Saturday, September 26, 2009

September Countdown, plus EHG EP

It's the end of month, so that sounds like as good as time as any to run down the most popular downloads of the last two weeks. Stay tuned at the end of the post for something pretty rad.

1. Earth Crisis - To the Death

Earth Crisis continues to lead the pack. To the Death was the most popular download of the summer and it's shaping up to be the most popular of the year, adding another 112 DLs to its total.

2. Cypress Hill - Greatest Hits from the Bong

Posted back in April, Cypress Hill laid dormant for months but Greatest Hits from the Bong has sprung to life with 75 downloads in the last half of this month.

3. Gummo - soundtrack

The Gummo soundtrack has just missed the last few countdowns but an additional 63 downloads pushed it to the #3 spot.

4. Assuck - Anticapital

Assuck's Anticapital consistently makes the countdown. With 54 more downloads, it retains the #4 position from the end of the summer.

5. Rorschach - Autopsy

Like the Gummo soundtrack, Autopsy has been barely missing the countdown for months but 50 downloads in two weeks put it over the top.

Since it's the weekend, here's some EyeHateGod. It's the three-song EP 99 Miles of Bad Road, featuring one of my favorites, "Jackass in the Will of God."

99 Miles of Bad Road

EyeHateGod - 99 Miles of Bad Road


Friday, September 25, 2009

An Interview with Eric of Torture Garden Pictures Company

Eric, owner and proprietor of Torture Garden Pictures Company, released high-quality, DIY records for years before relocating to Houston this summer. Now that he calls the Bayou City home and immersed in the burgeoning GCHC movement, he's got even more projects on the way. I recently chatted with Eric, via e-mail, to discuss all things brutal.

No Funeral: What spurred the creation of Torture Garden Picture Company? Were you involved in any bands, labels, or other projects prior to TGPC?

Eric TGPC: Torture Garden Picture Company was created solely to release the INPITE one sided 7". I was in a band with the singer at the time and thought the material shouldn't be gathering dust unreleased. I was in a band called 13 S.O.S. which later changed its name to KERUM and I did a radio show called The Mongolian BBQ before starting the label.

No Funeral: The label started when you lived in Maryland. However, you recently relocated to Houston. What was it about Maryland that was bumming you out? What is it about Houston that is not bumming you out?

Eric TGPC: I've lived in Maryland ever since I moved to the US in 92 from Germany. I was bummed on their underground punk scene ever since I became involved with it in the late 90's. Apathy and bad taste seems to thrive there. I actually didn't see how positive and productive the underground scene could actually be until my old band KERUM went on a full US tour in 2003.

My move away from the East Coast has been overdue for years. Without shit-talking, I'll say that my confidence and trust of the MD/DC scene was broken beyond repair over three years ago. So far I see a higher caliber of bands here in Houston and a really fun gay bar scene!

No Funeral: The Torture Garden Picture Company features underground stalwarts like Machetazo, Frightmare, and Agathocles. You’ve also released material from bands like Mind of Asian, Coffins, and Brody’s Militia; bands that don’t neatly fit into the general preconceptions of metal or punk. What is the motivation or driving pathos behind the records you produce? Is it a matter of being a fan, feeling that these bands deserved to be heard, or is it something else/more?

Eric TGPC: I'm glad you used the term "features" when describing my label's relationship to bands. Too many times you hear someone say bands "on" this or that label. That makes it sound as if a label OWNS the band...

I'm a fan first and foremost. I think most people involved in the underground scene likes more than just one sub genre of metal or punk. Hardcore, grind, thrash, doom, powerviolence, whatever... When I first started the label I mainly just wanted to help friends get their bands' record out. There had seemed to be some strange barrier at the time preventing bands from releasing vinyl themselves. It was before the use of computers and CDrs made record pressing more accessible. Sometimes I'll have an idea for a record that I'd personally love to have and start from there. Sometimes I'll hear CD only release and think "This would kill on vinyl!" Most times though, I'll be contacted by the band itself asking me for help or wanting to work with me. There are only a few releases I regret being involved with, but I did what I could the help the band out at the time.

No Funeral: You mentioned the apprehension of DIY bands to release their own vinyl. I want to know not only what you attribute to that behavior but how you make the TGPC releases so spectacular. The ones that I own all have tri-colored vinyl, glossy inserts, and an overall aesthetic that major labels like Roadrunner don’t have. How do you do it? Are you going broke doing it? What tips or tricks do you have to share?

Eric TGPC: I really don't know what it is about bands not releasing their own material. There are bands that have, of course, but I think it may be a problem of distribution maybe. The idea of "Ok, we've got 500 of these records now what do we do with them?"

I've never really though about it but major labels in stereotypically are not going to pay special attention to individual projects. When someone at a larger record company is laying out a record, deciding what color to press the wax on, or designing the center labels- they are at work on the clock at the moment. Is someone at Jack In The Box going to focus extra time and care with your chicken sandwich order? No, they want to get it done and on the next one. Plus there may be one employee talking to the pressing plant, another employee involved with the printing plant and so on. I think that is their main difference from smaller labels in general.

With my own releases, I get to focus on designing with the end result. I deal with every aspect of production- so in the end it rests on my shoulders. Cover art is important to me and I like to somehow tie in the color the record is pressed on. I'm color blind, so generally I'll take two or three colors from the cover art and use them thematically for the rest of the record.

Sometimes my ideas will come back to bite me in the ass. That tri-color record came out great in my opinion, but cost as much as an LP to press in the end. Unless I wanted to charge $9 for a compilation 7", there was no possible way of breaking even on that. Same with the packaging for the RAINBOW OF DEATH 10"... Don't get me wrong, profit and return does not factor into my decision process at all when I decide on a release. But it’s silly to be so wasteful. Since I started the label in 2002 I dare say that I have not encountered one penny of profit.

As far as tips go, I’d say to take you time and do it right. Don't bite off more than you can chew and don't expect to make money.

No Funeral: In addition to all the cool music, Torture Garden Pictures Company takes the aesthetics of vinyl such as artwork, colored vinyl, and packaging to new heights. Each release is top-quality. Why is releasing high quality material important to you? Do you demand this level of work from yourself, do you feel that the listener deserves a total sensory experience, or is it a little of both?

Eric TGPC: I hold myself responsible for how a release turns out. I'm a bit of a control freak which is why the label has always been a one man operation. I try to do the best I can with the small amount of money I have. There has certainly been releases I'm not proud of or have been unhappy with and unless it’s a co-release (which I hate doing for this reason) I've only myself to blame.

No Funeral: Have you ever considered running a festival like No Idea Records’ Gainesville Fest or Initial Records’ old KrazyFest?

Eric TGPC: No. I've only set up a handful of shows in the past and I don't think I'm very good at it. Plus, although it’s cool to see that many bands in one or two days- I think it’s almost impossible to treat bands properly. Most bands on those ridiculous fests don't even get paid enough to make it back home.

No Funeral: How has Houston treated you so far? You’ve come at a when the city is filled with cool music and venues. This was a pretty stagnant scene in the first half of the decade. What are you’re impressions of heavy music in the Bayou City?

Eric TGPC: I've already had a strong impression of Houston. I've worked on five projects with bands from the area prior to my move and already have a few things lined up. Venues come and go, just like anywhere. But what’s good about this scene is that most of the people I deal with have been involved with the underground for at least a decade. There is probably a bunch of fly by night jerks around, but I have yet to deal with any!

No Funeral: Texas has a long history of bands that don’t ever leave the state, neither to “make it big” nor even to be heard in other parts of the country. You mentioned the number of musicians in Houston that have decades of experience in the underground. Houston, more than any other city in Texas, has and has had so many bands (Aftershock, Dead Horse, Bamboo Crisis, etc…) that were content to stay here and start band after band. What do you make of this makeshift philosophy?

Eric TGPC: Texas is sort of an island in that respect, unaffected by what’s going on elsewhere. My first visit here opened a world of punk/metal that I didn't know existed. My friend Dan playing records and tapes by ripping bands I had never heard of!

