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

 

YOUTH ATTACK bundle

YOUTH ATTACK bundle

I first met Marc McCoy when he was working in a hut outside of a TGI Fridays punching holes in coed spring breakers’ punch cards. He ate a lot of steamed vegetables. I think that was around 1999 and he’s since then, as far as I know, he’s continued to put out music/media artsy projects as well as continued to eat bland steamed foods.

Below is a run down of my thoughts on his most recent releases:

Snarling Hate EP

SNARLING HATE • How To Kill EP

This has a nice little head-bobbing groove to it. The first tune, “Takeover”, is a call to arms of sorts to our under appreciated sanitation workers. The chorus repeatedly shouting, “Keep the Streets Clean” over a hooky little melody, I think, proudly reinforces how we tend to overlook some of our truest heroes. The second number, “Asphyxia”, starts with a straightforward bass intro to set the tone. The song quickly turns to reflect the seasonal allergies that many of us tend to go through this time of year. The lyrics “I need, scratch till I bleed” and “the bloom, build yourself up” is clearly about the struggle of man’s imprisonment by pollen, well done and very thoughtful. The title of the E.P., How To Kill, at first seems misleading since it isn’t so much as a manual on how to kill something, but rather an example of how to do something well. As the kids say, “you killed it” meaning you’ve done a terrific job at this thing you’ve tried.

Mangled State EP

MANGLED STATE • Stigma EP

The first thing I noticed was that this record is smaller than other ones. I think this one is around 6 inches versus the standard 7 inches. Really, not even kidding. I bet you’re wondering if the smaller size affects the play? Let’s find out together. There are 5 songs on this little thing and are all straightforward, powerful and aggressive hardcore. It is the no frills quality that I dig about this but what about their lyrics? Let’s dive in. “Stigma” lyrics start off with “believe in your own shit”, so I like the message but not the potty mouth. Song 2, “Scowl”, lyrics kick off with “take back my life, ripped to fucking shreds”. Hmm, there’s that potty mouth again. Let’s look at the song “Price You Pay”, track 3, “Call yourself a man, conceited, self serving fuck”. Well we almost made it through without the gutter words. “Cast Cut”, on the B side has no potty words. However, the final song “Façade” does. In the end, this is a raging 5 song, 6 inch, record that any fan of straightforward, unabashed hardcore will definitely love. Just be warned though, if your mom hears it, she might wash your mouth out with soap.

Arts EP

ARTS • Graveside Summoning EP

Wow, this is spooky. The very first line of the very first song, “Daemonomie”, is “I am in the grip of evil”. Heavy. However, it takes a boyish and sparkling look into the world of fantasy like the Tale of King Arthur. The packaging in remarkable and if you look at the picture I’ve included, I think that the inside of this envelope is Marc McCoy himself doing some cosplay as the Wizard of Greenpoint. This record has equal parts fiery swords, dark and damp chambers, a thing with scales and eyes, celestial crypts and more. I’d say that this Arts release is a very uplifting record that skips down a little boys dream journal. Sure, there is some scary ass metal-death-creepy-dark-core (MDCDC) but it is creative in a way that doesn’t come off as goofy as some of this style often does.

Life Support EP

LIFE SUPPORT • Die Like A Man EP

First off, this is an incredible looking triple gatefold package filled with artwork of wizards and metaphysical healing crystal imagery. However, Life Support band couldn’t be further away from chakra energy points or what your aura color says about your study habits. This is a tornado of sound and hostility and even has a few slow down “mosh- able” parts. This isn’t going to be an awakening for anyone but is most certainly worth checking out and spinning a few times a year. I just wish I knew what they were so angry about.

Combat Force EP

COMBAT FORCE • Never Stray EP

The cover drawing is of a helmeted knight with sword and shield. I have no idea what to expect but I’m enjoying the TSR arc to this batch of Youth Attack releases. I drop the needle and was hit with a the sound of a fun-time-in-a-bar-crowd that breaks cleanly into a catchy guitar rock-n-roll riff with the memorable and sing-able repeating chorus of “never stray, this is the way.” This record has a thuggish and almost pub-rock/Oi feel to it. Don’t get me wrong. This is, as these all are, a hardcore record. This is a bit more mid tempo and even has a “whoa whoa” part in a song. I thought that with the cover that this would be more about slaying dragons and love potions and a path to become a master of beasts. The song “Breached” touches upon an epic battle on a great field. The final song on the 6 song EP weighs heavily and sits clearly on their feelings about people that prey on children and I’m right there with them. If you’re curious as to the direction they’re leaning on that song, the answer is in the title, “Give ‘em the Chair”. This is a great record.

