Thursday, December 30, 2010

This is Howlin' Wolf's new album...

Well, it's been a long and grueling week here in the Swamp, and it's not over yet, no sir. All throughout my labors today I fantasized about diving into a frigid booze ocean and absorbing large quantities of it via osmosis, whilst pontificating about a weighty wonderful album and thus grinding the jagged edges of reality down into tolerable squishy nudges. Now that my daily duties have been fulfilled and I sit down before you, I have no idea which record I was daydreaming about, and all of the elaborate sentences I constructed in my mind have evaporated. Ah well, so what?

Here's an interesting one though: Aging bluesman Howlin' Wolf, once a larger-than-life figure of menace and mystery among his inferiors, is by 1970 frail and sickly. His longtime rival/labelmate Muddy Waters has released the transcendent "Electric Mud," a wild psychedelic rejiggering of his old standards with a hungry young whiteboy band, to critical disdain and large piles of cash money. Their label, the once-vital Chess, is struggling to stay afloat and, energized by that success, forces its other surviving 800 lb. gorilla into the same corner. This is the result.

Much has been said about this, from the predictable purist sneering to the retroactive acclaim of figures like Chuck D (who claimed both records as early influences). Personally, I take comfort in it and find myself drawn to it after long stretches of work, angst, and hollowness. Wolf may have claimed to hate it, but he sounds like he's having a blast. He recorded a similar, tighter session in London two years later with a much more unsavory psych band that included racist douchebag Eric Clapton, "fusion" pioneer Steve Winwood, and the rhythm section of original blues biters the Rolling Stones. Muddy and Chuck Berry, both quickly overcoming their skepticism when faced with sizable percentages, would do the same. History bends in strange curves in the wake of these albums, in retrospect, but I stand in defiance of those who say this one is an empty cash-in or a novelty.

"Why don't you take them wah-wahs and all that other shit and go throw it off in the lake — on your way to the barber shop?"

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Darkthrone - Too Old Too Cold

Still buried in the snow here in the Swamp, and the whiskey is running out. The mood is right for this EP by the mighty Darkthrone, which marked the first threads of punk weaving through their sound. Desperation, dehydration, cabin fever, and righteous indignation are the order of the day.
Second to none
Like an angel unfucking born
Down with people

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Massaker - First Attack

A charming little demo from Brazilian retro thrash unit Massaker - lots to like here. Shades of Nuclear Assault, Bathory, Sarcafago, The Accused, Septic Death maybe...
I can't determine from the burbly lyrics and vague Metallum page but I believe these young lads might be Christians as well, which would just be the icing on the comedy cake here, believe me. Even if it's not true, this is a primitive and ugly chronicle of adolescent war on society (complete with theme song), exactly as it should be. Take a look at this photo and judge not, lest ye be judged...
Massaker Attack!

Monday, December 27, 2010


Another lost little gem of female-fronted witchy doom, Mourn can be seen as a forerunner to the style that Jex Thoth, Blood Ceremony, Windhand, and The Devil's Blood are toiling over their cauldrons for today. Lately I just can't get enough of this stuff and this early example, circa 1995, is like a beacon out of time. It is unfortunate that this ensemble called it quits immediately after this release, as they clearly were bursting with ideas and energy - a few more albums and they maybe could've been as important and influential as your Sleeps or your Electric Wizards. Still, we have this to entrance and seduce us.
Forever more.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Radio Birdman - Radios Appear

A classic first LP by legendary Sydney punkers Radio Birdman, Radios Appear is a whirlwind ride of surf guitars, psychedelic angst, and adventurous weirdness. Along with the Saints, Radio Birdman rescued the Austrailian music world from mediocrity and birthed a nationwide scene in a few short years. They were all dark sunglasses, swagger and sweat, twang and tweak. And there's a Roky Erickson cover!
Aloha Douchebags!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Attack of the One Man Bands

What we have here is just what it says on the box: two cds of one man bands (non black metal variety), almost sixty songs, for the low low price of your soul. Most of these characters are of the Hasil Adkins school of slightly inept hillbilly rock n' roll, although many of them are surely not real hillbillies. Ah, who cares though, looking at the list of names is like perusing a roster of low-rent villains: Al Foul, Toothless George, Chuck Violence, Guitar Fucker, Uncle Butcher, etc. Not a huge amount of variety here, as it's a pretty narrow sub-genre, but like your solitary bedroom black metal grinches it's more about passion and emotion than writing songs or learning to play.
Music for the Asses.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The True Endless - In the Swamp

