Wednesday, December 31, 2014

V/A - "The Tie That Binds" compilation cd

This is a pretty great comp that came out in 1996, and it clearly has loads of good bands on it. Along with the Anti-Matter compilation, this is one of the better V/A releases from that year. The Tie That Binds has earlier versions of songs that appeared on later releases from some of these bands (Frodus, Lifetime, Standpoint, Brothers Keeper, Rancor), a Ruin cover from Delaware's Walleye, as well as a live track from Mouthpiece ("The picture seeeeeeeeettttttttttts!"). It also features the best Backlash song, "Sustain". That jam seriously fucking rocks, and I like this recording much better than the version that appeared on their Second Coming 7". Moreover, If you like The Dillinger Escape Plan, this compilation has an Arcane song on it, which was a pre-DEP band. I'm about 99.1% sure the band pictured on the back is Autumn, and the cover art was done by Mike Ski, which should be pretty obvious to you if you were into hardcore circa 1998. Nevermore Records number 3.

-tomorrow sees you no more-

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Eyelid - "...days infected"

Heaviness from California that took a page out of Unbroken's book and merged it with something that was more mid-90s "emo metal" and less "new school hardcore", if that makes sense. It does to me, so that's what you're getting. The vocals combined both gruff screaming with spoken parts, creating a cool dynamic that added to the metallic music (haha, holy shit that was masterful writing). I'm not saying the two bands necessarily sound familiar, but I'd bet the average fan of One King Down would also be into this record. Eyelid wasn't a Snapcase ripoff, however. This six song ep was released in 1996 on Southern Cali's Ammunition Records, a label that also put out stuff by 1134, Remain and Palefire.

The musicianship displayed here is a good bit better (what?) than your typical metallic mid to late 90s hc. "...Days Infected" is also way ahead of anything else this band ever did, at least the other stuff I own. A couple of these songs also appeared on the "Bleeding Through" 7" on Phtye Records, but sound better here. I saw Eyelid play one time in 1997 at a show in Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania (see flyer below) where they were extremely out of place. I thought they were awesome, so I ended up grabbing this cd at the show and chatting with the guys in the band, who seemed pretty excited about the fact that they sounded like no one else on the bill that night. One of these dudes played in Strife years before this, so there ya go.

Additional trivia for you: the cover of Better Than A Thousand's "Value Driven" was taken at this show. The pic features a dude named Ray Mitchell, who used to really like Megadeth*, and is completely unaware of the fact that Ray Of Today is about to lay waste to his face by jumping on him most unforgivingly.

-we are not afraid to play with youth crew bands-

1) Statues
2) Despair Runs Deep
3) Abami
4) Second Savior
5) What Lies Between Us
6) Changeless

*This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as long as the records you enjoy include Rust In Peace.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Introspect - 7" and double 7"

Introspect was rad band from southeastern Pennsylvania that was active during the mid 90s. They played a groovy style of hardcore with those anguished, shouted vocals kids like myself were eating up at the time. There's a kind of Helmet-thing going on here, which definitely worked for them and which you can hopefully appreciate. Philadelphia and the neighboring areas of Bucks, Montgomery and Delaware Counties had more than a few excellent bands that called its borders home. Introspect was a part of the same local scene along with bands like Prema, Autumn, Bleed, Canon, Franklin, Frail, among others. These two records are just a few more examples of what was going on in the Keystone State during the mid 90s. They were released on bass player Shawn Wieland's Fountainhead Records in 1994, and Eric Wareheim of Adult Swim fame played second guitar on the 2x7".

Some warning, the cover of "I Think We're Alone Now" is actually only a 25 second snippet of some in-studio silliness, as opposed to an actual legit cover. I didn't want you to get your hopes up, as it certainly doesn't warrant getting it's own song title on the sleeve. Moving on, both records are enjoyable, but I think I may dig the 7", which was the earlier release, a bit more. Check 'em out.

1) Her Monument
2) Stationary Trust

1) Muddy Water
2) Forced Reaction
3) Blue / I Think We're Alone Now
4) Always
5) Birthright
6) Effort

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Exploder 7"

Sometime in 1999, my buddy Sean and I were digging through records at Doylestown, Pennsylvania's fantastic Siren Records when he stumbled upon this Richmond bands LP, "This Sound Stars Right Now". He took a chance and bought it (probably because it was on white vinyl and came out on Baltimore's excellent Reptilian Records) and when we listened to it at our cute friend "Grody Jodi"s apartment (Sean's eye candy at the time), we were absolutely floored. The Exploder are probably the best emo band you aren't listening to. Equal parts chaotic, spastic and catchy hardcore punk that was just heavy enough and, perhaps most notably, was energetic as fuck.

