I'm re-posting my writings that were on the site during what I'll call "The Althea Era." Around the start of May the brass had the AMAZING idea to bring in an editor to reign over us and take away control from the four people who had been in charge of the creative side for an entire year. Althea came from a completely different world than us, the world of newspapers, print media, word counts, and fake "major label" indie rock. Everything we worked for was tossed out the window and the tone was completely changed overnight. It was a total power grab and my side lost. My writing style was fucked with, word counts were placed on all of us and we were forced into almost daily squabbling over content. It was not fun in the least and definitely not what I signed up for when I started. Everyone was miserable and it showed not only every single day we all walked into the office but I stupidly took it home with me and into my personal life. Think of how I was in June; I was completely fucked in the head and I knew it.
Not ten weeks after "The Althea Era" started AirRaid was shut down "Temporarily" yet never returned. Coincidence? I think not.
Here are some record reviews I "wrote." We were only allowed to cover stuff before it was realeased, essentially shackling us to our small promo list and illegally downloading leaks. We were also only allowed to cover stuff that Althea approved; take a look at the stuff covered here and you can see what i mean. Each one went through intense re-writing, editing and paring down, even when they were already under the completely arbitrary and useless 200 word limit. This is some of the worst stuff I've ever written but since I had to deal with so much bullshit to just get it online in the first place I'm sure as hell not letting it languish on my computer. You've been warned.
AUSTRIAN DEATH MACHINE
Think of all the bad one liners Arnold Schwarzenegger has delivered over the years. Now imagine those one liners stretched into full length, semi-well developed metal songs. That’s what Austrian Death Machine has set out to do.
This high concept record is the product of As I Lay Dying vocalist Tim Lambesis‘s imagination. Lambesis also takes care of all the music on the record excepting a few guitar solos here and there. However despite those obstacles, Total Brutal is actually a pretty solid modern speed metal record. Total Brutal’s breakdowns are tasteful and don’t seem forced, the pace rarely drops below a steady gallop, and the skits, with Lambesis doing his best Governator impression, end before getting stale.
For a record that’s little more than a one note joke it surprisingly warrants repeat listens. If Lambesis chooses to do another album in this vein it’ll be overkill, but for right now few things will beat hearing a grown man growl “Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers” in his best metal voice.
Unlike most bands that crank out a new album whenever they have ten songs written, Chronic Seizure took almost two years crafting the songs that make up Ancient Wound, their debut LP. Songs like “Over My Shoulder” and “Slow Death in the City” have been staples of their frantic, often sub-fifteen minute live shows since mid 2006. By refusing to fall into the trap of releasing new music before it was ready, Chronic Seizure solidified their place at the forefront of the current
Ancient Wound represents a massive leap forward in songwriting and performance for the band. Instead of slapping four chords and some yelping on top of a fast drum beat, the guys wrote real songs with intros, bridges, breakdowns (but not of the “chugga-chugga” variety) and memorable choruses.
Ancient Wound is a front runner for record of the year and possibly for hardcore LP of the decade. They are not allowed to break up any time soon.
FOXBORO HOT TUBS
Stop Drop and Roll
By now the secret is out about this album; it’s the guys in Green Day and a few of their assorted hanger-ons playing Kinks/Question Mark And the Mysterians style garage rock. One listen to the title track is all that’s needed to figure out this fact. Stop Drop and Roll starts off as a wildly successful experiment, perfectly reproducing the sound and artistic aesthetic of a bygone era. It’s fun, toe-tapping music to put on at a little league game or a Memorial Day barbecue.
The only problem is the achievement doesn’t last. Stop Drop And Roll might be the most top-heavy record released in ages. Literally all of the weak songs appear on the second half. The choruses are less memorable, the required ballad appears and immediately puts the listener to sleep, and the record simply limps along until “Pieces of Truth” offers a little redemption at the end.
Stick to the first six songs they put up for free download a couple months ago.
Ever seen Heavy Metal Parking Lot? Remember the dude in the striped shirt who says "Heavy metal rules! All that punk shit sucks! It doesn't belong in this world, it belongs on fuckin' Mars man!" Now imagine the guy and four of his closest dudes locked away in a basement for 25 years with no contact with the outside world and the only form of entertainment was band practice. Got it in your head? That band would probably sound a lot like Hatchet.
One can almost define this album by what it’s not as much as what it is. There’s no post-1985 influence anywhere on Evil Awaits. This is the most classic sounding metal to come out in eons: blast beats are non existent, death metal grunts don’t make the cut, no punk rock/crossover slam dance energy seeps in, and the guitars are all in standard tuning. Shit, the dudes are even wearing gauntlets on their arms in their promo pictures!
Hatchet sounds like a power metal band taken straight from the genre’s early 80s heyday. No song (well, minus the required acoustic introduction track, naturally) clocks in at under four minutes. Marcus Kirchen's vocals are clean, yet he still tries to sound threatening by exactly mimicking the inflections of Slayer’s Tom Araya. Banshee screams occur at least once a song. The numerous solos are vintage 1984 Kirk Hammet, meaning that there are so many hammer-ons and pull-offs per minute that your head will be spinning.
