Thursday, November 18, 2010

Burnt Offering (1989) - record review

Burnt Offering were a thrash band hailing from Rivergrove, Illionois (where ever the fuck that is) that played an awesome brand of really raw, violent, in your face death/thrash that I used to enjoy quite a bit back in the day. I remember when I got this record in the discount bin at a used record store/head shop in Beaverton, Oregon when I was 14 or so (the very same Valhalla of vinyl discount bins that introduced me to Death's "Scream Bloody Gore", Vicious Rumors "Soldiers Of The Night" and Lizzy Borden's "Love You To Pieces"), I was standing there with it in my hand being wishy washy about getting it or not (I mowed a lot of lawns for my cash back then, so even spending a couple bucks on a used record was a decision not to be taken lightly), but my friend I was with started reading the lyrics sheet aloud and quickly convinced me that I needed it in my collection.

Besides the dramatic in store reading of the poetic lyrics, the other main reason I decided that my 3$ would go to Burnt Offering instead of the new issue of Predator or maybe an Iron Maiden patch, was because of the knock off Giger/alien's mouth artwork... the album cover, featuring a slavering, ready to bite your face off alien made it a purchase very hard to pass up, so I figured, why fight it? Sure, never having heard an album and blindly buying it based on awesome artwork had bit me in the ass before (that Uriah Heap album with the red devil on the cover comes to mind), but it had also paid off more times than not (Tankard, Laaz Rockit, Lawnmower Deth, etc), so I decided to error on the side of awesome metal band cover art... and when I arrived home, I was totally rewarded for my gamble when I threw it on my piece of shit turntable to find that not only does Burnt Offering have a totally sweet album cover, but their tunes fucking kicked my ass! Once again proving that it's almost always a safe bet to judge a book by it's cover!

So maybe you haven't heard of Burnt Offering before... here's the down low. Burnt Offering play a really out of control, raw, aggressive style of thrash that teeters into my beloved "death thrash" genre, not because they have blast beats or low vocals, but mainly just because of the really raw production, stormingly evil sounding riffage and the furious sound of the fast beats on ragers like "Snow Death" and "Beware The Axe". Lead vocalist Hal Shore delivers some really cool almost hard core style shouted vocals that flow into a weird sort of growl that has an early Autopsy vibe at times, and he uses catchy, pissed off hard core style vocal patterns that bring to mind crossover favs like Cryptic Slaughter and DRI (two bands I completely worshiped back then, so anything that even remotely sounded like that was right up my alley). The riffing is top notch, as long as you consider top notch to be classic B list style thrash (and I know you do!), complete with mean as fuck mosh parts, burly fast old Slayer style fast parts that teeters into almost Repulsion/Wehrmacht territory at times, aggro whirlwind leads, and an overall vibe that just screams early death metal to me. I know up front you might complain "generic thrash", but I think if you listen a little closer, you'll hear this vibe to some of the mid paced parts that's more in line with early Carcass or Autopy in the sort of evil melodies going on that separate what these guys had happening on their record from a lot of other lower tier thrash bands.

On top of all that, Burnt Offering delivers these neat, straight forward song structures and sing along chorus parts that make it just a flat out fun as fuck record to listen to. Give it a listen and I think you'll see why I used to play this LP all the time... the songs are fucking catchy as all get out and set up for constant headbanging. Again, this record was a fav of mine when I was a kid, so it might sound a bit different to me than if you are hearing it today for the first time, but I have a really hard time not constantly banging my head through the whole damn thing. It's like it was engineered to be the perfect, one tempo headbanging album... almost like the songs were recorded using a headbanging click track to set the drums to. (Note to self - create a headbanging click track for future recording projects).

Well, this is where the review takes a somber turn. If you have any young children reading this, you may want to make them leave the room now. Rewind with me back to 1989 or 1990, late evening on some random week night. Minding my own business, heading home, probably listening to some Anthrax on my yellow waterproof walkman when suddenly I ate some SERIOUS shit on my skateboard. I was going down that big hill behind 7-11 on 185th by the swimming pool (you know the one, right?), on my way back from getting a coke and playing some Double Dragon or Cal .50 and buying Rip Magazine, when a rock or something locked in my trucks and sent me rolling off my skateboard at top speed down the rest of the hill.

