Friday Full-Length: Grief, Come to Grief

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 10th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

Grief, Come to Grief (1994)

Boston outfit Grief weren’t the first sludge band, but they might have been the first extreme sludge band. The really insane thing is that by the time they got around to putting out their sophomore album, Come to Grief, in 1994 — on Century Media, no less — their rawest work was already behind them. Their debut long-player, Dismal, had hit a year earlier, preceded by an EP of the same name, as well as the band’s first short release, 1992’s Depression. Between those and the couple splits between the first album and the second one, Grief‘s catalog had already forged some of its meanest output, and while I won’t take away from the grueling misanthropy that still pervaded their later work, albums like Miserably ever After (1996) and Torso (1998), Come to Grief seemed to be the perfect balance between regressive chaos and stylistic forward-thought that it’s the source of much of their enduring legacy to the point that when putting together a short-lived semi-reunion earlier this year, guitarist Terry Savastano (currently of Conclave) did so under the moniker Come to Grief.

Grief at the time was Savastano, guitarist/vocalist Jeff Hayward (now of Morne), bassist Randy Odierno and drummer Rick Johnson. Eric Harrison, who supplied Come to Grief‘s manic cover art, would later play bass in the band, and a full 21 years after its release, the album itself remains no less challenging than that cover. It is a slog, plain and simple. Single-minded in its disgruntled fuckall and deeply indebted as is much of sludge to hardcore punk, some of its riffing is no less akin to the death metal of the time — the key difference separating the two on a song like “Hate Grows Stronger” would be the swing in Johnson‘s drums — but even more than that, the album’s extremity is one of perspective. It would still be half a decade before Sleep belted lines about dropping out of life, bong in hand, but Grief give a way more accurate depiction of what mindset might actually lead someone to do that. Whether it’s “I Hate You” or “Stricken” or “Come to Grief” or “Fed Up,” which is almost Black Flaggian in how straightforward its lyrics are, Grief‘s pill-popping depressiveness is writ large front to back across the album, and being as it was the CD era, that’s a significant span at 54:32. I feel like anyone could take 36 minutes of this stuff, but then, Grief never seemed all that interested in making it easy for their audience.

Hope you enjoy, such as it is.

Rough day at work. I don’t think one breaks out Grief otherwise. I won’t go into it, but suffice it to say, I really, really, really wish I could do this for a living.

Went and saw Clutch, C.O.C. and The Shrine tonight. All three were killer. More expansive review on Monday. Yeah, I know it’s a holiday. Writing for this site is a treat for me at this point. It’ll be like fucking Xmas.

Also next week, a Snail review, and a Monster Magnet review, or maybe All Them Witches, depending largely on mood. Also hope to write up that Admiral Browning tape. Because it’s Admiral Browning, dang it!

It’s headed toward three in the morning, so I’ll leave it there. There’s other stuff coming up this week, but it’ll just have to be a surprise because it’s too late for me to think of it. We’ll be surprised together.

Please have a great and safe weekend, and please check out the forum and the radio stream. Especially the forum. The forum is fucking awesome. That’s the knowledge I have to share.

The Obelisk Forum

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Semi-Reunited Grief to Headline Oakland’s Deadfest 2015

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 8th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Ah, Grief. The band that taught sludge how to hate. Guitarist Terry Savastano will lead a semi-reunited lineup of the seminal Boston extremists working under a moniker taken from the title of their 1994 sophomore outing, Come to Grief, in headlining Deadfest 2015 in Oakland, California. The death/grind fest is set for Aug. 14 and 15 at The Oakland Metro and in addition to Come to Grief — whose lineup also boasts guitarist/vocalist Ken-E Bones of Long Island stalwarts Negative Reaction (who also have a new album in the works), Come to Grief-era drummer Rick Johnson and bassist Justin Christian formerly of Morgion — will feature the unwaveringly pulverizing likes of TerrorizerNauseaNoothgrush and Primitive Man over the course of its steadfastly anti-corporate two days.

