Monday, 28 May 2012

Psywarfare - Process of Elimination 7"

Where do I begin with Psywarfare? In the mid 90's Dwid from Integrity fame decided to start a side-project involving harsh noise. That is the best way to describe what this music is really, harsh. Harsh right from the start of "Preparation (Your Only Salvation)" through to the end of "Process of Elimination". Listening to it literally almost makes my ears want to bleed. Whats more is that from the beginning to the end, this record can literally take as long as want (I'll get to that later) to be over. 

Anyway, onto vinyl stuff. The colour this was pressed on is literally fantastic, a gorgeous light green/teal. 

If you could really make out the grooves from this picture, you'd be able to understand what I meant when I said this'll play for as long as (or little) as you like. Instead of the usual concentric circles seen in regular records, this is filled with several lock grooves. Below is about the best diagram I could find to explain it to those who don't know what I mean. (courtesy of Basically the needle becomes stuck in the loop playing the same small section repeatedly. I've included a stream of the EP below, check out the various "Signals" to see what I mean. I'm usually into gimmicks such as this, I find them unique and interesting. However I've got one of those automatic armed turntables, which inevitably can be rather temperamental. Having to change through all these lock grooves is just too much of a chore.
As per usual, there are several variants of this floating around. There are versions with clear teal vinyl, as well as a somewhat deluxe version in an embossed cover with a massive 24-page booklet written by the elusive Jacob Abernathy, titled "Release the Fiend". These were released 16 years ago now, so the chances of picking one of those up are slim to none. Instead I've got the more regular version on solid teal with the normal cover. These are still quite hard to come by at a reasonable price though. The cover really does complement the music very well, it disturbs me just as much visually as the tracks do audibly. 
One insert was included along with this record. It's actually quite a bit greener than it appears on the photo, my camera seems to distort colours quite a lot sometimes. Anyway, you can see the same cover picture as on the front, behind the track listings. There seems a lot of tracks for a mere 7", but bear in mind all the lock grooved tracks. Some of these are really only seconds long.
I bought this on Ebay, and as such didn't personally know who (or what) I'd be buying it from. It turns out it was the guy who runs Hemlock Thirteen, who was nice enough to write me a wee note inside the sleeve. If you happen to read this, I do dig it. Thanks.
I've used words like harsh and disturbing to describe this record and in all honesty I can't stand listening to it for too long. So you may be wondering why I bought this? In fact I've briefly wondered that myself. But then I remember that's what I like about music, and why I'm into such music in the first place. It makes you feel something. It may be that you feel empowered, or even disturbed like in this case, but its something. It makes you appreciate the music for what it is, independent of "genre" and nonsense labels like that. Plus it's part of HT history, so it's always fun to collect right?

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Integrity / Lockweld Split 7"

Here is yet another of the early Integrity splits I've been picking up lately. This time Integrity are paired with the rather obscure Lockweld. These guys play experimental/ambient tracks made with various equipment, including power-tools! It looks like HT hosts a site for Lockweld, but one that is not well maintained. A track called "circular saw preview" should be playing, but the address for the mp3 doesn't exist anymore..

As per usual with splits, each band has one side of the cover for their artwork. The integrity side is probably the plainest Integrity artwork I've seen, with the band's skull logo on a black background. That's all I can say really.
The Lockweld artwork has a bit more going on, although not an awful lot more. In the left-hand corner there is the band name in a silhouette of a circular saw. I'm pretty sure I've seen another lockweld record on Ebay that was actually in this shape, instead of the normal circle. If I am indeed correct, that would make for one awesome record, even if the record is a tad obscure for my liking. The title of this side of the split, "Serenity of the Once Lost", looks as if it is written using Wordart from MWord, which I haven't seen used in anything for a while now. Underneath this there are various effects that appear to be sparks, which'll refelct how much these guys enjoy their powertools. 
I don't know of the total pressings information, but I know at least one other variant of this exists out there; a silver picture disc version limited to just 500. I had an opportunity to pick one of those up recently, but instead had to settle for this cheaper regular black version. I'm not sure how many of these were pressed in total, there are no numbers to be seen on this.
Inside the cover are two pages, again one each for the two bands. There is not a lot to say about these either really; they each have a picture of the band members with thanks to various people/groups.
This record contains three songs; two by Integrity and one by Lockweld, in fact all songs were new to me upon buying this. The first of Integrity's is "Divinity In Exile", which is the usual brand of metallic hardcore. You'll definitely notice some different elements though, elements that bring to mind tracks from the infamous "Closure" album. "Fear: The True Name Of Beauty" is next, which takes a route similar to Psywarfare tracks.
The only track Lockweld bring is 'Serenity of the Once Lost". This is a very experimental electronic track, which to be honest I found hard to get into. Perhaps it just needs another listen or two.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

