Monday, March 16, 2009

EIGHTEEN VISIONS: Until The Ink Runs Out

I recently had a conversation with Javier Van Huss, who runs several blogs including The Best Of Times, and who formerly played bass for Eighteen Visions about how perfect the Until The Ink Runs Out album was. He quit not long after this album was released and was probably better off for doing so. It's well-documented that I'm a fan of all things 18V, however the legitimately good material is what we'll be covering in this post.

"Until the Ink Runs Out was not 18 Visions first record, though it is arguably its best. It was the first record that really garnered national attention for the band.

We had recorded Lifeless at some Christian-run studio in Los Alamitos (xChorusx had also recorded there) and decided to record Yesterday is Time Killed at Doubletime studio in San Diego. Jeff Forrest was an interesting guy to say the least, but he had recorded Life Love Regret and Cheshire Cat, so we knew he was the shit behind a mixing board. I believe we had even done two other sessions there, one that never saw the light of day and one for the No Time For Love 7". I don't remember much about the recording of Until The Ink Runs Out except that as always, we were all open to trying new shit.

It was our first recording session with Keith and he was such a powerhouse. Say what you want about his voice, but the dude can riff like nobody's business. Song writing for the record was primarily done by Brandan and Keith, but everyone contributed, even James (who would jam out tunes on his broken acoustic and Ken would be left to translate). I'd say that I contributed the least to the actual writing of the songs, but heavily contributed to arranging them and adding aesthetic changes. To me, it wasn't about what you played, but how the fuck you played it.

Having signed with Trustkill, we entered the studio with every song written and mapped out, including samples and keyboards. I had written an insane keyboard part that was all but obliterated by a phaser effect and I also played piano on the last song. Being so prepared allowed us to complete the entire record in 4 days. Yesterday Is Time Killed was recorded and mixed in 20 hours for 600 dollars, and I think Until The Ink Runs Out was made for just over 1000. Everything ran smoothly in the studio. Ken had all of the samples prepared on his Korg Dr. Sample beforehand. I remember thinking the Back To The Future sample was silly, but it worked and I hear people all the time say "there's that word again..."

The Shining sample was interesting. Ken and I were huge Kubrik fans and Full Metal Jacket was constantly on in the tour van. The noise behind it is me playing my bass with a screwdriver and twisting the tuning pegs. The sample would prove invaluable in the event of a broken guitar string while playing live. Ken had been experimenting a lot with effects pedals and 808s, and could make his snare sound like a frog's ribbit. Brandan and Keith together were a massive and solid sound, with 5150s and Sonic Maximizers. We built 2 speaker cabs which we painted gold, to match the mic stand. My bass cabinet was 2 18's and 2 12's, and was a pain in the fucking ass to haul. We sounded massive, at least to ourselves.

Our live show/stage antics would solidify during this era; the imagery, hair, clothes, doll heads. James and I were in/graduating from beauty school at the time. We had to wear all black every day. Ken and James worked at Banana Republic and got amazing discounts on nicer clothes. We were visually influenced by the band Orgy. The Virgin Megastore was on our way to school, and we'd see the giant heads of Ryan Shuck and his posse and think about how cool they looked. We just wanted to get away from what everyone else was doing; the jerseys and headband flavor that dominated the scene. It was never intended to be serious or to start "fashioncore". We just wanted to have fun and be different. Really, how many bands sounded exactly the same as 18V in that era?

My swansong with 18V would be the summer of 2000. We toured with Throwdown, and had a pretty amazing time. We were friends with bands and kids all over the country. But the tour was plauged by lots of mechanical troubles and bickering. We missed 9 shows in 4 weeks due to breakdowns (not the kind you dance to). I remember one particularly heated argument between Brandan and myself in northern Florida that proved to be the beginning of the end.

In El Paso, Texas the Throwdown van broke down. We were on our way home, and I was riding in the TD van as I had much of that tour. People went in both vans, but somehow I was more comfortable in that van. I had some problems at home that had been building in me and had not eaten since Florida. 18V made the decision to head home. I started loading my stuff in the van and was met with a "what are you doing? You're staying here". And so I stayed with Throwdown for 2 days while the van got fixed.

I got home and was told by a girl that one of the members had told her "tell your friend Javier that the guy from xCLEARx is taking his place". I played two more shows with the band, one headlining show at Chain Reaction which was my "funeral" show, and one supporting Converge at the Showcase Theater.

