Wednesday, September 19, 2007


The Last Sucker
Thirteenth Planet

Here’s to another great big 'fuck you' to the Bush Administration. Ministry may be going out, but they aren’t going out without getting the final word in.

After more than 2 decades of writing music, changing the face of industrial and metal, changing band members, changing styles (anyone remember the 'With Sympathy' days?) and being the craziest muthafucka in music, Al (Alien) Jourgensen is retiring the Ministry outfit. But at least he is going out with a bang. The last and final (and he does mean final) collective album under the name Ministry is a monster to say the least.  Personally I think the man is trying to get himself shot.  “The Last Sucker” is an all out verbal attack on the current Commander in Chief and his entire entourage.

The line up for the final go around is without a doubt the most versatile to date. On bass we have Dave Ellefson (former Bassist of Megadeth), kicking out the beats is Jimmy DeGrasso (also from Megadeth, drummer), backing up the 6 strings we find Tommy Victor (front man and lead guitarist of Prong) and lending his dry lung vox to the mix is Burton C. Bell (Fear Factory, Lead Vocals). Top that off with the man himself (Alien) and you have a veritable league of extraordinary assholes.

The Last Sucker is a deadly crossover of speed metal and hardcore industrial, a genre blender that few have successfully managed to combine. Politically charged with a very anti Bush agenda, The Last Sucker tends to come of as comical with songs like “The Dick Song” (calling Cheney Satan’s emissary), “Death & Destruction” (poking fun at our Presidents public speaking ability) and the comical (but somehow appropriate) cover of the Doors "Roadhouse Blues." But the Last Sucker also leans on the dark side, you’ll find quite a bit of anti war anthems and your general god given angst themes as well. Al is not pulling any punches this time. He has a message to send and he is going to have his point made.

As far as the music goes. It sounds like what you would expect from Ministry. He's not exactly reinventing the wheel here. With fast paced muddy guitars, thumping combinations of drum machines and live kits, distorted vocals, and a general feeling of doom and gloom. It's like a punk rock-speed metal-industrial ménage à trois with really angry vocals. So if you like that classic "Ministry" sound this album will not disappoint.

Personally I think the band has run its' course. They say it is better to burn out then fade away, but in this case I think he is doing neither. Everything eventually must come to and end. Can you really picture Ministry pulling a Rolling Stones on us? Al is doing the right thing by ending it at the right time. Al Jourgensen's Ministry will always be remembered. It's not burning out, it's not fading away, it is just ending.

- Alex Pagan

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Bodog Music

Anyone remember Overkill? I sure do. They, along with bands like Testament, Exodus, Anthrax and Megadeth help define the thrash metal scene that started in the early eighties. And while many of these bands have enjoyed marginal success and managed not to fade into obscurity, Overkill kind of disappeared off of my radar for many years. After doing a bit of research, I was surprised to find that the band had released (with this new album counting) a whopping 25 albums!!!! There also has been several line-up changes with only frontman Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth still at the helm. He has been with the band since it's early incarnations so you gotta give the guy props for stability. As far as the music is concerned these guys still pound out great thrash metal with Bobby's signature, snarling, gritty vocals spewing venom at every turn. Hopefully these guys can land a slot on a tour with some of the bigger guns from today and get noticed again. So, throw your horns in the air, bang your head and give it all for Overkill!

- Craig Harvey

Metalocalypse: Dethklok

Adult Swim

It's about time that Dethklok released their debut album! After all, they are the biggest metal band in the world and the twelfth largest economy on the planet. Adult Swim's "Metalocalypse" centers around the five members of Dethklok whose insane exploits, destructive and deadly concerts have made them biggest and wealthiest band in the world (which is evident in the fact that they all live in a giant mansion called Mordhaus and make several billion dollars a year). In all seriousness, the five virtual headbangers owe their album's sucess to Bredon Small (vocals/guitar/bass) and Gene Holgan (drums). Among the 15 tracks we are treated to such hits as "Bloodrocuted", "Briefcase Full Of Guts", "Go Forth And Die" and "Hatredcopter" Seriously folks, it just doesn't get any more metal than this. The "Dethalbum" has got to be one of the heaviest death metal releases of all time and is sure to destroy all the competition once it hit's the shelves. So metal fans you owe it to yourself (and to Dethklok) to get this Cd!

