Banned From The D.C.? Okay. Ramming Speed & Iron Reagan @ The Democracy Center

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This is the biggest I could find, honest. 

It’s good-natured small gigs liek these that make one remember how alike punks and Thrashers (and to a point, all Metalheads) are when you get them together. Think on it: Both wear black a lot, both are societal outcasts with atypical haircuts, they both wear patches and ripped clothing, etc. To say nothing of the music itself. Thrash Metal is essentially Iron Maiden and Judas Priest fans mainlining punk rhythms and throwing the resulting brew into a pressure cooker to ferment and sweeten. And now onto the show review before I turn this into an essay on how Thrash and Hardcore fans should hang out more.

Opening this festival ofthe damned was Meth Valley, a gang of talented local thrashers fronted by some crazy guy I’ve seen at mad shows, MDF included. Thrash is a hard genre to innovate in without turning it into something else by accident, so these longhairs played it safe and by the book, albeit without inducing yawns. If you like Razormaze, check ’em.

Next up were Boston Hardcore guys Draize, alternating between the slow and punishing and the fast and punishing extremes with equal skill.

Everyone’s favourite bespectacled baldie decided to go at this gig barefoot, which is a ballsy as fuck move considering how much punks usually love to wear boots or something. Nary a toe was injured, luckily, as the walls churned with heat, leather, and fist while the dance floor surged with pent-up anger and good times.

Oh how I missed my poetic verve.

It’s not very often one gets to see Draize, much less hear them, since a certain amount of mystery prevents them from posting tracks online, despite the many available avenues with which a band may do so today. If you don’t know the songs, you don’t know them, and you never will unless you buy their stuff, so there’s that. It’s all good and dark, and makes you want to kill, so it hardly matters in the end, as long as you don’t act a fool.

Highlights of the set: A huge fat guy herkie-ing like nobody’s business, and getting full-body lifted and placed back down by a guy half my height while I was in the middle of a graceless two-step.

Iron Reagan, featuring Tony Foresta from Municipal Waste and some other guys because fuck it, it’s Tony Foresta and that basically makes it Municipal Waste by proxy, followed to bring some groovin’ Thrash served in a radioactive barrel. Or something.

This being their first tour as a band, it’s amazing how quickly they’ve all settled into the whole live dealie. Granted, they are seasoned musicians, and probably all hang out, but my word, you’d think they’ve been doing this as Iron Reagan for years already. Tony’s charismatic control of the crowd’s friendly violent fun, the vivious axe attack of fellow ‘Waster Landphil, bass duties gregariously filled by a certain guy named paul, and drum noise made by Darkest Hour’s own Ryan Parrish. You’ve got yourself a crew that’s ready to rock, and has a Cro-Mags cover to lay on you troglodytic fucks. It’s pretty rad. The circlepit isn’t a frequent sight at the D.C., so get educated and run around.

Headlining were local heroes Ramming Speed, who have been bestowed the honour of being a possible gay porno title by The A.V. Club for their year-in review of band names. I’m sure they gained about 54 new fans as a result.

Imagine you took the Party Hard attitude of Andrew W.K. but turned party rock into party thrash, with a good helping of pizza and perhaps carrots, and proclamations of Shane Embury being the Brad Pitt of grindcore. It’s true, go listen. While Ramming Speed do everything they do in good fun, there’s some serious talent bubbling under the comedic skin. Major shreddage, vocals that vary from Thrash shouts to Death Growls and even some well-done highs, drumming that can go from standard speed-metal to extreme blasting, and not to mention the fact that they can keep up with themselves and not fuck up. It’s a recipe that’s best drunk in large quantities and with friends around.

You know, this marks a rare occurrence; I’ve reviewed a show the day after it happened. Golly, I’m making my comeback. This is the year of the gutter rat, and I’m doing well everywhere except mothafuckin’ school. Kill pigs, have fun.

Sound Of The Beast: A Complete Headbanging History Of Heavy Metal. It’s Anything But.

