Lines In Wax

THIRTEEN YEARS OF UNWANTED OPINION

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Sarke – Varunah (2009)

Colour me grey and blue and dead from exposure to subzero temperatures! That is how I feel after being exposed (finally) to the first Sarke record. It is probably quite ignorant of me to say that I feel like I’ve found a secret cache of bonus Darkthrone albums, but that’s only because Nocturno Culto has such a unique voice. After several listens of course, this narrow view disappears, especially when you’ve learnt the intricacies and differences in Sarke’s compositional elements. On top of the excellent black metal, the production is fantastic. It sounds organic and natural yet completely crystal clear and powerful. I cannot recommend this enough.

Boondox – The Harvest (2006)

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.

Lamentation – Fullmoon Over Faerhaaven (1995)

Lamentation – Fullmoon Over Faerhaaven (1995)

Beautiful, stunning, dusty and mysterious old school dungeon synth. Very wobbly, both in regards to the tape quality, and that of the timing of the two players – but if anything this just adds to the charm of the record. Feels a little bit long, especially with the lack of variation, but if you’re after a particular mood or sound, you can’t go wrong with this.

Blasphemy – Gods Of War (1993)

Blasphemy – Gods Of War (1993)

Slightly rocky third release/album (I think) from Blasphemy, where the carnage of the band seems to fall over itself rather than unfold in constant reels of barbarity. Hey, it’s still great, and it’s a fun listen, but it ain’t no Fallen Angel Of Doom. That being said, this is better than most low effort bestial / war metal that gets released these days, and is still well worth checking out.

Morgue Tar – Immersed In Mortiferous Enmities (2022)

Morgue Tar – Immersed In Mortiferous Enmities (2022)

Ah, wow. Now this is just a glorious fucking mess. I mean, the cover art kinda tells you that before you even press play. Morgue Tar mix the bottom of the sewer style goregrind with d-beat , which is just glorious. I’m not talking about a bit of mince here that’s leant a little heavily into it’s punkier roots, I’m talking 100% d-beat crossed with gore. They should have called this Dismorgue.

Weakling – Dead As Dreams (1999)

Weakling – Dead As Dreams (1999)

Another one of those cases where a random listen absolutely blows me away. This is, truly, what it’s all about, why so much time is spent searching, researching, listening, reading…. it all pays off when you go “hey, that cover art and logo looks sick, I wonder what that sounds like?”, and boom – you’ve just uncovered an absolute gem. I am, clearly, late to the party with Weakling, but god damn, this is in an incredible album. The cuts are mostly 10/15 minutes a piece, yet feel about half of that; there is some sort of charged, exciting propulsion to these songs, even if they are rather morose and even miserable in vibe and feel. This is, easily, without a doubt, one of the greatest black metal records I have ever heard.

Spooooky Steve / Curried Shits / Cukia / Interbrutial Crease / MxExMxAxR / AxFxBxUxDxGxAxCxTxYxPxF / Squelch / FxFxWxAxBxUxIxDxCxOxMxTxWxFxOxDxAx – Split CDr (2021)

Spooooky Steve / Curried Shits / Cukia / Interbrutial Crease / MxExMxAxR / AxFxBxUxDxGxAxCxTxYxPxF / Squelch / FxFxWxAxBxUxIxDxCxOxMxTxWxFxOxDxAx – Split CDr (2021)

For the record, if the band names are not ridiculous enough for you, this 8 way digital split is called 8 Ways For Lesbians To Indulge In Coprophagic Ass Eating. Where does a split end and a compilation begin? Either way, some small and potentially permanently damaged part of me can’t turn down a listen to a MySpace-grade bedroom goregrind / cybergrind compilation or split. It reminds me I guess of better times. Anyway, musically, there’s a few surprisingly good things here. Spooky Steve, a strange name for a cybergrind project, in particular is pretty fucking great. The insane synthesis of the instruments is great. Towards the end there are some noise pieces, which are great, but not groundbreaking.

Steven Seagal – Songs From The Crystal Cave (2004)

Steven Seagal – Songs From The Crystal Cave (2004)

This is really an intriguing album. The title alone promises something mystical and exciting, unknown and terrifying. The art, well, strip away three of those things, leaving terrifying. I think that word is probably the best way to describe this entire album. Like, who on earth allowed this to happen? If the man himself isn’t crooning out awkward ballads or pop numbers, he’s lending his “guitar” “skills” to a bevvy of lukewarm reggae / dancehall inspired tracks, chock full of boring MCs and infomercial-grade music (and not in the cool vaporwave way). Honestly, I’m appalled at myself for sitting through this one.

