Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Demon Fuzz - Afreaka!

Demon Fuzz is another one of those bands whose freaky, forward-looking sounds were far enough ahead of their time that they achieved little success and remain obscure outside of crate-digging DJs continually in search of more esoteric and obscure grooves.  While ostensibly being a funk band, Demon Fuzz combines jazzy, menacing dissonance with prog and psych tendencies and a soulful backbone that keeps even the strangest moments grounded.  The opening instrumental, "Past Present and Future," opens with a muted guitar figure that could've been lifted from a Fugazi record twenty years in the future, shortly followed by the sly insinuation of horns and a martial rhythm that unfolds into full-on brass band swagger and then dissolves into a Fun House-era Stooges freakout.  The vocals don't arrive until track two, the spidery "Disillusioned," but aptly named crooner Smokey Adams expresses righteous anger over a bed of organ, harmonica, and buzzing trumpet.  There's a few more killer originals and covers of the mandatory "I Put a Spell on You" and a song from the British Invasion combo Electric Flag, rounded out with another expressionistic instrumental capper.  Truly freaky.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Melvins - The Undisputed Renegade Spaghetti Garage Pin-Ups

Here's another fairly thorough all-covers bootleg, this time from the mighty Melvins. Flipper, Wipers, Velvet Underground, Pink Floyd, Wendy Carlos, Fleetwood Mac, Malfunkshun, Warlock Pinchers even...something for everybody, mangled and stomped on. Interestingly, though this album is two full-length discs, many of The Melvins' better known covers don't appear here, perhaps assuming that anybody who would bother with
something this weird already owns them. It's a bit difficult to sit through the entire two hours, but there's tons of mixtape fodder and surprisingly reverent treatment, representing the breadth and depth of their influences.
Jerkin' Krokus

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Obituary - The End Complete

Greetings, Swamplings! Quickly, you must download this third album of apocalyptic early death metal from one of the pioneers of the genre, good old Obituary. The End Complete tends to be divisive for many fans - some see it as a watering-down of their early sound, while others see it as a bold step forward after the crucial Cause of Death. There are others, like myself, who maintain that it pretty much sounds exactly like the first two albums and those who overthink this kind of thing on the internet ought to get out more, which is exactly what I'm going to do right now.
We're terrified (What terrible fun)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Do What Thou Wilt: The Satanic Rites of British Rock 1970 -1974

I can't seem to track down too much solid information regarding this mysterious vinyl-only compilation of early British psych and proto-metal bands so obscure they might have otherwise vanished from memory altogether. Limited to a mere 200 pressings, each with hand-painted covers, Do What Thou Wilt retains an aura of occult intent without especially living up to its own premise. Few of these songs are explicitly satanic; in fact the majority seem to address the usual concerns of the thuggish freaks who generally play this sort of music: sex, wanderlust, drugs, introspection, and misanthropy. I suppose these themes can be lumped under the "Do what thou wilt" motto, but so could, well, everything else.
Still, there's plenty of buried gems here: Shado's "Evil City," Grind's punkish "Rip Off," Wooden Lion's Alice Cooper-ish "Rise of the Moon," the legendary "Fuck You" single from Lucifer, and bands with names like Pony, Heatwave, Yellow, and Unicorn. Plus Tonge's Crushed Butler dead-ringer "Looking at the Moon," a recent repeat play for your host. A refreshing antidote to the proggish frilly-shirt-and-codpiece pomposity that began to infect British rock around this time, file this one alongside America's Nuggets or Back From the Grave series.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Brotha Lynch Hung - Season of da Siccness

It's one of those nights, my dearies, where only the ugliest and most twisted horrorcore can satisfy the dark urges roiling within. Brotha Lynch Hung's pet themes - cannibalism, mysogyny, madness, infanticide, booze - all permeate this miasmal gangsta record like smoke from a funeral pyre. A west coast answer to the New York's burgeoning horror rap movement, this first LP sounds like a hybrid of the G-Funk synth-and-melodica slink and the menacing funk of a John Carpenter soundtrack. This is roughly the rap equivalent to Butchered at Birth. Tread cautiously.
Rest in Piss

