Hey folks. I won’t waste my time or yours trying to introduce you to Red Fang, because obviously you are already familiar with them — American stoner rock band for the past decade and a half, aficionados of cheap beer and good times, probably as well-known for their goofy videos as for their music itself?
Well in case you missed it, earlier this year Relapse Records put out the band’s fifth album Arrows, and as par for the course, the band also filmed a video for the title track “Arrows” (which you can check out below if you haven’t seen it yet).
Once you’ve checked out these four-plus minutes of the bandmates whacking every imaginable object in half with swords, your initial reaction is likely to be how much fun this would be, and how much you would like to try it for yourself. If that’s true, well then you’re (somewhat) in luck…
Nothing – GEORGE (A Live Part Time Punks Session, Los Angeles 12.07.2019), self-released 01 June 2020
In light of, and in solidarity with, the wholly justified anger (and the equally justified demonstrations and protests currently taking place) against the completely broken system we are all stuck in — and particularly in light of the undeniable truth that the system is SO MUCH more broken for SO MANY demographic groups other than my own — it has felt appropriate to take some time away from putting out any new content of my own, for the past week or so.
To the extent that anybody ever cares what I have to say about anything, it feels like especially right now, who wants to hear the thoughts and opinions of some random straight white dude? So I’ve been pretty quiet, no writing about music, no news or reviews; and instead trying to use whatever minuscule social influence I have to help spread the words of other people, who are far more relevant to the very serious discussions taking place right now.
But today, the fifth of June, is Bandcamp Friday once again — where the Bandcamp is taking zero fees from anything purchased through their platform — and artists and labels all over the world are taking advantage of the day to pledge donations to a very wide range of social causes. In fact, Bandcamp themselves have put together this lengthy (but certainly not comprehensive) list of folks donating their profits and/or making special limited-edition material or merchandise available for the occasion. They also shared this gigantic list of over 1000 black artists and producers and black-owned labels you may wish to check out today. (A big thank you to those who have put a ton of effort into compiling and continuing to maintain this spreadsheet!)
Black Anvil – Hail Death (Relapse Records, 27 May 2014)
Black Anvil – As Was (Relapse Records, 13 January 2017)
Recently I was reminiscing about the last Winter’s Wake festival in Pittsburgh, partly because we’ve been reporting the news about this summer’s Migration Fest which will also be taking place in this area, but also because we’ve just (well, a little over a month ago) hit the five year anniversary of Winter’s Wake. This also had me thinking about Black Anvil.
They’d been around for a few years by that time and had already released a pair of albums, so I’m sure I had heard a song or two at some point, or at least was vaguely aware of their existence within the realm of domestic black metal bands. But that show — which was immediately preceded by a series of “getting to know you”-style interviews I’d conducted with nearly all of the performing bands (I’d missed a couple, due to timing issues or communication breakdowns, but as I recall, Black Anvil were the only ones who had outright declined to participate in the interview process) — was the first real exposure I’d had.
I can just vaguely remember that night — this was Friday, the first of two days full of music, and they were the second-to-last band to play, after we all had been standing for hours in this cramped loft-sized space breathing in the toxic fumes rising from the nail salon down at ground level. That was the atmosphere through which the band members pushed and shoved their way, each dripping with blood, to ascend to a stage hazy and thick with fog machine discharge — and instantly exploded into a maelstrom of blackened death fury.
Primitive Man – Caustic (Relapse Records, 06 October 2017)
The world is an ugly, ugly place. Virtually everything and everyone in it is awful. At least, that’s often how it feels. And at such times, it can be helpful to have something pleasant and soothing to comfort you. But it can also be helpful to experience something every bit as ugly and awful, like a giant mirror that reflects the misery and vileness, and just drown yourself in it. Denver’s Primitive Man are pretty far from serving the former purpose, but boy do they ever make up for it as the latter.
That Relapse-relased record that dropped this past October is what we’re addressing today. Read about it, then watch a couple videos (but not at work, or at school, or near any small children, or in public, or around your parents, or in church…) and then finally, down at the bottom of this post you’ll find an extensive list of upcoming shows all over North America, the United Kingdom (with a one-off expedition over to Israel in the middle) and then all over North America again!
