Lines In Wax

TWELVE YEARS OF UNWANTED OPINION

Month: August 2023

Death in June – Take Care and Control (1998)

Death in June – Take Care and Control (1998)

I have disparaged all of the Death in June sound collage stuff over the last few years. Operating Hummingbird, and parts of albums like the latter half of All Pigs Must Die literally do nothing for me. I was surprised then, when returning to Take Care And Control, to find that it was incredibly listenable, enjoyable and of a high production quality. Now, I know Albin Julius did all the music here (this should have been titled as a collab, I think), but he did the same for Operation Hummingbird and that is not quite near as good as this. There are a variety of electronic music flavours across this thing, as well as classical elements and much sampling work, often – of course – slanting towards certain periods of German history which shall remain nameless here. Actually a very interesting listen now that I’ve spent more time with it, Take Care And Control is different but a good album. If you want Douglas and his sparkly 12 string guitar however, this is not the album for you.

Goatmoon – Tahdon Riemuvoitto (2013)

Goatmoon – Tahdon Riemuvoitto (2013)

The Nazi bastards threw me for a loop here, I got nice and comfortable thinking that this was a lovely acoustic album or EP, but several tracks in things harshly cut back to fucking black metal. It’s a lovely effect, really makes the blackened shit seem brutal and sinister as fuck. Despite the dodgy lyrical content, the later metal tracks are fucking class. If only they’d cool it on the NS politics, Goatmoon would then be right up my alley.

Goatmoon – Varjot (2011)

Goatmoon – Varjot (2011)

Personally, I find Varjot to be an improvement on the earlier Goatmoon records. There is less in the way of sheer rawness and more focus on the folkier elements of the music, which work well with the cleaner production. Generally, I prefer black metal to be raw and disgusting but these changes seem to work well for Goatmoon, and the trademark feral shrieks are retained so there’s that too.

Der Stürmer / Totenburg – Split CD (2007)

Der Stürmer / Totenburg – Split CD (2007)

Der Sturmer, another band in the NSBM world that reportedly has the best riffs so are therefore worth checking out. I mean, their stuff here is pretty good, but I need to hear more releases to be absolutely sure. Totenburg… well, I nearly turned this off after five minutes as the production seemed a bit wonky but then some fucking incredible guitar playing started. I guess it’s the end of the first track on their side of the split, I’m not sure, but damn it was some sweet riffage. As always, this would be infinitely better if it didn’t wallow in silly imagery like sonnenrands and what have you. Kinda gives me the ick even if the music is good.

Pathology – The Time of Great Purification (2012)

Pathology – The Time of Great Purification (2012)

Skreeeeeeeeeeee I hope you like brutal fuckin death metal because yknow, that’s what you’re gonna get here. You can say a lot about Pathology but the main thing to take away I think is that they are damn consistent. Production variations aside, as well as natural evolution of sounds, I think it is fair to say their output has been consistently solid over the years. This more recent studio album (currently placed in the second half of the full album run, at the time of writing) is a solid brutal death attack, with smooth and high-end production. Lots of high speed blasts and riffs, and a garnishing of more slamming, grooving passages for those of you who want to throw down. I was listening to this at 11pm whilst revising for a technical exam and I just wanted to get up and spinkick some poor cunt in the face.

Atomçk – Weaponised Celebrity (2015)

Atomçk – Weaponised Celebrity (2015)

Very cromulent little EP from Atomck, back in the 3 piece daze (I wanna say the Never Work line-up?). The first few tracks are blasting grindcore madness, which is just lovely. Karl’s drums are fuckin crazy. The closing track, “Crowd Pleaser” is a banger too, slowing the pace right down, and including not just noise but also synthesisers, which is a nice touch. It doesn’t sound very “grindcore” when I write it out like that, but trust me, it sounds awesome.

