Monday, 25 March 2013

Broken Cross - Anti Human Life 7"

This record has skipped ahead of the list a bit, but I'm a big fan of Broken Cross and couldn't really wait to share their latest creation. Since their (or should I say his?) self-released tape last year I have been keen to get my hands on some more of Broken Cross' take on musical mayhem. The impressive compilation from Classified Resistance had one new track, as did the Oede Cvlt Nation compilation, which were able to satisfy my cravings for a while but it wasn't really enough. Luckily, Broken Cross are the latest child of the HT label and this record sees two brand new songs, as well as some now classic ones.
Not including the test-press version, there are currently three variants of this record. There is a clear, red and green version, with mine obviously being the green. Although I'd say this is more of a teal than green, but it is still a pretty cool looking colour. Each of the versions are limited to 100 copies, with only 66 being available. I'm not entirely sure what that means, and where the other 33 have gone, but it is what it is. Quite a few are still available at the HT store if you want to check it out. I must admit I'm not a fan of the new store layout, but somehow they manage to get the records to you ridiculously fast which is fantastic.
Inside the cover there is a lyrics sheet which is definitely pretty useful for this release. Although utterly perfect for the songs, the vocals are heavily distorted and difficult to decipher. I did already have the lyrics to the first three songs thanks to the previous tape, but with the addition of the two new songs an update was definitely needed. The new songs follow the same dark lyrical theme summed up by the record's title.
If you haven't checked out Broken Cross yet, I'd highly recommend it. They are really something different, which is always good to come across in the world of hardcore/metal.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Organized Crime Records - Halloween MMXII Surprise

Around the end of October has become an exciting for me in terms of records. It has become somewhat tradition for Organized Crime Records to put out a surprise Halloween package. I talked about last year's one here, but for those who don't know this is a complete surprise package. All you know is it's Integrity or HT related and comes with a T-shirt, but the rest is completely unknown at the time of purchasing. It's quite a thrill not knowing what you get, but at least you know if it's from OCR it's gonna be worth it.

It took a while for it all to come together, but it has seriously been worth the wait. A few rumours had spread around the darker corners on the internet about what this might be, so when it arrived I was not completely surprised with what was inside. But I was surprised at just how excellent the whole thing was! It's definitely their best Hallovveen package to date.
Now those in the know will know that OCR has recently re-released Systems Overload as part of their Integrity re-release series. What makes this record so special then you might ask? Well that is a rather interesting story. Back in '95 it seems the mixing of this iconic hardcore record hit some snags and was somewhat rushed when it was put out. This is what sets this record apart from the classic version. This is a remix cut mixed by A2 and +Orr! They've managed to get a hold of the original masters and have discovered new intros, solos etc that had been cut from the original version. They've also tweaked the sound  to make it sound extra explosive and brutal. From the very first note of Incarnate 365 the speakers shake with the shear intensity of this new mixed version.
The packaging is really top notch as well. Everything comes housed in a screen printed sleeve which you can see above. The vinyl is straight red, although I think some black version might see the light of day before too long....

Along side the record is the included poster, which is seriously huge. One side has some gas masked individuals. The other has a large picture of a face that I was only able to make out by looking at the photo, up close it is hard to tell what it is as the poster is so big.
AAAND there is more. This is a short booklet with comments from +Orr and A2. They talk about the idea behind the record and what sort of changes they've made to the classic album. Although it's only about two pages, it's an interesting read.

On the back of this is the track listings. The last track on here is Search For Divinity but it does also include Unveiled Tomorrows. Although this is something completely different to the Unveiled Tomorrows that I've come to know. 
The back of the book is numbered, with mine being number 140/165.
If that wasn't enough there is also a limited T-shirt that goes along with the record. This has the the Systems Overload logo on the front and the Gas-Mask artwork on the front. The words "Halloween MMXII" are also written on the left sleeve. It's probably one of my favourite Integrity shirts I've seen.
It may taken about five months from purchase to sitting on my doorstep, but it's definitely worth the wait. It's a great package and I can't wait to see what OCR has planned for the next Halloween surprise. No doubt it'll come around ridiculously fast once again.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Ancient VVisdom - Deathlike 12"

Keeping in tone with my latest post about Limb, here is yet another "They are back". This is definitely a bit more exciting though, ever since I first heard "Severed VVays" I've been hooked on Ancient VVisdom. A while ago rumours started circulating that the band were working on a new album, and with a live performance of "Last Man on Earth" these rumours gained a bit more momentum. Of course I kept my eyes and ears out for any news, and sure enough Prosthetic Records have now released their brand spanking new album; Deathlike.
The album brings 12 new Ancient VVisdom tracks that continue in the twisted acoustic style you have surely come to love. I really haven't had the chance to listen to this just as much as I should have by now, but from the good few times I've played it I've definitely enjoyed it. The highlight for me is definitely "Last Man on Earth", which I mentioned just before. It really gives the feeling of being totally alone on a deserted plain, it's awesome.

