Sunday, April 29, 2012

Killer Corpse Release Party 4.22.2012

Back at Rumah Api, only 2 weeks after the Capitalist War Holocaust CD release party.  This time the gig was in celebration of Killer Corpse's Death Rising EP.  An American friend who recently visited me in Malaysia was overwhelmed by how cheap everything here is; he would have been impressed by the fact that the RM 20 admission fee included a free copy copy of Death Rising (and poster).  5 bands and a CD for just over the price of a fancy coffee back in NYC? Game on, homes.

Of course, there was still the issue of Malaysian start times.  The last show I saw here was advertised as starting at "3 pm sharp" and actually started closer to 6; I figured I could safely arrive at 7:00 and be right on time.  No such luck.  Killing time reading The Omnivore's Dilemma as the cigarette smoke visibly thickened around me, I started to wonder if this is what waiting rooms in hell are like.  I did get to share a couch with Kathgor's vocalist (sans corpsepaint) and Lobotomy's guitarist (thrashperm still in glorious effect).  I tried unsuccessfully to get an interview with Atomicdeath's mainman Faiz, though he did sit down and talk to me about their upcoming tour with local thrashers Hereafter and Australia's Desecrator, and about another 4-way split that's in the works.  And he gave me a pretty sweet Atomicdeath patch, though with no denim jacket, I'll have to settle for sewing it to my cargo pants (or maybe my jiujitsu gi).

The show opened with Daighila (and an impressive number of FX pedals) doing their best to simulate a car crash between Orchid and Converge.  Screamo and post-rock is an interesting combination of two well-trafficked styles - I'm sure someone has done it before, but nothing personally comes to mind.  Keeping my eye out for a CD.

Atomicdeath, of course, were the reason I came to the gig, and I was glad that I didn't have to wait long for them. This time they had their lead guitarist with them, meaning they didn't have to improvise his lead parts a cappella (which they did last time, and was both TRVE and LOL).  Atomicdeath don't fuck around; their thrashpunk is a patch-jacket go-cart pushed down a very steep hill, with no regard for either pedestrians or occupants.  If I have one mission during my time in the jungle, it's this: Atomicdeath and Mass Hypnosia must tour together.

Metal bands with female vocalists aren't really my thing, though I will fist-fight anybody that doesn't think the Gathering with Anneke wasn't pure distilled awesomeness.  Unfortunately, Kazanna are more in the Nightwish vein of symphonic/power metal. If they were a store, they'd be one well-stocked in feta and brie.  Most of the audience actually left before their set, and I can't blame them: Kazanna are particularly egregious in their embrace of frilly-shirt metal cliches.  A song titled "The Never Ending Story" had me cringing at the idea of a heavier version of the movie theme song; the reality was surprisingly much, much worse.  These kinds of bands often succeed or fail on the strength of their vocalists; Kazanna's singer, unfortunately, had problems maintaining both her range and her power, and her Malaysian Idol gesticulating didn't make up for that.  The worse part is, they'll probably be huge locally.

Sarjan Harsan present a unique mix of 90's hardcore and 80's crossover, one that doesn't seem to gel but makes the crowd lose its shit regardless.  Their simplicity was a nice palette-cleanser after Kazanna's histrionics. Back-to-back covers of Minor Threat were an unlikely impetus for their fans to roll around drunkenly onstage and their closing rendition of Slayer's Raining Blood was a joyous mess, but still good considering their bassist handed his instrument to a fan who couldn't play, and the band switched drummers midway through the song.  Slayer held together by spit and duct tape is still Slayer.

Tools of the Trade, crust/grind titans and the only other band I'd seen before, are getting ready for some European dates, including the hesher overload that is the Czech Obscene Extreme festival. Maybe this mounting pressure is the reason that they're not as tight as they were a few weeks ago - a kind of metal senioritis? Maybe it was equipment problems, as the bass kept cutting out.  Regardless, they were still brutal as fuck, and even the points where they seemed to be spiraling out of control made their grind sound that much more dangerous (Brutal Truth, anyone?).  I can't think of many local bands that I'd want to represent me overseas, but Tools are better than most.

