The Shortlist: Demos, EPs, Splits and Reissues (Issue 31)


Vastum: Carnal Law: 20 Buck Spin

Having already smeared our speakers with Vastum’s last two albums, 2013’s Patricidal Lust and 2015’s Hole Below, 20 Buck Spin are now reissuing their 2011 debut, Carnal Law, on vinyl. The ability to own this piece of death metal glory is enticing. The treat is that it will be remastered by Brad Boatright, whose mighty knobs will boost and enhance the San Franciscan quintet’s feral delivery. In addition to grimy riffs and disturbing rhythms, Vastum attack with menacing dual vocals from Daniel Butler and guitarist Leila Abdul-Rauf. Carnal Law was originally issued on only 500 LPs and quickly went out of print. This monstrous reconstruction comes March 10.

Contrastic: Contrastic: Horror Pain Gore Death Productions

Speaking of Brad Boatright, his magical fingers grace the analog archives of Contrastic’s 1999 self-titled LP. The Czech vendors of grindcore can’t be confined to only that genre: while they certainly master it, they also throw in tricks involving programming, funk beats, and keyboards. A rough, jangly bassline centers most songs, with erratic guitar parts from long grooves to spitfire ramblings. Recently, the band have resurfaced for Maryland Deathfest and several compilations. This record—their swan song and sole full-length after a few splits—has never been released on vinyl before. Boatright specifically remastered these tracks for the vinyl format, and they were released on 100 pink and electric blue with black, 100 on white with hot pink splatter, and 200 translucent purple on Jan. 20.

The Damned: Damned Damned Damned Deluxe 40th Anniversary Edition: BMG

On Feb. 17, BMG continued their Art of the Album series with the initial footprint of punk. While we often refer to 1977 as punk’s birth year, “New Rose” by The Damned was released in October 1976. Then, on Feb. 18, 1977, via Stiff Records, Damned Damned Damned came to uproot tradition and decency. Forty years later, this album is still cherished and revered, and The Damned are embarking on a North American tour starting in L.A. on April 6.

Punk’s firstborn will now feature fully remastered audio, and Sounds magazine’s John Ingham created new liner notes by delving into the band’s history and reputation. The mythos attached to these devilish dudes from London has survived as punk rock lore and inspiration. Exclusive interviews with original members vocalist Dave Vanian, guitarist and bassist Captain Sensible, guitarist Brian James, and drummer Rat Scabies highlight the booklet’s six pages along with the 180 gram vinyl.

Soundgarden: Ultramega OK: Sub Pop Records

While Soundgarden may seem like a big band among so many indie bands, in the late ‘80s, the band were digging their eclectic niche on SST Records. After two singles and an EP, Soundgarden dropped their debut LP, Ultramega OK. On March 10, Sub Pop releases the remixed and expanded edition with six extra tracks. It will appear on The Loser Edition Vinyl—available in Marble Blue or Maroon—cassette, CD, and digital. The foil-stamped gatefold version will tease vinyl lovers and includes liner notes from lead guitarist Kim Thayil and Jack Endino—the engineer famous for working with Nirvana, Mudhoney, Screaming Trees, and of course, Soundgarden—who remixed the album, including the six extra tracks from 1987 sessions. The band’s raw and thunderous approach to hard-driving material may surprise those who are only familiar with their mellower radio songs.

Black Army Jacket: 222 and Closed Casket: Magic Bullet Records

Dave Witte—legendary drummer and Decibel Metal & Beer Fest craft brewing aficionado—is a truly prolific musician. He doesn’t just have a staggering resume, he has bands who conquered. Discordance Axis have a Decibel Hall of Fame album, Burnt By The Sun paved paths for mathcore bands, and Human Remains earned a powerful rep. While current projects like Deny The Cross and Brain Tentacles still leave metal fans in awe of his phenomenal abilities, Municipal Waste capture all onlookers with a frantic show and legendary aura of talent, wit, and energy.

Now, Magic Bullet resurrect one of Witte’s first bands, Black Army Jacket, in two forms. 222 is the proper Black Army Jacket full-length, originally recorded and released in 1999, now remixed and remastered from their original tapes with two previously unheard bonus tracks. Closed Casket is a 50-song effort, collecting various cassettes, 7”s, and splits from 1996 through 1998. Shit. I haven’t addressed the riffs—the ferocious riffs, man! Powerviolence that ripped like chainsaws and gurgling vocals spewing tension and rage. Spastic tirades which channeled sludge and thrash into hardcore that challenged and provoked. 222 and Closed Casket were released on all digital platforms through Magic Bullet Records—appropriately—on Feb. 22.

