Saturday, November 30, 2013

Mixtape 6: Pinoy's'core

This is the sixth Dreams of Consciousness Mixtape, focusing on the hardcore/punk scene in the Philippines. While we were working on the last podcast about the Filipino scene, my buddy Ian [from Brimstone in Fire and Demiurge Digital Studios] sent me a few songs from local hardcore bands. That episode was pretty packed and those songs didn't fit in with the rest of the (mostly death metal) line-up, so we discussed doing a separate show specifically about Pinoy hardcore.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Bandcamp Picks: Impaled, Corrupt Moral Altar, Oshiego, The Dead Goats

One of the best death/grind albums of the last decade has been given a new lease on life. Impaled's legendary debut has been re-recorded and re-released as The Dead Still Dead Remain, with Leon Del Muerte even returning to do vocals. Scrubbed clean of the grime, it becomes clear that Impaled were more simpatico with Dismember and Amott-era Carcass than they ever were with Reek of Putrefaction. I'm sure there are long time fans who'll find the updated album too clean...but I for one enjoy not having to strain to hear the riffs. $8.99.

Corrupt Moral Altar come highly recommended by Napalm Death themselves - what more do you need to know? Their Whiskey Sierra 7" sounds like Scum got the Wolverine Blues, so no wonder the Napalm guys love it. The EP is available as a "name your price" download.

If the new album by Singapore's Oshiego is any indication, there's a whole lotta evil going on across the causeway. The Great Architect of Nothing is an entertaining slab of blackened death metal, with the occasional early Bathory-esque rock flourish. The album is fast and technical enough for snobs like me who are particular about those things, but the raw production should appeal to anyone whose tastes go in the opposite direction. A hint that great things may be happening in Singapore. $6.66.

Just like in the 90's, the oversaturation of the Sunlight Studios style is working against all the bands that latched on to it; with new releases from Entrails, Demonical and Facebreaker all sinking without a trace, it's questionable who if anyone still suffers from "Stockholm syndrome" these days. Last year I facetiously wrote that The Dead Goats could do well by integrating some Vader into their Entombed/Dismember worship. Doubt those guys actually saw my comment, but their new 6 song EP Children of the Fungus does have a little bit of that straight-ahead death/thrash abandon that we've come to know and expect from Polish death metal, plus a classic Napalm Death song added for good measure. But for the most part these Goats are the best Swedish band to come out of Białystok. €2.

Disassociate, Heavyweight Champions of NY Grindcore

It's odd: kids in the local scene always ask me if I've seen such-and-such band, but one name that's never come up is Disassociate. They may not be a "cool" band these days, but they were one of the staples of my college years in NY. Their music, while not particularly inventive or unique, was heartfelt. In the years when OGs like Napalm and Carcass left grindcore behind until the late 90's when Relapse successfully revived the genre, bands like Disassociate proudly flew the flag for people who just wanted raw, fast, no-frills grindcore.

I've lost track of the number of times I saw Disassociate perform - definitely no less than three times, and possibly twice a year between 1999 and 2002. The first time I saw them, the band came out in psychedelic Jason Voorhees masks to the tune of Star Wars' "Imperial March". The last time I saw them (opening for Discordance Axis at their last ever show), they smashed an old PC with a sledge hammer while doing a noise/power electronics set. I attended that show with my girlfriend at the time and her friend from art school; neither of them were impressed by Discordance Axis ("All their songs sound the same!") but they were really into Disassociate and their performance art.

flyer taken from
GRIEF - The Band; An Online Scrapbook
Disassociate shows were always entertaining, mostly due to frontman Ralphie Boy and his pro-wrestling schtick. Thickly muscled and rarely wearing a shirt when he performed, Ralphie had a faux champion's belt and called his band "The World Grind Federation Heavyweight Title Holders" (never mind that their guitarist was barely five and a half feet tall). Ralphie was also a local concert promoter and booked some of the most exciting bands around for his Loud Az Fuck Festivals at CBGBs. In the summer of 2000 I attended both days of the second Loud Az Fuck, with Damad (who became Kylesa), Grief, Hellchild, Meatjack, Millions of Dead Cops, All Out War, Today is the Day, Anal Cunt, Dropdead and a bunch more that I can't remember. Til now, those two days rank amongst the best shows I've ever attended. If I had to go back in time and relive a day of my life over and over, a la Groundhog Day, it would be one of those two.

The last time I saw Ralphie was in Alphabet City in 2002. I passed him as he was on his way from making and distributing flyers for an upcoming show. I didn't personally know him, but he gave me a friendly nod (and probably a flyer). It's up in the air if he recognized me from all the times I saw his band at CBs or if he was just being polite, but it cemented my opinion that he was a down-to-earth guy who lived for the scene.

I moved back to South East Asia at the end of 2002; I think Disassociate broke up a few years after that. I don't remember seeing Ralphie when I was living in NY between 2008-2011, so I'm guessing he's not active in the area anymore. I can't imagine him moving to the suburbs and raising a bunch of kids; hopefully wherever he is, he's still got the belt from when he was the heavyweight champion of NY grindcore.

