Apologies for the lack of updates. Life is killing me.

Between turning 21, being thirsty, getting a job and overall just going out every day and bringin’ da muthafuckin’ ruckus, I haven’t been posting lately, as you may have seen. However, I haven’t come to a complete standstill; I’m a part-time contributor to Ghost Cult magazine, though unfortunately unlike Metal Army where content matching was no biggie, this time I’ll have to provide nothing more than a little blurb and a link to the rest of the content. Sorry ’bout that, faithless readers, but it is true, I’ve sold out.

On the other hand, any material I don’t submit to Ghost Cult is my own to do whatever nasty things I wish, so I’ll be trying to catch up to the times with some independently written show reviews, including Limp Wrist, Kromoson, Rotten Sound, (the) Melvins, Ultra//Negative, and Nuclear Special Forces, as well as linking up the reviews for Maryland Deathfest, Trap Them, deafheaven, Nails, etc. I’m a busy man on the down-low.

In the meantime, I’m hurtin’ for material but I’ve got some things planned and loaded into my idea fun, but if you’ve got anything to share, don’t hesitate to contribute. It can be why you think I’m an idiot for disliking Manowar or your take on the economic impact of metal and hardcore on Singapore, whatever you want, make it real, I insist. Let’s make this legit.

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Watch Your Step, Kid. Biohazard at the President’s Rock Club

What a venue name for one of the most ignant shows I have laid eye and fist upon to date. After some difficulty with finding the guestlist, I was admitted inside despite my age not being quite 21. Whoops. Thanks Colin (of Arabia?) for the oversight!

Full story yonder.

Goodnight, Fresh Prince. Ultra//Negative’s swansong show at the Democracy

The death of any great band is a wake-up call to just how precious their time on this sorrowful hole of an Earth was. Doubling as the release anti-party for their split with Ira Graves and the burial of their live outings, it was a mixed bag of sadness, sexual arousal, and pure fucken hate. I’m only glad I got to see them 4 or 5 times, most of them while very un-sober.

Unlikely openers Floods were entertaining, but were the cigar to the audience’s blunt. Meaning that while they were indeed a Hardcore band, they were more along the lines of the modern bands like Xibalba or Harms Way: heavy with breakdowns, sludge metal influence, and a distinctive love of Bolt Thrower and Entombed-style riffage that just makes you want to go to war. Bad fit for the bill (though I’m sure their “Wolverine Blues” cover would have gotten some more enthusiasm), but certainly not a bad band.

Canada’s Spearhead (not to be confused with a metal band of the same name from the UK)  took us out of the swamps and into the fast lane, where they seemed to be playing so fast they had trouble keeping in time. Their energy was highly admirable, however, so they still get a big-up from me. Their countrymen in Total Trash had some speed, but overall it was steeped in 80s tradition a-la Slip It In-era Black Flag, but nowhere near as angsty, just very weird. The frontman seemed to have popped a molly cos he was sweatin’, bumping into just about everyone, getting within licking range of many of our finest warriors, and even put on a little lipstick to pretty himself up for the boys. I was at just the right angle to witness the lattermost embellishment, and it only made me like them even more. Ballzy.

Ultra//Negative‘s collective bandship has been rocked on seas of internal controversy, causing an unstable line-up situation and ultimately the decay of their ability to function as a unit. Holdin’ it down on tha block as the creme-filled centre were Jan and Cody Esq., the last two members who I saw the last two times I saw them. I swear they have usually been a 4 piece, but on this fateful night they came as a power trio, and were wicked pissed. Thrashing out their self-named song as an intro that makes for a real wall-buster, the rest was a blur of blastbeats, low-end infected guitars, and vocals screeched with such anger and conviction it could scare graffiti off the walls. Don’t try it at home unless you want a sore throat. Ashes to ashes, nothing to nothing. I sweated instead of crying, and I believe it was effective. The crowd had noticeably thinned out after Total Trash went off, but I say they’re all wussies.

