Friday, November 20, 2009

Morbid Saint "Spectrum of Death" [1988]

Morbid Saint // "Spectrum of Death" // Avanzada Metallica // 1988

Following the grand tradition of ripped-jean wearing Morbid Noun metal bands, Morbid Saint are a gem of 80's hesher history. Although the band considered themselves as more "death metal" -- their sonic imprint is decidedly thrash-oriented. Wailing dissonant riffs backed by full speed attacks, pounding drums, and what sounds like a man without a throat on vocals.

Morbid Saint began in 1986 within the seething metal metropolis of Sheboygan, WI (lol?). The material featured here began life as a demo entitled "Lock Up Your Children" released as a cassette and limited to something like 200 copies. It was released in either '87 or '88 and the image above was the cover art for that demo. Quickly sold out, producer Eric Greif re-released the material on his Edge Records. 1988 saw the album's proper release on LP format by Mexican label Avanzada Metallica featuring new artwork (below) and the alternate title "Spectrum of Death."

Roughly around the same time Morbid Saint began their friendship with Florida-based Death. Chuck Schuldiner, vocalist for Death, took on the position as manager. It was here that we saw the vast string of shows and tours that would feature both bands and where the Sheboygan boys would begin seeing more and more acclaim and exposure come their way.

1989 would stand as the band's biggest year. Their first album would see itself released once again, and they would be playing countless more (and bigger) shows. However, in 1990, shortly after their "biggest" show to date (Metal Fest III), they would call it quits.

Eventually though, the call to metal would return -- albeit without bassist Tony Paletti. This is the part that gets a bit bizarre. By 1992 Morbid Saint would have a follow-up album ready entitled "Destruction System." This release would remain extremely elusive though. I am of the understanding that a fan-version is out there in extremely limited numbers that the band released via their fanzine/newsletter, but it's difficult to get any hard confirmation on this.

In 2005, Keltic Records prepared to finally unleash the album in a set with the original "Spectrum of Death." Apparently acquiring permission from Avanzada for the latter, but with no known permission for the former. This would end in conflict however, as Avanzada owned no rights to the "Spectrum of Death" material and the label had no contact with anyone related to the band itself. Inevitably, once released and discovered, Keltic was contacted by Greif on behalf of the band and was forced to liquidate reserves. Since Keltic only pressed 500 copies, this makes the release absurdly limited, and with no projected official release of the material in sight.

For now, this all we really have. Officially anyway.

Last year however, "Spectrum of Death" was reissued by Power Play Records featuring remastered tracks and restored artwork from the original release (not the weird Eddie-like artwork featured on the Grindcore release). Perhaps a revamped "Destruction System" is planned somewhere in future?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Carcinogen "Kure" [1992]

Carcinogen // "Kure" // Life Is Abuse // 1992

Very similar to the band they would soon become, Carcinogen's demo is raw, nihilistic, and malformed. Pure hatred expressed through metallic crusty hardcore. Formed in 1990 by future-Dystopians Todd Keisling and Dino Sommese (plus a third member whom I don't know), Carcinogen built the foundation for the Life Is Abuse method and ethos.

Carcinogen and Dystopia are somewhat hard to pigeonhole into an exact sub-genre. In a sense, they are their own beast entirely. All you can really do is cite the chemical makeup. They're the more brutal and evil sides of metal, but with the approach of punk and hardcore. You get the slow and heavy, the weird array of effects-laden instrumentals, and angry bursts of blast beat hardcore. Typically when we see such a massively appreciated band (at least in their own niche/realm) a massive bombardment of copycats follow. I don't think I've ever really said "Wow, this band sounds a lot like Dystopia." Well, aside from Carcinogen, but that doesn't count...and really I guess Dystopia sounds like Carcinogen rather than vice versa.

I would like to point out one track here, and I basically just want to mention this because it made me laugh. It's track #6: "Reconcile." The song opens up with a heavy phaser-induced riff leading into a black metal croon. Get ready for it. Once the song starts to pick up speed and prepare for the first verse you'll hear one of most diseased black metal ewwwwwwwoooowwwww's ever. It's one of those moments that's just so absurd yet perfect you can't help but laugh.

That's it. Love Earth, hate people. Do drugs, sound evil.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Jerusalem "Jerusalem" [1972]

Jerusalem // "Jerusalem" // Deram // 1972

Jerusalem were another one of those bands to suddenly appear, record a single amazing LP, and then promptly fall off the face of the Earth. Forged in the very early 1970s by 5 British teens, Jerusalem produced some of the best heavy rock of the era. Typically caste as a "proto-metal" band, their music is a mix between the darker side of British rock, and the charged up fury of the burgeoning Detroit scene. As a result, their sonic influence can be equally felt within the progressive and punk rock camps as well.

