Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Test Of Time Boston Straight Edge Hardcore Interview

Test of Time
Interview by hutch
Bridge Nine Records

Boston Straight Edge Hardcore. To me, when I see those words, I have an immediate sound and energy and presence that should accompany any band that boasts those labels. And many people, old and new, recluse and hipster, that will pocket check your cred when you step in a venue with that moniker.

I believe Test of Time will, well, stand the test of time in this case. Yesterday, a white square box was opened in my kitchen to deliver two seven inches which I preordered from Bridge Nine Records.  Unveiling two versions, red and grey, of the one sided A Place Beyond ep, and a pressing of their first ep, Inclusion, my record player tapped its needle impatiently waiting to be blessed. Salivating, my turntable reminisced about the fury and urgency of last summer’s B9 seven inch, The Price.

Charles Chassinand, guitarist, may not be originally from Boston, but as a city, Boston welcomes someone with such sustained vigor. Coming from Florida, being in bands and working at Think Fast! Records, Charles has the resume. Charles spends his current days, over the Charles, at MIT doing AV/Sound for the legendary college. This job, especially a particular colleague, fuels his prolific songwriting.  

Test of Time has existed for only two years come September. “I’m nuts about getting things going, moving forward. As soon as we did our demo, I had other songs written. Let’s keep it perpetual.”
And independent. Vocalist Todd and Charles put together money, recorded in their basement, and put Inclusion out themselves. 500 copies. Charles explains that they recorded twenty six songs and six covers. “The plan is to keep the music trickling. We are not able to tour. The singer and I have jobs not allowing it. So I want to always have music coming out.”

 The covers which have been released are eclectic; Germs, Mission of Burma, Skid Row (“youth crew gone wild”).  Charles also mastered the three tracks on A Place Beyond.  I comment of the ferocity of the first track, blazing out of the gate. It has that Boston stomp, The Rival Mob channeling DYS. Charles admits, “it is a weird little song, one riff. But vocals over it make it seems to move.”
A Place Beyond progresses, though. The songwriting, remaining course and aggressive, ventures into Bane and Have Heart territory. While the songs punch with severity, the ethos of Test of Time remains reflected in the packaging, which he is doing. Attached to each copy will be one of five hundred unique 4x6 photos from Mexico/South America tour. The attachments are handmade and sleeved by Charles and the band. “Todd and I sit down and think about the layout and how to make it unique. Too many bands make the artwork seems like an afterthought.”

Charles unabashedly admits to emulating EVR or No Idea in the 90s. I contribute, “Oh, my favorite was The Swarm. The Frank Sinatra one. (Old Blue Eyes is Dead). That’s the pinnacle of packaging for me.” Charles agrees immediately. “That’s the exact record that sparked it,” he states. “Give people a reason to buy to this stuff.”

Musically, A Place Beyond was “written before our new bass player, Robert, who writes a lot now.” This information is spurred by my compliments of the raw intensity of the tracks which Charles wrote. That is matched by the dynamic structure of the songs. “That means a lot. I try to put effort and make the song move forward. The LP (By Design, out in July) will be like that more. I want it to have a flow. I use pianos to write. I don’t want it to sound like every hardcore record. I expose it to a co-worker who doesn’t listen to hardcore to tweak.”

“Every instrument is in my head. Not to be Stalinistic,” he clarifies quickly. “I know the parts and sounds and accents. When I put songs together for me, I have rhythm guitar and bass. I picture a lot of melodic parts, leads. I have 50% recorded before we move. So I know the record flows in a certain way.

Hardcore bands have the turnover rate of strip clubs and pub dishwashers. I would assume sporting the SXE emblem must be a hindrance to attaining new members. “I can’t see us having a full time member not straight edge. Especially at our age; lots of people drop it. I hang out with non-SXE people, obviously. But someone that has the party attitude could not be on board with our work ethic. What we end up needing happens to be SXE; those characteristics and qualities.”

And as far as that banner, which some use as a divisive implement, Charles chagrins. “I proclaimed edge when I was 12. Straight Edge kept my head of my ass. It promotes a lifestyle choice. If you’re SXE, here we are. If you’re not, check us out. We don’t have songs that condemn. Many SXE bands are accusatory, but we don’t separate.”

