Ramlord goes to MIT, Protean Collective’s CD release @ T.T. The Bear’s, and Gangbang #2 @ Church

Threefer nothing, you cheapskates.

Ramlord, Nuclear Special Forces, Decrepit Existence, & Mata Ratas @ MIT Senior Hall

Well isn’t that cute? My band’s logo is on the bottom of the flyer. Too bad we couldn’t play and were replaced with Mata Ratas, who didn’t even have a drummer, so Mateo of Decrepit Existence —who I missed due to a booze run, so tough luck for you, no review— and some guy I didn’t know jammed away on guitar and bass while people (yours truly included) stepped up and played random bullshit while they tried to gallop along. Does this count as my seeing a band? Does this count as me being a guest drummer and thus my first actual live appearance? Useless either way. It was fun(ny) at least.

Next up were Nuclear Special Forces, who brought the goshdarn ruckus, as usual. Their mix of d-beat, crust, powerviolence, and just plain being angry and intoxicated quickly got people surging, pitwise. Typically, people surge arhythmically, but at least I tried to surge rhythmically. A pit at MIT; who’d have foreseen such a thing? Well, if there can be pittage at Northeastern, Tufts, or the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, maybe the school punks can occasionally have their moment to shine. With the drunken mosh ensuing (with some people holding lit cigarettes, no less), it was like “Look Ma, No Brains!”, and it was awesome. For fans of Flesh Parade and/or Charles Bronson, because all fast music sounds the same.

Ramlord played a buncha stuff from their most recent LP, Crippled Minds, Sundered Wisdom, even though they’ve got plenty to choose from. C’mon, guys. Bring back the oldies so I may sweat away this layer of permafrost. They’ve a split with Nuclear Devastation coming out soon, so peep the new song and shed the tears of nescient slaves.

Substance(s) Consumed: A biiiiig gulp of vodka, and a nip of Hypnotiq. I was sufficiently turnt.

Protean Collective, Acaro, & Pathogenic @ T.T. The Bear’s

A local show that didn’t make me want to cry? Yes! I have finally found it.

So I come gallivanting in a few minutes late for Pathogenic, formerly known disparagingly by me as ‘PathoDjentic’, but luckily they just decided to become spacey deathcore in the vein of Aegaeon. A marked improvement; more brutality, more technicality rather than false and misleading chugvertisement, and just more fun to hear overall. Thanks.

Acaro came to kill, and unfortunately they claimed few lives, but as far as captive ears and an engaged audience, they succeeded with their brand of heroic old-school Metalcore/MeloDeath both brutal and inspirational. If you’re not hip to them yet, you’re missing out on some sweet licks and actually not cheesy vocals. Certainly better than All That Remains these days. o0o0o0o.

 

The lack of energy in the crowd was disturbing, but “Return Of Jafar” made the mosh entirely mandatory in my eyes, even if it was the only pit of the night aside from a few started during Protean Collective’s set, which brought sufficient amusement to yours truly.

Speaking of Protean Collective, they’re some righteous jams. I give them a thumbs up for looking happy to play, aside from the singer/guitarist, who honestly looked kinda like he was made of wood. Or perhaps more accurately, petrified, but stage fright is common, so. One other small gripe, he barely strayed from the same croony singing that wants of variation after three songs. Regardless, it was a good blend of some Akercocke, Cynic, a touch of Gordian Knot, what have you; a pleasant prog stew to end the night.

Substance(s) Consumed: SXE except cigs.

Gangbang #2 feat. Untombed, Composted, Carnivora, Forest of Remorse, and Horrible Earth

Never have dads been so sexualised before the arrival of Tim & Eric. Oh my graces, what damage they have done to our intellect. The works of Plato, Aristotle, Wilde, Rushdie, Confucius, all the great masters; for null. And all because Tim & Eric is a thing.

Moving on, Horrible Earth was okay earth. I wasn’t offended, but wasn’t engaged, either, but they did give me a free CD so that’s chill. Cheers, guys!

Not since the last time the sun actually shone with splendour did I see my dads in Forest Of Remorse on stage and in your face/ass. They’ve only gotten simultaneously more technical and more slam-happy, and my dad RJ’s vocal range has gotten to the point where he can imitate four or five different types of alien swamp monster, it’s rad. Hatemoshing was on the agenda, but not enough people signed up.

Carnivora were. They could either be taken as an awful death metal band or a painfully average deathcore band, and I’d rather have nothing to do with either thing, thank you. I’m no longer 16.

My dads in Composted were who my pants were most excitable about seeing. Their first show in a long time, and still no album (but a brand new Cosby shirt design, wtf?), it’s a spiritually cathartic moment, slamming silly to songs about killing hardcore kids’ girlfriends, bronzing their vaginas, and beating said kids to death with them. “That old chestnut”, says vocalist Evan. I salute by two-stepping.

Slam and glam go ham in hand.

Now everyone in Composted is bald, but they made up for it by playing a “Wolverine Blues” cover, which got much ignorance. I should feel shame, but the song just asks for 80s NY thuggery rather than however people mosh in Sweden. Do they even?