Well, that’s it for this plop of Youth Attack stuffs. (JD)

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

 

ASTRAL BUTCHER Jan 2020 cassette

ASTRAL BUTCHER

Demo Cassette Tape Jan 2020

A Great Bad Transfer

ASTRAL BUTCHER_1

I got this tape in the mail on Friday and it made for a great start to the weekend.  I had zero knowledge of who these guys were and had never heard them before so I had fun digging around “the google”, while listening to this metal rawness.  The tape was packaged like it came straight out of the 1980’s and a hesher handled it from start to finish and dropped it off to the post office on his way to the mall (to score weed).

Upon the first listen I could hear some demo styled Possessed from like 1984 or something.  Straight up noisy and raw blackened metal that sounded kind of like Chuck from Death had come back from the grave to help them record it in a ’85 sorta way (you know… on a boom box).

Upon the second listen I could hear black metal in the bands sound, but that comes straight from the vox.  Not much can be determined about songs, and the titles etc… this is done pretty mysteriously.  I love the solos that basically hover over the entire recording, and after some digging I found out it was Shaun from Annihilation Time, Gordon Solie, Wetbrain, Midnight, etc. was partially to blame for this nastiness.   The rest of these guys are lifers from Life’s Halt, Annihilation Time, Holier Than Thou?, California Love, Letcherous Gaze, Yarrow etc.  Again, after scouring the inter web I found the bands bandcamp, and can honestly say the band sound totally different than on the cassette tape I got in the mail.  First off, the vox are way to loud for my tastes on their bandcamp and everything sounds cleaner there.  The tape is/was done 100% how it should be done.  It sounds so old, real, and raw that it seriously leaves me wondering how they accomplished this feat.  I was tape trading in the early 80s and this tape could have fooled me.  Do yourself a favor and figure out how to score the actual tape… don’t listen to the digital until after you listen to the tape mix.  Email addy on the tape is Denimyeti83@yahoo.com.  Otherwise try to contact them on their bandcamp. (NW)

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

MAPLEWOOD NJ RECORD FAIR 11/24/19

Maplewood Record Fair Sunday Nov 24th 2019

Maplewood New Jersey

RECORD FAIR_4

Ok so this is a great record convention that takes place in the town I live in and is put on on by an older punk couple who love our community (and NJ in general).  This is Jenn and Charles second show, and they seem to be trying to do two a year at this point.  It’s organized very nicely. They’ve figured out how to make it work. I mean, who can argue with a $3 entrance fee with kids under 18 getting in for free?

RECORD FAIR_3

I had so much fun at this event, and I was there all day. Usually I can’t stomach something like this for that long. But I was able to catch up with friends from within the community of Maplewood to those who traveled afar. I even bought some records!

The fair had well over 40 dealers who were selling everything from vintage stereo equipment to records. Michelle and Cedar Ridge cafe come fully stocked with vegan baked goods.

Some of the cooler stuff I saw being sold there were Metallica Justice promo posters of some sort. They were def in some dudes basement for the last 20 years.  Dude busted 50 of them out and was selling them for $10 a shot, they are very cool.  Saw some really neat guitars, and amplifiers. Dave Golgano is a NJ staple who always has great Metal records for sale. I watched him sell a Razor Armed and Dangerous rarity for big bucks.  Folks were selling boom boxes, cassette tapes, 8 tracks, cheap CDs, turntables, vintage clothing and more vinyl than you can imagine in this very cool old room called the Woodland. I mean this is the kind of convention you dream of with older punk dudes who have gone kids book artist selling off their entire collections to those of us lucky enough to be there.  Do you need the entire Neurosis back catalog on colored vinyl? Well he had it.  You need some Pushead Bacteria Sour releases? He had ’em. 90s emo, hardcore and punk 7”s? My man had ’em. You looking to buy your old bands 10” record back? Well I did it… he had it.

