Disposable music reviews

Originally published in ‘zine issue #23, 2000

Abstain World Full of Zombies
Abstain is a terribly average band doing a terribly average version of something Napalm Death started and ended a long time ago. I’m so sick of shit like this. Just because a record has a blast beat on it doesn’t automatically qualify it as “extreme.” Shit, if I gave my cat a line of crack and a snare drum, he could play a fucking blast beat. These guys want to play a by-the-book grindcore style that’s as boring as it is obsolete. If I want to hear this kind of thing done with skill and forethought, I’ll stick with my Discordance Axis and Pig Destroyer records. Death to bland grind!
(by R. Mason) ■

Avulsion The Crimson Foliage Hit
(625 Thrashcore)
Avulsion are very dynamic in that they play at a wide variety of speeds, such as fast, faster, absurdly fast, and perilously fast. I like Avulsion if only because they are one of the few grind bands who seem to actually care what their guitars sound like. If you like Assück or Benümb, then you will like this. Did I mention this record is fast? Well, it is. And it’s fucking good too. Still not sold? What are you, retarded?
(by J.R. Hayes) ■

Bal-Sagoth The Power Cosmic
(Nuclear Blast)
Remember that kid in your high school with the greasy black hair, trench coat and army fatigues who’d always try to get you to come to his mom’s basement to show you his Warhammer 5000, and thinking this was an invitation to play hide the bologna, you kicked the kid’s ass? Well, now there’s a band for misunderstood role-playing fanatics across the world. Bal-Sagoth plays completely over-the-top epic metal. We’re talkin’ symphonic keyboards, dialogue between songs performed by old Welsh men babbling about “the 13 cryptic prophecies of Mu,” and about every other over-dramatic gesture they could conceive of—just completely wonderful escapist metal to listen to over and over and over again while sending your Orks out on a mission to annihilate! Great metal for social inadequates!
(by R. Mason) ■

Blo.Torch 1999 album
(Wicked World)
Man, for a label as downright fucking retarded in recent years as Earache, they sure have been picking up some decent bands on the Wicked World imprint. These guys apparently filled their bio with all sorts of completely unobvious influences, maybe in the hopes of distracting the listener from the blatant At The Gates influence evident here (and in every other Scandinavian band for the last three years), but they do it very well and do manage to bring new ingredients into the Gothenburg recipe often enough to make this record worth owning. Great riffs, inventive arrangements, and top-notch musicianship. A really good first LP, and I’m excited to see what their next will sound like.
(by R. Mason) ■

Deceased Supernatural Addiction
If death metal was indeed dead, then Deceased just fucking resuscitated it. You know, I could sit here and tell you that this is an outstanding album; that the riffs, the song-writing, the production, and the musicianship are all top-notch; but this record is more important than that. This record, like its predecessor, Fearless Undead Machines, is a declaration of war on the Korns and the Emperors and the Broken Hopes of the world that have been cheapening and defacing metal for the last 10 years. A lot of bands pay tribute to metal by trying to recapture what it once was; Deceased pays tribute to metal by showing you what it can still become. My friends, death metal’s not just alive and well … it’s out for some goddamn revenge.
(by J.R. Hayes) ■

Dimitri Ehrlich As Nervous As You
If you’re going to try the “moody introspective singer/songwriter” thing, then you better have either a good hook or some damn good lyrics or both if you want to avoid putting me in a coma. This guy has a decent voice, but the guitars sound marginally out of tune and the drum machine sounds synthetic in the worst way (imagine listening to the percussion on Madonna’s “Borderline” underwater). Oh, and there’s a song called “What the Buddha Said,” which I think warrants a hearty “fuck off you pretentious shit-hole” from yours truly.
(by J.R. Hayes) ■

Dream Child Reaching the Golden Gates
(Metal Blade/NSR)
Boy, Metal Blade sure has been licensing some good stuff lately, such as Dream Child, a rare French export of fine, classy power metal recalling the glory days of (pre-Andi Deris) Helloween (especially obvious in the rich harmonies of the opening track, “To Our Dreams”). This band does a majestic take on the Eurometal sound without sounding dated or silly at any point—quite an accomplishment, especially considering all the attention paid to “retro” these days. Excellent!
(by R. Mason) ■

Electric Wizard Supercoven
(Southern Lord)
The bellbottoms … dear god, the bellbottoms! For most of you, reading the name and album title should be clue enough, but for all the “special” people out there, the word is doom. What we have here is what I like to call “an extended marijuana jam.” How do I know they smoke marijuana, you ask? Look at the bellbottoms, for christ’s sake! Look at them! Luckily for us, Electric Wizard is very good at what they do and Supercoven delivers the doom rock goodies in spades.
(by J.R. Hayes) ■