The night's headliner, Killer Corpse, play the kind of groovy, mid-paced death metal that inspires less headbanging than thoughtful nodding.  I personally like my metal more full-throttle and bloodthirsty, but if one can find fault with Killer Corpse's style then there's very little to be found in their execution.  I have to admire their chutzpah for titling one of their own songs "Raining Blood," though I suppose there have been stranger plagiarisms in metal.  And with a free copy of their CD in my backpack, I have an excuse to let them grow on me... much like the Malaysian metal scene itself is growing on me.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


My friend Vanessa makes me laugh.

Why, you ask?

Is this enough reason?

I've got time to kill. Maybe I can use all my cleverness and do one of these with the greatest black metal band pic of all time.

Brain Removal Police

As a teenager, I used to consider Cannibal Corpse a band for people without the dedication or intellectual curiosity to delve deeper into the underground; the few CC "fans" I knew rarely listened to any extreme metal bands besides Corpse. [To show how much of a metal snob I was back then, I regarded "Slayer fans" with the same disdain.] Corpse weren't faster or more technical than anyone else, and despite the number of copycats they inspired, they weren't particularly innovative either. When it came to American death metal, Morbid Angel, Death, Suffocation, Obituary and Deicide were the bands that I deemed important; Cannibal Corpse were just a band that was popular.

Of course, American death metal wasn't really my thing back then anyways.  It was all about Sweden, Norway, Sweden, Brazil, Sweden, Poland, Sweden, Sweden, and Sweden.  With all the excitement going on in Scandinavia, South America, and Eastern Europe, Cannibal Corpse and the other US bands just seemed kind of...dumb.

And then something happened.  Around the time they were about to release Kill, I was cruising past my mid-20s.  Seeing Corpsegrinder on the cover of Decibel, ready to release another Tipper-sticker defying album...I realized that I had more in common with the old fat guys in Cannibal Corpse than ever. Alex Webster and company were lifers, like me. Almost every other metal band has broken up, reformed, slowed down or grown up... but not these guys. Cannibal Corpse kept releasing Cannibal Corpse albums for Cannibal Corpse fans. There's something laudable about that, something dependable, something comforting in a way that most metal fans will never understand, because they won't be metal fans in 5 years. In 2006 I cracked and purchased the entire Corpse discography, and since then, every album they've released has been top ten worthy for me.

Which brings me to their newest album, Torture, which has been getting great reviews. I can't say it's any better than Kill or Evisceration Plague; it's definitely more immediate, and has a thrashy intensity that recalls Darkness Descends in its precocious fury. Is it the metal album of the year? The one that will make converts out of cynics? Is it the best thing CC has ever done? I don't know. But it is a Cannibal Corpse album, and I love it just for that.

Bandcamp Picks

Maybe it's not news, but it's new to me: Relapse Records has joined smaller labels like Profound Lore and Nuclear War Now in uploading the bulk of its releases to Bandcamp.  Candlelight Records has uploaded albums from their US imprint but not their main European signings.  Notable hold-outs to the free music party are Earache, Century Media, Nuclear Blast, and Roadrunner; apparently the big fish still think that posting their music online is hurting CD sales.  I personally love Bandcamp; my hope is that it quickly replaces Myspace as the way bands choose to promote their music.  The UI is certainly more user friendly, it's easier to share and embed songs on social networking sites, and I feel safer purchasing albums through Bandcamp, since I can use Pay Pal rather than whatever the hell it is Myspace is flogging.

Anyways, some great releases you can listen to in their entirety and purchase much cheaper on Bandcamp than anywhere else:

Orange Goblin
The "meat and veg" of doom metal (their words, not mine) have released their heaviest album yet, A Eulogy for the Damned.  I was already a fan after hearing their first album, but seeing them play the outdoor stage at Maryland Deathfest while the sun set behind them redefined the perfect Sunday afternoon for me.

A band that I know virtually nothing about, except that they like to drone in a Justin Broadrick kind of way and have a nifty op art logo. I lucked into their cover of the much missed Angelic Process, and loved it.  The album also features covers of Katatonia, Burzum and Xasthur.

