The summer of ’88 laid an impression on some of us that lasted a lifetime. The hordes were hip to all the bay area thrash bands and those groups kept delivering the goods. A couple of NWOBHM-styled vocalists flipped the Bay sound showcasing that nobody could really top Chuck Billy at his own game, but, instead, expand upon ’80s metal and ’70s punk rock vocal concoctions. Enter the fire and cockney sneer from Sean Killian, who paved way for all metal head serial killers dressed in turtle neck sweaters. You might think there isn’t room for fashion in metal, but Google the increase of black turtle neck sweaters sold since Let the World Burn was released.
Ok, let’s cut the fat and get to the bone. Vio-Lence covered a track last year by The Dead Kennedys in form of “California Uber Alles” that kinda left us scratching our heads questioning the direction of the band. Most of us have been walking on gilded splinters since the release of 1990’s Oppressing The Masses, unsure what to expect, and the DK cover was lacklustre at best. But, suddenly, the Bay clouds filled with flame and breathed fire upon the most venomous thing to come out of SF Gates in years! Take the foundation of OG VIO- vocalist Sean Killian, drummer Perry Strickland, and guitarist Phil Demmel, plus add master riffer Bobby Gustafson from Overkill on guitar, and bass-in-yer-face Christian Olde Woblers delivering 42oz of Fear Factory. This lineup delivers the goods dishing out the most precise slicing and dicing of “kill your grandma” music you’ve heard in years.
This morsel of goodness starts with “Flesh From Bone,” dropping in with a piping hot Frank Bello-like bass run that fires off the best twin guitar attack since ’80s Priest. A bit of Exodus’ Pleasures of the Flesh-era vibe crawling into the main riff in “Screaming Always” which will leave you screaming for vengeance in its uncompromising Metallica-Black-Album breakdown. This works fabulous for VIO- but didn’t quite hook us when Hetfield and co. put the original stamp on it. “Upon Their Cross” is as heavy as a really heavy thing and has this trippy solid mainstream Metallica “Black Album vs Oppressing The Masses” that dictates the flavour trip within the walls of your mind. “Gato Negro” hits home with a hardcore grand slam that demands a pit. It has a rabid punk rock skank and is as fast as a shark. This album has a very nostalgic Eternal Nightmare groove with a new twist of the blade.
Kilian’s voice, these days, is full of rage and vengeance; a scathing descaling delivery like he’s commanding a fleet of blood, guts, and brain worms. Worms in your brain, destroying every bodily function but not like the Gummie ones approved by Prop 207… anyway. This is the heaviest heavy thing you’ve heard in a while proving that VIO- is once again kicking THE BAY area doors open as contenders, but this time with the perfect lineup. With your last ride ticket, “Let The World Burn” closes the show and, clocking in at 2:20, is possibly the fastest Vio-lence song of all time. There’s an apocalyptical spoken word that sets you up for a cliff dive. “You’ve never been welcome, sluts for lust… virus you destroy your saviors unrecognized and crucified.” Take a deep breath, now, let’s count to three. The GDOG crew comes crushing back and “Let The World Burn” might possibly be THE best song in thrash history!
Let the World Burn Track Listing:
1. Flesh From Bone
2. Screaming Always
3. Upon Their Cross
4. Gato Negro
5. Let The World Burn
Run Time: 24:09
Release Date: March 4, 2022
Record Label: Metal Blade Records
Wabi Sabi – ‘The Love Insane’ [Album Review]
‘The Love Insane’ displays the psychedelic jazz band persona of Wabi Sabi and their talent shifting from genre to genre with aplomb.
About seven months ago, Atlanta-based ensemble Wabi Sabi released their fourth album, The Love Insane, a record that not only flew under the radar but was also impacted by the pandemic, resulting in it being self-produced.
Pianist/vocalist Damien Cartier explains, “This is the first of our albums that I have produced myself. We have never done an album this way, but Covid mixed with having a spare bedroom home studio seemed like the perfect time to try.”
The genesis of Wabi Sabi occurred in 1999. Initially comprising piano, trombone, and drums, the band’s name was Damien Cartier And His My Newt Orchestra. Before long, the band added horns, bass, guitars, percussion, and singers. However, there was a problem: the band’s name, the spelling of which stymied people.
Then Damian saw an episode of King Of The Hill where Bobby discovered the concept of Wabi Sabi, a Japanese aesthetic that perceives beauty in imperfection and transience. Enter the band Wabi Sabi, whose unique sound amalgamates elements of soul, funk, reggae, and pop with tangs of jazz.
The Love Insane begins with “The Truth,” opening on a soft, low piano topped by tender vocals, mirroring pensive tones. The melody blends savors of rock and jazz, forming a dreamy, almost psychedelic flow of floating textures.
Highlights on the album include the title track, conjuring up the swaying soul surfaces of the ’60s, tinted with twangy, country-laced guitars. Cartier’s vocals are spot-on and convey touching, quixotic aromas.
“New Life,” a personal favorite, evinces suggestions of Steely Dan because of its deliciously trippy-lite surfaces and grand brass accents that bray forth finessed tones. The funky “Not Yet, Sister,” with its hints of reggae, features bright horns, skiffing guitars, and a neighing organ.