I saw 18V four times after that. The release show for the "Best Of" CD, in Santa Cruz with Poison The Well, at a Warped Tour, and their last show. Over the years I had many ups and downs with the members, but I'd like to say things are cool now.

I tried my hardest to get everyone together to play with the "classic" lineup with Disembodied this coming June, and the attempt proved unsuccessful due to James' dedication to his new band Burn Halo.

I don't own a physical copy of Until The Ink Runs out, although I do have it on my iPod and crank it somewhat regularly. I am proud to have played on that record. It totally stands the test of time. I had the "master" copy from Doubletime but when my car was broken into it disappeared. I still get recognized for being in the band, which 9 years later to me seems crazy to me. But I'm happy that I have those time and I can say I played on an amazing, brutal, and fun album."

All I can say on top of this is that Eighteen Visions slayed 99% of the metalcore coming from this era but never got the recognition due to their "own hardcore fashion". Obviously the band got their fair share of recognition for doing so, but at the same time were dismissed by so many of the "true hardcore kids" (including myself at the time) which was obviously quite a shame. Watch the Hell Fest 2000 DVD (or VHS) and try to tell me that Eighteen Visions isn't every bit as intense as Buried Alive or Converge or any of the other bands from that era who get the respect they deserve.


Thursday, March 5, 2009


Someone told me I needed to "post some good shit". I informed this individual that I had been doing so quite regularly, but at the same time realized that a lot of the more recent posts have been rather similar (heavy as fuck hardcore). That being said I decided to mix it up a bit with this newest post. This probably won't be considered to be "good" either, but that's not my problem, haha.

While I don't want to attach the word "overhyped" to such legendary bands as pg99, Majority Rule, Saetia or the likes ... I will say that In Loving Memory was doing equally innovative things at the same time with a fraction of the recognition for doing so. Their location of Des Moines, IA was probably not helping their situation in this case. It probably did wonders for their "peculiarity", however. There are quite a few rather majestic acoustic riffs played amongst the chaotic spazz parts which gives the songs that little extra something that a lot of screamo bands lacked. I regretfully have no access to any lyrics, however, the lines that I CAN make out seem to be rather exemplary of the screamo genre.

These Mp3s were ripped by Joe of The Haunted Basement fame in Des Moines, IA. He went above and beyond his call of duty and provided Path To Misery with its best show on our entire 2008 summer tour. He also saved me from waiting potentially forever for the Init Records proposed In Loving Memory discography by ripping these tracks. The discography would supposedly include more tracks, but what is included here is their self-released CD-R featuring 10 tracks which were to be used for various splits. The only one which saw the light of day was a split 7" with Examination Of The... which is quite hard to come by. Also included within this upload are their 4 songs in which they contributed to a split cassette release with Black Market Fetus (who's tracks are being omitted on purpose). Some of the songs ended up being re-recorded for their 10 track CD-R.

If anyone has copies of any of this, I would obviously be more than excited to take them off of your hands. I could perhaps trade you more Junior High School Prom pictures of the members for these releases.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

DIE MY WILL: Discography

As promised ... this is the gem I've been working on for the past few weeks.

There aren't many releases from Pin Drop Records that make it to my turntable or CD player any more. The exception to this rule is obviously Die My Will (god knows its not the Polyglot/Fall From Grace split). I used to pick up everything from this label for whatever reason or another and looking back, it was well worth the money I wasted on the Holdstrong 7"s in order to stumble upon Die My Will. There's something about this band that put them years ahead of ANY of their contemporaries; especially within their general area.

Their debut, self-released and self-titled EP came out in 1996 on Drawn And Quartered Records, which was ran by bassist Todd Reynolds. The debut EP contained 8 tracks which would set the tone for what was to come from the band in the future; heavy, unrelenting, downtuned, innovative aggression. Not to be overshadowed, the lyrics of the band were every bit as potent as the music which was being created by this group. Touching on subjects not commonly done within the hardcore scene at the time, Die My Will escaped the monotony of the era in the lyrical department as effortlessly as they did musically. An explanation of the song "Homunculus" was given by lyricist Brandon Debrosky in an interview taken from Hurt Newsletter Zine.