You can imagine my horror when I realized that my Burnt Offering LP (which, for some reason I can't remember at all was in my backpack) took the brunt of the crash, cracking right down the left side. Not all the way in half, but a total split that made the record impossible to ever play again (I tried several times). Also destroyed that fateful night was this awesome record with a reading of HG Wells "Invisible Man" on it. Truly, one of the worst things that has happened to anyone, ever, in the history of mankind.

I suppose I could try to think that I took something away from the experience - learning a valuable lesson about skateboarding down hills in the dark with records in your backpack and carrying a giant Big Gulp - but couldn't the metal gods have taught me that lesson without taking my Burnt Offering LP from me? My skateboard was brand new too (that cool Valalley barnyard deck, the first skateboard I ever had with tails on both end) and I remember it shot off and went into all this gross, shitty mud on the side of the path that flooded out of this run off creek that smelled like Swamp Thing's butthole. Those two records absorbed the fall for me, and probably saved my life, but they were now ruined, and still to this day, I have not found replacement copies.

Anyways, I kept the Burnt Offering record for years after in spite of it being cracked down the middle, maybe secretly hoping metal elves would come in the middle of the night and magically fix the giant crack, but finally I gave up and threw it away in the mid 90s when I was moving into a new house. Even though I don't know anyone else who likes or ever talks about them, the record is pretty rare and goes for a good amount of money when you actually see it for sale, but someday I'll break down and buy a new copy (hard to pay a bunch of cash for something you got for 2.50 originally). Don't fret too much though, because thanks to the magic of file sharing, I attained a CDR of it again years later, and now we can all enjoy such headbanging B list thrash gems as "Black Blasphemy", "Leatherface" and "Kick Your Dirt". Burnt Offering... here's to you, wherever you are! Thanks for the deaththrash, fellas!

9 out of 10 fucking Oscars

(if you would like to hear Burnt Offering's self titled LP, check the comments section to download it)

now playing -
Watain - "Lawless Darkness" LP
Ozric Tentalces - "Become The Other"
Kublai Khan - "Annihilation"
Peter Gabriel - "Car" LP
The Accused - "Oh Martha" LP

Friday, November 12, 2010

Absu - "The Temples Of Offal" 7 inch (1992) - record review

I've never really like when people lump Absu in to the black metal genre. I have several reasons I could get into for that but I think the main one is because of the way I first heard the band - and that was in a fairly random trade back in the early 90s in which I received their first
7 inch, 1992's supremely evil platter of wax, entitled "The Temples Of Offal".

About as far from the modern day definition of "black metal" as you can get sound wise, this record has something that most of the thin, lightly strummed, poorly played crap that passes off for that genre now days totally lacks... evil! This record fucking drips it. From the bizarrely genius record title, to the grotesque cover art that looks like it could be an illustration right out of Ludwig Prin's De Vermis Mysteriis (why do I get the feeling that that evil church rising from the slime smells like Waterfront Park on a 90 degree summer day?) to the solid black, print free record stamp, to the malevolent and cryptic sounding song titles ("Immortal Sorcery", "Sumerian Sands (The Silence)" and "Disembodied"), and of course, the brilliantly evil songs themselves, this 7 incher is just 100% pure, scary, wicked, heavy metal evil.

When you throw this bad boy on (as I have over and over since first getting my copy many years ago), you immediately get smashed right in your face with the pure power of this thing - this is the record that church groups always suspected existed somewhere when they were burning up piles of W.A.S.P. and Twisted Sister LPs back in the 80s. Long before Absu started experimenting with strange, traditional folk instruments and bagpipes, before the heavy metal and thrash elements, before the high pitched King Diamond wails were added as exclamation points to their expertly put together genre hopping metal songs they make today, these guys blasted out some down tuned, 100% pure fucking heavy as hell, evil as all get out death metal, just the way I like it.

