The Shortlist: Demos, EPs, Splits and Reissues (Issue 32)

The Shortlist: Demos, EPs, Splits and Reissues (Issue 32)

REISSUES

Oranssi Pazuzu: Muukalainen Puhuu, Kosmonument, and the Farmakologinen and Kevät / Värimyrsky EPs: 20 Buck Spin

20 Buck Spin takes on the daunting task of reissuing Oranssi Pazuzu’s mammoth history. Considering the Finnish band have only been active since 2007, they have produced an enormous amount of sinister atmospheric metal. The band are prolific in combining whatever fucking elements they want from black metal and psych rock influences. Oranssi Pazuzu are loved by fans and critics; their albums average 89 percent and above on The Metal Archives. Their prior two albums—2013’s Valonielu and 2016’s Värähtelijä—had quite an impact on Americans, but that has us missing the 2009 masterpiece, Muukalainen Puhuu.

Having been on Spinefarm and Svart Records, the band now have 20 Buck Spin to canonize their past on precious vinyl. Muukalainen Puhuu comes on purple/ultra-clear with black splatter. The tectonic double LP, Kosmonument, will be released on blue/magenta with white and cyan splatter on an impressive triple gatefold. Farmakologinen mini-LP has four tracks—from a split with Candy Cane in 2010—which travel 27 minutes on electric blue vinyl.

As if this was not enough, on April 18, 20 Buck Spin also released a 10” mini-LP of two unreleased tracks that Oranssi Pazuzu left off prior albums.

20 Buck Spin released two LPs from the band and continues to press them in startling colors: Valonielu and Värähtelijä, which are in second and third pressings. May 5 will see the three rereleases.

Carsickness: 1979–1982: Get Hip Recordings

Color me surprised. This is a band I had not heard, but in 1979, Carsickness were creating magic punk garage noise. Think back to The Monks and add elements of DEVO, Zappa, and The B-52s. While mirroring sounds of Them, Zombies, and melding The Stooges, Boston, and The J. Geils Band, these dudes were on an entirely different trip. It is hard to nail down this sound. Christ, YouTube search “Carsickness band,” and you just get videos for the magical cure of motion sickness wristbands. But the correct query results display hyper, spastic tracks that embody the magic of the Hammond and poppy mod riffs.

Hailing from Pittsburgh, Carsickness were doomed for obscurity. On April 21, Get Hip Recordings exposed this saucy collection of 17 tracks of atmospheric, impulsive rants. The tunes are catchy and melodic, premonitions of much to come, while channeling odd aspects of Bowie—with “They Came Crawling”—and early Stones, Troggs, or DMZ. But these are all eclectic references to paint an approximate picture. Saxophones dueling and Ginger Baker drums combine to defy any other band’s template. It is punk and psych and garage all fused together to create truly original sounds. 1979 could not have defined this, and even 2017’s genre hyphens still scratch their head. Carsickness are rough and pulsating. Dig it. 

Descendents: Everything Sucks Deluxe Edition: Epitaph Records

Obviously, the Descendents were legends by 1996. They weaved magic that founded a nerdy, quirky band who were hardcore while concurrently pop punk. They were on SST with Black Flag, Bla’st!, Saccharine Trust, and Minutemen. They were snarky and extremely bitter toward those evil creatures known as girls—as bitter as the coffee they swilled instead of any petty alcohol or drugs.

But it was 1996. They hadn’t made an album in nine years and were left for lifeless. Everything Sucks was a “comeback” album. Could they maintain their legend? With this revamped ALL lineup? Bill Stevenson, hulking drummer, pounded raucous rhythms. Milo Aukerman spewed acrimonious judgments balanced with romantic longings—ever the outcast, from romance, from punk circles, from life in general, despite the individual’s success in life!

“I’m the One” was the single, but the title track kicks off with venom and fury, being both catchy and accessible. “Hateful Notebook.” “When I Get Old.” “Rotting Out.” But the standout: the simmering dark pith of seething resentment shines beautifully on what, on the surface, is an ode to positivity, “She Loves Me.” Add “This Place” and “Sick-O-Me,” and oh, how they can smear cynicism upon what others take as gifts. On May 5, Epitaph reissues this gem on 180-gram vinyl for its 20th anniversary, plus a bonus 7” with two unreleased tracks. Punk perfection.

Stiff Little Fingers: No Going Back: earMUSIC

Stiff Little Fingers are punk royalty. Jake Burns has carried this band from being trailblazers to consistent, defiant iconoclasts. The Belfast icons’ first three LPs rival—and surpass, for some—their London counterparts from 1977 through the early ‘80s. SLF continued in the ‘90s with some classics as well. In 2014, they made rebellious noise with No Going Back. Well, earMUSIC grabbed the opportunity to reissue this recent gem on April 21. While punk may have originated as abrasive noise, Burns and company could not hide their musical ability. As they grew into certified songwriters, SLF maintained a rep as emotive, skilled musicians. Their storytelling ability maintains gravity.

