Say what you will about Dimmu Borgir. Use your derision of them as a testimony to your deep underground kvltitude. Slag them for being a successful, corny, pompous, overproduced Andrew Lloyd Weber musical of a Black Metal band. Hate them for bringing the Norwegian Satanic arts to Hot Topic and middle America. You can do all these things, puff your chest, and pretend that there was never a time in your life where you actually liked at least one of their albums. You definitely didn't like Stormblast, their second album. You hated it's mid-tempo hooks and Hammer Horror film synths, you hated that guy's top hat, and you hated its teen-goth meets teen-Black Metal vibe that was so perfectly constructed you found the songs swimming in your head though you tried to resist.
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Black Fire was Andrew Hill's debut as a leader for Blue Note. For this legendary session, Hill was joined by Joe Henderson, Richard Davis, and Roy Haynes. The album is an excellent transitional piece between modal and more avant jazz styles and contains some latin rhythms peppered throughout the songs. Hill was definitely one of the most imaginative and daring piano players in the Blue Note pantheon, and he wasted no time digging deep into his intellect and exploiting the sort of creative freedoms that working with Alfred Lion afforded. Perhaps the most inspiring aspect of Black Fire is the rhythmic interplay between Hill and drummer, Roy Haynes. Of the gazillions of sessions Haynes has worked on, this has to be one of his most invigorating performances. Throughout the '60s, Hill continued to push his abilities and explore new territory with a number of great albums like Compulsion, Judgment, and Point of Departure, but Black Fire marks a very deliberate onset to this journey. A great album, and a great introduction to the work of Andrew Hill.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
If you look past the redneckery, the tall tales, and you were to judge Malevolent Creation based on their first two albums alone, you would see a strong young Floridian Death Metal band. I grew up in the same town as these duders and used to see them play to scant crowds of doughy peckerwoods in sweat pants, and they were killer. So they weren't as smart as Atheist or Cynic, or as evil as Deicide or Obituary, or as Magikal as Morbid Angel, The Ten Commandments is such a fucking great record I am willing to overlook the fact that one of them pushed me down and called me a faggot in the parking lot of the Treehouse in Hallandale.
Friday, February 25, 2011
School Jerks are a promising young punk band from Toronto, and they are just one of many burgeoning hordes that look to the past for hardcore inspiration. Though the members of School Jerks were probably swimming in their daddy's flesh bags when giants like Negative Approach and Void tore down the walls of VFW halls and basements, these pups rage like Reagan is alive and still in office. Over and out in a scant five minutes, their EP titled Decline, packs enough '80s suburban fury to have you reaching for your Bill Danforth deck.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Isvind were another early Norwegian Black Metal band. They formed in 1992 and quickly started releasing very limited tapes. The second of these was called Nivelheimen. This is a classic example of Norwegian Blackness circa early '90s. The guitar sounds, the coldness, the Norwegain lyrics, all conspire to create an atmosphere of Scandi-teen communion with nature and Tascam Portastudios. Another grainy aural snapshot of a specific time and place. Spend a half an hour in the frozen woodlands of Isvind's imagination.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
The Warriors is a Xenophonic epic set against rough and ruinous late 1970s New York, a nocturnal necropolis inhabited by stylized thematic gangs. The soundtrack evokes all the tension, angst, and afros of the film. As Cleon, Swan, Ajax, Vermin, Cochise, Fox, Rembrandt, Snow, and Cowboy encounter one peril after the next in their quest to return to their home in Coney Island, you are treated to some pulsating, funky city songs from the likes of Mandrill, Joe Walsh, and Desmond Child, among others. Put this on your iPod for a late night stroll through the city of your choice, and feel the Turnbull A.C.'s hot on your heels, or relive the moment when the Baseball Furies dropped the ball, but remember what you get when you fuck with The Orphans.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Achilleus were another obscure bunch of Swedish kids playing the ol' hard rock/heavy metal in the '80s. They hailed from the bullshit town of Jönköping, a town best known for matchsticks and Agnetha Fältskog, the blonde one from ABBA. The a-side, "Allt Vi Begar" is a bouncy synth-enhanced rocker that is more of an AOR type number that dabbles in some metalisms. The b-side "Obergs Praster" is a bit wimpier with a kind of dancey back beat and glassy eighties guitars. Clearly Achilleus wanted to rock their way out Jönköping with this bit of commercially viable, and somewhat tame single. Well, that didn't happen, obviously, but this cool little record was left behind in the attempt and that is not a bad thing at all.