This is a totally enjoyable record that came completely out of left field. Death to false metal.
Being in this band has to be like being on the 1940 Washington Redskins, the team that lost 73-0 to the mighty Chicago Bears in that year’s NFL Championship Game.
Much like the Redskins, One-Way Mirror probably put some hard work into getting to where they are. It takes hard work to get to any championship game, and yeah, congrats on the record deal with Metal Blade, a pretty legendary force in certain circles. However, much like the Bears did to the ‘Skins, reality is about to pummel this band into total submission and back to the suburbs.
Isn’t nu-metal dead yet? Isn’t it 2008? Can someone please stick a shotgun in its mouth and do the deed once and for all? This disc screams “Family Values Tour 1999 Second Stage.” Following the Limp Bizkit formula to a T, this record even features a nu-metal version of the Frankie Goes To Hollywood song “Relax.” WHERE THE FUCK IS THAT SHOT GUN, OH MY GOD?!?
Shame on you Metal Blade; the only allowable excuse for this is that it’s somebody’s cousin’s band.
Disappointment is the word of the day. In 2006 the Street Dogs finally made the record that they were always capable of with Fading American Dream. That album combined the best elements of Billy Brag, The Clash, Cock Sparrer, and Bad Religion into a diverse, yet thoroughly punk rooted album. They finally escaped the self imposed Oi! straightjacket.
State of Grace sees the restraints re-shackled with new, rock and roll strength Masterlocks. The brisk, fast paced songs have been replaced with paint-by-numbers, radio-ready rock songs. “Rebel Song” could be the theme song of the next Sturgis Rally, the “sha-la-la” sing-a-longs of “Elizabeth” almost beg for people to cheesily wave their hands and lighters in the air, and any live performance of of the obvious first single “Two Angry Kids,” with its bouncing slide guitar riffs, will almost certainly be preceded by a speech with vocalist Mike McColgan screaming “I WANT TO SEE ALL OF YOU JUMP!” or some other inane and patronizing demand.
Not all of the songs are terrible; the group’s ode to Joe Strummer “The General’s Boombox,” the catchy opener “Mean Fist” and the looping bass line of “Guns” save it from pure cut out bin status.
With State of Grace the Street Dogs seem poised to break into the lower echelons of mainstream recognition. It’s just a shame it will come on the merits of a transparent and disappointing album.
Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace
What’s the opposite of the Midas Touch? The Bob Rock touch, obviously. Try to think of a good record that guy’s been involved with. It’s tough, isn’t it? The Offspring is the latest victim of this super producer/enemy of good music with their latest album Rise And Fall, Rage and Grace.
Here’s the breakdown of what you’re getting with this new record: three galloping skate punk tunes that could have been written in 1994 (Half-Truism, Trust In You, Hammerhead), a late period Green Day rip off (Rise and Fall), a Gary Glitter style stadium glam rocker (Stuff is Messed Up), three ballads that scream out for airplay on the local ‘adult alternative’ radio station (A Lot Like Me, Kristy Are You Doing OK?, Fix You), a couple mid tempo rockers, and no novelty songs. Musically it’s easily the band’s most eclectic album.
Do the experiments work? Kind of, but not really. Nothing on Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace is offensively bad, but not too many songs demand repeat listens. The attempt at diversifying left The Offspring playing away from its strengths and putting out a pretty limp record.
Straddling the line between being a band with funny songs and being a complete joke band takes a delicate touch. If it swings too far to the novelty side your band will be written off in moments, but if it’s too serious no one will laugh; for the last five years or so The Steinways have been able to toe this rope better than most bands.
Gorilla Marketing is the group’s second full length and sees a marginal bit of maturity creeping into the basic, three chord pop-punk song structure. The shortest song on the record is 1:04, as opposed to the numerous five second goof songs that populated previous records. In fact, “Half Baked Heartache” and “Oh Angela” can be described as downright melancholy.
Lead guitarist Ace and bassist Michelle take several lead vocal turns; their smooth voices contrast nicely with main vocalist Grath’s raspy whine to create a varied sonic palette.
On the lyrical front the band remains as slap happy as ever. Gorilla Marketing tackles hard hitting subjects like masturbating at work, being hated by journalist Jessica Hopper, stupid girls who only date hipsters, and the plight of a man who no one want to make out with (solely because he wears sweatpants). Crass this is not.
This Off With Their Heads half review was what I was working on on July 17th around 3:30 or so when Juan called me into his office and let me know that my hours were cut in half and that simultaneously the Althea era and AirRaid were dead. Check it out, I was caught in the middle of a fucking sentance!
OFF WITH THEIR HEADS
From The Bottom
By this point Off With Their Heads is such a household name in certain circles that it’s kind of hard to believe that From The Bottom is its first full length.
For most of the record the lyrics follow suit with the best of OWTH’s past material. Ryan Young’s words make the listener want to pound back shots of cheap whisky to forget their shitty life, yet oddly celebrate the bitterness at the same time. However the album’s final track “I Hope You Know…” has Young showing a previously unseen vulnerable side, plaintively begging for forgiveness with “