Friday, 27 December 2013

Best of 2013

Before I start I'd just like to note that this site now also has a Facebook page so you can stay up to date and all that jazz. Feel free to jump over to it with the button on the right hand side.

The year is very quickly wrapping up, and thus it is the time that everyone starts putting up their best albums of the year. I did do this last year, so thought I would keep up the tradition once more.
It has been a great year with lots of stellar releases, but these are what have stood out for me. Bare in mind that these were not all necessarily released this year, they have just been featured on the blog sometime in 2013.

Best Cassette Tape

I have been picking up a few tapes here and there again this year. A few honourable mentions include Rot in Hell's demo tape and the three tape Negromancy set, but my favourite above all is "Fonograms of Violence and Terror" by Brazil's Shade of Mankind.
The release was handled by Stirvve Recordings, so was of course top notch. The whole thing came inside a biohazard bag and came with badges, a massive poster and all kinds of other goodies. The tracks are also brutal as hell, with an incredibly wicked Integrity cover. 
These guys are on the cusp of releasing a new LP, check out the released tracks so far right here.

Best 7" EP

Last year this category was the toughest, because I definitely get more 7"s than anything else. There were still a lot to choose from this year, but there was one that stood out so far beyond everything else that the choice was actually quite easy. This was of course Studies in Emerald by Rot in Hell.
The tracks were actually released a while ago, on two separate CDs, but this year saw the band release them on 7" vinyl. RIH have always been known for their incredible packaging, but they really stepped up their game with this release. First of the vinyl had a transparent x-ray image of a fly which looked utterly fantastic. There was also a book, an x-ray insert (that appears to be different for every one of the 30 or so that were produced), stickers, a stencil which was all put together in a green hard slip-case. It just blew me away.
Funnily enough Studies in Emerald appeared on my list last year as well, it must show how great the tracks and the band really are.

Best split 7"

This is an other category that was relatively easy to choose as well. Of all the splits I acquired this year, I think I was most excited and pleased with the Cape of Bats and AVM split released around September. Ever since I heard the split AVM did with Integrity I have been trying to find more about this obscure band, desperately trying to find any more tracks. When I heard news of this split I was more than ecstatic and ordered it as soon as it was available.
I still listen to Devil's Last Dance much more than most other tracks in my library, I really just can't get enough. I'm hoping 2014 will see the group release even more..

Best 12" LP

Finally, we have my favourite 12" LP. This has to go to Kromosom's Nuclear Reich. For a release that went by relatively unheard of, this thing is fantastic. With this release they seemed to shake of the slightly darker tone to the music released on Holy Terror records and get back to the rawness from their original demo.
The energy captured in this recording is incredibly immense, I'm surprised the recording equipment was able to handle it all, just amazing.

That wraps up 2013. I must confess that things have slowed down here a bit in the last few months, but hopefully the new year can see it pick up a bit of steam once again. See you in 2014.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Parasite - Proof Of The Existence 7"

This release seems to have gone by relatively unannounced. It was only through a chance look on Facebook that I saw this announced, but other than that I have heard very little. It's a shame, it is Parasite which means it is bloody awesome.
This EP is released by the almighty Holy Terror records, and contains two new Japanese metal punk tracks. Both are perfect examples of just how great this under appreciated band is, with the whole EP totalling just over 9 minutes. The first 10 seconds were enough to make me jump straight over to the HT store and pick up my copy.

Several copies exist, but although I only purchased a very short time ago I cannot remember exactly what they are. I know there is a green version with a red cover that is limited to 100 copies, and a few other colours in the same boat. What I also know if that mine is featuring a white cover, that I think was limited to just 100 copies on both red and yellow. It doesn't make much of a difference, but it is nice to have something just that little bit more limited.
To be entirely honest, the packaging isn't all that spectacular, although the caliber of the tracks does more than make up for it. The cover artwork is most similar to the hand-drawn artwork from their earlier Sin 7". One thing about Parasite is that they currently don't seem to have any kind of consistent artwork, but perhaps that will change from now.
The cover folds out to show the band logo printed thrice, as well as a band photo and some info/thanks you notes.
The entire EP isn't available to stream online, but the first track is online with the "name your price" deal. Listen and spread the news of Parasite.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Rot in Hell - Boxset I