Flotsam & Jetsam Unnatural Selection
(Metal Blade)
I tend to put Flotsam & Jetsam in the same league as Overkill and other bands who somehow find the will to continue after years upon years of playing second fiddle to the Megadeths (yecch!) of the world, consistently releasing strong efforts, if nothing to write home about in the progress department. Flots has been moving away from the straight-up thrash of No Place For Disgrace since Cuatro, but this new one indulges in the start/stop, mechanical riffing of Pantera a mite too much for my taste, not really coming across as a forced attempt to sound modern, but just trying to introduce some new ideas into the mix. Personally, I can’t see myself ever listening to this again, but I think fans of the band will be very happy with this record.
(by R. Mason) ■

Gorgoroth Incipit Satan
(Nuclear Blast)
Over the past couple of years, I’ve all but lot interest in the black metal genre. Too much in the hype department and not enough good bands to back it up. Now that genre staples have been moving in a more “progressive” direction, those still left with a Transylvanian hunger for undiluted “black fucking metal” will be extremely happy to hear Incipit Satan. Genre-bashing aside, this is a great disc of interesting, well-written and evil-as-all-fuck black metal. A couple of the tracks even venture out into melodic territory, a la Rotting Christ, and the production is clean enough to really drive home the excellent musicianship, not to mention that “Litani de Satan” scared the bejesus out of me.
(by R. Mason) ■

Grave Digger Excalibur
(Nuclear Blast)
Having been a fan of Grave Digger since Heavy Metal Breakdown, I was of course thrilled to get my hands on their latest installment of their recent “concept” albums, this one based on the legend of King Arthur. More on the aggressive, Accept-inspired side of German metal (as opposed to sissypants Gamma Ray and their ilk), this album starts out furiously and rarely lets up. Fantastic German metal, and the story itself is well-written and interestingly executed throughout the course of the CD. An inspiring and vital record from a band approaching its 20th year.
(by R. Mason) ■

Hades Savior$elf
(Metal Blade)
Was there a demand for a Hades reformation that I wasn’t aware of? I can’t honestly remember these guys being that noticeable even back in the day, they being more on par with maybe Realm or Paradox and never really rising to even cult status despite a couple of respectable LPs. Maybe I was wrong, ‘cause here they are again with a new LP. Some good, ambitious ideas here, a really good riff here ‘n’ there, intelligent lyrics, a mix hampered by a terrible drum sound, and in general everything sounding pretty much as they left it … not something I’ll be spinning often myself, but hey, it doesn’t suck.
(by R. Mason) ■

Human Drama Solemn Sun Setting
(Hollows Hill)
This may be a terribly misleading reference, but this reminds me of some of the darker ’80s pop like maybe early Phil Collins or a more organic Soft Cell. Anyway, Human Drama apparently has a black cloud hanging over them and they are determined to sing and sing some more about how increasingly somber it is making them. Which is fine, because they display a good sense of songcraft and they arrange their strings and piano with a great deal of taste. However, the album as a whole lacks any dynamic, which makes the 16 tracks feel just a bit excessive. Definitely a good listen in small doses, though.
(by J.R. Hayes) ■

Iron Monkey Our Problem
A pleasant surprise. Our Problem has got these monstrous “movin’ the mountain” type of riffs made up of big, meaty chord progressions. More “Into the Void” than “Children of the Grave,” if you know what I mean. The vocalist has a very shrill, thin voice but I think it works well to contrast the thickness of the music. (If you dig this band I highly recommend you pick up Paegan Terrorism Tactics by Acid Bath.) Definitely a formidable heavy rock record … on Earache, no less!
(by J.R. Hayes) ■

King’s X Tape Head
(Metal Blade)
While I salute Metal Blade’s good taste in picking up this painfully overlooked band, Tape Head is unfortunately not one King’s X’s strongest efforts. There are a few great songs here, and the soulful pipes of Doug Pinnick sound as good as ever, but ever since the Brendan O’Brien-produced Dogman LP (1994), these guys seem to have been stuck in a holding pattern of letting faux-heavy riffs and recycled vocal harmonies compensate for what’s perhaps a band out of new ideas. Don’t get me wrong: in terms of content, songwriting, and talent, this album is doubtlessly more innovative and just all-around better than about anything else coming out these days, and I have faith that King’s X can pull another great LP or two out their hats yet, but I can’t call this one a favorite of mine.
(by R. Mason) ■

