Sunday, June 1, 2014

Capitalist Casualties

    I moved to Arizona from New Jersey a few days before my 14th birthday. At the time, I was heavily into metal, mostly death and thrash, but I was starting to dabble in punk and hardcore. Within the first year of living in AZ, I started hanging out with more punk kids than metal kids, they were just more fun. I started going to a ton of punk shows at places like the Nile in Mesa. We hit the occasional death metal show too, my friends were into death metal before punk, just like me, but it was mostly punk and hardcore in those days.
     As I've previously delved into, I discovered the heavier side of punk rock through Logical Nonsense, and then grindcore through bands like Phobia and Brutal Truth. From there the floodgates were wide open. I started getting heavily into all the insanely fast hardcore bands being put out by labels like Sound Pollution and Slap A Ham. I loved stuff like Spazz, Capitalist Casualties, Assuck, Discordance Axis, Hellnation, and many other bands of that nature. My friends and I played in punk bands and went to shows whenever and wherever we could.
     For a short time in the late 90s, a bowling alley in Tempe became the center of our scene. We would go see local favorites like Unruh, Suicide Nation, and Carol Ann there regularly. My friends were in a great band called Misanthropic who played there several times, as did my band, Misled. I saw Converge there for the first time, as well as the mighty Assuck. In the summer of '98, Misanthropic and Carol Ann wound up on a bill with Hellnation and Capitalist Casualties there.
     The weekend of that particular show, I was attending a festival in Santa Fe, New Mexico to see Logical Nonsense, Noisear, the Fanatics, and many others. Myself and a few others left Santa Fe as soon as the fest ended and drove straight to Tempe without even stopping home, just so we wouldn't miss Hellnation and Capitalist Casualties. It was an awesome show. Hellnation was great, really fast and brutal, but Capitalist Casualties were the band of the night. They were everything I loved about hardcore at the time. They were fast and heavy, but they also had memorable songs that you could shout along to. I bought a t-shirt from them that I wore until it finally disintegrated just recently.
     16 years have passed since that show. Many of my friends have ceased being active members of the scene. I'm one of the only ones who still plays music regularly, at least here in AZ. Tons of bands have come and gone since then, but Capitalist Casualties are still going strong. They all live in different states, but still get together every few months to record a new 7" or do a quick tour or something. I saw them play at Maryland Deathfest back in 2010 and they were every bit as good as they were when I first saw them over a decade ago.
     So now it's 2014 and I'm at a strange point in life. I live out here in Surprise, which is pretty far from where anything fun happens in this state. I have a decent enough job that keeps me here, but my passion still lies with playing music. I know that I have no hope of ever making a living off of the stuff I enjoy playing, and I also know that I'd be miserable if I played something I didn't like just to make money. I've been playing and writing music for my band Sorrower since the summer of 2009 and we're just now getting in the studio to make our debut full length album. I just realized that something had to change. I needed to get out of the boondocks and relocate somewhere that I can play music far more often than I do. That means quitting my job and losing the small amount of security that I have.
