Lines In Wax


Month: February 2024

Gauze – Fuck Heads (1984)

Cool hardcore punk with jacked riffs and with a super organic feel to the production. Nice bit of d-beat, shouty screamy madness and whatever those kinda back and forth two part riffs are called where you bounce around like fuck in the pit. I dunno what the fuck I’m talking about. This is great, though.

Slayyyter – Starfucker (2023)

Unfortunately nowhere near as suave or sophisticated as the album sleeve promises. I have heard a Slayyyter release in the past so I should have know what to expect here, alas I let the Roxy Music lookin ass cover lead me in under a false sense of security. Granted, she has matured musically from dreck such as a “Daddy AF” but this is still vapid nonsense. Cool if you’re into that. I’m not lol.

Esham – A-1 Yola (2005)

A1 Yola starts strong, but I lose my way as the record goes on, which is a recurring theme with Esham records of this era. That being said, I feel like Esham is more confident on this record than his previous two, the whole vibe seems different and whilst the production is firmly in “later” territory, some of the songs are fucking great. We also get some dirty synths, bass lines and beats bubbling up here or there too, just like old times. All in all, this is a solid record from Esham but it will never top the old wicket shit, I’m sorry.

Internally Mutilated / Anal Birth / Biocyst / Vomitoma – Split Tape (2008)

Internally Mutilated play mama’s gooooood ol’ analogue gorenoise, drowned in a sea of tape hiss and bad samples from some Faces Of Death-sounding clips. The samples are like ligaments between muscle and bone (is that right? I’m not a medical expert lol) and make the bazillion songs on offer here flow together in one giant session, which is just lovely. Anal Birth being the same but more of the blown out speaker style variety, where all I can hear is one smeared blur of aural Holocaust. It sounds like drums and high speed wind, if wind was made of viscera and lethally sharp bits of bone. Biocyst, another project of gorenoise legend Marc Palmen, has a warmer sound here but a more relentless attack, especially regarding percussion, with the drum machine just fucking hammering you over the head. Cool vocals that sound like they might not have FX on them but I’m sure they do. Really cool session. Vomitoma play a particularly gooey, disgusting form of gorenoise. Sounds like chunks of shit flying around in a life-size blender or some such ridiculous comparison. Either way, the project’s session for this split is a great way to round out the near hour of aural carnage that I have just submitted myself to. Class.

Methadone Abortion Clinic / Biological Monstrosity – Split CD (2011)

Methadone Abortion Clinic are one of the more underrated goregrind projects out there, I think. I’m not sure if they are even still active, but this split is further evidence as to why I consider them so excellent. They seem to blend the slower groovy gore “bulldozer” stuff with more traditional forms of goregrind, and not to mention the sick, bubbling pitchshifter vokills. Biological Monstrosity are not too dissimilar, actually. For the sake of this split, the two bands are a variation on the same theme and they are paired well. Blasting away the cobwebs with a similarly well-rounded production to that of their split mates, Bioligical Monstrosity are a bit looser, the music breathes a little more, whereas MAC just hits you in the chest. Great shit all round, to be fair.

Shitfun / Industrial Holocaust – Split 7” (2015)

A live session from shitfun is backed with a tinnitus-inducing selection of tracks from Industrial Holocaust. Somehow, the live part of this actually sounds chunkier and better produced (figure that out), but Industrial Holocaust bring the Assuck / early Nasum / early Brutal Truth vibes (can you tell by their name? Haha) which are an interesting foil to Shitfun’s more turgid affair.

Trachoma / Pankreatite Necro Hemorragica – Split CDr (2020)

Trachoma is a lesson in brutal gore done very, very well indeed but PNH, despite the thinner production, legitimately sounds like bloody shit flying from your broken ass at 197mph. Truly, utterly disgusting. If the cover picture hasn’t already indicated, this split is for perverted goregrind fiends only. A lovely little gem for those already down the rabbit hole!

Grindzilla – Toshinquandon (2018)

Really cool groovy grind with a sick sound; clanking, horrible bass and heavy percussion. Only let down is the somewhat uninspiring vocal approach, but this guy is good at lows so I can’t throw any shade. Bands like this are a dime a dozen but this record was a lot of fun. I’d really like to see these guys play live. I can imagine a beach ball / various other inflatables kinda party at the OEF main stage.

Sextrash – Rape From Hell (2006)

To say that Sextrash fell off would probably be incorrect, because they were never “on” to begin with. The third record by this project however, apparently 14 years after the previous full length all the way forward in 2006, is a shadow of the former sounds of the band. It may be the “modern” production, it may be the shtick is wearing thin, or it (probably) is a combination of both these things. The hideously-titled Rape From Hell then, just about falls onto the wrong side of “bad but still kinda entertaining”. I’d rather just listen to one of the older records then ever listen to this again.

Schnauzer / Sloth – Split 10” (1998)

Schnauzer is a trip, as always. Not sure what I can add here that I’ve not already said before, but solid, chugging Ohio “scrap metal” underpins the various outpourings of madness that Jim puts us through. Sloth is a bit more disjoined, with samples and dare I say “acoustic” passages meandering between blurs of manic noisecore and more uhh “traditionally” paced songs of varying styles and genres. All in all, a fun split that doesn’t overstay its welcome.

Crow – Crow Music (1969)

Let’s be honest, the only reason I found this record was because of Sabbath’s cover of “Evil Woman”. Either way, I’m glad for that bridge for bringing me to the world of Crow’s Music (see what I did there?). Either way, this is a glorious time capsule to explore, taking you deep into the worlds of blues and hard rock, where the style was converging slowly to become something else entirely. Such a pleasant and endearing listen. Highly recommended.

Mahavishnu Orchestra – Visions Of The Emerald Beyond (1975)

I’ve become rather fond of this album over the last few months. I love the floaty, ethereal nature that’s pinned down by the warm 70s full band production. This limitation does stop the band drifting too far off into the ether, but at the same time they refuse to stay still. Across the multitude of songs and vibes on this thing, it’s difficult to pin down the performers to commit them to a groove or motif. This can lead to parts of the record sounding underdeveloped as the band flit from idea to idea, but it’s a small price to pay.

The Day Everything Became Nothing – Le Mort (2003)

As with, well, pretty much any The Day Everything Became Nothing release, expect a solid as fuck but somewhat no-frills approach to the “dry heave” school of chest-crushing goregrind. I guess some folk refer to it as “bulldozer” gore, and CBT and Guinea Pig are great examples of contemporaries that share this sound. TDEBN however, eschew the overtly sexual themes usually associated with such brutal forms of music, and instead apply a fairly cryptic, simplistic aesthetic which mirrors the blunt force of the music itself. Tidy darts.

