Buried Treasure and the Joys of the Garden State Parkway

Posted in Buried Treasure on April 10th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Not that it’s not something I do on the regular anyway, but there’s something even more satisfying about going record shopping when The Patient Mrs. isn’t around. I guess it’s the illusion that I’m getting away with something, though basically, it’s that: an illusion. But a couple weekends ago, as I was headed down to Philly to catch Been Obscene share a Kung Fu Necktie bill with Borracho, SuperVoid and Clamfight (review here), she was gone for a few days and I took it upon myself to make a stop off at Vintage Vinyl in Fords to pick up a few odds and ends.

If ever there was a justification for the Garden State Parkway — which is among the most overpopulated, miserable, thin-laned highways I’ve ever driven on (and I’ve driven on California’s 101,  the Masspike into Boston and I-95 all up and down the Eastern Seaboard) — it’s Vintage Vinyl. Exit 130 if you’re going southbound, as I was, it’s a destination-type shop; one worth traveling to even if you’re not necessarily driving somewhere else. Jersey has a scant few remaining, but Vintage Vinyl is the one most geared toward the heavier end of the spectrum. The metal CD section is the first thing you see after getting in the door. Awesome.

Most of what I grabbed this time through was stuff I’d reviewed by wanted a physical copy of. I’ve ranted enough about how much it annoys me to make these purchases — I suppose if someone had to be the last one to place any value whatsoever on my time, it was bound to be me — so I’ll spare that, but I was still glad to nab recent outings from Samothrace, Troubled Horse, Darkthrone, Orange Goblin and SardoniS. I’d wanted to get Royal Thunder‘s CVI and finally give it the listen I’ve felt it really deserved since I saw the band in Manhattan in February — even though their guitarist spit beer on the crowd — but decided to roll with the preceding 2010 self-titled instead.

That’s an old impulse. I remember being upwards of 10 years old, hearing a band’s song on the radio, and then buying the album before to hear where they came from. I don’t know if I’m the only one who does it, but it’s something I’ve always done. It’s a two-sided deal, because I do get to listen to the origins of a band, or at least the relative origins, but don’t get the material I want to hear. Why, when I was obviously buying a stack of discs, was I limiting myself to just one Royal Thunder CD when I could’ve easily solved the problem by getting both? I don’t know. Old habits die hard.

Fortunately, the self-titled is pretty awesome in its own right, though I think the pick of the haul might have to be Beast in the Field‘s 2009 sophomore outing, Lechuguilla. The Michigan instrumentalists hadn’t quite yet adopted the Satan-loving aesthetic of their two subsequent albums to date, 2010’s World Ending and 2011’s Lucifer, Bearer of Light, but the work itself is no less malevolent. Broken into six tracks, the 37-minute long-player is essentially one extended piece, building a huge tension throughout the first several tracks before finally landing at full impact with “Lake OF Blue Giants” and carrying a vicious lumber through the remaining two extended cuts, “Castrovalva” and “The Emperor’s Throne Room.” I got turned on to these guys last summer when I was out their way en route to Days of the Doomed II, and I have yet to regret getting ahold of one of their albums. I’ve got them all now, so they’re four for four in my book, and hopefully Lucifer, Bearer of Light has a follow-up soon.

I’d heard Mirror of Deception‘s previous outing, 2006’s Shards, and so was glad to pick up 2010’s The Smouldering Fire on the cheap with the bonus disc, and something I’ve been meaning to get as long as I’ve been meaning to get to Vintage Vinyl was My Sleeping Karma‘s last album, Soma. The purchase was bittersweet (it’s the first of their albums I’ve not been given a physical promo to review), but I was comforted by the opportunity to hear the two bonus tracks in the digipak version. First is “Interlude by Sheyk rAleph,” performed by the long-tenured German sitarist/psychedelic soundscaper Ralph Nebl, who uses Sheyk rAleph as a stage name, and second is “Glow 11,” a remix credited to Holzner & Kaleun that brings electronic beats into the melting pot of My Sleeping Karma‘s heavy psych meditations. What’s really interesting about it is neither would’ve been out of place had they been included as part of the album proper, which I guess shows just how expansive the band’s palette has become.

Of course, the subsequent gig at Kung Fu Necktie was the highlight of the night, but a bit of record shopping beforehand certainly took the bite out of the trip, there and back afterwards. And The Patient Mrs. was kind enough to not even mention it later, letting me keep my delusions of sneakiness, so really it was an all-around win however you might want to look at it.