     I had been wrestling with this for the last few months. I finally had enough at work after getting bitched out over something stupid for what seemed like the hundredth time, and I put in my notice. Not wanting to screw them over, I agreed to stay on until the end of our busy season in late May. Right around the same time, my old friend Shane, who I played in a band with for many years, called me up one night and asked if Sorrower would be interested in playing a show he was setting up for Capitalist Casualties. They were playing MDF again and were touring their way back across the US afterwards. Shane said we were the first band that he thought of when he agreed to book the show. I asked the guys if they were down to do it, and next thing you know, we were in.
     The show happened to coincide with my last day at work. I was scheduled to be done on May 31, we played the night before. As the date started approaching faster and faster, I seriously started to doubt myself and second guess my decision. What if I couldn't find another decent job in the city? Was it really worth it to give up my benefits and a steady paycheck at the age of 34, just so I could hit the jam pad one or two more times a week? I was in serious panic mode thinking about all the bills I had coming up, losing my insurance, everything a 34 year old man is told their whole life is supposed to be most important at that age.
     Then the night of the show came. We were a little rusty, since we had forgone regular practices in the month prior because we spent most of our time in the studio. We jammed out a quick set in the practice room, it sounded good enough so we packed up our gear and off we went. The spot Shane had chosen for the show was an outdoor area out on the Rez where some friends had held a punk and grind fest a few months back, but had been the site of little else since. We were worried that people might not venture out to a place so off the beaten path for this show, but we were pleasantly surprised to find quite a few people out there waiting for us. The overall vibe reminded me of the punk rock desert parties we used to go to when we were teenagers.
     A few other locals played before us, then we hit the makeshift stage for our brief set. We had only rehearsed 8 songs, so our set clocked in at a little less than 15 minutes. It wasn't half bad, in my opinion. After we finished, the stage was cleared for the legendary Capitalist Casualties. I had spent most of the evening before our set manning our merch table, which was right next to theirs. After some technical difficulties, they finally hit the stage and the four guys I had watched interact with each other and various people all night transformed into a violent whirlwind of speed and aggression. The place erupted. People were moshing, stage diving, a few people even climbed up on the roof to dive into the crowd! It was insane and awesome. Watching it unfold brought me right back to being a 17 year old kid watching them lay waste to a bowling alley all those years ago.
     After they finished, they turned back into the four guys that had been hanging out before the show. I chit chatted a bit with a couple of them and some various friends, then bought a shirt to replace my old, tattered one and headed out to unload gear and prepare for my final day of work. The next day, as I went through the motions at work, a strange calm came over me. I had somehow stopped being worried about what I was going to do and started feeling good about the reasons that I was doing what I was. I had just watched four guys, who were all probably about 10 years older than me, who had been in a band together for over two decades, who still did it out of sheer love of playing, and who all actually seemed to genuinely like each other and enjoy playing together still after all those years of grinding it out in cramped sweatboxes. There is no money in it, not for them, not for anyone who plays music like this. They just do it for the love of it, and 20 years from now there will be someone who was a kid at that show who remembers it as vividly and as fondly as I remember seeing them back in '98. That's what I want, to just play because I feel it in my heart. Jobs and money might come and go, but my love of picking up my bass and blasting away with good people will never fade.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

