Friday, 27 July 2012

The Love Below - 2009 Demo Flexi

I recently mentioned of my new found appreciation for the Love Below. It may have taken three years since the band's inception, but I've found myself listening to their tracks so much lately. Although in somewhat reverse fashion, I've also taken it upon myself to acquire all the material the band has put out. After "Every Tongue Shall Caress", the second release I picked up was this flexi of the band's 2009 demo. Of course this isn't as good as their newer stuff, but the elements that make the band great are all there, even if a tad less refined. I've embedded the songs at the bottom so you can hear what I mean.
Again the artwork is in a very similar style to that seen on later releases. It is still very busy, but there is one distinct aspect that screams out as being different; it isn't visually offensive at all. Don't get me wrong, I think the artwork on "Reproductive Rights" and ETSC is great and fits the songs perfectly, but they are still a bit uncomfortable to look at from time to time. For whatever reason, this is lacking that uncomfortable factor.
A389 released this as a limited flexi on clear yellow, so you can probably guess the number it was limited to by now (It begins with 2, and ends in hundred). I was contemplating buying directly from the band, as they had clear copies limited to just 50, but was getting a few things from A389 at the time so just decided to get it from there. It probably worked out as cheaper shipping or something.
Four songs are on this record, which seems a hell of a lot for a single flexi to hold. Usually you only get one measly song to listen to. Anyway, as promised here is the stream of the demo. Its even available to download for free if you fancy it.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Rot In Hell - As Pearls Before Swine 12"

This is another album that I'd have for a while on formats other than vinyl. I picked the CD version from Deathwish when it first came out, which is actually quite a while ago now that I think about it. For the while I was satisfied just having this, but while doing one of my regular searches on Ebay, I came across this special version of the record. I'm a bit of a sucker for this kind of thing, so set my heart on winning the auction. Luckily it didn't seem to drum up too much interest (unlike a damn unpronounceable 7" of theirs a wee while ago) so winning it was not much of a hassle.
I suppose this counts as the first proper album by the band. "Hallways of the Always" was a 12" LP released before this, but that was more of a compilation album containing tracks from their various splits and EPs. They haven't strayed from their classic sound here at all, although I'd say the songs are somewhat easier on the ears.
This is a pretty special version of this record. As part of the US release, RIH produced 50 alternate covers of the album, which is what you see above. I actually really prefer this artwork to the standard version (which I'll get to in a bit), it ties in with their other artwork so much better. The subtle process cross is just great too.
The special version of this record is basically the same as the standard version, although with an extra silk screened cover placed on top. Once that is removed, you reveal the standard dead rat artwork. If you read Marcus' post, you'll see he has an amusing theory behind the reason of this artwork. In some ways, I feel he may almost be true.
 I like when records come in gatefold covers, although really only when something interesting is done with the extra printing space. This one is pretty cool, with the continuation of the dead animals theme. I really hope this wasn't the rat featured on the front..
Inside the sleeve is an insert featuring a palindromic version of the rat skeleton featured on the front. I'd like to think this animal were real, no doubt a two-headed rat would just about be the most vile animal most people could imagine.
When this beastly insert is flipped over it reveals the lyrics to all of the tracks. If there is one thing about RIH that really stands out for me, it is the lyrics. This type of music can sometimes get a bit repetitive if you are not careful, and I feel lyrics is one of the things that can really separate a band from the rest of the trash.
As I mentioned, part of the reason I didn't get the vinyl straight away was because I already had this album on CD. The design of the CD mimics the vinyl in every way, it is just as if you shrunk the record down to a quarter of the size and digitized it.
The actual vinyl is a mixture of orange and brown, which I think was limited to 300 copies.
It seems the copy Marcus got came with a bonus CD, Studies In Emerald. I wasn't lukcy enough to get this, but mine did come with a badge of the album artwork.
There we have it, yet another quality release by RIH. Relatively recently, the band has had a bit of a line-up change. Nothing concrete has been released yet, so here's hoping they can top this fantastic album whenever they decide to release something.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Pulling Teeth / Shin to Shin split 7"

