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.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
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.
Monday, November 28, 2011
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.
Sunday, November 27, 2011
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.
Saturday, November 26, 2011
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.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Gravediggaz beat them by a year, but the debut album by Three 6 Mafia is perhaps the defining moment of horrorcore rap. The filthy low budget production, the predilection for violent imagery, the revenge fantasies and the murky, cobwebby atmosphere that define the genre are all here in copious amounts. Roughly equivelant to Scream Bloody Gore, the record still sounds menacing, vital, and prescient.
Monday, November 21, 2011
While we're on the weird outer rims of heavy metal, let's stop over in darkest Italy, home to many truly bizarre bands of all sub-genres. Antonius Rex, the brainchild of Jacula leader Antonio Bartoccetti and vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Doris Norton. Of their many simultaneous projects, this is the darkest and most explicitly occult, enough so that they were dropped by their label and forced to self-release it in limited quantities some years later. Mixing the baroque organ fugues and jazzy psych of Jacula with a cinematic adventurousness influenced by Goblin and Morricone, with the pair's sometimes distracting vocals and breathless narration kept to a minimum. This version is a recent reissue containing the extended track listing of later versions but with the original, suppressed cover art intact. One can hear influences on occult rock modern bands, especially Blood Ceremony, but nobody has the freeform batshit wildness of this monster.
Sunday, November 20, 2011
I've been sifting through the archives this week, spurred on by sickness and cabin fever, eventually arriving at a pile of poorly tagged, low quality mp3's of The Old Ones. Downloaded years ago from the baffling 9 Productions website ( seemingly a relic from 1994 but sporadically updated with new information, despite being 90% perpetually "under construction"), The Old Ones are a classic example of a one-man project driven by sheer love and madness, content to languish in obscurity and bereft of shame or self-awareness. Existing for years on the same fringes of doom populated by Aarni or Brown Jenkins, this anonymous Czech fellow continues to make music under this moniker - there is another album and multiple singles, and a sequel to this semi-full length is promised sometime this year. This one is a bit of a mess - I corrected the incoherent tags as best I could, but the volume is wildly erratic, the guitars are tinny and muffled except for the occasional solo, the vocals are too loud, and the drum machine is laughable. Still, crazy-eyed ambition and enthusiasm go a long way in bands like this, and The Old Ones have no shortage of either.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
As the end of another exhausting and wild week draws to a close, I find myself drawn to this seminal album from the legendary Possessed. Much like Venom's Black Metal record, Seven Churches basically spawned an entire genre of heavy metal, in this case death metal. Not that it existed in a vacuum, but the degree of ugliness, spite, and heaviness expressed by these high school lads was unprecedented, and a huge influence on the first generation of DM bands, especially Death. I'm too drained to expound any further, and it shouldn't be necessary anyway - just sit back and feel the hate roll over you.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
I've been an Angry Samoans fan for over fifteen years, and as time grinds on I find myself beginning to understand the later, stranger work of fucked up front man Metal Mike Saunders. I mean, Back From Samoa is an all time classic, and even the second album STP Not LSD seems less baffling and more amusing and memorably nutty in hindsight. By the time this weird seven inch record arrived in 1996, the rest of the original lineup was long gone, as were all of their replacements - in fact, this is just Mike on guitar and vocals.
Saunders was one of those characters too fucked to play drums but charismatic enough to be a "singer," like Joey Ramone or Iggy Pop. The first Samoans show was as the opening band for Roky Erickson, and his twitchy shadow looms long over their style: surreal, horror-movie influenced lyrics and a complete lack of self-editing, combined with a youthful enthusiasm for weird drugs and fifties pop. Once Mike's bandmates had jumped ship he was left with the name and without anybody to tell him NO.
So we arrive years later at this thing. Side one is a loose parody of the John Cougar Mellencamp song "Rain on the Scarecrow," but instead of lamenting the plight of the modern farmer, it's a jab at recently croaked Grateful Dead slob Jerry Garcia. On the surface it seems like an anti-dope song, but Saunder's long history of drug abuse is obvious not only to those aware of the band's career arc, but also to anyone with a pair of ears and a copy of this record. The flipside is a similarly warped cover of "Heroin" by the Velvet Underground, likely cribbed from Roky's cover, which fades into another Coug joke.