Electric Wizard – Witchcult Today (2007)

This thing fucking slaps more witch titties than a sleazy hooded dungeon master in a shlocky 70s sexploitation flick. I may be slightly biased, as outside of the mammoth “Funeralopolis” on Dopethrone, Witchcult Today was the album that sold me on Leccy Wiz. The album I feel, despite it’s “wind tunnel” production, has some of the best stoner / doom tracks ever recorded, such as “Satanic Rites Of Drugula” and the eerily-similar in opening riff terms, “Torquemada 71”. You’ve also got “The Chosen Few” and “Dunwich” too, and these four songs alone are worth the price of entry. The one downside is that this falls apart easily on a lot of different platforms. You need a good fucking stereo system and a physical copy of the album to really get the most out of this bad boy.

Earth – The Bees Made Honey In The Lion’s Skull (2005)

In my somewhat worthless opinion, this is where the second phase of Earth really took off. Sure, we had Hex and then Hibernaculum which reimagined some old stuff in the new style, but I feel like Earth MK2 really took off with the success and reception of The Bees Made Honey In The Lions Skull. The artwork by Arik Roper is a perfect representation of the sound on offer here: bright, vivid, yet with an undercurrent of decay. Something that I will never ever forget is learning to drive around about when this album came out. I got the CD from Southern Lord’s webbed site, the version with the black slipcase (was there any other version available?). My dad would take me up onto the open roads in the Brecon Beacons in my mother’s rickety Rover 75 (maybe he secretly hoped I’d total it so that we could get a decent car instead?) and we’d have this fucking thing on the stereo as we wound our way through the mountains and trees. “Has it not got any words in it, then?” Dad asked. He wasn’t impressed. “Not really a song then, is it?” But yeah – if I am in the mood then Bees… is an almost perfect run all the way through. It can be a bit repetitive in parts but I guess that’s kind of the point. The only bit I don’t really like is the first half or so of “Miami Morning Coming Down II (Shine)”, where the guitar loop sounds like a valiumed up version of a bad polyphonic ringtone from the mid 2000s, y’know, the type of piece of shit mobile phone that you’d lose on a “night out” when your 15 and you’ve just necked your mate’s girlfriend on the local trainstation and then you got into a wicked nasty fight about it where nobody really landed any punches but it was enough to make you throw up the six cans of cider that you’ve drank. “Miami Morning Coming Down II (Shine)” sounds like the ringtone that weakly plays from somewhere in the nearby thorny bushes filled with rats and glass bottles because the fucking phone came flying out of your hoodie pocket when you were scrapping and now you have to crawl in there and get it back. So fuck you, “”Miami Morning Coming Down II (Shine)”. But yeah, this album is pretty good.

Three-6 Mafia – Mystic Stylez (1995)

Everything about this thing is basically a laundry list of what I look for in hip hop. Something however, is just not fully landing with me. It might be the length (oo er), or the general pace of the tracks being a real “creep slow” agenda – which is fine, but for every song on a 70+ minute album, well it can be a bit much. Anyway, this shit fucking rules, that aside. The production is just too fucking good. Makes me wanna wrap a blunt and I haven’t smoked in like 7 years. All the MCs are also very entertaining. Good shit.

CKY – An Answer Can Be Found (2005)

CKY’s third album and the beginning of the end IMO. An Answer Can Be Found isn’t a bad album by any stretch, in fact the single released for this record, “Familiar Realm” and opening number “Suddenly Tragic” are both up there with some of my favourite CKY tracks. Unfortunately I cannot speak so highly for the rest of the album, as well made as it is and as good as the riffs are none of the songs are memorable enough to stick with me and it facilitated my loss of interest in the band at the time of its release. Returning to it now all these years later I feel much the same, and the ballad-like closing track feels like a bit of a cheap attempt to recapture the success of “Close Yet Far”, which leaves a bad taste at the close of play, not exactly inspiring me into further repeat listens. RIP CKY either way.

Absurd – Grimmage Volksmusik (2005)

One of the more ferocious recordings from this era of Absurd, with the punk infusion that Absurd flirt with coming much more to the forefront than usual. I guess this kind of thing crosses over a lot with RAC / oi! anyway so it does not feel disjointed or out of place. In fact, it’s really good. Production seems a little harsher than most Absurd records of this time period too, which I’m sure contributes in more ways than one. Not their best stuff, but really solid and absolutely worth checking out.

Earth – Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light Part II (2012)

What part one should have been, IMO. Also, I’m not really saying that you could just take the best bits of both these albums and make one really fucking good album, but yeah, you could TOTALLY take the best bits from both parts and make a far more compelling and interesting record. On the surface, part two comes across initially as even more bare bones and sparser than its predecessor. I don’t think we even get any drums until the third track, for example. But this thing loves. This thing breathes. Despite its almost identical dark, meandering theme, Angels Of Darkness part two is vibrant, alive and most importantly, interesting. Not every track is hamstrung by the same plodding beat like some smacked up version of AC/DC. The long and short of it all is that I think this two part album project was somewhat of a failure. Despite that, some of Earth’s songwriting is not to be sniffed at. Opener “Sigil Of Brass” and the track “A Multiplicity Of Doors” are just absolutely stunning examples of Earth at their very best (and “The Rakehell” isn’t far behind).

Earth – Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light Pt 1 (2011)

Angels Of Darkness… (Pt 1) took the “new” sonic template established on Bees Made Honey… and took it to a more dark, smoky world. As beautiful as tracks such as “Old Black” and “Hell’s Winter” are, the runtime of some of these behemoths, coupled with their sparse, minimal structures and inherent similarities, makes this album a slog to listen to unless it is just playing in the background somewhere. I can’t give it a low score, because sonically it is fantastic, the musicianship is fantastic and the production is stellar. But in some of the longer songs I am really, really struggling to stay engaged. It doesn’t help that it feels like every single song has the same beat to it. I think the Earth overstretched themselves with the first part of this double album. TLDR: excellent highlights, but drags in the middle sections.

Decapitated – Winds Of Creation (2000)

Nihility has always been my favourite Decapitated album but in recent times Winds Of Creation has crept up there to rival it. Winds… is an absolute belter of a record, combining all of the best elements of metal music and pushing them to 11 (not in a Spinal Tap way, but in a fuckin’ ferocity overload kinda way). As a drummer myself, early Decapitated’s sticksman Vitek always stands out to me, with his insane flurries of double bass action and lightening fast rolls. The guitar riffs here though are just an absolute delight to listen to. They are elastic, sprite-like, dancing through the music yet leading it into heavy and exciting territory. Winds is bolstered by a warm and balanced production which allows every member to shine without the sound becoming fatiguing or overwhelming. To be honest, this should be a reference point on how to mix a “melodic” death metal record, the sound is really that good.

Goatmoon – Silver Serpent (2021)

A thoroughly disappointing outing from the usually very excellent Goatmoon. I do not dislike Silver Serpent for its departure into dungeon synth, I dislike it because it is a poor effort. Even for the more atmospheric, dreamy end of the genre, where melody and I suppose songwriting are replaced by pure feeling and invocation of mood, Silver Serpent fails to provoke any sort of worthwhile conjuration. Instead, Silver Serpent can be relegated to “video game background music” at best, and an uninspired, pointless spin off at worst. I really don’t know what went wrong here. The (I assume) synthesizer and folk instrumentation elements are some of the most interesting parts of Goatmoon’s usual sound, an album focusing on these should have been outstanding. I don’t get it.

