Joel Grind – The Yellowgoat Sessions

Achintya Venkatesh reviews the new album from Joel Grind titled The Yellowgoat Sessions, released via Hells Headbangers.

a3024196332_10

Tracklist:

01. Ascension
02. Hell’s Master of Hell
03. Vengeance Spell
04. Foul Spirit Within
05. Cross Damnation
06. Grave Encounters
07. Black Order
08. The Eternal One
09. Hail to Cruelty
10. Descension

In this age of preppy and generally trendy derivatives of metal with squeaky clean production and played down imagery, that lack the ardor, rebelliousness, anti-conventionalism and rawness that characterized the genre since its inception, this album is certainly an unapologetic beckoning to the roots of black metal, dating back to the early 1980’s. This is not to imply that metal is entirely about being over-the-top, extreme or exaggerated in its approach. But personally, the sort of metal found on this album is something like a comic book. If it doesn’t have that bit of edge and theatrics to it, it just doesn’t do it for me. Fortunately, Joel Grind, known for his work in the retro-thrash metal band Toxic Holocaust has presented us old schoolers a slab of grimy exaltations and invocations to the overlords and archons of the dark realms of metal. Oh so primordial, ancient, chthonic and down-right filthy. One wouldn’t expect this to be heard in 2013 of all years. But apparently the underground resistance (sorry for the reference, Darkthrone!) is alive and well, and stronger than ever. Did Quorthon have some sort of bastard son in his various peregrinations, or did Thomas Warrior let Grind use the very same bunker he used to record the infamous but ever so eternally influential Triumph of Death?

On the same note, the album starts with an eerie intro, Ascension, and bears an incredibly strong resemblance to the intros used on the early Bathory albums (think Storm of Damnation or Nocturnal Obeisance) and jumps straight into Hell’s Master of Hell which is absolutely blatant Bathory worship but a kickass album opener. I’ve seen many people saying that this could’ve well been an omitted track from Bathory (1984) and I couldn’t agree more. It has a great degree of sonic semblance to War from the very same album, in fact. Vengeance Spell is in the very same vein with a speed-driven, blackened quality to it. The riffs are very catchy and the guitar solo, albeit simplistic perfectly fits in. The fourth track Foul Spirit Within is more plodding and has a slower pace, but features rather similar riffs.

Stream the entire album below:

Cross Damnation has an easily recognizable blackened speed metal quality to it, and is a bit of a filler but very enjoyable nevertheless. The next tracks, Grave Encounters and Black Order continue this trend but the former is far more relentless, aggressive and amusingly over-the-top that would make some question whether Joel Grind was being serious at all while penning down these accursed tunes. The 8th track, The Eternal One, and my personal favourite is malevolent, rancorous Hellhammer worship from start to end in the vein of songs like Buried and Forgotten. The album closer, Hail to Cruelty has a more speed-driven edge to it in the vein of Venom and Motorhead with a smattering of Canadian speed/thrash metal (a la Razor, Exciter, etc). The album ends with an outro, Descension, once again a direct nod to the outros found all over the Bathory catalogue.

This album would get any enthusiast of the First Wave of Black Metal absolutely ecstatic. It’s short and crisp with a comical but honest aggression to go along with it. I’ve said this many times before and I’ll say it again – the efforts of artists like Joel Grind serve to preserve a specific sound, that might well get lost in the sands of time lest we lay an excessive emphasis on constant musical innovation and change. By that virtue, this album is one among many underground gems. In short, Joel Grind keeps it real. He should definitely continue releasing stuff in a similar vein as opposed to the comparatively generic retro-thrash, taking us back to a time when there were no limiting, stylistic borders such as thrash or black metal..

 

Besieged – Victims Beyond All Help

Jayaprakash Satyamurthy reviews the reissue of the album from Besieged titled Victims Beyond All Help, released via Unspeakable Axe Records.

PromoImage

Tracklisting:

‘Internal Suffering’
‘Death’
‘Buried Alive’
‘The End’
‘Victims Beyond All Help’
‘Trapped Inside’
‘Black’

This is fierce! Besieged isn’t just another gang of wistful reprobates longing for a mid-80s utopia of denim vests and white hi-top sneakers. They’re a fast, furious band who prove that thrash metal isn’t just an outmoded subgenre or an exercise in nostalgia. As far as I’m concerned, there are very few thrash revival acts out there worth listening to, and Besieged’s straight-for-the-jugular attack and relentless barrage of whipcracking riffage make it clear that they’re here to chew gum and kick some ass.

Remember when Sepultura was awesome? I’m talking Beneath The Remains and Arise. Remember Dark Angel at their peak? Remember how there was a time when death metal and thrash weren’t that far apart, when you could hear the genres bleeding into each other at the edges? Besieged operates in that space, but that’s not to say that their sound is a throwback. A song like the simply-titled, aggressively perfect ‘Death’ with its swirling riffs constantly ratcheting up the heaviness factor isn’t just an attempt to recreate the past; it’s an absolutely up-to-the-minute, vital and immediate song in a genre that still has a lot of life in it in the right hands. Nolan Smit’s furious, barked-out vocal delivery is pleasingly reminiscent of Max Cavalera at his most furious or Mille Petroza in his earlier years. Unlike the usual Bay Area necrophilia, the riffing draws as much on the Teutonic thunder of very Sodom as it does on American thrash. This makes for a volatile cocktail, one that erupts with dazzling incendiary violence on another album highlight, ‘The End’ or the title track, a veritable feast of riffs with enough chunky, sizzling mosh fodder to whet even the most jaded appetite.