     I think there are a lot of people like me out there, people who live for music, who couldn't survive without it in their lives. Like me, I think many of them have certain people who helped create that bond, whether it's a person in their life who turned them on to a certain kind of music, or a band that captured their attention and opened up a whole new world for them. For me, as it turns out, I had a little of both.
     As I've stated before, I started getting heavily into punk and metal music when I was around 11 or 12 years old. Guns 'N' Roses led me to Metallica, which led me to Pantera, which led me to Sepultura, etc. I first discovered death metal by seeing Morbid Angel's "Rapture" video on Headbanger's Ball, back when they still played music videos on TV. At the time, I lived in a small suburb in northern New Jersey called Randolph. Randolph had a small, but rabid, death metal scene at the time. The local night club, Obsessions, would often host touring bands like Pungent Stench and Dismember, and local acts like Malfactor and Decollation would often be on the bill. My friends and I had our own fledgling metal band, Nineveh. At the time, we were in a bit of a transitional period. We had started as a thrash band, but our tastes began to lean more toward death metal and our style gradually changed. After I left for Arizona, they transformed into a full on death metal band. Years later, drugs and petty crime would ruin any potential they may have had, but when I was there, we were just kids trying to find our way.
     We practiced in our guitarist's basement and would often spend entire weekends there, either playing music or goofing off in the woods behind his house. Once a week, we would make the long trek through the woods to Ledgewood Mall, on the outskirts of Randolph. All the "cool" kids would hangout over in Rockaway, at the nice mall, but we always went to the "dirt mall" in Ledgewood, for two reasons. First, there was a music store there where both of our guitarists were taking lessons at the time, second, because of Record Town. If memory serves, Record Town was a regional chain on the east coast, kinda like Zia here in AZ, or Amoeba in California. It was one of the first places that taught me to really appreciate a real record store. The cool kids would go to Sam Goody in Rockaway and buy the latest Paula Abdul cassettes from some faceless drone in a stupid uniform who was just there for a paycheck, but Record Town was populated by people who wanted to work there for their love of music. Whatever kind of stuff you liked, there was somebody there who knew all about it and could help you find what you were looking for. Plus, it was the only place in town that you could go and get stuff that wasn't whatever over-hyped garbage the majors were trying to ram down your throat at the time.
     The person at the store that we naturally gravitated to was the one we always referred to simply as "the death metal guy." He was probably in his early 20s, long, dark hair, always wearing a death metal t-shirt. After seeing him at the store a few times, we started noticing him at shows, then we heard through the grapevine that he had once played in Revenant, the local thrash legends who still played from time to time. Being a bunch of kids, we ranged in age from 13 to 15 by this time, we desperately wanted to look cool to the older dudes in the scene. If death metal guy told us about some band, you can be damn sure at least one of us bought the tape.
     It all started with Morbid Angel, of course. He rang one of us up when we were buying "Covenant" one day, and the rest is history. After that, every time we went in it would be, "if you like Morbid Angel, check out this band." Obituary, Grave, Morgoth, Bolt Thrower, Pungent Stench, he turned us on to all of them. I can safely say that my musical tastes from the time I discovered death metal up until I moved to AZ a year later were entirely shaped by the death metal guy at Record Town in Ledgewood Mall.
     It had been many, many years since I had thought about death metal guy, or that time in my life. Then, a few months ago, I was sitting around a friend's house leafing through an issue of Decibel Magazine that I hadn't read, when I came upon a short article about death metal legends Incantation, a long time favorite of mine. Incantation had come up out of the same New Jersey scene that I did, they were from just a few towns away, in Bergenfield. Their bass player at the time, Ronnie Deo, was only about a year older than me and I knew a few people who knew him, but we never saw his band play. They weren't the legendary band that they are now yet, they had just started to make a name for themselves. Their first album came out right around the time I was leaving Jersey, and it had somehow passed me by. I didn't really get into them until a few years later, after I finally saw them play a show in Arizona.
     The article I was reading had a sidebar, where Incantation's legendary bandleader, John McEntee, talked about his band's contribution to the Decibel flexi disc series. For their entry, Incantation had chosen to do a cover version of the song "Degeneration" by none other than New Jersey's own, Revenant. McEntee talked about his origins in the scene, how he joined Revenant for a short period during their heyday, and how he had left to explore his own musical vision with Incantation. He also made mention of the fact that he had met some of the more luminous personalities in the New Jersey metal scene through his job at Record Town. That's when it hit me, John McEntee was the death metal guy from the mall when I was a kid!
     What a strange, yet wonderful revelation that was. I look back fondly on those formative years, before everything became about drinking and drugs, trying to get laid all the time, worrying about who's going to put out your next record, where you're gonna go on your next tour, when all that mattered was the latest tape you bought by some new band playing music like you had never heard before. To find out that one of the people who had guided me through that time went on to become a legend in our scene was a pretty awesome feeling. I guess if anyone who isn't into this crazy music I love were to read this, it would seem pretty mundane. It's not like it was some household name to the outside world, but to me it was pretty special. I hope that sometime in the future, my path will cross with his again. I think he'd enjoy the story.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

