December 30, 2008

A Comment on Comments

Part of the fun of doing this kind of blog is talking about the stuff that gets posted. The stat-counter is telling me you guys are stopping by, and I have to assume at least one or two of you are downloading things. So what do you think of what you're hearing? Want more of a certain artist? Got an altogether different request? Go ahead and post a comment. Even if I don't have what you're looking for, someone else might. Also, I have shared little tidbits about when/where I first heard some of this stuff, and if you've got similar stories, it would be cool to hear. Don't be shy.

December 28, 2008


Flotsam and Jetsam
Doomsday for the Deceiver

Flotsam and Jetsam's debut album is top-notch thrash, bolstered by the involvement of Jason Newstead, who not only played bass here but also wrote a good chunk of the songs, lyrics and all. Of course, he would leave shortly after for bigger and better things, and the band's sound never recovered. Their second album is good enough, but what should've been their breakthrough, 1990's When the Storm Comes Down was marred by terrible production and an all-to-serious tone. From then on, it was cult status at best, and like so many other bands from this era, they struggled to find their voice during the darkness of the 90s. I will hand it to them, though; they're one of the few thrash band outside the big four that never split up (Overkill's another one, fyi). There were a few multi-year gaps between albums, but they've been at it in one form or another the entire time.

But anyway, Doomsday is their debut, and it's chock full of speedy rhythms, killer riffage, and Eric AK's oddly clear vocals. I suspect his voice is one of the things that turned a lot of people off from these guys, but it sounds great on this record, where a little cheesy squealing fits in just fine. If "Hammerhead" doesn't knock your socks off, then, man, I don't know what to tell you. Oh, and notice how the beginning of the title track sounds strikingly similar to Motley Crue's "God Bless the Children of the Beast". I'm not making accusations, just an observation.

I bought this on cassette when I was in 7th or 8th grade, and my mom, ever concerned about the influence this stuff was having on me, insisted we listen to it in the car on the ride home. I was sweating bullets, but thankfully there were no obvious references to satan, sex, or dirty words. I lived to head-bang another day, and Flotsam and Jetsam survived the mom test.

This record is essential.

Doomsday for the Deceiver

Oh, and by the way, this is the 20th anniversary remastered version (and it sounds *fantastic*) which features one of the band's demos tacked on at the end.

December 24, 2008

December 22, 2008

Good Day for a Hanging

Wasted Youth
Black Daze

LA's Wasted Youth came out of the same scene that gave us The Adolescents, TSOL, Bad Religion, and The Vandals. Their debut, Reagan's In is a punk classic. But like many of their contemporaries, as the years went on, their lineup changed significantly, and as a result so did their sound. Black Daze is their final record, and it sounds a whole heck of a lot like a heavier early LA Guns. In other words, this is vaguely sleazy heavy metal that flirts with thrash on occasion, but mostly just melts your face with blazing guitar solos and wicked riffage. And vocalist Paolo Rossi is a dead ringer for Phil Lewis at times. They cover Van Halen's "I'm On Fire", and it's great, even if Rossi can't hit Roth's high notes. Oh, and this lineup has recently gotten a little notice because it featured Dave Kushner, who is now in Velvet Revolver, on bass and Queens of the Stone Age's Joey Castillo on drums. Both of those guys also played with Danzig at one point, though Kushner's tenure was brief.

At any rate, Wasted Youth were by no means the only band to attempt a transition into metal, but they were one of the more successful in my opinion. Of course successful to me and actual success are two very different things, so it's no real surprise this was their final record. The punks wouldn't stand for their bands going metal, and the metal heads didn't trust anything that came from the punks. It's sort of strange to think about now, but boy those scenes were at odds back then. But I digress...

Black Daze

December 18, 2008

Swords of Zeus/Maximum Suction

Lords of the Crimson Alliance
Lords of the Crimson Alliance

Barbarians of the New Earth

Lords of the Crimson Alliance are the stuff of legend between me and my good buddy Steve. He made reference to them when he signed my 10th grade yearbook (in 1993), and I have e-mails about them from him as recent as August of this year. These are not bookends to years of silence about The Lords, mind you, but just two examples that illustrate the 15+ years we've discussed this record. I won't go into detail regarding exactly how nerdy these conversations have become over the years; suffice to say, the band has been shrouded in mystery for us from day one.

Well, after digging around a bit, as best I can tell, Lords of the Crimson Alliance were in fact the band Grudge playing under a different name. Grudge operated Grudge Records, the label on which the only Lords album appeared (there was also a Grudge from Billings, MT in the early 00s who were not, to my knowledge, also Lords of the Crimson Alliance). Their sounds are pretty similar: classic heavy metal influenced by Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, with a healthy dose of hard rock punching through. It's unsophisticated, sure, but it rocks in the best way. There are plenty of similarities between these records, but they're not obviously the same band either. Lords of the Crimson Alliance adheres to the fantasy style favored by power metal bands, with lyrics about dragons and gods and what have you. The vocalist, Farcry (seriously), shrieks in a manner that could only happen in 1986. Grudge mixes in plenty of hard rock style lyrics (check out "White House Sluts"), and the vocals are a little gruffer, and are actually in the normal range for an adult human male. However, both albums feature almost identical narration, and the drums on both records sound suspiciously like a drum machine. But, you know, production style for hard rock in the 80s was brutal to drummers, so I'm not ready to say 100 percent that this isn't a live drummer. I will say he kind of blows, though, if it is actually a dude. Actually, as I listen to "White House Sluts" right now, I'm quite certain this is a drum machine. Huh.