Last but certainly not least were Tinnitus, who aren’t trying to re-invent the concept of powerviolence as it stands, but by Jove, they’re doing it well. Noisome, indefatigably blasting, ineffably brutal, and with a cover of “Behind This Tongue” by Infest for good measure. Sometimes keeping it simple is good, people.

And uh… that’s all there is to say about that. So yeah.

Bruising At The Show. Limp Wrist at the Cambridge Elks.

Making good headway at last.

Heheh. Head.

This happened the day of after a light rain. Stoked.

This happened the day of after a light rain. Stoked. It’s a rainbow, and my phone camera sucks.

Anyway, this show was one of those that simultaneously overjoyed me and pissed me off. I was overjoyed that Limp Wrist made the drive down to too-liberal-to-punch-a-fascist Massachusetts after 6 years of having not, and even more so that all of my fellow queers were down to dance to ditties raging against the homophobes and passively compliant with social norms. I was pissed that I never see 3/4 of these people at any other show. Do I have to go to a rad-fem fest, queercore show, or otherwise anti-heteronormative event to see these fools get down and get within inches of making love? Fuck, all I ask is that they not be so selective with shows just because they like being drag(insert-monarch) and that may not be everyone’s steaze. Live a little or die.

On to the actual show review, which will be pure fucken poetry: I was more focused on the headliner than anything else (can you blame me?) and could’ve given a damn if I had seen Subclinix or The Combat Zone, who are passable but unremarkable local acts who, while making delectable appetisers, will invariably pale in comparison to the legendary Limp Wrist. However, St. Ripper and Beyond Pink were pretty nice surprises, though the former blew the roof off the place. You know a band’s punk as fuck when 1) the singer is a woman and 2) despite the condition of 1, they still mosh harder than just about everyone else in the pit and 3) they eschew guitars for a keyboard and still sound fucken raw. Damn.

I’m too impatient to continue describing things, so here’s Limp Wrist, hardest of the queerest queers. A band whose songs revolve around the struggle of being a queer, a punk, and most of all a queer punk, will definitely have to bring forth some amount of fury. To any that aren’t into the whole movement (and by Jove, I’m still learning myself) you’d think that Queercore would sound  primarily like the Riot Grrrl Team Dresch or semi-joke bands like Gayrilla Biscuits and Youth Of Togay, and while these groups are fuckin’ rad, it’s certainly not  music that you could mosh to or expect to see live. Limp Wrist are a straight up 80s bulldozer of hardcore bombast that could stand alongside the greats in Negative Approach, Void, and Jerry’s Kids in terms of sheer ferocity and move-these-fucking-walls moments that make the entire building a swarm of arms, legs, sweat, and an underpinning of sexual energy that threatens to become an orgy at the drop of a single person’s trousers/skirt. It’s a rare treat to see a leather daddy in a black jockstrap halfway down his ass be the commander of an army of punx/queers that are about ready to rip a jock’s head off and also make out with the nearest member of the same sex or flick their wrists at a passing naval steamboat.

Yes, I had a blast. “What’s Up With The Kids?”, “Cruising At The Show”, “Fake Fags Fuck Off”, and most importantly, “I Love Hardcore Boys/I Love Boys Hardcore” came out in full force. And so did I, aflame from the closet (sorta). I dearly wish they had busted out “Punk Ass Queers”, “Od’d On Pop”, or “Limp Wrist Vs. Dr. Laura”, but hey, how many times am I gonna see this band before I go down in a puddle of blood when the world ends? Hopefully at least once more.

Fear and Loathing in Baltimore, MD. A review of what I remember of Maryland Deathfeast

Where to begin with this sordid tale of sadness, drunken debauchery, tears and fear? Ye gods, I don’t even know if a particular portion would even be safe to publish, but in the name of faux journalists everywhere, I must report the meager yet revealing details of the extracirricular activities, including my own spiritual and mental degradation over the course of a most rock’n’roll weekend where more booze entered my body than any other substance, including (but not limited to) food and weed.

