Thursday, January 30, 2014

Pig Destroyer - Book Burner

Pig Destroyer
Book Burner (Bookmark Burner version)

When you visit the No Funeral Ranch, you've got to understand that Pig Destroyer is revered around these parts. Myself and everyone who has ever written for this website are all big fan of the Maryland grindcore band. We think of Pig Destroyer in the same way most normal people think of THE BEATLES.

ON that note, I present to you Pig Destroyer's fifth studio LP Book Burner. The version of the album presented here is a special mix from producer/guitarist Scott Hull that was distributed as a download printed on some sweet looking bookmarks. I picked up my book mark at End Of An Ear Records in Austin, Texas. Hull calls this the Wide Dynamic Range - Deluxe Version or the Bookmark Burner version.

To be honest, I'm not enough of an audiophile to tell any real world difference between this version and the album version. Either way, you get the same kick-in-the-balls grind with JR Hayes's always literate, always creepy lyrics. Killer, mandatory hate!


Blood For Master - Blood For Master

Blood For Master
Blood For Master

Austin's Blood For Master plays a unique (and really cool) brand of psychedelic sludge metal. The band's debut full-length CD features a trippy, noodly style of guitar playing on top of a stomping rhythm section reminiscent of CROWBAR and THOU. Passionate vocals are blurted and shouted like Dax Riggs during the ACID BATH days. Blood For Master can drag in spots but this is LP makes for a fine debut. The stand-out song is the album's closing track "Walk On Water." I always enjoy hearing the band play that one live. Blood For Master is constantly gigging around Austin. Get off the couch and go check them out.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Taproot - Gift


Greetings, all. This post is the first of a three-part experiment concerning the Ann Arbor, MI rock band Taproot. Today, I'll be laying out the game plan for you while you listen to Taproot's major label debut Gift.

Gift was an unfortunate byproduct of the major label process during the peak of the CD era. The album was rushed to market following the curious adventure of Taproot's signing. The story of the bidding war over Taproot will be examined in the second part of this series when the Welcome LP gets reviewed. Trust me, it's a wild story and Fred Durst is involved. You won't want to miss it.

Getting back to this record, Gift was under-cooked when it was sent to press. It produced two minor radio hits with "Again and Again" and "I" but the rest of the album is forgettable. Then again, maybe that's exactly what Taproot is good at. On any of their albums, at least a couple of the songs will be legitimate hits but the other songs are lacking the successful elements of the hits.

Which brings me to the third part of this series. I'm going program a new tracklist combining Gift and Welcome into a single LP. What I hope to prove is, had the band and the label been patient, a focused Taproot album could have been Hybrid Theory-level successful. Am I right? We're going to find out.


Monday, January 27, 2014

Dead Earth Politics - The Weight of Poseidon

Dead Earth Politics
The Weight of Poseidon
Genuine Recordings

The Weight of Poseidon marks my sixth review written today so forgive me if this is brief. What we have here is a popular Austin metal band flirting with national recognition. Dead Earth Politics sounds like equal parts IRON MAIDEN, LAMB OF GOD, and PANTERA. The Weight of Poseidon features guest vocal performances from 101X personalities Deb O'Keefe (The Morning X) and Chuck Loesch (No Control Radio). No, they don't sing. They serve as the actors in the skits in between the songs. Cool idea.

My only real gripe with the record is with the tracklist. The CD leads off with "Artistic License", one of the worst pieces of crap I've ever heard. Really, truly it's a garbage song and that's when things get weird. The second song, "Dos Cuerpos", was a local radio hit in Central Texas, garnering radio play on 101X's No Control show, UT's student station 91.7 KVRX, and Texas State University's station 89.9 KTSW.

The rest of the album is outstanding so what you should take away from this is to skip the first song and then enjoy the power groove of Dead Earth Politics.


Anti-Flag - The Bright Lights of America

The Bright Lights of America

This is the same as every other Anti-Flag album. It's serviceable West Coast-style punk rock with the same Northern California protest vibe as Rancid, et al. Just one thing though... this band is from Pittsburgh. Clearly, this is a case of a band born in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or maybe not. God bless the internet.

Major label release. Slick production. Sell outs. Warped Tour. Hot Topic. Yadda yadda yadda.

