Archive for Grindcore

Preview: Heavy MTL 2013

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 7, 2013 by Lightning Slim

And so the pilgrimage is set to begin again. Heavy MTL 2013 will (hopefully) be a good time that will rinse out the bad taste of encroaching cheapness that has overtaken the show of late. Main sponsor has switched from Budweiser to Molson Canadian, which is a bit like telling a captive that flogging has been discontinued in favour of foot-sole beatings.

Also, remember these?


The beautiful holographic VIP passes and lanyards that have been a cool feature of the MTL experience are now gone. Paper tickets only. Wonder how MUNG those are going to get when we have to show them to security every time we want to get into the seating area? Also likely gone is any sort of physical schedule, which was slowly eroded from a full magazine/brochure until last year it was a single flyer, inaccurate and delivered late in the day.

For the first time, MTL has offered its own dedicated accommodation package; a set of rooms at the New Residence of McGill University (the building itself is a former 4-star hotel). This could either be the best decision we’ve ever made or the worst, as it is inexpensive and convenient, and populated entirely with heavy metal maniacs. You see the double edge of the sword here, no?


Now, for the schedule. Here’s Saturday:

Sat Schedule


Although I’m a little sad that A7X takes pride of place over Megadeth, I totally get it. Dudes are old and tired. Not as successful as Metallica or grass-roots respected as Testament. Plus, Dave Mustaine is like three seconds away from pulling his pants up to his armpits and turning into cranky old Republican Clint Eastwood. Thing is, Eastwood has always been a “good guy with a gun”, and never wrote “Hook In Mouth” or covered “Anarchy in the UK”.  My crew will be hanging with Wintersun anyways.

Why are we forced to decide between GWAR and Blackguard while Halestorm is in the free and clear? Grr. Ah well, I can’t resist seeing what the inconsistent Antarcticans* can come up with in a festival setting.

Similarly, it hurts me that I have to run from interesting proggers Baroness to see a few minutes of jaunty, parodic Steel Panther.

Sorry, Newsted. A reformed At The Gates takes it. And a possible train wreck reunion of Danzig and Doyle is way more fun than All Shall Perish.

How about Sunday?

Schedule Sun

No interruptions to the silly fun of Huntress! Or Finntroll! Or the-real-reason-everyone-is-here Amon Amarth! Me likey.

Then there’s some time for a Dagwood sandwich, some people watching and a bit of a nap before Machine Head.

Thrash newcomers Havok would be in trouble if both Mastodon and Children of Bodom hadn’t played Canada 150 times in the past decade. I swear I’ve seen Mastodon more than the Dayglo Abortions, and it’s well-known the Dayglos will play your living room for $200 and a pizza if you can track them down. Looking forward to it, Havok!

While I actually enjoyed the mellow vibe Godsmack brought to their last appearance at MTL, I don’t need it again. Certainly not at the expense of missing Cryptopsy.

Zombie is never bad live – let’s hope he keeps his record strong.


Will report back afterwards, of course! Check my Twitter feed for on-the-day shenanigans!


* I love GWAR, but they can’t self-edit. Every record (excepting the first two) has at least one excruciatingly bad track on it. I made a “worst of” playlist and discovered they could play an hour long full set of filler.

Riff Sammiches: 5 Multi-Riff Masterpieces

Posted in Lists with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2012 by Lightning Slim

Welcome to the first segment in my new “Lists” category. Lists are a tried-and-true method for bloggers to put up some content when they’re a little lean on material. People also like ’em because they’re so flexible and generate discussion. After all, everyone has their own personal lists and they love to compare. I’m hoping y’all are no exception, so here we go:
We’re all here because we love a good guitar riff, and there are many ways to put them together and make songs. Some artists are stingy or minimalists, and keep their riffs sparse within the tune. Others are total riff factories and splash them about liberally. Here are five tunes made better by generous helpings of guitar goodness. And yes, of course there are more out there, probably by Tool and Machine Head, but I did want to keep things under the 9-minute mark:

5. Bolt Thrower – “Contact – Wait Out”. Featuring an unloved and unfairly judged one-off vocal performance from Dave Ingram, Honour – Valour – Pride starts off with a track featuring an entry riff, a mid-song change-up at around 3:20 and an exit riff that eventually blends with the entry. Superb.

4. Arch Enemy – “Enemy Within”. Another album starter, this time built on one of the best intros in the genre and the big debut of Angela Gossow. I always have to listen to this track twice because as beautiful as the solo section is, the rhythm guitar work underneath it is just as interesting.