And how does a band hit the stage with comparable ardent rage to deliver when not inflated off of Jager bombs and groupie sweat? Charles explains, simply, “When we play a show, we hit an arcade. Two hours at an arcade and we get so amped.”

Well I hope Charles and Todd and company do a little research of European arcades. At the end of July, they head to Europe to play a string of 12 shows in two weeks. This tour will be complimented by a split with English band, only released in Europe. Additionally, there will a six song split with Old Flings from Asheville, North Carolina and then a split with Pick Up the Pieces from Mexico. All harvested from the thirty song cache.  Hard work pays off.

I assumed it would be daunting to claim “Boston Straight Edge”. Charles brushes it off. “We aren’t stating a proclamation. I look at those bands – so few of those bands are SXE today. Seeing where those dudes are now, we are already older than they were when they broke edge. SO what did it mean to wave SXE? And Todd has been around forever. Boston forever. SXE forever. Having him front the band, gears the focus. He is sincere and a nice guy.

“We want to be nice. Some dudes are “nice”, but it is a bullshit act. They are nice until you talk about money or whatever issue sets them off. Todd and I don’t get upset. We stay cool.”

Special Duties 77 One More Time Review

Special Duties
77 One More Time Volume I
Jailhouse Records
Review by hutch
I spend time around a lot of younger kids. No, not “lurking in playgrounds” style around kids. And when I say “kids”, I mean early twenties. One place is work. Plus, the scene and pubs. Another is my hobby of film making, littered with embellished kids dreaming of being famous (not good at acting and respected for their craft; but being famous). These young people sensationalize and idealize the 19080’s, saying how ‘awesome’ it must have been. I am often reminded the line in Dazed and Confused, “The seventies obviously sucked so the eighties are gonna rule!”. Well, I hated the friggin 80’s. Despite all the great music produced, much of my favorite sub-cultures suffer from piss poor production and over aiming for a big sound of the arena bands. Both styles acted as detriments to bands recording in the eighties.

Special Duties kicked onto the scene in 1980, with the distilled spirit of punk. Two years later, they personified this ethos in their album title, 77 in 82. They had had a few 45’s, in 1980, 1981. But their first full length was released and spat with a simplistic rage. Fast and harsh was Special Duties’ formula and it worked well. These founding songs are being remastered with the grit and low end punch which they deserve in 77 One More Time (Volume I).

These songs capture the urgency of the UK scene in 1982. There is no catchiness here, no pop hooks; just anger and riffs.  Even the “ohhh’s” in “Delayed Reaction” are undercut with the blistering tempo and chainsaw guitars. The remastering filters out the null space of ‘80s sound and fill in the gaps with charge and spite.

While more raucous and chaotic, Special Duties’ riffs certainly have some songs that sound like The Business. Judge and Jury sound like Suburban Rebels on steroids. Which is fine with me. Funny enough, even with the Business reference, the thing that Mickey and the boys bug me is when they get too slow. Special Duties rarely invoke the reduced tempo. “Britain in ‘81” slows it down for the first time at track eight. But the mastering, as would have been common at the time, does not overdo the drums to render the song mired in obnoxious production. It is slow, but still snarls like Anti Nowhere League would even at a slower pace. And well, that is the only slower song of the seventeen included here.

Notorious alchemists of hubris and rigid liberalism, Maximum Rock and Roll wanted to love this album for its encompassing “everything: ripping guitars, amphetamine speed, sandpaper vocals, catchy choruses”. Alas, they could only recommend it if the “imbecility quotient wasn't so high”; pointing to Special Duties’ “asserting with jingoistic passion that they don't want to die for a weak England!” *(Maximum Rocknroll #3, November/December 1982 – You certainly may heed that word. But, maybe 1982 British politics do not necessarily impact your current life that frequently.

The lyrics, however chagrinned by Max RnR, still resonate with me in a general application of working class struggles. As the drudgery of my soulless job bothers me, and its disconnected owners, I certainly can blast “They Don’t Care About Me”:

“And still they don't care about me/ Yet I'm not earning no free money
And I don't get no press sympathy/ But I won't take no charity
I go to bed late every night/ I have to get up early it just ain't right
I've gotta be at work by 8am/ For another eight hours of us and them”

Certainly these are lyrics that anyone can relate who would be listening to punk, regardless of era.
And to contrast the negativity of MRNR, also lists this review: “Ah yeah, I think this is probably one of the best records to come out of Britain in a long time. Special Duties put their hearts into their music.” (from Paranoia #6, Spring 1983) Hearts are certainly there. And when you put that much honesty out for others to hear – you are going to piss someone off. Especially when they troll records looking to be offended.

