The Shortlist: Demos, EPs, Splits and Reissues (Issue 36)


Bastardhammer / Violation Wound: Split: HPGD

On Oct. 13, combative U.K. malcontents, Bastardhammer, returned to join Violation Wound in misanthropic revelry. Bastardhammer use heavy riffs and thick production to churn out a chaotic blend of punk, sludge, and powerviolence. Dual vocals—one low and one high-pitched and raspy—attack your ears and all good sensibilities as they ravage six tracks. Titles like “Wankerfight” and “The Stink of Failure” are funny as hell while ripping tons of crushing yet danceable parts. Violation Wound are the punk band of Chris Reifert from death metal icons, Autopsy. The metallic crunch of Reifert’s six strings still hit like concrete here. Fun to see him outside the rigors of death metal. Drums blaze and the bass gets to meander and add some twang. Think Inepsy, Accused, or D.R.I. Seven tracks of low-tone skate trash go by quickly. Solid. –Hutch

Madball / Wisdom In Chains: Family Biz: Fast Break! Records

Two of the hardest working bands in hardcore released a tantalizing split 7” on Sept. 25 just to let you know they are still coming hard. Honest. Sincere. Committed. Consistent. Madball and Wisdom In Chains hold it down with a track each until Madball’s full-length comes out in 2018. Madball’s side comes packed with their revered energy. “For the Cause” continues their legacy of heavy, metallic New York hardcore. It’s an empowering track forged in determination. The flipside is blessed by the Pennsylvania hardcore champs, Wisdom In Chains, and as a bonus, Mad Joe shares the mic with Freddy Madball on “Someday.” Mad Joe’s gift to the hardcore community has always been his raw, personal lyrics, contemplating what a man’s legacy will be while a solid melodic guitar line rides over rough, beastly rhythms.

Four series of 100 pressed: gold with heavy black splatter; opaque grey with 14 cloudy clear; opaque grey and black, half and half; and transparent blue with orange. Two series of 200 on gold—a Cortex Records exclusive—and opaque blue—a Reality Records exclusive. Also available are 700 on black and an undisclosed number on Nuke Green, a Nuclear Blast exclusive. –Hutch


Freedom: Never Had a Choice: Triple B Records

Freedom are here again, repping that new era of Detroit hardcore. They mix demo-era Cold As Life and Negative Approach with The Abused, SSD, Agnostic Front, and Necros to kick up dirt. They fit right in with the NWOBHC and others like Boston Strangler, Fury, Pure Disgust, and Red Death. Thrash riffs and dive-bombs sneak into their “short, fast, loud” hardcore. Freedom are tough as nails with lyrics that are anti-system, anti-cops, anti-society. After two prized EPs and a great 2015 LP, USA Hardcore, Freedom returned to Triple B records on Sept. 15 with Never Had A Choice. This five-track EP is bare-bones hardcore punk made for “enthusiastic” dancing, available in 15 test pressings, 200 clear yellow, 500 brown, and 800 black. –Hutch

Tombstalker: Chaotic Devotion: Boris Records

If you have never associated Lexington, Kentucky, with black metal, you will now. After the amazing 2015 Black Crusades LP, we get a tease of Tombstalker’s maddening precision with two tracks on Chaotic Devotion. Tight production on precise songwriting finds this trio combining d-beat punk, first-wave black metal, and Swedish death metal to nasty perfection. Staggering solos rage while the drumming is surely the grindcore-level backbone. Released on Sept. 19 on black vinyl via Atlanta’s Boris Records, home of Hellgoat, Sadistic Ritual, and Cloak. –Hutch


Neurosis: The Word as Law: Neurot Recordings

For the younger fans: this is a different Neurosis. The same band, but a different sound. Not yet fueled by mind expansion, tonal movements, contemplative acoustics, and stage visuals, The Word as Law showcases a band in transition. This is a young quartet digesting crust punk values, DIY Bay Area ideals, and a growing itch to eviscerate musical boundaries. Their first album with Steve Von Till, The Word as Law is still a raw, calculating punk album: visceral emotions roiling. “To What End?” could be the blueprint to most ‘90s vegan straight edge metalcore bands. “The Choice” rides a descending bassline along a monstrous hardcore melee. “Common Inconsistencies” continues this, mixed now with the bass up front and heavy guitars all clamoring together. The drums bang out rhythms of speed and gallops succinctly.

