Tuesday, April 28, 2015

I wrote about Red Death...

...a full calendar year before Vice and NPR did.
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Monday, March 9, 2015

Kevin Sullivan's Youth Crew Era

Mom and Dad were getting a little freaked out by Kevin’s “dungeon of doom” friends. They didn’t care for the makeup, the chanting, that musty marijuana stank and those Nasty Savage records. They’re just thrilled he’s made some new friends, even if they are a coupla jocks. Brutish, bully heels who’ve long out-sprinted their glory days but feel it necessary to remind you that at one time in some no-name town in Arkansas, they were THE ACTUAL SHIT at FOOTBALL. That’s what their varsity jackets are for. Thing is, these clean cut, outwardly “moral” types possessed every bit the meanstreak of their “punk rock” contemporaries, they just hid it better. Hated by those outside the scrum, beloved by those within. Sullivan played a vicious Svengali to these acolytes in Crockett’s NWA, his “youth crew” documented for posterity and proof, and his “legit amateur wrasslin background” left to a matter of kayfabe. Rick Steiner and Mike Rotundo’s had real alma maters though, even if Sullivan’s was just some nudist colony. You know how like Integrity could write a faux satanic song about a pair of basketball sneakers (so goes a few legend), Kevin Sullivan was just leading the confluence of 2 distinct punk rock sub-entities. Traded his combat boots for Hi-Tops

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Friday, March 6, 2015

Hesher's Delight

"We'll send the youth crew home...in a body bag!"
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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Death Threat: The DDZ Visual Guide

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Were I enlisted to write the book on 00’s hardcore, I’d definitely include a chapter on Twitter and how it’s granted a slew of aging HC icons a second run at relevance as online personalities and how internet forums became an indelible part of the culture. This image of a tattered Death Threat canvas belt would be the cover because it was lowkey one of the most ubiquitous clothing items of hardcore in that era. I wore mine to prom.

In terms of the millennial pantheon of hardcore, Death Threat always occupied a unique space, peripherally wading in the sonic shores of  “tough guy,” with a left of center visual approach and unrivaled catchiness.  Blood splatter and brass knuckles bore the standard aesthetic uniformity to their mosh-bit contemps while unapologetic heartbreak songs, weed and beautifully illustrated material a’la cartoons, comics, neon and graffiti separated them from the shlock and onto this author’s Rushmore of “important” bands.

Here’s my biased and subjective visual guide, a bloggist homage to that summer in 2006 where I worked in the Walgreens photolab, (re)discovered Last Dayz and made a point of hitting it all the way through on a daily basis. Per some Twitter coordinating, I may have managed a forthcoming Death Threat piece featuring some of the actual heads involved (would love to interview Steve Karpe, Noah Butkus and any band members and CT heads) but for now, here’s the Drug Dogs visual take on the band’s discog.

death threat demo.jpg
1998 Demo - Here’s a peek into the still embryonic world of Connecticut Kickboxing, the triplicate of songs that would make up the penultimate section of the Stillborn released Last Dayz later that year. Considering “Brotherhood” is in my top DT tracks ever, I’d count this wholly essential with a comic illustrated cover (courtesy of an artist known as Jr. X High), spine design typeface lifted straight from a “Live at the Fillmore” flyer and a logo so fresh, I’d come out of “core shirt” retirement to buy a bootlegged tee bearing the design.

1998 Last Dayz (Stillborn) - Gun to my head, charged with one adjective to adequately describe Last Dayz to the layman, best I can whip up is “grimy.’ So grimy. Drums like a pencil on a coke can, 1998 ball peen hammer on a steel pipe. Exposure to Last Dayz came a touch later for me, and though it’s not my favorite album song wise, it’s the one I play for anyone who’s never heard the band. This cover’s by Steve Karpe who, in addition to the graffiti logo on their demo, whipped up the iconic 100 Demons In the Eyes of the Lord cover 2 years later. The first time I ever saw that switchblade tattoo flash logo, Jamey Jasta was wearing it on a shirt and I was seeing Hatebreed for $2 at an amphitheater.
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peace and security.jpg
2000 (Triple Crown/B9) Peace & Security
I’d declare this album a 2000’s classic. It’s visually indicative of where the genre was going, without getting sucked too far down the Jake Bannon/Photoshopped rabbit hole. In fact, what I like most about this cover (courtesy of vocalist Aaron Butkus’ little bro) is that it combines the comic illustration style of Jack Kirby and Frank Miller, with some of the design-school layouts the post 00’s decade would make famous.  

Another interesting facet of the record here is that it features the best hardcore heartbreak song this side of….well, I shan’t define that. I’m also a big fan of the backwards E thing, made for a distinctive logo that, though I don’t entirely understand the reasoning behind it. Also s/o to the song with Rob Lind because “hatred is the white trash family value” is a very gnarly lyric.
2002 (Triple Crown) For God and Government
As a total package, For God and Government is my absolute favorite Death Threat record. Noah Butkus’s artwork is quite unique for a band of this ilk, equal parts Schoolhouse Rock and soviet propaganda posters, and I like that it was done with a marker (I think). I’m also a fan of the lyrics  “every night it’s high fives and stage dives,” and “broke and bummed out” was my damn mantra in college. I posited the question of which DT album was everyone’s fav, and my friend Evan of Mandatory Moshing zine said “For God and Government goes hard, but then that Op Ivy cover pushes it into hardcore godhead.”  

