COREY’S JULY 2011 BLEEDERS’ DIGEST
Last year (and the year before) I got way too busy with this thing called life and missed out on a lot of quality music. I am here to rectify the error of my ways, month by month.
Here are the July 2011 releases that got under my skin, burrowed their way into my brain, made my ears bleed, or simply tickled my unmentionables:
JULY ’11 BLEEDERS
These are the keepers. I expect to spin these throughout the year and longer.
Beware of Safety – Leaves/Scars
Let’s start things off on a mellow tip, shall we? Not digging Explosions in the Sky as much ever since they went Hollywood? Wondering where the hell Godspeed You! Black Emperor have been hiding for nearly a decade? Then look no further than the five-piece Los Angeles post-rock/post-metal outfit, Beware of Safety, on their third album. This is plaintive post-rock with occasional bursts of nitroglycerine to keep the listener attuned and honest. A bit of Red Sparowes here, some Isis heaviness there, and some Pink Floydian spacewalks to top it all off. Definitely the least heavy Bleeder on any of my lists this year, but only in a loud, grinding guitars, screaming vocals sense of the word. This album, nonetheless, is emotional, gorgeous, and still Heavy As Fuck (HAF).
Decapitated – Carnival is Forever
BOOM! Now to the opposite end of the metal spectrum. Decapitated is back with a new line-up (you should already know why) and ready for some serious C&BT (Do Not! I repeat, DO NOT watch this at work, at home, or in front of people you care about as you will most certainly get fired, divorced, disowned — take your pick. Also, avoid if you have a weak stomach!!). This is solid tech-death minus the wank. Though verging very near djent territory from time to time, there is enough variation and dissonance here to keep the jaded listener happy. No, this is not the same Decapitated. It is, however, a positive rejuvenation for Vogg & Co. Glad to see the machine is still rolling along.
Disma – Towards the Megalith
Ahem…it’s not often I can recommend an album as a Bleeder, yet never want to hear it again. This, my friends, is that album. Disma is comprised of several underground Death Metal legends including guitarist Daryl Kahan of Funebrarum, vocalist Craig Pillard of Evoken, Incantation, and Gorephobia, and drummer Shawn Eldridge of Funebrarum. Despite their vaunted OSDM pedigree, Disma come across more like a punk rock doom steamroller. The sound here is dense, HAF, and morbidly depressing. Throw in the occasional blastbeats, some hardcore hoedown sections, and a voice that sounds like a flamethrower in your ear and you have yourself a maddening concoction that will stimulate your pineal gland in only one direction. But, seriously, I don’t ever want to hear this album again. Ever.
Exhumed – All Guts, No Glory
Gore metal pioneers Exhumed return after an eight-year hiatus of recording original material with a Riki-Oh-sized gutpunch of blood, guts, and fury. The days of pig snorts and squeals are over for vokillist/guitarist/sole surviving original member Matt Harvey, and have been replaced with a Steve “Zetro” Souza meets Bobby “Blitz” Blitzer higher-pitched late ’80s thrash style of screaming/singing. This is a good thing. Also, the grindy gore of yore has been all but erased in favor of a much more coherent and energetic Death Metal style of riffing, replete with some decent guitar solos. Killer thrashing DM. — “So let it be rotten, so let it be done.”
Hail!Hornet – Disperse the Curse
Imagine if Matt Pike slung guitar for a punk sludge band, with random occurrences of thrash and hardcore, and Mike IX Williams abused the microphone by his side. Welcome to Hail!Hornet. This is a veritable riff salad, but never at the expense of quality songwriting. Short, sharp jabs of southern-tinged sludginess — what else to expect from members of Weedeater, Alabama Thunderpussy, Sourvein, and Beaten Back to Pure? — that is easy to digest and ready-made for instantaneous headbanging. Please tour with American Heritage, now. Please?
Harm’s Way – Isolation
I never look at band photos, watch music videos, nor read online reviews of bands I have never heard before when I write up these Bleeders’ Digests. I want to be focused solely on the music and not be influenced by what a band is supposed to be, from either a record label’s PR perspective, an over-obsessive fanboy’s take on the group, or even the band’s own self-professed philosophical underpinnings. I prefer, instead, to go in blind (as it were) and reach my own personal conclusions based strictly on what I hear. After listening to Isolation, I never, in a million years, would have guessed that Harm’s Way is supposed to be a hardcore band. Now, I love hardcore…well, at least old school hardcore à la Cro-Mags, Crumbsuckers, Fearless Iranians From Hell, Scratch Acid, old COC, old D.R.I., The Offenders, M.D.C., etc. Modern-day hardcore, unfortunately, can be a bit repetitive for my tastes. I believe that if Harm’s Way drops the unnecessarily limiting genre tag of “hardcore,” they should succeed in a big ass way.
