Wednesday, February 25, 2009


This is a nice variety this time around, as well as some records I've been interested in hearing. Punk music comes in all shapes and sizes because it's not quite how you're playing (or in one case, writing), it's how you're going about it and what you're feeling. So read some punk reviews.

BURIED INSIDE, “Spoils Of Failure”

This has always been a band that requires patience. Every song has always been like one giant buildup, or some ongoing climax lasting the entire song (which makes one wonder if it can be called a climax). Some people really dig that. I, for one, can’t always hang with it. Like other records in the band’s catalog most of their songs flow directly from one to the next, with a respite coming with track three... except for that song being almost 12 minutes long. Immediately some will think there is Neurosis or Isis worship going on with the long-winded and massive heaviness going on, but that’s not really the case. Sure, there may be some influence of that in Buried Inside’s music, but not enough to be anything more than an inspiration. Meanwhile the band chugs on doing their own thing. I know the press for this record is stating that these guys aren’t treading the same ground they have in the past, but I’m actually hearing a lot of that. So if you were a big fan of “Chronoclast”, or their other output you’ll love this. I, for one, am sort of bored by it. (Relapse,

Who says real hardcore and real metal can’t co-exist side by side on one slab of wax? Of course, the genres have long cross-pollinated, but it’s always strains of the two that pair up, or get mixed together until you can’t really tell what’s what anymore. Both Death Is Easy and Metalian are about as transparent in their endeavors as a priest in a porno shop. Death Is Easy is 80’s styled hardcore played fast and to the point, a bit in the vein of bands like Black S.S. The guitars sound a little thin and tinny on this recording, but I get the feeling they don’t really care what I think. Metalian is on the flipside with one song and I’m pretty sure they’re just Iron Maiden in disguise, or taking a break from their day gig to fuck around with power metal where they’re not trying as hard. It’s not to say Metalian don’t sound mighty, it’s just that you can’t really get any more mighty than Iron Maiden. Either way, thanks for making the review easy for me! (Work N Stiff Records,

It’s funny that a band should share the same name as what the ladies call me! *Ahem*, returning to reality, Hex Machine are a long-running project out of Virginia that has had it’s share of members come and go, yet press on with noise rock filth of the highest caliber. I know right now there’s a small current of bands that are championing the AmRep sound, and I’m happy about that. Though I think Hex Machine might win the title for hitting it square between the eyes, what with it’s early 90’s feedback-laden, fuzzy recording. The early Today Is the Day screeches and howls, seething vocals and tortured rhythms are most noticeable. The pounding fuzz of old Hammerhead records beat to shit acting as a conduit for Hex machine’s playing, and their daily worship at the alter of Halo Of Flies... it’s all there. They eat Guzzard for breakfast and shit out The Cows at the end of the day. And for all that I applaud them. It’s a bitter, pissed off listen that hurts in a good way. Somewhere Tom Hazelmeyer is shooting off a rifle in their honor. (Minimum Underdrive,

HOW WE ARE, “To Teach One Hundred and One”
Local pride is a big thing around these parts. Everyone has their own scene, and scene pride for the town they’re in. Myself and many others around here have a lot of Syracuse pride (AKA ‘315 pride’, AKA ‘Assault City’, etc). But there’s something special about the Upstate, NY area in that we are close to a few other cities that have well-established scenes like Buffalo, Rochester, and Albany. There is a degree of unity between all these towns, particularly Syracuse and Rochester. And that’s where a band like How We Are really defined local pride and extended outwards to other cities as well in the surrounding area. They were a Rochester hardcore band first and foremost, but they may as well have been from here because those amongst their ranks spent enough time in my town to call it a second home. How We Are played here often for a few years before they split up in 2007. Their last show probably had just as many Syracuse folks in attendance as Rochester folks. What they didn’t get around to before they split up though was getting their one full length record out on vinyl. With numerous delays and pressing issues it finally has seen the light of day with a new mix (which was definitely a good thing as I thought the mix on the CD was a little thin) and an unreleased song tacked on at the end. How We Are were truly pushing the fast modern hardcore sound to new level because they played so damn tight. Their music was pretty technical for the company they kept, and I don’t mean in a metal sort of way. It was very inventive (particularly with drums and guitar leads) while still keeping it fast and sing-along worthy, and many a hardcore band could take a cue from how these dudes played together. The last song they recorded, “We Are Infinite” is probably the best example of this feat and worth the price of admission alone. They were easily one of the most fun and energetic bands to see at the time and listening to this record might give you a sense of that, but could never complete the whole picture. This comes with a big ass booklet with tons of photos, though it would be nice to have a few linear notes from the members as well. (Start Winning, Stop Whining Records/ Secret Jams,

