Sunday, 19 September 2010

If music be the food of love, put that piano in batter #4

Die Kreuzen. I know people make a lot of noise about their 'Cows and Beer' 7", and their first, self-titled, LP, but personally I prefer their later, artier stuff.
I think you can chalk that up to my only really getting into them because they were namechecked in a Voivod interview. I think it was either Blacky or Away that mentioned them as being an influence on Voivod's sound circa 'Dimension Hatross'.
Anyway, as with several other bands before them - Foetus and The Young Gods spring immediately to mind - I decided that if it was good enough for Voivod, then it was good enough for ME, and immediately went hunting for anything I could find by them.

As it transpired, I couldn't find a DAMN thing. But, as luck would have it, I noticed in Raw Magazine - of ALL places - that they had an EP coming out soon, so I waited....

I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, to be honest. Back in the time before the internet - this was 1989 - if you wanted to hear a band, you either had to buy a record, see 'em live, OR see if anyone you know had anything by them and ask for a tape. Since my friends at this point mostly listened to WASP and Slayer, if ANYTHING, and seeing them play was out of the question (or so i thought), I had to just buy their EP and hope it wasn't lousy.

It wasn't.

The title track, 'Gone Away', was a lot.....moodier than I was expecting, and the inclusion of 'Seasons Of Wither', an AEROSMITH cover of all things, surprised me, BUT, I liked it enough to want to flip it and check the B-Side.
As you know, the B-side of the 'Gone Away' EP is five live tracks, most of which appear on the 'Century Days' LP.
Now, THIS was more like it. Listening to 'Stomp' and 'Man in The Trees', I could TOTALLY hear Voivod in there. The weird chords were THERE.
One of the other tracks on the B-Side is a live version of 'Number 3', from 'Century Days', and it just knocked me out.

It completely entranced me.

I think I listened to it around 10 times that first DAY, and fell hopelessly in love with Brian Egeness's oddly metallic, deeply expressive, guitar sound.

The clouds of delayed guitar that make up the guitar parts of 'Number 3' are just beautiful, to my ears. The combination of chiming chorus, delay and tasteful use of the whammy bar really IS music to my ears. It chokes me up to hear it, sometimes.

As you do when you hear something that just GRABS you, you want to share it, so here is a live version of the track.....

....just LISTEN to that and tell me you don't find it at once heartbreaking AND uplifting. It gets me right *there*, y'know?

Aaaaaaaanyway, before I get all Emo, I'll move on. So. I had discovered Die Kreuzen. After a week or two, I managed to score copies of 'Century Days' and 'October File', which I liked very much - particularly 'Century Days'.
Of course, Voivod released 'Nothingface' a few months after 'Gone Away' came out, and I DEFINITELY noticed the Die Kreuzen influence THERE, which just about sealed the deal on Die Kreuzen for me.

Incidentally, 'Nothingface' is my favourite record FULL STOP, so anything operating in a similar ballpark gets MUCH love from me.

I see a lot of folks online badmouthing this whole period of Die Kreuzen, but the music they made from 'Century Days' to their final record, 'Cement', is the Die Kreuzen music that I listen to most often.
Yeah, I can dig their earlier more 'hardcore' material, but it doesn't GET me in the same way as the later music does. I put that mostly down to the Voivod thing, and the progression of Brian Egeness' guitar playing. He just played a lot of stuff that really resonated with me - tracks like, 'Number 3', 'Man In The Trees', 'Stomp', 'Gone Away' and MOST of 'Cement' - in particular 'Big, Bad Days' - are my favourite tracks by Die Kreuzen.
As I said earlier, his playing is just SO expressive and unique. NO-ONE else quite sounded like Brian Egeness, before OR since. Sure, Piggy and he touched base in a couple of areas, sound-wise, but really, their styles and approaches were completely dissimilar.

I was partially inspired to put this post together by a post over at one of my other gigs, Illogical Contraption, by IC buddy Aylmer about the FIRST Die Kreuzen LP. He kinda beat me to the punch, but, then again, I don't know if I'd want to subject the IC crowd to this kind of aimless rambling.

