Sunday, June 21, 2015

ALBUM REVIEW: Coffins- "Perpetual Penance" (Compilation)

Firstly, as the title of the post suggests, this is a compilation of previously released Coffins material. Mostly this consists of vinyl splits.

The first 100 orders for the 2 CD album also came with a free coffin keychain, though it contains no logos or indicators of the band (in fact appears to be a bulk ordered trinket item) it is still pretty cool. It'll be even cooler when I figure out what I'm going to put in it; it's hollow and has a pop out spoon thing that appears to be for snuff (or coke?). 

Right, so content time. What songs are on this compilation? This is the first collection to include any of the following tracks together:

1-3 from "Colossal Hole" demo cassette. These are early versions of tracks on "Fleshland" which were later re-issued on a 10" vinyl with barf bag and fake tickets by HPGD. My copy got signed by Coffins at MDF 2013!

4-5 from split with Noothgrush which was available on vinyl and CD

6 from July 2012 issue of Decibel magazine, released as a flexi 7"

7 from split with Macabra 7" vinyl. HPGD released this also with a cool pin and poster set. Very limited quantities, good luck finding the original press!

8 from split with Sourvein, which I got signed at MDF 2013. In an interesting turn of fate, Sourvein played before Coffins on the same stage, same night. It was like watching the split live!

1 from split with Warhammer

2 from split with Disgrace

3 from split with Hooded Menace

4-5 from split with Stormcrow

6-7 from "Live in Japan 2013"

8 is another live track, from Czech Republic in 2013. I don't believe this track was previously released.

Overall, a great compilation, there's some excellent tracks here, my favorite being the demo version of "Hellbringer." The artwork is really cool and a lot of these tracks are hard to find individually, not to mention this compilation collects 10+ releases! If you're not looking for the tracks from the other artists on the splits, this is a very economic way to get the Coffins tracks without extensive costs and time lost tracking them down and purchasing them separately.

At least this will hold me over until I start frothing at the mouth, rabid for more Coffins material!

*Review and photos copyright The Samnambulist, 2015*

ALBUM REVIEW: Destroyer 666 "Unchain The Wolves" 2015 Vinyl Re-Issue on Hells Headbangers

This new edition offers slightly different artwork in a drawing of a wolf opposed to the classic photo of a wolf on the original release. I personally prefer the photo, but this looks pretty cool. The blue colored vinyl helps add atmosphere to the packaging as well, though the focus on cold and snow for an Australian band always seemed head-scratchingly opposite to me. The photos are all high gloss and the liner notes detailing the writing process of the album and the band's early days are also value-adders that make this release worth picking up. Not to mention the huge poster of the cover art!

Anyway, the sound quality is good but quiet so you'll have to crank this beast for maximum head-banging effect. The mix sound like a cleaner version of CD mixes I've heard in that the instruments don't all sound blurred together cacophonously (or is that ca-coffin-ously?), however the guitar blasts through super-filthy and loud in comparison to the rest of the mix. That is perhaps my favorite thing about this version, the guitar sound. Totally dirty and rockin' blackness!

*Review and photos copyright The Samnambulist, 2015*

Monday, June 15, 2015

ALBUM REVIEW: Demoliton Hammer "Tortured Existence" and "Epidemic Of Violence" Century Media Vinyl Re-Issues

Comparable to the Asphyx re-issue, these Demolition Hammer vinyl re-issues are high-quality in the packaging department with surgically separated tracks within each song to deliver maximum fidelity to its brutality. Much like .44 caliber brain surgery in fact. The songs sound here sharper and more precise, better able to snap your neck. The color options are quite nice as well, adding value to these editions. If you don't already own them, now's your chance to get some classicks! Pick them both up and you're set for an envenomed orgy of destruction!!

*Review and photo copyright The Samnambulist, 2015*

ALBUM REVIEW: Asphyx "The Rack" Century Media Vinyl Re-Issue

A classic album on a classic format! The packaging is quite nice, with the clear vinyl feeling quite deluxe, leaving my barbarian hands trembling with the glorious gem held aloft, then plunged violently onto the rack... er, record player.
At least, my listening to this re-issue was a BIT like that. So what about sound quality? Quite good! The guitar stays forefront but all the tracks on each song are clear and well-balanced. I was at first somewhat displeased that it wasn't all soupy guitar and vocal bark, but hearing the bass shine through was quite nice. Mind you, none of the dirt has been removed, only separated and cataloged, so you can place each pile into its respective grave.
Keep up the high-quality re-issues Century Media!

*Review and photo copyright The Samnambulist, 2015*

ALBUM REVIEW: Velvet Acid Christ- "Dire Land" (Remix Album)

So VAC dropped a 'remix album' of material from the Maldire and Subconscious Landscapes albums, which were tumultuous sessions for those who obsessively followed updates from the band's website and forum during the production of these albums (like I did). I know I'm excited to hear what's on this disc as a great deal of talk of very dancey/trancey stuff and/or alternate song versions was dropped while the aforementioned albums were in production. I feel and hope that this disc will close the chapter of this period of VAC's long and entertaining career, paving the way for a new chapter to open.

The album also documents Bryan of VAC's encounter and time with Rodney Anonymous of the Dead Milkmen with VAC's cover of "Big Time Operator" and a newly recorded version of "Lust" from the Lust For Blood album, now featuring Rodney on vocals. Having had the pleasure of seeing these performed live, I was excited to hear the album versions and relive some great memories.