OMDB split.jpg
2002 Split with Over My Dead Body (Bridge 9)
Here’s from that time when Linas Garsys art was all over the place. I never could get into OMDB, even rose-tinted nostalgia won’t bring this shit back (or the singers’ appearance on the Edgeland podcast), but I am a sucker for the era when B9 actually hosted one of the pre-eminent “stables” in HC.

Cool that Death Threat covered Chain of Strength here, and there’s never much to complain about when a bunch of stylized skulls are in play, I’m just glad it wouldn’t come to visually be define Death Threat for decades in the years to come.

now here fast.jpg
2004 Now Here Fast (Triple Crown)
Here’s hardcore firmly in that tweener era where there were actually labels doing CD-only HC releases. Here’s the Death Threat stuff I listen to the least (“so go ahead and talk about me, you’ll only fuel my fiyahhh.” Editor's Note: I know those are FGAG lyrics, just seemed appropo) but I’m happy that at this point, they’d been using so much of Noah’s art. I’m also happy to see a heavy, moshable band fucking with neon color palettes in an era before Turnstile.

Floorpunch or Release may have created the most iconic version of the “hooded HC edge guy” Death Threat had their own version (who originally appeared on the CD design of Last Dayz). He kind of looks like a Scooby Doo villain, which I fully support, this is the kind of design that would give some precedence to Death Threat’s “lighter” T-shirt fare.

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2004 Live @ Showcase Theater
Here’s a Bonus 7”. I never actually had this one, but it was the background for the B9 board for a long time and you can see some great flyers from a bygone era scattered throughout.

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2009 Lost at Sea
Besides the awesome Outburst cover, I just thought this was a fantastic album anyway. I had a full size 18x24” print hanging in my dorm and I got clowned by it from the one girl I tried to date seriously in college.

Giant ass sword a’la the dark side of Adventure Time and a “Lost at Sea” logo pulled straight from the Jim Phillips school of design, something that could have legitimately been a skateboard wheel graphic for Santa Cruz back in the Streets of Fire days.

Check Death Threat’s infrequently updated Tumblr here.

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Iron Boots: 10 (biased and subjective) thoughts

The band who got Town of Hardcore's esteemed "Demo of the Issue" award with their tape. Maybe you downloaded their work on SLSK and have had to make sense of song titles like "Beachside Pain" and "NeedlesXXX." Maybe you've retroactively sought them out upon exposure to the incessant grooving of Fire & Ice, etc. Either way, here's 10 personal nuggs on my favorite band from Virginny Beach, ever. 

1) Warzone Ambassadors 2003-2008
They wore the sonic influence proudly on their collective sleeve, and if I can be honest for a second, helped me develop a taste for lesser hyped entries in the WZ catalog like Open Your Eyes

2) Fried Chicken and 40 oz's
In an ish of Town of Hardcore (that I can't access right now), a member of the boots camp negated edge talk with his declared love of "fried chicken and 40 oz's." The quote has always stuck with me. 

3) Nashville Tennessee
I saw them at a pizza place in Nashville, sharing a bill with Depression (from ATL), Bracewar and locals Discontent and Hollywood. The place was barely bigger than a broom closet, but quite well attended. Boots played heel and covered "Foreign Job Lot", and I procured a Shark Attack "Feeding Frenzy" era shirt from a guy selling off his collection. That's where the joy ended though. I ended up getting in a huge fight with my Mom (LOL) on the drive back because I forgot to tell her where I'd be and the night ended on a bum note for everyone who bore witness to that conversation....

4) Richmond Virginia
I saw them that same year in Richmond on a bill I'll forever compare shows to (Cold World, Righteous Jams, Justice, War Hungry, etc) and at some point during Iron Boots' set, a fight broke out in the crowd. I don't know what the beef was over, but without missing a beat, the bassist began plunking out the riff from "Clobberin' Time." The timing rocked and it killed the fight when everyone started laughing. 

5) Skinhead Art
While the Justice Look Alive EP introduced me to Spoiler's illustration, I think the Iron Boots Skinhead stuff is practically definitive of that era. Very coveted shirts at one point and still some of my favorite work by Spoiler

6) EZ Green
A perfect 7" that doesn't get enough credit for being such a spectacular riff record. Yeah, they sounded a lot like Warzone, but that guitar work? Nary a wasted riff in those 4 tracks. Also, "Steam" reminds me of a Pressure Release song.

7) Ocarina of Time
I swear I read that the name was initially conceived in relation to the item in Zelda. Confirm/deny?