The Angelic Process
And speaking of The Angelic Process, Profound Lore uploaded their brilliant and incredibly moving swansong Weighing Souls With Sand.  I consider this album essential listening, though for some you can buy individual tracks and not the full thing.  What gives?

How can anyone not view Relapse uploading most of their past releases unto Bandcamp as some kind of coup for digital music? Especially as it includes the best death metal album of the last 10 years, Origin's Antithesis.  Classic albums from Relapse's other "alumni" like Neurosis, Unsane, and Mastodon can be found here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Dave Lombardo's Rarely Unable

Found this on Terrorizer's site. Dave Lombardo has a side project, and the first track released by them will make you wonder "Are we talking about the same Dave Lombardo?" Not the heshfest one would expect from the man known for the most celebrated floor tom beat in metal, but still way more interesting than anything he did in Grip Inc.

My first instinct is to lazily compare it to Mastodon and Kylesa, though the man himself describes it as "taking all the heavy songs of the '60s and bringing that era to a modern plateau, then blending them with the modern trance and psychedelic sounds of today." Well all righty then, but I'd still love to hear what Kerry King, ever the diplomat, has to say about it.

Beauty Meets Beast

Today in "once you see it you'll never unsee it"...the last issue of Terrorizer I purchased had David "Do the Hustle" Vincent on the cover, and I kept thinking that his new look reminded me of something. The extended jaw...the dyed hair...the eyeliner...the spray-tan...the leather fetish. A few of my friends like to compare it to Nikki Sixx, but I was seeing something else. And then it hit me:

Good to know that when the Lord of All Fevers and Plagues gets tired of his death metal comeback, there's always a place for him as a WWE diva. Let's just pray that there's no sex tape.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


The real action, as ever, is underground.

Rumah Api is a punk squat/performance space; a Malaysian ABC No Rio, if you like. I previously discovered it when it was rumoured to be the substitute venue for Impiety's super-secret KL appearance. Covered in slogans like 'For a World Without Borders' and 'Give Peace A Chance,' it seemed an unlikely host for a mini-fest dedicated to metal's most war-obsessed genre.

The event was a release party for a split-CD featuring three bands from Malaysia (Angkara, Geen Naam, Diskangkung) and one from Singapore (Exkoriator), with the metal mad lib title of Night of the Diabolical Holocaust (the CD was slightly less outrageously named Capitalist War Holocaust). Despite being publicized as starting at "3pm sharp," not a single band had gone on by the time I reached the venue at 5, with two bands still left to do their soundcheck. Which was neither unusual nor unexpected, but I was still a little annoyed. Damn it, things should start on time! Right, Ken Jeong?

Luckily, once the event started the night flew by at a respectable clip, with all the bands adhering to strict half hour sets and no equipment changes to slow things down. By the time I took a walk around the block, the first band had gone on and I arrived in time to see Geen Naam, one of the bands featured on the CD. Like From Ashes Rise with extra double-bass goodness, Geen Naam split the difference between crust punk bluster and metal intensity. A good start to my night of Malaysian metal, as well as an inclination that the KL scene has more going on than I had previously given it credit for.

The bar for the night (and Malaysian metal in general) was set by Atomicdeath. A 3-piece who inject a great deal of Discharge inro their classic thrash sound, they reminded me instantly of Sodom in both their stripped down intensity as well as some lovable sloppiness. The best metal band I've seen in KL, though I reserved that opinion til after I saw Lobotomy.

A female-fronted grindcore band is still a sight to behold in Malaysia, and the crowd was eager to see Exkoriator, Singapore's contribution to the CWH split. Their tiny singer's not quite Mel Mongeon, but in fairness, neither is her band Fuck the Facts - Exkoriator sound more like Phobia as played by a jet engine. The PA did them very little favours, but their overall stage presence won them whatever fans the washed out sound didn't.

The last of the bands featured on the split CD to play that night, Angkara are the kind of crust punk act I expect plays Rumah Api regularly. I was enjoying their Swedish d-beat styled attack, until a mid-set airing of a song called "Fuck Zion," which brought me forcibly home to the fact that I was in Malaysia, where even the supposed peace punks hate Israel. An execrable blemish on an otherwise recommendable band.