RECORD FAIR_5

Its so awesome to see the young kids from the record collecting community involved as well.. sitting behind the tables wondering why their fathers and mothers are so excited about something you can actually hold in your hands as you listen to the music crackle and pop.

Seriously this was a great time, with basically every genre of music on every format imaginable available to people who are interested. I can’t wait for the next one in June.  If you live in in NJ, NY, or Philly don’t sleep on this event. (NW)

To find out about future fairs, contact: soundselusive (at) gmail.com

 

MUTANT SCUM • self-titled LP

Mutant Scum • Mutant Scum LP

Handstand Records

Mutant Scum

This album came with a sheet of other reviewer’s online reviews and I tore that paper to shreds. I really didn’t want to read about what other people thought for two reasons.

Reading music writer’s written reviews nauseates me (and yes, I’m aware of the paradox). I like the reviews at Bad Transfer because I know the folks and trust their opinions. I was turned off by reviews years ago due to reading too many verbose nonsense descriptions of the music. Know what I mean? I really can’t take shit like “the guitars sound like orphans toppling down a flight of stairs to the back beat of thundering hail storms” et al. = gross

Why include other reviews with a review copy? You want to see if I can measure up to Rolling Stone or Metal Headache or whatever/whoever you also sent this to? Guess what, I can’t because A: This is not what I do for a living. I love music and I pinch these reviews into my free time between being a dad, husband, friend, employee and other slivers of everyday stuffs. B: I don’t think for a second that my words will in any way sway a person (you) into picking this up because I either like it or hate it. I’m betting that you’ve already decided.

So, here’s what is going on for me with this Mutant Scum LP. I really dig the cover of this. It harkens back to the days of high school art projects and my youth’s fascination with global nuclear devastation and whatever is left of humanity being forced underground to live. Seeing this cover, I was transported back to 1984 when I watched the Toxic Avenger for the first time with my friend Matt Kinney. Off the bat I’m intrigued so I took my iPod, wiped it clean and replaced the 10,000 songs with this Mutant Scum LP. I had around 8 hours of solid flight time booked for work so my plan was, that for 4 hours in each direction, I was going to immerse myself into this record and write the review on the plane. I didn’t do that. I tried to but I ended up turning it off and staring out the window for part of the time and watching part of the Dora the Explorer movie for the remaining time in transit. I was later in a hotel and able to sit down and get into this without distraction. Sound wise this a metal/thrash/sludge record. After I really opened up to this I started to get into it and following the arc of the album. Mutant Scum started
to remind me of the Cocteau Twins. OK, hear me out, not in sound insomuch but in the way that the singer of Cocteau Twins, Elizabeth Fraser, doesn’t sing words but she sings sounds and melodies over the instruments to add an entirely new depth to the music by using the voice as an instrument for conveying urgency and emotion without words. And Mutant Scum are doing the same thing! How cool is that! Mutant Scum is the Cocteau Twins of metal and thrash and sludge. Or so I thought. When I got home and pulled open the gate fold, I saw all of the lyrics to the songs. They are mostly about radiation, wizards, blood mentioned a few times, demons, slime and sludge, and did I mention blood? Oh, and they sing about skin problems such as melting off, mutilation, discolorations, itchiness, scars, all the usual skin problems, a dermatologists dream come true. Well, I guess they don’t mention sun burn but that is probably because they do sing about how cloudy it is all the time.

I have a great appreciation for anyone that is willing to put something out into the world. The time to build and practice the songs, create and articulate the vision, and the monetary investment totaled with the other points is commendable. This isn’t quite my thing but it certainly has a place in the world, or at least the underworld, or the world after global nuclear disaster when we’ve crawled from the sewers and relearned how to make record players work. The record is a radioactive slime green and you can buy your own from here:
https://handstandrecords.com/store/items/mutant-scum-mutant-scum-12-inch-lp/

(JD)

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

TOTALED • Lament CD

TOTALED-Lament CD (2019)

Profound Lore

Totaled_2

I’ve been driving around listening to this on repeat in my work van for two weeks and I must say that I’m pretty surprised at how long I’ve been digging on this without becoming totally burned out on it.  It has actually made me want to hunt down the vinyl (but we all know how much we must shell out for a new metal record these days).  

