Patheticism, Patheticism: Go Forth and Wreck up the Place

Posted in Reviews on January 18th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

The only one to surface of the six tracks included on the Tsuguri Records sort-of-reissue of Patheticism’s demo in any official way is the opener, “Go Get Jaguar,” which was included on the 2003 Destroysall: A Tribute to Godzilla compilation alongside heavy hitters like Rwake, Solace and Negative Reaction. Beyond that, the North Carolina four-piece never put out a record and reportedly sold this material at gigs, but never got it distributed or attached to a label for a genuine release. Had these tracks been recorded today instead of a decade ago, Patheticism would probably throw them up on Bandcamp and count whenever the upload finished as the release date, but in 2003, that was less of an option, so 10 years after the fact, Patheticism frontman Jon Cox has issued the abrasive and obscure sludge outfit’s only material a second look on his Tsuguri imprint. Cox, who handles the vicious screams heard throughout the EP/demo’s 20 minutes, is something of a figure in North Carolina’s sludge lineage – not just with the mining operation he runs in reissuing stuff through Tsuguri – but also for spending the mid-to-late ‘90s fronting Seven Foot Spleen (their Reptilicus post-script was issued through the label in 2010; review here), to which Patheticism bassist Scott Cline can also be traced (the two also played in Stone of Abel). Cline, now in Flat Tires who also shared a 2010 split with Cox’s more straightforwardly rocking unit The Asound, served a tenure in Mountain of Judgment with Patheticism drummer Dave Easter, and though the only member of Patheticism I haven’t been able to track more info on is guitarist Cory, chances are he was or is in one or more of these bands too, since that’s just kind of how it goes. Similar to what’s played out over the last couple years as Ohio’s sludge scene has settled into one of the country’s most seething, North Carolina had a similar period in the wake of Buzzov*en, whose nihilistic viscosity shows up in some of Patheticism’s angrier stretches, as on the second track, “Shit Ritual.” It’s also worth noting that the six songs included on the original demo that has become Patheticism’s self-titled EP were recorded in a basement in late 2002 and that the quality of sound reflects that. Personally, I enjoy sludge more with a harsh production value, but I also know that not everyone feels that way. Fair warning.

And that’s really how Patheticism’s lone recording should arrive: With a warning. Because of the lo-fi factor, they’re not as thick as they could be or probably were live in terms of prevalent low-end from Cline, so Patheticism winds up more biting than lumbering at times, a sharp feel permeating the songs even as the tempo varies from the faster thrust of “Go Get Jaguar” to the plodding opening section of “’77 Told the Truth,” which could just as easily have served as a model for Dopefight with its initial stonerly groove and more upbeat, punkish second-half, topped with Cox’s sore-throatery. Most of the time, they’re somewhere between, as Cline opens “Go Get Jaguar” and “Shit Ritual” both with a bassline that Cory soon joins on guitar and the nastiness gets underway with little ceremony and much furor. Their roots prove more toward the punk side than metal, their fuckall in the Eyehategod tradition but still caustic a decade after the fact. They don’t make the 20 minutes easy on the listener, but the grooves that Easter punctuates on his snare in “Shit Ritual” could qualify as a hook, provided the band had any interest whatsoever in accessibility. If “’77 Told the Truth” is anything to go by, they don’t, and the ensuing “Eat Shit Pie,” however familiar the lumber might prove to some who hear it, isn’t much friendlier, coated in buzzsaw fuzz and full-on tonal mud. At 4:07, “Eat Shit Pie” is one of the longer songs on Patheticism – only the opener surpasses it (immediate points) – and the feel is somewhat less raw than that of a song like “Shit Ritual,” but to anyone outside the immediate crust-loving sludge base who might hear it, noise is going to be noise. The fact that after they meander into a long-seeming instrumental break, Patheticism bring the verse of “Eat Shit Pie” back around for one last go – a genuine display of traditional songwriting – is outshined by the trough of vomit they’ve already dug on the three tracks prior. That said, if there was potential in Patheticism to climb out of their primordial sonic ooze, it’s “Eat Shit Pie” that shows it.

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audiObelisk EXCLUSIVE: Magma Rise/The Asound Split 7″ Available for Streaming

Posted in audiObelisk on July 28th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

Traditional doom heathens will recognize the names Gábor Holdampf and Kolos Hegyi, or at least the formidable Hungarian outfits from which they come — Wall of Sleep and Mood. Re-teamed in the four-piece Magma Rise, they follow last year’s Lazy Stream of Steel full-length with the track “Five” on a multi-continental split 7″ with North Carolinian rockers The Asound.