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

James Blood Ulmer - Birthright

South Carolina's James Blood Ulmer has made a legacy out of his fusion of blues, jazz, soul, funk, and wild experimentation, but on occasion he releases a straight, palate-cleansing album of acoustic country blues, seemingly more out of need than choice. Birthright, the most graceful and haunting record of this type, is a concise little masterpiece. Freed of sidemen, Ulmer and his guitar meander down the dark dusty roads of the soul, backwards through time. He wrestles with the devil's influence in classic blues fashion, using his own experience with perdition as a warning to others. Not that all of these are grim morality tales, no sir: there's a few dance numbers, a song or two about girls, and covers of Howlin' Wolf and "Sittin' On Top of the World." Vital.
I Ain't Superstitious

Monday, August 22, 2011

Primordial - The Gathering Wilderness

You may have noticed some gaps in posting happening lately, especially on the weekends. This sort of unexplained gap is not uncommon for your host, but I've decided to shift into quality-over-quantity mode. I am usually able to post throughout the week, and sporadically on weekends, but I'm going to have to try to make the most of my free time and only post when I actually have something to say, at least until the end of summer.

That said, there's no better introduction to this new mode than Primordial, one of my long time favorites and a band that stays in constant rotation in the Swamp, staving off the darkness. Frequently described as Celtic/folk/black metal (a combination of modifiers that would normally cause me to stay far, far away), Ireland's most reliable and perhaps longest running metal act is really an entity unto itself. Beginning with this album, they venture more into Slough Feg-styled epic heaviness unburdened by cheap genre tags or gimmickry. While still venturing on occasion into blast beat/tremolo territory for effect, this is really a study in massive melodic force. Steered by leather-lunged A.A. Nemtheanga (of Blood Revolt) and anchored by a water-tight rhythm section, Primodial's twin guitarists weave Celtic themes and melancholy lyricism into the black metal framework the way Thin Lizzy did for hard rock way back in the day. In fact you can almost sense a sort of spiritual kinship between "The Coffin Ships" or "Cities Carved in Stone" and Lizzy's Irish folk influence.

I chose this album because it's the first one where the mix felt perfectly balanced for me. The earlier albums are crushingly heavy and much closer to standard blackness, and the ones following this continue down this path with increasing focus and steely-eyed warrior spirit. Every single one of them is good, though, especially this year's "Redemption at the Puritan's Hand." Take heart.
Oh god, that bread should be so dear
And human flesh so cheap

Thursday, August 18, 2011

No Heavy Petting

Another under-heard gem from the Schenker era of UFO, No Heavy Petting may be in fact their strongest long player and contains multiple songs that stayed in their live set for decades, as evidenced on the fabulous live album Strangers in the Night. Opening with the one-two punch of riff-steamroller "Natural Thing" and schizoid "I'm a Loser," and following with the Motörhead/Stooges-uppercut of "Can You Roll Her," side A is a bleak tour through England's seamy rock-n-roll underbelly. That's a song about addiction (presumably dedicated to the woman on the cover with a monkey on her back), a song about couch-surfing, and a song presumably about sketchy blacked-out sex, right in a row. The rest of the record goes off on a few wild tangents, including the moody, proto-stoner street rumble "On With the Action" and the cosmic homesickness of "Martian Landscape," perhaps betraying a longing for UFO's past as a hippyish, happy-drug space rock band. That's not to say there's no filler on this - the junkie love ballad "Belladonna" and the throwaway cover of "A Fool in Love" could've been trimmed, but how many 70's albums are free of fluff? None!
Home taping is killing the bullshit industry

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Slow Death

Abiding my love for obscure sub-genres and strange hybrids, let's all get dragged backwards through this haunting death-doom variation from Australia's The Slow Death. Beginning with sodden blankets of earthy guitar similar to Warning, and exchanging Patrick Walker's ghost-ridden anguished vocals for some spooky siren whisperings way up at the high end of the register, and some Skepticism-styled funeral growling on the low end, this self-titled LP is their only release. A widely varying pace and sinister internal logic, not to mention the occasional horror movie keyboard melody, give it the air of an ill omen. Interestingly, some of the members of this band are also in the wildly dissimilar Corpsickle and Murkrat.
Dark Days

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tight Bros From Way Back When - Take You Higher

Featuring past members of Karp and Behead the Prophet and future members of Big Business/Melvins and Nudity, the Tight Bros sounded nothing like any of that stuff. Instead they cranked out a sweaty mix of AC/DC and MC5, singing of fire and blood and rock and roll. This particular seven inch EP is included here for the apocalypse anthem "Chicken Little Lied," but I highly recommend both of their albums and split with The Champs as premier examples of hard rock/punk rock done right with zero cheese or smarm.
I'm in luck

Monday, August 15, 2011

Diamond Plate - Mountains of Madness

Today I bring you a short-but-sweet Ep from Chicago's teenage thrash savants Diamond Plate. Free of the irony and jokiness that characterize most modern thrash, this savage little record is pure headbanging havoc. Startlingly the average age of the members on this recording was fifteen, and they're better and more sincere than bands twice their age. Good stuff - I recommend the new album as well.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fearless Vampire Killers - Target

Another knock-off band on the turntable tonight - this time it's the Japanese Bad Brains, Fearless Vampire Killers. Not quite up to the standard of their inspiration, especially in the vocal department, this is nonetheless a raging buzzsaw of hyperactive punk fast enough to sand the zits off your face.
All you offend to my eyes

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Pentagram - Sub-Basement

Much like this imperfect but undervalued Pentagram album, I have spent many decades in the dank underground today, and I only just re-emerge under the deadline to slime out this gibberish upon my keyboard and hope that it reaches some vigilant ears somewhere out in the cosmos before I dissolve into an unrecognizable jelly and the tide goes too far out.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Satyricon - Volcano

Satyricon is another one of those wildly divisive bands that seems to split people into two camps with very few occupying a middle ground. If you think black metal should all look and sound like Mayhem in 1994 forever and ever, you've probably despised everything Satyricon's released since, well, 1996. If you're more of a mind that black metal is framework with which to build and expand upon at will (or strip bare, or burn to the ground), there's a chance you'll still hate it. I, for one, quite like the paring down of several essential elements into a distilled liqueur of venom and spite. While not quite squarely in the Motörhead/crusty mountain troll mode of recent Darkthrone or Carpathian Forest, 2002's vicious Volcano is still a groovy, forward-marching war machine, flattening poseurs and internet kvlt police in its horrible wake.
Fuel For Hatred

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Ventures - Super Psychedelics

Well, here at the exhausted end of a long day I find myself with little to say. Let's wind down a bit with this killer psych-sploitation platter from the might Ventures. A few killer fuzzed-out originals mixed with a few hippie-dippie covers, this cheap cash-in is an under-appreciated gem from deep within the Ventures catalog, reviled by snobs but beloved by you humble host.
1999 A.D.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Orthodox - Amanecer En Puerta Oscura

Spain's Orthodox plays a curious hybrid of hypnotic drone-doom, bass-driven bop jazz, and liturgical chant informed by the folklore of their native land. For those skeptical of that description, know that they sound completely unlike any other metal band, and have been one of my personal favorites since their first release. This year's Baal is an instant cult classic, but this second album is perhaps the strongest and most coherent statement. Equally influenced by Mingus, Morricone, and the Melvins, this strange and slowly unfolding flower rewards careful and repeated listening. The vocals take a distinctive tack too, warbling and ululating like one of Edison's wax cylinders, a transmission from beyond
time and reason. Frankly, I'm surprised I haven't posted anything by them yet - this is the kind of thing that keeps the Swamp florid.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Grotesquery - Tales of the Coffin Born

Featuring Kam Lee of Death and Massacre on vocals, Swedish-death-metal-by-way-of-Florida band The Grotesquery released their solitary full length in 2009, and boy is it a doozy. This is old-fashioned gristly death metal with sharp teeth and zero interest in crossover appeal. Also featuring members of Lovecraftian bands Crypticus and Ribspreader.
That Thing Which Lurks In Shadows

Friday, August 5, 2011

Scorpio Rising Soundtrack

This appears to be a fan-made collection of the songs from Kenneth Anger's transgressive biker-Nazi fetish-film Scorpio Rising. Divorced from context, it's fairly benign; mostly soul, doo-wop, girl groups, and surf, it nonetheless holds darker intimations for those who have had images from the short movie seared into their retinas. If you haven't had the pleasure, by all means do so here. The next time you're on a picnic with the family or hosting a tea party, pop this on in the background and try to think nice thoughts.
Hit the Road, Jack

Thursday, August 4, 2011

In the year 3030

A classic of dystopian hip-hop, a peak album in a tiny sub-genre that soon spiraled into self-parody and cheap commercialism, an Orwellian prophecy of end times, and a hilarious send-up of corny sci-fi movies, 3030 is a must for any student of The Apocalypse. This album is a distinct product of the waning of the happy-go-lucky Clinton era and the approaching of the turbulent first decade of a new millennium, heralded by Y2K paranoia and a radical rightwards swing in American politics. 9/11 was over a year away when this was released - I find it odd that this record can stand as a nerdy bit of weedian self-indulgence and simultaneously as a bold premonition of war.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Angel Dust - Music for Movie Bikers

This wild compilation collects the best and strangest cuts from the late sixties-early seventies biker flick wave, mostly wild surf/instrumental stuff peppered with hilarious samples. Davie Allan & the Arrows, who make up about a third of the tracks, basically pioneered the sound associated with these movies: psychedelic surf more influenced by cheap acid and speed and the open road than the relatively benign themes most of the genre is associated with. Also notable is the Paul Wibier forgotten gem "Satan (Theme)," which absolutely floored me upon first listen and has subsequently appeared on many a mixtape since. A shocking story of a child raised to kill for Satan, its matter-of-fact lyrics and easy lounge vibe combine to create an aura of hedonistic Manson-esque menace. Shuffle in a little abstract cocktail jazz and some unclassifiable strangeness and you've got a wonderful soundtrack for a pill-fueled orgy in the woods followed by a berserk rampage through whatever shithole town you're cruising through today, brothers and sisters.
Skip to my Mary J

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Bob Ohiri & His Uhuru Sounds - Uhuru Aiye

Well, I need another breather from all the metal, so lets venture deep into Nigeria and visit with Bob Ohiri and his band. Primarily famous for playing guitar for the legendary Kind Sunny Adé, pioneer of the Jùjú genre, Ohiri breaks loose here and plays a forward-thinking brand of afrobeat colored with bop jazz and gritty funk. I don't have much of a clue as to what's gong on lyrically, as most of the songs are in Yoruba, but two of the English ones express a yearning for freedom and a cry for solidarity. Beyond that, the music is heavily percussive - there must be a dozen drummers and percussionists - and shot through with horn lines, quivering wah-wah, and layered background chants, producing a danceable but vaguely unsettling cacophony. Heady, sweaty stuff for a hot summer night.
Nigeria London Na Lagos

Monday, August 1, 2011

Pagan Altar - Lords of Hypocrisy

Skirting the doomier edges of the NWOBHM, Pagan Altar played a stoic, dead-serious brand of heavy metal drawing influence from the first Black Sabbath album's graveyard shuffle and Paranoid's war-pig politicism, while delving further into the realm of mystic lyricism. Right off the bat, the title track comes stomping out of Stonehenge decrying the evils of war and greed, immediately followed by the doomsaying "Satan's Henchmen," arguably another war parable. This relentless pace eases up a bit as the album progresses - the b-side is more expansive and subdued, but the closing number fulfills the promise of Armageddon. Terry Jones's instantly recognizable, haunted vocals are another huge draw here - full of fear and anger and sadness, they really elevate the album above the legions of bands playing in this style today. Alas, the man will probably never be spoken of in the same reverent tones as your Ozzys or your Dios (or Halfords, Dickinsons, etc.) but in my mind he really is in their league as a frontman.
Strangely, Pagan Altar never managed to release a proper album during their initial run as a band, but a late-nineties reunion managed to produce a stellar crop of albums, of which this is the second. The gods of doom may move slowly, but sometimes they reward the faithful.
Death will come to even the righteous
Only the good die young

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