Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A-Z PROJECT: #276-294

294 days ago I started listening to all of my CDs in alphabetic order to see if I could do it. I found myself bored with what I was listening to and spending more and more time deciding on what to listen to. I realized I had a lot of CDs I never listened to, stuff I never had the urge to put on, and decided to just listen to all of them in order instead. My goal was to listen to everything in a year, or at least to see how long it would take me to accomplish this. I don’t consider myself to be a writer, a music critic or an authority on music. I'm well aware of the fact that I contradict myself often. This is simply a way to alleviate boredom at a job in which very little is expected out of me. I’m also not posting these playlists to brag about my music collection and I’m not burning copies of this stuff for people, so don’t ask.

(*) asterisks note things that are burned copies and not an original release. CDRs without asterisks behind them were originally issued as CDRs.

Day #276
THINKSHIT - "Discography" CDR (Thinkshit were a short-lived crusty grindcore band that existed somewhere between Demolish and Dahmer. Most of the members played in Deche-Charge, some still do today. After Thinkshit broke up members formed Mesrine and Dahmer. They released a split 7" with Intestinal Disease, a demo and another tape called "Stinkshit". I had all three and loved them and offered to re-release all of it through Mortville. I've been in contact with both Dan-Charge and Seb since the mid-90s and they've always been really easy to work with and nice people in general. It's always a pleasure working with them and I've never been burned. Musically this isn't too far off from Dahmer or Mesrine, just without the pitch-shifted vocals. I planned on making 200 copies of this, but the CD plant was running a special where you bought 200 discs and got another 100 free. I still have loads of these for sale today, not sure why. I figured people would be all over this shit since they were gobbling up Dahmer releases. Apparently people are fucking stupid, my customers included.)

THIRTEENTH FLOOR ELEVATORS - "Bull of the Woods" CD (Their fourth and final album from 1969. Roky Erickson only played on a few songs on this album, but it's still an enjoyable piece of psychedelic rock. The vocals that aren't Erickson's are a lot smoother and more hippie sounding, less rock. The electric jug is mostly missing on this one. Collectable Records reissued all of these in the 90s with shitty packaging and, I've been told, sub-par sound, but they sound fine to my ears and they were cheap, so fuck it.)

THIRTEENTH FLOOR ELEVATORS - "Easter Everywhere" CD (Their second album, and my favorite. Roky's vocals are great on this one, really strong. It's great hearing him again them after being teased with them for a couple of songs on the above album. That electric jug is all over the place on this album, too.)

THIRTEENTH FLOOR ELEVATORS - "The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators" CD (Their debut from 1966 and a landmark of the Texas psychedelic/garage rock scene. It's such a bizarre sounding album, I can't imagine hearing it when it was released. Everything sounds like it was recorded in a giant metal tank. You'd have to look long and hard to find another album with this much reverb on it, and recorded with this much reverb, mind you, not added later. The playing is great and Roky's vocals are great, as always. A lot of these songs are better than the second album, but "Easter Everywhere" is more consistent and sounds better. This is a stunning release, though. Totally unique sounding.)

HANK THOMPSON - "The Vintage Collection" / HANK SNOW - "The Essential..." CDR* (I borrowed both of these from my father-in-law and burned them. I like some of the older country stuff, but not enough to spend a lot of money on it. I'll pick stuff up if I find it cheap or burn it if I can get my hands on it. "Swing Wide Your Gate of Love" is a great title, probably one of the dirtiest titles found on a country album of that time.)

Day #279
THROBBING GRISTLE - "20 Jazz Funk Greats" CD (I wonder how many people were tricked by this title. There aren't 20 songs on this CD and definitely no jazz/funk to be found. I'm not terribly familiar with Throbbing Gristle. I bought some of their stuff after one of my friends urged me to check them out. I enjoy the three albums I bought, but never looked into them after this release. They were one of the pioneers of the early industrial scene, but ideologically they had more in common with the punk rock scene. This album is a mixture of sounds, some pleasant, some abrasive and all hard to describe. This is anything goes music made by people with no musical backgrounds or musical aspirations. This would probably be an endurance test for most people, but there's enough change in style on this to hold my interest and keep me entertained.)

THROBBING GRISTLE - "The Second Annual Report" CD ("The First Annual Report" was recorded before this, but remained unreleased until the mid-90s. The band chose to release this as their debut, instead. I don't remember what "The First Annual Report" sounds like off-hand (I have the LP, but haven't listened to it in ages), but this one is really primitive sounding compared to the above CD. At least half of it was recorded live and there's less variance of sounds/style this time around. It's still really creepy sounding, though, like something mental patients would come up with.)

THRONES - "Alraune" CD (Thrones is the solo project of Joe Preston of Melvins, Earth, Sunn O))), High on Fire, etc fame. My brother used to talk about Thrones all the time and I didn't bother checking it out until I saw him live years ago and was won over. Years ago before everyone started sucking the dick of Southern Lord you could find Thrones CDs any day of the week for 5 bucks or less. Nobody gave a fuck about this stuff until EVERYONE gave a fuck about it. I've made it a point to go see Thrones every chance I get when he plays in Iowa. The last time I saw him one of his pieces of equipment (the one with all the programed samples) fucked up 2 songs in and everyone sat there quietly as he scrambled to fix it uttering "Fuck.... Fuck.... Fuck...." under his breath. It was really awkward, felt really bad for the guy. He apologized, then packed his shit and left the stage. Nobody in the audience was mad, but he had to cancel the rest of his tour because of it. It wasn't like he could just go to Guitar Center and pick up another unit with his shit programmed in already. This CD is super slow, drawn out epic doom stuff with the occasional goofy part thrown in. The longer songs are absolutely crushing. The whole thing is pretty similar to the solo album he recorded while he was in the Melvins. It's no coincidence that my favorite Melvins albums are the ones he played on. Sludge runs through Joe's veins.)

THRONES - "Day Late, Dollar Short" CD (This is the only Thrones album I paid full price for. If it was on Kill Rock Stars and not Southern Lord, I probably would have found it for $5 or less, too. It's a collection of everything that wasn't on the other two CDs: 7"s, splits, comp tracks, etc. Most of this stuff was new to me when I got this CD.)

THRONES - "Sperm Whale + White Rabbit EPs" CD (This was the first CD I heard, I've listened to it the most often, so it's my favorite because of that. "Ephraim" still gives me chill bumps when I hear it, but the 30 minutes of frogs croaking at the end of this CD can fuck off.)

TOAD - s/t CD (Toad were a band from Germany that played a heavy style of Anglo-influenced hard rock. One of the things that instantly jumped out at me when listening to this again today was how active the bass player is. No lazy root notes for this guy, he's all over the place on every track on this album. The singer is very English sounding (maybe he is?) and has an appropriate voice for this kind of hard rock. At times he even sounds a little like Ian Gillian. Some of the riffs are almost at Black Sabbath levels of doominess, but most of the time it just reminds me of Dust. This is solid stuff, a real overlooked gem from the 70s.)

TORCHE - s/t CD (I really didn't want to listen to this CD, so I broke it instead.)

TORMENTOR / DESTRUCTION - "End of the World" Demo '84 / "Bestial Invasion of Hell" Demo '84 CD (I bought this in the 90s from one of the black metal distros my friends were ordering from. I can't remember which now, but I've never given a fuck about black metal so it doesn't register with me now. I've been a huge fan of both Kreator and Destruction since my teenage years, so I was excited to hear their demos. Whoever put this CD together recorded really cheesy keyboard and pitch-shifted vocal introductions for each band, consistently as stupid as the rest of the black metal scene. What the fuck do Kreator and Destruction have to do with black metal anyway? Both demos sound pretty lousy, but the Tormentor demo was added on Kreator's "Endless Pain" CD reissue I have and it sounds only slightly better. Compared to their first album, these songs are slower, sloppier and there are high-pitched wails that they stopped doing after this demo, I guess. It's interesting, but unlike some bands who's demos shit all over their album recordings, this stuff just leaves you wanting the album version. The same can be said about the Destruction demo. It has that same fuzzy 5th generation cassette dub sound, but the playing is less sloppy than on the Tormentor demo.)