So, after a brutal 9 hour drive through capricious weather (thanks, Zeus) with only the radio and a Tenacious D CD to anoint our battered souls and posting up at the wondrous Sheraton in order to stage our siege on the unsilent streets of the ‘More, we re-acquainted ourselves with the hilly and alien climes, as we had been here before (myself being deployed a second time), no stranger to its seething underbelly of prostitution, drugs, and all-around degeneracy. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. And join ’em we did, but more on that later.

Thursday: All is calm

We arrived at the former Sonar compound at around the time when Pallbearer‘s brand of glacial riffage cascaded from the tent. Having two fingers of Jose Cuervo, the stuff of dead rats and 40% alcohol, I was quite mushy upstairs. Added to this was the miasma of not only the vaporised sweat of thousands in the balmy air of the urban wastescape that surrounded, but also a faint hint of weed smoke, as doom metal and toking go hand in hand. Hell, if they’d played a cover of the Black Sabbath classic “Sweet Leaf”, they’d have gotten my full approval. They sound like last year’s riff-bearers in YOB, though not quite as compelling. Sadly we had just missed the Philippine’s leaders in the war against all that is holy in Deiphago, but they’ll hopefully be back around soon, since they’re among the few War Metal/”Bestial” Black Metal bands I don’t despise like coconut flavouring.

Little cause for despair still yet to be had as Abigail, the Japanese kings of sleaze, took the stage with their hateful Engrish spewings relating to sluts, violence kill and destruction, and wizardry. Such a race specimen they are, seeing as they keep an air of secrecy around themselves and stick to mainly large festivals or underground shows that have little to no promotion. To witness “Attack With Spell” and “Hail Yakuza” live was quite phenomenal, I tell you what.

Next up were the true ‘war metal’ masters in Cobalt, whose stage presence is equally rare due to their singer, Phil, being a member of the U.S. Armed Forces.  Semper fidelis, ist krieg. I stayed in the back and watched the band perform their ritualistic machinations with all the prowess deserved, since we paid quite a bit to see them, ya hear? I’m not too familiar with their music but it was well-executed American Black Metal that boasts more of a punch than their contemporaries in Wolves In The Throne Room or deafheaven, who go for the atmospheric and spiritual approach rather than a Comanche armed with an axe running amok in the woods on hallucinogens.

And the coup de gras of the night, the British death metal legends in Bolt Thrower, who, while they have every right to consider themselves a monolithic name in the genre, shouldn’t have to take over a half hour to set up. Their sound can hardly be so nuanced. But anyhow, their cannonading style of old school riffage, bellowed echo-chamber growls, and groovy sensibilities laid all spectators to waste. The pit was warlike, and we can expect no less from the godfathers of the concept of ‘war metal’ in the most literal sense. Of course, they brought out the standard heavy artillery; “Warmaster”, “Cenotaph”, “The IVth Crusade”, “Mercenary”, etc. Oldies but goodies to get elbowed in the face to. No casualties to report, but regardless, they came to do damage, and it was done most effectively.

Following this night of revelry musically, what better way to celebrate than with excess beer? I think I puked on this night, but time became such a blur that it could have been Friday. After some magick brownies and a chicken salad sandwich, I was understandably sleepy. This blackout brought to you by National Bohemian Beer, the PBR of Maryland, but not even good. Yet I probably had at least 30 cans in total over the course of 4 days. I hate myself.

Friday: Send the storm

Friday is a day that will live in partial infamy in my mind, for it was the start of the downturn in my mental state to come. After being so fucked up I couldn’t be roused back to the land of the living through all normal means like shouting my Earthly name, I passed out and missed Pig Destroyer. As fate would cruelly besmirch me, I awoke at the exact time the setlist said they would end.