Godflesh – Purge (2023)

It took me a while to get my head around Purge. I think it’s because my head really has to be in a certain space to fully embrace a Godflesh record. I can admire the beats and wailing guitars at any time, but to fully allow the absolute claustrophobia of their music to envelope me, well that takes a special kind of headspace, I guess. With all the pieces aligned, I can finally make my way through this entire full length without feeling like I’m suffocating, and I can safely say that it has been worth the wait for another Godflesh full length. The band’s last offering, Post Self, was something of a second wind, revisiting a forgotten era of the band (Us & Them) and perfecting the mission statement once and for all. Post Self was definitely a highlight of the group’s career. Purge on the other hand seems to rise from the smouldering ashes of the dense beatwork of Post Self and instead takes that framework, combining it with the kind of dark, dense heaviness we saw on Decline & Fall and even A World Lit Only By Fire. Honestly, the fact that these guys still release music as Godflesh is such a fucking incredible gift in of itself, I’ll be grateful even for a thousand more dub albums, let alone another full length. But yeah, this shit fucking rules. Long live the new (old?) flesh.

Immortal – Damned In Black (2000)

Not a bad album by any stretch, Damned In Black instead has the misfortune of being the album that the band made between two of their absolute best records. Therefore, Damned In Black slips through the cracks a little, which is bizarre because it’s pretty fucking good. Coming out just over one year after At The Heart Of Winter, this effort combines Abbath-led songwriting with some of the ferocity of the earlier records. It strikes a good balance, but one that would be improved tenfold on the next record, Sons Of Northern Darkness. Either way, don’t snooze on this one.

HIM – And Love Said No (2004)

Leeeeheeeheeeeeeeave mmeeeeeeeeeeeee I’ve probably heard this song a hundred thousand times. Since it’s release in 2004, with my friend’s obsession with the CKY / Bam Margera videos and my sister’s obsession with Ville Valo (before the goth kids got into emo music, although HIM is pretty IMO to be honest haha), this thing seemed to be in the CD player at all times. Be it in the car, in our room, or at my mate’s house. This is such a stellar collection of HIM’s earlier tracks that it does render the studio albums irrelevant for the casual fan. There are – of course – some gems in the rough but realisitically, if you want to wear a beanie hat, eye liner (or guy liner) and fingerless gloves and want the credentials to do so, then you’ve got everything you need right here. I’m obviously joking around here, but this is a good CD. The production across all sessions is solid, and whether you like HIM or not, the mass appeal is clearly there. Also, how the fuck is this CD 20 years old? Holy fuck.

Insane Clown Posse – Bang! Pow! Boom! (2009)

Despite having well and truly checked out of the Dark Carnival / ICP world by the time this dropped, upon returning for a re-listen I am surprised by how entertaining this actually is. Let’s get the brass tacks in place: this (and any of the other cards in the second deck) are never gonna be as good as anything in the first deck. ICP made a conscious decision, Mike E Clark or no, to go in a different direction than the hip hop focussed sound they purveyed in the 90s. And yes, that has resulted in some absolute stinkers for albums, but Bang! Pow! Boom! is not one of them.

God – The Anatomy Of Addiction (1994)

It would perhaps be slightly derivative of me to compare God to the spacey, dub-style Godflesh tracks that bounced around a lot in the mid 90s, or to the second half of the excellent Vae Solis by Scorn, another project to feature the guitar work of Justin Broadrick. But, without going on a mad trip that would involve shoving a trumpet up my ass and putting a beret on my head to adequately convey the smorgasbord of genres on display here, that is probably the easiest way I can convey the sound of God to you, at least on their second album, The Anatomy Of Addiction. It would also be easy to accuse God of being directionless on this CD, especially with it’s 80 minute runtime (not to mention it’s 18 minute closing track), but I think with it’s fairly treacle-like pace it’s actually easier to just nod along and led God take you where they are going to take you. For as heavy and abstract as this gets, it is often a tribal beat or slowed-down drum and bass loop that holds the tracks together, which helps you just sail along with the racket that the band makes. Personally, I think this might be better when accompanied by a medicinal cigarette, if you are so inclined to partake in such things.

Intestinal Disgorge – Sociopath (2008)

I’ve said it before and I will say it again: there is nothing out there quite like Intestinal Disgorge. Absurd levels of misogyny lead the way on this 50-minute nightmare journey through blasting carnage. Ditties such as “Stupid Fucking Whore Bitch”, “I’m Going to Kidnap You Bitch” and “Worthless Piece of Shit Bitch” are some of the more palatable song titles here which should act as a sounding rod (oo er) to help ascertain whether or not this is for you. If you are an upright, functioning member of society I would perhaps urge you to stay far away from the “music” of Intestinal Disgorge. For everyone else, I would suggest actually the best starting place is opening track “I’m Wearing Your Panties” which is just so silly yet brutal as fuck all at the same time. There is only so much I can say here. Even for a band as crackers as Intestinal Disgorge, Sociopath stands out in an already unstable and deranged discography. Guess I’ll spin this and celebrate with “A Champagne Flute Full of Piss”. Tidy.

Korn – Here To Stay (2002)

I vividly remember this single dropping. Goddamn, I thought it was the heaviest shit on the fucking planet. I rushed out and got the CD (the version with the blue cover) and played the song to death (ignoring the fucking dreadful remix version also tacked onto the CD). How in the sweet motherfuck did all this happen 22 years ago!?? Where did the time go? Where did my life go? Now I’m just sitting on an internet webbed site shouting into the void about a Korn CD that nobody gives a fuck about. But at least I’m here to stay (lol, we’ll see what happens in the next 22 years, shall we?). Life is short folks, enjoy it! I’m gonna spin this again for old time’s sake.

Korn – Evolution (2007)

Pointless single which in it’s 7″ form (that I got for 99p brand new, bargain) pairs “Evolution” (where J Devil’s voice strains hideously against a wall of computer generated auto-tune effects, uch!) with the Korn II album closer, “I Will Protect You”. What a fucking weird decision for the B-side, but hey, at least it’s not a crappy remix like the CD version of the single.

Foetopsy – In The Bathroom (2007)

Ants in your pants brutal death metal with a tendancy towards the absurd end of goregrind / porngrind. I’m talking farmyard vocals, pitchshifters, snare drums that sound like dust bins, y’know, the works. Throw in some hilarious samples (as well as some disturbing ones) and 21 total traxxx of blasting madness for you to enjoy. I got this CD through a trade or something many years ago, can’t remember how I got it, just that it was mailed to me (lol). Really fun shit that doesn’t outstay it’s welcome at only 19 minutes of brutality.