At any rate, two albums of supreme metal/hard rock here. Check 'em both and decide for yourself: two great bands who both failed to capture anyone's attention, or one great band who failed twice.

Lords of the Crimson Alliance
Barbarians of the New Earth

December 16, 2008

Pray For Rock

Sounds of Liberation

Ché featured two ex-members of Kyuss; Drummer Brant Bjork handled guitar and vocals, while other drummer Alfredo Hernández handled drums. Bass was covered by Unida bassist Dave Dinsmore. If you're at all familiar w/ Bjork's solo work, then you already basically know what Ché sounds like. I think a bunch of these songs have been folded into the Brant Bjork and the Bros canon anyway and are played live by them frequently, which makes sense. We're talking groovy, straightforward, weed-smoke-clouded desert rock. At 2 instrumentals and 5 vocalized tracks, this is a quick 35-minute affair, but that just means it's ok to listen twice in a row. Standout tracks are "Adelante" and "The Day the Pirate Retired", but there's not a clunker in the bunch.

Oh, and my cd version of this has the cover and back reversed, with the band photo and upc side on the front and the logo and title on the back, so I've kept it that way. Just so you know.

Sounds of Liberation

December 13, 2008

Just Call Me Sky

Naz Nomad and the Nightmares (The Damned)
Give Daddy The Knife Cindy

Naz Nomad and the Nightmares was really just The Damned playing a bunch of old garage and rock covers. It's a pretty stark contrast to the stuff The Damned were doing in 1984, so maybe that's why they did it under a pseudonym. At any rate, this record has a bunch of covers and two originals that are pretty damn good. Timeline-wise, this falls in between Strawberries (1982) and Phantasmagoria (1985), and if I'm not mistaken is the last record to feature Captain Sensible until he rejoined in the 90s. It's a cool little fun project that never got a lot of attention as far as I know.

On a side note, The Damned just released a new record called So, Who's Paranoid?. It's got fantastic minimalist cover art, but the sound just isn't there. I'm trying to give it a fair shake, but it's not doing much for me right now.

Give Daddy The Knife Cindy

December 9, 2008

All Things Bright and Beautiful

Capitalism is Cannibalism

Not to be confused with the NY thrash band who obviously went on to much greater popularity, England's Anthrax were a prime example of the UK's anarcho-punk movement of the early 80s. They were one of the best bands to be a part of the whole Crass Records scene, and it's a real shame they were so short lived. This ep and one other ep were the only official releases (I'll post it some time), and then there were a coupl'a demos and some comp tracks. In 2007 all of this stuff was collected on a disc called One Last Drop which I don't have, but should, if for no other reason than for the incredible artwork.

Capitalism is Cannibalism

December 4, 2008

McDonaldland Massacre

Blessed is the Black

Seattle's Coven were one of a million minor-league thrash bands in the late 80s, but this album holds a special place in my heart due to "McDonaldland Massacre", which was a staple of my 7th grade year. It's easily the best track on the record, but there's still plenty of other good stuff here. I *love* the production on this record, which is kind of strange since it really sounds kind of crappy. But the drums in particular sound great to my ears on the fast parts (and trust me, this isn't all headbanging start to finish, though the fast songs tend to be better). I don't think these guys ever really built up any sort of national fan base, despite releasing two more albums after this one. Honestly, had they not stuck it out for two more records, I might be tempted to dismiss this record as a goof. But no, this was a real band full of dudes who were serious about metal. And god bless them for it. This is really for die-hard thrash metal fans, but even if your not one, give it a try.

Blessed is the Black

December 2, 2008

Bottom of the Barrel

Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush
Tales of the Unexpected

Canada's Mahogany Rush will forever be remembered as being about two steps away from a Jimi Hendrix cover band, but by 1979's Tales of the Unexpected, the first to feature guitarist, vocalist, and primary songwriter Frank Marino's name in the band name (I think), they'd really moved past that (despite the fact that there's a Hendrix cover on the record). Part of it is the time period, as this is steeped in late-70s arena rock and features some pretty heavy synthesizer noodling in the first and fourth tracks. But part of it is the strength of Marino's songwriting and skill on the guitar. Of the four studio tracks here, two are covers ("All Along the Watchtower" and a particularly cool version of The Beatles' "Norwegian Wood"). Of the two originals, the title track is definitely the standout. What begins as a low-key bluesy jam erupts into an 8-minute opus of rock-jazz-fusion wankery. You gotta hear it. The live side is good too, but you know, I've just never been into live records much.

My uncle was a big fan of these guys back in the day, and he had pretty good taste.

Tales of the Unexpected

December 1, 2008

Grain of Strength

Fuck You, This is Rice

Rice was a short-lived hardcore band from San Diego back in the early 90s. They were a super-group of sorts, though none of the members' other bands were all that noteworthy (drummer Matt Anderson was in Heroin, and there's an occasional horn blast from Rocket from the Crypt's Apollo 9, but beyond that it's bands I'm not too familiar with such as The Peechees). They were of the in-your-face political variety, a la Born Against, but with a slightly more tongue-in-cheek lyrical approach. Basically they mask lyrics about rice (the food) in typical hardcore terminology (see: "Stick Together", "All Steamed Up", and "Grain of Strength"). But silliness and short-life-span aside, they were pretty incredible, and even had their own dance for the circle pit, The Rice Picker.

Fuck You, This Is Rice