This is yet another EP I've had digitally for ages now. I have been meaning to pick up a copy for nearly as long, but whenever I'd come around to adding it to my A389 cart, there was always something else that seemed to take priority. Eventually enough was enough and I decided to just get it with my next order. Luckily, after writing the post about the MMXII music sampler, I was privileged enough to receive 25% off with my next order. What more excuse did I need to pick up a few things I'd been meaning to get for a while?
This EP is a few years old now, so I was rather surprised when there were still several different versions available to purchase. At the time I think a green camo, grey marble, black (with blue cover) and orange versions were up for grabs. I saw the orange version was the first variant pressed, so figured that'd be the best one to buy of the lot. I am unaware of how many were pressed of this, although I assume a set limited amount was chosen. I suppose I could look on deadformat or something if I really feel bothered one day.
By now ya'll should know all about Pulling Teeth, but I'll forgive you if Shin to Shin is a bit less familiar. To be honest I don't know an awful lot about them, except it's Aaron Melnick's new band (from Integrity). The song they play here was their debut material, and it is a very strong song. The solo at 2:05 almost has enough power to melt your face off. I'd also like to think the name of the song "Extinction" is the motivation for the cockroach artwork theme.
Pulling Teeth also contribute one song to this split, which is an early recording of "Grudgeholder" seen in "Funerary", and is ever so slightly less heavy than the re-recorded version. A389 post a mock warning on their site;  "Warning: This record is crammed with more riffs and guitar solos than you'll know what to do with". This is very appropriate for this track.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

The Bouncing Souls - Comet 12"

These days it can be hard for a band to stay together and still sound great for any decent period of time. But after a whopping 23 years, The Bouncing Souls have managed to stay together and churn out their 9th studio album. To be honest, I was not a fan of "Ghosts On The Boardwalk" at all, I've barely listened to it. That doesn't matter though, with Comet they have managed to create another great Souls album. The energy captured in their earlier albums is back and the songs seem as fresh as ones from 20 years ago.
The artwork is really cool on this LP. Although it is really quite simple, the cartoon style gives a real 90's feel to the space picture. It brings to mind the artwork of "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" more than any of their other artworks. The cut-out comet is a great effect too.
The cartoon style artwork is continued on the inside, with the comet about to crash land. No inserts are included this time, but all the lyrics are written up on the left hand side.
Overall, 2500 copies of this record were made, of course with variants in different quantities. Being a split release between Rise records and Chunksaah records, different versions are available from each store. The regular black (and therefore much more boring) version is available from Rise records, with 1000 copies produced. A plain blue retail version is also out there somewhere limited to 500 copies. Bouncing Souls are currently touring and I assume the tour version will be available directly from them. That one is red and yellow splatter, again limited to 500 copies. And finally there is the Chunksaah records mailorder version, which is what I have. This is obviously blue and black splatter, and again (again) is limited to 500 copies. Unfortunately for those slow pokes out there, this is already sold out! I'm pretty sure it only took a few days, but a repress should be happening fairly soon for those who desperately want their hands on a copy. ( In fact, this is already out and some has already sold out again!)
The blue and black splatter effect is done really well and may even challenge the other blue/black splatter record I own. This version goes really well with the blue hues in the artwork, and I'm gonna say the tour version would look great with the inside artwork. Hopefully someone'll post a picture of that before too long.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Integrity / Gehenna 7" split

The stuff I haven't posted about seems to be piling up a bit lately. I usually try and write my posts in the order I receive them, but sometimes things just take a higher priority than others. Of course this is an example of that, I'm just too excited about this record to not write about it straight away. Anyone who has read my blog knows of my love for both of these bands (To be honest, I sometimes feel I talk about Integrity so much that this is basically an Integ worship site). So for them to come together and collaborate on a split is just about the best thing I can imagine, and of course it doesn't disappoint at all.
A wee while, HT records put up an ad for their releases on their Facebook page. On the bottom left-hand corner is a rather different artwork for this split. While I think that one would have been cool as the artwork, I suppose this one is more fitting with the theme of the music.
 This split consists of three tracks; two from Gehenna and one from Integrity, all of which are gold. Gehenna starts things off with "A Parallel Hell", which starts agonizingly slow as it builds up to a state of Gehenna-infused madness. The whole only lasts just under 1:30, which then makes way for "Amphetamine Psychosis". This is reminiscent of the psychedelic train ride present in the split with Blind to Faith, and ends with the slow riff from the beginning of the first track.
If this side of the split hasn't left you in a catatonic state, you can then turn it over to hear the latest offering from the almighty Integrity. "I Know VVhere Everybody Lives" again starts out very slow, in fact it always reminds me of the beginning of "Before The VVorld VVas Young" from The Blackest Curse. The slower pace is kept for a while, but it doesn't take long for the track to burst open with the blistering speed Integrity manages so well.
For a more in-depth review of the tracks, check out this great post be Evan at Total War.
 In total, five different versions of this have been pressed. The version I managed to get my hands on was the pre-order version, limited to 200 on pink vinyl which is now sold out. I don't know about the other versions, but the pink comes with colourful flower patterns on the centre labels. There are also band versions (clear for Gehenna and black for Integrity) that have 100 copies each. If you were lucky enough to witness the European tour (or have someone you know go, like this lucky individual, or this one) you would have been able to pick up a copy of the green version, with just 100 copies as well. But if all that has failed, there is always the regular distro version on blue. This is still available to buy from the new and improved HT vvebstore.
 Inside the front cover we have some more artwork and the lyrics to all three songs. It took me a while to figure out just what was going on in this picture, I think I'll let you have the same fun trying to guess what it is.
 What's more is this completes part of a puzzle in splits between various metallic hardcore bands. I'll try and figure out a good way to photo exactly what I mean soon...

