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Another couple of days, another change in weather…and while the cold, rainy days earlier this week left us with a false hope that people were finally starting to apprehend just how serious a situation we’re in, the warmer, sunnier temperatures today have proven the absolute worst.

So with idiots and Fox, Trump and right wing media feeding the tin foil hat crowd with conspiracy theories (it must have been the Democrats!  It was a plot all along!  It’s fake, it’s just the flu!) and lack of strong direction from even the most robust of governors (and just how many of them have taken the needed measure to close the damn parks, period?), the streets and parks have been filled with dim bulbs of unrelated association (we’re hardly talking close relatives here) taking this all like some big summer holiday.

And that’s on top of the 18-35 crowd thinking they’re invulnerable, holding straight up “coronavirus parties” and packing bars and homes to laugh in the face of death.  Never mind the lung scarring and fibrosis that remain even if you manage to get through the virus’ breath takingly virile pneumonia variant itself…enjoy a lifetime of predisposition to lung diseases of all sorts!

Dumb, dumb, dumb.  And you know what?  Fuck you, if you’re one of the aforementioned and contract this – you asked for it, you got it.  The problem is that it doesn’t stop with one person, or even a few dozen…it spreads to folks who aren’t so selfish, arrogant and utterly idiotic as to spit in the eye of God, without expecting repercussions.

(shakes head in utter disgust with a huge swath of what passes for humanity these days)

…so yeah.  Let’s dig into some good music, and try to forget we have to share oxygen and space with people this utterly indefensible…and the rich corporate bastards who think profits are so important as to openly float eugenics.

Willing to die for the economy?

Yeah, I didn’t think so.  But Trump and his propagandist pals think you are, and don’t care that you will.

Remember this stuff, folks.  There’s always a recompense, and these idiots are going to have to pay up soon.

 

MIDAS – Demo Tapes (March 27)

Wait, you mean this isn’t some unearthed relic of proto-metal from Sweden in
the dawn of the 80s?

Seriously, these Detroit newcomers are working enough of a retro vibe to
confuse the most diehard fans of acts like Heavy Load, Jerusalem or Leviticus,
or even the more aggressive of NWOBHM acts – Sweet Savage, Tank, you get
the general idea.

While the first few tracks (from earlier demo Solid Gold Heavy Metal) come off
a tad lighter with their more dual harmony lead driven 70’s heavy rock (think the later, audibly coke ravaged Thin Lizzy, possibly with a touch of Foghat or even Molly Hatchet floating around in the mix), the Still Hungry demo heads straight into classic Swedish heavy (proto-) metal territory far more akin to the bands mentioned earlier, or even France’s High Power and (very) early Nightmare.

It’s like someone took all the heaviest and most melodic elements of mid to
late 70’s near beer metal analogues like Alice Cooper, Lizzy, Hawkwind, KISS
and suchlike, tagged in some Di’Anno Iron Maiden on tracks like “usurper”,
then called it a day. All of which would make perfect sense were this in fact a
pair of long forgotten demos from European shores circa 1979-82.

But this is a new band, from Detroit, Michigan.

Raise those horns and rev those iron horse engines in salute, because these
bastards just nailed it like you’d never believe.

Karloff – Raw Nights

Another compilation of two demos…well, technically, one demo and an EP, but even so.

As with Midas, it takes them a middling demo before they actually start to get their shit together and deliver something worth hearing. At least Midas had some dual melodic leads and a pronounced Lizzy feel to vouch for their awkward teenage phase…not much good to say about the first four tracks here.

But when they finally start to gel, there’s a decidedly Hells Headbangersish USBM vibe to what’s being thrown down here. “Tonight or never” is the real standout, delivering a punkish Abigail sort of vibe in its whopping minute 42, while “I like blood” grinds like the more modern day crust punk era of Darkthrone. “Kill the masters” keeps things comparatively slow and grinding, with a midtempo crunch that reminds of a cross between Bobby Ebz’ Genocide and early Wehrmacht as filtered through the sludge of Medieval. “No friends” is the weakest cut on this EP half of the compilation, but still doesn’t stray very far from template.

Score…you almost have to give them a 50, given how weak the demo half is and how comparatively worthy the second EP half turns out by comparison. It ain’t perfect by far, but it’s quite listenable, where the earlier tracks are…aimless? Boring? Utterly pointless?

You pick your superlative from the above.

Check out 3/4 of the last four tracks and see if they work for you or not…just be warned about the rest, which won’t.