A389 Recordings MMXII Digital Mixtape/Sampler

Many look forward to various religious holidays, birthdays etc. and cannot wait for them to come around. For those in the hardcore community, I'm sure this annual event is right up there with those events in terms of anticipation. That's right, A389 has once again released their annual digital mixtape upon the world, and once again it is completely free of charge. Better still, this is the best compilation they have put together yet! I thought I'd take a little time out of my busy schedule to help spread the word about this fantastic gift. Be prepared, this will be a long post.
So where to begin? This sampler contains such a plethora of tracks that writing the post seems a somewhat daunting task, but I suppose I'll just start from track 1, although I probably won't be able to individually review every single track (there are 52 of them you know).

Things start out with a new absolutely crushing track by Seven Sisters of Sleep, "Slower Downer". For the most part this is exactly what you would expect from this stunning band; "stoner jams for those with short attention spans". However, around the 3:20 mark there is a noticeable change of direction with the vocals, the usual desolate screams are replaced with a deathly growl. It still works fantastic of course. This has made me utterly stoked for the upcoming 7"/CD.
The pace is then drastically picked up as "Poster Children For Family Values" by Countdown to Oblivion starts to play. No time is wasted in getting straight into this song, within 5 seconds your ears are filled with fast pace guitars and screamed vocals that only leave you wanting more.
Ilsa are up next with their "Deadbeat's Ballad". I'm rather unfamiliar (or perhaps totally unfamiliar) with this band so have no previous work to compare this to. Anyway, this starts off with a real dirty sounding down-tuned riff which is continued for about the first two minutes. From here the pace is seriously dropped for a minute or so and is then picked back up.
"Leviathon" is exactly what you would expect from a Ringworm track; it's crazy fast and oh so angry. The highlight of this one is definitely the blistering guitar solo around 1:40.
Things really get crazy with "Worms and Dirt" by Homewrecker. What starts off as a fantastic powerviolence track quickly turns into a slow, heavy crusher of a track. Not bad to cover such a range considering it only lasts 48 seconds.
"Fire" by Like Rats slows things down a bit with a relatively mid-paced track. What really stands out here are the vocals, they are just about the most vicious sounding howls you'll hear for a while.
The next song is the first on here I knew of really well, "Desolate" by Children of God. This was released on the split with SSOS, and is an absolutely brilliant track. It starts with the usual Children of God brand of  chaos they are known for, but also takes time to develop a slower, heavier section to the track.
I'm not entirely sure what to say about this next song. It is called "Social Recall Rewind" by The Guilt Of... and is really something else. The track is some sort of electro beat overlayed with the nastiest sounding vocals you can imagine. I'm not sure if they other material out, but this has certainly grabbed my attention and I'd be interested to hear some more.
If there is one band that broadcasts the diversity of the A389 catalogue more than anyone, it is Anne. Their song "Virginal Plight" is the next track in this sampler, and is probably one of the better songs of Dream Punx, which was released earlier this year.
Pulling Teeth also make a quick appearance here (they had to really, didn't they?). Surprisingly, the track offered is "Lightning Strikes Twice", which appeared on their limited flexi released a wee while ago. I've already posted about how fantastic this track is, and for the guy who asked me about providing a download for this song, you're lucky day is finally here my friend.
How are we going? Still with me? Good.
Young And In The Way are up next with "Death Is Eager To Hold You". This is quite a dark sounding track and has obvious black-metal influences. I can't say this song blows me away, but hey, it is better than 99.999% of the trash people call "music" these days.
"Lt. Fury" is next on the agenda, a track from Junior Bruce. This is a lot more metal inspired, and sounds sorta like a song Thor would playing (or Thor's Teeth for that matter).
God's America play the next track, which is the shortest full length song on the entire sampler, clocking at just 22 seconds. As to be expected with a ridiculously short hardcore track, "Brain Numb" is more powerviolence than anything and consists almost entirely of drums that simply blast through your skull.
The next track is from Hatewaves, and isn't quite what you'd expect. I was thinking this'd be the usual insanely fast, quick track. In fact this is one of their longer songs, although still only 1:23 long. Granted, sections of it are usual Hatewaves, but slower sections still persist in the middle.
