Modern Life is War - Midnight in America

Saturday at 8:40 AM

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"I feel like Modern Life Is War is one of those hardcore bands that gets tagged and filed as a success. In a similar fashion to With Honor, Comeback Kid and less so, Set It Straight, and 108, Modern Life Is War are releasing an LP on a large independent label after very positive responses to their previous LPs, My Love. My Way. and Witness. I'm not the biggest fan of My Love. My Way. It's a little too monosyllabic for me in its stripped down hardcore gesticulations. I appreciate how powerful they can be when they're using slow, heavy riffing against equally molasses drumming, but when I think of most of the hardcore music I truly love, I favor the double-time punk beats and swinging guitar over the crushing chords and slobbering tom-tom hits. And it was on Witness that Modern Life Is War struck gold by mixing their earlier power (The part "so what the fuck..." on "The Outsiders (aka Hell is for Heroes Part I)" or the entirety of "Marshalltown") with the faster, catchier guitar work and melodies (1:54 on "Martin Atchet") and exciting drumming ("John and Jimmy"). Now, they're releasing their third LP on Equal Vision, a label that has released albums from Coheed and Cambria, Bear vs. Shark, and The Fall of Troy, bands that all seem to be singular and bellwethers in their own rights. Modern Life Is War fits into the mix well being a hardcore band with tons of good cred coming from their crushing heaviness, yet enough mass appeal to be marketed to kids who are also excited for the new Fall of Troy album. That balance is almost too good to be true and bands that were similarly appealing like Set It Straight or With Honor have tended to break up shortly after delivering their purportedly flagship releases."

Ghoul - Maniaxe

at 6:31 AM

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"Holy crap! If anyone continues to compare Ghoul to Carcass they're stupid. In fact, anyone who continues to compare Ghoul to Carcass should be shot for being a lazy and incompetent fuckwad with no ear for metal, because aside from the vocals (be they nasty low growls or midrange sneers) this is a fucking blistering thrash metal attack like I haven't heard in quite a long time. The speed is there, complete with classic thrash picking patterns and hints of melody, there are tons of raging slow breaks, shredding solos, the works... Awesome. And what's even better is that this reminds me of classic American thrash - a sound that most contemporary bands have yet to successfully harness. I could definitely deal without the cheesy and unnecessary spoken vocals in "Ghoul Hunter", even if they do namedrop Anthrax and Megadeth, but pretty much all of the other songs are rippers, and the title track is so fucking badass that it practically makes up for everything. The cover of "What a Wonderful World" is pretty hilarious as well... who would've thought? The production is pretty nice. The guitar tone is damn near perfect, the bass plunks away in the background, and the drums aren't bad. They even have an 80's sort of sound to them - they're somewhat flimsy at times, but that fits believe it or not. I still think the guitars and bass need to dominate more, but it sounds very fucking good, so fuck it. The cover art is sort of reminiscent of Gwar, and the illustrations are all fucking awesome. But I honestly think the rest of the layout is weak just because it's sort of plain and doesn't fit in with the awesome lettering drawn on the front cover. I don't know. It's not a setback or anything, but it could be a hell of a lot better. Do you really need lyrical examples? All I'm gonna say is that "Boneless" combines the band's usual horror flare with skateboarding, so... choke on that shit! This is a great disc. I'd shit my pants if these guys would drop the humor and be a dead serious fucking thrash act, but whatever. I can't understand most of the vocals anyway, so I can deal with horror and gore as long as they continue to back it up with riffs like these! I really want to give this an 8/10, but weak tracks like "Ghoul Hunter" and "The End?" are a waste of time and really hinder the overall energy and impact that the rest of the album harnesses, making it a little bit frustrating to take in as a whole. This band keeps getting better and better, though. If they keep this up they'll rip everyone a new asshole or two the next time"

Going out for the day...

at 4:46 AM
Driving up to Phoenix to see some relatives. Wish me luck, as I hate driving on the highway. Fucking cars. I guess I'm going to try and crank some shit out before I leave.

Minus the Bear - Three Albums

at 1:41 AM
Highly Refined Pirates

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Menos El Oso
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Planet of Ice
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Casting Curses - Heartificial

Friday at 5:12 PM

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"There’s something to be said for a band that unabashedly wears its influences on its sleeve. Don’t think of it as style-biting, but as taking the best elements of several different bands and crafting them into a new and exciting project.

