Monday, March 5, 2007

Acid Bath - The Demos 1993-1996

Acid Bath
The Demos 1993-1996

This record is a posthumous collection of demo from one of America’s greatest bands. The “Hymn of the Needle Freak” demo, recorded before Acid Bath signed with Rotten Records, composes the bulk of the material here. The Demos album also features early versions of three songs from “Paegan Terrorism Tactics” and a haunting version of “The Bones of Baby Dolls” recorded at vocalist Dax Riggs’ house in 1994.

Acid Bath is my favorite band, so I may be coming at this from a different perspective. When I listen to the Demos album, I can’t help but compare and contrast it to “When the Kite String Pops”, their 1994 masterpiece.

All of the “Needle Freak” songs made it on to “When the Kite String Pops” and many of them were played faster as demos. This works for songs like “God Machine” and “Dope Fiend”, but it hurts “Scream of the Butterfly.”

I’m not sure if it’s the recording process or not, but Riggs’ singing voice sounded better on “When the Kite String Pops.” I bring this up because Audie Pitre’s, Sammy Duet’s, and Riggs’ own harsh vocals sound the same.

It’s interesting to hear the slight changes in the arrangements of the songs from demo to album versions. None are changed drastically, but Riggs’ did change a few lines of lyrics in “Jezebel.” I happen to prefer the demo version in this case.

The layers of guitar effects on “When the Kite String Pops”, which must have been added by producer (and DRI guitarist) Spike Cassidy, are not present on the demos. The effects contribute to the atmosphere of that album and are sorely missed here.

The demo version of “The Bones of Baby Dolls” is hauntingly beautiful. In retrospect, this may have been a precursor of things to come with latter-day Deadboy and the Elephant Men. The three songs that would find their way on to “Paegan Terrorism Tactics” hardly sound different from their album versions.

It’s a crying shame that such a great band had such a limited musical output. They are missed. R.I.P. Audie.

Here's the promo video for Acid Bath's song "New Death Sensation".

Will Haven - El Diablo

Will Haven
El Diablo

I hate labels. Sometimes, they’re appropriate (CANNIBAL CORPSE is nothing other than death metal), but they’re often misused. Will Haven is a band that is often mislabeled. They’re equally influenced by metal and hardcore, but they’re not metalcore (not what metalcore means in 2007). They’re emotional, but not emo or screamo.

When El Diablo was released back in 1997, Will Haven bridged the gap between the DEFTONES and EARTH CRISIS. Now, El Diablo will forever be linked to the mid-90s metalcore sound. Maybe that’s alright.

In the years since its release, many scam artists (nu-metal and screamo alike) have stolen from El Diablo. The thieves are missing one key ingredient. Will Haven understood how to be rhythmic, melodic, and heavy all at the same time. The scam artists were generally one of the three; often to miserable results. This is not Will Haven’s fault.

You’ll be hard pressed to find a more brooding audio diatribe that “Stick Up Kid”, the album’s first song. Enough time has passed. It’s okay to get reacquainted with this old friend. Speaking of which, Will Haven has reunited (without vocalist Grady) and a new record is on the way.

Here's the promo video for Will Haven's song "Carpe Diem".


The Minutemen - What Makes a Man Start Fires?

The Minutemen
What Makes a Man Start Fires?

This is probably the best non-Black Flag album released by SST. Despite all of their personal tensions, The Minutemen were one hell of a tight band. No one has been able to recreate what they did, no matter how hard the Chili Peppers try.

The concise yet adventurous songwriting style of The Minutemen allows them to cram more solid material into one song than most bands can put on an entire album.

“Pure Joy” is the best song on the album. The three players are playing three separate lines as one unit. It’s simply fantastic and “Bob Dylan Wrote Propaganda Songs” may be the truest and funniest song title in human history. Why don’t you own this already?

Here's the trailer to "We Jam Econo", a documentary about the Minutemen.

Blood for Blood - Revenge on Society

Blood for Blood
Revenge on Society
Victory Records

I can appreciate what’s going on lyrically, but lyrics alone don’t make a record great. If you’re reading this magazine, you probably seek revenge on society too. Unfortunately, “Revenge on Society” is only half of a great album. Blood for Blood play hardcore in the tradition of the Boston and NYC scenes, but they too often rely too heavily on a sound cultivated by others.

Blood for Blood are at their best when they pick up the pace, like the song “A Bitch Called Hope”, or when they slow down the tempo to a soul-searing pace, like on “Evil in the Brain.” The band fails during their mid-paced songs, like “You’re Still a Paper Gangster.”

Blood for Blood’s rhythm section betrays itself when the players simply back up White Trash Rob’s riffs instead of laying down a cool foundation for a song. This absence of rhythm is most apparent on “Die Laughing” and “Shut My Eyes Forever.” Ironically, Paper Gangster has a great rhythm and pedestrian riffs. They can’t win for losing.

That’s not true, because when Blood for Blood are on, they’re fantastic. “Wasted Youth Crew” is the best song on the album. It has a pounding rhythm, great riffs, and lyrics that reflect the rage of America’s underclass.
Despite its flaws, “Revenge on Society” is worth tracking down if you have not heard it before. Just don’t expect “Victim in Pain” part two.

Here's Blood for Blood playing "Revenge on Society", "Paper Gangster", and "Soulless", all from the "Revenge on Society" album, recorded live at the Homebase in Wilkes-Barre, PA in 2001.

Blood For Blood - Revenge on Society


Infest - Mankind

Deep Six Records

The original kings of west coast power violence return, sort of. The Mankind 10” is a reissue, by Deep Six Records, of the Mankind 7” with several comp. tracks added. My copy is on white wax. Take that, record nerds!

Infest played power violence, a no-frills style of punk rock that effortlessly switched sludgy riffs and thrashing blasts. No recording tricks here; just imagination and a poor disposition.

I love Dave Ring’s bass tone on Mankind. When you can convey heavy and menace with your amp at the same time, you’ve done something right.

Far all of Infest’s straight edge and equality advocacy, they don’t forget how to rock. This is something most political bands can’t pull off, but that’s just the thing. Infest was a punk band with socio-political lyrics, but politics never got in the way of them being heavy. Check out the song “Just Act Blind” if you don’t believe me. Deep Six will be releasing an Infest discography CD soon.

EDIT: The DL link posted below contains the 7" recording and not the 10" recording.

Infest - Mankind


Skinless - Miscreant

Hater of God

The result of their first recording session since the “Foreshadowing Our Demise” album, the “Miscreant” EP is a snapshot of Skinless in a transitional period. “Miscreant” was recorded with drummer George Torres, who would soon be replaced by Origin’s John Longstreth, only to return back to the band a few years later. This 7” also marked the first changes to Skinless’ patented brutal, guttural death metal sound.

Not counting the intro and outro tracks, three songs can be found on “Miscreant.” The demo versions of “Deathwork” and “Miscreant” are here, though both songs would later appear on “From Sacrifice to Survival.” The song “Condensing” is 20 seconds worth of riffs from “Foreshadowing Our Demise.”

For the uninitiated, Skinless play brutal death metal that is both rhythmic and heavily percussive, with humorously bent lyrics. It’s unfortunate that Torres didn’t play on “From Sacrifice to Survival”, because his most fierce drumming is on this EP. Noah Carpenter plays his guitar as a lead instrument although he rarely solos or plays leads. This is likely a result of Skinless’ incorporation of hardcore into their death metal mechanics. Think of it as a reverse Full Blown Chaos.