All right, people. Today we’re going to kick it old school.
Please accept my apologies for such a lame introduction, but honestly it’s all I have the energy for right now. After a busy weekend that was capped off with watching the Penguins seal a Stanley Cup victory late last night, I barely managed about three hours of sleep.
So anyway, here’s what I’ve got for you: a pair of newly reissued classics by two bands who — while I definitely wouldn’t call either of them unknown or obscure — have never seemed to achieve the level of recognition that they each seem to deserve …
I really don’t recall any fuss having been made back in 1998, which would have been a far more interesting (and concise) thing to share. Of course, at that time we didn’t have memes or Facebooks. We barely had started getting the hang of this whole World Wide Web thing. On the other hand, I do remember the big hubbub over the so-called “Slayer Day” on 06/06/06 (which then became an annual tradition for absolutely no reason that made any kind of sense) — hard to believe it’s been a whole decade since then!
Anyway, Happy New Year to everyone out there. As I write these words, I’m on my way back to work from a nice long weekend, and not quite feeling fully recovered yet. But I did want to say hello, and let you all know that my Top 15 of 2015 list is now online. I’ve placed it alongside the lists from 2011-2014, which have all been collected on this shiny new “Year End Lists” page.
You may notice that almost everything on the 2015 list hasn’t been written about on this website (yet). You may also have noticed that things have been kind of quiet around here for a little while. Both of those things will be changing in the near future, as I’ll gradually be publishing reviews for each of these as time allows. But for now, go enjoy the list. I’ll be checking back with you soon.
EDITOR’S NOTE: as some of you may have noticed, I put out an open call for writers a short while back when I updated this website’s contact page. That offer still stands — anyone who might have something to contribute, please feel free to get in touch! Today I’m posting an article that was sent to me regarding Anthrax/S.O.D. guitarist (and perennial VH1 personality) Scott Ian. Please enjoy!
It had been rumored and speculated about ever since the band first announced that they were reuniting several years ago, but early last month it became 100% official: for the second time in less than a year, one of my favorite bands ever will be releasing a new album for the first time since I was in high school. Of course this is exciting news (that, until about five or six years ago, I would never have guessed would ever be happening again), and — with some amount of trepidation — I’m really trying to be optimistic about it. But that’s not what I’m here to tell you about.
By this point, I’m assuming any of you who would care at all about this band’s upcoming seventh album have already seen most of the information currently available — and probably even listened to one of the two pre-released singles that have come out so far. So I’m not really intending (or expecting) to inform anybody here. Instead, I’d like to take this opportunity to share an anecdotal description of my own discovery of the band, dating back multiple decades; perhaps to offer a little bit of insight into myself as a writer and a fan. I don’t know whether anyone will actually care about any of this, but considering how influential this was in my formative music-listening years, I felt like I ought to take the time to write it.
Mortals – Cursed to See the Future (Relapse Records, 08 July 2014)
I don’t know who wrote the official band bio for Brooklynite trio Mortals (the one that accompanies their press kit and also appears on their record label’s website), but I don’t think I really understand what it’s trying to say. It starts off by contrasting this band with the way most other bands come together:
Many heavy bands follow a straight line — they start a band with some people they know, they pick a well-worn genre, they write riffs and drum beats that sound pretty similar to all the other riffs and drum beats that have been written. That isn’t Mortals.
…but then it goes on to explain how the three members met when they were involved with various other bands (for example, two of them were in a Slayer cover band together, two of them were in a math-rock band together) and eventually the three of them found they had enough common interests that they decided to form a new band; chemistry developed and gradually they found themselves evolving into their own style. Which, in essence, sounds like a variant of the history behind almost every band I know. So that’s got me feeling slightly confused.
But anyway, none of that really matters. What the band sounds like is far more important than any written description, when it comes to me picking what I want to write about and share with you, and the music should be able to speak for itself. And here it certainly does. It also helps that I’ve been watching for news from this band over the past couple of years — on the advice of Meat Mead Metal (whom you should absolutely familiarize yourself with immediately if you aren’t already a regular reader, because not only is this without a doubt the best music journalism you’ll find here in Pittsburgh, but this guy churns out high-quality writing with a consistency that could rival just about anyone else out there!), who has had plenty of good things to say about Mortals on several occasions (like here, for example). About a year after that particular article was written, the band had signed a deal with Relapse Records, and today marks their first release with that label, the full-length Cursed to See the Future.
Cannabis Corpse / Ghoul – Splatterhash (7 January 2014, Tankcrimes Records)
Exhumed / Iron Reagan – Split 12″ (7 January 2014, Tankcrimes Records)
Tankcrimes Records has been known to put out some fairly unique and sought-after releases over the past few years. (For instance, who could forget 2012’s hugely successful Toxic Waste split featuring Toxic Holocaust and Municipal Waste?) Well yesterday, just barely a week into 2014, we find the label has issued not one but TWO more excellent split records to add to that impressive repertory.
Fatality – Psychonaut (self-released, 28 June 2013)
Hey, guys and gals! Remember Fatality? I first introduced you to this cool Canadian thrash band last summer when they were holding a contest, but at the same time I wrote a few words about their 2011 T.F.E.S. EP. That three-song release is still available to download for free (I’ll toss the Bandcamp widget at the bottom of this post), and the title track (“Thrash Fuck Eat Sleep”) is still one of the catchiest pieces of thrash metal I’ve heard in ages.
Anyway, the guys have a brand new album out now — they released Psychonaut two months ago, and since then they’ve been jaunting all across the United States and Canada on what they’re calling the “Towards Disastour”. (It’s a play on words, because there’s a song on the new record called “Towards Disaster”. Funny, right? These guys are just full of hilarity — just check out vocalist Spencer Le Von‘s ongoing tour blog over at Dead Rhetoric, or his series of Backseat Podcasts, or the band’s blog which he occasionally updates “with fervent apathy”. Seriously, check that shit out.)
The Towards Disastour tour is coming to a close tonight — Wednesday 28 August 2013 — with a stop in Pittsburgh, PA. Readers who live nearby are highly encouraged to come on out to Howlers in Bloomfield tonight. The show will also feature local thrash/traditional heavy metal greats Vermithrax and the NWOBHM-flavored Lady Beast (see full details about the show here). If you need more convincing than that (or if you live somewhere far away and won’t be able to go see the band in person tonight), keep on reading and I’ll tell you a little more about the new album Psychonaut.