Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Article: "I Fucking Love Goregrind" by Devin Joseph Meaney

I Fucking Love Goregrind
Article by Devin Joseph Meaney

Goregrind music. It is stated on Wikipedia that ''Goregrind is a fusion genre of grindcore and deathmetal. British band Carcass are commonly credited for the emergence of the genre. Goregrind is recognized for its heavily edited, "watery"-sounding vocals and abrasive musicianship rooted in grindcore.'' Either way, it is something that I know and love, and have for a very long time.
The gurgling gargling vocals, pitched to the point of no return. The abrasive and down-tuned guitars aiding in the creation of a flurry of noise, set alongside vicious pummeling drums and an overall chaotic atmosphere. Stomach churning lyrics and imagery that would make the little old ladies at the church bake sale cringe and catch a slight to moderate case of the vapors. It is not for everyone, but for a small community online and around the globe, it is a much loved hobby... and sometimes, a lifestyle.
Back when I was a pre-teen, I loved the sound of anything heavy. At around the age of 11, my cousin Mike gave me a grocery bag filled with thrash metal tapes. Metallica, Sabbat, Metal Church, Testament, Wrathchild America, and Meliah Rage were a few of the bands that were included. Needless to say, to my young brain, this was monumental when it comes to the formation of my personal taste of music... even as an adult.
Later, at around the age of 13, a friend introduced me to the band ''Dying Fetus.'' I had been listening to extreme metal for a while now, but nothing like this. With my first few listens, the hair stood on end on my arms and a deep chill ran down my spine. At this point, this was a new level of heavy for me, and again, my taste in music was darkened and perverted furthermore. I thought this was the end of this rabbit hole. But after about another year, I once again found something to top my current listening choices. This is when I found goregrind.
I was perusing the internet half way through the age of 14. I was looking for deathmetal, as I had exhausted my current-at-that-time playlist. I don't remember which site linked me there, but at some point I came to the homepage for Braindead Webzine. It spoke of things such as goregrind and grindcore, which I had never heard of before. I did not realize at this point, but it was this website that had the most effect on me as both a music fan and a musician. Goregrind and grindcore (leaning more to gore) are my two favorite types of music, with black metal coming in just behind. It was all because of this website, and to Pierre (the guy who runs Braindead) I thank you for sending me on this journey.
I found bands such as Last Days of Humanity and Dead Infection. I also found Gut, Regurgitate, Gruesome Stuff Relish, Haemorrhage, Blue Holocaust, Impetigo, and many other grindcore and goregrind bands, some really extreme ''brutal'' deathmetal, and one man projects. This is when I really started vibeing with drum machines as well, as a lot of the projects and bands I found did not have a live drummer. I had already been playing in garage bands at this point. But it was very clear to me that I wanted to do this. I really fucking wanted to grind.
My first attempts at making grind were only somewhat successful. Not many people heard them, but they laid the foundation for the style of music I would chase for the rest of my life. I recorded a demo under the name ''Scissorfuck Commando'' with my cousin Mike. We had like three short songs and printed out like 10 copies. The whole demo was recorded in my Aunt's living room. Shortly after, I started my one man project ''Coathanger Abortion.'' Again, one demo was made, and the project was kind of left for a while. Due to finding out there were like 3 bands already called Coathanger Abortion, The name was changed to ''Proctophobic.'' There were a few other projects, but honestly, I forget the names of both the projects and the songs.
At this point I had just entered highschool and I was making new friends. One day in the hallway I ran into a weird looking guy with really long hair and a black t shirt. His name was Neal. He also had a love of the heavy and the obscure, so I invited him over to jam some tunes. This lead to our first two releases together as Proctophobic, ''Cannibalistic Roadside Massacre'' and ''Revel in The Gore.'' These releases were rough, and locally, not many people got it. But thanks to the internet, we amassed a small following on Myspace and other places on the interwebs.
Our first two demos together vocally were entirely pitch shifter oriented, and the guitar was simple chugs and rhythms set alongside a drum machine. Gory as hell, but it was kind of cliché. We started messing around with our sound a bit, and Neal's black metal influences really started taking a hold on the music. This is when one of us (I forget who) coined the term blackened goregrind. (Or somewhere along these lines. My memory is hazy). During this period we recorded ''The Smell of Detritis'' and shortly after ''Solipsism,'' two short Ep's that would really chisel out our own brand of music. Again, local response was minimal, but the internet was kind. Not long after we recorded a session in a friend's basement, which was later released on a split with Zombie Raiders, and then again later on down the road with Sapraemia. Things were starting to amp up for Proctophobic. It was now that we started playing live and releasing on small time record labels. We were kind of legit now. Again, locals hated us, mostly, but we did gain a few fans and friends. Around this point I started my solo project ''Meaney,'' but it was short lived and never had a proper demo release.
During this period Proctophobic played a slew of bar shows and house parties. We had no live drummer, but the lineup (usually) consisted of Charlie Gnomington (the gnome that programmed our drum machine), myself on guitar, Neal on vocals, and Seagull Stoddard on backup vocals. We sometimes played live with Sean Macintyre of Nightfall and Thaumiel (at that time he was in Moxham Castle) and were known to summon the horned god Cernunnous from the depths of the underworld, who would then ravage the stage (or kitchen) with black metal and black magic.
Honestly, we were a better project than a live band, but we had a lot of fun. During this period we released ''8 Tears in Time and Space Left Unmended,'' ''The Meat Forest,'' ''The Kingdom of Perversity,'' ''Castrate the Sky,'' and ''The Wriggling Crown.'' We also re-released The Smell Of Detritis as a split with Shit Fucking Shit in Italy on Distrozione and No Tomorrow Records. (I forget in what order exactly). Locals still hated us, but by now the internet loved us. We were backed by a handful of small time labels such as SBT Records, Tornflesh Records, and many others, and were getting downloads in the multiple thousands. I never made a penny. But I felt like a real grinder now. It was also during this period Neal and I met up online with a guy named Moe to release a splatter goregrind demo. The project was short lived, but we did release one demo under the moniker Casket Sludge. Our first demo was ''The Contents Within Permeate With Necrotic Reek,'' and it was our only demo ever.
The next phase was re-releasing old material, which I continued to do up until a few years ago. A few splits were made. Many compilations, too! In fact, last time I tried to count up everything we were a part of, if I include compilation albums, it is ''more than 20.'' We did write a handful of new songs, but they were lost to the void and were never released properly. Which is a shame... they were pretty good! This is the time Neal started talking of moving to Halifax. We played one final show, but by this time I had developed severe anxiety. I had to turn my back to the crowd (like 15 people) because I was too overwhelmed to play otherwise. I did not know it then, but this was pretty much the end of Proctophobic. I compiled the majority of our material to a ''Greatest Hits'' Cd, released it on a few labels, and that was it. Proctophobic was done. Neal moved to Halifax, formed a few bands up there, and I went on my own way. I produced one gorenoise demo under the moniker ''Acute Onset Psychosis,'' and aside from a few un-released recordings with friends, this was my last musical output for a few years. My mental health at this point was not the best, so a few years of recovery was needed to return me to my desired state. This is when I really found my love for writing, but this is not about writing. This is about goregrinding, so I will leave that story for another time.
Eventually, I came back to my goregrinding in full swing in 2018. I teamed up with Jeremy Kirchner of Arabian Death Mask to put out a demo under the name ''The Nosebleed Section.'' We wrote four short songs, posted them online, made a Youtube video, and a small run of hand made cassettes. As always, local response was not the best, but there were a handful of people around the globe who digged it. This demo was eventually re-released in 2020 on the ''Gorenoise Sucks'' compilation, which can be found on the Gorenoise Sucks Bandcamp page. We have yet to release new material for this project, but it is not completely out of the question. If Jeremy wants to do up some Nosebleed, I would be more than happy to apply myself to that.
Now that we are in 2020, I am teaming up with my friend Henry Peachey from New Zealand to bring you some new tracks. We will keep the name of the project to ourselves as it is still in the creation phase, but it is going to be gory as ole' fuck. We have a handful of songs in our current roster, but they are not complete. They need to be honed. They need to be great. Still, this is something I am looking forward to being a part of, and I hope the people that listen to it will feel the same way. Also, one of my older Acute Onset Psychosis tracks is going to be re-released on a compilation in South Korea for Ulcerated Flesh Records! Things are really picking up, and I really want to know how things turn out from here. (Especially now that we are currently dealing with the spread of Covid-19).
Either way, goregrind is something that I hold close to my heart, and it has been there for me at times where I felt like all was lost. Like a loud, splattery, security blanket, it has comforted me. This writing does not function as an essay on the history of goregrind... or its uprising. It is more me explaining my history with it, and how and why I love this sub-genre of music so fucking much. The classics are great, and the new up-and-coming artists are just as good. For some, goregrind is a tongue in cheek joke. For me, it is love. That's right. Goregrind is love. Goregrind is life.
Devin out.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Single Review: Ghastly Shadows "Envy/Siren" (Independent) by Dave Wolff