Hyperemesis / Agathocles – Split Tape (2015)

Hyperemesis / Agathocles – Split Tape (2015)

The Hyperemesis side of this split has to be up there as some of the best goregrind ever recorded, of all time. I don’t lightly make such a statement, but fuck this shit is so goddamn good. The drums are tight, the snare sounding like its going to pop like a can of deoderant thrown into a fire. The riffs are sick as fuck and the vocals are just off the charts. Some of the best gore vocals in the history of time, for sure. Fucking outstanding shit. Pretty weird that some of the Burzum ambient stuff shows up on some of the samples here but I think that’s because whatever Hyperemesis sampled used that song in the background. It’s just strange to hear it. Even Agathocles have pulled out the stops on this, which is always a fucking pleasure to hear. Some of the tracks cut in and out erratically (at least on my tape version), but as messy and disgusting as the Agx side is, I’m pleased to report that unlike a lot of their splits, it’s actually audible. As always, it is worth clarifying that I am not one to rag on production quality – especially in the worlds of mincegore and grindcore lol – but a lot of Agx splits that I’ve paid good money for have been completely unlistenable trash. Which is the worst shame in the world, considering how fucking awesome this band are. Anyway, the shit they have on this cassette is fucking great, so its a winner all round. Tidy.

Suffering Mind – Lifeless (2022)

Suffering Mind – Lifeless (2022)

Fuckin lightning fast grindcore, absolutely no fucking about. Gets in, fucking goes for it, gets out. Side B has an interest piece of sampling and noise collaging, with a bunch of Twin Peaks shit thrown in, which is cool – but the main event happens on Side A, with all the brutal smears of intense grinding carnage. Tidy!

The Upsetters – Blackboard Jungle Dub (1973)

The Upsetters – Blackboard Jungle Dub (1973)

When I first brought this thing into my circulation I had no idea that it was one of the first dub records. As in, one of the ones that pulls together Perry’s reworkings from other Upsetters releases. Either way, I fell in love with this before realising it was as important as it is the world of dub reggae (and music in general as a whole). You cannot beat the warm, analogue sound on this. The tape hiss, the general wobble of it all, the slightly run-down feel. Outside of King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown (or whatever its called), I’ve yet to find a better set of dubs than the Black Board Jungle Dubs. Yet, anyway.

Meatal Ulcer – Why Won’t It Die?

Meatal Ulcer – Why Won’t It Die?

The sound of your head exploding. Man, this shit fuckin slaps. Bridging the gaps between goregrind and gorenoise (the line can be thin sometimes, for sure), and possessing a thick, chunky sound that is capable of carrying the full wet, sloppy impact of Meatal Ulcer’s work from the speakers right into your fuckin face. Why Won’t It Die? doesn’t fuck about, and it certainly doesn’t hang around, with tracks averaging out at around 40 seconds or so. 12 minutes of putrid fuckin gore annihilation, which lives up completely to the image on the cover.

Iron Maiden – The Number of the Beast (1982)

Iron Maiden – The Number of the Beast (1982)

The Number Of The Beast is classic Iron Maiden, don’t get me wrong. There is no contesting that. My issue with this record however is that it is kind of on a bit of a pedastal. The tracklist is something of a classic run, but as a casual Maiden fan only four of these songs really mean anything significant to me. Personal preferences aside, it is impossible to deny that this is a fantastic listen and a classic of the rock and metal worlds. The production is, as always with the original run of Maiden records, absolutely spot on.

Autopsy – Tourniquets, Hacksaws and Graves (2014)

Autopsy – Tourniquets, Hacksaws and Graves (2014)

The problem with Autopsy, is that you’re always going to be comparing anything that they do to their absolutely legendary first few records. There is not much out there that comes close to that sludgy, disgusting and unique blend of death metal that the band made their own. However, Autopsy are also a band that have safely avoided tarnishing their reputation with unneccessary and pointless and well, downright awful studio albums. Most bands cannot say this, I’m sure. Autopsy however, remain the at the top, like a giant, thick, dark and possibly bloody stool, but one that floats triumphantly nonetheless. TH&G is cleaner in production than I would personally like, but otherwise it is an extremely enjoyable journey of death, destruction, and metal mayhem. The songs are actually fresh and very enjoyable, and there is a variety of vibes and styles that come through in the album’s run time. Vocally, things are still very good and I have no complaints with this set of songs. All in all, a solid chunk of death metal.