I'm giving serious thought to turning Seething Cauldron into a record label. Probably gonna start with the next Sorrower 7", but if that winds up being successful I might consider expanding. Pricing things out right now. I've got to do something, 'cause I'm losing my mind working in dead end restaurant jobs all the time!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

     Been awhile since I've written anything here. Truth is, for the last few months I've been alternating between extreme stress and severe depression, both on special occasions. Not sure how I keep going anymore. I work six days a week and rarely practice with my band anymore. I don't make it out to many shows either. I'm really failing to see the point in anything anymore. Why the hell do I work so hard? What do I have to show for it? I sacrifice the things I care about so I can go to work to pay bills for shit that means nothing in the long run. Fuck this. If  this is the "American Dream," then America can fucking suck it. I'm so done. I spend fifty-sixty hours of my week working for the same people that would call me an entitled, lazy, sack of shit if they saw me on the street. These people can go get fucked. They're living the high life off of the same kinds of benefits and entitlements that they would vote to take away from me. I hate everyone.

Friday, January 11, 2013

2012: The Filth and the Fury

     Doing a year end top 10 list is always a dilemma for me. I often find myself including records based on how much I like the band in general, rather than how much I actually enjoyed the record. I find myself trying too hard to find albums that will stand the test of time, albums that I'll always regard as classics, rather than ones that really define a year for me. So this year, I'm doing it differently. Those reading will notice some surprising absences. Three of my all time favorite bands released albums this year that didn't make the cut. That doesn't necessarily mean that I disliked the albums, far from it actually. Some albums take time to be fully appreciated. Maybe somewhere down the line, I'll look back on records as classics that I didn't really appreciate enough at first. It's happened many, many times before, and it will happen again. The albums that made my top 10 this year are the ones that kept me coming back for more all year long. These are the records that defined 2012 for me, for many reasons. They may not all stand the test of time and become all time favorites, but they will always remind me of where and who I was this year.

10.) Grave "Endless Procession of Souls" If your idea of death metal is slick production, typewriter drums, sweep picking interspersed with breakdowns, prettyboys with their own stylists, and artwork that looks like a still shot from the latest video game, first of all, you don't like death metal. Second of all, Grave is not for you. This is ugly music for ugly people, and it shouldn't be any other way. Grave has had a few missteps in their 26 year career, but their last few records have seen them recapture the sound and fury of classics like "Into the Grave" and "You'll Never See." 2012's "Endless Procession of Souls" seems to be what they were building up to the last few years. Fast tempos rule on this record, but they're not afraid to slow it down into a groove on occasion. The guitar tone is fat and distorted, the riffs are simple and heavy. Everything about this record is exactly what should come to mind when one thinks of the words "death metal."

9.) P.O.O.R "Extinction of Trust" I am extremely picky about grindcore. In fact, despite it being my favorite sub-genre, I probably hate 99% of it. Hyperspeed crust with shitty production and generic songwriting just doesn't cut it for me. That's why I get so excited when I do hear a new band that I love as much as P.O.O.R. This album is pure musical violence from start to finish. The music flows seemlessly between brutal death groove, pulverizing blast beats, and punk inspired aggression, all topped off with a relentless dual vocal attack. This band is sure to join the likes of Phobia and Rotten Sound atop the pile of modern grindcore favorites. I'm expecting big things for them in 2013.

8.) Wolfbrigade "Damned" Nothing gets fists pumping like raging d-beat, and nobody does it better than the mighty Wolfbrigade. If you've heard any of this band's back catalogue, then you know what to expect from "Damned," and really, why would you want anything different? It's all here, the dirty guitar tone, the raspy, shouted vocals, the Motorhead leads, and d-beats. Tons of non-stop d-beats. Records like this make me want to drink copious amounts of alcohol, break bottles, and generally fuck shit up. Up the punx!

7.) Tim Barry "40 Miler" Nobody has ever been able to sum up life as perfectly for me in song as Tim Barry has. Whether he was fronting Avail, or performing his stripped down acoustic songs, his lyrics have always hit close to home. Songs about being broke, playing music for the love of it, and generally living outside of society and being happy about it will always strike a chord with me. Old punks picking up acoustic guitars and writing simple songs about life on the road has been a bit of a trend in the last few years, but Tim has been doing it longer and will still be doing it when the trend has gone away. He's also smart enough to recognize the trend and make light of it and himself on this record.

6.) Pallbearer "Sorrow and Extinction" This album was so hyped up that I actually avoided it for a long time, to save myself the disappointment of hearing yet another universally loved album that bored the shit out of me. Well, that was a mistake, because I have barely stopped listening to it since I finally took the plunge and got it. There's a skill that Pallbearer possesses that seems to have been lost on most other doom metal bands, the ability to write a memorable song. There isn't a single track on here under 8 minutes, yet I never wanted any of them to end. Pure ear candy.

5.) Bouncing Souls "Comet" The Bouncing Souls are a band that rarely lets me down. Anytime a new album drops, I can always count on it being a staple on my turntable and in my car for months, even years to come. This album is no different. While they are in no way re-inventing the wheel, "Comet" is chock full of the kind of uplifting pop-punk that the Souls excel at. I haven't gone more than a week without throwing this record on since it came out, and each time brings a smile to my face. "Fast Times," "Coin Toss Girl." and the title track are destined to become live staples for these guys.