These guys remind me more of Filth Pig-era Ministry (which is a damn fine thing despite what critics thought back in the day) fronted by latter-era Napalm Death’s Barney Greenway, mixed in with some occasional Godflesh/”Christbait Rising” distorted vox courtesy of Justin Broadrick (early-era Napalm Death guitarist), filtered through Entombed’s guitar rig. Toss in some Earth sludge, a bit of Louder Than Love-era Soundgarden guitar crunch, and a smidge of Adam Grossman/Skrew incrustrial vocal stylings and you begin to get the idea that these guys are way more than just another run-of-the-mill hardcore band. It was only after I formulated my extremely positive opinion of Isolation that I decided to look up Harm’s Way online. I was stunned to find out that their singer, “Johnny Hammers” Ferocious, will pummel anyone into submission (see below photo), their bassist, John Caution, also sings for Weekend Nachos, and that these guys consider themselves a “straightedge” band.
Don’t limit yourselves guys, simply for the sake of an alleged (or even a fully realized and adhered to) ideology. Of course, push what you believe in, but as is evidenced by this record, you have way more to offer the world than mere lessons in violence and veganism.
Sepultura – Kairos
I have always managed to be present whenever Sepultura does something big in the United States. I was one of the first college radio DJs (therefore, any DJ period) to play Sepultura back in the late ’80s; I caught the band’s first U.S. performance during the CMJ Music Festival, along with about 20 other patrons, in a bondage club (DKZone) in NYC during that same time; I saw Derrick Green’s first post-Max introductory performance at a secret show in L.A. where they were listed as the Troops of Doom; and I shook my head in disbelief as clueless metal scene kids booed Igor Cavalera’s DJ set at a Motörhead/Napalm Death/High on Fire gig at SXSW in Austin a couple of years ago. Of course, I am an old Maxhead and believe they should have dropped the Sep moniker years and years ago. As a result, I never gave the Derrick Green-led version a real shot. Until now. Kairos blows out the speakers with a Ministry-cum-DevilDriver combo-cup of simplistic metal intensity. Green’s vocals are strong and longtime guitarist Andreas Kisser is cranking out some of the best riffs (and solos) of his entire career. A stellar comeback from one of metal’s iconic powerhouses.
SSS – Problems to the Answer
What if Slayer decided to remake themselves into a punk band after releasing Undisputed Attitude, their album of hardcore/punk rock covers? Say hello to SSS. Crossover thrashy punk hardcore with verrrrrryyyy Tom Araya-like vocals served up in under two minutes or less per track is what’s on the Short Sharp Shock menu. As I stated earlier, modern hardcore’s main pitfall is samey-ness. SSS comes perilously close to this edge (unlike Harm’s Way), but throw in a few left-turn quirks to keep it interesting. The nearly eight-minute instrumental, “Strangenotes,” however, definitely should have been left off. It sounds way too juvenile compared to the rest of the album. Added bonus: Napalm Death’s Barney Greenway (there he is again) sings on three cuts. No game-changer this, but worthy of repeat spins.
Toxic Holocaust – Conjure and Command
Thrash Ain’t Dead! And screw all youze guyz who sez udderwize. Joel Grind’s fourth output of retro-thrash pays homage to the beloved style, while simultaneously reminding listeners that this once great genre of metal still pulsates with venom, pissing razors, and bathory. Gone are the overt punk influence from previous albums and in its place is simply more thrashing badness. From the Bay Area to the Teutonic industrial wastelands of Germany, Toxic Holocaust are like a living, breathing thesis paper (audiobook) on “The History of Thrash.” HAF, catchy, and downright vicious. Time to lace up my white Reeboks, throw on my sleeveless Exciter t-shirt, and grow out that mullet again. — “We are the fucking dogs who turn on our masters.”
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As of this publication date, Disma’s Towards the Megalith is the only album not available on Spotify, even though it is listed in my playlist.
Good points throughout the record, but not enough to make we want to revisit it.
40 Watt Sun – The Inside Room (vocals kill it for me); All Shall Perish – This Is Where It Ends; Altars – Opposition EP; Avichi – The Devil’s Fractal; Baring Teeth – Atrophy (liked it less and less with each successive spin); Call To Preserve – Validation EP; Cannabis Corpse – Beneath Grow Lights Thou Shalt Rise; Chelsea Grin – My Damnation; City of Ships – Minor World; Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire – Visceral EP; Demonical – Death Infernal; Draconian – A Rose for the Apocalypse; Dying Fetus – History Repeats; Earth Crisis – Neutralize the Threat; Fair to Midland – Arrows & Anchors; The Greenery – Spit and Argue; Icon In Me – Head Break Solution; Ingested – The Surreption; Intensus – s/t; iwrestledabearonce – Ruining It For Everybody (Krysta Cameron should leave this band, drop the Cookie Monsterisms, and become the next P.J. Harvey, IMHO); J.D. Overdrive – Sex, Whiskey & Southern Blood; Jamey Jasta – Jasta (not horrible); The Konsortium – The Konsortium; The Living Fields – Running Out of Daylight; Lock Up – Necropolis Transparent; Mayan – Quarterpast (almost a Bleeder); Morta Skuld – Through the Eyes of Death; Murder Death Kill – Instigate Infiltrate Annihilate; NeraNature – Foresting Wounds; Pestilence – Doctrine; Rhapsody of Fire – From Chaos To Eternity (sorry, not worthy of their second Bleeder of the year); Ringworm – Scars; Sarabante – Remnants; Soul Control – Get Out Now; Spellcaster – Under the Spell; Stream of Passion – Darker Days; World Under Blood – Tactical
As Hell Retreats – Volition; Boys No Good – Never Felt Better; Crown the Lost – Cold Pestilent Hope; FullForce – One; The Great Commission – Heavy Worship; Hands – Give Me Rest; Heights – Dead Ends; Hekate – Die Welt der dunklen Gärten; I Am Abomination – Passion of the Heist; Isolation – Closing a Circle; It Prevails – Stroma; Knuckle Up! – Motivation From Misery; Serianna – Inheritors; Sleeping Giant – Kingdom Days in an Evil Age; Sol Invictus – The Cruelest Month; Suicide Silence – The Black Crown; Unearth – Darkness in the Light
Was not able to get my grubby little hands on these platters.