There’s nary a misstep on this steaming platter of some of the juiciest thrash metal it has been my pleasure to consume in the past decade or so. The album was originally independently released, and major props are due to Dark Descent’s thrash sub-label, Unspeakable Axe who’ve picked another real winner for their sophomore release. I can’t wait to see what this band, and this label, has lined up for us next!

 

 

Birth A.D. – I Blame You

 Jayaprakash Satyamurthy reviews Birth A.D‘s new album ‘I Blame You‘, released via Unspeakable Axe Records.

PromoImage

Tracklist:
01. Mission Statement
02. Equal Opportunity
03. Burn L.A.
04. Failed State
05. Bring Back the Draft
06. This Scene Sucks
07. Violent Retribution
08. No, Man
09. I Blame You
10. Short Bus Society
11. Wrong Again
12. Fill in the Blank
13. Kill Everybody
14. No Jobs (Don’t Work)
15. Cause Problems
16. Parasites Die
17. Popular War
18. Blow Up the Embassy

 

Cut the crap, here’s the thrash.

When this whole thrash revival scene kicked off, it didn’t take long for my excitement to turn to ennui. Blame it on one too many faceless bands who’d spent more time hunting down hi-top sneakers and bullet belts than they did on their songcraft; blame it on record companies eager to cash in and releasing material that tried too hard to ape the highlights from Bonded By Blood or Kill ‘Em All without aspiring to the same level of quality, never mind originality.

Birth AD, whose crossover thrash/hardcore sound reminds me of S.O.D., D.R.I. and the likes, kicks that whole scene to the curb with their righteous, one-minute-forty-one-second ‘Mission Statement’. Eschewing the unearned populism of so many wannabe thrash bands, frontman/bassist Jeff declaims ‘we won’t write any songs about thrash/or put it on our t-shirts for easy cash/we’ll never tell you to get in the pit/we don’t give a shit’. It helps that this statement of purpose is delivered over a buoyant, breathless punk-metal riff-fest, straightforward but never monotonous and, despite its short running time, not without a certain modicum of musical development.

The rest of the album follows in the same vein, delivering one short, cynical anthem after another. Songs like ‘Failed State’ and ‘Popular War’ take on political issues while ‘I Blame You’ and ‘Short Bus Society’ sees the band taking a jaundiced view of the blowhards, wingnuts and common folk who are as much to blame for the state of things. Before you start thinking this is all heavy political activism, like a punked-up RATM, the great thing about Birth AD, and what connects them more deeply to the subgenre they’re working in is the sense of fun – there’s just something in the snotty delivery, the gang shouts and the relentless, effusive energy of the band that makes it hard to keep a straight face.

Dark Descent Records has long been one of the most consistent labels in the death/doom/black metal scene; this is the debut release from their thrash sub-label, Unspeakable Axe Records. The integrity and quality of this release, all the way down to the memorable cover art, suggest that we can expect good things from both the label and the band.

 

Iron Reagan – Worse than Dead

Mohammad Kabeer reviews the new Iron Reagan record ‘Worse than Dead‘ released via A389 Recordings and Magic Bullet Records.

url

Tracklist:
1. Drop The Gun (1:16)
2. Slightly Out Of Focus (0:33)
3. I Predict The Death Of Harold Camping (1:15)
4. Cycle Of Violence (1:36)
5. Eyes Piss Tears (1:09)
6. Insanity Plea(se)? (0:45)
7. A Joke A Fraud A Fake (1:15)
8. Rats In A Cage (1:03)
9. We Know You (1:05)
10. Paycheck (1:22)
11. Midlothian Murder Mile (1:49)
12. The Debt Collector (1:56)
13. I Ripped That Testament A New Asshole (1:14)
14. Bodies (1:38)
15. Eat Shit And Live (0:49)
16. Two Examples (1:30)
17. Snake Chopper (0:54)
18. Warp Your Mind (1:55)
19. Walking Out (1:38)

In a short span  of time  A389  records  have proved to be  a  force to be reckoned  with when it comes  to extreme  music, Hardcore especially. From  signing veterans  of the genre  like Integrity,Pulling Teeth , Gehenna ,Eyehategod  and Ringworm to showcasing  newer talent like TRIAC,Full of Hell,Children of God, Weekend Nachos and even  pumping some  fresh new blood onto the scene like Cynarae,Seven Sisters of Sleep ,Homewrecker ,Sick Fix and Young and n the way. Iron Reagan is another  name   which  got added recently  to be amongst all these  talented bands.

Iron Reagan are a four piece super group from Richmond Virginia, consisting of members from Municipal Waste and Darkest Hour.  The band don’t really try to experiment too much nor try to keep pace with their contemporaries ,  this album right here is as old school as it gets, clearly fitting right inside the crossover thrash box. These  guys take  the  thunderous  palm muted chugs  of   Thrash  metal with the  simple yet intense chord play of Hardcore punk which brings out the best of both  the genres,  cutting out all the fat  and ultimately  creating  music  that’s simple ,straightforward  yet   energetic   and undeniably  exciting,  although there are times  when this album tries   to be a little more eclectic with the  tracks slightly out of focus and I ripped that testament a new asshole having a slight  black metal element to them  and paychech  showcasing a  metallic hardcore quality to their sound a la Integrity but for the most part this is just a full on assault.

So the final verdict? This album may not be a masterpiece, but is sure as fun as hell! ,  don’t  analyse to much just  put  on your thrash  metal jacket with patches  galore,grab some beer, crank up that stereo  and  BANG YOUR FUCKING HEAD!!

Stream the entire album below