Saturday, December 28, 2013

VII's Top 20 Of 2013

I'm blown away by how fucking chaotic 2013 was. It's a year that seemed to go by so quick, but looking back, there was a ton of crazy shit that happened these 365 days. We all grew up, we got wiser, some got stupider, a lot of people died, we all experienced some hard times, and we all saw the explosion of pop stars making grinding on inanimate objects a symbol of sexual liberation. More importantly, we got body slammed with an ton of incredible new music. I think I say this every year, but I'm certain that I took in more new music this year then I ever have. It was a hard task whittling it all down to 20, but I'm pretty confident in my decisions right now, so let me just spill it before I over-think it again and change my mind. As I'm sure you'll figure out, I'm including LP's, EP's,  splits, and demos.

20. Flatbush Zombies - "Better Of Dead" mixtape

I really didn't keep up with hip-hop at all this year (I missed the new Danny Brown, that shows you
how out of touch I am). But the little pieces I've heard really impressed me. Mostly with the amount of creativity and energy they had. The new mixtape from Flathbush Zombies was the diamond that shined brightest. Drugged out, aggressive, and energetic bangers all the way through, with some grimy and impressive rhymes and flows from Meechy, Juice and Erick Ark Elliot. Love it every time I play it.

19. Bastard Noise/Lack Of Interest - Split LP

This came into my possession very late into this year, which is unfortunate as I haven't had very many chances to give it a proper listen (being stuck with broken speakers doesn't help either). But when I did get the chance to finally spin it, I wasn't disappointed in the slightest. I've been anticipating this record for over a year now, and both bands deliver some of their most vicious tracks to date. Especially on the Bastard Noise side. The SKULL crew hasn't sounded this metallic and sharp in ever, and the choice guest spot from Maruta's Mitchell Luna was deadly! Lack of Interest are always, always, always, fucking incredible. Their side of this split is no different.This is one of the rare groups that never lets me down, and this record only strengthen's my love for them. Two of my favorite bands.

18. Prurient/The Rita - "Women Pissing" collab. 7"

Harsh noise/HNW music is something I don't expect everyone to have a fond taste in. But for those with even a mild interest, or for seasoned listeners in general, do not miss this epic pairing of two of the genre's best. The Rita, aka, Sam McKinlay, creates a brutal wall with the manipulated sounds of two women
synchronized swimmers, with Prurient, aka, Dominick Fenrow, supplying the harsh vocals. It's an excellent pairing of modern noises's best acts. Plus, it's cool to see Dominick still doing stuff that isn't techno/darkwave.

17. Archagathus/Nak'ay - Split 10"

This split was a pain in the buttocks to find, but the wait made listening to this incredible record even better. Nak'ay are a complete blasturbation on their side, it's unrelenting filth grind at warp speed.
Imagine if Insect Warfare snorted meth and played through amps made of rust, you get Nak'ay. Archagathus give us a meaty chunk of new songs, with a lot of Swede-grind influence, which was pretty fun and different. Their most metallic and straight grindcore sounding stuff in a while. Mandatory split!

16. Nails - "Abandon All Life"

Haven't played this one in a while, honestly. But I'm a huge fan of Nails, and this album crushed my skull when it came out earlier in the year. They came back louder, faster and heavier then on "Unsilent Death". More grind, more death metal riffs, more more more everything. Still keeping with the fifteen minute album length though, which I dig. Never got why it was so cool to hate on this band, especially if they keep putting out quality albums like this.

15. Sea Of Shit - "S/T" 10"

The mid-west rocked my world this year. That area seems to only be populated with the most fucked up, brilliant musicians. Chicago especially, and my favorite Windy City gutter blasters, Sea Of Shit, came through yet again with their new 10". Self released on their vocalist Robert's own label, Diseased Audio, by the way. While this is definitely the bands cleanest and least noisy recording to date, the pure filth that saturates their music is ever-present. Endlessly negative and grumpier then ever, I'd say that this record definitely has some of the bands best songs so far, and ends with one of my favorite final-screams of 2013.

14. Chainsaw Squid/Ether Binge aka Victim Of A Drive-By - Split cassette

Both of these bands could easily be my favorite bands of 2013. This is a mandatory split between two of the West Coast's best, new grind monsters. I talked very highly of this split in my review, and I stand by every word in that post. Chainsaw Squid are complete brutality, breakneck stops and starts and limb-
flailing blast beats from front to back. Ether Binge are a band that I absolutely cannot wait to hear more recordings from. This is grindcore from the future, with the most interesting slap-bass/metal guitar hybrid sounding instrumentation I've ever heard in this genre. These guys are on the 2nd level and you all need to learn quick.