Damn.

So I ran (read: walked somewhat quicker than usual) to the Sonar in hopes that I would catch Michigan’s Repulsion, the O.G.’s of the grindcore sound. Hell, I intended to get my money’s worth somehow, and it wouldn’t be by tricking myself into thinking that my chipping in 30 bucks was paying for all my drunk foolishness. So, caught Repulsion, yippee-ki-yay, and it was just as good as you could imagine; sloppy, fetid riffs, rhythmic barks, blast upon blast and skank sections that make you want to knee yourself in the face. Revel in filth.

Not to be out-brutalled, the year-younger British grinders in Carcass took the stage to blaspheme with a more medical bent, showing us that forensic pathology is one of the most metal careers one can pursue. Toilet gurgles, chainsaw riffs, blast’n’groove percussion, all coming together with a melodic sensibility that made their sound accessible to those who were initially afraid of the extremeness of grindcore and death metal. While the setlist was lacking in songs that I personally wanted to hear most, including “Inpropagation” and  “Arbeit Macht Fleisch”, but hey, who’s complaining when you get to see two of the main pushers and dealers of the grindcore sound from the mid-80s back to back?

Ending on a soft note were post-hard rockers Pelican. While their instrumental melodic steaze was appealing, it seemed to leave an oddly non-visceral flavour in all attendees’ mouths for their drunken walk home. And commence more orgiastic alcoholic celebration. It was at this point that my mind truly fell from its wagon, and it involved a prostitute, her friend, a CIA-type, and some white stuff. Said white stuff makes you think anything’s possible, but it’s not. One heartbreak later, and I drink my way into Saturday, gaining no sleep along the slippery stinging path of Lethe.

Saturday: What happened?

I’ll tell you what happened; I drank beer that was left in the sun and drained the last of any available bottle and can in the hotel room I stayed in while I lamented my own folly as a human being, and I do believe I went to Hooters with my group on Friday, recieved leftovers, and witnessed a member of my war party come down with a sickness that I blame on either undercooked meat or the extreme spiciness of their own brand of hot sauce. Trust me, it’s nowhere near as weak as one would assume.

On Saturday, I’m sad to say I saw no bands. Ihsahn would not serenade my tortured heart. The Melvins‘ crushing stoner-punk grooves wouldn’t flatten my skull until I could feel naught but a will to celebrate. The suicidal funerary procession of Loss‘ paeans to moroseness would not calm my own burgeoning depression. As a matter of fact, I was kicked out for being underage drunx as fux punx, and had to be dragged away from the premises before the police became involved. Thanks, Phil Anselmo, for getting the security to be even more authoritarian than before. And for their information, I wasn’t drinking at the venue. Fools! I was already wasted!

So after going back to the hotel and passing out alongside my fellow warrior crippled by Hooters seizures, only to awaken and drown my sorrows further, I essentially spent the night interred in the confines of the building, seeking out any alcohol or otherwise intoxicating substance, as well as friendly faces I could find to keep the misery at bay. Tales of strip-club visitations and laid-getting abound. This may have been the night I coined the term “sleep-beefs”, but again, a blur. With some success, I allowed myself to believe that perchance, the security would show a human side on the morrow. So with that, I slept, albeit fitfully.

Sunday: Freedom

I awoke with rare courage. Despite my still rumbling malaise as an aftershock of not one, but two rejections, I felt confident that I could find some way to enjoy the day. After all, I hadn’t showered the whole weekend and hey, maybe kickin’ it with the parking lot crusties wasn’t too bad, right? I mean, they seem to enjoy it.

Well, despite what I originally intended via the power of will, I was denied entry. I’d have to essentially bribe the security, which I had naught the funds to do. The good news, however, is that despite not having access to the activity inside, I could still watch and listen to the bands on the outside stages. The not-so-romantic French Glorior Belli‘s brand of blackened blasphemy still reached my ears fine, as did the goofy thrash of Sachred Reich, and the black-thrash meeting ground of Midnight.