4.) Black Breath "Sentenced To Life" I really didn't think they'd be able to top "Heavy Breathing," but on rare occasions I am wrong about certain things. This album is what it would sound like if a bunch of crust punks started a death metal band that was actually good, and well-financed. The production on this is flawless, the guitar sound is gnarly as fuck, but perfectly clear. The drumming is immaculate and keeps the whole record from descending into complete chaos. The energy level is unrelenting from the opening notes. The whole band just comes across like they're trying to destroy you through music. Oh, and "Endless Corpse" is in serious contention for song of the year.

3.) Propagandhi "Failed States" Every time I think Propagandhi have peaked, they come back with another record that blows the doors off their previous work. Their music is constantly evolving, while never losing the punk edge of their early material. On their sixth album, they take the punk/thrash fusion of their two prior albums and kick it up a notch. Second guitarist David Guillas has been fully integrated into the band and his interplay with Chris Hannah finally lays to rest any notion of this being a "pop-punk" band. Lyrically, Propagandhi will never be matched. When they're not making you go crazy with their music, they're making you think with their words. One of the best bands ever.

2.) Pig Destroyer "Book Burner" Sometimes a band releases a record early in their career that is so good, it makes you stop having high hopes for their subsequent releases, no matter how good they might be. This is how I've felt about Pig Destroyer since the release of 2001's "Prowler in the Yard." It didn't matter that "Terrifyer" and "Phantom Limb" were both excellent records, the fact that they weren't as good as "Prowler..." diminished my expectations for anything else they released. Maybe that's why I was so blown away by "Book Burner," because I wasn't prepared to be this floored. Scott Hull continues to be one of the greatest riff-masters of my generation, and new drummer Adam Jarvis delivers a truly awe-inspiring performance. JR Hayes is truly disturbing, both in lyrics and performance. I truly believe that if he didn't have Pig Destroyer as an outlet, he might be a very dangerous person.

1.) Napalm Death "Utilitarian" As far as I'm concerned, 2012 was the year of Napalm Death. Not only was their show at Rocky Point Cantina the highlight of a great year of shows, but they put out one of the best records in a catalogue that spans over 25 years. There are many out there who would argue that Napalm hasn't done anything truly great since the first 2-3 albums, but in my opinion their post-2000 material has been some of the strongest of their career. "Utilitarian" is pretty much the culmination of the last decade of Napalm Death. While I would no longer classify them as "grindcore," there are still enough blast beats to keep the faithful happy. This band has always experimented and expanded on their signature sound, with mixed results, but it seems they've finally found a way to incorporate new influences without it sounding forced, like some of their 90s material. The black metal and punk influences blend seemlessly into their one of a kind take on the death/grind genre. As always, Barney sounds exactly like Barney. Despite him not being the original vocalist, I find it hard to imagine Napalm with anyone else on the mic. Napalm Death is, was, and always will be the pinnacle of everything that grindcore/death metal should be. I wish they could last another 25 years.

Friday, November 16, 2012

10 Reasons Why Arizona Should Be the Next Heavy Music Scene to Blow Up Nationwide

It is often said that oppressive political climates produce the best in hardcore and metal music. Perhaps that explains the recent explosion in heavy music here in Arizona. While we've always had a tradition of producing some great, yet often overlooked, metal and hardcore bands here, a new crop of bands has risen up in the last few years and several seem poised to make the jump from local acts to nationally known names. Following in the footsteps of 80s forefathers like JFA, Nuclear Death, and Sacred Reich, not to mention more recent bands that have paved the way and put Arizona on the map, such as Landmine Marathon and Vehemence, most of the following bands have already released fantastic records and hopefully have bright futures. In no particular order;

Seas Will Rise. Starting life as a d-beat hardcore band called Cagematch, Seas Will Rise adopted a new name and heavier sound on their debut full length, "Disease Is Our Refrain," released earlier this year. While staying true to their hardcore roots, the band is not afraid to experiment with sludge and thrash metal influences. Their intense live performances and recorded output have gained them some national exposure, even landing them on a Scion showcase with the likes of Phobia and Morne, among others. The most recent show I caught them at revealed that they seem to have almost an album's worth of new material, so be on the lookout for a sophomore LP from them in the not so distant future.
For fans of: From Ashes Rise, Struck By Lightning, Trap Them