The artwork is a continuation of that used for 2014's Subconscious Landscapes, with some more detailed and recognizable patterns (as in the front and back cover), as well as some more trippy and colorful abstract landscapes (as in the tray and CD artwork).

This album, according to the liner notes, is to compensate for the lack of singles from the Maldire and Subconscious Landscapes albums. Additionally, it states in print what Bryan has been discussing online, that this may be the last VAC release with a physical copy. Going forward, VAC may be a digital-format-only project. This would sadden me, as I like physical copies, especially after the excellent sound on VAC's first vinyl release, Subconscious Landscapes. This 'remix' album is more a snapshot of the last few years in the VACcuum world, including songs from the live sets of VAC's return to the stage. So, now for a song breakdown:
1. Christ Whore (God Module Mix)- [original version on Maldire] a different, clubbier version is presented here. While the original version has much wetter leads, this version has snappier ones with trance tinges in the mix instead of the somewhat gothic choral voices. The vocal delivery is stronger in the original but the echo in this version backs up the trancey feeling. A different version neither better nor worse than the original, to my ears.
2. Eye H8 U (Decoded Feedback Mix)- [original version on Subconscious Landscapes] this version ups the toybox qualities of the leads, stretched over a dancier bass line that makes me want to move. The original is much darker with some evil choral voices alternating with the toybox leads that feel more eerie in the original, more tender here. I prefer the original but this is a cool take!
3. Inhale Blood (Dead Hand Project Mix)- [original version on Maldire] with a bassline already set for heavy dancing, this track only needed a slight re-arrangement and accentation to make it a nasty club hit. This mix however took a different route than I would've, making a very different version from the original, with the remaining recognizable bits exact ports from the original. Amusing as an alternate version, I still much prefer the album version.
4. Big Time Operator (Featuring Rodney Anonymous) (Dead Milkmen cover)- a cover featuring the Dead Milkmen's vocalist, Rodney Anonymous, singing over VAC's interpretation. This is the result of a chance meeting (of the minds, haha) between Bryan of VAC and Rodney of DM at a show, in which Bryan got to sing on stage with the 'Milkmen. Played live during the 2014 NYC show with Rodney himself present for this an the next track on this remix album. This version is very fun, even more-so than the original as it now has some really dancey beats.
5. Lust (Anonymous Mix)- [original version on Lust For Blood] a newly recorded version featuring Rodney Anonymous again on vocals. The guitar has more reverb on it here, and the other instruments are clearly re-recorded, with essentially the same song arrangement. I do miss the left-to-right distorted vocal shift though. As this is one of my favorite tracks from one of my favorite VAC albums, you can trust my ears to be critical. That stated, this version is awesome! It puts me right back in the front row at the VAC show as Rodney screamed into my face. This version is practically worth the price of the album.
6. Sex Disease (2014 Mix)- [original versions on Neuroblastoma demo, Church of Acid, and Between The Eyes Volume 4] This version is much cleaner, with the leads much more audible. It's slightly shorter but similar in arrangement. I prefer the dirtier, sadder, earlier versions, but this one's good too. Hopefully inclusion of this track with heighten interest in the VAC back-catalog. The production is similar to that of Maldire, I'm guessing it's likely that the same equipment was used to record this version.
7. Dire (Disease Factory ov VAC Mix)- [original version on Subconscious Landscapes] I was pretty excited for this version as it was Bryan remixing one of his own songs, which normally has great results, but is especially interesting as the songs on Maldire and Subconscious Landscapes underwent many changes to fit with the developing tone of each album. The Art Of Breaking Apart album was beautifully unbalanced, but the following two albums took a much more cohesive approach to song writing and I know that songs were shifted for earlier or later release based on emotional impact. Anyway, this version is musically very similar to the album version, musically, with some extra glitchy fills and very heavy sampling. An interesting version, but I prefer the original as its emotional tone rings out more clearly with less bells and whistles.
8. Even Now (Slightly Tweaked Mix) (Edward Ka-Spel cover)- [from Dependence 2012 label compilation] This rare song is included here for those who didn't buy the compilation. An interesting cover, this feels like it could be an upbeat VAC track (rare as they are). The electronics are lush and enjoyable. Bryan wisely keeps the vocal delivery to his own range (though clearly challenging himself), keeping something of the feel of Edward Ka-Spel without aping (as this would be exceptionally difficult anyway). It's very cool to finally own this track!
9. Klaglas- [unreleased] again viewing this album as a snapshot of VAC's last few years, a chapter closing and a chapter opening, perhaps, I was very excited to hear an unreleased track. Reportedly many 'good' tracks were dropped from Maldire and Subconscious Landscapes due to ill-fits with the album vibe. This track is an instrumental. It's brooding and catchy, I really dig it as chill out music, but agree that it would have needed extensive reworking to fit in on either of the last albums, albeit maybe as a closer on Subconscious Landscapes (though Empusa's dark samples and depressive, almost pleading synth lines go a great job already!).
10. Bend The Sky (Dead When I Found Her Mix)- [original version on Maldire] I really like this remix, it takes the themes from the original adds expands upon them creating a world much more deep and epic. The overall effect is of some super-mix from Calling Ov The Dead and Lust For Blood; very eerie, very dark. A strong contender for best remix on the album!
11. Barbed Wired Garden (Assemblage 23 Mix)- [original version on Subconscious Landscapes] As Assemblage 23 have some really catchy, melancholic songs, as well as some really great remixes, this was one song I was really hyper (cursed) over! The remix starts out quite slow, adding a dull, lulling edge to the song. About halfway through, it picks up a bit but the overall pacing is on the subdued side. A good remix but I expected something catchier from A23.
12. Dystvonya- [unreleased] another previously unreleased track, likely not deemed appropriate for album inclusion for tonal reasons. Like Klaglas, Dystvonya is a great track but alas would not have fit on either of the last two albums. A severe piano lead gives way to some beautiful choral voices with overlays of anti-carnivore samples. There are some trippy acid synths in there too, making this a fairly complete VAC track, also sounding much older than it is, say from Calling Ov The Dead. This vibe only increases as the song progresses. Dark, trippy, hateful, with tender overlays might be the best descriptors. Again, somewhat of a slow-burn but the transitions keep it interesting. I'm very glad to have heard this song, it's quite good!
13. The Last Goodby (Controlled Collapse Mix) [original version on Subconscious Landscapes] while the original sounds very much like a leftover from the Hex Angel album in synth voice choice, arrangement, and emotional tone, this mix is quite different. The feeling that immediately comes to mind is post-2000 Front Line Assembly covering Pornography-era The Cure. This is the only other song to hold up against the Bend The Sky remix!