TOTAL FUCKING DESTRUCTION - "Compact Disc Version 1.0" CD (A collection of demos from Rich Hoak's post-Brutal Truth band. I probably like this more than any of Brutal Truth's albums, but I haven't been moved enough to check out any more of their releases. I got some of these in trade years ago and nobody was buying them from me so I kept one for myself. Sounds like it would be a fun band to be in, these songs sound like they had fun playing them. Hyper-fast grind stuff with silly over-the-top vocals. That Feederz cover is fucking insane. Good shit.)

Day #280
TOTALITAR - "Wallbreaker 1986-1989" CD (That crust explosion in the 90s was embarrassing. So many shitty bands taking the easy way out of song writing, most completely forgettable and interchangeable. Totalitar stands out from that crowd by not only being sonically interesting, but by writing memorable songs. The recordings on this collection CD sound really angry. The guitars and vocals both have a similar snarl to them, a fury that sounds legitimately pissed off. They don't sound as if their trying to emulate any one band, instead they wear their Swedish crust heritage on their sleeves and run with it writing interesting songs. The older stuff on this CD is better, naturally, and all of the songs seem to be sourced from vinyl rips, but the crackles and pops only add to the intensity.)

TRAUMATISM - "Truculent" CD (One of my Canadian pen-pals played in this band briefly and released their 7" on his label Spasmoparapsychotic. I picked this CD up from his distro list, but it was recorded and released before he had joined the band. I don't think this was very well circulated. Nick said the band was totally unorganized and just sort of sat around waiting for things to happen for them. There were a lot of great bands that suffered the same fate. Traumatism were a great band. I forgot how great they were, actually, because nobody ever talks about them. This is solid grindcore, though, with great riffs, tight drumming, powerful vocals and punchy production. It's technical enough and has enough death metal overtones that it should have appealed to a wider audience of people. I remember their 7" being better, but the 12 songs in 20 minutes on this CD are very satisfying. I wonder what these guys are doing now.)

TRISTATE KILLING SPREE - "Some Words on the Subject of Being Alive" CD (I got this in a trade from Six Weeks years ago and listened to it once. I picked it out because the description said it sounded like M.O.D., but it doesn't sound anything like M.O.D.. I suppose the vocals might sound a little like Billy Milano circa "Gross Misconduct", but that's about it. This CD kinda sucks. They can't make up their mind if they want to be tough or emotive. Some people might be into this sort of thing, but it has no place in my collection.)

TRIUMPH THE INSULT COMIC DOG - "Come Poop With Me" CD (Robert Smigel is awesome. Using a puppet to talk shit to everyone is brilliant. If the person gets mad they look ridiculous for being pissed at a rubber puppet and playing into it. Those clips from the Conan O'Brien Show were consistently funny. Most of that comedy translates okay on this album. It's part stand-up, mostly songs with a few crank calls thrown in. This CD came with a bonus DVD with the stand-up bits on it plus other stuff. "You Have to Work Blue", a duet with Horatio Sanz, is worth checking this out for alone.)

TROUBLE - "Demos & Rarities 1980-1995" CD (This was really hard to track down. There were only 500 of them made, but I managed to find one eventually. The first demo on here is awesome. Eric's vocals sound way different than they do on the albums. None of those fabulous high vocals on this, instead his vocals are pretty tame. The music is pretty stripped down, somewhere between doom and NWOBHM. The tape these songs were taken from has a lot of dropouts, though. Bummer, none of these songs made it to their albums. The second demo from 1982 sounds like their first album, but rougher. Their trademark sound is fully developed at this point, everything in place. The 1994 demo on here really isn't my thing. There are a lot of people who only like this later-era Trouble, but I can't get into it. Too much groove, not enough metal. This demo sounds great, though. Bring on the good stuff...)

TROUBLE - "Psalm 9" CD (I first heard Trouble on the "Rising Metal" compilation tape released by K-Tel Records in middle school. "Assassin" was a good enough song, but overshadowed by all the other great, faster bands on that tape. It wasn't until I heard "The Last Judgement" on "Metal Massacre IV" years later that I took notice of how great they were. I bought their first four albums and devoured them. After seeing "Trouble - s/t" listed on the inner-sleeve of one of my old Metal Blade LPs I went crazy trying to track that fucking thing down. Two or three years later Katz from Hated Principles (now of Gorgonized Dorks) sold me his copy. It ended up being "Psalm 9", which I had already owned on CD. There was no "Psalm 9" on the cover, spine or center labels. Apparently they added the title later, maybe to avoid confusion with the other s/t CD on American Records. "Psalm 9" is just about as strong of a debut album as any band could hope for. The songs are great, playing and vocals are great and the recording is great. Most of the songs from their second demo are on here and they sound even better than they did before. It's one of those landmark albums of the 80s that borrowed from bands before them and sculpted it into something of their own with amazing results. Trouble sounds like Trouble, and not many bands sound like them, if any. If only I had paid attention to them sooner.)

TROUBLE - "Run to the Light" CD (After a cool, but somewhat out of place synth introduction, things pick back up where they left off on the previous album. There's a little more stoner rock influence on this one, but it's kept at the appropriate level for a band that obviously grew up listening to Black Sabbath. There's not much else to add. These first three Metal Blade albums are absolutely essential for fans of heavy metal.)

TROUBLE - "The Skull" CD (Trouble's second album expands on their first, but only slightly. They've progressed as song writers, but haven't changed their style much. This is my favorite album of theirs. "The Wish" is an almost 12 minute tale of being saved from suicide by Christ's love. It's the most epic thing they've recorded and it pushes this album ahead of the others for me. The rest of it is great, too.)

TU CARNE / EL MUERMO - split CD (My friend Kevin gave this to me on one of my trips to Colorado, but I don't remember why and I don't think I've listened to it before today. He gave it to me, said it was really good, but I bought so many other CDs that trip, stuff I wanted to hear, I didn't get around to listening to this one. I didn't even really look at it until I ripped it to my iPod, which is weird because I liked a lot of Extremist Records output and I have a couple of El Muermo CDs I listen to quite frequently. Tu Carne are a grind band from Spain, I think, with some of the silliest pitch-shifted vocals ever. I can't tell if they're using a drum machine or not, but it sounds like they might be. This is my first time hearing them and it doesn't move me to want to check out more of their releases. El Muermo are from Ecuador and play really noisy, filthy grindcore. Some of the vocal overdubs made me jump because I thought someone was behind me. They're great and terrible in the same way as the Columbian band Confusion. This recording is crazy. I wish I had listened to this sooner. Fuck...)

TUBEWAY ARMY - s/t + "Replicas" CDR* (Food Fortunata dubbed me some old Tubeway Army stuff in the late 90s because he thought I would like it. We had been talking a lot about Devo during that time and he thought I would like them, too. I bought "The Plan" CD on his recommendation and loved it. While I was in Melbourne visiting friends I found the s/t album at a record shop. Paul from Warsore gave me heaps of shit for buying it and it him that came up with the C3L song title "Tubesteak Army" as an insult to my listening choice (thanks, Paul). I bought the rest of their albums on vinyl for dirt cheap after returning to the states. My brother Jeff bought a bunch of them on CD later on and I burned copies from his CDs. Tubeway Army was Gary Numan's "punk" band from the late 70s. This first album is their best. There are a lot of synth overdubs on it, but it's still primarily a guitar based punk rock album. The added synth is a nice touch and really gives this a unique sound. At this point it hadn't taken completely over like it would on Numan's solo records. The further you work through the Tubeway Army/Gary Numan catalog the more prominent the synths become. "Replicas" is the second album and there's still lots of guitar in the mix. It contains his first hit song, "Down in the Park" which he performed brilliantly on "Urgh! A Music War". I haven't listened to these in several years. Gary's vocals are more annoying than I remembered them being, but this stuff smokes overall.)

