Tuesday, August 24, 2010

D.I.S. - Critical Failure (Deep Six Records, 2010)

It took me a long time to understand why D.I.S. (Destroyed In Seconds) guitarist Leon del Muerte would ever willingly quit Intronaut. After seeing him play in Phobia and Murder Construct (just signed to Relapse!), I started to understand. And D.I.S.'s debut Critical Failure clinches it: Del Muerte prefers the direct to the oblique, the visceral to the heady. And that means unfiltered death metal, punk, thrash and grind.


Of course, del Muerte is just one-fifth of D.I.S., a band full of old-school punk/metal lifers and lovers. Vocalist Mike Fisher spent the late 80s in the speedcore act No Warning; guitarist Bruce Reeves played in SoCal grind stalwarts Phobia for 15 years; bassist Kent Elmore did time with Reeves in sludge act Mange; drummer Sean Vahle's played with Eat the Living for a decade. D.I.S. play Swedey d-beat and sloppy crossover thrash with the dirty telepathy of a band that's been in the trenches for years and knows what to give a fuck about and what deserves the middle finger.


In the former category: power, simplicity, aggression, momentum. In the latter: anything that takes away from the elements of the former. D.I.S.'s version of "stirring the pot" is limited to a brief guitar solo where one of their influences might've left it out, or the occasional blastbeat where, say, Discharge never would. That's just fine when the performances are this ferocious, the songs so varied while still staying firmly within the realm of the old-school. As much as it'll please aging punkers, Critical Failure can't quite be considered a throwback record. It would've been way advanced for the mid-80s. It's destructive now. Or rather...a few seconds from now.

Power It Up (Germany)

Friday, August 13, 2010

CHAINMAIL: Drowned Sorrow - Fittings at the Coffin Shop EP (self-released, 2010)

The CHAINMAIL section reviews bands that were proactive enough to contact me directly. Here at Cerebral Metalhead, initiative is rewarded.

I like The Red Chord. A whole lot. So do Long Island's Drowned Sorrow. On their first official EP Fittings at the Coffin Shop, Drowned Sorrow synthesize many of the same metal-, grind- and deathcore elements as THC, but the similarities run deeper than genre signifiers. Both bands respect their listeners enough to keep them pummeled, embodied and slightly off-kilter at all times. Groove is rarely absent from Fittings, and unexpected guitar leads, tempo changes and textures abound. Some songs could use more transitional finesse, but a song like "Deception Waves Hello" invalidates its songwriting seams through sheer burliness. This EP was written for the high-minded pit-o-phile, not the stay-at-home grindcore fan.

"Receiving Presents at a Funeral"

Drowned Sorrow's wildcard is Dan Roberts, a vocalist who never met a trebly tic he wasn't willing to indulge. Roberts has a hardcore bark that would make his NYHC scenesmates proud, an abrasive tenor scream, a weak death metal growl and the occasional mid-song spoken phrase (my favorite of his hardcore Barry White-isms: "Being damned is not an honor / Yet you bring the confetti"). He deploys all of them, always. The constant switching is impressive enough from a technical standpoint and sounds smoothly integrated. It's also more distracting than commanding. For a band whose sound already has so much going on, I don't need any distractions.

Facebook (MP3)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ovrcast 5th Anniversary - Friday the 13th in L.A.!

As the price of a concert heads towards nil, my interest in attending it often heads the same direction. Why would a worthwhile band choose to play a slapped-together free show when they stand to make more money from a door charge at a proper club? And if there's a major sponsor footing the bill, who am I really supporting by attending?

Years before Scion and Converse began investing beaucoup marketing bucks in metal, Martin de Pedro and his Ovrcast Productions were putting together free metal gigs in Los Angeles. And although they could certainly use the money to help fund their nicely-curated label, Martin and Ovrcast have never wavered from their vision of uniting underground bands with underground band-fans, without a mandatory transaction fee between the two.

Thanking Martin in person is one of two reasons to attend Ovrcast's 5th Anniversary show, happening tomorrow at The Blvd. The other is the typically great lineup. Black Cobra (reviewed here) are on tour like 580 days a year, so you know they're well-oiled. Huntress (reviewed here) started out awesome, and they just keep getting better and better with each show. Valdur (reviewed here) and Harassor offer black metal in polar opposite styles, while It's Casual and The Fucking Wrath (reviewed here) poison the evening with punk. Howl are riding off waves of great press for their new album on Relapse, and Lions of Tsavo's unsung last record Firelung slaughters too much ass to mention (or sing about, apparently). Upsilon Acrux (reviewed here) are not metal in any way (or any genre, really), but they make much better use of their two-drum lineup than Kylesa or The Melvins.

So go to The Blvd. tomorrow, pat Martin on the back, rock out and tell me all about it. Because I'm out of town this weekend. And I hate myself for it.