You know that style that the kids are all worked up about right now? Yeah, whatever the new band is this month with the red logo and the white art on the black background that those internet metal experts (19 year old, self proclaimed metal scholar schmoes who just got into non-radio music 2 years ago) are arguing about on some dumb message board? This makes whatever that is this week look like a flat out fucking joke. You want 'yer old tyme "bestial, traditional death metal"? This is the real thing freshcut, so listen up!

As there is no insert (maybe some people got one, I don't know, but my copy has no info at all other than the titles and the name of the label, which made it all the more mysterious and evil back when I first played it), I can't tell you who was doing vocal duties in the band at this time, but the second the blast beat starts and the "demon in the wind" low vocals kick in on side one's "Immortal Sorcery", with it's huge, warm old school analog metal sound, you know you're in for it. The riffs are like bulldozers, plowing through the songs with relentless strength, with that great, catchy heaviness that only old school death metal can give you, blasting through the tunes just to the perfect point, stopping exactly at the spot where the speed would turn to monotony (something a lot of bands just do not understand) before going into the slow, heavy, evil death/doom riffs that those kind of blast riffs just beg to be smacked up against.

Seriously, when the tunes on this record get to those avalanche slow riffs, it's like the listener has been smacked up against a wall. They just down shift like an 18 wheeler bearing down on a Hyundai, and steamroll you into the ground. How these slow crawl riffs mix with the relentless, almost mechanical drums just flattens me every time. That, combined with the vocals, which are some of the best "the mutant bear from Prophecy growling in it's cave" low dm bellows ever put on wax, those moments will destroy you, no ifs/ands/buts about it.

That's not all you get though. There's some great mid paced, double bass death metal riffing going on here too, particularly in the part before the solo on "Sumerian Sands", that are mosh riffs for the pits of hell. The opening part before the blast in "Disembodied" is the same way, the hook the drums and the guitars hit just locks in and smacks you around, pretty much forcing you to bang your head like an idiot (even if you're playing it on your computer speakers, 'ya goof). Oh yeah, did I mention there's a couple of great, spazztic, whirlwind old Slayer/Deicide sounding leads going on at a few points here too? Yup, don't worry, you get those as well. In fact, pretty much ALL the parts you want in a great death metal song are on here, perfectly and tastefully executed. Every time they break, the next section of the song is EXACTLY what you want to hear, pushing the heavy factor farther and farther into the red, as the riffs pile on top of each others momentum until you have a huge, teetering, festering... well, Temple Of Offal I guess...

Anyways, Absu is one of those bands who've tried a lot of different things over the years, and somehow, no matter what musical experiments they try, they still retain their band's sound and vibe and are able to keep that "Absu" feel, something most metal bands have a really hard time doing. Either repeating yourself over and over, or changing so much that what people liked about the band to begin with is lost is the downfall of many a band, but throughout their releases Absu has deftly avoided either of those traps. From 1997's uber-classic "3rd Storm Of Cytheral" to their magnum opus 2001's amazing masterpiece "Tara" to all points since, before and in between, in my book Absu has done no wrong. For me though, my worship of this amazing band all started here, with this super classic, evil as fuck slab of metal "The Temples Of Offal", one of my favorite 7 inches of all time. Grab a copy today and throw it on your turntable, crank the volume and get ready for straight up death metal hell!

(don't believe me? Check the comments section, download and hear "Sumerian Sands (The Silence)" for yourself. Just don't say I didn't warn ya')

10 out of 10 fucking Oscars

Oh side note, I was lucky enough to get to go watch Portland death metal band Weregoat rehearse their upcoming LP at their space last night, and if you do like old style death and black metal (think Repulsion, early Carcass, Tumult, Blasphemy, Bestial Warlust kind of vibe, right up my alley) do yourself a favor and pick up their LP when it comes out on Parasitic Records, and check them out for sure, it's fucking great stuff. Really stoked on their tunes, thanks for letting me watch fellas!)

now playing -
Avenger - "Minister Of Madness" LP
Goblin - "The Heroin Busters" soundtrack
Rigor Mortis - "Rigor Mortis" LP
Denounecment Pyre - "World Cremation" LP

Saturday, November 06, 2010

editorial - WWJCD? John Carpenter news and free tunes!