That is precisely what upstate New York’s Casting Curses have done with the release of their EP, Heartificial. The ferocious five-piece evokes memories of past hardcore juggernauts such as Turmoil and the Promise while adding enough new wrinkles to keep the two-song EP fresh and engaging.

“Hey Disbeliever,” the longer of the two songs at just over three minutes, is a crushing display that opens when a wave of feedback leads into crushing groove. The progression gets louder and louder until everything but the guitar riffs drop out completely; the riffing becomes quicker, the drums come back in, and singer Brian Kraus explodes with fury at the precise moment the bass drops out. The first minute alone makes it more than apparent how finely tuned this quintet really is, but it’s the frantic vocals that really raise the level of intensity. That frantic feeling is also represented lyrically, as the story’s protagonist goes through a range of feelings, unsure of where to settle.

The weeks fade the same, every party a losing game / And it’s not the cure I was hoping for, it’s not the door I was looking for / This could be my resurrection.”
Casting Curses air on the side of brevity with the second track, “Change the Lights,” and waste no time going full board. With a good mid-tempo groove to start and Kraus’ scathing delivery, Casting Curses establish a punishing rhythm. About halfway through the track, the vocals cut out briefly, only to come back in on a heavier, bass-driven groove. It’s those subtle but important switch-ups that keep these songs churning and keep the volume at 11.

A relatively young band, Casting Curses will have plenty of time and opportunity to forge a unique sound in hardcore, but for now, they’re plenty content with the sound of their arrival. "

This was an upload request and not half bad either.

Sledgehammer - Your Arsonist

at 3:29 PM

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"One of the biggest and loudest hits in the history of the NFL came courtesy of former Buffalo Bills linebacker Mike Stratton, on one Keith Lincoln of the San Diego Chargers. It was this hit during the AFL Championship game of 1964 that the famed “Stratton Scale” was born into Buffalo lore. This was the scale announcers would use to measure how loud or heavy a hit on a member of the opposing team's offense was. By this logic, it would not be hard at all to rate Sledgehammer’s Your Arsonist at an even ten.

Make no mistakes; this hardcore supergroup of sorts is loud, damn loud. This EP bursts straight off the line with “London’s Burning,” immediately pummeling you with an extremely loud combination of guitar, drums, and vocals. The project is fronted by ex-Integrity singer Dwid Hellion, and backing him are former members of such outfits as Liar, Conrgress, and Death Before Disco. While they may come from different backgrounds, their aim is simple: To make brutal and punishing hardcore that would grab you by the throat and never let go. The lightning quick combination of guitar and drums at the end of this song, combined with the sinister laughing in the background, is truly unrelenting.

Blast-beats, breakdowns and compliments aside, this is in fact a rather boring disc. All the creativity this band has to offer was actually put into the lyrics and liner notes, which are presented as a script, each of the EP’s four songs being a scene in that script. It’s definitely an interesting idea in what’s usually a genre devoid of them, but that creativity doesn’t translate quite as fluidly to recording.

But hey, there’s a fifteen-minute long hidden track to spice things up a bit, right?

Apparently not. I played this disc on at least 4 different formats, and the secret track that’s supposed to be there is nothing more than a vacuous space. Disappointing, for what could have been another element to an EP that grows dull and stale more quickly than I’m sure they’d have liked it to.

This EP is raw, loud, and punishing, and I’m sure everything else that they were aiming for when they recorded this. There’s nothing beyond that, however, and that’s why it falls flat in the less than 20 minutes it’s running for. Fans of the bands that Sledgehammer sprouted from will absolutely devour this, but there’s nothing to hold my interest for a third or fourth listen. Here’s to hoping this band's career will end faster than Ryan Leaf's. "

Skitsystem - Stigmata

at 3:18 PM

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"What’s up with Swedish bands and Skit? I can’t keep count of the number of Skitbands, while I can’t even think of one bandname containing "poep" or "schijt". Where the bandname might sound a bit immature, the issues the band addresses are serious: oppression, rape, racism... life in Sweden seems to be in no way better than in Holland. The only good thing about living on such a giant piece of shit like our world is that it makes some people angry, very angry, so angry the only thing they can do that will not get them in prison is start a raging band. These guys did just that, and released a respectable stack of records in the last 10 years.