Song titles like “Government Policies”, “Violent Youth”, “Rise and Fight”, “Depression” and “Violent Society” “Police State” should indicate what you are getting into if you are unfamiliar. Special Duties’ boots kick in doors of the system with a disgusted perspective of the working class as they look up to the aristocracy trapping them. The palpable hate and the rebellion are wrenched into each spewed cynical syllable.

77 One More Time has been remastered to capture the fury. This release strengthens the lost bits without compromising the integrity or the heart of Special Duties. Every drop of enraged sweat and spewed disdain is left intact. This should whet your tongue for 77 One More Time Volume II and an LP of new material in 2015.

RIYL: Red Alert, Discharge, Partisans, Abrassive Wheels, Blitz, The Ejected, Cockney Rejects

Murderers Row Liberty Denied Review

Murderer’s Row
Liberty Denied
Riley Records
Review by hutch

Well after five albums on various labels, Bob Riley has stepped out on his own to release records. Bob Riley headed the Upstate NY metal mammoth, Stigmata, for many years. But in 2000, he grabbed his boot boy roots and started this drunk and roll band.  Self-described as Motorhead meets Rose Tattoo, their influences are obvious. Though prior albums have been faster or splashed with hardcore, this album is straight slower rock and roll for punks and drunks.

Immediately, I think of Forced Reality’s 2000 feel, late Bruisers, and The Wretched Ones. Solid production helps boost the quality writing. You hear what you expect about working class, shaved heads, drinking and boots. But when that’s my life, it suits me fine. Smart stories from older men who have been doing this for thirty plus years, fill this album and I say, “preach, on brother”.
Songs like “White Collar Crime” bring the US Oi! feel matched with lyrics. Revved up rock like Combat Ready or Bruisers is this band’s strength and separates it from the a generic vibe.

Struggles and the pains of the working class is the common thread the pulls these gritty rock songs together. And rightly, that incorporates a great Oi! sound into the tracks. “Our Struggle” slows it down to lament over a beer and a guitar. While “When the Day Comes” and “Slum Nation” pushes the harder faster edge.  While I try to compare the fast fury of the closer, “Give the Pain”, to maybe some current heavy Condemned 84 clone, I realize with the tight riffing that it all goes back to Motorhead; just a NY Oi twist.

Antagonizers Hold Your Ground Review

Antagonizers ATL
Hold Your Ground ep
Longshot Records
Review by hutch
The first cut is named, “Hate City Rock”, and well, that’s what you get. For just under 10 minutes, four songs, that model is repeated. Ain’t nothing too slick in the production. This has the gloss of a bar fight. Hold Your Ground is gritty and catchy; mixing fury and fun. Adrenaline fueled punk is forged onto wax by four vets of the scene.

The Atagonizers ATL is the bastard child of US scene forefather, Zachary Bodhan. They have put out two splits on defunct labels (One with the Main Street Saints’ lost tapes) and a self-released EP a few years ago; but this is on a proper label, Longshot. Lyrics and an insert accompany a fresh splattered forty-five of red, white and black.

The songs are angry, hard driven tunes with thin, crisp production. Harnessing the band’s live energy, the production approach is minimal. No fancy knob twisting would improve these songs. No filters or effects, just allowing the individuals play their asses off. The listener definitely feels The Antagonizers’ rocking in unison, not separately tracked, to unleash the impact of standing in front of The Antagonizers drenched in sweat and beer.

The songs combine raucous fervor that elicits rumbles, driving fast, and whiskey shots. Song lyrics reveal tales of standing up for your beliefs. “City Boy” ha a chunky riff, reliant on pounding drums, that add a’77 punk/hardcore dfeel to a sing along gem. Hold Your Ground is a fast, but composed, string of tracks that become a soundtrack of fighting for that brash punk rock spirit still thriving.