Waking up at 3pm on a Saturday with a new issue of Horror Hound in the mail... not too shabby.

So, still no release date on John Carpenter's new flick "The Ward" (his first movie in over 10 years, his last being 2001's much beloved (by me) "Ghosts Of Mars", as well as his two episodes of Masters Of Horror).

Now, John Carpenter is not only the greatest film director/film writer of all time (imho), but also one of the greatest musician/composers who have ever put synth to tape, so news of a new movie coming to theaters from him not only got me stoked for the return of my favorite director, but also one of my all time favorite composers/musicians. Sadly though, I recently found out he did not score "The Ward" (it was done by a composer I'm unfamiliar with, Mark Killian, who's credits include"Traitor", "Rendition" and the Nathan Fillion detective series "Castle")... but Carpenter did help a small amount and perform some synth... I'll check out some of Killian's work and report back, but here's keeping fingers crossed that Carpenter's return is one that I'll be able to enjoy both film wise and tunage wise.

Ok, so while I wait around twiddling my thumbs for this movie to find a distributor, howz' about some fucking label re-releasing and remastering his soundtrack back catalog on cd and, more importantly, vinyl? Dagored's 180 gram gatefold of "Escape From New York" was pretty much a tease, since, while it is an amazingly packaged and great sounding record, they label went belly up and nothing else from JC's incredible musical catalog was released.

I have no idea what the legal rights are to his scores, and I consider myself lucky just to have the meager 6 Carpenter LPs and few cds that I do have... of course his whole library is available readily through nefarious means on line, and I play the fuck out of all his work constantly, but these albums deserve a quality re-issue series, and considering the amounts they fetch on line, it's pretty strange that it hasn't happened. I'd even settle for cd if it has to be that way, but I'm always going to keep dreaming of a copy of "In The Mouth Of Madness" (never on vinyl!) or deluxe, gatefold 180 gram remasters of "The Thing" or "Dark Star" on vinyl. Give this master musician the treatment his works deserve! Seriously, can you imagine an "ITMOM" LP gatefold with all that insane "Sutter Cane" artwork from the book jackets in the movie all over the place? Fuck me.

In the meantime, please enjoy one of John Carpenter's most metal and most experimental soundtracks, the brilliant score to 1995's "In The Mouth Of Madness".

This one holds an extra special place in my heart, not only because it's one of my favorite movie scores, but because it also reminds me of a pretty fun time in my life, during which I was living across the street from the (now defunct) Eastgate Theater and, despite being broke as a joke, I was able to take a break from endless replays of the first Bestial Warlust album and crappy VHS copies of Fulci flicks and Transformers cartoons with my roommates, and scrape together enough cash to enjoy this incredible movie theatrically 4 times, and was able to compare and contrast it's intensity under the effects of several different chemically induced states of mind. Straight up 22z of King Cobra, bong hits and some downers will melt you into the seat like a tentacled mess from KNB's creature shop right along with the flick and it's top notch soundtrack. Give it a try!

Of course, both the score and film get 10 out of 10 fucking Oscars. If I had more Oscars, I'd give them out.

(the link to the download is in the comment section)

now playing
John Carpenter - "Escape From New York" OST 180 gram gatefold LP
Poltergeist - "Depression" LP
Goblin - "Dawn Of The Dead" OST LP
Ennio Morricone - "4 Mosche Di Velluto Grigio" OST LP
Scorpions - "Virgin Killer" LP

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Colt 38 Special Squad (aka Quelli della Calibro 38) (1976) - movie review

Tell those pussy's in the Magnum Force to suck it, this is Colt 38 Special Squad!

