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