Monday, February 21, 2011
Any album with Lee Morgan, Bobby Hutcherson, Anthony Williams, and Jackie McLean is bound to be amazing, but then put these fertile talents under the direction of one of avant-Jazz's greatest composers, Grachan MoncurIII and this shit is through the roof tasty.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Despite having a history dating back to 1993 and almost a dozen releases, Sweden's Nastrond is not often talked about. The duo of Draugr and Arganas have comprised Nastrond from the start, their dedication to pure Black Metal is unparalleled, but still they remain fairly obscure. Toteslaut was their first album after a few demos and an EP. It was released in 1995 by Napalm Records. Sure, nothing here is as life-changing as say, Dissection or Abruptum, but definitely a thread in Sweden's kvlt BM history that should not be ignored.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Are you ready for some sickeningly infectious multi-culti baroque pop? Oh good. Yamasuki (sometimes called The Yamasuki Singers) were the brainchild of a pair of French producers named Kluger and Vangarde who scored a minor hit in their native land with a single called "Yamasuki," the duo decided to capitalize on that success with a full length LP of Japanese/French pop love called Le Monde Fabuleux des Yamasuki. In order to do this, they hired a Judo master to announce the songs and a Japanese children's choir to sing. The album evokes everything there is to love about Serge Gainsbourg, children's shows of the '70s and antiquated ideas about Japan. Not sure how anyone could not like this record, perhaps if you had no ears, no soul and were a total dick, as for the rest of you, this will bring a smile to your dour mug.
Friday, February 18, 2011
Here's some raging, puffy-shoe, thrash from Arizona. Atrophy hailed from Tucson, but were in keeping with the sort of thrash being lauded in the Bay Area at the time. Socialized Hate was the band's debut, it was released in 1988 by Roadracer Records. All the bases are covered here lyrically, with songs about drug addiction, religion, beer, serial killers...Socialized Hate doesn't stray far from the formula but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable, hell, it might even add to it. Bonus points for Bill Metoyer production and a classically cold war themed Bally Video Game style airbrush cover art.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Joe Henderson cut his teeth playing in the United States Army Band at Ft. Benning, Georgia. Upon his discharge he found himself in New York working under Kenny Dorham, who was quick to recommend the promising young sax player to other Blue Note heavyweights. Soon Henderson was a sought after sideman and clocked a staggering amount of hours in the studio with such greats as Grant Green, Andrew Hill, Bobby Hutcherson, Lee Morgan, Horace Silver, Freddie Hubbard, and countless others. In 1963 Blue Note heads Alfred Lion and Frank Wolff sent the 26 year old Henderson into the studio with Kenny Dorham, Butch Warren, Pete LaRoca, and McCoy Tyner (credited on the cover as "ETC" due to contractual hassles with another label) The result was his debut as a leader, a fantastic LP titled Page One. Henderson recorded a second album for Blue Note later the same year called Our Thing, and while it is great, it lacks some of the magic of the first session. Page One has some of Henderson's best material and two classic pieces from Dorham. Relax and Enjoy.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
S.N.F.U.'s 1984 album ...And No One Else Wanted To Play explained in fifty words: People lose their minds, don't be sexist to waitresses, money is bullshit, chicks coming on too strong, cars kill, drinking is dumb, a restaurant serves humans, life is hard, plastic surgery is gross, grave digging is a job, there are bodies in the wall, you are lazy, suicidal failure, war sucks. On a side note: the band got in trouble for the unauthorized use of the cover photograph by the terminally depressed queen of "slumming it" for art, Diane Arbus. Apparently her surviving family weren't very happy either.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
In 1970, the Australian band Tully, was comissioned to provide music for Paul Wistig's surf documentary Sea of Joy. The surfing magazine, Tracks, reviewed the film by saying "It is a world of puppy dogs and slow motion pony rides, of fish eye gnomes and laughing faces. The grown ups are very kind and every day is a holiday." That aptly describes the vibe of this album as well, a surreal Summer in the Southern hemisphere seventies. Stoney.