Angel Eyes/Beneath Oblivion – split; Aurvandil – Yearning; Ave Maria – Chapter One; As Hell Retreats – Volition; Bayonet – s/t; Big Business – Quadruple Single; Boys No Good – Never Felt Better; City Lights – In It To Win It; Coliseum/Burning Love – Live split; Crone – Endless Midnight; Crown the Lost – Cold Pestilent Hope; Dischord – Casualties of War; End of Level Boss – Eklectric; Hrizg – Inferno; Hundredth – Let Go; iwrestledabearonce – Ruining It For Everybody; Karmakanic – In A Perfect World; The Quill – Full Circle; Shadowside – Inner Monster Out; Whitehorse – Progression
BEST JULY ’11 RECORD
Harm’s Way – Isolation
“Yes, sir, Mr. Ferocious, I’ll get on that positive review right away, sir. Or is it Mr. Hammers?”
BIGGEST JULY ’11 SURPRISE
Finally, some new instrumetal music to write to:
BIGGEST JULY ’11 DISAPPOINTMENT
I’ve listened to so many metal recordings in my life that I am beyond jaded. Of course, years of abuse on my ears has trained me to know whether or not I like a record after only one spin. Many music fans believe it usually takes quite a few listens before certain albums really start to sink in. Not for me. In fact, the opposite usually occurs. If I’m on the fence with a record, I tend to find way more wrong with it the more I spin it.
As such, this month’s Bleeders started off with 20 acts that I liked on first listen. Repeated listens, however, knocked out more than half the field. I was really excited about bands such as Baring Teeth, Cannabis Corpse, Draconian, Fair To Midland, Icon In Me, Ingested, Intensus, Jamey Jasta, The Konsortium, The Living Fields, and Mayan — at first. The more I listened though, the less I liked them. Sure, each one has some redeeming qualities, that’s why they are considered “Meh’ers,” but in the end, they just don’t do it for me.
Do any of you have this same problem/curse/blessing? Knowing what you like and what you believe to be good based on one listen? Do you find yourself turning off after more than one spin because you hear more things you don’t like? Am I just an old elitist prick? Don’t answer that last one. I already know I am.
2011 TOP 15 EARLY INCLUSIONS
Let’s see if they make the final cut.
Beware of Safety – Leaves/Scars (July ’11)
Harm’s Way – Isolation (July ’11)
Arch Enemy – Khaos Legions (June ’11)
*Jungle Rot – Kill On Command (June ’11)
Looking For An Answer – Eterno Treblinka (June ’11)
Origin – Entity (June ’11)
Argus – Boldly Stride the Doomed (May ’11)
*Infestus – ExIst (May ’11)
*Nader Sadek – In The Flesh (May ’11)
*Olde Growth – Olde Growth (May ’11)
*Wormrot – Dirge (May ’11)
Batillus – Furnace (Apr. ’11)
Cruachan – Blood on the Black Robe (Apr. ’11)
Signo Rojo – promoalbum2011 (Apr. ’11)
*American Heritage – Sedentary (Mar. ’11)
*KEN mode – Venerable (Mar. ’11)
*Of Legends – Stranded (Mar. ’11)
*SubRosa – No Help For the Mighty Ones (Mar. ’11)
DevilDriver – Beast (Feb. ’11)
*Horned Almighty – Necro Spirituals (Jan. ’11)
Inquisition – Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm (Jan. ’11)
Tuck From Hell – Thrashing (Jan. ’11)
*Top 10 First Half of 2011
Metal Releases Listened to – 415
Bleeders – 112
Meh’ers – 178
Blowers – 129
Top 15′ers – 22
PREVIOUS MONTHS’ BLEEDERS
**Some of these releases are possibly late 2010 sets, first-time U.S. releases, or sneak peeks of upcoming albums.**
Corey Mitchell is a best-selling author of several true crime books and is currently helping Philip H. Anselmo write his autobiography.