Sunday, September 20, 2015

Late Stage Deafness: Status Update

Hello Friends!

A quick and long overdue update: I used to write music stuff on this blog, but now because of all the music stuff I write for Bucketlist Music Reviews  I don't have a ton of time to write anything else. If you were a fan of my previous ramblings on this blog, any new ramblings can be found on Bucketlist.

For the six or seven of you who listen to my radio show (thank you!) that is also called Late Stage Deafness, my plan is to start posting stuff about the show here. Maybe. We'll see. Regardless, please feed my ego and tune into the show at 8:00pm EST on Wednesday nights on Caper Radio.

So that's it! Hell of a blog post, I'd say. Now off to review a 7' split featuring a Turkish grindcore band and an Italian death metal outfit.


Jesse G.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Because There Aren't Enough of These Already: Jesse's Top 10 Albums of 2014.

Near the end of the year, everyone's social media feeds start to look the same; embarrassing holiday party stories. pictures of miserable kids / pets dressed up as Santa, and a near infinite number of lists purporting to tell you what were the best albums of the past 12 months. Of course, most of these lists could be more aptly titled "I have an insatiable need to tell you about my excellent taste in music, because I'm a pretentious shithead." The following list fits snugly into that category. 

2014 was an incredible year for music, especially for those who enjoy all things noisy, heavy and grim. I will more than likely need to write a follow up to this list in the New Year as I've still got a stack of records from 2014 that I have not yet listened to. I know, what a slacker, right? Anyway, below are ten records that sufficiently rustled my Jimmies in 2014. As always, I hope you find something you dig!

10. ACxDC - Antichrist Demoncore


After over a decade of singles, EP's, and splits Los Angeles Powerviolence misanthropes ACxDC have put out their first full length album; a blistering, vitriolic, blast of fury and fun.  Antichrist Demoncore finally sees ACxDC's tunes get the production love the previous material lacked. I know there is some PV/Grind badge of honor earned by having all of your recordings sound like someone took a shit on the 4-track, but actually being able to hear parts of the drum kit beyond the snare and high hat, as well as proper low end out of the guitars and bass, imbues this album with satisfying weight without sacrificing any of the intensity. Lead singer Sergio Amalfitano's lyrical content continues to run the gamut of intense social commentary, touching personal reflection, and sardonic hilarity (any band that writes a song making fun of Burzum fans is A-okay in my book). 

9. Mastodon - Once More Round The Sun

I know I'll probably catch a bit of flack for this, but I really enjoyed Mastodon's newest record. Mastodon fans who complain that the band have lost touch with their original sound are not wrong; Once More Round The Sun bears little resemblance to either Remission or Leviathan , however I don't think that is necessarily a bad thing. Sure, sometimes we want our favorite bands to keep chugging out re-hashed versions of the stuff we fell in love with, but you can't blame a band for wanting to explore other avenues over the course of a 15 year career. Yes, this record sees Mastodon continue down a more radio-friendly road, but if this was the type of shit I heard when I turned on the radio than I am all for it; Great songwriting, catchy riffs with a good dollop of classic Mastodon proginess, and a coherent musical narrative throughout. Once More Round The Sun actually feels like a record as opposed to the disjointed collection of songs that was The Hunter. 

8. Black Anvil - Hail Death

I picked up this grimy little gem at the Relapse Records tent at Maryland Deathfest purely on record cover alone. Just  how fucking Necro is that cover?! It looks like the kind of thing a 16-year-old midwestern teenager would get as a tattoo to prove just how Cvlt he is to his four friends on the internet. Thankfully, Black Anvil's Hail Death is far more than its wonderful design work. This is gritty, blackened death metal that is as brooding and evil as it is uplifting and epic. The attention to detail Black Anvil pay to songwriting has created a record packed with incredibly memorable tunes; I can't tell you how many times I've listened to the songs "Still Reborn" and "Seven Stars Unseen" on repeat during my commute to work, using all of my strength to suppress the desire to headbang from Jolicoeur to McGill.