Floridian death metal titans Obituary have announced a month-long European headlining tour, beginning on 3rd March in Cologne DE and ending 1st April in Schijndel NL at Paaspop Festival. A full list of tour dates is available below.
Obituary commented on the tour:
We are super excited to be back on a headlining tour in Europe. We have had great opportunities as direct support these past few years for Carcass, Cannibal Corpse, and Kreator but it’s time to get back to that final slot and the full power of a headlining tour. 45-50 min spots are just not enough for Obituary to cover all albums from the past three decades and our fans expect and deserve to see more… and more is what they will get from us on these dates.
We can’t wait to bring our full production and full-length concert to Europe. We will be performing many songs from the self-titled and Inked in Blood releases along with showcasing all the classics that everyone loves and is eager to hear.
We are working on the set list right now and want to hear from our fans which songs they want to hear so we encourage you to give us your ideas, thoughts and suggestions. Hang on to your asses because shit’s about to get real….Real Heavy!!!
Neurosis – Fires Within Fires (Neurot Recordings, 23 September 2016)
So Neurosis are heading out on tour RIGHT NOW. That news by itself will immediately be a huge deal to most people who read this sentence. They’re only hitting a handful of cities across the northeastern U.S. (and southeastern Canada) over the next week and a half, but this is a band that infreuquently performs live in the first place, and very rarely visits the east coast outside the context of a larger music festival (such as Baltimore’s Days of Darkness which they’ll be headlining in October). So, yeah.
But sometimes when it comes to bands that have been around seemingly forever (well over thirty years, in this case) and have achieved a near-universal legendary status (at least, for these guys, among the majority of fans of post-hardcore/sludge metal), it’s easy to forget that there are some folks out there who may not already be intimately familiar with them. Easy to just assume that everyone knows them, disregarding the fact that there’s always somebody who has yet to make that big discovery.
After all, though, that’s the whole point of writing about music: to help someone learn about something that could potentially be life-changing. The About page of this website describes exactly that — while also referencing a particular time period of exploration for myself, which in that narrative was described as “The Napster Years,” but frankly a huge part of my own rebirth as a metal music fan directly resulted from finding Relapse Records CD samplers (like this one and this one) at a local record store (more info here and here for the younger readers). Interestingly, three of the artists that had really jumped out at younger me and grabbed my attention are ones I have written about here, just this month: Today is the Day, Dying Fetus, and now, Neurosis.
Specifically, there were a couple of songs from the band’s then-new album A Sun that Never Sets which I bought not long afterwards, and which was — front-to-back — one of the most amazing things I’d ever experienced. So in light of all that, I’m pleased to present — to any of you who may not have heard this yet — their latest release, 2016’s Fires Within Fires.
John Frum – A Stirring in the Noos (Relapse Records, 12 May 2017)
Dying Fetus – Wrong One to Fuck With (Relapse Records, 23 June 2017)
Hey boys and girls. To start off the week right, I’m going to call your attention to a couple of recent Relapse releases. Presumably Dying Fetus (whose new album we previewed a little while back) will already be familiar to everyone reading this, but I’ll just take a moment to introduce John Frum.
Named for the messianic figure of a particular religious sect from the south Pacific nation of Vanuatu, John Frum combines guitarist Matt Hollenberg of Cleric (who has also played with John Zorn), bassist Liam Wilson of The Dillinger Escape Plan, Derek Rydquist from Bereft, (who was also with The Faceless for their first couple albums) on vocals, and Eli Litwin (the mastermind behind one-man band Intensus) on drums.
These two bands may have strikingly different takes on death metal, but both albums are definitely worth taking the time to check out!
I remember one year in elementary school — it might have been fourth or fifth grade — when our teacher would occasionally come in and draw a ketchup bottle on the chalkboard. This was an indication that it would be a “ketchup day” or “catch-up day”: where we wouldn’t have any new lessons that day, but could use the time to get current on homework assignments or whatever else we needed to do.
Looking back as an adult, that sounds an awful lot like a scene from the movie Bad Teacher when Cameron Diaz’ character would show her class videos all day because came to school hungover. But in any case, today’s going to be a ketchup day for some recent news items that have come across the VOS editor’s desk …