Band: Ghastly Shadows
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Country: USA
Genre: Minimal darkwave
Single: Envy/Siren
Format: Digital
Label: Independent
Release date: April 5, 2019
“Envy/Siren” is the second official release from this Boston-based one man project fronted by John McLaren, following the debut single “Alone” which was released digitally in June 2018. Ghastly Shadows is a fairly new project of a couple years, and its Facebook, Youtube, Spotify and Bandcamp profiles offer little information on how McLaren got started or what he wants to achieve with it, so I’m basically doing this review from scratch. The first time I heard “Envy/Siren” I thought he was primarily doing a retro new wave project. That influence features prominently here, but after a few more listens the darker aspects of McLaren’s work are beginning to grow on me. To a certain point, “Envy/Siren” sounds like The Doors reborn as goth/darkwave, mostly because the keyboards introducing “Envy” somewhat re-interpret the keyboard intro to “Strange Days”. From there we hear a fair amount of build-up to a variety of electronic and atmospheric sounds with lyrical concepts of being trapped in a nightmare of solitude and emptiness accompanied by a deep desire to escape. The lyrics are what gripped me the most about this song, as they describe being locked inside a tomb of doubt while sleeping at night, and praying for death to come and grant release from slithering shadows and screaming voices from beyond. The lethargic tone in which McLaren puts these images across, reiterating them time and again, are even colder and darker than the music he composed for them. “Siren” takes a different tone, boasting images of unholy incantations and vows of revenge from the grave, presumably from a witch who lived many centuries ago whose soul is trapped in an endless abyss. Although it’s uncertain how this siren of the night departed from this mortal coil, we feel her longing to return as strongly as “Envy” conveyed a desire to escape to the other side. This song has a similar variety of sounds with driving percussion comparable to Sisters Of Mercy’s “Floodland” album. Strangely these two songs complement one another as if this single is about two souls who long to meet in this existence or the next. –Dave Wolff

