Saturday, 22 December 2012

One Year!

It seems rather strange, but I've been running this website for a whole year now! In some ways it seems like that time has gone by incredibly fast, but in others it feels like it was much longer than a year ago I wrote my first post. I'd firstly like to thank everyone who has read anything I've had to say, it's great I at least interest some people out there. I'd also like to thank those of you who've taken the time to comment on something. But mostly I'd like to thank the artists who have released all this great music I've picked up over this last 12 months. Hopefully I've helped at least some of you spread the word about the great work you've been doing.

As it is what everyone else seems to do at this time of year, I guess it is appropriate to do a sort of 'Top List' or something like that. There has been a lot of stuff I've really enjoyed so it may be hard to whittle it down to a reasonable list. But here it is, my favourite things I've acquired (and been able to post about) this year.

Best Cassette Tape
Compared to records I haven't got as many tapes this year, but I'd have to say my favourite was this demo by Unholy Majesty. It is purely devastating and is instantly similar to the likes of Rot in Hell. I was really quite lucky to get one of the last cassette copies as well.

Best 7" EP
This (and the next) is by far the biggest section to choose from, I'm pretty sure I've gotten more 7" than anything else. As such I think it is fair I choose a couple of records to sit as 1st equal, starting with Sins of Malice. This is Rot in Hell's debut EP containing 3 ripping tracks, the packaging is nothing short of excellent either.
Second in 1st equal would have to be Oede's One Man's Trash. This is also the debut EP by Oede, released by Holy Terror records earlier this year. That small label just about can't put a foot wrong can it? This was a very interesting EP, which can only be described as being black metal blues. Being play on a cigar box guitar only makes this even better.
The last 7" I'll mention is the self titled 7" by Grace. This was a complete surprise to me as it came as a freebie along with a Pale Creation / Abraxis split. You never know what things will be like when you have no idea about them, but I was really pleased with what I heard as soon as the needle dropped. Perhaps this is my real favourite of the year, so we'll say this gets 1st and the others get 1.5th equal.

Best split 7"
Again this is quite a hard category as there has been so many great splits added to my collection over the last 12 months, but I think my personal favourite would be the Abraxis / VVegas split. Both bands offer brilliant tracks and the VVegas side artwork just looks amazing. My copy was also part of the limited GOTU press, which makes it extra special.

Best CD
This is probably the smallest category to choose from, so is pretty easy to choose. My clear favourite was Studies in Emerald by Rot in Hell. Usually this band plays amazing metallic hardcore, but every so often they show their alternate persona; playing haunting acoustic songs. This CD is ridiculously limited and contains four amazing acoustic tracks, including covers of Johnny Cash and the Misfits. 

Best 12" LP
Now we come to what is probably the most important, the best LP. I think has to be "Every Tongue Shall Caress" by The Love Below. Hardcore can sometimes become a bit stale, but these guys have really produced something different and interesting with this album. Plus they have the most disturbing artwork which gives them a few extra points. I really look forward to hearing more from them in the coming future.

So there we are, my favourite music I've got this year. This'll most likely be my last post for the year as things will be quite busy for me over the next wee while. See you in 2013!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Limb - Demo CD

I was first introduced to Limb via a great review from Gavin at Tight To The Nail. He raved about the demo and was kind enough to embed the songs at the bottom. From what he said I was pretty keen to hear this so I played it as soon as I could. It was really one of those rare times when you hear something and you instantly love it.
I'm not very good at the the whole genre business, but I guess Limb would best be described as stoner metal maybe? Whatever you want to call it, it is three tracks of pure London greatness that pretty much has everything. Catchy yet heavy riffs, great bass work and ridiculously powerful vocals all bringing to mind the 70s. What more could you ask for really? I'll embed it below so you can see for yourself.
This was originally recorded and released in January of this year, but has since been picked up and re-released by Witch Hunter Records. This is limited to 100 CDs.

The packaging for this is relatively basic, but what can you really do with a CD? I do like the skull artwork and heptagram pattern on the CD though.
Although inside the sleeve was some extra goodies. First is a sheet giving a little bit of detail about the tracks. There are also three great Limb stickers that came along. I'm pretty sure the first few copies came with a Limb patch as well, but sadly by the time I got round to buying they had already sold out.
One of the greatest aspects of small independent record labels are the personal touches you get when buying from them. Best of which is when they actually thank you for purchasing one of their items. If you do happen to read this, Chris I am very happy to give my support. I suppose the CD couldn't really have traveled much further could it?
Just as I was about to recycle the cardboard inside the postal package I noticed one more small 'extra'. Somehow I don't think this quite applies to what I bought....
I've also just found they have made an awesome video for 'Daemoness", enjoy!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Integrity - Seasons in The Size of Days 12"

I'd say I definitely have more Integrity records than any other band. While still nowhere close to some collections, my set is definitely growing towards having at least one copy of each Integrity release. That is where I'd like to be at for the meanwhile, maybe then I can expand on lots of different versions or something.