Day #281
TUBEWAY ARMY - Extras From CD Reissues CDR* (Not sure why I didn't just burn the CDs as they were reissued, but I dumped all of the bonus material on this CDR instead. "Living Ornaments" was a 19 track live bootleg from 1978 and came as bonus tracks on the s/t album. It's sounds like a single mic recording done from the audience. A lot of these songs aren't on any other releases. They're okay as bonus tracks, but I'd be pissed if I bought this CD specifically for the bonus tracks and ended up with this stuff. The rest of these songs come from the "Pleasure Principle" CD and sound like studio outtakes. I didn't burn that album, so that must be why I put this bonus stuff on a separate disc. These songs are okay, I guess. The last few songs would sound right at home on a John Carpenter soundtrack.)

TUBEWAY ARMY - "The Plan" CD (This stuff was recorded before the first Tubeway Army album and was supposed to be their first album, but while recording it Gary Numan began fucking around with synths in the studio and decided this stuff was already outdated before it was even released. After the self titled album, this is my favorite release. It's pretty much a straight-up punk album with mid-to-fast tempos, a gnarly guitar sound and Gary's distinct vocals. The guitars sound massive on this CD, a real change from all their other releases, and the songs are filled with hooks. Even without all the spacey synth overdubs these songs are pretty great.)

TUMOR - "Horrible Splatter Holocaust" CDR (Another gem from the Tomas Canceras label. Tumor were one of the greatest grindnoise/grindcore bands ever, from Germany or elsewhere. This CDR collects all of their vinyl output, from their noisecore beginnings on the split 7" with Noiseslaughter to the great, "Splattered Human Goulash" 10". Between these two, though, is the absolute apex of grindcore, the "Cannibal Christmas" 7". It's probably my favorite 7" of all time and it embodies everything I love about the genre: filthy recording, blastbeats, ham-sandwich-in-the-mouth vocals, short songs and the sickest guitar sound ever laid to wax. Tumor shared members with Yacøpsæ and they share that same intensity but filtered through filthy grindcore instead of fastcore. They were one of the first bands I asked to do a release on Mortville, but had already broken up at that point. These guys really need to be heard to understand how great they were. This CD, however, sounds like shit and has the same minimal packaging all of Tomas Canceras' releases have. If you were cool like me you'd have all of this stuff on vinyl already.)

TUMOUR - "Live Promo" CDR (I have no idea where I got this from and I've not listened to it before today. I have a split 10" of theirs I didn't like, so I didn't bother with this when I got it in the mail. This recording is so lousy it's really kind of hard to tell what's even going on, I'm talking side B of "As Statues Fell" noisy. For some reason I remembered these guys have a drum machine in the band, but that doesn't seem to be the case now. This kind of sounds like Agathocles or Carcass Grinder with pitch-shifted vocals. It's not bad, but the lack of recording quality is the most interesting thing about this.)

TUXEDOMOON - "Desire / No Tears" CD (Tuxedomoon were a great art-punk band, whatever the fuck that means, from San Francisco that formed in the late 70s. Their association with Ralph Records is why I checked them out and their early stuff is amazing. "Desire" is their second full-length album and it just doesn't do anything for me. I've given it several tries, but if it weren't for "No Tears" being on this CD I would have sold it ages ago. By this point they've lost their edge and quirkiness that made them interesting. The breaking point for me was "Victims of the Dance" and that's what I think of when I see this CD on my shelves and I never choose to listen to it because of that. There are some pretty good songs on this CD, but not enough to make me want to hear anything released after this. "No Tears", on the other hand, is excellent. It's their first 12" released in 1978. Everything I love about those old Devo recordings is present here, but played by people with classical training (it seems) instead of coming from the punk scene. Powerful songs with sprawling, herky-jerky arrangements and noisy analog synths. The singer sounds like a less annoying David Byrne. In fact, this kinda sounds like some weird Talking Heads / Residents hybrid.)

TUXEDOMOON - "Half-Mute / Scream With a View" CD (I have both of these on vinyl, but my copy of "Half-Mute" is sort of scratchy, so I re-bought it on CD recently. "Half-Mute" is their first full-length, the one released on Ralph. It's the first one I heard, and it's fairly hard to describe. Like a lot of other bands from this post-punk, art rock, whatever scene, they completely abandoned blues based rock music and did something completely different. There's no way to describe them without making comparisons to other bands that also abandoned the formula. It's sort of new wave, at times close to synth pop, there's elements of punk rock, funk and even some drone, but these descriptors could be applied to all music lumped under the post-punk category. It's just good, interesting music, fuck it. "Scream With a View" is stark in comparison, really minimal and kind of depressing. "(Special Treatment for the) Family Man" is especially doomy and is the stand out track on this 12".)

TUXEDOMOON - "Pinheads on the Move" CD (This CD collects all of their audio scraps throughout the years: their first 7", comp tracks, B-sides, etc. There's more good stuff than bad on here. I've listened to this loads of times.)

Day #282
TWISTED SISTER - "Club Daze Vol. 1: The Studio Sessions" CD (I've been an SMF since elementary school. In fact, Twisted Sister were the band that made me want to buy a guitar and start a band. As an adult I took a bullshit class to get certified for my job that ate up 6 of my Saturdays. One of the assignments was to write an essay about one of my heroes and I wrote it on Dee Snider and explained how he changed my life and sparked my life-long interest in music. I covered the PMRC hearings, too, but mostly it was just about how enamored I was with Twisted Sister, how they influenced me to think for myself and to start writing my own music. This CD is the holy grail for TS fans. I'm a firm believer in "older is better" when it comes to music, and "Under the Blade" has always been my favorite Twisted Sister album. Even after I started listening to thrash metal I spent a good chunk of my youth listening to that album and wondering if any recordings existed before their debut. Not only does this CD have demos of songs that would appear on their albums, most of these songs are exclusive to this release. Even better, they're all great, not a clunker in the bunch. These songs from the mid to late 70s are straight-up rock anthems, powerful and catchy. There's more of a boogie feel to these early songs, not unlike early AC/DC and Rose Tattoo, but Dee's song writing style is unmistakable. Even if they sound different than their albums, they still sound like Twisted Sister. The booklet is crammed with extensive liner notes and photos from the early days and the CD is nearly an hour long. Even if you don't consider yourself to be a fan of theirs, you should check this out.)

TWISTED SISTER - "Never Say Never... Club Daze Volume 2" CD (I didn't even know this existed until a couple of weeks ago. It starts out with two "Stay Hungry" era studio songs. The drum tracks were recorded during the "Stay Hungry" sessions, but weren't finished. Guitars and vocals were added in 2001 for this release, and fucking hell, it's 1984 all over again. These don't sound updated at all, like they were lifted from the master tapes as is. Both songs are good and would have made solid B-sides to any of the singles from that album. There are three different live recordings on here arranged from best sounding to worst. The first set sounds excellent and the performance is strong with nice song selection. There's no discernible difference in sound quality on the second set of songs on here, but there's some songs I haven't heard elsewhere. In fact, the last 6 songs on here aren't on any other Twisted Sister release, two of which are cover songs. A couple of these songs have a pretty strong NWOBHM vibe to them. The last recording on this CD sounds pretty rough, but in a nice blown out way. The bad recording just makes everything sound more intense. "Plastic Money" rules hard, makes me want to start the CD over and listen to it again.)

TWISTED SISTER - "Stay Hungry" CD (This is where it started for me and just about every other kid in America. As an 8 year old kid growing up in Iowa Twisted Sister were the coolest fucking thing ever. They could just as well have come from Mars, they were so far outside what I had been exposed to at that point. I'm reasonably sure seeing them on Pee-Wee's Big Adventure was my first exposure to them, and what kid wouldn't become a fan after seeing them and the Twisted Sister car while "Burn in Hell" played over top of it? I had two Twisted Sister shirts as a pre-teen, one of which had "I Wanna Rock" in huge TS font on the back. I wore that shirt to my first day of middle-school to which brought taunts of "Twisted Sister, eh? What's the back of your shirt say? I Wanna Cock?" By 1989 Twisted Sister were already out of style with most people, but I was still a staunch supporter. Well into my 20s I was still defending them to my friends, people who gave me shit for listening to Twisted Sister while their own CD collections were packed with Kiss albums. Twisted Sister trumps Kiss any day of the fucking week, in my opinion. As an adult, this album suffers slightly from being overplayed in my youth, but almost every song on here is a rock and roll classic. Aside from the two radio songs everyone associates with TS, this album sounds as fresh today as it did in the 80s. Good rock music doesn't become dated, it always stays good. "Burn in Hell" and "Horror-Teria" and "The Beast" are among the best songs Twisted Sister have ever done. I'll keep defending this album as long as I have to, no matter how uncool it is. I've never once given a fuck about "cool".)