I've got to be honest. I'v never been emotionally invested in this band and The Bright Lights of America is an in-one-ear, out-the-other affair for me. If you love the Epitaph/Fat Wreck Chords sound, then this is a crucial release. Me however, I doubt that I'll ever listen to this record again now that I've reviewed it. Austin residents, check the used bin at End Of An Ear Records in a couple of months when I trade in a stack of bullcrap to get my copy of Surgical Steel.


Periphery - Clear

Distort Records

One of the fringe benefits of running websites like this one and MindSplinter Radio is that people drop stuff off to us all the time, both physically and digitally. So, it was a wonderful surprise when the new Periphery album showed up in our in box. Our? Yes, No Funeral Prog Editor and MindSplinter Radio host Rocky Reidel is the other part of "our" inbox and we were way stoked to get it. How stoked? So stoked that we reviewed the record together. Enjoy!

Brian: This is Periphery's experimental record. Each member of the band was in charge of writing and producing one song each and Clear is the collected volume of those songs.

Rocky: Oh, I already like it

Brian: This record is about to be the hot new thing. Expect a top 20 debut on the Billboard chart.

Rocky: Really? Impressive.

Brian: The scene-kids love this band because they're new school and Hot Topic friendly but the adults in the crowd like them to because they can play their asses off.

Rocky: Not a fan of the lyrics, though but sweet melodies and good prog. Yeah, they sound like teenagers. The voices, I mean.

Brian: Sumerian Records signed them out of high school. When their contract was up, Century Media scooped them up in a NY Yankees move.

Rocky: hahaha, Yeah, good snag. Ugh, the voice of the lead singer is killing me though

Brian: That's what I mean by "new school" This age group can't get past the My Chemical Romance/Fall Out Boy style of singing.

Rocky: Yeah, I hate that style. I can roll with the growls or deep vocals like Peter Steele, but not the teenage style stuff.

Brian: I dig this record because they sound like Dream Theater without coming across as music school elitists.

Rocky: Yeah, I can see that. I hope they mature vocally. They could really go places. I don't see how these bands can sing like that for 20 years, they sing from their throat or mouth instead of the chest and lungs. Seems like they would damage something.

Brian: That's a breathing technique. There's all kinds of instructional DVDs about how to do harsh vocals without hurting yourself.

[long pause]

Brian: Sorry. I had to look up the song name real quick. "Feed The Ground" is an incredibly heavy song.

Rocky: They are pretty good, don't get me wrong. They just need some growling lessons or just hire James Hetfield. He isn't doing anything is he?

Brian: He's embarrassing himself at the Grammys right now.


Coalesce - There Is Nothing New Under The Sun

There Is Nothing New Under The Sun

It took several weeks of wrestling with YouTube to get this upload completed but it's finally here. There Is Nothing New Under The Sun is Coalesce's EP of Led Zeppelin covers released by HydraHead Records in 1999. This record has been tangled up in legal limbo ever since (just like HydraHead's Black Sabbath tribute 7"s) and that battle is still being waged right now. Where everybody finally landed on this was that cover songs of Zeppelin's hits are banned but the remaining songs are fair game. Whatever. The end result is half of this CD passing the screening process. Got to love Big Brother. So, try to enjoy four of the seven songs on this record.


Devin Townsend - Ziltoid The Omniscient

Devin Townsend
Ziltoid The Omniscient
HevyDevy Records

Today's guest reviewer is my brother in broadcasting Rocky Reidel of MindSplinter Radio. Rocky, the Prog Music Editor at No Funeral (pictured below), is sharing an album geared towards those music school, tremolo-picking,shred addicts out there, yet it's accessible for everyone. Enjoy!

(Rocky Reidel live at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, 2013)

A MetalHead's Intro to Prog: Devin Townsend's Ziltoid the Omniscient

By Rocky

I remember heading back to the local record shop (do they have those anymore?) when I was in high school the day before this record came out. I had already pre-ordered it the week or two previously and the record shop dude was cool enough to let me get it as soon as the shipment came in, a day early. Before putting in this 53 minute pulse of progressive metal, my only exposure to Devin Townsend was a couple Strapping Young Lad singles and a teaser video on youtube released a few months before.

A progressive metal, concept album, set in space, about an alien attacking earth!? Of course a weirdo like me would dig that. In that glorious first hour, I laughed, I cried, I headbanged, I made outrageous claims like I invented the question mark. Really, if you have never heard any progressive metal this will slap you in the face and demand your respect.