The original album was released in 1990 on Lookout! Records, while the reissue arrived on Aug. 25 via the band’s own Neurot Recordings. The Word as Law shows Neurosis channeling New York hardcore, D.C. punk, Voivod, Amebix, and more. “This 2017 Neurot reissue of The Word as Law will bear the album’s initial eight tracks, all completely remastered by Bob Weston at Chicago Mastering,” according to Earsplit PR. “Additionally, the album’s cover artwork has been reworked and modernized by Neurosis’ former live visual architect Josh Graham.” Available in 1818 on clear 180-gram vinyl, a U.S. exclusive; 1315 on grey 180-gram vinyl, a U.K and E.U. exclusive; 508 on black 180-gram vinyl; and 520 on Blood Red 180-gram vinyl, the Neurot Recordings mail order exclusive. –Hutch

Revocation: Existence Is Futile: Metal Blade Records

Revocation’s second full-length is revered. Admired and lauded, Revocation cemented their footprint as leaders in the tech-death charge. When Relapse Records signed these dudes, skeptics surfaced loudly. They were silenced. Revocation ran 2009 with thrash-lightning riffs and technical prowess. Classics like “Deathonomics” and “Re-AniManiac” proved that they were improving. Their toil on Existence is Futile is finally available on vinyl, released Oct. 6. Before only on CD, turntables begged for this. Metal Blade reinvents the rainbow with 500 on amber marble, 200 on pastel orange, and 100 on green, all U.S. exclusives, and 400 on 180-gram black vinyl, 200 on pale golden yellow, and 100 on clear orange, all E.U. exclusives. –Hutch

Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats: Vol. 1: Rise Above Records

Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats’ debut record—which was originally released on Friday, Feb. 13, 2010, the same day as Black Sabbath’s debut LP 40 years earlier—has now gotten the reissue treatment courtesy of Rise Above on Friday, Oct. 13. Uncle Acid main man Kevin R Starrs said it was finally time to give this album its proper due. “We only made 30 or so copies on CDR back in 2010, so it’s never been released properly, and the fans have been asking for it every year since,” Starrs says. “Until this year, I just haven’t had the time to work on it, but I knew I wanted to take a break from touring in 2017, so it was the perfect opportunity to finally remix it. It’s a really good album, so I’m glad it will finally get a proper release.”

In addition, the reissue boasts enhanced sound, even if Starrs decided to keep some of its quirks. “Well, it’s finally mastered for a start,” he says. “I didn’t have the money to get it done back then. In terms of the remix, I made some small panning changes on one or two songs, and I had to do some EQ work on certain instruments in places. The main problem throughout was the gain staging, where we had digital clipping on certain tracks that just sounded wrong. Analog distortion is great, and we pushed the analog pre amps hard when we recorded the tracks, but unfortunately, when it was converted into a digital signal, we were running far too hot. Just lack of experience, but this caused all kinds of horrible digital distortion. So, I had to deal with that. It’s still very raw and distorted, but now, without the digital harshness. There were also a few clicks and digital noises that I removed—which shouldn’t have been there, but I didn’t have the equipment to fix at the time. I kept in the occasional sound of lyric papers being turned as it adds to the charm.”

In fact, Starrs is quite proud of his first foray under the Uncle Acid moniker. “I think it’s great and holds up very well. Every album that we’ve done has its own fan base. There’s some people that will tell you this was the best album we’ve made, then there are others who hate it,” Starrs admits. “It’s got some of my favorite tracks on it, so I’ve always had a soft spot for it.”

