Archive for Earache Records

Box Set Review – Various Artists “Grind Madness at the BBC” 2009

Posted in Album Reviews, Deals & Steals, Sevens to Nines with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 4, 2011 by Lightning Slim

What: Subtitled “The Earache Peel Sessions”, it’s a three disc set of just that.

Selection: 118 tracks from a pile of influential grindcore artists recorded in the 80s and 90s for the John Peel Show. Take a look (click and the res will clear up):

Is it enough? Some might miss the inclusion of Peaceville bands like Prophecy of Doom, but this is Earache’s party, the product of a deal with the BBC to identify and catalogue a bewildering pile of master tapes. It’s plenty! 8 out of 10

Packaging: Bare bones. Two jewel cases in a slip cover. The cover art is identical on the two disc cases – don’t you just hate that? Ah well, I suppose the grind aesthetic was never lavish. The initial pressing was in a gatefold digipack with a bigger booklet; go for that if you see it. In summary, nothing to put on display, but it will slot into a regular storage scheme. 6 out of 10 

Sonic Manipulation: These are Peel Sessions – in many cases the recording is superior to released product by the bands! 9 out of 10

Rarities/Extras: Again, nothing fancy. The booklet is an interview with Napalm Death’s Mick Harris, who shares some old war stories and pays respect to the memory of John Peel. 4 out of 10

Overall: Not a lot of fluff to be had, but if you’re all about the music this compilation is definitely value for money. My copy was $11 CDN from Encore Records, a deal that can’t be beat. A great snapshot of a wild chapter in the history of these artists, the legacy of John Peel and the development of extreme music in general.  8 out of 10

Classic Album Review – Bolt Thrower “Realm of Chaos” 1989

Posted in Album Reviews, Sevens to Nines with tags , , , , , , on October 25, 2011 by Lightning Slim

  If you haven’t heard Bolt Thrower’s second album, you’ve missed an important moment in the history of extreme metal. It’s a mess, but oh, what a glorious one. The album opens with what might be the sound effect of a steamroller or tank approaching, and then, for 35 minutes, the band attempts to emulate this sound using their instruments. The End.

Realm of Chaos, subtitled “Slaves to Darkness”,  is well named, doing Exactly What It Says on the Tin. It’s a lot like Kill ‘em All in its youthful exuberance, sheer sloppiness and ability to turbocharge the extreme attributes of genre. Metallica grabbed the burgeoning thrash movement and turned up the speed, the hype and the fun factor. Bolt Thrower examined the roots of grindcore and turned nothing up; they turned it down. Way down. The guitar tuning on this album renders the strings audibly rickety and spaghetti-like, turning even the fastest of riffs into a wallowing morass of sound. Perhaps BT felt that if Tony Iommi could play without fingertips, then they could bring new meaning to “slap bass” and just bash the instruments with their fists. Andy Whale’s “blast beats” plot a cringe-worthy rollercoaster course reminiscent of a tipsy driver barely managing to stay between the lines. The anguished, frenzied guitar solos are played as if  Gavin and Baz have jumped onstage with Slayer to join in the last 20 seconds of “Reign in Blood” and expect to be tackled by security at any moment. 

Sporting sheer sludginess that would make the Melvins blush, Realm of Chaos inhabits a universe of elephantine bruiting, monstrous roars and sudden cannon fire. There is no single identifiable human sound on this record. It stalks the desolate, crater-filled Warhammer 40000 landscape protected from any hint of irony by the self-contained armour of feverish conviction. Mankind’s dark future shall have no peace, no sense of humour, and certainly no death n’ roll.

There are bones to pick underneath the tracks of this death machine, but it seems churlish to bring them to light. So what if the beginning of “Plague Bearer” is lifted directly from the bridge of “World Eater”? It’s like saying Jackson Pollock used blue paint on more than one canvas. I have spoken with people who hate this album but still remain impressed with how bonkers the whole thing is, and that anyone would agree to produce it. I’m no hater. 9 out of 10

Album Review – Landmine Marathon “Wounded” 2006

Posted in Album Reviews, Sevens to Nines with tags , , , , , , , on December 23, 2010 by Lightning Slim

  Remember Star Trek IV where the giant alien ship comes to Earth and they want to talk to the whales and it’s kind of awkward because we murdered all the whales so the Trek crew has to go back in time to save the whales so the human race doesn’t get nut-punched by angry space whale-ians? Well, the story of Wounded is like that story, with less whale.*
In this story, secret metal scientists of today realize that American grindcore music is slick, repetitive and boring due to the lack of guidance from the European masters. All their readings indicate that without Bolt Thrower, all music will be doomed. To fix the problem, they create a beautiful grind-borg using some depleted uranium they have lying around and the DNA of Angela Gossow, Vas Kallas, Mel Mongeon and The Great Kat.
The grindbot (codenamed Grace) is sent back in time to 1988, where she travels to England and breaks into the headquarters of Earache Records and copies all the demo tapes. Then she steals several babies from an American orphanage and raises them in a secret desert hideout on a musical diet of nothing but Repulsion, Entombed and Brutal Truth. When they ask for techno, she beats them and plays Meathook Seed.
Eighteen years later, Landmine Marathon’s first album, Wounded, is released by this band of time travelers. The world is once again safe for old-school grindcore. The End – Or Is It? 7.5 out of 10
*Unless you mean Andy Whale, the drummer of Bolt Thrower.

Classic Album Review – Ultraviolence “Life of Destructor” 1994

Posted in Album Reviews, Sevens to Nines with tags , , , , , on April 13, 2010 by Lightning Slim

 It seems silly to discuss the artistic merit of an Ultraviolence record, but Life of Destructor is different sort of animal. Johnny Violent tries hard to reach out of his hardcore ghetto, striving to be the Wagner of gabber, or Lou Reed if the songs of street level romance were fuelled by PCP instead of mellower fare. Life of Destructor  is unique in Violent’s discography, being the closest he can get to subtlety. The songs let the listener come to them, without spoon-feeding the concept the way PsychoDrama over-does it, and wrapped inside that cartoonish cover art is the gripping story of a personality in the process of disintegration. Imagine a copy of The Wall being found by a future advanced civilization who decide that it’s a great concept but needs to be played about ten times faster. 

“I Am Destructor” establishes the thudding leitmotiv of the whole piece, before “Electric Chair” takes over and machine-guns its way into your heart. It’s hard to pick stand out tracks, because everything fits into the flow so well. “Hardcore Motherfucker”, at nine minutes, is just as much a cog in the wheel as all 48 seconds of “We Will Break”. It’s all leading somewhere oddly compelling; Violent kept returning to this sonic well for subsequent releases but nothing else made this kind of narrative sense. 

An alienating, primitive, unlovely and absolutely indispensable document of the one and only time a hardcore techno or gabber record was a coherent piece of art. 8 out of 10

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