Ziltoid the Omniscient was the culmination of Devin Townsend's retreat from the public after his stint with Strapping Young Lad. A truly solo album, Townsend played all the instruments and wrote all the lyrics and melodies. This glorious album is merely a glimpse into the insane genius that is Devin Townsend.

The album starts fast and furious with ZTO and By Your Command, listen closely you'll get the gist of the storyline. By Your Command has excellent metal interlaced with prog syth and melodies, definitely a microcosm of the entire album. Ziltoidia Attaxx!!! is pure Devin Townsend thrash with some awesome technical riffs and earsplitting double bass drumming (hint, its a machine). Solar Winds is my favorite on the album, soft start with Townsend singing clean and great spacey reverb guitar work. You can almost feel the zero gravity taking you away. It picks up into a pure prog metal melody, heavy and complex. Hyperdrive takes you on the run with the Earth survivors and Captain Spectacular, an uptempo song that was later re-mixed and released on a later album (Addicted).

N9 showcases the double bass drumming in all its glory, sweet riffs but this is the one song that could sound like filler to most, it did at first to me (it has grown on me, I just wish the lyrics were re-mixed a little louder). Planet Smasher takes us out of halftime with a chanting, heavy riff. This is heavy metal with a storyline, great song. Omnidimensional Creator is a speaking interlude. Color Your World features more bleeding ears drums and guitars, great stuff. You also get some prog synth in there as the song mellows, but don't worry metalheads it won't freak you out. As the second longest track at 9:44, it picks up and ends strong. Lastly The Greys rounds out the album musically with some strong prog metal, heavy riffs, clean vocals, synth, and complex melodies. This is another favorite, very similar to Townsend's previous non-Strapping Young Lad releases. Tall Latte is a speaking extro that finishes up the concept storyline.

Overall the album is fantastic, a sure favorite for both metalheads and prog fans alike. The storyline is light, comedic but presented well enough for you to really get into the saga of Ziltoid the Omniscient and his nemesis Captain Spectacular. I am usually one to be very strongly against too much double bass drumming and this album pushes that limit but manages to use it a manner that doesn't drown the album with bleeding ears. The metal is heavy, the prog is complex, the storyline is compelling and humorous. A great album for any collection.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Anodyne - Berkowitz

Alone Records

Nothing against ANODYNE but its music bums me out at times. Mike Hill, a guitarist who previously did engineer/producer work for MADBALL, formed Anodyne in Boston in 1997. Berkowitz is filled with Anodyne's trademark angular noise-rock birthed from the hardcore scene prone to fits of balstbeats and deafening feedback. After the band's 2005 break-up, its members went on to form TOMBS, DEFEATIST, and VERMOSA.

This particular 7" record evokes memories from several different periods of my life. I remember originally buying the 7" at Waterloo Records in Austin in the summer of 2003. I remember, while living in Upstate New York, being bored one weekend and driving through Oswego. I remember remembering that Alone Records was based in Oswego.

I stopped at a gas station on the I-81 feeder road and looked in the phone book (remember those?) if there was anything for Alone Records. Keep in mind, I was desperately bored at the time. Anyway, there was an address for Alone Records near the SUNY-Oswego campus and, bonus points for me, it was near the record store that drew me down to Oswego in the first place.

Quick aside: Did you know that Jerry Seinfeld and Al Roker have been friends since they were both students at SUNY-Oswego? Yep, they lived on the same floor of the same dormitory during the late 1970s.

So, I drove around the SUNY-Oswego campus and was mildly horrified at what I saw. Not only were the record store and Alone Records out of business, the entire "campus drag" area was in sad shape. Gone were the typical college neighborhood stores like the head shop and the vintage clothing boutique. It was the first taste I got of the economic woes to come, and this was in 2004. On the way home, I stopped by FYE and bought a used EARTH CRISIS CD. By the time I moved back to Texas in 2005, that FYE was out of business.

Bonus Fun Fact: After all the different shades of nonsense on the website over the years, this Anodyne review is article #400 in the history of No Funeral. Here's to 400 more.


-(16)- - Blaze Of Incompetence

Blaze Of Incompetence

If you're a long-time reader of No Funeral, then you know that I'm not into repeating myself. This desire is the primary reason that the coverage and format of the writing have varied so wildly over the years. Well, I realized that "something was up" when, after two months of conventional record reviews, it was getting harder and harder for me to get pumped up about dissecting yet another album. In the spirit of maintaining spontaneity and preventing burnout, here's another harsh left turn that grinds the gears of the transmission down to nothing.