The 7" presented here is their earliest output and, most likely, is way better than anything the last three bands you were in ever did. Recorded in March of 1997 and released by Virginia indie Jackpot Records, it serves as a great introduction to what the band would eventually accomplish less than a year later. After this ep and before the aforementioned full length, The Exploder did a split 12" with North Carolina's Griver, who similarly delivered up some seriously good late 90s emo/hardcore. This, of course, was a period of time before the words "emo" and "screamo" were associated with shitty corporate mall metal, dudes with pink hair who also wore eyeliner, and other things that had absolutely nothing in common with the true spirit of do-it-yourself emotional hardcore punk, man.

Unfortunately, the last two releases by The Exploder were nowhere near as good as their first four phenomenal records. It was like the dudes in the band stopped taking their adderall and started listening to Mineral (who ruled) or The Promise Ring (who didn't). The abrasive edge just wasn't there anymore; instead it was replaced with a heaping helping of melody and not-very-goodiness that just didn't hit me in the face anymore. These final  records included a six song ep titled "West End Kids Crusade" from 2000, and a split 7" with Cross My Heart from late 2000 or early 2001. Dim Mak Records, which used to be operated by the well known DJ Steve Aoki, put out the WEKC record, in case that would matter to you.

Wrapping this post up, it would be wise of you to seek out everything by this band if you listen to Frodus, Four Hundred Years, Midiron Blast Shaft or even pre-Victory Records era Grade. You can start with this seven inch and thank me later. Big ups to Jaybie for making sure this record wound up in my hands many moons ago.

-good intentions-

1) Escrow
2) Burnt Black
3) Greek Lightning

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

V/A - "They Came From Massachusetts" compilation cd

As the name of the release properly indicates, this comp features a bunch of bands from Massachusetts. It came out in 199? on Big Wheel Recreation (BWR#4), which had a ton of success in the 90s and 00s. There are bands on here I was into at some point (Six Going On Seven, Jejune, TYF, Converge, Piebald - this era, when they were good and screamy) and bands that I wasn't (454 Big Block, Iris [not to be confused w/ Isis, bro], Blood For Blood).

Give it a listen, and then you make the call. I definitely played a show in early 1996 somewhere in New Jersey with Boxer, who are on this comp, though. Wacky.

1) 454 Bigblock "Born Human"
2) The Automatic Few "Voice Of A Salesman"
3) Bane "Both Guns Blazing"
4) Blood For Blood "Can't Heal"
5) Boxer "Thumbtack"
6) Cast Iron Hike "Shoot, Knife, Strangle, Beat and Crucify" *G.G. Allin cover*
7) Converge "Flowers And Razorwire"
8) Champale "Moral Rot"
9) The Doosies "Pyrite"
10) Iris "Splinter"
11) Jejune "Greyscale"
12) Miltown "No Matter"
13) Opposition "Better Days And Bad Advice"
14) Otis "All Set"
15) Piebald "Hillary Dresser"
16) Reason Enough "Eve Of My Awakening"
17) Ten Yard Fight "Drawing The Line"
18) Six Going On Seven "Method Actor"
19) Vehicle Birth "Coltrane"

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Encounter - "Lost"

Early 90s melodic straight edge hardcore from South Jersey (Cherry Hill, specifically). Really awesome, sonorous hc that is musically reminiscent of early Outspoken, minus the "gruff" vocals. This band fit in nicely with both the youth crew-influenced bands of the time (like Pennsylvania's Edgewise, or NJ neighbors Mouthpiece) as well as other bands like Worlds Collide or the aforementioned Outspoken. This, ladies and gentleman, is probably my favorite record of all time. As in ever. I started going to shows in 1992 and unfortunately never caught this band live. Looking back, that fact makes little to no sense because the band's hometown is about 45 minutes from where I grew up, right across the bridge from Trenton, New Jersey, aka America's grossest and most dangerous state capital. Regardless, the four songs on "Lost" are probably the best stuff these dudes ever did (edit: it fucking is) and this still gets played regularly by yours truly. If anyone has any live footage of this band, you need to let me know pronto, because I have never come across any.