- Craig Harvey

Eyvind Kang

Ipecac Recordings

Violinist/composer Eyvind Kang (who has worked with such artist's as John Zorn, Beck, Bill Frisell and Boris of Sunn O))) teams up with an ensamble of musicians to bring us the beautiful and haunting album "Athlantis". Based on renaissance era-texts, Kang creates dark, chilling choral arrangements that feature vocalists Jessika Kenney and Mike Patton (Faith No More/Mr. Bungle). Merged with Patton and Kenney's vocals are acoustic and electric guitars, horn sections, sitar and a host of backup voices as well. This blend of the elegant and the atonal, the gloom and light, would be right at home in the cathedral as well as the catacombs.

- Craig Harvey

The Amino Acids

Humanity Will Fall Like Pins
Bowl O Phonic Records

This is an album I have been anticipating for a long time. After their last cd "Destroy The Warming Sun", I was absolutely hooked on their unique sound which is an ultra hip blend of Dick Dale, Black Sabbath, Devo, Black Flag and a little Ed Wood. It was heavy, fast, all instrumental and full of really cool samples of old sci-fi and horror flicks. It's been coined "Sc-Fi Surf Punk" which is about the best description I can think of. The new release "Humanity Will Fall Like Pins" is much like it's predecessor in sound and style and that's fine with me. I don't want these guys to change too much. Like certain bands, the Amino Acids have found their niche' and they should stick with it. I don't mean they should never evolve, but don't stray to far from the sound they've created. Their songs are generally no longer than 1:40 with most clocking in at right around 1:00. Short, quick and to the point. (Although I wish some of their songs were a little longer, as sometimes they have a great riff going and it's over to soon). None the less, songs such as "Explosive Heads", "Krel" and "Operation Moon Thing" will simply ripp your skull apart like an alien atomizer ray as will the rest of this fantastic album!!!!!

- Craig Harvey


Bone Palace Ballet
Equal Vision Records

If Robert Smith of the Cure were to front an alt/metal band the outcome might sound a lot like Chiodos. That's the first impression I got when I listened to the band's latest release "Bone Palace Ballet". Vocalist Craigery Owens really does remind you of the Cure's legendary front man with his high pitched shrieks and soft moaning whispers. But Owens has a good voice regardless of the similarities and infuses this with a harder edge, which includes some real hardcore screaming (which thankfully is kept to a minimum, as it's far to common in this style of music today). The songs have quirky twists and turns that are not at all predictable, which I found quite refreshing as well. On the metal side of things the guitars come in blazing with some great riffs and some great lead work! These guys have some serious shred capability and they are not afraid to show it. The song titles are quite strange with titles such as "Is It Progression If A Cannibal Uses A Fork?", "I Didn't Say I Was Powerful, I Said I Was A Wizard". and "If I Cut My Hair Hawaii Will Sink". This is a wonderful departure from the current crop of bands who fall into this genre (that are beginning to all sound alike if you ask me) that show some great musical ideas and display a wealth of talent that should only get better.

- Craig Harvey


Oblivion with Bells
Side One Recordings

The disc was in hand as my fingers trembled with anticipation. It had been five years since I have had this feeling. As I put the disc in I was not sure what to expect. In my opinion these guys have a lot to live up to. The last album, A Hundred Days Off was good. It was no Beaucoup Fish, but it was good to say the least. The there was that online series they ran over the last year, but to be honest that was really hit or miss. I think everyone can agree on that. Now this, this is a full-length album. So I put it in. Here is what I discovered.

