Lines In Wax

TWELVE YEARS OF UNWANTED OPINION

Month: August 2016

Insane Clown Posse – The Ringmaster (1994)

Insane Clown Posse – The Ringmaster (1994)

The Ringmaster has gotta be a contender for one of my favorite ICP records. It marks the point where the group really start to find their feet. As much as I love Carnival of Carnage, it is a bit sketchy and the quality of tracks here far surpasses anything off that album, not to mention the Beverly Kills EP. I also think it’s one of the more under-rated jokers cards, if not the most under-rated of the whole bunch. The Ringmaster is definitely the underdog of the original set of Dark Carnival troublemakers. There is also a level of “silliness” that is missing from later albums, and the song production has a much more regular hip-hop feel than the unique direction that the band would quickly cement as their own. Don’t get me wrong, there are carnival vibes aplenty, but the overall sound is much dryer and songs about Detroit still number strong. “Murder Go Round” is a classic opener, and shortly afterward is the hat-trick of “Mr. Johnson’s Head”, “Southwest Song” and “Get Off Me, Dog!”; three of ICP’s best cuts back to back, again followed by another banger, “Who Asked You?”. It kinda falls off a bit after that but “House Of Mirrors” and “Bugz On My Nugz” are absolutely amazing songs, especially the latter, which always has me in peals of laughter. The closing track, “The Ringmaster’s Word” is a twisted work of sampling. I sometimes wish ICP had continued with this earlier sound, I guess if nothing else they might have a bit more credibility (as much as you can give a group like ICP, at least). I’ve lost the disc on my physical copy of this so I don’t get to hear it that often anymore, but it’s always nice to come back to for a trip through that old-school Detroit smog.

Bestial Mouths – Heartless (2016)

Bestial Mouths – Heartless (2016)

Heartless is the most recent offering from bizarre, dark and menacing electronica group Bestial Mouths. Expect “darkwave” (the YouTube comments section just had a triple bypass with the use of this word) meeting ethereal pop in a world of decay, pain and seemingly endless reverb. The tracks do sound kinda similar however in a bizarre twist this only seems to cement the record together as a solid whole, rather than drive boredom into the heart of the listener. Expect Florence & The Machine meeting 2004-onwards-era Gary Numan in an abandoned underground car park. At points, in certain passages the record harks back to an undeniable influence from 80s synth-pop flamboyance such as that performed by Kate Bush, or perhaps more subtly David Bowie (on the part of Bestial Mouths’ interpretation, of course). Bestial Mouths have that strange mid-level appeal; weird enough to play fringe and underground festivals around the world, deep in the pockets of the twiddly mustache and APA drinking crowd, whilst at the same time possessing the catchiness that could easily point to a more mainstream success. Saying that, if you thought Lady Gaga was weird, artistic and expressive, this is probably not for you.

Vulvulator – Obscenario (2007)

Vulvulator – Obscenario (2007)

Vulvulator are (or were) a pornogrind band from the incredibly-metal-as-f sounding Uzhgorod, which is in Ukraine. One of the greatest tragedies of the 21st century is that they only ever released one album and a couple of splits. Obscenario is a bizarre blast through the usual pastures fermenting in these particular genres (slam / pornogrind / brutal death metal), but the production style chosen by the band (or maybe the studio producer?) really adds an interesting twist to proceedings. The songs are led by the bass, which strong and prominent in the mix, followed up by the guitars and held together by the odd drum sound; an unique twist on the ol’ tighter-than-your-average snare sound. If I had to sum up Vulvulator in one song I believe I could easily do this with track two on this heffer; “Oestrum Ecstasy”. It perfectly sums up what I mean when this band ride the slam/BDM sound but also incorporate an odd, bass-driven sound. Other highlights include “Boy In A Boat”, “Horror Of P.M.T.” and the quite-excellent cover of GUT’s “Dead Girls Don’t Say No”. It frightens me that this album is nearly ten years old. Hopefully I will still be listening to pornogrind from beyond the grave, but we’ll see.