This has been released on both CD and vinyl, but I really had to opt for the record. I'm not sure how many of these were produced in total, but I do know the first 90 ordered came on clear with a black swirl. Lucky for me I ordered quickly and was able to receive one of these versions. I assume the others are just on black, but don't hold me to it.
Inside the sleeve is an insert containing some altered pictures of the band. You can probably just about make out the ribs and wings on Michael and Justin, but the X-ray style teeth on Nathan Opposition is probably a bit harder to spot. Above the group is a rather fitting quote from Edgar Allen Poe; "The boundaries between life and death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where one ends and where the other begins?".

This is one of the few albums where a lyrics sheet is less than needed, what with such clean vocals and all. It's always nice to have though.
Even though I've let it down by not listening to it as much as I'd have liked to, it is definitely a great album. Here's hoping AVV will continue for years to come!

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Limb - Gift Of The Sun 7"

Limb are back! After discovering these guys on Witch Hunter Records I've been craving more from the band, and luckily I didn't have to wait long at all. Thanks to New Heavy Sounds, Limb have released a brand spanking new 7" EP entitled "Gift Of The Sun". This contains three (well, technically four) tracks of Limb's Rock 'n' Roll infused take on heavy music, one of which is a great new version of "Dead Voice" from their S/T CD.
I say there are technically four tracks on this release, because the record comes along with a digital download containing a bonus track, "Into the Slave Nebula". Why this isn't on the record I don't know. Maybe there wasn't enough space to fit all four tracks on? Or maybe one little vinyl disc cannot hold the sheer awesomeness of four whole Limb tracks? I'll probably never know...
The outer sleeve has a sticker on the front, which gives the sleeve a bit of extra uniqueness. This time around there is no sleeve for the record, but instead has been cleverly combined into a large fold-out poster of the artwork. 
The inner sleeve also has some character in this release. Instead of the usual white (or occasionally black) we see all the time, there is a bright orange New Heavy Sounds themed sleeve. Again, adding a bit of personality to the regular parts of a record package is a really great wee touch.
The colour of the sleeve was quite possibly chosen to match the colour of the record, a vibrant orange. This is the only version that I know of, and is limited to 250 copies. The centre labels contain the band logo on one side, and a piece from the poster artwork on the back.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Shade of Mankind - Fonograms of Terror and Violence Tape

Shade of Mankind first caught my attention a while back with a couple of demos and the EP "Songs Thou Shall Worship", which features six really great cover tracks. They then released the track "Retribution" on the striVVe IV tape I recently posted about which also caught my attention. It was only natural then that I seek out some more of their releases. My search ended up back at striVVe recordings who have just released a series of SOM demos as Fonograms of Terror and Violence.

Again this is a super limited tape, but the packaging has really been stepped up this time. As you've probably guessed, the whole package has been shipped inside a yellow biohazard waste disposal bag. It's quite fitting really, the bag contains nothing but pure filth. The good kind of filth though. I'm lucky this didn't arouse any suspicion coming through customs.
The tape comes packaged with some skull artwork, and as per usual with this label, is limited to a mere 10 copies! In a way it is neat that I am one of only 10 people who will own a copy of this music, but it is a shame that more people won't get to hear it. I mentioned above the previous musical efforts by this band, but this tape blows all that out of the water. They've taken what they had from those releases and cranked the brutality level up 1000%. There are two highlights for me, the first of which is a brand new version of "Retribution", which sounds so much brutal and nastier than it did last time. The second is a terrifyingly twisted rendition of Integrity's now classic "Judgement Day", that is almost unrecognisable in some parts, but it's really great. Some of the recording is up online, and you can kind of piece most of it together from the band and label bandcamp pages, I'll embed down below for ease.