Missed opportunities/ideas for further remixes
So here's some ideas that I have formulated (in my own egotistical way) for future remixes. I won't hold my breath for an Agoraphobic Nosebleed remix, so these are some more realistic ideas:
1. Evoked (:Wumpscut: Mix)- this one should be pretty obvious. I mean, Bryan and Rudy go way back, :W: is a labelmate and already has a whole album called Evoke. Maybe another Remix War album should be in the works around this concept?
2. Hyper Curse (Hyper Mix)- a gabber remix of this should be a thing. The title demands it!
3. Ominous Rattle (Toxic Coma Mix)- as much as I love the title's inherent conjuration of the sounds of those dying and those approaching death, instead of making some eerie mix filled with Latin incantations and TB coughing samples, I submit for your approval a totally different path: babies crying and a toy rattle sample with diaper-wet leads and fart sounds.
4. a Tangerine Dream cover. This would be a great way to add some creepiness and danceyness to a classic while getting to really run some electronics through their paces. Mysterious Semblance At The Strand Of Nightmares would be awesome tripped out, VAC style.
5. a Depeche Mode cover. Though many come to mind, Black Celebration seems the most suited to VAC for its sad vocal delivery. I'd love to hear a Sadder Still-type version of this!

*Review and photos copyright The Samnambulist, 2015*

Saturday, June 13, 2015

ALBUM REVIEW: Twist Ending "Musica di Morte" 2014 Demo (2015)+Steve-O Dobbins, A Prophile of Putrescence

Ok, so right off the slab, let's get one thing straight, Twist Ending's 2014 demo was released in January 2015, so it's a 2015 release. Right, got it?

Moving on, this post is also to be a celebration of Steve-O Dobbins and his many projects, as he has been a huge influence on me musically and I can't get enough of his various projects. Perhaps I should say "creations" with the appropriate implication of some sort of hideous monster.

Firstly, let's review Twist Ending's demo, which also features Vanessa Nocera and Gregg Metzger. Cassette edition limited to 150 copies, also available as a digital download from the label's (No Visible Scars) bandcamp.

A celebration of Italian Horror films, this release is replete with samples; it takes nearly 2 minutes for the first song to actually start! Stevo's vocals are sufficiently demented, however he keeps his range limited to the middle (no super-high Crypt Keeper shrieks, no super low belches). Tormentula relies on basically one riff to carry the song forward, it's mid-paced and has one foot in 80's Heavy Metal, one in early 80's Punk Rock, and one other limb (of your choice) in the grave. Shadow in the Gallery has a much punkier, D-beat sound/style and is my favorite on the demo. It reeks of Impetigo albeit without the grind bits 'n' grits, though it does have faster parts. These are mostly tremolo-picked versions of the main riff it begins on. Evil Iris, Summoner of Misery also relies on one riff, but makes good use of the bass guitar to drag the cadaverous riff out into sunlight while it is backed by the guitar. Music of Death is a collection of samples with no Rock/Metal present. There is an underlying vibe of NWOBHM that plays with slightly faster Doom Metal on these songs as well, comparable to Witchfinder General or Angel Witch. I think this is mostly in the guitar production and repetition of riffs, with a 'twist' of it on the riffs themselves. Overall, an exciting demo! I'm eager to hear more from this group.

Stevo's pre-Impetigo band, Sgt. Rock, recently enjoyed a re-release of their 1987 demo on the same label, along with 2 rehearsals from the same year. All this on  a single cassette, limited to 150 copies! The tracks are also available as a digital download from No Visible Scar's bandcamp

This was my first introduction to Sgt. Rock, and I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed it. Early versions of My Lai and Revenge of the Scabby Man, here called My Friend Lost His Face can be heard, before their respective putrefaction in Impetigo. The quality is actually quite good all throughout, including on the rehearsals. Normally, rehearsal recordings are limited in their entertainment and replay value, but the high quality and hilarious inter-/intra-song banter make this quite fun. I felt like I was just hanging out in the corner, listening to my friends practice. There's some SOD covers (with many false starts, you'll see) and a cover of the Misfits' We Are 138.