8) Bbizarre
For years, I thought that their track on the Rev comp was stylistically supposed to be called "Bbizarre." Nope. Turns out some doofus just mis-tagged it before uploading it on Soulseek. That's what I get for not buying it I guess. Cool that Boots got 2 tracks on that comp.

9) Praying at the Alter [sic] of Raybeez
I found this quip on a blog while doing some research. I can't make this stuff up.

10) The fabled Iron Boots LP
On the aforementioned blog, I found a little nugget about what happened with the LP that was in the works. Apparently it was to be released on Parts Unknown in the US/Powered in Europe. They recorded it twice because they didn't like the first session's production, and the second go-around, all their drum equipment was in storage. The songs were supposed to be the next logical step from Easy Green, but never got to see that official release. D'oh. For the whole interview and to read this nugget in its original context, visit the Soul Craft blog here

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Monday, February 9, 2015

The 10 Best War Hungry Songs (A Biased & Subjective Look)

Illustration: Dylan Chadwick.  A failed War Hungry shirt design
Whether I knew it at the time or not, War Hungry blew onto the scene with everything I wanted in a band. Great riffs culled distinctly from legit heavy metal, without being all corny and/or self-referential like some dumb Southern Lord beard band. I'm remarkably easy to please.

 "Riffs is riffs" as they say, and whether hardcore, metal, or some other shit, them's far more important than a band's mosh quotient. I hate quoting Stigma so much (do I?) but I'd say each one of these selections speaks for itself.

 Stay tuned for the forthcoming "biased and subjective anecdotes on War Hungry" blog feat:

  •  The ill-fated time I bugged them (via snail mail) to let me do a shirt graphic for them
  •  The claim that their name is a reference to Lord of the Rings
  • Pics and recollections of the time I saw them cover Black Sabbath's "Into the Void" for 8 seconds
  • my favorite War Hungry shirt ever

Here's my top 10 Wungy tracks ever. No particular order (except chronologically), these are all bangers. Feel free to write to me and tell me I'm wrong for not including _____. (You can't). 

2004 Demo Tape
1. Plain Pine Box
Titular greatness with a death obsession, i.e. the hardest TITLE of any War Hungry track period. Many riff changes here, but this author's fav comes at 1:20. 

2. Concrete Jungle 
0:23 when the riff gets just a little spacey. Peace to any band that can work in this many time n' tempo changes and not have to resort to that twitchy Level-Plane records bullshit. Was working a Guns n' Roses lyric into the chorus a good decision, or the best decision?  

War is In demo tape

3. Echoes 
The beatdown riff that  just keeps a-givin'. When the rhythm section drops in at 0:30, this cut jumps from "heavy AF" to "hold up, that bassline...." Try and listen just a-once bucky. You cain't.  

Divine/Demonic 7"
4. Labors of Hercules
I once read this was Hoodrack's favorite song to play live, but this was from a blog posted a few years before the LP. I only saw them twice, but they opened with it both times. "Double DEAL-ARR!" Peace to tracks that stay hard even as they're fading out.

5. Beg & Plead
Heavy as hell (but that's a good thing) but pretty standard HC meat n' taters rockin...til 1:30 that is. The track slows to a GD crawl and the sinewy riffing that unfolds around it must be experienced aurally to be adequately comprehended. 

Return to Earth EP

6. Master of Mankind 
Return to Earth (and most 1917 releases) already seem to be overlooked by contemp core history. Methinks it's because of Guns Up or because the vocals got awful "Weiland-y" here. Was this that era when hardcore dudes were trying to get into Velvet Revolver? Not sure, but I still dug every track. It even edged out "Tip Your Scale" for containing the lyric "my friends are wicked and worthless" and the riff that kicks in directly after. 

Cold World/War Hungry split

7. Final Hour
From the "good side of the Cold World split" comes the band's most satisfying song. "Send me all your horsemen, make me believe," "send me your wrath, I pity your weak" and that piano and that riff. Oh that riff. (1:25 if u real). 

Bad Seed/War Hungry Split

8. Empire of Idols Though the song did appear on the S/T LP, my fav is the recording which appeared on the Bad Seed split. It showcased that cool Danzig approach to singing, but also that ultra freaky fade out sample which I actually got in a heated debate with my brother over. Is it the Mormon Tabernacle Choir? He says yes. I say maybe. 


9. Broken on the Wheel
Lordy, when this LP dropped I wouldn't shut up about it. I even begged the staff at the mag I was writing for to let me write about it. The song summed up everything I loved about the band, including their awesome new gee-tar lineup, in just under 3 minutes. Little bit of groove, otherworldly soloing and the most insane vocal reverb of 2011 IMO.  

10. Shift  Yes it's a hardass track. Let's talk about the keyboard/Stone Temple Pilots "Wicked Garden" groove that goes down at 1:30. No wimps please. 

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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Thank you Satan, for Rock n Roll

Cocaine music for a degenerate planet. Overdose of rock n' roll. Doesn't the christian fundamentalist who made this realize that Crue was an 80's group, etc. 
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