"The song actually has a ton of different meanings and concepts within it. Some that I don't even think I can explain without writing a novel, but I will try to explain it as best I can as quick as I can. The song deals with the commonality of people looking for absolute truths, by which to live their lives. I think that most people, as I do, look for answers to everything in order to gain comfort in life. So we tend to put our trust or faith both consciously and unconsciously into different schools of thought and then disconcern ourselves with other contradictory concepts. Whether it is religion, logic or science, they represent the same thing for me. They are concepts we have constructed to deal with phenomenon that we can't understand without such framework. I think that it's dangerous to focus all of your beliefs on any one concept or idea. This type of thought process seems to lend itself to very close-mindedness. So the concept behind the song is that different truths by themselves may be useless and non-beneficial, but when everything is taken into account and excepted for what it is, together they can help lead to a very healthy and beneficial mindset. So in the song I tried to address this with imagery from different religious and social beliefs. Homunculus is the name of the man that ancient Egyptians believed lived in a person and controlled a persons health and humor. That's the basic concept behind the song"

The follow-up effort was a split 7" release with another CT local by the name of All You've Lost. If you were to listen to the All You've Lost tracks on their own, you would probably think it was considerably good for its time. However, when put up against the two tracks donated by Die My Will, the efforts of All You've Lost become instantaneously stale. The same can be said for the following two comps in which Die My Will took part in. Their tracks on the Call For Unity pt 2 (on Back Ta Basics) and Over The Edge pt 3 (on Endless Fight) render the other tracks worthless. Their contribution to the Back Ta Basics comp was a demo version for what was to appear on the And Still We Destroy full length while the track donated to Endless Fight was otherwise unreleased. A third track was recorded specifically for a compilation which was supposed to be released by Jamey Jasta through his Stillborn Records label which was to be entitled CT Brotherhood. The comp never came out and the track has since been lost, according to reports from band members. The song, entitled Laconic, lives ever-so-fondly in my imagination as one line of lyrics proclaims that we are "suffocation on our own existence" ... I couldn't say it better myself.

Die My Will took things to the next level with the release of their And Still We Destroy full length on the previously-mentioned Pin Drop Records. It was on this release that Die My Will attained legendary status in my mind. Pummeling listeners with the transitions between caveman-esque chug parts and intricate, yet distrubingly eerie acoustic pieces, the band set the standard for heavy in their era.

As with every release, the band managed to one-up themselves yet again with the release of their final recording session in the form of a split with Piecemeal. Everything about this session is ... I don't know ... just disgusting. The low-end presence on the recording is sickening and definitely imitated on the Path To Misery CD. The vocals are gut-wrenching in every sense of the word that I wouldn't use in any other aspect of life. The dissonance and drive of the guitars is surely capable of evoking some sort of inner, primal rage inherent in anyone who is conscious to the world around them. There's not enough that can be said of this final session and band in general.

Sadly the group disbanded not long after this release. As with any great band from their era, the band never received a fraction of the credit in which was due. Even if the band put the recordings out a decade later in which they did (aka now), they would still reign as the heaviest songs known to man. I know that in a previous post I had already labeled Disembodied as the heaviest band ever, but the point is that Die My Will is every bit as legendary as Disembodied amongst this genre; they just never received the credit that was due. I'm hoping that this post will start to reverse this trend if only in the minds of the couple hundred people who read this thing.

As a matter of fact, it seems as though my efforts are being coupled by that of a respectable label who is in talks with the band to collaborate on not only a remixed and remastered discography, but the potential of the recording of some previously unreleased tracks which were written at the same time as the tracks which appeared on the Piecemeal split. If things actually go through as planned, I will be the first one posting about it, rest assured.

Special thanks to Edwin at the One Path blog for the help with attaining several of the more rare Mp3s as well as Brandon from Die My Will who hooked me up with some of the insider information regarding the band (as well as allowing me to call off the search for those unreleased comps, haha). If everything goes as planned with the potential release of this discography on the currently undisclosed label PLEASE do yourself the favor of picking it up as it will contained remixed, remastered tracks as well as the equally relevant lyrics ... and hopefully those previously unreleased tracks which would make my life complete.

I was going to include a text file including all of their lyrics as I feel they were also years ahead of their time (bands STILL don't touch on some of these subjects) but I decided instead to post a link to their tripod-esque website which will serve as quite the trip down memory lane for anyone who simultaneously had the internet and was into DIY hardcore around 1999-2001.