30 April 2016

Rob Zombie - The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser

One could be forgiven that both the artwork for this album as well as the album title itself are excessive. But no, it's Rob Zombie's thing. Kitsch psychedelic imagery and crazy song titles are something that are quite prominent in his musical output. It was prominent in his band White Zombie, so it's something he's got form on. The song titles are equally as crazy, something we'll see in a minute.

This is the sixth solo album of his career, something I found as a surprise as I thought he was concentrating on his film career. I know we're all about the music on here, but as I'm sure you're aware, RZ has a few films under his belt too. My views on these are NOT reflective of the other contributors to the blog, and whilst I can appreciate they make a lot of people happy, I always felt that aside from The Devil's Rejects and Lords Of Salem, I did NOT enjoy his other films at all. In fact, I would have walked out of Halloween 2 if the ticket hadn't cost £8. It seemed to me that despite aiming for the "so bad it's great" vibe of 70's movies (most notably those of an exploitation horror variety), they were still too glossy and shiny for that. Watered down for the mall-kids generation. A bit like the solo career, in a way. Mind, I've only heard the first two solo albums (Hellbilly Deluxe and The Sinister Urge respectively) so for all I know things may have changed but songs like "Foxy Foxy" and "Sick Bubblegum" didn't exactly fill me with confidence! The whole thing seemed to confirm my suspicions that whilst he was in White Zombie, the others were able to keep his worst excesses in check and that since then, he hasn't had the restraint he needs or even the band with the talent to make great music. Going solo has put a crimper on that and there is now a lack  of quality control. Plus, landing two top albums (La Sexorcisto and Astrocreep 2000 respectively) at the exact right time didn't harm either. Like I said, it's a view that DOES NOT represent the blog as a whole and I may be more wrong than when I gave Slayer - Repentless a 7. But anyway, let's have a listen.

Turns out that RZ solo band now comprises of former Marilyn Manson members Ginger Fish and John 5. So we've got the ingredients of a decent band so far. Lets hope they can do some good things.

1) The Last Of The Demons Defeated - Album opener which sounds ok. Mid-paced and heavy which is nice. Talk of "electrice war, acid witch" Sounds like something to open the live show with.

2) Satanic Cyanide! The Killer Rocks On! - A bit slower with acoustic interludes amid the electric stuff. Is this a new direction for RZ? It used to be a case of doing stuff that was a bit faster than this, I guess RZ fancied a change.

3) The Life And Times Of A Teenage Rock God - Quite percussion driven with some chugging riffs amid a creepy sample proclaiming "it's really magic". A bit plodding, but not too bad. Nice guitar fill midway through which reminds me of Iron Maiden. Then things break down towards the end with sounds of a live show before resuming norrmal service.

4) Well, Everybody's Fucking In A UFO - Seriously? Crap song title aside, this song starts off promising enough. Pulsating bass-line whilst RZ rants off over the top of it. Thumping chorus though. This song reminds me of Primus, particularly for the verse structure. It's not a bad song but isn't quite as gonzo as it promises.

5) A Hearse That Overturns With The Coffin Bursting Open - Acoustic interlue which is ok. Doesn't really go on for too long.

6) The Hideous Exhibitions Of A Dedicated Gore Whore - A mid-paced rocker chock-full of samples, synths and decent riffs. But despite all this, it doesn't land nearly as much as it should. Shame, as the intent is there.

7) Medication For The Melancholy -  John Carpenter-inspired synth line opening leads into the kind of rocking number the last song wishes it was. The synths on this are quite good and lead to an already mentioned John Carpenter feel, albeit with more bells and whistles. I like this one.

8) In The Age Of The Consecrated Vampire We All Get High - Synth and crashing chords open the song before we get something which brings to mind early Fear Factory! It's rather good. Things get a bit slow for the mid-section but normal service is soon resumed. It's not too bad.

9) Super-Doom-Hex-Gloom Part One - Synth heavy to the max! It's something that probably would have sounded better as an album opener. Reminds me of video game music.

10) In The Bone Pile - Heavy stomper with surprising restrained song title. It's not too bad, but could have done with more work to make it more special.

11) Get Your Boots On! It's The End Of Rock And Roll - Another one of those glam rock-inspired stompers that RZ concocts from time to time. Not too bad. Which seems to be a recurring theme here...

12) Wurdalak - Slow, doomy thing. Almost at a crawl. Nice piano section at the end.

