Sunday, June 6, 2010


It has been far too long since I've posted some of these up. But to be completely honest, new stuff that I have been interested in writing about has been somewhat few and far between and primarily procured by mine own hand rather than some publicist sending to me. Nevertheless, here's what keeps me up this Sunday night/Monday morning, and that you can freshen your coffee to. And seeing as I am such a great writer (cough) try and keep score of how many times I use the term 'bad ass'. No thesaurus for this guy, no way.

108, “18.61”
This may or may not be the last thing 108 records (though we’ve heard that one before... amirite?), so I wanted to see where it was all going, and how well it held up to... well, essentially everything else they’ve ever done. Upon my first listen I was amazed at how quickly it flew by. Is this an EP? Did nine songs really just happen? Yes they did. A few more listens separated things a bit more for me, and then getting into the lyrical meat formally sealed it for me, proving this to easily be one of the better records 108 has done. I like that it’s a little short. “A New Beat...” was a great full length, but after a year of non-stop listens I felt like there were almost too many songs and a couple of them felt like filler. This is just right. Faithful fans will recognize the killer driving chops that Vic writes, mixed nicely with the chunky, feedback encrusted bass sloughing Triv contributes. Additionally, I may have to fact check this, but much of the lyrical fare seems to have been penned by vocalist Rob Fish, as opposed to the usual share that Vic DiCara adds. It’s just the way it is written and the subject matter that seems different. I’m not sure if I like it better or not, though I think I prefer the way that Vic writes lyrics. This is pretty bad-ass though, especially on “Relentless Masters”, the chunky riff-dominated track that is my personal favorite on this. Closer, “Early Funeral” is the odd track out, but it shouldn’t come as a total surprise to 108 fans. An entirely acoustic song with sung vocals is a great ode to death and dying, and a cool way to close things out. If this ends up being the band’s final release (they have alluded to continuing on in a different fashion) I’ll be totally satisfied.. well, except desperately wanting to see these songs played live and freaking the fuck out to them. (Deathwish Inc)

AUSTERITY PROGRAM, THE, “Backsliders and Apostles Will Burn” CDEP
Big Black worship, no other way around it. Two dudes, a lot of analog equipment, and a drum machine that is definitely NOT trying to disguise itself as real drums. Angular riffs, stop/start blasts of wired noise, and slurred vocals are the bulk of these four new tracks from one of NYC’s more obscure outfits. I feel as if the idea here is a good one, but it doesn’t totally deliver. There’s something lacking (and no, it’s not a living, breathing person behind a drum kit) that I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s more in the actual songs and how they’re lacking some excitement of some sort. I suppose I’m referring to their other releases, in which the songs were a bit shorter overall, a little more direct. Each of these songs average near the five minute mark and it feels a bit too long to keep my attention up for the sort of thing they’re doing. Of course, if you’re an Albini fanatic, and enjoy examining music under a fine lens to dissect all the nuts and bolts of gear and studio nerdery, you will more than likely enjoy what The Austerity Program has cooked up in their lab (AKA, their backyard shed). (Hydrahead)

BLACK BREATH, “Heavy Breathing”
I do not claim to be a true metalhead by any measure, but damn if this isn’t one hell of an awesome metal record. From what I can tell, Black Breath are riding a hype wave and I say good for them as I feel they are deserving of the excitement surrounding them. What I find almost amusing is that the two guitarists here both come from youth crew-ish type bands and are now in this full-on metal mode and not half-assing it (as many HC dudes seem to do when they make attempts at playing metal). Getting that same deep and dirty tone I’ve heard (most recently) on Trap Them records... and what a great bad-ass sound it is... there is something both heavy as shit and really catchy all at once. The majority of this record lies somewhere between the thrashing speed of East Bay metal, like old Exodus, and the heavy gallop of Entombed’s mastery of the riff. My favorite tracks on this full length are the lightning fast “Escape From Death”, followed by the chuggy fist-swinger, “I Am Beyond” and it’s much-too-long (albeit necessary just to prove how bad ass it is) extended ending. It almost brings to mind the closing riff of Damnation AD’s “The Hangman”. Yes indeed, if you are like me and only dabble in heavy metal, this is a great record that basically anyone who is a fan of any sort of fast and heavy music can surely appreciate. As Andy Bernard would say, “(they) nailed it”. (Southern Lord)

The set up for this new Syracuse band is vocalist, drummer, and dude who plays guitar through guitar and bass cabs. It’s really loud, sludgy, slow, and heavy and I can get down with this sound. If it makes any difference their guitarist also plays in Architect and you can hear those super dense, grooving bottom-heavy riffs, which I like. Yet there is also an element of that Crowbar sludginess and screeching feedback made lovable by Eyehategod, so take that as you will. Lyrically, one song called “Don’t Feed the Animals” about not giving bums change and another called “Over the Line”, regarding those abusing government hand outs. Yes, Colin hates bums. In all seriousness, the hate isn’t from some right wing conservative tightwad angle, but more of a Travis Bickle/Walter Kovacs- ‘society will pay’ kind of vibe. Yup. So, as Jeffrey Lebowski would say- the other Jeffrey Lebowski- ‘get a job, sir!’ (