Goatsmegma – Demonic Goat Smegma Eating Ritual (2019)

Little did I know that song titles like “Licking the Goat’s Vaginal Prolapse in the Name of Baphomet” existed. It is usually the pits of grindcore where such ridiculous songs are found, but alas war metal is also a mire ripe for the plundering in this regard. The excellently named Goatsmegma then, are to be commended for pushing the absurdities of such a genre into the next level. Thankfully, they have the sonic chops to pull this off without a hitch and the aural destruction present goes hand in hand with the art and song content. I thoroughly enjoyed this one. “Inserting an Inverted Cross Into Goat’s Uterus”, anyone?

Anal Penetration / Anal Whore – Split CD (2003)

The Anal Penetration stuff here is dirty as fuck. Blurry, bordering on noisecore levels of gore and or porn for the sick, depraved, musical deviants out there. A stunning noize of disgusting obscenity. Anal Whore, who I am usually a big fan of, sounds a bit off here. There’s like, some weird bass sound (I think) which makes everything sound like a clanking mess, and not in a good way. The Anal Penetration side is so fuckin’ good though it totally makes this thing worth checking out. FFO disgusting porno/gore grind only.

Ambivalence – Pornomechanoid (2006)

Crisp, clean production and surprisingly melodic guitar work. Judging this book by it’s cover I was expecting unfathomable pits of muddy brutal death crossed with “goregrind” (read: an extra layer of pig squeals) but Ambivalence has a lot more nuance to them than I could have expected. Unfortunately, nothing particularly challenging or engaging is presented here and the vocals can be pretty bad in parts, so the band’s name really comes into play here, to be honest.

Eminem – Infinite (1996)

It’s cool to look right back to independent Em before he blew up, before he was Dre’s bitch and was before he was playing in every suburban white kid’s home in the western world. Infinite, as oddly-titled as it may be, is a slice of mysery of the daily life of a poor white guy in Detroit. Even with the Bass bros onboard even at this early stage, and with Proof (RIP) and Denaun helping with production, Infinite is fairly raw and also pretty depressing. Some of this “broke ass” prose makes its way into Slimy Shady LP, but its far more prelevant here. Nevertheless, you can see the talent that Em has, even if a lot of the rhymes here really don’t seem to be in his style. We all know he found his groove fairly quickly after this though, and superstardom was on the cards.

Judas Priest – Jugulator (1997)

In season 2 of HBO’s critically acclaimed series The Wire, dock worker and part-time criminal Thomas “Horseface” Pakusa asks his union boss Frank Sobatka the following question: “Let me ask you something important. You like fake tits? Thus far, I am undecided on fake tits.” – Now, I’m not saying that David Simon’s masterwork on the failure that is the war on drugs could or should have been written in any other way, but if I had been tasked with writing dialogue for Horseface, I would have done it a bit differently. Instead of clutching a titty mag in that grotty little office scene, Horseface would be reading a copy of Kerrang! or Metal Hammer or some such bullshit music rag, and instead he would be asking Frank Sobatka this slightly different question: “Let me ask you something important, Frank. You like Jugulator? Thus far, I am undecided on Jugulator.” – In fact, to round out this pointless preamble to my review, I’ll say that you can safely put “Thus far, I am undecided on Jugulator” on my gravestone. In all seriousness however, I have no idea what to make of this record. Ripper Owens is a formidable replacement for the wayward Halford. The band steps up a bit in heaviness, in an attempt to expand on what they started with Painkiller and to also modernise their sound. The production, seemingly shared between the band and Sean Lynch, is crisp and very well balanced. Why then, does Jugulator feel like a weird side-step into an alternative universe? The lyrics to all of the songs are incredibly goofy. I mean, Halford had some goofy-ass lyrics, but the man made “camp” metal as fuck. Ripper instead seems to wallow in lyrics of teenage quality, but it seems to be the case that other members of the band were filling the lyrical void left by Halford. It may have been better to leave the new vocalist deal with the lyrics. On top of this, we have these very odd samples and intros to various tracks, and like the icing on the bizarre cake is the super fucking zoomed in, pixelated artwork. Like… who the fuck signed off on that? I have no idea how much crack was being smoked during this era of the band. It is the only explanation that I can concoct that explains the results that we have in front of us. It is easy to see that the band are ashamed of this too, with Ripper’s period in the band more or less being wiped from history and never mentioned again (like any Sabbath line-up after Dio). I mean, it’s not even on Spotify like the entirety of the rest of the band’s catalog. TLDR – You like Jugulator? Thus far, I am undecided on Jugulator.

Rainbow Grave – No You (2019)

Imagine if Chat Pile came from the Midlands, then you’d have something very similar to Rainbow Grave. Boasting line-up royalty with members having played in Doom, Napalm Death and Scorn, Rainbow Grave’s debut churns your guts with disgusting bass guitar led hymns of misanthropic venom. Wailing, screeching guitars and even a saxophone bolster the noise element of this bare bones attack on your senses, whilst the vocals mock and chide you into submission. Hideous shit!

Rawhead / Raw Addict / Blue Holocaust / Active Stenosis – Split CD (2020)

Rawhead bring that FAT production and huge downtuned riff energy to the world of gargling gore. A surprisingly natural drum sound (read: pingageddon mode disabled) rounds out this barrage of swampy gore madness. I’d be doing Raw Addict (what a name!) a disservice if I compared them to early Dead Infection but damn that’s the vibe I get right out of the door with these guys. Crisp, tight blasts cut through a muddy sea of subterranean riffs and inhuman vokills. FFO: drowning in raw sewage. Blue Holocaust bring that big budget b-movie sound (ha) to the pits of goregrind, with downtuned into oblivion guitars that are still strangely audible and vocals that come at you from all angles like a multitude of undead creatures tearing at your weak, fleshy corpse. I firmly believe that Active Stenosis is one of the sickest goregrind bands to come about in modern day. Expect uncompromising heaviness and saturation of the aural listening field by the guitar, where the stabs of blastbeats penetrate through the noise like bullets tearing through skin. The band bring the a-game when it comes to pitchshifter vocal variety too. Great, great shit.

Burzum – Reh / Demo 91 (1991)

Impossibly raw, barely audible tape demo that would no doubt be lost to time if it existed in solitude, but is now an incredibly important document in the history and development of extreme metal music. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not insinuating that “Demo 2” from Varg is some slept on lost classic that scholars of black metal NEED to check out, but for those who have studied every other piece of work from Burzum and turned over every other rock, hearing the “classics” here in their rawest, primitive rehearsal form can be a rewarding experience.

Burzum – Forgotten Realms (2015)

If you’ve seen any of Varg’s YouTube / BitChute / insert alternative video platform here / uploads then I do not doubt that you will be intimately familiar with this track. What first appears to be a guitar is I believe a well disguised VST instrument of some kind, but whatever it is, it leads “Forgotten Realms” memorable droning hook for 5 minutes or so. Also, isn’t “Forgotten Realms” a D&D campaign setting? You’re such a nerd, Varg. I love it.

