Altar Ego Art
Not having a tolerance for subtle acoustic intros, I immediate went to track two, only to be greeted by death/thrash metal with Sepultura-esque vocals and chunky groove parts. Nothing especially exciting; well-produced, though. It might’ve sounded much better eight years ago, but still a nice LP with competent musicianship and adequate heaviness. Not too bad for a shot of straight-up “‘90s style” metal.
(by R. Mason) ■
Failure Fantastic Planet
Another excellent release from this sadly overlooked band. Their consistently strong songwriting talent sets them apart from others of their ilk. Failure possesses the one ingredient which separates mainstream alternative from true alternative: vision. And this is why they will most likely never achieve the recognition which they rightfully deserve.
(by J.R. Hayes) ■
Pulley Esteem Driven Engine
The first song denounces bands who “cash in.” As Alanis Morissette says, isn’t it ironic? After I stopped laughing, I actually got into this album of melodic, poppy cashcore. It’s got all the typical Epitaph elements, done well, and features your fave entrepreneurs from other Epibands, Ten Foot Pole and Face To Face among them. If you have a sense of humor and aren’t swamped down in MaximumRockNRoll standards of what is and isn’t punk, you’ll really enjoy this.
(by R. Mason) ■
Pro-Pain, Voivod, Crisis, Deadbolt, and Desolate Angel
at Warped, Baltimore, MD
by J.R. Hayes
Although I didn’t catch Desolate Angel at this show, I unfortunately saw them play with Overkill a few weeks back, so I’ll talk about that set. Despite the exploits of their utterly insane bassist, there wasn’t much to enjoy. The only thing worse than bad metal is average metal, which Desolate Angel are. At least bad metal is memorable.
Deadbolt are the kind of band in which the guitarists only need one string and one arm. They played one monotonous chugga-chugga riff after another. These guys sound like Crowbar with no imagination and less saturated fat intake.
Crisis stole the show. I’m not going to say that Karyn Crisis is one of the coolest female vocalists there is—that is not fair to her. She lays waste to 99 percent of all vocalists, period. The other thing that impresses me most about this band is that they don’t rely on their vocalist to set them apart. They have an all-around original sound, and that in itself makes them enjoyable.
Alright, before I talk about Voivod, there are some things that must be said. Some bands can endure lineup changes; Voivod is not one of those bands. I’m right and you’re wrong, so live with it! Anyway, to be fair, this new incarnation of Voivod sounded good live. They played a well-balanced set, incorporating their best new songs in with old favorites like “Tribal Convictions” and “Nuclear War.” Although quite good, I personally cannot stomach Voivod as a power trio.
Pro-Pain are special to me in that they are the harbingers of an entirely new type of music. I refer to it as shitcore (I love the way that rolls off the tongue). For you beginners, I’ve included a few hints on how to be a great shitcore band. First, write 6,000 heavy (but not too heavy, otherwise you might sound good) riffs that don’t variate one iota. Arrange the riffs as poorly as possible at a constant mosh tempo. Next, throw some uninspired, gruff NYC-style toughguy vocals on top of that for that extra touch of dullness. And third, when playing shitcore live, make sure to look as bored as possible (hint: pretend you’re at the dentist’s office), and to sound even worse than you do on record. Follow these simple instructions and you, too, faithful reader, can play shitcore just like Pro-Pain. ■
Originally published in ‘zine issue #18, 1997