Body Count – Bloodlust (Century Media Records, 31 March 2017)
Some of our younger readers may recognize Ice-T as the curmudgeonly old guy in the “It’s Lemonade” commercials, or maybe they’ll recall his stints as a reality tv star (here and here). Perhaps he’ll even seem familiar from his portrayal of a police officer on Law & Order: SVU. But before he was gracing screens small and big (and by the way, his acting career has included roles as cops dating back more than a quarter-century), the man born as Tracy Marrow in New Jersey (and then raised in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles) made quite a name for himself as a hugely influential part of the music industry.
Known primarily as one of the innovators who helped to shape the gangster rap genre, with songs like “6 ‘N the Morning,” he later formed the group Body Count with some high school friends who shared an affinity for hard rock music — introducing the band on a self-titled track on his 1991 album O.G. Original Gangster before they came out with a full-length self-titled album the following year.
They have been heavily influenced by fellow Californian contemporaries in the worlds of thrash (like Slayer) and especially crossover (like Suicidal Tendencies) — but for years I’ve seen a lot of negativity expressed towards these guys within the so-called “metal community,” from some of its more closed-minded individuals. Whether that’s a refusal to acknowledge rap or hip hop artists as genuine musicians, or a xenophobic reaction to a perceived “outsider” tresspassing into the “scene” — well, Ice-T‘s spoken-word intro to the original “Body Count” song can be applicable in both directions: “You know, as far as I’m concerned, music is music. I don’t look at it as rock or R&B, all that kind of stuff, I just look at it as music. […] But I do what I like, I happen to like rock ‘n roll. And I feel sorry for anybody who only listens to one form of music.”
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.