Some of that may be attributed to the apprehension of bands to release their own material, or an apprehension to tour outside of the state. Back on the east coast you have New York, Philly, Baltimore, DC, Richmond and so on all in a line making small tours easy. You could drive the same distance here and not even be out of the state yet!

No Funeral: Are there any bands you have not worked with that you want to? When are you going to release an Insect Warfare record? You’re damn near the only label that hasn’t put one out?

Eric TGPC: There are too many bands to mention that I'd love to work with, but I have my hands full at the moment. Well, I love INSECT WARFARE and I actually have worked with them on three releases already (the Violent Noise Party compilation, the split cassette with THE KILL, and another compilation not released yet). I had a few plans for releases with Beau that all kind of fell through when the band split up.

No Funeral: Speaking of Insect Warfare, I completely forgot about the split cassette with The Kill. You also released the Warmaster demo on cassette (one of the best demos in years, by the way). Why cassettes? Is it a grim and cult gimmicky thing? Is it an honest love of the format? Is it a matter of “why not cassettes?”

Eric TGPC: I've always loved cassettes. Bands have consistently been releasing demos on tape and I think that is THEE format for demos in my mind.

With the split for THE KILL, it was just a realization of an idea I had years ago for a one minute split. 30 seconds on each side. The cassette is the only format that makes sense for that. It has sides to split the bands on (unlike CDs) plus its possible to adjust the amount of tape spooled as to not waste space (unlike vinyl). It was never a question of "why not cassettes"- the cassette was the only format that made sense.

No Funeral: Beau’s a bit of an odd bird, isn’t he? Even though Insect Warfare maybe gone, sort of, are you interested in working with any of his leather punk bands? KG Beasley and the Leather Violence are, umm, interesting.

Eric TGPC: Beau's great! Besides Dave from PLF, he's the first person I became friends with in Houston. I'd be down to work on any of his projects. I love the whole leather punk idea and I've been a fan of bondage and Tom Of Finland-esque imagery for years. I've actually used that imagery for a couple of my old bands in the past!

No Funeral: As the owner of an independent record label, what are your thoughts on downloading music? How is it impacting TGPC releases?

Eric TGPC: Downloading and MP3s have never concerned me. People that want records and the real deal with cover art/inserts will always want them. Downloaders would never have bought the record in the first place. I don't feel as if it impacts the label in the slightest.

No Funeral: What future releases do you have planned?

Eric TGPC: The VACANT COFFIN and NASHGUL LPs are both going to press this month. I'll be doing a compilation CD for the much overlooked Swedish band LEFT IN RUINS and I'll also be releasing another split EP for EMBALMING THEATRE, this time with GRIND CRUSHER from Norway. As far as Texan bands, expect records in the near future from WAR MASTER, THE DRUNKS and THE FILTHOUNDZ!

Chainsaw Justice rules, but...

In response to this review of the Magrudergrind S/T LP from Chainsaw Justice, I feel the need to defend the album. I post a short review of the album without much information the other day, so let me explain why the record doesn't suck.

The charge of Magrudergrind selling out to Willowtip is a tad ridiculous. Six Weeks released the LP so Magrudergrind still has some respect and affection for the grind underground. It's my assumption that the album's polished sound is the result of having resources and higher-quality recording gear available to them for the first time. They've got the toys and they're going to use them. Everyone does. The sound on the new record is not an attempt to court the MTV/Hot Topic crowd. If that's the case, the change in their sound would have been drastic and not a mere polish.

Chainsaw Justice compares the S/T LP to Napalm Death's Harmony Corruption. It was not meant as a compliment but it's a totally fair comparison. Magrudergrind has adapted/changed their sound to include influences from the more professional metal scene, namely Nasum and Trap Them. I enjoy this change and I think it brings a dynamic new element to their sound. Besides, some of us enjoyed Harmony Corruption.

With No Funeral, I evaluate bands and records on their musical content. Other aspects of a band's existence are given consideration but whether or not said band is bringing it on their instruments is the key, deciding factor between whether they suck or not. While I fully understand the points raised by Chainsaw Justice, I have no qualms with the new music produced by Magrudergrind and you shouldn't either.

However, if you're the grim and kvlt type who prefers raw, DIY hardcore, give Coke Bust a chance. It's straightedge thrash by members of Magrudergrind.

Coke Bust
Lines in the Sand
Six Weeks

Coke Bust - Lines in the Sand


More PxDx for you D.A.s

Pig Destroyer
Phantom Limb

Here’s another (un)healthy dose of Pig Destroyer – the single most popular band amongst the No Funeral readership. On Phantom Limb, Pig Destroyer has not deviated from the classic grind/thrash attack that made the band the biggest thing to come out of the D.C. suburbs since Patton Oswalt. However, this is the record where Blake Harrison of Hatebeak notoriety was added to the line-up as noise artist and electro-destruction specialist.

Guitar terrorist Scott Hull did mix in more Bay Area thrash riffs on Phantom Limb. There are riffs reminiscent of classic, early Metallica but ripped off by no means. Brian Harvey is still killing it on the drums, playing like a literate, non-transplanted Los Angelino version of Pete Sandoval (Morbid Angel, Terrorizer). The afore mentioned Harrison brings the only thing that Pig Destroyer was missing – devastating electronic manipulation and samples in the live setting.

The lyrics of JR Hayes are less existential and more direct on this album. They are closer in spirit to Prowler in the Yard but without the arching motif of a concept album. Example from “Lesser Animal”: “Got no use for psychiatry. I can talk to the voices in my head for free.”

Look at me; I’m rambling on and on about Phantom Limb and you’ve probably already got it downloaded. I expect nothing less than for this to be another giant “hit” on No Funeral. I can picture you all jamming this on your iPods during your next grave-robbing spree. What are you waiting for? Click on the link.

Pig Destroyer – Phantom Limb


Okay, call it a comeback.


OX is the comeback album for metalcore titans Coalesce. This isn’t a comeback in a they-were-never-successful-and-are-giving-it-one-more-shot, Anvil sort of way. No, this is a comeback in a they-never-should-have-split-up-in-the-first-place sort of way. This is around the 800th break-up and reunion for Jes, Sean, and the Nathans and (hopefully) they’re here to stay this time. Ten years after the release of 012: Revolution in Just Listening, Coalesce is here to put all the chumps and suckas in check.

Turning 30 hasn’t chilled out these dudes at all. The band that once put the physics in hardcore has now put their collective fist into the face of rock and roll and it’s about flipping time that someone did. Recorded in Kansas with long-time collaborator Ed Rose, OX is as angular and jagged as any past Coalesce material but the resulting album is more refined. Before anyone has a panic attack, this is not the result of any studio polish. If anything, they sound rawer now.

No, Coalesce is the rare band that is getting better with age. I love Mastodon but the riffs and the changes on OX puts Crack the Skye to shame. Everything on this record, every lick, every kick/snare pattern, everything; is written and played for maximum effect. OX molests your ears and buys you ice cream afterwards. This is one of the finest examples of musicianship in extreme music.

OX is the best Coalesce record since Functioning on Impatience; which puts it in the running for their best. All of you need this album. If any of you plan on attending November’s Fun, Fun, Fun Fest in Austin, this is THE band you must see.

Coalesce – OX


Thursday, September 24, 2009

I suppose this is the new sound for the new decade.


Suffokate is another band ensconced in the debate of the year for 2009: is this or is this not deathcore? On Oakland, I’m inclined to say no. I say no because I define deathcore as the amalgamation of death metal, nu-metal, and grindcore; bands such as Suicide Silence, Impending Doom, and Animosity. Suffokate doesn’t fit this description.

Like Emmure (who I reviewed last week), Suffokate plays no blastbeats, aren’t particularly fast, and draw heavy influence from the better nu-metal bands, specifically Slipknot, Korn, and Fear Factory. There’s nothing here that fits the bill of grindcore and the band doesn’t seem to be influenced by any hardcore at all.