7. USA Out of Vietnam - Crashing Diseases and Incurable Airplanes

It is an impossible task to describe this record with any degree of accuracy in only a single paragraph. Simply listing the possible influences and sub genres contained within Crashing Diseases and Incurable Airplanes would keep us here all afternoon, but this is what makes Montreal's USA Out of Vietnam so wonderfully confounding. There are some more predominant aspects; Doom, drone, psychedelic, post-rock, and dream pop elements all feature heavily, but again going too deep into the comparison hole really doesn't tell you anything as the music is far more than the sum of its parts; richly layered, contemplative, haunting, and utilizing an incredibly diverse pallet of instrumentation and sounds. The only other clue I can provide is that the band recorded this record at Hotel2Tango where Godspeed! You Black Emperor recorded some of there best stuff.

6. Coffinworm - IV.I.VII

Hey friend, feeling a bit down in the dumps? Need something lift your spirits? Something to add an extra dose of sunshine to your day like a warm hug from a friend or a YouTube video of kittens playing with ribbon? Then don't listen to this fucking record. 

Coffinworm's newest offering may be one of the most unsettling pieces of music I've heard in quite some time. The songs seem single-handedly crafted to impart a maximum dosage of despair and  existential terror, while at the same time treating us to 35+ mins of masterfully crafted, strangely satisfying doom/sludge.

5. Baptists  - Bloodmines


Dudes in Baptists, how the hell do you drop a record this great only a year after releasing the equally excellent Bushcraft? You realize that now we are going to expect a new slab of razor-sharp Entombed-core madness at regular 12 month intervals, right? Maybe Kurt can build you guys an apartment behind God City. 

For those of you not aware of Vancouver hardcore act Baptists (what's the rent like under that rock?), let me pose some comparative questions. Do you like bands like Trap Them, The Secret, and Converge? Does Kurt Ballou's name seem to pop up frequently in your record collection? What if we added a drum performance from percussion Wunderkind Nick Yacyshyn that will melt the flesh from your unworthy bones? Sound groovy? (warning: Video is awesomely NSFW)

4. YOB - Clearing The Path to Ascend

I am admittedly a latecomer to YOB, only hearing about them after purchasing last year's The First and Last Days of Unwelcome by Lumbar, the excellent collaboration between YOB vocalist/guitarist Mike Scheidt, Tad Doyle (Tad) and Aaron Edge (Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, Grievous, Swearengen, lots more..), and only purchased Clearing The Path to Ascend after seeing it pop up on almost every end-of-year metal album list. Well, better late to the party than missing out entirely and after giving this record multiple spins, I completely understand the praise. YOB have created a truly monolithic hour+ of monstrous, rumbling riffs set to a glacial pace. The wonderful dynamic shifts keep the songs, which each clock in at around 15 minutes in length, engaging while creating a trance-like atmosphere. "Marrow" may be one of the songs of the year. 


3. Nux Vomica - S/T

With their newest full length, Portland's Nux Vomica continue to prove that progressive composition need not subtract from punk's ferocious indignation. Far from it; the subtle, melodic facets contained within Nux Vomica's brand of black and doom metal-infused crust punk make the sections of unbridled savagery that much more satisfying and impactful. It's as if Neurosis and Tragedy had a baby who grew up to burn down Wallstreet.

2. Behemoth - The Satanist 

It may sound pretty corny, but I believe The Satanist is the album Behemoth were always meant to make. After lead singer / guitarist Nergal (aka Adam Darksi) was diagnosed with leukemia in 2010, Behemoth's future was of course uncertain. Thankfully, Nergal was able to receive a bone marrow transplant and make a remarkable recovery, and if I were to use one word to describe Behemoth's newest offering it would be "Triumphant". The Satanist is truly Behemoth's best and most compelling work to date. The music, while more blasphemous than a crucifix made out of severed goat penises, is majestic and strangely inspirational. Behemoth's musicianship has always been top notch, but the quality of the songwriting allows us to better appreciate that skill. 

1. Full of Hell / Merzbow

Is anyone really shocked? Given the opportunity, I will talk your Goddamn ear off about Full of Hell, a band that is, in my opinion, one of the most interesting acts in contemporary extreme music. Full of Hell have always been fans of incorporating Noise elements into there music, infusing their already cacophonous hybrid of grind and hardcore with even more discord. So it makes total sense that FOH would look to collaborate with reclusive Japanese Noise musician Merzbow on their new record. The result is joyful sonic torture. 

