Friday, March 30, 2007

More metal than your ma's...

Mix tapes. Remember those? God I do miss them. There was a point from 99 until 2001 where I made so many of them for people (and like wise, them for me) and I would spend so much free time carefully collating a good mix, balancing it and then setting to the task of conceiving it, but now, fuggedhaboudit, damn IPOD'S and you cretins on soulseek, you've ruined it.

The type of mix tapes I received from people varied, thinking back some of the mixes I got…anyway, I digress, one of my favourites was from Mark of Downtrodden in 2001 (now Hellbent Diehard, fuckin check these mofos out, they are seriously lethal,, who dedicated one side to new school/metalcore and the other side to death/grind. That tape was run ragged, played all the time in my car and it served as a source for new bands, to track down their releases which leads to the focal point of this post, Aftershock.

The track from that comp (Nothing) hit me hard, and began to dig around to find info on the band discovering that 3/5 of them had gone into Killswitch Engage so, wasting little time (as always) I ordered whatever I could find and awaited for the precious package to arrive. At the time, the only CD to be found was their sophomore effort 'Through The Looking Glass,' but no sign of this track 'Nothing.' Further digging let me discover that there had been another full length, this monster, 'Letters,' released on xLifesentencex, but tracking the bastard down has taken until now to do so.

Damn this was a record that was so prototypical, sowing seeds that would be ripped from the ground in the years to come but, in spite of the sheer mass of bands now playing metalcore, none have the sound, the atmosphere of Aftershock. This comes down to two salient factors, the fearsome vocals of Tobias and the cast iron riffs of Adam D.

Now whatever you think of the latter (he certainly doesn't help his personal self image by declaring how he is going to anally rape people's mothers and daughters whilst playing live with KSE), his talent for writing riffs is immense. 'Letters,' showcases some of his finest, they are volatile, they brim with a potent energy that make speakers rumble. Yet, despite their ferocity and intensity, they are so instantly memorable and thoroughly addictive that I have often found myself continuously gorging on Aftershock for days.

So see what you think, and tell me what you feel about the changes in style between Aftershock and KSE, I know that there are variables such as label, popularity and what not that have affected this, but I like to see an open dialogue on how people feel about these changes, - Aftershock - Nothing - Aftershock - Divest Your Entity - Aftershock - Apparitional State

Now, 'Letters,' was reissued as part of a double CD set with all of Aftershock's other material a few years ago, dubbed as 'Propaganda,' which you can still find here,

But, if you desire the original pressing, only one place to look peeps -

I'm not dead...

Sorry sorry sorry, but things have been way too intense here, what with chalking up another year on terra firma, family issues, ordeals and problems and the fact that I've got a mate coming tomorrow and staying until Wednesday has seen me slacken with the blog, so sorry peeps, there will be a post today (maybe 2), so keep coming back, there will be an update ;)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Darkness surrounds...

Despite this theme is constantly recurring, I'll stress it one more time, the mid 90s was a brilliant time for music and although I had no part in the world of hardcore during that time (admittedly, I wish I had been born 10 years earlier, then I would have seen our (Italy) World Cup Victory in 82 as well) the more research I have done and the more stories told to me endear me all the more. However, one prominent premise that has arisen to me is that whilst the mid 90s was a great period and produced some extremely powerful, profound music, it is a frustrating period that had many great bands that didn't get the opportunity to fully demonstrate what they could have and should have done.

Tons of my favourite bands from that era were unable to release much material, of course there were the lucky ones, if you were signed to Victory, you had a chance of getting out at least one full length. But for the legions of bands that expired after a demo and a 7-inch, I lament and wish you had stayed together! However, I recognize and respect that there are variables that would have a siginifcant influence on the fate of a band, such as money (lack there of), member drop outs, member conflicts of interest etc etc etc. But I do often wonder whether bands such as Contempt and the countless others would have been able to sustain themselves if they had gone beyond 2 albums, whether they would have absorbed the most despicable trends of that time and marketed them as a 'progression.'

