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APRIL 1, 2017

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Music Review: The CRUCIFIED – The Complete Collection

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music-review_the-crucified-the-complete-collectionThe CRUCIFIED
The Complete Collection
Tooth & Nail Records

The Crucified was one of those bands that I sadly discovered too late in the game. By the time I was aware of their very existence (that being about, say, 1994, around the time when Tooth & Nail was able to re-release their earlier stuff), they had broken up and went off to other individual endeavors. Over time, I did come across their standard discography, but as far as getting my hands on some of the demos that weren’t re-released by Tooth & Nail, that seemed like a pipe dream. Until 2009, when the Tooth & Nail label released a boxed set featuring their entire discography, including those demos, all remaster and collected on a two-disc set.

Disc One features all the songs from their demos: 1985’s KGB (“Apathy”, “All You Need”, “Jesus”, “We’re In A War”, “G.O.D.”, “Crucify Me”, “He Is The Reason”, “I’m Not Afraid (Of Nuclear War)”, “Bummer”, and “I Am”); 1986’s Take Up Your Cross (“Silent Scream”, “You Don’t Understand”, “G.O.D.”, “Seal Number Four”, “Conviction”, “No Decay”, “This Howl”, “Be Warned”, “Rebellion”, “All You Need”, “Problem Solution”, “Directed Youth”, “Washed Out/Apathy (Medley)”, “Freedom”, and “I Want To Be A Bug”); 1987’S Nailed (“I’m Not A Christian Punk”, “Death To Death”, “Your Image”, “God In A Cage”, “Crucified With Christ”, “Give It Up”, and “Disposal”); 1989’S Live At The New Order (“Conviction / Seal Number Four”, “Disposal”, “I’m Not A Christian Punk / Death To Death”, and “Your Image”); and two that were recorded back in 1993 before the band called it quits, that were originally released on a couple of obscure compilation albums put out by Ocean Records that are long out of print (“Straining Life”, and “Power Of God”).

Disc Two includes all the tracks from the two full-length recordings, 1989’s The Crucified (“The Pit”, “Diehard”, “Your Image”, “Getting A Grip On Things”, “Hellcorn”, “Rise”, “One Demon To Another”, “Unity”, “A Guy In A Suit And The Pope”, “Back To The Cross”, “Confidence”, “The Insult Circus”, “Thread”, and “Crucial Moment”), and 1991’s The Pillars Of Humanity (“Intro/Hateworld”, “It’s All About Fear”, “The Wrong One”, “Mindbender”, “Path To Sorrow”, “Fellowship Of Thieves”, “Focus”, “The Strength”, “Blackstone – So-Called Living, 1991”, and “The Pillars Of Humanity”).

If you got the physical collection, there’s a third disc that is a DVD featuring various live performances and other rare footage of the band between 1987 and 1992. Mind you, I bought my copy from Google Play as a download, and only got the first two discs. But, really, it was the music I was much more interested in, so the lack of the DVD is no big deal. Though, I’m sure the more hardcore of collectors out there would strongly disagree.

Overall, for the price of the thing, it’s a very good deal. You get four full-length albums, a couple of EPs and a two-song maxi-single’s worth of music, some of which hadn’t been available for a very long time. One of my pet peves about the original studio releases was the rather thin sounding production; here, all the songs sound nice and thick again.

For my money, getting this was pretty much an answer to prayer. Okay, maybe half-joking on that. But it is a really good thing to get for your hardcore punk/crossover history.

Music Review: JOIN THE DEAD – Join The Dead

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1-14 - Music Review: JOIN THE DEAD - Join The Dead

Join The Dead
Roxx Records

Join The Dead is a band that consists mostly of former members of Deliverance and Fasedown, and if you know anything about those two bands, then that should be enough to get you interested in this particular release to begin with. You can actually stop reading here and go directly to whatever source of music buying you use to find and purchase this self-titled four-song EP, and I wouldn’t blame you whatsoever for doing so. However, if you’re reading this and have no idea what I’m talking about, I would be remiss to not go on and explain to you why you really need to pick up this release.

As mentioned above, Join The Dead is really a four-song EP that was originally released by the band as a promotional-only CD. However, Roxx Records had the good idea to release it to the general public, both as a digital download of the four-song EP, and as a physical release that features the EP, plus 11 extra tracks of demos and a live cut from each of the band members’ collective past. For all intents and purposes, I’ll be covering the deluxe physical release.

The first four songs (“Mask Of Fear”, “Out Of Breath”, “Self-Inflicted Pain”, “Idol Faith”) are from Join The Dead EP, and boy howdy, if you decided to just stop with those four and call it good, I would not blame you whatsoever. These songs are fantastic thrashy Testament-inspired HEAVY METAL the likes of which we need more of. They’re heavy, they have a good groove and can hit speeds that will rearrange your spine if you’re not too careful, with vocals that are delivered with a hardcore attitude and a thrash attack. I did note, though, the song “Idol Faith” seems to have co-opted a bit of the Deliverance tune “Self-Monger” that’s a bit too uncanny to be a mere coincidence. Whatever. They’re fantastic, and I want a full-length full of more of this. It’s been four years now.

