With their name culled from the pages of J.R.R. Tolkein, and their cover art (by Michael Whelan) with images from Michael Moorcock's Elric of Melniboné series, Cirith Ungol could be a nerd's dream band. When their debut album, Frost And Fire, was released way back in '81 it was met with derision and scorn by the critics and magazines, most likely the same folks who, today, call it a "masterpiece" or "a forward-thinking metallic milestone," you know how writers are. Upon first listen it's somewhat easy to see why people didn't get it the first time, it's clunky and awkwardly performed, and compared to something as great as say, Iron Maiden's Killers, released the same year, it seems even more so. But fuck that shit, Cirith Ungol weren't Maiden, and weren't trying to be. Cirith Ungol were American Heavy Metal, Southern Cali stoners with an obvious love of all things NWOBHM and '70s hard rock. Tim Baker's voice brims with a naive enthusiasm as he sings lyrics like "I got My Rock n' Roll Haircut, I got my Rock n' Roll Jeans" which brings to mind Saint Vitus' "Born Too Late," another anthem for the burnout throwback kicking and screaming into the slick and rather soulless '80s. Only the title track speaks of the fantasy themes suggested by the band's name and cover imagery. The rest of the songs seem to be about working class angst and frustration (again like Vitus.) Producer Randall Jackson (pictured in the liners looking like Barry Gibb complete with gold chains resting on a bed of chest hair) captured the vibe of Cirith Ungol perfectly with a dry upfront sound. Perhaps the metal press of the day couldn't wrap their heads around anything so honest yet so flawed. The standard of the time seemed to be an emphasis on musical ability over passion, and Cirith Ungol were just too strange, too real. Now Cirith Ungol enjoys the posthumous success afforded to only the most cult of cult bands. The term "cult band" here means that nobody gave a fuck when they were around, people even hated them, but now everyone claims to have been on board since the beginning. Such was the case with Pentagram, Saint Vitus, and now, Cirith Ungol. But I think it's never too late to discover a great album, and I believe their are so many albums that deserve another listen years later, and Frost and Fire is a perfect candidate. Here
Friday, February 29, 2008
Thursday, February 28, 2008
By now everyone should know the sordid history of Sammytown and his band of self-proclaimed "Berkeley heathen scum," better known as Fang. Everyone knows about how Sammytown murdered his girlfriend, Dixie, over some missing money. Drugs, murder, prison. All very interesting indeed but Fang's first release, 1983's, Landshark is a thousand times more unsavory and fascinating to me. Fang presented themselves as terrifyingly fucked up individuals, junkies, rapists, and even werewolves. The album kicks off with The Money Will Roll Right In, where Sammy declares "I won't care how I feel, and I'll get to fuck Brooke Shields." Then Fang launches into the title track which, as it would seem, is about a car. Law & Order is a typically slunky Fang number with portentious lyrics about the penal system. Sammy intones monotonously, "My mother was a junkie, my father was a faggot. I grew up in the Tenderloin where the streets are filled with maggots." The Tenderloin he speaks of is a particularly seedy part of San Francisco, I used to live there. Most intriguing is the track "An Invitation," in which the listener is urged to join Sammytown in his dark world of sex and suicide. In a sultry croon, Sammytown sings, "In the corner I see you there wired to an electric chair. I run over and jump in your lap. They throw the switch and everything turns black." I imagine that French surrealist philosopher, Georges Bataille, who wrote many essays on the relationship between sensuality and death, would have had a field day with the prose of Fang's enigmatic frontman. Landshark closes with the rousing singalong Skinheads Smoke Dope, and that, according to Fang, "ain't no fucking joke." The follow-up to Landshark, Where The Wild Things Are, is an equally disturbing affair. Fang went on to make two more forgettable albums before Sammytown's incarceration, Spun Helga and A Mi Ga Sfafas (Yugoslavian for "Give Me Head") Upon his release Sammytown reformed Fang with an all new line-up and recorded an album titled American Nightmare. This incarnation of Fang still gigs around the Bay Area and features former members of Crucifix and Oppressed Logic. Fang were special, they were real, and they solidified the notion that rock is supposed to be dangerous and is best left to bad people. Landshark was the world's introduction to the twisted psyche of an outlaw named Sammytown and that alone makes it significant.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Left End hailed from Youngstown, Ohio. Their 1974 album, Spoiled Rotten, is a buried treasure chest of macho proto-metal glam bar-rock gold. At times like Aerosmith, at times like Billion Dollar Babies-era Alice Cooper, or Led Zeppelin, and even branching into territory later explored by The Dictators. There is an appealing arrogance and pomp to this collection of rocking numbers that is undeniably fun. A great album that deserves a second chance. Here
