SEWERS OF MARS #3

Music Features
SEWERS OF MARS #3
By
Aug 16, 2007, 01:16

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Que pasa!

Sorry. I've been in San Francisco for well over a month and guess I've just started picking up the language. I've also been accumulating music at an alarming rate, so lots to discuss this month, especially in metal. Let's get to it.

Even with a mighty haul of new stuff to check out, I think I've listened to this SERPENT THRONE album Ride Satan Ride (self-released), a “soundtrack” to a nonexistent film, about twenty times since it was delivered to my door. The band features at least one member of the recently disbanded Otesanek (which, you may as well know, was the finest doom metal band Philadelphia has ever produced), but Serpent Throne is an entirely different animal, opting instead to play skuzzy,

greased up biker rock that owes a serious debt to proto metal loonies like Master's Apprentices despite the obligatory Sabbath Bloody Sabbath fixation. The band is largely instrumental—I say largely because there is rumored to be some backwards masking / hidden messages that are audible at high volumes—but the album maintains its righteous pace right to the end with no drag, no lag. Lock up your daughters!

MONARCH! is a Parisian metal band that expertly fuses elements of funeral doom and dinosaur drone on their latest double disc Dead Men Tell No Tales (Crucial Blast). Don't be put off by the cutesy art and even cutesier female singer (she calls herself “Eurogirl” and looks more Exene than Otep)—this is some heavy, bone shaking stuff. I really dug their split

7” with Moss (a cover of Turbonegro's "I Got Erection,” of all things) but this latest sprawling full length (5 songs spread over two CDs) has been in constant rotation since I first laid ears on it. Hide the razorblades.

Also on the metal front, the latest from our boys SLOUGH FEG (they dropped the Lord Weird from their name a ways back) is their best yet. Hardworlder continues the band's quest to make the ultimate progressive power metal album, and this one is more melodic and song oriented, dispensing largely with the 'recurring musical themes' gimmick of previous albums and going straight for the jugular, resulting in the most tuneful and aggressive album to emerge from the fertile brain of frontman Mike Scalzi since Hammers of Misfortune's The Bastard. File under: chaotic evil. (And don't pretend you don't

know what I'm talking about, Dungeonmaster).

Less impressive, GLORIOR BELLI is a fairly innocuous black metal band from France who certainly have the style down on their US debut Manifesting The Raging Beast (Southern Lord). Problem is, the cookie monster vocals detract from the melodic buzzsaw guitars and, on the whole, the album isn't breaking any ground and remains serviceable but generic even on third listen.

Speaking of Southern Lord, SUNN0)))'s latest EP, Oracle, certainly ranks two horns high around these parts. This brief EP, composed as a collaboration with sculptor Banks Violette, features Joe Preston (on jackhammer, no less!) and some of Attila Csihar's finest vocal incantations in years. Still, it's hard not to wonder if Anderson and O'Malley aren't phoning it in a bit at this point—an observation, to be fair, likely emboldened by the lack of the accompanying visual that supposedly inspired this whole shebang. Not to mention, pretentious “collaborations” with sculptors and shit is how Black Dice went wrong, remember, dudes? Just a friendly warning. On the whole, though, good stuff here.

VELVET CACOON, a group of misfits from Oregon of all places, almost made the Sewers of Mars highly coveted 'best of

the month' honors this month with their two simultaneously released and gorgeously packaged (180 gram vinyl with covers printed on velvet!) double LPs, each a reissue of an out of print CD version. Definitely one of my favorite bands at the moment, the self-mythologizing posse of drugged ‘eco-fascists' and their loyal drum machine cover as much ground as Forgotten Woods and, like many great black metal weirdoes before them, raise more questions than answers. Naturally, there is much controversy around the group (which may actually be one guy). Recently, the band actually copped to outright plagiarism, publicly admitting that they've released demos under their name that contain the music and art of entirely different bands, most of whom were not in on the joke, as it were. Best of all, these admissions came without the slightest hint of remorse or embarrassment. You can't make this stuff up. Still, both Genevieve and Northsuite (both on Full Moon Productions) will satisfy any desire you may have to hear the most destroyed, unholy, blown out black drone metal

in the world right now. I don't care who is making this racket, I'm drinking the Kool Aid. This shit rules.