13. Backslider - "Consequences" 10"

A release that may have come as a bit of a surprise to long time fans of Backslider. Definitely a surprise for me. This album (?) introduced a much different sounding band then the one that used to loyally stay in the no-song-over-a-minute club. Backslider sound more mature, inspired, and heavier then ever before on "Consequences". Keeping their roots in fastcore, and blending stoner sludge, death metal, rock riffs, and whatever the hell else they feel like into one monolith of a record. Do not miss this!!

12. Cheap Art - "Desocialized"

However, if you want a fastcore record that's a no holds barr blasterpiece of excellence, look no further then this new 7" EP from Cheap Art. This is a tough, tough fastcore record, leagues above the EP they released last year. The addition of the new vocalist is excellent. Adding a lot more vocal dynamics to the band, Blown-out screams, ludicrously fast blasts, heavy heavy down tuned riffs, there is absolutely nothing to not like here.

11. Cloud Rat - "Moksha"

When this came out, I was positive it was going to be my album of the year, While obviously, a few records have surpassed it, "Moksha" stands as Cloud Rat's best work yet, and is a landmark for grindcore this year. It's as ferocious as it is vulnerable, lyrically painting images of abuse, drugs, depression, and melancholy. It's a intense listen in many ways, and on a side note, these guys successfully pulled off a Neil Young cover. How cool is that?!

10. James Blake - "Overgrown"

I'm gonna guess not a lot of you know who James Blake is. Well, chances are most of you probably won't hold interest after I tell you. In a nutshell, James Blake is a beautiful man who makes beautiful music. This is a soulful, down-tempo, minimal and gorgeous electronic-music based record. Not something that sounds that nifty to most grindheads, I know. It's an album that just hits me right in that sweet spot I have for beautiful melodies and happy/sad lyrics. Some of my favorite songs of the year are on this album, such as the titled track and "To The Last". Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous music, I think it's worth your time.

9. Suffering Mind - everything

I'm going to be cheating a bit with a couple of these inclusions. 2013 was a huge year for Suffering Mind, and they put out some incredible splits, and keep spilling the beans about new splits to come. These splits with Massgrave, Six Brew Bantha, Water Torture and Dead Church we are choice additions to anyone's record collection this year. Suffering Mind just can not write a bad song, and every time I threw on one of their new records, I was satisfied. Can't forget the other bands though, crushing stuff from every one of them; my favorite Massgrave stuff by far, some of the sharpest songs SBBB have written (more of them later), torturous sludge from Water Torture, and an under-one-minute epic from Dead Church.

8. Full Of Hell - "Rudiments Of Mutilation"

This record rocked my goddamn mind when it was first unleashed onto the world. I haven't heard hardcore sound so evil or straight up as metal as on this new Full Of Hell record. The first four tracks alone are some of the most perfect and intense moments of music I've heard all year. With the raw power electronics in the opener "
Dichotomy", the swamp monster sludge chugs of "Vessel Deserted", and the complete fury of "Throbbing Lung Fiber". The B-side might not match the urgent intensity of the first half , to me, but this is still one of the most interesting hardcore records to come out all year. And seeing them at MDF kinda sorta solidified their vocalist as my favorite frontman.

7. Rectal Hygienics - "Even The Flies Won't Touch You" 

Representing Chicago on this list once again with the lucky number 7 pick! I'm counting the vinyl re-issue of this previously cassette-only album, I'd say it's valid. "Even The Flies Won't Touch You" is nothing but pure sleaze and perverted filth (what is it about Chicago that makes bands like this?). It's a
lyrical document of a madman, a complete sociopath, it's music that your vanilla PC friends will not like, and probably shun you for listening to it. Knuckle-draggingly simple, sludgy, noise drenched heroin rock. If you dig bands like Brainbombs, or even get a kick out of Anal Cunt, dive into this mess.

6. Sex Prisoner - "State Property E.P."

What an outstanding comeback year for Sex Prisoner! The fantastic 3-way split with ACxDC and Magnum Force (honorable mention) made their presence know again, but their stand alone 7" EP, State Property" put them over the edge. Deadly, tough, brutish powerviolence, the kind of stuff that makes any mosh pit an ignorant warzone. Sex Prisoner make every single second of this 7" a beat down, it's the heaviest powerviolence record I've heard all year. Some of my favorite vocals too. Can't wait to hear their new 12" from A389 next year, congrats guys!