Grief, whose last lineup was bassist/vocalist Eric Harrison, guitarist/vocalist Jeff Hayward, drummer Ray McCaffery and guitarist John Heidenreich, played their final show in 2009 after getting back together in ’05 following several years of inactivity. The band’s last full-length was 2000’s …And Man Will Become the Hunted, which was followed by the 2002 Turbulent Times compilation on Southern Lord, culling together rare an previously unreleased track’s from Grief‘s already tumultuous history.

Deadfest announced their lineup thusly:

deadfest 2015

Deadfest 2015 / August 14th & 15th @ The Oakland Metro / All Ages / $20 Each Day

2 Day D.I.Y Crust/Hardcore/Punk/Grind/Doom/Death&Black Metal Fest

2 Rooms / 4 Floor Stages / 15 Minute Sets

With:

Come To Grief (MA/NH)

Terry Savastano/Guitars (Martyrvore/Goat felch /Founder of Grief ex-Disrupt ex-Warhorse etc……) Rick Johnson/Drums (ex-Grief ex-Slugpuncher) Ken E. Bones/Guitars and Vocals (Negative Reaction) Justin Christian/Bass (ex-Morgion ex-Keen of the Crow) We will be performing mostly early Grief material ( First 7″,Dismal 12″ Come to Grief L.P.)

Terrorizer (LA)
Nausea (LA)
Capitali$T Casualties
Noothgrush (OAK)
Excruciating Terror (LA)
Endless Demise (LA)
Cretin (SJ)
Stapled Shut (LA)
Cloud Rat (MI)
Catheter (CO)
Laughing Dog (NM)
Backslider (PHILLY)
Cave State (LA)
Dope Runner (CO)
Primitive Man (CO)
And Many More T.B.A

https://www.facebook.com/pages/DEADFEST/713511178722510
http://oaklandmetro.org

Grief, Come to Grief (1994)

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Buried Treasure and the Sludge and Punk at the End of the World

Posted in Buried Treasure on November 21st, 2013 by JJ Koczan

There’s little question that Armageddon Shop makes its bones in the vinyl trade, and that’s cool. I’ve come to accept it at stores that what was for a time the format of record has in turn been replaced in prominence by the LPs that it originally took that position from. Turnabout. All good. Everything comes back around in time, or doesn’t, and I don’t mind craning my head to look at the spines on the wall of CDs in the basement store in Cambridge, my knees cracking as I crouch to see the shelves lower to the floor. It’s a reminder of the calisthenics I should be doing instead of buying albums in the first place.

My buying power is low at this point and I know it, but if you’ve been either to the Boston or Providence store, you know it’s not easy to walk out of there empty-handed. They’re gonna get you with one thing or another. This time around, it started for me with a used copy of Amorphis‘ lackluster 2011 outing, The Beginning of Times. Not an album I really cared to pick up, but for six bucks, I figured I could give it a home on the shelf and maybe find something in listening to it I missed initially. Next thing I know, here’s a copy of Zeke‘s second album, 1996’s Flat Tracker for $4.99, and the 1999 He’s No Good to Me Dead five-way split between Bongzilla, Grief, Negative Reaction, Sourvein and Subsanity for $11. That’s just over two dollars per band. How could I refuse?

The answer, of course, is I couldn’t. I was pleased to find later that I didn’t already own the split, which was released on Game Two Records, but even if I had, it would’ve been worth the asking price to revisit some early Sourvein — three of their five tracks here would show up the next year on their self-titled debut — and live Bongzilla cuts, along with Negative Reaction and Grief in immediate succession. That one-two punch would probably fill any sludge quota a given day might present — 15 decabongs — but with Subsanity in the center role, and Bongzilla and Sourvein following, you’re basically getting a 74-minute overdose. Easy listening it is not. The only one of these acts who wouldn’t go on to craft a significant legacy in the genre is Subsanity, whose third and final LP, Future is War, was also issued in ’99, but even they prove vicious in keeping with their company, all of whom are raw the way you think of oozing, scraped skin as being raw.