Voivod – Kronik (1998)

Voivod – Kronik (1998)

A bit of a mixed bag, but such is the way of compilation albums. The first half – or two thirds – of this thing is fairly solid. Granted, danceable industrial metal is not the reason why most people come and listen to Voivod but if you enjoyed the E-Force albums then this is a natural next step. Some of this is very similar to Godflesh, at least their more drum’n’bass-focussed stuff. The record rounds out with a bunch of filler live tracks that are no doubt of interest to Voivod purists but not much use to basically anyone else on the whole planet (or entire universe).

Graveland – The Celtic Winter (1994/1996)

Graveland – The Celtic Winter (1994/1996)

I have been perhaps less than flattering when describing the earlier works of Graveland, but I was convinced to give them another go when I was told that Celtic Winter was peak second wave black metal. I have to admit, that I somewhat agree with my friend who told me this. Celtic Winter is head and shoulders above any of the other earlier Graveland records, which are either mired with shit production, shit synthesisers, shit art, and shit drumming. I have a high threshold for shit black metal, but early Graveland is just pure shit. Except Celtic Winter, of course – this is worth a listen or six. I’m not really sure why this thing has 37 different intros (never thought Graveland and Insane Clown Posse would have anything in common but this is like the black metal version of Carnival Of Carnage – just get to the damn point for fuck sake), but when it gets going the riffs are razor sharp and devastating. The drumming, is admittedly, still pretty fucking rubbish but is servicable for the duration. Vocally, the echoic screeches akin to second wave classics are also present here. Also, being a Celt myself, I can attest that a Celtic Winter sounds cool, but in reality it isn’t all that impressive in the grand scheme of things. I think that sums this album up perfectly, to be honest.

Aphex Twin – Come to Daddy (1997)

Aphex Twin – Come to Daddy (1997)

Come To Daddy is quite possibly my favourite Aphex Twin release. Perhaps there is some coincidence there with it also being my first purchase of one of his releases, but this thing is almost completely flawless. Over the years I must have heard this EP about 500 million times (slightly overstating it there), but I have never gotten sick or tired of any of the songs here. Speaking of which, they are all fantastic. From the title track and the various different takes on such, to the more chilled out “Flim” or “IZ-US” the one about the bouncing ball, which was my favourite Aphex Twin tune for a long, long time – you just can’t go wrong here. Personally, I think this might be the best place to start with the Aphex Twin discography.

Brujeria – Matando Güeros (1993)

Brujeria – Matando Güeros (1993)

I’ve said before that early Brujeria is a raw fuckin beast of a band, and this debut full length is no different. Possessing an exceptionally downtuned and dirging sound, Brujeria’s grindcore is less frenetic and more bludgeoning in its delivery. Overall, the vibe is “I need a shower”, much the same like listening to more modern bands like Fluids. I guess that feeling comes with the territory when the songs are about machete violence and narco-terrorism. There are some absolute fuckin belters on this thing, though. Don’t let that cover photo put you off.

Heaven Shall Burn – Veto (2013)

Heaven Shall Burn – Veto (2013)

Admittedly, metalcore, deathcore, melodic death metal, all of this stuff – it is not in my wheelhouse. The reason I’ve decided to check out this album is the intriguing album art. It is rather still, serene and beautiful, and not something that I would ever expect to represent something that tries to be so heavy and aggressive as this. Unfortunately, where Veto falls for me is it’s enormously compressed production, which whilst not exactly rendering it unlistenable (it seems to be a very popular album), is just completely unnecessary. This kind of music does not require such a huge, blown-out, “wall of sound” style production. It feels like its being used to hide short-comings and amplify the impact but in fact it’s really just damaging the delivery immeasurably. It’s a shame because there are some excellent drumming and riffing performances in this distorted bowl of treble soup.