The Jordan brothers used to operate Philly's Watermark Records, which released world class records by stellar bands like Lincoln, Threadbare, Conviction and Flagman, as well as the "Land Of Greed...World Of Need" compilation. Released on Redemption Records (also from Philadelphia, yo!), which was also a pretty great label back in the day, releasing stuff from Resurrection, TX's underrated Intent, Four Walls Falling and the greatest thing to ever come out of State College, Pennsylvania: Junction. This 7" was released first as a cassingle (fuck, remember those?) before it became available on vinyl and cd (as an equally now-obscure "cd single"). The fucking early 90s, man, I miss you so much! I own copies of "Lost" on cd (opened, but still shrink-wrapped after all these years) and vinyl, and pics of both are included below for your viewing pleasure. These songs were recorded at Don Fury's in NYC in June 1991. Still the best 7" ever.

- I'm lost in this cold-

1) Break Free
2) Surrounded
3) Unheard
4) Lost

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Cable - "Variable Speed Drive"

In 1996, I was living by myself in a shitty one bedroom apartment in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. I was also ordering a lot of records, spending way too much money buying stuff from the Very Distro catalog (remember that 90s hardcore gem?), as well as directly from various labels. I bought quite a few of the earlier releases from Jim Burham / Moo Cow Records: the Atlas Shrugged / New Day Rising split, the Scout 7", the New Day Rising / Despair split, and the Cave In / Piebald split, among others. You could say we were penpals. Another one of these purchases was the Malcolm's Lost / Cable split 7", which I'm holding in my hands right now and is Moo Cow #9. This split was my introduction to Connecticut's Cable, who played heavy, noisy and somewhat spazzy hardcore. "Variable Speed Drive" came out on Doghouse Records during the middle of 1996. It was their first full length and, in my opinion, is the bands best record by far. Additionally, I still consider this release to be of Doghouse's best offerings ever, right up there with the two Threadbare discs and "Fate's Got A Driver" by Chamberlain. Cable definitely had an Amphetamine Reptile / Unsane influence going on. Another decent comparison would be to imagine the first Lincoln 7", but with the added pleasure of having the heaviness cranked up to thirteen. This stuff was way louder than most of what was being released on Doghouse, which was a nice surprise. Because I've always dug heavier shit.

I only saw Cable live one time. It was in 1998 at the Melody Bar in New Brunswick, NJ (great venue, R.I.P.) with demo-era Isis (who I thought was awful then, as I do now), Nora (who was, uh, also pretty fucking terrible), and some headliner who I am forgetting. Cable had just gotten a new drummer, so they only played new stuff and not a single fucking song from this LP, which bummed me out to no end. This, they explained, was because they hadn't taught him the old stuff yet. Wait, what? How did you even try him out, bros? YOUR BAND IS ON FUCKING DOGHOUSE RECORDS, YO, GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER. Also, I'm 100% positive that I was the only person there who gave a poo about seeing Cable play, as there couldn't have been more than eleven or twelve motherfuckers who watched them, and nobody seemed interested. That is something I'll never understand. Shame on you, New Brunswick...shame on you. Their set was good, I was just a bit butt-hurt, I guess. The silver lining of this afternoon, however, was the fact that after the show I scored a copy of their demo cassette from them, so that ruled. Two pics of it can be found below for shits and giggles. The songs on "Variable Speed Drive" were recorded in March of 1996.

-best friend with a firearm-

1) Needles Vs Nails
2) Steel Cage Match
3) Sick Little Ritual
4) Water.Down.Rock
5) Carolina Eyes
6) Lie Detector
7) The Sinking Vessel
8) Paperplanecrash

Lvmen - "Raison D'Etre"

"Honestly, Lvmen is probably my favorite European hardcore band ever," would be my reply if someone sat me down, gave me dirty looks and forced me to pick one. Here is the 2nd record from this underrated Czech band, which was released on Day After Records in 2000, or sometime thereabouts. Epic, monumental, swirling music that takes on a somewhat instrumental nature, but had plenty of samples and vocals to keep you occupied. I suppose it's fair to say the main focus here is on the music they play, and not so much on the vocals, really. Lots of buildups, some quiet parts, and excellent drumming. This band (along with approximately 78% of current black metal bands) does not give titles to their songs, just list them as numbers in the order in which they were written.

The first Lvmen record, a two song 12" released on the same label a year or two earlier, is equally as good - if not better than this cd. The solid musicianship present in their songs has always given me an almost "otherworldly" vibe when listening to Lvmen records. The band broke up shortly after this came out, but they have since reconvened and released new material, all of which was made available from the aforementioned record label. Intelligently written hardcore that probably would appeal to musicians to a greater degree than your average hc kid.