Helium: The Dirt of Luck, The Magic City / No Guitars EP, and Ends with And: Matador Records

Welcome the reissues from Helium on Matador Records! This Boston trio went through some initial changes before securing a stable lineup for their debut, The Dirt of Luck. By then, Mary Timony had established herself as the band’s driving force. While some liken her “husky vocals” to Kim Wilde and Debbie Harry—which is fair—I think a Liz Phair comparison is a sure bet. Regardless, Helium were slinging sloppy yet catchy chords and ambient sound like other Boston bands, Pixies, Nada Surf, and Belly. Darlings of ‘90s college radio, Helium could wrangle feedback and droning rhythms as well as melodies and charming vocals. Between 1992 and 1997, they released six EPs and two LPs. Matador now gives their audience The Dirt of Luck and combine two releases from 1997, The Magic City LP and No Guitars EP, on a double LP. Ends with And is a double LP collection of rarities, singles, EPs, and demos. Coming May 19, colors include blue and yellow.

Super Furry Animals: Fuzzy Logic: Everloving Records

Super Furry Animals reminisce on their 20th anniversary by reissuing their 1996 debut, Fuzzy Logic, through Everloving Records. This punchy, vibrant record has been reissued on 180-gram LP with 35 bonus tracks on a double-CD. Record Store Day, April 22, saw this Welsh group’s debut resurface with all their splendid brit pop. Think Bowie and Beatles and Blur. Oasis and Jellyfish too. Super Furry Animals ingested many facets of this wonder we call music and wrote tunes with no fear and no apprehension of what a rock album should be. Elements like French horns and bouncy pianos and dirge-y guitar chords all party together with victorious vocal patterns that shine and invite unadulterated fun.

Cirith Ungol: King of the Dead Ultimate Edition: Metal Blade Records

Cirith Ungol played fantastic metal—and I mean that in the literal sense. All their album covers were Michael Whelan illustrations of battle axes, maidens, and dragons. Their name is taken from Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” and means “Pass of the Spider,” a place in Mordor. Their fantasy-drenched lyrics were orated like a dwarf preacher inspiring Gimli into battle.

1984 birthed Cirith Ungol’s best record, The King of the Dead, heavy on challenging instrumental passages, strewn like Led Zeppelin, while the majority boasts heavy, sludgy riffs inspired by Black Sabbath. This Ventura, California, band predates The Obsessed and Saint Vitus. Bands like Blood Ceremony and most current doom metal bands owe much gratitude to this oft overlooked group. Organ intros, rollicking riffs, wooly basslines, and cryptic vocals are all factors in this doom classic.

2017 will see the band’s initial footsteps on European land at the Keep It True Festival in Lauda-Königshofen, Germany. Metal Blade Records introduces the Ultimate Edition of Cirith Ungol’s King of the Dead on April 28. This resurrection is blessed with full remastering by Patrick W. Engel at Temple Of Disharmony, five bonus tracks, expanded packaging, and a bonus DVD. The vinyl includes a 12-page booklet and a poster, and was also mastered by Engel in January of 2017. On 180-gram black vinyl, clear ice blue vinyl—limited to 300 copies, turquoise green/black-marbled vinyl—limited to 200 copies—and blood-red vinyl—limited to 200 copies.

Dying Fetus: Reign Supreme, Descend into Depravity, War of Attrition, Stop at Nothing, and Destroy the Opposition: Relapse Records

As if you couldn’t tell by their abysmally negative moniker, Dying Fetus are an ugly, death-grind band, but they do not dwell solely in horror or gory subjects. Dying Fetus serve disgust and repulsion in terms of the political quagmire in which we live. Their subject matter has always been birthed from U.S. empiricism towards Native peoples, police violence, authoritarian corruption, war, drugs, propaganda, and human savagery. This approach has elevated the band, along with their musical precision. Relapse Records—their home since 2000—decided to tease the band’s impending 2017 release with five reissues on March 24, including the stunning 2012 release, Reign Supreme. Check the sexy options. Variety is the spice of life—and the spice of death, apparently. Each record is available on black or clear with blood red splatter.