Friday, 6 July 2012

The Love Below - Every Tongue Shall Caress 12"

After a demo, 7" EP and split with Homewrecker, "Every Tongue Shall Caress" is the debut LP by The Love Below. It contains 13 tracks of the most uncomfortably sounding hardcore I've ever come across, but I think it's fantastic. The beauty of this record really comes from the distinctiveness of the band's style. From the absolutely despair vocals to the ever changing tempos, I challenge you to find a hardcore record quite as unique sounding as this.
This LP has been pressed on black and black/tan vinyl and of course I picked up a black and tan version. It was a bit more expensive, but I'd say it was worth it. It complements the cover artwork perfectly, looks cool as when its spinning (especially on the edges) and is limited to just 150 copies. I guess I'm just a sucker for something more limited.
One word springs to mind when I look at the back of the cover, tongues. Tongues everywhere!
The uncomfortable artwork is continued on the insert, with four characters all seemingly joined by, you guessed it, TONGUES! I swear I just keep noticing little things on this piece every single time I look at it. On the reverse of the insert we have the lyrics to all of the songs.
All of the band's material is up online via their bandcamp page. For some reason the track order for this album is completely different to that on the record...

Monday, 2 July 2012

Moutheater - Colonial 12"

Here we have the latest LP from Moutheater; Colonial. I'm really only starting to get into Moutheater, but what I've heard so far is great, this LP being no exception. Although only being 4 tracks long, it nearly reaches 20 minutes and seems a perfect length. 
They've really done nothing fancy with the artwork this time around, but it is fitting for such a bleak release.
The reverse side is just about as basic as the front. Sometimes a basic design just works though, and this is definitely one of those times.
Two versions of this are out there; black and glow in the dark. I thought I had access to an awesome glow in the dark copy, but obviously fate decided I was to have the black version (more on this in a bit).
When I initially ordered this I requested a glow in the dark copy. I don't have any glow in the dark vinyl yet, so was real anxious for it to arrive. After a little while I got an email from Andrew saying he'd run out of these ones. It was no biggy really, I didn't pay anymore for a glow in the dark or anything. However in true independent music spirit, he offered to send me some extras to make up for the mistake. I certainly got a lot more than I bargained on.
The first was another Moutheater album, this time on CD. And what a great album this is! I've been listening to album more than anything at the moment, and there are literally many highlights throughout. It makes me wish I'd been lucky enough to be exposed to Moutheater earlier.
Next was this rather surprising piece. This is "Satanic Logic" by a band name Panther Modern. Coming from the infamous Baltimore, these guys play what I guess you'd call blackened noise. I wasn't sure what to expect, and was surprisingly pleased when I first played it. I find this sort of material can be very hit and miss, but this is definitely hit.
I was again surprised with packaging with this one. Quite uniquely it came with two colour photos and a transparent film from the label. It's a bit hard to tell, but the photos are of a drawing being burnt. What's more is that this tape is limited to just 30 copies!
On top of the two extra music pieces, Andrew also gave me this handful of Moutheater patches and stickers. It's great receiving more than one of these, I always like to keep at least one unused, so I at least have the option of using one of these for something.
Not a bad haul overall aye? Nothing beats getting more great music than you'd expected to receive.