RIYL: Count Bishops, Eater, Dictators, One Way System, Cockney Rejects,  Anti-Heros, Misfits, Turbo ACs, Whiskey Rebels, Kraut

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Ludichrist Powertrip Immaculate Deception Review

Immaculate Deception/Powertrip (Re-Issue)
Dead City
Review by hutch

Once upon a time, hardcore (punk) and metal were considered separate entities. It did not take long for certain bands that span the spectrum to begin combining elements eventually, harvesting the anger and rebellion of both genres. Venom was one. This is why the first Bathory album sounds like a sibling of The Exploited and Discharge. While in America, DRI and COC began mashing the two styles as well. This spawned bands to incorporate the emergence of thrash and speed metal, loving the ferocity of Metallica, Slayer, Exodus and Testament, into a punk ethos. That inspired one scene to eviscerate all genre limitations, where else but the world’s Capital, home of myriad arts and ethnicities. New York Hardcore saw it in Agnostic Front, Cro-Mags, Carnivore, Leeway, Crumbsuckers, and Ludichrist.

Ludichrist’s main two albums are resurrected after being out of print and damn hard to find. Dead City pairs Immaculate Deception and Powertrip, each getting their own disc, for an entire new generation to discover.  Ludichrist did not take the tight crunch of cleanly produced thrash, just the heaviness and speed. This is a rougher approach, more hardcore. Chuck Valle played bass on this album. Chuck also played in Murphys Law, until losing his life (RIP).

Immaculate Deception’s sound is straight forward and better for it. The defining characteristics of crossover are the time-changes. Most songs are broken into sections; plodding, creepy crawl parts that spur into blistering fast moment. Ludichrist certainly utilize this formula as distinctly and savagely as the first two Suicidal Tendencies’ albums or DRI’s Crossover or COC’s Eye For an Eye.
One aspect kids these days may not quite fathom was the prevalence of Christian authority in the media and life in general. The big televangelists like Swaggart and Robertson and Bakker and the Moral Majority and Tipper Gore’s PMRC all had an intrusive presence swaying parents to fear metal and punk and anything different from the pastoral ideal. If you raised hell, you would prepare to be on Donahue or Sally Jesse. Many of Ludichrist’s lyrics focus on the hypocrisy and evil of these religious stalwarts. The title alone, obviously, speaking on how church *(check Anthrax’s “Make Me Laugh” or Suicidal’s “Send Me Your Money”) exploits the guilt and shame of Christians to harvest millions for their own use.  

Other subjects include typical eighties’ topics; chemical pollution (AF to DK covered this for fear of Toxic Avenger and C.H.U.D. becoming real!), evil in the world, rebellion against parents and the system, and kicking ass. One song, “Tylenol”, is (obvious to anyone my age) about the Tylenol scare when someone was poisoning tier on shelf bottles. The song takes the viewpoint of the perpetrator; still condemning his sick mind. The thematic “Most People Are Dicks” appears here, encompassing the misanthropy and disillusionment or a scene of outcasts. And while my verbiage may seem to elevate, all these approaches are done in the typical rocking 80’s attitude of casual criticisms. It ain’t cerebral. On “God is Everywhere”, the chorus is “Hey Waiter, there’s a God in my soup!”

The recording is stellar, as conveying an energetic, pissed off, sardonic crew of New Yorkers playing as fast and as loud as they could. By stellar, I do not men “pristine”; I mean accurate to conveying the attitude and music of Ludichrist. There is not a consistent thread necessarily in the music, but the production of Randy Burns (Death, Scream Blood Gore; Possessed, Seven Churches; Megadeth, Peace Sells; Dark Angel, Darkness Descends; Nuclear Assault, Survive) and Ludichrist. Songs like “You Can’t Have Fun” and “Murder Bloody Murder” are simply fast ragers. Other tunes indulge in a noodling intro or slow teaser before jumping in to full blast. “Arms of Christ” is bass focused and a slow stomp, like NYHC was known for (sounds like Murphy’s Law “Cavity Creeps”). The mix is balanced and thick. The drums have the ‘grand’ 80’s sound; guitars are acute on the high notes and chunky on the mid-tempo tracks. The bass has a driving presence; vocals, are in the exact right place, neither pushed nor lost in the mix.

Note the hierarchy of guest appearances with Roger AF, Eddie Leeway, John from Nuclear Assault and Chris Notaro from Crumbsuckers helping out with backing vocals. Al Batross (who came up with the name) was on drums, Joe Butcher on guitars. Chuck on bass. However that line up was overhauled. Tommy Christ remained on vocals with Glen Cummings providing the songwriting and guitars, as they followed up with Powertrip. Powertrip had backing vocals by Death. Yes, that Death. So you can see the transition from NYHC base to a more metal direction.