My Sleeping Karma, “Interlude by Sheyk rAleph”

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Darkthrone, The Underground Resistance: Blowing the Reactor

Posted in Reviews on March 5th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

The thing about Darkthrone some 25-plus years into their career is they don’t give a fuck. A lot of bands say that, but few say it as convincingly and have the fuckall in their approach to back it up that the long-running Norwegian duo seem to toss off on their records like so many squibbly riffs. Where that attitude has manifested itself over the course of their last several full-lengths as a raw, lo-fi punk aimed hard at the very roots of the black metal Darkthrone once pioneered on albums like A Blaze in the Northern Sky (1992) and Transylvanian Hunger (1994), their newest full-length and 16th by my count, The Underground Resistance (Peaceville), finds them blending that rawness with a traditional metal approach manifesting many of the influences they’ve claimed since 2007’s N.W.O.B.H.M – New Wave of Black Heavy Metal single signaled their transition from the blackened material of 2006’s The Cult is Alive – actually it was kind of stagnant — to later 2007’s F.O.A.D. (Fuck off and Die), at once a declaration and defense of its own stylistic shift.

But at this point, having pushed that punkish sound as far as it could go or at least as far as they were interested in pushing it with 2010’s bored-seeming-but-still-effective Circle the Wagons (review here), I honestly think that praise heaped on The Underground Resistance and harsh criticism of it sound the same in the ears of multi-instrumentalist/vocalists Ted “Nocturno Culto” Skjellum and Gylve “Fenriz” Nagell: It’s all just noise. If that’s actually the case, I don’t know, but it’s at least the perception and that character has become as much a part of Darkthrone‘s sound as Fenriz‘s campaigning on behalf of classic underground metal, so fervent that band recommendations on the last couple albums have come on a per-track basis in the liner notes, with Darkthrone cited on occasion as influencing themselves. All this makes the duo a fascinating entity, but ultimately has little to do with the music, which on The Underground Resistance remains as confrontational as ever in this semi-novel aesthetic sphere. The sound of the album’s six tracks is fuller and occasionally grander than that of Circle the Wagons or 2008’s Dark Thrones and Black Flags before it — as heavy metal was when it emerged early in the ’80s to distinguish itself from punk — but raw enough in its production to be called consistent. That is, between Nocturno Culto‘s trademark gurgle and the speedy gallop of the riffing on the penultimate “Come Warfare, the Entire Doom,” there’s little doubt you’re listening to a Darkthrone record, whatever kind of shenanigans they might be getting up to this time around.

And while homage is paid throughout the album’s 41 minutes to the likes of Manilla Road, Pagan AltarCeltic FrostBathory, Iron Maiden and Mercyful FateFenriz rounding out the album with some pretty mean King Diamond-style vocal drama on the 14-minute closer “Leave No Cross Unturned” — whatever sonic references they might be making are filtered through their own approach so that Darkthrone still sound like Darkthrone. I don’t know if I’d call The Underground Resistance re-energized as compares to Circle the Wagons, but as a band who’ve emerged as being pretty self-aware over the last decade or so, they probably could sense it was time for a change in their approach, even if it wasn’t a conscious decision between the two members as they wrote their individual parts. Three years is also the longest break between Darkthrone albums since 1996’s Goatlord and 1999’s Ravishing Grimness, and if the extra time was spent developing this material, I’d have to believe it. Even “Leave No Cross Unturned,” which seems to switch back and forth between Fenriz and Nocturno Culto parts, nonetheless winds up with one of the collection’s strongest hooks in its chorus with the oft-repeated title line. Finding earlier companionship on the album in “The Ones You Left Behind,” which works from a similar foundation musically, it’s all one could reasonably ask of a closer for an album like The Underground Resistance, which makes a weapon even of its most accessible moments.

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Frydee Trouble (Also Frydee Darkthrone)

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 22nd, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster


I will sing praise in thy name…

Blah blah blah Jesus.

You know, I kind of struggle with knowing how personal I should get in these posts. I’m glad this week to have gotten back to the point where I fill the full frontpage with new stuff, but fuck me sideways, it wasn’t easy. And man, everyone works hard. I’m not the only one with two jobs. I’m not the only one who works late. It’s a fine line between explaining my situation and whining, I think. I don’t get to post as much as I want to, but you know, even when I didn’t have a job and I did five or six posts a day, I didn’t post as much as I wanted to.

So what’s new?

I picked Trouble tonight because it seemed like the only fitting end to this week. It was a pretty Trouble-y week, what with those Days of the Doomed reviews and all that craziness. I figured no better way to go. Sorry if you don’t like Trouble. Sorry if you don’t like The Obelisk. Sorry I drank all the wine.