Get your skin care kit ready, because now it's time to talk about that impish act of arcane ill-repute, Impetigo! From the moment I put on "Ultimo Mondo Cannibale" I was hooked, right through the chest! The use of a prolonged Horror movie sample into slow, guttural gurgles, followed by the brilliant disasterpiece that is Dis-Organ-Ized, opened my eyes to the possibilities of Death Metal. I had been heavily focused on the NY and FL scenes at this point, so to hear something this catchy, punky, over-the-top, and gritty was a life-changer. Impetigo's unique sound has seldom been copied and never reproduced. I could extol the effluence of grue and grime for pages unending, but Impetigo's cadaverous blend of horrific humor and pulp gore is best experienced for oneself. As a personal aside, Dear Uncle Creepy has been a rallying call for me to combat the forces of weak horror across all entertainment formats.

Now to extol the effluence of eulogies present in Church of Misery's catalog. Not to be confused with the band of the same name from Japan, USA's Church of Misery, whilst also still doomy, brings the speed to the funeral level. Sounding like a mix between Skepticism and St. Vitus (played at the wrong speed), this Steve-O project brings me down every time! Effective use of keyboards and agonizing guitar riffs draped in deathly distortion drag this album through the grave dirt and into my rotting heart chambers. Steve-O sings cleanly here and the effect is quite mournful. If you like it slow 'n' sad, this release is for you! I can't seem to get the chugging guitars and depressive, but melodic, chorus of Old Man Tree out of my head...

The final project I'd like to discuss is Tombstones, which features Wayne Sarantopoulos (AKA Elektrokutioner) of Decrepitaph, Father Befouled, Encoffination, Ghoulgotha, Howling, etc. on drums. The format is shrieked, Crypt Keeper introductions from Steve-O alternated with the actual songs (as separate tracks, so you don't have to skip ahead!). The intros are so amusing that I might like them just as much as the songs! Honestly, if Steve-O released an album of him just making creepy/funny voices, I'd buy it in a (skipped) heartbeat. The songs are deathly, with a heavy dose of Speed, almost Thrash Metal. If you're already an Impetigo fan, the fact that there's a track called Re-Organ-Ized that basically describes the surgical reverse of its companion song, the aforementioned Dis-Organ-Ized, should be enough to rouse your interest. Additionally, title track Not For The Squeamish accomplishes for Tombstones what Dear Uncle Creepy did for Impetigo.

Steve-O does have other releases/projects under his coffin lid, but all not mentioned are extremely difficult to find/hear. If you have a line on some of the Steve-O stuff, shoot me an email, I'd love to hear it!

*Review and photos copyright The Samnambulist, 2015*

Thursday, June 11, 2015

CONCERT REVIEW: Maryland Deathfest XIII, May 21st-24th, 2015 (+BONUS adventure tales)

This was my 4th year (all in a row!) attending MDF, and the fest once again proved most excellent and highly entertaining. It's a yearly ritual, of sorts; my vacation and opportunity for self-(Metal)growth and indulgent amounts of fun.

I typically bus to PA from NYC on Wednesday, hang out with some friends for a night, and depart via car for Baltimore with another friend on Thursday. This year was extra special as I had the rare pleasure of visiting with my brother, in from Wisconsin, for 6 days prior. We ate our way across NYC and Brooklyn, so my vacation had an excellent early start! Also new this year, my friend with whom I annually attend MDF brought his girlfriend. This was really cool as this was her first Deathfest and a lot of the bands were new to her. I really enjoyed her fresh perspective on the whole fest; I'm sure she got sick of my constantly asking what she thought of each act. ANYWAY, back to the show!

THURSDAY (May 21st)
We didn't go to the pre-show, however we did get to see most of Thursday's lineup, starting at the Baltimore Soundstage. Due to some traffic issues, we missed Mortal Decay and most of Origin. What we did catch of Origin was pretty tightly wound though, those guys are technical! Next up was Internal Bleeding. This was my second time seeing them (first was MDF 2012), and they upheld my expectations for a slam and cheese sandwich of heavy grooves and over-the-top vocals. There was a skilled new guitarist in the lineup; he clearly enjoyed playing with the band and got rather animated. Skinless took stage next and laid waste to the crowd. They were probably the most high-energy band of the night and the crowd gave it right back to them! Of course, it's been a few years since they last played live so I'm sure the anticipation factor contributed. I was probably most impressed by their vocalist's ability to keep up the grunts for so long! His voice weakened (but only a bit!) by the end, but after nearly an hour of straight gurgle, who's wouldn't? His energy never waned, however. At one point, all the MDF 'mascots' present were called on stage to start off some stage-diving madness. This included the ever-present ChickenMan (or is it ChickenBoo?), the HorseMan, CowMan, and a Penis. I still laugh about the last one, "and the banana too, get up here! Oh wait, you're just a dick." Alas, no  Tacos or Power Rangers this year. Devourment played next. This was my second time seeing them live, having caught them at NY Deathfest 2014. This show was even better as their guitarist insisted on a Luchador mask for most of the set.