Totaled_1

This album starts off with some really cool and mellow acoustic guitar playing. These parts come back a few times throughout the listen.  Straight after the mellow intro things immediately rip into a blasting frenzied black metal style that I’d say reminds me of really early Watain, Mayhem, Dark Throne, etc.  Personally, I’d have lost interest in this album if it just continued down that road but it doesn’t.  There is a very cool epic crust style that is also happening with some obvious Swedish and Japanese Hardcore influences.  Along with all of that, Tragedy immediately comes to mind with some of this bands riffs and parts.  I really like how Totaled have been able to successfully merge crust with BM.  It works for them and sounds catchy and melodic, yet still retains its heaviness and speed. The record has major balls.  The production is pretty killer too.  Profound Lore put this out and have been at it forever churning out some super listenable metal.  (NW)

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

Why Is This Even Collectible? Vol. 1

Join Devon as he dares to ask:

Why Is This Even Collectible?

Vol. 1

Nokemono_1

Ever feel your heart race as you grab a super-obscure want list record from the cheapy bin only to be left scratching your head upon first spin wondering what the fuss was about? Ever snag a weird looking slab you never heard of that quickly becomes a favorite record in your collection?

In “Why Is This Even collectible” we’ll look at collectible records of all types, from top-shelf items that are worthy of a lofty price tag to those that completely defy logic. We’ll also look at obscure titles that fly under the radar, but are tough to pry off the turntable once you give ‘em a spin.

My first entry falls into the latter category:

Band:                               野獣 (Nokemono) trans. Wild Beast
Title:                                From the Black World (1979)
Label:                              Sound Marketing System, Inc. (SMS)
Vinyl Variations:            Regular label, White label promo

Line-up:
Cherry – BassNokemono_2
Ace – Vocals
Rolla – Guitars
Bunchan – Guitars
Popeye – Drums

Living in Japan for an extended period of time was a record collectors dream. Stuff like this Nokemono LP would just appear in the bins in top shape for next to nothing. Some epic hauls were had during each of my stints there, though the resurgence of vinyl is finally catching on in Japan, too, with prices starting to climb in response. One saving grace is that Japanese shops tend to be super-strict with their grading, so any blemish can result in a massive discount. This is a big advantage to a US record freak who’s used to being charged top dollar for musty, skated on, seam split, and ring worn garbage.

When I picked this up a few years back, I had no idea what it was other than that it looked too cool to leave in the bins. After getting home I discovered this is LP is a pretty important milestone in Japanese metal. With 44 Magnum and Vow Wow, Nokemono formed the first wave of Japanese bands straddling the line between hard rock and heavy metal, with From the Black World widely considered to be Japan’s first true metal record. Apparently, Nokemono were big in Japan, winning the Nagoya Midlands Grand Prix at Yamaha’s battle of the bands in 1978 and opening for Judas Priest at the Nagoya stop on the Stained Class tour that same year, but they only released this one decent LP.

From the Black World actually reminds me a lot of Sin After Sin (1977) -era Priest but with production that’s closer to Point of Entry (1981). You get plenty of metal staples here…some cow bell, a gong, galloping and whinnying guitars, and an air raid siren screams topped off with a dual lead guitar assault of Rolla/Bunchan that’s half Tipton/Downing half early Smith/Murray. The two standout tracks “Runaway” and “From the Black World” that open each side of the LP are both hard drivers and difficult to extract from your brain after a listen, but as is typical with most metal LPs of the era, there are a couple real clunkers on here (most notably Big Wednesday). All-in-all, while it’s not a game-changing debut, From the Black World definitely deserves a spot in any serious metaller’s collection.

Why is this even collectible?

Japan only pressing for Japanese market, so pretty scarce.

Widely accepted as Japan’s first true metal album, so historically important.

Advantage: Buyer! Not many people will even know what this is when it comes up in the bins or for auction, so prices paid are all over the place. That said, you’ll probably still never see this in a dollar bin in the US.

Price range: Though not perfect copies with an obi have gone for over $200, if you’re willing to be patient you can probably pick up a copy without an obi for under $30.

