Punk: caught between protest music and poetry

It’s worth quoting Greil Marcus at length in this regard:

“[I]n the beginning, punk was indeed a sort of secret society, dedicated not to the guarding of a secret but to its pursuit, a society based on a blind conviction that there was a secret to be found. Was it that once the secret was seemingly discovered, once punk became an ideology of protest and self-expression – once people knew what to expect, once they understood just what they would get when they paid their money, or what they would do to earn it – the story was ready for its footnotes? In the United States, primitive enclaves had formed across the country (nightclubs, fanzines, record stores, a half-dozen high school students here, a trio of artists there, a girl locked in her room staring at her new haircut in the mirror) though perhaps less in response to the thrill of hearing $10 import copies of the banned ‘Anarchy in the UK’ single than to newspaper and TV features about London teenagers mutilating their faces with common household objects. Real discoveries were taking place, out of nothing (‘The original scene,’ said a founder of the Los Angeles punk milieu, ‘was made of people who were taking chances and operating on obscure fragments of information.’).” – Souciant

Punk was unformed but searching.

Then later, it became streamlined.

It struggled to escape its rock heritage as protest music, and reconnect with its inner poetry, which wanted more than what life offered.

Punk was initially an orgasmic, messy, uncategorizable cultural explosion of mutually contradictory tendencies. Visually, dayglo pinks and greens (X-Ray Spex) collided with fascist and communist imagery (Sex Pistols) and stark black military surplus (Crass) – or bondage — gear. Meanwhile, guitar-driven rock and roll (Ramones) mixed weirdly with androgynous, keyboard-driven experimentation (The Screamers;) and also, inflammatory and reactionary sentiments (Black Flag’s “White Minority,” or the original version of Siouxsie’s “Love in a Void”) were combined confusingly with Marxist and anti-capitalist motifs (The Dils’ “Class War” or anything by The Clash.) That was why punk was so genuinely scary to the public at large. It was a mess of conflicting imagery and sentiment, all of it intentionally provocative.

After punk died, metal carried on this spirit.

Instead of being confused, it went in a literary direction: aspire to the poetic and epic in life.

For this reason, it is less social, political and concrete, and more spaced out. Hobbits, aliens, zombies, knights and wizards.

It’s worth noting that now metal is trapped between the protest music (Gojira) and that which still aspires (Demoncy).

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After Mayhem metal radio show

“Christian metal,” Led Zeppelin the person, lack of good tour packages, and Benjie’s top 10 EPs. We talk about upcoming possible interviews, lots of gas, and lonely old Benjie after Sawyer graduates. We talk giant bruises, phone attacks during the show, and our upcoming Halloween special. Enjoy this little nugget until we return on Oct. 27th. Keep it METAL!

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Thevetat – Disease to Divide

Two of the most epic styles of death metal were the aggressive flood-of-noise NY style exemplified by Incantation, and the melodic style demonstrated by bands like Asphyx or Demigod which added a melodic superstructure to a series of vicious riffs. Without losing its distinctively New World character, Thevetat joins the abrasive and inhuman sounds of early Incantation with an occult melodic sound.

A mystical death metal experience results. While on the surface this music sounds like a train rushing past in a subway tunnel (preferably during total warfare) its underlying mood is that of hidden potential, arising from violence to show us not a structure within a structure, but a structure enclosing the visible structure we see. Its occult nature derives from this ability.

Guitars tend to follow the surging stream of power chords that defined Demoncy and Profanatica as much as Incantation, and the staccato muted-picking rhythms more like what Immolation or Revenant were using during the classic days of death metal. The result varies itself enough, between its raw side, its melodic elements, and its hookish rhythm riffing, to keep its consistency from being overwhelming.

What is impressive about its consistency is that these songs hold together and make sense, unlike post-modern style “death metal” which uses what’s essentially carnival or cartoon music that attempts to string together radically “different” riff styles to keep the groundlings amused, these different riffs flow together to show us an expanding vision of what the song is trying to communicate.

Personnel on this album played on Ceremonium (Thomas Pioli) and Immolation (Craig Smilowski) albums of the past, and not only does the competence show, but so does the influence. The earth-moving forward thrusting riffs and aggressive attack of Immolation are mated with the somber and emotional moods of Ceremonium, then shaped into something of its own direction with the overall personality of the band. While this three-song CD is just a start, expect good things from this new/old band.

1. Lifeless

2. Transmigration of Souls

3. Nihilistic Doctrine

“Nihilistic Doctrine” and the other two songs can be heard on the bandcamp page for this EP.