It’s also the perfect album to feed your jones during the Halloween season. If any band lends themselves to the spookiness of the season, it’s Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats. The rerelease date is perfect. Their aesthetic and lyrical content fit perfectly with the type of movies we celebrate this time of year. In fact, this was Starrs’ aim all along. “I can’t really explain it, but I’ve always liked the atmosphere a lot of those old B movies have,” he says. “In some ways, I’ve tried to create a musical equivalent with grainy sound quality, sketchy storylines, and a certain level of DIY amateurism.” –Thomas Pizzola


Necrofulgurate: Putrid Veil: Caverna Abismal

Necrofulgurate unearthed Putrid Veil, a double cassette pack comprised of two prior demos, on Oct. 10 via Caverna Abismal. The one-man band was a short-lived entity whose sole purpose was to counter what he saw as a polished death metal scene. Four demo tracks add up to 18 minutes of ugly, vile, desolate music. The super low, guttural vocals are slow and indistinguishable, but the killer death metal beneath them shines—or, well, festers. Punishing death metal for fans of track titles such as “Cadaver Void Evisceration” and “Ripping Putrid Mortality.” Limited to 100 pressings. –Hutch

Rebel Wizard: The Warning of One: Prosthetic Records

Australia’s Rebel Wizard—purveyors of “negative metal”—returned on Aug. 18 with The Warning of One. The title is reflected in the four tracks: “One I Seek,” “One I Know,” “One I See,” and “One I Call.” The recipe is, once again, thunderous riffs, shrieking vocals, and foreboding samples, resulting in a mesh of ‘70s horror and blackened thrash. Rebel Wizard balance lo-fi production, precise drumming, and galactic solos. They have released four limited cassette EPs and one full-length, Triumph of Gloom, back in February. Rebel Wizard know you’re miserable and want to be the soundtrack. Daunting, burdensome metal pounds away at listeners’ wills. Limited-edition cassette of 150 worldwide. –Hutch


Alter Bridge: Live at the O2 Arena + Rarities: Napalm Records

Live at the O2 Arena is the perfect reminder of the power of good old-fashioned hard rock. Alter Bridge’s big riffs and bigger melodies are married perfectly on this live album from a 2016 set at London’s famed O2 Arena. The band’s 19-song set highlights their impressive catalog quite well, with stirring renditions of “Ties That Bind” and “Metalingus” showcasing the group’s metallic chops wonderfully. Though it’s vocalist and guitarist Myles Kennedy’s solo acoustic version of “Watch Over You” that’s the real stunner; it’s beautiful and haunting and transports the listener to the packed arena. The third disc features a set of previously unreleased rarities and serves as a nice bow on top of the whole impressive package. The three-CD earbook dropped Sept. 8. –Nicholas Senior

Paradise Lost: Live at the Roundhouse: Century Media Records

Legends. The U.K.’s Paradise Lost are seen as inventors—dubbed the Peaceville Three alongside Anathema and My Dying Bride—of death doom. Beginning in 1988, the solemn pairing of down-tuning and laborious—yet rewarding!—songs seemed like commercial suicide. But twisting Sabbathian embers with mournful vocals and poetic tapestries worked quite well. The audiences flocked. Paradise Lost flourished in their gothic summoning with the stellar guitar of Gregor Mackintosh and bellows and menacing snarls of Nick Holmes—both of whom excel in death metal side projects as well! The band continue to thrive, releasing killer LPs in 2012, Tragic Idol; 2015, The Plague Within; and 2017, dropping Medusa on Sept. 1.

