Music Review: VARIOUS ARTISTS – Hard And Heavy From Down Under

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hard and heavy from down underVARIOUS ARTISTS
Hard And Heavy From Down Under
Rugged Records / Rowe Productions
1996

So, since I finished up the reviews of the remaining Australian Metal Compilation releases, I felt it was appropriate to do a review of the American release that featured cuts from Australian metal bands, Hard And Heavy From Down Under. I’ve only seen this CD once, at a small family owned Christian bookstore tucked away inside one of the malls in Omaha, Nebraska back in the mid-1990s, within their paltry “Rock” section of the music wall. Hardly any information as to the history behind this release can be found, although there are entries on the standard music archive sites that I use for research.

Hard And Heavy From Down Under was essentially a collaboration between Rowe Productions, which released the original Australian Metal Compilations, and Rugged Records, which started up as a label in the early to mid-1990s as a place for old 80s metal bands to retire to, originally. Then it turned into yet another alternative type label, but that’s for a different rant. Anyway, from what I could gather, this was released here in America as an easier way for us Yank metalheads to check out the bands on the Rowe Production label from Australia, without paying exhuberant shipping prices.

The compilation starts with a cut from Mortification, “Peace In The Galaxy”, which first appeared on the EnVision EvAngeline release. Interesting way to kick things off. Next is two cuts from the band Cry Mercy, “Time To Go” and “D. A. M.”, both from their self-titled release. Then, it’s some death metal goodness from Metanoia — “Acute Obliteration” and “Dimensions Of Life” — both from the In Darkness Or In Light release. Then it’s the three-part Plague suite by Screams Of Chaos (“Fighting For Breath”, “The New World” and “Destroy The Plague”), which was lifted from the second Australian Metal Compilation release, Raise The Dead. But, that’s not all this compilation lifted from that release, as there are two cuts from Embodiment that were found only on the Raise The Dead compilation (“Loophole”, “Incorporate Body”). And we’re not done pilfering from the Australian Metal Compilation series, as these are followed by a couple of cuts from the hardcore band Callous that appeared on the third Australian Metal Compilation (“Hate” and “The Mind That Rots”), and then two cuts from Ethereal Scourge that appeared on the second Australian Metal Compilation (“Death Of Hades” and “Tombthroat”).

Back in the day, when I first encountered this CD, I held off purchasing it because, save for the two Cry Mercy cuts, I already had all the songs on here. And even though I didn’t have the two Cry Mercy songs, I did have one, “Shut Up And Listen”, from the first Australian Metal Compilation. I was good. Even now, I just picked it up as a curiosity. To me, this wasn’t that big of a deal, as I mentioned, I already had everything this sampler featured. But, if you’re not really up on the global Metal community, here’s a good crosscut of what used to be on the Rowe Productions label back in the day. Worth a look, if you can find one at a good discounted price somewhere.

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Music Review: VARIOUS ARTISTS – Australian Metal Compilation: Godspeed

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australian metal compilation - godspeedVARIOUS ARTISTS
Australian Metal Compilation: Godspeed
Rowe Productions
1994

Back in 1994, Steve Rowe — the founder of the band Mortification — started up his own indie label named Rowe Productions, as a means to help promote the underground Christian metal bands, not only in Australia, but all over the world. As such, the first release on the fledgling label was a rather ambitious compilation of Australian metal bands called Godspeed.

I purchased my copy back in 1997, at a much-missed record shop that specialized in Christian metal. I figured it was time to get about doing a proper review for this one, as I’ve already reviewed the second in the compilation series. Here goes, then…

Cry Mercy – “Shut Up And Listen”
Decent groove metal tune, good hook; this one seems slightly different than the version that appeared on their self-titled release…

Mortification – “Time Crusaders”
This is the studio version of the song that originally first appeared on the Live Planetarium release. This is the first time the studio version showed up, as it wasn’t included on the Blood World release, like “Symbiosis” did, for some reason. Anyway, good cut regardless…

Nu Humans – “Shattered”
Decent heavy metal cut, good riff, bit tinny on the production, but listenable…

Discarnated – “William Melancholy”
Melodic death metal with a pretty good groove and some doomy bits hither an yon, good cut…

Doxology – “Fight”
Melodic heavy metal with a good riff and decent, if muddled, production…