As I mentioned, I missed a BUNCH of great records this year and it may take until mid 2015 for me to catch up. Here is a list of stuff that probably warranted a spot on this list if I'd actually had the time to listen:

1. Trap Them - Blissfucker
2. Pallbearer - Foundations of Burden
3. Obliterations - Poison Everything
4. Old Man Gloom - The Ape of God
5. Old Man Gloom - The Ape of God (yeah, they released two of them)
6. Mortals - Cursed to See the Future
7. Code Orange - I am King

Of course, 2015 is shaping up to another excellent year for music. Here is a list of albums I am looking forward to:

1. Sumac - The Deal (Aaron Turner from ISIS and Nick Yacyshyn from Baptists? Does the special edition come with a fresh pair of boxers?)

Yeah, I'm sure there are tons of other things I could put on this list, but I'm just so incredibly stoked to hear this Sumac record I really can't be bothered to think of anything else.

Well, that's it for now! As an expecting father, I'm predicting my 2015 best of list will include crushing jams from the Disney and Dora the Explorer catalogue. Stay tuned!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Grab Bag of Justice Vol 2 - I've Been Busy!

Apologies for the prolonged absence, folks! It's been a particularly busy few weeks and recently the wonderful people at the excellent music blog Bucketlist Music Reviews have asked me to start reviewing records and shows for them. You can go read what I've written for them here and here!

Of course, I'll still be using Late Stage Deafness as my platform to blather on about the stuff I'm listening to on my own time. As such, here is another installment of Grab Bag of Justice!

1. Nomads / Treacherouskin Split EP "Violent Fucking World"

I'm a pretty cheap date when it comes to this particular flavor of raw, crusty hardcore. Give me some Feedback-laden, gain-knob-turned-to 11 guitars, a 200 BPM d-beat and a singer who sounds like he's been raised on a steady diet of crushed glass and bath salts and I'll probably invite you up to "see my apartment". This split EP from L.A. groups Nomads and Treacherouskin hits all the right buttons and then some. The Nomads side is fast, furious, and incredibly tight. Fans of NAILS and Dead in the Dirt will eat this right up. Metallic hardcore band Treacherouskin slow things down a touch but their two tracks are punishingly heavy and make me want to break furniture. For fans of Xibalba, First Blood, and random acts of property destruction.

2. Animals as Leaders - The Joy of Motion

I made the terrible mistake of avoiding Animals as Leaders because I didn't care for many of the acts with whom they tended to share a bill . I wrongly assumed that a group opening for Periphery, for example, would either be a boring Djent act or a talented group of musicians that would employ too much clean singing for my tastes. Dumb, Dumb, Dumb. Thankfully, a positive review of their newest record "The Joy of Motion" on the always excellent and hilarious  prompted me to give them a shot and I was completely blown away. Animals as Leaders' take on instrumental prog metal is nothing short of breathtaking. Guitarist and principal song writer Tosin Abasi creates rich, expansive soundscapes that showcase the band's considerable chops without ever entering the Wank Zone. All of Abasi's solos are in service of the the bigger picture. This is some seriously groovy shit.

3. Coffinworm - IV.I.VIII

This is the happiest record you will ever listen to. For fans of: Good will towards others, The promise each new day brings, The warmth and joy that healthy relationships add to your life, The laughter of small children, and That special tingle in your chest every Christmas morning. Let the dulcet tones of "Sympathectomy" act as your perfect pick-me-up cure for the Monday blues.

4. Biipiigwan - Something For Everyone, Nothing for Anyone.

As a big fan of Montreal sludge monsters The Great Sabatini, I was excited to hear that Steve Vargas was going to be drumming in another heavy project as Steve Vargas' side projects tend to be FUCKING SPECTACULAR . This new release from Ottawa's BIIPIIGWAN is no exception. Lead singer and principle song writer Musqwaunquot "Musky" Rice has crafted a record that is heavy and caustic, but remains riff-focused enough to keep your head bobbing through the oppression. Lyrically, the album explores a number of political and social themes, with particular focus on the mistreatment of native populations, environmental destruction, and the need for collective responsibility. A number of the songs are written and sung in Anishinaabemowin, an Ojibwe language which totally works for metal. It's also really cool to hear heavy music coming from a cultural perspective that is different from the typically homogeneous (read: white) North American metal scene. The album artwork will also give you a nosebleed if you stare at if for more than 30 seconds.