Colt 38 Special Squad is a poliziotteschi from the mid 70s, and definitely one of the more enjoyable examples of this wild genre.
Sort of the predecessor to the HK action movie craze of the 80s, the poliziotteschi (for those not yet in the know) were Italian cop/crime films from the 70s that are known for being ultra-violent, gritty and paced faster than a Septic Death song. The genre started as rip offs... er being "influenced" by successful US crime and cop flicks of the early 70s (think Dirty Harry), and, while still seeming to have some of the heavy handed anti-facist anti-violence social messages as their american counterparts, these flicks were often directed by the very same people involved in the better known (now at least) giallos and horror flicks of the same eras
so of course they took the action, violence and gore to ridiculous (and highly enjoyable) extremes that usually upped the anti far beyond that of their American inspiration... and like I said, Colt 38 Special Squad is a prime example of this ass kicking film genre.

Directed by the late Massimo Dallamano (actually his last film before he passed away) who was a successful Italian cinematographer (his credits include Clint Eastwood/Sergio Leone classics "For A Few Dollars More" and "Fistful Of Dollars") before moving on to the directors chair, where he helmed various giallo-esque thrillers ("The Night Child", "Devil
In The Flesh" and "A Black Veil For Lisa") as well as a successful Italian version of "The Portrait of Dorian Grey" before venturing into the exploding poliziotteschi scene. Although most of his earlier flicks contained elements from several genres and are a bit hard to classify, his final films fall squarely into the poliziotteschi genre. Obviously inspired by the Clint Eastwood flick "Magnum Force", "Colt 38 Special Squad" involves a similar group of violent, highly trained cops who answer to (almost) no one, but instead of ending up being the villains, they
are straight up glamorized super heros here, and the characters and acting are actually a little more interesting than the cops in most of these kinds of movies.

Starting off with a serious bang, the Special Squad's leader, Inspector Vanni (played with bad ass perfection by Marcel Bozzuffi) is seeking revenge on the infamous "Black Angel" and his gang (the Black Angel played by the supremely sinister Ivan Rassimov who comes off as a cross between Lee Van Cleef and Snidley Whiplash dressed up as a leather clad giallo killer) who has murdered his wife (in front of
his son in a particularly brutal opening scene) to try and keep the cop in line, who has been cracking down on his operations nefarious criminal activities. At his wife's funeral he is given the go ahead to start his 38 Special armed cop squad, who he immediately begins training in an AWESOME scene involving the cops riding suped up dirt bikes over jumps, around a track and then firing their cannon sounding handguns and blowing apart bad guy shaped
targets on little tracks as Vanni chain smokes and watches approvingly. This is one of the best training montage scenes I think I've ever seen, and would make this movie worth checking out even if the rest of it wasn't good. Luckily, that's not the case. This movie is totally fucking sweet.

The action/missions pick up instantly (did I mention how great the pace is?) as the Special Squad takes down several groups of baddies, including bank robbers and some guys who dare to dine and dash from their favorite restaurant (apparently
a much more serious crime in Italy!). Knee caps are blown off, heads are exploded and muscle cars are jumped and smashed into hostage filled stunt cars as the Special Squad mows through sleazy Italian bad guy after sleazy Italian bad guy until the inedible crack down comes from above, as the high ups of course don't like the unorthodox way the special squad do things (including the filed down dum dum bullets
they blow apart several suspects legs with, as they stick to their often repeated "aim for their knees!" motto).

Of course, the gang is re-instated and given a chance to redeem themselves after the Black Angel and his gang steal a shitload of dynamite and blow up a train station (in a particularly violent and disturbing scene). The bad guys are equipped with a super car that has all kinds of remote control explosion detonators and hi-tech 70s gadgets that's pretty fucking rad, and , I don't want to spoil the whole thing, but the end pay off is predictably bad ass and will not leave you disappointed.