The Briefs: Hit After Hit and Odd Numbers: Modern Action Records

The Briefs are one of the greatest bands involved in this thing we call punk. Their debut, Hit After Hit—originally on Dirtnap Records—hit shelves in 2000, and this newly remastered version will be issued via Modern Action Records on National Kickball Day, April 17. It is limited to 500 copies on Coke Bottle Green vinyl. The Briefs have attitude and clout. They play catchy, sharp punk. Their razor wit and confrontational lyrics do not detract from their punky hubris with a cavalier delivery. Odd Numbers is a batch of early demos and unreleased tracks pressed on 223 CDs, 150 gold vinyl LPs, and 100 of the colored stamp version.

Mutilator: Immortal Force: Greyhaze Records

From legends like Sepultura, Holocausto, and Sarcófago to recent classics like Nervosa, Brazil’s soil must generate something in the blood. Metal steeps in the adolescents until all of these talented musicians find a viable way to scream about their part of the world. Greyhaze Records have reissued Mutilator’s Immortal Force on Jan. 14. Originally released in 1987, this album creeps into 2017 with remastered audio, a faithful reproduction of the original LP layout, foil on the band’s logo, and a poster. The sound is there, upfront and bold. Crushing like early Slayer and Sepultura, the taut riffs, serpentine leads, and demonic growls grasp the listener without any loss of sonic ferocity. Greyhaze give us black and white vinyl LP versions. Also available are the Test Pressing LP—limited to 10 units—and 15 original mint copies of the 1987 Cogumelo Records pressing.

Draugurinn: Myrkraverk: Nordvis

Draugurinn is described as “dark ambient/classical” and “Swedish Ritual.” Dísa Á is described as an artist, which is apropos. Music is an abstract in her hands. As a solo vehicle, Draugurinn owes its inspiration to ritual and methodical chanting, not to guitars and amps. She reissues her second album, Myrkraverk, on Feb. 24. This release emerged in 2011 and has been out of print since. Dísa joined Swedish and Norwegian folk artists, Forndom and Wardruna, recently for a concert in an ancient Swedish hall. These incantations and ethereal experiences provide a conduit for Scandanavian culture and history. The emotions one can explore through her music is simultaneously self-confrontational and liberating. In 2015, Draugurinn’s new label Nordvis released a five-movement album of haunting atmospheres. Nordvis now exposes Draugurinn’s path.

Porta Daemonium: Serpent of Chaos: Blood Harvest

Porta Daemonium have existed since 1998, self-releasing their tracks. Now, Blood Harvest are honored to engage the vile sewers of fans with the band’s first full-length, Serpent of Chaos. The album was released digitally last year and will be reissued on vinyl on March 31. The band come from Santiago, Chile, and adore old-school death metal strewn with black metal nuances. Recorded at Torture Chamber Studios in Chile and mastered by the legendary Tomas Skogsberg, this album shows Porta Daemonium trudging through almost 20 years of forming this crushing sound. Blistering speed, blast beats, and frenzied riffs all mate in an orgy of tumultuous and ornery chaos. It seems doubtful that these demonic sounds can be held on a tangible object, but Blood Harvest managed to constrain these morally destitute bellows from Hell on 200 black and 100 swamp green vinyl slabs.

Necrophagist: Epitaph: Relapse Records

Nechrophagist are a German band who play uber-technical death metal. The band suspend disbelief in fans who attempt to comprehend how quickly one can play an instrument. Gutter-scraping vocals from the bowels of Hades loom over perfect instrumentation which is tuned low and evokes a rumbling fever of gore and misanthropy. Epitaph, their second and last studio album from 2004, is considered an early demise for the band—started in 1992—who seemed to have further to drive. Necrophagist’s proficiency resonates with tech nerds while the utter visceral rage will allow any fan to indulge in the pure death metal. Epitaph is an extremely respected album, with the musicianship of prog and jazz champions wrapped in a gory, catastrophic vision. Relapse helps the allure with a sexy orange/brown merge with white splatter vinyl, limited to 300, black vinyl, and newly printed tees rocking a sick logo. Out March 17.

