Thursday, February 28, 2013

Bandcamp Picks: Revulsion Records

Bandcamp is the future of DIY, in my opinion, and I will preach that gospel to anyone who stands in front of me long enough to listen. It's an especially useful platform in South East Asia, where the postal service can be pricey and unreliable, and bands can only afford limited runs of their cassettes/CDs. So when a local label like Revulsion Records makes its releases available for purchase through Bandcamp, it's the best way to ensure that local bands will make their way to new ears overseas.

Revulsion's most recent release is a split 7" featuring Malaysian grind kings Tools of the Trade and Compulsion to Kill. Tools donate four of their most ambitious and hook-driven songs to date (including "Putus/Disconnected," which was featured on the first DoC podcast); Compulsion to Kill's side is four songs of their more straight-forward brand of fast, crusty grind. Though the release isn't currently available as a stand alone download (booooooo), a digital version comes when you order the 7", which costs $8 plus shipping.

Defy, the last full-length by Tools of the Trade, has also been newly uploaded to Bandcamp by Revulsion. As one of the most impressive releases from the South East Asian scene in 2012, it's an essential slice of Malaysian grindcore. The 18 track album is available as a digital download for $5.

Also noteworthy is Compulsion to Kill's Lack of Tolerance cassette. Apparently recorded live, the production is raw to the point of non-existence; but since the entire 10 song EP is available for download at the cost of 50 cents (!!!), I doubt many grind fans would quibble.

Two bands that have been fixtures of local shows since I've been back in KL are Sarjan Hassan and Daighila, and their Re-Defining DIY split cassette is a good representation of the Rumah Api scene. The release is more than 2 years old - Daighila in particular have come a long way since then - but it's almost impossible to find, even here in Malaysia. Plus, the digital download is twenty songs for a dollar, and you can't do better than that, homes.

Dreams of Consciousness isn't paid to say nice things about you; so just be glad when it does.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Evil minds that plot destruction

Hi new neighbours. Remember that time you were hammering things into your walls at 1:00 AM? Well tonight I'm blasting the first four Black Sabbath albums one after another. Consider it a housewarming present.

See, I was going to turn down my speakers when you started knocking on the walls to get me to quiet down. And then I remembered, "Hey, aren't these the same inconsiderate assholes who kept everyone up all night when they first moved in?" And I realized that I kind of liked making you try and shut me up, and I want to irk you into doing it as much as I can. Because eventually your hands will get tired; but I will never get tired of "Children of the Grave" at full blast, ever. Have a great night!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Bandcamp [Mini] Picks: Pretty Mouth, Homolka, Human Cull, Total Combined Weight

...a special mini-edition of Bandcamp Picks, where I talk about some shorter releases that stood out to me, but didn't fit in with the regular column for one reason or another.

First up, Apotheosis, the new single from my Canadian BFFs Pretty Mouth, features two new songs ("Apotheosis" and "The Joke") as well as live versions of those same songs. Since this is Pretty Mouth, you can expect some angry, discordant hardcore that's busting at the seams with noise and vitriol, and not be disappointed. The live versions feel a little tacked on, but are a nice indication of what you're in for should you find yourself in front of these guys. Another great release from what's quickly becoming my favourite hardcore band. The four track EP is available as a "name your price" download.

Similarly, Toronto's Homolka (containing members of DoC faves eyeswithoutaface) channel their rage into noise and vice versa. Their latest release is a split cassette, and a good introduction to their political, in-joke heavy, power violence/grind. Between Pretty Mouth, eyeswithoutaface, Homolka and the Blind Surgeons Operation, it would appear the Kids in the Hall have misled me about Canadians.

On the other side of the cassette, the UK's Human Cull contribute one long song titled "Cities Become Graves." Despite their stated interest in "Blastbeats & Blastbeats & Blastbeats & Blastbeats," the majority of the 13 minute track is spent punishing the listener with the same three chords in an extended doom section. And let's face it, in the world of grind, there isn't a better pairing with the extremely fast than the extremely slow. The split isn't available as a stand-alone download purchase, but a digital download is included when you purchase the cassette, which is available through Goatprayer records for ₤3 plus shipping (or $4.58 plus shipping, according to Paypal). It's extremely limited (25 copies according to Bandcamp), so if you're interested you better dive on it now.

I've mentioned The Co-Main Event podcast before on this blog, mostly to make up for how much I rip off CME's Ben Fowlkes. But as much as I enjoy the podcast, it never really made any sense to keep plugging it on this blog, since it's about mixed martial arts and only of tangential interest to heavy music fans. So imagine my surprise and delight when I discovered that Fowlkes' co-host, MMA writer Chad Dundas, is in a hardcore band called Total Combined Weight. There's only one track on their Bandcamp page, and it's not for download or purchase; but it is pretty fucking sweet. Gargantuan, even. You can tell these guys grew up loving Ian Mackaye; this easily could have been on a Dischord compilation back in the day (maybe it's not surprising that Total Combined Weight do lots of Minor Threat covers). No idea what form this release is going to take or how to purchase it; their Bandcamp page is pretty barebones, and their Facebook page isn't much better. But if Total Combined Weight put out a full release, rest assured DoC will be all over it.