Things then get a little less than typical hardcore with "Buyer's Remorse" by The Love Below. This track is from their recently released LP and is purely fantastic. You've got to love the vocals from this band, they really bring something different to the table.
"Untitled" is up next by Empire Of Rats. I can sum up this track in one simple word; Heavy. From the get go, right the way to the end, heavy is all I can think as I play this track.
When I played this next song, I instantly knew it was by Shin to Shin. There is something about their guitar sound that really stands out to me. This track, "Don't Lose Your Way" continues the elements seen in the few other Shin to Shin tracks A389 has released. I don't think they have released a proper record by themselves yet, so the LP that this is from will definitely be something to look out for.
Sick Fix are another band I have no prior knowledge of, but "Boudica" is definitely a good first song to hear.  It is not ground breaking or anything, but is just the sort of fast anger someone is looking for with this kind of compilation.
It is a pity that this next track is only an excerpt. It is the now classic "Dead End America" by Kill Life with Mike IX, from the limited flexi released last year. I suppose the excerpt may be to give those a taste of the band, without damaging the mystery of the group.
"All I Am" is next from Enforcers. This is good and has a real 90's hardcore feel.
The direction is changed again with the next track, "All I Ever Loved" by Pleasant Living. Instead of the usual metallic inspired hardcore, this takes a more melodic hardcore approach, and ends up sounding not unlike various NYHC bands. The group singing in the chorus is a nice break before we start the next beast.
Here we have "Death Knell" from Gravehill. This isn't a new track, but definitely deserves to be on this sampler. Again, I've already posted about this LP, but for those who don't know, this is classic death metal from the same minds that brought you Gehenna.
Cyanrae are a fairly new A389 band, and provide the track "Prescribed Burn". I can't really make my mind up about this one, so I'll just leave it to you to decide for yourself.
"Child Thief" by Triac sounds somewhat similar to a Children of God track. Once again, the boundaries between music and chaos are being utterly blurred for a full minute and a half.
This is probably the next most obscure track on the sampler, "Ekstasis" from Thee High Priestess. It is a rather experimental noise track with spoken word layed over the top. SHE is about to release some more material fairly soon, so keep your eyes good and peeled.
NOTHING is the name of the next band, and they play a song called "Downward Years to Come". It is safe to say they are more like Anne than anything else on the sampler, and are certainly not playing the usual metallic-hardcore. Of course this is another great song, be sure to check it out.
The next few songs are some of my favourites throughout the sampler, the first of which is "Heraclitus" by Rot In Hell. This was previously released on the Omega Sessions with Horders, and showcases the shear diversity of this mammoth band. This is a completely acoustic song and took me off-guard when I first heard it. Of course Rot In Hell play fantastic hardcore tracks, but I'll always have a soft spot for songs like this one.
Another prominent UK band features next, Unholy Majesty. "Age Of Affliction" was released only a while ago on vinyl (and longer ago on cassette) as part of a three-track demo for the band. If you don't enjoy this track then what are you doing here?
"Kingdom of Heaven" should need no introduction, and if you don't know who this is by by now, you really need to do your homework.
Continuing the HT theme, we have "Disciple In My Own Image" by Gehenna. I know when I originally posted about the record this track is from I said I wasn't too sure about it. Who knows what was going through my mind, this track is awesome. I do feel it is a rather different Gehenna track though. It is hard to explain really, you'll have to hear it for yourself to see if you agree.
Low Places are up next with "Struggle To Exist". This song has ridiculously harsh sounding vocals, and like quite a few songs on here, it starts out guns blazing in the beginning, but progresses into a slower droning section towards the end. Diversity within a track is always welcomed though.
Since hearing their 7", I've been wanting to hear more from Pharaoh. That time is now. "This House Is Doomed" seems to pick up right from where "I Murderer, I" left off, so you know it's good. All I can say is bring on the rest of the new material Dom!
Another short and sharp powerviolence track succeeds this from Full of Hell. "The Lonely Path Of The Cestoda" is insanely fast and has two distinct vocals sharing the load. It also ends with a high-pitched screaming that brings to mind Converge's "Jane Doe".
Next Vilipend play one of the longer songs on the sampler, just topping 5 minutes. "Cutting Heartstrings" explores many musical elements; at times sounding similar to The Love Below, but also slowing things down to play much heavier sections.
"Sinking Ships" is one of the more classic A389 releases from Ancient Shores. This is a really straight up hardcore track, with beautifully harsh vocals and pounding drums throughout.
Another real highlight of this sampler is brand new material from the mighty Pale Creation! This track, dubbed "Beauty Destruct" is classic Pale Creation and such is utterly perfect. It's all over the place, while driving forward all at the same time. You can't get enough of Nick Fictions's vocals anyway.
"Blood Stained In White Lace" is something different all again. This song is by a band called Chappelle Des Morts, which I know absolutely nothing of. I'm actually having a hard time thinking of what to write about this one, but it is definitely worth taking some time to listen to this one.
Next we have the epic "Nail Of Dicara" from Virgin Witch. Once again this was already released a while ago, and serves as a polar contrast to the other blazing track on that fantastic EP.
Pick Your Side is next to take the stage with "New War". This was only recently released by A389 and features some of the coolest looking artwork I've seen in a while. This is very much in vain of Hatewaves; basic fast and pissed-off HC that doesn't mess around.
"Demoralizing Banter" is next, and is from Eddie Brock who recently joined the A389 family. This is another Über fast powerviolence track that doesn't stay around for very long. It certainly gets to the point though.
"Perpetual 80's" by Penetration panthers is next up, and I've already expressed how much I love this song. For those into classic punk and wanting something to skate to, look no further than this (as well as the other tracks from the EP).
A surprising track pops up next from Day Of Mourning. "Bitter Taste Of Every Murder" is a really great song, and is classic DOM. Endless genres get too annoying, but for those in need I guess this would be a cross between hardcore and death metal. I could be wrong, but whatever. I was unaware, but a DOM discography will soon be released. I'll be keeping an eye out for that one too.
Withdrawal are up next with "Shapeshifter". If you've ever listened to any Withdrawal, this track will not take you by surprise at all. It is still a good track, but nothing exactly ground breaking.
"Death Clock Ticking" is next from Trapped Under Ice. I know many people are rather fond of this band, I've just never been super keen on them. I just don't see they bring anything new to the table to be honest. Although it does tick all the boxes for a classic hardcore track.
Next to fill my speakers is "Straight Flush" by In Cold Blood. This dabbles in quite a few elements also, at times sounding typical hardcore, but there are definitely some death metal elements desperately seeking their way out and into my ears.
A while ago, Ringworm teamed up with an Ozzie band, Mindsnare, to release a split 7". "Gather to Decompose" is directly from this split. I haven't actually got this split, but from what I've heard, the mindsnare track is pretty fantastic. Listening to it here, I can see why people think so highly of it. These guys play stupidly fast hardcore, and those vocals sound ever so twisted.
A band called Astronomer play the next song, titled "Mud Witch". This actually resembles a song by Moutheater, only with harsher vocals. They'll be releasing a 10" soon, that could be something worth looking out for.
Masaraki next play a song called "Fight Back", originally written by Discharge. This is quite a good cover, although I feel the vocals aren't quite as perfect as they could be. Good effort from these guys though.
Mighty Sphincter mix things up again with their classic gothic sound on "Holy Unholy". This is one of the other highlights on this sampler, I just love who delightfully creepy the vocals are from this band.
Second to last we have a song called "Something Wicked" by Earthride. For the most part this is slow droning track with sung vocals that occasionally delve into howls. Around the 3 minute mark the pace is picked up and is sounds almost like a Black Sabbath track.
Lastly, we have a track from the almighty Vermapyre. "Return Of The Sorcerer" is featured from their debut 7" split with parasite. This sounds so much like an Integrity track it is uncanny (although not at all surprising right?). It's also the perfect way to end the sampler.
What do you know, I did manage to (briefly) discuss every single track. But I've probably talked about this long enough by now. I know you really just want the link right? Download it and listen to your hearts content, you won't be disappointed. Oh, and if you enjoy this sampler, feel free to support this phenomenal record label. I know they'll appreciate it.