HIM – Razorblade Romance (1999)

HIM – Razorblade Romance (1999)

I guess this is probably one thing you wouldn’t have expected me to cover, but I was chatting recently with LIW regular contributor Burra on many things musical, and somehow, somewhere along the highway HIM came up. Burra raised the quite valid point that Razorblade Romance was a solid album in any respect, and I had to agree with him, regardless of the band that released it, or what they would become. It is eternally bizarre to think that HIM started out as a Black Sabbath tribute band (I for one cannot image them playing any Sabbath tracks), as that would be far cry from the pop-dressed-as-metal that we have here. But, if you’re gonna do something, do it right. You have to understand here that this thing came out before HIM had any real international recognition; before Bam Margera forced this band into the playlist of every male with a beanie hat and a Jackass DVD; and most definitely before Ville Valo was wetting up goth teen panties on the other side of the pond. On top that, this thing isn’t going to win any awards for originality. The same lame-ass fucking drum beat carries every song, as does the muted chugging of the guitar riffs, which is used so often in verse structure that Mushroomhead started to draft up a cease and desist order. It’s almost offensive to musicians worldwide how simple this shit is. But it works. Throw in some lazy but effective keyboard playing to fill out the middle-ground and you’ve got the perfect backdrop for the man himself; His Infernal Majesty, Ville Valo. You gotta admit this guy has some pipes on him, and without a doubt helped carried this band to it’s success. This thing is loaded with hits that could easily top charts if backed with sickly electronica instead of distorted guitars; “Poison Girl”, “Right Here In These Arms”, and the, I gotta be honest, absolutely fucking fantastic cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game”. This is one of the closest instances where metal almost became pop music (anyone who raises me that fucking farce Babymetal loses 9000 internet points – that shit is a product, nothing more). HIM Trivia: The song “Join Me In Death” was blamed for a fan suicide and was re-titled “Join Me” for a while to avoid any further controversy. It now seems to be back as the original title, even on the band’s Vevo. Also, the band are supposed to go by the name HER in America, kinda like how Ghost is supposed to go as Ghost B.C. but never do.

Calling Apollo – The Great Depression Act 1 (2016)

Calling Apollo – The Great Depression Act 1 (2016)

(words by Porth’s man-in-thon-know, Gareth Burra) Here we have the new 6 track release – The Great Depression Act 1 – from South Wales 5 piece Calling Apollo. What a huge sounding record this is; production wise, instrumental and vocal wise – it’s great! A very wisely chosen opening track comes in the form of “Light The Way”; I love the guitar tone in this, it’s very reminiscent of a lot of the 2000’s era rock that was about, topped off with some really powerful vocals, solid bass playing and hard hitting drumming. Personal favourites for me include the popular single “Clone City”, “Obelisk” (massive sounding track!) and the ballad-like “The Wars”, but this release just flows so well as a whole. There is a really carefully chosen and selected bunch of tracks here, all skillfully crafted. Also, the perfectly chosen ending to the release – “…And The High Plateau”; another ballad style number just closes the record off perfectly. Such a nice sound to this one and a great closing track. As I say, the whole thing just flows so perfectly. Plain and simply this mini-album is just brilliant. It oozes strength and power; a really confident-sounding record from a band that know exactly what sound they are going for and are confident in doing such so early on in their career. There’s nothing shakey about this one. Calling Apollo are a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stale Welsh music scene, so stick with these guys as I can only see good things for them. This is a release they can really be proud of, and I see no reason why these guys won’t be pretty huge a few years down the line. P.S Fans of Saosin, Billy Talent, Circa Survive, Thursday etc may enjoy this one!

Burning Witch – Crippled Lucifer (2008)

Burning Witch – Crippled Lucifer (2008)

Ahh, Burning Witch – what a terrifying band. Crippled Lucifer was one of those albums I got when I was younger simply because I thought the cover art was fucking mint. It therefore coincidentally opened up the drab underbelly of doom metal for me; not only was it slow, the absence of groove and most melody made it a painful first listen. I had no idea that doom could be so twisted, evil and harrowing. Granted, there are slower bands, and yes, there are heavier bands, but Burning Witch turned me onto a world that I probably wouldn’t ever have touched otherwise, due to being generally consumed by endless grindcore. Crippled Lucifer is actually a compilation record of sorts, coupling both of the band’s records – Rift.Canyon.Dreams and Towers – into one package (2020 Edit: along with some tracks from splits – Ed). It is responsible for bringing Burning Witch to an entire new worldwide audience, where they once wallowed in a fair amount of obscurity. Sunn O)))’s Stephen O’Malley played the guitar here, and released this on Southern Lord. The one thing that really puts this above a lot of other stuff in the (now very over-saturated) doom metal genre is the insane vocal performances. Straight from the off they are a combination of throat-scraping, tormented wails and puzzling sung passages. Words can only say so much. Have a goosey.