Lineup
John McLaren: Vocals, all instruments

Track list
1. Envy
2. Siren





SLAVE TO THE GRIND (2018) - Full Documentary (Death By Digital)

Shared from Death By Digital's Youtube channel:

As we all are forced into an unprecedented pandemic it might be nice for us to have some films to watch during our downtime. I have friends from the worldwide grindcore community who have been struck by the Coronavirus in many different ways.

If you wish to purchase the film on DVD: www.deathbydigital.com. Please note that it will not ship until after this pandemic is lifted. If you wish to purchase the film for download, you can at https://www.reelhouse.org/deathbydigital/slave-to-the-grind

Stay safe. Stay inside. Enjoy the film!

Interview with UK Music Producer Neil Hudson by Kelly Tee

Interview with Neil Hudson, UK Music Producer

We metalheads are inclined to throw our headphones on, turn the volume up and bang our heads as much as we can. And being the over thinker I was born to be, this dissonant, dark and violently wonderful sound flooding my ears and smashing my sensory system often pushes other thoughts upon me. Thoughts such as, what went into pulling all this savagery together? The writing process, how their compositions were created, what drove their aggression and the time, sweat and effort they put into continually give us brutal listening pleasure.
I was speaking with Neil Hudson, the vocalist & guitarist for the UK based extreme metal band Krysthla, who also happens to be a production engineer. It got me thinking (because that’s what I do), who are these men and women working in the background mixing and mastering the metal injection for our souls? How important are they to the bands, the metal scene and the metal industry in general?
This prompted me to have a more in-depth conversation with Neil, who is also the founder and owner of Initiate Audio and Media about his role as a production engineer, the challenges he faces overseeing and managing the recording and production for various bands, and the personal reward he feels with his roles and responsibilities throughout the production process.

Hi Neil, Thank you for your time. What was the driving force that took you on a path toward music production?
You're very welcome! It's nice to get to chat about this stuff... I can talk for hours, so be warned.
I've always been interested in how music differed from band to band or genre to genre. My Father loved big band swing and Nat King Cole while my Mother loved Barry Manilow. Very different sounding due to the recording techniques and technologies of their time, but very vibe driven and centered around great songwriting and arrangement which is key for any music fundamentally. My sisters listened to 80's pop; a lot of Michael Jackson, A-HA, Duran Duran etc. I loved all their music choices but realized early on they all sounded different. It wasn't until a new next door neighbour moved in and woke me with loud guitars one Saturday morning that my world was truly rocked, however! This was back in the early '90s. After sitting watching him play for an hour or so I convinced my Mother I NEEDED a guitar. One trip to the car boot sale and £5 later and I was the proud owner of my first acoustic guitar! It was then I started delving into recording myself to write material. I'd record myself into the pinhole mic on an old tape recorder, play the tape back through my slightly bigger stereo (much louder) and record onto another tape jamming over the top! It sounded awful but I had so much fun creating something from nothing. It was the biggest spark I'd ever experienced in my life and made me determined to figure out how to record properly. A few years later I started a new band called Violation and the other guitarist had a Yamaha four-track tape recorder. That was the moment I'd been waiting for. I learned how to mix, use loops, add layers and mix down so I could add more layers. Then in 2005/2006, I had my first laptop with real music software and the rest is history! A whirlwind learning curve that's still happening 26 years later. I still own my first acoustic guitar.

In addition to owning Initiate Audio and Media, you are the vocalist and guitarist in the extreme metal band Krysthla. Has your experience as a Music Producer helped you grow and improve as a musician? And vice versa? And if so, how?
Very much so. You have to be efficient with your playing, learning to record on tape. No editing or undo buttons. It's made me a much tighter player which makes recording much quicker and more enjoyable. I try and push everyone I work with to get it right at the source. So much more character in the takes which has a huge cumulative effect on the record as a whole. If everyone is crushing their takes the energy is undeniable. Not everyone is a great player (always comes to light when recording, unfortunately). But over the years of learning about recording techniques, you pick up a few tricks to help things along if it's not all going to plan, let's say.