Do you like GYBE circa 2000? Me too, and this group's early catalog brings that highly praised Canadian band to mind. Somewhat, anyway. Whatever, it's fucking good, and worth checking out just for the first two tracks. Recorded in February 2000 at Sikyr Bros Studio in Prague.

-trust me, believe me-

1) No. 3
2) No. 4
3) No. 5
4) No. 6
5) No. 7

Portrait - "s/t"

This is a self-released cd from Atlanta, Georgia's Portrait, and came out in the year 2000. The first 5 tracks here were released as a 10" from 1999 on Sanguine Records, tracks 6-8 are from the bands first 7", released in 1997, and the last track is an unreleased jam recorded in April of 1998. Really well done screamy emo complete with a viola and falling down screaming type vocals. You should get the idea. Fans of mid-90s bands such as Frail, Elements Of Need, Embassy or even Fingerprint should check this band out, if you haven't already. I still think the best band of this style from the great state of Georgia would be fellow Atlantans Inkwell (Lewis Lovely from said band recorded a few of these songs), but these guys and girl come in a close second. Scott McFarland, who played bass in Portrait, also ran seminal Atlanta label Concurrent, which released records from Serotonin, The Kossabone Red and the previously-posted-on-this-here-blog Prevail.

The stuff on this disc eventually reappeared on Portrait "Complete Discography" cd, which was released by Stickfigure Records a decade ago. Recorded January 1999, April 1998 and December 1997. Quality emo hardcore.

-if you go, please take your all-

1) Even Now
2) Quiet Company
3) Missing The Shore
4) Constellations Of A Star-gazing Iris
5) North Ebony
6) Knowing Your Friends
7) Once An Englishman
8) Something In Philadelphia
9) Always Sacred

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Four Hundred Years | Live in Philadelphia

Here is a live set from Four Hundred Years, recorded at the fabled Stalag 13 in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 22nd, 1999. Sleepytime Trio and The Episode also played that night, and both ST3 and FHY were amazing as they always were. I don't remember much about The Episode's set, as I was not really into the band. They did, however, feature ex-members of Action Patrol, but you probably know that already.

This was recorded on a four track by my old friend Jay, who also captured the Sleepytime Trio set, which I have never heard. Dru Martin (formerly of Encyclopedia Of American Traitors, Spirit Assembly and eventually of Young Livers) played drums for Four Hundred Years at this show, and you can see how he put his own personal slant on some of Ash Bruce's drum parts. The band played at a friend's wedding the previous night, and they wore the same thrift store-purchased suits (I hope) they performed that show in. Additionally, Colin from This Day Forward gave me a copy of his band's first cd which had just come out at this show, and that was very nice of him. Decent sound quality here and a good performance equals a worthy listen if you're a fan of these guys. I didn't get my hands on a flyer for this show, but here's one from a different, completely unrelated Four Hundred Years show in Lancaster. Since I'm absolutely horrendous when it comes to most aspects of technology, I'm not sure if the songs will be in the correct order when downloaded, so I included the setlist below. You can organize it accordingly if you'd like.

-I miss you, Stalag 13-

Here is the setlist
1) Suture
2) Motion Sickness
3) Red Tape
4) Transmit Failure
5) An Hour Too Late
6) Philadelphia (a new jam at the time)
7) Penny For Your Thoughts
8) Life Support
9) Power Of Speech
10) Radio Silence
11) Architect

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Prevail - "Curtain Call (discography)"

This disc compiles everything recorded by the severely under-appreciated South Carolinian six-piece Prevail. I was first introduced to these guys upon purchasing the Placebo compilation 7" (put out by Atlanta's Concurrent Records) in late '95 or early '96. The band pretty much blew me away when I heard their contribution to this record, "Nine". I eventually wound up getting my hands on a few of their other releases and was equally impressed.

I've always really enjoyed it when a band includes explanations for their songs in the liner notes with their releases, and Prevail usually did so. They played energetic, chunky and metallic hardcore with a clear personal influence, dual vocals and a d.i.y. mentality. Included here is a well done Judge cover (No Apologies), every song Prevail recorded from 5 different studio sessions (31 songs, close to 70 minutes of music) and a sound clip of the band dropping a serious reference to the best Christmas special ever, "Emmet Otter's Jug-band Christmas". All of these jams were recorded at the same studio with the same engineer, so the sound is quite consistent. If you enjoy Jihad, Nema, or even Jara you'll probably like this band too. Released in 1999 (I believe) on Hanged Hero Records, which was run by one of the members of Prevail.

-don't think i don't see you-