Absurd / Pantheon – Split CD (2002)

The art for this thing is so absurd (lol), I want it blown up to 3m x 3m in size and have it mounted (oo er) on my wall, so I can admire every glistening muscle in high fidelity. Music-wise, Absurd’s production seems a bit thin on the ground (with the exception of the ever-excellent vocals) and I could have sworn that I have heard some of these songs before? Feel like I’m getting into an Agathocles-esque loop here, but alas. Pantheon hits a bit harder, at least on the first impression, especially with a drummer who has ants in his pants and cannot keep still. This is all well and good for the first track or so but then starts to wear thin fairly quickly. There’s a lot going on with Pantheon’s music, but sometimes everything struggles to stay attached to the framework provided. Messy.

Goatmoon – Stella Polaris (2017)

I’m being facetious of course, but similarities to something like Enthrone Darkness Triumphant are abound. Knowing the notorious reputation of Goatmoon it’s pretty funny to draw comparisons between the two, but alas I shall quit whilst I’m ahead. Stella Polaris does employ the same swirling pianos, orchestral hits, style of razor-sharp melodic riffing, and even a few pitchshifted narration vocals just like the record I am jokingly comparing it to, but Stella Polaris’ true singular sin is a toss of a coin between it’s run time and it’s lack of originality. It is a well produced album, with moments of beauty and absolute genius, but for the majority of its short runtime, you could be listening to literally anyone.

Ynkleudherhenavogyon / Venymysgourvleydh – Freudhek Kothni Sekus Lytherenna (2022)

One of the coolest things I’ve heard for a while from the black metal world. Super lo-fi, intense compositions from the forgotten lands of Cornwall. At first it can be quite difficult to tell the two projects apart, but whilst there are slight differences between them it is pretty obvious that they were both composed by the same individual. The production is (no doubt deliberately) obscure and the drums are muffled blurs of kicks and hits, but the riffs buried in this thing are second to none. Couple that with the intense atmosphere, artwork, ambient passages and those incredible names, and you’ve got a winner. Seriously cool shit. Well worth going off the beaten path for.

Acid King – Busse Woods (1999)

Fam, these woods be straight bussin’, fr fr. Damn this shit crunchy as hell, though. It’s like the band has been to my local Chinese takeaway to sample the giant spring rolls. Then they took one of those things, no doubt all cold and soggy by the time they got it back to the studio and said, “we want this, but in guitar tone”. Like that terrible barber meme, recording engineer Billy Anderson said, “I got you, say no more”, and thus(se) Busse Woods was born. Props need to go to vocalist / guitarist Lori S, who soars over the heavy swamps of Acid King’s music. It really is a beautiful combination, and one that works so incredibly well. I’m fully aware that Acid King are not an unique band when it comes to this sort of thing, but they certainly pull it off incredibly well. Them bussy woods got me ackin up for real.

Deicide – Serpents Of The Light (1997)

Serpents Of The Light is where Deicide starts to lose me. To be fair, the first three albums are ranked incredibly high for me; their unique (for the time) brand of serrriously evil death metal was second to none, especially on the self-titled and Legion. Serpents Of The Light is far, far from being a bad record, it is just some of the genuinely scary energy and atmosphere of those earlier incantations has started to dissipate, leaving… well, a really good death metal record, I can’t argue that. But, it is one that fails to ignite the same kind of terrifying spark as the earlier efforts.

Black Magick SS – Symbols Of Great Power (2012)

Where it all began for the now infamous Black Magick SS. Black metal enthusiasts will no doubt feel right at home with the muddy, distant production, but fans of even the most dusty and occult psychedelic rock may be alienated somewhat by the intense layers of fog present on this thing. Despite this (I’m not complaining, just suggesting it may be a bit much for those outside of the lo-fi worlds lol), the magic (no pun intended) was clearly there from the start, albiet in more crude and primitive forms. Symbols Of Great Power is not a record I revisit often, but it is good to know the roots of one of the best projects in this style.

Klaus Schulze – Kontinuum (2007)

I have returned to this particular Klaus Schulze work many times over the past few years. It all started when YouTube’s algorhythm seemed hell-bent on recommending it to me, and I eventually gave in, due to the artwork being cool as hell and due to Schulze’s link to Tangerine Dream. I know very little about Schulze’s other works, but Kontinuum has become a go-to for “get shit done on the computer” kind of music, be that personal work, writing for my channels, or computing shit for my actual job, Kontinuum is the perfect accompaniment for the glow of a screen. That is not to boil this work down to just being background music, however. Kontiuum is three gargantuan electronic pieces that move with such fluidity it is hard to imagine them coming from electronic instruments. A powerful, evocative collection of works, and one that I would strongly recommend to all fans of electronic music.

Avitronic – Enophophilia (2018)

I thoroughly enjoyed this journey through the ages of electronic music. I was sitting here vibing, thinking, “damn, this thing covers some bases!”, from the deeper Berlin School origins to the bubblier “acid” approach of the 90s. When the beat kicked in during “Life Making Its Way” I was sold on Enophophilia and went to read the description on the Bandcamp, where the artist admits to wanting to create a hybrid electronic sound that encompasses “electronic music from the 70s to the most contemporary forms”. I’d say that they have hit the nail on the head, fair play. Cheers to auditory_cortex for the recommendation. (Stand-outs for me are “Life Making Its Way” and closing track “LUCA”)

Cannibal Corpse – Eaten Back To Life (1990)

The primitive yet thoroughly entertaining beginnings of one of metal’s most endearing (lol) bands. Things are a little rougher around the edges on Cannibal’s debut, with the influences of 80s “proto” death metal still in the mix along with (dare I say) a few thrashy elements too. I wouldn’t call their playing sloppy by any stretch of the term, but the band are certainly looser here than on any other studio record, but moreso due to the overall feel and vibe of the songs rather than due to amateurish timekeeping. The start of great things to come, as we all well know by now.

Agathocles / Cannibe – Split Tape (2013)

AGx stuff here I think is live (I think lmao), but pretty fuckin’ solid, and thrown in are a few of the band’s classic tracks to keep things interesting (unique to this session of course). Cannibe session is on par with their other material if you’ve heard it. If not, expect razor sharp guitars and monotonous but also incredibly satisfying drum programming. Insane watery gore vokills are then slathered all over the top of the musick with zero consideration for rhyme or reason. Lovely!

Brotha Lynch Hung – 24 Deep (1993)

Gotta love the mix of smoooooooth gangsta rap compositions and sick as fuck horrorcore lyrics. Brother Lynch was truly a pioneer of the horrorcore style, at least in the dark and disgusting lyrical content. Content varies from the usual gangsta fare but dialled up to 11, through to mad shit like cannibalism, which feels like it comes waaay out of left-field with the gangsta rap beats that are carrying this thing. So bizarre! Esham might have perfected the “wicked shit” sound, but Brother right here got the sickness right down underneath the smoothness of his rhymes.