Bringing me one step closer to a set of LP releases is this masterpiece of an album; Seasons in the Size of Days. Released all the way back in 1997, this was the last great album released by the band before their shaky period in the early 21st century. This definitely has a stronger metal vibe than the previous albums released at this point, but was truly a great album. It could be released today and it would still have the same impact on me. "Heaven Inside Your Hell" still sends chills up my spinal cord and tingles my brain. "Burning Flesh Children to Mist" is a particularly interesting track as everyone who features on it is already dead!
 I'm unsure of the pressing information this time around. As far as I can see, 518 copies were pressed on grey vinyl. These usually sell for quite high prices, so I was only able to grab myself a copy of the black version. Perhaps this was a later repress or something?
My copy is in pretty good condition, and luckily still had the original insert inside, which I'm pretty sure features some Stephan Kasner artwork. On the back is the band's line-up at the time. Dwid looks positively possessed in this one.
And of course being an Integrity release, it's completely free to dovvnload! You still don't get the same experience have something tangible though do you?

Friday, 7 December 2012

Give Up - Sleipnir Print

Okay, so this is not a music post today but it is still just as importnat. I got into this through various vinyl releases so it is at least somewhat related. This is "Sleipnir", a print by the Texas based art-project, Give Up. I originally got into Give Up through Rot in Hell, they were responsible for the artwork for some of the RIH releases. And then there was Horders; the musical incarnation of Give Up. Their latest LP, Fimbulvetr, featured a picture of this artwork on the inside of the gatefold cover. I think I said during that post I'd be keen to get a copy of the print, and here it is.
Sleipnir is part of Norse mythology, a mythical eight legged horse belonging to Odin who was sometimes ridden to Hel. It's a very interesting myth, I recommend reading more into it.
As if the print wasn't great enough, it is also limited and hand numbered out of 30. It is hand-signed on the other side as well. What a great touch.

The whole thing came wrapped in black paper with more of Give Up's artwork printed on it, I should really include a photo of that too. Also thrown in for good measure was a Horders Patch featuring the artwork from the latest LP.
Overall a great package then. I urge you to check Give Up out, they deserve your support.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Rot In Hell - Aria of the Devil MiniCD

I check the internet pretty often for new music being sold, at times at least daily. Mainly Ebay and Discogs are what I'd look through, but occasionally I'll stop by smaller places for a quick browse of what's up for sale. One of those places is the RIH webstore. About two weeks ago I decided enough time had passed to check the webstore again, and to my luck I spyed a new item for sale; this 3" mini CD. 
I was really intrigued by this format. I've never really seen mini CD's take off and this is the first one I've owned. Anyway, it contains only one track; a spectacular cover of "Aria of the Devil" by Theatre of Hate. I think I actually prefer it to the original version, it really showcases the talent of the acoustic side of the band (which I know is something I seem to rave on about a lot but it is seriously great).

The artwork is only slightly modified from the original. Of course the band name has been changed, but also the dagger picture has been duplicated to form a crude version of a symbol now synonymous with this band.
For something so small (and a CD), the packaging is really pretty great. On the back was this amazing wax seal with the Rot in Hell logo on it. Their split with VVegas also featured a wax seal holding the packaging together, so hopefully this is something we are gonna see more of from these guys, it's a real nice touch. Although I used my utmost care removing the seal has every so slightly torn the pack of the cover, I suppose it is some consolation that none of the words got too destroyed.
Of course that was not all that came along in the envelope; inside was a free sticker and patch. You shouldn't really need an intro to what these are but just in case, the sticker is for "The Blackest Curse" by Integrity and the patch is from the Texas art project known as give up (responsible for Horders and some truly great artwork which I shall be posting about shortly).
To top it off I also got a thank you letter for ordering. This sort of thing is always so great to get and is always much appreciated.
It's been a while since I've gotten any new Rot in Hell stuff, but hopefully all of that will change soon when Termini Terrae is finally all shipped.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Integrity - In Contrast of Sin 7"