Steam the first track "Man" HERE

As always, I hope you all find something here that is to your liking! while I will try to post a bit more frequently, you can be sure that leading up to my upcoming Father/Son road-trip to Maryland Deathfest this May I will be posting up a storm! For example, it was just announced that Powerviolence lunatics ACxDC will be added to the line up due to some last-minute cancellations. SQUEEEE!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Grab Bag of Justice: Righteous Jams of the Last Few Weeks

Before I get started, I'd like to apologize to the six people that read my blog for the the long gap between posts. It's been a busy few weeks (read: I'm lazy), but now I'm back, baby! As such, I'd thought I'd give you a sample of the best stuff I've heard in the last four weeks. Hope you find something you like!

1. Seventh Circle - S/T

2014 is shaping up to be an excellent year for the new wave of so-called "negative" hardcore (While I hate to promote creating even more sub-genre classifications, the recent popularity of this style of music seems to warrant its own name, and "negative" or "dark" hardcore seems a poor descriptor); Baptists will be returning to God City to record their second full length, both Homewrecker and Trap Them will be dropping new LPs sometime this year, and fresh new talent Seventh Circle pop up out of nowhere (nowhere = Belgium)  to crush skulls and eat waffles (they are currently out of waffles).

Like the bands listed above, Seventh Circle successfully blend unbridled fury and technical prowess in such a manner as to  keep the listener in the "Fuck You, Punch Something" red zone without flying off the rails or becoming repetitive. I was also impressed by the recording quality seeing as the band recorded, mixed, and mastered the album themselves. If you dug NAILS' "Abandon All Life", you will dig this.

Check out an interview with the band and full stream of the album HERE

2. Destrage - Are You Kidding Me? No

This is straight up the wackiest shit I have heard in quite some time. It is hard  to provide accurate comparison acts, but if Dillinger Escape Plan and Protest the Hero had sex, and Mike Patton from Mr. Bungle watched, that would be pretty awkward/sexy. But just think of the soundtrack!

The musicianship these weirdo Italian prog-wizards put on display is amazing and, at times, almost beyond belief (especially the drums). But despite the musical master class, nothing feels noodily or masturbatory, meaning the songs fee like actual songs and not simply separate chunks of "Look what I can do!" time. Also remarkable is how Destrage are able to successfully incorporate a number of elements (electronics) and stylistic choices (there are some chorus sections that are unabashedly Nu-Metal in composition) that would normally be a massive turn-off. This is clearly music created by passionate people who are very serious about having as much  fun as fucking possible. This may not be for everyone, but you'll be hard pressed to find another record coming out this year that sounds anything like it.

The only video currently available is for the track "Purania" and while it is certainly a fun song, I think it's a poor representation of the full-on crazy-pants-ness of the rest of the record.

3. Ringworm - Hammer of The Witch

Along with fellow Cleavanders Integrity, Ringworm are considered the progenitors of the Metallic Hardcore subgenre, and arguable remain one of its strongest acts. Formed in 1991, Ringworm have toured relentlessly over their long career and released a vast amount of great material. Their influence is present on pretty much every Victory Records album released between 1997 and 2006 (commonly referred to as "The Less-Shitty Victory Years) and almost the entire Bridge Nine catalogue.

Their first full length as members of Relapse Records, Hammer of The Witch is Ringworm at their best - tight as testicles in cold weather and heavy as my heart at the end of Bridget Jones' Diary 2.  Check out the title track below:

4. Conquering Dystopia - S/T 

The term "Super Group" tends to get overused; the moniker used to denote bands comprised entirely of  top-shelf, well recognized talent, but seems to now be used to describe any collaborative effort that involves more than two people who simply play in other bands. In this particular case, there is no questioning Conquering Dystopia's pedigree; guitar work is handled by virtuosos Jeff Loomis (ex-Nevermore) and Keith Merrow, Cannibal Corpse bassist Alex Webster dishes up the low end, and  manning the drums is The Faceless percussionist and relative youngster Alex Rudinger.

Even if it's chock-full of expert shredding, most instrumental tech-death metal releases tend to lose me half-way through as the songs begin to blend together and morph into one extended sweep picking arppegio-fest. By using a far wider range of dynamics, tempo, and song styles ranging from super aggro tech-death to what are essentially power ballads, Conquering Dystopia have created a very complete and satisfying record. Sure, it's a wank-fest, but it's a great sounding wank-fest.