Before I love you and leave you, I just want to give you a couple of things - firstly, if none of what I wrote up there made any sense to you and you're wondering who the FUCK Die Kreuzen are, then I guess you'd better listen to THIS. It's a sampler containing material from Die Kreuzen's entire history and some interview snippets.

...aaaaand the SECOND thing i want to give you is the super-crappy video for my SECOND-FAVOURITE Die Kreuzen song, 'Big Bad Days'. Sure, the picture quality is lousy, but just LISTEN to the song, 'kay?

OH, and, I should ALSO advise you that there is an excellent Die Kreuzen site here, which is WELL worth browsing. Now, SCOOT.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

I will NOT apologise for saying your band is lousy.

One of my other gigs is as a reviewer and occasional interviewer over at The Sleeping Shaman, 'The Heavier Than Thou Webzine'. It's a wonderful site and a great resource for bands, run by the dynamic and awesome Shaman Lee - who is ALSO a fantastic photographer to boot! In the interests of cross-pollination and self-promotion, I have included links below so you can read my reviews. They're in alphabetical order, as you would expect from a comic nerd, and are up to date as of.....riiiiiiiight.......NOW.

Aquilonian & Sollubi Split CD
Bastard Of The Skies 'Ichor! Ichor!' CD (LOVE this CD)
Black Breath 'Heavy Breathing'CD/LP
Black Sun 'Twilight Of The Gods' CD (The LATEST!)
Blackwolfgoat 'Dragonwizardsleeve' CD
Bone Parade 'Vollmondlieder' CD EP
Celeste 'Morte(s) Nee(s)' CD/LP
Drainland 'And So our Troubles Began' 12"
Dusted Angel 'Earth Sick Mind' CD
Fistula 'We, The Beast' CD
Green Sky 'Remote World' EP
High On Fire 'Snakes For The Divine' CD/LP
Highgate 'Shrines to the Warhead' CD
Hull 'Sole Lord' CD
Into The Storm 'Amidst A Sea of Chaos' CD
Iroha & Fragment 'Bittersweet' Split CD
Jucifer & Show Of Bedlam Split CD
Karma To Burn 'Appalachian Incantation' CD/LP
Kerretta 'Vilayer' CD/LP
Kings Destroy 7" EP
Kodiak & Nadja Split CD/LP
Kuwahara 'Honeycult' CD
Locrian 'Territories' LP
Lords Of Bukkake 'Desorden Y Rencor' CD
Madder Mortem 'Where Dream & Day Collide' CD EP
Obliteration 'Nekropsalms' CD
Omega Massif 'Geisterstadt' CD/LP
Ommadon 'Part 1' CDr
Poison Dwarf 'Shit On A Stick' Demo CDr
Shroud Eater Demo EP
Snowblood S/T CD
Stonebride 'Summon The Waves' CD
Suma 'Ashes' CD
Switchblade S/T CD/LP
The Dead 'Ritual Executions' CD
Traktor 'Lights' CD/LP
Twilight 'Monument To Time End' CD/LP
US Christmas 'Run Thick in The Night' CD
Widows 'Raise The Monolith' CD EP

I shall endeavour to post further reviews as and when i can be bothered, quite frankly. So go read. Shoo.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Please sir, can i have some more?

Following on from the last post, I managed to get a decent quality vinyl rip of Calhoun Conquer's debut EP '...And Now You're Gone'. This EP contains 'Diane', their cover of the Husker Du classic, along with three other WEIRD METAL tunes.

Get it here

Monday, 6 September 2010

If music be the food of love, put that piano in batter #3

Calhoun Conquer. Anyone else remember them? No? Just me then? Ahhh, you kids. You don't know what you're missing.
I guess that, in hindsight, these guys pretty much had 'future cult oddity' written all over them. Swiss. Only released one LP, back in 1989, on a record label that only ever put out 28 records, then mysteeeeeeeriously vanished. Featured a member of famously evasive tech-metal gods Mekong Delta. Never played outside of their home country. Covered a Jerry Harrison song AND a Husker Du song on an ostensibly 'metal' record. Got a great review in Metal Forces.
Shoulda seen the writing on the wall really, shouldn't we?