Go back to the start and tell me when and how you started Initiate Audio Media? And how has your growth as a Music Producer evolved from then to now?
I quit my job back in 2013 to go full time with the music. It was a real leap of faith, which started when a friend recorded his band's EP with a local engineer at the time and they weren't happy with the results. He asked me out of the blue if I could remix it as he knew I did my stuff but it wasn't recorded too well so we did it from scratch. I'd only recorded my stuff before that so I was straight in at the deep end working with new people who were expecting instant results! Luckily it turned out pretty good. Immediately after that, the studio where the engineer worked was looking to get someone new in, so I met them and started renting the studio space at the local rehearsal rooms and recorded a bunch of bands over the next year or so. I moved out and relocated to Krysthla HQ where I'm still based today. The rehearsal rooms weren't the best place to have a studio, unfortunately. The main thing I learned from then until now is how to manage the relationships between each member and me. A five-piece band plus I are thirty different relationships interacting during the whole recording process. Some people are funny, some are quiet, and some have all the talent but sit at the back saying nothing while the gobby asshole tries to steamroll everything but contributes nothing! Figuring out how to manage all those personalities harmoniously while keeping the schedule moving is probably the hardest part. It only takes one person to start struggling with a section and you see their real personality VERY quickly (smile). Vst's, eq, compression. Anyone can do that stuff. Again, no undo button when guys start yelling at each other.

Aside from managing the sound recording and the production of a band's performance music, what else might Music Producers become involved in that we might not be aware of? Co-writing? Coaching? Etc.
I try not to get my paws too grubby with the music if I can help it. I hear about a lot of guys trying to rewrite stuff when it doesn't need it, or even deleting sections when everyone has gone home for the night. I let the band do their thing mostly. Unless there's a section which REALLY sucks of course, then I'll grab the guitar. In cases like that the band is normally already aware that section needs work and are open to a fresh idea or two. I do try to push the players to the limits of their tightness so occasionally I'll suggest a change of style or to try a different pick/stick for a section here and there. You learn a lot about your playing when you're under scrutiny, that's for sure. To be honest my main role is Chief Councillor!! Haha. When the days start to drag and everyone starts getting reflective you hear all sorts of life stories. Some funny, some sad. There are some moments where members open up about things. We stick the kettle on and talk it out. Settles some guy’s nerves. They come in the next day and smash it out of the park!! I need to add a life coach to my business card.......

What is your production process? From Sound recording, mixing and audio mastering? Walk us through it.
This can change from band to band. I work with some super prepared guys! They have MIDI drums ready and scratch track guide guitar so anyone can go first! But as a rule, it's drums first, then record drum samples. Rhythm guitars next then the bass. Clean guitar and lead after bass. Give the lead guys a chance to warm up and make sure they know their stuff while the bass is being tracked. Then vocals last. Occasionally I'll track one bass track then do a vocal, and repeat for the rest of the record. Some vocalists are good for a couple of hours max before they hit the wall so breaking up the session between bass and vox gives them a breather. I kinda mix as I go most of the time. You can hear what needs to go whereas it's going down and you can get the vibe of the band that way. I much prefer that. If I mix at home, occasionally I'll find myself down the rabbit hole. Too many eq moves a bit more of this and that. Maybe one more nudge there. And you can easily find yourself miles away from what the original vibe was on the day. It gets a little surgical too. Less organic sounding. I always have a reference track in the session so I can keep checking my levels and the extreme low/high end of things. Your ears get tired without you noticing. After 8/10 hours sat in the chair you can make some TRULY awful decisions, haha! Mastering I like to do a few days after mixing. Give the ears a rest and double-check everything with a fresh outlook. I try not to get too carried away with the loudness war with mastering, although it's less of a thing than it was a few years ago. Some stuff works well slammed to hell and some with more dynamics.

How far do your production capabilities stretch? I.e. do you dive deeper into the entrepreneur role and manage the band's budgets, schedules, hiring studio engineers, etc?
Once the dates are booked that's pretty much it. I'm the sole engineer and I set the schedule so it's pretty straightforward, most of the time (smile).

The Music Producer can often wear many hats as a competent arranger, composer, programmer, musician or songwriter who can bring fresh ideas to a project. Have there been projects where you have had to wear all those hats? And how was this for you?
Yes. Many! Even though, as I said earlier, I don't like to get my paws too grubby with the riffs unless it's necessary. There are times where the guys are so stuck on a riff, and we've wasted way too much time on it already so I'll just rip it out in a couple of takes and we can move on. It's a last resort scenario, but if the schedule is taking a battering it's my job to keep us on track. I do enjoy thinking a few steps ahead while we're tracking through. Hearing ways of lifting choruses or giving more menace to a vocal as they're going down can add new life to a track, making it bigger than the band originally imagined it? Again, I don't do it all the time, just tastefully. It's awesome when it clicks though and everyone is like "Yeahhhhh that's fucking sick mate". Kinda reminds me how I used to feel tracking my first guitar on the crappy tape recorder and I thought I did something wicked!! haha

What do you look for in a band and their music when you are considering working with them? And what deters you from working with certain bands?
To be honest, I'll work with pretty much anybody. I'd be gutted if I thought someone didn't want to work with me, for whatever reason. Music is something we all love and take pride in. Even if you know you're not very good you still enjoy making music, and it's my job to find a way to make your music come to life and to make it something you're proud of! As long as you're passionate about your music, so am I.

