Sunday, October 30, 2016


Trick or treat fuckers!  Here's some treats!  OK, most of these reviews are not about anything spooky.  I guess you could relate some of the art in Bat Butt zine to things of a Halloween/horror nature, and perhaps the cold, synth-y spazzcore of this month's Bonus Round pick The VSS to some spooky sort of realm.  But otherwise there's just a lot of good stuff here, and not much horror business.  So get to it.  And for the love of Pete, you'd better be reading these in costume!
BAT BUTT zine #3
I had no clue that this was an international zine based out of South Africa!  I had simply assumed, by a couple of the artists featured that I enjoyed (and the primary reason for me purchasing this) that is was an American publication.  But this art zine features artists from all over the world.  And that’s really all it is-  just black and white art, with no central theme, by lots and lots of contributors.  Mine came with all these cool stickers and prints from some of the artists, so it was well worth it.  Of note is the centerfold and stickers by regional artist Ryan Besch/Your Cinema.  Also entertaining was Alice Edy’s four-page story “Heavy Things”, as are the numerous mutated contributions from Florian Snyman (including the cover).  For those into oddball art/Juxtapoz style, but on amore DIY level this is a pretty cool thing to check out.  (Bat Butt)

At this point I think the Relapse catalog is comprised of about 50% projects by both Bruce Lamont and Dave Witte.  Both these highly prolific individuals have so many bands between the both of them it was inevitable that they eventually teamed up to give birth to the super bizarre freak that is Brain Tentacles.  Rounded out by bassist extraordinaire Aaron Dallison (Keelhaul) this mega-beast sounds like the result of King Crimson getting schwifty with Morphine after huffing glue in a filthy alley.  Here you get a whole album of horns (mostly saxophone) melding with drums and bass guitar, and not much in the way of vocals conjuring up a lot of low-end proggy weirdness, yet with enough interesting parts and beefy riffs (can a saxophone create a ‘riff’?  In this case, yes) to keep even the simplest 3-chord purist bobbing their head.  It’s weird stuff, man.  But it’s really great to have some out-f-this-world variety amongst all the heaviness Relapse tends to be known for.  This is still real heavy, just in a super odd sort of way and I can roll with that.  (Relapse)

BURN, “From the Ashes” 7”
This is the first ‘new’ material that Burn has released since 2001, which was the last time that they did some reunion stuff.  Before originally disbanding in the early 90’s Burn had released a lone EP, but had a whole album’s worth of material that made it’s way onto a couple bootlegs that floated around throughout the last couple decades.  A few of those songs surfaced as proper recordings between “Last Great Sea” and “Cleanse”, material they released in their brief 2001 reunion.  On “From the Ashes” two more of those older songs get proper recordings and you can tell it’s from an older Burn era as they are faster, and more in line with the proto-post-hardcore that they helped invent.  The lone brand new song here, “Novelist (Drums Of War)” has a slower, groovier feel, mixed with some more complex riffs and passages indicative of “Cleanse”-era stuff, as well as guitarist/riff architect Gavin Van Vleck’s riffy/noisecore act Die 116 that he was a part of after Burn’s initial run.  The youngin’ in me loves the faster, raw hardcore songs.  The noisenik in me is intrigued by the chunky, off-kilter heaviness of how they write now.  The overall recording on this release leaves something to be desired as it sort of doesn’t feel finished, like they skipped something along the way between mixing and mastering.  But I digress.  It’s good to see a band like Burn not only writing some creative new music (even if it’s only one song thus far), but still incredibly engaging in the live setting.  Hopefully the LP they have planned can respectfully continue their legacy.  (Bridge 9)