Monday, February 14, 2011
How about this to fuck up your Valentine's Day? Ildjarn is perhaps the most influential figure in the world of harsh, raw Black Metal, and Strength and Anger is his most caustic and memorable work. This unrelenting piece of filth was Ildjarn's third album and was released in 1996. Not for the casual listeners, dilett,antes, hobbyists, gawkers, or day people, this is pure undistilled venom from the blackest recesses of the forests of Black Metal.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Mr. Show was one of the greatest television shows of all time and it lasted only three seasons n the early '90s. Proof of it's genius can be seen in how many of its sketches premises have actually come to pass (blowing up the moon, goth-themed fast food restaurant..) It also launched the careers of Brian Posehn, Sarah Silverman, Paul F. Thomkins, and of course it's hosts, David Cross and Bob Odenkirk. Here's a collection of musical numbers from the show.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Here's another favorite NWOBHM EP, Bleak House's Lions in Winter. Bleak House's career can be traced back to 1972 when they operated under the name Rasputin and favored a more acid rock sound. Lions in Winter, however, is about as NWOBHM as a record can get. The opening track "Chase The Wind" sounds like slower Diamond Head. "No Reply" utilizes that slunky "city at night" groove and some lyrics about some sketchy bird that has run afoul of our protagonist, Graham Shaw. "Down to Zero" is a stomper that is sure to have all the punters down at the pub banging their heads and raising their fists. "Flight of the Salamander" is the ambitious closing epic instrumental. Lions in Winter gives a an accurate picture of what NWOBHM is all about in just under fourteen minutes. It is a great place to start if you are unfamiliar with the scene.
Friday, February 11, 2011
Trumpetizer Freddie Hubbard's third session for Blue Note resulted in this fine album with the hokey title, Hub Cap. On this 1961 album, Freddie is joined by tromboner Julian Priester, saxaphoner Jimmy Heath, drummist Philly Joe Jones, pianiologist Cedar Walton, and Larry Ridley on bass . The pinnacle of the album is the track "Plexus" written by Cedar Walton, but the album conatins four original Hubbard compositions. Hub Cap is also noteworthy for it's use of trombone for a three horn attack (like a triceratops.) So impressed with this album and instrumentation was Mr. Art Blakey that he enlisted Hubbard, and Cedar Walton for his Jazz Messengers, but Blakey opted to give the tromboning job to Curtis Fuller rather than Priester, sometimes Art was a dick like that. Hub Cap may not be Freddie's best album, but it is a benchmark in the career of one jazz's most innovative players.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Kallathon is a guy, not a band, and is part of the elusive Black Twilight Circle of absolutely mesmerizing Black Metal bands from Southern California. Before Drifting Into The Abyss is Kallathon's first tape and it is as great as Black Metal can be. So far the BTC hasn't failed. Essential kvlt materials.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
When you think of the '90s you may choose to remember flannel-wrapped dude bros from Seattle playing quiet, then loud, then quiet once again, but I want to remember the warriors with cryptic names such as RZA, GZA, Method Man, Raekwon, U God, Ghostface Killa, and Old Dirty Bastard that came together and made one of the coolest artifacts in hip hop, Enter the Wu-Tang 36 Chambers. Yeah, it's a simple trick mixing sketchy beats, classic Shaw Brothers martial arts flicks, and looped jazz flourishes, but you didn't think of it. And as if that wasn't enough, lyrically the Wu-Tang Clan brought a new twist to the tired old "I'll fuck you up" themes by pushing them past the ridiculous, around the corner, and down the block to the downright absurd. I am thankful for Wu-Tang and this record, without them, the '90s would have sucked even harder.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Some dirthead dirges from Philadelphia's Symphony of Grief. The band was formed in 1993 as Cerberus but soon changed the name to Symphony of Grief. After a couple of demos and a split 7" with like-minded Michigan mopers, Memorium, Symphony of Grief released this EP sometimes called Our Blessed Conqueror. These guys, like recent Hearse subjects Awakening, seem to sit in that nebulous area between doom and death metal. The first song toggles between blast beats and an Autopsy-like pummel. The use of a drum machine gives the record a Godflesh feel. Not entirely sure but these guys may have recently reformed, if so, I would be extremely interested to hear what they are up to.