T.O.A.D. This band has been kicking around the underground for several years now, but line up changes and members' involvement in other bands have kept them from becoming a fully focused entity until recently. Last year's CD "Rotten Tide" was, in my humble opinion, one of the best things to come out of the AZ underground in ages. The band plays a unique blend of black metal, death & roll, and traditional metal that really can't be explained without hearing it. They did some touring in support of "Rotten Tide," before taking time off to produce their upcoming "Endless Night" album. I've heard the record, and all I can say is that if this band doesn't reach the next level with it, there is simply something wrong with people.
For fans of: Entombed, Darkthrone(later), Bathory

Lago. Death metal fans seem to fall into two camps lately, those who prefer the straightforward heaviness of bands like Incantation, and those who value musical technicality above all. Lago is the best of both worlds, showcasing their musical prowess while maintaining a decidedly old school heaviness on last year's debut EP, "Marianas." Line up changes have kept them out of the spotlight recently, but their latest line up has just done a run of out of state shows before entering the studio to record an internet exclusive single that will be available for download in the coming months. A full length album and some extensive touring should open people's eyes to this band's oppressively heavy death metal.
For fans of: Immolation, Nile, Morbid Angel

TWiNGiANT. A relative newcomer, this band has already self-released a fantastic full length LP entitled, "Mass Driver." TWiNGiANT's blend of heavy, fuzzed out hard rock and southern fried sludge metal has landed them several choice shows and catapulted them to the top of the growing stoner/doom metal scene. While always maintaining a level of heaviness, the band uses their twin guitar setup to great effect, with instrumental passages that often veer from Thin Lizzy-esque harmonies to drawn out psychadelia that would not be out of place on a Sonic Youth record. The band recently made their out of state debut at a festival in Colorado. While extensive touring may not be in their immediate plans, they'll likely be doing some short runs in support of "Mass Driver" as well as some upcoming shows around the valley.
For fans of: Mastodon, Clutch, Kylesa

GodAwfulNoise. Despite being plagued with line up problems, grinders GodAwfulNoise have become a staple of Phoenix's crust/grind scene. Blast beats, death metal inspired guitar riffs, and raging vocals are this band's tools of the trade, and they use them well. Their debut EP, "No Escape," displayed songwriting skills that set them apart from run of the mill grind bands. These aren't your average, forgettable 30 second blasts of noise, these riffs and venomous lyrics stick with you after the CD is done playing. Although they've drastically cut back on live shows, due to their newest drummer calling Texas home, they have an upcoming split 7" that is set to be released at any time now.
For fans of: Phobia, Terrorizer, Magrudergrind

Godhunter. Tucson's Godhunter have been kicking around for quite some time now. While they already have several splits and their excellent "Wolves" CD under their belts, it is live that this band truly excels. Their crushingly heavy take on sludge metal is absolutely explosive live. This extremely hard working band has already done some touring in support of "Wolves," and can regularly be seen opening for national acts, as well as headlining their own shows, all around Arizona. I'm not sure of their upcoming recording plans, but I know they have a tour coming up early next year.
For fans of: Buzzov*en, Weedeater, Bongzilla

Inducing Terror. One of Phoenix's longest running death metal bands, Inducing Terror has remained largely unknown due to their constantly evolving line up. Having finally secured a stable line up over the last year or so, the band is currently in the midst of recording an EP at Arcane Digital in Chandler. This band is a brutal death metal fan's wet dream. The drumming is ridiculously fast and the guitar playing extremely technical, but they never lose their heaviness, unlike some of the over-triggered leaders of this genre. This is fast, heavy, guttural death metal at it's best. Their live performances are sporadic at best, but hopefully they'll start to pick up again when they release their new recording.
For fans of: Dying Fetus, Broken Hope, Suffocation