The movie is shot really well actually, and the dvd looks great, really showing off the fantastic cinematography with it's widescreen presentation, flashing around the awesomely gritty crime riddled streets of 70s Italy. It's pretty fun to see these flicks since they give the city such a different vibe than the creepy one most genre fans are probably used to from all the giallos and horror flicks that are more widely seen nowadays. The remastered soundtrack with Italian/English subtitles or the dubbed English audio track, and the typically FANTASTIC score courtesy of Italian soundtrack legend Stevlio Ciprianni also is completely well done, and the tunes have some moments that will stick in your head for a while after watching (especially if you track down the score which I highly recommend doing). There's a particularly bizarre Ciprianni song sung by Grace Jones, who dances around and horribly lip synchs the cut in the back ground of a sleazy disco tech that you may want to rewind and watch twice just because the song is so fucking weird. It actually reminds me of that disco song those "sexy" alien girls with the three mouths sang in the Battlestar Gallactica pilot, especially when the overdubbed multi-tracking of Grace Jones' out of key, yet strangely cool sounding vocals begin. Grace Jones is by far more disturbing than any multi-mouthed alien chick could ever be, and after you see her singing debut, I'm sure you'll agree.

All in all, it's a really cool fucking 70s cop flick, packed with action, violence, awesome stunts, badassery galore and a high level of quality in the production values that makes this one of the better poliziotteschi flicks I've seen. If you like these kind of movies and have somehow missed out on this one, pick it up! If you are new to the genre, get on it! This is a great place to start. 10 out of 10 fucking Oscars

now playing -
Toxik - "Think This" LP
Autopsy - "The Tomb Within" 12 inch
Contagium - "Archaic" LP
Ghoul/Brody's Militia split 7
Riz Ortolani - "Mondo Candido" OST, 180 gram LP
John Carpenter - "In The Mouth Of Madness" OST
Griffin - "Protectors Of The Lair" LP (just kidding, it's mp3s...)
Demolition Hammer - "Tortured Existence" LP

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

editorial - would like to recommend "976-EVIL"

Here's an email (titled " : Shocker dvd available") I had in my inbox this morning:

Their software knows me so well it's downright spooky! It's exactly like that movie "Electric Dreams"! How could it possibly know I've been wanting to watch "Dr Giggles" again recently unless their server has become sentient and, I'd assume, fallen in love with me?

I'm going to keep this blog post short today as I have a lot of important work that needs to be done around the ol' crypt (a nap) but I wanted to share some awesome artwork I came across while wasting time on the web at work. I'm a big fan of Eastern European movie posters that feature images that have nothing at all even remotely to do with the film (usually the result of distributors purchasing the rights to movies and needing to rush out promotional items for them before they've even received or viewed the actual flick), and this art for the Turkish release of Pumpkinhead is a perfect example of how awesome some of these posters can be. I can just imagine the confusion Turkish horror movie fans must have felt when Pumkinhead started up and turned out to not be the most awesome giallo ever made, as this poster would lead you to believe it is:

Pretty sweet huh? I'd love to get a copy of that poster! Plus, I'm a huge fan of "Ston Winston". His creature designs might not look as nice as Stan Winston's, but his rates are a lot more reasonable.

In other exciting Fright Zone news, I finally ordered a USB extension cord, so some of those 7 inch reviews I've been sitting on will finally get posted in the upcoming weeks (what's a 7 inch review if you can't get a mp3 of the tunes so you can tell me how wrong I am?).

Last, but not least, I'd like to wish Tom Savini a happy birthday.
Can't wait to see Machete again when it comes out on dvd. I know everyone saw it already, but I'll probably do a review then since so many people have asked me about it (2 people).

All right kids, that's all for today. Take care, brush your hair.

now playing -
Ozric Tentacles - "Arborescence" LP
Dead Congregation - "Purifying Consecrated Ground" 12 inch
Exhorder - "Slaughter In The Vatican" LP (180 gram remaster)
Carnivore - "Carnivore" LP (180 gram gatefold)
"Rod Serling's Zero Hour" radio show - episode "Skylab, Are You There?"
Queensryche - "Rage For Order" LP
Human Remains - "Admirations Most Deep And Foul" 7 inch