Another fine entry in God Is Myth's low-print run Lovecraft series, this time some black metal from the void of space from the mysterious The True Endless. Structured around Lovecraft's short story Polaris, a dreamlike tale of a mysterious city whose gilded domes conceal dark secrets, this short release is over almost before it began, lingering hauntingly in the mind even after the details have begun to bleed.
Slumber, watcher, till the spheres,
Six and twenty thousand years
Have revolv'd, and I return
To the spot where now I burn.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Death Dealers

Speaking of morbid, here's something so twisted that it might make you a bad person just for listening to it, let alone posting it on your blog thing. This is a compilation of country and punk music about serial killers, interspersed with interviews with actual serial killers. Unfortunately (or perhaps not), this version isn't entirely complete: interviews with John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and Albert DeSalvo were scrambled in the great hard drive crash of 2010, and unsurprisingly I can't find this anywhere else on the internet. All of the songs are present, however, from Red River Dave's laid back "California Hippie Murders" to The Bugs' disgustingly sincere twin odes to DeSalvo's Boston Strangler incarnation. I really can't condone this, but it's a fascinating document. Make of it what you will.
Do you think I'm psycho, Mama?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Joseph Spence - Happy All the Time

A bit of a palate cleanser here for you after all that morbidity from last week. Joseph Spence is the most famous proponent of the Bahamian guitar style, a mixture of American blues and pop with calypso and wild improvisation. A large part of his appeal, aside from the deft and circular guitar playing, is his voice: a gravelly, gurgling rasp spit out in bursts of scatting gibberish, garbled English, girlish high-pitched wailing, deep epiglottal humming, and the occasional mad roar. It's infectious in its subtle charming madness, teasing parts of your brain that might not get much of a workout if you just sit around and listen to heavy metal all the time, you grumpy bastard!
Out On The Rolling Sea

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Judas Iscariot - To Embrace the Corpses Bleeding

Last day of Blind Dead Week here in the Swamp, so let's get down to business. This one may be a bit of a stretch: you have to squint a bit to convince yourself that's a Templar on the cover, and maybe some sort of ship's rigging, and though some of the songs obviously involve the undead, they're no lyric sheet so we can't be more specific. Oh well, it was either this or another Hooded Menace album, so humor me.

That said, we have another black metal thunderstorm here, suitably epic and magisterial, from crucial American band Judas Iscariot. You know the drill: whistling winds, blast beats, croaked cryptic vocals, bumblebee guitars - all of them of the highest caliber, the panache of their performance counterbalancing the lack of exotic ingredients. Charmingly they've left some tape errors remain on the tape rather than digitally correcting them, adding an extra layer of texture and character as well.
The Dead Burst Forth From Their Tombs

Friday, December 17, 2010

Uruk-Hai - Unholy Medieval Congregation

Another Spanish ensemble here, playing some raw and ragged black metal unburdened by progressivism or beauty. This is no-frills old school meat-and-potatoes blackness. Uruk-Hai's album from this year, "Archi Catedra Nigra Diaboli," explores similar themes (including the delightfully ESL "The Night of Skeletons Dead Monks") and is worth seeking out if you enjoy this, but I had to go with this one because of that cover.
Last day of Blind Dead Week is tomorrow; I'd better come up with something good, eh?
Under the Embrace of the Black Plague

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Buried at Sea - Ghost

Here's another fine example of the fact that "EPs" by doom metal bands are longer than many people's albums. In fact, what we have here, despite its thirty minute running time, is one song stretched to span an ocean. I have no idea what the lyrical subject matter may be, but as the vocals only bob to the surface around halfway and mostly vanish thereafter, we're obviously more concerned here with atmosphere and menace. While quite heavy in parts, there are stretches of grainy static punctuated by clanging bells, chirping noise, and distant footsteps in the sand. To me this is evocative of later Blind Dead films Ghost Galleon and Night of the Seagulls, both of which are sluggishly paced but punctuated by genuine moments of repulsive horror. Plus, we have this beautiful cover art to hint at what is entombed herein.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hooded Menace - The Eyeless Horde

As the sun sets on day four of Blind Dead Week, Finland's Templars of Doom, Hooded Menace, lurch forth from their crypts to sniff out your blood. Splitting the difference between the solemn pace of this week's doomier entries and the feverish lurch of yesterday's entry, the band maintains a fairly steady mid-paced gallop, like the spellbinding last reel in La Noche del Terror Ciego where our monks overtake their prey on horseback. These monsters have been responsible for two of the best metal LPs of the last few years, both of them accordingly NOTBD-related, but it all began with this grim seven inch record. As a bonus we also have the werewolf ode "Fulfill the Curse," the title cut off their first long-player.
Virgin Sacrifice Grants Us Life Beyond the Grave

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Machetazo - Sinfonías Del Terror Ciego