How important are Music Producers to the metal industry?
I think with so many subgenres in metal these days it's easy to lose sight of a good song (totally subjective of course). Super technical bands blasting at 300bpm are awesome, and so are doomy bands holding a chord for six minutes, but the crazier it gets the smaller your audience becomes maybe? There will always be fans of mega extreme music which is great, but as a producer, I want everyone I work with to be as successful as possible. If I hear a little 'something' that could turn a super brutal track into a freak radio hit? I'll suggest looking at making it work. As I said, I don't go crazy with suggestions but it's a producer's job to make the songs as good as possible.

In your opinion, who are some of the most influential music producers in history? And what makes them so influential?
I don't follow many producers as such. I'm too busy concentrating on my work haha. Andy Wallace, though, without a doubt. He's done some unbelievable work with a huge range of clients from Jeff Buckley to Sepultura, etc. Colin Richardson, Russ Russell, and Andy Sneap too. All masters of modern metal!

Tell me about multitrack recording and how this changed the way for music production?
Being able to EQ and manipulate the sound of each input/track opened up a huge opportunity to improve the quality of recordings. Especially then moving up to digital format with no loss of quality with each bounced mix. Total game changer. For me, it introduced a much easier way to build ideas without having to have the whole piece written or even need an entire band! In my early days just learning how to balance frequencies was so much easier being able to solo instruments.

Given that some forms of metal thrive for an under-produced sound and mystery to their music through rough distortion, do you find you are approached by a specific genre of metal more than others? And why do you think this is?
I mostly work with death/groove/thrash metal. Everyone expects a certain standard with those genres of music so I'm kept pretty busy there. I'd LOVE to work with more black metal bands as there aren't that many in my area, unfortunately. I did an album with an electronic black metal band called Denigrata a few years ago. THAT was a challenge but one of my favourite records I've ever worked on. Lots of atmospheres, electronic blast/breakbeats with soprano and wailing screaming vocals!

Technology aside, how have you seen the music production industry evolve over the years? Is it evolving in the right direction?
It's certainly made recording easier, that's for sure! But it's definitely taking a lot of the human element out of the process. A lot of bands don't even bother recording real drums anymore which is bad news for studios and producers in general. The only saving grace is the best producers/engineers will rise to the top and the best bands will want their talents for arrangements and songwriting etc. The main downside, unfortunately, is everything being streamed for free means bands don't have the budget anymore that they can recoup through sales of CDs, etc. It's a vicious circle.

To bands who are considering engaging a music producer, what advice would you give them? What should bands gravitate toward and avoid when finding a good music producer?
Word of mouth is key. Talk to other bands who have worked with the studio/engineer you're interested in. A quick Facebook message will do. If they had a good time there and only have good things to say that's worth its weight in gold! Reputation is earned by being good at what you do and not being an asshole! Also, check out their work online. You can check real quickly if their sound is what you're after, and even if it's not quite your vibe you can still go for a chat and a cup of tea! Take a bunch of CDs with you and see if (after you've pointed out the finer details) it's something achievable at that studio! You never know, you might end up best mates (smile)!!

Lastly, please tell us about your Music Production business Initiate Audio and Media. Where can people find you, social media? Website? etc.
You can find me on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/initiateaudioandmedia, and to check out a little about me and my work go to the official website, https://www.initiateaudioandmedia.com/.
Feel free to drop me a message for any mixing or mastering enquiries. Be great to hear from you guys!
Lastly, I'd like to wish everyone in Australia all the love and luck in the world. Can't begin to imagine what you're all going through right now. Stay safe.

-Kelly Tee

Friday, March 20, 2020

Fiction: "After the Bomb" by M Teresa Clayton

After the Bomb
Fiction by M Teresa Clayton

The city looked like a trash heap for as far as the eye could see. Buildings no longer stood tall and proud, announcing the names of businesses and what had once been representative of the many people who gave the better part of their lives to the success of those companies. No windows to reflect the time of day as the sun made its way from east to west and no doors to welcome customers and clients when they came to call. Bones. Just bones of city life. There were no cries for help, no screams of terror, not a sound came from this landscape.

Where were the birds, the squirrels in the park in the center of this district and, as I stood there taking it all in, what district is this? There was no delineation between townships, there was no way to tell one neighborhood from the others. Bodies lie among the heap of stones but were burned beyond recognition. I couldn’t tell a child from an adult, a black man from a white man, an office worker from the tradesman. There were no fire engines, no ambulances, a few police cars that were barely recognized from the devastation, except for a blue or red light that survived the tumult and demolition.

I stood with two other men, wearing our protective suits and masks. The only sound made was the inhale and exhale of our own breathing through these masks. Three men. We were given our orders to go in and find survivors. We would soon be reporting to our superiors that no one survived. There simply wasn’t anything left of the city. We stood at ground zero and our equipment was resounding with rapid beeps, warning that the environment here was not safe. I wondered where we could go that would be safe?