Skinless – From Sacrifice To Survival (2003)

From Sacrifice To Survival is probably my least favourite Skinless release. Nothing about the songs here pop out at me. Older stuff is grimier, nastier, more savage. Later stuff is more slammy / precise and fuckin’ brutal. This one kinda just falls through the cracks in the middle, which is a pretty shitty analysis to make but I can’t think of how else to describe it, because there’s nothing necessarily wrong with this album, it just doesn’t press any of the right buttons. It gets a 3/5 though because it’s incredibly well made and performed. The artwork is also fairly terrible, let’s be honest.

Xysma – Swarming Of The Maggots (1989)

Imagine that some maniax poured all of the members of Carcass and Agathocles into that giant blender from that halloween episode of The Simpsons where the teachers are eating all of the children at the local school. The contents are then slurried down to what is basically a thick pulp. The pulp is magnetised, pumped out into wafer thin stripes and air-dried for maximum retention of gooey goodness. The thin strips are then wound around coils and placed inside plastic housing for safe-keeping. Insane cannibalistic madmen – if they can resist breaking open the plastic casing and savouring the taste of the contents – can put the plastic cartridge into what is known colloqually as a “tape player” to be submitted to the aural explosion being read directly from the macabre contents. This is what Xysma’s Swarm Of The Maggots sounds like.

Anal Vomit – Demonic Flagellations (2005)

Don’t come into a project entitled Anal Vomit expecting the world, and you will be rewarded for your imaginative frugalilty with a cut of messy, unholy death/black hybrid. It would be too easy to add the tag of war metal to cover all of the above bases, but realistically this isn’t quite unhinged enough to fall into that punishing category, if one was to be anal about it (lol). And seeing as I am here vomiting out of my ass onto these review pages almost daily, I will take the ample opportunity here to be just that (anal, in case you couldn’t guess). Stand-out tracks? Bitch, you gotta be kidding. Just get the 36 minute slab of noise on repeat like a true maniac.

Jim Kirkwood – Master Of Dragons (1991)

One of my favourite pieces of “dungeon synth”. It, of course, pre-dates the formation of such a genre by a considerable margin, and perhaps owes more to the worlds of Berlin School or film sountracks than it does Mortiis and other dark dungeon dwelling maniacs. There is a purity to Kirkwood’s releases that keeps it out of the mystery fjords and onto the rolling hills, the battlefields, the craggy cliffs etc. of far-off fantasy lands. Speaking of Mortiis, I hear a lot of what he did towards the end of The Stargate here (it’s all in the drums, kids!). I’ve written quite a few Jim Kirkwood reviews now and it gets to the point where it can be difficult to say things about these records without repeating myself. Kirkwood is eerily consistent across several eras of musical production, and couple that with a slightly confusing habit of re-issueing old releases with new artwork, it can sometimes feel like you’ve already been here before.

Insane Clown Posse – The Wraith: Shangri-La (2002)

Due to the period of time in which this came out I probably look at it with rose-tinted glasses. I LOVED this things when I was a teenager, to the point where I got it tattooed (under age, I might add) – just another one of a long line of silly decisions that I’ve made over the last 30+ years. If I am being honest with myself though, The Wraith is not as good as I have preserved it to be in my head due to my previous attachment to it. After the 5th Joker’s Card and Bizarre / Bizaar double album both landing on deaf ears for me, The Wraith should have also been a stinker. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Despite unfamiliar production (gone is Mike E Clark) and a leaning towards irritating rap/rock styles, most of the songs on The Wraith do land, if sometimes a bit clumsily. I expected a bit more cohesity on the album that promised “once all six have risen then the end of time will consume us all”, and whilst we did some some heavy bombs dropped at the end of the record, The Wraith is for the most part pretty fun and light-hearted. The opening tracks, “Hell’s Forecast” and the closing 4 tracks are probably my favourite, although I gotta be honest, “Homies” is a bop.

Bestial Summoning – The Dark War Has Begun (1992)

Raw, uncompromising, wobbly, rehearsal-room grade recording from a classic period of time. A formative time, you could say, with The Dark War… bridging the gap between Hellhammer / early Celtic Frost / early Bathory kinda shit and the styles of what would be dialled up to 1000 in the war metal genre. Evil demons, darkness, and all sorts of unholy shit abounds. Tidy.

Yuzo Koshiro – Streets Of Rage II (Bare Knuckle II) (1993)

Koshiro’s genius is (of course) ever-present on the SOR sequel as it was on the original. My one complaint is perhaps the lack of variety here when paired up with the OST for the first game, what we get is essentially more of the same kinda compositions. Now, in a world where such smoooooooooth fuckin’ pieces of work can be composed for the Sega fucking Genesis console there is the very real argument that if it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it. That definitely applies here! What we get here is another 55 minutes or so of solid video game techno music. The 90s really were a special time!

Esham – Repentance (2003)

Repentance comes on initially like a Tongues Part 2, but repeat listens indicate a slight maturing in this style of songwriting, as well as in the production style. Pretty sure Esham was on Psychopathic at this time, so the production fits right in with other records from their roster released during this time. Also, there’s some great features here from ICP, Twiztid, TNT (from Natas) and Bone Thugs.

Cryptworm – Oozing Radioactive Vomiton (2023)

Stinky, nasty old school death metal, just what the Dr. ordered. Been hyped about a second Cryptworm album for a while and I was very happy when they delivered. The band are now in possession of a drummer that can keep time and oddly enough at first this gives the impression of a loss of some sort of charm (coupled with the slightly cleaner production here on the sophomore effort), but once everything clicks into place you will quickly realise that this is for the best. Gone are the shuffling corpse vibes of older days, instead Cryptworm 2.0 is now a finely-tuned killing machine. Great shit, fair play. I just wish it was a little bit longer!

Insane Clown Posse – Forgotten Freshness Vol. 4 (2005)

FF4 was the first (and last) FF CD that I ever bought in person. My version came with, if I recall, a scented Hallowicked CD, which I’ll review separately (there are a few remixes / featuring tracks that are seemingly unique to this version of Hallowicked however). I remember thinking that Forgotten Freshness Vol. 4 was straight bullshit at the time. I had already heard tracks on Shaggy’s solo album, or on the Wraith remix albums, and to see them recycled here, along with a bunch of half-assed b-sides, was initially incredibly disappointing. Taking the releases chronologically however, all these years later, I can appreciate FF4 as being significantly stronger than it’s predecessor.  There are some absolute fucking STINKERS on this thing but let’s focus on some of the total BANGERS that help even it out. “Clown Walk” has some wicked production and the left over from Hell’s Pit (“Body’s Fly”) is a brilliant song from this era. In fact, I think this era of ICP is probably my favourite outside of the early CoC/Ringmaster days. “Nobody Moves” with Mack 10 is great as is the track that features Tech N9ne. 4 songs, as good as they are, do not make an album however, so therefore I must score this low due to the insane amount of awful filler.  I do not have high hopes for FF5 lol

Immortal Technique – Revolutionary Vol. 2 (2003)

Immortal Tech is second to none if you are into that conscious / political flow. There’s even a few zingers in here where Tech drops the seriousness and just has fun (imagine that!) such as the excellent and entertaining “Obnoxious”. Vol. 2 however is a step down from Vol. 1 in regards to the production, which is beefier but the sounds on display are not as hard hitting or aggressive, which I find does the tracks a disservice, to be honest. This trajectory would only continue into The 3rd World, which cements my feelings. Generally though, it’s not as groundbreaking as Vol. 1 but it’s still a great record.