Crypt Dagger – From Below (March 27)

Did someone say crust punk and USBM? Better…did someone mention Submit To Genocide?

Yep, that’s what this is, German blackened crust punk with Tom G. Warrior-style vocals that comes off a hell of a lot like Ebz and company making love to Warhammer, but sprinkled with the copiuous sputum of Aura Noir. All it needs is a cover of “live to fuck…fuck to live” to make it complete.

As you’d expect, this is pretty low rent, crass, obnoxious, abrasive musically and lyrically…you know, all the good stuff you expect from bands playing in this ballpark and melange of styles. What, you mean Midnight and Shitfucker aren’t necessarily fit for discussion in “polite society” circles?

Close enough to Warhammer and Genocide to work for me.

Schizophrenia – Voices MC (January 31)

Holy shit, that’s some pissed off, crunchy high speed riff…and that galloping double bass footwork!

Yeah, I’m talking about album closer “beyond reality” here, but you could just as easily apply it to opener “structure of death”, whose blazing early Sepultura riffing turns very Bay Area in short order.

There’s a decidedly Exodus crunch to the guitar tone when they slow things down to a fast march tempo, which in slightly speedier moments evokes early Testament, Heathen and Forbidden, but with the sheer aggression of Don Doty-era Dark Angel to boot. Leads are sloppy but fit, in the same way Slayer, Kreator and Celtic Frost’s effective noise as guitar solo approach always did.

Vox are the only real letdown here, as they’re a bit too screechy/vomit happy to work for the retro sound they’re otherwise reaching for.

Should have stuck to the deeper death growls or cleaned things up a bit for at least a Brazilian blackthrash vibe…but it’s hardly Morbid Saint or even Demolition Hammer we’re talking about here. It’s not right, and takes away from an otherwise very retro ’85-87 thrash feel, but you can certainly tolerate ’em.

This is about the closest thing I’ve run across to the sort of mostly underground thrash I was digging ever deeper into back in the day, when nearly everything out there was worth checking out and in fact remains in rotation, if not utter veneration by younger generations of metalheads to this day.

Very, very good, and surprisingly close to the real thing.

Bütcher – 666 Goats Carry My Chariot MC (January 31)

Belgian speed metal act. “Iron bitch” draws equally from bigger names like Accept, Exciter and Rage and more obscure ones like Iron Angel, while coming off with that very special awkwardness endemic to all the big names in Teutonic (black) thrash.

If anything, they sound like close kin (hell, blood brothers, even) to Colombia’s excellent and similarly retro minded Witchtrap…just with Ron Keel or Exciter’s Dan Beehler on vocals.

Sadly, they can’t keep this facade of vintage greatness up for long, this traditional metal meets speed/German thrash thing only lasting through “45 RPM” and “metallstrom face the butcher” before giving way to an awkward, atonally inclined blackened thing on “sentinels of dethe”, “viking funeral” and “brazen serpent”. The remaining three tracks are brief acoustic throwaways.

Well, if they could decide who they wanted to be, that’d help tremendously…

Seriously. I was enjoying “iron bitch” just as much as Schizophrenia, if not moreso…and the following pair of tracks didn’t exactly break the spell. But then out of nowhere, they’re what, a half assed black metal band? No, wait, they switched back to the old school speed/thrash…sorta. Oops, hold up, there it is again…what the fuck?

Yeah, that’s not a good spread: three tracks where they get it right and hit the sweet spot, three where they crash and burn before even getting out of the gate and three pointless intros.

1/3 of this is salvagable (ok, actually quite good, but still. Just three fucking tracks).

The rest is pure shit.

Warlust – Unearthing Shattered Philosophies

Oddly melodeathlike take on what would otherwise be a rather workaday to boring and overly black metallish variant of South American blackthrash.

But while it doesn’t feel quite “right” in terms of any of its trio of parentages, there’s certainly an odd bombast to the material, a winning dark melodicism that elevates the band above its own shortcomings, as it were.

The tracks that stand out most here are “in the shadow of the alchemyst” and “the burning eyes of satan”, but even opening instrumental “death created time” and its direct antecedent “I spit on your grave” have their moments.

There’s a further death metallish feel to the tremelo riffing and some grinding chord progressions in certain tracks, so to describe this one is almost moot, and leaves this album sounding like far more of a mess than it actually proves to be – whatever it is, genrewise, it’s internally cohesive and once you can get inside the proper headspace, it works well enough.

A sleeper, to be sure…leaves more questions than it answers, but certainly piques both curiosity and interest thereby.