We had no idea who was responsible for this attack. We had no idea if there was more to come. Where could we go to be safe? 

Each of us began to enter the debris, searching for anything that suggested life existed here. Joe went off to my right and Mike was further away to my left. I was center and in command of this recognizance mission. I heard my superior ask for a report. I tapped my microphone to respond and simply could not find the words. I needed to find the right metaphors for what simply could not be described in ordinary words. There was nothing ordinary here.

“Sir. This is Andrew Suskin reporting, Sir. I am standing approximately a mile within the city limits as I recall them. It’s difficult to explain what I am seeing here, Sir.”

“Can you see if any of the buildings are still standing?” “No, Sir, nothing remains here. I am looking at a boneyard of bricks and mortar and not one person is recognizable, burned, Sir. Burned beyond… I’m sorry, Sir, I cannot find the words. Death is everywhere, and our equipment is screaming at us. The radiation must be incredibly strong here. Do not enter zone three, Sir. I repeat, Do Not Enter Zone Three! I am calling my men back and we will report to base and decontamination. I pray the radiation has not reached us inside of our suits. I have never seen readings like this.

I looked down at my arm. It was shaking nervously, and the suit was black with soot and possibly something else. It seemed to be spreading up my arm, as if it had a mind of its own as if it were alive. “Joe, Mike, return point. We are getting the hell out of here.” I could feel something on my right leg moving. It felt a bit like water, but it was running up my leg at a steady pace.

“Andy, this is Mike here. Joe is down, I am looking at him right now and…” I could hear him gagging and possibly throwing up. “Mike, report what you see.” “Andy, his face is black, he is unconscious and not responding to any stimulation at all. His eyes, Sir…” Again, he choked.

“I’m sorry Sir, his eyes are no longer there. Just holes where they once were and his face is slowly being distorted.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing but I could still see the black substance moving slowly up the arm of my suit, possibly looking for a way inside. Something was certainly inside my suit where my right leg is.
“Meet me at the point. Now”

“Do we just leave him here, Sir?” “If you think you can drag him with you, then let’s get him back to base. If not, leave him and get yourself back to point before this spreads.

“Sir? Before it spreads?”

“Report back immediately, soldier.”

I ran back to our point of entry, to what once was a bustling city, filled with shoppers, workers, children in the park… now surrounded by a gray mist over everything and a deafening silence inside. Mike came running toward me. I could see the black substance on the front side of is suit.

“Let’s get out of here, get cleansed and try to get this out of our minds.”

“Sir, your arm…”

“I am aware. You have it on the torso of your suit. Let’s get going now. I don’t want to find out what it is. Let the scientists figure it out.” We jumped into our jeep and began our return to base, using the same route we followed on the way in.

I tapped my mic, “Sir, we are about five minutes out and minus one. Joe… well, something attacked Joe and we were unable to remove him from the area.” No one spoke back.

“Sir, Andrew Suskin reporting Sir. Entering the perimeter of base. Come back?” No one responded.

We made it back to base and every man and woman was covered in this tar-like substance that seemed to be burning or consuming them. Some were worse than others, in different phases of decay.

“Mike, let’s get ourselves into decontamination and get out of these suits. I don’t know what is going on here, but we need to get to a safe place.”

Mike nodded in agreement.

We made our way to the decontamination area and hosed off before removing our suits. I took the chemical decontamination and sprayed my arm and leg, as well as Mike’s torso. Whatever this is, it was intelligent enough to find a way in.

“They nuked us. What else was in that bomb?” Mike asked nervously.

I looked at him and hesitated. Truthfully, I had no idea what was happening or how.

“The nuke would have flattened everything for miles and there would be a radiation cloud to be concerned about. This… this is something I’ve never seen or heard about. Perhaps it is a byproduct of the nuke. But, no organism could survive that.”

“Cockroaches”

I had to laugh. But after a short moment of levity, I had to think. What would be able to survive? Or, did the nuke release something? Did the radiation create a new organism that wasn’t expected?

The chemical shower felt good and seemed to stop the movement of the tarry black substance in its tracks. Both Mike and I got dressed in our uniforms and proceeded to assess the situation here at the post. No one had survived. We searched everywhere and everywhere we looked was covered in that living tar.

“Come on, soldier, we are getting out of here. Let’s head for Fort Leonard Wood and give report.”

I put my gun in my holster and put a rifle in my lap. In the back of the jeep, we added an arsenal of weapons in case of attack. Two soldiers would need enough firepower to possibly fight a much larger number of enemy forces.

Mike looked like he was going in front of a firing squad. The fear was shared by this soldier as well. I didn’t know what we would find in central Missouri. The city and outlining townships were no longer recognizable, they were gone, wiped off the map, and there was a new threat… a bi-product that could think and kill.

As we drove past the outlying areas that supported farms with cows and pigs that were empty. The ground was black, there were small black mounds lying everywhere. The thought that it had made its way this far from the drop site was disconcerting at best. Neither of us said anything despite the obvious visual observations being made. We made it to the post. A soldier at the gate screamed at us

“Turn around, get back, keep on driving and don’t turn around!”