Being subject to boredom at the hands of the far too slow Pagan Altar, I wandered around the nearby areas to seek my fortune. I found some crusties sitting near the parking lot fence, and one of them challenged me to a game of C-Lo as Manilla Road gave us a gambling soundtrack. I was pleased to hear “Necropolis” while I won $3 as he continually rolled the dice and lamented his losses. Not bad for a novice; I didn’t even have to touch the dice more than twice. I hung with them for a while, outwalked a creepy middle-aged man while he mumbled what I believe were homophobic insults as he shuffled lamely at 2 ft/min., and having successfully avoided confrontation, got to catch part of Pentagram (yawns were stifled, sorry) and Sleep as they played most of their seminal album Holy Mountain, in addition to Sonic Titan and an abbreviated version of the  hour-long stoner epic “Dopesmoker”. Pretty good, pretty fuzzy.

And for the final treat of the night, as Carpathian Forest ran into Visa issues (thanks, America), Venom‘s brand of evil yet campy speed metal meets the proto-black metal rasps and lyricism that would inspire the genre to come, were our farewell for the night. I must say, though I’m not a huge fan of Venom on record, live they have a heavier, punchier sound that would actually get me to go in the pit for their anthemic “Black Metal” and surprisingly menacing “Warhead”, were I in a position to do so. Instead, I watched some parking lot football, and even saw someone spray-paint one of the poles of the overpass while I played lookout. Hopefully it’s still there if I decide to go next year.

Following another all-night rager of alkies and white stuff, I got yet another sleepless night for my efforts, and the ride home was even more painful than the ride down, if not mainly because of my mental condition, being unwashed, and just being generally burnt out on life and its finer distractions (read: booze and drugs). Here’s to next year, if I 1) survive to that point and 2) even want to drag myself all the way back just to be met with more of my own failures. But hey, live and learn, right? At least this time I was single. That can be seen as a plus, in context.

Fuck it. Rotten Sound at the Cambridge Elk’s Lodge.

I know this is long long overdue but fuck it, that’s my philosophy.

Local crust/d-beat/black metal/Motorhead worship heroes in Panzerbastard are still alive, and this news makes me very happy. I thought they had parted ways to form other bands like Dick Move and Fresh Kill, but they have recently reformed like a very-hard-to-kill-monster and are bringing back the biker bad boy appeal to the Massachusetts Metal/Hardcore scene. So good news, everyone. Sadly I missed Hivesmasher, Soul Remnants, and Boxcutter Facelift, but that’s what happens when there’s shit to be done before a show (which I forgot because it was so long ago, ugh).

Anyhow, Rotten Sound, Finland’s coldest in blastbeaten debauchery have graced this little hole in the floor despite it being almost literally a hole in the floor with couches, brick walls, and a roof. And I’m not so sure if any of these things would survive a powerpacked fist from yours truly unrestrained. I don’t much remember the setlist, but a few cuts from the newest opus, Species At War, were certainly recognisable. On the meantime I was hunting for moments where I could make like a crazed troubadore and recite poetry. With my fists. Of lyrical love.

All was going well until the owner of the venue shouted clandestinely over Kaijo’s declaration of three more bombardments, “You got one more!”. Taking this with a grain of salt, he pressed on with the speed of a tank made of orichalcum, and met a wall made of er… more orichalcum, because the owner of this venue is an idiot. The residents of Central Square will sleep over some faint rumblings in the distance. Believe you, me, I’ve slept through gunshots, sirens, and cats fighting in my back “yard”. Honestly, you think the whiteys in privileged Cambridge can’t deal with a little bit of bass in their foundations?

Before this turns into a rant against idiots (and you don’t want to get started on that nut), I’ll just cap it off by saying that Rotten Sound did well, and I’m looking forward to my next adventure in losing my fuckin’ mind. Onward.