Buy the CD

You can acquire this pro-press CD EP from its distributor, Dark Descent, for a moderate $6.

Learn more about the band on Thevetat’s Facebook page.

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Epidemic releases Pandemic: The Demo Anthology (2012)

epidemic_-_pandemic_the_demo_anthology

Bay area speed metal band Epidemic, which had touches of death metal hybrids like Kreator and Merciless mixed into its Exodus-style speed metal, released Pandemic: The Demo Anthology on Divebomb Records. The label reports:

Bay Area thrashers Epidemic are probably best known for their two classic Metal Blade albums, Decameron and Exit Paradise, released in 1992 and 1994 respectively, but what fans have been truly clamoring for is what we present now as Pandemic: The Demo Anthology.

This 2012 collection compiles all three self-released demos (Immortal Minority, Demo 89 and Extremities ’91) in one 19 track set. The newly remastered audio is accompanied by a 16-page booklet full of band-supplied archival photos and show flyers to give their fans the ultimate experience. For the fans, by the fans!

For those who like the more Metallica side of the bands between speed and death, this may offer something of interest.

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Agonized – “Gods…” demo CD-R available

Agonized’s 1991 demo, “Gods…”, has been restored at the local professional studio. Noise has been removed and worst odd tape anomalies filtered but the demo has not been remastered or has its sound changed in any other way. It sounds as muddy and bad and sinister it ever was in 1991.

Quick review: sounds like first album Sentenced combined with Belial, with vocals like Demilich (deep, burpish). For additional sound samples, see the band’s MySpace page.

This release is a CD-R copy of the demo on a JVC-Taiyo Yuden Premium branded CD. 5 euros+shipping. Contact directly for shipping details, payment information and/or other questions via Jari’s email.

1. Intro
2. Tortured

3. Long Live the New Flesh

4. Gods…

5. Devour the Saviour

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Desultory – Counting Our Scars

The term “melodic death metal” has lost all meaning with the rise of its postmodern form, which is essentially heavy metal or power metal (speed metal + later heavy metal) with death vocals, played at twice normal speed and using tuning and mode to achieve a melodic sound. The genre often fails because in an effort to deliver lots of those sweet ripping melodic moments, it renders itself uniform and thus passes like sonic wallpaper.

The best of the genre either takes after early Dissection, which is essentially heavy metal, or early At the Gates, which is essentially death metal. In the middle, there are those who combine the two, making what sounds like a cross between early Dissection and early Necrophobic. In this area, bands like Unanimated, Sentenced, Cemetary and Sacramentum made their great works. Desultory fit into this picture as well but was always just a bit more predictable and catchy than those bands would admit into their own music.

Some call it obvious, but the history of art shows us that the person who makes the most evocative form of obvious basically states what everyone is too neurotic to think clearly, and becomes a winner. For that reason, it’s a terrible shame that this album has been overlooked since it is better than almost everything to come out in the genre recently. Opeth and BloodBath fans in particular might enjoy this album which is equal balanced parts beauty and virulent darkness.

Riffs are catchy and strike a good balance between melodic hook and infectious rhythm with some aggression to it, a form which is downplayed but provides a good internal counterpoint to the sweet spots (in contrast to most bands, who do this externally by playing the verses as grinding madness and the chorus as undistorted or sickeningly over-harmonized AOR riffs). In song structure, this album is more like older death metal of the melodic type, but its soul is pure heavy metal of the type that dominated the airwaves in the 1980s, just with twice the complexity and technicality.

In many ways, this album fulfills the promise of melodic metal. It’s like a cross between Iron Maiden Number of the Beast and Slayer Reign in Blood. This is a hard mix to get right, and it’s fair to note that there’s more hard rock in this than even in Iron Maiden, but the end result is very pleasant listening that maintains a sense of longing and beauty in its atmosphere, while simultaneously raging against the darkness.

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Anata – Under a Stone with No Inscription

There is so much to appreciate about this album, starting with its technicality, but most prominently extended to its sense of a notched lock between a good rhythm and a good melody. The problem is that this release is infected with the post-modern-metal fascination for the carnival music style of intense variation, which ends up creating a lack of narrative, which must be substituted with primitive means like repetition and hook, pushing these out of place. The result is listenable but too busy; it turns everything up to 11 and as a result, almost nothing stands out, and its careful inventiveness in riff and variation becomes textural background. However, like Neuraxis — to which it is a close relative — this is at least a listenable form of metalcore-influenced late death metal.

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