So why does this record exist? Saunders is no stranger to drugs, and sports a giant mane of hair that probably stank worse than The Stooges. He can barely keep his guitar in tune and both of the songs he's parodying are old news, even in '96. The answer is in the grooves, though, I can feel it. Better listen to it again...
Friday, November 11, 2011
Here's a bit of pompous, low-budget symphonic black metal from Germany's Cryogenic, paying homage to the Lovecraft story of a doomed city locked in a vicious cycle of death and rebirth for all eternity. Defined by cheap synths, phony choral vocals, rubbery drums, and a sort of cardboard epicness that makes me think these guys are probably LARPers in their spare time, Celephaïs has a certain charm that makes up for its lack of atmosphere or audible guitar. For fans of Bal Sagoth or Septic Flesh, especially the kind that likes to make armor out of soda pop boxes and duct tape.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Well, the gateway to Mediafire seems to be closed temporarily, so I must improvise tonight's entertainment. I thought this timely with the passing of Bil Keane, creator of the widely loathed Family Circus. Though numerous parodies of his maudlin creation existed, often with his blessing, only the now-defunct Nameless Dread was actively suppressed, presumably after touching some dark nerve in Keane's soul. Fortunately I have many of them preserved in my private archive and now I shall pass them along to you, dear ones. Presumably normal transmissions will resume tomorrow.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
This is the soundtrack to the cult television show "Fishing with John," starring John Lurie. Taking the loose framework of a PBS nature show and twisting it into a hilarious beatnik riff on culture shock, cryptozoology, manliness, booze, frenetic dancing, and the nature of sport, the six extant episodes stand as one of the weirdest TV experiments ever. With guests like Tom Waits, Willem Defoe, Dennis Hopper, and Jim Jarmusch, and wild expressionist music by Lurie's many amorphous jazz combos, it's settling nicely right now with the mixture of whiskey and cough syrup fueling your helpless narrator's feverish battle with Mother Nature herself, also nicely reflecting the over-arching theme of the show. Perhaps tomorrow will find me more lucid, or perhaps floating face down in an icy bog somewhere.
Sunday, November 6, 2011
Just stopping by for a moment to drop this bizarre monstrosity on you before it's too late. Columbia's Aggressive play an oddball mutant thrash, musically more in line with the gibbering weirdness of The Accused than the more meat-and-potatoes nuclear stuff most retro-bands are ripping off these days, with a wild vocalist and hints of gang-chorus hardcore, proto-death, grind, and NWOBHM. All of this, plus one of the best album covers of the year.
Saturday, November 5, 2011
Miami's teenage horror rapper Spaceghostpurrp has released what may well be the year's darkest and strangest mixtape, Blvcklvnd Rvdix 66.6. Sounding like it was recorded on a tiny, busted cassette player and liberally slathered in Godzilla and Mortal Kormbat samples, and as murky and uncommercial as any deliberately obscure black metal kvlt, this bloated monstrosity is a purple smear of ugliness, a robotussin stain on the plush carpet of hipster rap. It's anti-social, unfiltered, and wallowing in sociapathic obscurity.
Friday, November 4, 2011
Copenhagen's Gorilla Angreb played a ragged, boozy mix of old L.A. punk in the style of X and mid-nineties garage scum. Once again the lyrics are impenetrable to me but the sound and sentiment transcend my limited faculties, speaking the universal tongue of rage, sweat, love, and spittle. This is their entire recorded discography minus some live material, and essential listening for keeping out of the cold.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Behold, Swamplings! Tonight I bring you another classic from the first wave of black metal, Törr's Armageddon. Unsurprisingly there is a large debt to Venom, from the primitive stomp of the music to the horny cheeseball sense of humor. All of the lyrics are Czech, but it doesn't take a genius to tell what they're singing about: Sex, Satan, and Doom. A wide variety of songs, abundant sampling and experimental noise, and a lecherous leer give the album a distinct personality, and the thrashy heaviness it counterbalanced with catchy songwriting. Its' the kind of album that makes you want to sing along, even the if the words are in a foreign language and probably terrible anyway.