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Nos Vrolok, one of California's best black metal bands. They incorporate elements of thrash and classic metal to their satanic darkness. They have two great albums out, but it is this demo, with its weird xerox cover art, that first introduced me to this band. I discovered this while at a friend's house. He used to book metal shows in San Francisco, and received this from the band who were hoping to land a gig. Why he didn't absolutely shit himself over this demo, or why he never gave them a show remains a mystery, but either way I was pretty happy to get my hands on this, it fucking slays. Here
Monday, February 25, 2008
The fifth and final installment of the ZZ Top vinyl rips comes to us courtesy of Cosmic Hearse passenger, Deege Dunford, who painstakingly ripped this. Much appreciation goes to Mr. Dunford for taking the initiative and sharing with our dear readers. The following notes come from Deege himself...
These are all the original mixes of the classic '70s ZZ Top catalog.For those of you not familiar with the history of these recordings:Before 1987, ZZ Top's first 7 albums were not released on CD format. So, in 1987, to capitalize on the success of the synth and drum machine
laden sound of Eliminator and Afterburner, Warner Bros Records convinced the band to go back into the studio and remix the back catalog, in order to release a 3-disc compilation of six albums, called Six Pack .These new mixes were terrible - gone was the rawness of what made classic ZZ Top what it was replaced instead with fake, annoying sounding drums and drowned in a sea of cavernous reverb. Some vocal lines and guitar parts were even re-recorded or alternate takes were used, and a few songs were even shortened, so that two albums worth of material could be jammed onto one disc. Fortunately, the band's sixth album, 1979's Degüello was spared this treatment, due to a dispute with Elmore James' estate, over the lisencing of the cover song Dust My Broom. This album was left off of the six pack, and replaced with the band's seventh album El Loco. After the dispute was settled, Degüello was eventually released on CD with it's original mix. In 2003 a 4 CD box set Chome, Smoke & BBQ was released, which contained an abundance of theseclassic '70s recordings remastered in their original mixes for the first time on CD. In 2006, the band's albums Tres Hombres and Fandango! were also remastered and re-released in their original mixes as well. As of yet, ZZ Top's First Album, Rio Grande Mud, Tejas, and El Loco have still not been released in their original mix. In my attempt to finally be able to listen to these albums they were originally meant to sound, on CD, I have spent the last few days compiling the best versions available of these albums in order to make these original versions available to anyone else whose ears were offended by the terrible '80s butchering of these classic albums. Included for download are the 2006 remasters of Tres Hombres and Fandango (live bonus tracks not included, as I wanted the albums to be as originally intended). For these other 3 albums, I have included all of the Chrome, Smoke & BBQ remasters, and for the songs on each album that were not included on the box set, I used versions ripped from the original vinyl albums. In order to make these vinyl rips sound as close to the 2003 Box Set remasters as possible,
I have used the Steinberg FreeFilter Direct-X plugin in order to get an EQ profile of both the CD sourced tracks, and the vinyl tracks - and then the program automatically applies the EQ profile of the remastered tracks to the vinyl tracks. I then used the Waves L2 Limiter in order to make the vinyl sourced tracks the same volume as the CD sourced tracks. In the case of Backdoor Love Affair from ZZ Top's First Album, I used the CD version from 1977's Greatest Hits, as it was released with it's original mix. Surprisingly, it's pretty difficult to tell the difference between the CD sourced material and the vinyl sourced material, and we are finally album to hear these albums as originally intended.