When a band gets both Tim Singer (Deadguy, Kiss It Goodbye, No Escape) and the character from Panic At the Disco to do guest vocals on your record you know they draw from a pretty wide palette.  Such is the case on the new ETID record, a band that consistently knows how to absolutely wreck your life.  So many bands from the time they got their start completely fell off the map, disbanded, or just flat out suck shit now.  Many have rightfully/unfortunately carried the tag ‘metalcore’ like the flaccid, tired, shriveled penis that it has become.  Yet Every Time I Die has succeeded big time and still sort of held onto that tag.  They write some of the most engaging pile driving riffs, with some of the most well-written lyrics one can imagine on every record.  They do not disappoint.  They are consistently the sound of a raging party and a violent tornado smashed together all the time.  They are, by far, one of the best live bands you will ever see.  And on “Low Teens” they move the needle yet again in an evolved direction by throwing in some new things and a few curveballs.  Like opener “Fear and Trembling” with it’s slow and disjointed riff both hammering at your skull and confusing the listener all at once.  “It Remembers” is the most ‘rock’ song on the record, and while I feel it ventures a little too much into bro-rock country I can’t help but enjoy it (I used to feel the same about “Revival Mode” and now it’s one of my favorite songs of theirs).  “Awful Lot” plays with Torche-level tuning and city-leveling riffs (as well as one of my favorite vocal breaks on the record- “Acknowledge me you motherfuckers!”).  New drummer Daniel Davison lets loose basically any opportunity he gets, which really works well for this group regularly sounding like they’re headed off the rails anyway.  This is most noticeable on the ridiculously aggressive “Petal” and “The Coin Has a Say” (with, again, a choice lyric: “I can’t go back to what I was/ Metallica without the drugs”).  It’s only on closer “Map Change” where it feels ETID get a little too caught up with being kind of all over the place and the song ends up being a sort of riff salad.  However, for the speed freak in you there’s plenty here to draw from in terms of breakneck pummeling like “1977”, “Glitches” and “I Didn’t Want To Join Your Stupid Cult Anyway”.  For ungodly heavy music that is well-written and smart, but encourages listeners to get unbelievably stupid you can’t really get any better than ETID.  (Epitaph)

GATECREEPER, “Sonoran Depravation”
I am hardly the man to go to if you are seeking a well-rounded opinion on death metal.  I have nothing against it.  I generally find much of it to be decent (minus gurgle vocals), sometimes impressive.  But I don’t spend much time really delving into it.  That being said, Gatecreeper plays pretty decent death metal.  It hardly raises the bar, but it knows how to make HM-2 style riffs collide with moshy beats and a lot of double-picking between the slow parts to easily spin many a bored, basement dwelling hessian into a furious drywall-punching freak.  Basically, they get the job done.  Nothing fancy, good name, heavy riffs, lots of metal, and no over thinking it.  Sacrifice your out-of-shape gut to the dancefloor Goatlord.  (Relapse)

SIGH DOWN ONE, “Memory Is Short Longing”
I’m not sure how this got on to my radar, but I assume it had something to do with getting lost in some internet musical rabbit hole.  Before I knew it I had stumbled across this French-Canadian group and I thought it was worth talking about.  Anyways, what you get here is an album’s worth of songs that have an equal split between atmospheric shoegaze with accompanying soothing vocals, old Sonic Youth’s clattering noise rock, and some lo-fi punk nihilism.  For me, it makes for a wonderful mix that keeps things moving at a good clip with just enough negative vibes to even out the flighty mellow ones.  The washy-note-bending may open up a song, but is eventually kicked to the side by more aggressive, distorted guitar abuse, all the while the vocals tend to remain on the soft and airy side of things.  Nowhere is this more present than later in the album on “Nothing In Return” which would be a perfect place to start for those just looking for an idea of this group’s sound. (L'Oeil du Tigre Records)

The quick progress of one of the East Bay area’s most exciting new bands, Super Unison, may lead some to believe they might not be ready for a full length album just yet.  But this trio works as if they have been playing together for a long time.  While each member has musical backgrounds with other bands Super Unison is quite different from the ultra-hyper and aggressive Punch that vocalist/bassist Meaghan O’Neill Pennie emerged from, or the noodly indie/emo style of Snowing that drummer Juntin Renniger cut his teeth in.  And while O’Neill Pennie’s vocals are quite a bit different than the ferocious shriek (one of the best, in my opinion!) that she displayed in her previous band she offers a wide range of different styles in this band, going from an almost cooing in the beginning of “Keeper” to that well-worn throat shredding by the first chorus, and into an almost snarky Bratmobile riot grrl vibe in the bridge.  In fact, I think it might be my favorite song on the record just because it accurately conveys the most well-rounded representation of the band.  That’s not to say the rest of this record doesn’t rip.  It’s quite fantastic.  I’m thoroughly enjoying their rough and tumble punk blasts, peppered with post-hardcore melodies and occasional haunting guitars (like on the chorus of “You Don’t Tell Me”).  Much of the music here, if I were to make a couple comparisons, kind of reminds me of old Superchunk or Garden Variety, but darker and a bit more aggressive on the whole.  Anyway, enough hyperbole from me, just get to listening to this.  It’s one of the better releases I’ve heard all year and one that I have been very much looking forward to.  (Deathwish)