Ian Christe’s groundbreaking book, titled above, was a watershed moment as far as those “big book of x genre” tomes go. Metalheads worldwide cheered almost unanimously, I imagine, as its ink dried in the saturnine glow of hellfire. Its cover art, a twisted adaptation yanked most blasphemously from the Sistine chapel. Its attention to every last minute detail of all that’s heavy would bring warmth to the hearts of metal fans, while educating and (hopefully) bringing new recruits. It’s a timeless, deathless volume, and it got everything right.
And now for what really happened.
This review has been slow simmering for a while in my mind. I really want to like this book, being that there aren’t a terrible lot of comprehensive studies, emic or etic, that look at Metal from front to back, starting at Blue Cheer and ending wherever the publish date happens to be. I’ll be the first to say that this book certainly does cover a lot, and no one can expect one person and perhaps a team of editors and acquaintances to cover the entire metalverse in a single book, but honestly, this book should have been pushed back for another five years, at least.
I will suggest that this book be renamed “Read ‘Em All: A Headbanging History At A Glance Of Metallica, And Other Kinda Important Bands”, because by Jove, this guy has a Metallica boner the size of Vesuvius.

Pictured: A reason to never make music again, because this just about covers it.

It’s almost embarrassing how diehard this guy is about Metallica to the point where he can’t even make it through a chapter on Death Metal without haphazardly throwing their name in. This book is bogged down in passages that essentially read like this: “X movement and x band(s) were important, but here’s what Metallica was doing.” It’s fucked.
To say nothing of the painfully obvious oversight in the case of bands like Suffocation, Swans, D.R.I., and Entombed, to say the very least. Sure, these names are mentioned, but only once. Now, like I said, it’s nearly impossible to give every band equal face time, but to just skimp over the New York Death Metal, Swedish Death Metal, Folk/Pagan Metal, and even Japanese movements (though Sigh, S.O.B., and Sabbat do get a mention apiece, what of equally important X Japan or G.I.S.M.? Nothing) is nothing short of criminally lazy. How about the Finnish scene, and the (then) new sounds being brought forth by Children Of Bodom, fusing Yngwie Malmsteen pretentiousness with the frosty aggression of Black Metal? Tim “Angel Ripper” Owens’ first band, Winter’s Bane is not even brought up, and speaking of Winter, why are they not mentioned despite their influence in agonizingly slow and heavy Doom Metal? When speaking of the confluence of Techno and Metal, why were The Berzerker nowhere to be found, despite having formed in 1995 and thus being readily available for observation by the time Christe drooled on his proverbial typewriter? What about the brief stint that Blaze Bailey had in Iron Maiden? The man’s name isn’t mentioned, though perhaps this is for the better, because he sucked the talent right out of them, despite being a capable solo artist.

Pictured: The reason why Nicko McBrain lies awake at night in tears

For a guy who tracked every waking movement of Metallica and to a lesser extent, Megadeth, and seems to have no shortage of quotes from Katon de Peña of Hirax, he seems rather blasé when discussing Grindcore, not even throwing a mention to pivotal bands like Assück or Extortion. Sludge, Stoner, and Doom metal get their treatments, but besides Black Sabbath, Sleep, Cathedral and Saint Vitus, nothing is spoken of in true depth, and the latter two are only given a few paragraphs, which, yes, in this book is depth in comparison to the two mentions given to The Melvins.

Clearly not important enough to warrant more than two whole pages.

Christe is decidedly a tryhard, as evidenced by his overdescribing and overinflating of adjectives. At some points, he refers to Kiss as heavy, and uses the word ‘blasting’ to refer to Lars Ulrich’s drumming. Highly inaccurate on both counts. To say nothing of his being off the mark sub-genre wise, but then again, maybe I’m off the mark and don’t know it yet. All I know is that Metallica is not Power Metal, and that by the time Chaos A.D. rolled around, Sepultura were no longer Death Metal. The man seems content with bumping everything up a level or two higher than it actually is for some strange reason. In the same fashion that an average 20-something today would use the word ‘literally’ to mean “kinda”, Ian Christe calls Manowar ‘crushing’, and makes Death Metal seem like a deliberate counterculture set on proving that growls and police siren solos can be beautiful too. Guy, it ain’t all that serious, some guys decided to hail Satan with gruff vocals and rip-roarin’ speed is all.