Unfortunatly, I have been unable to find a vinyl rip of 1981's El Loco, so that album is not included here. I am a bigger fan of the band's '70s output anyway, so I am not too worried about El Loco at this point anyway.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Gastunk are often associated with Japan's fertile hardcore scene of the '80s which I always found a bit strange seeing how sonically speaking they seem to be a rather commercial and slick sounding metal band. Under The Sun, Gastunk's 1987 album, is the band's most polished venture. While critics and fans deemed Under The Sun to be a disappointment compared to the debut, Deadsong, I am rather fond of it. Gastunk's metal really can't be compared to any other. Though they sometimes play rather up-tempo, they aren't thrash, and even with the presence of fast picking and screaming solos they aren't quite traditional power metal either. The vocals are rather heartfelt and melodramatic.Under The Sun is an adventurous album with epic arrangements, incorporating a myriad of different genres into its metallic stew. At times the experiment falls short of the mark, and can come off as corny, but it's Gastunk, and Gastunk is RULE!! Plus you get a cool full-color Pushead cover.Here
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Well, this retro-thrash trend is a bit out of control, thousands of kids are donning stretch jeans and puffy white sneakers, and banging their pimpled heads to records made when they were still swimming in their daddy's flesh bags. Most of these kids seem content to just rehash the better riffs from Exodus' Bonded By Blood and build a career from it. The labels are all too happy to oblige in hopes of capitalizing on the success of Municipal Waste. And then there's Evil Army, from Memphis. While their peers cull the cut-out bins for second rate Bay Area thrash, Evil Army draw inspiration from the later, more metallic punk stylings of such bands as The English Dogs, GBH, and Cryptic Slaughter, and the results are ripping. Their debut album hasn't left my player in weeks, it is an agressive work of cro magnon genius that had this old guy thrashing about the room. I have posted a few songs from the album, if you like what you hear, contact the band and buy the cd from them for a measly $10. Support!!!
Friday, February 22, 2008
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Veil is perhaps one of the best depressive black metal bands the United States has to offer. Dolor is the band's only release so far and it is epic and beautiful. Veil could almost exist in the same realm as post-rock bands such as Godspeed You Black Emperor or Mogwai. Dim the lights, light some candles and let the morose layers of this album envelop you. Here
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
The daxophone was invented by German typeface designer and musician, Hans Reichel. He named the instrument for the German word for badger "Dachs" claiming to draw inspiration from an album titled Mammal voices of Northern Europe, vol. 1 , being most impressed by the badger's performance. Consisting of thin wooden blades fixed in a wooden block with a microphone, it is played by bowing, plucking, scraping, tapping and hitting the unattached end. A separate block of wood, called the dax, can change the timbre and tone of the wooden blade depending on where it is placed. Another variable is the shape of the blade and type of wood used, and Reichel has made countless beautiful blades (see above), each bearing it's own distinct voice and personality. Shanghaied on Tor Road is Hans Reichel's daxophone opera. Reichel is a true genius in both sound and design and the daxophone is the perfect union of the two.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
The Weaving Fates is such a great record that it's appeal couldn't be lessened by it's atrociously fruity romance novel cover art. Agatus is a Greek entity (now relocated to Australia) comprised of two brothers, who move effortlessly through black metal,death metal, thrash, and classic power metal yet retain the Hellenic vibe of the old gods, Varathron and Rotting Christ. Another album that might just remind your jaded ears of why you love metal. Surrender!