HARVEY MILK, “A Small Turn Of Human Kindness”

I’ll never quite understand what made this band the cool hipster hype band to like because they’re really a hard pill to swallow. I remember first hearing them several years back when the now slumbering Escape Artist Records re-issued one of their records and I thought I had it playing at the wrong speed seeing as how low and slurred the vocals were. Of course, this would have been impossible since it was a CD. So, yeah, I remembered pretty much hating it. A few years later, and a bit more mature, I can appreciate this band laying down a sweet riff, or throwing some really off-kilter parts to their songs, but I still can’t get over those vocals. It’s literally like listening to a record meant for 45 on 33. So on this, their newest full length, it appears the Athens, GA sludge rockers are going for a general theme here. Just about every song flows into the next one without a pause, and takes that ultra slow and mean approach to things. They get a really great, truly sinister bass sound here, coupled with an almost bluesy feel (with some wonderful organ accompaniment, particularly on the how track 4, “I Alone Got Up and Left” ) and the whole affair feels really, really depressing. If you take the vocals out of it it really reminds me of NYC doom-mavens Bloody Panda, but I suppose that is sort of moot reference point. Either way, for me the jury is out on my feelings on this. I can appreciate how well it is crafted, but this isn’t something I want to just break out and hang with very often. (Hydrahead)

LIGHTEN UP, “Absolutely Not”
Not too shabby- a quick jolt through fast and fun hardcore that bears a strong resemblance to earlier Paint It Black stuff, what with some of the unexpected twists and turns, stops and starts it presents within these dozen stingers. I can only imagine their shows being nothing but fun. And if they’re not, and these are boring dudes, well then, nertz to them. I’ll just keep imagining the fun side if I may, thanks. (Jump Start Records / Ass Card Records)

Without question, two of the Central New York areas most engaging bands share seven inches of wax and give you, the listener, something you need, whether you know it yet or not. Rochester’s Like Wolves lay down two songs that are easily the best stuff they’ve written to date. The band consistently improves upon their songwriting skills with each release, focusing on cohesive songs that still feel really loose and wild, but honing in on those catchy parts. I know I’ve said it before, but Black Cross worship tenfold and I don’t mind that a bit. “New Circles” is my new favorite song of theirs and I like the quick nod to At the Drive-In right at the beginning.
Oak and Bone flesh out the B-side with two songs that the faithful will recognize from their live sets as of late. “Dirt” is a straight crusher, immediately starting off with a mean-ass riff that just gets meaner as the song goes on. “Acid Coffin” is the flip side to that, showing the more jamming, psychedelic persona of the group- guitar effects fucking with your sense of balance throughout before settling on a driving and catchy riff. The only downside to their side is a recording that does no justice to how bad-ass these songs are. The vocals, while strong, are way too high in the mix and everything else feels buried and compressed. It’s just not the recording these dudes need. But you’ll still get the idea of what’s happening and make it all the more impressive when you finally see them live. (Barbarossa Records)

SNACK TRUCK, “Spacial Findings 1-7”

I’m a bit conflicted by this record. From the start it gets carried away into Hella-style ridiculous over doing it for the sake of over doing it and I was pretty turned off. But then they got a bit more restrained for most of the other songs and add some really nice-sounding synth and keys to these all-instrumental songs. Thankfully, this is a band that makes good use of keyboard to add a lot of dynamics and a refreshing sound to a subgenre that can get pretty tired pretty quick. Noodley instrumental bands are rarely my thing for more than one song, so there were many instances on this recording where I was happy to see a band doing something different, whether it was the aforementioned nice use use of keys, or focusing on a good riff to carry a song. The occasional ventures into overly-complicated territory proved to be considerably less than what I had initially assumed they would be, so that was nice. Though one final, quick gripe- is there really ever any point in the last 6 minutes or so of a bands record to be some experimental noise and feedback remix that sounds like a broken computer game? Is this really ever necessary? I didn’t think so. Otherwise, a nice little change of pace from my usual listening selections. (Rorschach Records)


There are bands that go for a particular sound, but try to pretend that they’re something else when it’s as plain as day as to who they are aping and that kind of annoys me. I thought early on that locals White Guilt might have fallen into that category. But with a little time and a few new songs I really don’t give a shit what they think they’re doing, or not doing, because regardless of what sort of influences fall into their songwriting this just kills. More or less, I’m just hearing all out rage and chaotic skull-bashing in these new songs. So I’m pretty much done wondering what sort of band they may want to be and am just going with my initial reaction to this, which is pleasantly surprised. Vocals with insane reverb/delay on every song speak of thinning out the human race, amongst other things, and most of the songs are tied together through feedback. A slow and repetitive bassline opens “Human Flood II”, and slowly builds into a frenzied chugging before bursting forth with harsh noise, and the repeated chorus of “he never wanted us” over and over. It’s sort of the odd song out here, as the rest of these five songs are pretty damn fast overall, but it’s my favorite. In fact, the whole tape is good so if you enjoy really messy, fast, and raging hardcore with a bit of a weird side (-ahem- the vocals) I’d suggest giving this a try. (Drugged Conscience)