The 14 songs on Live at the Roundhouse, over 71 minutes, reflect upon their conjured imagery of loss and regret that spawned a movement. This 25th anniversary show was rebirthed by Century Media, who committed this monument to sorrow to vinyl on Sept. 15. Live at the Roundhouse was recorded in London on Nov. 3, 2013, by Abbey Road Live. Catch this limited one-time pressing on 180-gram double-LP vinyl, all gatefold: 1300 on black; 200 on lilac; 200 on transparent yellow; and 300 on gold. –Hutch


The Jam: The Jam / 1977: Universal Music / Polydor Records

To put out one seminal album in a year is an outstanding feat for anyone—but two? In the same year? That’s an accomplishment only the greats can lay claim to: Led Zeppelin, Ramones, The Damned… Add to that illustrious list the pioneering Mod punk band, The Jam. The Jam / 1977—a massive five-disc box set released Oct. 20—marks the 40th anniversary of The Jam’s first two albums, In the City and This Is the Modern World. Included in the extensive set are remastered versions of the two albums, a vast array of demos, live tracks, 1977-era John Peel Sessions, and a DVD. The release also includes a whopping 144-page book replete with liner notes, photos, and more. –Janelle Jones

Lydia Loveless: Boy Crazy and Single(s): Bloodshot Records

Columbus, Ohio’s Lydia Loveless delivered the follow-up to her critically acclaimed 2016 full-length, Real, in the form of Boy Crazy and Single(s) on Oct. 13. The collection—which compiles the five-song Boy Crazy EP from 2013, six non-album singles, rarities, and covers of Prince, Elvis Costello, and Kesha—showcases her aptitude for delivering lovelorn, barn-burning, rock-infused alt-country that recalls everyone from Patsy Cline to Chrissie Hynde to Miley Cyrus. The collection is available on CD, digital, and LP formats, and the first vinyl pressing comes on transparent Beer Yellow colored wax. –Tim Anderl

U-Men: U-Men: Sub Pop Records

The U-Men played twisted and dark garage punk. Over the course of their existence from 1983 to 1989, they were one of the bright lights of the burgeoning Seattle scene. They definitely weren’t grunge—they broke up before the grunge explosion—but their approach to music made them one of the best bands in the Seattle underground at the time. However, one wonders how they would have fit in. Lucky for us, on Nov. 3, Sub Pop reissues all of the band’s recorded output as a three-LP box set in a cardboard slip case with printed inner sleeves and a 16-page booklet. In addition, there will be a two-CD digipack with custom dust sleeves, also featuring a 16-page booklet. And, of course, there is a digital option too. It’s time to revisit one of the unsung bands of Seattle music history. You won’t want to miss this release. –Thomas Pizzola


The Body & Full of Hell: Ascending a Mountain of Heavy Light: Thrill Jockey Records

The Body and Full Of Hell reunite after their first collabo, the spring 2016 cluster bomb of noise and disdain, One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache. The combo’s arsenal employs synths, computers, noise, screams, feedback, static, reverb, filters, pedals, and sometimes, guitars and drums. This discordant ensemble is emblematic of The Body’s—well, body of work, which includes a more doom and sludge-based collaboration with Thou. The Body’s chameleon adaptions reveal layers of their talent. On the other hand, Full Of Hell defy labels, but land in the vicinity of black metal meets grindcore.

The Result on Ascending a Mountain of Heavy Light, out Nov. 17, transcends expectations. “Didn’t the Night End” is a straight dark trip-hop beat with guitar feedback, live drums over machines, and black metal vocals from Full Of Hell’s Dylan Walker. The first single, “Earth Is a Cage,” eschews rhythm and cultivates discomfort and antagonism. “The King Laid Bare” boasts repetition that is stunning and enthralling, while “Our Love Conducted With Shields Aloft” is the prior’s antithesis, with an absence of structure or notes—just screaming and noise and free-spattering drums. “Master’s Story” has the same ingredients, save for the drums being catchy and rhythmic with precise execution. Traditional references like “Godflesh meets Dälek mixed with Fantômas” do not even graze this. It’s haunting. Heavy. Disruptive. Uncomfortable. And fucking brilliant. –Hutch

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