I must take this opportunity to commend the 6″ tall motherfucker in a red At The Gates shirt for throwing down better than everyone. But here’s my dad and the Spaniard.

Lastly but certainly not leastly, Untombed, taking influence from the savage old school death metal leaning slam mechanics of Skinless, utilising dual vocals in a way that doesn’t make me wonder “Hey, why are there two twats running around on stage instead of just one?”. And rest assured, neither Juan nor Dave are twats, since they deliver the goods vocally, trading off on gutturals, bellows, screeches, etc., providing a spectrum of throat abuse while the guitars painted a murder scene, the drums the instrument. And Dave gave me a shoutout onstage, aww. If I could blush, I would, being referred to as “Sean Genovese” somewhere outside of the internet or a will-call booth.

Substance(s) Consumed: A few bowls to the face.

And there you have it, now I can sleep peacefully. Stay tuned for more writing about things that are vaguely related to metal and/or hardcore music, because that’s all I can write about here now, so as to save myself further shame. I’m such a downer.

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.

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.

It’s my 2 year anniversary and 150th post. Damn. Nails – Abandon All Life

Abandon All Life (Southern Lord Records)

Wow. Just wow. Words cannot describe the sheer brutality and audio-terror inflicted by California hate-crew NAILS on their third full-length opus. This album brings all of the hatred bubbling under every human’s seemingly still skin, and causes it to erupt with the force of Eyjafjallajökull. NAILS has flawlessly perfected their blend of the  blasting Metalcore fury of TRAP THEM with the powerviolent swagger of CAPITALIST CASUALTIES and MAGRUDERGRIND, galloping D-beat in the vein of ANTI-CIMEX and RIISTETYT, a savage dose of thrashcore leaning that hearkens to fellow warriors EARLY GRAVES and TRASH TALK, topped with a classic Swedish Death Metal guitar tone like that of ENTOMBED and UNLEASHED. Taking influence from diverse, yet brutal sources, NAILS was born ready to destroy, and they have been quite successful.

2009’s Obscene Humanity and 2010’s Unsilent Death held you by the throat and didn’t let up until they were over, but now, they beat you with shovelfuls of hot coal. Last year’s split with SKIN LIKE IRON and revamped Obscene Humanity joints showed that they were doing anything but lying and occasionally diverting energy to the upcoming LP. NAILS has a work-ethic that makes their brand of Hardcore so vital and punishing for the listeners, just how they like it. With Abandon All Life now unleashed on the world, no one is safe in the pit. 

From start to end, NAILS has shown that yes, they can up the ante as far as violence goes. Pure American aggression was plentiful in previous releases, and rest assured, it’s the same blood-boltered beast of old, but they’ve only grown more violent, and more willing to see death and destruction unfold before them. Their newly added guitarist Saba may have a lot to do with this increase in their merciless musical gnashing, as guitars were once solely on the shoulders of vocalist Todd Jones (ex-BETRAYED). Armed with another soldier to cover more killing ground, it’s game-set-match for your face.

I could sit here and describe all of the tracks, but it’d just become hyperboles relating to how the band will metaphorically kill you. Just know that you’re in for a ride, start to end, as the album wastes no time in opening with “In Exodus”, a punishing breakdown busting in the doors of your ears, and leads immediately into a furious grind section with Todd’s howls doubly vitriolic, and the drums crashing like thousands of buildings collapsing at once. It’s nuts how much speed and aggression NAILS can pack into a single track, and yet still do sludgier hits like the closer Suum Cuique justice in the same fashion. Even more amazing is how even though this is their third full-length outing of misanthropic grinding hatecore, we’re still eagerly anticipating the next ravaging. In short, this is some good shit, homie. They are currently on tour with XIBALBA and EARLY GRAVES, so I look forward to hearing how well you fare just being in the venue when the eruption happens.

The Verdict: Fuck.

Grade: A+

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.

Degradation (Of Mental Faculties). Sick Fix and Coke Bust @ Uncle Crummy’s

Tis the week to wake up and take life seriously. Or at least as seriously as I’m willing to take it without becoming lame, you see. Let’s dance.

The openers of this non-ironic gathering of 40 oz. bottles was Terminal Crisis, a newly formed Boston Hardcore band featuring Krystina of Curmudgeon on vocals and Tom Draize on guitar, and someone else from BearTrap I don’t know by name. Quite solid, I look forward to their continued existence.

Next were No Sir I Won’t, who aren’t big fans of cops and the politic among us.

Pissed, loud, and red in the face, delivering right hooks in quick succession in the form of catchy Punk leaning on Hardcore ferocity, but always staying well in the realm that will subdue any attempts to throw tha fuck down. Not that some won’t try anyway.

Coke Bust, the superheroes of Straight-Edge Hardcore, are best experienced without a barricade, this much is true.