We decided to skip the lately-added Mobb Deep and instead headed over to Ram's Head for some sludge 'n' trudge. Conan was first to take stage after we arrived, starting about 20 minutes late and pushing back the rest of the bands, which gave us time to munch on some fries and find a comfy spot. I enjoyed all the sauce options, apart from hot sauce (likely watered-down Red Hot) and the expected ketchup and yellow mustard, there was good honey mustard and decent BBQ sauces. I tried the pizza at Ram's Head also this year, both were very acceptable, and I was actually surprised by the pizza. It wasn't fantastic but much better than I expected. Of course, I bathed it in crushed red pepper and hot sauce, so that might have colored (or rather, flavored) my experience.
So, eventually, Conan took stage. They were super sludgy and were good to relax to after all the NY-style Death Metal madness from whence we exodus-ed. Ufomammut came on next and used a projector. The video accompanying the set might have been my favorite part as it was VERY trippy, but I must say that they were MUCH heavier live than I had any reason to expect and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed seeing them live. YOB closed out the first night in typical YOB fashion. This was my second time seeing them (first was MDF 2012), and as I recall this set was more diverse and solid. Of course, last time they played in the rain on a miserable Sunday, so that may have tainted my recollection...

FRIDAY (May 22)
I wanted to get to the Edison Lot early for the first full day of MDF as I was hoping to catch Funebrarum. This would be at least the third time, they always deliver so much energy, and the music is so dark and heavy!

As a warning, prepare yourself for my terrible photos, I have a dumbphone with VERY limited photo capabilities and I'm more interested in actually watching and moving to the bands than taking photos, so some are pretty horrendous. Think of them as brutal, raw, and overall very METAL. Kind of like a demo tape you got traded, the dirt is a bonus.  Apart from a killer set, the band hung out at their merch stand under the tent and were gracious enough to sign a CD for me and talk a bit. Their new guitarist shredded away too! If you are unfamiliar with Funebrarum, they take the brutality of NYDM and blend in a heavy dose of twisted darkness that separates them (by several abysses) from the pack. Highly recommended! Dave is also in Evoken (I saw fellow Evoken & Grim Legion member John Paradiso creeping about too), Daryl and Shawn are also in Disma. Check out ALL of these bands if you're a Death Metal Ghoul like me, they will all blow your coffins open!

Next up was Cianide! I've been waiting a while to see these guys, so my anticipation was high. Cianide delivered, though, with a killer set! The crowd was initially a bit slow to embrace them but by the end of the set it seemed like the whole lot was headbanging and moshing to the Metal-that-doesn't-bend.

Mike was very available during the fest, he also signed a CD and took time to talk. Cianide shared a table with Funebrarum. Fellow Chicagoans Kommandant had merch available, including a promo CD-R for their new album, which I still NEED to order and hear!

I went shopping while Vallenfyre took stage, their live sound was good and crunchy, with plenty of stage banter. On that topic, Master took stage next, well known to me for their prolonged and hilarious stage banter the previous two times I've seen them. Paul Speckman and crew managed to keep comments to a minimum (though they are always welcome to me and always hilarious) while blazing through a set of Master classics that got the crowd moving, and fast!

Paul was himself very available at the fest as well, I got to say hi and have him sign a CD early in the day. This time the CD wasn't a bootleg! Still sorry about that! He even handed out Master picks to anyone who bought anything, so that was cool.
I grabbed some food while Lock Up played, though I'm not a huge fan, it was cool to experience that project finally coming to life on stage. Many jokes were made, solid sound and set.
Aura Noir took stage next and were incredible! Even more energetic than their releases, it was a treat to finally get to see them live. I really wanted to run into Apollyon afterwards to ask about some cookies my partner and I made for Immortal in 2010, but alas, no luck. Anyway, horns up to Aura Noir, I'd see you guys live again anyday!

Suffocation took stage next and ploughed through what was probably the best set I've ever seen them perform live! All the classics were there, "Reincremated," "Infecting The Crypts," "Effigy Of The Forgotten," "Breeding The Spawn," "Entrails Of You," and "As Grace Descends." Frank 'the Tank' was already pretty wasted and hilarious. I was wondering how Suffocation would be after all the awesome NYDM bands that played on Thursday, but they reminded everyone that they are not only pioneers but banner-waivers; Suffocation ALWAYS delivers live, seemingly better than the last time too. Suffocation live is just plain hard to beat.

Obituary gave beating Suffocation their best and might just have done it with another solid set of classics. The pit opened early and only got faster, larger, and more intense by the end. This was my second time seeing them (the first was with Broken Hope for the first Carnival of Chaos Tour), and they continue to deliver no-frills brutality and swamp-stomp. I really appreciated too that the band had a signing session earlier in the day, at which point I got my CD of Slowly We Rot signed. I wish I had brought my vinyl of Inked In Blood, or better yet, my cassette of Cause of Death! Anyway, thanks for spending time with fans guys and more thanks for a great set!

 Great photo, right? Anyway, we blasted out of the Edison Lot to catch Ghoul at the Soundstage. This was my second time seeing them, the first being MDF 2012. I made the wise decision of getting upfront for the insanity while wearing a white shirt. It's white no more! Ghoul had a good live set and entertaining (as well as messy) live props, there was much stage diving, moshing, and crowd-surfing so I'd call that a successful show.