Tower Of The Sun幽霊の次元 – Anomalous Planet未知の (2018)

Tower Of The Sun幽霊の次元 – Anomalous Planet未知の (2018)

I look at the sleeve art for this record and I look at the name of the project and all I get are intense Annihilation vibes. Which is furthered by the project’s Bandcamp, where each release is augmented with a cryptic message for its listeners. Similarily, the music too has its own fractured, futuristic feel. Discogs has this classed under vaporwave, but I would class it as such in the loosest sense; Anomalous Planet sounds like it belongs to no era or generation of electronic music. It stands apart with its own unique atmosphere and vision. I look forward to checking out the other releases from this project.

CKY – Volume 1 (1999)

CKY – Volume 1 (1999)

Volume 1 is another one of those records that got played to death in my teenage years. Listening again as an adult, it seems almost like a jumble of different sessions stitched together rather than a cohesive album, but that isn’t too much of an issue when the songs are of this quality. From the instant mega hit of the opening track, the abstract heaviness of “Rio Bravo” or “Lost In A Contraption”, or the downright odd “Human Drive In Hi-Fi” or “To All Of You”, Volume 1 showcases a band that, yes, are admittedly still finding their feet after a bazillion name changes, but are also alive with interesting ideas and concepts.

Septycal Gorge – Growing Seeds Of Decay (2006)

Septycal Gorge – Growing Seeds Of Decay (2006)

Enjoyable if you’ve got brutality on the brain, but my main criticisms which I feel need airing is that this production is very dry and awkward, and it can feel like the songs are lurching along at a snail pace even when the tracks are blasting away. That, and the vocals are mixed incredibly low. Sorry to level my criticisms in such a short review, but they are pretty big drawbacks.

Hellbastard – Feral (2015)

Hellbastard – Feral (2015)

One thing I will say about Hellbastard is that Hellbastard live is a different beast to Hellbastard on a record. Whilst the band have always stood apart from their peers (even when they wallowed in the crust scene), there is an undeniably experimental, forward-thinking edge to the band’s bizarre mix of metal, punk and other things in-between. Granted, this experimentation doesn’t always pay off, but on the Feral record, it pays off in spades. My only initial complaint is that the snare sound is pretty synthetic, but you can adjust to this fairly quickly. That aside, the production is solid and dense, and nothing is left fighting for breathing space. I remember checking out the video for “We Are Coven” when the single first dropped and was taken aback by the ambitiousness of it all. “Shame On Us” is super catchy in a chuggy way, and “And The Point Of Your Being Is…?” has a cracking guitar solo towards the end. All in all, the world is a better place with Hellbastard in it, and Feral is a solid addition to their repertoire.

Salt Bath – Uncomfortable Choices (2017)

Salt Bath – Uncomfortable Choices (2017)

Salt Bath are a new band from the Newport area of South Wales, playing an abrasive form of back-to-basics noisemongery distilled through the blunt force weapons of choice – bass guitar and drums (with Venom Prison sticksman Sheehy on the skins). Uncomfortable Choices boasts an impressively all-encompassing production sound, courtesy of One Louder Studios, again in Newport. Imagine Big Black meets Melvins or if you want to go all out; Death From Above 1979 meets early Mr. Bungle. The meat and bones of the record is a series of under-two-minuters that really compliment the chaotic bass and drums combination (I might be biased here…), although there is a smattering of longer tracks too, which not only help to break up the chaos and offer something a bit more profound, but contribute an intense layer of atmosphere, which considering the mediums chosen for expressing such sounds, is no small feat. Case in point would be “Love Song”; a lurching – almost swaggering – minimalistic crawl that just gathers in tension as it clamours together its seven minutes. What a beauty!

Esham – Closed Casket (1994)

Esham – Closed Casket (1994)

Closed Casket is surely the definitive Esham record – I love absolutely everything about it; the sound, the lyrics, the samples, even the artwork (for some reason). Closed Casket captures a slice of Detroit “suicidalist” lifestyle in the smog of the early 90s, during that perfect period when Esham was still dank as fuck but not dropping references to the man down below every 20 seconds. I tend to categorise Esham into two categories – a.) when he goes hard, and b.) when he goes silly. Closed Casket falls entirely into the first camp, and is nowhere near as wet as records such as Mail Dominance or that Gothom City nonsense. All the beats are bangers, the bass is spot on, rumbling nicely along for a fat backbone. The production is lightyears ahead of the previous record, KKKill The Fetus, but still retains that grime and almost, how can I put it, copy-of-a-copy-of-a-copy-of-a-copied-cassette sound. This kinda gets lumped in with the horrorcore thing as Esham is associated with ICP and all that lot, but any fan of old school hip hop would do themselves a service by checking this out. Stand-out tracks: “The Wicketshit Will Never Die”, “My Homie Got Shot”, “Can’t Take It Wit Cha”, “Chatty Ass Nigga”, “Flatline”, “2 Dollahoe”, “I’ll Be Glad When You Dead”.