Stream and purchase the entire album HERE

5. Larry David - Grind Your Enthusiasm

What can you really say about a grindcore band dedicated to all things "Curb Your Enthusiasm"? Doesn't it sell itself? Actually, what stands out here is that beyond the hilarious gimmick, Larry David are a fucking top notch grind act and Grind Your Enthusiasm  would be an excellent record start-to-finish even if it didn't include all of the hilarious Curb Your Enthusiasm quotes. Sadly, this band no longer exists and this is their only full length recording.

If this doesn't put a smile on your face, you're probably Larry David.

Alright, that's it for now folks! Remember to start saving now; Record Store Day 2014 is only about a month away!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Review: Behemoth - "The Satanist" - And not a single "f" was written that day

A pig roast and a drum circle? Sweet!

It has been five long years since Polish blackened death metal giants (subtle?) Behemoth released Evangelion, their last full length studio recording. Evangelon was classic Behemoth; epic, powerful blackened death metal propelled to breakneck pace courtesy of Zbigniew "Inferno" Promiński's masterclass in percussive destruction, Adam "Nergal" Darski's signature Eastern-tinged guitar lines and snarling vocals, and a metric fuck-ton of Satan. Simply put, Behemoth sound like the apocalypse if it were to be mic'd properly. Both Evangelion  and 2004's Demigod (Full disclosure: I have yet to listen to 2007's The Apostasy and have only heard a handful of tunes from their earlier studio work. Am I missing some crucial shit?) were excellent records that featured a number of stand out club bangers and very little filler. For Example:

The five years between Evangelion and The Satanist would prove to be incredibly difficult for Nergal, Behemoth's lead vocalist/guitarist. In March of 2010, Nergal was put on trial in his native Poland for violating the country's strict blasphemy laws by tearing apart a bible during a concert in 2007. The charges were eventually dropped. Less than a month after the end of the trial, Nergal was diagnosed with leukemia. While Nergal would eventually find a compatible bone marrow donor and recover, the illness effectively dashed any hopes of a new Behemoth record anytime soon. While Abyssus Abyssum Invocat, a compilation of live recordings, re-releases of previous material, and bizarre covers (While Behemoth covering Nine Inch Nails may sound interesting in theory, it is actually pretty Goddamn awful in practice), was released in 2011, fans eagerly awaited new material.

Thankfully, that wait is finally over and we have 2014's The Satanist. While I would have been completely content with Behemoth treading familiar ground, what is so wonderful about this album is the monumental amount of progression it shows in musicianship and songwriting. The opening track, Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel, begins at a slower, anthemic pace, with Nergal's growl chiming in over a simple down-tempo riff that includes the aforementioned horn section. And just before the flock begins to lose faith, the song explodes into a maelstrom of blasting drums and cacophonous, sporadic vocals, then switching yet again to a softer, melodious, multi-layered (was that a harpsichord?) outro.

 The next few tracks begin with Behemoth's typical fast-paced fury, but throughout these songs is evidence of more mature songwriting;  Behemoth make much better use of dynamics in order to create tension. In Messe Noir  the highly dissonant chorus sections are lent additional heft from the light touches in between. To top it all off the whole thing ends off with this ballsy, Power-Ballad-esque guitar solo, and it just fucking works! 

 The album's title track is again atypical in its structure; the song starts off subdued and mid-tempo, reminiscent of ballad-prone Nordic death metallers Amon Amarth, and as well  showcases drummer Inferno's technical ability beyond being able to jump to ludicrous speed. The song eventually ends up in the blast zone, but the guitar work is far more melodic and the accenting horns add an extra layer of grandeur to the whole affair. In The Absence ov light kicks off with signature Behemoth fury, but then abruptly cuts to an acoustic section with Nergal reciting what I can only assume is some seriously evil, pro-Devil, not-so-pro-Catholicism shit in Polish (however, it would pretty rad if he was just rhyming off his grocery list in a spooky voice). The album  ends with arguably the strangest, and in my opinion best, song on the record, O Father O Satan O Sun!  - Choir-like vocals are layered onto Nergal's in certain sections, and the riff is reminiscent of Led Zepplin's Kashmir. Just when you think Behemoth are going to let things fade out on a sacrilegious slow jam, they kick the fucking hornet's nest one last time for good measure mid way through before heaping on an ultra groovy guitar solo. The track ends with Nergal giving what sounds like a proper Sunday sermon, where one would assume this particular pulpit is built out of goat heads. 