Musically this isn’t anything new, but who expects anything original from a band like this? This is a wall of noise that last for a little over 30 minutes, fast old-fashioned crustcore along the lines of Avskum, Disfear, Totalitär. It rages, tears and burls, with a short guitarsolo or interesting bassline here and there to keep you interested. The only thing that bugs me is the production, who did the production and what band did he think he was producing? This sounds very clear and open, I guess any metalcore band would kill for a production like this, but it doesn’t fit Skitsystem. This must sound as least as filthy as the world we’re living in, you just have to hear rats and bugs crawling around and the bandmembers sipping their beers during the songs. When I looked in the booklet I was even more in doubt, Frederik Nordström, who also produced the first 3 Skitsystem records, produced this. He should know how to produce a record like this, what the fuck happened? But apart from that, they are pissed, I am happy, but I still like Gra Värld/Svarta Tankar better."

Sabertooth Zombie - Midnight Venom

at 3:10 PM

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"After lying in bed with scenery consisting of drifting ceilings and absent eyelids, this year can finally end with a night of sleep soaked "z"s. Over three hundred days spent and not many left to live (for 2006) and FINALLY Sabertooth Zombie drops Midnight Venom: eighteen tracks of metallic hardcore that sound like seventy-two hours of no sleep and snakes tonguing with broken tongues.

If you've been following Sabertooth Zombie since their initial demo dropped in 2004, you've been carrying around blue balls for two years. The wait was worth it. Instead of throwing together a bunch of tracks as an excuse to have a higher price and an excuse for a longer set, what we have here is a genuine full-length. The tracks flow together. Midnight Venom sounds like the boys of the North Bay put a conscious effort into the arrangement of songs. Hell, there's even an instrumental interlude - titled "Interlude" -track with echoing guitar notes. Unlike most punk bands that just make songs, Sabertooth Zombie writes songs that create atmosphere. Not an atmosphere that I'd like to live in, but one I'd like to dip into often.

Cover artwork of vipers drooling blood, posed to strike, that flow into business hands shaking exemplifies the feeling of this album: dark-gory punk/hardcore/metal sounds that combine social consciousness and fucked up imagery into one abrasive/hooky product. The simple and solemn full moon on the back of the album is rad as well. As good as this looks on the CD case, it would look a lot better on a 12" release (HINT HINT).

Five songs are re-recorded for Midnight Venom. They are "Shoes," "Fragments," "Self Mouth," "Get Bent," and "Giant." As good as these songs are, having new songs in their place would've been better, especially for "Fragments," which has been on two previous releases. But, for songs "Shoes" and "Self Mouth" that were only available on the split with North Bay's short-lived Jumpstreet, for many this will be a first listen opportunity. And for a bigger but, Midnight Venom contains thirteen new songs so this minor complaint is even smaller."

Bear with me.

at 4:11 AM
I'm messing with this page, and I'm not sure when I'll be done. Soon, though.

Done for now.

Foo Fighters - S/t

at 1:48 AM

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"Performed entirely by Grohl, except for additional guitar work from Afghan Whigs frontman Greg Dulli on the song “X-Static,” Foo Fighters exhibits a bracing can-do spirit in keeping with Grohl’s do-it-yourself recording style. Although he may be a one-man band, Foo FightersFoo Fighters also alludes to external conflicts that Grohl wants to overcome. With its fighter’s attitude, Foo Fighters doesn’t feel insular or malnourished. Instead, on dynamic, assertive rockers like “I’ll Stick Around,” Grohl sounds like he’s tearing down the walls, stating his independence and claiming his own turf. “I’ll Stick Around” wields an antagonistic streak – the chorus goes “I don’t owe you anything/I don’t owe you anything” – but some of the rest of responds to the pressure of living up to what Nirvana achieved by simply constructing one perfect rock song after another.

A Surprisingly Melodic Voice

But while it might have been assumed that Foo Fighters would contain its share of up-tempo rockers, the real surprise is how confidently melodic the album is as well. From the pop-leaning ballad “Big Me” to the jaunty, silly “For all the Cows,” Grohl mixes up his assault, throwing sonic changeups that both cleanse the pallet and vary the album’s approach. Also unexpected is Grohl’s vocal range, showing vulnerability on the towering “Floaty” and genuine weariness on the aptly-titled “Exhaustion,” which builds to several furious guitar blowouts. We knew he could scream, but as he proved on Nirvana’s hushed MTV Unplugged in New York, he can actually sing, too. Foo Fighters allows him a great showcase for that voice.