Day Three of Blind Dead Week brings us a nasty little slab of grind sickness from countrymen of de Ossorio and his eyeless Templars, the mighty Machetazo. This album is a front-to-back dedication to the movies; every song elaborates on the central concept in raspy, slobbery Español. It's impossible not to be charmed by this band, especially if you're a fan of their compatriots on Razorback Records - it's filler free but with a few choice samples, it mixes up their death-grind style with doom flirtations and grim galloping, and it's simultaneously dead serious and cheekily off-the-cuff. They make it look effortless, in other words. Do check out the rest of their extensive discography for songs about wendigo and organ harvesting and other delights.
Sin Ojos

Monday, December 13, 2010

Cathedral - Gargoylian

I'm sure Cathedral is familiar to many readers of this site, and I'll not bother with their considerable history in the doom universe tonight. One of my favorite things about this particular group is the scope of their lyrics: surreal unicorn fantasy, apocalyptic doom-crying, occult opaqueness, horror movie cheese, gleeful nonsense, etc. They have composed several songs related to this week's theme, Zombie Templars, but this relatively hard-to-find single is the only one to forgo their usual whimsical nightmare artwork for a film still of the infamous robed revenants. Side one, the title cut, is a mountain of a song, seemingly becoming ever slower as it progresses. Side two, "Earth in the Grip of a Skeletal Hand," is our theme song/ surprise for today however, a sludgy punkish anachronism two or three times the average speed of a normal Cathedral composition! Madness! Nonetheless, a vital addition to our library, and a furious spasm of foulness in its own right.
The morgue receives the victims of the Blind Dead.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Moss - Tombs of the Blind Drugged

Salutations, worm food! Welcome to day one of Blind Dead Week, in which I will post seven (or more) albums of undead Templar music in tribute to Amando de Ossorio's four part series of Spanish zombie mayhem. Today's special is from British super-sludge band Moss, and it creeps along at the torturous, measured pace of marching skeletal feet, creeping ever-so-slowly after you, tireless. Containing four songs in forty unbearable minutes, including a flayed-open Discharge cover, this is considered by the band to be an EP. Much more hooded horror to come this week, boys and girls, so stay tuned.
Blind terror strikes fear into the hearts of innocent people.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Feederz - Teachers in Space

Boom! This is the second album by notorious Arizona punk contras The Feederz, widely reviled because of their confrontational Situationist pose, their antagonism towards their peers, and their grating, exhausting music. Less talked about than their stellar debut, "Ever Feel Like Killing Your Boss?," this LP is stranger and more uneven, with two intro tracks and a song from the "Alice in Wonderland" soundtrack opening the record before things fully get into gear. Various other intentionally confounding moments occur throughout, but then we also have moments of pure creepy joy like the Manson-stare love song "Crawlspace," a black comedy mutation of "Sixteen Tons," and the gleeful revenge fantasy "Taking the Night." Obnoxious front man Frank Discussion pioneered the whole righteous-ideopathic-anger-devolved-into-dada-nonsense arc a decade before Born Against or Rush Limbaugh.
Golden Venus Jim Beam Leisure World

Friday, December 10, 2010

Morbid Angel - Gateways to Annihilation

Sadly, swamplings, I have little time to expound the virtues of this album at length. Alas, I shall be content to say that Morbid Angel's underrated sixth LP palpably oozes Lovecraftian dread from every pore. Much of the doom-leaning music concerns itself with forms of summoning and transcending thresholds and that sort of thing. Prime Swamp material, rest assured.
Humans, I shall feast upon your ignorance.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Memphis Swamp Jam

If you're anything like me, you're already bored of knuckleheaded debate about the state of heavy metal in the year of 2010, you're out of patience with hipsters flinging the h-word at other hipsters, you're alienated by narcissism, petty irrelevant snark, humorless niggling about sound quality, and sub-relevant sub-genre Asperger's syndrome. Here's my advice: who cares?

What you're lacking is perspective: all of those records are shit, and they'll probably play one you hate at your funeral. You've spent your whole life working towards this scholarly multi-syllabic mode of criticism, and yet every goddamn day you've gotta get up and shrug your tension-knotted shoulders and declare your correctness to the world, like you're not gonna be embarrassed by it next year.