Metal Church Live
(Nuclear Blast)
Wow, a full CD of Metal Church circa 1986! This is amazing! Fans of the debut LP and The Dark will love this excellent display of one of metal’s best and overlooked bands in all of its raw perfection. According to the liner notes they didn’t do much refining in the studio, and while I’m a little skeptical of that claim in some parts of this disc, it’s impossible to complain given how awesome it is to hear “ The Dark” live! Go out and buy this immediately.
(by R. Mason) ■

Night In Gales Nailwork
(Nuclear Blast)
Listening to this CD was like relaxing in my favorite chair and kicking back an ice-cold Coors Cutter. Sure, it looked like metal; it was made by the same people that made other metal; and it even tasted like metal. However, it was not metal! Now, don’t get me wrong—this is a good record. It just follows the growing trend of just cramming every style of music known to man into each song. Interesting to listen to, Nailwork is a very sound technical effort, but if you’re looking for the mosh I recommend picking up something else.
(by Blake Midgette) ■

Pig Destroyer Explosions In Ward 6
(Clean Plate)
Originally released as a CD on Reservoir, this LP is a grade-A example of audio brutality. Bandmembers JR Hayes, Brian Harvey, and strong-arm man Scott Hull all fully complete their musical mission with this record. It contains mutilated vocals, highly bipolar drums, creepy sound clips, and tons of six-string ridiculousness. This record has more hustle than Larry Flint and is filled to the brim with great tunes. If the kids from Columbine weren’t in Hell, they’d be in prison equipped with two things: a comfy pair of kneepads and this overly intense, high speed piece of rock. If you’re a balls-to-the-wall grind metal fan, your grocery list should read, “milk, eggs, Pig Destroyer LP,” and if that’s not enough to make you skip work and buy this album, you’re probably either a racist or that retard from Life Goes On.
(by Jake Cregger) ■

Ricanstruction Liberation Day
I was pleasantly surprised by this album. The simple, no-bullshit guitar lines give it a kind of spazzy punk rock feel, but the real attraction here is the dynamic rhythm section. I like the fact that the bass lines compliment rather than duplicate the guitars, and the way the extra conga-type percussion widens the scope of these otherwise simplistic songs. I don’t like the fact that the singer occasionally sounds like David Coverdale rapping, but hey, I’ll take what I can get. These guys definitely have their own sound, and that’s always a good thing.
(by J.R. Hayes) ■

Sally 1999 album
(The Music Cartel)
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Black Sabbath must be the most flattered fucking band on Earth. Proving there is no such thing as excess in doom rock, the fuzzy distortion is cranked up to a level that pushes the limits of good taste. I picture five stringy-haired, bellbottomed guys on a stage, all plugged into one 15-foot-tall distortion pedal with a big portrait of Tony Iommi painted on it. If you’re looking for full-on Sabbath-AC/DC worship a la Cathedral, then here you go.
(by J.R. Hayes) ■

Sinner The Second Decade
(Nuclear Blast)
The teutonic mullet-metal of Mat Sinner and crew might remind you of ’80s-era Priest, with simple arrangements, emphasis on big, dumb-but-perfect riffs, and guitar wankery out the wazoo. This is a great collection of the straight-up, unapologetic metal these guys have been kicking out forever. I hope they finally get some recognition in the States. I’d sure like to see the Sinner back catalog issued domestically.
(by R. Mason) ■

Soul Reaper Written In Blood
(Nuclear Blast)
These guys play aggressive, technical death metal in the vein of old Entombed or Dismember, but as you may have guessed, they aren’t as good as those bands. The songs definitely have an overt melody about them, but still manage to sound heavy. Now on to the complaint department: I’m all for some clean, melodic guitar work, but I don’t think acoustic guitars have any place in death fucking metal (what’s next—a fucking pan flute?). I don’t care how much acoustic guitar work you put on your album, guys, but no one is ever going to mistake you for the fucking Eagles!
(by J.R. Hayes) ■

Steel Prophet Messiah
(Nuclear Blast)
Steel Prophet is Maiden-esque metal, possibly reminding one of a more polished, less ballsy Omen or maybe a more stripped-down Walls of Jericho-era Helloween. The vocalist is really good, though I wish he had a little more bite in his voice. The music is well-arranged and meticulously played, though lacks any real excitement upon first listen. Fans of mid-’80s American power metal should find this on par with Warrior and Desitny’s End. Really enjoyable if nothing terribly new.
(by R. Mason) ■