Dreams of Consciousness (or DoC, if you nasty) is on Facebook. Like it & like it & like it & like it...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bandcamp Picks: Grayceon, Second Grave, Eight Bells, Undersmile

Whatever description you apply to Grayceon has to include the word "ambitious"  - especially in the way they keep finding new ways of melding metal in its various forms with the talents of classically trained cellist/vocalist Jackie Prez-Gratz. The results in the past have sometimes been hit or miss, but Pearl and the End of Days, their latest release, is stellar. The EP gets surprisingly thrashy at times, showing Grayceon as a metal band that's progressive in the best sense of the word. The two song, nearly half-hour release (a double instead of a single, if you like) is available as a $5 digital download.

Second Grave features Krista Van Guilder from Massachusetts doom heroes Warhorse ...which is weird, because I saw Warhorse twice back in the day, and don't remember her at all. Well, none of that matters, because as good as Warhorse were, Second Grave are much better.  Their self-titled debut recalls the best of the Obsessed, topped with some awesome duelling leads a la Iommi and Krista's soulful (and slightly Cornell-ish) vocals. I've listened to this almost every day since I downloaded it last week, and it isn't getting old anytime soon. The six song EP is available as a $5 digital download.

With members of SubArachnoid Space, it's a no-brainer that Eight Bells (named after the last SAS album) would be experimental and left-field. The Captain's Daughter, their debut album, melds darkness with psychedelia in a way that's highly reminiscent of avant-metal vanguards In The Woods - though more black light poster than black metal. The four song album is available as a $7 digital download.

Undersmile might be the bastard children of Harvey Milk and the Swans; on their 2012 debut Narwhal, depressive, minimalist doom/drone regularly lumbers past the 10 minute mark, layered with the moaning, Gira-like vocals of Hel Sterne and Taz Corona-Brown. Recommended for anyone who likes their music heavy and slightly off-kilter. The album, running well over an hour, is available as a digital download for ₤5.00 (or roughly $7.65, according to Paypal).

At Dreams of Consciousness, ladies in metal bands drink for free. See for yourself.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Kami Ada @ Rumah Api 2.17.2013

Despite proclamations that "Punk Time is Dead," local shows are still struggling to start on time. A small but vocal contingent are pushing for bands and promoters alike to get their act together. I guess I should be optimistic now that more and more people besides me are grumbling about it, but it will remain a problem as long as the bands themselves can't be bothered to show up til hours after the scheduled starting time. Honestly, the only way this gets fixed is if promoters enforced strict set times: Miss your spot, and you don't play. The argument that bands don't show up on time because the audience is also always late is cyclical and pointless; most people come late knowing in advance that the bands won't be playing on time. It's time to break the cycle.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Bitter and Then Some: A Valentine's Day Playlist

Being single, and all the better for it, I figured I'd do something for the bros and ladies who want nothing more than to strangle the sickeningly cozy couples suckered in to this Hallmark-manufactured not-a-day. From my blackened heart to yours, enjoy.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Bandcamp Picks: Small Stone Records

With over a hundred recordings on their Bandcamp page, and cult faves like the Men of Porn and Red Giant, Small Stone Records ("True, honest music, made by real, honest people.") is a must visit for any fan of heavy rock bent doom, stoner, or retro. Most of their discography is up on their Bandcamp page as $10 digital downloads.

Deville's heavy grooves and stoner vibe probably aren't what first comes to mind in terms of Swedish doom (though I'm sure members of Candlemass and Katatonia spark one from time to time). Their third album Hydra ups the tempo on their previous (and very good) album Hail the Black Sky. Stuffed with singalong choruses and memorable hooks, I wouldn't be surprised if these guys become the next Queens of the Stone Age.

With a theme inspired by their Swedish environment, Mother of God are proof that not all forest walks lead to black metal and the best stoner rock doesn't have to come from the desert. Kyuss casts a pretty large shadow over their debut, Anthropos; MoG's singer sounds like a deadringer for John Garcia, and the guitar tone is identical to Sky Valley. [To be fair, the entire stoner rock genre largely exists in Kyuss' shadow.] Shameless hero worship aside, this is commendable stuff. And since there's probably never going to be a follow-up to ...And the Circus Leaves Town, Kyuss fans should probably jump all over this.

Boston's Gozu sure know how to bridge the stoner rock/metal divide; when they rock out, they rock out like the Queens of the Stone Age; and when they rage, they rage like High on Fire. Add to that a singer who sounds like Wino's kid brother, and Fury of a Patient Man is going to make a lot of stoner doom fans happy. The album closes with the 20 minute psychadelic jam "The Fury of a Patient Man," in case you need another reason to fire up your vaporizer.

I was lucky enough to see Scissorfight in 1998, and I remember them being a fairly terrifying proposition, all whiskey breath and dangerous grooves. So it's a little surprising that Supermachine, a band formed by ex-Scissorfight members, have smoothed over all those rough edges to come up with something that could have come out of Seattle in the 90's. Flannel rock flashbacks aside, their self-titled debut is still some great, swinging heavy rock. But Scissorfight fans will definitely be left wondering where the old sense of danger disappeared to.