Sandstorm – Time to Strike

Vancouver, Canada delivers yet another power trio, this time falling somewhere
between blowsy 70’s rockers like Triumph, the cheesiest and most
snoozeworthy excesses of NWOBHM and the goofiest stretch inclusions on
some Rain Man type’s vintage US power metal playlist (you know the ones,
where they list bands and albums, then say “I haven’t actually heard or seen
this one yet, but someone said it should be here…”).

In case that doesn’t tip you off, this one’s all about the cheese and inadvertent comic relief, with just enough credibility to the solos, riffs and high pitched harmony vocals to keep their sheer Darkness-ness subtle.

You won’t catch these guys belting out “dinner lady arms”, but you’ll find
yourself wishing they would.

Silly shit. Unless you’re looking for a laugh or really dig that late 70’s/dawn of
the 80’s almost but not quite metallic hard rock stuff like Aldo Nova or Loverboy
(or for that matter, Triumph), stick with just about any other album reviewed here instead.

Zatyr – Ornament of Proposition (May 22)

Something about these guys reminds me of that goofy Aussie band Oz,
particularly on closer “I hear her calling”.

Other tracks fare a bit better, with “fire prophecy” almost feeling credible in a
vintage USPM sense until the frontman starts belching some pretty sorry
faux-death metal vox just before the (rather nice) dual harmony lead solo.

Same can be said for “forbidden rites” which marries old school speed metal
ala Rage or Warrant (the German band, not Jani Lane’s glam outfit) with the
aforementioned winning multi-guitar bridges and likeable solos.

Unfortunately, they try to ape Accept on “heart and vision”, which once
again just doesn’t work, particularly with those damn silly vocals. When he’s
just playing it overly thick toned and raspy, the guy’s passable enough (if, as
noted, more akin to something like Oz than your standard metal frontman)…but
when he decides to get all “scary” and growl, it’s patently ridiculous.

Bottom line, interesting band, they just need to rein that in a little, maybe beef
up some of the songs a bit with more riffs and changes to stave off the yawns a bit.

Don’t let all that fool ya, two out of four songs here were actually pretty damn
decent, and there’s no question you’ll love those solos.

Hexenbrett – Zweite Beschwörung: Ein Kind zu töten (May 22)

Okay, my experience kicked off with “the spider song”. Gravelandesque vocal
choir chanting (as sampled through keyboard) over Eastern European martial
music…a very pagan feel, drumbeats of war coming over the horizon.

Then opener “attraverso sette porte all’inferno” kicks in, and we’re in Samhain
territory…or is that Possessed? Those weird Casio sampled bells, the
chanting, the screams, the moaning that bursts into sudden blasts of blackened speed…bizarre, but hits a very dark spot.

“Blutige seide” comes off quite Tormentor…then unfortunately some sort of
lassitude or lack of inspiration sets in for several tracks. It takes more than
four tracks before they regain some sort of footing, for “les requiem des
vampires”, and bang, it’s all over.

Well, in case you hadn’t noticed from the titles (and “la tumba de los muertos
viventes”, which went unmentioned since it sucked), this German duo pulls a lot more from Eurohorror (Fulci, De Ossorio and Rollin at the very least) than any
deeper draw towards black metal or the eerie first wave feel of bands like
Cultes des Ghoules, Masters Hammer, Tormentor or Root. There’s some
sonic resemblance, to be sure (at times quite pointed, in fact), but the spirit is
more…surface imagery over substance, shall we say.

Either way, it’s weird and brings some likeable nightmare imagery to its
credit…your call whether its three or four remarkably odd and strangely likeable
tracks justify an entire 9 track album or no.

Tøronto – Under Siege MLP (May 22)

Okay, this is a Swedish act who go by the name of Toronto.

(facepalm)

Anyway! They have a song on here called “ride the rails”, which should please
any literal yardbirds and fans of Boxcar Willie out there. Does anyone actually
bum their way across country hiding in train freight cars anymore?

This is more of that quirky, thin toned sound of bands like Iron Dogs and Ice
Age, where there’s a bit of punk, a dash of Motorhead and a jigger of old
school blackthrash ala Bathory and Venom informing whatever NWOBHM or
speed metal influences they claim to be trying to revive. I could see Joel Grind
working under a pseudo here, if that helps you form an idea of what this actually comes off as.

Again, this is more “speed” than USBM, but all this stuff seems very much of a
piece, and Third Eye regulars know that means we’re gonna give ’em some
degree of love.

It works well enough for the type, no question.