My men in MyManMike

We have reached a truly special moment in my history, where I not only am NOT posting about a show, but am also not bitching about something stupidly for the first time in ages. I’m enjoying this turnaround I’ve made, with minimal effort.

Hailing from South Korea, a country not widely known for its surprisingly large extreme music community,  MyManMike describe their style as Grindcore/Thrashcore/Powerviolence. Despite these tags often meaning “next to unlistenable unless you’re the right type of brain damaged like most punk/hardcore listeners”, it’s got a modern sheen and production that could be likened to bands in the vein of crossover goofs like In Defence; it’s clear, yet maintains enough rawness to fly the DIY flag and thus still be “punk”.

For starters, they’re catchy as fuck. “Inside Outside USA” for instance, after an almost obligatory anti-government sample, kicks into full gear and wastes no time with a beat that would get kids moving side to side almost by spiritual compulsion rather than voluntarily wanting to move. Generally, being an album of this type, a lot of the songs are going to blend together, so it’d be foolish to go about a track-by-track review for a 10 song release of rapid punches to the head, the longest being just under two and 3/4 minutes long.

I can say, however, that MyManMike shows a lot of promise, and it’d be highly recommended for anyone into ACxDC, Birth A.D., Fuck On The Beach, Charles Bronson, and Extortion.  If retarded vocals that alternate between yelped highs and strained lows, occasional chunky breakdowns, mile-a-second blasts, thrash metal-tinged tempos, and generally having fun and not taking yourself too seriously is your bag, maybe you’ll be into it. Which everyone with any sense is, so go on, take a listen. You shouldn’t regret it.

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No One’s Punk, Okay? Weekend Nachos at the Democracy Center

For a band whose entire existence is essentially satire, Weekend Nachos sure can pack a house (venue). Woe unto any who did not show up in time, and further deepening woe unto any who were directly behind the persons who bought the remaining few spots inside the space. Ouch.

Those fortunate enough to be part of this maxed out capacity event, however, did thusly rock’n’roll all night, and depending on soreness, survived to party the next day. Suffer On Acid being the openers, it was destined to be a real slambangarino from the start, with a pit being established by the end of the second or third song. It’s not my job to be accurate; fuck off. I ain’t being paid by the fact, here. If I were, then I’d publish constantly, and intelligently.

Moving on, next were Curmudgeon, who I almost expected would just go through the necessary motions of being everyone’s favourite P.C. PV band, and discourage all manner of motion outside of headbanging, fist shaking, shouting along, and at most, an approving stomp to mark your hamster bubble of contained energy. Imagine my surprise when people are suddenly plowing into one another from end to end of the room.  Anything that can happen, will happen at least once somewhere, and I’m in the quantum reality where someone can mosh guilt-free to Curmudgeon.

Partners in preventing crime Draize performed well, playing the dark and angry powerviolence that’s come to be a viable substitute whenever touring acts are short in supply.

I still don’t know any of their songs, so you’ve come to the wrong place for more details. I’ve covered them before, so check those and fill in the blanks. Shoddy Music Journalism (MUSC 666) would be taught by me if I could apply myself enough to get a professorial doctorate.

The DC having not learned their lesson from last year have graciously allowed Spine, half from Kansas City and half from Chicago (read: Weekend Nachos), to come and wreck shit again. If anything, it probably got even more wild than last time, which I may or may not have forgotten to review. Whoops. Moving on; their sound is similar enough to Weekend Nachos to warrant comparison, but their DNA is similar enough to be a different species. So to the outsider, perhaps they’d think they’d heard the same band twice, albeit with a different singer and more two-step sections isntead of blasts. Just check the track “Who Are You?” for a microcosm of all of Spine’s best attributes. They’re also nice dudes. Singer Antonio’s also a nice dude. He told some joke, but I forgot it. It was pretty funny, trust me.

The superheroes of Hardcore, coming to save the day and make posers cry, Weekend Nachos came like a bat outta heck with their punishing brand of sludge/beatdown/Entombed influenced powerviolence, knowing fully well that they’re trendsetters and realising that giving a fuck would make it less fun. Only yelling angrily along and slamming into people to songs written in a tongue-in-cheek manner is real. Otherwise you’re just uptight.