This is not to say that Suffokate are a bad band. It’s simply that this isn’t a deathcore band. Personally, I’m sick of the deathcore rip-off artists that sprung up overnight to steal/leech from Suicide Silence and Job for a Cowboy. Plus, I’m intrigued by this new sound. It’s almost as if the second generation of nu-metal bands has arrived and they’re pretty good this time around. No chumps like Primer 55, Unloco, Union Underground, or Powerman 5000 are to be found. You know, jackasses that could barely play?

These young bands are taking the musical proficiency, technicality, and brutality of Cannibal Corpse, Behemoth, and Suffocation and mixing it with the previously mentioned Slipknot, Korn, and Fear Factory. I’m not opposed to this. Thus far, the results have been pretty cool. Suffokate plays this nu-metal/death metal hybrid and Oakland is an entertaining album. All I ask is that when the meeting is held to put a name on this new sound, please come up with something better than “nu-death.”

Suffokate - Oakland


Monday, September 21, 2009

Most pissed album of the year.

Six Weeks

I'm tired and it's time to go to sleep, so this is going to be quick. Magrudergrind rules. The self-titled LP is mad. The band doesn't play pure grind, and that's part of what makes it so awesome. Jason from Deadthyme thinks it's the best album of 2009 and I'm not inclined to disagree with him. Like Trap Them, Magrudergrind has pulled together many, many different influences to create an almost wholly original sound. What sound? An urban Hatred Surge? What would happen if Nasum was from the East Coast? These are questions you'll have to answer for yourself. This is all I know: Magrudergrind is the maddest shit since Mr. T made that rap song about being nice to your momma. Recommended for everyone and everything.

Magrudergrind - Magrudergrind


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Too Gay To Rock

Too Pure To Die

It's been some time since I posted something that sucks. My generally view on bad music is to ignore it. There's too much good music in the world made by worthy bands to waste time on the chumps, but I feel that it's my duty to show the nation that I'm not looking at things through rose-colored glasses.

Which brings us to Too Pure To Die. These jokers went from metalcore to nu-metal to deathcore while enduring 4000 line-up changes in the span of a few years. The band was really good at selling merch and not much else. Confess is an album of tepid deathcore junk. Half of the record was co-written by Jamey Jasta, which explains a lot. Fortunately, these posers broke up a few weeks back. Adios, Too Pure To Die. You will not be missed.

Too Pure To Die - Confess


Destined for Greatness

Trapped Under Ice
Secrets of the World

Although Secrets of the World isn’t one of those perfect, earth-shattering albums, it is a very good album by a young band that has made amazing strides in its two-year existence. Fresh off of this summer’s 10 for 10 Tour, (alongside Madball, Poison the Well, Bane, and many others) Trapped Under Ice delivers, on its first LP, exactly the kind of hardcore record the world needs right now; one that’s actually a hardcore record and not a metal record.

Trapped Under Ice should be commended for being able to sit in a tight groove on a song without descending into Pantera territory. The band doesn’t rely on cheap, gimmicky breakdowns to convey any mosh-itude. It’s just ignorant East Coast heaviness. While describing this band to Casey from Yatagarasu, I said that Trapped Under Ice sounds like what would have happened had Biohazard been a Dischord band from D.C. I stand by this statement.

Long-time No Funeral readers know that I don’t give much credence to lyrics. I think that great lyricists in shitty bands should quit those bands and get into the poetry game. That said, Justice did a great job on the lyrics to Secrets of the World. He speaks of topics as varied as the economy, Baltimore, relationships, friendship, and the modern condition without ever coming across as preachy or condescending. Of course, after interviewing Justice last year, I know what a witty and intelligent person he is, so I expected nothing less.

I’ve long supported Trapped Under Ice and I’m a fan of their music but I took of the “fan glasses” when reviewing this record. As awesome as Secrets of the World is, the record feels slightly under-cooked. The groove in the middle of “TUI” only lasts four bars. The riff rules too much for it to end so quickly. Don’t get me wrong, this is one of the best hardcore albums of 2009 but, in situations like the above, it seems as though they were rushing to get the album released.

Again, this is one of the best hardcore albums of the year and I assure you that it will turn up in the year-end Top 10 list. However, if we’re giving out grades for these things, this is an A-. It’s almost great and Trapped Under Ice is destined for greatness. I patiently await the day when they release a record on par with Damaged by Black Flag – which will happen and soon.

Trapped Under Ice – Secrets of the World



James Brown
20 All-Time Greatest Hits!

The space program has done more for America than put a flag on the moon and give MTV the template for that bullshit award they give away each year. It's a high-technology industry which spawns good and services beneficial to mankind. Examples include Velcro, global positioning systems, and the integrated circuit.

Fountain pens do not work in space. When astronauts needed a writing mechanism that would work in a zero-gravity environment, NASA spent millions of dollars developing the ball-point pen. Today, you and I use ball-point pens all the time. No one is going to deny that the ball-point pen is a useful invention. We have all benefited from its creation.

When the Russians needed a writing mechanism that would work in a zero-gravity environment, they used pencils.

Sometimes, simpler is better.

James Brown - 20 All-Time Greatest Hits!


Oh, man. Y'all are gonna kill me...


Let's go ahead and get the negatives out of the way. Yes, Emmure is THE band to hate in metal and hardcore right now. Yes, many a high school linebacker is getting fired up for the game on Friday by listening to Felony. Yes, Emmure engages in ridiculousness like this and this. However, a good album is a good album. If I deviate from my criteria of judging music, then I'm being intellectually dishonest and I'm doing you a disservice. Felony is a good record.

First off, this is not a deathcore album. Maybe Emmure's older material is, I'm not familar with those records, but Felony is not. This is the evolution of doomy nu-metal with some early 2000s metalcore mixed in for good measure. Emmure plays a modern take on the classic Korn sound with an obvious Bury Your Dead influence but also with shades of bands like Sinai Beach and even Burnt by the Sun. Before I get death threats, let me say that I would be shocked if the similarity of Felony to the S/T Burnt by the Sun EP is anything other than a coincidence or an accident; but here we are.

Anyway, this record has no blastbeats. There are no songs that are particularly fast and all of the songs are stuffed to the gills with mosh/slam riffs. If Suicide Silence is the standard bearer of deathcore, then Felony doesn't fall into the category.

I can't say that I'm down with Emmure's gangsta/wigger posturing or the borderline sexism in the lyrics. Musically speaking though, Felony is a superb listening experience. Of all these young kids and new bands exploring the nu-metal sound and making it their own, Emmure has impressed me the most.

Emmure - Felony


Monday, September 14, 2009

No Funeral PodTape Vol.1, No.1

This is part of the secret laboratory project I've been working on lately. The other part is something truly epic that will (hopefully) be finished this week. Concerning this portion of the experiment, I've been tinkering with recording software in order to rip various audio samples that tickle my fancy. I've sort of got it down at this point, although I'm having difficulty ripping audio from DVDs. If anyone has a tips on this, please e-mail me at

Welcome to the inaugural No Funeral PodTape. What the hell exactly is a PodTape you ask? Well, it's equal parts podcast and mixtape. I've been kicking around this idea for awhile now and it's finally going forward. Much like the current MP3 blog and the zine before it, this is a constant work in progress.

Everyone is familiar with the concept of a mixtape. What sets this apart from other, lesser-quality mixes is that the music is culled from my vast collection of No Funeral-approved recordings. The other thing that sets it apart is the samples inserted between the songs. This isn't a mere collection of music. I'd like to think of the No Funeral PodTape as an experience; the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. That's the goal, anyway.

For the first edition, I've pulled choice selections from Jello Biafra, Bill Hicks, and Hunter S. Thompson; interwoven with the tracklist below. Feel free to leave feedback and comments about what works, what doesn't, and where I should go cram it. This is an experiment in audio radness that conveniently fits onto an 80-minute CD-R (or easily fits on you iPod). Enjoy!