Except that last one I’m not sorry about.

I’m gonna wait until The Patient Mrs. falls asleep, then I’m gonna go out in the field across the street and make black metal poses at the moon. And I’ll pretend like someone’s taking pictures of me except no one will be and I’ll pretend everything is high contrast black and white and I’m in Norway and I’m in Darkthrone and whatever. Frydee Darkthrone:

Yeah, that’s right, TWO videos. I’m shifting paradigms. Whole damn world’s upside down.

New podcast this weekend. Next week, reviews of Danny G., The Company Corvette, maybe Sons of Otis, so on. So help me gawd, I’ll have my interview with Justin Maranga of Ancestors posted, and it’s a good one. And I’ll work late, and I’ll bitch about that, and if I have time, I’ll write some about that Argus record I bought last weekend, and that’ll be fun too. Like, woo-hoo, man.

See you back here tomorrow or Sunday for that new podcast, on the forum in the meantime, and at your favorite jaded-rock-dude support group. SIJA: Self-Indulgent Jerks Anonymous.

Argh.

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Darkthrone Keep the Fires Blazing and the Graves Open on Circle the Wagons

Posted in Reviews on April 23rd, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

Norwegian legends Darkthrone and I have something in common: We both couldn’t give less of a fuck about the legacy of black metal. Though with earlier albums like Transilvanian Hunger and A Blaze in the Northern Sky, they helped shape that the genre would become in the ‘90s and beyond, the duo of vocalist/guitarist/bassist Nocturno Culto and drummer/vocalist Fenriz have morphed into an oldschool punk/metal wrecking crew, giving nods to Trouble and obscure/classic ‘80s speed metallers along the way.

Their oppositional stance to press, playing live and (occasionally) their own fans has made Darkthrone a pariah in the world of underground metal, and I doubt very much they’d have it any other way. As on their more recent albums, F.O.A.D. (2007) and Dark Thrones and Black Flags (2008), the latest, Circle the Wagons (Peaceville), was composed half by Fenriz and half by Nocturno Culto, and contains the barebones stuff of heavy metal hunger. Imagine being in a band for 23 years and still sounding as ravenous as though you were just releasing your first demo.

What’s most striking about Circle the Wagons opener “Those Treasures Will Never Befall You” is how produced it is. Of course, it’s all relative, but compared to Dark Thrones and Black Flags and F.O.A.D., which basically sounded as live and lo-fi as you can get, Circle the Wagons starts off sounding polished. I chalk it up to the added experience the band has recording themselves and maybe some new equipment at Necrohell Studios, where they make all their albums. Nonetheless, the song — a Fenriz composition — feels like the duo are starting to develop within this still basically new stage of their career, beginning to evolve within their punk/metal sound. The vocals are a little more complex in their arrangement, and on the whole it comes off as less reckless than some of their output in the last few years. It’s an interesting development.

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Darkthrone Have Decided that Wagons are “Totally Black Metal,” and Circling Them, Even More So

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 8th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

The PR wire owns your soul with this news about new Darkthrone. They rule and have an influence on underground rock farther reaching than any genre tag you want to saddle on them, so yes, the album will be covered here. If that makes me a hipster poseur loser whatever, I’ll gladly refer you to the banner at the top of the page and hope that clears up the argument.

Here’s the info:

The unrelenting Norwegian duo, Darkthrone, will welcome a new decade with a new album, to be released on Peaceville Records. Circle the Wagons, a creative feast of metal and punk, will initially be released on vinyl on March 8th, through the Peaceville Records webstore, as an exclusive taster for the legions of metal supporters out there who still care about great music delivered the classic way. The vinyl will also include a link to download a digital version of the album, which will be available when the regular and special edition CD versions of the album are released on April 6th.

Circle the Wagons was self-recorded at Necrohell II Studios. Artwork for the album comes once again courtesy of Dennis Dread, notable for his talents on previous Darkthrone albums, F.O.A.D. and 2008’s Dark Thrones and Black Flags.

Drummer/lyricist, Fenriz explains the meaning behind the title…

“The new metal decade starts with our album. It is a message to the invaders of our metal domain to circle their wagons!  With our own brand of heavy metal/speed metal-punk we are a constant ambush on the modern overground metal traitors. Join us in our fight against instant gratification, and let’s see who stands when the smoke clears.”

Track listing:
01. Those Treasures Will Never Befall You
02. Running for Borders
03. I am the Graves of the 80s
04. Stylized Corpse
05. Circle the Wagons
06. Black Mountain Totem
07. I am the Working Class
08. Eyes Burst at Dawn
09. Bränn Inte Slottet

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