I must hand it to the Democracy Center; despite the oft clique-y and cabalistic politically correct nature that can pervade the atmosphere, they sure know how to book a show, as the similar (though not identical) sound of the bands culminated into one of the best instances of pit brutality in which few were harmed and all had a smashing time. The setlist was kicked off by the massively catchy “Shot In The Head”, and included crowd-pleasers from the new album including “No Idols and No Heroes”, “S.C.AB.” (guest vocalist included), and some other ones that weren’t “You’re Not Punk” so they don’t matter. lol jk it’s a good album overall.

The room surged back and forth, up and down, side-to-side, and even once in a circle during (I think) “Dog Torture”. Other favourites including “Obituary”, “Black Earth”, “Pain Over Acceptance”, and of course, “Jock Powerviolence” made an appearance. The sock puppet also came back briefly at the beginning of the set, but I’m sure it wasn’t hard enough for the pit.

Yours truly gettin’ his freak on

For the rest of the pictures, go here and/or here. They’re too beautiful to ignore. Love your friends, die laughing.

In the Nervous Light Of Monday. Circle Takes The Square at the Middle East, Boston

Circle Takes The Square existing in 2013 wasn’t a concept I was entirely in the circle about. But indeed, they’re still alive and screaming; Their aethereal, inhuman beauty as humans magnified by their rage and conviction as expressed in a dithyramb of post-everything expression, with a semi-operatic flair for all the natural drama of reality to boot. What a great way to spend Veteran’s Day.

Yoinked from invisibleoranges.com

Having to take care of some other business outside, I was unable to catch the openers, being melodic sludge act VYGR (though I did enjoy their set at deafheaven), emoviolence supergroup United Nations -ostensibly associated with members of  Converge, All Pigs Must Die, Thursday, and Pianos Become The Teeth, to name a few – and activist/conscientious (I think that’s what they’d call it?) rapper B. Dolan, from Lovecraft Country, Rhode Island. However, the intensity, well-picked (however imperfect) setlist of Circle Takes The Square and the low price (only $14? Yup) made it all more than worth it.

While the explosively epic “Interview At The Ruins” would have been my first choice for an encore rather than “Non-Objective Portrait of Karma”, which I feel ends with a squeak rather than a poetic whisper, the setlist was overall well chosen. My preference of the outing from this jam session was the better tracks from mathcore/emoviolence leaning As The Roots Undo, including “Kill The Switch” and “In The Nervous Light of Sunday”, that have their oddly catchy sections and brutal vitriol enough to inspire thrashing in the space around you. Despite some people aimlessly shoving any bodies unfortunate enough to meet their arbitrary pinball motions, I feel that any acts of violence committed are justified. One must make a great attempt to be elegant about it, however. This isn’t Hatebreed, people.

Tracks from the new album, Decompositions: Volume One, fell largely flat and overblown, but they were still decent pieces of music by a band playing an art form that has many imposters but few stalwart enough to attempt a pure, if not well-produced, version of screamo. The short and heavy “Spirit Narrative”, the unfocused but promising “Enter By The Narrow Gates”, and the caustic “Singing Vengeance Into Being” were highlights, where the remaining songs were highly reminiscent of GlassJaw’s recent release entitled Coloring Book; they build up throughout the track to an unsatisfying climax, failing to truly live up to the energy it could potentially unleash. A slightly more aggressive version of At The Drive-In would be a good way to describe it.

Taking the natural evolution of a band into weirder territories into consideration, CttS has not made an erroneous step forward. After all, in the 8 years since 2004’s As The Roots Undo, they’ve undergone many molecular reshifts, and human attitudes toward things change, including their view towards what kind of band they were in the past. With that being said, let’s hope that skramz or screamo or post-hardcore or whatever you wish to call it, sticks around for as long as people are too sad to stay within the well-defined limits of punk. Go listen to Optimus Prime and cry about the lack of activity in your favourite genre.

Melt-Banana at the Sinclair, and Death Angel at the Middle East because I got there late

Art, man. That’s all I could think of.

I mean, damn, Neptune. That’s some art rock right there for ya. Imagine if The Boredoms were even more profoundly disturbed? Neptune is an appropriate name for them, as some of the more atmospheric and groovy passages bring to mind the gaseous cerulean winter waste of the aforementioned celestial sphere. It sounded like music made for garbage disposals with a taste for Mike Patton’s Pranzo Oltranzista, which was essentially an experiment with musique concrète that could be what an alien would consider good fuck music. I didn’t hate it, I was just a little disillusioned by the sheer ART of it all, what with the weird for weirdness’ sake home-made instruments, which included (but were not limited to) a guitar that seems to be made of little more than a few wires and transducer thingamabobs, a keyboard that appeared to have been made with an old lunchbox, and hip attachments that, when struck with a bowstring in a similar manner to a viol, will produce an abhorrently eldritch sound.

