INTER ARMA • Sulfer English 2 x LP

INTER ARMA- Sulfer English 2 x LP

Relapse Records

Inter Arma_1

I really have appreciated Richmond, Virginia’s INTER ARMA’s earlier releases a lot. I’ve given this double LP a listen more than once and just can’t hang or relate to it, and I’ve really wanted to. In my opinion, they seem to have moved away from the heavy doom, Southern stoner sound and traded it all in for a later NEUROSIS vibe. NEUROSIS have always been innovators of sound, and have not been afraid to pursue new/different sounds. With INTER ARMA this record, to me, doesn’t feel truly authentic in the way their earlier releases do. It is almost forced and copied. For me there isn’t really much interesting or even new with Sulfer English, it just sounds like what Relapse Records would want I.A. to sound like (a NEUROSIS clone). The production is great, the musicianship is terrific, but I feel as though they went from almost finding or having their own sound to clearly taking an influence and just rolling with it at full steam. Sorry guys, you lost me on this one.  (NW)

 

Hit me up on Instagram if you want to send me your release for review at: nate_gloom

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Justin Dratson: JD   Nate Wilson: NW   Matt Average: MA

 

CAPITLE • Why 1981 – 1986 cassette

CAPITLE • Why 1981-1986 cassette

Cacophone Records

2019

Capitile

This band might not mean to much to anyone from outside of the Albany NY area… but there is so much I can to say about Albany’s first real hardcore band. These dudes formed out of the ashes of The VERGE (the guitarist and drummer). The VERGE were great, but more dark punk rather than a hardcore band. In 1982 the VERGE got back together and that left CAPITILE trying out other players to keep the momentum going.  Both versions of the band are great. 

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The first I knew of these guys was from the graffiti I saw on the corner of Lark Street and Central Ave in Albany. This must have been around 1983. I’d go to Fantaco Comics and Worlds Records with my parents every Saturday, and would see that graffiti on every trip.  Right there, in huge fucking letters on a wall was written CAPITILE. It was scrawled all over Albany in the early 1980s right up until around 1992 when it was finally cleaned up.  Back then, I had no idea what it meant or who the band was (it was 1983 I was still just a young metal kid). I just thought it was a political statement in regards to Albany being you know… the capital (misspelled). It was in either 1984 or ’85 when these guys played Lark fest. Some work friends (Todd Smith) and myself went to see what Larkfest was all about. We saw a few other really crummy bands playing outside on Lark Street. When Capitle played I had no idea what I was seeing, and didn’t fully grasp what they were doing. I, to this day, still can’t recall much because I was drunk and stoned. What I can tell you is that it was outside, and the sound really sucked. They played on the back of a truck bed, or something.  Larkfest later turned into an annual community festival that still happens to this day.  

Capitile tape_3

Fast forward to maybe 1990 after I’d moved back to Albany from SF, and somehow found the now legendary Erl Records. Immediately, Dave (the owner) and I realized we went to the same high school together and even rode the same bus.  I was the guy sitting in the back of the bus shooting spitballs in Daves afro. At any rate, hanging out at Erl records I became friends with Phil Samuels who was the bassist of Capitile.  We’d hang out at the shop while these guys drank, smoked and talked good music.  Phil told me many stories of those early days of punk in Albany. Unfortunately, Phil (the Surgeon General) passed away a few years ago from lung cancer. He was a super sweet guy and is missed by many of us.

Capitile tape_2

For those of you that have never heard CAPITILE, I just have to say that I have always heard elements of BLACK FLAG, SUICIDAL, MINOR THREAT, and yup, I even hear some AGNOSTIC FRONT in there. Some of the songs are super short bursts, and that was pretty unheard of in Albany back in those days.  

This tape compiles everything these guys ever did between 1981 to 1986.  Twenty five songs from two demo tapes and some compilations. It’s of my opinion that this tape is all you need to hear by this band. Any reunions or re-recorded songs for records are useless to this old dude. Buy this shit! (NW)

Hit me up on Instagram if you want to send me your release for review at: nate_gloom

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Justin Dratson: JD Wilson  Nate : NW   Matt Average: MA

GAME • No One Wins LP

GAME • No One Wins LP

2019

Beach Impediment Records

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It’s kind of funny… because as soon as I put this slab on my turntable the first thought I had was that of the 1980’s Heavy Metal act, ACID.  I proceeded to turn the record cover over and the first song on side two is called Acid.  Maybe I’m not that crazy after all!