This is all speculative though, but it does pain me to have to ration the music by bands like Contempt, simply because, I love it so much that it could end up being played all the time. This would then lead to the CD becoming 'un-listenable.' Due to every detail being memorized, every beat imprinted so that when it hits it causes a synchronized tap or kick to coincide with it.

The music to be found on 'One Justice,' is pretty much how I imagined it to be due to the label it was released on (, the time it was recorded and released (late 90s) and the band's location (Syracuse, need I say more??). Featuring one of my all time favourite songs (the title track), for little more then half an hour, Contempt brutally confront metallic hardcore, questioning the style's integrity, reminding it of its initial intent, of its initial essence and feeling, - Contempt - One Justice - Contempt - When Darkness Falls Contempt - Casualty Of War - Contempt - Burn

It's such a shame they couldn't have continued this.

Now this badboy is still in print, there are copies here here,

Monday, March 19, 2007

From The Depths...

How does the man do it? Seriously, Justin K Broadrick is a goddamn machine. As if conceiving some of the most godly music in his primary musical vehicle, Godflesh, wasn't enough, he has also worked in and instigated equally powerful and challenging music in a series of side projects. One of the best being the mysterious but totally captivating, God, a nine man ensemble that featured Kevin Martin (Techno Animal, Pathological Records), John Zorn (Mr Bungle, Naked City), and not one, not two but three bassists (one being a double bass). The result was not simply a record, it was a musical world, drenched in the horrors of urban decay, urban struggle and urban depression.

I feel that words cannot really encompass the immensity of this band, you have to hear it for yourselves, - God - Fucked - God - Lord I'm On My Way

In terms of the band's background, they debuted in 1990 with a 12 inch entitled 'Breach Birth,' then followed that up with 'Loco,' on Martin's label, but for this record, they somehow secured a deal with Virgin records, I wonder if Richard Branson was even aware of this investment?? And if anyone has any details, or stories related to this band, please, please, let me know!!! The band would go onto release one more hellish full length 'The Anatomy Of Addiction,' in 1994, and again, it was another cold, alien blast of primal human emotions that stupefied as much as it intrigued.

Unfortunately, as this record has become horribly out of print, it has also attached seriously inflated prices on the likes of and the marketplace at, however I do recommend this record, so keep your eyes peeled on those outlets for a cheaper copy to come along, or perhaps a better move would be to root among the bargain bins in your local record stores...???

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Striking Back With The New School Fury...

In theory, a compilation is an excellent concept but often in execution they fall short due to three salient factors. The first being that the tracks featured are usually (but admittedly not always) to be found on another release by the artist. Secondly, if there is a track on there that you haven’t already heard, chances are its so half baked that only the most fanatical of fans will look to own it. The final, and surely most condemning factor that plagues the compilation is consistency, if there are say, 16 to 20 tracks, how many of those are really going to be good, but more so, how many of those 16 to 20 artists are you actually going to like? Maybe 50%, and that’s if your lucky.

Now believe it or not, through the years, there have been some good compilations, such as the first two East Coast Assault collections, the Animal Truth compilation (which is so out of print, if anyone has a copy they are willing to part with, hit me up) and one known as ‘The Document,’ which emerged from Japan a few years ago. All of these (and many others) were eclipsed when this disc, fittingly titled ‘The Resurrection,’ was bought forth in 2005 and has stood as one of the best played, burned and enjoyed discs in my collection, that shows not only how good it is, but how addictive it can be.

Giving 9 bands two cuts each helps with the disc’s continuity, and even though the running time clocks in at just over 75 minutes, the quality never lets up and most importantly, the majority of the material here is exclusive to this compilation ( post release, some of the songs have gone to be featured on band’s other releases, the only exceptions though are God’s Heritage, Shiver and Canopus, however the latter 2 put out rougher versions, not the crisp, clinical cuts found here).