And Zeke? Well, Zeke were the super-fast punk band it was cool to like if you were into slow music. They always had a bit of strut to them, as “Daytona” from Flat Tracker will attest, and when they signed to Relapse to release 2004’s ‘Til the Living End, that just sealed their appeal. I remember seeing them at CMJ in NYC at some point around then and they had the fastest count-ins I’d ever heard, and then they actually played that fast. Flat Tracker is in and out in under 18 minutes and its 15 tracks are liable to leave you sucking wind as you try to keep up, but it’s also a lot of fun. Along with their 1994 debut, Super Sound Racing, Flat Tracker was reissued by Relapse, but the Scooch Pooch Records version has the original art, which is all the more killer for the fact that the lineup comes with each member of the band’s Mexican takeout order. Guitarist/vocalist Blind Marky Felchtone will have, “two chicken soft tacos, one bean burrito and a medium Coke.”

All discs considered, I still got out of Armageddon Shop on the cheap. There was more — and yes, I did flip through the vinyl section and drool at the assorted heavy ’70s and more modern wonders — but ultimately I resisted such devilish temptations and skipped out. I had my eye on a few other odds and ends on that wall though, so I have the feeling it won’t be too long before I’m back. Hope not, anyway.

Zeke, “T-500” from Flat Tracker (1996)

Armageddon Shop’s website

Armageddon Shop Boston on Thee Facebooks

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Where to Start: Sludge

Posted in Where to Start on November 12th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

I’ve heard the word sludge used to classify bands from Pro-Pain to Neurosis to Grand Funk Railroad, so let’s be clear right off the bat that when I talk about sludge, I mean ultra-aggressive, screaming doom, played slow, played angry. It’s a term as nebulous as any other, but going from that specific definition, and considering the bands I’m about to recommend who play it, we should have a pretty good basis to work from.

There are some acts who take sludge to vicious extremes — see Fistula or Sollubi — blending in elements of black metal or SunnO))) style drone minimalism, but I’m not talking about them either. Where to start with sludge is the root of the subgenre, the key formative groups who’ve made it possible for a new generation to pull the sound in the multiple directions they have.

Because I couldn’t narrow it down to five, here are seven killer sludge bands to start with:

Crowbar: Their later material actually has little in common with what’s currently thought of as sludge, but 1991’s Obedience thru Suffering and 1993’s Crowbar are essential to understanding what the sound has become. The latter (recently reissued) is a better starting point for its more memorable songs.

Eyehategod: As much an influence in lifestyle and persona as for their music, the New Orleans gods of sonic fuck-all have nonetheless produced some of sludge’s most classic material. Just not in the last decade. At all. Start with 1993’s Take as Needed for Pain.

Negative Reaction: Their early stuff was more geared to sci-fi, which made the long-running Long Island outfit unique among their viscous peers. 2000’s endofyourerror saw them start to veer away from that into more personal lyrical territory, but it’s a stunningly abrasive listen nonetheless.

Buzzov*en: Dude. To a Frown. Dude.

Read more »

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Mourning for Grief

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 2nd, 2009 by JJ Koczan

So as Blabbermouth reported yesterday, Boston evil doomers Grief are done. It’s enough to beg the question, “Hey, Grief were still together?” Here’s the statement from bassist Eric C. Harrison as quoted on that site:

Our reasons for disbanding are our reasons. We have chosen not to get into it but it may or may not include the following reasons.

* Jeff [Hayward; vocals, guitar] has finally become Rip Van Winkle and will be asleep for the next 50 years.
* Ray [McCaffrey; drums] has finally eaten so much that he can not fit out of the door to his house and is unable to leave home
* John [Heidenrich; guitar, vocals] has become so death metal that we’ d have to actually be ghosts to jam with him and none of us feel like it.
* Eric finally became an actual dog and has not learned how to play bass or do artwork with his paws.

We will not be playing the Maryland Deathfest in May of 2009.

We’re sorry for anyone that this disappoints, but whatever. Shit happens.

Well, that does it. Thanks for the sarcasm, see you guys in two years for the reunion tour.

Oh you tried to invert the picture on your MySpace, but GIMP can take care of that. Enjoy your purple logo, mwa ha ha!  ...Oh man, I really gotta stop putting so much thought into these picture captions.

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