I wouldn’t say they got more serious as people, but they got more serious about recording. Powertrip embraces a darker approach to production, by Ludichrist and Tom Morris (Coroner, early Iced Earth, Whiplash). They still called hardcore Mecca, CBGB’s, home; but they clearly were getting comfy with their metal peers. Mike Walter grabbed the four strings this time. That is significant to me, and other NYHC fans, as Mike (a.k.a. Chickie)played on three Sheer Terror releases and the classic Kill Your Idols twelve inch. The drums, played by Dave Miranda, are a strong technical improvement. They are played with more skilled and utilize an expanded palette (mad fills, bro!). However, Miranda never continued playing music. Powertrip’s line up was rounded out by Paul Nieder on the other guitar (he’kll come up again…).

This is a killer album, fierce and taut. Ludichrist still have not gone full thrash, but lean more towards those type bands. Ludichrist is fast and focused on Powertrip. Magazines and blogs harp continuously that the thrash revival is dead. *(Tell that to Extinction AD, Dust Bolt, Testament, Over Kill, Bonded By Blood, Toxic Holocaust).  Most blogs only envision Municipal Waste surviving as a band in this genre. This album is filled with dive bombs, crisp riffs, tumultuous drums, and better production. The second track, “Zad” could be an early Slayer song. This is 1988. And Ludichrist was in full metal swing alongside Sacred Reich, Nuclear Assault and friends, Death.
Lyrically, Tommy Christ continues indulging specific creative stories o represent larger ills of society. Corruption, hypocrisy, arson and parties that suck are proper fodder.  Songs are longer. The first album stayed in the one to two minute area, while this album ventures up to and past three and four minutes. It doesn’t have them experimenting or getting all prog; “And So It Goes” and “Well Dress…” are three and five minutes, while utilizing fast as hell rhythms. Powertrip boasts thirteen tracks of fury. “Damage Done” entails some angry breakdowns, but charges forward as any vicious metal band would. “Yesterday for You”, while still a thrashy ripper, has a groove. And that is the peculiar aspect of this film. There were hints of the eclectic influences on ID, but they indulge further here. Odd bass or drum meanderings show up; with a funk or jazz influence – and it’s minimal – b

Those three formed Scatterbrain. If you remember 1990, before grunge, when people dressed like Pauly Shore or Bones Brigade and were “outrageous” but in a transparent corporate matter, this makes sense. This is when bands were eclectic. Whether Mr Bungle or Fishbone, people prided themselves on being a mash of multiple unassociated genres, a la Faith No More or New York brethren, 24-7 Spyz. (“We’re like a punk-mod-funky-reggae-metal-thrash-groove-Norwegian folk jam band, man!”) Anyone remember White Trash? When I played “Most People are Dicks” – I could not help but remember “Don’t Call Me Dude” by Scatterbrain. Now we come full circle. Scatterbrain, who I thought of as a metal band, were lighter and more Mtv accessible. They played fast, but so did late 80’s Chili Peppers. It was silly and catchy, but thick riffs were replaced by lighter catchy stringed aficionado supported techniques.

But I digress. This is what crossover was; exceptional metal that escaped recognition because it was played by NYHC guys. This music still stands up to its contemporaries that continue to propagate respect. This is not some lost classic for hipsters to get the jump on, like Urban Waste or Massachusetts’ Siege. This band was in most late 80’s hardcore thank you lists. Both albums here are fast, powerful, chunky riffed music. This is an essential piece of any hardcore/crossover/metal catalog.

RIYL: Final Conflict, DRI, Municipal Waste, Murphys Law, Leeway, Suicidal Tendencies, Septic Death, Cryptic Slaughter, SOD/MOD, Nuclear Assault, Slayer, COC, etc…
Here is a cool interview in print with the band from 1987. It gives you perspective on their attitude, which is basically the East Coast ball busting approach. Not too serious at all.

There are also multiple interview videos from 1989 in Detroit at Blondie’s. If you enter Ludichrist, these pop up.
But here they are in 2014 at BnB Bowl

Dirty Nil Cinnamon Review

The Dirty Nil
Cinnamon b/w Guided By Vices
Fat Wreck Chords
Review by hutch

Admittedly, I had never heard of The Dirty Nil. That said, I am not a fan of the FWC ilk. The Dirty Nil however evade the poppiness or uber polished production of most of Fat releases. The Dirty Nil, and their damned handsome youth, has been a band since each members’ high school years. That was only in 2006. This is their fifth EP since 2011.