Deracination – “Fourth Dimension”
Rather good straight-forward death metal tune, from their four-song demo that came out after the full-length. You know, it’s really high time that and the four-song demo get the remaster/re-release treatment. But, I digress…

Harbinger – “The End Is Near”
good NWOBHM riff going, builds up to a rather good straight heavy metal cut…

Krioni – “Black”
Melodic metal cut, female vocals, bit of a poppish veneer to it. Catchy hooks, not too bad for what it is…

Screams Of Chaos – “Eyes Of Chaos”
Interesting industrial cover of the Light Force song. This was my first exposure to Screams Of Chaos, by the way, one of the better finds to grace my collection…

Beheadoth – “Mine Heart Doth Beseech Thee (O Master)”
This cut is actually an early incarnation of the better-known Black Metal project Horde. This song is in keeping with the blistering, face melting second wave Black Metal sound, and is one of the best cuts on this compilation…

Rockin’ Rabbies – “Be Alert”
Representing the quirky hardcore punk genre is Rockin’ Rabbies. The sound is befitting the name, really, as it’s straight forward and snotty…

Embodyment – “Dishallowent Grounds”
Not to be confused with the American post-hardcore band Embodyment, this Australian Embodyment (they would go on to change the “y” to an “i” later) features a doomy death metal cut that is pretty good…

Justice – “Proven Infallible”
Straight-forward hard rock cut, good hook and riff going, but rather bland in the execution…

Metanoia – “Ripped In Two”
Really good Death Metal cut, originally from the Screaming Fetus demo; this also was my first exposure to this great Death Metal band, who fortunately didn’t just release one full-length like Deracination and Discarnated did…

Ignite – “Sanctuary”
Now, this is a good doom metal cut, with a raw and heavy groove and baritone vocals…

Thrash Puppies – “Fastest Song In The World”
Crossover thrash, again with the interesting name choices. This one is decent, if a little standard, if you get what I’m saying, here…

Rosanna’s Raiders – “Mr. Magic”
And ending the compilation with something of a wet splat is this early cut from Rosanna’s Raiders, which is an odd addition to the collection, as the band was more commercial rock than actual metal, per se. Regardless, kind of a weak cut to go out on…

So, here we are. For a compilation, it’s a pretty decent collection, running a good portion of the Metal spectrum with the styles and genres represented on here. For the most part, there’s nothing too bad with the production quality with each song, as I think Steve just took the songs directly from the demos and didn’t do much tweaking. But, I could be wrong about that. Overall, the Godspeed collection is something to get for the fact that there are some good rare cuts on here, including the first instance of Mortification’s “Time Crusaders” studio cut, with only a couple of cuts I’d skip over.

Music Review: XL & DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR – Offensive Truth vol. 1+2

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xl & death before dishonor - offensive truth vol 1xl & death before dishonor - offensive truth vol 2

XL & DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR
Offensive Truth vol. 1+2
Independent
2016

XL & Death Before Dishonor. They are one of those bands that sadly never got the respect they more than deserved back in the day. They released their debut album, Sodom And America, in 1993, but instead of being recognized for being the genuine article as far as the burgeoning Rap/Rock hybrid that was emerging in the very early 1990s (before it got lumped in with the Nu Metal tag later in the decade), they kind of got lost on the wayside, while bands like Pillar and Payable On Death got more attention. Fortunately, main man XL kept busy, releasing other albums quietly both with DBD and as a solo artist. Then, in 2016, the group released a double album entitled Offensive Truth vol. 1 and vol. 2.

In case you’re not familiar with XL & Death Before Dishonor, and thinking they’re just another P. O. D. wannabe band…no. You can maybe say they’re a Rage Against The Machine clone, but they were contemporaries, releasing their debut a year after Rage released theirs. However, I would say, if you want to make a more apt comparison, Body Count is closer to the mark. Regardless, XL& DBD is awesome. So, enough of that, and on to the album. Or albums, as it were.

Vol. 1 opens with “In Need Of Therapy”, a nice rocking track with an infectious hook and groove, and a catchy melodic chorus, and you realize that XL & DBD haven’t skipped a beat, in a manner of speaking. The music is heavy, but has a variety going with hardcore, metal, rock and funk grooves that keeps things from going stale. Vol. 2 continues on with this, giving us 20 solid tracks of rap/rock hybrid that will get your head bopping along, no matter what the speed.