5. Agents Of Abhorrence - "Relief"

Sadly, I never came around to giving this album a proper review on the blog. Somewhat regrettable, as this was one of my most anticipated records of the year. Agents Of Abhorrence have a solid spot as one of my my top five grind bands ever, and the anticipation of hearing their new full length was eating my alive. The wait, was to my Relief(hur hur), well worth the wait. This record is a fucking wrecking ball, some of the best grindcore I've heard out of Australia, and definitely some of the best stuff the band has ever done. This is their "brutal record", the guitar tone has never been more beefy or distorted, and the addition of Roskopp's Jacob Winkler to the band was the perfect touch to making "Relief" the great album that it is. Losing Grants vocals was a big loss for me, his pipes were a huge part of AoA's sound to me, so I was initially worried to hear what a new vocalist would bring to the band, and I'm happy to say that Jacob does not disappoint. The much more growly vocals definitely match the new sound AoA were going for, something that I don't see Grant doing quite as well, honestly. "Relief" only proves that Agents Of Abhorrence are one of grindcore's best kept secrets.

4. Water Torture/Six Brew Bantha - Split 7"

Water Torture released a lot of stuff this year, and don't seem to be stopping any time soon as hints and whispers of their upcoming releases keep popping up. By far the best stuff the Buffalo boys put out this year was their split 7" with Six Brew Bantha. For one, this is the first and probably only recording of them with a guitar player, and it's a fantastic change of sound for this record. It's kind of got an Infest meets Amphetamine Reptile noise rock thing going on. Kind of different, I dig it a lot. Certainly wouldn't be opposed to them doing this kind of thing again. Six Brew Bantha's side is straight up brilliant, it's by far my favorite stuff from them. Incredible riff after incredible riff with maniac drumming and vocals. Listening to this at max volume will not only destroy your speakers, it might cause everyone in your household to devour each other. Mandatory!

3. Abuse. - "S/T" LP & "A New Low" 7" (tie)

RIP powerviolence 2013, Abuse. killed everyone in the game this year. This is a band that doesn't

come around every day folks. This band, this new band mind you, broke out of the ether of the cosmos, crash landed to earth, and made the two best powerviolence records of the year. I just couldn't pick which one is better, they both wreck my everything in equal amounts. The 7" had a much rawer sound, more gritty and nasty. It had the same spirit as the classic No Comment and Crossed Out records that we know and love, but still managed to sound fresh, new and exciting. It's a perfect EP, powerviolence 101. Their LP however, shows the band with a brighter, much more modern and professional sound. And it doesn't take away a shred of their intensity, in fact it may have added some. Abuse. on the LP sound more urgent, adding a little more for a modern powerviolence sound. Some faster blasts, heavier breakdowns, more metallic guitars, the works. Both are incredible records, and are not to be missed. I mean it.

2. Deafheaven - "Sunbather"

I just know that a large chuck of you are going to look at this album's inclusion on this list a let out a loud, verbal "pshht" that I could let such a praised, insanely hyped record such as "Sunbather" come in as my 2nd favorite album of the year. And honestly, I mean this, if you can't find even one thing to like about this record, then I'm very sorry, because this album is amazing. Believe all the hype, this record is a masterwork. Some people call it metal gaze, post-black metal, some call it hipster bullshit. At the end of the day, I just say "Sunbather" is good music. Beautiful music in fact, a perfect balance of metallic intensity and energy with gorgeous, uplifting chord progressions and melodies. All together, this band creates a lush, colorful and impeccably passionate soundscape of reverby trembelo picked guitars riffs and blast beats, and some of my favorite songs of the year. "Dream House" is a monster opener, probably the best track on the album, which is maybe the only fault I can give it for starting with their strongest track. It's a very small one though, as it ends with the almost as amazing 'The Pecan Tree". I can't think of a record that's crossed over and reached so many different people in so many different scenes. I know grind fans, indie fans, metal fans, noise fans, you name it fans who all like this record. Just incredible. I know that this will definitely be a record that I'll talk about very fondly off in the years to come, and of the experiences that I've had and the people I've gotten to know with it's accompaniment.

1. D.O.C/Triac - Split 12"

At the end of the day, there can only be one. One record that stands above the rest as VII's favorite release of 2013. And with out one shred of doubt it my, the split 12" between Washington DC's
Disciples of Christ and Baltimore's Triac is that record. Grindcore just didn't get any meaner or nastier then this split, it was not even close to being matched. Keep in mind, this split came out way earlier in the year, so I've been saying this for a minute now. This is the record that all other records had to beat for me. Some same close, at time others may have even surpassed it, but it always came out on top at the end of the day. D.O.C.'s side is absolutely disgusting and earth shattering, it's still a chaotic mess every time I listen to it. And Triac bring their best stuff ever! Slick, loud, punishing, over the top grindcore perfection. You put it on and the swords come out, the ground splits, and the we all take a collective bow towards this magnum opus.