I stepped out of the jeep and approached the soldier. “Is it here? How many men have survived? We will go in and get them out. It was at that moment that I became aware of the substance in his mouth. As he yelled out to us, black oily goo was spilling out. I ran back to the jeep. “Turn this jeep around.”

“Where do we go?”

“I don’t know. We’ll just keep driving until we find a place that has not been affected by this.”

“Sir. Your arm. I looked down and saw that the black tar was back. I quickly pulled my pant leg up and it was there as well.

“Mike, stop the jeep.” Mike pulled over and put the jeep in neutral.

“Sir?”

“Pull up your shirt.” Mike was near hysterical seeing the tarry substance on his torso. “What is it going to do to us?”

“I have no idea. I’m going to give something a try and hope it succeeds.” I got out and took the extra can of gas from the back of the jeep. “I’m going to pour some gas on my leg. I need you to light it up.”

“O my god, Sir. Are you sure about this?”

“It’s an order, Mike.”

I poured just enough gas to cover the mass and Mike struck the flint, lighting the liquid. I didn’t feel any burn, but the black tar did. It made a sound like a scream as it burned beneath the gasoline. As soon as I could feel the flame hitting skin, I threw myself on the ground and rolled to put out the fire. We both looked at my leg and there was no evidence of the tar. We did the same to my arm and then, Mike’s torso. There were small areas of burn but for the most part, we were unscathed, and the tar was gone.

“This is the only thing that will work. We have to go back to ground zero and set it on fire and then set everything under tar we see as we move across the country.”

Mike said nothing. He jumped into the driver’s seat and we turned to return to what once was the city of St. Louis.

We stopped at every gas station and rigged the pumps to let the gas flow freely into the streets and surrounding areas. Once out of harm’s way, we threw a few grenades into the mix and watched it explode into flames. It didn’t take long to leave a burning path behind us as we drove from town to town. It seemed we were the only survivors. The flames burned hot and high into the sky. The smoke was blocking out the light of the sun. Having driven for a day and a half, we found ourselves somewhere near the gulf.

I was shocked by what I saw there. Where water should have flowed in waves, a solid layer of black tar lay on top and the blackness went on to the horizon.

“Mike, we haven’t seen anyone alive between St. Louis and here. I imagine the same could be said for every city in every direction and, whatever that is out there, will have covered every waterway, all wildlife, and to kill it, we will have to burn down the rest.”

“What are you suggesting, Sir?” he asked.

“Sooner or later, we will be covered in this substance. If we try to survive, there is no water and no food. We could try the grocery stores for food and water, but I believe we will find those places covered in black, just as we have seen kitchens and restaurants lifeless beneath this alien substance.”

“Are you suggesting…” Mike stopped and looked at me with real fear. I already knew. It had been covering me for hours and had made it up to my neck and lower jaw.

“Are you prepared to die, Mike?” I asked.

Mike pulled his shirt up and looked down in horror. He immediately removed the shirt and saw that his arms were covered, and it was moving, expanding.

“Sir, it doesn’t hurt. I don’t know what it is doing to us, but it is not causing pain. Do you think it will take what it needs and then leave us? Perhaps there are survivors back there. Maybe this will go away, and all those people and animals will be okay. Do you think that is possible?”

I reached down to my belt and unclipped my last grenade. I made sure to do this without Mike’s knowledge. He was hoping for something that I knew could not be.

The tar substance had consumed its victims and everything in its path. There were no bodies to resurrect. There was no plant life to recover and now the water was completely covered in this substance. It was alive. I had no idea how long it could survive after it consumes everything on this planet. I just wanted to put us down humanely and I would try to do this without Mike’s knowledge, saving him any more fear. I pulled the pin and held the grenade in my hand.

“No matter what happens here, Mike, I’m sure that where we are going will be a much better place.” I lifted one arm to hug him close to me as I placed the other hand with the grenade between us. I released the lever.

Earth was no longer a beautiful blue and green orb sitting in the sky. It was now known as the “Black Planet” and no other life form would come near its gravitational pull. Did other life-forms know what had destroyed the planet? Did they know what the black tarry substance was?

The story told in other galaxies was that man and his killing machines had created their own destruction. Other stories told of something hitting the Earth from space and the black substance was an alien life form. No one really knew for sure. No one would ever come close enough to find the answer.

The Galactic Counsels agreed that blowing the planet up could release the substance and put other planets in jeopardy. They considered burning it, but without understanding how the blackness worked and survived, they feared the gases released could be fatal or the ashes would somehow enter the outer areas and again, pose a deadly threat.

So, the Black planet was watched as it stood as a reminder of just how vulnerable life on any planet really is.

