torsdag 29 september 2011

Face the feast of powder

Death Grips - Exmilitary
2011, Third Worlds

Brutal, noisy, weird avant garde hiphop. That's what this is. Dunno who made it, dunno why and I don't really care. All I'm concerned with is this: It kills! The scope of my knowledge of hiphop/rap has never been what you would call encyclopedic or even vaguely moderate. Sure I've listened to the sassy swinging sounds of the Beasties, the politically potent pontifications of Chuck D and his soul brethren, the equally politically laced lamentations and litanies of Consolidated and maybe a few others, but in all honesty, rap never really did it for me. That is, until I heard the Exmilitary mixtape by Death Grips (I have no clue why it's called a mixtape. To me it's an album, but hey what the hell do I know?). This is some whole other level of shit right here. This is downright evil. The beats are huge and oftentimes kind of odd and the music, most likely collected and scavenged from hundreds of places, is fierce and not a little bit disturbing, in a Whitehouse/Sutcliffe Jügend kind of way. Not that this is anywhere near any power electronics kind of territory, it's just that it's noisy and unhinged and more than just a bit bipolar. As are the vocals and the lyrics, that are often like stream of consciousness style rantings and at times really confrontational and aggressive. Check out the band's (is this even a band?) website for free downloads, webstore, videos and lyrics. DON'T miss this, whatever you do.

onsdag 28 september 2011

Dead stare for life

Low Threat Profile - Product # 1
2010, Deepsix Records

Low Threat Profile - Product # 2
2011, Deepsix Records

Damn. This must be some of the most intense shit ever to be pressed on vinyl since Corrosion Of Conformity released their Animosity lp, way back when. That album scared the living shit out of my younger self. It scared me and yet it drew me in like some evil black vortex. I remember being shocked to the core of my being and totally blown away by Mike Dean's fang-drippingly rabid and barely human vocals on Prayer, Holier and Kiss Of Death; how he snarled and raged like some sick cornered animal; how the music was the most viscious, bass throbbing, distorted nightmare sounds I had ever come across in my fifteen years of living. It was some seriously sick twisted shit and my younger self was so not ready for that.
This was in the good old days of vinyl records, lyric sheets and proper album covers and attention spans that spanned... well, more than just a few bars on each track - and back then you actually made an effort to listen to the albums you bought, were given or had stolen. So even though Animosity was a horrific fucking soundtrack to a nightmare I stuck with it and learned to love the album and began regarding it as one of the absolute top ten albums of my life. As I still do. What still resonates with me now, a whole bunch of decades later, is the unrelenting force and raw primal rage the album displays; it's like diving into some completely alien mindset where the main psychological driving forces are stark paranoia and mind numbing fear. It's a journey deep into some unknown dark, humid abyss, where there is no light at the end of the tunnel, no reprieve from the weight of the darkness around you, compressing your lungs, slowly choking you. It's that fucking good.

Just like these two records by Low Threat Profile. They are the epitome of what hardcore, in my opinion, is all about. Raw, undiluted, unbridled emotional turmoil. These two releases are like miniature nukes, containing short, wicked fast bursts, extremely well executed, of feral, raging hardcore. The band comprises a veritable whos's who of power violence veterans and hardcore notables and these guys bring the thunder way beyond any of my preconceieved notions or expectations. Product # 1, being a seven inch, contains eleven songs while the lp (Product #2) contains fifteen and together they make up a discography, even though it's short so far, that utterly annihilates everybody else in the game today. Except maybe for Dead Language, who they share members with. There is so much to take note of here: the production, which is clean and crisp, and, though perhaps a bit on the dry side (on the lp), very open and suitably heavy; the to-the-pointness of the songs themselves, short, aggressive but always fully developed with great bass runs underneath the guitars; the amazing vocals of Andy Beattie, that are some of the best in the history of hardcore, oftentimes sounding eeriely like Tom Araya; as well as the intensity and atmosphere of the music. It is obvious these cats have been doing this for a while and aren't some arrogant newb knowitalls. The songs on these two releases are so forceful I get an adrenalin rush everytime I listen to them. The songs are all very distinct and memorable which in itself is a rare thing in this genre where songs have a tendency to blend together and sound sort of the same in the end. None of that shit here though. I can't say enough positive things about these two records. If you like your hardcore fast, primal, sweaty, angry and vaguely mentally unstable, Low Threat Profile should be the fix you've been jonesing for.

And yes, I'm aware that I've mentioned C.O.C as an opener in a review of a band with members from Infest, No Comment, Iron Lung, Lack Of Interest etc two times now, but it just worked out that way and I truly don't give a damn and besides, Animosity is one of the best hardcore albums ever recorded, so there.

söndag 11 september 2011

I see the evil in your savage heart as it cuts right through the sky

Today Is The Day - Pain Is A Warning
2011, Black Market Activities

Today Is The Day is back with a new album, new members and, partially, a new sound. The band has almost completely sloughed off any remnants of the psychedelic, progressive noiserockiness they've become known for and, to a certain degree, trimmed down the material into more traditional rock n roll structures. This makes for some - probably intentionally - bizarre effects, like the very AC/DC-esque riffage in the title track or the anthemic cock-rock chorus in The Devil's Blood. At the same time this trimming has opened up the playing field for a slightly more commercial sound, that is perhaps more accessible than some (or most) of their older stuff. Also there are some much calmer, somber - almost ballad-like - tracks on the album, one of which, titled This Is You, for some reason reminds me a lot of Tom Petty And The Hearbreakers. But, just because my overall impression of the album is one of restraint that doesn't mean the band has somehow lost their way artistically or musically. Not at all. Quite the opposite. The music on Pain Is A Warning is throwing off sparks in every concievable direction, positively seething with barely contained rage and with its paranoid gaze set on external enemies and internal demons alike. The album never goes off the extreme deep end like the band did on Kiss The Pig and Axis Of Eden, but lyrically everything still oozes with anger and a holehearted disgust towards the majority of humankind. I have a feeling Steve Austin wouldn't mind a serious culling of the human herd if it ever came up for discussion.

But wether this percieved misanthropy is only lyrical posturing, satire or heartfelt sentiment it is quite clear that Austin is one of the best song writers in the scene today. I find myself smiling like a rabid dog, my head bobbing in syncopation, every time I hear the Satyricon-esque riffs in the opening of Wheelin' or the epic Manowar-like grandeur of Slave To Eternity. This is vintage TITD only with the excess fat trimmed away, the vision more acute and the execution more precise. There is still some time before I've managed to completely digest the album but I have a feeling PIAW will be of of this year's top releases.