“MAKE A ZINE!”, by Bill Brent and Joe Biel
Much of this book was originally published as a series of zines... about making zines no less... around 10 years ago. It’s been given a spit shine and polish, and bound together as a book released by Microcosm, the current reigning kings and queens of making and distributing zines. I feel like their how-to repertoire is getting a little redundant these days, seeing as how they’ve already released “Making Stuff and Doing Things” (which had zine making content inside) and “Stolen Sharpie Revolution”, another DIY how to guide with plenty of zine tips, and now this.. Though being a zine nerd myself I see the differences and took stock from this guide as well for the nuts and bolts of not only creating a zine, but many outside factors as well like getting contributors, getting distribution, copying schematics, computer programs, postage, sales, promotions, and typography. These are often secondary things that most aspiring zinesters don’t really think of offhand and that I know I personally just had to pick up along the way (which I feel is a good way to learn to so you can see the mistakes you make and learn from them). For the hardcore DIY ‘til death type this may rub them the wrong way a bit since this book gives a lot of space to a more professional (i.e.- organized) sort of approach to getting your publication out. Still, I feel there is something in here for everyone. The contacts in the back are an excellent addition, though who knows how long they will be relevant. My opinion overall is that if you have any of the other titles microcosm has released regarding DIY craftiness/zine-making you should be fine with those. But if you’re rather obsessive, and particularly if you want to know a bit more about some of the peripheral aspects of zine-making, this would be a pretty good guide to check out. (Microcosm,

MOUTHBREATHER, “Thank You For Your Patience”
I’m wondering if the title of this record alludes to the fact that this was recorded over a year and a half ago and has just recently seen the light of day? I’m not sure how many people were salivating for the release of this, though I’ll admit my intrigue at a band who could have possibly taken their name from a Jesus Lizard song. I actually got to see this band before hearing them on record and knowing that they sought out the engineering skills of Chris Owen’s I’d say it’s very fitting as the Lords headsman puts his stamp on here in the form of hard-thumping drums and larger than life bass rumble, common in his recording work. This is definitely one of the big pluses for Mouthbreather, whose approach falls somewhere between post- hardcore, a bit of Gainesville punk, and straight up hard rock. Each song has it’s catchy leads, huge rhythm, and shouted vocals with regular sing-alongs. On the negative side though it seems like every song is very much the same (with the exception of “When A Chemist Dies, Barium”s intro)- same tempo, same shouts, catchy riff, on to the next. It’s like one kick ass song repeated over and over and I wish there was a bit more variety going on because it gets a bit dry after awhile. I think perhaps a little diversity in the vocals and song tempos might give future material a more lasting attention span. One other little concern- there are clearly songs on here that are intended to flow one into the next, yet have pauses between them. A pressing plant issue perhaps? A minor annoyance at worst. Good band, just needs a little more variety. (Kiss Of Death Records,

The thing with bands like this is that I want to like the idea of what they’re doing and the fact that they bring about a sound that is genuine hardcore at it’s roots. But the fact that I’ve heard so very many bands that do quite the exact same thing really makes it something I can’t differentiate from any other band of this ilk. Sure, what they do is all well and good- fast angsty hardcore with some mid-80’s DC style at it’s base. Who can argue with that being bad? I certainly can’t. But do I find it interesting insofar as something original being done? Not in the least bit. I have a ton of Dischord stuff and Dag Nasty is a good listen, and they’ve been done. I don’t need more of the same ya know? Either way, three different sessions make up this CD: a demo, a couple 7”s, and some unreleased stuff and you can hear the differences. Everything was recorded between 2005 and 2007. (Youngblood Records,

SCALE THE SUMMIT, “Carving Desert Canyons”
I’m not gonna lie. I had preconceived notions about this band. I’d seen their name pop up here and there, and knew they were some kind of metal band, and they were signed to Prosthetic Records. There’s really no logic behind it, I thought they were some Johnny Come Lately shitty haircut halfcore mall metal bullshit. That’s just what came to me. Here’s the reality though- this is an instrumental metal band comprised of some serious music school dudes who probably hang out at Guitar Center clinics (either checking them out or teaching them) and make bread by teaching lessons to other music dorks when not on the road. A little Meshuggah, a lot of Steve Vai, way too much Dream Theater, and no vocals. That’s Scale the Summit. There’s progressive guitar and drum wizardry going on here that uses technical terms that I have no vocabulary for (sorry, I’m limited to ‘crushing’, ‘shredding’, ‘epic’, ‘massive’, ‘filthy’, and ‘heavy’), so if you’re a Berklee student that can’t get enough of Between the Buried and Me you will probably eat this up. Check it out and see if you can’t score some extra credit by doing so. (Prosthetic,