Björk – Utopia (2017)

I’ve struggled with reviewing this album for seven years. I just keep putting it off and off and off, and today, after one more listen, I feel exactly the same way. For as lush and as dense as Utopia’s production is, I cannot shake the feeling that this is a listless, rudderless voyage through a sea of magnolia coloured clouds. Every so often, a huge piece of glass or crystal is visible through the mist, which refracts light beautiful. But then the horror hits me: what if our rudderless ship collides with one of these huge pieces of glass? Our vessel would be torn asunder and we’d be doomed to float amongst this artsy, ethereal music for an eternity, akin to some sort of hipster paradise purgatory. Honestly, this trip is about an hour long but feels like four. As we get further into the rabbit hole of Bjork’s career, more and more of her records succumb to this seemingly directionless formulae of songwriting, but Utopia is borderline unlistenable in its approach.

Action Bronson & Statik Selektah – Well Done (2011)

Solid album with confident, clever flows from Action Bronson. I gotta be in the mood for this guy but it really scratches the itch when nothing else can. There are certainly more “independent” sounding releases in Bronson’s catalogue, not that Well Done sounds particularily generic, but it does have a very, how can I say, “New York” sound. Easy comparisons can be made to Ghostface Killa or even MF DOOM what with all the food references but I do genuinely believe he stands alone / unique, and instantly recognisable.

D12 – D12 World (2004)

For the last twenty years I have dismissed this album as being not worth my time, but on a recent hip hop binge I revisited it once more and well, to be honest, I don’t know what the fuck was wrong me. I think, if anything, I’ve just not really paid proper attention to the rhymes. On top of that, the production is not as hard-hitting as their debut, which was really cold and unique. Annnnd on top of that, I absolutely fucking hated the lead single, “My Band”, when it came out. I wasn’t super fussed on “How Come” either. The whole thing just smacked of what Em was doing with Encore around the same time and I guess I just switched off. The reality however, is that D12 are as good as ever. Adjusting to the different production, these guys are just as good as they have ever been and they all bring something fresh to the table and vibe off each other. Other than the big singles and a few other key moments, Em doesn’t show up all that often, which gives the others the room to spit that they deserve. But yeah, I’m not saying that this is some slept on sleeper hit that everyone is missing out on, but it’s a damnsight better than I ever it remember it being.

Busdriver – Temporary Forever (2002)

This shit slaps. It was slap even harder however, if Busdriver spent less time trying to sound clever and more time on constructing worthwhile, long-lasting songs. Instead we get a blurry, top-speed barrage of flows that are all loosely held together. Which is fine, because it’s impressive as fuck, but mans right here is basically the rap equivelent of Dream Theatre or some such music wankery. The production is great and the songs are great when they land, which is about 50% of the time. If Busdriver got his head out of his ass, then I’m sure this percentage would only rise. Oh, and the recordings of him freestyling to unsuspecting food service workers at drive-thrus is so cringe that I almost turned off the record.

Boondox – The Harvest (2006)

Ah, Boondox. No amount of high profile guest stars or biiiiiig dick production can save the mediocrity that is a fuckin’ Boondox record. I mean, I don’t really know what the problem is. Boondox himself isn’t exactly a terrible rapper, he can hold his own, but there’s just something about the songs on this thing that irritate me to no end. The Harvest isn’t anywhere near as bad as some of the albums that followed it, so I guess if you’re gonna check out Boondox then start out here. But yeah. Boondox isn’t for me, fam. Much respect for putting your art out there, but I think this sucks.

Bizarre – Attack Of The Weirdos (1998)

Attack Of The Weirdos got that perfect hardcore 90s production and feel to it, coupled with Bizarre mad rhymes (which are here in their infancy but still great) and some amazing guest spots and you’ve got a winner of an EP. This isn’t gonna win any awards or smash any records but all in all it’s a solid debut EP with some hilarious tunes on it.

Insane Clown Posse – Forgotten Freshness Vol. 3 (2001)

The tracks on this one should have been left on the chopping room floor. Forgotten Staleness Vol 3 sounds like 80% outtakes from The Amazing Jeckel Brothers (an album which draaaagged anyway) and 20% featuring cuts that are worth checking out for the novelty. The album’s high point is the Mix-a-lot remix / cover song “Posse On Vernor”, which is by far the best song. The Eminem diss is pretty funny, but is also pretty weak tbh.  Do it on my lip like a milk ad!

Natas – Multikillionaire: The Devil’s Contract (1997)

For when you run out of old school wicked shit acid rap era Esham to listen to, there’s always a gang of fuckin’ Natas records for you to fall back on. Multikillionaire is not a far cry from a regular Esham record, with The Bogeyman on production duty (and we all love Esham’s production, right?), and taking up a good 40/50% of the verses here too. TNT is on point too, the only thing really dragging Natas down in quality is Mastamind (unless I got TNT and Mastamind mixed up). I don’t want to speak ill of the dead but he’s not quite on the same level as Esham and TNT. Don’t me wrong, I’d still listen to a Mastamind LP any day of the week, but he’s the obvious weakest link here. That’s a small complaint though, in reality. This is some great old school “horrorcore” shit.

Solanum – Spheres Of Time (1998)

The “Space Ambient” tag is relevant here, especially on closing track “Space And Time” which sees the more typical dungeon synth structures fall away for something that is altogether more new age and Berlin School mixed together into one strange melting pot. The first three tracks are more in the vein of what you would expect from cavernous 90s synthesizer music in this vein, but with more active, orchestral elements at the forefront, rather than dense atmosphere fogs. The racing hi-hat rushes of the almost hip-hop beat in the closing track (wait, did Solanum low-key invent the trap hi-hat rush? lmao) are a bit jarring, especially as the record closes on this note. Entertaining work, whichever way you cut the cake.

Butcher’s Harem – Snuff Porn Gore (2011)

Not gonna lie, I usually enjoy the wicked, disgusting end of horrorcore more when it has less of a polished sound and more of a janky, fucked up production. Snuff Porn Gore, as uninspiring a title as that is, is a nice exception. This is THE Billy Big Bollocks of the horrorcore world, especially in the circles of MC Bushpig and the extended cast of the Harem / Suicide Rap Orgy. It’s extra layers of polish and hard-hitting production do not detract in any way from the filth, grime and utter revolting disgust one should expect from a record such as this. In fact, it puts those grisly parts under a microscope with a clearer lense – I can understand half of the shit these guys are saying now LOL! And trust me, it’s fucking rancid.