Brutality Will Prevail – Forgotten Soul (2009)

Brutality Will Prevail – Forgotten Soul (2009)

Brutality Will Prevail are a long-running Welsh hardcore band that have, over the years, gone through several styles and line ups. Forgotten Soul is the band’s 2009 debut album (they self-released a few things before this, but this was the proper debut) and it catches the band when they were playing a really down-tempo, super-chuggy style of hardcore. I guess it is almost like slam death metal, but with the endless double kicks taken out. BWP are a decent hardcore band in their own right (Root Of All Evil is the tits), so it’s a bit of a shame that this record conforms so strictly to the chug-style, which was, if I’m totally honest, just what everyone did back then. There are so many fucking awful trendy chug bands in Wales, even now. Kids are still listening to mindless bollocks like Oceans Apart and it genuinely baffles me – I mean, is it still 2007? Why is this genre even still a thing? Anyways – on to the album. I won’t pretend that making it through the whole thing in one go isn’t a bit of a task for me, but then again, I’m a bit out of my comfort zone here. But,that doesn’t necessarily mean that this album is bad. The vocals are fucking class. On first impressions, (musically, not so much vocally) I can make a lot of comparisons to the early sound of Annotations Of An Autopsy, who made waves in this style of music before jumping ship before shit got too stale. Perhaps I shouldn’t have reviewed this album, because I’ve gone off on a massive tangent, but fuck it, it’s written now so it’s getting posted! Stay tuned to Lines In Wax kids, for super top quality content like this! Throw down or fuck off, or something.

Genitorturers – 120 Days Of Genitorture (1993)

Genitorturers – 120 Days Of Genitorture (1993)

I avoided Genitorturers for a very long time simply because I was aware of the fact that Vincent from Morbid Angel played in some sort of badly-named industrial side project. I was also acutely aware of his penchant for bad leather / pvc shit so on those reasons alone I gave this band a very wide berth. I know that this band doesn’t begin and end with Ol’ Vince, but when all those crapulent dance/gabba/industrial parts started leaking horrifically into Morbid Angel’s music, some sort of morbid curiosity (see what I did there?) was awakened, and I came over for a listen. At first it sounds a bit like Prong meets L7, only not as sexy as one would imagine that mash up to be (ironic considering the immense overtones of this band’s image). The music sounds to me like stale, 3rd-rate Marilyn Manson grade shite that goths like to dance to, only infuriatingly paraded under the industrial banner. Why does that happen? Industrial to me is Throbbing Gristle, Godflesh, early Einsturzende Neubauten etc. etc., not boring grungy metal with BDSM over-tones. I have nothing positive to really say here so I’m just gonna wind this up before I go off on a massive tangent about how frustratingly shit this is. 

Black Sun – Twilight Of The Gods (2010)

Black Sun – Twilight Of The Gods (2010)

Black Sun are (or possibly were) a three piece from Scotland. I think (from lending CDs off the Doomfinder General) that they pretty much started out as a one man industrial/noise project before evolving into a full band. They self-released a bunch of stuff before this final full length dropped on Future Noise and Head Of Crom. Twilight Of The Gods is a solid album through and through. The best way I can quickly describe it off the top of my head is to imagine Swans and Iron Monkey having a fight in a methadone clinic. Oh, and Oxbow is there as well, just because. The record bursts into life with “Code Black”, re-recorded from the 7″ split with They Are Cowards, quickly followed by the excellent “Terminal Velocity”. “Gethsemane” is a perfect example of one of the album’s gut-wrenching crawlers. “Black Angel” (possibly a nod towards Death In June with that title?) and “Warhead” remain two of my favourite songs ever. I’m not entirely sure what became of Black Sun, but leaving us with this record seems like a pretty good way to go out.

Pothead – Jointification (2015)

Pothead – Jointification (2015)

Pothead are a bunch of a masked crusaders from Prague (Praha!), Czech Republic, who play down-tuned death metal / goregrind infused with the wondrous sounds of hip hop and also a bit of techno. It all seems a bit ridiculous, and quite frankly it is. On the first initial listen it sounds a bit like GUT jamming with Ahumado Granujo at a Cypress Hill gig (I know, right). I caught these guys live recently, and their get-up kinda reminds me of something that would be signed to Psychopathic Records, and it made me wonder if Pothead are down with the clown, so to speak. I’m not sure if I prefer the hip hop parts or the death metal parts more. I do think though as the record goes on it definitely gets better; the start is a bit shaky but everything gets a bit more solid as things get into a stride and the record progresses. I guess there is gonna be a whole bunch of people out there who will not like this, or even get angry at this being in any way shape or form labelled as grindcore or death metal, but those people are absolutely no fun, so fuck them. The band have very cleverly offered this for streaming themselves, with a few extra vocal bars thrown in about buying the record (unless these bars appear on the actual album too? Haha), so you can stream it from the band’s official channel, or if you really dig this shit, you can get a copy from here. 4/20 blaze it etc. etc. etc.