 Still dripping, we rushed over to Ram's Head for Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult. This was my second time seeing them, as I saw them at the Acheron in Brooklyn previously. Continuing a night of bloodlust and perversion, Onielar spat blood from a chalice at the audience, with me right near the front. Score more blood stains for my shirt! The set was great and included several songs with those great d-beats they work in, Darkthrone-style!


Aeternus took stage after a seeming aeternity of bands (in a very good way!) to finally grace the MDF stage; there was a some sort of visa issue previously. Their set was varied, and though I'm not a huge fan of their work, I was entertained. 

Cornelius the Lecherous Lepus surveyed the damage to my Undergang shirt after Ghoul & DNS, he declared it "very Metal."

Deciding sleep was "kind of important," we missed some early bands. That said, I wanted, nay NEEDED, to see Morpheus Descends! Their live set was solid, finishing with "Cairn Of Dimitru." The crowd got pretty into it for 2pm on a Saturday; I was pleased to see fans of many ages present or made on that day! I am most pleased to count my friends whom I dragged along amongst the number of converts. There is a special story about meeting the band afterwords, see my upcoming post on their From Blackened Crypts boxset for full details.

I took the next few minutes as an opportunity to creep around, eat, and browse. Next up was Blood Red Throne from Norway. I'd seen them once before (I think) on the first 'Carnival of Death' Tour in 2012 when Broken Hope reformed. I thought they had a killer set and live sound then, but this time was considerably better! The band is interesting in that it is a Norwegian band doing NY-style Brutal Death Metal and at one time had Faust within its ranks. In a fest heavy on NYDM this year, BRT totally held their own and riled up the masses. I found them to be one of the best 'surprise, we came out of nowhere and blew everyone away' bands this year.

We rushed over to see Vulcano, who seemed to have an inexhaustible reserve of energy! Their set was also quite good. Well worth the wait! We were a bit towards the back, but I still enjoyed the show. I've been slacking in my Vulcano lessons, so I can't give you much more than that.

 Bulldozer took stage next. They had presence, unfortunately I can't comment more. Two weeks out, my memory is getting fuzzy. Not to mention that I've also missed many Bulldozer lectures, which is about to change! I previously tried to get into them but wasn't floored. I think now that I need to go back and try again!

So to make up for it, here's TWO shitty pictures! Anyway, Triptykon was up next. My expectations were high (it's TOM FUCKING WARRIOR, ugh!!!), especially after Triptykon had to cancel last year so that Tom could participate in H.R. Giger's funeral. Totally understandable, and the wait only added to the tension! What would they play? Well sure enough, it was a career-spanner (not to be confused with a hydro-spanner). We got some Triptykon tongue twisters in "Tree Of Suffocating Souls," as well as "Goetia,"  chased with a Celtic Frosty in "Procreation Of The Wicked" though ole Tommy G. teased us by asking if we were 'morbid' first. Completing a set of Warrior Hymns, Triptykon closed out with hellish hammering in "Messiah." What a pit, what a set! Death was triumphant for this return to the eve of extreme metal and Tom G. Warrior's shattering of barriers as he displayed the abyss within his soul. Whew! Also, the rest of the band was excellent and tight, with much energy, but I can't really say I pulled my eyes much from one of my greatest  Metal influences and heroes, Tom G. Warrior!

P.S. I moved MUCH closer than this; I took the photo immediately upon the band taking stage and promptly moved into the pit, staying mostly 3 people deep when I wasn't slamming into as many solid objects as possible and furiously headbanging.

We moseyed about and ate as Solstice took stage, alas maybe Sodom can play next year! Arcturus took stage next and were replete with crazy anachronistic costumes, keyboards, guitars, drums, and an electric violin. I'm not a big fan of Arcturus (though I did play Aspera Hiems Symfonia quite a bit in middle school), it was still interesting to see them live. 

Razor powerfully closed out Saturday night at the Edison lot with a set of classics, sounding better than any recording I've heard! It was a furious set with a huge and ceaseless circle pit that branched out into ever-expanding satellite pits before growing even larger as orbits overlapped. My crew suffered one casualty in the form of a knee scrape that thankfully did not require amputation, hahaha. It's proof of the might of Razor that they could get so many Metalheads on their feet and moving after 2-3 days (or more) of heavy partying and concert-going. Somehow it seems I either forgot to take or lost my photo of the band, so appy-polly-ogies there!

At this point, somehow still with strength (and limbs) functioning, I headed over to Soundstage while my friends field-dressed their wounds. I missed Cephalic Carnage (for the second time!) but got there just in time for a more important (to me) act, Wolfbrigade! The Lycanthro-Punks brought out the beast in everyone as they blazed through their set. The intimate nature of the venue, with lighting often at nil made this a really intense show; you never knew who (or what) would come flying at you in (or out of) the pit! What a treat! Ok rant time, why can I never find any Wolfpack or Wolfbrigade releases ANYWHERE?! And if I do, they sell out even before I can checkout (as I've never encountered a physical copy, only online sales)! Ok, rant over. First-world problems, right? 