No Funeral PodTape
Vol. 1 No. 1

Part One
Part Two

1. Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! – “Poke On” – Tim & Eric Awesome Record, Great Songs!
2. Trapped Under Ice – “See God” – Secrets of the World
3. Trapped Under Ice – “Believe” – Secrets of the World
4. Jello Biafra
5. Meatjack – “Falling Down” – Trust
6. Himsa – “Rain to the Sound of Panic” – Courting Tragedy and Disaster
7. Bill Hicks
8. Scissorfight – “Mantrap” – Mantrapping for Sport and Profit
9. Insect Warfare – “Manipulator” – World Extermination
10. Bill Hicks
11. Eyehategod – “Serving Time in the Middle of Nowhere” – Preaching the End-Time Message
12. Hunter S. Thompson
13. ABACABB – “Destruction” – Survivalist
14. The Warriors – “War is Hell” – War is Hell
15. Jello Biafra
16. Giant Squid – “Neonate” – Metridium Field
17. Jello Biafra
18. The Jesus Lizard – “One Evening” - Head
19. iwrestledabearonce – “Tastes Like Kevin Bacon” – It’s All Happening
20. Jello Biafra
21. Mastodon – “Ole Nessie” – Remission
22. Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! – “Love Slaves” – Tim & Eric Awesome Record, Great Songs!
23. Magrudergrind – “Built to Blast” – Magrudergrind
24. Infest – “Judge Me” – Mankind
25. Bill Hicks
26. Starkweather – “Shroud” – Into the Wire
27. Hunter S. Thompson
28. Trap Them – “Destructioneer Extraordinaire” – Sleepwell Deconstructor
29. Hunter S. Thompson
30. Cursed – “Hell Comes Home” - II


Thursday, September 10, 2009

End of Summer Countdown

It's that time of year again. School is back in full swing. Yankees and Canadians are bracing for snow which should start falling in about three hours or so. Yes, Summer is unfortunately over and we're embarking on the death march that is the final quarter of 2009. None of you went outside and did anything while the weather was nice because you were too busy downloading music. Let's take a gander at the most popular downloads on No Funeral during the Summer of 2009.

1. Earth Crisis - To The Death

One of 2009's finer album smoked (ha!) the rest of the competition with 389 downloads. That's over 150 more than #2 on the list. I love this record and clearly you guys do as well.

2. Coalesce - 0:12 Revolution in Just Listening

Is it 2009 or 1999? Another recently-reunited, much-missed, 90s metalcore band scored a hit this summer. Coalesce's classic album 0:12 Revolution in Just Listening racked up 223 downloads.

3. Pig Destroyer - Terrifyer

Long-time No Funeral favorite Pig Destroyer continues to perform well with 212 summer downloads of this classic LP.

4. -tie-

Assuck - Anticapital/Blindspot/+3

Hatred Surge - Collection 2005-07

Old-school meets new-school in an orgy of Southern grind/violence in the #4 position. Assuck and Hatred Surge each pulled down 190 downloads during the summer.

5. Pelican - The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw

Pelican occupies the final spot on the list with 185 downloads. I would say that they swooped into #5 but you deserve better than that.

Thank you for your continued support of this website. Traffic and downloads on the site keep increasing and I'm humbled by the whole experience. I'm pleased to know that there are so many people who take this music seriously and don't treat it like a disposable widget. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to write. I love hearing from you.

Finally, the "cover" photo at the top of the post is dedicated to Grim Chris Spann. Two can play at that game.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

democracy in action, part one

Aim for the Sunrise
The Bigger Picture; Hope

My man Fairty requested The Bigger Picture; Hope by Aim for the Sunrise. I'm here to give the people what they want and this is what at least one person wants. See... the shoutbox gets you results.

At first glance, this EP seems to be more swoopy-haired nonsense. However, DC the Medic (who is lost in the ATX somewhere. Where are you, dude?) once pointed out that many a cool band in the 80s had ridiculous haircuts. Even Repulsion had terrible 80s hair. You can't judge anything off of appearance, so let's move on.

Upon closer inspection, some cool stuff is occuring in The Bigger Picture; Hope. Formed last year by teenage Swedish maniacs, Aim for the Sunrise earns points for being a young band with NO deathcore tendencies. Instead, you get early 2000s-style melodic metalcore in the realm of early Killswitch Engage and early Poison the Well. The clean vocals don't come off as whiny as those by Howard Jones. Aim for the Sunrise brings serious heaviness alongside some seriously epic riffs while not forsaking melody.

As well-worn as this style may be, it sounds refreshing coming from this band. Maybe that needs to be chalked up to youthful enthusiasm. Moments akin to Refused abound on The Bigger Picture; Hope, but I suppose with the band being from Sweden that it's only natural. The only clunker on the EP is the title track and even it recovers in the second half of the song. A band you need to keep your eye on has produced some very cool stuff.

Aim for the Sunrise - The Bigger Picture; Hope


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Devoured, but not Wasted

Everybody Goes to Hell
Time Devourer

Yeah, I know I said I was going to be gone for a few days but you guys should know the drill by now. If I say I'm going to post everyday this week, that really means that I'll see you next week. If I say that I'm taking a few days off, then new stuff will be posted tomorrow. What can I say? Welcome to Dick Cheney's America. In all seriousness, I'm working on a multi-part posting project that will (hopefully) expand the parameters of what a music blog is and can do. In the meantime, let's get into some Everybody Goes to Hell.

Straight out of Bowling Green, OH, Everybody Goes to Hell plays d-beat hardcore with a twist. I'd expect nothing less from Midwestern weirdoes. I love Midwestern hardcore precisely because the stuff is never played straight and always delivers a left-hook to the listener.

The self-released Time Devourer has the typical d-beat influences of Discharge and Anti-Cimex but the other inspirations are what make the EP a rich listening experience. There are shades of Poison Idea's thrash attack and hints of the His Hero Is Gone/Tragedy sound. Drew of Everybody Goes to Hell expressed a particular love of Italian screamo like La Quiete and Raein.

I've heard to many people, especially my co-workers, bitching about the lack of good music these days. That's a totally jive argument and all No Funeral readers know it. There's tons of good music out there. In the last week, this site alone has posted Bowel, Tona, and now Everybody Goes to Hell. I challenge you to support these hardworking bands. All Houstonians need to be at the Die Young show at Walters on 10Oct09. Everybody Goes to Hell has a handful of shows lined up over the next few weeks. I also challenge all Ohio/Kentucky punks, grinders, and thrashers to check out this band. Backed!

Everybody Goes to Hell - Time Devourer


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Heading into the Laboratory

Demonstrating My Style

I'm working on something special for later this week (or the weekend, it depends on when I get it finished) so there won't be any new posts for a few days. On that note, I wanted to leave you maniacs with something that doesn't require much explanation. That album would be Madball's Demonstrating My Style. We can argue this point all day, but I think this is their best album. It's one of the last albums made with the "original" line-up. It's hard-hitting NYHC with a metallic tinge and it's heavier than Oprah. Madball holds it down for the DMS crew and you should, too. Remember, mind-blowing hate is coming this weekend. Stay tuned...

Madball - Demonstrating My Style


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Balkan Revenge

SKC Novi Sad

I started corresponding with George in Serbia this year and he's one of the most dedicated musicians with whom I've interacted in a long time. George is the lead vocalist in Tona -- a band that treads the ground between stoner metal and heavy punk. Tona is one of those bands that marries a billion different influences into an entirely new being that fits lke an old shoe. Say what? Follow me on this.

"Go Find Jays Circle" is reminiscent of the long-forgotten stoner band Nudeswirl with moments of Into Another's heavier material. "Oreol" throws Dag Nasty, the Minutemen, and SST/Sub Pop-era Soundgarden into the musical blender, to splendid results. "Go Slow" finds guitarists Boris Radin and Filip Radovanov doing their best Josh-Homme-in-Kyuss impressions that do not come off as contrived.

1000 is an album that would get the full, 100% Carducci seal of approval. The record is filled with soulful melodies that beautifully synchronize with the driving rhythms. It get the No Funeral seal of you-have-no-taste-if-you-don't-dig-this approval. America is a country full of rich weirdoes. Can't one of them pony up the dough to bring Tona to the states? 1000 is highly recommended for the living, the dead and those stuck in purgatory. Really, you need to download this. It's the only way to make up for that whole Bill Clinton thing.