For the past month or so, I've been watching reruns of The Office in the evenings when I'm trying to write. I wonder if one has an affect on the other? Anyway, while watching the episode where Michael proposes to Holly, I pondered the evolution of Dwight Schrute's character throughout the series.

In the early years of the show, I couldn't stand Dwight. Yes, I'm aware that this was Dwight's denouement and that his role on the show is as a foil but, in my eyes, that is one of the hallmark's of good fiction. Much like Phil Leotardo of The Sopranos, Dwight is a fictional character that elicited a real-world emotional response from me, and I know I'm not alone. I hated Dwight so much that I wrote an outline for a spec script (that never got finished) for The Office where Michael and Dwight go to the Ozzfest (or Mayhem Fest, whatever). In the episode, Dwight, oblivious to moshpit etiquette, gets mercilessly stomped by some Pennsylvania skinheads.

Then time went by.

Then, Michael Scott moved to Colorado and we had two seasons left. Don't get me wrong, I love all the seasons of The Office and I refuse to go down the road of the Seinfeld fans who write off the final seasons without Larry David at the helm. That said, in light of the additions of Nellie, Gabe, Clark, and Robert California; well, Dwight looked almost normal.

Throughout the course of the series, I, as a viewer, had gone from hating Dwight to realizing that, if I hypothetically worked in that office, Dwight would be the only person I could chill with. He's played MOTLEY CRUE, LIFE OF AGONY, and METALLICA on the show, so he's got halfway decent taste in music. Plus, he's into guns, DIY booze, crossbows, and all types of other wacky nonsense. What's not to love? Ultimately, the credit goes to Rainn Wilson for dedicating himself to the character of Dwight Schrute and turning in the performance of a lifetime.

I suppose I should say something about the tunes. -(16)- is awesome. Blaze Of Incompetence sounds EYEHATEGOD and HELMET had a prom night dumpster baby. You'll dig it.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Megadeth - Cryptic Writings

Cryptic Writings

I love Flipside magazine. I found a few dozen used back issues at End Of An Ear Records last year and these tattered zines have been an insightful glimpse into the past. So, when I pulled Cryptic Writings out of the pile to be reviewed, I remembered seeing a review of that record in one of the old Flipside issues. Well lo and behold, I found the issue this week and I'd like to share it with you.

This review was originally published in Flipside #110 back in January 1998. The review was some dude named Ken. To my knowledge, he wasn't a columnist or interviewer but I don't know that for a fact. Enjoy!

These fucking guys are still around? Sure sounds like they mellowed out. Megadeth have gone the way of Metallica with their "alterna-metal" garbage. Laid back. No headbanging here. I suppose they call it progress. Came with a ridiculous doom/gloom comic book containing lyric to their new record or their old one... I don't know. Dave Mustaine still looks like a San Bernardino tweaker to me.


Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza - Danza IIII: The Alpha - The Omega

The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza
Danza IIII: The Alpha - The Omega
Black Market Activities

Let's take a look back at the final album of an unsung (partially, anyway) treasure in metal history. The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza packed it in about a year and a half ago. Once a touring staple during the Mary Jane's/Fat Cat's/Walter's on Washington metalcore years, the luster of shitty band-life had worn off for The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza. It's a shame because this band was heavy like no other.

The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza existed from 2004-2012. All of the band members were originally from Monroe, LA except for the singer Jessie Freeland. In 2004, the band relocated to Freeland's hometown of Mufreesboro, TN and remained there for the remainder of the band's existence. The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza fell victim to record company issues and the global economic turbulence. Attrition reduced the band to a duo for its final two years. O.G. members Freeland and guitarist Josh Travis composed Danza IIII: The Alpha - The Omega themselves and played scant live shows as the band bid adieu.

It's a shame that it ended like this, especially for a band that showed so much promise early on. Danza I caught the 2004 metal world off guard. It featured the same technical insanity as THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN and MESHUGGAH but it also had some serious groove to it. Looking back, Danza I was a precursor to the rhythmic deathcore of THE ACACIA STRAIN and SUICIDE SILENCE that would emerge a few years later. Unfortunately, Black Market Activities, The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza's record label, was unable to capitalize on the early hype and the band petered out within a decade.

It would be easy and lazy to blame The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza's downfall on "the industry" or some other nebulous term but the reality is that The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza's career is not much different than that of most touring bands. A successful touring band gains notoriety in its local scene, has a crescendo of near-mainstream popularity, and spends the rest of its career playing to its core fans. This particular band had a good run and finished with a strong album. Like the Seinfeld TV show, they stopped before they started to suck.