TWISTED SISTER - "A Twisted Christmas" CD (I'm a couple of months late for this one, but I'm still digging it. I found this for, like, $2.00 at Target on clearance. I probably wouldn't have paid full price for it, but it ended up being pretty good. It sounds exactly like you'd think it would. Released in 2006, the band sounds as strong as ever and Dee's voice has held up great since the 80s. They tackle Christmas standards, but some of their renditions sound as if they could be Twisted Sister songs anyway if you ignored the lyrics. They've even incorporated a few of their intros and riffs into some songs. It's a fun CD, but not very appropriate for family get togethers, I'm afraid.)

TWISTED SISTER - "Under the Blade" CD (Their first album and my favorite. This was recently reissued with the original Secret Records mix and with a bonus DVD of their mind-blowing 1982 Reading Festival performance and interviews about the album recording process. The DVD was worth re-buying this alone, but the CD has the rare "Ruff Cuts" 12" added as bonus tracks as well, all sold for the price of a single disc. I can recommend this stuff enough, it's a classic album. Twisted Sister are at their most ferocious on this one and they've never sounded more metal. One great song after another, in your face and mean. "Destroyer" is the heaviest song they've ever recorded and it sounds brilliant with the original, dirtier UK mix. Better pick this one up before it goes out of circulation again.)

TWISTED SISTER - "You Can't Stop Rock 'N' Roll" CD (Twisted Sister suffered the same sophomore slump a lot of bands did. This isn't as good as either their first or third album, but it's still pretty great. Same anthemic rock, but this one sounds dated for some reason. At least 4 songs on this are terrific, though.)

U2 - "Boy" CD (I like exactly one U2 song, "New Year's Day", and on the strength of that song I bought that album and the album before and after it. Bummer... There's some interesting guitar parts/sounds, but as a whole Bono is a douche and this shit sucks.)

U2 - "The Joshua Tree" CD (Pretentious douchey garbage.)

Day #283
U2 -"War" CD (Ok, I still kind of like this one. Not a lot, mind you, but enough to not want to break it.)

U.B.R. - "Harmonija" CD (Old school Yugoslavian HC band from the 80s gets the reissue treatment from the dude behind Patareni. Demos, 7"s, rehearsal and live tracks, all with fairly decent sound. Some of this stuff I have on cassette and on vinyl as a split with Patareni, and a lot of these songs I new before even hearing U.B.R. from both Buka and Patareni covering their songs. This is okay, not something I listen to often. It's mid-paced, semi-crusty punk, not exactly my thing.)

UFO - "UFO-1" CD (Up until a few years ago I had always assumed UFO were a glammy cock-rock band. They might have turned into that, maybe? I've only heard their first three albums, so I really don't know. I saw their second album on Cosmic Hearse and he made comparisons to Hawkwind, so I checked it out and loved it. I bought it on CD along with this first album soon after. There's a different guitarist on these first two albums. He was booted out and replaced by their more famous guitarist, Michael Sheneker, who was stolen away from Scorpions after touring with them. Whoever this first dude is, he's really fucking good, too. This first album from 1970 is a mixture of hard rock and psychedelia. They would really expand on the psychedelic side of things on their next album, but this one is still very much a rock album. The singing is awesome and the songs have a nice loose bluesy feel to them.)

UFO - "UFO-2 Flying: One Hour Space-Rock" CD (Ever looser and more bluesy than the debut. Two of the five songs on here take up most of the running time, one nearly 19 minutes and the other over 26 minutes long. They made great use of space on this album and didn't cram all the songs full of parts. The sparseness of the music is shocking at times, but it's also what makes this great. This would have fit in perfectly with the stuff going on in Germany during that time.)

ULCERRHOEA - "Line and Row" CD (This is my least favorite Ulcerrhoea stuff. Magnus has a habit of ending projects and making the last release sound drastically different than the bulk of it's output. This CD is sort of fastcore / powerviolence sounding whereas the rest of the Ulcerrhoea stuff is filthy grindcore with vocals that were more gruff. Maybe he does that as a segue into new projects? Who knows? I bought tons of these for my distro when it was released, like 50 or so, assuming it would be awesome and had a hard time selling them. Luckily, the second half of this disc contains most (all?) of the old 7" material I knew and loved. That's really the only reason I kept one of these for myself. The rest of it isn't bad, just not my thing, though I will say it sounds better today than the last time I listened to it. I guess my opinion of it has softened over the years.)

ULCERRHOEA - "Rise For the Downfall" CD (This CD collects all of their demos and a couple of unreleased EPs. The sound and style is even noisier than the EPs on the above disc and there are pitch-shifted vocals on the earliest stuff. This CD is great, 88 tracks of brutal grindcore.)

ULTIMO RAUSEA / CHICKENSHIT - split CD (Noisy Japanese HC stuff that's pretty hard to describe. They don't speed up past mid-pace and the drums are way too loud in the mix. Chickenshit, on the other hand, are fantastic. Completely over the top noisy blurrcore from Australia. I wrote these guys about doing a 7" on Mortville in the 90s but they didn't write back. Too bad...)

Day #286
ULTRAVIOLENCE - "Life of Destructor" CD (Remember when Earache was on the cutting edge of dance music? No, neither do I. In the mid-90s, starting with Delta 9, I had an interest in gabber HC that lasted exactly 3 CDs. This was the last CD I bought in that style. I enjoyed the first three songs of it today, but grew tired of it after that. That's probably why I never looked into that genre any further.)

UNCLE POCAHONTAS - "The 4 Track Version of Bullshit" CDR (Poopy Necroponde is solely responsible for this one, I believe. This one is difficult to describe, actually. I can say that it's free of rock, no HC influence at all. There's some mid-eastern sounding stuff, some folk, some cheesy pop stuff, an acoustic Feederz cover, etc. All of it is silly, mostly with ridiculous lyrics and brought about a couple of genuine laugh outloud moments. It truly is bedroom music, bored-core.)

UNDERAGE - "Entro Domani 1981-1983" CD (In a discussion on the Reeelapse message board about Italian hardcore these guys' name came up. One of the members said Underage were his favorite Italian HC band and because I trust his taste in HC I picked this up in a trade with the label. I thoroughly enjoyed this CD, but they're far from bring my favorite Italian HC band (btw, it's either demo-era Raw Power or C.C.M. depending on my mood). This stuff is great, though. Nice and fast, angry and noisy stuff and the label did a great job with this. It looks and sounds great. Good shit!)

UNDINISM - "Born With an Erection" CD (On my trip to Australia years ago one of the members approached me about releasing this. Neil was one of the nicest people I met during that trip, total class act. I've loved Undinism since I first heard them on their split with Gonkulator. Their lyrical content scared me off from the project slightly, but the bigger problem for me was that they didn't have/couldn't locate the master tapes for these recordings and the CDR they had assembled for this discography sounded pretty crummy. They were a ferocious, brutal grindcore band, one of the best ever, but this release doesn't do justice to their impressive body of work. Even the CD inserts look terrible. It was no doubt a result of setting up the artwork with too low of an image resolution, but someone should have been there helping them out with this stuff. I love Prolapse's releases, but this isn't the only release that would have benefited from some scrutinization. Unfortunately nobody really cares about Undinism now and there's no need for this to be reissued properly, but I'd love to see a label like Blastasfuck do a decent looking/sounding version of this. Somebody owes it to the music, it's just too fucking good to let this stand as it's testament.)