3. Iron Maiden – “Powerslave” C’mon, where do you think Arch Enemy got the idea? Sure, we all know the big title riff, but the middle section has enough spare six-string in it write at least three more songs. Those were the days, no?

2. Overkill – “Gasoline Dream”. No strangers to riff largesse, Overkill often close out their records with something even more big and epic. Sometime it has to do with their Overkill-themed masterwork, sometimes not. “Gasoline Dream” is one of the stand-alones, filled with speed changes, multiple ideas and a Sabbath-influenced acoustic ending.

1. Black Sabbath – “Symptom of the Universe”. Did someone mention Sabbath? Mad drum fills! Super-stoned bouncy-bass outro! Cybernetic unicorns! Containing something for literally everyone, “Symptom” is like seven songs in one; none of which make sense and all of which are great.

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

Classic Album Review – Pitch Shifter “Infotainment?” 1996

Posted in Album Reviews, Sevens to Nines with tags , , , , , , on December 27, 2010 by Lightning Slim

  Pitch Shifter has two very distinctive career phases, the first being a sludge-industrial sound reminiscent of early Godflesh (indeed, the first record is simply called Industrial). The second and more well-known phase is a punk/breakbeat mashup with J.S. Clayden’s vocals switched from Captain Caveman to Johnny Rotten, ending up with a Pistols & Prodigy flavour. In between these two poles lies an interesting equatorial territory two albums wide, with Desensitized shouldering the weight of their sludgy heritage (with just a whiff of Big Black-style menace) and Infotainment? breaking further away with shorter song structures and electronic augmentation. The band would also lose the space in their name hereafter, becoming one-word Pitchshifter.

Structure is the main departure from previous material, with the bulk of the tracks devoted to verse-chorus-verse brevity, although “Hangar 84” experiments further with a hypnotic slide into pure jungle.  Those fond of the harder vocal style will find this record its swan song; there’s plenty of grind on hand but those moments share the stage with some early attempts at a cleaner delivery. The overall tone is more angry/political, supplanting the earlier mechanical doom and aiming for the knockout punch over slow suffocation.

I adore Infotainment? but it’s not a perfect record. It’s a bit short; twelve tracks yield eight actual songs with the other time devoted to intros and an admittedly cool collection of freeware samples. The album feeds off its own self-contained vibe as well – by the time “Whiteout” rolls around  at track 9, it seems like we might have heard it before, but because there’s nothing else quite like it before or afterward in the PSI canon, Infotainment? stands easily on its own merits. 8 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.

Deals and Steals: Retro Death Spectacular

Posted in Deals & Steals with tags , , , , , , , on December 21, 2010 by Lightning Slim

  Everything this time out has a connected theme of old-schoolness, as Chaosmas is a time of traditions! All prices $US, no shipping charges.

One Man Army and the Undead Quartet – 21st Century Killing Machine $5.07, Error in Evolution $5.99 and Grim Tales $8.99. Great opportunity to grab the entire back catalogue of this thrashback project from Crown singer Johan Lindstrand.

Finntroll – Jaktens Tid $7.99. What’s the season without elves? And trolls? Serious folk-metal business, Viking-styles.

Landmine Marathon – Wounded and Rusted Eyes Awake $7.99 each. Desert disciples of old-school grindcore. My crew saw these guys open for Skeletonwitch and couldn’t stop talking about them. Reviews will follow!

Album Reviews – Baroness “Red Album” 2007 & “Blue Record” 2009

Posted in Album Reviews, Deals & Steals, Sevens to Nines with tags , , , , , on June 15, 2010 by Lightning Slim

Long the darlings of the indie music magazines, Baroness finally piqued my interest when I saw both releases side by side* at Vortex Records. The surprised clerk declared this a shopping victory, and both records criminally underpriced at $7.99 apiece. “Blue is better than Red“, he said, “but both are pretty great”. Leave your Matrix jokes up here and proceed to the land of Baroness:

  My first listen to the Red Album  didn’t go so well, as I became infuriated by the sheer excess of the proceedings. Red sounds like Master of Reality, Opiate and Moving Pictures fighting in a burlap sack with the first Killing Joke record standing outside and beating them with a stick. Just when the head begins to nod to any particular beat or riff, or you attempt to puzzle out some of the deceptively simple lyrics, Baroness are off and running to new musical locations. There is beautiful musicianship here, but grasping it is for those with patience, as Red is going to steamroller towards its thundering conclusion with or without you, fueled up for the long haul and wearing a catheter. Recording is of the expensively shabby variety, with drums exhibiting a retro-cavernous feel that puts your melon right inside the kicker. Right around the fourth listen is when I started to get into the groove of things, although I think my perceptions were made more accommodating by having Blue on hand as well.