Stratovarius Infinite
(Nuclear Blast)
If you’re unfamiliar with Stratovarius, they are among the upper crust of melodic Eurometal (the band hails from Finland) along with Helloween and Gamma Ray, with a more pop-oriented leaning come chorus time, similar to Europe’s first LP (note: before they cheesed out with Final Countdown, Europe was an excellent melodic Scandanavian metal band on par with just about any of the great bands of the time!). That said, Infinite is chock full of loudly mixed keyboard passages, soaring vocals, immaculate musicianship, and extremely catchy metal anthems. My personal favorite of the bunch is the second track, “Milennium,” a great example of what Stratovarius can do when they drop the overblown dynamics and go for the throat. Still, an excellent band at what they do, even if the crass American in me finds this particular type of German pompmetal a wee bit hilarious.
(by R. Mason) ■

Usurper Visions from the Gods
(Nuclear Blast)
What I wouldn’t give to be Tom G. Warrior’s attorney right now. One listen to Usurper and you’d know why. I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard such a blunt ripoff in my life. Don’t get me wrong, Usurper is an exceptional ripoff, and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this CD despite myself, but this is basically a tribute band. The singer has Warrior’s grunts and “Hey!”s down cold and they went so far as to mimic the guitar sound of classic Frost.

I guess I shouldn’t be hard on this band. I mean, Count Raven (among numerous others) have made a living cloning Sabbath for years, and this is honestly a really good album. So rather than going on a long-winded rant about bands who mimic their influences, I’ll just say that Usurper has made a really good Celtic Frost record for those of you who are interested. Can’t wait to hear their cover of the Cold Lake LP.
(by R. Mason) ■

“Horrors in a Retarded Mind”
March Metal Meltdown, South Jersey Expo Center, Pennsauken, NJ
by J.R. Hayes | photos by Amanda Curtis

“Am I prepared for two full days of metal?” I must have asked myself this question at least a thousand times during the four-hour drive to Somefuckingville, NJ for the “March Metal Meltdown” 2000. We arrived in town just a CH behind schedule, promptly checking into our illustrious four-star motel (note: in “J.R. land,” any motel that has a giant neon arrow pointing to it is a four-star motel) before heading off to consume a heroic dose of glorious metal. The fact that my band was playing the first day meant that I didn’t have to pay $55 for a two-day pass. Hey, that was $55 I could blow on records as far as I was concerned. So with my spiffy new laminated pass in one hand and my trusty bottle of Percocets in the other, I took a deep breath and readied myself for two days and four stages worth of death metal armageddon.

The building in which the meltdown took place consisted of three gigantic warehouse-style rooms connected by a lobby area. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “How can there be four stages if there are only three rooms?” Well, the promoters decided that it would be in everyone’s best interest to put two stages side by side in the smallest of the three rooms. Then they innocently hung a black curtain between those stages—damning evidence of a dangerously retarded mind at work. I mean, if you can’t see the other stage, then you certainly won’t be able to hear the other stage, right? Fucking morons. Needless to say, that room sounded like a space shuttle taking off for two days straight.

The lobby area was in perpetual motion. Metalheads either scrambling to catch their favorite band or searching in vain for a broom closet so they could feed semen to their cow-assed and/or pig-faced girlfriends. The biggest sucker of the weekend, though, had to be the guy that shelled out around $125 for official Slipknot coveralls, but that’s a story for another time. What do you say we talk about some bands, eh? Right on.

Day One

I had planned to catch the one-two punch of Beerzone and Fatal Aggression based solely on their so-bad-they’re-good band names, but unfortunately, while trying to sort out where to put our equipment and such, I missed out. That really sucks, ‘cause I’m sure they were both incredible (note: biting sarcasm). Things started turning sour early when we learned that Cattle Press would not be playing as originally thought. I was wicked sad, but not as sad as Rich. Rich looked like he’d just sat down for a big, juicy steak and had instead been served a stinky pile of fresh dick. He was wicked, wicked sad.

Photo of Doro Pesch performing

As you can imagine, my day only got better when the Bad Luck 13 Riot Extravaganza decided to start a fire and get the room in which my band was playing (the one with two stages) shut down five minutes before our set was to begin. Eventually the room’s stages resumed, and we kicked out a decent set, although I’m sure the by-now-infamous two-stage room made us sound like a Namanax cover band (note: Namanax is synonymous with shit, crap, doodoo, and so on. So basically, I’m saying we probably sounded pretty vile. If you’re unfamiliar with Namanax and are thinking about listening to them for a point of reference, don’t do it! It’s not worth it. You’ll just have to trust me on this one.). For better or worse, our job was done, and it was now time to go (ahem) “enjoy” (read: with paralyzing fear and apprehension) some metal.