As you have no doubt ascertained, there is a pattern emerging with the type of Japanese bands being featured here, once again, these bands are all from the notorious 168/178 area of Tokyo and all specialize (be it in different areas) in recreating the new school sounds of mid to late 90s hardcore from both Europe and the States but as mentioned in previous posts, these bands take these foundations, modernize them and then build upon them. Take the opening cut from The Ten Commandments, their demo was total Sentence/From The Dying Sky worship and admittedly, tones of those bands linger in their newer material, but in this incarnation the band are far more bestial, far more intense and far more metal. The Ten Commandments cites Malevolent Creation as an influence and that is apparent here as their two tracks have strong ties to the first 3 MC releases (interesting to note that the band was once called Eve Of The Apocalypse).

Following that opening blitzkrieg comes The Fortress, who, despite the reference to a certain vegan band from Syracuse don’t entirely sound like them. On the contrary, this is how Earth Crisis should have sounded when they recorded Slither instead of the nu-metal abomination it turned out to be. Moving back into a more metal direction is the considerably vehement Extinguish The Fire, who have progressed considerably from their primitive beginnings where they sounded like a very slowed down Sentence. Now they are an intricate maelstrom of new school metallic fury, and trust, this shit rips live.

The final two tracks I have enclosed here from Shiver and Blood Calls We Die, the former is one of the more well known Japanese bands sounding like a more threatening, angrier version of Abnegation. Strangely, Blood Calls We Die sound more like their Godfather’s Statecraft here (particularly from their ‘Until The Darkness Is Gone,’ MCD) but I do hear some other slight influences buzzing underneath, particularly that of the Italian Vegan overlords xAbsencex.

So see what you think, - The Ten Commandments - Seven Cardinal Sins - The Fortress - Burn It All - Extinguish The Fire - Absolutely Nobody Freedom - Shiver - The Compassion - Blood Calls We Die - Reveal The Truth

What I decided to do with this one was to break it into 2 posts, so the second part of the Resurrection will published early next week, giving you enough time to fully digest what is on offer here.

As far as I know this one is still readily available, so hit up for a copy.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Turning Back East...

Coming from the same scene as Statecraft, Birthplace are one of the older bands from the 168/178 area of Tokyo. Like the aforementioned scene Godfathers, the latter has progressed incredibly from their primitive beginnings. Early Birthplace was much like the formative years of a child, they had energy, bundles of it in fact and they had a sense of direction but one that was fraught with distraction. This often lead to them losing their composition and form in their early material, thus making the impact less significant and their music not as strong as it should have been. However, through patience, perseverance and countless shows and practices they have blossomed into one of the finer and certainly more elegant Japanese bands on this, their first proper full length 'Ameliorate.'

The catalyst of this manifestation of elegance has been through Birthplace's masterful command of melody within their pieces. Whereas the majority of the 168/178 bands tend to not overly indulge with melody, (Endzweck being the one other exception together with Birthplace), this command that Birthplace possess stands as one of their most distinctive qualities. Their approach echoes (but doesn't mirror directly) that of Shai Hulud, a band that most will know, are exceptional in their utilization of melodic elements in that they create an entire sound where melody is rooted within. Likewise Birthplace are able to, like Hulud, immerse their melodies so that they are not an external connection to the music but are wholly integrated to become a key component of the musical flow. Another asset to Birthplace is their vocalist, Knight. His powerful bellow is somehow able to naturally fit into whatever stage the music moves to, be it a moment of calm introspection or brute force, never once sounding unnatural or forced, - Birthplace - From The Neverending - Birthplace - Not Wither - Birthplace - Swell the Bliss - Birthplace - On Oath

Seeing Birthplace last year at the Bloodaxe fest in Tokyo was incredible, their songs were already extremely vibrant on CD, but live it was an inferno and the small room convulsed with excitement throughout their way too brief set

Tracking down a copy of this record is not only worth it but shouldn't be overtly taxing, try the band's site here - or hit up and ask xHirox if he has any copies or can get you one.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Things Take A Turn...

Well, I'm really honoured and extremely delighted to announce that I will be joining the ranks of the extremly awesome, look out for my first reviews in the next weeks, I cannot wait, this will not be having an impact on No Need To Belong, it will be still updated on a regular basis.

Sworn To The Black

Pulling a late one here, I try not to work on this on weekends but as I am now facing a back log of posts which are fast piling up, I thought I'd get this treat out before resuming the regular schedule tomorrow.