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This is nothing like I expected it to be. I expected some U.S. sounding hardcore punk ala Boston for some reason.  Instead it has a great catchy heavy metal feel to it, and I’m guessing that was not really the intention?  Then again I’m way the fuck out of touch with current hardcore/punk.  If this is what hc is supposed to sound like in 2020…well then sign me up, things have definitely progressed and changed a lot for the better because to me it’s really just melodic fast metal (which I’m 100% okay with).  Yes, metal is normally the lane I prefer.

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This music is pummeling with low end aggression, super melodic riffs and vox that are equally as catchy as the riffage.  The lyrics could also be mistaken for some metal lyrics.  Everything about this record is done with professionalism and beauty.  I really love this and have listened to it three times in a row so far tonight.  My only complaint is that the record feels too short, and left me wanting a lot more.  I guess that is the point though, right?

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Jonah Falco is the guitarist in this band, and for those who don’t know he plays drums in FUCKED UP (this obviously sounds nothing like F’dU).  Ola Herbich from Arms Race and Quality Control HQ plays bass and keeps things rumbling along with the drummer who just loves playing beats on the toms.   Great Metal from the land of great metal… England! (NW)

Hit me up on Instagram if you want to send me your release for review at: nate_gloom

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Justin Dratson: JD Wilson  Nate : NW   Matt Average: MA

THE NINTH CONFIGURATION (1980)

The Ninth Configuration

1980, USA

Starring: Stacy Keach (Col. Vincent Kane), Scott Wilson (Capt. Billy Cutshaw), Jason Miller (Lt. Frankie Reno), Neville Brand (Maj. Marvin Groper), Moses Gunn (Maj. Nammack), Joe Spinell (Lt. Spinell)

Director: William Peter Blatty

Viewed: Streaming

Transfer Quality: Excellent

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This is one of the strangest and most unsettling films I’ve seen in a long time, and it totally caught me off guard…I mean with Keach in the lead I was hardly expecting anything cerebral, and the awesome poster art suggested some kind of sci-fi, action/adventure, horror crossover. It wasn’t until the opening credits were rolling that I realized this was written and directed by William Peter Blatty, author of The Exorcist. Quick pause and a Google search later and I understood that Blatty imagined the novel this was based off of, Twinkle, Twinkle, Killer Kane, to be the sequel to The Exorcist.

Admittedly, l spent the first 10 minutes of this with mallet in hand just waiting to ring the gong and be done with it, but The Ninth Configuration really grew on me, proving itself to be extremely interesting and unpredictable. In many ways the movie reminded me of other deep and quirky self-aware black comedies…like Catch 22 or Dr. Strangelove.

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The film opens with Col. Vincent Kane (Stacy Keach), a military psychiatrist, arriving at an army mental facility located in an old castle in the Pacific Northwest. Some of the inmates seem to be there for legitimate reasons, but it’s hinted at that some might just be taking the piss out of the establishment to get a pass on service. Kane is there to sort this all out, however, we soon learn that his method to remedy their ills is to indulge the inmates’ every whim.

As Kane interacts with the patients, he gravitates toward troubled astronaut Billy Cutshaw (Scott Wilson). Though not explicitly mentioned in the film, it turns out that Cutshaw is the connection to The Exorcist, as it was his brief encounter with Regan McNeil (Linda Blair) in full possession mode that drove him to the existential meltdown that caused him to abort his space mission and landed him in the castle of chaos. Through the interplay of Kane’s cool and certain insistence on a higher power and Cutshaw’s utter nihilism, the film becomes a thought experiment testing the limitations of each notion.