If Rotgut were American, they'd probably already be signed to Relapse. A 3-piece grindcore band that apparently has no use for a bassist, they draw easy comparisons to Pig Destroyer. Their songs were a testament to how powerful a single guitarist can be. The PA was remarkably clear for them, and the extra space on stage allowed their singer room to do his best Seth Putnam impression (minus the crack smoking or PC baiting).

There are bands, and then there are bands' bands, and Bloodstone are clearly the latter, as the front row was crowded with folks that would perform on the same stage that night. The Singaporean lovechild of Show No Mercy and Bonded By Blood, Bloodstone are a throwback to the days when metal was a lot less po-faced than it has been since 1991. How else would you explain the lead guitarist's Miami Vice shades? [I myself am at a loss...] Not that they aren't KVLT in their own way, as they close with a cover of Hellhammer's 'Messiah' (tighter than Tom Warrior ever managed). Like most of the current thrash revival sect, they're incredibly young - most of the members were probably in their infancy when Metallica's "black" album effectively smothered the first wave of thrash in its sleep. But the enthusiasm they carry for the genre wins out over my cynicism for metal nostalgia, and my head did bang along with everyone around me.

Lobotomy look like they fell off the cover of the Sentence of Death LP, right down to the guitarist's thrash-perm. What's the point of being stuck in 80's metal if you don't get the hair right? [Also, they had real bulletbelts and didn't have to improvise their own like poor Max Cavalera]. If a band's quality can be determined by the audience's reaction, then Lobotomy were clearly the night's winners, with most of the crowd immediately invading the meager stage and kids being picked up and carried around the room before being dumped on the concrete floor. Speed metal warfare indeed. Lobotomy's frontman embraced the ensuing chaos, grinning through the occasional disconnected cable and unintentional stompbox outages caused by his over-exhuberant fans. If the thrash revival hadn't already run its course overseas, they'd be major contenders to break out of Malaysia.

Most of the audience bails after Lobotomy - despite the fact that Lobotomy's singer/bassist is also a member of the following band Kathgor, who feature a corpsepainted female vocalist. Kathgor play the kind of blackened thrash that floods the Nuclear War Now message boards, but I found them more exhausting than enthralling. Calling them "Impiety without the hooks" isn't much of a recommendation, though I did enjoy shredding my throat to their cover of Grotesque's "Ripped From The Cross."

Introduced as "the only Malaysian band to play with both Discharge and Poison Idea," Tools of the Trade aren't as Carcass-influenced as their moniker suggests, skewing closer to the American grind sensibilities of Brutal Truth and Pig Destroyer. They recognize the merit of a good doom jag, which kept their political grind from getting too one-dimensional, and the audience on its toes. Especially in my case - my plantar fasciitis was acting up big time, and I literally had to rock back and forth on the balls of my feet in order to keep standing.

By the end of Tools of the Trade's set, the searing pain in my heels became unbearable, and I decided it to skip the last band Aghory and hobble to the nearby LRT station before I missed the last train home. On my way out I did pick up the Atomicdeath/Bloodstone and Capitalist War Holocaust splits, both of which I'll review shortly. Though what I'm really looking for is an Atomicdeath t-shirt - hopefully I'll be able to score one when I see them again on April 21st.

Chuffed and Weekend

Deep thoughts while waiting for my tea to cool...

Bands named after days of the week: Happy Mondays, The Mondays, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, The Saturdays, The Sundays and Taking Back Sunday.

Bands named after months: April Ethereal, Mayhem*, Death in June**, Texas in July, August Burns Red, Black September, October Tide, November's Doom, December.

Ergo, months are more metal than days. Especially if you add "death," "doom" or "black" to them [though, I guess that's the case with most things].

*Okay, you caught me. I couldn't think of any bands named after May. Sorry. Though I do wonder why there aren't any metal bands named after the coldest months. January's Doom? Black February? March Madness?

**Not metal, but way darker than a couple of folkies ought to be, and a huge influence on bands like Agalloch, Neurosis, Swans, etc.