Guitarist Josh Travis is currently a member of GLASS CLOUD. Like former label boss Guy Kozowyk, vocalist Jessie Freeland is now a cop. I'm not what the other members are doing now. I'm sure they are out living life but they're not playing music. At least we the metal public are left with four reminders of the fact that The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza was one of the heaviest bands of the 2000s.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Throwdown - Haymaker


On the eve of the first new Throwdown record in four years, here's a blast from the past. Haymaker was the last album featuring Throwdown's classic lineup. That lineup (before 2004) sounded like the West Coast version of Hatebreed. The next lineup (2004-2010) was, shall we say, highly influenced by Pantera. The new album Intolerance seems so far to be a mixture of the two sounds. I haven't heard all of the new record but I do like what I have heard. The Dimebag-style guitar playing of the newer Throwdown albums is still there but it does sound like a return to the older, beatdown hardcore that made the band famous.

Haymaker is still a personal favorite. I loved it then and I love it now. I don't care that it's considered "simple" or whatever. The record is heavier than Oprah and that's what matters.

If you never heard MONUMENT TO THIEVES, that band is Throwdown's Haymaker lineup, minus vocalist Dave Peters who still fronts Throwdown, and has a mature version of the Haymaker sound. Monument To Thieves is worthy of its own future post.

In the meantime, let's enjoy a record that, while sounding mildly dated, still hits like a jackhammer. Haymaker provided Throwdown with its first hit. The surprise success of "Forever" on Headbanger's Ball and on satellite radio led to festival touring like Sounds Of The Underground, Family Values, and Ozzfest, which led to headlining club tours, which led to flirting with "the bigtime", which led to Throwdown abandoning its old sound a few years later. By all appearances, 2014 is a make-or-break year for Throwdown. We'll see what happens.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Tripping Daisy - i am an Elastic Firecracker

Tripping Daisy
i am an Elastic Firecracker

Speaking of the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex, can you think if a larger city with a more irrelevant music scene? While SEEKER and POWER TRIP are trying to change things, D/FW has been a wasteland for rock music as of late, but it wasn't always that way. It was only 20 years ago that Dallas had nurtured a strong crop of alternative rock bands. THE TOADIES, the REV. HORTON HEAT, REO SPEEDEALER (via Lubbock), THE NIXONS (via Oklahoma City), DEEP BLUE SOMETHING, HAGFISH, THE OLD 97s, and many more were all part of the Deep Ellum scene. The difference between the bold faces and "many more" is that all of the bold-faced bands ended up on major labels. So did Tripping Daisy, one of the most popular bands during the alt-rock heyday of Dallas.

It all started when The Edge started playing "Lost and Found." The only single from Tripping Daisy's first album Bill became a local hit in Dallas after it was picked up by KDGE. Then Island Records came sniffing around (remember, this was the period of The Post-Nevermind Great Alt-Rock Sweepstakes). In the spirit of cashing in, i am an Elastic Firecracker is a decidedly commercial affair. The record is far from musically bankrupt. It's filled with neo-psychedelic riffs and was produced by FUGAZI knob-twister Ted Niceley. i am an Elastic Firecracker has the same intended, radio-friendly gloss as the CANDLEBOXes of the day and it produced the intended results. The single "I Got A Girl" went supernova. That song was inescapable for a few years allowing Tripping Daisy to "move units" as they say.

No, i am an Elastic Firecracker is not Tripping Daisy's grand artistic statement. That record would be Jesus Hits Like The Atom Bomb; a record that would prove highly influential on the current crop of neo-psychedlic indie bands. What i am an Elastic Firecracker shows is that the major label tactic of "sign every band you can find and one of them will eventually produce a hit", well, that tactic actually works.

On the eve of the release of Tripping Daisy's forth record in October 1999, guitarist Wes Bergrren overdosed on a combination of cocaine and xanax. His death stopped Tripping Daisy in its tracks with the surviving members launching THE POLYPHONIC SPREE in 2000. Looking back, it's kind of surprising how similar Tripping Daisy's music is to the modern Austin indie rock bands; everyone from GHOSTLAND OBSERVATORY to BRIGHT LIGHT SOCIAL CLUB. Sure, The Polyphonic Spree is one of the leaders of said music scene but I'd like to think that in some alternate universe Tripping Daisy is headlining the Austin Psych Fest. Somewhere...