1.Red Cylinder
5.Go Find Jays Circle
6.Go Slow
7.Bull May
9.Down to Play
11.Through Water

Tona - 1000


The sound of one hand shooting up.

Four-Song Demo

Bowel is Houston’s best-kept secret. It’s almost criminal that these H-town sludge masters aren’t better known but I have a sneaking suspicion that the band members like things the way they are. Bowel has been gigging around the South and blowing minds for a few years now and it’s high time the rest of you got with it.

When considering the sound of Bowel, the most obvious comparisons are -16-, EyeHateGod and BuzzOv-en but there is way more going on than just that well-worn sound. Bowel has a sound that’s sort of like a crusty/death version of the AmRep sound. You know… Today is the Day, Helmet and the like? Drugs and the heavy percussion of bands like Unsane and Bloodlet also figure into the mix. This demo is as disgusting as the pollution in Houston. You guys are going to love it.

Bowel – Four-Song Demo


Friday, August 28, 2009

Pitchfork readers are zombies

Zombie Apocalypse

Short-review week is coming to a close. Don't worry, I have something special planned for next week. In the meantime, I leave you with Mortician's mini-album masterpiece Zombie Apocalypse. It's eight songs of Mortician's patented, tuned-to-Z-flat, kick-off-every-song-with-a-movie-sample brand of gore-grind. You also get covers of Repulsion and Slaughter(CAN). I suppose I should say something about Will Rahmer but I won't. What needs to be said that hasn't already?

I thought Zombie Apocalypse would be appropriate considering that terrible-music website Pitchfork Media's list of this decade's 500 greatest song. Click here for the gory details that I can bring myself to repeat. I will say this: for a site that (allegedly) digs rock music, what the fuck are Beyonce and Eminem doing on that list? Better yet, what's up with all the major label douchebaggery on that list? The whole hipster thing is a giant pose that has nothing to do with music and everything to do with wearing shitty clothes, doing shitty drugs, and date-raping other hipsters. Fuck that shit.

If you need further proof, click here for the real zombie apocalypse; written by an actual zombie. Feel free to detonate this poser's website and be sure to tell him that Brian No Funeral sent you.

Mortician - Zombie Apocalypse


Thursday, August 27, 2009

grunge gravy

City of Echoes
Hydra Head

Yeah, it's another post in short-review week. This is the mighty Pelican. They play instrumental groove/metal/stomp/grunge/boogie/something awesomeness. Most vocalists are false as fuck and, in the case of Pelican, would simply get in the way of killer riffage. I recently bought the Ephemeral 12" EP (featuring special guest Dylan Carlson of Earth) and, while that EP rules, City of Echoes is a total masterpiece. The credits of Ephemeral state that Pelican has been making grunge gravy since 2000. Sounds good to me. I'm not going to keep droning on-and-on about it so here's your assignment for today (in order): download. smoke up. rock out. kill yourself.

Pelican - City of Echoes


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Three-way tie for last.

Pig Destroyer/Coldworker/Antigama
3-Way Split EP

Here's an amusing but in no way essential EP. This 7" was limited to 1000 red-vinyl copies and was given away as a freebie with Relapse mail-orders a few years back. Pig Destroyer contributes covers songs of Integrity and Unsane. Coldworker and Antigama provide one new song (at the time anyway) each.

It pains me to say that this is the worst Pig Destroyer material I've ever heard but, then again, most bands will never be good enough to sound this "bad." You've got to keep everything in perspective. Coldworker, featuring ex-Nasum members, rages through a song titled "Far Beyond Driven" that has nothing to do with Pantera. Antigama is a band. Good for them. They've never done much for me but maybe you'll dig them. This EP is recommended only for those obsessive types who have to have EVERYTHING ever released by their favorite band.

Pig Destroyer/Coldworker/Antigama - 3-Way Split EP


Late to the party.

Evergreen Terrace
Burned Alive by Time

Let me start by admitting that I'm appoaching Evergreen Terrace all ass-backwards. I never listened to them a few years back when they were an internet buzz band. I always assumed that they sounded like that strain of lame emo-ish metalcore that was going around for awhile. You know, some miserable marriage of Shai Hulud and Poison the Well. Gag.

So, what changed? I bought season seven of The Simpsons. On said DVD is the episode Two Bad Neighbors where George Bush moves in across the street from the Simpsons. Most of the episode takes place on Evergreen Terrace. This prompted me to go back and check out the band. How bad could they be if they referenced The Simpsons? The answer is, of course, not bad at all.

Burned Alive by Time, while not the most original or groundbreaking album of this decade, is a solid, well-played, well-constructed and enjoyable affair. Evergreen Terrace takes many of their cues from fellow Floridians Poison the Well but that's not a bad thing in this case. The moshy parts are heavier than Oprah without ever descending into jock-idiot territory. The best example of this is the cover of Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence" which concludes the album. The song is rearraigned into a rock context (from the original electro-pop context) and contains a seriously evil breakdown, but it never sounds like something off of Hatebreed's ill-advised cover song album.

Evergreen Terrace does tend to go overboard with the clean-vocal, screamo parts. They sound like Howard Jones-era Killswitch Engage, but they don't sound forced like Howard Jones-era Killswitch Engage. In other words, they are annoying but tolerable as they naturally flow with the music.

If we're giving out grades for these things, Burned Alive by Time gets a B+. Besides, I've got a soft-spot in my heart for bands that really know their movies.

Evergreen Terrace - Burned Alive by Time


I don't hang out with lame-Os that don't like Scissorfight

Live at the Middle East
Instant Live

It's been over a week since I posted anything which means that it's time to remedy that situation. This week I intend (ho-ho) to post some short reviews of bands with which most of you are at least passingly familiar. Today, we start with the almighty Scissorfight.

In November 2004, Scissorfight stopped taking bong rips long enough to drive down to Cambridge from New Hampshire and record a live album at legendary Boston-area venue the Middle East. Needless to say, the band tore it up that night.

The setlist is a greatest-hits of sorts for these rock-n-roll outlaws. Iron Lung is pissed and the rest of the band sounds great. The crowd is screaming for (and goes off to) the songs from the Balls Deep record. I find this odd since my favorite Scissorfight album is Mantrapping for Sport and Profit. I suppose that I have different taste than most of the folks up in Taxachusetts. Not much else to say. Scissorfight rules. Uhh, you're ugly.

Scissorfight - Live at the Middle East


Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Perfect Metaphor for Human Suffering

Iron Lung
Life. Iron Lung. Death.
625 Thrash

Many bands try to be brutal and scary. Few bands accomplish this feat. Iron Lung exceeds it. Released in 2004, the band's first LP, Life. Iron Lung. Death., is downright frightening.

Iron Lung is a two-man band that plays modern power violence along the same lines as Hatred Surge and The Endless Blockade. Drummer Jensen Ward (ex-Gehenna, Cold Sweat, Artimus Pyle) and guitarist Jon Kortland (ex-Gob; the band from the Pig Destroyer split EP, not the MTV band also called Gob) throw up a blasting, grinding wall of noise that is well-written and structured.

This is a band with a unique voice. Ward and Kortland share vocal duties. Their bizarre harsh-vocal harmonies coupled with their tight playing and artful arraignments create one of the best listening experiences in underground hardcore.

In a 2006 interview with Heartattack magazine, when asked about Iron Lung being a medically-themed band, Kortland said, "...I felt like Iron Lung was a perfect metaphor for human suffering." (HaC #49, p.20)

This is no big talk. Life. Iron Lung. Death. serves as a concept album about immobility and pain but it's also a metaphorical and symbolic tome about the modern condition. The record is a challenging listen as is but, when heard while reading along with the lyric sheet, it becomes an exercise in fear.

In addition to the Life. Iron Lung. Death. LP, this CD features the Demonstrations in Pressure and Volume EP as bonus tracks, along with Iron Lung's sides of the split EPs with Brainoil and Teen Cthulhu.

Download it, listen to it, feel the funk; but I encourage all of you to track down a copy of the real-deal album so as to the the full effect.

Iron Lung - Life. Iron Lung. Death.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Fastcore in 140 characters or less.

