Before I continue further, some of you may be wondering Where the fukk did you go? Well, it’s been an odd year full of incredibly tumultuous ups and downs, and on top of burning the candle at both ends between columns and fiction and projects and a heap-o life stress, it turned out I needed a goddamned break. Shit, I’ve been cranking out something nonstop since 2009. And as of late while ruminating alone in my Abramelin-like self-imposed exile *(there may have been some actual occultic hullabaloo going on, but I’ll never tell you), I’ve been feeling a little restless, a little dead inside, but realised A-HA, just like good rock-n-roll, you can’t kill what’s already dead – – – so here I am, back from my own personal grave-psyche. How did I keep busy when not wagering with demons? Music *(and movies but I know others may cover that a bit more extensively), and lots of it.
2017 saw a slew of both classic and more recent performers releasing material steadily throughout the course of year. Well, it’s been a long year indeed and I’ve not been able to keep up on too much in the newer or more underground realms of sound, but I have kept up with some of my favorite roustabouts, a couple of which have been long term mainstays in my listener career. Anyway, enough yapping, walk with me into the Listener’s Crypt, and – – – wait – – – do you hear what I hear?
DANZIG – BLACK LADEN CROWN: Over the past couple of years I’ve written quite a bit on The Man, The Myth, GLENN motherfukking DANZIG. About SAMHAIN, about the MISFITS, articles, reviews – – – the music of DANZIG has almost never failed to intrigue me *(well, I still don’t like albums 5 & 6) despite the hoards of naysayers out there, and since about 7: I Luciferi, I’ve noticed the quality of his songwriting getting continuously better once again. Granted, it does take him years to release new material, but that’s due to his own personal white-knuckle quality control grip and the level of integrity he has in whatever he’s currently working on. This album, Black Laden Crown, is his first album of new original material since 2010’s Red Deth Sabaoth, and sound-wise comes off as the logical successor. A little grittier in production, this is another slab of doom-laden metalized gothrock that delivers like radiation after a nuclear blast *(no pun on his record label, heh). The usual suspects appear to help GLENN along his dark journey: TOMMY VICTOR *(PRONG) on guitar, JOHN KELLEY *(TYPE O-NEGATIVE) and JOEY CASTILLO *(QOTSA) sharing drum duties, and GLENN himself doing all key-work and bass, making this a pleasant and long awaited surprise. However, that album cover, man – – – hard to take seriously. There shoulda been some white knuckle quality control on that, holy shit, but the man’s next album just may be called DANZIG DOES ELVIS, so – – – *sigh* Out on Evilive/Nuclear Blast Records. Recommended.
GBH – MOMENTUM: Holy-hellfire-shit! This was one I wasn’t expecting. Way too long ago, GBH was one of the first punk bands I discovered *(what a wonderful summer), around which time their new stuff was becoming ever-less catchy and more metalized, something I felt never really worked *(and still don’t, for whatever reason I could never get into that period). Honest to say, I’ve not paid very much attention to these guys since way back when *(though I did see them in ‘94 or ‘95 at a great show with VIOLENT SOCIETY at the Troc in Philly). But I decided to give this a shits-n-giggles listen, and man was I taken aback, impressed even. Not a bad song on the album, my favorite is easily “I Never Asked For Any Of This,” the fukking story of my life *(really, I’m not kidding). MOMENTUM is a perfect title for the album, as once it starts it doesn’t let up. This is the 12th album by vocalist COLIN ABRAHALL and gang, and age hasn’t slowed that crusty bastard in the least. Good, loud, fast & honest classic hardcore, as it should be. Out on Hellcat Records. Highly recommended.
TSOL – THE TRIGGER COMPLEX: This I was excited about, TSOL’s 10th full length, even though I wasn’t so keen on their previous 2009 release LIFE, LIBERTY, & THE PURSUIT OF FREE DOWNLOADS *(it wasn’t bad, per se, but had nowhere near the writing or ferocious impact of 2003’s DIVIDED WE STAND, perhaps their crowning achievement). After all, TSOL do attack their sound from a different angle for every release, always have. Except here, they sound like the more questionable aspects of THE JOYKILLER *(JACK GRISHAM’S other band who happen to do a lot of TSOL songs) blending forcibly with the sound of TSOL’s last album. The first song, “Give Me More,” wasn’t all that bad, but everything after was so incredibly hard to listen to. This sounds like old punks trying too hard, almost artificial, and actually feels kind of stale and bland *(the same has also happened with THE DAMNED, one of TSOL’s chief influences). Nothing really makes these songs POP the way TSOL songs are known to do. This is one of my all time, lifelong favorite acts, one of punk history’s most important, too, but this just left me feeling kind of let down and sad. Out on Rise Records. Not recommended. Not at all.