As a whole, the album is part straight, raw and raunchy, rock and roll -- backed by moments of heavy Sabbath-esque gloom and doom blues. Youthful and uninitiated. Heavier than most and wonderfully dissonant.

If there's still any doubt of this band's metal-potential, let it not be forgotten that prior to becoming Jerusalem the original band name was to be Iron Maiden. You heard me. Somewhere, in some alternate What If? universe, your beloved Eddie is out there representing a band possibly named after another famously gruesome device of torture.

Yeah, something like that.

Not to mention, it was bass player Paul Dean whom introduced manager/producer Ian Gillan (Deep Purple) to the glory of Black Sabbath...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Hello Shitty People "Hello Shitty People" [199?]

Hello Shitty People "Hello Shitty People" // This Here Records // 199?

This record is a bit perplexing, but only because I can't date it. I should first say that I never saw this band, and know next to nothing about them -- I picked this 7" up at a bizarro show in Asheville, NC. I believe the bands featured were Operation: Cliff Clavin, This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb, David Dondero, and ADD/C. There may have been more -- who knows with punk shows and a decade of confusion. At this point I can't even remember what year it happened. I only know that I had a good time and had an almost equally interesting time arriving at my destination.

Regardless, the first three were Plan It X bands, which all sold Plan It X related material. The last band was a Chattanooga based punk band, and that's where I originally acquired this gem. All that I know is that Hello Shitty People were from Chattanooga, this 7" was put out by Chattanooga-based This Here Records, and that it slays. If anyone else has more information that would be awesome, and I'd urge you to comment.

As far as the "hits" go, my favorite song on side A has always been "Marketable Melancholy" -- and my favorite song on side B has always been the Funyons cover "I Kill Butterflies." Regardless of that fact, if you're a fan of raw punk, Busch beer, and bats carrying said beer -- you should definitely check this EP out.


Although this EP is no longer available, 1-2-3-4 Go!! has recently released the forever hidden LP.

Death "For The Whole World To See" [2009]

Death "For The Whole World To See" // Drag City // 1974~2009

As most others in the hesher world, I was a bit surprised when I heard this band for the first time. Immediately infectious and quintessentially punk, but the name -- well, obviously an all-black power trio from Detroit that plays absolutely amazing punk rock, well that's not the first thing that comes to mind when I hear the band name "Death."

...but it should be. The recordings included here were originally collected around (roughly) 1974 by the three-piece Hackney brothers. The story of Death is nearly as entrancing as the music. Lost in obscurity for over 30 years, it was only until 2009 that their LP ever saw the light of day. So the story goes, the surviving Hackney members had no idea of the actual impact they had upon the later punk movement. All they had ever told their combined 10 children was that they "were in a rock band during the 1970's." One day while at a party (which should be noted: was on the other side of the country), bass player Bobby's son heard a 7" that changed his life -- one that contained his father's vocals. Through further research (and an undoubtedly interesting family conversation), Bobby Jr. discovered that his father was indeed the bass player and vocalist for the ever-cult Death from Detroit.

This situation eventually led to the discovery of an old collection of reel-to-reel tapes that contained the masterpiece featured here, prompted primarily by the motivation of Bobby Jr. and a somewhat obscure discovery by some of Drag City's finer seekers.

This is a record that features the ever-present ever-impressive sound of superchaged Detroit rock-n-roll during the late 1960's and early 1970's, yet combines the absolute fury to follow with the punk rock movement of the later 70's and early 80's. A true missing link, and this isn't nearly the whole story...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Zipper "Zipper" [1975]

Zipper "Zipper" // Whizeagle Records // 1975

Formed in 1973 by ex-Weeds frontman Fred Cole, Zipper was the frustrated response to years of disappointment felt within the recording industry. Unable to secure a new contract, a disenchanted Cole relocated to Portland, OR. It was here that he began to take charge of his career. He opened a music store, and soon found himself with a new band. Tired of his previous trials, Zipper's eponymous debut was self-released on Cole and wife Toody's new label, Whizeagle. Sadly, this was their only album.

Somewhat less raw than Dead Moon, with a bit more of a funky nature. Not to be missed. Seriously. "Bullets" kills.


Re-issued in 2003 by Music Maniac (Germany). CD version still available.