Reintroduce Yourself! Chuck Mosley Tour 2017

 

I think it would be safe to say that it’s not a normal trend for bands to grow in popularity after a significant line-up change, especially when it comes to a shift in the role of lead vocalist. Even more rare would be the case where a band goes on to achieve a global level of mega-stardom, seemingly overnight, but it has happened a few times throughout music history. And each time, there are invariably legions of die-hard fans of the original configuration — armed with countless reasons why Killers or The Piper at the Gates of Dawn was the band’s crowning achievement.

And frankly, “it’s just a difference of opinion“; what rational basis for argument could there really be regarding one’s musical preferences? Likewise, any discussion of Faith No More will immediately attract somebody who asserts that band’s best output was on its first two albums — 1985’s We Care a Lot and 1987’s Introduce Yourself, and they will never tire of explaining why the vocalist of those early years, Chuck Mosley, was preferable in every way to his (now) more well-known successor.

While I won’t be taking this opportunity to weigh in definitively on that argument — my personal obsession with that band has always been based less on the vocals than on most of the other elements anyhow — I will certainly agree that the band’s current singer is generally overrated every bit as much as Mr. Mosley‘s earlier contributions are perpetually underrated. After all, there’s no way to deny the band’s gigantic breakout moment — the one thing your average person-on-the-street will likely remember about the band, if anything at all — was almost entirely based on the vocal performances of previous recordings, most particularly the band’s first semi-big hit single.

Anyway, all of this is actually leading up to a point, which is that Chuck Mosley, that much-beloved former Faith No More vocalist, who went on to front Bad Brains for a while in the early ’90s before venturing off as a solo artist (sometimes under his own name and sometimes in conjunction with his band V.U.A.) with works like Will Rap Over Hard Rock for Food and last year’s compendium Demos for Sale, now finds himself touring all across America — starting this weekend and lasting well past the end of the summer (at least)! Dozens of shows have already been announced, and I’ve got a listing of all the most current information right here. (And the official word is that there will be more announcements forthcoming, so keep checking back if you don’t see your city listed yet!)

 

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Anicon – Exegeses (2016)

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AniconExegeses (vinyl Gilead Media / CD Avantgarde Music, 08 July 2016)

 

Good morning, reader — hope you’re having a good, relaxing weekend! Normally this would be my time away from writing, too, but I just realized that Anicon are coming to Pittsburgh tonight. And I realized that last year when these blackened Brooklynites came to town, I had their 2015 EP Aphasia on my to-do list, but something came up that prevented me from attending that show or even getting a chance to write about the band’s most recent release. (I eventually did get around to it earlier this year, but I still felt bad for my negligence.)

So this time around, the band has a brand-new album which just came out earlier this month, and — even though, due to some rotten luck, family obligations will prevent me from being able to see this fantastic band perform again — I definitely did not want to miss the opportunity to share this with you people before tonight.

For those of you in the Pittsburgh area, The Smiling Moose on the Southside is the place to be; here are all the details. For those living elsewhere, the band’s scheduled dates can be found here, and in either case, keep reading to check out their newest record …

 

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Six Feet Under – Crypt of the Devil (2015), Graveyard Classics IV (2016)

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Six Feet UnderCrypt of the Devil (Metal Blade Records, 05 May 2015)

 

Six Feet Under - Graveyard Classics IV

Six Feet UnderGraveyard Classics IV: The Number of the Priest (Metal Blade Records, 27 May 2016)

 

Okay, here’s my story. About fifteen or sixteen years ago, the file-sharing software Napster had hit its prime. The MP3 file format had been around for a few years, and it was a revolutionary new way to store and transfer digital audio due to the way it compressed data, which meant that over a relatively decent dial-up connection, it became possible to download a song in a matter of several minutes rather than hours. But coinciding with the rise of the Napster service, cable or DSL internet services were becoming increasingly widespread among household users — and while these broadband connections couldn’t compare with the direct lines found in larger businesses or colleges (or even with the high-speed options available in homes today), this increased upload and download speeds exponentially: now (depending on the speed of the specific peer-to-peer connection), that same MP3 file could usually be downloaded in less time than it would take you to listen to the song it contained. There was still plenty of technological advances yet to come, to the point where you can now go to Bandcamp and download an entire album in about thirty seconds or less, but compared with the way things had been for years prior, this was a pretty amazing development.