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Anyone with a modicum of taste is probably interested in this one based on the cover alone with it's pink skull balancing precariously in a country field, and I believe that the music itself will not disappoint. Tapiman was a great hard rock band from Spain centered around the talented guitar player, Max Sunyer. This album was released in 1971. That's about all I know of this one.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Varghkoghargasmal, the strange and clumsy moniker of a very strange and clumsy one-man instrumental black metal band from Germany. I use the term "black metal" quite loosely, as Varghkoghargasmal are really only black metal in spirit, musically they are like nothing you have ever heard. The most noticeably bizarre element is the clean-tone guitars that sound more like Dick Dale than any kult and necro horde I have encountered, and the drums that sometimes veer off beat or stop for no apparent reason. Varghkoghargasmal released a full-length cassette titled Call of the Raven and this 7" ep, and a second full-length is to be released by Tumult Records this year. Certainly a polarizing entity, everyone that has heard Varghkoghargasmal is either immediately drawn in, or quickly turned off. I wonder which will you be?
Monday, February 11, 2008
Jerry "Boogie" McCain is the most raging harmonica slayer the world has, and will ever know. Jerry McCain was born on June 19, 1930 in Gadsden, Alabama and has called the town home all of his life. He was the youngest of five children. His mother played guitar in the Holiness Church. Jerry started playing the harmonica at age five. He recorded a a dozen or so amazing lo-fi singles for Excello and Trumpet records. My favorite of these recordings are the ones where Jerry, rather than hire a drummer, just quickly taught his his brother Walter just enough to get the song on tape. There is just something so ass-kicking about Walter's drumming, especially on "A Cutie Named Judy," that you have to wonder what the fuck did Jerry tell him to do? And check out "Geronimo Rock n Roll" where Jerry rewrites history, explaining Geronimo's reason for fighting, "They wouldn't let him rock." This is where the blues of the American South came colliding into this new thing called rock and roll, and Jerry McCain's enthusiasm and excitement over such a prospect comes pouring forth from his music, his voice, and his demonic harping. His charm and style are inimitable and his skills with a harmonica remain unmatched. Jerry still lives in Gadsden and occasionally still performs with as much fire and pomp as his 78 year old self can muster up, which from eyewitness accounts, is still quite a bit. Although sources tell me that these performances come less frequently since the death of Jean Spanks, Jerry's third and most beloved wife, in 1997 from cancer. His reputation around Gadsden is one of a friendly, funny, man. Even though he hasn't seen a whole lot of the world outside of Alabama, Jerry still exudes wisdom and a sharp intellect. In the '80s he wrote a song called "Burn The Crack House Down," stating "I just put that song together on account of all this crack all over the world. Most of my songs tell a story. I don't like to write a song, just to be writing a song to make some money. I must tell a story. I have to tell a story." And tell stories he does, stories with vibrant southern characters like the philandering Uncle John, the cutie named Judy, and that goddamned pesky next-door neighbor. Jerry McCain is the epitome of the smooth southern hustler, a real life folk hero and an American treasure, respect!!!
Sunday, February 10, 2008
If you have been following the hearse since its inception then perhaps you have come to expect a certain criteria for what gets posted. Well, fuck that. Sometimes you don't want to overanalyze, sometimes you just don't have it in you to wax philosophic about this album or that artist, sometimes a record or a band just doesn't merit such pontification, and sometimes, fuck, you just want something as comforting and as familiar as a hamburger. Deicide's first album is that hamburger. It's not mind-blowing, or particularly rare or obscure, it's not a timeless classic or a deeply profound work of staggering genius, it's just what it is. Sure, maybe way back in 1990, when this abomination was unleashed, it may have freaked out a few parents, scared a few televangelists, and maybe even urged a few ugly fucked-up teenagers towards violence, but today it's just a hamburger. Not a bacon double cheeseburger, not a western burger and definitely not some pussified garden burger, just a burger, plain and simple. Deicide requires nothing from you but your ears and a willingness to suspend some of your urbanities in favor of an unadorned trip through bonehead hell. If your tastes are too sophisticated to enjoy anything so common and lowbrow, you'd be better off over at Pitchfork Media, gushing over whatever freak-folk psych retro bullshit they're pimping this week.