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I was quite blown away by all of the performances in the film, with the standouts being the duo of Jason Miller (The Exorcist) as Lt. Frankie Reno and his sidekick Lt. Spinell (of course, played by Joe Spinell of Godfather and Maniac fame) who spend the film working on a production of Hamlet for dogs. Apparently Spinell hounded (no pun intended) Blatty so much that he created a character for him in the screenplay that didn’t exist in the original novel. But it’s Keach who gives the performance of a lifetime here, sometimes seeming to channel HAL 9000 in his calm unwavering reactions to the exploits of the inmates, but harnessing a palpable and jarring rage in the bar fight scene.

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My only real critique of the film is that it should have been about 30 seconds shorter. For me, the trite reveal in the final scene sacrificed all of the heavy lifting that Blatty did throughout this pretty masterfully directed debut for the simplicity of a Hallmark card ending.

I’ll try to forget that last few seconds ever happened.

(DC)

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Nate Wilson: NW  Devon Cahill: DC  Matt Average: MA

DAZED AND CONFUSED (1993) / ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND (2004)

Dazed and Confused marquee

Eternal Sunshine marquee

More great marquee action from the Laemmle Royal Theatre. As I always say, these marqees are a bright spot for me these days. (MA)

BRUTE CORPS (1971)

BRUTE CORPS (1971)

Director: Jerry Jameson

Starring: Alex Rocco, Jennifer Billingsley, Joseph Kaufman, Paul Carr

Viewed: Blue-Ray

Brute Corps cover

The first time I watched Brute Corps was on a DVDr that was burned from a low grade VHS of dubious origin. The print was horrendous. It looked like it was copied from a copy of another copy of another copy and on and on until what was left was barely viewable. Faces were blobs with two black dots for eyes. Voices tended to be the consistent guide, separating one character from the other. Even the nude scene between Kevin and Terry when they’re in the creek was pretty blown out. The only way you knew they were completely nude was because there were no blobs of color on their bodies. The print was so terrible that you could even see cracks in the film negative as the tape via the DVDr rolled on. But I kept with this movie because it is actually pretty good for what it is and an obscurity that should be better known with genre fans. The main characters are fleshed out enough to keep you interested and, at some point, feel sympathy towards.

Fortunately, Code Red released this on Blue Ray, and it looks great. It’s like seeing it for the first time in comparison to that grotty VHS dub to DVDr that I mentioned above. Faces are clear, you can see their features, know who’s who, and enjoy the mean and nasty movie that is coming your way.

Brute Corps starts off with a group of men in military fatigues winding through canyon roads in Southern California on their way to some undisclosed country in Central America. There’s a scene where one urinates out of the back of the truck while it’s in motion and the rest look on is not to be missed because it’s one of those “Did I just see what I think I did?” moments. Indeed, you did. We soon learn these men are a group of mercenaries known as Burkhart’s Bastards, led by the ineffective Colonel (Charles Macaulay). They pass a hitchhiking hippy, Kevin (Joseph Kaufman), who later becomes a central figure in the movie. But first, these Bastards tangle with some bikers, and a short while later stop off at a cantina in a dusty desert town to harass the locals, and prove to all in attendance that they are indeed deserving of the Bastards half of their moniker. It’s here that we are introduced to the sleazy and violent Wicks, played by Alex Rocco (The Godfather, The Entity, Three the Hard Way, Detroit 9000, The Friends of Eddie Coyle,Bonnie’s Kids, and numerous TV shows). He harasses a young barmaid while everyone just looks on. She wriggles out of his grasp, but the stage is set, and you know this guy is one nasty scum bag to not take your eyes off of. He has no moral boundaries whatsoever, just get what he wants and let no one get in his way. Rocco plays him perfectly. A villain you easily despise and will relish in seeing him get his much deserved comeuppance.

That hitchhiker, Kevin, that I previously mentioned just so happens to be headed in the same direction. He’s on the run from the military, and he meets up with Terry (Jennifer Billingsley), the free spirit hippy girl who tells him, “I like to ball, it’s the thing I do very best in life. I should have been a hooker.” Of course they hook up and have sex, and start to develop an emotional relationship rather quickly as they make their way into whatever town across the border their looking to disappear into.

Eventually Terry and Kevin cross paths with Wicks, and go back to the camp with the promise of free food. From here Wicks begins to manipulate the couple for his ends, which is to get Terry. Kevin gets hip to what Wicks is doing but is too high to effectively fight back, and knows he’s outmatched and outnumbered to save Terry from the hell that is coming her way.