Necrocest – Prenatal Massacre (2009)

Necrocest – Prenatal Massacre (2009)

Wow this shit is brutal. Probably one of the best bits of death metal I’ve heard in a while, Prenatal Massacre is the third full length album from Welsh sickos Necrocest. I remember seeing these guys supporting The Berzerker in Newport many moons ago (2008 methinks) and I had forgotten all about them until I came across them on Youtube recently, because y’know, I’m an idiot, but there you go. All that matters is that I finally listened to them properly. It took me a while to figure out that there may be a drum machine on the go here. If not, then those are some triggered-as-fuck drums. My hazy memory of their live show includes a drummer, but you know how things are on the production side of death metal; drum machines out the ass. Or, to make that more death-metally; drum machines out the ass, prolapsed cunt and bursting from your stomach like some shit from the Alien franchise. Either way, Prenatal Massacre is fucking awesome brutal death metal.

Gets Worse – The Blues (2015)

Gets Worse – The Blues (2015)

Gets Worse’s latest EP literally gets worse (I’m so sorry). Nah, I’m kidding – every single time I hear something from these guys they raise the bar. The sound here is absolutely fucking spot on; so crunchy and heavy but with clarity and definition. And the music? Well, it’s Gets Worse, but a little bit more grown up and defined. The fast bits are there; the powerviolence vocals, the cheesegrinder bass, and that interesting snare sound, but there’s also an interesting experimental edge – the slower songs seem that extra bit slower, and there is a fucking saxophone solo at one point. And let’s not forget the Alan Partridge sampling. This shit is literally the bomb. I cannot, no matter how hard I try (despite my will), find any fault whatsoever with this recording. If you are into heavy music in any way shape or form, I fail to see how you can pick any faults in it. I will crawl outta the band’s arse just a little though, by complaining about the eight minute run time, but hey – this is a fucking EP, not a space opera. Powerviolence is beauty. The Blues by Gets Worse

The Haxan Cloak – Excavation (2013)

The Haxan Cloak – Excavation (2013)

Presenting you with haunting digital soundscapes from one of the masters of the genre, the Excavation record is a true trip in ethereal ambiance and beatwork. I first spun this at about 4am on a nightshift; it was that eerie time of night when everything literally stops dead, even though I was in a room full of people. There is something about “the witching hour” – that unique stillness – that is just so palpable. The Haxan Cloak was the perfect choice. Perhaps it was fate. I gave Excavation a listen as a whole, rather than study the layout and the track listing, which is what I usually tend to do when obsessing over something awesome, but everything just seemed to fit together so well as a whole it didn’t seem worth breaking down. I just went with the ride, and I enjoyed every second. I almost fell asleep, but it was almost as if my mind was asleep, and not my body. A fantastic record all round, which seems like it could easily be a film soundtrack of some sorts, if the opportunity was right. I was also pleasantly surprised to find out that Haxan Cloak had done a bit of work on the latest Bjork album, which had a slightly darker overtone than a lot of her stuff. Anyways, I digress. Check the links below if you’re in the mood.

Anaal Nathrakh – Vanitas (2012)

Anaal Nathrakh – Vanitas (2012)

Anaal Nathrakh have been at the forefront of British black metal for years and years. I however, was fairly late to the party. The first album of theirs I heard properly was Passion, and Vanitas, their eighth, is what I consider to be their best record. From start to finish it’s a relentless, punishing affair, which is nothing out of the ordinary for this band, but Vanitas seems to squeeze more amazing songs in than all the other records. “Forging Towards The Sunset” might be the closest thing the band will ever have to a hit single, but every other track here is solid too. I raise you “You Can’t Save Me, So Stop Fucking Trying” and “Of Fire And Fucking Pigs” as two amazing examples. The latter hearkens back to the Nathrakh of old; eschewing all forms of melodic chorus nonsense and taking you on a trip through a blasting hell narrated by the most harrowing vocals ever. The guitars on this record cut necrotic riffs through an extremely professional production job, which is no mean feat – most of the time if you try and bring grime to a big sound it loses a lot of it’s dirt and charm. And the drums….shit, where do I start? The downside is maybe they are triggered into oblivion (Ok, maybe not as bad as Grand Declaration-era Mayhem, but still) but the stamina and dexterity is astounding. Metal, but with everything pushed to the maximum limit. That includes brutality, speed, and even melody. I’d raise one of those stupid fucking drinking horns to that.