The Dirty Nil boast a captivating sound, while maintaining a raucous edge that conveys an authentic adoration of rock and roll. The first track, “Cinnamon” reminds me of what I thought Everclear should sound like (“Santa Monica” is a classic, but beyond the sentimentality of “Father of Mine”, I never liked any other song by them. Yet when reviewed, they got called “punk”.) “Cinnamon” probably extracts the aspect of Weezer that punk dudes like, but which I never got. It’s dirty and wrought with feedback, like a happy Nirvana. The catchy riff and vocals are undeniable even for a curmudgeon like me. The factor which impresses me is straight forward production. No one over thought this and it works perfectly.

“Guided by Vices” is relayed with a broader approach; a little grander in scope. And hey, this track sits at 2:30, as opposed to side A’s 2 minute trek. Again, solemn feel being exorcised through coarse, garage rock delivery melds well. The combination of attitude and execution won’t kill the party, but will prompt you to grab another drink. There are some swirling indie spasms of say an early Pissed Jeans; but they wander as light as a Jawbox or Jawbreaker. They stay steady in the rock and roll course.

Poking a short digital distance on Vimeo, The Dirty Nil performs a faster (1:39), blistering rager named after their hero, “Guy Piccioto”. As with this video, other videos (including “Cinnamon”) continually have the band live in a small room among three or four friends. Eschewing the pretension and garish arrogance which making a video could conjure, these young dudes earn respect points as well. A few listens, and I want to play it more. Volume, speed, and grit push this band. Now we need a full length.

The cover is cool, a minimalist’s Dead Kennedy scrapbook pop art feel; the American family superimposed over a spewing, erupting volcano. FWC delivers this catchy thing on colored vinyl. The pics of the band look like what I expect from California kids (who are from Hamilton, Ontario actually) who are happy and full of promise. It’s infuriating.

RIYL: Filthy Nights, The Sun, Born Liars, The Jons, The Lillingtons, Leatherface, Avail

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Blue Bloods Non-Rhotic Review

The Blue Bloods
East Grand Recording CO
Review by hutch

This is something I never thought I would see, a third Blue Bloods review. Non- Rhotic delivers on the passionate promise witch which the first two captured me. But recharged since the mid 2000’s, they have been playing scattered shows. Blue Bloods formula is a blend of hardcore and punk and Oi which works; grabbing you in a tight New England half hug embrace while roughing you up. The lyrics are relayed the same way, wrapped in ball busting and blunt honesty. The frank approach fits Boston and punk rock well. Also, the attitude is palpable, so no shtick or pink shamrocks or shillelagh are needed to portray the Hub here.

Rough breakdowns and calculated rushes of speedy guitars fuel Blue Bloods third release. On the first release, they covered DYS, Negative Approach, and Bruce Springsteen. Is the picture painted for you? They have been on GMM and I Scream. Both of those labels are rock and roll fueled heavy punk homesteads.

Blue Bloods have not lost their touch or edge or whatever that unique spark is which they incite. The band’s hallmark is the concoction of personal, down on your luck, cold Boston winter, I need a smoke and a shot lyrics. That emotion is delivered viscerally through Tim’s voice, strained and burdened but still sung enough to be catchy. The pounding drums are another hallmark. Those drums are focused on driving the bass and thicker riffs forward in the fast sections and forcing fists to the floor during the breakdowns.

Production, handled expertly by Jim Siegel in the past, is another key component. Why stray. Sigel does it again here. Music this hard needs to be brought with a thick crunch. And we get that. There is no need to experiment. Clean, crisp guitars and full drums necessitate the proper production. 
The bottom line is that this is intelligent, emotional music. The songs, propelled by a fiery rock and roll guitar sound, escape any general themes that anchor most hardcore or Oi music these days. You can tell that that Springsteen cover was no fluke. The storytelling of these tracks is an art. When listening to the Blue Bloods, I feel as if I am hanging out with a buddy, hearing tales of the neighborhood.  The urgency is driven, but consequences are listed immediately as well. And if any of their friends read this, they probably would say “Enough already. Jesus. Ya done suckin their dick or what, kehd?” But I am pretty excited they are back. Like, wicked, even.