RIP 2013.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

RIP Obacha

One last endless bummer for 2013, or maybe technically the first one for 2014. Either way, it's a doosy of a loss. The mighty Obacha, Canadian fastcore masters, have decided to officially call it quits early January after two final shows, the last one being in their home turf of Squamish. If you've been paying super close attention to the Canadian scene's, you must have at some point had your brain balls blown by the steak-knife-hurricane fastcore that Obacha put on record.
(Obacha at Fastcore Fest 4)

Obacha (pronounced "ah-bah-cha") is I band I was introduced to a few years back with their 2010 demo tape. Back then then were a 4-piece, and the demo was an incredibly solid powerviolence release with some heavy Backslider influence. A style that they kept with their 2011 split 7" with Stillbirth. Constant riff and tempo-changing hardcore with tons of fun grooves fleshing everything out. Eventually, they lost a member in their drummer. Their vocalist, Graham, then moved to doing drums and vocals, and they progressed as a trio (see their first show with this line-up here). Obacha v.2 put out a disgustingly good demo tape in 2012, their heaviest, bassiest and most blown out recording ever, and one of my personal favorites. As they progressed as a trio, they became a bit of a different beast, maturing into much more of a spastic fastcore band a'la Dead Radical and xBrainiax. The songs got shorter, the songwriting more technical and inventive, and the resulting splits with Chetwrecker, Slave, and Fast Friends are some of the most frantic, and exhilarating fastcore recordings I've heard come out of Canada. 

If I was to ever make a list of my top Canadian bands, Obacha would definitely be near the top. Every release they put out has been incredible, and I hold on to the ones I have like precious gems. And if you have not heard this band, and are still reading this and have not yet been convinced of their awesomeness, let me play the role of the Convenience Fairy and put all of their jams down at the bottom. Learn up, better late then never!  


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Some Recent Noteworthy Splits

2013 is very quickly wrapping up, and yours truly is scrambling trying to get together an end of the year list. Truly, this is not an easy feat. 2013 has been a gargantuanly good year for grindy violent music, and more so then any year prior, choosing one release over the other is a hard task (though I do have a pretty firm idea what my #1 record is). To start wrapping things up, here's a couple brief reviews of some recent splits that I feel are worth checking out. If you're still working on your own year end lists, here's a couple more you might want to consider.

Suffering Mind/Six Brew Bantha - Split 7"
(all photo's by VII)

Suffering Mind are no stranger to praise on this blog. The Polish grind Gods are seemingly in a perpetual state of constant writing and recording, and have proven record after record that they are not a force to be ignored. Halo Of Flies brings us their pairing with Six Brew Bantha, one of Canada's best. Suffering Mind's side is a constant shredder of solid grindcore perfection, throwing in some serious headbanger grooves, and ends with a fucking Zardoz sample (personal highlight). SBB just get better and better every record. Each song on here is like a mini-grind epic, throwing out riff after riff like they're ninja stars at every chet who can't handle the blast. And they still have the best snare tone in grind. 100 were pressed on white and red (I'm a fanboy and own both), with a remaining 500 on black. 

Archagathus/No Thought - Split 7"

I think Archagathus had almost 20 records released this year, at least. It's getting quite difficult to keep up with this band, who are quickly becoming a personal favorite. Everytime I get one of their illusive, over-the-border records, I hear of about 5 more that are coming out. Can't stop the mince. Here's a beauty of a 7" split they did with No Thought from Denver, CO. Released by Uranium Overdose Records. Two re-recordings of some more obscure Arch songs. Great stuff, their recordings are always a ton of fun. No Thought play a disgusting, brutal, deathy grind style that I fell in love with instantly. Anyone who's into bands like Goner, Nak'ay, Insect Warfare and Pizza Hi Five are in for a treat. Beautiful looking vinyl too. Hand-numbered out of 525 copies.

Archagathus/Nak'ay - Split 10"

I could not wait to get my mitts on this guarenteed-to-be-awesome split when I first heard about it. It's announcement caught me completely by surprise, and I scoured the internets looking for anyone who had a copy, until the always excellent Diseased Audio ended my quest and supplied with this crucial fix of raw grindage. This being Archagathus's first 10" split, I was even more excited. Nak'ay are a band that are just too good at what they do. They play brutal grind, and they do it exceptionally well. The blasting just does not stop! Definitely a band I can't wait to hear more from. Archagathus dish out some raw, metallic mince, and I believe most of these are new songs (as a brief look on Discogs tells me). Fortunatley this record is more widely available now, and you can pick it up from Haunted Hotel Records, Grindfather Productions, Witch Bukkake Records, and many more.