Each day at work, I have the opportunity (and the time) to read several different newspapers. These papers, specifically USA Today and the Houston Chronicle, along with a disturbing amount of internet chatter, would have you believe that Twitter is the most important development in human history since the polio vaccine. While Twitter does serve a useful purpose, I invite the entirety of mankind to chill out over Twitter's perceived importance.

When I say that Twitter has a useful purpose, I mean that it has a lone, solitary, single useful purpose. The only reason you should ever use Twitter is to provide updates and URL links to whatever band/website/comic book/fetish porn/etc... that you really do with your time. Using Twitter to provide insights into your life is beyond lame. It's boner-crushing lameness on the level of Coheed & Cambria.

Before proceeding, I must admit that I'm a tad hypocritical in this regard. I have and use a Twitter account for the No Funeral blog. I use it as an alert mechanism when something new is posted on this site. Yes, I occasionally post a playlist, respond to another Twitter user, or simply write some nonsense. However, 99% of my "tweets" pertain to this website.

My gripe about Twitter-as-information-consolidator is twofold. The first, most obvious problem is that you're limited to 140 characters. This isn't enough space for a cogent thought, much less a simple paragraph. It's enough space to post the link to your real content and should be used for this purpose. Twitter is a poor forum for self-expression.

Which brings me to my second gripe with Twitter -- no one on Twitter is that interesting; myself included. At least with my Twitter account you're getting the links to rocking, free music. Twitter is especially guilty of perpetuating the fascination with celebrity culture and those folks tend to be the least interesting of all.Don't believe me? Check out the sub-literate musing of T.O., or the hyper-commercialized, crushing depression that is Jamey Jasta's Twitter page.

Twitter, aside from its ONE useful purpose, is another sign of dumbing-down of America, in addition to the coming apocalypse. 140 characters, my ass.

In honor of Twitter and in remembrance of America's dignity, I present Your Chaos Days Are Numbered by the almighty Hellnation. This album is for those who like their thrashy hardcore the way God intended: short, fast, and loud. Not a song over 140 seconds!

Your Chaos Days Are Numbered
Sound Pollution

Hellnation - Your Chaos Days Are Numbered


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Welcome to Forever

Impending Doom
The Serpent Servant

Here we go again. Is it deathcore or not? I’ve expressed my views on this subject multiple times before, like here and here. When it comes to Impending Doom’s first album, Nailed.Dead.Risen., that album is firmly entrenched in the deathcore sound. However, the mark of any good band is improved songwriting and further development of said band’s overall sound, which The Serpent Servant has in spades.

You want to talk about development? Listen to the mosh riff in the middle of “Anything Goes.” Listen, during the change, to the bass player keep the same rhythm with the drummer’s high-hat and snare while the drummer double-times his kicks and the guitarists double-up the picking of the riff. No, it’s not technicality on the level of Necrophagist but it’s worlds apart from what the deathcore scenesters are doing. Plus, the scenesters can’t lay down a groove like the one found on “Storming the Gates of Hell.”

The members of Impending Doom call their music “gorship” – a combination of gore-metal music and worship-based lyrics. While the tag may be a bit silly, I couldn’t think of a more accurate description of their sound than they already did. The gore-metal influence is pretty obvious (think Suffocation) but Impending Doom accomplishes something remarkable with the lyrics.

Like the band, I’m a believer and I’m very impressed with the fearlessness Impending Doom displays on The Serpent Servant concerning the band’s Christian beliefs. I burned this album for Jerry Phillips, the pastor of my church; a dude who is by no means a “square.” His first comment was that Impending Doom is influenced by Slipknot (true) and that, while he likes the music, he could never get into the harsh vocal thing. Then he opened up the lyric sheet. Phillips was pleasantly surprised at the large portion of the lyrics influenced by scripture and the number of direct quote from the Bible. For the record, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the four books of the Gospel are the lyrical influence of The Serpent Servant.

It’s easy for any band to get on stage and talk about how much they hate George Bush. That’s what Family Guy does – taking easy shots at easy targets without any fear of repercussion from the public. Whether you agree or disagree with the views expressed, you have to respect the bravery displayed by Impending Doom in this day and age. Also, the album rocks. Highly recommended.

Impending Doom - The Serpent Servant


Friday, August 7, 2009

Midwest Metalcore Meltdown

The Confession
Moo Cow

The Midwest has a history of producing powerful and unusual music and no Midwestern state has produced more of it than Minnesota. The land of 10,000 lakes is also the land that gave us Husker Du, Prince, Code 13 and the Replacements. At this point, it’s safe to add Disembodied to that list.

Recorded in 1995, The Confession embraces the mid-90s metalcore vibe while pushing the sound forward. The EP features three songs of slow, down-tuned, stomping heaviness. It sounds similar to what Undertow was doing around the same time.

The Confession is one of Disembodied’s earlier recordings. It’s not as influenced by metal as the band’s later material -- the Slayer riffs had not surfaced yet. The Confession combines the heaviness of Quicksand and Helmet with the righteous anger of Judge and Outspoken. It’s killer, early stuff from a band that kept getting better.

Disembodied - The Confession


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

An Acquired Taste

Black One
Southern Lord

SUNNO))) is the drone/doom project of Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley (Southern Lord Records, ex-Goatsnake, ex-Burning Witch, etc…). Travis Keller, founder of the increasingly frustrating website Buddyhead, once described SUNNO))) as, “Ex-straightedge dudes in robes seriously bumming out everyone.” While this description is accurate, there is so much more going on with SUNNO))).

Black One, like all SUNNO))) releases, is plodding heaviness drenched in feedback and punctuated with harsh electronics. The band redefines the concept of slow. The typical SUNNO))) “song” features experimental guitar and bass arraignments, electronic manipulations that border on cryptic and sparse percussion. Black One is where noise and doom meet and fight to the death.

Black One inverts the paradigm of blasphemous black metal. Instead of outrageousness and blinding speed, SUNNO))) takes the motif of evil in the opposite direction. This album is withdrawn, sinister and conspiratorial. SUNNO))) captures the frostbitten despair of the Norwegian dark masters while simultaneously taking a musical back-azimuth.

You’re never quite sure what’s going on but you know that “they” are out to get you. You should not listen to this album if you have been diagnosed with paranoia.

This is not rock music according to the Carducci-ian definition. As Joe Carducci said in Rock and the Pop Narcotic, Nine Inch Nails, Ministry, and Big Black may be cool but they’re not rock. While the aforementioned bands may be rooted in the electronic scene, SUNNO))) is undoubtedly a noise band. They’re not doom or black metal, although they draw considerable influence from those styles. No, SUNNO))) is depressing and evil noise. We are all better off for it.

In the realm of heavy music, SUNNO))) is one of the only groups that has truly earned the moniker of unique. This is for the open-minded. Black One is highly recommended for stoners, depressives, maniacs, rape-eyed weirdoes, people under house arrest and the unemployable. As the warning label on the back of the LP states, “Maximum Volume Yields Maximum Results.”

SUNNO))) - Black One


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Portrait of Chaos

Job for a Cowboy
Metal Blade

Jason warned me. Jason Beck, of the mighty Deadthyme program on KPFT, told me, “Dude, a lot of people aren’t into this record. It’s okay for mall metal but watch out.”

I heeded his warning. Jason knows what he’s talking about. Plus, the evidence was on his side. Metalheads with a clue were seriously disappointed with No Time to Bleed by Suicide Silence. Smart metalheads knew to avoid that travesty altogether.

I’m happy to report that, with Ruination, Job for a Cowboy has left the increasingly tedious deathcore pack in the dust. Wave goodbye flat-brimmed hat, plug-sporting d-bags. Job for a Cowboy won’t be returning.

Ruination is an achievement for several reasons. With this record, Job for a Cowboy avoided the dreaded sophomore slump (Doom doesn’t count; more on this later). Musically, the band has achieved its goal of moving into the realm of technical death metal. Socially, Ruination should make their younger, trendier fans pause and reflect.