And while we’re talking familiarity, The Asound should ring bells with anyone who stops by this site regularly, since they’ve been reviewed twice now (here and here). It’s seems like a curious pairing at first — a Hungarian doom outfit and American heavy rockers — but both bands make off with some righteous riffery, and The Asound even slow their tempos a bit from their past offerings and match Magma Rise for doomly stomp. Seriously, “The Baron” pretty much marches.

The split is a joint release between Tsuguri and PsycheDOOMelic, and since I have reviewed The Asound twice in the span of 13 months, I thought hosting the tracks for streaming might be time well spent for anyone who hasn’t yet checked them out. If you’ve missed Magma Rise too up till now, you’ll definitely want to hit up “Five” on the player below, as it also rules. Dig it:

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

The Asound/Magma Rise split is out now in a limited edition of 500 7″ vinyl. Special thanks to Tsuguri Records (website here) and PsycheDOOMelic (website here) for letting me stream the tracks.

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Looks Like the Transcendental Maggot’s Kid Has a Chip on His Shoulder

Posted in Reviews on June 1st, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

Many moons ago, there was a compilation called Transcendental Maggot. It was released on Meconium Records and boasted, among a slew of grinding noise acts, contributions from Sourvein and Benümb. That was 2001. Fitting enough, then, that 10 years later, on Tsuguri Records – the new name of the label helmed by Jon Cox of Seven Foot Spleen – there should appear the 20-track, 67-minute slaughterfest Son of the Transcendental Maggot with songs from the likes of Russian stoner punkers The Grand Astoria, North Carolinian psychedelic mavens U.S. Christmas and Atlanta sludge dwellers Sons of Tonatiuh. There are a total of 13 bands for 20 songs, and along with the familiar names – the aforementioned, plus The Wayward, who once proliferated their tech-punk mayhem in the form of a 2006 self-titled via Black Box Recordings, the label founded by Mike Hill, now of Tombs – there are a host of lesser-known acts, among them Oakland chuggers Pigs, the remarkably under-produced Ahleuchatistas, Akris, Enoch, Yellowthief, Yuugen Syndrome and Shit and Shine.

It is, if nothing else, a diverse gathering, but what draws the bands on Son of the Transcendental Maggot together is a consistency of rough production – even the U.S. Christmas track is a demo – and basic element of amplifier worship. More exploratory acts like the tech-jazz Yellowthief (who submit six tracks for a total 6:12 run time, more than half of which is dedicated to the last one, dubbed “Gzilimpur Gbgda?a”) and Ahleuchatistas, whose guitarist Shane Perlowin also contributes the subdued opening cut, “Buried Histories,” are offset by some of the more straightforward material. The Grand Astoria submit an Ash Ra Tempel cover of “Light: Look at Your Sun,” and U.S. Christmas’ 2009 demo of “Fonta Flora,” which later showed up on the much-heralded Run Thick in the Night full-length, provides a moment of subtle psychedelic build. Theirs is the longest cut on Son of the Transcendental Maggot by nearly two full minutes. On the other hand, the later-arriving spastic grind of Yuugen Syndrome’s “JAAJAN” is unsettling nestled between Enoch’s “Robbie’s Song” and Sons of Tonatiuh’s two donations, “Consumed” and “Chain Up the Masses.” It’s just two minutes, but it’s not an easy two minutes by any stretch.

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The Asound Are up Here on Another Wave, Covered in Hair

Posted in Reviews on January 24th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

When last heard from, North Carolinian rock trio The Asound were splitting their time with the more punk-fueled Flat Tires on a Tsugiri Records 7”. The label, run by The Asound bassist Jon Cox, now presents his band on a three-song self-titled CD EP. Their riff-led material is still rough sounding as it was last time, but taken on its own context, i.e. without another band on the release, it’s no harsher than any number of underground bands, the guitars of Chad Wyrick managing to come through just fine.