If you are a fan of Behemoth's previous work and are worried by my description of this album that they've gone off the Underworld reservation fear not, this is still Behemoth: crushingly heavy, blistering speed, epic grandeur, and evil as fuck. This time around, however, it's the subtle touches and spaces in between the blasts that bring it to the next level. A more mature Behemoth, if you will. Go buy this now.

Oh, and I feel it would be improper to talk about Behemoth without taking a little shot at metal fandom, especially black metal purists, who tend to poo poo Behemoth for integrating elements of death metal into their sound in the early 2000's (Behemoth''s early releases, such as From The Pegan Vastlands were straight up black metal). Because of this style change, Behemoth are apparently no longer "cool". Gents, let me fill you in on an important truth; arguing about which bands that wear face paint and costumes are cool and which are lame is akin to arguing which version of Magic; The Gathering cards to bring to highschool to get girls to like you. 

For those who are curious, Jim plays a blue/green mill deck.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Dad Metal - A Maryland Death Fest playlist for my father

This May I am heading to Baltimore to attend one of the greatest North American extreme music festivals; Maryland Deathfest. Simply put, I'm pretty fucking stoked. The line up is incredible, I'm probably going to go broke buying records and merch, and the closest I've come to Baltimore is watching the first 2 seasons of The Wire in a single sitting. To be sure, these are all valid reasons to be excited, but the greatest part about this trip will be my traveling partner and Festival-buddy; my father. 

Playing and listening to music was and continues to be important to both of my parents, and from a young age good music was drilled into my brain in hopes that I'd grow up with half-decent taste (Apologies. You both tried your best.). My early birthday party soundtracks skipped between Rafi and Hendrix, Sesame Street and Three Dog Night, Sharon, Lois, and Brahm and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. I heard the Dead Kennedy's "Too Drunk to Fuck" for the first time in my dad's workshop when I was thirteen. Regardless of what shitty music I was listening to, or the even shittier music I'm listening to now, my father always took a "hey, not my bag, but if you are into it, that's cool" approach. That said, he's much more likely to throw on a John Prine LP then rage out to Extreme Noise Terror. Therefor, in order to prepare him for the giant wall of sound that awaits him this May, I thought I'd make him an MDF playlist! Bonding!

  1. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats - Mt. Abraxas - This relatively new English band's blend of late 60's fuzzed out psychedelic rock and Sabbath-era early metal makes for a groovy, head-bobbing music with just the right amount of heaviness. This, the first cut off of 2013's Mind Control, is a slow-burner and I think a great way to kick things off.

2.  Windhand - Orchard - I'm a sucker for good female vocalists in heavy music, and Dorthia Corrtell's rich, haunting voice fits perfectly with Windhand's slow doom metal vibe. Dad, while the first  two songs in this playlist may seem to indicate otherwise, I am not "on the pot". I'll be sure to ramp things up past 65 BPM in track 3.

3. Antisect - The World's Biggest Runt - Excellent early English anarcho-punk. Antisect's 1983 LP In  Darkness, There is No Choice , along with Amebix's Arise are widely considered to be the recordings that kicked off the whole crust punk movement, and for that the world is a much better, stinkier place. 

4. Capitalist Casualties - On The Take - This band has been churning out furious, politically-charged hardcore punk / powerviolence since the late 80's.  Similar to Antisect, this is a group whose influence can be heard on a vast number of contemporary recordings.

5.  Black Breath - Sentenced to Life - Along with Vancouver band Baptists, Black Breath was one of the first bands to turn me on to Southern Lord records, in my opinion the reigning taste makers of contemporary heavy music. Black Breath's blend of darkened thrash and hardcore is reminiscent of Entombed, especially in guitar tone. The title track from from 2012's Sentenced To Life will make your neck sore.

6. The Secret - Angus Dei - Do you like Trap Them? Do you like All Pigs Must Die? Do you like a Spicy Meat-a-ball? Do you like Mario and Luigi? How about the Godfather movies? Do you like tired stereotypes about Italians in place of actual comedy? (Good!). Another great band from the Southern Lord roster, Italy's The Secret play that familiar blend of dark hardcore / d-beat / death metal / grind that everyone seems to be jamming to these days. Personally, the more bands like this, the better!