Here's two, albeit extremely blurry, photos for putting up with me. My phone was having none of the low lighting. Still, one can argue that the blurriness is accounted for by the fact that I captured a live lycanthropic transformation, in progress. Sure, you could argue that I didn't, but unless you were there, you won't know (until the next full moon).
Agoraphobic Nosebleed was the next and final act of the night. This was their first ever live show. They are the most intense of any grindcore bands I've ever heard; hallucinogenic, beguiling, more pissed than any simile I could invent. Expectations were high. And they were surpassed! Easily the most intense show of the fest (and certainly in the top 3 of any I've been to)! People were moshing before AND after the actual set! Yes there was a drum machine, but in true Sisters Of Mercy fashion, it was treated as a full member and got it's own solo, heheh. Clearly the ANb crew wants everyone and everything dead, flawlessly attacking their instruments and confronting the crowd with unbridled hatred. As a bonus, someone brought a large (at least 12") inflatable penis that got passed around, volleyball-style. Perfect.

SUNDAY (May 24)
Imagine the above letters printed in stark white on a black background, reminiscent of the Shining, do this and you will have an idea of the grimness of the day.

Okay, so that's maybe a SLIGHT exaggeration, but a number of gloomy, doomy,  and heavy bands played. Again favoring sleep over shows, we didn't get to the fest until the tail-end of Masacre, but I've previously seen Prosanctus Inferi and Tombs (and will be seeing the latter again for Stardust Festival). But then, I do have a history of missing Tombs, even if I'm at the correct show; that's all another story. Anyway, we did get there to see Goatsnake and their huge Orange amplifiers.

Notable set occurrences: Greg Anderson. 'Nuff said. Pete Stahl's harmonica, Pete Stahl throwing a tamborine high into the air, NOT catching it, said tamborine shattering against the stage, Pete Stahl complaining that "they don't make them like they used to," Pete Stahl playing the shards anyway; a new Goatsnake song from June 2nd's Black Age Blues.

I shopped and ate while Primordial played. While not historically a fan, they put on a lively show and sounded good enough to warrant another listen to their material sometime.

Winter took stage next; this would be my 4th time seeing the extremely slothful New York doom/death pioneers.

Opening with one of my personal favorites, "Servants Of The Warsmen," Winter dragged us through some icy dirges with point precision. Yes, it IS very hard to play that slowly and still keep time. I was hoping for a version "Black Whole" as a powerhouse closer, but alas that hope will remain in eternal frost (at least until the next time I catch them, haha!). Overall great set, many thanks to Winter for bringing the power and might needed to drive midday Sunday into darkness!

I did some meandering while Anaal Nathrakh played; I'm not too into their catalog but they score bonus points for having Attila Csihar do guest work on some albums!

Next up was a band I'd been eagerly awaiting since they were announced to play MDF: Skepticism. Though a new fan of less than a year, I was still rabid. Having heard them mentioned often in the same breath as diSEMBOWELMENT and later Morgion, I'd long been meaning to check the band out, but somehow they kept slipping my ears' range. Anyway, their announced set at MDF made it imperative that I finally get around to checking them out and WOW what a great catalog I've been missing out on! I really wish I had these albums for some particularly trying or beautiful times past in my life. See, that's what Skepticism does so well for me, beauty and despair. I did manage to pick up most of their catalog at the fest so you can bet that they will be on frequent rotation in my home. In fact, Stormcrowfleet has become a favorite while I'm cooking, as this is a time for me to slow down and relax, often at or near sundown. That said, the band's set ALMOST coincided with sundown on Sunday, missing it by maybe 30-40 minutes. They still played in undertaker garb haloed in the sun's last rays, perhaps encouraging it's very retreat into its nightly casket with their wail. I'd like to think so anyway. I managed to catch up with some of the band afterwords; they were all really appreciative of my enthusiasm. The guitarist and vocalist even signed an old advertising postcard for the Lead And Aethere album a friend recently gifted me, giving it an even more special place in my collection. Apparently, a live CD/DVD and a new album are in the works from Svart Records sometime this year, if I understood the guitarist correctly, so I will be eagerly anticipating those!

Washing down my Finnish Death Metal with more Finnish Death Metal, I rushed over to catch tech-belcher champions of the bizarre, Demilich. This was another important set for me. Not only is the band super unique and remarkable in their own right, my discovery of them by a friend (a different one than previously mentioned, it's good to have many Metal mentors!) 2-3 years ago sent me deep on a quest of Finnish Death Metal discovery. I can't believe it took me so long to discover the strange wonders of the Finnish scene, I've spent an unfair amount of time on America, Sweden, and the UK!

So, let's get to what you want to know: the vocals sounded SPOT ON, Antti can belch and gurgle away in his abnormal gastric way live too! Also, he pronounced FULL song titles, such as the lengthy, "The Sixteenth Six-Tooth Son Of Fourteen Four Regional Dimensions (Still Unnamed)" and the even less wieldly "The Planet That Once Used To Absorb Flesh In Order To Achieve Divinity And Immortality (Suffocated To The Flesh That It Desired...)." Considering they had 55 minutes to play and a discography not much longer, everything I wanted to hear was played, including, "And The Slimy Flying Creatures Reproduce In Your Brains." How they remember the song titles, let alone the intricate and demented riffs is quite beyond me. It must be in the water.