Tracks:

1. Run Away (03:09)
2. Terrible Night (04:37)
3. Tozasareta Machi (03:59)
4. Ushinawareta Ai (04:48)
5. Big Wednesday (04:45)
6. From The Black World (04:05)
7. Back Street (04:22)
8. Hai Ni Kieta Kako (06:13)
9. Ari Jigoku (04:49)
10. Run Away (Part II) (00:25)

(DC)

 

THE GATE (1986)

THE GATE

1987, Canada

Director: Tibor Takács

Starring: Stephen Dorff (Glen), Louis Tripp (Terry), Christa Denton (Al)

Viewed: Streaming

Transfer Quality: Excellent

The Gate

Terry: I got something to show ya…They’re called Sacrifyx and my Dad brought it from Europe…and it’s got all this stuff in it! See, these guys were like really serious about demonology and it’s like they’re trying to warn you!

Terry shows Glen record album

…See, these guys knew. They wrote their own music. They got their lyrics from this thing called the Dark Book…that’s like the Bible for Demons!

Glen shakes his head incredulously

This was surprisingly great. After watching just the opening dream sequence I was certain The Gate would stay high on my current list of must-sees. I remember this movie kicking around when it came out, but somehow never got around to watching it. I suppose by 1987 I’d already graduated to Nightmare on Elm StreetTexas Chainsaw, etc. and the classic “parent’s go out of town so it’s up to the kids to save the world from supernatural monsters” didn’t hold much appeal. Anyway, seeing it now as an adult I absolutely loved it. Think Evil Dead meets Adventures in Babysitting.

The basic premise is that a tree removal unearths a passage to an underground realm of demons. Parents go out of town leaving the kids alone. Then, through a series of random events the kids inadvertently release the demons into the real world.

A big part of the allure of this film for me is that it captures what it was like to be a suburban middle school kid in the 80s in a surprisingly nuanced way. From awkward kid trying to be cool Glen’s (Stephen Dorff from Blade, Cecil B. DeMented, Leatherface, etc.) obsession with model rockets, to Terry’s (Louis Tripp) innocent fascination with metal, to their shared disgust for Glen’s sister Al’s (Christa Denton) new wave friends…I don’t know, even though the film is silly by nature, there’s just something honest in the way the characters interact that make them totally believable and really brought me back to the heights of excitement and depths of anxiety of my middle school experience.

There is nothing not to love about this film: the lighting, camerawork, effects, and animation, and acting are top-notch. But it’s director Tibor Takács’ (I, MadmanMetal Messiah) pacing that is absolutely masterful. Every time you think the rollercoaster ride is coming to an end and all will end well, The Gate ratchets your cart back up the hump for another plunge. (DC)

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

DARKTHRONE • Old Star LP

Darkthrone – Old Star LP

Peaceville Records 2019

Darkthrone_review_1

I just picked this up on vinyl today after listening to a streaming version that a buddy sent me recently.

What’s incredible to me is that these guys are still at it and have 18 LPs to their credit now. In my opinion this record took a lot of courage to make. Dudes straight up have let their 80’s hair metal roots shine through on much of this beast. In the riffage I can hear the likes of Motorhead (the first song), Wasp, Crüe, AC/DC, Kiss, Armored Saint, Ratt, etc.. I think a lot of black metal fans might not get it, and the only saving grace to them might be the vox (which have a very strong Celtic Frost vibe cutting through). Don’t get me wrong, this is still heavy… just has some other influences I haven’t heard by them in prior releases.

What I love about Darkthrone is that they could give two fucks if they lose or alienate die hard BM fans (or any fans for that matter). They seem to only care about what they like or would want to listen to at a particular moment in time. I think thats pretty awesome. You can tell that both these gentlemen are super open minded when it comes to music and life.

Darkthrone_review_2

I love the first four albums, and for that time period they were radical innovators of that second wave of BM. As odd as it might sound to some I would rank this album right up there after the first five (coming in sixth). Its so catchy, and daring that I haven’t been able to stop listening to it or get the tunes/riffs out of my head.

As I stated earlier I think that it took a lot of courage to play/write riffs like these when they know that their fans can be a pretty closed minded group of individuals. It seems people who follow the genre will usually just want more of the same, and you don’t get that here. You don’t get the rawness, crudeness, or hate that the first four have going for them. You don’t have the crust punk element that seems to have influenced them over the last ten years. This is big sounding (those fucking drums). The production is unbelievably good and I think Fenriz and Ted are able to prove that they are still innovators with this full length. I love everything about it. (NW)