Hey folks — a very Happy (Belated) New Year to all of you! 2013 definitely turned out to be an interesting year for me, with lots of big changes, new projects, new responsibilities, etc., but an unfortunate side-effect of some of that was (as you’ve surely noticed) that the amount of time I’d been spending writing really tapered off as the year went on, to the point where I didn’t post
anything here for the last few months! Well, as you may have seen, I’ve started writing reviews of some new 2014 releases — and as time allows I promise I will also be sharing plenty of older stuff I’ve missed writing about, because believe me there has been a TON worth sharing!
But more on that later. As I started doing last year, I’ve once again put together a collection of various people’s “best of” lists from 2013. Admittedly I sort of got a late start on this (I didn’t even put out the open invitation until after most websites had already finished with publishing all their year-end stuff), but several people have answered the call and contributed some really interesting lists that you’ll want to check out…
Folks, if you’ve had your ear to the ground over the past few months you might have noticed that there has been some rumbling coming out of the dark underworld of hardcore. There has been so much hype swirling around the crusty, grimy beast known as Meth Quarry lately, that the band has reached a nearly mythical status — without having played a single show yet!
But all of that is about to change, because these guys are finally ready to come crawling out of the dank cellar of Pittsburgh’s underground and expose the good people of the Steel City to their grim “dirge” hardcore style. Last weekend I met up with the quintet (guitarists Chris Smith and Kevin Hogue, bassist Aaron Kaczynski, vocalist Adam Joseph Bailey, and drummer Brandon “Fluffy” Baker) to talk about the story of the band’s formation and what sort of things they’ve got on the horizon — I joined them at one of their rehearsals, which took place in the basement of Kevin’s house, so when I say “crawling out of the cellar” I actually mean it literally…
Strong Intention – Razorblade Express (02 July 2012, Patac Records)
Maybe it’s because of when I was born (after Star Wars but before The Empire Strikes Back) — I just barely missed out on the original genesis of both the punk and heavy metal movements; I was too young to get much exposure to either genre until the late 80s, and when I did start listening to some of the stuff in my pre-teen years and beyond, I didn’t really have any sense of the history behind either scene or the animosity that existed between them…
I don’t know what the explanation is, exactly, but I do know I’ve always had one foot on each side of the line, not really caring about definitions or labels or exactly what separates “punk” from “metal” — and in fact, I tend to gravitate towards stuff that has a little of both flavors (and attitudes) mixed in. I’ve never understood the mindset of people who seem to think they have to pick a side, and refuse to acknowledge anything that the other team has done. To me, if it sounds good, it sounds good — it doesn’t matter what you call it.
That’s why I don’t really get the attitude of the folks who maintain the Encyclopædia Metallum, who (from what I’ve heard) are very particular about genre classifications, and extremely selective about which bands they approve for inclusion in their archives. Almost entirely absent from that compendium of musical knowledge: anyone who would be considered more closely associated with the realms of hardcore or punk (including grindcore or crust) than what they consider “real” metal. Where exactly the line is drawn, though, isn’t always completely clear. For example, it seems Napalm Death qualified as exceptions to the rule, as did Motörhead, yet the Misfits seem to have been overlooked — despite being no less influential in the metal world than either of the others.
Anyway, I could go on rambling about this for the rest of the day (and I’d be glad to hear YOUR thoughts on the subject — just visit the comments section below, or hit the VoS Facebook page, whatever works for you), but I really came here just to share some new music with you. That would be the new EP by Strong Intention, Razorback Express — now available on 7″ vinyl through Patac Records!
Ritalin Attack / James Doesn’t Exist – Split (13 April 2012, Torn Flesh Records)
Ritalin Attack – Gutter Bombin’ (07 May 2012, Torn Flesh Records)
Hey there. I thought it’d never get here, but it’s finally Friday!! And there was much rejoicing. Yay.
So, remember last week when I was talking about music journalists who somehow find the time to also be musicians?
Well, at that time I also started writing this review of the recent split release between Ritalin Attack (the brainchild of Ross Gnarly, of American Aftermath fame) and fellow one-man grind band James Doesn’t Exist, which was intended to be published that same day as kind of a companion piece. But then, as it often does, life got in the way and I didn’t get it finished on-time.
Then, ironically, on Monday I learned that Torn Flesh Records had issued another Ritalin attack release, called Gutter Bombin’. I said ironically, because here I sit, unable to complete one article written on-schedule, and meanwhile an entire album of music (well, more of a mini-EP, to be fair) had been written and recorded AND released.
It’s no wonder Ross manages to write and publish nearly 4,000 articles a week (approximately), and it’s also completely fitting that this artist’s name should refer to Ritalin. Also known as Methylphenidate, Ritalin is a drug often prescribed to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) — probably a condition with a high rate of occurrence among performers and fans alike in the grindcore scene — despite the fact that the medication itself is a stimulant, and from a chemical standpoint is basically a milder form of cocaine. Of course I’m not a doctor or a scientist or whatever, but I have absolutely no idea why that would help.
Anyway, the point of all this is, I’ve now edited and amended what I originally had begun writing, so that now it covers both releases — including how to download each of them 100% free, from the nice people at Torn Flesh.
As everyone knows, almost all of the awesome metal tours and festivals take place over in Europe. They’ve got Wacken Open Air in Germany, Download Festival at Donnington Park in England, Metalcamp in Slovenia, and what seems like millions of others — all with the most incredible lineups imaginable. Meanwhile, the rest of us are pretty much just forced to contend with tours that have a far-too-high ratio of shitty-to-good, like Ozzfest or the Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival.
Well, with a few exceptions, and probably the biggest exception each year is the Maryland Deathfest. This weekend-long metal party is held annually in the city of Baltimore, which as everyone knows was named for the seminal 1970s metal band Sir Lord Baltimore.
This year, the Deathfest is taking place between the 24th-27th of May, and tickets are available for three out of those four days. As we’ve recently discussed, Morgion had to pull out of their scheduled performance, but there is still a fuckton and a half of awesomeness in the lineup.
**Update (3 May 2012) — the official time-slot schedule has been released; details below**