UNHOLY GRAVE - "Crucified" CD (This CD is great, and it's the UG release I listen to the most often. I clearly remember the first time I heard this CD. I was in Denver visiting friends and Kevin from Dratsab had this with him. As soon as I returned home I began looking for it and bought it from Fudgeworthy, I believe. It was one of the noisiest, most over-the-top grindcore releases I had heard at that time and when Headfucker asked my band if we wanted to release a 7" (thanks, Carlo!) Unholy Grave were the first band I thought of to split it with. Between asking them and the time of it's release Unholy Grave released another 8 or 10 EPs and it looked as if we were just jumping on the trend of doing splits with them, but when I wrote them they had only released this CD, some demos and a couple of 7"s. Word got out about Unholy Grave quickly, I guess. I finally lost interest in Unholy Grave when I couldn't keep up with their releases (I tend to do this often: Sloth, NunSlaughter, etc). It's cool people like your band enough to want to release your records, but when you run out of decent recordings to send them you should probably say "no" instead of sending them rehearsal tapes to press to vinyl. Unholy Grave have never been known for their high fidelity recordings, but as a guy who's doled out cash to release records I know the disappointment of receiving a master tape that sounds like garbage and thinking the band didn't care enough to turn in decent material. A couple of years ago when I was inviting bands to take part in "Small Doses" Unholy Grave were one of the first bands I asked. I figured since I've worked with him in the past Takaho would say yes. When he wrote back his response was simply "Thanks for your offer, but no." He didn't offer an explanation, but apparently they're still in such high demand they couldn't spare a 30 second rehearsal track for my project.)

UNHOLY GRAVE - "Hatred?" CD (This was the second Unholy Grave CD, I ordered it directly from the band. I think the booklet said this was a collection of demo recordings, but I always thought of it as their second album. The sound is slightly weaker and the vocals are mixed way too fucking loud. Waaaaay too loud... I don't really have anything else to add about this, so I'll enjoy a nice game of Doodle Jumper instead of forcing myself to write something.)

UNHOLY GRAVE / MASS SEPARATION - "Stop Inhuman Madness / Distressed" CD (I think Mass Separation are from Malaysia. Their half of this split is pretty good. The drums are solid and the guitars sound paper thin, so it's an interesting sound for a grindcore recording. The whole thing sounds really angry. I'd listen to more of their stuff if the opportunity came up. Unholy Grave's recording is really good this time around and the vocals are mixed at an appropriate level, but there are three different recordings on their half that go from better to worse sound. It's still an enjoyable bunch of songs, though. This was a pretty good split, I haven't listened to it in ages.)

UNHOLY SWILL - "Legacy of Stupidity 1988-1993" CD (I traded some Sockeye CDs for a pile of these years ago and liked it enough to keep one for myself. It's a mixture of punk, noise rock and tardcore. It kind of sounds like Drunks With Guns and Blight combined. That's either a really exciting combination or it's horrifying, but this CD is fun. It's a mess, but it sounds like they had fun recording this stuff. There's no fence-sitting with stuff music like this. You either like it or hate it, but I suspect most would hate it. I dig it, though.)

UNISEX - "Hold Your Breath... and Then Some" CDR (Unisex was one of the earliest punk rock bands in Ottumwa, existing long enough to record only one demo. We wanted to be Poison Idea, but fell way short of doing so due to none of us really knowing how to play. Instead we created our own brand of silly, short song HC with a crazed singer who sounded like he was going to break a blood vessel in his head at any time. This 56 track discography collects everything we ever recorded. Unisex existed for about a month during the summer of 1993. Mike was going off to college at UNI and a month was all we had. Beef Stew disbanded and somehow Brian and Spence started playing with Mike and I. The idea was to write as many songs as we could in what little time we had, go to a studio to record them and then release a cassette. The magic number ended up being 20. 20 songs were written and rehearsed in front of my brother’s dumb drunken friends in our garage on no sleep. July 13th, 1993…. I vividly remember Chris, engineer at Studio 16 Productions, trying to hide his face so we wouldn’t see him laughing at our half-assed attempt at “music”. This was my first time in a studio. We set up, sound checked, recorded and mixed down in just under two hours. $70 was our total bill, $70 well spent. Mike’s paper thin guitar sound and Brian’s lack of cymbals (they were there, just didn’t get recorded?) stamped our demo with an odd sound, but it was what it was and there was no time or money to do it over again. 100 copies of our “demo” were sold, some packaged as part of the “Unisex Sack Lunch Boxed Set” in a brown paper bag with a packet of Kool-Aid, hot chocolate, two crayons, a sheet of Unisex stickers, moist towelette and a swell poster of our then mayor for the kiddies to hang on their wall. Once the 100th copy was sold, we deemed “Hold Your Breath” as having gone Tin Foil. A year later(somewhere between September 1 and 6, 1994) we got back together and re-recorded the songs in Mike’s basement and repackaged them with the studio recording as a second “pressing” of 50 copies. One last hurrah, on April 5th, 1995, we got back together and recorded 2 new songs for Mike’s “This Is a Tiny Town” compilation. This was the last time we played together as Unisex and the last time I played with Mike. Brian, Spence and I would continue with other projects later.)

UPSIDEDOWN CROSS - s/t, EVOLUTION CONTROL COMMITTEE - "The Whipped Cream Mixes" 7", LOU MINATI - "Blackmail Me" 7", LET'S PUT THE X IN SEX - s/t 7", YOU SUCK - s/t 7" CDR* (This is a bunch of vinyl stuff I ripped and burned to CDR. I remember thinking Upsidedown Cross was really fucking stupid when I heard them as a teenager, but after years of not hearing them I had the urge again, bought the LP and loved it. They're one of my favorite bands now. ECC, this record specifically, were responsible for my appreciation of Herb Alpert and for rekindling my love of Public Enemy. I don't understand how this mash-up stuff works or the technology to isolate vocal lines from music, but the results on this record are stunning. I've always thought PE should have released this as a B-side to one of their singles or as a bonus track to one of their albums. It's brilliant. Lou Minati was one of the first prank ca recordings I've ever heard, and it's a doosey! It's made even better by being put to music. Both sides of the record consist of one call, then a sing made using clips from the call. It's awesome. LPTXIS were the ultimate 80s tribute band before that became the cool thing to do (Hairball, anyone?). They were a band that casio-core punk covers of shitty 80s songs, but with great results. This stuff is a blast to listen to. They had other releases, but I was never able to track any of them down. This You Suck 7" is one of the greatest novelty punk records ever. My high school friend Chris ordered this from an ad in MRR and it took me years of asking before he finally agreed to sell it to me. The musician kind of funky and the lyrics are silly, but the second side has a "solo" section with non-instruments that has to be heard to be believed. It's fucking crazy...)

Day #287
UPSIDEDOWN CROSS - "Witchcraft" 10", KILSLUG - "Live WJUL 91.5 FM 6/22/87", ANGRY HATE - "Bad Mood" unreleased 7" CDR* (I remember seeing the "Witchcraft" 10" in the Taang catalog, but it was after I bought "Evilution" and hated it, so I didn't bother ordering it. It's not as good as their s/t album, but better than "Evilution". I wish I had picked it up now, but I'm not into it enough to pay eBay prices for it today, so I just downloaded it instead. This Kilslug set is great. The sound is really good, but the talking between songs is so disconnected and lifeless (no pun intended) that they sound as if they might truly be troubled people. Angry Hate was a really noisy band Larry Lifeless and Seth Putnam did for a short while. This 7" is probably their noisiest recording. Too bad it never saw a release.)

URIAH HEEP - "Look at Yourself" CD (I acquired this from my brother bye already owned this CD, but bought a boxed set with all of their albums on it and had this as a duplicate and I ended up with it. Uriah Heep somehow earned the nickname "the poor man's Deep Purple". While comparing them to Deep Purple is fairly accurate, I don't understand what money has to to with their sound or fanbase. They play the same style of progressive hard rock as Deep Purple with the same charging organ that dominates the recording. It's a good album.)