Monger. Crust has seemingly always been a thriving sub-genre in Phoenix. This band is something of a Phoenix crust supergroup, being comprised of members of Pay Neuter, Warfair?, and ETTS, among others. Monger's self titled debut 7", released earlier this year, blends the kind of sludgy crust punk that the southwest was known for in the 90s with the chaotic noise of bands like GISM. Most of the tempos stay mid-paced and heavy, but occasionally speed up into a gallop, and the four pronged vocal attack creates an almost dizzying effect. The band has done a bit of touring and plans to release a split 7" with Coaccion soon, but sadly may be reducing their activity due to their guitarist's recent relocation to San Diego.
For fans of: Misery, Amebix, His Hero Is Gone

Rituals. Rituals' music alternates between crushing heaviness and hypnotic ambiance. While there are roughly 18 billion bands playing this style right now, Rituals' ability to create a memorable tune sets them apart. Where so many bands seem to just noodle away and go nowhere, these guys understand the importance of delivering an explosive payoff after a tense build up. Their self titled debut LP contains many of these moments, and the band is just as good live. The band has done some sporadic touring and recently released a split LP with DeZafra Ridge, but has curtailed their live performances of late due to a line up change. They should be back in action before long.
For fans of: Morne, Light Bearer, the Atlas Moth

About a hundred other bands. Seriously, this state is crawling with death metal, crust, sludge, and hardcore at the moment. Some bands have been around for ages, while new ones pop up seemingly weekly. Despite not being the touring machine they once were, Vehemence continues to play shows and has plans for a new record soon. Landmine Marathon have established themselves nationally, and are constantly growing in popularity. Death metal continues to thrive, with great bands like Six Million Dead and Necrambulant building names for themselves both locally and nationally, while newcomers like Clawhammer Abortion are starting to pick up steam. The crust/grind scene always has new bands and crazy shows going on, with Biocidio, Oust, and Blodskam leading the way. Tucson has recently begun to challenge Phoenix as the state's heavy music capital. North has been a leader of the Tucson scene for quite awhile now, with several full lengths and national tours under their belts, plus up and coming acts like Methra, FDP, and Why Bother. Also, lets not forget the Southwest Terror Fest, which made its debut in Tucson just last month and will hopefully become a growing annual event celebrating all things heavy. Even Flagstaff is getting back in on the action. Once boasting a pretty cool scene, northern Arizona has been pretty quiet for a few years, until the metallic crust of Swamp Wolf began turning some heads over the last year.

In conclusion, I hope some people outside AZ read this and give some of these bands a chance. Arizona may have disgustingly hot weather, horrible sports teams, and laughable politics, but our music is awesome!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Album Review: Phobia - "Remnants of Filth"

     At this point in the band's 20+ year career, anyone familiar with Phobia pretty much knows what to expect whenever a new record hits the streets. While "Remnants of Filth" won't do anything to alienate the grindcore faithful, it's safe to say that new guitarists Dorian Rainwater and CeCe Loessin, as well as sometime drummer Bryan Fajardo(Noisear, Kill the Client, Gridlink) have breathed new life into the band. All the familiar elements are there, the straight up grindcore assault of tracks like "Conviction" and "Plagued by the System," to the punk as fuck singalong of "Filthy Fucking Punks." For those who want a little more from their grindcore, look no further than the Slayer-esque intro to "Resolution." "Submission Hold" features a breakdown that would not be out of place on a Dying Fetus record, and the mosh part on "Infraction of Pride" should get anyone with a pulse dancing in a circle. "No Sympathy For the Weak" contains possibly the most death metal riff ever featured on a Phobia record. Fajardo keeps the whole thing flowing with a relentless performance behind the kit. The man has truly become a beast on the drums. While this all may sound like the band trying too hard to expand on its signature sound, it all works perfectly within the Phobia mold. Unencumbered with instrumental duties for the first time in Phobia's long history, main man Shane McLachlan uses the opportunity to put forth a truly venomous vocal performance. There are few better frontmen in the genre, and I can only imagine that these tracks will be even more vicious in a live setting. The simple fact is that no matter what Phobia puts out, it's live that the band really excels. This album contains a number of songs that are destined to become setlist staples. I can't imagine any established Phobia fan being disappointed with this record, and the more varied sound might earn them a few new ones.