Behold, little ones! Your lamentations do not fall upon deaf ears. What started as a simple weekend investigation turned into a cross-dimensional goose chase, and upon my Return to the Swamp I find that the end of blog things has come and gone, and nobody told me.
The archives are intact, though. Sorry to leave you with such a shitty black metal record, but I'm pretty excited to sit down and sort out all these submissions from readers.
Those of you who've expressed interest in the field of parallel-universe record collecting, you're right, it should have been Lars.
Apologies for the unexplained absence for the preceding fortnight, gentle ones, but rest assured that posting will resume with gusto upon the arrival of the new year. In the meantime, share with me this horrid lump of coal that I found in my inbox. Another mad one man metal band in the mode of Brown Jenkins or Aarni, this Ygolonac seems fixated on the fictional grimoires of the Mythos, from what can be deciphered from the song titles and the band name. Ygolonac is the lord of the perverse and sadistic, the only Old One outside of insidious Nyarlathotep capable of taking human form, and notorious for the ravenous mouths screaming for blood from his palms and groin, traditionally cast in the role of curating the library of suppressed tomes which tend to drive mundane minds into madness. Ramsey Campbell's brutal and bitterly funny "Cold Print" is perhaps the finest Lovecraftian story produced in the seventies, and while the retro vibe of this nasty debut is probably meant to transcend time and space, I can sense a little disco cokestache under all the noise, maybe just slowed down 800x.
Yet another long-out-of-print soundtrack that has been repackaged several times in packages of dubious quality and legality, Ennio Morricone's Red Sonja is a haunting piece of majestic oddness. Combining the epic bombast required for the material with his usual penchant for strange sounds, nonsense vocals, and unusual instrumentation, Morricone deftly mixes with hordes of wind instruments with 80's synth pads, spooky choirs with thunderous junkyard timpani. I'm not positive which version we have here, and we are bereft of song titles, but it hardly matters; let the music entrance you, and pay no heed to the blade at your throat.
Well, Swamplings, I apologize for the brief lapse in posting once again, but I have squeezed out the end of another wild week and I should note that I might not have endured without the help of Yob's new album Atma. Yob is one of the longest running and most potent doom acts in the world, and remains a group of genuinely nice people amid a vast ocean of douchebaggery. I'm not going to post Atma - you should just go buy it - but instead have this first LP, another album that simultaneously encourages spiritual reflection while pelting the listener with anvils from space. I've been waiting all day to say this: Take this Yob and shove it
Well, we arrive at the 500th post and so I give you Rudimentary Peni's aptly titled Cacophony. Notable as not only one of the most vital and well known works of Lovecraftian music but also as one of the most insane, terrifying things ever committed to wax, it is largely responsible for my fascination with the Mythos and therefore for the existence of this Swamp. A sharp departure from the band's bleak anarcho-punk sound and long held to be an account of Peni frontman Nick Blinko losing his mind, these songs seem like random fragments stitched together and pasted to a padded wall inside a cell.
There a hints of punk and hardcore, shimmering instrumental exploration, drinking songs, collages of mad noise, multi-tracked gibbering, morbid story-songs, threatening doggerel, and references to (and jokes about) nearly every facet of Lovecraft's work. Much of this is driven by Blinko's horrific vocals, which range from cheeseball operatics to metallic growls, from snotty punk taunting to inhuman gurgling, often simultaneously. Famously, one interlude is composed of a choir of clacking, gnashing teeth; another is a melange of wheezes and death rattles. It's hard to believe it all came from one man. The album is overstuffed, impenetrable, and baroque, in sharp contrast with the minimalist path the band followed afterwards - it's as if all the horrid knowledge in the universe flooded out from between Blinko's jaws.
The Mummies were the ultimate lo-fi garage punk noise act, partially a nutty monster novelty group but also the best band playing in the style, hands down. There's a lot more than just caveman rock here too: surf, bluesy vamps, biker anthems, spooky haunted house themes, instructional dance numbers, and frat rock classics, all smashed up into one glorious fucked up mess. This first LP is only the beginning of a long stretch of classic material, but it's as good a place to start as any.