Finnish fiends temporarily aside, Neurosis took stage next. This was my second time seeing them, and both experiences were deep and moving. Neurosis pack a passion into their live set that even further accentuates the emotional impact present on studio recordings; you haven't experienced Neurosis until you've seen them live. Most importantly for me, they played "The Tide" from my all-time favorite Neurosis album, A Sun That Never Sets, closely followed by Sovereign. I appreciate the band's fascination with runic imagery, ancestry, and nature as a metaphor for personal destruction/discovery (especially water), perhaps it's the Piscean Viking in me...

Switching stages for Edison Lot's Finnish Finish to MDF 13, I grabbed a spot to watch Amorphis play "Tales From The Thousand Lakes" in its entirety. Though I'm more a fan of Abhorrence's demos through Amorphis' Privelege of Evil, it was still cool to hear this live. I certainly give Amorphis credit for their style(s) living up to their name.

Not yet ready to throw in the Deathfest blood-soaked towel, we quickly headed over to Soundstage. Whilst my friend picked up a DRI shirt for my his sister, I pondered over five minutes of Melt Banana's strangeness. We finished up the night at Ram's Head, catching the end of Impetuous Ritual. I can't say I saw or heard enough to make an opinion.

Knelt Rote was up next, the second-to-last band of MDF for me this year. Their guitarist got quite animated from time to time; it was obvious he was feeling the music. That kind of sincerity adds a lot to a show. Otherwise, the set was plagued by Ram's Head's sound system; most of the sound was lost to a noise wall that, near as I could tell, wasn't entirely intentional. From what I could make out and follow of their spidery riffing, Knelt Rote could be very cool. I'll need to give some studio recordings a spin!

The final act of the night and fest was Portal. Strange costumes and stranger sounds, Portal is another band that I would rather see live than listen to on a recording. I'm unsure if they played any of their actual material or improvised. I'm also unsure if it matters; the effect is the same. Listening to Portal is disorienting, with riffs that zig when they should zag, seeming like the music sheet was transposed upside down and in reverse. I may prefer guitarist Horror Illogium's work in Vomitor to Portal, but I still enjoyed the show, though the projector images were making my head swimmy by the end.

Thanks again to the security team at MDF for being friendly and supportive of all us dunderheaded, knuckle-dragging, doofs that invade the city each year. It's great that many of them are Metal fans themselves, often jumping into the pit or occasionally crowd-surfing when off duty. I was a big fan of the use of super-soakers this year; they are a fun way to cool off the crowd and a safe and amusing way to make crowd-surfing more interesting. 

Secondly, the three venues (not including the Sidebar shows) works really well. The larger fair grounds for the main stage lots is more than adequate, the vendors are all solid choices (though I still hope for Dark Descent to make an appearance!), and the food was awesome (hail the Smokerhead/Zombie  BBQ and mighty Porklord!). I was really pleased that I could eat vegetarian all weekend with no issues. I must confess that I did break down and get something with marshmallows, but come on! Count Chocula in rice crispy treats?! I couldn't resist.

I'm still processing this year's MDF but I'm already rabid for next year's. That is very telling; it takes me almost until the next year to calm down from one MDF, all the while fiending for more! Keep up the great work to everyone involved in MDF and I'll see you Metalheads next year!

*Review and photos copyright The Samnambulist, 2015*

Monday, June 8, 2015

ALBUM REVIEW: Cain/Maximum Oversatan (Split) "Unholy Triumvirate" 7"

Right, prepare thyself for some Over-the-top Metal Madness!!!!

NOTE: Only gritty shitty photos are real!! Hi-res, FOAD!!!!

Upstate NY's upstarts Cain blast off the split with a hooky riff and some mid-paced double kick until the song shifts into overdrive with some galloping kicks and tough riffing in the track "Genocide," complete with solo!

"Necronomicon" in an apparently 'edited' version, is a fast thrasher that takes a darker twist, almost fast enough to warrant a grind moniker. Definitely cool enough to warrant the Cain moniker.

I've seen these guys live twice, they're a really fun, it'd wager any Tankard album that the whole band'd love to die with a beer in hand. Catch 'em live if you can!

NEXT UP is NJ conglomerate Maximum Oversatan (featuring current and ex-members of powerhouse and personal favorite, Sacrificial Blood), who are clearly too evil for Hell (or even the A-side). A Venom/Motorhead/Piledriver type over-the-top Speed machine of unspeakable dirt and filth, MO start their side off with "Die By The Saw" perhaps letting their Sodom influences rot through. A slow-pumper for your fist, I just can't help but rally behind their call for METAL. Excellent lo-fi production endears this gem of poseur-crushing Heavy Metal until Hell that is too cold for evil.

Appropriately, MO finishes their side with a cover of spoof Heavy Metal band Bad News' "Warriors Of Ghengis Khan."

What are Maximum Oversatan like live? Well I've seen 'em once and could attempt to provide grisly details, but I think this video tells all you need to know.

As an aside, this is the first vinyl release by previously cassette-only label Contaminated Tones Productions who specialize in cool demos and live shows. I've ordered from them thrice now, and each transaction has been smooth as butter. I appreciate that this order (of only one 7" record) came in a HUGE box.  The box is at least 5" deep. Packaging as ridiculous as the bands they promote, check them out!

*Review and photos copyright The Samnambulist, 2015*