And there we go, another album put to bed. Now I liked the way that new things were tried on this album and that it wasn't the watered-down groove-metal for mall-rat kids of the past. That was fine. There are some great songs on here. However, despite the best efforts of the band involved, there wasn't really anything on here that would pull me back in for another listen. I'll be over in the corner with a copy of Astrocreep 2000.

7 - This is good and well worth a check.

Top Track: Medication For The Melancholy.

Chris J.

This album is on iTunes.

Official Website

(WARNING: Contains Sherri Moon Zombie trying to act)

29 April 2016

Discharge - End Of Days

Yay, Discharge are back with a  new album! Time to get some proper punk going again, instead of that day-glo shit from across the pond, the type of stuff that invariably ends up on the soundtracks of teen 'gross out' comedies that try and emulate the likes of  Animal House, Porky's and Revenge Of The Nerds but fails. Proper punk should not have songs about dick jokes.

Discharge were formed in Stoke-On-Trent, UK in 1977. Influenced by the likes of The Sex Pistols,  they played a few gigs before ending up creating a new sound which was far removed from the punk sounds of the time. Yes, The Sex Pistols had an abrasive sound and were all about the filth and the fury, but it wasn't too far removed from old-type rock 'n' roll (besides, they were also nothing more than a gimmick so Malcolm McLaren could promote his clothes shop - called 'Sex' - as well as make a bit of money from the music industry but that's a story for another time). Discharge were different - they'd go on to create a whole subgenre of punk called 'D-Beat' which was based around a distinctive drum pattern as well as three-chord progessions in the songs. Melody was extremely scarce. Vocals were more along the lines of shouting slogans as opposed to actual song lyrical structures. Whilst it's said that Discharge may have got the basic elements of D-Beat from other bands- most notably Motorhead, they inspired others to do it, hence the slew of "Dis-" bands all across the globe who follow this blueprint right down to the minimalist, black and white cover art too. There are too many to list right here, but go look them up. I first heard Discharge at the age of 20 when I picked up a double-CD of their most well known tracks. The second disc only got played the once as it was material from their shit period when they decided to go glam and heavy metal. The first disc had their early stuff which got a few spins. Then I picked up a copy of 'Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing' and that was it, I was a convert from that moment on. So much so that most of the songs I wrote for the band I was in at the time would follow the D-Beat format! The blog creator - Eddie Carter - will no doubt testify to that as he was the vocalist for said band. Anyhow, let's see if this album is any good. First impressions are that it's back to the aesthetic of the early stuff, even down to the inlay which is all black and white and minimalist. Looks like they've totally ignored the shit phase when they went glam...whilst there is nothing wrong with glam, it is NOT a genre that Discharge suited. The closest modern comparison I can think of is when Machine Head dropped the groove-metal in favour of nu-metal. Totally abandoning everything that made them great so they can pander to a genre that's in trend at that time.

1) New World Order - An intro that gives me itchy feet before breaking into something that's likely to get an awesome circle-pit going. Vocals are handled by Jeff Janiak who is admirable. Shame Cal isn't here but I guess we've all got to move on at some point. Canny song but something feels slightly amiss...

2) Raped And  Pillaged - I think I've worked out what it is. The production. It's meticulous but I kind of miss the old-school production where it sounded harsh as fuck. It's like that's what Discharge are best for. Still, this song is another good pit song.

3) End Of Days - Get in, they've got a sample of the guy who used to read those "Protect And Survive" public service ads from the early 80's. To the uninitiated, there was a big risk of nuclear war during the early 80's so the government released pamphlets and ads (Protect And Survive) which gave tips on how to survive a nuclear war. It was all a load of bollocks but it kept the public sane, I guess. As for the song, it's fucking great! More prime D-Beat cuts!

4) The Broken Law - It's official. They're back. Music that sounds like a fucking war-zone. Great stuff. I'm bopping my head whilst listening to this and my three-year-old daughter is jumping on me like a stage-diver. Gonna have to put her to bed soon. But I'm giving this song another listen...

5) False Flag Entertainment - GO ON, SON!!! Quite an auspicious intro which steams into typical Discharge. IT'S FALSE FLAG ENTERTAINMENT!!! Headbanging like a motherfucker here. The band sound awesome so far, the best they've sounded in years.

6) Meet Your Maker - Pretty much the same as above. But it's all fuckin' gravy!!!

7) Hatebomb - Change of pace for this one. Not a frantic as the others but still heavy as fucking shit. JJ's vocals are reminding me of Lou Koller from Sick Of It All. Does this mean the band are paying attention to those they've influenced in the past? If so, then long may they continue to use what they hear as part of their arsenal.

