Disposable column: Musical Darwinism – 2004

Originally published in ‘zine issue #30, 2004

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with J.R. Hayes

I went “into the listening room” with J.R. and played him some records. Here are excerpts from his first impressions of each …

Beaten Back To Pure The Burning South
(Dark Reign)
Way too early in the record for an intro like this. This is like a track five thing, you know what I’m saying? What are we on, track two? I mean, so far this is kind of like Buzzov•en, southern hardcore. I mean, this isn’t bad stuff. If it’s from the south, it’s cool, you know? I like it. I wish they were faster, a lot faster, like way faster. The packaging’s pretty fucking cool. I dig this. It’s pretty cool. It’s a little too midpaced for me, but the guys got riffs; he’s bringing the riffs to the table. The singer sounds like he likes to break a beer bottle over his head every now and then, and I don’t know where from the south that they’re from, but they’re from the south, so that’s cool, you know? Yeah, I give this, uh … three thumbs up. ■

Agent Steel Order of the Illuminati
Oh god. This is all about like … I mean, this reminds me of Flotsam and Jetsam, you know? Just like old ‘80s American thrash metal. Well executed, but too heavy on the musicianship, not heavy enough on the hate. The hate right now is maybe on about one. We need more hate in this thrash. The cover looks like a lost Journey record which is kinda cool, so points for that. The singer is something completely out a time warp too. I mean, anybody who misses Joey Belladonna needs to buy this record. This is all about some operatic thrash. This gets one thumb up for the execution. It’s kinda like if you’re judging like, say, a gymnast or a dancer or something like that, it’s like, good marks on the difficulty, but kind of a cliché routine. Lack points on the style. Not vicious enough for me. I mean, this is a good record. It’s up somebody’s alley; it’s just not really my thing. It’s thrash but it’s straddling that line between thrash and power metal. The singer’s just like a little too retro for me, but if people like old Queensrÿche, shit with this kind of vibe, they might eat this up. So props to Agent Steel. ■

Chainletter My Parents Fuck Me
I really have no idea what to say. I mean, it kinda almost has that Anal Cunt disregard for its audience; just strangeness. Interesting perverse sense of humor, but I really don’t know where they’re trying to go with this. This is one of those CDs where every track is a little bit different, every track is coming from a different angle, so it’s hard to get overall perspective on the concept. It’s kind of anarchic grindcore. They’re doing whatever they want to do, they’re having a good time, I’m sure they laughed their asses off when they made it, but it’s a demo. It’s what you would expect out of a demo, so good for them. I hope their parents are good in the sack. ■

My Fate Happiness Is Fiction
First line, first song on the album: “God, Satan, Shit.” How can you argue with that? They have a song called “Sickness” but they took all the vowels out. I guess they don’t like vowels. Good production; production’s heavy. Well, it’s really, really, really bargain basement thrash stuff. It’s not fast. The drummer’s definitely not a basket case; he’s playing it pretty straight. This band’s trying to do kind of heavy groove nu metal stuff. To me it sounds like Disturbed; that’s the first thing that pops into my mind. It’s got that kind of groove, it’s got the kind of gothy lead singer. I mean, they’re from Finland and that’s cool. I like Finland; I’m a big supporter of the country. I think more bands should come from Finland, but this band’s definitely into too much commercial shit for me. You know when you go to see a band and the guitar player’s playing his guitar like two inches off the floor and he’s all hunched over like the dude from Korn? This is those kind of riffs. This is the kind of riffs you play when you’re all hunched over. And I don’t like riffs that are like that. I like riffs that people have to stand up straight to play, but that’s just me. I don’t have any money, I’m usually pretty broke, but I would bet all the money in the world that this guitarist plays hunched over. I don’t know, this is sooooo not my thing. This needs to stop. This nees to come out right now. ■