Mind you, XL and the gang are talented enough as it is (a fact pointed out in “Yeah, I Know Right”). What makes this double album even more awesome is some guest spots by Deliverance main guy Jimmy P. Brown II (“Devastated”, “The Wilderness”, “Daddy’s Too Friendly” and “Corporate Elite”), Oz Fox from Stryper (“Best Friend, Worst Enemy”), musical Jack of all trades, but remembered most from Poor Old Lu., Jesse Sprinkle (“Because Of This”), Crucified guitarist and Applehead guy Greg Minier (“Rapist”), the guy from Crystal Lewis’ band, Joel Goodwin (“The Wrath To Come”), Whitecross and King James guitarist Rex Carroll (“Methamphetamine”) and Jim Chaffon from The Crucified and The Blamed, among others (“My Hour Of Desperation”). Also, there’s a redux of the song “Armed For Battle”, which was originally from their sophomore release, Live From Nineveh, another release there’s hardly any information about online. Trust me, it exists.

Bottom line, if you happen to be one of the people who picked up Sodom And America and wore that down to a nub, here’s two more that you’re going to love. If P. O. D. is your only idea of rap rock nu metal whatever with a Christian message, you really need to pick up Offensive Truth vol. 1+2. They don’t mess around or mince words. Which…okay, I’m beginning to see why maybe these guys didn’t catch on to your standard CCM crowd. Highly recommended.

NECRO SHOCK RADIO – 4-1-2017

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APRIL 1, 2017

Featuring cuts from:

NECRO SHOCK RADIO -February 18, 2017

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February 18, 2017

Featuring Cuts From:

Music Review: THY WILL BE DONE – Was And Is To Come

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1-20 - Music Review: THY WILL BE DONE - Was And Is To Come

THY WILL BE DONE
Was And Is To Come
Stillborn Records / Caroline Records
2007

Thy Will Be Done is a Providence, Rhode Island band that plays a type of metal that is just bloody infectious. It’s a kind of death metal with a groove to it, that flirts with the whole “deathcore” genre, but manages to not fall within that particular rut.

Was And Is To Come, their first full length release, is one of the heaviest and infectious slabs of modern death metal I’ve heard recently. Yeah, I admit to having been a bit late in the game, considering my limitations back in 2007, when this came out. But now, having finally gotten around to discovering this gem, I have to say that listening to this gives me the warm tingles that signify having a very, very good \,,/METAL\,,/ experience.

No, this isn’t pure, old school death metal. This has a heavy groove to it, like with Pantera or Lamb Of God, and there are some deathcore influences, like with In Flames and At The Gates, but the execution of which brings forth something that’s a bit more unquantifiable, like with DevilDriver’s style of modern death metal. Whatever label you want to slap onto this, all I know is I really, really like this, and I repent of only buying the one album. Time to go rectify this.

Music Review: STEP COUSIN – Experiments In Sound

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step cousin - experiments in sound
STEP COUSIN
Experiments In Sound
Independent
2001

Step Cousin is (was?) the side project of another metal band called Lordchain, a Missouri based band. Whereas Lordchain was more general metal, Step Cousin’s CD is a feast of classic thrashy, heavy stuff I haven’t heard since, well, let’s just say a long time. ‘Experiments In Sound’ is like mashing together Mortification’s ‘Break The Curse 1990’, Vengeance Rising’s ‘Human Sacrifice’, and Deliverance’s self-titled. Viola. Metal heavy on the thrash, with an equal dose of death vocals and melodic vocals. And here’s something that went out with the recent trend of anti-guitar heroes in metal bands- guitar leads! Oh, am I thankful these are starting to make a comeback! . This CD is a refreshing listen outside the recent glut of “metalcore” and nu metal flavors of the month. The lyrics seem to be directed to critics and nonbelievers, with a strong evangelical bent that doesn’t paint with broad strokes. The low point of the CD is the fact that it’s only half an hour long. Co’Mon! The highlight of the disc is the band’s stellar cover of Vengeance Rising’s “Can’t Get Out”. They don’t write ’em like that any more. Pity. Good thing this CD exists to keep the hope for good metal alive.

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