DEMOS

Hour Of 13: Salt the Dead: The Rare and Unreleased: Shadow Kingdom Records

Doom purveyors, Hour Of 13, unfortunately met their withering demise in 2014—but it’s OK, look up Night Magic! And while we will—may?—never hear more tunes from these ominous Satanists, we are allowed to revel in some demos. Their existence spanned 2007 to 2012, producing three albums and three EPs. Well, those fans salivating for the haunting, creepy music and eerie vocals of Hour Of 13 can now be sated with Salt the Dead. On June 23, Shadow Kingdom will release these diabolic riff-manufacturers’ litany of alternate recordings. A double-LP, the first vinyl is comprised of demos from 2007, which matured into the band’s debut.

EPs

Dead Tired: Vol. II: New Damage Records

This minty green vinyl looks calming—but soon comes the abrasive fury on this wax that belies that notion. Dead Tired supply feral hardcore with savage lyrics. “Here Comes the Fall” is a pummeling five-minute slow-burn of foreboding misery. This songwriting reflects some Hidden Life from Fucked Up, which fits as Damian Abraham provides guest vocals. “Complicated Pleasures” spews like a fireworks finale. “Hedonic Adaptations” rolls through with this feel again, burning and crushing. Think Tear It Up or Violent Minds. But there is a tone and attitude that keeps Dead Tired original. Hailing from Hamilton, Ontario, we get the “featuring ex-members of” treat here with Alexisonfire and Born Wrong alum. Dead Tired have also released a self-titled LP and another 7”, Vol I., on New Damage. Highly recommended.

Scumripper: Scumripper: Hells Headbangers

31 March 2017

Scumripper are ugly, loud, and violent, but still have a chunky groove that you can claw into. This is vile metal, unapologetic and brash. Fans of Nekrofilth, Midnight, Hellhammer, Sarcofago, early Toxic Holocaust, Motörhead, Putrified, and Insulters will find a lot to like here. The raw recording lets the band get down to business immediately. Six tracks—all around two-minutes each—parade actual songwriting on this self-titled 7” EP, released March 31 on Hells Headbangers. Scumripper are not content with just two-minute riff rides; the tracks here show that the talent of this band is palpable under the feedback and guttural growls. Titles like “Run to the Pills,” “Cum Killa,” and “Burning of the Midnight Tramp” may frighten some listeners away, but will offer most metal fans a brutal buffet. Pressed on orange vinyl with heavy black and green spatter.

Sons Of Famine: Alcohol and Razorblades: Horror Pain Gore Death Productions

When the dictionary finally includes the term “extreme metal,” Sons Of Famine could be the adjacent image without argument. Serving up four new tracks via HPGD on March 24, Chicago’s Sons Of Famine tear though blazing riffs and numbing drums to deliver blatant defiance of any concern. This is sure to appeal to fans of Dwarves, Venom, Exploited, Deströyer 666, and Emperor.

The nihilistically titled Alcohol and Razorblades teases us for the band’s 2018 full-length. SOF feature former members of Yakuza, Nachtmystium, Kommandant, Lividity, and more. Under the miasma of noise and roiling energy, sick guitar leads and tight playing push wretched metal into your eardrums. While the first tracks simply eviscerate—well, not simply: there are nuances that glimmer—“Nothing and Nowhere” ends with five minutes of seething that builds as it laps like a calm ocean of lava. Pick this up.

SPLITS

The Queers / Bassamp And Dano: The Queers Regret Making a Record with Bassamp And Dano: Failure Records & Tapes

Back in February, Failure Records & Tapes kicked off their “Split Hits the Fans” split series with The Queers, who have technically existed since 1982. Strapped with unabashed Ramones adoration, they inject their brand of punk with ‘60s pop rock sounds. They have released dozens of albums—both studio and live—and a barrage of single 7”s and splits. Joe Queer and the boys split the vinyl with Bassamp And Dano on a limited 500 pieces of purple swirl. The Queers provide two tracks from Back to the Basement, “I’m Pissed” and “Pull Me out of It.” St Louis, Missouri’s Bassamp And Dano fit perfectly as they blast street punk with flare. “Ready for Action” is an ode to the party, while “Lemme See Dem Titties” is about… well, boobs. Eschewing intellect or rebellion, Bassamp And Dano are here for the fun. Quality songwriting with Adam Sandler-esque lyrics.

Park Sparrows / MAäSK: Split: Say-10 Records

At their roots, Richmond, Virgina’s Park Sparrows play tight, fast hardcore, but with an undeniable viral infectious sound behind it and lust for catchy melody. Combing RVA for veteran musicians—like Wheelbite and Freeman vocalist, Freeman Martin, and bassist Garth Petrie of Strike Anywhere—Park Sparrows write churning, emotional tracks. A song like “Turnout” exhibits supreme writing and vocals that will gut your sentimentality. Playing loose and raw, fans of Avail, Marginal Man, Lifetime, or Leatherface will dig this. Tracks “Manifest Destiny,” “Amity Island Iced Tea,” and “Witching Hour” cause me pause on utilizing “pop” to describe this. They punch. Gritty and catchy, Park Sparrows deliver the goods.