This release typifies my current mood, its groggy, groaning, miserable and very edgy, you'd think by now, nearly being 24, I'd be able to withstand at least one really late night a week, but no, my body still seems to be unable to give me the luxury of a lay in to recuperate and enjoy my Sunday in a comfortable, ma la vita va cosi...

Now as stressed in the previous black metal post on Ohtar, I adore the suicidal, depressive black metal that took root through Burzum's first 4 records, now whilst also having a great affection for the more merciless, ripping black metal out there, the artists that create this noise is what really affects me, what really connects with me. Now Wigrid's debut album reared its ugly head back around 2002/2003 on the awesome, my gut tells me it came out in 2002, but it took me a long time to get my hands on a copy. It was worth the wait, like its kindred spirits coming out at the time, i.e. Xasthur, Leviathan et al, Hoffnungstod was bleak, dirgey and horribly misanthropic. The German lyrics and tongue add to the morbid feeling of the record I can only speculate what Ulfhednir was wretchedly cursing but as German is one of the heavier (if not the heaviest) European language, I can imagine that his lyrics were filled, in fact, crammed with utterly hateful annunciations of mankind.

So if you can speak German, maybe you could validate my assumption here, otherwise, simply feel the darkness, - Wigrid - Die Entstehung - Wigrid - Schreie Der Verzweiflung

I find this record a good accompaniment for reading, not as background music but to enhance my concentration and immersion within the material, (its helping me overcome the novels of Proust, a truly toiling (but worthy) effort that require you integrate yourself into Proust's world so that you can comprehend it but also so you don't switch off from it because it is detailed).

Now this record is readily available from the label, and is still listing it here,

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Blast From The North

Canvas were a pretty crazy band. Whether it was their demographic lodging that was responsible for this (they were from Leeds you know...) or they were just a little maladjusted, little can explain the outright insanity of their releases. This CD was a collection of sorts, compiling early EPS that were recorded by the erratic Dave Chang, but as Andrew mentioned in his Decimate post on his blog (, check that shit people), when that guy got his production job on the spot, it was crushing, just as it is here.

Despite this, and the quality of the material here, this has to be one of the most frustrating CDs that I have in my collection. Of the 10 tracks listed on the CD, 3 are noisy, and in my view, superfluous skits, that add absolutely nothing to the flow of the material, there are just there. Furthermore, another track is a slight remix of the first track featured here, so in the end, there are only 6 actual tracks to enjoy here and that's no way near enough. The quality of the material then heightens the sense of travesty and annoyance as these tracks are complete monsters, crammed to the rim with slamming, not to mention razor sharp riffs, which have a glorious crunch that is potently bought forth through the recording. Then there's the vocalist, maronna santa, if that guy is even able to put together a sentence today I'd be surprised, the damage he must have done to his vocal chords, - Canvas - Unworthy Of Perfection - Canvas - Last Prayer For Judas - Canvas - Unworthy Version 6.66

For some reason, I never saw Canvas. I knew they were around but I only heard about them upon the follow up full length Lost In Rock's release. That record saw Canvas metamorphosis into something totally different to the band here, exploring some very peculiar tangents and writing songs that were again, demented. Some of the nastiness from their early incarnation remained but was restricted and reduced in presence, replaced by longer more elaborate songs. Although I appreciated the bravery Canvas had to make Lost In Rock, even today, six years since I bought the two records together, I still can't decide whether I actually like that CD, especially when measured up to this.

Now this is readily available, and for stupid prices (1 cent), as is Lost In Rock, so if you like it, get that shit in your collection,

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Tracing the roots...

Tracking the mutation of a record label is an interesting endeavor, it can often give one a map or perhaps a better word is a snapshot of a musical environment from a given time. For example Equal Vision was one of the best hardcore labels, and I feel there is no need to do a laundry list of the various luminaries that graced their roster during the 90s and early 2000s. The fact that Equal Vision is now so far removed from hardcore stimulates two hypothesis in my mind. Either they felt that the scene and the bands were on the verge of becoming stagnant and decided to jump ship before the rot set in too thickly, hence their shift in focus to indie/experimental/alt bands. Or they felt that hardcore wasn't generating enough capital and felt that it was time to change their portfolio to save the label.