TURNSTILE, “Move Thru Me” 7”
Side A has a Bad Brains “Supertouch”/”Shitfit” 1-2 punch style of crazy fast and aggressively catchy followed by gonzo heavy and mean, and evokes a similar feel to the DC legends.  Side B has the title track, which is much more in line with what people are coming to know from Turnstile.  That is, it could have been on “Non-Stop Feeling” and no one would know the difference.  So yeah, it’s a good song.  Then they drop a Give cover, which is weird not only because that song is only a couple years old and that band is still very much active, but Give is a considerably different kind of band than Turnstile.  However, both bands are very much doing their own unique thing so I guess there is common ground in that respect.  Plus, they probably hang out, so why the fuck not, right?  Either way, this is a very excellent 7” from a band that I would never expect to enjoy.  But let it be known my guilty pleasure is now very much public.  Turnstile is pretty fucking great.  There, I said it.  Please get out of my way now so I can mosh and sing along like an idiot.  (Pop Wig)

Bonus Round:

THE V.S.S., “21:51” and “Nervous Circuits”
I’m not going to bother with a single album from this band, I’m going with their full discography.  They were short-lived and churned out a handful of 7”s (collected as “21:51”) and one full length.  Some may recall a few months ago when I reviewed the Angelhair discography.  Well, after that group split most of the members came back as The VSS.  The approach was still spastic and chaotic, except they were adding elements that were (at the time) lost to the punk scene, that being primarily cold and jagged   The result is this manic barrage of otherworldly, dystopian noisecore.  It’s very difficult for me to decide which of these records I like better.  “21:51” is the sound of the band working out ideas, still a bit clingy with that off-the-wall Angelhair sound, but the meshing of synths and distorted vocals forcing it’s way in for tremendous effect.  “The Fist and Fingers” is a lumbering, bouncy chunk of heaviness, punctuated by disorienting doubled-up vocals and spooky feedback, while “I Cut My Teeth” has a bit more of a stop-go punk vibe and Sonny Kay’s outer space vocals that breaks into an almost minimalist synth and guitar bit before exploding into full-on chaos as the whole thing collapses.  The collection closes with “Response”- an alien transmission of a far off drum coda that could either be an exit, or an indication of things to come. 
post-punk riffs and banks of strange, alien synths.
“Nervous Circuits” is the band’s lone full length that came together not too long after the group’s initial spate of singles.  It’s a much more bold affair.  The recording is far superior and the band is far more confident in their approach.  Part of me wishes it sounded as odd and cold as the 7” stuff, but it’s a great undertaking.  The compositions are more in line with post-punk offerings like Echo and the Bunnymen, Bauhaus, early Joy Division, but with a deft weight to them indicative of a punk/hardcore band.  Even so, after Kay closes the opening track with the sudden howl of “I eat the body and drink the blood” they launch immediately into “In Miniature”, which sounds like the keyboardist mashing one set of keys back and forth until it breaks.  There’s a bit more variety on this record- “Sibling Ascending”s post-hardcore march, “Effigy”s ultra-slow piano coda, the upbeat and catchy synth-driven “What Kind Of Ticks?”, and the swinging mania of “Swift Kicks” (one of the best on the record).  All of these songs are carried by vocalist/effects operator Sonny Kay, whose unpredictable, manic howl not only is a harrowing complement to the dizzying music, but he remains one of my favorite lyricists weaving stream of conscious associations that come together to paint a weird portrait of things that may or may not be related.  I sadly never witnessed this band.  They made one East Coast jaunt to my knowledge back in 1996, or ’97 and news moved slow then.  If I had known I would have traveled anything short of 400 miles to witness the live spectacle they created.  But I guess I’ll have to settle for this stuff here to keep me warm.  Over the years both Hydrahead and Sargent House re-issued “Nervous Circuits” in different formats, so it’s not very difficult to track down.  (VSS)

Monday, October 24, 2016


HEX FEST (AKA 'two awesome shows)
December 30th and 31st, 2016
The Vault, Syracuse, NY

Friday, December 30th
Doors at 6PM
ACHILLES (fresh off a 4-year hiatus of relocating, business starting, and child-rearing)
PSYCHIC TEENS (Philly 3-piece feedback, gothy-post-punk-y, whatever)
BLOOD SUN CIRCLE (owners and makers of gear beyond compare)
+ a couple more

Saturday, December 31st

Doors at 6PM
ED GEIN (crush, kill, destroy)
BLEAK (kill, crush, destroy)
GRIZZLOR (destroy, crush, kill)
DIALYSIS (kill, screw, marry?)
+ one more I guess

Day One here:
Day Two here:

Event page (to keep up with all the gory details..):

Monday, October 17, 2016


As you probably suspected, Philly's own Psychic Teens will be releasing an EP through Hex Records in early 2017! The band is currently recording the release, set to be released on 12" and digital, at Red Planet Sound with Joe Smiley at the controls. Keep an eye peeled for the band playing around the region through the rest of the year and for the record to come out in early 2017!
In the meantime, you can check out their music over at
You can pick up their previous releases through SRA Records and Reptilian Records

Monday, October 10, 2016