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Razorcake #84
Tim Version, Ordinary Life LP + bonus 7"
Radon, 28 LP
Zisk #25
Razorcake #83

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Record Reviews

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Degeneration: CD
A truly pathetic aping of mid‑period Megadeth packaged as some sort of new direction in heavy metal. God, this sucked bad. –Jimmy Alvarado (Arsyn)

Screaming over the Dull Roar: Cassette
I’ve listened to this live demo countless times since it showed up in my mailbox, but still don’t know how I feel about this band. Their sound is a fusion of early ‘80s post punk and new wave, which sounds—on the surface—like something I’d be into. Many of the songs on this though, felt almost mind-numbingly monotonous. Thankfully, flipping the tape over to Program Two offered some refreshing changes of pace, including faster tempos and more interesting riffs, as on the track “The New Math.” The closing track “Pills & Alcohol” was also quite good, featuring some of the best riffs and a healthy dose of guitar wankery. Ultimately, I think what made it difficult for me to like this as much as I might have was the terrible quality of the live recording. With a proper recording fleshing out this band’s sound more fully, I might be into it, but my feelings about this live recording are lukewarm at best. –Paul J. Comeau (artinstitute.bandcamp.com)

People Like It When You Fail: LP
The band name is apropos—a lotta “art” pumped into the sound of a band that isn’t afraid to dive into the post-punk pool and do their best to avoid coming off like yet another Gang Of Four tribute band “addicted to the drug of nostalgia.” Tunes are sophisticated, diverse, and only a wee bit pretentious at times. The singer occasionally sounds reminiscent of Lee Reynaldo. –Jimmy Alvarado (Artificial Head)

Self-titled: CD
This is one of those instances when one can’t help but wonder if the person responsible for sending the discs out has ever bothered to look at a single issue of any of the mags he sent them to. Mostly mellow stuff that sounds like Stephen Bishop trying vainly to be Tom Waits. Nice musicianship, snoozy tunes.  –Jimmy Alvarado (www.theartofwalking.com)

The Law: 7”
A very little bit of history about this Boston band, based on the info contained on the insert: The two tracks here date back to a cassette compilation released in 1981, which looks to be the only release they were involved with back when they were active (the two songs here and two more also appeared on 2007’s Boston Underground 1979-82 compilation, according to the Kill from the Heart website) and this release is dedicated to one of the members, who died in 2010. “The Law” is a whip-smart slice of sophisticated pop brilliance that recalls a less abrasive Mission Of Burma. “Something in Your Eyes” is a bit slower, more experimental and akin to 100 Flowers, maybe. Both, however, retain a sense of freshness and vitality that often eludes the lion’s share of their peers, which I guess translates to the fact that this has that much-ballyhooed “timeless” factor to it and I’d bet dollars to donuts that folks would shit their pants if this were a contemporary band. Looks like this is limited to three hundred copies, but it’s definitely worth the mad dash. –Jimmy Alvarado (Ride The Snake)

Texas Idiot: CD
Oi-ish mid-tempo punk tunes covering Bush, Jehovah’s Witnesses, “anorexic princess of pop,” and skateboarding. Songs are pretty good for what they are, but the mix leaves them sounding a tad flat. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.afs.me.uk)

New Normal Catastrophe: 12” EP
Bit of a surprise finding this in the bins. For those not in the know, this revered Chicago hardcore band hasn’t been active in at least twenty-five years and this recording shows they haven’t lost that spark that made ‘em so special. While the thrashing’s a bit tempered compared to the full-bore days of Buy This War, the righteous anger, topicality, and intelligence are still very much in evidence, and they can still mix it up quite nicely when they see fit. The real treat, though, is when they slow it down a bit and dabble in melody and sonic layering, coming up with something that straddles the line between later Hüsker Dü and the very early period before “emo” became a sad cliché. Faboo return to form and it’s definitely nice to have ‘em back. –Jimmy Alvarado (Alternative Tentacles)

New Normal Catastrophe: 12” EP
I have to admit I was late to the AOF party. I had become a Vic Bondi fan after catching a couple Report Suspicious Activity shows a few years back. Then I went and chowed down on his back catalog, enjoying both Jones Very and Alloy. But I was lucky enough to catch both of AOF’s reunion shows in Chicago this fall. In a word—intense. But in addition to doing those shows, they have also put out a new five-song EP, their first new music in many moons. Every song on this record will put hair on your chest. Sorry ladies—no Nair included with the LP. With song titles like “With a Vengeance” and “The Hammer” what do you expect? No one in the band has lost their chops. This flies by with unbridled fury in fifteen minutes. Recorded by Jeff Dean (The Bomb) and mixed by J. Robbins (Office Of Future Plans), the production is rock solid without sounding too slick. Excellent return to form by these Chicago pioneers. Seek this out and thank me later. –Sean Koepenick (Alternative Tentacles)