At that time, I was just into my early twenties, and very eager to learn about all the music that was out there for me to discover. No longer limited to what was available on the radio or MTV, there was a whole new world now accessible with just a few keystrokes and mouse clicks. And so I set out to fill my ears with everything I possibly could. Wikipedia was still in its infancy then, and the Encyclopaedia Metallum had not yet been launched, but I remember finding an invaluable source of information at the now-defunct CDNow.com — which, at the time, was basically the music store equivalent of Amazon.com, who was still primarily involved in selling only books. CDNow had fairly extensive biographical information for most of the artists whose music they sold, and also had an excellent system of recommendations — a series of rabbit holes through which I spend many, many hours wandering. Between all of that online research, and sometimes just stumbling upon random things in the course of conducting Napster searches, I had started to amass quite a sizable library of music, in an ever-broadening range of styles.

The point of all this is that at some time — I guess it was probably around early 2001 — I happened upon a death metal version of Dead Kennedys‘ “California Über Alles” by a band called Six Feet Under, which I thought was well-done, in a somewhat amusing, tongue-in-cheek kind of way. As it turns out, just before this (specifically, in October 2000), the band had released an album called Graveyard Classics which was entirely made up of cover versions of old-school rock, punk, and metal songs — so naturally when I tried searching for more of their material, these were the songs that popped up most often: “Sweet Leaf,” “In League with Satan,” and so on. At the time I didn’t know anything about Six Feet Under, although I did learn that it had first launched as a side project of Chris Barnes who had been the vocalist for Cannibal Corpse. Now that was a band I was at least somewhat familiar with, as a high school classmate had introduced me to their highly disturbing brand of extreme metal back in the early- or mid-90s. Anyway, given that limited amount of information, and the selection of songs I had been finding available for download (for what it’s worth, I later did end up buying a copy of Graveyard Classics), the natural conclusion I drew at that time was that apparently Six Feet Under was essentially the Me First and the Gimme Gimmes of death metal …

I don’t remember exactly when, but eventually I learned the full story behind the band — that they do have original material as well, and that Barnes had decided to shift all his energy here after being expelled from Cannibal Corpse following their first few albums (and not long after forming this side project), for reasons that vary depending on which version of the story you hear, but which may have included being more interested in marijuana than in being seriously committed to the band. Whether there’s any truth to that could be debated endlessly, but I’ve always found it a bit peculiar that there might have been an issue with someone’s seriousness when it comes to membership in a band whose lyrics and titles were so offensive that it was almost cartoonish, and whose artwork was so absurdly graphic that their albums were normally sold mostly (or even entirely) covered with a plain cardboard sleeve. But anyway, none of that is really relevant here — we’re here to discuss Six Feet Under, who have always seemed to (at least at some level) embrace the inherent silliness of the extreme death metal genre — especially when it comes to tackling cover songs that are often, as I noted earlier, clearly intended to be at least somewhat tongue-in-cheek.

 

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Darkthrone – The Underground Resistance (2013), Germ – Escape (2016)

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DarkthroneThe Underground Resistance (Peaceville Records, 25 February 2013)

 

Germ-Escape

GermEscape (Prophecy Productions, 29 April 2016)

 

Good afternoon, or good evening, or good whatever-it-is-right-now. I can hardly even tell anymore, because I don’t think there was any point today at which I even reached a state of being half-awake. These late-night hockey playoff games are really killing me. Last night’s went into overtime, which ended up only lasting about two and a half minutes, but still, it was already difficult enough for me to stay awake through the end of the first three periods.