VAGINAL DISCHARGE / HEARSEBERRY TACO - split CD (I'm enjoying this VD stuff way more today than I did years ago. VD are a guitar/vocal duo with the occasional harmonica thrown in, not unlike Mojo Nixon who was obviously an influence. They cover the same sort of topics lyrically, but Stan's vocals are a lot smoother than Mojo's. Stan's vocals are really good, actually. This stuff is fun, and dare I say, charming. Don't ask me to explain how. It's rude, but harmless, folk punk. I used to write Stan years ago and he was always really pleasant to deal with. HT are another one of the Wheelchair Full of Old Men bands, and they're one of the least listenable of the bunch. It's acoustic guitar, xylophone and vocals that sound like they were recorded while half asleep. I have the deepest respect for the people behind this recording, and I've done stupid/fun recordings like this, too, but I'm not digging this at all today. I know for a fact that they record music because they love doing so, and with the volume of output they have over the years there's bound to be a few clunkers. They're thankful if people end up liking it, but I'm sure they don't really care if people like this or not. That's the beauty of satisfying yourself, musically.)

VAGINAL JESUS - "Affirmative Apartheid" CD (This one took me a while to track down. I didn't find out about it until it was already out of print, but I found it from some shady skinhead distro online and ordered it. Months passed and it didn't show up and they didn't answer any of my emails. Turns out the guy was involved in an auto accident and died before he could ship my order. I found it again much later through another shady skinhead place. VJ was Seth from Anal Cunt's racist grindcore band. The music is kind of thrashy mosh stuff and the vocals sound like the guy from Satan's Warriors, but I've never heard exactly who was in the band. Musically this is great. Lyrically it's pretty funny. No one will ever know if this was serious or parody. I really don't care either way.)

FRANKIE VALLI & THE FOUR SEASONS - "The Definitive Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons Collection" CD (The older I get, the more I appreciate this stuff. I thought the high vocals were funny as a kid, was eventually hooked in by the catchy songs and now I love it. I only have this one CD, but I listen to it often. Everything I've read about Frankie has been positive, too, no rockstar bullshit. He's a down to earth guy who came from the streets of New Jersey who's polite and appreciative of his fans. A real class act. That makes me like him even more. His voice is instantly recognizable and the arrangements are interesting. Frankie Valli rules.)

VAMPIRIC MOTIVES / NEUROPATHIA - split CD (Catasexual Urge Motivation changed their name to Vampiric Motives for this release and everyone in the underground was upset about it. The music sounds exactly the same, same brutal down-tuned cybergore, same stupid paragraph long song titles, etc. People are fucking crybabies. They've since changed their name back, but I haven't heard anything after this. Neuropathia's recording is kind of muffled, but the riffs are clear enough to enjoy. I love their guitar tone, but those gurgling toilet vocals and way-too-long intros have to go. I'm on the fence with these guys, but most of the time I'm not crazy about them. It's decent goregrind, but I don't listen to much of that style these days. Most of it just sounds silly, not intense.)

VAN HALEN - "Fair Warning" CD (Van Halen were the first band I liked enough to buy something of. "Diver Down" was the first ever cassette I bought. It ended up being a sub-par Van Halen release, but I bought it because I liked their first album so much that I wanted to hear more of their material. I don't remember how old I was, but probably around 7 or 8. I loved Van Halen and drew their VH logo on everything. I have my dad's roommate after my parent's divorce to thank for that. It was staying at his house with my dad that I first heard Van Halen and it was the dubbed cassette with their first album on one side and Glenn Frey on the other he gave my dad that I listened to hundreds of times that made me a fan (thanks, Dave). In elementary school at the end of each week our music teacher would let one student choose a song to listen to from her classroom collection or you could bring in one of your own to play provided it was appropriate. When it got to be my turn I brought in my dad's dubbed copy of the first Van Halen album cued up to "Eruption". I can still remember going from feeling like the coolest kid in the world to the biggest dumbfuck ever while it played. Something about the exhibition of my musical tastes caused me great embarrassment. I was giving up a piece of myself to a group of people I had grown up with only to have them look at me snickering. I might as well have brought in a piece of sandpaper and asked her to play it. From what I can remember, that was the only time I've ever been embarrassed by my tastes in music and I hate myself for feeling that way. I still love horrible music and I've been out of step with the majority of my peers since that day in elementary school music class, but I've given up on being cool. It's just not important to me anymore. I still have all of my old Van Halen cassettes, but haven't gotten around to buying most of them on CD. This is one of my favorite albums of theirs, so when I saw it used I picked it up. "Unchained" is probably my favorite ever Van Halen song.)

VAN HALEN - "Women and Children First" CD (Easily my favorite VH release, and their darkest/heaviest album. I'm tapped out after the above post. This album is great and should be in everyone's collection if they consider themselves to be a fan of rock music.)

VANGELIS - "Ignacio" CD* (I have this one on LP, so this is something I ripped and burned to CDR. When I was snatching up Tangerine Dream LPs for a couple bucks each I bought a bunch of Vangelis stuff, too. Some of the stuff is similar, but Vangelis is more of a classical composer as opposed to TD's hypnotic, pulsing throb. This is one of his late-70s albums, still pretty good. Easily worth the couple of bucks I spent on it.)

VANGELIS - "Heaven and Hell" CD (I really like some of Vangelis' albums, but this one sucks. Sorry, buddy.)

VANGELIS -"L'apocalypse Des Animaux" CD (This album, on the other hand, is amazing, totally mellow and cosmic sounding with creepy keyboard lines weaving in and out, then at times is the most beautiful ambient music recorded. This sounds like something that would gave came from the krautrock scene, like Popol Vuh. Amazing stuff...)

Day #288
VANGELIS - "Spiral" CD* (Another one I have on LP and ripped. It's pretty similar to "Ignacio". There's some rock influence towards the end, but a lot of this is new-agey. It's good stuff, but I'm not really in the right kind of mood for it this morning.)

VENOM - "At War With Satan" CD (Yeah, that's more like it! This was the first Venom album I heard and it's my favorite. Sure, side two kind of sucks, but everything you need is on that side-long title track. For a while it wasn't cool to like this album and it was considered a disappointment at the time of it's release, but it's heavy as shit, beyond epic and has the best production of the old Venom albums. The snarl of Cronos' bass is awesome. I still have the cassettes I bought back in middle school, but re-bought these for all the bonus tracks.)

VENOM - "Black Metal" CD (I just can't bring myself to write about Venom. Their first four albums are great, that's all you need to know. I'm taking a break from writing for the duration of these CDs.)

VENOM - "Possessed" CD

VENOM - "Welcome to Hell" CD (This shit sounds completely barbaric after the other three. The drums sound like plastic buckets. Awesome.)

VENTURES - "The E.P. Collection Volume 2" CD (What kind of asshole doesn't like the Ventures? I don't know anyone who doesn't like them to some extent, but you'd have to be an angry, miserable prick to listen to this stuff and say "No, this isn't for me." I remember reading somewhere that they were they biggest selling band in the world at one point because their music was instrumental and appealed to everyone. I find their CDs used from time to time and gave acquired a few of them over the years, but I've never paid full price for any of them. Most of them are on the great See For Miles label and have nice thick booklets. I probably won't go into each CD separately as they're so similar, but this stuff is great, all of it is.)

VENTURES - "On Stage Encore / Live Again" CD

Day #289
VENTURES - "Pops in Japan / Pops in Japan Vol. 2" CD

VENTURES - "Surfing" CD

VENTURES - "Ventures in Japan I&II" CD

VENTURES - "Ventures Play Telstar - The Lonely Bull / Ventures in Space" CD

VENTURES - "Vol. 3-E.P. Collection" CD (The disco versions of the themes from "Star Wars" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" are a fucking embarrassment.)

VINCEBUS ERUPTUM - s/t CD (I bought this blindly when I saw it used based on them naming their band after a Blue Cheer album, it being on the great Tumult label and because of the song title "Who Farted?". The cover art would lead one to think this was a cheap black metal demo. It ended up being okay, but nothing like I was expecting. It's somewhere between noise-rock, HC and heavy metal, like if Burmese hooked up with the Flying Luttenbachers and recorded an album. The drums occasionally speed up to blastbeat territory and the vocals are a raspy scream constantly, not unlike Blaine from the Accüsed. Good, but not great.)