Aphex Twin – Selected Ambient Works Volume II (1994)

Aphex Twin – Selected Ambient Works Volume II (1994)

I have a lot of nostalgia around Selected Ambient Works Volume II. I spent many an hour staring at the CD insert trying to figure out what each of the song titles meant, knowing full well that it was what, 2003 or 2004 at this point and I could have easily just looked it up on the internet. Going back to SAWV2 though, for the purposes of this review, I attributed my feelings of love and nostalgia towards it to the first few tracks, some of which appear rather frequently in certain online animations and also on BBC programs and documentaries. Outside of this however, I found by tracks 5 or so onwards, that I had no real love or attachment to these songs. They are fantastic, excellent, introspective pieces of work, and I think they are brilliant, but I was surprised that my personal attachment to this thing did not extend past about half of disc 1. Therefore, I must admit, I think I prefer the first volume, which has much more “go” in it, and the later studio albums from RDJ. That is not to say of course, that this is in any way a terrible release.

Vampyress – Order of the Dragon (2021)

Vampyress – Order of the Dragon (2021)

I love Vampyress(SS?)’ aesthetic and vibe but the reality is that Order Of The Dragon is a mixed bag of inconsistent quality. The artwork is fantastic, and I love the mix of the grainy b-movie still and the more vibrant styles used by Assassination / BMSS etc: these two things work very well together I find. “Tales From The Ghoulag” (compiled here from the 7″) is probably the highlight of the record, IMO, although the original demo version of “Realm Of My Heart” is pretty fuckin’ good too.

DNA – A Taste of DNA (1981)

DNA – A Taste of DNA (1981)

All over the shop, ants in your pants, frenetic punk music with art house leanings. I guess this is an early precursor to the no-wave scene? Not my area of expertise so apologies if that’s not right (edit: RYM has it down as No Wave music). This is fuckin’ carnage, kinda reminds me of Half Japanese or even early Locust stuff. Was really cool to find out Ikue Mori drummed on this thing too.

Vampyress / Billy Odal – Emascula / Death Machine (2022)

Vampyress / Billy Odal – Emascula / Death Machine (2022)

Vampyress (VampyreSS?) play in a brilliant occult rock style, definitely in the BMSS school of thought for sure, but never the less the composition is brilliant. The whole vibe and sound is just fantastic, and as a first impression, I’m really into this and looking forward to checking out the other EP / compilation. Billy Odal takes a little more warming to, but it’s still well made. Kinda reminds me of King Dude, but a bit less flakey and more in the occult rock style.

Revenge – Strike.Smother.Dehumanize (2020)

Revenge – Strike.Smother.Dehumanize (2020)

I don’t think it would be unfair to call Revenge a one-dimensional band. Their dimension, is, of course, absolute fucking brutality. You come to Revenge knowing what to expect, and if you don’t, then you come unknowingly, you get your wig split, and then you keep coming back for more (unless you are, as Manowar said, a wimp and / or a poser). The uniform cover art across all releases, in the same stark colour scheme and thematic area with minute differences, seems to reinforce this point. Why then, bother reviewing a Revenge album? If you’ve heard one then you’ve heard them all right? True in some regard, but not completely. Idiots like me and complete gluttons for punishment may notice several smaller details that differentiate Strike… from the other releases. The production is slightly… cleaner. I hesitate because I don’t know if that is the right word. Revenge has always had “good” production – that being, it blows your facking heid off, guvnor. There does seem to be an additional level of clarity here, though, which – trust me – does not detract from the aural carnage. The second detail is the abrupt drops into slow, groove sections. These are used sparingly, but not only do they offer a respite from the blastbeats and therefore serve to accentuate those sections, but my god do they hit just as hard. Some of these groovy slow parts are super intense. All in all, another banger from Revenge. I would expect nothing less, to be honest. This is a band whose track record is becoming almost impeccable.