Failure Trace demo 1
This kind of reminds me of Enemy Soil, dare I say it. It’s a demo, it’s primitive as hell, it’s crusty, it’s grindy, it’s angry, it’s good. It just needs something else. It needs anything else to distinguish it from … I don’t know, I like the vibe a lot, but there’s nothing that makes it jump out at you, like the drums or the guitar or the vocals; it’s all good but not unique, so it’s missing that extra personality that it needs to rise out of the muck, you know what I’m saying? But their heart’s definitely in the right place, so I give them props on that. I would say out of 100 thumbs, this is about 73 thumbs. And they’re from Thailand, so I don’t know how easy or difficult it is to get a band together in Thailand, but good for them. Hopefully they’ll rock Thailand. ■

Cult of Luna Salvation
Oh man, this is gonna be rough. These guys are audacious. “Coupling mountainous sonic audacity with organic openhearted honesty.” Interesting. This is good stuff, it’s well executed, it’s well produced. I think some of the arrangements are a little bit overdone; certain parts I think go on longer than they should. This is in that Neurosis, Isis kind of vein, but kind of along the lines of the later, post-Times of Grace Neurosis, where there’s a little more subtlety in the arrangements, but it’s not quite as unique and creative as old Neurosis kind of stuff. It just kind of more sits, knows where it stands, the tempos don’t change too much. It’s good and it’s heavy, but there’s not that sense of the unknown where it just feels familiar. It doesn’t feel, like with old Neurosis, where you never know where they’re gonna take you, you know what I’m saying? It’s not nearly as much fun when it’s like that. But these guys are a good band. I really wish Earache would put out more stuff like this as opposed to the stuff they normally put out, but that’s my opinion. ■

Lair of the Minotaur Carnage
(Southern Lord)
It’s definitely metal from the old school, back when Motörhead was still influencing metal bands, you know what I mean? You can definitely hear tons of Frost in there too. It’s nice and thick and noisy, it’s got that High On Fire type of vibe. I bet you a million dollars these guys fuckin’ play with no shirts on. They have to play with no shirts on, probably bullet belts or something. It’s good and heavy but it doesn’t sound dated. The production’s really good. It still sounds very contemporary. I like the cover. Kind of reminds me of Pleasure to Kill by Kreator, which is always a good thing. I mean, the album’s called Carnage. It’s on Southern Lord. I dunno, what’s not to like, really? I’m down with this. These guys are doing exactly what they want to do, and that’s cool. It’s heavy metal. Fuckin’ thrash, man. Awesome. I don’t know what else I can say about this. ■

Spinal Cord Remedy
It’s Polish death, man; it’s Polish death. It’s the way they do death in Poland. The guitar player’s trying to get melodic on your ass a little bit, kind of like Carcass does on Heartwork, you know? But that kind of stuff annoys me because I just like it being brutal. I don’t need the extra guitar solos and all that stuff. If you dig something like Vader or the early Pestilence stuff, this isn’t that bad. You can tell they probably listened to Meshuggah a few times too. They’re trying to do some of that off-time rockin’, which is cool if you’re into rockin’ off-time. Did I mention that this is Polish death? It’s death metal from the Eastern Bloc of Europe where they like death metal a lot and they do a lot of death metal. I’m not really into this whole scene. I mean, I like Entombed, I like Carnage, I like the first Dismember. I don’t really know what’s been going on with death metal in the past fuckin’ 20 years in Europe. I mean, I’m glad these guys don’t sound like they’re trying to rip off At the Gates like everybody else is ripping off At the Gates nowadays, and that’s good, but like I was mentioning earlier––Entombed, Dismember––this is a direct descendent of that type of death metal. If you like this kind of death metal, this is pretty well done. There’s no lame choruses where he’s trying to sing like the dude from Depeche Mode, there’s not any cheesy Cradle of Filth keyboard bullshit. It’s death metal, you know? If you like death metal, this is some more death metal for you. I would say, out of, let’s see, seven thumbs, I’d give it five opposable thumbs for this album. ■


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