It's not like I have answers to all your shitty little life problems, but it might behoove you to just sit down for a minute and not make everything into a list or an argument or a pretend offense. Listen to Booker White, Furry Lewis, Fred McDowell. Listen to songs of death, booze, trains, prison, love, and dancing. Just please, stop your fucking complaining.
Keep your jank trimmed and burning.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Devil's Blood - The Graveyard Shuffle

This is the debut seven inch from modern occult rock combo The Devil's Blood, a witchy, psychedelic throwback to pre-metal and proto-metal bands who embraced the left hand path such as Coven, Black Widow, Blue Oyster Cult, Roky Erickson, and Lucifer's Friend. The two songs present here are candle-lit cemetery seductions, siren songs filtered through the smoke of noxious herbs, with grave dirt caked in the crannies. This year's long player by the group, The Time of No Time Evermore, is one of the most played in Casa Alhazred; if you aren't under its spell, perhaps now is the time. Fans of Jex Thoth, Blood Ceremony, and Ghost will lap this up most lasciviously.
In the light of a thousand flames
I call thee by secret names

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Vanquished - Habitual Severity

I can't seem to locate much information regarding this Canadian black metal act, but no matter: the music speaks for itself. Much of this album consists of fairly standard-issue black metal blasts, but the careful listener will discern subtle shifts in the chaos that slowly weave a tapestry of crystalline melody - it's like tectonic plates colliding underneath a glacier. In the absence of a lyric sheet, one must absorb the meaning through osmosis. Luckily the music is melodically evocative and clear enough to invoke images of chthonian beings encased in ice, of bending horizons and the whisper of the wendigo.
Amidst the Trees of Woe and Lament

Monday, December 6, 2010

BLO - Phase II

Well, wee one, it's still lashing snow and sleet against my window outside, still bone-chilling and grim, but let's try a different tactic than yesterday. One of psychedelia's earliest worldwide converts, Nigeria's BLO fused Cream-style power trio trippiness, James Brown's brand of lean funk, and their native rhythms into a sweaty, clattering whole. This is their second LP, obviously, heavier and funkier than the airy debut and less weird than the third, although side B does get pretty far out. This is a much different sound than the burgeoning Zamrock scene, nor is it connected to Fela Kuti's transcendental seance-funk or the Nuggets-style garage rock scene rumbling on the southern end of the continent. This is pure sub-Saharan alchemy, high-minded and loose-limbed. Only the funk can keep away the cold.
Whole Lotta Shit

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Corrupted - El Mundo Frio

Behold, little one, it snows in the Swamp! As I huddle next to my tiny space heater and type with frostbitten tendrils, my sluggish brain refuses to spin in its skull. Perhaps the only answer is to post an album as glacial and frigid as my mind: El Mundo Frio. Japanese doom-mongers Corrupted released this master opus in 2005 - one seventy minute song, sung mostly in Spanish, concerning the coming of another ice age and the annihilation of all life on earth. Long instrumental passages of great beauty frame chunks of ugly squealing and thunderous cacophony, only to ebb back into near silence over time. Unlike many obscenely lengthy songs by similar bands, this is thoroughly through-composed, only repetitive in a broader, more abstract sense, and never boring. A remarkable, moving work, and an omen of things to come.
Hope is in the end of sky

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Crime - Piss On Your Turntable

From the mean streets of San Francisco, Crime only managed to put out three seven inch records during their chaotic late 70's career, but after they imploded, a flood of bootlegs hit the market as testimony to their memorable, sexy/sketchy sound and snarling swagger. On this particular one we have those records, the unreleased LP "San Francisco's Doomed," and a cassette demo. Crime were seedy drug-addled leatherboys in cop drag, with beady eyes hidden behind mirrored shades and more forward inertia than competence. Notoriously, they once played a show at San Quentin wearing the same uniforms as the guards, to a less-than-delighted reaction from the inmates. More primitive hateful noise for all you ugly trolls.
Piss On Your Dog

Friday, December 3, 2010

Back From The Grave volume 1

This was the first in a series of LPs released by Crypt Records in the Nuggets mode - that is, collections of forgotten 45 rpm records by forgotten sixties punk bands. Back From the Grave gravitated towards the most brain-damaged, nasty, weird end of the spectrum, generally eschewing pretty psych in favor of bludgeoning stupidity and atavism. In other words, Swamp material for sure! All of these collections are excellent but naturally a lot of primo slop ended up on this one. Notable entries include surf combo The Novas performing "The Crusher," widely recognized as the first example of what would become death metal vocals, covers of genre-defining horror tales "Jack the Ripper" and "Psycho," and some originals eventually covered by the likes of The Mummies, Dwarves, and many more.
That's the Bag I'm In

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Girlschool - Nightmare at Maple Cross

After a couple of less-than-stellar albums, Girlschool abandoned their more commercial sound and returned to the gritty, booze-fueled badassery of their early years. Nightmare at Maple Cross is their sixth LP, notable for its awesome cover, abundant double entendres, a cover of Mud's glam-gibberish classic "Tiger Feet," and its ferocity and consistency. If you don't like this record you might be dead.
Let's Break Out
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