Friday, April 25, 2008

Thrash Metal Demo Attack

Perhaps one of the first signs of old age manifests when you realize that genres of music that you grew up with are all of a sudden being reclaimed and recycled. I look at the recent rise of bands like Skeleton Witch, Merciless Death, Toxic Holocaust, and Bonded by Blood and suddenly feel my body ache from the punishment it absorbed as I moshed and waltzed my way through the 80s. And then I find myself asking this:

Really? Thrash is back?

I find it somewhat disconcerting that the groundbreaking labels of the 80s (Earache, Metal Blade, Century Media, etc.) are spending their time rehashing past glories by signing new thrash bands. So much for pushing the envelope into new territory, eh? Makes me appreciate the black metal scene in a whole new way. Don't get me wrong; I have deep affection for thrash metal's galloping riffage and spastic intensity, but there's a reason that thrash crashed and faded in the early 90's. Frankly, it was getting tired and stale. You've got to admit that the style is rather limited. It's no wonder that death metal took over so easily.

When these bands started popping up a few years back, it seemed to be in the name of paying homage to past masters. But now what are we to make of all of this? There seems to be flipped-brim flannel shirt-wearing crew of moshers around every corner. I will concede that the newbies are good, but I question whether or not they're really adding something that wasn't there before or is needed now. After all, thanks to social networking and file sharing, there is still an abundance of classic-era thrash available for our listening enjoyment and consumption, from the signed and unsigned alike.

Well, at least all of this has gotten Ed Repka back into the cover art scene.

Anyways, I'm posting a couple of demos from the great yesteryear- one by Sacrilege BC and the other from Tyrranicide. Both of these bands are often left out of conversations about Bay Area thrash and undeservedly so. Perhaps it was because of their more overt political leanings and punk roots. They certainly did not lack the chops. I think bands like this serve as evidence that we don't need a resurgence in thrash. We still have a rich history from which we can still learn.

If you end up digging these, then I encourage you to seek out more bands from this era before delving into today's pool of offerings. I think you'll find yourself pleasantly surprised. And if you are already well-schooled in the history of thrash's golden era, feel free to leave recommendations in the comments section. If I find there is a solid demand for stuff like this, I'll dig deeper into the collection and post some more.

Click here!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Zozobra @ San Francisco

With this posting I guess things may seem to appear a bit suspicious, for if one did not think any better, you would think the site is sponsored by former members of Cave In. If you haven't been counting, this will be the fourth Cave In related post and third related live download I have done this year. I've got all the members covered except drummer JR Connors. And don't worry- he's currently in Doomriders, and I'm trying to hook up some live material from them also.

Will anyone believe me if I claim it's all coincidence?

Zozobra is a project headed by Caleb Scofield, bass player in Cave In, and Santos Montano, who has previously collaborated with Caleb in Old Man Gloom. Incidentally, "old man gloom" and "zozobra" are synonymous terms, the latter simply being the Spanish term for the English translation. Zozobra is the name of a marionette that is traditionally burned in effigy each year at the Fiestas de Santa Fe in New Mexico.

The band does have one album, Harmonic Tremors, released on Hydra Head Records. It isn't a huge straying from the post-metal tendencies of Old Man Gloom and Isis but does present a more focused straight-ahead approach, a welcome move considering that many of today's post-metallers are trying too hard to be cerebral in their songwriting and falling quite short.

The live set posted here comes from a stop at Bimbos in San Francisco while on the Isis/Jesu tour. The sound quality is great. I would even argue that they, somehow, had the best sound of the night. Adam McGrath (Clouds) played guitar on this tour, but I'm not sure who else rounded out the lineup. I'll work on finding that out. And like last week, I do not have the set list. I'm working on that too. At least I know the show is from April 6, 2007.

I'm busy with grad school. Cut me some slack.

Edit Alert!!! I was informed via the comments that Caleb has a new project called Heatseeker and an mp3 posted here. The song crushes. Aaron Harris from Isis plays drums and recorded the band's debut, due in July on Hydra Head. Thanks, Seth.

Click here!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Leviathan Review

Leviathan's Massive Conspiracy Against All Life is simply amazing. I hope "Wrest" is doing well and has good people still looking after him. From what I hear, he's had a pretty tough stretch this last year or so. Hopefully he can pull his shit together and continue to keep working on his art, musical and otherwise.

My review of the new album printed this week in the North Coast Journal. I'll be curious to see the kind of impact this release has on the metal underground, as I expect many new listeners will be drawn to Leviathan. That isn't to say that Massive Conspiracy is "accessible" in a way that compromises sound for followers. I just think that this record's accomplishment, combined with a bit of already present black metal bandwagoning, will make this a pretty popular release, much to the chagrin of those knuckleheaded "kult" fans attempting to keep black metal an elitist club for young white suburban males with too much time on their hands.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Clouds @ San Diego

If you ever got to see Cave In live, then you probably enjoyed watching the quirky antics of a baby-faced Adam McGrath as he spun and lashed himself about the stage. While he never quite enjoyed the same kind of attention that was directed at front man Steve Brodsky, McGrath was indeed a vital part of Cave In's creativity and success.

Clouds, McGrath's first post-Cave In project, is a swaggering and rollicking unit that plays upon a myriad of 70s rock influences that allows Adam to pursue musical directions unavailable to him in Cave In. The band just got back from playing last month's SXSW festival and is preparing to record their follow-up to last year's Legendary Demos on Hydra Head Records. In the meantime, however, you can check out this live set recorded at the Casbah in San Diego in August of 2007. I don't have the set list right now, but I will get that posted up here ASAP.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Thank Goodness!

I'm sure most of you know already that At the Gates is doing a reunion tour this summer across the States. Considering that the band's greatest acclaim came about shortly after they broke up, I think this is a great idea, for it affords those who did not see them on their 1995 tour with Napalm Death the opportunity to experience the aural carnage, even if it will cost you upwards to thirty-seven dollars at venues like San Francisco's Fillmore.

As with any reunion of this sort comes the risk that a band will take the dreaded next step....the releasing of new music. Now, I haven't been losing sleep over the thought, but I have been worried that At the Gates may do something foolish. A recent interview with Pitchfork, however, put my worries at ease:

Pitchfork: I've read that At the Gates won't record any new music. Is that still the case?
Tomas Lindberg: No, there is not going to be a new album by At the Gates. There are two basic reasons for that: 1) We are all busy with our other projects-- the Haunted, Disfear, and 2) No matter how great that album would be, it would still be compared in the light of Slaughter of the Soul and the psychological history people have to that album.

That is the best metal news I have heard thus far in 2008. Why? Just go back and read Lindberg's response again. It's right there under reason #2. Slaughter of the Soul is untouchable. You can read more here in an interview with Tomas Lindberg's "other" band, Disfear.

Perhaps someone would like to start some commentary about whether or not the openers are appropriate? Are they good choices paying homage to the ground-breaking legends? Poor choices, as they are potentially only trend followers that do not allow the genre to grow and progress?