MAäSK feature Thomas Barnett from RVA’s Strike Anywhere and Inquisition, despite now coming from Ventura, California. Enlisted by John Crerar of The Fucking Wrath, MAäSK creates spaced-out, swirling punk/rock. Grand in its application, thunderous with its delivery. You can hear ‘80s Cali hardcore mixed with early The Cure and bugger rock bands. It’s ambitious and gratifying. Fast drums lay low in the mix while reverb, feedback, and taut riffs hog most of the soundscape.

Their split was released March 17 via Say-10 Records and is only available on Bandcamp.

LIVE

Enslaved: Roadburn Live: Roadburn Records / By Norse Music

Tilburg, Netherlands’ Roadburn Festival is Mecca for fans of doom, stoner, and black metal bands. The organizers have capitalized on the fest’s notoriety by releasing live recordings from Sleep Elder, Wino, Ulver, and Samothrace. Now, the progressive black metal forefathers of Norway, Enslaved, continue their influence with this eight-track live album—their first live record ever—released April 22. Six tracks range between eight to 10 minutes each; you definitely get your money’s worth. The penultimate song is five minutes, but is really there to tease listeners before they close with a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song.” Ya know, “Land of ice and snow”—very cvlt.

For 25 years, Enslaved have pushed the boundaries of black metal and created dense, rich anthems of desolation and despair. Captured live at the apex of metal fest, their sound is captivating. The packaging is superb, boasting multicolored issues of vinyl: webshop-exclusive gold, plus purple, green, and white.

According to Earsplit PR, “Roadburn Live also features a brilliant layout created by highly respected artist and Roadburn’s regular graphic designer, Costin Chioreanu. The album was mixed by Iver Sandøy at Solslottet Studio and mastered by Jens Bogren (Kreator, Opeth, Sepultura) in Fascination Street Studios. It is also the last official release with Herbrand Larsen on keys and vocals.”

DVDs

Between The Buried And Me: Coma Ecliptic: Live: Metal Blade Records / Good Fight Entertainment

BTBAM’s most recent album, 2015’s Coma Ecliptic, showed the band leaping further into their prog-rock trajectory. Playing meta-metal riffs with the approach of a Queen or Yes on daring concept albums has ushered this band into cult status. Infusing synth-rock into deathcore riffs—“Dim Ignition”—illustrates the intention of these musicians’ varied paths. This live album of the band performing the record in its entirety was also released digitally and on CD, but they especially encourage fans to buy the DVD or Blu-ray. Bassist Dan Briggs says, “The genesis of the Coma Ecliptic filming was based around capturing the look and feel of the show our lighting director Chris Hill produced for the full album set. It’s such an important record for us and our progression as a band, and the visual representation captures the moods of our tragic tale so well.” April 28 gives the fans a chance to enjoy this show at home.

Fates Warning: Awaken the Guardian Live: Metal Blade Records

In 1986, Connecticut’s Fates Warning hit the billboard charts with their final album with singer John Arch. The switch would lead to a shift in styles from power metal into a progressive metal movement. Thirty years later, Fates Warning recorded two sets of this album performed live. Awaken the Guardian shows the beginnings of these prog leanings, while still harnessing the band’s power in playing passionate, ripping metal. The live album is available on CD, DVD, Blu-ray, and double-gatefold vinyl via Metal Blade on April 28. The album capture’s Arch’s return at the Keep It True Festival on April 30, 2016, in Lauda-Königshofen, Germany, and at ProgPower USA on Sept. 9, 2016, in Atlanta, Georgia.

BONUS ROUND:

American Clay: Sky Hooks and Codist: Porcelain Boy: 6131 Records

by Thomas Pizzola

Through a partnership with LP Records in Glasgow, Scotland, 6131 Records present a couple of EPs from two of the city’s finest musical exports: American Clay and Codist. Though both bands owe a debt to Teenage Fanclub, they assert themselves with their own distinct sounds. American Clay plays shoegaze-pop that can go from languid to feedback-driven and driving at the drop of the hat. Even when the fuzz hits, it is still very warm and inviting. Codist also base their sound in pop, but it’s a fuzzy, distorted kind that, at times, is reminiscent of Dinosaur Jr. It’s catchy, but has a distorted edge to it, and includes some cool feedback-driven guitar solos. Anybody looking to pick up some distorted, fuzzy indie-pop for their collection should get these EPs as soon as possible. They’re both worth your time.

Read more of The Shortlist here.

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