One must read deep into the genius proclamation of “Fuck your God”.

Don’t know what genre to call a band, but it’s fast and old school sounding? Lump ‘em all into Speed Metal, that’s fine. Nu-Metal? Oh yeah, that’s definitely all Death Metal + Hip Hop. Talk about D.R.I.? No need, S.O.D.’s the only crossover thrash band that matters. Oh and for that matter let’s call Crossover Metalcore instead, that’ll make a lot of sense. We could go deeper into the history of Pantera, and Kurt Cobain’s involvement in bands like Earth, but let’s make this chapter about Metallica before I lose interest. Crust Punk? What’s that? I’ll just call it Grindcore, that’s fine. Slayer had rough record quality on their early releases? Black Metal, fo sho. Bolt Thrower? Not even gonna discuss that shit when Metallica’s sold-out dates worldwide in support of The Whack Album are oh so important.

Such is the writing process behind Sound Of The Beast: A(n In)Complete History Of Heavy Metal. It’s a testament to patchy music journalism, something I dearly hope I have successfully avoided, in that it briefly touches on a lot, and certainly does delve into specifics on the major innovators and small-time foundation shakers, but is too stuck on something the author personally feels has captured “it”, it being a band they feel encapsulates the spirit of Heavy Metal as a whole. Should I have written a history of Metal, I sure as hell wouldn’t end up basing it around Iron Maiden or Black Sabbath or some shit with the attitude of “This is what happened while X member of Y band was addicted to screwing mangos”, so why would Ian Christe? It’s a shame that an informative book, despite its many downfalls, was written by a flamboyant Metallica fanboy with a penchant for exaggeration and hyperbole coupled with some mildly impairing spatial perception, because this man seems unfortunately colourblind when it comes to detailing the finer points of the genre he clearly loves.

Man writes book on Heavy Metal. Eats half of it. Publishes vomit.

It’s imperative that if anyone attempts to take Metal into their custody and write about it as though documenting the growth and development of a child, that they feed it a balanced diet, or else it’ll actually grow up to think the Black Album was actually Metal. But you know what really, truly upsets me about this book? Like, really rocks me to the core and makes me more prone to colon cancer? The fact that the man called “In The End” by Linkin Park a Metal power ballad. Oh, you dirty rat, I’m going to find you, and the pigs will never take me alive after they see what I do to you for this most egregious offence against all that is sacred and intellectual. The whole “Metal Lists” appendix is cringeworthy, and calls the credibility of the whole book into question, moreso than the shoddy writing itself. I must apply corpsepaint, headbang into a pot of boiling sulfuric acid, and cleanse myself.

A negative book review wouldn’t be worth its salt if it didn’t have some quotes demonstrating the utmost stupidity with which this material was at times handled. I’ll also include some quotes from interviewees that just don’t make any sense when applicable.

Presenting: The Most WTF of SOTB.

“Heartwork was a brilliant standard-setting accomplishment. It was the Metallica Black Album of death metal.” p. 246

I don’t see the relationship between Carcass and Metallica aside from the fact that they both use guitars and are white, personally.

If not exactly living up to Metallica’s sales precedent, death metal remained profitable into the mid-1990s.” 256

The man can scarcely go more than 5 pages without saying the M word. It’s as if he held his breath for as long as he could while typing and wrote about Metallica on impulse when he reached his limit without passing out.

‘Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst and Kid Rock are rappers,’ says Chuck D from influential rap group Public Enemy. ‘They probably rebelled against rock in their teenage years, because it was too white-boy or something. Now it’s available to them, and you have to tip your hat to these guys for doing it.’” 325

Chuck, just because you were one of the main driving forces behind Hip-Hop doesn’t mean that makes any sense.