Complete Session November 1981: CD
It’s quite a coincidence that this session is put out by Dischord now, along with a recently unearthed Government Issue session. At Government Issue’s one-off reunion show recently, drummer Mike Manos of Artificial Peace got up and played a few songs with the opening band. Okay, maybe that’s not amazing, but this record is. Only released in pieces back in the day, this is seventeen songs clocking in under twenty minutes. That’s how old-school harDCcore should be played. “Suburban Wasteland” and “Neighbors” stick out for me here, but they all spill over with youthful aggression. The only misstep is the goofy cover of “Wild Thing,” but it’s good for a laugh. Three of the members of A.P. went on to greater success with Marginal Man. But get this to hear where it began back in 1981. –Sean Koepenick –Sean Koepenick (Dischord)

Civil Dead: CD
This collects their 12” EP and recent 7” EP, both from Prank. Heavy and pounding hardcore that rains down in a drowning torrent of rage and hope. Political as well as personal. One listen and you’ll be hooked for life. –Matt Average (Prank)

Fucked from Birth: CD
Holy shit! I haven’t listened to this band in a few years since their Civil Dead LP, but I was fortunate enough to see them live recently. What I remember from the past was laid to waste very moment they started to perform. As loud as they were live, they are loud on this CD. Brutal, bass-heavy power riffage. The amplifiers sound like they are on maximum overdrive. They do not rely heavily on the powerviolence sound but incorporate more of a dirge of feedback and atonal noise to create the sound of pure pain. Like Kylesa and Dystopia, they take noise and anger to another level. It’s an aural rampage that jerks you from fast to slow without sacrificing the energy. If music can be used to describe a migraine headache, this would be it. –Donofthedead (Prank)

Self-titled: 7"
I've been listening to more Black Sabbath lately, and for the first time in my life, I think it's finally seeping in. I skip the trippy songs. That makes the listening easier for me. While they aren't the fastest band in the world, Sabbath can sure make songs heavy. Artimus Pyle – although by way of crusty punk instead of acid rock – have developed a similar sensibility. When they slow down, they don't screech to a halt, they just dig in deeper and let the sickness settle. They have the uncanny ability to be both atmospheric and then thrust a knife to the listener's throat. I've also read a lot about World War I and there's something very trench warfare, mustard gas, bayonet, gangrene about how Artimus Pyle sound. It's dirty business. There's a lot of hand-to-hand combat. The songs are creepy and dark without being formulaic or cheesy. Very listenable, much how Tragedy is.
–Todd Taylor (Prank)

Civil Dead: CD
Not to be mixed up with The Artimus Pyle band, featuring the distinctive double bass drumming of the ex-Lynyrd Skynyrd dude. What a downer to read the CD booklet. "Death opens forgotten wounds, misery outlives the man... casket closed in death, just like in miserable life... the endless allegiance to shit." The music's incredible, though, in how well it sets a tremendously fucked-up atmosphere, like choking on the smoke of burning bodies. So scorched, it seems to get in your clothes after you give it a good listen. The more I listen to Artimus Pyle - and no offense to the singer - but I'd really like to hear this instrumentally. His voice is the lacerated goat throat, familiar to the powerviolence genre, and he does a good job, but the music is what really shines darkly on this puppy. It makes me think if Bauhaus cranked it up and went stupid crazy crunchy. –Todd Taylor (Prank)

Plugged: CD
Assuming that most Razorcake readers are familiar with MRR scribe and perennial fly-in-the-ointment Mykel Board, this is the collected recordings of his punk band, Artless, who were active in the ‘80s. Collected here are tracks culled from the band’s three LPs, and a single or two, plus a few unreleased tracks. As expected considering the source, the lyrics are faux-reactionary in tone to piss off all the lefty sensibilities that permeated the scene back then, with titles like “When You’re My Age You’ll Be Selling Insurance,” “Vegetable Rights,” and “We Want Nuclear War.” The accompanying music is sloppy, mid-tempo for the most part and just as obnoxious as the lyrics. In short, this is the perfect holiday gift for your most cherished Crasshole buddy on whom the humor will be completely lost. –Jimmy Alvarado (The Only Label in the World)

Vault of Heaven: 12”
Arts play raw, thrashy hardcore with black metal-tinged drums and growly vocals that remind me more of Thou than anything else. The analog recording is raw as all hell, but everything is balanced and easy to distinguish, and the grit lends merit to the heaviness in their sound. The whole album flows well as a full piece and sounds more like two long songs than a collection of a bunch of short songs. The artwork and packaging are completely over the top and awesome. –Ian Wise (Youth Attack)