They also stole a quote which I have always wanted to use, “I guess she’s into Malakas”. But they wrote an entire song about it. So, they win.

RIYL: Welch Boys, Noi!se, Far From Finished (first), Murderers Row, Ducky Boys, Oxymoron, Bishops Green, Whiskey Rebels, Misfits, Slapshot, Wisdom in Chains, Social Distortion

Overcharge Accelerate Review

Unspeakable Axe Records
Review by hutch

Overcharge is exactly what the band promises to be: an Italian culmination of Motorhead, Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All, and Discharge. There will be leather. There will be studs. There will guitars shredding at a drag race car’s pace. Overcharge pairs metal and punk in the manner of Oakland’s Final Conflict, Bathory (with a slightly more palatable vocal style), and Venom.

I am glad to see mohawked, crusty punk resurface among the soccer mom Mohawk ubiquity. Punk was not supposed to be cute or accepted; that is counter-productive. So, if it takes some metal love to add some blood to the punch, so be it. “Lemmy is God” is a salient declaration, and deservedly so. 
His chemical intake alone establishes his body as a vessel transcendent of human form (does that make Nikki Sixx, like, St Peter?). The object, though, all praise due to Lemmy, should be to allow newer metal to be influenced by, not mere copies of, Motorhead. Overcharge blurs the (white) lines as their track “Leave Behind” rides the rail (pun intended) of “Ace of Spades”. It sounds just like it.

The production is pin point accurate when juggling the elements of rock and roll. “As If There Were No Tomorrow” is the second track. This ditty rides on a punk driven bass line. As with the entire record, the drums are tight; impeccable. The riffs may not be re-inventing the steel, but they certainly are dark and fast. Solos are never over-used but capture the ferocity of punk while celebrating metal frills of indulgence.  The ending of “Dirt”, complete with screams being panned, has a chaotic atmosphere as the instruments converge on the end of the track.

The cover’s artwork relays the desired feeling of being released in 1987. Overcharge are proud to be what they are, and weave that thread continually. The bottom line is that these guys adore a style and made an album within those parameters. Can’t blame anyone for doing what they love. Especially, when Overcharge executes this style so damn well.

RIYL: Motorhead, Venom, Metallica, The Bones, Discharge/Broken Bones, Bathory (Blood Fire Death), Conflict, GBH, Exploited, Poison Idea, Exhorder, Annihilator, Sodom, Final Conflict

Monday, September 15, 2014

Sheer Terror Interview: Paul Bearer

Sheer Terror
Standing Up for Falling Down
Reaper Records
Interview with Paul Bearer by Hutch

“Very happy” is not an expression any long time Sheer Terror fan would predict to be softly stated from the mouth of Paul Bearer. But when I asked him how he felt about the first full length album in eighteen years with the Sheer Terror name; he responded simply, “I’m very happy with it. Musically, these guys clicked effortlessly. I am proud of my band.”

That band is comprised of Mike Delorenzo (guitar), Jason Carter (bass), and Anthony Corallo (drums). Some fans only consider one or two true line ups for this band. But those stubborn pricks will miss out. If you heard the Spite seven inch three years ago, you got a taste. But just a taste. Much like other NYHC titans, Sick Of It All (Based On A True Story) and Agnostic Front (My Life, My Way); the latest Sheer Terror album musically revisits each era and combines them. 

This is the same line-up of Spite. Actually, Mike had stepped away from the band. After a string of close but not quite fillers, Jason talked Mike into “at least coming down to jam. He wanted to rejoin. God bless his wife. She finally looked at him and said ‘just fucking do it already’.” Paul says the “songwriting came fluidly since he came back. He’s a great guy. I love him to death.”

I would bask in giving my amassed knowledge of their history. But they got a documentary about them, “Beaten By the Fists of God” (Ian MacFarland, 2005). So, fuck redundancy. Go watch that. If you wonder if this is just another novelty reunion, Paul doesn’t find sentiment as a motivation. He is happy that “everything is on my terms. I felt good doing it again. I couldn’t even say that about the end of Sheer Terror. These guys are not a bunch of whiny babies. They’re just hungry to go out and play, to have a good time. I’d be stupid to let this slip away.