A few years back, I had some acquaintances in San Antonio who were heavily into the fashioncore scene. In the time I knew them, they bounced from Coal Chamber/Slipknot-style nu-metal to the Eighteen Visions thing to this new stuff coming out of the Western U.S. These guys were obsessed with As Blood Runs Black (remember them?). They latched on to the formulaic song structures and cheap gimmicks such as pig-vocals. Of course, these dudes spent hundreds of dollars a month at the hair salon and spent all of their free time smoking weed and playing video games, so superficiality and visual stimulation were all they asked of the music to which they listened.

These guys introduced me to Job for a Cowboy. These guys were obsessed with Doom. These were the early JFaC fans.

Job for a Cowboy didn’t impress me until the Genesis LP. That record is head-and-shoulders better than the cheap thrills offered on Doom. That was the record where Job for a Cowboy started to demand more of themselves – to grow as musicians, to expand the sound of the band. Maybe they saw the limited future of being a scene band but I chalk the maturity displayed between Genesis and Doom up as the same maturity spawned by getting older and smarter. If this were a marketing move, why keep a sound this intense? Why not go the Burn Halo route?

No, Job for a Cowboy is the real deal. In interviews posted all over the internet, the band’s members have no answer for why Genesis succeeded so well. They don’t know why Dave Mustaine chose them for the Gigantour. They don’t know why hundreds and sometimes thousands of people keep turning up at their shows. This is a measure of humility and candor rarely seen in the Age of Me. It’s as if, deep down, Job for a Cowboy knows that Doom was scenester garbage. They made an honest record and the response was nothing short of breath-taking. This is why Doom doesn’t count as their “first” record.

Yes, it was first but Genesis is the first Job for a Cowboy album that anyone does or should care about. Of course, there will be too-cool-for-school metal folks for whom Job for a Cowboy can do no right but the open-minded will see this band as a unit achieving greatness in front of our collective eyes. Ruination provides the scene kids with a chance to see if they’re maturing at the same rate as one of their favorite bands. It also provides an opportunity for the jaded old fucks to see if they’re as good at evaluating new bands as they think they are. Good bands come out of every trend.

Which brings us to Ruination, a record that avoids the sophomore slump by being a true metal record. What do I mean by true? It’s true in that it avoids the cheap deathcore trappings. There are no breakdowns on the album; not in the modern sense of the term. Yes, there are moshtastic riffs all over Ruination, but nothing that Suffocation, Immolation, or Dying Fetus didn’t do first. It’s a true metal album in that it’s heavier than Oprah, it has a driving rhythm section propelling the songs forward (though drummer Jon “Charn” Rice overplays at points), it has adventurous guitar work, and the vocals are worked into the songs rhythmically and harmonically.

Speaking of vocals, Jonny Davy must have graduated from the Ben Falgoust Vocal University. Much like the legendary Soilent Green/Goatwhore frontman, Davy varies his delivery from near-black metal screeches to low death-grunts and everything in between while artfully arraigning his vocals alongside the mind-blowing guitar work of Bobby Thompson and Al Glassman. It’s not all blinding speed. Thompson and Glassman sneak quite a bit of sludgy, Morbid Angel moments into the album.

As mentioned earlier, Rice over-does it as points with jamming super-technical drum fills in between blastbeats instead of just rocking a solid rhythm. Fortunately, he’s reigned in by the purposeful bass playing of Brent Riggs. What purpose? To keep these songs flowing and keep his fellow musicians on mission. Riggs is the musical glue that holds Job for a Cowboy together. Without him, this album could easily have turned into a riff salad. With him, art and skill marry to make Ruination a powerful record.

In the supplemental materials of the Slacker Criterion Collection DVD, which I encourage all of you to buy or shoplift, Ron Rosenbaum of the New York Observer calls Slacker a portrait of chaos. The same can be said of Ruination. The record is not chaos. It is a skillfully and artfully created portrait of chaos. It’s an album that in the sum of its parts creates something new. It’s an album of ultra-fast, hyper-technical death metal that stands alongside anything past or present. Job for a Cowboy strikes again.

Job for a Cowboy - Ruination


Monday, July 20, 2009

No Funeral to resume killing trees shortly

After careful consideration, I've decided to relaunch the print zine. The basic breakdown goes like this:

Music reviews, MP3s, and updates will be posted here while interviews, essays, features, and general weirdness will be saved for the bi-monthly (maybe(?!?)) print zine. I think this will be an interesting way to balance the two formats. Ideas, suggestions, and criticisms are welcome. Send all complaints to

Sorry that there hasn't been more frequent posting. I've been spending my time trying to work 150 hours a week while moving (again) and figuring out the above situation with the other 18 hours. Once I get the internet hooked up at the new crib, frequent and bizarre posting will resume.

In the meantime, here's July's hatelist:


Kyuss - Welcome to Sky Valley
Hatred Surge - Collection and Isolated Human
Coke Bust - Cycle of Violence
Job for a Cowboy - Ruination
The Warriors - Genuine Sense of Outrage
Black Flag - Damaged
Metallica - Binge & Purge
Trapped Under Ice - Stay Cold
Impending Doom - The Serpent Servant
... and an unholy amount of Disembodied.


Burn after Reading
(M. Night Shamalamadingdong's only good movie)


Too many to list. I've been reading a ton lately. Been on a big I-hate-George-Bush kick.

Stay tuned for more details on the relaunch of the No Funeral magazine.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Raoul Duke’s Unique Definition of Humor

In his collection of personal correspondence Kingdom of Fear, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson wrote that the Bible is humorless and, therefore, God is humorless (p. 17-18). By examining the two components of his statement, it seems that Dr. Thompson ignored the obvious in order to make his point. Sitting here in Huntsville, Texas, with no money and no accolades, I can’t help but notice that the good doctor is dead wrong.

The first component of Dr. Thompson’s statement is that the Bible is devoid of humor. Maybe, but I don’t see it that way. Proverbs 16: 13-16 read sarcastic to me. King Solomon would fit in nicely over at the Daily Show.

When Proverbs 16-14 says, “A king’s wrath is a messenger of death”, the verse is not referring to King Tut, King Edward or the King of Beers. It’s King Solomon transposing God’s word in the third-person perspective. It’s textbook sarcasm. He saying that a king’s wrath (wink, wink) means God and death means you. If necessary, try reading the verse in Pee Wee Herman’s voice. Not everyone will see the humor in this but I certainly do.

Then again, let’s run with Dr. Thompson’s assumption that the Bible is a drab and dreary history book. This, in and of itself, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The Bible is the instruction book for life. It doesn’t need to be filled with zingers.

Here’s another drab, humorless instruction book that receives no criticism from the public-at-large: the owner’s manual to your car. Go ahead, flip through it. There’s not a joke to be found. It’s also safe to assume that, when calling tech support, no one wants Jerry Seinfeld answering the phone while the hard drive is crashing. Sometimes, it’s okay not to be entertained.

I’m not sure exactly what point Dr. Thompson was trying to make with his barbed criticism of the Holy Scripture but he clearly didn’t get any of the points that I’m making.

As for the second component of Dr. Thompson’s statement, that God is humorless, I defer to filmmaker Kevin Smith and his controversial yet poignant film Dogma. If you he honestly thought that God has no sense of humor, then I would love to hear the good doctor’s explanation for the platypus.

Brian No Funeral
Huntsville, TX

Monday, July 6, 2009

Clear Channel Indignation vs. Common Sense

Formerly relevant broadcast outlets ABC and NBC are conducting newscasts from inside the White House. Clear Channel, through its various slimy and spineless radio outlets, is quite indignant about competitors, err... news organizations getting too cozy with the government.

It's funny. There was no Clear Channel outrage when President Reagan was deregulating the broadcast industry in the 1980s. I wonder if the fact that Clear Channel was primarily a billboard company during the Reagan Empire has anything to do with their dignified silence during said decade. That no one has profited more from Reagan's deregulation than Clear Channel certainly wouldn't be a contributing factor, now would it?

Anyway, Clear Channel via 740 KTRH wondered aloud what purpose NBC would have for cozying up to the executive branch of the U.S. government. Fortunately, I have an answer for the billion-dollar corporation.