8) It Can't Happen Here - Another prime slice of what Discharge do best. Another ripper of a track. Frantic as fuck and extremely heavy. It's exactly what you'd want from Discharge.

9) Infected - We've got a slightly mid-paced number here which sounds excellent. Probably get a bit of stomping done whilst in the pit. Some formidable drumming by Dave (that's who it says it is in the booklet). The guitar-work has been great as well, provided by the legend that is Bones.

10) Killing Yourself To Live - A great riff opens the song up before we go into a chugging rhythm. Hey, it doesn't always have to be hyper-fast all of the time. Another great song, seems we've got a strong contender for album of the year already.

11) Looking At Pictures Of Genocide - Fucking hell, another good one! It's very rare that an album has such a coherent run of quality songs but we've got it right here.

12) Hung, Drawn And Quartered - I'm running out of things to say except that this is another great song which follows the Discharge blueprint excellently.

13) Population Control - Another awesome blaster with creepy samples about the bankers controlling all the money. So at least they're keeping up with current events. Governments are still shady but the threat of nuclear war is at a minimum. Well, it's kind of still there but not quite as ominous as the 80's. These days, it's more likely to be a uranium-enhanced bomb as opposed to warheads and shit.

14) The Terror Alert - More great D-Beat. JJ is on top form here and is a worthy vocalist for the band. One more song to go and then we'll have heard the best album from the band in a long time.

15) Accessories By  Molotov pt 2 - And what better way to end an album by just tearing shit up in your usual style? This fucking goes for it from the off, just as you'd expect. Quite frankly, a fitting way to finish up the album.

Apologies for the short blog and short synopsis of each track, but for this one, there was no way to explain it beyond the terms I've used. Discharge are not a band whose songs are going to be left-field with many intricate layers and complex melodies and complex time changers. You're going to get some straight-up fucking hardcore punk that sounds like the apocalypse. As mentioned, the way punk SHOULD be played, none of this day-glo bollocks. The production worked out well after all, totally suiting the band's style. Despite there being the awesome D-Beat sound, it appears that a slightly metallic sound has entered the mix too, so that's also good. I cannot think of a bad thing to say about this album, other than it's very limited in variety but that's no surprise given the blueprint it follows. It might not be for everyone but anyone who likes their punk short, fast, to the point and actually having something to say would like it.

10 - This is proof there is a God.

Top Track: False Flag Entertainment.

Chris J.

This album is available on iTunes.

The band's page on Facebook

27 April 2016

State of the Blog Address - Message from the Editor - On vacation

Hiya dear reader.

Message from Eddie here - I am sort of burnt out I think. 

I love this blog; it is something that has introduced me to some awesome bands, got me into trouble a few times, helped me connect with people who I would never have even met, it has taken a life of its own and it has also took up a lot of my time (which I do not get paid for, same as the rest of the team) and been a constant in my life - even on lunch breaks and travelling I have been listening to albums for the blog and not for the simple pleasure of a new piece of music of a familiar work that is tugging at my heart strings to be heard again 

However, my life outside of the blog has been changing - I have a new job which I am still adjusting to, I have the wonderful Helen who is a long suffering blog widow at times (as well as a contributor on here as well) and she sometimes needs someone who is not always on a laptop, listening to Latvian prog-metal so I need a bit of a vacation from the blog.  I need to be able to listen to an album for the joy of it, without having to give it a number just for a little bit to refresh the batteries.

I am sure the other guys will still put stuff up as the blog is not going anywhere to be honest, but it will be a while till my next post.

Till then, may your deity guide you to safer shores.


PS -  

Here is my current list of albums that are being played for fun: 

Moonbabies - Wizards on the Beach (a favourite from one the bands who have gotten in touch on this blog)
Boy Jumps Ship - Wake Up
Mantar - Ode to the Flame
Lush - Split
PJ Harvey - The Hope Six Demolition Project
Fugazi - 13 Songs
The Smashing Pumpkins - Adore
Driven Serious - Ballad of Bones EP
James - Girl At The End of The World
Backwards Runners - Another Day, Another Dream
Prince - Sign O' The Times (Goodbye, you crazy genius)
Frank Zappa - Studio Tan
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Dig, Lazarus Dig!!!
Tellison - Hope Fading Nightly

PS - Here is a photo of me with Ochie.....