These men walk among us. It was interesting.

Next were a band that was somehow less weird even though they’re called Brain Tentacles and consist of a saxophonist and a drummer. At least Neptune had sort of a guitar, drums, and keyboard setup. However, since it appears the dudes in Brain Tentacles are wicked into metal, brah, they actually pulled off some pretty straight sounding Shining/Ihsahn-esque prog experiment with enough extreme metal tinges to make you nod aggressively at points. More catchy grooves to be found, and Gunface of The Red Chord (R.I.P.) made a guest bass appearance for the last song. Handsome guy hardcore hairstyle, well-maintained beard, and later-era Ulver shirts are the new black (metal).

And to top off this Dada sundae were Melt-Banana, though in a more adorable and lightweight duo format, consisting of the core members:  singer/squeaker Yako (also in control of the drum tracks and non-guitar effects) and guitarist Agata, and a short wall of speakers that made the lack of a drummer seem completely normal, as all the thump and thud was still there.

melt

That glowing thing is I suppose the device that controlled the audio fireworks. The setlist was (predictably) made largely of songs from the new album, Fetch, with some oldies tossed in like grenades of familiarity. Notable in my mind were the more recent “Chain Shot To Have Some Fun” off the catchy Cell Scape, the punk-meets-glitch of “Cat Brain Land” from Bambi’s Dilemma, and a handful of noiseballs from the artgrind classic, their debut Speak Squeak Creak. You can bet this was at least as crazy as when I saw them last at T.T. The Bear’s. A constantly undulating mass of excitable humans who had stood in wait since the beginning of the show to get ripshit. And how could one not wish to thrash about in response to the blasting, beeping, scratching, crashing dithyramb of constructed noises like a demolition of a nightmarish acidscape? Art, man.

As for the next one, I was busy making jam from sound waves up until I arrived in time to catch the later half of Revocation‘s set, smack in the middle of “Invidious”, and then coasting from “Dismantle The Dictator” to a lofty end at “No Funeral”. And all were at peace.

Then came 3 Inches Of Blood to make war with everyone’s brains, concentrating mainly on the newer material that sounds much more rooted in the epic and grand stylings of ‘Maiden and ‘Priest (who else?), rather than the raging power metal of their earlier releases. If anything, they found a way to make their songs even catchier than before, which I couldn’t have fathomed was possible.

Damn.

“Deadly Sinners” and “The Goatrider’s Horde” are the classic and mandatory tunes, of course, but the new tunes weren’t at all frightening or offensive, so I feel it was well worth the experience.

Snowcapping this event were Death Angel, who I haven’t familiarised myself with aside from tracks off The UltraViolence and Relentless Retribution. I know, I fucked up. So I was underprepared, and the only song I recognised was “Truce”. But hey, it was good to see one of the underrated titans of thrash in a cozy venue at the very least.

Thanks for the ticket, Scott!

My God, It’s Full of Slams! Wormed at the Cambridge Elks Lodge

Best Death Metal event in Boston this year, they said. I’ll say, that’s about right. All I know is that after that night I wanted war with the makers of Busch Light for calling what they sell “beer”.  One could be hard-pressed to say that even Morbid Angel, happening right now as I suffer from burning eyes as a predictable aftereffect from David Firth cartoons and the imminent, if not already occurred, passing of my own grand-mère, will not top the sheer international wow-factor. Bands from both Spain AND Japan stopping by a venue the size of a rich man’s living room to absolutely level it with slabs of riff that the old masters couldn’t have imagined being a thing in our world. Come a long way from Ripping Corpse and Possessed, we have. And now the monsters of the past have something to growl in approval of.

Opening were hometown heroes and probably one of the more interesting acts around, Parasitic Extirpation, showing all the nerds that technical and unrelentingly brutal can be a combination. “Vertical Human Splicing” and “Drifing With The Dead” brought it straight to the face, and a whole host of other tracks I don’t know the name of because I don’t speak brutal growl were also delectable sides to this meaty music mountain. I was quite hungry at the time this was written.