Flux Information Sciences – Private / Public (2001)

Flux Information Sciences – Private / Public (2001)

Flux Information Sciences are one of those bands that have got me wondering – “where the hell have you been all of my life!”. It genuinely annoys me when such gems go undetected on my musical radar for so long, especially since they can attribute a sizeable portion of their success to one Michael Gira (who? Never heard of him) after being signed to Young God in the early 2000s. Hell, even Chris Pravdica, the guy providing the gut-wrenching bass in the most recent incarnation of Swans, played with these guys. So let me approach this retrospective review with language that isn’t going to land me a writing slot with Vice anytime soon. I might not be an east-side art guru, so it is probably easiest for me to describe Flux Information Sciences as a noisy mixture of self-titled-era Killing Joke, Throbbing Gristle and Boards Of Canada. Heavy industrial and no wave stylings dominate the majority of the record, and I guess parts of this resemble early Godflesh, or Swans themselves, especially tracks like “Liposuction”. All in all, a fantastic record with a lot of surprises up its sleeve. I simply love discovering stuff like this out of the blue, and I look forward to listening to the rest of their discography soon.

Haggus – Mince The Meat Monger (2014)

Haggus – Mince The Meat Monger (2014)

Something tells me that the members of Haggus may possibly be vegetarians, or even vegans. I’m not sure what it is; I really can’t put my finger on it… Anyways, sarcasm aside, this is some top notch mincecore. Like, seriously good shit. Like, better than 95% of the shit out there. Better than 95% of Agathocles splits. I love the new wave of gory mincecore/grind/whatever coming from America and Canada, and this fits perfectly into that new wave, joining Archagathus and Hyperemesis as some of the sickest shit ever. The vocals on this are phenomenally watery and gooey, and the bass sounds like an industrial-sized cabbage grinder, leading this gargling mess over the precipice into a mincing oblivion of stomping beats, 2-steps and blasting explosions. This only appears to have ever been available on cassette, released on a co-op between Fuck Your Life and Mullet Death Records, but as always, someone has uploaded it to YouTube, so check it out. It’s awesome.

Korn – Korn (II / Untitled) (2007)

Korn – Korn (II / Untitled) (2007)

Yo dawg, we heard you liked Korn so we made you a Korn to release after your Korn (but not before the other Korn). Who’s putting out all this Korn you ask? Well, fucking Korn, of course. I mean, how much Korn could a Korn fan konsume, if a Korn fan could konsume Korn? Korn obviously don’t think that kontinuing to kall albums Korn, even though they already have records kalled Korn – now totalling three Korns – is konfusing. But, for me, as far as Korn are concerned, in regards to Korn, Korn and the third (and thus-far final) Korn, Korn finally have enoughs Korns recorded. This here retrospective review is about Korn’s second album kalled Korn, ingeniously entitled Korn. To konfuse things further, this record is sometimes referred to as Untitled, although it is in fact, titled Korn. Hopefully that has cleared that up. I hope that the above enormous paragraph of wanton shit talking has given you a brief idea of how much I am struggling to write anything of any worth about this particular Korn album (the second Korn album to be kalled Korn). Take A Look In The Mirror and See You On The Other Side saw the band reigning in their sound a bit, and Korn (the second Korn) furthers this trend, with the band seemingly becoming nothing more than a studio project with session musicians at this point. The lead single, “Evolution”, whilst not a bad tune, is just krap to be honest, in the way that if that’s the best this record can offer for a lead single, then we are pretty much fucked.

Masonna – Spectrum Ripper (1997)

Masonna – Spectrum Ripper (1997)

Masonna (not to be confused of course, with Madonna) is a staple and legend in the noise world. He is “famed” for his intense live performances, where his body is seemingly nothing more than a channel for pure chaos; as if some invisible higher power is playing the poor guy like a marionette and pouring the result out as harsh noise. These performances can be seen on YouTube, thanks to the wonders of modern technology. Spectrum Ripper, is the perfect audio-only representation of the Masonna chaos, split into 25 parts of various lengths, but flowing as one misanthropic ear exploding performance. It’s incredibly impressive when someone can carve their own sound out of of the harsh noise world; the scatty, super-distorted, vocal-led “pieces” are instantly recognisable despite being often imitated. It sounds like a cut and paste soundtrack to a descent into a mechanical hell, with delay pedals emphasising the machine-like repetition through the walls of sheer noise. Maybe it is hard to coin this a classic of the noise music / non-music genre, but this would do no wrong as a fantastic starting place for those curious to what noise is, or what it has to offer.