Things started to look up when Spirit Caravan took the stage and rocked out like a sumbitch, achieving good sound on the stage my band played, which up to that point had seemed about as possible as Billy Milano turning down a box of Twinkies. Other than Spirit Caravan, the horrifying sound of that stage mercilessly killed off every other band I saw on it that day, including Dave Witte’s new project, Burnt By The Sun.

A little later on, I shot over to the Nightfall stage in another room to catch Impaled Nazarene, who I’d been wanting to see for a long time. They put on a good show, but the weak sound undermined their performance and I walked away feeling woefully disillusioned with the metalfest experience. Too much bass and too little guitar was the story for almost every band on this stage, which would be fine if this was “February Funk Fallout,” but it fucking wasn’t. I need crushing guitars—is that too much to ask? By the way, S.O.D. blew, in case you were wondering.

Photo of Angelcorpse performing

Day Two

Day two was a bit more enjoyable and eventful. A fully clothed Jasmin St. Claire, the porn star, made an appearance, charging hordes of unwitting, undersexed metal fans American fucking dollars to get their picture taken with her. As if to say, “You know, Jasmin, I like the way you fuck other guys so much that I just have to give you my money.” Many a metalhead was hoodwinked on that day, let me tell you.

Due to vehicular difficulties we didn’t arrive until about 5:00 p.m., so I ended up missing the bound-to-be-legendary Lo-Phat (note: more biting sarcasm). On a brighter note, I did manage to catch Deceased at the Relapse stage, and they totally stole the show, proving that they are, without a doubt, the most unashamedly metal band on the planet (however, King Fowley, never one to rest on his laurels, decided he needed to further reinforce that claim by getting himself thrown out of the building later that night). Deceased kicked ass and took names, and the crowd responded with a sea of devil horns and the most genuinely appreciative ovation I heard all weekend.

Photo of Deceased performing

With my faith in metal restored, I checked out Dying Fetus on the Nightfall stage. They turned in my second-favorite set of the night, laying waste to every trendy poser in their unholy path. I don’t know if Hate Eternal was blowing the sound guy or what, but somehow they managed to achieve far and away the best sound of the weekend. They sounded incredibly fast, incredibly heavy, and incredibly extreme, the way death metal fucking should be. Finally, I stumbled towards the main stage to catch Testament, where S.O.D. had played. Much like Impaled Nazarene the night before, they performed well but were ultimately subverted by a muddy, lackluster sound.

Having just seen more metal than a goddamn scrap yard, it was time to collect the crew and drag our exhausted, war-torn carcasses back to the motel. Although I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy myself a little bit, I think it’s apparent that these metalfests are organized by people with too much greed and too few brain cells. I only traveled four hours and got in for free. I can’t even imagine how ripped off I would feel if I had traveled 12 hours and paid $55 to see my favorite band sound like shit. But you know, I think that deep down we must enjoy getting tortured, insulted, and ripped off at all the same time. I mean, what other explanation could there be for Limp Bizkit selling that many albums? ■

Photos: Doro Pesch (top), Angelcorpse (smashing Christians with their “Christhammer,” center), and Deceased (bottom) playing that weekend

Disposable Top Ten Lists

J.R. Hayes’ gratuitous top 10 for this issue

  1. Acid Bath Paegan Terrorism Tactics
  2. Deceased Supernatural Addiction
  3. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds The Boatman’s Call
  4. Agents Of Oblivion 2000 album
  5. Pantera Power Metal
  6. Bill Hicks Rant in E Minor
  7. Groinchurn Fink
  8. Pungent Stench For God Your Soul … For Me Your Flesh
  9. Coalesce Functioning on Impatience
  10. Life Of Agony Ugly

R. Mason’s gratuitous top 10 for this issue

  1. Pixies Death to the Pixies
  2. Alice In Chains Dirt
  3. Catherine Wheel Ferment
  4. Nirvana In Utero
  5. Jawbox For Your Own Special Sweetheart
  6. Weezer Pinkerton
  7. Fugazi Repeater
  8. Jawbreaker Dear You
  9. The Van Pelt Sultans of Sentiment
  10. Ride Going Blank Again


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.