VIOLENT FEMMES - s/t CD (This has been one of my favorite albums since middle school. I can't think of a time I've put this on and it hasn't hit the spot. In fact, the older I get the more I appreciate how great of musicians they are. This album is unique because it sounds like a folk band playing punk rock songs, and man, what great songs they are. They're catchy, well written, well played songs with clever lyrics and Gordon's whiney vocals are snotty, strong, emotional and distinct. This is a great album, even if it suffers slightly from overexposure and by the sometimes douchey people who identify themselves as fans.)

VIOLENT FEMMES - "Hallowed Ground" CD (Over the years I've decided I like this second album even more than their debut, but I've not heard anything I've liked after this one. There's several religious songs on here and as a teenager I always assumed they were being sarcastic and taking the piss out of gospel music, which is fine with me, but I read a few years ago that Gordon Gano is a devout Christian and the songs were 100% sincere. Finding out he was sincere made me like this album even more. Im sure it took guts, conviction, to sing about his faith to an audience who largely were indifferent to his message. Its easy to be sacrilegious in rock 'n' roll, but the opposite probably isn't true. Lyrics aside, this is a darker, deeper album compared to their first. Some of the songs are downright somber sounding, and while the instrumentation is busier than before, they retained enough of their folksy sound to still sound like them. "Black Girls" is the standout track on here, a raunchy number with guest sax from John Zorn and a rockin' jaw harp solo.)

VIOLENT HEADACHE - "Bombs of Crust / False Terminal" CD (How do you ruin one of my favorite bands ever? Just add female vocals, thats all it takes. This CD is both one of their worst and best releases. "Bombs of Crust" strips away all of the noise parts, all of the short blasting songs and trades them for a more typical, straight forward D-beat crust style. Even worse, they added screechy female vocals that seriously make me cringe whenever they come on. I can overlook the change in musical style okay. Violent Headache are a terrific band and even this crusty stuff is really good, but those female vocals are an atrocity. I never listen to these tracks because of them, ever. "Bombs of Crust" did really well for them, though, but it's also the only VH release people who bought liked of VH's catalog. "False Terminal", on the other hand, is phenomenal! Bumping the CD from 20 tracks to 73(!!!), this was the unreleased LP from 1996 (I think it was '96?) that got tacked on the CD version as bonus tracks. It's some of the best grindcore / noisecore ever recorded. The longer, crusty songs are fucking powerful and the shorter noise blasts do a great job of berating things up and keeping things interesting. I'd love to see this get a vinyl release eventually, but I doubt it will happen.)

Day #290
VIOLENT HEADACHE - "The Noisecore Days: 1988-1991" CDR1 (Violent Headache have been one of my favorite bands since I heard their split 7" with Cripple Bastards in 1995 or so, but I didn't even know they had any releases before the "Therapy of Noise" demo until one night I was chatting with the guy from Area Death Productions on Soulseek and he told me he wanted to release all of the early noisecore demos on CD. At that point I had already been in contact with Toñyo several years, so I emailed him and asked about them. He laughed them off, said they were terrible and sent me a tape so I could hear them and decide if I wanted to sink money into releasing them. A month or two later this 2CDR set was the result: 100 minutes and 300 "songs" of early Spanish noisecore available again for the first time in almost 20 years. The first demo, "Sad But True", is among my favorite noisecore recordings ever. It's fast, fun and full of energy. The recording is saturated boombox and the edits are quick. "A Hell in Your Head" from 1989 sounds as if it was recorded from the opposite end of a huge empty warehouse, though, and occupies most of this first disc. The songs/noise is great, but the recording leaves a lot to be desired.)

VIOLENT HEADACHE - "The Noisecore Days: 1988-1991" CDR2 (The second disc starts off with a peculiar sounding demo. The drums sound like they're electronic drum pads, not a drum machine, and the kick drum sounds as if it's going to punch holes through the speakers. Already the style is becoming more hardcore than noisecore. There isn't any bass, just those weird sounding drums, distant guitar and vocals. With a different recording these sounds would have sounded great. The next batch of songs sounds loads better, more "live" sounding, and the songs are a nice mixture of short HC songs and noisier blasts. The guitar amp sounds like it's way too small to keep up with the drums, but the earliest C3L recordings sounded like that, too, so it's a sound I'm used to, haha... The last three songs on this disc are the only songs on either disc with that recognizable VH sound. Everything's in place here, just rougher than usual. The verdict on this set? It serves it's purpose as preserving the early days of a band that would graduate to a bigger, monstrous grind/noise sound. The first demo is worth the purchase price alone and everything else is interesting because of it's history, even with less than stellar sound. I wouldn't have released this if I didn't think it was worth hearing.)

VIOLENT HEADACHE - "Police Brutality" CD (After "Bombs of Crust" I kind of gave up on Violent Headache for a while, but during Myspace's heyday one of labels that befriended me posted a flyer for this on my page. I emailed them about trading for a copy, but ended up getting one from Toñyo instead. Turns out this was recorded before their LP for a 7" release, the label dropped the ball and it was released on CD instead with some goofy bonus tracks. This shit smokes, just like all of their mid-90s 7"s do. Tight, powerful drumming, thick guitars and that instantly recognizable bass sound that graces all of their recordings. This stuff's tough without sounding tough-guy, like a brick to the face.)

VIOLENT HEADACHE - "The Singles Collection" CD (I own pretty much this exact same release on two different cassettes, one on a Spanish label who's name I've forgotten and one on Your Not Normal Records. Both have extra material this CD doesn't have. The Spanish tape has some added compilation tracks (in addition to a beautiful pocket-sized booklet) and the other has the entire "Therapy of Noise" demo. I'm glad Six Weeks released this CD, though. I already owned all of the vinyl, but it's nice having this all in one place and it brought VH to a wider audience, people who probably only knew them from their LP on Six Weeks. Though all of this stuff is great (even the songs with those horrid female vocals), the split with Positi Caustico is my favorite. Their earliest 7"s are fucking savage and noisy, some of my favorite records in my collection. The newer stuff on here is crushing and powerful, too. This is a great CD, nice sound and booklet. My only complaint is that the space between the songs could have been tightened up some to improve the flow.)

VIOLENT HEADACHE - "Therapy of Noise" CDR (R.O.N.F. did us all a favor and reissued this classic, boosted the sound and added nice liner notes. The notes explained that they recorded at a fancy studio and used those hexagon shaped electronic drums for the recording. The vocals sound like a barking dog and the production is in the red the whole time, as it should be. This shit rules.)

VIOLENT HEADACHE / NECROMORPH - split CD (Sounds like VH has undergone some line-up changes, and in the process they've cleaned up their sound somewhat. The songs are still very much in the same style, but that VH "sound" is missing, and goddammit, I loved that "sound". It's only a let-down because it's VH. If it were any other band I'd be like, "Holy fuck, these guys sound like Violent Headache. This shit rules!" I know that doesn't make much sense, but whatever. You'd be crazy to expect a band not to change any after all this time, Violent Headache are no exception. I miss the old singer, though, and I miss that killer bass tone, but these songs shred. Necromorph, also from Spain, play a more metallic sounding grindcore with a strange guitar sound. The blasts are faster and the riffs are more "metal' than Violent Headache. They're okay, but I don't like their half enough to want to hear anything else from them.)

Day #293
VISCERA - "Body Basics" CDR (Not sure if Viscera have hung it up, but this came out years ago and there hasn't been a peep from Jayde since then. I'm pretty sure it's just a one man project at this point and there's a drum machine this time around, but it doesn't change the style any. It's still the same grindcore with shrieking high vocals throughout, but the sound is cleaner this time around. The songs are still fun and catchy, as always. Last time I heard from Jayde he was playing drums with Bowel Fetus and there were plans for the first two Viscera demos to be re-released on vinyl, but no word on that since.)

VOICE OF EYE - "Transmigration" CD (I haven't listened to this in years and have forgotten how excellent this is. It's not exactly dark ambient, though there are lengthy passages that could easily be described as such. A lot of times thus sounds like a nightmarish horror film soundtrack. The whole thing is chilling, fitting for this cold Monday morning. No clue who's behind this or if they have other releases, but I feel dumb for not listening to this more often.)