The name Rot in Hell is synonymous with two great things. Not only is their music insanely good, but they also take so much care with the packaging of their releases that they really shine above anyone else. One of their more elaborate pieces is now part of my collection; The Cvlt of Khali box set. This contains the work present on the Hallways of the Allways compilation on a special 4 7" set.
The entire package comes tied in a customised cardboard box. The band logo has been cut into the back which reveals a familiar face just poking through.
As mentioned above, this set contains four 7"s. These are the original demo, the split with Brain Dead, the split with The Process and the split with Hordes. I did already have copies of all of these, so this is marking my second copy of each (actually third for the split with Hordes). These are the same as the standard copies of the record, except for the demo, Sins of Malice. The original had a hand sprayed process symbol on the B-Side, whereas this version has an Ouroboros scratched on instead. I think this is the better copy of the two.
There is also a bonus CD that comes tucked alongside the records. This covers the rest of the tracks that were available in the Hallways compilation. It is a bit difficult to see, but this also has the band logo printed very subtly on the topside.
In terms of music that is it for the set, but in terms of everything it is far from over. The first (and probably most special) part of this release is this print on black card.It in insanely detailed and shows just how much effort is put into these releases.
The next is this RIH t-shirt featuring a bird and a lamb head/rib cage, it is even in my size too. In some ways I wish I hadn't taken it out of the box to photo, it was difficult to fold it exactly the way it was to fit perfectly in the box. There was also a RIH badge/patch combo.
Lastly is this huge fold out poster. To get an estimate of the size, one of the square folds is the size of a standard 7", so it it really quite big. On the pack is the spray paint of de Grimston peaking out the front of the box.
Just beneath the giant head is a stamp showing just how limited this is. Only 35 were made all together, with mine being lucky number 7. This actually came out some time ago now, but a while ago I was lucky to be contacted by a fellow blogger who thought this might be of interest to me.
Overall a fantastic package. They have since made a second boxset which I'm sad to say I have missed out on. Perhaps one day I will be fortunate enough to get my hands on it as well....

Thursday, 5 December 2013

A389 Friday 13th Tote Mystery Bag

A little while ago, A389 came up with a rather novel idea. Along with a new tote bag design they were releasing, you could choose to buy a surprise package. For just $13 (US) the tote bag would come with an LP, a 7" and a CD chosen at random, which was too good an offer to resist, even if you weren't sure just what you would get. As an added bonus, they also did a Charlie and the Chocolate factory style prize, with one lucky bag receiving the golden ticket, a free pass to the A389 anniversary bash!
The 12" I received was the self released title by Cyanrae. The vinyl looks quite interesting, and according to the store is bark/bone vinyl, part of the first press. The LP is ridiculously heavy, and even features a track in reverse. It came with a black and white insert, with photos of the band resembling something fomr Francis Bacon.
Although only one 7" was promised upon purchase, my bag actually came with two. The first is this entirely unknown EP by a band called Diablero. I haven't heard of this band before, and the only information I could find online is that it was released by a label known as Dysphoria distro back in 2010.
The vinyl is mostly black, but does have a hint of red splattered around the centre label. The EP isn't even on the distro part of the web-store, so I'm not sure just exactly where this came from..
Next up is the CD, Guillotine from Frightener. I did receive this as a free LP a while back, but never really got that into it. I should really give this one another listen when I find the time.
The CD has the artwork printed on the top, but overall I don't find CD packaging particularly interesting..
My second 7" was was Vigilante Saint from Wisdom in Chains. This is quite an old 7" in the scheme of things, originally being released back in 2006. To be honest it doesn't blow me away, and doesn't seem to be anything particularly different from a lot of the hardcore out there. It does have some cool artwork, and came on a marbled purple vinyl, so it isn't all bad.
There is then of course the matter of the golden ticket. Sadly I wasn't a chosen winner, but I still did receive this print of a certain FAN declaring I did not receive my free pass.
But that still isn't all. Alongside the 12", 2 7"s and CD I also received a handful of stickers and a flyer for the upcoming show. All that for $13? Not bad....

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Blind to Faith Under the Heptagram - 12" EP

It has been 4 years since Blind to Faith released the almighty "The Seven Fat Years Are Over", but they are finally back with a new 12" EP, "Under the Heptagram". This brings three new BTF tracks, that have been definitiely worth the wait to hear. The whole thing comes to just over 11 minutes, but it definitely showcases the true skill of the band. Not many can switch from blistering speed to slow, heavy riffs so seamlessly. 
The whole package is incredibly brutal. Look at that insane artwork, we've got razor blades, rotting flesh, maggots, and that's not even mentioning the bloodied figure in the middle. It is all really quite shocking to the senses, but then so is BTF's music. It may be nasty to look at but it reflects the music so perfectly. Of course this is another great piece by Szymon Seich, who has done the artwork on previous BTF releases, as well as for many other great hardcore bands.
Three versions of the EP have been pressed so far; red, green and black. I believe that red was the preorder colour, as (quite obviously) it was the one I received. It is definitely a cool looking piece of wax, but the real treasure of this release lies beneath. The tracks only take up one side of the LP, which has left the under side available for this amazing etching of the band logo. I think it may have caused the pressing plant some difficulties during production, but it was definitely worth it. The photo doesn't quite do it justice, because it looks truly amazing.
So once again, A389 have been able to put together a great package. But after going back to their site, I have noticed something else particularly neat they are doing. Not only do they have the regular copies available for purchase, they also have what they are calling a "Diehard set". This contains all copies of the colour variants, and a copy of the test press. It is available for many releases, although at $99.99 is really only available to the diehard fans who have the cash...