The great grandaddy of all horrorcore rap, Gravediggaz' 6 Feet Deep fused the skewed, dusty funk of Wu-Tang onto Addams Family organ and a lyrical prediliction for horror theatrics, although in contrast to what followed, many of the songs are tongue-in-cheek, goofy, and digressive. Containing two members of hip-hop veterans Stetsasonic and RZA from the newly-famous Wu-Tang Clan, plus the late Poetic, they initially formed after being screwed by Tommy Boy records in various ways. What at first was a one-off spleen venting became a movement in underground hip-hop, with a legion of horror obsessed freaks taking to the 808 and mirroring the rise of underground death metal in the early and mid-nineties. I've made a little game lately of comparing landmark albums in the respective genres; let's call this one Mental Funeral.
Here's another one that helped cultivate the Swamp we lurk in: Feel the Darkness by Poison Idea. One of the few hardcore to bands to be legitimately terrifying in their day, Poison Idea consistently put out the best and toughest records of any punk band for years, peaking with this one. Lacing their sinister, complex hardcore with greasy blues and classic rock riffs, they practically kick their way into the room through your speakers, stomping all over your shitty record collection. Singer Jerry A. tackles what seems to be the day-to-day grind for the band: drugs, crime, cops, and alienation, and behind the punk doggerel he sneaks in quite a bit of bleak poetry. Literally, the heaviest band on the planet.
Another crucial piece of your narrator's youth - Deicide's Legion is a classic or crazy, evil death metal merging cartoon Satanism, Lovecraftian cosmic horror, and a level of heaviness heretofore unheard. The track "Dead but Dreaming" is an important piece on the map of Lovecraftian metal, one of the best known and earliest. Legion clocks in at just under thirty minutes, but packs more brutality and nihilism into that short time than a dozen albums by lesser bands. It's easy to forget in light of later shenanigans, but at one time Deicide was the evilest, hardest band in the world.
Counting down to my 500th post and perusing the archives lately has brought to light some glaring oversights, albums I haven't posted yet that form the backbone of my musical taste. Many of these (this one included) have remained un-posted because I listen to them so much that I can't imagine life without them.
The first one that came to mind was The Evil One, the most well known and arguably the best album by Roky Erickson. I have posted many Roky albums here before and casually assumed that anyone perusing my little Swamp would at least have a passing familiarity with the man. A huge percentage of albums on here are directly influenced by him, and many others have a spiritual kinship in their themes of paranormal phenomena, struggles with madness, and weird gibberish.
Lyrically, Roky draws from vintage horror movies and urban legends as much as he uses early rock n' roll's predilection for mantra-like refrains and cribbed blues motifs. Musically, it's basically Buddy Holly and Bo Diddley squeezed through a proto-punk meat grinder. Creedence Clearwater Revival's Stu Cook played bass on and produced much of this album, lending a layer of cosmic hillbilly mystique to a record already doomed to obscurity.
Of course now Roky is known as an essential part of any rock fan's collection and he continues to produce new material, against all odds, but this is the pinnacle.
From deep within the swirling mad vortex that calls itself Italian Black Metal, Necromass mixes in some primitive death and doom sounds with their typically melodramatic hate opera. The over-the-top foppery of most Italian metal is subdued here, replaced with a cool restraint that makes the wilder moments that much more potent. Much of the album grooves along at a nice mid-tempo gallop, punctuated by twin leads and unpredictable mood swings. Vocalist Charles Blasphemy (what a name) growls with gusto as well, more in the style of the Swedish death scene than the typical second-wave tortured wail. Another forgotten treasure from the underworld, brought to you with nothing but contempt and malice.
It shall be duly noted that all sounds contained within, whether sublime or most horrible, remain solely for the purposes of research and shall not be transmitted onto any other frequency. All responsibility lies, once this narrow threshold is crossed, with you, gentle reader. I shall do my best to assist your journey should things go awry, but be forewarned: This way lies madness.