VOIVOD - s/t CD (I bought this from my friend Ace while visiting him in Denver years ago. I went with him when he picked it up. He was really excited about Snake's return to the band, but I don't think made it through the first song before turning it off. I bought it from him to rescue it from a fate of being broken in half and hurled across the room. That's what Ace did when he didn't like something. Hell, he sometimes did that with stuff he dud like if he thought it would generate a laugh. This might not have been their triumphant return to their glory days, but I wasn't expecting that. Voivod have never been a band that repeated themselves. Snake's return does bring back that instantly recognizable sound of his vocals, something missed on their post-MCA albums, and Jasonic's bass is loud and clear in the mix harkening back to the production style of "Nothingface". The music is more rock than metal, but that's in no way a bad thing. Piggy's riffs are great, as always, and his guitar sounds massive. The vocals are a bit loud in the mix and the album kind of drags after a while, but overall this is really enjoyable.)

VOIVOD - "Angel Rat" CD (Most Voivod fans hated this album when it was released, some swear it's one of their best albums. I'm on the fence with this one. After a great opening track, one of their greatest tracks ever, really, things kind of go south from there. The problem for me is neither the vocals or the music. I love Snake's vocals, even when he's singing as opposed to snarling, but they don't really fit the music too well on this album. It sounds as if he's singing near the top of his range for most of the album. I'm not sure what he could have down differently, but it's an odd sound. Part of the disappointment, though, is that this followed my favorite album in their discography and while nothing could compete with "Nothingface", this seemed a step down in quality. The more I listen to this the more I like it, but it's pretty far down on the list of great Voivod albums, in my opinion. I even like some of the Eric Forrest albums more than this one.)

VOIVOD - "Dimension Hatröss" CD (This was the first one I heard / bought, thanks to seeing them on the great "Hard 'n' Heavy Thrash and Speed Metal Special" VHS tape (still have my copy!). I remember reading the lyrics as a teenager repeatedly trying to figure out what they meant, what the story was, and not having a clue what the fuck was going on. It just made the album better for me, like these guys were operating on a higher plane. I also remember being frustrated that they would play such heavy parts then switch to something else so quickly leaving you wanting more of that riff. That's what makes Bolt Thrower so great, they play the riffs long enough to satisfy before switching, but leaving the riff and atypical song writing are some of the things I love about Voivod. With the exception of "Nothingface" I've listened to this one more than any of their albums and it's one of my favorites. That bonus track is horrible, though.)

VOIVOD - "Dimension Hatröss + Nothingface Demos" CDR* (I found these on soulseek years ago. There are demo versions of every song on "Dimension Hatröss" and they sound muddy, but great, even heavier than the album version, though nowhere near as clear sounding. The "Nothingface" demos are a little more clear sounding, like a good 4 track recording.)

VOIVOD - "Instrumental Demos" CDR* (aka "The Deathbed Demos". When Piggy's cancer advanced to the stage he knew he was dying he recorded all of the material he had been working on to his laptop, complete with bass and drum parts via drum machine. I'm not sure how this stuff leaked out, but it's awesome. I don't think I've heard this since "Katorz" was released, so I'm not sure how many of these songs were used on that album, and I haven't listened to it enough to recognize the songs in their instrumental form on this disc, but these demos work incredibly well as an instrumental album. 73 minutes is a bit much to take in at once, but this stuff is fascinating and really shows just how much of Voivod was Piggy. He really could have done the band as a solo project based on these demos.)

VOIVOD - "Katorz" CD (I bought this for really cheap new, like $2.99, and I think I've listened to it twice before today. As far as Voivod's rock albums go, this one is excellent. The band recorded their parts around Piggy's existing guitar tracks with great results. The song structures are straighter than most of their albums, but it allows time to drive the riffs home. You really can't tell this is a post-humous release, it sounds great. I enjoyed this way more than I did "Angel Rat" earlier today.)

VOIVOD - "Kronik" CD (Not one of my favorite releases, but it's still interesting, I guess. "Kronik" is a compilation album of unreleased tracks, remixes and live stuff from the Eric Forrest-era. The breakcore / dance remixes are interesting for about 3 minutes, then wear out their welcome. The unreleased tracks are pretty good and the live stuff sounds excellent. I don't like Forrest's vocals as well as Snake's, but he dies a pretty good job. There's no such thing as a bad Voivod album, this one included. Skip past those remix tracks and this is pretty solid.)

VOIVOD - "Lives" CD (Great sound, solid song selection, great performances.)

VOIVOD - "Negatron" CD (Their return to a more metal sound and the first without Snake on vocals. It took some getting used to, but I like Eric Forrest's vocals now. Snake's vocals too some getting used to also. Some of these songs are great, some just so-so. I didn't like this much when it was released, but it's not terrible. Their next album, "Phobos", is much better. Piggy's riffs are still great, but I miss the progressive elements in their music.)

Day #294
VOIVOD - "Nothingface" CD (One of those albums I consider to be perfect from beginning to end. There's just enough metal retained in their sound for me to consider this to be their pinnacle. It's fucking brilliant, plain and simple. I had this on cassette in the 80s and it had a huge fold-out insert with pictures, drawings, lyrics, etc. This CD copy I bought has one fucking card as the "booklet". It's fucking insulting how they treated this masterpiece.)

VOIVOD - "The Outer Limits" CD ("Angel Rat" scared me off from Voivod for years. I wrote them off until "Negatron" was getting good press in the metal rags and I bought it. It rekindled my interest in them enough to seek out "Angel Rat" and "The Outer Limits", both of which I found on eBay for a couple of bucks each. I'm still uncertain about where I stand on "Angel Rat", but I liked this one right away. It's my favorite of their rock albums and Snake's vocals sound like they usually do, not unnaturally high like on "Angel Rat". The snarl has returned to his voice, too. At 17:28, "Jack Luminous" is the most epic thing they've recorded and it's the highlight of this album. Even the Pink Floyd cover is fun, but has nowhere near the effect "Astronomy Dominie" had on "Nothingface".)

VOIVOD - "Phobos" CD (This is easily the best of the Eric Forrest albums. It's their heaviest album since the "Killing Technology", but more importantly, it still sounds very much like Voivod. This could have benefitted from more bass guitar in the mix, but it sounds pretty good otherwise.)

VOIVOD - "To the Death" Demo '84 CDR (One of the many discs I bought from eBay not knowing it was a home-made inkjet cover/burned CDR. I have no problem buying bootlegs, but I like to know what I'm getting into ahead of time. This guy maybe had $0.50 wrapped up in making this and I probably bought it for $8.00 or so. Cunts... I left the guy negative feedback, fuck him. Anyway, their first demo sounds like it was dine during rehearsal and is pretty good considering. Everything is audible. It's also an hour long and has a Venom cover. Who the hell releases an hour long first demo? According to the "War and Pain" reissue this was the recording session for their track on "Metal Massacre V" that spawned "Condemned to the Gallows".)

VOIVOD - "War and Pain" CD1 (Metal Blade reissued this with a remastered version of the album, bonus tracks, a second disc with demo tracks and a third disc with interactive material. I don't think I've ever viewed the material on the third disc. The remastering job sounds okay, but I haven't compared it to the original. Nothing stands out as sounding off, though. I forgot how messy this album was. It's raw and noisy and there's only a single guitar track recorded. The solos are all over the place, but in a good way. On this album they sound like a more manic, over the top version of Venom. The bonus tracks cone from their first life show and a few cuts from the above "To the Death" demo.)

VOIVOD - "War and Pain" CD2 (The whole second disc is the "Morgoth Invasion" live demo. The playing is excellent, but the sound is pretty crummy. Better to have it than not, though. This 3CD set was sold for the price of one disc. This is cool, but it will be several years before I want to hear it again.)

VOIVOD - "World War III Live" / SLAYER - "1986 Def Jam Demos" CDR* (I found both of these on soulseek. The Voivod tracks were recorded live in 1985 and sound abysmal. I'm not even sure why I burned this to CD. Slayer's tracks are instrumental drum machine demos of songs from "Reign in Blood" they recorded for Def Jam, obviously.)

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