As always, the entire EP is available to stream online, so enjoy.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Blacklisted - Heavier Than Heaven Lonelier Than God 12"

Along with the previously posted Doomriders LP, I also picked up a copy of "Heavier Than Heaven, Lonelier Than God", released by Blacklisted a few years ago. I do have a copy of their later LP "No One Deserves to be Here More Than Me", which is really in quite a different direction for the band. Where as that took a more grunge approach, this was a lot more hardcore oriented.In my opinion it is definitely the better album of the two, and I just love George Hirsch's vocals on this.
This LP is inside a gatefold sleeve, which contains some rather unpleasent imagery of a girl who is about to be buried.
The LP I picked up is transparent blue, which looks great with the rest of the artwork. This is actually the 2nd press, out of 2000 copies, so is nothing special in that regard. There is a clear with green haze version limited to only 200 copies that I would really like to see a copy of. Apparently they were only available at the release shows.
After listening to this quite thoroughly, it is hard to see exactly how the band made the progression from this to their next album. Although in some ways this deviated from being a normal hardcore release, it was really still hardcore at heart. But in a year the band managed to change their sound almost entirely. Apparently they are in the midst of writing a new album, so time will only tell if we see a revert or a continuation in the new direction..

Monday, 11 November 2013

Doomriders - Grand Blood 12"

Here we have the brand new album by Doomriders. I first got into them through a Deathwish sampler a few years back, I'm pretty sure with the track "Come Alive". It has now been four years since that monumental album, and they really have outdone themselves with Grand Blood.
I picked this up straight from the Deathwish store. They are probably about one of three bands on the deathwish label that I'm into these days. There was a time when I was overly keen on a lot of stuff they were releasing, but I almost feel that disappeared and transferred onto the far superior A389 records.
The packaging on this release is pretty cool, although there is one thing that grates me a little. It is a 12" gatefold, that opens from the top of the picture. That may be of no consequence to most people, but it means that in order for the spine to be correctly facing outwards on my shelf, the picture has to be sitting perpendicular. I suppose it's only a minor annoyance really.
Inside the gatefold is something I'm seeing a bit more of, a dual purpose insert and record sleeve. It is quite a nice touch really, giving a lot more interest to the regular monochromatic sleeves.
Several versions of the vinyl were cut, including "River of Blood", "Bone and Blood" and "Opaque Purple". These were released as 300, 700 and 4000 copies respectively. It is pretty obvious which one I chose, but this time I decided for which colour I wanted the most, rather than the rarest. I'm pretty happy about the choice, especially since I am lacking in purple vinyl..

Sadly I haven't been able to find a stream via bandcamp/soundcloud. I guess if you really want to hear it (you do), then you will have to hit the Deathwish Estore and get your own copy.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Negromancy - 3 Tape set

If any of you have been following the likes of Integrity or Oede on FaceBook, you have probably stumbled across NEGROMANCY. What is the best way to describe exactly what this is? Perhaps the best decription comes straight from the source; "Negromancy conjures lo-fi blackened creole cigar box guitar spells and other acts of swamp witchery".
But just in case that was a bit obscure, here is an outsider's description. I'd say Negromancy is best described as a tape label specialising in cigar-box guitar based music. This is pretty cool, as generally the instruments are not only played by the musicians, but also produced by them too. They even sell their own wicked looking cigar box guitars from time to time.
But enough about the label. What we have here is one of their latest releases, a set of three brand new tapes. The first, released by Bleme, comes in this great cardboard packaging above. It also came with it's own feather and incredibly loud artwork.
On the reverse of this is another cool aspect of Negromancy. The provide instructions on how to make your own weapons of musical destruction. I'd love to give this a go...
Next in the set of three is this split by VVlad and Nékrhärkh. No I can't pronounce that either.
The tape is dark as hell, with vocals sounding like they emerged right from the depths of Hell. It comes with a rather large foldout/artwork that is equally as menacing.
What I was actually most interested in (and really why I bought the whole package), was this tape by Fog Specter. On the Cvlt of the 7 Crovvns mixtape there was a single track by Fog Specter, Fog Mistress. I tried to find out more about this band online as it was something in very stark contrast to the rest of the tape. My search was not entirely fruitful, and only managed to find a tiny piece of information somewhere.
This tape contains just over 17 minutes of Fog Specter goodness. It is really something quite strange, and feels like it is haunting your very soul. But in a strange way it is quite soothing to listen to.
The whole set is limited to just 33 copies, and sold out pretty quickly. Luckily you can hear everything courtesy of their bandcamp page.