MegaSphere – Master Levels for Doom II – 25th Anniversary MIDI Pack (2021)

MegaSphere – Master Levels for Doom II – 25th Anniversary MIDI Pack (2021)

Avid players of Doom’s original run of games will know, that the “expansion” to Doom II entitled “Master Levels for Doom II” never had any original music. As a player, one had to load the maps individually, before the existence of a map orderer or sequencer, and therefore one was subjected to Map 1 music over and over and over again for the duration of the Master Levels, which is a bit shit because the Master Levels can be a lot of fun. Enter MegaSphere then, who has done a lot of work for the Doom community and is generally an excellent composer. Here we have an album of MIDI-style compositions in the style of OG Doom to honour the 25th anniversary of the Master Levels, and if you were going to play them in 2023 I would do so with this soundtrack in the background. It only gets a 3/5 from me as personally I’m not a huge fan of “trap” style beats and hi hat rushes, and some of the melodies are far too jaunty and upbeat for Doom, but this is just my own personal preference speaking here. Give me the creepy atmosphere and the misery! LOL

Black Magick SS – Panzerwitch (2013)

Black Magick SS – Panzerwitch (2013)

Lo-fi, low-key beginnings for the excellent BMSS. Spooky, dusty, cavernous vibes are the order of the day, a far cry from what the band would go on to do with stuff like Rainbow Nights and Burning Bridges. I also never knew these guys released anything on At War With False Noise, so I guess every day is a learning experience. Highlight of this thing has to be the closing creeper that is the title-track, which is split into two distinct parts.

Black Magick SS – The Owls Of Winter / Talisman (2015)

Black Magick SS – The Owls Of Winter / Talisman (2015)

A really great acoustic EP from this fantastic project. Both songs comprise of the same elements but are also very much completely different. Both tracks, particularly the B-side, “Talisman”, sound very similar to bands like Rome or Death In June (is the controversial cover image also a nod?) but with some added black metal vocals for the hell of it. All in all, great atmospheres and great song writing.

Vektroid – Color Ocean Road (2012)

Vektroid – Color Ocean Road (2012)

Vektroid is easily one of the greatest producers in this style. Her style arguably defines the initial vaporwave movement, in not only “just slowing down” 80s pop songs but giving them a whole new life and meaning. It is easy to get caught up in the Floral Shoppe hype and not go further than that, but Color Ocean Road is proof enough that it is well worth doing that. Really cool, laid-back compositions are the order of the day, chopping and changing existing tracks into brand new beautiful journeys.

Tycho – Dive (2011)

Tycho – Dive (2011)

Clean, tidy and precise electronic music that is very nice as background music but perhaps a little “too nice” for the kind of thing that I’m looking for. This is entirely a personal preference however, so if perfectly composed and precision-tight, chilled-out electronics are your thing, then you’d do no wrong in checking out Dive. I can’t shake the feeling however that sometimes during this album I feel like I’m watching some transitional B-roll on a YouTube documentary and this is the soundtrack.

DJ Speedsick – Nothing Lasts (2019)

DJ Speedsick – Nothing Lasts (2019)

Very nasty, which is just lovely. Definitely on the grimier end of industrial techno. Doesn’t hit as hard as say, gabber techno, but still pushes sound to a fairly dark and brutal level, I’m sure that much can be gleaned from the artwork and song titles before even pressing play. Speaking of which, that artwork is very cool. Is it Pinhead smoking some harsh substance out of a bottle bong? I’m not sure. Either way, it sets the tone perfectly.

Blakk Harbor – Petite Mort (2021)

Blakk Harbor – Petite Mort (2021)

Very dark, dense electonic music that’s upbeat enough for you to dance to. Not as hard and punishing as other forms of “industrial techno” but enough to keep you on your toes, for sure, and also hypnotic enough to keep you hooked. I get some 90s vibes from this but for the most part it’s a very modern sound and a very clean production. The art is killer too.

The Weakener – What Do You Know About It (1998)

The Weakener – What Do You Know About It (1998)

A class Mick Harris / Scorn spin off project with the same level of quality paranoid beats, minimal yet spooky atmospheres and dense moods. Expect swirling, dark background noise with prominent and involving beats. They aren’t great big bass-wobbling stonkers, but they keep your attention just as well. Closing track “Silent Dust” is probably my favourite, but the entire album is best taken whole for the best kind of journey.