Anyway, I’ll quit whining and get on with the music I have to share with you today. One of these was on my top 13 of 2013 list — yes, I’m still working on getting something written about each of those, and we’re down to just a handful remaining! — while the other was released just last week, but both of these albums are highly recommended listening (even though on the surface they seem completely different) …

 

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Cave of Swimmers – Cave of Swimmers (2014) and Reflection (2015)

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Cave of SwimmersCave of Swimmers (The Path Less Traveled Records, 15 April 2014)

 

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Cave of SwimmersReflection (self-released, 4 May 2015)

 

Dear Friends, I am thoroughly confused about something. It’s been about two months since Cave of Swimmers, the Venezuelan-American guitar/moog/vocals/drums duo who live in Miami, released their second album Reflection. This is a collection of four songs that are sheer excellence — every bit as fantastic as the four songs on their self-titled debut which had been released about a year prior — unquestionably one of the most incredible things I heard in 2014, and quite a pleasant out-of-nowhere surprise. So what I can’t understand is, at this point, why is this band not just exploding, and being lauded with overwhelming international renown??

To a small extent, I accept and acknowledge my share of the blame: on both occasions I’ve let trivial things like “being too busy at work to get much writing done” keep me from publicly sharing my thoughts on the release of these two brilliant albums (with one minor exception). Well that all ends today. Get ready to fill your ears with this…

 

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Slaves BC / Grace & Thieves – Cursed Breath / Innocent Blood (2014)

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Slaves BC / Grace & ThievesCursed Breath / Innocent Blood (Veritas Vinyl, 04 August 2014)

 

The split record is an interesting concept in the music industry. The vinyl EP or LP or cassette with (usually) one band on each side, or the more modern CD or digital release with tracks contributed by two (or occasionally more) bands — these frequently fall into a couple different categories. Sometimes bands will be such kindred spirits, sharing all the same influences and each representing a similar approach to their particular genre, that it seems completely natural for them to work together; in these cases the bands probably already have a huge overlap in their fan bases, but the split will surely be a treat for those people who already like both bands. On the other hand, many joint releases are the result of bands who are close friends — perhaps they live in the same city and play shows together all the time — but who actually have little else in common; the result here is that die-hard “completist” fans of either band will end up buying the record, but probably few of them will listen to the flip side more than once (if at all).

In most other cases, two bands are brought together by songs third party: perhaps they share management or PR representation, or belong to the same record label’s roster. These could be marketed to fans of each band or just people who may have been familiar with some of the other output from that label (or whatever); it becomes an efficient way for listeners to “test drive” bands, without having to take a chance investing in a full length from someone unfamiliar. Ideally, the person putting together the release will have done some homework (or just have good instincts) and pair up artists who are different enough to attract a wide range of listeners, yet share enough of a common bond for both sides to appeal (at least to some degree) to that whole audience.

And if you ask me (and technically, by clicking on this review and reading these words I wrote, you did ask me — at least implicitly), the Veritas Vinyl label has accomplished this successfully with their Cursed Breath / Innocent Blood 12″ which officially comes out today. This split brings together bands that employ two rather disparate styles of metal (one leaning in a blackened direction, the other sticking with a more old-school doom and traditional heavy metal sound), but they each combine their respective patois with a foundation heavily influenced by hardcore/noise and/or hardcore punk.

 

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Review: Satan – Life Sentence

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SatanLife Sentence (Listenable Records, 21 May 2013)

 

Hello, readers. As I mentioned a few days ago when I published my list of year-end lists (if you missed it, the collection can be found right here; my own personal list of 2013’s best releases can be found by scrolling all the way to the bottom), and as you could certainly tell yourself just by poking around a little bit, I really dropped the ball when it came to getting much writing done last year. And consequently, I neglected to share a great deal of music with you folks. Believe me, I feel bad about that, because there’s so much of it that I’ve been really enjoying listening to, and it’s pretty unfair not to pass that along. So on that note, let’s talk about Satan.

 

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