13 O'Clock Movie Retrospective: 30 Days of Night (13 O'Clock Podcast)

On this installment of the Retrospective, Tom and Jenny are discussing the 2007 vampire film 30 Days of Night, based on the popular comic by Steve Niles. Thanks Rob for sending us the Blu-ray!
https://13oclockpodcast.wordpress.com/2020/03/20/13-oclock-movie-retrospective-30-days-of-night

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Split Review: Born Backwards/Shrivel Up "Born Backwards / Shrivel Up - split" (Independent) by Devin Joseph Meaney

Location: Chicago, Illinois
Country: USA
Genre: Goregrind
Band: Shrivel Up
Location: Illinois
Country: USA
Genre: Goregrind
Split: Born Backwards / Shrivel Up - split
Format: Digital (physical format release info TBA)
Label: Independent
Release date: February 23, 2020
I originally wanted to review some black metal, but when I logged on to Youtube, this release popped up in my suggested feed. A split between Born Backwards and Shrivel Up. Before today I never heard of either of these bands, but the whole split is under ten minutes and it is listed as grindcore. Being the genuine grind warrior that I am, I decided that the black metal could be put off until later. I guess it was time to grind? Here we go!
From Born Backwards I guess I was expecting straight grindcore, but this is without question leaning in the goregrind direction. There are deep pitched gutturals alongside ''clean'' screams and gargles. The drums have that glorious ping snare sound that we all know and love, and overall, I really dig this first portion of the split.
When Shrivel Up took over, I was taken back. These recordings are much more punishing and harsh than the Born Backwards tracks. I did enjoy the first portion of the split, but the second half is much more abrasive. The recording quality is messier and less refined, but either way, these tracks were quite enjoyable.
Both of these bands deserve mad respect. So give these tracks a spin, post them to your Facebook, send them to your friends, and do your part to get this split out there. I know I will be doing just that! –Devin Joseph Meaney

Lineup:

Born Backwards
Sean: Guitars, vocals
Max: Drums, vomit

Shrivel Up
Tony: Vocals
Ryan: Guitar, vocals
Dylan: Drums

Track list:
[Born Backwards]
1. Tony Smith Doesn't Like The Smiths
2. Chips and Smegma
3. Hacked for Fun
4. Pestilent Razrez Burzum
5. Angry Amputation
6. Rock n Roll Shitcago
[Shrivel Up]
1. Resin Skeleton
2. An Ode To Big Doinks In Amish
3. Walking Under The Social Ladder & Living To Tell The Tale
4. Life On Halt
5. Progressive Thinkers Do Ethical Bumps


Full Length Review: Azure Emote "The Third Perspective" (Selfmadegod Records) by Dave Wolff

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Country: USA
Genre: Avant garde death metal
Full length: The Third Perspective
Format: Slipcase CD, digital
Release date: March 6, 2020
It’s been seven years since we last heard new material from the US death metallers Azure Emote, as its members are involved in a legion of other bands. Their third and latest full length “The Third Perspective” shows how colossal, epic music results from years of experience and planning. Is it groundbreaking enough to redefine extreme metal? It’s too early to answer yet, but since it’s been made available to the public it’s been described as “a sonic masterpiece”, “an invigorating acid trip” and “an abstract picture of existential nihilism”. What’s certain is Azure Emote is a band that defies any and every expectation of what a death metal album should sound like. If the progressive ideas of Celtic Frost, Amorphis, Cephalic Carnage and Arcturus challenged your ideas of broad-minded, cutting edge music, Azure Emote will take you to the next level. With guest musicians from Death, Fear Factory, Therion, Deicide, Hate Eternal and others assisting in the recording process, this album achieves sophistication and refinement you may or may not have imagined possible, depending on who you usually listen to. The first track “Loss” makes it clear from the outset that Azure Emote doesn’t specialize in hashing, rehashing and re-rehashing muddled noise and inarticulate vocals. The term “evil has no boundaries” applies as “The Third Perspective” not only thinks outside the box but throws it out the window. Here you get experienced, elaborate death metal enhanced by black metal, prog metal, symphonic metal and more untried ideas than would be expected from an album exhibiting brutality and dexterity with cold, atmospheric, surreal, operatic and futuristic themes. While the guitars and bass are not downtuned as many death metal albums are, the heaviness and depth of this album come from its abundance of different sounds, especially the strings and electronics added in the most inopportune of places. I should add the lyrics are phrased fluently and comprehensibly for all their guttural thunder, and the clean singing meant to complement the gutturals paints a larger picture of what death metal can continue to broaden if a band has the proper vision to broaden it. –Dave Wolff

Lineup:
Mike Hrubovcak: Vocals, flute, maracas, straw, harmonica, keyboards, samples, electronics, drum programming
Ryan Moll: Guitars, bass
Mike Heller: Drums

Track list:
1. Loss
2. Curse Of Life
3. Dark Realms
4. Negative Polarity
5. Three Six Nine
6. Solitary Striving


Monday, March 16, 2020

Introducing: Spike Polite & Sewage (GigRadar)

"Introducing: Iconic New York City punk rockers Spike Polite's Sewage. We took a look at the band's fascinating backstory, which includes being involved in police protests, playing a gig supporting Biggie Smalls aka Notorious B.I.G, and befriending the Ramones. We also checked out their new music, including Runaway Rebel, and had a chat with frontman Spike Polite to find out more."

https://gigradar.co.uk/2020/03/14/introducing-spikepolitesewage