Eco Virtual – ATMOSPHERES 第2 (2014)

Eco Virtual – ATMOSPHERES 第2 (2014)

Perfect chill and get shit done kinda music right here. As with other folk online, I also thought that this was a Blank Banshee side project, but nowadays I’m not too sure. Either way, shit is great. Real clean production, focussed beats and amazing tunes. Such a shame that it is only 21 minutes long but hey, thankfully there’s more releases from this project. My highlight has to be the reworking of THAT hold music tune, re-done here under track 7, “Noctilucent”. It is, if I may say so, a certified banger. Do note however that this track is excluded from the Bandcamp version of this EP / album. The YouTube uploads of the album still include it at this time, however.

Fuji Grid TV (New Dreams LTD) – Prism Genesis (2011)

Fuji Grid TV (New Dreams LTD) – Prism Genesis (2011)

Disjointed Bliss All over the place, but that’s why we are all here, right? Had the pleasure of hearing the EX version (2016 remaster) rather than the original but all in all, sounds really great and hits all the right buttons that you’d expect such dreamy, fractured styles of vaporwave to hit. I have no profound statement to make, but Prism Genesis is a stunning arrangement of audio clips. The atmosphere that some of these glitchy transmission artists can make is really quite something, and this is a fantastic example.

Nuclear Death – Carrion For Worm (1991)

Nuclear Death – Carrion For Worm (1991)

Fuckin’ wild piece of work, this. Mangles together elements of grindcore and death metal in a swirling maelstrom pit of cacophonous carnage. There are moments that remind me of war metal bands like Blasphemy and Revenge, if I’m honest. Carrion For Worm is one of the few records recently that I have immediately played through a second time upon completing it. I know next to nothing about the band and this was my first experience with them so I have nothing else to say other than: this shit goes really hard.

Company Flow – Funcrusher Plus (1997)

Company Flow – Funcrusher Plus (1997)

This is an excellent underground hip hop record with a production style that is right up my street. I love the analogue warmth of a it all, as well the excellent and well-placed samples. Flow-wise, the Company have it nailed down, with some excellent bars and a general overall vibe that is really cool and confident. No idea where I picked this up but glad I checked it out. Really good stuff.

1/2 Japanese – 1/2 Gentlemen / Not Beasts (1980)

1/2 Japanese – 1/2 Gentlemen / Not Beasts (1980)

The only thing I can compare this to is some sort of band on a punk version of the whole Captain Beefheart thing. Like, the original incarnation of Anal Cunt is an extreme evolution of this shit right here. Am I right in thinking that this is so punk that its not punk anymore, in fact it is even barely music? Like someone gave The Cramps far too many horse tranquilizers and a bad tape recorder as the only advance towards their next album. Honestly, I had a band with my friends when I was 12 that sounded just like this. But, because 1/2 Gentlemen / Not Beasts was terrible on purpose then I suppose there’s a whole new level of artistic integrity that I’m supposed to lap up, especially as a fan of noise, jazz and other seemingly formless, experimental shit? Hrmmm. I don’t know about that. I do hate the Beatles though, and I do like going to the zoo, so perhaps I have more in common with this group than I would like to admit. (Yes I did listen to the entire thing lol)

H.N.A.S. – Im Schatten der Möhre (1987)

H.N.A.S. – Im Schatten der Möhre (1987)

An interesting collection of sound collages and other seemingly-randomised occurrences or little tangents of sound. Do I understand what’s going on here? Fuck no, but that doesn’t really matter to me. All of the different textures comply to an overarching ambience of unsettling mystery, of an uncanny atmosphere that can only come from an inability to put a finger on what exactly was the purpose of the work. I can’t remember how I came across this, and I have no idea what the other prolific works of HNAS are like, but in isolation this was a very interesting experience.