In the meantime, i am an Elastic Firecracker is a solid album and a key part of Tripping Daisy's legacy. "Piranha" and "Prick" are awesome songs and "I Got A Girl" is one of the best singles of the 1990s. Killer, man.


Saturday, January 4, 2014

Goo Fish - "One Deep"

Goo Fish
"One Deep"
previously unreleased

Christmas came early this year. I found what was thought to be a lost Goo Fish track. Of course, keeping with No Funeral tradition, I didn't post the track until a month later but that's not important right now. What is important is the story behind this song.

Crucial Chris had written some lyrics about a former lady friend of his. Unfortunately, none of the music that became The Four-Notch Road Tapes fit these lyrics. Fortunately, one fine day in SketchTown, Crucial Chris skipped work and got wasted. Instead of binge-watching daytime TV, Crucial Chris wrote this song. Local hip-hop enigma SCHWEATTY BALLZ swung by and dropped guest vocals.

The finished song, titled "One Deep", was intended for inclusion on a CD compilation that got scrapped. Shortly afterwards, Crucial Chris bounced the fuck out of SketchTown. A few months after that, both Crucial Chris and I searched high and low for the missing song but it had disappeared.

Flash forward three years.

I was going through a box of demos when I stumbled across an unlabeled CD-R. I put it in the CD player not knowing what to expect. As soon as the drum machine kicked in, I knew I had found "One Deep." During the time it was missing, another Goo Fish album had been released. What strikes me about listening to the song now is how different it sounds from The Four-Notch Road Tapes and from the new album Late Night Creepy Uncle. "One Deep" is an atypical Goo Fish song but it serves as a nice snapshot of the band in between periods of heavy production.

Crucial Chris recorded "One Deep" in SketchTown in 2010 using a Korg keyboard, a Jackson Flying V guitar, and a janky four-track recorder.

Crucial Chris would like to thank Lone Star Liquor in Huntsville, Chris' Liquor in Huntsville, Spec's Wine & Spirits in Conroe, Ricky's Liquor in The Woodlands, and the SketchStore (that dude still hasn't had a day off).

Schweatty Ballz uses and endorses heroin.


Friday, January 3, 2014

Turnstile - Step 2 Rhythm

Step 2 Rhythm
Reaper Records

I had trouble getting motivated to write this one. Another day in front of the laptop with The Office flickering in the back while I contemplate my approach to Step 2 Rhythm by Baltimore's Turnstile. I fret and I worry because Turnstile is affecting one of my favorite bands, TRAPPED UNDER ICE. I've been a big fan ever since the Stay Cold EP and I even got to interview those guys back in the day. Trapped Under Ice is the "little band in my back pocket"; a personal favorite about which I feel protective.

Believe it or not, this whole Turnstile thing has to do with Trapped Under Ice's hiatus. The Powers That Be are going to try to break Turnstile into the big time in 2014. Vinyl on Reaper; CD and digital on a yet-to-be-named mid-major. The drummer of Trapped Under Ice is the frontman in Turnstile. All other TUI members are on the Turnstile staff as tour manager, merch manager, road manager, brand manager; everyone's a manager. It looks good on the old 1099 to say manager.

Within the next 12 months, we'll see if this crazy stunt works or not. In the meantime, let's take a look past the marketing scheme and examine the actual music.

I'm happy to report that Turnstile may be on to something with this "let's break into the big time" angle. You can afford to be ambitious when you've got songs like this to back up all the talk. Step 2 Rhythm is filled with elements of modern East Coast hardcore with tons of MADBALL-style breakdowns and an influence that is equal parts BAD BRAINS, QUICKSAND, (the non-moronic moments of) BIOHAZARD, and DAG NASTY. The band's secret weapon is a level of musicianship that is far superior to any of its contemporaries.

Turnstile is the real deal and Step 2 Rhythm is the preview to a potentially game-changing debut LP. KORN was at a crossroads like this after recording its four-song demo with Ross Robinson back in 1993. Both Korn then and Turnstile now are legit scene bands coming up like everyone else but then they both discovered oil wells. They made music that met its genre conventions but was undeniably catchy and accessible. This is a good problem to have.