Cynic: Uroboric Forms – The Complete Demo Recordings: Century Media Records

Without argument, Cynic are one of the most influential and respected death metal bands. Spawned in Florida in 1987, Cynic grasped onto a technical approach that remains unparalleled. Feb. 10 saw a new release of these early renditions of Cynic tracks so treasured by diehard fans. Century Media—Cynic’s home after many years on Season Of Mist—delicately handles the five vinyl colors: transparent red, white, golden, clear, and black. Century Media patches together 15 tracks, some with Brian DeNeffe vocal auditions. We see demos from 1989 to 1992, cultivating tracks from the band’s four early demos, including one for Roadrunner Records. The stellar production here brings a strong punch without sacrificing the early energy of this monumental band.

Today Is The Day: Temple of the Morning Star: The End Records

The End Records—responsible for those beautiful Agalloch reissues—are unleashing one of the most iconic records in heavy music for its 20th birthday. Not simply loud, not just heavy, Temple of the Morning Star is an aggressive, antagonistic record. Today Is The Day had three LPs—on Amphetamine Reptile—in five years and debuted on Relapse Records in 1997 with this monolithic album. Vocalist and guitarist Steve Austin and company impressed and frightened peers and new listeners. Their audio attack—as with Neurosis, Unsane, or Melvins—was calculated and organic. The paradox stemmed from their challenging influences of punk, metal, and psychedelic rock. Samples and piercing riffs combined to present an album that transcended heavy songwriting. The release is slated for March 24, remastered on two-CD and two-LP formats, and features exclusive, never-before-seen or heard bonus material to total 32 tracks over 108 minutes. This is more than a record: it’s a punishing journey, a séance, a ceremony of disgust and chaos.

Scream: No More Censorship: Southern Lord Recordings

Among all the doom, drone, and black metal, Southern Lord’s reissues of Poison Idea, Brotherhood, and Uniform Choice prove their love for hardcore can be as ardent as the evil and sinister metal the usually peddle. Southern Lord continue promoting amazing rebirths of new legacies. These reissues have been tirelessly thorough. Now, Virginia’s Scream are bestowed the vinyl honor for their 1988 release No More Censorship. In the early ‘80s, Scream’s fast harDCore was impressive, but as the salad days wilted, bands moved into different sounds. By 1988, Scream—then with Dave Grohl—were creating a pounding of weird metallic groove skate punk, following bands like T.S.O.L., Suicidal Tendencies, Agent Orange, and Effigies. But those changes brought with them a tight, clean production, challenging songwriting, and superior musicianship. No More Censorship is passionate punk even if it lacks the raw chaos of 1981.

Unearthed from the original multitrack sessions, Southern Lord had them baked and prepped for a remix at Grohl’s Studio 606. Southern Lord will revamp and reinvent the inlay, photos, and presentation. Aside from the lyrics, the spirit of this album will also be seen in other unreleased photos and poetry and prose from the members. This new document will hold intense treasures for fans, old and new and undiscovered. As No More Censorship takes its new form, Scream are protesting the inauguration of Donald Trump with a previously-unreleased track, “Politics Is Entertainment,” which was issued through a newly-constructed video by guitarist Franz Stahl. The reissue will be out this summer.


Xibalba: Diablo, Con Amor… Adios: Closed Casket Activities

Pomona, California’s bastards, Xibalba, are teasing us with three new joints on this brand new 7”. Closed Casket Activities released Diablo, Con Amor… Adios on Feb. 17. Xibalba continue their death metal-driven hardcore in their quest to resonate alongside the heaviest of bands. This 7” mesmerizes vinyl hoarders with electric blue with olive/blue splatter, orange with bronze splatter, and solid electric blue color schemes. These songs come across slightly more polished in production, but still drop-tune your ass off with mosh parts for all who dare.

Fucked Up: Year of the Snake: Tankcrimes

In the beginning, Fucked Up played short hardcore songs with sincere defiance. By their second album, Hidden Life, that approach had grown weary. I remember thinking that five- to six-minute songs couldn’t embody punk. One, I was wrong. Two, who gives a fuck? As Fucked Up moved forward with sporadic releases, various limited runs and splits, and challenging full-lengths, they expanded definitions of genres and relayed a forsaken attempt at classification. Their instrumentation and expansive narratives have embraced varied approaches and benchmarks. They also shared the wealth by releasing records on different labels, from punk stalwarts to indie imprints. Their main home these days is Matador, but this additional installment of their Year of the… series puts Fucked Up back at Tankcrimes.