Perhaps its a little of both or perhaps I'm completely off the mark but one thing I will say in Equal Vision's defence is that they have always looked to sign bands that were distinctive and doing something a little different, and not just sign any old shite (not that I like all of their recent signings). Secondly, they have maintained their excellent aesthetic values with packaging (which really begin to evolve in the late 90s with seminal examples by Converge and Bane). Anyway, as per usual, I'm digressing here, my point here is that labels (like bands) change, and whilst this observation isn't the most astute, what I find interesting is the level of change that a label undergoes. To contextualize my Equal Vision example, lets take a label such as Relapse. Now, Relapse have focused on metal of the extreme nature since its inception, and whilst they have been broadening their palette in recent years, they do tend to stick to music that they know, that they are comfortable with and that is inherently metal but most importantly is inherently Relapse. Whereas Equal Vision have all but abandoned the music that they began with (although I realize that they have recently acquired Modern Life Is War).

This brings me to a label that I have been fascinated by in its shift of musical portfolio, Eulogy, who have gone from releasing New School/Emotional Metallic Hardcore and Emo to focusing purely on tough, moshy bands such as Shattered Realm, Hoods, Bury Your Dead etc, etc, etc!
I have been monitoring Eulogy's activity since around 2000 and became infatuated with the label through the releases by Red Roses For A Blue Lady and then a little later with Unearth and This Day Forward. Whilst in Belgium in 2002, someone (I cannot for the life of me remember who) told me about Upheaval, that I had to hear them and especially the first MCD, released guessed it, Eulogy.

Perhaps not as heralded as some of the other vegan straight edge bands of the time (particularly Day Of Suffering and Morning Again), Upheaval do deserve recognition and credit for the style of music they were playing. They had a really strong grasp and blended well the new school hardcore with tints and hints of black and death metal, so see what you think, - Upheaval - Forced Into Extinction - Upheaval - Suffering Of The Masses - Upheaval - The Descending Path - Upheaval - Blood Ritual - Upheaval - Abhorrent Traditions

They would become even more metal on the following full length (which was also brilliant), Testimony To The Atrocities on the very metal, Willowtip.

Both of the Upheaval releases are long out of print, so it pains me to once again offer as your first source for looking, I searched around the main distros but came became empty handed I'm afraid, hence why I have posted the whole MCD up here, so enjoy!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Scroll Down cuz

All mp3s from the first 2 posts are back now, so get downloadin and leavin feedback for Above All and Loyal To The Grave ;)

The Search For Sleep

Some time ago I developed the tendency that unless I put music on before going to sleep, I will lay awake half the night trying real hard to do so. Of course there have been times when I have attempted to do so, and even when my fatigue was so potent that my body just ached to sleep, I simply couldn't, not without music. Strange, but also amusing how we develop these needs, these dependencies and habits. However, to make the quandary even more of an ordeal, I find that I can only fall asleep to certain types of music. If its of the hardcore or metal genealogy, forget it, sleep will be nigh on possible to achieve, it has to be something gentler, more soothing, enter Jessica Bailiff.

Again, another Kranky gem, this gorgeous siren released a pair of ethereal records in 98 and 99, these being 'Even In Silence,' and the one featured here, 'Hour Of The Trace.' To me these have remained her finest work, although I have thoroughly enjoyed her last 2 records, and her collaborative project Clear Horizon with Dave Pearce (of the totally brilliant Flying Saucer Attack) from 2003. Still, those first 2 records, have endeared me the most through the years and have often been a popular choice when deciding what record is needed to lull me into slumber.