A Little Filler

The second half of Foo Fighters contains some mild filler. “Weenie Beenie” is such a mindless cavalcade of big riffs that it feels less like a song and more like the sort of background music pumped into sports arenas to get the fans fired up. Equally, “Wattershed” is a spastic two minutes of anguished yelps and desperate guitar shredding that sounds like Grohl’s nod to his roots in punk bands. Neither song drastically detracts from Foo Fighters as a whole, but their deletion would have made for an almost flawless record.

Instantly Compelling

Foo Fighters may not be as distinctive as Nirvana’s best work, lacking the incisive lyrical detail that made Cobain a legend, but as a collection of instantly compelling songs, it has few peers. Dave Grohl has walked out of the ashes of a terrific band and started all over again. One of the great things about Foo Fighters is how he makes that transition seem effortless. "

Souldside - Less Deep Inside Knees

at 1:45 AM

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Spazz - La Revancha

at 1:02 AM

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Power Violence

Jedi Mind Tricks - Visions of Ghandi

at 12:57 AM

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"Jedi Minds Tricks are an underground rap duo from Philadelphia, PA, and they are angry. Maybe they aren't actually angry people, but if we as listeners are to take cues from their lyrics, they ain't nuthin' to fuck with. However, their form of violence and aggression doesn't come from ultra-sparse beats or "gangsta" lyrics, but from an odd mix of sampling dramatic movie speeches, sampling famous symphonies, and spitting allusion-saturated pseudo-intellectual lyrics with the utmost hatred and disgust with the humanity, other rappers, generally, the world around them. This highly dystopian lyrical stance employs violence, anti-homosexuality, and really anything negative to get their point across as aggressively as possible.

However, Visions of Gandhi, though in a lot of ways their most a forward and animalistic album lyrically, is a much more diverse and withdrawn album musically. The typical Jedi Mind Tricks uses a lot of overly dramatic devices such as sampled classical music (e.g. Mendelssohn) or monologues from violent movies (e.g. Boondock Saints). They also tend to have smooth guitar for the lighter moments on the CD to contrast that against the darker more symphonic moments. Here, while we still get plenty of strings and horns, and plenty of guitar too, there's a wider diversity of sampled style here.

Hour of Penance - Pageantry for Martyrs

at 12:51 AM

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"One of the most unique and coriaceous Death Metal bands on the Italian soil delivers its second studio effort after a regular two-year absence, which they had spent promoting their debut album "Disturbance". Most significantly, "Pageantry for Martyrs" showcases some substantial line-up changes, namely youth guitarist Giulio Moschini replacing Francesco De Honestis, and Alex of Necrotorture fame filling in since the sudden departure of founding singer Mike Viti, and quickly turning from a last-minute addition into a permanent member. Bass duties on the record were performed by both guitarists right before Silvano Leone joined in.

Be aware that Hour of Penance is not one of those bands willing to re-invent its own sound on each new release: they advance by progressive adjustments, and mean to show with each recording how imperfect the previous one was. As for the songwriting quality and influences, nothing is left over from "Disturbance", so you can still expect the high-paced blend of modern Death Metal styles with a glance at some older pioneers, though their original Deicide-ish backbone is slowly drifting away.

Typically, each song displays at least one of their singular influential styles, spanning from late Deeds of Flesh and Hate Eternal on the opening track, to the unfailing Immolation mid-paced power in "End of Relief"; from a reference to post-Barnes Cannibal Corpse on "Naked Knife Absolution" and early Sinister on "Exiled Innocence", to a surprising Vader-like turn on the closing "Egomanisch". Still, songs like "Far Beyond Humiliation" are there to prove that nothing from "Disturbance" was lost.

The album's clean production quality adds up by correcting the flaws on the previous disc such as the small bandwidth reserved to guitar solos. The vocals delivered by Alex are efficient and clearer than his predecessor, and perfectly fit the band's musical and lyrical style, expressing their discomfort for this world in turmoil, with a touch of sci-fi literature.

In a few words, "Pageantry for Martyrs" is NOT meant to change anyone's mind about Hour of Penance, unless you were expecting them to refine what they had previously done. If you let yourself go with the flow of the many worthy bands that spawned overseas (Vile, Disgorge(US) etc.) and across Europe over the last few years, then Hour of Penance is Italy throwing its two cents into this modern Death Metal fire pit. My rating reflects the chance for them to make it even better someday."