Moshpit Tragedy have made all of Disassociate's albums available to download for free:

Controlled Power - including their performance in Singapore in 1995 (?!?)

Symbols Signals and Noise

Imperfect World 

UPDATE: Moshpit Tragedy is dead, and so are the links. Sorry kids. - Adrian Sol, 04.12.2015

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dead in the Dirt, Kuala Lumpur 11.16.2013

Bing Maps: Actual location may not be anywhere near marker.
Kids in KL were pretty excited about Dead in the Dirt coming to Malaysia - I was asked for months whether I was going to the gig (like I have anything better to do). But first I had to wander around in circles for over an hour. Just finding the venue (actually a rehearsal studio) was an adventure, thanks to their Facebook page using a vague address and a misleading Bing map. It didn't help that there's little in the way of road signs between the train station and the studio. After about 45 minutes of trying to figure out where the fuck I was, it became apparent I had wandered into Nowhere and successfully located the middle. Luckily I ran into some other dudes who were also looking for the venue, otherwise all that walking around in the rain and the dark would have been for nothing (except to cement my growing belief that nothing good ever happens here).

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Bandcamp Picks: Sea Bastard, Sea of Bones, Koloss, SubRosa

Rejoice - Sea Bastard is back! I've been Hulking out to their new album Scabrous since I first heard it at the end of October. Like its riff-tastic predecessor - their self-titled first album, one of my favourites of last year - Scabrous has some insanely catchy moments in its sludgy depths, like the brooding misanthropic spawn of Winter and Sleep. With four songs running just under an hour, expect your subwoofers to be tested. I'm going to put this back on and Hulk out some more. The album is available as a "name your price" download.

Back in 2009 I saw Sea of Bones play a free show in the Lower East Side, and liked them so much that I promptly downloaded their last album from Mediafire (it's cool, they put it there). The Earth Wants Us Dead (an apt sentiment here in South East Asia right now) is a primal slab of sludge verging on death/doom. Comparisons to Neurosis are well deserved, though Sea of Bones never quite reach the claustrophobic intensity of that band at its best. But they've clearly paid attention to how their heroes use dynamics to keep their music from being monotonous (a problem with most sludge bands). Even if there doesn't seem to be an end to the number of bands tackling this style, Sea of Bones do it better than most. $6.

When it comes to Swedish doomcore, KOLOSS have a lot to live up to - not only has 2013 seen members of the mighty Breach return as The Old Wind, but Cult of Luna have released possibly the best album of their career. Empower the Monster is no slouch, though: Heavy, dark and sombre, with long post-rock influenced passages, the band wear their CoL/Isis influence proudly on their sleeves but make up for it with some rock solid songs. The four song release is available for €5 (or $6.75 according to paypal).

There's been a lot of love heaped on Utah's SubRosa in the past months; first by Decibel and Terrorizer for their album More Constant Than The Gods, and then by fans when thousands of dollars worth of gear was stolen from their van and they had to raise money for replacements. Well, who am I to stand in the way of all that love? Especially when the juxtaposition of proggy doom with female vocals is reminiscent of DoC faves Grayceon and Giant Squid. Emotive in a way that manages to sound both powerful and fragile, it lives up to the band's self-description of "Ancient Magickal Doom". $10.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Disconnected (Again)

My Macbook had to be sent to the shop again last week - because of course it did. Nothing good ever happens here. It started acting up the week-end after Halloween and I was just waiting for the constant grey screens to become permanent before I sent it in to get looked at. Before that happened, though, I was hoping to make a dent on the backlog of posts that I have, as well as put up some new Bandcamp Picks. No such luck. On the plus side, at least I was able to finish my Horrorfest and Devil's Night mixtape before my computer died. Actually, come to think of it, that was probably what killed it.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Cruising for Blackgaze

When I was in Bangkok last month I met an interesting guy named Jef, who was working at the guesthouse my friend Ben and I were staying at. I immediately knew I was going to like Jef because he was wearing a Swans shirt when I checked in. Plus, he's from Birmingham, which means he talks like Barney Greenway (and even sort of looks like him too.)

Jef and I were having a discussion about music, and I was telling him about the recent wave of black metal that's influenced by shoegaze bands like My Bloody Valentine and Lull.
"What it called?"
"Actually they call it 'black gaze.' "
He looked at me like I was crazy. "They're called 'black gays'?"

I was immediately doubled over with laughter. An obvious joke, for sure; but one that hadn't occurred to me before, and makes a silly sub-genre sound even sillier. So in dedication to Jef, and with thanks to Al Pacino's questionable career choices, enjoy cruising for blackgaze.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Mushroom Death Suit

Stephen Colbert used the term "doom metal" on his show this week, bringing Candlemass one step closer to cable TV immortality. Bonus points to the Colbert Report art director for making multiple umlauts out of sprouting shrooms in the band logo.

[Surprisingly, there doesn't seem to be a band called Colostomy Bag yet; Napalm's Barney Greenway and Bolt Thrower's Andy Whale allegedly had a project called Colostomy but the internet has not been forthcoming in providing me with evidence of this.]

Mushrooms feeding on your rotten corpse below: