Friday, September 30, 2011

Make Love

After the first night of real usage of my new ridiculously loud tube-based amplifier, my weary ears can take no music, so we must make do with this hilarious audiobook from the hammy king of b-movies himself.  A combination of standard memoir and hyperkinetic radio play, Bruce and a legion of his associates take you on a dark, boozy journey through the various rungs of Hollywood life, from straight-to-VHS hackwork to the smashing up of Richard Gere's antique vases.  Slapstick, romance, self-reflection, fear and loathing, and of course piles of corny jokes all weave seamlessly into the narrative, brought to life with sound effects and broad caricatures of the many people Mr. Campbell has crossed orbits with over the years.  A sight for sore ears.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Salem Mass - Witch Burning

Greetings, toad people!  Returning from a rock n' roll sabbatical, I bring you this lump of red-hot occult proto-metal from Idaho's Salem Mass.  Released in 1971, this strange hybrid of the Manson Family vibe of Coven or Black Widow with the groovy psychedelic thud of Captain Beyond.  Soulful, over-the-top vocals and the trippy organ percolate over a surprisingly funky foundation of rubberlegged bass and cowbell-happy drums.  This is another in the long line of occult rock that gave birth to today's crop of mystic longhair bands dancing naked in a circle, praising the dark forces of the universe.  

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Deceased - Supernatural Addiction

Alas, wee ones,  I must away forthwith for a day or two!  Focus your minds together on this, my favorite album by Virginia's unkillable death/thrash misanthropes, Deceased.  Supernatural Addiction is perhaps my favorite among their peerless discography (although one can't go wrong with any of their various albums).  Loosely themed around various notably works of short horror, from the glorious "The Doll With the Hideous Spirit" from Richard Matheson's famous "Prey," and its bloodthirsty Zuni Fetish Doll, to "Dark Chilling Heartbeat" based on Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart."  Each song is a gem on its own, but taken as a whole they add up to a Tales From The Crypt-style anthology of horrid tales of revenge an comeuppance. 

The music?  Ah, yes.  This isn't the most brutal Deceased record by a long shot, but the ambitious texture and range are breathtaking, unfolding from the crusher opening of "The Premontion" into a complex mix of not only death and thrash but hints of psych, punk, doom, and weirder territories.  Even the longest songs are perpetually forward-moving and fat-free, anchored by the excellent and instantly recognizable vocals of drummer King Fowley.  Deceased is one of those bands like Slough Feg or Primordial, seemingly content to stake out their own plot of metal soil and crank out album after album of quality music, impervious to trends and inertia.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Max Frost and The Troopers - Shape of Things to Come

Max Frost and The Troopers were the fictional rock band from the early psychsploitation picture "Wild in the Streets."  There is some mystery regarding exactly who play on this album, as the members were credited to match characters in the movie, but it is widely believed to be the work of pioneering psych/surf band Davie Allan and the Arrows with lyrics and vocals provided by Paul Wibier (of biker movie soundtrack fame).  The title cut will be instantly recognizable to fans of the Nuggets series, and the other songs generally follow that formula: three minute snatches of psychedelia-infused garage pop with soaring harmonies and concise structure.  There's actually quite a bit of variation among the songs, though - one can feel Wibier playing around with various styles and ideas, perhaps assuming that the album was more of a novelty than a genuine artistic endeavor.  This seems to be his approach in general, now that I think about it, but it's not without merit: sometimes studio musicians and professional songwriters, liberated from the need to write actual hits, can come up with some soulful, mind-expanding stuff.  

Monday, September 19, 2011

The "Priest" They Called Him

It's been a moment since I dropped any William S. Burroughs material, so have this ten inch record of Uncle Bill reading his excellent short "The "Priest" They Called Him" with the squealing guitar background created by one Kurt Cobain.  A harrowing tale of a junkie at Christmas, a pair of severed legs, and the immaculate fix, punctuated by Cobain's "Silent Night"-based noise wall, this little miracle is as ultimately hopeful as it is nauseating.  Sweat it out.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Jag Panzer - Tyrants

This classic first EP from Jag Panzer contains a Nam-as-apocalypse anthem, two songs about the crushing power of heavy metal, a song about Conan battling iron statues come to hideous life, and another sword-and-sorcery romp about besieging a citadel.  The epic "When Metal Melts the Ice" is, without a doubt, one of the Most Metal Songs of All Time.  Musically, Jag Panzer would evolve into slick power metal, but this first release is raw, thrashy, and wildly over-the-top no-modifier metal from a time before sub-genres walked the earth.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Jack Starr - Born Petrified

Not to be confused with the guy from Virgin Steele, this Jack Starr is a Texas-bred rockabilly outsider and monster-movie director, famed for his dark, twisted music and larger-than-life persona.   A marvel of ingenuity, this album reflects the duct-taped mentality one would assume prevailed upon his seemingly lost filmography as well: glaringly home-made, using an old bathtub as an echo chamber, varying wildly in quality and length, at once charming and unsettling.  Given a dusty ambiance by the tinny, distant sound and Starr's nasally wail, the songs float among a sea of hiss and ectoplasm, sounding a good thirty years older than their sixties vintage. 

It's the little seat-of-the-pants details that really give the record depth - for example, "Done Away With the Mean Old Blues" contains a middle passage that sounds like Starr playing piano with one hand and slapping his leg in counter-rhythm with the other.  Occasionally the recording descend into frenzied gibberish worthy of Men's Recovery Project at their most obtuse.  Other moments offer pure, fragile beauty and joy.  And then there's the songs about vampires and shit, those are good too.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

El Ritual

El Ritual is arguably the first and most important Mexican psych band.  I don't know much about them and I'm too sick to fake it, so just enjoy the groovy satanism, heavy drums, and soulful Spanglish.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Briton Rites - For Mircala

Greetings, dearies!  I have once again returned to the Swamp, and am back among you.  Today I have for you one of the great unheard doom albums of the last year, the debut album from Georgia's hirsute Briton Rites. Effortlessly evoking the dark history of doom metal without sounding artificially retro or atavistic, For Mircala is a loose concept album centered around vampirism and Lovecraftian dimensional bleedthrough.  I have a particular weakness for metal bands with literate and diverse sources, and these chaps certainly deliver on that front: the title cut is based on a pre-Dracula vampire novel; "The Right Hand of Doom" is grounded in a Robert E. Howard short story starring his demon-hunting Puritan, Solomon Kane; several other are grounded in Hammer Horror flicks and pulpy supernatural melodrama.  Musically, it owes a heavy debt to the doomier side of NWOBHM, like Witchfinder General of Pagan Altar, with killer vocals from Phil Swanson (of such Swamp favorites as Hour of 13, Seamount, and Atlantean Kodex) and guitars by Howie Bentley of legendary Georgia metal band Cauldron Born.  More importantly, every song is memorable, catchy, and tough - no pretty stuff here, just doom and blood and haze.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Year of the Goat - Lucem Ferre

There's a ton of this occult doom rock floating around these days, so much so that's it difficult to parse out the primo stuff out of legions of clones.  I have discovered this EP by Year of the Goat (from Sweden, of course), and it's quickly one of my most-spun over the last few months.  Fans of Pentagram, Graveyard, Witchcraft, The Devil's Blood, and Noctum will find much to enjoy here: tales of hedonism and regret, crushing fuzz riffs, flaxen hair blowing in the northern winds, and even a cover of Sam Gopal's "Dark Lord."  Hopefully they will release a full length before the darkness swallows them.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Vindictives - Leave Home

Sure, there's lots of knock-off Ramones bands, Ramones cover bands, and bands who cover Ramones songs, but how many people just up and cover a whole album front to back?  Chicago's legendarily neurotic Vindictives do this, and maintain a level of spontaneity and pranksterism that elevates it to the level of Dada Not Doodoo.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Abgott - Artefacts of Madness

Proving the old adage about the weirdest of metal coming out of Italy, Abgott's complex, mathy black metal is thoroughly constructed and precise.  There's hints of that Meshugga-derived irregular chug, Enslaved's epic sweep, and the sheer nuttiness of early Voivod, combined with a Lovecraftian lyrical bent.  For all the clinicism of the playing, there's still a nasty heft here, a mad whirl of rage usually absent from today's technical death metal scene.  Abgott are no theoreticians or hipster music school dropouts - this is the real deal, and it is scary.
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