Circle Of Dead Children – Human Harvest (2003)

Circle Of Dead Children – Human Harvest (2003)

To be fair, CODC are one of the few bands that successfully managed to mix death metal with grindcore. I bought Zero Comfort Margin when I was a teenager and didn’t really get it; the band play quite an artsy, progressive spin on grinding death metal, and also in hindsight I realise that Zero Comfort Margin probably wasn’t the best place to start with this band. But thanks to the powers that rule on the ‘net (idiots like me who think they know everything) I was directed to this little shit of an album. That’s more like it, pal! The first thing I noticed about CODC is the sheer depth of the low vocals. This shit is off-the-chart low. I’m talking Glenn Benton and Jason Mendonca low. The low vocals work perfectly (alongside the odd ‘reee’, ‘breee’ and ‘skreee’) with the buzzing ferocity of the guitars and the clean, precise drumming. The majority of the songs are ferocious one minuters, but there’s a smattering of microblasts too, the shortest being “White Trash Headache” at a meagre six seconds. The longer, more drawn-out tracks like “Mother Pig” and “My Supernatural (Bells Ring Slowly)” are captivating, nauseating and generally uncomfortable. In the best way possible, of course. All in all, a brutal and disturbing grindcore / death metal crossover record.

Embalming Theatre / Swarrrm – Split 12″ (2008)

Embalming Theatre / Swarrrm – Split 12″ (2008)

Another record that I have been meaning to buy for years and years and years. I finally got it cheap at Obscene Extreme (like, Obscenely cheap ;D) and whilst I was chuffed to pieces to pick up a split 12″ for roundabouts the price of a split 7″ I was gutted as fuck to find out that the material here is all live! Maaaaan, why can’t I ever research these things properly? The amount of surprises I’ve had just by spinning a fucking vinyl is bloody unbelievable! I know it’s my fault but I cannot shake the disappointment. I am not familiar with the works of Swarrrm so less than ten seconds into the horrendously recorded live set I’ve turned the bastard thing off. Embalming Theatre on the other hand have bizarrely placed a 7″ worth of original material before their live tracks, which is a proper strange move but one that I applaud them for as it totally saves this 12″ for me. The band never fail in their blast and gurgle approach, and kick things off with the oddball track “Tsunami Pt I: Survived to be Gangraped”. Well, isn’t that an unfortunate set of circumstances? The live set that follows the studio tracks isn’t that bad either; the quality is very acceptable and is probably a sound desk recording or something similar. There’s a few Embalming Theatre classics here as well so that’s more reason to be happy; “Someone Else in my Coffin” and “Get High on a Dead Dog” still sound amazing live. This 12″ was put out by the possibly Pig Destroyer-obsessed Jennifer Grind Records, and is limited to 500 copies.

Dr. Dre – The Next Episode (1999)

Dr. Dre – The Next Episode (1999)

This song is part of my childhood! Quite a strange thing to say, considering I’m not from the streets of CPT, and that I never grew up to develop a taste for gin, khakis and mackin’ bitches. I’m partial to the chronic, however I doubt that has got anything to do with Nate Dogg’s g-funk serenading. This is a classic Dr. Dre track, and it’s a shame that he never made more solo albums; this is epic rap tunage right here. Snoop Dogg’s presence is almost always welcome and Nate Dogg’s silky baritone is the voice of a place in time that will always be special to me. This is a bona fide DJ single. Side A holds the original and the radio edit, whilst side B contains an instrumental and an acapella for all you scratch happy nerds out there. This was released in 1999 by Interscope and Dre’s very own Aftermath label. 

diSEMBOWELMENT – Transcendence Into The Peripheral (1993/2012)

diSEMBOWELMENT – Transcendence Into The Peripheral (1993/2012)

Imagine how stupid I felt after shelling out for the super-ultra-mega-wicked-limited edition of this record that was ONLY available at day one of Roadburn 2012 when I found out there was actually less to it than the normal Relapse package and a few quid more expensive! Bitch please! In a European world where records cost an average of 20 Euros each I was not impressed. Never mind, I guess it is the same record regardless, not to mention it is just that; super-ultra-mega-wicked. Oh boy. diSEMBOWELMENT were another one of those bands that I would always hear mentioned and I would never get around to checking out. Shame on me. When Roadburn 2012 announcements came around and I finally was forced to download this to get familiar with them, boy was my face red. Nowadays my tolerance for death metal is as thin and worn out as Sasha Grey’s taint, and for that reason I will kick myself eternal that I did not discover this record in the peak of my death metal / grindcore days, where I surely would have appreciated it more! But it is no matter, it is still slower than a Land Rover Defender stuck in 2nd gear, and I can get down with that. “Death metal? Slow, you say? Have you had too many knocks on the head?” I hear you ask. Why yes I have, but that’s besides the point. I think this is the first death-doom record I own; that’s not to say that it is pure death-doom, you get the odd blast beat and a whole bunch of weird stuff to keep it interesting. If you like your records long, drawn out and quite honestly painful, I would highly recommend this band.