The album finishes with “The Weirdo Blues,” a luscious fusion of bluesy jazz and orchestral flavors. There’s a delightful, sleazy sensation to the tune, imbuing the song with benevolent craziness.
The Love Insane displays the psychedelic jazz band persona of Wabi Sabi and their talent shifting from genre to genre with aplomb.
The Love Insane Track Listing:
1. The Truth
2. I Am OK
4. The Love Insane
5. New Life
6. Not Yet, Sister
7. Sick Tuna
8. The Fall
9. Please Rescue Me
11. The Weirdo Blues
Run Time: 48:18
Release Date: July 28, 2023
Record Label: Independent
Spike Polite & Sewage – ‘Punk Not Dead’ [EP] [Album Review]
Seething with primal momentum and frenzied, punchy surfaces, Spike Polite & Sewage’s ‘Punk Not Dead’ projects an intensity of defiance and insurrection.
Punk Not Dead, the latest EP from Spike Polite & Sewage, is an insolent, provocative social satire, a response to the clueless decline of Western civilization, à la Oswald Spengler. Unrestrained, the EP was produced by Ted Sabety.
Made up of Spike Polite, aka Reagan Youth and Cheetah Chrome, on vocals, Michelle Shocked (bass, vocals), Antony Romero (guitar), and Beast (drums), Punk Not Dead follows on the band’s 2021 EP, PANDEMONIUM.
Comprising three tracks, Punk Not Dead opens with “What Happened to the Punk Rock,” rolling out in buzzsaw guitars riding tight, raw percussion. A single voice segues into gang-like vocals, imbuing the lyrics with enflamed indignation. This is old-school, fulminating punk rock.
“Twitter is a Death Machine” delivers a short, vicious commentary on the malicious ramifications of social media platforms, specifically Twitter, now known as X. Traveling on a fast, chunky rhythm, the harmonics slice the atmosphere with edgy guitars.
Snarling, grinding guitars give the intro to the title track chaotic textures as sneering vocals infuse the lyrics with ferocious energy highlighted by ringing percussion. The outro reveals the spoken word vocals of Spike and Michelle announcing that “punk is not dead.”
Seething with primal momentum and frenzied, punchy surfaces, Punk Not Dead projects an intensity of defiance and insurrection.
Punk Not Dead Track Listing:
1. What Happened to the Punk Rock
2. Twitter is a Death Machine
3. Punk not Dead
Run Time: 3:24
Release Date: January 15, 2024
Record Label: Solid Bass Records
Night Wilds – ‘All That Should Have Been’ [Album Review]
Progressive alt-rock artist Night Wilds, the musical brainchild of Seth Micarelli, will drop his debut album, All That Should Have Been, on April 1. A darkly cathartic record, it’s an immersive concept album cloaking autobiography in fantastical fiction. (Check out our previous single review here.)
All That Should Have Been was tracked at Robert Lang Studios, London Bridge Studios, and Electrokitty Studios. The sessions boasted an audiophile’s dream of vintage gear and exceptional contributions from mastering and mixing engineer Tom Hall and longtime Heart drummer Ben Smith.
“For my whole life, I have been searching for that magic pill to make everything feel better,” shares Micarelli. “This album is about making sense of that void.”
Encompassing 17 tracks, All That Should Have Been begins with the dramatic “The Curtain,” a heated monologue delivered by the compere of a circus, rebuking the performers, focusing on a small child. His criticism travels over a creepy mosaic of sonic motifs, conjuring up a toxic milieu.
Entry points include “New Jerusalem,” opening on low-slung ethereal surfaces topped by Micarelli’s soft, poignant vocals. Slowly building and taking on elevating harmonics, the melody swells into a grandiose prog-rock performance, highlighted by radiant female harmonies, infusing the tune with gospel savors.
“City Of Strangers,” a symphonic rock ballad, reveals the protagonist’s realization that he has created a self-constructed prison in his mind, a prison reflecting the events of his life in his youth. A melancholic piano and weeping strings mirror the passionate lyrics, imbuing the song with regret, yearning, and a moving appeal for human tenderness and forgiveness.
A personal favorite because of the exposure of intimate, inner feelings, “Long Way From Graceland” features an alluring folk-rock melody supporting Micarelli’s raw, sensitive vocals, drenched in musing timbres.
“Just A Moment More” conjures up suggestions of Bruce Springsteen, unwrapping textures of folk-rock. Blending gleaming guitar accents, a gently sparkling piano, and a mid-tempo rhythmic flow, the tune evokes the pensive longing for more time in embracing the carefree sensation of life’s satisfying moments.
The album closes with “Where Do We Go From Here,” juxtaposing Micarelli’s haunting voice against the maniacal, cackling laugh and wild spoken words of the crazed compere from the first track. The drifting prog-rock ambiance of the melody, reminiscent of Pink Floyd, is at once delicate and elegantly haunting.
Tucked inside All That Should Have Been is an unforgettable story of working to emerge from darkness and addiction into light.
All That Should Have Been Track Listing:
1. The Curtain
2. The Show
5. New Jerusalem
9. Where Do We Go From Here
10. City Of Strangers
11. A Long Way From Graceland
13. No Way Home
15. Just A Moment More
16. Lost Light
17. Where Do We Go From Here
Run Time: 60:32
Release Date: April 1, 2024
Record Label: Independent
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