7. Tankard - Die with A Beer In Your Hand - An 80's German speed metal band whose every song is about alcohol. What the fuck else do you need to know?

8. Noothgrush - The Jundland Wastes - While Noothgrush have existed since the early 90's, I am a relatively new fan and only have listened to a small portion of their total output. However, I have thoroughly enjoyed everything I've heard so far, especially their recent split EP with Japanese sludge monsters Coffins. This is dark, misanthropic sludge / doom that perfectly balances the brutal, industrial levels of evil with meaty riffage.

9. Candlemass - Tot - Candlemass purists will probably be pissed I'm not picking a track off of 1987's Nightfall, but Goddamnit to I ever dig Candlemass' 1999 love letter to Black Sabbath From the 13th Sun. Björn Flodkvist's vocals on this track during the verses are ethereal,  then the guitar comes in and HOT DAMN! A crushing, Iommi-esque riff with a freaking church bell on the accents!

10. Gorguts - An Ocean of Wisdom / Battle of Chamdo-  Avant garde technical death metal from La Belle Province! This track from 2013's Colored Sands demonstrates that  beyond the insane musical ability possessed by its members, Gorguts know how to write actual songs. That might seem like an odd compliment, but too often Tech Death bands seem content to travel far up their own asses and simply mash together a bunch of "Hey,look what I can do!" sections, creating records that can be praised for the skill they demonstrate, but are ultimately real snoozers to listen to. Colored Sands keeps you engaged from start to finish. The second tune I've included, Battle of Chamdo, is a classical piece frontman Luc Lemay wrote for piano and was then performed by a string quartet for the record. beautiful stuff.

Like any list, it's clear I'm missing stuff. There are many excellent bands playing at this year's festival that are not listed here. Is there a band I simply cannot miss at MDF? Let me know in the comments! and if you are going to MDF this year, Dad and I will see you in the fucking pit! Bonding Mosh!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Shut Up and Take My Money: Cult Leader

I have a confession to make; I own a shocking amount of band merch. My wardrobe is overflowing with logo-and-appropriately toughguy hardcore silliness / gory death metal slaughterhouse diorama-emblazoned t-shirts, long sleeves, and hooded sweatershirts. My wife has resigned herself to simply shaking her head in quiet disgust when I return from a concert toting a bookbag full of things that scream "I'm an adult that makes sound decisions about how to spend our disposable income". I know I have a problem and I don't care; If I like your band, I will buy ALL of your shit. What's that? You're selling a record I already purchased on iTunes four months ago on two different colors of vinyl? In the bag, good sir. You only have XXXXXL-size T-shirts that you poorly silk-screened yourself? Fuck it, it'll shrink in the wash. You've got a signature Pez-dispenser with matching lunch box?

If there is a band whose merch table I will pillage the most in 2014 if given the opportunity, it would be Cult Leader (Yes, I did just write an entire self-absorbed paragraph just to segue into a discussion about Cult Leader. "Blog" is just an easier way to say "Narcissism"). 

Cult Leader is a relatively new band formed by three quarters of the super excellent and now-defunct Utah-based Sludge/Hardcore/Grind/Whatever act Gaza. While Gaza released three full lengths and a EP during there existence, it was 2012's "No Absolutes in Human Suffering" that really made me a huge fan; oppressively heavy, tight musicianship, smart lyrics, and it imposes an atmosphere of pure dread and fury throughout (really, fun for the whole family!). Jon Parkin's vocals don't just sound angry, they sound positively unhinged.

In March of 2013, Gaza announced they were disbanding. While the band did not provide reasons for the split, it was reported that it was in part due to allegations of sexual assault made against Parkin by a woman in Idaho. While Parkin was never charged, it seems the rest of the band decided it best to move on. I was pretty bummed, as I had missed their last trip through Montreal, however in the same month three ex-members announced the formation of Cult Leader and just last month released a track from their forthcoming debut album "Nothing For Us Here". (Link goes to video - I'm unable to embed it here for some reason.)

"Skin Crawler" gives us a good idea of what we can expect from the new record; basically Gaza 2.0 minus John Parkin, which I certainly support wholeheartedly. So far this is the album I am most looking forward to in 2014. In short, Cult Leader, play a show in Montreal this year so I can buy all of your shit. I suggest your own line of Kool-Aid and shiny robes. I would totally buy that.