It's more than a decade old, but Small Stone's Tribute to Aerosmith is still a fun listen. The likes of Raging Slab, Alabama Thunderpussy, and Electric Frankenstein do a good job of reminding us all that there was a time when Joe Perry and Steven Tyler weren't just cashing in on reality TV and Michael Bay movies. The album is available as a $15 digital download; kind of hefty for a covers album, which are for the most part inconsequential. But it's still worth a listen.

Dreams of Consciousness likes its reality show judges like it likes its coffee. Check it out, dawg.

Demisor @ Beatnik 2.02.2013

Malaysia's busy grindcore scene has both its merits and drawbacks. The last all-night grindfest I went to left me exhausted halfway through - and not in a good way. There's only so many 30 second songs I can take in a four hour period. Luckily, the organizers of this gig at Beatnik were able to keep things varied and interesting.

The top floor of a tower block is the last place one would expect to find a gig, much less a regular performance space. But at the top of a seemingly abandoned office building past a corridor of empty rooms is where Beatnik finds itself. This was my first time to the space; more often than not I've skipped seeing shows there because I had no idea how to find it (or get home). The sound was surprisingly good despite its sparse set up; this may have been the first time I saw a show in KL where there wasn't some kind of equipment failure (give or take one unruly bass strap - more on that later). In a city with few regular venues for heavy music, the fact that this space exists is appreciated.

Compulsion to Kill were one of the highlights of that last grindfest, even if they were playing without their full (dual vocal) line-up. This time, with all four members present, they were firing on all cylinders. Their set started off with Napalm's "Unchallenged Hate" - never a bad thing. In addition to beefing up their line-up, their lead vocalist also functioned as a human bowling ball, leaping from the tiny stage into whoever was standing in front of him. I learned pretty quickly to get out of his way.

This was Tools of the Trade's first gig in KL since September, and their first with their new drummer after a one-off show in Kuantan at the beginning of the year (which I tagged along with them to see - post forthcoming). All that and a new seven inch split with CTK made this a pretty exciting set for them - even more exciting when bassist Emi's strap came undone, and it looked like he might have to do the whole gig sitting down, singer-songwriter style. But thanks to some quick work with a roll of tape (it's my belief everyone should keep a roll of duct tape handy - just in case), the band proceeded through their set unhampered. With songs culled from their the new split as well as the previous one with Busuk (including "Suffocate," the best Tools song ever)  it was a stellar exercise in their brand of barely controlled chaos. A good welcome back party, and one no one had to sit down for. 
Appäratus fit in better with this line-up than they did at the Vaz show when I first saw them. It sometimes feels like there are more bands playing Swedish hardcore in Malaysia than in Sweden; though solidly in the d-beat style, Appäratus distinguish themselves with jangly garage rock overtones - think Joe Strummer jamming with Anti-cimex. They weren't the fastest or the tightest band that night, but they might have been the rockingest.

Kah Roe Shi, led by Tools' Tiong, play in the heavy jagged style of crust titans His Hero is Gone. I've been hearing about them for the last few months, and they definitely lived up to their reputation. In keeping with the theme of their band name (a Japanese phrase meaning "death from overwork"), they decorated the stage with several props, including a button down shirt and tie hanging from the ceiling. [Your guess is as good as mine how the disco ball fits into their theme.]

The release party for WHHIRR's first cassette EP had taken place the night before; apparently I wasn't the only one who missed it, so their last minute addition to the line-up made more than a few people happy. I've seen the band a few times, and am still impressed by how much they're able to get out of just a bass guitar. Kudos to them for attempting something that no one else in the region is doing; even if the mix of their heavy, minimalist power violence and flashing strobe light may end up causing a few seizures

If you asked any metal fan to name a Singaporean grindcore band, the answer would probably be Wormrot; but Demisor are local scene OGs, having formed in 1987 and been active since then (or as active as work and family commitments allow). This was their first show in Malaysia in over a year, and the audience's excitement was palpable. Frankly, kids were going crazy, something Demisor's vocalist commented on several times. Maybe it's because of their veteran status, or maybe it's just a function of being ahead of the curve for so long, but Demisor trump almost all the other grind bands in the region by having actual songs rather than just atonal chord progressions over blastbeats [Riffs, FTW] as well as a drummer who the more tired he looked, the faster he played. Adding a Nasum cover to their set was nice, but unnecessary; Demisor's music and stature alone were enough for them to stand on (well, that and the gnarliest feet in grind).

Dreams of Consciousness has never been proven to cause seizures. See for yourself.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Brazilian Death Metal Top Ten

Got it into my head to do a top ten for one of my favourite region-based subgenres, the hyperblasting, Christ hating beast known as Brazilian death metal. If you're the drinking sort, take a shot every time I use some variation on the word "blast." Or, just chug a whole bottle of tequila now, it comes down to the same thing.