  The Blue Record is immediately more accessible, with more attention paid to traditional song structures, attempts at vocal harmonies and smoother transitions throughout. There’s a bit less noodling and a bit more engagement, playing fetch once in a while rather than merely inviting chase. The twin guitar attack is as precise as before, but it feels more like something Baroness are sharing with you rather than keeping to themselves. One less majestic thing Blue shares with its spiritual predecessor is a lack of direction to the vocals, almost as if it doesn’t matter to the band whether the tracks have a singer or not. It’s not poor singing or lack of intelligibility (I like grindcore, remember?), just a bit of a void on lung detail. Try to imagine the bummer if some of the bands responsible for the grab-bag of heaviness I mentioned earlier had a mediocre approach to vocals. I know it’s a convention of the sludge/doom/shoegaze scene to just stand there and yell, and not everyone is Serj Tankian, but music as sweeping, complex and mind-bending as the opus Baroness create on Red and Blue deserves hall-of-fame expression at each and every station.

Baroness are not every-day material, nor should they be. This is strong, heavy music that demands full attention. I suppose I could have just said the store clerk was right. Red: 7 out of 10 / Blue: 8 out of 10

*It could have been two hours of someone recording their farts and I would have made the effort to review these records, if only to get that fantastic artwork up. Band leader John Dyer Baizley is a polymath indeed.

Album Review – Success Will Write Apocalypse Across The Sky “The Grand Partition, and the Abrogation of Idolatry” 2009

Posted in Album Reviews, FourFiveSix with tags , , , , on May 28, 2010 by Lightning Slim

  If you’re still here after slogging through that ten-dollar grad-school title, you might be pleasantly surprised to know there’s a solid grindcore album hidden underneath. The former members of the equally cumbersomely named Bodies in the Gears of the Apparatus have submitted half an hour* of serious Earache Records inspired noise, and it’s pretty damn good.

Upon first glance, SWWAATS might seem like Job for a Cowboy, Dying Fetus or other American grind acts, but the difference here is in the influences they wear on the sleeves of their apocalyptic sacrificial robes. Morbid Angel, Napalm Death and Godflesh archetypes are the order of the day, with some Nailbomb/Fudge Tunnel electronic sandpaper layered underneath. They’ve even grabbed some of that early Carcass lexicography for their lyrics, with the odd F-bomb thrown in for Yankee street cred.

It won’t redefine the genre and it isn’t nearly as clever as the titles would lead you to believe, but there are riffs in them thar hills. It’s nice to know the kids are alright. 6.5 out of 10


*Minus the obligatory looooong pause before the bonus track. Whatever happened to actually hiding these things like NIN used to, or (my favourite) when Overkill put music into the negative count-up between tracks in 1994?

Deals and Steals: Hammer Time!

Posted in Deals & Steals with tags , , , , , , on May 13, 2010 by Lightning Slim

Just one contribution this time. Last week I was at Beat Goes On and saw a 2-CD label sampler from Hammerheart Records on the shelf for $6.99. I took a chance and grabbed it and I can tell you it was quite a find. It contains many, many bands:

CD1: Thyrfing, Primordial, Necronomicon, Havayoth, The Ravenous, Rebaelliun, Alas, Defleshed, Aeternus, Solstice, Aura Noir, Severe Torture, Thanatos, Skyfire, Hypnosia, Corona Borealis

CD2: Dimmu Borgir, Ancient, Tulus, Avrigus, Hades Almighty, Trelldom, Dead Head, Cruachan, Old Man’s Child, Dead Silent Slumber, Die Apokalyptischen Reiter, Infestdead, Invasion, Carpe Tenebrum, Kampfar, Halgalaz’ Runedance

As you can see, it’s chock full of grind, black, death, doom, folk and power metal from all the corners of the globe. Hammerheart (now known as Karmageddon) really casts the net widely, although all the songs on this compilation can be said to be loosely bound by their Norse paganism. Long story short; it’s a great deal and gave me some perspective on the state of pan-global extreme music in the early 2000’s.

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