Cognitive of New Jersey were aight. A brief melodic moment during their first or second song was the most captivating thing they played, but otherwise they were relatively inoffensive death metal filler. Kind of like a disappointing entrèe (there we go again) to fellow statesmen in Condemned, whose heaviness and tightness of sound had me altogether quite engrossed. They’re so radiantly good at death metal that one of their guitarists, who is bald, had on a Gold’s Gym sweater and I could still tell he was at least going to the show. Vocalist Angel was also funny, but I forget what he said, so take my word for it. Their most recent outing, Realms of the Ungodly, is an exercise in slamming brutal death metal done right. “Embodied In Elms Of Eternal Misery” and “Forged Within Lecherous Offerings” in particular are what a lot of modern DM bands should take notes on. Legit. Cephalotripsy (Angel’s other project) would do well to either start sounding like Condemned, or just stop existing. There’s no turning back.

String theory is all the buzz here

The “surprise” of the night, not because they were good as expected, but better, was Tokyo’s Infernal Revulsion, bringing some Japanese brutality and sickness that fucks with deathcore, meaning that old-school mashup of hardcore rhythms and Dying Fetus-esque technicality. Hell, one of their songs almost sounded like a rip-off of the aforementioned in its beginning bars, but that’s beside the point. While it would be easy to catch wind of their existence and cast them off as another J-Waking The Cadaver wannabe a-la Gorevent, one of their guitarists does sport a Between The Buried And Me Shirt, and their sound could be likened to Vomit Remnants, who are tight as hell. Plus, they’re from Japan, and it takes a special kind of lacklustre to say that any band hailing from that magnificent land can be anything short of “pretty sweet”.

And for the crème-de la quantum-crème, Wormed, with their entirely atypical yet righter-than-many style of progressive death metal caving in your skull. The weapon of choice; a hardcover version of The Schrödinger’s Cat Trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson, because it is as mind-bending and maddening as it is enlightening.

The main factor separating Wormed from their similarly heavy peers in the genre is their lyrical subject focus. Most Brutal Death Metal bands speak lovingly of torture, (oft violent) non-consensual sex, necromantic activity of the amorous kind, sickness (spiritual, mental and physical), and of course, good ol’ fashioned homicide, to list just a few key topics on which one may base their criminal thesis. Wormed, however, looks to the sky and in theoretical textbooks for their inspiration, and are concerned with much more frightening subject matter. When one stops to consider it, life in an environment as hostile, unpredictable, and everchanging as space would be much more scary than the idea of being disembowelled, because at least then you canimagine the type of torments you will undergo before a slow and painful death. Maybe in space you’ll be doomed with the responsibility of rebuilding humanity or being sucked through a black hole to pop into another universe, where untold horrors and wonders await.

So moving onto the actual music, it fucking crushes, and is progressive, but doesn’t dip into any noodling to get the point across that the music is challenging. After over a decade of waiting for the true successor to the already ear-opening Planisphærium, came Exodromos, and the abyssal madness has been able to continue. Breakdowns and slams that hearken back to Suffocation and Cryptopsy, inspiring moves of fist completely independent of any book learning; drum patterns as dense and chaotic as those in Defeated Sanity, though with a more scientific and measured; all interspersed with samples and atmosphere that makes one visualize cold holographic displays and the burnt out husks of spaceships, the beeping and flaring of control panels, and the unintelligible gurgled colloquy opened by uncanny, fibrous monsters, supplied in vocal form by vocalist Phlegeton. If the sci-fi/horror game franchise Dead Space were a metal album, it’d be written by Wormed.

The female robotic voice naming each track only helped one feel as though they were like Major Tom in “Space Oddity”, floating without hope save for a disembodied vocal presence.  If any band can claim to have captured all the uncertainty and violence of physics in empty cosmos, then it is Wormed. One can only discover what awaits by listening. Highlights of the set included “Undeciphering The Inquantificability”, “Geodesic Dome”, “Tunnel of Ions”, and the whole new album. Everything else was just a bonus.

So after being mathematically flattened and then multivectorally ionized, I returned homeward with the true Spaniard in tow, and we both regretted our neglecting to try for a photo op. A Spaniard With The Spaniards deal, perhaps. Better luck whenever, perhaps.

The The The The The. Between the Buried and Me at the Palladium

How does one classify Four Loko? It’s certainly not beer; it tastes far too good for that. It’s not vodka; it’s got the telltale fizz and lack of gasoline aftertaste. It’s certainly not whiskey because it doesn’t taste like hellfire. I’ll just say that it’s the blood of Dionysus and leave it at that. Boy, is it good. Especially if you haven’t eaten, then it just goes straight to your damn face.