Also inside the biohazard bag is a set of three pins. They'll go straight into my bag of pins etc., but it's great to get something extra along with the music.
But of course that's not all folks. There is also an A3 print of some Shade of Mankind artwork that has the negative of the image on the back, as well as some other stuff from other bands on striVVe recordings.
Lastly, I also received a free bonus CD, along with a note thanking em for my purchase. The CD contains some more work from rVeVV, as part of striVVe recordings #2 tape. This is exactly the kind of music I'd come to expect from rVeVV at this point; slow and droning, but full of atmosphere. rVeVV has a unique way of completely altering my mood every time I listen, and I just love it.
Overall it's a great release, I truly appreciate the originality and effort gone into it.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Anne / Whirr Split - 2x 7"

After about 5 or 6 months it is finally here; my copy of the Whirr/Anne split! I think it was September that preorders for this officially went live, and it was expected to be shipped not far after that. But after several delays and manufacturing errors it has finally seen the light of day, and it was worth the wait.
This split is a double 7", with both Whirr and Anne playing two new songs. Anne provide "Pet Names" and "Occasional Lovers", which are both excellent tracks. I got a digital download of the tracks soon after I pre-ordered, so have had a chance to listen and appreciate them for a while. They are in similar vain to the previously released Power Exchange EP, which took the band in a slightly different direction to their first LP.
Whirr also play two great tracks, "Twist" and "Between Asleep and Awake". These two songs were really my first introduction to the band, and have since inspired me to pick up their Distressor LP which I posted about here. The entire split is streaming via Run for Cover's bandcamp page, check it out below.
The 2 7"s are housed inside a 7" gatefold sleeve, which features some tree artwork. The records themselves are really quite visually impressive, they are both black/white. I think it may have been intended for the sides to be monochromatic, but it seems the colours have merged a bit on either side. On one side is the predominantly white side, which is the same for both the Anne and Whirr records. The Whirr record then has a reverse side that is mostly black.
The Anne record has a wonderful extra feature on the reverse, the lyrics to the tracks etched in! This was actually the reason for the delay, apparently the pressing plant used an incorrect copy of the lyrics and produced a low-resolution copy on the record. Of course this wouldn't do, so they had to be pressed again. It looks really cool, and was definitely worth the long wait.
While purchasing this I also picked up a copy of Anne's mixtape vol. II. That should see a post of it's own soon.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Gehenna - Negotium Perambulans in Tenebris 12" Repress

A389 has recently released a re-pressed version of Gehenna's classic first LP; Negotium Perambulans in Tenebris. I have already posted about an original copy here, but I thought I'd take the time to run through the differences between the two versions, there are actually quite a few.
First and foremost, the artwork. The album was originally released as a CD in 2000. When this was released as on vinyl however, the artwork was pretty much dropped in favour of a plain black cover with a raised Gehenna logo on the top. Thankfully this repress has gone back to the original artwork, which is far superior in my opinion.
The next important difference pertains to the entire sleeve. Whereas the original pressing was in a pretty standard sleeve, the new version has a somewhat more deluxe gatefold sleeve. 
The rear cover has got the least modification across the entire package. The same skull picture remains, the track listings have moved from the left to the bottom and have acquired the now standard gehenna font.
However, if you pay close attention you may spot one big difference on this side though. The original press ends with a GG Allin cover; "Bite it You Scum". This time however, the record ends with DRI's "Yes Ma'am", from the flexi they released a while ago. 
The actual record has received some upgrades this time as well. The first pressing was really quite simple, plain black vinyl with plain labels. Thanks to A389 this now comes in three colour variants; red, black and white (which came with something else special...). The centre labels are now fully equipped with the new A389 logo on one side and the skull from the rear cover on the other.
There is also a rather large difference with what comes inside the sleeve. Originally there was an insert with the original artwork. On the back this had the lyrics and usual words yo expect to see on a gehenna record. The repress has managed to top this once again with a nice 18" x 18" poster of the artwork.

As an extra extra bonus, I also received a copy of the latest Midnight Mass (#2). While technically not specifically included with this record, it does contain an interview with Gehenna so I'm gonna go ahead and talk about it anyway.
It may not be anywhere near as professional looking as the initial issue, but it is still a great little zine with some cool interviews. Evan from Total War conducted an especially interesting interview with Gehenna that finally sheds some light on the mysterious Fog Spectre! I've been trying to find some information about this band for ages as well so it's great to finally have some (if only a little).
What also didn't happen 13 years ago with the original version, was the complete album being available to stream for free. Some things have changed a lot since then, and hopefully we'll see more record labels following the example lead by the almighty A389.