Annotations of an Autopsy – The Reign of Darkness (2010)

Annotations of an Autopsy – The Reign of Darkness (2010)

AOAA are another one of those bands who started in the deathcore / slam – influenced end of the spectrum, and decided to change lanes into a more regular death metal approach as time went on. With their second full length, the band are fully in brutal death metal mode, but with enough chugging riffs to not lose all of their identity. The vocals are the highlight here, the loose, gargling growls that are spat hideously across the top of these concoctions are a nice change from the dry heave of most low vokills. The drums are also fantastic, but the production – whilst strong – is a little typical and perhaps synthetic in parts.

Agathocles – Bomb Brussels (2001)

Agathocles – Bomb Brussels (2001)

One of the best places you could hope to start with the Agathocles discography. Bomb Brussels is 15 minutes or so of high quality, non-stop mincecore mayhem. When there’s AGx material out there as good as this, it pains me that so many splits and EPs are borderline unlistenable. The urge to tack a further super low quality set of live tracks onto the end of this thing has also been successfully resisted, leaving Bomb Brussels as a rare, succinct and absolutely outstanding entry in the massive Agathocles catalog (Agatholog?)

Black Magick SS – Burning Bridges (2023)

Black Magick SS – Burning Bridges (2023)

An interesting but perhaps natural evolution for the band, Burning Bridges sees the once kvlt-as-fvk esoteric black metal band now plunge headfirst into synth pop and/or rock. Comparing this to something like Panzerwitch and the change is surprising, but put it up against something as recent as Rainbow Nights and the gradual change makes much more sense. That being said, I think Burning Bridges perhaps strays too far from what makes Black Magick SS such a good band. There has always been a cheeky balance, but here the scales are tipped, and too far in the synth pop direction. That’s not to say there aren’t some great songs here (“Dinosaurs” is great), but for me, the spooky magic of BMSS is missing from the record, what with the cleaner, brighter direction of both the music and the production. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that this is a bad album, there’s clearly been a lot of thought and talent that’s gone into making it, but this is just not the kind of thing that I come to this band for. There is an interesting “secret track” at the end that seems to send the band full circle back to their original demo style, which is pretty cool, but generally this album is just not for me, as well made as it may be.

Spear of Longinus – Nazi Occult Metal (1995)

Spear of Longinus – Nazi Occult Metal (1995)

A recent talk by Dr. Ben Hillier on “Esoteric Fascism in Extreme Metal Music” (well worth a watch for those who are – like me – perhaps on the outside looking in at this stuff) had me realising that out of all the “OG” NSBM acts, I had overlooked Spear Of Longinus. There is no beating around the bush here. There are no dogwhistles or covert symbolism: its all there, I suppose to their credit, in the title. There is no guessing here (and certainly no “are SOL suss?” threads on Reddit). Musically, the demo is a little monotonous but not to the point of offense. Either way, you are not missing out if you are one of those people who gives NSBM bands a wide berth. The unsettling thing about this demo is that the same tracks repeat twice, once with “harsh” black metal vocals and the second time through with additional folky / shouted / clean vocals. Going back to Ben Hillier a second, he attributed this second recording with cleaner vocals to be a clear and deliberate attempt to make sure that the listener was able to understand and digest the message here. Personally, I find even the second run through to be just as obtuse as the first, but yeah, there is absolutely no denying the message here. To summarise: hateful, hateful shit, and musically just above avarage.

Isengard – Høstmørke (1995)

Isengard – Høstmørke (1995)

An interesting record from Fenriz that comes on at first like a mix of leftover Darkthrone tracks with a bunch of folk elements thrown over the top of it. Hostmorke is, of course, far more than just this cynical first take. The songs are fantastic, and the black metal parts are incredibly good. The folk elements, those being mainly heavy, echoic, pounding drums and clean, chanted vocals, are a welcome addition to what we are already know and love Fenriz for. At first, Hostmorke may seem like a patch work of styles, but repeat listens are especially rewarding as the pieces fall into place.