Musically, Bailiff occupied a fine line between gentle acoustic driven material and lush, shoe gazing drifts ala My Bloody Valentine and other early 90s luminaries such as Ride, Slowdive et al. 'Toska,' is one of her most beautiful songs that she has ever written, its glacial tones cradle and carry her voice which is buried amid minimal strumming. The spirit of My Bloody Valentine duly possesses the bones of 'After Hours,' a drugged out mantra that stealthily slides throughout its duration whilst Bailiff's voice again lingers in the ether of the track's drones. The final track I have chosen here, 'Amnesia,' is a stumbling search through the fabrics of time itself, Bailiff sounds encased inside the ghostly guitar melodies as if she herself is looking to recover her memory.

Now you decide whether my descriptions resemble the music, - Jessica Bailiff - Toska - Jessica Bailiff - After Hours - Jessica Bailiff - Amnesia

All of Bailiff's records (and the Clear Horizon record, which if you like this, then I recommend) are readily available (and through paypal) here,, and there are some used copies here,

Her last record 'Feels Like Home,' came out last year, four years after the self titled, hopefully she will bring forth more ghostly tales soon.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Slowly but surely

It's all coming together now, I'd just like to thank those who have posted thus far, its greatly appreciated and interesting to hear your thoughts! Keep em coming and don't hold back, I want to hear all your views ;)

Got some good stuff uploaded for this week, so hold tight, and I am still toying with this blogger layout, so that will be changing too!!!

I forgot to say this earlier, my first two posts are missing some tunes, so these will be going back up either tonight or first thing tomorrow!

The Sickness Will End

This has been one of the most elusive records (another one right?) that I have sought in recent times. Although the search was not as lengthy as that for the Caliban EP (or as costly) I finally managed to acquire but I finally managed to acquire a copy and am delighted to post it and more importantly, share it here. When the package containing the CD arrived I was consumed with excitement (lucky me, the package also featured other rarities such as the first Soulstice 7 inch, the Prevail 7 inch and the first Aftershock CD ahhhhhhhhh). So after gleefully ripping through the parcel I was bound to be confronted with that queasy, unwelcome feeling in the stomach known as disappointment.

But why? Especially as the CD hadn't even been played yet.

Firstly it was in a cardboard sleeve, now I cannot stress this enough but I detest, actually, I loathe cardboard sleeves. Secondly, upon scanning the track list I immediately noted that two of the songs I'd already heard (these being from the decidedly more metallic and heavier full length 'Deeper Than Blood' which followed). Upon regaining my composure from these unexpected (read unwanted) surprises, I deemed it best to play it, to see if it would be ending up on eBay at the moment.

From the first riff, this thought vanished and a smile returned to my face, thinking 'why did I question that the music would be anticlimactic?', and thus, since its day of arrival, 'The Sickness Must End,' has been glued to my CD player, itunes etc. This EP was typical of the mid 90s xLifesentencex output, i.e. heavy handed hardcore, with a healthy presence of hefty metallic crunch and song writing that was utterly infectious and became lodged within the grey matter instantly.

So, see what you think, -xClearx - Acetone - xClearx - Fuel - xClearx - Falling Into Ashes - xClearx - Lust - xClearx - Fire Walk With Me

Sadly I know very little of this band and what became of them, I did hear that they recently played a reunion show this year but whether they will reform is unknown. What I do know is that the aforementioned full length that preceded this EP was released on Stillborn records. The two songs here present on that release were 'Falling Into Ashes,' and 'Fire Walk With Me.' Again as mentioned above 'Deeper Than Blood,' was far heavier, strapped with far more vicious riffs and vocals and was overall injected with an unhealthy metallic dosage thus pushing it quite far away from the foundations laid down here.

However, like this EP, 'Deeper Than Blood,' is very elusive and a chore to find, so unfortunately I have to resort to recommending that you watch, but if your in Europe, or if you don't mind paying a little for it (if your Stateside), then you can try this

But I warn you, this Belgian distro sometimes lists items that they don't have, or that they sell before fulfilling your order, 80% of the time they are reliable and are very friendly but seeing as its a two man operation, I can see how an order can get neglected, so perhaps it would be best to contact them in advance before putting that order in.

The only other alternative I can offer in finding the full length or the EP is to track down Dan Gump, the owner of xLifesentencex, the problem is that the label site has been down for some time, so maybe you could stalk him out on myspace (if your really that desperate...).