Monday, November 26, 2007

Frightmare - Midnight Murder Mania

Midnight Murder Mania

From the unlikely death metal mecca of Portland, Oregon comes the debut LP from Frightmare. Maniac Neil, a legend in the PDX death/grind scene, is the lone mastermind behind Frightmare and he’s really into the gory death/grind of the early Earache days. Think Carcass and Entombed, both before 1993. He’s also heavily inspired by the slasher movies of the 1980s, which fuel most, if not all, of the lyrics.

Frightmare is not a modern death/grind band in terms of technique. First, the band isn’t all that polished. “Thorn in Their Side” could be stand to be tightened up, but that’s part of the charm. This band has the same old-school feel as Pungent Stench, Mortician, and Repulsion. Some of his leads may be weak, but Maniac Neil knows how to write a riff. My only complaint concerning the music on “Midnight Murder Mania” is the lack on imagination on some of the songs. Some songs mirror the influence too closely and the listener can easily identify the Carcass parts, for instance. It’s a minor gripe, but it’s still legitimate.

Portland is not only home to killer metal bands like Frightmare, Ghoul, Lord Gore, and Bung, but it’s also home to a number of comic book creators, including Spider-Man author Brian Michael Bendis. Frightmare supports the whole PDX scene by having two artists from Portland’s “Tales from Uranus” comics to do all of the album’s artwork. Very cool of them.

An LP version of “Midnight Murder Mania”, of sketchy origins I would guess, has turned up on store shelves lately. I saw one down at Sound Exchange not too long ago. Vinyl purists will want to jump on this quickly, since Razorback (unfortunately) doesn’t press vinyl anymore.

In short, this record gives you 10 tracks of slasher-flick-inspired, Portland gore-grind radness; plus a pretty brutal cover of “Devil lock” by The Misfits. Beware the PDX Ripper!

EDIT: Frightmare themselves contacted me to let all of you know that Ghoul are in fact from Oakland and Tales from Uranus comics are based in Illinois. Sorry for any confusion!


Hate Eternal - I, Monarch

I, Monarch

Hate Eternal’s 2005 effort “I, Monarch” is still the fierce, blasting death you’ve come to know and love, but Erik Rutan must have been possessed by the blast beat demons when he wrote this one; even more so than usual. This album reaches grindcore velocity, but make no mistake. Hate Eternal are meh-tul and don’t you forget it.

Once again, Derek Roddy’s drum performance proves that he is the man, even if some of this album’s later tracks get repetitive. This isn’t an issue for “To Know Our Enemies”, the best song on the album. If you’ve never heard this band before, download that track and check them out. You won’t be disappointed.

Apparently, Rutan wants you to know about Zero Karma, which is some band that he loves. Hate Eternal samples Zero Karma on the song “I, Monarch”, former members make vocal appearances, and he thanks them about 20 times inside the liner notes. Okay, I get it. I’ll check them out.

Here's the video for the title track off "I, Monarch."

Monday, November 5, 2007

Municipal Waste - Hazardous Mutation

Hazardous Mutation

Possibly the most fun band on the planet right now, Municipal Waste have blazed the trail for other 80s-minded crossover lovers to follow and “Hazardous Mutation” is the playbook that those pretenders will follow. The Waste are cool dudes, their live shows are a blast, and they’re constantly psyched to be able to thrash for a living.

If you’ve never heard them before, Municipal Waste plays crossover thrash in the vein of Wermacht and DRI. “Hazardous Mutation” is the band’s Earache debut and its almost too rad for humans to handle. The album is 15 tracks of killer retro thrash never sounds old or dated. It’s not a put-on and it’s nice to see a band having fun again. Watch out for the terror shark!

Here's the promo video for "Unleash the Bastards", off of "Hazardous Mutation."

Drowningman - Busy Signal at the Suicide Hotline

Busy Signal at the Suicide Hotline
Hydra Head

I remember back in 1998 (the year of this album’s release) when Drowningman was constantly being compared to Botch. While not incorrect, I don’t think it’s an appropriate comparison either. Drowningman and Botch were both on HydraHead at the same time and both played acrobatic hardcore, but Drowningman was it’s own band with it’s own voice.

The album’s title track rocks hard. The lyrics of vocalist Simon Brody are written entirely in first-person perspective (minus two songs), which gets old. But they’re demented and Brody drops hate, so it’s cool.

Drowningman seems to take a stream-of-conscious approach to songwriting. As disjointed and angular as the recording can be, everything flows together smoothly, except when the drums are too loud (in spots) and overpower the other instruments.

The album’s cover art, assembled by Isis guitarist and Hydra Head founder Aaron Turner, features numerous screen captures from the legendary Twin Peaks series. I’m not sure that I get the connection between that show and this album, but that’s okay. “Busy Signal” is a great album that the listener doesn’t have to “get” to enjoy. Also, I absolutely love the guitar tone on this album. Even during the quieter, calmer portions for songs, they still sound heavy.

Here's the promo video for "White People are Stupid" by Drowningman.

Anodyne - The Outer Dark

The Outer Dark
Escape Artist

Anodyne plays fierce, technical hardcore in the vein of Rorschach and Burnt By the Sun, but not quite as spastic as the previously mentioned bands. Anodyne’s album “The Outer Dark” has the same droning quality found on a large number of Hydra Head Records releases. This combination of influences seem to occur primarily in musicians from the northeastern U.S. Others try to copy it, but they can never quite pull it off. Maybe it’s the drastic winter weather that produces such a furious sound. If you like heavy, and by reading this I assume you do, then check out the closing riff on the song “Form Is Emptiness.” It’s beyond devastating.

An enjoyable facet of Anodyne’s mystique is the listener’s inability to accurately pin down exactly where this band is going, musically speaking. For instance, former Madball guitarist Matt Henderson helped to engineer “The Outer Dark”, but no traces of “tough-guy hardcore” can be found on the record, in spite of the potential influence from Henderson’s former band. One may have nothing to do with the other, but the temptation is there. Either way, I find the enigmatic nature of Anodyne appealing.

The songs on “The Outer Dark” are precise, if nothing else. “Knives” is a great example of Anodyne’s skilled playing. This precision is also applicable to the band’s lyrics. Much like Mastodon, their lyrics are abstract, repetitive (in a good way), and to-the-point.

Once again, PA’s Escape Artist Records outdid themselves in the packaging and design of this LP. The marble-gray swirled vinyl is as beautiful as the cover art.

“The Outer Dark” may not be for everyone, but those who appreciate rock music with an adventurous spirit are encouraged to check out this band. Something I’ve always appreciated about hardcore is the diversity of the music produced within the scene. Anodyne doesn’t easily fit into any mold, which is probably why I like them.


Hatred Surge - debut EP

debut EP
625 Thrashcore

The mighty Hatred Surge is a one-man, Despise You-worshipping, grind-hate machine from Houston, Texas. No drum machine falseness here. Alex Hughes (UNT student, ex-MGR, sometimes Insect Warfare member) plays every instrument and does the vocals on this 9-minute-long debut.

What does it sound like? Lightning fast grindcore countered with terrifying power violence dirges. Alex is on a one-man mission (literally!) to bring back the feel of 90s DIY grind and power violence. If you love Despise You, Napalm Death, Rotten Sound, and any other band of the ilk, then go get this now!