal demon gaining the upper hand in its brawl with the punk/crust demon within Acephalix. But still, they remain locked in an unending battle whose product is the band itself. Combined with their thematic obsession with Bataille and the Id-embracing “dark side” of the psychoanalytic legacy, this band has proved itself unstoppable. If anyone opened up a Christ Hole big enough to stuff a bunch MORE awesome bands through, it was probably these guys.

Acephalix gettin' rowdy at Oakland's venerable Hazmat warehouse (RIP).

A more recent outgrowth of Acephalix has been Vastum. Basically this band is ¾ of Acephalix plus a new guitarist whose pedigree includes time served in Hammers of Misfortune and Saros. The result is predictably awesome: a death metal band so total and deliberate in its destruction that their sole release has put them on the radar as one of the country's most exciting underground metal bands. While decidedly within the death metal camp, Vastum includes more slow, thematic elements that give them a strong doomish overtone. The result is utter sonic punishment, music that's so heavy you feel the hits in your ribs but, not unlike Acephalix, catchy enough to drive you to the edges of sanity. The combination of doom's anticipation-unto-brutalization procedure with some of the most memorable metal riffs I've heard in the past year is not to be trifled with...their tape Carnal Law is one of the most evocative heavy metal releases I've ever had the pleasure of listening to. It unabashedly delivers on promises of brutality too easily made and broken by lesser bands. Seriously, this will wreck you.

I couldn't find any good live videos of Vastum, but this song has got to be one of the finest DM tracks I've had the pleasure of listening to...again, and again, and again, and...

The last few months has seen an outgrowth of new death metal bands in the Bay that share Acephalix and Vastum's dedication to bringing the most base and disgusting possibilities of the genre forward. San Jose's Bruxers are certainly amongst this number, quickly becoming a known and respected quantity in the Bay Area's metal underground, laying waste to crowd after crowd with crusty, Bolt Thrower-lovin' death metal. The brutal attack only lets up to open the way for crushing, mournful doom that makes the band's expansive sound complete. Youtube videos of this band are alot easier to come by than recordings right now, but that's about to change. The band is slated to release a cassette of new material on Deific Mourning as well as a cassette recording of their live set on Foothill College's KJFC that is coming out on Gay Scientist Recordings. Slay tuned.

Bruxers blasting their way through Muerte at Oakland's First Church of the Buzzard. This was part of their set of the first-ever Deadfest, an extravaganza of local yokels and other trve bvds spearheaded by Gregg Deadface.

Even more mysterious than Bruxers is the band Caffa. At this point, their public presence has been theoretical aside from one (awesome) show and the practice space video below. Here's what we do know: they have a vast arsenal of Medieval weaponry, some of which they deign to display live to the masses. The band is a supergroup of sorts, composed of the members of such local outfits as Your Enemy, DHC, Connoisseur, Swamp Witch and Bruxers who currently reside in castles. This is important to the mission of the band, which is dedicated to the promotion and perfection of Castle Warfare as both a strategic/tactical practice and a lifestyle. Due to the low castle-density in the Bay right now, this makes it hard for them to play very much. The video below, from the rehearsal dungeon at one of their imposing fortresses, is the most up-to-date document of goings-on with the band...

Fingers Crvst that 2012 will bring even more apocalyptic awesomeness with it!


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Honeycomb Bones-s/t EP (2012)

Hull, England's Honeycomb Bones dishes out four tracks of swaggering, tightly constructed psych rock on their third EP (for reviews of the first two, check out Dirty Sex Karma's review).

Opening with moaning, hissing feedback, "Catherine's Wheels" dives straight into a deep, chugging, freaked out riff with the singer talk-singing incantations in between tambourine claps-I really like the hypnotically repetitive dual guitar lines. "Devil in the Detail" is more of the same, although less suffocating: casually strummed acoustic guitar punctuate the distortion fog.

"Penny Black" reminds me of nothing so much as Joy Division's "As you said:' it's probably the pulsing beat overlaid with barely distorted guitar, although the beat here is more subtle than B. Albrecht's concoction. "Illuminator" is a rousing conclusion to the EP, with a full-on psychedelic freakout that has a snazzy, gunshot-sharp beat laying out a dance groove.

Honeycomb Bones won me over with this, and I recommend checking 'em out-you can download the EP here, and get info on shows/releases/etc. here.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Mystery Ship-S/t EP (2012)

Back when I was a teenage wasteoid punkrocker, I hated classic rock, to the point of yelling at friends who liked Led Zeppelin when we'd get drunk. But with age comes wisdom, they say, or in any case maybe more self-consciousness. Somewhere around 20, when I started smoking weed, I decided Neil Young was a'ight, and since then I've even been known to countenace "Immigrant Song" on the jukebox.

Enter Seattle's Mystery Ship, a buncha dudes blasting out unpretentious good times rock. What immediately leaps out at you when the needle drops is the watertight song construction: the guitars are perfectly in tandem, the vocals phrased just right, and the rhythm section is solid (Travis'* drumwork demonstrating just how important tight drumming is to a band's overall sound).
"Lady from Alexandria" is built around a massive guitar lead and lockstep drumming, with Alex singing about, uh, scientists, I think...they are called Mystery Ship, after all. It's the guitars that set this apart, with the bridges worthy of Sabbath.

"Medusa" is more heavy rock, swaggering along while Alex completely nails the Neil Young tone. "Wide Eyed Girl" is my favorite song here: a driving, old-time rock 'n' roll raveup perfect for arrhythmically dancing around your room in an alcoholic daze, while "King Frong Blues" goes in for heavily baked electric blues.

Most of the music I listen to doesn't come close to the production quality and songwriting capabilities of this EP, which is all the more impressive since it's a DIY release.

Check out Mystery Ship if you're in the Northwest; if not, listen to EP, and get a copy, here!

*Apologies to Travis for originally calling him Tripp. Whoops. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Crimson Scarlet-Sanctuary 7" (2011)

The idea of a goth punk band like Crimson Scarlet hailing from Santa Barbara is wildly implausible-isn't it too nice out for the black rain jackets, most of the year?

Whatever, Crimson Scarlet cruises through two tracks of crisp, well-constructed death rock/goth/whateverthefuck on this 7". I'm not really an expert on the genre-really, the Mob is where it starts and ends for me-but the record's a good argument for quality over quantity: "Sanctuary" has a driving, catchy surf riff, and "Two Kinds of Red" goes in for a dirge-y somnolence that for some reason reminds me of Southern Death Cult, despite the female vox.

Fans of Cemetery will prolly dig this album, which you can hear and buy here.

Jimmy Files-The Nazz LP (2011)

Birmingham, Alabama's Jimmy Files drops eleven tracks that vary wildly on this, I believe his first, outing. Opening with a churning, crunching bit of garage hiss ("Low Lane"), the album shapes up a bit on "sad eyes," with identifiable guitar lines and an offbeat rhythm. "Sad Buddha" showcases the synth-ier end of the album: droning, distorted guitar notes hum around synth yawnings and muttered asides that are indecipherable.

The second half of the album feels like a series of half-sketched ideas, with pulsing beats and thoroughly trashed distortion everywhere. "Alien Kids" is the best track here, with a coherent rhythm (as in, it sounds like it's trying to fall apart), and sort of reminds me of Horrible Houses.  "Be a Lover!" is, frankly, self-indulgent acoustic wankery.

Overall, there's some interesting stuff on here, and if you're into the sort of lo-fi scuzz frequent on Drug Punk, you'll prolly dig it. Peeps it here.