Wrapping up the metal this month, Tim Green's latest album under the CONCENTRICK moniker is called Aluminum Lake (Drag City) and, unlike previous releases, most which were studies in texture and drone, this one varies only slightly from his inimitable high-flying fretwork stylings in The Fucking Champs, and features some nice folky acoustic passages. Varying between warm hum drones and more 'metal' moments, Aluminum Lake is a welcome addition to a growing discography that rarely fails to impress.

Also on the great Drag City label is the latest from THE HOWLING HEX, appropriately titled XI. Neil Michael Hagerty's ability to keep us guessing while keeping us glued to our seats continues with this new one, on which his quest for an entirely democratic musical situation is finally realized. Here, all five members of the ‘Hex contribute songs and vocals for the first time. The Hag himself is only credited with authoring a third of the album, and sticks to playing bass (relax—it does have six strings!) and only occasionally sings lead, and while his excellent guitar work is missed, the relative breadth and dynamic range of the new and improved unit is astounding. The Hag's insistence on following his muse, even if it leads him to fretless basses and spoken word parts, makes him a true artist in the classic model, and makes XI one of 2007's best albums. Clear a path!

Finally got around to checking out this new ENTRANCE album after hearing many good reports. I was .

a fan of main Entrance dude Guy Blakeslee's previous band The Convocation Of…, but his straight loner folk-oriented stuff rubbed me the wrong way. But fuck! Prayer of Death (Tee Pee) is a perfect mishmash of psychedelic garage and creepy blues, like Jeffrey Lee Pierce jamming with The New Tweedy Bros. Featuring collaborations with Paz Lenchantin, who's haunted violin only adds to the seriously damaged vibe, Prayer of Death is one of the nicest surprises I've had in a long while. It also features one of the most riveting opening tracks in recent memory.

I'm also way into this new PISSED JEANS album, Hope For Men (Sub Pop). I hate parroting press kits, but fuck if this shit

doesn't sound a LOT like side 2 of My War. But Pissed Jeans' possess an uncanny ability to sound unique, even while treading a path well worn by many bands before them (pretty much the entire AmRep roster). Great cover art, too.

A Circle Jerks cover is one of the easiest ways a band can find itself on the fast track to my heart, but even without the kickass rendition of that band's “Operation” on their new album What's For Dinner (In The Red), THE KING KHAN AND BBQ SHOW have me in their pocket. The sound of the band is garage-y but with plenty of honest-to-goodness street corner soul and R-rated boogie woogie. Moving effortlessly from sad hooligan laments to Germs-like ferocity, the band almost resembles a punk rock NRBQ. And if you like what you hear, BBQ's album under his birth name MARK SULTAN , titled

The Sultanic Verses (also on In The Red) is at least as good, if a tad shinier in the production department.

Also on the garage tip, the latest from GORE GORE GIRLS, Get The Gore, (their first album for Bloodshot) has a bunch of excellent tunes worth your attention. The cover of The Poppy Family's “Where Evil Grows” is a good choice and a nice touch, and executed well enough. Even better is the raunchy Girls in the Garage-style romp that is “All Grown Up,” which features handclaps and ‘independent woman' lyrics of the “You Don't Own Me” stripe over a sweet blues progression.

The Sewers of Mars Record Of The Month Award goes to SIC ALPS, one of the best new bands I've heard in a long time. Caught 'em live with PINK REASON a few weeks back and watched awestruck

for the entire set as the two dudes thrashed and bashed out a most primal relapse 'n' roll—think Billy Childish's entire discography screwed and chopped and then blasted all at once through an old Fender Twin. I snatched up their recent 7” on Skulltones and can say without question that it does not disappoint, even coming on the heels of such a killer gig. They also have two previous LP releases, also

worth checking out. Snatch these up now before Sub Pop or Matador sign 'em and your girlfriend is waiting in line at Amoeba for Sic Alps frontman Mike Donovan's autograph. And just where do you think he'll sign that autograph? Think about it, partner.

Next month, I'll try to report on a pair of new TODAY IS THE DAY DVDs, serve up a nepotistic (but wholly sincere) lecture on the mindfuck that is the new MAGIK MARKERS disc on Ecstatic Peace!, try to convince you all how great the new album by MOTHER HIPS is, and read some of your mail. Actually, fuck your mail.

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