The first two tracks of The Asound’s The Asound will be familiar to anyone who heard the Flat Tires split… because they’re the same. Both “Joan” and “Snow White” appeared on the prior release, the change they’re getting here being mostly as regards format. The louder I play it, the less I care about the production quality of “Joan” (funny how that works), the low-end groove taking hold for the 4:50 duration and drummer Michael Crump’s kit bearing a no-doubt-coincidental sonic likeness to that on the last Goblin Cock record, or at least sounding no worse. Vocals are handled by Wyrick, who shows a Josh Homme influence in his clean delivery (not a complaint) and isn’t shy either about adding the occasional scream to the mix. As “Joan” plays out, Cox’s progression reminds some of Sleep, but if there’s a direct comparison to be made to another band, it’s got to be likening “Snow White” – the shortest track on The Asound at just 2:17 – to “Monsters in the Parasol” from Queens of the Stone Age’s classic Rated R. At least in its opening section, The Asound’s track is an almost direct port, if sped up, of the Homme-penned LSD paean, though to be fair, the trio don’t persist in the likeness, taking the structure to someplace else entirely.

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Seven Foot Spleen, Reptilicus: Sludge in the Blood

Posted in Reviews on December 6th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

The 19-track collection Reptilicus on Tsuguri Records serves not only as an overdue closing note from grinding North Carolinian sludgers Seven Foot Spleen, but also a reintroduction as well. The crusty five-piece, which featured in their ranks guitarist Chad Davis, who would go on to form Hour of 13 and play in US Christmas (as well as others), broke up after the release of their 1999 Tee Pee Records debut, Enter Therapy, which means it’s been at least a decade since they were last heard from, and in that time, the bands with whom they shared the stage – acts like Buzzov*en and Grief, for whom show fliers appear in the Reptilicus liner notes also featuring the Seven Foot Spleen logo – have been elevated to godlike influential status. Seven Foot Spleen don’t go back that far. They started in 1994, long enough to have heard Eyehategod and Grief 7” releases, but what separates Seven Foot Spleen is that their songs are (mostly) shorter, grippingly aggressive, and as much owed to crusty hardcore as to sludge, standing closer to that side of the line than that of doom or the other riffly metals.

Frontman Jon Cox has a throaty, consistent shout throughout these songs, recorded in various stages of the band between 1995 and 1998, and though Seven Foot Spleen seems to operate in different modes, either fast or slow – anger is a constant – Davis and fellow guitarist Chad Wyrick mostly lead the way. The production throughout most of Reptilicus is rough, the cymbals on “Power” (recorded in 1997) sound like a drum machine, though they’re credited to drummer Josh Martin, and there are times where bassists Scott Cline and Keith Bollck (who were in the band at separate times) are all but inaudible. But the raw sound is part of the charm of a release like this. If you heard Seven Foot Spleen before Reptilicus, then it’s a collection you’ll enjoy for the memories it brings up and for the wealth of previously unreleased material. If you’re a stranger to the band and a sludge-head, you’ll dig it for the now-vintage sound.

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Flat Tires vs. The Asound: Easy Money for the Betting Man

Posted in Reviews on June 25th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

Having never encountered either Flat Tires or The Asound (which I assume is like the sound, but opposite), I reveled in the chance to check out this Flat Tires vs. The Asound split 7” single on Tsuguri Records, and all the more so once I saw the Jeff Clayton (The Antiseen) cover art, which has Sasquatch fighting a giant eagle on it. If there’s a more perfect metaphor for the current state of affairs in our nation, folks, I don’t know what it is.

Both bands call North Carolina home, Flat Tires in Hickory and The Asound in Connelly’s Springs, so they have that in common. The Asound have a more straightforward riff rock approach and are the younger of the two bands, having formed in 2009, whereas Flat Tires, for all four and a half minutes (two songs) of material they present here, affect a well-established aesthetic combining outlaw country and hardcore punkabilly that’s quick, to the point, and on Flat Tires vs. The Asound, really, really misogynist. Take that, ladies.

Flat Tires opens with “G D Woman,” on which vocalist Clint Harrison, sounding like a combination Hank III, Unknown Hinson and drunken uncle, threatens in the direction of some female, “Get out of my face or I’ll have to punch you in your face,” which I found neither charming nor humorous. The band behind Harrison (Bryon Smallwood on guitar, Jeremy Godfrey on drums and Scott Cline on bass) rocks furious and fast in a heavy honky tonk ZZ Top kind of way on “Crybaby,” which is topped with more lyrical ladybashing, the chorus being, “Cry baby, cry baby, whine, whine, whine.” Uh huh. Okay.

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