17 April 2016

Mulholland - North Country

Seems that some people are reading the blog - thank you one and all.  After I posted my review of 'Ballad of Bones' EP by Driven Serious (cleverly linked here), Mulholland got in touch.  Now I know both of these band are going to be playing the Folkish Explosion gig in Newcastle upon Tyne on May 7th 2016 (link to the Facebook page for the gig here), so I guess there was a natural reason for them getting in touch.  But enough about promoting a gig I am not involved in and such things, time to look at Mulholland themselves.  Mulholland are a husband/wife duo Stan Smith and Ann Dunford who are based in York, Yorkshire, UK; this is their debut album which was released on Good Friday, 2016.  It is an album which the band state has been influenced by the Byrds, Bob Dylan, Laurel Canyon and Jason Isbell, with the album being the result of six months of work with Vinnie Whitehead (of Vinnie & The Stars).  It is a while since I have reviewed an album from this genre, but I am curious as to how it will sound - time to find out what 'North Country' sounds like......

The album starts with "Cold Wind" which is a gentle ode to wanderlust that is not satisfied due to staying in one location which is close to the heart, it is a gentle nature at its heart as it plucks at your heartstrings as well as your soul.  The playing is expertly crafted and it is a subtle opening to the album, it does not explode to life straight away but it does not start off sluggish or boring - it is a good opening for the alternative country album.  The second song on this album is called "Black Feathers" which reminds me of a band called the Red Letters, it is another gentle number that focuses on the story with the instruments keeping the song going, but in the background and not intrusive at all.  Whilst it might seem a little too quit, it speaks more with a little than some bands do with a thousand notes.  "My Wasted Heart" is a travelling love song, there is a journey at the centre of this song (be it emotional or physical) as the music moves with the spirit of freedom that is the wish of most people.  It is the first song that has percussion on the album, a gentle pattern which gets the foot tapping and the sound of the banjo drifts over the audience, it is a song that talks about the journey and the yearning to reach a loved one (and by default, home).  It is a beautiful number; it has a homely feeling that thrives in this sort of music, making the audience feel at ease and making them feel like they are on the journey as well.  The halfway point is marked with “So Sorry Blues (Revisited)”, this song reminds me a bit of Bob Dylan from the beginning with a hint of “Like A Rolling Stone” to the music.  This tale of a poisoned relationship is another number that is very gentle on the ears and soul, it is an easy song to like and I also feel it might be one that drifts past people as well.  For me, it is a decent number but not the strongest song from the band on this album.

“Shifting Sands” kicks off the second half of this album with a tune about living on the coast and missing a loved one.  It is a song that has been done so many times before hand, it will be done a thousand times more and a few more times after we have left this mortal plain.  I like this song, despite it not being to my usual taste; I think it is due to the fact that it is such a simple and beautiful piece of music that it shines like a star on a dark night.  “Summertime” is a song about that time of year when the days are warm, everything is brighter and the world seems so good.  But the summertime is also a place in your heart, that is shared with a loved one and that emotional attachment can make the sun appear.  It is a good song with a lovely feeling on home, but it also feels like it needs a little bit more to some parts of the song to these ears.  However, that is just a personal taste and does not take away from this song and the beautiful sentiment behind the lyrics.  The penultimate song of the album is called “Don’t Let Us Get Sick” which is not on any of the streaming services for some reason, it is a number that deals with the frailty of the world, enjoying the company you are with and hoping that things will change.  It is a fine song, one of the best in my opinion as it warms the heart with the music that speaks through the ages.  I cannot help but enjoy it, with that subtle playing and feeling that you are home.  What is there not to like with this song?  Ending the album is “Highway 101”, which bring the album to a stomping end with this song about travelling the opening roads.  It is a great song for me, it sounds like the party is just being and not comes to a finish.  It is my favourite song of the record and end it on such a high point.

Mulholland have created a subtle album, a gentle work that is as gentle as a breeze and as welcome as the warmth when you come out of the cold.  It wears its influences on its sleeve, but there is something more going on here and the talent shines through.  It might only be eight songs long, but it is the right length to me; there are a few moments that I would have personally tweaked, but I am not the musician here and for what it is worth – I reckon this is a very good release which should do well for fans of country and alternative folk.

7.5 out of ten
This is good and worth checking out.

Top track
Highway 101

You can purchase North Country on Amazon here.

You can visit the Mulholland website here (you can also purchase the album on this website as well).

You can follow the activities of Mulholland on Facebook here.

You can stream North Country (minus "Don't Let Us Get Sick") on Spotify here.

You can stream North Country (minus "Don't Let Us Get Sick") on Deezer here.

You can stream North Country (minus "Don't Let Us Get Sick") on Tidal here.

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