JOHN CARPENTER – ANTHOLOGY: MOVIE THEMES ‘74-’98: Changing the vibrational gears a bit, all I can say about Master of Horror JOHN CARPENTER’S most recent musical output is “Wow.” Quite possibly my favorite release of the year, ANTHOLOGY contains re-recordings and reimaginings of thirteen of CARPENTER’S best and most classic soundtracks. A good portion of Halloween was spent listening to this album. New *(and genuinely improved) versions of “Assault on Precinct 13,” “Prince of Darkness,” and even his own take on ENNIO MORRICONE’S soundtrack for “The Thing” highlight the proceedings. I know JC took his musical show out on the road recently, and it would’ve been an amazing thing to see. There’s not a whole lot to say on this one. If you know *(and love, like I do) the man and his work, you will know these soundtracks and know that only the best is being represented here, with JC’s son CODY and DANIEL DAVIES *(son of THE KINKS’ DAVE DAVIES) on along for the ride *(as with JC’s previous albums) and to round things out. On an interesting note, this version of “Halloween” was also released coinciding with this album, remixed by TRENT REZNOR & ATTICUS ROSS. Out on Sacred Bones. Highly recommended.
DOYLE – DOYLE II: AS WE DIE: From those wild & whacky monstermen, former MISFIT DOYLE WOLFGANG VON FRANKENSTEIN and CANCERSLUG’S ALEX STORY, comes this pummelling, metallic, thunderous roar of genre-defying sonic brutality. Their second release since 2012 *(technically DOYLE’S 3rd but we won’t discuss the first), AS WE DIE further cements the foundation that it’s predecessor carefully laid. The sound is darker, more ominous, the lyrics a bit more fleshed out and intense. Not only has DOYLE become an amazing guitarist in his own right, ALEX STORY’S vocal range continues to expand, change, and itself defy one standard categorization. Despite the musicians involved, this is not horrorpunk *(really, they fukking hate that label, and I can’t say I blame them), and it’s not metal, and it’s not heavy goth, but a visceral, biting mutation of all three, and then some. My personal favorite is “God of Flies,” the song I believe takes the most in the way of musical chances, and comes out sounding like a wickedly new style of incredibly heavy rock. These motherfukkers play for keeps, and they could give one fukk less if you like it or not – – – it’s for them, not you. Out on EMP Label Group. Recommended. *(And speaking of CANCERSLUG – – – )
CANCERSLUG – FUCK THE BULLSHIT, THIS IS CANCERSLUG: I don’t actually know too much about this little doozy other than the SlugCult slipped it out quietly back in the beginning of the year. Raw, raucous, and taking no prisoners, FUKK THE BULLSHIT . . . plays out like a well thought sequel to SYMPHONY OF SICKNESS *(released in late 2016), itself basically a best of selection of re-recordings done as rockin’ rapacious blasts without frills, as they were originally practiced, originally conceived. Really, the title says it all. New versions of “New Death Song” and “Die On The Battlefield” will break your fukking jaw – – – or induce you to go out and break some other poor bastard’s jaw – – – estimate not the power of CANCERSLUG. Lyrics like “Yeah bitch you’re beautiful, that don’t mean motherfukkin’ shit to me / Every useless whore like you should be taken to the showers and gassed repeatedly” burn, and speak to certain universal truths that are unavoidable, like it or not. Hence the true and supreme beauty of this band. If you don’t like it, it’s not fukkin’ for you. And don’t come here looking for even faster versions of some of these classicks; this release is far more rooted in a thick, slightly slower, sludgy, bluesier, but no less powerful approach, focusing largely on songs like “Domestic,” “Where The Blood Goes,” “How To Die Inside,” etc. While not my favorite release, this album is still a must. And yes, they are currently working on brand new material – – – SlugCult Rise. Out on SlugCult Records. Highly recommended.