Monday, February 7, 2011
Kraut rubbed a lot of people the wrong way when they came out. Perhaps it was the associations with MTV, their being ball-washed by Steve Jones, or the fact they had names like Davey Gunner and Johnny Feedback. I don't know, but I think as fine an album as An Adjustment To Society is, their sophomore LP for major label in disguise, Enigma Records, is infinitely more interesting. Whetting The Scythe came out in 1984 to mixed feelings and critical disinterest. Well fuck you, I like this album quite a bit. Okay, probably a bad idea to start your album with a luke warm cover of the old Larry Williams hit "Slow Down," I mean the Beatles kind of fucked that one up for everyone, right? However songs like "See It Clear," "Strongest Man," and "Juvenile Justice" are pretty solid numbers that kind of show an original and mature approach to hardcore that doesn't come off as ridiculous as , say Bad Religion's attempts to "progress." You get a couple of speedy rippers in the form of "NGRI" and "Flossing With an E String," and a couple of throwaways with "New Law" and "Pyramids." The album comes to a close with "Backstabber" a more emotive, almost Post Punkish tune with some "We used to be bros and then we grew apart" type lyrics. For all their posturing early on, Whetting The Scythe feels pretty sincere, which for a young punk band on their second album, is pretty unique. I know this album will never enjoy any sort of retro-cool by any means, but I love it so and will stand by it to the bitter end, which for Kraut came soon after this release.
Sunday, February 6, 2011
The cover alone, depicting a hand reaching from an open grave towards a sweet Marshall full stack, should be enough to send your ears into a tizzy of anticipatory delight, but wait, there's more. Truth & Janey's 1976 debut album, No Rest For The Wicked wastes no time in delivering the goods. Truth & Janey was the brainchild of Iowa-based guitarist Bill Lee Janey. The band kind of comes off like Grand Funk with their sideburn heavy blues rock. While not all the songs here are great, there is enough solid material and tones to satisfy the most discerning custom van owner.
Saturday, February 5, 2011
Finnish orthodox Black Metallists, Horna, have released quite a few records but it is Kohti Yhdeksan Nousua that stands out as the pinnacle of their most blackened expressions. It is a very efficient work that encompasses all Black Metalisms in a scant half hour run, blast beats, mid tempo headbanging riffs, melodic tremolo picked hooks, harsh vocalizing... They have logo that incorporates goats, inverted crosses, a pentagram, a three 666s, and even a candle. The thoroughness of Horna alone is enough to make them interesting, but they actually sweeten the deal with great songs and atmosphere. You may see it as generic, I see it as perfection. If you have a friend who has never heard Black Metal and wonders what it is about, Kohti Yhdeksan Nousua serves as a fine primer.
Friday, February 4, 2011
I think Jazz classics are here to stay on the Hearse, and the next offering comes courtsey of "The Sophisticated Giant," Dexter Gordon, the hippest Californian to grace Blue Note's illustrious roster. Before a embarking on a vacation to Europe that would last fifteen years, Dexter recorded two records for Blue Note within days of each other, they were GO and A Swingin' Affair, arguably his best work. GO is a flawless album that demonstrates perfectly Gordon's unique playing that is both forceful and smooth. It also doesn't hurt that he is joined by the a rhythm section comprised of some of the genre's best session men, Butch Warren on bass, Billy Higgins on drums, and Sonny Clark on piano. GO also features my personal favorite performance of "Love For Sale," the oft covered Cole Porter standard. Dexter himself claimed, up until his death in 1990, that GO was his favorite in his extensive and quality discography. I am inclined to agree, in fact it easily sits high on the list of one of the greatest hard bop records of all time. Hear for yourself.
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Destruction, and this record in particular, is almost enough to make me forgive Germany for certain transgressions in their past. I could write a tome on the cover alone: the clothes, the hair, the sunlight that comes either at the beginning or the end of a day of evil... but then there is the tunes, wild and unhinged, amateurish but so full of youthful thrashing exuberance.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
One of the better known and more sought after Japanese hardcore records, The Comes No Side is an enjoyable little rager of estrogenocidal fury from Tokyo. The Comes were one of the earliest bands playing hardcore in Japan and perhaps stood out due to the fact they were fronted by a fabulous babe. People will write off their second effort, Power Never Die, but they can swing from my nuts, it's a great record as well. Members of The Comes went on to form the raging Lip Cream.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
When posted Wigrid's Hoffnungstod album, a kind reader from Saarland sent the elusive demo, Ort Der Einsamkeit. This offering from one of Germany's best Black Metal artists is more raw and unforgiving than Hoffnungstod. This has been on my wishlist for some years. Not much has been heard from Wigrid in some time, but hopefully we haven't heard the last from the odd Teutonic hermit calling himself, Ulfhetnar. I guess there is a new Burzum album to chew on.