Suffering Mind/Water Torture - Split 7" Flexi

The next split was released by Mannequin Rein Recordings, and highlights two of the undergrounds best. On here we got the previously mentioned Suffering Mind, and Buffalo's heaviest, Water Torture. Originally this was going to be a 5", but ya know, those cost 12 arms and 32 legs to make, so we have a killer 1-sided flexi! This is my personal white copy.  One song from each band, as is the usual formula with the planned SM's 5" splits. One 2+ minute slow dirge-ala-Noothgrush from WT, which has some of the most wretched vocals the band has recorded yet. Suffering Mind give us an almost 2 minute super blaster that has some excellent stops-starts and some crushing chugged chords. A pretty good introduction to each band I'd say.

Suffering Mind/Dead Church - Split 5"
More Suffering Mind, this time with an actual 5" record split with Dead Church, released by 7Degrees Records. One song from each band, and woah man do both pack a punch. Dead Church are on full berzerker mode on this track, going from 0 to 150 right from the start. It's a loud, fast, and incredibly solid punch to the nose. My favorite from the band so far. Suffering Mind's song is great, don't think I should have to tell you at this point. The whole split is less than 2 minutes, but it's a great listen the whole way through. And every copy comes on beautiful blue wax, and has gatefold digi-pack packaging. Quality stuff.

Ultra//Negative / Ira Graves - Split 7"

Lastly is a devastating split from two bands that are definitely due for some attention. Ultra//Negative, a band that I've had interest in for a couple years, but rarely find updates from, were kind enough to supply me with this record, many thanks guys! U//N are a bassy, sludgy, kinda spazzy powerviolence band. Like if Charles Bronson smoked a lot of weed, found sludge music, and de-tuned their instruments 2-whole steps. Ira Graves are a band I hadn't checked out previously, but I'm a definite fan now! Powerviolence with a bit more standard Infest/Crossed Out influence, with a little Vaccine thrown in their and some death growls thrown in mixed with throat ripping screams. Buy it!


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Faction Disaster/Dead Church - Split Review

A grisly split has risen from the epic grindblocks of the midwest. A double helping of two the the areas gruffest and burliest newcomers, both coming out Michigan actually. The midwest rust seems to be
relentless in it's output of good music, and here you'll get to see one of my favorites in top form. The mighty Faction Disaster, making their 7" debut, bring 3 tracks of brutal mincecore, the kind that should definitely appeal to people who like their pizza's with a hi-five (ha). By far their best recorded stuff so far, the guys make quite a soupy noise with a heaping helping of beefy, crushing, concrete smashing riffs. It's the kind of grind that I just love to hear, and bands like Faction Disaster know how to do it well. Brutal grind with a bunch of fun grooves and circle pit inducing blasts. On the flip we have Dead Church, a newish band that from day one has showcased nothing but quality grindage. I've been incredibly impressed by how much this band has been able to do in such a short time. As with their previous efforts, everything here is well recorded, raw, intense, and hardcore. Razor sharp grindcore with a bit of a Swede-grind influence, and a more "tough metallic hardcore" sounding vocalist, which gives them a bit of a different sound I suppose. I always picture a low-to-high screams vocalist for this kind of grind. Four tracks of excellent modern grindcore that showcase only the beginning of what this band has in store. Quality split, and all done DIY, released on DC's guitarists label, Mannequin Rein Recordings.

Rating: 8.5/10


New Internal Rot Tracks!

I can remember very vividly recently thinking to myself, "whatever happened to Internal Rot?". An often times overlooked band when talking about Australian grind/violence, they only released one solitary 7" EP on 625 Thrashcore, and then seemed to just drop out of sight. That record showcased some of the best, no bullshit, Insect Warfare-inspired grindcore the country had to offer. Sharing a member of Agents Of Abhorrence sure sweetens the deal too. Well as luck would have it, a random peruse through bandcamp has enlightened me with brand new Internal Rot tracks, slated for release sometime in early 2014. Two new studio tracks, and a live Excruciating Terror cover. The new tracks rip, no surprise there. Insect Warefare and Wormrot fans should be gushing over these new tracks, I know I am. Can't wait to see a physical release for these, and hear what else the dude's have been cooking up. Check out the new tracks below.