Terry’s arrival in the camp exacerbates the division and dysfunction among Burkhart’s Bastards. The distrust among each of them makes you wonder how they made it this far this long. They all want Terry and they will gladly hurt one another for to get her. The ineffective Colonel Burkhart suggests they compete for who gets her, as to them she’s nothing more than a piece of meat. The competitions are pretty goofy for the most part, mostly hand to hand combat, and pad out the running time of the film. One member, Ross (Paul Carr), is sort of the conscious of the group, but for the most part a coward in that he doesn’t act sooner.

Once Wicks gets his hooks into Terry this movie gets nasty and grim. There’s enough tension to keep you engaged, and the performances from Rocco and whoever played Terry are pretty good. Rocco is so vile and sleazy you can’t look away. Terry elicits sympathy as the broken girl. You do wonder how she will go on with life after all the humiliation Wicks put her through.

This movie could be easily written off as a low budget trashy action flick, and it is, but the writers Michael Kars and Abe Polsky (who wrote the must see The Baby (1973)) and director Jerry Jameson (The Bat People, The Six Million Dollar Man, etc.) did pretty well with their resources and delivered much more than anyone could have expected. (MA)

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Nate Wilson: NW  Devon Cahill: DC  Matt Average: MA

COME TO GRIEF 12″ EP

COME TO GRIEF • Pray For The End 12” EP

Grievance Records #4

2020

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I’ve been following everything Terry Savastano has done since I fell deeply in love with his band Disrupt back in the early 90’s. Disrupt played furiously fast hardcore and I was lucky enough to see them at least 4-5 times. His next band Grief played the opposite of fast and they went on to be one of the innovators of East Coast Doom metal. I once saw them open for Man Is The Bastard and I recall their entire set consisted of one Sabbath song that was slowed down to almost nothingness. I was once again hooked to another Terry band. At any rate if you don’t know… Grief broke up in 2001. Terry got the band back together for a few reunions, but in 2014 with the original drummer on board they started playing gigs under the name Come To Grief (yes it’s a Grief LP title). They just started from scratch and did a new band with new records. It’s exactly what you’d expect if you followed Grief.  Slow, droned out harshness that just drops to the depths of someplace where most people don’t want to be. Me… sometimes I like being there. This is the band’s newest release, and features three beasts that just stay in the heavy lane. It’s perfect for the Covid-19 times we are living in. Terry Savastano for President! (NW)

Hit me up on Instagram if you want to send me your release for review at: nate_gloom

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Justin Dratson: JD   Nate Wilson: NW   Matt Average: MA

HIGH ANXIETY (1977)

High Anxiety

Tell me about it! Another one from the marquee at the Laemlee Royal. This one is referencing Mel Brooks comedy from 1977. A little bit of clever humor from the person putting these marquees together goes far these days. (MA)

AN UNEASY PEACE • self-titled

AN UNEASY PEACE • self titled 7″ EP

Dirt Cult Records

An Uneasy Peace

I was taken aback when I heard Lance’s voice on the An Uneasy Peace E.P. Have you ever found a note, or heard a message from someone that you were certain you’d never hear from again? It was strangely both transportive and comforting, while being haunting and sorrowful. An Uneasy Peace is a project of Lance Hahn’s that was aimed at being a hardcore band. Musically it is standard, catchy, SOCAL style HC. But it’s really a Lance record and if you’re reading this then I’m certain you already know what I mean. Lance had a way of turning anything he did into a very definable “Lance Hahn” entity by way of distinct guitar style, lyric phrasing, and voice. I don’t remember where I was when I’d heard that Lance Hahn had died. I remember it was 2007 and maybe Fall. We’d been pen pals from the later years of Cringer through the birth of the internet and onto electronic mail. The last time I’d seen him was outside of Brownies in Hoboken, NJ and I hassled him about records he owed me. It was the first time someone I knew, with a connection to the underground community that I really respected their song writing and art and who was a friend to everyone, had died. I’m happy that this has found its way from an idea to its vinyl home, the way I’m certain it was originally intended. (JD)

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Justin Dratson: JD   Nate Wilson: NW   Matt Average: MA