Saturday, February 9, 2008
Friday, February 8, 2008
The story of the two bands that existed in South Florida in the '80s using the obscure moniker of "F" is a confusing one at best, but I will attempt to explain as best as I can. In the late '70s a single band called F surfaced, contributing a track to the Land That Time Forgot compilation LP. This lineup consisted of an enigmatic frontman named Flash as well as guitarist Mike Hasson and drummer Pete Moss. Ken "Duke" Decter may or may have not also been in this early F incarnation, I just don't know. Anyways, around 1983 another band, a hardcore band called F released a fantastic blistering 12" ep called You Are An EP What was even more confounding was the fact that the ep had at least 3 songs that had been penned by the original F back in the '70s. The only real connection between the old and new F was Mike Hasson, who now went by the extremely tough nickname of "Ravenous" and was now playing drums rather than guitar. Then as if to further confuse anyone who cared, Flash returned to the fold with a new band called, you guessed it, F. Flash's F was a more Dead Boys type deal that did many of the same songs as the previous two Fs. There appeared to be no animosity between the two concurrent Fs, in fact, Mike "Ravenous" Hasson even lent his guitar playing to the Flash-led F's great cassette releases The Danger is Here and Destruction Ahead. Both bands (but especially the hardcore F) seem to revel in the ensuing confusion. Flash's F still exists today and has even released a new album, Raw Bones, contact them here. The hardcore F gained much more notoriety contributing the best track to the Flipside Vinyl Fanzine compilation and doing a split LP with California's White Flag. As much attention as this F received for their brand of raging angry hardcore, they were mainly known for their antics which included a mock right wing pro-Reagan stance, baiting skinheads, and calling the cops to bust their own gigs. F was fond of inverting the principles that most punks considered sacred. F challenged everyone's sense of humor and held a mirror up to many of the ridiculous axioms of punk at the time, all the while kicking your ass with some furious noise. Members of this F also did stints in seminal Florida punk bands, The Gay Cowboys In Bondage, and Disorderly Conduct. You Are an Ep is as vicious and hostile a hardcore record as any other, and has become a bit of a holy grail for collectors worldwide. The committed Florida-based label, Burrito Records has made music by both Fs available through a couple of great reissue 7"s. Now you know as much as anyone about F.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Ancestors: More obscure and primitive black metal from America, released on tape. There is very little information given, it would seem that Ancestors don't want you to know much about them, and that is just fine, their frantic noisy black metal speaks volumes.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Man, I love this album. While critics and hipster dorks will froth over Pet Sounds (and rightly they should) they often overlook this jewel in the Beach Boys late 60's tiara. Friends is less about The Beach Boys masterful arrangements, and more like a string of concise, sickeningly sweet jingles all slathered in a world-weary cynicism and insincerity. How the Beach Boys were able to make happy music sound so sinister and depressing is beyond me, but I ain't complaining. Obviously influenced heavily by the Beatles this somehow is way more listenable and dark than anything the Beatles ever put on tape, yeah, I know that is a strong statement but I stand behind it 100%. This album just rules. So by now, everyone knows about Brian Wilson's mental illness, their association with Charles Manson, and all the strange and sinister ephemera that goes along with the Beach Boys, but in my opinion Friends eclipses all that with all its sugar-coated bitterness. So if you wrote The Beach Boys off as goofy Americana nostalgic pablum then you would do wise to listen to this album, there exists a strong undercurrent of darkness hidden within the laid back sunny California vibe. Just plain weird.