And shirtless

Having seen these strapping lads play at Maryland Deathfest, I was even more stoked to see them in an intimate venue where one may not only sweat on fellow moshers, but also the band themselves. Mic-sharing ensures the transmission of several low-level contagions, and a wrongly timed jump can lead to one nearly crashing into the drumset and being the truest showstopper in the sense of the word. It was manic, there were injuries, and it was a rip roarin’ good time. Coke Bust’s fusion of Powerviolence in short bursts of hepped up punk energy with a rock’n’roll sensibility that can lock into a solid groove and bust out a solo atypical of the genre makes them a sweet deal both in studio and when being headbutted by the vocalist.

One must applaud the drummer of Coke Bust, for he is also the drummer of Sick Fix, who are, as you may have guessed, another SxE outing, but this time joined by a superheroine.

With members of Magrudergrind also leading the charge into your ear canal, you can certainly bet the guitar tone is that sickly, almost wet sounding buzz that brings to mind grind bands like Nasum and Rotten Sound, as well as good ol’ Entombed in their death metal days. Sick Fix’s sound comes out as an amalgm of Nails fury and Weekend Nachos heaviness, with more controlled speed (i.e. little-no blasting) and of course, female vokills. It got rowdy, and several concussions were sustained, both by slipping on the floor slick with all manner of spilled beer, and blows to the head, intentional or not. Err on the side of caution and get knocked into a trash can, or get knocked out.

The transformation of vocalist Michelle from her off-stage (metaphorical stage here) personality and her on-stage mania is something to be seen. Catch them if they happen to roll through your area, buy something, get it signed, wear it every day. I’m nearing the end, and it’s nice.

ALBUM REVIEW: GRAVE

Endless Procession Of Souls (Century Media)

Let me tell you how good of a band GRAVE is; They’re the kind of catchy, nasty, no-frilly laces Swedish Death Metal that almost made me want to go to the MORBID ANGEL/DARK FUNERAL show just to witness live. I very well could have, but I must be conservative with money, you see. GRAVE’s running not only on ten full-length albums, but associations with other legendary Swedeath bands like THERION (old, of course), ENTOMBED, and THE PROJECT HATE MCMXCIX, so yes, they have what may be called a career. Look ’em up on LinkedIn. The question that arises is, how does Endless Procession Of Souls measure up to everything else in the Death Metal scene after existing for over a quarter of a century?

It pains me to say it’s quite underwhelming. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a decent album, packed to the bursting point with groovy headbangers, pooka-pooka-pooka circle pit bits, and classic slowdowns that will get a good zombie mosh going. Though these elements are used well by guys who clearly know their craft, they almost seem to be resting on their laurels and not trying their best anymore. For the first song or three, you’re finger-drumming along and whatnot, clearly diggin’ where it’s going, but by them time you’ve reached “Flesh Epistle”, you’re already wishing they’d either try something different or just begin eating each other.

One hearkens back to the Into The Grave, where they simply blazed through the album in an idiotic brutal frenzy, armed with can-of-bees production and guitars that sounded like gore soaked chainsaws, or Fiendish Regression, which saw them move in a slightly different direction from the standard Swedeath sound, while still maintaining what made GRAVE entertaining. Now, it just feels like something’s missing. Something that could ideally turn just another Swedish Death Metal album into a masterpiece that would re-claim their spot on the throne as the kings of all that is ugly in Sweden.

One glaring weakness is the vocals. Where the fuck did the intensity run off to? I’m guessing it was stolen by Travis Ryan of CATTLE DECAPITATION fame. While I’m not one to trash bands, AUTOPSY’s vocals, as far as I have been exposed to them, grate on my senses, and I feel like even I could have done a better job at the mic. GRAVE, while they’ve never had a bad vocal performance as far as I’m concerned, have done much better in the past, and it begs the question as to why Ola decided to neuter himself with the standard everyman style of Swedish Death Metal vocals that you’d probably hear on an UNLEASHED record.

Speaking of UNLEASHED, they get dangerously close to sounding like them on this record. UNLEASHED does what they do best, which is writing and playing songs about Vikings, war, Norse mythology, and evil stuff, who knows, really. GRAVE is just supposed to be all about death and rotting stuff. While the music is not entirely unsuitable for a zombie invasion (though I’d personally pick a better album that Endless Procession), the lyrics could easily be swapped out with nothing but tank bombardments and trench warfare. Not only is the music and atmosphere created uninspired, but they insist on using the same songwriting techniques over and over and over. How many times can you have every instrument cut out aside from the guitars to segue into a Thrashy part, or have a slowdown section with a random solo over it, or recycle the same punky Swedeath section that we all know by heart with a slightly different SLAYER police siren solo over it? Not enough times, if you ask GRAVE.

The highlights are few and far between, but the straight up Thrash section in “Perimortem”, as well as the consistenly doom-tinghed crawl of the closing track “Epos” are welcome change-ups from the endless procession of tired riffing and cut’n’paste drum patterns from the Swedish Death Metal handbook. While it’s still a well-produced bit of face-ripping from a band that was crucial in inventing the formula, the mediocre outweighs the good.

The verdict: It would be better with fresh ideas, more gore, and a production that made it sound like it was recorded in a tin shack dripping with fungus.

Str8 Outta Visby

Grade: C

By Sean “That Black Metal Dude” Genovese