So, is Turnstile trying to sell out? By definition, maybe, but I'm not going to fault the band for shooting for the Moon. Is Turnstile going to be the next BLINK-182? The band has a better shot at it than most. Is 2014 going to be a big year for Turnstile regardless what happens? Definitely. Can we all take comfort in the fact that, if this Turnstile thing bombs hard, at least Trapped Under Ice will be back in 2015? Yes, but it would be a phyrrhic victory.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Where Are They Now? (Wonderdrug Records edition)

Various Artists
Up The Dosage! compilation
Wonderdrug Records

Welcome to 2014. I've hit the ground running and I'm ready to roll last year's momentum right on over into this year. What do I mean? Earlier today, I added the full album stream to the review of the Wonderdrug Records compilation CD titled Up The Dosage (an ongoing project for this year is to repair all the broken links in the older posts) that was originally written back in 2009. Read the review and hear the record by clicking here. This CD was originally released back 1998. That was 16 years ago! A lot of things have changed since then.

So, instead of getting bummed about time slipping through our collective fingers in our inevitable march towards death, I thought it would be fun to check out what the bands on this comp have been up to between then and now. As you're about to see, this particuar comp had an incredibly strong lineup that covered a wide variety of rock musics. The common denominator here is the city of Boston, MA. Wonderdrug was and still based in Boston and the label focuses largely on the bands from the Northeast. Up The Dosage is a snapshot of the New England scene in the late 1990s.

Boston has traditionally been a stronghold for heavy rock and roll in the United States. With that in mind, how did the class of 1998 fair? Let's take a look...

Bands are listed in the same order as the tracklist. Each band has its Facebook page or homepage linked.

Non Compos Mentis: Vermont psychos formed in 1997, released two albums for Wonderdrug, and broke up in 1999.

Scissorfight: New Hampshire psychos are still at it and are still signed to Wonderdrug. Greatest hits album came out last year.

Tree (Boston Hardwood): Never hit the big time but still active in the Northeast. Tree played a NORML rally in Boston back in September.

Honkeyball: Existing from 1992-99, Honkeyball was notable for NOT playing moshcore during Boston's toughguy era.

Anal Cunt: Somewhere between Pee Wee Herman and John Wayne Gacy lies Seth Putnam, the John Belushi figure of grindcore. Band ended abruptly in 2011 following his fatal heart attack.

Roadsaw: Boss stoner band is still active having released its latest album on Smallstone Records in 2011.

6L6: Early Boston metalcore band existed from 1993-97 and released three albums.

Porn Star: Man, you've got me. As far as I can tell, this is the only song this Boston band ever released. Get in touch if you know what happened to these dudes.

Sam Black Church: One of the local legends in Boston. Existed from 1988-2000 and released seven albums. One of New England's most popular bands during the 1990s. Have played two reunions shows since breaking up.

Reach The Sky: Long-time Victory Records signees existed from 1997-2003. Fun fact: the band's guitarist is now the tour manager for Sick Of It All and the Dropkick Murphys.

Diecast: Prototypical toughguy Boston metalcore band is still active and still touring after a long stint on Century Media. Hit "Hot Topic" level popularity with Ozzfest appearances, videos on Headbanger's Ball, etc... These guys almost hit the big time but still did very well.

Blood For Blood: FSU flag-wavers and kick-ass hardcore band abruptly ended in 2012 following the arrest of singer Eric "Buddha" Medina on rape charges.

Miltown: Formed in the late 1990s by former ONLY LIVING WITNESS singer Jonah Jenkins, fell victim to a botched major label deal with Giant/Revolution/Warner Bros., and morphed into RAW RADAR WAR.

Staind: Hit the big time after changing its sound and signing with Fred Durst. Mega-hit Break The Cycle is one of the best-selling albums of the 2000s.

OHM: The only digital trace of this long-forgotten Boston band is an old Myspace page.

Claymore: Even more obscure Boston noisecore band from the 1990s.

Humans Being: The further we go down this list, the more forgotten the bands get. No one remembers these guys either.

Feces Pieces: Tasteless metalcore existing in a local band time warp.

Quintaine Americana: Transplanted Southern rockers moved to Boston from Mississippi in the 1980s and have been at it ever since. The band curates the annual Redneck Fest in Massachusetts.

Insult: There are at least six signed bands named Insult. This Insult is the Boston thrash punks who are still a full-time band and released their last record in 2010.

Slughog: ...And we close with another obscure, short-lived,generically-named Boston punk band. This one hung in there from 1996-98.

That was fun. Look forward to more of these in the future.