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Saint Vitus holds a very special place deep in my heart. No band better captured the sound of losing and frustration better than Vitus. At the risk of over-intellectualizing them too much, I would dare to say that Vitus is as close as postmodern times gets to real gritty down-and-out, gonna-kill-my-woman blues music. Saint Vitus weren't virtuosos by any stretch of the imagination, but they had passion and soul in spades. You almost get the impression that Saint Vitus wanted to be a better band, but bullshit like hangovers, shitty, unfulfilling jobs, and jail constantly got in the way of such lofty goals. Saint Vitus were real, maybe too real, flesh and bone hippie throwback burnouts shuffling through the sand-blown streets of Redondo Beach with apocalyptic doom-laden riffs rolling around in their sun-softened craniums. Essentially Saint Vitus was a band made up of those weird knife-wielding bikers without bikes that hang out shirtless at the beach waiting for someone to fucking crack wise, "I fucking dare you to say something, motherfucker!!!" Being from Redondo Beach the band caught the attention of another pot-headed local, Black Flag guitarist, Greg Ginn, who had the wisdom and forethought to release their amazing, self-titled debut on his SST label. Later Black Flag would start to resemble Vitus a bit in sound and style. Ginn's decision to align himself with Saint Vitus may have been the cause of some derision in punker circles, but in retrospect it seems quite fitting. Hallow's Victim was the band's second lp and, for reasons unknown to me, the only Vitus album not to see a cd pressing. It also marks the last Saint Vitus album with original frontman Scott Reagers, before he was replaced by Scott "Wino" Weinrich of The Obssessed. Now I love all things Vitus, and can't say that I prefer one singer to the next. They both have their merits and shortcomings, but there is a pure, lucidity to Scott Reager's voice that symbolizes the band's exuberant and still somewhat hopeful beginnings. Wino's vocals added a sort of world-weary wisdom and class to Vitus that had been previously absent from their trip. Now, if you have never heard Saint Vitus (I have trouble understanding how that could be) then imagine Black Sabbath deconstructed into its most rudimentary elements, stripped of any unecessary fat, and slathered in mud. The claustrophobic production values of SST in-house producer Spot really bring out the greys and browns of Vitus' spartan sound. If you HAVE knowledge of Vitus then I imagine they're one of your favorite bands. Nobody can be indifferent to Saint Vitus, and it's hard not to get something out of their albums. Even if you hate their songs or their playing you cannot deny their brutal, almost unnerving honesty. Saint Vitus were four troubled men opening up their veins, their minds, their dingy L.A. apartments, and their souls for all to see and judge. They were the emotionally crippled everyman struggling to find his way in a world he is just too high to understand. Saint Vitus is the audial essence of pain, regret, and human defeat. The blues, motherfucker, the blues.
Monday, February 4, 2008
I am, by no stretch of the imagination, an expert on the vast world of Finnish punk. For a more learned source go no further than the great Down Underground blog. But anyhoo, here I present my personal favorite Finnish punk record (mind you, my experience is limited), Rutto's Ei Paluuta ep from 1983. The key ingredient to Rutto's charm, other than their utterly wonky playing, was their tiny frontwoman who screams with such hysteria it's as if your girlfriend was from Finland, caught you ball-deep in her sister, and then formed a band on the spot to give you the what for. And why the fuck not, ass candle, you fucked up big time, bro.
Sunday, February 3, 2008
So My laptop that I have had for years had a major disc crash, I lost alot of files, things I ripped myself, as well as the older version of Stuffit that created zip files instead of these stupid SITX files that I suspect my PC using friends can't open.I just said "Fuck It" and went out and bought a new machine and am attempting to rebuild my life after the crash. I hope to have the Hearse up and running soon with files that are available to everyone. Sorry for the delays, but remember that this is a labor of love, I see no compensation and very little praise for the work here. Thanks.
Saturday, February 2, 2008
Problems solved and I am back with Raw Power's classic "Screams From the Gutter." No big deal really, just one of the most amazing hardcore records ever. Raw Power always seemed on the verge of just exploding into utter chaos but they always managed to be hymen-tight. This album is a frantic whirlwind of Italian metal-tinged hardcore.