Oblivion with Bells is a journey and needs to be experienced as a whole. Member Karl Hyde (the vocalist madman) and Rick Smith (the man behind the board) have really put together an album that unveils a wide range of emotion and music. The album opener “Crocodile” begins with light little arpeggios and softly textured synthesizer. Slowly this builds and builds until an immense array of orchestral and atmospheric sound hit you in the face. It was just beautiful. Crocodile is not your typical lengthy opener in true underworld fashion. While this song is on the short side, it is a definite throw back to the yester years of the Beaucoup Fish era. Synthesized vocals, solid kick drums and a seriously bottom heavy bass line, now this is how Underworld is supposed to sound. “Crocodile” presented itself as a fresh start for Oblivion with Bells by reminding me of what Underworld is known for. Quality. Needless to say I was captivated. From there I ventured to “Beautiful Burnout”, the second entry on this opus. Same as before, a soft entrance followed by a traditional build, followed by an ever so slightly alternating synth line. At the first bridge this songs grabs you when Karl drops a cryptic, bass accented and wonderfully vocoded lyre that is simply soul shattering. This reminded me very much of the passion I found in Underworld’s epic song “Juanita” during the “Second toughest in the Infants” era. Like “Juanita” this was the song that brought it all home for me. This is what I wanted to hear. This is the Underworld I knew. This is the Underworld I loved.

Many a fan of Underworld will know that their song writing styles can very from very aggressive to very passive. Such is not the case on this album. Oblivion with Bells is simply passive. Even the songs that feel like they might turn into another “Born Slipppy” or something of the like, don’t. They just remain as they started. Chill.  Ever since that first listen I have found that this record was best enjoyed during those relaxed down time moments. Those times when you are driving at night with no traffic, a lack red lights and plenty of time to yourself. During those times this album was just perfect.

Without revealing too much information and spoiling the album I would like too touch on a few more key points. There is a little something for everyone with Oblivion with bells. Underworld has never really been a straightforward “techno” band, but more on that “eclectic electro” tip. That is to say they transcend genres. If you like dark soothing ambient electro, you will find that on this album. Or if you like your electro on the trip hop side of life, well you will find that hear too.  Like I said, the album is relaxing and emotionally charged. There are some points that tend to drag, but for the most part the entire entity is top notch. Oblivion with Bells takes you to a familiar place. A place that fans know and love.

Pagan’s Ratings

01. Crocodile ***
02. Beautiful Burnout *****
03. Holding The Moth ****
04. To Heal ****
05. Ring Road **
06. Glam Bucket ****
07. Boy, Boy, Boy ***
08. Cuddle Bunny vs The Celtic Villages ***
09. Faxed Invitation ****
10. Good Morning Cockerel ****
11. Best Mamgu Ever***

Average rating 4 stars

- Alex Pagan

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Moribund Records

And to think that I just picked up this record because I thought the back cover photo of the band made them look like they stepped right out the cover shoot for Darthrone's Transilvanian Hunger. High contrast occultisms aside, immediately into this record I'm being bludgeoned repeatedly by a Mexican blackdeath assault. Taking the most evil parts of death metal's most vile - Morbid Angel, Pestilence, Asphyx, Hellhammer, Sarcofago - during the first minutes of opener "Regnum Satani (In League With Satan We Ride)", Hacavitz try to fucking fool me into thinking they're mere primitive death metal cassette bashers, but oh no no. Hacavitz add a dark psychogeography to their sound, firmly rooted in their homeland and their roots. It could be the subtle accenting in the vocals, a chord change here and there, the frankly terrifying wind instrument that closes out "Regnum" (and pops up again in "Tinieblas-Tenochtitlan" - catch that Aztec reference) the loneliness is bone deep. And by "Ride Thee Nebulah" it's obvious that as much as Hacavitz love Satan (Marduk, Darkthrone, Dark Angel - check it, they cover "Hunger of the Undead!" Fuck yeah!) they also worship good, progressive songcraft (Nile and Incantation loom large).

Songs are way longer than traditional death metal but still chock full of those evil downtuned riffs that only primitve, early tape-tradin' death metal exectuted to fullest potential. The strings hum like devils' forked tongues. Elsewhere it's all blast beats, clattering percussion, screams, funeral doom passages, trebly guitars, speed metal goodness with quasi-mystical soloing, sure it's been done before, but Hacavitz execute it with a feral brio that gives Katun that extra oomph. And to think that Antimo Buonnano (guitarist/vocalist) and Oscar (Garcia) drummer had to fire the rest of their band to allow their blood-soaked aesthetic to take full flight.