Thank you A389.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

7.17 HT compilation 7"

Relatively recently the VVegas vvault was opened for a brief period. Many exclusive items were up for sale, but my wallet could only stretch so far. I spotted two items that particularly took my fancy, and was quick to nab them. The second of these will appear soon, but this phenomenal record was the first I chose, and am I ever glad that it was.

This record commemorates an HT event that occurred almost two years ago, the date of which is the record title (although the date is backwards as it's american!). This particular version comes with a silk-screened cover of various characters surrounded  by piles of snakes, with 7.17 just visible in the top right hand corner.  I also noticed there is a small finger print on the right side of the back cover. I actually reckon that's pretty neat, I doubt anybody else has a copy that has this on it.
Once we open the cover we can see what lurks inside. First of all is the great little insert. This seems to be one of those deals where you can't see the picture when it's close to you, but which reveals itself when it is further away. The left hand side is obviously a face, although the right hand side is still a bit obscure. My best guess is a picture of a snake. I was even lucky enough to get this personalised with my name signed on the side.
The inner sleeve has two number stampings this time. On the first side it is stamped 25 and is out of 100 copies. Three versions were made overall, with this version being distributed amongst the members of the bands.
But this is where the second stamp comes in. This particular version was the VVegas band version, and such is actually only out 10, mine being lucky number 6.
You've probably also noticed that obscure writing next to the stamp. This is another great personalisation done for me. I'm probably correct in assuming that hardly anybody else is going to know what that translates to, or even what language this is meant to be. I'll let you have the fun of figuring it out.
The record is pressed on beautiful green vinyl that looks just about perfect. Side A has a camouflage pattern centre label with the track listings on top. Side B has a picture of a Vampire Bat, courtesy of Motley Crue.
Finally, we also have this VVegas sticker. I never really know what to do with stickers, but they are always a welcomed bonus.
Even if the packaging wasn't as superb, this would still be a fantastic record; the four tracks are really great. Each band plays one song, the first being Verklingen by VVegas. This is a cover of the Integrity classic "Fading Away", so you know it's great. The guitar work sounds even more abrasive than the original. Gehenna play the track "I'll Always Say Forever"; a slow instrumental track with a speech from Charles layed on top. Unreal City is a band I'm rather unfamiliar with, but I have found that this is a band containing +Orr. It is not much of a surprise really, the guitar work in "Oath" has that signature Orr sound. Lastly, Integrity play the fantastic +Orrchida, which actually sounds different from the mix in VVorld's Plague Detonate, Dwid's vocals seem to be emphasised more.

Once again, Ezekiel over at RWHAF has also written an excellent post on this record, be sure to head over there and show him some love.

I also realised there was no good picture of the artwork for iTunes use out there. If you are like me, having really crappy resolution album artwork just won't do, so here is a nice high resolution scan for you.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Integrity - Palm Sunday 12"

It turns out I didn't win that vinylnoize competition. It's okay though, I'd still like to thank the guys for putting on such a great event. I may not see one of those particular RSD releases, but let’s back go to RSD for a little bit.
This little beaut was released by Organized Crime Records as a Record Store Day limited release. Only 3 US stores were privileged enough to receive any copies of this version, and a handful of other places around the globe were set to receive the international version. Of course I wanted one of these, but I figured it was probably not gonna happen unless I wanted to pay those ridiculous Ebay prices. Luckily for me Clint is such a nice guy, and I was able to order one of the few copies he had leftover! He could have easily charged the earth for one of these, but that aint his style.