AS I...:
Rise & Scream: CD
It's a mixture of the So Cal sound and AFI to this man’s ear. Not half bad except the vocals and production sound flat to me. It just doesn’t have the umph to capture me. I’m sure they have a following since this was produced and released. Would like to see how they progress in the future.
–Donofthedead (Geykido Comet)

Self-titled: LP
This is dark, brooding crust with a self-described addition of Swedish death metal. This band from Spain knows how to take dark emotions and play a musical soundtrack to it. The band Tragedy comes to mind when hearing the music, but it’s not exactly the same. They tend to work with the formula and add elements to make it their own: a big sound with an underlying melody with charging punk metal riffs. Very deep, almost guttural vocals set the tone for the dark landscape that the music portrays. The lyrics are in Spanish and I have no idea what might be behind them. Judging by the music alone, I know it’s not pretty. Overall, a good listen and not a dud in the bunch. Co-released by Contraszt!, La Agonia de Cicir, Be-Part, Devil Child, and Behind The Scenes. Now get on that computer and search! –Donofthedead (Contraszt!)

Split: 12” EP
Aseethe is really good. From the very opening of “Black Heart” to the final sounds of “Fire to Flames” I’m hooked on these songs: ambient metal that has a drive and enough low end to earn its heaviness. The songs are somewhat hypnotic with the repeating riffs, then there are the sounds that come washing over the buzzing distortion, providing another layer. Good stuff for putting on late, late at night, and pondering the past, present, and future. I could definitely go for a full-on Aseethe LP. Shores Of The Tundra, for some reason, don’t do much for me. They’re not horrible; it’s just not “my thing.” They remind me of Godflesh, with the drum machines and other electronics. The songs pulse then explode with an almost epic feel, like something you would hear as the soundtrack for a movie set in a bleak future. Limited to 300 copies and packaged in a screen printed cover, so if this is your thing, get on it. –Matt Average (Scenester Credentials, scenecred.com)

Greater Than Later: CD
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, you too can listen to this old Canadian band start off with a pretty good pop/hardcore, pull a Stiff Little Fingers and slowly sink into the depths of the indie pop garbage heap. I remember these guys from way back when, and for some reason always thought they broke up before they could make utter fools outta themselves. Sad. –Jimmy Alvarado (Boss Tuneage)

Self-titled: CD
In his relatively extensive liner notes, Ash County Slugger Randy Brownell notes that two members of this band were in Radon (a band that unfortunately has slipped between the cracks for me and not seeped under my rock), and that the Ash County Sluggers “showed up as the final log on the (Radon) fire.” Well and good. This was originally recorded in ‘96, remixed in ‘02, and finally released late last year. So. My point is that this one didn’t really hit for me. I don’t know if it sounds like Radon or not (see above), but to me it sounds kind of like Jawbreaker, and that band never really tripped my trigger either. If you like Radon or Jawbreaker, however, you might want to give this a listen. –The Lord Kveldulfr (Hazzard / Sooooo Intense)

Self-titled: CD
Thrashy hardcore with metal tinges and a rockabilly undertow. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.unrepentantrecords.com)

Audible Stellar Hypnotic Situations: CD
Jazzy, arty, jammy hip-hop tinged instrumental stuff. Some of the tunes are hellafied long, but on the whole, the “hypnotic” quality and the fact that those responsible know their way around their instruments made for an interesting listen. –Jimmy Alvarado (www.ashs.us)

White Sugar Is the Devil: CD
Average, mid-tempo punk rock with dual male/female vocals. Snotty, remedial lyrics that are basically one big "fuck you." Maybe popular locally at the backyard kegger or as one of the opening bands, but this doesn't do anything for the guy hearing it for the first time. –Jimmy Alvarado (Ashtray)

Self-titled: 7” EP
Crude, effective, and funny DIY punk rock that has a spirit akin to Blatz. You know, beer-along punk with songs about the problems of drinking Tussin, the virtues of 40oz salvation, and of being a meatatarian. The dual male/ female vocals work well. The lady’s screechy, like Kirsten of Naked Aggression, but endearing. The recording’s a little off. It sounds like someone’s learning Pro Tools. There’s a weird echo during some of the guitar parts. With simple stick figure punk rock, where the instruments are the sonic equivalent to crayons, bands have done much worse. –Todd Taylor (Ashtray)

Operation Ashtray: CD
This is a recording of a live set of Op Ivy covers. The vocalists (a guy and a girl) sound like they belong in Blatz more than Op Ivy. The instrumentation is okay, but the band as a whole doesn’t bring as much vigor live as Op Ivy does recorded. The set comes from a birthday/cancer research benefit show where all the bands were doing covers, which explains why the band performed this in the first place. I’m sure it was a real hoot to do for the band and for some of the people at the show to see, but I just don’t know why anybody would want sub par versions of these songs covered live on disc. (Some money from the sales of this disc goes towards cancer research.)  –Vincent Battilana (Silver Sprocket)

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