Retro low-fi blackened filth meets labyrinthine riffs and verses. Absolutely effective. Surrender to the evil.

- Matthew Moyer

Tomorrow Show: Punk and New Wave

Shout! Factory

I was saddened by the news of Tom Snyder's recent death - strange considering he hasn't graced my television screen for years now, the last time being the Letterman-endorsed stint on The Late Late Show in the late 90s. Stranger considering that Charlie Rose, Terri Gross, Tavis Smiley and others have now taken his schtick wholesale, minus the balls and anarchy, and run with it nightly. Aside from his Soup 2 Nuts production company, which brought us the utterly peerless Home Movies cartoon, Snyder's absence has left a gaping void on the popular culture-scape. His most memorable late-night run, on the Tomorrow Show from 1973-1982 on NBC, was iconic and iconoclastic at the same time. Iconoclastic in that it dispensed with most of the niceties of late night chat - audience tittering away in the background, brief softball-like chats with celebs and no smoking - and iconic in the figure Snyder himself cut on the program, Shaggy, abruptly sideparted grey hair, an intense stare, totally dated college prof/hipster attire and a cigarette constantly burning between his fingers - Snyder seemed more like a no-bullshit late night dj than a nicey-nicey host - his interviews were longer and much more frank, conversation was heady and Snyder was prone to making little in-jokes to his staff and camera crew at the drop of a hat. In a word or two, fucking awesome. Can't believe this was on NBC. Please, please, scour Youtube for vintage Snyder-y goodness.

And since Tom Snyder wasn't afraid to ask the tough questions and try to crack the tough nuts, it seems obvious that Snyder and representatives of the then-nascent punk and new wave movements would meet. Or is that clash? See, though Snyder was probably the most competent American television host to give the punks a sympathetic airing, the interviews that comprise the majority of Shout! Factory's collection of the cream of Snyder's meetings with punk and new wave artists are tense and uncomfortable at best. Oh, hey wait, just like punk rock. Call it generational angst. Call it rebel meets rebel. (Am I the only one who thinks that when John Lydon and Tom Snyder are hissing back at one another, cigarettes held like knives, two sets of eyes flashing with contempt and not blinking at all, that it might just be an estranged father-son duo?) But it doesn't go down smoothly. And yet, they kept coming back. Which is pretty brilliant if you think about it, for both Snyder and the bands - both get street cred from their respective audiences AND there is always the possibility of an oldster picking up a Jam disc based on Paul Weller's impassioned performances of "Pretty Green" and "Funeral Pyre" or some spikey-haired naif deciding to maybe get home by midnight the next night to see who this grandpa has on his crazy show.

The "preview disc" I got for review had a roundtable on punk with a clearly bemused Bill Graham, some rock critic, an overacting and unbearable (as usual) yet completely entertaining Kim Fowley, who all sort of exchanged non sequitors for awhile as Snyder smoked impressively and tried to let someone else get a word in over Fowley. But the atmosphere became utterly electric when Paul Weller (pulling off the feat of chewing gum and smoking while seething in a canary yellow jacket) and Joan Jett join the discussion. Graham gives Weller credit for being an excellent songwriter, Weller seemingly wills the entire panels' heads to explode at once and the very young Jett is utterly charming and innocent, despite her Susie Quatro as a Hell's Angel image. Brilliant. The Jam return for the two incendiary performances I mentioned above, notably for prime footage of a young Weller at the height of his powers with the Jam - loud as hell, dressed to kill, somehow making white socks look cool. However, there's an audience in that episode - what the hell? Final episode is the famously disastrous show with Snyder interviewing a sullen John Lydon and (a smacked out) Keith Levene, just finding their way in the world as Pil. It's a masterstroke of mindgames, aggression and awkward pauses, I think Snyder was failed by his researchers here and Lydon undone by his distaste for Americans. Too many missed opportunities. And yet, it's awesome to see the old guard and new guard go at each other, not giving an inch, hatred simmering - making you realize, hey we're not that different after all.