“’Metallica can do whatever they want’, says Shawn Crahan of the band Slipknot. ‘They won. They earned the right to do what they want today’.” 307

Including sue the world for essentially tape-trading online?

“Combining the spectral influence of Faith No More with snippets of the hardest death metal, the nu metal bands proved that pancultural metal could pay off.” 329

Dude.

I would search for even more, but this is painful enough.

Ramlord – Crippled Minds, Sundered Wisdom: A Sordid Revue

If you’ve ever read more than 10 posts on this goddam wordpress thing I refuse to use the “b” word for, then you already know who Ramlord is, you God-fearing sheep. It’s high time you introduced your soul to them for blackening if you haven’t already.
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You may have thought I was kidding with that whole business in the opening statements, but I’m really not gonna go over their specs again, since I’ve done it already countless times. I won’t even tell you where they’re from (hint: It’s Hell), so suck it, man. It’s not important, but the music is.

Ramlord, since their inception in 2011, haven’t quit exciting depressed and depressed-leaning people worldwide with their ethereal yet uncompromisingly heavy take on Blackened Crusty Sludgy D-Beat Stenchviolence. It’s brutal, though not in the sense of slamdance ignancy in the pit. It’s brutal in terms of being trapped in an ice cave where the only exit is a glazed shaft that is impossible to climb with human hands, stark naked, covered in cuts and sores encrusted with frozen blood and pus, awaiting your slow and agonized death by passing out of existence as your internal organs freeze and shut down. It’s nihilistic, bleak, and fucked up on heroin in a blizzard with only a sparsely studded denim vest and not even a threadbare blanket to its name. And it’s very good.

Right from the opening of “Nihil Fucking Lifeblood”, which wastes no time in getting started with a chord progression that’s at once beautiful and melodic, yet thrives on the energy from interruption by heavy chugs. It flawlessly creates the atmosphere of hopelessness and misanthropy that the band has perfected since their debut Stench of Fallacy, and builds off of their 10-minute epic, “Affliction Of Clairvoyance” from a split with Texan icemongers Cara Neir. There are few, if any pauses in the beating the band gives in their surprisingly melodic attack. “Weakness” opens with freezing tremolo and blasting that is sure to appease Black Metallers who believe they aren’t Black enough, and throws in a tunefully constructed punk groove at the end for all of those who revel in filth and mid-tempos, with this track being followed by three songs under a minute long but just as punchy as any of their longer cuts. The only real gripe (should one even want to call it that) I have with this release is that the closer, “Extinction Of Clairvoyance”, is not quite as massive and catchy as “Affliction”, but I’m really hopping that the psychic madness does not cease, because it’s looking to be a great saga of depression and brooding hatred that I can’t get enough of in my already broken mind. It doesn’t care if it’s catchy, and for that I respect it.

I could go track-by-track, but it would just devolve into me saying “Damn, this breakdown’s heavy as fuck” or “This song makes me want to stab myself in the heart with a hypodermic needle full of grade A dope in the best way possible”, so I won’t, just know that there isn’t a bad track or moment on it. Listen for yourself and write your own damn review if you’re unsatisfied with this one, poser.

The whole album doesn’t let up, musically or lyrically from the themes of addiction, death, and hate. The themes are superbly handled by this most malodorous power trio. Vocals that sound like galeforce winds reborn with a throat full of ashes, rumbling bass that serves to accent the sublime audio crystalline daggers created by the not-too-intricate yet not-too-simple guitar work, and drumming that keeps the pace at wolves’ pace. There’s equal part beauty and horror in death and despair, as exemplified by music of this type. Read the lyrics and get sad that you’re not this creative, or something.

10 No Gods/Masters out of 10

For fans of: Ilsa, DarkThrone, Buzzov*en, Deviated Instinct, Welkin Dusk

The Police Are Fuckin’ Mad. What this means for Allston, DIY and all.