ALEX STORY – PURE HATE: Another excellent ALEX STORY acoustic album, exploring the more intense, deep and primal side behind all of CANCERSLUG’S seething rage. Some interesting older classicks are tapped such as “Silent Bleeding,” “Time Of Apes,” “Torture Throne” and “Salvation” *(four of my favorites), as well as some new ones including the gut-wrenching “At My Worst,” the beautiful “Death Cult Lullabye” and the spot-on title track. Great stuff for intense isolationist brooding and suicidal incantations *(or inclinations, your pick). Out on SlugCult Records. Recommended.
ALICE COOPER – PARANORMAL: This surprise from Dark Rock’s finest auteur may not be his best album, but it surprised the hell out of me, especially after the disaster that was 2011’s abominable WELCOME 2 MY NIGHTMARE *(an extra letdown considering that dreck followed ALONG CAME A SPIDER, one of ALICE’S outright best), essentially an hour of aimless novelty rock. It just didn’t work. Here, ALICE does it right, working with not only the ORIGINAL ALICE COOPER GROUP *(something that was not ever supposed to be able to happen, incidentally), but also musicians of note such as ROGER GLOVER and BILLY GIBBONS. For the most part it has a similar sound to classic mid-70’s ACG, without retreading the all-too familiar ground. It’s energetic, catchy, anthemic, occasionally a tad spooky, but overall a fun, lightweight ride that’s a nice change up in sound to the sonic torrents of over-thinky brutality and bloodshed I often enjoy. I’ve written at length on ALICE over the years, his music being a large part of what started me on this wild ride so long ago. The humor, the horror, the searing truths hidden in plain sight – – – it’s all here. If you know ALICE you know what he brings. Out on EARMUSIC. Recommended.
BORN IN ANGEL BLOOD – VOLUME II: And lastly but not least comes BORN IN ANGEL BLOOD, the other-other solo project from the hardest working motherfukker in rock n roll, ALEX STORY. *(Yes, I am well aware four out of the nine albums mentioned here involve one individual, but trust me when I tell you each of them are completely different – – – you may like one thing and hate the rest – – – hey, at least I know what I like). This is the second release from BIAB, a unique project that can best be described as black metal-blues rock-punk, if it can even be described at all. Rich in atmosphere and absolutely dripping with vitriol, this is psychotic occultic music for smashing walls and up-down 8balls, replete with all those honesty fueled lyrics about humanity being, well, fukking garbage, amongst the apocalypse fires and cold, ghoulish intentions. Three ALEX STORY classicks are given truly unique new coats here: the ever truthful and brutal “How To Die Inside,” “This Wicked Heart,” and the sweetly supernatural “Storm The Gates.” New originals include “Into The Burning Skies,” “I Am Not Your Friend,” the sleazy “Feels Like Death 1974,” and the awesome “Dealing With A Rat” *(oh we all know what that’s like, some of us more than others). This is really a whirling dervish of rising and sinking emotions, every one of them pulled from the rotten guts of an immense and interminable pain of which connects me on multiple levels. Easily as good as BIAB VOLUME I and yet something entirely different. This album in no way goes down easy. It’s not meant to, and the tangible malice reaches longingly from the speakers to grip your throat and induce you to it’s surreal charms. Good for late night black rages and spilling your own blood in the recognition of unnameable dark forces. Out on SlugCult Records. Highly recommended.
And that’s just a sampling of some of what tickled my ear canals in 2017. I found it particularly interesting that so many luminaries old and new released *(for the most part) half-decent works that, if nothing else, seem to keep me just intrigued enough to be curious as to what may come next. Many of these I had no clue were coming out, had come out, or even existed, and some of which I even came across by accident. Like said, it’s been another long, shit year *(from what I understand that’s actually a fairly all around sentiment) and I for one am glad it’s coming to a close, though I’ve never been one to really gauge by the “New Year Betterment” mythology. But music, along with a sparse few other glimmers, kept some kind of light burning for the shadow to dance, if only for the briefest of moments. Thanks for reading.