We know that people expect certain things from Sheer Terror. We know that. And I am not going to deny them that. But I won’t deny myself expanding and trying different things. It is a balance. I have the luxury of writing lyrics for the band. I can write whatever the fuck I want. It’s not that I don’t care. I don’t have to sweat it so much. I sweat it for me.

“The music is a mix of the old stuff; just putting a new energy to it and adding our own flair. These guys have their own style.” Recalling again the writer’s block, Paul notes it was crippling because he was so excited about the new music. “It got that bad, where I almost recorded mundane lyrics. I got to the point where I wanted to just put out children’s records.”

The true essence of Sheer terror has always been Paul’s lyrics, unlike any in hardcore punk. I explain that while the anthems are classics, I always preferred “Roses” and “Burning Time” and “Ashes, Ashes”. I certainly throw on Sheer Terror when I’m drinking with the boys, but the majority of my Sheer Terror listening has been alone in the dark in a room. Paul laughs, “I hear that a lot.” He takes that with a grain of salt. “I hope to write something that will make you want to turn the light on, look around, and say ‘what the fuck am I doing?’ My words will affect somebody whether I want them to or not. People are going to take what they want from it. That’s what music is supposed to be about. I have been the guy in the dark room, miserable and lonely, but I am usually listening to Jimmy Scott.
“I put care into my lyrics. I don’t write crap. I’m not going write about something that doesn’t mean anything to me or cheerleader lyrics or whatever the flavor of the day is – a power point presentation of positive messages. I am 46 years old. I’m writing for me. I can’t be writing for the kids, that’d be ridiculous.  If the kids enjoy it, fine, but if they don’t; I can’t hold it against them”

“Boots Braces and Alimony” is a song directly off of Love Songs for the Unloved with a bootboy slant. And the slight melodic feel adds a fraction of Joe Coffee as well.  “Coffee, 5 Sugars” is the odd kid here. It is a slow, dark reverb fest. It could be a Melvins song. But under the surface, and Paul’s vocals bring a strict rock and roll swing to it; like if Sinatra played Peter Boyle in Joe. However, if you think of Old New Borrowed and Blue, it fits perfectly.

 “Heartburn in G” (heart burning…) leaves no doubt that this earns the Sheer Terror title. This opener damages any naysayers and seduces diehards instantly. Covered with Negative Approach glory, the song would open any set and rally the goons. And channeling “Ashes, Ashes” or “Ready to Halt” complete with an Alan Blake gallop that sits among the best, old school double bass Celtic Frost tribute.

“Remember when you said I was your first (I’ll Burn this fucking bitch to the ground)
 I may not be the last, but I’ll be the worst (I’ll Burn this fucking bitch to the ground)”

Most of the treachery of Standing Up for Falling Down is delivered in analchemy of Negative Approach, Poison Idea, Discharge, YDI from Philly; to Motorhead, Venom (“Cigarettes and Farts”) to the Saints and Dead Boys on meth and Red Bull with “Sandbox Tonka” and “singalongstupid” when the chorus kicks in it is laid on a old pop soul break. All this is done with a “College Boy” delivery.

A surprising big slow riff more akin to Sleep or Eyehategod is birthed on “Return of Mr Jiggs”. However, that sinister doom sound of Sabbath yields to drums boiling over, emulating work of Sheer Terror’s early days. It could be “Cup of Joe” Pt II; cowbell to boot. But Paul’s vocal strength is far more intense in its contempt and ferocity than those years.

Paul reports, astonishingly that, “for the first time ever” he had writers block. It was the “first time ever I wrote lyrics in the studio. It worked. I don’t know how, but it did.” 
Hardcore producer/engineer of the last twenty years, Dean Baltulonis helped out again, truly reuniting the players of Spite. “He knows how to get our sound. He also knows how to push you without being a jerk.”

“Of course I want my music to effect people. I want it to mean something to someone outside of just me. I want it to mean something to me, that is why I make music. But if someone out there, whether or not they are actually connecting or not, finds a reason to like themselves I want you to have a reason to like yourself. Taking away from whatever is driving them nuts and want to take that long walk off of a short pier. That’s a good thing. But I’m not gonna lie. Some of them, I wish would take a long walk off of a short pier.

“I like to take my time with words. I like to fuck with words, fuck with cadence. I play with a song and let it grow and have it mean something. It’s gilding the lily. Well, maybe, it’s gilding the Venus Fly Trap.”