General Electric, one of the world's largest arms manufacturers, is the parent company of NBC. The president is the commander of the executive branch and by extension the Department of Defense. As of now, you can't sell ballistic missiles to the public-at-large (remember to vote in November) so, like any good business, GE is sucking up to its largest client. It's a business move at the expense of the american public; meaning that its just another business move.

Clear Channel's self-righteous tone and phony outrage over "objective" journalism is reminiscent of Columbus -- Clear Channel discovered something that millions of people already knew existed. It would be cheaper and far more honorable for them to use one of their billboards to announce, "We wish that we had thought of it first."

Brian No Funeral
18 June 2009
Huntsville, TX

Saturday, July 4, 2009

No Funeral 2: The Electric Boogaloo

The future has been on my mind lately. While away, I’ve been reprioritizing my life: getting sober, deciding what is and is not important in my life and where life will take me next. No Funeral has played a crucial role during this internal dialogue. This zine started four years ago when I first got sober. In the course of its development from productive-use-of-free-time to critical-evaluation-of-rock-music, the zine’s mission became clearly defined. Unfortunately, I fell off the wagon during this period. Eventually, I learned that substance abuse and the No Funeral mission don’t jive together. So, here I’ve been – reevaluating anything and everything around me.

I’ve toyed with the idea of taking the site down. Google censors my material. Crying-ass record companies are all run by con artists, as are most “popular” bands concerned about “pirated” music (but that’s a separate issue). The thought that entered my head repeatedly was, “If I really wanted to be underground, I’d go back to print”, but I’ve come to the conclusion that this whole train of thought is self-pitying nonsense.

Flawed as it is, I love No Funeral’s current webzine format. I choose to communicate this way because I have extreme difficulty communicating with those in my life. This is why I took time off; so I could get my head together. I’ve learned that communication with a head full of dope is damn-near impossible. That’s why I went straightedge.

Let me explain this. I’m straightedge in the same manner that I’m Christian. It’s a matter between me and my creator that allows me to live my life effectively. I have no intentions of flying anyone’s flag for anything. Being Christian and straightedge allows me to not only write effectively but also to execute God’s will through my work. What does that mean? It means bringing glory to the kingdom of God, not proselytizing. I failed to accomplish this in the past due to mis-prioritizing and living for myself. In all honesty, this has nothing to do with you, as the reader, in this equation.

Taking the site down is an idea that has intrigued me. The internet sucks. Aside from Google tracking everyone’s web surfing, it has no permanency. The “audience” is an unsavory cast of know-nothing lowlifes and too many people can monkey with my material. Alas, too many people actually enjoy No Funeral and actually get what I’m doing. Besides, quitters never win – they just get to live their lives stress-free.

One option is to buy my own web domain and this will likely happen, eventually. Also, don’t be surprised if you see issues of No Funeral #5 floating around later this year.

Another idea is to compile the existing No Funeral material into some manner of cohesive volume and shop it around, particularly to a publishing house like AK Press. I really like this idea and it too will likely happen, eventually. What is certain is that No Funeral will not end, not now or ever, but things will change.

In using the old No Funeral format, (actually the second format after I abandoned print copies) I wanted to start a community-wide dialogue about rock music’s place in the spectrum of art and to determine this music’s place in the modern world. In this regard, I have failed you. Over 15,000 site visits and 5000 downloads this year have produced barely over 100 comments. I have failed to effective communicate the intent of this site.

That said, all you folks want is free music. In this regard, you have failed me. You continue to treat this music like a collectible and/or a disposable widget. Whoever dies with the most MP3s wins, right? I do not wish to perpetrate this behavior.

Will music be posted on No Funeral in the future? Yes, but in far less frequency than before. I’m done keeping up with the Music will be posted less-often but the analysis will go even further in-depth than before. More arching motifs/unifying themes will be employed and future posts will delve into subjects beyond the realm of metal and hardcore.

How does this affect the price of tea in China? No Funeral will no longer post albums, or anything else for that matter, simply for the sake of posting them. As mentioned earlier, I’m through keeping up with the e-Joneses. No Funeral will be more artfully and skillfully crafted; abandoning the current blogger-vogue of meaningless post after meaningless post.

Bizarre and experimental territories are what the future holds for No Funeral. I’m interested in further blurring the line between fiction and non-fiction. I’m interested in going back to my roots of exploring my own brand of no-future, miscreant journalism. In short, think of this site as interactive Gonzo Letters.

Why Gonzo Letters? A few reasons come to mind. The main reason is me rectifying my previously gut-level Dr. Thompson influence. I never really understood why I loved Hunter S. Thompson’s work so much; I just knew that I did. I wondered how he could produce so much quality work while stoned around the clock and why I could never do it.

I’ve spent a large portion of my “vacation” rereading the works of Dr. Thompson and I now have answers to these questions. I now know that I need to be sober and in touch with my creator to produce work of that quality. I now know that Dr. Thompson had amazing, natural talent and I often wonder what he could have produced if he were sober and in touch with his creator. It’s too late to spend any energy on why it didn’t work for Dr. Thompson and what could have happened if things were different. I consider myself blessed that I did figure it out before it was too late.

Americans are like lightning – filled with unfocused, kinetic energy that can kill at a moment’s notice for no other reason than seeking the path of least resistance. I’d like to think that my energy is better focused now and that I’m losing less of it through the wires. In my life, the wires were drugs.

Another reason for employing the Gonzo Letters tactic is that I feel no need to communicate with anyone directly right now. Instead, I will communicate with everyone and no one simultaneously. The Gonzo Letter format perfectly fits this intention. Maybe this is nothing more than large-scale self-gratification. I’ll leave that for you to decide.

Regardless, shit is about to get weird around here. We’re headed into a strange, new direction. Remember what the good doctor said? “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” THAT is what’s happening at No Funeral. Consider this my declaration for the pro draft. If you thought No Funeral was weird before, then hold onto your fucking hat. If you haven’t the stomach for it, I recommend that you get out now.

Top Five of 2009
(Half of a year, half of a list)

1. ABACABB – Survivalist
2. Mastodon – Crack the Skye
3. Coke Bust – Line in the Sand
4. Impending Doom – The Serpent Servant
5. Earth Crisis – To the Death

Monday, June 8, 2009

No funeral for No Funeral

What up? I've been on "vacation" for a few weeks and I'm taking a few more weeks off. After the July 4th weekend, No Funeral will resume its regularly scheduled programming. I'm going through some major life changes right now and I need to focus on those. If you need to contct me, either e-mail me or hit me up on Myspace. Also, if you're around when it comes through, go to the Trap Them/Skeletonwitch/Saviours tour. That thing should be called the No Funeral tour, since all of those bands have received glowing reviews from me. The DLs are available on this site.

Again, No Funeral will be back on its regular schedule in early July.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Kyuss - ...And the Circus Leaves Town

…And the Circus Leaves Town

It would probably make more sense to review the Kyuss albums in order of their release, but I’ve never been too crazy about following the rules. Besides, Kyuss wasn’t big on rules either. These legendary inventors of Desert Rock had an arching, unifying sound, but their albums were so different from each other that order doesn’t really matter. Each Kyuss record needs to be analyzed and digested individually.

Kyuss had been considered genre leaders in the (then) growing stoner rock movement; especially after the release of the mighty Blues for the Red Sun. However, with the modern definition of stoner rock being bands like Baroness and Isis, …And the Circus Leaves Town does not fall into this category. Instead, Kyuss used its final LP to rediscover its West Coast roots. Except for passing moments on their first album Wretch, …And the Circus Leaves Town sounds the most SST-like than any other Kyuss material.

In addition to the typical Kyuss hallmarks like John Garcia’s unique vocals and Josh Homme’s psychedelic guitar style, this record has an intense Minutemen vibe about it. My War-era Black Flag is also scattered throughout the album, such as on the song “Gloria Lewis.” Kyuss may forever be linked to stoner music but …And the Circus Leaves Town is proof that Kyuss was birthed from West Coast punk and not Black Sabbath.

Kyuss - …And the Circus Leaves Town