VHSテープリワインダー – Red Light District (2015)

Smooth, relaxing vaporwave that doesn’t fall off too far into the ether due to the ever-prominent prescence of ticking beats holding everything together like glue. I’m not sure of the album’s aesthetic, being from the UK I have of course been to the red light districts of Amsterdam and Brussels to have a nosey at what goes on, but the IRL vibe at these kinds of places is so much more chaotic than the tunes on display here that it clashes a bit with the atmosphere that the record is trying to build. This is a “me” problem though. All in all, a solid album.

MC Bushpig & MC Mule – Tape 1 (2003)

Well, this is an interesting listen, even for those who may be already versed in the world of MC Bushpig or the Suicide Rap Orgy. Weird, angular, and downright obstructive beats and backing tracks are the order of the day, and the vocals are more amateurish than the other releases, especially from MC Mule, but it’s quick to adjust to the vibe and roll with. Tape 1 is worth listening to for the production alone, even if this kind of “horrorcore” is not your bag. The beats on this are so fucking wicked and twisted and garbled and fucked up, it really fucking rules.

N.O.D. – Niggaz Of Destruction (1996)

Sick, deep fried, southern rap with insane, chunky production drenched in tape hiss and dank samples, all laid underneath a variety of MCs spitting all sorts of nasty shit. I guess on first impressions it was like a Memphis version of the Wu Tang Clan’s first album, but that would be a fairly cheap comparison. If you’re into the darker side of hip hop this is a gem shining in the darkness.

Del Tha Funkee Homosapien – I Wish My Brother George Was Here (1991)

Solid as fuck debut from one of the best MCs on the planet. I don’t know why but Del never really reached superstardom, because this guy has such a strong flow and such great charisma. The subject matter is a bit clumsy in places on this debut, but the production is fantastic (if not a product of its time, in all fairness). Highlights have gotta be “Pissin’ On Your Steps” and “Sleepin’ On My Couch”.

Insane Clown Posse – Forgotten Freshness Vol. 1 (1995)

Wasn’t the biggest fan of the second disc so figured I’d come back and talk about the first disc because it’s also listed as a separate entry. This is a good thing, for sure. The tracks on disc one are much better – all that old school Detroit smog shit. I know I use that “Detroit smog” descriptor a lot when talking about ICP but its the best way for me to describe that style of production that they had between Carnival of Carnage up to and just before Riddlebox. There’s some classic old school cuts here too, but also some total fuckin’ stinkers that should have stayed on the cutting room floor, such as “Willy Bubba”.

Sir Mix-A-Lot – Swass (1988)

Mans got a way with the drum machine, I’ll give him that. And the flows are really cool. Like, proper old school 80s hip hop sound. Despite this the mix sounds kinda hollow and devoid of bass, with the focus instead directly onto the beats (“Mall Dropper” slaps though). This works in many ways but also leaves the “stage” really sparse and empty in between verses sometimes, which gives the record an odd, unfinished feel. I know this is part of the style (at the time!), so I can let it slide, for sure. Also mad as fuck to hear the title track having only heard the Pussycat Dolls’ “version” of it first. That blew my mind. Also also mad as fuck that Terry Date is the engineer on this thing. How do you get from mixing this to mixing awful nu metal? Haha!

Insane Clown Posse – Tunnel Of Love (1996)

Tunnel Of Love is silly as fuck but hey, it’s ICP we are talking about here. Considering songs like “Lil Somethin’ Somethin’” from the same kind of era aren’t very good, so facing a whole EP of “love” (read: fucking) tracks, on paper at least, didn’t seem like the best idea. Tunnel Of Love is a quality slice of wicked shit however, from the world famous (lol) opening track, the hilarious “Super Balls”, to deeper cuts like “Stomp”, Tunnel Of Love has a bit of everything, all held together by a backbone of old school Detroit smog production by the one, the only, Mike E Clark. Forkses up, forkses down, ninja.

Spencer Nilsen – Ecco: The Tides Of Time OST (1994)

This shit haunts the absolute fuck out of me. I could never really get very far in Ecco 2 (The Tides of Time), my little child brain couldn’t work out the abstract puzzles, concepts and messages that were on display. I used to just swim around eating fish and doing jumps out of the water, and that’s about it. I did end up using passwords that I got out of some cheat book to see some of the crazier higher levels however, and what really always stuck with me about the Ecco sequel was the soundtrack, which is equal parts laid back / chill and also moving / anxiety inducing. Pulling this soundtrack up on YouTube or whatever instantly beams me back to the mid 90s, to the sounds, smells and mystery that was life as a young child. It feels so long ago, yet only yesterday. The people I was always around back then, grandparents etc., are long dead. The console I played this game on is now a forgotten, dusty relic, consigned to the attic of my own parents, who are now the age of the people who watched over me as I sat in my own world, lost to the music and fathomless depths of Ecco’s adventure. I’ve got my own son now, who’s probably a year or two younger than I was when I played Ecco and fell in love with this music. I’d can’t imagine he’d be much into Ecco, he’d probably give it a cursory glance and wonder wtf is this old dolphin game lol The cyclical, pulsing nature of Nilsen’s fantastic OST really helps deliver the vibe of the game, where time and life and death are just abstract concepts. I can’t help but apply that to my own life as I sit here, seemingly in the middle of the circle myself, remembering the people who are now gone, and appreciating the generation that are now coming up behind me. Soon enough I’ll have looped around the circle myself, but that’s OK. We’re all on the same track here. Is it future? Or is it past? Does it even matter?

Insane Clown Posse – The Great Milenko (1997)

Insane Clown Posse – The Great Milenko (1997)

I listened the ever-living fuck out of this album when I was a teenager. The Wraith and Great Milenko were my introduction to ICP, and whilst I worked backwards and preferred the older Joker Cards, Great Milenko will always hold a special place with me for reigniting my interest in the band. I can remember it now, as clear as day, my girlfriend sent me an .mp3 of “Halls Of Illusions” via MSN Messenger and I was instantly hooked. I had seen ICP on the wrasslin’ when I was a little kid, and the theme they did for the Oddities was on the PlayStation game WWF Attitude. I fuckin’ loved that game, and my custom-made wrassler, Banzai, had “The Greatest Show” as his theme music. It had never occurred to me that the ICP was a band, nor that the Oddities theme was composed by anyone other than some heads over at the WWF music dept. – so when I found out that there was a WHOLE fucking album of music like that, I went bezerk. After hearing “Halls Of Illusions” for the first time that one night on MSN Messenger, that was it. I bought this CD the next time I was at a record store, and the rest is history. I wouldn’t call myself a juggalo to be honest, as in, I’m not dedicated enough to that lifestyle at all, and my real love lies deep in grindcore, death metal etc., rather than hip hop, but man I fuckin’ loved this band. The zany lyrics (“I’m Violent J and I’m back like a vertabrae” is a 10/10 line, fight me) and dirty carnie beats won me over immediately. I’m probably biased but I would still genuienly say this is probably the best place to start with ICP, if you’re looking for an in-road.