So in the entirely wrong mindset I went to see Between The Buried And Me. In a familiar moment of brilliance I realised that every band on this tour has the word ‘the’ in their name. Wow. The definite article is king. Some grammarian make a punny joke about that. I digress.

There was no question about my attendance with this one right here. I had the funds, I had the time, and I still have a huge space in my heart for these North Carolinian wizards whose music is like off-Broadway musicals meet Opeth meet Pink Floyd meet Cave In meet João Gilberto meets Dream Theater if they were good meets Botch meets Freddy Murcury. It’s a clusterbomb/fuck of influences that all somehow manages to make writing 20 minute songs excusable in my mind.

But for the openers, because a good review is chronological, should the universe allow me to experience it in such a fashion, and it normally does. The Safety Fire from London (like you didn’t assume they were already, because I sure did and I was right) were an okay primer for what was to come. They play a relatively inoffensive kind of prog metal meets metalcore and some poppy-esque sensibilities. This we call ‘djent’, usually, but some people would rather me not. If I see a duck, I’ll have to call it a hang-glider, which I suppose is technically correct if you feel like a duck while hang-gliding. Don’t be obnoxious to wildlife.

They’ll drink to that.

After that little musical handy wrapped up, The Contortionist, now officially rollin’ [blunts] with Mike Lessard of fellow progressive and high-minded –in both ways– Last Chance To Reason, stuck entirely to their mindblowing new album, Intrinsic, which just about raised the bar on everything they’ve done on Exoplanet, which was marvellous in its own right. It’s like if elevator music were heavy, but in the best way one could possibly mean it. Simultaneously light, airy, and melodic, yet crushing at a moment’s whim, without the gaps and awkwardness that could come from a lesser band trying to transition from asteroids colliding to doing heroin on an armchair. Hearing “Cortical” live was just too good of a treat, and I hope that while they bring back the oldies on future tours, they keep dazzling my ears with their introspective steaze.

The Faceless have dropped into odd territories with their latest album, Deconsecrate, and have essentially become the fat fedora atheists (FFA’s) that one oft encounters vomiting pseudo-intellectual babble onto a forum somewhere, and making themselves hard to agree with even if you share their general viewpoint. I’m all for hailing science, but I wouldn’t write a song or make a shirt about it.

Come on.

But despite this, I’ll always still hold a soft spot for The Faceless on the basis that their first two releases were just sooooo good. And “The Eidolon Reality” was a pretty killer track before it was fucked with until the chorus was so unrecognisably cut up by the dull blades of an overzealous audio technician that it is now the audio equivalent of Joan Rivers’ face. And in that statement I believe I am somehow implying that there was ever any good to be found in JR’s mug to begin with. Other than that, I just found myself patiently appreciating the actually heavy parts of the new songs and revelling in nostalgia during “Coldly Calculated Design” and “Xenochrist”, but still sad to see a band I once obsessed over become just an auxiliary band that will play second hurdy-gurdy to something I’m actually stoked on.

And how could one not be stoked on Between The Buried And Me, who are probably one of the three metal bands out of North Carolina that aren’t sludge or doom?

Busting out the entirety of Parallax 2: Future Sequence? Why yes, I’ll come down and peep that right quick.

There’s no such thing as a ceiling when it comes to BtBaM’s sound. It will always continue getting weirder, and the concepts progressively more spacey. They are spacemen. At least I say they are. It’s a marvel that they do this without prolonged exposure to LSD and/or shrooms or just really potent weed.

Regardless of nonexistent narcotics, they’ve still got grandiose compositions swirling around in their collective head, with enough artistry as warrants growing a scraggly beard and maintaining a mellow aura despite the music being a mad mix of progressive death metal, hardcore, and cosmic soft rock textures that would send any lesser man cackling into a garret. Scoff with thinly veiled derision if thou may, but taking this whole (awesome) new album to the face in a live setting has just reminded me how much I love these guys. From the metallized surf of “Bloom”, to the powerbombing breakdowns of “Telos”, the epic headbang territory of closer “Silent Flight Parliament”, etc. etc. I’m going to not nerd out, here. It was a good show (great show, even), and we’ll leave it at that.

And Fizzle.