STINKING LIZAVETA, “Sacrifice and Bliss”
I’d say the biggest thing that has held back Stinking Lizavetta from garnering more success in all their years of hard touring and numerous records is that they have a terrible name. It’s just awful. Would you buy a Stinking Lizavetta? What is it? Is it some bad meal you come home to after a hard day’s work? “Honey, I’m home! What’s for dinner?” “Stinking lizavetta.” “Again?!” It also sounds like something that happens to cheese that’s been sitting out in the sun for a few humid days and even the neighborhood raccoons won’t get near it. Aside from a bad name, and having two members that look like leftovers from the paleolithic era and a drummer who looks like Danielle Rousseau after she lost her mind, they’re a pretty good band. If you’re into heavy King Crimson-inspired instrumental prog metal that treads ever-so-slightly into doomy sludge than you’ll probably thoroughly enjoying this new offering. The last thing I heard from this band was “Scream Of the Iron Iconoclast” and this follows similar territory. Yet while that record seemed to be more on the thick and sludgy side this one has a cleaner recording in my opinion. I wouldn’t say it works against the band, I think I just prefer this group emphasizing a more dirty tone to go with their righteous jamming. I finally caught them a few years ago open up for Clutch and they came pretty close to blowing them away. There was a ridiculous amount of energy and wild stage antics courtesy of guitarist Yanni Popadopoulos, while brother Alexi hammered away on an upright bass. For long time fans this is nothing new, just a solid addition to the already large canon of material they have. (At a Loss,

TOMBS, “Winter Hours”
“Gossamer” is probably the best song to start off a heavy record so far this year. I know it’s only February, and this may change by year’s end, but shit on me if it isn’t a hell of a great song. You got your pounding toms, raging guitars, some air raid-siren squall happening on guitar, and the rally cry of “Fear is the weapon!” shouted by the weathered and gravely voice of Mike Hill. This is a good start. Tombs have most certainly stepped up their game for this record. I feel like their self-titled debut had very good intentions, some great riffs, but they were still kind of figuring out their identity. Here the cacophony of blast beats, howling post-metal tsunamis of sound, and epic forays of heaviness combine to form a damn good first full length. Tombs successfully manages to meld a few styles seamlessly, as if they were meant to go together by taking numerous influences from Celtic Frost to My Bloody Valentine and making their own unique thing out of it all. Believe me, it sounds weird, but they do a great job of presenting it as a completely natural vibe. (Relapse,

Thursday, February 19, 2009


I'm just as excited as anyone else, even if it's nothing huge. Straight from the horses mouth, the return of Ed Gein:
"Ed Gein is not broken up. We are actually finally going to get together
and start playing again. It's been difficult to get all our work
schedules and lives to line up, and to be honest, after years of
constant touring and everything we weren't in a huge hurry. But it
seems we've got a game plan now and are going to see what happens. None
of us are sure exactly where this is going to go but I think I can say
with some certainty that you shouldn't hold your breath for any tours.
Maybe a few scattered shows...maybe a short tour in the very distant
future...but right now we all just want to write some tunes and enjoy
our home lives. We are planning to get together next week to practice
together for the first time in over a year and a half. Should be
interesting to see what happens....."

Also, the Oak and Bone dudes have some out of town shows this week in New York City and Pennsylvania. Go to their page to see what's up and go check them out because they are a force of nature to be reckoned with in the live setting.

As for their record... it's off to the presses! I'll be adding a pre-order soon on the webstore. I want to wait for the Night Owls stuff to be in the bag before I do so though so I can put both up for pre-order at the same time and do some special deal for you folks. So keep checking, it ought to be up soon.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


That's what they wanted, that's what they get. Don't be fooled though. This slab of vinyl will rock your face off. The four songs are on their final stages of mastering and then it's off to the press! A pre-order ought to be arising within the next two weeks and all the details will be filled in at that time.

Monday, February 2, 2009


A couple months ago I was interviewed by 20 Watt Magazine, which is a quarterly (I think) publication created by students at Syracuse University. It finally came out a couple weeks ago, and despite the piece stating it would appear on their site it never did. I mean, the physical edition is out, just not the digital. So I figured I'd post it up here for people to check out. Yes, if you ever wondered about where I operate, how weird I look in pictures, and what kinds of toys (few) and records (many) I have it's all here. So click on the pictures to see a larger version and read the article. Also, as a bit of an incentive I'll offer a contest: the first few pictures are from the magazines front, back, and inside covers. They're all pictures of my record collection. If you can correctly name any five of the records in these pictures (and these ones only!) I'll send a prize pack of goods to the first 2 people who answer correctly. Send your guesses/answers to:
A few things to keep in mind though:
1- I look like I have a lazy eye or something in that first pho
to. I don't usually look like this.
2- They got my website address wrong at the end. Great.

* UPDATE: GAMES OVER BUMS. Within about 3 hours I got two lucky winners. Congrats!