The mainmen behind the band were the brothers Gerling - vocalist Geri Christian and bassist/drum programmer Stefan, ably assisted by Mekong Delta/Poltergeist drummer Peter Haas and guitarist Chris Muzik. The above video is for their cover of Talking Heads guitarist Jerry Harrison's 'Worlds in Collision', an odd choice of cover from a progressive crossover thrash band, but one that works incredibly well in conjunction with the other less-than-usual tracks on their singular full-length recording, 'Lost In Oneself'. Seriously, there are some odd songs on here, such as the indefinably strange 'Torturer', the deeply psychedelic 'Portals Of Delirium' and the surging drone of 'Outermost Consequences'....and then there are the lyrics.

I'll quote from 'Torturer', if I may -

'Dead Ashlars, petrified air, forceps are lying in wait. Screaming Ashlars, panting walls, ropes tighten and rip. Agony is sticking at the walls and the earth is discharging pus. The fire is asleep and the hours creep by, then he stands in the doorway. Agony is coming down the walls and lowers on everything. Hell stares out through every crack, the chamber of torture is starting to breathe.
The illusion man breaks through his hand. What remains is a screaming animal. The superl of his movements creates infinite fear. The illusion man breaks through his hand. What remains is a screaming animal. His desire is inexhaustible. His desire is inexhaustible'

....I'm sorry, what?!?!

As the song progresses we learn that the 'Torturer' in question is God, and the man in the song wishes to trade places with him for 2 years. Does this not strike you as very odd subject matter for a thrash metal band?!?!

Fucking. WEIRDOES.

But, you see, THAT is why I love them. I've always been attracted to the oddball bands, the rampant individualists. I don't like the 'cult (or KVLT) for the sake of being cult' shtick, I like the bands that just came out that way. Voivod, Calhoun Conquer, Anacrusis, Watchtower, Ved Buens Ende. I like HONESTY in my music, and those guys are as honest as it comes because they just can't HELP it.

Enough blather, here's more WEIRD METAL.

I mean, to ME, that sounds like old Suicidal Tendencies on Mars. In a GOOD way.

Aaaaanyhoo. Geri and Stefan have an official Calhoun Conquer MySpace page here, and they DID have a 'real' website, but it hasn't been running for a while. According to Geri, there is a whole unreleased second full-length in the can - tracks from which HAVE turned up on their MySpace and bode incredibly well for the quality of said record, but as of yet there has been NO sign of it.
They also cover King Crimson's 'Neal And Jack And Me', and do it VERY well indeed. If you are at all interested, there is also an EP called 'And Now You're Gone' that came out before 'Lost In Oneself', on vinyl only, which can be tracked down without too much tearing out of hair (which is more than can be said for 'Lost In Oneself!)'. I have a copy, but, alas, no decent digital version to put up here.

So, without further ado, here is 'Lost In Oneself' by Calhoun Conquer for your listening pleasure. Quaff heartily of its strange brew and enjoy.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

.....and so MODEST, with it!

A small update-ette here. I am now a regular contributor and honorary bro over at Illogical Contraption - my favourite blog. This, of course, is a great honour for me, and also for them. It is always refreshing to know that awesomeosity has been duly recognised and rewarded, especially when it is MY awesomeosity. After a couple of introductory posts, my first significant post went up there today, and you can read it here. Whilst I am blowing my own trumpet, I'd just like to say that I have finally cracked the problem of uploading files to mediafire AND putting hyperlinks up here, so i have taken the opportunity of re-upping the 'Closed On Account Of Rabies' Poe tribute, originally posted here, so you can now download the whole of each disc in one fell swoop. God I'm good to you.