Moral of the story: I want to start smoking now.

- Matthew Moyer

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

GG Allin and the Murder Junkies

MVDVisual, 2007

Do I REALLY need to get into this one? Very well: This is a reissue of the documentary on legendary scum rocker GG Allin. All those stories you heard about him shitting on the stage, and his public nudity, and his habit of slicing his own flesh to bloody shreds, and all manner of anti-social behavior? Yeah, it’s all caught on tape here. With that as a warning (this is GRAPHIC AS HELL), this does provide a fascinating glimpse into the world of Allin, right up to his death from an overdose (you even get some footage of his coffin being carried to his grave). I wouldn’t personally purchase this, since it’s a curiosity you will probably view only a few times and then get bored/jaded, but it is something I could see a lot of punk fans wanting to watch at least once. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you if you have a sensitive stomach.

- Adam Naworal


Army Of Bad Luck/Stickfigure, 2007
Crazy lo-fi electronic punk/no-wave. VERY appealing to the experimentalist in me! Retconned is what would have happened if Throbbing Gristle and the Screamers decided to have an absinthe-fueled jam session. As you can imagine, the music is stunning in its stark coldness. Absolutely recommended.
~Adam Naworal


Mute, 2007
Being a Liars fan, this album was initially kind of a letdown. Repeated listens have proven it to be as good as anything else Liars have done, but it does lose points for not being anywhere near as experimental as past releases. Those expecting the frantic sound of outings like DRUM’S NOT DEAD and THEY WERE WRONG SO WE DROWNED may also be disappointed at first, but as an off-kilter post-punk outing this is still solid gold. Recommended, but neophytes should really check out any of the past albums first.
~Adam Naworal

Prinzhorn Dance School

Astralwerks/DFA, 2007
This CD completely baffled me at first. From the packaging alone you know this is going to be odd: A strange little photo (I think) in gray on pure black, the back being black with little information. Then the inside has a few more strange pictures and the lyrics printed in a simple little font. It looks like the package was made by some other form of life on some strange planet beyond the sun. The music, surprisingly, is no less alien. Stilted and stuttering martial drum beats that manage to be simple yet complex at once, a strangely recorded guitar that more often or not is hard to identify as electric or acoustic playing lines that would make any No Wave guitarist put down his guitar and walk away in shame, and bizarre somewhat shouted/somewhat declared/never truly sung male and female vocals……… These are the ingredients that sound so horrid on paper, but work absolute magic on the CD. After a while, once you get used to the sheer oddity of it, the album becomes addictive, and you find yourself tapping along and replaying it. At that point the only remaining strangeness is what in hell possessed Astralwerks and DFA (both highly electro-centric labels) to release this, but kudos to them! Perhaps the only thing this can be compared to is the Young Marble Giants, those mostly forgotten Scottish post-punk darlings. But Prinzhorn Dance School is no YMG ripoff; they are perhaps more wondrous and completely idiosyncratic. Absolutely 100% recommended to everyone.
~Adam Naworal

VHS Or Beta

Astralwerks, 2007
I never really gave these guys the time of day. I regret that now. This is a thoroughly enjoyable disco-punk outing. The drums have that classic 70s disco swing to them, and the songs as a whole have the same feel. At the same time, the vocal delivery is nicely varied, and some tracks are more post-punk than disco, resulting in an interesting and varied listen. The lyrics of course probably don’t mean a thing, but with music this catchy, who cares? Very well worth your time!
~Adam Naworal

Mindless Self Indulgence

Metropolis/Uppity Cracker, 2007
The music of MSI really gains something when you see their manic live performance. Chock full of audience baiting, weird antics, and extremely amusing banter, OUR PAIN YOUR GAIN completely justifies MSI’s existence. Filmed over the course of three nights in New York, the band tears through thirty songs in just over an hour. The bonus features are actually quite nifty as well, consisting of both versions of the Jhonen Vasquez-produced “Shut Me Up” video, the “Straight to Video” vid, making-of featurettes for both, two fan videos, and some bonus silliness. MSI is usually a hit-or-miss proposition, but this package is all hit.
~Adam Naworal