Moving to the bonus stuff, we have two songs from the Decadence demo from 1989 (“Killing Disorder”, “Disgraced”) that are 1980s style hardcore punk; three songs from the Testimony demo from 1991 (“Blinded”, “Strings Of The World”, “In The Dark”) that are thrash that kind of suffers from some bad production quality; an instrumental from Michael Phillips (“Sea Of Glass”), three songs from the Synagog demo in 1995 (“Existent”, “Steps Of Mankind”, “Idol Faith”) and a Fasedown demo from 1999 (“Hallow”), then it caps off with a live rendition of “In U” by Deliverance.

Overall, I would say that, whether you go with just the four-song Join The Dead EP, or get the Roxx Records physical CD with all the extra goodies, you’re going to come out of this satisfied. I really hope this is just a taste of things to come, and not a one-off project.

Music Review: CHASM – Gye Nyame

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CHASM - Gye Nyame
Gye Nyame
Boot To Head

Heavy, fast, snotty, in-your-face…this is old school hardcore punk rock at its rawest and finest. One of Boot-To-Head Record’s bands, they released this full-length and the 7-inch Squander, Squander The Bright New Dawn on the underground punk and hardcore label. All of the songs from Squander… are featured on this CD. The lyrics are upfront, and in-your-face Christian as they come, sticking an unwavering musical finger in your eye socket. Not for the suburban Hot Topic punk rock posers…

Music Review: CHASM – Squander, Squander The Bright New Dawn

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CHASM - Squander, Squander The Bright New Dawn
Squander, Squander The Bright New Dawn
Boot To Head

While I’m not a big fan of the sugary commercial punk that’s out there (how big of an oxymoron is that?), I do have a deep-seated respect for the unsigned, unknown and totally underground punk bands that you have to dig to find. There’s a rawness there that would only be lost to slick production.

‘Squander, Squander The Bright New Dawn’, a 7-inch by the highly underrated band Chasm, evokes images of really, really early Crucified, Black Flag and the Misfits. Hard, fast and to the blunted point would be the best way to describe the style here. “Word Of Faith” takes a jab at the “name it and claim it” teachings; “MTV Generation” and “Race War” denounces the crass commercialization and the public’s tendency to eat it all up blindly; “Squander The Dawn” again deals with being dooped into thinking everything’s better than it really is; “Last Night” calls for accountability in our Christian walk.

I could say something ultra-cheesy like “All the Green Day and MxPx fans need to be taken to [old] school”. . .oh, wait, I just did. . .heh, heh. . .I’ll just say that if you consider yourself underground punk, get this 7-inch into your collection. . .

Music Review: ARISE SKATES

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Arise Skates

Arise Skates
Star Song

As far as I know, Arise Skates is a soundtrack to a Christian video movie that I can’t seem to find (if anyone knows anything on this, by all means, let me know. It’s been dogging me for five years now).

I would recommend this little-known compilation CD to those who’re looking for a couple of classic hard-to-find tunes, and are quite prolific at hitting the skip button on the CD player. Why? The heavy cuts- 7th Angel’s “Tormented Forever”, The Crucified’s “Hellcorn” and “Your Image”, and Bride’s “Everybody Knows My Name” are sandwiched between such Top 40 and rap fare as Stephen Wiley, D.O.C., One Way Up, and S.F.C.

Far too few heavy cuts to warrant anything more than a casual listen, but at least they’re rarities, and for the $2 asking price at most mail order stores, it could stand a casual investment (just remember to demand $1.50 back in change). . .

Music Review: UNASHAMED – Silence

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unashamed - silenceUNASHAMED
Tooth & Nail Records

As I have whined talked about before, there was a rather severe drought when it came to good metal in the 1990s.  I don’t think I really need to start kicking that undead horse again (at least not for a while); needless to say, since the saying goes “nature abhors a vacuum” (or something like that), what came to take the place of good metal was this thing that became known as “hardcore”.  Well, what morphed out of the hardcore movement in the 1980s, really.  I can’t really go into the details in what is supposed to be just an album review, and I’m the last person to actually call himself an authority on the 1990s hardcore scene, but from what I observed first-hand from the music and the fans was, there was a lot of passion without a lot of follow-through. And that is the nice way of putting it, really.

Anyway, what this pointless little preface is trying to cover up is my utter lack of actually “getting” what the allure of hardcore is.  Unashamed landed in my collection a number of years ago, in the midst of the whole underground hardcore renaissance (for lack of a better term) in the 1990s, because I had friends who really glommed to the scene, and thus I decided to check out Unashamed as they were toted as one of the favorites in the genre.

Silence was Unashamed’s first release on the still fledgling Tooth & Nail Records (before they came up with the Solid State Records imprint, where all of the hardcore bands on the label were moved to since then).  After listening to this record a few times…yeah, I still don’t get it.  Yes, I realize that hardcore is another branch from the Metal Family Tree (distant cousin, maybe), and I also realize that the whole hardcore movement is more about the passion than the quality of the music itself, but…co’mon, is it a crime to want more for your bangover material than three or four basic power chord riffs pounded out atonally, with some guy shouting at the top of his lungs about stuff (when he’s not doing that oft-clichéd spoken word thing that I always found rather annoying)?  I can’t really understand why anyone would want to listen to nothing but this kind of music all the time, but they existed…I knew a bunch of them personally.  And you young’uns think that hipsters are annoying, you have no idea.

But, anyway, Silence is…an album.  By Unashamed.  One that I probably won’t listen to after this review, and will keep around more as a Christian metal history piece than something I would enjoy.