The end is nigh people, and I thought I'd knock out a frivolous 'end-of-year' post for the sake of self-indulgence. I'm not gonna do a 'list' or a 'round-up', I'm just gonna mention a bunch of things that I have loved this year in no particular order aside from the order in which they enter my addled mind. As an arbiter of taste, I DO expect you people, my loyal, loving, public, to pay attention and think things along the lines of "OOOOoooh! Paul says that Bobby BeauSoleil is fantastic, so therefore he MUST be so I'd better go check him out!", just so's ya know. SO, here it is, some things what i have loved this year......
Angela Peak -
For being fantastic and awesome beyond the call of duty, AND for being my all-time favourite sexy assassin.
Bobby BeauSoleil -
Now, if you ask ME - which you ostensibly ARE - 2009 has been very much Bobbys year. We've had 2 high-quality vinyl releases of his music this year, BOTH of which are very much worth tracking down - The Complete Lucifer Rising Suite 4xLP box-set (released by The Ajna Offensive) and an archival 2 x LP release by Bobbys mid-60's 'electrified chamber orchestra, The Orkustra (released by Mexican Summer). I've had a thing for Bobbys music ever since I heard the expanded version of his Lucifer Rising soundtrack, but it took me until this year to track down a copy of the 2 x CD version. I won't bore you with proselytising on his behalf about his crime and his life, but suffice to say he has been thoroughly WRONGED by the US Justice system. He DESERVES freedom.
The Blackest Night -
For those of you that don't really know me, I am a comic book fan and have been since I was old enough to recognise spandex and capes (apart from the period between 1991 - 1999, which was a period of loooooow quality thanks to Image Comics, Rob Liefeld, multiple bagged versions of new number ones, and a general proliferation of unfeasible tits, stupid guns and fucking BANDOLIERS AND POUCHES). Over the years I've seen a fair few 'crossover events' happen - Secret Wars II, Crisis On Infinite Earths, Invasion, Civil War and, of course, The Secret Skrull Sleepover - and most of them have been basically a weak excuse to sell more comics and make the fans buy titles that they normally wouldn't touch with a ten-foot Boom Tube, BUT, I can honestly say that The Blackest Night is the most enjoyable crossover arc that I have EVER read. Add to that the fact that the prelude to the event, Green Lantern (vol 4) #43 is one of the GRIMMEST comic books that i have EVER read - containing, as it does, patricide, matricide, filicide, necrophilia, suicide and some kind of zombie-ism - and you have one HELL of a good read. I won't summarise the whole thing here, I just expect you to Google it as I am LAZY, but suffice to say that the arc as a whole has been gripping, brutal and thoroughly enjoyable.
Shroud Eater -
I hear a lot of bands in my capacity as a reviewer for The Sleeping Shaman website and Bad Acid zine, and just generally being a consumer of 'eavy music, but I find myself non-plussed a lot of the time - mostly down to the sheer MASS of bands out there. However, when Lee Shaman sent me a 3 track CD by the Miami-based band Shroud Eater I was BLOWN AWAY. Seriously, 3 tracks is NOT enough for me....in fact, hell, read my review below;
HEY YOU! Yeah, you with the Melvins t-shirt and the High On Fire LP under your arm...wanna hear somethin' new and totally killer? Wanna hear some dude cavemanning the fuck out of his drums, while depth-charging bass rampages under dirty, nasty FILTHY dark fuzzed out guitar? Wanna hear some of the ballsiest female vocals these ears have heard in many a year? YOU DO? Then you NEED to hear SHROUD EATER!
Formed in Miami, Florida, earlier this year, and comprising of Jeannie Saiz on guitar and vocals, Janette Valentine on bass and thundering powerhouse Felipe Torres on drums, Shroud Eater follow in the proud tradition of heavy as lead metal merchants from the area such as Cavity and the mighty Floor, adding a touch of the darker side of grunge and a hint of AmRep style noise-rock into the mix to create a tasty stew of scorching-hot filthy ROCK.
Straight out of the gates, Shroud Eater grab you by the balls and rock the shit out of you. Opening track 'We Are Beasts' sure makes it SOUND like we're dealing with ravening wild beasts, such is the ferocity of the attack. These songs have a sound and a feel that just totally GRIPPED me from the first listen, and continued to do so on the 10th listen. Hell, I'm still listening to 'em NOW, and wanting to hear MORE.
When I mentioned High On Fire at the beginning of this li'l screed, it was mostly down to the totally RIPPING rhythm section that both HOF and Shroud Eater have – Torres gives us that total rolling, pounding Motorhead-style THUNDER-MACHINE that Des Kensel also gives to HOF. I am in LOVE with the drum sound here – none of that 'clickety-click' triggered double bass horseshit, this is low-down NASTY pummelling, as is the sub-sonic low-end bass groove emanating from Valentine. No-nonsense, no frills BASS. Its one HELL of an engine room for Saiz to riff and rile the fuck out to.....and riff and rile she DOES. FEEELTHY fuzzed-up angular, DARK, stoner-rock riffage and ballsy, throaty yelling are Saiz's forte here, and she delivers in SPADES. Aces, even. Heh.
As for the actual songs themselves, MOLTEN opener 'We Are Beasts' manages to combine a groove similar to that of HOFs 'Cometh Down Hessian' with a grungy, discordant, angular edge reminiscent of Voivod (Yeeeeeeah, I KNOW, I always manage to get Voivod into every review somewhere...let it GO guys!) and even a touch of the whirlwind guitars of Sonic Youth circa-'Death Valley '69. Second track 'Vesuvius' gives us more of that dark discord, MORE of the CRUSHING drummage and a lurching feel that just really floats my boat in a BIIIG way.
Now....track 3 is where I have one, and only one, minor niggle with the band. Jean, Jan, Felipe – WHY did you have to put an instrumental track on a 3-track demo??? Don't get me wrong, its a good track, a little speedier than the other 2, riff-wise, but I just never feel like I'm getting what I want to hear from a new band when they include an instrumental on their debut release, if you know what I mean? Maybe its just me, but HELL, I wanted more of Jeannie's KILLER vocals. But, FUCK IT, Its still a solid track.
When all is said and done, I am LOVING the FUCK out of this band and this EP in general, despite the minor niggle – which is clearly one of personal taste. Oh, and mention must be made of Jeannie's fantastic artwork also. Seriously, this band has EVERYTHING right now, but mostly it has my undivided attention. Lets hope that some of the more tasteful record labels out there are ALSO paying attention, GREG ANDERSON, I'M LOOKING IN YOUR DIRECTION – RELEASE A FULL-LENGTH SHROUD EATER LP.
You heard me.