So yeah, this is a re-release of Integrity's live bootleg LP "Palm Sunday" from 2005, a recording of a show back from '92 (I believe). It sounds like it would have been a great show (like any Integrity show really), but I especially like Dwid's banter between songs. I do wonder if Cleveland really is "as fucking violent" as he says it is. 

The cover continues the biblical theme from the original LP and ties in well with the album title. We have a rendition of the last supper, of course featuring Charles, as well as some other familiar faces such as Anton Lavey. Clint was also actually kind enough to send me two copies of the album cover, one to keep the contents inside as to maintain one cover inside shrink wrap (or at least so I assume).
Two versions were pressed this time around; a white version limited to 250, and a grey version limited to 325. The white copy was for sale in the lucky US stores, while the grey was dubbed the international version. Both were available to buy, but I went with the white as it was the most limited. It also fits the artwork a little better I think. I know a lot of 7"s come in all sorts of colour variations, but I always love it when 12"s are done in colour. The sheer size makes the colour look so much better.
Inside the cover we have a few goodies, the first being this poster.
Of course this is a poster of the artwork, but with the Integrity logo over the top. It'll never see a wall, but it's a good bonus to have. This photo indicates the size a bit better. I was gonna move my cat, but he wouldn't budge. Besides, he fits the album colour scheme rather well don't you think?
Next up we have this other smaller insert. The front is an early photo of an Integrity show with the usual caustic effects overlayed. On the reverse of this we some information about the line-up at the time of the show, as well as some information about the show itself. Incidentally, this era of shows had David Araca on drums, which as you know by now is no longer with us. I especially like the section about the "friends from the college town" who cut the mice cord during the show. Who wouldn't be scared by an entire Integrity audience advancing on them?

Lastly is this rather small card. Although this isn't related to the release much, it is possibly the best extra included in the package and was completely to my surprise.
Yep that's right, OCR is going to be re-releasing more classic Integrity releases. Best of all it looks as if we will be seeing one very soon! If this (as well as TWFT) is something to go by, these'll no doubt be fantastic.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Vinylnoize Competition

Ok I'll admit it, this is pretty shameless. I'm not going to be talking about one of my records here, instead I'm taking one desperate attempt to win myself one of the fabulous RSD releases I missed out on. The great guys over at Vinylnoize are holding a competition for those willing to link to their post. Here is what is up for grabs:
You know I can't afford the price people are trying to flip their records for on Ebay, so hopefully I'll win something!
Head on over to here to check the competition out for yourselves:

Integrity / Mayday split 7"

Recently I've seemed to be quite lucky in picking up old Integrity splits off Ebay. There was the split with Kids of Widney High, the split with Lockweld that arrived just the other day (post to come soon) and then this split with Mayday. For whatever reason, they just haven't been selling for much. In fact this one was so cheap, that the postage ended up being 4 times the cost price (still only $8USD).
This was originally released on Endgame records in 1992. Apparently, "Some 2000 copies were sold within a few months before the label was abandoned". My copy is part of a 1995 re-issue on Game Two records. It has completely different artwork to the original, although I'd say the one I have looks a bit better.
Mayday play two songs that sound pretty typical of early 90's hardcore. Not that that is a bad thing, they are two good songs and complement Integrity's infamous Kingdom of Heaven and Rebirth well. Inside the cover we have the lyrics to these four songs, as well as some information about the recordings. Integrity give praise to the then recently deceased David Araca, who was taken from this earth prematurely due to brain aneurysm. The latest Integrity 7" on A389 is in memory of David Araca, and is a re-release of these songs ( as well as Eighteen).
The version I've acquired is on white vinyl, which I think is limited to 1000 copies, making it the most common of the variants. The Integrity side  features the title of the split; "Les 120 Journees de Sodome". This translates to 120 Days of Sodom, the title of a book written by Marquis de Sade, which coincidentally is inscribed on this side of the record.
Strangely the inscription on the Mayday side is subtly different than the Integrity side. Whereas that side says THE MARQUIS DESADE "120 DAYS OF SODOM', this side has the quotes in a different position; "THE MARQUIS DESADE 120 DAYS OF SODOM". The difference is so subtle that nobody else'll probably care, but I thought it was something interesting.