“Fuck tha Police”, a timeless classic released a quarter century ago by N.W.A., has never meant more to people in the Allston-Brighton area than it has these last few weeks.

This tale of the little man’s struggle against the status quo lives on to this day, and has now reared its head in the not-too-quiet burbs of Allston-Brighton, a neighborhood known for its undercurrent of house parties, basement shows, and generally alternative leaning population. It’s a nice place to live, despite msot of the houses being run-down internally as a result of cramming at least 8 people in them on a normal night. At least 6 of these 8 will be drunk or stoned, and blasting music, watching old cartoons, or playing some retro game before a house party or show is “scheduled” to happen. Allston Standard Punk Time = Show up at the time suggested, get wasted so you don’t care how late the show is. It’s a well-known fact that you’ll be catching the penultimate bus or train home should you take the chance and throw down with your fellow flannel flaggers.

The police and general lamewads around Allston, however, would rather this sort of thing cease. You see, they cite “frequent noise complaints” as a reason to shut these venues down. In their recent sweeps, they’ve shut down big spots like Uncle Crummy’s, Trouble Ahead, and one of my personal favourites, The Boxfort. Allston’s DIY venues, as phoenices, always arise from the ashes in a few months’ time, and of course, there are always venues that the BPD manages to overlook even when they’re under their piggy noses and beady eyes, lustfully thriving in spite of the turbulent insecurity and machismo perpetrated by our favourite boys in blue. Though this time, it seems the iron fist has come down harder than ever before. Myself and the Spaniard in particular were put to the test of nerves, the latter much more so. I must say, I’m especially glad I didn’t have alcohol in hand at that moment. It would spell premature doom for yours truly.

 Good looking out, Boston Police, because your “noise complaints” (which totally means “people in black having a good time”) mean jack when there are still kids out there having dubstep douche parties, the average participant of which being far louder than any Orange amp used by a small touring act that’s just trying to spread the gospel of anti-establisjment. It’s a shame that the BPD don’t realise the damage they’re doing to the neighborhood by having these crackdowns on the local music scene. You see, it goes much further than just stopping a bunch of kids from having fun on a Friday night. Take into consideration the fact that people from other parts of town are flocking into the neighborhood. Said people get hungry and thirsty. Hungry and thirsty people buy food and drinks. Maybe they’ll stop by other shops while they’re around, who knows. Point is, shows -official or not- bring revenue, and the BPD don’t understand that these up and coming bands won’t be invited to play at The Great Scott, The Paradise, or O’Briens all the time, so these basement shows are necessary for musicians to survive.

And herein lies the fault in my faith in the godforsaken police: Thinking they’ll actually “get” how having local music scenes outside of dive bars and big venues is beneficial to the area they’re claiming to protect. People like to go out and enjoy themselves, and sure, there might be one guy or girl that up and acts a fool, but professional venue or not, stupid people exist. Should the House Of Blues be closed down because someone gets in a fight or causes a ruckus outside of its doors? No, so why should we do the same to a random basement? Perhaps I’m not making the best case for myself, but I’m too mad to make good sense. I’ll be damned if the cops are going to operate under the assumption that they’re doing good by preventing DIY spaces from existing in a world where the professional venues have grown too strict on people under 21 and people in general. In a city where a touring band has to either play only to people who can drink or a basement/loft with a strong sense of community where people of all ages can enjoy the live experience, which do you think they’ll logically choose? Of course, the latter, because fat idiot bouncers and soundguys being divas is not everyone’s idea of a good time.

Let us hope that the BPL either realise the error of their ways and start solving real crimes rather than following the scent of cannabis to an innocuous gathering of fringe peoples who are minding their own business. It’s high time Allston-Brighton started feeling like part of America again. I was planning on writing up a bunch of good memories I’ve had at Allston DIY shows, but fuck it, I was wasted for almost all of them, so go look through things I’ve written. Cheers, and to all a plate of bacon.