Bathory – Blood Fire Death (1988)

Bathory – Blood Fire Death (1988)

For a black metal record, Blood Fire Death sure doesn’t half thrash hard! (I’m messing around, but damn does this thing go hard in parts). Nothing really hits the spot like Bathory (except maybe one of a thousand Bathory clones), here the band takes two approaches: one of building thrashing walls of whirlwind speed and another of conjuring powerful, hypnotic grooves. Both of these things are then pulled together into a dense production job, giving you a rich, reverb-blanketed tapestry of what extreme metal was all about back in 1988.

Anal Blast – Battered Bleeding Bitch (2004)

Anal Blast – Battered Bleeding Bitch (2004)

Fun – and extremely vulgar – brutal death metal, but not as good as the first album or even the demo. My initial thought was to write that there’s a lack of focus here, but in reality the songs are short and sharp, and the brutal misogyny / menstruation themes are as strong as ever (what a sentence to write out at seven in the morning lol). Don Decker’s vocals are absolutely crackers too. It’s not for everyone, that’s for sure.

Anal Cunt – The 110 Song EP (2008)

Anal Cunt – The 110 Song EP (2008)

I remember when this came out. I was so stoked that Seth was recording music again and then the announcement came that they would reform – albiet temporarily – with the original line-up for the 20th anniversary of the band. The 110 Song EP followed fairly quickly. I remember being a bit disappointed with it when it first dropped, mainly because it sounded like complete shit (and not in a good way). Comparing this to the stuff that came post-coma though, such as Wearing Out Our Welcome and Fuckin’ A, it is perhaps easier retrospectively to view this release in a much better light. Either way, this is basically just a late 80s / early 90s style AxCx EP but double the length. So if you want more of that old OG noisecore shit, and don’t mind some shit sound (it is a raw rehearsal recording), then this is worth checking out.

Anal Cunt – It Just Gets Worse (1999)

Anal Cunt – It Just Gets Worse (1999)

There is no title as fitting for this album as the title it was actually given. On this 1999 full length (the last proper full length, unless you count the parody album Fuckin’ A), Anal Cunt step up the nastiness both in word and in sound. The song titles and lyrics have reached what I think many would say are the “peak” Anal Cunt style, with a whole smorgasbord of intentionally offensive subjects covered. On the sound end, the production is a considerable step down compared to the last few releases, but this adds another level of shrill abrasiveness to the record that makes it so much harder. The riffs are on point here too, with Josh Martin (RIP) churning out some sinister grooves (“I Lit Your Baby On Fire”, “Into The Oven”). My favourite tracks have to be “Easy E Got A.I.D.S. From Freddie Mercury” or “I Fucked Your Wife” (so frenetic and messy), or the still more-real-than-real “Chris Barnes Is A Pussy”.

Angelo Badalamenti – Twin Peaks (1990)

Angelo Badalamenti – Twin Peaks (1990)

Twin Peaks possesses one of the most magical and captivating soundtracks of all time. It is impossible, in my mind, to separate Twin Peaks the show from Twin Peaks the music. This is part of the reason I think, why Season 3 was so jarring to me at first, as Badalamenti’s score is used far less there. I now love Season 3, and Badalamenti’s contributions there are now some of my favourites, but not having the whole thing soaked in these gorgeous synthesiser compositions and jazz beats was a bit strange. Nothing however captures a feeling (usually of melodrama), a time and place, and an uncanny sense of dread quite like Angelo Badalamenti did for Twin Peaks. Truly, it is stunning. I cannot heap enough praise on this thing. It has been life-changing for me, in regards to my musical journey. I’ll see you in the trees.

Electric Wizard – Let Us Prey (2002)

Electric Wizard – Let Us Prey (2002)

Let Us Prey perhaps lives in the shadow of Dopethrone and therefore doesn’t get the attention it may deserve. However, after giving it a go several times, it is a fairly inoffensive offering from Electric Wizard that fails to really ignite any fire for me. That is of course not to say that the album is bad – it is well recorded, executed and is very consistent across its entire runtime. There are however, for me, no stand-out tracks, and when this is the case, up against some of the more monolithic offerings from the band’s various line-ups, my attention will always be drawn to albums other than this one.