God I was originally going to post about this over 2 months ago! It's a shame that I've looked over such a  seminal Integrity record for so long, but I have finally got myself a copy of ICOS.
In Contrast of Sin was the band's very first 7". This was originally released by the now infamous (for all the wrong reasons) victory records. Over the 22 years since its initial release there have been many versions and represses made, but two years ago Organized Crime records released an official updated repress of the record. Earlier versions seem to fetch quite a high price, so for the sake of just owning a copy of ICOS I decided to opt for a nice new copy of the OCR repress.
Including test presses, I've counted a total of 10 different versions with this repress. There's been everything from clear purple, to glow in the dark, to clear blue with special "In Contrast of Dom" covers. Being very late to the game I've actually got a copy of the second press of the repress. (Is that a re-repress?). This colour is called grey putty and is limited to 400 copies.
As per usual, OCR has done an excellent job on releasing this record, all the little details really do make all the difference. Of course I don't have a copy of the original version to compare to, but luckily Marcus at The Endless Quest has and has done an excellent comparative post. The above picture is from the inside of the sleeve, and it certainly looks impressive.
Inside the sleeve we have this insert featuring the now classic photo of the band and ICOS artwork. The inside contains all the lyrics, but you know all the words already right? They've really managed to keep the old-style of the inside, it looks exactly like it's been cut and stuck together.
Finally is the back of the cover with this truly great photo. Overall it's a great package, but then when has OCR ever steered me wrong?

Friday, 23 November 2012

Pale Creation / Hessian split 12"

It's hard to believe it was a whole month ago that I reviewed the tracks for this split, where has that time gone? Anyway, after hearing the MP3's I couldn't wait to get a physical copy of this split. Digital music is fine and easy to listen to, but it just doesn't compare to having something tangible in your hands.
I previously only saw one side of the artwork, the Hessian side. One lovely commenter posted about disliking the artwork because of the 'stupid white stripes'. I actually rather like it, if you look well enough you can see the lines can be used to spell Hessian. It is however nice to see that there is also a Paler side to the split artwork. This is courtesy of DH, and has now been printed as a limited t-shirt.
It seems the norm that Magic Bullet presses their records on three different colours, and this release is no exception. Blood, purple/red and red/black variants were pressed and I opted for the blood version. The colour has really turned out great too. I've a feeling I remember reading the total press is out of 500 copies with undisclosed numbers of each colour. I'll just say this is out of 166.667.
Of course there are other goodies along with the record. First and foremost is the sleeve insert. Each band has one side, while only thee Pale side any lyrics.
I love when record labels throw in freebies along with orders, and Magic Bullet is one that seems to consistently give me something extra. This time I received a copy of the CD "I Have Supped Full of Horrors", by Romance of Young Tigers, which consists of 4 instrumental tracks. The artwork on the CD is also really great. The four songs are available to listen to online, so I'll embed them down the bottom.
I was also hoping to have the Kill Life record along with this, but sadly Magic Bullet has had a problem with receiving their copies from the pressing plant. Hopefully the wait won't be too much longer...

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Moutheater - Ornament 12"

Here is another record I've been pretty excited about for a wee while now. This great album was first brought to my attention when ordering the later Moutheater album, "Colonial". To make up for the lack of glow in the dark copies of that record, a copy of the CD release of this album was included. Ornament was first released three years ago on CD, and rumours have been circulating around the depths of the internet that it was finally going to receive the vinyl treatment. A couple of weeks ago it finally did so I made sure to order one straight away.
Aaron has done a great job with the layout for this release. The same dead bird artwork is present from the CD, but has been stripped of the Moutheater logo and album title, which definitely cleans the whole thing up considerably. Instead of on the cover these are on a sticker on the plastic sleeve, a real nice touch.
Three different versions of this have been pressed, pink/green, green/green and pink/black. The pink/green version is only limited to 6, but sadly was not available to the public. The green/green version was then the obvious choice, this is limited to just 24 copies and is now all sold out. It looks amazing as well, I wasn't sure just what it'd look like but it is just great. The pink/black is still up for sale via Head2Wall, but is also rather limited (to 220). You can see one what this looks like here.
Also thrown in the package is a trusty insert. On the front is the lyrics to every track and on the back is some info/thanks.
The label also gave me a download code (which coincidentally I didn't need) and a card advertising their recent summer sampler. If you're a fan of Moutheater or are just intrigued I'd suggested checking it out at the below address. You've got nothing to lose with free samplers anyway.