Pick it up on March 14 to round out your collection of previous releases: Year of the Dog (Block’s Recording Club, 2006), Year of the Pig (What’s Your Rupture, 2008), Year of the Rat (What’s Your Rupture, 2008), Year of the Ox (Merge, 2010), Year of the Tiger (Matador, 2012), Year of the Dragon (Tankcrimes, 2014), and Year of the Hare (Deathwish Inc., 2015).

Fucked Up might still make a few short tracks these days, but most of the Year of the… series is based on songs that clock in at around 10, 12, 16, or even 20 minutes. Year of the Snake boasts a staggering 24-minute title track, backed with the 6-minute “Passacaglia.” The CD will also contain a bonus track—the 5-minute “Year of the Snake (Container Remix)”—which also comes with mail order copies of the 12” on a bonus flexi disc. The main release will be available on picture disc, splatter vinyl, or black vinyl versions. This release finds Fucked Up expanding boundaries with electronic music and third eye-exploring tales.

Dashboard Confessional: Covered + Taped: Self-released

Dashboard Confessional announced a tour for 2017, and the majority of the dates immediately sold out. So, as a nod of appreciation, frontman Chris Carrabba covered four tracks that he felt were important and stirring. Defying any genre allegiance, Carrabba pulls from a wide spectrum. Covered + Taped includes The 1975’s “Sex,” Julien Baker’s “Sprained Ankle,” Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself,” and Sorority Noise’s “Using.” Carrabba’s interpretations are sparse and melodic, layered vocals and acoustic evoking somber feelings even out of the Bieber tune. The distant “Sex” is unsettling, while Sorority Noise’s “Using” beckons Elliott Smith and Bright Eyes and Johnny Cash, the cold echo of Carrabba’s guitar bandying with coarse crooning. The vocalist explained in a statement, “These are some songs I feel very connected to right now. Enough so that I felt I had a way of making them my own in some small way.” The EP is available only on Spotify.


Sleater-Kinney: Live in Paris: Sub Pop Records

Since 1994, Olympia, Washington’s Sleater-Kinney inspired legions of fans and musicians with the caustic slang and rambunctious punk of Riot Grrrl. The scene was empowering for women without subduing its members with chains of folk or indie fetters. This collection of tracks come from a show on March 20, 2015, at La Cigale in Paris. The band harvest gems from their indie darling years spent on Kill Rock Stars and Sub Pop. Live in Paris captures fan favorites like “What’s Mine Is Yours,” “I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone,” “Jumpers,” “No Cities To Love,” “Entertain,” and closers “Dig Me Out” into “Modern Girl.” The vinyl is on black and the Loser Edition Clear Glass color. It was released on Jan. 27, also on digital, CD, and cassette.


In The Company Of Serpents: Ain-Soph Aur: Self-released

Though it’s not a reissue or an EP, In The Company Of Serpents are releasing an extremely impressive package for their new full-length. This Denver doom duo—yes, duo—delivers drudging, heavy songs. They take their time to perform elaborate sections of thick sludgy perfection on Ain-Soph Aur. A year ago, they released the highly-acclaimed EP, Merged in Light. The two dudes—vocalist and guitarist Grant Netzorg and drummer Joseph Weller Myer—extract mountainous tracks, gargantuan riffs, and wisely constructed sections of movements. According to their Bandcamp page, Ain-Soph Aur will be released on a limited 100 copies on fiery red and yellow 12” virgin vinyl.

Each Deluxe Package includes: one hand-printed, numbered, and signed block print by Grant Netzorg; two enamel pins and two embroidered pleather patches of the Flaming Sword and Serpent of Wisdom A side and B side artwork; and one printed record tote bag.

All of the Deluxe Package contents are exclusive. The outer sleeve features white-on-white spot gloss printing and a die-cut stencil of the band’s cross sigil. The artwork is by Mike Lawrence. Purchase also includes a digital preorder of Ain-Soph Aur. Fifty Deluxe Packages will be made available online, with the other 50 to be reserved for the album release party on March 31 at the Bluebird Theater in Denver.

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